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Campaign post-mortem comments


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Last year (some months ago, now), I completed a full-fledged 13G campaign: all 10 levels, over 100 sessions spread out over something like 3 years real-time. I present a few observations on long-term play.

We leaned heavily on the YGWV principle: only one of my four players had any experience in Glorantha, and two had little interest in doing any reading beyond the 13A & 13G rulebooks. I took my own suggestion for a group of Glorantha newbies and started the campaign in the City of 10,000 Magicians. The characters were sent out by the City Council to investigate matters after the Dragonrise – the first time anyone had left in generations if not centuries. Thus, the players could learn about the world right alongside their characters. Also, the undefined nature of the City also let the PCs choose any sort of character and build the society around it.

Which freedom they definitely used, especially since most of them preferred choices other than the special 13G classes. I joked that they were really a standard four-person 13th Age adventuring party: a fighter (well, Humakti), a wizard, a cleric, and The Occultist. Coming from the City, they were of immediate interest to important people in the surrounding area, which fit nicely with the generally high-powered nature of the 13A rules set. I used less of the ‘Chaos Rising’ concept than 13G suggests, but the Hero Wars are already a good excuse for dangerous stuff to be going on at pretty much all power levels simultaneously.

13A/13G is extremely focused on combat: fortunately, it’s also very good at handling it. Fights were generally tense affairs, and it is remarkable how well the classes combine being balanced in play with very different mechanical tone and feel. (This was also true in the 13A game I was playing in, which overlapped with running this one.) The players found legitimate dodges on the rare occasions that someone was in danger of actual death; to my surprise, we never quite used the ‘heroic return’ rules. Having a cleric, a much better healer than any 13G class, may have made the difference there.

Scenes that weren’t combat ended up being less focused on NPC interactions and more on world-tourism than I initially expected: the players were intrigued enough by the Gloranthan setting to like the idea of going far afield. Not just weird heroquests, though they did some of those, but to distant parts of the map, especially after they managed to enchant a flying boat towards the middle of champion tier.

The steep power curve of 13A means even first-level characters don’t feel weak, and by the time they reached epic tier it seemed it seemed entirely appropriate to be having epic-scale impact on the world – the first being saving the City of 10,000 Magicians from its doom (which of course had been an early goal) using a PC-designed heroquest.

I could natter on at length, but this seems  like a long enough post. Any point of special interest, I can expand on.

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As it happens, I took unusual care with the very first heroquest (third session of the game); since 3/4 of the players had no prior experience with the concept, I wrote out the entire myth for them. It's the foundation myth for a clan, nearly completely destroyed by a chaos incursion, that they had agreed to help. A young boy, one of the few survivors, recounted...

The Black Well myth

This happened in the Silver Age, after the great battle against Chaos had been won but before the Lightbringers had returned the sun to the Sky.

The Vestantes tribe was growing again, and had become too many. So the boldest among them, such as our first parents, set out to find new lands to settle in. Our great-grandfather was the greatest warrior of the tribe [trace with right hand the runes AIR / DEATH] and our great-grandmother was the greatest beauty [trace with left hand the runes EARTH / ILLUSION]: their names are only spoken in the secret rites of our clan.

They traveled far from the Vestantes home and came to this land, a good place, wounded in the Great Darkness and now just starting to grow again. But they found a little trickle of slime, the spoor of Chaos, coming out of the ground.

Great-grandmother sang open the Earth, and they could hear far away the spirit of the tula wailing to be free. So they followed the trickle of Chaos, and sound of the spirit ever deeper under the Earth.

The Darkness drew about them and grew stronger, but they could always follow the call of the land’s spirit, like the roaring of waters, even when they could no longer see the path. At last the Darkness grew thick, and lashed out at them with claws and teeth and life-freezing cold. Great-grandfather faced the elemental, and drove it away, but it left him a shade. But he could still walk about, and even talk, though he was dead, and by that they knew they had entered into the Underworld.

They went forward and came to a place filled with thorns, but the thorns could not touch the shade of Great-grandfather and flinched aside. Then they came to a barrier of burning Fire, but Great-grandmother sang to it until the flames bowed to let them pass.

Finally they came into a great chamber, where the slime of Chaos gathered itself up to destroy them and draw them down into nothingness. But they fought it off, together they fought past it, to the black flowing river that was calling to them. Grand-grandmother’s hand was bleeding when she reached into the river, and the touch of life and blood awoke it, so that it changed its course into the chamber and arose in great strength.

The great river, Darkness and Water mingled together, washed away the slime of Chaos. It carried our first parents helpless in its flow, back the path they had taken, all the way to the surface of the Earth. The water cast them out just as the light of the first dawn touched the land, and the touch of the light calmed the water. And the spirit of the black well, joined with the light of the dawn, restored Great-grandfather to life, and cleansed the land from the taint of Chaos, and for a time all things were right.

***

The stations should be fairly obvious. One was much more difficult than expected: the 'place filled with thorns' was much more hostile -- it was actually a node of aldryami slowly ripening towards the planned reforestation of the region, which they knew nothing about at the time and which I planned at that time to be more important to the campaign than it turned out to be.

More later, perhaps.

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