Aeolians and Traditionalists in my campaign (long)

From: Joerg Baumgartner (joe@toppoint.de)
Date: Tue 31 Aug 1999 - 03:20:21 EEST


Petteri asked how the Aeolians get along whit the "true" orlanth people
who live in Heortland.

In my campaign, they got along well. The region I played in was
sufficiently urbanized that the Aeolian religion dominated even the
temples of rural marketplaces. Aeolian temples were indistishingable
from traditional Orlanthi temples in respect to associate and subcult
shrines, which worked exactly as for traditional Orlanthi. So did the
divine magic of the main deity.

The difference was in the distribution of spirit magic. Aeolian temples
were not places where you could access spirit magic spell teaching
easily - you would need a traditionalist priest who would be allowed to
use the temple resources, since the Aeolian priesthood regards fighting
spirits to steal their magic as primitive and uneffective.

(Note that the campaign used the last RQ4-AiG draft I'm aware of - as a
playtest game - which had slightly better starting chances for sorcery
spells even for non-apprentices. I allowed the use of Intensity to up to
spell skill divided by 10, as the draft did, for initiate Aeolians. The
draft made a difference between low sorcery and high sorcery spells
(mainly difficulty ranking and accessibility) which allowed me to make
certain spells unavailable to initiates as they were ranked high sorcery
- - among the limited access was damage boosting, but not Bless Weapon
(increases weapon attack by 5% per MP). A couple of useful house rules
made the game go smoothly but makes application for standard RQ3
somewhat hard, like a limit to healing magic.)

The Aeolians regarded the traditionalists as rustics who lacked some
sophistication, but were co-religionists in most of the ways which
mattered. Their dimly expounded views on Solace through Orlanth's Hall
regarded use of spirit magic as somewhat tainting, delaying Solace for
another cycle of Rebirth.

The traditionalists were tolerated, and had unrestricted access to all
the divine magic of their cults. There was little other restriction to
access to spirit magic other than that most urban temples wouldn't teach
any - find a rural shrine, wisewoman or kolating and learn what spell
you like.

Rural aeolianized temples would teach some spirit magic at shrines,
though not at the main temple. Given all the Orlanth subcults, big deal
for overall availability, although more services to obscure shrines had
to be held in order to refresh the spell-teaching spells. (RQ4-AiG had
some well-thought out ideas about the amount of worship - not just head
count of initiates, but also frequency and intensity of worship -
neccessary to maintain a shrine, and thereby a priest or godi.) Or they
would have a shrine to Orlanth Aeolus, Orlanth the wizard, in (or rather
on) an otherwise normal Orlanth temple (hilltop).

For a rule of thumb, the farther you got from the royal highways
connecting Jansholm with Mt. Passant and the coastal cities with the
mainland, the less common were the Aeolians. Half a day walking away
from the road, and chances were you might find a shrine to Orlanth
Aeolus rather than an Aeolian temple, and anything further, there would
be no Aeolian presence at all.

Orlanth the Wizard would be little more than a parallel to the Four
Weapons subcult, with no divine magic but a set of personal magic stolen
from the knights and wizards of the west. I'm afraid I never wrote the
fairly simple myth for this, involving claims of kinship Orlanth used in
the Malkioni lands to the descendants of his nephew Aerlit and his son,
Malkion.

About Aeolian church history:

I'm fairly sure that Aeol - the founding saint/hero of this subcult,
according to David Hall (in How the West Was One) the knowing companion
of Harmast Barefoot on his first Lightbringers' Quest - did use some
genuine memory of storm worship found in the west, on or shortly after
the Lightbringers' Quest which produced Arkat, and claimed ties to the
sorcery from there. It is known that Harmast combined various previously
unconnected myths and mythlets into one coherent LBQ, and also that he
discarded a couple of uncomfortable or unfamiliar ones. IMO the bit
about wizardry might have been a part of the myths - both times he
produced Malkioni heroes - but faced with Arkat's betrayals, this part
was struck from the commonly accepted gospel, except where Aeol himself
taught a different version of the LBQ, the core myths of which survived
as just another magic weapon subcult which lay dormant for quite some
time.

