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How Have Your Gloranthas Varied?


Richard S.

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YGMV - Your Glorantha May Vary. We repeat those same four words so often that it's almost some sort of religious mantra. But how do we actually practice what we preach? What are some ways, big or small, that y'all's various Gloranthas have varied? How much stake do you place in published sources, and how much do you make up or homebrew yourself? I'm hoping that this thread could be a place where people can get ideas from each other for fun or interesting ways they could vary their Glorantha, in large ways or in little ways.

Here's a few of my own to start it off:

1. "Humanized" elder races. I'm not a huge fan of totally alien nonhumans, though a fair bit of weirdness is alright, and so I like to make everything a little more relatable and playable. And yes, this does extend to dragonewts :P

2. Nicer Dara Happa. IMG, Dara Happa is still an extremely hierarchical society with a tendency towards pomp and arrogance in the upper echelons, but even without the Lunars it's not the total repressive misogynistic place that it sometimes looks like in canon. By extension, Yelm is a bit of a nicer god too.

3. Illuminates are sociopaths. The way I've interpreted it, Illumination is basically believing (and having your belief reinforced by the universe) that there's no moral difference between, say, raping and murdering a homeless man or buying him clothes and a hot meal. Therefore, Illuminated people seem emotionless and react purely based on their own logic or out of necessity. They can act emotional if they need to, but this may require a roll. One way to spot an Illuminate, especially an inexperienced one, is to watch their reaction to what should be a shocking or traumatic incident: if their reaction seems delayed or insincere, they could be illuminated.

4. Dragonewts and dreams. My interpretation of Draconic philosophy is that the world is made of dreams. The Cosmic Dragon is Ouroboros within its own dream, and everything else is dreams of the Cosmic Dragon. Dragon magic is basically lucid dreaming, dragonewts are the dreams of the eggs, and the goal of dragonewts is to "wake up" as dragons, then engage in another series of evolutions until they wake up as the Cosmic Dragon, and then the same until Ouroboros reawakens.

What are some of your favorite variations from your own Gloranthas?

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35 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

2. Nicer Dara Happa. IMG, Dara Happa is still an extremely hierarchical society with a tendency towards pomp and arrogance in the upper echelons, but even without the Lunars it's not the total repressive misogynistic place that it sometimes looks like in canon. By extension, Yelm is a bit of a nicer god too.

This reminds me of a recent post over on the FB RuneQuest page:

Quote

 

The Lunar Empire.

It’s just about forty years since my group and I started playing Runequest. Back then we all played proud scimitar wielding sons of Empire. The languages we spoke were Pelorian and Tarshite and we were glad to spread word of the Seven Mothers.
Then gradually over a number of decades the pendulum swung the other way and now the Lunars are invariably cast as the baddies and our characters are staunch Sarterite rebels, Praxian Nomads or Pavis freedom fighters battling the wicked Red Goddess and her chaos tainted minions.
Is this a common theme across your games? How do you view the Lunar Empire?
Progressive, egalitarian and inclusive force for change bringing civilisation to a barbaric world. Or a malevolent, subtle empire; forcing its false Gods and new ways upon the noble savage?

 

My original campaign was set mostly in Imther and Sylila. I liked the area partially because I had a lot of freedom, but also because I liked both the Lunar Empire and the Sun Dome Temple. And there was very little Orlanth in my game, largely because I was not an Orlanth fan. Instead, I had Orlantio the Trickster (or I should say one of the tricksters), which functioned as an important, though disreputable, part of society - that of the troublemaker and rebel.

My Lunars were a broad mix. The Conquering Daughter was a favored and important cult, and her city of Jillaro was famed for its wonders and temples. The Seven Mothers could be good or bad - though we certainly had a very honorable Yanafal Tarnils initiate.  Etyries merchants were often suspect and often filled a more "villainous" role.

My Yelmalions were generally less rigid than their Praxian/Pavis counterparts, and actually had a more localized variant (Khelmal) across the countryside than the Sun Dome itself and this was the true "everyman's god" of Imther.  

Although my campaign never reached DH proper, the Alkothi were certainly borderline sociopaths (or perhaps hellish demons is a better term?).

