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Manirian Scratchpad II: The Pralori Elk Hsunchen


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My previous Manirian Scratchpad thread focused primarily on the Trader Princes, especially their potential Malkioni influences.  This thread will be about the Pralori, the Elk Hsunchen that mark the boundary between Ralios and Maniria.  This first post is going to basically be a "lit review" where I summarize what I know or can find about the Pralori in Glorantha products.  While interpretation is inevitable, the amount of extrapolation in this post will be minimal.  Commentary beyond pure attempts at summary will be italicized.

 

Here is what I know from the Guide to Glorantha and Blood Over Gold.  Is there anything else from Glorantha I should make sure I read / know.  I don't pretend to have a comprehensive uderstanding of the Hsunchen.

 

The Guide to Glorantha (I am treating this as the hard parameters to work within)

  • General Hsunchen Culture Chapter
    • All Hsunchen are hunter gatherers
    • Many Hsunchen believe they were once animals or have animal souls
      • A core shamanic responsibility is help people reconnect with that spiritual heritage
    • Hsunchen have no hereditary status; at least in principle, one's success in life is about their personal actions.
    • Matrilineal extended family networks are the primary form of social structure
      • Social structure mirrors their animal 
    • Law has not been formalized
    • Raiding is common, full scale war is very rare.
    • Religion focuses on great spirits, local spirits ,and ancestor spirits
  • Maniria Chapter
    • The Pralori conquered the Entruli that survived the sea's sinking of The Sweet City
      • I THINK this occurred before the Dawn?
    • The Vathmai / Theyalans "liberated" the Entruli in 115.
    • They sell their services as elite cavalry to the Trader Princes
    • During the Second Age, they ruled Gualal and they were allied with the Lopers
    • They are viewed as proud, arrogant, vicious, and fearsome.  Both their warriors and shamans have a reputation for being powerful.
      • This chapter tends to frame the Pralori as villains.
    • The Pralori collect a toll from the Trader Princes at Highwater, and Highwater is the primary place to find & hire Pralori mercenaries
    • The Pralori have grown wealthy off caravan tolls
    • While they are nomadic hunter-gatherers, they use bronze and other goods from "civilized" societies much more than most Hsunchen.
    • A Praloran Serpent Dancer (Shaman?) kidnapped Castelein's half-elven daughter, who was then rescued by Stephon.
      • The motivations here will be fun to unpack
    • The (human) Pralori ride their elk
  • Other Chapters
    • Time chapter
      • Maps suggest Aldryami controlled what is now Pralorela at the Dawn, with the Pralori being in control of what is now Ryzel and sunken lands.
      • There was a brief period of time where the Middle Sea Empire controlled Pralorela, creating a continuous overland route from Ralios to Maniria within the GL Empire.
    • Ralios Chapter
      • Pralori are confused with the Alekki Moos People, Cuz Big Mammals with Antlers?
      • Pralori are less secretive than most Hsunchen

 

 

Blood Over Gold (potentially useful non-canon)

  • Pralorela also has a Damali Deer People population 
  • Elk totems among Wenelians suggest virility, dignity, and sensing danger
  • Their shamanic tradition comes from Desdoval Antlerman
  • Rites of passage involve awakening the Elk within, and symbolically integrating hunter and pray into the one, human Pralori
    • I have NO idea: Is the hunter-hunted unification a common trope among other Hsunchen?
  • Pralori can become elk.
  • The unit is the herd
    • gender egalitarian, until there's a formal meeting, and then the dominant male stag has final say
    • Each herd has a bachelor herd of unmarried, young, male warriors
      • Goal: win acceptance into the herd proper, or capture enough women to start their own herd
      • Pralori mercenaries and bandits are usually bachelors
    • Each herd has its own territory
    • Pralori wander well beyond Pralorela
  • Saint Caselein originally set out across Maniria to acquire a "Falangian Diamond" as a ritual tribute to "The Iron Elk."
    • This doesn't really make sense given what is in the Guide regarding Castelein and the Pralori
  • The Pralori supported Palangio / The Bright Empire / Nysalor / Gbaji
  • Bastis is presented as being allied to the Pralori
  • The Pralori conquered the Entrulings during the Silver Age
  • Castelein was a master of ritual gifting / trade, and this is how he got through Pralorela
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Pralor is written up in the Cults Book as an exemple Hsunchen cult (along with Basmol, Mralota, Telmor, and Rathor). I have a LOT of material on Pralorela. Here's the Third Age history of the area:

GEOGRAPHY Pralorela is the region in western Maniria drained by the Noshain River and its tributaries. It is bounded in the north by the Elk Hills, the east by the land of Wenelia and the Mournse

