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Guide to Glorantha Group Read Week 16 - Safelster

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p.373 (box)
Utriam? Bertalor mentions Urtiam. A candidate for the errata?
Lord of the Spike, elsewhere identified with Acos, but I wonder whether we get a parallel to Jernotius here as well.
Zrenthus has gained an “n” compared to the Bertalor text in Elder Secrets.
Lodik rather than Lodril, god of fire, as the father of Ehilm, and independent from (blue?) Zrenthus. Quite a population up there in the sky. I wonder how the Theyalans and later the God Learners identified these with Aether and his three sons.
Zolan – presumably the god of the Red Planet, another version of Tolat. And possibly kin of Zorak Zoran, or aspects of one another. In “The Broken Council”, Varzor Kitor worshipped Zolan Zubar.
If Humat was proven to be another name of Orlanth, did Gethor identified with Humakt/Humct? Gethor was known and feared in Dawn Age Seshnela (according to Hrestol’s Saga), so where does Prospopaedia’s Humct come from?

Two species of lion are among the Apex predators of Safelster. At least one would be the Pendali/Basmoli lion that dominated Seshnela in the Dawn Age. What about the second species? Looking at the places of survival of the exiled lion people, I would assume that the Seshnegi variant sticks mainly to the south – Pralorela (and Basim over in Maniria), the fringes of Tarinwood, and Tanisor. The other species might be a northern group.
We don’t get Basmoli Hsunchen in Ralios (any more), although there are likely a couple of Safelstran houses with Pendali ancestry.

More plesiosaurs, this time a few freshwater-dwelling species. Fish must be plentiful indeed.

With the marriage forms of Belemor and Ulemor, I wonder whether polygamy or polyandry is possible in Safelstran society.
Scattered, but enormous oak trees – this makes me think of the Estremadura in Spain, the result of over-harvesting the forests for the navy. Given the naval efforts of the city states, this may have been similar.

Rice as an important crop: This comes a bit as a surprise. Is this an ancient Enerali crop, or was this introduced by the Bright Empire from Peloria? (In that case, the rice deities would be recognizably Pelorian, probably including Lodril and his Ten Sons and Servants.) I have always thought of Ralios as mostly hilly, and the presence of numerous islands in Lake Felster suggests that there will be quite a bit of exposed bedrock forming cliffs or pronounced slopes even in the lowlands of Lake Felster. Are there terraced rice paddies? The Pelorian rice-growing lands are a lot flatter.
The Sodal Marsh might be a center for rice farming. I wonder that the text about the marsh assigns it to Dangim (which has quite a short border with the marsh) rather than with Uton or Rindland.

A special legal status for children born from unknown fathers in orgiastic religious rites – sounds like Safelster is a fun place. Slavery or at least serfdom is common, though
How tightly are the social classes of Ralios separated? We know about slaves, but not how one becomes a slave, or how one stops being one. In what way are the slaves free to follow a religion, or are they under obligation to follow only the cults their owners allow?
Supposedly there is a layer of free commoners, too, at least in the cities, but likely also in rural areas, and then there is nobility. Priesthood may or may not have a special caste or class assigned.
Safelster saw about 200 years of God Learner overlordship, which may have increased Malkioni features of their society from whatever mmix of Theyalan and original Enerali culture they had under the Autarchy. I expect Safelster’s religious practices under the Autarchy to resemble that of the Serpent Kings, described in the Seshnela chapter of Vol.2, but I wonder how much the caste system was present. (Similar questions go for ancient Tanisor before it re-defined itself as a Seshnela-in-exile after 1190 )

Conquest by Seshnela – Ulianus conquered all the lands west of Lake Felster (and presumably south of Otkorion), so Azilos, Tinaros and Dangan may have remained free from direct Rokari overlordship. (Tiskos may have been an ally of Seshnela.) Most of Safelster remained free of Rokari pollution of their philosophy, and of monotheism.

Population numbers:

No big surprises, although the dragonewts being more numerous than in Dragon Pass and the Tusk Riders as only non-human minority besides the Elder Races are a bit surprising. So no Karian Chaos critters on the radar yet, and no other nonhumans worth including in this general overview.
Aldryami population numbers usually count only the elves, not the other critters one can expect in an elf forest. I would be astonished to find less beastmen in Ralios than in Dragon Pass, really (excepting the centaur herds.)

p.379 Religion
Great Arkat’s religion was suppressed just 500 years ago? The fall of the Autarchy led to a century of active pursuit of the Arkati religion 800-900 years ago. 500 years ago Jorstland was near the peak of its power, even including Tanisor. Supported by Halwal, various Arkati forms of Malkionism had resurged  640 years ago. While Halwal’s followers perished alongside Yomili’s and the two leaders, the lands they left behind had rid themselves of much of the Middle Sea Empire’s orthodoxy and were actively worshipping Arkat.

