"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Sex, Gender, and the Orlanthi: Running "The Riddle" and "Rites of Passage" Again

Sex and Adulthood Rites

THE ORLANTHI HAVE A GRIM MYTH explaining the origin of sex. They speak of the Elder Gods—beings like Maker and Grower—who brought forth new life at whim but without any logic or order to it. The life-giving power was sporadic and chaotic. One of these Elder Gods, the most prolific, was called Great Eater, and “it could do only two things, bear and eat.” It spawned massive amounts of life only to reabsorb them into itself immediately after. In horror of this the gods gathered in a circle and prayed for help to end the madness. The result was a pair of new deities, Uleria and Urtiam.

Uleria and Urtiam showed the young world a New Way. Together they brought forth the children Love and Order. “They taught the gods about sexual intercourse…before this there were no sexes in the world.” The gods embraced the New Way and took up sexes of their own. This way, they were able to bear children that were distinct and different from them. Later, Uleria and Urtiam produced another pair of twins, Darhudan and Darudana. These were the two sides of the Man Rune, the Male and the Female.

In the Orlanthi mind, then, “biological” sex is simply about procreation. Humans and animals are born male and female simply for there to be an orderly continuation of the species. It has nothing to do with gender. In fact sex has little to do with the essential nature or being of a person. The Orlanthi refer to it as “shape.” He is “shaped like a man.” She is “shaped like a woman.” It is not necessarily who the really are. It should also be noted that they observe two more categories, less common perhaps but still valid. There is a sex “shaped like both” and a sex “shaped like neither.”

“Gender” is something deeper. Unlike “shape,” it determines the inner nature of the individual, their role in society, and most importantly which gods they are called to.

In writing the earliest chapters of Six Seasons in Sartar I needed to process all of this and keep it clear in my mind. The campaign starts with a pair of adulthood initiation ceremonies in which the player characters come of age. For boys, this happens when they “come of hair,” and the rites are something they go through with several other boys their age. For girls, immediately after menarche they undergo their womanhood rites alone. Greg Stafford left fairly detailed descriptions of these adulthood rites and I used them as the basis for both “Rites of Passage” and “The Riddle.” What became clear to me working through them was that the adulthood initiations were about sex, not gender. They are based, after all, on when children start displaying adult sexual characteristics, and separate the children based solely on their “shapes.” 

The More Complicated Question of Gender

The two “baseline” genders in the Orlanthi culture are the role embodied by the cult of Orlanth and the role embodied by the cult of Ernalda. Orlanth represents the tripartite roles of farmer, warrior, and leader. His job is to protect and nurture life. Ernalda heals, tends to the family, and possesses the mystery of sex and procreation. Her job to to create life and maintain continuity.

These tend to correspond to the sexes of “male” and “female,” but it is more accurate to call these genders “like Orlanth” and “like Ernalda.” In the adulthood initiation rites, children become “men” and “women,” but it is still an open question which gender they will take. While it is true that most men will become “like Orlanth” and most women “like Ernalda,” this is not definitely the case. In “Rites of Passage,” the character Aventarl Son of Rosonil is an example of a boy who may very likely not become “like Orlanth.” In my latest running of the campaign, in fact, I made it clear that he will become a Nandan (see below). Likewise, in “The Riddle,” the player and GM work together to observe and record the player character’s choices to see whether they will become “like Ernalda” or chose a different path.

Ernalda, in fact, presents us with a very particular problem.

Running the two adulthood rites again for my group I am once more struck how much darker, deeper, and more intense “The Riddle” feels to me. There is an element of danger here very different from that faced by the boys. This is not my doing, but Greg’s. It strikes me that the Orlanthi are curiously blasé about when exactly the boys go through their manhood rites. They are eligible “sometime” after coming of hair, but since the rites are generally held every three years or so for a group of candidates, a boy might sit around waiting years. Girls by sharp contrast must be given to Ernalda immediately after menarche. There is no waiting period. She is separated from those around her and the rites prepared immediately. She will face them alone.