My previous Manirian Scratchpad thread focused primarily on the Trader Princes, especially their potential Malkioni influences.  This thread will be about the Pralori, the Elk Hsunchen that mark the b

Posted Images

Some preliminary comments and reactions to this.  I am not wedded to any of this, and I may change my mind.  Or not.  Who knows? :) 

  • On the Maniria-scale, they're friggin' badasses.
    • The Pralori are distinctive.  A nation of militarily dominant Hsunchen to maintain control of their homeland for all time is pretty distinctive.  Additionally, they remained Hsunchen, rather than, say, the Basmol clan of Basim who became merely human theistically worshipping the lion god.  At the same time, they impose a toll on caravans and send out their warriors as mercenaries to all the Trader Princes. 
    • I almost want to use the term "vendref" to talk about how the Pralori view the Trader Princes.  The Pralori maintain their pure relationships with the spirits of Elk and Wood, but also happily take a lot of metal and other objects from the caravans as a toll.  It sort of is like getting to have your cake and eat it too.
  • Nysalor?
    • I really like the idea of the Pralorela being allied with the Palangio and the Bright Empire.  I know Nysalor blessed the Telmori, so I could imagine another Hsunchen group siding with him.  The fact they would be siding with him against the Entruli, the Herolali, and the heirs to the Theyalans who pushed the Pralori back into the Greatwood.
    • This probably feeds into continuing tension between the Pralori and the surrounding societies, which they view as just so many #$%ing Arkati.
      • The fact that Castelein was able to set up a ritual agreement is just that much more important since.
  • Allied with the Lopers?
    • The time between the defense of Kaxtorplose and the rise of Slontos must have been a crazy time for Western Maniria. 
  • 1050 was a very good year
    • The Pralori were likely not happy when the Middle Sea Empire conquered their lands, and it likely would not been fully pacified when the Flood hit Slontos.  At that point, however, I fully imagine the Pralori roared back.
  • Elf-Friends?
    • I am assuming that for much of history, the Pralori were on relatively good terms with the Elves.  Pralorela was within Elven woods until the Middle Sea Empire connected Ralios to Maniria.  I'm assuming a lot of stuff got clear-cut, and after the Flood, the Elk came back quicker than the Aldryami did.
    • I suspect that the majority of Pralori will be fully in support of the Reforestation.  A small minority, however, will like having metal and other trade goods given to them by the Only Two Legged Humans.  

 

 

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Also, this thread isn't about Ralios, but I fully expect that as the Trader Princes run out of money and Safelster fills up with Arkats, we're going to see Pralori mercenaries helping some Safelstran city states.

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I like it. They suffer from the "between the maps" problem (always on someone's periphery, rarely the center of anyone's world) so it's nice to see them in themselves. Likewise, there's a substantial gap between the Dawn Age documentation and the terminal third age. They could have risen and fallen multiple times in between . . . just like anyone else.

For example, the Second Age Slontos text preserves the memory of a Pralorite urban culture (pre-800c) that vanishes by the period described in Middle Sea Geography over in Middle Sea Empire (probably Old Dukes, New Lands period, 900-920c), at which point they are once again "wandering deer people" of the "untamable wilds" and probably associated with the Arstola pagan preserve ("many semi-civilized tribes"). They might have even played a living museum role for the dangerously sophisticated archducal court. After 1050, of course, the region returns to barbarism (this time post-apocalyptic) that only starts receding again in the mid-to-late 12th century. By then, Castelain encounters Serpent Dancers. 

At the early end of the second age, this part of the world was known in the West for its "dragon influences," interesting in light of "serpent" beasts and "serpent" dancers. After all, Ryzel has had its own Inhuman King for ages. Since Pralorite "sorcerers" (somewhat tragic word in light of Western chauvinism as well as the game lexicon, I would just say "magicians" or even "warlocks") are the only surviving Serpent Beasts and some Pralorites allied with the Loper People, there might be dragon / blue moon interactions here waiting for the Hero Wars to unleash.

The ultimate provenance of Ryzel may actually be a Ralian SCENE MISSING/FILE NOT FOUND city of Hermat, forbidden to humans, is described in some archaic sources as an ancient "Pralori" center and Gualal no longer survives even as a tidal ruin (despite BOG . . . maybe it was deliberately sunk recently?).  Surviving Arkat propaganda probably depicts the Beasts in an extremely unfavorable light but SCENE MISSING/FILE NOT FOUND Pralorite mysticism within the Ancient Beasts Societies. Of course the "civilized" elk people lived closer to civilization and were wiped out in the shudders, leaving only the most unassimilable badass families in the depths of the forest to rebuild.

