Saturday, June 26, 2021

Lohwand: Mapping the Tharkallan Empire


The central Heartland Provinces:
Jharkor, Dharijor and Dharjiin,
Tharkallan Empire

It has been awhile since I last posted, but that does not mean that I have been entirely idle. I've been plugging away at a variety of things: my Armatura rules, background development and map-making. 

The above screencap shows some of the recent progress in three of the central "Heartland" Provinces of the Tharkallan Empire. Some may recognize Nemedia Province, to the east, with Belverus and Ilisi as its main cities. South of that is Voria Province, with Rinliddi as its capital, and also featuring Zoria, the "City of Free Love". As with so much of my inspiration, this comes from Glorantha, specifically the Life of Moonson series of supplements. I was so taken by the plot and by the characters that I have gone to great lengths to incorporate them. My hope is to build them into the running of Tharkalla - the development of my nobility, and Imperial bureaucracy, took a great leap forward when I decided to do this.

Southeast of Voria, down next to Vonlath, the province of Bisset is still largely unmapped. The only things I really know about it is 1) the capital is Yuthuppa and 2) that the province went into revolt as a result of the Comet passing during The Year of the Comet. 

Southwest of Voria is the Heartland Province of Jharkor, with the capital city of Thark (and the Imperial City-within-a-City of Glamour, and Vernkor, the associated port city.) 

I've added some geographic features not shown on my world maps. The Lake of Vermillion Mists is inspired by a blogger that I follow, and is lifted, not quite in its entirety from his blog: From the Sorcerer's Skull.

West of Jharkor is the Heartland Province of Dharjiin, with Jord, the Ebon City, as its capital. This is where I was tinkering today, adding the Shadow's Dance, the Shadow Vale and the Castle of Lead. All lifted from Glorantha and all Troll-related. Gloranthan Trolls remember - not the D&D variety!

North of Dharjiin is the Heartland Province of Dharijor, with Alkoth as its capital. Alkoth is the home, just as it is in Glorantha, to the bat-shit crazy, fanatical devotees of Shargash the Destroyer, God of War. What are they like? Hint: "Kill You" is the name of one of their auxiliary cohortes. Per Glorantha fluff, the Alkothi hate Darjiini! No "Happy Families" in the Heartlands! South of Alkoth is the Henjarl, a vast swath of reeds and marshes. Western Dharijor is the County of Spol, again inspired by Glorantha and specifically by the Life of Moonson Characters. Kitor is the capital of the County. To the west of that is Shadow's Dance, Troll country, nestled in the Rockwood Mountains. As one approaches the Shadow's Dance one notices the light gradually dims, even at high noon, until around Kitor and in the foothills there is perpetual dusk during the day. This is a magical effect and is attributed to the proximity to the Castle of Lead and the strong Troll presence in the region. For those that don't know, Gloranthan Trolls are Darkness creatures, originating in the Underworld. There are five Elements in Lohwand, just as there are in Glorantha: Fire, Air, Water, Earth, and Darkness. Darkness Elementals are called "Shades" and Shadow's Dance gets its name because it is said the shadows move there.

On the far side of the Rockwood mountains are the two Heartland Provinces of Kostaddi (in the North) and Karasal (with its capital at Torquas) in the South. I have only begun to think about developing these areas.

Also of interest on the map are some small diamond-shaped symbols. I am using this symbol to represent forts. In Dharjiin, Jharkor and Voria these are Amazon hillforts. 

These are once again inspired in part by Glorantha. In Lohwand Amazons are somewhat like Celts, warlike tribes with chariots and warbands of infantry and only a few cavalry. Though they resemble human females they are not, strictly speaking, human; or not entirely so, perhaps, is a better way of putting it. Possibly they are a branch of humanity. As in Glorantha they are strongly associated with Tolat, a God of War and Lust. Their entire biology relates to the God, and so it may be they are Children of the God, rather than actual humans. "God-Born", is that a good term to use?

(To further complicate matters Shargash and Tolat are often equated with each other.)

