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Dorastor Campaign

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I'll be running a Dorastor campaign in a month or two with a group of players very new to Glorantha. Has anyone here run a campaign in Dorastor? What was your experience like? Do you have any advice for others planning to run games in Dorastor?

My group wants a focus on the 'chaotic horror' aspect so I don't think they'd be interested in the Risklands campaign as written. How did you tie all the various factions in Dorastor together? What was Ralzakark's end game? What was in the Cleft of Dorasta? How did you play up tensions between the Exiles and the Bilini? What were some 'less obvious' plot hooks you centered adventures around?

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4 hours ago, azrooh said:

My group wants a focus on the 'chaotic horror' aspect so I don't think they'd be interested in the Risklands campaign as written.

You could follow the Paulus Longvale thread (i.e. from Cults of Terror) as that encountered many of the chaotic horrors in the context of the Lunars trying to deal with stabilization of the Lunar-backed regime. 

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13 hours ago, azrooh said:

What was Ralzakark's end game?

If you've got the Guide to Glorantha, Ralzakark's end game is clear for all to see.

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I think to get close enough for horror, the lunar angle is the best for the players.

I'd try to do a plot where the Lunars start to treat and deal with Chaos, and get freaked by chaos, and they have to deal with the dichotomy of an accepting doctrine vrs an evil experience.

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You could very much use Call of Cthulhu rules for a game like this... in fact, it might be an ideal rules system for such a game. Lunar Investigators trying to deal/treat with Ralz without going insane and embracing chaos themselves. 

You would want to introduce an Illumination mechanic - possibly as a pool of "false SAN" that Investigators could use to overcome/mask their ever-increasing chaos taints.

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Moonboat Down is a good introductory scenario.  Have them crash a moonboat in Dorastor and then have to find their way back to the Empire.

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Thanks for the responses! My players are pretty set on Orlanthi culture, and a couple even have favorite cults they'd like to play picked out. I do want to run a Lunar campaign with them eventually though.

Right now my thought is to involve the players, whether directly or indirectly, in some sort of struggle between the various aspects of Ralzakark. Maybe the scorpion-arm aspect thinks the unicorn-head aspect is becoming too impure (i.e. orderly) and orchestrates a coup, maybe one aspect wants to seize whatever's in the Cleft of Dorasta while the other thinks it's a bad idea, maybe the human-like aspect wants to manipulate the PCs into turning the other aspects against each other... lots of options.

My question now is - if it came down to it, would a follower of a storm tribe cult (assuming no Uroxi) support the 'orderly chaos' of the unicorn-head aspect over the 'chaotic chaos' of the scorpion-arm aspect? Assuming they were forced to choose one or die, would the 'typical' storm tribe cultist prefer death or would they be open to adopting a 'lesser of two evils' rationale? What sorts of situations would force their hand when it comes to supporting something as evil as Ralzakark?

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On 3/1/2017 at 7:59 PM, azrooh said:

I'll be running a Dorastor campaign in a month or two with a group of players very new to Glorantha. Has anyone here run a campaign in Dorastor? What was your experience like? Do you have any advice for others planning to run games in Dorastor?

I ran a long-running Dorastor campaign, which you can find at http://www.soltakss.com/indexplaces.html#Dorastor.

Make it as nasty and horrific as you can.

Have a number of factions who work against each other, some supporting Ralzakark, some secretly opposed to him. We had Ralzakark, the Vampires of the Tower of Lead, the Giant Vampire (Just because a 15m Giant turned into a vampire is cool), Thanatari, the Hellwood Elves, the Poisonthorn Elves and various other groups, all scheming and plotting.

Introduce things carefully and gently. Don't just assume that the PCs are going to die immediately. On the outskirts of Dorastor have normal chaos, like Broos, Scorpionmen, Jack o'Bears, Ogres and Walktapi. Further in, use more and more powerful foes. Demigods should be used sparingly and as people to interact with, not necessarily just to smash PCs.

In my campaign, some of the NPC Leaders were quite reasonable and were following a long-term plan, these included Ralzakark and the Queen of the Tower of Lead. Others were completely deranged and unpredictable, these included the Vampire Giant, Hellwood Elves, Poisonthorn Elves and Thanatari. 

 

My group wants a focus on the 'chaotic horror' aspect so I don't think they'd be interested in the Risklands campaign as written. How did you tie all the various factions in Dorastor together? What was Ralzakark's end game? 

 

In my campaign, Ralzakark wanted to participate in the Hero Wars and be the ruler of Nysalor's Bright Empire, basically he wanted to usurp the Red Emperor, this makes him an ally of any Orlanthi trying to fight the Lunar Empire. The Giant Vampire King wanted to take over the Tower of Lead, but was prevented from acting against the Vampires by Vivamort's ban on vampires killing vampires, so used the PCs as proxies. The Queen of the Tower of Lead wanted to take Ralzakark's place as the Bright King, or Bright Queen, to bring back Nysalor's Bright Empire. The Hellwood Elves wanted to reforest Dorastor and the nearby lands with a Chaotic Great Forest. The Poisonthorn Elves wanted to break the Hellwood Elves and purge Dorastor of everything except Poisonthorn Aldryami. The Thanatari wanted to create a Temple of Knowledge that contained all the knowledge of the Bright Empire and to properly unite the Thanatari sub-cults. Krarsht wanted to undermine everyone in Dorastor and the Lunar Empire. 

