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
Erenava Chan is the High Priestess of Ernalda at the Clearwine Earth Temple, and more than any person at the very center of the Colymar Tribe. Her father was Kallai Rockbuster the tribal king at Starbrow’s Rebellion. Her mother was Beneva Chan, the High Priestess from the Ernaldori Clan (and part of the ruling kinship group of that clan). Her brother Kangharl was tribal king until the Dragonrise, another brother was/is a Lunar hostage. Leika Blackspear is her cousin (from her father’s side).
After Starbrow’s Rebellion, she fled with her mother and father to Whitewall, and then to Esrolia where she linked up with her older sister (a Babeester Gor cultist) and dedicated herself to the Goddess in Esrolia. After giving birth to her first daughter, she became an Earth Priestess in Nochet until she and her sister returned to Clearwine in late 1624. Her grandmother proclaimed her the new High Priestess soon after.Her brother Kangharl died in the Dragonrise and she supported her cousin Leika to become tribal leader shortly after. But Erenava Chan may well be the most influential and powerful member of the tribe. She blames Kallyr Starbrow for her parent’s exile (and later death), and for her brother’s failures as a king, and only grudgingly supports her as Prince.
Anna Orlova did an absolutely fantastic job on Erenava Chan (and all the other Sartar character turns) down to the careful attention to the tattoos, jewellery, and skin and hair color.
Dragon Pass right after the Dragonrise is dominated by five VERY powerful women – Kallyr, Leika, Erenava Chan, the Shaker Priestess, and of course the Feathered Horse Queen. Not to mention Queen Samastina in Esrolia. Add Pharandros and Fazzur Wideread, and that’s the biggest human players in the area.
Another tribal map I put together for a project. Here is the Culbrea tribe and its clans.
Elk Clan. About 750 members. In Elkenvale.
Blue Spruce. About 300 members. At Jarolar Keep. Led by Elmalandti (Kallyr’s Orlanth Thunderous priest). Bandits.
Barlamani. About 400 members. Around Elendra’s Graze. King Ranulf’s clan. Bandits.
Lorthing. Largest clan with 850 members. At Fox Hollow. Farmers.
Mathiording. About 600 members. At Ridgetop. Bandits.
Orlamani. About 450 members. Pastoralists.
Owl. About 500 members. Along Owl Flight Crest. Hunters and bandits.Red Vireo. About 400 members. Between Hill of Orlanth and the Finger. Priestly.
Two Pine/Jotaring. About 750 members. At Horse Rest. Bandits.
Bandits. = Freedom fighters, rebels, “herders”, free warriors, etc.
All those clans seem to be quite small. Why is that? several of them are less than a decade old and are likely little more than warrior-initiatory societies than have been living in the hills and raiding like Orlanth Adventurous.
A member of the Jonstown city ring, the Culbrea are best known for their control of the Hill of Orlanth Victorious, an important Orlanthi sacred place. The Culbrea are centered on the Lorthing and Moaning Vales. They are a comparatively small and poor tribe, but have more warrior societies than other tribes. The tribe receives much of its revenue from its control over several important sacred places and through war and brigandage. They consider themselves the “Free Tribe” but others call them the “Bandit Tribe.”For some 70 years, the Culbrea were led by Hofstaring Treeleaper, a heroic figure with a magical leaping ability and a spear that could fight on its own. He reluctantly led the tribe in the rebellion later called Starbrow’s Rebellion, and was killed by the Lunars. In punishment for their role in Starbrow’s Rebellion, the Culbrea lost two clans to the Cinsina tribe, and one clan to the Aranwyth. A fourth clan went to the Aranwyth after a short war. The current king, Ranulf, led the tribe to successfully rebel against the Lunar Occupation. During the rebellion, several warrior societies formed into small clans, who survived in the hills through war and banditry.
The Barlamani came out of the Lorthing, the Blue Spruce came out of the Mathiording and Red Vireo clans, and the Orlmanni came out of the Owl clan.
The Gwandor are not the name of any canonical clan of the Culbrea.
Dwarf related dangers
What is your favorite dwarf related danger? Here’s the options:
- Jolati with buggy pre-programmed commands.
- Gobbler seeking stolen gunpowder.
- Angry spirits escaped from a faulty Silver Dwarf energy matrix.
- Mechanical construct (tiktok) with limited self-awareness.Bound energy construct, abandoned by Silver Dwarfs.
I am ignoring Gremlins and Nilmergs because they are annoying.
As an aside, I view Dwarven mines and strongholds as full of weird things that the dwarfs used to assist them in their labor, sources of energy, or defensive systems.
Spirits are a key renewable energy source!
Argrath-Alexander the Great analogy
So the Argrath-Alexander the Great analogy is something I find very useful in thinking about Sartar in the Hero Wars. Think of Classical Greece during the rise of Philip and Alexander. At first things aren’t too different from what they have been for the last century or so. We have our polis, and it is always the same major players – Thebes, Spartar, and Athens. And the Persian Empire is on the eastern shore and playing everyone off each other, a constant threat.But within a generation, there is a Macedonian Empire, with generals who have made themselves kings, a a king who has made himself a god.
And the polis are left making statues and obeisances to generals who rule armies, not lands.A similar dynamic happens in Sartar and Dragon Pass. Here’s a little snippet from Sartar:
ARGRATH’S MILITARY REFORMS
During the Hero Wars period the army of Sartar underwent many changes. The general evolution of inexperienced tribal militia to veterans to exhausted and semi-rebellious mercenaries was probably inevitable. But the power and charisma of the prince kept him supplied with armies and warriors to fight his long war with Lunar Empire.Since the return of Argrath, not yet Prince, to the hills of Sartar, the decisive arm of his army has been cavalry, not footmen. Ancient documents, from before the Lunar invasion, made great importance of Sartar’s shining ranks of spearmen, but the traditions which Argrath resurrected did not include footmen.
The reasons for this are several:
1. The existing warrior structure of Sartar had evolved to become rich, mounted noblemen (called “thanes”) leading armed mobs of freemen;
2. Dragon Pass, and especially the traditional friendship between the House of Sartar and the Grazelanders, was rich in horses;
3. Argrath’s own life and training was among the animal-riding nomads of Prax (except for the three years he spent as a Wolf Pirate) and he made brilliant use of the cavalry at his disposal (however, Argrath’s generalship always made excellent use of the forces he had at hand, even second rate infantry);
4. The magical powers which Argrath summoned to his aid were closely bound with wild rampages and shock tactics.Argrath began assembling his army soon after he was driven from his home on Starfire Ridge when he took refuge among the nomads of Prax. Most tribes there had strict laws and customs restricting any foreigner from holding a position of authority or power, but there were several secret societies whose membership crossed all social or political boundaries. Incredibly, Argrath worked his way to supremacy among three of them. These units, the Twin Spears, Sword-brothers, and Bullocks, formed the kernel of his Free Army. After he received the gift of the Dragon’s Teeth, Argrath returned to Dragon Pass.The native Sartar tribal militia and the first initial units of the Sartar Free Army and the Sartar Magical Union, reinforced by Praxian nomads and some Holy Country volunteers, carried the weight of the early fighting. Argrath’s successes and personal achievements led his people to become a unified and armed state at the pinnacle of their rush to power. During this time many local peoples were allied to him as well, like the Grazelanders and the Tarsh Exiles.However, despite his decided bias for cavalry as the decisive arm, Argrath was not ignorant of the value of a solid infantry center. Whenever he did need infantry for some specific campaign, he hired mercenaries from the Sun Dome Temples, the Holy Country, Dragonewts, or his own tribesmen. Sieges were usually left to specialists which were organized and led by the famous engineer, Haraspac, rumored to be of dwarf blood.Argrath’s friendship with the dragonewts extended to wyrms and even dream dragons. Such draconic allies were increasingly common in his later campaigns.
Of course, the analogy is has many flaw and limitations, but it gives you an idea of a lot of change over a fairly short period of time.
How to Draw Orlanth’s Thunderbolt
Here’s something Rich Fleider and I put together years ago on how to draw Orlanth’s thunderbolt. I thought folk might find this interesting.
