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AlexS last won the day on May 27 2023

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  • RPG Biography
    Standard-issue 80s RQ2 veteran, now rediscovering the setting with the help of those who kept the flame alive and an exciting new generation of Gloranthaphiles. Currently diving deeper into Gloranthan lore while also branching out into Pendragon.
  • Current games
    Playing in a Kethaela campaign using RQG, GM for a Pendragon campaign mashing up Starter Set material with original scenarios.
  • Location
    England / Brazil
  • Blurb
    Social scientist working in international development, passionate about history as well as culture, keen to go with the fantasy flow but inclined to be nerdy about things like clan politics and city government because of my day job.

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  1. @Nevermet has done some really useful thinking about Maniria, most of which can be found in the ‘Manirian Scratchpad’ thread, including a post with a great map of the Road (and associated inland-coastal trade routes) here:
  2. On p.76 the discussion of a possible marriage to Lady Ariette says that the Duke of Glevum has been “Ariette’s regent since the death of her father”. The terminology may come from an earlier edition (I only have KAP 5.2 and 6e) but my understanding is that regents exercise provisional power over territories not people, and that under medieval law Ariette is a ward, which means that the Duke is her guardian, not her “regent”.
  3. I know that on the map this huge area is described as the ‘Hendriki Kingdom’, but I wonder to what extent it was actually a unified Kingdom, much less an ‘Imperial’ polity. After all, most of what we know about the Hendriki is that they are generally pretty devoted to the principle that ‘no one can make you do anything’. Without an Alakoringite Orlanth Rex tradition, it is not clear how a single King of the Hendriki would have held unified sway over such a large and disparate set of holdings in anything other than a symbolic-homage sense. The Sword and Helm of Vingkot might have sustained a claim to ‘Imperial’ power that could have supported a permanent unified military (as opposed to a temporarily unified war-host), but am I right in thinking that King Andrin did not possess them as they were missing for the whole period between the Sword and Helm War and Broyan’s heroquest to obtain them? Or possibly like the Norman lords of Southern Italy in the 11th century before the foundation of the Kingdom of Sicily? In other words, a collection of warlords ruling local power bases within a shifting pattern of alliances and feuds with each other as well as with different indigenous / non-Hendriki elites. No wonder the Grandmothers found a ready local audience for their propaganda associating the Hendriki overlordship of the Adjusted Lands with the Bad Old Days of the Kodigvari…
  4. OK, it sounds like my statement that “in our Esrolia anything that involves decision-making in relation to the land is in the domain of the women” came out as “Esrolian men have no agency and just take orders”, which was not the intention, so apologies for any confusion. Of course that’s the case. Esrolian men exercise all kinds of agency in all kinds of domain. But for me the key point is the “domain” bit. Land management is just too tied into the Esrolian goddess complex to be the domain of men. Irrigation, however, is an interesting variation on this because (as you note above) it’s about bringing Earth and Water together. The land management role here has a focus on negotiation with the spirits/deities of the water – and the usual way that Esrolian societies handle negotiation is through marriage (whether symbolic or literal, permanent or temporary) . There is no reason why your character couldn’t have been involved in this process – but not as the party that represents the Earth, and instead as the party that represents the Water. So maybe they were born into a farming family and expected to follow the way of Barntar, but around the time of their Initiation they were drawn to the Water instead and ended up playing the Engizi role in local Esrola worship ceremonies? Then maybe they got more and more into trying to understand the mysteries of water and ended up working on the aqueducts, leaving the plough behind? Actually I think we’re suggesting you buy the books because they are brilliant and will enrich your time spent in Glorantha in general and Esrolia in particular, but only you can know whether that is an investment you are in a position to make right now. In any case, you’re right that it’s not on the player to do the lore-diving, so here’s hoping that your GM has a decent books budget!
