Here's my intro for my Sartarite campaign, which had some players new to Glorantha. (NOTE: Starting date about 1620)
An Introduction to Sartar
Q: What is Sartar?
A: Sartar is a mountainous kingdom situated on the eastern edge of Dragon Pass, a strategically important crossroads in the world of Glorantha. Sartar is the homeland of the players in my upcoming UsQuest campaign (currently in playtesting). Sartar is peopled by hill tribes which have a Norse/Celtic feel and who worship a storm god named Orlanth. Sartar’s capital is Boldhome. Most of the PCs will come from the Treefell clan of the Balmyr tribe. The kingdom was founded about 100 years ago and since its birth has been involved in a conflict with a powerful northern empire called The Empire of the Red Moon (aka the Lunar Empire aka the Redcloaks aka the fucking Lunars).
Here’s a good map of Sartar:
There’s also a political map of Sartar here:
It’s a bit inaccurate, especially in the area you’re from. Some stupid Lunar must’ve made it.
Q: How did we do in this war?
A: You lost. The Lunars kicked your ass in 1602, sacked Boldhome, and installed a puppet king (and eventually a Lunar governor-general). Sartar has risen up in three major rebellions since them. 1611, 1613 (Starbrow’s Rebellion, the big one), and 1618. The Sartarites lost every time. It’s now 1620. The PCs are all in their early 20s, so, assuming they fought in the previous uprisings, they were raw recruits in 1611 and 1613, hardened vets in 1618. They’ve never really known freedom or victory. Most of your fathers died in 1602. Many of your relatives and friends have died in one or more of these uprisings.
For the Lunar point of view on the current state of affairs, go here:
Again, not quite accurate, in that it lists the Balmyr (your tribe) as “liberated.” Suckers.
Q: How bad do we hate the Lunars?
A: A lot. Not only do they march around in their hobnailed sandals and red cloaks wherever they’d like, they tax people (boo), crucify people they don’t like (double boo) and they worship an evil chaos tainted moon goddess (triple boo). Oh, and they want to kill your god, Orlanth. And they don’t speak the language. And they smell like vinegar. And they like having sex with little boys (instead of women or transvestites like real men). You can actually take a Communication skill called Hatred of Lunars if you’d like to really, really hate them. It’s kind of like having a ranger’s favored enemy feat.
Q: What can we do about this outrageous occupation?
A: Damn good question. Rumor has it Kallyr Starbrow, Queen of the neighboring Kheldon tribe and hot poster girl of rebellion, is still alive and is leading a new effort to overthrow the Lunars. Some of your clanmates claim to have actually met her. Maybe you should talk to them.
Q: I want to kick ass and take names. How do I do that?
A: You might want to start by becoming an initiate of a war god. Sartar has lots and lots and lots of them. Their names follow. A * by the name means your clan has at least a shrine to this god. A ** means your clan maintains a full temple.
- Orlanth. ** King of the Storm Gods. Slayer of the Sun. Resurrector of the Sun, Lightbringer, Father of Time. Worship of Orlanth is illegal. 75% of Sartarite men worship Orlanth. Very powerful Orlanth worshippers can fly, shoot lighting bolts, teleport, summon and control air elementals, and generally kick ass and take names. Runic Associations: Storm, Movement, Mastery
- Humakt. * God of Death and Truth. And Death. And Swords. And War. And Death. Humakt is Orlanth’s older brother. He’s a grim kinda guy. Humakt initiates cannot be resurrected if killed. Very powerful Humakti can kill people just by looking at them. They take gifts and geas to make them more like their god. They can also go Berserk in combat, do huge amounts of damage, and die gloriously. Think Celtic samurai. Or Tyr. The guy Tuesday is named after. Freakishly, Humakt has a large following among Sartar’s sentient, bipedal, flightless Ducks. Runic Associations: Death, Truth, Death. (Did we mention Death?)
- Urox the Storm Bull. * God of Chaos Fighters, slayer of the Devil. The Lunars are Chaotic, sort of. Storm Bull and his followers are generally slovenly, ill-tempered berserkers without the mollifying discipline of Humaktis. They can sense the presence of Chaos. They wear horned helmets. Strangely the Lunars have not made worship of Storm Bull illegal yet. Probably a bureaucratic oversight. Most Storm Bull worshippers are like your drunken idiot redneck cousin. Annoying, but good to have around in a fight. Storm Bull is also a popular god among the Praxian nomads to the east. Runic Associations: Storm, Beast, Death.
