Convention Game Runequest

Where we are and why Everyone Wants to Kill Us

So my attempt at producing a two-page introduction for the players of my Virtual Grogmeet 2024 game, By this Shining Light, My Hand is Guided, failed miserably. I had forgotten the wonderful depth of the setting, especially now that things like the Glorantha Sourcebook and the RQ Wiki make it easy to reference events and notable characters. So, I cheated. I wrote a three-page narrative account and then did a bullet-pointed summary. The players are under no obligation to read it (this isn’t homework for a BMyth Glorantha Studies) , but at least it gets everything cemented in my head and a bullet point list to explain to the players during the set-up of the game.

So here we go…

Convention Game

Setting up an Online Convention Game

So, my game for Virtual Grogmeet 2024 has been accepted and has a full set of players. HURRAH!

Now I’ve got a couple of weeks to prepare for the game.

This is the message I’ve just sent the players to help set up the game. The main bit is working out what level of system and setting knowledge they have. Are they die-hard RQ Grogs who’ve played every edition, or newcomers who perhaps know of RQ and Glorantha from its reputation (possibly played it once in the 80s or 90s—since Grogmeet’s target audience is returning gamers from that time period), or somewhere in between? In recent face-to-face games I’ve had a mixture of both.

Hello Players!

This is just an introductory message to say hi!

I’m currently preping for the game. I’ve got characters that have previously been made and are in full character sheets. I’m going to consider whether to present them in a shorter format or not.

At the moment, I’m going to be using Zoom for Audio/Visual with dice rolls on trust.

There will be some short handouts about the character’s background and previous history together – nothing too taxing and designed to be useful if you are a newcomer to the game.

Talking of which, can everybody introduce themselves – using human names and what level of Gloranthan and RuneQuest knowledge do you have? Don’t worry if you are new to either system or setting or have a combination of experiences. Its just useful to know as GM so I can quickly get everyone on the same page.

I’ll start.

Hi, I’m Newt. I started playing in Glorantha with a mate’s one-on-one RuneQuest 2 game, where I was a human who visited Troll Town, got to know about the hero Arkat in character – and the whole how to run Glorantha from my friend, the GM out of character. In the 90s, I started my own Gloranthan adventure, running RuneQuest 3 for my University friends, graduating to HeroQuest in the 2000s, and dabbling in RQ G with a couple of Convention games and a short campaign online. I do have a deep, obsessive relationship with the background – but I have a strong commitment to running accessible Mega Gaming Fun games for everyone.

How about you?

;O) Newt

Analysis Review Runequest

First Thoughts on Cults of RuneQuest Mythology

My love affair with RQ/Glorantha is back on. After gazing at the big pile of RQ G books I was going to sell for the best part of a week and thinking all the great things I could do with them, I realised there’s still the Great Gloranthan Campaign of the 2020s to run and the shared joy of running RQ G at conventions! 

So I renewed my vows by getting the latest  Cults of RuneQuest book, Mythology. From a quick skim of the pdf, it’s like much of the RQ G line, an expanded RQ 3 supplement with RQ 2 Redux* formatting and rules and the super wow Glorantha in full Technicolour presentation**. In this case, the 80s Gods of Glorantha RQ3 box set introductory chapters with a much more detailed overview of the pantheons and the mythological ages. It ends up with the universal cult format, which is how to present Glorantha’s religions in RQ G game terms.

Cults of RuneQuest Mythology cover

So it’s a bit odd that this is the fourth book in the series, yet it says it’s the first book in the Introduction! As an old hand, I get it. As far as the intended reading order, this is correct. Still, the first two books are fundamental to anyone gaming/digesting the Sartar campaign, and many RQ neophytes would probably run screaming if this book was put before them as the first book they needed to read. It’s quite logical, but it is very wall of text, which is in keeping with the more popular RQ2 presentation but more formidable than the deliberately brief RQ3 Gods of Glorantha format***. They also fold in Greg’s copious notes and information from the HeroQuest era, which is, thirty-odd years of on-off development of the 80s material, which has greatly expanded and only been previously hinted at in fan publications and online email lists during the 90s and 00s (Gloranthan Digest, HQ Yahoo, etc.). As a long-time fan, it’s lovely to see everything in one place and easily accessible. 

