My mind runs the dry ocher covered sea bottoms of Barsoom as I continue to read and reread Burroughs’ work collecting materials for a BRP-MW based sword-and-planet game I hope to GM someday. I say ‘hope’ and ‘someday’ because the members of my game crew can be rather fickle. Once it’s served up to them, my efforts are just as likely to result in, “meh” as they are to illicit, “cool”. Seriously, the whole endeavor could turn out to be nothing more than a mental exercise. I wonder at times why I continue with it at all.
I suppose, first and foremost, I continue because John Carter and Burroughs’ Mars are cool and simply beg for RPG treatment, at testament to which can be traced in all the game designs and setting attempts made to bring the Red Planet to GMs and players.
For me, however, I suspect it goes deeper than that. As I’ve ruminated over the last few weeks, I’ve concluded that John Carter, both as a character and as a movie, resonates with me as a metaphor for this whole Chaosium/Moon Design/Greg Stafford/Glorantha/RQ/BRP/MW mash up.
Though to some, it might be a bit of a stretch, I cannot help but see parallels between BRP’s present limbo, and the uneven promotion and dismissal the movie John Carter received at the hands of some of Disney’s marketeers and executives*. The ultimate disposition of BRP and MW has yet to be revealed. Whether or not they are to be regulated to the back shelf or the dust bind is a matter of conjecture, but when what official news there is slows to a trickle or concerns itself almost exclusively with CoC, Glorantha, and Glorantha RuneQuest, what is left but to draw conclusions, even subconsciously, though we might resist trying to do so? It’s easy to doubt the advent of a long promised Chronicler’s Companion as the list of monograph selections narrow, and the latest BRP supplement, After the Vampire Wars, receives little fanfare and is offered for a paltry $100,000,000.00 :-T. I point this out not in an attempt to lay blame—a useless exercise and particularly so when much of that which has occurred is far beyond one person’s ability to control—but to underscore that the handling and promotion of BRP by Chaosium reminds me of that with which John Carter was treated and echoes, for me, present circumstances.
I also see a parallel in the loyalty of John Carter fans to their movie and in my loyalty to BRP. Though not a perfect realization, the film was done with love and care, something even a purest can respect. The Facebook page Take Me Back to Barsoom! and The John Carter Files website attest to this regard and I can’t help but be reminded of BRP Central. Long after the official light of BRP has been extinguished or relegated to obscurity, I have a feeling the few, the proud, and the stubborn will continue to hold vigil here--working up conversions, offering the fruit of faithfulness, laboring at downloads—for as long as BRP Central exists. It really doesn’t matter what those in power decide, I will continue to play, to create, to dream and remain loyal to BRP.
Finally, John Carter’s resolution inspires me. His response, “We still live!” to Dejah Thoris’s despair in the face of incredible and overwhelming odds strikes a cord in me and I cannot help but feel the stirrings of some “Virginia fighting-spirit” of my own. I want to ‘plant my flag’ and adopt a defiant no-matter-what-you-do stance despite a possible future wherein Chaosium survives but as an actively supported concern BRP and MW does not.
To what end this stand…a BRP or MW not only allowed to exist but to flourish and grow?
No…of course not. As I have said before, as the silence lengthens, the writing on the wall becomes clearer that things have obviously gone beyond the point of appeal to modify. But maybe, possibly, such a mental stand will help me and, like 9th-ray buoyancy tanks, elevate my spirits and change my attitude about the whole mess. Maybe from the strength of such resolution, I can learn to accept the inevitability of the situation, taking joy and happiness in what I can control and letting go of what I cannot. In reality, I have two bookshelves full of BRP goodness to draw upon…material to literally last the rest of my life…that should and will be enough.
So godspeed, Greg; do what you can to preserve your legacy. I envy you the chance to get your house in order and reunite Glorantha and RuneQuest under a new Chaosium to the joy of all Gloranthaphiles and Cthulhu-ites. I wish you and them luck and years of enjoyment. Long live Chaosium! Long live Runequest! Long live Glorantha! As for myself? I will return to Barsoom and continue my exploration, for despite the life-long fulfillment of your dreams, I and BRP/MW “…still live!” and we will pursue our own. “I am done.”
*Sellers, Michael D. John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood. San Bernadino: Michael Sellers, 2012.