  5. Hey @Garrik, thanks for starting this thread – the more spaces we have for sharing thoughts about how Esrolian characters live their lives and generally helping to bring Kethaela into the playable RQG mainstream, the better! And I really hope that @Joerg does put some of the thoughts from this magisterial overview of the mythological avenues that could be explored in a river-centric take on Kethaela into a version of his "planned Holy Country supplement", which would be a fantastic addition to the Kethaelan material that is now coming out from JC authors like @jajagappa, @M Helsdon and @Austin. For players interested in river gods in an Esrolian context, I really like the take that Austin has developed in his Sylthi material – there is a summary here of his campaign's 'shape-shifting river thief' PC (who is a follower of the god of the Whitefall, another Esrolian river). However, if you don't want to lean into the whole watery shape-shifting thing, then as Joerg and others have indicated the 'mythical and magical connections between rivers, rain and the earth' can also take you in other directions. I'm working on an cultural backgrounds resource with a couple of co-authors, and for character generation we have gone down the route of associating Esrolian adventurers' Houses (the equivalent of Clans) with different 'cultural traditions', each venerating a particular mix of deities and specialising in a particular range of occupations, linked to different social, regional and/or ecological niches. Here is the summary version of what we call the 'River-Blessed Earth' cultural tradition: In terms of the intersection of gender roles, occupation and cult, Esrolia does offer some challenges for male PCs playing the kind of land-management role you're envisaging. As you can see from the summary above, in our Esrolia anything that involves decision-making in relation to the land is in the domain of the women – so male farmers would not be negotiating with powerful river spirits (though they might propitiate them) or managing irrigation systems (though they will probably be the ones doing day-to-day operation and maintenance). Given that, we realised that male members of river-oriented Houses needed some more scope for agency, particularly in adventuring-friendly roles. We decided that in addition to the seagoing marines (very well described by Harald Smith in his Nochet adventurer backgrounds) Esrolia actually has a network of 'river patrol' units with Engizi as their patron deity, which we have included as an option for adventurers' backgrounds. Something like this makes sense in terms of Esrolia's vulnerability to attackers who can use its great waterways to travel far inland (as evidenced by the brutal pillaging of the upriver city of Oxnos by Wolf Pirates who had rowed past Storos and up the Shining River). Plus, it would be MGF to have the occasional elasmosaur or giant crocodile swim upriver from the Bay and scare the daylights out of peaceful riverside villages in the Esrolian heartland, necessitating an urgent call-out for the Engizi guard... In terms of your adventurer's role in the community, it will be helpful to think about exactly where he is from. This is because because Esrolia is basically a collection of city-states and each will have its own distinctive relationship with the river, which will be reflected in local mythology and also in the options for socially valued roles within that relationship. The course of the Lyksos runs through the territories of New Crystal City, Valadon and Monros before it reaches Nochet. New Crystal is a former Elmal holy site re-engineered by Belintar at the place where he forced the junction of the Lyksos with the Engizi River, Monros is famously associated with Vinga as well as Ernalda and Valadon is a focus of the worship of both Esrola and Argan Argar (patron deity of the next-door Shadow Plateau, which is topped by Esrola's Throne). It's worth noting that in addition to her more celebrated weddings to Argan Argar and Faralinthor (the latter of which is highlighted by Joerg above), Esrola was the focus of a wooing contest between Heler and Elmal into which Engizi could easily be inserted – so that central region of the Lyksos/Engizi Valley around Valadon could be a good location if your PC's story arc would benefit from a possible link between Esrolian river/land mythology and the political rivalries between Houses from different cultural traditions. If your adventurer is actually from the city territory of Nochet itself, then you have a wealth of resources to draw on. As Martin Helsdon says, I really can't recommend this highly enough; Ships & Shores is one of the very best publications on the JC for a whole host of reasons, but for you it might be worth getting for the material on the Lyksos and Nochet alone (in just a couple of pages, the Lyksos section references everything from myths of Engizi and Esrola to the types of goods carried by river traders to the sight of crocodiles sunbathing along the river's banks). You also can also find an amazing range of resources to draw on in Harald Smith's Nochet city guide, particularly in the material on the agricultural settlements and slum communities that line the Lyksos as it approaches the city, and the temples and Houses of the riverside neighbourhood of Tershis in Nochet itself – plus of course lots of information about aqueducts (and cisterns, and bath houses, and sewers), if you do decide that should be part of your character's background. Hope this helps!
