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I imagine it's hard to go very high in "canonicity" in a game. A "high canon" game would mean either:

  1. A game where everybody you meet are famous NPCs, in famous places. Somehow you spend zero time talking to random people or going to random places that the GM has to make up on the fly to respond to the needs of the story. It may happen, I guess, if the PCs are all thanes and chieftains and priests and mostly deal with other important people.
  2. A game where the PCs are not messing up the status-quo, and everything is going according to the metaplot, season by season.

It's clear that if a game is option 1, by definition the players will mess up the metaplot because they're in positions of power and, therefore, have agency on the metaplot. On the other hand, if the PCs have limited agency on the metaplot (or none at all), they're either secondary actors moving behind the scenes (going on missions for Leika or whatever), or just plain unimportant to the metaplot (murder-tourists or other random adventurers). In that case, they only meet a limited number of famous NPCs doing famous things, and more often deal with other secondary characters in secondary places. These two things balance each other, I think, which is probably why you can't go much higher than, say, 50% if we go by Scotty's scoring.

Underneath is a base layer of whether the places, cities, cults, and so on are canonical or not, but that potentially varies more because of GMing style and campaign type than anything. For instance, a campaign centered around a specific community (some Sartarite clan or some Prax area) will require the GM to make up a whole bunch of places and NPCs because the published books don't go to that level of detail.

Edited by lordabdul
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RuneQuest is set in the Bronze Age fantasy world of Glorantha. Our protagonists, the Orlanthi barbarians, are lusty tribes who worship at hilltop standing stones and paint themselves blue with woad so

As I have said many many times, canon only matters if you are: 1. writing for Chaosium, 2. want to do an entirely canonical campaign (which is neither required or expected), or 3. want to discuss the

If you're not writing an official supplement for Chaosium, Glorantha canon is nonsense. No setting survives contact with actual play. This is true of all games and all settings. Don't waste hours

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As soon as you start a game, you are moving away from canon. Every NPC that you create is non-canonical. Every step the PCs take is non-canonical.

I use canon as a guide, picking what I want from it and changing what does not fit my campaigns.

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On 8/8/2020 at 3:37 AM, Beorne said:

I'm curious to know what is considered canon and what not,

This is what we say in the Jonstown Compendium Guidelines on the subject:

YGWV (“Your Glorantha Will Vary”) and how this applies to the Jonstown Compendium

 “Your Glorantha Will Vary” is long-established principle in Gloranthan fandom. First espoused by the creator of the setting himself, Greg Stafford, in a nutshell what it means is you are free and welcome to take what you want from the incredibly rich tapestry of myth, magic, history and wonder of Glorantha for use in your own creations.

The “official” canon for the world is found in material published by Chaosium/Moon Design Publications, with what is presented in The Guide to Glorantha and The Glorantha Sourcebook as definitive. However, canon only matters for official publications – for that which published by Chaosium Inc and its licensees. For your Jonstown Compendium creations, Your Glorantha Will Vary. We strive to ensure that official publications stick to canon: however, that is a restriction on our interpretations of Glorantha, not yours. Your Glorantha can vary as much or as little as you want for what you create for the Jonstown Compendium.

 

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I thought this bit "From the Editor's Desk" in Rune Fixes #2 was even more helpful:

Quote

Whose Glorantha is It Anyway?

The phrase “Your Glorantha May Vary” comes up a lot, along with its variation, “Your Glorantha Will Vary.” These phrases emerged as a response to the players who had the fear of getting it wrong, of somehow misrepresenting Glorantha in a way that wasn’t “accurate”, the way that its creator, Greg Stafford, and later authors intended.

After 40 years of content development, there’s a lot of Glorantha, far more than anyone should have to try to keep in mind in order to run a game. This wall of content and sometimes complex rules can be daunting. There’s always a danger that big, detailed settings become monolithic, unchangeable, every printed word being treated as holy writ.

So “Your Glorantha May Vary” is both an acceptance and an assertion, as is “Your Glorantha Will Vary.” This freedom to make Glorantha one’s own is so important to us that it’s emphasized on page 10 of the core rules.

The upshot is that no matter what a gamemaster or player wants to do, it is perfectly all right and well within the realm of another important principle to remember, that of Maximum Game Fun, which is also so important to us that it’s presented even earlier in the core rulebook on page 6.

