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2 hours ago, EricW said:

What I love about Glorantha is this Blue moon perversion of the red moon cult could exist simultaneously with the red moon. Just as there are many sun gods, why not an apostate blue moon hero cult created by some serious god learnerism to challenge the red moon myth cycle for spiritual supremacy?

Naturally the red moon followers would attack the new upstart with all their considerable magical might - but raw strength is not always the path to victory, as the red moon’s victory over Carmania demonstrates!

Or indeed, there could be a Red Moon heresy in this Blue Moon version.

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In the Life of Moonson thread, someone pointed out all the top sellers at Rpg.net today had a connection to the Moon, so I couldn't help but imagine this. So I slammed Exalted Lunars and the Luna

The Bull Shahs and the Rise of the Blue Moon Empire The Dragonkill opened the opportunity for the Bull Shahs to seize power in Carmania.  They grew strong at conquest and stronger at inhumanity,

It was said (falsely) that King Henry I of England died of a surfeit of eels (it was lampreys).  Is it possible that the Lunar Empire is controlled by a surfeit of Eels? 

The Dragon Guard of the Blue Emperor

It is often forgotten that Trolls of the Blue Moon assisted the Dragonnewts in wiping out the secrets of Auld Wyrmish and bringing down the EWF.  In return, the Dragonnewts have supplied the Blue Moon Empire with a force of Beaked Dragonnewts known as the Dragon Guard.

Dragon Guardsmen serve for exactly 101 years, then are replaced by a fresh force.  They do not follow the Changing Way, but they are more predictable than normal Dragonnewts, in the sense that they follow orders and don't run around doing weird things.

This actually bothers people more than normal Dragonnewt weirdness.  

Those who die are reborn from their eggs, which they transfer to the Imperial Palace for the duration of their service.  They have a Blue Moon tattoo and can draw on the Blue Cycle, while they serve.  A unit of priests and magicians assists them, who are all Changing Way followers.

There are exactly eight hundred of them; they usually serve as bodyguards for the Emperor, but are sometimes used for special missions or at the head of an army accompanied by the Blue Emperor.  They form eight companies, one for each of the phases of the Blue Moon.

They are known to be able to breathe underwater and are rapid swimmers.  

A tailed priest named High Skies commands the force; he has served since the first guard came to the Empire.  He is one of the Moonson's closest advisors.  He is thought to be displeased with the current Persona of the Moonson.  High Skies can fly but is reluctant to do so.  In recent years, for reasons unknown, he saved a young man of the Orlmarth Clan from being killed by Chaos monsters who overran his village.  Limahl Two-Sight is his constant companion now and is rumored to have been taught secrets once taught to the EWF, but most people assume that's just a rumor; he does command elemental magics, though.  Others suspect he is grooming the man to become the next Moonson, thought Catticus seems not to suspect anything.  

 

1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Or indeed, there could be a Red Moon heresy in this Blue Moon version.

The Red Moon Movement

No matter how benevolent an empire is, there's always lunatics who want to destroy it, especially when Nysalorean Riddlers infest the empire like ticks on a stray.  Groups periodically rise up which claim that the Blue Moon is an illusion or a usurper or a trick and that the rightful ruler of the Empire is the Red Moon.  What's that, you can't see one in the sky?  You see, *it's invisible*, but you know it's there because in your drug-fuelled delusions, you can see it.  Or something.

The Red Moon is determined to replace the Blue Moon with the Red Moon, who they think will 'bring unity', 'promote synergy', and 'kill those rich bastards'.  As with many heresies in the Empire, it is most common among those at the bottom of society, who look to divine intervention to overturn things to their benefit.  

The Red Moon is known to have a process of Illumination, known as 'Seven-Elevening',  This has something to do with prime numbers and dice, Imperial agents believe.  Efforts to crack this secret have led only to the corruption of the agents involved, however.

Mostly, Red Moon cultists either

  • hold giant rallies where they whine and spout heresy
  • riot (hard to tell from other riots)
  • join hands around Blue Moon Temples, trying to levitate them
  • ambush caravans and steal everything to sell to buy more drugs, weapons, etc.  
  • have hallucinatory worship that sometimes unleashes Chaos monsters, usually when least convenient
  • complain about everyone not being the same (or something like that)
  • try to get people to do things in unison.
  • ambush and kill the wealthy.  

The worst off-shoot of this cult was the 'We are All Pus' movement, which tried to feed an entire city to Gorpgod and was narrowly thwarted by Imperial Agents.

Conspiracy-minded Imperials worry that the Red Moon may be some sort of Front for the Red Claws (to be detailed Later).

 

 

 

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We didn't have that much deep mythology.  Even though our characters were all Lunars, we kept messing with it.  They lost roughly a province every campaign.  Eventually, in some dim future:

A huge battle which "saved" the Empire resulted in the loss of Jar-Eel, Moonson, many other heroes, and much of the army.  A Danfive strongman (not so subtly patterned after Putin) came to power, backed by the naive PCs, secret service forces, trolls, and Delecti.  He offed or imprisoned any likely Moonson replacement candidates so they could not complete the Ten Tests.

Likewise he suborned or threatened prominent Dara Happen families, while Yolanela waged a vicious Dart War in Carmania, supporting House "Anister" over the "Tarks".  The replacement Inspiration of Moonson was called "Jar-Uz".

