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Homebrew Glorantha


Mankcam

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HOMEBREW GLORANTHA !!!

Over the years, many of us homebrewed our own settings from the ground up, and many of us also homebrewed published settings by filling in the gaps. Glorantha is no different, and in fact many of us may still have very different versions of Glorantha. 

Given the popularity of 'A Rough Guide To Glamour' it is obivious that the indie-flavour of Glorantha has not gone.

There was a post over on TBP where people were talking about their homebrew settings, and I posted a rather lengthy description of my original homebrew version of Glorantha, based off just the RQ2 Box Set and the RQ2 Companion. It was quite a different place to what I discovered in later publications.

It got me thinking that others must have done likewise, so It would be interesting to see what's out there in the memory vaults of us grognards who did their own thing for many years.

Nothing in this thread should be about 'What I did better in my Glorantha, etc etc'. It is more of a nod to the kid in all of us who went out and did it alone.

I think Greg Stafford would have approved all of us doing that at some stage.

Feel free to post away if you have any homebrew tales to tell us about your Glorantha 😎

Edited by Mankcam
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" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Well to kick things off,  here is a copy of my post on TBP thread. It's more nostalgia than anything else:

A GLORANTHA UNLIKE ANY OTHER...

I originally started with Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, so the look of the 'World of Titan' influenced me a bit. I then wanted to get Basic D&D, but my cousin ended up convincing me to get RuneQuest instead.

Good decision.

I initially had the RQ2 Box Set and nothing else to go on for a year, then I had the RQ2 Companion. It would be at least two or three years before I got the Cults books (which expanded religions and cultures at the same time), or any of the official RQ2/RQ3 supplements.

So during the gap years in between, I just had to wing the entire setting.

This was the 1980s and I was a teen who lived in a regional Australian town. We were a long way from the hub of the rpg industry at that time, there was only a few groups of kids who played rpgs in the town, and we knew most of them. Things are quite different now, but back then we had to work with whatever we had.

All I had for most of that interim time to play RuneQuest was the RQ2 Box (corebook, two scenarios), and the RQ2 Companion - these books eluded to an ancient world setting, gave a bit of history, had two very evocative maps, and that's about it.

The World of Glorantha was just a bare bones setting with these books, and pretty much a canvas for me to add alot to.

So although this was a published setting, my original Glorantha was at least 70% my own homebrew ideas, which was a mish-mash of what influences were around me at the time.

I was very influenced by ancient history, as well as Sword & Sorcery, with lots of ideas ported in from a plethora of CONAN comics, as well as the old Sinbad movies. In addition to this, I was fascinated by 'The Lord of the Rings' (both the book, as well as the animated film), and I loved the Brian Froud influence in 'The Dark Crystal' and 'Labyrinth'.

Additionally as a player in other GM settings  I was also exposed to Basic D&D 'Greyhawk', AD&D's 'Krynn', MERP, and Rolemaster's 'Shadow World'.

When it was time for me to GM, all these influences  poured into my home brew of Glorantha

Think a bizare homebrew cross between 1980s 'Clash Of The Titans', "CONAN The Barbarian', 'Beastmaster', Ralph Bakshi' 'Lord Of The Rings', and a hobble of psuedo-feudal atmosphere influenced by Jack Vance or Fritz Leiber, that Classic Fantasy flavour. Touches of 'Dark Crystal' and 'Labryinth' as well. Even influences from the BBC series 'Robin Hood' at times. I also loved the David Lynch 'DUNE' film back then, and although it was SciFi, it also influenced my Glorantha quite a bit. Of course I was a big fan of 'Star Wars', I think some of it may have unconsciously also slipped into my Glorantha at times.

In addition to Tolkien, I was also influenced by Ursula LeGuin's "Earthsea', Terry Brooks 'Shannara', Fritz Leiber's 'Fafhrd & Gray Mouser' series, Weis & Hickman's 'Dragonlance Chronicles', and Raymond Feist's 'Magician' (which would lead into his 'Riftwar Saga' series).

My high school Ancient History textbook was used quite alot. It also was a great cover for when my parents walked in expecting to see me doing homework, and I had my Ancient History textbook sitting right there in front of me.

For Glorantha, I only had the Kerofinela (Dragon Pass) map, and the Kethaela (Holy Country) maps, which were neighbouring regions - one inland and one coastal. I had a very broad world map of Glorantha from the RQ2 corebook, but nothing was detailed. I ended up detailing alot of the cultures and regions myself, completely oblivious that the world was already detailed by the author(s).

I had lots of handwritten note books, maps, pictures stuck in from Fangora magazines and such; basically a bursting patische of everything I wanted.

Because I never had the Cults Books for Glorantha at that time, then the presence of the Deities was initially very much a background thing (which is actually the opposite of how Glorantha ticks). It slowly became more prominent once it was evident that this is how you could gain magical abilities within the setting.

