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Alternate Lunar Empire


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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

These Tests Go to Eleven Until the rise of Sheng Seleris, the Moonson was simply immortal and ageless.  During Sacred Time, he aged, died, turned into a baby and aged back to normal, but otherwis

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 Purple Simian

Imperial Bodyguard

Bobholt is originally from Teshnos; a complex series of enslavements drew him across Pent and ended up dumping him into the Empire, where he came to the Changing Way and discovered he is a Gorilla Hsunchen, very rare in the Empire.  He is accompanied by Beetle the Beagle, a dog spirit, and Imperius, his Gorilla True Animal companion. He liberated Beetle from a Pentan shaman as part of finally escaping slavery.

He then became a gladiator, noted for his bright purple armor and his love of wine.  His fighting skills and his charm made him a favorite and the Moonson plucked him out of the arena and gave him the job of Bodyguard.  

He is fiercely loyal to the Emperor and sometimes uses his abilities to help people who appeal to him for justice.  He is largely outside Imperial politics.  

Beetle the Beagle

Beetle claims to have been an insect spirit 'in his past life'.  Where Bobholt is basically an amiable lug, Beetle is cunning and looks out for Bobholt's interests.  Those who try to exploit his good nature will find a ready foe in Beetle.  It's unusual for a Hsunchen to have a spirit ally of some other animal kind unless they are a shaman, but Beetle, who can physically manifest as a talking dog, says he's a free spirit and does what he wants.  

Impericus

Once a circus performer, he is now Bobholt's constant companion and backup muscle.  He can perform a variety of strength tricks and acrobatics.  He can juggle babies but is rarely allowed to do so, which frustrates him as it's his best trick.  He and Beetle argue endlessly over which one of them is Bobholt's best friend.  He has a suit of purple armor to match his friend's.  Having hands, Impericus can fight with hand weapons but his hugely potent bite is his best weapon.

Dionor

Dionor is Bobholt's special weapon, made for him by one of the Imperial wizards, a spear which renders whoever it hits drunk.  As with everything the Purple Simian does, it is purple.  

Little Sister

Bobholt has a very obvious, unreturned crush on Little Sister; everyone and their dog knows it.  He becomes too incoherent around her to do anything about it.

Still A Gladiator at Heart

No longer a competitor, he frequently brings the top gladiators to the Emperor's parties and attends the games when he can.  

 

 

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Ducks and the Changing Way

Peloria is woefully short on Ducks, so it wasn't until the conquest of Dragon Pass that Ducks came into the Empire.  Many Ducks embraced the Changing Way, for they already lived in ways compatible with it.  Fishing in the Upland Marsh was always a major component of their lifestyle and farming usually got their crops stolen by raiders anyway.

Ducks now roam the waterways of the Empire in great house boats, trading and fishing.  Some remain in their old homeland, fighting Delicti and hunting marsh monsters.  

This has led to clashes with the Heron People, who prefer the same terrain as the Ducks and, well, Herons like to eat baby Ducklings.  The Heron People don't engage in actual cannibalism (we hope), but the Ducks inherently can't trust them.

Ducks remain organized in extended families known as nests; a group of nests forms a clan and a group of clans forms a tribe.  They continue to organize in a more or less Orlanthi style and still worship some of their old gods, as well as the Blue Moon, the Seven Sailors, and other Blue Moon Gods.  Most notably, the Upland Marsh ducks still swear oaths to Hueymakt, god of Death.

Those Ducks who have undergone the High Challenge regain the power of Flight in their normal form.  (As well as turning into True Ducks to fly)

 

Duck Masterson, Captain of the Glorious Moonrise

Duck Masterson is a Duck, as you might have guessed.  He is the head of a Nest which hauls grains down the Osilira to the Dara Happan cities and finished goods upriver to the southern provinces.  The Glorious Moonrise is a giant housebarge that would be a sitting duck in a dangerous area but can travel safely on the Osilira. Like any good duck, he enjoys smoking tobacco, but tries to ensure Hazia never gets a hold on is crew and he won't haul it.  He is unusually disciplined for a member of the Changing Way;  

In the Empire, Argan Argar is the dominant trade god and has many non-Troll worshippers.  He is only an initiate, but that suffices to aid his trade dealings.  (He's also an initiate in the Changing Way.)  Duck is a wheeler-dealer who sometimes gets in over his head because he's not always as clever as he thinks he is.

Duck is always looking to hire guards for his ship because the last set of guards couldn't take any more shenanigans.

Grod the Ernaldahunter

Grod is a bitter, angry Duck who is a Rune Lord of Hueymakt and uses it to hunt down Ernalda worshippers for the Empire.  The greatest moment of his life was the sacking of the Clearwine Temple.  He now storms around Dragon Pass in the name of the Earthhunters, trying to root out Ernalda worshippers.  Other Hueymakt runelords are annoyed with him for focusing on Ernalda instead of the dead, but several of his siblings were turned into scrambled eggs by a callous priestess as a punishment on his clan and he's going to avenge them.

Peridot the Lucky

Peridot is a cheerful Duck woman, a priestess of the Blue Moon, who wanders the Empire, preaching the glories of the Blue Moon.  She entirely funds herself by gambling; her luck with anything random is incredible, due to her Luck rune.  Most people assume she is eventually headed for a disaster when all that good luck is balanced out.  But she just trips lightly through life, her luck always sustaining her.  This irritates a lot of less lucky people and she's left many towns just slightly ahead of an angry mob.  

 

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Lanbril, Rat People, and the Hobo Association

Lanbril was originally worshipped by thieves in Dragon Pass and Prax and sometimes nearby areas.  He is more important in urbanized areas, but in the modern era, Orlanthi areas tend not to be very organized and other pantheons have their own thief gods.

However, as the Empire rolled into the Southern Provinces, it brought Orlanthi into the Empire.  And Peloria is RICH with cities and urban life and thus theft.  By the time of Sheng Seleris, it had taken deep root and been adopted by enough Changing Way followers that the Empire gave up and it was 'revealed' he was the son of Annila, who stole from the enemies of the Empire.