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck
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18 hours ago, John Biles said:

The Tests:

1.  Climb to the highest tower of the capital and fly to the ground.

2.  Survive a week in the northern forests without any tools.

3.  Swim across the Osilira at the heart of winter.

4.  Punch a Dara Happan in the face, then survive for a day without hitting anyone by your own strength.

5.  Catch a fish from Lake Orinin with your hands.

6.  Defeat a powerful foe of the Empire by your own strength.

7.  Infiltrate a worship ceremony of an enemy cult and disrupt it.

8.  Steal a sandwich, eat it without getting caught.  From someone rich and powerful.

9.  Convince a nonbeliever to adopt the Changing Way.

10.  Dig a burrow for yourself and live there for a week.

11.  Steal the Imperial Regalia and crown yourself.  (This is where the largest number of would-be Moonsons die)

Where did you get these Tests?

I have been trying to find a definitive version of the 11 Tests for a long time.

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5 hours ago, soltakss said:

Where did you get these Tests?

I have been trying to find a definitive version of the 11 Tests for a long time.

Unfortunately, a leaky pipe destroyed all the extra copies of the materials for Who Wants To Become the Moonson?, a May 22, 1997 con game in Hawaii.   

So it's hard to get hold of the materials if you weren't there.  

 

****************

The Red Claws

The Empire has always been marked by conflict between those who want to end all urban civilization and farming and fully revert to the old ways and those who embrace civilization and the changing way as compatible, not opposites.

During the rampage of Sheng Seleris, some of those who endorsed ending civilization joined him in ending civilization as best they could, becoming the Red Claws.  With the defeat of Sheng Seleris (who was taken by the Uz and made into a stew for one of their high priestesses, after his defeat), the Red Claws went underground, pledging to overthrow the Empire.

In the way of such would-be, yet failed revolutionaries, the Red Claws are now more of an organized crime society than a real revolutionary force, though individual 'Fists' may go either way.  A fist is a group of Red Claws who work together, connected to other fists by message drops, spirits, and sometimes mostly by misinterpreting natural events as messages.

Only those who follow the Changing Way can join.  They are careful about recruiting people because many fists are infiltrated by imperial agents.  At times, entire fists were all subverted but none of the agents realized everyone else was also a plant.  Those are often the most dangerous fists.

There is currently no real central leadership; there is a 'Head' but it is connected to most fists only indirectly.  Some fists have their own subordinate fists and are growing into their own organizations.  This makes wiping it out nearly impossible but has kept it from overthrowing the Empire too.

The Red Claws worship Sheng Seleris and gain power from this *even though he is dead*; Imperial metaphysicians continue to argue how this works, though some have concluded it means that being eaten by Trolls somehow does not kill you.

Understandably, few are eager to test this.

 

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1 hour ago, John Biles said:
7 hours ago, soltakss said:

Where did you get these Tests?

I have been trying to find a definitive version of the 11 Tests for a long time.

Unfortunately, a leaky pipe destroyed all the extra copies of the materials for Who Wants To Become the Moonson?, a May 22, 1997 con game in Hawaii.   

So it's hard to get hold of the materials if you weren't there.  

Ah, I've never heard of that.

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The Imperial Capitals

The Empire has three effective capitals, each of which serves a different purpose.  

Merinta Reborn is found on the Blue Moon Plateau and on the Blue Moon.  Because the Plateau is a piece of the Blue Moon, anything on it exists on Genertla and the Blue Moon at the same time.

Now.

The city has an odd architectural style - it resembles a giant tent city made of stone.  The southwestern quarter of the city is reserved for actual tents; visitors can set up a tent in that area for the duration of their stay.  The Moonson rules from here for part of the year, if he doesn't have other things to do.  Those initiated into the Changing Way can choose, when exiting the city, to enter the Blue Moon or Genertla.  Unless you are some sort of aquatic creature, this requires getting a boat at one of the facilities just outside the gates.

Four rivers flow through the city; they all come from the Blue Moon and can be used to swim or boat into the Blue Moon if you lack initiation into the Changing Way.  A fifth river rises from a spring and flows from the Plateau down to the Arcos River.  The Imperial Boat Facility sits just inside that gate, where the Moonson boards the Imperial Floating Palace for his trips around the Empire.

Beneath the city is the UnderCity, ruled by the Uz, though some loyal imperial Mostali dwell there as well.  Tunnels there connect to the caverns of the Blue Moon, dry and comfortable and full of food, for those loyal Uz allowed to dwell there.  

Under the current Emperor, Catticus, the city flows with wine and song and rejoicing, though he produces nothing but mournful music.  Once each season, he performs in a great ampitheater and having a ticket to attend is a high privlege; mind you, his voice is amplified so much that most of the city can hear him anyway.  The most favored performers also perform in the imperial ampitheater; there are dozens of smaller ones, theaters and other venues for drama, music, and entertainment.

 

Raibanth Divided sits at the confluence of two rivers which divided it into three segments, each part of a different province.  It serves as the administrative center of the Empire, where ordinary humans work to keep the empire running and do all the boring scut work while those who follow the Changing Way are free of such petty nonsense.  What this means in practice is following an elaborate system of rules which the Satraps and the Moonson violate on a whim, sometimes just to drive the bureaucrats crazy.  But it's the revenues they manage and control that ensures the empire isn't turned into pasture as some want.  

Every Moonson must come here to be crowned as Emperor of Dara Happa so as to command the arcane power of the role and ensure the DH keep the empire functional enough to get by.  The Moonson spends at least one season a year resident here, resolving conflicts, often in ways which create more or future conflicts.  

