Bell Digest vol10p04.txt

(Message inbox:233)
Delivery-Date: Sun, 19 Dec 93 18:36:13 -0800
Received: from localhost (uucp@localhost) by (8.6.4/PHILMAIL-1.10) with UUCP id SAA02186 for; Sun, 19 Dec 1993 18:27:41 -0800
Received: from localhost by (8.3/LUCK-AND-DEATH-1.1)
	id TAA14918; Sun, 19 Dec 1993 19:04:58 -0800
Resent-Message-Id: <>
Received: from localhost by (8.3/LUCK-AND-DEATH-1.1)
	id PAA14445; Sun, 19 Dec 1993 15:25:57 -0800
Received: from Sun.COM (Sun.COM []) by (8.6.4/PHILMAIL-1.10) with SMTP id OAA16005 for ; Sun, 19 Dec 1993 14:44:54 -0800
Received: from snail.Sun.COM (snail.Corp.Sun.COM) by Sun.COM (4.1/SMI-4.1)
	id AA25432; Sun, 19 Dec 93 14:41:32 PST
Received: from Holland.Sun.COM (isunnl) by snail.Sun.COM (4.1/SMI-4.1)
	id AA08796; Sun, 19 Dec 93 14:41:23 PST
Received: from glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM by Holland.Sun.COM (4.1/SMI-4.1e)
	id AA12383; Sun, 19 Dec 93 23:41:18 +0100
Received: from yelm.Holland.Sun.COM by glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (4.1/SMI-4.1)
	id AA15641; Sun, 19 Dec 93 23:39:41 +0100
Received: by yelm.Holland.Sun.COM (5.0/SMI-SVR4)
	id AA00558; Sun, 19 Dec 93 23:40:12 +0100
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 93 23:40:12 +0100
Message-Id: <9312192240.AA00558@yelm.Holland.Sun.COM>
Subject: Volume 10, no 4: Sandy Petersen: Essays on Prax
Precedence: bulk
Content-Length: 15216
Status: O
Resent-Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1993 19:04:56 -0800
Resent-From: Shannon Appel 

	Sandy Petersen - Essays on Prax

	General Notes on Prax
	The Great Tribes of Prax
	Lesser Tribes of Prax
	Inora, a Spirit of Prax

	This Digest is a collection of essays which Sandy Petersen has
	written for the RQ Daily on Prax and the Wastelands.


From: (Sandy Petersen)
Subject: General Notes on Prax


Praxian tribes follow their animals' lives and life cycles. When in
doubt, pick up a good book on animal behavior and see what it says,
then try to apply it to the tribe in question. The tribes are
subdivided into clans (each clan has its own khan) and households.
The individual counters in Nomad Gods are generally clan-sized. Some
tribes insert the further subdivision of septs between clans and

The wife owns the herd animals and most of the goods of the household.
The husband owns only his riding animal(s), weapons, and spoils of
war. A typical well-off nomad, with an average household consisting of
a wife and 5 "others" has around 50 cows. About half the cows are
allowed to give birth to a calf in a year. The other half of the cows
are used solely for providing milk (a condition in which they won't
get pregnant). Male calves are generally eaten, but female calves are
usually allowed to grow to adulthood to expand the herd. Most nomads
ride male animals, since they don't get pregnant, and they're often
larger than females.  Foreign animals are prized, because you can eat
them instead of your own animals, thus saving one or more of your own
calves. Old cows that have stopped given milk are also eaten, as are
injured or elderly riding animals. Most nomads hardly ever eat one of
their own tribal animals in its prime -- only as a calf or as an old
or sick beast or rarely for a special feast.  Of course, this makes
foreign animals even more interesting.

During normal times, an Eiritha woman leads the clan. During wartime
or other crises, the Waha Khan is in charge. He gets to decide whether
it is a time of crisis or not.


All the major tribes (except the Sables, of course) were defeated at
Moonbroth. The Morocanth and High Llama tribes sullenly accepted Lunar
dominance, and so are permitted to freely stay in Prax. The highly
favored Sables pick on them all the time, extorting "tribute" and
"tolls" for using the oases. The Bison and Impala folk still wanted to
resist after Moonbroth, and so large gatherings of these two tribes
are forbidden by the Lunars. Since the Lunars don't patrol most of
Prax, the Sables have taken it upon themselves to harass and raid
vigorously whenever Bison and Impala clans are encountered. As a
result, the Bison and Impala folk are mainly in the Wastes nowadays,
with only a few small groups entering Prax, mostly for religious
duties at the Paps, brief raids on their enemies, or adventurous
groups of youths out for a lark.


