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Bran the Brainless

When you’ve got a lunar in a party of Orlanthi.

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We’ve all run games where someone wants to be different and run something potentially at odds with the rest of the players. A potential dilemma I have in a game which I’m running at the moment. 

My campaign is currently running in the few years before Dragonrise.  Relatively shortly, there are a few events that act to reinforce the Lunar hatred of Orlanthi. When Argrath and the nomads sack Pavis, sources generally describes the lack of mercy given to any Lunarites found within the city. Other commentaries within King of Sartar also seem very black and white, making it hard to creat an argument to a Lunar to ally with his enemies. There’s also the distinct lack of mercy shown to the Lunar forces at the Battle of Aurochs Hills and the Battle of Pennel Ford (although admittedly, these are very in keeping with Bronze Age warfare).

However, there are at least two notable exceptions I can find, of Lunars working with strange companions. The first is Harmast, the sample beginning character, who gives good reasons for his choice. The second is Paulis Longvale, a lunarite, but also cousin to a number of powerful Orlanthi, who helped them in their fight against the horrors of Dorastor.

So, what could be reasons for why a lunar character could potentially become a traitor to his culture and become sympathetic and even act directly against his religion/ nation?

Thanks for you thoughts. 

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17 minutes ago, Bran the Brainless said:

We’ve all run games where someone wants to be different and run something potentially at odds with the rest of the players. A potential dilemma I have in a game which I’m running at the moment. 

In the HeroQuest Glorantha rulebook, one of the characters is a Lunar renegade sorcerer. The Lunar Empire and the Lunar religion are so complex, there are always going to be individuals and groups who do not believe the mainstream Lunar ideology to be correct. Such people are likely to find it easy to side with anyone who is an enemy of the mainstream Lunar Way, though they will be distrusted and viewed with suspicion, until they prove themselves.

Edited by M Helsdon

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1 hour ago, Bran the Brainless said:

We’ve all run games where someone wants to be different and run something potentially at odds with the rest of the players. A potential dilemma I have in a game which I’m running at the moment. 

My campaign is currently running in the few years before Dragonrise.  Relatively shortly, there are a few events that act to reinforce the Lunar hatred of Orlanthi. When Argrath and the nomads sack Pavis, sources generally describes the lack of mercy given to any Lunarites found within the city. Other commentaries within King of Sartar also seem very black and white, making it hard to creat an argument to a Lunar to ally with his enemies. There’s also the distinct lack of mercy shown to the Lunar forces at the Battle of Aurochs Hills and the Battle of Pennel Ford (although admittedly, these are very in keeping with Bronze Age warfare).

However, there are at least two notable exceptions I can find, of Lunars working with strange companions. The first is Harmast, the sample beginning character, who gives good reasons for his choice. The second is Paulis Longvale, a lunarite, but also cousin to a number of powerful Orlanthi, who helped them in their fight against the horrors of Dorastor.

So, what could be reasons for why a lunar character could potentially become a traitor to his culture and become sympathetic and even act directly against his religion/ nation?

Thanks for you thoughts. 

You could have a Lunar who feels so wronged and betrayed by their culture (saw their whole family killed & fed to the Bat, etc) that they become more anti-Lunar than the most hardcore Orlanthi.

You could have someone who has seen One Too Many Atrocities, and feels the Lunar forces need to be opposed, even if they wouldn't be happy with a strike against the Lunar heartland or anything similar.

You could have (as per the exemplar) the Lunar who's more a "political exile" (on the losing side of as larger conflict) -- happy to strike against any of the Lunar elements who attacked his old patrons/allies/etc, but not a general/overall anti-Lunar sort.

You could have the "embedded" Lunar, trying to understand the Orlanthi so they can better bring them into the Lunar Way.

You can get entirely out of Dragon Pass, and have Lunars and Sartarites both in the group operating up in Pent, or looting Old Pavis, or off on the far side of Esrolia somewhere, etc etc etc ...

 

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One word - Chaos.

As much as it's supposed to be accepted within the mainstream religion, Chaos is still a big bad ball of trouble. I'd be quite sure there are a number of Lunars who aren't on board with it, and the Crimson Bat is just one massive example of that.

while Illuminated persons may not see a problem with it, that's not most people!

