Re: The Glorantha Digest V8 #251

From: Martin Dick <>
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2001 13:56:35 +1100

John Hughes wrote:
> Martin, some great ideas on Sartar and his legacy. So tell us what Day 88
> means (Wind/Stasis/Fire).
> Cheers
> John

I don't know :-), it's one of those weird things about Sartar, that I'm unsure about. I'll think about it.


Peter Metcalfe wrote:

General comment, yes, the Composite History of Dragon Pass is unreliable, but much more unreliable in my opinion for later events than earlier events.

> Martin Dick:
> >Given that the way Sartar managed to build his power and influence
> >amongst the Dragon Pass Orlanthi was to 'interfere' in the affairs
> >of tribes and clans and individuals,
> He did? All I can see is events external to the tribe and clans.
> As I've pointed out before, the record of the Princes of Sartar
> is the record of public works and defense of the realm. There's
> scant material about them resolving internal problems unlike that
> of the Emperors of Dara Happa.

Some examples of things internal to clans and tribes

Turns a band of assassins into termites to save the sleeping family of the Colymar King.

Settled a war between the Kultain, Locaem, Balmyr and Sambari tribes

Built Wilmskirk with the above tribes and created the City Ring

Formed the Jonstown Confederation

Formed the Swenstown Confederation at the explicit invitation of the tribes in that areas and then later manages to get them to accept the Pol Joni

The magic stone of the Anzarni clan

His habit of travelling in disguise amongst the people of Sartar and actively interfering/helping/rewarding/punishing those he comes across

Page 218 of KoS

"He moved for many years among the Quivini ... Over that time he proved his great and unusual power by bringing peace and compromise to the tribes."

"He was the friend of kings and priests, but also of the _common folk_. No one can forget when the folk of the Aranwyth tribe supported him in court against their own priests and nobles, and won."

Doesn't sound like a man who only dealt with events external to the tribes and clans.

> There is material about Sartar blessing the ordinary people, but
> none of his heirs do this. A major internal problem that we do
> know about, the problem of the Elmali, was not resolved by the
> Prince of Sartar but festered on for several years. It was
> resolved by Tarkalor, who wasn't Prince at the time, seeking to
> make a name for himself, rather than working for the good of
> Sartar.

It's true that sort of detail isn't given for his heirs but, what is given is very short, not counting Salinarg, we have three pages for 80 years of history, and it obviously concentrates on the threats to Sartar as a nation. In addition, I find it hard to believe that his heirs immediately abandoned his precepts and beliefs and suddenly become remote kings sitting in Boldhome with little concern for the common folk.

Of course, this could have been a trend amongst his descendants until Salinarg and this is why the Ring of Sartar was able to be broken by the Lunars, because they did become more remote and did neglect the precepts and beliefs of the Founder, the Household of Death being the final breaking with those ideals.

Hmmm, the Elmali problem, a major internal problem solved by one Tarkalor. That wouldn't happen to be the Tarkalor who is the grandson of Sartar would it? The Tarkalor who ended up being the Prince of Sartar?

KoS page 139 in the section describing his reign

"Tarkalor brought peace with the sun worshippers at last."

The Tarkalor who (page 44 of KoS) "And also he made many fine buildings of the city for guilds and commoners, and the beggar's bedrow, too."

> >I'm only guessing of course, but I imagine, Sartar regularly
> >turned up on his tribes/clans doorstep, saying "I hear there is
> >a problem going on, can I help?" and then solving the situation
> >peacefully to the satisfaction of all concerned.
> And turning up to resolve an internal problem within a clan
> or tribe would be deeply shameful to the clan or tribe. If
> they accept his help to resolve something they should have
> been able to handle themselves, they are proclaiming to all
> and sundry that they are incompetent spazmos that couldn't
> follow Orlanth's way.

Well, then there must be a lot of spazmos in the Balmyr, Locaem, Kultain, Sambari, Culbrea, Maboder, Cinsina, Aranwyth, Balkoth, Dundealos and Kheldon tribes, because all of these had Sartar actively involved in their affairs.

Remember, these are Orlanthi and Ernaldans, they are not worshippers of Vadrus.

