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Bringing back the Aurochs to Dragon Pass: campaign help


Yinkin

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Warning, this contains spoilers for the Coming Storm campaign! I do not think any of my players are on this forum but if you do, keep out!

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So I am running the Coming Storm, the HQ campaign, using RQ. We are just on our second season, fire season of 1618. The Red Cow feud with the Emerald Sword is in full free fall and is escalating into a war between the clans. Last session the Red Cow launched an attack on the Emerald Sword in retaliation for an attempted Stead burning by the dastardly Dinacoli, but it did not go well.

When they returned the player characters began discussing other ways to prove that their clan is the best, because the Violence Option had not went so well. And they hit on the idea of bringing back the Aurochs, all on their own! And I feel that I have to encourage this.

So in the campaign one way of doing this is to do the heroquest of the Stealing of the Giant's Cows, but "properly", rather than the sneaky way the Red Cow has been doing it. The Red Cow way gets them Red Cows born to the clan's cattle, but not proper aurochs. To do this the book suggests they would have to assault the Giant's stead in the Heroquest and steal the cows the hard way, which the book says no one has succeeded with.

Now I find this to be a little prescriptive. But I also do not want my pc's to just succeed by going in and somehow just succeed where generations have failed before. So i am looking for ideas for side quests, places to visit to get more information, supporting heroquests, general ideas, stuff like that. This forum is full of people with fantastic imaginations and fantastic knowledge of Glorantha so I thought I would throw it out here!

Are their other heroquests and myths that they could use to support their goals, for example?

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It may also be possible to acheive the deal through guile and/or stealth rather than brute force (going brute force against a giant doesn't strike me as a good idea - your name isn't Harrek the Berzerk. though you may end up being Harrek the Flat 🙂  )

 

Edited by Manunancy
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As a real world historical footnote for those who may care, I found out that the Nazis went to a lot of trouble to bring back the Aurochs to the somewhat primeval Bialowiez˙a forest in Poland.  The breed are known as Heck Cattle today.  While they might look like aurochs, and may be descended from such animals like all modern cattle, they aren't in fact aurochs, obviously.

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3 hours ago, Yinkin said:

To do this the book suggests they would have to assault the Giant's stead in the Heroquest and steal the cows the hard way, which the book says no one has succeeded with.

There's actually at least two parts required to bring back the aurochs as noted on p.31: "To obtain the full benefit, the quester would have to follow Ulanin’s example and drive Bergilmer out of his castle. Less well known is that the questers would also have to complete “The Testing of Red Cow Fort” — when foes attacked the fort to take back the giant’s cows."

Personally, I favor stories that have three parts, and also feel that there is something missing in the middle here that allows for the return of the aurochs.  My preference is to tie it somehow into a Storm Bull-related story.  Perhaps once you've driven out the giants, you then have to free and Tame the Red Bull?  Or alternately, you have to prove that You are the Storm Bull (Fertility rites) to the Mother of the Red Cows.  A fertility ritual here whether using the tamed Bull or an avatar/incarnation of the Storm Bull seems necessary if you want the aurochs born again.  

It also becomes a good backdrop to the Testing of the Fort - you need to protect the pregnant cattle if you want them for your own.

Whether it's the giants who return, or the red broos, or something else may depend on your clan's special foes (or perhaps it's an alliance of giants with Chaos??).  But now the testing becomes a critical final stage.  

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On 5/9/2022 at 12:22 PM, D said:

is it possible to approach the giant on friendly terms and trade for them?

not having read the scenario, I don't know how friendly the giant is.

Not really. You take the role of Ulanin the Rider on the heroquest and they are enemies to Bergilmer the Giant. The giants eat humans and enslave them and are generally bad news.

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On 5/9/2022 at 2:19 PM, Manunancy said:

It may also be possible to acheive the deal through guile and/or stealth rather than brute force (going brute force against a giant doesn't strike me as a good idea - your name isn't Harrek the Berzerk. though you may end up being Harrek the Flat 🙂  )

 

As the heroquest scenario is written that is what the Red Cow are doing, sneaking in and stealing the bull rather than driving the giants from the keep. And that gives them the benefit of their namesake red cows being born. But as written to get the Aurochs back you would have to drive the giants away and take over the place.