This succeeded at creating a schism.  Criminal gangs worship Lanbril in the original way, while there is an official cult of Lanbril which sends spies and operatives into the lands around the Empire and into areas in rebellion to rob the enemies of the Empire.  Lanbril Moonchild's cult has open temples and is constantly feuding with Danfive Xaron's cult because they both recruit former criminals.  The old cult is usually called Shadow Lanbril.  

Lanbril is also popular with Rat People, who unlike most Hsunchen, *like cities* even if they don't want be part of civilization in the normal way; cities are ideal for the scavenging lifestyle and so is Lanbril.  Lanbril Ratfriend helps his Rat People followers live on the fringe of society and he is said to be married to Xola the Rat, the Goddess/Spirit of the Rat People.  (Her metaphysical status is ambiguous like that of Kolat.)   

The Dara Happans assert that Lanbril is just Lodril with a sack over his head.  They hate his cult but Imperial law won't let them eject the Rat People from their cities.  

Some Rat People stay in one city; others migrate and they formed the Hobo Association.  It's half a society to help Rat People move around the Empire and half an organized crime society.  The Hobo Association worships Lanbril in his aspect as Lanbril Ratfriend, though a lot of its membership are more of Shadow Lanbril followers.

Imperial scholars have often wondered how the cult of Lanbril could muster enough power to do anything before it became an Imperial cult, how gangs of a few dozen can generate enough power to do miracles of Lanbril.  The correct answer is, of course, that they *steal* it. Anyone initiated to Shadow Lanbril can attend any religious ceremony and steal some of the power for Lanbril.  If a sacrifice is made, Lanbril gets a cut.  If you do this right, the spirits of retaliation won't find you.  Of course, if you've irritated Lanbril or you blow this trick, you are going to be in trouble.  So don't blow it!

Perhaps Lanbril's most annoying (to non-Lanbrili) power is the power to steal other Gods' miracles.  This requires a heroquest and can backfire.  The most common Shadow Lanbril quest is 'Lanbril Steals Orlanth's Sandals of Flight'.  The one which makes outsiders the most nervous is 'Lanbril Steals Eurmal's Pants'.  Even most Lanbrili aren't sure what that one does and they don't want to find out, really.

Runes:

  • Shadow Lanbril:  Illusion and Disorder
  • Lanbril Moonchild:  Illusion and Water
  • Lanbril Ratfriend:  Illusion and Beast

 

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The Imperial Fool

The Imperial Fool is always a Trollkin; upon being initiated into the office (if he or she survives the initiation), they become as smart as a normal human, and indeed smarter in the area of understanding politics and social interaction.  The fool's job is simple - to deflate the egos of the powerful through japes, mockery, and practical jokes.  This tends to make them the most hated person in the Empire among the powerful and most beloved of everyone else.

This job is a punishment because the Fool is inevitably murdered and knows it.  But every moment they cling to life is precious and they are *driven* to do their job.

The current Fool is named Smiley and dresses like a Dara Happan who was caught in a tide of a dozen painbuckets.  Smiley spends some of his time entertaining kids in the orphanages of the capital and the rest of the time tormenting every other imperial official.  He has lasted three years and only needs one more to set an all-time survival record.  The Satrap of Doblian nearly got him, but then somehow mysteriously fell on forty-two knives instead.  The new Satrap avoids the capital.

 

 

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Dara Happans and the Imperial Bureaucracy

Dara Happans face a difficult choice in the Empire.  Abandon Dara Happan society, join the Changing Way, and leave the cities behind for a lifestyle alien to the normal Dara Happan, but have a chance to rise to the top of society.  Or, hold to the way of Yelm, and try to rise in the Imperial Bureaucracy, where you can hold substantial power and keep society from total disruption, but at the cost of always answering to Changing Way people who probably have not bathed all season.

The most ambitious Dara Happans left normal Dara Happan society behind and became all sorts of Hsunchen, though the majority of former Dara Happans become various flavors of Bird-Folk.  These groups collectively call themselves the High Ones or the Night Birds.  They are mostly Eagle, Hawk, and Falcon Hsunchen and they have an intense rivalry with the Rinliddi Bird People.

What remains are those who love urban, civilized life too much to give it up.  To their credit, they have played a major role in the Empire not simply degenerating into nothing but barbarian tribes fighting each other for territory.  The elaborate tributary system which sustains the Hsunchen and keeps the Empire working is heavily maintained by Dara Happans and Pelandans.  If taxes and tribute stopped flowing, the Changing Way tribes would not be able to feed themselves and would have to start killing each other for food.

Some Dara Happans get through each day by dreaming of that.

The Dara Happans who have held to the Solar Pantheon are known as the Faithful (they call themselves that.)  People who don't like them call them the Bull-Headed.  They are organized into noble families which form larger associations that focus on various activities, from war to administration to pursuit of knowledge.  Noble families have client families of artisans and peasants, who are allied to them and get protection from them.  The peasantry especially need protection from Changing Way folk who think they can just take whatever they want.

Several Institutions are heavily staffed by Dara Happans:

  • The Imperial University and the Imperial War College
  • The Imperial Arteries (the Tax and Tribute service)
  • The Hands of the Empire (the Imperial charity service)

 

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The Imperial University and the Imperial War College

The Imperial University is a Dara Happan institution, found in Raibanth.  It is divided into six Colleges - Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Darkness, and War.  It teaches a mixture of lore about the world and magic and is mainly staffed by Dara Happans, Pelandans, priests of Irripi Ontor and shamans of the Changing Way.  A handful of instructors are trolls.  Each college's lore and magic is focused around its element, in a very broad sense.  A student of birds would be in the Fire or Air college, a student of plants in the Earth college, a student of the oceans in the Water college.  No one is entirely sure what the Darkness college teaches because it is run by the trolls and is rather secretive.  The War College's teachers, students, and graduates form an important arm of the military.  