My Imther also had its own variation of the Lightbringers Quest. It was not led by Orlanth, but by Lightfore who descended into Hell to restore the Sun. As above, Orlanth/Orlantio was the Trickster on the quest, not the real leader. 

Otherwise, I probably have not veered too far off canon since I try to utilize my game material for publishable writing/content, and my current Colymar campaigns are very much typical Orlanthi (both during and post-Lunar occupation). 

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9 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

This reminds me of a recent post over on the FB RuneQuest page:

 

This in turn reminds me of a recent comment on one of the Discords where a friend observed

Quote

Unpopular opinion: the Lunars are the heroes of the setting.

Now of course old hands remember previous uh "cycles" of sympathy swinging toward Glamour even though King of Sartar has been making a convincing argument since 1993 (exactly half a wane ago) that the Lunars are wrong and that they lose. My Glorantha is partially an effort to find the story where good people can follow the Lunar Way to good outcomes. They get what they want, or what they said they wanted, or something. It's just that the KOS chroniclers blinded by the fury of their argrath (Leonard Cohen quote) don't understand that and couldn't see it. Even though the Lunars lose the setting has to be generous enough to give them the chance to be heroes, even if just for one day.

Otherwise the corners of the lozenge I'm interested in are still fairly close to Blank so canon is a delicate thing. My West developed something like the "chivalry" of RQ3 and will reach for it again as the hero wars metastasize. Before the Dawn Brithos looked a lot like a Derek Jarman movie complete with something like motorcycles, heirloom cocktail shakers and gigantic marabou hats. I also can't shake the intuition that Hrestol and Faraalz were in what we would call love. Dwarves were not always assholes. Bird people ruled Kralorela before the dragons came in. Etc. As the light of canon approaches these phantasms recede and that's okay. It's how we find out.

 

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Old-style Morokanth's; none of the mamby-pamby modern "Meatless Monday Morokanth".  They're as omnivorous as humans are, and feast heavily on Gern-meat (also "Gern," which I understand is a deprecated term in RQG) on certain Holy Days.  I think this was the very first item in RQG that I found I wanted My Glorantha to Vary.

The Bolo-Lizard people have their clans travel on the backs of brontosauri; bolo herds mingle with young bronto's (they're almost indistiguishable IMG).

My Prax is a /LOT/ more hostile and "Waste"-y than the current view seems to be.

Dara Happa is nastier, not nicer.  They're the fundament of the misogyny & the rigid stratification (which the Lunars ameliorate:  the Goddess ain't much into misogyny, and that whole "changeable moon" schtick doesn't really reinforce rigid strata...).  Yelmie's are still basically following Yelm's examples, and Yelm is still kinda stuck on the Perfect Hierarchy of the intact Spike -- which was, essentially, solidified Law. 

I keep the Elder Races pretty damned alien in their own respective "mainstreams," but I allow lots of different ways for Mostali to become "broken," for Aldryami to become "rootless," for Dragonewts to ... whatever the f*** they do that induces them to join a "party" of "adventurers."  Mainly, I try to work with the ideas a player comes up with, if they want to play such creatures.  One of the things is that they are -- mostly -- regarded as insane/diseased/criminal/etc by their own people... they are tragic exiles among a terrifying new People whom they find to be aliean.  One thing I have recently envisioned is the Mostal "Interface Unit," or Aldrya's "Border Cultivar" -- these are individuals constructed/bred/etc -- and trained -- specifically for the purpose of interacting with humans, such that their respective cultures have such things available when they are needed.

 

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Regarding Lunars and Dara-Happans: as my players currently only play Orlanthi, of course I'm painting the enemy as, well, the enemy. Everything they hear about the Lunars is terrible. Propaganda works! But I will definitely make my players also play Lunar Tarshites (or some other Lunar faction) in a future one-shot or campaign, and on that occasion I will depict the Lunars as the good, cultured and modern people of Genertela. In turn, I will start describing Orlanthi the way Lunars see them: as the violent, backwater conservative barbarians they are. I'm looking forward to see my players' faces when that happens, but frankly, they are very (self-)aware of the ways Orlanthi society sucks.

