In the history of Rilmorn, two Players, John Hesselberg and Robert Hegwood, have made use of bull imagery when designing countries within the game world. John did it within the game as the PC Alkin du Fey Duncan; while Robert created Xshathapat externally as a designer. While they each came to the art of creation from different directions, John and Robert both gave me ideas, events, and images that I intend to use in my Pellham campaign.
The first use of the bull imagery in Rilmorn came when John’s half-elven ranger, Alkin du Fey, attempted to free an area from an oppressive bandit overlord. After a bit of deft diplonacy, Alkin and his friend and fellow adventurer Gareth Eybender convinced the overlord to a contest. The contest would be a fight between two bulls. The winner of the contest would take leadership of the populace and the loser would depart. The local populace would attend the contest and assure that both parties abided by the outcome. There was supposed to be no magic involved, but of course the bandit overlord had his bull’s horns enchanted to be sharper and deadlier than normal bull’s horns. Alkin, on the hand took a nursing male calf and had a blacksmith craft a harness with large spikes at the shoulders. The day before the contest Alkin and Gareth kept the calf from its mother; so when the calf was released into the arena with the bandit overlord’s enchanted bull, it rushed toward the first cow it saw and attempted nurse. Even though the populace acclaimed Alkin their ruler, Gareth and Alkin were still forced to fight and slay the bandit overlord. After that was done, Alkin declared the red bull as the symbol of the Alki; a symbol that would remain when years later the ruler of Alkis would marry an heir to the Duchy of Dyskor and form the Kingdom of Alko-Dyskoria. The
The next time I encountered bull imagery in Rilmorn was when Robert Hegwood handed me a red folder; handwritten on the cover were these words: “A NOT BRIEF ENOUGH OVERVIEW OF XSHATHRAPAT, THE ISLAND Empire of The WEST.” Robert had designed an entire culture based around some background history and mythology that I had created for Rilmorn and Persian Zoroastrianism with a touch of medieval Christian missionary zeal. Among those pages I found coin emblazoned with a bull’s head and the note, “The bull is the symbol of “Godly Rule and Might.” Later I found the flag for the Xshathrapatian Navy, which bore a winged Bull.
Robert also created a timeline for the combined efforts of Alko-Dyskoria and Xshathrapat to colonize an unnamed continent to the West. I never really dealt with any of that information until I started working on Iolta and Thrain. Using Robert’s work, I filled in a lot of geography and history about Iolta and created the legends of the Tribes of the Winged Bull and the Red Bull. Also, there are “Bulls,” gold coins bearing the image of a bull, hidden among lost treasure hoards.
The point of all of this is that letting your players create can help a GM to build other things. I don’t recall planning on letting Alkin become a ruler, but I am glad he did. Having Alkis as Alkin’s home base gave me plenty of hooks for games. Alkin and Gareth had to defeat evils threatened the populace. Some games required Alkin to be a diplomat; while others made him an archaeologist in his own kingdom. Robert’s work offered broad stroke history from which I could mine. Xshatrapat became a story to be told around tavern hearths. Legends of its rise and collapse added to relics and artifacts found in dragons’ hoards and ancestral tombs. Later all of this would be used as underpinning for Iolta and Thrain.