  6. AlexS

    Kitori Warbands

    Good question! ‘The Holy Country’ included the Sixth of Heortland, so the Bee People could be quite nearby in the forested uplands of Hendrikar, to the south of the Troll Woods. However, I think it would be more MGF to locate the Bee People in an odd corner of Esrolia - for example, the Delainan Hills / Ianian Forest around Ezel, an area which is famed for its magical plants and thus could include Vale of Flowers type oversized blooms with magical nectar that enables the local bees to grow to giant sizes. That way, Wasp Riders on their way to raid bee nests in the Ianian Forest could provide a fun unexpected encounter for adventurers who are travelling through the peaceful North Esrolian heartland. Imagine this setup: the party has been ambling along a well-maintained Esrolian road for a day or so on its way from Nochet to the famous Knowledge Temple of Sylthi. They have met the odd Irillo Hundred patrol, and maybe some Old Earth Alliance soldiery heading towards the fighting around the Red Earth strongholds of the Malthin Valley, but otherwise nothing but toiling peasants, prosperous merchants and the occasional Earth Priestess being carried from one ceremony to another. They have probably packed away their armour, unstrung their bows, etc. and gone into ‘social interaction / diplomacy / politics mode’ rather than ‘wilderness travel / combat readiness mode’. Suddenly, there is an ominous buzzing all around them, shrill war cries ring out accompanied by a hail of slingstones from above, and they have to scramble to ready themselves in short order to deal with a proper ‘wilderness monster encounter’ type fight, while at the same time trying to control their mounts’ panic at being dive-bombed in broad daylight by ferocious giant insects…
  7. AlexS

    Kitori Warbands

    I certainly wouldn’t rule out Kitori raiding! In our Glorantha there is actually a whole Kitori cultural tradition (‘Isalling Kitori’) dedicated to taking the ‘Path of the Wasp’ and joining with the Wasp Riders (who are not Kitori, but closely allied and linked through worship of Gorakiki-Wasp) to attack nearby Heortling settlements. In our campaign this was traditionally a fringe vocation followed by a relatively small number of young Kitori, but many more have come to follow this path in recent years. In the past some might have taken the ‘Path of the Wasp’ as a permanent choice after being called by Zorak Zoran or Gorakiki upon initiation rather than Argan Argar, while some others saw it as a temporary (ephebos/koryos style) experience to be lived between clan initiation and cult initiation. However, the intensified persecution of the Kitori that followed the rise of King Broyan’s Volsaxing Confederacy has produced many more angry and bereaved Kitori youth, leading to a rapid growth in the Isalling tradition – and thus in the frequency of Kitori / Wasp Rider raids in Northern Heortland and Southern Sartar. The Isalling Kitori are part of an overview of cultural traditions in Kethaela, Prax and Dragon Pass on which we’re currently working, which should reach the JC eventually. Here is our working summary of different Kitori cultural traditions: As you can see, we see the Kitori as a fragmented people, whose cultural traditions have moved in different directions after their disastrous defeat at the hands of Tarkalor Trollkiller and Monrogh Lantern. This is very much how we imagine the Dehor Kitori, who do not raid their neighbours but can be implacable enemies when attacked. That’s true - except that in 1625 their neighbours are also in bad shape. Broyan is dead and his Volsaxing Confederacy has been reduced to a few squabbling warbands around Whitewall and a couple of other tribes that are in the process of being politically absorbed by Sartar (whose current rulers, unlike Prince Tarkalor, have no beef with the Kitori). The Yelmalions to the north lost key leaders in the Dragonrise and are generally under suspicion as collaborators after sending mercenary templars to fight with Fazzur in Heortland, the Hendriki to the south are preoccupied with the Kingdom of Jab, and the Esrolians to the west have traditionally friendly relations with the followers of Argan Argar. So now seems like a pretty good time to emerge from the Troll Woods and try to reunite the Shadowlands… In fact (to link this to the discussion about King Broyan’s death in another thread), in our campaign it was a Dehor Kitori shaman-priestess who summoned the demon that did for Broyan, seizing an opportunity to remove someone who as the uniter of the Volsaxings represented the biggest obstacle tin the path of a possible Kitori resurgence. She may have cooperated with Tatius to do the hit, but that would only have been a temporary alliance of convenience; the Kitori didn’t trust the Lunars (even though they appreciated the break from Volsaxing persecution that came with the Empire’s invasion of Northern Heortland) and already had all the motivation they need to strike at a leader who had united their tribal enemies. So, I think you could have a lot of fun with Kitori antagonists, whether they are wild Isalling raiders accompanied by crazy wasp-riders or careful Dehor plotters scheming to restore the Shadowlands to their former glory. Or, you could just have the party bump into a group of of the friendlier Loradaking Kitori (most of whom live in Esrolia but some of whom can be found in Heortland) while they are out and about escorting n Argan Argar caravan or on patrol as part of their Kimantoring military service – but be careful with any Darkness-hating adventurers who pick fights with anyone vaguely trollish, because then as @jajagappa says they might bring down the wrath of Obash Broos-Smasher upon the party!