My suspicion here is that it all has to do with the girl awakening into her reproductive powers, a power that belongs to Ernalda and Ernalda alone. Once the girl awakens this power, in a sense Ernalda lays claim to her. From the mythology we know Ernalda is quite stern in this matter.

Vinga and Nandan 

We can see Ernalda’s possessiveness of her reproductive power in the mythology of Vinga. Vinga is either the daughter of Orlanth and Ernalda, Orlanth’s female incarnation, or most likely both. In her myth cycle, Vinga decides to leave the Loom House of her mother to take up arms and fight alongside Orlanth and the Thunder Brothers. In effect she is declaring herself not “like Ernalda” but rather “like Orlanth.”

In The Book of Heortling Mythology, however, when Vinga becomes pregnant sometime after this Ernalda is furious with her, cursing Vinga and refusing to allow her to give birth. There is a real sense of Ernalda saying “that power is mine and you are no longer like me.”

Orlanth, the myth makes clear, is utterly powerless in this matter. (Vinga) went to her father, Great Orlanth, and asked for his help. To her shock, Orlanth told Vinga that he had no power to aid her – such things were solely within the province of Ernalda.

To soothe Ernalda’s rage, balance had to be restored. Vinga had to agree to surrender her daughter to Ernalda at birth. Furthermore, Nandan, a Thunder Brother, volunteered to take Vinga’s place in the Loom House. This sacrifice was acceptable to Ernalda and she relents. 

Now, this exchange created more gender possibilities in Orlanthi society. Most men are “like Orlanth,” and most women “like Ernalda,” but it was now possible for some women to enter the storm cult “like Vinga” and some men to enter the earth cult “like Nandan.” In effect this gave the Orlanthi four genders: men who follow the storm, women who follow the earth, women who follow the storm, and men who follow the earth. Two more logically followed from this. There are those who combine both male and female aspects in them (associated with the fluid deity Heler, the rain that unites both storm and earth) and those who have no gender roles, associated with the Eurmali tricksters.

It should also be noted what with men “like Nandan,” they are effectively part of Ernalda’s cult and through the Rune spell “Pregnancy” can wield their goddess’ greatest gift.

Afterthoughts and Conclusions

In this latest campaign running Six Seasons in Sartar, I decided to separate the male and female characters for their adulthood rites purely according to sex. The boys (David and Keith’s characters, Kalf and Beralor) went through “Rites of Passage” together. The girls (Ira and Vicky, as Kalliva and Leika) I ran individual one-on-one sessions of “The Riddle” for. Zoom made it a lot easier to arrange all of this. Once these rites were completed, the characters were officially considered young adults and full initiates of the Black Stag cult. The boys are lay members of Orlanth, and the girls are lay members of Ernalda, but we left the question of gender an open one until the characters finally commit to a cult.  I tend to think now of  the period between the adulthood rites and being initiated into a cult as analogous to our teenage years here on Earth, where we are trying to “find” ourselves. The characters are adults, sure, but it remains to be seen what sort of adults they will be.

“Cult” I think is the ultimate determinant of gender. Anyone who takes on a warrior role—whether you join Humakt or Yelmalio or Storm Bull—is viewed “like Orlanth” (i.e. legally and socially bearing a “masculine” role irregardless of sex). Anyone who takes on a healing, life-sustaining role is viewed as being “like Ernalda” (though a man would have to be at least a Nandan initiate of Ernalda to gain her life-giving pregnancy powers). In the rarer cases of character who manage both roles they would be seen “like Heler,” and those who follow the Trickster, “like Eurmal.”  

Sunday, October 10, 2021

BAD DAY AT DUCK ROCK: A Jonstown Compendium Review

A LOT OF THE PRODUCTS coming out of the Jonstown Compendium have been, shall we say, "experimental." By this I mean products that took RuneQuest in directions different from the ones Chaosium was taking. Right out of the gate Nick Brooke gave us A Rough Guide to Glamour, which while being a terrific overview of the Lunar capital also had its tongue firmly in its cheek, and was peopled by a cast of characters who looked suspiciously familiar. Six Seasons in Sartar soon after introduced ideas like shorthand character statistics and squabbling academics arguing the finer points of an epic poem which never existed. Tales of the Sun County Militia, in both art and attitude, demonstrated a rebel streak. I could go on, but the Jonstown Compendium was clearly a place to put on full display "Gloranthas That Varied."

