2022-01 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

    How mythology underpins Glorantha

    Flora and Fauna of Dragon Pass


    During the Inhuman Occupation, much of Sartar was dotted with clumps of elf woods. These were mainly yellow pine forests with stands of beech, cedar, Douglas fir, oak, and white spruce, and even a few carefully guarded redwood groves. Remnants of these pine forests still survive around the base of the Quivin and Storm Mountains, near the Indigo Mountains, and in the Lost Man Thickets. Tarndisi’s Grove is an isolated stand of this older forest.Before human settlement, the valley floors were mostly grassland with scattered copses of oak. Much of this land is now heavily cultivated with wheat, barley, grapes, and orchards. Tall, leafed trees like aspens, cottonwoods and sycamores line the riparian zones, and on the stream banks, bayberries (used for both healing purposes and candlemaking) grow profusely. North of the Creek in the Donalf Flats there are still broad expanses of grasslands with scattered stands of oaks and pines. The hills of Sartar have mixed oak and pine woodland and savanna, where oaks and pines are the dominant trees, and open grassland, filled with wildflowers in late Sea Season. Jang is a common flower, used also as a healing plant. Brush fires are common during late Fire Season and early Earth Season, marking the presence of Oakfed. Above 900 meters, the oak woodlands give way to stands of yellow pine, white firs, spruce, and incense cedars. In the eastern Guardian Hills, the oaks and pine savannah gives way to low-stunted conifers and the thickets of dark-leafed shrubs, sagebrush, and bunchgrass of Prax.


    Dragon Pass is famed for its draconic inhabitants. Dream dragons, wyrms, and wyverns are rare but hardly unknown. More commonly seen are the herds of dinosaurs that can be found around the Moaning Valley or along the outskirts of the Upland Marsh, including ankylosaurs, brontosaurs, hadrosaurs, and triceratops. Less common are carnivorous dinosaurs such as allosaurs, deinonychus, pteranodons, and the occasional spinosaur or tyrannosaur. Dinosaurs are sacred to the Earth goddesses, particularly Maran Gor.

    Of the larger mammals, bighorn sheep, bison, boar, deer, elk, impala, and sables are common. The occasional sky bull or mammoth herd can be found in the high elevations, and a few mastodon herds dwell in the wooded areas. Pig dogs are also occasionally seen. Carnivorous mammals include grizzlies, the more commonly seen black bears, and the rare white bear. Sightings of badgers, coyote, foxes, otters, rubble runners, shadowcats, and wolves are common; cougars and saber-toothed cats are present but less frequently seen. Jaguars are occasionally seen in the lower elevation areas of southern Sartar. Smaller mammals include chipmunks, jackrabbits, martens, porcupines, red squirrels, ringtail cats, and skunks.

    The area is rich in reptile life, including corn snakes, kingsnakes, and rattlesnakes. The diamondback rattlesnake is the largest snake regularly seen. Cliff toads and rock lizards are not uncommon, especially in the Guardian Hills. Giant turtles can be found in riparian areas. There are countless species of birds, including bluebirds, blue jays, crows, hummingbirds, ravens, redbirds, swans, wild turkeys, and woodpecker. Although the area is famed for the little anthropomorphic duck people, there are also normal ducks. There are golden eagles and other birds of prey such as the osprey, red-tailed hawk, falcons, and many types of owls. Vultures and condors are common, particularly in the Guardian Hills.Giant insects are common, particularly near the Troll Woods or the Indigo Mountains. The giant wasps of the Wasps Nest range throughout southern Sartar, and giant bees are frequently seen near the Vale of Flowers.

    Art by Cory Trego-Erdner!

    Non-Chaotic cults that are Friends or Neutral to Primal Chaos

    What cults would have a less antagonistic view of chaos (particularly seeing it as simply a part of the greater world at large rather than something ‘evil’ or inherently ‘wrong?’)

    Let’s put aside cults with the Chaos Rune (Red Goddess, Nysalor, Thed, Vivamort, Crimson Bat, etc.) or weird specific Chaotic cult specific associations (like Thed and Daka Fal) and just look at non-Chaotic cults that are Friend towards Primal Chaos:

    • Hon-eel
    • Hwarin Dalthippa
    • Yara Aranis

    OK, that’s a short list.

    How about non-Chaotic cults that are Neutral towards Primal Chaos:

    • Black Fang
    • Etyries
    • Gorgorma
    • Humakt
    • Ourania

    Another short (but interesting) list.

    From time to time, it is worth bringing some material you likely already have to your attention – here’s an explanation of what Gloranthan magic is from the RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha core rules:

    What is Magic?

    To grossly oversimplify, Gloranthan magic is the interaction of mortals existing within Time with the timeless and eternal powers of the God Time. In the God Time, there was no division between the worlds of men and gods, between life and death, or body and spirit. The Gods War introduced the power of Death, which separated all with violence, death, and entropy. War entered the world and the endless beauty and harmony of the universe was destroyed. Reality was fractured. The eternal gods themselves would have ceased to exist but for the Cosmic Compromise, whereby the gods that still existed abdicated their free will within the temporal world voluntarily, rather than lose their All into the maws of nonexistence. The gods remained eternal, at the cost of being restricted henceforth to only the deeds they had performed during the God Time, which are now fixed and unchanging in the world of Time. If the gods were ever to transgress their fixed and allocated positions in the Cosmos, they would enter the shifting world of Time and would be destroyed by Death and entropy.

    Mortals exist within Time. The necessity of Death in the world of Time is another result of the Cosmic Compromise. Mortals are separated from the gods, are subject to both Life and Death, and upon death their spirits are separated from their physical bodies.The dualistic worlds of eternal God Time and mortal Time are the basic polarities of Glorantha. From these opposing poles comes all known reality. Magic is the result of the interaction of these two worlds; drawing upon the timeless and eternal God Time to affect the mortal world of Time. With magic, a priest of Orlanth can call down thunderbolts from the sky, a Praxian warrior might call upon a spirit to guide his arrow true, or a sorcerer might command the waters to seize and capsize an enemy trireme.

    Greg’s one-liner’s

    Rick Meints: I had the pleasure of occasionally cornering Greg and getting the chance to ask him about these sorts of things. In general, Glorantha is full of a lot of “one-liner” references that never really got fleshed out. By “one-liners” I mean that they are mentioned only once or twice and often with just a single sentence. Another such example of a one-liner would be Falangian Wine in King of Sartar.

    When I asked about that Greg just said, “That’s up to the reader to decide what it is”. Me: Yep. And a lot of these one-liners should not and will not get defined outside of the individual reader.The effort to answer all questions, to resolve all mysteries – well, that is what destroyed the Second Age. Ponder that carefully and get a bonus to your Illumination role next Sacred Time!

    The impulse to answer all questions, to resolve all mysteries – that is the core of the God Learners philosophy. THAT and not things like the Monomyth or mythic synthesis – is what caused the catastrophes and endangered the world.

    Many mysteries are and should remain mysteries – the answer should be experienced and personal, and then not spoken of except to those who have experienced their own personal answer except in the most banal and open of manners. That is certainly how Gloranthans approach them.

    To those who want to us to answer in writing every mystery – rather than have you experience an answer through playing the game – like Zola, I say, “J’Accuse…!”

    many of the big secrets should also be personal experiences. I don’t mean future events – those are just there – but what those events mean, why they are, and so on.


