2021-07 RuneQuest on Facebook July Highlights

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

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

Jeff Richard, 2021

Newest at top, oldest at bottom.

up to 22rd July

One of the great delicacies of the villages along the Creek-Stream River is grilled crocodile. Claudia took me to Duck Point tonight to check out Geo’s special. She’s right – the ducks make the best grilled crocodile in Sartar!

Picture credit Jeff Richard.
Picture credit Jeff Richard.

a downside of the Kalikos Expedition is that the Oslir Crocodile now can be found north of Yuthuppa!

What are the sides? emmer pancakes, almond and garlic Pesto, and apple, vinegar, red onion, honey and vinegar sauce.

The invasion of 1619, part 2

By the end of Sea Season, the Lunar invasion of the Holy Country had stalled outside the walls of Karse. After being nearly destroyed in a Lunar assault, Smithstone had been retaken by Esrolian and Malkonwal forces. Whitewall remained free; worse yet, control over the Crimson Bat was lost and the Bat was last seen flying over the Mirrorsea Bay. The Lunar Army’s Sartarite and Sun Dome Templar mercenaries had fled or even switched sides.Fazzur took direct oversight to correct the situation. First, he rallied disorganized Lunar units near Smithstone that had old from the Bat, and pulled much of the Lunar Army outside of Karse back towards Smithstone. The Cavalry Screen was used to clear the Marzeel north of Smithstone. With some 8000 soldiers, Fazzur retook Smithstone from its Esrolian and Malkonwal defenders and fortified the position against Malkonwal counter attacks.Then the Red Moon turned and the fortunes of the Lunar Army began to wax again. A Wolf Pirate fleet was spotted in the Mirrorsea Bay, and Caladraland agents reported that the Ditali were preparing for war. The Caladraland mercenaries in Karse made private arrangements to flee by boat while they still could and did so.The Wolf Pirates brought with them Lunar soldiers from Prax – the Granite Phalanx and Silver Shields – and the Lunars made a two-prong assault on Karse. Losses were high on both sides, but in the end, Karse fell (although most of the Esrolian army escaped and returned to Nochet). Fazzur ordered Karse to be spared pillaging. The Wolf Pirates, feeling betrayed, withdrew from the Mirrorsea Bay.Lunar agents reached out to the Queendom of Jab and encouraged the scorpion people to attack Malkonwal. The Warlord Rikard was forced to withdraw from the conflict around Smithstone to confront the Chaos threat. Lunar agents also encouraged internal dissension within Malkonwal.By the end of the campaign season of 1619, Karse fully under Lunar control, Malkonwal was rent with internal dissension and a serious chaos threat from the Queendom of Jab, and the Esrolia and Caladraland armies were back in their homelands as insurance against the Western Barbarians. Only Whitewall held out in northern Heortland, besieged by a Lunar screen.

Fazzur had the advantage that the Wolf Pirates were outside of the city and HIS soldiers were inside.

Fazzur really was the Man. When plans went wrong, Fazzur was always able to regroup and correct his errors with remarkable creativity. Like Owen Connelly described Bonaparte, Fazzur was the Great Scrambler.

Greg revealed to me that it was Wolf Pirates not Lunar-crafted ships that enabled the convoy from Corflu. Harrek already hated the Lunar Empire (and hated their leaders, priestesses, and goddess), but the offer was too great for him to turn down – the right to sack and pillage Karse (a rich trading city) and mastery over the Mirrorsea Bay.Instead, Fazzur decreed that Karse would not be pillaged (he had goals of his own) and the Wolf Pirates were left empty-handed. After that Harrek rejected any offer from any Lunar or that would aid the Empire. And harming the Lunar Empire became a treasure for him as valuable as gold or silver.

So the crimson bat attacks whitewall in 1619? not 1620 as stated in the Sartar Companion ?

correct. When I wrote the Sartar Companion materials, Greg no longer had access to his detailed information about the Whitewall campaign (it went missing around 1991 or so) so we had to rely on summaries and notes.However a few years ago, a box filled with Greg’s most important notes on Dragon Pass – thought long lost – showed up at Greg’s place shortly before his death, courtesy of an act of great kindness. Greg sent the contents to me to incorporate into RQ. So you’ll be seeing lots of that stuff in the Sartar Book, Cults Book, and everything else. Those pictures on this post is from the series of military campaign maps Greg made of the campaign, probably around 1979 or so.

The Invasion of 1619, part 1

The Lunar Empire had never stopped eyeing the richer lands of the Holy Country to the south. But their failure at the Building Wall Battle in 1605 had made them cautious, so when they moved southward they went after great preparations. Wilmskirk, a city subject to the Empire, was the primary storage area, and it collected grain reserves for years. The army also moved there over the winter of 1618.The initial army numbered more than 25,000 troops, including Sartarite and Tarshite mercenaries, and dragonewts who had been obtained at incredible price. The army was divided into four sections, each with objectives and duties:

The Cavalry Screen, commanded by Sor-eel the ShortThe Vanguard, commanded by Jomes Wulf

The Advance Foot, commanded by Jorad Sideburn

The Main Army, commanded by Fazzur Wideread

The army first units departed Roadend and Wilmskirk in Sea Season 1619. The Vanguard cavalry reached Whitewall, and discovered that Broyan was already prepared, with the local militia mustered and gathered in Whitewall, which was well stocked and supplied. An attempt to take Whitewall by assault failed, and after losing some 1500 soldiers, Fazzur realized that Broyan had concentrated everything he has on the defense of the ancient fortress. Fazzur leaves a detachment of mercenaries, magicians, hoplites, and cavalry to stay and besiege Whitewall, and the rest of the army headed south.Upriver of Smithstone, the Lunar Army needed to cross the raging the Marzeel River. However, the initial assault on Smithstone failed, and the Lunars lost another 700 soldiers. The main army assaulted Smithstone at high cost, but was successful.Karse was another matter. The defense of the city was fanatical and Fazzur ordered several assaults, but despite terrible losses to the dragonewts, the city held. Fazzur realized that the city was being reinforced by Esrolians using every boat that the Holy Country could muster.The Lunars reinforced their siege of Whitewall with Sun Dome and Sartarite mercenaries, but the reinforcements were attacked by Esrolians with troll aid. The Sartarites were defeated and routed and the Sun Dome Templars surrendered after a long fight. Their surrender and ransom was arranged.The Crimson Bat was later seen approaching the city of Whitewall. The Sun Dome Templars aggred to help defend the city with the Whitewall garrison and Esrolians. King Broyan and his houshold thanes and rune masters (including Kallyr Starbrow and Leika Blackspear) all launch an attack by teleporting themselves atop the Bat and slaughtering the priests there. They suffered terrible losses and Broyan was incapacitated by a Mind Blast, but his right-hand companion killed the High Priest of the Crimson Bat. The Bat lost control and did not attack Whitewall and flew off to the south. The defenders were triumphant.In the south, a massive build-up in Karse by both Lunars and Esrolians. At Smithstone, the Esrolians made a desperate assault on the Lunar forces in Smithstone. They managed to breach the already shattered walls and some of them entered the city, but it was too late, for the Crimson Bat appeared and dropped on the them and devoured hungrily. Most of the Esrolians were slain or scattered in all directions. Even the Lunars were devoured by the Bat whose hunger knew no national differences.In the evening, Malkonwall troops arrived outside of Smithstone, and they saw the Crimson Bat flying away southward. The city was held only by a few Esrolians, and their scouts also saw an enemy column fleeing southward. But the Malkonwal cavalry cannot catch them before nightfall stops pursuit.

You can see there was some coordination or at least cooperation between the Volsaxi, Malkonwal, and Esrolia.

Some say it was Starbrow who cut down the High Priest; others claim it was the Black Spear.

As is clear, the Sea Season campaign was a bloody mess at the start. But some interesting alliances going on.

Did Queen Hendira send volunteers or mercenaries to aid Broyan and were there Esrolians (and trolls?) inside Whitewall or out in the countryside? both. But the main Esrolian focus was Karae. Some 8000 soldiers defended the city, most were Esrolians.

When Belintar died and did not return in 1616, the Holy Country quickly fell apart as a unified kingdom. As not one but two Tournaments of the Masters of Luck and Death failed to produce a successor, the local rulers of the Sixths quickly spun off and charted their own course, although they remained in contact with each other.In most of the Sixths, the local rulers managed to hold onto their authority – for example, Hendira managed to rule Esrolia from Nochet, the talars kept control of the God Forgot Islands from Talar Hold, etc. However, in Heortland, the ruler of the semi-autonomous Volsaxi tribe (Broyan of Whitewall) proclaimed himself the ruler of the new Hendriki tribe, which encompassed all of northern Heortland.Meanwhile, in Durengard, Rikard the Tiger-hearted, a Malkioni adventurer from the Castle Coast and his mercenaries proclaimed the existence of the Kingdom of New Malkonwal. This was a largely peaceful coup (imagine something like Baldwin of Boulogne’s takeover of Edessa), and Rikard had the support of the Aeolings. Because his retinue was small, Rikard needed to use diplomatic skills to maintain that support, and married the daughter of a leading Aeolian noble family, and encouraged his retainers to do the same. Rikard managed to procure the service of bands of Malkioni mercenaries fleeing from the growing power of Tanisor. Rikard and Broyan indecisively skirmished over control of central Heortland, but this became quickly irrelevant when the Lunar Army invaded Heortland in 1619. Northern Heortland was quickly overrun (with only Whitewall holding out), and Rikard was defeated in 1620. A thousand romantic tales have come out of the short-lived Kingdom of Malkonwal, spread by both Orlanthi and Malkioni poets. Ironically, it seems Rikard the Tiger-hearted was more far successful as poetic figure than he was as an adventurer.

Broyan, Hendira, and Rikard all cooperated against the Lunar invasion. But they also viewed each other as rivals.

One of the more beloved minor cultures among many players are the Aeolians – sorcery-using Orlanthi or Orlanth-worshiping Malkioni that live in the south of Heortland. Now it is worth keeping in mind that there are somewhere around 50k Aeolians in total, maybe more, maybe less. That puts the total number of Aeolians at around the size of five Sartarite tribes.

Now that puts some big limitations on them – the other is that they are in contact with the God Forgot “atheists”, who also number about 50k. These two are separate communities and religions, even if they are often conflated together by other Kethaelans.

If we assume that less than 5% of the adult population have learned sorcery, there might be 1500 people with sorcery skills among the Aeolians. For comparison, there might be 1000 Lhankor Mhy initiates with some sorcery skills in all of Sartar. But Nochet might have twice that many Lhankor Mhy initiates that know sorcery, probably more.

Lots of the HeroQuest Voices entries are not “canon,” (just compare them with what is in the Guide) and I do not really want to spend the time editing them right now.

I tend to think of the Aeolians as being roughly analogous to the Druze or Yazidi. They are an ethnoreligious group that are always a minority outside of their strongholds.

As an aside, I do not believe that the Aeolians try to convert anyone. I am not sure they even accept converts!

During the Hero Wars, the Tournament for the Masters of Luck and Death was called “our school for exploratory heroquesting.” Rumored participants include Sartar, Tarkalor, Dormal, and Broyan, but likely many others. As I mentioned before, some think the pathways the contestants follow are somehow connected with the claims of the Arkat Cult concerning the Secret Pathways through the Hero Plane.

One of the account of the Tournament described it as a series of “races” across the lands of the Holy Country:In the first race, the importance is not so much winning as it is to view the lands your cross. You may wish to do as the locals do, and run practice runs alone on the warm spring days, just for practice. Look around you, view the orchards, admire the crude roads for their dust. Barter a boat for a while, take a few minutes out to sightsee. Get to know the land, sea, and air.Later races add the chance to gain tools and allies, and encounter gods and guardians.

When deities were encountered during the Tournament, it was possible to placate it (if you knew its name) or challenge it (to give it a name, to get a secret from it, to gain a power, etc.). But if challenged, the deity would always issue a counter-challenge against the quester.

Magical challenges to prove a truth are well accepted in Glorantha. This goes back to the Gods Age, when contests of the arts were popular among the gods – the most famous being the Contests of Yelm and Orlanth. When the Feathered Horse Queen emerged from the Earth’s Womb and proclaimed that the sovereign Earth Goddess was more than Dendara, she was opposed by the Grazer King. She defeated him in a thaumaturgical contest after which he, and the Yelm cult of Dragon Pass, submitted to her authority.Hon-eel the Artess was an expert at such contests, having had to prove her claims starting with the first time she appeared in Glamour. Her most famous contest was against the Most Reverend Mother of Horses (which incidentally may have had a synchronicitous connection with the Feathered Horse Queen’s triumph). And of course the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death are well established in the Holy Country. Some think the pathways the contestants follow are somehow connected with the claims of the Arkat Cult concerning the Secret Pathways through the Hero Plane.

