What I found when I visited Glorantha

From: Mr. Tines <tines_at_windsong.demon.co.uk>
Date: 15 Nov 1997 14:14 +0000


This is another portmanteau style catchup; it will also turn into a retrospective, in reverse chronological order, of my practical (as opposed to theoretical) involvement with the world (which, unusually, given that I have GMd far more often than I have played over the last 20 years, is almost entirely from the player's viewpoint).

On the "Urban Sartar" issue, I concede that Joerg's points probably reflect the current canon far more closely than my own experiences there.

The Sartar based campaign ran for about a couple of years, about 89-91 (certainly, it was in full flow in 1990); and at that point it was clear from what sources were available (including some of the early issues of Tales) that the area was something like idealised North-Western Europe before feudalism, but detail was scant. We also felt that there was not enough material for us to reach a consensus on what the Lunar Empire was really like, so made the decidedly non-canonical step of making the more urbanised and feudalised nation of Tarsh the major power in the region; and made Sartar rather like pre-Roman Britain (resulting in a sort-of Norman Conquest/Roman Conquest hybrid).

Here Jonstown, Wilm's Church and Swenstown had possibly 500 inhabitants each; the Big City, Boldhome, maybe a couple of thousand. Alda-Chur was possibly as large, but it had long been under the influence of those filthy foreign Tarshites with their heathen ways and gods with too many arms (and we never actually ventured there).

Our conception of Boldhome was also far more prosaic than the vision that came out in the _Rough Guide_, at the '92 Convulsion (which, as it happened, was after that Glorantha campaign had ground its way to an unsatisfactory and inconclusive halt); the excuse that it is a fantasy city I really find to be a non-excuse - after all, the same could be said of rather less fantastical places such as Juniper or Minas Trith. It felt like, and perhaps was, a survivor from early days where D&Dish elements had had an influence, had stuck through being grandfathered  in, and no longer quite matched the later work done of the setting.

OTOH, that campaign did weave in some possibly outdated material : we used the maps from pp108-9 of RQ2, including the depiction of Tada's High Tumulus as about twice the size of Kero Fin, as canon.

It was some years later that I encountered in the real world the place that said to me "this is like Boldhome"; on a cycling holiday through Provence, I passed through Les Baux de Provence, in the Alpilles, overlooking the Rhone delta and the Camargue.

We now reach back further back in time, to consider in detail the utility of RQ3 material to the RQ2 player; where I fear I must express polite disgreement with Nick Brooke.

GoG and Genertela I would call part of the early phase (the first two Gloranthan releases, after all), given _Vikings_, _Land of Ninja_, two boxes of character sheets, _Griffin Island_ and _Monster Coliseum_ were the rest of the first 8 numbered boxes.

We had been up and down the Zola Fel back in the early 80s, when the _Borderlands_ box came out; though at that point, as I noted earlier, the characters were from Periclean Athens (based on the armour drawn in the RQ2 rulebook), and the Praxians wore burnooses.

We revisited Pavis and the Zola Fel in the later campaign, with rather more canonical cultural tags, using the material from the Pavis box, as well as Borderlands; and although our travels took us through Sun County, we didn't find dope-growing peasants or a Count rumoured to interested in pretty boys (if we'd ever considered anything like that in the first camapign, it would have been a tacit acceptance that the Sun Dome philosophy was "women for duty, boys for pleasure" across the board).

When _Sun County_ came out (also Convulsion '92, IIRC), my reaction was that it fell into three parts : general source material for the area reprinted from the Pavis box, a detailed instantiation of the area which had headed off in a totally different direction to the broad brushed conception of the area, and scenarios I knew I would not be able to make use of. _River of Cradles_ I confess I condemned on the strength of it presenting itself as a set of scenarios, and which opened with a heavy-handed bit of railroading that I knew my likely pool of players would not stand for.

_Strangers in Prax_ - but I've *done* Prax; and wasn't
it just more scenarios?

_Dorastor_ - an area widely trailed as "where high level
characters go to die" : we never built up suitable characters for playing bit-parts in the Cradle scenario, let alone Dorastor; though I'll credit you, this was new - but also close to that rather inchoate zone, the Lunar Empire (not a new problem : my abortive attempt at using _Griffin Mountain_, my one Glorantha- -GM experience, was not helped by being adjacent to this undefined void).

_Lords of Terror_ - got the original, thank you.
_Shadows on the Borderland_ more scenarios, wasn't it?

The last RQ/Glorantha product I bought was _Elder Secrets_; and that I found fairly lightweight, and sold off a few years back. The only high utility new material was that about the sky (amplified by Nick's work on his ephemeris program) and weather (expanded upon in the sea-going issue of _Tales_).

Magical metals and crystals reworked RQ2 core material. The monsters were of the "you don't need stats for them, you just run away if you can" variety [which I will admit prejudged my assessment of _Dorastor_]. That the description of "Inacessible Glorantha" - places normal people don't go - - included Prax merely caused a hollow laugh given all the campaign material set there. The only things that stuck in my mind from the races book were the snippets about mostali reproduction, hints that they had nuclear electricity (from the tasks of the Lead and Copper castes), that it is not a good idea to copulate with a Green Elf, and that there was yet another Kyger Litor longform.

So, what is the lesson for G:tG? A lot of the existing Glorantha players will have legacy material; and if they have used that material, they will have of necessity had to fill in gaps. Prax has been about done to death. Sartar, in stark contrast, has been given significant detail only in
_King of Sartar_.

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End of The Glorantha Digest V5 #224

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