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.
Ellie: It is the beginning of Earth Season 1627. Sartar and its capital of Boldhome are under immense strain. It has suffered two decades of Lunar occupation, a victorious rebellion, and the meteoric rise and fall of its championed leader. After a year without a prince, Argrath Whitebull – a man whose best claim to the throne is his terrifying foreign army – has named himself Prince of Sartar. Boldhome is filled to the brim. There are refugees fleeing war and famine, craftsmen rebuilding the beleaguered city, and idle soldiers spilling out onto the streets. Sartar tribal leaders jockey for political position and favor with the new Prince. Though Selkana is one of the earliest foreign emissaries to arrive in the city, she will have to fight (and dance) her way through the rest to gain the new prince’s attention.
Scott: Boldhome is a hot mess and a great place to take a game. A city in flux is a source of endless story hooks. There are local feuds to get embroiled in, drunken soldiers to cause trouble, strange magic afoot, giant Llamas in the streets, and on and on. Moreover, Argrath, as a newly minted ruler and an overall ambitious weirdo, is a natural patron for a party and a perfect reason to base your PCs out of the city.
Tucked into a highly defensive position in the Quiven Mountains, Boldhome sprawls over two intersecting valleys. It is a world of brilliant white-plastered buildings tucked artfully into the mountainside. In one arm, the masses huddle together in dense tenemants. The other valley is full of tribal estates, the homes of fat wealthy merchants, and sprawling temples that tie the rhythms of everyday life to the gods. At the intersection of the two valleys is the towering palace complex built long ago by dwarven magic.
Ellie: Sartar is an ancient world culture and we see the best and worst of that here in Boldhome. Animals are butchered right in the market and meat is hung in the open air. Filth is simply tossed in the streets. Boldhome may be a capital city but it is still a wild place in many ways. Strange people mix here sharing their passions and their magic. People drink, imbibe narcotic and euphoric substances, gamble, and carouse wantonly in the open without shame.
Scott: There’s a lot going on in Boldhome, and we thrust Selkana’s party right into the middle of it. In our case, we decided that we wanted to focus on the political scene surrounding Argrath. We figured that as a brand new King, his court was still forming. Selkana was perfectly poised to insert herself into the newly developing power structures, and we played the game with that goal in mind.
Ellie: Selkana’s Saga is, ultimately, a story about a woman’s heroic journey from young naive girl to powerful leader. Selkana doesn't truly understand why she is here and the position she is putting herself in. The Goddess sent her a vision and her House Grandmother told her to go, so she went. Two decades of being raised by the cunning snakes of Nochet has given Selkana all the lessons she needs to navigate the relatively simplistic plots these “northern cowherders” but she is still ultimately inexperienced and untested.
Cleopatra conquered Egypt by first conquering Julius Caesar and then Marc Antony. In much the same way Selkana is here to conquer Sartar. Not with armies, but with soft power. She must take it the same way ambitious women in history have so often secured power for themselves. With wit, charm, and sexuality as her weapons
Scott: Boldhome is, in effect, a quest hub. You can set entire campaigns around resolving its problems or use it as a base for larger stories. We chose the latter. We chose to use Boldhome as a springboard for Selkana’s ambitions. Boldhome was where Argrath was, and we approached the city with the idea that it would largely function as the backdrop for the relationship between Selkana and Argrath.
Ellie: So many people with conflicting personalities and motives are currently in the city. All are scrambling to cement their influence. That gives ample opportunities to rapidly form and break alliances that have region-wide implications. Selkana will find few friends here and will have to learn to be as bloodthirsty as the rest if she wishes to survive her time among Argrath’s circle.
Though she may not realize it yet there is no one she should fear more than the Prince himself. Argrath is an illuminated half-trickster who can see into your soul and will dispose of you without a thought if he finds you wanting.
Scott: Boldhome is a key setting in our campaign and I hope that we helped to paint a clear picture of just how wild and dangerous a city this is. In part two of this blog post, we'll cover the party’s first night in the city as they begin their climb from nobodies to guests of the prince.Featured Art:
- Detail of Boldhome Palace and the Flame of Sartar from Map of Boldhome by Olivier Sanfilipo
- Argrath Prince of Sartar by Roman Kisyov