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.
So what are Lunars?
At the most basic, they are initiates into a Lunar cult or its associates – including obvious things as the Red Goddess, the Seven Mothers, Hon-eel, Yara Aranis, and the Crimson Bat, but also in the Lunar Empire such cults as Yelm, Annilla, and Gorgorma (but those are generally not Lunar cults outside of the Lunar Empire). It also includes non Lunar Empire cults as the Red Mask secret society in Prax. It often includes Nysalor but not always.Most Lunars can speak New Pelorian, but within the Lunar Empire, most people can speak New Pelorian. A Dara Happan can be a Lunar, as can a Pelorian peasant or a Provincial tribesman. Many people in the Lunar Empire are Lunars, but not everyone. Except that just about everyone in the Heartlands offers at least a little worship to the Red Goddess and the Red Emperor. Most Lunars live in the Lunar Heartlands, which is the center of the religion, but there are many Lunars outside of the Lunar Empire. Some even oppose the Lunar Empire. In short, Lunar is not an ethno-religious category like Orlanthi or Malkioni – anyone can be a Lunar.
It is worth also thinking of the implications that the Red Emperor is the head of the Yelm cult BUT has also come from Pelorian peasant stock on more than one occasion. And Hon-eel was from a Pelorian peasant village in Doblian where she grew up without a father. But Jar-eel is from the most aristocratic Dara Happan lineage imaginable. All are Lunars. And in fact all members of the same family.
Quivin Mountains & Boldhome map
Getting closer on the Sartar Book, and have some proof of concept of some of the handouts that people might enjoy seeing.
Dara Happa cities
The urban centers of the Lunar Heartland view themselves as the most perfect human society possible, living in accordance to divine laws and capable of great spiritual development. Governance is placed in the hands of the best – the members of the Yelm cult, who must rule with virtue and justice, avoid spiritual pollution, and act within the constraints of the proscriptive roles one is born into. Dara Happa (the collective name of the people of these cities) carefully proscribe male and female roles. Their society is strongly patriarchal – men are expected to marry women and sire children. Women are expected to be dutiful wives to their husbands and nurturing mothers to their children. The Earth is blessed and brought to life by the glorious Sun. Men are expected to protect, cherish, and love their wives, and acts to the contrary are viewed as extreme spiritual pollution.Self-control is highly valued by Dara Happans. Men and women are expected to confine sex to within the marriage bonds, or in Ulerian rituals. Chastity is considered a precondition for many paths to higher spiritual development. Dayzatar represents the highest possible spiritual opportunities (outside of Lunar Illumination) but at the price of total non-interference in mundane society.Clothing reflects this. Nudity is viewed as shameful by the Dara Happans. One never removes their Loincloth of Morality except in certain ritual precincts (such as the marriage bed or within a Uleria temple). Good people wear shoes or sandals at all time – one does not place one’s foot on the dirt!The Lunar Way offers alternatives, and within the Lunar cults, women enjoy equal rights to men. As the Yelmic leadership IS Lunar, this means that effectively the Lunar Way has greatly moderated traditional Dara Happan patriarchy. The traditional cults such as Yelm, Dendara, Polaris, etc, which have thoroughly accepted the Red Goddess as part of the celestial heirarchy and acknowledge her place within that pantheon. Dara Happa is less multicultural than Dragon Pass or the Holy Country. Almost everyone is at least a lay member of a Lunar cult. Almost everyone speaks New Pelorian as their primary language. Most foreigners people encounter are merchants or slaves, or the occasional folk from the Provinces or the West Reaches.
Peasants in the Lunar Heartlands
Although the Lunar Empire bears less resemblance to the society presented in GRoY than folk often assume, one thing that has been present in Peloria since Time began is the split between the urbane Dara Happan culture and the rural peasantry. Any discussion of Peloria needs to recognize the distinction between the urbane city folk along the Oslir River (or in Glamour) and the mass of peasants who have always grown rice and barley (and for the last several centuries maize as well).There are about 5.4 million people in the Lunar Heartlands and about 80% of them are rural peasants. Although many peasants have embraced the Lunar Way (in particular the Seven Mothers), they still retain much of their traditional peasant culture. They are “semi-free” at best, bound to their professions and working land that belongs to others (usually temples or the Yelmic/Lunar nobility). Many are “property” of these groups. They live in villages overseen by officials appointed by their rulers. Villages are highly collective; there are strong pressures to conform and little room to deviate from custom (except through the Lunar Way).Think Egyptian fellah, Russian serfs, or Japanese heimin.Pelorian peasant culture is notoriously sensual, carnal, and sometimes cruel. Open debauchery and drunkenness is quite common, especially when compared with the Dara Happan norms. The Lodril cult is famed for the great drunken mobs that swarm the streets on his holy days. Worship always includes intoxicating drinks, and often involves sacrifice to a giant phallus (the symbol of the god). Oria the Grain Goddess is the other main traditional cult. She is viewed as licentious by the Dara Happan rulers – although she is Lodril’s consort, she has as many lovers as he. Almost every peasant is a lay member of Oria, but comparatively few (maybe 1 in four women) are initiates.Lodril and Oria are traditional and provide comparatively little opportunities for spiritual development or other opportunities. The Seven Mothers have stepped into that role. Virtually everyone is a lay member of the Seven Mothers in the Lunar Heartlands, and perhaps a quarter or more of the peasantry is initiated into the Lunar Way. Seven Mothers initiates have greater legal rights and recourses than others, moderating the harsh edges of peasant life and providing spiritual outlets.
Something also worth keeping in mind – until relatively recently, the peasants actually spoke a different language from their rulers! Now they can both speak in New Pelorian, but in the past, few Dara Happans could speak with a rural peasant beyond a few basic commands.
- Is the Yelmalio cult a thing in late Third Age Peloria? Or is he exclusively a frontier god?
- Within the Heartlands, Yelmalio is usually just a subcult of Yelm. But in the Lunar Provinces (which are culturally different), Yelmalio is an important frontier god.
- Is Oria just the local grain goddess in Peloria? Or is she equivalent to someone else like Ernalda or Esrola?
- The Grain Goddess. Same as Esrola.
Going back to our Glorantha-terrestial convergence time line, it is worth thinking that about 1775 AD Sheng Seleris and his Pentan nomads invaded Peloria. For nearly a century, Pentans dominated the Pelorian bowl, until Sheng Seleris was finally overcome by the Red Emperor in the equivalent of 1860 AD.During that long period, much of the Pelorian bowl was depopulated, and the Pentans were unbelievably brutal and cruel to the local populations. Ancient centers of civilization and cults were destroyed. The Pentans systematically depopulated vast regions particularly in Oraya, Rinliddi, and Karasal, and the area call Dara Happa on Horse was ruled by Yelm cultists who adopted the nomad lifestyle, at least in part. Places like Doblian were ruled by their own tyrants.Over the Fifth Wane (so basically from 1863 AD to 1917 AD) the Lunar Empire resettled and rebuilt. Oraya was settled and a more broadly “Lunar” identity appeared in the Heartlands. Many ancient lands were depopulated, and resettled, and in this way the Heartlands became more culturally united. New Pelorian became THE language in the Lunar Heartlands, and Dara Happan AKA FIrespeech, became a liturgical language. The Pentans were defeated once and for all in 1906 AD at the Battle of the Nights of Horrors. For more than a century (since 1906 AD) there has been no war in the Lunar Heartlands. This is when the Lunar Empire we all know really came into view – only about a century ago. Although antiquarians still study the Glorious Reascent of Yelm and imagine the world through its lens, and texts like the Fortunate Succession show the old Yelmic nobility (who are now completely Lunar) that the Lunar Empire is the modern and best version of the eternal Empire, in truth, those books describe something that has long been replaced.
So if HonEel leads the cultural reconstruction of the Empire after Sheng is that a ‘renaissance’ period in the Empire?And if so, is the era depicted in GRoY is to the Empire as ‘classical’ civilisation was to the Renaissance Italians? Looked upon as a great period but perhaps misunderstood through a current lens?
Hon-eel, by all accounts, had no interest in GRoY. She was of Pelorian peasant background, and grew up fatherless in a Pelorian village in Doblian. I doubt she looked back at the past at all. She was building a new world.
As promised, a little on murder ballads. The Sartarites (and lets be fair, the Tarshites as well) love their murder ballads, where they describe the events of a murder or feud, often lingering on the cruel aftermath. Many are told from the perspective of the killer, although the subgenre of Assassination Ballads are told from the perspective of the victim (most commonly one of the children of Prince Terasarin, although there are a few about the poisoning of Prince Jarosar). In general, the protagonists of these ballads are not good people (and often pretty awful), but they are often presented in a sympathetic light.But the ballads around Harrek the Berserk emphasize the White Bear as a murderous force of nature. There is sometimes some explanation for his rampages, but they always seem out of proportion to his crimes. And yet… and yet, Harrek almost always comes out looking like a Bad M*th** F****r.
More Sartar art!
This amazing piece of art by Ossi Hiekkalai for the forthcoming Sartar boxed set, shows a young Helering “backboy” helping a Vingan thane get her armor on. I love how it gives an idea just how much a pain it must be to get armor on and off. And any heavily armored character of mine in the future is definitely going to have someone to help get that armor on and off!
Gerra-Danfive Xaron path
One of the components of the Lunar Way that gets glossed over a lot by later commentators is the Gerra-Danfive Xaron path of liberation through suffering and submission. It is uncomfortable and painful, even for most Lunars, to really think about, but it is a core part of the Red Goddess’ mysteries. Gerra suffered terribly, the Red Goddess suffered terribly, and Danfive Xaron shows us the path of liberation through suffering. His way is unspeakable harsh and even cruel, but it does lead one – even the unforgivable – to the mercy of the Red Goddess.Once again, music comes to our aid, in this case Lou Reed’s “Blue Mask”. I could imagine this song being chanted out by the initiates of Danfive Xaron while wearing the titular blue (or is it red) mask of the song and the god. Or perhaps this is sung by the Gerra cultists as they mutilate themselves in their inverted pyramid.
And Blue Mask provides some illuminating insights into the Lunar Way and its ability to take people who have bottomed-out, who are unforgivable, who cannot repent – and give them a path towards liberation and love. Powerful stuff and worth thinking about.
Inkarne, the Feathered Horse Queen
A preview of some really amazing art for the Sartar Boxed Set. This is from Anna Orlova and is part of a character turn of Inkarne, the Feathered Horse Queen. Wow! So damn amazing! Anna’s attention to detail and character is just mind-blowing!The Feathered Horse Queen plays a very significant role in Sartarite identity. All of the princes except Salinarg is descended from her (which is interesting, isn’t it), and the Orlanthi model for the priest-ruler of the kingdom requires that to be king, the Prince must court the Feathered Horse Queen and perform whatever challenges she demands. These challenges give the Feathered Horse Queen tremendous leverage and authority; her cultic role as the incarnation of the Earth Goddess gives her respect and magical power. And it doesn’t hurt that she has her own troop of fanatical Humakti bodyguards, a small army of the best cavalry in all of Dragon Pass, and a close working relationship with the Shaker Priestess.
Prince Jarosar coin
This is a coin depicting Prince Jarosar, circa 1568. Note the ram’s horns and the Movement Rune.
A rare golden coin from the reign of Sartar. Note the fully armed Orlanth Adventurous, showing off the range of his abilities.
Here’s a popular Orlanthi tale of the rise of the Red Goddess. This is similar to the story presented in King of Sartar.