  8. @Squaredeal Sten's question was specifically about the militia, so it's interesting that a lot of the (great) contributions here have actually been about military roles that go way beyond the Irillo Hundreds. I think there are actually two very different military contexts in play here, which relate to what in UK terms we might call the 'territorial army' and the 'professional army'. The two kinds of military march together when the whole of Esrolian society goes to war (like at Pennel Ford), but otherwise they have quite distinct social roles and associated socialisation processes – which also translates into differences in gendered patterns of military activity. When Esrolia mobilises for war, then along with the Irillo Hundred fyrd/militia the Queens will deploy specialist units associated with different War Gods, Husband Protectors and Noble Brothers (Axe Maiden followers of Babeester and Maran Gor, Humakti battalions, Orlanthi weaponthanes, Argan Argar Kimantorings, Yelmalion hoplites, etc.). @M Helsdon's Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass does a great job of describing these units. Aside from female-gendered military specialist roles like the Axe Maidens, there are three high-visibility military roles played by Esrolian women in this kind of full-mobilisation situation. The first, as @radmonger has pointed out, is casting Bless Champion on chosen Wind Lords or Kimantorings. This is the classic Enferalda function common to Esrolians and Heortlings, which positions Ernalda as the source of inspiration and protection in battle. The second role (much more specific and in practice largely confined to Esrolia and Old Tarsh) is deploying an absolutely terrifying range of Earth magic – from channelling Ernalda's power to summon giant Talosi that can swallow whole cavalry wings to calling on Maran's Earthshaker magic to sunder the ground beneath an enemy phalanx's feet. The third role is actually being a physical presence on the front line. Esrolian 'warrior queens' don't have to be Vingans or Axe Maidens to 'lead from the font'; they can function almost like a living battle standard by deliberately breaking their society's gender norms, leaving the safety of the command tent and taking positions that expose them to risks and thereby spur the male (and Vingan, Axe Maiden etc.) fighters onto even greater efforts. Think Joan of Arc riding into the thick of battle against the English, or (at a more symbolic level) Queen Elizabeth I donning a breastplate for her Tilbury speech to the troops. So, while I agree with @Ynneadwraith and others that it makes sense for Esrolian armies to be directed by women at the Grand Strategy and Strategic levels of the Clausewitzian command hierarchy, I think their role in giving those armies their distinctive feel goes way beyond that. In this kind of full-mobilisation scenario, battles will be won or lost in clashes of individual heroes, professional military units and magical specialists. The militia are basically there to be used as cannon fodder (or literally as building materials, in the case of Belintar's strategy for defeating the Lunars). Outside of this scenario, however, the militia come into their own. They are engaged in guarding the city walls, patrolling the roads, chasing away predators, hunting down bandits etc., and this means that they are generally perceived as serving a worthwhile social function despite their relatively modest battlefield prowess. However, this function of the 'territorial army' is not primarily military – it is more about social control. Not just the general need of a community to control external threats like bandits and beasts, but the specific need of a matriarchal society to control an internal threat: the capacity for random violence of unattached young men. So what does this imply for the gender composition of Esrolia's militia units? @Jeff says that and I think that this is especially true as regards the gendered nature of the Irillo Hundreds. As Jeff tells it in articles like this one, Sartarite (Heortling) militia training starts with the ephebe-type experience of groups of young Orlanthi men and Vingans going off into the hills to learn survival skills and practice cattle raiding, while the young women and Nandani go to Ernalda's temple to learn about stuff like childbirth and healing. Because of their higher social status (compared to men) and the greater sophistication of their society (compared to the rural Orlanthi at least), young Esrolian women are likely have to learn a much larger range of negotiation, leadership and management skills than their Sartarite counterparts, as well as having the possibility to learn a more sophisticated range of crafting practices (which are often linked to social and political skills, as evidenced in the great material on 'Societies of the Cloth' in @jajagappa's version of Nochet). So what does Esrolian society do with all the young men while the young women are busy learning about weaving and politics as well as sex and healing? Allowing these young men and Vingans to hang out in groups on the fringes of society, indulging in a little light banditry and generally causing trouble, is not an option for a tightly-regulated and densely-populated society like Esrolia. The answer must be to send them off to drill with the local Irillo Hundred militia. There they get to dress up in armour and practice fighting, take lots of physical exercise, undergo hazing rituals, drinking competitions and other male bonding activities to their heart's content and generally express their unreconstructed masculinity (or Vingan identity – see this scene in Starship Troopers for an example of enthusiastic female participation in this kind of male-gendered military bonding ritual). This all happens under the watchful eye either of Axe Maidens or of Irillo, Vogarth, Orlanth or Argan Argar cultists who have been socialised into leading other men into battle not in independent heroic warband fashion but rather as part of a strategy directed by Queens and other politically important women. So, my answer to the original question would be that yes, Esrolian women do participate in the Irillo Hundred system – but those who are not Vingans or Axe Maidens are massively outnumbered by the male militiamen, because there are very strong social incentives to direct the majority of young men towards the militia, whereas young women have a much wider range of higher-status options to which they can dedicate this period of their social initiation.
