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Backford Aeolian Campaign


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I have not played Runequest for many years but did for a good bit in the late 80's and early 90's. I am getting back up to speed and looking at setting up a campaign based in Backford. I love the idea of Aeolian Orlanthi but want to look into time frames and starting plots for the campaign. I hope to make it work so it starts before the Lunars invade say about the year 1600 with characters close to 20 years old. Possibly some of the older relatives have gone off to fight the Lunars in Sartar? I am thinking that one of the characters is a nephew of the Eorl of Backford and a poor noble or bastard. Maybe he is charged with fetching some fertility stones with another relative who is an initiate of Elmal from the Sundome. It's a stretch but would lead to so many interesting plot hooks. Dried fish is taken to Sundome to trade for fertility stones to help the aling argriculture around Backford? Does a trade triangle somehow require stops through Apple Lane? How do I better tie Backford to Sundome and Central Sartar? I am thinking for the campaign that Backford would not be a rocky crossing with the Syphon running to it but rather a smaller port with a actual wharf built at the ford with a bridge like the Roman Bridge of Córdoba (not as big) built over it with a toll gate of some sort? I don't have to follow Gloranthian Dogma 100% but I'd like it to at least be plausible. Any ideas or thoughts on expanding this would be great.

Also, I tried to post a few photos but was not able to get the URL to take. For future is thee  a trick to uploading something?

 

 

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4 hours ago, Erol of Backford said:

For future is thee  a trick to uploading something?

I simply copy-paste the picture in the reply. Like I just did for this one:

Cordoba - old drawing of bridge

 

Else, there is a "Other media" button at the bottom right of the reply box, and clicking on it unrolls an option to "insert image from URL".

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13 hours ago, Erol of Backford said:

I love the idea of Aeolian Orlanthi but want to look into time frames and starting plots for the campaign.

Bear in mind that some thought processes have changed since late 80s RQ.  Heortland as a whole was presented as a quasi-medieval place at the time, influenced by medieval-style westerners.  That view is gone (though you can obviously continue it as Your Game Will Vary).  So, you will no longer find "Eorls" or "Earls", etc.

Aeolian Orlanthi largely implies that southern Heortland supports more of a caste-like structure, but generally looser than western Glorantha.  That largely comes up to about Durengard.  Backford is more traditional Heortling, although in the days of Belintar the God-king there was likely an administrator of tolls/tribute in Backford appointed by Belintar's Governor.  Otherwise though Backford is a city of fairly typical Orlanthi clan(s) dominating the point where the Heortland Road crosses the Syphon.  I think it likely is a broad ford, possibly a ferry, rather than a bridge. 

14 hours ago, Erol of Backford said:

How do I better tie Backford to Sundome and Central Sartar?

Salt.  The Syphon flows uphill.  It is salty, heavily tidal, and leaves salt-deposits upon the river banks around.  The clans gather and sell the salt.  That's why merchants come to Backford specifically, otherwise it's just a passing point on the way to Durengard which is the main port of Heortland proper (though most trade going to Sartar comes in at the port of Karse).

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Btw, Heortland in 1625 is a mess.  From 1616 when the God-king disappears and doesn't return, it really goes downhill.  Foreign interloper, civil war, Lunar invasion, Chaos raids, rebellion, and then the death of King Broyan in the north.  There are no dominant leaders, no strong tribes, just local squabbling city leaders and sparring clan chiefs.

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1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

Bear in mind that some thought processes have changed since late 80s RQ.  Heortland as a whole was presented as a quasi-medieval place at the time, influenced by medieval-style westerners.  That view is gone (though you can obviously continue it as Your Game Will Vary).  So, you will no longer find "Eorls" or "Earls", etc.

My 1994 use of the older English spelling and the Iron Age Anglo-Saxons sprinkled with just a thin veneer of Plantagenet memes may be a thing of the past, but the term "Earl" actually appears in History of the Heortling Peoples as a carry-over of a Middle Sea Empire term (to avoid the immediate "burn 'em" reaction to the term God Learners) as a deputy official to one of Belintar's appointees, with Backford most likely being a seat of one of these worthies. 

