A Sense of Scale

Submitted by Jeff on Mon, 07/11/2011 – 14:43

Third Age Glorantha is a Bronze Age (or early Iron Age) setting, with a scale that is more comparable to the Ancient World than the Classical or Medieval. Here’s a few thought experiments to give a sense of scale in both time and distance.

Comparative Chronology of Lunar Empire and Roman Empire in Germania and Gallia

As a thought experiment, I’ve put together a short comparative chronology of the Lunar Empire’s conquests in South Peloria and Dragon Pass and the Roman Empire conquests in Gaul and Germany. The dates are approximate and by 25 year intervals.

Roman DateRoman EventLunar DateLunar Event
-175 to -150Roman army reestablishes authority of Massalia in Provence1200-1225Red Goddess Born
-125Roman army captures Entremont. Roman colony founded at Aix-en-Provence1250Apotheosis of the Red Goddess, foundation of the Lunar Empire
-100Gallia Transalpina (later Narbonensis) organized as a Roman province. Teutons and Cimbri defeated by Romans at Aix.1275Jannisor’s War against the Empire. Alliance of Vanch, Imther, Sable Riders, and Dara Happan Tripolis defeated at Glamour.
-75Roman Social War. Civil Wars in Rome between Sulla and the Marians.1300Dara Happan Tripolis submits to Lunar Empire. Moonburn; Rist conquered. Lunar colony founded at Rist.
-50Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Gaul conquered.1325Sylila conquered by Hwarin Dalthippa. Dara-Ni conquered, Vanch defeated by Hwarin Dalthippa. Lunar colony founded at Jillaro.
-25Roman Civil War. Roman colony founded at Lyon. Germania Inferior and Germania Superior organized as Roman Provinces. Suebi cross the Rhine only to be defeated by Romans.1350Sylila organized as a Lunar satrapy. Daughter’s Road campaign conquers Saird for Lunar Empire. Kingdom of Tarsh founded in Dragon Pass. Lunar colony founded at Mirin’s Cross.
0Roman colonies founded at Trier and Mainz. Germania Magna organized as Roman Province1375Kingdom of Tarsh defeats Lunar army at Battle of Falling Hills. Alliance of Lunars and Tarshites defeat Opili at Battle of Quintus Vale. Sheng Seleris invades Lunar Empire.
25Alliance of Germanic tribes annihilate three Roman legions; Germania Magna lost to Roman Empire. Rhine River established as furthest boundary of Empire (with a few scattered beach-heads on far side of the river).1400Sheng Seleris conquers much of central Peloria. Red Emperor killed (but returns).
50Roman colony founded at Cologne.1425Red Emperor killed by Sheng Seleris (but later returns). Sylila takes Alkoth. Tarsh dominant power in south Peloria.
75Year of the Four Emperors – end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, beginning of Flavian dynasty. Modern Baden conquered by Roman Empire.1450Tarsh dominant in south Peloria. Sheng Seleris dominates northern and eastern Peloria.
100Roman Germany extended to Neckar River. Reorganization of Roman Gallic provinces. End of Flavian dynasty. Beginning of Nerva-Antonine dynasty.1475Tarshite civil war. Sylilans raid Tarsh. Sheng defeated and destroyed. Hon-Eel returns with maize.
1251500Tarshites resist Lunar Empire until Hon-Eel marries Tarshite king. Lunar colony founded at Furthest.
150Roman Limes stabilized between Main and Danube rivers.1525Night of Horror defeats Pentans at high cost.
175Germanic tribes invade along Upper and Middle Danube as the First Marcomannic Wars; Limes hold1550Lunar kings of Tarsh overthrown.
200Local revolt around Strasbourg. Germanic tribes invade along Upper and Middle Danube as the Second Marcomannic Wars; Limes hold. Year of the Five Emperors. End of Nerva-Antonine dynasty. Beginning of Severan dynasty.1575Lunar kings of Tarsh restored by Phargentes. Lunar Provinces organized. Errio-Unit clan takes Sylila.
2251600Lunar provinces reorganized. High King of Dragon Pass defeated by Lunar Empire at Grizzly Peak.
250Germanic confederation crosses Rhine and invades Gaul. Emperor Alexander Severus overthrown by army at Mainz. Year of the Six Emperors. Crisis of the Third Century. End of Severan dynasty. Rise of Barracks Emperors. Roman Limes abandoned. Empire retreats to the Rhine River. German tribes occupy former Imperial lands between Limes and the Rhine.1625Sartar conquered by Lunar Empire. Prax conquered by Lunar Empire. Brief rebellion by Sartarites defeated. Holy Country invaded by Lunar Empire. Orlanth defeated at Whitewall (briefly). Lunar Army defeated by Argrath and Harrek.Lunar provincial leadership and army devoured by dragon. Sartar and Holy Country lost. Crisis in the Lunar Provinces.