> >and that is what the
> >Ring of Sartar is, a very powerful bonding magic which was in
> >parallel to their clan and tribal loyalties and not instead of
> >them.
> Given that Sartar's cult is a hero cult, I see no evidence
> that the Ring of Sartar affects each and every Sartarite in
> this way. Besides his rune was change, not harmony.

"The cult of Sartar continued after his apotheosis. His voice was heard in the Flame, and his magics worked for the heirs of his Kingdom. ... The spirit of Sartar continued to live in the hearts and souls of the people, ..."

KoS page 138

> > > >Boldhome is described as an 'impossible city' in Intro
> > > >to Glorantha, created by Sartar, a significant chunk
> > > >of it in one day, hardly the magic of one checkbox.
> > > But Boldhome was made with the aid of the dwarves, not by
> > > the Cult of Sartar. It was made to validate his kingship
> > > and provide proof as to why the tribes should support him.
> >And it was the equivalent of one check box of magic how?
> Pardon? Boldhome is made with the aid of _dwarves_, not by
> the Cult of Sartar.
> >The descriptions don't seem to indicate that he had
> >any help with building the walls,
> >"He established the famous city of Boldhome by erecting
> >the walls overnight"
> "Finally to answer an ancient prophecy, he built
> Boldhome in a powerful and beautiful valley, high
> amidst the Quivini crags. He was aided by the
> race of dwarfish Mostali."
> KoS p218

So for all the walls and cities which he built, all he was actually doing was acting as a supervisor to a work crew of dwarves. I don't really see that as the case, sure they helped, but I'm going to be very surprised if it turns out that was all he did. I'm sure Sartar's magic was crucial to allowing the walls to be built overnight.

And if it wasn't, then I'll say in my personal opinion, that is a much more boring scenario.

> >I really don't beleive that tribes can actively participate
> >in city life, rituals and development for over a century
> >without their being something beyond "what's in it for me"
> >for a lot of people, just the interchange of bloodlines via
> >marriage would ensure this.
> Interchange of Bloodlines via marriage occurs among all
> Orlanthi. Despite this, they are still very much "what's
> in it for me" with respect to other Orlanthi, not part of
> their clan or tribe.

And all the other stuff I mentioned?

> > > [The Cities] were there before the Kingdom of Sartar. Their
> > > existence is not dependant on the cult of Sartar as other
> > > Orlanthi have formed such confederations without Sartar's aid.
> > > Sartar was instrumental in their making, but not essential to
> > > their continued existence.
> >I can't see any evidence one way or the other for this, but I
> >would be astounded that after creating the city rings, Sartar
> >and his line weren't heavily involved in them.
> What do you mean "heavily involved"? Dealt with them on
> a day by day basis? Yes. That the City Rings required
> the cult of Sartar to survive? No.

There is a difference between surviving and achieving your best. Just because it didn't fall to pieces immediately the Ring of Sartar broke, doesn't mean that the City Rings haven't been hurt by the brealking of the Ring of Sartar.

The logic to me is that, if Sartar created the City Ring magic, and was instrumental in the creation of each specific city ring, then obviously his magic is a major part of it. The following quote supports this KoS page 138 " ... and the cities assumed lives of their own as well." after the apotheosis of Sartar.

So after his apotheosis, the city rings developed independently, to the point that in 1602 when the Ring of Sartar broke, it didn't break the City Rings, which it probably would have done in 1520. That doesn't mean that they have become totally separate from the Ring of Sartar, in exactly the same way that a clan ring will survive the breakup of a tribal ring, doesn't mean that the clan ring walks away without any problems at all being caused by the breakup.

> > > No. Your claim is that a belief in Sartar would have
> > > kept a lid on such grievances. I believe [...]
> >Actually I never claimed that, I said that the Cult of
> >Sartar/Ring of Sartar/Nation of Sartar changed the Dragon
> >Pass Orlanthi from what they were like before Sartar.
> The cult of Sartar being the belief in Sartar that I mentioned
> before. And since Sartar is only a hero, I do find the notion
> of him changing the Orlanthi to such a degree rather implausible.

He's at least on the same level as Alakoring and Harmast, both who have had major impacts on Orlanthi culture. Sartar is unusual in that he is a pacifistic hero, I doubt that he ever wanted to change all of Orlanthi Culture. he saw a situation which he could change, i.e Dragon Pass and then he changed it and decided not to go further with it, unusual for a hero, but hey Sartar is by any definition an unusual hero.

