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Citizens of the Lunar Empire - out now in print & PDF


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“Welcome to your new apartment, Citizens! New to Glamour? Well, I’m sure you’ll fit right in. Rent is payable in advance...”

Citizens of the Lunar Empire by Chris Gidlow is a sourcebook for urban adventures for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. It focuses on the day-to-day lives of the working-class heroes of the Lunar capital.

Inside, you will find a detailed home base for your adventurers: The Insula, a typical multi-storey residential city-block. A self-contained microcosm of Lunar urban society, it is home to many families and businesses, ranging from scribes and traders on the lower floors to the unemployed, squatters, temple dancers and students at the higher levels.

This 172-page book contains:

  • Maps, floorplans and elevations.
  • Descriptions of 12 businesses and 25 families.
  • Portraits and statistics for 70 NPCs.
  • 60 adventure hooks for your urban campaign.
  • Details of daily life in an ancient city, from bread-making to waste disposal.
  • Rules for making a living and keeping a roof over your head in the sophisticated Lunar Empire.

Full details of the two main cults featured in Citizens, along with a detailed gazetteer and map of the city of Glamour, can be found in A Rough Guide to Glamour, also available from the Jonstown Compendium.

Written by Chris Gidlow. Cover painting by Mark Smylie. Lavish interior artwork by Dario Corallo. Maps, plans and elevations by Julie Hudson Gidlow, Mike Hagen & Colin Driver; architectural views, sections & perspectives by Sarah Brooke; layout & design by Nick Brooke.

174 page book, plus 16 page high-resolution Map Pack. PDF digital download. $19.95.

DRIVETHRURPG LINK: https://bit.ly/2Y5cvyC

YOUTUBE VIDEO PREVIEW: 

 

Edited by Nick Brooke
Now available in print!
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I see two characters in Citizens as having a special relationship with the goddess Glamour. (Almost everyone in the book is an initiate, apart from the children and the Char-Un squatters)
 
One is Sandor, one of the barbers, who is a lightning sketch artist. When we were assembling the book, we realised he had probably illustrated all the residents using his red chalks (that is: Dario’s art in the book is Sandor’s art from the Insula), but there is no picture of Sandor himself in our book.
 
To create one, he would need to look in the barbershop's Mirror, a priceless artifact of the Glamour cult, and it seems he is reluctant to do that. The Heart of Glass always shows a true reflection, after all, and though he is an Acolyte of Glamour, perhaps Sandor doesn’t want to see himself as he really is?
 
(Well, it’s either that or else we’d blown the art budget: you decide)
 
The flipside of that is Strello, the private informer.
Quote

“Down the fabled streets of Glamour must tread the dusty sandals of a man who is no fable, a man not dazzled by the Moonlight and the Glamour, a man of both halves, seeing the silver and the tarnish. Only a man who is himself informed can inform upon the lives of others.”

-- Citizens of the Lunar Empire

Strello is a square-jawed, two-fisted, gin-slugging kind of guy. When we were working out the Insula residents’ cult membership, we put our hard-boiled detective down as an Initiate of the city’s cult. But Glamour is a cult of Illusion, the opposite of getting to the Truth, which is surely a detective’s main motivation. So in a sense, Strello lies to the Glamour cult about the appeal of its Illusions. As a member, he can cultivate informants among the “low-status hairdressers and trinket sellers,” and has an entrée to the nightlife demi-monde of the rich and famous. As for his more criminal abilities: “Don’t ask how I picked up those skills. Let’s just say I was young, and I needed the money.”

But you can’t fool a Goddess. Strello’s personal relationship with Glamour is an ironic courtship, because She can see right through him. But he keeps up the pretence anyway, and She loves him for it. Like Chandler’s Marlow, he’s a knight devoted to the Truth Rune in a city of frippery and Illusion. We thought there might be mythical implications – maybe Glamour needs one honest man, who can see Her as She really is? Strello is a kind of reverse scapegoat, for whom She has a special fondness. And I am absolutely certain that at some point the Goddess Glamour Herself will sashay into Strello’s office as a prospective client.
 
