Subject: Dragon Dreams, Volume 2, Number 11 This issue: Review: Arachne Solare And You (Fred Schiff) And Now For Something Completely Different (Fred Schiff) --- From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Review: Arachne Solare and you This is a review of the products Gods of Glorantha and Glorantha: Genertela. Disclaimer: This is my first real exposure to Glorantha, so I am not sure about everything. For those who have read things I have posted previously, I will try not to ramble as much as I sometimes do. I'll be reviewing the games, rather than Glorantha as a world. What is Glorantha? Glorantha is Greg Stafford's fantasy world. In the previous editions of RQ, Glorantha was used as an example fantasy world but was very much integrated into the rules. The third edition has separated out Glorantha, making RQ a more generic fantasy game. The Intro. to Glorantha book in Deluxe RuneQuest gives a basic introduction to this world. The main focus of Glorantha is religion and a person's relation with their gods. The religions, called cults, are real social forces, not the props of other frps, which define motivations and focus play. This is an actualized world: the gods are real if not always present daily, the sun is a god rather than a star, and the world is flat. The overall feel of the world is Near Eastern rather than generic Western fantasy. There are gods and societies which do seem to be patterned after Earth cultures. There are elves, dwarves, and trolls, but they are unique creations and bear little relation to the usual fantasy crop. In fact they are much more interesting than then the usual Tolkien inspired clone. Many traditional fantasy creatures have been fit in nicely with the Gloranthan mythos. There are also many creatures unique to Glorantha. The race of Dragonewts are among these. The range of human cultures is diverse. Technologically they range from stone age to early middle ages. There is no gun powder. [Actually, the dwarves have gunpowder, as mentioned in the Bestiary and other places, but not in the products Fred is reviewing.-Ed] Humans are near the beginning of their history and don't know everything about their environment. The world is iron poor; most metals things are made of bronze, although actually the bronze and iron of Glorantha are not the same as the Earth equivalent. As part of the religious orientation of the game, there is the concept of HeroQuesting which is presented. (There are no game rules for this at present.) HeroQuesting is a spiritual journey expressed either as a physical journey outside of normal mortal lands or a magical journey to participate in the deeds of the gods, in order to gain gifts from the powers and immortals of the world. (Mouthful - the (Earth)shamanistic notion of vision quests is analagous) On to the Review The boxed supplements are up to Avalon Hill's usual high standards. It seems that they do an even better job than Chaosium in the production area. [Except they use flimsy covers! -Ed] The boxes have several books and supplemental play aids. They have interesting, but slightly stylized cover art. Gods of Glorantha has a scene of two theives stealing a jewel from an idol which I would guess represents Kali, although the box back says it is Yara Aranis. Glorantha has a scene of two warriors fighting a broo; they are identified somewhere inside but I can't remember their names. The Glorantha supplement was originally called World of Glorantha, but now its full name is Glorantha: Genertela, Crucible of the Hero Wars. Genertela is the larger northern continent of the world. The Hero Wars are the upcoming conflict which has been prophecied since time immemorial and will be involving the whole continent. Both supplements are done from a human perspecitive; the elder races (elves, dwarfs, & trolls) are given less attention. The Dragon pantheon is noticible by its complete absence. Future supplemnts are promised which will explore the elder races in more detail, and the other areas of the world (the southern continent of Pamaltela, the various islands of the world, and the inhabited oceans.) Gods of Glorantha consists of a copy of the calendar used by most cultures, and 3 books: What the Priests Say?, Prosopaedia and the Cult Book. What the Priests Say, has little write-ups of how Priests in several pantheons would answer questions about existence and a worshiper's place in the world. These are important because they inform GM's and players how their characters should act and react to situations. These are expansions of the How a Shaman, Priest and Magician views the world sections in the Deluxe RQ Magic book. In Glorantha gods are real, so shamans and magicians are also generally priests. The Prosopaedia is a listing of Gloranthan gods, heros, and philosophies. It gives some brief mythological information for each entry. This is for both GM and player. There are many more gods listed here than are in the Cults book. The Cults books has two sections: Mythos and Religion and the list of Cults. The Mythos section contains the Jrusteli monomyth. A monomyth is a common pattern folklorists have found in all folk tales and myths. (See any of Jeremy Betham's books) The Jrusteli monomyth are the patterns which the God Learner's found and often forced upon the conflicting Gloranthan creation myths; the player's characters would certainly know some version of these. Additionally the Mythos section discusses things which are unique to Glorantha, namely iron and rune metals, allied spirits, acolytes and rune lords, and cult spirits. We finally find out how Priests mangage to teach Spirit spells to their congregation without being Shamans: a new Divine Spell, Command Cult Spirit, enables them to command a cult spirit spell into spirit combat so that an applicant can learn a spell. There is mention of how to use the relgions realistically making the time constraints of priests match up with their activity in the community. There is also a section which shows the distribution of each pantheon geographically. The Cult listings are brief, smaller than the section on Ernalda in the Intro to Glorantha book. Here are listed most of the major cults the players will encounter, either as cults to join (like Orlanthi) or as adversaries (like Thed). The mythological information is scant; the requirements, duties, restrictions and benefits for initiates and priests are given along with any Special divine spells, Spirit