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GMing a Heortling City


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I'm looking for thoughts and advice on gamemastering a Heortling city as the backdrop to a broader campaign. The only city I know of which is really thoroughly written up is New Pavis, and the quantity of information in that is honestly a bit overwhelming. Further, the info in Pavis & Big Rubble seems more directed toward day-by-day play among the gangs & factions than RQG's episodic paradigm. It's good info, but of a sort I'm honestly not sure how to translate into at-the-table experiences.

I'm including "Heortling" in the title because I'd like to try distilling what particulars best craft the illusion that the players' adventurers live in an actual city with ongoing events, without restricting it to a particular city. So the sorts of characteristics which could be generalized to fit Pavis or Jonstown or Clearwine, or even Boldhome and the metropolises of Esrolia. It sounds to me from what I've seen on this board that, very broadly, most cities of the game region have a similar Heortling pattern with city ring and king/queen, temple institutions, etc.

So I suppose what I'm looking for help with is more like half "information on Heortling city-culture," and half "how to present that at a game table" without assigning reading homework.

In my own game, what I've been doing for a few months now is typing up and printing for my adventurers a sheet with various pieces of info for what's going on in Pavis (although this is sometimes doubling as "what adventure do you want to do next?") and environs. For example, an "Events" section with things like "Vega Goldbreath kicked Belvani out of Sun County" and "A mysterious silver tower appeared in the Rubble" and a Rumors section sharing what the adventurers have been hearing in passing while going about their lives between adventures. And also a "Marketplace" section highlighting anything interesting available for sale, or detailing stuff like "+25% to cost of armor—everyone's buying it up in preparation for Argrath's assault on New Lunar Temple". (These are all examples drawn from my Pavis/Prax campaign, but I would use the same approach GMing other cities.)

I feel like my approach does work, but only to a limited extent. By just offering a prepared sheet, I worry that the subjective feel of "this is the city and what's going on" is muted, and I wonder how I could, as a gamemaster, make the experience of "living" in Glorantha more vivid for players.

Thanks in advance for suggestions & advice. :)

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If I recall correctly, Heortling cities, instead of clans, have a number of different guilds, or professional associations based around job-patron gods (or rather, the guild and cult is the same thing, unless I'm mistaken). Balancing the desires of these different guilds withotu pissing off any of them is a dynamic and ongoing task for your players.

I'm a bit sketchy on the influence of clans in urban areas, but that's how I've read it.

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46 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

If I recall correctly, Heortling cities, instead of clans, have a number of different guilds, or professional associations based around job-patron gods (or rather, the guild and cult is the same thing, unless I'm mistaken). Balancing the desires of these different guilds withotu pissing off any of them is a dynamic and ongoing task for your players.

I'm a bit sketchy on the influence of clans in urban areas, but that's how I've read it.

There are clans and even tribes in all of the cities of Sartar. There are also guilds, associations, and temples. All of these are loyalties that pull on their members, all of these often function as "corporate" entities with their own spirit, etc.

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11 hours ago, Crel said:

So I suppose what I'm looking for help with is more like half "information on Heortling city-culture," and half "how to present that at a game table" without assigning reading homework.

Good question, as I'm preparing myself to do the same for some new players who don't know Glorantha.

The first thing I'm planning do is basically keep an eye on the calendar and play through most of the important holy days, whenever the players happen to be in the village/city. A short scene each time would describe the appropriate rituals, and maybe a couple rolls for the players as they partake in the festivities and end up in small-scale heroquests along with the other people. Roleplaying downtime, so to speak. I don't know if it would get tedious quick or not, though. The Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes and Sartar Companion books are must-have for this, when it comes to Heortling culture.

Another thing I'm preparing, which you seem to be doing already, is having a pack of index cards with various events, rumours, and encounters. The difference is that you give out the sheet to your players, whereas you might get better results by keeping them behind the GM screen and having them actually discover this stuff through short scenes -- they hear about the silver tower from drinking at an inn, they learn about Belvani because they somehow had some business to conduct with him, they might learn about the armour price increase by walking by the market and hearing someone complain/argue loudly about it, etc...  To some degree, that's what the Eleven Lights campaign book does.

