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Darius West

The Fate of the Sable Tribe

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We are told a number of conflicting things about the Sable Tribe in and around the time of the Whitebull Army's victory in Prax.  We are told that the Sables joined the Whitebull Army.  We are also told that the Sables were defeated by the Whitebull Army and driven into the Chaos Wastes.  Given their alliance with the Lunar Empire, the Sables are in an interesting political situation, effectively having a foot in both camps of the conflict.  This ambiguity is well worth some detailed discussion.   How did this all play out for the Sables?  It seems like some clans stayed loyal to the Lunars, and the Antelope Lancers fled back to Peloria, while some tribes fled into the Chaos Wastes.  On the other hand, did whole clans of Sables join the Whitebulls, or just Stormbull warbands of Sable riders?  We know the Arinstoli clan of the Sables went pro-Whitebull, but did any others?  As the write-up says, this change of loyalty from Lunars to Argrath seems uncharacteristic.  The whole area needs quite a bit of clarification, and frankly would make a very interesting scenario, or even a freeform perhaps. I am eager to read what people think about this issue.

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One of the PC's in my game is a sable rider 7 Mother's worshiper but follower of Whitebull - I'm interested to see how his conflicted loyalties transpire into actions at the upcoming Battle of Dangerford.  His mission is to help his clan chief understand whether their undecided clan should commit to Whitebull 100% or if they should continue playing the fence between Lunar and Argrath loyalty.

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3 hours ago, Darius West said:

We are told a number of conflicting things about the Sable Tribe in and around the time of the Whitebull Army's victory in Prax.  We are told that the Sables joined the Whitebull Army.  We are also told that the Sables were defeated by the Whitebull Army and driven into the Chaos Wastes.  Given their alliance with the Lunar Empire, the Sables are in an interesting political situation, effectively having a foot in both camps of the conflict.  This ambiguity is well worth some detailed discussion.   How did this all play out for the Sables?  It seems like some clans stayed loyal to the Lunars, and the Antelope Lancers fled back to Peloria, while some tribes fled into the Chaos Wastes.  On the other hand, did whole clans of Sables join the Whitebulls, or just Stormbull warbands of Sable riders?  We know the Arinstoli clan of the Sables went pro-Whitebull, but did any others?  As the write-up says, this change of loyalty from Lunars to Argrath seems uncharacteristic.  The whole area needs quite a bit of clarification, and frankly would make a very interesting scenario, or even a freeform perhaps. I am eager to read what people think about this issue.

IIRC, about 2/5 each went Lunar vs Argrath (and I don't recall the other 1/5th).

I presume some of that was entire clans; some were by-warband; some were small family units, some individuals (n.b. any time it was "small family units" or "individuals," those would be exceptions from what was otherwise "entire clans."

 

But I'm not sure ANY sort of "switching loyalty" is uncharacteristic in Prax.  The different Tribes have been feuding and sparring since time immemorial; sometimes allying with outsiders to the detriment of other clans, sometimes uniting with other clans to raid outsiders, etc -- ALL the permutations of politics, feuds, wars, etc.

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4 hours ago, g33k said:

But I'm not sure ANY sort of "switching loyalty" is uncharacteristic in Prax.  The different Tribes have been feuding and sparring since time immemorial; sometimes allying with outsiders to the detriment of other clans, sometimes uniting with other clans to raid outsiders, etc -- ALL the permutations of politics, feuds, wars, etc.

I completely agree with you, that switching loyalty is pretty characteristic of Praxians, but the Lunars don't represent your usual tribal alliance of convenience, they're a colossal empire, and the initiates into their cult are forever tied to the cycles of the Moon.  Arguably, the White Bull Prophecy is the only thing that gets some to change sides, and that is a pretty slender thread to hang a long term alliance on when compared to what the Lunars bring to the table, even when they are losing.  That was all I meant.

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3 hours ago, Darius West said:

... and the initiates into their cult are forever tied to the cycles of the Moon ...

Moon Rune didn't begin with Sedenya.  Moonbroth was a lunar site long before the Empire visited.