(NB: in my own headcanon -- not on any printed page -- behind the scenes Glamour is the busy screenwriter / newspaper columnist / narrative voice who tells and gives structure to the stories in Her City. Does She show Her favour towards Strello by sending a man through a door with a crossbow in his hand whenever his investigations get bogged down?)
 
We wondered briefly if he also should be a Lhankor Mhy initiate, but decided he can get any forensic support he needs from sorcerer acquaintances attached to the vigiles. (Mike Hagen: “Irrippi Ontor runs a closed shop, that’s why Ed Nigma is a Lhankor Mhy cultist”). Strello isn’t a follower of Lhankor Mhy or Irrippi Ontor himself: maybe he should have been, but that’s not the path he took. He’s carrying his Torch of Truth down a moonlit alley of Illusions, and learning what’s real in a city built from dreams.
 
(There is an elegant flipside to Glamour there too – She doesn’t actually do much Herself, and is reliant on an array of other talents. But She knows who they are and how to get them to help Her. It’s the Harmony Rune, innit? She can play them like the strings of a lyre)
 
Oh, I almost forgot. Copper Best-Seller in a day. w00t!!
 

Copper.png

Edited by Nick Brooke
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On 1/23/2021 at 7:19 AM, Nick Brooke said:

“Welcome to your new apartment, Citizens! New to Glamour? Well, I’m sure you’ll fit right in. Rent is payable in advance...”

Citizens of the Lunar Empire by Chris Gidlow is a sourcebook for urban adventures for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. It focuses on the day-to-day lives of the working-class heroes of the Lunar capital.

Inside, you will find a detailed home base for your adventurers: The Insula, a typical multi-storey residential city-block. A self-contained microcosm of Lunar urban society, it is home to many families and businesses, ranging from scribes and traders on the lower floors to the unemployed, squatters, temple dancers and students at the higher levels.

This 172-page book contains:

  • Maps, floorplans and elevations.
  • Descriptions of 12 businesses and 25 families.
  • Portraits and statistics for 70 NPCs.
  • 60 adventure hooks for your urban campaign.
  • Details of daily life in an ancient city, from bread-making to waste disposal.
  • Rules for making a living and keeping a roof over your head in the sophisticated Lunar Empire.

Full details of the two main cults featured in Citizens, along with a detailed gazetteer and map of the city of Glamour, can be found in A Rough Guide to Glamour, also available from the Jonstown Compendium.

Written by Chris Gidlow. Cover painting by Mark Smylie. Lavish interior artwork by Dario Corallo. Maps, plans and elevations by Julie Hudson Gidlow, Mike Hagen & Colin Driver; architectural views, sections & perspectives by Sarah Brooke; layout & design by Nick Brooke.

174 page book, plus 16 page high-resolution Map Pack. PDF digital download. $19.95.

DRIVETHRURPG LINK: https://bit.ly/2Y5cvyC

YOUTUBE VIDEO PREVIEW: 

 

Wow it looks great. I especially like the Italian feel in the short clip. I gotta get me one of those Glamour dry gin bottles. Any plans on making a paper version? 

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9 minutes ago, Eagle Talon said:

Wow it looks great. I especially like the Italian feel in the short clip. I gotta get me one of those Glamour dry gin bottles. Any plans on making a paper version? 

Thank you! As always, we’ve prepared our book to be printable (w/ proper layout, etc.), and we’d love to sell it in hardcover (not least so we can have copies on our own bookshelves!), but the Jonstown Compendium rules say we need to sell 250+ digital copies first; if that changes, we'll be sure to let you know.

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2 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

So does this include family history timeline, cultural skills, and likely occupations for a character originating from Glamour?

It does not; I am sorry if anyone led you to believe that it would.

