Lunar Trading families background for convention demo

From: daniel posselt <>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 14:03:02 -0800 (PST)

Greetings, all -

I'm not exactly a newbie, but it's been an awful long time since I posted. I blame my company's shift to Mime-encoding - I was too embarassed to post directly.  I'm posting this via a web email account; I trust it won't look too horrible, my apologies if it does.

In any case, I'm writing for background advice. I'd like to run a demo session at the upcoming Dundracon in the bay area, but unfortunately I don't like any of the precanned scenarios for HW (sorry, folks). So I thought I'd develop my own, but I'd like to check my assumptions with this group, as I'm frankly not a very experienced Glorantha GM (or whatever the title is).

First, the scenario overview. I have a great fondness for Lunars, so I'm planning on setting this in the empire. The story is as follows: the characters are members or employees of a reasonably successful trading family, which is sponsored by another, more powerful family. The players' family (let's call it 'PF') has a strong rival in their city; this rival is sponsored by the rival of PF's sponsor (if you follow me). PF is awaiting an important shipment, the non-arrival of which will cause severe economic problems. The shipment, naturally, doesn't arrive.

Initial story: search by the PF will find the remains of the shipment, destroyed somewhere outside of the city. The attackers can be tracked back to be an unknown group of highway brigands; who can be found to have given it to a mysterious figure; who then put it in the rivals warehouse before they're found dead.

Questions for everyone -

  1. the hierarchy of patronage is important to this plot. The player's family, being powerful in their city, would sponsor less fortunate people in their city; they in turn are sponsored by another family in the capital. I base this view on the patronage system in Rome, in which people had to turn to their patrons for representation in the courts, protection against violence, etc. I'd like to know how relevant this is to the Empire; and whether it's more true of a particular culture in the empire (DH, Pelorian, Carmanian, modern Lunar, etc) than another.
  2. likewise the structure of the trading family is interesting. what with the dart wars, etc, I would imagine that any important LE family would be at least somewhat militarized. I would imagine that even a trading family would have a small fighting force, with a commander, plus some skilled magicians, etc. I find myself thinking of the positions in (please forgive me) Dune, where the family had a weaponmaster, a mentat/magician, etc. Is this view fairly accurate? If so, some specific questions:
    • what percentage of a trading house could reasonably expected to be skilled fighters? 15%? 25%?
    • what background might these fighters have - trained in-house? or cashiered soldiers?
    • for a moderately large house, what magicians could be expected to belong to it or be employed by it? Obviously Irripi Ontor, Lokarnos, and related cults, but what others? Yanafal Tarnils seems too martial; perhaps Annilla would be appropriate? What about carmanian sorcerors, etc?
  3. What name sources should be used? It seems that Carmanians would be Turkish, Dara Happan Latin, Pelorian Egyptian - is that vaguely correct? (this is, btw, one of the best things about Pendragon - the name lists - that would be great to copy in the forthcoming player handbooks).

And now, some specific scenario-design questions:

  1. Where should this be set? It should be an important city (to give me a chance to have some fun with everything that goes on there), but not glamour or one of the Tripolis, as the players' family shouldn't be so important in a large city. This is tied perhaps to the next question:
  2. What is launching this 3rd family into action? Presumably something has changed in the city to make it a more useful market. Perhaps the conquest of Esrolia, etc, make trading towards the south more desirable?
  3. What would be important for them to expect? I was thinking (to go back to an earlier topic) that this would be an iron shipment, perhaps coming from the new mines in the Von Hills. So having the 3rd family at least partially block that supply route would make the southern route from Gembourg that much more valuable.

Thanks to everyone in advance. I'm sure I'll have more questions about this in the future, but that's probably enough to load the digest with for now!

If anyone would like to be a more detailed reviewer for the scenario once I write it up, please let me know.


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