Friday, 19 May 2017

Reassessing the Ovosto Dynasty

Part 2 of the Realist Papers
Reassessing the Ovosto Dynasty
As I discussed previously, the murder of Muharzarm was an actual period of warfare, involving the assassination of Emperor Murharzarm. I described it as involving a siege, which some of my fellows took umbrage at, claiming there would be evidence of such a thing.
To this I reply to merely look at the evidence again. In this case we must look to his immediate successor, Emperor Khorventos.
During his reign it is mentioned that the land of Dara Happa was besieged by the followers of the Rebel Gods, invading the cities and plundering what they could. Given my earlier discussion on the role of these Rebel Gods as representations of their peoples, we can conclude that this is a continuation of the same invasion which led to the death of Murharzarm.
Khorventos' reign would have thus been over a empire of one city, barricaded within Yuthubars while the great Empire started to fragment.
It is during this time that the Ovostans rise.
Khorventos and his successor Dendeneus are both recorded in legends as trading away the Imperial Treasures for food, specifically with Ovosto. Because of the foreign armies, this would have had to have taken place in Yuthubars.

The purported Death Mask of Ovosto
Ovosto is described as a child of Gerendetho, and as coming from the Jord Mountains. His government of the mythical city of Senthoros was described as misrule and he himself a Lodrilite, and thus not of noble birth. As such, his original occupation was likely that of dry farmer.
Here we have a peasant, given some measure of political power (his description of having governed Senthoros is likely a myth, given no trace of that city has ever been found) found within Yuthubars when there was no food. He was able to get some, and even provided for the Emperor in exchange for Imperial Treasures.
His seizure of power occurs after Khorventos' death, when his heir seeks the Imperial Treasures. Instead Ovosto uses them to become Emperor.
When Emperor he performs several actions described by Plentonius: he opens up the cities, letting his friends loot the nobles goods; he forced the nobility to mingle with the commoners; he made deals with those who came to invade Dara Happa and shared dinner with them.

I hold that Ovosto was a smuggler, bringing food into the city despite the besieging armies. He profited from this, and provided food to both the rich and poor. When the Emperor died, he seizes power, likely through a popular uprising by the hungry masses. (Their hue and cry are the origin of the howling found in the Ovosto Rites)
After this, he creates peace with the invaders, breaking the siege but giving up much of the riches of the nobility.
Without their riches, the nobility are reduced to living as commoners, working for a living. In this way, he created a new peace for Dara Happa, although one which was undesirable for the nobility.

Ovosto's death has been blamed on choking by a fish from Karasal. This was also where he had banished his rival, Dendeneus, making this an early form of assassination, like the dart wars which are conducted amongst our great Empire to this day.
Karasa and Orogoros, in the Navarian style of the Storm Age

Ovosto's successor, Orogoros was said to have been the son of Ovosto and the goddess of Karasal. He is also said to have come from near Mount Jernotius which lies relatively nearby. This origin points to the infamous lands of Darsen and Naveria, ancient lands of Karasal. He is commonly associated with a snake, also said to have been his father's spirit. This points to a connection with the hills' chthonic serpent cults, such as BernEel Arashagern or Ursturburn. These are ecstatic cults of life, in the form of a serpent (which also bears a connection to the progenitive organ of males. Something despaired at by more prudish Dara Happans)

Orogoros is famed for his iniquity. The Glorious Reascent of Yelm includes a tale of how he makes the people of Dara Happa bare their head and feet -- an obvious Dara Happan euphemism for the progenitive parts. He is similarly recorded as banning incest, prohibiting the Dara Happan tradition of ensuring that divine blood is not diluted by inter-family marriages.
The claim that Orogoros is the child of Ovosto is a spurious one. He has little in common with his supposed father, and dwelled in a separate realm. The claim of kinship is a way of covering up the truth.

During the reign of Orogoros, Dara Happa was ruled by foreign powers, the realms of Karasal, Naveria, and Darsen were the heartland of this kingdom, ruled by the serpent-worshipping King Orogoros. The iniquities and sins appointed to Orogoros are in fact the Lodrilli rites and traditions, vilified by later Dara Happans who seek to ignore this foreignness.

Orogoros' death is given in several different ways. His reign is said to end in the great Deluge of Anaxial, and sometimes he is said to have drowned in the flood itself. But the most important account of his death is in the Glorious Reascent of Yelm. Here he is described as being slain by Avivorus using the Sunspear.
The Sunspear is the divine weapon used later to slay another evil Emperor. And is almost certainly a justification for an uprising, for if Antirius blesses the action, how can it be wrong?

After Orogoros, came the reign of Oravinos.
This Emperor is only found in the Unity and Yelmgatha's Lists. He is described as an orchard god, and as the enemy of the bear. This bear is likely a reference to Arakang, the bear god of western Peloria. His feud with Oravinos is likely the same story as that which is told on the Gods Wall, the fight over the Yarm Tree. This figure is commonly said to be Orypsus, god of pleasure.
Because of this, Oravinos is likely the original figure behind the mythology of Orypsus. A former Emperor who is remembered only as a god of wine and plenty.

But this speaks of an even greater revelation. Arakang is likely a stand in for Western Peloria, the Kingdom of Orogoros. Oravinos, far from being his successor, is his usurper. This is the point where Dara Happa reclaims its independence from its occupiers, and becomes its own nation once again.

