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Merfolk Heroquests?


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So in my HQ:G campaign, the heroes have just been stranded on an island on the way to the Three Step Isles. Last session, I had them fight merfolk looking to beach (and then sink) their boat for some nefarious reason. This got me to wondering: just what is that reason? During the fight, I had the merfolk's leader be a big, be-runed Hero with access to the Water, Air, and Mastery runes, and sort of imagined that the attack on the ship was part of a heroquest of some kind. 

Trouble is, I don't know if sinking a ship fits into any Merfolk myths anywhere. It sounds like it might, but I don't know if there's any canon I can use to do the writing for me if/when the heroes bump into the other stations of this quest in the next session. Does anyone know much about any merfolk myths that might work here? 

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The Dark Waters had Robber, who dragged ships down to the depths.

Wachaza took Robber and used her to drag ships down into the depths.

Magasta's Pool drags ships down into Hell.

Magasta's cult used to grant Whirlpool as a spell that drags ships down to the depths.

So, I think you are Ok with merfolk using any of those examples to sink a ship.

 

Edited by soltakss
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1 hour ago, ZedAlpha said:

Do any of those gods have Air/Storm or Mastery as part of their portfolio?

The merfolk do not worship the Air/Storm gods (except Brastalos, goddess of the no-wind and the waterspouts), so generally do not have that.  I'm sure Magasta has Mastery as King of the Seas.  Wachaza has Death. 

Plenty of reasons to sink ships - might be offerings to Drospoly, the Cold Death that is in the deepest Oceans.  Might simply be efforts of the Malasp or other piscoi merfolk to bring retribution against the Storm folk, or the Gnydron, the largest/greatest merfolk, whose ancestress actually defeated and plundered the storm god who attacked her.  Or the Ysabbau, the most hideious merfolk, who hate humans more than do any other type of merman. They commonly seek to destroy all ships and sailors.  The last are noted to worship dark sea gods, such as Magasta, Wachaza, Varchulanga the Mother of Monsters, and Drospoly the Cold Death.

 

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Hmm....I looked into Brastalos, and the page I saw referred to her as, among other things, “Goddess of hurricanes and sea storms,” as well as being the wife of Magasta. So I’m imagining, and feel free to tell me if this would be too far out of line for a merfolk myth, a story like “Brastalos’s Bride Price,” where Magasta sank a fleet of ships and drowned enough surface towns to get enough treasure to marry Brastalos. The merfolk could be reenacting that? 

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56 minutes ago, ZedAlpha said:

Hmm....I looked into Brastalos, and the page I saw referred to her as, among other things, “Goddess of hurricanes and sea storms,” as well as being the wife of Magasta. So I’m imagining, and feel free to tell me if this would be too far out of line for a merfolk myth, a story like “Brastalos’s Bride Price,” where Magasta sank a fleet of ships and drowned enough surface towns to get enough treasure to marry Brastalos. The merfolk could be reenacting that? 

Sure, why not!

The Diroti were a Storm Age people who lived on boats. They take their names from Diros, the Orlanthi god of boats (and father of Pelaskos, the god of sea fishing), but it seems that much like many of the other groups that would eventually coalesce into the Lightbringer Pantheon, they had their own independent culture prior to that. As far as I remember from various maps, they were active in and around the seas south of Genertela (and beyond, while there were seas in other places).

It's very possible that there was some notable event where merfolk sunk a significant Diroti ship, for example.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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That could work. So the merfolk Hero they fought with the air/storm rune could worship Brastalos (through her husband Magasta) and is trying to recreate the myth of how Magasta sunk a Diroti ship that had plundered an island sacred to the Water Tribe in the God Time, then took the treasure of the land people to Brastalos as her bride price. 

Only the heroes have stopped them from sinking the ship. Should be fun to see how they react to the heroes exploring a sacred island that popped out of nowhere as part of the quest.

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9 hours ago, ZedAlpha said:

On that note, are the are any well-known Orlanthi or Ernaldi (don’t know what else to call the Esrolians) or Vestkarthi myths that involve a sacred island of some kind? 

