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PCs knowledge and perspective about Elder Races


Nicochan

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What does a common Dragon Pass initiate know (the things that commoners usually know even before becoming adventurers or Heroquesters) and think (the stereotypes, the perception, the reception, the acceptance or rejection)  about:

Mostali?

Aldryami?

Dragonewt?

Uz?

 

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Until they encounter them and get first-hand knowledge, very little. Just rumors mostly. If the clan has a good relationship with an Elder Race, then the rumors are closer to being actually true. But other than that, they can recognize the most commonly encountered type of the Elder Race [a Dark Troll vs. a trollkin, an Iron Dwarf, a Marching Aldryami Green or Brown Elf].

Dragonewts are kind of a special case. There are a fair number of creatures in Glorantha that might be mistaken for a 'newt. Newtlings, magisaurs, slarges, all these could be erroneously identified as a Dragonewt.

Knowledge, it's storage and transmittal, isn't very sophisticated in Glorantha. It's subjective rather than objective. A person sees something happen and knows that it occurred, but rarely thinks to ask WHY it happened. VERY few humans know another race well enough to understand the 'why' and 'wherefore' that motivates that race.

Most people who receive a high school education here on Earth are taught to ask why, to compare and contrast differences and reach conclusions through independent examination. Gloranthans, even those in knowledge cults, are not. They're taught how to understand something by rote repetition, either physical or mental. For example, 'I know this about Aldryami because the Grey Sage So-and-so taught me so. The few times I've seen an elf, what I was taught seemed to be true.'

Edited by svensson
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Not sure how old you are, but I think pre-Internet schoolyard rumours would be a good model.  There wasn't any Internet or Wikipedia to check, so the old "a friend told me that apparently ... <insert rumour here>" happened a lot.  You could either call bullshit or you could go to your friend and say "Hey, I just heard ...".  There wasn't any real way of telling whether something was true.  Rumours spread fast and interesting rumours spread faster, particularly if they are just plausible enough to be true.  Before long everyone just knows that this rumour is true.

Really, it depends on who, where and what they have access to.  There are Trolls in Boldhome, so it is not unreasonable that anyone who travels to Boldhome has at least seen a troll, possibly interacted with one.  They may never have seen an Aldryami, though.

I think you could have a lot of fun with this in a game.  Seed the rumours early in the campaign and then play out what the Elder Races are really like.

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I suggest checking out this old essay from Greg. It is about the Dwarves, but works for all the Elder Races.

Dwarf Lore

All the intelligent creatures of Glorantha have secret powers unavailable to other beings of their world. These species-oriented powers are especially prominent among the Elder Races, who view each other's abilities as diabolic and utterly mysterious. For example, trolls have a sonar sense whose origins and properties are unknown to the other races. Thus trolls are able to perform certain feats which are quite beyond the understanding and power of elves, dwarfs, or humans. No normal person of any other species would try to acquire these alien powers. What sane elf would ever want to be troll-like?

The dwarfs are no exception. They, the Makers, have tools beyond the understanding of other races. This is called dwarf magic. It is mysterious and diabolic in nature, intended to harm the world and make dwarfs dominant. Trolls, elves, dragonewts, and the lesser Elder Races know of these strange, secret magics, and what they can do. They have deep respect and fear of them, and they know clearly that they must ever avoid their taint.

Humans, always inquisitive and never as restricted as the Elder Races, have often plundered the secrets of the Mostali and stolen many of their abilities. They have learned little of true knowledge, while ransacking the garbage can of the great dwarf Machine, but it was noticeable, and the dwarfs are now wise to the deception, and avoid all humans if they can.

Many dwarf items of great magical power are quite familiar to us, who live outside of Glorantha. It is easy for us to say, "He pulls out a double-barreled flintlock and levels it at you." This will certainly instill immediate respect among the characters, even if they have no idea what damage a gun will do in the game. But is that instant recognition what a role-playing situation calls for?