This Dynasty ends with the Deluge of Anaxial, the legendary flood which is said to have wiped away all that was unclean, and the return to righteous Emperors. But its legacy remains in several ways:
  • First, there are the Ovosto Rites, used over the centuries to become Emperor through popular approval, rather than by imperial descent.
  • Second, we see the great truism of the Dara Happans, that they would prefer to remember an unjust Emperor, than a foreign tyrant.
  • Finally, that even commoners can become Emperor. And that if necessary, Imperial Descent can be found.

But make no mistake, I do not write this to condemn the Ovostans, but instead to show what they can teach us about the truth behind the myths. That when we ignore the mortal origins, we miss out on the great history of our Empire.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Rise and Fall of the Vingkotlings

Part 1 of the Realist Papers

The Realist Papers are a blasphemous text kept in the Mirin's Cross knowledge temple. Other copies are said to lurk across the Lunar Empire.
The texts are the work of an Occluded sorcerer named Ormaliol the Denier, a former Sylilan scholar who became part of the perverse Dara Happan sect known as the Mundanists. These sorcerers claim that the gods were nothing more than humans, and that their miracles have a simple, and usually mundane origin. As such, they are not welcome in any land, and must hide their existence.
The Realist Papers would ordinarily be destroyed, but by the grace of the Red Goddess, the works of Illuminates are granted dispensation, and even heretical and blasphemous works are worthy of record -- even if simply to learn from their errors.

The Rise and Fall of the Vingkotlings - A reassessment on the Antediluvian Era

Conventional lore holds the opinion that Orlanth was a divine being, born from the winds and mountains themselves, and that Vingkot was his half-mortal son, who led Orlanth's people during the later Storm Age period of myth.
It is this scholar's assessment that they are in fact the same being, with Orlanth being a deification of Vingkot.

Many of my readers will ask how this can be so, when Vingkot only ruled after the flood? I would argue this fact, for maps from Second Age Heroquesters of the Early Storm Age show the Vingkotlings as a rising power when the sky was orange, before the rise of the waters. As well as this; Plentonius' great work, the Glorious Reascent of Yelm, describes Vinakotal the Barbarian as one of the rebel gods who united to bring down the sun. Other myths speak of Vingkot leading his people during the great Downward Migration from the Spike.

Vingkot was likely already an established ruler during this period.

Using this assumption, we can then take the established details of Vingkot's history, and determine the likely events of his reign.
Sylilan Bear vessel, showing Pelandan influence

Vingkot's first great deed as king was to defeat the Sky Bear, who interrupted his kingship rites. The Sky Bear is the title of Odayla, the Orlanthi god of bears and hunting, making this an obvious reference to the god; or more likely his people, the Sylilans.

Of note, in northern Aggar there is a peak known as Bear Mountain as part of the Autumn Mountain chain. This is sacred to the Sylilan bear god, and the Heortlings know of it as part of the gods' wall.

This is presumably the story of an invasion by the Odaylans to the north, who try to claim Vingkot's lands for their own. They are pushed back, and the invasion halted, proving the Vingkotling's right to existence. The Autumn Mountains become the border between the Sylilans to the north, and the Vingkotlings to the south.

After his northern border was secure, we then come to the matter of the south.

The Vingkotlings are said to have been one of three great tribes, one of the others being the Durevings. These were a peaceful agrarian people who worshipped a great earth goddess. They dwelled to the south of the Vingkotlings in a land named Envorela.

They would make useful allies for Vingkot.

Sources imported from Esrolia have described Orlanth's conquest of their mythic ancestors, who would be the Durevings (Although they call them Oraneo. The mythologies I have acquired also refer to Durev and Orane as husband and wife.)

These texts describe Kodig, who is elsewhere recorded as a son of Vingkot, attempting to invade Envorela's great city of Nochet, and when turned back calling upon his god Orlanth to do it. After destroying the defenders, Orlanth marries Ernalda, and a house is built to the god within Nochet. In comparison, the Heortling texts instead describe this as far more peaceable, but with them ruling Nochet.

While I have never visited that city, I have talked to traders who have. Their descriptions of Orlanth's house (called Storm Hill) fit with those Vingkotling hill forts I have seen. It is not too great a leap to imagine that Storm Hill is in fact a citadel, likely built there after the Durevings and Vingkotlings were united.

The Marriage of Vingkot and the Queen of Envorela (or his Summer Wife, or Ernalda) is a marriage of political convenience. It provides the right for Vingkot to take control of the Durevings, bringing them into his empire, and to build his hill fort as a citadel. It provides the Durevings with safety and protectors.

Astute readers may recall I mentioned three great tribes, but have only described two.

The third were known as the Helerings, and their history is one of great interest, even to the Pelorians.

At first, this tribe seems to have been an enemy of the Vingkotlings and Durevings, raiding their southern shores. They were a littoral people, ranging up and down the coasts on their great boats, and worshipping all number of sea entities. These include a great sea dragon known as Heler or Aroka.

Jrusteli depiction of Orlanth slaying Aroka and freeing Heler
The Helerings fought many battles against the Vingkotlings, but eventually peace was created. The circumstances of this varies by story. Some tell of a great battle known as Trembling Shore, where Vingkot slew their god. Others tell of the same battle, but instead Orlanth and Heler sat down to talk and negotiate peace. The most common tell of Orlanth slaying the great dragon Aroka and freeing Heler.

In either case, peace came between the two peoples, and the Helerings became part of Vingkot's empire.

But the stories do not end there. It is mentioned that after slaying Aroka, Orlanth sent part of it north to attack his enemies. We know of this serpent as Oslira.