There's Kylerela, which is a floating island where Eurmal was born once and, it's implied but not stated, many other important things happened. I think she's supposed to be a daughter of Ernalda with wanderlust?

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10 minutes ago, Eff said:

There's Kylerela, which is a floating island where Eurmal was born once and, it's implied but not stated, many other important things happened. I think she's supposed to be a daughter of Ernalda with wanderlust?

Guide p.643: An island is known to be floating upon the oceans of Glorantha. It is called Kylerela, or the land of Kylera, a daughter of the earth who was banished from her mother’s body when she was discovered to be bearing an incarnation of Trickster. Gata commanded an abortion, Kylera refused, and fled to the seas who supported her with love. The island is a weird one, with strange laws and unusual features, like the Singing Mountain, the Violet Forest, the Canals of Eroticism and the City Without Food or Sin. Some say it is now lost in Kahar’s Sea of Fog, while others say it is merely invisible and might be found anyplace.

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11 hours ago, ZedAlpha said:

On that note, are the are any well-known Orlanthi or Ernaldi (don’t know what else to call the Esrolians) or Vestkarthi myths that involve a sacred island of some kind? 

If you're up to do some original mythbuilding, the Veskarthi/Caladrans might possibly preserve some mythic memory of Lodril's Mountain, which was drowned by the Seas and became part of the artificial Mostali continent of Somelz, iirc. I am unsure how it relates to Mostal's Mountain, though if it was close to it, I guess it became part of Curustus or other parts of Jrustela. 

There are several drowned lands in Orlanthi myth, some of which might be turned into hidden islands if you're so inclined. Dini, the original homeland of the proto-Storm People. Mavorela and Envorela, both lands they migrated through along the way (Envorela is especially associated with Barntar and Durev, and the group called the Durevings, another pre-Orlanthi group that originally seem to have had their own pantheon but later joined the Vingkotlings). 

 

Generally, I think, islands tend to be portrayed as holdouts or refuges from the seas, and seem to be at odds with the Seas rather than aligned with them - the Seas generally having a hostile attitude towards anything dry in most mythologies in Glorantha. There are always exceptions, like Kylerela above, or the seas of Choralinthor and (the now-gone) Faralinthor, or the Duke of the Deep in the East, who are all seas that are portrayed as friendly towards surface dwellers. It's also possible that some merfolk, like the Ludoch and Ouroi view the surface and islands (especially the shallow waters around them) more favorably and might have myths where island deities are friends and allies, or even providers, rather than "stupid food that refuses to be food", to paraphrase a bit.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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The Ludoch of Choralinthor Bay and Deeper do worship or at least recognize Diendimos, their storm ancestor, who gave them the air-filled caves at Deeper.

 

While there are plenty good reasons to sink a ship or to drive it onto a beach, for a heroquest there usually needs to be such an event inside Godtime.

 

Let's look at possible sea-going ships in the Gods War. There are quite a few sea-going peoples in Godtime

  • the Waertagi (usually somewhat allied to the merfolk)
  • the Helerites/Helerings whose god/ancestor used to be a sea god before becoming separated from his element
  • the Diroti - in one myth, the children of Sofala (in the West), attacked by the Seabird Army, defended by Orlanth once
  • the Banthites - little is known about them, except for a temporary presence on the Nelomi Sea befoe being destroyed by Zzabur's Brithini
  • the Artmali (who turned towards Chaos in the later part of the Gods War)
  • the Outrigger folk inheriting the boating magic from a single Sendereven ship(crew visiting them in the time of need (surviving in Maslo, Thinokos, Kumanku (suppressed, but a sea-going group having taken slaves in Teshnos settling on Teleos)
  • various East Islanders

The Vadeli managed to cross the Churkenos Sea as well.

 

The Homeward Ocean is fairly recent. The foothills of the Spike used to run out in Ernaldela, which was the southern part of Genertela. The Sshorg river invaded from the southeast, got tamed, and remained a river until the Storm Age, when the Flood covered vast parts of the dry lands - not necessarily filling up the low parts, as the seas covering the Rockwood Mountains east and west of Kerofinela were more like standing waves rising out of the dry lands.

