Welcome to a new issue of the Journal of Runic Studies, the premier Malkioni publication for studies into the nature of Glorantha. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please consult with the spirit bound to the appropriate electronic page.
God Learner Sorcery
Here is what us God Learners were up to this week.
Episode 22: People of Glorantha: The Lunar Empire
This week we welcome Nick Brooke, who tells us all about the Lunar Empire. We chat about what RuneQuest adventurers might know and think about the Lunars, the history of the Empire, playing a Seven Mothers initiate, and, of course, Chaos and Illumination!
As always, get our episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Here are this week’s Chaosium news!
Some Book Previews
As usual you can spot both the “normal” and “leatherette” versions of the books, although the Prosopaedia doesn’t seem to have a leatherette treatment here. I don’t know if it’s just missing from the picture, or if it won’t have it at all… I don’t care, I don’t buy the leatherette versions anyway. I prefer the pretty colour cover illustration, and I like having all my book spines looking the same.
Six Ages 2 Announcement
This isn’t strictly speaking Chaosium news, but it is “official licensee news” or something. The sequel to Six Ages (itself a, let’s say, “spiritual sequel” to the cult classic King of Dragon Pass) is now formally announced! There is no firm release date, but there is a fancy trailer (see above)
It sounds like you can import your clan data from the first Six Ages, or create a new clan. The new game is called “Lights Going Out” because you will experience the Great Darkness: some of your gods die, Chaos invades your lands, and bad things happen in general.
Tribal Compatibility Charts
Here’s a little tidbit of information on the upcoming Sartar Homeland book: it will have some tribal compatibility charts, similar to the one for cults:
In the forthcoming Sartar Book there is a Tribal Compatability chart showing the relationship between all the tribes. There are a lot of tribes with hostility towards each other, but other than the relationship between the Telmori and several other tribes, only the Dinacoli and the Cinsina are enemies. The Malani and Colymar are hostile, but are not enemies.
The Jonstown Compendium is Chaosium’s community content program for all Gloranthan games, hosted on DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer: all the relevant links are affiliate links that hopefully will let us cover some of the hosting and maintenance costs for the website and podcast! Thanks for using them!
The Book of Doom in Print
Simon Phipp’s Book of Doom is available in print-on-demand! This is the book for people who always want more “stuff” in their RuneQuest games, like new spells and skills, new optional rules, new magical items, and more.
Jeff Richard, the current mastermind on everything Gloranthan at Chaosium, is often posting notes and thoughts on the RuneQuest Facebook group. Here’s our curated list from the past week. A partial archive of these sources is compiled on the Well of Daliath.
The Battle of Heroes
Jeff talks about the Battle of Heroes and the Hero Wars in general for RuneQuest:
During this period the setting changes. What was true in 1625 might be false 20 or 30 years later. New cults will appear. Some old cults will change or even die out. A lot happens and much of this is decided by your individual campaigns.
Now before anyone starts whinging about metaplots or other such complaints, remember that this has been the foundation of the setting since before RQ was even a concept. In fact, RQ was created for this – it is an unfortunate trick of history that it took fifty real years to get there!
[…] Anyone paying attention knows the basic contours of 1625-1628. Soon enough there will be guidelines for the whole Hero Wars period. I can’t wait to see what you all do with it!
I assume that, at the end of this quote, Jeff is talking about the upcoming “Dragon Pass Campaign” book he’s been working on for years. As far as we know it’s written in a style similar to the Great Pendragon Campaign, a generational campaign framework with a year-by-year high-level view of the “metaplot events”, along with many adventure seeds.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Chaosium will handle the RuneQuest timeline, and whether they will end up “stuck” in 1625 the same way previous RuneQuest editions were stuck in 1621-or-so. On the one hand, Chaosium promotes this upcoming world-shaking series of events, broadly known as the Hero Wars. On the other hand, we know the downsides of published products that advance the timeline: a book of adventures set in an Argrath-occupied Far Place, for instance, will be of little use to many people whose games have Argrath elsewhere, possibly still in New Pavis as per the RuneQuest rulebook.
My own naive prediction on the matter is that Chaosium will have one sequential line of books for the Hero Wars, and everything else being loosely tied to it or not at all:
- So there would be a series of “Dragon Pass Campaign” books, each advancing the plot by a few years. These are absolutely dedicated to the “metaplot”, but presented in a way that makes it easy to tweak the timeline as needed.