What does this mean? It is this scholar's opinion that in the creation of peace, many the Helerings were assigned land which was not Vingkot's to give. He gave them the lands of his enemies and sent them north.

This matches up with Oslira' invasion of Dara Happa. She was tamed by the Emperor and  made to serve the Empire. In other words, the Helerings invade the Dara Happans, but are defeated.

The Helerings are therefore the ancestors of the Weeders and Feathered Boat people, who have long been slaves or servants to the Dara Happans.

This brings us back to the Dara Happan myth of the rebel gods, and what was one of the most influential periods of Vingkotling and Dara Happan histories.
Dara Happan Depiction of a Vingkotling

At this point, the Dara Happan and Vingkotling Empires (actually the latter was more of an amphictyony, see my forthcoming manuscript on the subject) were the predominant states of the age. With the Helering invasion having taken place, the two states were uneasy and needed little other reason for war.

What is seen as a conspiracy of various deities is in fact a series of wars. The inclusion of Sedenya the Changer indicates that Mernita rebelled against the rule of the Emperor, and likewise Kargzant's presence suggests that Nivorah had also broken away. Combined with the Naverian myth of the First Bad King (a concealed reference to Yelm) we can see the peaceful myth of the Golden Age as the fiction that it is.

With Dara Happa torn apart from within, it would be relatively easy for a barbarian army to invade, and further fragment the Empire.

Vingkot and his forces would lay siege to the Emperor's great city (recorded as Yuthubars) and eventually an attack would slay the Emperor, setting in motion the rise of the Ovosto Dynasty.

Glutted with the treasures of the Empire, Vingkot returned home. But this victory had given rise to his personal fall. His realm had become too great.

After Vingkot's death at the hands of the Devil, the Vingkotling Empire started to crumble into several smaller kingdoms. One in the south, and one in the north.

The sothern kingdom, the Kodigvarings, consisted of a Vingkotling nobility ruling over an increasingly turbulent Dureving subclass. As their kings became increasingly tyrannical, many smaller realms broke off. In Esrolia, for example, Kodig Vingkotson is remembered as the paragon of unjust rulers.

In the northern kingdom absorbed many of its former enemies; most notably the Nivorahns, fleeing from the collapsing Dara Happans. The Sylilans also joined this kingdom, which is most often called the Berenethteli, after the most important tribe within it. The Berenethteli became a stronghold of foreign gods, such as Elmalus, Odayla, and Oria.

In the end, neither kingdom lasted long, being brought down by their own hubris. They fractured still further, with new kingdoms and tribes forming. Thus did Vingkot's empire rise on his greatness, and fall by it too.

Monday, 6 March 2017

The House of Black Arkat

Mythos and History
When Arkat Liberated the Shadowlands, he revealed many previously unknown secrets.
Most could not grasp them, and viewed them as simply another facet of Arkat's greatness, but a few could understand what Arkat spoke of, and wanted to learn more.
Arkat brought these worthies together, both Uz and Man, and taught them the true nature of the cosmos.
All existence was born from the great darkness, Xentha, who is the mother of all. Here, everything was bliss: the Earth was nurturing, soft and warm; there was no hunger, pain, or strife.
And then came the Deceiver, Gbaji.
Arkat depicted as a Half-Troll
Arkat declared that Gbaji was known by many masks: Evil Emperor, Teller of Lies, Most Bad Man, and now Nysalor.
Gbaji was all that Xentha was not, he was still, barren, bright, hard and hollow. And he envied Xentha. He declared all that Xentha was as wrong, and that he was the only right. He led many of Xentha's children away, into a world of pain, sorrow, and harshness.
Arkat's followers were shocked to discover this was the world they now lived in.
Those who did not flee in horror, were taught by Arkat how they could manipulate this world of Gbaji, to break his deceptions and reveal the truth. He showed how everything was made from the raw darkness, allowing them to turn earth to air, and air to water, for all was originally darkness.
When Arkat went north, to take the fight to Gbaji, many of his followers remained, to teach the truth to those who would listen.
They wrote down his teachings, and kept them in a great temple they named Arkat's Hold after their teacher, and so in turn they became known as the House of Black Arkat.
Here they have remained.
Even when the God Learners invaded, they were never able to breach the walls of Arkat's Hold, and when they fell, the House of Black Arkat was opened once again.

Nature of the House
Arkat was the greatest hero ever to walk Glorantha. He was many things in his lifetime. Man, troll, knight, berserker, liberator, deceiver, king and devil. He betrayed his closest friends and allies in order to save the world.
His followers are sorcerers, mystics, and scholars.

Particular Likes and Dislikes
The House's oldest and greatest allies are the cults of darkness, especially the cults of Argan Argar -- who came before Arkat and was Xentha's son, and Zorak Zoran -- who is one of the greatest enemies of Chaos. The House is also friendly to most Esrolian cults, if for no other reason than to ensure the sanctity of Arkat's Hold.
The House is usually reviled by cults of light and sky, who view Arkat's message as blasphemy. Likewise, the House treats them with disdain, viewing them as those most wrapped up in Gbaji's Deceptions. Only against the cults of Chaos will the Arkati willingly ally with those who follow the sun.

House Organization
The House has no single authority. Each Mage has effective independence from the others, students are free to listen to whichever Mage they wish. The wizards of the House in truth have only one master, Arkat himself.
Unknown to most Gloranthans, a single chapter of the House has been established deep within the Troll Woods in Heortland. Here the near-human Kitori learn the Arkati arts, at the feet of a displaced Arkati Mage.

