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What happens when the Smoking Ruins stop smoking?


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I am working on a campaign for my rpg group, and am trying to expand The Smoking Ruins adventure recently published in The Smoking Ruins & Other Stories book to the start of the campaign where the PCs work to rebuild Korolstead as a human town. The PCs are Orlanthi champions seeking to build a new home for and strengthen their clan.  Their clan has been driven out of their old home for reasons yet undetermined and start play as guests or rather refugees at Clearwine. The first adventure will basically follow the book. After that the PCs will work on exploring the Smoking Ruins and clear out the troll spirits and other nasties. As they do, the ruins will stop smoking.  I figure I can have the PCs bring other warriors from their clan in to help secure the place during expeditions and as the smoke clears perhaps start settling the area.  However the smoke clearing will be noticed and I'm trying to figure out what reactions would come.

From what I can tell the factions would be:

  • Local Vendref - Neutral to warm to the new settlers.  From what I figure they'd be happy to have the ruins cleared and the smoke no longer drifting down their valley.  There may be conflict as they move into the areas that were previously too smokey for habitation. They would also be the first to notice.
  • Pure Horse People - Informed by the local vendref, they would consider the PCs new settlement to be more vendref in their territory. Happy to no longer have a haunted ruins as long as the new settlement plays along. This relationship would be up to the PCs and negotiation. The Smoking Ruins have been abandoned for a long time they probably would be content to let the newcomers deal with the lingering hauntings as long as they didn't become too powerful.
  • The Dragonnewts - ???
  • The Beastmen - As long as their shrine is honored and not desecrated they probably don't care too much. Hiaa's Valley is not in their territory (I think). 
  • The Uz - Ancestor spirits are contactable now. 
  • Tarsj Exiles - New trading partners/not concerned initially. 

I want to figure out what would likely happen, and how quickly. 

For a theme in the game I am working on ideas for the PC's clan to have been pushed out of their old home, probably not knowing exactly why.  Perhaps with the idea that they did something wrong to mirror the theme of atonement that the first adventure has. Also I can't set too much in stone here as I'd work this up with my group.  Currently we're running in a game run by another GM so I've got a couple months probably.  I've been reading other threads going over what might really have happened and the history of the place.

Any ideas, suggestions or notes?

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short answer: renamed to "the smoked reclamation project"

more serious response to follow after work

edit: why would I do my job?

Ok so. How large is the PC clan? if it is a small clan they could claim the entire smoking ruin and set it up as one giant fortified compound. the blessing from ernalda would quickly make the local land highly farmable, so your clan can plow and eat. Leika will probably sponsor you with all kinds of grain and cattle if you gave her the mirror.

As you say, the horsespawn will naturally come andndemand supplication. will it be war or diplomacy...?

Edited by coffeemancer
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The size of the PC clan I would like to leave up to the PCs at the start.  Probably small to medium.  The idea would be that the larger the clan the worse the backstory/curse that follows them.  I want to give them some control and input into that backstory.  

Vendref would be the first neighbors they meet and probably come into conflict with, esp if they decide to farm outside the city walls.  In My Glorantha, I've decided that the valley around the ruins was largely uninhabited because of the smoke, however it was used as grazeland and hayfields part of the year depending on when the winds come in and clear out the smoke and when the winds hold the smoke in the valley.  With the smoke gone those hundreds if not thousands of hides of land become open for farming and looking at the map the valley widens out in that area.  In Korolstead's hayday it probably was prosperous because of this large area of farmland. The local vendref would have some claim to the land. Their horselords would be likely to support that claim.

The next big thing is that the city is likely to become a major holy site.  Orlanth and Ernalda's wedding site is nothing to sneaze at and with investigation the idea will grow and spread.  This would bring in a lot of settlers and faithful.

Finally one major benefit to the horselords would be increased trade as traders would no longer need to avoid the area and it looks like the lower route to the ruins the PCs use could also be used or at least developed into a shorter trade route between Queens Post and Duck Point. 

Again a lot of this would depend on how strong in force the PCs come with their clan and how diplomatic they choose to be.  The horse lords would certainly take appeasement without too much trouble.  Some taxes, allowing their nobles to stable within the walls (to make sure the doors don't get shut against them) etc. 

