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Relating Glorantha to real world history.

Relating Glorantha to real world history.

Postby TrippyHippy » Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:40 am

As I continue to read through my whopping Guide to Glorantha set, and noting the Chaosium RuneQuest edition coming up next year, it would help me to get a crash course on the historical references made through the setting. It is clear that the various Gloranthan cultures have some allegory to real world cultures and it is oft said that the technology of the world is broadly that of our own bronze age. So could somebody give me a loose breakdown on what cultures these are? What sort of books should I read up on for inspiration, too?
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Re: Relating Glorantha to real world history.

Postby soltakss » Sun Aug 23, 2015 5:53 am

Just to make it clear, Glorantha is not based on any earth cultures, it is a setting all by itself.

Having said that, there are some things that can help understand Gloranthan cultures a little better. They might also make you think about Gloranthan cultures differently and might lead to some very wrong conclusions, as Gloranthan cultures are different to real world analogues.

Let's start with the easiest ones:

Pentians are loosely based on Mongols, or rather Turkic steppe nomads. If you read up on the Mongols or other Turkic steppe-nomads then you will get ideas about Pentians.
Praxians are based on a cross between the steppe nomads and Native American Plains Cultures. Read up on Yak riders, Reindeer Riders, Tibetan nomads and stepe nomads for ideas about the tribes and culture, also any Native American Plains Mythology for ideas about the mythology of Praxians.
Heortlings loosely based on a mixture of Heroic Cultures, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Viking, so read up on those for ideas about the clan/tribe culture. Their mythology is not so similar, so reading up on germanic/Norse/Celtic mythology won't help that much.

Now the harder ones:
Dara Happa is very, very loosely based on the Bronze Age cultures of the Fertile Crescent, large rivers, cities with ziggurats and god-emperors. So, reading about those might help with some of the flavour.
The Lunar Empire is very, very loosely based on later Fertile Crescent cultures, I think of them as being almost Assyrian/Babylonian, with Ishtar being the base of the Red Goddess, but that is a very loose comparison.
Kralorela is loosely based on Cathay, Ancient China, so its mythology/culture might help
Vithela is loosely Nippon, so reading up on Japanese medieval culture might help a bit
Pamaltela is loosely based on Australian Aborigines, so their mythology might help a bit

Now for the others:
The West used to be based on medieval Christianity/Islam, but really isn't
The Holy Country has really nothing to do with Ancient Egypt, despite their king being the Pharaoh

Glorantha takes its ideas from all sorts of places, pulling bits in from here, bits from there and merging them with made up stuff that isn't based on anything in earth mythologies and cultures.

So, the Sky and Earth being forcibly separated comes from Egyptian mythology but that doesn;t mean that similar things come from Egyptian Mythology, for example.
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Re: Relating Glorantha to real world history.

Postby Pentallion » Mon Aug 24, 2015 12:58 am

But don't drink from the River Styx.
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Re: Relating Glorantha to real world history.

Postby eggdropsoap » Tue Aug 25, 2015 8:16 pm

soltakss wrote:The Holy Country has really nothing to do with Ancient Egypt, despite their king being the Pharaoh

IIRC Greg has copped to using “Pharoah” incorrectly, as he misunderstood its meaning at the time. Belintar isn't called “Pharoah” in later publications to avoid giving the erroneous impression that there's anything Egyptian involved in the Holy Country's inspirations.
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Re: Relating Glorantha to real world history.

Postby Davecake » Tue Sep 22, 2015 6:23 am

It is very important to realise that while historical cultures are important sources of inspiration for Gloranthan cultures, there is always a lot more going on. Plus some fictional cultures are important as well.
Kralorela certainly has a lot of Chinese inspiration, but other cultures are important as well, especially Tibet.
Pamaltela really is not very much based on Australian Aboriginal culture at all - it is far more based on several plains African cultures. Fonrit has been described as part North Africa, part Melniboné.
The Fiwan (Pamaltelan Hsunchen) combine African myth, Australian Aboriginal myth (though not so much reality), and part animal behaviour.
The two main sources for the West cultures include Indian Hindu cultures (particularly both are caste societies), and Greek philosophy (like Platonism). Add a little Hebrew Kabbalah for their magic. The Fronelans look a bit more European, but that is mostly due to weather.
And yes, the idea that there is anything Egyptian in Esrolia is pretty much entirely due to Greg misusing the word Pharoah.
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Re: Relating Glorantha to real world history.

Postby eponette » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:16 am

Dave,

if I want to go a little deeper in Pamaltela, What kind of culture should I look at? It doesn't seems to be like the Sudan Empire at all.

I'm looking at myth, but also clothing, jewelry, social structure, habitat, food, ...
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Re: Relating Glorantha to real world history.

Postby soltakss » Tue Sep 22, 2015 5:34 pm

eponette wrote:Dave,

if I want to go a little deeper in Pamaltela, What kind of culture should I look at? It doesn't seems to be like the Sudan Empire at all.

I'm looking at myth, but also clothing, jewelry, social structure, habitat, food, ...


There was a supplement produced that was like the Gloranthan Encyclopedia but which covered Pamaltela and the East isles, but I cannot remember what it was called. I am sure that someone will remind me ...

One of the Tales of the Reaching Moons covered the Agimori, if you can get your hands on it.

I treat the Agimori in prax as being similar to a cross between Zulus and Masai, but they are probably quite different to the ones in Pamaltela. There are some Agimori in the West as well, but they are Malkioni and culturally different to those in Pamaltela.

In Pamaltela, there might be different Agimori cultures. We know that the True Agimori are like Mistress race Trolls to normal Agimori, maybe men and three-quarters. I wouldn't have a problem in having different kinds of Agimori, some based on Autralian Aborigines, some based on Zulu, some on Masai and even some based on Pygmies, although they wouldn't be Men and a Half.
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RQ Merrie England (Medieval RPG): http://merrieengland.soltakss.com/

RQ/BRP: http://www.soltakss.com/index.html
RQ Alternate Earth: Group: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/alternateearthrq/
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Re: Relating Glorantha to real world history.

Postby steve.lieb » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:31 pm

YGMV, I'd have said that Dara Happa was founded on concepts of the ancient Indus River civilization, and the later Lunar parallel to elements of the Roman Empire is pretty clear for me too.

Granted, these are all very loose pastiches, and up to whoever's running the campaign. Jonatela always felt to me much like Dark Ages Germania/Teutonics, too.
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