The RQ2 Corebook had the Storm God, and the Darkness Goddess. The Introduction in the RQ book  (as well as my cousin) told me about the Sun God, and the Earth Goddess. So I pretty much had everyone worship this one pantheon, placing a different emphasis on whichever deity depending upon the style of culture. I came across write ups for three Death Gods - Mistress of Afterlife, the War/Honour God and War/Berserker God. So these all became incorperated, with the War/Honour God worshippers being stern warriors and noble templars, almost paladins in some regions; whilst the War/Berserker God was for barbarians and evil doers and such. I eventually added the Peace/Healing Goddess once I knew about her, and that rounded the entire pantheon off.

So all cultures worshipped these gods, although some were banned in some regions, depending on the situation. I ballooned alot of their magic out beyond what I had in the core magic, and it was a very different version of Glorantha. I was aware of other deities at the time, but I just placed them as folklore, and learning an ability from one of them had to occur under the banner of one of the bigger Cults.

The PCs tended to get low-level magic from various temples, and treated them more like a bazaar at times. Once they had learnt a spell, that was generally it, they may learn a Healing spell from the Peace Goddess, or a Bladesharp from a War god willy nilly; it was something that just took the place of Feats in other games.

The Gods were portrayed very similar to the ancient Greek gods, as back then that is what I thought a fantasy pantheon should look like. However the pantheon was mainly a background canvas, in much the same way deities tend to be in vanilla fantasy settings. Not a major feature for all of my players.

I did have Sorcerers, which felt more like the villains from my CONAN comics than anything else. They also used the Rune Magic, but didn't respect the Gods so they weren't Priests. They mainly summoned the Elementals (from the core book), and I also introduced Demons (some of which was influenced by the 'Stormbringer' game my cousin had acquired).

Later on I had some players who wanted to be Sorcerers, and  they ended up feeling much like the lone wizards from the Earthsea books or The Riftwar Saga (although this may have been when I bought RQ3 and it introduced a new version of Sorcery, which was different to my previous Sorcerers using Rune Magic to summon Elementals and Demons. This was probably the start of many changes to my original Glorantha homebrew).

In RQ2 corebook the Guilds seemed to play a more prominent role than the religions, so Guilds were initially very big in my Glorantha. Even smaller regions were beholden to the Guilds at times. The PCs always seemed to be in debt to the Guilds, and they may have even been on the run from certain Guilds.

My cultures were based of tidbits of lore from canon, and alot of my own invention. Looking back it was actually not bad, considering what I had to work with, and my age at the time.

The land of Esrolia was based off Ancient Greece, with the capital being like ancient Athens or Corinth. Heortland was similar to an early Franksia, and also took a lot of references from Fritz Leiber's Nehwon, with Karse being based off Lanhkmar. Like Esrolia, Sartar was also very much Ancient Greece, although Sartar's capital was based more off Sparta. The nearby plains of Prax felt like some of the arid lands I had seen in the CONAN comics, maybe Shem or something like that. The city of Pavis was originally a Tarsh colony , with Mongolian like tribes throughout the plains (some were more like Cimmerians, others were a little native american indian as well). Tarsh felt like Turan from my CONAN comics, so it was very Arabic or Moorish in my Glorantha.

We had one enduring player-character who was a Foot Barbarian from Prax, so we made him essientially a figure like Conan, except he came from arid plains rather than icy mountains. We kept retconning that character over the years to fit the ever-changing impressions we had of Glorantha. In recent times we reinvented him as a Pol-Joni Raider, which is actually not too far off this original version - he's probably the only thing that has remained constant.

I was aware of an empire to the north coming down from Peloria, the Lunar Empire. In my original setting of Glorantha, the Lunar Empire was very much a background thing and not the feature it played in my later games (RQ3+). Originally Peloria was not detailed in the books I had, so my Peloria was a desert region filled with Egyptian-like people, with a range of icy mountains above it filled with Snow Barbarians (like CONAN Cimmerians) and Trolls. The Egyptians (Lunar Empire) had taken over the Arabic region (Tarsh) and had colonies elsewhere (such as Pavis). There was also a Pharaoh in the southern regions who was a mysterious demigod in charge of both the Athenians (Esrolia) and  Franksia/Nehwon (Heortland). Because of the Egyptian title of 'Pharaoh', I had him be the exiled brother of the northern Egyptian (Lunar) Emperor who was also a demigod. It could of led to some interesting possibilities.

According to the timeline, the southern Pharoah had gone missing, suspect to Eygptian (Lunar) treachery. There had also been a war with the Egyptians (Lunars) and the Spartans (Sartar). The Spartan (Sartar) captial had fallen, but recently been reclaimed by the Spartans (Sartar), and the Eygptians (Lunars) retreated for a while.

This was the recent history, so the Egyptian-Sparta (Lunar-Sartar) War was over when I first had the player-characters running around. Arabia (Tarsh) was kind of a neutral ground, and the Arabic-like city of Pavis still had an Egyptian (Lunar) garrison, but that was about it, the Egyptians (Lunars) were no longer a big presence (although I had their Emperor scheming to return one day).