In Bad Day At Duck Rock author Peter Hart does something very different. He gives us a thoroughly classic adventure...and by that I mean a call back to the earliest days of RuneQuest but this time with far superior art, lay-out, and editing. Reading through it, I was reminded of Apple Lane seasoned with shades of Griffin Mountain. It is an adventure for the latest edition of RuneQuest, of course, and is set in the post-Dragonrise timeline, but in spirit this is a visitation from the Ghost of RuneQuest Past. 

In retrospect, that is experimental, isn't it.

Weighing in at 79 pages, this PDF is lavishly illustrated by Dario Corallo. Because this is an adventure--and a mystery on top of that--there is very little I can say that will not spoil it. In the author's own words;

The adventurers are escorting a merchant, Tiberian Oneprice, through Duck Valley with a shipment of bronze, silver and gold ingots, acquired from Dwarf Mine, their destination being the village of Man Vill in Beast Valley. Tiberian orders the adventurers on to the village of Duck Rock to secure rooms at the inn and trade with the local redsmith. Meanwhile, the merchant heads off to visit a pair of old friends, both sages of Irripi Ontor, at their farm to the north of the village. What could possibly go wrong?

The adventurers will have to navigate through multiple challenges as they meet the villagers of Duck Rock, bandits, chaos, undead and of course, ducks.

With this set up, Hart sets up a race against time filled with all sorts of iconic RuneQuest adversaries, potential adversaries, and allies. This is part of what I mean about it being a "classic" adventure. All the old favorites seem to show up in its pages. The adventure will probably fill several play sessions, but the book is also crammed with ideas and tools you can easily borrow or use to build a foundation on. There are even clever links in it to past publications.

And Great Orlanth does this thing come packed! There are forty pages of statistics in the book's back end, including the introduction of a new monster I am not at all sure I know how the Glorantha Bestiary could have missed. There are real shades of Griffin Mountain in how complete a sandbox Hart has constructed for you to play in here. You might never meet all these characters, but the fact of their existence gives Duck Rock and its environs verisimilitude a lot of modern adventures forego. This is a setting your characters can feel free to wander anywhere in.

It is also an adventure I would heartily recommend to a new GM. Bad Day at Duck Rock is written with terrific clarity and care, with support at every twist and turn to help GMs run it. Nothing here comes off fuzzy or half-baked. I get the definite feeling that in the years this was playtested, Hart took the opportunity to refine, retool, and clarify. It assumes the use of the pre-generated characters from the RuneQuest core rules, but again is filled with examples of how to tweak things if players use characters of their own making.

If you favor the sandbox approach to play, Bad Day in Duck Rock is ideal for you. If you still love your Apple Lane, this is right up your alley. If you are a GM who appreciates support and detail in an adventure, but it. If you are looking for an adventure that will keep you entertained, guessing, and delighted by the large and colorful cast of characters, what are you waiting for? It is a terrific entry to the Jonstown Compendium.      


Wednesday, October 6, 2021


WE CANNOT DISCUSS BLACK SPEAR until one thing is made absolutely clear. 

Glorantha was cooked up in the brain of a shaman.

If we strip shamanism of its diverse cultural variations, the shared core is all about ecstatic experience. "Ecstasy" is the critical word there. It comes to English from the Latin and it from the Greek, but in a nutshell it means "to be out of the normal." Ekstasis was used to mean insanity, astonishment, and in the New Testament a trance state...in other words, an altered state of consciousness. Whether it's Tibetan trance oracles, ayahuasca in the Amazon, or peyote among Native Americans (an experience this author highly suggests you try), shamanism is at least in part about leaving the normal behind and entering the psychedelic (which itself comes from two Greek words meaning "make the mind shine"). Greg Stafford was a practicing shaman, and thus it should surprise no one that Glorantha is very psychedelic. Greg understood that roleplaying games are altered states of consciousness, playing them we leave behind the normal world and have a shared hallucination, and just like shamans, those psychedelic experiences challenge us and if we are lucky change us. All RPGs are like that, sure, but in Glorantha it is up front and baked into the setting. I mean, what do you think a "heroquest" is if not a psychedelic roleplay experience?

