Well to kick things off, here is a copy of my post on TBP thread. It's more nostalgia than anything else:
A GLORANTHA UNLIKE ANY OTHER...
I originally started with Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, so the look of the 'World of Titan' influenced me a bit. I then wanted to get Basic D&D, but my cousin ended up convincing me to get RuneQuest instead.
I initially had the RQ2 Box Set and nothing else to go on for a year, then I had the RQ2 Companion. It would be at least two or three years before I got the Cults books (which expanded religions and cultures at the same time), or any of the official RQ2/RQ3 supplements.
So during the gap years in between, I just had to wing the entire setting.
This was the 1980s and I was a teen who lived in a regional Australian town. We were a long way from the hub of the rpg industry at that time, there was only a few groups of kids who played rpgs in the town, and we knew most of them. Things are quite different now, but back then we had to work with whatever we had.
All I had for most of that interim time to play RuneQuest was the RQ2 Box (corebook, two scenarios), and the RQ2 Companion - these books eluded to an ancient world setting, gave a bit of history, had two very evocative maps, and that's about it.
The World of Glorantha was just a bare bones setting with these books, and pretty much a canvas for me to add alot to.
So although this was a published setting, my original Glorantha was at least 70% my own homebrew ideas, which was a mish-mash of what influences were around me at the time.
I was very influenced by ancient history, as well as Sword & Sorcery, with lots of ideas ported in from a plethora of CONAN comics, as well as the old Sinbad movies. In addition to this, I was fascinated by 'The Lord of the Rings' (both the book, as well as the animated film), and I loved the Brian Froud influence in 'The Dark Crystal' and 'Labyrinth'.
Additionally as a player in other GM settings I was also exposed to Basic D&D 'Greyhawk', AD&D's 'Krynn', MERP, and Rolemaster's 'Shadow World'.
When it was time for me to GM, all these influences poured into my home brew of Glorantha
Think a bizare homebrew cross between 1980s 'Clash Of The Titans', "CONAN The Barbarian', 'Beastmaster', Ralph Bakshi' 'Lord Of The Rings', and a hobble of psuedo-feudal atmosphere influenced by Jack Vance or Fritz Leiber, that Classic Fantasy flavour. Touches of 'Dark Crystal' and 'Labryinth' as well. Even influences from the BBC series 'Robin Hood' at times. I also loved the David Lynch 'DUNE' film back then, and although it was SciFi, it also influenced my Glorantha quite a bit. Of course I was a big fan of 'Star Wars', I think some of it may have unconsciously also slipped into my Glorantha at times.
In addition to Tolkien, I was also influenced by Ursula LeGuin's "Earthsea', Terry Brooks 'Shannara', Fritz Leiber's 'Fafhrd & Gray Mouser' series, Weis & Hickman's 'Dragonlance Chronicles', and Raymond Feist's 'Magician' (which would lead into his 'Riftwar Saga' series).
My high school Ancient History textbook was used quite alot. It also was a great cover for when my parents walked in expecting to see me doing homework, and I had my Ancient History textbook sitting right there in front of me.
For Glorantha, I only had the Kerofinela (Dragon Pass) map, and the Kethaela (Holy Country) maps, which were neighbouring regions - one inland and one coastal. I had a very broad world map of Glorantha from the RQ2 corebook, but nothing was detailed. I ended up detailing alot of the cultures and regions myself, completely oblivious that the world was already detailed by the author(s).
I had lots of handwritten note books, maps, pictures stuck in from Fangora magazines and such; basically a bursting patische of everything I wanted.
Because I never had the Cults Books for Glorantha at that time, then the presence of the Deities was initially very much a background thing (which is actually the opposite of how Glorantha ticks). It slowly became more prominent once it was evident that this is how you could gain magical abilities within the setting.