- All adventure books would be either loosely set in 1625 (the “starting” year), or have adventures that don’t get tied much with the political landscape. The “village threatened by a monster hiding in the woods” sort of adventure, with possibly some suggestions for integrating it with this or that year of the “metaplot”.
- And then all kinds of book independent from all this, such as the Cults of RuneQuest books, Gamemaster Guide, various Homeland books (which describe their areas “up to 1625”), and so on.
This way you get the benefit of the “metaplot”, but all tucked inside a designated campaign book that gets a sequel once every few years. What do you people think? What would you like to see from Chaosium?
The Two Suns of Glorantha
To me, one of the more interesting celestial phenomena in Glorantha is the relationship between Lightfore and the Sun. Lightfore rises each dusk in the east, and sets each dawn in the west. It is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Red Moon.
[…] At the Dawn, the Little Sun set and the Sun rose. Many religions link the two, as Lightfore and the Sun follow exactly the same path. Some versions of the story have the Little Sun carry or pull the Sun through the heavens.
It’s super interesting to think about how the people at the Dawn would have reacted to this. They had only known the Great Darkness, with maybe Lightfore’s dim light as the only “natural” source of light. Maybe they remembered (or had stories of) the previous Ages during which it was just, like, day all day long. But now the Sun is back but it’s moving across the sky (“what?! that’s new!“) and then going away (“oh shit! not this again!?“) and then back the next morning (“phew! that was stressful! is this going to happen all the time now? what the hell?“)
To look into this kind of thing, Jeff points at The Glorious Reascent of Yelm (GRoY), one of the Stafford Library books. It deals with the Solar cults around the 3rd century. But Jeff also warns that it needs to be taken into that historical context:
One of the problems with GRoY is that it is a document from the mid-First Age when a lot of stuff was still being explored. […] It is trying to make sense of phenomena that from the Third Age perspective have long been resolved.
See also Jeff’s list of the brightest-to-dimmest objects in the sky.
Calyz, the Fire of Men
Teshnos is a place I don’t know much about. It’s a sub-tropical region in the southeast corner of Genertela… if you look at the map above and go northwest from Teshnos, you end up in the Badlands and other Wastelands east of Prax. South of continental Teshnos (off the bottom of the map) is the island of Melib, which is also considered part of Teshnos.
Teshnos has fire-worshipping people, a bunch of custom Sky Gods, cool exotic Hsunchen tribes (including tiger people!), war-elephants, rice fields, opium dens, pirates, many dwarfs, and a shitload of elves. Have I sold the place to you yet?
And this brings us to Jeff’s note on Calyz, one of those custom Sky Gods:
The most interesting of the Teshnite gods to me is Calyz, the Fire of Men, inventor of cooking, smelting, and sex. Calyz is beloved by the common folk of Tesnos and one of the most popular cults in Teshnos. He serves as a protective deity in many Teshnite households.
The cults of Teshnos include:
- Calyz, as already mentioned.
- Solf is the “lord of volcanoes”, and basically an aspect of Lodril. But Solf “burned himself out” (I assume Teshnos has many dormant volcanoes) and now he’s a “lazy god of decadence”. If you want to do drugs or other kinds of depravities, he’s your guy.
- Somash is the god of the Sun, plus all kinds of fancy things (government, warriors, poets, etc) Probably an aspect of Yelm.
- Furalor is the Cleansing Fire and Goddess of Death. Jeff says the God Learners identified her with Oakfed, which… is a bit a let down if you ask me. Someone probably messed up their thesis and nobody bothered to redo the experiments.
- Tolat is a war god, associated with the Red Planet. He might be an aspect of Shargash, the Dara Happan war god. He’s also related to some kinds of moon stuff… I don’t know, moon stuff gets complicated. I’ll just slowly walk away and mention that there’s a pile of material related to this guy in the Guide. Some reading for another day.
- Zitro Argon is the god of old people. I suppose you can worship him to get coupons for that all-day-breakfast place around the corner.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. The son of Solf, the God Learners identified him with both Gustbran the Workfire and Mahome the Hearthfire.
[…] Now Calyz is a pretty complex deity compared to Gustbran and Mahome. He’s an inventor and crafter, crafty and clever, and also one who cares about ordinary mortals.