Let’s examine two phrases around for the moment in the mind and approach the issue from another angle.

We would like to propose that “your” Glorantha—the game being enjoyed by the players and gamemasters across the world—neither may or will vary, because for all intents and purposes, your Glorantha is the real Glorantha, and it’s everyone else’s Glorantha that varies.

Once you start playing games in Glorantha, or even imagining it, it becomes yours to dream about, a playground of thought and myth and adventure that you can shape, alter, and evoke however you’d like.

Your Glorantha is more real than anything you’re going to read about, even in print.

Take what you want, change what you’d like, and make it your own. We at Chaosium and our wonderful Jonstown Compendium contributors can make suggestions about how we think things are in Glorantha, but ultimately your Glorantha takes precedence over anything we have to say.

 

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But one of my favourite quotes about canon (in this case, "continuity") is this bit by Jonathan Tweet from 13th Age Glorantha -- and as is typical of that book, it's something we can profitably remember in any Gloranthan game, whatever system we're using.

Quote

If you look at Glorantha as a world whose continuity is more important than the experience of the players at your table, then you’re making the same mistake I made 30 years ago before I became a professional RPG designer. If you look at Glorantha as a world filled with gorgeous details that invite you to riff off them in any direction, then you’ll experience Glorantha as a magical place where anything can happen, and you’ll get even more out of it than I originally did, and I got a lot. Rob [Heinsoo] calls Glorantha “fractal” because no matter how narrowly you define your focus, there’s an infinite amount of detail that you can wring out of it, and no matter how broadly you define your focus, it all hangs together.

 

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I always find this conversation interesting, and I do have a bit of an issue with the assumptions a lot of folks project with YGMV/YGWV.

I think it's important to not just handwave that statement happily all the time. For some people, that's awesome. They LOVE the idea! It's freeing! It's amazing!

And good for them!

But for other folks, their brains may not work that way. They would prefer to have a concrete world provided to them - and no judgment should ever be applied for any reason to that desire.

It's neither better nor worse, just different.

Some people might say there is no singular 'concrete' world with Glorantha but that's not true - there's plenty of elements that remain relatively untouched through the years.

The issue a lot of people move around is that in most cases, the 'canon' issues aren't to do with THINGS so much as STYLES.

To be blunt, it's because various owners of the property have approached given elements of the setting with their own personal bias (bias that may even change during their stewardship!) and shaded parts of the setting the way they want it to look.

The archetypical example is your Orlanthi warrior chappie. Is he a Saxon-type fellow? Is he more an Iron-age Celt? Bronze Age Celt? More Greek now? Shades of Etruscan? Does he wear woolen trews because it's cold in that hilltop stead or is he made of sterner stuff and just has a linen wrap around his dangly bits? What does that sword of his look like? Leaf blade? More viking-style? Oh and his helmet!

And the issue is people get attached to these attachments. If I think of 'my' Orlanthi as Saxon folks, a sourcebook where they are visually depicted as flouncing about near naked in comparison is going to shock me! And if 'my' Orlanthi like the air on their parts of an evening, a picture of them as some beardy brutes sweating away in stinky fleece is going to repulse me!

I think this is the issue most folks run up against, and in most cases this is simply reflective of how and when they were introduced to the property.

I would suggest that part of (possibly a large part of) the reason YGMV is a 'thing' is because of this kind of obvious lack of visual continuity above everything else, and that is entirely sensible and logical.

I feel that this needs to be front-loaded a bit more. Rather than throwing THE WONDER OF YGMV!!!!!!!!!!!! in peoples' faces, it's probably good to just be upfront about the fact that the visual styles (and some historical/thematic elements) have changed over the years as various people have participated in the growth of Glorantha. And that's their prerogative, the same way as anyone who finds a given change discordant is 100% justified in feeling so.

 

tl;dr I feel like more upfront commentary on the functional basis for YGMV rather than simply saying 'IT'S PART OF THE GAME' *WINK* can be beneficial both for those people who struggle with thematic changes during their experience of the game over time and new people who find it confusing. As someone who is somewhat neurodifferentiated for example, I find that a lot easier to get to grips with.

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"Functional basis"? How's about this? Skyrim now owns the "Romans vs. Vikings plus Dragons" space. As a poky little tabletop company, Chaosium can't possibly compete with that.

