2020-12 Jeff on Facebook

Jeff Richard is one of the regular posters in the RuneQuest Facebook Group. here’s some of his recent RuneQuest posts, only Jeff’s replies are included where relevant. Facebook membership is required to access the originals.

As an aside, I often post notes or things that I am working on that I think people will find interesting or useful. But I am posting this material without edits or revisions – they are all notes or works in progress. If people really expect me to edit or revise such ephemera before I post it, I am probably not going to post such things.

Jeff Richard, 2021

Newest at top, oldest at bottom.

Because people find titles and their meaning interesting, here’s a short summary of the most commonly used titles in Theyalan:

Chief

Theyalan. Literally means “Great One; Most Important; Big Man” and denotes the leader of a kinship group or other community (such as a temple). The most common Theyalan title and sometimes transliterated as “Lord”.

Thane

Theyalan. Literally means “Martial Companion,” this denotes a member of the Orlanthi martial aristocracy. Often transliterated as “Lord”.

King

Theyalan. (1) Literally means “Martial Leader of the Assembly” or “Martial Leader of the Council”. Typically denotes the leader of a tribe or a group of tribes with a combined martial and sacral role. Sometimes denotes the leader of city-state (see also, City Rex and Queen below). (2) Husband or consort of a ruling queen.

Rex

Theyalan. Literally means “(Divinely-sanctioned) Leader.” Denotes the incarnation of Orlanth Rex. Often synonymous with King or Prince, but not always. See also City Rex.

City Rex

Theyalan. Literally means “City (Divinely-sanctioned) Leader.” This title denotes the leader of a city council or assembly, who typically has a variety of martial and executive responsibilities.

Prince

Theyalan. Literally means “First; Foremost.” Denotes the ruler of a confederation of tribes or cities.

QueenTheyalan. (1) Feminine of the title “king”. (2) Wife or consort of a king. (3) Transliteration of a title that literally mean “Great Mother”. Denotes the head of an Ernalda temple or priestess-ruler of an Esrolian city or group of cities.

God-King

Theyalan. Title for the divine Ruler of the Sixths of the Holy Country.

Is ‘Prince’ unisex? Not unisex. It is a masculine term. Theyalan languages are most likely grammatically gendered like PIE.

So masculine, feminine, and neuter (which might also be used for inanimate things without a gender). I suspect that written Theyalan uses all sorts of classifiers devised by OCD Lhankor Mhy scribes.

Stormtongue might have five or six grammatical genders (masculine, inverted masculine, feminine, inverted feminine, and neuter), but I wouldn’t try to keep track of all that.

Chief is an older title, going back to the Dawn if not before. And it is used in a lot of contexts – it literally just means “Big Man”. “Thane” is a much newer title and comes from the Second Age. It is much more specific as to what it means.

So there might be more thanes than chiefs, but the word “chief” is used for any leader of a community or temple.

While thanes always means a member of the Orlanthi martial aristocracy.

You’d probably call the head of your household “chief” even though they are not a chief. And that person might be a thane, but not a chief, but get called by his family “chief”.That’s how titles actually tend to get used in the Real World. Legal codes (like the Brehon Law) make lots of fine degrees of difference, that then get ignored in practice.

So your Lhankor Mhy character can get plenty frustrated at the Orlanthi Wind Lord that calls himself “chief” because he leads a band of warriors (“you are not a Chief Nisk, you are a Thane!”), but everyone else goes along with “Chief” Nisk.

So one of the titles I truly hated using for the leader of a Sartarite city was “mayor.” Perhaps because I used to work with US mayors, but I always felt it was an annoying medieval anachronism at best or conjured images of a fat guy with a top hat and a cigar at worst. Since the new material coming out for Sartar has a lot of stuff on Sartarite cities, I’ve been forced to really work out a lot of details on how these cities function. And it forced me to reconsider the title of “Mayor”. After much discussion, we agreed a better title is “City Rex” – as that really is what the office is, the Orlanth Rex for the City. The City Rex acts as the Prince’s representative in the city, and is the chief military and judicial figure in the city.And then I re-read a 40 year old file from Greg on Wilmschurch and Jonstown, and saw what the title of the city leader was.

In the new Sartar materials, Orlanth Rex comes up a LOT.

The City Rex is the Rex for the city. Nice and self-referential.

And it means Lunar sources can go on about the King of Jonstown and the King of Swenstown, and everything can get all nice and confusing.