 

3 hours ago, Darius West said:

... the White Bull Prophecy is the only thing that gets some to change sides, and that is a pretty slender thread to hang a long term alliance on when compared to what the Lunars bring to the table ...

You appear to be giving the average Praxian a players-eye view of entire sourcebooks.

Praxians just don't have that perspective (except for Argrath himself).  I think the White Bull looks pretty telling, to many Praxians!

 

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And yes, things are a bit different to the normal switching back and forward of alliances between the tribes, because it represents some contact with an external power and their magic - just like the Pol Joni, the Pure Horse People in Prax, the alliance with the World Council to defeat the horse lords in the first age, alliance with Sheng in the third age, alliance with Paragua and other giants to destroy Robcradle, eventual treaty with Pavis, Jaldon Goldentooth and his weird foreign and ancient magic, etc. Individual Praxians tend to retain their ancient prejudices, but again and again the Praxians tribes have shown that they will pragmatically ally with foreigners, no matter how strange their magic, for advantage. The Sables allying with the Lunars are mostly unusual because the connections with the sable riders of the Hungry Plateau mean there are also ancient alliances.

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I had always took it that (some of) the Sables switched sides because that is the nature of Sable riders--- their repute is one of unusual opportunism, even for Praxians (IMG at least). "Perfidious" is the adjective often applied to them and that propensity to betray can work on their Lunar allies just as much as their fellow Praxians. So the chickens came home to roost, is how I saw it.

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Here's a basic overview, unlikely to be fleshed out completely as it leaves plenty of space for story hooks and alternate endings.

  • Cults of Prax (classic page 31) replace Storm Bull with the Twin Stars as the founder's father.
  • The sable daughters, each a daughter of the the sable protectress, each found a phratry (a grouping that sits between tribe and clan)
  • Legend says there were seven daughters of course, seven phratries
  • Sables migrate along with other Praxians across Genertela.
  • Hungry Plateau Sables (HPS) settle (a separate phratry) they always maintained contact with Prax.
  • 5 phratries in Prax.
  • Lunars arrive in 1608 with HPS, end up at the Paps where they of course pay respects the Most Respected Elder who naturally acknowledged them.
  • 1610 Lunars arrive - Armistace of Prax - Lunars place Inire the Red, Sable Tribal Khan as Paps Khan.
  • Polarisation of phratries. 2 become Lunarised (embracing HPL lunar cults) , 2 remain conservative (rejecting HPL cults), 1 neutral (leaves for the Wastes).
  • With the support of the Lunars, Inire the Red regains the sable ancestral lands lost to the Pol-Joni and sets up a permanent camp outside Moonbroth.
  • Inire the Red only attends the 1610 & 1611 sacred time ceremonies, then continues his decadent life at his permanent camp. Suffers no cult retribution (ever).
  • Roneer the Hue (leader of conservative phratries) secretly acts as stand in at the Paps, fulfilling sacred roles with Egajia Chewer of Flesh (for over 10 years).
  • Jaldon returns. Egajia (Eiritha) declares Armistace of Prax broken and Jaldon Paps Khan. She declares Inire an outcast.
  • Roneer joins Argrath White Bull.
  • Moonbroth II - Roneer kills Inire and becomes Sable Khan.
  • Neutral phratry joins conservative phratries under Roneer.
  • Sable genocide begins, lunarised phratries scatter (HPS retreat to HP), those that don't escape are murdered (mostly) by the other sables. Uninitiated children are absorbed into other phratries.
  • Sable Khan given land inside the Rubble by King Argrath (no other tribal khan receives this).
  • Sable religion has permanently changed, the twin stars become more important again (and the Lunar cycle acknowledged), the Seven mothers remain embedded with the tribes (they restored the Twin Stars to importance) - but there is no connection to the Lunar Empire now.

(Think of Inire the Red as Baron Harkonnen, the Seven Mothers in Prax as the Bene Gesseret bringing the Twin stars myth back to prominence with a moon connection, Roneer as Paul without the religious overtones, more as psycho avenger).

Roneer, who started off with the noble idea of saving his people, is Warlord of Argrath, genocidal leader of the Sables, mandated by the White Bull society to fight at the end of world with Argrath. What Praxian is going to call him out.

