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The power of the Wolfrunners


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I have always found surprising how the Wolfrunners manage to hold their ground that successfully and against so many enemies. 

First they arrive in the 1460s (probably from the woods south of Aggar? Or maybe Dorastor?) and defeat the Torkani, stealing their former land and forcing them to move close to the indigo mountains, that seems reasonable, it's a war mainly against a lone tribe, and one that had previously suffered another defeat, so they may have not recovered yet when the Telmori arrived. But then it seems that the Torkani, Malani, Culbrea, Maboder and Cisina, 5 tribes, form an alliance against them, yet the Telmori again win, holding their ground on an open war against all them until Sartar arrives and makes peace. Then when the Lunar Empire conquers Sartar in the early XVII century, the war starts again, prompted by the lunars. On this war, the Wolfrunners annihilate the Maboder, and contain the others, only being defeated by Jomes Wulf and his lunar mercenaries (who apparently occupy part of the former Maboder lands). 

How can they be so successful? They have neither metalworking nor horses, they draw their magical power from only one god (Telmor) and spirits, while the surrounding orlanthi have many gods and spirits at their disposal, most of who are far more powerful than Telmor. Have the so colled "allies" never really worked together? Are they really that good at guerrilla? If this is the case why do they lose against Wulf? Also they seem to be pretty populous for hunter-gatherers, 6800, in an area of similar size than the tribal lands of the Malani (8000) but lacking any type of urbanization. And does this figure (6800) include the direwolfs? Because if it doesn't you can double their population in regards of effective fighting force, and they could have a bigger army that any tribe, but how can they maintain it? 

Just wanted to know the forum's take on this bc I alone find it hard to create a believable narrative of this part of DP history. 

Edited by Jape_Vicho
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1 minute ago, metcalph said:

It could but who has access to enchant bronze in your glorantha?

I suppose that any Gustbran initiate. 

1 minute ago, jajagappa said:

Generally no.  You need the other enchanted Rune metals (e.g. silver, iron) to do the damage.  

By this you mean that enchanted bronze can't hurt the Telmori? Or that bronze can't be enchanted?

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14 minutes ago, Jape_Vicho said:

I suppose that any Gustbran initiate. 

By this you mean that enchanted bronze can't hurt the Telmori? Or that bronze can't be enchanted?

"Bronze is the most important metal of Glorantha.
It can be mined on its own but is more commonly made
by alloying copper and tin. No Enchant rituals for it
are common, but normal non-magical forging makes
perfectly serviceable weapons, tools, and armor."

-Rune Metals table, taken specifically from Red Book of Magic p. 47

Essentially, enchanted bronze is a rare secret. Now, it's easier to enchant copper or silver or lead, but these make bad weapons in most cases, and more importantly, if you start making them, it's apparent you're going to be going wolf hunting soon. Which may well attract strong Telmori retribution.

The other factor here is that the Telmori do not have many centers to attack. They do not have towns. They do not have fields. They do not have much infrastructure. But they have the ability to strike at long distances. So even if you had a whole stockpile of silver sling bullets with Enchant (Armor-Piercing) cast on them, you would be faced with the basic problem that the usual methods of warfare are not particularly effective on Telmori. They can hit you harder than you can hit them, unless you escalate to the kind of massive state-backed violence of Jomes Wulf that allows you to destroy the limited infrastructure the Telmori rely on.

On the converse side, the Telmori, like most hsunchen, are fairly fragile. They have a limited population density, they live on the fringes of developed territory, in land that's not particularly wanted by anyone. One of the consequences of this is that they exist in a relatively delicate balance with the farming Sartarites, one where they must maintain their relative position via the potential for overwhelming violence. The Maboder War and the fallout from that suggests what happens when there isn't a Prince in Sartar to smooth things over.

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The Telmori don't have to strike at the people, they can strike at the herds of the neighboring clans. Without any custom or obligation to pay weregeld, this is hard on the herders, too.  Without the distant pastures, the neighboring clans face economic ruin as pastoralism is essential for wealth generation in pre-Sartar Quivinilands.

Wolves strike at soft targets, and avoid the strong ones. They find and separate the soft targets by disrupting herd cohesion.

The Maboder apparently took up Hill Fort farming as a countermeasure to the Telmori raids, limiting their livestock to the immediate surroundings of their fortified steads in a manner similar to the late Vingkotling survival sites. With their herds drastically reduced, other neighboring tribes like the Malani and the Sanchali became the new targets of the wolf runners.

