[Glorantha]Karse again (carried over from HQ-rpg)

From: Joerg Baumgartner <joe_at_toppoint.de>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 19:24:19 +0200 (CEST)


I'm carrying this over from HeroQuest-RPG_at_yahoo because I tend to go beyond the level of detail and historical annotations accepted over there.

Bryan Thexton:

>> Of course Karse, located where it is, may well be a focal point of
>> conflict between the Esrolian and Heortling doctrines on
>> teaching....the city is mostly heortling, but with strong esrolian
>> and other influences.  Could become nice recurring plot point for a
>> campaign set there with an LM character....

Light Castle:
> Yeah, I'm turning my mind once again to what I want Karse to be. I've
> gotten to pick around on some of the versions floating on the web, and
> Phillipe was kind enough to send me some of his thoughts
> on it. Unfortunately, I don't have Midkemia Press Carse to
> mine for ideas (and don't feel like shelling out 50 plus bucks for it).

Karse just after the conquest wouldn't quite be worth them, either. (Any other time I'd say different...)

If you want to use Caernarfon for the city layout, about any rough map should suffice, like the one on my website or the one in the Palladium Book of Castles. There was a siege, and the latter stage of the siege would have concentrated on the walled city extension of the citadel. Houses outside the wall would have been damaged or destroyed, and need rebuilding. Houses inside the wall may have suffered from siege engines or siege magics. I'll collect a list of key establishments if you like, since I'm re-writing (slightly, to fit the HeroQuest-imbued changes) and expanding my Karse background anyway.

> From dabbling around, I pretty much like the idea of Heortling ruling
> class with Pelaskite (Esrolian-influenced, not quite the same as the
> ones on the islands) underclass/"old-folk"). I'm just not sure what
> version of Heortlings we've got there. They certainly won't be
> classic Orlanthi, being more city oriented. They're not Esvular, I would
> doubt them being Aeolian primarily. I'm not sure what to do with the
> religious/political construction of the city. My understanding of the
> Heortlanders in the area is that they have a vaguely Malkionized
> (western) political structure and manners, but still Orlanthi worship.

The ruling Heortling re-founders of Karse would be Jondalaring or Gardufari in origin. My old history has them as somewhat dissident from the King of Heortland after Belintar intervened (yet friendly to Belintar), but using the title of Baron for the city ruler rather than Eorl. Originally, this was a nod towards the Karse supplement which had Carse as a Barony. Now I need to say why... which might take some time. I'm happy to discuss ideas, though.

IMG, the old city of Karse was largely abandoned when its primary purpose, that of the overseas port for the EWF, became obsolete as the Seas closed. The old city remained inhabited, but declined strongly, reaching a state similar to Duck Point - strong walls and a small populace besides the Creek-Stream River, mainly fisherfolk and a few riverine traders and hopeless clingers. Then Belintar killed the Leaden Serpent, and the River was redirected. The river port of Old Karse fell dry (now it is a marsh some five metres below the former shoreline, under the cyclopean walls which still stand upriver, on the opposite bank of the Marzeel river, below Shadow Plateau), and the fisherfolk left for better harbor sites, too, leaving the city an empty shell haunted by escaped trollkin, outlaws in hiding and maybe one or two decent folks keeping up the shrine to Karse, protecting god of the city and still worshipped by the northern Pelaskites.

The same motivations which send lots of clans into the dangerous lands of Kerofinela brought a group of adventuresome thanes, god-talkers and merchants to re-found the city of Karse on the opposite shore of the former Creek-Stream River, now the Marzeel River, closer to the Mirrorsea Bay. Gaining support from the Pharaoh and the Pelaskite fisherfolk whose village still forms a separate but important part of the city, they built a keep and a walled city in the current place as a protected port for the sea traffic across the Mirrorsea Bay. About the same time, Suchara Vale (recently fallen dry as well) was settled, and became the hinterland of the city.

The re-builders contacted the shrine at the Old City and quested to transfer the god of Old Karse into the new city. They invited masons from Nochet for the construction of keep and walled city, which had to be a solid fortress at the demand of the old protector. The thanes also had to compete for the marriage to the Pelaskite priestess of Karse. The victor became the Baron.

Separated from Karhend by the cliffs, the Barony remained independent from Heortland, protected by the Pharaoh. The thanes built city residences as well as manorial steads in the lower Marzeel Valley where they farmed and bred horses, cattle and sheep (the latter on cliff ledges or in the wet marshes only). The city produced fish which they traded to Volsaxar and Karhend as well as to Argan Argar merchants, and they traded Heortland wool for Esrolian grain and pottery.

