*How* urbanised? / Magic roads

From: Mr. Tines (tines@windsong.demon.co.uk)
Date: Tue 04 Nov 1997 - 22:23:48 EET

Joerg Baumgartner pointed out
> It is an unfortunate fact that by census, Sartar is one of the most
> urbanized regions of Glorantha, with about 14,000 urban people
> only about 190,000 rurals (including Telmori and ducks, according to
> census numbers).
> Sartar is part of the Kethaelan civilisation, at least the cities.

While the ratio of 10+ rurals to 1 urban is plausible
with RW mediaeval cultivation, it rather blows my
suspension of disbelief that Sartar is that urbanised,
especially to the extent of being "one of the most
urbanised" parts of Glorantha. At least, given the
clan and steading based Sartar of the current paradigm,
that is - Celts, Vikings, the old shaggy Germans from
Caesar's Gallic Wars were none of them renowned as
being urbanised; and they had little economic
incentive to form urban areas for settled specialist
trade. Courts, worship places or markets, perhaps,
but few that are town-like.

The nature of Orlanthi culture - especially as
we know that attempts to build a larger scale
civilisation have collapsed in the past - indeed

seems to mitigate against urbanisation. In the
steading, you know these people are kin, and there
is that social binding. When there is selection
on economic grounds (specialist craft niches,
mercantile opportunities), that kin-binding is
at the least weakened.

Now, if we were still back in the naive
Jonstown=Athens mode, I could believe this
degree of urbanisation - the transition between

tribal and civic society had been made in
Classical Greece. I still would expect to
find Sartar well behind Kralorela, Ralios,
Seshnela, Dara Happa, Teshnos and possibly

Fonrit in the significance of urbanisation.

This is one of the things I find so darn
frustrating about Glorantha : the big picture
is wonderful, but every so often along comes
some silly detail which punctures the whole
pretty balloon...

> Yes. However, these roads didn'T necessarily lead to features one
> visit, like e.g. cities.
> Generally, use of the roads is meant to be riskier than using the
> overland route.

If they aren't to be just another bit of background clutter
(the line between useful background colour and
interesting-to-the-Gloranthaphile irrelevance being
an important one to keep in mind, in my experience), then
there do have to be conceivable occasions on which they
would be used by preference.

Back to economics here : if it's easier to plod the mundane
route between your current location and intended destination,
the only use of the magic roads will be for bravado or
ritual reasons; and will generally just be another of

those neat features to mention when you have an attack of
the "guided tour of Glorantha".

Of course if something has happened to make the mundane
journey more difficult - that makes the mundane journey
at least as risky or if the magical road is fast enough
that the detour at each end included still shortens the
journey time and if speed is of the essence and you can
handle the risk, then the magical path will seem the better
option. IIRC, the StormWalk quest from WF had both of those
elements going for it.

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