2021-09 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

Table of Contents


    The cult of Eurmal the Trickster is surprisingly important in Sartar. The Orlanthi hold that clowns and tricksters are essential in contact with the sacred. Laughter and humor are a part of every ceremony, even the most serious, because laughter opens and frees one from rigid preconception. Tricksters are needed in the most sacred ceremonies because the sacred comes through upset, reversal, and surprise. Orlanthi gods and heroes can be foolish in one tale and wise in the next, helpful and then villains.This may be tough to grasp with our Western ethics and morality, but the Orlanthi are perhaps more open to life’s multiplicity and paradoxes than we are. The sacred is both wondrous and terrible, and heroes like Arkat and Argrath represent both.

    Art by the amazing Agathe Pitié of course.

    The Trickster as a cultural hero runs deep with the Orlanthi. Not just Eurmal, but Orlanth, Humakt, and all the Lightbringers have a touch of the Trickster. And that is perfectly accepted by the Orlanthi and held as an important part of their religious life. I think this gets easily missed by us Westerners who are often clueless to the nature of the sacred.


    A social oddity and convenience for the Orlanthi, Clowns are Tricksters and, as such, can get away with almost any social disruption and trouble because of the useful functions they provide through showing what is serious, absurd, baffling, or wrong, fearful or comical about life and the cosmos. The Orlanthi recognize this as powerful magic that both disrupts and helps to maintain the cosmos.Another function of the Clown is that of public scapegoat, for whenever there is some official cause to find a person at fault the Clowns are the ones chosen. They may be outlawed, driven out of town, or (rarely) killed.Until they are used as scapegoats, Clowns can violate sacred laws freely while they carry out their ritual roles. However, Clowns are required to dress in special costume to enjoy this protection. Some initiates paint their body with black and white stripes, cover themselves with mud or filth, wear false phalluses, or simply wear their clothing backwards and inside out.Clowns sometimes appear—usually without invitation—at the ceremonies of other Orlanthi cults and mock them along with other attendees. At other public ceremonies, clowns may dance out of step, sing out of tune, and imitate cult and other societal leaders. They beg food, throw food away, or are gluttons. They even use magical regalia in inappropriate ways, engage in foolish, silly, or even obscene side-shows, often with respected members of the community.

    Eurmal is outside of all social conventions, including gender. Tricksters are known to deliberately defy and even mock such conventions – even in the most sacred rituals!

    Gorangian Bronzeguts

    Gorangian Bronzeguts the chief librarian of the Jonstown Knowledge Temple by the amazing Anna Orlova! One thing I love about this is that Gorangian is not a particular heroic figure, but is an example of an important member of Sartarite society who is not part of the martial aristocracy or the Earth temples. Not only that, Gorangian is originally from Esrolia – an example of the ties between Sartar and that ancient Queendom.

    Artist, Anna Orlova

    Scribes are, of course, an important part of Sartarite society, and many served the Princes of Sartar.

    This is tied into Sartar’s position as a center of trade. The wealth generated by trade supports scribes in each of the cities (with the most being in Boldhome). This in turn means that there are scribes recording poems, histories, myths, mathematics, philosophy, wisdom literature, drama, and even prose fiction! There are nearly 1500 Lhankor Mhy initiates in Sartar (400 in Boldhome alone!), which means there is likely an impressive output of writing in Sartar.So I can completely imagine a Sartarite Herodotus who has traveled from Boldhome to Glamour, spent years in the Holy Country and Handra, and perhaps even sailed to Seshnela, Teshnos, or Jrustela, and is now composing their Histories. In fact, this would make a GREAT Lhankor Mhy character!

    How many LM initiates would you expect the average rural clan to have? not many – I expect most people who want to be scribes go to the cities, where they have the temples, libraries, patrons, etc. Which is totally normal – just look at many Greek scholars who originally came from rural Greece, but ended up in Athens, Alexandria, Pergamon, etc.

