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Gallowglass

Sartar politics in 1626

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7 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Nor do I want to play only "low level clan stuff".聽 Say our PCs go to battle of Queen's, and we all Crit our Battle rolls.聽 Does Kallyr still automatically lose?聽 Makes you wonder why you even bother.聽 馃檪

Well, I'm pretty sympathetic to the Kallyrist position, personally, but I guess my thought is that the assumptions of both RuneQuest and HeroQuest play are that you start out as at best a local somebody and being in a position where your personal battle skills can change the outcome of the Battle of the Queens requires that you be at least important enough to be in Kallyr's bodyguard, or perhaps commanding an element of the Sartarite force. So in that sense, saving Kallyr on PC efforts alone is something where聽you'd want to be starting playing around the time of classic RuneQuest modules so that you can be famous enough to be in command and close up the ranks at the right moment to catch the teleporting assassins, when the Battle of the Queens hits.聽

So I don't know if there's really a good solution without (first-party or third-party) materials that provide a means to create an "advanced start", or more (almost certainly third-party) materials that help produce a campaign that starts in, say, 1618 or 1620, or (definitely third-party) materials that provide a sense of "this is what could happen if things go another way".聽

And of course, if Kallyr survives the Battle of the Queens, then perhaps we go to the timeline I personally interpreted from King of Sartar when I first read it, where Kallyr ends up highly dependent on Argrath White Bull and the Wolf Pirates, ends up dying in a suspicious string of circumstances involving Gunda and Harrek and Argrath, and then we have a situation which forks off but then returns fairly neatly back into the likely RQ Campaign timeline by 1630.聽聽But I do think that the RQ Campaign timeline is helpful for constructing these alternate possibilities, so that you can say, "Well, if Kallyr is the Argrath of Sartar, then there's still X Y Z things happening around Sartar, how does she react to them," etc.聽

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The central tenet of my gaming philosophy is "play to find out what happens," which rather flies in the face of the idea of using a predetermined timeline or plot. To answer Joerg's question, the kind of content I'd like to see is setting books that describe an area and the people there (The Coming Storm is a great example) or scenarios/adventures that have a setup and inciting event, but no written conclusion. Sure, you can say you could ignore a pre-written conclusion, but it's always going to be there, coloring your play.聽

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48 minutes ago, Lysus said:

The central tenet of my gaming philosophy is "play to find out what happens," which rather flies in the face of the idea of using a predetermined timeline or plot. To answer Joerg's question, the kind of content I'd like to see is setting books that describe an area and the people there (The Coming Storm is a great example)

Then how do you like the companion volume The Eleven Lights which has some pre-determined timeline events, like the coming of the Crimson Bat or the Windstop?

48 minutes ago, Lysus said:

or scenarios/adventures that have a setup and inciting event, but no written conclusion.

That makes it pretty impossible to provide you with a campaign other than a sandbox that only changes through player character intervention. How can you publish a scenario that is dependent on some bits in the previous scenario if those bits are likely not to occur in the open-ended resolution?

After two or three previous scenarios, you might have to address opponents as "worst suriviving antagonist of the previous scenarios", risking that no antagonist survived the interaction with the player characters.

48 minutes ago, Lysus said:

Sure, you can say you could ignore a pre-written conclusion, but it's always going to be there, coloring your play.聽

And that's bad because... ?

6 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

More seriously, here's an idea: how about enough material to actually play a group of Lunars?聽

Easy peasy - take the Lunar Coders from Strangers in Prax and hand them to your players.

Oh, you mean playing in the Lunar Empire?

Or in a real Sartarite tribe, as opposed to the tribes that don't belong to any city confederation?

Not even the Red Cow campaign touches anything that goes on in Jonstown. Sure, there are plenty of things to happen in that village.

When I asked "why the Colymar again", I was told that playing with the Colymar reduces the amount of interaction to a level where an introductory campaign can provide the info that the GM is likely to need. I am (almost) holding my breath for how the Jonstown confederation is going to be presented in the starter set.

The problem here is that that setting is complex, and requires a lot of preparation by the GM to be represented adequately. The Gloranthan community has struggled with the task of providing background material that can be picked up by a GM without a degree in Gloranthan exegesis from a bunch of official and fan publications and then be given to the players who have even less of an idea what goes on in the Lunar Empire.

Yes, I think that playing a team of Dart Competitors in a struggle between Lunar houses would be fun, could have epic magical interactions and lots of heroquesting.