A post from another thread is appropriate here:

A few basic ground rules of these tests – the person has to be able to participate in the inner rites of the cult (in this case Humakt). That’s the place only those initiated can perceive. That gets witnessed. They need to be able stay within the rites, without being forced out by guardian spirits and so on. And within the inner rites, you need to display your power and either be accepted by the spirits present (that’s the preferred route) or be able to defeat those spirits and entities that come to force you out (not preferred). But if you can do that, you are not an imposter. Unless later on it is shown you used trickery – Eurmal magic or Lunar deceptions. But that is always a danger.

But by these contests, new truths and powers can be recognised.

Hon-Eel also entered the spring Ernalda cult rites on Kordros Island and proved that the Ernalda was ‘She Who Waits’ – a key identification for the Red Earth movement. it would appear she was less successful at that than her hagiography claims. There’s a hint in the Red Line History as to why that was a failure.

Here’s a nice short video on women’s tattoos in Scythian society that might be a good source of inspiration for your Gloranthan games.

The Paradox of the Lunar Empire

The Lunar Empire has brought peace to Peloria for the last century and a half. The Red Goddess religion facilitates spiritual and individual development for those able to do so, while maintaining the traditions of those who need them. By all accounts, the Lunar Heartland in the 7th Wane is accounted one of the most civilized, peaceful, and safe places in all of Glorantha. And yet, the Red Goddess is a cosmic threat. She is every bit as dangerous as the possibilities created by Nysalor. If anything Her Way is even more dangerous as many have already begun to experiment with the most dangerous potentialities. Lunar heroquesters – most notably Jar-eel the Razoress – have explored forbidden paths and plundered the Other World as ruthlessly as any God Learner. Some philosophers suggest that this is Gbaji – not an entity, not a cult, but an approach to the cosmos facilitated by Illumination.Like with the Gbaji Wars, those who oppose the Red Goddess will adopt her own methods to defeat her and change the world in the process. This is the oldest story in Glorantha, and is the story of the Hero Wars.

Like Prometheus, the Red Goddess has given mortals nuclear fire.

maybe it is not the Red Goddess herself that is the threat.

thinking there is a “final victory” at all involved in this is debatable. She waxes. She wanes. She wins. She loses. That’s the nature of the moon.The Storm rages, destroys, clears the stage for what comes next. And then there is calm. Until the next storm.There is no “good guy” or “bad guy” here. Just a cosmic cycle that – in large part because of the exploratory heroquesting started by the Red Goddess – is going to summon armies and heroes who will fight over causes of their own.

I don’t think the Red Goddess is being “manipulated”. She opens a door and points at a path – one with great spiritual rewards for those who can carefully walk it with respect and humility, but one that poses terrible dangers for those that do not.

But like Orlanth (and Arkat for that matter) she is part of the divine realm now. There’s no Prof. Diggs behind the Moon.

I want to know more about the White Moon followers and the Arrolians, to me any religion linked so closely to an Empire is unsound and they indicate a more humanist (possibly?) path than that of the Lunar Empire?

Like the New Hrestoli, the Arrolians have been under the Ban for a century. Cooped up in their bubbles – remember that Riverjoin had no communication with Eastpoint for all that time.Like all the Fronelan communities under the Ban, I expect that Riverjoin and Eastpoint became echo chambers. Interesting to see what they became.

Jar-eel is a big time exploratory hero quester. Maybe for the non-illuminated, the Lunar Way is relatively institutionalised, but they are the followers not the leaders. For those with their eyes open, Jar-eel is showing possibilities not imagined since the Goddess Quest.

A few more Arkat Cult notes:

As said many times before -After the long war Arkat retired with his closest confederates to Arkhome, which became the capitol of Arkat’s Autarchy. Arkat instituted formal cult procedures, created a government to rule after he was gone, then departed to the stasis of the Other Side in 500, where he remains worshiped as the patron god of Heroquesting. Arkat’s cult controlled exploratory Heroquesting. They had rigorous entrance requirements and maintained strict rules and iron discipline. They demanded respect for the magics, and a tender care in treating with them. The cult policed the Hero Plane, seeking unwanted or obtrusive Heroquesters and expelling them. They made many enemies that way but maintained stability on the Hero Plane.The God Learners destroyed Arkat’s Dark Empire in 740, and his empire, and his cult, fell to conquerers who carried off his secrets, prizes, and wonders. At this point stop. The cult founded by Arkat, with its secrets, its knowledge of exploratory Heroquesting, its rigorous entrance requirements and strict rules and iron discipline – that’s gone. The God Learners destroyed it, looted it, and wore its carcass as a hat.But a few centuries later, the God Learners themselves met the same fate. And various groups claimed to be the successors of the Arkat Cult, each with their own secrets and claims of direct lineage to Arkat. All have extravagant claims, and none have managed to fulfill their boasts.So each of these “Arkat cults” can be as wrong or as right as you the gamemaster want them to be in your campaign. They can be charlatans or keepers of mysteries – or both. They can be a little right and a lot wrong – or even something completely other “disguised” as an Arkat cult.Except there is one Arkat cult that might – just might – have a direct lineage to the God. That of Arkat Kingtroll in Halikiv, founded by the Wizard Children. Except they are no human, but monstrous dark trolls that live forever in Darkness. And they do not teach their secrets to non-trolls.

Concept sketches by Michael Perry for the Guide to Glorantha.

So when we talk about “the Arkat Cult” we have to be very careful to define what we mean by that. Are we talking about:

  • 1. The original cult founded by Arkat that guarded the pathways of Heroquesting and was in existence cir. 450 to 740?
  • 2. One of the many “successor cults” of the original cult?
  • 3. The Kingtroll cult founded by the dark troll “Wizard Children” that keeps the secrets of sorcery for the trolls?
  • 4. Something else?

That original cult had some pretty amazing secrets and lore. Even if they managed to keep much of their lore out of the hands of the God Learners, what the God Learners took was enough to jumpstart their techniques to a new level. Think about that – a secretive cult, bound by iron discipline, that held the mysteries behind the God Learners.

And this cult was dedicated to guarding the pathways of the Hero Plane, preventing people from misusing exploratory Heroquesting (and Illumination) to screw around with the mythic foundations of the cosmos. Imagine the things they did, the hero quests they stopped!And here’s a really crazy idea – what if there are still Arkati in the God Time? Eternally there, always reoccurring.Just an idea for you GMs…..

Any Arkati you encounter in the Third Age is going to be something like someone today claiming to be the heir to the secrets of the Knights Templar.

A few notes on Arkat. Perhaps all of these parts are familiar to all of you, but understanding Arkat is a key to understanding the Third Age:Arkat was a man of reason who ventured into the Gods Realm on many occasions from many different starting points. He discovered the Secret Paths and wandered into the irrational unconscious of Glorantha and its archetypes and stories. Arkat participated in the Lightbringer’s Quest but rejected the Light so that he might delve deeper into the Darkness from where all unknown potentiality exists. Some claim he delved deeper than Subere, to the Chaosium itself. Arkat quested so often he even encountered himself on the Hero Plane and received a unhealable wound that caused him pain and weakness to his final day. Arkat’s many quests often had him become the enemy to his former friends and allies. When he finally fought hand to hand against Gbaji, he was no longer even human but a troll, a Dark Man. After the battle, Arkat was no longer a troll, or so said his friends and many trolls. He retired to Ralios with his companions, and brought peace to that long troubled land. Arkat instituted cult procedures, with rigorous entrance requirements and maintained strict rules and “iron” discipline concerning the use of his secrets – especially what Arkat had learned concerning exploratory Heroquesting. In 500, Arkat left his mortal existence and became a god. Arkat’s cult DEMANDED respect for the magics and secrets they had learned, and a tender care in treating with them. They had ways to watch the Secret Paths and they sough unwanted or obtrusive HeroQuesters and expelled them. They made many enemies that way, but maintained stability.The God Learners allied with the Kingdom of Seshnela and attacked Arkat’s Dark Empire. Arkat’s cult became military and religious figures, assuming more and more power, and Ralios became a true empire. Armies marched on the Dark Empire, whose resistance failed in 740 when the great temple of the Arkat cult was plundered and razed. His empire, and his cult, fell to conquerors who carried off his secrets, prizes, and wonders.The God Learners lacked the morality of the Arkat cult. They stemmed from Malkioni philosophers who insisted on the ultimate impersonality of the universe and feared no taboo or curse. Their courage and power were unquestionable, and they performed magical deeds previously unknown even to the gods.

Art by the amazing Loïc Muzy!

LEIKA BLACKSPEAR

Queen Leika Blackspear has got to be one of the toughest survivors in Sartarite tribal history. Once an adventurer, she became the Colymar tribal king after her second cousin King Kallai Rockbuster and his wife Beneva Chan were exiled by the Lunar Empire following in the wake of Starbrow’s Rebellion. She managed to lead the tribe for a few years before Kallai’s son Korlmhy (her second cousin once removed) returned from exile and overthrew her with Lunar military aid. Leika took the Black Spear – the sacred regalia of the tribe – and fled to Whitewall, where she joined the household of King Broyan (and where she gained an intense personal rivalry with another exile – Kallyr Starbrow). For the next decade, she fought against the Lunar Empire, defending Whitewall, in the Hendriki uprising, in Nochet, and at the Battle of Pennel Ford. In 1625, Leika was present when King Broyan was killed by Lunar magic, and when the Dragonrise happened, Leika did not follow Kallyr to Boldhome but went to Clearwine Fort with her companions. Finding that Korlmhy was one of those missing at the Dragonrise, she proclaimed to a hastily gathered assembly that she was never lawfully deposed – to which the assembly agreed. Leika did not aid Kallyr at Dangerford, although she was among those tribal leaders who later proclaimed Starbrow Prince of Sartar. Her focus was on rebuilding her tribe after years of misrule by her cousin. She reluctantly gave minimal support to Kallyr’s Lightbringer Quest, but the tribe suffered less than the others after its failure. The next year, Leika fought alongside Kallyr against the Lunar Army at the Battle of the Queens, and after the death of the Prince, Leika led the Sartarites to victory over the Lunar Army. However, Leika lacked the connection to the Sartar Dynasty that could have made her Prince. So after Kallyr’s body was burned in Boldhome, Leika and her supporters returned to Clearwine Fort to regroup.

Concept art (a work in progress) by the amazing Anna Orlova

One of the things I love about the Colymar “royal dynasty” is how interwoven it is. Kallai is the second cousin to Leika, who is the cousin of Londra of Londros and the Temple of the Wooden Sword. Meanwhile Beneva Chan is the niece of Estavor and Dangment – the two brothers who led the tribe from 1582 to 1598. In turn, Korlmhy “Blackmor” is the son of Kallai and Beneva Chan – and brother of Erenava Chan, the current High Priestess of the Clearwine Earth Temple. And our RQG preens fit into this soap opera, as Yanioth and Vasana are cousins of both Korlmhy and Erenava Chan, and Harmast is a second cousin to almost all of these folk.This is how a lot of these Sartarite tribal families work – we might have different clans involved here, but there is also a network of kinship connections that cross clan boundaries. And these communities aren’t so big that people don’t know each other.

When I run Leika, I think of her as someone intensely loyal to her tribe, ambitious, and someone who learned a lot over the last decade in the Elite School of Hard Knocks. Sure, she is still the woman who led the daring expedition into the Caves of Chaos in Snakepipe Hollow to establish her claims to tribal leadership, but she’s now seen as much war as Starbrow, experience betrayal from her own kin, exile, and seen how difficult it is to hold a coalition of allies together. When she fails to get support for her bid to be Prince, she throws her support and resources behind Argrath Whitebull (whom she probably knows from her time in Esrolia).

In the end, I think she ends up influencing the Colymar tribe more than any leader since Colymar and his son Kagradus.

To be Prince of Sartar means being High Priest of Sartar the God, who is also the big Orlanth Rex cult (and allows one to be Orlanth Rex of all the tribes that acclaim you). That requires a link to Sartar himself – and in practice it requires a dynastic tie.Harrek might be able to make himself Lord of Boldhome or King of whatever he wants to call himself king of, but that’s not the same as being Prince of Sartar.

It is far easier to contact spirits and gods that you are descended from is pretty strong in the setting and has been for a long time. (see the Xeotam Dialogues or Orlanth himself). The Kingdom of Sartar is not a “meritocracy” or a “the most morally righteous person rules”. It uses the magic of Sartar the God (and his dynastic successor) to hold together a score or more of fractious Orlanthi tribes, keep order in the cities, and maintain the roads and other royal symbols. Given that the priests of that god MUST be descended from Sartar, and Sartar lived and died a little over a century ago, that pool of potential candidates is limited.