    So when you all imagine Sartar, remember also that this is also a kingdom of scribes, of texts, and of libraries. Nochet may have the equivalent of the Library of Alexandria, but Sartar then is Pergamon, with its great collection of texts and manuscripts.

    The core of the Lightbringers Religion

    Dragon Pass and the Holy Country are the core of the Lightbringers Religion. Now people always grasp that includes Orlanth and Ernalda, but do not underestimate the societal importance of Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, and Lhankor Mhy. These six cults are the foundation of Orlanthi society and religion. Between two-thirds and three-fourths of all adults are initiated into at least one of these cults. In rural areas, Orlanth and Ernalda overwhelmingly predominate, but in the cities, there are nearly as many initiates of Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, and Lhankor Mhy collectively as there are Orlanth and Ernalda.

    people sometimes forget that Orlanth is also one of the Lightbringers – and that the Orlanthi religion includes the whole group at the centre. It is like someone focussing solely on Zeus and Hera, and forgetting about Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Hades, Poseidon, Demeter, Hesta, Aphrodite, and Hermes.

    The Orlanthi are polytheistic, not henotheistic.

    The Culbrea

    The Culbrea are an example of a Sartarite tribe under considerable distress as a result of the Lunar Occupation and Rebellion. There are four “stable” clans – the Elk, Jotaring (aka Two Pine), Lorthing, and Mathiording clans. They have an average population of around 750 each, with the Lorthing being the largest clan.Then there are five clans that have an average of 300 members each – too few to be a stable organisation. They are hunters, raiding bands, or religious orders more than stable social groups. They include the Barlamani, Blue Spruce, Orlamani, Owl, and Red Vireo Clans, and most are little more than a leader, his entourage, and their followers and supporters. For example, the Blue Spruce are the entourage of Elmalandti the Priest and household, while the Barlamani clan are now little more than the household warriors of King Ranulf. Unless things change dramatically, in the next few years I expect that at least two or three of these small clans to either disband or merge into other clans in order to survive.

    I am very tempted to center my next RQ campaign on one of these “distressed” clans.

    The Blue Spruce would be fun. A clan that has taken over one of the Principality’s defensive towers (Jarolar Keep) during the Rebellion, and are locked in conflict with the Telmori Tribe. Plus they have the best Christmas Trees in Sartar!

    The distressed clans occupy contested or marginal lands

    • Barlamani – Elendra’s Graze
    • Blue Spruce – around Jarolar Keep (which they occupy)
    • Orlamanni – between Hill of Orlanth Victorious
    • FingerOwl – along the Owl Flight Crest
    • Red Vireo – along the Old Saint’s Road


    Glamour, not the Tripolis, is the cultural, religious, and political center of the Lunar Empire. Now over four hundred years old, it was founded by a polyglot group of devotees of the Lunar Way and ruled by Moonson, even during that brief time that a Yelmic emperor ruled in allied Raibanth. Moonson then became co-emperor and then sole emperor – think Nerva and Trajan. Imagine it now like Antioch on the Orontes (founded by Seleucus) during the Roman Empire, or Baghdad under the Seljuks.Furthest in many ways is the city most like Glamour. It was founded as a Lunar city about the same time as Boldhome was made Sartar’s city. It is was settled by folk from the Lunar Heartlands who followed Hon-eel to Dragon Pass. Furthest is not a Tarshite city so much as a Lunar city, and it operates somewhat outside the network of clans and traditional kinship groups that characterize most Orlanthi cities (although it has those too). A good real world point of comparison is Alexandria Eschate – aka “Alexandria the Furthest”. Between Furthest and Glamour are the Dara Happan Tripolis (well, two of the three – Alkoth and Raibanth), the beautiful artistic center that is Jillaro-on-the-Green with its Daughter’s Roads, and Saird. Mirin’s Cross by all accounts a city of administrative rather culture importance – like Mediolanum or Nicomedia under Diocletian.