The problem is that I don't have enough information to run something like that without doing a deep study of the info we have on the Lunars.

You don't want the players to start as agents for the leading houses. Except maybe house Assiday, now that it has sunk a fortune into the New Lunar Temple that served as hors聽d'艙uvre聽for the Brown Dragon. Playing an agent for the Eel-Ariash might be frustrating in light of having to compete with Jar-eel, or just running errands for her.

Playing a White Moonie campaign might be interesting, but is effectively another underdog vs. overpowering opposition in a pre-determined outcome setting.

You could grab the old RQ3 Monster Colliseum supplement, place it in a major Lunar city (Mirin's Cross has seen quite a bit of description), and start a Spartakus (TV series) pastiche there, with the slave rebellion only as an unlikely聽option and entering the local nobility as dart competitor the more likely sequel. You can leave your players (and indeed the GM) in the dark about the greater plans of the masters of the house and just generate one black ops after another, with some defense against hostile black ops interspersed. Voila, Shadowrun Glorantha with the Lunar Empire as a setting.

6 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

RQG is really "Runequest in Sartar", and I understand Chaosium can't do everything, but really fleshing out the "opposition" seems a good next step.

The trolls are a kind of opposition, and they are on the horizon. Probably in a Sartarite context again, I guess, at least for the "humans in troll regions" book.

Presenting this elder race is less work than presenting even a single Lunar city with all the factions taking an interest there.

6 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I think many players would enjoy playing Lunars, either just to be different than the Orlanthi they typically play, or because of the appeal of a more "modern" tone with corrupt backstabbing rivals, clueless bureaucrats, secretive intelligence organizations, etc.聽 Our group loved playing Lunars (our own system) for many years.

While my games didn't advance enough to have Lunar player characters in the Orlanthi parties, Lunar backstabbing went hand in hand with Orlanthi backstabbing in those games.

If you have your idea of a Lunar setting, why don't you write up some of your experiences in a RQG or HQG context and prepare that for the Jonstown Compendium? You'll find people to aid you with some of the work.聽

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I think there is something that "vieux grognards" (a canadian fool barbarian term I mean ;) )聽 have to keep in mind and another for the "marie-louises" (the opposite : young men from the last Napoleon army)

"vieux grognards" : Glorantha is rich, very very rich. So rich that it is a heavy weight for a lot of people (not all, off course) And then, you can find a GM's desire to not disturb the world, not go in a "wrong" direction. This desire may become聽 an obstruction (to creativity, to decision, ..) just because they respect too much the world.

"marie-louise" : your players succeed to save Kallyr ? Don't care for the next campaign, change some names, skip a scenario, adapt another one, etc... keep in mind what the step 4 highlight: suicide squad to help Argath, transfom that in suicide squad to help Kallyr.

I succeed to manage in third age a campaign designed in second age with few changes like that godlearner = lunar (because sorcery) so ewf = orlanthi (for example). What the godlearner can fly and the vessel is a main topic of a scenario ? well moon boat, or change with just "boat on the river" don't care, the highlight is not they fly, the highlight is "how to go to their vessel"

but it is clear the harder part of RQG HQ etc is聽 the PC are not average characters, they are people who will change a predefined world.

No issue with timeline about harreck, argrath, kallyr, jar eel if you meet them once or twice in your life and your acts cannot alterate their fate. Big issue if you are "the key piece" of their play

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34 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

No issue with timeline about harreck, argrath, kallyr, jar eel if you meet them once or twice in your life and your acts cannot alterate their fate. Big issue if you are "the key piece" of their play

What I liked about the King of Sartar book was that it gave you the whole history (yes, the whole end of the 3rd Age is already out there and has been for a long time!), but suggests that people can get the "facts" incorrect.聽 Did Kallyr die in 1626 or was she killed by Harrek around 1628?聽 Was there one Argrath, or two, or many?聽 I think there's plenty of flexibility here for GM's.

There are some fixed points out there: the Battle of Queens, the Battle of Heroes where the overall outcome is known/defined... But who the actors are and what the results are within can still see shifts to accommodate most campaigns.聽

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1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

some fixed points out there

And if you don't like them it's not like the canon police is going to show up at your gaming table and arrest you if your Glorantha varies. I honestly can't see the problem, for the reasons others have articulated above.