Also, historically speaking, there are fairly large parts of the current Lunar Empire that only recently became Lunarised, and thus many are so only in name only. The southern areas of the empire in particular.

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There is also the upcoming Tarsh civil war. Already the tensions between The Kings faction and the Fazzurites is high, perhaps enough that some act of betrayal will have caused Fazzuritesto have reasons to avoid the Lunars - and Annstad of Dunstop, one of Fazzur sons, has joined Argraths band (and some Lunars personally loyal to him may have joined Argraths team at the same time). It will get worse over the next few years, until there is open civil war, with a proportion of the Lunar elite remaining loyal to Fazzur over the King. 

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7 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Is it possible to play as an Orlanthi Lunar who believes that Sedenya and Orlanth can coexist in the Middle Air or something?

While it’s possible, I think that is pretty much heresy according to the mainstream of both sides. But Illuminates have many different perspectives. 

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20 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Is it possible to play as an Orlanthi Lunar who believes that Sedenya and Orlanth can coexist in the Middle Air or something?

Presumably (although what would your coherent standpoint on Chaos be?), but I doubt Orlanthi would tolerate you even so.

However, remember that there are two ways of being Lunar - being politically Lunar (belonging to/supporting the empire), and being religiously Lunar (following the Lunar Way). Duke Raus is politically but not religiously Lunar, for instance, while Arrolians (and White Moonies?) are religiously but not politically Lunar. 

It's here that you can get wriggle room with a Lunar PC. Not following the Lunar Way and being less into the political aspect (Lunar In Name Only?) shouldn't be a giant deal unless the others are hardcore rebels. Following the Lunar Way but being anti-empire could also work if the others think you're more useful alive than dead. Being fully Lunar both politically and religiously should really be a non-starter in an Orlanthi party, though.

 

Edited by Akhôrahil

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8 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

while Illuminated persons may not see a problem with it, that's not most people!

It is quite possible to be illuminated and still see chaos for the threat it so clearly is.  The Arkati are a fine example of that.

As for the issue of having a Lunar in the party, the crucial question to ask is why the Orlanthi are prepared to accept them.  That answer could be pretty complex and nuanced, but you had better believe that Orlanthi are always going to be suspicious of a Lunar in their midst.  If there is the rumor of a spy, they're in trouble.

Edited by Darius West

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before building a story to explain the fact, I think it would be usefull to identify why the player wants to play a lunar, and what is a "lunar".

a lunar can be

  • a person following a lunar cult
  • a person following the red emperor
  • a person living in the lunar empire
  • someone else

then choosing a lodrili, a yelmite, a grain goddess, a bandit or a sorcerer is easier to explain (and play) than choosing a fan of the red emperor or a lunar cultist

if the player wants to play a lunar for lunar magic it is also difficult. How would the cult support the "traitor"  ? How would the character explain to orlanthi than he/she can continue to follow the lunar cult ?

 

 

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As told by Dave, Tarsh is a good reason.

In addition, I once played the 'River of Craddle' campaign with a Lunar Officer, whose family was on the loosing side of a dart war, and was 'promoted' to a new site: Head of Marine Imperial Infantry ... in Corflu. He went to Pavis through caravans, embarked on a boat to Corflu and the rest occured. And to explained why this lunar and various orlanthis and praxian cooperated: The enemy of my enemy is not automatically a friend, but is better than the full fledge enemy: Chaos. The guy that helps you destroy gorps and dragonsnails can not be completely bad (This is at least what decided Orlanthis and Praxians).

Edited by Kloster
typing mistake

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18 hours ago, Bran the Brainless said:

We’ve all run games where someone wants to be different and run something potentially at odds with the rest of the players. A potential dilemma I have in a game which I’m running at the moment. 

My campaign is currently running in the few years before Dragonrise.  Relatively shortly, there are a few events that act to reinforce the Lunar hatred of Orlanthi. When Argrath and the nomads sack Pavis, sources generally describes the lack of mercy given to any Lunarites found within the city. Other commentaries within King of Sartar also seem very black and white, making it hard to creat an argument to a Lunar to ally with his enemies. There’s also the distinct lack of mercy shown to the Lunar forces at the Battle of Aurochs Hills and the Battle of Pennel Ford (although admittedly, these are very in keeping with Bronze Age warfare).

