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Holy Country post-Belintar


jajagappa

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Some of Jeff's FB notes on events in Holy Country, particularly Heortland, post-Belintar.

Post-Belintar
When Belintar died and did not return in 1616, the Holy Country quickly fell apart as a unified kingdom. As not one but two Tournaments of the Masters of Luck and Death failed to produce a successor, the local rulers of the Sixths quickly spun off and charted their own course, although they remained in contact with each other.
In most of the Sixths, the local rulers managed to hold onto their authority - for example, Hendira managed to rule Esrolia from Nochet, the talars kept control of the God Forgot Islands from Talar Hold, etc. However, in Heortland, the ruler of the semi-autonomous Volsaxi tribe (Broyan of Whitewall) proclaimed himself the ruler of the new Hendriki tribe, which encompassed all of northern Heortland.
Meanwhile, in Durengard, Rikard the Tiger-hearted, a Malkioni adventurer from the Castle Coast and his mercenaries proclaimed the existence of the Kingdom of New Malkonwal. This was a largely peaceful coup (imagine something like Baldwin of Boulogne's takeover of Edessa), and Rikard had the support of the Aeolings. Because his retinue was small, Rikard needed to use diplomatic skills to maintain that support, and married the daughter of a leading Aeolian noble family, and encouraged his retainers to do the same. Rikard managed to procure the service of bands of Malkioni mercenaries fleeing from the growing power of Tanisor.
Rikard and Broyan indecisively skirmished over control of central Heortland, but this became quickly irrelevant when the Lunar Army invaded Heortland in 1619. Northern Heortland was quickly overrun (with only Whitewall holding out), and Rikard was defeated in 1620. A thousand romantic tales have come out of the short-lived Kingdom of Malkonwal, spread by both Orlanthi and Malkioni poets. Ironically, it seems Rikard the Tiger-hearted was more far successful as poetic figure than he was as an adventurer.
 
> Broyan, Hendira, and Rikard all cooperated against the Lunar invasion. But they also viewed each other as rivals.
 
> After the Building Wall Battle, they [the Lunars] knew the Holy Country had a lot of power. First they spent a decade plotting to eliminate Belintar as a spirit. They brought the Field College of Magic, the Crimson Bat, Praxian mercenaries, Sartarite mercenaries, Sun Dome mercenaries, and even Dragonewt mercenaries, as well as Provincial and Heartland troops. They attacked at the weak point of post-Belintar Kethaela - Heortland, which was torn into two, instead of attacking Esrolia like in 1605. And they managed to secure Wolf Pirate assistance. Even then, the invasion of 1619 was a very near run thing until the end.
> Maybe they should have expected the local gods would be a little more involved.
 
 
 
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Jeff on the Invasion of Heortland with maps.

The Invasion of 1619, part 1
The Lunar Empire had never stopped eyeing the richer lands of the Holy Country to the south. But their failure at the Building Wall Battle in 1605 had made them cautious, so when they moved southward they went after great preparations.
Wilmskirk, a city subject to the Empire, was the primary storage area, and it collected grain reserves for years. The army also moved there over the winter of 1618.
The initial army numbered more than 25,000 troops, including Sartarite and Tarshite mercenaries, and dragonewts who had been obtained at incredible price. The army was divided into four sections, each with objectives and duties:
The Cavalry Screen, commanded by Sor-eel the Short
The Vanguard, commanded by Jomes Wulf
The Advance Foot, commanded by Jorad Sideburn
The Main Army, commanded by Fazzur Wideread
The army first units departed Roadend and Wilmskirk in Sea Season 1619. The Vanguard cavalary reached Whitewall, and discovered that Broyan was already prepared, with the local militia mustered and gathered in Whitewall, which was well stocked and supplied. An attempt to take Whitewall by assault failed, and after losing some 1500 soldiers, Fazzur realized that Broyan had concentrated everything he has on the defense of the ancient fortress. Fazzur leaves a detachment of mercenaries, magicians, hoplites, and cavalry to stay and besiege Whitewall, and the rest of the army headed south.
Upriver of Smithstone, the Lunar Army needed to cross the raging the Marzeel River. However, the initial assault on Smithstone failed, and the Lunars lost another 700 soldiers. The main army assaulted Smithstone at high cost, but was successful.
Karse was another matter. The defense of the city was fanatical and Fazzur ordered several assaults, but despite terrible losses to the dragonewts, the city held. Fazzur realized that the city was being reinforced by Esrolians using every boat that the Holy Country could muster.
The Lunars reinforced their siege of Whitewall with Sun Dome and Sartarite mercenaries, but the reinforcements were attacked by Esrolians with troll aid. The Sartarites were defeated and routed and the Sun Dome Templars surrendered after a long fight. Their surrender and ransom was arranged.
The Crimson Bat was later seen approaching the city of Whitewall. The Sun Dome Templars aggred to help defend the city with the Whitewall garrison and Esrolians. King Broyan and his household thanes and rune masters (including Kallyr Starbrow and Leika Blackspear) all launch an attack by teleporting themselves atop the Bat and slaughtering the priests there. They suffered terrible losses and Broyan was incapacitated by a Mind Blast, but his right-hand companion killed the High Priest of the Crimson Bat. The Bat lost control and did not attack Whitewall and flew off to the south. The defenders were triumphant.
In the south, a massive build-up in Karse by both Lunars and Esrolians. At Smithstone, the Esrolians made a desperate assault on the Lunar forces in Smithstone. They managed to breach the already shattered walls and some of them entered the city, but it was too late, for the Crimson Bat appeared and dropped on the them and devoured hungrily. Most of the Esrolians were slain or scattered in all directions. Even the Lunars were devoured by the Bat whose hunger knew no national differences.
In the evening, Malkonwall troops arrived outside of Smithstone, and they saw the Crimson Bat flying away southward. The city was held only by a few Esrolians, and their scouts also saw an enemy column fleeing southward. But the Malkonwal cavalry cannot catch them before nightfall stops pursuit.
 
