Jonstown Guilds and HQing

From: Joerg Baumgartner (
Date: Tue 28 Oct 1997 - 22:09:00 EET

Lee Insley asked:
>I was reading parts of the Jonstown Guide and it mentions that in 1525,
>local clans formed guilds which they control and which are based on the
>special craft to the clan. I was wondering if anyone knew if this
>applied to the clans listed in the guide (which are only a handful),
>or if all clans associated with the Jonstown ring have guilds (which
>would amount to a few dozen guilds)? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

The Jonstown guild structure as presented in the Jonstown Guide is part
of an (unpublished) scenario book by Ingo Tschinke and friends, and is,
as far as I know Ingo's notes (and I edited part of the Guide) most of
the clans farther away from Jonstown have not formed a guild in the city.

>Also, are these guilds something that is unique to Jonstown, or are
>they something which applies to all the cities of Sartar?

We know from "Home of the Bold" and "A Rough Guide To Boldhome" that
there is a number of such guilds (though not clan-based) in Boldhome.

IMO a guild structure is common to all Kethaelan cities, and since Sartar
transplanted Kethaelan city culture to his developing principality (and
IMO also invited skilled craftspeople and traders from Kethaela into his

new cities) the Sartarite cities will have at least rudimentary guilds.

(The fact that they are mentioned in the character creation for RQ2
doesn't say much about Gloranthan reality, but then urban craftspeople
always tended to cluster their knowledge, and form cartels to keep out
unwanted competition.)

Eric Hansen wrote:
>Generally speaking, a heroquest is the embarkation upon a previously
>trodden path with the intention of recreating heroic events from the
>mythic history of the person's society for the purpose of personal or
>(more likely) cultural gain. By walking in the footsteps of their
>heroic ancestors and deities, people gain deeper insights into the
>mysteries of their cults or societies, and reap spiritual, and sometimes
>physical, rewards. Embarking on a quest is fraught with ritual, and is
>not without risk. Understanding what must be done (ie: knowing your
>myths well) is necessary for success. I'm sure you all get the idea.

This is the commonly performed level in Orlanthi society, and was called
in earlier incarnations the "temple-runs". Heroquesting in this manner
gives somewhat predictable benefits for somewhat predictable risks. It
can be done by Joe Orlanthi without a twelve year introductory course in
Advanced Heroism building up obscure stats like Will or Rune Mastery...

>Now, it seems to me, that this is really just one form of
>heroquest. Gloranthan lore is full of examples of people (or gods)
>performing actions so significant that they become the myths that future
>generations heroquest to recreate. The Lightbringers' quest, or the
>creation of the Red Moon are the most obvious examples. These were both
>instances in which a journey was undertaken in order to perform a
>specific Glorantha-altering task, without any footprints to walk in.
>Harrek's murder of the White Bear, or Prince Snodal's quest, are further

Not quite without any footprints. Just like the Loskalmi knightly
Questing, also the Lightbringers started out with the travel preparation
rites ("Arming of Orlanth"), and traveled upon a number of known paths.
(In fact, the Lightbringers followed the trails of Grandfather Mortal and
Yelm, if you buy the Godlearned version of the myth and its

The Creation of the Red Moon seems to have been a clever alteration of an
existing myth.

To set out and murder a figure of power is one of the oldest mythic
paths. I don't know who the God Learner monomyth would have blamed for
this, but candidates would be:
Ragnaglar and wife and mistress for murdering Rashoran
Vadrus slaying the Dragon
Orlanth slaying the Evil Emperor

Neither Harrek nor Snodal cannot really claim originality for such an

>IMHO, Glorantha's nature is such that any action taken whose
>objective is the alteration of the physical or spiritual world is a

This is a bit commonplace. Any action is an alteration, on the other
hand, many heroquests have the objective to keep the status quo - e.g.
the Sacred Time rituals.

Basically, any quest or other undertaking has a certain "heroquesting"
potential. However, if the quest or undertaking is one commonly
performed, the mythical impact would not be measurable. (If, on the other
hand, everybody failed to perform this special task, there would be some
magical or mythical impact. Like when all the flames were doused in the
city of Gio, an act which hurt the magic of Garusharp Prince of Elephants
mightily. His reaction may have been harsh, but the act had been a
significant blow to his power.) As soon as the quest leaves the commonly
performed tasks (or happens out of season), both the mythical obstacles
will be more severe, and the mythical impact might be stronger in case of

For example, the repetition of the super-successful Lunar Kalikos Quest
each Dark Season has gradually made the approach of Winter into Peloria
an unusual, and more magical, event.