Raibanth has a high holy day which though celebrated elsewhere in the Empire, is more special here - on the day of Yelm's Rebirth, during sacred time, he rises from his temple and shines over the city for a full twenty-four hours, then sets back into the temple; this can be seen for one hundred miles around the city; beyond that, the sun shines as normal in the rest of the empire.  However, during an interregnum, this does not happen at all; one of the signs that a Moonson has claimed the Imperial Throne successfully is that this day happens as it should.

 

Oronin City:  Located on an island in Lake Oronin, this city is home to Little Sister, the Emperor's twin.  She'll get her own entry.  Oronin City is riddled with canals and there is a lower level of the city for aquatic folk, both merfolk and aquatic Hsunchen.  It was here that the Blue Moon Goddess held the Great Feast, in which she basically got the Gods drunk and when they sobered up, they'd agreed to her presence in reality.  The city changes whenever Little Sister changes.  

Right now, it is an austere place of strict rules, strictly held to.  Little Sister's palace is half-temple, half-strict boarding school.  Her elite guard protects the city above and commands a formidable force of ships, some of which can fly.  This is not a place for the arts, though there is a distinctive style of poster found in the city, showing stern folk doing their duty and flourishing.  

Wind Novels depict the city as a secret pit of kinky sex, but in fact, it's probably the worst place in the Empire to get sex in its current form.  But who knows how that will change if the Moonson is changed?

Oronin City functions as a spiritual center for the Empire but it also acts as the balancing force keeping the empire from going too wild or too rigid.  A difficult balancing act.

It is also a huge center of artisan production and is linked into what trade is now opening up with Fronela as it opens up.

 

 

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Little Sister

The Blue Moon Goddess spawned twins the one time she gave birth.  Unlike the Moonson, she has never been slain; some think that she can never be killed so long as the Moonson keeps dying and being reborn.  She can take on any form, but usually appears as a short, blue-haired woman who looks old enough to be the younger sister of the Moonson in his current form; her clothing changes to counterpoint how the Moonson dresses.

In the current age, Little Sister dresses in a black tunic with white stripes, black leggings and black boots and white gloves.  She sometimes dons blue-tinted glasses when she needs to look extra stern and her hair is pinned up in a bun.  Unless she is in her brother's presence, music is literally suppressed if you get too close to her, save martial and patriotic tunes.

Little Sister cultivates soldiers, lawyers, judges, and other maintainers of order at the current time, especially women in those roles.  But at the same time, she can be quite subtle; her commands always come as advice.  The right advice.

The invasion of Sartar was initiated by an earlier Moonson but she is the one currently driving the war - Catticus has other things on his mind.  

It is not clear what kind of Hsunchen she is, as she seems able to turn into any kind of animal, like her brother.

 

Catticus

Catticus is the seventh steed of the Moonson since his slaying by Sheng Seleris.  He began life as a Cat Hsunchen in one of the suburbs of Raibanth, where he grew up listening to the music of the peasantry; he caught the attention of the previous steed, Igneous, by his musical talents and became the Imperial Bard.  The horrible death of Igneous at the hands of Harrek the Berserk in 1607 was nearly followed by Catticus dying; he survived only because trying to kill a Cat Hsunchen by throwing him off a roof just leads to him landing on his feet.

To the shock of everyone, the several years of chaos which ensued ended with Catticus becoming the seventh steed of the Moonson in 1610.  He has since promoted an era of cultural flowering and largely ignored the whole Sartar affair, to the frustration of Little Sister.  He is not a warrior, though he had to show some fighting skill to survive the Eleven Tests.

However, Catticus finds himself weighed down with regret; it seems that Moonson's age weighs upon him; his music has reached a depth and strength beyond even the genius of his youth but at the same time, it's harder and harder to overcome the weight of immortality.  He is centuries old and has seen a lot of failure and death, including his own repeated death.  Some days, all he can do is wonder if Harrek will one day come for his head again, to finish the job.

He and High Skies clash a lot because High Skies is very mystical and high minded and Catticus cares little for metaphysics.  But High Skies is often at his side, none the less.

His lack of ambition drives Little Sister crazy as well, but he remembers how she and he always bounce off each other, so he likes to pat her on the head, which really drives her nuts.

 

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3 hours ago, John Biles said:

In the current age, Little Sister dresses in a black tunic with white stripes, black leggings and black boots and white gloves.  She sometimes dons blue-tinted glasses when she needs to look extra stern and her hair is pinned up in a bun.  Unless she is in her brother's presence, music is literally suppressed if you get too close to her, save martial and patriotic tunes.

 

I'm trying and failing to see what this is reference to, if anything. Does sound... evocative, though.

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2 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I'm trying and failing to see what this is reference to, if anything. Does sound... evocative, though.

She should have some resemblance to Susan from Discworld.  But basically, she's a stern librarian.

 

The Changing Way

The heart of the Blue Moon Empire is the Changing Way, by which the peoples of the Empire have cast off the shackles placed on them by their foes and resumed the lifestyle of their ancestors, who lived in harmony with True Animals - animals with the intellect of men.  These links were never entirely forgotten but cast off in favor of reducing animals to unintelligent submission and abandoning the ability to change back and forth.  People were mostly chained down as farm slaves and forced to toil so a few could be wealthy and free.  In the Changing Way, all will be free of the shackles of agrarian toil.

