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Iskallor

Unicorns. What do we know about them and the Praxians who ride them?

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As the title says...

My band of adventurers have just come across a seriously ill Unicorn rider and her mount, and to be honest I know little about either.

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RuneQuest Companion had an article about them.  They originated on the Spike.  They are found in Peloria, Fronela and Ralios.  The Unicorn Riders do not eat their steeds.  They are believed to be immortal.  They are solitary and essentially ignore each other apart from their sons.  They have no native language and are often incapable of speech.  Forest unicorns sometimes speak Aldryami.  They repoduce with female mares and does (no idea whether this applies to all creatures on the wastes such as a Bison or a Rhino).  Unicorns can become Shamans.

In the Guide, Hwarin Dalthippa rides on one.  There's a tribe of unicorn riders worshipping Yelorna near the Sun Dome Temple in Ralios.  There's a unicorn king in Huntswood near the Fronelan Forest of Erontree.  Ralzakark is the Unicorn Emperor.

 

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Have looked in the Sun Dome thread for the info I posted on the Praxian version of the cult? Here's the text the text I posted. 

As Sun Daughter is Yelmalio, Yelorna is known as Ourania to the Praxian Sky Gazers Society. Likewise the Praxian Yelorna was a splinter of the Sky Gazers Society formed in the First Age when Yelornan Amazons visited Prax with the First Council. There are effectively two forms of the Yelorna cult; a theistic version that's found at their temple in the Rubble, and a Praxian version found out in the Wastes, which is primarily spirit based (with a shaman path), but with a theistic component. There is an awkward relationship between the two groups. If you look at the Big Rubble cult, you'll see that the temple organisation has a High Priestess with 3 subordinate Star Priestesses: 

  • A Temple chief of staff, who commands the four Shield Maidens, who protect the High Priestess.
  • The Commander of the Unicorn Riders, also temple logistics.
  • Wanderer Commander. Commands adventurers and wanderers among the cult, and is responsible for other external affairs.

You'll notice that there is no Wanderer Commander. This post is actually filled by a Star Shaman living with the Unicorn Tribe out in the Wastes. To be a Star Shaman, you have to have a Unicorn and the Praxian Yelornans know Yelorna's Unicorn Path back to the Green Age (just as the Rubble Yelornans do) and HeroQuest to obtain Unicorns - so there's no real argument as to whether she's a Yelornan.

Edited by David Scott
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2 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Have looked in the Sun Dome thread for the info I posted on the Praxian version of the cult?

Ah, you know which page?

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How large is the tribe, and are they split in to clans? Are males slaves or free men or both?

 

How many unicorns would there be in a clan or the tribe?


So they'd have horses in their herd for mating? If they mate with other herd beasts do they retain the look of both parents?

Edited by Iskallor

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I'm away from my notes, so more later. Yeloran unicorns are the result of a HeroQuest to the Green Age to bring one back. The destroyed fertility of the Wastes prevents them from breeding unlike elsewhere in Glorantha. Wild unicorns do appear rarely though naturally in the Wastes, but in a manner similar to the hidden greens. They kind of fade in with the ghostly green age landscape. 

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Old style RQ2 Cults of Prax said their religious make up was 7% Eiritha (Small cf Impala Bison and HighLlama), 3% Waha, 2% DakaFal,  2% StormBull, 2%Humakt, 20% SevenMothers, 40% Yelmalio, 2%Issaries, 8% Chalana Arroy, 4% Orlanth, 10% others.

Favoured weapons are Composite Bow, Sword/axe, mounted lance.

In Nomad Gods they hire out as mercenaries and have 1 counter (3 combat, 5 magic, 6 movement). They have received their amazing abilities from the Sun Daughter. Although without armour their telepathic link with their agile mounts gives them protection equivalent to armour. The mounts are not afraid to charge their foes with their long horns whilst their riders attack with arrow sword or lance. On an impale they can automatically withdraw the horn due to its tapered shape

Most of the Unicorn Riders in the Big Rubble are at the Yelorna Temple in the Zebra Ruins. They help patrol the area along with the Pavis 'Royal Guard' One of them is an elf maiden. Unicorns are immortal and naturally nocturnal, the bond with their rider is more strongly felt by the mortal than the immortal part of the pairing, though unicorns will seek revenge on the killer of their rider if they know who that is. They are naturally solitary forest dwelling animals. In Prax they are a little greyer and shakier than in their natural habitat. they are not herd animals and do not act in unison, but make individual decisions as to what is best. Unicorns can learn spells and their horns and fresh dung have healing powers and can counter poisons, the unicorns privately laugh at humans who take their dung as a cure. it smells of violets but tastes terrible...

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5 hours ago, David Scott said:

I'm away from my notes, so more later. Yeloran unicorns are the result of a HeroQuest to the Green Age to bring one back. The destroyed fertility of the Wastes prevents them from breeding unlike elsewhere in Glorantha. Wild unicorns do appear rarely though naturally in the Wastes, but in a manner similar to the hidden greens. They kind of fade in with the ghostly green age landscape. 

