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Guide to Glorantha Group Read Week 4 - Aldryami


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Aldryami section comments here!

Main thread: https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/6519-guide-to-glorantha-group-read-week-4/

Errors: https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/6432-guide-to-glorantha-group-read-week-4-errors/

Here's the first version sketch for the Brown Elf Gardener illustration by Jeff Laubenstein from 2012.

596d183157d5d_BrownElfGardener-firstversion-small.thumb.JPG.9f44e807ad20c571ba4592a6718499c2.JPG

Edited by David Scott
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The whole chapter is a slightly enhanced and restructured version of the Aldryami chapter in the Elder Races Book from the RuneQuest III box Elder Secrets of Glorantha. Interesting detail: the boxed text Recollections of a Pamaltelan Trader is dated back from1623 S.T. to 1618 S.T.

The Pelorian parts, especially the boxed text about Pelorian Flowers, seem to be new as well as the boxed text The Hero Wars Begin. Both of these boxed texts give an impression, what the secret plans of the Aldryami are – lots of possible adventure “seeds” :-).

Both of the new elf pictures are fantastic – especially if compared with the Elder Races Book! But I have an issue with the big colored one: where is the Great Tree? The area, where the High Elf King stand, which definitely has the golden hue, which is mentioned in the description, but does not seem to be nearly 300 feet tall? Or the big tree in the background with clearly female attributes? I tend to the latter, but I’m not sure.

In the boxed text An Aldryami Shaman’s Grove a “wonderful contest” is mentioned. What kind of contest might that have been? I want to know more!

The Trolls got their Trollpak (even two times, third version in development!). Will we ever see an Elfpak?

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1 minute ago, Oracle said:

Both of the new elf pictures are fantastic – especially if compared with the Elder Races Book! But I have an issue with the big colored one: where is the Great Tree? The area, where the High Elf King stand, which definitely has the golden hue, which is mentioned in the description, but does not seem to be nearly 300 feet tall? Or the big tree in the background with clearly female attributes? I tend to the latter, but I’m not sure.

I assumed the second. It's not an overly impressive, tree, though.

Not sure why female Aldryami have boobs, tbh.

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37 minutes ago, Oracle said:

The Trolls got their Trollpak (even two times, third version in development!). Will we ever see an Elfpak?

A lot of Shannon Appelcline's work on the never-completed Elfpak made it -- at least in spirit -- into the Mongoose Second Age "Elfs" supplement, as related in Hearts in Glorantha 2. I suspect a treatment as groundbreaking as the original Trollpak could eventually bloom on those roots if someone is willing to develop the ideas to a similar level.

The boobs are undoubtedly a facet of certain precious but secret phases of the forest seed dispersal cycle, "white bulges" and all. You want the reproductive bodies to be attractive and given time will cultivate a reasonable approximation of what the meat wants.

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4 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Not sure why female Aldryami have boobs, tbh

My exact thought too.  It would have been much more interesting to make them more plant-like, more 'alien'.  Those just seem to be too much stock fantasy elf women and really weakened both pictures.  The Great Tree is ok, but doesn't really stand out in any memorable way.

What I did like in the art:

- the Gardeners - really fit in with the forest.  Not just your friendly ents.  Hollows where the eyes should be, odd limbs bent at unusual points. 

- green elf - the pine needle hair is a good touch.

- High King Elf - looks like an elf heroquester.

 

 

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P59 - Green Elves are related to Conifers, Brown Elves to Deciduous and Yellow Elves to.... Flowering Broadleafs?!?  I know Jungle plants are meant but the species classification implies that some species which I typically associate with browns are actually yellow.

P61 - mysterious mention is made of the Ixtilian fields.

P61 - once again the obscure mention of the Elvish assassination of Dwarves in Dorastor appears.  It's been mentioned as far back as Different Worlds but maddenly no mention of the reason for the elvish treachery is made.