Troll hordes were a big threat, and I also read about Delecti The Necromancer, so he became a Sauron-like presence from his swamp (which stood in for a damp Mordor), and he was coordinating the Trolls much like Tolkien's Sauron coordinated the Orcs. So the growing presence of Delecti the Necromancer (who was the Arch Sorcerer, and also High Priest of the Darkness Goddess) was meant to be the big background metaplot to connect the various separate scenarios I was runninng (which were often re-trapped D&D modules).

Most of the games were essientially dungeon crawls or hack and slay, and I had to allow extremely liberal use of Luck rolls to save the PCs from the harshnes of the RQ system, otherwise we would of had TPKs every week.

I had wanted to pursue my over-arching metaplot of Delecti/Sauron, but the PCs took the campaign further south and I think it derailed in the end. We moved onto other games, but I kept developing my Glorantha, altering it bit by bit as I became aware of new canon, until my original Glorantha really didn't exist anymore. By the early 1990s it had been absorbed into the Gloranthan canon that was on the shelves at that time.

So yep, my early Glorantha was a very different setting to what was being published. In my isolation from the commercial side of the rpg industry, I had completely gone down a differen path that the authors would of loved, or completely hated. I would like to think that the original creator Greg Stafford (deceased) is smiling down, chuckling to himself. I did share alot of his initial inspirations, but this train was completely off the tracks.

Overall my homebrew Glorantha turned out to be a bizarre cross between Ancient Greece meets Hyboria meets Lankhmar/Nehwon meets DUNE meets High Fantasy Europe. It all came together in an implausible crazy gonzo way that only 1970s/1980s adolescent Fantasy lovers could appreciate.

Eventually I became exposed to the real Glorantha canon, and the setting dramatically changed for me over the years. The timeline of the products was often about 5-10years earlier  than the RQ2 corebook timeline, and RQ3 firmly made the default date somewhere between that. The Lunar Empire still held the Sartar capital.  The Lunars became had become much more Roman-like, the Sartarites became very Celtic-like. That worked okay for well over a decade, but then didn't feel right for me. Something just started feeling a little too different to me, and I started wishing things had been more like I had envisioned in the early days.

I really didn't dig Glorantha again until the contemporary interpretation.

Glorantha has definately returned to an ancient world flavour, and I really love how it is portrayed these days. The Lunars being very Babylonian- Persian influenced, and the Sartarites feeling like Thracian-Hittiites works well for me, as does Esrolians feeling very Minoan. It certainly is very different from my original gonzo homebrew Glorantha, but it still feels like the mojo comes from the same place now.

However despite my appreciation of the current Glorantha, there is still a part of me that yearns for the loose Glorantha homebrew of my youth. It's almost like seeking out a tattered old pulp fantasy novel in second hand book stores, but never finding the one that first grabbed my attention.

It really only exists now in my mind, but yeah it was a fun place to play in  :grin:

Edited by Mankcam
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" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Thus far, most of the changes to my Glorantha v. canon Glorantha have been from off-hand comments at the table.

My current favorite is that Harrek can literally catch Sun Spears with his bare hands, and chuck them at people. No fancy-shmancy magic rituals or invocations or rites or spells. Just catch and toss, like a javelin or a grenade.

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14 minutes ago, Crel said:

My current favorite is that Harrek can literally catch Sun Spears with his bare hands, and chuck them at people. No fancy-shmancy magic rituals or invocations or rites or spells. Just catch and toss, like a javelin or a grenade.

That version of Harrek sounds pretty cool, he also just might make it into my current canon 😎

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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54 minutes ago, Mankcam said:

That version of Harrek sounds pretty cool, he also just might make it into my current canon 😎

I said it as an off-hand joke, while trying to OOC describe the Battle of Pennel Ford to my players, and they demanded it become canon. Which is pretty much par for the course in my game. I use "Rule of Cool" rather a bit more than I'm probably willing to admit.

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Before the Guide came out, I made a massive wiki with my own versions of things, including cheap handmade hex maps.  I've invested too much effort in it to ditch it.

Here's what I did to southeastern Genertla.

South Verenela (Fethlon Forest, Matkondu, and Teshnos)

My crude Hexmap

Once the three great peoples of this region lived in harmony (or so they all claim), human, Elephant Hsunchen, and Embyli Elf alike. (And the Mreli but they're fewer in number and always end up the little brother.) But everyone else fucked it up, no it's not OUR fault, and now the land is rapidly sliding towards war.

It doesn't help that everyone has conflicting versions of past history and that the God-Learners and Sheng Seleris both did great damage to the region's traditions, economy, and in some cases, landscape.

The Aldryami assert that they used their jungles to shelter the other two, protecting them from the Great Darkness, then formed a covenant with them to share the land, until the Elephant Hsunchen betrayed everyone to the God-Learners and Sheng Seleris and had to be taught their place and then the humans cut down half the jungle and now it's time for everyone to learn not to mess with the people who speak for the trees. The sacred flame has had enough of your ill behavior, it's no wonder it's removed its grace!

The Elephant Hsunchen assert the other two groups have always treated them badly, so frankly, they deserve to get sold out and this land rightly belongs to *them*. It was their strength which saved everyone during the Great Darkness and yet they were reduced to servitude to the other two groups. The sacred flame is nothing but a damn scam.

