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Keeping adventurers from different homelands together


GoldShogun

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Hello all,

About to DM my first Runequest game and need some advice on keeping adventurers from multiple homelands together.

My party consists of:

  • A Yelm-Worshipping Grazelander noble
  • Orlanthi heavy infrantryman from Sartar
  • A Storm Bull Bison Rider
  • An Ernaldan from Esorlia

While I'm still new to the world of Glorantha I do know at least a good amount of information of the world to know that this party is quite diverse culture-wise and also knowing some of the relations between the cultures such as the hostility between the Grazelands and the tribes from Prax. Nonetheless I allowed the players to choose adventurers from the core rulebook cultures as I find it quite interesting to run a campaign with players from diverse cultures and cults. However while I'm quite happy to run a campaign with this party I'm finding it difficult to give a reason to keep the party together especially once an adventure ends and they go back to their regular lives.

I've been thinking of starting the party in Sartar as it is often recommended but even then I am having trouble to figure out what could bring a Yelmite Grazelander there especially as it would be quite difficult to continue his cult obligations and recover rune points. A way around that I have thought of is that the adventurers would return to their homelands after each season but again I find it difficult to find reasons why they would go back to their homelands each season and group up together once a new adventure starts.

Any advice on this situation would be greatly appreciated and any information/tips on how others have kept multi-homeland adventurers together would be great to know!

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In the character history section are there any events that the party has in common? Or, at least, some sets of events that might link pairs. (Front row at the Dragonrise? "My mother fought alongside your father at XYZ, and tells stories of his valor; on her death bed she tasked me to return MNO to your family")

Otherwise you are in the "random meeting at some roadside inn" situation...

 

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There's some actual Yelm-worship in Sartar; but also, other Solar cults (such as Yelmalio/Elmal, which are more-common in Sartar) would probably suffice for getting in Yelm worship.  Similarly, Storm Bullies can likely worship at Orlanth ceremonies (and IIRC there's some actual Storm Bull temples around Sartar, too!); Ernalda is a core Sartar cult, easy-peasey.

+++

I wouldn't worry too much about the ancient Grazelander/Praxian issues as a general case... that was long ago.

It could get more problematic if the Grazelander were bringing his horse into Prax, though, because the anti-horse dictum there is still VERY much in effect, and it'd really put the Bison-rider (Praxian, I presume) in a predicament!  They might join a Pol-Joni expedition or something, at least for a while, to get the bulk of the travel done...  Use the Pol-Joni as "stalking horses," cover for the PC's horse... but the Bison Rider would still need a way to reconcile doing the forbidden.  Stay out of Prax is my main advice, there...  Or have the Grazelander unmounted.

The "noble" can be a cadet-branch or 2nd-son (or third, or fifth, etc), come to Sartar as part of a trade mission, diplomacy, or just guard/retinue of said diplomat.

Last but not least, any/all of them might be out of their normal sphere because some omen or prophecy, by assignment of Tribal or Cult leadership, or some sort of temporary (or permanent) exile for political reasons...

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40 minutes ago, GoldShogun said:

I'm finding it difficult to give a reason to keep the party together especially once an adventure ends and they go back to their regular lives

The simplest is that the Grazelander noble has hired the others as mercenaries to aid his tasks.

Why a group of mercenaries vs. other Grazelanders?  Couple options: 1) he's an exile, and was denied guards to accompany him, but expects to have such; 2) he's on a mission into Sartar and has needs of aides/guards/etc. who know the land and can help negotiate - and is willing to continue to hire those who perform well.

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Friends or kin can cooperate across cult hostilities, otherwise how do you explain the Seven Mothers? What a motley crew they were!

Probably some friendly sparing, and the occasional heated argument. 

Having said that the unnatural cooperation and lack of observance of cult hostilities by the Seven Mothers led to very bad things happening. So if they say all tried to go on a hero quest together, some odd things could happen - they might find themselves facing each other on the hero plane as adversaries, or worse, they might cooperate in ways which violate the myths and invite unwelcome consequences. Maybe they encounter an empty shadow which invites them to discover new ways to resolve cult hostilities, if they overcome it - just like the goddess did.

Edited by EricW
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There are several group 'hooks' you can use in Glorantha

- Political: Are they pro- or anti-Lunar? Do they support Samestina of Esrolia or Fazzur Wideread in Tarsh?

- Friends and Family are discussed above with other comments

- Shared History: Did they, or a parent, have the same incident in their family history?

- Same liege or leader: There is a network of fealty in Orlanthi society... Using the Colymar from the GM Screen Pack as an example: One character serves Queen Leika, another might being in Lady Nameless' train, a third might serve one of the others in the Colymar Ring. The characters may not know each other, but their lieges or priests might and that's what leads to a connection.

