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About Gallowglass

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  • RPG Biography
    I've been into tabletop RPG's since college, mostly D&D, with some other systems and story games along the way. Typically I am the GM for my group. I occasionally write about and review games about my blog, Castle Mordrigault. I've also done some freelance game writing for End Transmission Games, and Menagerie Press.
  • Current games
    I don't get to play as often as I would like, but most recently I have run campaigns for 5th edition D&D in the Planescape setting, and for Unknown Armies 3rd edition.

    My current game of Runequest: Glorantha takes place among the newly reforged Dundealos Tribe, and follows a Sartarite clan of my own creation struggling to rebuild and survive the challenges of the Hero Wars.
  • Location
    Western Massachusetts
  • Blurb
    I am interested in gaming, fiction, history and mythology.

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  1. I'm seeing a lot of interest in the people of the Holy Country (Caladralanders, Kitori, Esrolians). This is definitely one of my favorite regions simply because it so densely packed with weird cultures that would each play very differently from one another. Hopefully we'll see some RQG material in the next few years that gives it even more depth. On the subject of the Kitori, in our campaign my PC's recently liberated some Ergeshi slaves from the Sambari tribe. These are Kitori who have been isolated from their kin for generations, so now they want to be adopted into the PC's clan rather than return to the Troll Woods. The players haven't made up their minds if this is a good idea yet, but I hope they go for it because then I'll have various excuses to make trouble for them later.
  2. Among the Elder Races, these are the ones I've put the most thought into for running a campaign. You could set up some good sandbox adventures in either the Marthino Sea (war with the Malasp), or the Mournsea (lots of sunken ruins to explore). Also, the Sea Pantheon is huge and has a lot of cool mythology associated with it. Much of it is grim and depressing but I appreciate that about it.
  3. That's probably worth it's own post, but I do have my favorites among the Elder Races. I would say that every "Orlanthi" culture definitely has it's own thing going on. I've spent a fair bit of time investigating the traditions of Oranor and Jonatela for example, and after a while they start to feel very different from Dragon Pass Heortlings. I think the "Major Cultures" section of the Guide is basically describing those Holy Country/Sartar Heortlings as an illustrative example though, and I still find them interesting in spite of the fact that they are somewhat overplayed at this point. Fair point about the Westerners. I think among purist Malkioni, Loskalm is a better region to build a campaign from, at least if your players are Men-of-All. With Seshnela I was actually under the impression that all castes can use sorcery if a person is semi-literate, it's just that the teaching and research of new spells is heavily controlled and restricted by the zzaburi. Right with you there, if I ever did run a campaign in Fonrit, it would probably be centered around Gabaryanga's uprising. Although, again, it kind of bothers me that the official Hero Wars plot for everything related to Fonrit is, "decadence, corruption, Chaos, slavery, everyone dies horribly, etc."
  4. The Guide to Glorantha was my first introduction to the setting. I thought the early section on major cultures was a good way to start the book, and it made a strong impression on me. Right away I had a good sense of which cultures I would be interested in playing, or organizing a campaign around. In fact, pretty much as soon as I had finished that section I had them all ranked in my head from most interesting to least. Once I had finished the Guide, I had a much deeper understanding of each culture, but my rankings didn't change much. My criteria for a culture being "interesting" include: Playability - How easy would it be build an adventuresome campaign around a community in this culture? Diversity - How much does the culture vary in different areas, or is it monolithic? Uniqueness - How cool and weird and different from our historical cultures are these people? Please note that I actually find all the cultures of the setting fun and interesting, way more so than most other fictional worlds. I just think it's fun to make lists. So, here is my ranking for the 8 cultures presented in the Guide, from what I see as most interesting to least - Western - The Westerners are definitely my favorite, and I think they win for being the most unique. I love their strange religion with it's Neo-Platonic roots, and their humanistic worldview which is not shared by any other people in Glorantha. The different sects of the Malkioni faith make for some interesting diversity within the