Micheal O’Brien (Mob) is one of the regular posters in the RuneQuest Facebook Group. here’s some of his recent RuneQuest posts, only Mob’s replies are included where relevant. Facebook membership is required to access the originals.
Old Sun Dome
As one of the co-authors of the ‘Old Sun Dome’ scenario in RQ3’s Sun County, I was gratified to read Andrew Logan Montgomery‘s remarks that the ancient vampire in that adventure has left an impression that has “stayed with him for decades”.*Drew said he sees it as the vampire equivalent of Percy Shelly’s Ozymandius, “a terror made somehow sad and wasted by the desolation of centuries”, and I think that’s an excellent summation of this deathless horror that is so old it no longer remembers its name. It cannot recall where it came from or what deeds it did in mortal life. It has forgotten what tongues it once spoke.Its one delight is its undead state. The vampire revels in eternal life, mocking (though no longer fully understanding) the mortal races who are cursed by death. Whereas other Vivamorti have used the immortality to make themselves feared lords of power, the essentially selfish, introspective ego of this vampire has allowed it to remain content with just possessing what few others can have: an ageless, deathless existence.The vampire sleeps in a sealed chamber in the vaults of the Old Sun Dome, having dropped its funeral earth down there through a tiny fissure literally one grain at a time (you can do tasks like this when you literally have eternity to get them done). It spends years at a time in its safe, silent, secret crypt, coming out only to feed.Our vampire is described as “completely naked, its body covered in a fine filigree of armouring enchantments… hidden under centuries of grime.” So in the art direction we wanted to ensure there were none of the usual visual tropes you see with vampires. Here’s the finished piece from p.116 of Sun County – I think Roger Raupp did a brilliant job!
Two Sun Dome Temples in Prax
There are two Sun Dome Temples in Prax – the Sun Dome Temple and the deconsecrated Old Sun Dome Temple, which is shunned, haunted, and not talked about. We know from sources that in design, construction and layout, they are absolutely identical*. Both sites were constructed by Mostali stone masons from Pavis; in fact the very same masons worked on both from the original plans, which still exist in the temple archives.The Sun temple in New Pavis resembles the great Sun Dome Temple but is constructed differently. It’s adobe, like the rest of the buildings in New Pavis, with (I think) a dome made out gold-painted fabric stretched over a wooden frame. The great SDT (and the Old Sun Dome) is masonry: ashlar with a rubble core. The Yelmalio temples in Balazar are different again – they are made of cyclopean stone. The unifying feature is a hemispherical dome on a square.So while the New Pavis Yelmalio temple is built of inferior materials compared to the great Sun Dome Temple, that really doesn’t matter. There are scriptural directives setting out exactly how you should build a Sun Dome Temple, based on Dawn Age Dara Happan military specifications. But the holy writ is all about dimensions, proportions, (golden) ratios and mathematics, rather than the building materials per se. If you could build one out of papier-mâché knock yourself out, it just has to match the divine plan.Light, not Earth: it’s an ideal. You have to bring your temple into existence using whatever mortal materials you have.
*by ‘sources’ I of course mean RQ3’s ‘Sun County’. By having the Old Sun Dome identical to the new, we could thriftily reuse the same map!
While we should perhaps concoct a response more redolent with MGF, my prosaic answer is the Mostali were probably just paid with lots and lots of gold.
Maybe the Sun Domers paid them in “Black Gold”? As Jane says in her summation about this mysterious substance, over on her Secret History of Sun County page: “What would Sun County do with an oil well? Oil’s caused by buried dead plants: wasn’t there some Garden destroyed around here a while back? Better stop this before I convince myself: it makes far too much sense! (This little idea was almost certainly to blame for MOB’s insertion of Dallas jokes into every aspect of the History.)”
Jiminy Cricket! Are allied spirits a divine gift or a soul-crushing existential burden?