  9. Thanks for the encouragement, @Darius West – we would love to get this material (which started as a resource for our Kethaela campaign) onto the JC, but it keeps growing more complex and ambitious, so first we need to get better at saying 'enough is enough' with the text development and focus on actually getting it into publishable shape! Ensuring that it gets into a state that is actually enjoyable to read rather than just publishing page after page of dense text also means we will need to find time to invest in a pretty substantial effort of layout, illustration, etc. Unfortunately, the creators on the JC keep setting the bar higher and higher when it comes to presentation as well as content, which is wonderful but can also be a bit intimidating!
  10. I've been doing some thinking about Customs recently, as I'm working with a couple of other people on a resource for supporting efforts to incorporate adventurers' cultural and homeland backgrounds into RQG gameplay in a richer and more satisfying way. We think there are two problems with Customs in the rules as written. The first problem is that RQG RAW seems to assume that your Customs are the same as your Culture, and while this might make sense for Sartarites whose ancestors came from Heortland (who will have 'Heortling' as their Customs as well as their Culture) it doesn't work for all groups – including the Dinacoli and other Tarshite speakers of Northern Sartar and the Far Point. We dealt with this by defining Customs as a combination of an adventurer's Cultural Tradition with the region where their community lives ('Cultural Tradition' is our term for a more specific regional variant of a general Culture like Heortling or Tarshite). Thus, for your Dinacoli characters we would use a Customs definition like "Northern Sartar Alakoring Tarshite" ("Alakoring Tarshite" is what we call the cultural tradition of people from a Tarshite cultural background who are not Lunarised but are also not as focused on Maran Gor worship as the Earth Tarshites; the term was inspired by Alakoring's Legacy by Alistair and Edan Jones, which is highly recommended if you are into developing clan backgrounds for your adventurers). It could be "Far Point Alakoring Tarshite" because the Dinacoli are now part of the Alda Chur Confederation of the Far Point, but since they belonged to the Jonstown Confederation for several generations before the Lunars forced them to join Alda Chur in 1613 I think "Northern Sartar" probably makes more sense in terms of accumulated cultural influences on their Customs. The second problem with RQG RAW for Customs is that the base skill of 25% seems way too low for an adventurer's knowledge of the Customs of their own community. It also doesn't make much sense for them to have no knowledge at all of other communities' Customs (cf "Adventurers start knowing their own Customs skill at 25%: all others start at 00%", RQG p. 176). We dealt with this by suggesting that the 25% should be used as a baseline when testing knowledge of the customs of other communities from the same general culture, but that for an adventurer's own cultural tradition (and even more so for their own clan) they should get bonuses to indicate a much higher level of cultural familiarity. This is similar to what @Richard S. is suggesting, but instead of using the rules on language skills as a comparator we used the RQG rulebook indication of Homeland Lore bonuses when the skill is being tested in relation to an adventurer's local area (cf +30% to Homeland Lore for "adventurer’s tribal center or clan village", RQG p. 179). Here is the example that we use to illustrate this in the book on which we're working: Example: Erantha the Fierce was born into the Marantaros Clan, a community whose Cultural Tradition is Earth Tarshite, and grew up in the clan’s lands in the Shakelands Region of Old Tarsh, so her Culture is Tarshite and the skill recorded on her character sheet is Customs (Shakelands Earth Tarshite). If she meets someone from her own Clan, there is a base chance of 60% that she will be able to refer successfully to their shared Customs (Marantaros Clan). If she meets someone from the neighbouring Hendarli Clan, whose Customs are also Shakelands Earth Tarshite, she will use her base Customs (Shakelands Earth Tarshite) skill level of 50%. If she meets someone from the Wild Bull Clan of the Princeros Tribe, who are also Earth Tarshites but who live in the Far Point region of Sartar, she will have a base 30% chance of successfully interpreting their Customs (Earth Tarshite). If she meets someone from the Orindori Clan of Dunstop, who are not Earth Tarshites but Lunar Tarshites, she will have a base 25% chance of using her knowledge of Customs (Tarshite). If she meets someone from the Orlmarth Clan of the Colymar Tribe in