What is Glorantha?
Glorantha is the mythical world that can be found on the Other Side of our consciousness. First discovered by Greg Stafford over forty years ago, Glorantha has been explored in such games as Dragon Pass, RuneQuest, HeroQuest, and King of Dragon Pass.
Glorantha is a cube of earth some 5000 miles wide surrounded by the limitless Sramak’s River. Above the world is the Sky Dome, where the stars and planets nightly dance across the heavens. Each morning the Sun emerges from the Gates of Dawn, and travels across the Sky Dome until it reaches the Gates of Dusk. The Sun then travels through the Underworld during the Night before remerging from the Gates of Dawn to begin a new Day.
The Inner World, the world of mortals, is shaped like a huge cube of earth floating in a limitless sea of water. Two major continents, named Genertela and Pamaltela, and a myriad of minor islands rise from this mass above the surface of the infinite sea.
Genertela is the northern continent of Glorantha. It is largely temperate in climate; its winds generally blow west to east, and often from the north during Dark Season. The continent is 3,125 miles long and 1,100 miles wide. The popular settings of Dragon Pass, the Holy Country, the Lunar Empire, and Prax are all in Genertela.
Pamaltela is the southern continent of Glorantha. The continent is 4200 miles long and 2000 miles wide. Winds generally blow east to west, and occasionally from the hot south. Most of Pamaltela is tropical in climate. Although the Sun comes closer to Pamaltela in the winter and is further away in the summer, that does not mean the southern continent’s seasons are reversed from those in Genertela, as the summer days are still longer and hotter, winter days cooler and shorter.
Although there are scores of human cultures in Glorantha, eight are most widespread. The cultures are arranged by their predominant type of social organization: primitive, nomadic, chiefdom, or civilized. The most technologically advanced human cultures are comparable to our Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (without the iron). The eight cultures are:
- The primitive hunter-gatherers represented by the Hsunchen and the Doraddi cultures;
- The nomadic pastoralists, represented by the Praxian culture;
- The bronze-working tribal chiefdoms, represented by the Orlanthi culture; and
- The urban civilizations, represented by the Pelorian, Fonritian, Western, and Kralorelan cultures.
The elder races of Glorantha include:
- The elves or Aldryami – walking sentient plants that have a superficial resemblance to humans;
- The dwarves or Mostali – immortal crafters that seek to repair the World Machine broken by the Gods War;
- The trolls or Uz – creatures of darkness descended from underworld demons and cursed by the gods of Light;
- The Dragonnewts – the mystic dragon-men who endlessly reincarnate with all their memories from their countless past lives.
Although the current Gloranthan Time is believed by many to have begun only 1600 years ago, its mythology and history go back much further, for thousands or even millions of years. Although much of history is dependent on and colored by the local culture, some universal events are believed by many to have taken place. A group of magical philosophers called the God Learners spent centuries codifying the myths and history of Glorantha, and although they are now extinct and hated, the effects of their work can be felt in much modern scholarly work.
Dragon Pass is destined to be central battleground for the Hero Wars and is a popular setting for Gloranthan games.
A brief overview of the city of Nochet, one of the greatest cities in Glorantha and ruled by queens and matriarchs.
In Glorantha, the gods and goddesses are real, and play an active and important part in most major events through their followers and cults. The Sun, the Earth, the Air, the Water, the Darkness, and the Moon all have powerful deities associated with them, as do powers such as Death, Life, Change, Stasis, Illusion, Truth, Disorder, and Harmony. There are lesser deities to such things as cats, cows, boats, vengeance, volcanoes, and more.
The Gloranthan Prosopaedia provides an objective description of many of the major deities of Glorantha.
Want more information?
Search the wiki and consult the Guide to Glorantha
Here are some links to start with:
- What are the Major Cultures of Glorantha?
- What are the Runes?
- Map of Glorantha
- Roleplaying in Glorantha
- A Timeline of Third Age Dragon Pass and the surrounding areas (2021)
- Gloranthan Readings
- Gloranthan Songbook
- Greg Sez (1997-)
- History and Mythology of Glorantha
- Introduction to Runes
- Moon Phases
- Myth: The Birth of the Minotaur
- Notes on the Structure of Glorantha
- Pelandan Cosmology
- Personalities of Glorantha – Blueface the Shaman (1999)
- Personalities of Glorantha – Count Julan
- Personalities of Glorantha – Cragspider the Firewitch (1999)
- Personalities of Glorantha – Fazzur Wideread
- Personalities of Glorantha – Gondo Holst (1999)
- Personalities of Glorantha – Joh Mith
- Personalities of Glorantha – Londra of Londros
- Personalities of Glorantha – Ruric Runespear
- Personality of the Month – Granny Keeneye
- Somewhere in Sartar