Hyenas are the main predator of the Wastes, not counting humans. None
of the animal nomads think of them as primarily scavengers,
recognizing them as pack predators that can be quite dangerous. The
hyenas know enough not to harass a party of mounted nomads, but
they'll steal calves at every opportunity. Since they hunt at night,
they are regarded as akin to creatures of Darkness, and Morocanth tame
them in preference to dogs (most Morocanth dislike dogs and vice

Because hyenas devoured Genert's body, they are accursed, and their
peculiar laughing cry is the sign of their mocking attitude towards
existence. As it happens, their devouring of Genert also means that
their corpses count as "part of Genert", and so certain Issaries
merchants, upon encountering corpses of the Praxian species of hyena,
are sometimes required to take a pilgrimage to the Krjalki Bog. This
is regarded as obnoxious enough that most other Lightbringers will
often kill hyenas on sight.


From: (Sandy Petersen)
Subject: The Great Tribes of Prax


They go in immense herds, as you'd expect. A Bison encampment with
only 300 people would be considered small. Even on raids they go in
larger groups than the other tribes. They like to do things together,
like have big ferocious parties, feasts, and weddings, and they train
together to fight in huge masses. During the spring rutting season,
the Bison Rider camps are immobile while they mate their beasts and
wager on the outcomes of bullfights (between bulls -- not bulls vs.
people). During the rest of the year, they're on the move, constantly
striving to find areas with enough fodder for their mass of hungry
animals. Hence, once each year for a couple months, the Bison Riders
must find good grassy ground.

Bison Riders are notoriously easy to steal animals from, and hence
stolen bisons are quite common in other tribe's herds. This is
probably because their herds are so large and mobile, so that
stragglers are common. On the other hand, everyone hates being raided
BY the Bison Riders, because they come charging down on your flock
like a ton of bricks, scatter everything, and grab what they can.
When they're gone, you have to spend days or weeks re-gathering your
scattered herd, and you never find them all, not even counting the
ones stolen by the Bison folk. Those bastards.


Clans are subdivided into Septs. Each sept is made up of one or more
households, and is rarely larger than a few dozen members. Sometimes
it consists of less than ten people. High Llamas don't breed fast, and
their owners have very small herds, much smaller than those of other
Praxians. Hence the High Llama folk do a lot more hunting and
gathering than members of other tribes, who can largely survive off
just the milk and meat from their beasts. Foundchild is very popular
among this clan. They are the originators and best practitioners of
the ubiquitous Praxian sport of hare-sticking, in which the object is
to gallop through the desert until you startle one of the Praxian
jackrabbits. Then you chase the rabbit, trying to stick it with a
lance. If you catch it first, you win. The rabbit often gets away.

The High Llamas do best in areas that have trees, and prefer grazing
on juicy foliage if possible, disliking rough grass, and often
refusing to eat if the proportion of grass to other plants is too
high. In the open plains, this can lead to their masters going out and
rooting up appropriate plants, then bringing back armfuls of leaves
for their mounts to eat. The other Praxians openly sneer at such
pathetic behavior and the canard that High Llamas can't even feed
themselves is commonly flung at their riders.

The High Llama people, with their small septs, might appear
vulnerable, but are well-defended, since they are almost impossible to
surprise, with such fine lookout posts. If a High Llama rider decides
to flee, too, he generally wins the race, as his speedy animal with
its long legs lets him choose the time to fight. Their huge steeds
give them quite an edge in battle if they do choose to fight. They are
naturally hated because of their arrogance.


Typically Impala folk are found in clan ranging in size from a few
dozen to a few hundred, each clan ruled by a khan. An Impala Folk clan
keeps together during the winter to breed, make cheese, etc, but with
dry weather the bachelors are kicked out of the sept, and so go
raiding all summer long. With the onset of winter, they return to the
sept. Their animals prefer dry areas, and get sick if they stay too
long near a riverbed or marsh.

The Impala folk, pygmies all, rarely intermarry with other tribes (who
wants kids too big for their tribal animal?). They engage in Strength
training quite a lot, so many of them can use Composite Bows (in game
terms, they're usually at their Strength Maximum). They're wiry little

Impala Riders are detested by the other clans because all summer long
those damn kids with their bows have nothing to do but harass other
folks, steal cattle, and cause trouble. Also the Impala folks are
masters of riding away from you at full speed, firing arrows as they
flee, and this is quite frustrating to many of their foes.


Technically, the Rhino Riders are one of the Great Tribes, and
supposedly were as large as any other tribe at the Dawn. Now, of
course, they're minute. The Rhino Riders have no clans (or, perhaps,
they have but one clan coterminous with their tribe), but have little
septs. They have tiny little "herds", occasionally consisting of just
one rhino, the owner's steed. Alone among the Praxian tribes, they
often keep foreign animals just to milk, rather than to fatten for
slaughter. They probably eat more vegetable matter than any other
tribe, but this doesn't mean they don't like to hunt. They do, but
their steeds aren't suitable for all hunting styles.

The Rhino riders are a solitude-loving folk, who generally live in
small family groups. Both the other Praxians and the Rhino folk
themselves agree that this is what led to their near-demise, as other,
better-organized, peoples bushwhacked the Rhino folk and overcame them
one by one. The Rhino Riders still live in small family groups, but
they are now organized into septs, and in any given area, all the
family groups of a sept are generally no more than an hour's ride from
the next family group, and if a family is raided, the avenging Rhino
patrols are on the move soon.