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I've been thinking about making a thread dedicated to "What If?" scenarios of Glorantha. My personal one is "What if Genert survived the God Time?". That's obviously a very big change that would probably alter events to the almost unrecognizeable (or not - this isn't the thread for speculation on that), but I'm sure others here have more specific, close-to-home events, like what if Kallyr Survived the Battle of the Queens, what if the Lunars consolidated Sartar, what if Argrath chose some other tactic, etc. etc.聽

I think several of those might make very interesting Jonstown Library products, although I don't really play so I might be wrong.

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On 1/25/2020 at 12:25 PM, Joerg said:

Then how do you like the companion volume The Eleven Lights which has some pre-determined timeline events, like the coming of the Crimson Bat or the Windstop?

That makes it pretty impossible to provide you with a campaign other than a sandbox that only changes through player character intervention. How can you publish a scenario that is dependent on some bits in the previous scenario if those bits are likely not to occur in the open-ended resolution?

After two or three previous scenarios, you might have to address opponents as "worst suriviving antagonist of the previous scenarios", risking that no antagonist survived the interaction with the player characters.

And that's bad because... ?

I didn't care for The Eleven Lights nearly as much as The Coming Storm, no. While it's not quite as rigid as the Colymar Campaign published in the HQ2 ETA books (I don't recall whether it was in S:KoH or SC), it's definitely less flexible than I'd like. The interactions with Argrath surrounding the Eleven Lights themselves stand out in that regard.聽

Regarding my preferences making it difficult to publish a campaign, I'd agree. That's content that I'm only interested in to the extent that I can mine it for setting elements. Trying to run something with a plot feels like wearing a straitjacket and playing in a game like that feels even worse, like nothing I do actually matters. It strips away my agency as both a GM and a player, suffocating the fun I'd otherwise be having. Sandboxes are my favorite kind of campaign for this reason, and I think there's plenty of places in Glorantha that could support great sandbox play, but it's really hard to do with the Hero Wars timeline as it exists. Either I follow it and give up my agency or I reject it and essentially remove anything like it as a possibility which feels like cutting something plausible out of the potential directions the campaign could go.聽

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1 hour ago, Lysus said:

Regarding my preferences making it difficult to publish a campaign, I'd agree. That's content that I'm only interested in to the extent that I can mine it for setting elements. Trying to run something with a plot feels like wearing a straitjacket and playing in a game like that feels even worse, like nothing I do actually matters. It strips away my agency as both a GM and a player, suffocating the fun I'd otherwise be having. Sandboxes are my favorite kind of campaign for this reason, and I think there's plenty of places in Glorantha that could support great sandbox play, but it's really hard to do with the Hero Wars timeline as it exists. Either I follow it and give up my agency or I reject it and essentially remove anything like it as a possibility which feels like cutting something plausible out of the potential directions the campaign could go.聽

Speaking from a potential author's point of view, what can be fed to you would be scenarios that don't have recurring antagonists, and that in the end have no consequence to the world except to your players, and whatever narrative you as a GM have to make out of that.

Do you like your sandboxes with a current political situation (and possibly a year number attached), or would you prefer a rather imprecise temporal context? Would it be fine with you to place a scenario into the past of your gazetteer information, or is that a straitjacket, too?

Creating a sandbox of inconsequential encounters is rather easy. Inconsequential as in it doesn't matter how the outcome is, the next scenario won't change from that. (Though, where does such an approach enable player agency?)

Making previously encountered antagonists or helpers memorable and recurring characters would be the job of the GM.

How would one present an antagonist who develops to your kind of sandbox? Give the antagonist a number of goals, perhaps each with a number of means to achieve those goals and possible setback options that may involve the player characters?

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On 1/26/2020 at 8:53 PM, Sir_Godspeed said:

I've been thinking about making a thread dedicated to "What If?" scenarios of Glorantha. My personal one is "What if Genert survived the God Time?".

If you want to go completely crazypants, play out an eight-player game of The Gods War and use that at the history. 馃檪

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42 minutes ago, Akh么rahil said:

If you want to go completely crazypants, play out an eight-player game of The Gods War and use that at the history. 馃檪

That's a pretty good idea. Someone with the funds to buy that game try and give us some kind of narrated After-Action-Report of it and let's extrapolate from there!

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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Someone with the funds to buy that game try and give us some kind of narrated After-Action-Report of it and let's extrapolate from there!