Holy Days
The House has no specific holy days or nights, but the cult acknowledges Freezeday as a naturally potent time to perform many of their rituals.

Sample Grimoires
The House of Black Arkat holds within its libraries many different ancient texts written by a multitude of sources, including the followers of Arkat, and even the Great Hero himself. Few Arkati will know even half of the hidden lore kept within their walls, but this pair of grimoires are those most commonly used by sorcerers of the House of Black Arkat:

The Lead Grimoire
This grimoire describes the metal of darkness, the bones of Xentha, the material form of the Darkness Rune, which was used to make the foundation of the world. By studying this grimoire, sorcerers can learn how to manipulate this substance, as well as the raw darkness itself. Sample spells include:
  • Enchant Lead: This spell summons the Darkness Rune to fill a leaden object, cleansing it of impurities, and turning it into enchanted form of the Rune Metal.
  • Project Senses: This spell combines the Darkness Rune with the Truth Rune, allowing the sorcerer to send their senses into a patch of shadow, allowing them to see and hear everything as if they were inside the shadows.
  • Sense Lead: This spell commands the Darkness Rune within all nearby sources of lead to make themselves known. The sorcerer can then find the lead through the supernatural inky patches created.
  • Shape Lead: This spell combines the Darkness Rune within lead with the Movement Rune, allowing the sorcerer to mould and form the metal is if it were clay, and then to set it into a new shape.
  • Solidify Darkness: This spell combines the Darkness Rune within a patch of shadow with the Stasis Rune, allowing the sorcerer to touch and manipulate the shadows as if they were a solid object.
  • Summon Shade: This spell summons the Darkness Rune into a shadow, animating it to perform the sorcerer's will.

The Hepherones Texts
This series of first age Rinliddi scrolls predates Arkat, and is said to have been war booty gained during his invasion of Peloria. The texts were cleansed, purified, and examined for Truth. The resulting documents and exegesis form a grimoire that the Arkati use to manipulate the connection between the Middle World and the Other Side. Spells derived from the text include:
  • Dominate Spirit: This spell commands the Magic Rune within a spirit, allowing the sorcerer to give it irresistible commands.
  • Enhance Spirit: This spell summons the Magic Rune into a spirit, strengthening and reinforcing them, granting them temporary extra power.
  • Mystic Vision: This spell combines the sorcerer's Magic Rune with the Truth Rune, connecting the sorcerer's own connection with the Other Side, allowing them to sense the magical abilities of living creatures and objects.
  • Neutralize Magic: This spell dismisses the Magic Rune within an existing spell or other magical effect, cutting off its connection with the Other Side, and causing it to fail.
  • Protective Circle: This spell combines the Magic Rune with the Stasis Rune, creating an invisible, intangible wall around the sorcerer. This wall resists all magic passing one way or another, creating a sanctuary for the sorcerer.
  • Summon Spirit: This spell summons the Magic Rune, creating a connection with a known and named spirit, allowing the sorcerer to call them into the world.

Although they would never use the term themselves, the House of Black Arkat is also a source of Illumination. Arkat's teachings of the original cosmos, before Gbaji's separation, provides the mystical awakening similar to Nysalorian Illumination. The House of Black Arkat prefers the terms gnosis, or wisdom, to refer to this state.
This allows members of the House to do many things others would regard as impossible, including uniting opposing powers and elements (as all things are merely a part of the original darkness; and joining cults normally opposed to each other, such as Argan Argar and Veskarthan (for the Illuminate knows that their feud is nothing before the cosmic truths.)
Most members who become Illuminated do so through their Darkness Rune, but other paths have occasionally occurred.

Esrolian Arkati, meditating on the Gods' War through the wisdom of Arkat.

A member of the House of Black Arkat with a rating of 11W or more in one of his grimoires, who has also become Illuminated may seek to become a Mage of the House.
Mages of the House of Black Arkat otherwise function as per the rules in HeroQuest: Glorantha, page 174.
Few Mages ever leave the walls of Arkat's Hold via its gates. Most spend their time in meditation and education, teaching the less learned of Arkat's secrets.
When they do leave Arkat's Hold, it is usually only to venture to the Other Side, to thwart Gbaji's deception and to seek the original world.
With the coming of the Hero Wars, this state of affairs will not be able to last, and the Mages of Arkat will be forced to refute Gbaji's deceptions directly.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Underworld

This text comes from a God Learner treatise on the Underworld, found in a Lhankor Mhy knowledge temple.
It represents one school of thought during the time, and is a useful illustration of the God Learner's attempts to apply logic to the illogical.
Scholia from an unknown third age commentator has been reproduced as footnotes.

The Underworld, as it has been labelled by others, is one of the least understood fragments of the Invisible Measure 1. Common depiction of it has been a network of caverns deep beneath Glorantha's surface, or as a hemisphere to complete the Sky Dome above, but deeper Jrusteli research 2 has proven that the Underworld is in fact an inverted pyramid or cone, descending from the Mortal World, into the depths 3.

The top-most layer of the Underworld is that part just under the surface of the Material World, the natural caverns of stone 4. These caverns were created by all manner of creatures including dwarves, trolls, and worse monstrosities. There is no god of this layer, but instead many petty tyrants war for dominance.

Beneath this lies Gamataler, the portion of the Underworld which lies on the Magic Plane 5. This is the earthly Underworld, deep within the Cube of Gata which floats in the endless ocean. Here many demigods and heroes dwell, living lives of plenty within cavernous realms. It is ruled by Asrelia 6.

