Glorantha as a world: Oh yeah.

From: Mike Dawson <>
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 16:58:04 -0400

(copied to the players in my game, who are not on the digest--and shouldn't be.)
on 10/5/00 6:54 PM, Adept wrote:

> I try to run Glorantha as a world. I don't run adventures and
> scenarios. I run the world, and the playercharacters live their lives
> inside, come what may.

ME TOO! This is really the crux--of whether the reader is likely to care about Ultimate Gloranthan Truth, and about whether the game someone runs would captivate me or bug the hell out of me.

If what you want in your game can be had by "fixing" things so they work out dramatically, so that the players and the GM cooperate in telling a riveting story with the occasional wink back and forth to show that each knows the other fudged something to make it "play better", then you need not care about the integrity of the world as a system, or the hidden, immutable secrets behind the workings of the world. There needn't be any immutable secrets, since you're making it up as you go along. As the punchline goes, "It's turtles all the way down."

But if you want to immerse your characters into a world where meaning has to be found out, where things occur for reasons, not because it was convenient or added a nice twist to the drama, then you as GM need to understand Why Things Are.

Now, this next point drifts away from the whole "Gloranthan Truths" topic, but here's why I run my games as Adept says he does:

If a GM is in the habit of doing things because they add a neat dramatic twist, or for color, or comic relief, or any other "MGF" reason, it REMOVES the reality of cause and effect from the world. The ultimate power of that GM's Glorantha becomes the narrative taste of the GM.

"So what?" you ask, "As long as the game is fun?"

In response, I say two things:

  1. In such a game, what is the point in any player character wondering about the motivations of any NPC, or attempting to determine the root causes of ANY problem? The root causes of EVERY problem in such a game are "because the GM thought it was cool." For example, consider the bizarre Balazar(?) weather patterns mentioned on the digest recently --caused by an interventionist GM who didn't want the PC heading off that way. Why would a player in that game think it was a good idea for his character to start trying to figure out what storm god was angry with him?
  2. In such a game, how can any player or character take pride in achievement? How can you know, for sure, that it was your Yelmalion's hard won Light of Inner Purity 5W2 feat that enabled a last ditch resistance to the giant gorp? Did the GM think that this made a handy excuse not to kill off the central character too early in the quest?

No doubt, running a world is harder than running a narrative.

But the rewards can be great. If I may once again polish my own apple, let me point to the Gaumata's Vision scenario from RQ 3. It is not a narrative. It is a free form. It's "plot" grows from a few actions, extrapolated logically given the time, place, and magical nature of those involved. The right characters walking into it can bust it wide open in a few hours, but most may completely fail to get "hooked" by it, and LOGICALLY will have to live with the consequenses for a generation or longer.

I should imagine that GMs who let narrative fiat enter their games have a lot of trouble running games like that, where mysteries and "detective" work play a part.

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