> > > You are not seeing things the Orlanthi way. The social
> > > cosmos is constructed upon kinship ties. You support
> > > your closest kin (the clan) and then your tribe. Beyond
> > > the tribe and clan, kinship ties are very thin and most
> > > Orlanthi ignore them (but the tribal ring members do not).
> >The recent heavy emphasis on kinship ties is really neat, but
> >we can take it too far. Kinship is a very elastic notion IMO
> >amongst the Orlanthi. Let's look at the LightBringers, all
> >members of the Storm Tribe
> They have been accepted into the Storm Tribe and so they are
> kin by definition. Yelm, even though he is related to a
> couple of Storm tribe members (Orlanth, Elmal etc), is not
> considered kin because he is not within the storm tribe. Yes,
> the Orlanthi do take the concept of kinship ties too far IMO.

Yes, aren't they flexible, they can take total strangers in and consider them kin, they can take psychotic lunatics like Urox, Vadrus and Eurmal in as kin, but considering that the clan in the next valley might be kin, that's beyond the pale?

As an aside, how is Yelm related to Orlanth? Umath is the son of Gata and Aether, I guess Yelm is a son of Aether?

> >If most Orlanthi ignore their kinship ties beyond the tribe and
> >clan in Sartar and the tribal clan ring don't then they won't
> >be on the tribal clan ring for long in an Orlanthi environement,
> >IMO.
> The ring members are _politicians_. They are skilled at making
> their people accept unpleasant decisions (like pay Lunar taxes).

Yes, and as politicians they have to be actively concerned with desires of those they represent, especially in the small town politics we are talking of. I doubt that paying Lunar taxes is something that the average Orlanthi is not thinking about an awful lot. Paying taxes is a major preoccupation of farmers, having come from the country and grown up among farmers, I can assure you this is the case.

> >Finally, don't you think that a Sartar where there is a current
> >of mythical unity and nationalism, not a Sartar, Sartar Uber Alles
> >nationalism, but a mythical/religious one is more interesting
> >than one where such a stream of thought is some insignificant
> >minority.
> All forms of nationalism are mythical. Even though there is
> widespread nostalgia for the Kingdom of Sartar, this does not
> mean that all Sartarites co-operate with each other just
> because they are Sartarites. Even in the RW, regional and
> kinship rivalries play a significant part in nation-states.

You keep implying that I'm saying _all_ Orlanthi say this, in fact immediately after the part you quote, I said

>>It doesn't have to be the majority, in fact it would
>>be boring if it was the majority, but if the other half of the
>>Orlanthi all (15%) were believers in Sartar the nation

so as a person who objects to being straw-manned strongly, it would be nice if you refrained from the practice :-(

I have never said _all_ and never will say _all_, that would be boring and un-Orlanthi.

> Date: Mon, 05 Feb 2001 22:14:07 +1300
> From: Peter Metcalfe <>
> Subject: Sartar during the Occupation
> Martin Dick
> >Yes, Temertain is a true heir of Sartar technically, but
> >does he wield the magic of Sartar?
> Does Kallyr? Anything that you say against Temertain can
> also be said against Kallyr.

Exactly and then I went on to say that would explain Kallyr's problems could be explained by this, so I'm not sure what your point is.

My point is that a true heir of Sartar, would be able to light the flame and use the magics of Sartar. In 1613, Kallyr can't do that, so her rebellion fails. In 1625, maybe she can do that, maybe she's taken a different path.

Whether Kallyr is a true heir of Sartar is actually irrelevant to the discussion about what the effect of a true heir of Sartar turning up would do. In 1613, she obviously can't prove that she is a true heir of Sartar, later who knows?

> >Argrath was much more successful in the long run and what did
> >he do with the Flame? KOS page 156
> 1627 - Queen Kallyr lights the flame of Sartar, fire/water/stasis.
> Events of My Life, KoS p212.
> Don't believe everything you read in the Composite History
> of Dragon Pass. Furthermore future events are irrelevant
> to the issue of who the true heir of Sartar is during the
> occupation today (1621).

