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Alda Chur's Glass Walls


Erick Eckberg

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Hey everybody.  Quick question;  I'm planning a Northern Sartar/Southern Tarsh Campaign.  I've done some research on Alda-Chur, but I haven't been able to find anything to explain why the city's walls are made of glass, or how that came to be.  It seems to be extraordinary, even by Glorantha's standards.  Any insights would be Greatly appreciated! 

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48 minutes ago, Erick Eckberg said:

Hey everybody.  Quick question;  I'm planning a Northern Sartar/Southern Tarsh Campaign.  I've done some research on Alda-Chur, but I haven't been able to find anything to explain why the city's walls are made of glass, or how that came to be.  It seems to be extraordinary, even by Glorantha's standards.  Any insights would be Greatly appreciated! 

Vitrified glass from being molten in the Dragonkill was my guess.  But this is probably what Greg was thinking of:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitrified_fort

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3 hours ago, Erick Eckberg said:

I've done some research on Alda-Chur, but I haven't been able to find anything to explain why the city's walls are made of glass, or how that came to be. 

You gotta hunt for the info a bit, especially since it's sometimes spelled "Aldachur", so you have to search for both spellings in your PDF collection.

Wyrms Footnotes 15: "Taros Ridgeleaper from Tarsh established Aldachur in the ruins of the fortress of Baran Breakearth, a great hero from before the Dragonkill. Only a few bits of the old fortress remain, including the glass walls."

There's a couple more bits in there, and generally speaking a lot of information on the Far Place, which you may want to read. A few things are incorrect or have been retcon'ed, but overall it's worth a look.

The description of Alda-Chur from WF15 has been expanded upon a bit in the (also out of date) Dragon Pass Gazeteer, but the origin of the glass walls stays the same almost verbatim.

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

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8 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Dragonfire melted the stone of the city there into a glass-like slag.

I'm not sure about this?  There's the Princeros town of Glasswall that has around it the remains of glass army molten by dragon fire... but the glass walls of Alda-Chur don't seem to have a definite origin. The Gazeteer says it's from the ruins of a previous draconic city, indicating that they were built as glass from the start by the Dragonewts. And given that, when it comes to Dragonewts, Greg had a tendency to say "glass" when talking about obsidian, it's possible the walls are actually made of that.

Either way, given the lack of solid info on the matter, one can probably safely do whatever looks the coolest in their game. Black reflective draconic walls sure look cool in my head.

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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6 hours ago, Erick Eckberg said:

Hey everybody.  Quick question;  I'm planning a Northern Sartar/Southern Tarsh Campaign.  I've done some research on Alda-Chur, but I haven't been able to find anything to explain why the city's walls are made of glass, or how that came to be.  It seems to be extraordinary, even by Glorantha's standards.  Any insights would be Greatly appreciated! 

Oh what the hell, let's get the whole Wind Words podcast crew weighing in here....

Quote

 

Taros Ridgeleaper from Tarsh established Alda-chur on the ruins of a draconic city. Only some bizarre architecture remains, including the glass walls, and the new city surrounds it. Several delicate towers, a cluster of curiously organic buildings, and myriad double and triple gateways soar amid curving, twisting streets built since the Resettlement. A part lies in ruins now, destroyed by recent rebellions.

[DP aGoK p. 10]

 

What Joerg is saying is the way I heard it as well, can’t think of the source... I had always assumed that Alda-chur was originally from the ol’ EWF which is supported by the above passage...though not proven. To cause stone to become glass I would think would require the fires from all the dragons from across time and space which coincidentally swept through this territory in the 1100s... 

1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

. The Gazeteer says it's from the ruins of a previous draconic city, indicating that they were built as glass from the start by the Dragonewts. And given that, when it comes to Dragonewts,

Well, the Dragonewts are the only folk bizarre enough to build a city with glass walls so I will not say thee nay, out of hand..."a cluster of curiously organic buildings, and myriad double and triple gateways soar amid curving, twisting streets” does support your argument about the nature of the builders as well.

Oh, and if this kind of thinking and debating is of interest... might I recommend a trip to windwords.fm?