In practice, some of those index cards would have events/encounters that highlight what's going on in the world (like your examples), while some would just be local slice of life stuff (kids stealing apples and husbands cheating on their wife and so on)... of course, players being players, you never know what they'll do with it. They might (will?) follow a hook that you originally wrote just as "local colour", and then you have to improvise the beginning of an adventure. At this point, I think it's frankly equivalent to writing down a whole bunch of scenario seeds and figuring out how to expose them to the PCs -- same idea, different methodologies. The old-school RQ way of doing that is with encounter tables, like the one in Startar Companion or Snakepipe Hollow and such.

The main problem with this is that you can't just say "let's fast forward 2 months, here's the sheet describing what's been happening, and once you've read it, we can start with you all being woken up by screams and sounds of battle nearby". But I believe it's possible by to do by making lots of small iterative jumps, using each short scene as a jump point to go to the next which is a couple days later. I'm not sure yet though.

 

Edited by lordabdul
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11 hours ago, Crel said:

I'm looking for thoughts and advice on gamemastering a Heortling city as the backdrop to a broader campaign. The only city I know of which is really thoroughly written up is New Pavis.

Might be worth obtaining a PDF of the Sartar Companion, as there are fifteen pages about Jonstown, plus another five on the Jonstown Library. It is a HeroQuest supplement, and set during the Occupation. Using Pavis to fill in any blanks, you might be able to get enough to work on.

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10 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

If I recall correctly, Heortling cities, instead of clans, have a number of different guilds, or professional associations based around job-patron gods (or rather, the guild and cult is the same thing, unless I'm mistaken). Balancing the desires of these different guilds withotu pissing off any of them is a dynamic and ongoing task for your players.

All Heortling cities that are confederacies of tribes will have areas that might fill the role of embassy areas in our cities... They are home to tribal manors that represent the tribes that make up the confederacy and thus are free to members of that tribe (space permitting, I would assume and probably by pecking order rather than first cone first serve.)

 

7 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Might be worth obtaining a PDF of the Sartar Companion, as there are fifteen pages about Jonstown, plus another five on the Jonstown Library. It is a HeroQuest supplement, and set during the Occupation. Using Pavis to fill in any blanks, you might be able to get enough to work on.

In that case add the Sartar Kingdom of Heroes which highlights Boldhome, alas in only 5 pages. 

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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7 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Might be worth obtaining a PDF of the Sartar Companion, as there are fifteen pages about Jonstown, plus another five on the Jonstown Library. It is a HeroQuest supplement, and set during the Occupation. Using Pavis to fill in any blanks, you might be able to get enough to work on.

Just wait a little bit and there will be whole supplement set in Jonstown and it corrects all my mistakes in Sartar Companion.

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2 hours ago, Jeff said:

Just wait a little bit and there will be whole supplement set in Jonstown and it corrects all my mistakes in Sartar Companion.

At risk of sounding flippant, is this a "few months" little bit or a "HeroQuest next year" little bit? While I appreciate Chaosium's strive for excellence in their publications, at the same time it's not typically viable for me to wait months to get official information in a new work while running a weekly game. Hence why I come here!

11 hours ago, Jeff said:

There are clans and even tribes in all of the cities of Sartar. There are also guilds, associations, and temples.

At what level of organization is an Esrolian House? IIRC something (maybe Esrolia, Land of 10K Goddesses?) says they're the equivalent of a clan, but I'm curious.

10 hours ago, lordabdul said:

The first thing I'm planning do is basically keep an eye on the calendar and play through most of the important holy days, whenever the players happen to be in the village/city. A short scene each time would describe the appropriate rituals ... Roleplaying downtime, so to speak.

Another thing I'm preparing, which you seem to be doing already, is having a pack of index cards with various events, rumours, and encounters. ... In practice, some of those index cards would have events/encounters that highlight what's going on in the world (like your examples), while some would just be local slice of life stuff (kids stealing apples and husbands cheating on their wife and so on)... of course, players being players, you never know what they'll do with it. They might (will?) follow a hook that you originally wrote just as "local colour", and then you have to improvise the beginning of an adventure.