Orlanth and the Red Goddess
Orlanth is the god who began the Great Compromise, and he has always been the one who has led in its adherence. He has never budged from perfect participation, unlike the followers of Yelm who had allowed the intrusion of Gbaji, spawn of the Devil, into Glorantha.Ever since that first crucial weakness, when Gbaji and his spawn were freed, there have been many conflicts with evil. And in each of those Orlanth has been foremost to combat Chaos and destroy it forever. Thus, whenever the cosmos is threatened, the winds are raised, and Orlanth is there first to see.The birth of a new god or demon is always an attraction, and so Orlanth was there to see when Gbaji was born, and the Machine God was made, and when the Red Goddess cheated her way to acceptance.The Red Goddess had begun as almost nothing: a petty spirit, one among many which sought power in the world. She was aided by sorcerers and a priest of Gbaji, and the spirit possessed an innocent girl to gain life. She was called Shepelkirt, or Poison Blood, when the Orlanthi priests saw her in their dreams.The Red Goddess gained followers, and a country. Her primary foes were not Orlanth and the Lightbringers, but she courted those who were enemies of Orlanth, and who had already allowed Gbaji into the world. One time her foes pursued her, and she went out of the normal world to where the gods live. She was lost in those realms of the gods for many years. At that time Gbaji seduced her, and gave her great and terrible magics for her loyalty. She brought them back to the world, and because they were new they brought great victories. Thus the Crimson Bat, the stone soldiers, and the Scarlet Wave brought quick victories for her. Now everyone knows they are monsters from the realm of the Red Moon. With them she has spread her power. So over the years she gained allies through conquest, alliance, and seduction until she established her Lunar Empire.But all that time, she was never a threat to the cosmos. She was not a deity. Thus no deity alive could act against her, even though she used chaotic powers, and had embraced the ways of Gbaji. Orlanth howled with rage over this evil.One day the Red Goddess angered Vyran, the queen of Castle Blue. The two women argued, and Vyran sent three of her swift foot servants to avenge her lover’s wounds. All three were slain, and crippled so they could never walk again. Then two women in red and a man in crimson were captured attempting to bring slime worms into the castle, and they were executed. So then the Scarlet Warlord came, with his companions, to wreak vengeance and impress the Red Moon Empress by his act of heroism. Alakoring Dragonbreaker, the famous warrior, was supping at the Blue Castle that day, and said, “If I could fight that man myself, I’d be so eager that my sword would raise itself from my sheath.” The weapon then lifted silently from its sheath, and everyone knew that the Great Compromise had somehow been broken. Alakoring slew the first of these Scarlet Warlords, and the Battle of Castle Blue was begun.The Battle of Castle Blue was fought to decide whether the Red Moon Empress was a deity. If she was not able to withstand the rigorous examination by the assembled deities of the Great Compromise, then she could be revealed as a monster and destroyed by them in concert. Orlanth led that cause, to test her.First Orlanth went to her with contests, and she was a great competitor. When they tried the Contest of Music, she astonished everyone by defeating Orlanth with the Harp, using exactly the same instrument which Yelm had used and been defeated with! When it was a dance, her Dance of the Cycles was defeated by Orlanth, but then came right back before he had finished his victory cries. So then Orlanth made the War Challenge.Orlanth made the usual preparations, and he summoned his council and family to war. They brought their brave followers, who sought adventure upon the reaches of the mythic worlds, and they circled around the whole battlefield three times, looking at it and preparing, drawing closer. They saw the army of the Red Moon Empress attacking Castle Blue, whose valiant defenders were in danger of falling before the furious assault. They landed, from the north.Orlanth and his people took the position in the center, of leadership and honor and prestige. To the left, the weak side, were the briny and sweet cousins of Queen Vyran, risen from the deep to sweep the world clear of Chaos. To the right, the dangerous side, was the army of the others, commanded by Humakt.She won because she cheated. She won because she did not obey the normal laws of war and of creation. Things which simply could not be, were! This was where she had one son, in many bodies! Where she had a body part, as a living being! Where she had her shadow self, better than her! Where her crookedness became her, and her veracity betrayed her, and so she escaped from all the things which held a normal deity down. She was not unscathed! We know that one of her mothers is not known, even to the initiates of that goddess! And it was Orlanth who drove that monster out of existence!But she won, and the waves, which had risen like cliff walls higher than a bowshot around the Oronin lake, fell. The castle flickered a few moments, and the Red Goddess and her entourage departed in great pomp and ceremony. And there, deep in the body of Orlanth, was the wound which she had made, and which was her own entry into the world of Order. Now, the Red Goddess is immortal, and it is only the last secret of Orlanth which keeps the world from Chaos once again.
And one more. This will be appearing in the Cults Book and is filled with careful information about the monomyth:
Between the years 650 S.T. and 1050 S.T. the God Learners explored the world seeking deep secrets previously hidden from view. One of the things that the God Learners did was to create a monomyth for Glorantha. They discovered parallels between stories and deities of many cultures. Using arcane sorcery, the scholars proved that parallel deities were in fact the same being. They compared, postulated, and composed a unified theory of world mythology which few listeners could object to in overall form. This unified theory incorporated and synthesized all the mythology into it and was known as the God Learner monomyth.The God Learner monomyth never ironed out every discrepancy in conflict with local belief. And in fact, it was probably not intended to do so. The non-sequential and simultaneous nature of God Time events makes internal contradictions and inconsistencies inevitable. However, it is a powerful tool to cling to, and to hang understanding from. The God Learners were condemned by their contemporaries for heinous crimes far more serious than mutilating everyone’s favorite stories to fit an understandable narrative structure. Their practice and beliefs have fallen into great disrepute outside of the scholarly communities of Lhankor Mhy and his fellows. Such ill will has inevitably colored acceptance of the monomyth in the world today.To those Gloranthans who do know of the monomyth it is a convenient philosophical overview, an attempt to translate peculiarities into universalities, to overcome the limitations and boundaries of language and parochial existence, or another deception by Gbaji to lead the world to ruin. But it cannot be forgotten that most of the inhabitants of Glorantha do not care about the mythic structure beyond their own belief structure.
There’s a lot here to unpack. Worth a very careful read!
HISTORY OF HEROQUESTING
Heroquesting begins with Time, and the division of the Mundane World from the Gods World. In the God Time, there was no division between the worlds of men and gods, between Life and Death, or body and spirit. The events and deeds of the God Time made the cosmos and established its patterns. The Gods War introduced the power of Death, which separated all with violence, death, and entropy. Reality was fractured. The eternal gods would have ceased to exist but for the Cosmic Compromise, whereby the gods voluntarily abdicated their free will within the temporal world rather than lose all into the maws of nonexistence. The gods remained eternal at the cost of being limited to their God Time patterns. Heroquesting is the means by which mortals can interact with the events of the God Time.During the First Age, such men and women could fulfill their potential only with the established cults. A considerable amount of cult secret activity is devoted towards defining their god’s place in the mythic geography and exploring nearby events and neighbors. Associated cults often share events and unimportant secrets, with each other, but in general every religion kept its experiences on the Hero Plane to themselves. Only a few Brithini claimed to know everything, and to record it in Zzabur’s Blue Book, whose original is long lost beneath the Neliomi Sea. The few real fragments of this book found have proved alarmingly accurate. Most people are glad the rest is lost. Arkat Chaosbane was the first individual to discover heroquesting outside of a specific cult myth. He underwent several secret initiations (and excommunications) which gave him an unusual transcultural view of the secret world of myth. His personal experiences gave him clues which he followed, exploited, and taught to others. He finally established a cult which preserved the secrets of heroquesting. Arkat’s heir, the Dark Empire, was a widespread, loosely organized body of city states, families, priesthoods, and special interest groups. Upon his apotheosis in (c. 500) the benefits and problems were divided among loyal lieutenants of the great, solitary hero. The activities of the Dark Empire qualified its adherents as a Malkioni heretics. A holy war destroyed the cult of Arkat, driving its followers underground. Though the Arkat people attempted to destroy all their records in the Great Fire of Clarity (c. 715), much of their knowledge and Heroquesting techniques passed into the hands of the God Learners. The God Learners systematically explored the spirit plane, at the same time exploiting it without regard to its consciousness or purpose. In the centuries of their rule, they made substantial changes, even to the dreams of nations. At the time of their demise a poet wrote: “Too late, too late/ to save the dreams/ all lost forever down the Great Sink.” During most of the Third Age heroquesting was considered evil, because the God Learners were so enthusiastic about it. Cults purged themselves of unusual rites, denounced certain knowledge, and destroyed records. A general religious conservatism resulted in a stunted understanding of the religious experiences offered by each deity. Only the Lunar Empire actively pursued the subject. The Pelorian mystical geography was almost virgin territory since the area was never actively part of the God Learner’s mythic synthesis. The Red Goddess, an immortal orphan resurrected by ambitious mystics, opened her own way into the spirit world. The Lunar pantheon is largely made up of mortals who obtained divine status and replaced the Old Gods. The Lunar philosophy urges each person to seek their own heroquest, and the highlights of their history are lit by individuals who combined material and spiritual success. The processes of the Lunar Way seemed to contradict the Great Compromise, and in response the ancient gods of nature and time inspired many of their number to rebel against their hidebound cult authorities, and heroquest thoroughly, arming themselves to challenge the Red Goddess. The resultant battle of Castle Blue in 1246 resulted in the acceptance of the Red Goddess into the world as a deity. It was like an amendment to the Great Compromise. From then on, the forces of the Red Goddess expanded, always grating upon the anti-chaos sensitivities of the rest of the gods. Although the gods had been beaten into resignation, many humans did not accept the Red Goddess as natural. They felt cheated by the outcome and consciously sought to arm themselves as fully as possible for another fight rather than being summoned, almost unprepared, as they were before. They have been preparing Heroes. Now, in the last years of the Third Age, the social and religious fabric of society is dissolving. Bold individuals are carving niches for themselves, some in this world and some in the spirit world, and some in both. They are learning to be Heroes. Cosmic tensions have recently been exacerbated by the actions of the Red Goddess: she has gotten so close to destroying Orlanth that the very fabric of the universe is threatened. Prophets have predicted everywhere that a great spiritual battle is soon to take place, and that it will be preceded by many skirmishes. This time everyone is ready: the Hero Wars have begun.
A little more on the God Learners and Heroquesting:
A heroquest is a direct interaction with the divine realm of myth and archetypes. In a heroquest, you interact and experience the divine realm and bring back magic, be it Rune spells, guardian spirits, good harvest, a terrible curse, something long forgotten and hidden, etc.
As we interact with the kaleidoscopic divine realm, we of course change its arrangement. Like walking into a room of swirling smoke, our presence causes the mist to swirl around us, changing its direction and patterns. Most of the time we have little control of the changes – we enter the room, the smoke swirls because of our mere presence.
Like rationalists are even inclined to, the God Learners made the leap from conceptualizing how this all works together into the hubristic belief that they could control everything and reshape reality according to their will and intellect.
That second paragraph is the key to many mysteries.
The Mythical Synthesis Movement
This little snippet is in the Glorantha Sourcebook, and is an incredibly important tidbit. Even if the God Learners are now gone and cursed, the Mythical Synthesis Movement has already done its work. In a sense, we are all God Learners now.
The God Learners evolved the Mythical Synthesis Movement, an attempt to identify and define the gods, spirits, and other powers of the world, and arrange them into a coherent and knowable unity. By doing this, the God Learners sought to reconstruct and impose their will upon the mythical realities of the God Time. In the process, they discovered that many religions contained remarkably similar myths and gods, even though the cultures had never met and were separated by oceans, mountains and languages. The Mythical Synthesis Movement proved to be very popular in the regions of direct Jrusteli influence and eventually gained recognition (if not acceptance) in most civilized parts of the world. The God Learners grouped deities into artificial pantheons arranged around the various elemental Runes. These formalized arrangements are the product of scholars, poets, and philosophers, and often fly in the face of actual religious practice and experience. They nonetheless exercised tremendous influence upon the compilation of myths in Glorantha and upon the understanding of Gloranthan deities in the Hero Wars period.