This liberation comes through the Changing Rites.  While the Blue Moon Goddess could give the gift in mere minutes by speaking to someone, with her ascended into the heavens and busy ensuring the waters of the world flow properly, while also watching over the Empire, mere mortal priests and shamans must guide our youth and those who wish to join the way to become True Men (ie, Hsunchen).

This begins with the Delving.  A priest of the Seven Sailors or a shaman cast lots, which indicate what kind of animal you are linked to.  You then are guided to a clan of your kind of Hsunchen (your own kin if you were born into a clan), where you train in their ways and learn their life.  If you are not deterred by the difficulties, then at Sacred Time, you undergo the Bonding - you must convince a True Animal to become your companion.  Having done so, the two of you then face the Challenge - you must go into the wilderness with just your companion and the traditional tools of your new kind; if you survive, you gain the common magics of the Changing Way and are fully one of us.  Otherwise, you die and maybe you will have more luck in your next life.  Those who die sincerely trying to succeed in the spirit of the challenge will be reborn into a clan, giving them a leg up in their next life.  Those who violate the Challenge will be cast into the same pit where Sheng Seleris is devoured by tigers over and over forever.

The common magic of each kind of Hsunchen varies, but the rites help you to carry out the way of life of your chosen clan and communicate with True Animals and Sleeping Animals alike.  You can be transformed into the appropriate kind of True Animal with the help of a Shaman or Priestess, but you can't do it whenever you want.

Some who are initiated eventually become Shamans.  Those who want to become Priests of the Seven Sailors or the Blue Moon or her servitor goddesses and gods must undergo the High Challenge.  This requires a season of survival in True Animal form in the wilderness and overcoming various spiritual tests not revealed to outsiders.  Those who pass it can now shift back and forth at will and gain access to divine magics.  (Shamans typically gain the aid of a spirit from their Shamanic initiation who allows them to assume True Animal form, but Shamanic initiations are different.)

Those who seek to rise to the top of the Changing Way must travel to one of the Imperial Capitals and undergo the Blue Challenge.  This involves Heroquesting and beyond that, little is known by outsiders.  Those who pass this gain a higher communion with one of the gods and can use their feats.

The Changing Way does not teach Illumination unless you are a priest or priestess of Irippi Ontor, the God of Knowledge, one of the Seven Sailors (he was the Navigator who led them by his knowledge of the Stars) whose quest to know everything led him beyond that frontier.  However, sometimes people come back Illuminated from the Blue Challenge.   Illumination is not illegal, but many distrust it because they associate it with Arkat, who is assumed to have become a raving murderer because of his Illumination.  Certain Uz are also illuminated (and have mixed feelings about Arkat).  '

The worship of Arkat is strictly forbidden because Arkat cults in the Empire are usually about murdering everyone who ever looked at you funny.  This is doubly so since Sheng Seleris brought Arkat back from the grave and convinced him the Moonson was Gbaji, so he killed the Moonson.  The Moonson never entirely recovered from that.

A central worry of the Empire is that Arkat may come back again.  Prophesies of the Hero Wars make this likely.  

 

 

 

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The Blue Moon Assassins

The Blue Moon Assassins either predate the Empire or they are modelled on a previous order of assassins.  At Bavero, there is a small mountain, a piece which fell from the Blue Moon when the Blue Moon Plateau was sundered from it.  Atop this mountain is a nigh-impregnable fortress manned by a mixture of Hsunchen, Trolls, and Dragonnewts, all of them hopped up on drugs and willing to kill for the Blue Moon.

The society was founded by the Priestesses of the Blue Moon, when they helped the Dragonnewts execute the Dragonkill.  Blue Moon Assassins made suicide attacks on key EWF leaders, eliminating them.  They serve the Under Moon phase of the Blue Moon (When she is in the Underworld and cannot be seen).  If slain on a mission, they dissolve into water; those whose faith is strong are then reborn in the fortress.  Those who are not at least will get a good rebirth.  

Blue Moon Assassins target the most dangerous enemies of the empire.  Some are involved in the mess in Sartar.  

They are typically armed with poisoned melee weapons, though some do carry ranged weapons.  They come in two flavors - screaming murder machines who mob and kill you, or subtle infiltrators, who gain your trust, then feed you poison and cut off your limbs just to be sure.

Most only have common magics of the cult - striking harder, enhancing poisons, disguise, and so on; the toughest have undegoner the Challenge or the Blue Challenge and command strong water and poison magics.  The most powerful ones can make rare things happen on cue (but not common things) and there are recurring rumors the Assassins have an actual dragon on tap, guarding their fortress. (Or maybe the chunk of the Blue Moon *is* a dragon.)

 

The New Annilla Minstrels

The New Annilla Minstrels are the music your parents wish you would listen to - they perform religious music in a folk style, thus making it suitable for dancing, to appeal to the youth.  There are actually multiple bands, who come to places, sing and do skits, then offer the Changing Way to people they draw in; every group thus has a few priests and/or shamans with them.  

They are one of Catticus' initiatives and he has the very best of them come perform for him once a year.  Indeed, he spends far more time on this project than Little Sister approves of.  Mysteriously, NAM groups who try to enter her city find themselves exiting it on the other side, which usually involves falling into Lake Oronin.  

Many aspiring musicians now get their start in one of these groups, before seeking to rise to higher status.

