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Two Questions about Dragonewts


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So, it is written that Dragonewts begin to reengage with humans in 1625 after the Dragonrise (I'm probably not remembering the wording right in the Glorantha Sourcebook, but that's the gist.) If Dragonewts were not interested in getting involved in human affairs before that point, then why did Dragonewts hire themselves out as mercenaries to the Lunars? What would they gain from fighting in other people's wars? Seems inconsistent, at least on the surface. Secondly, the RQG GM Pack says something about Dragonewts occasionally going on human hunts. Does anyone have any information about that? How often did/does this happen in Dragon Pass? Why does it happen? How long is a hunt? What're Dragonewt goals when they do this? (OK, that's more than two questions, but maybe most of them can be considered just aspects of the second :) .)

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7 minutes ago, Beoferret said:

why did Dragonewts hire themselves out as mercenaries to the Lunars? What would they gain from fighting in other people's wars? Seems inconsistent, at least on the surface

One would assume that money had nothing to little to do with it, what the lunars promised I think would be something furthering Dragonewt goals. Just what those goals might be... Becoming Dragons,? Finding dragons (but not telling the lunars about it)?  You know, that is almost twisted enough to work with Dragonewt strategem. Stretching and expanding the road system, or something not very straightforward at all in the end. Interesting to speculate on, though.

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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Dragonewt motivations are completely opaque. They do not think like others and trying to figure them out will tie your head in knots. One of my players asked a dragonewt the reason it was helping him and the response was "Reason?" with a quizzical look. That was a new concept to it.

Dragonewts have fought on both sides of the Lunar-Sartar wars over the years. It is fair to assume that each time they were offered something that they wanted, probably knowledge. On the other hand they may have just understood that the action would bring the Inhuman King a step closer to its unknown goal. Though most humans assume they were trying to weaken both sides in anticipation of the next time they rise up to kill all humans.

Either way it isn't like they were risking anything in the fight. They are immortal.

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3 hours ago, Beoferret said:

So, it is written that Dragonewts begin to reengage with humans in 1625 after the Dragonrise (I'm probably not remembering the wording right in the Glorantha Sourcebook, but that's the gist.) If Dragonewts were not interested in getting involved in human affairs before that point, then why did Dragonewts hire themselves out as mercenaries to the Lunars?

The actual quote is:

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In 1625, with the Dragonrise, the dragonewts became active in human affairs once again

Glorantha Sourcebook p52.

Not that they were never interested in getting involved in human affairs before 1625 but that the Dragonrise marked a new phase of their involvement in human affairs.  

 

3 hours ago, Beoferret said:

Secondly, the RQG GM Pack says something about Dragonewts occasionally going on human hunts. Does anyone have any information about that? How often did/does this happen in Dragon Pass? Why does it happen? How long is a hunt? What're Dragonewt goals when they do this? (OK, that's more than two questions, but maybe most of them can be considered just aspects of the second :) .)

The human hunts happen when the Dragonewts feel a need for human flesh AFAIK.

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I think the Dragonewts that take part in wars as mercenaries are fighting because fighting or wars is something they need for their own personal development or something that they need to experience, so it's just a convenient way to make it happen without starting a war of their own. Of course, it could be lots of different things really (so whatever works for you), but that really strikes me as the go to answer.

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Also during the siege of Boldhome, in which they participaded, a dragon descended and fought for the sartarites, so they actually fought on the opposing side to a true dragon. Puzzling. 

In PoS they are also seen fighting for the lunars in the battle for the cradle, and AFAIK, there are no dragonewt settlements near Zola Fel, so they went much outside their homeland to do this. 

It's also worthy of note that there are many "rogue" dragonewts, maybe those are the ones to be hired as merks. 

But as the Dragonewt Dream, the most probable answer is that it's just mysterious reasons incomprehensible to humans. 

Edited by Jape_Vicho
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8 hours ago, Beoferret said:

If Dragonewts were not interested in getting involved in human affairs before that point, then why did Dragonewts hire themselves out as mercenaries to the Lunars?

In my Glorantha, this is caused by two things. Firstly, the Red Goddess is an avatar of Nysalor and has gained some of his secrets of controlling Dragonewts, probably gained by Nysalor cursing the Dragonewts but the curse being eaten by a True Dragon. Nysalor had Dragonewt mercenaries after that and so does the Red Goddess. Secondly, the Sun Dragon ruled Dara Happa as the Dragon Emperor, The Red Emperor is also Emperor of Dara Happa and has access to some of the forbidden draconic secrets of the Dragon Emperor, one of which could be a relationship with Dragonewts. Put them together and you can see why/how Dragonewts could serve the Lunars.