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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The northern EWF saw some extra dragonfire with the scorch, a systematic weeding done by a formation of dragons.

But then Aldachur may have been a stronghold of the Golden Spearman cult already back in the EWF era, and may have seen some serious defense of the occupying forces against the dragons, backed by magic.

Aldachur and Glasswall are in the same area, so it is likely that the same dragon (or team of dragons) vitrified both places.

 

Glass was used as smooth artificial gem initially, with transparence or being shaped into bulbs or drinking vessels coming some time later.

2 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Well, the Dragonewts are the only folk bizarre enough to build a city with glass walls so I will not say thee nay, out of hand..."a cluster of curiously organic buildings, and myriad double and triple gateways soar amid curving, twisting streets” does support your argument about the nature of the builders as well.

"Curiously organic buildings" does exclude the other folk potentially bizarre enough to build a city with glass walls.

Dragonewt building material has been described as an adobe, and putting up such structures may be what they take on newtling bachelors for. I think of that as some form of cocooning rather than actual urban planning, possibly with some patterning resembling the curlicues of advanced dragonewt scale. If they are built at all, and not just conjured from draconic dreams.

The other known item of dragonewt architecture are the dragonewt plinths which mark their magical roads. These appear to have been carved, but may well have been conjured from dreams as well.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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20 hours ago, lordabdul said:

You gotta hunt for the info a bit, especially since it's sometimes spelled "Aldachur", so you have to search for both spellings in your PDF collection.

Wyrms Footnotes 15: "Taros Ridgeleaper from Tarsh established Aldachur in the ruins of the fortress of Baran Breakearth, a great hero from before the Dragonkill. Only a few bits of the old fortress remain, including the glass walls."

There's a couple more bits in there, and generally speaking a lot of information on the Far Place, which you may want to read. A few things are incorrect or have been retcon'ed, but overall it's worth a look.

The description of Alda-Chur from WF15 has been expanded upon a bit in the (also out of date) Dragon Pass Gazeteer, but the origin of the glass walls stays the same almost verbatim.

Man, I've been wanting to get ahold of Wyrm's Footnotes 15.  Thanks!  I was looking for something a bit "canonical", and that's close enough for me.  (and you're right about doing the research, but I am a bit lazy and so figured it'd be easier to just field the question).

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Lemme, see - this might throw a spanner in the works:

Glasswall is the center for the Princeros Tribe, where tribal ceremonies and assemblies take place. It is well fortified, with its fabled "walls of glass" dating back to before the Dragonkill.

 

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On 4/15/2020 at 9:51 PM, Bill the barbarian said:

... To cause stone to become glass I would think would require the fires from all the dragons from across time and space ... 

Nah.

In the RW it just takes 1 volcano.

In Glorantha, 1 dragon should more than suffice...

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On 4/16/2020 at 5:51 AM, Bill the barbarian said:

To cause stone to become glass I would think would require the fires from all the dragons from across time and space

Have a look at Vitrified Forts, presumably something similar happened at Alda Chur,or the walls were made of glass in some magical way.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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14 hours ago, Jeff said:

Glasswall is the center for the Princeros Tribe, where tribal ceremonies and assemblies take place. It is well fortified, with its fabled "walls of glass" dating back to before the Dragonkill.

I saw this too in my quick research and wondered if that might be the source of some people misremembering things...

The source is also the Dragon Pass Gazeteer from HQ1, although it says the walls predate the Dragonkill, but they were vitrified during the Dragonkill by dragon fire. Both Glasswall and Aldachur could have a similar origin for having glass walls but that's a bit redundant in my opinion. IMG I would probably keep that story only for Glasswall, especially since there's also supposedly a bunch of glass statues littering the area around it (remains of an old army killed at the same time during the Dragonkill), and that's super cool.... so I would do something else for Aldachur (I'm still on my idea of "glass" here meaning "obsidian walls built by Dragonewts", because black mirror walls look cool in my head, but I'd love to hear/read other ideas!).

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

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While I regard the walls of AldaChur being vitrified as perfectly legit, there is part of me that likes the idea of translucent glass walls manufactured, not by EWF dragonewts but by the Mostali of Dwarf Run, who were also major builders.