1625 RQG starts - plenty of room in this to do your own stuff... 

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12 minutes ago, David Scott said:
  • Legend says there were seven daughters of course, seven phratries
  • Sables migrate along with other Praxians across Genertela.
  • Hungry Plateau Sables (HPS) settle (a separate phratry) they always maintained contact with Prax.
  • 5 phratries in Prax.

So what happened to the seventh phratry?  Went east with Sheng Seleris and drowned of the coast of Vormain is my guess.

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5 minutes ago, metcalph said:

So what happened to the seventh phratry?

I actually think there were many more, they like the other praxian colonies either died out or lost their nomadic ways and became the local population. But your idea is a good one.

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I'll have some unofficial thoughts about at least a couple of groups of post-Lunar Sables in my Moonbroth Oasis sourcebook. Should be finished this year, if I can stop writing other scenarios long enough to make progress with it...

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6 hours ago, David Scott said:

I actually think there were many more ...

I'd tend to see those more as schisms of the 7 core phratries.

There's this myth/history division in the Real World that's MUCH less clear in Glorantha.  Heroquesting and God-Time quests let our PCs visit & even JOIN those foundational "myths" -- their historicity verified, something essentially unavailable in the RW.

So when I look at the Lunar Sables, and see 7 Daughters with mythic linkage to the 7 moon-phases, I  "YEP!"  that, lean in hard, and don't see the point of wanting/having other coequal (foundational) Phratries ...

But schisms?  Maybe led by the grand-daughters of the Sable Protectress, great grand-daughters, sisters-in-law, cousins, other lineages (without clear descent from the Protectress) risen to prominence, etc?  Oh yeah.  Bring it on, ALL of it!  Rivalries, betrayals, competing claims to be "the one true Waxing Moon Phratry" ... all that good stuff!

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6 hours ago, David Scott said:

Legend says there were seven daughters of course, seven phratries

To be clear, this originates after the Lunars get involved, before then it was never really thought as a fixed number.

4 minutes ago, g33k said:

So when I look at the Lunar Sables, and see 7 Daughters with mythic linkage to the 7 moon-phases, I  "YEP!"  that, lean in hard, and don't see the point of wanting/having other coequal (foundational) Phratries ...

There were many sable daughters in the stories, some never founded phratries. Combine this with the numbers of Sables at the Dawn:

Roughly 500 sables, split into 20 families grouped into 5 septs. It's these septs that become the phratries (only in the Sables). Later each phratry develops it's own septs. It's at this point that some families move out on the great migrations. During these times likely some discovered their own Sable Daughter, some establish successfully, others failed.

It was this fixing of numbers by the Lunars that was the kind of thing that the conservative groups saw as foreign and un-praxian. But the Lunars understood what they were doing, and after 15 years they had successfully changed the Sable religion.

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2 hours ago, David Scott said:

To be clear, this originates after the Lunars get involved, before then it was never really thought as a fixed number.

There were many sable daughters in the stories, some never founded phratries. Combine this with the numbers of Sables at the Dawn:

Roughly 500 sables, split into 20 families grouped into 5 septs. It's these septs that become the phratries (only in the Sables). Later each phratry develops it's own septs. It's at this point that some families move out on the great migrations. During these times likely some discovered their own Sable Daughter, some establish successfully, others failed.

It was this fixing of numbers by the Lunars that was the kind of thing that the conservative groups saw as foreign and un-praxian. But the Lunars understood what they were doing, and after 15 years they had successfully changed the Sable religion.

Hmmm.

OK, tyvm!

I am kind of liking the Lunar version, frankly... as you say, "the Lunars understood what they were doing."

But it's the kind of fine detail I like -- as a gamer, as a lover of Prax -- to help differentiate them from being a same-y "just another Beast Rider" Tribe.

 

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34 minutes ago, g33k said:

But it's the kind of fine detail I like -- as a gamer, as a lover of Prax -- to help differentiate them from being a same-y "just another Beast Rider" Tribe.

 

I can't help thinking that if the other Great Tribes were given the same in-depth treatment, one would find stuff about them that stands out as well.