Here’s a snippet from the forthcoming Cults Book that ties into some recent posts of mine:
THE HOLY COUNTRY
About a century after the Dragonkill War, an incredible event occurred which changed Kethaela forever—the arrival of the man first called Belintar the Stranger, but later titled the God-King.Belintar came from another time and place, and he said he was from the far past. He had fallen into the Sea of Time when he failed on a wayward heroquest and swam ashore from the deadly ocean one morning in the year 1313. He was a person of great bearing and power, and he quickly proved he was no pauper washed ashore. He undertook great trials and travels, and he made important allies quickly. His identity was never learned, though all Hell knows the Only Old One tried.The Rightarm Islanders thought his arrival miraculous and aided him in every way, at least at first. Belintar was not slow to choose sides in various disputes, and it became plain to see that whatever side he supported would be successful. Since he supported the Islanders, the Caladraland people tried to kill him, using both force and magic. But they failed, and Belintar used the powers of the Steam Demons to win his fight against their leaders.Belintar revealed that he had come to depose the Only Old One and liberate the Shadowlands from Darkness. He did it through the process of mustering ancient allies on heroquests and opposing the magical forces of the Only Old One. He explored the God Time many times, and each time provided himself worthy of ruling over one of the peoples of Kethaela. Belintar called forth many of the original Silver Age heroes, plus others of more recent or different origin. The process was long and difficult, and Belintar was slain and devoured at one point. He fought against all the peoples of Kethaela at one time or another. But in the end, he succeeded and met the Only Old One himself in combat and cast him down and cut him into pieces. Then he destroyed the Castle of Black Glass, covering all the Shadow Plateau with a dense and heavy black sand which smothers life. In 1318, Belintar began a great magical rite which apotheosized him. He then took the title of God-King or Mangod, arranged the land in a new way, and began his rule of the diverse populations which line the Choralinthor Bay. He protected them from other enemies, and integrated humans, trolls, and Triolini into his realm. He made other changes to the land as well, as he raised Loon Island and made the City of Wonders in the center of the Mirrorsea.The accession of the God-King in 1318 also marks the beginning of the term Holy Country to describe Kethaela, and it soon gained a reputation for being a place of mystery and wonder The God-King began it with his proclamation of rule and the barbarians all about echoed it, for the land was kept holy by its residents and the rites arranged by the God-King. Some were unhappy, but all accepted the God-King’s authority. It prospered internally and cowed all who might think to invade with its strength. The God-King kept good contacts with all the gods of the Holy Country, and to the rest of the world this was a part of the Otherworld manifest in the mundane world. Occasionally, gods or great monsters visited the Holy Country, and there were known to be many secret gates into the Otherworld. The God-King showed little interest in expanding his realm. He used friends and allies to guard his borders, sent messengers and merchants outward, to the west, through Maniria to Ralios.
As was written by the trolls:
Belintar spoke little of his own origins, claiming that the moment was more important than the past. He proved himself to whoever demanded such proof, and then demanded something in return. He was true to his friends and deadly to his enemies.
- I seem to remember reading somewhere that Belintar was a HeroQuester from the future, not the past, although my memory could be faulty. It made sense to me because he could use his knowledge of Third Age history to his own advantage.
- Not the case. A joke suggested by Greg who later strongly stated to me “Not True”.
- Maybe at some point I’ll post the original stuff on Bronding the Swimmer (his original name before Greg came up with the far cooler Belintar).
Population of Genertela
The entire sentient population of Genertela is approximately 52 million (46 million humans, 6 million non-humans), which is comparable to the population of the Roman (45-60 million) or Han Empires (59 million) at their height. The Lunar Empire in comparison, includes about 9 million beings. The Kingdom of Seshnela is less than a third of that.
Genertela itself is about 3.5 million square miles, or about 20% bigger than the continental United States.
As an aside Genertela is significantly bigger than the Ancient World of the Middle East plus Greece and Italy.
At 10.8 million people, Fonrit has a greater population than the Lunar Empire. Although less than 3.5 million belong (literally) to the largest political entity. And collectively the East Isles are more than half the population of the Lunar Empire.
A Brithini Cosmology
This is a Brithini cosmology, recited by Horali from Brithos in the Gbaji Wars and transcribed in the late First Age. Note the importance of Wisdom (“Right Use of Knowledge”) and of Ignorance of the source of all evil.
The invisible God is all things. He is beyond knowing or feeling or being. He contains all things and will contain them all in the future. He is beyond life or entropy.Within the Invisible God is Existence, and within Existence were conceived the Laws. All things outside the Laws were excluded and cast down, and those things were of chaos and entropy. The Laws created the World through the self application of Wisdom. The experience of Being is of movement through the accumulated Wisdom of the World. By understanding this, and being one with it, we are the Brithini.The distribution of existence created a dissolution of Wisdom, and the natural application of divine introspection created Ignorance and beings which thrived upon it. The spread of Ignorance created a gap in the Wisdom, and in that gap some beings willfully used Ignorance for their own ends, creating the two weapons of Ignorance: pain and injustice. From this was born Death, which changed all things.One being went further, for although he knew of the Wisdom and walked in it willingly he used the Ignorance of others to manipulate it to hurt itself. This was the birth of Evil and Corruption, and it was made by Vadel.In the spread of Evil and Corruption many beings turned upon themselves and each other, wallowing in the absence of Law and tearing the fabric of Life. They summoned beings to help them. This was the entry of Chaos into the world.The natural conflict between Law and Chaos is inevitable, for each is forever rejecting and incapable of understanding the other. The organic contest within the created world brought forth a need for the living beings to understand the Laws to balance the forces of chaos which threatened it. Malkion the Prophet was the one who could teach others of the Law and the Wisdom. He took the myriad patterns of Existence and showed each person how to consciously find and to be his part within it. While the rest of the world ate itself alive all the beings and parts which he blessed continued in their divine perfection. In this way the seeds of truth were preserved during the terrible Ice Ages.Zzabur the Sorcerer was the greatest of the keepers of wisdom. He could see the worlds and sort out their layers, keeping all in mind and out of mind at once. He saw what was and what could be, and he manipulated the subtle Laws to bring back the Wisdom. Thanks to his spells the old world was reborn again. He understood the mechanics of the cosmos and brought back the Sun, which had fallen from the sky.
Of the Seven Basic Denials held by all Brithini, first of course is, “There is one God, the Maker of the Laws; we worship no other.” But another prohibits Unauthorized Sex, and another is: “The Talar is Law. Remember that, obey his commands, do what he says and you will not do wrong. Disobey the talars and your immortal life is in jeopardy.
The Brithini often call mortal men “Mud Men” or “Dirt People” or even “simulcra”. Most Brithini consider non-Malkioni to be artifical life forms created by deluded sorcerers who have sold their souls to evil spirits. These “simulcra” usually have the appearance of normal dromal, except for their actions, of course. Any dromal carrying any weapon, for instance, is always a simulcra.
One of many reasons why people in the First Age feared the Brithini:”The mud men are inferior creatures without soul or concepts of true nature. They threaten the existence of our immortality, and thus must be destroyed. Once destroyed they can return to material matter and immaterial energy; raw materials for the Invisible God. The parts can be recreated and, if blessed to be within the realm of the Brithini, immortal.”
However, it is important to realize that there is over a thousand years of distance between the Brithini and any living Malkioni. The Brithini are like Moorcock’s Vadhagh, not even noticing what the Mabden are up to. And the Malkioni wildly misinterpret and reinterpret what the Brithini are and believe.
If I recall, the last Birthing of the Brithini prior to 1620 was in 375. Which means that with the exception of the cadre of Brithini children, all who are less than ten years old, the next youngest Brithini are some 1250 years old. They likely have far less understanding of mortals that the Brithini of the First Age.
So imagine the world from the point of a long-lived Brithini. You know all that you should know. You have perfected your art, whether that is crafting and farming, sword fighting, spell casting, or the art of rule. You’ve done this for more than 1200 years. You know friendship, sadness, love, and doubt – you are not emotionless! But more than 60 generations of simulacra have come and gone. They build cities and kingdoms, only to tear them down in war and conflict. They gain knowledge only to lose it. Perhaps they might sometimes be amusing, but by now you have lost interest and few care even to keep track of them.
And the Brithini classify heresies far differently from the Malkioni. Examples of dangerous heresies are:Denialist (using logical techniques to deny that one has not acted in accordance with Wisdom)Deist (worshiping or communicating with gods other than the Invisible God)Sexual activist (having Unauthorized Sex)Disobeyer (disobeying a talar or justifying disobeying a talar)Meddler (doing something outside of your class, so a soldier trying to figure numbers, or a talar learning sorcery). All of these can cause death through aging.
One last thing (at least for the moment) – remember that Arkat was Brithini, born in 375 and raised among (or at least in friendship with) the aldryami of Brithos. So much so that one Brithini document refers to him as Arkat of the Elves. Arkat was best of the Sunstop Generation, trained by those who fought against the Vadeli before the Dawn, but was still considered a child by the Brithini.
A few Malkioni thoughts
In thinking about Malkionism, the Invisible God can be equated to Brahman in many schools of Hindu philosophy (especially Vedanta) – the Invisible God is the ultimate reality, the source from which the world came into existence, in whom it inheres, and to which it returns. Brahman ties in nicely with Aristotle’s unmoved mover – perfectly beautiful, indivisible, and contemplating only self-contemplation, an independent divine eternal unchanging immaterial substance.Just as Vedanta has many schools and traditions, so does Malkionism. Although all speak of an “Invisible God” as the ultimate reality, they are differ in their views and practices. Some view the lesser divine entities as emanations of the Invisible God, others view them as mere anthropomorphic embodiments of natural forces, and still others view them as self-deluded siblings of Zzabur who conflate themselves with the energies they have mastered. Perhaps the most radical of “Malkioni” is that indigenous toGod Forgot, whose god died in the God Time and did not return with the Dawn. They acknowledge the Invisible God, but do not worship the lesser entities, viewing them at best as self-deluded imposters and at worst as hostile. They do acknowledge Belintar as a lesser entity who upholds the Invisible God and offer prayers to the Invisible God on his behalf. In the Second Age, they enthusiastically embraced the Zistorite experiment of the Middle Sea Empire.All of the Invisible God schools place humans at the center of their cosmos. Mortals do not exist to serve the gods; rather they have an independent existence within Time and capable of understanding the cosmos through will and intellect. All hold that ideal human society is rationally composed of classes (usually four), although how these classes are created differes from school to school.Broadly speaking, most schools are “idealists” and assert that reality is created by the Mind of the Invisible God, which holds the cosmos together and that reason gives humans a connection to the cosmos. At its most extreme, Hrestoli idealism suggests that the world is completely subject to conceptual schemes of humans – this approach is commonly ascribed to the God Learners of the Second Age. However, the Rokari are “realists” that hold that although everything that exists is in principle humanly knowable, the Invisible God poses limits to the conceptual schemes of mortals. Correct knowledge and understanding is different (and far superior) to simple cognition and will.As an aside, the Abiding Book of the Malkioni bears a greater resemblence to the Organon than to the New Testament.
Here’s another fragment that is so old it is almost before the Dawn. Definitely in the WIsconsin era. It manages to combine Thanmor and Snodal into a single story, you get the earliest glimpse of the White Bear or at least the Big Bear, and lots more. You need to squint a lot here, like reading an Alexandrine Romance of the 12th century, but oh gosh the outline can be seen.
Story of Thanmor-Ratesk
Thanmor was a young man at the time, the hair barely grown from his face. He was born to the warrior class of the Jonati, a barbarian tribe north of Frontem.At that time, the Jonati had a particular ceremony. A youth, sometimes male, sometimes female, was brought to a certain spot in their lands, and there he was tied, unarmed and helpless. During the night there emerged a huge bear which killed and at the helpless victim. It was done because the founder of the tribe, one named Jonat, had sinned against the gods and in order to free himself from the bondage he would be in after he died, it was required that every year the tribe sacrifice one youth to him. It happened near the fall season.
But one day it chanced that the lot fell to a young maiden, and she was the betrothed of Thanmor. He obviously disliked the sacrifice, and against the words of the elders of the tribe, he swore to rescue his woman. He hid in the woods, and when the bear came, he slew it with his spear and sword. But in the process his woman was also killed.When the elders heard this they captured the man, who was hiding in fear at the time. He tried to defend himself, but during the council there appeared the ghost of Jonat. The ghost condemned the youth, saying that none of the tribe could now have freedom after death unless they suceeded in killing great numbers of the enemy. Also Thanmor was outlawed, and the ancestors of him said that they would never help him again until he succeeded in capturing the seven chiefs of the Jonati. If he died before he succeeded, he would be condemned to the darkest pits of Nakala after death. He fled from the council, and hid in the woods. He decided to try to warn the Frontemi who were sure to be attacked, but he was too late in deciding. He was traveling south when he witness the battle where the Frontemi lost utterly. He managed to escape with the leader of their army, however, who was Prince Snodal.They traveled north, planning to go to the lands of the snow-dwellers and await the coming of a trade ship from Frontem. On the way, however, Snodal was captured by the Hrolli (snow-demons), and Thanmor barely escaped himself. He went to the snow-dwellers and stayed there until the coming of the trade ship when he went south to the kingdom of Frontem.In Frontem he lived in the city of Frontan, in the slums, among the other brigands and outlaws. There he stayed for a time, building up a following and becoming a leader of reknown. When the army was raised again to great numbers to fight the feared invasion to the south, Thanmor offered his band to the king, Krital by name, as light cavalry. In dire straits the king accepted.It was then that Snodal returned. He made peace with the Daga, and then prepared to fight the following Krjalki. Thanmor, now promoted to commander of the barbarian mercenaries, became friends with Snodal, at least as much as was possible between the two divergent characters. After the defeat of the Krjalki, Thanmor took his band and went north again, seeking the fulfillment of his geas.Once there he made peace with the nymph of the land, and her dragon pbrother. He married her, and together they finally defeated the seven Jonati chieftains, as well as some other surrounding tribes. He ascended to kingship of the united lands, and a new kingdom was made.