One of the interesting elements for Leika (and Kallyr) is that although we call her in English by the feminine “queen”, she is a tribal Rex – a king – and the local manifestation of Orlanth Rex. And that means that Leika (and Kallyr) has a wife, at least for ceremonial purposes.There are stories that suggest that Kallyr’s wife was Ernaldesta the Vigorous (although she had other husbands). And if I recall Ereneva Chan is Leika’s wife. Which sets up two parallel pairs of female king-female Earth Priestess partnerships in Sartar. And interestingly both sides of that partnership are rivals, as Ereneva Chan intensely dislikes Kallyr, and blames Starbrow for the death of her father, exile of her mother, and even her brother’s descent into madness and treason.

Whether these marriages are romantic love-matches or purely ceremonial ritual matters is up to your campaign. In my campaign Kallyr and Ernaldesta are very close, while Leika and Erenava are a completely business-like relationship.

And the Nandan subcult makes it entirely possible to have a “male” Ernalda Priestess.Obviously at a certain point Orlanthi terminology about sex and gender is going to be different from our own (they recognise four “biological” sexes and six “cultural” genders”), and don’t have a lot of our own taboos. So it could just be that the Orlanthi would say “the Rex marries the Priestess”, and that’s the end of the discussion for them.

Leika Beti Ballista. The original player character was actually called Betty Ballista. Which we can all agree is not a Gloranthan name. Greg renamed her Leika to be included in his history of Dragon Pass and his Epic Game (which ultimately got incorporated into King of Sartar). But since Ballista isn’t something you can carry around in RQG AND that her possession of the Black Spear would have been her defining feature in 1615-1625, Greg started calling her Leika Blackspear. Which is what we now use.

A similar story is true with Blackmoor, who was also originally a player character, but Greg then worked elements of him into his history of Dragon Pass and his Epic Game. There’s multiple variations of the character presented in King of Sartar/Genertela boxed set/High Council of Sartar, including one version where he was a Lunar hostage before becoming king. Because the background of having a Lunar client king of the Colymar prior to the Dragonrise is something a GM can make a lot out of (especially if one or more of the player characters are related to him) all of those options are “officially” on the table.

One of the goals of the Sartar Book is to really show the people of Sartar, how they look, how wide the range of diversity is, down to things like hairstyles. So the amazing Anna Orlova and Jaye Kovach put together this awesome Hairstyle and Beard sheet as an art reference that will be in the book. And because I thought it would cool, here’s Jaye’s wonderful art direction:

RQSS14 Hair and Beard Guide

General:

This pieces will be two halves with the top half as men’s hair and the bottom half as womene’s hair. We need drawings similar to what is seen in the source art that shows an example layout. These are just head and neck views. In middle-aged and older men, we should see one or two with balding or bald styles. Hair colors should be black, dark brown, medium brown and 1 dark auburn but only

1. Eyes should be brown, black, green, or hazel. Skin tones should be C3-D9 on the Human Skintone Chart. Hair textures and shapes can be super straight, slight wave, light and fine, heavy and course, and curly.Men’s Hair:In longer hair and beards, they can have a few larger, colored, stone beads as well as a few brass, gold, or bronze rings. Make sure that the faces have some tattoos and at least 1 person is painted blue with white lines similar to Orlanth. Tattoos can be runes for Orlanth, The Storm Bull, Humakt, Ernalda, or The Red Goddess. I’ve also included some other designs that will be great for tattoos so you can be creative. Some men can have a few small braids or be partially buzzed. Jewelry on men can be neck torcs and/or necklaces. You can use Bronze, Silver, or Gold. You can use stones as long as they aren’t faceted.

1a. Long hair + long beard: The hair is tied at the brow, with long locks. The beard is long and allowed to curl. Most popular among older men.

1b. Long hair and Beard is in ringlets, hair is braided. We should also see a slightly greying and a mostly grey as well.

2a. Long hair + no beard: The hair is tied at the brow. The face is clean shaven or might have a few days of stubble. Most popular among younger men. This is the “Argrath” look. I’ve included Argrath’s head turn for reference.

2b. Hair Braided: Hair is braided and no beard

3a. Short hair + beard: The hair is fairly short, and the beard is kept trimmed.

3b. Short hair + no beard: The hair is short, the face is clean shaven.

4a. Broad Brimmed Hat: A stout, broad brimmed hat with band of larger, blue beads. Should be made of leather.

4b. Tall Brimless Hat: This is primarily for warmth. Made of wool.

5a. Holy Man Head Gear: Conical Hat with Ram’s Horns. There are source pics for each of these.

5b. Man of Higher Standing: Ruling men sometimes wear a circlet if they are officiating

Women’s Hair:

In longer hair, they can have a variety of, colored, stone beads as well as a some brass, gold, or bronze rings. Make sure that the faces have some tattoos and at least 1 person is painted green with white wheat shafts painted on. Tattoos can be runes for Orlanth, The Storm Bull, Humakt, Ernalda, or The Red Goddess. I’ve also included some other designs that will be great for tattoos so you can be creative. Most women have medium to long hair. They wear it down, partially down, or in elaborate up-dos. Warrior women should have their hair pulled back into braids or ponytails. Please create at 8-10 heads for women’s hair. Women wear earrings, necklaces, hair jewelry, and 1 woman should be wearing a headdress. The woman from 1a who also has an up-do should have an elaborate, many tiered necklace. You can use Bronze, Silver, or Gold. You can use stones as long as they aren’t faceted.

6a. Long with Braided Bangs: See Source6b. Long with Bun: Up-Do into a tidy bun and a few simple decorations

7a. Long partially shaved: Hair should be down. Skull should have a tattoo where the hair is shaved.

7b. Elaborate Ponytail: See Source and be creative.

8a. Shoulder Length Down: Down and loose.

8b. Shoulder Length Braids: Smallish braids.

9a. Fillet: See source for the fillet and ring. Leave off the neck Whimple.

9b. Headdress: See source

10a. Holy Woman: Should be painted green with Runes of Ernalda on her. She is s priestess of Ernalda. She should have snake jewelry and wheat shafts. Plus a crown similar to the one Ernalda is wearing.

10b. Woman of Higher Standing: Long hair is in an up-do. It has jewels and gold rings throughout. There is an elaborate circlet holding things in place.

I’ve posted a few thoughts on the dilemma of how mortals interact with the God Time, and how to understand the gods so that mortals might wield a fraction of their power in order to better survive in the World of Time. This is how things more or less work for 90+% of mortals.But there is one group of mortals that eschews that approach. In the West, mortals study the workings of the cosmos and the objective manifestations of the gods so that mortals can bend the cosmos to their will. That’s sorcery in a nutshell – a way for mortals to replicate rather than wield the magic of the gods. Sorcery serves only mortal will, and only comes with those limitations within the spell itself (many spells come with deliberate limitations that are nearly impossible to unweave and still understand the spell – and so they remain).The God Learners went a step further and explored the God Time, following the paths revealed by Arkat. By exploring the God Time and understanding the myths of the gods, these sorcerers could gain tremendous insight into the functioning of the cosmos and create far greater magic than the First Age sorcerers could even imagine. The God Learners did truly blasphemous things in order to gain knowledge – and one was to manipulate the challenges and tests used to prove spiritual claims. They might use sorcery to create effects that could not be created through known Rune magic and then use that to prove their claims and force changes on cults. For although sorcery is not directly as powerful or immediate as Rune magic, with preparation it can be far more flexible, and sorcerers can craft spells that duplicate the effects of Rune magic. Think through the implications of that and be appalled. And this is why the God Learners are hated. Not the Monomyth, which has been embraced by thinkers everywhere. Not the Middle Sea Empire, gone for seven centuries. Not even the Goddess Switch or the Machine City. No, it is the corrosive impact of their approach on spiritual experimentation. In the Third Age people feared heroquesting because they feared what the God Learners did and what happened to them.

The too short version is that sorcery allows the sorcerer to replicate the observable manifestations of the divine without needing to go through all that cult nonsense.

Another way of thinking of this is that sorcerers study the divine archetypes to be able to replicate their powers without the whole respect, worship, secret mysteries, and other cult stuff.It means the West is spiritually stunted in many ways. Too long the zzaburi have just Will to Power’ed their way through. Long ago they lost touch with both Malkion and Hrestol. And that includes both the Rokari and the New Hrestoli.

Most Lunar sorcerers have Irrippi Ontor at their core, and like their Lightbringer counterparts, they’ve supplemented that with sorcery. BUT the Lunar sorcerers have done the most with the Moon Rune of anyone.

Most other cultures just use sorcery peripherally as a supplemental approach. But at the core is Cult. So look at Lhankor Mhy – the God of Truth is at the core of what they do, sorcery is just a technique they use to gain additional knowledge and builds off what they have learned.

Only the Malkioni have really enabled their educated sorcery-types to run the whole show without that basic tie to divine. The Malkioni do not demand respect for their own magic, nor a tender care in treating with them. That whole Zzabur “Will to Power” mentality makes them more than willing to break eggs to make their omelets. The Closing, the Syndic’s Ban, the Goddess Switch, the False Gods of Umathela, and more. No wonder the cosmos itself rebelled against the God Learners.

Sorcery allows one to replicate the manifestations of the divine. You can imagine it as a rationalist approach to magic – or a purely hollow simulacrum.

Gbaji is strongly hated in the West, and most sorcerers view Arkat as a villain, so draw your own conclusions about sorcerous illuminates.

A few more notes on Changing Gods (hidden in another thread that I think is worth being the subject of a new thread). At the Dawn, the Thunderer and the Adventurer were often worshiped as separate gods. Pretty quickly the Theyalans recognised both as aspects of Orlanth, and that with a little preparation, a Thunderer could draw on Adventurer’s magic and vice versa. And both were pathways to Orlanth. And so very quickly they became Orlanth Thunderous and Orlanth Adventurous.Were they originally different gods? Or just aspects of the same? Does it even make sense to talk about the divine in that way? What is clear is that it is easier and more useful to worship Orlanth as having a Thunderer aspect and an Adventurous aspect than to worship them as separate gods. While it is more useful to worship Orlanth as being separate from Storm Bull (although there have been efforts to say they are the same).Sometimes things that were once thought possible are proven to be no more. So once there were those in Ralios who said Orlanth and Humakt were the same god. But since the end of the First Age it has not been possible to wield Humakt’s magic through Orlanth or vice versa.

Art by the amazing Loïc Muzy, naturally.

At the Dawn, many communities knew “Orlanth is the son of the Mountain Goddess and Great Air.” And heck, we have a mountain nearby. And so Orlanth was born atop Thunder Mountain. Or atop Imther Mountain. Or Bear Peak. Or whatever.But meanwhile those Heortlings clustered around Kero Fin gained special magic from the relationship – magic not replicated elsewhere. Except Top of the World, which granted its own magic. And so here’s the real question – is Kero Fin and Top of the World just manifestations of the same Mountain Goddess aspect and can we use TotW’s magic the same way we do Kero Fin’s?

The Loki television series has me thinking about the Gods of Glorantha. One way of looking at the cults is they are groups of people who gather around to worship the named manifestations of specific Gloranthan “archetypes”. We see these archetypes manifested everytime someone casts Rune Magic. Someone casts Thunderbolt? That’s a manifestation of the Thundering God we call Orlanth Thunderous. Someone casts Lie? That’s manifestation of the Trickster God we call Eurmal.We know something about these manifestations, because often they are us. When we duel honorably with swords, we are Humakt. When we persevere in the Darkness after having lost everything, we are Yelmalio. We wield the power of these Gloranthan gods when we cast Rune magic. We tell stories about them as we have witnessed or even participated in their deeds.But these stories, deeds, and names are just manifestations of deeper archetypes in the world. But these stories and deeds are often contradictory, given different names, or two versions of the same story often differ in key details. I saw Orlanth defeat Aroka, but I heard the same story told about Vadrus and Enkoshans. Orlanth killed Yelm with Death, but I heard another story where it was Humakt, or even Eurmal who killed Flamal with Death. I even heard a story where Eurmal is an alligator. All of these stories are true. But some truths work better than other truths.The Cults Book and the Sourcebook present the best known stories or more commonly witnessed deeds, but there are countless “variances” on these. Heroquesting allows us to interact directly with the archetypes of the setting, and lets us create our own stories, and assign our own names in a manner consistent with these archetypes. At some point we should have to ask ourselves, “what is it that makes a Red Goddess the Red Goddess?” Is it embrace of Chaos or Illumination? Is it the cycles of Life and Death, the Waxing and Waning Moon? Or is it just the color red?

Plenty of people ask “why is it that the Elmal cultists embraced the new version of Yelmalio of Monrogh?” Perhaps the same question is why is it that so many people people who knew Classic Loki embraced the Tom Hiddleston Loki?”