Tolati Amazons do not mate with human males. Instead their birth cycle is tied to the meteor showers, i.e. manifestations of the God, that occur twice a year. A certain number of Tolati will become pregnant during these events and will give birth a season later, with the young growing to maturity after another season. 

Like I said, they are not human, strictly speaking. Whether they were in the past is another question. Of course, the Comet is an extreme event, being strongly associated with Tolat and resulting in a rapid [unlooked for and unwanted] population increase.

Most of the Tolati Amazons are in the Atlan Confederacy, to the east, off the map: Ologog, Oronin and Oraya are their Queendoms. But, as you can see, there are Tolati within the Empire as well. This roughly parallels the Gauls in Northern Italy during Roman times.

For figures I am using the Artizan Guild 3d printed Amazons, which I am up-scaling 185% to match my Expeditionary Force 60mm Romans. Note that LOD also make Amazons, but a number of things put me off. Firstly, when I attempted to order a bunch the online store claimed they could not ship to Canada (!) - this even though I had ordered online once before - and second, the poses are all based very closely on the art of various Ancient Greek vases. I said "very closely" and I mean it - I personally do not find many of the poses to be that useful. I am still going to get some: there is an Amazon Greek faction on Lohwand, and I want to mix the horse archers in with my Scythians.

Another mapping development is the mountainous barbarian land of Dunland. Inspired by? You guessed it: Tolkien's Dunlendings. Dunland is located on a plateau and consists of several tribes with a High King. The eastern tribal stronghold of Wintertop was stolen and taken over by The Exiles, the former nobility of Nemedia who fled there when their kingdom was conquered and incorporated into the Tharkallan Empire as Nemedia Province. This is once again inspired by Glorantha. :-)


Dorastor and the Bossonian Marches

Lastly, here is the map of Dorastor. Gloranthaphiles will recognise the name as well. In Glorantha, Dorastor is a region steeped in Chaos, and most of the inhabitants are tainted by Chaos in some way, and so it is in Lohwand. 

The Tharkallan Empire takes much the same view of Chaos as the Lunar Empire does on Glorantha, though I want to stress that the two are not equivalents. I want the Tharkallan Empire to also have a bit of Granbreton from Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon series, and also Melnibone from his Elric books. But right now, this is a bit of its Gloranthan inspiration. 

Dorastor is almost an unofficial province of the Empire. But the Bossonian Marches still exist to guard against the Chaos threat from Dorastor and also the Wenelian Forest Tribes that dwell in the Great Forest of Rist, off-map to the north. 

This is a work-in-process map. Shown are the forts garrisoned by auxiliaries like the Bossonian Longbowmen, and others. The southern river is the Oslir River, while the Black Eel River is the northern-most one. Beyond the Black Eel River is the Bush Range - another idea borrowed from Glorantha.

Here are the regions:

The Bossonian Marches
B1.1 to B1.6 East March
B2.1 to B2.x  River March (not shown yet)
B3.1 to B3.x  West March (not shown yet)
B4.1 to B4.x  The Bush Range (not shown yet)

D1.1 to D1.8 Hellwood
D2.1 to D2.6 Riskland
D3.1 to D3.3 Bonewood
D4.1 to D4.3 Ash Wastes
D5.1 to D5.5 West Poisonthorn
D6.1 to D6.5 East Poisonthorn


The Dorastor regions are much like their Gloranthan counterparts. Hellwood and Poisonthorn Forest are both inhabited by Elves, those in Hellwood bearing a chaos taint. Riskland is a region with a few hardy, and brave, Steaders.  Bonewood is a forest of petrified trees, while the Ash Wastes is as the name implies. 

Orthanc represents the only built-up area in the region, other than the Marcher Forts. Also called "The White Tower", it is a remnant of the Keoish Kingdom at a time when Chaos was thought vanquished from the area, but to guard against its return. It is still a place of powerful magic and so the chaos taint is almost nonexistent within its walls. 