    Now we all know this guy – the son of Malkion in most stories, and the First Wizard. Supposedly he’s been around for more than five thousand years and is the master of the Brithini sorcerer caste, and his sorcery is said to have destroyed entire nations, closed off the seas, and twice nearly changed the very nature of the world.He’s kind of a Pandelume figure from Vance’s Dying Earth. Like Pandelume, Zzabur possesses knowledge of many things which are otherwise lost or unknown to mortals, “including the method of creating artificial life, of all the spells which have ever been invented, and of mundane sciences such as mathematics.” But like Pandelume, Zzabur is a mortal (if ageless). He is not perfect nor infallible, although he never admits an error. And like Pandelume, Zzabur no longer exists in this world, as he and his island of Brithos have vanished from the mundane world, to no one’s regret.I imagine Zzabur is incredibly alone, removed from even his fellow Brithini. He remembers interacting with the gods, views them as beings like himself – but he is not a god. He was a first hand witness to many of his father’s pronouncements, at least to begin with. But Zzaburi rejected his father’s second revelation – that of Solace and he did not accompany his father when he departed Brithos. Some claim Zzabur was a parricide and was even responsible for Malkion’s death, but most say he turned his back on his father and made his own arrangements to survive the end of the world.Greg never liked Zzabur and what he stood for (and thus in all of Greg’s stories, Zzabur comes over as an unmitigated arrogant prick), but he was an important part of Glorantha and one of its earliest characters.

    Given that there is not even consensus as to whether Malkion departed to make a place in Beyond or was murdered by the rebellious gods, I think cannot help but have much less consensus in Malkionism than in religions like Christianity. Saying the cosmos is knowable and understandable is an invitation to people trying to know and understand the cosmos.

    Greg always hated Zzabur and that comes over in everything Greg wrote from his perspective.If Zzabur is also a specific person and not “just” a title, I would imagine he would be both mortal and very alien to us. Older than any other Brithini, and very very alone. He’s mortal though – even if undying. More of a Pandelume and Brithos has become Embelyon.

    Are all of Zzaburs contemporaries (Horal, Talar, Waertag etc) dead? Horal is dead, Talar is dead, and Dronar is dead. Waertag as well. Vadel is long dead too. Just lonely Zzabur, the last brother.

    Zzabur is pure ego – he is the great objectifier. He is the intellect that stands between Us and Things. He seeks to survive at whatever cost, knowing that as a mortal his ego is all there is to him – the soul is sentimental drivel and spirit is merely an animating energy. Egoism is his drive – a very personal egoism. “I AM that I AM.”He is also a very very very old mortal who lives alone in a tower and knows lots of things.

    Good old Zzabur is usually claimed as Malkion’s first or second son with the goddess Britha. Zzabur was given the Great Gift of sorcery from his father, who was a mortal beings, not a god.

    The Way of Hrestol

    The Way of Hrestol began in the land of Seshnela in the year 2 ST, but its importance stems from the culture from which it separated, the Brithini. This prehistoric culture began long before the Darkness and it’s the root of the Western culture of Glorantha.

    The ancient race of Brithos was called the Malkioni after its father and founder, or sometimes Brithini after the island goddess who was the mother of that people.

    Malkion and Britha had five children, four of whom were sons and established the four Malkioni castes. There was also a daughter who established the Britha Priestesses, so important on Brithos. Malkion’s children populated the land, and established the Kingdom of Logic and its form.

    Talar was eldest, and he received the Crown of Malkion as his share of his father’s realm; Zzabur the Sorcerer Supreme was second, and was master of the spiritual world; Horal Swordson was third, and was a soldier who carried a sword from Humakt the war god; and Dronar Plow was last, who had so many children who worked merrily for the support of the older brothers.

    The Malkioni fared well during the War of the Gods, especially with the skills of Zzabur, who was as powerful as many of the gods of the time. Once, they even forestalled a dire internal dispute which could have torn them apart and made them easy pretty for Chaos, as happened to so many others.

    This event led to the departure of Talar’s eldest son, Froalar, Prince and heir to the throne, from Brithos to avoid a civil war with his brothers. Many others went with him, and they started the first Malkioni colony called Froalarwal (later shortened to Frowal) in Seshnela.

    Froalar led his people, called the Seshnegi, through the Great Darkness, and even aided the hostile beast worshipers of the wild who were his enemies. His wife, Xemela, performed a heroic self-sacrifice and saved her people from darkness demons and Chaos. When the Dawn came, the peoples of Frowal found themselves well off in comparison to the rest of the world.

    However, the wild hill barbarians showed no gratitude or friendship, and quickly returned to harassment and war. Froalar and his court zzaburi were distressed as to the proper course of action. The goddess Ifttala, a daughter of Seshna Likita the Earth Goddess, was the mother of the hill barbarians and as long as she aided them, the Dawn Age would be ruled by war and conflict.

    And so, in the spring of the second year of Time, Prince Hrestol, the son of King Froalar, swore to slay Ifttala and bring peace to the land. When Hrestol asked his father’s zzaburi how this could be done, they said:“You must be as a god and know what they know. You must be a leader, as you are now. But it is not enough. You must be a warrior, and know how to wield a sword as well as any man bred to it. You must know prayers, like your cousins who study under me. And you must know the secrets of the earth, like the plowmen who feed us. Only thusly by combining the four tasks which Malkion gave to his sons will you be as a god to perform a god’s task.

    ”The court feared this was blasphemy, and Hrestol purified himself and went to the temple of Malkion the Founder to ask the ancestor. Malkion revealed himself to Hrestol and presented the hero with a helm and shield, armor and a sword, and a book. And as he did so he spoke saying, “Let the old ways be changed in Seshneg, for you are set upon by a mighty foe. Let those who would lead do so. Let those who would fight do so. Let those who would reap and sow do so. Let those who would study and learn sorcery do so. Go forth, and do as you wish, for my blessings go with you. And may all the gods look upon you with favor.

    ”And thus it was that Prince Hrestol became the first of the Men-of-All, the champions of the Malkioni. Hrestol became the best swordsman in the land. He learned the earth secrets of the farmers and spells of battle that blunt enemy’s blades and staunch the flow of blood from a wound. He studied the sacred book which Malkion gave him and was the basis of the Code of Hrestol. He tamed the wild horse and learned how to fight from horseback. When he was ready, Hrestol went into the earth and with Malkion’s sword he slew Ifttala.

    Although successful in his quest, Hrestol was slain, not by the barbarians but by Seshna Likita, Ifttala’s mother and goddess of the land. However, the Prince managed to retain some memory, skills and identity in the Land of the Dead and continued his quest.

    When King Froalar learned of Hrestol’s death, Froalar set off himself to beg for the return of his son’s life. Froalar met with the goddess Seshna Likita and successfully bargained with her for Hrestol’s return. Froalar could not return Ifttala in return, and so Hrestol was exiled forever from Seshnela. Hrestol went on to commit other great deeds, but none were ever as far reaching or important as his Godslaying. Hrestol taught others the way of the Men-of-All (sometimes translated as “chivalry” or “knights”) and they rose to greatness and carried on as a shining example for humanity for generations.

    Olives in Sartar

    Esrolia, Caladraland, God Forgot-Esvular, and much of Maniria have conditions where you could grow olives.

    In addition, in Esrolia-Caladraland, you can grow lemon fruits and oranges, along with grapes, and olives. Add in sassafras, plenty of spices, chili peppers, oregano, and sugarcane.

    Olives would fall within the ambit of the local Earth goddess or Grain Goddess. Ernalda, Esrola, etc. combined with Flamal. Bless Crops and Bear Fruit are your friends.

    Third Age Malkioni movements

    So let’s talk a little about some of the Third Age Malkioni movements. The Second Age broke Malkionism. Let’s say that again – the Second Age broke Malkionism. Most of the intellectual centers of Malkionism – Jrustela, Seshnela, and Brithos – were sunk, broken, or disappeared. The Oceans – long the highways of the Malkioni were closed to humanity.

    Hrestolism – the mainstream of Malkionism since the early Dawn – had been delivered a catastrophic blow. Not just in numbers, but in self-confidence. The Invisible God had struck against the God Learners and the Middle Sea Empire.

    That is not the rallying cries of the enemies of Hrestolism – that is what mainstream establishment Hrestoli agreed. Something had gone terribly wrong in Malkionism – and mainstream Hrestolism was to blame.

    And so the Third Age opened with Malkioni intellectuals – especially among the zzaburi and talars – trying to figure out how things went wrong. In Loskalm, the Irensavalists said it was because the so-called Hrestoli worshiped Makan the Demiurge instead of the Invisible God. They deeply inspected Hrestoli’s life and deeds and the New Idealists came up with a radical form of Hrestolism that Hrestoli himself would not have recognized.

