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The Stafford Library - practical game applications


Agentorange

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So, i've been thinking about buying some the Stafford library stuff. I own 2 already: Esrolia, land of 10,000 goddesses and The Missing lands and am undecided about where to go next.

My interests are in practical game applications, geography, descriptions of locations and towns, history, references to cults or powers that could be translated into game terms or ideas.

I am NOT  interested in an endless succession of self referencing mystical navel gazing where each sly reference to a topic completely contradicts the previous reference to that topic , changes the names of everything  (again ) and tells you everything you previously understood about that topic is wrong.....

So with that in mind what are the most useful publications ?

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3 hours ago, Agentorange said:

My interests are in practical game applications, geography, descriptions of locations and towns, history, references to cults or powers that could be translated into game terms or ideas.

Overall, the things that you are interested are not the purpose of the Stafford Library.  These were Greg's writings to explore the deeper backgrounds of myths to see how things subsequently fit in later time periods.  

The most useful and in declining order, beyond what you have (and depending on where you are playing), would IMO be:

1) Heortling Mythology - lots of background myths to draw upon.  Some are more canonical than others though and you'll find a fair amount of content that clearly comes from the HW/HQ1 period.

2) Fortunate Succession - all the Emperors of DH, Carmania, and the Lunars.  Provides much of the historical development of Peloria.  The Lunar-related content is an interesting contrast to the Redline History in the Glorantha Sourcebook.

3) History of the Heortling Peoples - background particularly on 1st & 2nd Age Heortling events with a bit of material on Belintar's Governors and the Kitori.  You see some of the other side of the Adjustment Wars period (vs Esrolia).  

The following get much more "scholarly":

4) Middle Sea Empire - the political side of the God Learner expansion and some discussion of Slontos and Jrustela.

5) Arcane Lore - a mishmash of varied past attempts to work out heroquest approaches and a few heroquests.  

The following are the deepest background works:

6) Revealed Mythologies - if you are interested in Western, Eastern, or Pameltelan myths, then you'd want to explore this one.

7) Glorious ReAscent of Yelm - the solar myths depicted as of mid- to late-1st Age.  Important background for understanding some of the Fortunate Succession, and deep background on the Yelm cult.

8 ) Entekosiad - mythic background of Pelanda/Naveria within Peloria and influences on Lunar mythic development.  

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Interesting. I strip-mined the Entekosiad for my article Holiday Glorantha: The Oronin Valley and found plenty of useful bits. But yes, “deep background” isn’t meant to be “immediately playable reference material.” A fair amount of what I did was giving a spatial and temporal context for all the weird new names: a quick Pelandan primer, much like my History of Malkionism, so you’d know the outline of the most important bits (like: “What’s an Entekos?” “Where’s Wendaria?” “Which Pelandan gods are still worshipped?”).

Here’s how I use that deep and weird material myself. It’s secrets, forgotten lore, stuff that most people in 1620s Glorantha would be surprised to learn. You can discover it by going to remote clans with strange traditions, attending worship at variant shrine cults, delving into the meaning of strange statues and ancient symbols, penetrating forbidden temple complexes and taking away their cursed artifacts.

These are the stories that empower creative heroquesting, the myths the bad guys use to blindside your players, the facts that irritating Grey Sage feels smug explaining to you, the secret identities the Lunars leverage to prove that, in a very real sense, We are All Us. They’re tricks and traps for the Game Master. Hunt through those unfinished works like a magpie, find something sparkly that talks to you, build it into a scenario. That’s what I did with The Duel at Dangerford (Arkat’s Shadow Warriors are in Arcane Lore, albeit I already knew them via Greg’s oral tradition from 1985).

These books aren’t a useful framework for understanding All of Glorantha. They are a nest of wormholes your brain can dive into to help you come up with stories and plots. I mashed up Nestentos/Oslira and Buburstus/Stella Draconis with the more familiar Sun County River Ritual and New Moon Temple Ceremony to write Black Spear, frankly looting the Glorious ReAscent / Gods Wall material to give me a spurious source of depth and complexity. Hector the Librarian knows all this stuff so your players don’t have to.

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I concur with Nick.

The biggest benefit of the Stafford Library texts is reading them in counterpoint to one another, as well. The Glorious Reascent of Yelm is a document written by the scribe Plentonius to mark the ascension of Khordavu as the first legitimate Emperor of Dara Happa in thousands of years and the true reascent of the Imperial Sun... except it isn't. There's some commentaries from later sources in there. And if you go to The Fortunate Succession, it becomes apparent that the Glorious Reascent that we have is something that, in-universe, Yelmgatha rediscovered in the Alkoth library as part of his ascension to become the first legitimate Emperor of Dara Happa in decades and the true reascent of the Imperial Sun over the dualistic Carmanian one.

So we have several holes or crux points here- what happened to the Glorious Reascent in the intervening millennium? How much did Yelmgatha edit it? When did the preserved commentaries date to? What was in copies of the Glorious Reascent that caused it to become lost at some point? Is there a Golden Dragon Society version floating around somewhere, nearly forgotten, perhaps in the finis Pamaltelae of some mazelike mountain library? Or perhaps a dualistic Carmanian one, carried out into the wastes of Charg by the last servants of the Blood Kings? Did Yelmgatha cut out some things that Valare Addi rediscovered when she recorded the Entekosiad?

And now you have a MacGuffin for antagonists or players to seek out and use. Possibly redolent with forbidden knowledge. Perhaps to use it, you need the souls of nine or ninety-nine people who died in impurity, and to repeat a series of apparently nonsensical words, when the Moon is dead... Or whatever.

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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6 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

I strip-mined the Entekosiad ....

Here’s how I use that deep and weird material myself. It’s secrets, forgotten lore, stuff that most people in 1620s Glorantha would be surprised to learn. You can discover it by going to remote clans with strange traditions, attending worship at variant shrine cults, delving into the meaning of strange statues and ancient symbols, penetrating forbidden temple complexes and taking away their cursed artifacts.

All very much how I use the material as well.  I drew on GRoY and Fortunate Succession heavily when working on my Saird-related material.  I use Arcane Lore to find interesting bits for my active games (e.g. the Crossroads, Arkati shadow warriors).  And ways to think about the Other Side of myths, and how myths might branch unexpectedly if you decide to take the "short cut". 

What's useful depends on where/how you play. 

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