Friday, April 16, 2010

Sanctuary Much

One of the things I retrieved from the UK recently was my Chaosium edition of Thieves' World.  As classic games go, this is really up there with the best of them.  The only thing missing was the original Personalities of Sanctuary book, which I had discarded at some point because I had the RQIII stats in the Thieves' World Companion. Darn it!  As it happens, I discovered the recent Green Ronin game based on Sanctuary was available direct from them for a fraction of the price asked at my FLGS, so I ordered that for comparison.  So far it feels like a useful addition to my Thieves' World games collection.

But what has this got to do with Runequest, I hear you ask.  Well, not only was the Chaosium set put together by Greg Stafford himself, complete with RQII and then RQIII stats, but Sanctuary itself was transplanted to Glorantha.  As "Refuge," the city was perched at the tip of the Eastern peninsula of the Holy Country.  Beyond that, however, I know nothing, but as I intend to make that area an attractive adventuring element in my sandbox I have decided that Refuge will indeed be Sanctuary transplanted.
However, this will take more than a little work given the complications of "modern" treatment of the Holy Country, where things have gotten a bit complicated.  The basic idea of Sanctuary in the era I'd like to run it is of an old culture (Ilsigi) recently conquered by a strong empire (Ranke) that has weakened severely owing to a war with a magically powerful neighbor to the North (Nis).  In addition, a rich and powerful seafaring matriarchy (the Beysibs) have recently moved in and essentially taken over.

This actually fits quite neatly until you get mythologies involved.  The Ilsigi can be the Heortlings.  The Rankans can be the Holy Country 'federation' imposed by Belintar the God-King (I still prefer Pharoah, which I never interpreted as meaning he was Egyptian, which apparently a lot of people did).  Nis is plainly the Lunar Empire, complete with women with powerful magic.  The Beysibs can even be returning Waertagi.

The complicating factors are the Esvulari - the monotheist Orlanthi that reside in the lowlands of Heortland - and the Knights of Malkonwal, followers of Sir Richard the Tigerhearted, possibly the worst name in the history of Gloranth (he has since been retconned to Rikard the Tiger, but I'm calling him Rijkaard).  I'm going to deal with this by declaring that the Esvulari never made inroads in Refuge and that Prince Kadakithis is actually the younger brother of Rijkaard, but was appointed regent by Belintar.  The disappearance of Belintar and the reign of Rijkaard can mirror the chaos in Ranke caused by the accession of Theron.

Where things get difficult is the religions of Sanctuary.  The Ilsigi religion has a trickster god as chief, with an Earth mother type, a trade god, a love goddess, a healing goddess and a thief god prominent.  The Rankan cosmology has a Sun god, a Star goddess and a really violent Storm/War god.  The Ilsig pantheon translates quite well to traditional Heortling gods: Orlanth Adventurous, Asrelia/Ernalda, Issaries, Chalanna Arroy and Lanbril are reasonable analogs.  Eurmal can have a prominent role too to get the trickster element in.  But the Rankan gods just don't seem to fit and this is important because the nature of their gods is reflected in the personalities of some important characters that I want to see in Refuge.

Here's my solution: Vashanka, the mad war/storm god, becomes Belintar the God-King himself.  Tempus, the great hero, is one of the Masters of Luck and Death, destined to be a vessel of Belintar, but that plan is blown apart when the Pharoah disappears.  This makes his hatred of the Nis/Lunars more obvious.  Cime, his sister, can have a similar background.  Savankala, the Sun God, can be the Invisible God of Malkonwal.  And I'm going to write Sabellia out of the equation, as she doesn't have that important a role.  Ayzuna can be a damaged spirit cruelly abused by the Pharoah in his ascension.

As for the "outsider" gods, Dyareela is obviously Krarsht, Heqt can be Frog Woman, the Praxian spirit cult, Weda Krishtawn can be Magasta the sea god and the Order of the Blue Star is going to be a sorcerous order associated with the House of Black Arkat.

So, bearing this in mind, here are the dispositions, as it were, of the most prominent characters of Refuge, in the order presented in the Thieves World Companion:

Prince and Officials

Aye-Golphan, Captain of the Palace Guard, Rokari mercenary
Critias, Stepson, initiate of the God-King (and Humakt?)
Danlis, lady-in-waiting, Rokari
Prince Kadakithis, Prince-Governor, Rokari
Molin Torchholder, Bishop of the Invisible God, Rokari
Niko, Stepson, Rokari or Esvulari
Tempus Thales, Hell Hound, Master of Luck and Death
Walegrin, Rokari mercenary, knows secret of iron
Zalbar, Hell Hound captain, initiate of the God-King (Esvulari?)


Alten Stulwig, alchemist
Amoli, owner of Lily Garden
Dubro, Blacksmith
Enas Yorl, cursed Brithini sorcerer from God Forgot
Gilla, wife of Lalo
Hakiem, half-Fonritian storyteller, adviser to the Beysibs
Hanse Shadowspawn, servant of Orlanth Adventurous and Lanbril
Haught, apprentice sorcerer
Hort, storyteller and ex-fisherman
Illyra, half-Praxian seer
Ischade, cursed sorceress and enemy of Roxane (Carmanian?)
Jarveena, waif and survivor from Lunar conquest of Sartar
Jubal, Argimori ex-gladiator and crime lord
Kemren the Purple Mage, sorcerer and apostate priest of Magasta
Kurd, God Forgot vivisectionist
Lalo, portrait artist, blessed of Orlanth
Masha, human midwife
Melilot, scribe
Mizraith, Brithini sorcerer
Mor-am & Moria, former Hawkmasks
Mradhon Vis, mercenary from Tarsh (Exile)
Myrtis, owner of Aphrodisia House (and sister of Lythande)
Lastel, slumming Esvulari noble
Zip, thief and revolutionary


Cappen Varra, minstrel from Ralios
Chenaya, Holy Country noble, Master of Luck and Death
Cime, immortal harlot, former Master of Luck and Death, now sorcerer-killer
Cythen, Heortling mercenary
Jamie the Red, Sartarite barbarian noble
Kama, soldier and bard, initiate of the God King
Lord Kurrekai, Waertagi nobleman
Lythande, Adept of the Blue Star
Monkel Setmur, Waertagi sea captain and elder
Randal, Stepson, Hrestoli mage
Roxane, Lunar agent and sorceress
Samlor hil Samt, Pavic merchant, priest of Issaries
Smhee, Black Fang assassin a long way from home
Shupansea, "Beysa" and empress of the Waertagi
Sync, Captain of the 3rd Commando, Rokari mercenary

It'll probably be a while before my players get to Refuge, but I'm going to enjoy it when they do.


  1. Hey there,

    I'm Janet Morris and I'm curious about how much rpg activity my characters, such as Tempus, Niko, Critias, Zip, Straton, Roxane, Enlil, Jihan, etc. are getting these days, since we've just done a new book, The Sacred Band, that returns the Band to Sanctuary ten years after they left, before Lynn's religious war. Any information would be helpful; I'm not a gamer.



  2. Chaosium's Thieves World was one of the best and most used areas for my role-playing games of long ago. I used BRP then, and placed the town in the World of Greyhawk, where it fit perfectly as Roland in the Great Kingdom. I still have my copy squirreled away somewhere. It truly set the standard for urban role-playing.

  3. Hi, I find your conversion very interesting for my own campaign. But, where did you learn that "Sanctuary itself was transplanted to Glorantha. As "Refuge," the city was perched at the tip of the Eastern peninsula of the Holy Country." ?
    Is there any official confirmation of this?