The Humans assert that when the Elves abandoned them to be conquered by first the God-Learners, then Sheng Seleris, they had to cut down more jungle or *starve* and where were you when we *needed* you? The Sacred Flame is all we need now! And it's only removed its grace from the rebels who reject the peace it brings. Like you bastards!

Pre-Sheng Seleris records are confusing and often contradictory. What remains are legends and each of the three groups has its own.

 

Aldryami Version of History

During the Great Darkness, we sheltered the Humans and Elephant Hsunchen in our jungle in return for their fealty and aid in fighting the monsters of the Great Darkness. We taught them to live in harmony with the jungle and our hero Chal found the Sacred Flame, known as Somash, and we learned to worship it; thus our plants had light and everyone could eat for the plants would grow. Then came Sekever, the Demon Emperor of the far northern land of black flame, who led an army of humans and trolls to conquer the land and eat everything. But Chal the Sage now forged weapons for the human warrior Bulthshasam, and his mighty steed, the Elephant Hsunchen Aruna. They battled the fearsome five-headed Sekever and cut off three of his heads, forcing him to flee. (Chal dazzled one of the heads with the light of truth, causing it to kill itself in despair for its sins. Bulthshasam set another head on fire with his ever-flaming spear. And Aruna trampled another head underfoot.) Sekever fled to Kralorela where Emperor Daruda cut off another head and ate it, becoming a dragon. Reduced to mortal status, Sekever was eaten by the trolls he could no longer control.

Bulthshasam became the First Vessel of Light, the sacred king of Lur Giap, a land which encompassed all three modern states and the islands south of it as well. Guided by the wise priests of Somash, he ruled justly and was followed by many sacred kings. But in time, the humans grew ambitious and the Elephant Hsunchen rejected their place in the great cycle of life and they fell into sin, wrecking the great wheel of fate. The result was conquest by the filthy God-Learners. They burned the priests of Somash in their own sacred flames and used it to cook meat! The filthy curse of meat-eating swept through the land, corrupting the Humans and Elephant Hsunchen further. Worse, even we, the holiest of peoples, fell into sin.

Our first efforts to defeat the God-Learners were a miserable failure; their magic was strong and their pacts with demons strengthened them. In our despair, we turned to Errinoru and listened to his message of trampling the God-Learners under the feet of Elvenkind through bloody force and worshiping angry gods. We built great cities in the jungle, raised armies, and prepared ourselves for war. No more did the God-Learners advance upon our lands. We united with the tribes of the great island to the East of us. All was ready finally and then...

The Closing cut us off from most of our eastern brethren, shrinking our numbers. The God-Learner's magics turned on them, destroying them. Worse, our forest began to die because our magics had become too much embued with darkness and wrath! Elves began to die and though we turned back to Somash, our cities crumbled and we fought a hideous civil war among ourselves.

The faithful won, but now Sheng Seleris swarmed down from the north, enslaving the Humans and the Elephant Hsunchen. We eventually helped them to win free, but centuries of God-Learner rule and then Sheng Seleris laid waste to the jungles of Teshnos and its traditions. The human priests of Somash have fallen into heresy and assert their primacy and the human ruler is nothing but a puppet for them. They distort the sacred teachings. And now the Elephant Hsunchen have revolted and taken over one of the remaining provinces (two of them drowned during the Fall of the God-Learners). They reject the Sacred Flame entirely! If we ever find the Flame Thief who stole the sacred flame of Somashtun, he will DIE, though by now he's probably dead. Stupid humans.

And our eastern brethren have fallen into heresy as well. It won't be easy but we will put this land back to the sacred way, or die trying!

 

A Human View of History

Once this was a land of peace, but during the Great Darkness, it became necessary for some men to arm themselves and fight. Chief among them was Bulthshasam the Mighty. He defeated the chief of the Elephant Hsunchen, Asuna, and together, they defeated the monsters devouring the tree people's trees. In gratitude, Chel, leader of the Elves, led his people to make deadly weapons for the noble warriors who defended everyone, then prayed to Somash, the Sacred Flame, and his servitor gods for victory. Led by Bulthshasam the Mighty, the noble warriors rode their elephant servants to victory, armed with the flame weapons empowered by the prayers of the Elves.

Then came the eight headed Sekever, who possessed one head for each of the eight directions. From the frozen north, he lead an army of darkness to conquer everything, commanding vast legions of the Men of Darkness, for this was the Great Darkness, when In their first battle, Bulthasam, armed with his flaming spear, slew three of the heads, and the very world changed; now only five directions exist. Sekever was no longer a greater god though his power was still vast.

He came a second time and now Asuna pinned him down and Chal blocked his darkness with light, so Bulthshasam could see him. One by one, he slew the heads until only two remained and the army broken and fled, and Sekever was eaten. From what I understand, as he retreated through Kralorela, he was eaten by a dragon named Daruda, who eventually declared himself Emperor of Kralorela.

