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Alternate Lunar Empire

John Biles

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A Myth of the Seven Sailors - Danfive Xeron

The early history of Danfive Xeron is irrelevant to the man he became - a man who looked like him did crimes and was chosen to atone by his aid in the Sojournor's Voyage.  That man is dead.  What was worth saving in him became Danfive Xeron.  His cult is a cult of death and rebirth.  Through sorrow and pain, we purge our sins and become new people, free of them.

There is no power without a price and we have paid it through our pain and sorrow.  Danfive purged the Seven Sailors of their sins by his suffering.  He is the sacrifice.  Danfive smites the wicked, that they might also be purged and reborn as he was.

At the Battle of All Directions, he helped Irrippi Ontor to strike down the Carmanian Fire Magi.  But that was not his main contribution to the battle.  He helped design the tunnels used to ambush the enemy.  But that wasn't his main contribution either.

Danfive can fight, but his battles are not fought face to face.  That's how idiots fight.  Danfive put on the Mask of Ganestarus, which he had already procured for the goddess, and entered the enemy camp before the battle.

He egged them on to fight with all their strength - so they would fight stupidly.

He listened to the plans of the enemy leaders - so he could report them to the Blue Moon.

He helped feed their cavalry - so he could slip slow-acting poison into their food.

He put on the Mask of Uleria and seduced an officer, who spilled his secrets to Danfive.

And he reassured the Shah of Shahs that he was invincible and could just ride over these insolent defiers of his all powerful will.

Then Danfive fled, because laughing hysterically at the Shah of Shahs might have ruined everything.

Then he returned, knowing he had guaranteed victory.  He shared all he learned with the Blue Moon, and she blessed him, for she treasures every kind of service done for her.

Aid the Virtuous and punish the wicked, that is the way of Danfive Xeron.  The problem, of course, is that there is *so much* wickedness.

But that is a story for another time.

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A Myth of the Seven Sailors - Deezola

The Rinliddi have many strengths, but unity was rarely one of them.  Deezola was but one of many queens and kings, jealous of their rights and prerogatives, unable to unite in the face of the Carmanian Bull Horde.  But her justice and mercy drew a great warrior, Yanafal Tarnils to her, and... it was not enough.

It was the arrival of Irrippi Ontor that brought them hope.  Seven were gathered, and the Blue Moon rose again.

But that is a story for another time.

Deezola was not a front line fighter - she was a healer.  It was her job to put everyone back together again.  

Before the battle, she spoke words of encouragment to the men to strengthen them for the battle.

During the initial skirmishes, she healed the skirmishers.

When the main battle was joined, she healed those who were too hurt to fight on.  She knew the battle plan; they had to hold until it could be unleashed.  But the casualties were coming too fast to keep up.  

A unit of Hare Hsunchen broke before the onslaught - Hares are not made to fight, she knew.  Sometimes, everyone must fight.  But she rallied them and put them to work helping her to heal.  Their tender care enabled the injured to return to the fray.

And when the battle was over, she began to heal the survivors of both sides.  Danfive Xeron confronted her.  "They are evil and deserve to suffer; only by that suffering can they be reborn."

"They have suffered enough.  Not everyone is metal who needs to be beaten into shape," she told him.  "Some will only harden their hearts when struck, who might mend their ways if shown mercy."

They argued until one of the soldiers groaned, then she turned to her work.

He frowned, but departed to do his duties.

Duty is what holds us together as we each walk different roads, as city folk live by law and country folk by custom, city folk by cunning and country folk by strength.  We need both.  Some people need to be made to repent and others will see the light by gentler means.

Truth is particular.  So are love and mercy.  But for Deezola, love and mercy is the better way.

And when that fails, she has the other Sailors to lean upon.

That is why we are many, so together, we are stronger, yet many still.  




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A Myth of the Seven Sailors - Teelo Nori

Teelo is the most mysterious and least mysterious of the Seven Sailors at once; she was an orphan, a child on the verge of adulthood, and her early life is well chronicled in the Chronicles of Teelo Nori, though most scholars assume that book is 99% made up.  Most of it is suspiciously similar to a variety of stories told of other holy children across Peloria.

During the period the Blue Moon spent among us, she rode Teelo as her horse, in the same way that the Moonson rides his steeds today.  When she ascended, she and Teelo Nori were parted from each other, and sometimes Teelo walked among us once more when she was most needed.

Sheng Seleris never touched the Merinta on the Blue Moon, the Merinta on Glorantha is antoher matter.  The city was packed with refugees wehn his army came upon it and so Teelo came down to defend the city as best she could, though she was eternally a child now, no warrior or great magician.

She opened the ways between Merinta Above and Below and her people began to escort all the refugees to the Blue Moon itself, where they would be safe.  She stood on the walls and she debated with Sheng for Seven Days and Seven Nights, weaving a web of words and trying to touch his heart.

Sheng had no heart, but he was better at killing than thinking, and so he struggled to break free of her pleas.  She, the vessel of the Goddess, had a will of iron, and his will was made of frozen dung.  

Words, however, can only restrain action for so long and Sheng was an arrow in flight; once loosed, it could not turn aside.

More time, though, was needed, so Teelo did what she had never done before, taking up spear and shield and throwing herself off the walls at Sheng.

He won, of course; his soul was all the garbage of Raibanth compressed into a sodden lump, but his body was potent and his dark magics, stolen from Kralorela when he barbequed and ate their Emperor, were strong.  Teelo did not die easily, but she died.

But as she died, the last refugees escaped and the gates slammed shut and she knew that though she had lost the battle, she had won the war.

Those who are willing to sacrifice themselves will be rewarded.



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A Myth of the Seven Sailors - She Who Eats

During the Ages of the Broken Goddess, the Trolls of the Blue Moon Plateau continued to worship her as Annila.  Her cooling waters were dark and comforting and waterways were full of life to be eaten.  Many Trolls could not survive there, though - without the blessing of the Goddess, they drowned.  She Who Eats did not drown - she was a Troll of the Ancient Times, and she sailed on the Sea of Souls many times, seeking to understand how to undo the Curse of Kin.

She finally came to understand - Trolls could not fix this alone, anymore than than you can survive by eating your own flesh.  She would need help.

Thus the Goddess guided her to join the others on their quest to stop the Carmanians, and who better to stop the lords of fire than the lady of water?

Her name is a secret - she traded her name for a title when she became a full priestess and entered deeply into the service of her Goddess.   This is why she alone was the one who could defeat the Eater of Names.  And why she alone  could not enter the Citadel of Glory.  But the full story of the Sojourn is a story for another time.

At the Battle of All Directions, it was the wisdom of Yanafal Tarnils that led to digging the tunnels by which the loperbeasts, trolls, and others could move to surround the Bull Shah's army. But it was She Who Eats and her followers who had to dig the tunnels.  She wove a net which enhanced the power of those who lurked below and when the time came, she charged out of the tunnels and led her troll army to devour the enemy.

Anabraxus the Cautious was the smartest of the Carmanians.  He had expected a trap.  So he had hidden his men, and to his credit, he caught She Who Eats by surprise and the first rush of his cavalry forced her troops back.  Wherever she went, the power of the Goddess snuffed out Carmanian fire, but she could not be everywhere at once.

And so she called upon the dark phase of the Blue Moon, then she confronted Anabraxus... and ran.  He gave chase, injuring her thrice, and then... She could walk on her illusions but he could not and he tumbled down the hole from which the trolls had emerged; his horse broke its legs and died and in the darkness, he was all alone.

Before fire, there was water.  But before water, there was darkness.

She slew him in the dark, then took his head and affixed it upon a pole and used it as a club to smite his troops and show them his fate.

They broke and fled and the day was saved.  

The wicked will go into her maw whey they die; she is the hell that waits for the enemies of the Blue Moon.  She is the devouring vengeance of our Goddess.  But she is a cunning revenge.  

She is She Who Eats.

Now give me those chickens, I'm hungry.


