Morganeth Runestar

The leader of the Yelornans in Pavis, from around 1610 onwards.


Morganeth is described only in the Big Rubble boxed set, now long out of print. I got hold of a copy back in 1997, and discovered that not only is Morganeth an interesting character in her own right, but that her story may have links with that of the Vingan temple in Pavis and with Kallyr.

There are three main sections in the Rubble box that are of interest:

There is also a picture in the "High Council" scenario in Wyrms Footprints that, while out of place, seem to me to resemble Morganeth more than it does anyone actually mentioned in the text. She has a star tattooed on her forehead, and is carrying a spear.


Rubble Episodes, p 40:
Morganeth Rune Star
High Priestess and Star Maiden of Yelorna, her father was of an old noble family of Pavis now living in Swenstown. Morganeth drifted away and joined a mercenary company. She became an active member of the cult of Yelorna and gained a desire to reestablish the cult in Pavis. She soon became a Star Maiden and returned to Pavis to begin her great project. Her heart-broken father had died. All that remained of the family fortune was the large old original family home in the Zebra Fort area of the Rubble, which Morgeneth promptly turned into a temple. There followed a long period in which she persuaded some Yelornans of the unicorn tribe to join her following, and she became the first high priestess of the new temple in Pavis.
So her father is now dead. It must, therefore, be the old noble family who are now living in Swenstown, not the father (that first sentence is rather ambigious!). Morganeth's RQ2 stats are also given (and are too extensive to quote in full). She has gained three geases from previous heroquesting: challenge all Zorak Zoran and Lunar worshippers on sight, never wear metal armour on legs, and remain celibate. She rides a unicorn.

Dates and ages

Sadly Morganeth's age is not given, although we can perhaps deduce a little from her earlier activities and contacts.

Assuming that "now" is 1616, we can start with the reference to "her father's day". This could mean the time at which her father died as being forty years ago. Alternatively, it could mean the time at which her father was in his prime. The order of events seems to be:

  1. Morganeth leaves home to be a merc. (aged 15+)
  2. Her father dies (heartbroken - she'd been gone for some time).
  3. Morganeth returns, already Rune level, and turns the family mansion into a temple. I would guess that she must have been at least 25 by now.

So "her father's time" could be as much as forty years before her return (making her 65) or perhaps be when she was around ten (making her 50).

The other clue is her link with "old" Teram. He could have been a promising apprentice in his early twenties: smith apprentices have to leave much of their learning until they reach their full strength, so finish later than for many trades. "When she was young": she could have been under 10. So she could be 15 years younger than him.

I think I'd have to say she's no younger than 50, and could be as old as 65. Which seems far too old for the kind of activity she gets up to in the scenarios!

Can we make her any younger? She could, perhaps, have run off to join the Unicorn Maidens while still under 15. This explains why she isn't an Ernalda initiate (without having to use the inadequacies of RQ2 as an excuse), and why Yelorna was the cult she picked, when Vinga or Humakt would have been more obvious choices for a mercenary. Think of a small girl wanting a pony, and translate to unicorns. But, she returned to Pavis already a priestess. Perhaps we could push this back to the age of 20, but that's as far as I'd want to go. Say she left home at 10: again, I wouldn't push it any further. So, her father died when she was between 10 and 20, and "her father's day" was 40 years ago. At most, I think "her father's day" could be about the time she was born: more likely when she left. This makes her between 40 and 50.

If she's 40:

15760Born in Pavis.
158610Left to find a unicorn
159115Yelorna initiate
??Became Star Maiden
159620Returned to Pavis to find her father dead. Turned manor house into temple. Added some Unicorn Tribe to her existing followers
??Became High Priestess at temple
1610Lunar invasion: also figures for temple membership given
161640"Now". Preparing to acquire temple spirit.

Which leaves a few intriguing mysteries. Before returning to Pavis she became a Yelorna initate, and eventually Star Maiden. Where? Pavis had no temple. Admittedly, despite the rules, it is clear that initiation does not necessarily require a fixed temple (at least in Prax!). But she must have spent her time somewhere: where?

A look at her languages gives us some strong clues. She speaks Pavic, Trade, Praxian, Aldryami and Sartarite, in that order. Her Pavic will have improved during the time she has spent in the city recently, so perhaps this should be discounted. Since her Aldryami is better than her Sartarite, and elves do not normally teach humans their tongue, I think we can assume she has spent considerable time in elven company. I wondered for a time whether she had had any connection with the Sun Dome in Prax, which is said to have a Yelorna shrine. However, she does not speak Firespeech, and I would have thought at least some would have been needed.

Her very strong Trade suggests some time spent where her other languages were of no use to her, or where Trade is itself the commonest tongue. Adari has been suggested, and given the elven presence there, makes sense.

The tentative conclusion I have come to is that she started with the Unicorn Tribe, and was initiated while with them. She then left them and worked as a mercenary in various places, mainly Prax but also Sartar (visiting her family in Swenstown, since links with people there exist) and Adari. I don't yet know when she became a priestess. She acquired followers who were Yelornan but not Unicorn tribe, and came back to Pavis. Once there, she renewed her links with the Unicorn Tribe and founded her temple.


We know that Morganeth has three geases from past Heroquests: challenge all Zorak Zoran and Lunar worshippers on sight, never wear metal armour on legs, and remain celibate.

