So, why did Sartar found Sartar anyway?

From: Ben Waggoner (
Date: Tue 12 Jun 2001 - 01:09:39 EEST


    In some recent bathroom browing through KoS, I was thinking about how
unique Sartar and his actions where for Orlanthi society, and how little
indication in the published sources as to what he was actually up to.

What we know:

    He was a Lanarsti from Heortland, and the only one who ever was able to
leave, at the cost of not being able to return. He then shows up in Sartar,
initially spending a few years wandering around and doing non-violent good
deeds. These deeds eventually focus on building larger political entities,
and peace between former enemies, and end in the formation of the unified
Sartar kingdom. Sartar eventually apotheoses, leaving behind a hereditary
kingship. No one seems to mind this, although we know the foundation of
hereditary kingship in Tarsh was met with opposition by traditionalist
Orlanthi factions.
    The nation of Sartar is founded just a year after the birth of Lunar
Tarsh, and the history of the nation is very focused on stopping

    Unlike most Gloranthan heroes, Sartar seems to have much less of a dark
side, or the morally ambiguous "can't make an omelet without breaking eggs"
set of attitudes and deeds we expect.

    Why does he do this?

The Do Gooder Theory:
    One possibility is that he left Heortland for any of the usual reasons,
like a political/religious dispute with the Pharaoh, and came to Dragon Pass
like any other refugee. As a Lanarsti, he had some kind of peacemaking role
(we know the sheriffs in Heortland used Lanarsti magics, and otherwise
supplanted that role). Perhaps he did the typical "Kung Fu" wandering
troubleshooter in a troubled land thing, which eventually snowballed into
forming a kingdom.

The It's Good to be King Theory:
    Sartar wanted to be a king. The King of Heortland was traditionally
drawn from the Lanarsti, a practice that was ended. Given his evident
magical and political skills, he might have felt he would have been king
    If this was his goal, Sartar would have done it in an atypically
farsighted fashion. For someone with that kind of huge ambition, it would
take unusual insight to figure out the best way to do it is to NEVER engage
in direct violence against anyone.

The Wants to be a God Theory:
    Sartar wanted to be a God, for some unknown reason. So he found a place
he could band together in worship of him, and founded a heriditary
priesthood of his descendants to keep his worship alive.
    Again, it would take exceptional understanding to find the nonviolent
road to this goal. Also, not that many of those who have apotheosized since
time began seem to have had that as their primary goal. Instead, they were
generally trying to work for a more tangible goal.

The Stop the Lunars Theory:
    This is my favorite, not because it is better supported by the evidence,
but seems to have the highest MGF.

    For one reason or another, Sartar realized the fate of the world, or at
least of Heortland, required the formation of Sartar. This could either be
as a buffer kingdom between the Holy Country and Tarsh. Or perhaps he knew
an Argrath could only be born on the slopes of Kero Fin. Perhaps given some
kind of cryptic GM-style divination like "Warrior nation, peace-forged,
turns Red White." I'm not sure how much Heortlanders would have known about
the Lunar empire at this point. Clearly, the headache-inducing Red Moon
itself would be hard to miss, and there were probably some refugees and
wanderers that skirted around Dragon Pass to tell tales of what happened in
the north.
    Given that, his goal is to turn Sartar into a united, militarily capable
entity that can withstand the southward spread of the Lunars.

    Again, the birth of Lunar Tarsh is followed by the founding of Sartar
just a year later. And Sartar rapidly becomes involved in keeping Tarsh
independent of the Lunars, and keeps at it as long as possible, an unusually
consistent goal for Orlanthi. Perhaps this mission is part of the legacy
left to Sartar's heirs, either orally or through divination? One clue to
suggest this is Dorasor's founding of New Pavis after a divination of the
need to provide a place for refuge.

    One thing that encourages this theory is the focus the heirs of Sartar,
including Argrath, apply on destroying the Lunar Empire. In Argrath's case,
he REALLY REALLY wanted to muck up the Lunars badly in order to take a
doubled LBQ in order to bring back Sheng Seleris. There were plenty of
other useful allies that could have been returned without being the
inevitable difficulty Sheng would be, and the cost of the second Quest. The
Only Old One would have been an interesting alternative. A very useful ally
to have, if they could have kept their interests aligned (the OOO seems to
have been a pretty good ruler and neighbor). A unified Holy Country would
have made an excellent ally during the wars. (speaking of which, do we have
any idea what goes on in the Holy Country after 1630 or so?).

The Secret Mission from the Pharaoh Theory:
    What Belintar was up to is an even bigger Mystery of Glorantha than
Sartar. While he was obviously very willing to break eggs for his
particular omelet, he doesn't seem to have had much territorial ambition
beyond the traditional borders of the Holy Country, and quickly acceded to
Ironhoof's border. Perhaps he had some idea what was coming, and so sent
Sartar north to create a buffer stand between himself the Lunars.
Alternatively, for magical reasons he had to keep the borders, and thus
could only protect himself with a buffer state.

    If that was the plan, it certainly didn't work in the end (although it
arguably gained him a century or more - the disunited clans of pre-Sartar
Dragon Pass wouldn't have lasted long against the Lunars). Of course, NO
secret plans in Glorantha work forever.


- -Ben Waggoner


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