Guilds and heroquest roads

From: Joerg Baumgartner (
Date: Mon 03 Nov 1997 - 20:22:00 EET

Mr. Tines replied to my:
>> (The fact that [guilds] 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.)

>About the time Cults of Prax came out, there was discussion
>in _Alarums and Excursions_ about how to fit guilds into the
>same environment; and one person proposed a "standard Guild
>template" to match the cult template. The main stumbling block
>was seen to be that of magic : in the theist part of Genertela
>which was all that was know about at the time, the monopoly of
>the cults upon magic and ceremony gave them a significant
>boost over purely mundane guild structures.

Monopoly on magic: maybe, since shamans were no spell-sellers back then (the
unimaginable guild of alchemists was as involved in magic, though). Monopoly
on ceremonies: hardly.

But then nothing in the write-ups suggested that the guilds could not be
regarded as cults, or perhaps subcults, with special magics within their
mother cults.

Most hero-cults would be as limited in adherents as a craft guild, after all.

>This would be
>as true for simple craft guilds as for anything that an
>"adventurer" might get involved in - a purely mundane smith
>would be at a disadvantage against a Gustbran or Third Eye
>Blue initiate;

TEB seems to be little more than a specialized crafters guild, and Gustbran
has hardly any worshippers who aren't smiths. Few smiths would fail to
worship Gustbran at least on "lay member" level (unless TEB members). In
fact, I advocate these guilds to have close links to certain cults, and to
give their magic the character of some hero-cult within the greater cult(s
of the pantheon).

>Even with the significantly evolved contemporary view of
>Glorantha, there may well be some force to this argument for
>some crafts in some locations : while the Sartar economy
>probably doesn't have a niche for a specialist butcher, the
>smith is likely to be a member of some scary specialist cult
>(just as RW smiths were seen to be magical people). It
>is probably a personal call as to whether it is credible for
>shamanistic sources to ply craft-related magic, or whether
>some form of low sorcery might be kept as a "trade secret".

If Sartar were alone with its craftspeople, I'd doubt that it would develop
guild-special magics. Since Sartar is culturally descended from the Holy
Country, and its urban populace as well, often even recently, the guilds
would share their traditions with their Kethaelan counterparts.

Crafts or craft groups where I expect guilds to survive even in Sartar:

weavers and dyers, felt-makers...
carpenters and wainwrights
leatherworkers (?) including saddlers, cobblers, belt-makers

>Setting magic aside, the issue still remains about the
>economic state of the area under consideration. Craft
>guilds and confraternities are a product of specialisation,
>which in turn depended strongly on urbanisation. My gut
>feel is that they would be unlikely to be significant
>in Sartar, but would be more likely in the West, and,
>perhaps, Kralorela.

It is an unfortunate fact that by census, Sartar is one of the most
urbanized regions of Glorantha, with about 14,000 urban people supported by

only about 190,000 rurals (including Telmori and ducks, according to old
census numbers).

Sartar is part of the Kethaelan civilisation, at least the cities.

>> On the other hand, the earth cultists may
>> know magical roads between their cities crossing practically no
>> wilderness

>Magic road heroquests have been mentioned in sources
>from way back - ISTR one mentioned in some of the
>house campaign write-ups in WF, lo these many years ago.

Yes. However, these roads didn'T necessarily lead to features one wanted to
visit, like e.g. cities.

>The interesting thing about them from a game PoV is that
>these actually provide a fairly closed, limited, benefit
>to the quester (and companions), and don't get too
>embroiled in the "gaining a super-power" or "hacking the
>mythology" stuff : perhaps for that reason, they have
>been a rather neglected facet of the subject.

The Stormwalk Mountain route seems to have the _disadvantage_ that gaining
that power is part of the road...

Generally, use of the roads is meant to be riskier than using the equivalent
overland route.


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