Hmmm, that might be why I suggested Argrath faked the ceremony, because I don't think that anything said about Argrath in that book can be trusted.

Regardless whether it was Argrath or Kallyr who did it, it was clearly a key point in the rebellion of Sartar, allowing he/she to cement their place as Prince of Sartar.

> > > >But of course this is why the Lunars
> > > >support Temertain, as I said earlier, because he blocks a
> > > >lot of the political support that would accrue to another
> > > >heir of Sartar.
> > > This is IMO simplistic for two reasons. Firstly, the "Lunars"
> > > are far from a monolithic ideology and their policies on what
> > > should be done changes every now and then.
> >And this prevents it from being a reason because?
> I just explained. You keep talking about the Lunars this and
> the Sartarites that. Some Lunars may desire the above but
> others do not.

In what way? Because some Lunars didn't agree with the policy of putting Temertain on the throne, this somehow means that the Lunars who did put Temertain on the throne didn't see it a method to block other claimants to the throne such as Kallyr?

Clearly the Lunars such as Fazzur and others after him who put him on the throne and protected him had sufficient power to block those who would see him killed and/or removed.

> > > In 1610 when they
> > > conquered Pavis, they slew Dorasar's heirs because they were
> > > descended from the House of Sartar. Yet in 1613, they accept
> > > Temertain as an heir when they could have killed him with ease.
> >Could it be because Temertain is an idiot, who is easily controlled
> >by the Lunars?
> Did they know that in 1613? All Fazzur knows is that someone
> just shows up in Boldhome, makes the flame of Sartar flicker
> and has the Thunder Brothers by his side. For all he knew then
> Temertain could have been someone smart and competent.

Hey, maybe it was Nick Brooke playing him in Home of the Bold, but within a minute or two of meeting Temertain, I knew that he would never really be a Prince of Sartar, even though I spent most of the game trying to get him to be. I'm sure Fazzur is considerably more perceptive than I am. Anyway, immediateley upon Temertain's appearance in the middle of a rebellion, he "presented a peace proposal of conciliation and co-operation with the occupation forces", now if I was Fazzur, I would've taken the time to meet and talk with him first and from the descriptions of Temertain, an operator like Fazzur would have little difficult in discerning that he was an idiot.

And if he wasn't, Fazzur then could get rid of him.

> >Sounds to me like the Lunars rate the descendants of Sartar as
> >a potential major threat to be eliminated.
> Why should all Lunars of every race and creed fear the
> descendants of Sartar? They do not fear Illaro Blacktooth's
> heirs as they are now calm and sensible Lunars.

So why do they go out of their way to kill them, if they don't fear them or see them as a problem? And of course putting your exaggeration aside, they don't fear the descendants of Sartar, they consider them a threat to their occupation of Sartar and like the sensible and ruthless imperialists that they are, they decide to get rid of that threat.

> > > Secondly, Temertain is not tolerated because he "blocks"
> > > support. He is tolerated because he is the legitimate heir
> > > of Sartar and useful to the Empire because he validates
> > > their rule.
> >I can't really see the difference between these two statements,
> >obviously having a heir on the throne, helps prevent other
> >heirs from placing their claim.
> You write as though support of the Prince of Sartar is a negative
> thing to be eradicated by the Lunars, wherever possible. It is
> not. Look at the Glorantha: Intro p156 for what normally happens
> to native princes in the provinces. As far as provincial practice
> goes, the Lunar Way and the cult of Sartar are compatible.

Well, they suppress his rituals, they kill his descendants except for one who supports them, is an idiot and who is dependant on them for support, sounds to me that they see it a pretty negative, except for the one exception which they can get to collaborate with them.

Your Tarshite example is probably relevant to Sartar in a century, if the Lunars had held Sartar for that long. But given that we are talking only 20 years after the invasion, the techniques the Lunars use in Tarsh are not relevant to Sartar, especially when we consider how they actually conquered Tarsh, via the earth magics of Hon-Eel (there is always another way). The Lunars assimilated the Tarshite ruling household, they didn't wipe them out.

But let's say in Tarsh, a heroic descendant of Palashee LongAxe arose or Arim the Pauper, I think then the Lunar methods would change drastically. Hmmm, I wonder how many of Paalashee LongAxe's children the Lunars left alive?