P61 - "In Pamaltela, Fonrit, an old enemy, has gained prominence".  The chief problem I have with this passage is that we are told nothing about Fonrit's prior history with the elves in this section.  

p61 - I liked the God Learner rationalization for the colour scheme

P61/62 - The Elves mix together despite whether they are green, brown or yellow.  Which makes it more curious how the ethnic disputes arise.  I presume it's among the dryads.

p63 - Slorifings.  Despite mention of Slor as far back as Gods of Glorantha and his worship among the Dwerulans p521, no mention of Slor is made in the description of the Red Elves.  Instead the Reds worship the Olarians, the daughters of Uleria and Aldrya.  

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This chapter was interesting read and clarified some things I have been pondering. First of all, not every forest contain elves. Or maybe a single dryad but you can "safely" enter forests and probably your parents have warned you about going to specific forests as there are elves.

The trading section was interesting. I have been toying with the idea of a trading game that would follow the Dragon Pass events from a trader's point of view. One more place for trading highly rare items from elves. But what would an elf want in trade? Don't they get everything they need from the forest.

I have too been bugged by the human-looking elves. Maybe the explanation about fooling humans is good enough, but I would still keep them more in the "tree-creatures" caste.

I also liked the Hero Wars box. The elves are the "greens" of Glorantha and they want to grow forests and trees back (?) to everywhere.

If there would be an elf-friendly human (or probably there is). What gods would that individual probably worship?

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Here we are discussing the concept of walking and sapient plants, and what do we discuss? Boobs.

Nymphs might be the reason why female, human-looking aldryami have boobs. The idea of the ultimate mother entity able to birth anything, and if needed nurture it through infant helplessness, is hard-wired into the concept of a nymph. Hence the organ that allows the nymph to transfer a nourishing 

Nymphs come attached to various themes - places of elemental presence or geographical features, or trees. The latter are the dryads, and they make up the majority of aldryami females. The green elves are the oddest here - they are said not to reproduce with dryads. Strange, that - anything with a (male only?) sexuality can reproduce with a dryad, theoretically even mostali and uz.

The are are bound to be dryads of coniferous trees. If so, how and why do they avoid reproduction with the green elves? Would that weaken their winter activity?

Or does such reproduction necessarily produce brown elves? The origin of the brown elves and their new trees still remains a mystery to me.

 

Ok, more of that below:

 

Elves: This term is utterly misleading for Tolkien- and D&D-reared readers of Fantasy.

 

Gloranthan aldryami resemble Tolkien’s ents, although at much smaller size, or the norse wood-wifes. If a player wants to play a Tolkien-elf-like character, a human-like figure with the tragic wisdom of bygone ages, it is somewhat hard to offer a good choice. Immortal or slowly aging Brithini are too strange, but as a whole, the Brithini are somewhat similar to the immortal elf culture of the distant west. The green-skinned Deri might be an option, or Altinae. Aldryami-human interface elves probably aren’t that appropriate, either, even if your standard fantasy cliché elf is a woodland defender. Yelmalian rootless elves are possible. But then, take this alien set of myths and life-style, and toss out much of it with the bathwater...

Giving such a player a human(oid) demigod with strings attached might be a better choice to have the player experience a bit of the character concept he or she insists on. Or convince them to play an uzuz instead.

 

Mythos and History:

Quote

Flamal’s spouse is called Grower, and their child together was called Aldrya.

Elsewhere, we get Aldrya as daaughter of Ernalda.

Grower is the deity of pathenogenic birthing, even if her offspring may use sexual procreation.

Is this an aspect subsumed in Great Ernalda, similar to how Larnste the Mover appears as an aspect of Great Orlanth?

 

Quote

First came the Slorifings

I recall a text which had the Red Elves appear when Growing and Taking were achieving a balance. Was this a Shannon Appelcline text?

 

Also: Mreli before Embyli?

The mythical maps tell a very different story.

Mreli appear with the entry of Death, and remain active until some point in the Darkness when Ernalda went to sleep, right?

