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The Third Age of Glorantha!

Welcome to the fantasy world of Glorantha at Glorantha.com, the place on the web to experience the richness and wonder of Greg Stafford’s Glorantha. This is nexus of Gloranthan activities regardless of whatever rules system you use.

New Feature: Gloranthan Readings

Books are a big deal for the Moon Design team – not just RPGs and fantasy literature, but history, mythology, religion, and classics of literature. You might have noticed that the Guide to Glorantha and HeroQuest Glorantha have bibliographies of sources and suggested resources. We’re going to be expanding on that in our new Gloranthan Readings page. For the time being, books are organized by Classics, Reference Books, Epics and Sagas, and Fantasy. We’ll have a short synopsis of a book, why we think it is worth your time to read, and even a link to Amazon so you can buy it (if you don’t already have it).

You can even suggest books to add to this list – if I haven’t read it, I’ll put it on the stack. Every week or so, we’ll add another book with a synopsis and a few comments. First up, of course, are the books we’ve already recommended, but we’ll adding to that list soon enough.

First on the list is Herodotus, “The Histories”. Seriously, if you haven’t read Herodotus you owe it to yourself as a literate person to stop what you are doing and get it. Now.
Herodotus wrote the first history book – an account of the wars between the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta against the Persian Empire, written from the perspective of an educated Greek in the 5th Century BC. The Histories serves as a Greek sourcebook for Persia, Babylon, Egypt, Scythia – even India!

For Glorantha-philes, there’s a tremendous amount of inspiration here. The roots of the story of Sartar against the Lunar Empire isn’t “Braveheart”, they are the Persian Wars. Like a good Gloranthan, when Herodotus wants to get down the ultimate cause of the conflict, he goes to mythology and the Trojan War. Like a good God Learner or Arkati, he discusses the religion of other peoples within the constructs of Greek mythology.

Seriously, click on the link to Amazon and just buy it, and then read it.

Click The Histories, Revised (Penguin Classics) to check it out on Amazon.com.


So why don’t you go over to Gloranthan Readings and check out what we’ve got up?

We are also enabling Comments on blog posts now [Neil: or trying to] so you can do the discussion directly on the site like we do with Prince of Sartar.

Gloranthan Magic and Synchronicity

In Glorantha, synchronicity is the rule. Events that are meaningfully related occur without a causal relationship. Argrath sails to the Homeward Ocean and meets Harrek the Berserk; Argrath befriends Mularik, a descendant of Arkat who recognizes Argrath as the incarnation of his ancestor; Harrek and Argrath show up in the Mirrorsea Bay just in time to fight the Lunars in Esrolia. These are not mere expressions of chance or random coincidences – they are meaningful coincidences, synchronicities. Perhaps they express the will of Arachne Solara, the Cosmic Spider whose web holds the universe together.

Jung would rightfully object to the misuse of his term synchronicity – for in Glorantha, these “coincidences” have a cause in the patterns established in the God Time. Frayed and rent as it is with the Hero Wars, the Compromise seeks to reassert itself. Calling upon the power of a Rune* can summon both ancient enemies and allies of that Rune. Using that Rune may well trigger seemingly unrelated connected to conflict from the Gods War. The more powerful the use, the more powerful the event triggered. Heroquesters thus find rivals and friends drawn into their quests; Nysalor results in Arkat; Jar-eel in Harrek (or perhaps Argrath). Perhaps these are not coincidences but part of the Cosmic Spider’s web that mortals and even gods find it difficult to perceive.

*It is generally believed in Glorantha that the Runes pre-exist mortals (and many believe they pre-exist the gods) and were not invented. They are not only concepts but autonomous entities which are more than concepts or symbols.

 