> I like that it is a mercantile city, no doubt about that. Some kind of
> powerful city council of merchants. But if that's the idea, why
> is there a Baron? (Why not be more a Hanseatic league free city,
> reporting directly to the Pharoah?) The Baron founded the city, as I
> understand it, so how do he and the merchants interact when it comes to
> power?

IMG the Baron is a hereditary ruler (i.e. using Vingkotling rites) whose line has to marry the chief priestess of Karse every third generation, as part of the "deal" with the protector god of Old Karse, thereby uniting the two main population groups of the city. The Heortling thane families each lead some (not quite standard, post-Andrin) clans inside and outside the city. The entire set-up is somewhat a social experiment to accommodate the magical and political reality of the minority groups in the Holy Country.

The council of merchants and guild leaders includes the thanes, who retain some hand in the business and each are awarded certain privileges. (The idea of merchant houses or lowly noble houses with mercantyle privileges was strong in the Hanseatic League, and led to prolonged "civil war"-like rebellions with illustrous characters like Claus Stoertebeker, a famed pirate of the Hanseatic era. My home city Kiel was founded by the Schauenburg Count as the administrative centre of the newly Saxon-colonized Baltic Sea coast, with the Slavic chieftains elevated to petty nobles who had city houses in what became a lesser city of the Hanseatic League. The count's religious role was restricted to his retiring as a minorite monk in the newly founded city monastery, with his brother and deacon to the Luebeck bishop remaining the strong man in the city and his son trained as successor to the county.)

So, IMG the answer "why a barony" would have socio-religious reasons mainly. A class of petty rural nobles (the thanes) participating in the urban council via their privileges and economic activities, while doubling as the proto-feudal army defending the city, produces a model not that different from Sartar's cities (which has kings and influential chieftains on the city rings).

I'm not sure which terminology to use for the Karse institutions. I could say "clans" for the manorial stead groups and their followers and city residents, and "rings" for the council structures. "Baron" has a Malkioni ring, and we know that the Heortlanders have adopted Malkioni terms to some extent, so I could call the steadholders and thanes "landed knights". (Medieval Galway had a dozen such clans headed by robber knights.) Input welcome.

IMG the northern and coastal Pelaskites are different from the Rightarmers: predominantly theist, quite Orlanthi with Pelaskos taking over several other Allfather functions. Ernalda would be relegated to a lesser role, similar to Esrola's, with a sea fertility and harvest goddess taking precedence: a variation of Esrola, as mother of Choralinthor and Food goddess, I suppose, and possibly adopted daughter of Triolina or something like this, which would take care of some of the social Ernalda (Queen) functions, too.

Or is Esrola similar to Kero Fin, as mother of the main elementar gods of the region (Choralinthor, Ezkankekko, ?)?

What did the Lunars leave intact in 1619?

My current vision of Karse has several somewhat independent sections: the walled city and its overspill outside of the walls, the nearby fisherfolk village on a peninsula, and a docks region boomtown which shot up when the Seas were opened.

The city had an "outer wall" - basically a ditch and rampart topped with a stone palisade connecting the river shore to the cliffside, facing both north along the Marzeel, and east towards the Solthi fjord. This halted the early stages of Fazzurs invasion, but was overcome when he grew serious about besieging the place. The city outside of the walled city built to please Old Karse became fighting ground for a while, then was firmly in Fazzur's hand. Walled city and citadel remained in the hands of the defenders, and harboured those citizens from the outside who made it inside.

The Pelaskite fishing village was abandoned at this time, the inhabitants fleeing in their boats (some into the walled city, others to Old Karse, where their ancestors had sheltered during the Greater Darkness). The overcrowded walled city was partially evacuated across the river in misty nights.

The boomtown partially caught fire, the rest remained intact. The Lunars didn't manage to capture any intact ships or boats, though - two ships in the shipyards were wrecked, the rest took to sea before the Lunars could prevent this. Some anchored nearby or at the old port sheltered by the walled city, and finally evacuated the Kethaelan forces which had helped defend the city for quite a while, just a day or two before the combined assault from sea and with dragonewts.

Only the active defenders had been killed by the dragonewts. Many militiamen escaped by hurriedly disarming themselves. The Baron and some of his knights survived the dragonewt assault because they had been badly wounded earlier on. Most of his guards died as valiantly as the dragonewt warriors.

The businesses and residences outside the walled city had been plundered during the siege, or requisitioned by Anqus Farquilis and his body of men. After taking the citadel and walled city, Fazzur established a greater part of his forces as garrison, and returned the rest to the fighting in Volsaxar.

Fazzur himself and his immediate staff (as per Genertela Book) remained for a while and sorted things out.

Details escape me yet, but keep on asking, and I'll find them...

--__--__-- Received on Wed 22 Sep 2004 - 06:56:51 EEST

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