I was in a PbF Gods War game over on boardgamegeek with all 8 players, Elder Races, the Brown Dragon, Cwim, and Androgeus.聽 Darkness, who had allied the dwarves, gained the victory, just edging out Earth (played by myself) and Sea, who were tied for 2nd.聽 Sky and Invisible God were tied for the next spot and not far behind. Chaos and Moon came next, and Storm was last.聽 A very different outcome!

Not only did Darkness control most of Hell, but also both the Gates of Dawn and Dusk, but also Luathela and Umathela, the Worm Sea, the Brown Sea, and Vormain.聽

Earth held Genert's Garden, Kralorela, Artmal's Empire, and had planted an earthly garden in the Heavens, but both the Titans were alive and well defended by Axe Maidens. 聽

Chaos controlled Seshnela and Jrustela, and their Luathan allies had devastated both Ralios and Teshnos. Plus there were a number of chaos nests about and both Ragnaglar and Thed lived.

Sea actually held very little territory, but had drowned Dara Happa.聽 Moon controlled Fronela and Fonrit only. Both Yelm and the Emperor lived, but they only held the Sea of Fog and Sshorg's Sea, so the only light was upon the far eastern seas.聽 Orlanth held Altinela, the Storm Brothers were far away in Ganderland, but there were temples to the Winds in Teleos and the Middle Air.

If it had played out another turn, likely both Chaos and Storm would have surged farther ahead, but the Compromise was reached, so it left a Glorantha filled with shadows, where Chaos stalked the northern lands, and Storms lurked at the edges of the world.

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19 hours ago, Joerg said:

Speaking from a potential author's point of view, what can be fed to you would be scenarios that don't have recurring antagonists, and that in the end have no consequence to the world except to your players, and whatever narrative you as a GM have to make out of that.

Do you like your sandboxes with a current political situation (and possibly a year number attached), or would you prefer a rather imprecise temporal context? Would it be fine with you to place a scenario into the past of your gazetteer information, or is that a straitjacket, too?

Creating a sandbox of inconsequential encounters is rather easy. Inconsequential as in it doesn't matter how the outcome is, the next scenario won't change from that. (Though, where does such an approach enable player agency?)

Making previously encountered antagonists or helpers memorable and recurring characters would be the job of the GM.

How would one present an antagonist who develops to your kind of sandbox? Give the antagonist a number of goals, perhaps each with a number of means to achieve those goals and possible setback options that may involve the player characters?

I think the first paragraph there is a rather uncharitable reading of my position - I'm not asking for a picaresque of largely unconnected encounters. If I'm using a system where I might be rolling random encounters, one of the key things to do is to make changes to the world (including encounter tables) based on what has happened in the campaign.聽

I definitely prefer scenarios with a strong sense of time and place, but I despise metaplot. What I'd want is content set in many different locales but all at roughly the same time. That way I can make changes to other scenarios based on what my players have done before they encounter them. I don't know if you're familiar with Apocalypse World's Fronts mechanic, but I find that it works wonderfully for clarifying what's important, thinking about how things are likely to change (especially if the PCs don't intervene), and pushing the song forward in a way that makes it feel alive.聽

This plays into your last point - an antagonist's goals are one of the central things I'm going to use to create a Front and what I use to update that Front after the PCs get in the way. As Fronts resolve, it's time to bring in new antagonists with new goals. The number of active threats varies but I usually want it to be high enough that the PCs aren't comfortable but low enough that they don't feel completely overwhelmed.聽

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36 minutes ago, Lysus said:

I think the first paragraph there is a rather uncharitable reading of my position - I'm not asking for a picaresque of largely unconnected encounters. If I'm using a system where I might be rolling random encounters, one of the key things to do is to make changes to the world (including encounter tables) based on what has happened in the campaign.聽

I definitely prefer scenarios with a strong sense of time and place, but I despise metaplot. What I'd want is content set in many different locales but all at roughly the same time. That way I can make changes to other scenarios based on what my players have done before they encounter them. I don't know if you're familiar with Apocalypse World's Fronts mechanic, but I find that it works wonderfully for clarifying what's important, thinking about how things are likely to change (especially if the PCs don't intervene), and pushing the song forward in a way that makes it feel alive.聽

This plays into your last point - an antagonist's goals are one of the central things I'm going to use to create a Front and what I use to update that Front after the PCs get in the way. As Fronts resolve, it's time to bring in new antagonists with new goals. The number of active threats varies but I usually want it to be high enough that the PCs aren't comfortable but low enough that they don't feel completely overwhelmed.聽

Regardless, the Runequest Campaign, which covers 1625 to 1655 (plus and minus a few years as well) is in the works. Its origins predate the Pendragon Campaign and informed and inspired that, Boy King, and the Grand Pendragon Campaign. It's been present in the background of all Gloranthan publications since before Runequest itself and bringing it out is a top priority for the next year.

