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A sample Elmali stead in Sartar


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Rather than bogging myself down in counter-arguments in the Elmal/Yelmalio thread, I decided to take the problem on as a creative challenge and started to write up a sample stead led by an Elmali thane of his clan, and consider how this stead's population would have reacted to Monrogh's new teachings. I kept location and clan names vague, making it easy to place this anywhere simply by using nicknames for the clans rather than published ones.

I'll probably flesh this out further, probably updating the text below, provide a map and maybe some character sketches for a print version. This is a fairly prestigious stead a bit away from the main settlement of the clan, likely to give hospitality to visitors, thus enabling interaction with traveling groups of player characters. Or they could be kin.

I plan to add another, less prestigious household with an Orlanth head of household but Elmali sons, and maybe provide character sheets for a mini-freeform similar to Sartar High Council where an emissary of Monrogh seeks to gather converts for the new Yelmalio cult.



The Redaylding bloodline has been providing the horse thane for the clan for years and is in charge of maintaining the horse breed.

Redhorse Stead is inhabited by the families of the sons of Orstalli the Beren, deceased ringmember of the clan, and three dependent cottar households.

Harelmal is the steadmaster, a 50 year old god talker of Elmal, one of the best judges of horse breed in the tribe. Steadmistress is Esranevra, a 48 year old initiate of Ernalda struggling to postpone her progression to Asrelia – her youngest child is the nine years old daughter Voralda. She is Harelmal’s third wife and mother to two sons and two daughters by Harelmal.

It has been several years since Harelmal has last served on the clan ring, and his privileges as a thane of the clan are under scrutiny by rivals.

Tarkalor, Harelmal‘s 42 year old brother, is an initiate of Barntar and the main provider of the stead. His wife Votenesta is a 44 year old initiate of Ernalda and an accomplished healer of animals, often called to other steads to help with difficult calvings or outbreaks of hoof rot or similar afflictions.


Harelmal’s two oldest sons are the product of his temporary marriage to Mahomeva, a Redalda initiate a few years his senior.

Jaronil is 28 years old, initiated to Elmal and Orlanth Thunderous, and in charge of the non-horse herds of the stead. He has just re-married after a seven-year political marriage to Benava, a carl’s daughter of the formerly feuding Badger clan two valleys away, and leaves the raising of his five year old son and his two year old daughter to his stepmother and his brother’s wife while he is away with the herds on the summer pasture in the high valleys. His new wife Gatana is an initiate of Ernalda and an expert cheese maker who joins him on those pastures despite being glowingly pregnant approaching the third season.

Trymir is 24 years old, initiated to Orlanth Adventurous, a master of the javelin from horse-back and a prominent member of the clan warband as well as an accomplished hunter. He is married to Inerra, a 27 years old initiate of Ernalda and Mahome, an excellent cook and acting mother or nanny to all the children on the stead. They have two daughters and a younger son, and Inerra is pregnant again with only half a season to term.

18 year old Chalanyr is the only child of Harelmal’s short-lived middle marriage to Kallyr, a headstrong Redaldan from Runegate. Like her mother, Chalanyr has initiated to the Redalda subcult of Elmal. She is the best horse trainer on the stead, and the clan is considering an Esrolian or Vingan marriage for her.

16 year old Berentyr is the oldest of the children of Harelmal’s marriage with Esranevra, a recent initiate to Elmal full of pride in his status as a thane and ambition to become a ring member or even chief of the tribe. His fire magic is strong, and he disdain’s his oldest brother’s dual initiation. Berentyr wields his grandfather’s spear of enchanted silver, a renowned weapon in the werewolf wars, with considerable skill.

12 year old Tarhelanth is enjoying his first year as sheep-herder under the aegis of Jaronil and his wife up on the summer pasture, and is readying himself for manhood, or so he thinks, accompanied by his cottar sidekick age mate Urothsil Janerrasson and a huge and quite ancient shadowcat named Tolvren. Berentyr’s mother Esranevra would be happier if Urothsil wouldn’t display such an uncanny family likeness to Orstali’s lineage, but his widowed Yinkini mother doesn’t know, care or tell who the father was or may be. Neither does her brother-in-law under whose roof she lives.