The Lord of Orthanc is called Ralzakark - immediately recognizable to Gloranthaphiles! He takes the form of a Unicorn-headed Broo, typically clad in long white robes, and is as soft-spoken, and seemingly mild-mannered as any pampered, city-born aristocrat. He has a treaty with the Tharkallan Empire:
  • Under that treaty he ensures that the Riskland homesteaders are not molested - at least not on a regular basis, nor by any of his own forces. 
  • He also keeps open the old Keoish trade route north through the Great Forest of Rist, at least as far as the Last Fort, where some limited trade is conducted with Wenelian, and other forest tribes, such as the Tusk Riders. 
  • He guarantees that Orthanc remains disease free. 
  • Lastly - and this is not commonly known - he supplies legions of Sword Broo to serve in the Tharkallan armies in Granbreton. These are also guaranteed disease-free.
This is why I referred to Dorastor as an unofficial province of the Empire. This is all pretty much as in Glorantha, I think, with some tweaks here and there. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Lohwand: Rivers of the Northlands


The Northlands

I only show eleven rivers in the entire Northlands, eight of them on the northern continent. There are, of course, many others too small to show at this scale - and as yet undiscovered for the most part, as I haven't developed much detail! I have added a few in the Tharkallan Heartlands Provinces as I develop them, and also a few large lakes as well.

Here are the names of the large rivers shown on the northern continent:

You might recognize some of the names! My usual sources: Middle Earth, Conan, Glorantha. The Drancus and the Drava are a tribute to the Albertine imagination campaign profiled in "Wargamer's Digest" articles over 40 years ago. The Ilisi river I think I actually came up with myself! ;-)

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Lohwand: the Races of Lohwand

When I started my Lohwand campaign I had intended to leave out elves and dwarves and the like, particularly orcs and goblins. But fairly quickly I decided I wanted Tusk Riders, who are half-trolls. These are Gloranthan trolls, by the way, "Uz", not those that live under bridges. I have relented even further since and arrived at the above chart showing the main races. 

So, most civilized and most intelligent are the Vadhagh, which are Corum's race from Moorcock's Corum series (and possibly also Elric's race.)

The Mostali (Gloranthan Dwarves) are next in line with high civilization levels and high use of technology and science (= intelligence.)

Then come the Mabden (i.e. Mankind, using the term from the Corum books.) They are reasonably civilized with Empires and Kingdoms, but with some primitive, tribal cultures as well. They have some technological or sorcerous ability, reading and writing, mathematics, etc. At the most civilized levels, at least.

Then come the Uz (Gloranthan Trolls.) Not quite so intelligent, at least not in the way of using technology or the niceties of civilization, but not stupid either; they can be cunning and wily strategists, but tend to emphasize force over other means. Some species, such as Cave Trolls are very beast-like.

The Aldryami (Gloranthan Elves) are next. They are the basically plants, some very intelligent, others mindless, but all distinctly on the "wild" side.

Last are the Morlocks, an off-shoot of the Mabden race. As barbaric as in The Time Machine, with cunning to match Gollum.

Some characters for the "Life of Moonson"

I had also intended to paint all the figures for this campaign the same as I do for my Tekumel figures, using the Foundry South American flesh triad; the humans on Tekumel look like Mesoamericans, basically. 

That changed for a number of reasons:

1) I am gaming Lohwand with 60mm figures, of which I started with none. So since my campaign began I have been slowly accumulating forces. I picked up some Egyptian figures on eBay, intending them for part of my Stygia faction. They arrived and I found that the flesh was painted some sort of bluish shade, almost indigo. Hmm, I thought, perhaps not really that bad an idea for a place called "Stygia";

2) I picked up the Life of Moonson RPG aid on DriveThruRPG. This is a Gloranthan play-aid about political intrigue in the heart of the Imperial Lunar Court. Intended for a LARP run several times in the late 90's it is never-the-less a great product - IMO - and I'll never be using it for any LARP. Anyway, I noticed the art for some characters showed them with blue skin (see above image). I rather liked the imagery, so I thought here is another vote for blue-skinned humans in Lohwand;

3) Of course, after I had started thinking in that direction I naturally had to add green skinned humans as well - they are in Glorantha already, but also there are Orion slave girls to think about!