I may be mistaken on some of my assumptions. Still working into the lore, but once rubber hits the road it becomes my Gloranta anyway.  Still no need to re-invent the wheel.

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When the group I played with got the Smoking Ruin to stop smoking, it was under the following circumstances:

1) The draconic curse of Atonement on the troll ghosts there was fully resolved.  Kajak-ab's tribe was danced off into the Underworld en masse, and Vamargic's tribe was released once he relinquished control of his undead slaves and surrendered to death.

2) Vamargic was defeated by a Unity Battle, a this-world heroquest of the mythic battle in the Greater Darkness when Only Old One led the many peoples of Dragon Pass to defeat the Devil's horde outside the ruins of Nochet.  Orlanthi, Old Tarshites, Grazelanders, Beastpeople, elves, trolls and trollkin all participated.  All spirits bound to the eye-necklace were freed, and the necklace itself destroyed (via troll stomach).

3) The fragment of Ernalda's mirror was discovered in the player characters' first scouting of the ruins and taken to the Clearwine Earth temple, where it still resided at the time of the Smoking Ruin Unity Battle.

The result was a little pocket of the world that started to feel a lot like Silver Age Esrolia.  The resulting community was home to Earth-worshiping humans from Old Tarsh and Sartar, Shadow Plateau dark trolls from a variety of Darkness cults, swarms of Lost Valley trollkin whose leaders were initiated into the worship of Argan Argar and Humakt by the player characters, elves resettled from the Clearwine grove, and a nomadic population of Beast Valley people (mostly centaurs and minotaurs) who made the new site a part of their seasonal round.  Its dominant runic influences were Earth, embodied in the great Earth Temple beneath the Ernalda garden; Darkness, embodied in the Kyger Litor Dancing Grounds; and Harmony, shared by the Ernalda and Argan Argar cults that directed the Earth and Darkness communities respectively.  The community's wyter was a spirit of Darkness and Harmony from Storm Age Korolstead, summoned with the help of Urvantan from Lost Valley immediately after the Unity Battle.  The community was not meant to be a revival of Korolstead: it was a new thing, named Ashen Rise by its new Earth priestess.  The wyter bound itself to the lance of the Argan Argar warrior who began the Unity Battle quest, and he became the first king of Ashen Rise.  The Orlanthi contingent of the Unity Army either died in the battle (under the charge of Vamargic's centaur skeleton cavalry) or chose not to settle afterward; when more Orlanthi (mostly from Clearwine) arrived to join the community, they refurbished Orlanth Hill and brought Air back into prominence in the runic mix of the settlement, though subordinated to Earth and Darkness.  The Grazelanders, who were not fighting far from home, did not choose to settle in the new community, but their participation created friendly initial relations between Ashen Rise and the Grazelander Queendom.

In the weeks after the battle and the community's founding, its Earth priestess negotiated a sharing agreement for the fragment of Ernalda's mirror with the Clearwine temple: the mirror would spend the first half of each year in Clearwine and the second half in Ashen Rise. changing hands after Sacred Time and during Earth Season respectively.  The mirror was thus present for the community's first Sacred Time heroquest, "The Wooing of Esrola," in which Argan Argar and Ernalda rescued Esrola from her confinement with Lodril.  Its success combined with the power of the community's Earth temple, the work of Ashen Rise's elves in their new grove,  and the presence of the mirror to bring intense fertility magic to the plateau and the valley beneath it.  The same quest also compelled Lodril to magically dig irrigation canals in the valley floor and rebuild much of the old Korolstead entirely ruins in obsidian.