So -- in official publications at least -- the Lunars have been veering away from Rome and into a vaguely Babylonian/Hellenistic/Persian space, while the Sartarites have been veering away from Viking Saxon Celts and towards Mycenaean Greece. And those are both fairly long-term trends, which came into their full flower with the new RQG rulebook (2018).

(It also helps that Chaosium books have proper art budgets these days, so they don't need to use whatever they can get)

NB: my own Lunars still feel pretty goddamn Roman, because I have a degree in those mofos and I'm still going to work it. But they have plenty of aspects derived from other folk as well. I'm a big fan of the new-look Mycenaean Clearwine; it might help to reflect that we mostly used to see clans and tribes in the boondocks, far from the centre of Sartarite "civilisation" (if that's the right word -- oops, sorry, are my prejudices showing?), and only now are we getting a good look at the cities and sinews of Argrath's Kingdom.

The clans I know best are the Greydogs (no city, no major roads, live next to a lowland bog), the Colymar (no city, no major roads, proud of not playing their full part in Sartar's Kingdom) and John Hughes' bluefoot clans of the Far Place gors and gallt (no city, no roads, live in a bleak highland peat bog).

Edited by Nick Brooke
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12 hours ago, lordabdul said:

I imagine it's hard to go very high in "canonicity" in a game. A "high canon" game would mean

 

4 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

If you look at Glorantha as a world filled with gorgeous details that invite you to riff off them in any direction, then you’ll experience Glorantha as a magical place where anything can happen

I'm not sure if there is an easy way to describe a "high canon" game.  What does it really mean?  As I can only speak from personal experience, here are three examples drawn from my three longest-running campaigns.

  1. The Imther Campaign (RQ3, 1987-1997).  At the time, "canon" for Imther consisted of:  1) one short paragraph in the Griffin Mountain book describing it as a place of petty woodsmen plus maybe a couple references to dwarfs and giants within it that had some association with Imther; 2) some material on the Conquering Daughter's campaign in Vanch/Imther from Wyrms Footnotes (which I was fortunate enough to get while still available); 3) the RQ3 Gods of Glorantha book + Cults of Prax/Cults of Terror.  You could extrapolate based on Cults of Prax that Yelmalio was present in the area - I went with that.  Seven Mothers were available as a cult, and I could reasonably extrapolate Irrippi Ontor = LM and Yanafal Tarnils = Humakt.  That was all the canon available.
    • I did not stay particularly close to the "petty woodsmen" idea, but it was very heavily "folk" oriented.  So was I:  75% canon?  67% canon?  Something less?
    • And then I created and riffed and built off of that.  Did that reduce canonicity?  Did that increase canonicity?  Was it simply the process of running a campaign where YGWV?
    • From the Redline History in WF, I outlined a cult of the Conquering Daughter. I later worked with Greg to refine the cult and align further with his vision of that. (Note: it is not what will be canon for the Conquering Daughter in the upcoming Gods book, but both views riff off of the same original sources.)
    • When the Yelmalio/Elmal schism occurred, I created my own varient of Khelmal.  That was in line with canon directions at the time, how does that square with canon?
    • I published parts of my campaign in my fanzine, New Lolon Gospel.  Did that reduce or increase canon?
    • Many places from my Imther Campaign entered into the Guide.  So whether or not they were canon before, they've entered into what could now be considered canon.  So does that mean my campaign ultimately was a "high canon" game?  
  2. The Orlmarth Campaign (HQG, 2014-present).  Started with SKoH, Sartar Companion, and HQG, all of which have some level of canonicity.  Did it start then at ~90% canon? 
    • The first part was based on the Harvest Bride from Sun County - transplanted into Orlmarthi lands and introducing a marriage that was across bloodlines, not exogamous.  Did that reduce canon?  In theory, so by how much?  -10%? -25%? -50%  But it led into the loss of Orane - part of HQG, so did that raise canonicity again?  
    • The players were off to seek knowledge on how to restore Orane at the Jonstown LM temple.  They were caught by Lunars (who had a camp outside Redbird fort) - not part of any "known" canon.  They escaped by being swallowed by a Trickster - a rather loose interpretation of the Swallow spell, and one which led into the Otherworld - also not part of canon.  They returned to the mundane world by finding the Ivory Tower amidst the Fog of Ignorance and stopping a Lunar attempt to gain entry.  The book stacks of the Ivory Tower led into the book stacks of the LM temple in Jonstown.  Canon?  Not by any documented measure.  MGF?  Certainly.  How much did that reduce canonicity?  -10%, -25%, -50%???
  3. The Colymar Campaign (RQG, 2017-present).  Started with RQG and the Quickstart Broken Tower scenario.  That played to canon/written scenario.  95%?  
    • Continued onto a quest for Leika to follow the Path of Colymar and gain a Vision of the Future.  Drew on ideas from SKoH, Sartar Companion, RQG Adventures Book, HotHP, Heortling Mythology.  Some of which remains canon, some less so. -5%? -10%?
    • They went to seek the Earth Oracle in Dekko Crevice.  Nothing particularly canonical about that - and they rescued an Earth priestess there who was still sleeping from the Great Winter, also not canonical.  -10%? -25%?  
    • They aided a group of Yelmalions/Grazers in summoning a Star Lady atop Garanstone.  A riff on Garan Low-star to battle forces of Darkness, but non-canonical in that it is not written anywhere.  -10%?
    • They eventually got to Colymar's Lookout, and conducted the ritual to bring forth the Vision of the Future.  And the PC's helped shape (or, when they failed, lose shape of) what the future might be.  -25%? -50%?
    • Now they are off to Snakepipe Hollow to recover the Horn of the Forgotten.  Certainly using the Guide for the journey there, and bits from the Coming Storm/11 Lights, and the RQ2 Snakepipe Hollow.  Canon?  Reasonably so.  Blowing off the head of a giant by getting him to bite down on a Thunderstone?  Not canonical, but MGF!  