One thing, though, this isn’t the generic RPG version of how to present Mythology in your game. i.e. an RPG version of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces. It’s very much how to present Gloranthan Mythology, and it’s setting up a framework for later RQ books (see the Universal Cult format, which is presented in RQ game terms), which kind of nixies the claim of the back cover that this is a systemless book. 

You can not fault its 158 pages of full-colour art presentation-wise. The quality of the art produced lots of “oos and ahs” moments, and everything complements the text, which is easily readable despite its density. The mythological maps are my personal favourite. One major nitpick I have is that they used red as text colour for the Myths pull-out boxes. I hate this because it violates obvious**** design, colour psychology and guidelines, and probably accessibility rules. Thankfully, it only seems confined to a handful of instances in one chapter.

A more detailed review to follow when I’ve read the incoming hardcover.

Newt’s RQ Nerd Notes

*RQ2 Redux is my shorthand for RQ Glorantha, reflecting that the game went back to RuneQuest 2, updated it with new stuff (and some old stuff sitting in Greg’s Game Design boxes) and then pushed it out to the adoring masses. 

** Which Chaosium, to their credit, are getting very good at after a somewhat shakey start with the core rulebook – which had a lot of reused art from earlier editions and glorious maps rendered unreadable by a faux ageing layer of grime.

***This an acdote which is from Sandy Petersen if I remember rightly. The idea was to introduce the whole set of Glorantha’s Gods in a shorter format, with all the game information but less of the game fiction, which gives colour and roleplaying detail. The long-form cult descriptions were intended to come along in later supplements – which, from memory, Troll Gods and Lords of Terror (the RQ3 version of Cults of Terror) was the only ones to make it out before the RQ3 licensing deal with Avalon Hill died in the 90s. 

**** Well obvious to me as 20+ years of web developer and desktop publishing experience. The number of times I have had to tell folk who presented me with text in red for their websites, “Do you want to present your website as written by a serial killer?” with them thinking that they were being cool and creative.

Analysis Runequest

By gum, the Darkness was strong

Once again, Real Life TM ganged up on me strongly, and it looked like my Gloranthan Fan Light would be extinguished! But I’m back at it, with the easing of the Bleak Times. This is what English Folk Lore calls the rainy dark season, which starts end of November and ends the first week of May, it’s sort of Autumn, Winter, and the early cold, wet part of Spring all rolled into one. I’ve now got space to get excited about Orlanthi, Lunars, Trolls, and Krajki(?) again.

Upcoming Posts

I’ve now got a RQ reading pile, for while I was distracted by a whole bunch of RuneQuest Cults books, it dropped from Chaosium. I’ve just bought book 4 Mythology, which amusingly the Introduction says is the first book, so I’ll be reviewing it first. Expect my thoughts on this to be posted here.

Also, seeing I didn’t get to go to Furnace last year, the scenario I planned to run there (“By this Shining Light, my Hand is Guided!”) is getting a run out at Virtual Grogmeet 2024 in April. I’ve got the hang of running convention games using a lighter version of RQ (which I’m calling RQ: Lite or Newt’s RQ Con Guidelines), which, again, I’ll post here soon.

During my time in the wilderness, I started to believe all the nonsense that non-Gloranthafans often throw at the game, which nearly saw me sell off my RQ books. Cheerfully throwing them into the abyss, saying, “it’s ok, I’ve gone digital!”. But after a week of seeing the pile of Gloranthan Gold sitting there and my mind mulling over the possibilities of that Great RuneQuest Campaign of the 2020s that I’ve yet to run, I got myself together, put them back on the shelf. It’s been a weird, miserable, wet winter, and my office here at D101 HQ has got beyond messy. But now that I’ve more energy I see that simply putting them away and going to IKEA for advanced storage solutions, is a far more reasonable solution. But this long dark tea time of the soul, threw up answers to the doubts that many people come up with when considering RuneQuest as a game, that I’m sure is post at some point 😉

Convention Game Runequest

By this Shining Light, my Hand is Guided!

