RQ Homeland Hargala
(Taken from Guide to Glorantha, pages 473-476. Used without permission as fair use.)
The islands are generally covered with tropical forests, inhabited by a variety of creatures, including tigers, rhinoceroses, monkeys, and countless species of birds. Most islands are quite small and have a population of a few hundred people. More than a thousand people makes a population significant, and only a few have more inhabitants than that. They have avoided overpopulation by adhering to their local gods’ demands, and in most places life is easy. Every island is distinct from its neighbor, though many share some traits (like language dialects, the ways they make baskets, the way they favor or disfavor the hat cult, and so on). All share a richness of color, a friendly disposition, and a total disinterest in changing their lives to acquire the goods of foreigners, whether toys, weapons, or foods.
In one sense, the islands are close, since they usually have immediate neighbors. Everyone on the coasts has canoes or small boats. From the time that the islands were made people were boating between neighboring islands. Even during the Closing it was possible to sail from one island to another.
In another sense, the islands are distant, as this vast archipelago covers millions of square miles. Islands range from 15,500 square miles (Haragala) down to tiny rocks which disappear at high tide. They are luxuriant and, to outsiders, exotic. Furthermore, they become truly fabulous traveling further and further east. No one can truly say where these exotic islands end and the fabled Lands of the Dawn begin.
Each island is an independent government and has its own native deity. Every island is different in some way from its neighbors. The huge number of islands provides many exceptions to any cultural norms which are categorized here. Nonetheless, these broad generalizations are far truer for the majority than not true.
Most East Islanders live in small, monogamous family units. Children normally leave home at maturity, except for the youngest who generally remain to take care of their elderly parents.
East Islanders are unusually tolerant of weird and outlandish ways, finding them interesting or amusing rather than frightening or dangerous. They delight in elaborate costumes, flamboyant speech, exotic food, haggling, and music of every sort.
Magic is integral to life. It is used, for instance, to deal with criminals. They are not imprisoned, but receive punishments designed to fit the crime and properly humiliate the criminal. For instance, a swaggering bully might be reduced to the size of a cat for a year.
Humans are the most populous, inhabit the largest number of islands, and are the only creatures to occasionally organize in numbers large enough to enter the stage of world history. The East Islanders are mostly yellowskinned, black-haired people, similar to the Kralori and Vormaino.
Keets are a native race of avian people identical in all but superficial essentials to the ducks of southern Genertela. They are divided by appearance and cultural preferences into several types. Most keets are smaller than humans, between 2 and 4 feet tall. They dominate in several island chains, are a minority in several others, and migrate through most of the rest.
Sorns are evil relatives of keets who did not lose their powers of flight during the Demigod Wars. They are reptilian and fly with leathery wings. They are approximately the same size as keets. Sorns are notorious for evil deeds, such as stealing children, cutting ship’s rigging, spoiling food, and so on.
Ludoch are also strongly present. A large, organized tribe populates the waters of the southwest section of the East Isles. Elder Races are rare. Yellow elves inhabit most of the larger islands but lack any interisland interest. Maromonkotro has some very tall mountains where some green elves live. Andins are a race of demonic creatures which inhabit many of the islands. They are cruel and evil creatures that are avoided wherever possible, and confined to their islands. Occasionally among the islands are even found strongholds of the Adpara, the evil gods.
All government is local. Several organizations coordinate, rule, or somehow command groups of islands, but all are openly acknowledged as temporary. The current largest government is centered on Haragala, and is primarily financed by a widespread network of voluntary tribute.
Most islanders speak Tanyen, a family of Vithelan languages. It has many variants, most of which can be understood by other speakers. Some island clusters have their own languages, but they also speak “Trader’s Tanyen”, which was spread by the Mokato Empire about five centuries earlier.
Tanyen is associated with four written scripts. The most common script is Parlothadi, which has symbols for each combination of a consonant and a vowel. It was the official script of the Mokato Empire in the Second Age, and is used widely throughout the East Isles. The rarest script, Yederjalif, uses the sacred Runes and can express only the words of the Highest Gods. Kadijalif is a complex system of hieroglyphs made for the description and explanation of holy words. Fenvalo is an easier-to-use hieroglyphic system, now used largely by scholars for puzzle games.
The seagoing East Islanders are unsophisticated at land warfare. They lack extensive mineral resources, so local weapons are of wood, stone, coral, seashells, and even shark’s teeth, often blessed by their god’s magic.
Traditionally, from even before Mokato, islands fought ceremonial (though bloody) naval battles; when an island’s fleet was defeated, the island simply surrendered. Foreigners ended that custom. Well armed invaders also caused islands to surrender, for few standing armies exist and even native militia are uncommon. Horses are not native to the area and are of little use shipboard, so cavalry is virtually unknown.
