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The Sorcerers of Orathorn


Noita

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So this family of immortal sorcerers have often been the behind the scenes bad guys/manipulators in my games. That said I know absolutely nothing about them from a canon perspective.

Who are they, and where did they come from? The small bits written about them indicate that they might well be vampires: immortal with undead servants.

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Little has been published about them - their main activity was their role in the Night of Horrors (or was it Nights of Horror? I always get confused about where to assign the piural).

Sandy Petersen mentioned that he did some exploration and definition of these sorcerers in his games, and said he would consider writing that up. Failing that, we'd have to quiz him at Kraken's Secrets of Glorantha panel.

They don't appear to be connected to any of the Westerner sorcerers, and I hesitate to make them an entirely unconnected group, so what about a group of exiles from the East studying the magical opportunities offered by the Hellcrack? Alchemy, the Pill of Immortality and other sorcerous achievements are documented for Kralorela and beyond.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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My own theory is that Orathorn is a land of the dead that bubbled up to the surface but failed to erupt (unlike Hellcrack and Senbar).  The undead there are actually the dead people of Pent and the sorcerors are a Pentan shamanic group or somesorts.  During the Seleran Empire, vast tracks of Orathorn were created by Sheng Seleris for his stately pleasure domes which have not been looted yet.

Speaking of which, one of the bigger surprises I saw in the Guide was how close Orathorn was to Gonn Orta's pass.  It's so close that the adventurers in the Borderlands campaign could have made a wrong turning and stumbled upon it.  There's undoubtedly trade between Orathorn and Gonn Orta's castle...

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So, looking at the Historical Guide maps, Orathorn first appears in 1100 ST, during the Great Disasters that ended the age of Empires.  

When they showed up in my games, I had them be some group of misfit Godlearners who managed to somehow survive by making pacts with things from the Underworld.   As Mr. Metcalfe notes, I also had them allied with the Seleran Khanate, and magically connected to Pentan Hellcrack.   

In my own internal head-canon, I also might have had them be related to the Outer Atomic Explorers, largely based on things I read on long defunct listservs.  

Considering they showed up one once or twice in flashback scenes to the Night of Horrors, I didn't spend too much time elaborating on them.  

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A couple of references:

1. Sandy said on the Digest on 10 Oct 94: "The magician clan of Orathorn. I do not believe them to be Malkioni or any other recognizable breed. Perhaps they do not practice "true" sorcery, but some other kind of magic."

2. You can see on the GtG map on p136, they were around in 1100

I would suggest that they have a GodLearner/EWF source originally, but became isolated. We already have a model for what happened to one isolated group on Robcradle Island, as they morphed into Ogre Island. I would suggest that the mechanism for Orathorn was different, the mention of undead servants is a probable as to their change. Perhaps they are necromancers. The population is listed as 5000, with no breakdown. However it would be fun to have an extended family of 100 served by 4900 undead farmers, etc. Perhaps the undead are family members that lost their immortality...

 

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This is all probably wrong, but ...

I sort-of remember someone saying that a god of the dead reached up from Hell to the surface but was stopped just as his finger broke through, so the tower of Orathorn is the finger of the god, connected directly to Hell.

 

In my Glorantha, the sorcerers can inhabit the bodies of the dead, looking through their eyes and animating them. As Orathorn is part of Hell, the dead walk there without being undead. I don;t see them as being Maklioni, or in any way, shape or form related to Malkioni, but have their own death-magic. They would be a powerful elite, with human and inhuman servants, a lot of dehori would serve them. It says somewhere, can't remember where, that they were enticed out to help other people twice and neither went well, one time was the Night of Horrors where they fought against the Lunar Empire, but I cannot remember the other time.

 

How do I see Orathorn? An impossibly tall crooked black spire. Inside are chambers of the dead, including the Hanging Room, Walking Room, Play Room and a staircase into Hell that goes down the god's arm and through his body. If you think of Clive Barker's hellraiser films then you might be close to seeing what is in Orathorn, although the Sorcerers themselves are quite different.

At some point, the PCs in my campaign are going to encounter Orathorn and may well try to persuade them to help a third time ...

 

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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22 hours ago, soltakss said:

 

At some point, the PCs in my campaign are going to encounter Orathorn and may well try to persuade them to help a third time ...

 

In mine they hold a secret that will help the giants start their cradle building again. Something lost in Hell crack a long long time ago.

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YGWV! My reading of the Nights of Horror indicates a possible clash of chaotic magics.

"The Emperor grew desperate and summoned his powers of Chaos to aid him. The Orathorn magi summoned their own Secret Powers and this combat with the Lunar Chaos suddenly loosed alien worlds upon the battlefield. All mortals turned and fled, fighting wherever they had to against the inhuman foes which dropped from the burning scarlet and yellow skies."  (The Redline History) 

Even the Emperor has to fight chaos creatures.....so, I wondered what indications we have of chaotic forces around on or near the steppes.

Three possibilities immediately presented themselves. 