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The Kingdom of Imther

Long ago, the Dwarves of the Imther Mountains were forced to flee to their current home, where the humans of Imther helped them during the Great Darkness.  In gratitude, they built Hilltown and its market, where they come to trade with all comers, so long as a descenant of those who aided them sits on the throne there.  This soon led to one such bloodline becoming Kings of Imther, a title they have held through endless disasters, wars, and even Sheng Seleris invading.  (The Dwarves sallied out and caught Sheng's forces by surprise, saving Hilltown.  They then carried off Sheng's army to be 'recycled'.

Nothing, however, lasts forever.  The line of Imther seems cursed and only the aging King remains.  He had eight children and all have died.  He is known to be seeking someone he can adopt; otherwise, unless one of the other bloodlines survived (and it is thought the endless wars and chaos have ended the other lines), Imther will lose its trade with the Dwarves and probably be swallowed up by the other kingdoms.  Two of the King's sons died in the war with Holay that led to the loss of Soldier's Ford.  

The Laramites are Orlanthi; they have largely accepted the Blue Goddess as the wife of Orlanth and about half the population are Hsunchen and the other half are traditional Orlanthi.  The Wilktar clans, who live more by herding and hunting and foraging are more likely to embrace the Changing Way, while the Laremites are more agriculturalist and traditional Orlanthi.  Unlike in Dragon Pass, the clans herd goats and make cheese from their milk and cow milk, chees of exceptional quality.  

However, they have been forged together by outside pressure into greater unity than most contemporary Orlanthi nations.

King Dortaros Dwarf-Friend (Air, Motion, Harmony):  Unusually for an Orlanthi King, he is initiated to both Orlanth and Issaries.  This is traditional in Imther, so that you can both rule and preside over the Dwarf Market.  He is rich in goods, but full of sorrow for the death of his children and full of wrath at Holay.  But he cannot risk a war without a set of heirs, for he knows his next war will likely slay him.  He appeals to all oracles for aid and would give much to someone who could find a survivor of one of the other bloodlines for him.  

Hilltown:  Linked to Jillaro by one of the Roads of the Conquering Daughter, this city is under the protection of the Dwarves of the Jord Mountains, who come here to trade.  They also have sometimes provided food in emergency situations - the Dwarves buy a large amount of timber each year and the locals assume the Dwarves turn it into their food, because the food they provide is a pudding which tastes strongly like pine.  They also supply the Kingdom with bronze, aluminum, and copper, both raw and in the forms of weapons and tools.  In lesser amounts, gemstones and other earth substances.  Once a decade, they sell large amounts of 'Plant Powder', which comes in green pots.  It also smells of pine, but it acts as an incredible fertilizer.  In return, they want various kinds of rock, timber, wool, and odd scrapings from dead cattle and pigs.  The city is built in a unique style, created by Dwarves for humans long ago.  

Hortugarth:  This ancient hillfort kept the Laramites alive during the Great Darkness; there is an ancient shrine to Asriela below it and the hill is sacred to Barntar and Mahome.  There are additional tunnels where many sheep, pigs, and cattle can be hidden in times of war if need be.  It is now way too close to the border and is in a constant state of near-panic for fear of another war erupting.

Sun Dome:  A fairly small Yelmalio community dwells here, unable to grow because the forests around it are held by the Wilktar, who see Yelmalio as Mahome's little brother.  Conversely, though, Imther essentially protects them from their enemies, the Dwarves supply them with gold in the market, and their small phalanx helped save what's left of Imther in 1612.

Adventure Seeds:

  • Bottle Caps for Bronze:  The Mostali have posted a large reward for 'First Age Bottlecaps'.  If you can get some, a huge pile of goods waits for you.  Perhaps you can find something in Old Jillaro.
  • Cheese Queen of Hilltown:  Every year, the Wilkite Clans bring their finest cheeses to Hilltown and have a giant contest.  Cheese is made by women and the top cheesemaker becomes Cheese Queen of Hilltown.  This grants a certain amount of magical power, mainly useful for cheese making and traditional women's tasks, but also a lot of prestige and usually she is put on the Ring of her home clan.  The contest can get rather cutthroat.  
  • The Crack:  The mountains have shifted, a crack has opened, and Chaos creatures are coming out and harrassing everyone.  Please investigate.  Twist:  Dwarves did what Dwarves do in every world.
  • The Cursed Cheese:  Perhaps making cheese which included strange white goo that oozed out of the ground was a bad idea.  Now an entire clan is somehow under its control.  This has to be stopped.  
  • Sun Dumber:  Visitors from another Sun Dome are causing trouble between the Orlanthi and the Sun Dome; please put an end to these troubles.  
  • Testing the Heir:  The king has found a potential heir; you need to take him to the Temple of Jakaleel in Jillaro, so he can be tested to see if his bloodline is right.  Certainly nothing can go wrong.



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7 hours ago, John Biles said:
  • Bottle Caps for Bronze:  The Mostali have posted a large reward for 'First Age Bottlecaps'.  If you can get some, a huge pile of goods waits for you.  Perhaps you can find something in Old Jillaro.
  • Cheese Queen of Hilltown:  Every year, the Wilkite Clans bring their finest cheeses to Hilltown and have a giant contest.  Cheese is made by women and the top cheesemaker becomes Cheese Queen of Hilltown.  This grants a certain amount of magical power, mainly useful for cheese making and traditional women's tasks, but also a lot of prestige and usually she is put on the Ring of her home clan.  The contest can get rather cutthroat.  
  • The Crack:  The mountains have shifted, a crack has opened, and Chaos creatures are coming out and harrassing everyone.  Please investigate.  Twist:  Dwarves did what Dwarves do in every world.
  • The Cursed Cheese:  Perhaps making cheese which included strange white goo that oozed out of the ground was a bad idea.  Now an entire clan is somehow under its control.  This has to be stopped.  

Of course these all work perfectly well in the context of the mainline Glorantha history, too.

I used a variant of the Crack with a dwarf-caused Earthquake in my old Imther campaign.

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Of course these all work perfectly well in the context of the mainline Glorantha history, too.

I used a variant of the Crack with a dwarf-caused Earthquake in my old Imther campaign.

Imther is probably one of the least changed areas, yeah.

The first version of Imther blew up on me, leading me to do a bunch of myths before coming back to it.

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1 minute ago, John Biles said:

The first version of Imther blew up on me, leading me to do a bunch of myths before coming back to it.

That's dwarfs for you.  Want to keep everything secret, hide it all away.  You have to work around them - trick them with hidden bits in the myths where they aren't suspecting the result.  It's how the heroic kings always manage to bind them to the task of providing metal!  (At least in my Imther, "adoption" doesn't work.  You've got to take the place of the original person in the myth to bargain with the dwarfs when they are most desperate for aid.  When you're wearing the right "mask" the dwarfs don't know any different.  And then your heirs only have to trace their descent from you, and you from the original quester - much simpler process than twenty generations of recited lineage.  Not a quest for the faint of heart though....)

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

That's dwarfs for you.  Want to keep everything secret, hide it all away.  You have to work around them - trick them with hidden bits in the myths where they aren't suspecting the result.  It's how the heroic kings always manage to bind them to the task of providing metal!  (At least in my Imther, "adoption" doesn't work.  You've got to take the place of the original person in the myth to bargain with the dwarfs when they are most desperate for aid.  When you're wearing the right "mask" the dwarfs don't know any different.  And then your heirs only have to trace their descent from you, and you from the original quester - much simpler process than twenty generations of recited lineage.  Not a quest for the faint of heart though....)



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The Kingdom of Vanch

Like many areas in the Southern Empire, it has been the destiny of Vanch to be a punching bag, controlled at times by the Bright Empire, the EWF, the Dara Happans, Imther, Elves of uncertain origin, a mercenary band of Ducks, more Dara Happans, Jalaring Dog People, and the mysterious Blue King who exploded for no clear reason the year the Blue Moon goddess was reborn.  

The explosion of the Blue King transformed the nobles of Vanch into the Blue Deer Princes, who followed a twisted version of the Changing Way; this eventually led them to confront the Conquering Daughter, who turned them into a fine set of hides.  

The Changing Way spread quickly... but not loyalty to the empire.  The Bison Kings then challenged the Conquering Daughter, who fired them out of a catapult, one by one, during a siege.  

