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Order of Phalanos, V. 2.0


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Over the last weeks I have spent quite a lot of time to read up on Glorantha, and now

I wonder whether this would be a nice background world for my Order of Phalanos set-

ting and campaign, too.

It seems that some kind of gate to another plane or world created during the Second

Age by God Learner sorcerers would be a good replacement for my current idea of the

gate to the strange world of Phalanos, and that Pavis with its Lhankor Mhy temple and

all its other interesting opportunities could be a good location for the semi-secret order

with the aim to use the God Learner magic to explore Phalanos.

Such a transfer of the setting from medieval Europe to Glorantha would also include a

change of the system, from the Legend / MRQ 2 system I started the design with to a

modified version of BRP, with a magic system better suited to the setting and especial-

ly the characters' ability to enchant magic items for use on Phalanos. Glorantha would

also make it easier to obtain suitable items instead of having to create them, there is

more and more powerful magic in general and there are far more places where it can be


Right now this are just some first thoughts, I am not yet sure whether I really want to

work on this setting idea - but I think that it might be an interesting thing to do. ;)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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The core element of such a setting would be the Gate to Phalanos. I would

imagine it as a slightly weathered plate of light grey marble, the size of a

gravestone, with the Magic rune, the Mobility rune and a third, otherwise

unknown rune representing Phalanos engraved into it.

The gate was probably found in 1611 ST in the ruined God Learner city of

Feroda west of the mouth of the Zola Fel, in a building once owned by the

Order of Otherworld Exploration, together with a wooden box which con-

tained three scrolls written in the tongue and script of the Abiding Book,

two masks and a leather bag.

The first scroll was a description of the place on Phalanos that can be rea-

ched through the Gate, the second scroll was a rather confusing speculati-

on about the role of Phalanos in the mythology of the God Learners, and

the third scroll contained the High Magic spell required to activate the Ga-


The two undecorated masks were made of a very light silvery metal and

covered the entire face of the wearer. Each mask enabled the person wea-

ring it to survive the poisonous air of Phalanos. The magic used to create

the masks is still not understood by the members of the Order of Phala-

nos, and until now all attempts to create more masks have failed.

The leather bag contained more than two dozen dark red gems of an un-

known kind, brought back to Glorantha by the first explorers of Phalanos.

The sale of most of these gems allowed the founders of the Order of Pha-

lanos to buy the order's current home in the Downtown quarter of New


I think this should have a sufficiently Gloranthan feeling to connect the

idea of the Phalanos setting with the world of Glorantha.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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The second core element of the setting are the founders and leaders of the

Order of Phalanos. They should be somewhat mysterious, coming from a

far and mostly unknown land where they had the opportunity to study the

history and lore of the God Learners and to find the knowledge which enab-

led them to discover the Gate of Phalanos in the ruins of Feroda. They ob-

viously have to be magicians, and since this is an equal opportunity setting

both genders should be represented.

This gives us the mage Siristor and his sister Sendara, born somewhere in

Seshnela in the far west of Genertela, probably into a minor noble family

of the Malkioni faith which provided a good education and the wealth ne-

cessary for the expedition to Feroda. I think that Siristor is in his early for-

ties and Sendara his younger sister in her late thirties. To give them some-

what different roles Siristor is the magician and scholar and Sendara an

accomplished fighter with magical skills, he does the research while she

protects him and leads the expeditions.

Once these two had arrived in New Pavis and had bought their house in the

city's Downtown quarter, they began to look for skilled people to help them

to study the Gate and to explore Phalanos. This probably led Siristor to the

temple of Lhankhor Mhy and Sendara to places where experienced adven-

turers and explorers meet, and both also to some skilled craftsmen required

to create the equipment needed for the expeditions to Phalanos. These con-

tacts determined the membership of the small semi-secret Order of Phala-


Yes, this also seems to have a Gloranthan feeling, I think. The next step

would be to detail the Order of Phalanos, and then to think about a few

examples of the types of adventures sponsored by the order, most pro-

bably missions to recover lost knowledge and magic on Glorathan and

expeditions to explore the strange world of Phalanos.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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A first basic description of the Order of Phalanos could perhaps look like this:

Leaders: Siristor, Sendara

Members: Mages, Scholars, Explorers, Craftspeople

Duties: Study the magic of the Gate and explore the world Phalanos

Skills: Craft (Cartography), Knowledge (Phalanos), Knowledge (Magic),

Research, Survival (Phalanos)

Low Magic:

High Magic: Activate Gate

Runes: Magic, Mobility, Phalanos

Benefits: Training, Equipment

Relations: Temple of Lhankhor Mhy in New Pavis

The spells of the order are still missing, mainly because the details of the setting's

magic system have not yet been decided. There will almost certainly be less magic

than in a typical Gloranthan setting. The types of magic available to the characters

will be Low Magic, which can be learned by almost everyone, High Magic, which

requires the study of Knowledge (Magic), and Ritual Magic, an advanced and rare

form of High Magic. I think that each spell will be treated like a separate skill, with

a base chance equal to the character's Intelligence, and that spells can only be im-

proved through experience, not through research or training. However, new spells

can of course be created through research, provided the character has the Know-

ledge (Magic) skill and spends a lot of time on research and experimentation.

The role of the Runes in my version of Glorantha is also not yet clear, this is some-

thing I still have to think more about. While I want the Runes in my setting, I have

no good idea about their power and how it could be used by characters.

Well, that's it so far. Comments and ideas would be as always most welcome. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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The first draft of a list of the order's spells now looks like this:

Low Magic


Detect (Magic)

Detect (Phalanite)

Detect (Water)







High Magic

Activate Gate

Bird Move

Breath Water

Enchant Item

Far Step

Fluent Speech

Perfect Memory

Project Sight

Sense Gate

True Air

To make it easier to distinguish between Low Magic and High Magic spells

the names of the Low Magic spells consist of one word and the names of

the High Magic spells consist of two words.

I have renamed some of the High Magic spells, for example the Fly spell be-

came Bird Move, Teleport became Far Step and Abjure (Air) now is True Air.

I have still no idea how to handle Runes in my setting, but at least I have

designed the Rune for Phalanos. I wanted it to be only remotely similar to

the existing Runes, because it is no Gloranthan rune, but also not overly

complex. The result is this:


"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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The Phalanos setting would be another sandbox, with the characters' relations with

the Order of Phalanos as the hook for their adventure options. For example, the or-

der is most interested in the magic of the Frog Masks owned by the Cult of Zola Fel,

a magic that might also be useful in the creation of new masks which protect explo-

rers from the poisonous air of Phalanos, there is the building once owned by the Or-

der of Otherworld Exploration in the ruined city of Feroda, which may still hold that

order's library and other valuable items, and Glorantha offers many more ways to go

on adventures for the Order of Phalanos.

The introductory adventure would be a simple mission designed to bring the charac-

ters into contact with the Order of Phalanos, to let them encounter the order's perso-

nalities and to show them Glorantha, Pavis and Phalanos.

The background of this adventure is Siristor's intention to build a gnomon on Phala-

nos, a simple instrument used to determine the length of a day and of a year and the

cardinal directions on Phalanos by measuring the movement of a shadow caused by

Phalanos' sun.

The pieces of this instrument, made of bronze, are too heavy for only two persons, so

Sendara attempts to hire some strong people who can keep a secret to assist Siristor.

These adventurers will go through the Gate together with Siristor and Sendara, and

will protected against the world's poisonous air with the True Air spell, sufficient for

the short time the work on the gnomon is expected to take.

On Phalanos Sendara tells the characters to help Siristor to find a good location for a

gnomon and to help him to put it up, while she goes „scouting“. Once she is out of the

characters' sight she will use Teleport to visit a previously discovered site where Pha-

lanite gems can be found with Detect (Phalanite), taking some bigger ones for the fi-

nances of the order and a few small ones to have them studied by an alchemist and

by a Mostali jeweller to learn more about Phalanos [a potential background for two

small future sideline adventures].

Meanwhile Siristor and the adventurers will find a suitable location for the gnomon,

but also the desiccated corpses of two people wearing the silvery masks used by the

explorers of the Order of Otherworld Exploration. These two God Learners died here

through starvation when the Gate back to Glorantha was closed during the destruc-

tion of Feroda, but their now slightly mad spirits are still on Phalanos.

