I found a couple of issues of Hearts in Glorantha, Gloranthan Adventures and even a hardback book of Glorious Joy from my big D101 Gloranthan fan publishing adventure (2009-2018)
So with my latest convention scenario pretty much in the bag, well in rough “lets see if this survives contact with the players” form, I’ve got all giddy and contacted some players who have played with me before, with the aim of starting up a flexible RQ campaign.
Heres the email I sent them earlier today…
I’ve got the RuneQuest bug again, and I’m planning a West Marches style RQ campaign. It will be set in my Karia setting, which is over the Rockwood Mtns to the west of the default Dragon Pass setting. This means in many ways it’s familiar (there are Orlanthi barbarians for example) but it has its own history and twists that gently make it its own thing. But all will gradually be revealed, in a non-navel gazing manner fun manner.
West Marches-style game? It’s a play style from the early days of D&D:
“Put simply, a West Marches Campaign is an episodic campaign structure and play style for traditional role-playing games that were designed explicitly for open table play.”From “What is a West Marches Campaign?” secretsofthebarrowmaze.com
This means that there’s a pool of players who want to play. Rather than have set dates, I give dates I’m available, and then the pool votes on when they are available from that. I keep records of everything that goes on, and the players determine where they go, in the sandbox of Karia. This area is already well defined in such terms from being such a campaign in the 90s – ask Ginger Matt who played in what was my home campaign at that time. Players play as little or as often as they want/are able to, and the campaign never dies because of scheduling problems. I’m thinking of running once or twice per month.
This page delves into it in more detail
I’ve got a starting scenario, that I’m planning to run at Go Play Manchester in November, and I’d like to give it playtest beforehand. When I’m not sure, it will be the first thing we do as a poll West Marches style!
Here’s a quick blog post about it on my Glorantha Blog, Arkat’s Playground
I will be canvassing for more players online but wanted to see if you were interested since you’ve played with me before.
Hope all is well with you.
All the best.
The Garden of Evil was one of my first gaming convention adventures. It probably got run at one of the Battlemasters series of conventions held in Loughborough Uni in the late 90s just after Easter Weekend. Wanting a straightforward set up, which still oozes esstiential Gloranthan vibes in all the right places, I’ve gone back to it for my next convention game.
Here’s the pitch that I’m using for the game I’m going to run at Go Play Manchester, a local gathering of gamers, in November.
The Garden of Evil
Lost in the wilderness, the Garden of Evil was part of the ancient estate of Sorcerers who ruled Ralios during the Dawn Age. The evil reputation comes from the fact that they were worshippers of the Chaos God Gbjai the Deceiver. Normally it would be left alone by the nearby farming settlement of Horst, but their fields get nearer each year. This year some sheep have wandered past its’ thorn hedge boundaries by mistake, and the scared farmers have asked their Chief to send bold adventurers to find them.
This game of adventure in backwoods Glorantha uses the RuneQuest rules. The characters will be the offspring of the local warlord tasked with exploring an ancient place of mystery and danger. No previous experience of either the setting or system is required.
This adventure grew out of my home RuneQuest III campaign, that I ran in my student/post student days for most of the 90s. When I started going to conventions in the mid-nineties, I based convention games in the campaign setting, Karia – which is to the west of Dragon Pass, but has its own Orlanthi tribes being part of region known as the Barbarian Belt. So I could use the familiar pantheon of gods, the Storm Tribe, as well as throwing in nearby western cultures and even Trolls, who have one of their Tower of Lead strongholds nearby. One of my players, my long standing friend Ginger Matt, played a troll, Keltina, who started off as a rough and ready warrior, a basher guarding Troll Insect Caravans, and ended up a Sorcerer of Black Arkat.