I’m off to Furnace in October and Grogmeet in November, so its time to scratch that RQ itch with this little number. A prequel to Dry Run In Prax, which it will probably get bundled with as a Jonstown Compendium release.

The year is 1625, and Pavis, a Lunar city on the edge of the Wastes of Prax, is about to fall to Argrath and his rebel army. Camped outside the city, the Lunar regiment known as the Old Beards. This group of fierce barbarian fighters from Lunar Tarsh, has just returned from subduing the Empire’s Enemies in the Wastes. It’s General, Baldrox the Bearded, summons the Bastards, his elite cadre of troubleshooters.

“Our New Friend has told me a little secret. Over that set of dunes is an old Sun Dome. An early attempt by our Yelmalio allies to set up shop in these parts. It was abandoned suddenly due to troubles with the Dragons hundreds of years before our beloved Red Goddess rose in the sky to set the world to rights!

There will be gold. The Sunnies always have gold. We are about to lose this war, and I will need it to fight on when we get home to Tarsh. So, this is a simple job. Go across the desert, get into the old Sun Dome and get me that gold!”

The problem is that the Bastards may not be the only ones after Sun Gold.

If they have even the merest hint about their old temple, the local Sun Dome Hoplites will send their best troops to investigate the truth.

And word on the street is that some scruffy Praxian Shaman, Monkey Boy, and his baboon crew are also after the “shinies”.

Also, it has crossed the treasure hunters’ minds that there may be a reason the temple was abandoned in the first place.

This is a RuneQuest game suitable for newcomers both to the setting and system. Expect high adventure, a treasure hunt, with monstrous guardians straight out of Glorantha’s rich mythology.

Warning: This takes place in my Gloranthan Cinematic Universe version of the game, so Mega Gaming Fun is guaranteed!


Satar Powered By the Apocalyse

Recently I’ve been feeling the urge to go adventuring in Glorantha again. The thing is, I don’t feel the urge to crack open RuneQuest, Questworlds, or 13th Age Glorantha to do. I have a real sense of having been there and done that (see my previous post about campaigns I’ve run in Glorantha). My initial giddiness of returning to run a campaign for RQ G has faded.

One thing that keeps returning to me is the idea that using a fiction-first Powered by the Apocalypse system will get around the new players’ two barriers when approaching Glorantha, system and setting. PbTA systems are famously rule-light, and some people quickly declare them NOT ROLEPLAYING GAMES! But other people, myself included from the lovely experiences I had running Dungeon World at both cons and for my home group, find them effortlessly easy and, with the right set of moves, describe the setting intuitively, removing the need for excessive explanation.

Sartar PBTA scope of the game

The following is from my current game draft, mainly to keep me on track.

  • Assumes all characters Sartarites who are attached to a clan-based community, called a Tula somewhere in Sartar, and followers of a pantheon known as the Storm Tribe.
  • Characters follow a single god and derive their magic from them. Each character embodies or incarnates or “God forms” their Deity. As the character gains experience through emulating the deeds of their deity in play, they become more like them by gaining Devotee Feats.
  • Each adventuring group has only one instance of each character class or Devotee Type. This follows standard PBTA practice but also sharpens the fiction that the characters will eventually become important spiritual leaders, Godtalkers/Priests in their community and that there is no room for multiple powerful devotees. In Sartar PBTA there are no rules for characters following multiple deities, or other magic systems such as spirit magic or sorcery.
  • The detail of Glorantha as a setting is light, and only explained where necessary to the rules.  Refer to the Gloranthan Sourcebook or other Gloranthan game published by Chaosium INC for deep setting background.
  • This set of rules can be easily used for other settings where the characters are Orlanthi, such as the Eastern Wilds of Ralios.

The Plan

I’m doing this for me, although I may publish a free version under the Fan License if it comes together. My next stage is to take the twenty-six-page draft, finish it to a playable state, and then give it a whirl with a short online campaign. I’m tempted to use New Beginnings as a base for the adventures and mix it with some of my ideas for a revisit to the lands of the Silverwind clan.