>I know that there is a difference between the mundane plane,
>the spirit plane, and the hero plane, but I would suggest that the
>distinctions are often blurry.

That's how I play it. My idea of the overlap borrows a bit from the
Dominion concept of Ars Magica: where there is an active force working to
a certain end, this force's physical reality will be more stable. In
Dragon Pass, there is a dichotomy between the tamed farming land and the
realm of the Lady of the Wild, the latter being a potentially more
dangerous ground for people from the farming magical background. To them,
contact with the spirits of the wild may be already contact with the
Heroplane, whereas hunters or primitives of the wild will regard these
spirits as part of their common mundane plane. Of course, if you perform
the correct greetings/chases, these spirits can take you off deeper into
their realm, which may prove more exciting than to enter the shelter of a
household spirit in an Orlanthi stead. (Unless you are a primitive hunter
unaccustomed to the agricultural demons...)

Certain places have a greater magical potential - hilltops or river
crossings, for instance - and are commonly used for conscious entry into
the more magical world. Certain times soften the "borders" of the various
realms of existence.

>From the descriptions in King of Sartar, it seems eminently possible to
enter a hunting heroquest somewhere appropriate in Dragon Pass and
travel through an entirely wild, untamed Dragon Pass into a likewise
wild, untamed Ernaldi (=Esrolia) and experience extraordinary hunting
feats there. Anyone on such a travel would be hard put to encounter any
city, even if he followed the course of the Engizi (Creek-Stream) River
down to its mouth (where he should find either Karse - if following the
original course- or Nochet). On the other hand, the earth cultists may
know magical roads between their cities crossing practically no
wilderness, even if the physical world has regions like the bush range on

the way. The magical road from Cliffhome to Stormwalk mountain seems to
touch the ordinary world only at mountain tops...

>Travel from the mundane to the hero often requires knowledge of the
>proper rituals, but I think it probably also happens sometimes without
>people even knowing that they've crossed over.

A lot of the "civilized" rituals for performing a task are IMO derived
from the "heroquest" rites established by civilisation's founders.
Seemingly mundane actions may just as well invoke some ancient magic to
make the world work in this way.

If the circumstances are right, a seemingly ordinary sequence of actions
may trigger a more magical impact. I mean, what is so magical about
circling a hilltop or barrow three times? Still, after the third
circling, the cave entrance may become obvious which on the first two
runs must have been overlooked...

>I think that, since Glorantha is magic, and not ruled by RW
>physical reality, many actions that we might consider mundane are in
>fact heroic. In the RW, for example, if you need to alter the course of
>a river, you dam it, and its course is altered. In Glorantha, the river
>is a god, so damming it might alter it's course, but in doing so, will
>have altered the god, who now slakes the thirst of different earth than

As happened to the Creek-Stream River when Belintar slew the Darkness
monster and created the Lead Hills, and the Dammed Marsh.

It took the heroquest of Enjossi to bring back the Salmon, both
physically and in spirit, to the Stream (and I guess the Creek and River
will have benefitted as well, though possibly less).

>From the Dara Happan myths, damming a river breaks at least part of the
power of a river god. Compare Nestendos the Blue Snake to Oslira the
River Goddess. To receive fertility benefits from the irrigation dams,
some sort of river marriage is enacted by the wet farmers between the
dam-building deity and the river deity.

Now I don't think that Skyriver Titan was changed much by the change in
his lower course. Most of his myths would have remained unchanged, even
though he lost his oldtime ally Salmon for a while.

>About heroquest systems: I would like to see a heroquest system
>that doesn't require a player to keep two character sheets. Why do we
>really need a heroquest system anyway?

Because the ordinary adventuring system often gets pushed beyond its
limits when the rules don't allow testing certain virtues, and the
referee and player cannot really decide how the character tests out.
"Well, killing those Lunar symps was kinda cruel, especially nailing them
to a Death Rune, but then last cattle raid we let the herdboys escape
even without a thrashing."

In a Pamaltelan game, I don't really need a skill for skiing on my
character sheet. Likewise I don't need stats for the support of my
community on a trading mission at Pimpers Block (unless it is me who is
going to be sold).

>If, when your arm is cut off in battle, and you say "well, here's me and
>my arm", and if, when your leg is cut off you say "well, here's me and
>my arm and my leg", what do you say when your head's cut off?

"Well, here's me as the victim of a Thanatari"?


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