The "remain celibate" one is interesting. As a Star Maiden she has this requirement in any case, so she must have acquired the geas (and done the HQ) before becoming a Star Maiden, while she was still an initiate. It also implies that she wasn't a Unicorn Rider, as again the requirement would already exist.

"Never wear metal armour on legs" is one of the standard Yelmalian geases.

"Challenge all ZZs on sight" would be extreme even for Yelmalians, though seems possible as a Yelorna HQ. In the Daytime Woods, presumably, since we are told that that is where Yelorna confronted Zorak Zoran.

And "challenge all Lunars on sight" is unheard of! Even the most fanatical members of the Sartarite resistance don't go that far! If I'm right about her link with Kallyr (later) this would certainly give them something in common. The main point of conflict with the Lunars is over the use of silver.

In each case, I wonder what she was heroquesting for? Gifts to go with the geases aren't mentioned. Perhaps she failed in some cases? Or maybe some of her very high stats are gifts from heroquesting? None are super-human, but the lowest is 15. The Healing Horn could easily be the result of a Heroquest, too. Against Argan Argar, I would expect, given the myth attached to it.

Finally there is the question of how she learnt all that divine magic. Shrines generally provide only one spell. She has a huge number of spells: some may have been learnt at this temple, now that it is a full temple (though with less than 100 initiates, I wonder about that). But previously, even if she visited every shrine around, she could not have gained anywhere near that number of spells. Checking the cult write-up, Yelorna has access to "all 1-point spells except for Warding, as well as Dismiss Elemental II, Multi-spell II, and Vision. They may summon small salamanders for their elementals. They also receive the following rune spells:" the three specials, Shooting Star, Silver Track, and Star Wards.
Morgeneth has:

Now, these are RQ2 stats, and would need some modification for RQ3. Divine Intervention is no longer a spell, for instance. But Worship Yelorna is, and Morgeneth must have it. There are 13 different spells there that she must have got from a Yelorna temple or shrine: or by Heroquest.

The HQ she's considering in the 1616 scenario is to recover the First Labrys spirit as a temple spirit. This was attempted in the First Age, and notes on the attempt were left in the Yelm temple in Pavis (old Pavis, that is!). This one will take her to Skygate.

The Sartar link

How much contact has Morganeth had with her family in Sartar? She speaks reasonable (though not fluent) Sartarite, and has the son of a tribal king as her guest in Pavis, so there must have been some contact. Which tribe is it, I wonder? One of the Swenstown Ring, presumably. And "one of the more powerful tribes". The Swenstown tribes are the Dundealos (destroyed by the Lunars later), the Aranwyth, the Balkoth and the Kheldon. Now, if the tribe in question is the Kheldon (big "if"!), things get even more interesting. According to the history I worked out while studying Kallyr, the last three kings of the Kheldon have all been from the same family. Morgeneth would know Kallyr quite well: young Treungille Arannia would know her even better.

Can we postulate any futher links with Kallyr? In Kallyr's own history, we need to establish a link with Pole Star, and Yelornan friends would certainly help. I have Kallyr coming to Pavis in 1597 as a young Vingan initiate, and staying until 1602, by which time she has made Rune level and started her own heroquesting. This is the period when Morganeth was back in Pavis, and recruiting for her new temple. She might well have attempted to recruit Kallyr as one of her followers, especially if she knew her from Swenstown. Could Kallyr have been involved in one of Morganeth's HQs in this period? That "challenge all Lunars on sight" geas would give them something in common, though we don't know when that was acquired.

The temple and membership

The cult write-up is of interest in its own right, but tells us only this about the Pavis temple:

In 1610, the Yelorna temple in Pavis had about 100 members: a high priestess, a Star Maiden commanding the Shield Maidens; two Star Ladies (commanding respectively the Unicorn Riders and the Wanderers), about six Shield Maidens, 15 Unicorn Riders (mostly from the Unicorn Tribe), 25 Wanderers, and 50 lay members.
One immediate question is why the date of 1610 is mentioned, when the rest of the pack is set in 1616. I can think of two possible reasons, which are not mutually exclusive: The scenario for the temple is set in 1616, and by now the Wanderer commander position is vacant. Other figures are not given, but seem similar to those given above.

An interesting point is the effect that the arrival of the Lunars would have had on the temple. We know that the Lunars disapprove of the Yelornans: they disagree over the religious significance of silver, and the Lunars prefer the "more reliable" Yelmalians as allies. However, I think we can agree that the Lunars dislike the Orlanthi considerably more than they dislike the Yelornans. We are told that many male Orlanthi turned to worship of Barntar when the Lunars arrived: the more warlike ones seem to have preferred Humakt or Storm Bull, explaining why these cults are so popular. What about the female "Orlanthi" warriors? Most would have been Vingans, and would presumably have had the same problems with the Lunars are those faced by their male counterparts. Could they perhaps have turned in part to Yelorna? This would have given Morganeth a boost in numbers that may have been the edge she needed to make herself High Priestess of a full temple. Most Vingans would have become Wanderer initiates: they aren't noted for their virginity! I would imagine that the events of 1613 would make Vingans even less popular: some of the Pavis Vingans may even have gone to Sartar to join in the fun. Is it coincidence that between 1610 and 1616 the position of commander of the Wanderers became vacant?

I would guess (but am not sure), that many Yelornan Wanderers post-1610 are actually ex-Vingans. I would also guess that the Yelornan temple may soon contain a shrine to Vinga, if it does not already.

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