Another view of Kilwin


by: Dag Olausson, Jonas Schiött and Sten Åhrman.

This city of over 7000 souls lies on the banks of the Allspring and Doskior rivers, at the point where they meet. The surrounding land mostly consists of hills and cultivated valleys, with a sprinkling of open forest. A number of smaller villages lie near Kilwin, along the river. The aforementioned population figure is humans only -- there are also large numbers of newtlings in residence, but they don't really understand the concept of a census. These are all bachelor newtlings, the location of their nesting grounds is a well kept secret.

Kilwin lacks any form of city planning; there are for instance no streets, just a jumble of houses built on spots which seemed convenient at the time. At the outskirts it's hard tell the difference between city and countryside. The central city, around the confluence, consists largely of temples and stately buildings owned by the wealthier citizens. One bridge crosses each river: they rest on pontoons and are easily parted for river traffic that needs to pass. The north (Doskior) bridge is the widest, allowing four wagons to cross at a time. Both bridges are managed and maintained by the newtlings.

A City Council is responsible for governing Kilwin. Each cult is represented on the council in proportion to the size of its congregation (minor temple = 1 seat, major = 2, great = 3). Doskior and the newtlings each have an extra seat, in recognition of their importance to the city. Presiding over the council is a representative of the Delela tribe, who has a casting vote. The Iron Hird, Aruzban's standing army, is stationed in Kilwin and is normally at the council's disposal as a garrison and peace-keeping force. It is composed of approximately 200 human fighters, divided into four squadrons which are further subdivided into 5-man patrols. Answering directly to the council is the river watch, which numbers close to 50 newtlings, and has a much more fluid organization (some human observers would call it "haphazard").

The most common occupations in Kilwin are of religious or mercantile nature. Orlanth's temple is the greatest in the entire East Wilds, with over sixty priests and nearly twice as many acolytes. Chalana Arroy, Doskior, Humakt and Lhankor Mhy have major temples in the city. Some kilometres north of Kilwin there is an extensive complex of temples to various Earth goddesses, Ernalda naturally being pre-eminent. Inside the city there are also several minor temples, including Donandar, Issaries and the Green River Shell (a holy ground exclusively for newtlings).

The city's number one export is leather goods. Saddles from Kilwin are highly sought after in Safelster, a suit of leather armour can bring up to five times the normal price, and a finely tooled leather bag as much as 100 silvers. Next to leather crafts, the largest industry in town is pottery. Clay is taken from the bottom of the Allspring; thanks to the newtlings only the very best raw materials are brought up, thus making exceptional ceramics possible. There is also a special kind of cloth made in Kilwin, woven from seaweed. It is highly resistant to water and is often used for tarpaulins and wagon covers.


The first settlement at the meeting of the rivers was one of newtlings. It has considerable religious significance for them, and being an easily recognizable landmark was a natural place to meet and trade with humans. There came a time when these humans began to look and act differently. This didn't concern the newtlings until it became apparent that the Enerali, as the humans now called themselves, had ceased their nomadic existence, started building fixed abodes, and had their sights set on Tworiver (as it was then known). The Hero of the newtlings, Kilwin Stoneheart, displayed his mastery of the rivers' waters and declared that none might stay at Tworiver except by his leave. Human-newtling relations were strained for some time, until Dorg Walks-on-Water arrived. He undertook several tests and quests to prove his affinity with the rivers and his friendship with the newtlings. Eventually, a pact was forged. One of its results was the building, in 333, of Sweetweed Castle (named after a type of seaweed discovered by Kilwin and Dorg on the Hero Plane, and brought back to help cement their alliance). The exact conditions of the pact are now forgotten, but strange things tend to happen whenever either of the races in Kilwin tries to infringe on the others' territory.

The city has steadily expanded outwards from this core. Its apparent randomness is said to correspond on some deeper level to the energy patterns of land and water. Whenever a building is damaged or destroyed, this is taken as an omen of the builder's insensitivity: he's not "in touch with the Pact".