 

 

 

Edited by John Biles
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The Blue Moon

The Blue Moon rises at the same time as the sun, but rises in the North.  It grows brighter as it rises and can be seen in the daytime, though it is never as bright as the sun.  It arcs over the empire as it does so, heading up and south towards the center of Glorantha.  It then gradually sinks into Magasta's Pool, growing dimmer and setting at the same time as the sun.  It passes through the Underworld and then rises again in the north.  

The Eight Phases of the Blue Moon:

  1. New Moon - the Night Moon, which cannot be seen unless you're in the Underworld.
  2. Dawn Moon - Barely visible on the northern horizon if you have a clear view.
  3. Ascending Moon - The Moon now has half its full brightness.
  4. Late Morning Moon (Brunch Moon) - The Moon now is at 3/4ths full brightness and is easily seen anywhere.  Brunch Moon is an unofficial nickname and it's unwise to use it in official correspondence.
  5. Full Moon - The Moon is at its peak.  Some call this the Lunch Moon.
  6. Descending Moon - The Moon begins to descend and is at 3/4th brightness
  7. Sailor's Moon - The Moon is at half brightness; sailors use this moon to navigate relative to Magasta's Pool.
  8. Dusk Moon - 1/4th brightness and you probably struggle to see it even if the Sun is also dimming.

Some Imperial Philosophers tie the Seven Sailors to seven of the eight phases:

  • Yanafal Tarnils:  Descending Moon 
  • Irrippi Ontor :  Ascending Moon
  • Jakaleel:  The New Moon
  • Danfive Xaron:  The Sailor's Moon
  • Deezola:  Late Morning Moon
  • Teelo Norri:  The Dawn Moon
  • She Who Eats:  The Dusk Moon

 

A reasonable person might ask how does the Blue Moon stand out in a blue sky.  The answer is that it resembles a giant, glittering sapphire in the sky.  However bright or dark it gets, its coloration stands out against the sky.

Anyone initiated into the Changing Way can see the Blue Moon more closely with their naked eyes.  They can see the eight great oceans and the seven great islands which divide those seas; they can even make out the Imperial Capital, though not any details.  Anyone not initiated will need to ask the Dara Happans to let them use a telescope.

Each of the islands is named for one of the Seven Sailors, who travelled there and explored it during the rite which brought the Blue Moon Goddess to Genertla to destroy the forces of evil.  She Who Eats has the honor of having the Imperial Capital upon her island.   Little Sister is known to have a fortress she shares with Jakaleel on her island.  Certain heretics assert Little Sister *is* Jakaleel, but that would make her her own grandmother and we leave that sort of insanity to the Nysaloreans.

It is known that the Blue Moon goes past the Boat Planet as it sits in the Underworld; imperial teams have made repeated efforts to raise it without success, but this is known to remain an imperial objective.  

 

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The Blue Moon Empire in Sartar

Sartar is currently a thorn in the foot of the Empire.  At the heart of the problem is a clash in models of freedom - The Blue Moon Empire regards agriculture as scutwork to be performed by those who haven't come to see the blessings of the Changing Way.  From the viewpoint of the Blue Moon Empire, Orlanth was conned by Ernalda into giving up his true self to become a farmer.  They see Orlanth as an Alynx Hsunchen; Yinkin is his brother and Companion.  Those clans willing to adopt the Changing Way become Alynx Hsunchen (or Horse Hsunchen, since Elmal is seen as such).  Ernalda worship, however, is banned in these clans, who adopt other femaie goddesses (many of whom are basically Ernalda's handmaidens normally).  Clans which refuse to convert are forced to pay tribute to the Empire and to the clans which do.

There is a fundamental problem and that problem is the same one the Empire has long had - the lifestyle of the Changing Way requires far more space per person than does agriculture - Sartar can't support everyone converting.  At the same time, many clans have no interest in converting and want to be free of Imperial rule.

Sartar is now 'ruled' by Prince Temertain, who has been unable to light the Flame of Sartar and thus can't be properly crowned.  The Moonson declared him married to Jar-Eel; this does not seem to have pleased either of them, but it's expected that with time, they will produce a child able to light the flame, one way or another.  Assuming he doesn't mysteriously show up dead first.  Temertain is not a bad person but he is basically more interested in an odd mix of partying and scholarship than ruling and largely lets Jar-Eel and the military squabble, while he works on Volume III of his history of Dragon Pass (Dealing with the EWF era).  There is an ongoing illegal betting pool on whether Beatpot Aelwin or Sartarite rebels will kill him first.

There is a strong military presence in Sartar because forces trying to subdue the Holy Country and Prax depend on it.

 

The Elmal Horsefriend Heresy

The fall of Tarsh exposed the Elmali of Sartar to the power and grace of the Changing Way.  This led to an infiltration of imperial customs into Elmal clans, culminating in a Heroquest by a man named Monrogh that Elmal was really a Horse Hsunchen.   This led some Elmal clans to convert to Elmal Horsefriend worship, adopting the Changing Way.  However, the EH Heretics remained loyal to the Principality of Sartar, taking over a swathe of land on the southern side of the Kingdom and practicing the Changing way there, but rejecting the authority of the Moonson and the Empire.

The Horselords of Sartar have since pledged fealty to the Empire since Sartar's fall but the Empire does not trust them.  This has let to problems with converting other Elmali clans.

(In this universe, Yelmalio exists - the Sundomers of Prax worship him and some people in Peloria, but he's barely known to exist in Dragon Pass.  What few people do know of his existence see him as Elmal's younger brother who remained loyal to Yelm.)