Orlanthi view of society and justice
A few thoughts on the Orlanthi view of society and justice worth keeping in mind. The Orlanthi encourage independence over centralization. They do not have faith in a single leader for all things, a single god for all things, or for a single rule to cover all eventualities. They know that their own rules may not be the same as others, and that difference is not bad or evil, and sometimes even has great good.Justice is the “right way” of the world. Orlanth is the lord of justice, and his changeable nature indicates that justice too must be suited to the circumstances of anything being judged. The Orlanthi believe a single rule is not possible. Justice to one’s family, clan, tribe, and nation means to follow the ways of Orlanth. Justice to outsiders is determined by their actions, but requires curiousity, tolerance, and honest restraint on the part of the Orlanthi until the stranger proves themselves a friend or enemy.
“What is important in your life will change throughout your life. We Orlanthi are the children of the ever-moving wind and air. Everything always changes and you must also change to live in harmony with the world.”
Those who imagine the Orlanthi as being die-hard traditionalists who resist change, resent cities, don’t engage in trade with strangers, or who think think they favour a single leader, single god, or single rule – I think you forget who Orlanth is.
This openness to change is a key theme in the Hero Wars, as the Orlanthi undergo tremendous social and even religious changes from 1625 to 1655.
Sartar defined justice as maintaining harmony within the community while at the same time maintaining the honor of all the members. If throwing a little wealth around to maintain harmony and keep face was necessary, Sartar would do it.Killing someone is not necessarily dishonourable, but it does tend to disrupt harmony, so wealth is spent to return that community harmony. If the people are being stubborn, they can be exiled (without losing honor) and community harmony regained. But treating people dishonorably or having dishonourable resolutions always causes problems with the Orlanthi.
It must be incredibly difficult to be Prince of Sartar and have the legacy of Sartar constantly showing you that you could have solved that problem better, with less dead, with more gain, and everyone pretty happy. Imagine if your predecessor in the job ALWAYS managed to get the Pareto Superior solution. Every damn time! Meanwhile, you are happy whenever you manage to get that Pareto option.
Orlanth is the Lord of Justice. There is no contradiction there, unless you expect the gods and the cosmos to be perfect (which we all know is not the truth). Or is this some sort of attempt to provide a meta-criticism of Orlanth from perhaps a Lunar perspective or whatever?
Justice is the “right way” of the world. Since Orlanth is responsible for upholding the “right way” of the world, he’s the Lord of Justice.
The Orlanthi consider dreaming a key part of spiritual existence. Your gods, spirits, and ancestors determine the shape of your dreams, as does the magic you wield and your own personal power. However, unlike many spiritual matters, your dreams are within your control and cultivating dreams is often part of guided meditation.
Dara Happan (and Lunar Heartland) concept of justice
In contrast to the Orlanthi, the Dara Happan (and Lunar Heartland) concept of justice has two parts:
1. Proper social order. That means everyone is in their proper place, with the strong restrained from harming the weak (any more than is proper, of course), with everyone doing what is proper for the social position for the good of the community. This proper social order is derived from the gods, in particular Yelm, and entrusted to the Red Emperor to establish, maintain, and defend.
2. Vengeance against those who have wronged. The wheel of vengeance will eventually crush all those who have wronged others. One must suffer, that is part of existence, but in the end, justice requires that those who suffered unfairly must be avenged. This is derived most strongly from the Red Goddess, although there are clearly Carmanian and Spolite antecedents to this. This is usually entrusted to the Red Emperor and his family – Hwarin Dalthippa brought down the barbarians of Saird and Imther who broke the gates of Glamour, Hon-eel brought down the Pentans, Jar-eel took vengeance against the White Moonies and their blasphemies, and later avenged those wronged by the Pentan invasion, etc.
The first kind of justice is typical spelled out by written rules governing behavior and actions. The second kind of justice is subject to the whims of the Red Goddess.
Unlike the Orlanthi, the Dara Happan culture favors the idea of one ruler for everyone (the Red Emperor), one set of rules for everyone ideally, and at times even flirts with the idea of one supreme god (or goddess).
Dart Wars are not part of vengeance so much as a sanctioned outlet for the ambition of noble houses…
I wanted to make it clear that for most kinship groups, Dart Wars are not really an option for vengeance.
The Red Emperor frowns on blood feuds outside of sanctioned activities like Dart Wars as they tend to disrupt the proper social order.
Something that is often underappreciated is the Dart Wars of the noble houses of the Lunar Empire. The combatants in these secret wars are spies and mercenaries, analogous to ninja, that are hired by the houses. The Red Emperor himself is rumored to actively participate in Dart Wars and is the likely the single biggest employer of Dart Warriors. It is rumored that there are entire clans of Dart Warriors, training in secret. As a result of the Dart Wars, the noble houses absolutely do not trust each other and prevents them from allying against the Red Emperor.The most obvious result of a Dart War is when a ruling family of a satrap is replaced by a new family; but Dart Wars often involve control of a powerful temple or rule of a city.
So if you want to do a campaign with ninja, paranoid secretive conspiracies, and rapid strikes against rival houses – think Dune, Lone Wolf and Cub, or any good ninja epic – Dart Wars are your friend!
The Heartlands are a seething boil of secret conflicts. The Provinces get them too, but it is often more amateurish. The conflict between King Pharandros and Fazzur Wideread is waged through a lesser Dart War. Assassins, spies, sabotage, etc.
One day all the servants show up for work at the local palace and the old bosses are all dead.
And the servants and workers look at each other and shrug. “Somebody must have pissed somebody off,” they say.And that’s life in the Lunar Heartlands.
All dead except the one kid that was spared because he was carrying a stele of the Red Emperor.
That kid who was carrying the stele of the Red Emperor. Can’t kill him or the Red Emperor will have us all executed.
Rebellions are brutally dealt with as rebellions against justice. But Dart Wars are not rebellions. They are noble houses acting against each other. Tolerated as long as they do not disrupt social order.
The background presence of Dart Wars can explain some of the erratic decisions of the Lunar Army in the Provinces and elsewhere. They keep the ruling families divided and make it easier for the Red Emperor to assert his authority, which is far more important that some barbarian province.
It also means that much of the actual administration of the Lunar Empire is not so much in the hands of the powerful noble families with their Red Goddess initiates and temples, and weird ambitions, but in the hands of Irrippi Ontor clerks who just keep their heads down and issue papers.
Arkat as Colonel Kurtz
If I sometimes imagine Argrath as a Bowie-like chameleon, I often imagine Arkat as a Colonel Kurtz figure, particularly in the last stages of the Gbaji Wars. I could imagine him giving Harmast this speech shortly before entering Dorastor:
Iin our version of Apocalypse Now, Willard goes off to find someone with sounder methods, Kurtz goes on to confront his Shadow, and then retires to a farm in Ralios, protected by his ferocious Zorak Zorani children, parceling out his wisdom and epigrams to any who will listen.
Unlike Hrestol, who slew his irrational unconsciousness and destroyed his shadow in order to bring forth the rule of reason and will, Arkat rationally embraced his unconscious and became his own shadow. In the end, Arkat fully embraced the Darkness in order to extinguish the Light of Nysalor.
Argrath is very similar to Teelo Estara, especially if you imagine Harrek, Broyan, Gunda, the Feathered Horse Queen, Kallyr, and Jaldon as his “”mothers”. But then again, Teelo Estara is more similar to Arkat than might be comfortable for good Lunars.
One might even view the Red Goddess as an attempt to create a synthesis of Nysalor AND Arkat. Of Nysalor AND Gbaji. Of the Full Moon and the Black Moon.
And perhaps Argrath creates a synthesis of the destroyer and the balancer.
These Liars and Liberators alternate, Light and Darkness, so fast that at some point the Light becomes Dark and the Dark Light.
Arkat is very much the Maimed Hero. Argrath does a better job at avoiding that, although I think that may more the result of the FHQ’s marriage.
Or perhaps it that early incorporation of the Dragon into his soul – something beyond Life and Death.
People forget that Glorantha is but the dream of the True Dragon.
The Dragonkiller carries the Cosmic Serpent. One of the strange things that makes up Orlanth.
The strangeness is only that in this case the entity he is the slayer and the wielder is a cosmic dragon. Which few gods have that relationship.