Kilwin has never been conquered. For that matter, it's never been defended: it's simply not a fortified city. The inhabitants speak proudly of their spiritual purity keeping aggressors at bay. Sceptical commentators note that the only army to come within striking distance was Arkat's, and he passed Kilwin by because it was neither a military target nor in any other way essential to his goal of breaking through to Dorastor. Besides, Kilwin was occupied by the Dark Empire for nearly 300 years. Of course, they didn't 'conquer' -- they just walked in while the inhabitants were still reeling from Nysalor's death. This is a fact few modern-day Kilwiners know or would care to learn.

The Empire disturbed as little as possible of daily life and existing structures: after the inhabitants had carefully erased all traces of the hated Arkat temple, they could pretend nothing had ever happened. Since then, life in Kilwin has been business as usual. As a result, the average Kilwiner's political attitude is either complacent or cocksure. Or both.

Places to go, things to see

The Orlanth Temple: A sprawling collection of buildings, from many different periods and styles, with additions (and occasional subtractions) continuously made over the centuries. One reason for this profusion is that each sub- and associated cult shrine is housed in its own building. Another is that all of the Storm Voices and Wind Lords have quarters on the grounds (even if they don't spend much time there). Finally, facilities for skill training and spell teaching take up a lot of space.

The Temple of Knowledge: This is not very similar to Lhankor Mhy temples elsewhere in Glorantha. First of all, there is no library on the premises, the closest thing to one is a collection of wooden tablets on which copies of the runes on standing stones have been carved. Also, no scribes with hunched backs and ink-stained fingers are to be seen and there is not a woman or false beard in the place. All the sages are distinguished-looking men with flowing beards, wearing flowing robes, pacing the pillared main hall or sitting in the atrium garden while discoursing with other sages or lecturing students.

The Green River Shell Temple: A dome of some strange green stone, sitting on the river's bottom. No human has ever seen the interior. Here the newtlings worship their deities, probably including Doskior and Pastoma.

The Temple of the Sword: Humakt's presence in Kilwin 'only' dates back 300 years -- the cult was re-introduced by Retter as part of his efforts to bolster Delelan military efficiency. This temple is noted for its active recruitment efforts: Humakti are still a minority group in the Wilds. Haston and the other Swords work hard at public relations, trying to play down the gloomier sides of worshipping Death.

The Shrine to Eurmal the Comedian: Located next door to the Donandar temple. These two cults are on the best of terms in Kilwin, and membership in both is not unusual. The spell taught at this shrine is Group Laughter. There is also an associate shrine as part of the Orlanth complex, which provides Charisma.

Sweetweed Castle: A sturdy edifice that has been here as long as the city itself. Its walls have a 'melted' look to them and a mottled blue-green-black colouring; they are made from a magical variety of seaweed, closely packed and cemented together. Minor additions (wood sheds, partitioning walls) are sometimes made, but the basic layout has remained the same for nearly 1300 years. This is a necessary requirement for the enchantments on the grounds (originally placed by Kilwin Stoneheart) to remain effective -- among other effects, the weed walls have the strength of bronze (at least).

The Yodeling Vampire: The sign depicts a caricatured vampire with a stake through its heart, apparently howling in pain. This inn is run by Nydag, a former adventurer/trader from Saug, and has a high percentage of adventurers and other 'tough' characters among its clientele. Nydag is an easy-going person unless someone cheats or deceives him: he then transforms into a ruthless schemer, and can harbour a grudge for any length of time. The entertainment here is usually rather loud and/or dramatic: bards singing of adventure, war and suchlike, death-defying acrobats and jugglers etc.

The Majestic Moose: An inn catering mostly to merchants and traders, though it has a policy of never turning away any customer, no matter how bizarre he/she/it is. The proprietor, Kaljan, takes great pride in the quality of his kitchen, and his inn provides the most subdued entertainment to be found in Kilwin (the Gloranthan equivalent of muzak). Kaljan's mannerisms often seem effete and lacking in barbarian virtues to the locals -- they tend to avoid his place unless they're gourmets or have business to transact with some foreigner staying there.

