Categories
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…

Categories
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.

Categories
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 😉

Categories
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!

Categories
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.

Categories
Runequest

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?” 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.

;O)Newt

Categories
Convention Game Runequest

Going back to my Roots

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.

Categories
Review Runequest

My Verdict on RuneQuest Glorantha

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.

Categories
Convention Game Jonstown Compendium Runequest

The Chaos Zoo

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).

The Pitch

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).

Online

Grogmeetish (date and time to be announced but probably Friday 13th).

Design Notes

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.

Categories
13th Age Glorantha Jonstown Compendium QuestWorlds Runequest Site News

Welcome to the Playground

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.