- Yelmalio. A cult of light worshipping spear using mercenaries. Yelmalio may be the son of the Sun God, Yelm. Some clans used to worship Yelmalio as Elmal, Orlanth’s loyal campguard. In the past 100 years, this cult has gone through many schisms. Now most Yelmalians are carefully neutral in the war between Orlanth and the Lunars (and the Lunars’ allies, the Sun-worshipping Dara Happans), though some (especially in the north) have taken the Lunar side. Yelmalio is friendly to elves and excels in kicking troll ass. They have two large communities of their own, called Sun Dome Temples. One is to the south, the other is to the east near the city of Pavis. Runic Associations: Light. Truth.
- Vinga. * The red haired goddess of war. Spearwoman. Defender of the innocent. Pissed-off, childless Sartarite widows will sometimes give up worshipping their nice mommy goddesses, dye their hair red, and follow Vinga to kick ass and take names just like their dead husbands used to. These days, lots of young Sartarite women are skipping the widow stage and just going right to Vinga, following in the footsteps of their heroine and role model, Kallyr Starbrow. High level Vingans can throw spears for miles, run across the treetops, and dodge arrows. Runic Associations: Movement, Death, Storm
- Other Asskickers: Zorak Zoran, the Troll War God (like Storm Bull but with even worse manners, Humakti and Yelmalians both hate him). Kyger Litor, the Troll Goddess (Mommy Goddess of Tough Love). Pretty much any troll god. Aldraya, the Goddess of Elves (your tribe has issues with elves, see below). Rigsdal, * the Night Watchman (kind of like Heimdal). Mastakos, the Charioteer. Valind, God of Winter. Babeestor Gor, the Earth Avenger, ax-wielding female war goddess from Tarsh (worshippers are exclusively female and mostly psychotic), Lodril, the volcano god (popular to the south in Esrolia).
Q: I’m a lover, not a fighter. How can I help?
A: You can also become an initiate of one of Sartar’s important, non-war gods. Sartar has a few of those, too. They are:
- Chalana Arroy. ** The healing goddess. Chalanans takes a vow of pacifism. They may never use a weapon, not even in self-defense (except against undead). Chalana Arroy is the source of all healing magic in the world. CA is a Lightbringer, one of Orlanth’s closest allies. Most civilized people will not hurt a Chalanan under any circumstances. Chalanans wear distinctive clothing to make themselves easily identifiable. Chalana Arroy is the only reliable source of Resurrection in the world. Runic Associations: Life, Harmony
- Eurmal. ** The trickster god. The god of masks. Social outcast. Lightbringer. Tricksters are outside the law. They can do anything they want and there is no legal punishment. However, they do not get the protection of law. You can kill a Trickster for fun and no one will care. Tricksters can do all kinds of humorous and annoying things. They can lie with impunity, they can turn cows purple, they can eat rocks. In order to survive, most Tricksters use the Suck Up to the Boss technique. They ally themselves with a powerful local figure (usually the clan chief) and act as his or her jester, spy, and sneak thief in return for a measure of social protection. A Trickster without a protector is a short-lived Trickster. Runic Associations: Illusion, Disorder. FuCk u Azhol! eUrMAL iZ D KING uV d Godz!!!111!1 TriksT3rz r00l! Evry1 3ls3 dr00lz!11111!!!1!x50
- Issaries. * The God of Trade. Another Lightbringer. Issaries is the god of merchants and created the skill Bargain and the language Tradetalk. High level Issaries types can create sacred Marketplaces and buy and sell pretty much anything. Runic Associations: Harmony and Trade
- Lhankor Mhy. * The God of Knowledge and Laws. Yet another Lightbringer. Mhorhys the Explainer, an NPC member of the party, follows this god. He knows a lot of stuff and is always willing to explain it to the less brilliant. High level Lhankor Mhys can read minds, force people to tell the truth, see recreations of past events in their minds, and analyze magic items. All Lhankor Mhys wear beards (female and non-human worshippers wear fake ones). Runic Associations: Truth and Law.
- Donandar. * God of the Skalds. Donadar worshippers can inspire entire clans to great feats (using some as yet to be determined Rune Spells). They can also make people dance. Dance, monkey! Dance! Runic Associations: Harmony and Illusion.
- Foundchild. * The Hunter God. God of the bow and the javelin and the sling. Foundchild worshippers usually hit what they’re aiming at. Good trackers. Runic Associations: Beast, Death, Mastery.
- Yinkin. The God of Cats. Another hunting god. More sneak, less sniper. Accomplished Yinkini can move without a sound, grow magical claws, and disappear into shadows. Runic Associations: Beast, Illusion, Movement
- Kolat. * The God of Wind Spirits and Ancestors. Kolat’s priests are actually shamans who excel in controlling the winds and windspirits. Kolat shamans also help your characters communicate with their dead ancestors and appease them with worship. Runic Associations: Storm, Spirit.