Lot of good stuff there. I feel like what I'm searching for is more ways to add cultural texture while adding a minimum of time to play; our average session is 3 to 4 hours so doing a set of mini-episodes at my table would probably eat a whole session. (Not always a bad thing!)

I like your index cards idea a lot. I wonder if a city "encounter deck" could be interesting to develop. Each season, each adventurer gets one draw from it for "stuff happens" to add flavor. Again, the time thing, but downtime & skill checks & market stuff tends to eat a full session at my table anyway. Food for thought.

I now recall an old RQ3 cities supplement I was directed toward one time by folks on this forum, which might have further food for thought in that avenue. Hrm.

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12 minutes ago, Crel said:

At risk of sounding flippant, is this a "few months" little bit or a "HeroQuest next year" little bit? While I appreciate Chaosium's strive for excellence in their publications, at the same time it's not typically viable for me to wait months to get official information in a new work while running a weekly game. Hence why I come here!

At what level of organization is an Esrolian House? IIRC something (maybe Esrolia, Land of 10K Goddesses?) says they're the equivalent of a clan, but I'm curious.

Lot of good stuff there. I feel like what I'm searching for is more ways to add cultural texture while adding a minimum of time to play; our average session is 3 to 4 hours so doing a set of mini-episodes at my table would probably eat a whole session. (Not always a bad thing!)

I like your index cards idea a lot. I wonder if a city "encounter deck" could be interesting to develop. Each season, each adventurer gets one draw from it for "stuff happens" to add flavor. Again, the time thing, but downtime & skill checks & market stuff tends to eat a full session at my table anyway. Food for thought.

I now recall an old RQ3 cities supplement I was directed toward one time by folks on this forum, which might have further food for thought in that avenue. Hrm.

Its the next supplement after Pegasus Plateau. 

An Esrolian House is a clan. 

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3 hours ago, Humakt said:

Happy days, would be nice to see a full description of Nochet 

For a fairly comprehensive (although still not very rules-focused) description, there's always Esrolia: Land of 10,000 Godesses. It has several sections of the architecture, history and urban layout of Nochet (including some great maps), with the different districts, temples, ethnic breakdown and so on. It doesn't go into specific detail about the management and administration, but you get a certain feel for it. 

It's undoubtedly outdated, but probably not to the point where it's a useless source.

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13 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

There's also this page from the old Glorantha website, which includes a super detailed map. I'm not sure who wrote this, though, and if this material has ever made it elsewhere

It was written by Jeff and myself. I did the map.

It's the foundational piece for the Nochet book in development.

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So if a shepherd gets enough of sheep and wants to move in to a city to become laborer, what happens next? Does he need a permission from the clan to move away? Will he be an outcast or an outlaw if he leaves without a permission? Do cities have citizenships like in the old Pavis book? Do people still stay members of their clan if they get a citizenship in, say, Jonstown?

To how many different wyters does an average craftsman sacrifice to?

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7 minutes ago, Brootse said:

So if a shepherd gets enough of sheep and wants to move in to a city to become laborer, what happens next? Does he need a permission from the clan to move away? Will he be an outcast or an outlaw if he leaves without a permission?

The sheep belong to the clan, not the shepherd. If the shepherd takes the sheep off to the city (and not bringing back goods to the clan in exchange), then he or she is a thief.

Assuming the shepherd is not a thrall, then yes he could leave and move away. Many clans have halls in the nearest city. E.g. the Cinsina have a hall/presence in Jonstown. The shepherd could simply move there and still be part of the clan (and subject to requests from the clan to perform tasks). But being part of the clan there is a plus as it gains protection and aid. 

If he/she just leaves the clan, and hasn't done anything "wrong", then depending on circumstances they might or might not be considered an outcast/exile. They gain no clan benefits, and may be considered untrustworthy (like a trickster), but not necessarily penalized. How they survive is another question. Will a guild even consider them without support? Is there a temple they can turn to? 

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13 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Assuming the shepherd is not a thrall, then yes he could leave and move away. Many clans have halls in the nearest city.