>You can see there was some coordination or at least cooperation between the Volsaxi, Malkonwal, and Esrolia.
>As is clear, the Sea Season campaign was a bloody mess at the start. But some interesting alliances going on.
>Some say it was Starbrow who cut down the High Priest; others claim it was the Black Spear.
 
Q: Did Queen Hendira send volunteers or mercenaries to aid Broyan and were there Esrolians (and trolls?) inside Whitewall or out in the countryside?
A: both. But the main Esrolian focus was Karse. Some 8000 soldiers defended the city, most were Esrolians and Caladralanders.
 
Q: So Queen Hendira, leader of the Red Earth Alliance, supported Broyan against the Lunars…Any hint as to why she did so?
A: because she was the ruler of one of the Sixths.  once the Lunars won, Hendira pragmatically allied with the Lunars. After all they won.
 
 
May be an image of map
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Part 2 on the Heortland invasion posted by Jeff on FB plus some of his additional notes.
 
The invasion of 1619, part 2
By the end of Sea Season, the Lunar invasion of the Holy Country had stalled outside the walls of Karse. After being nearly destroyed in a Lunar assault, Smithstone had been retaken by Esrolian and Malkonwal forces. Whitewall remained free; worse yet, control over the Crimson Bat was lost and the Bat was last seen flying over the Mirrorsea Bay. The Lunar Army's Sartarite and Sun Dome Templar mercenaries had fled or even switched sides.
Fazzur took direct oversight to correct the situation. First, he rallied disorganized Lunar units near Smithstone that had old from the Bat, and pulled much of the Lunar Army outside of Karse back towards Smithstone. The Cavalry Screen was used to clear the Marzeel north of Smithstone. With some 8000 soldiers, Fazzur retook Smithstone from its Esrolian and Malkonwal defenders and fortified the position against Malkonwal counter attacks.
Then the Red Moon turned and the fortunes of the Lunar Army began to wax again. A Wolf Pirate fleet was spotted in the Mirrorsea Bay, and Caladraland agents reported that the Ditali were preparing for war. The Caladraland mercenaries in Karse made private arrangements to flee by boat while they still could and did so.
The Wolf Pirates brought with them Lunar soldiers from Prax - the Granite Phalanx and Silver Shields - and the Lunars made a two-prong assault on Karse. Losses were high on both sides, but in the end, Karse fell (although most of the Esrolian army escaped and returned to Nochet). Fazzur ordered Karse to be spared pillaging. The Wolf Pirates, feeling betrayed, withdrew from the Mirrorsea Bay.
Lunar agents reached out to the Queendom of Jab and encouraged the scorpion people to attack Malkonwal. The Warlord Rikard was forced to withdraw from the conflict around Smithstone to confront the Chaos threat. Lunar agents also encouraged internal dissension within Malkonwal.
By the end of the campaign season of 1619, Karse fully under Lunar control, Malkonwal was rent with internal dissension and a serious chaos threat from the Queendom of Jab, and the Esrolia and Caladraland armies were back in their homelands as insurance against the Western Barbarians. Only Whitewall held out in northern Heortland, besieged by a Lunar screen.
 