The only reason people mostly play "Orlanthi = good, Lunars = bad" is because most of the published material is Orlanthi-centric.

As for how my Glorantha varies? I think it doesn't vary much because I barely got started with it. I moved a few things around to make my Far Place-centered campaign work better (nudged a couple dates, changed a couple things regarding the local clans), but nothing of big consequence. The biggest variations are probably to be found with people who are already several years into a campaign, where compound changes have bigger consequences on the world, and the PCs have had time to change the course of the metaplot history.

Edited by lordabdul
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Ludovic aka Lordabdul -- read and listen to  The God Learners , the Gloranthan podcast, newsletter, & blog !

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Dara Happa is a shared myth, not an entity, with profoundly different  cultures from city to city. 

The Lunars may be doomed, but they are happy post-modernists without DH's misogyny. Unfortunate expansionist tendencies, though. 

Sartarites are arrogant and exclusivist, with some very dangerously powerful and socially validated homicidal cults. 

Esrolians are Minoan hippies. 

Helerings are happily bi and Welsh. 

As for the Mostali and 7-of-9, don't even go there.....

Uz are a modern take on Neanderthals. 

Your Glorantha Must Vary! 

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I suppose there's also the question of which religious vision holds sway. 

My Glorantha is (I hope) rich and very, very varied with all the runes of HW and Ilh2. The cities of Dara Happa seethe with rival cults beneath the Plentonian-Yelmgathan nonsense espoused by the Yelmites. 

Orlanth and Ernalda are umbrella concepts covering many local cults, identified as thunder brothers and subcults respectively. 

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As My Glorantha Has Varied:

  • Sartarites are "nation" of trouble-making hill-billies who annoy their neighbors almost as much as they annoy one another.
  • The Lunars ain't so bad, but their embrace of contradictions is tearing them apart from within.  Rumor has it they were invited to help settle down the "Sartar problem".
  • Among a nation of trouble-makers, Argrath is the worst of the lot, outlawed by his own people for agitating clan rivalries and instigating hostilities with more powerful neighbors.  A dangerous charlatan, ripe to be displaced by a real hero.
  • Harrek is a monster.  So is Jar-Eel.  One embodies the worst of barbarism, the other the worst of civilsation.  If we're lucky, they'll cancel each other out one day, and not then entire world with them.
  • An atheist wizard from the West has survived being trod underfoot by a giant (albeit, a small one) and inspired the Balazarings into open revolt.
  • The Sun Dome temples of Glorantha are associated cross-culturally, though fractured by ancient rifts.
  • Cloud Leopards are the Airy counterpart to Storm Tigers, and the human son of a cloud leopard will unite the Sun Domes.
  • The Sofali Raft People have rescued a refugee fleet of Afadjanni slaves, landing first at Corflu, and are en route to re-establish the turtle nests of Choralinthor Bay.
  • Duke Raus' daughter Jezra has run away one too many times.  Never the most stable of personalities to begin with, jilted romantically by her savior from abduction at the hands of Tusk Riders (an outlaw Sartarite scoundrel who may or may not have been Argrath himself), she disappeared into the wastes.  Contrary to the popular opinion that she was eaten by hyenas, she experienced a transcendent vision quest in which she bonded with a black unicorn and has become a figure of awe, terror, and inspiration among the cult of Yelorna.
  • The Agimori of Prax are not Pamaltelans.
  • The Aramites are candidates for redemption.  Not purification -- just redeemed from their endemically fractious and self-demeaning state.  Be very wary when they do, and watch the color of the moon.
  • Broos are still sexually degenerate f***-monsters.  If they can't find a hole, they'll make one.  They're the Great God Pan at his worst, and no one in Glorantha will surrender to a broo as a result.  And as bad as he is, Ralzakark may be their only ticket out of hell.
  • Aldryami forests are home to many types of elfs, including "dark elfs" who live among the roots of the trees, your common elfs who live among the forest floor, and "high elfs" who look like humans for most intents and purposes and live in villages (you guessed it) high among the branches.  Good luck getting a face-to-face with the high elfs.

