Dinosaurs on Glorantha - Grokking Glorantha

"Inhabitants Dwarves, dinosaurs, and humans are the main inhabitants of Slon."

I was flipping through the pdf of The Guide to Glorantha while having lunch today and came across the above text. Which I found rather neat as I love dinosaurs and am a 30-year Glorantha newbie.

Admittedly it's difficult to be a newbie for 30 years but I've somehow managed to do so. If my recollection is correct, I first encountered RuneQuest and Glorantha for the first time in 1986, receiving the Deluxe Boxed Set version of the 3rd edition of the game as a Christmas gift. I didn't know what to expect, but had heard enough about the game to be somewhat curious.

Without an internet to guide me as to what was "wrong" with the game I was unaware that for most people RuneQuest and Glorantha were designed to be together. As I flipped through the box I found a foldout map of fantasy Europe. The box contained five main books. The first four were the Players, Magic, Game Master, and Creature books. I found it a neat system, especially with three versions of magic wielders - the shaman, the divine caster, and the sorcerer. All looked at magic in different ways. What really struck me as odd was the assumption that pretty much everyone was at the very least a very minor practitioner of magic. There was no default setting per se save for the suggestion of a fantasy version of Europe.

The final book was the Glorantha book. This was the book that detailed Glorantha. I flipped through it but didn't think much of it - for the most part, RuneQuest went back on the shelf after I digested it. The people I gamed with were primarily AD&D gamers. No biggie.

Over the years I've attempted to get into Glorantha, largely on the strength of its reputation. I checked out the HeroQuest RPG and some of its Glorantha setting supplements. To be honest though, I found myself very quickly overwhelmed. Gods left and right, cataclysms, a cube shaped world, the Lunar Empire, ducks, etc. I could see a lot that I liked but I also had the feeling I was late arriving to a party where everyone knew each other.

Let's fast forward a bit. With our Icons game going on (need to do a write-up for the previous adventure) I every once in a while noodle around with what I'd like to run next. Some GMs are really good at the 80 part campaign. I kinda wish I was one of them but there's also the temptation of the shiny new things. One good thing about being in grad school part-time is it prevents me, for the most part, from kicking off something new during the semester. But I do still like to flip through other games and mull over what might be fun in the future.

As some of my posts on domain play have indicated, I am thinking about ways in which a game where the PCs have a bigger impact on the setting than is typical. I'm not so much talking about power levels - after all, in a superhero game, characters can destroy cities. But rather in which they start off as or become movers and shakers. I've been looking at some of the obvious candidates, any of which I might make use of - ACKS, Pendragon, and A Song of Ice and Fire. I've also been working my way through a relistening of the A Song of Ice and Fire audiobooks, interspaced with other books. For whatever reason the Wildings and the Mountain Clans got my attention on this listen.

With that in mind, I got to thinking about games a bit away from the traditional medieval fantasy setting - something a bit more centered on the ancient world. Which oddly enough, brought me to Glorantha, which tends to be a bit more of a pre-medieval setting, with more Bronze Age and earlier Iron Age assumptions. ACKS is a bit like that to, assuming a late antiquity setting.

I've found myself understanding Glorantha a bit better of late as well. Having recently purchased the PDF of the RuneQuest II reprint, I finally encountered a game that both fully integrated Glorantha and made the assumption that this was your first exposure to Glorantha. As a result, the descriptions of Dragon Pass, the default starting area of Glorantha, worked very well for me as they didn't assume any other knowledge.

I might not do this sort of campaign and if I do it might not use RuneQuest and/or Glorantha. I've a soft spot for RuneQuest VI, being rebranded as Mythras and I might wind up with my own setting, with ancient world inspirations. But looking at Glorantha as it was presented upon its first release has greatly helped me understand the world, as have some of the reprints like Griffin Mountain. I'm finding those old Chaosium sourcebooks were amazingly packed with raw adventuring period - forget about for their day, even by modern standards they are amazingly dense with possibility while not steering you towards any specific plot. If nothing else, they serve as great inspirations for one's own games and I'm beginning to appreciate just how much work they do for you.

Image Credit: Image taken from rpg.net, from King of Dragon Pass video game

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