Within a year of settlement the community had grown to several hundreds, and become the chokepoint of a new roadless troll caravan route permitted by the Beast Valley centaurs between Duck Point and the Grazelands.  Trolls and trollkin lived in its expanded caves, humans on its rebuilt surface, and elves in their regrown woods around the Earth temple and on the valley floor.  Politically, the community's relations with the major powers to its east and west were resolved by marriage and negotiation: its Earth priestess accepted the courtship of a Clearwine Orlanthi runelord, while its king arranged a marriage to a daughter of the chieftain of the Four Gifts tribe--the Feathered Horse Queen blessed the latter marriage in person, in the community's Earth temple.  Magically, Ashen Rise developed relationships with new spirits: the town's magicians made contact with the oreiad of the mountain behind it, a great Darkness bear came back with the town's warriors from fighting for the Feathered Horse Queen in Tarsh, and the stream that flows from the Ernalda garden woke up.  That stream proved to be a daughter of the Oslir river dragon and Shargash, rousing for the first time from a sleep that began during the Golden Age, and she was integrated into the community as a truly frightful demigoddess of war.  The place was governed by a city ring composed of the king, Earth priestess, and a representative for each of its constituent communities: trolls, trollkin, beastpeople, Tarshites, Sartarites, elves, etc.  The ghost of old King Korol Kandaros sometimes appears at legal functions, having given his official blessing to Ashen Rise as a successor community to Korolstead.

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32 minutes ago, coffeemancer said:

are the vendref even allowed to carry weapons?

The turtle-shelled Humakti bodyguards of the Feathered Horse Queen are recruited from the Vendref, which means that at least a subset of the Vendref is allowed to carry weapons even swords, and to train with them.

On a practical note, a herder should be able to use a spear in defense against predators. You cannot really plow your fields without keeping a small herd of cattle to replenish your oxen, so there will be Vendref herders of cattle, and probably of some sheep, too, but probably less than in Sartar or (Lunar or Old) Tarsh.

32 minutes ago, coffeemancer said:

allowing the vendref and riders to worship there could be a diplomatic solution. tje feathered horsequeen is an earth priestess after all

Korolstead used to be the seat of the High Kings of the Heortlings in the Silver and Dawn Age until the Gbaji Wars. The citadel is easily the size of Clearwine, and quite likely as large as Alda-chur. Most of it is now rubble, covered by vegetation and wind-blown soil captured by that.

 

Korolstead did start out as a Vingkotling hill fort, something that combines cyclopean walls, high ground and earthen ramparts, with pasture and some arable land inside the generous enclosed area. Only since the Gbaji Wars the entire citadel became used for housing, effectively becoming a city during the Kingdom of Orlanthland and its successor, the EWF.

If EWF architecture copied the Dragonewt cities to some extent, a lot of the lower class buildings from that time would have been constructed from adobe. Now adobe basically is clay and organic fibre, rather thick layers of that, and upon erosion this does leave behind potentially fertile soil, so it is possible that after five centuries of neglect a significant part of the citadel may have arable soil inside its fortification - a mini-Old Pavis situation. It also helps explain the thick layer of soil and debris that gathered on top of the Vingkotling foundations (where the Earth Temple holding the mirror was located, in later times as an underground sacred place if not already in Vingkotling times).

The Koroltes tribe probably made active use of the mirror while it existed, and then returned it underground to the sacred place, but then in the EWF era new cereals with even better yield appeared inside the Dragon Dream, and the old Ernaldan rites may have been suspended as the return of investment fell down, and its cult may have been somehow altered into that of an earth dragon as the aspect of the Earth Queen. Possibly using a green dragon scale instead of the mirror for such rites, and that scale might still be found somewhere in the recesses of the earth temple, too. Now that the shard is used by the Colymar, new settlers might revive the use of that dragon shard?

The FHQ may or may not support another such Walker City as a market inside her realm. It is unlikely that any of the Grazer clans has been using this haunted place as pasture, and there are certainly no Vendref settled here yet, but with the curse broken, the neighboring clans surely will covet the lands surrounding the citadel if not the citadel itself. But centuries of warfare and raiding with the Orlanthi neighbors in Tarsh, Esrolia and Sartar will have taught them the military importance of living next to a strong fortification, even if it doesn't support their normal way of fighting. So would many a mercenary company that might want a home base. 

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On 11/27/2020 at 7:15 PM, Gerald S said:

The next big thing is that the city is likely to become a major holy site.  Orlanth and Ernalda's wedding site is nothing to sneeze at and with investigation the idea will grow and spread.  This would bring in a lot of settlers and faithful.