Uncommon events: Acute wine shortage. Maybe playing in Ralios isn’t that good an idea?

The maps: (pp.380f)
Scale: Safelstran cities can be as little as three map hexes apart. .For comparison, the average minimal distance between cities in Heortland or Tanisor is 4 to 5 hexes, and only Esrolia manages distances between cities as short as Safelster, including Otkorion with its strong Orlanthi elements.
Terrain: Safelster is astonishingly low-lying. Lake Felster cannot be much more than 50 meters above sea level, making the Tanier and also the Doskior river lowland rivers for most of their course. This makes me wonder about floodings of the entire region, like the ones Pakistan suffered since 2010.
Likewise, all of Safelster may be at risk if and when that giant piece of ice breaks loose from the Glacier, or if the raising Somelz manages to edge into Magasta’s Pool, plugging it up.
And that’s just a flooding by passive waters. Active waters like the Madadan Sea would not even have to climb a lot.
On the other hand, with rice as an agricultural staple, I wonder how tamed the upper Tanier and the Doskior are in the lowlands. Do the rivers have man-made dams and locks in order to manage the water levels (and possibly provide running water for the nearby cities) and to provide irrigation for the rice paddies?
While definitely from the wrong historical period, the River Elbe had weirs across much of its length between Magdeburg and Geesthacht in the 17th century, and the city of Augsburg in Svabian Bavaria has the Lech dammed up halfway at a natural ledge to provide a network of fast-flowing canals in the city with energy for water mills used by the artisans of that Roman-founded city. Roman-level use of waterwheels may have been part of the Middle Sea Empire heritage of Safelster.

p.382 (sidebar):
The Galanini form a horse rider aristocracy south and east of Lake Felster, led by female clan chiefs (most notable of them Ingye, the Queen of Galin).
This sounds a lot what the Grazers might look like after a few more centuries lording over Vendref and profiting from the trade tolls in the posts. However, there appear to be other sources of nobility (descent from Arkat, or from Middle Sea Empire potentates) parallel to these.
As a horse rider aristocracy, they probably have an aristocratic cavalry similar to that that formed when Tanisor claimed its place as the heir of lost Seshnela. Given the revelation of a large unfree population in Safelster, the peasants may have status similar to the Vendref, too.
(We know that Sartar performed a Westfaring to acquire a wyter for his tribal confederation. Is it possible that this led him into southern Safelster, giving him pointers how to civlize the Grazers?)
I notice that the area occupied by the Galanini is hard to allocate to one of the four Enerali tribes. The Korioni would have ruled over the Korions (Ot-, Sur- and Nas-) and the lands in between. The Fornaor were the westernmost and held the lands between Guhan and the coast (prior to the arrival of the Brithini of Arolanit). Uton sits right next to Tanisor, and it looks like the Utoni would have been southwest of Lake Felster. The Vustri appear to inhabit East Ralios, beyond Naskorion.
The lands southeast of Lake Felster are the stronghold of the Galanini. Utoni and Korioni are the two closest Enerali tribes, so which one (if any) would it be?

People of Note:
Alangellia’s affair with the current holder of the Purple Scepter of Serpent Sentience is described as torrid. Does that mean it is way beyond steamy?
I`ll join Peter @metcalph wondering that it is her throne that is dominated by the faces of Arkat. I would have expected a serpent-themed recliner. But maybe that is reserved to the male ruler of Estali, along with the scepter?
No surprises among the other named leaders. Surantyr’s charioteer career had not been mentioned before the Guide, but the concepts of Nikk Effingham for Otkorion henotheism probably still would work fine.

Places of Interest:
I know that it would have increased word- and page count quite heavily, but I really wish I had a version of the Guide telling me not just the place name (like e.g. Avoc), but also the greater state it belongs to (Sentanos) and the leaders responsible (Erengazor), the body of water it is associated with (northeastern Lake Felster), and possibly other leads which help locating and associating the place with its surroundings, and possibly its history.
Basically that means I’ll have to find time to revive my database, and include a tool to connect it to maps.

The Temple to Strive and Love in Azilos sounds quite a bit like Tolat to me. Does it have a Zolan connection, or is this some lusty aspect of Arkat centuries of censure have hushed up?