- Traditional: And if all else fails, have them get into a bar fight at Geo's River Inn 😆😃

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My answer to this question for the game I currently run was giving a diverse set of characters a shared Loyalty passion: Argrath Whitebull.  The group is kept together despite being of highly varied backgrounds because they serve together as a cadre of Argrath's Eaglebrown Warlocks.  Also, they're on an extended sea voyage now, that tends to keep them clustered.

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1 hour ago, GoldShogun said:

While I'm still new to the world of Glorantha I do know at least a good amount of information of the world to know that this party is quite diverse culture-wise and also knowing some of the relations between the cultures such as the hostility between the Grazelands and the tribes from Prax.

Oh my word yes.  Plus minor details like the whole "your god murdered my god" angle, and so on. 🙂

1 hour ago, GoldShogun said:

I've been thinking of starting the party in Sartar as it is often recommended but even then I am having trouble to figure out what could bring a Yelmite Grazelander there especially as it would be quite difficult to continue his cult obligations and recover rune points. A way around that I have thought of is that the adventurers would return to their homelands after each season but again I find it difficult to find reasons why they would go back to their homelands each season and group up together once a new adventure starts.

That's probably sensible, as otherwise you either have to rationalise why they've all relocated to the same place, which might be even more of a brainache.  Or abandon the 'seasonal' structure and have them live hand-to-mouth as freebooters, or otherwise handwave what's happening.

I'd suggest basically (possibly a combination of) two approaches:-

  • Ask questions, use the answers;
  • Run something, see what happens.

Obviously whatever motivation they might have, you really want player buy-in for.  So if they have ideas about that, or come up with any when gently led, go with that (or some enlightened compromise on those).  Common character history events, passions, or takes on Current Events as has been suggested are all excellent candidates.  If none of the characters (like most obviously the noble) work as a natural leader or common point of reference, then see if there's a two-degrees-of-kevin-bacon connection between them that might work as some sort of patron figure, located wherever your most convenient base-of-operations might be.  Somebody that fought alongside each of the PCs and decides to use them as "problem-solvers", for example.  Run with that if it works, or let the players find their own rationale.  Assuming they're the sort to do that, and not just unpick it for the sake of it!

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Another solution....

Add a year to the characters ages. Give them 25 percentile points in each other's languages [Tradetalk is wonderful for haggling and computing compound interest, but it's not your go-to tongue for strategy or love poetry]. Then tell them they've been working as caravan guards for a year and their patron has decided to retire. He pays them off and now this pre-made party of adventurers is loose at heel.

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1 minute ago, svensson said:

 

It was the only possible response to that quote.

While this isn't the RQ subforum, I feel that Miss It, Special It, Crit It, and Fumble It were also options.

1 minute ago, svensson said:

Now boot up a 'bard-core' version of "Gimme Some Lovin'" and we're good to go....

Am unable to assist on that particular ditty, but here's the latest smash from Hildegard von Blingin', surely the patron muse of Gloranthan gamers, especially given the geographical (near-reference).

 

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11 hours ago, GoldShogun said:
  • A Yelm-Worshipping Grazelander noble
  • Orlanthi heavy infrantryman from Sartar
  • A Storm Bull Bison Rider
  • An Ernaldan from Esorlia

there are a lot of  options, some depending on your players more than the characters

 

some are already described before

 

the easiest ways :

you start the adventure with a group of mercenaries (the pcs) hired by a merchant. Maybe the merchant is a true merchant and (s)he will drive the pcs to your first scenario start place. Maybe (s)he is not a true merchant and drive the team to an ambush. Maybe s(he) will die and let the pcs alone somewhere

 

they are all drinking in a tavern (Apple lane) ? they don't know each others. there are not a lot of people, maybe just some farmers and a group of warriors. and there is an alarm : a chaotic monster arrived ! the farmers are too drunk to do anything, the warriors are to few to manage the demon, they need the pc's help.

At the end... warriors are dead, Apple lane is safe, thanks the pc. now they know each others and fought a common ennemy

 

 

the last option is a group of slaves (very usefull when you play with people coming from far far away, but warning I know, that people may have issue with such material) I found it in a french campagn years ago.

 you can even play a scene with each pc (if you have time, a different soloquest by pc means 1-2h for each of them but for you that means x 4) it will help every one to understand the mechanics and be the focus of their own adventure

For example the grazelander noble quarrels with another one about a future wife (one or 2 passion then : love XX, Hate XY). in the night he is stunned and sold far away in Prax.

The orlanthi warrior is outlawed then sold because he did something wrong in the clan (guildy or not, same give passions).

The praxian is a victim of another tribe raid so of course sold in prax.

And the Ernaldan refused to marry with someone, the grandmothers are angry, she had to flee with her lover. But her lover is a bad guy and after some days far from her homeland, he let her alone and she finished in the hand of some morokhant. They don't do a lot of bad things (Ernalda protection ?)  but a profit is a profit

they have to find a way to escape, once free they are maybe bound. And you get some hooks to future scenarios

 

 

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Sometimes one can bond over past hostility, as well.  I knew two veterans of the war between the Afrika Korps and the British 8th Army who became firm friends, even though one of them might actually have shot the other's finger off!  (They had actually identified precisely where they were on that day, and realised they were firing at each other from neighbouring sand dunes...)