- Other not so ass-kicking gods: Argan Argar, the Troll God of Trade (but he’s a Troll, so he can kick a little ass). Ernalda, ** the wife goddess (“Husband, go kick ass for me.”). Barntar, * the plowman (with the outlawing of Orlanth, most men pretend to be Barntar worshippers). Gustbran, the smith god. Esrola, * the grain goddess. Voria, the goddess of spring. Engezi the Sky Titan, ** the God of the Creekstream River.
Q: Are there evil gods, too?
A: Lots of them. Here’s a short list:
- The Red Moon Goddess. Rufelza the Shepelkirt. Goddess of the Lunar Empire. She was once a peasant girl who was made into a Goddess by the Seven Mothers. You can see her in the sky. She’s the red orb up north. Her magic is cyclical, waxing and waning with the weekly phases of the moon. She is tainted by chaos and is evil, despite the empty reassurances of her deluded followers. Runic Associations: Moon, Chaos, Harmony
- The Seven Mothers. The heroes turned gods who created the Red Moon. A twisted parody of our holy Lightbringers. Among them are: Yanafal Tarnils, god of war (like Humakt but with scimitars), Etyries, goddess of trade (traitorous daughter of Issaries). Danfive Xaron, the reformed criminal. Jakaleel the Witch, goddess of magic, madness and secrets who may or may not be a troll, and Irripi Ontor, a disgraced priest of Lhankor Mhy who tells lies instead of truths. They are worshipped both together and separately. Runic Associations: Life, Death, Moon
- Yelm. The Imperial Sun God. Mostly worshipped by Dara Happans, who are part of the Lunar Empire. Orlanth killed this stuck-up tinpot dictator during God Time, ushering in the Storm Age. Then, when Orlanth realized without the sun, things were pretty fucked, he undertook the great Lightbringer Quest, went to hell and brought Yelm back to life as part of the Great Compromise which started Time. Despite this, Yelm has never gotten over the whole killing incident. Yelmalio may be his son. Your Yelmalio may vary. Runic Associations: Sun, Law, Stasis
- Zorak Zoran. The Troll war god. Humaktis and Yelmalians particularly hate him. He’s a raider and an ambusher and a thug, so the only people who get along with him are Storm Bulls. Runic Associations: Death and Darkness.
- The Chaos Gods: Gods so incredibly fucked up, they want to end the world. These are bad, bad, bad people. Only monsters and raving psychopathic lunatics worship them. They include: Thed, the broo goddess of rape and disease. Malia, the broo goddess of disease minus the rape. Bagog, the scorpion goddess. Krarsht, the goddess of greed and hunger, Vivamort, the god of the undead, Wakaboth, the devil (but he’s dead so no one worships him. Go Storm Bull!). Cacodeamon, the god of ogres. Gbaji (aka Nysalor), the god of corruption. Thanatar, the headhunter. And The Crimson Bat, the demonic steed of the Red Goddess and the Lunar Empire’s pet WMD. Of course, the Red Moon is a chaos goddess, too. She even admits it. But she pretends not to be destructive and evil. Don’t trust her!
Q: Are there nonhumans?
A: Yeah, lots of them, too. They include:
- Trolls. Aka the “Uz.” Darkness loving, cave-dwelling, large, tough humanoids who can see in the dark and like maces. Selfish, greedy, hungry, brutal thugs who love children (both to hug and to eat) and music. There are several kinds of trolls, including the stunted and pathetic Trollkin, the average joe troll Dark Trolls, the walking siege machine Great Trolls, and the unbelievable powerful and extremely rare Mistress Race Trolls. There are also Cave Trolls, who have been corrupted by Chaos and can regenerate.
- Elves. Aka Aldryami. Sentient bipedal plants who protect the forest. If you cut them, they don’t bleed. But they do leak sap. Your clan doesn’t get along well with elves
- Ducks. Formally the Durulz. Bipedal, sentient waterfowl with hands instead of wings. Ducks helped Orlanth kill Yelm, so the Dara Happans don’t like them much. A duck’s head is worth one year of Lunar taxes. If you pay your taxes. Which you don’t if you can help it. Your tribe gets along well with the Ducks.
- Broos. The worst. Chaos infested goatmen. They are foul, evil, bad. They reproduce by raping livestock (or people if they can manage it). There’s really nothing good to say about broos. Some of them serve in the Lunar army.
- Scorpionmen. Like broos. Kill on sight. Chaotic scorpion centaurs. Trolls say that, unlike broos, you can actually eat scorpion men. So they have that going for them.
- Beastmen. A collective term for centaurs, satyrs, baboons, newtlings, and other exotic creatures from the nearby Beast Valley. Technically, Ducks are also beastmen.
- Dragonnewts. Weird freaking draconic humanoids who worship dragons and act in ways so alien as to be inexplicable. Your tribe secretly gets along very well with the Dragonnewts.
