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The Carmanians don't have the traditional four Western castes, only three of them. All the Farmers of Carmania are descended from the original natives (be they Pelandan, Oroninian, Harangvat, or whatever), and very few of the original Carmanian settlers would ever have sunk to such a lowly position. So these guys are cut off from Carmanian society in a very fundamental way. That's perhaps over 90% of the population, the "indentured serfs" of the Genertela Book's description. Their position is improving a little under the Lunar Way, but this isn't part of the Heartland - and perhaps the subordinated position of the peasants is one of the reasons the Carmanians remain Citizen Foreigners.

The Hazars, Viziers and Karmanoi can usually trace descent from Carmanians since way back when - or from people admitted to the "ruling class" a while later. These include a fair number of Dara Happan descendents, and also a large contingent from the Barbarian Belt regions south of Carmania proper. (Both factions ran the Empire at one time or another, the barbarians most recently before the Lunar conquest).

Instead of having individuals born to a role, or competing to rise through the castes, they are "picked" for the caste they were deemed most suitable for. Remember we're dealing with quite a small circle of offices here. The question is one of whom to exclude, rather than whom to promote. Magi approve potential priests; Lords appoint their officers. [1]


The most common Carmanian caste: priests and scholars are (as ever) a very small percentage of the populace, while ruling lords probably only ever number a few dozen. But anyone Carmanian is born into the military class of hazars. Many of these are now the urban middle classes, the Carmanian gentry. Others still have military or governmental roles within the West Reaches (as agents for the native Counts or the Lunar Governor).

In the old Carmanian Army, the infantry were Pelorian Janissaries (cf. the Ottoman Empire: children taken as tribute from all parts of the Empire). The striking power of the Army was concentrated in a heavy-armoured cataphract cavalry corps of Carmanian nobles - the dreaded Hazar-Knights. The most prestigious of these were the Lion Guard of Bashkars (something like Basmoli-cum-Humakti, though their origin story would take too long to give here). Their successors were the Bull Guard; they were all wiped out by the Lunars.

Carmanian warfare was similar to that of the Macedonians (based on that of their founder, Syranthir): they first let the heavy foot troops get locked into a rigid battle-line, and then the Shah and his Guard would lead a Hazar charge against whichever point of the enemy line was picked as the most vulnerable. Death or glory: very dramatic, but it can get extremely messy when fighting against an unbroken Pelandan or Dara Happan pike formation...

In old Carmania there was no enfeoffment (the usual Western feudal pattern did not hold). Instead, retiring soldiers would receive lordship (for life) over a portion of land somewhere in the Empire, possibly on a new border or recently captured satrapy. (The Lunars have retained this tradition of veteran settlements). There they would raise sons, who on coming of age would journey to join the Shah's Army, and eventually retire in their own middle age to a patch of their own.

Now, of course, most of the nobles rely on inherited wealth; and as this dries up, the family heirlooms get sold off (as poor investments, cf. Genertela Book p.32). Some lease the tenancy rights on their old plots to former serfs, who are becoming a class of rich peasant sub-letters; they then use the proceeds to keep them in comfort in their town- or country houses, which is how they retain their wealth and income as the "landless" nobility of an agrarian society.

Viziers and Magi

The learned class of Carmania are the Viziers, masters of all branches of learning. They are the scholars, loremasters, sorcerers, teachers, judges, astrologers and scribes of Carmania. Viziers are picked or volunteered from pious Carmanian families.

Most Carmanians worship gods in the normal manner; the cults followed vary over time. Only a few Magi commune directly with the Invisible God: though everyone respects him as greatest of the Gods, most aren't pure enough to approach him. Their task is to determine whether it is still appropriate to give worship to the other gods in the Carmanian Church. It's that old Truth v. Deception thing again: the Carmanians are scared shitless that they will be tricked into worshipping a False God (as happened with Gbaji or the God Learners). They think everything is changeable apart from God the Creator: you have to keep checking up with the boss-fellow.

The Hierophant is the guy who talks to God to find out if what's happening is OK by him. (He can trace a direct succession from the last pre-God Learner Ecclesiarch of Loskalm, by the way). Of course, Aronius Jaranthir managed to convince the Hierophant to ask if the Red Goddess etc. fitted in, and he came back saying they were just fine. Was he Illuminated? How would I know?

The Magi have a supervisory role over the priests of other gods in Carmania. They keep tabs on what's happening in the cities and towns and temples, investigating and regulating as appropriate. Senior Magi (and the Hierophant of Carmania) supervise their junior colleagues. Status as a Magus is probably hereditary or astrologically determined, with strings attached.

Carmanian Religion

Carmanians used to worship True gods of both Light and Darkness (sometimes swaying heavily one way or the other), with several oddities thrown in (the pseudo-Mithraic cults of Basmol and Bisos; local gods of Syanor and Pelanda; the divine Carmanos, the First Shah, and his even more mysterious mother Charmain). There are a peculiar set of Carmanian Lightbringers, too.