We know these cults have changed in Time. In the First Age, there was no Orlanth Rex, and the Thunderer and the Adventurer were often considered separate gods. But now we know that Orlanth takes many forms, and some that had gone out of fashion are returning. Like RIGHT NOW. Same thing is true of Yelmalio, Yelm, Zoran Zoran, and even Ernalda. The gods are eternal and unchanging BUT our understanding and interaction with them changes with Time.

Orlanth might well be the most extreme example but it is funny that almost nobody protests his changes. For example, we know that Orlanth sometimes takes female form, and when he is she, she is called Vinga. We know that the Thunderer and Adventurous are both Orlanth, even though they often behave differently. We know that Rex is Orlanth as the King of the Gods, but he was not even worshiped in that aspect until the later Second Age. We didn’t know what Orlanth did on his Lifebringers’ Quest until Harmast followed him on the Lightbringers Quest. Twice. And both times were different!The God Time is our Multiverse.

So what makes Orlanth Orlanth? Is it just Air?

At the Dawn, the Thunderer and the Adventurer were often worshiped as separate gods. Pretty quickly the Theyalans recognised both as aspects of Orlanth, and that with a little preparation, a Thunderer could draw on Adventurer’s magic and vice versa. And both were pathways to Orlanth. And so very quickly they became Orlanth Thunderous and Orlanth Adventurous.Were they originally different gods? Or just aspects of the same? Does it even make sense to talk about the divine in that way? What is clear is that it is easier and more useful to worship Orlanth as having a Thunderer aspect and an Adventurous aspect than to worship them as separate gods. While it is more useful to worship Orlanth as being separate from Storm Bull (although there have been efforts to say they are the same).Sometimes things that were once thought possible are proven to be no more. So once there were those in Ralios who said Orlanth and Humakt were the same god. But since the end of the First Age it has not been possible to wield Humakt’s magic through Orlanth or vice versa.

If you are interacting with the god within the broad ranges possible, then all you have to worry about is a priest banning you. In which case you just go to a different community.If you really transgress, then Spirits of Retribution might show up. But you have to really annoy the god (and usually the priests) to get to that stage.

Another thought – don’t make a fetish out of “First Age” approaches. Glorantha is not “primitivist,” where people at the Dawn understood the gods better than folk in the Third Age. In fact, we know that mortals in the First Age often got things wrong – disastrously so as the Broken Council proved. How mortals interact with, understand, and interpret the gods always changes as mortals themselves change how they interact with, understand, and interpret the world around them.

So remember, the God Time is our Multiverse. In the God Time, all the stories of the gods simultaneously exist – every version of them. Even the ones that contradict the ones we know. And they are ALL true.

So where does Horned Croc come from? I heard it was the time that Eurmal shape changed into an alligator in order to seduce Oslira and then get her to flood her banks. But if I recall, he couldn’t remember how to change back, so he wandered around the world growling and biting and waddling until he managed to annoy Ourania so much she dispelled his illusion with her Truth.

Then there was the time Eurmal got eaten by a fish who then impregnated Kylerela the Floating Land who in turn gave birth to Eurmal.

Remember, Eurmal is present in Glorantha. He’s closely tied to Orlanth. And some God Learners feared that Eurmal is active and present in the God Time and not “fixed in place” by Time. There are some accounts of Thanor in the Second Age that made it sound like the Void in Episode 5 of Loki. Complete with every Eurmal variant all hanging out, not just the Tom Hiddleston and Richard E Grant and Sophia di Martino, but also Owen Wilson, Jonas Strand Gravli, Orlando Jones, and both Johnny Depp and Keith Richards. And Mr. Raccoon as well.

As an aside, this is behind the notorious “Trickster University” the God Learners established in Thanor (Slontos) in the Second Age. Let’s get every version of Eurmal together in one place and create our own “Sacred Timeline of the Trickster,” so that the Trickster’s unpredictability and perverse lies and disorders can be minimised and made intelligible and controllable.Yeah, you can see how that ended up for them.

I imagine it was a completely mad place though. Filed with Tricksters, Trickster shrines, and earnest God Learners trying to make sense of the Tricksters, all manipulated by a Trickster.

A fine meal at Geo’s in Duck Point. Crawdads, garlic, onion, dried pear, beans, einkorn, and walnuts. With good beer!

This one is pretty incomplete and fragmentary as I am not sure I want to include a finished version in the Sartar Boxed Set, but I thought the Hiording might be interesting.

HIORDING

Sometimes called the “Swansons” or “Swancloaks,” the members of this clan are descendants of Hiord and Safeela, a swan maiden. This average-sized clan inhabits the upper Swanvale. They raise grain in the lowlands and herd cattle and sheep in the Thunder Hills. The hamlet of Apple Lane—with its market, inn, and Uleria temple—is within their clan lands.

LOCATION

The Hiording are in the Upper Swanvale, between Tarkalor Keep and Tarndisi’s Grove.

POPULATION

The Hiording are an average-sized clan numbering some 800 people. Of these, 300 are free adults, and 150 are semi-free herders or tenant farmers. They have about 20 households. About 100 members of the clan live outside of clan territory (mainly in Apple Lane or Clearwine Fort). About twenty-five people are singled out in the clan to be of special significance.

SETTLEMENTS

The main settlement is the village of Swan with about 100 adult residents divided into 5 households, including the households of the chief and chief priestess. Another 5 households live in and around Apple Lane. Another 3 households live in or around Asborn’s Stead. 7 more households are scattered around the Swanvale

MAGIC

Minor temple to Orlanth Thunderous and Ernalda, with a shrine to Barntar. Apple Lane has shrine to Uleria, shrine to Issaries.The clan spirit resides in a cloak of swan feathers worn by the chief priestess. The clan Earth priestess speaks to the clan wyter, which resides in a cloak of swan feathers worn by her. The chieftain is the clan’s Storm Voice and serves as warleader and judge. The chief Orlanth Thunder Priest of the Colymar Tribe belongs to the clan.There are 7 priests and priestess, 3 Orlanth Thunderous (including one in Apple Lane), 3 Ernalda, 1 Uleria, and 5 thanes (including the Thane of Apple Lane). There are 5 god-talkers – 2 Ernalda, 2 Orlanth, and 1 Barntar.Most prominent member of the clan is the tribal chief priest of Orlanth Thunderous, Asborn Thriceborn. He is considered a tribal official (although is factored into this).The women of the clan receive a cloak of swan feathers at their initiation and wear it whenever they are to be seen by outsiders.

MILITARY

Five thanes, 10 full time warriors. 175 militia.

LORE

There is a Scribe in Apple Lane (Squinch). He maintains records and accounts, with archives going back about a century.

ECONOMICS

200 W

Fertile valley +30W

Apple Lane +50W

Chief and Chief Priestess ´40W

12 thanes and priests and priestesses 120W

5 god-talkers 25W

Minor Temple – 50w (Orlanth and Ernalda)

3 Shrines – 15W (Uleria, Issaries, Barntar)

1 Scribe – 6W (Squinch)

1 crafter 4 W (Horsemaster in Apple Lane)

The most prominent member of the clan, Asborn Thrice Born, who supports himself with an extra +20W a year

Drinking in the Holy Country is a lot like in Sartar except:Most wine is red. And quite good. And also not watered down. Intoxication has divine sanction – we have Ernalda, Orlanth, and Lodril as rolemodels.Wheat beer is very popular and has a bread-y taste with hints of toasted nuts and grains.Young wines are popular in Earth Season and are drunk by the farmers (and is popular in the cities). Violence is less common in drinking halls than in Sartar. Consider it part of Belintar’s civilizing legacy.

Let’s separate the legendary sensual festivals of the palaces of Nochet or Rhigos, from those of ordinary life. For most folk in the Holy Country, red wine is available mainly at religious feasts and celebrations. Otherwise it is wheat beer, young wine, and fruit wines. Music and dancing are going to be common, with many claiming that Donandar hails from the Holy Country.That may or may not be true, but the Jolly Fat Man is definitely from the Holy Country. One of the sons of Ernalda, the Jolly Fat Man is a beloved Bacchus/Silenus figure, and at many feasts someone gets the honour of being the designated JFM to preside over the festivities. Athletic contests are VERY popular in the Holy Country (an echo of the even more popular Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death). The cult of the Strong Man is popular, and many cities have areas where muscled men work out and practice, often watched and celebrated by noble women.

As an aside, a Colymar adventurer in one of our campaigns with an 18 STR and 17 CHA joined the cult of the Strong Man in Nochet and made his fortune performing for the pleasure of aristocratic women. He concluded it was a much better life than being one of the bodyguards of Queen Leika.

Port is a distilled wine – so you need to add distilled wine like aguardiente. Such things exist, but largely under the control of sages and other specialists. In short, it ain’t cheap or common.

And of course, in the Holy Country you never know if the jolly fat drunk or the intoxicated women at the festival are powerful priests or even gods, so better just treating them like gods and letting them roll with it.

Other things very common in the Holy Country – incense, spice, silk, and intoxicants. Remember, the Holy Country has the world’s merchant fleet, a colony in Teshnos, and trade contacts in Lur Nop, Fonrit, Jrustela, Teleos, and even the East Isles.So if you want your lush, sensual, drug-hazed festivals, no better places than Nochet or Rhigos.

As an aside Lyndsey Marshal from HBO’s Rome is always in mind when I think of Queen Samastina of Nochet.

There are some very tasty emmer and einkorn beers available in Dragon Pass and the Holy Country. I have even tried one, I think from the Killard Vale. No IPAs I fear. But they have lots of einkorn and emmer wheat – which means wheat beers are going to be popular.

Esrolia and Caladraland are famed for their reds. The merchantss claim that Vinavale produces the best reds in the Holy Country, and by extension in Glorantha.Dragon Pass and Heortland has more white grapes.

One thing I have learned from living in Berlin is that white grapes can be grown in much more adverse conditions than red. There are decent white wines in places like Thuringia and Saxony, and superb white wine the Sudtirol.

More on drinking:

In the Lunar Heartlands, it is the Lodrilli peasantry and workers that drink heavily. And often. The Yelmites put too much importance on self-control and purity, and drunkenness is seen as a “lower class” thing. Popular beverages include maize beer, barley beer, and fermented rice drinks.Of course the upper classes drink too, but public drunkenness is considered shameful or embarrassing. And Moonson’s notorious indulgences are transgressive and expensive – there is more likely to be hazia and vats of wine at his court than pots of cheap maize beer!Which also ties into the Lunar ruling class view that the barbarians are basically Lodrilli peasants.

hashish+peyote. Lets you discorporate your spirit from your body.

So if we imagine in Raibanth or Alkoth, the city folk drink their rice, maize, or barley drinks, but frown on drinking to excess outside of a few religious events (like some of the Lunar festivals).There’s a part of me that thinks these Lunar festivals sometimes resemble the Red Hour from Return of the Archons (Star Trek).

Another popular drink in the Lunar Heartlands is a wine or beer made out of rice, barley, or maize, similar to Ara of Bhutan.

When thinking about the Lunar Heartlands, remember – it is a flat, well-watered plain with grasslands and marshes. It gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Think Eastern Washington or Hungary or the Ukrainian steppes. It is a great distance from any ocean and the Rockwoods block rain from the west. The climate changes when you get further west or south (because of the mountains), but the Heartlands themselves are the bottom of the bowl.

And it is worth mentioning again, places like Karasal and First Blessed have pretty tough weather. Elz Ast gets tons of snow blown off the White Sea – think Buffalo, New York in winter! Not much to do there in winter except drink hot maize and rice beer!

Are there certain cults that tend toward teetotalism? Off-hand: Dayzatar, Ourania, Danfive Xaron, Thanatar, Crimson Bat, and sometimes Humakt.

Some notes for an art piece, that I thought folk might enjoy. And of course, you drink your clearwine out of a wide-bowled drinking cup you pass around. These drinking bowls are often ornately decorated and very valued. And the Orlanthi don’t water down their wine. And drink plenty at their festivals. Priests offer praise to the gods, then the bowl is handed around and everyone takes a swig. Repeat again and again. Attendants make sure the bowl is always full. Music is played, there are dancers, while the rest of the folk get drunk. You make sure everyone is entertained, because you have drunk armed Orlanthi who take insults seriously and are notorious for their violent outbursts.

So if you want to have a scene or an opportunity for your players to do something stupid, have it take place at the king’s drinking hall. Or even better, at the Prince’s drinking hall. Get the adventurers drunk and then have someone insult them. Then step back and watch the fun.

In the Lunar Heartlands, it is the Lodrilli peasantry and workers that drink heavily. And often. The Yelmites put too much importance on self-control and purity, and drunkenness is seen as a “lower class” thing. Popular beverages include maize beer, barley beer, and fermented rice drinks.Of course the upper classes drink too, but public drunkenness is considered shameful or embarrassing. And Moonson’s notorious indulgences are transgressive and expensive – there is more likely to be hazia and vats of wine at his court than pots of cheap maize beer!Which also ties into the Lunar ruling class view that the barbarians are basically Lodrilli peasants.