Tales of young Sartarite women
If going on a cattle raid is the defining exciting tale of young Sartarite men, what is the defining exciting tale of young Sartarite women? By young men I mean young Orlanth cultists (including Vingans). By young women I mean young Ernaldan cultists (including Nandani).
I could see the classic Sartarite female Bildungsroman (and counterweight to the young men doing something stupid like deciding to steal valuable property from a neighbouring village) could well be to take a temporary lover, have a child, be acclaimed as a full member of the Ernalda cult (as that automatically makes you eligible for becoming a priestess in the cult), with option of the child being raised by the temple and within the clan. Which in game has the advantage of getting that all done and over with before your character becomes an adventurer (and thus letting any further character development along those lines be unnecessary OR something to do within the course of the game).But am curious people’s reaction to that. Again, this is not intended to represent the actual universal experience, but rather the classic Bildungsroman.
Just as I do not think most Sartarite young men go on a cattle raid that has something go terribly wrong, with death or feuds as a consequence. But it happens in all the stories!
Ernalda is a popular cult (at least with my players), but her cultists are usually doing social things, summoning earth elementals to smash things, casting Heal Body, or twisting menfolk around their fingers. The earth elemental is a big thing. That and the Charisma spell.
From the letters of Sorala Tor
An Esrolian scribe in Prince Argrath’s service:
“Of all the many crimes committed by the the Poisonblood Witch-Queen of the Lunar Empire (a commonly used venomous title for Jar-eel the Razoress), perhaps the greatest crime was when she assassinated Belintar the God-King and ended the divine proximity of the Holy Country. A crime boasted of by the Lunars, serving no purpose except to facilitate their imperial conquests. Belintar was a gossamer thread between the Sixths of the Holy Country and the proximate divine realm. He brought mortals and gods together, and brought us as close to the blessed God Time as mortals can experience. Lunar apologists point to Harrek’s destruction of the City of Wonders, and the assistance given to him by King Broyan, to deflect from Moondaughter’s crimes. But Harrek is like a wolf or bear – he kills those things that are already weakened and sickened. His destruction is like Humakt’s or Umath’s – he destroys a broken and corrupt world, so that a new one might be built. He ended the fading dream of the City of Wonders, but it was a mercy killing and it woke us up from the delusions that somehow Belintar might return (a delusion spread and encouraged by the Empire!).”As an aside, although I love Jar-eel, I imagine that countless people view her as a horrid witch who wades through seas of blood – that she spilled – while smiling sweetly and playing her harp. The Orlanthi might well hate her more than even the Red Emperor himself.
…if she hadn’t killed Belintar, it is likely that Harrek and Argrath would never have met. And as there would have been no Lunar invasion of the Holy Country in 1619, there also would have been no Wolf Pirate fleet involved in said non-existent invasion. Whitewall never would have fallen, the Lunar Temple of the Reaching Moon never would have been consecrated, no Dragonrise, and no Hero Wars. Argrath would end up a dangerous Praxian warlord, and maybe Pavis would fall, and maybe even the Revolt in the Redlands would permit Sartar to be freed from Occupation, but that’s only a remote maybe.You can definitely view Jar-eel’s assassination of Belintar to be the event that triggered the Hero Wars.
Over his centuries of rule, Belintar attracted and patronised many visionary and unorthodox thinkers. Aggressive reincarnation, philosophies of Luck and Fate (“our Lady giveth and she taketh away”), God Learner apologists, monomyth mythic synthesis, elemental progression theories, harmonic numbers (especially 2, 3, and 6), and so much more. Now Belintar no doubt strongly influenced these thinkers. How could he not? The presence of a powerful, immortal heroquester who could communicate with gods and Silver Age heroes alike, who knew Heort and Arkat, familiar with the theories of the mythic synthesis movement, and who defeated the Only Old One in hand to hand combat and reshaped the geography of the land – how could such presence not shape the thinkers of his kingdom? And yet, Belintar was a surprisingly tolerant God-King, who laughingly acknowledged his non-worship by the atheists of God Forgot, but took their tribute in other ways. He ruled lightly, “less than a feather, as heavy as Dawn’s early light,” but also without any real threat or challenge until the Lunar Empire entered Dragon Pass.This intellectual fermentation might have only been confined to a small percentage of the population, but it strongly influenced Sartar and his dynasty, who might even be claimed as Belintar’s truest heirs (which is deeply ironic given the Hendriki settled Dragon Pass to get away from Belintar’s innovations).(Expanded from a previous comment in another thread)
But think of what intellectual and artistic gems must have shone in his court at the City of Wonders!
Belintar of course ruled for three centuries as a living god. Sacrifices were offered to him by temples throughout the Holy Country, and his cult was associated with most every god of the Holy Country. Belintar’s cult had many thousands of lay members, but only two initiates – himself and the winner of the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death.
So when you think about the various libraries around the Mirrorsea Bay, the Boldhome Library, and the Jonstown Library, remember that they have copies of these musings from the City of Wonder in their collections. And the Lhankor Mhy cult of Sartar and the Holy Country has a lot of philosophical pretensions – hence the reason Philosopher is an occupation independent of Scribe!
Many of the members of the Sartar dynasty had a strong connection to the Holy Country, and the City of Wonders. Sartar himself is thought to have participated in one of the Tournaments of the Masters of Luck and Death, and as already mentioned, Tarkalor traveled to the City of Wonders and became acquainted with several philosophers, and likely Terasarin did as well. Argrath simply follows true to that tradition, with his circumnavigation and his time spent in Nochet.
Aggressive reincarnation, as postulated by Mister Bondaru, is a technique of forcing incarnation of a powerful spiritual entity through ceremony, ritual, and sacrifice, as with the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death.
The theories of the physical body and its ethereal components has parallels to the five, six, or seven souls of Dara Happan and Lunar thought. Subtle bodies can be developed through meditation, ritual, and deed, aiding the person in their spiritual development and their daily life.In game, this means in the Holy Country there are lots of pretty wild traditions and practices about how to maximise augments, Rune development, and how all that ties in to spell-casting and POW rolls.
And of course the RQG book hints at this:
And this theories of course are common in Sartar. It is probably easier to name which members of the Sartar Dynasty were not steeped in Holy Country esotericism (Salinarg). And given how much of the leadership of newly liberated Sartar were exiled in or otherwise fought in the Holy Country, it is probably safe to say that influence is greater now than ever before.Now this stuff is not particularly Nysalorean or Arkati, but it certainly has echoes and reverbs of some doctrines of the God Learnerism and the Empire of the Wyrms Friends. All meshed nicely together and with Belintar and the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death as a great source of data and information.
Mister Bondaru 2
Mister Bondaru was a sage of Lhankor Mhy, and a noted philosopher in the City of Wonders. As stated before, his specialty was “The Physical Body and its Etheral Attributes” and he published a paper on the subject.Tarkalor met him when he was a young man, sent by his father to the Holy Country. His recollections of that meeting exist in fragmentary form.”I saw you come back from I Fought, We Won,” Mister Bondaru said. “You are among the cursed who participate in consciousness.”He spoke to me about the God Learners as well. “Not everything which they did was evil,” Mister Bondaru said. “There is no doubt that they performed corrupt actions, hurt many people, and harmed the life force. But even they loved their children, worked to make things better, and did things which benefited their peoples.””You yourself still bear soem of their customs. Think, first, of the five-part year which you have followed so faithfully all of your life. That was a God Learner thing.””And what of those fancy tattoos which you value so highly – did you know they were a God Learner affectation too?”
Mister Bondaru 1
Mister Bondaru promulgated the idea of aggressive reincarnation and the use of subtle bodies, which proved influential in Holy Country thought.
at least in some circles.
Over his centuries of rule, Belintar attracted and patronised many visionary and unorthodox thinkers. Aggressive reincarnation, philosophies of Luck and Fate (“our Lady giveth and she taketh away”), God Learner apologists, monomyth mythic synthesis, elemental progression theories, harmonic numbers (especially 2, 3, and 6), and so much more.
The City of Wonders
The City of Wonders circa 1550 was the greatest city in the Holy Country, and one of the greatest cities in the world. With a population of 50,000 souls it was probably about the same size as Nochet (remember this is before the Opening), and occupied much of Loon Island. The city was connected to the each of the Sixths by magical bridges, but most people traveled there by boat – remember that few ports along the Mirrorsea Bay is more than about 50 km from the City of Wonders.Belintar maintained a number of galleys to ferry around dignitaries, guests, and officials. These galleys were without sails (“winds are only treacherous), but many of the fishing boats and merchant ships do have sails.Greg drew up a schematic of the city some years back. This is conceptual and ideal (as many of his notes often were), but it is entirely possible that Belintar was able to pull of this near perfection. Gods and spirits dwelled in the City of Wonders alongside mortals and powerful magical entities like the Reef Master or the Tide Lord. So you might go to the Golden Anchor for a drink and meet a visiting Triton or a son of the Storm Bull who has come here from Stormwalk Mountain.In many ways, the city it resembles the most is Glamour. The City of Wonders was a place where the mundane world crossed over into the Gods World. But when Belintar disappeared in 1616, the City of Wonders was mostly removed from this world, and remained only as a ghostly remnant. And after 1624, Harrek destroyed and pillaged that remnant (with perhaps the aid of your player characters!) and now it is entirely gone from this world.
Lunar Empire size
It is worth keeping in mind that the Lunar Empire was much smaller than the Roman empire – both in terms of territory and population. The Lunar Empire includes about 8.5 million humans, with another million non-humans (elves, dwarfs, trolls, etc.) in its orbit.By most accounts, the Roman Empire at its height numbered around 40-50 million people and Han China somewhere around 50 million. Likely the Assyrians or Neo-Babylonians or some of the Successors are better points of comparison in terms of population and territory. Rome or Han China – that’s like the Middle Sea Empire at its peak.On the other hand the Lunar Empire had a tamed Chaos demon in its service, could call down meteors from the Red Moon, and had a field school of magicians. Which I am pretty sure the Romans or Chinese never even claimed.
Another ancient manuscript from the early Dawn Age. Again I think this might date to the Wisconsin era.
THE SESHNEGI were marked culturally by an inspiring burst of growth over the realms of the 150 years ruled by the Serpent Kings. Despite the wars of expansion to fill their granted land the Seshnegi found time to develop arts to a high pitch of quality. Their society was tuned to a high degree of compassion through its flowering ages, believing that if a man should give its life for a country then the country should give its life for him. The ridiculous Scorpion men wars were fought over that right, but the rigidity of that foreign policy proved a solid and trusty front for the highly nationalistic peoples of Seshnela. Even before their culture had filled the lands of Seshenla they had already began expanding to fill the lands surrounding it. During their later expansion period the energies of Seshenla were naturally directed outwards rather than inwards, and the development of the arts of any sort stagnated in growth, but expanded geographically. The superior posture and obviously superior lifestyle of the Seshnegi attracted foreigners wholesale, despite the semi privileges of their half-citizen status. After a couple of generation the old civilizations would be gone, replaced seemingly forever with the Seshnegi culture, complete with freedom-fighting knighthoods and snake-worshiping priestesses. Seshnegi expansion was successful because of the superiority of its culture in one respect, but this was supported by the superiority of its pantheon. The gods of Seshnela were a synthesis of the dominant cults of the land, whereupon it was the royal policy of serpent kings to select one temple as the dominant one in the land and raise its status. Thus there was a balance between the five elements which was available to the battlefield magicians of the Seshnegi. This flexibility was denied to most of the foes of the Seshnegi, and even the oddest foreign deity would easily find a way into the sprawling “lower pantheon” of the Seshnegi empire. Militarily, the Seshnegi army was very flexible at its earliest stages. In the reign of the Serpent Kings the Knighthood were trained in all arms and, although they were famous and greatly successful for their body armor and heavy spears, tribes of the interior they often scrambled up hills in armor to fight their enemies. Around the year 250, when overseas e imperial expansion demanded a much larger army of professionals, there was a major reform in the Seshnegi and allied armies, so that the once all-purpose knights were divided into mounted and foot types, plus foot archers. The absence of foot mounted archers is explained by the obvious lack of any such deity even among the multitudes of lesser deities in the Seshnegi pantheons. Such an absence can only be explained as deliberate, if subtle, intervention by the god involved, and cause for this grudge can be found in the old story about when Warera, wife of the Founder of the race, snubbed Jaralitor, virgin of the Sun, the fire rider armed with a bow which so many nomad types pray to. Such distantly removed mythical events often reverberate that way through history. Seshnela found solid conquests in nearby lands, and also through the coastal and river-bottom lands of Fronela. They penetrated through to the central lakes of Ralios, but were staunchly fought by the barbarians beyond that. While they were friends with the Triolini races the Seshnegi even carried invasion as far as the southern edges of the Empire of the Wyrm’s Friends, but the Sea/Land wars which destroyed the Seshnegi navy left the invaders stranded and later they surrendered. It was in Fronela that the first major clash with anything of a power approaching their own came to Seshnela. That was the contact between the traders of the Seshnegi and the Empire of the Wyrm’s Friends in the barbarian lands of Fronela, beginning a conflict which would last for 175 years. These were the Fronela Trading Wars.