Kerofinela was defended by Orlanth, and even an all-in bet of the surrounding seas (creating Worcha, the Raging Sea, from their combined energies) failed to flood that place, After the defeat of Worcha, the seas receded, starting with the standing waves across the Rockwoods, until Faralinthor remained for quite a while.

If there were any Ludoch (or other) merfolk in Faralinthor Sea, none would have survived the drying up at the hands of Vadrus, except perhaps a few individuals huddling with Choralinthor. IMO the Ludoch of Choralinthor Bay (and the Mournsea) are from the Neliomi Sea, the survivors of the Wartain mertribe, and cousins to the Yggites, Waertagi, and Malkioni.

The western seas saw quite a few of those fleets mentioned above.

 

I don't think there is any love lost between the Ludoch (as the original inhabitants of the Neliomi Sea) and the Brithini and Vadeli, as both these parties tapped almost all the life out of the Neliomi Sea in their wars. That behavior may well have led to the Ludoch attacking ships with such sorcerers on board.

I don't think that the Waertagi ever tapped the Seas for magic - they would have turned against other elements first, I guess. But other ships with sorcerers on board (or even suspected of having sorcerers on board) would be perfectly good targets for re-enacting a defense against that Tapping.

 

 

3 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

It's also possible that some merfolk, like the Ludoch and Ouroi view the surface and islands (especially the shallow waters around them) more favorably and might have myths where island deities are friends and allies, or even providers, rather than "stupid food that refuses to be food", to paraphrase a bit.

I am currently working on the Ludoch of the Choralinthor Bay as part of a project, and I postulated that Ludoch like the variety offered in the tidal zones, and that they don't say no to convenient grottos as refuges or hide-outs, or even holy places. Quite a few (tasty!) sea beings thrive on islands or rocks jutting out of the seas.

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6 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

If you're up to do some original mythbuilding, the Veskarthi/Caladrans might possibly preserve some mythic memory of Lodril's Mountain, which was drowned by the Seas and became part of the artificial Mostali continent of Somelz, iirc. I am unsure how it relates to Mostal's Mountain, though if it was close to it, I guess it became part of Curustus or other parts of Jrustela. 

There are several drowned lands in Orlanthi myth, some of which might be turned into hidden islands if you're so inclined. Dini, the original homeland of the proto-Storm People. Mavorela and Envorela, both lands they migrated through along the way (Envorela is especially associated with Barntar and Durev, and the group called the Durevings, another pre-Orlanthi group that originally seem to have had their own pantheon but later joined the Vingkotlings). 

 

Generally, I think, islands tend to be portrayed as holdouts or refuges from the seas, and seem to be at odds with the Seas rather than aligned with them - the Seas generally having a hostile attitude towards anything dry in most mythologies in Glorantha. There are always exceptions, like Kylerela above, or the seas of Choralinthor and (the now-gone) Faralinthor, or the Duke of the Deep in the East, who are all seas that are portrayed as friendly towards surface dwellers. It's also possible that some merfolk, like the Ludoch and Ouroi view the surface and islands (especially the shallow waters around them) more favorably and might have myths where island deities are friends and allies, or even providers, rather than "stupid food that refuses to be food", to paraphrase a bit.

Oh, I like all of this. Beginning to get a rough sketch of what might be a decent myth the heroes are accidentally interacting with: 

 

  • Magasta woos Brastalos, but the match is forbidden by her father Umath. Brastalos tells him that if he retrieves treasures stolen from Umath by the Fire Tribe (and secreted away on a hidden land that Magasta had previously almost entirely drowned), her father will have no choice but to grant him her hand in marriage.
  • Magasta then goes about drowning every Fire Tribe ship and coastal settlement he can find looking for this treasure—the merfolk in the campaign will have already done this in the past, an their attack on the PCs’ ship is part of this stage of the quest. 
  • Eventually, Magasta (with the secret aid of Brastalos, who calls up a sea-storm) helps Magasta sink a treasure ship bringing more stolen regalia from Yelm’s court to the hidden island. This is the specific part of the myth where the PCs were attacked last session.
  • Magasta then goes to the island, and frees the waterfall dragon falling from its cliffs; the dragon helps secret Magasta inside the local god-governor’s reflecting pool. Magasta tricks the governor into drowning himself, then uses his shape shifting power to steal his identity, sneak into the island’s hidden vault, and take back Umath’s stolen treasures. 
  • Magasta and the waterfall dragon sink the island. 
  • Magasta returns to Umath on the back of the waterfall dragon, pays Brastalos’s bride price, and then they get married. Happily ever after. 