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10 hours ago, David Scott said:
  • Sables migrate along with other Praxians across Genertela.
  • Hungry Plateau Sables (HPS) settle (a separate phratry) they always maintained contact with Prax.

Are these migrations with the First Council or the EWF?  If so, how did they maintain contact after the Dragonkill?

Thanks,
David.

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4 hours ago, g33k said:

let our PCs visit & even JOIN those foundational "myths" -- their historicity verified

Or refuted, changed, modified, updated, etc. as YOUR quest missed steps, added steps, encountered different figures, had different heroquest surprises, did things wrong, or did things "right", etc.

 

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17 hours ago, g33k said:

You appear to be giving the average Praxian a players-eye view of entire sourcebooks. Praxians just don't have that perspective (except for Argrath himself).  I think the White Bull looks pretty telling, to many Praxians!

Praxians have a good idea about who controls what territory with how many warriors.  They are a raiding culture, and this is their livelihood.  Praxians will have solid intel on the strength of the Lunars if they are near them, and this will be updated any time they follow a caravan into a Lunar settlement as guards.  It's part of their raider culture mindset, just like a robber and every security guard will case every shop they walk into.  Given that prophecies don't always quite mean what they say, there would need to be a shift in the balance of power, (most likely the Dragonrise), that would tip the balance imo.  If the dragonrise was part of the White Bull Prophecy then it would be a lay down misere.

Edited by Darius West

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2 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Or refuted, changed, modified, updated, etc. as YOUR quest missed steps, added steps, encountered different figures, had different heroquest surprises, did things wrong, or did things "right", etc.

Yes.

Or rather, "yes, but..."

I tend to see that as mostly changing interpretations, and mostly specific-to-the-heroquestors, specific-to-a-clan, specific-to-a-cult, etc.  Occasionally coming back with specific rewards (expected or otherwise).  But sweeping historical changes? 

But changes that alter widely-known reality?  Exceedingly rare.

When a ZZ runelord goes back to the Hill of Gold, and has an abject failure, it doesn't strip fire-powers away from Zorak Zoran himself; it doesn't even strip fire magic away from other ZZ cultists!  The specific runelord may have problems, may need to further quest or atone, etc; but that's about it.  Not even if the High Priest of all Zorak Zorani fails -- on the ZZ High Holy Day! -- does it impact the fire-powers of ZZ himself! 

There's a little bit of weaponized HQ'ing -- all the way back to the Troll Raid on the Earth Ceremony in Travels of Biturian Varosh -- but I think mostly they follow that pattern:  short term (a season, a year) blessings & advantages gained or lost; curses inflicted or averted.

 

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11 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Praxians have a good idea about who controls what territory with how many warriors.  They are a raiding culture, and this is their livelihood.  Praxians will have solid intel on the strength of the Lunars if they are near them, and this will be updated any time they follow a caravan into a Lunar settlement as guards.  It's part of their raider culture mindset, just like a robber and every security guard will case every shop they walk into...

But it's a rather primitive POV.  "I know what I've seen; I trust information that comes from those I trust."  Praxians really don't grasp the scope and the depth of the Lunar Empire, the resources that  could  march into Prax  -=IF=-  the Emperor deemed Moonbroth a critical issue.  That stuff will be no part of their calculus of pragmatic side-switching.

The issue I was pointing to was the Praxian Sables looking at the Lunars, and looking at Argrath (who was already gathering some Sables to his White Bull Society), and figuring out where their own advantage lay.  I was responding to the suggestion that Argrath would have looked like a bad bet.

They could SEE Argrath.  They could SEE the alliances of the White Bull Society.

Could they consider the broad sweep of Sedenya's "if we defeat her on the Wane, she'll just be back (even stronger) on the Wax" cyclic habits&history?  Could they look at the vast might of the Imperial Legions, the incredible potency of the Crater Makers, the dire threat of the Bat, etc etc etc?

I think -- from the Praxian POV -- Argrath is a reasonable bet.   Clearly a large portion (40%) of the Sables thought so, too!

An equally large portion thought the Lunars were a better bet.

And a smaller portion said "looks like a coin-toss, and the winners kill the losers; I don't want to bet my life on a 50/50 toss," and cleared out.