There is a simple remedy to being restricted by the destroyed fertility of the Wastes - go to places where it isn't. Hidden Greens or the Sacred Ground probably will do, as will Golden Age hero planes, otherwise Dragon Pass or the Elder Wilds would do fine.

 

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I don't know if these were the Praxian Yelmalio figures that David mentions? from page 1 of the Yelmalio temples thread

There are about 14700 Yelmalio worshippers amongst the Praxian tribes. The population of Sun County is only 20,000, given that half are children, the remainder is half men. That gives a maximum of 5000 Yelmalio initiates. The nomads outnumber them about 2:1. The structure of Yelmalio is different amongst the tribes - they have only Light Khans, no priests. So the Yemalio temples are their major worship temples. Yes they are welcome, and yes there are ancient pacts in place that prevent them overrunning the land. Look when the Praxian lords of Sun County ended for when these pacts came into place.

Numbers for the interested:

7800 - Impala tribe

163 - High Llama tribe

5625 - Sable tribe

400 - Bison tribe

(No Morokanth other than PCs:-)

225 - Agimori tribe

90 - Rhino tribe

90 - Ostrich tribe

40 - Unicorn tribe

(No Baboons other than Melo Yellow and PCs)

158 - Bolo Lizard tribe

34 - Zebra tribe

42 - Pol-Joni tribe

(No Basmoli or Newtlings other than PCs:-)

Later it mentions 300 Yelorna worshipers who presumably are mostly in the unicorn tribe.

If you assume that Cults of Prax's 40% Yelmalio includes Yelorna as well as Yelmalio then there might be around 1000 human members. However because of the unusual requirements, not all of the tribe necessarily ride a unicorn, some may ride the beast of the tribe that they previously belonged to.

In the Prax and the 1000 questions about the place thread the total head counts were 

Sables 75000 (140 clans) (18 warrior counters in Nomad Gods)

Bison 75000 (150 clans) (18 war counters)

High Llama 60000? (120 clans) (14 war counters)

Impala 115000 (230 clans) ( 28 war counters)

Morocanth 75000 (150 clans) (19 war counters)

Bolo lizard 2100 (4? clans) (1 war counter)

Ostrich 1200 (2? clans) (1 war counter)

Rhino ? ? (1war counter)

Zebra ? ? (1 war counter)

Long nose ? ? (1 war counter)

Unicorn ? ? (1 war counter)

 

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Firstly the 1000 population of the Unicorn tribe doesn't have the normal Male/Female/Children split% of 25/25/50, it's 10/40/50. 25% of them are Empty compared to the normal 1% of the main tribes, for reference Zebras are 75%, Pol-Joni are 50%. We're dealing with quite small numbers, 1000 is roughly two clans. The figures are based on the Cults of Prax percentages but updated to reflect what we now know about the Praxians in the Wastes.

The men are easy to deal with - there's 100 of them . Cult wise there are 6 Waha initiates, 4 Storm Bulls, 2 Foundchild Hunters, 30 Daka Fal, The "elemental" societies have about 20 members, 4 Orlanth, 4 Chalana Arroy, 2 Humakti and 20 Seven Mothers.

The Women are 75% Yelorna, so 300 of them. The rest are 14 Eiritha, 30 Helpwoman, 30 Daka Fal, about 40 "elemental" societies, 16 Vingans, 16 Chalana Arroy, 8 Humakti, 80 Seven Mothers, and 1 Aldrya.

If you are wondering about so many Seven Mother's - that's straight from Cults of Prax Appendix C. The 40 Yelmalions in the above list is a mistake - that's the % from Cults of Prax. I dropped Yelmalions from the tribe as it made no sense given their current make up.

So 300 Yelornans. I'd say 90% have travelled the Unicorn Path to the Green Age and returned, so that's 270 Unicorns. The remainder have yet to do so, failed or their Unicorn has died. The others ride white horses so they look cool.

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11 hours ago, Joerg said:

There is a simple remedy to being restricted by the destroyed fertility of the Wastes - go to places where it isn't. Hidden Greens or the Sacred Ground probably will do, as will Golden Age hero planes, otherwise Dragon Pass or the Elder Wilds would do fine.

They don't do that as they are tied to Genert's Garden in the Green Age.

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"Magic" people. We use a 1% magic people rule. A magic person is a priest, devotee, shaman, someone who specialises. Looking at the overall numbers of men and Women, 500, so there's 5 in the tribe. I'd suggest 3 priestesses/star shaman of Yelorna, a shaman who heads Daka Fal, Helpwoman and the elemental societies and a Seven Mothers Priestess (who could of course be a Jakaleel Shaman...)

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Totally irrelevant to Glorantha, but having read Charles Stross' Equoid and his most recent novel The Nightmare Stacks I can no longer think of unicorns (or Elves, the Tolkien version, not Gloranthan) in the same way.

