Art by Dan Barker, from the Broken Council Guidebook

We start this episode with a minor existential crisis on Ludo’s identity, followed by Ludo being protective of our usual guests by volunteering to take the brunt of Jörg’s incoming obscurantism and pedantry. Ludo accuses rather than praises Jörg of being a bright guy…

Main Topic

The Second Council and its God Project

Jörg wants to go to the beginning of that God Project, which was in his opinion the discovery of the Pseudocosmic Egg in the ruins of Dorastor. He mentions the Dawn Age appendix in the Guide, p.712 if you want to take a deeper read into this. (If you own the old RQ3 Dorastor Book, it has this text, too.)

Ludo asks whether the Pseudocosmic egg, that rare artifact which was instrumental in creating the perfect god, was just lying around in those ruins, and Jörg name-drops the Feldichi builders of those ruins, suggesting that the artifact would have been sitting in a Feldichi laboratory.

The ruins were first discovered by the early settlers, in the 120ies. Ludo paints this time (prior to hostile contact with the Horse Warlords in Dara Happa) as a time of peace and plenty.

We talk about the nature of the Pseudocosmic Egg, an artifact which Jörg describes as something that spoke to its investigators, awakening creative urges that ultimately led to the decision to breed a perfect deity.

Its origin isn’t clear, although Jörg wouldn’t be Jörg if he did not have a theory about that.

A rather weird theory, describing the Egg as an unborn child of Mostal, the World Machine, which would be a von Neumann probe in this theory – a self-replicating mechanism establishing a universe and then spawning daughter universes, more places like Glorantha. Only Mostal was damaged by the birth of Umath, and the hatching of the egg (in Jörg’s theory one of eight) was interrupted.

This gives the entire Dorastor civilization (both the Feldichi and the Second Council) a certain science-fantasy vibe, which is fine with Jörg.

Anyway, the people investigating the egg start the God Project.

Ludo expounds on their possible motivations: having the gods around again. (An effect which is called “Proximate Holy Realm” by Jeff Richard, describing the vicinity of deities in Belintar’s City of Wonders, but which also seems to have been the goal of the EWF Third Council.)

People of the God Project

Jörg briefly introduces Lokamayadon as the new Orlanthi member of the Second Council, a Pelorian, non-Heortling Orlanthi, and his personal feud against the family of the Vanak Spear heroes in the Berennethtelli tribe (who were Heortlings), foreshadowing Harmast Barefoot who was one of their descendants.

Being forced back onto the God Project, Jörg drops another name of the participants, Holy Estorex, a Dara Happan mystic who becomes one of the chief contributors to the new deity.

Ludo mishears the name as Asterix, the cartoon hero by Goscinni and Uderzo whose adventures in and from Roman occupied Gaul are a great inspiration for the Sartarites despite being very non-Sartarite.

Leaving that aside, we talk about what the Dara Happans want from this.

For context: up to 221, since before the Dawn, the Dara Happans and other Pelorian lowlanders were ruled by horse warlords who immigrated from the Arcos Valley and established a semblance of order in the Gray Age while remaining quite barbaric themselves. These horse-warlords slaughtered any Lightbringer Missionaries entering their territory, which earned them the enmity of the Council in Dorastor, and led to its first war, culminating in the Battle of Argentium Thri’ile in 221 (a name wisely – or cowardly – not pronounced by Jörg).

Jörg talks about the effect of having Holy Estorex on the God Project, which led to new advances, and a grwoing unease of the trolls, the Heortlings and the Dragonewts, all of whom ultimately break off from the project and their participation in the Second Council, which is called the Broken Council afterwards.

Ludo describes the Dara Happan representative as the Yoko Ono of the Second Council.

(A pop culture reference as old as the older part of our audience: this is about the break-up of the Beatles, one of the most infliential bands of the late sixties and early seventies of the last century. As if “pop” in pop culture stands for “dad” or “granddad”…)

We talk about how this representation of all elements is an ongoing theme, like with Belintar’s Holy Country, and a reflection of the universe. Which gets Jörg to drop in the Young Elementals, source of the non-moon elemental magic of the Seven Mothers Cult, who were the spawn of the Pseudocosmic Egg alongside Osentalka.

Enter the Antagonists Nysalor and Arkat

Fast-forward to the Sunstop, with Jörg listing other culprits like the Kralori emperor meditating, Western wizards fighting shamans in Fronela, a new bloom in the Yellow Elf forests in Pamaltela.

Ludo observes that these pivotal moments in Gloranthan myth or history always have multiple causes and participants.

Jörg adds that he is pretty sure Zzabur had something to do with the cause of the Sunstop, too.

Ludo asks whether the Sunstop was a bad thing, and Jörg forwards the Dara Happan notion that this would be the ideal state of the world, re-creating the ideal of Godtime. The trolls on the other hand might think this is the worst idea possible – at least those who were condemned to a life on the Surface World.

Jörg tries to convey that while (normal) Time stopped, lives went on. Hence “the Sunstop lasted for an unknowable amount of time” doesn’t mean that everybody was frozen in their movements (as that would mean they wouldn’t even notice the Sunstop).

Necessarily, Jörg mentions the birth of Arkat in the distant forests of Brithos, probably as the result of a tryst with a deity (these things happen in the Malkioni west all the time in that age), a deity who leaves his mortal offspring the Unbreakable Sword.

Looking back at Dorastor, Ludo asks whether Nysalor was born with a cool magical item like his counterpart, or whether Arkat gets preferential treatment by the GM. Jörg points out that Nysalor is born with a partially restored magical city to his name, while Arkat starts out in the wilderness.

Jörg clarifies that he meant the magical buildings left behind by the Feldichi and brought into a semblance of function by the Second Council. With the possibility that Osentalka’s birth awakens the ruins more than before.

Ludo asks whether the two antagonists were born as infants. Jörg opines that Arkat was indeed born the biological way as a baby, whereas Nysalor probably came into the world as a fully grown adolescent, a shape he retained trhoughout the rest of his life.

Coming to the end of the Sunstop, Ludo asks how this ended. Jörg first gives the observations that were passed on through the generations: dark strands forming around the sun, dragging it back onto its Sunpath procession. Some people call that the Web of Arachne Solara, and Ludo imagines a “pissed-off” Arachne Solara. Jörg suggests that the Sun Spider (Arachne Solara) and her son Time pull the sun back onto its cycle,

The perfect god Osentalka (who could only exist under the perfect conditions of the Sunstop) becomes revered as Nysalor, the Bright Lord.

Ludo asks whether this demand for perfection is part of an in-world sage’s agenda, or whether this is an objective observation. Jörg evades the question, re-stating that there was Osentalka who was perfect while Time had stopped, but when it re-started again, the deity now named Nysalor had imperfections.

Ludo tries to play that down as excuses. Jörg argues that Nysalor doesn’t do or need excuses, since he is illuminated. We discuss who might have apologized, but other than some humans on the council (illuminated by the time they could be interviewed) we don’t find who might have apologized. Certainly not the Mostali who were involved.

Ludo summarizes what we said about the Bright Empire in our last episode – a Solar-themed empire that took over vast chunks of Central and even Western Genertela.

Heroes of the Bright Empire

Jörg brings up the Battle of Night and Day, where the friends and foes of Nysalor met three years after the Sunstop. While the battle is described in quite a lot of detail in the Stafford Library offering History of the Heortling People (from the perspective of Lokamayadon), Jörg attempts to give an elevator pitch of those details.

Ludo asks how the battle went. It started with conventional warfare (other than Lokamayadon riding his flying ram while the King of the Heortlings is riding a cloud, which Ludo agrees is fairly conventional for Gloranthan warfare).

The Dara Happan forces facing the trolls are faring badly, and the Dara Happan general asks his Vanchite (hill barbarian aka Orlanthi) charioteer whether he had any hidden trump card. The charioteer replies, “Try my god, Daysenerus, the planet Lightfore.”

