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Jeff recently posted about the Sun Dome of Sartar:

‘With a dome approximately 30 meters in diameter, the Sun Dome Temple stands some 45 meters high, making it larger than the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. It is comparable in size to the ziggurat of Ur or Pantheon of Rome.’

Now I’m not an architect or archaeologist, but I like to find how things work, and a dome of that size can only be built in a number of ways. The Dome of the Rock has a wooden frame and roof, covered in gilt, so the Sun Dome of Sartar could be constructed from wood.

In Prax there’s limited access to timber, so what is the Sun Dome there made of?

The Pantheon in Rome is made of Roman concrete, but has a fair bit of bracing, and wouldn’t be the right shape, a possibility, but would probably need dwarven sorcery.

There is a very long tradition of domes in Mesopotamia, dating all the way back to Sumer. The Sumerians could construct arches of fired or dried mud brick and a dome is basically an arch rotated around its central vertical axis. Some reconstructions of ziggurats have a dome atop the shrine at the peak of the ziggurat, but none have survived, and so far as I know, the only pictorial evidence of early domes are in Assyrian reliefs showing small houses.

However, the tradition of domes was carried to Iran and beyond, and there’s evidence of wooden and brick domes. At the Parthian capital at Nyssa (Turkmenistan) there was a hall with thick walls surrounding four columns in the centre probably topped with a wooden dome. During the Sassanid Empire (yes, I know, not Bronze Age), domes were erected on reception halls of palaces such as Sarvestan palace and Ardeshir palace (in Firuzabad). The domes of Sarvestan palace (also known as the Temple of Anahita) date to around 350AD and are the oldest brick domes in the world, the largest having a span of 12.80m, and height of 20m. The dome at the Ardeshir palace is larger with a span of 13.3m.

A 'span' is the length of a structural component that 'spans' between two supports, so the Sun Dome dome in Sartar spans an impressive 30m.

The double layered main dome over the Friday mosque of Qazvin is the biggest Seljuk dome with a span of 15.20m and height of 22m. Built around 807AD it’s well outside any thought of a Bronze Age dome (but Bronze Age in Glorantha doesn’t limit things like architecture or technology), but we don’t know how large the Sumerian domes could be. A surviving arch at the much later Assur has a span of several metres. Could they build larger arches? We don’t know. Where the enormous ziggurats have been rendered into ruined mounds of brick, ancient arches and domes would be long collapsed.

It seems possible that a dome of fired brick would be feasible. Add in some Stasis magic and a dome with a span of 30 metres is possible.

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There are two Sun Dome Temples in Prax - the Sun Dome Temple and the deconsecrated Old Sun Dome Temple, which is shunned, haunted, and not talked about. We know from sources that in design, construction and layout, they are absolutely identical. Both sites were constructed by Mostali stone masons from Pavis, in fact the very same masons worked on both from the original plans, which still exist in the temple archives.

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What material did these Mostali use? Faceless Statue quarry material? Such enlivened stone may be quite easy to put into some other shape, possibly by techniques other than masonry (e.g. smithing the material, or liquefying it to hug a mold).

If you look at the Rubble wall, liquefying Faceless Stature rock is what created the smooth edifice of and around Paragua's stone slabs. A similar method could be used to create the main arches, or a complete dome. (If there are Mostali at work, they might save some material in ways similar to the Pantheon.)

 

About the shortage of timber along the Zola Fel: I would expect at least the City of Pavis to enjoy occasional windfalls of lumber when the Sea Season floods may carry bits of Redwood trees fallen down the Leaping Place towards the city. An entire bole might last even a major construction project.

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The Sun temple in New Pavis resembles the the great Sun Dome Temple but is constructed differently. It's adobe, like the rest of the buildings in New Pavis, with (I think) a dome made out gold-painted fabric stretched over a wooden frame. The great SDT (and the Old Sun Dome) is masonry - ashlar with a rubble core. The Yelmalio temples in Balazar are different again - they are made of cyclopean stone. The unifying feature is a hemispherical dome on a square.

So while the New Pavis Yelmalio temple is built of inferior materials compared to the great Sun Dome Temple, that really doesn't matter. There are scriptural directives setting out exactly how you should build a Sun Dome Temple, based on Dawn Age Dara Happan military specifications. But the holy writ is all about dimensions, proportions, (golden) ratios and mathematics, rather than the building materials per se. If you could build one out of papier mache knock yourself out, it just has to match the divine plan.

Light, not Earth: it's an ideal. You have to bring your temple into existence using whatever mortal materials you have.

 

 

Edited by MOB
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I've shared this elsewhere, and there's no reason not to put it here as well. This was my version based on the plans in Sun County. Matthew Cole has taken things much further with his SketchUp 3d modelling project. Each graph paper square is 1m, the large squares are 8m.

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(The shadowy reflection of the Secret Undercrypts is meaningless, do not go digging down under the Holy Sun Dome Temple, the management accepts no responsibility, I am sure there isn't a dungeon complex down there)

Edited by Nick Brooke
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Once you've built it, inside, the dome is  "the shining light of the sky when both the sun and night are absent." It's supported by the prayers and sacrifices and is Yelmalio himself. Once you've got the real world shape up, sanctified it and start worshipping in there, it takes on a structure of its own. I can imagine once the dwarves of Pavis had put the last piece in, the world machine took over and it became the sky dome itself - the perfect sky of Yelmalio.