One of her Elemental Knights then became Queen of Vanch; the country has practiced eldest child succession of any gender ever since.   Vanch was heavily damaged by Sheng Seleris, but its strong trading position ensured they soon recovered.  

Vanch is a mixture of Orlanthi, Pelorians, Dara Happans, and Hsunchen of various kinds.  A small branch of the Jalaring Dog People dwell here, a remnant of their time of ruling Vanch.  They have flourished since the Blue Goddess came.

Queen Millenia of Vanch (Water, Disorder, Truth) is unusual among rulers for having the Disorder Rune - this is because she sees herself as a bringer of change, someone who will bring Vanch into a new age.  It's not exactly clear what this New Age is going to be, but it's quite clear she will inaugurate it.... somehow... and change Vanch forever... somehow.  That is to say, she is a Messiah in search of a cause.  But her Truth rune revealed this to her, so it has to be right.

Bikhy, City of the Phoenix:  During the Bright Empire, Dara Happans founded this city with the hope it would become an 11th city of the Empire.  Instead, Arkat sacked the city, slaughtered everyone and burned it.  The next dawn, the city was restored intact.  Arkat burned it five times, then gave up and moved on.  The EWF burned it.  The Dara Happans burned it again.  One of its city leaders snapped and burned it in an attempt to eat everyone's souls and become a Dragon.  The Dara Happans burned it again.  The EWF burned it again.  The Golden Horde burned it, just to be sure.  The Conquering Daughter burned it to see if it would come back.  One of Sheng Seleris' generals killed himself in frustration after ten destructions in a row failed.  The city just explodes and reforms the next dawn.  You can conquer it but not kill it.  It now serves as the capital, home to a huge temple to Phoenix, the goddess of the city, and others to Yemalio, The Blue Moon Goddess, the Seven Sailors, Argan Argar, the Conquering Daughter, and 'Frozz', a diety of uncertain gender, species, and purpose, but whose temple has  been here as long as anyone remembers and no one is sure why.  (Frozz is definitely an Air diety and probably also holds the Illusion rune, maybe.  Frozz is known to desire ornate pants, various kinds of incense, and pork as sacrifices.)  Everyone perceives Frozz as a being like themselves.

Hill of Gold:  This is the holiest site of Yelmalio, where he got his ass beaten down and was stripped of his strongest powers, but proved to be too tough to die.  Different Yelmalio sects identify different attackers, including Orlanth, Zorak Zoran, Sheng Seleris, Zzabur, merpeople, Elmal, Ernalda, seven different ice goddesses, Anterius, Yu-Kargazant, Waha, Bisos, Navaria (who tried to sacrifice him as a Corn King and bungled it), and Odalya (who mistook him for a deer somehow).  One myth cycle claims he somehow attacked himself.  This brings a steady tide of pilgrims to the base of the Hill to pray and carry out Heroquests.  This is also believed by Orlanthi to be where Elmal met Orlanth.  That also brings pilgrims.  A group of Zistorites, the Legion of Gold, briefly seized the Hill during the Second Age, but were basically mobbed by Sun Domers.

New Lolon:  Old Lolon guarded its inhabitants through the Great Darkness.  It was guarded by Yelmalio and his wife Aldrya the Green Woman, during the Great Darkness.  But when Yelm returned, he was summoned home and then the city was sacked by Arkat and had to be rebuilt as New Lolon.  The city remains dominated by Yelmalio cultists and provides a powerful phalanx to the royal military.  

Noastor:  The Dwarves of the Jord Mountains trade with the humans of Vanch here; it is said their great food machines were destroyed during the Elder Race wars of the Second Age and now they trade metal and rock and various creations for food and drink.  Noastor flourishes from this trade and the market is open to all comers but the Queen gets the first pick of all trade goods.

Adventure Seeds:

  • Duckfest:  When the Ducks briefly ruled Vanch, they instituted a yearly festival at the end of Sea Season, which was pretty much a big 'get drunk and party' festival.  Now everyone dresses up as Ducks for two days and gets drunk and wild.  The most important thing is boating contests, which people bet a lot of money on.  
  • Hill of Gold:  How can you come to Vanch and not do one of the 3 billion heroquests linked to the Hill of Gold?  
  • The Legion Returns:  Some moron managed to resurrect the Legion of Gold during a heroquest at the Hill of Gold.  Now Zistorites have taken control and are trying to resurrect Zistor.  Time to put an end to this.  (Twist:  Postikar cultists are now in command of the Legion and plan to use it to reconquer Sylila.)
  • The New Lolon Gospel:  A prophet in New Lolon has proclaimed that Frozz and Yelmalio are the same god.  The Yelmalions put him to the test, which is to say, they tied him to a pole and burned him alive.  The next day, he came back to life.  Every time they kill him, he returns.  They will pay a tidy sum to anyone who can get him to GO AWAY.
  • Marriage Alliance:  Elements of the Queen's court want to see her marry the King of Imther; they believe she could bear an heir to the line and the kingdom would grow and control *two* areas of Dwarf Trade.  The problem is that the Queen is not interested in marrying a man who is close to three times her age.  Surely such great heroes can make her see reason without getting executed for impertinence.
  • Return of the Elves:  The Elves of unknown origin have shown up again, this time at New Lolon; they wish to perform a year long rite to the Green Lady, Aldrya.  However, their rites are offensive to the Yelmalions and trouble is building; please settle this conflict and find out where they keep coming from!
  • Spice Trade:  A local merchant, Marchar, believes the Dwarves of Noastor would pay well for spices to improve their food if he can only find the RIGHT one.  He will pay well if you travel around the Empire collecting spices for him.





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9 minutes ago, John Biles said:

Hill of Gold:  How can you come to Vanch and not do one of the 3 billion heroquests linked to the Hill of Gold?

Or buy one of the votive statues or the Yelmalio key rings!  And I can't forget Yelmalio hats!  You can tell the imitations by the clear glass jewels in the top - the real ones have actual fire crystals...

13 minutes ago, John Biles said:

The New Lolon Gospel:  A prophet in New Lolon has proclaimed that Frozz and Yelmalio are the same god.  The Yelmalions put him to the test, which is to say, they tied him to a pole and burned him alive.  The next day, he came back to life.  Every time they kill him, he returns.  They will pay a tidy sum to anyone who can get him to GO AWAY.


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5 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Or buy one of the votive statues or the Yelmalio key rings!  And I can't forget Yelmalio hats!  You can tell the imitations by the clear glass jewels in the top - the real ones have actual fire crystals...


And of course, the giant Yelmalio ruffles that make you look like the Sun, they say.,

Or maybe just a Sunflower.


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Talastar is the problem child of the Empire... the other problem child.  Another problem child.

Talastar is, in theory, under the control of the Kingdom of Lakrene and is one of the allies of the Empire.  In practice, msot of Talastar is made up of Orlanthi clans and renegade Hsunchen of various degrees of murder frenzy.  Because Talastar protects the Empire from Dorastor... because it's in the way... The Empire hasn't pressed things too hard.

The Talastari were brought to the ways of Orlanth by Theyalan missionaries.  They seem to have mainly learned 'Violence is always an option' and not much else, though the First and Second Councils were able to channel their aggression into slaughtering Solar horsemen.  The Bright Empire changed everything, settling them down and they were well on their way to becoming civilized folk when Arkat showed up and burned most of the cities and forced everyone to go psycho or go home, where home is the grave.

The cities of what is now Lakrene survived because Arkat was on the verge of taking Dorastor down and ignored them in favor of turning Dorastor into hell.  Lakrene has survived ever since, unable to reunite Talastar, but managing to avoid the wars of the Second Age for the most part.  

The rise of the Empire brought the Changing Way to Talastar - many tribes embraced it, but rejected the Empire in favor of continuing to fight each other in endless feuds.  The rise of Sheng put this problem on the backburner; later, in the 1590s, Igneous led forces into the area to ensure it would not cause trouble during his invasion of Sartar.  He forced the tribes to submit to the Kingdom of Lakrene as the Kingdom of Talastar.

Once he was murdered, the Talastari rose up and threw off Imperial rule, reducing Lakrene to a small area which was saved by the Satrap of Sylila.  The locals have spent the reign of Catticus stabbing each other.