Oddly enough, I never got around to dealing with the Mostali.  Maybe that's how it should be -- just rumors that they even exist.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
Endemic, not perpetual! That word totally got away from me yesterday.
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carbon copy logo smallest.jpg  ...developer of White Rabbit Green

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1/ Gods are just powerful beings that were as mortal as the mortal races before they became powerful. They need POW sacrificed to them by believers to provide the magics that their worshipers expect. If their worship wanes so does their power. Some gods are worshipped in quite differents ways in different places. The gods are indifferent to the details, but worshipers of the same entity under a different name can go as far as regarding each other as apostates and enemies. The myths may just be myths as distinct from  actual events. 

2/ Apart from gods, the world may just be interpreted as it was in our Bronze Age. Almost everyone says it’s flat. But who knows... The river Syphon does indeed flow upstream, but maybe it’s more to do with Larnste’s footprint being below the sea level of Mirrorsea Bay...

3/ Magic is real. Places have power and spirits that can become embodied. Intelligent beings can learn to shape reality with their own power, get magic from gods, or learn how to manipulate reality using runes which are simply ways to shape reality by drawing power from around them.

4/ Heortlanders regard Sartarites as rustic and uncouth. They speak unaccented English (I’m English)  Sartarites think Heortlanders are effete and soft and speak with a Scottish accent. Esrolian is English with a French accent. Praxian is Hungarian but with a simple letter substitution to make it sound totally different and has clicks in it. Lunars speak Dutch.

5/ I’m still more enamoured with a Lunar-occupied Dragon Pass and lower ability starting characters than a post-Lunar defeat and higher ability RQG style characters.

I’ll add more later but need to sleep now...

 

 

 

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Love your topic Richard and the last posting explains why.

I love your imagination Monty Lovering, though there is very little here I would use in my game, that does not matter. I would love to play in your unique vision of Genertela because of the creativity you employ to make it yours.

Cheers!

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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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Mine (Or Rather the shared vision of myself and two other 'main GM's' and two other 'Guest' GM's running two different parties, it's complex) varies principally in a few house rules and in Timeline. The Big Difference is events from 1625 on. As Both me and the other old hand GM have 1st ed copies of King Of Sartar we've gone with Kallyr being alive again post battle of Queens (partly due to player actions) and Argrath(s) being confusing. This will likely mean huge issues slotting in the Sartar Campaign when it happens but as we're currently in Dark Season 1626 we've already missed that boat :-)

 

 

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7 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

I love your imagination Monty Lovering, though there is very little here I would use in my game, that does not matter. I would love to play in your unique vision of Genertela because of the creativity you employ to make it yours.

Cheers!


Thank you! I know it’s a very personal Glorantha.  
 

Additional differences:

6/ Gods are quite indifferent to their worshipers and are not omniscient or omnipresent, nor are their spirits of reprisal. This corruption and non-orthodox behaviour doesn’t come to their attention unless worshippers tell them, and even then it’s all about the value of the offended worshipers worship versus that of the offender. So Gloranthan religions are just as messy chaotic and open to corruption as Earthly ones. And often it’s the guilt of a worshiper that causes bad things to happen if they stray from the path.

7/ Illumination is realising this and being freed of slavish devotion to gods, and realising that you can get what you want out of a god by giving them what they really want (POW) rather than devotion and orthodox worship. This is why Illuminates are feared. They run a coach and horses through society even if they are nice people. 
 

8/ Technology is basically steam punk Bronze Age. Basically Bronze-ish but iron is well known even if the way to make decent weapons and armour isn’t, and weird ‘advanced’ technology appears either from Dwarves who have steam power, or old ruins (The Clanking Ruins were a society of Illuminate sorcerers who had steam power). Wind and water power is well known. Clockwork mechanisms too, but are vastly expensive. 

9/ Cult weapons and metals have symbolic significance and are used ritually and carried to show alligance and as secondary weapons, but everyone uses spears as the primary battlefield weapon just like they did in our history because they work really well, and if you’re facing heavily armoured foe you’ll want a war hammer or mace, an axe at a push as, just like in real life, as swords are great side-arms and very adaptable but are not good against heavy armour. Iron is used by all species and cults by those who can suppress its magic dampening qualities. Trolls and elves use iron armour covered in fabric or leather. They don’t take extra damage from iron but do have an allergic reaction to being touched by it, as do Telimori and silver. But the allergic reaction is susceptible to magical and herbal amelioration. 