    Map of Antioch:https://img1.wsimg.com/isteam/ip/7c6f1586-73a8-4690-b246-321b19fabb51/antioch1.jpg/:/cr=t:14.93%25,l:14.93%25,w:70.15%25,h:70.15%25/rs=w:1280?fbclid=IwAR3NRtk7ISiw-CxebICyhRwLsdYo_LD0fsv7HXRjUa08Ligcb2KOJrfBAqM

    Was it inevitable that the Lunar Empire would come into a death lock with the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass? Many historians think not – and until the Sixth Wane, many would assume that a renewed threat from the Pentan tribes would have been the greater concern for the Red Emperor. But after the Nights of Horror that threat was ended. There simply were no Pentans left – or at least too few to worry about. For the next century, the Lunar Empire was able to put the traditional Pelorian fear of nomadic nations aside and went adventuring. Unfortunately, those adventures started awakening more dangerous adversaries right about the time that the Pentans had recovered their numbers and their fears had finally dissipated. (See that use of the past tense?)

    The Lunars and Chaos

    The Red Goddess – a normally benevolent goddess, who freed Peloria from Carmanian bondage and liberated their minds from fear and hate – is a Chaos deity. She has the Runes of Moon, Chaos, and Life. This paradox is a source of her power, but also the source of the unwavering antagonism with the Storm Gods (Orlanth, Storm Bull, Humakt, and even the more peaceable Lightbringers) and their cults. It is also the source of her antagonism with the cults of Darkness (Kyger Litor, Zorak Zoran especially). The mastery of the Crimson Bat is a constant reminder of this connection.The Seven Mothers are NOT tainted by Chaos, but they helped bring her into existence. They aid the Red Goddess by wielding powers she lacks, and being able to interact with powers that reject her.Most Lunars believed that the Red Goddess shall free the world from bondage and liberate the minds and souls of all. This is her promise and much of the appeal of the Lunar Religion even in places like Sartar.Most Orlanthi believed the Red Goddess is one of the Lords of Terror, Gbaji reborn, and the harbinger of a new Gods War. This is why she is hated and feared and even rival gods are willing to cooperate against her.Both view points are likely true. Once the Lunar Way came into direct conflict with the Orlanthi, perhaps the Hero Wars were inevitable.

    What drives the conflict is that the Red Goddess embraces Chaos and Orlanth rejects it. The Red Goddess is a Greater Goddess created within Time and Orlanth is pledged to the Cosmic Compromise. The Red Goddess is the daughter of Yelm (in some form or another) and her son is heir to his Empire. thus inheriting the ancient conflicts between Dara Happa and the World Council of Friends (repeated with the EWF and Dara Happa/Carmania).

    My point is the origin of the cosmic conflict between Air and Moon is older and deeper than Justice or empire. It is seeded in the Gods War and it’s resolution, in the nature of the cosmos.

    Themes In The Hero Wars

    Several themes permeate this epic. You should not state these openly. They are long-term, ongoing challenges to the adventurers as they work their way through the end times of their world. They should be revealed through events, not didactic lectures or moralizing.


    Early events in the campaign need to establish the everyday reality of the adventurers’ lives. Events are important at the personal and local level. Through play you should establish cultural norms, personal priorities, family and group relationships, friends and enemies, short- and long-term goals and otherworld connections. Rather than reward the adventurers with easily fungible coins, give them land and herds, rights and responsibilities. Ground them in the material reality of the setting, even as the campaign enters into mythic realms and magical conflict.Always play the campaign from these perspectives. Keep the players focused on their characters’ priorities.It is from this personal level that the campaign will take its epic scope.


    The adventurers live in a realm that is rapidly changing. It begins small and gets larger by degrees. The adventurers are concerned with their personal priorities first, and then these may work with or conflict with their social group. Then these may work with or against their social priorities; then their cultural norms; then their cosmic realities.As more time passes each of these levels of truth may come into conflict. And in fact, old priorities will change.