I was thinking that ways to make that possible is to look for Giant-killing magics. Do we know of any good myths dealing with that?

Another thing that would help would be ways to either bypass or break the walls of Bergilmer's Stead. Magics to jump over the walls, magics to collapse the walls, and so on.

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On 5/9/2022 at 3:47 PM, jajagappa said:

There's actually at least two parts required to bring back the aurochs as noted on p.31: "To obtain the full benefit, the quester would have to follow Ulanin’s example and drive Bergilmer out of his castle. Less well known is that the questers would also have to complete “The Testing of Red Cow Fort” — when foes attacked the fort to take back the giant’s cows."

Personally, I favor stories that have three parts, and also feel that there is something missing in the middle here that allows for the return of the aurochs.  My preference is to tie it somehow into a Storm Bull-related story.  Perhaps once you've driven out the giants, you then have to free and Tame the Red Bull?  Or alternately, you have to prove that You are the Storm Bull (Fertility rites) to the Mother of the Red Cows.  A fertility ritual here whether using the tamed Bull or an avatar/incarnation of the Storm Bull seems necessary if you want the aurochs born again.  

It also becomes a good backdrop to the Testing of the Fort - you need to protect the pregnant cattle if you want them for your own.

Whether it's the giants who return, or the red broos, or something else may depend on your clan's special foes (or perhaps it's an alliance of giants with Chaos??).  But now the testing becomes a critical final stage.  

Yep, driving Bergilmer away is only the first part. Of course, the adventurers would probably not know that until later!

I do like your ideas about a third part! I will probably use that. Maybe if they succeed in the first parts they get AN auroch back, but the calves are regular cattle. And they need to do another quest to get the aurochs to come back fully.

But that is quite far off in the future at this stage of the campaign.

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there is always another way 😛

 

maybe to get real Auroch, you need to not leave the place with sneaky tactics, and nothing more.

you may defeat the giants but...

why not be welcomed by them, and leave with a part of the herd, not as a plunder but as a gift ?

could be done by honest bargain : we have change, and we want to have good relationship with you, we released your brother as a proof, and would like to obtain your cows, what can you do for you ? of course their ancestors will be angry...

could be done by some treachery : become unknown travelers / musicians, organize a fest, let them drunk, and place some red (cow) flag, on the top of the castle, then go back with the cows ? the ancestors may be happy because they ridiculed their ennemy, or angry because they did not fight as their honourable fathers

or maybe scaring the giant (a scenario may be the research of what could scare giant ? a mouse maybe ?)

or eurmal may have some joke and "kill" all the cows (with some rotting issue, even digusting for the giants), the giants would be angry, but has they need to eat, they must find elsewhere another source of food.

etc..

 

what I would prefer, in any case, is to have something to do before the quest, elsewhere, to find something (knowledge, artifact, favors, spells...).

 

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On 5/9/2022 at 10:57 AM, Yinkin said:

Now I find this to be a little prescriptive. But I also do not want my pc's to just succeed by going in and somehow just succeed where generations have failed before. So i am looking for ideas for side quests, places to visit to get more information, supporting heroquests, general ideas, stuff like that. This forum is full of people with fantastic imaginations and fantastic knowledge of Glorantha so I thought I would throw it out here!

Are their other heroquests and myths that they could use to support their goals, for example?

Where did the Giant get his Aurochs from? If the Adventurers know that, then maybe they can go to that source and get Aurochs from there.

9 hours ago, Yinkin said:
On 5/9/2022 at 11:22 AM, D said:

is it possible to approach the giant on friendly terms and trade for them?

not having read the scenario, I don't know how friendly the giant is.

Not really. You take the role of Ulanin the Rider on the heroquest and they are enemies to Bergilmer the Giant. The giants eat humans and enslave them and are generally bad news.

Surely, if they are doing things differently to the Red Cow clan, being different is important.

Ulanin the Rider might be an enemy of the Giants, but maybe the Adventurers can perform a HeroQuest to become a Giant Friend, or could meet Bergilmer the Ginat on another HeroQuest and get a boon from him. They could then perform the HeroQuest, march up to his door and when he goes "Fee, Fi, Foe Fum, I smell the blood of a Rider Man" they just say "Hey, mighty Bergilmer, remember that boon you granted me, well I'm here to collect, matey".

