non-RQ Glorantha and Shifty Stars

From: Stephen P Martin (
Date: Sat 10 May 1997 - 10:59:35 EEST

To All:

Didn't the Tekumel game system have a run in Glorantha at Convulsions
awhile back? Or, was it the other way around, with Tekumel being played
using RQ rules?

Shifty Stars
I have been picking Greg's brains on star lore recently, and trying to
force him to make some firm decisions. While all data is not yet fixed, a
few comments on this subject, as it relates to navigation.

Remember that Kalikos is not due north, it is NNW.

All of the Sunpath planets rise in the exact east, and set due west.
However, they cross the sky to north or south of the Pole Star, north in
summer, a bit farther south in winter. However, they ALWAYS cross the
Pole Star.

Theya and Rausa's directions in the sky are always constant, since they
always jump (straight up) from due east and due west, respectively.
Between the _three_ of them (including Kalikos), who needs a compass at

A very good measure of both location and time is Mastakos/Uleria, which
crosses the sky in exactly eight hours. Thus, you can always get a pretty
good bearing on your direction simply by watching it for a couple of
hours. I am fairly certain that it is the planet used by most Gloranthan
sailors for navigation. Certainly more useful than the former Boat
Planet, which took 4 days to cross the sky, then was gone for another 4.

Zenith and the Red Moon are the only truly Fixed Bodies -- Stormgate does
not rotate, but does rock north and south with the Sky Dome. Also, it
appears that Stormgate is usually only visible a couple of nights each
week, right before Orlanth's Ring emerges. The rest of the time, it is
not visible, even to the star seers of Yuthuppa.

Ice Palace and a select few other constellations (none yet named in
print) do NOT rotate along with the other stars, though they do rock with
the Dome. Thus, Ice Palace is always visible directly in the north, and
cannot be seen at all in summer. Its stars can thus be used for
navigation, when they are visible.

One Night Wish is visible due south, though it is of limited use for
navigation, since it appears only one night of the year, and for a short
time even then. Lonely Cry is visible in the east, though only for 1 to 5
nights at midwinter, so it too is not very useful.

The distance to the Red Moon cannot be accurately determined, as its
location is more magical than physical. I myself am of the opinion that
most physics in Glorantha will give results as if the stars were
infinitely distant, i.e., they would have no parallax. I don't know what
Greg would say to this. However, it seems to be his opinion that even the
greatest sorcerers of the West cannot accurately and/or consistently
measure the height of the Red Moon.

As for the Red Moon's location and size, this has been a subject of
debate for a number of years, as the two descriptions we have, in Elder
Secrets and Cults of Prax, seem to disagree:

Cults of Prax, pg 46: "As I journeyed north through Dragon Pass there did
appear a thin pinkish hue in the distance, laid like a thread on the
horizon. When I had reached Glasswall, overlooking Dwarf Run, that light
in the north was a sunset of blood.
"Once across the Bush Range, the glow becomes full and rich and
warm, rising higher and higher into the sky. Bagnot marks the end of the
Glowline, and there appears a thin arching sliver of crimson on the
horizon. The glow surrounding it is less, as if the light gathered to
become the moon itself.
"Riding further north causes the moon to seem to rise into the
air, also significantly reducing the actual size which it appears to be
on the horizon. Thus the closer one goes to the orb, the smaller it
grows, and the higher and higher it appears in the sky. It is a most
remarkable sight, and surely would alarm anyone not prepared for it

Elder Secrets, Secrets Book, pg 46 (damn, ain't _that_ a coincidence!):
"The red moon is unique beause it never moves, day or night, from its
place in the northwestern sky....Day and night the visible face of the
moon is either bright red, black, or both....However, this change of
phases is not the same across all Glorantha: while one place is
experiencing a Crescent, another sees a Black Phase."

That's funny -- nowhere does it say the Red Moon is visible outside of
the Glowline, though King of Sartar implies this in the Colymar Book (pg

Anyways, when working on Heroes of the King, Greg made a decision that
the Red Moon was visible throughout Glorantha, not just within the
Glowline. He said at that time that the description in Cults of Prax was
most likely the result of using some form of magical vision to view the
Red Moon, since his vision is to have it visible outside of the Glowline,
such as from Pavis (implied in The Big Rubble), Pamaltela, etc.

Most recently, he made the following interpretation of the Red Moon,
which is sort of a compromise between Cults of Prax and Elder Secrets:

Outside of the Glowline, the Red Moon is visible throughout all of
Glorantha. It appears to be fairly large, and is always a short distance
above the horizon. This size and distance above the horizon do not
change, regardless of distance within the Inner World. Depending on how
high above the horizon it ends up being, mountains and other geographic
features _can_ block it from view. As Joerg Baumgartner recently remarked
to me, it is appropriate that _mountains_ can block out the Moon, as
Orlanth is the god of the Mountain Storm.

As you enter the Glowline, the Red Moon appears to rise into the Sky, and
becomes somewhat smaller (even as the RW Moon appears larger on the
horizon than it does in the sky). When you are fully within the Glowline,
the Red Moon appears to be right at the boundary of the Middle and Upper

Take it for what it's worth, as no one can swear it won't change. Note,
however, that World Lore includes basic astronomical information, and so
would give all of the data given above, plus more. So, if you are lost,
all you really need to do is wait until after Dark, and finding your way
should be a piece of cake. Assuming there is no cloud cover, of course.

I have been working on correcting the Night Sky article in Elder Secrets,
both to provide clarifications and corrections, and to make it wholly
Theyalan/Orlanthi in its information. This is just about done, and it is
possible the final result will appear on the Chaosium Glorantha page,
whenever that gets up.

The Book of Drastic Resolutions, Volume Prax, will have a page of
clarifications and corrections to the star information presented in Elder
Secrets, The Glorious ReAscent of Yelm, and The Dara Happan Book of

Stephen Martin
- -----------------------------------------------
The Book of Drastic Resolutions


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