Prince Argrath is one of the four big movers driving the Hero Wars forward. To get a handle on him, it is worth looking at the very first presentation of Prince Argrath – in what was the very first published appearance of Glorantha as a setting, White Bear & Red Moon:
Prince Argrath, like many natives of the ruined kingdom of Sartar, left his backward land while quite young. Unlike most others, he returned from a career of adventures which gained him his Hero status. He also brought back his blood-brother band of barbarians. who became the core of the Free Army. He rallied the peoples of the valley under the banner of Old Sartar, and changed their tactics from murdering tax collectors to raiding the Lunar cities. Later Argrath was joined by hls far-flung friends, who gladly stood by his saddle in troubled times.
Argrath began assembling his army after he was driven from his home on Starfire Ridge, when he took refuge among the nomads of Prax. Most Praxian tribes had strict laws and customs preventing foreigners from holding positions, authority, or power, but there were several secret societies whose member crossed all social or political boundaries. Incredibly, Argrath worked his way to supremacy among three of them – the Twin Spears, the Sword Brothers, and the Bullocks, and formed the kernel of his army. After he received the gift of the Dragon’s Teeth, Argrath returned to Dragon Pass, with his White Bull warriors, and volunteers from the Barbarian Horde.
At that time Lunar influence was at a low, having been recently beaten in battle by raiders from Prax. No puppet ruler say in Wintertop. Instead, thieving regiments of tax-collectors roamed at will, terrorising the people and disrupting their attempts to organize. With a brilliant raid, Argrath succeeded in calling enough support to drive the enemy out, then turned to invade Lunar territory. He raised the banner of Old Sartar and re-established trade lines between Prax and the Holy Country. The clans were organised into economic co-operative ventures, centered upon the forts. Their troops, when called, form the “militia “of the Sartar Army.
The Sartar Magical Union was an extraordinary innovation of Argrath’s. While the Lunar Schools were trained together and had comparable magical power, the mounted battalions that Argrath organised were a dizzying array of bush priests, good witches, twisted warlocks, wandering monks, crazed holymen, a mystic or two, and various masters of talismanic devices. Yet Argrath melded them together by creating new secret societies, and it is a compliment to his skills that he could put together such diverse and often hostile individuals into such effect and compact fighting units. It indicates a high understanding of magical principles which should have been far beyond Argrath’s own skill or experience.
The more powerful of the magicians were relatives of the Storm god, who had been head of the local pantheon since Sartar first came.
The Barbarian Horde was made up of Praxian warriors who owed Argrath a favor or two, or who were lured by the hope of Lunar plunder. Either reason easily excited them to battle, and when war gathered in Dragon Pass, they mustered at the fringes, awaiting duty and opportunity.
These two passages are the basis of defining the Hero Argrath. One more is worth mentioning:
The Dragonteeth Runners were a gift from Argrath from an Ancestral Dragon, and were normally kept in a pouch at the Prince’s side. Whenever desired, the units appear next to the prince, and after they are slain they may re-appear if Sartar is allied to a living Dragon. They do not count in stacking, and may reflect a bad magical attack upon the sender.
There’s our contours for the Hero. Now it leaves everyone plenty of room to interpret – was Argrath a cynical but charismatic manipulator, was he a religious fanatic, was he a footloose adventuring rogue who found himself with great responsibilities, or was he seeking to redeem his ancestors and his people? Or maybe a bit of all of this? Your Argrath will vary, of course.
Regardless of our interpretation of Argrath the mundane individual, we know that he very much embodies Greg’s Hero Archetype for Glorantha, as Greg took his hero Argat (who defeated Gbaji and his empire in a Great War) and placed him in Dragon Pass to fight Gbaji-become-Red Goddess and her empire (Arkat and Gbaji get their own story a few years later with Cults of Terror).
So imagine Alexander the Great tagged up with Heracles, and that’s the Argrath-Harrek team we have going into the Hero Wars.
But imagine an Alexander the Great that spent his youth as Sabatini’s Scaramouche, Zorro, and the Dread Pirate Roberts!
You can make Argrath the villain of your campaign – certainly from the Lunar Empire’s perspective, that is his role (just as Alexander was a villain in Zoroastrian sources, and is both hero and villain in many Roman sources). You can make him the moral exemplar in your campaign – although Greg rarely built paragons of virtue (even Greg’s beloved Arthur has misdeeds).
I personally view Argrath (and the other heroes) as a remarkable and fascinating individual, who did remarkable deeds and co-exist in the realm of myth and legend. But all of Glorantha’s heroes did some terrible deeds – free, Argrath gave Furthest over to his companion Mularik Ironeye and then later arranged his murder. Like Alexander he adopted foreign ways, and even accommodated Lunar cults and deities (such as Yara Aranis). He spoke with dragons and revived (at least in some manner) the Empire of the Wyrms Friends. But he was also loyal to his friends (of which he had many) and was by all accounts an inspiring, clever, and remarkable individual.
Hating the Lunar Empire for what it did to his family is also a perfectly understandable (at least to Orlanthi) vendetta. The Lunars killed most of his kinship group, took what was rightfully there’s, and tried to eliminate his tutelary deity. That he took the war to the empire is, at least from Orlanthi eyes, not only understandable but laudable.