    In the ruins of Seshnela and Tanisor came another answer – the problem was Hrestol himself. He twisted Malkionism so that he could murder the daughter of Seshna Likita and conquer the Pendali (who happened to be claimed as ancestors of the Tanisor talars). Hrestol betrayed Malkionism and if the Malkioni were to survive they were to try to figure out how to adapt Malkionism to the world of Time without going down Hrestol’s path. This is the origin of Rokarism.

    In Ralios, many concluded that Arkat was likely not the villain the God Learners claimed he was, and a myriad of sects claiming to know the secrets of the Dark Empire sprouted up.

    This is the context in which Malkionism developed in the Third Age. In Tanisor (which now claims the ancient Serpent Crown of Seshnela), the Rokari movement is backed by the talars and nearly all Zzaburi publicly ascribe to it. They have excised the errors and corruption of Hrestol, Arkat, and the God Learners from Malkionism – the proof has been a strong and powerful kingdom, the Opening, and the defeat of their foes.

    The only remnant of old school Hrestolism I can think of offhand is the Castle Coast. Which we often romanticise, but let’s think about what it is – the dwarf made fortress of Rhis, and the ruins of Frowal and Laurmal, plus a few heavily fortified strongholds. I kind of imagine it like the later Crusader states, after the loss of Jerusalem.

    By and large, I don’t think the Castle Coast Hrestoli are filled with optimistic self-confidence. They are at best like the inhabitants of Gormenghast, performing rituals they no longer know the purpose of. At worst, they are the Vadraigh, hiding away in castles, wilfully oblivious to the changes over the last six hundred years.

    There also just are not all that many folk in the Castle Coast – maybe 50,000, which is about the population of The Far Place (the area around Alda-Chur plus Alone).

    Slontos, once the gem of the Middle Sea Empire, was also sunk. The rulers of Ramalia are wracked with fear – and the cruel lords grasp onto power with the aid of amoral sorcerers, who Tap all who oppose the rulers. It is a police state of lords and sorcerers, backed by sadistic soldiers.

    Groups like the Manirian Merchant Princes or the Aeolians are not particularly influential on the development of mainstream Malkionism. They are too far removed, too influenced by the Orlanthi (heck, many consider them to be just Orlanthi with some sorcerers – which is not entirely wrong).

    In short, the Castle Coast is a melancholic place, dreaming about a past it no longer believes in, but rejecting a future it cannot be a part of.

    The Manirian Road and the Trader Princes

    So as part of our Third Age Malkioni discussion, lets get to the Manirian Road and the Trader Princes. Remember what this is – it is a trade route between Safelster and Esrolia, dating back some 400 years. During the Closing this was the only way to get goods and people between Ralios (and from there to Seshnela) and the Holy Country.

    The route was founded around 1170 by a talar named Castelain, who was descended from the god Issaries and worshipped by his kinship group as an ancestor (which is permitted by talars even under orthodox Malkionism). This was common among those talar clans that handled long-distance trade under the Silver Empire and later under the Middle Sea Empire, and many lesser talar families traced their descent to Issaries. This would have been around the time when the Kingdom of Jorstland dominated Ralios.

    Castelain got spectacularly wealthy – imagine the markup of kafl, spices, iron, and other Western goods in an Esrolia cut off from trade. Of course he got his kin – his immediate family, cousins, and other clan members – in on the act. They made pacts with the local Orlanthi tribes, established settlements and caravanserai, and as talars, quickly fit into the role of judges in disputes between the tribes. They took Orlanthi and Esrolian wives and became part of the local network of alliances and kinship, but preserved their ancient role as talars, and invited zzaburi to aid them. Peace was maintained so that goods and people could be traded between Ralios and Kethaela – and when Belintar unified Kethaela into the Holy Country, that trade boomed!

    They brought the Invisible God with them as well, although the locals continued to worship the Lightbringers. Eventually there was a degree of syncretism, although it was mostly one-sided. The Invisible God became a distant creator, and the Lightbringers were worshiped by everyone. Issaries was the favorite of the Trader Princes – their ancestor and patron. Some smatterings of Arkat stuff from Safelster likely got passed along as well, and zzaburi from Safelster or Tanisor could get good money working for a Trader Prince family.

    If this sounds familiar, it is basically the Silk Road story.

    But the Malkionism of the Trader Princes is pretty much worship of Issaries (as an ancestor, so it is ok!). With imported zzaburi to give respectability (not enough locals to keep the numbers up – besides the imported sorcerers are better trained). This manages to keep the Trader Princes from going completely native. Although I expect the zzaburi are well paid for this gig.

    And so the Trader Princes have a curious “dominion”- the local tribes work with them because 1. they are good neutral judges, and 2. they give the local tribes a cut of their profits. The local Storm Voices get gifts, the Earth Priestesses are consulted (and the Trader Princes do not claim the land), and warriors get hired as mercenaries and guards. Win win for everyone!At least it is until the Opening. And suddenly it becomes cheaper to send a ship laden with goods to Handra than to send it overland across Maniria.

    And if this sounds familiar, it is basically Barry Cunliffe’s theory on the collapse of the Hallstatt Fürstensitze and the rise of the La Tene warrior migrations.

    The existence of gods regardless of nomenclature is not doubted by most Malkioni.

    Malkioni Likes and Dislikes

    A few notes about things to keep in mind when thinking about the Malkioni:

    Particular Likes and Dislikes

    The Malkioni distrust gods in general. There is a strong current of ancestor worship in Malkionism, and at times the Malkioni have made their ancestors surpass the gods in power, or else reduced the gods into mere superhuman heroes or multinational ancestors. Some sects reject all worship of the gods, others make exceptions for specific deities. For example, in the Second Age, the God Learners spread the Lightbringer cults of Chalana Arroy, Issaries, and Lhankor Mhy throughout the Middle Sea Empire. Even those sects that do not worship the gods rarely oppress worship of the gods by non-Malkioni.

    Most cults of other gods despise and fear members of the zzaburi caste. The zzaburi consider the gods to be individuals who mastered themselves, as the zzaburi strives to do. They consider the gods to be peers. Those who worship the gods are lesser men, those who couldn’t make it. Naturally, these attitudes cause considerable friction between the worshipers of the gods and zzaburi.

    The Malkioni distrust and dislike the Elder Races in general, although again exceptions are often made by specific sects. The Malkioni lump all the Elder Races together with the Orlanthi hill barbarians and even Chaos monsters until the category of “krjalk.”The Malkioni recognize the force of evil and call it the Devil. The Devil is the god of Chaos. The Devil is the worst of all the beings who forgot the Invisible God, for he turned the wondrous forces of life against himself and tried to destroy the world in the process


    The talars are directly descended from the first-born son of Malkion, They venerate their ancestors – kings, heroes, and even gods – as a means of connection to the supreme power of the Invisible God. The earliest ancestors were the children of gods, and can intercede with the Elemental gods and the Powers on behalf of their descendants. As a result, Talars must carefully learn their lineage, and act as links between past generations of leaders and the present time.

    Upon death, the remains of a talar are buried beneath the earth. Mounds, shrines, or other structures are typically built atop the grave. Cults to specific ancestors are common among their descendants. In the First Age, the royal burial mounds of the Seshnegi Serpent Kings were sacred complexes and the center of much religious activity. Other such cults, such as those of Xemela, Hrestol, Gerlant, and Talor, are now worshiped by members of all Malkioni castes.

    There’s a lot in there – and a lot that moves the Malkioni away from being crude analogies to medieval Christians or Muslims into something purely Gloranthan.

    Under Malkioni humanism, mortals can and should wield the creative power of gods and without needing to worship beings other than themselves. The world can be explained, understood, and mastered through human reason and logic alone.

    Now that is a radical statement in Glorantha. The Theyalans, Lunars, and Praxians view it as insane hubris. The Elder Races view it as a not-so veiled threat.


