Queen Leika Blackspear has got to be one of the toughest survivors in Sartarite tribal history. Once an adventurer, she became the Colymar tribal king after her second cousin King Kallai Rockbuster and his wife Beneva Chan were exiled by the Lunar Empire following in the wake of Starbrow’s Rebellion. She managed to lead the tribe for a few years before Kallai’s son Korlmhy (her second cousin once removed) returned from exile and overthrew her with Lunar military aid. Leika took the Black Spear – the sacred regalia of the tribe – and fled to Whitewall, where she joined the household of King Broyan (and where she gained an intense personal rivalry with another exile – Kallyr Starbrow). For the next decade, she fought against the Lunar Empire, defending Whitewall, in the Hendriki uprising, in Nochet, and at the Battle of Pennel Ford. In 1625, Leika was present when King Broyan was killed by Lunar magic, and when the Dragonrise happened, Leika did not follow Kallyr to Boldhome but went to Clearwine Fort with her companions. Finding that Korlmhy was one of those missing at the Dragonrise, she proclaimed to a hastily gathered assembly that she was never lawfully deposed – to which the assembly agreed. Leika did not aid Kallyr at Dangerford, although she was among those tribal leaders who later proclaimed Starbrow Prince of Sartar. Her focus was on rebuilding her tribe after years of misrule by her cousin. She reluctantly gave minimal support to Kallyr’s Lightbringer Quest, but the tribe suffered less than the others after its failure. The next year, Leika fought alongside Kallyr against the Lunar Army at the Battle of the Queens, and after the death of the Prince, Leika led the Sartarites to victory over the Lunar Army. However, Leika lacked the connection to the Sartar Dynasty that could have made her Prince. So after Kallyr’s body was burned in Boldhome, Leika and her supporters returned to Clearwine Fort to regroup.
One of the things I love about the Colymar “royal dynasty” is how interwoven it is. Kallai is the second cousin to Leika, who is the cousin of Londra of Londros and the Temple of the Wooden Sword. Meanwhile Beneva Chan is the niece of Estavor and Dangment – the two brothers who led the tribe from 1582 to 1598. In turn, Korlmhy “Blackmor” is the son of Kallai and Beneva Chan – and brother of Erenava Chan, the current High Priestess of the Clearwine Earth Temple. And our RQG preens fit into this soap opera, as Yanioth and Vasana are cousins of both Korlmhy and Erenava Chan, and Harmast is a second cousin to almost all of these folk. This is how a lot of these Sartarite tribal families work – we might have different clans involved here, but there is also a network of kinship connections that cross clan boundaries. And these communities aren’t so big that people don’t know each other.
When I run Leika, I think of her as someone intensely loyal to her tribe, ambitious, and someone who learned a lot over the last decade in the Elite School of Hard Knocks. Sure, she is still the woman who led the daring expedition into the Caves of Chaos in Snakepipe Hollow to establish her claims to tribal leadership, but she’s now seen as much war as Starbrow, experience betrayal from her own kin, exile, and seen how difficult it is to hold a coalition of allies together. When she fails to get support for her bid to be Prince, she throws her support and resources behind Argrath Whitebull (whom she probably knows from her time in Esrolia).
In the end, I think she ends up influencing the Colymar tribe more than any leader since Colymar and his son Kagradus.
To be Prince of Sartar means being High Priest of Sartar the God, who is also the big Orlanth Rex cult (and allows one to be Orlanth Rex of all the tribes that acclaim you). That requires a link to Sartar himself – and in practice it requires a dynastic tie. Harrek might be able to make himself Lord of Boldhome or King of whatever he wants to call himself king of, but that’s not the same as being Prince of Sartar.
She can’t be initiated into the cult of Sartar. It is ancestor worship at its core. There’s a myriad of cults with elements of that – Daka Fal, Waha, all the Hykimi cults, many Yelm subcults, Kyger Litor, etc. The only difference here is that Sartar became a god a little over 120 years ago, and so his descendants are still a pretty limited group. Give it a few centuries, and probably half of Sartar would be able to claim descent.
It is far easier to contact spirits and gods that you are descended from is pretty strong in the setting and has been for a long time. (see the Xeotam Dialogues or Orlanth himself). The Kingdom of Sartar is not a “meritocracy” or a “the most morally righteous person rules”. It uses the magic of Sartar the God (and his dynastic successor) to hold together a score or more of fractious Orlanthi tribes, keep order in the cities, and maintain the roads and other royal symbols. Given that the priests of that god MUST be descended from Sartar, and Sartar lived and died a little over a century ago, that pool of potential candidates is limited.