When I play role-playing games, one of the enjoyable parts of the experience is to role-play these inquisitive (or simply stupid) adventurers through a world which is quite new to them. I, the player, usually know much more than that wary player character stalking down that nicely swept cement road in the wilderness. He, poor old Tostig, has seen wide clean roads before and is busy spouting off his great knowledge of how this is just like the great Seshnegi roads which he saw in the far west. "There is no need for extra caution" he says confidently, "These are all long since abandoned." Fortunately for the party, no one believes Tostig (as usual) and they detect the party of dwarfs hiding beside the road, up ahead.

"Impossible" proclaims Tostig. "There have been no dwarfs in this land for centuries. Their reign was too terrible, and humans, elves, and trolls united to destroy every vestige of their evil civilization." Despite his confidence, Tostig finds it useful to dismount and join his companions in a defensive position. There is no need for me to relate the abuse which the other player-characters heap upon Tostig's hard-earned knowledge. But Tostig is one to quickly reaffirm his current certainty through immediate experience.

Declaims Tostig, "Well, when they were here last they were all terrible. Every one of them was in iron and never missed his target. They can sling tiny thunderstones over a half-mile in distance. Half of them are only engines, full of tiny pieces which mimic a man's innards and can take no injury or wound. They all have extra spirits. Magic potions are always being used by Mostali, and they can mix up to six in one drinking. Even though wearing iron, they make no noise, can sometimes sense your thoughts, and are known to eat flesh of any type."

All this is fact, Tostig assures everyone, for he is well-read and widely traveled. This is all quite important for our defense, after all. "We should probably attack first. They never tell the truth. Don't trust a Mostali peace signal. Sometimes their sign language is completely opposite ours. It happened that way to King Amaling in Seshnela..."

So what about this babble? Some of it is true, some is not. Most of it is half-true. Which is which? I know, for at the moment I am the world's authority on Mostali. Should I tell my fellow players about it now?

"They probably have metal gargoyles flying overhead. They often use stone gnomes to burrow tunnels under their foes, so search underground with your spirits. Giant moles and shrews are their slaves, big enough to take a horse. Dwarfs never take prisoners and scorn ransom. Dwarfs hate all humans because people kidnapped Quicksilver, their god, long ago."

To role-play Tostig, I must not reveal what is truth and what is falsehood. Tostig's knowledge is what is being played, and to do otherwise would betray the spirit of the game. Whatever the outcome of the current encounter, the other characters will have gained a certain amount of knowledge as well. When it is time for them to meet dwarfs again, later, they can draw upon their previous experience and act accordingly.

"That is one of their Great Exploders! I am aiming for his head." However, Jorgard the leader has already cast a Glue spell on Tostig's crossbow, and he stands and makes the Issaries signal for peaceful greeting. The dwarf responds, and a peaceful encounter continues.

With his share of the treasure traded for, Tostig, ever the bookworm, secures an ancient manuscript on Mostali and begins educating himself once more. Next time, he says, he won't be fooled.

So, when the dwarf lifts his hand with some machinery in it, you should describe the tool in Gloranthan terms. It is unlikely that many have ever seen any intact Mostali equipment, and many manuscripts and stories have distorted and twisted drawings, descriptions, or facts. Don't tell the players what it is, even if they ask. Say something like, "It is about as big as a watermelon, made out of metal, and has three moving parts. If you look closely, you see a small glowing light on one side and a silver chain hanging from it. What is your statement of intent?" Thus will dwarf magic show itself: a thing of mystery and uncertainty.

 

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@Jeff

And Greg's [MHRIP] essay illustrates for the 7043rd time the difference between 'role' and 'roll' play, or 'The Great Character versus Player Knowledge Debate'.

It's impossible for any milieu to transmit to players the totality of a given character's knowledge. This is why we have Lore Skill rolls. But players and referees should not depend on Lore rolls to impart information, be it true or false. Just like the 'school yard' or 'barracks' or 'old women at the village well' gossip mill, every nugget of truth should be surrounded by a layer of falsehood and only previous experience by the character can dispel it.

The trick with it is to come up with something that surprises the players every time. And that's neater trick than most people think.

Edited by svensson
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14 hours ago, svensson said:

they can recognize the most commonly encountered type of the Elder Race [a Dark Troll vs. a trollkin, an Iron Dwarf, a Marching Aldryami Green or Brown Elf].

of those, only the Dark Troll v trollkin would I allow. Aldryami rarely leave their forests, and I doubt many humans would have any idea about the different types.

