null Sprites

Selkana's Saga #11 - Mad, bad, and dangerous to Know

Posted by Michael O'Brien on 13th Feb 2019

Selkana’s Saga is a Chaosium blog series by Ellie and Scott Akers, following a long-format roleplaying campaign using the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha system.

In the last instalment, the players improvised about Selkana and her friends exploring the city of Boldhome and seeking to meet the enigmatic Argrath...

Argrath Prince of Sartar by Kalin Kadiev

We have mentioned Argrath a lot in the blog but never really discussed who Argrath is to the setting. Argrath has been part of Glorantha from the very beginning. Despite forty-five years of history and being the titular subject of an entire book, very little is stated about who Argrath is as a person. 

We do have a few things we can be pretty sure of though. Argrath is illuminated, that means he is no longer bound by the constraints of mortal thought and can see the grander picture of the universe. He is enlightened or, perhaps in other words, insane. Argrath will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal of ripping the Red Goddess from the sky. He is a destroyer and reigns with the might of his army and his terrifying allies. Worst of all Argrath is a trickster, able to meld others to his aims.

Among fans of Glorantha, Argrath has a well-deserved split reputation. He is decidedly morally gray and intentionally ambiguous. It is up to the Gamemaster to ultimately decide if he is the epic hero desperately trying to save the world or the horrific villain who will end it all. For our game, we decided Argrath’s morality was going to stay a mystery.

Selkana had a lucky break finding that temple. It allowed her to approach Argrath from a strong social position. Selkana might be god-touched but she is hardly a hero of the ages, at least not yet. We felt that while Argrath would be amused at Selkana’s audacity, he would take the opportunity to remind her of her place.

What follows is an accounting of Selkana’s first encounter with the Prince and her and our first glimpse of Argrath’s true nature.

The messenger had told them to arrive before noon. Prince Argrath had personally requested Selkana’s presence. Selkana had gotten her wish: the Prince had asked her to see him, and not the other way around. Her plans for grand entrances were, however, smashed when a servant intercepted them at the palace entrance. The annoying man was insistent that they slide quietly into the back of the hall, that the Prince would be informed that they were here and that they would be called when he was ready to see them. That had been hours ago. Argrath had given them a long appraising glance while the page whispered things in his ear. Aside from that, the prince had ignored them completely. It was an obvious statement and a reminder to Selkana that he ruled in Boldhome. The sun was getting low in the sky by the time the next-to-last audience had been heard. Only then did he wave Selkana forward. She had been calm all that time waiting. After all, this was nothing more than the sort of games the Esrolian grandmothers played. Irritated but unflustered, Selkana sauntered her way up to the dais with all her normal pomp and arrogance. She was a Hulta, descendant of queens, and was hardly going to let some farmer with ambition rattle her. She offered the greetings of her house and blessings of the goddess, listed her heritage, and asked that the Prince take her and her companions into his household so that they might serve him. Argrath listened to her spiel in respectful silence. Her arguments had been sound and her offer enticing, surely he could not refuse. But then he spoke and all the feelings of cleverness drained from her head.

Meeting Argrath by Andrey Fetisov“Who are you really?”

His voice was slow and commanding. It rolled over her booming and vast. It was the voice of Orlanth. Every other sound and movement in the hall ceased. The world around them melted away into dark clouds and there was only Selkana and Argrath. His vivid orange eyes bored into hers and took her measure. Her breath froze in her lungs and she could make no answer. That was when she knew he was no longer just a man. He was something else, something fearsome and even dreadful. As soon as the thought had entered her brain, he smiled snidely at her and all of reality snapped back into place. Selkana was left reeling and confused, but Argrath was chipper, and making light with his companions and setting his attendants scurrying to make accommodations ready for Selkana and her party.

Safely ushered to the side, a dumbstruck Selkana listened to Meplep jabber on about how well that had gone. Laak was eager to be put to work hunting and scouting, and even somber Kitha was looking forward to the change in circumstance. Only Selkana had heard him ask that question, and she went to bed that night deeply disquieted, for the first time second guessing why she was here. 


Art Credits:
Top: 'Argrath Prince of Sartar' by Kalin Kadiev
Bottom: 'Meeting Argrath' by Andrey Fetisov