I like the elf stuff a lot. Two images come to mind:

220px-Pintura_Trois_Freres.jpg.9457c1a0cbcb09eecf907734af35a07f.jpgForest_Spirit_(2).jpg.141939b8119f7923efddfec99536dcab.jpg

TLDR horned man is horny

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2 hours ago, Nevermet said:

 

  • Elf-Friends?
    • I am assuming that for much of history, the Pralori were on relatively good terms with the Elves.

I had some of this is in my own Maniria -- a couple of points :

There are both brown elves in the hills and valleys and green elves in the upper highlands and mountains, and they need to be treated as different rather than just as "Aldryami", because even though they are deeply allied, their attitudes towards non-aldryami will vary considerably (including because there are very few non-aldryami up in the green elf mountains). The Pig folk themselves are of course happier in the deciduous woods rather than either down in the more agricultural lowlands or the green forest highlands, even though some will also be present in both of those, as their swine can also live outside of the oak woods.

Second, the backwoods Helering priesthood provides a degree of synergy with the aldryami and their magic, with a possibility that there may even be some elven members of the Heler cult locally. The aldryami do anyway give their worship to Heler for his rains, and have known him since the Flood, and bless him for his Life-giving rains. I don't know if Heler has an aldryami shape of some sort from this, or that of a forest animal (squirrel ? flying squirrel ?) -- he does have a local lion form, but that one roams away from all these people rather than among them, and is rather feared and propitiated by the Hsunchen, than worshiped.

Good stuff from Nick Brooke in the other thread BTW, he came to many of he same conclusions as I did during my own Manirian game -- though I did stay well away from the coastal/lowland/Trader Princes stuff, temporarily at start but that turned out to be permanent from how that game turned out.

 

Edited by Julian Lord
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13 hours ago, Julian Lord said:

the backwoods Helering priesthood

This is great. I'm told that the Voriof mysteries are relatively well attested in this part of the world so this would be the place to see the surviving blueface sheep breeds. 

I'm also told these are the kind of elves who know Arroin as a wet god so maybe there's some deep kinship there with your brisk and leaping god waiting in the cool green.

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1 hour ago, scott-martin said:

This is great. I'm told that the Voriof mysteries are relatively well attested in this part of the world

I'm also told these are the kind of elves who know Arroin as a wet god so maybe there's some deep kinship there with your brisk and leaping god waiting in the cool green.

Voriof is a Sartari Cult, and its association with Heler is an (unignorable) accident -- having said that, eastwards towards Esrolia it is a common cult for Manirian rural male youth. (not a husband god from an Esrolian perspective, nor brother,  but rather a son god)

Arroin has little to do with Heler, apart from Arroin having survived with his life through the Greater Darkness and the Dawn ; and Heler having almost succeeded in doing the same.

They are comrades-in-arms against Universal destruction, not cognates. Arroin is an alchemist and a healer ; Heler is a source of life, but also a warrior. Their relationship is purely professional.

Edited by Julian Lord
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8 minutes ago, Julian Lord said:

They are comrades-in-arms against Universal destruction, not cognates. Arroin is an alchemist and a healer ; Heler is a source of life, but also a warrior. Their relationship is purely professional.

Just quoting what I'm told. Wet gods only know each other from the office?

 

arroin.png

Edited by scott-martin
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Sure, but Arroin is more Earth than Water.

This is deep stuff.

Arroin is a parthenogenetic child of Chalana, but from the Fertility that she gifted to the emergent Earth and the deep dark Sea in his conception, these two both imagine that he is theirs.

His Primary Rune is Life ; but he is a very early Green Age entity, and so he is wet rather than dry.

If he is a child of Heler, then he's an illegitimate one, even with Life herself, Chalana. Heler is old enough to remember the Age without Earth.

But I would from that quote say this : Arroin is I think a rare (very late) Blue Age Entity not made of only Blue or Black, but also of the invasion of corporal earthern "stuff" into the fluid vagueness of that maelstrom.

Edited by Julian Lord
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I think we are talking in different registers and I at least am seeing constraints that aren't there, which is the waters' prerogative and delight. The "NO" of water is an interesting thing as you know. Elves being hydraulic systems see what they see.

What's funny is looking again at the more explicitly Heleric strata of this particular document reveals a deep pun I'd never gotten before, S(s)horga = Shorga(s), the blue dragon and the red planet, antagonistic parents of the brisk and leaping god.

Ditto Vorio(f) in his way, his sister being who she is.

 

Edited by scott-martin
accidental strikeout macro! and while we're here, more etiquette
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16 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Likewise, there's a substantial gap between the Dawn Age documentation and the terminal third age. They could have risen and fallen multiple times in between . . . just like anyone else.