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9 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

Sometimes one can bond over past hostility, as well.  I knew two veterans of the war between the Afrika Korps and the British 8th Army who became firm friends, even though one of them might actually have shot the other's finger off!  (They had actually identified precisely where they were on that day, and realised they were firing at each other from neighbouring sand dunes...)

Well, the War in North Africa was VERY unusual in that it was called by veterans of all sides, 'The War Without Hate'. Because the environment was so difficult to fight in and so debilitating to men and machines, the men who served a long time in it learned to respect one another in ways that were rarely seen in other theaters.

In a Bronze Age setting like Glorantha, war is more... 'personal' or 'passionate', I guess. I can't find the exact term I'm looking for. What I mean is that most combatants are not 'soldiers'... they're warriors. They aren't trained with a sense of detachment about their enemies; quite oppositely, they're trained to hate their enemies almost from the time they can understand language. Every Orlanthi knows a string of curses at Yelmites, Lunars, and even opposing tribes of Orlanthi that would be cause of an immediate duel if they were uttered in 'mixed company'. And their opponents know an equal number of insults just as offensive. THEN you add in the cult and mythic reasons for hating each other.

However none of this forbids or even precludes friendships forming across cultural or cult lines. I once played a Yelmalio cultist in a party of Orlanthi. Once a season, on the day between Yelmalio and Orlanth's seasonal holy day, we'd ritually do the Riddling contest. And we'd exchange the exact same gold Wheel every time one of us won [we drilled a hole in it and put a thong through it so the winner would wear it]. Clever humans can keep all their cult obligations and friendships if care is taken to respect the pride and reputation of each other.

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Something else to point out about this particular group of players...

None of them are actually cult enemies... Yes, the Yelmite and Orlanthi will have a certain hostility, but as @Ali the Helering and I point out, those can be worked around.

The Yelmite and Orlanthi are ritually hostile; certain religious observances will have to be worked out. But Ernalda is present in both the Sky and Storm pantheons and is acknowledged in the Praxian. The Storm Bull, Orlanthi, and Ernaldan are all fine [yes, there are cultural differences but not insurmountable], and the Yelmite is not an enemy of Storm Bull and can respect the Bull's function as a Chaos Killer. And they have a cultural tie as fellow nomads. The possible ties are there.

If you had a Lunar who was a secret Ogre in the party, that'd be a whole 'nuther ball of [very bloody] wax.

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Another idea:

Both the Grazelander and the Orlanthi are competing for the hand of the Ernaldan. There are mythical reasons for it, as both Yelm and Orlanth competed for her. Also, both the Grazelander and Orlanthi families would benefit from such a marriage, but she is to choose her groom after he has properly shown his value, and has forced both to swear they won't harm each other no matter how. The Ernaldan is thus the leader of the party, and they go on missions where the Yelmite and the Orlanthi are always trying to outdo the other.

The Praxian is her bodyguard since the Siege of Nochet.

Edited by Runeblogger
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Read my Runeblog about RuneQuest and Glorantha at: http://elruneblog.blogspot.com.es/

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22 minutes ago, svensson said:

[...] the Yelmite is not an enemy of Storm Bull and can respect the Bull's function as a Chaos Killer.

Bear in mind the Yelmite is actually a Yu-Kargzantling (if you will).  Their first...  difference of emphasis is likely less whether to be smugly complacent (paging Dara Happa!) or rabidly fanatical about chaos, but to stare balefully at the other's choice of riding animal and mutter "... unspeakable abomination..." under their respective breaths.

22 minutes ago, svensson said:

If you had a Lunar who was a secret Ogre in the party, that'd be a whole 'nuther ball of [very bloody] wax.

Well, yes.  Because of the "secret" part.

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12 hours ago, Alex said:

Bear in mind the Yelmite is actually a Yu-Kargzantling (if you will).  Their first...  difference of emphasis is likely less whether to be smugly complacent (paging Dara Happa!) or rabidly fanatical about chaos, but to stare balefully at the other's choice of riding animal and mutter "... unspeakable abomination..." under their respective breaths.

As long as they aren't in Prax, it's not so hard for the Praxian to keep the cursing to mutterings under their breath since the horse riding prohibition doesn't really apply to the rich, fat, grassy lands of strangers. "Just let him try and bring that finicky, water guzzling, grass eater to my country and see how well it does."

And, as far as I recall, the Yu-Kargzantling don't have a prohibition on other people riding strange, non-horse animals. That the Stormbull does would just be one more proof that the Bully just doesn't understand the golden path of righteous living the way the Yu-Kargzantling does. "Poor benighted fool, riding some strange animal. He doesn't even know enough to shake the desert sand out of his undergarments. The chaffing probably explains why he is so angry so much of the time."

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