Circle of Hands venture 3

On 5/22/2019 our COH group got to play our third venture. As indicated in Anthony’s original post about the game, our group is doing things a bit “wonky” & rotating GMs, with each of us running it twice & then passing the baton. The pool of circle knights, our version of the crescent lands, & the timeline remain the same. 

I was “lucky” enough to roll three components for my first venture, which gave me pause at first, but was very instructive and gave me the opportunity to really take prep out for a spin. We share a lot of our thoughts about our experience playing & learning the game. (This is kind of our thing). I’m pretty pumped to roll the dice for the next venture prep. 

The playlist is extensive: actual play, three reflections, Ron’s reflections on those, the preparation, and several presentations or dialogues. If you’ve never heard the “pigs” GNS speech, Ron delivers it during the “Venture prep conversation” sequence.

Comments are welcome. 

8 responses to “Circle of Hands venture 3”

  1. The gradually expanding playlist

    Ventures 1 – 2 were run by GM 1, characters by GM 2 and 3

    The original post and its train of comments has a lot of links peppered through it, and covers the first two ventures and the conversation which came out of them.

    GM 1 is Anthony (Runeslinger), GM 2 is Ivan (ivanmike1968), and GM 3 is Eloy (umbramancer)


    Ventures 3-4 are set to be run by GM 2, with characters by GM 1 and GM 3

    This is the section of the project we have reached at the time of typing. 


    Venture 4-5 are set to be run by GM 3, with characters by GM 1 and GM 2

    Once these two ventures have been run, we will discuss leaping into another round, or moving on to a different project. 


    All of the relevant videos from all of the ventures, venture preparation, and venture commentary, have been bookmarked into the YouTube Playlist below, which will, as the project proceeds, continue to grow. 

    Circle of Hands Actual Play (and commentary)


  2. The past

    To follow up on my comments in the Reflections about the setting's past: most of what's currently in the book including the name "Pananthuri" dates all the way back to Gray Magick. Of the name itself, all I can say is that it's non-ironic Bad Tolkien ™, and that I had an elfy+tribal vibe in mind, although not actual elves. A similar term in that text is "Seolinthur," which did not make the cut into the new game.

    Looking over that original text now, I see that the Pananthuri had a visible and separate presence, including a language in use, and that their physical appearance and swirling tattooing are there as well. Although I didn't use the word "circular" for the tattoos, I know that's what I visualized.

    In Circle of Hands, I got rid of the "this region this skin color this language this hat" concept, even though the original had already deliberately dialed that down in comparison with current fantasy games, in favor of a history of migration into the area and a more layered culture, albeit unacknowledged and certainly including both ethnic cleansing and absorption. That's also tied to narrowing down the geography into a "spot" rather than a sprawling continent (here taking my cue from the original small region in developing Glorantha). I kept the name because it was obviously so different from the Germanic focus that I'd found for the new concept and presentation, plus maintaining just a touch of that faux-fantasy elfiness.

    Anyway, therefore the Pananthuri appearance and tattoos remain as parts of the culture, including regional and subcultural attitudes toward them. Whether there are some areas or communities who would actually identify with the term or consider their practices to be Pananthuri as such, I don't know – there certainly could be. As I mentioned, I was certainly influenced here by the Sami in the Nordic region, and generally by the phenomenon worldwide. That's the sum total of my thinking about it, then and now; I don't have a "secret history of the Pananthuri" in any notes or in mind.

    But let's look at a certain detail. It so happens that I did not come up with the "Circle" motif until re-developing the game in 2012-2014, and it also happens that Amos Orion Sterns leaned very Celtic in his design for it. As one of those concept-coming-together moments, it seems clear to me that the circle symbol, in-setting, is considered "tribal" in the modern slang sense, or better, "metal" in the sense of primal, cool, ancient, rad, even biker – an obvious but sincere re-purposing of a Pananthuri symbol or style for symbols. In other words, the circle symbol in the setting is appropriated, like the swastika for the Nazis, or like the many Native American signs or devices for the American counter-culture, or like throwing the horns for hard rock and roll. The more so as some of the knechten tattoo it, as shown on the cover.

    I really wish I'd used "knechten" instead of 'knights" all the way through the text … for English speakers, that's "k'nehhhk-ten," accent on the middle part. It's the same as thane, thegn, in Saxon English.

    Back to the visuals, and to gum things up, the whole culture employs those circular mon on chest clothing as an indicator of social purpose or position, obviously looted wholesale (by me, not in-setting) from Japanese clothing. I came up with that before thinking of the circle to define player-characters. So, in-setting, is that another appropriation, or its own historical thing for this culture? I do see it as very much a Crescent Lands thing, and it's not like any circle has to come from the former culture of the area, so maybe it's one of those blended outcomes that was developed by the incoming peoples but sort-of nods to or was influenced by the people who were there.


  3. Pananthuri

    One of the parts I enjoyed about the Red Sonja movie (a movie I otherwise found quite hard to enjoy) was the littering of the background with the ruins of older cultures. That is something that can be quite transportative. I found the mention of the Pananthuri and the explicit and implicit use of circular motifs to have a similar effect, giving us a distinct taste of difference about the Crescent (an incomplete circle) Land~

    It is one of the things that made me want to explore them rather than just making my own setting in which to play. 

    • That’s wonderful to see, for

      That's wonderful to see, for me. It was just enough of a deliberate decision, one cognitive step beyond the mere aesthetic, and fueled by just enough commitment to content (my historical understanding of peoples and regions), for this to be a confirmation.

      Your final sentence has a companion meaning for me too: it's why the promotional phrase "a complete setting" does not appeal to me. Why would I play in a "complete setting?" That's like composing a song that has so-helpfully already been completed for you.

  4. On Combativeness… or its lack
    Ron posted a video last week ( here: ) which offered great tips and a clear summary of the killing rules in CoH. That was much appreciated!

    He also speculated on why our Ventures have been ‘without’ fighting, suggesting there was a feeling of or a possible agreement to avoid conflict. He had good reason to speculate in that way, so I prepared a (sadly lengthy and detailed) reply to fill in the gaps and help us connect further as our experiment with and experience of CoH continues~

    A video response (unlisted at time of posting)

    It delves into details of our Session 0, our interests, and some perspective routed through my understanding of play. It’s long, but I hope it contributes something of worth~

Leave a Reply