I am shocked, SHOCKED that you're suggesting there are large gaps in the timeline of Maniria where important events must have happened!!! ;) 

But yeah, the Pralori have had their ups and downs over the last 1600 years, but like everyone else.  At the moment, I'm kind of assuming their power rose during periods that are often considered dark ages. (Before the Theyalans, the Gbaji Wars, after the Flood, etc).  Also, the 3 or 4 centuries between the the Gbaji Wars and the Archduchy of Slontos must have been a wild, violent time in Maniria.  Pralori, Lopers, small warring clans...

 

16 hours ago, scott-martin said:

For example, the Second Age Slontos text preserves the memory of a Pralorite urban culture (pre-800c) that vanishes by the period described in Middle Sea Geography over in Middle Sea Empire (probably Old Dukes, New Lands period, 900-920c), at which point they are once again "wandering deer people" of the "untamable wilds" and probably associated with the Arstola pagan preserve ("many semi-civilized tribes"). They might have even played a living museum role for the dangerously sophisticated archducal court. After 1050, of course, the region returns to barbarism (this time post-apocalyptic) that only starts receding again in the mid-to-late 12th century. By then, Castelain encounters Serpent Dancers. 

I like the idea of the living museum idea, as it helps reinforce the horrible excesses of the Godlearners.

The idea of "urbanized" Pralori is interesting.  There's probably 2 kinds.  In the first case, you have Pralori who stop being nomadic after they take over and likely stop being Hsunchen, which would be similar to what happened to the Basmoli in Basim, or the Mraloti who (I think?) became Harandings.  The other option is they they create a "Vendref" model where they remain nomadic Hsunchen, but have a stable tribute relationship.

16 hours ago, scott-martin said:

At the early end of the second age, this part of the world was known in the West for its "dragon influences," interesting in light of "serpent" beasts and "serpent" dancers. After all, Ryzel has had its own Inhuman King for ages. Since Pralorite "sorcerers" (somewhat tragic word in light of Western chauvinism as well as the game lexicon, I would just say "magicians" or even "warlocks") are the only surviving Serpent Beasts and some Pralorites allied with the Loper People, there might be dragon / blue moon interactions here waiting for the Hero Wars to unleash.

The idea of the Dragonewts and the Pralori getting along is a fascinating idea.  Also, the idea of uniting predator and prey in 1 body (BoG language about Pralori religion) sounds awfully close to a Nysaloran riddle.

And perhaps Jubal was another "Urban Pralori" center, and that is why they were able to develop a trade relationship with Ryzel to get the best red dye in the world (tm).

And yeah... the blue moon is gonna have some odd influences in Maniria through the Hero Wars... not exactly sure what yet :D 

 

 

Will post more later... love the Heler stuff.

Edited by Nevermet
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Also, I didn't start my Manirian Scratchpads with Heler because while they are extremely important, they plug into the deep mythologies real quick.  Compared to that, trying to make sense of Elk riders or a bunch of merchants hiding in walled villages is easy ;) 

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16 hours ago, Julian Lord said:

There are both brown elves in the hills and valleys and green elves in the upper highlands and mountains, and they need to be treated as different rather than just as "Aldryami", because even though they are deeply allied, their attitudes towards non-aldryami will vary considerably (including because there are very few non-aldryami up in the green elf mountains).

Where is the best place to read up on the Aldryami these days?

 

Regarding Heler, I think that Heler is more or less a big presence for everyone in Maniria, the only question is how.  I'm sure the Arstola Aldryami know them, as do the Ditali, the Caratan, etc.

How do the Pralori know Heler?  My guess is they view Heler with a degree of suspicion, even if he's not an enemy god.  First he helped the flood, then the thunderer..... yes, water is life, but driving rains can cause floods too.  So, he's a powerful god, worthy of respect and possibly propitiation, but he's not really on their "side."  

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7 minutes ago, Nevermet said:

So, he's a powerful god, worthy of respect and possibly propitiation, but he's not really on their "side."

Emphasis on "god", i.e. Heler is a deity, not a spirit.  The Pralori, as Hsunchen, will keep a strong association with the Spirit World.  They can reach Heler - who exists somewhere on the edge between the Storm Realm and the Water Realm.  Perhaps they perceive Heler as the Full Jar or as the Water Ram or something similar.  Whether Heler is friendly or not, I don't know.

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12 minutes ago, Nevermet said:

are there any other Hsunchen that use their animal as mounts, or is that unique to the Pralori?

Maybe the Yak hsunchen or the Sofali turtle people?  I don't think the reindeer hsunchen do.  It seems fairly unique.

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3 hours ago, Nevermet said:

Where is the best place to read up on the Aldryami these days?