The Rhino riders are still the hardest to beat in a fight of any
people in Prax, and that accounts for their continued survival,
despite the limitations of their beasts.


Sable clans are several hundred people in size, with an appropriate
number of herd animals. Each clan is very "nationalistic", with its
own history and traditions. One of the results is that every clan has
its own special type of system for war (which is why there is such a
variety of "tribal weapons" for these guys). They are the most
flexible of the tribes, and their animals can survive almost anywhere.
They are the closest to an "average Praxian" of any tribe, and you
could do worse than pick a Sable Rider for your own PC.

Right now, Sables are disliked by the other tribes because they're a
bunch of arrogant jerks who have displaced worthier groups from the
Paps and good grazing land of Prax. No doubt when the Lunars leave the
other tribes will find other, more traditional reasons to hate the


From: (Sandy Petersen)
Subject: Lesser Tribes of Prax


The plains lion of Prax is now basically extinct. The Basmoli
Berserkers, a Hsunchen people, are in the peculiar position of being
Hsunchen without their animal cohorts. They are fierce hunters, and
mainly hunt the herd animals of the Great Tribes. Always spoiling for
a fight, they are disliked by everyone else. Occasionally the tribe is
able to produce a lion (don't ask), but it is always sterile, unable
to mate and produce more lions. Still, it is a valued tribesmember
while it lives, and it is certainly bad news in a fight.


These people are traces of the lost Golden Age Folk, the people of
Tada. They are proud of their descent. Of course, by now, they've
heavily interbred with the other nomad types. Therefore, traces of the
Golden Age physiognomy are highly valued among these folk, and are
cause for high social rank and desirable marriages.

They worship Eiritha and Foundchild, mostly. Waha is viewed as an
alien god, but Eiritha's usefulness is clear. They don't eat their
lizards, except in emergencies, and live almost exclusively off hunted
prey. They're good hunters, and talented with their bolas. The stupid
lizards lay eggs, of course, and then abandon them. The Bolo-Lizard
Folk carefully mark down where the eggs have been laid, and then
camouflage them as best they can, so that when the eggs hatch, they
can be there to catch the young lizards and try to raise them. It
takes two or three seasons for the hatchlings to attain a size at
which they are able to keep up with the troop, so the owner of a given
egg batch generally takes his beasts up into the foothills of the
Rockwoods to raise the damn things.

Perhaps because of their lifelong battle against their lizard's
instincts (formed when the Wastes were a fertile paradise, and
contrary to common sense nowadays), the Bolo-Lizard folk are famous
for their cynical sense of humor. They are pygmies, like the Impala


The Cannibal Cult is composed of members of many tribes. They worship
and placate the many hungry ghosts infesting Prax (other devastated
lands with such ghosts also often have a Cannibal Cult organization).
These ghosts are well-known to every shaman -- they are hungry, and
never fed. They are cold, and never warmed. They are lonely, and never
loved. If the Cannibal Cult did not propitiate them from time to time,
they would get so hungry that they rose up and killed everyone! What
matter if the Cult derives actual magic benefits from their service?

In addition, there is a very Praxian touch to their madness -- they
believe that everyone else got Waha's decision backwards -- they
believe that we are supposed to eat People, not beasts. (Hence,
they'll eat Morocanth, but dislike herd-men.) Of course, the
difficulty of getting enough people to eat means they've got to settle
for animals and normal beasts on many occasions.

The Cannibal Cult is not without honor -- for one thing, they can only
derive magic power from the body of an enemy. They don't eat their
friends. In addition, the more powerful the enemy eaten, the more
strength they get. For this reason, the Cult naturally cultivates
powerful enemies. Of course, this means that the Cult can never be
very big -- the powerful enemies see to this. Sort of a self-limiting


Probably the puniest tribe in Prax. They're pygmies, and ride big
birds. They eat their birds' eggs, which are laid in fairly large
clutches. Once a year, the birds sit on their eggs and so for that
season (Sea), the tribe is basically immobilized and vulnerable to
large-scale raids. Like many small tribes, they also primarily worship


From: (Sandy Petersen)
Subject: Inora, a Spirit of Prax


She is a winter spirit closely related to Himile, and is the  
goddess of frost -- the Snow Queen, if you will. In Prax, Inora is  
viewed as just another powerful spirit to be contacted for her  
benefits. In less arid country, she is regarded as a malign entity to  
be propitiated. I imagine that SOMEWHERE in Glorantha she has an  
organized cult, but she's pretty minor. She shows up in Yelmalio's  
Hill of Gold quest as an enemy to be endured just before the chaos  
monsters come. The spell she teaches at shrines (and to the Praxians)  
causes all the ground within range to be frozen, and the plants to be  
covered with frost. When the sun comes up, this rapidly melts and  
everyone enjoys the moisture. In Sartar, her spell causes the  
equivalent of an ice storm, and is quite aggravating.