So, has anything been published about Inkarne, the current Feathered Horse Queen (starting in 1625)? I ask because while her predecessor, Vistera, was anti-Lunar, the Feathered Horse Queen before her, Mirina, was a militant Lunar sympathizer.

If Inkarne is in the Lunar orbit anything like Mirina was (ok, not sorry about the pun), things might become very complicated very fast for your new settlement. A Lunar sympathizer in command of the Grazelands would not tolerate anything celebrating the union of Orlanth and Ernalda. It could mean teams of assassins, a wave of Broo assaulting the area, or a formal siege.

These are just my thoughts. What do you think? I enjoy pondering theoretical politics for the campaign I am readying, set in the Grazelands but starting in 1623.

 

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37 minutes ago, Storm Khan said:

So, has anything been published about Inkarne, the current Feathered Horse Queen (starting in 1625)?

 King of Sartar: She appears to be allied to Jandetin the Avenger and going to marry Argrath in 1629, making him King of Dragon Pass. Mark text to see spoilers.

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On 11/29/2020 at 10:25 PM, Storm Khan said:

So, has anything been published about Inkarne, the current Feathered Horse Queen (starting in 1625)? I ask because while her predecessor, Vistera, was anti-Lunar, the Feathered Horse Queen before her, Mirina, was a militant Lunar sympathizer.

If Inkarne is in the Lunar orbit anything like Mirina was (ok, not sorry about the pun), things might become very complicated very fast for your new settlement. A Lunar sympathizer in command of the Grazelands would not tolerate anything celebrating the union of Orlanth and Ernalda. It could mean teams of assassins, a wave of Broo assaulting the area, or a formal siege.

These are just my thoughts. What do you think? I enjoy pondering theoretical politics for the campaign I am readying, set in the Grazelands but starting in 1623.

 

Right now I'm thinking of letting Inkarne be somewhat determined by the player's actions.  Having her come in as somewhat neutral to the Lunars. Events could change that such as her marrying a Sartarite king, or having to ally with the Lunars with help for a common for/thorn in the side of a new encroaching upstarts Sartarite settlement.

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4 minutes ago, Gerald S said:

Right now I'm thinking of letting Inkarne be somewhat determined by the player's actions.  

It is a good idea to let your PC's deal with the ramifications of their own behavior. I imagine the cost of an over-aggressive stance will be high, body-count high.

I bought the Smoking Ruin scenario recently. My game is set in 1623; I am going to add a Lunar squad exploring the ruins simultaneously with my VERY anti-Lunar PC's. The Lunars will be scouting another route through the Grazelands on the way to Esrolia and the siege of Nochet. Here's hoping that will be exciting.

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On 11/28/2020 at 6:31 PM, Rodney Dangerduck said:

It becomes "The Ruins"?  🙂

The still have the cravings; but their cave capacity increases, they begin to have less shakes, feel less agitated, their well being in general improves and they are less likely to get diseases and broo infestations. A win all round!

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18 hours ago, Orlanthatemyhamster said:

The still have the cravings; but their cave capacity increases, they begin to have less shakes, feel less agitated, their well being in general improves and they are less likely to get diseases and broo infestations. A win all round!

<snort>

I'm afraid I'd have taken it in a completely different direction.

The loss of the "smoke" means the fumaroles have closed, which will result in an increase in the below-ground pressures -- eventually leading to an eruption...

 

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3 hours ago, Darius West said:

It becomes the Ex-Smoking Ruins, and the bards will not stop talking about it.

And eventually everyone gets tired of saying the new long name and just starts calling it Ex (and know we know how the Praxian site came to be called by its name, too). 😉 

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On 12/6/2020 at 4:00 AM, Baron Wulfraed said:

What? Having a party try to live through the local version of Vesuvius/Pompeii?

Well, in all likelihood, it'll get the shakes for a while, and then a cough that'll last for a while as it tries to clear itself out of any excess smoke. And expect a lot of grumbling, griping, sulking, nastiness, antagonism, etc.

It'll probably be quickly used for farming, as criss-crossed patches around will help keep the shaking down.

Should also be re-named the "Should take up an interesting hobby ruins".

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