The RQ2 Corebook had the Storm God, and the Darkness Goddess. The Introduction in the RQ book (as well as my cousin) told me about the Sun God, and the Earth Goddess. So I pretty much had everyone worship this one pantheon, placing a different emphasis on whichever deity depending upon the style of culture. I came across write ups for three Death Gods - Mistress of Afterlife, the War/Honour God and War/Berserker God. So these all became incorperated, with the War/Honour God worshippers being stern warriors and noble templars, almost paladins in some regions; whilst the War/Berserker God was for barbarians and evil doers and such. I eventually added the Peace/Healing Goddess once I knew about her, and that rounded the entire pantheon off.
So all cultures worshipped these gods, although some were banned in some regions, depending on the situation. I ballooned alot of their magic out beyond what I had in the core magic, and it was a very different version of Glorantha. I was aware of other deities at the time, but I just placed them as folklore, and learning an ability from one of them had to occur under the banner of one of the bigger Cults.
The PCs tended to get low-level magic from various temples, and treated them more like a bazaar at times. Once they had learnt a spell, that was generally it, they may learn a Healing spell from the Peace Goddess, or a Bladesharp from a War god willy nilly; it was something that just took the place of Feats in other games.
The Gods were portrayed very similar to the ancient Greek gods, as back then that is what I thought a fantasy pantheon should look like. However the pantheon was mainly a background canvas, in much the same way deities tend to be in vanilla fantasy settings. Not a major feature for all of my players.
I did have Sorcerers, which felt more like the villains from my CONAN comics than anything else. They also used the Rune Magic, but didn't respect the Gods so they weren't Priests. They mainly summoned the Elementals (from the core book), and I also introduced Demons (some of which was influenced by the 'Stormbringer' game my cousin had acquired).
Later on I had some players who wanted to be Sorcerers, and they ended up feeling much like the lone wizards from the Earthsea books or The Riftwar Saga (although this may have been when I bought RQ3 and it introduced a new version of Sorcery, which was different to my previous Sorcerers using Rune Magic to summon Elementals and Demons. This was probably the start of many changes to my original Glorantha homebrew).
In RQ2 corebook the Guilds seemed to play a more prominent role than the religions, so Guilds were initially very big in my Glorantha. Even smaller regions were beholden to the Guilds at times. The PCs always seemed to be in debt to the Guilds, and they may have even been on the run from certain Guilds.
My cultures were based of tidbits of lore from canon, and alot of my own invention. Looking back it was actually not bad, considering what I had to work with, and my age at the time.
The land of Esrolia was based off Ancient Greece, with the capital being like ancient Athens or Corinth. Heortland was similar to an early Franksia, and also took a lot of references from Fritz Leiber's Nehwon, with Karse being based off Lanhkmar. Like Esrolia, Sartar was also very much Ancient Greece, although Sartar's capital was based more off Sparta. The nearby plains of Prax felt like some of the arid lands I had seen in the CONAN comics, maybe Shem or something like that. The city of Pavis was originally a Tarsh colony , with Mongolian like tribes throughout the plains (some were more like Cimmerians, others were a little native american indian as well). Tarsh felt like Turan from my CONAN comics, so it was very Arabic or Moorish in my Glorantha.
We had one enduring player-character who was a Foot Barbarian from Prax, so we made him essientially a figure like Conan, except he came from arid plains rather than icy mountains. We kept retconning that character over the years to fit the ever-changing impressions we had of Glorantha. In recent times we reinvented him as a Pol-Joni Raider, which is actually not too far off this original version - he's probably the only thing that has remained constant.
I was aware of an empire to the north coming down from Peloria, the Lunar Empire. In my original setting of Glorantha, the Lunar Empire was very much a background thing and not the feature it played in my later games (RQ3+). Originally Peloria was not detailed in the books I had, so my Peloria was a desert region filled with Egyptian-like people, with a range of icy mountains above it filled with Snow Barbarians (like CONAN Cimmerians) and Trolls. The Egyptians (Lunar Empire) had taken over the Arabic region (Tarsh) and had colonies elsewhere (such as Pavis). There was also a Pharaoh in the southern regions who was a mysterious demigod in charge of both the Athenians (Esrolia) and Franksia/Nehwon (Heortland). Because of the Egyptian title of 'Pharaoh', I had him be the exiled brother of the northern Egyptian (Lunar) Emperor who was also a demigod. It could of led to some interesting possibilities.