culture, as does the caste system for the Seshnelans. It's hard to say how "playable" Westerners actually would be, since there is very little material provided for playing them as written in the Guide. However, I feel like there is plenty of opportunity for adventure and epic conflict in the West, especially around Loskalm and Ralios. Definitely would not try to run a Brithini campaign though. Hsunchen - Upon first reading the early section on the Hsunchen, I found them interesting, but not overly exciting. As I continued to read the Guide, I realized that the Hsunchen are probably the most diverse Gloranthan culture. Each totem animal has it's own associated tribe with wildly differing lifestyles and traditions. Even though they are all classified as "primitive," some are basically herders, some known for being powerful magicians, and some of them build empires. I also love how weird some of the different tribes are, including mammoth herders, hyper-sexual skunk people, and blood-drinking were-bats. I think the Hsunchen lifestyle is also naturally inclined towards questing and adventure, although maybe not too far from the home range. Orlanthi - Although the Orlanthi are sort of Glorantha's "default" or "vanilla" campaign option, I really do think they have a lot going for them. Tribal cultures are, in my opinion, the most playable. The instability of their political system, and their traditions of heroism, make it really easy to build adventures around this culture. And while they might at first seem to be a cultural monolith in Glorantha, a closer look reveals that this is not at all true. Even within Sartar, the different tribes can have a very different feel to them. It's also hard to deny just how deep and well-developed Orlanthi culture and religion is, since it has basically been the main focus for Runequest and Heroquest material for the last few decades (and continues to be a major focus in RQG). Praxian - I just really like the idea of warlike nomads that ride anything that's not a horse. But beyond that, I feel like the Praxians are very diverse, playable, and plenty weird enough. They also benefit from having tons of stuff written about them over the years. Doraddi - I like the Doraddi for many of the same reasons that I like the Orlanthi, in fact I think they have a lot of similarities. Their social structure is vaguely similar, many of their gods have similar roles to one another, and it's easy to create stories out of their many cultural minutiae (feuds, taboos, rituals, quests, etc.). They also have enough diversity between the major plains regions that they stay interesting. I do think however that southern Pamaltela is not as well-developed in the Guide as it could be. Pelorian - I wasn't terribly impressed with the Pelorians in the early section of the Guide. I think they are, in some ways, the least playable culture (at least the Dara Happans). This is due mainly to their staunch conservatism, arrogance, and patriarchal tendencies. However, once I read the Lunar Empire section and read up on all the other cultures that are technically "Pelorian," I grew much more enamored with them. You have the Rinliddi, Pelandans, Alkothi, Darjiini, the list goes on and on. I also think the Solar pantheon is arguably the largest and most complex of all the theistic religions, and that scores them some points. Fonritian - I love many things about the Fonritians, but the overwhelming focus on the tradition of chattel slavery is a big turnoff for me. There are plenty of fascinating things about their religion, history, and culture as written, but I just don't think I would ever find a group of players who would want to explore a setting where the most brutal form of slavery is so normal and accepted. In other words, I find them basically unplayable. Kralori - I rate them lowest because I feel like they lack much of what makes the other cultures exciting. Pretty much all of the others are a blend of different historical groups plus "a whole lot of weird stuff." To me, the Kralori seem to be basically a fantastical version of Han China. My criticisms mostly center on Kralorela and Vormain, I actually find the Kingdom of Ignorance, Teshnos and the East Isles to be quite fascinating. I'm curious to hear what other people think, or to see how other people would rank their favorites. I also acknowledge that there are many other cultures that don't fit neatly into the "Big Eight," like the Pentans, the Yggites, the Maslo, and many others that deserve honorable mention. I just figured it would be easier to focus on the major ones.
  5. Thanks this gives me a lot to work with. I may try to pick one specific part of the quest that my players can assist with. I've specifically told the players that the clan has no Lhankor Mhy worshipers, so divination is probably going to involve entrails. I also think 1626 would definitely be an "ill-favored" year, given the death of Kallyr Starbrow and the general chaos that follows.
