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.