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Overanalyzing Andrey's picture, or Making Gloranthan Art Direction a Nightmare


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Taken from the Status Update thread into the Glorantha forum, where this kind of nitpicking belongs.

Once again, hats off to the artist to allow such a discussion to be had at all. I remember similar discussions only for the covers of Strangers in Prax (whether that red orb visible was the Red Moon) and maybe one or two other pictures.

Getting the skyline, the Sunpath and the Red Moon right must be a strange requirement for an artist producing a realistic picture of any Gloranthan location.


Continuing the quest for where exactly this city could be.

1 hour ago, styopa said:

I'm going to say Swenstown; sun angle would suggest we're facing east-ish,

Good point about considering the sun angle. I wonder how you arrive at east-ish, though.

From the angle of the shadows both on Harmast's neck and on the city gate in the background, the sun is about 45° up, meaning it is either mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Noon would see the sun directly overhead.

The Sunpath doesn't go north or south to the extent people living outside of the tropical latitudes expect. If we see vertical areas directly lighted by the sun, they must point either eastward or westward, depending on whether this scene is in the morning or in the afternoon. I would guess if I was standing there to observe the scene, the sun would be somewhere just behind my right ear, so I am not looking directly along the east-west axis, but I turned right by maybe 30 or 45°. This means I am either looking into the northwest (in the morning) or into the southeast (in the afternoon).

Looking into the northwest, I could expect to see the Red Moon somewhere, so southeast is indeed the more likely direction.

Taking this into account, my earlier suggestion of Arkat's Hold falls flat - the 1000 meter high Shadow Plateau, with the shadows drifting above, would be visible from there in a morning scene, or otherwise the Skyreach Mountains in the afternoon.  Much of Tarsh lies on an northwest-southeast axis between the Crater (with the moon above) and Kero Fin, making a placement there a bit more unlikely, too.

Checking the map for Swenstown: where would the Block hide? Is that red building in the center high enough to obscure the Block?


1 hour ago, styopa said:

so probably not Wilimskirk or Whitewall (I guess we'd see mountains?). 

Mountains can be hiding in haze. As a formerly frequent visitor to Munich, the Alps could be seen from there only during Fön, an inversion weather situation that cleared the air of haze. The Alps would have been 10 to 20 hexes away.

Whitewall has the additional benefit of elevation, but after a two-year siege with area effect attacks including a rain of gorp or similar corrosive stuff, the buildings would be either a lot more worn (when I visited Berlin in 1981, there were still buildings with bomb damage in parts of the city), or spanking new - not the impression this picture gives.


1 hour ago, styopa said:

The dusty, dingy conditions as well as multiple Bison caravans suggest to me someplace closer to Prax;

I think that Praxian herd beasts are rarer in the environs between Boldhome and Swenstown than they are further west. If you live within raiding distance of Prax, using Praxian herd beasts is an invitation for braves from those tribes to visit and take back what they regard as rightfully theirs. If you use horses and mules (and presumably donkeys, to breed those mules) instead, you are a lot less likely to be visited. The further you live from Prax, the less likely you will be surprised by Praxian raiders. Hence North Esrolia or Hendrikiland may have a greater share of Praxian riding animals than Killard Vale between Boldhome and Swenstown.

Dusty conditions suggest Fire Season rather than a location. As for dingy, the entire region has been subject to the year-long winter of the Windstop and to warfare before and after that event, so cosmetic repairs may not have been a top priority of the survivors.


1 hour ago, styopa said:

Hendrikiland and points west likely would be well-enough roaded to make wagons a far more efficient mode of shipping. 

That depends on whether you are part of a trade network comfortable with transshipping to other means of transportation, or if you are a smaller trader with the Gloranthan equivalent of a Firefly type transport - to wit, a small herd of bisons trained as beasts of burden and mounts. If you are servicing the rural outback as well as the city, the all terrain hoofed caravan probably beats any wheeled transportation.


1 hour ago, styopa said:

City wall and multi-story stone buildings says it's not a smaller city.  IIRC Jonstown 


My personal vision of Jonstown has been formed by the map Ingo Tschinke used for his (never published) supplement project, and had more multi-storied houses than the aerial view in Sartar Companion p.18. Still, the houses give me a different vibe than a place less than 150 years old.


51 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Except that the Swenstown map in SKoH p.240 doesn't have any nice set of multi-story buildings leading to a gate.  Neither does Wilmskirk.  

The north gate of Jonstown shown on SKoH p.238 is a better choice.  And from the descriptions in SC, at least some of the inns there are 3 stories.

Jonstown has the New Market just inside of the North Gate, so no direct match, either.


51 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

If Pavis, it would have to be of the Old Gate, but there's no angled street there that also provides a wall view.

Comparing the cover of Pavis-Gateway to Adventure, no match. As @M Helsdon showed in his Towers thread, the city gate has two towers of different height, and round diameter.

51 minutes ago, jajagappa said:
3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Karse might be a possibility, with its mix of different influences (Esvulari, Heortling, Esrolian, Pelaskite) preventing any ostentatious religious ornamentation of the gate. The look would have to be to the south or southwest to avoid the cliffs showing.

Yes, or perhaps Jansholm?

I still see Jansholm (and Durengard) as located in a river valley, not unlike the panorama of Castle Stahleck. That would mean some skyline of the surrounding plateau.


51 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Alda-Chur is another possibility.  It's large, urban, but has likely seen better days.


Alda-Chur looking southeast might work, although I see more of a heritage of both Vingkotling and EWF fortifications there.


I am still keeping Esrolia in the wider choice. True, one would expect more murals, and there 


But in the end I guess we ask too much of the artist (who got lots of details right) to consider all of these facets even we Glorantha grognards have difficulty to get right at first glance. If we want that much realism, we need a 3D simulation. I for one would love to have one. I wish I had the time to build one out of GIS tools.

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Jeff clarified this over on the RQ thread:

5 minutes ago, Jeff said:

The city background is Swenstown. Here's the direction I gave Andrey about the background:
Swenstown is a caravan town on the border between the forested hills and mountains of Dragon Pass and the arid chaparral country of Prax. It is a place where the settled people of the hill country can trade with the nomadic tribes of Prax (the Animal riders - Bison, High Llama, Impala, and Sable Antelope riders).

I imagine it is a dirty, colorful, exotic place, like the ancient or Arab markets (such as these depicted by Orientalist artists): 
Remember, it is Bronze Age - no minarets! And Swenstown is a small place - a fortified town that is primarily important because of the caravans that pass through it.

I think I prefer Andrey's image over the aerial view in Sartar - Kingdom of Heroes p.240.

The octagonal building might be standing above a cistern, from the map it looks like the place could use one. I would replace part of S-KoH's shanty town inside the Dwarf Gate with this street panorama in my Glorantha.

I guess we won't get definitive 3D-models of those cities anytime soon, The aerial view maps of the three cities probably aren't that definitive.

Swenstown should be more urban than Red Cow Fort, and Andrey's buildings offer a glimpse of that. When Satar founded those cities, he attracted urban craftsfolk from Kethaela, who would have brought their own architecture with them. This would be their quarter, with rather small plots of land and hence higher buildings.


Speaking of 3D-models, I would be interested to hear ideas for the look and feel of Karse. Is the old Midkemia Press/Chaosium publication with its aerial and side view map of the place using the basic layout of Caernarfon still somewhat current?


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