So, my thoughts:

  • There's a lot of good places/ideas to start from.  Choose a locale as a starting base - if it helps to use one that's reasonably well defined (aka "canon"), you've got Colymar clan/Clearwine, Apple Lane, Lost Valley, Pavis/Big Rubble (from RQ Classics), Raus Fort (from RQ Classics), Cinsina clan/Red Cow (from HQG), and the Jonstown Compendium selections such as Six Seasons in Sartar, Valley of Plenty, and Sandheart Militia.
  • Find scenarios you like.  Transplant as needed and determine how that works in the setting.
  • Play... and let your players develop from there.  
  • Borrow any villains, ideas, etc. from any source you want (Glorantha if you want to stay with "canon"), and riff off of those to make it your game.

And that's as much as you should worry about canon (unless you're writing material for official Chaosium publications to help expand/extend the setting further - and even then you're building on a base, riffing on ideas, and bringing your ideas into Glorantha).

 

Edited by jajagappa
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Well said. One tiny tweak, if I may?

6 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

And that's as much as you should worry about canon (unless you're writing material for publication to help expand/extend the setting further - and even then you're building on a base, riffing on ideas, and bringing your ideas into Glorantha).

That's only if you're writing for an official, Chaosium publication. You can write non-canonical stuff for the Jonstown Compendium and not worry about 'canon' at all. (All the best-rated, best-selling books on the JC are non-canonical in all sorts of ways, and they're all the better for it)

Edited by Nick Brooke
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2 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

Well said. One tiny tweak, if I may?

That's only if you're writing for an official, Chaosium publication. You can write non-canonical stuff for the Jonstown Compendium and not worry about 'canon' at all. (All the best-rated, best-selling books on the JC are non-canonical in all sorts of ways, and they're all the better for it)

Now tweaked in my post as well.  🙂  And fully agree - there's so much good content there! 

(As an aside on that line, the Wildlings from the Valley of Plenty plus a couple characters from Six Seasons in Sartar have now been "adopted" into my Orlmarth clan!  Did that lower my level of canonicity further?  It's rather irrelevant - there are good characters, ideas, etc. in all these books that are worthwhile borrowing and adapting if they suit your needs.)

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20 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

(As an aside on that line, the Wildlings from the Valley of Plenty plus a couple characters from Six Seasons in Sartar have now been "adopted" into my Orlmarth clan!  Did that lower my level of canonicity further?  It's rather irrelevant - there are good characters, ideas, etc. in all these books that are worthwhile borrowing and adapting if they suit your needs.)

Ah! So have you always been a loose canon, or is this something new?

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4 hours ago, Virane said:

To be blunt, it's because various owners of the property have approached given elements of the setting with their own personal bias (bias that may even change during their stewardship!) and shaded parts of the setting the way they want it to look.