According to the timeline, the southern Pharoah had gone missing, suspect to Eygptian (Lunar) treachery. There had also been a war with the Egyptians (Lunars) and the Spartans (Sartar). The Spartan (Sartar) captial had fallen, but recently been reclaimed by the Spartans (Sartar), and the Eygptians (Lunars) retreated for a while.
This was the recent history, so the Egyptian-Sparta (Lunar-Sartar) War was over when I first had the player-characters running around. Arabia (Tarsh) was kind of a neutral ground, and the Arabic-like city of Pavis still had an Egyptian (Lunar) garrison, but that was about it, the Egyptians (Lunars) were no longer a big presence (although I had their Emperor scheming to return one day).
Troll hordes were a big threat, and I also read about Delecti The Necromancer, so he became a Sauron-like presence from his swamp (which stood in for a damp Mordor), and he was coordinating the Trolls much like Tolkien's Sauron coordinated the Orcs. So the growing presence of Delecti the Necromancer (who was the Arch Sorcerer, and also High Priest of the Darkness Goddess) was meant to be the big background metaplot to connect the various separate scenarios I was runninng (which were often re-trapped D&D modules).
Most of the games were essientially dungeon crawls or hack and slay, and I had to allow extremely liberal use of Luck rolls to save the PCs from the harshnes of the RQ system, otherwise we would of had TPKs every week.
I had wanted to pursue my over-arching metaplot of Delecti/Sauron, but the PCs took the campaign further south and I think it derailed in the end. We moved onto other games, but I kept developing my Glorantha, altering it bit by bit as I became aware of new canon, until my original Glorantha really didn't exist anymore. By the early 1990s it had been absorbed into the Gloranthan canon that was on the shelves at that time.
So yep, my early Glorantha was a very different setting to what was being published. In my isolation from the commercial side of the rpg industry, I had completely gone down a differen path that the authors would of loved, or completely hated. I would like to think that the original creator Greg Stafford (deceased) is smiling down, chuckling to himself. I did share alot of his initial inspirations, but this train was completely off the tracks.
Overall my homebrew Glorantha turned out to be a bizarre cross between Ancient Greece meets Hyboria meets Lankhmar/Nehwon meets DUNE meets High Fantasy Europe. It all came together in an implausible crazy gonzo way that only 1970s/1980s adolescent Fantasy lovers could appreciate.
Eventually I became exposed to the real Glorantha canon, and the setting dramatically changed for me over the years. The timeline of the products was often about 5-10years earlier than the RQ2 corebook timeline, and RQ3 firmly made the default date somewhere between that. The Lunar Empire still held the Sartar capital. The Lunars became had become much more Roman-like, the Sartarites became very Celtic-like. That worked okay for well over a decade, but then didn't feel right for me. Something just started feeling a little too different to me, and I started wishing things had been more like I had envisioned in the early days.
I really didn't dig Glorantha again until the contemporary interpretation.
Glorantha has definately returned to an ancient world flavour, and I really love how it is portrayed these days. The Lunars being very Babylonian- Persian influenced, and the Sartarites feeling like Thracian-Hittiites works well for me, as does Esrolians feeling very Minoan. It certainly is very different from my original gonzo homebrew Glorantha, but it still feels like the mojo comes from the same place now.
However despite my appreciation of the current Glorantha, there is still a part of me that yearns for the loose Glorantha homebrew of my youth. It's almost like seeking out a tattered old pulp fantasy novel in second hand book stores, but never finding the one that first grabbed my attention.
It really only exists now in my mind, but yeah it was a fun place to play in