When she was 13, Vasana daughter of Farnan was initiated according to the tribal traditions of the Colymar. She was chosen by Vinga and pressed on to I Fought We Won. She was welcomed as a “young man” by her community and was sent to the Starfire Ridges along with some 300 other young men from the local clans. They were given a cloak, a broad-brimmed hat, and weapons.
Vasana spent the next two years among her fellow “young men” learning to fight, learning about the Orlanthi gods. Most of this time was spent atop the Starfire Ridges, where they raided, hunted, and learned to fight as a group. They learned to survive in all seasons, learned to run long distances without breaks, how to climb cliffs, etc. After the first year, Vasana was given a sword by the Wind Lord, a sign of her promise. At those feasts and ceremonies, the young men learned to dance and flirt with women. Some even learned the mysteries of sex with women (some may have already learned the mysteries of sex with other young men).As a woman, she was the among youngest “young man” present. This forced her to learn to compete with older (and no doubt stronger) boys and hardened her for the Vingan life.
During the second year, the training continued. They learned songs and poems of the gods and heroes. They learned to make a shield wall and how to fight with their sword. They learned of the spirits.At the end of the second year, they were brought back into the community and back to their clans with feasts and celebrations. Most then went on to initiate to Orlanth; Vasana initiated into the Vingan band at Clearwine.
When she was 13 years old, Yanioth went through her clan initiation rites. Afterwards, she was given, as is traditional for young women of her Ernaldoring clan, to the Clearwine Earth Temple for two years of training and apprenticehood. She served the priestesses, learned useful crafts, and learned the songs and dances of Ernalda. She received magical lore and learned of the spirits. She lived in the temple with the other young women, and functioned as a student and a servant of the priestesses.At those ceremonies where the young women met with the young men, she learned to flirt and dance with the young men. Yanioth also learned the mysteries of sex with men (and possibly women as well).After two years, she was returned to her community with feasts and celebrations. She initiated into the deeper mysteries of Ernalda, and Yanioth returned to the temple (where her mother is a priestess).
As an aside, I kind of imagine the “young men’s apprenticeship” like going to Camp Wolfeboro (a Scout camp in the Sierra Nevada Mountains) as a teenager. But with more spears and swords. And lots more dancing. And no hiking boots.
The girls are at the Earth Temple. And even the young men up in the hills know not to upset the priestesses. And their snakes.
the problem is terminology. I am sure they are called whatever “Young Men’s Assocation” (“Jungmannschaft” or “yuva sangh” or the “Wild Cat Brothers” or whatever). But that sounds odd to our ear (even if epheboi just means “young men”). So “tribal camp” is misleading in English as it conjures images of summer camp, rather than young men surviving nearly naked in the wilds, armed with weapons, and learning dances and songs of the Storm God.
Complaining about field hands leaving the fields for two years as part of their religious and clan obligations certainly is not a clan or tribal matter! It is just worrying about you.
Actually because this is organised as a clan and tribal activity, I doubt the loss of hands is that much of a problem. Happens regularly, and easier to deal with than if the militia is called up at an odd time.
Lots of cultures and religions do something similar, including agricultural communities. Think of the Mormon missionaries on their 2-year tour.
- it’s easy to picture 300 young “men” camping in the hills for a couple years. But are there 300 young “women” in the Clearwine Earth Temple? Is it big enough for that?
- Remember, women don’t initiated by five year bands.
- And their apprenticeship tends to be at a clan level rather than a tribal or city level (different skills being learned).
- So young men are going to the hills for 2 years every 3 to 5 years by big “batches” of several hundreds, but young women are more on an “ongoing” schedule, with, say, only 20 of them every year in each clan doing “temple internships” and such?
- exactly! And in some isolated clans (like the Varmandi), it might just be 20 or 30 boys sent into the hills for 2 years. While in Boldhome, it might be assemblies of a thousand camped out near Orlaman’s Keep or around the Sacred Hills and sponsored by the Prince, where they really focus on training for war, physical sports, and group loyalty.
- So everyone knows that Vargast is going to the hills after his initiation. Well everyone except Vargast, as this whole thing is a clan secret and hidden from the not adults. If you are a free farmer, you can simply hire a tenant. If you are a tenant, it probably isn’t that huge a loss (and there are often itinerant labourers). And of course, the Orlanth temple supports this and feeds the kids, etc.Same deal with the Ernalda equivalent.
- This also drives a lot of the raiding and cattle thieving going on, with young men proving themselves and learning about war and raiding.
- So the 300 men represent five clans over five years, while the Ernaldings might have 20 young women per year top.
- Where would a future Babeester/Maran Gor cultist go during her apprenticeship? Going fighting and camping in the hills with the “men”, or interning in an Earth temple with the “women”?
- devotees of gods other than Orlanth, Ernalda and their “immediate family” (ie sub cults), get sent to a nearby temple. Sometimes they never return.
- So the young adult who finds Lhankor Mhy on their initiation gets sent to the nearest city with a library. And so on.
So despite lunar propaganda claims to the contrary the Lunar port at Corfu was a disastrous failure. Not only did it fail as an entrepôt but not a single deep water ship was ever built there.But, you ask, what about the Lunar navy that transported lunar soldiers into the Mirrorsea for the amphibious assault on Karse in 1619? The answer to that is delicious- that was a contract with an independent naval power that the Provincial General managed to woo after 1616. Their price was absurdly high, but their down payment was affordable. If barely. Even better, their services were no longer needed after the troops arrive in Karse and so the Empire reneged on the bulk of their agreement with apparent impunity. Better still, with their new Esrolian allies they were able to force these pirates out of the Choralinthor.After all, what does the Lunar Empire have to fear by betraying a pack of Wolf Pirates and their chief, a wood barbarian called Harrek the Berserk.
A lot of discussion has gone on about where ordinary humans have it best in Glorantha. But I think it is safe to say that common people in Ramalia have it worse. Oppressive, fearful and consumed with hate, Ramalia is a prison camp.But even worse than the ordinary folk of Ramalia are the trollkin. A slave worker if you are lucky, food for your relative if you are unlucky. The life of the ordinary trollkin is one of misery. No wonder they hope the Black Eater devours them in death so they suffer no more.
Being a peasant in Ramalia is probably even worse than being a helot in Laconia or Messenia. But it is far better than being a trollkin, living forever in fear that your kinfolk will decide to eat you.
So we’ve talked about where Sartar and the Lunar Empire gets its revenues, as well as a little digression on Seshnela and Loskalm. But want to talk about rich? The Holy Country is about 3.25 million people, and its port cities are very rich from collecting taxes and tolls from merchants passing through. They are the first sea-borne source of the Pelorian exchange route, and the gold collected is used (among other things) to pay for their fleet.From 1580-1616, much of these revenues would have been at the disposal of Belintar. Now the various cities and Sixths grab what they can, with Nochet taking the lion’s share, but Rhigos and Karse both rich cities (other places like Refuge gain little as they are not on major trade routes). So let’s think what that means for the Queen of Esrolia. Not only does she have the vast agricultural resources of that land at her disposal, thanks to her position as the head of the Ernalda cult, but she also gets toll collection for every ship that comes into Nochet. Plus market fees from the largest market in Glorantha. I expect she has revenues comparable to the Prince of Sartar at the height of that dynasty, and perhaps greater (as not all trade going through Nochet goes to Peloria – much is for local consumption in Kethaela or for export elsewhere in the world). Since Esrolia doesn’t maintain a large standing army (unlike say Argrath and his Praxian horde) much more of that surplus gets spent on art, spice, and other luxury goods.So go southwest, young artist, southwest!
in some stories, Argrath was a year husband of the Esrolian queen (who by all accounts was young and beautiful). But the Feathered Horse Queen is the sovereign of Dragon Pass, and traditionally more important in Sartarite ambitions.
So although Esrolia is not Egypt, if you want your decadent Ptolemaic court, Nochet and its fabulously rich queens with luxuries from all over the world can give you want you want.
Part of the Holy Country includes the RIght Arm Islands. These scattered fishing villages have always been tied to the Mirrorsea Bay, and preserved the rites of appeasing the powers of the deep oceans through their close relationship with the triolini beneath the waters. The cults of Dormal, Diros, and Choralinthor make up nearly half the population, with Orlanth and Ernalda in a decidedly second tier.Since the Opening in 1580, they now provide the shipmen for trade and warships. By Belintar’s decree, they were responsible for all matters in the Holy Country, and out of it.The islands that provide crew and captains for the fleet are expect from all taxes as long as they provide the crewmen as needed. Since the disappearance of Belintar, the city of Nochet provides most of the financing for the fleet and the islands are closely tied to Nochet.
Remember, that blue-water transport has only existed since the equivalent of 1975. So I suspect fishing is the main way the islanders learn rowing. Which of course means, that folk typically use rowing boats on the Mirrorsea.
So what we might imagine is that the traditional fishing boat of the Islanders is a long and narrow row boat, like a caïque. The design was a hold-over from the Second Age, with the sail removed (not really necessary or that useful on the Mirrorsea Bay given the short distances). The Islanders claim this is the boat of Diros.
This sort of rowing vessel got modified by Dormal into a bireme with a single-square rigged sail, a bronze ram, and a sentient figurehead.
Within a few years, Dormal figured out how to construct and man triremes and quadriremes. Fore and aft rigging allowed them to tack quickly and successfully. I wouldn’t be surprised if Belintar had hexaremes built and perhaps his own ship was an even larger polyreme. I Imagine in the last two generations we’ve witnessed an explosion of ingenuity in ship design in the Holy Country. But instead of building fleets of hexaremes, we get a few hexaremes, a bunch of relatively inexpensive triremes, a weird catamaran with a catapult, and other strange inventions.
About a decade ago, the Holy Country navy introduced the widespread use of ship-mounted heavy engines. However, they were foremost in expanding the size of their ships, and had already adopted the use of something similar to the Roman corvus and air elemental-dropped grapples.The Holy Country fleet traditionally consists of 3 equally sized parts, each with its own fleet guardian spirit and practiced bands of magicians and priests. It is well organised and disciplined, and works in close cooperation with the Choralinthor merman tribes.The fleet is uninterested in expansion, being content with handling about half the escort serves (and fees) between themselves and Handra, and all of the east-west traffic to Teshnos. Of course, the appearance of the Wolf Pirates in 1624 has made things more complicated and dangerous, and Nochet increasingly relies on increasingly large ships and its merman allies to escort merchants.
Another document from near the Dawn of Time. I believe it dates to the Wisconsin era, when the earliest Seshnegi were locked in conflict with the Pendali and long before the first Lightbringer came to the West.
