Re: Orlanthi temples and holy places

From: Mark Galeotti <>
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000 12:22:29 -0000


Just a quick belated thought about this debate.

Manu noted:

> I thaought the Lunars were smarter than that. No
> surprise they lost the war...

And John replied that

> The Lunars are primarily an urban folk, [snip]
> They don't really understand the nature of steads (halfway
> between a farm and a village) and so look to the few
> Sartarite cities and towns as the measure of Sartarite
> population, religious activity and resistence.

On the whole, I agree with you, John, but it is important to note that imperial commanders are not all effete Dara Happan urbanites - the southern tier of provinces such as Sylilia provide troops and officers from only partially assimilated peoples. Of course, there might be some truth in the suggestion that when you get commanders like Tatius, these provincials might have trouble having their voices heard, but at least on a tactical level they should understand about steads, sacred hills, etc.

As well as the cultural issue, there is a practical military issue. The empire cannot garrison the countryside, or at least not without committing more resources than it believes this theatre merits. To lock down a countryside, rough terrain, against locals who know it well, is a formidable task. Consider the trouble the Russians are having against the Chechens - not a very good example considering how appallingly the Russian army has degenerated, but they can't control the terrain despite their having helicopter gunships and the Chechens - unlike the Sartarites - not having access to friendly local spirits, etc.

So the empire has three main options:

  1. Ethnic cleansing. They've done this on a clan basis, but a massive programme of depopulation/forced migration is again labour intensive and hardly very We Are All Us!
  2. Cooptation. Finding and supporting quislings to do the job for them. It's been tried with mixed success - Temertain on one extreme, Ironfist on the other - but relies on understanding the local social dynamic so you pick the right quisling, and here again your cultural point applies. Imperial strategists might understand tribal politics in general, but how well, for example, so they understand the precise balance of power, feud and kin obligation in, say, the Far Point? The danger is that you link yourself to a 'puppet' who actually uses you to his own ends and actually stirs up exactly the trouble you were trying to avoid. What's that you say about Far Point...?
  3. Lines of Communication. Or you dig in for the long haul, accept that all you can do is hold the main centres, make a suitably gruesome example when the locals get too cocksure in the countryside and mount patrols just to remind them you exist. You know that The Natives are up to no good in their consecrated groves and atop their sacred hills, but you rely on the power of the Moon and the army to protect you, occasionally sow them whose boss and bit by bit, through trade and co-optation, evangelism and example, start to woo them. Even if this generation continue sullenly to hate you, what about the next. The empire probably (and in this case wrongly) thinks it can plan on a generational scale.

So the empire is adopting what it thinks is its best option. It has worked well elsewhere before, surely these Orlanthi will in time be subjugated, pacified and assimilated the same way... Surely?

All the best,


End of The Glorantha Digest V8 #112

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