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In Big Rubble the Yelornans are presented as having serious religious differences with the Red Moon, so the Seven Mothers followers in the tribe may be a significant splinter group rather than being fully integrated into the clans, or maybe one clan is more hard core than the other.

Some of the men in the clan may have been acquired during raids but some may be more permanent members perhaps tending to be the Daka Fal followers. Might I suggest some of the men in the elementals be Pole Star cultists since Yelorna is recorded as having called Pole Star down to be the first Star Captain during the darkness ((removes bee from bonnet)).

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11 minutes ago, Byll said:

In Big Rubble the Yelornans are presented as having serious religious differences with the Red Moon, so the Seven Mothers followers in the tribe may be a significant splinter group rather than being fully integrated into the clans, or maybe one clan is more hard core than the other.

The Rubble Yelornans aren't members of the Praxian Tribe. The two groups are effectively separate. The Seven Mothers members are fully integrated into the tribe just as with the other tribes. The Moon rune is common amongst Praxians, and predates the rise of the Red Moon.

Quote

Some of the men in the clan may have been acquired during raids but some may be more permanent members perhaps tending to be the Daka Fal followers. Might I suggest some of the men in the elementals be Pole Star cultists since Yelorna is recorded as having called Pole Star down to be the first Star Captain during the darkness ((removes bee from bonnet)).

The numbers I use never include slaves. Polestar is part of the Sky Gazers society (one of the elemental societies) which works with Sky spirits. 150 men and women are members of this society. 

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Hypothetically would would happen if a man landed on the back of a unicorn, owned by a unicorn woman. Would he be hunted down mercilessly by the tribe....Killed by the unicorn?

 

 

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1 hour ago, Iskallor said:

Hypothetically would would happen if a man landed on the back of a unicorn, owned by a unicorn woman. Would he be hunted down mercilessly by the tribe....Killed by the unicorn?

 

 

The unicorn would try its best to throw him off and would never be tamed - Imagine a bucking bronco with a horn and you get the picture.

What the Unicorn Tribe would do depends on how it happened. If accidentally, they would probably let him go. If he tried to steal the unicorn they would try to track him down and kill him - Yelornans are very good at tracking due to their Yelornan magic.

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What if he only wanted to take it for a joyride and he fully intended to return it afterwards? honest guv.

Its my Raven in Iskallor's game, he'd foolishly excepted a drink from another Raven, whom he'd just met, which turned him invisible and it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

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1 hour ago, D said:

What if he only wanted to take it for a joyride and he fully intended to return it afterwards? honest guv.

Its my Raven in Iskallor's game, he'd foolishly excepted a drink from another Raven, whom he'd just met, which turned him invisible and it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

He could do something trickstery like claim he was drunk and mistook it for his riding hare, take a beating and then whinge about it for weeks afterwards...

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4 hours ago, Iskallor said:

Hypothetically would would happen if a man landed on the back of a unicorn, owned by a unicorn woman. Would he be hunted down mercilessly by the tribe....Killed by the unicorn?

First, Praxian men would know that it's taboo to deliberately do such a thing. Unicorns are from the Green Age and things from there are always treated with reverence. 

That being said its a cultural not personal taboo. The known effects are stuff like bad luck, impotence, etc. However there are always individuals who buck trends and bring misfortune down on themselves.

Secondly, the unicorn is sentient. It's its magic that is being interfered with by the man. It would judge if it was deliberate or not and take appropriate action. It's not owned by the women of the unicorn tribe, it's there as part of a symbiotic relationship. At worse, the unicorn could disappear back to the Green Age, leaving a vengeful rider behind. Or the unicorn could curse the rider with impotence, etc and say to his rider - he's not worth it darling. And everything in-between.

As for being hunted down, maybe. But being known for doing bad stuff with a unicorn is likely worse. What would the healers say? Killing the man - maybe, the other options are more fun.

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59 minutes ago, David Scott said:

As for being hunted down, maybe. But being known for doing bad stuff with a unicorn is likely worse. What would the healers say? Killing the man - maybe, the other options are more fun.

A 'geas' on his own mount perhaps? Such as it becomes super possessive and interposes itself between him and any women he encounters... (and a beating, at least if the rider is a Yelorna worshiper)

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9 hours ago, Byll said:

A 'geas' on his own mount perhaps? Such as it becomes super possessive and interposes itself between him and any women he encounters... (and a beating, at least if the rider is a Yelorna worshiper)

Great, that's the kind of thing I was thinking of. The super possessive mount is MGF. It's worth noting that we use geas, taboo and stricture (what the Lunars have) interchangeably. For spirit based societies we're using taboo. 

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14 hours ago, soltakss said:

Yelornans are very good at tracking due to their Yelornan magic.

Thanks for the reminder Simon, I'd forgotten about Silver Track.

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