Ludo asks whether we are talking about Yelmalio, which is of course another name for this sort of divine presence.

Ludo also wonders whether the charioteer god should be Lokarnos, but Jörg insists that Lokarnos is the wagon(eer) god rather than the chariot(eer) god. What’s the difference? “You wouldn’t use a Lamborghini to move furniture, would you?”

The general does, calling the deity into himself, whereupon the deity itself manifests on the battlefield with a divine presence above and beyond what was agreed on in the Great Compromise. (Note that it was the humans summoning the deity this way who broke the compromise, not the deity out of its own volition – up to that point.)

Ludo sensibly asks how this is different from casting awesome amounts of Rune Magic “as the deity”.

Jörg replies that there is a vast difference in scale between spending a whole lot of rune points and calling forth this much of a divine presence. In fact, this over-taxes the life force of the Dara Happan general, who dies of this experience – in RQ terms possibly because he blew all of his personal POW in the process. The deity does stick around long enough for the commander of the Nysaloran center, a certain Palangio, to synchronize with the newly arrived deity, which bears a certain resemblance to his own (Lightfore?) deity from Rinliddi.

The trolls don’t take this standing still, they huddle together forming a great black thing, the Black Eater.

There is a big Lightfore deity on one side and the huge Darkness monster, the Black Eater, on the other side.

Jörg claims that this is well beyond conventional Gloranthan warfare, while Ludo tries to blame this on “heroquesting powers and what not”.

So we get this towering figure of a bright spearman facing the trolls, who shrink back from the brightness.

Jörg claims that what happens here is more apocalyptic, as hundreds of trolls dissolve into the Black Eater whose great maw proceeds to eat up the Dara Happans, hindered by Daysenerus.

And that’s when Nysalor, thar androgynous youth of a god, steps onto the battlefield, and right into the maw of the Black Eater.

Ludo: “And he dies, end of the story.” “All of his friends fear that is the case.”

Instead, the black blob starts convulsing and shrieking, falling apart into thousands of trolls, all of whom suffered terrible wounds to their wombs (if they had them, or comparable internal damage if they did not). This wounding affects all trolls, up to Korasting, Mother of Many, the fecund daughter of Kyger Litor and second most important ancestral deities of the trolls.

Ludo points to the RuneQuest Bestiary as the currently best available source on the Trollkin Curse.

Ludo asks whether this is where the troll expression “don’t put all your trolls into the same Black Eater” comes from, an expression Jörg had not heard before.

That’s also how the trolls gave Nysalor the name “Womb-Biter”, or D’Wargon.

All trolls are injured, and instead of getting normal dark troll births, which also are diminished compared to the original Mistress Race, they get these runts.

Ludo goes on a tangent fabulating about a great ball of all the trollkin in the hero wars, getting even worse offspring, and observes that the (dark) trolls keep getting worse and worse reproductive deals.

So Nysalor wins the Battle of Night and Day – a resounding victory. On the Storm flank, the king of the Heortlings falls to Lokamayadon, Palangio mops up the field with his awesome Daysenerus powers, and the dragonewts were supposed to suffer from a similar curse, but a dragon intercedes and negates it. The Heortlings are conquered by the forces of Palangio in the afteermath of the battle.

Ludo asks whether this is limited to the Pelorian Heortlings, but no, all the Heortlings all the way to Kethaela are subject to Palangio’s overlordship. He conquers Esrolia, too, but the region nowadays known as Heortland in the Holy Country remains unconquered – it is a forested, thinly settled land at this time, inhabited by the followers of Hendrik the Free.

Ludo asks the usual question:Why do we care about all that shit that happened in a distant past?

Jörg mentions that this resulted in the founding of the Sun Dome Temple at Vanntar by Palangio, as a means to control the conquered Orlanthi.

Ludo complains that that is all good and fine, but why would it be relevant in the Gloranthan now of 1625. While it is cool and adds a bit of flavor, since then a lot of other things have happened which influenced history as much or more.

Jörg evades by talking about Lokamayadon’s endeavors after the Battle of Night and Day. Lokamayadon’s heroquesting (what about Harmast or Arkat starting the business of Orlanthi exploratory heroquesting in the Dawn Age?) leads him to TarUmath, the High Storm, the Storm beyond the Storm.

(Actually, Tarumath started out as the Harmony Storm, already present at the Battle of Night and Day, where Lokamayadon’s Orlanthi from Lakrene are interchangeably called Tarumathings. History of the Heortling People, p.18 onwards for the account of the Battle of Night and Day. This also tells how Lokamayadon calling upon his god steals the breath of all weaker Orlanthi, and how only Hendrik the Larnsti could keep a free breath in his cloak.)

Lokamayadon becomes the super-Orlanthi, taking the Breath of all weaker Orlanthi – pretty much like what happened to the worshipers of Orlanth during the Windstop.

Ludo asks why Lokamayadon (who is an Orlanthi) is doing that (stealing everyone’s breath, and magic). Jörg replies that Lokamayadon is becoming Orlanth, or like Orlanth. Worship of the High Storm (which Jörg assumes goes through the person of Lokamayadon) is still possible, which means that his followers are doing fine with magic. This is extremely high stakes.

Jörg talks about Lokamayadon’s downfall, which is tied to his feud with the Berennethtelli clan which ultimately produced Harmast Barefoot, a youth who managed to survive the initiation rites and contact Orlanth despite Lokamayadon holding on to the High Storm.

Harmast Barefoot is of course the Orlanthi who first re-enacted the Full Lightbrigners’ Quest (and even did it twice).

Ludo tells how Harmast returns Arkat from Hell after the hero had been killed by Palangio (in 418, in front of Kartolin Castle, on the Dorastan border of Ralios).

Harmast’s family was hiding out on the edge of Prax, outside of the Bright Empire proper. When Ludo says that there is probably no trace of this in the modern era, Jörg counters that the site of the Battle of the Verge is known as Barbarian Town in the Third Age (again a hide-out against unjust persecution).

What next? After the Battle of Night and Day, Palangio goes on conquering Maniria, on behalf of the Bright Empire, he visits the lost city of Erenplose hiding in a bubble under water, gets a hint to follow a magical item up to a mountain where the a piece of the sky fell down in the Gods War (Selon Mount) and finds the Iron Vrok there, according to Jörg a huge magical beast made of iron which Palangio then can ride – pretty much like the Dykene Hawk Riders in Balazar.

Ludo is slightly disappointed as he expected a smaller sidekick that would be able to land on Palangio’s shoulders.

Ludo asks whether the bird is a Mostali construct, but Jörg pleads for a magical creature in its own right.

Meanwhile in Ralios

Bright Empire visionaries have been active in Ralios, entering across Kartolin Pass. The Dangan Confederacy in the Tanier Valley (pretty much exactly where the modern Kingdom of Seshnela is located) accepts the teachings of Holy Estorex, the Dara Happan mystic mentioned above. This worthy is converting the local Enerali Orlanthi to the cause of the Bright Empire.

Ludo asks whether this is where Arkat will be fighting (of course it is). Jörg states that the Ralian Orlanthi are divided, many join the Bright Empire, but some groups resist it – in typical Orlanthi manner.

Ludo asks whether this is when someone has the bright idea to spread the uncurable disease that only the priests of Nysalor can heal. Ludo is sort of disappointed about how sneaky the Bright Empire operates. Jörg quotes Nysalor: “On the Edge of Light there is always Darkness.”

Bur this method of spreading the cult is successful, and a large number of people in Seshnela and even Arolanit follow the cult that brings the cure, tp the point where Nysalor’s mystical thinking is taking over the land of rationality, Arolanit.

Arolanit used to be the most orthodox and pious of the Brithini colonies, and Zzabur and his Talar rulers won’t have that.

Ludo observes that this is in the extreme west of the continent of Genertela, and that this is when the Brithini army is brought to the continent, including Arkat as a young Horali soldier.