From the comparative chronology, it is pretty obvious that Rome’s influence on Gaul and Germania was longer and probably far more pervasive than the Lunar influence on south Peloria. From 1375-1475, the Lunar Empire lost south Peloria, absorbed in its own struggle with Sheng Seleris. In contrast, only in Magna Germania was the Roman influence short-lived. In the Agri Decumates (the land within the Limes), the Romans ruled uninterrupted for about a century, or about as long as the Lunars ruled Tarsh.

As an aside, I think the Lunars did not found anywhere near as many colonies as their Roman counterparts. Here’s my list of significant Lunar settlements:

  • Rist. Lunar colony founded circa 1300 S.T.
  • Jillaro. Technically New Jillaro, Lunar colony founded circa 1325 S.T.
  • Mirin’s Cross. Ancient city conquered by Lunars. Lunar colony founded circa 1350 S.T.
  • Furthest. Lunar colony founded at Orlanthi market town circa 1500 S.T.

Possibly a few others exist as well. Frex, Fyllich Kwan might be a Lunar colony (or might not). But I think those four are the main Lunar colonial settlements in southern Peloria. Otherwise, what the Lunars have are transient populations of soldiers and merchants, combined with local aristocrats who seek to emulate or endear themselves to the Lunar Empire.


As the following two charts demonstrate, distances in South Peloria are comparable to Roman Gaul and Germany. These charts measure the approximate distance between cities “as the Orlanthi flies” and do not measure the actual travel distance, but provide a rough scale.

Roman CitiesDistance
Marseille to Lyon173 miles (277 kilometers)
Lyon to Trier289 miles (465 kilometers)
Reims to Trier107 miles (174 kilometers)
Trier to Cologne84 miles (135 kilometers)
Trier to Mainz74 miles (119 kilometers)
Marseille to Trier462 miles (739 kilometers)
Gloranthan CitiesDistance
Glamour to Jillaro174 miles (278 kilometers)
Alkoth to Jillaro50 miles (80 kilometers)
Jillaro to Mirin’s Cross126 miles (202 kilometers)
Mirin’s Cross to Furthest132 miles (211 kilometers)
Glamour to Furthest432 miles (691 kilometers)

By means of a final comparison, the distance between Baghdad and Tehran is 431 miles (almost exactly the same as from Glamour to Furthest).

These distances suggest the Bronze Age, early-Iron Age nature of Glorantha. The Lunar Empire is not comparable in size to the Roman Empire, but to the Assyrian Empire or the Babylonian Empire of Hammurabi or Nebuchadnezzar – or to a Roman Empire that conquered Gaul and Spain, but never the Greek East.

To those who might say that is too small – the Assyrians ruled many different cultures, with many different religions and languages. And Roman Gaul and Germania was far more diverse than you might think – Greeks, Ligurians, Gauls, Germans, Roman Italians, and even some Phoenicians and Syrians.

An additional observation: the peoples of southern Peloria have been in contact for many centuries. They have influenced each other and been influenced by each other. The Orlanthi of South Peloria likely look to Dara Happa for the trappings of status and prestige – even as they reject Dara Happan social mores and religion.

Similarly, the Dara Happan and Lunar settlements of South Peloria (Henjarl, Dara-Ni, Terarir, Mirin’s Cross, and Furthest) also have been influenced by their Orlanthi neighbors. They have “adopted” some Orlanthi cults (particularly Ernalda and Barntar), even as they reject Orlanth himself. They may look to the Orlanthi for the trappings of heroism and martial prowess – even as they reject Orlanthi social mores and religion.


