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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 157 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Glorantha - It's been a long time!  (Read 6237 times)
pacific_steve
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« on: September 17, 2001, 06:05:00 AM »

Well, well....once I got over my intial shock at seeing Glorantha back in tradeback format, I picked up a copy and from what little I saw of the sstem....I was stunned. This was not the Runequest I remembered!!
I first came across snatches of Glorantha when I picked up the doomed hardback (and now rare) 3rd edition from Chaosium in 1987. After plonking down $35 for the basic rules and $30 for the Monster manual, it suddenly disappeared from the shelves!
I got to grips with the rules and tried to run a game. What intrigued me most was seeing forgotten references to a place called Glorantha in the book (bad editing really). What was this thing called 'The Spike' anyway?
After inheriting a few dozen old White Dwarf mags (before it was a brazen vehicle for their minis), I discovered that Glorantha was a vast mythic world.
Well, my initial RQ campaign died a sudden death and roleplaying left my life for a long time.
In that dormant time, I did manage to pick up a stack of old RQ packs so I could se what it was all about.
The 3rd ed rules wer eunispiring. Glorantha had all but been obliterated from them and RQ had become a husk. Still, that's all I knew of it. How was I to weld the RQ system with the packs I'd bought? Truth is I never did, because the task was too daunting and life got in the way as it always does.
Anyway, my interest in the RPG has revived recently and I've picked up Hero Wars. The system looks fantastic and Glorantha is back!
Now, if only I could afford all those US$ the GTA is needing I would. But the Aussie exchange rate is not good....
Still, my support is there in spirit for this great game and this world :smile: It never received the praise it rightly deserved and I hope it fares better and longer in this incarnation.

Steve
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2001, 06:12:00 AM »

Hey Steve,

I second all your comments with great enthusiasm. I started a Hero Wars game last August, and it has run full-blast ever since. It is far and away the most effective, fun, and successful role-playing story I have EVER played long-term.

You really need to play. Glorantha finally steps into the foreground in this system, and the whole game supports the two-step process that RQ never managed:
1) Characters align themselves with gods and spirits, becoming embroiled in the religious/spiritual side of the political struggle they face. At this stage, it looks as if the characters are subordinate to the mythologies.
2) Then, their choices as PEOPLE actually overwhelm and replace the priorities of the gods and ancient myths, creating an entirely new mythology and hero cycle for the future.

Make sure and spend some time at http://www.glorantha.com, as they provide an enormous amount of support material, not least the page-full of useful Gloranthan links. E-mail them to say "thanks" too, 'cause Greg Stafford and his staff are hard-workin' indie folks.

Best,
Ron
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pacific_steve
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« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2001, 03:16:00 AM »

Hi Ron,
Yes, agreed. the RQ system was always on the clunky side. Granted, it was gritty and provided an outlet for people not wooed by D&D, but as Greg has rightly pointed out, the system did not accurately reflect the world.
Finally a game that truly generates myth! I must admit, I come from the old school of role playing, where looking at tables and gaining levels was commonplace, but that style never really satisfied me. I feel that the narrativist style of play actually suits me much better and I'm keen to give it a real go. Now to find players! That of course is the hard part...since many gamers I know are actually quite antagonistic towards anything not system heavy as D&D is.
Ron, you'll be pleased to know also, that I recenty picked up Sorcerer in hardback :smile: Wonderful !  I was surprised to see my local store stock it really! But then, they have dusty TORG tomes lying around as well....no doubt it was some spare change invested. However, I'm pleased to have picked it up and congratulate you for your efforts in the indie arena. I'm indie through and through...music, games, movies..whatever. Sure, having 3 tomes of D&D 3 on my shelf looks good, but surely nothing can beat out  great independently designed games.
So, here's to Glorantha. May Arachne Solar bless Greg and all who choose to travel within it's fantastic bounds!
Just as an odd sidenote....how exactly do you pronounce Genertela so that it doesn't sound something like 'Genitalia' ?

Regards,
Steve
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2001, 06:19:00 AM »

Hey,

"Just as an odd sidenote....how exactly do you pronounce Genertela so that it doesn't sound something like 'Genitalia' ?"

Damn good question. Maybe that's why I always went with a hard "G" for that one (Genertela, that is).

I have a question for you - which deity or place or mythic thing really grabbed you, in your early reading of the Gloranthan material?