- Dwarves. The Mostali. Short, tough, subterranean creatures created by Mostal. They are immortal and almost as hard to figure out as the Dragonnewts. They have a lot of iron. Trolls say they’re good eating once you get past the hard shell.
Q: Who are our neighbors?
A: Well, aside from the evil Lunars (boo, hiss), you’ve got:
- Colymar. Technically part of Sartar, the Colymar (the tribe to the immediate west of your Balmyr tribe) have recently declared their independence. Their king, Blackmor the Rabid, has converted to the Lunar way. Your tribe and the Colymar never got along. This goes double now. Man, you hate those guys. On the upside, the local temple/brothel to Uleria, the goddess of love and prostitutes is in Apple Lane, a Colymar town.
- Tarsh. A kingdom to the immediate north. Former allies of Sartar conquered by the Lunars. Tarsh has fully converted to the Lunar way (except for a small colony of Free Tarshites called the Earthshakers to the west). The northern parts of Sartar around Alone and Alda-Chur have been annexed into Tarsh.
- Heortland. A collection of Orlanthi clans and kingdoms to the south. Theoretically part of the Holy Country, which is in political turmoil. Recently, the Lunars have begun to “liberate” Heortland.
- The Holy Country. A collection of diverse nations along the seacoast to the southwest. The main part is Esrolia. Originally ruled by a troll demigod from the Troll Plateau called the Only Old One. The OOO was defeated by a hero called the Pharaoh, who ruled the Holy Country for decades from the City of Wonders. Recently the Pharaoh was assassinated and the Holy Country is in chaos.
Here’s a good map of the Holy Country:
- Prax. Windswept harsh wastelands to the east inhabited by Praxians, exotic nomadic humans who ride a variety of strange animals, including Bison, High Llamas, Rhinos, Zebras and Sable Antelopes. Most are violently anti-Lunar, though the Sableriders are pro-Lunar and the Zebrariders are neutral. Other tribes include the pygmy-sized Bolo Lizard Riders and the human-herding tapir-like Morocanths.
- The Upland Marsh. A swamp to the west (downstream) infested by undead. Home of the necromancer Delecti.
- The Dragon’s Eye. A dangerous land between Tarsh and Delecti’s Swamp ruled by capricious and deadly Dragonnewts. There’s also a Dragonnewt “City” not far from your home town. Your tribe has access to secret Dragonnewt secret stuff.
- Other places. Mhorhys the Explainer knows about lots of other places too. The Grazelands, Dagori Inkarth, Pavis, the Stinking Forest, the Troll Woods. He even knows a little about the horrible chaos nests Snakepipe Hollow and the Footprint. He can go on and on and on. Buy him a beer and ask him if you want to know more.
Q: Anything else I should know?
A: Hmm, most of the characters are from the Balmyr tribe of Sartar, part of a confederation of tribes centered around the town of Wilm’s Church. (aka Wilmskirk) Your clan is the Treefell clan; your clan center is Prattsted. The Treefell clan is known for its woodworking skills, its fine wooden stockades, its isolation and independence, its poor relations with elves, and its unfortunate preponderance of Eurmal worshippers. Prattsted is the site of an annual Trickster festival that attracts Eurmali from all over the world. The locals tolerate it because it brings in a ton of money. (Prattsted is located about where the B is in Balmyr on the Sartar Map.)
The Treefell clan and Prattsted have a few secrets: They are:
- The Balmyr Tribe is not as pacified as the Lunars like to think. Suckers. Orlanth worship is still very active, though everyone swears they worship Barntar, the plow god (in a region with very little farming).
- The Treefell Clan routinely underreports its population and underpays its taxes. Most of your clan lives in the upcountry far away from the Sted. There are four times as many Treefell clansmen as the Lunars think.
- There’s a hidden shrine to Eurmal behind the local waterfall (Pratt’s Falls) which is one of the most important Trickster shrines in the world.
- The Treefell clan can trace its lineage back to the Empire of the Wyrm Friends and keeps secret knowledge about Dragons and Dragonnewts. Especially favored locals have access to this knowledge (but you don’t).
- Some of your ancestors survived the Dragonkill War (the Dragons did the killing btw). The Treefells have been in Dragon Pass longer than any other human clan.
- If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, it still makes noise. So there.
Prattsted’s isolation has kept it relatively untouched by the Lunars, though, recently, thieves, probably backed by the Lunars, stole a clan treasure, Rosebud, a Chalana Arroy spirit who lives in a permanently blooming wreath of roses. The local chief, Varan Harmastsson, has sent out a party of local toughs (the PCs) to retrieve Rosebud. A previous attempt, led by Varan’s own son, Keener Varansson, disappeared without a trace. Varan has also asked the PCs to retrieve Keener or his body if they find it, though Rosebud is a higher priority.