    So let’s talk about sorcery. First thing is obvious – it is very different from other magic systems. With spirit magic, you have a spirit that you know how to concentrate on (with your foci!) and it does whatever effect it can do. Makes your blade sharp, makes you strong, heals people. whatever.

    With Rune magic, you wield a fraction of the power of the god. You are your god’s conduit to act in the mundane world. For that brief moment, you are the manifestation of your god in the mundane world. The limitations of this is you MUST maintain that connection to the god, which limits your actions and forces you to give time and resources (both material and spiritual) to that god!

    Sorcery isn’t any of that. Sorcery is something that must be learned, and is arduous to learn. You must learn to construct vast memory palaces, and create mental connections with points in the God Time. A lot of that is just rote learning and takes years.

    Then you learn spells. These are careful paths through these “memory palaces” and mental connections that enable you to create an effect in the mundane world. The limitations of this is obvious – you are slow, learning spells is difficult, only a tiny percentage of people have the time to learn how to do this (and must be supported by the rest of society).

    But the advantages? You don’t need gods or spirits. You can cast any spell you are capable of learning (or creating).

    So if only a tiny minority of specialists can learn sorcery, how do most Malkioni do magic?Easy. Most people – talars, soldiers, and workers – use a combination of spirit magic and Rune magic. They also get some magic by upholding their caste duties and restrictions.For example, the talars have the ability to give commands to Malkioni from other castes. They can also worship their ancestors and gain magic from them. And they have limited access to spirit magic. The horali can learn spirit magic from their regiments or war societies, and can belong to some cults of war gods. And the dronari can join whatever cults approved by their talars.

    But of course, if you are Malkioni, your options are limited by the talars (and not directly the zzaburi). If your talar says you shall not worship Orlanth, that’s going to put a damper on things. This is a bigger limitation for horali than for dronari (mainly because as long as the dronari feed everyone and do the work, it is rare to ask them questions).

    Wait, I sometimes hear, but sorcery requires me to empty my mind of other thoughts so that I can use my INT to manipulate the size the spell. That means I need to “forget” my other spells (put them somewhere in a memory palace) and then spend an hour meditating on a new spell when I need to cast it. But what if I am on an adventure somewhere and need to do lots of things?

    My answer is simple – you are a zzaburi. You are a magical specialist – the equivalent of a university research professor. You ought to have horali and talars there to take care of your mundane needs – including your protection!

    A truly great sorcerer can probably bind some really powerful spirits. Bound spirits or Large or Very Large Elementals are the sort of things that could be bound into a matrix and be released and then Dominated.

    Some Rune cults – particularly Lhankor Mhy dabble in sorcery, and their spells can be very useful in gaining information. Dabbling in sorcery works fine for player characters, but playing a full-fledged sorcerer is hard. It can be done, of course, just like it is possible to play a Mistress Race Troll or a dryad.

    if you are playing a sorcerer (and I mean a real sorcerer, not a mere dabbler like LM or CA) then you are playing in a very different kind of game than most. You better be ready dive into things with what you already can do, and then see what new secrets you are capable of gaining. Because things are going to happen a lot faster than the ivory tower is used to or good at dealing with.

    Alternatively, you take them out of the Ivory Tower and say, ready or not it is time to do what you can in the world. And see what they make of it.

    HeroQuesting & The Proximate Holy Realm

    So when we think about heroquesting, the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, and Belintar’s Holy Country, one common thread is the idea of the “Proximate Holy Realm”.

    The mundane world and the divine realm are distinct. Many philosophers and priests claim that the divine realm (which exists eternally in the God Time) underlies and defines our mundane world. We all know that they overlap during worship ceremonies and at some specific places where the divine realm erupts through the mundane world.

    Heroquesters interact with both realms. They are mortals, born in Time, but their heroquests have them interacting with archetypes and powers tied to the divine realm These interactions follow prehistoric patterns eternally present in the cosmos. Life is always producing Life, Death is always Separating the Living from the Dead, Air overcomes Fire/Sky, Fire/Sky overcomes Darkness, etc. This overlap of the divine realm and the mundane world that the heroquester interacts is usually called the Hero Plane.

    After the wild heroquests that ended the First Age – Arkat and Harmast are best known, but there were far more than those two – priests in Dragon Pass came up with the idea of the Proximate Holy Realm. Through widespread use of magic and adoption of the “holy customs”, the divine realm could be brought closer to people. These holy customs encroached on clan and tribal organization by requiring that leaders meet certain magical criteria that were in the hands of the organized religion of Orlanth and Ernalda. Within a generation or two, the priests became a centralized hierarchy ruled by a Sacred Ring that in turned ruled all of Dragon Pass.

    The Proximate Holy Realm brought widespread prosperity and peace to Dragon Pass. But maintaining this required an increasing amount of magic energies and resources. As the Orlanthi learned to communicate with the dragons, eventually the Sacred Ring learned to do so around 725 and become the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, which gave far greater magical resources to the Sacred Ring which meant that the Sacred Ring – restyled the Third Council in 826 – had vast surpluses, at least at first. As the EWF expanded it gained more resources, and in 889 the Third Council accelerated the process, and demanded to be worshiped directly as gods.

    The costs of maintaining this grew, but the EWF no longer expanded. With rebellions, it began to contract and lost resources as the requirements to maintain the Proximate Holy Realm continued grew. The people were forced to offer more and more to the Third Council, and received less and less for it. The Third Council was visibly decadent and exploitive, and the tottering edifice collapsed in 1042.

    Belintar had a different solution. His deeds uniting the lands of Kethaela brought his Holy Country close to the Proximate Holy Realm. But he maintained this through his Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, which summoned heroquesters from far and wide. The Tournament resulted in a new Belintar and magically reunited the Holy Country, as described elsewhere. It was easy to cross over into the divine realm and vice versa, especially during the Tournament. The Holy Country enjoyed centuries of peace and prosperity, but Belintar was slain by Jar-eel in 1616 and the Tournament failed to produce a successor.

    But many philosophers believe that Dragon Pass remains close to a Proximate Holy Realm, especially during the Hero Wars. Some claim this is because of the Lunar efforts to change the divine realm itself, others think it is a result of the True Dragons that have been awakened in Dragon Pass, starting with the Dragonrise. Whatever the reason, wild heroquesting was increasingly common among all participants in the Hero Wars, arguably even more so than in the Gbaji Wars.


    Given that we have a good foot or more of snow on the ground, now is a good time to talk about Valind within the context of Orlanthi society.

    Valind is the God of Winter, and his cult is associated with Orlanth Adventurous, providing Snow. The cults of Valind and Orlanth are friendly and associated, even if the gods often brawled. There are often shrines to Valind in Orlanth’s mountain temples in Dragon Pass.

    Valind is not socially useful or powerful – but he does serve as a minor war god and his cult can propitiate the forces of winter. His few initiates in Dragon Pass live on mountains where it is winter all year long.

    Valind’s cult is Friendly towards the Lightbringers, Mastakos, Odayla, Rathor, Uleria, Xentha, Xiola Umbar, and Zorak Zoran and associated with Orlanth, Inora, Himile, Storm Bull, and Ygg. Everyone else is Neutral or worse.And he really hates the Red Goddess.

    Is Vadrus still worshiped? No. He has no cult. Vadrus was destroyed during the Gods War by the forces of Chaos. As a result, he can be encountered in the God Time, but he cannot manifest in Time.

    What about Inora of the Glacier (the White Princess of Prax) and source of the drepnir heroquest? Inora. She’s in the Cults Book. Orlanth’s half-sister and Associated with both Orlanth and Valind.INORAThe goddess of Mountain Snow is the half-sister of Orlanth. When they met on the Hill of Gold, Orlanth gave her the Mountain Wind as her servant, and in return, received the right to be unhindered by her in the high mountains. She provides Snow to Thunderous initiates.

    Cults of Glorantha YouTube Interview

    An interview with me about what RuneQuest books are coming up! Part one I talk a lot about the forthcoming Cults Book.