Same with Mostali, again because so few ever come up from the ground, and of those that do, they tend not to go very far. So I think it highly unlikely that more than 0.001% of humans are even aware that there are different types.

And none of the Elder Races are overly inclined to tell anyone else about themselves, almost like cult secrets.

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20 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

of those, only the Dark Troll v trollkin would I allow. Aldryami rarely leave their forests, and I doubt many humans would have any idea about the different types.

Same with Mostali, again because so few ever come up from the ground, and of those that do, they tend not to go very far. So I think it highly unlikely that more than 0.001% of humans are even aware that there are different types.

And none of the Elder Races are overly inclined to tell anyone else about themselves, almost like cult secrets.

Well, Iron Dwarves are short and covered in Iron. That's a reasonable first clue 😁

And if an Aldryami is roughly 5' in height, looks like a 'plant-man' [cuz RUNES, that's why!] and carrying a bow, you got pretty good odds it's a Marching Aldryami.

Jokes aside, anyone with a reasonable education [and I submit that even cults offer that in the form of mythic stories and superstitions], should be able to identify the broad stereotypical members of an Elder Race. Would they be able to tell a Quicksilver Dwarf from a Copper Dwarf? Absolutely not if the character hadn't been personally shown the differences. But identifying a Runner from a Marching Aldryami is about as hard as a Dark Troll from a Trollkin.

Conversely, there aren't a lot of Elder Races that can tell the difference between a Lunar and a Sartarite either, unless their enclave had extensive dealings with humans at some point or another.

And, of course, just because you can tell the difference doesn't mean you know any useful information about how to deal with them, peaceably or otherwise!

Edited by svensson
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I think Trolls are (by far) the most-known-about in and around Sartar; they are, after all "Dark Men" in the vernacular, the only Elder Race actually CALLED "men."  There are Dark-specific (Troll-wise) Tribes in Sartar.  There is a god, Argan Argar, who works the human/troll interactions.

There's even an Uz population in Boldhome!

Dark Trolls will be the "baseline" normal Uz, from the Human perspective... even as they recognize Trollkin as the "most numerous."  I doubt the "average" Sartarite understands the differences between the larger varieties... quite likely, to their VERY great disadvantage when such encounters do occur!

Comparatively, Elves will be seen as "weird plant-people" with little differentiation; Dwarves as "weird stone & metal people."

Because of the whole "draconic" thing, I suspect Dragonewts will be ultimately seen as (at least potentially) the most dangerous.

Edited by g33k
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Interesting question & splendid food for thought!

I'd echo what g33k writes about the Trolls being well-known in Sartar. Was it the Trollpak or Into the Troll Realms where there were excerpts about some encounters with the new type of Great Trolls? So it seems that the people meeting with or fighting Trolls knew perfectly well what is a normal Troll or Trollkin, and could instantly recognize a change in the pattern.

In general, it might not be so much about recognizing what a strange two-legged being is, but about how they behave. The example given by Greg is great one here! For example, even if Trolls might be well-known, they might still be thought as monsters or demons, and mostly adversaries. For someone with no experience in trading with Trolls, they would continue to be just that.

I've run several campaigns in Sartar where Trolls were met, and the early ones had the Trolls as very mysterious and frightening beings. Because the PLAYERS knew nothing about them. In the later campaigns, Trolls have become the 'close other', because the PLAYERS know them rather well. So this question has become more about how the KNOWLEDGEABLE PLAYERS like to play their CHARACTERS. And here I'd start with questions in the Clan Generator and the familial cults. If there is a Darkness connection somewhere in the clan/personal background, then Trolls are known quite well.

The same goes for Aldryami, Mostali and Dragonewts. In Sartar, people probably can tell different types of Dragonewts apart, but Aldryami and Mostali are rare, and few know anything abou them. The situation is different in other regions.