Edited by Jeff
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I love sandbox play, but i also like metaplot. The later just provides me with a rich canvas to have in the background to differentiate a particular setting - in this case Glorantha (Dragon Pass).

Whether the PCs directly or indirectly interact with the metaplot is purely up to where the adventures take us.

But knowing it exists, then I would very much like to have this one in my colection so I聽can decided how much of it directly affects my characters. It's not like they will be Forest Gumping it alongside every majort event in Dragon Pass, but they might end up being involved in some pivotal ones, alongside canon characters.

Everyone's campaigns will end up being very different, and the main thing is it all sounds alot of fun to me!

Edited by Mankcam

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14 hours ago, Jeff said:

Regardless, the Runequest Campaign, which covers 1625 to 1655 (plus and minus a few years as well) is in the works. Its origins predate the Pendragon Campaign and informed and inspired that, Boy King, and the Grand Pendragon Campaign. It's been present in the background of all Gloranthan publications since before Runequest itself and bringing it out is a top priority for the next year.

Next year = within the next 12 month?
OR聽
Next year = somewhen in 2021?

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1 hour ago, AndreJarosch said:

Next year = within the next 12 month?
OR聽
Next year = somewhen in 2021?

Also, I've always assumed it would be a multi-volume thing, but now I'm not so sure.

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17 hours ago, Lysus said:

I think the first paragraph there is a rather uncharitable reading of my position - I'm not asking for a picaresque of largely unconnected encounters. If I'm using a system where I might be rolling random encounters, one of the key things to do is to make changes to the world (including encounter tables) based on what has happened in the campaign.聽

I know that it is an uncharitable reading of your position, but it is where I am left as an anonymous writer tasked with serving material for a campaign like yours. When I start adding new scenarios building on expected outcomes of a previous one, or on expected external events not covered by scenarios (yet, or ever if they aren't really scenario-worthy), this is what is left of your work order. (Not that I am going to be that writer for Chaosium in any way - my old nemesis the deadline prevents me from creating material alongside my real life job.)

It is possible to provide NPCs with a checklist of goals and how fulfilling these change the NPC, you could have a bit more of a "legacy game" where checking off scenarios and NPCs adapt to the activities of the PCs, but for a living setting, there need to be changes that happen if the PCs don't actively prevent them, and for a halfway realistic setting there need to be lots of such changes. Changes like in a pre-plotted timeline of a couple of major events that you seem to hate with a passion.

17 hours ago, Lysus said:

I definitely prefer scenarios with a strong sense of time and place, but I despise metaplot. What I'd want is content set in many different locales but all at roughly the same time.

And then what? If your campaign is only spanning a year or two, a package like Griffin Mountain will be fine. But it will be impossible to pick up Griffin Mountain for a future timeline.

If you keep your adventuring on the move, changing the place may keep you afloat for a few more in-game years, but that's it then.

17 hours ago, Lysus said:

That way I can make changes to other scenarios based on what my players have done before they encounter them. I don't know if you're familiar with Apocalypse World's Fronts mechanic, but I find that it works wonderfully for clarifying what's important, thinking about how things are likely to change (especially if the PCs don't intervene), and pushing the song forward in a way that makes it feel alive.聽

You are dealing with prophecies in a fantasy setting, that means very strong ancient magic promoting certain events in a certain sequence. This is part of the genre. If you kill a character identified with a prophecied hero, all you do is shift that identification away from that character to his successor/replacement. Fated leaders are suffering from something very similar to possession.

It might be possible to re-phrase the great Glorantha campaign in these terms, with these restrictions in mind. But unless you are using electronic documents with automatic replacement of names and dates, this cannot be published in print.

It might be an interesting experiment to create such a campaign in a POD format with a server-generated update of the campaign, but that would mean to use a software which hasn't even been conceptualized yet.

There is the legacy of the Glorantha campaign that Jeff is working on, and it is something that the fans of Glorantha have been waiting for for nearly four decades. (Go check Wyrm's Footnotes "next year" contents...) It is time for these to see publication.