Sartar, who are Heortlings not Tarshites but belong to the same Orlanthi Culture Group as the Tarshites, she will have a base 10% chance of successfully using her knowledge of Customs (Orlanthi). We also concluded that there should be bonuses for understanding the Customs of communities from different cultural traditions who live in the same area, because adventurers will have grown up interacting with them (trading, raiding, attending festivals etc.). So, your adventurers would have some knowledge of the Heortling Customs of tribes who were their neighbours in the Jonstown Confederation (the Malani, Cinsina, Culbrea and Torkani), as well as of the Tarshite Customs of other tribes from the Alda Chur region. In the current draft of the book we suggest a base value of 20% for the Customs of people from the same region but a different Culture when they belong to a majority group (e.g. Heortlings from the Cinsina Tribe) and 10% when they belong to a minority group (e.g. Telmori from Northern Sartar). Hope this is useful as a general approach, even if you don't want to get into all the crunch of calculating a range of different Customs base skills!
  11. This is indeed a nice plot device, and one that already has a seed in the existing material on the River of Cradles. We have known ever since Borderlands that the Lunars resettled Carmanians in the Zola Fel Grantlands along with Redlanders and Talastarings. Jamie Revell's Eyes’ Rise builds on this and has a Carmanian (Kesianda of House Kelaritt) as village spokesperson for one of the surviving Grantlands settlements. Although she is a vizier-class sorcerer and thus not necessarily someone who would be involved in Bisos worship, the HQ Pavis volume makes it clear that there are farmers among the Carmanians forcibly resettled in Duke Raus' domain. They are described as "distinctly different" because "they do not worship the goddess Ernalda" (Pavis – Gateway to Adventure p. 72.), and also differ from the Redlanders who worship Lodril and Oria as their agricultural deities. So who do these Carmanian farmers worship? Bisos seems a pretty obvious contender, and one that would actually give them knowledge and magic that was useful for survival in Prax. In other words, they are not farmers in the Pelorian rice-cultivating sense but actually agro-pastoralists who manage cattle on their steads. While working on a project that tries to summarise the different cultural traditions found in Dragon Pass, Prax and Kethaela, my co-authors and I decided to lean into this by using Bisos worship as part of the rationale for the survival (at least until Argrath's arrival) of the Zola Fel Carmanians. I can see a nice storyline where PCs from the Western Reaches make contact with the surviving Carmanian Grantlanders and use the knowledge the survivors have acquired of Praxian Eiritha and Storm Bull worship to reintroduce a Bisos-Eses tradition of bull-based fertility magic to Prax.
  12. They also served the Inca as mercenaries. I used to work with the Ashaninka people in Acre (there are a few villages on the Brazilian side of the border, though most Ashaninka live in Peru) and they have many myths about the God Inka and the technology (mostly bronze) with which he supplied their ancestors in exchange for military service. Ashaninka warriors probably provided the backbone of the units of Antis, the ‘cannibal bodyguards’ of Manco Inca who were so feared by the Spanish. Plenty of resemblance to the Orlanthi and other ‘barbarian’ warriors fighting in the Lunar Provincial Army (as brilliantly depicted by Martin Helsdon in Armies and Enemies)…
  13. I like these ideas a lot, @Hellhound Havoc, but then I’m a Brazilianist so I guess I would say that! Yes, it does – but if you read Pierre Clastres on the lowland peoples of South America (Societies Against the State) and James C. Scott on the hill peoples of Southeast Asia (The Art of Not Being Governed) you realise that the Orlanthi spirit of ‘no one can make you do anything’ is common to both, and placed in conscious opposition to those hierarchy-bound agricultural empires, whether they are ‘up there in the mountains’ or ‘down there in the valley’. The remains of very large-scale urban settlements in the Amazon have been being identified for decades, since long before the latest LIDAR evidence became available. Francisco de Orellana described very dense riverine populations along big stretches of the Solimões-Amazon waterway in the 1540s. In addition to highly productive agriculture (associated with soil improvement whose legacy includes the belts of ‘Amazonian black earth’ found throughout the region) they apparently farmed giant river turtles as their principal source of animal protein – maybe a model for a city of Sofali hsunchen turned turtle farmers somewhere in Kralorela or Pamaltela?
