Sog City Bits

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Sat 17 Jun 1995 - 10:34:03 EEST


I'm not sure what Sog was like under the God Learner Empire. But the Waertagi weren't necessarily visiting all through the Second Age, just because one ship was driven ashore there at the end of the Age. (And the blue/green feud suggests that they had been isolated for a while before that). The Brithini Overlords are pretty well defended behind their Wall of Red Hot Brass, so maybe the pragmatic GLs decided to leave well enough alone. The rest of the city was probably sacked by barbarians around the time of Jonat, so there won't have to be a whole bunch of working GL artifacts outside of private collections.

> I seem to remember someone saying the Brithini use the University in
> some way to keep themselves alive. Anyone care to expand on this idea?

Yep. The Ancient Brithini Master Sorcerers in the University are all of Zzabur (sorcerer) caste; the other Brithini (Dronars, Horals, possibly a Talar) who used to live at SCU died off in the First Age. There are many things the sorcerers cannot do without breaking their caste restrictions, such as preparing meals, opening doors, making the bed, cleaning their robes, etc. Now, you or I may think these are pretty trivial breaches of caste restrictions, unlikely to be worth more than a wrinkle per millennium -- but we don't have the same perspective as the Brithini. Old Age is, to them, the most agonising, protracted and degrading form of death imaginable, and they don't want to do anything to bring it on.

What's happened is that normal humans have stepped into the gap. SCU's porters, servants, scouts, lab assistants, junior teaching staff, administrators, etc. are all as human as you or I. But when there's a Master around, they act like Brithini. Technically, the Chancellor, Dean, etc. of the University are Ancient Brithini; for all practical purposes, the place is run by the Vice-Chancellor and Junior Dean, and nobody wants to get the "real heads" involved in anything.

The Brithini follow their own immutable schedules in teaching (which means, for one thing, that SCU's terms [semesters to you colonials] and lecturing hours are very peculiar compared to the rest of the world). A Master Sorcerer, clad in traditional robes, will deliver a lecture to a class of students (all of whom are 'disguised' in academic gowns to look like the people he's expecting to see). The language he uses will, of course, be the ancient Brithini tongue (like mediaeval education: all in Latin). And he will very, very seldom take questions.

What do the Brithini get out of this? They live forever, their material needs are seen to, and they're supported while they perform their own arcane research. What do the humans get? Education, knowledge, power, and fee income. They have to avoid overt religious display as one of the conditions of employment/academic tenure, but that's no great loss in amoral Sog.

> What goes on inside the School of Necromancy? I love the fact it's
> already wired for electricity.

In How the West was One, the Professor of Necromancy was one Gorian Stridyard, written up as a horrible combination of Faust and Frankenstein. He was desperately trying to create a creature with a soul, so he could use it to pay off Wakibopheles, the demon who traded him 24 years of success for his soul at the end of it. In both runs of the game, he was very much the man to watch (and wholly successful, as I recall).

The lightning conductor was for bringing Stridyard's Monster to life, though I'm sure he has one of those old Paramount bits of apparatus -- you know, the one with the arcing spark between two wires going zzzip... zzzip... -- somewhere in his laboratory. And, of course, the Lever.

> Naturally I'll have to have the three renegade, possibly chaos worshipping
> Judges. The Humakti one calls himself Judge Death of course.

Three? Moderation, I suppose. Why not the full six? Probably these renegades are hangovers from the God Learner period, when Justice Department worked properly. You could have the PCs open their sealed tomb by mistake...

> What religions were around before Malkionism took over?

Before monotheistic Malkionism was polytheistic Malkionism, IMHO -- some postings made it here around February/March time. And under God Learner influence, the Second Age Malkioni would have been actively assimilating others' myths into their own heroquest itineraries: so as better to plunder the God Plane. Makes Malkioni HQs rather easy, as you can just follow the straightforward plots of established myths (changing Valind to a Giant, Humakt to a Knight, Ernalda to a Damsel in Distress, etc.).

> Just what is the connection between the Waertagi and Dragons? Are the ships
> really made out of Dragonbone?

The Dragonships are made out of the bodies of sea dragons, wrestled into shape by Waertag or by those who know his rituals. From Wyrms Footprints p.48: "The Waertagi race knew a special charm to call a Sea Dragon unto them and, with more special magics, could fight it and defeat it. If this was done then the dragon spirit would be bound to the old body and act as a protective spirit for it. The old body of the animal would be enchanted with great magics which would convert the husk into a palatial and marvellous ship, sometimes as much as a half mile long and a quarter mile wide. Each part of the dragon would be used by the sea-going race. These are the origins of the great city-ships of the Waertagi."

> I have a question about time and prophecy. Is it possible to foresee
> the future? Or are prophecies simply wishful thinking, or maybe
> magical acts to steer the future?

Prophecies are, most often, more like announcements ahead of the completion of plans. Orlanth tells his priests that the Seventh Wind will rise and scour the Lunars from Dragon Pass; the Red Goddess tells hers that the Inner Secrets of the Red Moon will ensure her Lunar Way endures forever. To some extent, saying it helps make it so: lots of people (myself half-included) think that Gloranthans' belief shapes Gloranthan reality, so if you think your God has a secret weapon or a come-back plan it's more likely to work. I'd normally use Gloranthan prophecy like Old Testament prophecy: ways of encouraging your own people to do better, for fear of worse.

There do seem to be "genuine" prophecies around, mostly uttered by Dwarfs: predictions of startling events which nobody would reasonably foresee. But the Mostali know far more about the hidden workings of Glorantha than anyone else (they establish, maintain and repair them), and they say far less. In general, if you know where to look on the hero plane, you can 'predict' stuff that was going to happen anyway. And if you're on top, you can 'predict' what you know you're going to do next in any case.

The most famous example of "foreseeing the future" in Glorantha plainly failed*: this was Zzabur's "Future Map of Fronela," seen by Prince Snodal in Altinela. All this was, IMHO, was a master-plan towards which the Big 'Z' was working, rather like Hitler's plans for Nazified Russia. The fact that it didn't happen hardly means Snodal saw the "inevitable" future and changed it somehow; he won, and Zzabur lost (and is presumably now back at his sorcerous drawing-board, planning some other way of warping the whole of Glorantha).

> I'm interested in the mention that the Loskalm Hrestoli are plundering
> the Hero Plane. I remember reading other references on the Digest to
> their acting like God Learners. What's the deal? And where can I learn
> more about this?

More or less everything we know is contained in Sir Meriatan's speech, in the Genertela Book, Fronela chapter. The rest is speculative.

> The PCs in my game are all starting out as exiled Rokari and the more
> information on them the better.

Tales #13 includes a four-page write-up of the Holy Rokari Church, by David Hall and others, which may be useful to you. Copies should be available shortly from your normal Megacorp reps: hassle them or David for details.


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