The world in the early times was populated by many different races. The lands were shaped differently, and it was before the great conflict with the children of Jotimam, for that took place in the time of Men, many years later.The Mostali were the first race. They were created by Urtiam as his servants. They were numerous, and they were close to Lodril, the celestial smith, and it is from him that they learned the arts which they preserved forever.They were loosely joined together in a nation, and their king was named Raliktol. They were short of stature in comparison with other beings, but they were wise. They lived in vast underground caverns, or in cities which they built in imitation of the celestial palaces.The Hecalonit were another race. They were the children of the gods and therefore of high origins. They were gigantic in size, towering over the other races. The oldest among them at times could change their size, and sired children with other races.The Aldryami were servants of the terrestial gods. They were first made from the spittle of the Great Gods. They knew all the secrets of the land, and were close to nature. They needed no homes, but lived in the forests with the animals. They were handsome and none on land could compete with their beauty.The Triolini were the race that lived in the waters of the wrold. They had tails of fish and could not go onto land, but their first-made had the power to change their shape into that of land beings.In the air lived the Kolati. Although today they are invisible to the eyes of Men, they are visible to the Elder Races, except for the few first created who have the ability to become totally invisible to mortals, just as any of the oldest Srvuali have.Occasionally the Dehori would be seen on the surface. They peacefully lived with other beings. At a few gatherings, the Promalti would also attend.This was the time for the Elder race of Animals, and many of these animals were intelligent enough for people to converse with them concerning the highest matters, and all had the power of speech.This characteristics also pertained to the Father-Plants of the world. These were the first of the plants, created by Goddess Florla and the Smith Makram and also with help from other gods. These Eldests of plants could speak to other beings. This trait, however, did not pass on to their children.
This text, although ancient, and lacking the greater insights of the Lightbringers or the benefits of the God Learners and their magical synthesis movement, nonetheless has many core Gloranthan truths rarely expressed so plainly.
A fresco depicting the contest between Orlanth and Yelm. Late Third Age, Sartar. Another great piece by the amazing Loïc Muzy!
REASON FOR CONTINUED EXISTENCE
Orlanth symbolizes and forms the elemental Air; he is a foundation of the cosmic order. He is King of the Gods by right of his strength and deeds, and his virtues maintain the world. He is responsible for maintaining the cosmos. His cult provides guidelines for its members to follow in determining their activities about themselves, their society, the cosmos, and the great mystery of being. Participation in the cult of Orlanth makes a person a full citizen of the universe.The unpredictability of Orlanth’s universe consistently led him into challenges and quests to prove himself worthy of his position of authority. He fought Yelm, the Cosmic Emperor who claimed to rule by right of birth and needed no other authority; he fought his brothers and kinsmen, even though it pained his heart to engage in kinstrife; he fought elemental enemies, such as Daliath, god of Wisdom; and he fought Chaos.This studied unpredictability is an earmark of his cult. The gods and his worshipers are often considered unreliable and changeable, much like the storms that mark his presence. However, along with this unpredictability is a passionate devotion to righting wrongs and upholding the social good. These traits are preeminent in the Lightbringers Quest wherein Orlanth was responsible for the Lesser Darkness, but also for the superhuman efforts necessary to correct the errors and maintain the universe.As both the murderer of Yelm who plunged the world into darkness and the leader of the Lightbringers who revived the world, Orlanth is the God of Heroes, an untamed destroyer who nonetheless protects life and aids civilization. He destroys not to end the world but to make way for the new. Orlanth made the world what it is through his deeds and his cult is destined to play a central role in the Hero Wars.
Did you know that the allied spirit of an Orlanth Rex priest is the guardian spirit of the tribe? Which means that the allied spirit of the Prince of Sartar is…. Sartar!
THE FLAME OF SARTAR
A key stage in the acclamation of a Prince of Sartar is when the candidate must rekindle the Flame of Sartar. If successful, the new Prince allies with the spirit of Sartar and gains the assistance and counsel of his deified ancestor.
See why that whole lighting the Flame of Sartar thing is so important in the histories? And what it means that the Flame is extinguished?
As a general rule, no person can have more than one allied spirit from the same cult at a time. If an allied spirit is killed or destroyed, a new one may be obtained, but this is a matter for heroic deeds on the part of the Rune Lord.Of course becoming Prince of Sartar is the sort of exception that proves the rule.
In thinking about the Holy Country, it is perhaps worth remembering that almost 80% of the population are Orlanthi. However, there is a decidedly Earth religion and matriarchal shade to things, as 55% of the total population are Esrolian. Although Belintar empowered each of the Sixths to preserve their spiritual and cultural identity, there is nonetheless a strong Esrolian influence through trade, literacy, and material artifacts.Given the strong ties that Old Sartar has with the Holy Country (not the least being that Sartarite is the same language spoken in Heortland), it is not surprising that most Lunars can’t distinguish a Sartarite from an Esrolian.
nother thing to keep in mind – the Holy Country is about the same size as all of Dragon Pass, and no bigger. It is only 72 km from Nochet to Karse and 100 km from Nochet to Seapolis.
An account from earliest records of Glorantha, probably circa 350 ST.
The City of the Gods
The City of the Gods (Hrelar Amali) is located on the Crimson Plains between the lands of Ralios and Seshnela. It is the spot where Flamal, beloved of Gata, fell at the hands of Eurmal the Murderer during the Great War between the Gods. For this reason it is considered one of the most sacred spots in all Acos.At the death of Flamal, Gata ordered that a temple be built on the spot. The Hsunchen did this, adding a temple to Gata herself and one to Nakala, who carried off the body of Flamal, as appeasement to her. When the Seshnegi captured the land around the area, the added temples to Humakt and Sramak, their native gods. Later temples to the other Nine were added, as well as to many other of the lesser gods. The priests were allowed to live there, as well as visitants, but there were not allowed to be any regular living quarters built. To guarantee the sanctity of the place, the gods made it possible for the priests to never labor, giving food and other things themselves. They also guaranteed the sacredness of the place by oaths which protected any pilgrims and priests there or on the way, so long as they wore the yellow robes.Frazral is the mouthpiece of the temple, acting for any god who is in charge at the time. He is called Chief of the Srvuiali, having been created by all the Nine from their blood.
Speaking of Malkioni, their two big empires are Seshnela and Loskalm. Both are about a third the population of the Lunar Empire (Loskalm a little more, Seshnela a little less). But their state resources are significantly less than a third of the Lunar Empire. A big part of the reason is the different social structure. Legally or ideologically, the King of Seshnela does not “own” Seshnela. He is the head of the talar clans that rules Rindland, Tanisor, Deu, and Voi. Various other talar clans rule other areas, and they owe service and fealty to the king. Moreover, within the areas he rules, many subareas have their own talar families that rule and owe service and fealty to the king. Pretty quickly it becomes apparent that the king has to rely upon the service and fealty owed to him by his subordinates to do anything. He’s like a mafia chief heading up a crime family – he relies upon his caporegimes and needs to make sure none of them go into business for themselves. Even worse, the zzaburi have their own power structure that he is only the guardian of, not the head.One big revenue source that Guilmarn has exploited is that of trade from the Iron Hills and between the Quinpolic League and Safelster. That he can tax the heck out of and not share with his caporegimes.Loskalm has a similar if opposite problem. Everything in Loskalm is part of Siglat’s perfect social order. The King of Loskalm is owed duty and service from his subordinates, and in return, owes them other duties and responsibilities. During the Ban this all worked perfectly, but since then imperfections constantly creep in. Worse yet, Sog City has become the main entrepot for trade (especially with the distant Lunar Empire).
There was a recent question on where the Red Emperor’s revenues come from. Here’s a few thoughts:
- 1. The Red Emperor in legal theory “owns” the Lunar Heartlands. Much of that has been given to his satraps who pay him annually in taxes (mostly in coin, rice, and grain, but also in crafted goods, animals, etc.), and soldiers. He has kept the Silver Shadow, although parts of that have been given to friends and favorites (although Red Emperor is perfectly willing to reclaim that whenever they feel like it). Everything in the Lunar Heartlands is theoretically his.
- 2. The West Reaches and the Provincial Kingdoms pay regular tribute to the Red Emperor.
- 3. The Red Emperor owns the Red Haired Caravan. He gets at least 2 tons of silk a year.
- 4. The Red Emperor is the head of the Red Goddess cult and the Yelm cult. This is probably tied into 1 though.
So when the Red Emperor wants something, he just decrees it. It is up to his scribes and administrators, satraps and generals to make it happen. Woe to the scribe who has to explain that the Red Emperor lacks the resources to send ten Heartland regiments to Dragon Pass while simultaneously suppressing the White Moon Movement and fighting off a Pentan invasion of the Redlands.
So in the Fifth Wane, the Red Emperor reclaimed land from the Pentan bands. This land was given to temples or individuals. Of course what the Red Emperor gives, he can take away, and of course the inhabitants of that land need to give the Red Emperor his share. Of course some places were ruled by the Pentans – and these cities and temples have land, markets, and other resources, which of course they acknowledge are derived from the Red Emperor.For tradition and for convenience, the Red Emperor has appointed satraps to rule over most of his domains. All of these satraps are by now descendants of the Red Emperor, although some of the original satraps were allied kings or other rulers. The satraps must pay the Red Emperor regular tribute of coin, worship, food, goods, and soldiers – and legions of Irrippi Ontor scribes are present to make sure all has been paid. Even here, the Red Emperor has estates, temples, and other resources that are personally administered by his household.
So expanding a bit on this, although legally the Red Emperor “owns” everything except the stuff he says (right now!) that he doesn’t own, in practice, probably about half the land is owned by the state (including imperial estates, Lunar and Yelm temples, satraps, etc.). Another third is owned by “autonomous” cities, independent temples, or by nobles who derive their position from something other than the state.Maybe about 10% of the land is owned by the farmers that work it. The rest is worked by semi- or unfree peasants.
Some material facts on Esrolia that I think are of importance. Esrolia is perhaps the most densely settled and intensely cultivated area in the world. It has 1.78 million people in an area smaller than Sartar, so basically imagine ten Sartars in one place. Or another comparison – it has about three times the population of the Silver Shadow and about the same area (even taking in account the empty space of the Crater). Pretty much everyone agrees that the great goddess Ernalda lives there. As do Asrelia, Ty Kora Tek, and Babeester Gor. Places like Necropolis or Asrelia’s Retreat are great temples for what elsewhere are very minor goddesses.But more than anything, this is a place of intense agriculture. Every 4 kilometers there’s a village between the fields and orchards. Except with the Sacred Ground and atop Thorab’s Hill, there are no wilds, no wastes, no places untouched by humans – just fields, orchards, and villages, with the occasional urban area. It takes a lot of grain to feed nearly 2 million people, but Esrolia not only produces it, but enough to export. And since the Ernalda temples own the land, imagine how rich they are! And no wonder this is the center of the Lhankor Mhy cult – imagine how many scribes are employed keeping track of taxes of grain and other bounties of the goddess!
Some more notes:
Nochet has a population of 100k+ and covers some 600 hectares, so it has got about 175 people per hectare, which means people are crowded in. There are also plenty of animals – pigs, cows, and sheep, chickens and geese, snakes, lizards, the occasional crocodile, etc. And even though the city is rich, by modern standards most people are poor and live as clients and supplicants of temples, noble houses, criminal gangs, etc. The city is disorganised and seemingly anarchic. If a temple or noble house wants to do something, it does it. The queen mediates conflicts between the powerful, and sometimes looks after the poor. The queen is the high priestess of the Earth Goddess and rarely involves herself in administering more than the resources of her temple. The temples of various husband-gods have power and influence, and respect the authority of the Earth Goddess but little else.Things functioned more efficiently under Belintar’s reign, when the God-King could reveal the aspirations of Queen Merngala and bring the divine world (and its ideals) in contact with our own. Belintar could bring forth the Jolly Fat Man and announce a wondrous new festival of drink and pleasure. But the God-King has been gone nearly a decade and the young queen has more worldly ambitions. And the Red Earth, the Warm Earth, and Old Earth factions have not disappeared – they seek power, with or without the young queen.
As for the Mirrorsea Bay – keep in mind how tranquil and beautiful it is. This isn’t the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, or the North Atlantic! The waters probably have a mean sea temperature of around 20 C or something like that. You can go into the water year round and in summer, the water is really pleasant. The amazingly clear blue waters have kelp forests and corral reefs where merfolk hunt and play. There are schools of colourful fish, endless flocks of waterfowl, and more. Combine that with the temperatures for Esrolia, and it sounds so nice, I want to buy a vacation home there.