 

The Grazelanders

The Grazelanders originally fought the empire but Hon-Eel brought them around to the Changing Way and they have become enthusiastic warriors for the Empire.  They are led by Single Matron Woman, an enthusiastic warrior; their treatment of the vendref is how the Empire has tried to treat the recalcitrant clans of Sartar but the Sartarites are rather less easily controlled.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Orlanthatemyhamster said:

No Killing Moon? Also known as the Moon of the Opposing Fate.

Moon of the Hare Hsunchen, The Echoing Moon...

Hare Hsunchen of the Blue Moon Empire

Teelo Nori had a pet rabbit, Oswalt; they became the first of the returned Hare Hsunchen when she became the vessel of the Blue Moon Goddess and continued to be one once the Blue Moon Goddess ascended, returning her body to her.  Hare Hsunchen act as the special servants of the Blue Moon Goddess upon the Blue Moon itself, though some come down to dwell among men, bringing their gifts of luck, love, and fertility.  

Hare Hsunchen clubs are popular in the major cities of the empire; some are essentially sacred brothels, while others are simply clubs with beautiful attendants but if you want their loving, you'd better earn it.  And if you anger them, they have a powerful kick.

Hare Hsunchen are vegetarian and able to eat things like bark, leaves and twigs, though they prefer grains, vegetables, and fruit.  This leaves them dependent on either trading for food (as they reject farming) or selling services for money; they are usually found in small groups and do not contribute much to the military of the Empire save as healers, though as mentioned before, they can deliver powerful kicks when angry.  Hare Hsunchen are noted for making rice cakes with a wide variety of flavors as a travel food.

Certain Hare Hsunchen are Tricksters, worshipping Teela Nori in her Trickster aspect, who make it their special task to deflate anyone with pretensions - which is to say anyone of importance in the Empire.  Little Sister hates these Tricksters with a burning atomic fury but can't get rid of them because they are beloved of one of the Seven Sailors and the Blue Moon Goddess.

Most of them live on the Moon most of the time; the Imperial Capital is their usual method to get back and forth.  On the Day of Omens, if you see a rabbit on the moon, you will be lucky in love, tricks, and fertility for the next year.

 

The Day of Omens

The last day of Sacred Time is the Day of Omens.  Everyone looks to the sky at noon and sees an omen on the moon - seeing one of the Seven Sailors, the face of the Goddess, or your own kind of Hsunchen is the best possible omen.  However, seeing other kinds of Hsunchen is often a message, not of doom but of something to come.  Some omens are warnings and if you don't heed them, you die.

 

The Killing Moon

The period of the Descending Moon, when Yanafal Tarnils is at the peak of his power, is known as the Killing Moon; it is the time when it is most auspicious to start a battle.  Often, however, generals aim to start earlier so this will strengthen his men as they would otherwise begin to flag later in the day.

 

 

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The Imperial Military

The Imperial military can be divided into three groups - the Legions, the Auxillaries, and the War Clans.  The Legions are professional soldiers from the farming zones; the Auxillaries are local defense forces, usually organized in traditional local ways, and the War Clans are from the Hsunchen Clans.  

The Imperial Military is arranged around powers of eight:

  • 8 soldiers form a Fist, commanded by a Palm.  
  • 8 Fists form a Squadron, commanded by a Squad Leader
  • 8 Squadrons form a Battle, commanded by a Battle Captain
  • 8 Battles form a Legion, commanded by a Legion Captain.  

A Legion is commonly composed of 1 Cavalry Battle, 4 Heavy Infantry Battles and 3 Battles of Archers.  

Squadrons and Battles typically have various kinds of support forces - engineers, magicians, shamans, priests, quartermasters, and so on. 

Cavalry Battles are lightly armored and mostly function as scouts and skirmishers; they wear leather armor and carry bows and spears.  

Heavy Infantry wear heavy armor and fight in a mass with pole arms, forming a phalanx.  They function best on level terrain.

Archers wear leather armor and have powerful bows and axes or short swords if forced into melee.  They train to fire over the heavy infantry into charging foes.

Auxillaries

The most powerful auxillaries are the Dara Happan Phalanxes, which are as good as Imperial Heavy Infantry and are backed by lightly armed skirmishers (Peltasts) and heavy impact cavalry (staffed by the wealthiest Dara Happans).  

Other auxillaries range from desperate peasants with spears to Carmanian cavalry; they vary depending on what part of the empire you are in.  

Auxillaries normally only fight in the part of the Empire they live in, but the mess in the South means a lot of auxillaries have been hauled south to help.

The War Clans

Some Hsunchen Clans support themselves by fighting for the Empire; this can mean long absence from home but they get a lot of loot and bring many special capacities to the Empire.  Clans affiliated with the Military receive large subsidies and the pick of the plunder of war.  Clans form temporary tribes uniting all the clans in a given army... ideally.  Sometimes you end up with several rival war tribes in an army which either leads to competitive excellence or a complete disaster.  Everyone remembers how the 1556 Revenge On the Horse Bastards campaign ended in three War Tribes destroying each other, leading to total defeat.

An average war clan of 900 people can field 15 full-time warriors and 100 less skilled warriors.  The non-combatants stay home while the warriors go to war, though some people come along to act as healers, blacksmiths, and so on.  

The nature of troops provided varies by the kind of Hsunchen.  Deer, Elk, Horse, and Goat Hsunchen provide strong cavalry which the empire especially needs.  