Yes but only in part. There have been multiple other settings that have seen different iterations with different timelines and different styles (WoD, Traveller, etc.), but still, I don't see anywhere near the amount of discussions of "canon" there compared to Glorantha, or the need to go out and say that "your game will vary" (because most people will say... well... duh).

I think the main reason Glorantha ever needed YGMV and all that jazz is because of the organic evolution of Glorantha. Unlike, say, Traveller, which has very very well defined "alternative realities" spawned from its complicated publication history, Glorantha never had this kind of definition... it was always an organically grown world that routinely added "canonical" elements buy taking bits from fanzines, convention booklets, online conversations, websites, etc. The evolution of Glorantha was more of a community effort, it seems, which, for all its advantages, has at least one downside of making it unclear when and how things change in the setting. This in turn creates confusion, to which old Glorantha fans just shrug and say "eh, it's Glorantha, it's contradictory by nature... YGWV". The only way to not get frustrated is to reach illumination and adopt the same mindset. I think that's what that quote from 13th Age Glorantha is actually about.

1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

(As an aside on that line, the Wildlings from the Valley of Plenty plus a couple characters from Six Seasons in Sartar have now been "adopted" into my Orlmarth clan!  Did that lower my level of canonicity further?  It's rather irrelevant - there are good characters, ideas, etc. in all these books that are worthwhile borrowing and adapting if they suit your needs.)

The funny thing here is that I don't even know if we're all talking about the same definition of "canon". To me, inventing new NPCs never mentioned in official material isn't being non-canon. It's just... filling in the blanks. However, inventing a new King for the Colymar tribe, or inventing a whole new tribe, or changing the events of the Battle of Queens, or making Dragonewts wear disco pants, these are things that are non-canonical.

So IMHO the Wildlings from Valley of Plenty are not non-canonical because they don't contradict anything from the published material. Again, that's just filling in the blanks. Even the entire Blue Jay clan and its ring are probably not non-canonical since I don't think they contradict anything either. Some other things however do or will contradict canon (mostly listed on p9) like different cults and different socio-political landscapes in the region, and a few new or changed important events from the Dragon Pass timeline.

Basically, I don't consider new pieces of the puzzle as non-canonical. I just consider non-canonical something that requires changing or removing the existing Chaosium-branded pieces.... not that it matters, mind you. I don't care if my game is non-canonical. I just care that Chaosium's Glorantha is consistent enough that I can use it as a foundation for my own game and variations.

Edited by lordabdul
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1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

The funny thing here is that I don't even know if we're all talking about the same definition of "canon". To me, inventing new NPCs never mentioned in official material isn't being non-canon. It's just... filling in the blanks.

That's part of the point.  Who's definition of canon are we referencing?  

Some might think that if it's not detailed, or only sketched, they have to wait until it is filled in to play because they are afraid something later will render their version "incorrect" or non-canonical.  But, if you wait for canon in order to play, you don't end up playing!  

1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

I just consider non-canonical something that requires changing or removing the existing Chaosium-branded pieces....

As I noted, when I began my Imther campaign, there was so little published that much that I did had a chance to become non-canonical.  My Conquering Daughter cult is one example.  But it worked fine for my campaign.  And maybe one day in the future, I'll present it (but only after the Gods book is out and available).

My Imther also presented Orlanth as the Trickster, the one who broke the world.  VERY non-canonical.  If there had been more canon on Imther when I started, I might not have veered quite so strongly in that direction (it's clearly visible in my New Lolon Gospel material).  But I had fun with that.  If running a game now, I'd create more of a three-way tension between Lunar, Orlanthi, and Yelmalion.  And if I have opportunity to publish some of that in the future (when done with other writing projects), then it'll like reflect more of that.

2 hours ago, lordabdul said:

I just care that Chaosium's Glorantha is consistent enough that I can use it as a foundation for my own game and variations.

I think between the Guide, the Sourcebook, and RQG, it's established that fairly well, and the main gap is the cults book right now (but there's good consistency between that and Cults of Prax/Terror or the Cults Compendium, so you can draw on these for a lot more detail in the meantime).

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I'm not sure if there is an easy way to describe a "high canon" game.  What does it really mean?