The heroes’ ship is currently stranded on a reef that only really exists as part of the myth. The island they’re stranded in front of would be the lost Fire Tribe island. Here’s where they could get involved: 

  • The heroes have already fought off the merfolk attack; the Hero attempting the quest is trying to retrieve a magical treasure for his people, not sure what specific treasure or what it would do. 
  • The Hero is wounded, but can continue, because, well, he’s a Hero. He’s also very pissed off that the PCs haven’t died yet and messed with his plans. 
  • Meanwhile, to repair their boat, the PCs need to go ashore on the tropical island that popped out of nowhere and try to salvage food, water, and wood. In so doing, they’ll run afoul of God Time Yelmic soldiery who are very, very tetchy about trespassers. They’ll probably get captured. 
  • While being captured, they’ll have an opportunity to see that the island’s waterfall is a dragon that’s been enslaved to provide an extra layer of defense to the secret vault. They could also meet the pompous governor, who brags about the various treasures he’s safeguarding for Emperor Yelm. 
  • At some point, the merfolk Hero shows up, and it’s up to the PCs how they react when they see that he’s trying to off the Governor. The hero might be willing to help them out if they help him on the quest—it’s already off the rails, and he might not be able to successfully get into the vault or free the dragon, now, which are vital parts of the quest.

 

Does any of this sound good?

Edited by ZedAlpha
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3 hours ago, ZedAlpha said:

Does any of this sound good?

Yes! 🙂  Plenty to work with there.

3 hours ago, ZedAlpha said:

not sure what specific treasure or what it would do. 

A Fire treasure that the Sea might like - a Shield of Reflection?  A Crown of Mastery?  A Purifying Crystal? 

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hm. Crown of Mastery works, I already described the merfolk Hero as clearly having the Mastery Rune. Now, the real question: would interlopers accidentally getting caught in the heroquest still potentially receive any magical benefit from participating and/or surviving it?

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56 minutes ago, ZedAlpha said:

hm. Crown of Mastery works, I already described the merfolk Hero as clearly having the Mastery Rune. Now, the real question: would interlopers accidentally getting caught in the heroquest still potentially receive any magical benefit from participating and/or surviving it?

Benefits tend to be associated with repeating an narrative role that ended in that benefit, so maybe they could end up entering into a narrative role that was obscure to the Ludoch but present nonetheless.

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Are we talking about actual parts of the myth, or King Of Dragon Pass, Meeting The Uroxi In Orlanth And Aroka, “This Is The New Myth That Has Always Existed, My Friend!” Sort of ‘actual’ part of the myth?

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16 hours ago, ZedAlpha said:

Are we talking about actual parts of the myth, or King Of Dragon Pass, Meeting The Uroxi In Orlanth And Aroka, “This Is The New Myth That Has Always Existed, My Friend!” Sort of ‘actual’ part of the myth?

The second one.

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Oh, I’ll have a field day with that. I think I’ll have the merperson Hero just livid that these surfacers have ‘invaded’ one of his most sacred myths, but even more angry that he can’t do anything about it now but play along and hope he can complete the quest.

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Maybe you could explain the ship-sinking part by using some mythical link with Tsankth, the pirate god from Vormain. Tsankth is also the Barracuda god, and his followers are known to turn their own ships into snapping biting monsters

Another Vormain link could be that what your players thought were mermen were instead Ratuki people, who can turn partially into sharks. They might be Hsunchen but it's not too clear as far as I know.

 

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