 

According to The Coming Storm, the Telmori crossed the Creek in 1452, so their presence in the region was maybe 30 years before Sartar created the Jonstown Confederation and put them under contractual protection. Their arrival may have been seen as a temporary presence of a dangerous migratory folk who hopefully would pack up their belongings and wander onward, but onward there was only barren Prax, totally unlike their normal habitat of forested hills, so the Telmori had nowhere to move on towards. By the time of the formation of Jonstown, the Telmori were as desperate as the Orlanthi they fought. There is no way they would have faced the organized army of Hauberk Jon in the field otherwise.

 

To say that the Telmori are limited to Telmor as their deity ignores Nysalor's gift that was cursed by Talor. There are numerous other spirits in the region, too, like the Six Sister hills.

The Telmori probably have plenty of ruins from the EWF, Second Council or Vingkotling eras which they can use for defensible dens. In their Dr. Jekyll phases as carnivorous Hsunchen they are capable hunters and fighters with supernatural coordination with their wolves, and the myths of Telmor have plenty cases where Telmor is Death embodied - in Hsunchen myths it was Telmor, not Humakt (wielded by Orlanth), who slew (and ate) the sun. They would have found and identified with the Hidden Kings myth of the late Vingkotling era, too, already upon entering Aggar and Saird.

 

The Princes of Sartar had two (rivaling) bodyguard forces, one half century of Humakti and one of Telmori. Led by descendants of Ostling Four Wolves, and later on by offspring from his pup from Onelisin, these forces commanded as much respect and fear as the Humakti. But then, Humakt is associated with wolves, too, and there is a possibility that the Telmori bodyguards attended the Humakt services of the bodyguards. The Household of Death was formed around Telmori-spawned royal children turning to Humakt.

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On 1/16/2021 at 10:49 PM, Jape_Vicho said:

Just wanted to know the forum's take on this bc I alone find it hard to create a believable narrative of this part of DP history. 

It seems like they combine guerilla operations with being incredibly good once per week, hard to hurt and with incredible mobility - the Maboder extermination was a blitzkrieg. They run into problems when the opposition knows what they’re doing and can bring magic. Even just Bladesharp/Speedart gives the opposition a shot, and Fireblade and enchanted weapons negate it completely. Tribes used to fighting them will do their best to stack up on such tools.

Telmori likely can’t win in any extended war - both economy and demographics are against them.

Lots of information in Red Cow on these wars.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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On 1/17/2021 at 11:42 AM, Joerg said:

 To say that the Telmori are limited to Telmor as their deity ignores Nysalor's gift that was cursed by Talor. There are numerous other spirits in the region, too, like the Six Sister hills.

They also maintain two separate shamanic traditions, where one (Ituvanu) is powerful, dangerous, and messed up.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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I would argue that the Telmori don't often engage in open battle, but wage very successful guerilla warfare.  In the past I ran a game where my players were campaigning against the Telmori in the wake of the annihilation of the Maboder, so as a GM I had to make them credible and dangerous adversaries, capable of mounting a serious challenge to Sartarites and Lunars alike, but not ridiculously overpowered.  This is what I did...

(1) While their shamans are very powerful individuals, in fact they are more useful for using spirits to send messages and for using their magic to spy on enemy movements.  This allows them to know where their enemy is weak. It is also a problem that will have the players dancing about trying to figure out who is the spy in their midst.

(2) The Rune Magic of the Telmori is a no-brainer.  Of course it is great.  On the other hand, they will use it sparingly and avoid relying on it.

(3) Traps.  The Telmori loved creating simple mechanical traps that they could use to supplement an ambush, ewok style.

(4) Hidden Caches.  When my Telmori went to war, the first thing they did was abandon Wolfstand to the ghosts.  Telmori understood that their women and children were their true treasure, and took steps to hide them in local cave systems that had been well provisioned for such events.  They separated their families from their war camps, while not leaving their families undefended.

(5) Hiding the evidence.  The Telmori would always seek to clean up all evidence of an ambush, leaving no survivors, no tracks, and as few trace signs of the struggle as they could, time permitting.

(6) Spies. While they only had 2, the Telmori did have members of their tribe that were living with outsiders anonymously who mustered in as mercenaries for the purposes of espionage, who would contact the shamans when big things were in the wind.  Of course, being a spy in Glorantha is super-difficult.  One had forsaken the tribe to join Lanbril in Alone, while the other was an illuminated Lankhor Mhy Scholar.

The thing about Jomes Wulf is that he was from a Lunar Family with Telmori roots (Hence the surname).  He knew the tribes and their methods, and thus how to beat them.

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11 hours ago, Darius West said:

The thing about Jomes Wulf is that he was from a Lunar Family with Telmori roots (Hence the surname).  He knew the tribes and their methods, and thus how to beat them.

Where is that from?

The Coming Storm has Jomes as a (tribal) native from Aggar, who fought Telmori on behalf of his king before being sent to join the regular Provincial troops.

Jomes gained his Wulf eponym from his achievements against the Telmori in Sartar. 

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