However, there are at least two notable exceptions I can find, of Lunars working with strange companions. The first is Harmast, the sample beginning character, who gives good reasons for his choice. The second is Paulis Longvale, a lunarite, but also cousin to a number of powerful Orlanthi, who helped them in their fight against the horrors of Dorastor.

So, what could be reasons for why a lunar character could potentially become a traitor to his culture and become sympathetic and even act directly against his religion/ nation?

Thanks for you thoughts. 

Well, after 1628 there's a decade or so in which there is no Red Emperor and the Lunar Empire is divided by a civil war between various claimants. So if you're enough of a Lunatic, one possible interpretation this is clearly a brief correction by Sedenya and she's telling you that the official attitudes towards the "barbarians" are incorrect, and that it's time for the cycle to turn around again. From on top, to the bottom, a character decides to humbly submit themself to an Orlanthi leader as another step on the Way. There are of course religious dissidents but those are, if not well-explored as such, certainly given a bit more flavor. Here's someone who, in the absence of one preeminent religious authority and the weakening of another (since Great Sister fails to maintain political unity within the Empire), attempts to maintain orthodoxy through the filtered preconceptions of their religion. 

Obviously, this is easier if they've been personally humbled or humiliated first. 

(This has some good roleplaying grist, too- you can have a character constantly catching themselves on being arrogant and condescending and trying to force apologies out, which can be psychologically interesting, comic relief, or a mood-lightening quirk. "Get illuminated, barbarian wine-drinker! Sorry, sorry, I'm trying to stop it...")

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1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

before building a story to explain the fact, I think it would be usefull to identify why the player wants to play a lunar, and what is a "lunar".

a lunar can be

  • a person following a lunar cult
  • a person following the red emperor
  • a person living in the lunar empire
  • someone else

then choosing a lodrili, a yelmite, a grain goddess, a bandit or a sorcerer is easier to explain (and play) than choosing a fan of the red emperor or a lunar cultist

Worshiping Yelm without worshiping the Red Emperor is similar to worshiping Argan Argar without worshiping the Only Old One.

But we don't have any character creation support for such characters yet. It is quite possible to come up with some, along similar lines as the "earlier history" tables in the JTC.

Sorcerers from the Empire would quite likely be alumni of the Imperial College or the Carmanian schools, with a high likelihood to have invested in Lunar philosophy and magic. While it is possible for powerful magicians to avoid military service in the Empire, that usually goes hand in hand with serving one of the top level houses in their Dart Competitions to get bone spurs or the magical equivalent thereof attested.

1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

if the player wants to play a lunar for lunar magic it is also difficult. How would the cult support the "traitor"  ? How would the character explain to orlanthi than he/she can continue to follow the lunar cult ?

It is perfectly possible to be a Lunar cultist and not a (loyal) subject of the (current mask of) the Red Emperor. The Arrolians in Fronela are devout Lunar cultists, but don't have much to do with the Red Emperor.

There may very well be a number of Lunar shrines surviving in Sartar, Heortland and Esrolia.

Karse is bound to have a shrine to Etyries, a left-over from Fazzur's well-regarded residence and administration there, and possibly a Seven Mothers shrine, too. Possibly not public, though. Nochet may likewise harbor a (much intimidated) Lunar religious group fervently following a non-Lunar House or Guild for protection.

There may be mercenary bands of former Fazzurite cavalry who may have remained behind in Heortland and Esrolia when Fazzur was recalled, formally ending their service with the Empire and their kingdom in protest to how their commander was treated. Many of these would have gone home, but a significant portion may have gone native - with marriage partners and possibly children, likely above whatever station they would have to return to in Tarsh - and act as minor companies.

Fazzur took command over the Provincial troops in 1613, and many of his levies may have taken a ten year contract in the Provincial Army. That contract would have finished in 1623, well before there was a stringent reason why they could not leave the service. The siege of Nochet was uneffective and difficult as the Antones Estates are not a place where you stage a siege. And Tatius preferred to work with professionals.