 

Regarding Heler, I think that Heler is more or less a big presence for everyone in Maniria, the only question is how.  I'm sure the Arstola Aldryami know them, as do the Ditali, the Caratan, etc.

How do the Pralori know Heler?  My guess is they view Heler with a degree of suspicion, even if he's not an enemy god.  First he helped the flood, then the thunderer..... yes, water is life, but driving rains can cause floods too.  So, he's a powerful god, worthy of respect and possibly propitiation, but he's not really on their "side."  

Will floods be such a big problem up in their native region? Granted, parts of the New Fens lie inside their zone of control, it seems, but generally Pralorela seems to straddle the Ralios-Maniria watershed.

 

3 hours ago, Nevermet said:

Regarding Heler, I think that Heler is more or less a big presence for everyone in Maniria, the only question is how.  I'm sure the Arstola Aldryami know them, as do the Ditali, the Caratan, etc.

I suspect the Aldryami see Heler as a constituent part of Grower, more specifically as a part of Eron, the Nurturing Waters. (Note that Arroin has been mentioned above, but my source below used the term "Eron" in the equivalent passage.)

The elven concept of theism isn't really theism as we understand, but appears to be more a kind of nested pantheism, if that makes any sense. However, it is apparently closer to theism than shamanism (though I suspect the difference is irrelevant for Aldryami, but that's speculative). 

Here is the source. It's from 1998, so  might be superceded. But it's a helluva lot more interested to me than just going "the Aldryami worship Orlanthi gods with different names", which seems to be how they're presented in a lot of media. 

https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/gloranthan-documents/greg-sez/greg-sez/aldryas-own-story/

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Emphasis on "god", i.e. Heler is a deity, not a spirit.  The Pralori, as Hsunchen, will keep a strong association with the Spirit World.  They can reach Heler - who exists somewhere on the edge between the Storm Realm and the Water Realm.  Perhaps they perceive Heler as the Full Jar or as the Water Ram or something similar.  Whether Heler is friendly or not, I don't know.

Yeah, this too.  They'd know about Heler, but he's not central to their Tradition.

 

3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Maybe the Yak hsunchen or the Sofali turtle people?  I don't think the reindeer hsunchen do.  It seems fairly unique.

Yeah, between this, the ubiquity of metal and other non-Hsunchen goods among them, and their reputation for military dominance, they seem.... different than a lot of Hsunchen.  I'm not completely sure how to account for that.  The simplest, non-magical answer is that they had success early on during Time, and they managed to defend a homeland for most of recorded time while being surrounded by more sedentary and technologically developed societies.  I'm not sure if that's all.

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Pralor is written up in the Cults Book as an exemple Hsunchen cult (along with Basmol, Mralota, Telmor, and Rathor). I have a LOT of material on Pralorela. Here's the Third Age history of the area:
 

THIRD AGE 

The early Third Age was spent stabilizing the lands from the disasters that ended the Second Age. As is common in such turmoil, Chaos found the opportunity to strike and grow. Mallia spread wide her maw, broo raped their way to strength, and a small ogre kingdom tried to gain ascendancy along the Vankthi River before being smashed by otters, newtlings, and an unusual collection of werebeast magicians summoned for the special occasion.

The people sorted themselves into four generalized groups of people, based primarily upon their region and favorite deities. They spoke the same language and knew generally of their common heritage, but thought more of their immediate concerns rather than long-range ideals.

The first group were the coastal and island dwellers. They were mostly survivors from the sinking of Slontos and eked out a poor living with farming. Herding was more successful, but failed to provide enough wealth to support cities. The ruins of Hermat, an ancient Pralori city in ages past, were used as the seat of power. Their favorite god was Voriof, the Herding God, and Humakt was their god of war.

The second group were the tribes of the Noshain River through the fens. They favored Orlanth as King of the Gods, though they had no king themselves. They could not afford to worship the lesser deities of the Lightbringer Pantheon. They were, however, friends with the cult of Noshain, god of their river. Noshain’s cult was exclusively in the control of the otters who guaranteed or withdrew protection of the humans’ rafts and canoes. The playful otters did not bother to oppress with their position of superior communications, and so the peoples were peacefully knit together, plagued only by their daily lives and human jealousies.

The third tribe was the Sarbosi River peoples. They lived in tiny hamlets within the marsh and along the lower river, and in fishing villages along the higher, dryer portions. Their favored deity was Sarboai, the River God that they loved, but they also offered great propitiatory rites to the nameless Spirit of the Marsh, a formless and fearful entity which could control the mud sharks, crocodiles, will o wisps, giant frogs, giant herons, giant whirligigs, eerie mists, dense fogs, and mysterious sounds. It was the Spirit of the Marsh who caused the land to turn to reed and reed to turn to water in the spring, and then change all of the channels of a well-known river when no persons were there to know.