Chert, Flint and Obsidian are all natural glasses, and are not nice to try to cut through.  They make sharp flakes, blunt tools, cut miners, and spark (creating fires).  All-in-all, a huge nuisance, and in many ways, more annoying than trying to besiege a concrete structure.

Edited by Darius West
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4 hours ago, Darius West said:

there is part of me that likes the idea of translucent glass walls manufactured, not by EWF dragonewts but by the Mostali of Dwarf Run, who were also major builders

Completely translucent walls would be pretty bad for defending a city since, well, the attackers can see any preparation you're doing... but I think it would be awesome if the Mostali did some elaborate light bending engineering, and so people standing outside the walls might think, from what they see, that the people inside the city are 2 headed giants or something -- like an amusement park's "hall of mirrors" on steroids. With a bit more magic and imagination, you can even go in weirder places where the walls could potentially show you anything, making outside people think the armies amassed inside the city are 10 times bigger than reality. Or maybe, if you hold the correct "presentation" inside, they can show horrible visions that make these people flee in terror. Or maybe the glass walls can focus light into laser beams that destroy anything surrounding the city. You could even imagine that these various mirror shows and machines can only be activated and controlled if you have access to the "Master Refraction Control Room", a place built by the original Mostali architects, but whose location has been lost to the ages... maybe there's a few adventures there... first find the room, then find texts explaining how it works, find the key, find some replacement parts, etc.

4 hours ago, Darius West said:

The make sharp flakes, blunt tools, cut miners, and spark (creating fires).  All-in-all, a huge nuisance, and in many ways, more annoying than trying to besiege a concrete structure.

Sounds like a great scene... you try to break through the walls but all you get is a rain of sharp, super cutting shards falling on you. Imagine if Pavis came that way with his giant buddies, he would only get giants with bleeding hands.... I guess that's where his robot statue would have been super helpful.

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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4 hours ago, Darius West said:

While I regard the walls of AldaChur being vitrified as perfectly legit, there is part of me that likes the idea of translucent glass walls manufactured, not by EWF dragonewts but by the Mostali of Dwarf Run, who were also major builders.

While I haven't directly worked in the glass industry, I have worked for the glass industry as a chemist in product control for ultra-pure raw materials.

A translucent city wall made of glass is probably beyond our modern technology. Glass with the thickness of a brick may let through light, but won't let through any contours - the church of my youth had such glass bricks, and as a special gimmick blobs of glass as leftovers from that casting process as wall ornamentation creating bigger than fist sized pixels in the wall. Glass with the thickness of 20 or more bricks, even if it could be cast as a monolithic piece, would severely dampen the light going through. (Unlike glass fibre, I don't see how it can be manufactured to allow optimum light transmission.)

If you are using glass bricks, you'd need to fuse them perfectly to avoid severe inclusions or intermittent surfaces or density fluctuations creating an opalescent or mother-of-pearl effect at the boundaries.

 

4 hours ago, Darius West said:

Chert, Flint and Obsidian are all natural glasses, and are not nice to try to cut through.  The make sharp flakes, blunt tools, cut miners, and spark (creating fires).  All-in-all, a huge nuisance, and in many ways, more annoying than trying to besiege a concrete structure.

Heat and sudden quenching (alternate sendings of fire and water elementals) will remove nice flakes that you can use for all kinds of neolithic tools, and may crack the big monolith early on. Working through that may take an earth elemental's strength.

Both glass and concrete can be whittled down with focussed sand or slag storms. And extreme cold combined with brute force is another bane to glass, so yay to Darkness forces.

 

Lead mostali may be able to do some very nice lead crystal glass, or high quality labware for the quicksilvers,  Having the caste of the darkness metal in charge of transparency sounds like a losing strategy to me, though.

Even if we allow Imperial Roman levels of glass blowing in some parts of the Bronze Age setting of Glorantha, window panes that allow an un-distorted view of the outside are in all likelihood unknow in Glorantha. But we get six foot thick window panes? That surpasses "It's magic", and those walls might just as well be made of translucent ice in the middle of summer. And we all know how a wall of ice would look after eight seasons of Game of Thrones, don't we?

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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