There is a statblock for a typical Citizen (which you can dissect for clues, if you feel so inclined), while the >100 named residents have a wide range of occupations (including “child,” “unemployed” and “beggar”). There are essays about how a variety of trades would work, inc. some that aren’t represented among the residents (e.g. the “Mud & Weed” men, or working schoolteachers), but they don’t have any %s or rules attached (other than the cost of living rules, which are designed to drive stories rather than simulate an economy).

You can see what you’re getting by opening the preview on DriveThruRPG; it includes the ToC and introductory pages. The penultimate preview page talks about some likely parties of adventurers - the default “out-of-towners,” or an Insula-based party of established residents, from kids (the Unriver Gang) up to Rune levels.

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15 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

So does this include family history timeline, cultural skills, and likely occupations for a character originating from Glamour?

It is more of a Rogues' Gallery, with sketches of the inhabitants of the Insula, or city block.

Edited by soltakss
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15 hours ago, soltakss said:

It is more of a Rogues' Gallery, with sketches of the inhabitants of the Insula, or city block.

As I mentioned in the intro post, the Insula is a microcosm of Lunar urban society. So whereas the villagers in Apple Lane (old or new) now look like a weird bunch of oddballs and not particularly "Sartarite," Chris's intention in writing the Insula was to provide a slice of everyday life in a Lunar city. It should be easy enough to transplant anywhere as far as Furthest; while I wouldn't think a straight Mansions of the Gods plot would work (raising a Lunar Insula next to a Sartarite village), there's no reason you couldn't give it a shot if that's what tickles your fancy. (Rovanos the Grocer is exactly the kind of guy who'd be delighted to "win" an apartment in the Mansions of the Goddess)

Oh! While I'm here: the book now has four reviews and six ratings on DriveThruRPG (five of them are ). Check 'em out!

Edited by Nick Brooke
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  • 2 weeks later...
Many years ago, Chris Gidlow and I had an idle chat about the way soap-opera episodes end with a freeze-frame cliff-hanger after some dramatic revelation, then pick up again next time with a cut to a new scene, rather than exploring the inevitable -- perhaps violent, or at least exposition-heavy -- consequences of what was just said. Instead, the EastEnders theme tune strikes up, the credits roll, and any escalation / clarification / resolution is left hanging for another day.
 
In Citizens of the Lunar Empire, we learn why this happens: Laelaps the Wyter, acting to preserve the harmony and peace of the block, can intervene whenever events would otherwise come to a boil: "they ensure the animosities of Insula life rarely overflow into physical violence." So a confrontation has escalated to the point where protagonists are about to lay into each other -- behind the scenes, the GM scratches some wyter Rune points: freeze frame, roll end credits, and everyone goes quietly about their business.
 
Citizens of the Lunar Empire is the newest Silver best-selling book on the Jonstown Compendium, detailing a complete city-block in the Lunar Empire's capital of Glamour for use in RuneQuest games and campaigns. The city and its cults are described in some detail in the Gold best-seller A Rough Guide to Glamour, while the scheming machinations and secret desires of fifty of its rulers are laid bare in Life of Moonson, Book One.
 
All these titles are available now from the Jonstown Compendium: http://tiny.cc/jonstown
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THE OTHER BLOCKS

We’re used to playing clan-based campaigns out in the boonies of Sartar, away from the cities and royal roads, where the two main pastimes are cattle-rustling and nursing ancestral feuds. As everyone knows, the two neighbours every clan absolutely requires for dramatic storytelling purposes are a worryingly successful Rival Clan, and a pitifully weak Poor Clan.

The Rival Clan are assholes who appear to have more political, social and economic clout than you, their leaders are perceived as noble heroes, and if you guys don’t get your act together they might achieve all of the greatness that would otherwise fall to you. On the other hand, you feel obliged to help the Poor Clan, although most of the scrapes they get into are entirely their own fault, and they never have much to give you by way of reward. The tensions these relationships create are a boon to storytelling gamemasters.