8 hours ago, Beoferret said:

What would they gain from fighting in other people's wars? Seems inconsistent, at least on the surface.

It might seem inconsistent, but Dragonewts do not act in ways that always make sense.

8 hours ago, Beoferret said:

Secondly, the RQG GM Pack says something about Dragonewts occasionally going on human hunts. Does anyone have any information about that? How often did/does this happen in Dragon Pass? Why does it happen? How long is a hunt? What're Dragonewt goals when they do this?

The area around Dragon's Eye is also called Huntland, I think, for this very reason. 

Why do they hunt? maybe to keep humans away from Dragon's Eye.

What are their goals? Who knows? Maybe not the most helpful answer, but I find that assigning goals to Dragonewts is difficult.

 

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50 minutes ago, Blindhamster said:

sorry to hyjack, but any good advice on roleplaying dragonnewts as a GM? they're supposed to be far more alien than most of the other elder races it seems

Wyrms Footnotes 14 had a lot of info on Dragonewts including a way of using personality traits to determine how they behave which was interesting, you can get the PDF from Chaosium.  While I might excoriated for mentioning it here, the Mongoose Second Age Dragonewts book also had a lot of good info in it - it was written by Loz so while it's not canon, it's still a good read and is worth picking up a copy if you can find one.

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To address the original question - why would dragonewt warriors hire themselves out as mercenaries? Death in combat is a form of utuma, while taking experience in actual, serious combat may a strong way to overcome some of the mystical requirements to enter the next (tailed priest) stage for a warrior stage dragonewt. Fighting well and dying well may be quite the boon.

There is no indication of dragonewt priests hiring out to the Lunars Sartarites. Moirades 1602 at Boldhome, Fazzur Wideread 1620 in Karse and Sor-eel 1621 against the Cradle are the reported incidents of dragonewts being hired by the Lunars. Prior to that, the Battle of Quintus Vale may have seen dragonewt mercenaries in Tarshite service, and we know about the dragonewt involvement in the battle(s) of the Smoking Ruins. Those may have seen dragonewt priest stage involvement.

 

Human hunts may be for special meat consumption, but there is also a possibility that the dragonewts go about erasing a karmic debt that may have been accumulated either by themselves (for false positive interaction with local humans) or in reaction to a "transgression" of humans against some unknowable greater plan of theirs. Karmic balance is something the 'newts value, according to all scholars who wrote on this subject.

As the GM, you can go with any combination of reasons and durations, or targeting preferences - maybe they hunt only humans wearing a specific color, or marked by an otherwise innocent pattern?

 

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Also during the siege of Boldhome, in which they participaded, a dragon descended and fought for the sartarites, so they actually fought on the opposing side to a true dragon. Puzzling. 

Note that the dragon averted the Crimson Bat prior to the use of the dragonewts as utuma storm troopers. Might have been the Inhuman King upping the ante for the mercenary fee, or fulfilling an older obligation before lending his aid to the Lunars.

 

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In PoS they are also seen fighting for the lunars in the battle for the cradle, and AFAIK, there are no dragonewt settlements near Zola Fel, so they went much outside their homeland to do this. 

There is a single dragonewt plinth in the region of Pavis, It might be possible to re-activate that with suitable sacrifice (which Sor-eel would have had to provide) in order to get the 'newts on site.

I cannot recall any historical precedence for the principality of Sartar fielding dragonewt mercenaries, but then Sartar never needed shock troops to overwhelm a defensive structure.

 

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It's also worthy of note that there are many "rogue" dragonewts, maybe those are the ones to be hired as merks.

Rogue dragonewts don't re-incarnate, or at least they don't do so easily. This might disincline them to engage in mortal peril, unless they are really nihilistic.

 

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But as the Dragonewt Dream, the most probable answer is that it's just mysterious reasons incomprehensible to humans. 

The dream was in all likelihood some form of ritual preparation or echo. It had the specific effect to liberate the Rubble from the troll seal, an event that flooded the royal coffers of Sartar with lots of treasures from the ruins.

I assume that Sarotar, Jarolar, Tarkalor, Dorasar (as kid sidekick of Sarotar), and possibly also Onelisin were among the first explorers to enter the Rubble, and that being rather fresh, possibly collecting quite a few treasures that had been ignored by the trolls or previous to the sealing by plundering nomads.

There is even a possibility that this was set into motion by King Sartar, among others with his visit of Badside (then "city of thieves") when he made the peace deal between the Pol Joni and the Paps. It may have been a reward of him becoming King of Dragon Pass.