About half of the Talastari are Orlanthi, who defiantly worship the wicked Ernalda, who encourages them to murder each other in order to get sex.  The other half have adopted the Changing Way but still worship Orlanth, seeing him as the husband of the Blue Moon and they basically rampage together.  

There is no real King, just local monarchs.  No satrap.  Only anarchy and death.

Yet, still better than Dorastor.

Anadiki:  A land of rivers, gorges, sheep, goats, cows, and pigs who all have the misfortune to live with rival tribes - one tribe is mostly Alynx Hsunchen and the other are traditional Orlanthi.  Both are locked in a battle for this land; it's rather like watching two rats fight over cheese someone threw up.

Bilini Kingdom:  Ruled by defiant traditionalist Orlanthi who are basically tainted by the legacy of Arkat, right down to their king's sword, Ironbreaker, which calls on Arkat's tainted power.  This is probably why they ignited the civil war that destroyed the Kingdom of Talastar.  

Brolia:  Laid waste by Arkat and his madmen, this area supports only scrub-brush and grass.  The Orlanthi here herd sheep and cattle who can live off it and somehow get water.  They kill each other over what few resources there are.  IF your choices are to go to Brolia or be dragged behind a chariot, chose the dragging.

Copper Forest:  Imagine a forest where all the trees are made of copper due to being cursed long ago.  At times, you see elves permanently turned into statues.  Why is it all still here?  Because it's full of horrors from Dorastor, that's why.  The Bilini lay claim to it and prove they are brave, yet stupid, by hunting here.

Endeel:  Founded in the First Age, this city is heavily fortified and is surrounded by rich farmland.  Storms arise when the city is attacked, for it is home to a great collective shrine of the Thunder Brothers.  It also has a less major temple of Garzeen and special sluices that the Erinflarth flows through; these extract various chemicals used by the many apothecaries of the city to make various drugs.  It also ensures healthy water for those downstream.

The Hold:  Guarded by Elmal during the Great Darkness, this ancient hold has never fallen save to starvation.  When one of Sheng Seleris' raiding parties reached it, Elmal came forth and slaughtered them all.  Their remains are buried in a cursed field.  Even Arkat went around The Hold.  It serves as the 'capital' of the Bilini, mainly meaning the King lives here and there are major temples of Orlanth, Ernalda, Elmal, and Humakt.  About once a year, cursed armies of the dead attack the Hold and get slaughtered.  By now, everyone is more annoyed by it than scared.

Lingsting Sun Dome:  This area is controlled by Yelmalio cultists.  They regard Talastar as a madhouse but this is their Sun Dome.  They were born here and will probably die here.  They are usually allied with Lakrene, which at least tries to be civilized.  They stage an annual pilgrimage to the Hill of Gold; due to the dangers of this land, it can be hard to tell the difference between the pilgrimage and the usual murder-hordes of the land, save for being more golden.

Mount Matu:  A sacred mountain to the local Orlanthi, sacred to Orlanth's father Umath.  It is generally believed that the Lingsting Sun Dome would like to blow it up but have no way to do so.

Old Wolf Fort:  If you feel suicidal, you can go here and the locals will help you go die in Dorastor.  They keep watch for chaos raiders; there are temples of Storm Bull and Humakt here, along with an Argan Argar outpost for the somewhat lunatic trading expeditions which go into Dorastor.  

Oxhead, City of Peace:  Ironically, this city founded by Storm Bulls has evolved into a place of peacemaking, dominated by Ernalda and Issaries and shielded by the power of Chalanna Arroy.  All can send envoys here to make peace.  

Relain:  Old Relain burned at the hands of Sheng Seleris but the new city is well fortified and acts as a market town for local goods and trades with the Bilini.  The city is a major center of wool processing and smells like sheep year round.   An unusually large shrine of Rigsdal the Night Watchman has flourished since the time of Sheng, warning the city of raids by the Skanthi and Bilini.

Rockwood Mountains:  These mountains are notable for having an abandoned dwarven complex under them, in which people are still finding interesting things and sometimes surviving the discoveries.  There are rumors that Postikar cultists are now in the ruins, looting it.

Skanthi:  Another tribe of Orlanthi, who are renegade members of the Changing Way, whose land is terrible, who cope with it by robbing and killing each other and their neighbors.  The usual.  However, their land is haunted by the restless dead due to Argath carving a highway of destruction through it.  

Thunder Mountain:  One of the sacred mountains of Orlanth, though most Orlanthi can't get past the murderous giant storm ram which slaughters them when they try to go here.  They kill it about twice an age, then it comes back and murders lots of Orlanth.  Why a ram that hates Orlanth is living on one of Orlanth's sacred mountains remains a mystery.  I personally commend it for its good taste (scribal note).

Top of the World Mountain:  So tall that much of it is frozen over.  You'd expect to find Vadrus, but no, it's also sacred to Orlanth but you can actually visit Orlanth if the ice doesn't kill you first.  

Voranel:  The capital of Lakrene, home to King Anastar, who has a star on his brow since his initiation.  He has fire magic, unusually for an Orlanthi.  This is a peaceful, but armed market town, most notable for the star that shines over the city and *can only be seen* from inside the city.  There is a star tower, like those of Yuthuppa, manned by a priest of Buserian; the star is itself called Voranel and the King wields its power.  The star drove off Sheng's forces when they came.

Adventure Seeds:

  • Brolian Trade Mission:  The Brolians need weapons, clothing, and other thngs they can't make in their terrible land; they have lots of cows, pigs, sheep, etc, to offer in return.  Escort this trade mission while rival clans try to steal everything and kill you.
  • Copper Cull:  I need twelve trees from the Copper Forest and will pay well.  Watch out for earth creatures and horrors from Dorastor.  Now get to it!
  • The Hog Slaughterer:   It's a traditional story for Anadiki - one clan's pigs escape and another clan catches and eats them, then refuses to pay weregild for pigs, so everyone's going to kill each other.  It's traditionalist vs Hsunchen to make things messier.  Choose a side and make peace or make people into pieces.
  • Mission to the Skanthi:  The Skanthi follow the Changing Way but reject the Empire in favor of continuing to murder each other for nothing.  You have been chosen to bring them to the light, or at least to get them to be less murderous.
  • Night of the Living Dead:  You probably should have made sure you didn't cut through Skanthi on the *anniversary* of Arkat slaughtering his way through it.  Now the dead are after you but maybe you can hold out in this abandoned hill fort, though this raises the question of why it was abandoned...
  • Planetary Reconciliation:  A scholar at the Imperial University has discovered that Heortlings see the Blue Planet as one of the Thunder Brothers, Mastagos, God of Motion, while the Dara Happans believe the Blue Planet is Uleria.  He wants you to go to Endeel and perform a Heroquest to test if Uleria and Mastagos are *somehow* masks of the same diety and if so, what is the *True* identity of said god/goddess.  Nice and simple, right?
  • Recruit the Ram:  The Empire wants that giant ram on its side; find out what it wants and how to get it to join the Changing Way.





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The Kingdom of Tarsh

What is now Tarsh was laid waste by the Dragonkill.  For a century and half, no one dared enter, until the desperate Aram the Pauper defied his own ancestors to enter the land, court Sorana Tor, and establish a Kingdom that still stands today.  Their descendents founded the Twin Dynasty, a series of brother-sister marriages where the brother handled temporal affairs and the sister handled spiritual and magical issues.  At the Battle of Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies in 1362, the Satrap of Sylila attempted to raise the armies of the dependent kingdoms and force Tarsh into the same relationship.  Instead, a storm of rocks, reminiscent of the Moonfalls, plummeted from the sky, crushing the Imperial army.

For a time, Tarsh impinged on those kingdoms, seizing lands from Holay and Aggar, only to eventually be defeated by Sheng Seleris' forces and pushed back to the old borders.  This culminated in the Battle of Lost Memories, so called because both sides were wiped out and no one remembered how or why.

