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Lee R Insley wrote:

Does anyone have a write-up of the Sartar landscape, villages, culture, etc. A friend of mine once told me that the basis for Sartar was along the lines of the Germans in Roman times. From my knowledge of the Germans, it appears to me that Sartar is more like Gaul than Germany. I say this for two reasons:

1) Gauls was more civilized than Germany. Germany had no large towns or trading centers before the Romans got there. Gaul, however, had such places.

2) Germany was never fully subjugated by Rome. Gaul was.


Patrik Sandberg wrote:

In general, I agree with you here. But I would like to stress the following:

-When thinking in earthly analogues, the cultural and art flavour doesn't necessarily have to be the same as the political one. That is: your 1) and 2) don't have to go hand in hand.

-More importantly, IMHO Orlanthi culture should always be a tight and (almost) non-diffusable _mixture_ of Celtic, Viking, Ango-Saxian, Germanic (and maybe others as well) stuff. On the other hand it seems to me that people tend to lean more heavily on the analogue they are most familiar with. Me, for myself, once read "Njal's Saga" at the same time as reading King of Sartar, and naturally my Sartar has a strong Viking "feel". But, (obviously), without the most cliché-like stuff, like Viking long-ships (those are for the Wolf pirates), thralls hanging in the trees, the "bloots", hammers of Thor etc.

So, minutely detailed, my vision of Sartar includes:

-A physical landscape which is a blend of the Scottish Highlands and Iceland for the hills and mountains; the fertile areas around lake Malaren in Sweden for the valleys. (For details on flora, fauna and weather, John Hughes notes from the Far Point region is helpful. They were on the Digest some years ago. I can e-mail them to you if you send me a notice.) 

-Boldhome looks like it does in the Boldhome guide; the other cities I picture as Lutetia looks like in Asterix. (There you got Gaul.) But sometimes the temples look like Norwegian staff-churches filtered through Gloranthan fantasy weirdness. And an Ernalda temple (both in the cities and among the hill clans) can be a squat stone-building with Mycenean influences, and statues reminiscent of clay ones depicting Frey and Freya, and patterns decorating the walls being a perfect mix-up between Celtic swirls and Viking figures taken from nordic Rune-stones. Also, don't forget the Walls built by Sartar and his descendants. These should be magically well-built and of stone. They aren't exactly "Orlanthi" per se in detail. I use the walls around Pavis as a template. (Dorasar, who built those walls were fromthe Sartar family and most likely was inspired by walls built in Sartar by his kin.)

-If an Orlanthi holy place is a hill-top, then there are often standing stones which are elongated like "menhirs", but also sculpted and carved like Celtic "men with gaping mouths" and lot of Gloranthan Runes. (By the way, the picture of a wooden statue of Orlanth in GoG is based on a picture of one "I. Bilibine", depicting the _slavic_ god "Svantevit".) On the other hand, if the holy place is situated in the woods, I have no problem with this description from "The Iron Hand of Mars", by Lindsey Davis, wherein the hero visits barbaric Germania:

"It just seemed like any other clearing when we first went in. It must have been generations old /.../ this place had a special atmosphere. There was a smell of moss and misery./.../ Ahead of us leaned a grotesque statue in rotting, roughhewn wood /.../ He loomed up like a huge gnarled oak trunk, beaded with livid orange mould and rooted in decay. He had three primitive faces, with four staring Celtic almond-shaped eyes distributed among them. Atop him the wide antlers of some massive elk draped themselves as if trying to embrace the sky. Before the god stood a basic turf altar where the priests came to make their sacrifice."

-Clusters of steads, situated in the valleys is part Viking-Birka, part Saxon long-house (others prefer the Celtic round house), again with extra details from the staff-churches. A Kings Hall might be extravagantly complex, layer clustered upon layer and with a central hall 30 meters high from floor to roof, maybe with a central trunk from an old tree (like king Hrothgars Hall in Beowulf). The households living up in the highlands I give houses as the Stoeng complex on Iceland. (Lower house - it is much more windy up there.)

-The Orlanthi hill forts which dot the Sartarian landscape can be based both on Celtic and Viking ones. They are almost similar. Good examples from the Viking world are Eketorp in Sweden or Trelleborg in Denmark. From the Celtic world: Danebury, Alesia or Gergovia.

Gloranthan sources differ on the subject of permanently populated or non-populated hillforts. Clearwine and Runegate definitely seems to have a lot of permanent residents. They are the equivalent of "towns". IMG the King of the Colymar reside in Clearwine. On the other hand, in Tales #7, we read of the Blue Boar fort: "Within are the Orlanth shrine/…/ and several poorly-maintained longhouses. The rest of the space is used if clan lands are attacked; they will take their chattel wealth and drive their herds into the fort for protection."

Choose whatever suits you. Personally, I use the hill forts as tribal centers where the King is likely to reside, where the largest market is, etc.

-The tattoos on both men and women's bodies are in Celtic pattern (the woad-magic of Orlanth is clearly from the Celtic inspirational well). But, IMG there are no naked, screaming Picts or Celts - I just don't like the image. I prefer my Orlanthi fyrd to wear leather armour, or mail for the rich ones. (Mail, incidentally, seems to be a Celtic invention which the romans adopted during the reign of Augustus.) Also, IMG the Sartarites don't wear kilts (I suppose the Brits. will sob now). But they do play bagpipe!

- Clothing, appearance and trinkets are a tight-knit thing as well. IMG only Wind Lords on Sacred Quests use Woad and "spike" their hair in naked Celtic fashion. The torques which Chieftains of the Rex cult wear are typically Celtic, whereas the woman,s symbol of status, the key to the longhouse, smells Viking to me. Beards and moustaches are popular and extravagantly constructed: forked, long, braided etc. Issaries merchants take a pride in sporting foreign clothes, just as Viking merchants are often portrayed doing.

-For an Orlanthi moot or Orlanthi justice, apart from the Report on the Orlanthi in KoS, read Icelandic sagas. For the, oh so popular, sport/economic system of cattle-raiding - look for celtic/irish sources.

-To understand a Humakti (and also realize why everybody stear clear of them) think of an Odinic berserk, permanently "high" on fly agaric, tuned down by some Samuraian warrior code ethics, and add a touch or two of sombre Gunslingers of the Wild West...

-For tribal kings which disappear during hunts, or stroll into hillside openings and then vanish from the world - look up Mabinogion or other Celtic sagas.

…etc, etc. I think that you should avoid, if at all possible, to stick with just one analogue. And above all - don't forget the never-to-be-found "analogue" of Gloranthan weirdness and feeling of High fantasy, which should be there as well.

What it all comes down to, in the end, is a matter of taste, I suppose. But the above-written is how I have handled both the Talastar, Skanthi, Aggarian and Sartarite Orlanthis. (I would stick to it quite much if I went down to Heortland as well. I'm not particularly fond of the medieval pot this area often seems to be. On the other hand again, the step between a Viking culture and a medieval Norman ain't that long, so I suppose I can reconcile the differences...)

Cheers,

Patrik Sandberg

kaselov.sandberg@swipnet.se


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