No wonder Rune Lords come across as living embodiments of their gods – “blessed” with a permanent mind link connection, their allied spirits are forever a palpable “inside voice” in their heads; always reminding, scolding, and tut-tutting. And ever-ready to rat on them to the Spirits of Reprisal if they don’t toe the line.(It’s also no wonder shadow cats are Wind Lords’ preferred allied spirit host; after all, they sleep 18 hours a day…)
Sun Dome Temples As Centres Of Banking And Finance
Following on from my Holey/Holy Wheels post, here’s some other (s)peculation about the Sun Domers…The Sun Dome Temples’ insistence that all exchanges are denominated in gold (“the gold standard”) is an indication of their less well-known but important roles as centres of banking and finance (and as secure, neutral treasuries for surrounding peoples).Even the Sun Dome Temple in Prax: the vaults there contain various treasures from the Praxian tribes, some for safe-keeping, away from the covetous hands of rivals and enemies, some as collateral for loans.Duke Raus of Rone also lodged the deeds to Weis Domain at the Praxian Sun Dome, after taking a large loan from Count Solanthos. This was to hire mercenaries after the Lunar governor peremptorily told him there were no longer any troops to spare for the Grantlands. (It is rumoured that the fabled Wand of the Seven Phases, Raus’s family heirloom, was later deposited in the vault too as further surety).Sun Dome Temples also accept securities on an inter-Temple scale, so you can deposit at one location and withdraw from another. There is even a special [cult secret] secondary use of the Seek Sun Dome spell that vouches for the bona fides of such arrangements.
I am writing short piece on the fabled blood paste that is the staple diet of the Sun Dome Templars. It really is something of an acquired taste, kind of like the way Vegemite is for us Aussies. Same consistency too!
Like the Egibis were in Achaemenid Mesopotamia, Issaries are the acknowledged market leader, and probably have the broadest reach (and maybe will go into certain places other won’t). If the Sun Domers have a verifiable way of checking the bona fides of a credit note (Seek Sun Dome), bringing in outside professionals to carry it – or having your Lokarnos agent join an Issaries caravan – is no concern.But other cultures have their own trade gods to carry out similar functions (Etyries, Lokarnos, Argan Argar, etc). Even the Kyger Litor cult uses credit notes, see ‘Balastor’s Barracks’. And we now see the true and secret purpose of the Yelorna temple/coining operation in the Big Rubble; breaking the Sun Dome/Lokarnos banking cartel.BTW, some say the smarter money invests with the Temple of Chalana Arroy, as your investment becomes collateral on any future healing you might need. Fortunately, the Sun Dome Temple has an attached Chalana Arroy Hospital for such ethical investors.
“Holy Wheels Or Holey Wheels?”
During the Time of Two Counts, a curious monetary innovation was introduced in New Pavis. Count-in-exile Belvani, after being driven out of the Old Sun Dome, established his rival court in the Suntown quarter of New Pavis. There he plotted his return to Sun County.Among other upheavals, the end of Lunar rule in Prax led to a critical lack of coinage in New Pavis, stifling trade, taxation, and tribute. With his eyes on conquests of his own back in Dragon Pass, King Argrath required Belvani to pay him a huge sum in order to be recognised as the legitimate count of Sun County.
Lacking the tax base of Sun County or access to its treasury, and not yet secure as the leader in Suntown, Belvani hit upon a curious innovation to raise this amount. He ordered his Lokarnos priest Thandren Clubfoot to gather together all the gold coinage in Sun Town for a “special blessing”, with the promise that the funds would be returned “in full” to their rightful owners.
On the Lokarnos holy day in Fire Season, 1626 Thandren Clubfoot enacted a strange new iteration of the Coin Wheel ritual in the forecourt of the Sun Dome Temple in Pavis. Before him was heaped an enormous stash of the gold coins. One-by-one, a hole was punched in the centre of each gold Wheel. The resulting centre coin was then stamped with a sunburst on one side and Belvani’s visage on the other.By the end of the day there stood two piles of coins: the centre pieces, and the outer rims. Although each mutilated Wheel now had a perfectly round hole in their middle, Belvani decreed that their value remained the same as before (worth 20 silvers). These coins were returned to their owners. There was some discontent at this, but Belvani called upon Yelmalio to rebuke him if he did wrong, and the heavens were silent.
Because of the blessing, or more probably because of what they looked like, these coins became known as Holy/Holey Wheels. (They were not accepted in Sun County itself; Countess Vega ordered all such coins found there to be confiscated and melted down, with no compensation.)The centre coins Belvani gathered up and were used to pay his tribute to King Argrath. Belvani presented them in an ostentatious ceremony where he indeed did then receive the recognition he craved. It appears Argrath soon after took these coins to Dragon Pass with him, where he probably had them melted down for bullion. A gold ‘Belvani’ is ostensibly worth 13 silvers. However, they did not enter general circulation and as such are extremely rare; consequently, they are considerably more valuable than that to a discerning numismatist.