Aguragus Muranu, Falcon Hsunchen and Dean of the Imperial War College

Aguragus is of Dara Happan Ancestry but his family converted to the Changing Way centuries ago.  His brother Kineladan is the Satrap of Doblian; their parents are quite proud of their children.  Aguragus misses going into the field, but he is now knee deep in bureaucratic affairs he doesn't want to deal with, so he allows Assistant Dean Merodach Sige (a Dara Happan Buserian priest) to handle that for him while he focuses on his main interest - study of the Thirteen Mysteries.  He is a priest of Irrippi Ontor, so he considers finding the truth to be the most important thing.  Especially if he can't go into battle any more.

Aguragus' brother keeps trying to get him to blow up Smiley 'or something', but he basically has better things to do than deal with the Imperial Fool.  Not when the Mysteries are calling.

His runes are Water, Truth, and War.  In battle, he generally does things like making your blood boil or having it all rush to your head, or just drowning you; he also is fond of unleashing Water Elementals.  

Assistant Dean Merodach Sige (a Dara Happan Buserian priest) 

Keenly aware that his boss basically is unsuited to run the Imperial War College or really anything at all, it falls to him to do all the man's real work and his own work.  Since he ensures the research funds the Dean wants come in and the Imperial War College Batallions are doing well, he can help out his own kin and promote more competent people, then blame the Dean if others complain.  And the Dean always backs him up so he can be free for the studies that Merodach is sure will inevitably kill him like his last six predecessors.

He hasn't fought in a decade, but his runes are Fire, Truth, and Harmony.  He will just set you on fire if he has to, but prefers to use the Harmony rune to smooth over conflicts.  He is known to despise Jar-Eel's use of the rune to kill people.  (Many members of the War College, however, find this to be hilarious; there was a fad a decade ago to find new ways to kill with Harmony.)

 

The Thirteen Mysteries of the Imperial University

  • The Giant's Eye:  Kept in a huge glass container filled with magically neutral fluid, this eyeball came from some giant.  If removed from the fluid, anyone close to it is filled with random visions of locations around Glorantha - this cannot be controlled but generally, if you can keep your sanity for an hour, you will see something useful.  The problem is that it sometimes does things like make you observe horrible, mind-twisting things.
  • One of Jaldon Goldentooth's Teeth:  If the story is true, one time when Praxians brought back Jaldon, heroic Blue Moon warriors beat him down and stole one of his teeth.  It remains in a box, throbbing with power, but having no clear use.
  • The Golden Hand:  A still-living hand made of gold.  How gold can live remains unclear, and trying to figure out what this came from and why it is still twitching around and trying to escape has defeated many students.
  • The Equation of Death:  Carved into black metal, this kills anyone who reads it.  It's origin is unclear (it was found in the 7th century), but demons show up once a century, try to steal it, and have to be killed.  It is rarely studied for obvious reasons.
  • The Golden Falcon of Desire:  Anyone who looks at this jewel-encrusted golden falcon statuette is seized with lust for it.  They will kill to have it.  It is kept inside an elaborate crystal cage which neutralizes this power... usually.   The only clue to its origin is the stylized Humakt Rune carved into the base.  It does not seem to grant any proficiency in killing.
  • The Golden Letter:  Mysterious writing covers this flimsy gold foil, about nine inches long and three inches wide.  It clearly was once wrapped around something shaped like a very small rectangular box.  The other side of it has a few large letters; most of the writing was once on the inside.  This is extremely ancient.  
  • The Rudder:  A giant golden rudder; some think it was once part of Anaxial's ark.  It's big enough, anyway.
  • A stuffed and preserved giant red dog god:  This is the last remains of a forgotten god of dogs. His name is lost, but shamans of dog spirits find their magic enhanced near it.
  • The Storm's Eye:  Imagine a diamond the size of your fist with a raging storm inside it.  It enhances Air magic near it but it's believed to have other powers if they can be figured out.  
  • The Scroll of Vanishing:  Written in the Dara Happan Script, these words, if written, cause the reader to vanish.  They are not dead, but no one who has read it has ever returned to tell the tale.
  • The Attractive Gas:  Another giant diamond holds a roiling black gas.  Anything which comes within about a hundred feet of this diamond and weighs 50 pounds or less eventually drifts over to clump around it.  Heavier objects feel a pull but the heavier the object, the less it becomes.  It was found in the aftermath of a battle with Sheng Seleris, inside a clump of objects it had drawn to itself.
  • The Pusher Stone:  The Pusher looks just like the Attractive Gas, but it pushes things away from itself instead of drawing them in.  However, it dates back to the era of the Bright Empire and it has Nysalor's name carved into one facet
  • The Black Book:  A tome of Darkness Magic.  .  It is very hard to understand, written in dense, symbolic language.  It claims to be full of Arkat's secrets.  It's certainly full of mind traps and has destroyed many would-be students.
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The Imperial Arteries (the Tax and Tribute service)

What keeps the empire going is two things:

  • The imperial military redirects the aggression of the Hsunchen out against the Empire's enemies
  • The Imperial Arteries ensure the empire has money and goods to support the farms and cities it needs to be more than roaming, angry tribes.

The Arteries have two major divisions - Taxes and Tribute.  Taxes are collected for the use of the imperial bureaucracy; tribute is collected to be distributed to the Tribes.  Both are divided into Divisions which correspond to the Provinces of the Empire.  Both are supervised by the Blue Sentinels to ensure minimal corruption.  Both suffer a lot of corruption anyway.

While the very top of both agencies are headed by Hsunchen, men (and women) of the cities staff most jobs.  Every so often, the Moonson appoints someone competent to the top jobs, but mostly, they sign things and try to fake not being confused by the constant hail of numbers.  The real masters of this agency are the Division Chiefs, who are literate, educated, urban men of prominent families, who ensure the flow of money and goods keeps flowing and only steal a little of it for themselves.  A skilled Division Chief learns what the top leaders want to hear and ensures they hear it.  They also figure out how to handle the Satraps and how to pick agents who can deal with the Tribes without either being murdered or killing themselves.

The trickiest part of the job is collecting the tribute that the Tribes owe to the Emperor; often, this is a matter of the Arteries delivering tributes *to* the Tribes, then getting a portion of it back later in the year, either after some kind of processing, or just handed over.  