magic, sorcery or skills that the cult commands. Some of the special requirements help define the nature of the cults and their members. The new skills are: Bargain Charismatic Wisdom Craft/Butchery Craft/Prepare Corpse (ie. for burial) Courtesan Cult Lore Drive [Vehicle] Glorantha Lore Sense Assassin Sense Chaos Treat Disease Treat Poison Understand Beast Speech Most of these are self evident. Charismatic Wisdom is a special skill of the Path of Immanent Mastery (a mystery cult involving the worshippers transformation into dragons); it is a measure of the knowledge of their doctrines and is solely concerned with becoming an initiate of the cult. Understand Beast Speech is the ability to interpret animals' body language, not to talk to animals. The skills Cult Lore and Glorantha Lore are mentioned as universal, but are not defined. I assume Cult Lore concerns knowledge of cults other than your own. I can't figure out how Glorantha Lore is different from World Lore, since it is posssible to have both. Caveats: Rules for alchemy are not given. The skill Spirit Healing mentioned in Snake Pipe Hollow is not discussed. There are two additional types of magic listed. (Does this make 6 & 7 or is it 7 & 8?) Godunya's (Dragon Emperor) magic allows expendure of POW for Sorcery effects. Lunar magic allows manipulation of Spirit Magic in a manner similar to Sorcery. Glorantha: Genertela consists of a large scale map of the continent and 3 books: Glorantha book, Genertela book and Genertela's Player's book. These are mainly GM source material with very little game statistic or rule information. The last book is the only one which the player's should have access to; the others give away too much information. The Player's book tells players how to role-play Gloranthan characters and gives character generation information ie. occupations, skills, cultural weapons, and cults, replacing those in deluxe RQ for the cultures found in Genertela. There are long sections on the recommended begining character types from each of the RQ cultures: primitive, nomad, barbarian, and city- dweller. These tell how a person in the indicated culture lives, works, and treats others in the world. There are sections entiled "What my father told me," which show how people from these cultures view themselves. All of this helps players and GMs in playing these characters realistically. The Glorantha book gives basic information about the world which is much more complete than that found in Intro. to Glorantha. There are sections on time measurement, languages in Glorantha, an objective view of history (as opposed to the mythological one in Gods of Glorantha or the summary in the Intro.) and a section entitled "the Six Worlds of Glorantha" which tells how Glorantha's inhabitants divide up existence. All of this is good stuff which tells the GM how Glorantha operates; players should not see this especially not the history. Players should be dealt with appropriately if their characters display knowledge they should not have. (Knowledge of history in a world wide is somewhat limited; it would be considered God Learner knowledge and thus a bit evil and suspect) The real meat of the supplement is the Genertela book. It has no game rules, but is simply 90+ pages of info on the cultures found on the continent. The sections of the book are divided up politically or geographically into ten areas. Information is given on the area's history, inhabitants, demographics, culture, religion, government, and military. Small scale maps show the political boundaries of the areas. There are entries given for important people and places. These have no statistics but simply tell who the people are and why they are important; a GM would need to generate statistics for them only if they came up in play. Side bars give lists of strange or unusual events which are likely to occur in an area; I found some of these strange, but they are present to give the campaign flavor apparently. Some areas are specifically specified as *blank lands*; these can be used by GMs for their own campaigns without fear of contradiction by anything Chaosium later publishes. Entries give phophecies and information on conflicts involved in the upcoming Hero Wars. The heros involved are mentioned (with the admonition that they are NPCs and the player characters should keep away from them) along with what they will accomplish in the Hero Wars. Summary Both of these products are excellent and complement each other; I recommend them to any fan of Glorantha. For those not interested in Glorantha: the Genertela supplement has limited usefulness, while Gods of Glorantha has many gods which are difficult to take out of the context of Glorantha. Gods of Glorantha does provide an excellent example of how to develop cults and information on how to use them effectively in roleplay. Whether the new skills (and spells - there are many) tempt you is up to you. -- Fred Schiff PO Box G207 email@example.com SUNY Binghamton firstname.lastname@example.org Binghamton, NY 13901 ^^^ most reliable after Dec 15 1988 ^^^ --- From: email@example.com Subject: And now for something completely different Me again. Thought people might want to read part of a letter I got from Greg Stafford last July. I was mainly talking about Pendragon, but did have some peeves about the amount of RuneQuest material that has been produced. Namely that lots of promised things, like Doraster, Pavis campaign, an Apple Lane sequel, maps, etc. never materialized. Here we go: . . . "We are preparing more Gloranthan material. You will shortly see lots of reprints, which will usually contain some new material as well. And some new material. I am not quite chained to my typewriter, but I do have more writing time now. I am working on lots of new Gloranthan material, and maybe it is just a matter of time and priorities until something comes out. I am working simultaneously on an Arkat novel and HeroQuest, for instance. Sorry it is so frustrating. It is for me, too." -- Fred --- The RuneQuest(tm) mailing list is a courtesy of Andrew Bell. All opinions and material above are the responsibility of the originator, and copyrights are held by them. RuneQuest is a trademark of Chaosium, Inc. Send submissions, mailing list changes, requests for old article lists, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com ...!mcnc!duke!romeo!acb ...!mcnc!unc!bell Request old articles by volume number and issue number.