I think the degree of canon-in-play (vs canon-as-writ) depends upon the degree of what I call "course correction".  I've willingly grappled with this more so in other games (notably Classic Traveller's Third Imperium) than in RuneQuest, in which I've long since conceded that I wasn't going to wrap my arms fully around the game world (and, frankly, having despaired of the unrelenting minutiae of the late-90s Glorantha-Digest).

A "high canon" game begins with any and all information available as written and -- this is important -- as understood.  GM and players reconcile their mutual understandings of the setting and begin play, which almost out of necessity begins to diverge from canon.  A "high canon" game features a number of junctures at which the GM and players "course correct" to adjust their actions in play to align with the expectations described in published material.  The "height" of the canon depends on how often the course of play is corrected.  During play, as GM and players remind each other of what the world's really supposed to be like?  From session to session, as they reflect on what's transpired after play?  From publication to publication, as new material is released or purchased?  Do you "ret-con" events in play that don't match canon to make them fit the official setting better?

I've done this sort of campaign with other games before, both as GM and as player.  It can be very gratifying, if nit-picky, and certainly not to everyone's taste.  I've also played "loose canon" games, which, almost paradoxically, seem to require an even greater understanding of a setting to be comfortable with just...letting...everything...go....  Kind of like music or cooking, I reckon, where you really need to know what you're doing before you can improvise effectively.  Knowing what to leave out is at least as important as knowing what to put in.

!i!

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8 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

"Functional basis"? How's about this? Skyrim now owns the "Romans vs. Vikings plus Dragons" space. As a poky little tabletop company, Chaosium can't possibly compete with that.

So -- in official publications at least -- the Lunars have been veering away from Rome and into a vaguely Babylonian/Hellenistic/Persian space, while the Sartarites have been veering away from Viking Saxon Celts and towards Mycenaean Greece. And those are both fairly long-term trends, which came into their full flower with the new RQG rulebook (2018).

(It also helps that Chaosium books have proper art budgets these days, so they don't need to use whatever they can get)

NB: my own Lunars still feel pretty goddamn Roman, because I have a degree in those mofos and I'm still going to work it. But they have plenty of aspects derived from other folk as well. I'm a big fan of the new-look Mycenaean Clearwine; it might help to reflect that we mostly used to see clans and tribes in the boondocks, far from the centre of Sartarite "civilisation" (if that's the right word -- oops, sorry, are my prejudices showing?), and only now are we getting a good look at the cities and sinews of Argrath's Kingdom.

The clans I know best are the Greydogs (no city, no major roads, live next to a lowland bog), the Colymar (no city, no major roads, proud of not playing their full part in Sartar's Kingdom) and John Hughes' bluefoot clans of the Far Place gors and gallt (no city, no roads, live in a bleak highland peat bog).

I think Skyrim is in fact a perfect AID to getting people into Glorantha, rather than a barrier! If I have a new player, it's where I go to.

With new players/GMs, there's a really, really high chance they have played and enjoyed Skyrim. It's a great starting point if you're someone who prefers their Sartarites to be more Saxon or Celtic and your Lunars more Roman (as they have been through much of Glorantha's RPG history).

Both Skyrim and Glorantha (originally) pull from similar historical source material. Despite recent shifts, the Lunars always had a strong Roman element. Legions, Centurions, Vexillae - these words were not chosen accidentally. Likewise the use of Saxon and Celtic terms and concepts in the creation of Sartar. Same with Skyrim. These elements were used because the authors and their audiences (with the general cultural background of white western culture) by and large have a stronger familiarity with Rome and its imperial activities than many other ancient cultures.

From a marketing point of view (and this is an area I have considerable experience with), Chaosium would be much better served moving TOWARDS the 'Romans vs Vikings plus Dragons' space, not just based on Skyrim but in a general sense of attracting people from the main base of Western fantasy consumers - as these tropes are ones that people cleave to.

That's if just making money is the goal in the quickest and easiest fashion by relating to existing elements your potential clients are familiar with, however.

At this point I want to make it very clear there is nothing WRONG with doing that. There's no moral or intellectual superiority in treading a less mainstream path, despite what many people tell themselves. There's no innate cultural superiority between the Iliad and 'Married at First Sight', much as that might be a good thing. Selling Glorantha as 'Skyrim with SO MUCH MORE' is a great way to get people to give you their money, and in a business sense that's generally a good thing.

Now obviously more recent owners of the property and their artists have pulled it in a different direction, so using Skyrim as a touchstone is only more viable if you use older materials or if you're waving YGMV rather aggressively at new people.