But more than cup breaking controversies, I suspect the most common disturbance at Orlanthi drinking halls are fights. Folk get drunk, someone says something, and next thing you know you have a bunch of armed drunks brawling.

At one of Argrath’s feasts that was exactly what had been prepared. For when high-strung and drunken Praxian khans or Wind Lords needed to fight it out in front of the White Bull (who in truth had likely left his body and was traveling the Spirit World).

Then again, Argrath’s feasts are notoriously drunken, hedonistic, and dangerous.

As an aside, Clearwine is a white grape. The best Clearwine is prepared as an ice wine, with the grapes collected after the first freeze in Darkness Season. But most Clearwine grapes are made into a rather dry white wine, nearly clear in color (hence the name).The fermented freshly pressed grape juice is also made into a refreshing beverage (Federweisser) that is drunk around harvest time.

People might have noticed that there are a lot of references to things like athletic competitions in the new Sartar material. Foot and chariot races, fighting (with weapons or without), throwing, hurling, or shooting competitions, and so on – all of that would be commonly something that is a part of many seasonal festivals. With eating, drinking, dancing, and music, of course.

These festivals have booze, dancing, music, athletic competitions- lots of youthful romance!

Also, given that all the young people are adults AND the Orlanthi don’t have a lot of sex taboos, I expect there are plenty of hook-ups that happen at these festivals. Especially among the young adults, who have been doing their Brotherhood or Sisterhood years largely separate from each other.

As an aside, some of these festivals likely get pretty wild, and taken very seriously. There is an athletic competition in Two Hour Town, where a biennial competition is held to celebrate Orlanth’s wooing of Ernalda. One of the events is to run from Two Hour Town to Sartar’s Palace (culminating in running up the Thousand Steps) about 20 km away. While wearing a full kit of bronze armor – helmet, cuirass, greaves, and vambraces. In early Earth Season, when the temperature is going to be in the mid-20s.

Another popular event is the pankration, where two (probably nude) young men are in a marked area, and they fight, with only rules being:1. can’t leave the marked area.2. No biting.3. No gouging.

The Orlanthi wrestle, box, race, swim, and jump. They also like competitions that involve sword-fighting, archery, and javelin throwing. Given the importance of martial activities in their society, sport is a big deal and practiced by most everyone. The big agricultural festivals have athletic competitions to please the Earth Goddess, but there are also athletic competitions and mock sparring contests in early summer when the militia is mustered and the tribal assembly is held.

The Sartarites do have game of “common ball” – the teams play it nearly as violently as a battle. Highly teamwork oriented, the game is played between two teams of usually 12 to 14 players each, with one ball. The rules of the game allow using hands. The teams try to throw the ball over the heads of the other team. There is line between the teams and another white line behind each team. Teams charge the ball often until one of the team is forced behind the line at their end.

So these games often resemble a semi-organised brawl. With a ball.

These are all variants of the traditional ball games of Europe and the Near East. They go back a LONG time.

Cheese Rolling? Maybe in Imther. But I understand that in the Lunar Provinces there is a Cave Toad leaping contest.

I’d look as much at things like lacrosse as traditional English sports.

In game, these big seasonal gatherings are good opportunities to impress others with your skills – potential romantic partners, cult and tribal leaders, potential allies, rivals, etc. The young men going through their Adventurous training in the hills, the young women at the Earth Temple – they get to meet and show off. Cult leaders get to see who has potential, etc. Gifts and accolades are given out, wine is drank, and love is found. But they are also good opportunities for rivalries to be created, for tempers to flare, and tensions to build.

One more community resource description:

ORLMARTH CLAN

This medium-sized clan herds cattle and sheep on the Starfire Ridges, and grow grain and grapes in the lowland valley. The Orlmarth are often called the “Woodpecker clan.” This clan is sometimes also called the “Starfires,” because of where they live; and the “Keeper of Secrets”, presumably because of their role in tribal male initiation rites.

LOCATION

The Orlmarth live along the Starfire Ridges to the west of the Quivin Mountains. This is a rugged area with much seismic activity. The Starfire Ridges are a high mass of tuff and sandstone, and there is geothermal area called the Cinder Pits with steaming sulfur vents.

POPULATION

The Ormarth are a medium-sized clan numbering some 800 people. Of these, 325 are free adults, and 125 are semi-free herders or tenant farmers. They have about 35 households. About 100 members of the clan live outside of the clan territory.Twenty-six people are singled out in the clan to be of special significance, according to their social rank. They are:

1. Savan Kenstrelson, the chieftain

2. Chief Priestess

3-13. Priests and other thanes

14-16. Three crafters (red-smith, stonemason, pottery artist)

17-26. Heads of important households

SETTLEMENTS

About half the clan resides in Old Man Village, a walled village in the Nymie Vale near their border with the Ernaldori clan with about 400 residents. There are about 18 households, including that of the chieftain and the crafters. The village controls access to the Starfire Ridges. Another 12 households live in four small hamlets scattered around the Nymie Vale below the Starfire Ridges. Five more households live in steads on the Starfire Ridge itself. About 100 members of the clan live outside of the clan territory, mostly in Clearwine Fort about 8 kilometers away.There can be up to 300 young men residing on the Starfire Ridges, in several makeshift camps.

MAGIC

The Orlmarth maintain a minor temple to Orlanth Thunderous, and shrines to Ernalda, Esrola, Voriof, Orlanth Adventurous, and one more deity. The clan has five full-time priests, five martial thanes, and eight god-talkers. The clan sage of Lhankor Mhy is part of the Knowledge Temple in Wilmskirk. For more important Earth Magic, the Clearwine Earth Temple is nearby. The Orlmarth control access to a major temple to Orlanth atop the Starfire Ridges, which gives them access to many powerful cult spirits and Air elementals. The clan’s magic is strongly oriented towards Air and Movement.The clan has several magical treasures including the Thunderer’s Wagon which needs four oxen to pull it, and numerous matrixes for Rune and spirit magic.The red-headed woodpecker is sacred to them, and their guardian spirit is bound to one of the woodpeckers in the clan lands. It is taboo for clan members to harm red-headed woodpeckers.

MILITARY

The Orlmarth maintain five martial thanes from the Orlanth Adventurous cult and 12 full-time warriors, led by the clan chief. The clan can muster about 175 militia, including many slingers and skirmishers. The clan militia musters and trains as part of the Colymar tribal militia.In addition, there are often as many as 300 young men on the Starfire Ridges, where they hunt, raid, and learn to fight as a group. These bands serve as skirmishers. LOREThe Orlmarth priests are an oral repository of Orlanth cult lore and of Colymar songs going back three centuries. The clan has a reputation for singing, typically accompanied by drumming.The clan sage records events, accounts, and clan and tribal legal matters, and writes correspondence on behalf of the clan chief.

WEALTH

The Orlmarth have enough arable land for subsistence; most of their surplus wealth comes from their livestock (particular sheep) and their control of the Orlanth holy sites on the Starfire Ridges.The Orlmarth or the bands of young men on the Starfire Ridges often raid the Greydog Clan for additional resources.

LEGAL/POLITICAL

The Orlmarth are closely linked by marriage, cult, and tradition to the other Colymar clans. The clan has significant influence in tribal affairs, and four of the last twelve tribal kings have come from this clan – all died heroically in the defense of the tribe.This clan has a long-standing rivalry with the Greydog clan of the Lismelder tribe, who live on the other side of the Starfire Ridge.

COUNSEL/ADVICE

The Orlmarth are well-listened to by the other Colymar clans. They are typically able to find good marriage partners throughout the Colymar Tribe.

SOCIAL The Orlmarth look to Clearwine Fort (only about 8 km away) for larger cultural activities, including athletic competitions, fertility celebrations, and for trade opportunities. The clan events are either strongly associated with the larger Orlanth cult or are “clubby” events where outsiders are rarely welcome.The clan priests oversee male apprenticeship rights for several local clans, and bands of young men seeking to prove themselves can often be found on the Starfire Ridges.

ECONOMICS

The Orlmarthing have an agricultural surplus of 200W, with another 75W coming from their control of a major temple to Orlanth. They often raid the Greydog clan for additional resources. Out of this they pay:40W for their chief and chief priestess.100W for ten thanes and priests. They have five priests, and five thanes.60W for 12 bodyguards40W for eight god-talkers.12W for three crafters. They have a red-smith, a mason, and a potter.6W for a scribe

About how much would you say raiding brings in? Because wow, that is an interesting dynamic now we have numbers. The Greydog clan lose money to the Orlmarth… I assume the Greydogs need to brew a lot of beer to make up the difference. Or send their warriors to guard their livestock from those teenagers.I kind of imagine that living near the Starfire Ridge is like dwelling near a permanent rock festival, filled with young men with something to prove and all out of food and money.

between the Boldhome Bronze Workers Guild, the Ernaldori, the Orlmarth, and the Varmandi, I think have presented a good and diverse range of Orlanth communities. Sure I could do more but this is probably enough to give a taste.

What I am pleased about is how different the Ernaldori are from the Orlmarth, even though they are traditional marriage partners, are only 8 km away, and pretty much interlinked. And the Varmandi just have it tough.

VARMANDI CLAN

The Varmandi are a small clan, and herd cattle and sheep in Stael’s Hills and the Thunder Hills, areas claimed by other clans, and this often puts them into conflict with their neighbors. They are sometimes known as the “Badger clan.”

LOCATION

The Varmandi are located between Tarkalor Keep and Apple Lane, along the border between the Colymar Tribe and the Malani Tribe.

POPULATION

The Varmandi are small clan numbering some 450 people. Of these, 225 are free adults, and 75 are semi-free herders or tenant farmers. They have about 20 households. Twenty people are singled out in the clan to be of special significance, according to their social rank. They are:

1. Korol Serpent-Tongue, the chieftain

2. Hindala, Chief’s wife and Earth Woman

3-5. Orlanth Thunderous god-talkers

6-8. Ernalda Wise Women

9-15. Thanes.

16-20. Heads of prominent families.

SETTLEMENTS

Their main settlement is the small walled village of Oakton, which has about 70 adult residents. There are four households within the village, including the household of the clan chieftain. The clan’s other 230 adults are divided into 16 households. Six live on farms clustered around Tarkalor Keep, and four are relatively near Apple Lane. The other six households live in steads near the border with the Malani Tribe.

MAGIC

The Varmandi support a minor temple to Orlanth Adventurous and shrines to Ernalda and Voriof. The clan‘s guardian spirit resides in the Oak of Vengeance, a sacred oak in the center of Oakton, and is the source of the clan’s terrifying war cry and their ability to heal themselves in combat. The clan chief serves as the clan’s chief priest. The clan is served by several spirits (including a badger spirit that is the source of the clan’s taboo against harming that animal) and Air elementals. The clan chieftain possesses the Lerith Sword, an ancient magical weapon, and the clan also has several minor magical artifacts. The clan is strong with war and combat magic but is quite weak with fertility and earth magic.

MILITARY

The Varmandi are a war clan, and their Orlanth Adventurous temple serves as a warrior society. The clan has fifteen full-time warriors (in addition to the thanes) who support themselves through war and raiding. The clan can muster about 120 people as the clan militia, including many slingers and skirmishers.

LORE

The Varmandi have several storytellers that keep the oral lore of the clan back to when it settled in the area around 1325. Herders and hunters know paths and ambush places throughout the local hills.

WEALTH

The Varmandi are a poor clan, and suffered terribly during the Lunar Occupation. The clan has comparatively little arable land—only about 60 hides worth. Most of the clan’s wealth is in the form of their livestock. Some of the animals are needed for plowing and daily support, but the Varmandi keep about 400 cattle and 1200 sheep in the hills. Of these, some 100 cattle belong to the tribal Orlanth temple (whose high priest is the tribal king) and are sacred to the local Orlanth cult. The livestock graze primarily in the Gejay Hills, which often puts them in conflict with the neighboring Malani tribe, specifically the Orleving clan.

LEGAL/POLITICAL

The Varmandi are notorious troublemakers and have few allies even among the Colymar Tribe. They have turbulent and violent history, even by Sartarite standards. They have a long-standing feud with the Orleving Clan of the Malani Tribe who drove them out of the Ormathane Vale centuries ago. The Varmandi are notorious for having started several tribal wars with their feuds. King Tarkalor built a tower and hunting lodge in Varmandi lands to keep peace between the Colymar and Malani tribes.

COUNSEL/ADVICE

The Varmandi are not particularly regarded for their wise counsel or advice on matters of peace; however, they are shrewd and skilled raiders and bushwhackers.

