Quick Summary of Gloranthan Cultures: Part 3

Submitted by Jeff on Tue, 17/04/2012 – 06:15

One of the many things I am excited about regarding the forthcoming Guide to Glorantha is the art. We will be spending more on art and maps than on any previous Moon Design book, and Greg, Dan Barker, and I have spent a LOT of time pondering the look of various cultures for this book. We commissioned several superb fantasy artists to work on this book and I am pretty certain people will be very impressed by the results.

Here’s a summary of various Gloranthan cultures that went to one of our artists. These are NOT the detailed descriptions for any specific sketch, but a brief overview for a series of seven pictures. Some summaries are longer than others, for no particularly good reason. I will be posting more on this project soon.

Hsunchen culture. Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Animist (spirit worshipping) religion that believes their souls are the same as their totem animals (bear, deer, eagle, lion, reindeer, tiger, wolf, yak, etc.).

Representatives: Male Bear totem hunter, female Reindeer totem snake shaman

Doraddi culture. Neolithic hunter-gatherer/horticulturalists, very superficially similar to the early Bantu speaking nomadic pastoralists. Worships a complex pantheon of many gods and spirits, with very powerful shamans.

Representatives: Male Arbennan walker, female Kresh matriarch.

Praxian culture. Nomadic pastoralists. Each tribe rides a distinctive animal (most important are Sable Antelope, High Llama or Alticamelus, Impala, and Bison) and maintains its own unique traditions, hairstyle, tribal markings, etc. Worships gods and spirits, most important Waha the Butcher, Eiritha the Cow Mother, and Storm Bull.

Representatives: Male High Llama Rider warrior, female Sable Rider clan leader.

Orlanthi culture. Bronze Age/early Iron Age mixed agrarian-pastoralists. The Orlanthi are a heroic bronze age culture, organized by clan and tribe into (usually) short-lived kingdoms. They tattoo themselves with magical markings to symbolize their gods, their tribe, their status, etc. In general, most Orlanthi cultures can be compared to a mish-mash of Late Bronze Age, early Iron Age historical cultures. Combine heroic Mycenaean Greeks with Hallstatt Celts and pre-Roman Italians, and add some Hittite influences and some bits from the Rigveda, and add some flying, thunder and lightning wielding, warrior-magicians and you won’t be far off. They worship a pantheon of gods headed by Orlanth the Storm King and Ernalda the Earth Queen.

Representatives: Male Vesmonstran warrior, female Talastaring priestess.

Pelorian culture. Late Bronze Age/early Iron Age civilized agriculturalists belonging to ancient-city states united by a divine emperor. The ancient enemy of the Orlanthi (who nonetheless have centuries of cultural interaction with the Pelorians and vice versa), the Pelorians are ruled by a patriarchical nobility that claims descent from the Sun God and rigidly obsess about their spiritual and physical purity. The lower classes are lusty, laboring, creative, and utterly cowed by their rulers. Give Greek hoplites to the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians and you won’t be far off. They worship a pantheon of gods headed by Yelm the Sun Emperor (whom only nobles can worship – the lower classes worship Lodril the Earth God and Oria the Fertility Mother).

Representatives: Male Dara Happan noble, female Pelandan crafter.

Western culture.  Late Bronze Age/early Iron Age civilized agriculturalists who are organized into castes (Worker, Soldier, Noble, Wizard). They are literate, revere logic and philosophy, and reject worship of the gods in favor of direct use of magical forces for their own benefit, without using the gods as intermediaries. Their kingdoms are divided by sects who disagree about the role of caste, the moral limits of what can be used for magical power, etc. If you combine Greek philosophers with classical India, added Sassanid cataphracts and Jewish Kabbalists, and throw in a little Michael Moorcock, you won’t be far off.

Representatives: Male Seshnegi Lion Soldier, female Loskalmi Scholar-Knight

Kralorelan culture.  Late Bronze Age/early Iron Age civilized agriculturalists who claim to have been civilized for 10,000 generations. They are xenophobic and dismiss all other cultures as savages. The Kralorelans are ruled by meritocratic scholar bureaucrats and have a Dragon as an emperor. They worship a pantheon of gods and deified emperors, and are noted for their sorcerers, but their most powerful magicians are mystics who transcend the illusory laws of the cosmos through self-discipline and meditative techniques. If you combine Zhou and Han Dynasty China, and claim the emperor is a Draconic Buddha, you won’t be far off.

Representatives: Male draconic mystic, female scholar bureaucrat.

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