On the borders of Gamataler lie the Lands of the Dead. Here is where the souls of the dead end up, all travelling towards a great necropolis in the centre. They pass by many horrors, as demons attempt to stop their passage towards the city of the dead. Within the city lies the Court of Silence, where Grandfather Mortal and Ty Kora Tek sit to judge each soul that passes through their realm, before leading them to their eventual destiny 7.

Under the Lands of the Dead lies the Deep Underworld, untouched by Light. It is located on the Symbolic Plane 8, for here is a world not of matter, but of pure energy. The Deep Underworld is the largest part, descending from the Lands of the Dead, until it reaches the final point of Darkness. The trolls are said to have come from this realm of perpetual gloom, and it is their goddess Kyger Litor 9 who rules it 10.

The Deep Underworld is surrounded by the Black Ocean, where the waters of Glorantha meet the depths beneath. She has many names but is most commonly just called Styx. Sometimes pictured as a lake, river, or pool; the Styx can take many forms, and is sometimes made of liquids unknown on the surface.

Beneath the Deep Underworld lies the singular point of Darkness. This is the pure Runic form of the element, without substance, form, or will. It is also known as Nakala 11.

Beyond Nakala, and the rest of the Underworld put together, lies the Entropy Pit, also called Hell. This is a place of pain and suffering, where the demons of Chaos dwell. They know of no mercy, no kindness; living only to torment others. No God Learner has ever journeyed here and returned 12.

1 This is an old God Learner name for the Other Side.

2 The infamous Runic Vision? An early expedition by the Outer Atomic Explorers? Or simple conjecture passed off as irrefutable fact?

3 The fact this would resemble the Rune of Logic, and the importance of that rune to the God Learners leads me to believe this is simply wishful thinking.

4 Known by the Dara Happans as Dubgrulub, this is in truth not a part of the Underworld, for it does not leave the Inner World, just as flight does not mean you are a part of the sky world.

5 Better known as the Hero Planes or Spirit World.

6 The Dara Happans call this layer Veskerelgat

7 Known as Voshgatyuth to the Dara Happans, they claim the judges here are either Lodril and Ernalda, or the dead Yelm. We know they are in fact Darhudan and Darhudana, the father and mother of all men.

8 The God World.

9 Also known as Deloradella, she is a fierce enemy and rare ally to Orlanth.

10 The Dara Happans do not distinguish the Deep Underworld from the other, lower regions; calling it all Erskintu. This is easily explained by their enmity to the gods of Darkness, and the resultant lack of interest in their home.

11 Despite the God Learner's claims, this is Dame Darkness of the Celestial Court and her realm beneath the deepest darkness. She is the goddess of all the Underworld, and is often depicted as a great shadowy queen.

12 An obvious lie, since this is the Pit of Valkata and the Plateau of Ikadz above it. While hostile, many of our great heroes have recorded being there, often to rescue some poor damned soul.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Homeland: Vormain

Typical Vormaino Warrior garb
Vormaino Cultural Keyword
The Eternal Islands of Vormain are predominantly inhabited by pastoral farmers, ruled by feuding martial clans. Few peasants ever leave their ancestral lands, but the lower rank warriors will often become wandering mercenaries and adventurers; crossing Vormain to do great deeds and gain glory to increase their standing. Those warrior houses who descend from Emperors are known as the Imperial Aristocracy, and afforded with much respect, although they feud and fight as much as any other clan. Peasant farmers are not allowed to fight, but all other Vormaino are trained in the art of sword and spear; to serve their clans as fierce guardians.
Vormaino are short, with dark olive skin -- often with a ruddy complexion. Their hair ranges from brown, black, to red. Haircare is highly regarded, with each clan and mystic school having their own specialized techniques to clean and style their hair.  Foreigners commonly mistake the hair of Warriors and Peasants as being wild and untamed, not being aware of the many hours spent bristling and treating the hair to achieve such a look. In comparison, the Magician caste will often shave themselves entirely. Vormaino tattoo themselves with the runes and markings of their gods, clans, and mystic sects.
The Joserui are the gods and spirits of Vormain, the celestial ancestors who safeguarded Vormain against Nak and the other Anti-gods. Each of the great Joserui founded clans, whose ancestors still worship as their primary god, but all of Vormain worships the Joserui as a great imperial collective. Special priests known as Zenshin are trained from the Imperial Aristocracy, Warrior clans, and the Peasantry; ignoring their previous rank, they are seen as part of a Joserui's household, and are all equal in the eyes of the spirits.
The Vormaino speak a language called Imperial, which is related to both Kralorelan and the Tanyen trade dialect of the East Isles. Few Vormaino can read, with literacy being restricted to the Imperial Aristocracy and Zenshin.

Vormaino names reflect the importance of their clan of origin. All Vormano not of the Zenshin use their clan name, and then their personal name. For example: Jang Enrono.