Nochet is rich from many sources. Its queen is the head of the Ernalda cult in Esrolia (more or less) and has vast surpluses of grain and other produce. But it is also the center of maritime trade in the world. The Opening of the Seas took place during the lifetime of many inhabitants – it is as far in the past as 1975 is to us. The largest numbers of skilled human sailors in the world are present here – only the Wolf Pirates compare in numbers and experience (their numbers are less, but their experience may be even greater). Ships travel from Nochet to Kralorela, Loskalm, Fonrit, and the East Isles. Nochet even has a “colony” in Teshnos!Here’s where silk comes into central Genertela, about 10-15 tons a year comes in. Maybe half stays in the Holy Country, the rest is carried on caravans that go through Dragon Pass and is taken to the Lunar Heartlands. Maybe 4 tons a year of silk ends up in Furthest. Of course that means it is probably easier to get silk in Boldhome than in Glamour, just as it was easier to get silk in Alexandria than in Rome.
Yes, the Red Haired Caravan also brings silk into the Lunar Heartlands, probably another 2 tons a year. And I think that silk is considered “higher status” than the stuff from the Holy Country. Ironically, the stuff the Red Haired Caravan brings is from the Kingdom of Ignorance, while the stuff that comes into Nochet is from Teshnos and Kralorela proper, so go figure.
Total Nochet human population by cultural group:
- Esrolian 60000
- Sartarites 20000
- Other Holy Country 6000
- Westerners 4000
- Teshnites 4000
- Kralorelans 2000
- Fonritians 2000
- Other 2000
1. those populations are of humans, not trolls, mermen, or dwarves. Or ducks or newtlings. Other means other humans.2. Nochet City of Queens is not a published setting book.
It usually takes only ten days or less to get from Nochet to Boldhome. That’s roughly comparable from Athens to Pella. Esrolia and Sartar are as comparable to Athens and Macedon. Athens is civilised, urban, and on the sea, while Macedon is hill country, tribal, and considered “half-barbarian”. The stereotypes are similar and the distances are about the same.
And look how close rivals Nochet and Rhigos are. Only 20 km away. We are talking about half the distance between Tyre and Sidon (which were also rivals). Clearly a good case of familiarity breeds contempt!
- Who owns the land in Esrolia?
- The Earth Goddess owns the land. Therefore the earth temples determine who gets use of the land. It is as simple as that.
As Matt Ryan and I continue to work on the Boldhome foldout map for the Sartar boxed set, we’ve made a few tweaks based on Greg’s notes. Greg really insisted that the East Pocket extended east beyond (and above) the city wall, with views of the Killard Vale, and he sketched that out a number of times. I think we finally captured that – and the strangeness that are the Pockets, in this version of the map. Both Matt and I are now really desperate to go to Boldhome. Claudia not so much as she fears the heights and cliffs would get to her!
Where Sartar is a silk road kingdom, with its riches coming from its command over the trade routes through strategic Dragon Pass, the Lunar Empire is a river-and-grasslands civilization. Because of its continental climate, it is not truly a hydraulic civilization, and the Lunar Heartlands perhaps looks more the Mississippi Embayment or much of Iowa. I sometimes imagine the Lunar Heartlands superimposed on the American Midwest, with Alkoth being St. Louis, Glamour being Des Moines, and Yuthuppa being the Twin Cities. Elz Ast and Joranit are like Buffalo and Quebec City. No wonder the Kalikos Expedition gets such support!Peloria is quite dry – wet air gets blown from the far west, but needs to go over Fronela or Valind’s Glacier before it reaches Peloria. The immediate foothills of the Rockwoods and Yolp mountains might get 25 to 40 inches or so, but that drops in the plains.
You definitely get tornados in Saird. And probably throughout Peloria – one more reason to fear and dislike the Storm Gods.
One geographical oddity is the Crater itself. It rises some 3 to 5 km above the surrounding plains, covered in snow and acts as a cooling factor in the Silver Shadow.
The Crater is something like a small version of Niven’s Fist of God. It is obviously not a natural geological feature – a high ring of mountains formed when the Red Moon rose into the sky. The Red Moon appeared in historical times, although it was a long time ago (the equivalent of our mid-17th century).But unlike Fist of God, the Red Moon rose without explosions or visible destruction (although its enemies claimed it was accompanied with vast spiritual carnage). Instead a great red and black globe, more than 30 km in diameter and slowly spinning, rose from the earth leaving the Crater behind. It rose high into the sky, and then stopped its ascent, but continued spinning from red to black.I’d rank the ascent of the Red Moon among the four greatest magical events in history – along with the Sunstop, the Closing, and the Dragonkill War. Little events like the Faceless Giant, the Cursing of Dorastor, or even the Moonburn barely count on that list.
this might well be a traditional Lodril peasant’s hut throughout the Lunar Heartlands:
As an aside, I pointed out on another thread that it is probably easier and cheaper to buy silk in Boldhome than Glamour*. Let that sink in.*That being said, there is more silk and more demand for silk in Glamour. Still, any Wind Lord or Earth Priestess who wants to deck themselves out with silk in Boldhome probably can. If they can afford it.
Another thing keeping in mind is the amount of marshlands around Darjiin and Henjarl. The Henjarl Marshes cover about 1500 km2, while the Dorkath marshes are about 1000 km2. There are a number of other marshes that collectively are about 1500 km2. So altogether, we are looking at something about 4 times the size of the Upland Marsh in an area about the size of Sartar.Now these marshes are socially like the Mesopotamian marshes in Iraq (even if they ecologically are more like the Great Black Swamp of Indiana). They are populated by numbers villages made of reeds and often reachable only by boat. There are numerous canals and dikes throughout the marshes to tame them. The marshes inhabited by countless species of birds and fish, and the Oslira crocodile.
A lot of people instantly associate Handra and its isles with Venice. But another City of the Seven Isles is Mumbai, with its isles of Bombay, Parel, Mahim, Mazagaon, Worli, Colaba, and Little Woman’s Isle. Actually Venice has over one hundred islands, so the Seven Isles might be inspired by early Mumbai, rather than Venice.
Corflu is more like some of those embarrassingly half-assed settlements in the American southwest like Fort Yuma or Blythe. Basically, somebody thought hey, wouldn’t this be a great financial investment – with hard work I can turn this into an important port and market. Except the location sucked, the money ran out, and eventually even the promoter was happy to sell his shares at a loss just to get away from the damn marsh bugs. Meanwhile the place shows up on all the maps as The Furthest Reaches of the Lunar Empire. But in truth it is probably more relevant to impressionable imaginations in Glamour than to anyone in Prax. Including its own residents. If I recall the Moonson freeform even had its own take on John Law’s Mississippi Company with Corflu as La Mobile.
Please, let’s call the Magnificent Sultan of the River Flotilla what he is. If it is the Red Navy, it is no doubt because the Oslir River is orange-brown with mud. I do wonder if the river flotilla is a separate thing from the Lunar Army.Moon Boats of course serve the Red Emperor. But there aren’t a lot of them. Heck, I expect the only Moon Boat Prax ever saw was the one that took the Coders there.
Ralios is a syncretic mash-up of “Barbarian Old Gods”, Lightbringer cults, and Hrestolism, along with the some troll and elf cults. Arkat’s Dark Empire unified this land for several centuries, but has been gone for nearly a thousand years. It is a mess of rival city-states, strange religious movements, and secret societies.Now an aggressively dynasty of warrior-kings threatens to conquer Safelster with the aid of intolerantly humanist wizards and tribes of warriors. For me, this is another fantastic Gloranthan setting. It is a different set of stories than Dragon Pass, perhaps even more strongly sword and sorcery in flavour, somewhere I could imagine Conan, Gorgik, or Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser hanging out.
Does anyone recall of hand the first published mention of Lunar moon boats. I recall them being present in special expansion to WBRM, but can’t find the reference and might be misremembering it!
Top right of a sheet of unpublished counters for WB&RM. Written under it is “see A&E pp5”. it’s stats are 1cf, 6MgF, cyclical MF with an *. The hero units one the sheet are old ones with Runes instead of pics.
As an aside, it is worth remembering how common lay membership is. In my adventuring party, one character – an initiate of Orlanth Thunderous and the Sun Dragon – is also lay member of Storm Bull, Humakt, and Issaries. But he has his limits – he refused to participate in Argan Argar worship as a lay member.For example, in the Lunar Empire, almost every free person is a lay member of the Red Emperor. In fact, many Pelorian cults include worship of the Red Emperor simply as a matter of routine. Of course, you don’t get much for that worship in the sense of magic or skill training, but you do get the benefits of being ruled by the Red Emperor!
Humakt is a popular cult for lay members. Pretty much every full time warrior in Sartar is a lay member of Humakt – he is the God of War after all. But far fewer people initiate into the cult.
ORLANTH REX LAY MEMBERAny initiate of Orlanth, Ernalda, or another Lightbringer cult may become a lay member of Orlanth Rex. A lay member must give an appropriate gift to an Orlanth Rex initiate, traditionally “a brave sword in battle, a praise song, or loyalty freely given.” The lay member swears to uphold the virtues and justice of Orlanth. The lay member must sacrifice 1 magic point on Orlanth Rex holy days and is expected to attend tribal assemblies.Where the cult is present, people that hold leadership positions in their clan must typically become lay members of Orlanth Rex. For example, one must be a lay member of Orlanth Rex to be a candidate for clan chief.
There is no Ernalda Regina cult.
Of all the unique architectural elements of Boldhome, the Pockets are to me the most fascinating. Dwarf-made and carved deep into the mountain cliffs, they are an impossible combination of the facades of Petra and Markarth (in Skyrim, which I suspect were inspired by Boldhome). They are accessed by stone roads that wind up the cliffs. Temples to Orlanth and to the tribes of Sartar mark the way.
A good source of visual inspiration for the Pockets are the tombs and treasuries of Petra, of course.
Boldhome is the largest settlement in Sartar, comparable in size to all of the other cities of Sartar put together. It is the religious, political, commercial, and cultural center of the kingdom – the center of the Orlanth Rex cult, and so much more. It is also physically BIG. Check out how big it is by seeing how much space it occupies in the Quivin Mountains. And imagine it surrounded by high snow-capped peaks.But there is also so much right around Boldhome. The strange dragonewt city of High Wyrm. The terror birds of Bird Site. The gorge of Enothea’s Cut. The mountain refuge of the Broadview Inn. Not to mention the amazing stone road that cuts right through the Quivin Mountains, with the stone Geo’s Ridge Inn as a refuge and hospice. One might even think that it would make a perfect home base for a Sartar campaign!
Now what should be obvious is that most Sartarites have at least some familiarity with Boldhome. They’ve been there for religious ceremonies, or for trade, or on tribal business. And it is amazing. And even the rural tribes folk can’t help but be influenced by it.
It is about a day’s journey from Boldhome to Jonstown, or from Boldhome to Swenstown. Wilmskirk is a bit farther – it takes about two days to go from Boldhome to there. But if you lived in any of those cities, regularly traveling to Boldhome would not be out of the question, and of course if you are on tribal or clan business, you can always guest at your tribal manor.Clearwine is about four days away, which is a bit of a discouragement for ordinary travel.
Which really helps to illustrate the Colymar and Lismelder as the most backcountry of the Old Sartarite tribes. The Colymar might be numerous and powerful, but they are also hillbillies.
Bird Site, this is a Demi-bird breeding and nesting place. The Demi-birds are terror birds and the mounts of the dragonewts. I imagine there are hundreds, perhaps even more than a thousand demibirds there. No doubt the dragonewts provide them well fed with meat, but still I imagine bands of Demi-birds range around the Quivin Mountains hunting for meat.
But it is pretty interesting that there is a dragonewt city so close to Boldhome!
Ice Wall is also pretty cool – it is a small hanging glacier along the side of the narrow valley!
As an additional source of inspiration, here’s what we were basing Quivin Mountain on:
From Geo’s Ridge Inn on the road is easily blocked by a handful of warriors. Afterwards there is Orlaman’s Keep, as a garrison and watchpoint. The entry into Boldhome valley itself is fortified and easily blocked, so any force trying to get it has a problem with supply, as there is nothing there to forage or scavenge.