Most East Isles ships are quaint merchant vessels, coming in many outlandish varieties. Most of the larger islands maintain a war fleet to protect themselves and their tributaries from raiding Vormaino, Teleono, or Haragalan pirates.
East Isles warships are small, relying upon magic to decide the battle rather than boarding or ramming. Most ships have tall masts with sails reaching only halfway up their length and often have towers in the middle, fore, or aft of the vessel. During battle, magicians sit in the crow’s nest or atop the towers and use their magic to defeat enemy ships from a distance.
Thousands of deities coexist under a blanket of common beliefs.
Mysticism is commonly known, but mostly ignored. Occasional great centers of Stillness decorate the East Isles, and mystics are often found wandering around. These are mortal beings who, through the meditative practice of Detachment, acquire an inner strength that allows the greatest of them to defy any of the gods. But in general, such beliefs and practices are too lofty for ordinary people. In contrast, martial arts are one of the most common manifestations of low mysticism, and every East Island has its favorite schools of martial arts.
The Parloth are a tribe of High Gods which are generally known on most islands, but are not of major importance. A few are worshiped in various places for various seasonal rites, like preparing Veldru to be the hurricane shield. Other deities receive sacrifices to achieve some specific purpose, like sacrificing to Karkal before attacking an Andin stronghold. However, the Parloth gods are (almost) nowhere acknowledged to be the most important deities. Instead, those High Gods created the world through dance and music, play, and indulgent pleasures. They then fought against the enemy Adpara tribes of antigods, and for various reasons have withdrawn into the forces of Nature, leaving the island gods to treat with mortals.
Priests of the Parloth are respected, but are not regarded with superstitious awe. Everybody knows it takes as much politicking as spiritual worth to become a priest and it is just another profession, though an honorable one. Most East Isles priests wear long silk robes. Such robes are generally monocolored, to set them apart from the brightly-decorated costumes worn by laymen.
Island gods are the most important. Every native’s most important deity is their island deity or deities, and every adult native of that island regularly worships that deity. The deity is the entity which tells them how to live a life of pleasure and luxury, in harmony with the larger gods of Nature and each other. Membership in these cults is determined entirely by being a native of that island. Converts are highly unusual and entirely unexpected. Even permanent immigrants to an island don’t bother to join the native faith.
Most island residents know exactly where their deity lives, and regularly do whatever is required by it. Many of these manifest in great natural phenomena; others inhabit temples which were constructed to protect the precious god.
This single great temple generally determines the capital or tribal center for large islands. On the larger islands, many shrines exist to remind worshipers of their deity, and often convey some power to the main site as well. It is not unusual to find shrines in the most remote reaches of an island, probably put there in ancient times for the resident's convenience.
Every island is different. Yet to outsiders they seem to form a homogeneous whole, often bizarre and overly colorful.
Creating a character
To create a character from East isles.
Roll 1d20 for parents occupation, or choose from the table.
This table determines the history of player characters grandparents and parents. Years are approximate outside of dragon pass, but they correlate fairly well with the years in family history sheet.
|Your grandparents history|
|1582||If your favorite grandparent was male, his wife is kidnapped, else her Kinswoman is kidanpped. The assailants are unknown.|
|1597||Kralorelan merchants arrive and tell that the oceans are open again. Roll 1d20, add +5 if Merchant.
|1602||Your grandparent had to adjudicate between a Hargalan trader and a Keet. Roll 1d20:
|1603-1604||Grandparent fell in to debt because of a few bad investments. Roll 1d20:
|1605||After the debt incident a very lucrative deal was offered, risk was high, but so was the revard.
|Your parents history|
|1608||The Vormaini raiders hit the island of Kaharside.
|1610||A fairly normal year in east Isles:
|1613||Parent took a risky business venture:
|1615||Your parent did some investigation on the Three Petal society. Roll 1d20:
|1616||You parent was offered a place in the crew of treasure ship Quang Yang. Roll 1d20 add +5 if parent is in maritime profession.
|1619||An expedition to the Vithalas was organized. Roll 1d20.
|1620||Captain Fogio had a wedding, and your parent was invited. Roll 1d20.
|1621||Rumors told of firebergs in Sshorg sea. Otherwise a normal year.
|Your personal history|
|1622||While sailing at sea, you met a crew of Wolf pirates. A loathsome crew of cutthroats. Roll 1d20 add +5 if Warrior or Martial artist.
|1623||Befriended a Magic man. If you want, you can take Wizard's apprentice as you occupation.|
|1624||While you were walking in the streets of Champaya a masked assilants attacked you. You managed to get a glimpse of the symbol of three petal society, before you lost consciousness. When you woke you were on a slave ship.|
|Fast talk||10%||Throwing dagger||10%|
|Homeland lore (Pick one)||10%||Self Bow||10%|
|Speak other language (Tradetalk)||20%|
|Speak other language (Boatspeech)||20%|
|Speak other language (Pick one)||10%|