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So what’s the deal with the Elf Sea?


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I’m trying to put together a scenario where the characters will visit a small island in the Elf Sea.  Apologies in advance for not having the Guide to Glorantha or the Glorantha Sourcebook.

As best I can tell, there is no boat traffic on the Elf Sea, although it was plied in the past by specially-grown elf boats.  This ceased in the 2nd Age (IIRC), and has not resumed.  Presumably because of the water worms and big fish and other big watery monsters.

So, did the Elf Sea ever have Murthoi?  Or was it just land-lubbers on boats?

What is the movement rate of a boat?  Haven’t found that one in any of the books I have on hand.
What kinds of boats would we see?  Curraghs would seem to be natural for Balazar, but surely the Lunars on the west end of the sea would have better tech.

Unfortunately I’m still waiting on my local gaming store to get a copy of the Gloranthan Bestiary (ordered a month ago), so don’t really have a sense of what kind of watery beasties may be found therein.  Not finding many water creatures with the materials I have on hand.  Big fish just seems a bit too prosaic.

Is there a really good source of info on the Elf Sea that I’m just overlooking?

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Griffin Mountain or the Guide are the main places I would use to look up information on the Elf Sea.

The Sourcebook mentions (presumably human) cities on the Garsting shores of the Elf Sea destroyed by the horse rider Opili Nation during the Third Wane. The depopulation of the upper Arcos Valley may have played a part in the breakdown of trade there.

 

The text in the Guide suggests that the outbreak of monsters in the Elf Sea is rather recent - it might be tied to the destruction of those cities, if you like convoluted theories.

Elf river traffic on portable boats of theirs went up north on the Arcos, and also was portaged into the Oslir River catchment area, Looking at the rivers in the region, distances from the Soldier Ferry waterways feeding the Elf Sea into the Oslir catchment area are significant. Three rivers might serve as entryway to the Oslir river - Red Wyrm River (a tributary of the Black Eel river in Saird), Isildon River in Imther (near Hortugarth), or Green Vale River for a portage route north of the Imther mountains, prior to Jannisor imprisoning the Mad Sultanate horde in Tork.

It is possible that (prior to the Lunar Empire) elf boats had something of a monopoly on the upper Arcos river trade, much like the riverine Waertagi had on the Janube, Poralistor and Oronin rivers and the Darjiinians on the rivers emerging from the wetlands of Darjiin and Doblian (which had been a single expanse before the Yolp volcanoes were raised in the Storm Age).

The Oslir had many boating peoples coming together - the Nogatending swimming bird folk from the Black Eel River, Darjiinites, riverine Waertagi, and boating elves.

 

There are few inland bodies of water that are more likely to be home to blue elves in Genertela than the Elf Sea, but the presence of Elasmosaurs (the only Bestiary entry mentioning the Elf Sea) and other such large predators may have taken its toll on any such population. Then there are the Water Wyrms, who appear to be sapient enough to have rune priests. But then, Murthdryami likely have the equivalent to war trees in their kelp forests - vines able to grab and drown intruders.

 

When it comes to water beasties, you could use giant insects from Troll Pak and add two pairs of legs to arrive at crawfish monsters. The Great Diving Beetle and its larvae (which are resembling the Alien monsters in look and behavior) are frightening as is even at small scale, imagine them huge. Likewise for the larvae of giant dragonflies. Then there may be entities whose bodies are made up from water. Water nymphs have undine bodies, but less pleasant to look or meet water spirits may exist, too. Basically take the nymph stats but make them vengeful drowners of people - there are the Rusalka of slavic myth, or similar entities like the Neckr from Germanic myth (I think detailed in RQ3 Vikings), and I seem to recall a mention of the Celtic equivalent somewhere in the D&D monster manuals. Possibly a refugee population of water spirits after some of the Dara Happan, Carmanian or Lunar purges of Water spirits in the Oslir catchment area, with a deep grudge similar to that of the Hellwood elves in Dorastor.

Irrigation is a foe of the wilder entities of rivers and wetlands. While the Weeder civilizationin Dara Happa may have lived in a balance of propitiation and warding against them, the wet farmers may have gone towards subduing those they could and killing or chasing off those they could not. The Pelorian rice belt is ancient, it dominated the Golden Age civilizations of Peloria on those river or at least connected wetland valleys which somehow seem to have pre-existed the coming and taming of Sshorga. Myths or histories almost write themselves.

