A few notes on our sources for the later Hero Wars (with a few thoughts on the post Hero Wars era)
Our best sources for the later Hero Wars is the Argrath Saga. Now dates are pretty fuzzy, but the consensus of modern historians dates the Argrath’s Saga to around 2044 ST (but based on texts from 1965 ST and 2000 ST).
So our source was composed some four centuries after the events and people described. Now that is going to be unreliable in the best case, but it is made worse by the collapse of literacy between 1820 and 1950 (the so-called “Illiteracy Era”). This was a Dark Age that started almost two centuries after the end of the Hero Wars. So we have to consider the specific details in Argrath’s Saga even less reliable than the Alexander’ Romance.
What we know about the later Hero Wars is the following:
- Argrath became Prince in 1627 and King of Dragon Pass in 1629
- He has the Great Marriage with Queen Inkarne in 1643. She rules for a century.
- He successfully performed the Lightbringers Quest in 1645.
- After the end of the Hero Wars there is no Red Moon in the sky. The best date for this is 1655.
- Some years after this, Argrath is apotheosized as a god.
After the Hero Wars is over the way that gods and mortals communicate have changed and the world itself has changed.
A century or two after the Hero Wars, there appears to have been a general civilizational collapse that lasted until around 2000, when the recovery era began. It is now somewhere around 2200 ST, although nobody uses that dating system except pedants.
This been since at least 2015! I am just presenting key parts of the text to make it obvious.
As with the Pendragon Campaign, if we are going to publish campaigns and scenarios that move the setting past 1625, we NEED to establish a few key setting events.
Now if you want to change those events in your campaign, go for it (same advice as we give in Pendragon), but at that point you run the risk that future supplements will not fit into your campaign.
Behind the scenes is that Greg took a bunch of dates from his early attempts to write up the Argrath Campaign (as well as his Argat versus Gbaji materials from the late 60s), and lightly edited them for King of Sartar.
There was always a “Golden Path” through King of Sartar, but it was very carefully hidden. Too carefully hidden! As we were working on the Guide to Glorantha, it became clear we needed to make the Golden Path clearer – and then once we started RuneQuest, we needed to agree upon a baseline chronology for the Hero Wars (otherwise it is largely unplayable).
This confirms the end of the red moon. yes. That’s an assumption throughout Greg’s Hero Wars chronologies. Why there is no Red Moon after the Hero Wars is to me a more interesting and open question.
So is King of Sartar canon? Calling King of Sartar “canon” for RuneQuest publications is a mistake. It isn’t, as it is deliberately misleading and even false in many places.
I worked with Greg on this, King of Sartar consists of three types of materials:
- Stuff that originally was going to be in the never-completed Gloranthan Encyclopedia and in the Sartar Book. That stuff is nearly completely canonical.
- Stuff that was originally developed as Greg tried to figure out the chronology of Argrath and the Hero Wars. The wildly different dates and storylines reflect the fact that he assembled various drafts – which themselves had very different dates and storylines. Frex, originally the Hero Wars were going to last at least a hundred years or more, but Greg later decided that was silly and shortened the Hero Wars to about 30 years. That stuff is as canonical as discarded early drafts are.
- Stuff that was added to give the perspective of a scholar from many centuries after the Hero Wars. If you read that stuff carefully you can get some insight from Greg on his earlier drafts.
Why did Argrath wait 14 years between becoming King of Dragon Pass and the marriage to Inkarne? I thought he had to be married to Inkarne to become King of Dragon Pass? What might have happened in Dragon Pass and the Lunar Provinces between 1628 and 1643 that might have required a bigger ceremony with more magic to establish Argrath and Inkarne’s rule over Dragon Pass and Saird?
Within the confines of what is known, there are many open questions concerning the later Hero Wars and the post-Hero Wars period. I really don’t want to speculate on the details (feel free to create your own threads if that is what you want to do, but I will delete such speculations in this thread), but a few things are known:
- The Illiteracy Era didn’t start for over a century (probably closer to two centuries) after the Hero Wars ended.
- Inkarne was “Sacred Queen” for many decades after the Hero Wars ended.
- Argrath was apotheosised after the end of the Hero Wars.
Beyond that, things are largely unknown. We have a few of the “Sacred Kings of Dragon Pass” identified, most significantly Argrath and the Feathered Horse Queen’s son Halifitoor. But it lets us see that the Hero Wars had an ending, that mortals and gods survived that ending (although their ways of communicating with each other changed), and that the world survived but was changed.
Now of course this is the “canonical campaign”- but in YOUR campaign, things might go differently. Maybe the heroes all fail and Chaos wins. Maybe Argrath defeats the Lunar Empire in 1644, obviating a need for the Lightbringers Quest. Maybe there is a different Red Emperor in 1630 who makes peace with King Argrath, ending the Hero Wars before they escalated much more. Who knows – it is your campaign after all!
But for discussion purposes (and for publishing purposes), this is the canonical chronology.
As an aside it is perhaps best to think of the Hero Wars and Argrath’s conquest of the Lunar Provinces as a great storm long pent-up and finally exploding. The storm is terrible and awesome, and when it is finally over, we can finally survey the destruction.