I see Argrath as every bit as loathsome as Shepelkirt/Sedenya. Definitely not – that’s the mask of the goddess as viewed by the victims of her Empire. But viewing Argrath as similar to Teelo Estara as she went about becoming the Red Goddess? Very likely correct.And I don’t view Teelo Estara as loathsome in the slightest.
and what of Teelo Estara’s victims? She brought terrible war upon the Carmanian Empire, drove even her allies insane and warped them with Chaos, and destroyed entire cities. Not to mention the countless peasants who no doubt died when the Red Moon rose into the sky? But the destroyer and the balancer bring death. That’s part of what they are. That’s part of the cosmic dance. It is worth keeping in mind that after Argrath becomes a god, Inkarne the Feathered Horse Queen rules “for a hundred years” to bring life to a shattered world (or at least what is left of Dragon Pass and Saird). The destroyer’s part is played and then it becomes the time of the Good Queen to restore Life.
As an aside, like the ancient Greeks, I don’t think most Gloranthans feel the need to bowdlerise the danger of heroes like us moderns. They know the divine is both terrible and wonderful.
It’s the Gods War again. The little fight between Argrath and the Red Emperor unravels the Compromise and only then does everyone see how useful it was.
Is it any wonder that Glorantha has gone through three terrible end of ages?
So let’s say that I wanted to learn everything i could about Arkat. Where would I go? best source is the Guide to Glorantha.
A Beginners Guide to RuneQuest Gods
– an interview James Coquillat did with me recently.
Some Ancient Commentaries on Magic and Chaos
A God Learner text annotated by Greg Stafford, recently rediscovered in a warehouse in Berkeley:
The Nature of magic is in the origins of the world, wherein the gods performed the actions which were to determine the being of the world.
In Glorantha, as in our own world, the crux of the entire matter originates in the First Beginning (yes, there were other beginnings). The crisis and dividing point of the world lies in the separation of the First Gods from Chaos. As the Old Vadeli prayer puts it:
Breakaway, Breakaway, Let me alone! Take your hands off, I'll cut them! Take your feet off, I'll stomp them! Look away from me, I cannot bear you! Do not follow, you are my foe. Do not pursue, I shall kill you! Never come near, now we are separate. Never come near, we are not the same.
These are the words that the Old Vadeli heard when the world was first made, and they report these words as being a chorus of all the Grey Ones, shortly after their self-conception within the womb of Chaos. It is also the song they sing at childbirth, to protect the mother god and the newborn.
The fear, perhaps even terror, which is easily visible in this birth-song sets the entire pattern of the Future for the Vadeli. It initiates the conflict which is implicit to simple Existence and Being, as opposed to the virtues or evils of Chaos. To struggle is accepted as the baseline of existence, and the opposition which was established at the First Beginning carries through all of Creation.
For all of the timeless Gods Age the Grey Ones, and their children of the Elements, managed to keep the Vadeli prayer strong, and to maintain Existence without Chaos. The 5 Elemental Sources, spawned and multiplied within themselves, creating the world of the Gods. The Grey Ones infused all of the world with themselves, giving a great inner strength which allowed all of the miracles of the Gods Age.
Yet, in the end, their strengths proved their weakness, and even helped bring it out. It nearly brought about the end of the world, as is succinctly put in an illegal quote, gained from Bodiless Book of the Yong, a sect which is supposed to have vanished with the dissolution of the Empire of the Wyrm’s Friends:
“Law is its own perversion. Love is its own destruction. War will fight itself to exhaustion, while even Truth will bore itself to death. Such is proved by the end of the Gods Age. The end of the Gods Age came when the gods grew too fat. They filled their own worlds with the Grey Ones, taking and multiplying the Laws and the Loves and the Loyalties to suit the races spawned within themselves. They diffused their energies in supporting the Laws, and when they filled themselves with it, turned to spread into the other deities. This is the start of the Gods War. This is the origin of Chaos in our world.”
The oppositional conflict of Chaos versus Cosmos eventually crept its way into the very fibre of Creation. This is, of course, essential to that very existence based upon the primeval conflict and opposition. Integration with Chaos meant loss of Existence, which diffused itself into creation as being a conflict of each element within parts of itself. In the initial generations of deities, each element is rigidly confined by its essential character to one of the genders. Yet after their self-development under the influences of the Grey Ones, every element eventually spawned generations which contained all the genders we commonly recognize.
This, of course, allowed for the greatest sharing and positive exploitation of Uleria’s Net, and eventually led to the breeding between elements and bonding of the seams of the world. This all is confirmed by the Book of Zzabur, although the Brithini rejected its implications.
Like a lot of these essays, there is a lot in there, on the nature of the cosmos and of Chaos, on the Vadeli, and much more. Digest it carefully!
Empty-Head’s Tale – Another God Learner text
Another God Learner text for your enjoyment! The following is a folk tale in one form or another among the peoples of the whole continent of Genertela. Its widespread distribution is indicative of the truth which it contains. Brithini wizards claim to have found proof of the veracity of the tale in fragments of the Blue Book of Zzabur.
“There was once an old old man, so old he couldn’t remember his name or even where he came from or where he was. He lived atop a great dome called EGGSHELL which floated in the sea, and his name was EMPTY-HEAD.
One day Empty-head was approached by two people, generally called Stoneface and Warmbody. These two politely asked permission from Empty-head to dig beneath the Eggshell to make themselves a home. Empty-head, who’d never considered such a thing necessary, gave permission.
Stoneface and Warmbody dug for a long time, until the dirt was piled as high as they were tall and the hole was as deep as they were tall. Then they lay down together to rest, and when they emerged from the hole they brought with them a young daughter. She was called Ebon by the pair who found her in the pit.
The next day it was Ebon who dug, while her parents kept watch at the lip of the hole. Warmbody covered the walls of the hole with claratha to prevent landslides, while Stoneface crossed the hole with a long pole, and then hung a long rope called Serpent-power down to his daughter. And after the hole was deeper by the depth of Ebon’s height, she emerged carrying her young son.
So it went on for generations, until at last the hole was so deep that it was a hollow egg. The surface was quite crowded then, and eventually the unruly newcomers bugged the old man away, into the sea, and they made the place into their own castle. This castle is called the Hill of Four plus Another.
Here is now that the castle got its name, for it was originally called the Hill of Four. It was divided equally into four portions, each ruled over by one of the Quarterlords, wherein there also lived their servants, families, etc. They all lived together, eating only claratha, and revering in their glory. At this time, it is known many of the servants and such were joining in unspecified behaviour with the peoples of the other quarters. Yet with claratha this is to be expected. What was a surprise is when two of the Quarterlords overindulged on claratha one night and begat a young creature all as powerful as they.
This in itself was not bad. There were already the Grey Ones, who lived in the castle called the Spike, and these Grey Ones were certainly as powerful as the Quarterlords. Yet this new one, who everyone quickly called TROUBLE, was not a Grey One. His place was upon the Eggshell, and he demanded a place atop it as his right. When he was refused, he gathered some friends, stormed parts of his mother’s and father’s quarters, and there made himself Lord. Shortly afterwards he was crushed by the spearmen of his father and the axemen of his mother, and his followers fled. Trouble was tossed into the sea, left to swim around in the shoreless ocean forever.
Yet Trouble returned, and far more powerful than before. Amid the vast oceans Trouble had met Empty-head, and although the old man did not even know it, he carried a weapon against the Quarterlords. He did not understand it, but Trouble did. The weapon was the sword, and it was made by a Grey One or else was a son of Trouble. Newly armed, Trouble crawled back on the Eggshell. What followed was the Gods War, a terrible Darkness Age, whose consequences are still felt today.”
And like the previous text, there is a LOT in there. The text likely dates to the early Second Age, and the tale had already been subsumed and clarified by the Theyalan missionaries who gave us the names we know best. But in one form or another that tale was known from Kralorela to Seshnela.
Two worlds lie close in the Holy Country.
One is the mundane world of the many races and tribes of Mortals. This is a rich and powerful land, capable of turning aside the mightiest armies and fleets of invasion. The other is the magical world of the immortal Godtime. They are close together, so that the ranks of mythical and legendary divinities, heroes, demons, and Powers lie barely hidden beneath the crust of the mundane world. The Holy Country is a land of Wonder, where miracles are well-known and comfort is in plenty. It is a place where the gods and lesser spirits visit when they long for a short taste of physical existence, and where wise holy men or foolish pilgrims go to briefly taste the power of immortality. And there, upon the convergence of the land, sea, and air, rules Belintar in quiet and holy harmony.It was not always thus.