    The Hero Wars initially appears to be a simple conflict between the expansionist Lunar Empire and traditional Orlanthi in Sartar. Such initial understandings are deceptive – the Hero Wars are a many-faceted conflict between the gods and Chaos, between two antagonists who are their respective Shadows, between the Elder Races and humanity, and a renewal of the ancient wars between Nysalor-Gbaji and Arkat. Sworn enemies will find themselves fighting side-by-side against former friends. Long-held sacred truths will be exposed to be untrue, and new truths unveiled.This complexity might only reveal itself after many sessions of play.


    In Glorantha, the maxim “as above, so below” applies to most things. This is shorthand to explain the interaction between the gods and individual people. Everyone in Glorantha has associations which cause influence between the individual and the gods and these influences are always acting. The Glorantha Runes are one way of understanding this maxim. Thus, a feud between two tribes may echo ancient conflicts between gods, and peace between individuals may require re-enacting an ancient myth. Similarly, conflicts between communities may parallel and embody the larger conflicts of the Hero Wars.


    Each of us have our own “shadow” – that unconscious part of ourselves that remains with us although we consciously reject it. In Glorantha, this is cosmically true as well. In the Hero Wars, characters may find themselves embracing their shadows in order to survive; some heroquests, most notably the Lightbringers Quest, requires the participants to do so.During the course of the campaign, traditionalist Orlanthi may find themselves accepting Illumination and working with Lunar deities, and devout Lunars may find themselves working with rebel Orlanthi to destroy the Red Moon itself.

    Artist, Michelle Lockamy)

    Any starting date works. 1621 is no better for that than 1625 or 1635.

    Kheldon Tribe

    Some notes on the Kheldon Tribe that might be of interest:

    The Kheldon or “Red-Haired” tribe came into Dragon Pass circa 1400, as part of the Second Wave of settlement. They were led by the Red Haired Women and settled in the Killard Vale, the sacred valley where the demigod Heort was born. They were originally called the Black Rock clan and got their name from a black stone that Orlanth hurled from the heavens and gave to the Red Haired Women as a weapon.The Kheldon appointed themselves the guardians of the Four Sacred Hills, but permitted other groups to offer sacrifices and even have shrines and temples at these sacred sites. When Sartar came to the land, the Kheldon Ring pledged their support and friendship, and the tribe has always been closely linked to the House of Sartar.At this time, the Kheldon have about 4000 members in their tribal lands. They have about 1600 free adults, 600 semi-free tenants and herders, 1200 children and 110 notables, in about 170 households. They are divided four clans:

    Black Rock Clan. This is a large and powerful clan, led by the Vinga cult and its “Red-Haired Women.” They number about 1300 members, and claim the lands around the Four Sacred Hills, although much of the clan resides in Boldhome or Lambnet Fort.

    Deer Clan: This clan farms the rich valley lands between Goodfork and Lambnet Fort.

    Vanstali: This clan is centered on Guilder Town and Swenstown. They control the rich mines north of Guilder Town.

    Heran: At 700 members, this is the smallest of the Kheldon clans, and controls the hills around Two-Hour Town.

    The four Kheldon clans

    The most famous member of the Black Rock clan is of course Kallyr Starbrow.

    I kind of imagine the Killard Vale as being something like the valley of Estes Park, for those familiar with that area. It is this almost magical valley high up (its elevation is about 1000 meters), surrounded by mountains and high distinct hills. Maybe it is the Jackson Hole of Glorantha.

    I’m sure with a little thought I can find some good comparison points in the Alps, Pyrenees or the Cantrabrians.