The fourth group were the conservative Pralori in the dryer parts of the region, living in small bands and following the herds of elk from hill to lowland each year. They still worshiped Pralor and Foundchild the Hunter God, and trusted shamans to keep them safe from trouble.

These groups spoke with the same accent, and they preferred to cut their meat in certain ways, or to use different rites in propitiatory sacrifices. But disunity was their most common feature. The Noshain group had at least twenty chieftain who each swore to his own independence, while the traditionalists in the hills were uncountable family bands who met and dissolved according to season or occasion. Their fractured independence was common to all of them.

Southward, beyond the rugged Soft Hills, the land of Ramalia was a larger grouping of Slontan survivors. The region was untouched by the disasters, but refugees and raiders had reduced their population. Many kinglets, often bearing ancient titles, waited in their quiet land, listening to philosophers wonder at their sorry fate, and each year beggared themselves with expensive sacrifices to the terrifying ocean in hope that they would be spared their ancestors’ fate.

To the west Tarnin’s Forest had grown in strength. The Aldryami reached from the Soft Hills to the southern edge of the Noshain River and New Fens. 

The Elk Hills were, as before, the hunting grounds for barbarians from Pralorela and from Helby in Ralios.

To the east were the Wenelian barbarians. They were mostly forest dwellers, descended from mixed Pralori, Entruli, and Slontan stock. They were mainly Lightbringer worshipers.

Handra Liv was a slave from a land in Ralios, sold as a child to a boatsmith and as a youth to a boating company. She spent years at the oar, plying the rivers and lakes of Ralios until she and her fellows were swept up in the slave revolts of 1150 which swept the lakes of Ralios. Handra was one of thousands who plundered Helby and one of hundreds who managed to escape two years later when heavy horsemen arrived to settle the dilemma. Handra led a loyal band southward through the Elk Hills where some of them found their old people. Handra lived for a while among the traditional Elk peoples, but could not resist the call of the Sarboai River.

Handra went to a place she blessed as the Source of the River, and there found a shrine to Diros, God of Boats. This was also the ancient place where Diros had left the waters to trek overland, and so was already powerful with the spirit. Handra Liv then proceeded downriver, pointing to trees which Diros had shown her in a vision. These were chopped down and sent floating upon the river. Where they all landed was decreed another holy place, and that is the high point boats can sail, called Highwater. There Handra Liv built a boat from the wood she had gathered, and Diros was pleased to see another shrine set up. Then Handra sailed downriver to the mouth of the Sarboai, where it joins the Noshain. There she called together all the people and beings she could find, and together they made a wonderful floating temple to Diros. Handra taught people how to make better boats, and how to worship the boat god. She pleased the otters by making them supreme River Priests in their river, with no other race allowed, though other races are priests on the tributaries.

Handra Liv then sailed downriver with many craft, until they lost sight of both riverbanks and though they must be entering the dreaded ocean. The waters were both muddy and salty when the flotilla was attacked by a kraken and half the loyal boatmen lost. The magical effects of Zzabur’s curse took effect then as they abruptly found themselves sailing towards their river again.

There were some islands nearby and Handra Liv instructed everyone to land on them. They erected another temple to Diros there, the Mouth of the Noshain. The river god answered his summons, and told the prayers which he and Diros had once before made 270 kilometers away from there. A new pact was made, and Handra Liv was awarded High Priesthood of the Noshain.

Handra Liv ruled for 93 years. By that time there were many boats plying their ways along the rivers, aided and guarded by proper worship of the gods. Trade, meager as it was, moved along the waterways. Towns grew up, especially in the northern regions around Highwater where good trekked overland from Ralios.

About the year 1300 a previously sporadic trade emanating from the east, past Wenelia, began steadily entering the New Fens. This was carried overland by Issaries merchants from the Holy Country. This was an unheard of place, but people soon learned that a stranger had swum ashore from the inhospitable seas and, with much labor and several lives, established himself as a God-King, of the region and instituted a new way of life. The Shadowlands, which had been ruled by the Only Old One and his trolls since before the Dawn, was cast down forever.

Highwater became an important post along this land-based route. It was also the first site to fall to the adventurous nobles from Ralios who sought to get rich on the route. These Trader Princes established bases through the north of Pralorela and Wenelia to the Holy Country, and for centuries prospered. At first the occupation of Highwater caused consternation among the river peoples, but after wars and invasions proved their eternal cost the inevitable compromise was reached. The rulers of Highwater endorsed the river cult and the city became the unofficial capital of the region.