Warlocks

The magicians of the Sartar Magical Union are popularly called “warlocks” after a derisive comment by the Lunar general who opposed them at the Battle of Sword Hill. They have been taught techniques to wield great magical power through meditation and other strenuous disciplines. They include men and women in roughly equal measures, as well as a substantial minority not so easily classified, far more than in the surrounding population.
Argrath has taught them to perceive a higher consciousness through their inner eye; these teachings are very similar to those Arkat taught his companions but include some element of draconic communication.
The meditative disciplines practiced by Argrath’s warlocks include dance, chants, breathing techniques, postures, and other rites. Some rites include elements of Auld Wyrmish, both spoken and danced. The warlocks belong to other cults as well as that of the magical regiment; Lightbringer cults predominate, but some warlocks are Malkioni, shamans, and even Lunar cultists. Argrath’s magic uses an eldritch blend of Arkati secrets, Praxian shamanism, God Learner theory, draconic mysticism, and even Lunar illumination, combined with more traditional cult practices. The magicians in most units come from a variety of different magical backgrounds and cults; by using Argrath’s teachings they can summon their collective over-soul (wyter). To do this, the magicians perform arduous disciplines, which can take the form of meditation, austerities, chants, ecstatic dance, and even sex, to achieve a higher consciousness and unshakeable focus. This technique is sometimes called “egg hatching” or “hatching and birth” and is analogized with the labor every mother puts in delivering her baby. While performing their collective rites, the magicians are physically defenseless and must be defended by bodyguards.
Many commoners suspect the warlocks are Argrath’s bonded tricksters (and a substantial number are in fact Eurmal cultists). The warlocks are widely feared, and their cryptic and often transgressive words and deeds do not endear them to the superstitious. They are none-the-less under the direct protection of the Prince, who favors them greatly.

Some Notes on Gloranthan Languages

The languages of all Gloranthan mortals developed from a single source, which the God Learners called “Mortal Speech”.

Mortal Speech

There is an ur-language that is the source of all mortal languages in Glorantha. Let’s call that Mortal Speech. This was the language that Grandfather and Grandmother Mortal taught their children to speak with each other. Thus, every mortal language – be it human, dark troll, dwarf, elf, or even menfolk – has certain shared vocalizations in common. All mortal races possess at least the potentiality for communication.

Now that language was first taught over 60,000 years ago (at least according to the Dara Happens, whose chronology I am not willing to dispute). Since then, the mortal races have spread across Glorantha and countless generations have passed. The events of the Gods War separated many mortal races by water, land, and mountain. The division of Mortal Speech into many mutually unintelligible tongues was inevitable.

Runic Speech

The gods of the Celestial Court communicated using Magic, but their children and burtae used runic speech to communicate with others. In the God Time, many of the descendants of Grandmother and Grandmother Mortal mated with the gods, who taught them their eternal and unchanging runic speech.

Darktongue: Creatures of Darkness, such as bats, dehori, Underworld demons, and their ilk, speak Darktongue.

Earthtongue: The speech of the goddesses of Earth, snakes and other reptiles, and other Earth-related creatures.

Firespeech: The celestial language of the Sky World, of fires, and birds.

Seatongue: The language of waves, of rivers, and other the watery depths.

Stormtongue: The language of winds, thunder, rain showers, and mammals.

There is also Spiritspeech, the means of directly communicating with spirits.

The various mortal languages have been strongly influenced by one or more of these runic tongues. For example, the Dara Happen language is strongly influenced by Firespeech, while the Theyalan languages are influenced by Earthtongue, Stormspeech or both. Praxian borrows elements from Spiritspeech, Stormtongue, and Earthspeech! Kralorelan and the other Eastern languages are strongly influenced by Firespeech and Seatongue. The Brithini tongue is strongly influenced by Seatongue and Stormtongue, while the Old Seshnegi and Jrusteli tongue add strong Earthtongue influences. The Middle Sea Empire discovered that Esrolian and Doraddi, two mutually unintelligible languages separated by the Inner Sea and with no historical contact and little mythological connection, share a small number of words derived from Earthtongue.

The more recent language called “New Pelorian” has altered Dara Happan with many words and concepts derived from Lunar sources. It is as yet unknown whether it shares any words with the Blue Moon worshiping peoples of Pamaltela.

Elder Races speech

The Elder Races, being more closely bound to their ancestor gods than are humans, have languages even more strongly influenced by runic speech. Aldryrami is the language of the woods; the different forests of the world have different accents but no different dialects. The dark trolls are so closely bound to the Darkness that they speak the same Darktongue as do their dehori ancestors.

Mostali is unusual in that it does not appear to originate from Mortal Speech and does not have elemental associations.

Draconic also predates Mortal Speech and is extremely different for other races to learn. The Theyalan language spoken in Dragon Pass by the Empire of the Wyrms Friends was strongly influenced by Draconic. Although that language is now nearly-extinct, it is still spoken by the population of Pavis-Within-The-Walls and used in ancient religious ceremonies by the inhabitants of Adari.

A few thoughts on the Imperial Lunar nobility

A few thoughts on the elite of the Lunar nobility. The highest nobility are those who are within two or three generations of the Red Emperor. So a few numbers to see what that pool might look like.