The Centipede: City and temple officials of low- to middle rank favour this tavern. Its main distinguishing feature is the large number of semi-private booths around the walls of the common room. Bards performing traditional orlanthi songs are the favoured diversion.

Famous People

Aruzban Ironarm: Leader of the Delela tribe, a mighty warrior and King of Delela in times of crisis (as he is trying to convince people that the current day is). Resides with his family in the old palace Sweetweed Castle. He doesn't interfere with city affairs as long as things are running smoothly, for which the council is immensely grateful -- Aruzban may understand power politics, but hardly any other kind. His younger brother Varistor is involved with strangers from Safelster that want to establish Arkat worship in Kilwin. They're not making much headway. At the moment, they're stumped by the task of divining where the old Arkat temple was located -- all knowledge of this has been meticulously obliterated.

Thulaxavan: Orlanth's high priest in Kilwin is over a hundred years old and has led the temple for more than fifty of them. He's been close to death several times, but always recovered. When he does go to his reward, the choice of successor will be between Espelin Loudmouth, Jagalen the Moulder and Sionda Manymen. Espelin is the likeliest candidate, since he has most of the priests on his side. Sionda is the Wind Lords' choice, while Jagalen is very popular among the initiates.

Domat the Many-voiced: A Sage who travelled widely in his youth and has a natural aptitude for languages; he is reputed to speak every tongue in Ralios, and many others besides. But he is even more known for his ability to mimic accents and even individual voices perfectly.

Nusmin Vambar: A merchant of great fame. His grandparents moved here from Kustria fifty years ago and quickly established themselves as trader princes of Kilwin. Both succeeding generations have expanded the business, until Nusmin now controls the greater part of the leather trade. His place in the Issaries temple hierarchy is immediately subservient to high priestess Tylda Fiveclacks, but he is probably her equal in terms of influence. He refuses to comment on the recurring rumours that he's related to Mayagon Blackfoot.

Frykelmod: The commander of the Iron Hird is a large, powerful man, well known for his sixth sense when it comes to anticipating opponents' moves, whether in battle or individual combat. He is Aruzban Ironarm's cousin and a close friend of Haston Swordscratcher.

Jalunia: Captain of the 3rd hird squadron. Originally an adventuress from Heortland, she settled down in Kilwin two years ago and has had an extremely successful career in the military. Her subordinates will tell you that she's boring, her superiors that she's very competent. Both assessments are correct. Jalunia is a reserved, ascetic person who has few friends. The people she knows best, her old adventuring companions, are mostly a source of embarrassment to her. She lives in an apartment above the Centipede.

Haston Swordscratcher: Short and slightly built, but far from being a weakling. As high priest of Humakt, he is sometimes forced to prove his strength and skill to unbelievers. He is also noted for his amazing ugliness, a trait he shares with his wife Sastria. The couple is very popular in Kilwin for organizing and funding a number of charities. Haston has not yet voiced an opinion on Varistor's plans for introducing the Arkat cult.

Mayagon Blackfoot: A notorious thief, smuggler and all-round bad guy, whom witnesses find inexplicably hard to describe. His base of operations is apparently in Kilwin, though he has been known to organize gangs of bandits for highway (or river) robbery.

Grolbin: Spiritual leader of the newtlings, high priest of the Green River Shell. Most newtlings feel that his word is law; fortunately he is a peace-loving individual. Every waterday / fertility week / sea season he distributes three small freshwater shells to different citizens. Nobody knows what this is supposed to be good for, and Grolbin refuses to talk about it.

Ishlak: The newtling war chief and commander of the river watch. Unlike Grolbin, he is rather violent and has been personally involved in several incidents leading to bloodshed. According to rumour, some of his units deliberately provoke trouble.

My view of Kilwin is somewhat different -- it's a little less urban in feel, but still a city which grew randomly because of its location at an important trade junction. The Voshfrei clan has controlled it for generations, in part because of the open nature of the city (all clans are welcome).
Send me e-mail

Last updated 3 Jun 95 drd

Info Plaza David Dunham Page East Ralios