I'd be as happy with variations of "raja" and other Sanskrit terms for Middle Sea Empire officials. "Talar" etc. doesn't quite cover the differences in rank.

Quote

Aeolian Orlanthi largely implies that southern Heortland supports more of a caste-like structure, but generally looser than western Glorantha.  That largely comes up to about Durengard.  Backford is more traditional Heortling, although in the days of Belintar the God-king there was likely an administrator of tolls/tribute in Backford appointed by Belintar's Governor.  Otherwise though Backford is a city of fairly typical Orlanthi clan(s) dominating the point where the Heortland Road crosses the Syphon.  I think it likely is a broad ford, possibly a ferry, rather than a bridge. 

Most Aeolians outside of Esvular and the Bandori region live in cities - the largest group in Nochet, the rest distributed over the cities in the Malkonwal parts of Heortland. Possibly including Jansholm and Karse, probably excluding Sklar which is mostly an upstart fishing port with some shepherds in the narrow hinterland below the unscalable cliffs (at least unscalable for any useful traffic - there might be smugglers' routes inside the limestone of the cliffs, but not for bulk).

Backford has a temple to Belintar, and may have played a role as administrative center alongside Durengard (which appears to be closer to where Belintar's bridge touched down). All of that will have attracted some Esvulari population as staff.

Quote

Salt.  The Syphon flows uphill.  It is salty, heavily tidal, and leaves salt-deposits upon the river banks around.  The clans gather and sell the salt.  That's why merchants come to Backford specifically, otherwise it's just a passing point on the way to Durengard which is the main port of Heortland proper (though most trade going to Sartar comes in at the port of Karse).

Yes. Although, as always, exploiting the salt will ultimately lose you the land. Unlike Rungholt (which sank in part because the surrounding marshes had been lowered by burning the salt peat), the flood here will be Gagix Twobarb and her scorpionfolk.

The Syphon flows uphill because it sears away much of the Chaos that manifested in the Footprint. With the river weakened by exploitation, the Chaos can get stronger in the Print.

A river doesn't have to be brine to wash away Chaos - on the other side of the Storm Mountains, Sounders River runs into the Good Canal to cleanse whatever bad stuff may bubble up from under the Block. But taking away the Nelat-ness of the Syphon probably weakens it somewhat.

That's also why I am not quite happy with that multi-arched Roman bridge across this specific river. More on bridges later.

I picture the river bed at Backford as a fairly wide valley carved out by the writhing tendril, covered with pebbles and crisscrossed with lesser channels and a main channel splitting up to have shallow streams around small islets, often changing.

Fluss des Monats » Wasser, Klimawandel & Hochwasser - Infos auf  wasseraktiv.at

We know from the Guide that Backford has a temple that serves as the terminus for the Fish Lane towards the underwater area of the City of Wonders, which may still be there. For the fish road to work, the water downriver has to be quite deep, so ship or at least boat 0traffic up to Backford should work, too. I would expect this to be quite a rough ride, though.

Edited by Joerg
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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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6 minutes ago, Joerg said:

"Earl" actually appears in History of the Heortling Peoples

Yes, but I doubt it will carry forward beyond that work.  That there was a Belintar administrator there, yes, I think that makes sense - but perhaps just used the term City Rex?  Or perhaps served as a Chief Scribe.

8 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Backford has a temple to Belintar, and may have played a role as administrative center alongside Durengard (which appears to be closer to where Belintar's bridge touched down).

It's certainly a significant stopping point along the Fish Road (and one of the reasons why I don't think there'd be a bridge there) so a Belintar temple makes sense (is there a source for that?).

 

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1 minute ago, jajagappa said:

Yes, but I doubt it will carry forward beyond that work.  That there was a Belintar administrator there, yes, I think that makes sense - but perhaps just used the term City Rex?  Or perhaps served as a Chief Scribe.

Yeah, City Rex might be the term of choice nowadays. Certainly beats "mayor". But, unlike a Sartarite city rex, this would have been an appointee, not an elected leader.

