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Guide to Glorantha Group Read Week 11 - Shadow Plateau

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I'm a bit astonished about the state of the vegetation on the plateau (there being significant amounts of it):


Many plants dot the top of the plateau, making a fair cover for the windy and rainswept hilltops.


Atop the plateau are many trees and brush, and like all the Holy Country’s coastlands, it is quite seasonal. Trolls devour much of the growth, and sometimes they have plagues of wild trollkin who will denude a patch of ground to the rock without any regard for its regrowth.

On the other hand, we get black sandstorms, very limited light.

Older descriptions blame all the black sand on the collapse of the Obsidian Palace. And, while volcanic soil can be extremely fertile, ground obsidian is not. Apart from the black color, it is glass.

And anyway, the creation of this plateau (when Argan Argar sliced off the top of Veskarthan's phallic mountain with his spear, then bound the volcano god to erect the sky-high palace instead) doesn't let me expect better soil than on the Hungry Plateau, which has a very similar history/myth. A lot more rainfall might make a difference, but at that height much will rain off on its flanks while the clouds climb that high. On the other hand, those clouds that are a kilometer high will shroud the plateau in a grey and wet mist, providing ample humidity.

This nutrient-poor but humid environment will encourage the growth of mosses and insect-eating plants. Lichen and tree-moss ought to abound.

Esrola's Throne might be the game-changer. The occasional presence of the Goddess might be able to counteract the nutrient deficience of the soil.

Even with the spear-like tower of the Obsidian Castle gone, the Shadow Plateau still offers more roofed space than all the cities of Kethaela together. The basements of Ezkankekko's palace may have suffered minor damage when the serpent collapsed against the structure, but the act of fragmenting into countless little shards spared the basement from a hard impact.

The origin of the tar remains slightly mysterious. It may of course be the organic remains of all the inhabitants of the palace, boiled and charred when the collapsing tower spent its energy as heat and pressure.

The Tar Pit is ground zero for the Kitori. While they might have sent their dependents into the safety of the basements of the Plateau, their warrior elite would have guarded the Palace and their ruler, probably indistinguishable from any troll followers the Only Old One may have fielded. The Night Dragon Society manifested the Black Serpent which wrestled Belintar. As far as I recall, the beast had curled around the tower in order to strike at the invader from above, but that strike may have been deflected, sending it crashing into the palace, breaking its spine. The dying body then crushed the portion of the tower it had curled around, and the falling bits from above added to the damage.

For all we know, Ezkankekko may have ridden that serpent, sitting behind its head.


Ezkankekko's fleet of Black Galleys probably still lies ready in an underground Carthage, with gates opening the flank of the Plateau into the Mirrorsea Bay. Alternatively, there might be water-filled tunnels that allow that fleet to emerge from the ruins of Lylket, which must have been a port city when the Middle Sea Empire established it.


There are no population figures for the Bottomland Marsh and its newtlings (or sea trolls, or durulz). Thousands of adults will mean millions of tadpoles hatching, and thousands of bachelors either at the beginning or the end of that stage, found there, too, so the numbers might vary too much for inclusion in the political map.

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41 minutes ago, Steve said:

Do plants in Glorantha require nutrients in the earthly sense though? After all, fire doesn't require the same sort of fuel there as it does on earth. Isn't magic and myth more important?


Myth and magic provide the nutrients, or use them up/poison them/wash them out, or inactivate them.

The soil in Prax may still have nutrients, but these cannot be mobilized by the plants, unless a goddess releases them again.

The river floods bring fertility in the river valleys, just like in our own Nile or Jangtse valleys. Elsewhere, erosion (whether by wind or by rainfloods) can carry the fertile soil away.

Beast manure still will further plant growth, as will compost or ash (in moderation). Life or life given will beget life.

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