By the late Third Age, these cults are being subsumed by the Lunar Way: Light and Dark are seen as embodied in the Red Goddess's balance and phases, while the Seven Mothers often replace the Carmanian Lightbringers. Most Carmanian Houses have kept their ancestral cults ticking over, however, adding a Lunar veneer to their ancient rites. The institution of the Magi at the pinnacle of the Church remains untouched, and they regulate the Lunar cults just as they would any others.

The Magi worship Idovanus the Wise Lord, who embodies Light and Truth (Idovanus is often confused with the Creator, and is crudely identified with Yelm in the Carmanian Lightbringers' myth). They venerate the Four Prophets (Malkion, Hrestol, Talor and Carmanos) as incarnations of a single figure, the Guide (the Carmanian Lightbringers' Myth identifies him with Flesh Man). [2]

The god of Darkness and Evil is Ganesatarus the Deceiver, embodiment of Lies and perhaps known as the Devil. He created many of the gods to mislead people into error; the Creator made others to help them in the world. Of course, it's hard to tell them apart unless the Guide can show you what's right: remember, the Devil is seen as the Deceiver, so "his" gods can look just like the proper ones. He can even corrupt the institutions of the Church, so any novelty may twist religion out of true.

The two great principles of the Universe are Light and Dark. Both are "pure" - they exist in a form uncontaminated by the Devil's deceit. Though there are also false Lights and Darks, they are not the same thing at all, and can be distinguished by the magi. The important thing is to maintain a balance between them - neither one, nor the other, nor a formless, greyish blend of the two, but a clear distinction between Light and Dark with the subject standing in the middle and knowing the difference. (Remember, the end of the Carmanian Lightbringers' Quest is the establishment of a world where it is Light half the time and Dark half the time - which the Carmanians regard as perfect).

Those Light & Dark Aspects would be linked concepts - a "chivalrous" Humakt v. a "terrorist" Zorak Zoran; goddesses of the fertile v. barren Earth; healers v. corpse tenders; etc. Not sure in RuneQuest terms whether you'd initiate into both aspects at once, or have to progress at a certain speed through both parts, or what. It's famously hard to write rules to cover sin and redemption, personal spiritual development, etc. Something Pendragon-like would probably be necessary. The important thing would be to stay on an even keel and keep all your options open, while always doing the right thing in a decisive and appropriate way. This is, of course, impossible!


The Carmanians consider heads of noble Houses and senior officers in the Church and Army to hold the status of Lords, along with anybody who held a position of importance in the Shah's household. Basically anyone who can be held personally responsible for their decisions (who can't just say, "I was only obeying orders") slips into this rank bracket.

The two main secular Carmanian lordly ranks I know about are the Satraps (equivalent to the Counts in the Genertela Book write-up: rulers of territories) and Sirdars ( a more specifically military title, perhaps equivalent to Barons, which also has territorial implications). There are, of course, several other titles relating to specific roles (which I haven't yet discovered). Could be some kind of Judges, as well as other officer ranks: Dune's Bashars would fit in well here, but I'm not sure I'll use that one...

Most Carmanian noble positions seem to be appointive at first, then hereditary in practice (until lines fall into disgrace or die out). Like anywhere in the world, really. As the Empire gets bigger, the outlying regions fossilise into hereditary practices as you'd expect.

The succession of Shahs usually passed straight down through primogeniture; failing that, descent from Carmanos plus marriage to a Pelandan priestess usually seem to have been necessary qualifications. But as the Carmanians quickly evolved multiple marriages for their Shahs (developing later into the harem intrigues and decadence of the High Empire), the second wasn't too much of a problem; the third Shah can be claimed as an ancestor by almost all modern Carmanians.

Under the High Padishanate (say, 12th century), there were Lords with titles like:

The Shah's Hand = generals;
The Shah's Foot = governors of conquered cities;
The Shah's Eye = spymasters and agents;

etc... You get the idea. But these are all long gone by the late Third Age, of course (though Moonson now has similarly-named officials in his court).

[1] "Ah, but these guys were from Loskalm, and were therefore Hrestoli Idealists with cross-caste mobility!" (you may cry). Well, the Hrestoli Idealism of Loskalm today is a modern innovation, developed during the isolation of the Syndics Ban. I'd suggest that something different existed in the Second Age, and was exported to Peloria by Syranthir's migration.

[2] This just came to me, so I don't yet know if it will last, but: "Malkion was the First Prophet: He came to us in the Darkness. Hrestol, the Second Prophet, came across the Ocean. Talor, the Third Prophet, brought us into the Light. And Carmanos, the Fourth Prophet, gave us this our Land." I'm a little leery of having the Carmanians be familiar with traditional/recognisable Western figures, but the (open ended!) elemental sequence is rather tasty. And I wouldn't have any trouble with making this a Secret of the Magi - except, of course, that there are far more useful things I could be writing.

Glorantha, HeroQuest, Hero Wars, and Issaries are trademarks of Issaries, Inc. The contents of this page are copyright by Nick Brooke , 2001; any material derived from Greg Stafford's world of Glorantha is also copyright by Greg Stafford. Glorantha is the creation of Greg Stafford, and is used with his permission.

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