Best,
Ron

P.S. Thanks for picking up Sorcerer! But we can talk more about that on the Sorc forum, if you'd like.
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pacific_steve
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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2001, 07:19:00 AM »

Hi,

I swear Ron, if I ever speak with Greg Stafford, that's the first thing I'm going to ask him! "So Greg..just how do you pronounce Genertela?"
I'd have to agree there...I've thought long and hard about it  and decided that the hard G is probably best. So 'GenRR-Tella'. Just so players won't say..."I'm sorry,  what about my genitals?"
Hmm...you have me thinking now...well, reading through the hardback Monster manual that Chaosium produced in 1987, I came across the Dragonsnail. I believe that the editors had forgotten to take out mention of something call 'The Spike' and Prax may even have been mentioned. I liked the sound of Prax as a place. Somehow it just got my imagination firing and so my interest was sparked due to poor editing really :smile: A Gloranthan reference slipped through and it intrigued me enough so that I went out and spent wads of cash on every RQ box supplement I could find. Further to that, deific names like Babeester Gor and Orlanth sounded very poetic. They painted a lush picture for me. Then, reading of the exploits of Storm Bulls and strange cults in early White Dwarf really fired me up.
I mean, who can resist a name like Babeester Gor? It just conjures up an image of a Fire haired  warrior! Glorantha just sounded so vast and poetic to me.
Reading Elder Secrets I was further intrigued and recognised that the notion of Chaos had actually seeped into Warhammer  well after RQ had been published. So it opened my eyes to a few things in the industry at that point. I never really understood why it was not praised more often, but Avalon Hill never really did much with it.
Anyway, enough for tonight! Yes, you've caused me to dig up some old memories :smile: What attracted you Ron, if I may ask? When was the first time you knew that Glorantha 'had you' ?

Regards,
Steve

PS...yes, I may just pop over to the Sorc forum during my readings.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2001, 08:01:00 AM »

Steve,

If you check out the "God damn it" thread on this forum, about halfway down I give kind of a compressed history of my interest in the setting.

But if we're looking for a specific moment, it had to have come upon buying Cults of Terror, in the very early 80s. I mean, all of a sudden, the Lunars seemed fascinating. The Seven Mothers stuff in Cults of Prax was so obviously a missionary fringe cult that I'd wondered about the "real stuff" among Lunar citizens, and now in Cults of Terror, we see the vile Crimson Bat bastards ... it just made me really interested in what the Empire folks were like at home.

The zen influence on the game-world, in the god/devil of Nysalor/Gbaji, also made sense, as it provided much depth to Chaos. It didn't surprise me that the hints in the setting material suggested that the Red Goddess had met Rashoran and Nysalor during her apotheotic heroquesting. So all the way back in 1983 or so, I was scribbling out ideas for game sessions that really questioned the fundamental assumption that "chaos is bad."

And yes, that means I'm still waitin' for Issaries to pound out that Lunar sourcebook. The material in Hero Wars and Glorantha is excellent, but now that I've seen what the detail in Thunder Rebels/Storm Tribes can bring to a game, I really want the equivalent for my favorite "here to civilize you and accept your thanks for it" empire.

Best,
Ron
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pacific_steve
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2001, 04:44:00 PM »

Hey,

I think one of the things that strikes me as most prominent and interesting in Glorantha is the whole analysis of cultural difference and historical perspective. No doubt the Lunars are seen as something of a scourge by many Praxian natives, but there are definite cultural grey areas that are being explored. Indeed, it has been made quite clear that the Lunars, like all other societies in Glorantha have their own unique place in the world and that the concept of right and wrong are too simplistic to apply.
One of the things I detested most about earlier (and even later) systems is the use of the alignment system to limit the behaviour of a player. Upon reading RQ3 I discovered that the concept of a character can be so much more than 'Class/Level' restrictions.
As you suggest, Chaos is not necessarily 'bad' in the way that conventional Paladins might view the world and there's something quite appealing in that notion that goes beyond many other game experiences.
HeroQuesting is another aspect I enjoy. Much like the VisionQuests of the Native Americans, the experience is designed to enrich a culture through contact with 'The Other' realm. I like this because I have a great interest in Shamanic tradition and the concept of communing with ancestral memory and Deity figures. When I picked up 'King of Sartar' I was wholly fascinated by the image of Arkat being transformed into Uz. It's that mythic foundation that is not so totally alien from our own world that I find so appealing about Glorantha.
Along with Tekumel and Middle Earth, Glorantha may indeed go down as one of the most detailed fantasy worlds around.

Regards,
Steve
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2001, 07:48:00 AM »

Hey,

Well ya see, here's the interesting thing: "detailed setting," in role-playing, is often a knell of doom to the Narrativist-oriented sort like me. Yet Glorantha is one of the few exceptions.

I'll develop this idea through some oblique angles.

ONE
I like to draw a distinction between fantasy fiction that GENERATES a cool map, and that which BEGINS with a cool map. The former (Leiber, Howard, LeGuin, Moorcock, etc) inspires someone to map the world because of the cool events & stories; the latter (Eddings, Feist, Jordan, Friedman) sets up a schedule for where all the characters will travel, in lieu of actually addressing any kind of story.