I can’t find any good reference to Calyz being a son of Solf, but hey, why not. But it’s indeed interesting that Calyz is identified as two deities, here. Gustbran is a minor redsmithing god, and Mahome is a minor household fire goddess. How the hell do two minor deities fuse into a major deity in Teshnos? This opens up some… interesting avenues of research for us God Learners. I mean, can you Voltron-up a couple minor gods and make something cool? Or are Gustbran and Mahome actually inferior, partial masks of Calyz? Let’s start fucking around the God Plane… I’m sure nothing bad will happen.
By the way, Jeff also mentions that many Lightbringer cults are found in Teshnos, brought by the God Learners and by ongoing trade. I figure that Teshnos is a good intermediate stop between the Holy Country, Kralorela, and the East Islands. This means that a lot of silk, spices, and other luxury goods would be found transiting through Teshnos… something to think about if your players want to take their commercial business to the oceans! Watch out for those pirates, though.
Here are this week’s notes for which I don’t have any commentary, or for which I ran out of time, but are still worth a quick read:
- Some notes on shamans, and how some practice their shamanism as a sort of side-gig to their main cult (like Earth witches or Kolatings), while other cults integrate shamans in their cult hierarchy as “shaman-priests” (like Daka Fal or Gorakiki).
- It’s not the size of the cult that counts, it’s the, ahem, place in the Cosmic Compromise, or something. Anyway, here are some more membership figures in Sartar (including the Far Place) for the “small cults”, along with a few comments. And a bonus note for the Valind cult.
- A reminder that Sartarite clans generally have mixed membership systems, as opposed to strictly patrilineal or matrilineal.
The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.
Vistas of New Pavis
Matthew Cole continues his “Vistas of New Pavis” project, which includes the 3D modelling of New Pavis. The picture above is a view of Parade Way from the Pavis Temple on a day of some city celebration.
The Pavis Temple is that thing at the bottom of the map above, leaning against the old giant wall. Parade Way is the north/south street leading to it. You can get a nice PDF of this map of New Pavis here.
For another vision of Parade Way during a bit worship celebration, see the cover of the now out of print Pavis: Gateway to Adventure.
All Fool’s Day
It was of course April Fools day last week, and Austin Conrad, who loves playing tricksters, has an appropriate new bit of world-building on “All Fool’s Day”:
A Sartarite custom declared by the local chief or Rex’s bonded trickster on an irregular basis (usually some time during Disorder week of Sea Season).
On All Fool’s Day, the trickster priest declares themselves the new King of the Gods. They drag out the local Inner Ring wearing ox’s harnesses and begin ritual abuse of the council. This ranges from verbal mockery to physical assault. Chalana Arroy’s representative can ransom themselves with a kiss, but no one else is exempt.
The trickster then holds open-air court, declaring judgments over any dispute brought before them. Once all judgments have been proclaimed, they leave to begin a secret ritual known to lay persons as “Getting a Head Start.”
After sunset the community typically frees their leaders. Any member of the Inner Ring not released by popular acclaim is surely doomed to lose their position!
Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web
Not everything is about Glorantha, although most things are! Here are loosely relevant things that we found on the interwebs.
Roman Road Construction
Okay so yes, yes, I know, not everybody wants their Lunar Empire to look like Romans but hey, it’s an easy pop culture way to picture parts of your Glorantha, and it’s the way our most recent guest, Nick Brooke, promotes in our interview with him. So let’s look at some Roman stuff! Namely, Roman roads!
At the height of the Roman Empire, there were 400,000 kilometres of roads. One of the most famous of these roads is the Appian Way, which connected Rome to southeastern Italy. But with its famous stone pavement, the Appian Way sort of gives the wrong impression about Roman roads:
It looks like only about 20% of all roads were paved, and that was mostly inside cities. The majority of Roman roads were made of packed material, as explained in those two short videos:
The interesting bit in the second video are of course the ditches, 20 meters away from the road on each side, to make life difficult for “unauthorized vehicles” and highway bandits. Feel free to add similar measures to your Gloranthan roads, whether it’s the Sartarite King Roads or the Pelorian highways…
But most importantly, you know those Hollywood movies where an action scene ends near a construction site for a highway bridge? Yeah, now I want to do that sort of stuff in Glorantha too, with out-of-control road construction animals, carts of big rocks knocked over in front of the adventurers, and people falling off an incomplete aqueduct!
Do you have more ideas for cool RuneQuest action scenes? Share them with us!
Thank you for reading
That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!