The second hardest part is navigating the maze of centuries of special rights and privileges, laws that need updating, and decrees handed out on the whim of the Moonson.  The chaos and death spread by Sheng Seleris made this worse by killing many people who understood what various legal terms meant.  The Gabelle is a Salt Tax.  This knowledge was lost due to the disruption of the Salt Monopoly by Sheng Seleris; one Steed of the Moonson decided it was a tax on beards - this led to the Year Without A Beard.  Even now, no one is *sure* it's a tax on salt but there was no tax on it, so...

Officials of the Arteries often face violence as well; it's a dangerous job.  They often have to hire adventurers when they can't get enough soldiers to ensure something unpopular gets collected.

Sophia Kotzias, Tax Collector of the Holay Division

Sophia is a Pelandan, born on the shores of Lake Oronin.  She trained at Little Sister's Academy and went straight into the Arteries.  This is her second posting - she originally served in Doblian but after the death of its Satrap, she applied for a transfer out and ended up in Holay, where she feels safer.

Sophia is an intellectual and struggles to relate to the Hsunchen of her province; she is more comfortable around the urban folk and the farmers and since she handles taxes, she can largely avoid the Hsunchen.  In her spare time, she is developing an elaborate geometric model of the planets; anyone she hires gets an earful of this.  One day, she hopes to retire and fully develop it.

But right now, she's having to deal with the problem that various Hsunchen keep robbing the people she has to tax, and she needs some way to stop them when the government favors them over her poor people, as she's come to see them.  

Moumis Kissara, Tribute Collector and Eagle Hsunchen

Moumis is a secret agent.  He deliberately took the Changing Way and his family disowned him publically.  In actuality, he funnels resources from the Arteries to the Kissara clan as best he can, aided by the fact that the Hsunchen are terrible at administration and ignore things like records.  So if he squeezes 2000 bushels of wheat out of the stupid Lodril-worshipping peasants when only 1500 are owed to the Reindeer-Morons of Thrice Blessed, he can divert 400 to his family and sell 100 for himself. 

The danger, of course, is that the Blue Sentinels will catch him.   But he'll cross that bridge when he has to.  As a Hsunchen, the Blue Sentinels are more likely to assume he screwed up, anyway.

He's been cultivating contacts for that day just in case, though.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, dumuzid said:

I'm curious about the Blue Moon Empire's relationship with Artmal, the Blue Moon's previous Moonson.  Is he worshiped in the Empire?

e: also, what effects the Blue Moon's return had on the Veldang of Pamaltela

*I totally forgot*, that's what happened.

I have put my planned post on hold, because you have inspired me with answers to that question.

The Liberation Crusade

In the God Time, the Blue Moon gave birth to Artmal, who commanded a mighty empire in Pamaltela.  Unfortunately for him, the Storm Gods and the Gods of Pamaltela both hated him, for they were jealous of his glory.  And so the Gods of Pamaltela manipulated the Storm Gods into attacking him.  We can be sure that Ernalda was behind this, for she is the mother of Evil.   Pamalt is just another man she controlled with her wicked ways.

And so one of the goals of the Empire is to liberate the Veldang, enslaved by the monstrous gods of Fonrit.  This is why the Empire has pushed south; they need ports, where a great fleet can be built, so that they can conquer Fonrit and liberate the children of the Blue Moon.

When imperial forces reached the sea, escapees from Fonrit arrived to beg for their aid, helping to build Corflu.  But Corflu isn't good enough; the Mirrorsea Bay is needed, where conditions are better for fleet building.  But the Holy Pirates operate out of Corflu, raiding Fonrit and liberating those who can be saved.

Further, imperial researchers are working on the proper quests to free Artmal himself, who languishes in chains in the Underworld.

Emperor Igneus was especially devoted to this crusade, but since his death, things have not gone as well.  

The Cult of Artmal Firstson (Water, War)

There are priests of Artmal in the Empire, most commonly found among the Veldang refugees.  It is a war cult, focused on the need to free Artmal and end Fonrit.  High Priest Cheikh Thrice-Scarred (Water, War, Movement) is the leader.   Full Devotees tend to be obsessive anyway but he is obsessed by that standard.  He is determined to see the crusade through and has committed everything he has to the southern wars, so that the Crusade may come.

Worshippers of Artmal Firstson wear broken chain lengths as part of their clothing and are generally discontent with the Moonson's current steed.  They also clash with those Hsunchen groups who practice slavery and have preached to Catticus that slavery should end in the Empire.

This included one incident in which Cheikh sat in a chair and lectured him for three hours while he was cavorting with his harem.  Unfortunately for Cheikh, Catticus seems to find him to be hilarious.  

There are rumors the cult is looking to move Moonson on to a less degenerate steed.  But Catticus doesn't seem to feel threatened at all.

 

Edited by John Biles
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Thank you!

Follow-up question: what about the next-most-famous children of the Blue Moon, the Zaranistangi?  In mainline Glorantha an army of them appeared in Fonrit after the Red Moon first rose.  They wore red robes, and led the Veldang in a decade of glorious liberation before mysteriously disappearing again.

Has the new Blue Moon opened the path for them to become loper-hsunchen?

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7 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

Thank you!

Follow-up question: what about the next-most-famous children of the Blue Moon, the Zaranistangi?  In mainline Glorantha an army of them appeared in Fonrit after the Red Moon first rose.  They wore red robes, and led the Veldang in a decade of glorious liberation before mysteriously disappearing again.

Has the new Blue Moon opened the path for them to become loper-hsunchen?

So I looked up their history-- what a weird history they had.

The Coming of the Zaranistangi

The history of the Zaranitangi is a complicated one with many mysteries; it remains unclear to outsiders why they moved from Teshnos to Slontos.  They claim they were hired to defend it, but the Slontans invited the Middle Sea Empire to save them from the Zaranistangi.  They were hideously defeated by the Seshnegi and only escaped by teleporting to the Blue Moon, where they dwelled until the Blue Moon took on human flesh and walked among us.

The surprise arrival of the Zaranistangi turned the tide of the First Glorious Battle; they teleported down from the Moon and landed behind the enemy forces, tearing into them and taking captives for sacrifice.  They sacrifice a human to the goddess every two weeks.  Today, it's usually people slated for capital punishment, though war captives sometimes are sacrificed as well.

