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  • #5346
    Profile photo of Scott Martin
    Scott Martin
    Spectator

    As the weeks tick down to this thing going out to Kickstarter backers and opening up to the general public, I for one am still digesting the mass of new and old detail.

    The most arresting bit for me is the confirmation of the old bit from the Genertela box that Ethilrist was merely a heroic mercenary captain a century ago (when he crossed the Mislari) and from the whiteness of his horse troop at the time doesn’t seem to have been to Hell yet. For years I ignored this as an oversight because it makes his timeline tight, but it’s confirmed now so let’s roll with it.

    If Ethilrist really and truly had the white horses in the 1500s, then either (A) he went to Hell and came out within the last century or (B) the whiteness of the horse troop isn’t really as dependent on his journey to the underworld as I used to think.

    Scenario B actively contradicts one of the best parts of his legend (white horses go down, nightmares come up) so let’s ignore it. White horses that go down, come back up and are replaced with black ones later turn Hell into just another road trip.

    Scenario A is interesting because it doesn’t give him much objective time in Hell if people still want to have him return for the Nights of Horror in 1507. At best, the crossing of the Mislari would have to be one of the final exploits of the WHT — so near the climax of Volume V — before harrowing the underworld and the two events might actually be causally connected in some way. I’m not really crazy about this option because I liked a long interlude in Hell as a way to remove him from the mundane picture for decades or centuries and emphasize his alienation from mainstream Third Age history, but we can work with it.

    I also thought he snuck into Dragon Pass around Tarsh and/or Sartar to get his land grant and the legendary Mislari crossing was how he did it. Maybe not. Maybe he simply moved openly across newly lunarized Tarsh to get there. If so, then he could have crossed the Mislari under the white horse banner, spent a little time in Hell, re-emerged in Peloria with black horses, served the empire and taken possession of the County with the BHT in tow.

    So why would Ethilrist make the heroic effort of crossing the Mislari? People are eager to connect this to his attempted crossing of the Rockwoods to reach presumably the “Arrolian properties” (RQC) but I don’t think this is possible — while it makes a stronger narrative to combine the crossings, there’s just no time.

    The Rockwood crossing is the middle of Volume III of the History, which places it very early in Ethilrist’s pre-Hell career. If it took place immediately after the Mislari crossing, it would have been about “a century ago” and the remainder of Volume III as well as IV through VIII needs to compress to at most a few years per book if we want to get Ethilrist in and out of Hell and into Dragon Pass before the empire invades. It’s possible. Maybe he’s the Gloranthan Proust, teasing out moments with a prolixity that would shame even me.

    But I don’t think so. I like him to be at least a little older than that, if maybe not a full 600 years old. So the Arrolian Properties, the mysterious “Pandarians,” Hungry Jack and all that probably represent a different phase in his career than the Mislari crossing.

    Now if he really was trying to cross the “Rockwoods” to get to “Arrolia,” the follow-up questions are where he was coming from and what we mean by “Arrolian properties.” Some people have argued that this is the Janube and we’re actually moving across Nida from the south. Not sure on that one — the text is full of ancient mistranslations like “West Jungle” for Kanthor but it explicitly says “Rockwoods” — but counter-arguments that he was trying to reach Arolanit from Peloria are less convincing given that we know he’s traveling from near said West Jungle. Crossing mountains to get from Kanthor to Arolanit in any event entails a continental disaster worthy of Odysseus.

    If this is an epic continent-spanning rout, he could have been pushed all the way from the “high pools” lake country of central Seshnela (see GTG current p. 405) across the collapsing Middle Sea Empire and then *up* Dragon Pass — messing stuff up along the way — but while extremely awesome and dramatic it’s just vanishingly unlikely. It would also have to be before the Dragonkill, which makes him *too* old for my tastes. (Never happy about the 1050 date on his immortality but if I see a still-canonical reference I’ll accept it.)

    The unnamed lakes of the Wonder Wood on the north face of the Mislari may be too far away from the “West Jungle” to qualify as our high pools but are still part of the great SW elf belt and would give him a straight shot toward Top of the World and some rumored northern passage. Why not? Either way, Jack would live a little north of haunted Kartolin, which is nice, Dorastor being the womb of monsters and such, and now we just need to figure out who the Pandarians were and what went so terribly wrong at the pools.

    Did he ever reach the Arrolian properties? The text doesn’t say. It would be nice to make them a sort of El Dorado for him, a goal he tries decades or centuries in vain to reach. This would be a good way to remove him from history for awhile, replacing a long Hell interlude as he wanders without pause. Was he still trying to reach Arrolia when he crossed the Mislari? If so, for all reasonable interpretations of “a century ago” the Ban was in effect and Fronela was absolutely unreachable. Maybe that’s what drove him to Hell as a final desperate workaround. When he gave up on Arrolia, the horses went black.

