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Su Lo Cha Trade Route


Erol of Backford

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Su Lo Cha (large city): The capital of the Bliss of Ignorance is known by this name only by its ruling mandarins, who reside in pleasant palaces of comfortable Kralorelan design. The Ignorant masses call it by its ancient evil name of Urgzant, the home of the Shadow of the Storm. Squat, massive pyramids and broken colossi of forgotten rulers loom over slums and palaces alike. At the center of the city is the ancient temple-arena of the Black Sun, where gladiatorial contests are still held by order of Can Shu.

What is being traded? What if any cities are on the trade route as there don't seem to be many through Pent?

image.png.261a83a02aca997d9c1c5809175484c4.png

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There's about three or four known places that could be visited: Senbar, Red Hair Place, Orathorn and Hard Rule Only.  

Senbar is an evil place full of Huan To and lies far to the north of the trade route.  Only madmen and Lunars would consider making a visit there.

Red Hair Place is well-known.  

Visiting Orathorn requires a large detour.  It's much easier I think to visit the place through Gonn Orta's Pass.

Hard Rule Only is a city or place that once existed circa 1250 ST and looks like it was actually on the route.  Given the age in which it appears, it's possible it may have something to do with Sheng Seleris.  If so, I think it became the basis for Sheng's New Star and only a hole in the ground is now visible.

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To start with, there is tremendous mineral wealth. 

Saresangk, "where gold and lapis lazuli are mined in great quantities". 

The distinctive coloured stone of particular cities and structures suggests resources of a Gloranthan analogue to porphyry or similar.                                                                       Bethmoora - pale green, Utnar Vesh - 'ivory bleached', Zhi Ti - yellow.  

There is copper as evidenced by the gates of Bethmoora, and silver as evidenced by the bells of Yian.

As for places on the route for trade, I would suggest that there are settled towns around the Hot Lake.  The eastern part of it was occupied by the Kingdom of Wisdom, and they could easily have left settlers there.  It would seem to be modeled on Issyk-Kul, and the towns there were a regular stop-off on the Silk Road.  It is likely that Sheng Seleris would have placed fortifications there to protect his supply lines.

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The goods of the civilized world are brought north.  They include silk, lacquerware, porcelain, tea, spices, incense, medicines, rice wine, fragrant jungle timbers, furniture, metal goods, cotton, grains, paper, literature, magic items, riding animals, carpets, and other assorted wealth.

The goods going south will include rare furs, slaves, gems,  unprocessed ore, jade, mast timbers, oily fish, wool, felt, amber, weird alcohols, hemp, soybeans, soy sauce.

 

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I agree that there will be unscrupulous opportunist kralori traders that take trade goods north to avoid the restrictive "allowed" trade rules. That makes the trade route interesting for high value goods. As in the silk road, I expect the most typical product going east is silver. 

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3 hours ago, JRE said:

I expect the most typical product going east is silver.

4 hours ago, Darius West said:

silk, lacquerware, porcelain, tea, spices, incense, medicines, rice wine

5 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

Slaves - enlo from the Uz lands, locals, Pentans, Pelorians, hsunchen from the mountains, possibly even undead from Orathorn.

Slave gladiators - hsunchen, uzdo and romal, huan to.

3 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

we are including smuggled goods

So what would be smuggled and what specifically would be from Vormain?

Slaves and silver going east, silk, lacquerware, porcelain, tea, spices, incense, medicines, rice wine going west. (sounds like the old silk road to me) Where is the silver coming from, the Lunar Empire?

From Saresangk, gold and lapis lazuli going both directions to pay for slaves and goods...

6 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

As for places on the route for trade, I would suggest that there are settled towns around the Hot Lake.  The eastern part of it was occupied by the Kingdom of Wisdom, and they could easily have left settlers there.  It would seem to be modeled on Issyk-Kul, and the towns there were a regular stop-off on the Silk Road.  It is likely that Sheng Seleris would have placed fortifications there to protect his supply lines.

Are these places large enough to keep Pentian Nomads from destroying them? Wouldn't the Nomads be the biggest threat to any caravan passing east-west?

Would the Nomad leaders be paid tribute by each caravan?