As a previous thread made clear, the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death served to recharge the magical energies and possibilities created by Belintar’s exploratory heroquests in his struggle against his Shadow and kept the Holy Country in a constant state of magical potentiality. With the disruption of the Tournament by Lunar heroquesters, that churning continued but in 1625 the Thelemic energy surge shifted or expanded to include Dragon Pass. During the Short Lightbringers Quest of 1625, the two realms overlapped in much of Sartar – as if the Tournament was taking place!
Some strange Holy Country facts
Did you know that there is a “tame” version of Aldrya worshiped in Esrolia as the Goddess of the Orchards? She’s worshiped through the Ernalda cult, but still present and revered. Shannon Appelcline take note!
The strangest livestock in the Holy Country has got to be the pig variant popularly called the “Sausage Loaf”. These are huge animals – weighing up to 500 kg but exceptionally calm, gentle, and even submissive – and are famed for their incredibly tasty meat.
A runner up for strangest food source is the giant sloth found in the forests of Heortland and Esrolia.
the Old Woods are an Aldryami forest, and the dense woods extend Southeast of Asrelia’s Retreat. Much of the North March is lightly wooded.
Of course the Orlanthi know Lodril – he is the great god of Caladraland, a nation of nearly a half million people at the edge of Esrolia. Lodril lives here in a great volcano, and is sometimes called Veskarthan (which just means “the Vent”). According to the local Lodrili, this is where Lodril descended from the Sky and entered the Earth.
Lodril made many many gifts for Asrelia, and together they awakened the earth with their children. In the Darkness, Lodril was defeated and bound by Argan Argar and forced to build the Palace of Black Glass. Its highest parts were towering spires piercing the air and its basements rested in the Underworld. It radiated a thick darkness which dimmed the light of all the lands which the Only Old One ruled.In the First Age, the worshipers of Lodril rebelled and broke away from the trolls. They received help in this from the dwarfs of Gemborg and from those people of the sea who claimed descent from Choralinthor, and received mercenaries from the barbarians of Wenelia.
In the Second Age, the Lodril worshipers welcomed the reunion of Aurelion, Caladra’s twin, and allied with the God Learner province of Slontos against the Shadowlands and their EWF allies. The magnificent golden statue of Eurmal Lightbringer holding aloft a miniature version of the Sun was built by the God Learners at the Lighthouse. But Lodril aided the Old Powers in destroying the God Learners.When Belintar arrived, the Caladralanders tried to kill him, using both force and magic. But they failed, and Belintar used the powers of the Steam Demons to win his assault against their leaders.
At the present time, Caladraland is ruled by the priests of the Volcano Twins. The population have adjusted their society around the needs and blessings of the vocano god. They are ruled by King Galerus, who was selected by the ruling council of clan chieftains for his ability to judge people carefully and his ability to lead armies. In 1620, Galerus refused to step down in accordance with tradition. Now called the King of the Diamond Diadem, Galerus allied with the dwarfs of Gemborg, the Demivierge of Rhigos, and the Warlord of Porthomeko. His kingdom has suffered terribly from a decade of barbarian invasions, but he holds onto power with the support of the Caladra and Aurelion cult.
Peloria has the largest number of Lodril cultists in Glorantha and the god has numerous holy places in the land. He made the Gods Wall near Raibanth, in Dara Happa. The volcanic plugs of Darjiin and the lava beds in Kostaddi are important sacred places, as is the Forest of Pillars in the Western Reaches. The caldera of Lake Oronin in the Lunar Empire is particularly important, and many stories hold that this was once Mount Fire, the place where Lodril descended from the Sky and entered the Earth. Another sacred place claimed as Mount Fire is the Vent, a huge, cratered volcano in the Holy Country more than two kilometers tall. Many stories hold that it was here Lodril descended from the Sky and entered the Earth. A plume of smoke visible from hundreds of kilometers away constantly rises from its cauldron. The Vent is very active and regularly erupts, but the damage it does is usually minimized by Lodril’s priests.
Now Lodril does not really have much of a cult in Dragon Pass, although he is certainly recognised by the Orlanthi. He is held to be the father of Quivin and many mountain gods, and scholars say that he fathered mighty Ernalda upon Asrelia.
So if we add Caladraland into the local mix, we have over 30k Lodril cultists and 60 k Caladra and Aurelion cultists. Add Esrolia to the mix and we get another 40k Lodril cultists. So yes, the cult is definitely present in the Holy Country, which means the Sartarites are definitely aware of it.
Who is the ‘Demivierge of Rhigos’? Guide to Glorantha page 249.
Ranging and Joining
A technique developed by participants in the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, these questers range at the edge of an ongoing quest or ritual and watch for events or entities. If this happens, they join that event and interact with it. Thought by some scholars to be related to the Waltzing and Hunting bands of the Empire of the Wyrms Friends.
Ranging and Joining is dangerous, but considered less dangerous than pure Ranging, as long as the questers stay in proximity (whatever that means) with the main ongoing quest or ritual. In large heroquests, Rangers and Joiners are typically chosen by spirits, lot, or even just find themselves in the role due to the mysteries of the ritual itself – some say that is the Luck referred to in the Masters of Luck of Death.
There have been 22 Tournaments of the Masters of Luck and Death in the history of the Holy Country, and as result, many sophisticated heroquesting techniques have been disseminated through the Holy Country, Dragon Pass, and even Prax. These techniques are different from those taught and used with such great effect by the Lunar Way, but are potentially no less effective.
This is why questers who Range are so much more dangerous than those who simply re-enact existing stories; they discover new myths. And this is why the Lightbringers Quest is so dangerous and so powerful – like the Red Goddess Quest, it always involves Ranging.
Now Ranging and Joining is not nearly so dangerous – one watches at the edge of a story for a hint of another. An anonymous character gets a name and becomes adventure, or a passing mention becomes a story in its own right. This might provide a new key detail to an important myth, or might be a tangential eddy that swirls around wherever but becomes beloved by local storytellers.
But as the world dies and the Greater Darkness envelopes everything, perhaps you don’t undertake the Lightbringers Quest, but you could help free an imprisoned goddess, mend a broken god, aid the last spark of Light against the forces of Winter, or still manage to find yourself at Redemption’s Edge by following the Burning Footprints. You use the same techniques Sartar, Tarkalor, and perhaps Kallyr and Argrath learned when they participated in the Tournament but did not seek its prize.
Every big magical ritual has many participants in many roles:
- We have the leads – this might be Orlanth gathering his family and followers together, or Ernalda bringing forth life.
- We have their immediate companions – this might be Humakt, Issaries, etc.
- We have the chorus of celebrants who sing prayers and offer sacrifices and gifts of power.
- We have those who defend the ritual – warriors, guards, usually Humakti.
- We have those that have been brought or summoned into the ritual – curious spirits, dangerous enemies, opposing powers and elements, etc. Some are brought in to participate, others are fought off.
- And often present are those who watch to see what else is going at outside the ritual. What else has the magic bought into the area? That’s the folk who Range and Join.
I know that people focus on Pavis, Jonstown, and Boldhome in their games – and probably in that order. But Wilmskirk is definitely worth a look. This was Wilms the Artist’s first masterpiece, designed by him according to aesthetic and philosophical principles inspired by the Jrusteli, and meant to be a true model city. The city was laid out to be both beautiful and function – and Wilms achieved this. It is a city of crafters, of artists, and is the center of painting and sculpture techniques in Dragon Pass. Wilmskirk is shared by the Balmyr, Locaem, Balmyr, and Sambari tribes and it is now ruled by King Vamastal Greyskin of the Sambari, who participated in Starbrow’s Rebellion and is part of the High Council. Vamastal is half-mad through heroquesting, and gained his grey skin on a harrowing trip through Hell. He was friends with Garaystar Flatnose, who was City Rex of Wilmskirk in 1610-1613 but was exiled along with Vamastal after the Rebellion’s collapse.
The Sambari are not slavers.
Why did the Lunars not excute this pair for their role in the rebellion? Fazzur preferred exile to execution. He (or maybe it was his very clever detachable right hand Gordius Silverus) understood that by getting the rebel leaders to swear to exile, his authority would gain more legitimacy and acceptance by the tribes than if he simply executed them.Remember Fazzur understood the Orlanthi, unlike Euglyptus of Assiday.