But this does bring up the question of marketing Glorantha rather than playing it. And while related, these are not the same thing.

What you do with your game once you are playing it is generally a function of how a GM and their players interact. If all my players love Skyrim, I'm going to probably GM Glorantha in that direction, rather than 'force' them to see the world as I feel it should be seen, or as current source materials depict it. Other GMs may do that differently. That's about what your game table wants and will sustain. That's playing Glorantha.

Marketing Glorantha is getting people to play it. And that's where the conversation moves towards managing people's preconceptions and attachments. And this is about new players, not existing ones.

From a branding point of view, YGMV is not a good thing necessarily. Brand cohesiveness is very much a thing, and YGMV gives that a nasty kicking. It's the default expectation across almost all human cultures that I am aware of, because most people consume and engage with cultural items in a progressive fashion.

If you're selling Glorantha with YGMV up front, then you're selling it to a very small minority audience. You're basically saying 'Here's a new brand for you to interact with, it's got some solid cornerstones but you can stick whatever you like in between those'. Some people will like this concept but that is most certainly a minority. That's not necessarily a bad thing - while in general terms you may sell fewer units/encourage fewer new players than a more 'traditional' brand approach, if that market is over saturated (either in the true sense of a financial market or the marketplace of your players' minds) and you feel your product may not compete sufficiently, then aiming outside the box is a valid approach as long as you can break even or profit from that market share (either by selling books or getting people to enjoy playing with you). And more importantly, YOU (as either a GM or a person making money from selling books) have your own personal stake in things and you get to choose what level of risk/reward you want to satisfy your own desires.

If you're not upfronting YGMV but selling Glorantha in its current 'form', then that's something else. You're selling a unique setting with visual and cultural themes that diverge quite widely from the Western European norms that dominate fantasy tropes and again, that's selling to a minority audience. And again, not necessarily a bad thing in a saturated market.

That's why this is an interesting question every time it comes up, because from a marketing/branding point of view it's certainly not the 'traditional' path to success.

It's hard to measure the 'overall' success of this choice because that's something that takes a long time to observe and requires data that no one will have at this point in time, if ever.

I don't know the sales figures for Glorantha products in recent years but even if I did, I'd not use that as an accurate measure as there's no way to cleanly tell how many of those sales are growth (entirely new players and GMs) and how many are from existing Glorantha players, with a good few decades worth of exposure there. And in brand terms, it's very difficult to draw a line in the sand and delineate a product success path (which is sustainable longevity over a given period) for Glorantha, given the various and not inconsiderable shifts in system and visual styles, which are major defining elements of RPG products.

The success of marketing Glorantha to new players, and the role of YGMV in that, is something that will take years, or decades to examine and even then, you're highly unlikely to ever pull hard data. The closest you'd come is when you feel the majority of the 'old school' players have shuffled off (mortal coil or otherwise and don't worry, I'm included in this grouping!) and you examine whether the game is selling and playing sustainably to a 'new' generation. And since it's a continuum, that's basically just an exercise in arbitrarily kicking some numbers in relation to the relative financial framework of whoever owns the property at a given point in time, which may be of intense interest to them but isn't necessarily connected to an 'overall' examination of the 'success' or 'longevity' of a property.

 

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2 minutes ago, Virane said:

I think Skyrim is in fact a perfect AID to getting people into Glorantha, rather than a barrier! If I have a new player, it's where I go to.

 

This is an interesting point of disagreement, because Bethesda (the developer of Skyrim and its predecessors, the other Elder Scrolls games, for anyone wondering), actually retconned lore for market purposes. When they were going to develop Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the featured region of Cyrodiil was previously described as a tropical/semitropical jungle or wetland, featuring rice paddies, roman-style legionaries, ancestor worship, and lots of interesting stuff. Much of this was scrapped in favor of a more Western Europe-like style to benefit from the then-current popularity of the Lord of the Rings movies. 

Just an interesting comparative example. 

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14 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

This is an interesting point of disagreement, because Bethesda (the developer of Skyrim and its predecessors, the other Elder Scrolls games, for anyone wondering), actually retconned lore for market purposes. When they were going to develop Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the featured region of Cyrodiil was previously described as a tropical/semitropical jungle or wetland, featuring rice paddies, roman-style legionaries, ancestor worship, and lots of interesting stuff. Much of this was scrapped in favor of a more Western Europe-like style to benefit from the then-current popularity of the Lord of the Rings movies. 