So think of “polis” – that would be Boldhome, Jonstown, Swenstown, Wilmskirk, Alone, Alda-Chur, and Duck Point. Largely self-governing, with member tribes, its own assembly, its own ring, etc.Clearwine is legally an overgrown village. It is where the tribal assembly and most of the tribal cults are located, but it has no independent existence outside of the Colymar tribe and Ernaldoring Clan.

That’s the core difference between a town and a city in Sartar. So in terms of population, Clearwine is about the same size as Alone. But Alone is a CITY (think “polis”) and Clearwine is a mere town.

The Sartarite cities are legally their “own thing”. They don’t belong to a given tribe, but are formed by a confederation of several tribes – with the city as the “shared space”. The public thing.

I think an inn and a shrine to Issaries makes a town. Think Clearwine, Quackford, RuneGate, Herongreen, etc.

The City Rex primarily serves as the Prince’s representative on the City Ring, the war leader, and the chief judge.

Pavis is a little different, because it was outside of the Prince’s authority. Dorasor served as the first City Rex but he appointed himself, and then was acclaimed by the populace.

this is a very important thing to keep in mind. Sun Quarter and Riverside are just as much a part of New Pavis as Oldtown. The city is the “shared space” of all its members.

Or as I already wrote in the Sartar book:In 1476 Sartar made the first of his more subtle changes on the land when he settled a war wherein the southern Kultain and Locaem tribes were driving out the Balmyr and Sambari tribes from their ancient lands. Out of such destruction Sartar forged the foundation of the first of his five cities, and began changing the peoples to make a great nation. Each city is the “shared space” of a union of tribes, and serves as a primary market and religious center. Other groups or tribes may also have a share in the city but have less say over how the city is operated. Although Orlanth and Ernalda have temples in each city, minor deities and even foreign deities have temples and shrines.

The City Rex is of course the priest of Orlanth Rex for the city. And that makes him very important.

Sartar also instituted the position of City Rex to represent city residents in the city’s ring. The Prince typically nominates a City Rex from among his friends and companions, but must be acclaimed by the assembly. If the citizens reject the City Rex, the Prince must nominate a new candidate. The City Rex leads the city militia, appoints scribes, and oversees city funds. The City Rex serves as a priest of Orlanth Rex and communicates with the spirit of the city.

No Rex at town, village, etc. Rex is big Orlanth magic. But probably you’d really say something like Orngerin, Jonstown Rex.

Because of course the Rex of Jonstown is communicating with a different spirit (Hauberk Jon) than the Rex of Wilmskirk.

The Rex of Boldhome is of course the Prince.

Please don’t use “Dar” rite. That whole Dar/Vingkot thing was just a muddled mess.

Rex” has been in use for the Orlanth cult and is just awkward enough to make it clear that it is “not identical to a real world office” without having the confusion of being a made up fantasy word or extinct title from another language.

In each of his cities, Sartar created the City Ring. It was similar to the Clan or Tribal Ring, but allowed people from each of the tribes and the important crafting guilds to serve on it. They were also the candidates to serve in the many new temples erected in the city. Members of the City Ring are initiates of the Orlanth Rex cult for as long as they serve on the City Ring.

As an aside, this completes the triangle of Orlanth aspects.

Thunderous – elemental association, rain, and farmers.

Adventurous – movement, warriors, self-made men

Rex – rule, leadership, command.These aspects both complement and contradict each other.

During the Lunar Occupation, the city assemblies were permitted to pick their own rulers, subject to Imperial approval. The City Rings lost much of their authority, as most duties were delegated to city administrators appointed by the Lunar governor. Insubordinate city leaders were typically killed by the Lunars, and many prominent figures refused the position of City Rex because of the dangers inherent in the office.

Would the City Rex also lead the worship of the city god? Yes, Again Pavis is something of an exception. Pavis of course was pre-existing. So Dorasar made a deal with the God Pavis to bring him into the new settlement of Pavis-Outside-the-Walls. But Orlanth Rex was still the god of the assembly.

Lord is actually another term used for Chief.

As we already have Orlanth Rex, and “Rex” as titles that are distinguished with Orlanth the King and “King”, that door is opened.

I’m glad ‘Dar’ has been ditched and ‘Rex’ has been reinstated! that whole Dar/Vingkot thing from Thunder Rebels was just a muddled mess that made the Brehon Law look practical and realistic.