But frankly, Kralorela was a pathetic shadow of the glory of Lur Giap, the kingdom founded by Bulthshasam. Somash himself declared Bulthshasam a god, his child on Earth and he became the First Vessel of Light, ruling in glory for many decades. A series of good and holy kings now reigned over the kingdom but nothing good lasts forever. With time, some of the sacred teachings were forgotten and the Elves got delusions of grandeur and began thinking they were more important than the Kings. They quarreled and when the God-Learners came, the Elves abandoned us and the Elephant Hsunchen sold us out to the God-Learners, who promised them power. Doubly betrayed, centuries passed in which we were enslaved by the God-Learners, becoming the mere peasants of the poor province of Eest, while the Elves fled into their jungle.

But we persevered and stole some of their secrets to turn against them, and when the Closing came, we rose and slaughtered the God-Learners. We prayed and Somash guided us to find our way to him and we created a new kingdom, forcing the Elephant Hsunchen to understand their true place in the universe: those who fail in their study of the holy way in life are reborn to serve the faithful as half-man, half-animal creatures, the various kinds of Hsunchen. Those who serve well will return to full humanity in later lives.

Unfortunately, the new nation of Paran Nai was then invaded by the filthy, but unstoppable evil of Sheng Seleris. He fed the Vessel of Light to a demon and ruled the land for long, bloody years. But after he died in 1460 at the hands of the Lunars in the battle of Kitor, there was a rebellion; as it raged, some filthy thief stole the Sacred Flame from the grand temple of Somashtun; all the lesser flames in the province went out! The result was a revolt of the Elephant Hsunchen, who seized control of Matkondu. And who remain restless everywhere else. Because of the damnable Thief of Flames, the power of Somash fails there now; the name of its capital is but a mockery of the god, retained by the Elephant Hsunchen solely to emphasize their BLASPHEMY.

Further, the uppity Elves are now trying to force us to reforest vast tracks of our homeland and to reclaim their old role as the priests of Somash. Given they abandoned us to the God-Learners and Somash chose us as his true faithful, we're not foolish enough to invite them in. And their policy would force everyone to starve. The First Damas may be spiritual cripples but they will never overcome that if they are born, starve to death and then are reborn.

The Elves and the Elephant Hsunchen are going to have to learn their place.

Under us.

 

The Elephant Hsunchen View of the Past

Long ago, there was a golden age in which man and animal lived together. But the storm gods and the sky gods warred with each other, plunging the land into darkness when the Sun went out. The war was caused by the inevitable corruption of power; the Sun ruled unchecked, never leaving the sky, never allowing the other elements to have a place in the world. So they revolted and slew the Sun. But this didn't help for now darkness took over and rampaged unchecked. A group of men and a group of elephants both fled the darkness to a hidden valley in the southern ShanShan? mountains. They defeated the Great Serpent, and forced him to serve them and to give them their secrets. He taught them how to shed their skin and change into something else. Some of the Elephants now became Men and some of the Men, Elephants. Thus they became one people, us, who outsiders call the Elephant Hsunchen. But we call ourselves Goondas, the children of Wise Elephant, who never forgets.

Unfortunately, Wise Elephant was eventually eaten by Cousin Tiger and though we escaped, we knew we could not survive without help. In the darkness, the plants were dying. We knew of a place of light but not how to dwell near it safely, for here the fire of the sun had fallen to earth and burned wild and unchecked. But Chief Asuna was wise; he brought together the Elven wise man Chal who knew magic and the strong human leader Bulthshasam by convincing each of them he was in charge; thus two men too proud to bow to another could be made to serve the common cause.

Together, they braved the Great Fire and transformed it into the God Somash, who would protect the people during the Great Darkness by making the crops grow in return for sacrifices. Together they defeated the Children of Darkness, led by the horrible ten-headed demon god Sekever, who had ten bodies but one soul. Asuna tricked two of his heads into fearing the other plotted against him and they killed each other. But that trick could only work once.

Then he used the secret of skin-shedding and took the place of one of the missing heads. He quietly poisoned their food, so when they confronted Asuna, Bulthshasam and Chel, Bulthshasam easily slew three of them and the rest fled, now growing much weaker. But that trick could only work once.

Now that they were weak, Chal called upon Somash's power to blind the remaining heads; it is meet that we give him his due glory, for favors must be returned and all must know to credit the giver. Without it, Asuna would have been slain when they set upon him all at once, and Bulthshasam as well. Asuna now trampled one of the heads and Chal burned one to death and Bulthshasam slew the third with his mighty spear, empowered by Chal's prayers.

Two heads remained but they could not come to consensus without another head to break the tie, and so they fled; one of them tried to fight a dragon and was eaten; the other was devoured by the Children of Darkness when his now faded power could not sate their hunger.

And thus to all tyrants.

Bulthshasam and Chal were wise and had a strong bond with Asuna, but their descendents soon forgot this land was built and Somash tamed by all three peoples. They jockeyed for power and only agreed on one thing: our ancestors were fit only to serve them. And it must be said, they succeeded in having their way for centuries. All the glories of Lur Giap were based on OUR labor. Our blood, our tears, while they lounged around in palaces and wrote poems and drank wine. We worked, and we watched and we learned.