Actually, the clans usually don't have a hall in the city, but their tribes have. Individuals from the clan will be living in the city, but their status in relation to the clan is vague as they can be at best semi-active in the worship of the clan wyter-centered rites.

 

13 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

E.g. the Cinsina have a hall/presence in Jonstown.

As one of the constituent tribes to the Jonstwn ring. The tribal hall will be the first place for any clansman or -woman of the Dolutha as well as the Red Cow to gravitate to, if only because they have no idea how and where to find those Cinsina from their own clans.

Once a clanperson becomes a permanent resident of the city, she can join a guild (an urban clan based on occupation) or remain a follower of the tribe with the clan identity still at their birth/marriage clan, though represented through the tribe.

13 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

The shepherd could simply move there and still be part of the clan (and subject to requests from the clan to perform tasks). But being part of the clan there is a plus as it gains protection and aid. 

If you live in the city, you miss most of the holy days of your clan as you are likely to attend the rites in your city.

The role of the Sartarite tribe in the religious life of the clansfolk has never been described that well. The concept of the tribal Rex temple as a major economical force with a significant number of tenants in itself leaves the question whether those tenants are directly affiliated to the tribe and not to some clan, or whether the tribal tenants are external (royal) tenants distributed over the constituent clans of the tribe, or whether the tribal temple has no tenants but officers inside their respective clans with clan tenants to take care of their material needs.

There is also the question what happens when a tribal king retires or dies. His personal retainers may be orphaned by this, requiring a new leader they can pledge their allegiance to, or they can follow their king (into retirement or death). The new king may wish to retain some of his predecessor's aides and officers, and will seek to replace others who have ties to the new king's opponents inside the tribe.

13 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

If he/she just leaves the clan, and hasn't done anything "wrong", then depending on circumstances they might or might not be considered an outcast/exile. They gain no clan benefits, and may be considered untrustworthy (like a trickster), but not necessarily penalized. How they survive is another question. Will a guild even consider them without support? Is there a temple they can turn to? 

Assuming that an individual or the individual with spouse and children decides to leave the clan for the tribal city, what property may the individual carry off to the city?

How much is handing over a well-kept field or garden in terms of gaining some starting wealth to establish oneself in the city and its quite different economy?

Do the city dwellers of a tribe count as direct followers of the tribal king`? Would they form a quasi-clan? What about tribal folk holding the manor or some other homes in Boldhome?

What about some folk establishing themselves in Karse or Nochet?

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Assuming the shepherd is not a thrall, then yes he could leave and move away. Many clans have halls in the nearest city. E.g. the Cinsina have a hall/presence in Jonstown. The shepherd could simply move there and still be part of the clan (and subject to requests from the clan to perform tasks). But being part of the clan there is a plus as it gains protection and aid. 

11 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Actually, the clans usually don't have a hall in the city, but their tribes have. Individuals from the clan will be living in the city, but their status in relation to the clan is vague as they can be at best semi-active in the worship of the clan wyter-centered rites.

 

As I said earlier in the thread about tribal manors in confederated cities, I assume the non-confederated cites do not have this style of tribal manor... Runegate for instance?,

I am not sure the jajagappa is incorrect so much as he misspoke, He says clans but in the above quote he mentions the Cinsina Tribe not the Red Cow Clan.

Nice one about the Wyter those of us new to Wyters with RQ G need that insight.

Thank you for the remainder that was a cool read.I have the afternoon sun shining down on me and I really did find that to be just the thang with my afternoon coffee.

Cheers

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A little later...

...finished my coffee with a  read, and turned to SC and SKoH to check what little info I have to hand about Tribal Manors (SKoH) and Tribal Houses (SC) Good stuff... I can’t in good conscience post without the BIG CAVEAT that the canon cult does not smile upon the following info... It will probably be retconned (is that the phrase all the kids are using now <grin> so use at own risk

Tribal Manors in Boldhome
Right Arm

Quote

The Right Arm valley is occupied along its length by many tribal manors. Each settlement has several long houses ( @Qizilbashwoman) , barns and granaries, and a shrine. When tribal members from the hinterland visit the city they stay here. These steads are reserved for the kings of the Sartarite tribes when they or members of their households wish to stay in Boldhome. There is also a manor for the durulz, separated from the others*. Ducks have been scarce in Boldhome since the Lunar government put bounties on their heads, scapegoating them for the 1613 rebellion.