What protects a caravan? How large are they on average to make such a long journey? Makes me think of those on the south continent and that they are huge due to safety in numbers...

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I say silver, which the Lunars extract as tribute from their own vassals and many trading partners, as an analogue of the historical silk road, because as was the case with China, Kralorela is presented as fully self-sufficient and mainly uninterested in foreign goods, which is why the only trade good the Roman Empire could use was silver, which was very appreciated in China and portable.

We can make a twist, although it would go against some published material, making good tea come from Seshnela and Tanisor, and have a significant tea trade moving East. Moving away from an excessive RW analogue.

Other historical trade goods (magic items and magical animal parts) could also work in Glorantha with actual magic, though I suppose most of the interesting parts would come from Pamaltela or the Eastern Isles. Imagine if there is a trade in Broo horns (and fake Broo horns) for their runaway fertility power, and how that could affect economics and trade in the Wastes.

I am sure the Kralori say that nothing worthwhile comes from Vormain, and that would explain why their trade interactions are mostly piratical. 

Edited by JRE
Errata hunting
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1 hour ago, Erol of Backford said:

So what would be smuggled and what specifically would be from Vormain?

Slaves and silver going east, silk, lacquerware, porcelain, tea, spices, incense, medicines, rice wine going west. (sounds like the old silk road to me) Where is the silver coming from, the Lunar Empire?

From Saresangk, gold and lapis lazuli going both directions to pay for slaves and goods...

Are these places large enough to keep Pentian Nomads from destroying them? Wouldn't the Nomads be the biggest threat to any caravan passing east-west?

Would the Nomad leaders be paid tribute by each caravan?

What protects a caravan? How large are they on average to make such a long journey? Makes me think of those on the south continent and that they are huge due to safety in numbers...

Vormaino goods might include aquatic ivories, rare woods, spices, poetry from Aiken Hu, quicksilver from Henshie's Forge, Slave Bracelets (possibly with slave attached) from Henshivelica, pearls from Vengorokte, and magical items unavailable elsewhere on the lozenge.

If my thoughts regarding porphyry are correct, silver (and gold) are frequently found with it in the RW, as it is with lead, tradeable with the uz.

As with Issyk-Kul, sedentary trading posts can be tremendously important for nomads.  Different tribes and clans might hold power over one or two each, enforcing tariffs on traders.  Rather than paying tribute, the caravans might hold seasonal markets, another popular element in nomadic life!

Protection might be a matter of treaty, bribery, or coercion by neighbouring clans or tribes who want the trade to continue.  In Glorantha, of course, there are trader gods with some very powerful magics... 

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1 hour ago, Erol of Backford said:

So what would be smuggled and what specifically would be from Vormain?

Slaves and silver going east, silk, lacquerware, porcelain, tea, spices, incense, medicines, rice wine going west. (sounds like the old silk road to me) Where is the silver coming from, the Lunar Empire?

From Saresangk, gold and lapis lazuli going both directions to pay for slaves and goods...

Are these places large enough to keep Pentian Nomads from destroying them? Wouldn't the Nomads be the biggest threat to any caravan passing east-west?

Would the Nomad leaders be paid tribute by each caravan?

What protects a caravan? How large are they on average to make such a long journey? Makes me think of those on the south continent and that they are huge due to safety in numbers...

If we go by historical examples, horse nomads generally aren't hostile to the existence of settled or urban communities (except where there's active encroachment or colonies being set up) but prefer to keep them under their dominion. So I think that sedentary farmers around the Hot Lake or even in the major river valleys are perfectly plausible, just like the Oasis People further south. 

In turn, how you might do it is to say that individual nomadic polities control particular good rest points, and caravans are free to make use of these points so long as they pay- or in other words, by giving up a portion of their goods to a central authority that can then spread them out as they please. In turn, these leads to the possibility of rival polities on the prairies advertising their own particular routes to prospective caravaneers, which is a charming possibility for play- picking between the different options and interacting with nomadic salespeople. 

Some additional thoughts about trade- if you want to use the old "godbone" motif, Pent is fairly close to where major struggles took place in the Gods War, it seems entirely believable that there are whole skeletons of bronze or gold or lead (or even pure silver, once you're close enough to the Blue Moon Plateau) scattered about, perhaps far from anywhere people normally go- but ready for the picking if you're willing to risk it. Or people selling stories of a big claim for their own purposes. 