 

 

Edited by Joerg
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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

Note that the dragon averted the Crimson Bat prior to the use of the dragonewts as utuma storm troopers. Might have been the Inhuman King upping the ante for the mercenary fee, or fulfilling an older obligation before lending his aid to the Lunars.

I know very little about Sartar and his bloodline, but I have always suspected that his legacy holds many mysteries even to the greatest sartarites of 1625.

If the Crimson Bat had been allowed to unleash his full might against Boldhome, the city would not just have fallen, it would have been completely annihilated. Maybe the dragons didn't want the lunars to find something hidden deep within the city that would have been visible once it was destroyed; maybe they considered that the existence of the city, as the magical beacon and seat of sartirite power that it is, was needed for their plan for the world, while it's fall and occupation by the lunars wasn't meaningful enough, elder races, and especially dragonewts, have different view of time; maybe they were just upholding to a pact made to Sartar. 

In short, I think the true dragon came down and fought the CB because the dragons, for some reason or another, didn't want to see Boldhome turn to ash and melted stone. 

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5 hours ago, Blindhamster said:

sorry to hyjack, but any good advice on roleplaying dragonnewts as a GM? they're supposed to be far more alien than most of the other elder races it seems

Yes, being the most alien of the elder races is really saying something! It depends a lot on what type of dragonewt it is. But in general think of them as intelligent creatures with tunnel vision toward goals that humans do not, and probably cannot, understand. Think of it as a rigid caste hierarchy but with the ability to advance to a higher caste if they can only understand the dragon way. That is achieved by following the orders of those above them who have achieved that understanding. And they are immortal, so they do not fear things that mortals do.

Crested are essentially adolescents, trying to figure this whole thing out while being given the grunt work. Create a random emotions table and just roll on it every day (if not more frequently). As they age over many, many lifetimes, they become more balanced and better at achieving their goals. Beaked have reached a higher level of maturity and are in some ways the closest to humans (which to them would be a huge insult). They handle and direct most of the mundane work (providing food, building, crafting, fighting, etc.) according to the general direction of their superiors. Your players would have to be huge dragonewt friends or enemies to end up in the presence of a tailed priest, who are the equivalent of leaders and priests. Full priests are the dragonewt equivalent of heroes, heavily mystical and wipe-out-small-armies powerful.

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Personally, I think the most helpful thing to keep in mind when trying to portray Dragonewts is that, ultimately, everything they do is in pursuit of utuma. They seek transcendence beyond this world, which they see as just a dream they want to wake up from, but this is a very long, involved, multi-step process that requires a lot of esoteric (and I mean "esoteric" in the sense that it's not something that can be understood in the exoteric terms of rational or logical enquiry) steps be taken. Once you get that, you can justify almost all their weirdness as being something they've decided is a good way to work towards something they need for utuma, or as a byproduct of it.

A good example of that is the well-known obsession Dragonewts have with avoiding becoming indebted to others, and with paying off whatever debts they do accrue as soon as possible. They see these debts as entanglements with the very world they're seeking ultimate escape from, and from that perspective it makes sense that Dragonewts really don't like being offered favors or gifts.

This kind of logic also explains why Dragonewts actively avoid communicating with non-Dragonewts; at best, they think, you're wasting your time trying to explain this stuff to those who aren't ready to understand anything you're saying, and at worst you're opening yourself up to potential entanglements through dealing with those mired in the concerns of a world that isn't even real.

But sometimes the pursuit of utuma means doing stuff that just plain makes no sense, much like really esoteric, mystical traditions IRL do and say things that most people don't really understand or just see as weird and absurd. And that's where you get weird stuff like a Dragonewt obsessively studying left-handed people or attacking anyone who whistles in their presence or something.

Edited by Leingod
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Thanks for the input, everyone! Things have been clarified, while retaining a good deal of dragonewt mystery. 

So, another question! Who's more alien in their mentality and culture: dragonewts or mostali? And if you had a player who wanted a character who was one or the other, which would you allow and why? Which race do you think would be easier to play? Which would be more interesting?

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36 minutes ago, Beoferret said:

Who's more alien in their mentality and culture: dragonewts or mostali? And if you had a player who wanted a character who was one or the other, which would you allow and why? Which race do you think would be easier to play? Which would be more interesting?

Dragonewts are more alien.

Mostali can be understood, but they are just extremely constrained in viewpoints and outlook.  (Think Project Management professionals tracking never-ending, centuries-long projects; modifying primitive "Gantt" charts; constantly calculating for work shortages, resource depletion, resource gathering, inventory control, etc.)