 

The Glorious ReAscent of Yelm hints at a Golden Age civilization in Dara Happa with humans created by the gods farming rice using gazzam - IMO fluffy downy dinosaurs, creatures of the lower heavens akin to horses and birds - the court of King Gryphon (the version on the Gods Wall, not Galgarenge), maybe. Possibly alongside bird-headed or -bodied folk from the earliest Golden Age, another form of lowest heavens denizens now lost to myth and history. Northern Peloria was the first battleground where the Chaos horde led by Wakboth and the Unholy Trio destroyed the world and its memories. The Rinliddi folk may have a few fragments of knowledge of an older avi/dinotopia in northern Peloria, before Umath's birth caused a first flood, his demise a huge impact crater, his grandson Valind froze over the place, and his other grandson Wakboth erazed many of the barely surviving entities on his way to the Celestial Court. The lost urban Arcos civilization (Jarst and Garsting have little in the way of cities left) may have remembered more, but hardly anything has been published about them.

There was no urban civilization in the region after the Glacier, when the Starlight Ancestors (of several of the later horse warlord people) roamed those lands, but urban culture was re-discovered later on. And conquered by horse warlords, and destroyed by horse warlords.

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7 hours ago, GMKen said:

Gloranthan Bestiary (ordered a month ago)

The Bestiary mentions Elasmosauri live in the elf sea and it's tributaries, so a very good reason not to sail a small boat there.  But an excellent for Jaws inspired scenarios.

4 hours ago, Joerg said:

Griffin Mountain

I would second Joerg on this.

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7 hours ago, GMKen said:

Gloranthan Bestiary (ordered a month ago)

Whilst you wait, I have stats for Elasmosaurs, generated for my campaign.  They usually hunt alone and prefer to grab one victim and swim off with them and eat them, than to stay for a fight.

I must update my list of generated stats, as I can see the one on the download section predates my Elasmosaurs.  I've got all sorts of Aldryami now...

https://basicroleplaying.org/files/file/833-npc-squads-txtzip-npc-squads-pdfzip/

Elasmosaurus.pdf Elasmosaurus.txt

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1 minute ago, Stephen L said:

Hunt?  Are you mad!

I am, but you are the one that proposed 'Jaws' inspired scenarios. And hunting the elasmosaurus is more on-theme than the people sunbathing on the beach, even if I could easily imagine people surfing while other are listening a bard singing Surfin' Esrolia.

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9 hours ago, GMKen said:

Curraghs would seem to be natural for Balazar, but surely the Lunars on the west end of the sea would have better tech.

The Lunars at the west end of the sea are in the provincial kingdom of Imther.  Imther itself is a rugged mountainous land and it trails eastward into rough forested hills that end at the Elf Sea.  Aside from one river noted for its falls and cascades, the other rivers from Imther drain south or west to reach the Black Eel and Oslir Rivers - so nothing that takes you to the Elf Sea.  

While there is plenty of timber along the Elf Sea, there's no compelling reason for the Lunars to try to build boats there (particularly with the threat of monstrous sea creatures).  It's far easier for the Lunars to approach through the Arcos River valley.  That's the drainage for the Elf Sea itself and it flows north.  But that valley is home to barbarian tribes outside the Lunar Empire.

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15 hours ago, GMKen said:

As best I can tell, there is no boat traffic on the Elf Sea, although it was plied in the past by specially-grown elf boats.  This ceased in the 2nd Age (IIRC), and has not resumed.  Presumably because of the water worms and big fish and other big watery monsters.

Yes, in my Glorantha the Elf sea is full of monsters that stops boats.

15 hours ago, GMKen said:

So, did the Elf Sea ever have Murthoi?  Or was it just land-lubbers on boats?

I seem to remember it had both.

15 hours ago, GMKen said:

What is the movement rate of a boat?  Haven’t found that one in any of the books I have on hand.

It depends on the boat, but I think that RQ3 had speeds of up to 4 knots (miles per hour, forget the nautical mile for convenience). Small ships had higher speeds.

I have a section on ships in the forthcoming Book of Doom.