Beyond all of that, Pentans may trade to a limited extent with the Altinelan demigods that live far to the north of the middle world, and in turn people in Kralorela and Chen Durel may well try to buy them via proxy. 

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

"I just read an article in The Economist by a guy who was riding around with the Sartar rebels, I mean Taliban," -Greg Stafford, January 7th, 2010

Eight Arms and the Mask

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1 hour ago, Erol of Backford said:

So what would be smuggled and what specifically would be from Vormain?

Personally, I think I would run with this:

Spoiler

Rumors and lies abound regarding Vormain,
and no outsiders really know what its
natives are like except through second and
third hand experiences in its Hinter Isles.
Recently, small bands of Vormaino have
left, closed-mouth about their history but
optimistic about their fate outside of their
“treasured home.” Hints indicate a dynastic
struggle with many exiles. (GtG, p. 539)

… just ditch all the cod Japan stuff as ignorance and rumour, and make something up from scratch, but if you want to stick closer to canon, we have a very brief description of trade in and out of Vormain  in the Guide (p. 470):

Quote

Vormain
Imports: Iron, Slaves
Exports: Artifacts [i.e. ‘magic items’], Gold, Slaves

The Tsankth pirates’ magic suggests items, for example:

  • barracuda-skin slippers — walking on water enabled, but regular blood sacrifice needed or they will fail at just the wrong time
  • arrows of binding — once the point is embedded in a ship’s timber, the ship is held in place in the water (single use)

… but if the pirates catch you with their cult weapons, it won’t end well.

The pirates might also run drugs out of Mokato:

Spoiler

Onfray (small city): The City of Sensual Experience.
This city is the center of the Frenzypeace cult, founded
by Bekesh Marnad. It seeks experience through
over-stimulation of the senses, often with deadly
substances, drugs and herbs, sexual rites, and self-
violence, to produce intense, but short-lived, powers
of insight and clarity to see the Mystery. (GtG, p. 492)

Running slaves is icky and dull, but maybe some magical shape-changers want to go west to cause trouble, attend a trickster convention, or flee persecution, so some kind of people smuggling:

Spoiler

Aurubdey Forest: This forest of elm and
beech is home to shapechanging animals,
including foxes, badgers, and tigers. They
can assume human form and are feared as
tricksters and killers. (GtG, p.533)

I would retcon away slave bracelets, but if you want them, presumably the export route goes via Vormain:

Spoiler

Slabimili: This island is the source of the
notorious Slave Bracelets, manufactured here
and exported throughout the world. These
magical devices consist of two bracelets and
a collar that collectively bind the wearer’s
souls, thereby insuring the wearer’s passivity
and greatly reducing any chance of escape.
These shackles originally were a secret of
the dwarves, but Henshie, the Goddess of
Slabimili, stole the secret from the dwarves
and taught it to her priest-artificers. (GtG, p. 539)

Grave robbing and temple plundering are more fun than slave bracelets, so items stolen from the Golden Temple Hall and smuggled out of the country:

Spoiler

Yezo (large city): The residence of Flying
Swallow princes, this fortified city is the site
of the Golden Hall Temple. This temple is
actually the mausoleum of the ancestors,
containing the mummified remains of the
founding dynasty and the 33 gods given to
Shenza by the Emperor. (GtG, p.539)

… gotta be nefarious magical uses for mummy dust. Stealing a god might be trickier.

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1 hour ago, mfbrandi said:

… gotta be nefarious magical uses for mummy dust. Stealing a god might be trickier.

Sounds really interesting. I am not sure how I missed that much on Vormain in the GtG when I scanned it!

Thank you MF.

1 hour ago, Eff said:

Some additional thoughts about trade- if you want to use the old "godbone" motif, Pent is fairly close to where major struggles took place in the Gods War, it seems entirely believable that there are whole skeletons of bronze or gold or lead (or even pure silver, once you're close enough to the Blue Moon Plateau) scattered about, perhaps far from anywhere people normally go- but ready for the picking if you're willing to risk it. Or people selling stories of a big claim for their own purposes. 