The Garden of Evil is a simple adventure location. Its like a fun fair of all my favourite weird Gloranthan monsters, who were picked out of the RQ II monster section, since I didn’t have the Gloranthan Bestairy for RQ III at the time, in the same way I would populate a AD&D dungeon using the Monster Manual I & II. I had a rough idea of who liked who due to mythology and cultural biases, but the main aim of the adventure was to introduce the players to all the cool Gloranthan Weirdness. That while they may think they are going on a standard monster hunt, that all gets turned on its head when creatures like Dragonnewts, Broo and Gorps come into play.
The premade player characters, all ranking members of the Klerst Clan, intiates of the more warlike Orlanthi Deities with a descent amount of magic, are the sons and daughter of the local chief. I ran this during the Tales of the Reaching Moon days, and that fanzine drew heavily from Greg Stafford’s then unpublished work which detailed how the Orlanthi Barbarians lived in clans which had a social hierarchy based around their Gods and Goddesses, and had animosities towards monsters and other cultures, that led to violence and conflict. While this wasn’t as hardbaked into the scenario as it would have been say during the HeroQuest years (circa 2000-2010), it was hinted at and there if the players wanted to make it a thing.
So I spent an hour or so this evening restoring this blog to the point that I left it a year ago—restoring both content, and presentation. Even recreating the one comment from Rick Meints wishing me well.
This time last year, I felt my great plans suddenly came to a dramatic end when I realised ironically I had no spare time to pursue them. Quite simply, family life and my main priority, D101 Games, were more than enough. I was swamped with stuff and overwhelmed with an abundance of life’s challenges. Arkat’s Playground was suddenly jettisoned in an attempt to make things manageable. With my best amateur dramatic head on, I exclaimed, “oh my, the Third Age of Newt’s Gloranthan Fan Publishing has come to an end”. So I deleted the blog and thought that was that. Except as my good friend Rev Dr Moose puts it, “Glorantha will always drag you back”. Last May was the point where it had space in my head again, and with personal challenges being resolved I’ve finally got enough time to write/play again. Plus I looked at my groaning gaming shelves, a good part of which are covered with Gloranthan books and realised they will not be part of my current downsizing exercise. Because I hear the call clearly now…
So why do I keep coming back?
It’s a Gonzo Ancient World Setting of Make Believe. Look too hard at it, and its inconsistencies will infuriate you. But I think it’s never meant to be coherent. The differing viewpoints of cultures and the intrinsically personal commentaries litter the setting info. Combined with the very nature of a world where its myths, undoubtedly emotionally powerful but hard to logically pin down, directly form the worldview of its inhabitants. There is nothing else like it.
I’m committed (as in mad?) Fan Boy. I have a whole cupboard of Gloranthan games and supplements, spanning its entire publication history. I’ve a headful of memories of convention games, home campaigns (more on that in later blog posts), and conversations both online and in person with other fans about both the systems and the setting itself. If nothing else, I could happily blog about all the Gloranthan Books on my shelves.
I’ve had some of my best-ever gaming experiences in Glorantha. Once various things fall into place, chief among them how the system (be it Questworlds, RuneQuest or 13th Age Glorantha) supports the world and how it intrinsically works, players go with it, and the fun flows.
The People. I have many friends in the Gloranthan Fan community who ask what I’m up to with the setting. They like my D101 stuff, but I constantly get asked when I’m going to run Gloranthan convention games or put out new material. Some of these friendships are longstanding, as in a good thirty years.
And perhaps most importantly…
Brax the Broo would be cross if I didn’t. This oversized faux bronze statue is my own Gloranthan Writing Wyter, which I gained during my Hearts in Glorantha years from its sculptor at Mad Knight Miniatures. He’s one mean muthafooker!
I’m in the process of putting this blog back up and running. So bear with me. I shall announce its full return via my Twitter account @newtus.
This post came about because of this thread over at the RPGPub forum, where I chime in on page 2. Also, it’s in lieu of a long-overdue review of RuneQuest Glorantha itself, which is this long epic thing in my head being a long-time RQ/Glorantha fan
So introductory waffle out of the way.
RuneQuest Glorantha? I’ve come to the conclusion I like it.