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5 hours ago, g33k said:

I think -- from the Praxian POV -- Argrath is a reasonable bet.   Clearly a large portion (40%) of the Sables thought so, too!

An equally large portion thought the Lunars were a better bet.

And a smaller portion said "looks like a coin-toss, and the winners kill the losers; I don't want to bet my life on a 50/50 toss," and cleared out.

This is all crazy talk, though, because most Sable clans are off in the deep Wastelands and might only return to Holy Prax once in seven years, or forty-nine years, or when they next need to make a Khan. Many Sable clans have never heard of the Lunar Empire, and most Sable clans have never heard of this Argrath White Bull chap. (They know the White Bull prophecy, of course, but not that some crazy mystic seems to be fulfilling it).

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6 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

This is all crazy talk, though, because most Sable clans are off in the deep Wastelands and might only return to Holy Prax once in seven years, or forty-nine years, or when they next need to make a Khan. Many Sable clans have never heard of the Lunar Empire, and most Sable clans have never heard of this Argrath White Bull chap. (They know the White Bull prophecy, of course, but not that some crazy mystic seems to be fulfilling it).

Which means that the destruction of the two Lunar-friendly phratries is limited to those of their clans making contact with Prax during the armistice, leaving a good portion of them untouched by this development?

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2 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Which means that the destruction of the two Lunar-friendly phratries is limited to those of their clans making contact with Prax during the armistice, leaving a good portion of them untouched by this development?

Obviously. I'm not sure why I have to say this stuff out loud. At any given time, most Praxians aren't in Prax. A fair number of them would never have visited Prax throughout the period of Lunar Occupation. The examples we've been given are for the Flower Bison and Sable Green clans, from their What My Father Told Me narratives:

BISON: "Prax is our holy land, and most clans go there once in a lifetime. Our own clan visits the Paps every ten-hands-plus-one years, following our beasts' great migration across the Greatlands. You were born there, and I do not expect us to return in my lifetime." (Gloranthan Voices, 2003)

SABLE: "Prax is our holy land, and most clans make periodic pilgrimages there. Our own clan visits the Paps every ten-hands-less-one years." (Player's Book: Genertela; Orange box, 1988)

Editor's note: the Bison What My Father Told Me is basically the Sable version rewritten to cut out any fancy language, because that's not how any Bison Tribesman I've ever met would talk.

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17 hours ago, Revilo Divad Of Dyoll said:

Are these migrations with the First Council or the EWF?

First council, likely some EWF.

17 hours ago, Revilo Divad Of Dyoll said:

If so, how did they maintain contact after the Dragonkill?

The HPS likely went over top of the map and not down through Trash. TBH it's not something I really thought about.

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53 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Which means that the destruction of the two Lunar-friendly phratries is limited to those of their clans making contact with Prax during the armistice, leaving a good portion of them untouched by this development?

Firstly - they aren't friendly - they are pro-Lunar. They are actively embracing the Lunar pantheon and the benefits that brings.

43 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

Obviously. I'm not sure why I have to say this stuff out loud.

Then exactly as Nick says. The two phratries in Prax are the pro-Lunar ones. The ancestral lands of the sables is in Prax, occupying that is status for many sables. There's another conservative phratry led by Roneer the Hue. His clan are secretly based at the Paps up on the hills behind. The neutrals are out in the Wastes. The others in the Wastes, along with all the impala and Bison (who lost at Moonbroth I).

Personally I'm not going to do a detailed numbers game on this as I don't think it's needed and you can put clans, septs, phratries and tribes where you like for your game.

As for ancestral grazings in Prax, after Moonbroth I, the Pol-joni took advantage of the disarray and completely overran the Bison and High Llama ancestral grazings, where before they were grudgingly tolerated and continually harassed before the Lunars. The Sables took back control of the whole of their grazing, regaining the part occupied by the Pol-Joni. The Morokanth are still occupying their's (but many of the clans are in the Wastes). The Impalas' is in the Wastes. 

1433138324_AncestralGrazings.png.91998ca716e3624d65e38626e164d883.png

 

 

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