    Tribal members living

    One thing to keep in mind is that every tribe also has members living outside of the tribal lands. Most of those people permanently reside in the cities – Boldhome, Jonstown, Swenstown, and Wilmskirk – and might have for generations. They are nonetheless members of their tribes.

    For example, in Boldhome an approximate breakdown is as follows:

    Tribe Population in Boldhome

    • Aranwyth 350
    • Balkoth 200
    • Balmyr 350
    • Cinsina 500
    • Colymar 550
    • Culbrea 550
    • Dinacoli 150
    • Dundealos 250
    • Kheldon 900
    • Kultain 150
    • Lismelder 100
    • Locaem 200
    • Malani 300
    • Sambarri 350
    • Telmori 450
    • Torkani 300
    • Alone 200
    • Aldachur 350
    • Other 300

    So you can see than the Kheldon actually have almost a 20% of their total numbers in Boldhome – 900 in the city and 4000 in their tribal lands.This is why the tribal manors are so important – they are places where tribemembers can go to resolve disputes with other tribal members and where they can get support in any dispute that might need to go to the Prince.

    So you can also imagine at tribal assemblies, you get all these urban kinfolk showing up. With their connections, fancy clothes, and all that.

    Thus in Boldhome, the Kheldon tribe are the most numerous and powerful tribe within the city. A distant second are the Culbrea and Colymar tribes, and third place is the Cinsina. Fourth place are actually the Telmori.Everyone else is small potatoes. And periodically people have to be reminded that the Lismelder are a tribe (“the who?”).

    So if your adventurer is a member of the Colymar tribe, there’s a good chance she has kin in Boldhome. And not just a few, the average Colymar clan would have 46 members in Boldhome.

    Telmori still exist as a tribe. Whether Sartar’s Peace can be reconstituted now that there is a new Prince is another question. The Telmori have not been enrolled as Kallyr’s royal bodyguard – the massacre of the Maboder and other Telmori depredations plus Jomes Wulf and the brutal reprisals against the Telmori are a lot to just sweep under the rug.

    Aha, you might say – that only totals up to 6500 people. But you have already said there are 10,000 humans in Boldhome!Well, 3500 people in Boldhome, more than a third, aren’t Sartarite. About 2000 come from the Holy Country – say 700 from Esrolia, 1000 from Heortland, and 300 from the rest (probably mainly Caladraland). And another 1500 come from elsewhere – Grazelands, Prax, and Tarsh mainly.

    There are also 1000 members of the Elder Races in Boldhome. The largest group are trolls – 675, although 300 are trollkin. There are also 200 elves in the city. And just outside the city in the mountains are 2000 dragonewts.

    Remember that existing tribal numbers don’t factor in urban populations. The numbers represent the population within the tribal boundaries. So the 4000 Lismelder within the tribal boundaries likely includes a few hundred non-Lismelder spouses and guests. But I have zero interest in going down to that level of detail at this point.

    We know of the Tribal Halls in Boldhome…Are there also “Clan Halls” for the most represented clans? No, these things get handled at a tribal level. Clans are first and foremost kinship groups, while tribes are hierarchical political institutions comprised of several large kinship groups.You might have areas or activities in a city controlled by a clan – I could certainly see the Black Rock monopolising certain things in Boldhome or the Frithan or Goodhaven in Jonstown.

    Where do urban Telmori go or what do they do on Wildday? They stay in their tribal cave.

    Storm Season 1625 Kallyr Starbrow’s Lightbringers’ Summons

    In Storm Season 1625, Prince Kallyr Starbrow summoned an assembly in Boldhome. Before the assembled citizens of many tribes, she formally made the Lightbringers’ Summons.

    Chaos stalks my world.
    Broos have bruised me, the Hand has pawed me.
    I have taken up the impossible path,
    And seek those who must aid my task.
    You are not the first of my friends.
    Others walked with me to Heal.
    The Devil took them, they died.
    I failed to save them, Chaos grows.

    Any master of one of the seven Lightbringer cults must answer the legitimate call of the summons or lose all power and benefit of their god. The priests and lords present in Boldhome answer the call:

    I hear and stand before you,
    But I am only one.
    What would you have of me?

    Kallyr proclaims that to stop Chaos and restore the world, she and her companions shall perform the Lightbringers’ Quest during Sacred Time, and that all who answer her summons shall aid her in the massive ceremonies and rituals that will bring the Gods World in proximity with the mundane realm. Some respond enthusiastically; other priests and lords reluctantly, fearing the dangers and consequences of the ritual.

    Now I want you to imagine how radical an event that was. Although components of the Lightbringers’ Quest are incorporated into Sacred Time celebrations, that is not what the Prince is proposing – she wants to perform the LBQ herself. No Sartarite leader has tried that at this scale – not Sartar, not Tarkalor, not even desperate Salinarg.She’ll need the support of thousands to bring the divine realm into proximity, and she’ll need magical items, spirits, and blessings – and that support won’t be available for the usual needs.But it is a valid Lighbringer Summons by someone with the authority to give it to all the tribes. So what do you do? What do you urge your kin to do?

    Art by Anna Orlova

    Why did Kallyr choose to undertake the Quest? Who encouraged her? her household. Maybe player characters from the old panegyrical Hero Wars materials. But also consider her experiences with her last rebellion. Sartar was liberated for a season…. and then.

    However, it is worth keeping in mind that at this time, she has been Prince for no more than two seasons. Her last liberation of Sartar lasted just about this long. There are other tribal leaders and warlords who barely acknowledge her authority, and there is another warlord in Prax with an army of nomads.So it is a damn high stakes play for someone without a lot of cards. No room for error, and everyone knows it.But she’s succeeded in unlikely circumstances before, and she IS Prince. So what do you do?

    Regardless of the success or failure of her quest, the magical energies summoned successfully brought the divine realm into proximity with Sartar, at least for the duration of Sacred Time. Hers was not the only heroquest that took place during those two weeks!

    Now Kallyr tries to limit the dangers of the Lightbringers Quest by truncating its most dangerous parts, by having stand-ins at key points and containing it within her realm. She does not go to the Western Shore – people will carry her on shell-back, and others will represent the Luathelans. She hardly enters the Underworld, keeping the path to what she knows. And the ritual will culminate in the Royal Palace of Boldhome, with a polluted statue representing Wakboth (to be destroyed ritually by the participants).

    But the Bad Rain needs to be summoned, and various foes and enemies are summoned by the magic. The dangers are real – just mitigated, hopefully.The idea is that by bringing the divine realm into proximity, even these stand-ins will successfully bring magic into the world. This approach was common to many heroquests in Dragon Pass or the Lunar Empire (an example of it was in Cults of Prax, with a Yelmalio Rune Lord performing the Three Blows of Anger). Perform the quest as a ritual within the Proximate Holy Realm, and it should bring forth the intended magic without as much danger.

    What she did not know is that Jar-eel had learned how to use that Proximate Holy Realm as a highway, and that she could enter among the stand-ins. This came as quite a shock to Kallyr and her household (although it is something that Argrath was already aware of, having encountered that in the past and even exploited it to his advantage on several occasions).

    How much does Kallyr know about how legit this Argrath guy is? I wouldn’t even reference Argrath at this point as more than another warlord. The key is her failed rebellion 12 years later, the inability to unite Sartar, and the ghosts that still haunt her.

    There was a zero wane saying attributed to Deezola: “Arachne Solara looks after the truly desperate. And no others.”

    HeroQuesting Context

    So often when we talk about heroquesting, it is in the context of gaining power, defeating a foe, exploring the mythic realms, learning magical secrets, and so on. Not surprising – that is the heroquests of the God Learners and of the post-Red Goddess Lunars. Such quests require knowledge, preparation, and magical power. They can achieve great things, but some theorize that the universe itself begins to react against them. Such heroquesters become trapped in Arachne Solara’s web unless they are very careful and respectful of what they do and where they tread. Of course there are other more powerful contexts for heroquesting. One is desperate personal need. When one has lost everything and can lose nothing more, Arachne Solara herself shows a path through the wilderness. Such quests require true need and desperation – like that of the Red Goddess.But the most powerful context is that of cosmic necessity. When the cosmos itself needs the hero lest part or all be destroyed by Chaos. Such quests are aided by Glorantha herself – or at least by her ghost. Some priests speculate that the full Lightbringers Quest requires both desperate personal need and cosmic necessity.