Q: So it was Wolf Pirates, not Lunar-crafted ships, that enabled to convey from Corflu!  Either Harrek’s hate of the Empire bows to his business interests, or was it independent captains?
A: yes Greg revealed to me that it was Wolf Pirates not Lunar-crafted ships that enabled the convoy from Corflu. Harrek already hated the Lunar Empire (and hated their leaders, priestesses, and goddess), but the offer was too great for him to turn down - the right to sack and pillage Karse (a rich trading city) and mastery over the Mirrorsea Bay.  Instead, Fazzur decreed that Karse would not be pillaged (he had goals of his own) and the Wolf Pirates were left empty-handed. After that Harrek rejected any offer from any Lunar or that would aid the Empire. And harming the Lunar Empire became a treasure for him as valuable as gold or silver.
 
Q: So the crimson bat attacks whitewall in 1619? not 1620 as stated in the Sartar Companion ?
A: correct. When I wrote the Sartar Companion materials, Greg no longer had access to his detailed information about the Whitewall campaign (it went missing around 1991 or so) so we had to rely on summaries and notes.  However a few years ago, a box filled with Greg's most important notes on Dragon Pass - thought long lost - showed up at Greg's place shortly before his death, courtesy of an act of great kindness. Greg sent the contents to me to incorporate into RQ. So you'll be seeing lots of that stuff in the Sartar Book, Cults Book, and everything else. Those pictures on this post is from the series of military campaign maps Greg made of the campaign, probably around 1979 or so.
 
May be an image of map
Edited by jajagappa
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  • 1 year later...
I'm having my players siege Witewall. I got quite a bit of news from Jeff's Fb post + all the information I can get from the guide and sourcebook. Is there any other source? I would also like to know something more about the numbers (25,000 lunar) of the various armies, the units used and if it were possible even how they were moved in all the various phases of the siege. If it were possible then I would also like to see a map of the terrain (as detailed as possible) where the clashes took place (topographical map to be used on the vtt even if we play in person). I ask a lot I know :). Thank you
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I've never got it straight, what exactly is preventing Belintar from returning, which hero questers can't fix? My understanding is JarEel did something bad, but it seems strange that no Vargast Redhand or Harmast Barefoot has appeared to set things right?

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3 hours ago, EricW said:

I've never got it straight, what exactly is preventing Belintar from returning, which hero questers can't fix? My understanding is JarEel did something bad, but it seems strange that no Vargast Redhand or Harmast Barefoot has appeared to set things right?

See Prince of Sartar, chapter3:  https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/websites/pos/prince-of-sartar/chapter-3-the-white-bear/

Basically, Belintar assembled many powers from the Sixths, and Jar-Eel disassembled them, took them away from him.

Undoubtedly, Belintar (whole) could return.  It's unclear, though, if he's strong enough to do so without those powers.  It seems entirely possible that (at some point in the Hero Wars) someone might arrange his return; or some damaged Lunar power (with a bit of power taken from Belinar) might lose their power, and re-empower Belintar to slip his Lunar restraints.

Your Glorantha Will Vary !

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8 minutes ago, g33k said:

See Prince of Sartar, chapter3:  https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/websites/pos/prince-of-sartar/chapter-3-the-white-bear/

Basically, Belintar assembled many powers from the Sixths, and Jar-Eel disassembled them, took them away from him.

Undoubtedly, Belintar (whole) could return.  It's unclear, though, if he's strong enough to do so without those powers.  It seems entirely possible that (at some point in the Hero Wars) someone might arrange his return; or some damaged Lunar power (with a bit of power taken from Belinar) might lose their power, and re-empower Belintar to slip his Lunar restraints.

Your Glorantha Will Vary !

Greg and I both were pretty emphatic that Belintar does not return. He's gone. There might be others who unify the lands around the Choralinthor (or at least try to), but they are not Belintar.

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

Greg and I both were pretty emphatic that Belintar does not return. He's gone. There might be others who unify the lands around the Choralinthor (or at least try to), but they are not Belintar.

Thus speaks the keeper of the canon; we shouldn't expect that answer will change.

Obviously, everyone will play their own Glorantha at their own table.

If I were GM'ing (and my players came up with an epic plan that revolved around the return of Belintar) I would absolutely give their plans a good shot at succeeding.

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6 hours ago, EricW said:

I've never got it straight, what exactly is preventing Belintar from returning, which hero questers can't fix? My understanding is JarEel did something bad, but it seems strange that no Vargast Redhand or Harmast Barefoot has appeared to set things right?