The Zaranistangi are now Loper Hsunchen, the most elite force of the Empire, usually found on the frontlines of conquest.  They are staunch supporters of the Liberation Crusade, for they are ancient friends of the Artmali.  They also seek the Red Sword of Tolat, long lost, but once their treasured possession.

They worship both Tolat and the Blue Moon Goddess.  Tolat is seen as part of the Blue Moon Pantheon, for he is the Brother of the Blue Moon.  Typically men initiate to Tolat and women to the Blue Moon Goddess.  Both bring the benefits of the Changing Way.

Lopers are strange creatures - take a cat, make it the size of a horse, give it the durable hide of a rhino instead of fur, and give it the pack instincts of a dog.  Lopers are supremely quiet and highly skilled at ambush and evasion.  Rites of Tolat enable Lopers to teleport, but this is sufficiently resource-consuming that it is used for only the most important situations.  However, Lopers can only teleport if the Blue Moon or Tolat are in the sky, as they teleport to one of the two, then back to Glorantha at their new location.  They also can only teleport outdoors.

Queen Denius Bloodyhands is the leader of the Zaranistangi, whose clans all form a single tribe.  She glories in war and strongly supports the liberation crusade; she is High Priest Cheikh Thrice-Scarred's closest ally; like him, she is not very happy with Catticus, but Catticus doesn't stop her killing enemies of the Empire, so she hasn't done anything about it.

She is known to have a great distaste for Jar-Eel the Razoress, though it's not entirely clear why, since Jar-Eel is certainly closer to her ideal of killing for the Blue Moon than Catticus is.  It may simply be related to her despising Beat Pot Aelwin as a filthy Pentan, even though he's embraced the Changing Way.  

She is also known to have mixed feelings about Harrek the Berserk - admiring his ferocity and strength, but being displeased he killed Igneous, who was more of her kind of Moonson.

 

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The Hands of the Empire (the Imperial charity service)

The Hands were created at Little Sister's insistence centuries ago.  She continues to appoint the heads of the agency.  They receive funds from the Imperial Arteries to use for charitable purposes, though they also get donations from wealthy citizens trying to buy Little Sister's favor.

A portion of tribute and taxes is turned into food and drink, given to the poor in every city, and another portion used for disaster response and a third portion runs imperial orphanages, in conjunction with Teela Nori's cult.  A fourth section runs the Imperial Hospitals.  

The Hands serve an important purpose - keeping the poor from rising up and casting the Empire into chaos.  While they probably couldn't beat the army, why take that chance?  While some Handsmen and women are motivated by altruism, the top leadership spends a lot of time figuring out how best to use the agency's resources to defuse popular dissent.

The Hands face an especial crisis in the new southern lands, where the locals are prone to butcher and rob the Hands, who are generally treated as sacrosanct in the Empire proper.  There is a lot of work here for adventurers to protect Handsmen and women.

East Raibanth Imperial Soup Kitchen

A major distribution point for the Dole to the poor.  They turn everything into soup and give out big cannisters of it.  This requires secure food caravans which get raided sometimes, and a constant struggle with Dara Happans who feel their client-lord relations are being threatened by the hospital.  They could use someone good at diplomacy.  Or caravan guarding.

FEEBLE (Fantastic Evacuation and Emergency Bureau of Limited Extent) 

Nothing irritates members of FEEBLE more than their name, the fruit of an old bureaucratic struggle that ended with their rival agency (WISE - Wandering Institution of State Emergencies) being destroyed by the Great Collapsing Bozkrung Disaster (a disaster so intense that no one can remember what actually happened).  But it amuses the Moonson to not change it.

FEEBLE is the first line of response to emergencies, as long as they happen close to the capital of a satrapy; otherwise, it takes days to weeks to get staff in place.  FEEBLE throws up emergency housing tents, supplies food and water, and mobilizes labor to fix the damage.  This usually causes the budget to run out, leading to problems.

FEEBLE also deals with things which require hiring adventurers, like rampaging gorp in the streets or a Walktapus eating a wealthy family's house.  

Sailor Teelo Nori Hospital and Orphanage - Jonstown

Three long buildings connected by covered walkways; the east wing is a hospital, the west wing is an orphanage, and the middle contains a cafeteria, offices, and a shrine to Teelo Nori.  With great effort, they have built bridges to the Chalanna Arroy temple in town for cooperation, but are on bad terms with the Jonstown Library because the orphanage school is run by Irippi Ontor priests.  

The buildings proper are well protected, but they have constant problems with raiders and bandits stealing from their medical supply caravans.  Adventurers are needed.

 

 

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The Blue Sentinels

The Blue Sentinels are the secret police of the Empire, a combination of Internal Affairs for every agency and actual spies.  They have an alliance with the Blue Moon Assassins but usually operate less messily and on their own.

The Blue Sentinels have three branches:  Inspectors, Agents, and Hammers.  Inspectors openly police the agencies, looking for corruption.  Agents work inside the agencies, spying on their co-workers for the Blue Sentinels.  And the Hammers are brought in when those exposed decide to go violent instead of being arrested... or when someone is too politically strong to arrest and has to be assassinated.

Most Inspectors and Hammers are Hsunchen; most Agents are Dara Happans and Pelandans.  However, True Animals also work for the agency as Agents and Hammers; many a corrupt official has given away his crimes in front of his pet cat and never knew it was reporting to the Blue Sentinels.

The Blue Sentinels sometimes call in Adventurers when they need a nut cracked that they can't openly break.  There are also cases where they stumble on things like Chaos Cults, where they would rather hire adventurers, who can go mad or be corrupted without wrecking Sentinel operations.

Some Agents are planted in other countries to act as spies; those Agents, known as Deep Blue, may be virtually anything, even including Mostali, Elves, and the like. Some claim Deep Blue was behind the death of Emperor Igneous, though given Harrek hacked him into kibble in front of many witnesses, most people assume that, in fact, this is a false rumor.

Anyone who kills a Blue Sentinel will eventually be targeted by the Blue Moon Assassins.