15 hours ago, GMKen said:

What kinds of boats would we see?  Curraghs would seem to be natural for Balazar, but surely the Lunars on the west end of the sea would have better tech.

Curraghs and coracles make sense, so do dugout and leather canoes.

Lunars might have proper boats from their own river traffic.

15 hours ago, GMKen said:

Unfortunately I’m still waiting on my local gaming store to get a copy of the Gloranthan Bestiary (ordered a month ago), so don’t really have a sense of what kind of watery beasties may be found therein.  Not finding many water creatures with the materials I have on hand.  Big fish just seems a bit too prosaic.

Water serpents, sea dragons, plesiosaurs, large crocodiles, sharks, big fish, whatever you want really.

 

15 hours ago, GMKen said:

Is there a really good source of info on the Elf Sea that I’m just overlooking?

Griffin Mountain is the best source, but that doesn't have much on the Elf Sea.

 

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9 hours ago, Oracle said:
12 hours ago, soltakss said:

I have a section on ships in the forthcoming Book of Doom.

...

 

(emphasis mine): What's that?

New Jonstown Compendium supplement, containing spot rules for ships, buildings, alchemy, trading and c500 new skills and spells.

So, if the Red Book of Magic doesn't have enough spells for you, the Book of Doom should scratch your itch.

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The Elf Sea is, for most intents and purposes, a backwater. In short, few rivers of consequence flow into it, and the ones that flow out of it don't really go anywhere that important. It's full of sea monsters now, which pretty much deter all but foolhardy monster hunters. Few people live near it or on its shores. Why is it that way? The short answer is that's how the authors of Griffin Mountain wanted it to be. Personally I know there's at least one Hadrosaur in there Elf Sea that gets visited by Duck Pilgrims on occasion.

Edited by Rick Meints
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Thanks for all of the great input.  I do have Griffin Mountain (GM), and just ordered the POD so that I can put away my old copy and hopefully preserve it from falling apart much more (joining my 2nd Ed. rule book and 2nd printing William Church cover Cults of Prax, since I have the Kickstarter hardcover and Cult Compendium to work with).  And yes, it is frustratingly light on details about the Elf Sea.  Poking around the internet didn’t help much either, and I have pretty good google fu.

The crocodiles I want to keep to the shorelines and rivers.  Ideally the party is going to be sailing to a small island a few miles out, where there is some kind of decrepit structure abandoned when the monsters closed the sea.  Elasmosauri and plesiosaurs and hadrosaurs are all dinosaurs, and so dragon-related.  Hmmmm.  Going to have to do some more digging into that.  Why was there suddenly a lot of bad dragonewts showing up in the Elf Sea?

Looking forward to Book of Doom if it’s going to have some good watercraft rules.  Want to look for relevant spells in RBOM, but the dead elf edition isn’t due until Q2.  Ugh.  Yeah, I know about the pdf discount, but I work from paper.  And the budget is already being set aside for the Guide to Glorantha (which it seems I can’t order through my local game store.  Their distributor apparently has a lot of issues, hence the monthlong wait for the Bestiary).
I do wonder how deep the Elf Sea is.  Guess it’s going to be aluminum armor and tridents and a bag full of frog masks...

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7 hours ago, GMKen said:

Elasmosauri and plesiosaurs and hadrosaurs are all dinosaurs, and so dragon-related.  Hmmmm.  Going to have to do some more digging into that.  Why was there suddenly a lot of bad dragonewts showing up in the Elf Sea?

Love this! In some sources there was an aberrant Dawn Age dragonewt community in the Elder Wilds. I think you've found them. After all, they apparently held the Water Seat on the Council so 

Hurrah, I awake from yesterday
Alive, but the war is here to stay
So my love, [untranslatable?\ and me,
Decide to take our last walk through the noise to the sea
Not to die but to reborn,

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7 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Love this! In some sources there was an aberrant Dawn Age dragonewt community in the Elder Wilds. I think you've found them. After all, they apparently held the Water Seat on the Council so 

Hurrah, I awake from yesterday
Alive, but the war is here to stay
So my love, [untranslatable?\ and me,
Decide to take our last walk through the noise to the sea
Not to die but to reborn,

My pet theory is that underneath the Elf Sea is where the Blue Dragon is resting/sleeping.