The Guide uses "companion" for the former count of the County of the Isles.

1 minute ago, jajagappa said:

It's certainly a significant stopping point along the Fish Road (and one of the reasons why I don't think there'd be a bridge there) so a Belintar temple makes sense (is there a source for that?).

Guide p.249:

Quote

Backford  (small  city):  This  fortified  city is  the  safest  crossing  of  the  cursed  Syphon River. Backford was the center of the God-King’s cult in Heortland, and was connected to the City of Wonders by a magical bridge. The magical Fish Road still stops here on its run from Deeper up the Syphon River.

The map of the Fish Roads (p.254) shows that the Fish Road extends further up the Syphon, but it also shows that the rainbow bridge from the City of Wonders would have touched down at or near Durengard, and I rate that map information as slightly more authoritative than the text I quoted. The Durengard text doesn't mention Belintar's Bridge, but confirms Durengard as the political center of Heortland outside of the Volsaxi lands and seat of Belintar's governor-king.

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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3 minutes ago, Joerg said:

The map of the Fish Roads (p.254) shows that the Fish Road extends further up the Syphon

Yes, it does, and probably follows the flow through the Toe Hole to the Underworld.

4 minutes ago, Joerg said:

the rainbow bridge from the City of Wonders would have touched down at or near Durengard

Yes, the rainbow bridge would come to Durengard, and that would be the center of Belintar's rule in Heortland.

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45 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Yes, it does, and probably follows the flow through the Toe Hole to the Underworld.

Which opens up interesting heroquesting opportunities. Are there any underwater Chaos monsters?

(Other than the giant, possibly winged walktapus in the East Isles, and some of the spawn of the Mother of Monsters?)

45 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Yes, the rainbow bridge would come to Durengard, and that would be the center of Belintar's rule in Heortland.

Rule, opposed to cult, and possibly only after the Volsaxi secession.

IMO the temple is where air breathers can make the transition onto the Fish Road, similar to the temple in the Nochet harbor. No idea whether merfolk have a dry part of the Fish Road in Backford, though.

It will be fun to copy the Sacred City from Nochet to Durengard, but make it the center of Belitnar's administration rather than the seat of the Earth Queen.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Guide uses "companion" for the former count of the County of the Isles.

Which shares the same latin etimology, cum ire, that gave Emperor Karl's Comites (= those that go with the emperor), that became both companion and count (through the french comte).

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18 hours ago, Erol of Backford said:

Dried fish is taken to Sundome to trade for fertility stones to help the aling argriculture around Backford? Does a trade triangle somehow require stops through Apple Lane? How do I better tie Backford to Sundome and Central Sartar?

@Erol of Backford - as you can see there's been some drift in a few aspects of Heortland to tie it better into the Bronze Age viewpoint.

Getting back to your thoughts on Backford as a trade point:

  1. While you could include a bridge, the oddities of the river flow (that it flows uphill) and that there is a magical road through it (or was) that allowed air- and water-breathers to travel within it, suggests that a bridge might be displeasing to the Syphon River deity. 
  2. For trade, the Syphon is salty.  It does/will overflow its banks on its uphill route, and that will lay down salt upon the immediate floodplain.  I figure that is a major Backford commodity.  Dried saltwater fish is likely another.  Potentially you could have fish oil too.
  3. What would the Sun Dome want with such trade?  Salt!  Dried fish!  Fish oil!  Given these are all related to drying out the waters, that probably appeals to the Sun Dome and would be valued in trade.  And maybe the Sun Domers just love the taste of dried fish.
  4. What would Apple Lane or Clearwine want with such trade?  Salt!  Less likely the dried fish given the Stream flows past Clearwine.  And maybe the Sartarites hate fish oil?
  5. What would Backford want from the others?  Maybe they try to keep the Syphon within well-defined banks to ensure fertile soil beyond, but the Syphon likes to breach such barriers.  So, fertility magics may be regularly needed to restore those soils. 
  6. Heortland has an abundance of:  sheep, cattle, wool, leather.  No need to import from Sartar.  Heortland has bronze/copper, some small tin deposits, and a major center to Gustbran at Smithstone.  No need to import metal goods from Sartar.  What does it need?  Chaos fighters - always a need to fight back scorpionmen and mercenaries make good fodder (e.g. Sun Dome Templars for hire; Storm Bulls for hire).  Magical goods - with Belintar gone, there's likely a need for more and Sartar might have some (or might not).  Clearwine produces clearwine - so that might be a possibility.  Dwarf goods - there's a dwarf in Dragon Pass, and no dwarves in Heortland - those are likely valuable. 
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"Backford (medium city): Located right on the south bank of the Syphon River, this city controls the the main ford across the Syphon. All traffic on the Royal Highway has to go through the city gates, which has ensured a modest income to the otherwise pressured Eorl of the city." I see the city as being anywhere from 2500~7500 but likely 3500~5500 at it peak, declining as the timeline moves closer to whenever the Gagix invades? Maybe scorpion men don't swim and the river is used to escape or maybe there is a chaos type of nepidae that would really put the kibosh on that idea?