Holut is a bit confusing with it being home to both the Galvosti (almost orthodox) sect of Malkionism and its Arkat Temple-Monastery near Col. Apparently the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Is it still true that the Galvosti once were the main sect of Malkionism on the Upper Tanier and well into Sentanos, with only the Chariot of Lightning movement taking them from predominance?

Dainmol (in Tiskos): To me the Chaos Monk regime has a certain similarity to the Anabaptist reign over the city of Münster (a century later site of the Westfalian Peace treaty). The Chaos Monks sound like they were even worse, but if they held the city for two years, the conditions inside the city must have been similar to Münster. In any way, that episode of the early history of Protestantism can give quite a few pointers to what could happen in such a city.

Danket active in the salt trade: This sounds like they profit from the flooding of the Sodal Marsh by the seas of 1049, probably harvesting peat and burning it to get at the salt, much like the Frisians (e.g. of the city of Rungholt) did in the early middle ages. Given this pollution, the purity of Bakan Lake is quite miraculous, and speaks of a strong deity there. Possibly linked to Eron/Arroin?
Salt might be a rare commodity in Ralios, given its rather dry history. The areas covered by the Madadan Sea might be the next best source of salt for Ralios.
I would have expected this region to be a center of rice agriculture.

Daran nobility sounds a lot like a Malkonized variant of the Galanini noble clans of the p.381 sidebar.

Drom (in Helby): I should have named the city’s protector statue as an example for my discussion about city gates…

EhilKae (in Seshnegi-occupied Dangk): Halwal’s stronghold in Ralios when he plotted against the Yomili-led God Learner church of Seshnela, studying the ancient magics of Ralios and Tanisor. Destroyed by Mabodinarne. Was Mabodinarne a foe of Halwal? Did Halwal research a “wrong” aspect of Arkat? The Three Rivals including Mabodinarne infamously failed to work together.
I’d really like to read a vita of Halwal (as an Ascended Master he certainly should have at least one), and the end of God Learner dominance in Genertela, to clear this up. We might learn a lot about modern Malkionism from that, but possibly also about God Learner methods to study and manipulate local cults and sects.
Speaking of Ascended Masters, what is their status in Ralios? The Rokari church hates them, the Hrestoli love them. Where did Halwal leave northern Safelster? (The south appears to have lost its identity to Rokarism, at least among the peasantry.)

Gamol in southern Estali is a stronghold of the Ancient Beasts Society, the heir of the Dawn Age Serpent Beast society which mostly succumbed to the Theyalans and then the Bright Empire. I would have expected the Ancient Beasts to be stronger near Vesmonstran or East Ralios with the Hsunchen presences there, but nearby Pralorela offers authentic heirs of the Dawn Age Hykimi, too. Finding this in ancient Enerali and Galanini lands puts the relationship between Enerali and Serpent Beast Brotherhood into a more Hsunchen light. For all their Theyalan, Bright Empire and EWF history bringing mainstream Orlanthi features to Safelster, Ralians appear to have strong Hykimi roots, along with a possible Kachisti inheritance.

Grodnin. Where, what? Western Tinaros, on the border to Kustria. Possibly one of the westernmost Safelstran links in the Argan Argar chain. A city of Tinaros, apparently unaffected by any warping Argin Terror may have caused.

Helby: Does the slave population participate in these open-sex festivals, or those of Estali? The Galanini sound like an unusually sexually active and liberal group of sun worshipers. There doesn’t seem to be a noble segregation from such rites like the Dara Happan Yelmites from lowly Lodrili or Suvarian practices.

Hesmol: northwestern Tinaros, just outside of Holut, sporting a shrine to Arkat the Destroyer at the core of the temple city. Slap-dash in Galvosti “let’s tap the non-Malkioni” lands.
But maybe the Galvosti reserve their Tapping for the uz and enlo from Guhan. Maybe an unlucky dark troll who fell afoul of Galvosti Tapping might end up with enlo status if he manages to return home, and enlo would be reduced to food status regardless of their former category.

Jarabolos: one of the few city descriptions which tells us where to look for it, and one of the few cities that recently changed their allegiance due to conquest. Gods of Storm, Fire and Earth share a triple temple. Sounds fairly unique in Glorantha, even with Elmal shrines in temples to Orlanth and Ernalda.