 

History:

Ixtilian Fields: from the context, this must be in Theyalan lands, but this doesn’t exclude the Nidan Decamony as perpretators as the Theyalan Awakeners spread into Peloria and Ralios. However, Winterwood can be assumed to have done its own Awakening of adjacent forests (Erigia, Ballid, Erontree). Gemborg dwarves could have been in conflict with Tastolar allies, Isidilian or Greatway both are neighbors to Tallseed.

Internecine conflict destroyed Tallseed (now Stinking Forest): a civil war between green and brown, or conflict with an adjacent forest (with Rist, Elder Wilds, Redwood and Tastolar all being quite distant)?

Parts of Jolar – Dolorofey and Taluk Mormadak?

 

Elves reproduce by internal fertilization

Dryads being one type of nymphs, this makes sense.

Female Vronkali claim a monopoly on their reproduction. What then is the role of the dryads of their forests?

 

Having lived north of the arctic circle, what is the role of birch elves in Fronela? Despite being deciduous and dwarfed, they are the foremost front against the arctic cold, supported by likewise stunted pines. On Svalbard, miniature birches survive as undergrowth for grasses and mosses...

While on this arctic topic, what about lichen? Aldrya or Mee Vorala, or a strange pact between the two? Or rather Murthdrya and Mee Vorala?

 

I’d love to see an aldryami birth/hatching scene as an illustration. Possibly with a green elf couple, a brown elf female and male, and a brown elf male assisting a dryad.

What is the gender ratio of brown elves? Do brown elf males lead a dual marriage to one of their females and as part of the male harem of their local dryad?

 

“When a green elf male mates with a dryad, no children result. “

What is the mythic reason for this? Was it like this always, or is this result of High King Elf accepting Death in the shape of an axe – the one he used to shatter the (dwarven) Spike?

 

Dryads are nymphs, and as such ought to be able to produce offspring from matings with any kind of man rune creature, or any kind of plant. They ought to be able to birth parthenogenic offspring, too, which is how new dryads would come to life.

Speaking of which, does the Reforestation project have a scheme to multiply dryads as well? Will they send new dryads, or will they transplant older, more experienced ones, to be replaced by a parthenogenic daughter?

 

Birthplace of Aldrya, and the Spike

Flamal’s birthplace/abode is said to be Hrelar Amali, and that’s where Zorak Zoran’s axe felled him in the Gods War. Apart from the yellow elves, whose surviving forests all are extensions of the foothills of the Cosmic Mountain, no Spike aldryami survived, but we get about two dozens of green and brown elf forests, with Enkloso, Vralos and Jolar and the Fensi mountain slopes being their Pamaltelan presence, and the Genertelan presences centered on Hrelar Amali and Genert’s Garden, plus two named forests in Brithos.

Orlanthi myths tell about flooded lands returned to Aldrya, so a patchwork of other lost Great Trees could be assumed for Somelz (the square territory denuded of all vegetation by the Mostali) and other drowned parts of Danmalastan and southern Genertela.

 

Hrestol’s Saga takes place in the completely awakened (magical part of the) forests of Seshnela (he interacts with a princess of the forests – likely a dryad, although highly mobile), which seems to indicate some Gray Age awakening there, too, while Tastolar was awakened comparatively late in the first half of the first century IIRC. While details of Hrestol’s quest probably haven’t the potential to make it into canonical history and myth, a quest through a non-awakened forest would add a much different tone to his quest to slay a daughter of the earth or land goddess, which is grim enough already.

There is a possibility that the Seshnelan forests can thank efforts of both Pendali priesthood and Malkioni sorcerers to re-awaken the land.

 

Population numbers: none are given for the East Isles like e.g. green elves of Maromonkroto. I suppose that their and the yellow elf population is subsumed under the 100k others for the East Isles.

What of Vithalash?

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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The Great Tree is indeed the one in the back. It's a bit of a composition challenge to fit a 300 ft. tree in the frame with several other characters, so that it looks like it's overseeing the heroquest.