[Sartar Kingdom of Heroes Page 244]
* (Ducks got a  Duckberg, Ducks got a Duckberg....Pttttbtttt!—
Whadda ya mean, grow up, huh?)

and 

Tribal House in Jonstown

Quote

 Members of those clans that make up the Jonstown Confederation who are just visiting usually choose to stay in their tribal house.

[Sartar Companion Page 9]

Quote

The tribes of the Jonstown Confederation maintain tribal houses near High Hill where any member of one of the tribes of the confederation visiting the city is entitled to a place to sleep. The tribal houses follow the same design and each has cottar servants and a couple of guards.

[Sartar Companion Page 21]

I did note that Colymar and the Lismelder as well as the Druluz while not being in a confederation have Tribal  Manors in Boldhome,

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Is literally all livestock the property of the clan, or just cattle? I can't imagine that every flock of sheep and fowl would be collectively owned. That seems very difficult to micro-manage for a Ring.

For the most part I think that is mostly correct add in cults, clans and tribes and seed stock and I think want little remains might make it way to discretionary funds.. I believe the discretionary funds a stead gains every year is based off excess animals and cash crops, as well as milk and crafts. The clan tribe and cult each want their (largish) share of the cattle as taxes and tithes, a certain amount of seedstock would have to held in common or have the clan's real world status and power suffer.as its tribal herds dwindle. In a great year for the herds (good rolls on the Between Adventure tables and a tidy profit)  would allow a stead to sell one cow and net it’s 20 lunars for the adventurers small purse. I believe this would be  the game abstraction put into words. 

The smaller animals are ate or sold for pin money, And what does not make to to table as regular meals might make it to clan or tribal religious festivals as sacrifices (of course a large amount of these sacrifices are ate at the festivals, bonus or used as displays of wealth  and power amongst the status conscious Orlanthi in similar style but usually smaller scale, usually,  to the west coast  First Nations in Canada in their great feasts called potlatches) 

The trade items are not sold usually but bartered for sewing kits and real thread with bronze needles, well crafted kitchen knives beyond the utility ones that the farm can make and similarly specialty tools. fired brick?. trading fowls or a basket of rutabagas or wool or.., in bad herd years one might t actually have to sell for hard currency to pay taxes in lieu of non-existent cattle or insufficient cattle 

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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Honestly the organisation of tribal rights is usually fairly obvious to members and deeply confusing to capitalists. It's not entirely unlike the systems advocated by left-wing groups, honestly.

Essentially, personal belongings - your gear, your knives and shears, your housing, your guns or bows, your regalia, your herb gardens, your couple chickens - are private. Anything that is important is yours. Nobody redistributes your blankets and needles. Catch some hares, you eat them.

But shoot an elk? There's a hierarchy that dictates who gets what part of that deer based on their relationship to you. In return, when someone else scores a deer, the inverse is true. What's crucial is sharing and the constant flow of goods. This prevents jealousy and keeps everyone fed and happy.

Make a FORTUNE at the market with your chickens? You're gonna find that redistributed, likely by you, because power and gifts accrue to the ones who can give away valuable gifts themselves. You trade on your expertise with chickens now as well.

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1 hour ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

But shoot an elk? There's a hierarchy that dictates who gets what part of that deer based on their relationship to you. In return, when someone else scores a deer, the inverse is true. What's crucial is sharing and the constant flow of goods. This prevents jealousy and keeps everyone fed and happy.

 

Never seen any reference for hunting rights restrictions in Orlanthi lands, sounds more like norman england, Have you a citation?

1 hour ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Make a FORTUNE at the market with your chickens? You're gonna find that redistributed, likely by you, because power and gifts accrue to the ones who can give away valuable gifts themselves. You trade on your expertise with chickens now as well.

you really have me confused with this one, do you mind citing it.

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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