You are free to strip numbers or names from the material, but that's what has been coming up for a long time, and at the very least you ought to take a look at it before you bemoan any railroading and loss of agency. The campaign will be yours to pick apart, alter, or ignore. But it is what has defined Glorantha as it was published.

17 hours ago, Lysus said:

This plays into your last point - an antagonist's goals are one of the central things I'm going to use to create a Front and what I use to update that Front after the PCs get in the way. As Fronts resolve, it's time to bring in new antagonists with new goals. The number of active threats varies but I usually want it to be high enough that the PCs aren't comfortable but low enough that they don't feel completely overwhelmed.聽

An approach like this might work for the Five Arkats of the Ralios prophecies.

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Re: Lunar Empire gaming

Based on the social media posts where Jeff is talking about his current campaign in Glamour, it seems like it's currently being written or, at least, explored.

Re: Metaplot

Ah, one of the oldest gaming debates is coming back! Yay.

I think that players who are against it are vastly misunderstanding what's happening behind the GM screen. We GMs always have a metaplot, whether it's one from a publisher, or our very own. We always have a vague idea of what's going to happen next. Not only because we want the story to go this or that way because we think that's going to be interesting or entertaining, but also because in order to prepare stuff we need to have a vague idea of what to prepare. I very occasionally do pure sandboxed games, with "seat-of-your-pants-GMing" (as Dennis Detwiller describes it) but that's quite hard and stressful to do right, and so 90% of the time I do have at least a vague idea of the next arcs/chapters in the campaign, even if it's only one paragraph in my notebook. I'm sure most other GMs writing their own material do that too. A good GM makes it look completely transparent to the players, who then have no idea what was planned and what wasn't. It's actually a saying in impov theatre, that good improvisation requires good preparation.

Now you can go about it in various ways. Me? I consider metaplots (mine or the publisher's) to be like history in a time-travel adventure. One interpretation (that, say, TimeWatch uses) is that history is a river -- if you throw rocks and tree branches at it, it will make a more or less big splash or ripple, but stabilize quickly. It takes a lot more work (like building a dam) to divert it or alter it significantly.

So take the Battle of Queens for instance. Say at this point I'm still OK with the established timeline, and I'll have Leika drive back Pharandros while Kallyr gets killed. That's going to happen if the players are going in that direction (like helping Leika directly) or focused on other things (like providing support, hanging back to heal wounded fighters, etc.). If for some reason they are Kallyr's buddies and staying close to her, they will fight off the teleporting assassins. They may fail, and witness her death! How dramatic! However, they might succeed and she might live. That's awesome! This will create more political drama in Boldhome, as I figure out what to do with her, and the players might have to make a choice of allegiance. But the "river" will self correct unless the players keep building on it... so Kallyr might still die, only a bit later, and then I can still proceed with the material that I or Chaosium had prepared, with a few edits here or there... or, if the players seem to really like following Kallyr, I might have Leika be eliminated somehow instead, and then I can substitute Leika for Kallyr in the prepared material, with a few more adjustments to account for the fact that Kallyr is already crowned as Prince of Sartar. If the players are still super determined to support Kallyr a couple years later, I might simply also substitute Argrath for her and keep going with "the plan"... although by then all the piled up modifications will make the timeline vastly unrecognizable, as dates and locations and prominent figures are changed, but you can bet that, if you tilt your head sideways and squint hard, you'll be able to recognize a lot of familiar events.

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On 1/29/2020 at 5:25 PM, lordabdul said:

Re: Lunar Empire gaming

Based on the social media posts where Jeff is talking about his current campaign in Glamour, it seems like it's currently being written or, at least, explored.

Re: Metaplot

Ah, one of the oldest gaming debates is coming back! Yay.

I think that players who are against it are vastly misunderstanding what's happening behind the GM screen. We GMs always have a metaplot, whether it's one from a publisher, or our very own. We always have a vague idea of what's going to happen next. Not only because we want the story to go this or that way because we think that's going to be interesting or entertaining, but also because in order to prepare stuff we need to have a vague idea of what to prepare. I very occasionally do pure sandboxed games, with "seat-of-your-pants-GMing" (as Dennis Detwiller describes it) but that's quite hard and stressful to do right, and so 90% of the time I do have at least a vague idea of the next arcs/chapters in the campaign, even if it's only one paragraph in my notebook. I'm sure most other GMs writing their own material do that too. A good GM makes it look completely transparent to the players, who then have no idea what was planned and what wasn't. It's actually a saying in impov theatre, that good improvisation requires good preparation.