Submitted by Jeff Richard (not verified) on Fri, 09/03/2012 – 15:29.

That maps sounds fascinating! What is the book? I agree that is a model well suited for the Lunar Empire, whose periphery can be viewed as an endless series of rebellions and conquests.

Submitted by Sergio Mascarenhas (not verified) on Fri, 09/03/2012 – 15:24.

Fascinating stuff. Another place you can look to for comparisions is India. I’ve got an enlightning map in a book about the Mughals that I think also applies to previous periods such as Ashoka’s times. Basically it places the Delhi area as the centre of power with a cirle that goes from Calcuta in the east to Bombay in the south-west (leaving the Dravidian south India out) up to Afganistan in the north. This circle the are of control of the centre. The basic idea is that the perifery is always trying to get out of the influence of the centre, so there’s always a rebellion going on somewhere. When the rebellion happens in one corner of the empire the centre as to move and squash it, but it needs to come back to the centre in time to prepare for another rebellion at another corner of the empire. If the central ruler does not come back and stays at the periphery, then the new rebellion will be able to move and take hold of the centre. So the circle defines how far the centre can move in time to go to the periohery, control a rebellion, and move back to the centre before another rebellion starts. Somehow I think this is a model that is well suited for the Lunar empire, specially when we look at those maps of Glorantha with the circle of the glow line. I would say that like in India the empire can extend as much and not more than how far he can move resources to control its periphery and back to centre before another periphery moves in.

Submitted by Jeff Richard (not verified) on Sat, 19/11/2011 – 14:35.

Unlike Roman Gaul, much of Peloria was lost to the Lunar Empire from 1375 to 1460+. For almost a century, the Lunar Way existed in only Carmania, Sylila, and Glamour itself. Outside of Sylila, all of the southern lands were lost to the empire, only being regained between 1460 and 1555. So the period of rule by Lunar kings in the Provinces is likely much shorter than you are imagining. Moreoever, the Orlanthi of the Provinces possess their own ancient traditions of literacy and collective identity not shared by the Gallic tribes (who as you know used Greek and Latin as their system of writing). For what it is worth, let me rephrase your last section: “All the core provinces of the Lunar Empire speak related Pelorian tongues (the Carmanians in the West Reaches being ruling elites over Pelorian speaking populations) and worship deities that were syncretised quite easily with the ancient Dara Happa pantheon.” Heck in the First Age, the Dara Happan Yelm cult was syncretised with the Orlanthi Evil Emperor and that of Orlanth with the Dara Happan Rebellus Terminus and Umatum. There’s much more familiarity between Theyalan and Pelorian than you seem to suggest. Finally Glorantha is a fantasy setting with its own absurdities. Just like Tolkien had orcs of mysterious breeding (where do orcs actually come from), 3 foot tall Midland farmers, and talking trees who lost their wives.

Submitted by R0ger (not verified) on Mon, 14/11/2011 – 07:53.

Wrote the above comment before reading the World of Glorantha yahoo group discussion where you, Chris and others make some good points particularly on the conservative power of magic. If the power of faith in a merely hypothetical deity can keep the Amish living firmly in the seventeenth century within sight of freeways and skyscrapers, then maybe the Balazarings can stubbornly stay in the stone age despite being mere days away from vastly more advanced cultures. But it is still all too damn small….

Submitted by R0ger (not verified) on Mon, 14/11/2011 – 07:05.

