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Another Balazar/Elder Wilds question


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Over in the Runequest forum in the Heroquesting thread I suggested that one could always make up one’s own hero quests to challenge players.  I use a Johnny Appleseed type scenario as an example, but now realize that it might be even more doable than I first thought.

In Griffin Mountain, in the section describing Points of Interest in the Elder Wilds, there is a note of the Treetop Mountains, where Shanassee was first planted.  Looking over all the maps I don’t see a location cited (though hey, there’s Vivamort’s Castle!).  Looking at AAA I don’t see anything either.  Actually, the Treetop Mountains aren’t even mentioned in the Griffin Mountain index.  Delved into the Well of Daliath, walked through the Glorantha Wiki, searched the BRP forums, but don’t find anything.

So Question: Is there a formal location for the Treetop Mountains in the Gloranthaverse, or can I continue winging it?  ‘Cause boy it sure does strike me as a good first station for the Balazaring Appleseeed quest.

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28 minutes ago, GMKen said:

In Griffin Mountain, in the section describing Points of Interest in the Elder Wilds, there is a note of the Treetop Mountains, where Shanassee was first planted.

Well, that's an interesting find!  Don't think I ever noticed that one in all the years using my well-used Griffin Mountain book. 

32 minutes ago, GMKen said:

So Question: Is there a formal location for the Treetop Mountains in the Gloranthaverse, or can I continue winging it?

My guess is that it was on someone's map and ended up just off the maps when they were formally drafted.  Since I suspect the Treetop Mountains have been totally overlooked ever since, I think you can safely keeping winging it.

Two potential locations for them are:  1) the Err'oring Wilds, either hidden within or just to the east along the edge of the Rockwoods; 2) the Sky King Mountains to the north.  But other locations are certainly possible, and I think it makes a great idea for the Appleseed quest.

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51 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Well, that's an interesting find!  Don't think I ever noticed that one in all the years using my well-used Griffin Mountain book. 

My guess is that it was on someone's map and ended up just off the maps when they were formally drafted.  Since I suspect the Treetop Mountains have been totally overlooked ever since, I think you can safely keeping winging it.

Two potential locations for them are:  1) the Err'oring Wilds, either hidden within or just to the east along the edge of the Rockwoods; 2) the Sky King Mountains to the north.  But other locations are certainly possible, and I think it makes a great idea for the Appleseed quest.

Right!  My first thought was that it might be something from Griffin Island that got dropped into the PoD, but no, there it is in my original edition copy.  Now I’m thinking it might be something that Mr. Stafford was considering during the fusion of the Griffin Mountain materials into Glorantha (Shanassee doesn’t sound very Gateway), but then got lost in the forest of details and it just kinda stayed there as a Point of Interest without any further development.

When I was looking at the AAA the Sky King Mountains were my first thought, but I think I would want to keep it on the original hex map, so probably tucked back behind the Er’oring Wilds.  Plus that would introduce lots of elf/troll friction that would have consequences later in the quest during the return.

I would just hope the players don’t stumble onto Vivamort’s Castle in the Er’oring Wilds.  I wonder if I have that old Ravenloft module around anywhere...

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The full description is:

”Treetop Mountains: It is the peak where Shanassee was first planted, before he walked down slope and resettled himself and began his forest uncounted ages before.”

So I’m thinking that the Great Tree of Eston would be a subsequent manifestation.  Besides, the location, at the confluence of the Dwerrow and Bilini Rivers, would only be a couple of days from any of the citadels, and for it to be a Quest it has to be a great journey fraught with peril.  Which a hex crawl up through the Troll Hills and Er’oring Wilds would definitely be.

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2 minutes ago, GMKen said:

Which a hex crawl up through the Troll Hills and Er’oring Wilds would definitely be.

One of my favorite campaigns was taking my PC's on the hex crawl all the way through Balazar and the Elder Wilds to Gonn Orta's Castle. 

 

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And so it turns out that there’s not much on Shanassee either.  While frustrating, this is good as it gives me room to craft the the story.