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14 hours ago, GMKen said:

I do wonder how deep the Elf Sea is.  Guess it’s going to be aluminum armor and tridents and a bag full of frog masks...

According to the Ancestor of the Lenshi Kings, there used to be a huge glacier in the region (Storm Age/Great Darkness).  The Starlight Ancestors (Zarkosite hunters led by Star Captains and soon to be ancestral to the Horse Nomads - Chariot Riders) had a fight there which melted the Glacier.

So I doubt it is very deep (ie Lake Baikal depth).  It may be deep but not significantly so.

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3 hours ago, metcalph said:

According to the Ancestor of the Lenshi Kings, there used to be a huge glacier in the region (Storm Age/Great Darkness).  The Starlight Ancestors (Zarkosite hunters led by Star Captains and soon to be ancestral to the Horse Nomads - Chariot Riders) had a fight there which melted the Glacier.

So I doubt it is very deep (ie Lake Baikal depth).  It may be deep but not significantly so.

I'm just spitballing of course, but if they want the sea to be deep, maybe the lowlying areas today covered by the Elf Sea covers the site of one or more deep lakes. Sorta like dumping a Caspian sea on top of one or more Lake Baikals.

Obviously just fudging it around a bit to get to a potentially desired result. Dry rift valleys are also possible, of course.

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It is worth mentioning that it is called the Elf Sea as it was once home to the Aldryami fleet who sailed their living tree ships on it.  It is also home to Elf Sea Salmon that migrate up and down the rivers and get eaten by all the huge dinosaurs.  Elf Sea salmon have a 4 year reproductive migration cycle.  While the Elf Sea borders the Elder Wilds and there are elves about, there don't appear to be any Murthoi living there.  The Elf Sea is likely considered a bit of a nuisance by locals as it is potentially a very useful waterway that is rendered too dangerous to use by all those aquatic dinosaurs.  No doubt there is a deity associated with it who has ties to Maran Gor or Dragonewts, and either loves or hates the dinosaurs.  I wouldn't rule out the possibility that the Elf Sea deity is a child of Magasta who has a thing for monsters "like papa does".

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Now I may be overthinking things...  So I took a closer look at the dimensions of the Elf Sea, and as far as I can tell it is at best about 120km east to west and about 65km north to south.  This makes it approximately the size of the Great Salt Lake or Lake Khanka (which is freshwater and so probably a better comparison).  So the first question that pops into my head is can you see the far shore?  My physicist brain is trying to figure out horizon distances, but I realized that Glorantha, as a lozenge, wouldn’t follow those rules.  Like I said, overthinking it...  But I’m still curious, would 65km (about what, 39-40 miles) be a reasonable sight distance across a body of water in Glorantha?

Yeah, and the depth question...  Given the fairly gentle slopes down towards the sea, I wouldn’t expect it to be too deep.  Then again, maybe a chunk of the Spike impacted there, punching the surrounding terrain downwards toward the impact site and creating a deep hole and birthing a water goddess to fill the volume.  Or not.  If shallow, then Frog Masks are definitely a good option.  They would seem to limit your line of sight, though, making aquatic ambushes quite likely.  Heh, heh, heh.  Would provide access to any sunken wrecks of the living boats of the Aldryami, which would be interesting.  Who knows what kind of lost treasures might be found therein...

 

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On 12/22/2020 at 12:58 PM, Kloster said:

Yes, good idea. But who would hunt an aquatic lizard of more that 2 tons and 10 meters long with bronze age weapons, even enhanced with magic?

Is it any worse than whaling? Harpoon and drogue should work?

Edited by Akhôrahil
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As for the depth o

23 hours ago, metcalph said:

According to the Ancestor of the Lenshi Kings, there used to be a huge glacier in the region (Storm Age/Great Darkness).  The Starlight Ancestors (Zarkosite hunters led by Star Captains and soon to be ancestral to the Horse Nomads - Chariot Riders) had a fight there which melted the Glacier.

So I doubt it is very deep (ie Lake Baikal depth).  It may be deep but not significantly so.

The Elf sea predates the arrival of the glaciers during the Great Darkness. In the Guide to Glorantha it mentions that those glaciers froze the Elf Sea. I think at least part of the Sea could be quite deep, especially if the GM sees a way to make it part of an adventure. Why go shallow?

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