Vadeli magic destroying Hrelar Amali: (box p.384)
The list of the Kings of Seshnela mentions Torphing, who ruled from 168 to 186, and who was slain along with his son by the Waertagi, allegedly for using Vadeli magics. His successors continued their war against the Waertagi, and would have been likely to look for a source of water magic to counter that threat.
I find it quite hard to reconcile this timeline with “a generation after 180, the Seshnegi gave great gifts to Sramak to placate the waters” and only then the destruction using Vadeli magic.
The Kingdom of Tanisor became a vampire kingdom afterwards. Maybe that, too, was an effect of Vadeli magic which illuminates may have used indiscriminately.

Lake Felster: Its origin sounds like it could have been the result of Helamakt’s Sivin Feat during the Plundering of Aron.

Lake Helby: What could have possessed Gbaji the Deceiver to banish the Fifty Lost Fish from the lake? And which Gbaji are we talking about here?
We know that Arkat’s spite against his enemy would lead to the lasting chaos infection of the land of Dorastor, but then Nysalor’s defenders had turned to Chaos earlier on to keep Arkat at bay – as early as gifting the Telmori with the werewolf ability (that Talor, another chaos-fighter, cemented as the Wildday curse).

The Lartuli cliffside relief depicting a solar horsewoman fighting the dragon emperor of the Underworld:
We don’t have any myths of solar dragon-slaying queens. (Nusa, mentioned for Nusatell in eastern Naskorion, is a heroic horse queen slain in the Darkness, but that’s all we know.) My first association for a deity would be Yelorna, whose cult reputedly comes from Ralios, but then I would trust the Galanini to know the difference between a sun horse and a star unicorn.
The relief could be contemporary to the Gods Wall. I’d love to confront Dara Happan priesthood with this. And while this is something which could have upset the Dara Happan followers of Nysalor, Lartuli is too far from Lake Helby to have caused them to banish the fish from that (Galanini) lake.
Lartuli sits close the edge of Tarinwood, which continues to Pralorela, which is considered to be part of Maniria or Ralios, so the location of the Battlefield of Irn occasionally mentioned in Manirian context might be faulted to a time when the Pralori controlled all the lands around Tarinwood. (p.385)

Makan: the city in Naskorion, not the name for the Invisible God of the God Learners. Whose empire included this city, with its temple to Nakala and the Underworld. The Fronelan Irensavalists know Makan as the evil demiurge, which sort of suggests an Underworld connection. But I might read way too much into a duplicate name. We have other such examples, like Kitor or Jorri.

Sroket, on an island off the Kustrian coast, is special for its temple to Safa, depicted as a fish-tailed woman holding the bounty of the earth. Not quite a Triolini, but the closest freshwater equivalent we get.

Tinaros: the widowed (and now disembodied, because eaten) widowed countess of Jorglaban is one of the most frightening female figures of Glorantha, never mind all those scary Lunar ones ike Yolanela or the Feathered Eye Woman, or the Grandmothers of Esrolia. Her husband and his claim to greater rulership, the regalia of Jorglaban, were sent to the bottom of Lake Felster by the Parthanian fleet. We don’t know whether this was the result of treachery or whether the Parthanians were in a regular war against Tinaros, but rather than raising her children and heirs to the drowned count as the tool of her revenge, she sacrificed them instead and lay with a demonic entity (possibly the devil) to give birth to Argin Terror. This is an epic form of revenge, nearly unparalleled in mortal Glorantha. Only the Unholy Trio, Annilla’s birth to the dead Blue Moon, or the birth of Oorsu Sara to Queen Arlu compare.
The city of Tinaros sounds like it would be right at home in the Orange League of the Jrustelan Vadeli. And I wonder whether that “devil” could have been some Vadeli entity.
I could picture this place to use themes and stories from Leiber’s Lhankmar or Glen Cook’s Garrett PA series, darker than the respective originals. Some of the Black Company stories by Glen Cook might apply, too. In other words, the perfect place for dark noir stories.

Srvuela, land of the Srvuali (unmixed rune lesser children of the greater runic gods, in Brithini classification): apparently the collective name for the theist core lands of the Bright Empire? The name makes sense to westerners if one calls Fronela, Ralios and eastern Seshnela the Hykimi lands where the people are descended from beasts. Finding this used in Ralios, where the Ancient Beast Society keeps the Hykimi inheritance alive, is a little strange, even if we make this a Jrusteli overlord’s explanation.


Telling how it is excessive verbis


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On 10/10/2017 at 8:40 AM, Joerg said:

Two species of lion are among the Apex predators of Safelster. At least one would be the Pendali/Basmoli lion that dominated Seshnela in the Dawn Age. What about the second species? Looking at the places of survival of the exiled lion people, I would assume that the Seshnegi variant sticks mainly to the south – Pralorela (and Basim over in Maniria), the fringes of Tarinwood, and Tanisor. The other species might be a northern group.