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On 2/22/2022 at 10:05 PM, svensson said:

Jokes aside, anyone with a reasonable education [and I submit that even cults offer that in the form of mythic stories and superstitions], should be able to identify the broad stereotypical members of an Elder Race. Would they be able to tell a Quicksilver Dwarf from a Copper Dwarf? Absolutely not if the character hadn't been personally shown the differences. But identifying a Runner from a Marching Aldryami is about as hard as a Dark Troll from a Trollkin

However, I still think most humans wouldn't even know there's a technical difference between the various Mostali classes, and see a dwarf as a dwarf as a dwarf... They're all the same thing, so no "Iron" dwarf.

As for Aldryami, I doubt that most would even know that Runners are basically the same thing as an elf (other than "forest creatures"). Green, Yellow or Brown... Harder to say. And depends on what you've personally met. "Marching Aldryami" is not a term humans would understand.

On 2/22/2022 at 10:05 PM, svensson said:

Conversely, there aren't a lot of Elder Races that can tell the difference between a Lunar and a Sartarite either, unless their enclave had extensive dealings with humans at some point or another.

Totally!!! If they even care much.

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On 2/23/2022 at 1:51 AM, g33k said:

Dark Trolls will be the "baseline" normal Uz, from the Human perspective... even as they recognize Trollkin as the "most numerous."  I doubt the "average" Sartarite understands the differences between the larger varieties... quite likely, to their VERY great disadvantage when such encounters do occur!

I'd presume most humans don't know the origin of trollkin.... 

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28 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

I'd presume most humans don't know the origin of trollkin.... 

If your clan has good relations with Uzdom, they probably will. It's THE central and principle motivator for trolls, much like hatred for the Lunar Empire is central to the Sartarite character.

However, Aldryami and Mostali are FAR more secretive about their cults and cultures than Uz are. There are no automatic rituals for a human to join Aldrya or Mostal [it's possible, but the human will NEVER be considered a full member of those societies], but Kyger Litor has a well-known ritual for adoption that gives the adoptee full status as a Dark Troll in Uz society.

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On 2/21/2022 at 4:36 PM, svensson said:

Until they encounter them and get first-hand knowledge, very little. Just rumors mostly. If the clan has a good relationship with an Elder Race, then the rumors are closer to being actually true. But other than that, they can recognize the most commonly encountered type of the Elder Race [a Dark Troll vs. a trollkin, an Iron Dwarf, a Marching Aldryami Green or Brown Elf].

On 2/21/2022 at 5:06 PM, Harry the Dirty Dog said:

Not sure how old you are, but I think pre-Internet schoolyard rumours would be a good model.

Yes sounds about right svensson

that bad, huh, Harry. But yep, I concur.

On 2/21/2022 at 4:36 PM, svensson said:

Knowledge, it's storage and transmittal, isn't very sophisticated in Glorantha. It's subjective rather than objective. A person sees something happen and knows that it occurred, but rarely thinks to ask WHY it happened. VERY few humans know another race well enough to understand the 'why' and 'wherefore' that motivates that race.

 

Hmm, I think you underestimate the pre-literary folk and oral tradition, but minor, no big deal. I should mention though; songs and poems our the meat and taters of a preliterate society, think such gems as Horatio at the Bridge (I seem to recall learning a few pages of that bad boy) or any Dylan song (used to sing and play all the many stanzas of many of his bad boys) show how one could have a treasure trove of lore on the tip of ones tongue!

 

On 2/21/2022 at 4:36 PM, svensson said:

Most people who receive a high school education here on Earth are taught to ask why, to compare and contrast differences and reach conclusions through independent examination. Gloranthans, even those in knowledge cults, are not.

Agreed, they are certainly a "by the rote" type of learners.

To begin with... real life will teach a few more lessons soon after initiation (if that long delayed) quite harshly! Hey, your military, school or street learnin’?

 

On 2/21/2022 at 5:20 PM, Jeff said:

I suggest checking out this old essay from Greg. It is about the Dwarves, but works for all the Elder Races.

 

Thanks Jeff

 

On 2/22/2022 at 10:51 AM, g33k said:

I think Trolls are (by far) the most-known-about in and around Sartar; they are, after all "Dark Men" in the vernacular, the only Elder Race actually CALLED "men."  There are Dark-specific (Troll-wise) Tribes in Sartar.  There is a god, Argan Argar, who works the human/troll interactions.

The torkani. their queen worships a human version of KL (?)