    Do we want to make his entire pre-Hell career (Volumes III-VIII) into this kind of mounted ancient mariner epic? Maybe. He can have plenty of adventures along the way, be instrumental in the rise and fall of realms, mess stuff up, search endlessly for El Dorado. It gives his story gravitas. (Although if Greg was really thinking in this direction he probably would have told us!)

    Whatever we conclude, taking him seriously as a Heroquester (Kaelith?) makes it trickier to take the History at face value. The whole thing may be a complex allegory — didn’t the old BHT keywords turn it into a grimoire?

    As always, YGV, I am but an egg.

    So what are you all finding in these pages?

    #7071
    Profile photo of Charles
    Charles
    Keymaster

    To me, there are several insights that I’m enjoying.

    • Many hints that what ‘in the present’ are different species were originally largely undifferentiated, then became tribes and later became fully separated into species. Even the dragon men. But, maybe possibly, not the Uz!
    • Conversely, the origins of the Orlanthi are way more complex than the Orlanthi believe and there are few, if any, ‘original’ or ‘pure’ Orlanthi people. Many Hsunchen seem to have lost their deep animal connections to become regular Orlanthi and other humans.
    • In particular, I love the idea that Lhankor Mhy and his people were previously Wizards that were separated from the rest of the Malkioni and put their allegiance with Orlanth or Vingkot and their people. I suspect that Issaries came from another culture too, but haven’t worked out the details. And we already knew that Chalana Arroy came from the Solar culture.
    #7072
    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe
    Spectator

    The most arresting bit for me is the confirmation of the old bit from the Genertela box that Ethilrist was merely a heroic mercenary captain a century ago

    There’s always the possibility that the material was cut and pasted and slipped through the editing process. So I looked elsewhere from the Guide:

    p160 Ethilrist met Strombos at the entrance of the Nidan Mountains where he made his descent.

    p168 He burned Dunstop after 30 years of loyal service to the Lunar Empire.

    p177 He has “epic experience and great age”

    p361 and 397, the crossing of the Mislari Mountains over a century ago.

    The standard story in the RuneQuest companion was that his experience with Hungry Jack while crossing some mountains. He has been driven out of the High Pools near the West Jungle and was attempting to cross the Rockwood Mountains to reach the Arrolian Properties.

    Part of the problem is that when this was written, Greg was almost certainly using this map:

    http://www.glorantha.com/this-isnt-going-into-the-guide-but-is-presented-to-show-how-much-gloranthan-geography-has-evolved/

    Which has the West Jungle and the Arrolian Properties but no Mislari Mountains nor Ralios. Hence I now believe the episode recounted in the RuneQuest Companion is the heroic crossing of the Mislari Mountains. The harrowing of Hell is a separate event and reached somewhere in the Nidan Mountains where he met Strombos.

    The West Jungle could be the Arstola Forest and a possible location for the High Pools is the Hundred Lakes west of Storm Mountain (guide p361). We know there was a battle at High Pools there and Ethilrist was driven out. This implies a human place which rules out IMO Wonderwood or Kanthor’s Isles.

    So I think Ethilrist crossed the Mislari from the south between 1480 and 1520 ST say. He finds himself in Ralios, has a few adventures there before going to Hell via the Nidan Mountains

    Ethilrist goes to Hell and comes out with the Black Horse Troop as per the Draft Appendix (which is from the RuneQuest Companion). Now when he comes out (Volume VII and VIII), one of the people he has dealings with is Tarkalor. So Ethilrist must have come out of Hell when Tarkalor was alive (or even before he was king). His sacking of Dunstop would in my mind have been before Phargentes seized it by force (Guide p182) so his freedom would have been between 1555 ST and 1579 ST. He could have sacked it afterwards, true, but then people would remember the sacking of Dunstop rather than its seizure by Phargentes.

    If Ethilrist went to Nida and came out in the Arrolian territories, then we have a problem. Ethilrist had 30 years of service with the Lunar Empire but Arrolia was under the Ban at the time and the earliest period in which he could have entered service was 1589 ST (the liberation of Eastpoint) which brings his freedom (and sacking of Dunstop) an untenable to 1619 ST. A possibility might instead be that Lunar Empire once used the Black Horse Troop to enter the Ban in a failed attempt to reach the Arrolians.

    The thing that irks me the most in the old material is how the gift of Black Horse Country is said to have been an “illegal grant”. Dude, he’s the Red Emperor. Whatever he decides is automatically lawful. The Guide amends this to the Emperor had no claim which is somewhat better but still falls short in that any true world-aspiring Emperor would never admit that there was any stretch of glorantha which he did not claim.