    The Kheldon or “Red-Haired”tribe came into Dragon Pass circa 1400, as part of the Second Wave of settlement. They were led by the Red Haired Women and settled in the Killard Vale, the sacred valley where the demigod Heort was born. The clan got their name from a black stone that Orlanth hurled from the heavens and gave to the Red Haired Women as a weapon. The Kheldon appointed themselves the guardians of the Four Sacred Hills, but permitted other groups to offer sacrifices and even have shrines and temples at these sacred sites. When Sartar came to the land, the Kheldon Ring pledged their support and friendship, and the tribe has always been closely linked to the House of Sartar.The Kheldon are now a small tribe of four clans, closely connected with Boldhome and the royal dynasty. Their lands straddle the royal road between Boldhome and Swenstown, and they control the rich Killard Vale, the “granary of Boldhome”, the silver mines near Guilder Town, and many important Orlanthi holy sites. These resources have given them influence far beyond their numbers. The matrilineal Black Rock clan play a leading role in tribal affairs and have lands around Sacred Top and Lambnet Fort.As queen of the Kheldon tribe, Kallyr Starbrow of the Black Rock clan was instrumental in leading the Sartarite tribes to revolt during the 1613 rebellion that bears her name. After Starbrow’s Rebellion, she was exiled, and the Kheldon lands were directly administered by the Lunar Provincial Government. After the Dragonrise, Kallyr returned and led her tribe to successfully liberate Boldhome from the remaining Lunars. After defeating a Lunar counter-attack at the Battle of Dangerford, she has been acclaimed Prince of Sartar by the tribes.

    Tribal Center: Lambnet Fort

    City: Swenstown

    Population: 4000

    Clans: Four (including Black Rock, Deer, Heran, and Vanstali clans)

    Major Temples: Orlanth Rex (Sacred Top), Ernalda (Nine Moss Hill), Ernalda (Goodfork)

    Minor Temples: Orlanth and Ernalda (3 minor temples), Issaries (Guilder Town), Vinga is an important subcult of Orlanth.

    Notable Shrines: Yelmalio (Lambnet Fort)

    Notable Spirit Cults: Crow, Golden Lamb, Quivin, Silver Deer, and Wilms

    Language: Sartarite

    Lunar Treasury at Boldhome during the Occupation

    Although the new Temple of the Reaching Moon was to be the magical and religious center of the province, Boldhome remained the administrative center for the Lunars. The Provincial Governor of Dragon Pass (Euglyptus, Fazzur, and Tatius) served as the Red Emperor’s proxy in that province, and was overseen by the Provincial Overseer. The provincial governor combined military, religious, and civil functions and was assisted by personal staff. The primary responsibility of the Provincial Governor was to secure and expand Lunar power in Dragon Pass and beyond.To the extent possible, the Provincial Governor was to be financially self-sustaining, collecting taxes and tolls, and imposing other tribute in order to pay the large number of soldiers assigned to Dragon Pass. In 1625, there were approximately 15,000 Lunar soldiers in Dragon Pass. In addition, from 1613-1625 the Provincial Governor was responsible for the construction of the Temple of the Reaching Moon, a vast monumental building covering 10 hectares (about the same size as the Upper City of Jonstown).

    This meant that not only was the Provincial Governor collecting money from merchants, tribal leaders, temples, cities, etc., but was receiving regular infusions of silver from Glamour. Several treasuries were set up. The first was in Boldhome. In 1622, construction of the Temple of the Reaching Moon had progressed far enough that a second treasury was established there. A third treasury was established in New Pavis, for the Lunar Prax province. These treasuries stored silver, minted coins, and a small army of scribes tracked receipts and expenditures.Argrath seized the New Pavis treasury when he took that city in 1624 (despite efforts by the Provincial Governor to escape with the treasury). The treasure at the Temple of the Reaching Moon was lost to the Dragonrise, and is believed to be at the bottom of the chasm called the Dragon Rest. The Boldhome treasury was seized by Kallyr Starbrow shortly after the Dragonrise, and it funded her attempted Lightbringers Quest later that year.

    As always, these are notes for stuff I have been working on that I thought might be of interest. This was a short note that I wrote to try to think how Kallyr Starbrow was able to pay for her massive Short Lightbringers Quest. The answer was – the Lunars did!

    And this is a question I ponder any time I write about a temple complex or a magnificent city structure – who built it and how were they paid? Same thing with armies – how are the fed and how are they paid. Sometimes the answer is a cheat – who built Boldhome? The dwarves! How were they paid? Only Sartar knows! But even that “cheat” explains a lot.