Belintar is at least in a Lunar Hell, but might well be bound in a crystal on Jar-Eel's necklace, or may be stuck in a time paradox, depending on your interpretation of events. 

Edited by Darius West
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8 hours ago, Tyrian Telbenj said:
I'm having my players siege Witewall. I got quite a bit of news from Jeff's Fb post + all the information I can get from the guide and sourcebook. Is there any other source? I would also like to know something more about the numbers (25,000 lunar) of the various armies, the units used and if it were possible even how they were moved in all the various phases of the siege. If it were possible then I would also like to see a map of the terrain (as detailed as possible) where the clashes took place (topographical map to be used on the vtt even if we play in person). I ask a lot I know :). Thank you

There are a few official resources available on the Well of Daliath, including map previews and the facebook notes presented by Jeff which Harald reposted above.

In addition, there has been quite a bit of fan activity and ideas about Whitewall, including issue 4 of the 1990ies RuneQuest Adventures magazine mentioned on the Well of Daliath which has a personal take which is playable but in no way close to other such developments, and a big collaborative effort resulting in the Whitewall Wiki and the Whitewall Yahoogroup where ideas and speculations were collected and discussed. Very little of that made it into the official version, but it is shock-full of ideas and ways to have fun adventures during the siege. IIRC we also had lists of known units that would have been present, usually as Vexilla detachments rather than the full unit.

I have used the Lunar camp outside of Whitewall as a slightly comedic stage in a scenario/mini-campaign of mine, where a group of players needs to carry the corpse of their grandmother to Nochet while the Lunars have contracted Delecti for a zombie assault on the fortress. Keeping that corpse out of the assault, and then saving it from the Gorakiki insect swarm the Lunars used to clean up after the assault. Did this happen officially? No idea. It makes for a good back-drop, and made me think about how the Lunars would protect corpses of noblemen meant to be delivered back to their families during that assault, something I supposed they would rely on the local Shargash enclosure for.

As I said in another thread, IMG the Lunar camp had a pretty complete set of amenities for Heartlander magicians, priests, officers and visiting nobles admiring the spectacle of one valiant assault after another on those barbarians.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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10 hours ago, Jeff said:

Greg and I both were pretty emphatic that Belintar does not return. He's gone.

Are we really sure?  What about Harshax?  Isn't he Belintar?  Not that I am a massive Belintar fan, but I thought that was a "thing" for the 4th Age?

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37 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Are we really sure?  What about Harshax?  Isn't he Belintar?  Not that I am a massive Belintar fan, but I thought that was a "thing" for the 4th Age?

No. Harshax is not Belintar returned. 

The whole idea of the 4th Age in KoS was a framing device so that Greg could present many old notes and Glorantha stories in a single book without having to edit them for consistency. It also let us look at Glorantha "as through a glass darkly", from a vantage where the "author" was uncertain what really happened.

A step back - most of King of Sartar was written around 1981 or so, for what was going to be RQ books. The Comprehensive History of Dragon Pass was part of the Encyclopaedia Glorantha, the Report on the Orlanthi was going to be in the Sartar Campaign book, etc. But with Avalon Hill deal, Greg lost money any time he wrote anything for RQ3 and so Greg's Glorantha contributions largely went into his unfinished Arkat and then Harmast novels and projects like the Yuthuppa Book. I think it was David Hall who talked Greg into releasing a lot of this material as a book, so Greg cobbled together essays from many places, wrote a few additional bits and created King of Sartar. The 4th Age was a framing device that meant that contradictory material could be presented without concern. Also that's how much of actual history reads - surviving primary sources are often contradictory, later traditions add new material that changes the history, and the past becomes a collection of later tales mixed with often contradictory primary sources.

One big complaint about the book was that Greg deliberately hid the ball even further, putting in dates drawn from stories from the late 1970s (originally Argrath's hero wars were going to take place over a century or so, but then that became Ark's Gbaji Wars) I then went through and very carefully edited the book to make it possible to discover the story we wanted to tell (which was a ton of work, because as I said above, the original book was edited to increase inconsistency). So the 2nd Edition is far more internally consistent. We kept the 4th Age framing device, even if by then we were tired of people treating the 4th Age as a defined setting.  

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

What about Harshax?

Belintar had like a million ceremonial and metempsychotic titles that he would choose from depending on the specific context. Some were inherited from his host lives, others were won from the deep mythic landscape and I suspect all the best sages still can't figure out at least one or two that he kept particularly obscure. Maybe he brought them with him when he washed up, who knows?