SOCIAL

The Varmandi hold the typical local Orlanthi seasonal festivals. During their Orlanth Adventurous festival, their warriors perform a group dance at the Oak of Vengeance with sword fighting and accompanied by drums and spoken poetry.

ECONOMY

The Varmandi are a small clan and their surplus is only 100W. The Varmandi are a War Clan and bring in another 100W a year through raiding, looting, and mercenary activities. This gives them the ability to support additional thanes and warriors purely through raiding. They need to take in 10W per thane and 4W per warrior so supported through raiding, usually through cattle raids, or by support from the tribal king or by selling their services as mercenaries. The Varmandi have a warrior society with 7 thanes and 15 warriors that is supported purely through this means. This makes them very unpopular with their neighbors. However, this allows them to maintain a minor temple to Orlanth Adventurous, and shrines to Ernalda and Voriof. Out of this they pay:40W for their chief and chief priestess.70W for seven thanes or priests. They have 7 thanes.60W for 15 warriors.30W for six god-talkers (worth the equivalent of 4 priests).

One thing that quickly comes out of this for me – boy, the Varmandi would suck to have as neighbours.

Copper Town (town): This fortified settlement of some 2000 inhabitants is home to the miners and crafters who work the copper mines in the Barastaros Hills, one of the richest copper ores in Dragon Pass. Ore is brought from the mines and smelted outside the town in kilns and furnaces, and poured into molds. The copper bars are then transported by mule to Early Rise and then to Furthest, or shipped downriver to the Lunar Heartlands. Copper slag heaps from the last three centuries litter the landscape around Copper Town. The city is “owned” by the King of Tarsh and governed by his deputies.

Art by the amazing Loïc Muzy of course.

Asrelia is the patron of mining.

So to put it more in a way that the Gloranthans would get, copper is found in rocks that hide treasure. You prise out the copper ores from the rocks using mauls and hammer stones. You then crush the ores and then smelt it. You remove sulphurs and other impurity through heating and create plenty of slag waste. You then take the copper and form it into ingots for transport to the metalworkers.So there are certain rocks that hide copper within. But you got to work to get it out. But where you have these rocks, there can be a lot of copper!

So the finding of the ore – you sacrifice to Asrelia, as she is the Goddess of Treasure Beneath the Earth. Smelting the ore, that is Gustbran the Workfire and God of the Kiln.

Actually most of the copper from Copper Town comes in the form of ingots. There are kilns all over the area near Copper Town, and loads of slag mounds.

Here’s another example of a RuneQuest community from the Sartar Book:

BOLDHOME BRONZE WORKERS GUILD

The Bronze Workers Guild of Boldhome smelts bronze out of copper by alloying it with tin (both of which are mainly brought to Boldhome by caravans from Esrolia or Tarsh) in kilns and then melting the bronze and casting it into molds. The cast bronze object is then finished– polished, sharpened, joined, decorated, etc. Because the copper and tin ingots are imported from elsewhere, there is relatively little slag produced. To become a guild member is the same process as becoming a lay member of the guild’s patron deity; in addition, the candidate must swear loyalty to the guild and pay an annual “contribution” to the guild’s communal funds. In return, the guild protects its members and furthers their livelihood.

LOCATION

The Bronze Workers Guild House is located on Brass Street in the West Pocket of the city of Boldhome. POPULATION

There are 75 full initiates of the Bronze Workers Guild and another 75 apprentices. There are 5 priests, who serve as the masters of the guild.

MAGIC

The Guild House is a minor temple to Gustbran the Bonesmith. The priests teach spirit magic spells and provide access to Gustbran’s Rune Magic. They also have several bound Fire Elementals that serve the guild, and several Gods Bones, which are sacred artifacts.

MILITARY

The Guild employs 30 full time guards to protect its members. These guards are all well-equipped with bronze armor and weapons.

LORE

The Guild scribes keeps records of accounts and contracts going back over a century, including member records, correspondence with caravans, miners, mercenary companies and cults, and financial records.

WEALTH

The Guild has a monopoly over the crafting of bronze in Boldhome, collects rents on homes and workshops, and owns mines that produce copper and tin. Collectively, this gives it wealth greater than most clans.

LEGAL/POLITICAL

The Bronze Workers Guild has great influence in the city of Boldhome. Its members are citizens and participate in the city assembly.

SOCIAL

The Bronze Workers Guild has seasonal ceremonies for its members, and, together with the Pottery Guild, sponsors a festival each Storm Season after the Orlanth High Holy Day.

ECONOMICS

The Bronze Workers Guild is on Brass Street in the city of Boldhome. It is a Minor Temple to Gustbran, the god of the forge. The society is actually quite small—there are far less than 500 smiths who are members of it—but it counts as an Average sized society because of its large customer base. This gives it a base surplus of 200W (note that the crafters of the guild are not an expense). The guild has trade agreements with many mercenary companies and cults, and collects rent from many of the forges and homes of its members that it owns. It also owns many of the mines that produce the metals it depends on. These are three resources, which increase its surplus to 350W a year.Their magical expenses are 50W for the minor temple; it employs 2 god-talkers, 2 priests and a chief priest. The chief priest is the Guild Master and receives another 10W in support. It employs 30 full time guards to protect the temple grounds (120W), and 10 scribes to handle its accounts (50W). Finally, it spends 50W of influence annually on parties, gifts, and contributions to city officials. The total expenses are 280W. The final 70W left over after expenses are used for purchasing additional copper and tin, or is saved and used for emergency expenses.

Art by the amazing Loic Muzy

All of the smiths of the BOLDHOME guild are mostly resident in Boldhome.

Like many people, you can go to Boldhome and set up shop. If you are already an initiate of Gustbran, that’s pretty easy. Just present yourself to the Guild, pay your contribution and follow the rules.If you are some weirdo like Third Eye Blue, that’s maybe not so easy.

It does seem people like the Community Resource template that Jason Durall and I have come up with. It is nicely flexible and captures how Greg tried to categorise communities and societies.

ERNALDORI CLAN DESCRIPTION

One of the largest, oldest, and most powerful clans in Sartar, the Ernaldori are named after the Earth goddess, who is their patron and protector.

LOCATION

The Nymie Vale along the Stream, southwest of the Quivin Mountains.

POPULATION

The Ernaldori clan is one of the larger Sartarite clans, with some 1,600 members. Of these, some 800 are free adults, mostly farmers, and 300 are semi-free tenants and laborers. There are approximately 60 free households.Forty-four people are singled out in the clan to be of special significance, according to their social rank. They are:

1. Baranthos the Chief*

2. Chief’s wife.

3. Dunorl the Chief Priest of Orlanth Thunderous, Rainmaker*

4. Erenava Chan, High Priestess of Ernalda, Earth Woman*

5. Yanioth the Old, Priestess of Asrelia*

6. Wilms Willandring, Wind Lord of Orlanth Adventurous, Champion*

7. Hastur, Priest of Lhankor Mhy, lawspeaker*

8. Hareva Chan, Thane, priestess of Issaries, Goodvoice*

9. Grain Goddess Priestess

10-25. Heads of notable Households.

26-44. Priests and other thanes.*indicates member of Clan Council.

An eighth member, *Clown, is not on this list.

SETTLEMENTS

The largest population center in the Nymie Vale is the town of Clearwine Fort, which has about 1000 adults. 550 of the adults living there are members the Ernaldori clan, making up half the clan’s population, including most of the clan leaders. There are 70 households within the town, including the household of the tribal ruler (which is far larger than most households) – however, the tribal ruler is not often a member of the clan.The clan’s other 550 adults are divided into 40 households. Twelve households live in a village called Greenbrass, on the west side of the Nymie River. Five live in a hamlet north of Clearwine near the old Lunar ruins. Another five live in a hamlet near the base of the Little Starfire Ridge. The other 18 households live on their farms scattered around the vale. About 100 adults live outside of the clan homeland.

MAGIC

The Ernaldori are closely tied to the Clearwine Earth Temple, a major temple of the Ernalda cult. They also have a minor temple to Orlanth Thunderous, and six shrines to other deities – Asrelia, Babeester Gor, Flamal, Donandar, Gustbran, and Minlister – controlled by the clan. As a result, clan members have access to a very broad range of spirit magic spells, the full range of Ernalda Rune Magic, Orlanth Thunderous magic, and some Rune magic from several other cults. The clan’s magic is strongly oriented towards Earth and Fertility.Numerous earth elementals of all size serve as temple associates, as does a nymph and a Snake Daughter. The temple has numerous guardians and magical artifacts such as the Mirror of Ernalda, an many minor magical items such as binding matrixes for earth elementals or spell matrixes.The clan itself has a guardian spirit that takes the form of a sacred corn snake. As a result, harming such snakes is taboo for clan members.

MILITARY

The Ernaldori maintain a militia of 320 adults, which trains and serves as part of the Colymar tribal militia. The clan chieftain is expected to lead the defense of the clan against any foes. To aid the chief, the clan maintains five martial thanes and ten bodyguards.

LORE

The Clearwine Earth Temple archives has land tenure, harvest, and granary records going back some 300 years, as well as records of those who served the temple, and many marriage and genealogical records. The temple knows the name of most significance Earth spirits and minor deities in western Sartar. Temple archives also include some Second Age and early Third Age records from the Holy Country. Much of this information is written in Theyalan, although some cult information is carved in Earthtongue.The clan elders possess much oral history and gossip concerning the history of the Colymar Tribe and of the Principality of Sartar.WEALTHThe Clearwine Earth temple possesses great agricultural wealth, stores enough grain to feed 10,000 people for a season, and has reserves of precious metals. Members of that clan control much of that wealth, making them one of the wealthier clans in Sartar.The clan also has rich farmlands it directly controls.

LEGAL/POLITICAL

The Clearwine Earth temple has great influence in the Colymar Tribes and in the tribes around Wilmskirk. Thousands of people look to the temple for fertility and harvest blessings, and all the Colymar clans are sworn to defend the temple.The Ernaldori themselves have great influence within the Colymar Tribe and have particularly strong ties with the Anmangarn, Arnoring, Konthasos, Ormarth, and Taraling Clans, as well as with the Zethnoring Clan of the Locaem Tribe. They had close ties with the Sartar Dynasty prior to the Lunar Conquest.

COUNSEL/ADVICE

The clan has several elders well regarded for their wise advice and good counsel. With the aid of the Earth Priestesses, members can find a good marriage partner in much of Dragon Pass and even the Holy Country.

SOCIAL

The clan throws feasts and festivals at least once a season. These include athletic contests (particularly foot and chariot races, and fighting), eating, dancing, drinking, and music, and other social and cultural activities.

ECONOMICS

The Ernaldori Clan is almost an appanage to the Colymar Earth Temple, which is an important holy site of Sartar. They are a large clan, and their base annual surplus is 300W. They are a Peace Clan and have fertile croplands. They also have a magical site of regional importance which brings in income from pilgrimage and patronage, but that wealth is under the control of the high priestess of the Earth Temple. These three resources make their annual surplus 525W.Their Military expenses are: 20W for their chief, 50W for thanes, 10W for bodyguards. Their total Military expenses are only 80W (their size, however, gives them a Militia of 320 men, which count as 32W of Military strength for an effective total of 112W).Their Magical expenses are: 20W for their chief priestess, 200W for priests, 60W for 12 god-talkers, 30W for five scribes, 48W for 12 crafters, 20W for 5 temple healers (apprentice priestesses), and 28W for 7 temple dancers. Their total Magical expenses are 406W.The rest of the surplus (39W) is stored with the Earth Temple. This allows them to support a Major Temple to the Earth Goddess 23 priestesses and 6 god-talkers), and minor temple to Orlanth Thunderous (5 priests, 4 thanes and 3 god-talkers). They have 6 shrines to other deities – Babeester Gor, Issaries, Flamal, Donandar, and two others.

We noticed a lack of temples or shrines to Issaries and LM. You go to the tribal temples. This is the stuff controlled by the clan. Or you go to Wilmskirk or Jonstown, as there are proper temples there. Clans are not self-contained.

There is a Lightbringer Temple in Clearwine. That’s a tribal temple and supported at the tribal level. Like the Orlanth Thunderous temple there. The clans don’t really have a direct say in its affairs (although individual clan members might) and its activities are subject to the tribal council and rex.The Ernaldori are pretty much an appanage to the Earth Temple though, which gives them a strongly matrilineal element. Of course, the clan’s name is a dead giveaway to that.

One thing we tried to do with the Sartar Book is present the network of clans, temples, and tribes that make up Sartar. I might be an Ernaldoring, but if I worship Gustbran, I’m going to Wilmskirk for my god’s holy ceremonies. And if I worship Orlanth Adventurous, my religious focus is likely tribal, not clan.