    #7073
    Profile photo of Scott Martin
    Scott Martin
    Spectator
    Quote:
    Quote from Peter Metcalfe on March 9, 2014, 03:37
    There’s always the possibility that the material was cut and pasted and slipped through the editing process.

    I thought this too, but the point was raised then, so is apparently intentional!

    [good stuff]

    Quote:
    So I think Ethilrist crossed the Mislari from the south between 1480 and 1520 ST say. He finds himself in Ralios, has a few adventures there before going to Hell via the Nidan Mountains.

    Works for me if we’re happy with the reference to this happening in mid- to late Volume III. Otherwise the nominal time scale shifts dramatically from his entire pre-Mislari career (exactly 210 pages covering everything up to the earliest theoretical “over a century” Mislari start date of 1480) to the Mislari-to-Hell period (about 2-1/3 volumes, maybe 760 pages to cover 45 to 69 years to get the “30 years” Lunar dates to line up with Dunstop and get him into imperial service by 1549 at the very, very latest) and then the laconic century after emerging from Hell (VII and VIII, maybe 650 pages covering no more than 100 years).

    So how many years did he pack into those 210 pages of III? Granted a trip to the underworld will change anyone’s writing style, but unless his pre-Mislari career was relatively uneventful we shouldn’t expect to see a dramatic change in pacing pre- and post-Mislari — and the text implies a certain well-earned arrogance at that point so these were probably action-packed years. For now, say pre- and post-Mislari periods were roughly equally eventful.

    The longest window for Mislari-to-Hell (1480 to 1549) yields a little under 11 pages a year. The shortest (1520 to 1525) would stretch each year into a verbose 152 pages. Either way, the math implies maybe 19 years at the most for the pre-Mislari career, which would have him leaving home no earlier than 1460 or so.

    (All calculations assuming established average per-volume pagination of 324. Actual pagination undoubtedly varies. A rough pre-Hell pace of 15 pages a year incidentally works for Volume II, getting him out of the house at age 21 in a relatively “average” 315-page text and giving him a rough birth date around 1440.)

    These numbers work for me. He ends up a few decades older than Harrek in absolute terms and could have seen pre-Ban Fronela and other sights. In 1625 he will be about 185 years old and will have been fighting for 16 decades or so.

    This challenges his emergence from Hell and subsequent imperial service start date of 1507 (Nights of Horror) but I don’t know if that was ever more canonical than the BHT keywords anyway. Thirty years before Dunstop seems more authoritative, although he might spend some time wandering post-Hell and pre-empire — in which case VII/VIII needs to stretch a few more years into their covers and III/V compresses even further. (And if Hell comes *during* imperial service, III/V recovers a few years from VII/VIII and we can push out the pre-Mislari by maybe 5-7 years as well.)

    It also challenges the notion that he fought live God Learners, since it’s unclear how many of them are still around in Western Genertela (or anywhere) 400+ years after the destruction of Old Seshnela and Jrustela. (This start date also rules out my hypothesis that the “high pools” were the Seshnelan lakes, since they ain’t there no more post-1049.)

    Finally, it challenges the notion that he is an ancient badass who remembers the imperial age. For all this to work out, he is actually *at least* 200 years younger than the Lunar Empire, contemporaneous with Hon-Eel and coming closer to the *end* of the “Later Classic Demi-Birth Period.”

    Of course the History might have a more complex structure and involve a lot of telescoping around with flashbacks, digressions and so on to allow for a longer pre-Mislari career and a more ancient knight. But the way the text is described in RQC and GTG makes me think we’re dealing with less of a Herodotan ramble and more of a Julian chronicle.

    What is clear is that we no longer have room to interpolate a lengthy season in Hell into the timeline because we only have a century or so to work with between late III and the Gloranthan present, barring reincarnation (“I’m not the first Sir Ethilrist!”) or other bizarre scenarios.

    #7074
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster

    The dates in the Guide that give tantalizing hints regarding Ethilrist’s career are correct. Greg and I did a lot of work on Ethilrist, using his older writings he had written about Ethilrist back in the late 70s and early 80s as the foundation. A few comments:

    Ethilrist does not personally remember the Imperial Age and he never fought live God Learners. Nor did he fight at the Nights of Horror. He has adventured across Ralios, Maniria, Dragon Pass, and Peloria, and tried to break the Syndics Ban (but failed). Ethilrist crossed the Misarli Mountains over a century ago, at the time merely a heroic mercenary captain called Lord of the White Horse Troop. His trip into the Underworld was some years after the crossing.
    He received Black Horse Country later than you might think and sacked Dunstop a few years before Starbrow’s Rebellion (it was soon after returned to Moirades along with a new contract to pay Ethilrist to not attach Tarsh – this sort of thing was astonishingly common with condotierrie captains). During the Hero Wars, he fought on all sides at one time or another.
    Ethilrist’s story in the Hero Wars appendix is one of Greg and my personal favorites in the book, and loaded with little snippets about the Hero Wars.