Still find it way too small – a legacy of that unfortunate map in the RQ book equating Genertela with the USA that really should have been retconned away. And the missing element in your comparison is the speed and degree of assimilation. A couple of generations after Caesar’s conquests the Gallic aristocracy had been fully Romanised – i.e. taken Roman names and citizenship, built villas and town houses, had their children educated in Latin etc (in fact the archaeology suggests that this process began way before the formal conquest by Caesar). Several centuries after Caesar even the peasants appear to have largely spoken Latin (at least as far as one can tell from the toponymy and that the Romance languages of medieval France contain few Celtic words) with their being considerable academic debate whether anywhere other than a few rural backwaters still spoke any form of Gallic by the fifth century (St Jerome’s much-quoted comment about the Treviri and Galatians speaking the same tongue was in a commentary on St Paul’s epistle to the Galatians and in the opinion of many scholars refers to the language spoken in Paul’s time rather than his own – ancient writers having a very elastic concept of time that led them to equate the Goths with the Scythians of a thousand years earlier, to use terms like hoplite for late Roman legionaries and so on). The religion had also been fully assimilated with Gallic gods subsumed into standard Greco-Roman deities long before the conversion to Christianity (which when it came was remarkably rapid and complete – in 312 there were relatively few Christians in Gaul by 410 there were relatively few pagans). So by your analogy I would expect Peloria to have been far more fully assimilated to the Lunar Way by 1625 than we are told that it is. As for Assyria barring its brief period of over-extension under Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal when it reached into Egypt and Asia Minor, I’d argue that it was far more compact culturally and above all linguistically than you depict. All of the core provinces spoke related Semitic tongues (the neo-Hittites and Hurrians in Syria being ruling elites over Aramaic speaking populations) and worshipped deities that could be syncretised quite easily with the ancient Mesopotamian pantheon. I simply can’t see the degree of difference between Babylonia and Akkad and Syria that there ‘is’ between say Tarsh and Pelanda and Dara Happa. But if I can suspend my disbelief in vegetarian cannibal elves, Borg-like dwarfs, Grotarons and every weird little people having its own pantheon of deities then I can switch off everything I know about ancient history and geography. Its just easier if you don’t rub our noses in the absurdities of the setting….

Submitted by Jeff Richard (not verified) on Tue, 08/11/2011 – 11:22.

Those distances are “as the Orlanthi flies” and not the actual travel routes (which can easily increase the distance traveled by 50% or more). Speed on rivers really depends on the current (if a barge needs to be towed upriver from shore, it goes a LOT slower than 50-60 km/day). From personal experience, I’d treat those travel rates with a lot of suspicion – it really depends on what they are traveling on (is it on the Daughter’s Road or is it unescorted travel through wilderness?).

Submitted by Hervé (not verified) on Tue, 08/11/2011 – 01:57.

About distances : a man can walk 20 km/day or ride 30 km/day, which means a trip from Glamour to Furthest takes about 22 days riding. But the Oslir and the many other, lesser rivers allow for higher move rates, even going upriver (50-60 km/day). So going from Glamour to Furthest takes only 12-13 days by river, and it’s twice faster the other way around. I always wondered how much these move rates would be affected by Mobility Magics.

Submitted by Jeff Richard (not verified) on Mon, 07/11/2011 – 15:12.

It is also worth keeping in mind that the cities of Mesopotamia were very diverse – even without getting to the hill peopels to the north, east, and west. Multiple languages, wildly different cults and religions, and centuries of warfare and conflict. If you want to see Alexander or Darius in Glorantha – look to the Bright Empire of Nysalor (which briefly included or the short-lived (but immense) empire of Sheng Seleris. The Lunar Empire aspires to that size (and very briefly attains it), but ultimately fails.

Submitted by Phersu (not verified) on Mon, 07/11/2011 – 14:59.

Very interesting. I thought the Lunar Empire was too small compared to the Persian Empire or Alexander’s Empire and I wanted to change the scale “IMG” but I never thought about this Assyrian analogy. But after all even Dara Happan ancient cities have enough differences that we can admit there would still be many differences between the various Pelorian satrapies and the “Barbarian Belt”.

Jeff Richard says: September 4, 2013 at 8:06 am

I agree – Oraya is the major Lunar settlement area. Hon-eel brought tens of thousands of colonists to Oraya between 1480 and 1506, and Oraya and the Redlands are still an area where ambitious peasants can farm their own land. But Oraya is more like the American frontier or the settlement of the Eurasian steppes than the Roman military colony.The Arrolian Properties were settled by tens of thousands fleeing Sheng Seleris and the Nomad Wars.The Temples of the Reaching Moon (Furthest, Mirin’s Cross, Jillaro, Kitor, Good Place, Torang, and Palbar) are exactly that. But there are only 7 (not including the special Glowspot from Graclodont).

 Harald Smith says: September 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm 

On other frontiers, Oraya would seem to be a major Lunar colony, and to a lesser extent the Arrolian Properties. I would also think that the Temples of the Reaching Moon serve as small colonies in their respective areas.

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