During the God Learner presence in southern Kethaela, the subcult of
Orlanth the Wizard was hostile to the Machine Project, but did steal
knowledge and doctrine from the God Learners. The region Heortland per
se was hostile to the God Learners, and the two nearby God Learner
cities in Lylket (below Shadow Plateau) and Locsil aka Clanking City
were colonies which housed mainly Malkioni immigrants and refugees from
the EWF.

The subcult gained some more importance when the neo-Stygian (i.e. God
Learner-influenced reconstructions of Arkati cults, with some of the God
Learner "we take from all magics" approach) Trader Princes from Ralios
entered Kethaela overland. In addition, the traditionalist Orlanthi of
Heortland were suffering from the unresolved schism between the
Alakoring Rex cult of Orlanth which clashed with the
Heortling/Vingkotling tradition of kingship in large tribes in
Heortland. This schism was resolved in favour of the Heort/Vingkot
method of kingship and other aspects of worship during the civil wars of
1313-1350, and caused most of the Alakoringite worshippers to shut up in
the highlands, or emigrate to Dragon Pass.

During these civil wars, the subcult of Orlanth Aeolus, the Wizard,
first appeared as the Aeolian Church of Heortland. It happened to
support the ancient ways of kingship, and also a slightly western system
of providing the king with chivalry, so it was promoted to a
state-supporting role against the rebellious elements, and collected a
number of favours which it called in during the subsequent years.
Supported by crafters guilds who found some of the sorcery more useful
for their trade than traditional spirit magic ever was, kings and nobles
who appreciated the regular support of the cnihts (knights) of Heortland
whose fealty went to the king as well as to their clan lairds
(chieftains), and by the sizeable portion of pan-Kethaelan urban
population in the cities of Heortland, the church managed to take the
tithing in the city temples from the traditionalist priests, and managed
to suppress the teaching of spirit magic in the main temples.

Of course this helped to piss off the traditionalist Orlanthi of the
Alakoring faction, and may have troubled those of the Heort/Vingkot
faction as well. However, the period between 1313 and 1350 was one of
confrontation, not conciliation, and extreme viewpoints were "discussed"
just like here on the digest, only with swords as arguments. Fact is
that a lot of the settlers of Dragon Pass had religious reasons for
settling there, and that adherents of the victorious directions found
space to expand where the traditionalist extremists who had headed for
the pass had left. (I don't know if David Dunham's page still holds Pam
Carlson's story of Theya Twomother, which tells the sad tale of this
time from the emigrant POV. If so, somewhere among the Taming of Dragon
Pass pages...)

Those Orlanthi who remained behind learned to arrange with the status
quo very much like the Orlanthi in Peloria learned to live with Hwarin
Dalthippa's conquest of their lands - after all it is remarkable that
the Provinces remained part of the Lunar Empire even during the Sheng
Seleris century when there was hardly any imperial Lunar power to
enforce the Red Goddess and the teachings which had reached them barely
30 years before the nomad invasions, i.e. about the same time-frame as

the Heortland conversions, and about as complete since the backwater
regions remained little touched by any changes while the main trade
routes displayed the strongest changes. Of course it helped that the
Aeolians did nothing to diminish the status of Orlanth - they even added
another opponent overcome and robbed to the myths. All they did was to
change the access to the lesser magics, replacing one method by a
different one.

IMO the church became less arrogant during the consolidation conquests
of 1350 to 1370 during which southern Heortland was taken from God
Forgot control, including the "liberation of Mt. Passant" and the
conquest of Refuge, especially when the foes were God Forgot sorcerers
and their knight mercenaries which could be overcome only with the
support of the foothills clans which had remained thoroughly
traditionalist. Some of the knights switched sides when their holdings
had been taken over by the king, and took them as fief from the King of
Heortland. Others remained aloof from the Orlanthi - Aeolian or
otherwise - and gathered in the Praxian Marches. (Quite generally, I
regard the southern plateau of Heortland as the most westernized part of
the land, and the region north of Jansholm and east of the royal
highways as the least westernized. I even think that the higher valleys
of the Storm Mountains are the home to even more aboriginal Orlanthi
using shamans rather than priests, with clans only temporal and hearths
the main social unit.)