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

Catticus Live From Moonbroth Oasis

Emperor Catticus was not what people expected after Igneous.  Catticus took measures to deal with this - he commanded the conquest of Prax, to try and open an alternate route to the sea, since the Holy Country was still holding out.  The Sable Hsunchen of the Empire helped recruit the Sable Riders and in 1610, they crushed the forces of Prax and soon seized Pavis and the length of the Zora Fell River Valley.

In 1611, they made contact with refugees from Fonrit, the Veldang, descendants of the Artmali Empire.  Catticus stunned everyone by coming to Prax and staging a great holy rite with the leaders of the refugees at Moonbroth Oasis.  Carried out during Sacred Time at the end of the year, the rite was also conducted at every temple of the Empire which is part of the Blue Moon Pantheon.  More people watched the Moonson's rite than had ever seen any previous Imperial rite or ever seen the Moonson at the same time.

Much of the rite consisted of the Moonson leading a choir of selected Blue Moon singers and Artmali Firstson singers.  Several times, the Moonson sung solo, singing popular music.  A force of memory spirits stored the entire experience for later watching; the Moonson often will watch parts of this concert when he is most melancholy, to cheer himself up.

The effect of the rite was to bring Prax into the Empire, but also to strengthen the Artmali Firstson cult and advance the Liberation Crusade.

Noted Catticus Solo  Songs from the Rite:

  • Elven Beds Are Burning
  • I Fought the Law Rune and the Rune Won
  • My Way (Or You Will Die)
  • Blue Saird Shoes
  • You Are Nothing But A Loper, So Please Do Not Eat Me
  • Blue Moon Over Prax
  • Welcome to My Empire

There have been recurring plans for a similar rite in Sartar, but the place is so unstable, they have not been able to do it yet.  The great ampitheater in Boldhome sits ready for use, but is constantly being desecrated.

 

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35 minutes ago, John Biles said:

Noted Catticus Solo  Songs from the Rite:

  • Elven Beds Are Burning
  • I Fought the Law Rune and the Rune Won
  • My Way (Or You Will Die)
  • Blue Saird Shoes
  • You Are Nothing But A Loper, So Please Do Not Eat Me
  • Blue Moon Over Prax
  • Welcome to My Empire

Very good

35 minutes ago, John Biles said:
  • You Are Nothing But A Loper, So Please Do Not Eat Me

But this one I don't recognize. Please help (I need somebody help).

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Tea Parties

Ever since the poisoning of three Satraps at a single tea party, covert struggles between Imperial leaders, noble families, and other groups have been known as Tea Parties.  Tea Parties are theoretically illegal, but in practice, the most powerful people have to screw up very hard and obviously to be punished.

The ideal Tea Party is an attack so subtle your foe never knows who was behind it and there is no violence - poisoning someone at a party, getting them infected with a fatal disease, having them transferred to a deadly posting.  But in practice, this involves gladiator riots, mercenary assassins, summoned monsters, and magical or mundane traps. 

Tea Parties which escalate too much will be shut down by the Blue Sentinels, and by 'shut down', I mean 'everyone dies'.   

Member of the Changing Way also sometimes challenge each other to duels; duelling is legal but not obligatory, though refusing will lower your reputation and status.  Some Changing Way folk engage in Tea Parties, but they're more likely to ask for a Duel.  Some Duels are held during Games; in those cases, you must formally apply and the winner gets a prize in addition to whatever stake the duel had on its own.  Both must agree to take it to the Games, but few turn down the chance.

The Games

The Empire has two kinds of Games:  The most prestigious but rare are the Imperial Games, a contest held every 7 years in which athletes compete in

  • Chariot Racing
  • Horse Racing
  • Foot Racing (individual races, relay races)
  • The Javelin Throw
  • Archery
  • Trollkin Throwing
  • Wrestling
  • Swordfighting
  • Baklan (explained later)
  • Poetry
  • Musical Performance
  • Swimming (individual races, relay races)
  • Polo

The most prestigious event is the Seven Duels - seven pairs of duelists fight each other for the entertainment of all.  These are real duels for whatever stakes the duellists set.  All duels are voluntary.  There is *intense* competition to be allowed to have your duel during the Imperial Games because the winner of each duel gets a prize as well as whatever duel stake was set.  

There is often also dramatic performances, animal shows, and sometimes animal fighting.

Lesser Games are held more often in every major city; these games tend to have a lot of gladiatorial fighting and sometimes spectacles like 're-enacting' heroic battles.  One way of gaining popularity is to stage a Lesser Game, for the entertainment of the public.

 

 

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Satraps

The empire is divided into Provinces, each of which is ruled by a Satrap.  (In the South, Satraps are also usually King or Queen of a country which has been brought under the Empire's sway).  Each Satrap is a member of the Changing Way, though most have a deputy who is not and who does the tedious parts of the job for them.

Satraps oversee the enforcement of Imperial Law, the collection of Taxes and Tribute, and military affairs.  They can issue regulations for their province so long as they don't contradict Imperial Law.  Satraps are typically drawn from a different province than the one they govern.  (Kostaddi, ruled by the Sable People, is an exception to this rule.)  Several War Tribes + Imperial forces answer to them.

Many Satraps die at Tea Parties because ambitious underlings want their job, but the power is so great that people keep accepting the job anyway.

Carmanians refer to the four Carmanian Satraps as 'Lion Satraps', which doesn't mean anything but lets the pretend they are not just subjects of the Empire.

The War Provinces

South of Tarsh are the War Provinces, which are governed by Hyparchs, military governors.  Sartar, the Holy Country, and Prax are the three War Provinces.  They are under military rule and military law until the rebellions can be put down. Imperial citizens can appeal to imperial courts if accused of a crime in these areas.  Subject peoples cannot.

If a foothold is gained in Fonrit, a fourth War Province is planned there.

 

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The Char-Un

If you can't beat them, join them.  The Char-Un were one of many Pentan tribes who kept invading the Empire.  Most of them still haven't learned to stop doing so, but the Char-Un realized that if you can't beat them, join them.  The Empire had shown its strength.  So they adopted the Changing Way and became Horse Hsunchen.