    Temple of the Reaching Moon

    Each Temple of the Reaching Moon is an architectural monument, a vast complex of temples, shrines, and courts that take up about 10 hectares. They follow a standard layout, that recreates the Above in the Below. The following is the usual temple layout, sketched by Greg. The top box is an enlarged view of the northern and largest temple. The complex is centered on an Inner Court, which is surrounded by numerous temples to the Lunar deities. Beyond that is the Outer court of the gods. Processional ways form axis from the Inner Court. Yara Aranis lives here, guards the temple, and anchors her webs at each temple, thereby expanding the Glowline.If I was going to compare a Temple of the Reaching Moon to anything in the real world, the mortuary temple to Hatshepshut might be a good point of comparison.

    Sketch by Greg Stafford

    Here’s a link to the mortuary temple of Hatshepshut for comparison

    God Time paradox of the Red Goddess cult

    Some food for thought – Almost all of the Lunar temples outside of the Lunar Heartlands are unusual in that they do not have a ready connection with the history or mythological landscape of the area. When Dragon Pass was resettled, the settlers knew that Orlanth, Ernalda, the Lightbringers, Yelmalio, etc. all “resided there”. In many cases, temples were built on the old temples from before Dragonkill. Boldhome was built in a valley sacred to the Orlanth cult since First Age. Clearwine Earth Temple had been an active place of Earth worship since the Second Age at least, and the Shaker Temple has been the home of Maran Gor since before the Dawn. The physical structures might be new, but the place has been connected to the god since forever.

    Not so with the Lunar temples in Dragon Pass. The Red Goddess lived in Time and her myth-creating deeds were all in the Lunar Heartlands. The Seven Mothers get temples first, and they conceptually relate to the Seven Lightbringers – but they were mortals in Time. Their temples are places where the Red Moon (visible in the sky) can be contacted, not necessarily where the Seven did anything in Time or mythology. This is tied to the whole God Time paradox of the Red Goddess cult. Go to the God Time and you aren’t going to see the Red Moon – it isn’t there! But you can go to the Red Moon in the Hero Plane through secret paths Lunar heroquesters have discovered/made. And even stranger, sometimes the Red Goddess herself is encountered in the Hero Plane – even though she didn’t exist then!

    The Red Goddess is not “just too subtle for hillbillies.” It requires a mystical Illumination to get it – but that is not an urbane thing (the Red Goddess herself was from a village in the sticks). Her Myth-Self does not properly sit with how the God Learners theorised how the God Time functions. It slices through it at a right angle like Pluto’s orbit.

    This is fantastically disturbing to anyone who is not Illuminated. Most Lunar apologists and scribes don’t get this either – being unilluminated themselves. And so they rely on the tropes of “superior knowledge”, “secret wisdom”, “more civilised”, and “world-conquering empire” – much to the disgust of actual Red Goddess Illuminates.There’s a reason that the bulk of the Lunar religion consists of more practical and prosaic cults like the Seven Mothers, Hon-eel, and Hwarin Dalthippa. You can get to the Red Goddess from there, but the path is difficult and arduous – but that is fine you don’t have to!

    The Malkioni, Orlanthi, Doraddi, Trolls, and the Praxians all have the same basic objection to this – it is a deliberate embrace of Chaos into the world. Horrors like the Crimson Bat or the Moonburn cannot be justified with mystical mumbo-jumbo about “world healing.” All of these religions conclude that the Red Goddess used Chaos to achieve Goddesshood and that her presence between Time and the God Time threatens the cosmos.

    The Blue Moon is well known in Gloranthan mythology. But the Blue Moon was killed in the God Time and fell to earth. Everyone knows that.The Red Moon is not blue. Everyone knows that.

    One of the most important insights into the Red Goddess

    Hidden in another thread is one of the most important insights into the Red Goddess:”Her Myth-Self does not properly sit with how the God Learners theorised how the God Time functions. The Red Goddess slices through our conception of the God Time at a right angle like Pluto’s orbit.” In a nutshell, this is why one needs to be both a Rune Master of a Lunar cult AND Illuminated to initiate to the Red Goddess’s mysteries.

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