Re:booby elves - this bit is from the art description, talking about a refence I got, not my illustration:

Quote

This female aldryami is kin to the pine trees of her upland forest. She is about 5' 6" tall and slender. She looks almost perfectly human - almost too perfect. Her breasts are
gravity defying, her facial expressions are fixed and unchanging, like a Barbie Doll made out of wood and then sanded - complete with the wrong proportions of a Barbie doll.

It definitely sounds like it's meant to be sinister, creepy and deceiving towards humans, not purely frinedly or tittilating.

For the dryad I was given reference of this Persian nymph, though her other attributes admittedly overtook this in the final artwork: 

http://rlv.zcache.com/persian_miniature_dancing_nymph_card-p137411603826032126b26lp_400.jpg

 

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Re: booby elves

You should never have to justify this, even if it is for a venus fly-trap

heh heh

Edited by Mankcam

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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I think the objections are not necessarily that it's wrong to show boobs, rather that it makes the elves too human. (while the Aldryami are established as very un-human)

To me it seems like there's good history of Aldryami being very dangerous to humans in this aspect, like that scene in KoDP where the men of our clan sneak into the woods to have fun with a dryad, only to sprout vines and die several days later.

It's like an alien organism adapting to fit into an environment inhabited by humans, while not actually trying to have pleasurable mating encounters with these creatures. It's a lure, or a mask.

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8 minutes ago, JanPospisil said:

Re:booby elves - this bit is from the art description, talking about a refence I got, not my illustration:

Quote

This female aldryami is kin to the pine trees of her upland forest. She is about 5' 6" tall and slender. She looks almost perfectly human - almost too perfect. Her breasts are
gravity defying, her facial expressions are fixed and unchanging, like a Barbie Doll made out of wood and then sanded - complete with the wrong proportions of a Barbie doll.

It definitely sounds like it's meant to be sinister, creepy and deceiving towards humans, not purely frinedly or tittilating.

FWIW I think such elves should be have a wooden personality.

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39 minutes ago, JanPospisil said:

I think the objections are not necessarily that it's wrong to show boobs, rather that it makes the elves too human. (while the Aldryami are established as very un-human). To me it seems like there's good history of Aldryami being very dangerous to humans in this aspect, like that scene in KoDP where the men of our clan sneak into the woods to have fun with a dryad, only to sprout vines and die several days later.

It's like an alien organism adapting to fit into an environment inhabited by humans, while not actually trying to have pleasurable mating encounters with these creatures. It's a lure, or a mask.

Yeah it's very 'alien' as opposed to 'Elven'; it really gives the Aldryami their own identity. I just love the whole 'plant entities' thing happening here with the Aldryami. There's a vague 'Wiccan Green Man-meets-Alien Triffid' vibe underscoring all of this. It's much more Ridley Scott than JRR Tolkien.

In fact there is absolutely no analogy between high fantasy Elves and The Adryami of Glorantha. I had issues with this back in the late 1980s, but now its one of the great things I like about Glorantha. The other cultures do well to be wary regarding all of the Elder Races agendas; none particularly have human prosperity high in their priorities.

You managed to capture all that rather well

Edited by Mankcam
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" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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3 minutes ago, Mankcam said:

The other cultures should be wary of the Elder Races agendas; none particularly have human prosperity high in their priorities.

One of the awesome things here is that Trolls are far and away the most relatable of the "Big 4" land-dwelling Elder Races. They're people in a way that Elves, Dwarves and Dragonewts aren't. Usually enemies, to be certain, but that's because to a large extent, they want the same kinds of things we do.

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5 hours ago, Joerg said:

Here we are discussing the concept of walking and sapient plants, and what do we discuss? Boobs.

It's working. Resist their lures and snares. Stay focused.