The Insula, the setting for Chris Gidlow's Citizens of the Lunar Empire is, essentially, a vertical village. The ground floor has the shops and shrines, the richer citizens live in the prime first and second floor apartments, then they get poorer as you go up, until you reach the tenement slum of the illegal fifth floor and the squatters’ yurt on the roof. Like any clan village it has its own tutelary spirit (the wyter), a valiant defender and law-enforcer (the block militiaman), and in a hilariously limited sense its clan ring (the block committee).

But it stands at the crossroads of Victory and Plenty Streets, and there’s another Insula on each of the corners. Only their facing ground floor retail establishments are described, but these are, in order: the Rival Insula, the Poor Insula, and the Blank Insula.

The Rival Insula, across from us on Victory Street, stands for the Rival Clan. You fear that its residents are swankier and more successful than you and your neighbours. Their building has nicer decorations and is kept in better repair. They support the wrong chariot team. Their trendy wine-bar on Plenty Street, we can assume, is more aspirational (and expensive) than the Insula bar. One of Chris’s models for this was the Red Dwarf episode Back to Reality, when the crew sees their replacements effortlessly overcoming hurdles, solving riddles and triumphing against challenges where they had struggled. Looking across from their apartment window, your adventurers get a glimpse into the apartment of their more successful mirror-universe counterparts.

Across Plenty Street stands the Poor Insula. And just like your no-good kin down at Rotroot or any other struggling neighbours from your clan-based game, they’re there as a burden, a source of pity, a reservoir of victims and bad examples. The folk from the Poor Insula can’t catch a break. They’ll screw up and suffer disasters. Their block risks being overrun by the authorities, or the Association, or the Special Guest Villain of the week, or a zombie plague, or whatever weird new cult or disease or fad is at large in the city, whenever it suits the GM’s plot. They serve as a standing example – or a horrible warning – of how everything can go wrong.

And finally, there’s the Blank Insula. Apart from the restaurant on the corner, it’s completely undefined, just like the original Blank Lands from RuneQuest Classic, or the unnamed villages on Jeff's new map of Dragon Pass. Whatever you need handy can be there, just off the Square of the Young Elementals.

We don't mention it in the book (because it's so obvious), but just as Michael O'Brien reused the Sun Dome Temple floorplans as his Old Sun Dome dungeon in Sun County, you can reuse our Insula floor plans for escapades venturing into the Rival Block, the Poor Block, the Blank Block, or just about anywhere else in the regimented Right Hand of Outer Glamour.

Citizens of the Lunar Empire ($19.95 PDF) and the Rough Guide to Glamour ($14.95 PDF / $29.95 print) are available now from the Jonstown Compendium.

Artwork by Sarah Brooke, executed in SketchUp: A View Down Plenty Street

image.png

Edited by Nick Brooke
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5 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

We’re used to playing clan-based campaigns out in the boonies of Sartar, away from the cities and royal roads, where the two main pastimes are cattle-rustling and nursing ancestral feuds. As everyone knows, the two neighbours every clan absolutely requires for dramatic storytelling purposes are a worryingly successful Rival Clan, and a pitifully weak Poor Clan.

Probably the best summary I've seen on setting up on-going clan/neighborhood dynamics!  Would make a nice little appendix for the Citizens book.   

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  • Nick Brooke changed the title to Citizens of the Lunar Empire - out now in print & PDF

Chris Gidlow writes:

Quote
Wow! Those lovely folk at the Chaosium said they wanted printed copies of Citizens of the Lunar Empire. So we pulled out all the stops to make it happen. Nick Brooke's amazing design and Mark Smylie's cleverly extended cover art got it ready for print. Dario Corallo's interior art has come out beautifully!
This gorgeous book is now available: $39.95 on DriveThruRPG. Thanks to everyone who made this possible!

 

Citizens of the Lunar Empire.jpg

Citizens frontispiece.jpg

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