On 5/9/2022 at 1:19 PM, Manunancy said:

It may also be possible to acheive the deal through guile and/or stealth rather than brute force (going brute force against a giant doesn't strike me as a good idea - your name isn't Harrek the Berzerk. though you may end up being Harrek the Flat 🙂  )

That's how I might do it, sneak in and pull out a couple of Aurochs. What, you can't get through the wall? Eurmal knows a trick about noticing a crack that wasn't there, that nobody could look at, and slipping through it, as he used it to get into The Only Old One's basement in the Castle of Black Glass.

There are lots of ways to do this. You rock up as entertainers and have a couple dressed up as a pantomime cow, sneak your way in, the Giant notices you and puts you in the herd, you point out his mistake, everyone laughs, then you dress up the Auroch in the pantomime cow's outfit and lead it off, laughing all the way.

You get the giant drunk and, while he is passed out, steal an Auroch or two.

On 5/9/2022 at 2:47 PM, jajagappa said:

There's actually at least two parts required to bring back the aurochs as noted on p.31: "To obtain the full benefit, the quester would have to follow Ulanin’s example and drive Bergilmer out of his castle. Less well known is that the questers would also have to complete “The Testing of Red Cow Fort” — when foes attacked the fort to take back the giant’s cows."

It might be the full benefit of that version of the HeroQuest, but skilled Adventurers might find a better way of doing it.

HeroQuests are not to be slavishly followed.

9 hours ago, Yinkin said:

I was thinking that ways to make that possible is to look for Giant-killing magics. Do we know of any good myths dealing with that?

Pavis drove the giants out and built his city there.

Dragons killed the giants in an ancient war.

Bagog stung Dorasta's son and put him to sleep.

I am sure there are myths about giving a giant drugged ale and sending him to sleep.

9 hours ago, Yinkin said:

Another thing that would help would be ways to either bypass or break the walls of Bergilmer's Stead. Magics to jump over the walls, magics to collapse the walls, and so on.

Eurmal's trick might work.

Gerak Kag was known for jumping onto walls and off again, so learn , or steal, a HeroQuest trick from him.

Jaldon Goldentooth ate his way through the walls of Pavis, they could try that.

9 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

there is always another way 😛

Exactly.

9 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

maybe to get real Auroch, you need to not leave the place with sneaky tactics, and nothing more.

you may defeat the giants but...

why not be welcomed by them, and leave with a part of the herd, not as a plunder but as a gift ?

could be done by honest bargain : we have change, and we want to have good relationship with you, we released your brother as a proof, and would like to obtain your cows, what can you do for you ? of course their ancestors will be angry...

could be done by some treachery : become unknown travelers / musicians, organize a fest, let them drunk, and place some red (cow) flag, on the top of the castle, then go back with the cows ? the ancestors may be happy because they ridiculed their ennemy, or angry because they did not fight as their honourable fathers

or maybe scaring the giant (a scenario may be the research of what could scare giant ? a mouse maybe ?)

or eurmal may have some joke and "kill" all the cows (with some rotting issue, even digusting for the giants), the giants would be angry, but has they need to eat, they must find elsewhere another source of food.

Great ideas.

9 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

what I would prefer, in any case, is to have something to do before the quest, elsewhere, to find something (knowledge, artifact, favors, spells...).

Definitely. Work out a strategy, use HeroQuesting to get the tools, abilities and tricks needed to achieve that strategy. Perform the main HeroQuest fully tooled up and expecting to win.

 

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On 5/11/2022 at 10:06 AM, Yinkin said:

I was thinking that ways to make that possible is to look for Giant-killing magics. Do we know of any good myths dealing with that?

Zebra Fort in Old Pavis may have such - Joraz Kyrem was victorious against Paragua, and he or one of his heirs wrestled off one arm of Thog the avenging giant.