To Build the Gloranthan Shrine?

As a long-time Glorantha fan, the recent announcement of the ten Cults of RuneQuest books threw me into a state of deep introspection. Why you ask, get so wound up about an elf-game?

Well, because I’ve already got a ton of stuff for Glorantha, despite culling a great deal over the years, and I like other RPGs and settings. With my d101 stock for my webstore, my office, my fitted wardrobe in my bedroom, and a good bit of attic space, half the bookcase in the living room is crammed with books. It’s time to downsize big time.

Current state of my office, and this is just one side!

Could Glorantha be part of that downsizing?

In theory, yes. I have one large stack and store, which I call the Vault, which holds all the “classics” stuff like Traveller, Warhammer FRP 1st, D&D Rulescyplopedia, and RQIII (the softcover deluxe edition from the 90s). Its all stuff I look at and enjoy occasionally, and I know that if I sold, I’d just end up buying back from eBay. So I could just add the RuneQuest Classics stuff I own (RQII, Pavis, Bigrubble, Cults Compendium, Griffin Mtn, Troll Pack) and that would be that. I’d hold on to my RQ G stuff on pdf, and use it if I ever felt the urge to dive back in and run a one-shot. Otherwise, that’s be done; everything else gets sold. I also don’t buy any new stuff. I don’t fall into Chaosium’s Evil Plan to sell me ten books with nowhere to go and embroil me in another cycle of playing and figuring out RQ G that will eat up at least five to ten years of my life (when I’ll be 60ish).

“I’ve looked at the size of my collection, and you want me to add more? I’m out!”

Except all that is no fun. I’m curious as heck to see how the Cults books turn out. On the one hand, I understand why people aren’t happy about it being a big slipcase of two giant volumes, available NOW! But do we really need the hernia-inducing properties of what that format would entail? Remember the two-volume Guide to Glorantha (another set of books I would not give up and would go in the Vault if I was to do a clear-out)? But it’s also a brave move on Chaosium’s part. Some books will sell like hotcakes, like Lightbringers (everyone is going to need that to play Humakti 😉 ) and Cults of Chaos (which will detail Glorantha’s brutal monstrous opposition). While some of the others, like if we have a book on Shamanism or even Cults of the West, will be much more niche for players who want to run those types of characters or GMs who are intrigued. Actually, thinking about those books make me realise that Glorantha is like crack; you can never get enough once it gets you, and gawdammit I WANT THEM ALL! This is why I considered including Glorantha in my great cull of game books. SAVE YOURSELF BEFORE ITS TOO LATE!! 😀

So I’m going for fun. Because I would be a grumpy sour puss if I didn’t. I’d be forever going “RuneQuest, it was good when it was like Star Wars and just the original trilogy, so I only play RQ2 and ignore everything after that”. I can now understand the D&D fans who have endless bookshelves of all editions and get all stroppy online when new stuff is coming out. Except I don’t have to have an edition war. Its all brilliant to me 🙂

“RuneQuest? Glorantha? It’s BRILLIANT!!!”

That’s where I’m at with my Gloranthan collection. While I have less time to devote to it, that’s been happening since my great RQ III campaign in the 90s, especially with my day job being D101 Games, I’m still enjoying it massively.

So the next step, while I downsize the rest of the gaming collection, is to make a “Gloranthan Shirine” that can fit all my books. The official releases, the fan releases I’ve hung on to over the years, a box file for my handwritten notes/index cards from my 90s RQIII Karia campaign. And of course, BRAX THE BROO. It needs to be accessible, so I can both browse for pleasure and for when I want to pull out books to use. Currently, they are tucked away in a fitted cupboard and tend to end up in piles on the floor after I’ve used them. So a nice bookshelf, with a glass door would be in order.

“Why the fuck Newt, I’m I standing next to the One Ring Roleplaying Game. You know I fucking hate Tolkien!”