Anyhow "harshax" is one of these million titles that eventually becomes important in the post-erasure era. Maybe it was already in the landscape and reemerges as an independent force. Maybe it reflects a partial reconstruction of what the Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea (a/k/a the Man Who Sold The World, Gentleman Who Fell, Gypsy Sun etc.) put together. I don't know the details. They emerge in play. 

But I know that while deep gloranthan time always rhymes it never really repeats. Everything always comes back but different . . . this was part of the inner teaching of the MOLAD and it's why the survivors weren't terribly eager to put Humpty Dumpty back together again after the first few abortive attempts clued them in on what was really going on. There's a million things to be. Get on with life. Make your own country holy. 

That's what they did instead. And as a result, whatever happens after the erasure will be novel but nostalgic at the same time. So it goes!

Edited by scott-martin
slight misquote prompts addition: no blame
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1 hour ago, scott-martin said:

But I know that while deep gloranthan time always rhymes it never really repeats

Ahem. Gloranthan Manifesto, Vol. 1, page 51, Song of the Inspirations. Some Pelorian ladies would like to dispute that, and while most of them look perfectly pleasant, one of them looks permanently pissed off…

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2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Belintar had like a million ceremonial and metempsychotic titles that he would choose from depending on the specific context. Some were inherited from his host lives, others were won from the deep mythic landscape and I suspect all the best sages still can't figure out at least one or two that he kept particularly obscure. Maybe he brought them with him when he washed up, who knows?

Anyhow "harshax" is one of these million titles that eventually becomes important in the post-erasure era. Maybe it was already in the landscape and reemerges as an independent force. Maybe it reflects a partial reconstruction of what the Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea (a/k/a the Man Who Sold The World, Gentleman Who Fell, Gypsy Sun etc.) put together. I don't know the details. They emerge in play. 

But I know that while deep gloranthan time always rhymes it never really repeats. Everything always comes back but different . . . this was part of the inner teaching of the MOLAD and it's why the survivors weren't terribly eager to put Humpty Dumpty back together again after the first few abortive attempts clued them in on what was really going on. There's a million things to be. Get on with life. Make your own country holy. 

That's what they did instead. And as a result, whatever happens after the erasure will be novel but nostalgic at the same time. So it goes!

Yes. And there are other paths to explore - so for example, we have Samastina who is reorienting the Esrolian Earth Religion around worship of the three stages of the goddess with the queen as the subject of worship (and male figures like Argrath, Harrek, Broyan, etc., representing various husband protectors). We have Argrath setting up his Kethaela hegemony alongside direct rule over northern Heortland (aka South Sartar).  The Eldest Kin beneath the Shadow Plateau seek to once again make the Darkness respected across the former Shadowlands. We have thousands of people making quests across the Homeward Ocean to far off vistas.

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There are many paths to explore. There are many RuneQuest groups. There are many possible answers. Your Glorantha Will Vary. When someone says your method won’t work: prove them wrong.

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44 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

There are many paths to explore. There are many RuneQuest groups. There are many possible answers. Your Glorantha Will Vary. When someone says your method won’t work: prove them wrong.

To add to this comment, one of the things I always admired about Glorantha as a setting is that it has it's share of things which are impossible. Except there are instances where someone has done the flat-out impossible. The follow-up to those exceptions or examples is "Well, yeah, but there were consequences."

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16 hours ago, Jeff said:

we have Samastina who is reorienting the Esrolian Earth Religion around worship of the three stages of the goddess with the queen as the subject of worship (and male figures like Argrath, Harrek, Broyan, etc., representing various husband protectors).

May I ask  which husbands each of them represent?

I am guessing Broyan is Orlanth?

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2 hours ago, Soccercalle said:

Maybe Broyan is Orlanth Rex and Argrath Orlanth Adventurous

Or maybe they don't have one to one correspondences. Or maybe those correspondences are changed by the actual experience.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I would say that is the problem of using the lens of the game, which by nature is simplified, to explore the world. There may well be a continuum of Orlanth that cannot be covered by the simple triad of Rex, Thunderous and Adventurous. Broyan surely would present himself as Vingkot, which is another mask of Orlanth, but it is also likely that Samastina pegs him as something else, a husband figure that corresponds with one of the ten thousand masks of Ernalda, giving her the advantage in the relationship.

Her problem, and Kethaela's, is Harrek. He will break any mold you put him in. Which is why so many people are working to find him a place in Pamaltela...

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