“according to aesthetic and philosophical principles inspired by the Jrusteli”, isn’t that God Learner knowledge? The Jrusteli greatly influenced the Holy Country. Sure the “God Learners” were bad (hiss hiss) but at the same time the Kethaelans embraced much of their philosophy, arts, etc. People rarely refuse the useful things they learned from their enemies.
Most people have embraced elements of God Learner philosophy without even being aware of what it is. Like the monomyth or mythical synthesis. We take it because it is useful and largely correct.
Here’s a story every Orlanth initiate knows
It is worth a careful read as there are some interesting details in this (and the story is more complete than in King of Sartar):
One day, at the Hill of Victory, Orlanth met with the Vingkotlings for a Property Celebration. There he planned to review his possessions and those of his tribe. But the feast went poorly. First Ernalda, Orlanth’s wife, was not present.
But the feast went poorly. First, Orlanth’s wife Ernalda was not present. This disturbed the god for the seat beside him was empty, and half of his conversations were with the unanswering empty space. And others were gone, so that the wine was sour, the hearth was cold, and the food was no better than cold porridge.
Furthermore, the feast was disturbed. Whenever some person was called upon to admire a tool, they were called away be some combat or other duty elsewhere. Sometimes they never returned.
At last, Orlanth lost his temper. “What is this?” he shouted. “Where is the respect which is due the King of the Gods?”
And they said, “It is lost along with the Grand Order, Great King.”“And where is the Grand Order?” Orlanth demanded. And everybody agreed that it was gone, because the god of it had been taken away by the darkness.
Orlanth brooded over this during his feast. When he broods the clouds gather and do not drop their rain, growing black and grim. This is called “Bad Rain” and monsters can come with it. They did then, the first time, and Orlanth had to rise from his seat to drive Nasty Urain away.“
The world has fallen,” Orlanth said afterwards, “when a chief cannot have peace through a meal! I will go and regain this Grand Order.” He called for the Knowing God to come to him, and asked what the Grand Order was.“It is a mirror of fire,” said Lhankor Mhy. “It is not for everyone. Some are consumed by it. Others turn bone cold.”Orlanth asked where it was. “Past the edge of the world,” said the Knowing God. “I do not know the roads myself.”
“Then I will find them,” said Orlanth, “and I will return with the Grand Order so that we can have a proper feast.” So Orlanth armed himself. He bore:
- his Ring
- the Four Sacred Weapons
- Four Winds and a net
- the Black Spear and the Red Spear
- the Three Other Winds and a bag
- the Thunderstone
- the Blue dye
- the Spear of Truewood
- the Rare Flower, and• his First Knife.
Orlanth called his companions to aid him:
- Heler, the Blue God
- Mastakos the Charioteer
- Crisis and Rage, his two stamping horses.
After they left the Hill, they met his brother Humakt, the Death God. This was a friendly meeting, even in this time of kinstrife. Orlanth spoke in private with his not-a-brother, and received a blessing upon his sword, which is called Iron Tooth.
They rode to the west, with the horses’ hooves like thunder booming across the sky. Orlanth went first to the strong house of his mother. Its gates lay open, torn, and the white roof was black, and dripped down the sides of the mountains. No slim warriors walked the walls with bright spears. No sparkling servants met the party with towels and food. No sleek alynx raised their heads to greet their kinsman.
Instead, Orlanth found a ruined palace, inhabited by wild dogs, licking the marrow from fresh alynx bones. Orlanth was so angry at the death of his kinfolk that he slew all the dogs he could reach, and his companions slew some more, and they would have killed everyone if they could. But one escaped, and it was Kang Rowl the Slinker, the stinking dog-like-a-cat.
The vengeance of the Storm God was a victory for Mastakos. Among the slain he discovered Narangros, the Hell Hound, which had stolen the sinews from Mastakos’ heels after the Thornbush Contests. Mastakos recovered his sinews, and again the three-legged sign was whole upon his breast. After this he was truly called Step Father.
Orlanth stood atop the peak of his mother’s house. Kero Fin, the Mighty Mountain, is the place he was born. This is the center of the world. All around him the winds raged, covering the broad land with white snow where it wanted to, and baring the frozen earth where it wanted. On top of the mountain Orlanth could see his ancient father, the Prisoner God, tied to the Earth and Sky. And he asked his father for advice.“I cannot move. The Triad makes the wind. There is One calling you, follow it. There is Another hunting you, avoid it. There is the Third, Unknowable, which you fear.
”After these words of wisdom, Orlanth gazed upon the whole of the changing horizon around him. Nine gods he saw then:
- Winter, Lord of the North, with his lover frozen for his entertainment
- Gore and Gash, one with broken legs and the other with broken teeth
- Fog Girl, the only thing moving upon the face of the seas
- Iron Man, implacable, crushing the ice underfoot as he chased seals
- Storm Bull, doing his whirling dance which hurts his people
- Drought, once again escaped from his brass jar
- Tyram, knocked from the sky and now plucking among the ruins of Agant Faraltilion
- Troll Mother, the Pregnant Darkess who reclines in a cave
- Jarani, Son of Rangorn, sometimes called the Mountain Gliber.
Orlanth followed the One Who Called to Him. From atop Kero Fin he could see his kinsman far to the west. Although a mortal man would need ten days to climb down from Kero Fin, and five days to cross Doraziriland by foot, and another seven to climb to the top, by following precisely in Mastakos’ steps, Orlanth needed only two steps. He placed his left foot carefully upon the bootprint in the Smoking Ruins, and his right upon the edge of the home of Jarani Whitewall, the son of Ragorn, the son of Jorganos Archer, the son of Vingkot.
So one part of the Wind-makers is Eurmal? Why would you assume that? The one calling could be any voice or any summons. Perhaps it is a call from Glorantha. Perhaps it is a call from a lover or a friend? Perhaps it is your hunger or ambition calling, or your regret and guilt. We all have the Triad after all, we all move and change.
Also note that Orlanth creates the Bad Rain – that’s what happens when he broods. It brings monsters, but Orlanth protects his people from his own brooding thoughts.
Here are the times that Harmast went to the Hero Plane before he returned with Arkat.
First, for a glimpse, at his initiation into the cult of Orlanth, as everyone sees at the moment of bonding with a god. Thus, at age 17, Harmast saw Orlanth’s Hall.
Secondly, and most regularly, at every High Holy Day ceremony he attended, as do all initiates who participate in their rituals. Nine times Harmast visited the Hero Plane as an initiate, to aid his god in the creation of the world. Twice he fought the star warriors at the Battle of the Thrinbarri Clouds. Four times he stood upon the Lightbringers’ Path: at the Bridge of Scythes, at the Crucible Gate, at the Bridge Over Corpses, and Where Kaarg was Defeated. At age twenty-one he was a spectator at the wedding of Orlanth and Ernalda. That one was his favorite, he often said afterwards. Once he rode the Wild Winter Winds which covered the world with ice. And once he viewed the Palace of the Sky, from the distance, of course.
The seventh time was when he fought at the Battle of Daranstoro, when Elistivoros the Eye unleashed Arikalgor, the giant Night Wolf, which swallowed the entire defending army in one bit. Only Harmast found his way back to life from that because he hauled himself from the River of Corpses on a hawthorn bush, and woke later in his own home temple where he delivered the tragic news to the tribe.
The twelfth time was when he received the Second Initiation and became a Rune Priest. He traveled again to the Hall of Orlanth, but this time took a seat among the companions of the god and drank from the strong sweet divine drink. Donandar praised Harmast in a song full of such promise that two heroes of old came to him and promised they would fight beside him some day. And it was there that Alusu the Cockster saw him the first time.
The thirteenth was the first High Holy day at which he assisted. Again, the worshipers fought at the Battle of Thrinbarri Clouds, where Orlanth’s forces overthrew the assembled army of the heavens. But this was the Bad Year, when the Sun Bird passed through Alastan’s Mirror and a flock of them smothered the loyal assemblies of Orlanth initiates. Most priests survived that, and Harmast also lived through the onslaught of celestial archers who followed. Then he struck Palangio the Iron Vrok, master of the peoples of Dragon Pass, from his mount and Orlanth came and the clean wet winds cleared the sky of foes.
After such a disaster, Harmast could no long restrain himself. But he refused the position of Wind Lord, for he said that it was such a lord’s duty to serve the people, and he could not rightly accept the duty because he was planning to go into the exile of Heroquesting upon the Lightbringer’s Path.