 

On 2/22/2022 at 11:47 AM, Garrik said:

I'd echo what g33k writes about the Trolls being well-known in Sartar. Was it the Trollpak or Into the Troll Realms where there were excerpts about some encounters with the new type of Great Trolls? So it seems that the people meeting with or fighting Trolls knew perfectly well what is a normal Troll or Trollkin, and could instantly recognize a change in the pattern.

Leave us not forget the Fabled Trollballers: The Sazdorf Whackers and Tacklers (SWAT). Famous for miles around!

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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I would say that only a Lhankor Mhy pedant would use words like Mostali, Uz or Aldryami (so we can keep using them). Normal people will just see elves and wood spirits, trolls and darkness spirits, and dwarfs, though those are rarely met, except for people that visit Bad Deal. Dragonewts are frequently met but almost never interacted with in Dragon Pass.

Dragon Pass is not an ordinary part of Genertela, as it has an extraordinary population of non-human sentients, so a Sartarite living near the King's road may well have met trolls, dragonewts, beast men (not elder race, but alien enough), ducks (ditto), and if near Dwarf Run, dwarfs traveling to Pavis or Boldhome. Probably the only ones she has actually talked to are the ducks, however. She knows where there are elves, but that means the part of the forest you do avoid, so no real experience.

Troll caravans are an uncommon event in Sartar, moving between the different troll power sites, mainly the Shadow plateau and Dagori Inkarth. I would propose they use Sartar roads and benefit from their protection, so most people near the roads will have met them. 

An Issaries trader may well have traded with Argan Argar cultists, and have met some dragonewt that started an interaction. I do not expect even an Issaries initiate to try to communicate with a dragonewt that did not communicate first, but a Silver Tongue probably will try. 

Dwarfs feature in many legends and stories in the West, but that does not make the stories true. But a westerner will know more about dwarfs, while dragonewts will be a shock. 

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9 hours ago, svensson said:

There are no automatic rituals for a human to join Aldrya

Aldrya is an associate cult of Ernalda. Humans can join with a -10 CHA penalty (upcoming CoG per RQ2). I can see Ernalda priestesses joining as initiates as she's Ernalda's daughter.

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1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

Ummm, wasn't there something about that in RQ3?

 

23 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Aldrya is an associate cult of Ernalda. Humans can join with a -10 CHA penalty (upcoming CoG per RQ2). I can see Ernalda priestesses joining as initiates as she's Ernalda's daughter.

 

Let me re-emphasize my point here

Yes, humans can join Aldrya's cult but... they are never considered full Aldryami... whereas when one goes through the adoption ritual with Kyger Litor, you are considered a full member of Uz society, a full Troll in spirit, by every other troll you meet. It's possible for a Morokanth or Dark Troll to join Orlanth, possibly even earn a place in human society, but they are never considered human. AFAIK, only Kyger Litor offers such a clear path to full and total acceptance, albeit at a horrific cost.

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And now I want to generate a Dark Troll initiate of Kyger Litor and Orlanth and play through his attempts at being accepted by a Sartarite clan.

That's what I love about Glorantha and Traveller's OTU... there's always some quirky off-beat grist for the mill that is an interesting exploration into an aspect of the setting, without it being played for cuteness.

Which doesn't mean I wouldn't play the character as occasionally doing funny stuff. I could see him getting nicknamed 'Dark Wind' because he farted so bad in the clan great hall that he cleared the place out. And he'd be fine with that... more for him to eat! 😁

[As some of you may be aware, I really dislike false cute 'Hello Kitty' type nonsense]

Edited by svensson
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On 2/22/2022 at 2:46 PM, Shiningbrow said:

So I think it highly unlikely that more than 0.001% of humans are even aware that there are different types.

About 500 people in all of Genertela? That seems... kinda low? I mean, most everyone in Pavis would know it for starters, I'm thinking? Along with everyone with an even semi-decent Elder Race Lore (Mostali) skill? It's bound to be mentioned in the first Dwarves 101 lecture at the Lhankor Mhy temple.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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3 hours ago, svensson said:

Yes, humans can join Aldrya's cult but... they are never considered full Aldryami...

I find a useful work in thinking about this to be Isaac Asimov's Foundations Edge and Foundation and Earth books.  Spoiler tags for those who haven't read.