This is where the Brithini army is confronted with the dark minions of the god Kraljid, a demonic entity which had history already in the wars of the Serpent Kings of Seshnela. This entity is controlled by the Bright Empire, a state of affairs that is ended by Arkat when he puts that god to rest (if not for good, then at least for the rest of the Dawn Age). This happened in a little town in westernmost Tanisor (the modern province or rather heartland of the Third Age Kingdom of Seshnela)-.a town named Kaniwal. Jörg jokes that it could be pronounced like cannibal, too, which is possibly one of the cult practices of Kraljid.

Jörg refers to a fragment of Arkat’s Saga that Greg Stafford read at Convulsion 1994, a rather nightmaresh stand against dark enemies strikung out of the shadows, which has been compared to a Vietnam war report.

This Arkat Saga fragment is occasionally offered for quite high sums on Ebay, alongside other fragments of Greg Stafford’s early western stories.

Back to the topic: The Nysalor Cult has a priest overseeing things in Seshnela by the name of Gaalth – with two “a”s, according to Ludo a sure sign that this is a bad guy.Jürg offers that he is bound to have a goatee and an evil laugh.

But Gaalth is rather charismatic, and spreads Illumination among those he healed, and once illuminated, the so afflicted and healed understand that the ordeal was a learning experience.

Ludo asks whether this was the first time the Bright Empire is actively teaching illumination, but to Jörg’s knowledge that happened all over the Empire.

Jörg points out that the Dara Happans pursued Illumination as long as they have memories, even the horse warlords did so to some extent. They pursue the enhanced state Yelm obtained when he recognized his Other (or Shadow).

We jest about what happens if you stare into the sun too long,.Jörg adds that the worshipers of Dayzatar look beyond the sun to a higher truth, and what Lokamayadon did with the High Storm was similar.

We briefly return to Lokamayadon when Ludo asks whether he attempted to establish an illuminated Orlanthi culture, Ludo fabulates that we could have an illuminated Orlanthi culture, peaceful and urbanized. Jörg points out that exactly this happened in the next age, although with a different (draconic) form of enlightenment.

Once again. Ludo wants to pull these things into the now, suggesting Lokamayadon as a role model for Illuminated Orlanthi. Jörg insists that mainstream Orlanthi reject what Lokamayadon did, but there is always room for dissidents.

Ludo asks whether that disease might still be around, but it seems to have disappeared without the Nysalor Cult to spread it.

Ludo asks for more information on this disease, and Jörg points to the Seshnelan Kings List on the Well of Daliath.

When asked what cool Third Age adventuring can result from all this information, Jörg points at Lunars searching for such fragments from the Bright Empire. There may also be parts in Ralios where the local Orlanthi think that Nysalor was a good thing, and Arkat a terrible mistake.

Whether Safelstran basements with secret meetings support Powerpoint presentations for indoctrination can be decided by the GM.

The Bright Empire is spreading out, but it is starting to get some opposition (it could not overcome). In Seshnela, it is quite successful, but the ruling dynasty prefers to rule afflicted by the disease rather than succumb to the whisperings of Gaalth and Gbaji (although some of their cousins did).

People fighting on Arkat’s side of the conflict

Jörg describes how the conflict in Seshnela was really a civil war, with the Nysalor cult opposed by the rulers, and how a decisive battle between the friends of Gaalth on one side and Arkat and the king on the other is almost lost for Arkat, when a shiny young hero with a flaming sword and fresh horse troops falls into the rear of the Nysalorans.

Faced with defeat, the opponents show the ugly side of illumination when they start to sprout tentacles and other such abominations, causing grievous losses even in their defeat. The old dynasty is ended on that battlefield, a new one emerges (and gets afflicted by the disease, too).

Maybe not the first time – there was the fight against the Vampire King of Tanisor, too.

Ludo talks about how cool the title “Vampire King of Tanisor” is, and asks whether we have information how that came about, and how vampires join the forces of light which usually are their nemesis.

Jörg brings up Tanisoran history, with Sehsnegi invasions unleashing vile Vadeli magics.

The Vadeli are the anti-Brithini, or as Ludo puts it, even more like Brithini. Rather than obeying the Brithini rules, the Vadeli carefully transgress these in specific wasy, leading to a society using vile magics and slavery.

Jörg points to Nick Brooke’s illuminated History of Malkionism for better information on the Vadeli.

Ludo complains that the Vadeli way is convoluted, going at lengths to make a mockery of the Brithini rules, only to achieve the same result – immortality.

Jörg suspects that the Vampire Kings used magics that were left behind or perhaps recently imported by the Vadeli magics that poisoned the land before. Ludo cuts short Jörg-s attempts to take a closer look at the Vadeli.

Apparently the vampires can tolerate the Brightness of Nysalor without getting burned


Jörg points out that the Tanisoran nobility were people afraid of dying, so they took an alternative route out, achieving escape from death. They also formed a vampire legion – a unit found in the Lunar Empire.

Asked whether there is anything left of these struggles, Jorg names the Vampire King Gracmacaglan, in his royal city of Taniwal, nowadays known as the Red Ruins because the fallout from that battle still glows stronger than Cernobyl.

The Brithini officer was there to collect the helmet (which doubled as the crouwn) of the Vampire King when Arkat beheaded him, performing a service only a Talar caste member could in the Brithini army. That worthy way Talar Malaskan Philippe, who is still alivc, and has been the ruling Talar of Arolanit for the last five centuries. Jörg dispels Ludo’’s notion that he might be a vampire, pointing out his Brithini nature.

Ludo asks whether there are still nests of vampires in the region, and Jörg claims that vampires never go away for good. The Vampire Legion now serves in the Lunar Empire. (Jörg thinks that some might be able to boast that they were decapitated by Arkat once or twice.)

Jörg also points to the Kingdom of Ramalia in Maniria where the rulers might use magics similar to those of the Vampire Kings.

Ludo gets enthusiastic about ancient vampires acting as strategicians and grey eminences, not limited to the Vampire Legion. Jörg counters that he wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were teaching at the Lunar College of Magic, although only the very advanced courses.

Ludo imagines a Harry Potter style campaign in the Lunar College of Magic, and asks for someone to write that up for the Jonstown Compendium (or official releases).

Jörg puts a mild damper (and a spoiler for Sun County) that some ancient vampires may have lost their memories in the centuries since.

We briefly digress about that unhealable wound that Arkat contracted – apparently a spear wound to the foot rather than a Rand al-Thor stab into the abdomen – during his initiation to the Cult of Hhumakt.

The Ralian Campaign

Early in the Ralian campaign, Holy Estorex opposes Arkat’s advance, but gets beaten up and escapes limping, barely alive.

In 418, Arkat approaches Kartolin Castle and asks for a challenger for single combat. Palangio responds, slays Arkat, wipes the floor with his companions and his army. The next four years, the Bright Empire retakes what it lost in Ralios, while Arkat lingers in Hell.

The Seshnegi Kings believe that they are done with the Gbaji Wars, and the Bright Empire thinks they are done with Arkat. Harmast Barefoot’s Lightbringers’ Quest changes all that.

Harmast brings Arkat to Hrelar Amali, thie most holy place in Ralios, where the tree of Flamal used to stand in Godtime before Zorak Zoran hewed it down, in the Tanier Valley, nowadays only a ruin.

There is a Ralian Humakti whose name is remembered – Makla Man, a cult hero of Humakt, who aided Arkat against the Vampire King and who invited him to his father’s cult after he had become an Orlanthi. He has special magics against resurrection. We discuss how escaping the Underworld in other ways than Chalana Arroy resurrection doesn’t trigger the Humakti.

We discuss the Telmori gift by Nysalor (later turned into a curse by Talor). We meniton the Telmori temple city in northern Vesmonstran, destroyed by Arkat when he drove the gifted Telmori north of the Nidan range (making them another problem for Talor to solve)

Even with the Telmori out of the way, Arkat was thwarted again and again at Kartolin Castle, so he left a siege force there and turned south into Slontos, rule by Palangio at the time.