The press of civilization moved downriver and wherever there was trade or worship there were small towns. Better places fostered larger populations, and the Seven Isles, at the Mouth of the Noshain, was in an excellent position.

Seven Isles was puny by most city standards, but it was the largest city on the coast for many hundreds of kilometers. Its boats also ventured for short distances along the coast, and the residents made contact with newtling groups who lived even further away and who claimed to be in contact with the Deep Sea people, the Triolini.

In 1580 a ship, propelled by sails, approached the Seven Isles from the sea. It was larger than any boat men knew, and everyone recognized the craft of a god. Some thought it was Diros arriving once again.

It was not the god of boats but the god of ships. This was the craft of Dormal the Sailor, who brought new secrets and a cult to the city of Seven Isles. He offered to sell them the secrets, and a long period of peace, for great treasure and wealth. He received it, and kept his word, then recruited many young people and creatures for his crews and sailed off with two ships. Seven Isles quickly set up their religion, built a ship, and tested their faith.

Dormal’s words were true. No black fog enveloped them, no mysterious force turned them about. More ships were built and a small flotilla sailed eastward along the coast, towards the direction Dormal came from. They found other small cities like their own, who were also building ships but were slower since they lacked the resources of the Seven Isles. The flotilla reached the Holy Country, where Dormal came from, and paid homage to the God-King and the High Priest of Dormal.

Trade began, and was established with cities to the west as well. In 1583, an army from Ralios moved over the Elk Hills at the request of the Prince of Highwater, and landed into boats to sail south. The intent was to seize the Seven Isles and take control of all the resources of the Noshain. But there was quick resistance, and the invaders were destroyed. A Seven Isles force was sent northward and seized Highwater with aid from the citiens. The Malkion temple was razed and the ashes sent to the wind. An Orlanth Temple, with other shrines in it, was established.

Seven Isles continued its growth, but its leaders did break away from Highwater. The distance was too great, and Seven Isles profited from the inland contact but was rightfully preoccupied with the seas. Highwater lost its importance as a stop along a profitable trade route and dwindled in size. Most people moved to Seven Isles, or more popularly called Handra, which welcomed them and their wares.

When Sartar fell in 1602 many refugees moved south into the Holy Country, but for many there was no welcome for them there. Unrest grew, and many followed their instincts to Seven Isles. A considerable refugee population was established and many wandering exiles have found their way there.

 

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GEOGRAPHY

Pralorela is the region in western Maniria drained by the Noshain River and its tributaries. It is bounded in the north by the Elk Hills, the east by the land of Wenelia and the Mournsea, the south by the Soft Hills and Tarnin’s Forest, and the west by Tarnin’s Forest.

MYTHOS

Like all of the world, this region was ravaged by the Gods War and then polluted by the Chaos War. Whatever existed before was gone, and left were only hidden spirits and meaningless dreams.

During the Lesser Darkness, across the world were many peoples called Hsunchen by later scholars. They all held in common that they were close kin – brothers – to the beasts of the wild, and also that the people lived like animals without the grace of civilization. In Seshnela, the Pendali were lion-people; in Fronela were the Bull and Bear peoples; in Ralios were the Wolf, Horse, and others; and in this region were the Pralori and the Mraloti.

In the wars of the past the Mraloti, savage wood boars, had beaten the gentle Elk Folk and scattered them through the lands. The Mraloti were not immune to Chaos and Darkness, but their fate was better thanks to the powers of Entru, a leader so famous that the Mraloti became civilized and took his name for their own, the Entruli.

In the Grey Age, when the powers claimed they saw a dim light in the East, there came to the region the god Diros. He came in an odd vehicle which moved over water, sailing with wind and oars, which came along the coast and then entered the Noshain River. At the river mouth, on an island, Diros and the river god met and made a secret pact. Then Diros sailed upriver, past the wondering natives, to the Elk Hills. There Diros disassembled his boat and walked to another river, out of the land of Pralorela forever.

The disappearance of the boat and the god was of no consequence to the Pralori. They did not need or appreciate the boat god whose passing was a wonderful incident, but nothing else. Their lives went on.

Another interesting fact: There is a lack of Triolini on the Noshain River. This is undoubtedly the result of the Gods War when the storm gods killed many of the inhabitants of the rivers. Unhindered, the otters and mudsharks developed to be a dominant life form in the local waters.

The marshy ground is another result of the Gods War. The Noshain and its tributaries were wild and dangerous to the Earth. The mixture of land and water is a result of these battles, and even now it is impossible to tell exactly where the best channels of the river lie since it may cut a new one or the land may build up new bars and reefs of sand.