Spoiler

In those works the "humans" of Gaia have developed a collective mind that is always aware of the entirety of the planet Gaia.  The humans who visit and interact can touch upon but never truly know the collective consciousness.  This seems to be some of the essence of humans joining Aldrya's cult - they are still individuals and can only interact in a certain way, not sharing the awareness of the entirety of the forest.

 

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21 hours ago, svensson said:

Yes, humans can join Aldrya's cult but... they are never considered full Aldryami...

I fully agree  with you about what is descibed in the (previous) descriptions of Aldrya cult I read (don't know if it changes  something with rqg)

But... after all, I would not be suprise if, in my glorantha at least, there is a kind of process allowing the human to join the growth cycle of life

 

something like a huge dryad's power : the human may sleep under the great tree when the dark season starts, the tree may absorb the human during the dark and wind seasons, some ceremonies (elves danses, ...) around the tree during sea season, earth season. Don't know exactly when, but the tree produces a fruit, becoming seed, and one year later, the "old human" emerges from the Earth, as a new aldryami (same principle than troll: a true elf soul with a body mixing elf and human apperance)

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29 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I fully agree  with you about what is descibed in the (previous) descriptions of Aldrya cult I read (don't know if it changes  something with rqg)

But... after all, I would not be suprise if, in my glorantha at least, there is a kind of process allowing the human to join the growth cycle of life

 

something like a huge dryad's power : the human may sleep under the great tree when the dark season starts, the tree may absorb the human during the dark and wind seasons, some ceremonies (elves danses, ...) around the tree during sea season, earth season. Don't know exactly when, but the tree produces a fruit, becoming seed, and one year later, the "old human" emerges from the Earth, as a new aldryami (same principle than troll: a true elf soul with a body mixing elf and human apperance)

Well, as Greg and @Jeff have repeatedly said, 'it's your Glorantha now' and 'whatever is the most fun for you'.

If I were playing in your campaign and you introduced that ritual for those characters that wanted to undergo it, I could totally see it within the context of Aldrya's cult as expressed in past editions. I might even choose to undergo it with my character.

However, just one thing you'd have to consider... And Aldryami it totally devoted to the health and well-being of their specific forest. And when I say 'totally' I am saying that it is far more mystical and soul-deep than a human's love of clan. If the forest is ill, the Aldryami within it are ill too. If a human undergoes such an adoption they'd be equally susceptible to those effects. Perhaps it's not a physical ailment. Perhaps it's a depression that makes it harder for them to renew Magic Points with rest or meditation.

 

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1 hour ago, svensson said:

Well, as Greg and @Jeff have repeatedly said, 'it's your Glorantha now' and 'whatever is the most fun for you'.

If I were playing in your campaign and you introduced that ritual for those characters that wanted to undergo it, I could totally see it within the context of Aldrya's cult as expressed in past editions. I might even choose to undergo it with my character.

However, just one thing you'd have to consider... And Aldryami it totally devoted to the health and well-being of their specific forest. And when I say 'totally' I am saying that it is far more mystical and soul-deep than a human's love of clan. If the forest is ill, the Aldryami within it are ill too. If a human undergoes such an adoption they'd be equally susceptible to those effects. Perhaps it's not a physical ailment. Perhaps it's a depression that makes it harder for them to renew Magic Points with rest or meditation.

 

absolutly,

in fact it is hard for me  to see a "full adryami" as adventurer / pc, if the campaign is not focused on aldrya business

A big background should be created to imagine what are the motivations explaining why an elf, aldrya's inititate, goes to boldhome, then pavis, protects the craddle, etc....

 

if it is a one shot scenario that is not a big issue, but how to explain a "true" elf leaves its forest for a long time, risks  its life for human business, etc... ?

 

Of course it is different with renegade or "just weird" elves (those who have not a big relationship with aldrya, are initiates to more "human" gods yelmalio, humakt, ...)


 

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Well, given that Aldrya's runes include Life/Fertility, I don't think an elf can be Humakti... they'd have to sever their relationship with Aldrya which severs their relationship with elvish society. That would make an elf Rootless, an apostate, and cast out of the forest.

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