His twin sister Tarkala is about to undergo her adulthood rites, possibly just after the arrival of a group of guests.

Nine year-old Voralda is in the same age group as some of her nieces and nephews, which irritates her quite a bit. She is best friends with her cousin Inerra.

Unlike his brother, Tarkalor Orstallisson has been happily married to the same woman since shortly after he became an adult. His oldest daughter Berra is married to a carl of the Richmeadow clan.

Anatyr Tarkalorsson is (for all his Elmali-sounding name) a 21-year-old initiate of Orlanth Thunderous and proud father of a 2-year-old son and a newborn daughter by his 19 year-old wife Bereva, initiate of Ernalda and younger daughter of the earth priestess of the warlike Ravenfriend clan. Anatyr handles the second of the three plow teams of the stead with nearly as much skill as his father.

18-year-old Finovanth on the other hand has followed the bloodline tradition and initiated to Elmal, alongside with Berentyr. A solid and at times unimaginative young man who is on the marriage market, he spends a lot of his spare time with Janerra, the resident Yinkini cottar, not mindful of the difference in age.

16-year-old Redalsin is going to marry the son of a wealthy Elmali carl of the Riverbottom clan, and while she is somewhat anxious about leaving her family behind, she finds some solace in the prospect of joining the loomhouse there where her aunt Onelisin Orstallidotter is one of the leaders. The females on the stead are all abuzz about her wedding dress and lots of other loom- and needlework she is going to take with her.

14-year-old Inevra is worried about being a late bloomer. Unlike her cousin Tarkala, there have been no signs of her going to be initiated to the Ernaldan mysteries. Although not at all a tomboy, she has been seen observing the resident Vingan cottar Harevyr attentively since last Sacred Time, from which Harevyr emerged pregnant, shortly after her wife Iselda had also been blessed with a pregnancy.

10-year-old Harvastor is extremely jealous of Tarhelanth and Urothsil for their privilege of joining the herders on the high pasture. To make up for that, he spends as much time as he can get away with in the carpentry workshop of the resident cottar and carpenter Orstavanth, Janerra's brother-in-law, in the pursuit of manliness, more so since his growth has been somewhat stunted after he was badly hit by the minor plague that hit the clan five years ago.

7-year-old Orstalli and 4-year-old Kallyr have yet to make any lasting impression other than children's play.

Grand-aunt Esrynn was the sole survivor of a stead-burning and returned to her birth clan after losing her husband and all her children, hideously scarred by that fire. Despite all that, she continues to bake the best bread in the clan while approaching her seventieth birthday, and she oversees the firing of the kiln like no other.

Possible plot hook: The visiting characters are members of either the clan who did the burning or the clan Esrynn married into. While staying overnight, they are plagued with vivid images of the stead-burning, and a woman’s wail for revenge that won’t leave them for days after that nightmare. Will they consent to receive a prominent birth mark in atonement/as a pledge to avenge the


burning? Characters who accept the burn mark for 1D4 hit points will have an augment equivalent to a special success on a passion should they ever face the test of Ehilm’s Flames, or may once ignore that amount of fire damage in a life-and-death situation (erasing that burn mark with a new scar).

Absent kin: Of the daughters of Harelmal’s generation, four are married to or widows in nearby clans, two have died. All but one were married to prestigious partners, but then everybody was glad to see the last of Ernarne’s obsession with blood revenge on the Richmeadow Clan slayers of her first love and groom from the Ravenfriend Clan who died cattle-raiding the birth clan of many of the women in the clan.