Now you can go about it in various ways. Me? I consider metaplots (mine or the publisher's) to be like history in a time-travel adventure. One interpretation (that, say, TimeWatch uses) is that history is a river -- if you throw rocks and tree branches at it, it will make a more or less big splash or ripple, but stabilize quickly. It takes a lot more work (like building a dam) to divert it or alter it significantly.

So take the Battle of Queens for instance. Say at this point I'm still OK with the established timeline, and I'll have Leika drive back Pharandros while Kallyr gets killed. That's going to happen if the players are going in that direction (like helping Leika directly) or focused on other things (like providing support, hanging back to heal wounded fighters, etc.). If for some reason they are Kallyr's buddies and staying close to her, they will fight off the teleporting assassins. They may fail, and witness her death! How dramatic! However, they might succeed and she might live. That's awesome! This will create more political drama in Boldhome, as I figure out what to do with her, and the players might have to make a choice of allegiance. But the "river" will self correct unless the players keep building on it... so Kallyr might still die, only a bit later, and then I can still proceed with the material that I or Chaosium had prepared, with a few edits here or there... or, if the players seem to really like following Kallyr, I might have Leika be eliminated somehow instead, and then I can substitute Leika for Kallyr in the prepared material, with a few more adjustments to account for the fact that Kallyr is already crowned as Prince of Sartar. If the players are still super determined to support Kallyr a couple years later, I might simply also substitute Argrath for her and keep going with "the plan"... although by then all the piled up modifications will make the timeline vastly unrecognizable, as dates and locations and prominent figures are changed, but you can bet that, if you tilt your head sideways and squint hard, you'll be able to recognize a lot of familiar events.

I think you're fundamentally misunderstanding my position if you think I'm only against a metaplot from the player side of the screen. I find it far more restrictive when I'm running a game than I do when playing one. My preferred GMing style is almost exclusively "seat-of-your-pants," as you would call it, reinforced by Apocalypse World-style fronts, and I find it far easier and less stressful than trying to follow along some predetermined story arc. The things that I find useful when doing this are written locations or NPCs. The kind of material that isn't is a prewritten campaign.聽 I'm not fundamentally opposed to that kind of product existing (and to be frank, I'll still buy whatever Chaosium puts out, even if there's zero chance of chance of me using it as is), but the thing that really bugs me about the arc that's outlined in King of Sartar and which seems likely to be followed in the upcoming book is that it resolves the central conflict of the setting conclusively for one side.聽 That's something that makes Glorantha far less interesting to me.

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13 hours ago, Lysus said:

I think you're fundamentally misunderstanding my position if you think I'm only against a metaplot from the player side of the screen. I find it far more restrictive when I'm running a game than I do when playing one. My preferred GMing style is almost exclusively "seat-of-your-pants," as you would call it, reinforced by Apocalypse World-style fronts, and I find it far easier and less stressful than trying to follow along some predetermined story arc. The things that I find useful when doing this are written locations or NPCs. The kind of material that isn't is a prewritten campaign.聽 I'm not fundamentally opposed to that kind of product existing (and to be frank, I'll still buy whatever Chaosium puts out, even if there's zero chance of chance of me using it as is), but the thing that really bugs me about the arc that's outlined in King of Sartar and which seems likely to be followed in the upcoming book is that it resolves the central conflict of the setting conclusively for one side.聽 That's something that makes Glorantha far less interesting to me.

I have the same difficulty, but my conclusion is different

Glorantha is not less interesting, but the official Story after the starting date of my campaign is.

So two solutions :

- don't care the official Story (so don't care the scenario too), let's continue our play story, all material is just the ground.

- care the official Story but change name, if our play story impacts the official Story.

there is no issue when PC have ridiculous powers (or very local powers) compared to very important NPC and there is a timeline too follow

there is no issue when PC have very big powers compared to very important NPC and there is no timeline too follow

The difficulty (not for everybody) with Glorantha is PC have very big powers and there is a timeline

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14 hours ago, Lysus said:

is that it resolves the central conflict of the setting conclusively for one side.

Why do you think it resolves to one side? The world is shattered, parts of the world flooded, Chaos is all over the place, gods have died, and Argrath is gone (and in theory has become a god).聽 But do we see anything of the shape/form of the world besides the Red Moon falling? That may simply free the Sun again from the shackles of the Blood Sun, free the White Orbiter, restore the winds, etc.

What side won?