Jörg briefly digresses to Palangio having established the dragonewt colony at Ryzel in Maniria.

Ludo asks about Palangio’s relationship with the dragonewts. Jörg assumes that the dragonewts were obliged to give Palangio some form of support, and that the Ryzel colony was their way of dealing with that oligation.

We briefly mention the siege of Kaxtorplose, and a naval operation on board of Waertagi ships bringing Arkat’s army into the east.

Kaxtorplose still has ruins and temples remembering the Gbaji Wars.

We briefly talk about the Hendriki, the last free Heortlings against the Bright Empire.

The theater of war enters Dragon Pass, with the fighting getting more and more bitter, Chaos coming into the fight more often, and troll forces becoming more important.

Jörg brings up Gerlant Flamesword again, now a Seshnegi noble who married the sister of the new king Hupala, and who lost several sons fighting alnogside Arkat even though he condemned his conversions to Orlanth and Humakt, and ultimately to Kyger Litor and Zorak Zoran.

Jörg muses about Arkat’s nameless companions who joined him in beciming trolls, expecting at least one Brithini and one Man-of-All, plus various Orlanthi both from Ralios and from the Dragon Pass region among them.

The troll politics around Arkat’s rebirth are mentioned, and Arkat’s initial fecundity siring Mistress Race daughters.

Jörg talks about how the Heortlings get to conquer a largely undefended Dara Happa while their best forcces try to stem Arkat’s dark tide towatrds Dorastor. The Heortling take great riches (which might have been plundered from their lands before) and establish a tribute after having deposed the former emperor.

We talk about Arkat’s trail of destruction towatds Dorastor, still haunted and forbidding.

In Dorator, Arkat faces off with Ralzakark and kills him. When asked who Ralzakark was during the Bright Empire, Jörg speculates that he was a civilized, unicord-headed guy who operated Feldichi technology amd helped manage the empire, a good conversationalist, possibly a good dancer who had the misfortune to have to fight Arkat, the most monstrous troll you can imagine. Ralzakark was killed and dismembered, and to bring him back some rite or quest of resurrection would have been required. Something nobody in their right mind would do, which is why some God Learners did it.

We briefly discuss the Lunar depiction of the conflict from the Appendix in the Guide.

The Fronelan Side Story

A very quick run through Talor the Laughing Warrior’s achievements, re-founding Loskalm, overcoming Varganthar the Unconquerable Knight, but dying and ending up in Hell.

Harmast goes onto another Lightbringers’ Quest, returns with another western warrior, Ludo speculates there may have been even more people brought back from Hell by Harmast, but there is a list of his quests somewhere.

We touch upon the Hrestoli concept of Joy of the Heart (again a topic for the History of Malkionism mentined above), It is not illuminaiton, but hard to tell apart.

Harmast and Talor unite the Loskalmi Malkinio and the Orlanthi of the region, fight the Telmori in Ralios and enter Dorastor in time to witness Arkat’s assault on the Tower of Dreams and him cirsomg the amcoemt technology of the Feldichi. Talor takes inspiration and casts his own curse on the (few surviving) Telmori with the gift.

We discuss whether the Telmori shape-shifting could be done through the wyter with multi-casting etc, and the pitfalls of using the wyter’s permanent POW to fuel these spells.

Jörg doubts thtt Telmori packs can support a regular wyter.

Arkat’s Command

The Shadow Tribute, expanded to the Dagori Inkart trolls by Arkat’s command, to compensate for missed booty from the Dara Happans, whose tribute initially paid for the troll portion.

Jörg points out the irony that subsequently, the Heortling lands become the urbanized, (and ultimately enlightened) civilization Lokamayadon would have wanted, the Kingdom of Orlanthland and later the EWF.

And now Jörg asks how any of this is relevant to your game set in the now of RuenQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

Ludo talks about three levels of artefacts etc. to unearth – recent history, old history, and the Godtime.

There are two approaches – either you can use all this history, sprinkle in odd facts (like the connection fo the magical sword Ironbreaker with Arkat), or you can just improvise ignoring established history, expanding it with your own.

Ludo argues you can just “make up some shit”.

Jörg talks about players researching these layers, pulling together artefiacts etc. There is also the cyclical nature of Glroanthan history, and it would be weird not to re-use stuff that happened to Arkat which doesn’t happen to Argrath.

Jörg talks about similarities between Morag, the horned brother of Biturian’s sister Norayeep, and how this character might emerge as a companion of Arkat, a horned hero, either overtowering physique or weird magic. Listen to the Bitouran Varosh series of podcasts if you want to know more about this.

Ludo asks whether Argrath is expected to multiclass like Arkat did, and Jörg doesn’t think so.

We talk about how player characters can become necessary elements of Argrath’s heroquesting. Basically the stuff Biturian is offered again and again, and rejects. Ludo tells a similar story about his current players refusing to meet Argrath (during the Lunar occupaiton of Pavis).. Jörg suggests offers that cannot be refused (when offered in a raspy voice).

To summarize:

Arkat’s foes were people, too.

Arkat’s friends had some very strange stories.

Ludo accuses Jörg of pulling a historian’s agenda, but Jörg counters with the developments in Ralios where Arkat is bound to return. Five Arkats (plus a few more false ones).

Jörg makes a case for Arkati bringing knowledge to heroquesting where Harmast brought emoition and passion, and for the power of invoking the appropriate mythical identifications. Know your history, know your enemies, outsmart them.

In conclusion, we address the parallel with the Exploring Glorantha series covering the same time-frame.

Notice that this is the text version only. Return for page references and links soonish.


The intro music is “The Warbird” by Try-Tachion. Other music includes “Cinder and Smoke” and “Skyspeak“, along with audio from the FreeSound library.

Joerg and Ludo welcome Bud from Bud’s RPG Review, where we see his hands in a typical unboxing set-up, not just doing flip-throughs but also a whole series of explanation videos:

[1] It seems that since the episode was recorded, Bud fixed the duplicated RuneQuest video playlist… or maybe Ludo imagined it.

Another place to find Bud is the “Bud and Griff’s Gaming Creepshow” podcast, a “podcast about spooky gaming” (in Bud’s words):

Last but not least, Bud is one of the authors of the Miskatonic Repository bestselling book Viral: A Modern Call of Cthulhu Scenario, with Alex Guillotte. For those of you less involved with Call of Cthulhu, the Miskatonic Repository is the sister community content program to the Jonstown Compendium.

Bud states that his “Bud Explains” videos (which Ludo has faithfully linked from his newsletter) are really for beginners, since delving into the lore of Glorantha can be hard work. He promises more in the future.

Finally you can find Bud on Twitter, if that thing is still going by the time you read this.

Main Topic

Going to our main topic, Ludo says that you will find mention of that guy Arkat in many places, with plenty of lore to dig into. So who is this guy, and why is he cool?

What Does Your RuneQuest Character Knows About Arkat

Bud points out that many of the things Arkat did are kind of hidden.

Arkat is possibly most renowned for being the person who mastered heroquesting and for being the slayer of a god, whom he called Gbaji the Deceiver, but who was known to his worshippers as Nysalor.

Bud remains neutral on whether the deity slain by Arkat was the Deceiver or not.

Ludo gives the context that all of these great deeds happened about 1200 years ago (if you are playing in the normal 1625 time frame). To give a comparison from our world’s history, Ludo suggests a weird Arthurian hero, Jörg interjects that Charlemagne fits the time frame even better. Ludo jokes that Charlemagne was evil because he introduced the school system, but Jörg points out that his evil included the genocide of the Saxons, and that that may be why the peace price of the European Union is named after him.

Getting back on topic, Ludo points out that the Gbaji Wars ended with the blighting and destruction of Dorastor, formerly a beautiful and fertile land.