The early fifteenth century was a period of comparable peace both in
Dragon Pass (consolidated by the Kingdom of Tarsh) and Heortland. Trade
began to increase through the pass. Long absent sophisticated craft
items returned to the degenerate settlers in the pass, produced with the
help of secret guild lore in Heortland. Then Tarsh dominance crumbled
with the Tarshite civil wars after the deaths of Orios (around 1450) and
Pyjeemsab (1490), and changes in the southern parts of the path led to
the principality of Sartar in Quivini lands and the contest between
Sartar and the FHQ.

Heortland still remained separated from the Dragon Pass Orlanthi by the
Kitori tribe which controlled the entire Marzeel Valley above
Smithstone, and probably well down to the Solthi River. Under the
civilizing and pacifying influence of the Pharaonic reign, having lost
two generations of the most rebellious leaders to the Pass, and ruled by
strong kings above petty tribal squabbles, the Orlanthi of the Heortland
lowlands had come to terms with their cohabitation of sorcery and older
ways. The country became quite urbanized, too - probably 30 to 40% of
the flat parts of the plateau are plowland or cleared pasture, compared
to maybe 20% in still densely settled Tarsh or Sartar. Warriors could
prove themselves against Kitori trolls and occasional chaos swarms in
the north, against Praxians in the south, or as pharaonic mercenaries in
western and northern Esrolia.

For a while, Sartar's new principality drew urban settlers northwards,
through enemy (Kitori) territory - very much like the nascent cities of
the Hanseatic League along the Baltic Sea imported skilled craftspeople
from central and southern Germany.

The Kitori were overcome by Tarkalor and his Elmali and Volsaxi allies
around 1545, and the Marzeel Valley became Volsaxi territory while
Monrogh Lantern founded Sun Dome County.

Then the tides of war turned against Sartar (after 1555), and part of
the population - including branches of the line of Sartar - returned
south to Heortland. Later, more refugees followed, probably after
Grizzley Peak in 1582 and Righteous Wind 1611, definitely after Boldhome
1602 and Larnste's Table 1613. This reflux of arch-traditionalist
Orlanthi has been starting to return a certain tension between
Traditionalist Orlanthi and Aeolians. In addition, an influx of
thoroughly un-Orlanti mercenary knights from Wenelia and Ralios -
culminating in the arrival of Richard the Tigerhearted and his Seshnegi
- - started more aggressive (or as they called themselves, "progressive")
tendencies within the Aeolian Church.

This way, my campaign had traditional Orlanthi (recently arrived after
Starbrow's rebellion) and Aeolians from the same rural market near
Jansholm, freely mixing sorcery-using Orlanthi and "standard"
Sartarite-style Orlanthi, some with little, others with much animosity.
The campaign set them first against various raiders (trolls, wolf
pirates in 1616), then slowly against the Seshnegi mercenaries (I made
Mularik Ironeye first sheriff, then Duke of Jansholm) and pro-Broyan.
Getting the bad end from the Seshnegi, the Tarshite-commanded Lunars of
1620 were to be greeted as liberators (from Mularik's misrule and Rokari
fanatical iconoclasts usurping the Aeolian temples under his
protection), only to have the ascendancy of Tatius after Whitewall turn
the Lunars into oppressors.

MOB has taken up the fates of some drifters from Heortland as his NPCs
in Wyrm's Hold (Tales 13), and I have several campaign and scenario
cameos in progress for my website which deal with the thorns of
allegiances during this period.

P.S: In my role as regional expert for Dragon Pass, I'm afraid I might
have to tell you that all of the above was IMG only, and that newly
invented stuff has to supercede these ideas which have grown up between
quite a couple of people lacking official material. I do hope to find a
way to reconcile the new ideas and different history which are going to
be published soon with the Aeolian ideas I've described above, and the
way the Aeolians were pictured in other games - most notably in How the
West Was One, and as a side issue in MOB's Wyrms Hold scenario in Tales
13.

------------------------------

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