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Wind Novels and Messenger Spirits

One of the effects of the Changing Way is that a large amount of the empire is either illiterate, or they read and write in a special writing system which requires, say, cat claws, to do properly.  Some Imperials still use the dominate Dara Happan writing system from before the Empire, but you can't count on people being able to read.

This has led to the rise of Messenger Scrolls, fetishes with Communications Rune or Air Rune spirits bound into them.  Anyone who knows the basic rite can operate them and get whatever messages they've been told and add new ones.  The upper levels of society use these extensively, while the middling folk have to be more careful in their use and the peasants... are peasants and lucky to be told anything.

The Dara Happans and Pelandans, both unusually literate cultures, have embraced these for ephemeral writing - light fiction, poetry, love letters and other things where you're unlikely to reread it a lot.  These are known as 'Wind Novels'. 

The Horse Hsunchen Express 

Brown Recluse, a normally unimaginiative Brown Recluse Spider Hsunchen (this is considered the laziest regnal name ever for a steed of the Moonson), suddenly realized, while watching a relay race, that he could create a similar system on a larger scale.  Waystations along major roads link the capital to the western, eastern, and southern frontiers.  Horse, Deer, and Elk Hsunchen are stationed with True Animal allies at each station.  Messenger Scrolls are passed to a new rider at each station.  This easily allows messages to move dozens or hundreds of miles a day.  Sufficiently wealthy Imperials can also use it to send messages.

Several Elmal Horsefriend clans in Sartar have made a lot of money by acting as the Sartarite branch of this system. However, rebel attacks are a constant problem, south of Tarsh.

 

 

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Carmanians

One of the great ironies of the modern era is that the Empire was created to crush the Carmanians, but Carmanians played a critical role in saving the Empire from Sheng Seleris.

The Carmanians began as Hrestoli Heretics who fled east into the lands of the Pelandans; in the process, they changed their religion to a belief in two supreme beings, locked in conflict, who must be balanced to be a whole person - Idovanus, the Lord of Light, who urges men to kindness, generosity, and mercy, and GanEstro, Lord of Night, who urges men to conquest, strength, and dominance.  This is also called the right and the left hand paths.  Idovanus is the lord of public truths and GanEstro knows the secrets of the world.  

They easily conquered the Pelandans, who are very smart and very unable to unify against enemies.  So very smart but only in certain ways.  Eventually, the Bull Shahs, who largely abandoned the right-hand path took over and began trashing all of Peloria and the Blue Moon Goddess had to be returned to beat them down. The last Bull Shah was turned into a literal bull.  You may have eaten one of his descendents.

Over the centuries, the vast majority of Carmanians have embraced the Changing Way, while the Pelandans have stuck to their urban and farming ways.  Thus, the Carmanians still rule them, though under the aegis of the Empire.

Most Carmanians are either Horse or Lion Hsunchen; the Carmanian Horse Hsunchen have a rivalry with the Elmal Horsefriend Hsunchen of the southern lands.  Both groups are deeply offended if compared to the Pentans.  However, the rivers and lakes of Carmania are home to various groups of aquatic Hsunchen, of whom Eel Hsunchen are the most important.  

Carmanians of the Changing Way usually continue to worship the two gods of their faith and the various servitor spirits who serve them, recognizing the Supremacy of the Blue Moon Goddess over their gods.  

Little Sister is resident in the Carmanian lands and the four satrapies in the area effectively answer to her, though in theory they owe fealty directly to the Moonson.  

 

 

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Colonel Porker - Manager of the Imperial Arts

Colonel Porker is a veteran of the Imperlai War Clan forces, a Boar Hsunchen from Saird, which he likes to claim all good things in Glorantha come from.  Save the Blue Moon Goddess, but he claims Teelo Nori, her steed, was born there, though most scholars do not agree.

Porker did a twenty year stint in the military, fighting Pentans, Broo, and Tusk-Riders.  He especially hates the Tusk-Riders, seeing them as a mockery of his own people.  But he then used his connections to become a patron of the arts, managing the affairs of various young bards.  He was cunning enough to see Catticus' talent and had the connections to bring him to the attention of Emperor Igneus.  He has managed the sale and use of Catticus' musical and other creations ever since.  He also now makes huge amounts of money by basically running Imperial entertainments.  

He and High Flyer despise each other and he doesn't get on well with Little Sister, but he keeps Catticus supplied with catnip and apple sandwiches and barbequed pork.  Porker's good military record means he has extensive contacts in the top ranks of the Imperial Army.  

The easiest way to get an audience with the Moonson is to convince Porker you have talent and the Emperor will enjoy seeing you.  The second easiest way is to convince him you've killed some Tusk-Riders.  He'll respect you more that way.  

No one is sure how tough Porker is - he is aging but still looks formidable and he apparently survived fighting Harrek the Berserk, even if he didn't *win*.  Mind you, that was in 1607.  Also, he helped guide Catticus through the Eleven Tests.  

Boar Hsunchen of the South

The lands of the Boar Hsunchen cross Imther and Holay.  The transformation of some of the locals into Boar Hsunchen was a surprise to everyone.  The biggest group of Hsunchen in the area are the Jajalaring Dog People, but the Boar Hsunchen now live in some of these territories.  They have gone almost entirely animist, save for those who worship the cults of the Empire.

They ride their True Animal kin into battle, acting as heavy impact cavalry; they are sometimes mistaken for Tusk-Riders, which makes them really angry.  Which is bad, because angry Boar Hsunchen will fight on long past when they are probably actually dead.  

