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The Roots Of Glorantha: What's IN There? Should I Be Frustrated?


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So it's been a few years since the Guide kickstarter and we've all seen a lot of the Blank Lands around the lozenge pushed back. Maybe we could benefit from a little more information about what's in some of the rarer publications and, more importantly, what isn't in there. Sometimes the anxiety of influence is crippling. While it can be frustrating to know material is unavailable, it can be worse not to know whether it's available or not.

With that in mind, I hope it's useful or diverting to describe the contents of the Roots of Glorantha series. I have to emphasize that everything said about these books is true. They are rougher than any volume in the Stafford Library and can vary widely from the 17th Century Glorantha we know today. Even when they are accurate, their insight pertains to the world as it was over a millennium past. The world has moved on. Some of this material was not even available for reference when it came time to fill in the Genertela box and what followed. Other texts were only grafted on later through the long process of reconsideration and revision.

The core of what we have here is a more developed version of the so-called "Serpent Kings chronology" or the "Seshnegite Book of Kings" that incorporates Hrestol Saga with similar material filling out the royal history to shortly after Gerlant, along with bits that we would recognize from the early Imperial Age. It's a little Thomas Malory and a little Herodotus, concerned with the epic sweep of a civilization that starts small and fragile and ultimately assimilates or annihilates its neighbors. Mostly it's about the tragic fall of the Pendalites and the seeds of empire. Because the Seshnegites were remorselessly chauvinistic, the world beyond Tanisor is relegated to two loose collections of material, the "Book of Enemies" that discusses the Pendalites and Ralians and the "Book of Foreigners" providing very early notes on Slontos, Pamaltela, Brithos/Vadelos and the East. The overall effect is a high-level history and geography of the world the Seshnegites might have known before the Riddlers came, with a few additions to take us through the Gbaji period. 

There's also some short swords & sorcery fiction as a sample of what Greg was pursuing before the WBRM breakthrough as well as two versions of the tale of Damol, the later of which is quite extraordinary and I wish I'd had a chance to digest it earlier and tell him. It's like a fifth branch of the Mabinogion and could easily be published separately with relatively minor critical amendment. But if not, it's a side track from Thamor's reign so unless you're obsessed with religious politics in the first century you aren't missing out on anything.

In general you aren't missing out on anything here unless you really need to know about the Dawn Age West before the early disasters set them on their current course. The world was different then. And while it's nice to see the seeds of many other parts of the lozenge, it's worth noting that this is before the WBRM map crowded in between the western jungle and the far east. There's nothing here about Central Genertela, no red goddess or storm god. All that came later and has evolved before your eyes. Genert lived there somewhere in the middle and he's always already gone, leaving a howling wilderness of nonhumans in his wreckage. There's also nearly nothing here about Fronela. We've talked about most of it here and there. While the Snodal / Jonat material does graft onto the end of the Seshnegite narrative, none of it is in the commercial edition, so you aren't missing anything in that direction either. You'll have to go elsewhere to check all the sources there.

So rejoice. If you're obsessed with Seshnela in the dawn centuries, just ask. Otherwise, you're free of the need to covet these particular volumes, although they are pretty (Rick did astounding archival work) and if you see one come up on the secondary market it's worth at least making a play for it.  And of course, endless other unpublished pages remain in the Chaosium archive and more are being recovered all the time, so we're never entirely free of the past. Now I cheerfully await correction from others who have encountered these books and have different opinions.

THE ROOTS OF GLORANTHA
(second state)
Book I: The Encyclopedia of Glorantha (aka Seshnegi Book of Kings)
Book II: The Reign of King Froalar (aka Hrestol Saga)
Book III: The Reign of King Ylream
Book IV: The Reign of King Thamor
Book V: The Book of Jychan
Book VI: The Reign of King Bertalor
Book VII: The Vadeli Traider 
Book VIII: The Reigns of Kings Sonmalos, Mimtak, Bertia and Queen Annila
Book IX: The reigns of Kings Gothimus and Torphing
Book X: Genealogies of Seshnela
Book XI: The Book of Enemies
Book XII: The Book of Foreigners
Book XIII: The Book of Gbaji
Book XIV: Hero Tales
Book XV: Aamor The Wanderer of Ralios 
Book XVI: Damiliol 

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Just now, davecake said:

While this still makes me wish I had access to it, it does give me a good idea of when it is likely to be worth me asking questions about it. 