How to potentially tie this to Gonn Orta, why would he need "godbone" or other items from the east, any ideas? Maybe he is trading over the mountains as a middle man?

Is there any possibility to establish a trade route further south but not to close to Hellcrack or is it to difficult to pass through the Mountains?

Also isn't there a snow line in Pent that is seasonal?

How much are slave bracelets worth/cost and would they be used at the salt mines in Prax?

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3 hours ago, Erol of Backford said:

what stops one running from say Pavis east and north to avoid the worst areas of the Wastes?

First you have the Desolation Hills, through which there is limited passage and the arid lands of Vulture's Country (which we are told holds no oases).

Then you enter Wahafanzali, the bleakest and most desolate of all the grasslands and considered very dangerous due to proximity of the Krjalki Bog (i.e. it spews out Chaos).  (This is part of the trek described in Borderlands to Giantland - better hope you find the Hidden Greens!)

Then you reach Wahalstorana.  The grassland is better, less bleak.  However, off to the east is the Raging Storm where Storm Bull lives and from which his scouring breath blows in all directions.  Likely you need to deal with lesser threats like whirlvishes, greater threats like nomads who want to rob you or get tribute, and still greater threats like Chaos monsters, the Wild Hunt, or Oakfed.  You're also very close to the Fanzali and Hyena grasslands.  Hyenas, of course, are bad news for Issaries merchants since they may be obligated to take the skins deep into the Wastes to help rebuild Genert.

And then you get horse nomad raiders from Pent.  Who also want to rob you or take tribute (or slaves), will be definitely hostile if you are protected by Praxian nomads, and have no agreement with you (unlike the Red Haired Tribe which is Pentan and has an agreement with the Pentan tribes).

And all along the way there is the issue of water and food.  At least in Pent there are some waterways you can follow.

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4 minutes ago, Erol of Backford said:

Are these places large enough to keep Pentian Nomads from destroying them? Wouldn't the Nomads be the biggest threat to any caravan passing east-west?

Would the Nomad leaders be paid tribute by each caravan?

A light tribute/tax is a fair price to pay for safe passage through a nomad's territory

The thing about the free market is that if you kill the merchants you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.  The merchants have great things to trade, but if you tax them too heavily, they stop coming, just like if you killed them.  The other thing is, merchant pack animals aren't generally much worth stealing by Nomad standards, I mean, better than nothing but never exceptional.  The chief quickly realizes that it is worth his while to tax them lightly but leave the mule men alone.

9 minutes ago, Erol of Backford said:

What protects a caravan? How large are they on average to make such a long journey? Makes me think of those on the south continent and that they are huge due to safety in numbers...

It might be any number of things.  Kralori Dagger-Axemen.  Kralori Crossbowmen.  Red Headed Steppe children of the Lunar Empire.  Pentan nomads themselves (of different tribes).  Wayward Praxians.  Scorpion Men (apparently some people hire them as caravan mercenaries).  Trolls and trollkin.  Hsunchen guides...

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4 hours ago, Erol of Backford said:

Ok so its difficult but not impossible... fun to try and role play.

You mean Kung-fu Shuffle Axe Men!?

image.png.1eaca1c4421d2e45d8656c0b5a05da28.png

Not really, I was thinking these guys...  The "halberdier is using a "ge" or dagger-axe, you know, the one that does 3d6 damage.  The crossbowman is a bit useless though; where are his bolts?   "Has anyone seen my spear? How can I be a spear carrier without a spear?"

image.jpeg.123c183ff11f19327da335ee5febc76f.jpeg

Edited by Darius West
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4 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

I think we may be straying into the Thanatar thread, given the rearmost soldier!  (Yes, I do know the historicity of it)

The spearman in question is still learning to count.  He hasn't quite got the hang of 1 yet, hence the head.  When he gets to 2 reliably he will quit and become a roady.

Edited by Darius West
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11 hours ago, Erol of Backford said:

I have always liked the dreaded/annoying upstart Buddhist peasants - the Ikko-Ikki. We could use them as Kralori mercenaries/caravan guards.

image.png.5233db000e62e4fabef708b4ce919827.png

These fierce religious extremist skinheads are clearly from Vormain not Kralorela 😉

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