But this is an aspect of the archaic religion Glorantha participates in. I've started grinding my way back through the unabridged Golden Bough for another project and before the first introductory chapter winds down we get lines like (paraphrasing a little at the end) "the custom of physically marrying men and women to trees is still practiced in India and other parts of the East. Why should it not have obtained in ancient Kanthor?"

Why not indeed?

5 hours ago, Joerg said:

Aldryami-human interface elves probably aren’t that appropriate, either, even if your standard fantasy cliché elf is a woodland defender.

I just keep in mind the notion that maybe 1/100000 of the vegetable intelligences -- the interface elves -- will ever encounter meat people under normal conditions. These are generally the ones who through some combination of training, aptitude, dysfunction and assigned burden have some sense of how we think and how to motivate us. As meat people myself I like these because they're easier for me personally to deal with.

The vast majority of vegetable intelligences rarely interact with us except at moments of ecological disaster. Most encounters are accidental -- vine-seeking shamans, lost children, estranged lovers, senile kings and other freaks of the human condition -- and rarely go well. These encounters can be as alien as people enjoy. Everybody gets what they want.

[lost forests will come back as we get into the history maps, "scrub" or dwarf elves will also come up later, reproduction is an enigma that may have changed Since Time via contact with various human cultures as you note regarding the Pendalites and centuries of sorcerous investigation]

5 hours ago, Joerg said:

I recall a text which had the Red Elves appear when Growing and Taking were achieving a balance. Was this a Shannon Appelcline text?

Probably. It may not have been his creation but he ran with it.

 

Edited by scott-martin
an order of magnitude
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I find it best not to even refer to them as 'Elves' at all, just call them The Aldyrami. Same goes for the 'Dwarfs', and the 'Trolls'; I only refer to them as The Mostali and The Uz.

In my experience it just seems to work much better for me if the high fantasy references are non-existent.

Edited by Mankcam
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" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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When I tried visualising the nightclub dryad for Rowdy Djo Lo's, she came out with a similar appearance. Like Star Trek, you can only make a few small changes to primate morphology before the alien becomes difficult to act a scene with. It works OK in the horror milieu but if I'm looking for allies or guides I'd prefer a Durulz, Enlo or Vonkali or even a Mostali to a Dragonnewt or a Goldwheel dancer. Some Aldryami are more obviously weirder and scarier than others, but without some of them more aligned to the Man-rune norms they would have had a harder time keeping in with the Second Council. That said, under the surface even the more relatable Aldryami can be pretty weird with their communal ethos and long-view perspective.

Their iris-less eyes possibly relate to their affinity for sunlight, there's no such thing as blinding light as far as they are concerned? Having coloured eyes presumably means that they see less of that colour (since more of it 'escapes'), but lots of animals see different colours from mammals indigo and yellow anyway, so they may see some colours outside the human visual spectrum. Many flowers have ultraviolet patterns, it might make sense for Aldryami to be able to inspect these.

I hadn't realised how many Aldryami there are in Ralios, (nearly twice the number in Fronela: 310k in Ballid, 390kTarinwood and 10k in Wonderwood). 

I worry a bit that the strong connection to woodland makes them a bit one-dimensional (are there elf-friend plots that don't involve protecting ceremonies from enemy races or the coming reforestation plan?) Tree-associated Aldryami are the strongest, but there are flower sprites and bush runners too that people ought to overlap withy more even if they don't have the intelligence of a Mreli, Vronkali or Dryad. Do the elves come around and ask your clan ring to hold off cutting the water meadows for a few weeks this year because the orchid sprites got a slow start in a cold spring? Do Voria initiates get to hang out withe the sprites in the long summer evenings?

Red elves may have had the Malkioni colour of fire (or moon) but I'd hardly associate ferns and mosses as natives of hot fiery places in Pamaltella (hot steamy places certainly or cold boggy ones but not the fiery desert. Perhaps those white sun elves were/are cactus lovers, all those spines are a bit like rays of light... or maybe we need some orange elves to root for cacti and suculents.  

 

TasslesSingsTheGreens.png

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