When it came out, I plunged right in and ran it several times as a convention game. The epic Lunars on the run from angry animal riders, looking for the last moon boat home that is Dry Run in Prax (coming to Jonstown Compendium soonish). I even ran it online as a mini-campaign with a mix of newbies and old hands. All the new subsystems and new lore overwhelmed me, to the point of overload. And I’m a Gloranthan GM with 30+ years of experience! So when the OpenQuest Kickstarter blew up in my face with its success, I switched to running that. Partially because I craved simplicity system-wise, I also had to take care of business and get some last-minute play-testing done. Since then, OpenQuest Thursdays, as that group is known, has firmly established itself as a long-running home campaign
On reflection, though, it was very clear that the players had a great time because those new subsystems gave them options and power at the table. I’m thinking Runes and Passions especially. They can read all that new lore in the rulebook or when I shove the Gloranthan Sourcebook in their direction. We were playing Lunar Tarsh characters, so we had whole sessions discussing Lunar Theology and mythology since the players were curious and it was relevant to their characters, who are questioning their faith after the downfall of Pavis.
I’m making a small return to RuneQuest via conventions, and when I do, I shall be keeping things simple on my side of the fence and letting players focus on all the bits I find fiddly. If you want to use Passions in my game, great, but you work out when you want to use them and how.
Finally, I love the fact that Gloranthan Fandom has got a shot in the arm due to its release. People are picking up RQG and are staying and running campaigns. Lots of fan-made stuff on the Jonstown Compendium, and while the official releases are slow, in a sense, there’s no regular release schedule, there’s still a large chunk of playable stuff out there already.
So a couple of weeks ago Dan Barker posts a work-in-progress picture, of a bizarre-looking beastie and a red-headed adventurer type on Twitter. And it gets me thinking, there’s an adventure in that!
With some local and online conventions coming up that would be suited to a quick RuneQuest adventure, inspiration struck and suddenly I’ve got an outline all typed up, and Dan’s picture becomes a cover of a future Jonstown Compendium release (possibly my first).
Pavis 1625, the start of the Hero Wars
Prince Argarath of Sartar is victorious and has liberated the city from the hated Lunar occupiers. In the confusing aftermath of the fall of Pavis, your friend Trevla “Red” Jedsun has gone missing.
Red has been on many expeditions into the Big Rubble and the Wastes of Prax, which is where your group knows her. In Gimpy’s tavern, the rumour is that she’s split town and is heading for a set of ruins known as the “Chaos Zoo”. Why anyone would want to go to a place named after the hideous monstrous force that is the foe of every right-thinking person in Glorantha is a mystery to you. It must be a great treasure. Best find Red and get in on the take.
This game is using RuneQuest for up to four players. No prior knowledge of either the system or setting is required.
Where I’m Going to Run It
Face to Face
Go Play Manchester Sunday 14th November (Event Registration open now, game sign up Sunday two weekends before).
Grogmeetish (date and time to be announced but probably Friday 13th).
This is a simple adventure, with multiple twists, in three acts, that is suitable for Gloranthan novices and veterans alike.
Although it’s written for a group of adventurers based in Pavis at the end of the Lunar Occupation, it can be run with modifications anywhere in Glorantha where there’s a settlement near wilderness with a certain amount of chaos threat.
Well, my almost year of self-imposed exile since I ceased publishing Hearts in Glorantha/Gloranthan Adventures via D101 Games has ended.
I’m going to be publishing my Gloranthan Fan writings via Chaosium’s Jonstown Compendium, using Arkat’s Playground imprint. I’m currently writing up a Lunar adventure set in the wastes of Prax, that I’ve been running at conventions for the last couple of years (see cover below, art by Dan Barker).
Also, I’ll be using this site to post articles, reviews and other musings. Oh and there’s a podcast in the planning.
More about what I’ve got planned, and a bit about my history of Gloranthan fan publishing if you aren’t familiar with me, on the About page.