All this bears mention because Nick Brooke's Black Spear could not possibly exist anywhere BUT Glorantha.

First the basics. Black Spear is a 181-page PDF, available exclusively from the Jonstown Compendium. Written by Brooke and phantasmagorically illustrated by Mike O'Connor, it is in Brooke's own words "(a)n epic saga of the Hero Wars, festooned with heroquests and deep Gloranthan weirdness. Probably the strangest thing I’ve ever written." I am not inclined to disagree with him. If your Glorantha is a deadly serious recreation of life in the Bronze Age, this is probably not the product for you. On the other hand, if your Glorantha is a lozenge under a sky dome peopled with talking baboons and yes, ducks, if your Glorantha embraces the essential surreality and psychedelic facets of the setting, then this is very much the product for you.

As we are talking about a scenario here, there is not all that much I can say without spoiling it. Written in seven acts, most forming a distinct adventure, the player characters are assumed to be Sartarites of the Colymar tribe. Following the death of Prince Kallyr, your tribal queen, Leika, asks you to go to New Pavis to invite its king, Argrath, to come to Sartar and take the throne. To show her seriousness, she entrusts the characters to bear a token to bring to him. Hint, it's titular.

Getting there is half the fun. Doing so might involve the characters seeking modes of magical transportation that hearken back to White Bear and Red Moon and Nomad Gods, being potentially man-handled by baboons, entangled in the rituals of disco newtlings (yes, you read that correctly) and caught up in an epic power struggle in Sun County. Along the way, they are haunted by strange dreams and reality seems to be breaking down the closer they get to Argrath...who here is Kurtz wrapped in his very own Heart of Darkness.


Full disclosure; I've been aware of Black Spear for some time now, ever since Nick Brooke and I discovered we were both writing Prax-centered Heart of Darkness tales. But Black Spear is nothing like my Final Riddle, in part because there is nothing else quite like Black Spear. There are some very deep dives into Gloranthan lore here, some terrific heroquests, but Black Spear also leans into pop culture and some really trippy shit, man. That is what I think is brilliant about it. There is absolutely no mistaking the setting it was conceived for. This could never unfold in Middle-earth, Thedas, or Westeros. This is some top shelf, high-grade Gloranthan-psychedelia.

I simply cannot recommend it highly enough. It's a slickly produced and wonderfully illustrated feast for the eyes, with tons of options and support for GMs taking it on (with plenty of advice on making it more "vanilla"). This is one journey upriver that you and your players are going to want to take.  

Sunday, October 3, 2021


DECEMBER OF 2019 saw the final blog post of my Six Seasons in Sartar/River of Cradles campaign. We were 16 sessions in. Breaking for Christmas and New Year, we made plans to meet up for the next chapter in late January 2020.

That never happened.

Here in Japan, the news media was abuzz with a story about a quarantined cruise ship, the Diamond Princess out of China. Apparently several people aboard were infected with some new and puzzling illness. People started wearing masks. Things ground to a halt, and we delayed the session.

You know the rest. Everyone reading this has lived it.

As I mentioned in the last post, I used the suspension of the campaign as a chance to put Six Seasons in Sartar on paper and let it loose on the world. As the pandemic dragged on endlessly came The Company of the Dragon. But now, with my gaming group now fully vaccinated and infection numbers in Japan starting to head in the right direction, we have started talking about resuming the campaign. With nearly two years of water under the bridge, however, we decided to restart it instead of resume. The "Six Seasons in Sartar" we played was not the Six Seasons in Sartar that was published, and the campaign that followed at our gaming table, "The River of Cradles," was totally unrelated to The Company of the Dragon. We decided to start all over again and play the two published campaigns.