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13 hours ago, Monty Lovering said:

what they really want (POW) rather than devotion and orthodox worship.

Speaking as mainly a non-gamer: what is Points of Worship in-universe, if not devotion and worship? 

It seems weirdly mechanical for me to think that there's this little ball of energy warping from a worshipper to a God that can be neatly quantified and counted and ran statistics on. I've always viewed it more as a convention of gaming (like skills being turned into percentages, even though of course that's not how RL works), but maybe I'm wrong and POW are something like the photons of Glorantha or something.

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2 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Speaking as mainly a non-gamer: what is Points of Worship in-universe, if not devotion and worship? 

It seems weirdly mechanical for me to think that there's this little ball of energy warping from a worshipper to a God that can be neatly quantified and counted and ran statistics on. I've always viewed it more as a convention of gaming (like skills being turned into percentages, even though of course that's not how RL works), but maybe I'm wrong and POW are something like the photons of Glorantha or something.

POW is used to quantify magical power or the strength of someone’s spirit or soul. 

It can be used to drive a normal spell or an act of worship and you regenerate it the next day. Or given away permanently for a greater magic. 

It is as much an abstraction as skill percentages but in conventional RQ POW is used to measure acts of worship, so to speak. Thus my idea that gods need it and wane in power if they don’t get it. 

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37 minutes ago, Monty Lovering said:

POW is used to quantify magical power or the strength of someone’s spirit or soul. 

It can be used to drive a normal spell or an act of worship and you regenerate it the next day. Or given away permanently for a greater magic. 

It is as much an abstraction as skill percentages but in conventional RQ POW is used to measure acts of worship, so to speak. Thus my idea that gods need it and wane in power if they don’t get it. 

So deities ARE dependant on worship, given that this is the main mode of transferance for the magic/soul-power of mortals, right? It just doesn't have to be "earnest", in the sense of heartfelt devotion - it can just be someone going through the motions. 

 

I'm imagining your Glorantha's gods as essentially Goku firing up the spirit bomb and asking everyone to believe in him. (A view I more or less agree with, even if I'd put in a caveat of perhaps certain gods having a greater or lesser baseline, but now I'm getting off-topic), except it's less belief and more just nominal ritual support.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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On 2/24/2020 at 12:27 PM, Lysus said:

I toss out pretty much every suggestion of a timeline post-1625, for one. King of Sartar is definitely going into the shredder. Argrath can go with it.

I am the same - not because I dislike the story, but because I want to run a game. Cool things should be done by PCs, not NPCs.

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Some really good stuff here.

Personally I don't think the Lunars are bad guys at all. Let's look at Orlanth. This is a dude that got his mate to nick Death so he could murder the Sun. Sure, he felt bad about it once the world was almost destroyed as a result, but guilt doesn't wash away sin right? :) In favour of making Lunars not "equivalent to broo" is that there are some cool rules for Lunar magic, Illumination, and some cool variant gods that seems honestly to be a waste of effort to stat up if it's just for NPCs. GMs are never going to be as creative with Lunar Sorcery (for example) as players might be, and players will enjoy it more - isn't it all about MGF after all?

On the other hand I'm not saying the Lunars are exactly good guys either, but there are published examples of good guy Lunars (the Coders spring to mind, Duke Raus is a decent bloke, and so on) so it seems entirely fair to me to let individual PCs decide who they think are the good and bad guys in any given situation. To me, the important reason that Lunars are the enemy to Orlanthi is that the former are conquering all their land more than that some of them use Chaos, though the latter is obviously useful to Orlanthi propagandists.

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8 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

So deities ARE dependant on worship, given that this is the main mode of transferance for the magic/soul-power of mortals, right? It just doesn't have to be "earnest", in the sense of heartfelt devotion - it can just be someone going through the motions. 

 

I'm imagining your Glorantha's gods as essentially Goku firing up the spirit bomb and asking everyone to believe in him. (A view I more or less agree with, even if I'd put in a caveat of perhaps certain gods having a greater or lesser baseline, but now I'm getting off-topic), except it's less belief and more just nominal ritual support.