After the defeat of Sheng Seleris, Hon-Eel, one of the Inspirations of Moonson, turned her attention to Tarsh, where she pioneered the use of the Harmony rune to kill people.  She seduced the Brother-King, convinced him to sacrifice his sister to make the corn grow and married her.  This triggered a civil war.  Hon-Eel no longer needed the King now that she had a baby by him and he soon 'ascended to a higher plane'.  Aided by Imperial forces, she trampled the loyal Tarshites underfoot and made her son Phoronestes the King.  Part of the Kingdom remained essentially in rebellion and Hon-Eel moved on.  He ruled for many years, then was probably poisoned (unless he got unlucky and ate the only Death Cherries in Tarsh.)

What ensued was endless civil war, murder, coming back from the dead, being murdered again, refusing to stay dead, having your ashes scattered across four provinces, somehow rising out of a volcano... you know the drill.  Eventually, the Tarshite Rebels against the Hon-Eel dynasty were defeated at Grizzly Peak.  

King Moirades (1579-1610) was the son of the Feathered Horse Queen and the Pro-Imperial King of Tarsh, Phargentes,  He was thus King of Dragon Pass and of Tarsh, though only late in his reign was Sartar forced to submit.  However, since his main goal was personal enlightenment, he basically used the Kingdom's resources to seek mystic illumination.  He did manage to spawn the current King by his first wife, but increasingly pursued enlightenment with his second wife, Jar-Eel.  Who followed the family tradition by killing him once she got pregnant by him.  Allegedly, he 'achieved enlightenment' at the moment of conception.  Sure he did.

King Pharandos is more interested in expanding his kingdom and ending the rebellion in Sartar than he is in getting seduced and murdered and thus has been a fairly successful king, though Sartar is turning into a quagmire.  He has three sons to inherit the throne, but everyone has their eyes on Jar-Eel's young son, Phargentes the Younger.  Inspirations of Moonson don't kill kings and make babies by them for nothing.   Right now, he's a creepy prophetic young boy who knows everything about you just by looking at you and his voice echoes in your head.  In theory, he's too young to be initiated, but he seems to have somehow initiated himself when he was left alone for a few hours and is now an Alynx Hsunchen.  Jar-Eel insists she's not going to chop Pharandos into hamburger and put her child on the throne.  But you can't blame Pharandos for paranoia.  As the war in Sartar gets messier, he gets angrier and harder to deal with.  

Tarsh is home to Orlanthi; many have adopted the Changing Way; in the tribes which have not, Ernalda worship is now banned and Orlanth is generally seen as married to one of her handmaidens.  (Or to Mahome.)  Tarshites in the countryside live in clans grouped into tribes whose leaders are appointed by the King; in cities, guilds have largely taken the place of clans.

The Tarshite Exiles, who are formally in Sartar's lands, live as traditional Orlanthi, barely holding on in dangerous mountain lands.

Bagnot:  This was the original capital and it remains a major sacred center.  It also remains haunted by Queen Essher, who was sacrificed to make the corn grow and who is *re-sacrificed* every year in a holy ceremony featuring a convicted criminal and the bound ghost of Queen Essher.  This is accompanied by Games and a huge festival and a lot of nightmares.  

Borni's Landing:  After the sack of the EWF city of Jeron during the Dragonkill, this location remained empty until the rise of Tarsh; Borni led his clan to found a hall here which has grown into a market-town/bridge toll collector.  Local Hsunchen bring animals for sale, some of them monsters, and people come from the whole Empire to buy strange creatures at the Monster Market, once a year during Earth Season.  There is a temple of Monster Man, but he is a strange version of Issaries or Argan Argar here, an Earth god who presides over traffic in monsters.  

Dunstop:  A focus of rebel resistance to the Hon-Eel Dynasty, this city is fortified on an island in the middle of a lake, making it hard to assail.  Now it is just a market town noted for its production of high quality fish, preserved with magic so you can have *fresh* fish that isn't salted, smoked, or dried.  

Ever-New-Glory:  A Sun Dome, loyal to the Empire, full of people who are determined to be the MOST glorious of all Sun Domes.  They eagerly serve the Empire to try to achieve that glory. They also get in endless brawls with Elmal Horsefriend Cultists over who is Yelm's real favorite son.

Furthest:  So-named by Hon-Eel, who moved the capital here after murdering her husband and starting a civil war.  This vibrant city flourishes on the river trade and by being a depot for goods being sent south so that rebels can steal them... I mean so that the glorious Imperial army can use them.  Several Lanbril gangs duke it out here over whether the underworld here will serve the Empire or oppose it or just MAKE MONEY FAST.  The city contains a temple of Hon-Eel, a temple to the Seven Sailors, and a temple to the Blue Moon herself.  Due to misunderstanding of Orlanthi custom, the city is organized in seven concentric rings with the palace at the middle, split by the river flowing through the city.

Goldedge:  Also a Sun Dome temple; they have a long rivalry with Ever-New-Glory in which they shout about how great they are and Ever-New-Glory acts like they are deaf.  But they also loyally serve the Empire.

Heruvernalda:  Once the greatest temple of Ernalda north of Esrolia, Hon-Eel turned it into a burned out ruins occupied by ghosts, the hungry dead, and sometimes Chaos creatures.  There are treasures to be found if you don't die horribly.

Slavewall:  This market town handles local produce, but it also handles the trade in slaves from Sartar, Prax, the Holy Country, and Balazar.  It is so named because of the ritual in which slaves were bricked up inside the walls of the city, creating a magic that prevents revolts or escape inside the city.  When people hear weird noises at night, banging and moaning, they say it's just another slave in the wall.

Stones Over Souls:  A small community of Dragonewts dwells here under the authority of the Inhuman King of Dragon Pass.  They silently attend every funeral in a fifty mile radius, though they don't intervene; they just watch.  No one is sure what they're looking for.

'Sun Wheel Ruin:  Once home to the Gold Wheel Dancers, now a long abandoned ruins; people find strange artifacts here sometimes.

Talfort:  Built n the First Age from huge, tall stones, it was abandoned during the Dragonkill but now is once again a bustling market town, marked by the strange blue stones it is built from.  These stones seem to strengthen the Water Rune inside the city, so it's Temple of the Seven Sailors has become a very powerful place.

Tarshford:  This quiet market town is noted for the lone Humakti always present at the ford, who challenges random strangers to duels; those who refuse are cursed.  Those who win will return from the grave the next time they die.  Those who lose usually die.  When the challenger gets old, he is replaced by someone new.  This has been going on for over a century, but only the Humakti know why.

Adventure Seeds:

  • The Best Fish:  Several towns compete for the title of best source of fish, but Dunstop is high on that list and your patron wants you to travel from (some far away place) and pick up some fresh fish for him.  
  • Body Double:  Phargentes the Younger keeps showing up in two places at once.  Does he have a secret twin?  Can he teleport or project an image of himself?  Are people doing stupid rumors?  Is it some Eurmali long-con?  When questioned, he spews metaphysics, so we need you to find out.  Before he shows up in Prince Temertain's harem and critiques his sexual methods again.  
  • Earth Temple Ruins:  You need cash; the ruins of Heruvernalda is full of treasure.  And horrible monsters and a curse from Hon-Eel and there's probably some place where Phargentes the Younger has covered the walls with madness inducing prophecies.  But think of the treasure!
  • God-Child's Mission:  You're minding your own business when Phargentes the Younger walks up to you, delivers a prophecy, tells you to fulfill it, then gets in trouble for stealing scones and is dragged away by his minders.  Do you do it?
  • Hoop Snake Attack:  Caravans are being attacked by fifty-foot long golden serpents who swallow their own tails and just run over things.  They seem to be especially enraged by the Grazelanders and other Solar folk.  Then they retreat into the Hydra Mountains.  Is this connected to the mystery of the Gold Wheel Dancers?
  • Invasion of the Bodysnatchers:  The Dragonnewts of Stones over Souls have finally acted - they stole the dead body of a chief before the funeral could be finished.  You need to recover the body and find out WHY they're doing this.  
  • The Mystery Egg:  It's the size of a troll and it has golden-bronze scales all over it but the Dragonewts say it is not a Dragon or Dragonnewt Egg.  It was found in a crater in Balazar.  Did it fall from the sky?  Bidding is going to be intense in the Monster Market this year at Borni's Landing.  