The twist is, the group decided to play the same characters all over again. This meant translating a party of Heroquest characters to Runequest Roleplaying in Glorantha.

Black Stag Vale, the setting of Six Seasons in Sartar. My map, annotated by Nick Brooke

Remaking the Characters: HQ v RQ

"Translating" might be the wrong word for how we handled character creation. More of a "reset." I told them to think of this new campaign was a remake, and I made it clear that the characters could be different in any ways the players wanted. We didn't have to fuss with converting abilities across the two systems. It was a simple question of starting the player characters from scratch with the same concepts in mind...and in a new system, which turned out to be an important factor.

Back in 2018 my players were new to Glorantha. The idea of using Heroquest was that they could create their characters "as they went," fleshing the characters out as they played the campaign and grew to know more about the setting. The problem with that is that the characters did not start with a strong, defined concept. They were amorphous and "fuzzy." I don't think they really came into their own until a dozen sessions in. In retrospect, this is my primary criticism of Heroquest (and for the record I mean the second edition, both Hero Wars and Heroquest first edition offered a lot more detail). It is a great game system if you have players who know the setting, but does little to support those who don't. Note this is not a criticism of the mechanics; I feel the system needs a more defined Glorantha "genre book" to make it feel more true to the setting. This is something I am hoping Questworlds will eventually fix.

RQ by contrast contains tons of information about the setting right there on the character sheet. The Runes, the skills that exist in the setting, the characteristics that define people, are all right there. I found it helped my players focus this time more clearly on who exactly their characters were. They had felt a bit lost and bewildered when we started HQ. "But what does the Heortling Keyword actually do?" This time they had a lot more information to work with.

Now, the original characters from the HQ version were:

Beralor "Three-Father" Harvarrson (Keith)

With his real father killed in the struggle against the Lunar Occupation. Beralor has been raised by the redsmith Harvarr Horviksson and his husband, the Nandan Affar Dronnsson. Beralor is now sixteen, and has the Heortling, Crafter (Smith), and Black Stag Community keywords. His Runes are Air, Motion, and Mastery.

Kalf "Lightfoot" Broyansson (David)
The son of a cottar sheepman (killed in Kallyr's rebellion), Kalf lives alone with his mother in a cottage on the edge of the Vale. He is the oldest in the group, 17, having just missed the last Adult Initiation ceremony four years ago by having been just a bit too young. He has the Heortling, Black Stag Community, and Herdsman keywords. His Runes are Air, Stasis, and Beast.

Leika "the White" Faransdotr (Vicky)
The albino daughter of a cottar spirit-talker, Leika's condition renders her sensitive to sunlight and slightly ostracized by some of her peers. She overcompensates with a forceful, "bossy" personality. Leika is 14, and has the Heortling, Black Stag Community, and Spirit-Talker keywords. Her Runes are Air, Motion, and Spirit.

Kalliva Kallessasdotr of Twin Stone (Ira)
The daughter of an Ernaldan carl in the prominent Twin Stone stead, the identity of her father has never been divulged by her mother. Kalliva is torn between what her mother wants for her (marriage, family) and following the path of her Vingan aunt (currently a rebel living in the hills and mountains striking at the Lunars). She has a close relationship with her uncle Garnath, who is one of the chieftain's housecarls. Kalliva has the Heortling, Black Stag Community, and Warrior keywords. Her Runes are Air, Truth, and Mastery.

With these ideas and the aforementioned sixteen sessions of play, we grabbed the RQ rulebook and remade them according to the guidelines in Six Seasons in Sartar (pp 20-22).