The priesthood of the cult of Sartar – that’s the Orlanth Rex for all the tribes of Sartar, aka the Prince of Sartar – is restricted to members of Sartar’s lineage. Generally the eldest son was acclaimed as the head of the family, following the example of Sartar designating Saronil as his heir. But not always – for example Sarotar and Rastoran both died before their fathers, and Tarkalor and Salinarg were acclaimed as the best candidates but not sons of the ruling Prince.Kallyr’s grandfather was a son of Jarolar who died at the Battle of Dwarf Ford in 1557. Argrath’s lineage is even more distant – his grandmother was the Triceratops Queen, who was in turn the granddaughter of Onelisin the Cat Witch, the famed daughter of Prince Saronil, and the subject of many songs and stories.These genealogies are going to be pretty well-known. Lots of Colymar knew Maniski and Yanioth Two Sight. Many more knew Arene the Triceratops Queen, whose herd of dinosaurs destroyed the village of Janastan in the Moaning Valley.

2020 has definitely been a year that Eurmal has been very active!

This is of course a work in progress by the great Loïc Muzy.

Sacred clown societies really influenced how I view Eurmal.

For the Orlanthi, intoxicating beverages include wine (for feasts and religious celebrations), beer (for everyday drinking and enjoyment), cannabis, hazia, dreamweed, opium, and a variety of mushrooms. Wine and beer are often “flavoured” with herbs or narcotics. The Dara Happans have always considered the Orlanthi to be effeminate and soft, prone to overindulgence and passion, and overly fond of luxuries. I think the Orlanthi fondness for intoxicants (remember Orlanth himself regularly dosed himself up with Crazy Widebrew before questing) is part of this.A good Lunar Heartlander looks at the Orlanthi as a people ruled by their women, without self-constraint, undisciplined and disorganised. They are easily bought but do not stay bought. They are effeminate – their tattoos and makeup prove it, and their concern about hair and other display reinforces that. Their women go bare-breasted and couple like animals, discarding their husbands for lovers.At the same time, I suspect that the Lunar elite clandestinely indulge in “Orlanthi vices” and a good living can be made bringing Orlanthi drinks and narcotics into the Heartlands.

Hazia is more of an opiate. It is not opium. Hazia is a euphoric substance derived from the crushed stamens of a plant native to the Stinking Forest.

I see hazia as being not unlike kava, the psychoactive mind-opening root that has been used as a ceremonial, religious, and social libation across the Pacific islands for thousands of years. Of an evening folks in Vanuatu retire to a nakamal – a sort of village club house – to ritualistically and convivially drink kava from a communal bowl. For even seasoned drinkers it’s very bitter, and your tongue goes numb (speaking from experience here). But unlike alcohol which can make people querulous, the more kava you take the more relaxed and open-minded you become. Even though the puritanical leadership in Sun County Prax have banned the practice, I imagine the farmers there still sneak off to huts hidden in the fields to take hazia to shrug off their cares for a while and be at peace with the universe.

MOB, December 2021

Drug addiction probably is reasonably common – at least psychological addiction. We know hazia is very addictive (see the rules), although cannabis and mushrooms are not physically addictive. Based on my players, it is rare I have a party of adventurers without at least one addict.

For example, I often imagine that at the charnel grounds where corpses are burned, Humakti often throw intoxicating herbs into the coals and then stand around contemplating Death.

And thus this might well be a common Humakti motif:

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/af/b3/f9/afb3f90859db8273d66d6109ef847634.jpg?fbclid=IwAR02z84ShzrIlbWdh8ByHTjUL8AxdMnNGKaKmHkyfqywD90Druy9JiCzngg

As for the Lunars, they traditionally drink beer made of maize or barley, or rice wine.

So contrary to the stereotype of the Lunars having lots of exotic delicacies, the basic staples of the Pelorian lowlands are maize, barley, and rice. Fish, pork, and fowl are the main meats; cattle and sheep are more common in the Provinces and in Sylila and Doblian. The exotic foods – wine, spices, herbs, etc. – are imported from elsewhere, either Dragon Pass or Kralorela.

Many noble city dwellers in the Heartlands make virtue of the less varied traditional Pelorian diet, holding that its simplicity makes the Heartlanders stronger and more virtuous than the Orlanthi, with their spiced meats, chilled wines, and intoxicants.