Bud calls Arkat’s action the rites of cleansing, even though they poisoned the land.

(Arkat did curse the land of Dorastor, and sort of bound the Chaos that had been loosed in the final phase of the Gbaji Wars to this ruined place. The land remained dormant for quite a while until both God Learners and EWF explorers took an interest, which seems to have awakened the land.)

Ludo then talks about Arkat’s star, which appeared when Arkat apotheosized early in the Second Age. Jörg claims that the star vanished since, because the God Learners hid the way.

(Doing some additional research after the podcast, the Guide p.646 claims that Arkat is a prominent constellation in the area of the sky called the Celestial Fields, between the Celestial Forest and the Celestial River.)

(The star map on p. 645 only shows a differently named constellation: the Doves, which is how the Dara Happans name the constellation. They were followers of Nysalor and have no love at all for the slayer of their god, whom they name Gbaji.)

(The list of constellations talks about the constellation of Arkat, stating that only one star was visible there at the Dawn, but that Arkat’s apotheosis caused three bright companions and a number of less bright ones nearby that some claim for the hero as well.)

So Jörg was wrong by remembering correctly that there is no constellation named Arkat on the star map.

Bud then points out that Arkat also is a troll god.

Ludo then sums it up: Arkat was several things to several people, he was some sort of either hero or antihero or evil war general. “He killed a whole bunch of people and did many awesome things.”

The Life of Arkat

Bud starts by telling us that Arkat was born in the elf forests of Brithos, interestingly during the Sunstop… or the Sunspot? Linguistic shenanigans ensue, and come to haunt us.

The Sunstop occurred in the year 375 S.T. (“Solar Time”, after the Dawn) when the Second Council (cooperating with the Dara Happan Empire) created Osentalka, the (presumed) Perfect God, in their capital in Dorastor.

(Several other contributors to the Sunstop include Malkioni sorcerers in Fronela casting a great ritual against the Hsunchen shamans, the Kralori Emperor meditating on a potent symbol – the Dragon’s Eye, and a hundred thousand Aldryami in Pamaltela calling on a good spirit to combat a virulent rot affecting them and their forests. See the Guide to Glorantha p.128 for the wider view. A good introductory read is the history from Cults of Terror, available on the Well of Daliath and reprinted in the Guide.)

Bud goes into detail on Arkat’s birth on Brithos, an island in the western Neliomi Sea that disappeared during the Closing (some say that its disappearance caused the Closing).

Arkat’s birth may have been the creation of the opposite to the newborn god in Dorastor, a balancing force brought in by the universe. The new god was born outside of the Compromise, making the birth of Arkat the opposition of the universe to this insult to Time.

Bud compares this to Argrath being the nemesis of the Red Goddess.

Arkat was fostered by the Aldryami of Brithos, and supposedly illuminated by them at a young age, which Bud thinks is another great irony. About 24 years later he was part of the 4th Brithos Army of Law,

Eventually he became known as the son of Humakt, Arkat Humaktsson.

Progressing through local wars (with the Vampire Kings of Tanisor still as Brithini soldier, then alongside the Seshnegi Men-of-All against the Nieby priests led by Gaalth, then joining the Orlanthi of the upper Tanier River in their fight against Gbaji‘s shock troops, the Telmori who had received Nysalor’s blessing to turn into magical wolves on Wilddays) Arkat became aware of the Riddlers of Nysalor.

In Seshnela, the priests of Nysalor apparently spread poison, or an unhealable disease, and offered healing and protection from it, thereby getting people to worship Nysalor.

Arkat saw and showed that Nysalor had a duality, that he wasn’t just a benevolent god who illuminated people and taught them a different way of thinking, he exposed the deity behind these priests as the Chaos God Gbaji. Arkat made it his life quest to slay Gbaji and free the world from the great Deceiver.

(Much of Arkat’s earliest activities are mentioned in the list of the Kings of Seshnela on the Well of Daliath to greater detail than in the Guide to Glorantha, where p.410 gives details about Arkat’s deeds in Seshnela.)

Skipping far ahead, eventually Arkat managed to invade Dorastor, the homeland of Nysalor, and slew the enemy god atop the Tower of Miracles in the City of Dreams. He supposedly dismembered Nysalor and had its parts scattered and buried around Glorantha.

However, slaying a god doesn’t come easy, and Arkat looked into heroquesting at various points. He brought the Unbreakable Sword with him, the original Death, to enable him to slay a god.

Supposedly when he was on one of his heroquests, he encountered himself as a troll and was wounded by himself, an unhealable wound that he carried with him for his entire life that caused him discomfort.

Also, Arkat is known to have mapped out the Gods’ Realm to enable passage for him, which explains how he ended up so ridiculously powerful.

Before he actually went to slay Nysalor, he underwent the Rite of Rebirth and became one of the Uzuz (the Mistress Troll Race).

There are various pieces of art depicting Arkat as an armoured troll fighting Nysalor.

Once Arkat had killed Nysalor, he created the Autarchy, a.k.a. Stygian Empire, in Ralios and modern Seshnela. Ralios lies west of Dragon Pass, south of Dorastor.

The capital of the Autarchy was Arkhome (on the Nidan river in Rindland, a portion of the ancient Ralian territory of Fornoar now belonging to the modern Kingdom of Seshnela. See the political map on p.417 in the Guide to Gloranha. It was the place where Harmast emerged with Arkat on his first Lightbringer’s Quest.)

Arkat eventually pulled a Thanos move and retired, his work done.

The destruction of Nysalor ended the Dawn Age, making Arkat sort of responsible for starting the cycle of Ages in Glorantha’s History.

Ludo picks up the Thanos comparison and also brings up Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now as another powerful archetype resembling Arkat.

Arkat, The Ultimate Minmaxer

Ludo recapitulates how Nysalor became the god of the Bright Empire, spreading a philosophy of participation and harmony, but on its fringes Arkat figured out that missionaries from the Empire were causing the problems that they professed to solve, resulting in Arkat vowing to destroy Nysalor’s Empire.

In order to do that, he initiated into a series of cults and religions.

(Ludo fails to mention his origins as a Child of the Forest, a bucolic existence in the forest like the happy end for Morag from Biturian’s travelogue, and his illumination experience there.)

Arkat was “initiated” into the Horali caste (his grandfather’s caste) on Brithos, the warrior caste of ancient Malkionism.

Then he moved on to the (Seshnegi-style) Hrestoli Man-of-All, mastering all of the Malkioni castes, and all the power, including sorcery,

Then he went on and became friendly with the Orlanthi, initiating into Orlanth, and then Humakt.

Then he needed anti-Chaos powers and became a troll (through the Ritual of Rebirth, initiating him to Kyger Litor) and joined Zorak Zoran for his final assault on Dorastor.

Arkat basically multiclassed like crazy, making him the ultimate mini-maxer in Ludo’s eyes.

Jörg counters that Arkat’s spiritual experiences resembled serial monogamy – whatever cult Arkat joined, he joined with all his being.

Ludo counter-argues that Arkat kept all the powers, and Bud claims that the reason for that was that Arkat was illuminated. Bud claims that this was due to the illuminates’ immunity to Spirits of Reprisal that would otherwise plague an apostate.

Jörg argues that the benefit of Illumination is rather a compartmentalization of the illuminate’s personality.

Bud continues that Arkat essentially ploughed roughshot over multiple cults, his aim being to accumulate as much power as he could to destroy Nysalor, and that Arkat was right, be cause he did it. (Which is questioned by Jorg.)

Bud feels that this is where Your Glorantha May Vary falls down slightly, when unlike the fluidity of the God Time, things go into the historical record.

What went on atop the Tower of Dreams? Nobody knows, nobody else was there. But everything else is part of the historical record, there are records of Arkat becoming a troll, the whole thing was written down by a troll who witnessed the event (and can be read in the Jonstown Compendium excerpt on trolls provided by the RQ3 Troll Gods box if you are lucky enough to own it).