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33 minutes ago, Beoferret said:

Who's more alien in their mentality and culture: dragonewts or mostali?

Good question, one I asked myself when reading the claim that the 'newts were the most alien of the Elder Races. (A title which I would pass on to either the Grotarons, the Hoolars, or the Gold Wheel Dancer (singular because Pinchining is the only one within living memory).

The mostali are sapient tools. Some of them may be sentient, too, especially the True Mostali. All True Mostali were manufactured by Mostal and whichever Mostali castes preceded them. Each were made for the new tasks their caste had been designed for, while having quite a bit of free will, initiative, and leeway to perform their tasks. After all, they had the lesser animated creations to do their repetitive work for them. After Mostal was dislocated by the emergence of Storm, Mostal stopped to contribute directly to the world, but his creations attempted to continue his work and set the world right again to the best of their knowledge and ability. This makes True Mostali fairly relatable, as demigods go.

The self-reproducing Clay Mostali aka dwarves could be mostly non-aging humanoids, but for all their use of biological self-replication, they are a lot less capable of independent or original thought. There are rare exceptions, but most of them are on the extreme end of the functional autism spectrum. This makes them a lot less relatable - I find it easier to come up with adventures for dragonewts than I do for dwarves.

The dwarves portrayed in RQ2 era publications - mainly Griffin Mountain or the four boxed adventure sets by Integrated Games (1984-1987) - depict dwarves that fit AD&D tropes better than they do the Gloranthan variety, something which led to Greg Stafford's Different Worlds diatribe "Why I Dislike Mostali". The encounters in Griffin Mountain are entirely relatable, and would make quite playable characters. They are also completely outside of any Mostali norms (even those of Individualist- and Openhandist-ridden Greatway), and would be recycled almost instantly if they ever wandered near the Nidan Decamony.

The Flintnail dwarves in Pavis are a rare crossbreed population inheriting humanity and other racial traits from that extraordinary individual Pavis. Some of their behavior is more in line with dwarven orthodoxy than the overland encounters in Griffin Mountain. But then, we don't know the castes or job descriptions of the Elder Wilds rangers based in Greatway. They might be a batch of experimental specimen created to explore the teeming abomination called forest.

Apostate dwarves might be less alien than apostate dragonewts. Fully orthodox dwarves are IMO less relatable than orthodox dragonewts.

33 minutes ago, Beoferret said:

And if you had a player who wanted a character who was one or the other, which would you allow and why?

I might allow a broken Flintnail dwarf in a Pavis campaign. Maybe a stranded handler of slave humans from Dwarf mine. In social situations, they would be as out of their depths as a ludoch on a mountain climb. The campaign would have to be one focussed on problem solving rather than social interaction for either to be fun to play, I think.

A player wishing to play a dragonewt in my games would have to be very fluent in Gloranthan and especially draconic and mystical lore, or someone willing to remain oblivious of most of the game world.

I would allow either as a sidekick character with occasional spotlight. If an Orlanthi noble may have a bonded Eurmali, other characters may burden themselves with oddballs like these.

Aldryami are pretty much the same when it come to me GMing them. At least, unless Shannon Appelcline manages to make them as relatable as Sandy did with the trolls.

Trolls are no worse than Eurmali or Storm Bulls as player characters. Caveat emptor.

Trollkin or ducks are at a great disadvantage.

33 minutes ago, Beoferret said:

Which race do you think would be easier to play? Which would be more interesting?

Either race would make interesting sidekicks for Argrath's Warlocks. That company already sets the tone for scenarios and heroquesting where such characters and what would be flaws in regular adventuring may become assets.

 

In a slapstick (MOB MGF convention scenario-style) game, anything goes. Also in a Order of the Stick-like campaign in Glorantha.

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3 hours ago, Beoferret said:

So, another question! Who's more alien in their mentality and culture: dragonewts or mostali? And if you had a player who wanted a character who was one or the other, which would you allow and why? Which race do you think would be easier to play? Which would be more interesting?

For me, it is dragonewts by a LONG shot! In my game, Mostali approach science fiction style robots (somewhere between Blade Runner replicants and Star Wars droids). They take rational approaches to fulfill goals from short-term to millennia long. When they need a new tool, they create a new appropriately classed dwarf. They have individual personalities and creativity, expressed more as experimentation than art, but would be much more predictable than any other race if you knew their capabilities and mission. And they have the ultimate in patience!