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Pardon the pause.  I spent several days doing my RL job and compiling everything I have written in this thread so far into some files on my computer.  (146 pages of text, to my shock!)

More stuff later, maybe Sunday, probably Monday, as Sunday, Dad goes to MD Anderson for immunizing.


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Warrior Societies

Warrior societies are one of the important ties keeping the Hsunchen half of the Empire from exploding into a self-destructive orgy of blood and death.  Groups of martial spirits invite warriors from many different clans to learn secrets together to aid them in battle.  Because each society is made up of people from many different clans, they form a source of cross-links between clans which can help to mitigate clan feuds.  They're also a source of mercenaries whose clans won't be blamed for what they do acting as a warrior society.  War Clans especially encourage every warrior to join one.

Warrior Societies typically revolve around a particular weapon or tactic, a kind of terrain's spirits, or elemental spirits.  Certain societies teach unarmed combat methods, but most focus on weapon combat of various kinds.  Some are open to non-Hsunchen; others are Hsunchen only.  

The Silver Spear

The Silver Spear was born when the gods and spirits made war, then slumbered until the birth of the Changing Way.  A Hsunchen in Doblian, during Sheng Seleris' invasion, found the Silver Spear and awakened it; it had long slept in a deep cavern.  It taught him and his allies the secrets to fight against Celestial magics.  (And against the Fire Rune in general).  It also teaches secrets of how to fight with spears, especially against cavalry, commanding the secret of the Hedgehog.  Though born in Doblian, this society is most common in Oraya and First Blessing.  The Silver Spear admits anyone who isn't Pentan.  

The Thunder Sisters

The Thunder Sisters are storm spirits; they admit any woman but not men.  They call to women especially from the Lodrilli peasantry, who gain the power to command wind, storm, and lightning, to protect the farmers from their enemies.  Some Thunder Sisters end up as criminals in the eyes of the Empire but the society is too popular to ban.  

The Lions of Carmania

Many Carmanian Lion spirits are affiliated with Lion Hsunchen, but some seek to bring the strength and nobility of the Lion to other groups, so the society is open to any Hsunchen.  (Non-Hsunchen are too civilized for the Lion's way.)  They teach secrets of how to go from rest to pouncing on someone swiftly, how to bowl foes over, and then rip them apart; they teach unarmed and claw combat methods.  Lions hit hard, but need to take foes down fast before they get tired.

The Avian Society of Couriers

Open to any Hsunchen but dominated by Bird Hsunchen, they teach secrets of navigation, swift flight, and memorization of messages.  They also teach how to fight in the air, though members normally act as couriers and envoys between tribes.  

The Stout Oak Society

Born in the southern hilly forests of First Blessed, the Stout Oaks learn the secrets of perseverance, able to endure extreme heat and cold, rain and snow, exhaustion and hunger, all preserved by their secrets.  Stout Oaks learn defensive warfare, how to form shield walls and hold the line.  The Stout Oaks take anyone who can handle their brutal initiations.

The Osilir Walkers

The Osilir River's children teach their secrets, mainly to Dara Happans, whether they have become Hsunchen or not, so long as they have the Water Rune.  They can command any water connected to the Osilir and its tributaries and can breathe underwater or walk on it.  They cannot be poisoned by any liquid.  They are noted for creating whips of water to smite and bind foes.

The Black Thorn

The Black Thorn teaches secrets of how to pluck branches and turn them into poisonous arrows and other weapons, so you are always armed in the forest.  It also teaches stealth and how to survive in a forest and how to survive poisons.  It is normally Hsunchen only but the spirits are open to the few Elves of the Empire joining.


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Law Enforcement in the Empire

There is no broad-purpose national law enforcement; certain national agencies, such as the Bureau of Righteous Thought focus on specific issues, like heresy or rooting out Chaos cults. Several branches of the Arteries have police powers within their area of interest - taxes and tribute collection.

Satraps have a group of law enforcement agents known as Hands.  They engage in a mixture of spying and espionage.

Non-Hsunchen lands have a variety of forms of law enforcement, usually stronger inside the cities.

Hsunchen are governed by their own laws, usually enforced by the chief's armed men and by custom; a mix of revenge and compensation tend to be the way that legal disputes between clans are settled; this sometimes gets messy and the Empire had to crack down.

The Dara Happan Cities and Pelandan Cities have the most developed legal systems.  The Red Emperor, in his role as Emperor of Dara Happa, appoints judges for ten year terms of service who conduct and resolve trials.  Personal influence and reputation is pretty critical here.

Pelandan judges are boards of five, chosen by lot, who serve for a year.  They make decisions by majority vote.  Their trials involve endless debate and arcane points of the law.  This discourages petty use of the court system.

Cities typically have a city watch which maintains order and deals with crimes in progress, but it's up to you or a hired thief taker to investigate other crimes and drag the accused to court.  

Fines and body punishment, up to and including being trapped in animal form without speech or a variety of hideous death penalties are the usual result of conviction in the court.  Only debtors go to prison, though those accused of crimes are held in a jail until tried.

The national court system involves a panel of seven judges, appointed by the Moonson, who serve for seven years.  This enables them to invoke the wisdom of the Goddess to guide them.  Any member of the Changing Way can appeal to the national courts from a local decision.  They may or may not take the appeal.

Cases can be appealed from the satrapy level national courts to the Highest Court, but it rarely takes appeals, as it is presided over by the Moonson himself.


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The Ice-Breaking Quest

Every year, the Empire mounts an expedition to defeat Valind and strengthen the god who holds up the northern end of the Sky Dome.  This is led by the cult of Kalikos, who possesses the Red Spear of Kalikos and the Red Rock.  Normally kept in the temple of Kalikos in Keravero, the cult loads them and eight heroes and heroines into a great boat, which sails north each year for a dangerous heroquest.

The Hollri are the ice demon children of Himile, god of cold; every year, they build a fortress, then perform dark rites to try to freeze over the great giant who holds up the sky.

The eight heroes (representing the Seven Sailors + Kalikos) sail north and assault the fortreess.  The Hollri confront them and try to scare them into turning back as they sail north; they must bear the ice rocks and taunts, keeping the Red Rock from being damaged.  Kalikos' champion repels as many of the rocks as possible with the Red Spear.

Once they come to the Rock of Landing, they tether the boat and carry the Red Rock on a sled across the ice, riding reindeer.  The cunning of Danfive Xeron will show them a subtle way to sneak up close to the fortress of the Hollri.

But the Hollri are cunning too, and they ambush the heroes; the strength of Yanafal Tarnils and Kalikos leads the team to victory over the Hollri, breaking them into flakes which melt at the fire Kalikos commands.

Then comes the pursuit, chasing them across the ice, as they flee into their fortress.  Irippi Ontor leads them in building catapults out of ice to hammer the fortress... which retaliates by trying to charge over them!

They would all die, but She Who Eats saves them by taking them into a secret cave.

When Jakaleel determines the moment is right, they emerge from the cave and counter-attack; now they are *inside* the fortress, and they lay waste to its defenders; the fortress flees into the wilderness.

They chase it until Teelo Nori says they have done enough, then they use their magics to warm the guardian of the dome and Deezola heals him.  The ice on the dome melts and he can hold it up for another year.

They then return, and something unexpected usually happens here if not before.

Peloria will stay warm for another year.


No Heroquest ever goes 100% according to plan.  Some past problems which might happen again:

  • During the attack on the ship, Hanala the Ice Temptress tries to seduce Yanafal Tarnils to let the attack succeed.
  • Danfive Xeron's hidden way initally leads into Fronela and some problem ensues.
  • She Who Eats' hidden cave is now an ice troll colony and they want the quest to fail.
  • The Fortress has a White Star which must be defeated.
  • Jakaleel choses the wrong moment and you emerge right into the middle of your enemies.
  • Chasing the Fortress leads right to the Fortress of VALIND.  Admittedly, if you win, you get *several* warm years.


(This was inspired by my adventures in Texas Winter Hell.)