Bud acknowledges historical bias, but unlike the Gods Age where you can see things from different perspectives – how many versions of the Lightbringers’ Quest are there? – but when it is viewing things from the historical record, that’s really all you got to go off.

Jörg claims that the thing about the Gbaji Wars was a clash of realities.

His personal pet theory is that whenever Arkat looked in the direction of Nysalor, he saw Gbaji, Whenever Nysalor looked in the direction of Arkat, he saw Gbaji, the chaotic Deceiver God.

What Nysalor did (or what actually his creators from the Second Council and Dara Happa did using the Pseudocosmic Egg) was to create a new reality where everything was bright and shiny and harmonious (at least once the dissenting voices of the Heortling Orlanthi and the trolls and dragonewts had been muted), and Arkat was born on the other side of this effect. Arkat brought his anti-Nysalor effect with him, and so realities clashed whenever the forces of Nysalor and of Arkat met.

Jörg draws a comparison to the Glowline (which separates a magical reality full of Lunar glow from the drab mundane reality outside) because the Glowline is a bit of a copy of this Bright Empire thing. (Jörg fails to mention the Young Elementals from the Seven Mothers write-up as his evidence.)

Bud demands to expand that a little more, since the Glowline is something everyone can see (at least on days of the Dark Moon when it makes a difference). Jörg mentions the Dan Barker illustration in the Guide p.724 which shows Arkat and Nysalor, with different skin tones and expressions but otherwise identical faces (or at least beard styles).

Arkat’s Multiple Initiations and Mastery of Heroquesting

Ludo explains how this series of cultic initiations let Arkat experience a lot of “safe” (re-enacted) cult heroquests and gave him a unique experience of arriving at the same God Time events from different quests (including the one where Zorak Zorani Arkat wounded Hrestoli or Horali Arkat).

Arkat was the first heroquester who voluntarily went off-script in his heroquesting, exploring the hero plane seeing connected paths and creating a map.

Arkat greatly innovated the art of heroquesting.

Jörg compares a heroquest to a medieval road map which only shows one linear journey where you reach intermediate spots where you could go elsewhere, leading to your initial target.

Arkat would have followed two (or more) separate heroquests to a Hero Plane location (a Godtime event) and he would have known where both paths leading there came from, and where he could continue from that station.

Ludo compares Arkat’s method to a hex crawl across the hero plane.

Bud offers a different term than off-script: Arkat got to go back-stage, also getting an insight how all of this worked.

Ludo brags about his ChaosiumCon playtest glimpse of the ever-upcoming heroquesting rules for RuneQuest. Bud (jokingly) rejects the notion that such a thing exists.

Ludo goes on to describe how those rules have techniques reminiscent of the sorcery techniques in RQG, techniques like Ranging. Arkat developed these techniques, and later the God Learners put names on them.

Ludo talks about the relationship between Arkati heroquesting and God Learner heroquesting.

Bud points out that a lot what the God Learners did was based on Arkat’s work anyway.

Ludo mentions Arkat’s very specific philosophy that all heroquesting was to be “with respect and humility”.

Apparently, Arkat set up a heroquesting police that was basically patrolling the hero plane and slapping the fingers of any transgressors.

Jörg and Bud point out that the Arkati presence more often manifests as stationary guardians.

Ludo goes on to compare the God Learner heroquesters with Mad Scientists (TM) who got whatever they wanted and destroyed many of the remaining Arkati stationary guardians, exploring the Hero Plane without any ethics.

Ludo imagines playing a Dark Empire heroquesting game where you are the guardians, something Jörg compares to the Time Police. Bud adds that these police would make sure that you don’t mess with reality too much, but that’s the problem. The God Learners effectively wiped these guardians out and made the hero plane their playground.

Jörg points out that when you enter the hero plane these days, you will still find the black guardians at all the major crossings, suggesting that the God Learners failed to eradicate them all.

Ludo approves of their presence for games set in the 1625 era,

Bud claims that the problem about the God Learners is that there isn’t all that much written about them. Bud wanted to do a video about them and was stopped by the scarcity of material.

Arkat Went to Hell

Probably several times, but very prominently involuntarily so when Palangio the Iron Vrok killed and dismembered him in Ralios around 418 S.T. Arkat was sent to a special Hell he could not use his heroic powers to escape from, which since has become a tradition to do to the big bad anti-illumination guy.

That Hell was supposed to be inaccessible, but an Orlanthi hero by the name of Harmast Barefoot managed to get him back.

Arkat had basically two lives. (The Xeotam Dialogue in the Sourcebook p.74 calls this state of being a Kaelith.)

Bud points out that Arkat having been dismembered is what he went on to do with Nysalor. Ludo asks whether that was petty, but Bud calls that the ultimate revenge.

Jörg brings up dismemberment as a proven method to get rid of a god – citing the dismemberment of Umath even before the discovery of Death as proof for the efficiency of the method.

Ludo philosophizes that a lot of people get dismembered in Glorantha, which Bud counters with the predilection of people to lose their left legs in (RuneQuest) Glorantha.

A Hero’s Retirement

Ludo points out that Arkat had fifty years of fighting, and then fifty years of peaceful retirement, during which he sets up the Autarchy (called Stygian Empire by its foes). He spends those years teaching his secrets and benevolently overseeing the lands without much interference.

Bud replies Ludo’s question about the fate of the Autarchy that it fell in the end, to the forces of the God Learners (during the reign of Annmak Peacemaker, in 740 S.T.)

Jörg points out that the Dark Empire was the premier Malkioni (and Orlanthi, and troll) realm in Genertela. It ruled over the entire Tanisor valley (the land ironically called Kingdom of Seshnela in the Third Age) and Safelster, with the capital Arkhome situated in Rindland, the home Duchy of Bailifes the Hammer who founded the new Kingdom of Seshnela.

Jörg nerdplains that Autarchy roughly translates from Greek as Self-Rule, and that that was what he allowed the local potentates to do, the Archons who were basically his disciples who kept oversight over some of those places.

The term Archon still is used for the rulers of Safelster, where a city-state might also be called an Archonate.

Fast-forwarding to the Now of RQG (i.e. 1625 ST), what is the legacy that Arkat left behind?

Bud quips that there is one less god. Or at least Nysalor required a lot of patching together by the Red Goddess, as Ludo points out. Which Bud compares to a jigsaw puzzle with too many parts.

Jörg puts forward that Gbaji was dismembered at the same time as Nysalor, who was cut into 49 parts which the Lunars collected. When the Lunars collected the parts, they ended up with more than 50, and they made sure that they weren’t using any portion of Gbaji when re-assembling Nysalor.

Bud asks whether the Lunars could differentiate between the portions of Nysalor and Gbaji, and Jörg suggests that the Lunars know about Chaos, so he gueses they could. They say so.

Ludo corroborates that when the Lunar propaganda says so, it is probably true. Right?

There are still followers of Black Arkat active on the hero planes, doing things to heroquesters, and (on the mundane plane) to people they suspect of Godlearnerism.

These Arkati can pop up and jinx your heroquests, or even your preparations for those.

Jörg manages to confuse Arkat’s Last Fortress near Kartolin Pass (crossing from Ralios into Dorastor) with Arkat’s Hold in Esrolia, the city at the end of the Building Wall.

Ludo points to The Smoking Ruins which has information and stats on some Black Arkati from that place.

Bud points out that Arkat was in his seventies when he became a troll. Bud ponders whether Arkat underwent the Ritual of Rebirth because trolls are longer-lived than humans.

Jörg counters that Arkat was born as a Brithini, a race that doesn’t age when they maintain their caste restrictions (something Arkat definitely did not do), and age slowly if they did.

