Re: How to introduce the elder races

From: Simon Phipp <soltakss_at__6cXNcr0VPtWekt_f9ANgR6Nmkt561mI5Dr3xp_V_D-OkOaCcUZxnJQxpadGst_a-5D>
Date: Sat, 01 Dec 2012 17:34:42 -0000


> You make my point exactly. They are so strange and extreme, that I
> could not give them justice when introducing them to my players.

Bear in mind that the descriptions provided are the extremes of playing in Glorantha.

Here is how I play the main non-human races.

Elves (Not Aldryami - they are slightly different - Aldryami include Dryads, Elves, Runners and Pixies) are living plants, but they also descend from Grandfather Mortal. In Glorantha this is important as they share many traits in common with humans. Sure, they have sap instead of blood and have some plant-like features, but they are NOT moving trees, in my opinion. Moving trees are Warriors of Wood and intelligent trees are the male counterparts of Dryads.

Elves have a variety of roles and types, whic h define them and make them easier or harder to deal with.

Rootless Elves are those who have lost the fellowship of the forests and are outcasts. They will often worship either non-elven deities or those elven deities that are available to non-elves. Yelmalio is a favourite, but Rootless Elves can, in theory, worship any deity that accepts elves. They will have an Aldryami background, will probably be good at using a bow and spear, will have good forest-skills and may well hate other elves, or at least hate forest-elves.

The Marching Aldryami are warriors, usually worshippers of Yelmalio or High King Elf. They are the guardians of the forests and will normally treat outsiders as hostile until proven otherwise. They generally treat solar and earth cultists with respect and will actively be friendly with worshippers of Yelm, Yelmalio or Ernalda. Other cultists will be treated according to their cult's relationship with Aldrya/Yelmalio. They are likely to kill dwarves and trolls without question, unless they have a good reason for not doing so. Someone with a good reason for being in the forest will be taken to the local dryad or High King Elf Lord to be dealt with. Outside the forests, they are usually on a mission and have very specific goals, so these will shape how they react to non-elves.

Other elves are found in the forest and carry out specific functions. They keep the glades clear, make some places tangle free and tangle others up, help the trees grow and do many more jobs. These will normally be reluctant to help outsiders, unless they are in friendly cults or can help them. They are likely to send word to the Marching Aldryami to deal with the interlopers. They are rarely encountered outside the forests, and tend to be timid.

Elves tend to think about the forests first and foremost. However, they have many other goals and drives. Cult relationships are important and a Yelamlian elf is likely to have a lot in common with a Yelmalian human. The fact that they are plants doesn't really affect the game that much. They are vegetarians (not cannibals, despite what is written in some supplements, as they don't eat other elves) and use plants as the raw materials for many of their belongings. They use Food Song to bless the soul of the plants they use, so can easily chop down trees. After all, they are to trees what humans are to cattle or pigs, in fact the relationship between Elves and other plants is similar to Foundchild and prey, or Waha Nomads and their Herd beasts.

Dwarves, or Clay Mostali are different in play. Traditional dwarves stay in their underground strongholds and never, ever venture out. If you travel to their strongholds and are not invited then you are treated as hostile and will fall prey to muskets, grenades, land mines and crossbow bolts, before you even meet a dwarf. Humans travelling to the dwarven strongholds with an invite will be treated with respect, but will generally have an escort or bodyguards. They will not be able to go anywhere in the stronghold, but are restricted to certain places. When they have finished their business, they will be encouraged to go, otherwise they will be treated as hostile.

The current view of dwarves is of almost mindless automata, devoted to the repairing of the World Machine. However, that is an idealised view, in my opinion. Dwarves have jobs to do, in the same way that humans do. They have free will and have their own desires. Sure, they are organised in gangs with foremen and job rotas, but that is no different to a Praxian nomad living in a clan or travelling with a warband.

Outside dwarven strongholds, dwarves tend to be more open than when inside. Most of these travellers are Openhandists, who have a religious obligation to trade with outsiders, trading goods, technology and ideas. They believe that doing so helps spread the knowledge to repair the world machine amongst all the peoples of Glorantha. They are normally travelling to do a job and are fairly single-minded in doing so. However, they can interact with other people to a varying extent.

Trolls, as has been said, are mummy-boy bullies. In their caves, male trolls are subservient to the females, hen-pecked and doing as they are told all the while. Troll women rule the roost and command the priesthood, the army and the clan. Trollkin are measly scrawny slaves, sometimes used as food, often punished and rarely rewarded. Attack a troll clan and every troll will fight - treat the women as the most dangerous as the men will fight to protect them. Come in peace and you need to show that you are strong and powerful. Cult enemies will likely be killed immediately. So, Yelmalians and Humakti need to be very powerful or very confident when travelling to troll clans. Cult allies will be treated with respect, so Storm Bull worshippers and darkness cultists, such as Argan Agari, will be welcome.

Outside of the troll clan, relationships change.

Very few female trolls leave the clan, as such a journey puts them in danger. When they do so, they are surrounded by bodyguards or are very powerful themselves. Dealing with them is difficult as most trolls will treat strangers as hostile until proven otherwise.

Males travelling outside the troll clan tend to make the most of it. They are bully-boys, overpowering others with their size and strength. They are full of bravado, full of their freedom, albeit temporary. They delight in battle, as it is preferable to being hen-pecked at home. Zorak Zoran warbands are the epitome of this as many are male-only, all are aggressive and tend to be met away from their home.

Dragonewts, on the other hand, are deliberately strange. They are designed to be so. I play them as enigmatic and unpredictable. A dragonewt will help a human by killing his enemy one day, then attack him the next and be friendly the day afterwards. The more advanced the dragonewt the stranger they will be. This is absolutely normal.

First of all, play the game how you want to play it. If you like noble, Tolkeinesque elves then play them that way, but throw in a little Aldryami spin now and again. Like axe-wielding viking dwarves? Fine, they belong in Glorantha, but give them grenades and repeating crossbows as well. Brutish, stupid trolls? Well, not really Gloranthan, but they fit Cave Trolls.

Get an idea of what kind of traits you want your non-humans to show, then make those traits obvious. Then vary those traits a bit when dealing with different non-humans - not all elves behave the same way, for example.

> They are almost unplayable by PC's.

Actually, they are. You just have to treat them as just another non-human race.

Again, get an idea of which traits are important to you, as a player. Get a good backstory as to why your PC is adventuring, or in the game. Work out how cult membership affects things - in my opinion the cult dynamic is the most important thing when playing non-humans. Work out how the non-human interacts with the rest of the party and how the PC's goals interact with those of the party.

In other words, play an inhuman the same way as you would any other character.

After all, which is harder to play - an Elven Yelmalian spear/bowman or a Praxian Cannibal-cult zealot shaman?

See Ya


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