Character (Re)Creation

We took advantage of Zoom to create each character separately in a one-on-one game session with the GM. In general, I think there are often good reasons to create characters as a group--it makes sure everyone is one the "same page" and encourages characters that mesh together well as a team--but we opted out of it this time around. For starters, these players already know the other player characters. They all played together for a year and a half. Second, I think RQ characters are better made alone. A good chunk of the character creation process is "Family History," and unless two or more of your players are related, it is really more an exercise of communing with your ancestors rather than with your contemporaries. And I wanted to spend a lot of time on Family History (RQ pp. 27-45), because that was an aspect absent from the original HQ rules we used.

Because these were established characters, I let them chose whatever results they wanted as we went through Family History, rather than roll. As you can see from the character summaries above, the first time around the players were careful to include their parents in their backgrounds. Six Seasons in Sartar starts you off as young adults, and your relationship with your parents is critical as you get started on the road of adulthood. What surprised the players this time, however, was how RQ took you a step further back. The players had not really given thought to their grandparents before.

Here are summaries how the recreation turned out.

Kalf, Son of Broyan
Kalf went through some of the biggest changes in this character "remix" process. David decided to start with his paternal grandfather as the favored grandparent (RQ, p. 28), Derister, a warrior who was killed at the Battle of Grizzly Peak. This shifted Kalf's backstory from being the son of a cottar sheepman to actually coming from a line of thanes. This left Kalf's father fatherless, with a grudge towards the Lunar Empire. He grew up to fight both at the Fall of Boldhome (1602) and south in the Holy Country in 1605. After Kalf's birth, his father is killed fighting in Starbrow's Rebellion (1613). This last event is the same as it was in HQ, but rather than Kalf's father being a cottar who volunteered he was a thane loyal to Kallyr's cause (part of Kalf's arc in HQ was the resentment he harbored towards Kallyr for "getting his father killed," but this have shifted now towards hatred of the Empire). We decided with both his father and grandfather as warriors against the Empire, during the Lunar Peace his father's family was stripped of their status by the new tribal king, converted Lunar Kangharl "Blackmoor." Young Kalf and his mother were thus reduced to cottar status, giving him a heightened reason to Hate the Lunar Empire and Kangharl (which if you know Six Seasons in Sartar will matter later). Instead of a herdsman, this time Kalf is a hunter, being trained in the craft by neighboring cottar Beroth Son of Beyor (SSiS p. 69). Beroth has a younger son, Ashart, who privately resents the interest Beroth has taken in Kalf. Adding complexity, the widowed Beroth has been courting Kalf's widow mother.

Leika, Daughter of Faran
In the HQ campaign, Leika's defining trait was her albinism, but the fact is this never really came to much in actual play. Vicky decided to jettison that this time around and focus more on the character's connection to the Spirit World. In Family History, then, Leika's maternal grandmother Kenvali emerges as an important figure (one never existing in the original campaign). Kenvali was a powerful shaman, and a person the young Leika feels an affinity for. Kenvali fought, actually, at the Battle of Grizzly Peak, not as a combatant as much as aiding with magical support. She went south and fought in the Holy Country as well (1597). Kenvali was not at the Fall of Boldhome, however, remaining instead in Black Stag Vale, where the following year she was actually killed by the neighboring Telmori. This is a terrific twist: in the HQ campaign Leika finds herself in almost a Romeo and Juliet relationship with a young Telmori warrior, but now she enters play hating the Telmori for her grandmother's murder. Ah, pathos in future sessions, I think! 

This changes Leika's relationship with Faran, her father, a shade. Her grandmother is the shaman she wishes to emulate, not him. Still, Faran is himself a shaman and one who fought in Starbrow's Rebellion, helping Kallyr escape. This connection will come into play later in Six Seasons in Sartar. 

Beralor, Son of Harvarr
Beralor changed less between campaigns than Kalf or Leika, but something that disappointed Keith is the first campaign was how little we were able to explore his craft as a smith. This time we are shifting the focus there a bit more. In Six Seasons we will dig a bit deeper into the mysteries of Gustbran and in Company of the Dragon, Beralor will have more time to practice that art.