I noted this as well as interesting.  The second could be the Durbaddath/Carmanian lion noted in Anaxial's Roster.

On 10/10/2017 at 8:40 AM, Joerg said:

Alangellia’s affair with the current holder of the Purple Scepter of Serpent Sentience is described as torrid. Does that mean it is way beyond steamy?

Perhaps their efforts generate Lust spirits which go forth into the Ralian night to haunt and disturb the dreams of common folk.

Other thoughts and comments:

Argin Terror:  Nightmare Sorcerer and Son of the Devil, yet he's engaged in a petty immortal war with his mother's spirit.  Perhaps he can get Arkat to help him out?

Defed: one wonders what the new revelation is for his followers, and what his inexplicable source of magical energy is?  Since the Boristi tap chaos things, one wonders what powerful chaos thing he has likely tapped into?  Cthulhu, anyone?

Erengazor:  what are the Low Delights over which she is High Priestess?  And as her cult fails, what does she do in desperation to revive it? 

Meime the Tournament King:  always nice to have impregnable armor.  Yet... it's hard to picture the Nidan dwarves as being so kind and generous.  Somehow I suspect that there will prove to be the "Meime 'heel'" to the armor.

On 10/10/2017 at 8:40 AM, Joerg said:

The Temple to Strife and Love in Azilos sounds quite a bit like Tolat to me.

Agree, it does sound like Tolat.

Danket: "When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. And that one sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that’s what you’re going to get, Son, the strongest castle in all of Dangim."

Grodnin:  always helpful to have a Black Stone around.  Sounds like a hardened part or fragment of the Styx.

Hida:  bronze, silver, and copper.  Storm gods, Earth gods, and ... Moon deities perhaps???  Undoubtedly some interesting Godtime battle here.  Given the Earth Mother temple, likely a Storm god victory with the site gifted to the Earth Mother.

Hrelar Amali:  I always like the "glows at night and looks shadowy in the daytime" aspect.  Clearly an important heroquest site, and one where the Dark Warriors of Arkat lurk around.

On 10/10/2017 at 8:40 AM, Joerg said:

Vadeli magic destroying Hrelar Amali: (box p.384)

Also an interesting aspect.  I'm inclined to think that the Vampire Kingdom of Tanisor is linked to the Vadeli magic as well.  Sounds like something the Vadeli would enjoy and encourage.

Kustria:  the Tower of Xud - over a mile high!!! and basements in the Underworld.  "In the power of the Breakers of the Seal" - would be an interesting sorcerous school to be pitted against (have to be foes - wouldn't be fun if heroes didn't have to get into the Tower of Xud and obtain its secrets, or keep the Breakers of the Seal from breaking the seal!).

Arena of Kustria - clearly this has the opportunity to shift into the Godtime and become the Court of Kargan Tor. 

Lake Felster:  "carved out of the Earth when the Storm Gods warred against the Serpent-Beasts of Hykim" - one wonders what happened to the earth gods of the area.

Lartuli: "a Solar horse woman battling against the dragon ruler of the Underworld".  Does this presage Can Shu the Shadow Dragon?  And if so, who is the Solar horse woman?  Galana the Sun Goddess?  Galanin the horse mother?  The Feathered Horse Queen?  There's not many female solar figures, but could be an interesting/important quest to save the world as the Hero Wars draw to their apocalyptic end.

Makan: the Nakala Caves - more access to the Underworld.  Interesting to see how many places lead to Hell.

Marost:  walls sixty feet thick.  That's a lot of stone!  Wonder who constructed it (and added the 100 swords taken from Arkat's foes).

Nisos:  the Seekers of Knowledge - possess the secrets of the Kingdom of Logic.  Sounds like they have a copy of Revealed Mythologies at hand.

Tolin:  wild and drunken festivals to revive the [Sun] god in the Underworld.  This would be an interesting site to visit during Sacred Time.

Tortun:  "truce between the city's many competing Arkat cults weakens as well..." - sounds like a good opening to an Arkati campaign.

One God, One King, One Empire:  "the Arkati must unit, and then penetrate to the magic heart of Theoblanc's power" - and this a great climax to an Arkati campaign.

Utorost:  "the Bronze One, a storm god who feel from the Middle Air in the Great Darkness..." - I could see this as one of the Three New Stars raised in a Ralian Eleven Lights campaign.

Wolfblood:  following Argrath's campaign against the Telmori, I could picture a Telmori quest to find this place and drink of the pure wolf blood to restore their folk.


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