    And this is why those who treat heroquests primarily as materialistic means to wrest power from the divine realm are doomed. And also why those with desperate personal need combined with cosmic necessity succeed on quests far greater than anything in the God Learners imagination.

    Gaining the ability to kill with one eye is not a great power in the big scheme of things.

    The cosmos itself has spirit and/or intelligence. Call it Glorantha, Arachne Solara, Ginna Jar, or the Invisible God, but Glorantha is not a clockwork thing.

    Unless you are a mostali. Then it obviously is.

    There are some interesting parallels with elements of the 12-steps of AA or NA in some of the personal desperation quests. Common to both the Lightbringers Quest and the Red Goddess quest is a point where the quester is lost and defeated and must accept that. Only then can they continue.

    Now of course, no good God Learner is going to find that an easy thing to do.

    The point is that not only is not every heroquest even, but not every motivation for a heroquest is even. Some motivations and psychological situations are more likely to produce results than others.

    Sacred Time 1625

    Because of the magical energies released as part of the preparations for the Lightbringers Quest (and perhaps because of the awakening of a True Dragon with the Dragonrise), much of Sartar could be said to be on the Hero Plane during Sacred Time of 1625. While Kallyr and her companions traveled about Sartar performing the Westfaring and Descent, there were manifestations of the divine realm throughout the realm. Many people reported seeing battles in the sky, burning footprints, marching trees, the Night Wolf, and the Black Eater. A few saw stranger things, like the Stream being filled with corpses or the Three Feathered Rivals. One even claimed to have found herself at the edge of the world.

    Such manifestations and events became increasingly common during the Hero Wars, as even greater releases of magical energy occurred.

    It is thought that Jar-eel was able to exploit the Proximate Realm to manifest herself in an unexpected manner during the Lightbringers Quest. If true, this would be a stunning tribute to her power and her mythic virtuosity – as appearing in more than one place at the same time is sign of divinity. Tosti Runefriend later speculated that Jar-eel might have Discorporated, entered the hero plane, appeared in the ceremony, and then manifested physically – but such magic is godlike and perhaps the counter-explanation is even more frightening than just saying that Jar-eel is the incarnation of the Red Goddess.

    Jar-eel’s willingness to tread very dangerous paths and embrace even more dangerous associations proved to surprise the Orlanthi, who could not imagine a mortal would be able and willing to do what she did.

    I post this in order to provide some opportunities in your game (this is going to be presented in far more detail in the Sartar Book). In Sacred Time 1625, you can have your adventurers see a battle in the sky – and maybe even participate in it – or maybe meet an imprisoned or broken deity, or witness marching trees or whatever. They might get something new and magical from the experience. They might even decide that they want to explore the mythic realm more!

    HeroQuest Powers

    One of the great benefits of heroquesting is the ability to gain magic outside of what can be gained from one’s cult. These magic abilities often operate mechanically similarly to Rune spells. Sometimes these new spells can be incorporated within the cult structure, creating a new subcult. For example, Garundyer gained the spells of Hailstones from Siglolf Cloudcrusher – these spells form the basis of the Cloudcrusher subcult of Orlanth Thundrous.

    Alternatively, these new spells can form the basis of a new cult similar to a Spirit Cult. Hon-eel brought forth Bless Maize which became the basis of her cult. Argrath brought forth the White Bull which has become a popular Spirit Cult in Prax.

    Most often, these new abilities are personal to the quester. Sarostip has the ability to kill with his left eye. Hofstaring had his flying spear. Jaldon Goldentooth has his ability to bite through walls. Harrek has his God-Spirit White Bear Cloak. Many heroes possess the ability to return from the dead or to Discorporate their spirits.

    The distinctions between these approaches and why an ability gained on a heroquest might be personal or might be incorporated into a cult can get more than a little fuzzy or contradictory, but there are certain generalizations. Powers gained on quests where the hero travels in the footsteps of their god are easiest to incorporate into their cult. Powers gained on new quests that can be repeated but are outside of the mythos of the cult must become a new cult. And powers not shared with others remain personal.

    And a few of the powers or side effects gained through heroquests don’t fit into either Rune Magic or Spirit Magic. The best known is of course unaging, but also things like lack of shadow despite the sun, no sweat (while being unaffected by heat, cold, or exertion), and so forth.It is important to keep in mind that abilities gained through heroquests are exceptions to the general rules of magic. They are examples of direct interactions with the raw source of magic, rather than the more formulaic expressions of rune magic, spirit magic, or sorcery.

    RuneQuest in 2022 YouTube Interview

    Yelmalio cultists numbers

    There are about as many Yelmalio cultists in Sartar as there are in Praxian Sun County. And about twice as many in Tarsh or among the Praxian tribes as there are in either Sartar or Praxian Sun County.

    The Dragon Pass Sun County is part of Sartar for these purposes.

    Praxian Yelmalions? MOB – there are Yelmalio worshippers out in the various tribes too (esp the Impalas), almost as many in fact as the sedentary farmers in the Cradle Valley. The Nomad Yelmalions have a slightly different form of the cult with only Light Sons and no temple structure per se. The nomad Yelmalions come at certain predetermined days to worship at the Great Sun Dome of Mo Boaustra. Such an event is going to feature in the next round of Gloranthan fiction I’ve got percolating in my head, which will follow on from the Great Winter saga I was posting daily a few months ago.

    I quite deliberately made a distinction between the Praxian Sun County (which Mob just posted a picture of) and the Yelmalion cult among the Praxian tribes. There’s more Yelmalio cultists among just the Impala Tribe as there are in the lands described in that book.

    How about the Grazelands? No, they have Yelm.

    I am using the same homelands as the RQG book – Sartar, Tarsh, Tarsh Exiles, etc. In all of Dragon Pass there are about 18,000 Yelmalio cult members. That’s:

    • 6000 in the Sartar homeland (largely concentrated around the Sun Dome, Alda-Chur, and Boldhome).
    • 12000 in Tarsh
    • Negligible numbers elsewhere.
    • In the River of Cradles there are about 4500 Yelmalio cult members, with about
    • 4000 in Sun County and
    • 500 in Pavis County.

    For comparison, in all of Dragon Pass, there are about 111,930 Ernalda cultists, 85,000 Orlanth cultists, and 66,500 Seven Mothers cultists.

    There’s about 3700 or so Issaries cultists. Yelmalio is about 5% of the population, Issaries about 3%.

    There are about 8700 settlers in and around Alone. About 2000 Orlanth cultists, 2000 Ernalda cultists, and about 300 Yelmalio cultists. 275 Maran Gor, 250 Humakt cultists, and about 130 of each of the other Lightbringers.

    The Far Place

    There are about 31,000 permanent residents in the area centered on Alda-Chur, including the Dinacoli, Princeros, Tovtaros, and Vantaros tribes. This area, called the Far Place, speaks Tarshite but has had close economic and political ties to Sartar since the foundation of the Principality, and joined the Principality shortly after the Battle of Grizzly Peak.

    The ten largest cults in the Far Place are:

    • 5825 Ernalda
    • 5300 Orlanth
    • 1700 Yelmalio
    • 1600 Seven Mothers
    • 600 Engizi or Heler
    • 520 Storm Bull
    • 500 Humakt
    • 470 Issaries
    • 435 Maran Gor
    • 380 Daka Fal

    Given the proximity to snake pipe hollow I’d expect more Storm bulls. There is a high turnover of Storm Bull cultists – and many are not residents. It is not uncommon for bands of Pol-Joni Storm Bull cultists with their Praxian allies to come to Snakepipe Hollow to fight Chaos.