That is the goal. While I'm assured my beard will turn green if I share en bloc (and odds are good one or more fellow collectors will just have me killed, I am pretty easy to find and they are resourceful people), there's no reason this side of the lozenge's evolution should remain locked up among a handful of people when other researchers could benefit us all.

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Please bear with me, but I do not even understand, what you are talking about. This sounds, as if there exists a series of publications (Roots of Glorantha), of which I've never heard before. So could you please elaborate a bit, what this is?

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35 minutes ago, Oracle said:

Please bear with me, but I do not even understand, what you are talking about. This sounds, as if there exists a series of publications (Roots of Glorantha), of which I've never heard before. So could you please elaborate a bit, what this is?

Yes, I have never heard of these.

Were they stretch goals for the Guide to Glorantha?

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36 minutes ago, Oracle said:

Please bear with me, but I do not even understand, what you are talking about. This sounds, as if there exists a series of publications (Roots of Glorantha), of which I've never heard before. So could you please elaborate a bit, what this is?

The 2015 set was part of the Guide Kickstarter for high level backers. 14 sets produced. There was a 2007 version too.

7 MOTHERS/LIGHTBRINGERS: MoLaD reward level, plus the ultimate 15 volume "Roots of Glorantha" series of unpublished Gloranthan monographs written by Greg Stafford. Each printed volume is approximate100 pages in length. You get to pick your favorite 7 Mother or Lightbringer for the cover

Look at a 2007 cover here:

https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/publishers/moon-design/moon-design-kickstarters/guide-to-glorantha-kickstarter/roots-of-glorantha/roots-of-glorantha-vol-iii/

Some more details here:

https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/publishers/moon-design/moon-design-kickstarters/guide-to-glorantha-kickstarter/roots-of-glorantha/

An example of Volume one's contents is here:

Here's the preface to the 2007 Volume 1:

The Roots of Glorantha Series 

This is Book One in the ROOTS OF GLORANTHA series. 

These are reproductions of my original writings, dating from 1966 to 1976, or so. They nearly all center upon the western land of Seshnela, or its associations. These have been assembled to satisfy the curiosity of my patrons and to create duplicate copies of these early works. 

Much of the information in this series is no longer correct in light of subsequent revelations, creations and contributions to the general lore of Glorantha. On the other hand, much of it IS still valid, and provides the deep skeletal origins of the world. 

These are organized according to the folders in which they have been preserved for the last thirty or more years. These were created in the era before computers and before photocopiers, hence there is duplication or near-duplication in many of the pages and files. Some of those files have been combined when their contents were too few pages to create a reasonable booklet. 

The entries in the Table of Contents are organized in the same order that they were found in their respective folders. The titles of those entries are the same as those on the pages themselves. In cases where no title was present, I have included a portion of the opening line in quotations as a pseudo title. Some entries are inconsistent in listing whether an item is hand written or not. I do not believe this detracts for the usefulness of the entry. 

 

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6 hours ago, scott-martin said:

So rejoice. If you're obsessed with Seshnela in the dawn centuries, just ask.

I mean kind of!

Let's start with King Bertalor, one of the only sources we have for him (The Metals of Acos) suggests he was celibate, or at least unlucky in love. Is this consistent with his reign in the book?

In the guide, at the dawn Southern Tanisor is occupied by the Pralori, is there any trace of them back then, or are they just part of the Pendali peoples?

Are there any maps of dawn age Tanisor? We have a good map of pre-shattering Seshnela itself, but there's several places I'd be curious about changing over time. And especially if any rivers are named outside of the Tanier and Deu rivers.

Is there any information on Yingar the Messenger, who dwells in the Sky World and carries words from Malkion to the Middle World? I understand he may be Malkion's grandson.

Since Damol is there, is there much information on his father, Aerlit? Since Aerlit is a prominent figure due to being Malkion's father, and has a prominent "mountain" (more of a hill) in southern Tanisor.

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3 hours ago, David Scott said:

There was a 2007 version too

Thanks for documenting these and so much more ... your pages on Before The Moon and Our Great Empire were in the background as I was thinking about this. The evolution of the 2007 “rainbow” edition can be better told by others but I can say it is rarer and more extensive than the one commissioned in 2015. Even so, I hope people grab when either inevitably comes up.

2 hours ago, Tindalos said:

I mean kind of!

That’s the spirit! The briefest of notes here since all are worth a lot more meditation because they matter to you:

* Bertalor does marry and have a kid so there are either multiple people of that name or “metals of Acos” is juvenile production. I prefer the latter scenario but we will see when we get moving here. Maybe a Kings List readalong would be useful! Anyhow he ends up abdicating.