What these spirits want most is a proper burial of their former bodies, and they will

not hesitate to use their considerable powers to force the characters to do it. Unfortu-

nately the encounter with the spirits will take some time, no matter how it develops,

there is still the gnomon to be put up, the duration of the True Air spells will be en-

ding soon, and it is a long way back to where the Gate leads back to Pavis ...

If the characters handle the environmental challenges of Phalanos and the „spirit pro-

blem“ well, they will have learned a little about what the order is doing and about Pha-

lanos, they will be paid well and get a little more Status with the order, and they will

be considered for a range of future missions, provided they are interested in working

for or even joining the order.

So far for a few first ideas, comments and ideas are welcome. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Today was "Cartography Day", I have worked on some details of my map of the world

Phalanos, designed a first draft of the map of the region of Phalanos the Gate leads to,

and made a plan of the house Siristor and Sendara bought in New Pavis (Building D-36

on the northern Parade Way of the Downtown Quarter of New Pavis).

I have also made some notes on the exploration of Phalanos. I want it to be more than

just wandering around and mapping the terrain, so I looked up the methods the ancient

scholars used to explore our real world - the Gnomon mentioned above is one example.

The fact that Glorantha is described as a cube floating on water would make most of

those methods impossible, so I decided that this is only the belief of Glorantha's inhabi-

tants, while the truth is that Glorantha is just a normal spherical world with a normal

sky above. This makes it possible for the Order of Phalanos to plan some rather ambiti-

ous projects, like determining the size of the world Phalanos by measuring the size of

one degree of latitude.

My original idea was that Phalanos is much like Mars and has never developed any kind

of life, but this seems a bit bland for a fantasy setting. The compromise I am currently

thinking about is that this is still true, but that Phalanos has been visited and is still oc-

casionally visited by creatures from Glorantha and other, still unknown worlds, and to

make encounters of the characters with such visitors possible. I still intend to use this

very sparingly, with most adventures involving other creatures taking place on Gloran-

tha, but I want at least to keep that option.

Edited by rust

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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The Order of Phalanos needs a couple of non-player character members, but as a

very young order with a rather exotic agenda the number of members will probab-

ly be rather low. I have decided that there will be a total of seven active members

at the beginning of the campaign, and apart from the founders Siristor and Senda-

ra they will be:

Carrowin, a Rune Lady of Lhankor Mhy, the order's main contact with the cult and

temple of Lhankor Mhy in Pavis. However, Carrowin often leaves Pavis on the cult's

business and therefore rarely takes part in the order's activities.

Cassidor, a sage of Irrippi Ontor, a skilled astronomer, who is planning to make detai-

led star charts of the night sky of Phalanos in order to compare them with those of

the night sky of Glorantha.

Inganna, a young librarian who came to Pavis from the library at Jonstown in Sartar,

she takes care of the order's notes, records, reports, documents and maps.

Robasart, a redsmith and instrument maker from Pavis, he made the Gnomon and is

busy with plans for other scholarly instruments for the order.

Varkan, a young warrior and scout of the Zebra Tribe, the order's main explorer be-

fore the involvement of the player characters.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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By the way, since I mentioned the star charts and their differences, here you

see the official Gloranthan star chart on the left and my Phalanos star chart

(as it will be once Cassidor has drawn it) on the right - it will be up to the cha-

racters to draw any conclusions from them or to ignore them and leave such

stuff to the scholars:


"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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With Gloranthan scholars as key characters of the setting, I wonder how these sa-

ges would think and come to their conclusions about the natural world – for exam-

ple, whether a chain of reasoning like this one would be plausible, or over the top

because there is too much „modern“ thinking in it ...

„You see, it is impossible to light a fire on Phalanos, nothing at all will burn there,

neither wood nor candles nor oil lamps. Thinking about fire, it requires air. It does

not burn in the earth or under water, only when there is air, but it does not burn

in the air of Phalanos. We did not detect any anti-fire magic there, so something

else must be wrong with the air there.