The idea that Backford is on the Royal Highway makes me think that a rock ford wouldn't be impressive/acceptable, thus the bridge? Maybe the bridge is a more crude construct with a stone base and is made of wood, which is washed away once in a while? Also if the Syphon overflows its banks the ford would be impassible to non-aquatics for a period of time wouldn't it? This also makes me think a bridge of some sort would be there?

One other note, from Thunder Rebels says "Backford, a fortified city, is the safest crossing of the Syphon." which also makes me think there might be some sort of keep, again I think of Cordoba and the Alcázar... (picture attached) seeing I am stuck in Spain maybe the cross-cultural mosque-cathedral (Belintar temple) would literally represent the mishmash of religious beliefs flowing through that region over the years similar to southern Spain? I know its a stretch but I used to love using architecture as a way to give examples to players of what something may look similar to. Knowing that the medieval feel would have stopped at Durengard, it is only is only about 20 miles from Backford as I see on the map I have from the 1983 Companion and so could have a strong religious influence there?

The salt trade is really solid, I love that idea, the fish would be a great second trade good. Regarding any port/wharf does everyone feel the craft would be beached and unloaded or would their possibly be a small wharf? I suppose the demand for such a structure/facility would be based on the amount of trade flowing through the city/town. Another trade connection could be Trollwood and or Stonewood... what would trolls want, dwarf haunch or maybe scorpionman meat, I recall and article with them eating it like lobster?

I'll have to read up on the "fish roads" as I never even heard that until now! I am a few years out of date...  I do see it in the Guide P249. I'll have to read that "tome of knowledge".

I am really delighted by the input, thank you!

 

Alcazar.PNG

Mosque-Cathedral.PNG

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11 hours ago, Erol of Backford said:

I see the city as being anywhere from 2500~7500 but likely 3500~5500 at it peak

The Guide map shows it as a town as of 1621 - max. 6000, so 3500-5500 is the right range.  This is before the Great Winter, which has a devastating effect across Heortland and thousands starve or freeze to death.  Then there is a wave of scorpionmen that follow in 1622-3.  And then subsequent rebellion to drive out the Lunars.  By 1625, you might be 4000-4500.

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11 hours ago, Erol of Backford said:

Another trade connection could be Trollwood

The Kitori and Trolls there produce beetle parts (shells, shellac, dyes), silk (caterpillar or spider), and probably some amount of fungi, mosses, etc.

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21 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

The Guide map shows it as a town as of 1621 - max. 6000, so 3500-5500 is the right range.  This is before the Great Winter, which has a devastating effect across Heortland and thousands starve or freeze to death.  Then there is a wave of scorpionmen that follow in 1622-3.  And then subsequent rebellion to drive out the Lunars.  By 1625, you might be 4000-4500.

Of course, followed by a wave of refugees seeking shelter inside city walls, laying the foundation for recruitment to mercenary units, warlocks and similar weird societies as Orlanthi society fails to feed itself properly. A situation not unlike the eve of the Adjustment Wars when the Hendriki invaded Esrolia after taking in numerous waves of refugees from Dragon Pass, starting with famine and raid refugees from no longer draconic Kerofinela in 1042.