    And given that Storm Bull hates the Red Goddess as much as Orlanth does, imagine the consternation caused when a band of 100+ mounted Storm Bull cultists show up on a sacred quest to hunt and destroy Chaos. Can’t act against them – Storm Bull is beloved for keeping Chaos out of the Far Place – but can’t really allow them to stay. The local population supports them because the Storm Bull cultists really do fight Chaos. And no matter how crude, violent, and bullying the Storm Bull cultists are, everyone in the Far Place knows that broo are far worse.

    Clans around Alda-Chur
    Dinacoli clans

    Of the 1700 Yelmalio cultists, 1400 of them are either in Alda-Chur or among the Vantaros tribe. These do not include Alone.

    So how, you might ask, could 1700 Yelmalio cultists dominate a tribal confederation with 5300 Orlanth cultists? Three things:

    1. The Yelmalio cult was more centrally organized, with Harvar able to gain their support and defeat foes piecemeal.
    2. Harvar had strong Lunar support. Money, mercenaries, you name it.
    3. His rule was pretty tenuous once you got outside of Alda-Chur and the Vantaros tribal lands. The other tribes paid tribute and stayed out of trouble.

    That seems like like a lot of Daka Fal? Ancestor worship is common in most societies, the Orlanthi are no exception.

    River of Cradles Farmers

    So if we think about the farming people in the River of Cradles, let’s start by remembering that those that Dorasar encountered (and made himself ruler or overlord of) were the descendants of settlers that had been isolated from Dragon Pass for over 400 years. Think of them like some of the Greek communities in Central Asia that survived the collapse of the Hellenistic empires, or like the Crimean Goths. Isolated, tenaciously defending their identity from the Praxian nomads and the trolls, refusing to become another “Oasis people”.

    They succeeded, and the Yelmalio cult was key to that. But during the long period of solitude and isolation, that cult dwindled and diminished. Perhaps only about 1000 cultists survived to great Dorasar and Varthanis Brighthelm. By that time, the Yelmalio cult was little more than a Spirit Cult, associated with a Grain Goddess, who he defended from nomads and trolls, and friendly with the local river nymphs. They had a big temple they could hardly maintain and stories of Yelm the Sun God, whom Yelmalio defended and was the son of.

    Varthanis brought them the Yelmalio of Monrogh Lantern. With gifts, geases, more spells useful for fighting trolls, and brought them into contact with Dragon Pass – which meant bronze and allies. The Grain Goddess became recognized as Ernalda, but that also brought in rivalry with the Orlanth cult brought to Pavis by the Sartarite settlers. The population of the farmers grew and the Yelmalio grew to dominate Sun County.

    But this area was a periphery. Contact with Dragon Pass was largely through Pavis, not Sun County, and even Pavis is a frontier settlement. If Pavis is our Wild West town like Santa Fe then Sun County is even more remote, one of our more successful Spanish missions.


    So let’s talk about Tarsh a little. First thing to keep in mind is that it is geographically about the same size Sartar, but it is much more intensely settled with more than twice the population of Sartar.

    The district around Furthest (which includes the Temple of the Reaching Moon) is the most Lunar area, and the much of the population are descended from settlers from the Heartland. A majority of all Lunar cultists reside in that district, which has approximately 120,000 people (a third of the population of Tarsh).

    The most important cults in this district are:

    • Seven Mothers 33,500
    • Hon-eel 12,400
    • Ernalda 10,650
    • Orlanth 6,900 (mostly Thunderous or Barntar)
    • Oslira 2650
    • Humakt 2250
    • Issaries 1900
    • Chalana Arroy 1850
    • Yelmalio 1750
    • Lhankor Mhy 1500
    • Etyries 1390 (note Etyries shares the Trade Temple with Issaries in Furthest)
    • Maran Gor 1075

    Where does the name “Tarsh” come from? If I recall it means “scorched land”.

    There are about 145 “villages” in all of Tarsh, about 47 around Furthest. In Sartar we’d associate these with clans and that’s exactly what they are. There are about 100 clans in Sartar – if the clans were the same size, we’d expect about 220 in Tarsh. But the average “village area” in Tarsh is around 2100-2200 people, as opposed to the around 1200 people in Sartar. Again, Tarsh is more heavily populated.

    And that’s what I want to emphasise – most of Tarsh is dedicated to agriculture. Maize, barley, and wheat.

    The villagers around Furthest are mostly Seven Mothers cultists with Hon-eel and Ernalda as the grain goddesses. They look to Furthest for culture, trade, and resolving major disputes.


    Note that Tarsh is not divided into tribes. It is not a confederation of tribes like Sartar – it is a kingdom, centered on the Lunar colony city of Furthest, and is divided into districts ruled by appointees of the king. In Dunstop and Bagnot, the powerful Orindori clan have achieved effectively hereditary rule.

    Furthest is the main offloading point between the Dragon Pass road system and the Oslira River. There is a military road that runs from Furthest to Filichet, but it is cheaper to load trade goods onto boats and float them downriver.

    Kyger Litor Cult Compatibility table

    People often forget that the cult of Kyger Litor is hostile to all of these cults:

    • ALL the Seven Lightbringers (including Chalana Arroy)
    • ALL the Lunar cults (except the Red Goddess who is an Enemy, Yara Aranis who is Neutral, and Jakaleel and Annilla who are Friendly)
    • Aldrya
    • Basmol
    • Caladra and Aurelion
    • Dayzatar
    • Flamal
    • Lodril
    • Lokarnos
    • Lowfires
    • Ourania
    • Polaris
    • Pralor
    • Rathor
    • Shargash
    • Telmor
    • Yelm
    • Yelmalio
    • Yelorna

    Her enemies are

    • the gods of Chaos (all of them)
    • the Red Goddess
    • Mostal.

    Kyger Litor is Neutral towards Humakt.

    So as far as the Mother of Trolls is concerned, Orlanth is as bad as Aldrya, Yelm, Yelmalio and the Seven Mothers. But she will cooperate with any of those against Chaos (which includes the Red Goddess). Of course afterwards, she will likely to devour her erstwhile allies, so you take your risk.

    So smart Lunars try to approach Kyger Litor through Jakaleel or Annilla if possible. Smart Orlanthi try to approach her through Ernalda or Humakt (who are Neutral) – or Argan Argar or Storm Bull (who are Friendly).

    I could imagine a duelling group of delegates to the Castle of Lead – a Lunar group with Blue Moon cultists and an Orlanthi group of Storm Bulls and Earth Priestesses. Both have about the same chance of success (unless the Lunars are dumb enough to hail the Red Goddess).

    And of course, those ancient Mistress Race Trolls don’t give a damn about human politics.

    Mistress race trolls? Ancient immortal things lurking in the Darkness bearing Godtime grudges against everything that harmed them in the Hurtplace (including everything that drove them here). Hungry, hostile, patient, and very powerful. They are demons and you should be terrified of them. They make the Antediluvians in Vampire look like a bunch of newbies. Many look down on Cragspider as a mere parvenu. And the dark trolls? Little better than trollkin. Let that sink in.

    The point is that the dominant troll cult dislikes most everyone who is not a Darkness cult.

    I think it is reasonable that most cultures consider the trolls nearly as bad as Chaos.

    Argan Argar does not see everything as food. Most things are “useful tools”. But Argan Argar always was the most forward looking of the troll gods.

    To compare, Orlanth’s list of Hostile cults is:

    • ALL Lunar Cults (except the Red Goddess who is an Enemy)
    • Basmol
    • Bloody Tusk
    • Dayzatar
    • Gagarth
    • Magasta
    • Mostal
    • Ourania
    • Shargash
    • Wachaza
    • Yelorna
    • Zorak Zoran

    Orlanth’s Enemies are:

    • All Chaos Cults

    Note that even though Kyger Litor is Hostile to Orlanth, he’s Neutral towards her. As he is towards Yelm and Yelmalio.

    I find it amusing to think that Storm Bull cultists make the best emissaries from an Orlanth cult point of view.

    Orlanth is actually friendly with Polaris! He’s hostile towards Yelorna because her cult is relentlessly hostile towards the Orlanth cult (and the Storm Bull cult). He’s hostile towards Dayzatar and Ourania because even more than Yelm, those cults represent the unchanging Sky.