  6. So, my current RQG campaign is entering Sacred Time 1625, and it takes place around a Dundealos clan in Sartar. So far I haven't gone into any detail with describing worship rituals and what they actually entail, and I figured Sacred Time would be the right time for it. What myths are traditionally reenacted at Sacred Time? For Orlanthi is it always the Lightbringers Quest? And if so, can a small, poor clan perform it as a simple ceremony, or does it have to be a heroquest? My players include an Orlanth warrior, an Issaries merchant, and a Praxian shaman of Daka Fal who was adopted into the chieftain's household. I don't plan on turning the worship rituals into a big adventure, but I figure they can all play some part or another, since two are clearly Lightbringer gods, and Daka Fal could be a stand-in for Flesh Man. Anyway, our next session is on Friday, so any advice for storytelling Sacred Time would be helpful.
  7. Okay, so you're saying the "King of the West" from the Takenegi Stele is not necessarily the same person as the one depicted in the Pictoglyphs. That sort of makes things easier to explain without having every major Western nation united into one kingdom over just a few decades. I think I got a little confused after reading the Glorantha wiki page on the King of the West.
  8. I guess that could be an option. My interpretation of the Pictoglyphs 13-17 was that it described King Guilmarn fighting against the Arkats in Ralios. He then dies, but his crown (the Serpent Crown) is taken up by another, who I assume to be the King of the West described in other places. So if the KotW is from Loskalm, that's one kingdom, and Seshnela must be another one since it's the Serpent Crown, and he's "coupling" with the Snake Goddess, who I guess would be Seshna Likita. The third kingdom could be Akem, Safelster, Arolanit or maybe even Brithos.
  9. So the King of the West is likely from Loskalm, maybe even Meriatan or King Gundreken? The Black Dragon Mountain Pictoglyphs describe a king receiving a crown from three kingdoms. So by 1644, the King has taken control of Seshnela (Serpent Crown), Loskalm, and a third kingdom? And still gets defeated by the Red Emperor, ouch.
  10. Hello everyone, this is my first post on the forums. Ever since I initially read the Guide to Glorantha I have been fascinated by the region of Fronela. It features a diverse mix of cultures, and some epic happenings centered around the conflict between Loskalm and the Kingdom of War. However, the Guide is set in 1621 (I believe?), and it only offers vague hints about what will happen in the region over the next few years, and beyond. The clues I can gather from the Guide are as follows - - On p. 202 of the Guide they mention the KoW conquering Junora, and many different groups joining the Warlords as mercenaries. - On p. 318 in the Lunar Empire chapter, there is a section describing events in the empire in detail up to 1630. This includes Carmania declaring independence and "coming to the aid of the Arrolian Properties against Loskalm." It also mentions Charg being set free from the Syndic's Ban in 1628. - On p. 744 in the Takenegi Stele, the text describes the Red Emperor marching against the "King of the West" who had "oppressed the Arrolian Properties." It then claims that he destroyed the Western armies, and took tribute from Sog City and the Bear Kings (Jonatings?). I have also read this document on the Kingdom of War, which is interesting but doesn't tell me much about what will happen there in the future. https://www.glorantha.com/docs/kow/ Putting all of that together, the picture I'm getting is that after 1621, Loskalm and the Kingdom of War clash. Over the next few years, the Loskalmi apparently win the war, or otherwise contain their enemies. They then expand for some reason and take control of the Arrolian Properties. Then the Carmanians intervene in 1630. Somewhere between then and 1644, the following events occur: Carmania is brought back under the Empire's control by a new Red Emperor (Phargentes the Younger I think?), Loskalm becomes part of the dominion of the mysterious "King of the West," and the king and his armies are then likely destroyed by the Lunars. What happens after that is a mystery indeed. I have a lot of questions here. What actually happened with the Kingdom of War? Why would Loskalm try to conquer the Arrolian Properties? Is the King of the West actually from Loskalm, or some other place like Seshnela or Ralios? If he is a foreigner, how did he take control of Loskalm in such a short time? Any additional insights would be helpful. I have a lot of ideas for setting campaigns in Fronela, but I would like to have a better idea of the larger events taking place in the region's history before I run any games there.
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