All used the PCs as proxies, planting misinformation and telling lies to them, giving them information about the other factions and how they could be defeated.

What was in the Cleft of Dorasta? 

We played the Cleft of Dorastor is the place of Wild Fertility, so nothing bred true there, making Dorastor the goddess of all Crops and all Plants. Any field blessed by her would grow different crops, so planting it with wheat might produce wheat, barley, oats, pumpkins and elderberries. This could be a blessing in some ways. The PCs in the campaign HeroQuested to cure Dorastor and took away the wildness of her Fertility, allowing her crops to breed true, but also allowed her to keep a non-chaotic wildness.

How did you play up tensions between the Exiles and the Bilini?

To be honest, we didn't really touch that. Our PCs were not Orlanthi and were Rune Levels when they went to Dorastor, so petty local politics was beneath them at that stage.

What were some 'less obvious' plot hooks you centered adventures around?

Quite often, we had hooks based on powerful NPCs or lost secrets. The various factions sent the PCs on a number of missions against the other factions. The PCs also hunted down magical long-lost artifacts.

 

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On 3/2/2017 at 11:45 PM, azrooh said:

Thanks for the responses! My players are pretty set on Orlanthi culture, and a couple even have favorite cults they'd like to play picked out. I do want to run a Lunar campaign with them eventually though.

The Exiles plot would fit, then.

They could have been exiled from their own lands and forced to live in the Risklands. As Adventurers, they might not necessarily be farmers, they could be wanderers, travelling from stead to stead, protecting them against chaos incursions. 

 

Right now my thought is to involve the players, whether directly or indirectly, in some sort of struggle between the various aspects of Ralzakark. Maybe the scorpion-arm aspect thinks the unicorn-head aspect is becoming too impure (i.e. orderly) and orchestrates a coup, maybe one aspect wants to seize whatever's in the Cleft of Dorasta while the other thinks it's a bad idea, maybe the human-like aspect wants to manipulate the PCs into turning the other aspects against each other... lots of options.

That makes sense and is similar to my campaign. You could get a lot of plots simply from doing this.

The different Masks of Ralzakark are interesting. I played that they happened when Ralzakark was killed and his soul shattered. One of the Aspects of Ralzakark wants to reunite the other Aspects to create a new, more powerful aspect. 

My question now is - if it came down to it, would a follower of a storm tribe cult (assuming no Uroxi) support the 'orderly chaos' of the unicorn-head aspect over the 'chaotic chaos' of the scorpion-arm aspect? Assuming they were forced to choose one or die, would the 'typical' storm tribe cultist prefer death or would they be open to adopting a 'lesser of two evils' rationale? What sorts of situations would force their hand when it comes to supporting something as evil as Ralzakark?

Clearly, no self-respecting Storm Bull would voluntarily join a chaotic cult. Having said that, there are ways around this. Illumination can change attitudes and warp how Storm Bullers think and behave. Bagog can convert a Storm Buller to Bagog, using the Ritual of Rebirth, but this is probably not an option.

I would concentrate on the Killing of Chaos. So, King Ralzakark could let the PCs know where various forces of Chaos are and they could happily destroy that Chaos, The fact that this helps King Ralzakark shouldn't really matter.

Eventually, the PCs can start manipulating the various factions and forces, perhaps making them fight each other, perhaps gaining information or even allies against the other forces.

 

 

 

 

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On 3/3/2017 at 10:45 AM, azrooh said:

My question now is - if it came down to it, would a follower of a storm tribe cult (assuming no Uroxi) support the 'orderly chaos' of the unicorn-head aspect over the 'chaotic chaos' of the scorpion-arm aspect? Assuming they were forced to choose one or die, would the 'typical' storm tribe cultist prefer death or would they be open to adopting a 'lesser of two evils' rationale? What sorts of situations would force their hand when it comes to supporting something as evil as Ralzakark?

Bolthor the Fat accepted the lesser of two evils argument, both with regards to Ralzakark and the Lunar Empire.  Hahlgrim didn't.  Both died.  Is peace with Ralzakark really peace?

The worst chaos is inevitably the chaos that tries to act nicely and make you believe that it is just like you, really, and that you can safely live and let live with your new chaotic neighbors.  Now there is a false sense of security, the effective sociopath knows that the next trick is to make the victim believe that when things first go wrong, that it is somehow all the victim's own fault.  This seed of doubt will set up a cycle of recrimination within the enemy community at a time when they most need to unite.  It also sets up the gullible "peace makers" to potentially seek a diplomatic solution that can be used to leverage the enemy community into exposing their collective neck.  After that it is either slave collars or decapitation, season to taste.

Hahlgrim was ultimately unequivocally correct.  To think there can be any meaningful peace with Chaos is the first step on the path to ruin.  Better to face the slings and arrows of outrageous broos and by opposing, end them.

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I appreciate the input, soltakss. Lots of great ideas there, and your website's a fantastic resource!

Darius, the sociopath angle is very interesting. Ralzakark should be a master at this sort of manipulation and I think I'll have a lot of fun integrating it into the campaign.

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