Sample Clan Names: Bazhi, Githyo, Hairun, Hairunin, Hessa, Ho, Jan, Jang, Jayangar, Kanenaga, Kolmala, Kumanti, Loranaga, Mur, Sunda Kalapa, Surabaya

Sample Personal Names: Adara, Amam, Bogo, Brang, Daru, Enrono, Fen, Hensarava, Hin, Itagaki Jan, Jotomo, Kanamaru, Kuang, Kuyaku, Lun, Mado, Manusuko, Mevalu, Motoujo, Nombo Too, Vando, Vandero, Watha, Yimanu, Xersech, Xu

Sample Cult: Tskanth

Jayangar Nombo, Tskanth's favoured
Child of the wild waters and cold death, Tskanth is every bit as fierce as his parents. Tskanth was raised among the Barracuda servants of his mother, and did not even emerge from the ocean until his treacherous kinsmen flooded Vormain. Tskanth forswore his Anti-god heritage, and stood with his father to defend the islands. He took many brides and lovers, and fathered many clans of fierce warriors. He is now seen by outsiders as the god of piracy, for his clans are all sailors like their father; and see all who approach Vormain as enemies to be pillaged.
Death Rune: God of Rapacity and defender of Vormain's waters, Tskanth was trained by his father to be a warrior without mercy, giving him a connection to the Death Rune. His initiates can use the Death Rune to: aid victory in battle, fight with lightning speed, keep swords and spears sharp, and make leather and wooden armour as hard as bronze. Initiates strong in the Death Rune are vengeful and cruel.

Water Rune: Tskanth was raised by his mother the Sea Dragon, and from her he gains his connection to the Water Rune. Initiates of Tskanth can use the Water Rune to: becalm enemy ships, breath water, call and command barracudas, summon good sailing winds, and walk on water. Initiates strong in the Water Rune are energetic and proud.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Iron Dwarves

Iron Dwarf armed for exploring the surface.
Mythos and History
The Ancient Mostali were meant to create. They were designed to shape, to work and to help, all to keep the World Machine functioning. When the trolls, elves, and others invaded the Spike and destroyed Mostal the World Machine, the Mostali were at a loss. The concepts of death and destruction was alien to them. So how could they defend against them?
This was the riddle of Iron. How making can lead to destruction. They turned living metal into an instrument of death, which then allowed them to turn simple tools into weapons, and protective garments into armour plating. It also allowed them to create the Iron caste.
Without Mostal, they could not make more Ancient Mostali, but they needed protectors. Each caste sent those who were most most flexible, most eager to learn the ways of war, and most disposable. They clad themselves in Iron, and armed themselves with the new weapons, and went out from the Spike to drive away the enemies of Mostal.
It was not enough. The enemy had great numbers, and the Mostali had few. Every hand which went to holding an axe or war pick was one which was not repairing the World Machine. Every death meant knowledge and skill which would no longer be around.
And so, in a moment of desperation, the Ancient Mostali created the Clay Mostali, known to men as dwarves. They were crude imitations of their predecessors, but they were well suited for their tasks. They had compact bodies, to work in cramped conditions, enlarged sensory organs, to see, hear, and smell better, and they were soft and able to be reshaped. While some were taught by the Ancient Mostali of the Spike, others were sent out, in armour of iron and bronze, to reinforce the Iron Mostali.
Then the disaster occurred, and the Spike was destroyed. Many dwarves, and almost all the Ancient Mostali were destroyed. The remaining Mostali and dwarves forged their own settlements in what redoubts and fortresses still remained, and eventually developed into the dwarven nations such as Nida and Greatway.

Nature of the Iron Dwarves
Iron Dwarves, like their Ancient Mostali predecessors, are not born to their caste. Instead, each is recruited from the ranks of the other dwarves; selected by virtue of their capacity for warlike behaviour, loyalty to the Mostali purpose, and (most dangerous of all) the capability for improvisation and the prediction of enemy actions.
While to outsiders Iron Dwarves seem as staid and inflexible as their kin, the Mostali learned the need for independent thought to oppose the other races during the Gods' War. Indeed, many Mostali stories are about how the Iron Mostali learned to adapt when the trolls or elves acted in unpredictable ways. (Such as tunnelling through the floor of a chamber, rather than walking straight into the waiting crossbows and axes of the Iron Mostali as had been expected.)

Each dwarven city will have a great barracks housing all the Iron Dwarves, attached to it are forges and armouries filled with weapons and armour. The dwarves treat these complexes as if they were temples to war, and any Iron Dwarf travelling from one settlement to another will be treated much like a wandering initiate to the same god, and given food and shelter within the barracks.
The Iron Dwarves of each settlement will typically organize themselves into units of eight dwarves, led by a ninth Iron Dwarf of higher rank, who acts as priest and military commander to the unit. Each unit will name themselves after their purpose within the dwarven hierarchy; such as the Nidan Expeditionary Forces, or the Rubble Trackers of Pavis.

Iron Dwarf Cultural Keyword
Dwarves are an advanced civilized culture based around the arts of Alchemy and Sorcery. They live in redoubts within mountains and deep underground, with only the Iron Dwarf caste being likely to see the light of Yelm. Their society is not organized along kin lines, which the dwarves see as horrific, but instead around occupations, with all kettle-makers being part of a particular close knit union, which are themselves part of the great caste of copper workers.
Dwarves are around four feet tall, but are typically so stooped and hunchbacked that they appear closer to a yard in height. Their skin runs the gamut of shades, from so pallid and clammy they could be mistaken for corpses, to dark and ruddy from working near flame and furnace. Many dwarves wear beards, but this is not universal; and the crude and ugly facial features of Iron Dwarves are concealed within helmets of iron and brass.
The Dwarves worship no gods, and placate no spirits. Instead their philosophy, called the Way of Mostal, is devoted to manipulating the elemental substances that make up the world, through Alchemy and Sorcery. The Way of Mostal guarantees immortality for those who follow it, as long as they perform their assigned tasks to keep the World Machine functioning.
Iron Dwarves speak the Mostali tongue, a completely alien language to other races and cultures, helping ensure they won't be overheard by outsiders. They will also know the language of the local humans, although they will often profess ignorance if they don't want to talk. All dwarves are literate, knowing the ancient ideograms of their language.