Corvantyr and Hedkosil, two half-brothers of Harelmal and Tarkalor and Elmali warriors, are absent, presumed dead, after they joined Tarwin’s Riders, the warband of a notorious but until their disappearance quite successful raider and mercenary. Their last messages and gifts reached the clan four years ago from western Esrolia, after a victorious skirmish against Ditali or Solanthi raiders. Corvantyr’s booty-wife Urgrika from the Ditali who accompanied the brothers on an earlier visit lives with the cottars and oversees the pigs of the stead, his seven year old daughter is raised by Inerra along with the other kids of the stead. Urgriga also has a son conceived during the harvest rites two years ago. With Corvantyr’s return unlikely, the household is reluctant to adopt that boy, and he will likely grow up to be a cottar.


Unusually, two of Esranevra’s daughters from her earlier marriage had married into the clan before her own marriage to Harelmal. When her husband died and the bloodline nominated his brother as new steadmaster, Esranevra decided to leave that clan.

Both her daughters are married into prestigious households. Berena is the wife of Harvar Thunderspeaker, the Storm Voice of the clan, of the Thundercloud bloodline. Harvar and Harelmal aren’t on the best of terms over the assignment of cottars to the thane households, with Harelmal claiming that the Elmali thanes receiving too little support. Ernevra, the younger of the daughters, is married to Tonalang Puresalt, the only son of the head of the Puresalt bloodline leader and overseer over the modest but important salt harvesting operation of the clan at the mineral spring over in the next valley.


Cottar Households at Redhorse Stead

Orstavanth is the resident carpenter of the stead, and the master of the biggest of the cottars' households. A 35-year-old initiate of Orlanth, married to Oranda, father of four children ages 2 to 14, and foster father for the children of his brother's widow Janerra, 29-year-old initiate of Yinkin and mother of eight children, including 16-year old Orstevin and 12-year-old Urothsil. Her developing pregnancy might be the result of her taking Finovanth into her bed, but as usual, Janerra neither confirms or denies this. Her hunting skills and the shadowcats she breeds make her a valuable member of the stead.

Harevyr is the Vingan head of the second cottar household of Redhorse stead. The 28-year-old initiate of Vinga is married to Inevra, a 30-year-old assistant god talker to the Grain Goddess, acting father to three of Inevra's children, and due to an Other Side encounter last Sacred Season as pregnant as her wife.



That's it for now. I'll expand and update the text. Comments, suggestions and collaboration welcome.




Edited by Joerg
expanded Tarkalor's children, started adding cottars
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A bit of clan politics to set Harelmal up.

Harelmal is fighting for his political survival in the clan. As the head of the more prestigious of the two Elmali bloodlines in the clan his standing as a thane of the clan is somewhat secure, but the chief has been reluctant to support Harelmal’s motions to expand the horse pasture. He sponsors most of the sacrifices at the new Usara shrine from the resources of Redhorse Stead, with the other horse breeders reluctantly contributing a bit, and he pushes the clan for Harevyr’s household to be advanced to half-carl status in order to expand the oats fields for winter fodder.

Faced with this much reluctance in the clan, Harelmal has begun lobbying for more influence in the tribe. He has taken on a few apprentices for horse-breeding and -taming both from within his own clan and from other clans. Three of them live as semi-permanent guests on his stead:

Orlarkor Maniskison of the Ravenfriend clan. The 17-year-old is the older of two sons of the only Elmali carl in that clan and is here in order to learn both expert horsemanship and to buckle up on Elmal magic and lore. He has begun to study Kuschile horse archery and makes good progress, although his affinity to horses is only so-so. His father’s stead sends a regular stipend of sheep for his upkeep and for support to the Usara shrine.

Hadrinor Urandasson of the Riverbottom clan. 21-year old son of the keeper of the Redalda shrine among the Riverbottoms, initiate to Elmal and Beren the Rider, and as friendly with Chalanyr as he can get without angering his hosts. The son of an Esrolian marriage, but a bit too high in status to marry into a household of anything but a member of the clan ring, Hadrinor is a valuable ally in Harelmal’s lobbying for recognition by the tribe as tribal horse-thane, an office currently unoccupied.