The demographic changes of the Windstop probably should be addressed at least as guidelines how to change published population numbers for pre-Windstop Glorantha.

 

I don't think that Backford is in a good position to trade Kitori or troll goods - Jansholm or Smithstone are better situated. What Backford has as its unique item is Stone Forest artefacts.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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Silk would be a big deal along with other items, maybe traded to Nochet or other locations, similar to salt and fish to the Sundome. I like it, but trolls cannot be trusted? If the trolls are given scorpionman meat... I wonder what if anything could be a trade good from Stonewood. Does anyone know of a source on Stonewood? There is a note in Tradetalk #4 and in the Guide but I don't seem to be able to find much, possibly small stone animals could be exported as novelty trinkets or gifts for the wealthy? (funny, I was typing this as you posted the comment on Stonewood Joerg...)

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1 hour ago, Erol of Backford said:

If the trolls are given scorpionman meat...

Hard to say that anyone wants to remotely touch anything contaminated by Chaos.  Burn it!

1 hour ago, Erol of Backford said:

I wonder what if anything could be a trade good from Stonewood. Does anyone know of a source on Stonewood?

There are no sources other than noting its origins and ability to halt the spread of Chaos. 

It is a place of Stasis, where everything has been transformed to stone.  I'm sure there are items there that might be of interest:  trees that have gems for leaves, odd "statues" that are living creatures, etc.  However, it is quite possible that removing things from the Stonewood results in their de-mineralization (i.e. loss of Stasis).  Or that it has some other effect - maybe the Stasis "infects" those who handle such objects (think of something like the Greyskin disease in Game of Thrones).

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4 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Assuming you can get in and back out, or that the denizens would trade such.

I didn't say it would be easy or harmless to get some specimen, but breaking off some branches of a petrified tree might already give you a good set of curios.

Doing so will damage your perimeter against the Chaos in the Footprint, so the local Bull guards won't like it, but few of those will have survived the Lunar collusion with Gagix.

I wasn't thinking of trading, anyway, more like raiding or wood-cutting, and possibly a little poaching. Pretty much like entering the Big Rubble for a dig.

 

Even if the petrification subsides or becomes infectious (shades of Game of Thrones?), there will be customers. I suppose the Lunar expedition to Gagix will have brought a mule train or two of such samples for studies at the Imperial College, and researchers will be willing to pay for more such samples.

The scenarios almost write themselves, here...

Edited by Joerg

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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32 minutes ago, Joerg said:

I didn't say it would be easy or harmless to get some specimen, but breaking off some branches of a petrified tree might already give you a good set of curios.

Oh, yes!  Have to be able to get something from there - that is MGF after all. 😉  What could possibly go wrong with that?!

33 minutes ago, Joerg said:

I suppose the Lunar expedition to Gagix will have brought a mule train or two of such samples for studies at the Imperial College, and researchers will be willing to pay for more such samples.

They might be more interested in the samples from the Foulblood Forest itself - perhaps even some of the chaotic, poisoned blood.  "Guaranteed results for your special breeding programs!" after all. 

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5 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

They might be more interested in the samples from the Foulblood Forest itself - perhaps even some of the chaotic, poisoned blood.  "Guaranteed results for your special breeding programs!" after all. 

Now, that's the advanced course. On par with meeting those eye-tattoo people in Pavis in Robin Laws' upcoming Pavis books.

If I had to do that, I'd start with the Fish Road from Backford, and collect some of the ichor where the Syphon is searing away most of it.

Easy peasy - just like getting a sample of Ebola while dressed like Tarzan. Shipping nitroglycerin in a cart going down stairs may be safer.

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4 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Shipping nitroglycerin in a cart going down stairs may be safer.

Well, yes, there is shipping it back home isn't there... Got to watch out for bumps in the road and all that...  Not good for the specimens...

But if you need to adjust the loads a bit, just do it by Whitewall (still some residual fallout from the Bat there) or while passing through Snakepipe Hollow (can't be any worse now, can it?).

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