In 30 years of games that tied into Starbrow’s Rebellion and Kallyr, I have not seen one where all (not just most, but all) of the women players did not end up with a lasting dislike towards Kallyr Starbrow. And so did Greg – just read the notes on her personality from Sartar High Council.
Or to paraphrase some of the character bio material for the Sartar Book: But in the end, Kallyr’s biggest enemy was herself. She was proud, haughty, and volatile, and goes into fits of shouting and accusations against any who doubt her. Her loyalty to the nation of Sartar was unquestionable, but she would not allow it to be ruined by “fools and cowards.” Although many of her outbursts were for dramatic effect, her unapproachable personality made it difficult for her to work with strangers – people must earn her trust. As a result, she drew on those she knew and trusted – an increasingly narrow circle.
She was certainly heroic (even Leika didn’t challenge that!). She just exercised a lot of bad judgment – particularly in 1613. And then again in 1625. That is totally relevant to liking or disliking her – like Alciabes, she used her considerable Charisma to force a war when the Sartarite tribes were not ready (or really even supportive of it). Many died, more were exiled, and tribes that had been allowed to largely be autonomous ended up being more oppressed than before. Especially if you are playing characters from the Colymar or Culbrea tribes, there’s plenty of reasons to dislike her!
She’s a fascinating figure, that’s for sure. She probably was the right person to start a rebellion, but the wrong person to lead a free nation. Then again, that tends to happen a lot.
I personally approach her like a larger-than-life flawed Shakespearean protagonist.
In the end, she managed die heroically and her army beat off what should have been a Lunar cakewalk.
My experience is that players tend to “like” a character based on their characters. They might appreciate a NPC as an interesting character who nonetheless “dislike” the character in practice. Kind of like how an entertaining villain can be incredibly engrossing, but you still dislike them.
The goal with the RQ Campaign is to bring Gunda, Jar-eel, etc. right into the action. For what it is worth, in the house campaign where we playtested RQG, Vasana ended up with an unrequited love passion for Gunda. For a while it was like Xena and Gabrielle, running around as Wolf Pirates in the Choralinthor. But alas, Gunda had killed Love.
As a total aside, the player who created Samastina is the same player who created Vasana. Very very different characters – but the same player. That was a really great group of players, who really wanted to explore lots of different themes (including sexual and gender themes) in their game. Sadly, we moved from Berlin last year, so it is not so easy to get that group together.
One of her irony’s is that her connection to the Sky is remarkably innovative and creative, but she doesn’t see it. Then again, we could say that about a lot of celestially oriented figures.
The Alciabes comment is more about her ability to force through half-baked ideas on people who know the ideas are half-baked by pure charisma. But no denying she is an imposing figure.
Let’s start with the initial rebellion in 1613. When Greg originally ran the Sartar High Council he didn’t know if there would be a rebellion at all. In fact, all of the information given to the players was “don’t do this!” But the Kallyr player pushed it through by pure force of will. That rebellion was a terrible idea!
I asked Greg how the heck did it happen if nobody supported it? In the game, the Kallyr player decided her ambitions were greater. It was apparently really remarkable roleplaying.
Greg published the Sartar High Council stuff because he thought it was interesting – remember that was back in WF in the late 70s or very early 80s. I’ve still got all his hand-written player materials for that.
So it’s somewhat difficult to understand- from the perspective of authorial intent in this source- why this version of Kallyr should be understood as definitive.
KoS presents Starbrow as very heroic. Which she was. But Greg also decided that she would try to do the Short Lightbringers Quest so that he could present that summary of the Quest (which had been originally written up for a different purpose). Then he decided to introduce a deliberate error in the Events of My Life list because he wanted KoS to be a very unreliable narrator. But in ALL of his game materials (and lord I have files and files of it), Kallyr is intended to have a very short and troubled reign. After she dies, Sartar is clearly on the brink of disintegration.
Now of course you can do WHATEVER you want in your Glorantha.
But for both of us it was important that Kallyr’s reign be short and troubled – the “traditionalist Orlanthi” get their prince and do what people on the old forums used to always talk about doing (aka a Lightbringers Quest). And it fails. Badly. Given us a chance to show that the Lunars have people who clearly were reading the forums for many years!
Jar-eel, who already dissected Belintar the same way that Arkat dissected Nysalor, was more than ready for some minor league heroquester to try a controlled version of what the Orlanthi already tried against the Goddess.
As a final aside, the whole Kallyr period is basically supposed to be covered by scenario 1 – Stemming the Tide from White Bear/Red Moon aka Dragon Pass.
Her reign in KoS is only 5 years in the Events of My Life list (which actually Greg claimed to me was an error that should have been removed in editing – which we did in the later edition). In the CHoDP (which was supposedly composed around 1638) she died at the Battle of Queens in 1626.
Argrath is a Gloranthan Hero with a capital “H”. He’s the transformative Hero – who transforms both himself and his world. He (and his later doppelgänger Arkat) and Arthur played a big role in Greg’s imagination. Argrath, or at least his earliest incarnation Argat or Argarat, long predated Dragon Pass and the Lunar Empire. He’s as creative a heroquester as the Red Goddess was, and both borrowed from each others stories.