Bottom line is I have subdivided my Mabden up into the following groups, which are inspired by Gloranthan sources, but also Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom stories:

Warerani - 'Red' skin, ranging from pale* to deeper shades, like the Mesoamerican skin tones I started with;

Waertagi - Green skin;

Artmali Blues:
        Vadeli/Helerings - Blue skin, as in the image above;
Veldang - Indigo/Slate blue skin, like the Stygians I acquired;

Agimori - Jet Black skin;
Orovars - White or Ivory skin;
Okarans - Yellow Skin, this a sort of earthy shade, as opposed to lemon yellow;

* I allowed the paler shades both because of the art but also b/c I have figures bought painted that fit and I don't want to repaint.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Something I've been tinkering with...


This is just a fraction of the cards I have completed, and I have far more images to use for more cards than I can currently accommodate! 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Lohwand: Dunland and the Exiles, the Mapping Continues...


The mapping continues...

Dunland lies in the mountains to the North of the Tharkallan heartland provinces. Home to the Dunlending hill tribes that have sometimes been a thorn in the side of Tharkalla. The forested, broken hills atop the Nantgali Plateau have thus far offered safe refuge from Tharkalla's wrath. The cliffs of Nantgali are passable to large forces in only a few places that are easily defensible; in contrast, Dunland raiders know many secret ways that enable them to run rings around there less nimble foe.

Each tribal area represents the lands of one of the great clans, up to a dozen lesser clans, and has a walled town as its capital. Kerk is the seat of the current King of Dunland.

The Exiles are descendants of the Nemedians who fled the Tharkallan invasion of their country sixty years ago. Their lands used to belong to Dunlendings, but they drove out the clan that formerly occupied Wintertop and have held off all attempts to retake it ever since. They are now so entrenched that not even the Tharkallan army could pry them loose, and it has tried several times!

To the west of Dunland lies Dorastor and the Bossonian Marches. I've also been mapmaking there...

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Lohwand: Dol Amroth Banners


Print and Paint

I wasn't satisfied with my first design so I had another go...


Realized that attempting to make these an watch Digging For Britain re-runs was a bad idea! The ships on the square (foot) banners should be sailing towards the banner pole. Here is the fixed version:

Dol Amroth banners (fixed)

Lohwand: Swan Knights of Dol Amroth


Swan Knight of Dol Amroth

Per LOTR fame, repurposed as some kind of "Knights of Malta" proxies for my Lohwand campaign. Meaning they've got an island, with a fortress, and galleys with which they engage the "heathen" ... or the pirates, at least.

60mm HYW knight from XForce, with a head from Tradition of London (which sells lots of nominally 54mm bits).

The banner I cobbled together in PowerPoint - the "poor man's graphics program". 

I borrowed the graphics from the Roll of Arms page:

The ship is borrowed from the Earl of Caithness:

The waves are from the Staple of Calais:

I cropped and edited them using the tools in Paint, saved as a jpg and pasted into PowerPoint. In PP I had already used the drawing tools to make a rectangle and a triangle inside it (3" x 1" actually size IIRC). I then copied and flipped them to get the back face. I allowed a bit in between for the banner pole - only about .15" IIRC which turned out a bit skimpy. 

As I had room I made four copies and used the picture tools to make some various grey-scaled versions. This b/c I currently only have a B&W printer and didn't want the prints coming out too black. I thought the blue would be pitch black but as it turned out it is potentially viable as well. 

The plan is to attempt to "paint within the lines" in the manner of Pete's Flags - sample attached. (Jasper Tudor)

Pete's Flags - Superb!

Currently waiting for the glue to dry. Used a cheap craft white glue from Michaels. The reason for the rectangle is to allow one to line up the two halves. The final flag will be trimmed to the swallow tail outlined by the triangle. 

I used an Xacto knife handle to get the fluttering effect in the flag.

Still have to decide what shade of blue to use for the knights. I've been experimenting with Vallejo paint triads posted on Google drive by some guy:

(Apologies to the author of those files, but I can't remember his name.)