The fourteenth time was when he went to the Nennorion Tower. He not only visited it and gained the Shield, but went hunting in the Blue Forest beyond.
The fifteenth time was the Hill of Gold, and afterwards, after his companions had returned, he stalked the trolls to the place where they departed, which Harmast called the Cave of Teeth.
The sixteenth was when he went to Lord Aranvark’s Cabin, in the Ironwoods, to seek advice for the travel over water. Here Harmast met Hyriam the Scribe, who returned with him to continue preparations.
The seventeenth was on the High Holy Day. Harmast found himself in the Firewoods, when Palangio the Iron Vrok drew him into an unfair fight with the Heroquest Draw. Thus Harmast learned of his unholy link with this nefarious foe.
The eighteenth time was the start of his Lightbringer’s Quest, when he undertook his dangerous journey to the Gates of Dusk. He departed from the Hill of Victory and ascended the Mountain Top. He descended to Hrelar Amali where disaster struck and then traveled to the Western Shore gathering new companions. He traveled Over the Waters on the great turtle and reached the Purple Shores of Luathela. After much bloodshed, he arrived at the Gates of the West.
The nineteenth time was his Journey to the Court of Silence. He entered the Castle of Rausa and descended into the Cellars of Dusk. At the feast he was betrayed and fled down the Bottler’s Stairway until he found reached the Place of Lost Souls. He escaped through Ironwood, which he already knew and found the Bridge Over Corpses, whose path he already knew which saved his existence. There he found the Mousehole and followed it to the Court of Silence.
The twentieth time was his journey through the Underworld. The Twin Child Gods showed him the path over the Styx and Harmast fought off the monsters of the deep until he was devoured by the Great Maw. His broken pieces were purified and he confronted and overcame his Others: his victims – demon lover, his father, his mother; his obsessions, his tyranny, and the destruction he brought. Then he passed through the flames of the Band of Gold and entered the Dead Gods’ Court.
The twenty-first time was at the Dead Gods’ Court. There he met with Arachne Solara, and what he said and what passed is not recorded. But it is known that he returned with Arkat.
These last few posts get us very near the magical heart of Glorantha. It is dangerous – and not for the faint of heart! Turn away unless you are mad, desperate, or a hero!
The 20th and the 21st are the most important, and the most dangerous.
That these are the specific quests of Harmast? Probably much of the list, but perhaps not all, are known by initiates of the Orlanth to have been performed by Harmast. But that is immaterial.What is known to and experienced by every Orlanth initiate are some of these events. Rune Masters experience even more. And a few folk seek out opportunities to interact with the God Time, just as Harmast did.And a VERY FEW folk have enough direct experience to start stringing things together and making connections like Harmast did. That’s a very short list. And perhaps they ask their Knowing Companion – what did Harmast do?
Remember, Harmast Barefoot is one of the great heroes of the Orlanthi. Every Orlanth initiate knows his name. His deeds were as great as Heort.
Does the distinction means he returned to the Middle World between 19-20-21? yes. Exactly!
How much of this is known by a circa 1625 Heortlander?
That these are the specific quests of Harmast? Probably much of the list, but perhaps not all, are known by initiates of the Orlanth to have been performed by Harmast. But that is immaterial.What is known to and experienced by every Orlanth initiate are some of these events. Rune Masters experience even more. And a few folk seek out opportunities to interact with the God Time, just as Harmast did.And a VERY FEW folk have enough direct experience to start stringing things together and making connections like Harmast did. That’s a very short list. And perhaps they ask their Knowing Companion – what did Harmast do?
Remember, Harmast Barefoot is one of the great heroes of the Orlanthi. Every Orlanth initiate knows his name. His deeds were as great as Heort.
It also looks like the freeing of Arkat wasn’t his intention, more an [un]lucky side effect? it absolutely was not the goal. The goal of EVERY Lightbringers’ Quest is to restore the Grand Order. And that’s what EVERY successful Lightbringer’s Quest does.The mystery is what the Grand Order is, but the story contains hints.
One thing that this list clearly shows is how heroquesting can move from “participating in big mythic battles” – like Thrinbarri Clouds or fighting trolls, to dangerous contests with other hero questers, to events that are ultimately about the psyche of the quester (see 20 and 21). These last are likely the most dangerous – and most rewarding – but also the hardest to stage in a game.
One of Greg’s earliest manuscripts on heroquesting hits all the key points, explains what it is, and the key elements involved. I’ve added a few footnotes, but let this digest a little.
Heroquest: “What is It?”
Heroquesting is a term used to describe the active interaction of a free-willed individual with the unchanging realm of Godtime. People heroquest because it is a way of obtaining great magical power, divine knowledge, legendary artifacts, and immense personal fame and prestige. It is also possible for a person to gain immortality and worship: to become a god.
The mythology of Glorantha clearly defines the differences between the changing realm of mortal life and the unchanging immortality of the beings of mythology. This came about after the end of the world in the event called the Cosmic Compromise, and ever since then Time has separated mortals and mythos. Time keeps the gods young and makes men die.
The difference between the realms of the gods and of men is much more significant than mere mortality, for there are ramifications of great import. The most important is that mortals are born and die, but they are always changing, whereas the gods never change unless acted upon by an outside force.
The will of mortals allows a person to change themselves, change the mundane world, or even change the static world of mythology.
The Heroquesting process is a quest. By using appropriate magic and methods the individual and their followers enter into the Other Side. Living there are the spirits, heroes, and gods of bygone ages frozen into their ancient actions until living, free-willed energy comes close by. The mythical characters spring to life and the mortal invaders may view, interact, or otherwise take part in the drama which created the world.
Heroquests are designed for a single person to be the center of the action. Most are also designed to require the help of other specialists, and also to reward companions and followers with lesser benefits than those of the main quester. 
Heroquests generally take the form of a “path” which traverses a part of the mythical realm. It is presented as a starting place, a series of waystops where certain events occur, and then a climax. The climax is typically known beforehand because it is the specific act which will give the heroquester the thing they went off to get. This requires passing whatever test is appropriate, then the sacrifice of some part of them.
Afterwards the quest ends with a return of some type back to the mundane world.It is always possible to leave a known path and strike off across the Other Side. This has been done before and there has evolved a rough map of the Other Side. However, the map requires that it be viewed in several different ways at once sometimes because of the interrelationships of certain mythical events. Successful heroquesters are able to switch from path to event and from map to map.
The maps and paths intercross as nodules of mythology which mark the events of importance. Thus it may be possible for a character to start at the Weapons Contest (between Orlanth and Yelm) and then follow the storm god until the Theft of the Sword (from Humakt) and then follow the Sword Myth through the hands of the gods that get it and enter the Underworld by marching with Zorak Zoran’s army, thereby bypassing regular checkpoints!  When we interact with the Godtime, we mortals can change our experience of it, thereby changing the myth. That becomes the new story and the new baseline.This is THE primary challenge of heroquests in a roleplaying game with its group of player characters.  This is mechanically simulated by a sacrifice of POW for Hero Points.  E.g., the Mythic Age maps in the Guide to Glorantha and the more detailed ones in the Cults Book.  This does not need to be the result of careful review of all the stories Greg or I ever wrote. The gamemaster can and should create their own mythic events that “fit” into the themes and archetypes of Glorantha. What matters is that myths should cross each other so that players can work with that.
Greg got so close – within a centimetre! = but then went down the rabbit-hole of creating a new Will and later a Fame characteristic, and then things got too complex to run.
Glorantha can be about ducks, dark trolls and trollkin, and cattle raids. It can at the same time also be about myth and how we interact with the divine.
The Lunar Empire is a universal empire
The Red Emperor does not acknowledge the existence of other peers – his sovereignty and lawful authority is everywhere touched by the light of the Red Moon (ie., the entire Surface World). Near him, in the Heartlands, the world is governed by his satraps – powerful people who collect taxes and organize worship for the Red Emperor, and are tasked with maintaining the peace. Further beyond are the Provinces – ruled by barbarians who have submitted to their rightful ruler. Beyond that are the allies – barbarians who follow the direction of the Red Emperor but have not submitted to him. Beyond that are only rebels – some are rich and powerful, others savage and benighted. This is model is obviously derived from the Solar Empire system. The Red Emperor is perfectly willing to pay barbarians and rebels to submit to him or at least to be allies. What is important is that they acknowledge his position as the sole pillar of legitimacy in the world.