And when the God Learners came, we tore down their temples and trampled the degenerate lines of priests and kings under our mighty feet, for we are the children of Wise Elephant, who NEVER FORGETS.

But the God-Learners betrayed us in turn, locking us in human form or elephant form and forcing us to serve, for no one could be their equals. They stole our legends, stole our secrets, stole our magic and used it for their own purposes. They used us as slaves. But they forgot something.

Everything we see, Wise Elephant sees. He will never forget it and whispers it to us when we need it. It's amazing how much people will say in front of their slaves who they think are forever under their thumb. Even with him chained to their Great Wheel, he knew it all, saw it all, remembered it all.

And he waited, for Elephants are patient. They live as long as men and Wise Elephant lives forever.

The appointed day came and he struck, destroying the Great Wheel. Two entire provinces fell into the sea, destroyed as the works of the God-Learners collapsed and the sea's children claimed them for themselves. And his Children rose up and so did the humans and the Elves and the God-Learners fled and the sea turned against them and the land was cleansed.

But the humans had stolen secrets of the God-Learners too and used them to enslave us once more. Ironically, it was the coming of a child of Darkness, descended from the heads of Sekever, who brought us freedom; Sheng Seleris, the great demon of the north came and conquered this land. He slaughtered our enemies but he also enslaved us himself.

But all things end in time and he overreached and the Red Goddess destroyed him at the Battle of Kitor.

Wise Elephant was ready. His prayers brought us our savior, the Flame Thief, whose name is a secret but who stole the Sacred Flame of the northern province, setting us free. And now we have kept our freedom, for we know how to turn back the power of gods, for we know that all the gods are false, liars who steal the power of men and spirits. Wise Elephant has seen the End of All Things and brought back the wisdom he found there and shared it with us.

We know what he knows and he knows what we know.

And what we know is that the gods must die if we are ever to be free.

And Somash, the god we foolishly made, will be first.

But not last.

And then we will be free.

 

The Peoples of Southern Verenela

  • Aldryami: Embyli (Jungle) and Brown (Deciduous) elves are found here, though a lot of Red Elves lurk around the jungle; most, in fact, are Embyli, who outnumber the Brown Elves eight to one. They have come to heavily deviate from normal Elven religion, as will be described later. Some show a few human traits but try to deny any connection.
  • Babadi: They are Clay Mostali, yet unlike normal Mostali, they worship Somash, reproduce like humans, and are typically initiates of lesser gods and goddesses of the pantheon. They craft the prayer wheels and other holy artifacts for the higher priests. They also usually lead the construction of any building, road, or mine. Normal dwarves tend to find them utterly repugnant; they view normal dwarves with great pity. They are not immortal but they are long-lived.
  • Kvitti (Elephant Hsunchen): They are divided into savannah and forest clans; the savannah clans are smaller and more endurant; in human form they are only four feet tall, though as strong as a full sized human, with an intermediate complexion and wavy hair. The forest clans are taller and stronger in both human and elephant form; their human forms are dark skinned with tighly coiled hair, though they often shave their heads. In both forms, they are very perceptive and have strong memories. Kvitti have little magic in the human and elven lands but are animists and sorcerors in Matkondu. In Teshnos, they are often called 'Goondas' as an insult.
  • Humans: Dark, straight hair and intermediate in complexion, they generally worship Somash and are otherwise normal humans. Some show an Elven feature or two, but will try to deny any connection.

Fethlon Forest

  • Population: Roughly 400,000 Embryli, 100,000 Slorifing, and 80,000 Mreli. 60,000 Elephant Hsunchen serve the others.

The Fethlon Forest Elves are mostly Embyli, dwelling in a mix of deciduous forest and jungle which spends Sea and Storm season in nigh-perpetual rain. The lowlands flood frequently and hang off a spine of thickly forested hills where most of the Mreli dwell. Hordes of Red Elves (Slorifings) also live here, used as troops in war by the Yellow Elves.

They are devout worshipers of Somash, though their version of his worship has gone down different roads than that of the humans. They follow the Yellow Lotus Sutra of Chel, a document written by his disciples and lost until the Hate Blight nearly killed them all back during the Fall of the God-Learners. The modern worship of Somash among the Elves emerged at that time after a long period of heresy and embracing the message of Errinoru. The Closing also cut off the eastern Embryli of Spear Island, who reverted to barbarism and now live simple, primitive lives worshiping Aldrya and Flamal.

The Yellow Lotus Sutra teaches that the role of Elves is to pray, of humans to fight and to make crafts and of Elephant Hsunchen to labor to assist the others. (Red Elves also exist for fighting and are an intermediary stage between true elves and humans.) This reflects their relative spiritual capacities. All three must live in harmony with the forest, which will then facilitate the survival of all three through its bounty. Somash will bring his bliss to all if they obey him.

The Fethlon elves mix theism, mysticism and a little bit of sorcery derived from the Yellow Lotus Sutra and commentaries on it. They STRICTLY reject animism as derived from demons.