The main purpose of smuggling is to avoid tax and toll, or to get around cult monopolies. I don’t think the Sartarites prohibit narcotics at all and in fact would likely find the idea odd.But they do impose tolls on goods and markets, and people do try to avoid them. In truth, that’s what most smuggling in history has been about.

Apple wine (apple cider) is very common. But it is probably more seasonal than beer or wine.

But also it is worth keeping in mind that both cultures are very different. Meanwhile the Orlanthi are likely telling stories about how the Lunars keep their wives locked in harems, how they only interact with prostitutes or priestesses (and can’t tell the difference), how they are afraid of sex with women (that’s why they represent the vagina as Gorgorma, of course), their fear of nudity, and so on. And their taboos! I mean those Dara Happans are worse than Yelmalions or Humakti, and get nothing for it.

 the Yelmalions worship Ernalda, and not tame and obedient Dendara.

I suspect that the distance between most urban Lunars and their rural Lodrilli peasantry is as far away as Dragon Pass. We all know that the Pelorian rice and barley farmers rut like animals, have no true marriage just couplings, are lazy and deceitful, and always put their own belly first. They need to be ruled like children, sternly and fairly.

I’m interested in the recreational alcohol and drug use of Lodril farmers. Rice wine, maize and barley beer, and lots of it.

One more bit from Grainger that I find very Gloranthan:”At the end of any war, a conference was held in which peace terms were worked out. This was frequently between high advisers for each king, the meeting taking place in the main city of one of the protagonists. The negotiations were only preliminary, and peace was only actually made when the two kings involved took oaths to observe it – that is, the oaths signified the ratification of the peace terms; until that point the terms could be rejected or renegotiated.The significance of the process, especially the oaths the kings swore, was that after the peace agreement they could not fight each other for as long as they both lived, or they would be foresworn; it also meant that when one of them died the other felt free to launch a new war.”

So with the Lunar Empire, conflict continues until the defeated ruler submits to the Red Emperor, swears the oaths of peace, and is then welcomed within the Empire, likely as a provincial ruler.

An interesting snippet from Grainger’s “Kings and Kingship in the Hellenistic World, 350-30 BC”:”For the ordinary population, the king was akin to a natural force, a power of nature. He was something who remained at a great distance, his actions were unpredictable, often irresponsible, his needs could affect adversely a whole population, his arrival in an area could well be devastating. He thus behaved in much the same way as the gods might. They sent thunder and lightning, floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, just as kings might send armies or seize temple treasuries. So if prayer, or fawning, or flattery, could dissuade him from any adverse action of this type – even a visit – it was clearly worth attempting…. Since ordinary people did not really regard the Olympian gods as benevolent deities capable of interfering in people’s lives in any way except capriciously, this attitude inevitably transferred itself to the kings, whose power might be regarded as divine-like, but who were also to be regarded as uncontrolled forces, whose effects on ordinary lives could be as mercurial as those of any god.”

Sounds like Argrath and Moonson or Harrek, or even Jar-eel. The ancients, and I include Gloranthans with that, did not have a presumption that kings or emperors would be “like us” or even have our individual best interests at heart. They were akin to natural forces. If I recall, this bit from Plutarch is right on point:Alexander the Great visited the Delphic Oracle wishing to hear a prophecy that he would soon conquer the entire ancient world. To his surprise the oracle refused a direct comment and asked him to come later. Furious, Alexander dragged Pythia by the hair out of the chamber until she screamed “You are invincible, my son!”ἀνίκητος εἶ ὦ παῖ.The moment he heard these words he dropped her, saying, “Now I have my answer”.

the truth is, kings are evil. Anyone who wants to be a god is a monster. The titans were right. And they gave us ripe fruit, and summer storms, and the beauty and deadliness of the sea. But they do not pretend to be human. Praise Prometheus, who only shared what was stolen.

Tribal kings are something much less than these kings and princes.

Ethilrist is not in this same league. He is the Eternal Mercenary, easily bought (if expensive) and once bought he remains loyal to the terms of his contract.

Sheng Seleris is likely still worshiped by the Pentan tribes. He doesn’t provide anything at this time, but I suspect he is still regarded as divine. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he is clandestinely worshiped (in a propitiatory manner) by some in Peloria and Kralorela. Always better to be on the safe side!

Aram ya-Udram riding atop a great boar. Cults of Glorantha – Chaosium Inc.

Thats a big change from their current runes. That’s Aram, not the Bloody Tusk.

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