Organda Ulanorsdotter of the Richmeadow clan, 20-year-old initiate of Redalda through both Elmal and Ernalda, of helering gender. She is building a renown as a horse healer while pestering Harelmal for minutiae on horse lineages in Quiviniland.

Harelmal’s assistants from his own clan include Arnor Harvarsson, the 15-year-old grandson of Esranevra, fresh initiate of Orlanth Adventurous, despite Harelmal’s quarrel with Harvar, Kalf Instandsson of the Brightshield bloodline, 14-year-old grandnephew of Asborn Brightshield, the current head of that bloodline, and in line to be initiated to Elmal at the next opportunity, and Insterid Votenorsdotter, 16-year-old initiate of Ernalda Redalda from a slightly struggling carl household in the clan.


Recurring and more than welcome guests of Redhorse Stead include:

Boburto Golden Stallion of the Pol Joni, a worshipper of the Praxian sun daughter and Yelm Kargzant, a short man with clear Impala rider ancestry but an expert trader and judge of horseflesh;

Ingarzeen Mulelord, Issaries thane of the Richmeadow clan and owner of a donkey herd dedicated to breed mules who often trades for stud services, and a strong supporter for Harelmal’s move for tribal horsethane;

Geirborn Mareskalk, Elmal devotee and a former man of the Prince, of the Kheldon tribe. Despite his falling out with the Prince, he still has many friends in Boldhome and at the court.

A recent addition to the list of guest of the stead is Orthanis Golden Spear. [If used for playing out the Elmal/Yelmalio schism on a family level, Orthanis is a follower of Monrogh Lantern spreading word of Monrogh’s new cult. If used for the start of the Hero Wars, Orthanis could e.g. be a follower of Rurik Runespear recruiting warriors for a hero band to support Argrath Dragonspear.] Orthanis is a charismatic and generous worshipper of the New Light, well versed in horse lore and sun magic, persuasive and diplomatic. He used to be a companion of the tribal king and rides a War Zebra stallion. Harelmal currently raises two yearling cavalry zebra foals as an experiment, and has another mare bearing one.

Harelmal’s brother Tarkalor supports his brother’s ambitions and shoulders the extra duties resulting from Harelmal’s ambition willingly. Harevyr is a good friend and spear sister, and the stead could just about provide another half-team for plowing a fourth hide of grain fields to complement the one that Harevyr’s household would receive.

Esranevra is a late-comer to the clan’s loomhouse politics, but with two daughters in prominent positions and as steadmistress of the head of a bloodline she has a bargaining position to be reckoned with in clan politics. Votenesta, while well liked and highly regarded in the clan, has little talent for politics and intrigue, but her circle of friends can occasionally be swayed to come in to support Esranevra’s moves in the loomhouse.

Trymir has been sent to spend some more time with the companions of the tribal king in order to lobby for his father reviving the post of tribal horse-thane. He is building a bit of a name for himself in that company as a weaponmaster, but still needs to gather more favors to be an effective asset for his father’s ambitions.

Jaronil is one of the highest ranking herders on the summer pastures and highly regarded in that community, and with his wife by his side he has been able to lobby the other herders to look favorable on Harelmal’s positions regarding horse pasture and hay allotment for horse breeding.



Edited by Joerg
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It occurred to me while reading Storm Tribe that the rivalry between Elmal and Vinga might underlie some of the trouble among Elmali clans. Vinga membership tends to increase during periods of violence and strife, such as those running between c.1530 and 1550 in Sartar, Tarsh, and the Far Place, because that is when women tend to become Red Women. If this was happening, there would be both mythic and social reasons for the Elmali to become sidelined.