It is a serious problem that the humans of Teshnos are massively overpopulated which will make a movement back to proper harmony rather difficult. (It is a serious problem that the Elves are pushing the limits of what the jungle can support too.)

The Elves of Fethlon have a firesense in addition to a lifesense, able to commune with and through fire and sense it; they keep sacred fires of Somash burning around the jungle, holy trees which burn with Somash's non-consuming flame. These trees radiate the peace of Somash as do the sacred fires in Teshnos. These fires also store knowledge for the Elves. Instead of having books, they write their knowledge into the fire, then any priest can access it by staring into the sacred flame.

Five High Priests, one for each of the five most Sacred Trees govern the land, meeting in council at the holiest of the trees, which is defended by the fortress of Errinstala. They are currently deadlocked on what to do about Teshnos and Matkondu being consumed by heresy; two are known to support an invasion, two call for missionary work and one argues in favor of invading Kralorela to plant more trees before the population begins to starve.

  • Errinstala (30,000): This magnificent city is built out of wood and large parts of it are actually alive; a massive tree, 200 feet tall and on fire, rises from the central temple without immolating the rest of the pentagonal city. Elephant Hsunchen constantly work to tend the plants and keep the city alive; it sits on a bluff overlooking the Hakala River. It is the one place in the country with Inns; there are a dozen, catering to those who come here to trade. The river is navigable to the sea and there is a small artificial lake which they can park their boats in. (A lock system is used to get people over the dam south of the city.) It is an especially good place to come to for woodworking, spices, or rare woods. There are rumors of secret gold trade with Ban Mi but surely the priests would not stoop to smuggling!

Matkondu

  • Population: 97,740

Matkondu is ruled by a council of clan elders, who elect a chief to lead the nation; there are thirteen clans, a mix of Babadi, Kivitti, and Humans, though two-thirds of the population is Goonda now. The humans are dwindling as intermarriage produces Goonda children. Chief Asuna is named after the legendary hero, though it is yet to be seen if he will live up to the name.

The Matkondu are animists, practicing shamanism mixed with sorcery; they are strict enemies of the gods, especially Somash. They are more or less stalemated with regard to Teshnos; the powers of Somash fail in Matkondu but they are too few to invade and overthrow it. Some talk of an alliance with the Pentans but many consider that like dealing with rats in your house by inviting in a tiger to eat them.

Statues of the Flame Thief, the hero who stole the Master Flame of Somashtun, are everywhere, though no one knows his real appearance, so he is depicted as a masked elephant trampling a fire with his feet.

Humans are second-class citizens here, not hugely oppressed but basically stuck doing the scut-work; they are gradually dwindling as the ambitious marry into Goonda families and have Goonda children.

  • Somashtun (20,000): Called Hallicutar by the natives, this city was originally a very holy city of Somash. But now it serves Wise Elephant and is the seat of power in Matkondu. There are several schools of sorcery and many shrines to the spirits; it's also a major trade center for mahogany and ivory and spices; the city flows with rice wine and barley bread. At the center is a burnt out ruins, the old temple of Somash; the brazier, essentially indestructable and made of jade, rises in the center of the ruins; there is no hint of the green flame which once burned here. (The five master flames were said to be connected to Beast, Man, Mineral, Plant, and Soul respectively. This was the Plant flame.)

Teshnos

  • Population: 555,756
    • Babadi: 85,250
    • Kivitti: 190,002
    • Humans: 280,504

This holy land is ruled by the Vessel of Light; a group of ten holy souls are periodically reincarnated and the priests of Somash find the one destined to rule and install him at his palace of Lur Nop, where he will rule in splendour for the rest of his life, leading holy rites and communing with Somash about cosmic affairs. While he battles our enemies on the higher planes, the priests use the prayer wheels built by his holy servants, the Babadi, to divine his will in mundane affairs. They do likewise for the other Nobles as well.

The holy teachings of the first Vessel of Light are revered by all and they divide men into four Damas, stages of spiritual enlightenment. The first Dama is the Dirt Dama, made up of people who wallow in the mud of physicality: prostitutes, farmers, craftsmen, and the like. They live simple lives and must strive to overcome addiction to earthly pleasures if they are to be reborn in the second Dama. This is done by minimizing their contact with such pleasures, as they are not ready to face and overcome pleasure head on as third Damas do. They labor to support the more enlightened, knowing one day, other souls will support them in turn, if they do their duties and move on. It may take many lives but eventually, everyone moves to the second Dama.

The Second Dama is the Water Dama; purified by many lives of dedicated labor, the priests of Somash and the other gods interpret the will of those within the Third Dama and govern the people in their name. They will labor for many lives until they are rewarded by reincarnation into the third Dama. It is the duty of the Water Dama also to determine who people's past lives were so they can be moved to their proper place in society, whenever something goes wrong and people are reincarnated into the wrong station or place.

The Third Dama is the Air Dama; they rise above the filthy land and the cleansing waters, living in the great sky palaces and both enjoying the reward for many lives of hard work AND struggling to transcend attachment to it. Those who cannot overcome this attachment or who turn their minds to earthly things soon mire themselves in the physical and will never transcend the mortal clay. Further, they constantly work against Darkness in the higher planes. Eventually, purified of attachment, they ascend to the Fourth Dama.