Bud mentions the years of war wearing down on Arkat, and his unhealable wound from that heroquest. By normal standards, Arkat would have been an old man yet unable to fulfill his life quest (writing this feels strange the day after the coronation of King Charles III), although by Brithini standards he was still a young man (according to Jörg just about initiation age, really).

Another aspect of Arkat is that as an Illuminate, he should have known better than to pursue his revenge so relentlessly. When you’re illuminated, you understand that Chaos is not always bad.

Jorg interjects that that is why some people claim that Arkat became a Chaos monster in the end in order to overcome Nysalor. Bud asks for citations, Jörg points out that no witnesses survived. (This could be inferred from the upcoming five-fold return of Arkat in Safelster, in the boxed text on p.385 in the Guide to Glorantha.)

Bud reports that the argument has been made that Arkat never became a troll, casting doubt on the reliability of the troll witness of his Ritual of Rebirth. Bud admits that when Arkat returned from his fight atop the Tower of Dreams, he was no longer a troll.

Jörg brings up another pet theory of his, that Arkat might have become a Kitori shape-shifter (in addition to joining the cults of Kyger Litor and Zorak Zoran), the adoptive species imitating the Only Old One capable of taking human, troll and dehori (darkness spirit) shape.

Ludo admits that Arkat did ally with the Only Old One in the Shadowlands, and that he might have picked up a trick or two there. Which would be also more multiclassing, as Bud remarks.

Jörg points out that after the Gbaji Wars, the Kitori were collectively called Arkati by the Orlanthi (at least in History of the Heortling People p.72).

We digress about the Hillbilly nature of Orlanthi, and that an argument (which is what you get when you bring two or more Orlanthi together) might the best collective name for a bunch of Orlanthi (much like a Murder of Crows).

The Illumination Bit

Ludo steers the conversation back to illumination, pointing out that Nysalor was illuminated too. (Cart before the horse, really, as Nysalor was the source for that form of Illumination.)

Ludo is getting more vibes of Anarchy vs. Law/Order than of anti-Chaos vs. Chaos. He feels that the two enemies had opposed philosophies and politics about what to do with the continent of Genertela, with one making everything yellow and bright with great cities and laws and imposed order, and Arkat demanding that everybody should rule themselves (making him the ultimate punk).

Bud mentions his Illumination explanatory video and says that that is the argument against Illumination, and that the Red Goddess is taking the blame for adhering to a difference between Draconic and Nysalorean illumination (which is what the Red Goddess is spreading). Bud claims that when dragons become illuminated, they leave Glorantha, whereas when Nysaloreans achieve illumination, they stay around and use their power of illumination to build up more power, whereupon the universe creates an opposite power, and that where Nysalor was the action, Arkat was the reaction.

Jörg brings up the Nysalor quote “At the Edge of Light, there is always Darkness” as his reaction to learning about the spreading of the disease in Seshnela. Bud quips that that sounds like equivalent of “thoughts and prayers”.

Ludo thinks the dragons have the right idea, but Jörg cannot help to mention that the only dragon he remembers to have left the world was Obduran the Flyer, the only EWF Orlanthi who became a (full) dragon.(Details in History of the Heortling Peoples, p.44, 803 S.T,)

Back on topic, Ludo asks how to put Arkat into your RQG games.

Bud suggests that Chaosium should do an epic campaign, based on the idea that the Lunars put Nysalor back together, and then having Arkat return and deal with it.

Jörg mentions that he contributed to a game like that, the 1995 Freeform Rise of Ralios, a follow-up to Reaching Moon Megacorp’s 1994 How the West Was One, with the core idea that the five prophesied Arkats return.

Ludo asks whether that means that there were five aspects of Arkat coming back from the hero plane, like a troll Arkat etc.,

Ludo points out that when you are illuminated, Chaos is not necessarily bad, and a Chaos Monster Arkat could be useful.

Bud brings up that Arkat defeated the Crimson Bat at one point, and Jörg elaborates that it might have been called the Purple Bat before, a death demon of Rinliddi which Arkat flayed, which is how it became Crimson.

After taking a moment’s pause, Bud calls Arkat a bad-ass.

Bud asks whether there is any other hero in Gloranthan history who has accomplished what Arkat has accomplished. Jörg proposes Sheng Seleris. Bud complains that Sheng was killed, but Jörg replies that so was Arkat. We quibble about stars lost and returning.

Ludo points out that Arkat was liberated by the Lightbringers Quest, and then gives a metaplot spoiler that Argrath is expected to liberate Sheng Seleris with his Lightbringers’ Quest.

Jörg calls Argrath Arkat the Liberator. Ludo rambles on that much like Harmast being an Orlanthi hero performing a Lightbringers’ Quest liberating Arkat from Hell, Argrath is an Orlanthi hero prophesied to liberate Sheng Seleris from Hell, claiming that history repeats itself. Whether because of cycles of cosmic significance or because the designers run out of ideas Ludo doesn’t know.

Ludo points out that Arkat’s story was among the first Gloranthan pieces written by Greg, with the protagonist still called Argat, which only later morphed into Arkat, with the similarity of Argrath (both names meaning “Liberator”) intentional.

Jörg points out that Greg’s Glorantha at the time did not yet know Dragon Pass, When Greg decided to publish his Glorantha stories not as books but as a series of games, he took his character Arkat and put him in that board game called White Bear and Red Moon by a slightly different name.

Ludo stubbornly tries to steer us back towards how to use Arkat in your games.

One possibility might be the presence of pieces of Nysalor (or Gbaji) still lying around in some hiding places, as McGuffins for scenarios, claiming that Arkat might even have taken Nysalor’s own monsters and set them up as guardians of those bits.

Bud interjects that that implies that Nysalor was a thing of Chaos, and he says he wasn’t. Ludo refuses to be Deceived.

Now Bud admits that some say that it was Gbaji who walked away from the Tower of Dreams that day, but Ludo wants to delay talking about the crazy conspiracy theories a little longer.

Ludo points towards Safelster, where each city state may be the guardian of some pocket or snippet of Arkati knowledge, giving way to some sort of secret society/spy game shenanigans, whether in Safelster or carried into the Hero Wars in and around Dragon Pass.

Bud asks whether anybody knows where Arkat was buried. Jörg suggests near Arkhome, but draws a blank whether his body was buried, whether he was cremated, or whether Arkat ascended bodily. After all, Sartar did not leave a body behind, either.

Ludo suggests that he may have asked his followers do dismember his body after he left, hiding them away, and maybe that were some of the extra bits the Lunars found, so that they now have a Frankenstein Nysalor that may contain certain amounts of Arkat, making a Voltron illuminated god.

Jörg suggests that alternatively Arkat may have had a troll burial, becoming a funerary feast.

Bud ominously says “he exists within trolls” (and at least Jörg can hear the idea of hyena skins being sewn together transferred to Arkat and Mistress Race stomachs).

Ludo rambles about the fact that while Arkat ascended as a god, the God Learners installed locks that prevent people from contacting the hero in the God Plane.

Ludo correctly points out that there are still people maintaining these God Learner locks (check out the last paragraph on p.415 in the Guide, the city of Harsad near the ruins of Arkhome). This cripples all the many surviving (or resurrected) Arkati cults that claim they got Arkat’s power. Jörg points out that the greatest of the God Learners, Halwal, who had turned against his compatriots, had attempted to re-unite and return a single Arkat, and even he failed (which may be why he and his opponent Yomili ended up mutually eliminating not just themselves but many of their allies and foes, polluting the region of the Red Ruins to this day).

Ludo explains that when he gets his players into heroquesting, he plans to give them some God Learner or Arkati obstacles. Bud points out that there is supposedly a God Learner alive, as a prisoner of Ralzakark receiving daily torture.

Ludo states that whenever you see something phrased as a rumor, it will be true in somebody’s version of Glorantha.

Jörg repeats the slander that Belintar was a God Learner.