The general gist, then, is that an NPC Djonni Pomsemeur was a Balazaring mercenary for a while and did some traveling.  He had a short stay in Apple Lane where he enjoyed the apple cider and Uleria temple.  Perhaps a bit too much, but he’s convinced that Uleria spoke to him in an incidered vision and said “If you love apples so much, find Shanassee’s first and make your own golden apples of the Sun”.  That’s probably not what the priestess said, but that’s what he heard.  This links to the fact that Shanassee is the son of Uleria.

So Djonni is set on a quest to find a golden Appleseed.  Divinations at the Yelmalio temple in Dykene reveal only that Shanassee was first revealed to the sky at Treetop Mountains.  I’m trying to find other ways to link in Sun elements, but this seems like a good start.  Also not sure how to reveal the Treetop Mountains are beyond the eldritch Er’oring Wilds.

Long hex crawl over several sessions.  Lots of skill use and combat opportunities.  Make some barbarian troll enemies, try to make some elf friends as they will be important because...where Shanassee first rooted himself is “sterile”, in the sense that they find only pollen.  God pollen, sure, but just pollen.  It’s where Shanassee first, umm, played with his power before discovering girls.  It wasn’t till he hooked up with Aldrya that his fertility was truly unleashed.  This makes the elves critical for the planting ceremony’s success.

Long hex crawl back to Dykene through pissed off troll hordes, some random chaos, as well as some dwarves not happy that the elves are once again mucking around with the world machine, stupid growers.  Assuming they make it back to Dykene, Djonni and the adventurers must now figure out how to turn the god pollen into a golden Appleseed.  Then plant it and begin the grove of Apple trees and their golden, delicious fruit.

Miscellaneous points:

The Yelmalio shrine in Dykene wants ten barrels of cider per year as tribute for their help

A temple to Uleria is established in the woods south of Dykene

The local Oread is the one that fulfills the pollen potential and her lands become the growing area for the orchards

A magical Golden Apple is gifted to Djonni’s home clan, who will be the quite prosperous overseers of the Apple farms.  Characters are given portions of this area for their help in the quest.  They also have a chance to invest in the Apple trade: cider, tarts, butter, sauce, and much more.

So I think overall it’s shaping up into a nice little hero quest driven by dice-rolling but with narrative opportunities and the ability to basically write the story of how Djonni’s golden cider became the drink of choice in Balazar.

[Until a Lunar venture capital firm moved in...something about silver apples of the moon...]

Edited by GMKen
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Sounds like a good idea. Another potential avenue to explore here is the fact that most (though not all) species of apple trees are totally dependent on insects for pollination; they can't self-pollinate and have no way to get their pollen from one tree to the other on their own, so they need insects (usually bees) to do that for them. And there are some interesting possibilities in this connection.

For one, in Dagori Inkarth the worship of Gorakiki Bee is dominated by the Bee Tribe of the Vale of Flowers, whose queen has made treaties with the local Aldryami and, interestingly, with Joh Mith. In other words, the Uz worship of Gorakiki Bee might be an in-road toward a treaty with the trolls, perhaps with the help of Joh.

Secondly, both the Heortlings and the Bee People know the bee goddess by the name Enra, and the Heortlings claim that she married or at least "spent time" with Minlister the Brewer at some point (and their resulting child is how mead came to be). And the aformentioned Bee Tribe actually have a regiment of Bee Riders they can call upon, so presumably Enra = Gorakiki Bee is at least implicitly if not explicitly acknowledged by both parties. What's more, Minlister is usually regarded as the son of Elmal a.k.a. Yelmalio. Meaning that both brewers (at least those who learned from Heortlings and worship Minlister) and Yelmalians might have unique in-roads into enlisting the aid of Enra/Gorakiki Bee and her worshipers (Uz, Bee People, or even both).

Edited by Leingod
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I’m not sure about bringing Gorakiki into this, as the elves and trolls in the Elder Wilds have a pretty rough history of basically continual genocide for quite a while now.  Besides, I shudder to even consider the concept of a fertility ritual with an Uz Gorakiki Rune Priestess.  I just...I don’t think I can go there.  I’ll stick with the Oread for the time being, even if it does mean that I’m being speciesist or something.  Probably body shaming too...