Than Ulbar, with the skull of Atyar.

Pocharngo's fragments after his battle with Boztakang.

Tien's invasion army, defeated by Basko.

 

Personally, I think the latter has the most interesting possibilities.  Therefore in my 'A Land Fit For Heroes And Their Horses' blog, relating to Pent (obviously!) I conceived of them as an extended family who have contact with Tien through a sorcerous approach, backed up by a considerable library of 'acquired' grimoires in the Tower.  As they die, so they are used as a source of zombies, supplemented by unfortunates from Pent and Prax. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ali the Helering said:

YGWV! My reading of the Nights of Horror indicates a possible clash of chaotic magics.

"The Emperor grew desperate and summoned his powers of Chaos to aid him. The Orathorn magi summoned their own Secret Powers and this combat with the Lunar Chaos suddenly loosed alien worlds upon the battlefield. All mortals turned and fled, fighting wherever they had to against the inhuman foes which dropped from the burning scarlet and yellow skies."  (The Redline History) 

Even the Emperor has to fight chaos creatures.....so, I wondered what indications we have of chaotic forces around on or near the steppes.

Three possibilities immediately presented themselves. 

Than Ulbar, with the skull of Atyar.

Pocharngo's fragments after his battle with Boztakang.

Tien's invasion army, defeated by Basko.

 

Personally, I think the latter has the most interesting possibilities.  Therefore in my 'A Land Fit For Heroes And Their Horses' blog, relating to Pent (obviously!) I conceived of them as an extended family who have contact with Tien through a sorcerous approach, backed up by a considerable library of 'acquired' grimoires in the Tower.  As they die, so they are used as a source of zombies, supplemented by unfortunates from Pent and Prax. 

 

 

I like this and shall steal bits of it. Tien is a major behind the scenes threat in my game so this is a great link.

My sorcerers control a small horde of long dead, dessicated pentans who ride similarly mummified horses. 

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Actually, any surfeit of magic can cause a collapse of reality, whether chaotic or non-chaotic in nature. Both the Lunars and the Pentan hirelings fielded magic of near compromise-breaking dimensions, and when the two magics clashed, a rift in reality opened. Even illuminates could get lost in such an intrusion of the Void.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Actually, any surfeit of magic can cause a collapse of reality, whether chaotic or non-chaotic in nature. Both the Lunars and the Pentan hirelings fielded magic of near compromise-breaking dimensions, and when the two magics clashed, a rift in reality opened. Even illuminates could get lost in such an intrusion of the Void.

In which case the question is of even greater importance - how could a family of sorcerers be capable of 'near compromise-breaking' abilities, and yet be otherwise unknown?

One of the Greater Mysteries, perhaps?

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@Ali the Helering They live where Genert's Garden used to be, We know that there are lots of things that have been forgotten about that place. These guys (or their parents) could for instance have sculpted the statues of the Plateau of Statues (I don't think they did), or have maintained Yamsur's light or Genert's Palace before the Chaos invasion. The people who would have known have mostly perished, or fled in a state of terror that made them forget their own identity, let alone that of a bunch of magicians at Orathorn.

They could have hidden behind a Thorn Rose-like fence that only Sheng (or some of his Zolathi) could penetrate, to explain their inactivity throughout much of history. Or they are mystics themselves, and failed to avoid entanglement when facing HonEel and the Lunars, releasing a huge load of power that they accumulated on their unknown path to Liberation. Or the Night of Horrors _was_ one of their trials on that path, and the Lunars and Pentans simply were sucked into that horrific experience without proper preparation.

The point is that they could be immensely capable magicians without having meddled with the world for all of history. The only magical entities that ever grew up in their neighborhood were the EWF (they sit right on one of the dragon wings for the dragon creation project), Sheng's empire, and then encroachment by the Lunar expansion. We have no tales whether they hid from the EWF or whether they joined (or otherwise participated in the weird mystical things that happened in the EWF). Their participation in the Night of Horrors may have been the tribute they had to pay to Sheng for their ongoing existence, never mind that Sheng was gone - an obligation that needed to be delivered to remain on the path of Liberation.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On 12/23/2015 at 6:25 AM, Ali the Helering said:

YGWV! My reading of the Nights of Horror indicates a possible clash of chaotic magics.

"The Emperor grew desperate and summoned his powers of Chaos to aid him. The Orathorn magi summoned their own Secret Powers and this combat with the Lunar Chaos suddenly loosed alien worlds upon the battlefield. All mortals turned and fled, fighting wherever they had to against the inhuman foes which dropped from the burning scarlet and yellow skies."  (The Redline History) 

Even the Emperor has to fight chaos creatures.....so, I wondered what indications we have of chaotic forces around on or near the steppes.

Three possibilities immediately presented themselves. 

Than Ulbar, with the skull of Atyar.

Pocharngo's fragments after his battle with Boztakang.

Tien's invasion army, defeated by Basko.