Ludo drops a spoiler for Andrew Logan Montgomery’s Company of the Dragon where your heroquesting players might come across a God Learner who got lost on the hero plane, without any idea how much Time has passed in the mundane world.

Jörg points out that Nick Brooke’s Scenario Duel at Dangerford has a Humakti guardian who might be sort of an Arkati heroquesting guard.

Bud proposes that the Arkati guardians at thresholds in the Hero Plane might not be guarding with death as the alternative. He brings up the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant as having a possible parallel to the Arkati hero plane guardians, as Guardians who aren’t there to necessarily stop you but to prevent you from stumbling into things you aren’t prepared for yet.

And then the God Learners found ways of bypassing a lot of them, which is one of the crimes they committed.

Jörg mentions that one of the guardians removed by the God Learners was a raccoon, the Raccoon Guardian of Tusunimmi Ford, causing some hilarity when telling the story and mis-attributing it (not Cults of Terror, but the Glorantha Book of the RQ3 Genertela Box and subsequently the Guide p.136). Bud’s observation that this sounds like a pipe dream might be accurate given the work environment at The Chaosium at the time this was written.

Glorantha can be more than a bit gonzo, at the same time being this down-to-earth Bronze Age fantasy thing.

Crazy Conspiracy Theories

Bud declines to be first responder to Ludo’s demand for crazy conspiracy theories.

Jörg puts forward that Argrath is Arkat the Liberator, and his Lightbringer’s Quest liberating Sheng is also a way of paying back the cosmic karma to Harmast liberating Arkat.

Ludo asks whether that means that the other four of the five returning Arkats could be player characters, and Jörg agrees. (Played and tested in the 1995 run of Rise of Ralios.)

Jörg suggests that there will be more than five such people claiming to be Arkat. All of them KNOW they are the real deal, but several will be proven to be false.

Ludo’s theory involves the motives of the Second Council awakening Nysalor – to bring Harmony between Glorantha and the Void. Arkat ruined that chance of reconciliation.

Bud asks about the runes of Nysalor. There is definitely light (fire without the dot in the center, aka a circle).

Ludo brags about his brand-new copy of the Prosopaedia for Cults of RuneQuest that he brought back from ChaosiumCon and looks it up. It is Light and Mastery, and there is neither Harmony nor Chaos nor Moon.

Ludo (jokingly?) comes to the conclusion that the Prosopaedia was written by biased people and suggests to ignore it.

Bud finally comes clear that his theory is that Arkat was defeated on the Tower of Dreams, and that Gbaji deceived everybody by pretending he was Arkat, and walking away. That would also make Gbaji the founder of the Autarchy, the Heroquesting police, etc.

One “proof” is that Arkat no longer looked like a troll when he left.

When Ludo casts doubt – after all most that Arkat did afterwards was to settle down on a farm – Jörg suggests that that’s what THEY tell you. Bringing up pluripresence, Jörg states that One of Them (Them being Arkat, or Gbaji) went to Arkhome and settled down,

Bud suggests that that would have been the ultimate deception for Gbaji the Deceiver, deception for deception’s sake, but when Jörg suggests that deceiving everybody possibly included deceiving himself, Bud thinks that is going too far.

Ludo comes forward with another theory – Arkat did win, but only because Nysalor wanted him to win, to dismember him and spread him around all over the known world. Bud objects that the Red Goddess was not illuminated by the body parts of Nysalor but by the spirit of the god in Hell.

Jörg’s suggestion that the dismemberment of Nysalor could be seen as a version of utuma is rejected by Ludo, who wants to have some clear distinction between these two ways towards enlightenment.

Jörg points out that the core point of draconic enlightenment is to make True Dragons out of neotenic dragons, and that human adaptation of that has always resulted in strange things.

Bud refers to Company of the Dragon which has Andrew Logan Montgomery’s essay on draconic illumination, with dragonewts having problems to wake up to draconic reality while dragons spend their time sleeping before finally ascending.

This segues into what kind of illumination did Arkat have.

Jörg dodges this by tracking back where Arkat supposedly received his illumination, giving the aldryami of Brithos as the source, asking what kind they would have had.

Bud goes back into the Godtime, where Rashoran (an aspect or jigsaw piece of the reconstituted Red Goddess) was the source of all illumination. Jörg claims that Rashoran was effectively Nysalor pre-born, or that Nysalor was the reincarnation of Rashoran.

We discuss Rashoran’s credentials (illuminated Chalana Arroy and Humakt, illuminated the Unholy Trio who then killed Rashoran and created the Devil) and his role in the birth of the Red Goddess.

Bud wants to argue that if Rashoran was the earlier version of the Red Goddess, then Nysalorean illumination really is Lunar illumination, whereas Jörg insists that Lunar illumination is Nysalorean illumination. Which one was first, the hen or her egg?

Jörg agrees that the Lunars say that Rashoran was an incarnation of the Red Goddess, and that we know that what the Lunars say is true. They would never deceive us.

In reaction to this riddle, Bud spurts that if the Lunars know that Chaos is not necessarily a bad thing, then it doesn’t matter if their reconstituted Nysalor contained bits of Gbaji, and that their claims of being able to discern what was what was a deception.

Jörg calls that out as vile slander, and probably true.

In this huddle of confusion, bad puns and talking nonsens, we realize that we have reached the targeted length of this episode, and give Bud another chance to promote his presence on the interwebs.

Any further shenanigans (or pre-show banter) are not subject of this transcript.


The intro music is “The Warbird” by Try-Tachion. Other music includes “Cinder and Smoke” and “Skyspeak“, along with audio from the FreeSound library.

After a hiatus last month we are back with another Glorantha Initiation episode in which we interview a newcomer to the tribe. This time, Ludo is by himself due to some scheduling issue with Joerg (it was Ludo’s fault), interviewing Michael Bernth.

Michael lives in Europe’s first… no, second (probably?) happiest country. He is a multi-skilled designer (among other things) so if you’re working on a Jonstown Compendium book, he might be able to help with some InDesign layout work!

Show Notes

In this episode we talk about:

  • Miniatures of the 1980s
  • Comics like Conan the Barbarian (Barry Windsor-Smith’s run) or Prince Valiant
  • Ivanhoe (1952)
  • D&D Basic and Expert, followed by Advanced D&D
  • Going bananas with RPGs: Traveller, Bushido, Golden Heroes, Rolemaster, and more
  • Games Workshop’s RuneQuest and Broos miniatures
  • Call of Cthulhu, Cyberpunk, GURPS, Delta Green
  • Avalon Hill RuneQuest, Sun County, River of Cradles
  • The Grognard Files podcast and coming out of the “deep freeze”
  • Jonstown Compendium, and in particular the Sandheart series
  • Playing in Prax
  • Not throwing too much at the players
  • How to put all the lore and metaplot events in the game
  • Dealing with the metaplot the same way you treat real history in Call of Cthulhu adventures
  • Not being so precious about the lore
  • Lots of gold lying around in the Glorantha materials… pick it up and do what you want with it
  • Playing with new fantasy tropes, different from the usual Tolkienesque stereotypes
  • Playing with rich cultures, mythology, and cults
  • Glorantha is not about good vs evil or even order vs chaos
  • Chaos is great, it can add a touch of horror in your fantasy game
  • Where to start? Are there actually too many places to start?
  • Lack of knowledge to “hang yourself onto”
  • Broos are problematic, Morokanths may need tweaking
  • Handwaving rules like ENC, varying crunch based on the story
  • Spirit combat easily gets into a dealock, possession can lead to player agency issues, shamanism and sorcery rules are complicated, and… how does heroquesting even work?
  • The rulebook has many editing issues, and its index could be improved
  • Wishing for spell cards, god cards, and a Gloranthan tarot deck. But overall, wishing for Gloranthan novels and short story collections
  • Romulus TV show

…and more!


The intro music is “Dancing Tiger” by Damscray. The outro music is “Islam Dream” by Serge Quadrado. Other audio is from the FreeSound library.