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The cult of Elmal does provide its own red-headed fighting woman - Redaylde/Redalda, the horse-loving daughter or Orlanth/Vingkot. And yes, the future of this position in Monrogh's ideal patriarchal society should be one of the telling points for the conversion conflict. If I get to make this into a freeform about the Monrogh conversion, the characters Chalanyr and Organda will have this on their agenda.

For a breeder cult, the Elmali are in the difficult position that the Hyaloring horse mother Hippoi somehow didn't get as adopted as did Beren (and Ulanin). All the studs, little of the mare. Yelmalio isn't in any better position.

I will need to make the Defender of the Stead the focus of the Brightshields, the other Elmali bloodline. The outline above has about as much about horses as the topic can bear, possibly too much of it, but it made economic sense to me.


Here's a look at the Brightshield Elmali. A lot less ambition and muted drama, mostly, but if placed in the Monrogh era, that might change during private Elmal services at the Redhorse stead.

If placed in the Hero Wars era, replace the plague with the losses due to the WIndstop.



The Brightshield household


Unlike the isolated Redhorse Stead, the Brightshield household headed by Korlaman is located in the clan village. It is a square, two-story stone building with a slightly enlarged inner court with areas that while roofed are open to the central area. On the inside, only the ground floor has stone walls, everthing above is built from timber.

In the center of the inner court there is a pillar built from the same stone as the walls, with a torch-shaped oil lamp on top, under a convex bronze shield protecting the flame from rain and symbolizing the celestial dome above the ever-burning torch atop the mountain.


Current head of the weakest bloodline in the clan is Asborn Elmalandtisson Brightshield, well past his sixtieth anniversary and a somewhat quarrelsome and headstrong initiate of Orlanth Thunderous who breeds the white bulls used for a number of the clan sacrifices on a stead away from the main village.


Korlaman Halfbreath is the ailing patriarch of the household, A mighty warrior in his youth, he contracted a bad spear wound to his chest which he barely survived. He used to boast that even though he could draw only half as much breath as anyone else, he was twice as alive, but now that he has seen his 58th year, he ruefully adds that he also lived twice as fast as anyone else. Others say that he aged along with his wife Ivarna, who was ten years his elder. Asborn has been a widower for three years. He has resisted suggestions to marry a young lower status wife to be his partner for his final years or one of the elderly widows remaining with the clan, leaving the post of hearthmistress to his older daughter-in-law.

The younger brother of Asborn farms the household’s allotted land around the clan village with the hallmark spotted white oxen that did not fit the criterion for sacrificial white bulls.


Korlamans sons Instand (35 years old) and Intagarn (32 years old) are both initates of Elmal, continuing their grandfather’s creed in the bloodline. None of Asborn’s surviving son has initiated to the Sun God, and the household shrine in the stead has received only token service and sacrifice to Elmal over the last decades. Instand is the plowman of the household while Intagarn tends to the cattle herd, aiding Asborn in his breeding program to provide those white bulls.

The brothers are accomplished warriors and exemplary men of the clan’s hearthguard, regularly taking sacred watch duty during the clan rites or at the wyter’s shrine. There was no great glory to be won in those roles, however, and the boast of the raiders in the clan warband sting.

Instand’s 39-year-old wife Bevara is hearthmistress of the household. An initiate of Mahome and Ernalda originally from the Riverbottom clan, she never could break into the domination of the Richmeadow wives in the loomhouse.

Intagarn’s 29-year-old wife Ravenna is a prideful Ernaldan weaver born to a Ravenfriend master weaver.

Both couples have experienced joy and sorrow with their offspring. Five years ago a plague struck the clan, and four children of the household were claimed by Malia. (Alternatively, five years ago the Windstop claimed the children while the two brothers carried the responsibility to guard the clan with their magic.)

Ernesta Instandsdotter is the oldest child of the household at just seventeen years. The matchmakers are looking out for a suitable husband among the rural clans, but she feels that her skill at making glazed earthware might be better placed in the tribal city.