  14. Thanks @French Desperate WindChild for starting this thread and @Qizilbashwoman for sharing these insights. As I mentioned in another thread, I’ve been working with a couple of other authors on a resource book for incorporating cultural and place-based variation more fully into RQG character generation. This includes working on Gloranthan cultural understandings of sex and gender – but although one of my co-authors is involved in trans rights activism he does not himself identify as trans, so we are basically three cis het men trying to write about this. The book includes a guide to key terms, and I have pasted below the current draft of the entry on sexual and gender identity (also referenced in the section on social initiation, which we treat as separate from cult initiation). It is deliberately (a) simplified and (b) compatible with our understanding of ‘core RQG’ assumptions, which include the differentiation of sex and gender and the location of both within the framework of a fantasy Bronze Age theistic setting (i.e. one that is kin- and community-centric and leans heavily on mythically referenced socially ascribed gender stereotypes). However, it does try to make space for fluid as well as binary trans identities as well as ‘opting out of gender’ and delinking sexuality from gender roles. It would be great to know what people in this forum (particularly trans people) think about it. · Sexual and Gender Identity: the preferences and ways of behaving that societies ascribe to people who are differentiated in terms of sex (the reproductive biology with which they were born) and/or gender (the social and family roles that people assume in adult life). In Glorantha a person’s sexual and gender identity is usually described in terms of mythic archetypes, such as Heler and Jernotius for non-binary people in Dragon Pass and Peloria respectively. According to the core rulebook, in Dragon Pass, Prax and Kethaela the most common forms of sexual and gender identity are the Heortling ‘four sexes’ (shaped like a man, shaped like a woman, shaped like both and shaped like neither) and ‘six genders’ (Allfather, Allmother, Nandani, Vingan, Helering and agender). Neither sex nor gender determines a person’s sexuality (the people they desire as sexual and/or life partners), and same-sex / same-gender desire is commonly found among people of all genders in Orlanthi society (see RQG p. 80). For the Esrolia volume in the series we’ve also been experimenting with identifying characters’ gender (not sex) in terms of a greater variety of mythic archetypes linked to the dominant Earth Pantheon. This applies to ‘ways of being female’, e.g. having ‘Avenging Daughter’ or ‘Spring Maiden’ as gender descriptors even if that person doesn’t actually follow Babeester Gor or Voria. We also apply this approach to male gender identification, but in our Esrolia these ‘ways of being male’ are linked to family roles: Occasional Lover, Husband Protector, Noble Brother, Dutiful Son. Again, Orlanth Adventurous could be a gender identity synonym for Occasional Lover, Orlanth Thunderous (or Argan Argar, Yelmalio et al. depending on the particular Esrolian cultural tradition) for Husband Protector, Irillo for Noble Brother and Barntar for Dutiful Son – but that doesn’t mean that people who are gender-identified in those ways actually belong to those cults. We’re not yet sure whether to keep this in the final version of the Esrolia book. On the one hand, it helps with world-building, and illustrates how a matriarchal society might impose ascriptive gender roles on men in the same way that our patriarchal societies impose roles on women. On the other, it might end up feeling too mechanical and gender-determinist to be enjoyable for players, even if we emphasise that these are ascribed social roles, not obligatory stereotypes for role-playing. Feedback welcome…
  15. This is the approach that my co-authors and I have taken in the 'Homelands and Cultures' resource book on which we are working. Every adult is assumed to be an Initiate of the Clan Wyter, but they are also assumed to be Lay Members of the cults of the three most important local deities. Of course, they might also be an Initiate of one of those deities – but even if they are not they will have basic familiarity with the cult, because in our view simply having the experience of participating in collective worship for the deities whose cults govern the clan's most important activities should make you a Lay Member of their cult. That is the logic we followed when we developed the idea of 'cultural traditions' that characterise different clans, making them more specific (and interesting) than the Homeland or Region-level 'Culture / Religion' characterisation that is in the RQG core rulebook. As @radmonger puts it: In order to operationalise this for character generation, for each cultural tradition we list three major deities (or magical traditions, in the case of shamanistic or sorcerous cultures) for which anyone who comes from a clan that has that tradition is assumed to have the basic 'lay member' level of cult lore. The first two on the list will generally be the main ones for the dominant pantheon (i.e. Orlanth and Ernalda for most Heortling cultural traditions), while