Edited by John Biles
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The Thrice-Blessed

The Thrice-Blessed are Reindeer Hsunchen who live east of Charg and north of several provinces of the Empire.  Almost everyone is Hsunchen, unlike the rest of the Empire; conversely, there is no central government; the Thrice-Blessed pay fealty to Little Sister, sending her an annual tribute and supplying her with the Thunder Delta Slingers, their main imperial military unit.

You might expect the Red Claws to be strong here, but in fact, they are weakest here - the Thrice-Blessed basically focus their violence on the animals they hunt and have little interest in fighting each other or other groups.  They worship the Blue Moon, but see her as the spirit of the Blue Moon, not as  a *person*.  They basically reject most gods in favor of spirits of natural features.  

The Thrice-Blessed trade hides, salt, and flint to the rest of the empire, mostly to get workable metal.  They sometimes export meat as well, especially when called on during times of famine.

They get on poorly with the Charg, who they hate more than any other group.  

A common theme of Wind Novels is some naive Thrice-Blessed person who comes into the Empire and turns everything upside down because they don't accept the normal way things happen in the Empire.


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On 2/2/2021 at 12:06 AM, John Biles said:


  • Spice Trade:  A local merchant, Marchar, believes the Dwarves of Noastor would pay well for spices to improve their food if he can only find the RIGHT one.  He will pay well if you travel around the Empire collecting spices for him.





The Dwarven representatives that are traded with, don't seem to have beards [as yet casteless?], and often break into what can only be loosely be called, 'song'.

They have earned the nicknames of Stinky, Spotty, Scary, Snotty and Groggy, as their names are almost unpronounceable, '[high pitched screech]EEE. [almost inaudible rummble]Mab. [said as fast as possible undulating]Untun'.

Edited by Orlanthatemyhamster
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The Imperial Balazar Colony

In the empire, they say that if you are bad, you go to a Hell when you die, but when you are really bad, they send you to Balazar.

Balazar has two kinds of terrain - dry scrub and elf forest.  You can kind of grow crops if you are willing to invest four times as much effort and a lot of help from Earth priestesses.  But the locals gave up on farming - they are probably too stupid for it anyway - and rely on hunting and herding.  The elf forests are fertile but are only for Elves and a few humans they keep around for laughs.  (This is the leading theory about the Elf-Friend clans.)  Part of the problem is that whenever you start to get a good farm going, trolls show up and eat everything.

During the First Age, Elves dominated this area, covering it in trees and driving back the Trolls.  However, the collapse of the Council system into the Bright Empire vs Everyone Else led to many Elves being eaten by Trolls.  Someone set the forests on fire to stop the Trolls, which *did* drive the Trolls off, at the cost of many Elves burning to ash.

Maybe it was Gbaji.  Go ahead.  Blame him.  Everyone blames him for everything.

The Bright Empire came in and kicked some ass until Arkat showed up.  Then Arkat turned the Bright Empire into ashes, cursed its center to become a hellhole, then wandered off to have degenerate sex orgies until he burst a vein.,  Arkat laid waste to civilization in Balazar because he laid waste to everything he touched.  Various humans moved in, because it wasn't so much of a garbage pit yet, or maybe they loved pain.

So, then the Empire of Wyrm Friends arises and the inhabitants of Balazar decide it's a good idea to sign up to become dragon-freaks.  Most of the humans become half-man, half-dragon, all-idiot beings.  Only, when the leaders of the EWF said they had to be worshipped as GODS, the Elves revolted.  I'm guessing they can only go so long without trolls eating them.

So then it was time for everyone to *murder each other* again.  Some of the humans also rebelled and the Elves gave them some of the forest if they would be bodyshields against the trolls.  People threw around huge amounts of devasting magic.  Elves died in droves anyway and the more they died, the more the land was screwed up.

Eventually, a  man named Balazar arrived; he brought troops and united all the rebels against the EWF.  He built a great fortress, Elkoi, and waged war.

Then the Dragonnewts just killed all the EWF followers because reasons.

Balazar soon ruled all of what is now called Balazar, but he was ruling over a disaster area.  It was so terrible that during the Dragonkill, one of the Dragons actually took one look at the area, made sad noises, and never came back.  The Elves began reforesting it.

Balazar's kingdom unravelled over the next century; periodically, warlords sat in Elkoi, united a dozen or so clans, then died and their heir was turned into kibble.  Orlanthi and other clans pushed into western Balazar; the smart ones left and the rest degenerated down to the bare survival level of Balazar's inhabitants.

The survivors found they could live by hunting, herding, and gathering and let forest cover everything.  The Changing Way spread like wildfire here, but everyone is Hsunchen and they have no loyalty to the Empire.  Indeed, when the Vizkinni Clan took over Elkoi and declared themselves Kings of Balazar and began raiding the Empire, Emperor Miletus decided that he had had enough.  He sent troops to conquer Balazar; they captured Elkoi and forced the western tribes into submission but it's nearly impossible to keep a decent sized military force *fed* in Balazar.

In practice, the Imperial Governor rules from Elkoi, pretending to give orders, while the locals pretend to obey and cause him endless trouble.  Meanwhile the Elves, Elf-Friends, and non-Imperial Hsunchen defy him.

Governor Halicarnsus (Water, Beast, Motion)

A Horse Hsunchen and imperial cavalryman, Governor Halicarnasus wonders every day who he offended to get this stupid job.  He is constantly riding around, trying to resolve feuds and protect the hapless colonists he has been sent, who are struggling to survive. He is in a constant state of screaming.

The only question isn't will he start killing people, but *when*.

He is of Dara Happan descent, but took the Changing Way out of ambition.  He now regrets all ambition and dislikes ambitious people who aren't trapped in hell with him.

The Votanki:

Those humans who didn't turn into dragonish things, then die, are the Votanki.  Their ancestors might have been worth something, but they are basically stone age hunters and herders and scavengers now.  They are mostly dog, horse, and pig Hsunchen; some are allied to the elves and known as 'Elf-Friends'.  They all fight endlessly over land and produce nothing that lasts.  The men hunt and murder each other, and the women collect natural fruits and berries and raise the kids so they can grow up to kill each other.  The cycle of life.

To be fair, the Votanki know how to survive in this dangerous hellhole where others die in droves, despite basically only knowing how to make weapons of stone and bone.  They're tough, I'll give them that.

The strongest clans control ancient stone fortresses they could never duplicate or rebuild.  

The Odaylings:

The Odaylings pay homage to Odayla, first and foremost.  They pay homage to the Empire now but they don't like it; most fled here to escape it.  They will slit our throats and dump our bodies in pig troughs if given the excuse.  A few have embraced the Changing Way but most persist in being a slightly higher-tech version of the Votanki.  (They at least have metal working and basic literacy for priests)

The Colonists

Poor bastards.  A mix of the condemned, morons, those seeking opportunity and those who are too stubborn to die.  They manage to eke out crops with heavy assistance from Earth priestesses.  Actual blood sacrifice is disturbingly common, to help the corn grow.  

The Elves

Want everyone else to go die, save their elf-friend allies, who live off the bounty of the forest and kill for the Elves, helping to protect their masters.  To be fair, if I lived in Balazar, I would want all the other groups to die also.

The Trolls

Non-Imperial Trolls who cause trouble both here and in Dragon Pass.  They want to eat Dwarves, Humans, and Elves.  At least they are fair.  They possess the 'Show Up At The Right Time To Eat All the Food' secret.  This makes them doubly a pain.

The Ancient Evils

Most of Balazar is just lousy soil with scrub trees or else it's Elf forest.  But some sites remain tainted - Bright Empire relics, Arkat relics, EWF relics, God-Learner relics, mysterious yet deadly relics of unknown origin.  

Places of Note:

Bear Hills:  These hills were home to a bear god until Balazar came; his skin now hangs behind the throne of the Governor in Elkoi.  Balazar and his kids hunted and slew him.  Now bears rampage murderously through Bear Forest, ripping up humans and elves alike.  However, the Odaylings can pass safely through the forest and claim that Balazar lied about killing a bear god because Odayla actually did the killing.  

Bear Woods:  There was a Great Tree here once.  It burned at the hands of the EWF during the Elven revolt.  Now Elves lurk in the woods, being eaten by bears and trying to revive it.  