I wonder how they do it in Apple Lane?

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5 hours ago, GMKen said:

I’m not sure about bringing Gorakiki into this, as the elves and trolls in the Elder Wilds have a pretty rough history of basically continual genocide for quite a while now.  

A major part of the Balazar Arc of our RQ3 Campaign was the reunifying of the Elder Races of the Elder Wilds. It involved finding Balazar's crown, HeroQuesting to reform the Elder Council and a lot of other politics and bashing of contrary heads.

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1 hour ago, Caras said:

Has anyone made a clan/tribe map of Balazar? It would be useful.

I don't think there are any tribes - the culture wouldn't support that.

When I ran Griffin Mountain material, I based clans around the camp sites/hearths marked on the Balazar map, though as a hunter-gatherer culture, I'm sure their 'territories' would vary widely.

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50 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

camp sites/hearths marked on the Balazar map

 Do you mean the white squares? Is that what they are... I thought of "tribes" as of what clans are associated to specific citadel.

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57 minutes ago, Caras said:

Has anyone made a clan/tribe map of Balazar? It would be useful.

I assumed that with 17 non-citadel clans in excess of the named hearths would be the allies and tolerated remnants of former citadel clans (per the GM book). These are based very close to the citadels. This is from my notes

image.png.b7bb98848ff29613b7cbaf6a08f0866c.png

 

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The Griffin Mountain PoD lists 20 clans and the citadels with which they are associated.  It doesn’t tie them to particular clan hearths, but at least does provide some geographical localization based on citadel ties.  It also notes the inter-clan rivalries.

IIRC, this was taken from an old Different Worlds or White Dwarf article from way back in the day.

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31 minutes ago, GMKen said:

IIRC, this was taken from an old Different Worlds or White Dwarf article from way back in the day.

Yes, the RQ Classic pdf/pod has them listed on p.16.  They may have come from the RQ3 Griffin Island book.

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5 minutes ago, GMKen said:

No, I distinctly remember a magazine article.  I’ll have to do some digging...

I had many of those magazines, and don't remember that in either... but, certainly doesn't preclude it.

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(odd all my text vanished!)

@Rick Meints will know where the section came from as he added it initially to the Glorantha classic version in 2001 and alluded to where it came from in another post on this site:

FYI the Votanki clans in Griffin Island were different:

1200555431_Screenshot2021-03-09at09_52_06.png.bf191de6a92fe0bbf88c16262510889d.png

Edited by David Scott
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23 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I don't think there are any tribes - the culture wouldn't support that.

This is from Guide.

Balazar
“I am a hunter of the (X) clan of the (Y) tribe. Why do you pass through our lands?”

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23 minutes ago, Caras said:

This is from Guide.

As it also notes: "The Balazarings are a Neolithic hunter-gatherer people divided into many small clans. Their tribal leaders dwell in massive citadels of cyclopean stone built in the Second Age."

I'd not pose these "tribes" as structures like you'd find in Sartar though.  Basically you have these Kings in each citadel.  Clans likely have an affiliation/preference as to which citadel they bring their furs and other goods to trade.  And that's probably the extent of it.

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2 hours ago, Caras said:

Balazar
“I am a hunter of the (X) clan of the (Y) tribe. Why do you pass through our lands?”

In this context, it's the citadel tribes, that is all the clans aligned to each citadel.

“I am a hunter of the Black Lion clan of the Dykene tribe.

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2 hours ago, jajagappa said:

As it also notes: "The Balazarings are a Neolithic hunter-gatherer people divided into many small clans. Their tribal leaders dwell in massive citadels of cyclopean stone built in the Second Age."

I'd not pose these "tribes" as structures like you'd find in Sartar though.  Basically you have these Kings in each citadel.  Clans likely have an affiliation/preference as to which citadel they bring their furs and other goods to trade.  And that's probably the extent of it.

However, in the light of the neolithic temple structures in Malta and Turkey, it is obvious that large scale co-operation was possible.  I don't see why we should preclude a tribal structure, especially with the larger population the Guide gives Balazar.

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