In role-playing, I have discovered that the more detail given to the geography, culture, and history of a fantasy world, the more the role-playing activity takes on aspects of the latter group of fiction and less of the former.

TWO
Published metaplot takes point #1 an order of magnitude farther - the more the "world story" is written and CONTINUED by the game authors, the less and less it does so by the role-players. Plenty of RPG publishers have long passed the point at which buying and reading the supplements provides more story than the role-players can ever hope to achieve.

THREE
So - how in the world does Glorantha, in its Hero Wars incarnation, end up being such a fine Narrativist engine? It would seem to be cursed by #1 and #2 above to head down the route of Earthdawn or Warhammer (or, to cross genres, the World of Darkness, and L5R).

My call is that Glorantha is being presented in a very different way. To take #2 first, the world-plot is NOT SECRET, to be revealed unto the players in a publisher to GM, GM to players way. Not at all. Instead - and I certainly hope that Issaries makes this clearer, ultimately - everyone should know that the Hero Wars are going to DESTROY the magical/god influence of the world.

Argrath's apotheosis is actually the doom of the gods, the sealing-off point of their direct impact on the world, establishing them for good and all as a set of principles, not personalities, to be addressed, not worshipped. What remains is exactly what player-characters, if they become and act as Heroes, are establishing.

So in many ways, the detail and richness of Glorantha (#1 above) is best perceived as a mine of source material, specifically there to "ground" the heroes' origins, but NOT to constrain them regarding the decisions they must make, the roles they will take on, and ultimately, their impact on the real story - which is THEIRS, not dictated by Issaries at all. The world isn't there just to roam and marvel at; it's there to transform as the players see fit.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Best,
Ron
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Ben Morgan
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2001, 05:19:00 PM »

One of the things that has worked extremely well for me when attempting to deal with any game with an established metaplot, is to throw it out entirely.

This has worked for Vampire (in fact, the one reference I did make to a character in a published book was because I broke my own rule and was not properly prepared for the moment, and was scrambling for a name; and now I'm regretting it), and it's working for our group in L5R as well (I bought the Second Edition, and you know what? I don't much like it, system changes or background update). I tend to keep whatever parts of the "official" history I like (usually most of it), but toss out anything that ostensibly happens "after the first rulebook is published." With Vampire, this gets to be a sticky situation, because of what they did with Dark Ages (and now Victorian Age, as well).

As long as the players are informed of this decision, it usually isn't a problem. Of course, there's always that one guy that has to complain that his character doesn't work in this game world, because Absimiliard is their brother, or Etrius is supposed to owe them a favor, or some such nonsense, but in my experience, if you've got one of these guys in your group, you've got bigger problems than simply dealing with metaplot issues (how's that for elitist?). :smile:

Of course, the main point goes back to Ron's "System Does Matter" article, and I suppose that there could be a corollary to this: "Setting Does Matter". If WW had bothered to actually give us the right tools to work with -- there's what, maybe half a paragraph explaining the function of coterie charts (the proto-relationship-map) -- instead of publishing volume upon volume of what I can only assume is the result of transcripts of someone's ongoing campaign, (with most of the useful game material carefully excised), maybe they'd have a game that lived up to the dignity that they tried to infuse in the afterword (I so desperately want to believe everything that the WW guys have written about RPGs expanding your mind and all that, the problem is that I seriously doubt that they believe it). Yeah, I can make any game playable by throwing out all the metaplot and making my own world history, but how much better could the game be if I could just skip that step, and concentrate on geting the PCs into the middle of a great story with some stunning background material already in place?

The more I hear about Hero Wars, the more I like it. I'd bought a copy of RQ a while ago, and thought it a little dry, and the fact they they spend a big chunk of the book talking about a hypothetical pre-civilization Earth as a setting and then switch to Glorantha halfway through kind of put me off, not to mention Strike Ranks.

I know there will be many of you out there who will say "Are you completely thick? What are you waiting for? Go buy it now!"

So I think I will.

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-----[Ben Morgan]-----[ad1066@gmail.com]-----
"I cast a spell! I wanna cast... Magic... Missile!"  -- Galstaff, Sorcerer of Light
wizardattic
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« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2001, 03:15:00 PM »

Just a quick note.

Genertela. The G is like g in get. All vowels are soft.

Cheers,

Eric Rowe
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pacific_steve
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« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2001, 06:02:00 AM »

Thanks :smile: That explains it! That's pretty much how I've been saying it. Use the hard G and let the rest roll off the tongue. That way all Glorantha GMs can be spared embarrassment and confusion :smile:

Steve
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