Since 1460 (say 160 years ago), there have been ten masks of the Red Emperor. Before that, the Red Emperor had existed 1250 to 1449 (about 200 years) and had fathered at least a 100 children. Some of these children and their families were recognized by Magnificus during the restoration of the Empire after 1460. Many others had been destroyed by Sheng Seleris or had rejected their birthright to survive in the Celestial Empire.
So let’s assume in 1460 there were 20 “Lunar Imperial Nobility families” that had survived Sheng Seleris. This includes Hon-eel, some of the priestly lineages (possibly House Assiday), and many of the families that have rights to travel on the Silver Bridge. These are the Old Nobility with the most status (although not necessarily the most powerful.

In the last 160 years, there have been 10 Masks of the Red Emperor. The Emperor typically maintains several consorts and concubines. Some (like Magnificus, Robustus, and Militaris) many; some (like Artifex, Celestinus, and Reclusus) very few. Let’s say on average, each Mask sire one child a year. That’s a 160 direct descendants. Each is the founder of an imperial lineage (with a few weird and powerful exceptions like the Tharkalists).
By now, the “average” imperial lineage is 4 generations old, with about 300(!) descended from the founder. That means the New Lunar Nobility probably numbers about 45,000 people (!).
For comparison, that’s about three times the size of the modern Saudia royal family. Like that, power and status is concentrated in about 2,000 to 6,000 individuals, who probably include:
1. All the satraps
2. All the Provincial Kings
3. Most of the Imperial bureaucracy
4. The entire Full Moon Corps
5. Most of the important priesthoods
6. All the Masks of the Red Emperor
In fact, in the Lunar Heartlands, it might be difficult to find someone of power who isn’t part of the extended imperial family (this is at its most extreme in the Silver Satrapy and probably at its least extreme in Sylila).

Draft Dragon Pass Map

The draft Dragon Pass map for 13th Age in Glorantha and the Gloranthan sourcebook is nearly done. Behold!

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Kickstarter for 13th Age in Glorantha nearly over

We are entering the end-game of the Kickstarter for 13th Age in Glorantha and the Gloranthan Sourcebook. As of the time of this post, we have about 47 hours left and are less than $2000 away from raising $100k! If you haven’t already, now is your chance to pledge at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/416625372/13th-age-in-glorantha and reserve your copies of both 13th Age in Glorantha and the Gloranthan Sourcebook. Plus much more!

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We’ve already unlocked the Lunar College of Magic and are inches away from unlocking the Sartar Magical Union! Now is the time! Don’t disappoint Gagix Two-barb the Scorpion Queen of Jab!

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https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/416625372/13th-age-in-glorantha

On magical battalions in the Hero Wars

What defines a magical battalion as a military unit in Glorantha? It is not raw magical power or heroic status of the individuals in the unit; Prince Argrath and his companions posses more raw magical power than a full battalion of the Major Class, and demigods like Harrek the Berserk or Jar-eel the Razoress are beyond the ability of such magicians to even attack.

The magical battalions of the Lunar College Magic (and later of the Sartar Magical Union) consist of 50 to 250 magicians (priests, sorcerers, shamans, devotees, etc) who are trained to coordinate their activities to create a magical effect beyond the sum of the individual members. In the Lunar Empire these are standing organizations operating under the authority of the Red Emperor. In Sartar, these are secret magical societies that cross often tribal boundaries but are allied with Prince Argrath.

Sartar Battalion

Typically, a magical battalion summons a manifestation of their collective divinity – sometimes conceived of as an “over-soul” or wyter, sometimes as the patron deity of the battalion. For purposes of convenience, we’ll call it the battalion wyter (an Orlanthi term not used by the Lunars). The battalion wyter is capable of acting a considerable distance from the magicians of the battalion – normally between 20 and 30 miles, although some battalions are capable of projecting their wyter as far as 60 miles or more.

The battalion wyter manifests itself differently depending on the battalion. The wyter of the Eaglebrown Warlocks was described as a “great brownish eagle with two curling horns, which pulls together clouds with its wingbeats, peals of thunder with its wings clapping, sheet lightning from its eyes when it blinks, and casts down lightning bolts from its feet.” The wyter of the Spell Archers was described as a huge fiery spear cast down from the heavens. The wyter of the Crater Makers is a manifestation of the Red Goddess who hurls down rocks from the heavens!

What is common with each of these magical wyters is their ability to cause damage and havoc among enemy soldiers. An Irrippi Ontor sage once estimated that the wyter of any battalion of the Lunar College of Magic had approximately the same destructive capacity as a regiment of soldiers from the Heartland Corps. The difference was that it could attack from many miles away and was rarely itself able to be directly attacked.