the third is the one that sets the cultural tradition apart (e.g. Maran Gor for Earth Tarshites or Argan Argar for Dark Orlanthi). In other words, the leading deities of the pantheon tend to be 'cults that actually run clans', while the others listed for that specific cultural tradition are more indicative of the local specialisms (such as horse-breeding for clans that have Elmal as their third deity, or river navigation for those that have Engizi). This means that an adventurer from a clan with a strong Elmali (Light Orlanthi) influence, like the Enhyli clan of the Colymar or the Blue Jay clan of the Dundealos, will have a Lay Member level of Elmal cult knowledge even if they are an Initiate of Orlanth, as well as vice-versa. We also used the 'clan cultural traditions' idea to develop a rule of thumb for determining whether there is a temple or shrine for any given deity in an area. The assumptions are similar to those outlines by @Lordabdul above, but the rationale is linked to the specific cultural characteristics of the clans who live there. Doing this at the clan level also helps deal with the difficulty of working out how we actually use the Homeland level cult membership numbers that @Jeff has included in the Mythology volume for the Cults of RuneQuest series. Knowing that there are x thousand members of a cult in a particular Homeland doesn't help a GM decide whether or not there is actually a temple to that deity within a day's ride of wherever the party happens to be right now, but knowing whether or not the local clans follow a cultural tradition that venerates that deity should help the GM to make that call. In the 'Homelands' bit of our resource book, we list the main cultural traditions followed by clans that live in any given tribal (or city) territory. We then assume that in addition to the temples of the main 'cults that actually run clans' (Orlanth, Ernalda, etc.), if any of these cultural traditions has the god or goddess of a minor cult as one of its three named deities then they will have a temple. By default this will be located at the clan centre (hill fort, large village or whatever), but it could be at a particular holy site (sacred hill, riverbank, forest glade etc.) if that sounds more appropriate or MGF. We also list minor cultural traditions (often associated with settlers or specialists like merchants or crafters from outside the region) who are present in the territory, but assume that their deities will only have a shrine, unless we're talking about a major city like Furthest, Boldhome or Nochet. I agree with @Cassius on this, but I think that this rule of thumb gives a workaround for the default position that specialist or minority cults like Odayla, Heler or Elmal are only ever present as subcults in 'mainstream Orlanthi' regions. If they are a major deity for a cultural tradition that has a significant presence in a region, then they should have a temple and function as a cult in their own right there. Thus, there are probably 'proper' Elmal temples in Runegate and Swenstown, given that they are the urban centres serving regions with a substantial presence of Light Orlanthi clans. Anywhere else there will only be an Elmal shrine in the Yelmalio temple, if that. You could use this approach to invent a 'Bear Tarshite' cultural tradition that is followed by a group of clans in some part of Old Tarsh (maybe their founding lineages were from Sylila?) and has Orlanth, Ernalda and Odayla as its three named deities. This mens that Odaylans travelling through these clans' territory would be likely to find a full temple where they could worship, rather than just a shrine within the Orlanth temple. However, if your deity is not listed for any of the cultural traditions present in that territory, then the assumption is that opportunities for worship will depend on getting to a regional centre (e.g. one of the confederation cities in Sartar) and using the shrine that should be present at the Great Temple of the deity with which they are associated or for which they are classified as a subservient cult. I also agree with this general approach for regions with no Great Temple (i.e. no large city or major non-city-based holy site like Heruvernalda, Maranaba or the Hill of Orlanth Victorious), but it is quite heavy to do that much world-building for regions that adventurers are just passing through and looking for somewhere to refresh Rune points, rather than those in which they are going to be based for a Season or more. If you know which cultural traditions are present in a region then it is much easier to do your world-building on the fly. If the region is not one where Jeff has already posted information about temples (which he has done for some of the Sartarite clans, as @Scotty has pointed out) then you can use resources like his clan distribution sketch maps to decide where there might be temples or shrines. For example, if you're looking for somewhere to place a shrine to Yinkin in the Dundealos lands, then the territory of the Wild Cats Clan sounds like a good bet. Anyway, that's our take based on where we're at with the 'cultural traditions' project – feedback and suggestions for improvement welcome!
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