So the Mask called Argenteus came down from the Red Moon in 1607, seven weeks after the previous incarnation was killed by the White Bear in a Dart War. Argenteus took no vengeance against those who slew his previous incarnation. Argenteus is known to spend much time in his stately pleasure palace in the City of Dreams, and allows the Seven Tharkalists (seven women, born to Militiaris from seven different mothers, all born within the same hour in 1585, and identical but for one feature each) to serve collectively as his chief minister so that lesser advisors do not upset his enjoyments.Lunar apologists claim this is proof of Argenteus’ spiritual development and illumination. And it is true that Argenteus is popular with the urban masses and the rural peasantry, while maintaining a glittering and hedonist court – cheery, heartless, and amoral. However, his popularity has been declining since the White Moon Movement was violently suppressed in 1623, and there are peasant uprisings throughout the Heartlands, while Oraya has been overwhelmed by the Pentan invasion. In 1625, Argenteus used much of his personal magic to force a True Dragon to turn away from Glamour. After ruling for 18 years, people whisper if Moonson is preparing for a new incarnation.

Lunar historians and scribes gloss over things like it took seven weeks for a new incarnation of Moonson to be recognised and the conflicting proclamations of the various proxies who still wielded fragments of Moonson’s power, just as they gloss over the Dart Wars that are waged behind the serene masks of the satraps and Imperial Household.”Such things,” explains an official Irrippi Ontor guiding document, “are simply not worthy of record and only cause confusion and occlusion.” Woe to the poor scribe who does record such things!

I recently made the comment that “it isn’t as if the Sartarites get up to Glamour very often” – but let’s not forget, it is only about 700 km from Glamour to Furthest. It takes about a week and a half or so to get from Boldhome to Furthest. From Furthest, one could take a boat to Raibanth, so lets assume that goes 50 km per day, which gets you to Raibanth in two weeks or so. Another day or two to get to Glamour.That suggests we could probably do the trip in four weeks if we pushed it, probably a season is more realistic (stops for food, trade, looking around, getting permission, getting in trouble, etc.). That is still quite doable. So expect there are Sartarites who have been to Glamour. Maybe even more than a few.But I doubt they get invitations into the Inner City or get to go to the Imperial Palace or Moonson’s parties. Whew!

As we know, in the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Wanes, the Lunar Empire often sent treaty wives to various barbarian kings. I suspect there were emissaries sent to negotiate this marriages, so presumably there is an emissary tradition. If the Lunars do it, so do others I suspect.In fact, we know that there is a tradition of Emissaries in Dragon Pass. So presumably Tarkalor and Terasarin may have even sent the occasional emissary to Glamour (to talk about stuff like caravans and so on). And maybe after 1629 we see that again? Who wants to be Argrath’s emissary to Glamour during the Civil Wars! 😃

This is why I think it is far more realistic to assume a trip from Boldhome to Glamour would take a season or more.Not just that walking eight hours a day, day after day, is tiring. But things need to be arranged, gods and spirits placated, people seen, important people need to be gifted or bribed, bandits avoided, etc.

As an aside, this is part of why Sartar’s roads are so amazing. Paved, with regular caravanserai, shrines, rest stops, AND protection? Wow!

Going from Boldhome to Furthest is probably pretty easy (at least to Slavewall). I imagine the King of Tarsh personally gets too much money from the Furthest terminus of the Dragon Pass Road to do more than tax it. But from Furthest downriver? Everyone wants a piece of that action, and the Red Emperor probably takes a cut every time.

I wouldn’t say most Gloranthans “never travel at all”. For example, most Sartarites travel to their local city several times a year, and many to Boldhome at least once a year.

SARTARITE VIEW OF THE RED EMPEROR

The Red Emperor is the latest of a long dynasty of wizard-kings who rule the Lunar Empire, answerable only to their mother, the Red Moon goddess. They are immortal, in that no “natural” death can take them, although many have been slain in physical or magical combat (most notably in the Battle of Boldhome in 1602 and by Harrek the Berserk in 1607). Because they are a fanatical and warlike dynasty, many Moonsons have descended to earth to rule. Each appears identical and maintains the Imperial policies of his predecessor, so that it is claimed by many that one man has ruled for centuries.

It is worth noting that the Sartarites totally do not buy the whole Mask thing.

A Stranger came ashore in 1313. He quickly proved himself greater than any mortal, and knew secrets known only to the gods. In a great magical war, he overthrew the Lord of Darkness, the Only Old One, and united the peoples around the Bay into the Holy Country. For three centuries, the Stranger did rule as the God-King Belintar. And he had quite the fan club!

Belintar – RuneQuest: Cults of Glorantha – Chaosium Inc. 2021

Here’s something more recent – some notes on the organization of tribes and clans for the Sartar Book.

Although individual priests might be on the tribal ring, they usually are there as representatives of the main temples. At the tribal assembly all the priests can put what influence they want and have.

The Rex is the leader of the tribe. He or she is the head of the Orlanth cult, war leader, and the one who speaks with the tribal spirit.

We often translate the title of the Rex as “king” but it literally means “(Divinely-sanctioned) Leader.” Denotes the incarnation of Orlanth Rex. Often synonymous with King or Prince, but not always. See also City Rex.

A taxonomy of Glorantha life, courtesy of the God Learners.

Greg came up with this system very early on. Long before anyone had a glimmer of Orlanth or the Red Goddess. That’s the God Learner taxonomy and I prefer to keep it.

Ducks are either birds cursed with intelligence and flightlessness, or men cursed with beaks and feathers. Simple as that!

Here are few sketches that people might find of interest:

Many human societies joke (often cruelly) about areas where the people hold stubbornly to their ignorance, xenophobia, and isolation. In the US, this is often Appalachia, in Germany this is often Mecklenburg-Pommerania, in the UK it is often the North of England, etc. Such jokes are typically cruel and unfar, but there can be elements of truth in them.In Sartar, such jokes are ALWAYS about the Lismelder. Lismelder “Duck Friend” is a stock archetype with the Puppeteer Troupe and thanks to them is known in the Lunar Provinces and even in the salons of Glamour. “Liz-melder-iti” jokes are told by folk who know only that they are ignorant barbarians living in mountains (and constantly tricked and manipulated by cigar-smoking ducks).The really funny thing – the Lismelder have no idea this is going on.

Note to all: this thread is not an invitation to mock other real world lands or locations. You can do that elsewhere. The point is merely that the Lismelder and their duck friends are the butt of plenty of jokes in Glorantha. And deservedly so.

The Size of the Red Moon

Lunar celestialogists claim that the top of the Sky Dome is approximately 6000 km above Magasta’s Pool and that the Red Moon is therefore about 3000 km above the Crater (“halfway between Earth and Sky”). The Crater is about 40 km in diameter and thus the Red Moon must be about 40 km in diameter according to these Irrippi Ontor cultists.Interestingly, our own terrestrial moon is about 3500 km in diameter (a little less than 100 times wider than the Red Moon) but is about 384,000 km away from Earth (or more than 100 times further away than the Red Moon), and thus the Red Moon usually looks about the same apparent size as our moon (however, it looks smaller from Pamaltela).BUT – within the Glowline, the Red Moon appears larger and closer to the Earth. And the closer you get to the Crater, the larger and nearer the Red Moon appears. It is said that from atop the Crater rim, the Red Moon appears near enough to leap to – and indeed, Sheng Seleris and his picked companions did just that.Once on the Red Moon, the Moon becomes the person’s point of reference – the surface of the Moon is down and away from the Moon becomes up. It doesn’t matter where you go on the Moon the effect is the same – even on the Below Pole! Lunars who have traveled to the Moon suggest that one can travel from the Above Pole to the Below Pole in two or three days (assuming you have permission to do so), suggesting that the circumference of the Red Moon is somewhere around 125 km.By all accounts, the Red Moon is a strange, surreal place, with forests, seas, mountains, and plains, all in varying shades of red. It has cities and palaces, the homes of Lunar gods, spirits, and heroes, as well as blessed visitors from the Lunar Empire.

The map is by the amazing Eric Vanel and can be found in the Guide to Glorantha!

These weird effects of space and dimension as one gets closer to the Red Moon have caused many pilgrims to go mad through spontaneous Illumination.

The mind-blasting “turning” of the Red Moon’s proximity as one approaches the Crater is the subject of much Lunar poetry and song.

I imagine the reality-defying impossibilities of the Red Moon as one approaches the Crater Rim makes R’lyeh look very tame. To reference the other game: 1D10/D100 SAN loss!

The impact of the proximity of the Red Moon to the nerve center of the Lunar Empire cannot be underestimated. Some people sometimes get inspiration for the Lunars by watching the Life of Bryan; me – I think a better source of inspiration might be Lorenzo St. Dubois from the Producers.

In fact, there are a LOT of Lunar insights in “Love Power.” Just let the insight wash over you and send your spirit to the Red Moon:Love power. I’m talking about love power.The power of a sweet flower is gonna rule the earth. And there’ll be a great rebirth.

She danced atop the earth and rose into the sky and a vast sphere of earth rose with her. As described in this piece by Jakob Rebulka:

I imagine on the Red Moon things fall “down” just like they do on the Surface World. Except “down” is always in the direction of the center of the Moon! How crazy is that!

Notes on Genertelan Grains

Barley: This cereal grain is a highly resilient crop, able to be grown in varied and marginal environments. It has a short growing season and is relatively drought tolerant.

Black Rice: This glutinous rice has a deep black color.

Brown Rice: This cereal grain is actually unrelated to Kralorelan rice. It grows in shallow waters and the slow-moving streams of Peloria and is cultivated in paddy fields.

Einkorn Wheat: This cereal grain is relatively short, usually less than 70 centimeters tall. It can survive on poor, dry, marginal soils where other varieties of wheat will not.

Emmer Wheat: This awned cereal grain gives good yields on poor soils.

Maize: This cereal can grow 3 meters or more in height, and grows ears with red, blackish, blueish-grey, or yellow kernels. Maize that is well-watered and offered blood human sacrifice through the Hon-eel rites produces on average 20% more crop per hectare than other cereals. Maize is drought sensitive, and without water or blood offerings, it produces much less crop per hectare than more drought resistant grains.

Millet: This annual grass is grown as a cereal grain. It can reach a height of 120 to 200 cm. It is well adapted to drought, low soil fertility, and high temperature.

Oat: This cereal grain is eaten chiefly as porridge. Oats are cold-tolerant and are unaffected by late frosts or snow.

Rice: This long-grained cereal grain is typically grown in paddies where it is submerged in shallow water.

Rye: This cereal grain grows better than any other cereal on heavy clay and light sandy and infertile or drought-affected soils. However, it grows best on fertile, well-drained loam or clay-loam soils. Rye will survive with snow cover that would otherwise kill winter wheat.

Spelt Wheat: This husked wheat is adaptable to cold climates and is easy to store.

Wow there is a lot of good stuff in the Boldhome booklet going into the Sartar Boxed Set.

A BRITHINI STORY

In the Gods Age all was perfect. and nothing in the world ever died. All beings were gods. Law . oversaw all. Prosperity reigned in the Kingdom of Logic.Logic demands that all beginnings have an end. What was started must be finished. From the moment of the first mathematical evolution of 1 into 2 the end was destined to come. The division of one into 2 made the Creator and Destroyer. A choice was given, and we chose the 1.If alI the world has chosen 1 we would exist in harmony still.2 is the Destroyer, who can make 3 out of 2. 4 out of 3, and five out of 4. Now is 1647, and we hope that tomorrow is 1646. The Destroyer seduced half of 1, and brought it to imperfection.The Destroyer inhabited half of 1, and brought it to death.Malkion took our race in his hand, for we alone were loyal to the 1. When Malkion was born again he taught his secrets to us, and we are the Chosen People. When all else devolved into more, we maintained our contact with the 1. We are the chosen of the Invisible God. We are good, all else is defiled.2 is the Destroyer. All that is touched by his power is dead or dying, and will eventually die and be gone. That will leave the 1 again.Just as Malkion incarnated the Law of the Universe, so did the Devil, ancient Evil, become the incarate Destroyer. The Devil works hard to bring corruption to all, and has seduced most of the world away from the 1. All the barbarians and heretics are under the sway of the Devil. Only Malkion kept us close to the Law.Here is how: When Zzabur asked his father “How do we stay immortal?” the Prophet answered simply. He said. “Do not change. Do what you have done. Act within the Laws and Ways you have been given, for they are immortal. Your actions embody the 1, your bodies enact the 1. Anything new from this moment forward is Death.”Thus were were never severred from Life, like the rest; from Magic, like the rest; from Divinity, like the rest; from Good, like the rest; from ourselves. like the rest. We are not living people, or divine people, or good people, or our own people — we are. All else is a pale shadow of us.When we die, the world dies. We are the last holders of the 1. When were are gone, all else wilI go too. When we are gone, everything left is corruption and death.