The Fourth Dama are few in number; they are the ones who stand on the threshold to guide others through; the Zitars know what was, what is and what will be and guide us all towards the flame of Somash. They are the Fire Dama and they are reborn over and over until they can no longer remain and go to dwell forever with Somash in mystical unity with him. One day, all will return to the holy fire of Somash and the world will again be one as it was in the beginning.

Rumors of a fifth Dama of Darkness are blasphemy; Darkness is but another name for Chaos and it must be destroyed.

All faithful Somashti have access to common magic and practice some degree of mysticism; higher degrees mix theistic initiation and mystical enlightenment. They STRICTLY reject animism as derived from demons.

Teshnos is divided into five provinces, even if one of them has been in rebellion for a fifth time; perhaps it was fate; they have chosen the path of darkness and will be destroyed. When Somash tells us to strike. Each is headed by a Vessel of Joy, one of the leading nobles; other nobles tend to the lesser cities and the priests interpret their will while they deal with higher issues.

Every province has a Master Flame at the central temple and lesser flames it feeds; these radiate the joy of Somash, which lightens all the burdens of mortal life and is a shadow of the bliss towards which ascended souls aspire. The faithful gather once a week on Godsday to pray at the temples and meditate; it is a day of fasting and abstension from material pleasures to help speed one's reincarnation.

 

  • Ban Mi (15,000): This city is crucial but small; this is not meant as a slight against the hard working Babadi who labor here to extract sacred metal for use across the land. But there is only so much room in the mines and the Elephant Hsunchen who assist them take up a lot of space and so the city is not as big as you would think. They ship the gold down the river to Dan Chang, from which it passes to all the provinces and of course to Lur Nop itself. Every so often, they need help when they find pockets of darkness which were imprisoned by the sacred metal, and then we must, of course, aid them promptly. Let none fear for light always banishes darkness!
  • Dan Chang (40,000): It is rumored that in this city, the sacred metal, gold, is degraded by being used to trade with foreigners, so the priests of the city wish to assure you in the name of the Vessel of Wisdom that this is a lie and that it is only that many foreigners are afraid to approach too closely to the Vessel of Light, knowing he can burn with the holy wrath of Somash as well as shine with his mercy; they are ignorant foreigners and we must forgive them their fear; karma will punish them. Certainly, the shipments from Ban Mi are in line with tradition, down to the exact ounce, neither more nor less. So perhaps we should forget such scurrilous rumors.
  • Dan Kung (13,000): This city's main job is to coordinate the defense of the border and handle a certain amount of trade with the freakish creatures who destroyed two entire provinces and now call the area 'Hallas'. Unfortunately, they control the waters and access to certain sunken sacred sites which we must visit for certain rituals, so appeasement must be made even if these things are further down the chain of being than Elephant Hsunchen by many rungs. Especially the twisted men. And their women GO NAKED. Filthy whores. Bestiality-loving whores. How is a priest supposed to concentrate knowing these watery tarts are lurking off the coast and might appear at any time? How, I ask you? Now I must go dunk my head even if it reminds me of the sea.
  • Hon Buri (18,000): In a perfect world, there would be more gold, the sacred metal, enough for all weapons and armor and sacred items and sacrifices and medicines. But there isn't, so we mine bronze in the hills here and the people of Hon Buri and Lo Won live miserable lives of breathing smoke and hunching over forges in order to process it. Their sacrifice is worth as many as TEN lifetimes of a farmer. We know this because in 1567, on the verge of his ascension, Zitar Kian Go gave a final sermon in which he laid down this principle. Now, far more people apply to move here than we can even employ! It's a great honor to catch the attention of one about to Ascend! And being a priest here counts double; we are spared the worst suffering but *is* harder than other places, not that we are proud of it, since that is a sin. We are merely honored by it.
  • Lur Nop (90,000): This huge city is the heart of Teshnos, the very jewel of Genertla, the greatest of its cities, or so the priests say. Here the Vessel of Light, Pubnashap, the Vessel of Light and scion of the Chalite Dynasty, dwells in his great sky palace, the highest of them all, and does battle with Darkness in our name. So long as he remains faithful, the Darkness cannot enter into our land. Here burns the Master Flame of Somos, the largest of them all, fed by the constant prayers of the Water Dama and by two of the Fire Dama and by the prayers of everyone else and the great prayer wheels of the Babadi. A great city of marble and granite and wood sprawls under it, providing homes like an onion for the damas, the highest under the sky palace and the lowest of the low at the outskirts. Great Trade Vessels dock here, some of them having come all the way from Loksalm and Arolanit or even beyond the Isles of the Red Men! For the light of truth and hope draws all men to it. One day, the fire of Somash will burn in every city and on that day, the last age will begin. The age of glorious return to the golden age!

 

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Wow, that is very impressive!  Easy to see lots of effort went into building your homebrew.

Love it!!!  😎

Edited by Mankcam

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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