Re: Guide to Glorantha & the Hero Wars

From: Jim G. <cainesinmyhead_at_...>
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2012 10:52:05 -0700

On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 9:38 AM, Kevin McDonald <kpmcdona_at_...> wrote:

> As for the meta-plot issue, I don't see this as any different than setting
> a game in the 2nd Age, or the re-settlement of Dragon Pass, or Starbrow's
> Rebellion or whatever. No matter when your game takes place it exists in
> the middle of an ongoing history that you should feel free to change as
> needed.

I think Kevin's remarks here are noteworthy. Essentially instances of

"metaplot" that have already happened are known by different terms, i.e.
"history" and "background". We're encouraged to tailor "history" and
"background" to our liking, and most people are comfortable doing just that
if it pleases them. Somehow disregarding metaplot elements that we don't like becomes more threatening—and it shouldn't.

Personally, I think metaplot gets a bad rap. We have seen it implemented poorly elsewhere ("Eliminister is cooler than you peons" and "Make sure you buy the next great Vampire book to get a couple new vague and ambiguous paragraphs about powerful people doing more interesting stuff than you!") I don't blame people for being uneasy. At the same time, just because it has been implemented poorly elsewhere, doesn't make the concept bad. I don't think Moon Design has to pay for the "Sins of the Father" (WOTC and White Wolf).

The key to make adventures with metaplots great is always in keeping the PCs front and center. Their roles should be prominent in everything, because the story is about them, not the NPCs. This is entirely possible with HeroQuest and Glorantha. The Colymar Campaign in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes would be an excellent example of this, if the start of the Hero Wars was 1618 and not 1621, and the rescue of Hostfaring's spirit was a triggering event. The PCs are the most important characters and they match wits with all kinds of very significant setting NPCS. Perfect example.

You can find this in other settings and game systems; like the original Enemy Within campaign for WHFRPG and Paizo Adventure Paths (particularly as they get more comfortable in changing their setting as a result of an AP's possible conclusion).

Adventures that involve the metaplot (if done correctly) fulfill many worthy goals.

1.) Playable campaign material for those who lack the time to develop their own.
2.) Playable campaign material for those who lack the confidence or experience in developing their own adventure—but still want to GM something cool and authentic for their players. This is not a crime or a fault on the part of those GM.
3.) They serve as example of how certain "Gloranthan style" adventures can be structured. Most of us cobble together a dungeon. It helps to have material like Colymar Campaign that demonstrates politics, standard adventure action, cultural interaction, heroquesting, and more politics. *Whether
you want to run that campaign or not, it is instructive.* *
This is part of something that Ron Heinsoo is referring to in his videos, particularly when he's talking about the board game Dragon's Pass, and about Sir Elthrist. The Hero Wars are different tier or style of adventure. High magic and far-reaching consequences. Even if you don't want to adopt a metaplot adventure, they're instructive on how to present something of that scale in a manner which is authentic to the setting.

I have been told by a professional game developer that the best way to improve your adventure writing is to read lots and lots of adventures. One still needs to develop your own original work, but by studying other adventures you learn quite a bit. I believe this is true for whatever setting or system you're talking about.

Finally, I think adventures that relate to the Hero Wars sound really awesome and fun.

TL/DR: Metaplots aren't automatically bad, they're just often implemented poorly. The player characters are most important. Adventures with metaplots have a lot to teach us, even if we don't use them.

Thanks for reading!

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