    #7075
    Profile photo of Scott Martin
    Scott Martin
    Spectator
    Quote:
    Quote from Jeff Richard on March 9, 2014, 06:33
    The dates in the Guide that give tantalizing hints regarding Ethilrist’s career are correct. Greg and I did a lot of work on Ethilrist, using his older writings he had written about Ethilrist back in the late 70s and early 80s as the foundation.

    Awesome! That’s what was driving me batty: the apparent contradictions between what has emerged over the years and what the Mislari crossing entails. Thanks!! Good to see the antihero come into his own.

    #7076
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster

    Oh after writing the Guide, Ethilrist is definitely one of my favorite Gloranthan figures. And his History of My Black Horse Troop is erratic, focusing on whatever interested him (including lengthy panegyrics about himself),

    #7077
    Profile photo of Jonathan Geere
    Jonathan Geere
    Spectator

    Absolutely mind-boggling depth held within the Guide. I’m glad I never had this when I was younger: I would of never have passed any exams.

    Thinking about that. There must be someway you can do a Gloranthan Degree at a Californian Uni. Just have to get the Gloranthan Luminaries to do some lectures and with the Guide, Canon books and the forthcoming GoG you’ve got it sorted.

    Sorry, somewhat off topic but it can blow away your SAN and drives you to a gibbering wreck.

    #7078
    Profile photo of Scott Martin
    Scott Martin
    Spectator
    Quote:
    Quote from Jonathan Geere on March 9, 2014, 08:24
    Thinking about that. There must be someway you can do a Gloranthan Degree at a Californian Uni. Just have to get the Gloranthan Luminaries to do some lectures and with the Guide, Canon books and the forthcoming GoG you’ve got it sorted.

    It worked for Bonewits. . .

    Some bright person could probably do a thesis or dissertation on how the setting’s development reflects shifting historical concerns and media consumption patterns or how the setting itself interacts with various trends in mythological scholarship. The evolution of what we might call hardcore “digest” fandom also has pretty deep parallels to the formation of religious groups, although in a mostly secular format.

    A bit of a tangent on a tangent but I’ve been thinking for a while that a paper situating Greg’s hippie Arthurian production within the larger current of modern reinterpretation would be extremely interesting and even useful.

    #7079
    Profile photo of Scott Martin
    Scott Martin
    Spectator
    Quote:
    Quote from Charles Corrigan on March 9, 2014, 02:55
    [*]In particular, I love the idea that Lhankor Mhy and his people were previously Wizards that were separated from the rest of the Malkioni and put their allegiance with Orlanth or Vingkot and their people. I suspect that Issaries came from another culture too, but haven’t worked out the details. And we already knew that Chalana Arroy came from the Solar culture.

    Heh. I thought they picked her up from the Hrelar Amali complex where she was crying for “Arroin!” 🙂

    But seriously this is one of the things I love too. Fans who spent decades building a coherent view of the Gloranthan present now have enough to work with that the deep source digs can unearth even more interesting loot. So many pop fantasy worlds are anthropologically sterile, static snapshots of the tribes and nations at a particular moment in time. Glorantha is a moving target, with the cultural equivalent of active geological plates constantly refreshing the geography. Or less like photography and more like music, with chords that naturally progress in certain ways.

    It’s a big adventure.

    #7080
    Profile photo of Martin Helsdon
    Martin Helsdon
    Spectator
    Quote:
    In particular, I love the idea that Lhankor Mhy and his people were previously Wizards that were separated from the rest of the Malkioni and put their allegiance with Orlanth or Vingkot and their people. I suspect that Issaries came from another culture too, but haven’t worked out the details. And we already knew that Chalana Arroy came from the Solar culture.

    There are snippets related to this in The Coming Storm.

    #7083
    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe
    Spectator

    I probably missed this but what’s the text in the guide that suggests Lhankor Mhy and his people were originally Malkioni?

    #7084
    Profile photo of Charles
    Charles
    Keymaster

    It is never stated, it’s my interpretation of many different items, each of which is innocuous by itself. I’ll admit that some of the hints come from King of Sartar and Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes.

    #7085
    Profile photo of Jeff Richard
    Jeff Richard
    Keymaster

    The Guide is quite carefully written to support multiple, and often contradictory, interpretations of such things. I’m personally fond of the theory I once heard that there is a connection between Golden Age Buserian and Storm Age Lhankor Mhy (perhaps that LM had been a follower of Buserian, but was outlawed by Yelm or fled the Solar Empire after the death of the Emperor). Of course that theory may be false or only partially true as well.

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