All universal empires are Yelm’s empire. At least on some level.
The Lunar Empire does not acknowledge any peers. Now that does not mean it feels compelled to conquer the world – and in fact it is even willing to accept only a tacit acknowledgement of the Red Emperor’s suzerainty. Which plenty of folk do – the Eolians, the Talatastarings, the Char’un, Garsting, etc. But not the Prince of Sartar, the Holy Country, or most of the tribes of Prax and Pent.
Isn’t this the attitude of the Brithini and possibly the Seshnegi/Rokari?
not really. The Brithini never claimed to be universal rulers. They claim to possess universal truths, but believe that most of the beings of the cosmos are too deluded, foolish, arrogant, etc., to see those truths.The same thing holds true with the various Malkioni groups. None assert claims of universal legitimacy. Even the Middle Sea Empire made its claims based on Power and superior Knowledge, not that it had an inherent authority. They sought to rule the world because they could – that’s a subtle but important difference.
In the end, Yelm and Orlanth did acknowledge each other and reconcile, right? both religions hold that their respective gods made amends and also that in Time their worshipers made trouble. So Yelm is always making the compromise with Orlanth, but also is always the arrogant and foolish emperor, and always in the Weapons Contests with Orlanth. All of these are always true, simultaneously. Worshipers in Time of course can pick whichever always they want at the moment.
Clan Map of the Culbrea, Kheldon, and Aranwyth tribes
As part of several projects, I have been looking at how the various tribes and their component clans lock together. Now that we have a master map of Sartar and all of its tribes, plus a spreadsheet with cult and clan information, this now all is so much easier. So here are the clans of the Culbrea, Kheldon, and Aranwyth tribes, all put together so you can see how they fit together.
There’s a lot in there – but key is that it gives you an idea that these tribes intersect and interact. And that the clans of course exist within a greater system that is not just the single tribe.
This is a work in progress and has lots of little things on it that of use for Matt and myself.
The thin double lines are where the hand-drawn lines from three different maps didn’t exactly line up. I am pretty sure that only happened on tribal boundaries, since I didn’t do clan boundaries except on the map for that specific tribe.
Clan Map of Central Sartar
So as part of a Work in Project that Matt Ryan and I are working on, here is every clan in central Sartar and its approximate borders. The map is a composite of over a dozen drawings from me, so it is imprecise and needs plenty of tweaking. But it is fascinating and an incredible source of ideas for me. Also it shows how much these clans actually have to intersect and interact. And how much they vary in size and claims.But here is is. Knock yourself out with this, but if you want to complain about or fixate on minor details, this is probably not the place.
One thing that is worth mentioning is that there are several different clans with the same name. There are at least two Wildcat clan, and several Owl Clans. In some cases that might point to a common origin, and in at least one set of Owl Clans it is just that Horned Owls are mighty spirits!
Some of the highest population clans (e.g. the Ernaldoring) have some of the smallest territories while some clans with relatively few members (the Daldori) have much bigger territories. That reflects the quality and wealth of the land or the importance of its location.
All of them likely have more than one name. What is listed is just what I know them by.
The population of Lunar Tarsh
About 35% of the population of Lunar Tarsh are members of Lunar cults and a little less than 20% of the population of Lunar Tarsh came from or are descended from settlers from the Lunar Heartlands. Now that is a big number – about 60,000 people – and is mostly concentrated in Furthest (where they make up the majority of the population) and along the Oslir River between Kordros Island and Talfort, with a few colonies on the Kordros Island and around Stopover. This is sometimes called the “Maize Belt” – at least by Matt Ryan and I!These populations do not follow Orlanthi clan structure. Instead they follow Pelorian kinship organization, with networks of kin and associates throughout the kingdom. Land grants were given by the kings – much of this land was taken from rebellious Orlanthi and supporters of Palashee the Usurper.
Outside of this area of course, there are numerous Orlanthi clans, although officials appointed by Furthest resolve disputes between them, lead them in times of war, etc. Most of these officials are converts to the Lunar Way (remember almost half of the Lunars in Tarsh are converts); despite that some are the leaders of powerful clans (such as the Orindori of Dunstop).
This does mean that a clan map of Lunar Tarsh would look a bit strange, with large areas simply labeled as belonging to Furthest, the Temple of the Reaching Moon, or important Lunar families, and then the rural areas looking more like Sartar with numerous clans.
The only place this really happened in Sartar was Wulfsland.
Also worth thinking about is that most of the Lunars in Tarsh are culturally Heartlanders. Furthest is an island of New Pelorian in a sea of Theyalan speakers. A good model for this are the Greek colonies in Persia, Syria, and Bactria.
Does the numbers for the lunar cults also include fire/sky cults such as Yelm? No. The relatively small number of Yelm cultists are all part of that Heartland colonists. The cultists of Yelmalio are culturally Orlanthi, not Heartlander.
A good model for Furthest is Alexandria Eschate (“Alexandria the Furthest”), which for 200 years was the center of a semi-independent Greek-Sogdian polity that was part of the Bactrian kingdom until its conquest by Han China.
In some ways, Furthest is even more Lunar than most of the Lunar Heartlands. Fully 70% of the population belong to Lunar cults, which is higher than pretty much anywhere outside of Glamour. But at the same time there are plenty of Lightbringers cultists, so it is kind of how we might have imagined a Lunar city back in the days of RQ2. Which is kind of appropriate, as it was the Lunar city back in the days of RQ2.
Clans of Sartar Sketch Map WIP
And my map sketchess of each of the Sartarite tribes are finished and now in Matt Ryan’s capable hands. This draft map of all 134 clans of Sartar does not include the ducks, Telmori, Sun Dome County, or Pol-Joni, but does include pretty much everyone else.It is a composite of more than a dozen maps, so forgive the overlaps, double lines, and other errors. I know of a few mistakes I made on the sketches, but that’s always the case with drafts.This map is something of an oversimplification. This shows the territories alloted to each clan by the major Earth temples and recognized by the tribes. Of course, many clan members live in cities and settlements outside of their territories, clan herders bring sheep and cattle outside of the clan areas, and some clans maintain claims on territory not generally recognized by others.
As for clan names, I have listed what I best know the clan as, but many clans have multiple names. For example, the Orlmarth are also the Woodpeckers and the Keepers of Secrets. The size of clan territory does not necessarily reflect population, The Ernaldori are one of the largest clans in terms of numbers and wealth, but one of the smaller clans in terms of territory. The Lissendings are one of the smaller clans in terms of numbers, but they have lots of marginal territory!
Finally in terms of language, the clans south of the Creek speak Sartarite, while the clans north of the Creek largely speak Tarshite. Anyways enjoy the map! It is of course a WiP and subject to minor changes here and there, but is probably 98% there.
Among the top dozen or so most powerful and influential clans in Sartar would have be the Black Rock, Blue Jay, Heran, Ernaldoring, Orlmarth, Taraling, Orleving, Goodhaven, Red Cow, Danstarl, Jereni Bird, Vari, White Quartz, and Sigtani Clans. Some new clans with a lot of clout would have to include the Red Hands and the Sharp Knives. Prior to 1613, the Lorthing Clan would have been on that list, but not any more.
One thing that is nice about this perspective is that we see all of these little clans and regional tribal centres, but at the center is Boldhome, and it is the role of the Prince to lead all of this. Build and maintain roads, muster armies, etc. Many of these muster their militia at their local cities, and the Prince often would inspect them and hand out honours.During the Lunar Occupation, this didn’t happen, but after a generation of omission, it now starts happening again. In fact, under the rule of Prince Argrath, it happens more systematically and intensely than ever before.
Sartar has about 45,000 adults capable of bearing arms in war. Under Argrath, about 20,000 become consistently available and ready for campaigning. Add in another 10,000 Praxian nomads, and you can see why Argrath becomes a serious threat to the Lunar Empire (which they completely underestimate for several years).
Bandits and Bureaucrats: the Ottoman Route to state centralization
Reading a fascinating book “Bandits and Bureaucrats: the Ottoman Route to state centralization” which may well be one of the more useful sources in understanding how the Lunar Empire operates. Highly recommend it.