I don't quite know why the Pure Horse folk who re-settled to the Good and Better Place in Prax had such magics, but maybe they got them occasionally plundering cradles before the Jrusteli took over that business and captured all the cradles.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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That is a very good idea, the cradles as source of magic that can be perverted to harm Giants. That would open the possibility of the Pavis cult himself, as he picked Robcradle for a reason, and the Giants at least saw him and his city as an enemy, so he may well have picked some cradle secrets or magics before founding the city.

For a less scrupulous option, there may well remain anti-Giant GL magics in the ruins of Feroda or Robcradle.  

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On 5/11/2022 at 10:06 AM, Yinkin said:



I was thinking that ways to make that possible is to look for Giant-killing magics. Do we know of any good myths dealing with that?

 

Stormwalk mountain was formed by the corpse of a giant that was beheaded by Stormbull (Guide to Glorantha). So the questers may find information on this (perhaps lost) myth; since a hero quest performed on Stormwalk mountain allow questers to tame skybulls (Gorangi Vak quest), this myth is likely appropriate with changes; or maybe quester may "jump" from the Ulanin myth to this one, or whatever.

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4 hours ago, Gray Mouser said:

So the questers may find information on this (perhaps lost) myth; since a hero quest performed on Stormwalk mountain allow questers to tame skybulls (Gorangi Vak quest), this myth is likely appropriate with changes; or maybe quester may "jump" from the Ulanin myth to this one, or whatever.

Storm Bull defeated the Earth giant known as Rock Lord by twisting him and then pulling off his head.  It's pretty straightforward - challenge the earth giant and beat him in one-on-one combat.  

There are several tales of sky-bull taming.  Gorangi Vak is the path for non-Storm Bull's to tame a sky bull using only a stick and a rope.  There's another quest for Storm Bulls to do so.  In either, you have to get past Storm Bull's giant son Baskelos and his hound who guard the herds (similar the getting past Bergilmer and his hound).  IIRC, the Gorangi Vak tale notes are in RQ Companion in one of the Jonstown Compendium entries.

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On 5/11/2022 at 4:06 AM, Yinkin said:

I was thinking that ways to make that possible is to look for Giant-killing magics. Do we know of any good myths dealing with that?

Most Storm Gods would have Fighting the Giants myths.  I'd likely just draw on classic giant-slaying myths like Jack the Giant-killer, David and Goliath, etc.

In Heortling Mythology p.77, as part of the Plundering of Aron quest, Odayla and Hedkoring defeat two 500' tall giants with arrows and thunderstones.

Also p.47 when Destor defeats the giant Lant Ulfar.  

Trickery is a classic way to defeat giants - my PC's did this after one of them was snatched up by a giant and carried off to the Giant's Table.  They convinced the giant to eat a satchel rather than the PC and the satchel contained a thunderstone.  Blew off the giant's head.

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My players did something similar in my running of Coming Storm.  The Stormwalk Path was seeded pretty early in the campaign but the players never felt powerful enough or were too busy to pull it off until after the creation of the 11 Lights. 

By the time they came back with Aurochs from Stormwalk (the scenario from TotRM), Argrath was in the picture.  We ended the campaign shortly after that but the implication was that the magic they'd gained from Stormwalk+The Red Cow HQ+some help from Argrath  (since I believe "historically" Aurouchs only come back to the Pass with Argrath on the throne) made it possible for their Flying Bulls to mate with Red Cows...

All that to say that bringing Aurochs back is an epic event so don't be afraid to make it a complex series of partial succeses. For us it was the cap-stone event especially for the characters that were more pragmatic home bodies (our Issaries Cow Trader pushed a lot of this arc and ended up retiring to Goodfarm richer than Gringle 🙂

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Just as an aside, there is an ongoing project to return the aurouchs to Europe. Geneticists from three countries [Holland, Poland, Czech Republic] are cooperating to bring the aurochs to a sustainable breeding level so they can be released into the wild for the first time in nearly 400 years. As I understand it, they're working with various cattle breeds to find the most 'primitive' genetic markers and introducing some surviving aurochs DNA to it. They have a few animals already bred, but are trying to reach a stable genome.

Link below

https://www.eurowildlife.org/news/the-aurochs-is-about-to-return-to-the-mountains-of-central-europe/

Edited by svensson
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