> >Doesn't mean
> >that a lot of people aren't hoping for a sign or
> >aren't prepared to help out with the rebellion or
> >wouldn't rise if a true and competent heir of Sartar
> >appeared.
> They would also rise if another hero, who didn't claim
> descent from Sartar and had no intention of restoring
> the Kingdom whatsoever, manage to expel the Lunars.
> They are hoping for deliverance from oppression and aren't
> too choosy about who the agent is.

Sur, I agree totally, but a hero using Sartar's magics and being able to prove himself/herself as a true descendant of Sartar would have a much easier time of raising Sartar against the Lunars, than someone using an alternative method. Not saying an alternative is impossible, just significantly harder.

One only needs to look at Temertain, who was a total unknown, far from being a hero, who just got a flicker and was able to draw support away from the rebels to see the potency of the heritage of Sartar amongst the Dragon Pass Orlanthi.

> > > The rebellion only _occurred_ because the Dragon devoured
> > > Tatius, the Lunar Army and their Sartarite allies. It would
> > > have been crushed by Tarsh had not Fazzur been stabbed in
> > > the back by Moirades. Between 1613 and 1625, only fools dare
> > > dream about rebellion. _After_ 1625, everything has changed.
> >And the dragon just rose up by accident or did it happen
> >to be part of a coordinated plot by the rebels?
> What rebels? All I can see is seven conspirators in league with
> foreign powers. There's no widespread rebellion before the
> dragon rises. It is only _after_ the event that rebellion
> against the Empire became rational for ordinary people.

Sure, right, there was only seven of them, isn't the climactic scenario of the Sartar Rising! campaign a heroquest for the player characters to handle the attack on the stars? And they are just one small part of the whole attack on the Temple of the Reaching Moon.

> > > "We are to expect the return of Sartar because you are advised
> > > by a madman with voices in his head? Right."
> >
> >Yes, and I'm sure that many people in Sartar would say exactly
> >that, but when the madman with the voices in his head demonstrates
> >the magic and knowledge of Sartar himself,
> Not before 1625 AFAIK. What I'm trying to get across is that
> you are thinking that rebellion is a plausible option because
> of what happens after 1625. But most people in Sartar have
> no way of _knowing_ this before the event actually happens
> and hence accept the Kingdom as gone. This is mentioned twice
> in the sources: once in the Players Book: Genertela p15
> (boxed text) and the other in the Report of the Orlanthi,
> KoS p247).

Clearly, rebel activity was on-going and continuous throughout the whole period of the Lunar Occupation, the real world examples are too numerous to mention, and sure the cost would have been terrible, but if there is any religion which would accept that cost, surely it must be Orlanth's?

"Violence is always an option."

"No one can make me do anything."

> > > If every clan and tribe worshipped Sartar (as
> > > they do Orlanth), then the rituals would be nigh
> > > impossible to suppress.
> >Why? It seems to have worked in Tarsh, very little Orlanth
> >worship there and Orlanth is more important than Sartar.
> Orlanth is not worshipped in Tarsh because the King has
> forbidden his worship. He is not worshipped because he
> is a loser and Orlanthi do not worship losers. After
> witnessing their God being repeatedly worsted by the
> Goddess, the Tarshites have joined the winners.

So they can suppress Orlanth in Tarsh, but not suppress Sartar in Sartar. So when Palashee Longaxe took control, they all stayed worshipping Barntar. The reasons they were able to suppress Orlanth worship in Tarsh are probably quite complex, and the process was probably long, difficult and violent. But given that they did it, I see no reason why the Lunars wouldn't believe that they could suppress the Cult of Sartar, especially if they can eliminate all his descendants. And again why even try, if he's not a threat?

One final question, if we assume that the Cult of Sartar is dead and gone, hardly any one in Sartar cares about it any more, that between the clans and tribes there is hardly any cooperation, that all Sartar did, was be some sort of corporate negotiator for the tribal kings, how does this make for a more interesting Sartar to game in and tell stories about?

Maybe it is more interesting for you, I realise it's a subjective thing, but for me, in my Glorantha, the name of Sartar pulls on the heartstrings of many Sartarites.


End of The Glorantha Digest V8 #253

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