Bell Digest vol02p11.txt

Subject: Dragon Dreams,  Volume 2,  Number 11

This issue:
	Review: Arachne Solare And You			(Fred Schiff)
	And Now For Something Completely Different	(Fred Schiff)



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

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

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:

Charismatic Wisdom
Craft/Prepare Corpse (ie. for burial)
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.


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             SUNY Binghamton
tjw0300@bingtjw.bitnet                        Binghamton, NY 13901
                                      ^^^ most reliable after Dec 15 1988  ^^^



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

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


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