Dwarven names are based upon their occupation, and often seem more like titles. Deepseam, Goldeye, and Ironvoice are examples of such names given to miners, scouts, and diplomats. Many are also left in the ancient Mostali tongue, such as Belkstan, Arapan, or Iravain. Others use both their name and its tradetalk translation when dealing with humans, such as the legendary Chark the Liberator who brought Illumination to the dwarves.

Common Occupations of the Iron Dwarves
  • Alchemist: After warriors, alchemists are the most common Iron Dwarves. As their duty requires them to leave the safety of dwarven life, they are most in need of the ingenious devices of alchemy. Those who know how to make and use these devices are often given command over Iron Dwarf units, and are always given great respect.
  • Crafter: While all dwarves know the arts of creation, those who specialise in making common and useful goods are rarely turned into Iron Dwarves. Those who are are usually from the Brass Dwarves, and are trained in making weapons from Brass, and eventually the Death Metal Iron.
  • Healer: These will be former Tin and Quicksilver Dwarves, and will act as battlefield medics. They do have a reputation for eagerness, seeing amputation and replacement with a weapon or alchemical wonder as preferable to the risk of infection.
  • Merchant: These former Gold and Copper dwarves have the most unpleasant duty of all, talking and deal-making with the primitive humans nearby dwarven enclaves. 
  • Scribe: Repairing the World Machine requires many careful observations and lengthy note-taking to make sure all is following the schedule. Gold dwarves are often assigned as observers, recording copious information on the outside world.
  • Sorcerer: Almost always former Silver Dwarves, the war-mages of the Iron Dwarves usually focus on commanding elemental beings, and will often be able to change an entire battlefield in dramatic ways, such as turning solid rock into soft and treacherous sand.
  • Warrior: The prototypical Iron Dwarf. Dwarven warriors are almost entirely heavy infantry, although the few light infantry act as scouts and trackers for their allies. Dwarves do not use cavalry.

Panoply of Iron
Iron Dwarves count Flares, Smoke Bombs, and Compasses amongst their Panoply, finding them essential for their work. They also use Tanien's Water, although they still call it Dwarven Fire. (Well, technically they call it Liquefied Fire, but will use the name Dwarven Fire when dealing with humans)
  •      Disorder Keg. This small container is usually made of wood, although both stone and metal variant exist. Inside them is the dangerous Black Powder, which the dwarves claim is crystallized disruption. Certainly, those who have seen it in action would agree, for when the kegs are ignited or treated too roughly, they release a tumult of heat, flame, noise, smoke and wind.
  •  Thunderstick. One of the most infamous Creations of the Dwarves, the Thunderstick is a long iron and brass tube, given a trigger and a stock, and moulded into the likeness of an animal. The most common animal design is that of a sparrowhawk. When the trigger is pulled, a piece of Thunderstone is immersed into a small reservoir of Black Powder. The anger of the Thunderstone sets off the powder with a crack of thunder, while the powder's tumult launches a sling-bullet with deadly force and accuracy at whatever the Thunderstick is aimed at.
  • Igniter. A small Thunderstone is bound within an iron cage. When  the cage is squeezed it enrages the Thunderstone. The Thunderstone sends out a small lightning bolt, which is usually directed towards Black Powder, or other flammable objects.
  • Repeater. This Creation takes the form of a box which sits atop a dwarven crossbow. Inside it is a miracle of clockwork which loads quarrels and pulls back the bowstring, allowing a crossbow to be fired repeatedly without stopping, at magical speeds.
  • Opener. This small ze-metal raven's talon is marked with designs recalling the Movement Rune, including miniature cogs. Through their arcane movement, when the Opener is plunged into a sealed object, such as a locked door, the Opener forces it to move, allowing entry. For some reason, the Iron Dwarves mostly use this to open their sealed rations.
  • Farseer. This Creation is a cone of interlocking gold tubes. The interlocking nature allows the Creation to be shrunk for ease of storage. In each end of the Farseer is a disk of polished crystal called an Energy Canteen by the dwarves. When extended, these crystals activate the Truth runes marked along the tubes, and allow someone looking in the small end the vision of a hawk, thereby letting them see great distances away in great quality.
  • Pure Air Mask. This Creation is a leather mask, fitted with a prominent beak or nose like extremity. This beak is often also leather, but elaborate ones made of aluminium have been discovered. The beak contains a mass of Earthbone, riddled with small tunnels which attract miniature sylphs to dwell within. The sylph wards off the forces of Mallia, rendering the wearer immune to miasma and other toxic gases.
Dwarven sling bullet, marked with Thunderbolt on one side, and Law and Mastery Runes on the other.