One of the interesting elements for Leika (and Kallyr) is that although we call her in English by the feminine “queen”, she is a tribal Rex – a king – and the local manifestation of Orlanth Rex. And that means that Leika (and Kallyr) has a wife, at least for ceremonial purposes. There are stories that suggest that Kallyr’s wife was Ernaldesta the Vigorous (although she had other husbands). And if I recall Ereneva Chan is Leika’s wife. Which sets up two parallel pairs of female king-female Earth Priestess partnerships in Sartar. And interestingly both sides of that partnership are rivals, as Ereneva Chan intensely dislikes Kallyr, and blames Starbrow for the death of her father, exile of her mother, and even her brother’s descent into madness and treason.
Whether these marriages are romantic love-matches or purely ceremonial ritual matters is up to your campaign. In my campaign Kallyr and Ernaldesta are very close, while Leika and Erenava are a completely business-like relationship.
So it could be two men? Yes – if there is a male Ernalda priestess available.Again it is the divine archetypes that matter – the Orlanth Rex needs to marry (at least ceremonially) Ernalda. That’s part of the language of rule, that gives the Rex oversight over the Earth (think over the lands and herds). But this can be a purely ceremonial affair. Or not, depending on the individuals.For example King Kallai was married to Beneva Chan the High Priestess of the Clearwine Earth Temple. That marriage was clearly more than ceremonial, as they had plenty of kids together. But I can certainly imagine plenty of cases where the Orlanth Rex “marries” the Earth Priestess only for ceremonial and ritual purposes. The magic works either way.
And the Nandan subcult makes it entirely possible to have a “male” Ernalda Priestess. Obviously at a certain point Orlanthi terminology about sex and gender is going to be different from our own (they recognise four “biological” sexes and six “cultural” genders”), and don’t have a lot of our own taboos. So it could just be that the Orlanthi would say “the Rex marries the Priestess”, and that’s the end of the discussion for them.
Leika Beti Ballista. The original player character was actually called Betty Ballista. Which we can all agree is not a Gloranthan name. Greg renamed her Leika to be included in his history of Dragon Pass and his Epic Game (which ultimately got incorporated into King of Sartar). But since Ballista isn’t something you can carry around in RQG AND that her possession of the Black Spear would have been her defining feature in 1615-1625, Greg started calling her Leika Blackspear. Which is what we now use.
Leika, like most of the Colymar ruling group, blames Kallyr for launching a rebellion when the tribes weren’t ready and didn’t really have a long-term chance at success. As a result, Leika’s cousin Kallai was exiled and later died, and the Colymar, who had been pretty much independent of the Empire, were subject to imperial diktat.
At Whitewall, Leika came face to face with Kallyr, and that experience hardened and strengthened her assessment of Starbrow.
Leika’s cousin was exiled and later killed because of Starbrow’s Rebellion. Her family suffered tragedies – outlawry, assassination, betrayal, etc. Kallyr is seen as the cause of that misfortune.
And Kallyr is not one to apologise or suggest she may have been wrong. If anything, she would likely launch into attacks on Leika for such accusations, and accuse Leika of lack of patriotism, disloyalty, ambition, whatever.
Although countless tales sing about the glorious moment of Starbrow’s Rebellion, most of the Sartar High Council didn’t want to have it happen, and most of them (and those around them) consider it to have been a disastrous failure.
And I doubt there is any romantic focus on Broyan [for Leika]. In our House Campaign he ended up ensnared into Esrolian marital ambitions.
A similar story is true with Blackmoor, who was also originally a player character, but Greg then worked elements of him into his history of Dragon Pass and his Epic Game. There’s multiple variations of the character presented in King of Sartar/Genertela boxed set/High Council of Sartar, including one version where he was a Lunar hostage before becoming king. Because the background of having a Lunar client king of the Colymar prior to the Dragonrise is something a GM can make a lot out of (especially if one or more of the player characters are related to him) all of those options are “officially” on the table.
Check out the background of Vasana and Yanioth. They have an aristocratic mother but not an aristocratic father. Same is true with Kallyr and Argrath. The class difference is smaller than you might think.
As Leika’s story shows, all these tribal leaders have links of marriage or cult, or shared service in war.
Korlmhy? Look at page 21 of the GM Pack and note that there is listed a both a Korlmhy AND a Kangharl as tribal king for 1615 to 1625. One is also listed as a Lunar Hostage. Obviously only one was actually king, but what is presented there are two different possible stories in one genealogy chart.
Here’s the hand-drawn original version of the genealogy chart.