So what are dragons? One theory is that they are manifestations of Glorantha’s unconscious – primordial beings that predate even Chaos. They are intrinsically connected with the Cosmic Egg and the birth of Glorantha. By this reasoning, the dragon-slaying myths of Orlanth and Yelm are cosmogenic in nature. Both deities impose order on the unshaped and dangerous world by defeating the dragon that threatens gods and mortals.Or seen from the dragon’s perspective, the dragon’s act of self-sacrifice allows the world to be created. The Cosmic Dragon predates existence and even Chaos. As the Cosmic Dragon meditated, Orxili grappled with it and sought to interfere with its composure. The Cosmic Dragon overcame Orxili and wrapped itself around it, cutting it off from the outer, more mystical realms. The body inside changed and grew and became the Cosmic Egg from which the cosmos was created.Many human philosophers identify Orxili with Chaos – the Primal Void. The Kralori and the Empire of Wyrms Friends held the Cosmic Dragon to be the greatest of all deities, solely responsible for the creation of the world, while the God Learners gave it a masculine bent and paired it with the world-wide goddess Glorantha.The True Dragons are all emanations of the Cosmic Dragon, through the Ancestral Dragons. Each entanglement that their creator committed to, were created from birth of the Ancestral Dragons. This paradoxical creation is typical of draconic explanations. The Grand Ancestral Dragon was sacrificed and dismembered as a result of its willingness to accept the duty of the entanglements which its actions had brought about and resulted in its full integration into the world. By dying, the Dragon re-entered the world to fulfill its duties. To do otherwise, would destroy the basis for draconic existence.This draconic philosophy has been largely ignored by humans, at least in central and western Genertela, during the Third Age and was supplanted as a mystical path by the Lunar Way. But it comes back with a vengeance during the Hero Wars as Argrath and his followers explore the possibilities of the draconic philosophy. According to one popular story, Argrath had the possibility of avoiding the Hero Wars and all its suffering, but was reminded of his duties and re-entered the world to fulfil his duties as an agent of change.The Draconic philosophy represents an interesting alternative to the Lunar Way, and has some curious similarities and some profound differences. One might view the later Hero Wars as a violent attempt to create a synthesis of the two.
The Draconic Religion was a great source of frustration to the God Learners because it largely ignored the monomyth, concerning itself primarily with events of creation. Only a very few cults had much direct interaction with the dragons – really only Orlanth and to a much lesser extent Maran Gor and Yelm had much to do with the dragons. But Orlanth’s interaction with the dragons is core to his identity, making his cult very unusual, and perhaps explaining why Orlanth’s people made alliances with the dragons in each age – even if Orlanth is the Dragon Killer, that is still more interaction with the dragons than other gods.
Today’s little snippet from Sartar:
THE TRICERATOPS QUEEN
The Triceratops Queen is a priestess of an Earth Goddess who rules over a herd of triceratopses. From time to time, the matriarch of the herd selects a new Triceratops Queen based on unknown criteria. The new Queen then forms a bond with the matriarch triceratops. For the seven years that the priestess is in the role of Queen, she and the matriarch share an empathic bond similar to that between a priest and an allied spirit. The current Triceratops Queen is a comparatively young Maran Gor priestess named Yoranbora. Perhaps the most famous Triceratops Queen was Arene Thunderqueen, a granddaughter of Onelisin Saronil’s daughter, who commanded the triceratops herd to destroy Janastan.
A last comment on the various Chaos discussions. A lot of people seem to assume that people in Glorantha are clear about what constitutes “Chaos” – and of course, outside of the Storm Bull cult, there is no such certainty. In some places, like Talastar or the Wastes, the Storm Bull cult does act as a “final word” on whether something is Chaotic, but that is hardly universal, even among the Orlanthi or Praxians. Storm Bull is not always right – sometimes he says that folk who are clearly victims of Chaos are Chaotic. Other times, he says folk who are clearly Chaotic are not (for example, Red Goddess initiates cannot be sensed by the Bull, even though the Storm Bull cult holds her to be a Chaos Goddess).
In short, it is dangerous and wrong to assume that an Orlanthi who befriends a Telmori is somehow a bad cultist – any more than it is dangerous and wrong to assume than an Orlanthi who befriends a Seven Mothers cultist is somehow a bad cultist.Lines are of course drawn – Orlanth hates the Red Goddess, Bagog, Cacodemon, Gbaji, Krarsht, Mallia, Thanatar, Thed, and Vivamort, and views their cults as enemies. But the Seven Mothers is like Magasta, Mostal, Ourania, Sharagash, and even Pamalt – hostile but not enemies. And the Orlanth cult is actually only Neutral towards Telmor! And even Storm Bull is a little conflicted about Telmor, treating him as hostile rather than an enemy.
This comment seems important enough to make its own post rather than be hidden deep in a discussion on the Telmori. So with a few minor edits, here is is as its own thread:As for the Telmori being tainted by Chaos – of course being cursed by Chaos taints you with Chaos, and of course the Storm Bull cultists can sense that taint. That may not be just but it is what it is. Storm Bull is neither pragmatic or just.However, Orlanth is both pragmatic and just – far more so than Storm Bull – and Sartar was famed for both traits. Orlanth cannot sense Chaos – he judges folk on their deeds. Sartar made peace with the Telmori and ended a terrible war between the Telmori and the Orlanthi, Most importantly, Sartar ended that war in a way that all sides got what they wanted and more.And so Sartar has a bodyguard of Chaos tainted elite warriors. Does that upset many Storm Bull cultists? You bet! Do they take action against him? Nope. Sartar has Orlanth Rex’s magic and the Storm Bull cult is small in his lands. And the Telmori in his service performed incredible deeds. They are like the berserkers who served Harald Fairhair or Hrolf Kraki – fearsome and unnatural, but they serve a just leader and thus are made part of the social order. But if the Telmori do not serve Sartar, they return to being outside of the social order and a Chaotic nuisance.
And this is an important point to make – although Orlanth is certainly destructive, he is also certainly just (which is NOT the same as being truthful or honorable). Orlanth is not pitiless or without mercy. He makes peace with his enemies in order to save the cosmos.
Sartar was a super just and honourable mensch. If you worked with him, he always came to a Pareto Superior solution, and often even Pareto efficient and envy-free solutions. Because he really was pretty damn awesome.And the gods and spirits loved him.
As far as Chaosium publications go, there are no Pure Ones outside of Ralios. All the Telmori who made the long march across Fronela and Peloria are descended from those who accepted Nysalor.
Sartar cast Command Priest or his version of City Harmony. And said that the Telmori were victims of Chaos, not perpetrators of it. And that the Telmori would be protected by Hauberk Jon and all those who pledge to uphold the peace. Although Sartar never raised a weapon against anyone, he had plenty of folk who would do that on his behalf.But I actually kind of doubt it. Sartar also aided the Pol-Joni, who dominate the local Storm Bull cult, and enabled them to defeat the Praxians that sought their doom. And the Pol-Joni sure as hell weren’t going to look at Sartar’s gift horse in the mouth.
Argrath’s “attack” or not attack is up to your players. The Telmori do rebel against Argrath (they have a lot of 7 Mothers worshipers and a lot of reasons to hate the Jonstown tribes). But whether the Telmori are destroyed or not is an open question.
Another is that Lunar emissaries get many of the Telmori to rebel against Argrath and his Barbarian Horse.
And yes, the Seven Mothers is tied with Humakt for the second tier cult of the Telmori. Even if we God Learners know that the Red Moon is not directly responsible for the transformations, it does seem more than a mere coincidence.And most Telmori figure it is connected to the Red Moon.
Sartar never even promised to lift the curse, and ultimately his promise of peace couldn’t last. But the Lunars CAN lift the curse – look at Hon-eel and the werewolves of Sylila!
And a last bit of information for the day.
This is a snippet from the Sartar Book:
Born in 1572, Sarostip Coldeye is a Sword of Humakt and part of the ruling dynasty of the Malani tribe. Sarostip abdicated all clan and tribal offices and severed himself from his kin, so that he might carry out a terrible deed without his kin suffering the consequences. In 1624, on Humakt’s high holy day, Sarostip led a band of Humakti from the Malani and other tribes and killed the Lunar puppet ruler of Sartar, Temertain the Philosopher. Sarostip led his killers along a secret path in the Hero Plane to gain entry directly into the Prince’s stronghold. After killing Temertain, Sarostip’s Humakti cut their way through the Lunar priests, Telmori warriors, and Sartarite bodyguards of Temertain, killing any that would defend the prince. Sarostip was a member of the Sartar High Council in both 1613 and 1625, and now serves on the City Ring in Jonstown. He is widely seen as the leader of the Humakt cult in Sartar. He is often away at Two Ridge Fort and speaks for the Malani Tribe at Jonstown. He is a renowned weapons master and has quested deep into the Underworld on behalf of his god. On one such quest, he gained his ability to kill with his left eye, at the cost of sight in that eye. He has pledged loyalty to Prince Kallyr Starbrow, and has a well-known rivalry with the Taraling clan.
Lists of things I have heard are tainted with Chaos:
The list is intended to be illustrative not comprehensive.
- Broo (everyone agrees)
- Scorpion Men (everyone agrees)
- Dragonsnails (everyone agrees)
- Crimson Bat (everyone agrees)
- Vampires (everyone agrees)
- Zombies (the Zorak Zoran cult disagrees)
- Animated Skeletons (the Zorak Zoran cult disagrees)
- Telmori (most people think tainted or cursed by Chaos)
- Cave Trolls (most people think just tainted or cursed by Chaos)
- Red Goddess cultists (nearly everyone agrees)
- Seven Mothers cultists (most educated people disagree)
- Malkioni (most educated people disagree)
- Gbaji (everyone agrees)
- Cannibals (most agree but not everyone)
- Nysalor (most Pelorians disagree)
- Trickster (Orlanthi strongly disagree)
And we KNOW Storm Bulls often have false positives (and false negatives), and besides they are kind of crazy.
As an aside, the Storm Bull cult is an Enemy of the Seven Mothers and hates it more than Orlanth does (Orlanth is only hostile),
Another Sartarite group that is curiously neglected in many campaigns are the Telmori. There are 6500 Telmori – Chaos-tainted werewolves, disliked by every other tribe (except the ducks who are apathetic) who are nonetheless recognised as a tribe of Sartar.The werewolves of Sartar are NOT those presented in the Dorastor Book. They have over a century of direct contact with the House of Sartar, and served as a Royal Guard of werewolves for the Princes. During the Lunar Occupation they went on rampages, raiding and even destroying the Maboder tribe, until they were defeated by a Lunar Army led by Jomes Wulf. With Temertain they had a Prince again, but the “Philosopher King” feared and despised his own bodyguards, preferring the civilised Lunars. The Telmori are not unaware of civilization or typical Hsunchen primitives – they are familiar with Boldhome, have access to bronze (but rarely wear armor for obvious reasons) and have a surprising number of Humakt cultists. They are more like Úlfhéðnar or Sigmund and Sinfjötli, than the hunters presented in the Dorastor Book. They enjoy a deserved reputation as fearsome and merciless warriors who are invulnerable to most weapons when they assume wolf form. They are accompanied by huge dire wolves (their Wolfbrothers).Like berserkers in Viking epics, the Telmori are normally presented as the villains in Sartarite stories, but nonetheless formed the feared bodyguards and shock troops of the Sartarite princes.
In Sartar, there are more Telmori than there are Storm Bull cultists in all of Sartar. HOWEVER, Argrath is the head of a Storm Bull magical society and is supported by the more than 10,000 Storm Bull cultists of Prax. So he may change that calculation somewhat.
There are about 6500 Telmori in Sartar, about 10,000 in Dorastor, and about 75,000 in Ralios. Which do you think form the baseline for the culture?
The Seven Mothers is also fairly popular among the Telmori and surprisingly they have enough Issaries cultists to support a minor temple and enough Chalana Arroy cultists (!) to support a shrine.
The Telmori relationship with the Chaos-hating Orlanthi is similar to the relationship between Cave Trolls and the Chaos-hating trolls.
Just as New Pavis attracted settlers and exiles from Dragon Pass fleeing from the Lunar Empire, so did Sun County in Prax. Although Yelmalio is neutral towards the Seven Mothers, the cult is Hostile towards the Red Goddess. In addition, there has been a sporadic flow of Yelmalio cultists from Dragon Pass to Prax ever since Dorasor and Varthanis came to Prax around 1550. Some came because of feuds (especially that early first wave of settlers) but others came seeking adventure or in the service of their god.From distant Prax, some two weeks away from the great Sun Dome Temple, the golden temple of Monrogh must seem to gleam like the Sun.
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