 

Personally, I think the latter has the most interesting possibilities.  Therefore in my 'A Land Fit For Heroes And Their Horses' blog, relating to Pent (obviously!) I conceived of them as an extended family who have contact with Tien through a sorcerous approach, backed up by a considerable library of 'acquired' grimoires in the Tower.  As they die, so they are used as a source of zombies, supplemented by unfortunates from Pent and Prax. 

 

I was reading somewhere about the chronomancers and how they can't change time only relive it, but they tried to change the Night of Horrors to save Hon-Eel.  They found themselves falling from the sky and taking part, but could change nothing.  In other words, their time travelling attempts may well have caused the Night of Horrors and it was them falling from the sky that day.

Could the magicians of Orathorn have drawn them into a Heroquest?  Perhaps the magi of Orathorn are living time in reverse and no one had ever heard of them before because they're not from before, they're from after?

 

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The Night of Horrors has become an event in God Time, as have all the major mythic events within Time.

HeroQuestors can travel to these events and participate in them. This happens on a regular basis for the Uz, who travel back to the Wounding of Korasting and participate in the mythic event, time and time again, but they don't affect the actual event as it has already happened

The Night of Horrors seems to be one of those events that has attracted HeroQuestors from within Time who affected the event as it happened. 

Maybe the Orathorn magicians have magic that allows that, to allow HeroQuestors accessing the mythic event to influence the actual event. You could read it as imposing the GodTime on Time, as GodTime HeroQuestors can affect the actual event, if they are powerful enough.

 

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

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  • 6 years later...

There can be little doubt that the Sorcerers of Orathorn have access to chaotic magic, as they are on record as having summoned headhangers during the Night of Horrors, and are served by the undead.  Given the proximity of Than Ulbar, it is reasonable to suppose that they may have received some magic from there.  It is also worth pointing out that Urrquong has repeatedly said that the Sorcerers are not considered enemies of Chaos, which raises a lot of questions.

The immortality of the Sorcerers of Orathorn raises more questions.  If they were vampires, surely they would be referred to as such.  If they were mere Thanatari, they would be called such, and the Stormbulls would have levelled their stronghold long ago. 

I instead propose that they are a small outpost of Vadeli.  As to why they are there, solitude would seem the obvious answer.  It is a fine place to set up a small self-sufficient settlement, well away from everyone and everything, with nice high walls to keep all but the most determined raiders out.  I am not going to pretend that I know what sort of Vadeli they are, but all Vadeli castes use sorcery, and none have any compunction about using chaos.  If you mainly wanted to do research, well away from the threats of the world, it is hard to imagine anywhere more remote than Orathorn.  Perhaps they are researching the Hellcrack?  Perhaps not.  Given that Gonn Orta is a dealer in magical items, one might suppose that the Sorcerers of Orathorn are at least semi-regular customers, given their mutual interest and proximity.

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On 1/3/2022 at 8:17 PM, Darius West said:

There can be little doubt that the Sorcerers of Orathorn have access to chaotic magic, as they are on record as having summoned headhangers during the Night of Horrors, and are served by the undead.  Given the proximity of Than Ulbar, it is reasonable to suppose that they may have received some magic from there.  It is also worth pointing out that Urrquong has repeatedly said that the Sorcerers are not considered enemies of Chaos, which raises a lot of questions.

The immortality of the Sorcerers of Orathorn raises more questions.  If they were vampires, surely they would be referred to as such.  If they were mere Thanatari, they would be called such, and the Stormbulls would have levelled their stronghold long ago. 

I instead propose that they are a small outpost of Vadeli.  As to why they are there, solitude would seem the obvious answer.  It is a fine place to set up a small self-sufficient settlement, well away from everyone and everything, with nice high walls to keep all but the most determined raiders out.  I am not going to pretend that I know what sort of Vadeli they are, but all Vadeli castes use sorcery, and none have any compunction about using chaos.  If you mainly wanted to do research, well away from the threats of the world, it is hard to imagine anywhere more remote than Orathorn.  Perhaps they are researching the Hellcrack?  Perhaps not.  Given that Gonn Orta is a dealer in magical items, one might suppose that the Sorcerers of Orathorn are at least semi-regular customers, given their mutual interest and proximity.

Given the "Night of Horrors" involved many worlds, couldn't the Sorcerers of Orathorn simply be one of the other world horrors which washed up in Gloranthan reality, and somehow never left?

This would explain the puzzling lack of connection between the sorcerers and anything else, and why the Emperor's chaos magic suddenly went so wrong - the sorcerers, perhaps fleeing the collapse of another reality, might have seen a weakness and pounced. A flood of other beings could have entered through the breach they created, but most were expelled when the breach was closed.

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While I think that both sides' magicians in the Night of Horrors would not shy away from sending Chaos against their enemies, my own interpretation of the event was that the spectacular over-use of magic on both sides caused reality to collapse and offer access to things not of this world. A similar thing occurred in the (final) battle between Yomili and Halwal in the Tanier Valley.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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