14-year-old Kalf Instandsson is mourning for his cousin and age mate Oresta, oldest child of Intagarn, and his younger brother Borni. He spends half of his days and nights over at Redhorse Stead learning the finer points of horsemanship and horse breeding.

12-year-old Karesta is the older of the surviving daughters of Intagarn and Ravenna. She has become the focus for her younger cousins Hengall (six years old) and Votena (4 years old) and her own baby sister Garneva (approaching her second birthday).

The household also offers roof and table to Durstan Thrallborn, a clan orphan of sixteen years and recent initiate to Orlanth. Durstan was taken in after he was the sole survivor of his family and has proven a valuable helper both on the fields and with the herd. Durstan received responsibility for a white heifer born last year that had not been accepted by her mother, and under his care the orphaned beast has become a veritable beauty, catching the eye of Asborn. Durstan is determined to hang on to the heifer and raise his status in the clan and gain the Brightshield name for himself.

Telling how it is excessive verbis


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Where do the storm boys get their tutelage? Is there always a friendly neighbor willing to foster sons who just don't have the right rune set to follow the way of their father? (And vice versa, sending, for example, sky sons down to the spear steads for a year or two so they can figure out who they really are.)

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10 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Where do the storm boys get their tutelage? Is there always a friendly neighbor willing to foster sons who just don't have the right rune set to follow the way of their father? (And vice versa, sending, for example, sky sons down to the spear steads for a year or two so they can figure out who they really are.)

The storm boys get their tutelage whenever they walk out of the door. 6 out of 7 males are Orlanth initiates, thus there is no shortage. And there will always be uncles or granduncles who may serve as a role model. Between these two Elmali bloodlines there are enough followers of Orlanth that you don't need to go to the Storm Voice, who will lead the clan services anyway that all boys within reach of the iniitiation group are going to attend.

The herders have both Orlanth and Elmal, making the extended field trip to the summer pastures a different kind of school. Being left with the sheep (that do quite well on their own in the mountains of modern Norway, give or take the occasional loss to wolverines or wolves) offers them an opportunity to test those observed or instructed manly patterns. The toxic ones, too. Then there is peer review, especially from those recently initiated.

I've also skipped the non-godspecific adulthood rite. The Elmali are going to experience the Star Heart and I Fought We Won just like the Orlanthi will, although their way there may be different, and their way onward too, or do they go through the Initiation of Orlanth, skip some stuff, meet Hengall, return, and then get a separate rite to Guard the Stead, Bind the Horse or whatever? The dual initiation of Jaronil may have been true from his original initiation, or he may have qualified for the other deity later on. Which one ever came first.

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1 minute ago, Joerg said:

The storm boys get their tutelage whenever they walk out of the door.

Nice. Yeah, the hard part is keeping good sky boys in line but peer review goes a long way there too. "Dual initiation" might happen when your friend in the other element lets you in on a few of the mysteries (everyone always blabs, at least a little, but it's OK) and so you can access enough of their perspective to Convince The Examiners if anyone asks. I really like the complexity of the relationships you have here.

The Initiation of Orlanth story is hard with these guys because the lessons Orlanth learns revolve around how to be a successful little brother in a culture of thugs, which brings him closer to the core Elmal values. I don't think these people have the full Hill of Gold but their rite might emphasize toughness and self sacrifice in ways we don't see in the storm version. Organized teamwork and discipline may be important in ways that don't really matter in the more independent Orlanth version. (I wouldn't be surprised if they initiate as many boys as they can at once for efficiency's sake and also to maintain bonds across widely separated steads.) 

Maybe they play a form of Shield Push and learn something about winning, losing and their cousins. Maybe the game is fixed.

For all I know they invented Star Heart. They should have IFWW so that's a great call.

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This Emali clan description tugs a lot of memories of growing up Catholic in southern England in the last century. Despite influencing your world-view, and revealing that at other times and in other places it is a huge deal for your personal integrity, (fortunately) in your daily life everybody knows (a bit) and nobody (much) cares.

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