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Well, this is certainly inspirational for finishing the other half of the "What my father said/what the priest told me" duo! The first half of which is here: https://eightarmsandthemask.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-personal-view-of-pralori-life-what-my.html

 

Some immediate thoughts/previews:

I take "Serpent Beast sorcerers" literally and assume that they represent a form of sorcery among the Hsunchen people of western Genertela, largely because that's an interesting thought to work out- how does a form of magic so closely associated with the written word exist among a pastoral people?

I went with a fairly conventional answer (tongue firmly in cheek as I say this) and took inspiration from the semi-writing systems of North America- the wiigwaasabak bark scrolls of the Midewiwin magical society, Sioux winter counts- and concluded that the grimoires and sacred writings associated with sorcery would be in this form, with a significantly more personalized and visual approach. And thus, the Serpent Beasts only survive among the Pralori because the line of succession from sorcerer to sorcerer is fragile and dependent on retaining the individual knowledge of the meaning of the scrolls. 

As such, Serpent Beasts teach a cosmological understanding that syncretizes Malkioni beliefs about the cosmos with the Earthmaker traditions common to hsunchen. 

Shamans, meanwhile, are known as "Antlered Ones" and generally wear a pair of shed elk antlers or symbolic representations of such, and they are ritually required to be combative. 

The primary religious activity is worship of Pralor/a. Pralori understand their mythological history as coming in stages (there's that Malkioni syncretism again!) and Pralor/a appears among them in many guises in order to guide them back onto the right way as the world changes and the right way becomes unclear. As such, Pralori myths, especially their legends and folktales, tend to recapitulate elk migrations, moving back and forth between incorrect and correct behavior almost cyclically. 

Pralori refer to the Otherside as the "Overworld" and see it as a higher reflection of this world (yet more Malkioni syncretism). 

Additional cultural notes:

Elk/wapiti rely on open meadows and grasses for food, as they are primarily grazers and secondarily browsers, unlike their relatives deer and moose. So I think any Pralori relationship with Aldyrami would be at arms-length and quickly go downhill once the Reforestation begins. 

Pralori punch well above their weight class because they fight as heavy cavalry, which is rare in Maniria and expensive to develop anywhere else. Pralori will gladly tell you that they explained how to fight as heavy cavalry to the Seshnelans before the Dawn. 

Historically, it seems difficult to explain how the Pralori, who had previously been oppressors of the Manirian peoples and then again joined with the Bright Empire and its oppression, would have done well under the Autarchy, let alone surviving under the Middle Sea Empire. My thoughts on this are twofold- 

Firstly, the Pralori during this period adopted a kind of "deliberate statelessness" or "barbarism by design" (which still continues today, but less overtly so) as elucidated by James C. Scott in The Art of Not Being Governed, his history of the Southeast Asian Massif and its many peoples. That is, they consciously made themselves a marginal entity on the edge of "civilization" and effectively disappear from history until they come roaring back after Slontos rolls over in her sleep. 

Secondly, as part of this, they become a substantially smaller people. The current numbers they possess are much greater than they had during the Imperial Age, because they welcomed people fleeing the devastation of Maniria and their particular mode of living was able to sustain itself better in the face of the Goddess Switch and the overall resistance of the Earth in Maniria to farming. 

The Pralori are not strict hunter-gatherers, beyond the fact that they're pastoralists (though they have a prohibition against eating elk meat). They have a prohibition against tilling or plowing the soil, but they can dig holes, and so they practice limited horticulture, along with standard arboriculture practices like selectively clearing timber via girdling to select for useful trees near to living spaces. These are not generally recognizable as standard farms or gardens, and look like dense stands of plants that just happen to almost all be useful ones. 

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20 hours ago, scott-martin said:

What's funny is looking again at the more explicitly Heleric strata of this particular document reveals a deep pun I'd never gotten before, S(s)horga = Shorga(s), the blue dragon and the red planet, antagonistic parents of the brisk and leaping god.

Careful with this, as there are at least three blue dragons, so it's dodgy to equate Heler with the blue draconic.

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19 hours ago, Nevermet said:

Regarding Heler, I think that Heler is more or less a big presence for everyone in Maniria

Yep.

In my Maniria, he's a major god among the Solanthi, not a minor one as among other Orlanthi -- but he's also a big presence in western Esrolia.

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5 minutes ago, Julian Lord said:

Careful with this, as there are at least three blue dragons, so it's dodgy to equate Heler with the blue draconic.

I try! But it is difficult to go against the texts we have that suggest a strong line of descent, this one reproduced over here.

https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/gloranthan-documents/glorantha-2/heler-the-great-rain/

Perhaps this is a translation error when the compiler took what we would now know as a Tolat story (possibly bringing in separate elements of Dara Happan origin) and failed to reconcile the names to what we now know.

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