* The pralorites are definitely extant early on and seem completely separate from the lion realm. There are sketch maps but I don’t recall any river names. Will check again when not buried in PowerPoint. 

* Yingar is of the line of Horal and has his wings. However the lineages are contradictory, reflecting either revision or controversy now largely lost. As with all of these, this is only a placeholder. I know he is mentioned in Hrestol Saga so people with that might jump in first.

* Damol is my favorite! The “aerlit” identity is part of his controversial role in the history of the children of “malkion” since there are those who want to deprecate all local storm entities to nuisance status. The whole family is very strange. Sorry to tease but more ahead ... typing this on the phone before getting back to work.

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Yes, the Roots of Glorantha series of books are one of the rarer and least known about items on the list of Gloranthan Publications. Published in 2007 and 2015, they only contain very early Gloranthan lore, both in terms of when they were written (1966-1976) and the eras of Glorantha they document (early, early stuff). Most of the maps related to these writings ended up in the Greganth Atlas, another very rare item, although not technically one of the Roots of Glorantha series. Each of the 6 RoG books is about 256 pages. The Atlas is about 100 pages. As for the 2007 "Rainbow" version, the contents are basically the same, although I thought we added a bit to Volume VI in the 2015 set that wasn't in the 2007 version. I've added a picture so you can better understand why the 2007 set is called "rainbow". Greg used the standard paper colors available at his local copy shop. 

Just to be up front about it, Greg originally sold these in 2007 to a very small handful of super scholar-collectors for big $$$. This was at a time when Greg's income was quite low. That's the main reason we did likewise when we offered them as part of the Guide to Glorantha Kickstarter. Greg didn't want us to significantly lower the price he had charged previously.

Roots-spines.jpg

Roots-all-7.jpg

Roots-Rainbow.jpg

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So to answer the OP's question: Yes, I am frustrated, because I would like to have a look at these documents. On the other hand: even if I wouldn't have missed the Guide to Glorantha Kickstarter (I've entered the tribe around 2015 with HeroQuest Glorantha), I wouldn't have gone up to that backer level ...

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1 hour ago, Rick Meints said:

Yes, the Roots of Glorantha series of books are one of the rarer and least known about items on the list of Gloranthan Publications. Published in 2007 and 2015, they only contain very early Gloranthan lore, both in terms of when they were written (1966-1976) and the eras of Glorantha they document (early, early stuff). Most of the maps related to these writings ended up in the Greganth Atlas, another very rare item, although not technically one of the Roots of Glorantha series. Each of the 6 RoG books is about 256 pages. The Atlas is about 100 pages. As for the 2007 "Rainbow" version, the contents are basically the same, although I thought we added a bit to Volume VI in the 2015 set that wasn't in the 2007 version. I've added a picture so you can better understand why the 2007 set is called "rainbow". Greg used the standard paper colors available at his local copy shop. 

Just to be up front about it, Greg originally sold these in 2007 to a very small handful of super scholar-collectors for big $$$. This was at a time when Greg's income was quite low. That's the main reason we did likewise when we offered them as part of the Guide to Glorantha Kickstarter. Greg didn't want us to significantly lower the price he had charged previously.

Roots-spines.jpg

Roots-all-7.jpg

Roots-Rainbow.jpg

Is there any chance they could be made available to the public again? Even if they still have a hefty pricetag, I'd love at least a chance to get my hands on them.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My eBay notifications were triggered by some new listings this morning that are relevant to this thread. It's only a subset of the early Roots of Glorantha books (not the Moon Design reprints), and they seller is of course asking for a high price (although I'm not sure how high it is compared to the already high price of the originals? how pricey were they?).

On 8/16/2020 at 3:11 PM, Richard S. said:

Is there any chance they could be made available to the public again? Even if they still have a hefty pricetag, I'd love at least a chance to get my hands on them.

That would be interesting to see indeed. Once Chaosium has their POD e-store and pipeline up and running with the RQ classic books, it might be possible to see the Moon Design Roots of Glorantha books on there as POD, with a high price tag to respect Greg's wishes. I would only get one every year or so as a fancy birthday gift to myself, but I would probably get them eventually.

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I for one would like to see how much I've got severely wrong, and how much more I could have gleaned from these in writing Men of the West...

I did pick up a copy of the GreGanth Atlas a while back and used it as a source for The Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass - didn't copy the maps, but after studying it, it provided a view on the interaction of the various cultures in Peloria.

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