Bell Digest v940301p2

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Subject: RuneQuest Daily, Tue, 01 Mar 1994, part 2
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From: (Joerg Baumgartner)
Subject: Re: Orlanthi analog
Date: 28 Feb 94 18:26:38 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3205

Joerg reacting to David Dunham in RQ playtest:
(This is a discussion for the Daily, folks, so I crosspost)
> I agree with Paul; as I've said before, Sartarites seem more like Celts
> crossed with Icelanders. Although after reading the Pendragon supplement
> Pagan Shore, I start to lean toward the Celt side.

They are a "generic" European free farmer-warrior society. The Icelanders 
are just the best known example in literature, but almost any 
pre-christian, pre-monarchy and not yet fully Romanized people of Europe 
qualifies for describing the role of the farmer-warrior. It's the colourful 
bits on the side (like Woad) which make the Celtic parallel dominate, 
and the Anglosaxon names for the classes give a push in that direction.

(What does Anglosaxon mean, by the way? Hengist, Horsa and Cerdic? Ine? 
Penda? Offa? Beorthnoth? Alfred of Wessex? Aethelred the Unready? Canute? 
Harold? Augustinus? Columba? Pelagius? Alcuin?)

>>  The other thing is that a leader among the Celts is leader because
>>he is perfect in all things, not just a cunning sword jock like in the
>>Orlanthi culture, that's a German/Scandinavian thing.  The way they've
>>got the women's and men's roles divided is Germanic, not Irish.

> But who said an Orlanthi leader is a cunning sword jock? This doesn't fit
> the kingship tests we've read about in Wyrm's Footnotes -- nor the fact
> that the Varmandi clan's current leader is titled "The Peaceful."

He is noted as an exception. But peacefulness didn't count for Irish 
perfection, either.
The Leader had to be perfect in all things to be able to undergo the 
Great Marriage, to ensure fertility for his clan/tribe/kingdom. I wonder 
how the great queens (Kallyr, Leika Ballista) went around this one...

>>  A wind lord isn't required to have a dance skill, a Sing skill, play the
>>harp, etc., in contrast to Celtic culture.   The warband members don't have to
>>have scholarly foreign
>>languages - in Cormac mac Art's time, warriors were expected to be
>>literate in Latin and Greek as well as Irish. 

Certainly not in the time of Niall of the Nine Hostages. Literacy is almost 
contradictionary in a culture based on oral tradition. What was Ogham used 
for in Ireland?

The Welsh relied fully on their Bard class to record history, as did the 
Norse on their Skalds until christianisation, and some time beyond that. 
Snorre Sturlasson was working as a historian when he wrote the Heimskringla, 
and he relied on skaldic kvads rather than prose rendering because a skald 
misquoting a kvad at court would be sent off in ignomy, where a prose 
rendering could be changed over the course of the years.

> I think you may be erroneously setting up a later Celtic period as your
> target; I'd use the earlier stuff from Pagan Shore. Furthermore, Wind Lords
> are the embodiment of the warrior; it's unreasonable to expect them to be
> other than warrior-like. It's not a requirement for clan leadership -- look
> more to Orlanth Rex.

I agree. Orlanth Adventurous is somewhat a parallel to Yelm the Rider, the 
boastful youth fighting for his place among the adults. One of the reasons 
why I demand Wind Lords of Orlanth Thunderous, Orlanth Rex, Orlanth 
Lightbringer etc.

> And Wind Lords can at least use Swordspeech or Oratory for their rune lord
> requirements.

Also the Riddling contest with the Yelmalians and other Solars asks for 
some intellectual quality in a Wind Lord.

>>  Orlanthi don't even hve geasa - how can they be modelled on the Celts
>>if they don't have geasa?

> It's not clear if the Prince of Sartar whom the Red Emperor killed broke a
> Humakti geas or another sort...

And Yelmalio _is_ an Orlanthi, will say Theyalan in Boris' notation, cult, 
which seems to be as popular in Sartar as is Orlanth or Barntar. _He_ has 

On the whole, I'd reserve geasa for heroes (like in Heroic Ireland) or 
would-be heroes. Oaths (common at Viking courts), geasa, Pendragoonesque 
quests - all the same stuff.

> It's obvious that Sartarites are not just Celts who worship Orlanth. But
> there's much Celtic about them.

> Do the Saxons or Jutes (or Norse) have king elections? Do they fight naked?

Yes on both accounts, I'm afraid (depending on the time you choose, of 
course), but at least they don't paint themselves when fighting naked.

The Cimbres and Teutones invading the Roman sphere of interest fought as 
"sky-clad" as did Brennus' Celts about 200 years earlier, although with 
less success. The helmets and armours they got in early victories were 
sacrificed to their gods rather than worn in battle. No reason to believe 
contemporary Saxons would have acted otherwise, with all the moor findings 
on the Cimbrian peninsula.

Danish Kings had to be approved by the various district-things as late 
as in Svein Estridssons and Norwegian King Magnus' time, around 1040 AD. 
Among the Frisians and northern Saxons (Dithmarschen) this custom survived 
along with their farmer republics almost into the age of absolute monarchy. 
(Switzerland is another example of a surviving culture like that.)
The Kings needed royal, i.e. divine, descent to be eligible. There were 
few who were powerful and had no such claim, and it took their dynasties 
only a few generations to find such a claim. The Karolingians were the 
first to use divine grace as bearer for royalty, copying the concept the 
Hebrews had invented a generation before King David to get themselves a 
parallel to the indogermanic kingship the Hittites had.

Joerg Baumgartner


From: (Eric Rowe)
Subject: Battle Formations for Defending Charges / Rune Defense
Message-ID: <>
Date: 28 Feb 94 15:29:38 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3206

In the interest of restarting that interesting thread on military unit
sizes and marching orders here some things that have occured in my
campaigns recently.

The Pavis campaign contains mostly Humakti and Orlanthi and they are
constantly plagued by the local Zebra riders.  They have tried several
variational forms of defense but have been unable to successfully
defeat the riders.  The basic problem is they tend either to just line
up so they can all get a swing in or mill about randomly in a large
block.  This gives the mounted calvary either an easy one pass, gut
everyone, or several passes to pick of the people on the outside until
there is only the people asking for ransom left.

The Lunar campaign is full of Yanafal Tarnils worshippers and a Yelmalian.
Shortly after the unit commander was replaced by the Yelmalian for
incompetence they found themselves confronted by a pack of angry High
Llama riders.  Fortunately, they were escorting several specialists
and thus had the appropriate 10 soldiers.  Thinking quickly, the
commander called for the sky rune formation, with him in the center
direction the defense.  The formation withstood several charges before
the Storm Kahn was de-llamaed in their midst and general melee ensued.
End result was the defeated a much stronger force by use of clever
tactics (I note this because I don't think I had ever seen this in 15+
years of gaming).  I should also note that under the Yelmalian they
are forced to march in a 'Y' formation.  This enables them to quickly
flank an assault from any direction and retain spell support from the

So I get all excited about the neat correspondence of Runes and formations
until a little light goes off in my head.  Grabbing my copy of the
Glorious Reascent I re-read the section on Urvairinus the Conqueror.
It seems he invented battle tactics and the first ever formation was one
where he organized his spear men in circles with the leaders placed in the
centers.  In large conflicts they are arrayed as a circle of circles and
are well trained for coordination of movements.

Clearly the Yelmalians are still using tried and true Dara Happan tactics
to defend themselves from Praxian Nomads.

Maybe now I can convine the Pavis Orlanthi to start using the Sky Rune
formation to stop being embarrassed by the Zebra Riders.