Dog Hills:  This area around Elkoi is mostly grass with scrub brush.  Colonists farm in the valleys and the Votanki herd animals on the heights.  This area is typically under the influence of whoever rules Elkoi - right now, that is us.  A lot of the Votanki are Dog Hsunchen.

Dwarf Hat:  This outpost of the Greatway Dwarves has a peak which resembles a dwarven helm.  

Dwerrow River:  This thick river is very hard to cross and is full of salmon.  It basically splits Balazar in half; there is reason to think the Dwarves of Greatway created this river for some unknown reason during the Dark Age.  Dwarves launch small stone ships down the river to catch salmon during the salmon runs, which happen every four years.

Dykene:  One of the three ancient stone citadels built by Balazar.  Now home to Hawk Hsunchen, who like to raid everything from the air.  Bastards.

Eleven Big Giants:  Defeated by the gods they fought, these giants were turned into mountains; sometimes they somehow spawn and send giant cradles down the Zora Fel in Prax.  Since they no longer cause any trouble, they're my favorite thing in this whole god-forsaken region.

The Elf Sea:  This is actually a giant, deep lake.  Legend holds the Elves once sailed on it, but with Elven civilization in ruins, now it's just home to salmon.  Unfortunately, during the war with the EWF, some bozo dumped banes in the lake and now it spawns giant monsters.  Some natives live on the shore and fish anyway.  This is some combination of bravery and stupidity.

Elkoi:  One of the three great citadels.  Now home to a Sun Dome and some Imperial troops and a very cranky governor.  The area around the fortress is home to Lunar Colonists and tribes theoretically under Imperial authority.

Er’oring Wilds:  Ancient elf-dominated woods, where anyone who isn't sworn to them dies.  The Elves at least have the decency to mostly stick to themselves.  But without a Great Tree, it's said to be anarchy in there.

Gonn Orta's Pass:  Home to the ancient giant Gonn Orta, who is a priest of Issaries and controls the only pass between Balazar and Prax.  He is friendly to visitors and one of the few lights of civilization, even if civilization = a stone floor, a decent fireplace, and people who aren't thugs.

Gork's Hills:  Once upon a time, this was Elf Forest.  Now it's forested, but home to the roving dead, weird mutants from the end of the EWF, dangerous artifacts, the roving dead, bears with the head of a dragon, cows who claim to be Storm Bull's children, the roving dead, the hungry dead, the soul-eating dead, more mutant bears, and an ancient Vampire who once was part of the EWF.  And his children.  And their children.  Their zombie friends.  The corpse-eating dead.  Other vampires from Kralorela whose heads fly around trailing entrails.  It's bad news.

Greatway:  The Dwarves largely keep to themselves save during salmon season but they trade on a small scale with the locals, mostly for certain herbs and hides.  Obsidian is the biggest item they trade to the locals.  

Griffin Mountain:  Three guesses what lives there.  The locals periodically try to tame them and get eaten.  They may be guarding an ancient treasure of the EWF, but if you know what's good for you, you don't want it.

High Woods:  Brown elves tend both conifers and deciduous trees.  This is Elf-ruled but the Elves are somewhat calmer than the ones of the Er'oring Wilds.

Highbridge:  A Dwarf-forged bridge; it is the easiest way to cross the Dwerrow River.  During the salmon run, you will find many Votanki here busy fishing.  

Look Hill:  The highest point in the West Plain; an ancient shrine to Ernalda stands here, which the Empire has not been able to keep destroyed.  

South Wood:  Theoretically elf-ruled, mostly inhabited by Elf-Friends.  They trade with the Greataway Dwarves.

Trilus:  One of the three ancient citadels of Balazar.  It has been captured by Odaylings, who now have a temple to the Lightbringers here.  This temple enables them to raise the dead.  The hills around here are particular prone to brambles, though also fruit.  Evil Ernalda cultists here constantly plot against our beloved Empire.

Valley of Hammers:  Nothing grows here; you can easily pass up the valley to Greatway to trade with the Dwarves.  Great hammers line the road and beat up any trolls who get too close.

 Adventure Seeds:

  • Ernalda Rising:  Ernalda cultists are up to something on Look Hill.  Put a stop to it.  
  • The Giant Mutant Chaos Bear:  Some bear found old EWF kibble and now he's 100 feet tall and rampaging with a dragon head that breathes poison gas.  It comes running for the taste of colonists.  Please do something about it.
  • Greatway Trade Run:  We need metals, they have metals.  Protect this caravan, go to Greatway, buy metal, bring it back to Elkoi, don't die at the hands of the Elves.
  • Heal the Tree:  If you can find a way to heal the Great Tree of Balazar, the Elves would do just about anything for you.  So make it so!
  • Mork the Dork:  Mork is a vampire child of Gork; he claims he is an 'orc', but no such things exist, so we assume he's crazy.  He may also be infected with Nysalorean Riddling.  Put him down before he 'enlightens' anyone else.  
  • Rescue the Official:  The new Imperial Tax Collector, Phillipus, has been carried off by the Hawk Hsunchen to Dykene.   Please rescue him.
  • The Treasure of Griffin Mountain:  Sure, the locals claim the treasure is a rare berry but we can use the loot; recover it and you get a cut!  




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On 11/10/2020 at 10:22 AM, g33k said:

This strikes me as worth a solid 50K-75K words -- at least! -- and a Jonstown Compendium release.

... just sayin' ...

On 11/10/2020 at 12:44 PM, John Biles said:


Heh.  I'll have to see if I have enough time/energy.

On 2/7/2021 at 12:18 AM, John Biles said:

... compiling everything I have written in this thread so far into some files on my computer.
(146 pages of text, to my shock!)


... just sayin' ... again.




C'es ne pas un .sig

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10 hours ago, g33k said:


... just sayin' ... again.


6 hours ago, HeartQuintessence said:

More More More!

I must have this!

I'm still fleshing this out, though at this point, I have to figure out what is yet to be done.  Probably figure out how the Hero Wars go in DP with an alternate Empire and no Argath.  (The Emperor's Dragonnewt advisor has basically ensured that.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ernalda Underground (Earth, Disorder, Fertillity) 

The persecution of Ernalda by the Empire has forced her worship underground, sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally.  Some cults in the Empire are thinly disguised Ernalda worship.  This cult, however, is the cult of Ernaldans working to destroy the Empire.

The cult uses its fertility magics covertly to get aid and comfort from backwater communities, so it can turn its resources to undercutting the Empire.  Everything from seducing Imperial officials to steal resources and misdirect orders to unleashing Earth elementals to turn the tide of battles to suddenly causing Satrap palaces to fall into new sinkholes.  Strongly allied to Babester Gor and Maran Gor, this cult makes a big mess.

The Bureau of Righteous Thought is on the move against them, which has limited their success; they have had great success in working with normal Ernaldans in Sartar against the Empire.

Meika Ernaldasdottir

The most notorious of Ernalda's agents.  She is known to be somewhere in the Imperial court, quietly sabotaging the Empire, but her shapeshifting and her charms ensure no one can catch her.  Some suspect she arranged for Igneous to die at the hands of Harrek the Berserk and that she is pulling the strings on him now in Sartar.  (Others are not so sure anyone can pull strings of any kind on Harrek beyond putting people to kill in front of him.)   High Flyeer is determined to find her and yet seems to have no luck at all.

Meika is frequently blamed for anything that goes wrong at court, even something so minor as the Emperor's muffins being overly crispy.


In public, she is a Pelandan philosopher, noted for her belief that eight is the most sacred of numbers, being perpendicular to infinity.  Her attempts to divide everything into eighths has gained her a wide following, about half of whom think she is nuts but entertainly so.  In fact, she is the head of a network of Ernaldan agents in the west and her travels to give speeches let her make contact with them.  Unlike most Ernaldans, she is versed in Pelandan sorcery.

Heinala Get-Wrecked

Reports of her are garbled.  She is an Ernaldan assassin, noted for breaking through the floor, grabbing people, and then dropping off into tunnels she dug with Ernalda's power; the bodies are never found.  Who tells her to kill remains a mystery to the Empire so far.



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