Now look, when you place a burning candle on a flat surface and put a glass over

it, the candle will continue to burn for a little while, and then go out. And if you

put a bigger glass over it, it will burn a little longer before it goes out. It seems

to be something in our air which feeds the fire, the more air it has the longer the

fire burns. Whatever it is, it is used up by the fire, and when the fire has used up

all of it, it goes out.

Perhaps the air of Phalanos does not have this something which feeds a fire, either

because it was never there in the first place, or because some huge fire has used

up all of it long ago. If this is true, the air of Phalanos is like the air in the glass on-

ce the candle has gone out. It would be tempting to think that this is also the rea-

son why we cannot breath the air of Phalanos, or why there are no plants and ani-

mals on Phalanos, but right now this is still unfounded speculation.“

What do you think, plausible or not ? :?

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Not necessarily too modern. Scientists used to believe things on Earth burned because of a mythical substance called philogesten (or something similar) existed within matter which had a tendency to spontaneously combust. No knowledge of oxygen at the time, so the plausible-sounding theory was utterly bogus.

I take it Phalanos is an alien world with an unbreathable atmosphere. The "magic" masks are ancient aqualung or rebreather equivalents. Assuming it has an atmosphere, are there critters there, and can they endure the atmosphere and gravity of Glorantha?

Edited by seneschal
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Thank you very much. :)

Phalanos is much like Mars, only bigger and with a denser, but not breathable

atmosphere. Until now no life has been discovered on Phalanos, but this may

well change one day. The magic masks are indeed just magic masks, I did not

want to introduce a higher than ancient level of technology, and Glorantha has

lots of strange magic anyway.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I think the typical Gloranthan sages (Lhankor Mhy priests) would say the air was "dead" or "poisonous", instead of considering lack of components within the element. But that could depend on the type of sage of course, the God Learners would probably say something totally different.

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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Or that there was no Air Rune for Phalanos? If the runes are the building blocks of the primal gods, the primal gods of a different world might have left some runes out and included others?

Of course the theologians of Glorantha would have to explain Phalanos in accordance to their cosmology. Perhaps it is an unfinished world, or a place used by the Gods to hold battles or tourneys.

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Actually, I have a kind of aesthetic objection to the Phalanos project on that basis. You can take the Ducks, the Morkanth, and the Maidenstone Archers out of Glorantha, and it is still Glorantha. But you take the gods away, and its something else. To be part of that cosmology Phalanos would have to have a mythic element, which so far I don't see.

Hmm. Perhaps Mostal's first draft of the world-machine? Maybe the search for the Gods of Phalanos would be a significant part of play. Or maybe the discovery of this apparently godless realm would be something that the traditional faiths of Glorantha would try to supress. Some experiment of the God Learners gone wrong?

Now for Hawkmoon/Elric, and its multiverse setting, that's not a problem. A realm of the Dead Gods, or perhaps a place to be developed as a refuge in face of the implacable Granbretanian expansion.

Perhaps clock-punk alternate history? Da Vinci exploring another world at the other side of an Atlantean Gate?

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Actually, I have a kind of aesthetic objection to the Phalanos project on that basis. You can take the Ducks, the Morkanth, and the Maidenstone Archers out of Glorantha, and it is still Glorantha. But you take the gods away ...

Actually, not at all. All the Gloranthan gods and their cults remain as published, although

there may be some minor changes in the details, like for example the specific spells taught

by a specific cult and such. As for Glorantha itself, nothing much is changed.

To be part of that cosmology Phalanos would have to have a mythic element, which so far I don't see.

This is true, and my problem here is less to come up with such mythic elements than to

come up with a plausible way for the characters to discover these mythic elements. What

I do not want is a deity to materialize in front of the characters and tell them the myth of

Phalanos, this would seem a terribly bad way to handle it. What remains are things like old

texts in Lhankor Mhy temples, dreams sent by deities, strange things discovered on Phala-

nos and such, little pieces of a mosaic which when put together in the right way by the

characters enable them to understand the mythological dimension of Phalanos.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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  • 5 weeks later...

Just for the record, I am still working on this setting, although rather slowly

because of the workload of my new job.

Meanwhile I have (again) changed a couple of elements of the setting, and

if I find the spare time to do so I will post a description of the setting in its

current version (probably V. 2.1 ...) in the hopefully not so far future.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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