This one isn’t going to happen overnight. Go have a word with my wife, she has different priorities for my house-clearing skills at the moment :D. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this little project.

The important thing for me, coming out of this, I’ve decided to carry on with a hobby that’s brought me lots of fun over the years.

Analysis QuestWorlds Runequest

My Gloranthan Campaigns

I’m best when Glorantha is a crucible for my creativity. I’ve tended to bounce hard off the published campaigns, which is unfair since there have been some crackers over the years. For example, Pavis and the Big Rumble, Borderlands, Griffin Mountain, and Sun County. At best, I tend to loot them for ideas. At worst, I exhibit a snobby indifference (“oh, but my game is set in Ralios, not Prax” *snort!*).

Recently I’ve been reassessing my gaming career with RuneQuest (a whole blog post of navel-gazing in itself), and part of this was reflecting on the long-form campaigns I’ve run over a good thirty years period.

Pre-Gloranthan RQ

Before listing my Gloranthan campaigns, it’s important to note (briefly) that in the late 80s, my first RQ experiences were with the Games Workshop editions of RQIII. Lovely hardcovers, colour plates, and easily digestible, they lacked the Intro to Glorantha that the Avalon Hill box edition had. Also, none of the fine supplements that made it out for Gloranthan under RQ III received the same treatment from GW. Outside the licensing deal, or didn’t it get released during the brief period GW published RQIII? Also, RQ2 was long gone from GW shelves. So the net result was that while I was in awe of Glorantha and briefly played two adventures with a mate from high school who had snagged RQ2 before it was gone, I didn’t get my mitts on Glorantha until I reached Leeds to go to University during the early 90s. So my formative experiences with RQ were games set on the non-Gloranthan Griffin ISLAND and my games which were non-Gloranthan (but sort of weirdly Gloranthan because I so badly wanted to play in that setting). So this is why for myself, and a lot of Brits, the non-Gloranthan side of RQ was so important, why we support Mythras, and why I wrote OpenQuest.

My campaigns over the years

These are my short takes on the games. In true Glorantha fan fashion, I’ll post longer accounts for each campaign separately.

Karia. (RuneQuest III massively house-ruled/Home/1990s)

A deep dive into a single land in the Ralios region (over the Rockwood Mountains to the west of Dragon pass) that was pretty much, along with Cyberpunk 2020, my gaming life in my student/post-student years.

Black Horse Country(QuestWorlds/Home/2000s)

My home group wanted to play in Glorantha. Using Questworlds (in its previous HeroQuest 1st/2nd incarnations), we co-authored (inspired by Burning Wheel) a short HIStory, how their characters rose from unsure teenagers to mighty heroes who fought a huge player vs player battle to determine which of them would become the new Count.

Lords of the North West. (QuestWorlds/Home/2000s)

Playtesting for Jamie “Trotksy” Revell’s Book of Glorious Joy, which I released via D101 Games/ Fun stuff because we made it so with lessons learnt about structuring the campaign we learnt while playing Black Horse County. Still, ultimately it was a brief dipping back into Glorantha.

New Beginnings (QuestWorlds/Convention/2000s) Easy to understand Barbarians vs Chaos games to play with newcomers at conventions. They were eventually published via D101 Games.

Red Sun Rising (QuestWorlds/Convention/2000s). I had the itch to play Solars vs Lunars after reading the unfinished Stafford Libary books (The Fortunate Succession and The Glorious Reascent of Yelm), and this campaign, played out over several conventions, scratched it. Also published via D101 Games.

The Long Way Home (RQ Glorantha/Online/2020?). Lunar Tarsh legionaries escape Pavis’s fall and make their way home to Tarsh.

Karia (Redux) (RQ Glorantha/Convention/2022 to present). I am revisiting my old RQ3 campaign of the 90s, and polishing up scenarios to present as one-shot RQ G for gamers of all levels of familiarity with Glorantha. See The Garden of Evil, which is the first adventure in this cycle.


Hearts in Glorantha Clearance Sale

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)

Here’s what’s available

The Return to RuneQuest

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…

Hi Gang

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?”

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.