Yeah pretty much. They or their spirits are not reading your mind or watching your every action all the time, possibly never unless your name starts cropping up a lot in other prayers or by very powerful worshippers, or by use of the specific Rune Spells for the purpose of enforcing orthodoxy. And even wirh the spells the orthodoxy being imposed is the priest’s opinion. 
 

A human or other intelligent being who becomes an immensely powerful sorcerer and attracts worshipers is basically a god. And some gods were once humans or other entities. 
 

So in my Glorantha no one is an atheist as the existence of gods is easy to prove. But some people realise the true nature of them. Just because someone is a god doesn’t mean you have to worship them. You can use them for magic just like they use worshippers for power. 
 

My next RQ campaign the players know none of this, LOL. And I’m adding ‘Illumination’ as a trait starting at 5% + their INT bonus for a Knowledge skill. If they do anything that in their character’s belief would result in punishment for unorthodoxy or see such actions happen and don’t get to see resultant punishment OR they witness something that is impossible according to their beliefs, they get the chance to roll and increase their trait - although they won’t know this until they succeed the first time with me rolling for them and I inform them they have Ilumination x percent but don’t tell them why they now have that. 
 

So a corrupt yet unpunished Priest can plant the seeds of doubt as much as a Humakti acting dishonourably but not getting found out. Eventually a character will realise when they are being asked to roll and getting increases and start to figure it out. They might deliberately do stuff as an experiment. When they attain Mastery they are Illuminated and there is a reveal if this is needed by then.

It’s quite possible no character will ever question things to an extent they become Illuminated. It, like the fact my Glorantha is a globe even though people commonly believe it is flat is just buried brain candy for my amusement that may never enter play.  

 

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As far as I am concerned, the following points changed for the moment:

1. the kinslaying problem is tied to bloodlines and not to rituals, social, ties (e.g. if you kill a cousin who doesn't belong to your clan, it is kinslaying).

2. I will make the dragonrise fail as I don't like its "draco ex machina" quality and also because most of the players will expect it to happen and plan accordingly.

3. The Enjossi have a secret to leap the Skyfall and reach the Skydome.

4. Argrath Whitebull is an Eurmali joke.

5. There is a cult belinving that dragons are the space between the runes, allowing their differentiation and interactions in the creation process. The dragons then became the strands of the Great Compromise web. In their vision, Arachne Solara is the wyrmweaver.

6. Elmal is the former Yelmalio who embraced freedom, Yelmalio is the tatters of his former self, still conscious and active. A divine, sentient, moult. The lingering light of a dead star. So both are alive and competing. And Elmal is losing, exemplifying the dilemma between freedom and power.

7. Morokanths are definitely flesh eaters.

8. Vingas are red-head because when Vinga first took arms to defend Orlanth's stead, she took and old rusty helm and the rust colored her hair. Obviously, not a world-changing variation...

Edited by Minlister
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1 hour ago, Minlister said:

7. Morokanths are definitely flesh eaters.

Well, as everyone (on Glorantha) believe they are, and as it is not because they usually have a vegetarian diet that they are not flesh eaters, the point seems a bit moot / trivial, no?
I agree with David Scott PoV that is is way more fun for Morokanth to no like meat!

 

Edited by 7Tigers
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1 hour ago, Minlister said:

6. Elmal is the former Yelmalio who embraced freedom, Yelmalio is the tatters of his former self, still conscious and active. A divine, sentient, moult. The lingering light of a dead star. So both are alive and competing. And Elmal is losing, exemplifying the dilemma between freedom and power.

 

I have heard this Eurmal-Elmal thing before (before I joined here I perused lots of image board threads about Glorantha, and one explained Elmal as being the front of the horse, and Eurmal being the rear), is there anything to this? No one has mentioned it here before.

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@7Tigers Oh, yes, indeed, hardly a Copernican revolution!! I just want to confront my players with this problem when they have dealing with the Morokanths. And being hunted in the Praxian wastes by man-heaters is something else! But you are right, the simple fact that they think they are man-eaters could suffice.

Also, all the winners of the Waha compact eat the losers on a regular basis, so why not the Morokanths? 

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