Monday, 11 April 2016


Alchemy is the twin of sorcery, for both are the magic of manipulating the impersonal forces of Glorantha. It is said by the wise that existence came from the division of the Prima Materia into lifeless matter and formless energy. The energy became known as the Runes, from which Glorantha was given existence; and the matter became the substance that Glorantha was shaped from.
Sorcerers manipulate the Runes, giving form to the energy of the world. When they act upon the physical world, they do it by manipulating the energy which fills the world to cause a desired effect.
Alchemy on the other hand, manipulates the matter from which Glorantha was given form. By uniting the natural materials, they enhance the natural magic stored within, to create magical effects.
While the majority of Alchemists exist amongst the dwarves, they are found in other cultures. The cult of Lanbril has picked up many alchemical secrets over the years, which they use with illicit intent. The Orlanthi practice it in small secretive subcults, such as Jera and Arroin the Herbalists, or Torvald the Alchemist. In Kralorela, Alchemists are as common as sorcerers or shamans, and treated with great respect.
Science or Magic?
In the real world, the parts of alchemy which worked became the foundations of chemistry and and other related sciences. And a lot of alchemical creations will have recipes that will look to our minds as if they function via scientific principles rather than magic. Does that mean they are natural and not magical?
But what is nature? Glorantha is a cube of earth floating in an endless sea. It is a world where things fall because a goddess pulls things downwards. It is a world where everything has a spark of magic inside it. Even those things that may seem perfectly natural to us, are mystical secrets to Gloranthans. Including the magic of Alchemy.
A typical Alchemic Creation: A Kralori Abacus
A Creation is something you use. Each one is a combination of magical metals, crystals, and other substances, turned into an object which can be manipulated to work magic. The specific requirements of each Creation are so important that each Creation has a single result. As with spells, a Game Master should take a literal approach to Creation usage, and if it seems like a stretch, it is not possible to use the Creation in that way. Also like spells, Creations can always be used directly.
Creations can be learned and improved like any other ability. They may be abilities on their own, or as part of a collection called a Panoply.

A Panoply is a collection of Creations joined together by function, often associated with a cult or organization. One Panoply may be devoted to weapons of war, another may be comprised of healing potions. While sometimes a Panoply is associated with a specific Rune, others may be associated with many or even none.
Each Panoply may be taken as either a stand-alone ability, or as a breakout from an associated occupational Keyword. For example A stonemason may take a Panoply associated with masonry as a breakout from their Stonemason Keyword. A Panoply should receive a brief description on your character sheet for guidance on what Creations may fall under it.
If you start the game with a Panoply, you may choose or create five Creations which fall within its remit.

Sample Creations
These are some of the sample devices and substances that can be created and used through Alchemy. Not all cultures will know of them, and many will know others; but these are some of the more common ones found in Glorantha.
  • Flare. These Creations are made from rare minerals, including rune metals, ground up into powder, and stored within a ceramic jar. When ignited, the powder creates a bright light. The runic metal used in the Flare determines its colour. Gold Produces a bright yellow, silver is used for pure white light, etc.
  • Abacus. Also known as a Counting-tray, this Creation is made out of rune metals, with rune carved stones or crystals strung across wires, or in slots cut into the metal. By the manipulation of the stones, the user can perform magical calculations far beyond the reach of mortals.
  • Vitriol. When the gods warred before time, they lost much blood across the world, which formed into crystals. The alchemist can reverse the process of crystallization, returning the ichor to liquid form. Unfortunately, the resultant liquid is vile, having born the pain of the gods, and burns through most other forms of matter, making it a useful weapon, or tool to dissolve objects.
  • Healing Potion. Despite many healers wishing for a cure-all, this Creation is actually a range of different ones. Each one is devoted to healing a particular illness or wound. They are created through a range of natural substances; such as rare earths and minerals, plant parts, or animal organs, all processed together.
  • Buserian's Frame. This Creation was developed from Dara Happan celestology in the first age, and was adopted by many others. It consists of a tin map of the sky world, divided up by the celestial houses. Atop it rests a frame of silver, marked with the runes of stars. When rotated in accordance with the calendar, this device mirrors the movements of the stars in the heavens. It is most useful for marking certain heavenly events, such as the procession of Orlanth's Ring, for the purpose of magical rituals.
  • Putrified Copper. Also known as Dark Copper, Ge-Metal, and other names, this alchemical metal is produced by transmuting regular copper together with Esrolian Rubies within a crucible. The result is a stronger form of Copper, tainted with the blood of the Earth goddesses, infusing it with a lust for death.
  • Smoke Bomb. The Smoke Bomb is the Flare's antithesis, and produced in much the same way. However the runic metal used is Lead, and instead of producing light, it instead it gives off a dark cloud of smoke. It is especially prized by darkness cults, for they can use the darkness to summon shades, even in daylight.
  • Glue. This Creation merges the adhesive properties of many materials such as tree sap, or tar, to create a more powerful glue, which can join any two objects together. Many different recipes exist for these substances, and will often vary in duration; some being so weak as to last a few hours, others being discovered which are as strong now as a thousand years before.
  • Compass. This Creation typically involves an aluminium fish floating in a bowl of mercury. The fish's mouth always points towards the Homeward Ocean and Magasta's pool. This Creation allows its user to "Determine their Heading".
  • Tanien's Water. Originally called Dwarven Fire, this tar-like substance was renamed after the folly of the God Learners. Formed from a specific mixture of Earthblood, powdered limestone, and ashes, the resulting ooze can be ignited to create a fire which cannot be extinguished through nonmagical means.

Occupational Keyword: Alchemist
Alchemists unite magical materials, combining them in mystical ways so that they can perform magical acts. They are literate, and have a knowledge of codes to conceal their secrets from the uninitiated. In barbarian lands, Alchemists are commonly seen as dangerous sorcerers, and viewed with caution, if not hatred. In civilized cities, they are given respect for their powers.
Alchemists begin with a Panoply with five Creations. You do not have to select them all at start of play.
Standard of Living: Common
Patron Deity: None