15 hours ago, Lysus said:

The things that I find useful when doing this are written locations or NPCs.

The problem I find with this as a GM is that it doesn't move, and doesn't provide many ideas for how to move forward.聽 And that's pretty much what we have with the old RQ3 material, and what you have in the Guide (the ultimate sandbox ca.1621).聽 Now, hopefully we get a range of locations/places in the 1625+ period in more detail (like the Smoking Ruins, like what Robin Laws is working on for Pavis/Big Rubble) that provide a foundation for both sandbox use and for advancing campaign arcs.

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15 hours ago, Lysus said:

The things that I find useful when doing this are written locations or NPCs.

If you are running a game in a world where you have prepared locations and NPCs, including what's going on at these locations, what are the NPCs' motivations and agendas, what they'll do next, etc... then in my opinion you have a metaplot. You know vaguely what will happen unless the PCs get in the way. That's what I meant by having "at least a paragraph or two in a notebook".聽 For me "seat-of-your-pants" GMing is really coming up with the world/NPCs as you go, instead of having it prepared in any way.

It seems like what you dislike is having a metaplot storyline beyond a certain level of certainty. You most likely have, in your world, something pre-written about, say, the King really being under the influence of one of his mistresses, who is a powerful mage in disguise working for the rival Empire of Rivalia, and she's making sure the King is weak enough to agree to become a vassal to the Emperor in some upcoming treaty negotiation, but at the same time, the King's General Ottavius is having suspicions, so the mistress is preparing to have him killed if he gets too close to the truth. You probably don't have it set in stone that she will kill Ottavius in winter 1243, with the King becoming a vassal of the emperor in spring 1244... but you know it will/might happen, and you probably have a couple notes about how (like maybe 2 or 3 ideas for how to kill General Ottavius in a cool and dramatic way). You have a metaplot. Just not a precise storyline like in King of Sartar.

I'm curious what you would rather have Chaosium do? The only way to not have any kind of "set" metaplot storyline is to never bring the setting forward, i.e. keep Sartar locked in 1618 forever, and only release campaign books set in that state of affairs. Even a simple decision like "let's bring the timeline forward to 1625 for RQG" effectively "sets in stone" a certain metaplot storyline like Kallyr's rebellion and the Dragonrise, which has some grognards complains about because it didn't happen that way in their 25 years-old games.

Edited by lordabdul
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19 hours ago, lordabdul said:

The only way to not have any kind of "set" metaplot storyline is to never bring the setting forward, i.e. keep Sartar locked in 1618 forever, and only release campaign books set in that state of affairs.

For ages, this was the standard approach to campaign rules. Most setting books contained a statement along the lines of, "That is the state of affairs in 1492 BS. Anything that occurs beyond that point is in your hands!"

There are a number of problems with that approach. For one thing, 1492 is going to become a very crowded "year of destiny" if the publisher continues to release sourcebooks and adventures. Second, many gamemasters don't want to have the fate of the Gameworld in their hands. They want a steady stream of publications that allow them to present the world as a living, breathing place where fortunes change and adventure awaits. They want an evolving game world where most of the work is done for them and they can make little tweaks here and there if needed, not a stagnant world locked in a perpetual status quo.

And evolving game worlds proctored by their publisher work great if the actions of the PCs are limited in scope. If they're movers and shakers on a world-shaping scale, though, the GM's version of the world will likely mutate to a point that it isn't worth the effort to modify officially published material to conform with their version of reality. That state of affairs is problematic for both players and publishers.

So what's to be done?

One workable approach might be to utilize key points in published material. Key points are events, great or small, that MUST occur for the published world to stay on track. Keep the events leading up to those key events vague and contradictory, because the fuzzy areas should be the environment in which PCs thrive. In other words, provide meta-plot points, not a meta plot.

Avoid the game designer's tendency to wander into the territory of the novelist. Don't minutely choreograph the story with details dozens of NPC actions, the precise movement of troops, and the specific order of events at each world shaping nexus of the plot. Instead, treat the game world as a sprawling "connect-the-dots" project that gives both players and GMs plenty of room to make the world their own in the spaces between the dots. Instead of giving us a year-by-year, season-by-season chronicle of events leading up to a major event, give us suggestions on how to write that chronicle ourselves via rumors, conflicting gossip, etc.

That's what I'd like to see in an evolving campaign setting, at least, and it's the formula I'll be using in my projects for publication. It might not work for others, of course.

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