One of the most remarkable magical events in Glorantha occured a little over a century ago – the Syndics Ban. Here’s the Lunar account:Fronela was visited by disaster in 5/37 when the God of Silver Feet was assassinated by a conclave of seven powerful priests. This blasphemous act brought the Syndic’s Ban crashing down on the god’s entire sphere of influence: Fronela. All of Fronela was laid under a ban of communication. Movement was restricted to their own territory. The precise definition of this territory varied from place to place and culture to culture. But few people ruled lands which were more than week’s ride across. Neighbors became memories, and all of Fronela was forced into a solitude of peace, cut off from even their allies.Outsiderswho attempted to enter Fronela from any direction where either diverted or killed. The only successful penetration of the barrier was by the Moon Boats, which charted a perilous journey across the hidden lands.

I asked my son to do a little research into how bronze armor is made and Finn did a great job digging through YouTube videos, DK for Kids, and elsewhere. This YouTube video was, in his opinion, the best explanation for how your Sartarite character might get that nice Bronze Cuirass made. And it is pretty remarkable to watch. A lot more hammering than I expected!

Here is his runner up – a surprisingly informative article from DK Find Out:

https://www.dkfindout.com/…/bronze…/how-was-bronze-made/

There are a bit more than 8 million Malkioni in Glorantha, most being in Seshnela or western Fronela. Malkionism is, if anything, even trickier than the Lunar Way to define. All Malkioni are human and believe the cosmos exists to be understood and exploited by humankind. They worship the Invisible God and divide themselves into classes so each mortal can contribute to society. Beyond that though, the religion is divided into numerous factions or sects, each declaring the rest to be heresies from the true way. A unified Malkionism has not existed since the time of Malkion himself.That being said, this is a fairly mainstream Malkioni perspective:

WHO ARE THE OTHER GODS?The gods are great and powerful entities who manifest one or more of the Runes. They are dangerous, for they wish mankind to serve them instead of being forced to serve men like us. Each god is limited in knowledge, and therefore, has weak, vulnerable places. Priests and priestesses are the leading slaves of the various gods. Worshipers are the pawns of the gods and the lackeys of the priesthood.During the period of time now referred to as the Great Darkness, people were lost and frightened. In an effort to understand their world they imagined gods in their own image. By personifying their social desires, the forces of nature, or their emotional needs, they withstood the turmoil of the Darkness.These gods are always carefully represented as benevolent forces, but each possesses a dark side which is revealed only when it is too late. The catastrophe of Gbaji’s creation is the penultimate example of this god-making folly.We are free of the self-imposed limitations induced by the personification of natural forces. We try to understand nature as it is. All other gods are, at best, lesser beings subject to the laws of nature and to worship any of them is folly and ignorance.

Although the Malkioni do not subjugate themselves to the gods, there are numerous mortals whose deeds revealed certain truths about the Invisible God, allowing them to intercede in the world to ensure the well-being of those who venerate them. Of these, Arkat, Hrestol, and Malkion are the most important. We Malkioni belong to many different castes and sects, but all of us recognize the divinity of these heroes, no matter what sect they belonged to. It is notable that the Brithini, who profess no contact with the Invisible God, have produced no such heroes.

For those wanting a “scientific explanation” for Glorantha, go to the West. For example, I asked a zzaburi where the world came from, and this is what he said:The Invisible God, the primordial being of pure immaterial energy, created the world through Thought and set its immutable Laws – the Runes. The world is the result of interactions between Rune powers. The original Runes devolved, multiplied, and combined with other Runes, creating the natural world whose mixed matter and energy follow the impersonal Laws of the Invisible God. Many forces of nature exist, working in extremely complex patterns. These energies have always existed and always will exist, as we can demonstrate through methodical experimentation.

I later asked the zzaburi what happens after we die. Here is what he told me:

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER WE DIE?

After we die, we separate back into matter and energy. However, only the weak-willed among us face oblivion. Those enlightened ones, who learn to understand and master their place in the world, will be able to maintain their individual identity indefinitely.

The Blessing and Banishment funeral prayer of the cult is basically the same everywhere. The ceremony separates the dead from the world of the living and prevents the spirit from bothering the living. The funeral rites vary according to the caste of the deceased; however, the Malkioni revere their dead ancestors, regardless of caste. The dead are buried in a grave or crypt; those with high enough status have mounds or tombs erected over the grave.

The Arkat Kingtroll cult worships Arkat but are not philosophically Malkioni by any stretch. They view Arkat as a troll who stole the secrets of sorcery for the trolls. They revere Arkat as the greatest troll to born born in Time. And the Waertagi are “Men”.

Glorantha is a flat world surmounted by a Sky Dome. The Sky Dome itself tilts back and forth, north and south, each year. The Sun’s height in the sky also changes throughout the year. It is highest in the sky (and brightest) in Fire Season, lowest in the sky (and dullest) in Dark Season. These effects can and have been measured. Nick Brooke‘s charts in his Gloranthan Manifesto (volume one) are really useful for understanding this. One of the weirdest effects of this is in Pamaltela, where the God Learners observed that in the north the seasons were roughly the same as in Genertela, but heading further south into Jolar, it actually got warmer in Dark Season the further south you got. They theorized that due to the tilt of the Sky Dome in Dark Season, the celestial heat spilled out onto the Sea of Fire beyond the Nargan Desert, warming the south.The movement of the stars and planets are carefully observed by many Gloranthan cultures. Interestingly, the Sunpath planets do not have retrograde movement, apparent or real, as they move along the Sunpath. However, the Southpath planets do move erratically. Shargash is perhaps the worst, speeding up and slowing down depending on the length of its path, although regardless of path taken, it always takes two weeks to go across the Sky Dome. (See the Guide to Glorantha for more details).This stuff is all observable and measureable. Although there is a distance beyond which things cannot be seen (varying on the size of the object) with powerful enough magic this can be overcome. For example, atop the Footstool of Yelm in Raibanth it is said that the Emperor can see anything in the Middle World. And there are tales that during the Broken Council, watchers sat atop the Tower in Dorastor and watched for the movements of their enemies in Dragon Pass and even Seshnela.

the picture I attached is by Eric and is from the Guide.

So even though at a superficial level, things are similar to how we imagine things in our world, at a more detailed level, our models don’t always hold up. Humans can sometimes breed with plants. A dead body can be sung back together and her spirit returned. A giant round Red Moon can just hover in the Middle Air and slowly spin from black to red and back to black again.

A few other interesting observations – there have been people have gone up to the highest mountains, or flown even above them, or even to the Red Moon and seen the shape of the world. It is always described as flat by eye witnesses- no curve there!

The God Learners determined that the surface of the Earth is square, approximately 8000 kilometers on each side. It is divided into two continents, and countless islands. Here people live, learn, and die, and either earn their transfer to further realms or re-enter the cycles of Nature. Upon the borders lie magical lands, and beyond those lie the void, terrors, and the evil of Chaos.

  • 1. Yelm has been witnessed coming through the gates of dawn and setting through the gates of dusk. There have been heroes of the East Isles who have sailed all the way to Vithelash to witness the rise of the Sun through the gates, although it meant they could never leave that blessed land. There have been heroes that have traveled across the Western Ocean to follow Yelm’s fiery blood through the gates of dusk.Furthermore, I have an interviewed one of the Luathalens, one of the great purple people who sundered Seshnela, who witnessed Yelm himself passing through that gate.
  • 2. North south orientation of these maps is a convenience to us. And it is a publishing convention.
  • 3. No. In fact, Glorantha does not have a magnetic field at all. It might have telluric energies, but you’d have to talk to the Mostali about that.
  • 4. Polaris is a bright star and full described in the Guide.

The God Learners determined that Magasta’s Pool was the center of the world and the former location of the Spike. Therefore, maps should be centered on the Pool if possible. But being from the West, they often placed West on top. Unless they were Lhankor Mhy, because then they typically placed North on top, as Ernaldela was the blessed land to the north of the Spike and to do so would favour the Earth Goddess.The Kralorelan maps generally ignore everything west of the Twin Dragon Mountains, and look a lot like the famous map from the New Yorker.

A few notes on the Red Emperor from the Cults Book. The Red Emperor is the supreme high priest for the Lunar religion and for the Yelm cult. Within the Lunar Empire, all Lunar cults report to the Red Emperor and the leading priests of all Lunar cults are appointed (or at least confirmed) by the Red Emperor. Many Lunar cults require an oath of obedience to the Red Emperor as part of their initiation rituals.It is very easy to become a lay member of his cult, and most cults in the Lunar Empire will include it without notice to their worshipers. The overwhelming majority of the Red Emperor’s worshipers are members of associated cults, such as the Seven Mothers, the Red Goddess, or Yelm. The Red Emperor is worshiped as part of every Lunar worship ceremony (just as the Red Goddess is). However, there are far fewer initiates into his mysteries. To become an initiate of the Red Emperor cult, one must already be an initiate of the Red Goddess. Initiates serve as priests for the Imperial Cult. Whenever the emperor is killed, the priests in Glamour begin the rituals that will allow them to aid the Red Emperor in regaining himself and the parts of his soul that may have been damaged by his death. They also guard the sacred portals that allow the Red Emperor to travel from the Red Moon to the earth intact. The Red Emperor does not provide any Rune magic, but initiates may learn any Rune spells offered by associated cults.The Red Emperor is also the supreme leader of the Yelm Imperator cult in the Lunar Empire. He performs the Yelmic rites necessary for cosmic survival. Among the non-Lunar population of the Lunar Empire, the Red Emperor is still entitled to deference and obedience as the avatar of Yelm.

The Egi are those chosen by the Goddess to contribute to the Red Emperor whenever he changes his Mask. It is widely presumed that the Egi are all initiates of the Red Emperor cult. The names, precise number, and types of the Egi are a closely guarded cult secret, as is how they contribute to the Red Emperor. It is known that many Egi reside on the Moon and some have palaces in the Lunar realm.

In short, the succession process for the Red Emperor is cloaked in mystery. According to the official histories, it is as simple as discarding a mask and putting a new mask on.But there are whispers of Dart Wars, thaumaturgical battles, and even skirmishes on the Red Moon itself.

Is the Red Emperor also the supreme high priest for Yelm worshipers in Sun County? No. Nor is he the supreme high priest for Yelm worshipers in Pent.

But as an aside, there are Lunar theories that the Red Emperor’s Yelm connection is what allowed him to hide from Sheng Seleris, as the Celestial Emperor could not see his own shadow.

So how much are those oaths to the Red Emperor worth, given that all those priests are illuminated? Comparatively few initiates of most Lunar cults are Illuminated. The rank and file of Seven Mothers worshipers rarely achieve Illumination for example.

Was thinking more these guys: “the leading priests of all Lunar cults are appointed (or at least confirmed) by the Red Emperor.” those are dangerous folk, but they are hand picked by the Red Emperor. Hope he knows what he is doing. But not all social authority is granted by some kind of Command Spell. I expect that important priesthoods have lots of strings attached that the recipient needs to voluntarily accept in order to get the appointment. The recipient may be Illuminated and immune to spirits of retribution, but they might still be subject to a pact that they make, or have demons attached to them, or have to put their hand in the mouth of a crocodile, or whatever.

One of the best examples was Parg Ilisi. As per the Sourcebook:

At the Poralistor River she was met and engaged by Aronius Jaranthir, a Lunar nobleman commanding a company of heavy cavalry. Aronius was nearly killed and his cavalry thrown to the earth by her magic, and the priestess Erian lost a foot and half of her powers in the struggle. Parg Ilisi, a general noted for his skill in dealing with barbarian tactics, was dispatched with picked troops to teach the people of Twice Blessed a lesson. To combat the great magics of the land, several schools of magicians were also sent to accompany him.In 2/31 (1332), after a year of fierce combat, the Eldest Elder of the Council of Queens offered herself as a sacrifice for her people. She promised that her people would give up all their lands, possessions, and lives, but not their beliefs or souls. Parg Ilisi proceeded to take all that was offered and, with a cruel twist of Lunar magic, stole their souls as well. Free to act as he desired, the demented general proceeded to rape the land, people, and powers of the region.The subsequent horror is a blot on the Lunar name, and an eternal shame that continued for ten years. By 2/41 (1342), the stories of Parg Ilisi’s horrors and debauchery began to spread to the other Lunar provinces, forcing the Emperor to act lest the provinces rebel. On touring the once-beautiful land, he was staggered by the destruction and personally dispatched demons to drag Parg Ilisi to the pits of perdition. The Emperor lamented and mourned for a week, then rose and granted all survivors of Twice Blessed these things:1. Return and restoration of all bodies, souls, beliefs, and properties if possible;2. Propitiatory sacrifice every eleven years, offered to the survivors or their descendants until the recipients should decide to release the Empire from this task; and3. Imperial protection of lives, properties, and beliefs for as long as the Emperor shall live; and freedom from taxes.

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