The Breather Sisters
A random passage from the Boldhome booklet that I find interesting:
The most important cult within the city is that of Orlanth. The Prince is the highest priest of the Orlanth Rex cult in all of Sartar, a source of great magical authority. The cult of Sartar himself is a sub-cult of Orlanth Rex, whose priesthood is traditionally restricted to members of the Royal House. Boldhome is famed for its great temple to Orlanth, the largest in Dragon Pass. The temple has several buildings and holy locations, each dedicated to a specific subcult. The heart of the cult is the Flame of Sartar and Thunder Ridge, but the temples to Orlanth Adventurous and the various deities of Air are among the grandest Orlanth temples in the world. Most of the Orlanth temples were closed during the Lunar Occupation but were reopened when the city was liberated after the Dragonrise. Within the Pockets, Orlanth worship continued under the Occupation as the Breather Sisters, daughters of Orlanth whose dance circulates the sacred breath to deep within the earth.So the Breather Sisters are worshiped – one at the East Pocket, the other at the West Pocket, and they circulate fresh air throughout the maze of rock-carved warrens that make up the Pockets. Their cult was hidden in plain sight during the Lunar Occupation, and as a result, even though the outer temples were closed by the Lunars, the Breather Within continued to be offered worship and sacrifice even during the evil year of 1621-1622.
So even though the Pockets are dwarf-made, they served as important strongholds of the Orlanth cult during the Occupation.
Pockets of Boldhome
The dwarf-made Pockets of Boldhome are particularly remarkable. They are usually labeled as the East Pocket, West Pocket, and Top Pocket. Each Pocket extends deep into the cliff, and is split into terraces, and each terrace has several galleries. Each gallery holds many families, usually organized around guild, clan, or cult activities and named accordingly. These include residences, workshops, temples, and assembly halls, which were carved out of the stone cliffs, and all have access to water and sewage systems (including private toilets connected to the sewer network). Galleries typically have a large communal eating area or feasting hall. These include storage rooms, kitchens, and private dining rooms. They are typically named after the gallery, so the Bonesmith Feasting Hall, etc.
Each gallery has numerous hearths. These are residences, where families sleep, weave, keep their possessions. Each hearth is approximately 15-20 meters square, and typically divided into a series of rooms. There are typically chambers near the hearths for funerary urns, and shrines to the family gods. There are channels with running water, some of which have stone latrines built over them. They are lit by fires that are ventilated by mysterious dwarf-made chimneys. Multiple passages exist between these hearths. The result is a honeycomb-like maze of rooms.
Each gallery has its collection of rooms that are used for worship. They are carved with images of the gods, many engaged in copulation to display the Life-Creative power of the Lightbringers and the Earth Goddesses. They are called Temples, but typically function as shrines to whatever are the predominant gods of the inhabitants of the gallery.Every gallery has its Fire Rooms, located in the rear of the galley. These rooms have kilns and forges, and are used as workshops. This is also where the bathing areas are, with heated pools of running water; some even have steam rooms. The Fire Rooms are ventilated by strange dwarf-made chimneys and tunnels, and have a constant light breeze.
At the very rear of each gallery is a sacred Air shrine, where all the Mostali chimneys and tunnels gather. This chamber appears as vents that runs from the lowest terrace to the open air. Air rushes in and out of these vents, assisted by air elementals and spirits. There are shrines to daughters of Orlanth called the Breather Within where the inhabitants call upon the powers of Air to keep the Pocket habitable. During the Lunar Occupation, these shrines served as a hidden Temple to Orlanth Victorious, where the god was worship despite the Lunar ban.
Joining a Clan
Although every clan traces its origin to a common founding event, spirit, or other occasion which forged the clan, outsiders can and often do join a clan. This is so common that many clans only have a minority of members with biological kinship to that original founding. A new member must be “adopted” by another member (often a clan leader) and swear loyalty to the clan ring, placing themselves under its protection and promising to support the clan against all others. The new member is brought into the clan cult and becomes at least a lay member of the local cult of Orlanth and Ernalda, and pledge themselves to the clan patron deities and spirits. This places the member within the magical protection of the clan spirit, but also opens them to retribution if they betray their oaths. If the outsider merits it, they might be given land or other rights. If not, they are expected to be the tenant of someone else.This process is very flexible and can be deceptively informal, until the pledges and oaths take place. These are watched by spirits and gods, and it is obvious to all present that it is an event of importance and even danger.
Leaving your clan is like leaving a cult.
Leaving a Clan
Leaving a clan and renouncing those ties has consequences similar to leaving a cult. The clan spirits become hostile and may attack or curse those who have renounced the ties of kinship. Such spirits will especially go after former members of the clan ring that abandon their clan.It is possible for members of a clan to leave with the permission of the clan council. Such commonly happens when there is widespread disagreement within a clan and the clan splits to avoid bloodshed. The terms of disassociation are usually agreed upon and the former clan members may leave with no ill-will from the old clan or its spirits.
Clans and Marriage
When you marry someone, you remain in your clan. Your spouse remains in their clan. Marriages are key ties that link clans together.
If your spouse’s clan is in a feud with yours then there is going to be tension! And if your kids belong to the other clan, that’s even worse.That is the stuff tragedy comes from.
What decides what clan the children are in? The type of marriage.
Seven classes of marriage are recognized:
1. Husband and Wife. Both participants have equal property, status, and responsibility. The woman moves to her husband’s house, and children belong to his clan.
2. Husband and Underwife. The husband has more status and property, and consequently more say in what goes on. The woman moves to her husband’s house, and children belong to his clan.
3. Wife and Underhusband. The wife has more status and property, and consequently more say in decision making. The man moves to his wife’s house, but the children belong to his clan.
4. Esrolian husband. The wife has more status and property than the husband. The man moves to his wife’s house, and the children belong to her clan.
5. Year wife or -husband. This is a temporary marriage, renewable after a year, subject to terms listed above.
6. Bed wife or -husband. No property changes hands save for that publicly granted with witness. The children are raised by the individual who is not named in the title. Thus a bed husband is not responsible for raising the children.
7. Love spouse. No property changes hands, even unto going to the children of the pair. A vow of monogamy for its own sake, or the sake of romantic love. Children go the father’s clan.
We all know about the Machine God, that strange Saviour Machine experiment of the God Learners, but as part of an experiment with the University of Yoranday, the God Learners also created an imaginary deity Jogrampur, worshiped alongside other anthropomorphized sorcerer-deities such as Worlath, Ehilm, and Humct. In 901, the priests of these artificial cults displayed effective Rune Magic and destroyed the University of Yoranday, proving at great cost that any path to magical truth can result in real power – even that completely made up.
Belintar is not Jogrampur.
And that is an important thing – there is a tendency for people to want to connect the dots, and fill in between where they think the lines are.Jogrampur shows you that there are dots you never imagined and the lines go far further out than anyone assumes.
Any path to magical truth leads to magical power. Even if they are completely made up. It is just harder to get there and less likely that the path leads anywhere.
There are gods even without worship or belief. And they have power even if we do not know who or what they are.
Notes on the Malkioni
I was recently talking to Nick Brooke about the Third Age Malkioni of Seshnela and Fronela. I thought I’d share some of those notes, as much to remind me of them!
The Malkioni are emphastically not medieval – but Moorcockian or Vancean sword and sorcery. Core to the Malkioni is conflict between the rationalists and the savages. Malkionism is obsessed with imposing reason on the world – non-Malkioni are barbarian irrational savages, even if they rule vast empires. Malkioni are always hyper-civilized, assisted perhaps by half-barbarians, but they themselves are always rational, reflective men (and women) of action. Their foes are always savage, irrational, superstitious, ruled by fear and ignorance.
This conflict between civilized reason and savage irrationality is core to the Malkioni self-image. Discarding the medieval paradigm lets the West be more Moorcockian and more sword and sorcery, with mendek wizards manipulating Moorcockian talars, aided by half-savage holari, and with all the work done by vast throngs of dronars that all get ignored by everyone else.
The archetypical hero of the Malkioni is a reflective hero who acts AND questions the rightness of his or her deeds (that whole Hrestoli chivalry thing) until realizing that these doubts are self-defeating. And then BOY DOES OUR HERO ACT! Meanwhile, our hero is aided (and frustrated) by the zzaburi who follow wherever their logic leads them to its conclusion. Together they face hordes of nearly mindless savages, ecstatic temptresses, and dark monsters.
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