But at their heart, they're still a collection of people who believe that they are the greatest and everyone else must submit to them or die.  They're really good at burning, pillaging, and murder, and basically useless for anything else.  So they are a war tribe and have been ever since they joined.  

The Empire has never been on good terms with Elves - the basic problem is that they compete for forests with some of the Hsunchen nations and they are not interested in the Changing Way.  So when the Char-Un joined up, the Moonson called down a great hailstorm that laid waste to an Elf Forest, then the Char-Un burned most of the forest away and took over the new steppe - Erigia.  It's not very good land but since they bring in huge amounts of war plunder, it doesn't matter.  Ironically, the 'Tame Forest' which remains is tended by their slaves and they sell a lot of timber to the eastern Empire.

The Char-Un conduct a yearly ritual in which they kill the old Mother of the Forest.  This staves off her taking revenge on them for another year.  

Great Khan Orgun the Fat is their leader; outsiders bet on which one of his khans will murder him, since he's basically become unfit for combat.  He remains a cruel, hateful man and any khans who don't do a good job of rebelling will end up dead by slow torture.  Orgun remains confident he will not be overthrown - prophecy says he will die at the hands of 'someone greater than himself', and none of his khans are greater than he is.

Etregia, Great Khanate of the Char-Un

For thousands of years, this area was taiga - semi-arctic forest.  Ideal for some forest hsunchen but mainly occupied by Elves.  They were slaughtered by the Moonfall and then their goddess was killed by Great Khan Panishi, and the Mother of the Forest keeps being killed annually.

It is now mostly half-frozen grassland of low quality, a lousy place to live.  It contains a patch of harvested forest known as the Tame Forest; every so often, an elf is born and has to be hunted down.  Mostly, it's harvested for timber.  

The Char-Un serve as a war tribe all the time so they can get plunder and tribute to keep themselves afloat; any time of peace means the gravy train stops running.  

The Char-Un keep slaves - some of them are to run the timbering business.  Others fish in Lake Char; the capital, Char-Un City, sits by the lake; it's basically a palace complex for the Great Khan; each Khan has a Dark Season refuge and otherwise, they roam, forming tent communities.  Tribute and loot are brought to these palaces for distribution.

Most of the menfolk are away at war for most of the year or somethings all of the year, leaving the women to run the place themselves.  The remaining slaves do the grunt work, freeing Khanate women to work on becoming as horrible as their husbands.  

 

The Changing Way and the Elves

Elves have largely rejected the Changing Way; they need the bright light of the Sun to flourish (which is why they backed Nyaslor) and they have no interest in becoming linked to meat creatures.  A few elves *have* converted.  They become just about any kind of forest-dwelling animal and typically are adopted into an appropriate clan, though they remain an elf in their mannish  form.

This has resulted in several elf nations being wiped out by Moonfalls -- hideously destructive rains of hail, usually followed by mundane troops burning the remains of the woods in the normal way.  The Elven Kingdoms of Rist and Erigia were both destroyed in this way.

The Elves have an especial hatred of the Char-Un, because of the destruction of Eregia and its occupation by the Char-Un.  They have tried several times to ruin the annual killing of the Mother of the Forest without success.

One group of elves has headed to Southeastern Genertla on a special mission related to this, though outsiders don't know what their goal is.  Calaskar the Relentless, known to have sworn revenge on the Char-Un, leads this expedition.  He is a powerful and angry priest of Halmalio (known as Yelmalio among humans).  Unusually for an Elf, he wears armor made out of trollskin leather.    

The Hellwood of Dorastor is another such response to Imperial persecution of Elves.  

 

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I wonder whether the former White Bear Empire of northern Fronela might rise again with Etyries replacing the God of the Silver Feet in your alternate timeline.

All it takes is to let Harrek destroy Lord Death on a Horse, and inherit what Black Hralf the Weasel had in Snodal's time. Skinning Rathor still remains an option.

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

I wonder whether the former White Bear Empire of northern Fronela might rise again with Etyries replacing the God of the Silver Feet in your alternate timeline.

All it takes is to let Harrek destroy Lord Death on a Horse, and inherit what Black Hralf the Weasel had in Snodal's time. Skinning Rathor still remains an option.

Hmm, an interesting idea.  Using a diety who doesn't exist solely to die makes it more interesting, anyway.

The God of the Silver Feet is the Mr. Body of Glorantha.

Etryes, the Dead Goddess of Conversion Through Trade (Communications, Earth)

The precise origin of Etryes is unclear to historical scholars.  She was born in the first century of the Empire, a poor girl in a Dara Happan City.  But when the Moonson passed the Ten Tests, she had a vision and spontaneously became a member of the Changing Way, a Horse Hsunchen.  The Moonson felt her awakening and passed her into the care of the Seven Sailors, who saw her purpose.  She would spread the Changing Way through Trade - her followers would be the advance agents of the Changing Way, introducing it to new peoples, who would then be brought into the Empire.

(Trade inside the Empire was handled by both Argan Argar and Etryes initiates and the two cults often clashed.)

Etryes served the Empire for many years and apothesized, going to dwell on the Blue Moon, though she sometimes returned to Glorantha (when people heroformed her).

The flight of many Imperials into Fronela during the murder-rape-theft spree of Sheng Seleris led to the foundation of the colony of Arrolia, but it also panicked many Fronelans; a group of wicked thugs and thieves gathered in a secret place, then forced one of the Arrolians to heroform Etryes and then killed her.  They claimed they were saving Fronela from being drowned by Zzabur, but from what is known of Zzabur, what reason would he have to drown Fronela?  She is now locked in a Hell the Empire has been unable to pierce, though they have been steadily whittling away the defenses and that seems to be gradually breaking the 'Syndic's Ban', as it is called.

In her absence, Argan Argar has taken over her job, but simply isn't as good at it, though he has a talent for trade with non-humans that she never did.

Any hero who could break her out of Hell would most certainly earn themselves vast glory and a place as one of the Immortals of the Empire.

 

A post on the White Bear Empire will come later.