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On 2/8/2021 at 3:53 PM, Nick Brooke said:

(The shadowy reflection of the Secret Undercrypts is meaningless, do not go digging down under the Holy Sun Dome Temple, the management accepts no responsibility, I am sure there isn't a dungeon complex down there)

Good thing there is another, abandoned Sun Dome Temple - oh wait, that's where Belvani hangs out nowadays. Count Belvani to you heathens.

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On 2/9/2021 at 1:09 AM, Joerg said:

About the shortage of timber along the Zola Fel: I would expect at least the City of Pavis to enjoy occasional windfalls of lumber when the Sea Season floods may carry bits of Redwood trees fallen down the Leaping Place towards the city. An entire bole might last even a major construction project.

While there are windfalls of lumber in the winter floods, people from Pavis and Sun County know where it comes from and go get supplies of wood when they need it. For example, the great arrows shot from the machine at Harpoon are fashioned by specially trained artisans at the hamlet of High Water, several keymiles down river.  The redwood tree trunks used for this come from the great forest around Leaping Place Lake at the headwaters of the Zola Fel.  It is a difficult and dangerous journey floating them downstream through the troll-infested Desolation Hills, Pavis County and the Big Rubble to the Lands of the Sun.  Ensuring a supply of these logs is one of the main responsibilities of the Men with the Golden Gun, and Auric Goldflinger has led three such expeditions in the past decade.

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  • 3 months later...
On 2/10/2021 at 9:57 PM, MOB said:

While there are windfalls of lumber in the winter floods, people from Pavis and Sun County know where it comes from and go get supplies of wood when they need it. For example, the great arrows shot from the machine at Harpoon are fashioned by specially trained artisans at the hamlet of High Water, several keymiles down river.  The redwood tree trunks used for this come from the great forest around Leaping Place Lake at the headwaters of the Zola Fel.  It is a difficult and dangerous journey floating them downstream through the troll-infested Desolation Hills, Pavis County and the Big Rubble to the Lands of the Sun.  Ensuring a supply of these logs is one of the main responsibilities of the Men with the Golden Gun, and Auric Goldflinger has led three such expeditions in the past decade.

I expanded on this somewhat in a recent post at the RuneQuest Facebook page; posting here too, for ease of future retrieval]

I'm currently having fun revising/updating an old, old scenario of mine for inclusion in the fourth book of Jonathan Webb's 'Sandheart' series, set in Sun County, Prax. The adventure culminates with the Templar assault on the Cradle at Harpoon: the player characters get the take part in that epic event, from the Sun Domer side!

If you've read or played RQ2's 'The Cradle' adventure (hey, available in print again!), you'll know that the great spear-throwing machine lobs three mighty chained arrows at the Cradle, and the Sun Domers attempt to haul it to shore (having requisitioned every oxen in the County).

In that scenario, these arrows are described as having razor-sharp obsidian points and are 25 meters long (!!). So, given the Cradle Valley runs through a desert, where did the Sun Domers get such mighty lumber from?

The answer lies in the River of Cradles' headwaters in the Rockwood Mountains. While tree trunks sometimes come down in the winter floods, people from Pavis and Sun County can head upriver to get supplies of timber when needed, although it is a difficult and dangerous enterprise.

The Sun Domers' great arrows are fashioned by specially trained artisans at the hamlet of High Water, several km down river from Harpoon. The redwood tree trunks used for this come from the great forest around Leaping Place Lake at the headwaters of the Zola Fel.

Floating the logs downstream is only possible at certain times of the year, and is an adventure in itself, going through the troll-infested Desolation Hills, Pavis County and the Big Rubble, to the Lands of the Sun. Ensuring a supply of this timber is one of the main responsibilities of the XIIIth Square ("the Unlucky Thirteenth"), who are based at Harpoon. Their leader, Ouric Goldflinger, has led three such expeditions in the past decade.

Most of the missiles for regular use are only 10-15 meters long; although there are still much taller trees at the Leaping Place, manoeuvring logs bigger than this downstream would be considered extremely challenging, if not impossible.

The three great bolts launched at the Cradle date from the harpoon's original setting at the Sun Dome, though few people remember that*. Old stories say they would be powerful enough to pierce the hide of a dragon and kill it, should one ever threaten the land.

*The history of the Harpoon is all but forgotten by the people of Sun County. Only Hector the Wise, the temple librarian, knows the whole tale. As one might suspect, its original purpose had nothing to do with skewering pirate ships or sea monsters swimming up the Zola Fel. The harpoon actually dates from the period just after the Dragonkill War (1100 ST), when the people of the Sun Dome tore down their old temple, purged themselves of any vestiges of EWF-inspired solar draconism and returned to the unsullied, pure light of Yelmalio. Fearing the vengeance of the Sun Dragon, to protect their land the Sun Domers built a series of watch towers throughout the County. And with the expertise of a dwarven refugee from EWF persecution the Great Ballista was built at their newly constructed Sun Dome Temple, to protect it from draconic retribution.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is without doubt one of the more interesting features of Thanatar worship, serving as it does, as cover for underground darklight caverns.

Edited by Darius West
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