Dragonewts, on the other hand, are inscrutable. Utuma is the important thing, but I don't think that humans actually understand it. Their experts think they do, and some are undoubtedly a little closer than others, but in general they are just kidding themselves because they attempt to define and understand it within a vocabulary and context that is not only wrong but completely irrelevant to dragonkind.

That said, there are absolutely exceptions to these generalities for both the Mostali and Dragonewts! There are colonies of dwarves that believe they need to incorporate non-Mostali thinking into the great machine. For dragonewts, there are individuals and small bands that deny the dragon way, giving up immortality for personal freedom. Either of these could be interesting, and still in many ways alien, PCs that would come with their own innate enemies.

That said, if I had a player that wanted to play an Elder Race I'd nudge them toward Aldryami. With GM creativity, they wouldn't have to divorce themselves from their race (allowing them to participate in the social/family aspects of the game) and could join a cult that works similarly to that of the other players, while still remaining alien.

 

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3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Trolls are no worse than Eurmali or Storm Bulls as player characters. Caveat emptor.

Well, except for that whole thing where they are constantly fighting the urge to eat the rest of the party, though that might be true of the Eurmal also...

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1 hour ago, Scorus said:

There are colonies of dwarves that believe they need to incorporate non-Mostali thinking into the great machine.

Of course, dwarfs make for interesting NPC's.  My favorite was in my old Imther campaign where a dwarf sought human aid in proving his theory that there was emergent Chaos in the machine.  Naturally the reason he sought human aid was because the dwarf hierarchy had rejected his theory - and was incredibly paranoid that the dwarf leaders were now after him, and incredibly naive about humans and that they might want his tools for their own use.  The dwarf was correct, though, and his experiment did produce Chaos which the PC's had to deal with.

More recently I introduced a dwarf "merchant" in my HQG campaign.  This was a Gold dwarf with his accompanying assistants.  There were varied materials he was looking for, but particularly the shadows of humans to gain an appropriate amount of Darkness for some unnamed purpose.  One of the assistants was a Tin dwarf (if I recall correctly) who had a pair of shears that could snip a shadow off a person - didn't hurt, but then the person is left without a shadow, which raises questions in some communities.

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47 minutes ago, Fedman Kassad said:

Sidebar Question: Do Dragonewts have their own currency?  What do they use for money/trade

They may keep some around for when they need to work with outsiders but have no need for it within their society. Even their trade with outsiders would mostly consist of trading items, food, information, etc.

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14 hours ago, Joerg said:

To address the original question - why would dragonewt warriors hire themselves out as mercenaries?

I vaguely recall the Glorantha Sourcebook or King of Sartar mentioning that they only did mercenary work once, for the Lunar Empire, at "an inhuman cost", or something ominous along those lines. Did they ever sell their services more than once? I imagine it's very very very costly each time.

10 hours ago, Beoferret said:

So, another question! Who's more alien in their mentality and culture: dragonewts or mostali? And if you had a player who wanted a character who was one or the other, which would you allow and why? Which race do you think would be easier to play? Which would be more interesting?

IMHO the Dragonewts are definitely more alien. The Mostali are weird in a machine-like way... they have a strict logic that, potentially, somebody could follow and vaguely understand, especially for us as modern people (maybe less for actual Gloranthan people). I guess it's like talking to an A.I. In contrast, the Dragonewts are just super fucking weird.

I would never allow a Dragonewt PC. I may allow a Mostali PC.

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3 hours ago, lordabdul said:

IMHO the Dragonewts are definitely more alien. The Mostali are weird in a machine-like way... they have a strict logic that, potentially, somebody could follow and vaguely understand, especially for us as modern people (maybe less for actual Gloranthan people). I guess it's like talking to an A.I. In contrast, the Dragonewts are just super fucking weird.

On the other hand, the idea that the world as we experience it is in some way "not real" and that you should devote your life to a lot of esoteric beliefs practices that you're told will allow you to transcend that is not a new one to humanity. It's mostly unusual in that the Dragonewts comprise an entire species and society, rather than small cults or spiritual traditions practiced at the margins of a more "orthodox" society whose beliefs they split off from. And, of course, the fact that Dragonewts will literally be reborn every time they die and other stuff that gives them a very different experience and perspective on stuff like mortality.

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26 minutes ago, Leingod said:

And, of course, the fact that Dragonewts will literally be reborn every time they die and other stuff that gives them a very different experience and perspective on stuff like mortality.

A state of mind perfectly relatable by any video-gamer who can reload a save-file, with the slight twist that any changes made since the last save remain and you aren't respawned into the same situation again and again.

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