 

 

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The New White Bear Empire

The spread of the Changing Way has sometimes taken odd turns and twists.  The Seleran Wars of the 1300 and 1400s drove refugees into Fronela, who settled along the Janube in which is now known as Arrolia.  From there, the servants of Etryes built a trade network which further spread the Changing Way outside the Empire.  The Rathori accepted it eagerly and used its teachings to resurrect their ancient mentor, the White Bear.

It was Black Hralf who turned the Rathori into the White Bear Empire.  Imperial Scholars have reason to believe that he tampered with the Gate of Banir and vanished; he later returned, now commanding powers of Chaos and took command of the Rathori, leading them to conquer everything and its dog.  He might well have conquered all of Fronela, but the Syndics, a conspiracy led by Prince Snodal of Loksalm, murdered Etryes and brought down the Syndic's Ban.  (We think he also killed Black Hralf as part of this process, but it's unclear.)

The Rathori were cast into endless hibernation during the period of the Ban.  Eventually, they began to awaken and the one known now as Harrek the Berserk would pass into the Empire, where he became a gladiator and eventually killed Emperor Igneous.  He fled the Empire before he could be apprehended and passed back into Rathori lands where he slew the White Bear or possibly was slain by it... whatever happened, he now became White Bear King of the Rathori, who he led into battle with the Kingdom of War.

The death of Lord Death on a Horse, who Harrek beat to death with his own limbs, cemented both Harrek's position as the Superhero of the Death Rune, and left him free to contemplate other conquests.

Most expect he will seize Arrolia, then push east into the Empire; certain Imperial prophesies make it clear he and Jar-Eel will one day do battle for the fate of two empires.

Given the ongoing tensions between Loksalm and the White Bear Empire, he may well get bogged down in warfare there for a while, however.

The White Bear Empire practices the Changing Way but does not recognize the authority of the Moonson.  Nor does it have much of an organizational structure - everything is *personal* in the White Bear Empire.  Tribute is the heart of the system - there is no real taxation.

The Char-Un have been skirmishing with the White Bear forces, whose heavy bear cavalry hits like a hammer but struggles to keep up with the faster Char-Un forces.  The White Bear also fields spear wielding infantry and deadly archers.

The four western Satraps are all calling for abandoning Sartar and focusing on the growing threat in the West, but the Moonson doesn't seem concerned, oddly enough.

 

 

 

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Arrolian League

The Arrolian cities were settled/taken over/fled into by Imperial Refugees during the Seleran Wars.  During the Syndic's Ban, all five cities were cut off from each other; all five are out of the Ban now, but one of them is just *gone*; details of Donaros below.

The surviving cities have formed a league against the White Bear Empire.  Some within the league wish to join the Blue Moon Empire and gain its protection.  Others basically see it as corrupt and no longer trust it.  Many, as usual, have incoherent opinions or are too busy surviving to care.

The River Goddess Janube is seen as the daughter of the Blue Moon; she is important to Arrolian culture and is the second most common goddess for women to initiate to after the Blue Moon herself.  

The Arrolian cities are home to refugees from the cities of the Blue Moon Empire, while the Hsunchen live in the countryside around the cities.  Each city has a ruling council and trades goods for food with the countryside folk; in theory, this is tribute and gifts, but the Hsunchen don't have as much power in Arrolia.  The city folk need them, though, in order to eat.  

The Hsunchen rule over Orlanthi clans, who worship Orlanth and Janube, with Heler as a popular god (he acts as God of both Rain and Fishermen here).  The Arrolian Orlanthi live in houses built on stilts; the reason is that the Janube floods their lands during the first week of Sea Season, depositing silt.  This makes the land fertile.  Some Arrolian Orlanthi are able to build on high ground and certain facilities, like smithies, are built either on a hill or rock formations or something else very stable and elevated.  

Alorket, City of Philosophers:  This city is dominated by Pelandan refugees who spent the period of the Ban organizing their state upon the principals of Anatoli's Ideal Republic.  This involves seven castes, based upon the Seven Sailors.  This seemed to work fine under the Ban, but people are no longer being called to the castes in the right proportions to make society function and the lower castes are getting cranky about being on the bottom.  

Donaros, Home of the Hungry Dead:  Once the biggest city in Arrolia, during the Ban, the city was cut off from the countryside.  Hsunchen and Orlanthi clans fought each other bloodily outside it, in their own pocket, ending in both groups being wrecked, while in the city, unable to get out or get food, they killed and ate each other.  Now the city is full of hungry ghosts and undead, and the countryside around it is a wasteland home to crazed cannibals, some of whom have turned into ogres.  This is a problem for river traffic.

Eastpoint, City of Sorcery:   This city goes back to the Jrustelli Empire, when it marked the eastern border (in Fronela).  Lunar refugees took over in 1392 and have ruled it ever since.  It was settled by a mixture of Carmanians and Dara Happans who have joined with the local into their own micro-culture of Eastpoint.  The College of Many Arts is the center of society; those who can pass the entrance exams and learn sorcery join the ruling class - everyone else is second class.   Initiation to Jakeel or Irrippi Ontor is common here.  There is a strong tension between city folk and the country Hsunchen.  In 1598, the high priestess of Jakeel built an impossible monument in the heart of the city; it shouldn't be able to hold itself up and looking at it for too long hurts your mind.  But it opened the way for Moon Boat traffic to and from the Empire.  

Riverjoin, City of Guilds:  This city has been controlled by artisans and the Lunar refugees were simply integrated into the city's guilds on their arrival.   During the Ban, they defeated the Hsunchen and forced *them* to pay tribute; the Changing Way and its deities are common here, but the city folk are driving the bus and rural Hsunchen and Orlanthi both pay tribute to the city.  It is run by a council of guilds.  

Southbank, the Eleventh Dara Happan City:   Taken over by Dara Happans, the city is run as much like one of the Ten Cities as possible.  Or so they think - the city is a strange fusion of Blue Moon and Solar religion, with Yelm as the husband of the Blue Moon.  The city is a matriarchy, but they will insist this is the true way to worship Yelm and the Solar gods.  Southbank has the most intense conflict between those who see the Empire as 'having gone astray from the true Path of the Moon and the Sun' and those who know only the Empire can save them from the White Bear Empire.  (Loksalm could try but they are sad little heretics.)

 

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