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19 hours ago, Bran the Brainless said:

So, what could be reasons for why a lunar character could potentially become a traitor to his culture and become sympathetic and even act directly against his religion/ nation?

There are also groups like the Loonies (Red School of Masks), some of whom ended up as Eaglebrown Warlocks.

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Thanks for the replies so far, all good ideas.

Obviously, some are more relevant to my campaign setting and the character involved than others. I’m also wanting to stay away from philosophical arguments that wouldn’t be understand by your average uneducated Orlanthi. 
In the same way, my players are just getting to grips with the world of Glorantha, and introducing the concept of Illumination could tip them over the edge.

My first thoughts were to feed the characters relatives to The Bat (a rather sledgehammer approach!) However, talking to the player involved, she does see two distinctly opposing elements of being a lunar. The first is acceptance of different philosophical thoughts, contrasted by the Lunar military; “obey us or be crucified”. So the Bat, may not be needed (depending on campaign needs).

This does raise the question; are there any groups of Lunar cultists who do support the Orlanthi rebellion in Sartar and the Prax area? Individuals are mentioned here and there, but, is there scope for small underground groups.

Thanks

 

 

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29 minutes ago, Bran the Brainless said:

This does raise the question; are there any groups of Lunar cultists who do support the Orlanthi rebellion in Sartar and the Prax area? Individuals are mentioned here and there, but, is there scope for small underground groups.

I would expect that everyone's favorite villain from Elkoi and Pavis, Halcyon var Enkorth, would have an organization of adversaries from the Empire, a local agent of whom might have supported Argrath's conquest of Pavis (recognizing early enough that Halcyon had no chance to sit that invasion out). This might plant some Sairdite or Heartland organisation on the side of Argrath as he rises to importance, with at times neutral, at times friendly interaction. The deep Lunar backers will maintain an air of plausible deniability much of the time, but might at some time be outed and forced to flee the Empire.

Then there is that Alkothi female follower of Argrath who has taken over command over the Real City in the Rubble in Robin Laws' upcoming Pavis books. She will in all likelihood have a bit of her own followership, at least some likely to be Lunar/Dara Happan in origin, too.

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Also worth considering that an anti-Imperial Lunar does not have to be  "traitor to their culture", since many Lunars in Dragon Pass are Orlanthi (minus the whole Orlanth Rex thing). 

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You're getting some good ideas here, but I think you may need to step back and consider the gaming aspect of the game. I've had a lot of players want to create "something different" and they have all kinds of motives. My rule (which I learned to enforce, the hard way)  is that they can create something different but it cannot be something that will disrupt the theme of the game, or the existing group of characters. 

I recommend that you have the player who wants to create a lunar sit down with the other players, and pitch his idea to them. Have the players (lunar and others) come up with an idea why they would accept him into their band, and trust him with their lives. The trust doesn't have to be instant, but he has to be able to be accepted into the group, and given a chance to earn their trust. Let the players work it out.

Explaining what I mean by theme: The theme of my game is "You are all treasure hunters in Pavis" and the game is set before the Cradle (classic era gaming). The theme of a game I recently played in was "you are the leading individuals for a new settlement on the edge of Prax", and of course, the theme of Borderlands is "you are the A-Team for a frontier settlement". So, identify your theme, and ask him to work within it. 

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10 hours ago, Bran the Brainless said:

introducing the concept of Illumination could tip them over the edge.

I wouldn't do it. (But I'm like that)

Orlanthi are terrified of Illumination, as it means accepting Chaos.

The rewards of Illumination would make most players want to get it ASAP, but in the world of Glorantha it's not realistic. It's "player knowledge" at it's best/worst.

Even asking strange questions (riddles) is dangerous! 

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1 hour ago, pachristian said:

I recommend that you have the player who wants to create a lunar sit down with the other players, and pitch his idea to them. Have the players (lunar and others) come up with an idea why they would accept him into their band, and trust him with their lives. The trust doesn't have to be instant, but he has to be able to be accepted into the group, and given a chance to earn their trust. Let the players work it out.