We also decided to keep the background largely intact. It emerged in the last campaign that Beralor is being raised by his uncle, Harvarr, and that his aunt had either been seduced or assaulted by the Eurmali clown, Keladon Blue-Eye...his true father. Beralor is being raised by Harvarr and his Nandan partner after his mother's death. This time we went into character creation with full knowledge of the backstory. For this reason Beralor's favored grandparent is his maternal grandfather, Harrakin, a warrior who fought at Grizzly Peak. Father of both Beralor's mother and Harvarr, Harrakin died by accident in 1597 (we have yet to develop this thread). Harvarr fights in the Fall of Boldhome, originally a warrior like his father. His sister gives birth to Beralor in 1604 and dies by her own hand. Harvarr takes the child in, raised by his Nandan husband Affar while he himself fights in the Holy Country against the Lunars (1605). Harvarr comes home, but fights against for Kallyr Starbrow (1613). In the wake of her defeat he is outlawed and cannot return home. He camps outside the gates of Dwarf Mine until they accept him, and returns years later as a smith.

Kalliva, Daughter of Kallessa
Kalliva is another character changed only lightly by the character recreation process, but there are still interesting changes nonetheless, mainly in her mother's backstory.

Again, I credit this to the Family History rules. What emerges is Kalliva's maternal grandfather, Bereth, a warrior who fought at Grizzly Peak and later witnessed the murder of Sartarite royals he was guarding in the Holy Country (1597). Bereth was also at the Fall of Boldhome, but he died there, devoured by the Crimson Bat (his soul destroyed forever). Also in Boldhome, Bereth's daughter Korolmara is enslaved and ends up owned by a Lunar officer. There she births a child for him, Kalliva. She takes the baby and escapes.

The hideous death of her father radically changes the character of Kalliva's birth mother, Korolmara. In the HQ campaign she was a Vingan, this time around she became a Humakti. She cuts ties to her old life and gives her daughter to her sister, Kallessa, to be raised. Korolmara fights in Starbrow's Rebellion, and with Leika's father is among those who help Kallyr escape to safety. She returns to Sartar and ends up fighting as one of Kallyr's rebels up in the mountains.

It is too soon to see if Kalliva will, herself, become a Humakti rather than a Vingan this time around, but we will see in play.

The Runes

One of the key differences between HQ and RQ is the addition of Rune affinities. Now, bear in mind that HQ pioneered the idea of characters having Rune affinities. In classic RQ you got Runes by joining a cult. The latest edition adopted Rune affinities from HQ and greatly expanding the idea, drawing on two other classic Chaosium games, Pendragon (the paired Power and Form Rune affinities) and Nephilim (the Elemental Rune affinities). 

Where the characters started with three Rune affinities in the previous campaign, they now have affinities with all the Runes (well, not all). For the most part, the players kept their original Rune affinities in mind choosing their new ones, but there were changes, and I think it gave these remixed player characters greater definition and depth.

Kalliva, for example, keeps her powerful Air Rune affinity but Fire/Sky is a close second, reflecting her idealism and "straight arrow" personality. She also gets a touch of Moon Rune affinity this time to reflect her parentage. Beralor also comes in with a strong Fire Rune as well as Man, to reflect his refocusing on Gustbran and the forge. He took a very high Disorder as well, to show the influence of his Eurmali biological father. Kalf's Fire Rune is actually equal to Air, again a reflection of a character who could be very righteous, focused, straight and narrow. His high Beast Rune as a hunter matches as well. Leika actually emerges with Fire as her highest Rune, with surprisingly strong Darkness as well. 

I am intrigued that the characters in the remix all came out with high connections to Fire/Sky (which is of course Kallyr's chief affinity as the Starbrow). 

In short, both the Family History and Rune affinities produced characters more complex and fleshed out than before. The Passions contributed a lot to this as well.

Magic? Cults? Additional Experience?

Six Seasons in Sartar starts with the characters undergoing their adulthood rites, and follows them over their first year as adults. As such the characters do not yet have magic or cults, and have only cultural and occupational skills (derived from the occupation of their parents). Starting with their adulthood rites, which we also conducted over Zoom and separately, magic will come into play.

But that is for next time.