    Is everyone forgetting the existence of the hate everyone clan – i.e vadrus’s group – by definition Uz are more accepting.

    1. The children of Vadrus actually ended up serving Orlanth in one capacity or another. They were the destructive storm, but Orlanth is the King of Storms and can make them serve his purpose. Even Gagarthi have to provide assistance to Orlanth initiates and priests if properly demanded and the price is paid! And Valind and Ygg are associated cult with Orlanth. Which means that if you can work with Orlanth, you can usually find a way to deal with Gagarth, Valind, and Ygg (admittedly Gagarth is usually the most difficult, but you can at find a way least sic him on your enemies).

    2. Vadrus is gone, destroyed by Chaos. He has no cult and cannot be contacted. Maybe he never even existed?

    3. The children of Vadrus are like the Maruts who served Indra. Violent, aggressive, destructive, and terrifying, they nonetheless can be bent to Indra’s will and serve as a troop of war companions.

    The Villages around Furthest and the rest of Tarsh

    So thinking about the difference between villages around Furthest and the rest of Tarsh means thinking about the difference between Saird and lowland Peloria.

    Tarsh was settled by two very different waves of colonists. The first was the largest. These were settlers from the area traditionally called Saird (modern Holay, Aggar, Imther, and Vanch) that came to Dragon Pass in the aftermath of the Conquering Daughter. Now the distances involved are not very great – it is only about 150 km from Filichet to Bagnot – which meant it was easy for waves of settlers to travel with their herds and families into what became Tarsh.

    Saird in the First Wane would have been a collection of chieftains and petty cities at the frontier of Dragon-haunted Dragon Pass, loosely united into the Kynnelfing Alliance. Generations before many had fought for Jannisor. The people were farmers with herds of sheep and cattle. The people were mostly Orlanth Thunderous or Adventurous types, with a large minority of Yelmalio cultists and other Lightbringers. However, they had centuries of sustained cultural interchange and trade with Dara Happa – Yelm was viewed as a more or less equal contender with Orlanth for rulership of the world and for the love of Ernalda.

    By 1450, these Orlanth Thunderous types had settled a broad belt alongside the Oslira and Black Eel rivers, up to Shakeland and Wintertop and then hopping over the River to the Far Point and the Donalf Flats. A powerful Orlanth Rex dynasty based at Bagnot had ruled over them for over a hundred years, but the dynasty was killed without heir in 1448. After a civil war, a new dynasty from Wintertop was crowned in Bagnot.

    These settlements would have been indistinguishable from those in Holay, Aggar, or Imther. Wheat and barley would be the main crops, pigs, sheep, and cattle the main livestock. Villages were initially unwalled, but the dynasts built many fortresses and walls after 1375 and unwalled villages were rare by the time of the civil war.

    Beneath the dynasts and priestly lineages at Shaker Temple or Haruvernalda, most folk would belong to free settler families or their unfree slaves (taken in war with the Lunar Provinces or the nomads). However, between these groups were an influential class of mounted warriors (“thanes”) who gained power, wealth, and status in the wars against the nomads of Peloria. Cavalry mainly took the form of heavy, close combat cavalry backed up by light scouts and horse archers.

    Saird itself is mostly riverine plains surrounded by a bowl of hills maybe 75 km by 140 km in dimension. Think something like the Pannonian Basin around Budapest. Building techniques would be heavily influenced by Dara Happa (just as in Sartar they are heavily influenced by Esrolia).

    The most popular cults in the Lunar Heartlands?

    Here’s another good question – what are the most popular cults in the Lunar Heartlands?

    The answer is the Seven Mothers, either collectively or individually. About 24% of the population in the Heartlands belong to the cult. All of the other Lunar cults total about 10% of the population. So a little more than a third of the population in the Heartlands belong to Lunar cults (we are talking more than the minimal lay member rites).The next biggest cult in the Heartlands is Lodril at about 14%. In third is the Grain Goddess Oria at about 10%.

    So where is Yelm, you might ask? The Yelm cult is very magically, socially, and politically important, but it is comparatively small numbering about 4% of the population.

    And Shargash and Polaris are each no more than about 2%.

    And again, Tarsh resembles the Lunar Heartlands in that about 25% of the population follow the Seven Mothers and 10% follow Hon-eel. Where it gets VERY different is the rest of the population largely follow Lightbringer gods and their associates.

    Dendara is at about 5% overall.

    Notes on Dwarfs

    The dwarfs are an often underestimated and underrepresented Elder Race. In Sartar, they arguably played a bigger role than any other major Elder Race. They built the walls of Sartar’s cities, the Pockets of Boldhome, and built the initial King’s Road between Boldhome and Jonstown (in particular the incredible path through the Quivin Mountains).

    Dwarfs might look more like humans than aldryami or trolls do, but they are more distinctly alien. Only the dragonewts are considered more mysterious and enigmatic. Unaging, secretive, and possessing incredible skills and lore unknown to the rest of Glorantha, the dwarves view trolls and aldryami as implacable enemies and humans as fast-breeding pests. A few notes on dwarf history in the Third Age:

    The danger from the human empires was largely broken in 1120, but the dwarfs were incredibly weak. Greatway was the most important stronghold in central Genertela, and the dwarfs were extremely risk adverse, needing to rebuild. So things start off with the elves trying to reclaim the Pass from 1120 to 1150. Reinforced by Brown Elves from the Old Woods, the Stinking Forest expands to the Indigo Mountains (as well as down the Dragonspine).

    Around 1150 the trolls, aided by the half-trolls, defeat the Marching Forest with beetles, poison gas, and spirits. The angry ghosts of the elves still haunt the Deadwoods. And around 1180 the trolls and half-trolls fought.After that came the dark troll period of supremacy, which was broken in 1222 by the dragonewts. Also around 1240 the trolls distract themselves by defeating the Praxians and conquering Pavis. After that the Grazers and Beast People have their period of importance. Which lasts until about 1320 when the Orlanthi return to reclaim Dragon Pass.The dwarfs did not stir until after 1240 or so, until the trolls sacked Pavis, with its dwarf secrets. Sometime before 1490, the trolls made an assault on the Door That Goes Nowhere in the Three Little Giant Mountains. The Dwarfs were forced to temporarily withdraw from Door Mountain, sealing it off from the rest of the Greatway.

    Meanwhile The Dwarf decides to ally with the Orlanthi and lends his aid to Sartar. Dwarfs build Sartar’s cities and roads. This is the typical dwarf response – use the humans as a counterweight to the trolls.

    But to the dwarfs’ surprise, Saronil stole dwarf secrets and used them to build the Orlanth Temple. The dwarfs withdraw from direct aid of Sartar, but the damage has already been done. The Sartarites took the secrets of stonemasonry and other crafts. And although they certainly fought with the trolls, they tended to fight the wrong ones.

    And so the dwarfs make contact with other humans as well. Other humans who will fight trolls and keep the Sartarites from exploiting the dwarf secrets they stole. But it is important to remember that the dwarfs really don’t give a damn about human theologies and politics, and probably have great difficulty telling them apart.

    The Elder Race can’t help but fight each other and waste their resources. The humans are viewed by all the Elder Races as untrustworthy bit players. The other Elder Races are the real foes. Thousands of years of hatred and conflict, between species with some very long lived rulers.

    In Boldhome, the dwarfs have a sealed-up complex, called the Inviolate Dwarf Palace. Dwarf constructs are sometimes seen deep in the Pockets.

    The most commonly encountered dwarfs are rock and copper dwarfs, especially in Boldhome and New Pavis (dwarfs are not an uncommon sight in either city). Most humans think of dwarfs as small miners, bronze workers, and stoneworkers, capable of amazing craftsmanship.

    Dwarfs nearest the Lunar Empire are not Openhandist and far less friendly than The Dwarf. So Sartar has likely gotten far more dwarf gifts than the Lunar Empire has in its entire history.

    Remember, Dwarf Mine and Greatway are the center of Openhandism in Glorantha.

    Location of the Door to Nowhere

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