 

Your first paragraph, while logical, irked me in a railroad-y kind of way. I got the point and agreed with it,  but did not like the arbitrariness of it. Note the problem with the thought was mine not yours. Now the paragraph above redeemed the bad I saw and made it a strength. Kind of like a judo move (don’t resist the force, move with the force). Rather than saying no, saying how, show me!. Good call, and the players should like it... after all, they helped create it. Conflict being the key to good adventure, a little conflict from within the party that the party is aware of and hopefully has the wherewithal to overcome sounds great. I have seen this following phrase before and will now use it to good effect... “consider that idea stolen"

cheers

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to my mind the big issues isn't why the lunar would change sides, but why the Orlanthi would trust him.

Some ideas,

  • he is a prisoner awaiting ransom, who is an Honorable man who has earned there trust and given some degree of freedom
  • he is kin and therefore can't be slain out of hand
  • he has a skill or knowledge they need that means they have to keep him a round
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58 minutes ago, Jon Hunter said:

to my mind the big issues isn't why the lunar would change sides, but why the Orlanthi would trust him.

Some ideas,

  • he is a prisoner awaiting ransom, who is an Honorable man who has earned there trust and given some degree of freedom
  • he is kin and therefore can't be slain out of hand
  • he has a skill or knowledge they need that means they have to keep him a round

I think an Orlanthi party questing to find a way to heal their kin provides the best cover.

From "Orlanth is Dead":

Quote

A generation of noble hostages taken as children has re- turned from the Heartlands to resume their lives among the clans. They bring with them foreign gods and ways, and a heart-felt devotion to the Lunar Way. They are called dirt- shines by those who dislike them. Generous trade concessions and new lands have been granted to compliant clans, while the rebellious face heavy taxes and the loss of territory. The old bonds and loyalties between allies have been weakened, and it is sometimes difficult to tell friend from foe.

What if one of these damaged "dirt-shines", the only son of the village leader, decides they don't want to be an illuminated chaos worshipper anymore, and desperately wants to find their way back to their Orlanthi roots and the untroubled love of their kin? The high priest of the tribe has a vision - "Follow the path of Orlanth", so the illuminate is accepted for initiation into Orlanth - even though everyone knows they are an illuminate. Then tribe outfits a party of adventurers, and they all swear a solemn oath to liberate their kinsman from the corruption of the chaos moon, and in doing so discover a path to redemption for all the stolen kin who have been harmed by evil.

Not an easy quest, you could have a lot of fun with this - kind of like Logans Run set in Glorantha. There would be experimental heroquesting, grave peril for other party members as they learn more about the true nature of the moon and illumination, the constant risk of being discovered, Lunar agents who get wind of what is happening, and who see the quest as an opportunity to crush all hope for redemption, an encounter with Arkat, surreal encounters with wyrmsfriend magic, desperate revolutionaries willing to do anything to defeat the chaos moon, even embrace chaos, temptations to use the dark side to solve terrifying problems they encounter along the way, an unsettling discovery during "Orlanth is dead" that the illuminate still has access to the power of Orlanth, an encounter with an insane band of chaotic Uraini beserkers who used to be storm bulls, and who still think they follow the bull, but who now kill random innocents when triggered by their broken "sense chaos" skill, loads of strange encounters which force party members to question everything they believe, pretty much anything could happen.

Edited by EricW
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On 2/6/2020 at 1:43 AM, Joerg said:

Worshiping Yelm without worshiping the Red Emperor is similar to worshiping Argan Argar without worshiping the Only Old One.

Not quite. It's similar to worshipping Argan Argar without worshipping the Only Old One while the Only Old One is still alive, active in the world, and the core of a cult system that runs an Empire. In other words, questions will be asked, and more questions the more powerful you get. The Yelm in the modern era is closely controlled by the Red Emperor - you need the Emperors permission to become a member of Yelm Imperator, the elite core of powerful sacred rulers of the cult, and he doesn't grant it unless you also join the Red Goddess cult, and are Illuminated. 

Which isn't to saw there aren't plenty of people who worship Yelm without worshipping the Red Emperor, and not just ones outside the Empire. But at a certain point it becomes an issue. 

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