Two (Missing) Tribes

From: Stewart <stu_stansfield_at_1vlot50q4jl1sM3DP3i0UbniSm6RSgy9Sd-g9HO2cEmg3Ub-WcjhjZFMY1ZW2>
Date: Thu, 10 May 2012 11:57:19 -0000

I was going over some old notes and saw my rough comments on the following. In the spirit of likes of Syme's, Badian's and Balsdon's short letters and monographs (e.g. 'Two More Roman Non-Entities'), here's 'Two (Missing) Tribes'.

TWO (MISSING) TRIBES In its article on the Holy Country, the RuneQuest Companion ('RQC'; 1983) refers to a group known as the 'Western Allies'. These are detailed in the section marked 'Caladraland' (RQC, pp. 23-24). The passage reads:

"The western end of the volcano chain is not directly under the rule of the masters of Caladraland, but maintains its own small tribes centered about their own volcanoes. The priesthood here still obeys the high priests of the Vent, but the corporal leadership of this area does not obey the government of Caladraland nor the Pharoah [sic]. These folk are called the Western Allies."

These "small tribes" are not marked on the RQC map. This absence ultimately led to these people being confused/conflated with other demographic groups, with the result that the tribes as intended--including their peculiar relationship with Caladraland--have been removed from Glorantha.

In Tradetalk #10 (TT #10; 2002), the survey of the southern coast of Genertela refers to the 'Western Barbarians' (TT #10, p. 6):

"West of the Holy Country are three Wenelian tribes, known to the Holy Country as the Western Barbarians. Once they were the Western Allies, but they turned against the Pharaoh after the Opening ruined them and are now pitiless raiders of Esrolia and Caladraland."

The survey proceeds to name the three tribes: the Ditali, the Colanti, and the Atelli. It also makes a direct connection between the people of Madros, on the coast, and Pelushi Volcano (TT #10, pp. 6-7, 29-30).

Blood Over Gold ('BOG'; 2007) draws upon these passages in Tradetalk #10 and embellishes them in detail, with two changes. Firstly, the three Wenelian tribes are named as the Atelli (pop. 40,000), Colanti (pop. 30,000) and Samori (né Ditali; pop. 150,000); the name 'Ditali' is instead used to refer to this grouping as a whole (BOG, pp. 25-26). Secondly, Howler Volcano is explicitly connected with the Colanti (BOG, pp. 12, 26).

The conflation of the Western Allies (RQC, pp. 23-24) with the 'western barbarians' mentioned in King of Sartar (1992; p. 151 - themselves assumed to be the likes of the Ditali and perhaps Solanthi) is perhaps understandable, in light of the RQC map. The 'Ditali Lands' are the only marked demographic of that area, and might be assumed to incorporate Howler Volcano.

Yet there are problems. The Ditali were inveterate raiders of Caladraland and Esrolia in the 1600s (Dragons Past 1, Different Worlds #28). Although the Western Allies of the RQC are not subjects of Caladraland or the Pharaoh, they are nevertheless named 'Allies' and no conflict is intimated. TT #10 cannot resolve this discrepancy, suggesting that 'Western Allies' was a former term that ceased to be accurate c. 1580, though the RQC uses it c. 1620.

There are also the references to 'Colantum, the Prophet of the Spear'/'Colanti of the Blazing Spear' in Glorantha: Introduction to the Hero Wars (2000; p. 150), TT #10 (p. 6) and BOG (p. 26). It is difficult to reconcile this individual with somebody that "obeys the high priests of the Vent".

The proximity of Pelushi Volcano to the Maldros has resulted in a similar association, with Pelushi being "worshipped primarily among the Maldros" (BOG, p. 45).

Greg's own map shows a different state of affairs. Centred on Pelushi Volcano and Howler Volcano are two tribes -- the 'Pelushi Tribe' (pop. 5,000, all rural) and the 'West Hills Tribe' (pop. 15,000, all rural), respectively. Their population is not counted within the 450,000 total for Caladraland itself (which also includes Porthomeka), but as a separate '20k Allies'. These tribes are separate to the Maldros and the Ditali. These two tribes are the Western Allies that the RQC speaks of.

How to reconcile this with recent publishing? Each to their own. I like the idea of rediscovering these two tribes.

It would be easy to suggest that the Colanti and the West Hills Tribe are synonymous -- but I'm not persuaded, on account of the issues raised above. I'd prefer to push the Colanti north, into actual Ditali lands, and leave Howler to the West Hills Tribe.

I like Peter's work on the Prophet of the Spear, with its mystical allusions to the great Northern Volcano and the Grandfather of all Mountains. I also like the suggestion that he "has taught his people much unusual magic, such as how to reach Caladra without making the sacrifices at the Mouth." (Glorantha: Introduction to the Hero Wars, p. 150.) I do not think this needs to have a physical volcanic presence (Howler) to work; I rather think it benefits without it.

These mystical allusions appear absent in Blood Over Gold; the Colanti are portrayed as worshippers of Howler. As noted, I'm not opposed to severing this connection; it might be a good idea. After all, BOG refers to the "Colanti [tribes]" (p. 26), led by "Colanti of the Blazing Spear" (p. 26), who worship "Colanti the Howler" (p. 45), who provides the affinity "Blazing Spear". This god is not to be confused with "Pelushi of the Blazing Spear" (p. 45) who provides a similarly named affinity.

(I think you see my point. I like Blood Over Gold, and think it an excellent supplement - but this bit needed more work.)            

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