Just an interesting comparative example. 

If you read the rest of my post I think you'll find that's not disagreement at all ;)

Playing to existing tropes is always what marketing people recommend as a go-to. MOST of the time they are right. But not always :)

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11 minutes ago, Virane said:

If you read the rest of my post I think you'll find that's not disagreement at all ;)

Playing to existing tropes is always what marketing people recommend as a go-to. MOST of the time they are right. But not always :)

That's fair, but I also believe they made a worse product as a result of it.

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I have to say that Glorantha has a certain inherent abstruseness to it that kind of foils any well-intentioned desire to make it more relatable. On the one hand, you have the "silly" elements, the Donald/Howard Duck people, the jack-o-bears, the chain restaurants, Casino Town and its one-armed bandits, the Paps. On the other hand, you have the "deep" elements. The expectation of intricate society created by the reality of intricate society in Sartar and Prax. The invocation of historical religious concepts and contemporary occult ones. The general sense that the entire setting is moving under your feet, that these broos, these trollkin, are here for reasons both historical and personal. It's two things that make Glorantha not always easy to enter (and neither of them has much to do with canon per se), but they also provide experiences that are fairly near to unique. Morrowind as opposed to Skyrim, as it were. 

That being said, my personal entry to Glorantha was picking up the orange Heroquest book one day in my FLGS back in college. It was well out of print. I picked it up, opened the book, read through the Homelands section with increasing interest, then hit the map of Genertela with "Five Arkats Return!" as a caption. I was hooked. So for me, it's about the totality of things, that you can have a setting where Debbie Harry as a goddess of celebrity and fame can coexist with the grim invocation of cyclical violence and abuse and entitlement of "Gaumata's Vision", and they make sense with one another. 

 

And to bring this back around to canon, canon is most meaningful to me when it provides the framework for attitudes and playfulness. If I know what Seshnegi talk about when they're making conversation, and I know they're supposed to be drawing heavily on Greek poleis and Vedic India, then I can include them in a game or a bit of creative writing with ease and hopefully bring them to life as reasonable approximations of people. 

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11 hours ago, Nevermet said:

I mainly want to know what is canon because I want to know when I am diverging from it.

This is a huge piece of it for me, too.

16 hours ago, Virane said:

I always find this conversation interesting, and I do have a bit of an issue with the assumptions a lot of folks project with YGMV/YGWV.

I think it's important to not just handwave that statement happily all the time. For some people, that's awesome. They LOVE the idea! It's freeing! It's amazing!

And good for them!

But for other folks, their brains may not work that way. They would prefer to have a concrete world provided to them - and no judgment should ever be applied for any reason to that desire.

It's neither better nor worse, just different.

Seconded.

I know I can change whatever I want for my campaign. But I want to be able to use new books that come out. If I've YGMV'd unintentionally, there's little to getting new material Chaosium publishes if my goal is to pick up published adventures/campaigns for ease of use at the table. To some extent, the "You can do whatever you want! Wonder of YGMV!" line of expression is tiresome because that's what the customer's paying for when they buy an RPG supplement. Someone else to do the hard work of worldbuilding, so we can sit down and just play.

I'm fortunate, in that I can afford to expend a good bit of time and energy in writing my own content and muddling through these sorts of things, trying to figure out what the heck the timeline is, etc. But there's not a lot of people who can do that - and sometimes I feel other commentators don't understand that.

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1 hour ago, Crel said:

This is a huge piece of it for me, too.

Seconded.

I know I can change whatever I want for my campaign. But I want to be able to use new books that come out. If I've YGMV'd unintentionally, there's little to getting new material Chaosium publishes if my goal is to pick up published adventures/campaigns for ease of use at the table. To some extent, the "You can do whatever you want! Wonder of YGMV!" line of expression is tiresome because that's what the customer's paying for when they buy an RPG supplement. Someone else to do the hard work of worldbuilding, so we can sit down and just play.

I'm fortunate, in that I can afford to expend a good bit of time and energy in writing my own content and muddling through these sorts of things, trying to figure out what the heck the timeline is, etc. But there's not a lot of people who can do that - and sometimes I feel other commentators don't understand that.

I'm perfectly happy informing people about what is canon and what is not, especially when that is tied to specific questions. 

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