Like their true kin, they are omnivores who can eat just about anything chewable.  They make cheese from the milk of their sows and also a fermented milk drink they love and everyone else usually flees from.

 

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Wind Boats

Wind Boats are boats to which wind spirits have been bound.  Most wind boats simply generate their own wind, blowing themselves across the Blue Moon and the lakes and rivers of the Empire.  A few have been taken to Prax and now sail the seas for the Empire.

Much rarer are those with both wind and bird spirits bound into them which can *fly*.  These are possessed by the ultra-rich, Satraps, the very most important holy folk, and a slightly bigger cadre among the Rinliddi Bird People, who make them.  

Prince Temertain of Sartar has one decked out as a grand pleasure palace that flies.  Little Sister is notable for her mobile library.

These greater Wind Boats can be used to fly to and from the Blue Moon, or even up to the Planets and the Sky Dome. 

Heron Reed Boats

The Heron People of Darjiin build reed boats where they dwell, migrating through the endless waterways of the wetlands of Darjiin to hunt fish and small birds.   They are basically house-barges, very mobile in the swamp and providing a dry place to live.  Most such boats have one or more spirits bound to them, giving them unpredictable powers.  Some are mobile shrines.  A handful can fly but the vast majority cannot.  True Herons nest on the roofs of these boats.

Carmanian Labor Punishment Boats

 In the Carmanian satrapies, a common punishment for crimes is to do some months or years of duty as a rower on one of these massive oar-powered boats.  Rowing allows them to go up and down stream freely at a good speed, irregardless of weather.  Most such boats are largely mundane, but some have enchantments to keep off rain, speed the ship, or even strengthen the rowers when needed.  

 

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Troll Heresy

The Blue Moon Trolls always had an important place for Annila, the Blue Moon Goddess, unlike most trolls.  The formation of the Empire and the Goddess walking among them and providing a home for many trolls under the islands of her Moon, where the sun cannot touch them, has led the Blue Moon Trolls into full blown heresy.

Trolls initiated to her cult can live comfortably underwater, and the light of the Blue Moon during the day protects them from the Sun.  (Conveniently, the Blue Moon sets when the Sun sets).  They now see Annila as the supreme mother of Trollkind and Kygor Litor as her daughter, while Nysalor is seen as, basically, evil incarnate, too evil even to be eaten.  And Trolls will eat Chaos creatures.

One of the central goals of the cult is to obliterate Nysalor; the deepest enemy of the cult are the Nysalorean Riddlers who show up like outbreaks of plague.  According to cult tradition, Arkat tore off Nysalor's arms and legs, then forced him to eat his own genitals, then chopped his torso into four pieces, then cracked his skull open and ground his brains into powder.  So there are ten pieces of Nysalor, though one piece is powder in a jar.  Unfortunately, he hauled them all off to Stygia and when that fell, the pieces were scattered.

The cult has found five of the pieces and keeps them at hidden, widely separated locations - they have the skull, the upper right piece of the torso, the left arm (found by Sheng Seleris, recovered when he was slain), the brain powder, and the lower left piece of the torso.  The case of Sheng Seleris revealed something horrible - a person missing the appropriate part can graft a chunk of Nysalor to their body and gain some of his power.

Someone bringing a chunk of Nysalor to the Blue Moon Trolls would be greatly rewarded.  

Blue Moon Trolls are not immune to the curse on Trollkind, but those initiated to the Blue Moon only give birth to trollkin in one of three births instead of half the time.  They believe they can end it entirely if they can ever get their hands on all of Nysalor's remains.

Nysalorean Riddlers

Ever since the death of Nysalor, Riddlers have periodically surfaced in Peloria like an outbreak of the plague.  They are a constant source of trouble for the Empire; no one is sure how it keeps recurring, though the Trolls believe it's because Nysalor wasn't obliterated sufficiently.

Nysaloreans spread Illumination without any sort of framework that will prevent Occlusion, believing the liberation of Illumination is beyond any sort of moral judgement and is a good in and of itself.  They simply pose riddles and conundrums and paradoxes which infect the mind and eventually convince you the Empire's rules are a lie and you can do whatever you want without consequence.

It is forbidden to eat Riddlers for fear it would give them power over the eater; they are usually just dismembered and burned.

It is known there are books which can infect you with Nysalorean illumination.  Many in the Empire assume this is what happened to Sheng Seleris, but his brand of mysticism, also illegal in the Empire, was rather different.  

Dara Happans seem especially vulnerable to Nysalorean Illumination, though many worry that people make false accusations to kill Dara Happans who annoyed them.

 

 

 

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Blue Moon Troll Mysticism

The Blue Moon Trolls do have a mystical tradition.  On the Blue Moon, there are deep oceans where light never reaches.  Blue Moon Shamans and Priestesses (and Priests) can travel to the Blue Moon and descend into the Dark Waters.  They then enter underwater caves where they experience a series of tests - going without food, staring into the Sun for days (how this is possible in a dark underwater cave is unclear to outsiders), allowing people to beat on you without retaliating, and other things intended to force you to fight your instincts and escape from them.

A successful Illuminate isn't bothered by the sun even outside the empire, can go without food or drink if necessary for a very long time, and loses the impulse to violence (though they can fight if need be).  They also gain a greater resistance to any sort of Fire magic.  

Unsuccessful would-be Illuminates tend to either go mad or die.

 

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