Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
TK Nyarlathotep

New Glorantha Fan - Where to start?

Recommended Posts

Hey all.

I'm a long-time Call of Cthulhu fan, a slightly shorter-time BASIC fan, and a brand new Glorantha/RQ fan! I am like a little baby to you, and I defer to your wisdom.

Where should I start to really grok Glorantha, as a setting, a franchise, and more? Where should I begin in my quest to grasp the intricacies and history of the world? Obviously the Glorantha corebook coming later this year will be a great starting point, but that's not out yet! So what should I read in the meanwhile?

 

Thanks,
TK Nyarlathotep

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joerg wrote a great post on this that he graciously agreed to have as a guest post on notes from pavis blog.

 

https://notesfrompavis.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/guest-post-how-to-start-playing-in-glorantha/

 

this might also give some view https://notesfrompavis.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/gloranthan-timelines-generational-perspective/

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Best two single entry sources for Glorantha/RQ while you wait:
1. David Dunham's King of Dragon Pass. That will definitely get you in the mood for the new RQ.

2. The short book "King of Sartar" available here http://www.chaosium.com/king-of-sartar-ebook/. This is a collection of myths, histories, and snippets of stories. It is written "in-world" from the perspective of an outsider trying to understand what happened to Glorantha.

There will be more soon. I'd recommend HeroQuest Glorantha, but that is for the HQ rules and not RQ. Although still very worth getting. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TK_Nyarlathotep said:

Hey all.

I'm a long-time Call of Cthulhu fan, a slightly shorter-time BASIC fan, and a brand new Glorantha/RQ fan! I am like a little baby to you, and I defer to your wisdom.

Where should I start to really grok Glorantha, as a setting, a franchise, and more? Where should I begin in my quest to grasp the intricacies and history of the world? Obviously the Glorantha corebook coming later this year will be a great starting point, but that's not out yet! So what should I read in the meanwhile?

 

Thanks,
TK Nyarlathotep

Rather than jump into Glorantha as a whole i would jump into one gloranthan setting in depth and buikld you knoweldge out

So for rune quest get Pavis and the big rubble, or borderlands or griffin mountain.

It may sound strange to some but it was actually cults of prax that convinced me runequest was different as game and setting.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TK_Nyarlathotep said:

Hey all.

I'm a long-time Call of Cthulhu fan, a slightly shorter-time BASIC fan, and a brand new Glorantha/RQ fan! I am like a little baby to you, and I defer to your wisdom.

Where should I start to really grok Glorantha, as a setting, a franchise, and more? Where should I begin in my quest to grasp the intricacies and history of the world? Obviously the Glorantha corebook coming later this year will be a great starting point, but that's not out yet! So what should I read in the meanwhile?

Thanks,
TK Nyarlathotep

For play, one of the most-common suggestions is to start small (one village, or one clan; etc) and grow organically as the campaign & player-interests do; it's good advice, and more on that below...  But now, I'm going to the opposite extreme...

One of the things to help grasp Glorantha is to look to its genesis.

Tolkien, for example, created Middle Earth in large part as a thought-experiment in linguistic evolution:  he wanted a mythically-rooted world (inspired by the nordic/teutonic/celtic tradition for which he had an instictive feel, but a "clean slate" to work from) in which to set his language-groups to evolving, interacting, isolating, etc.

Ed Greenwood created Faerun / Forgotten Realms as a setting for the short-stories and novels he was working upon (the gaming came later), and so it's rife with innumerable tropes of fiction.

Greg Stafford's Glorantha came from a fundamentally anthropological/mythological root -- he was fascinated by myths and the cultures that support them.

Of all the "great worlds" of gaming, Glorantha is most-rooted in that deeply mythically-driven and culturally-driven world-building.  Oh, there are snippets of interesting language stuff, but it can't touch Tolkien's work in that regard.  There's plenty of fictive & story-driven stuff, but you'll largely find that (much as many of our oldest stories) the origins are more mythological than novelistic.  There's very much a chicken-and-egg paradox as to whether the Gods have founded the cultures more, or if the cultures' wars and worship and heroquests & such have evolved and informed their Gods...

Adjacent cultures will often have similar pantheons, or overlapping ones (where each has their own as primary, and casts the other as "side-kick" ancillary deities).  Orlanth is more-powerful in Sartar, Storm Bull in Prax; but each culture acknowledges the chief storm-deity of the other.  Different cultures will often express or explain the same "truths" in very-different ways, and these are all, somehow, "equally" true.  But in virtually all cases, what is "true" is driven by the myth and the magic.  However much it "looks like" our own world, it VERY much is not:  the root causes and fundamental realities are wholly-different.  For example, "Zola Fel" is both a river AND the river-god, and the "deity" aspect is equally as important as (and far more directed & intentional than) any hydrological or fluid-dynamic aspect.  Similarly for the weather, driven by deities and spirits rather than meteorology & climatolgy; etc.

As to "starting small..."  the most-developed parts of Glorantha are the Sartar / DragonPass / Prax regions.  The "King of Dragon Pass" game (Android, iOS, Steam) is (as noted by @Jeff) often cited as one of the best ways to get started, and "King of Sartar" is used by fans & writers alike as a foundational "research document" to understand things (as are several other "Stafford Library" titles).  Like @Jon Hunter, I found "Cults of Prax" (just re-released via the RQClassic kickstarter, or get the "Cult Compendium") to be invaluable in grasping the setting.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, hkokko said:

Joerg wrote a great post on this that he graciously agreed to have as a guest post on notes from pavis blog.

 

https://notesfrompavis.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/guest-post-how-to-start-playing-in-glorantha/

 

this might also give some view https://notesfrompavis.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/gloranthan-timelines-generational-perspective/

 

 

More than a year later, I'd add the Gods War print and play version for another boardgame entry to Glorantha, along with that of Khan of Khans. This year's special conventions seem to take place in Germany only - Eternal Con at whitsun and Kraken in October.

For people in Finland and Germany, there are also associations devoted to furthering Gloranthan gaming, Kalikos society apparently being quite active, the German RuneQuest-Gesellschaft (aka Chaos society) mainly showing up with Kraken and the Essen game fair presence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even though HeroQuest: Glorantha is a rulebook for said game, because it's a narrative ruleset rather than crunchy, it makes a superb intro to Glorantha and is chock-full of background.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cults of Prax and Griselda were all we had back in the day... and Pavis, and a column in a monthly magazine, and Trollpack, and... well alright there were quite a bit o' it but Cults of Prax and Griselda is all tha needst... Biturian Varosh? now he were a tight b@$£@þð - a dragonsnail's eyeball were all I got from 'im...

<noises off>

A DRAGONSNAIL'S EYEBALL!

<More noises>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Start with Borderlands or the River of Cradles.  Both very excellent introductions to Glorantha and for beginning players.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

It may sound strange to some but it was actually cults of prax that convinced me runequest was different as game and setting.

Not at all!  While I had RQ2 first, Cults of Prax was the real original intro to Glorantha.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/9/2017 at 10:06 PM, TK_Nyarlathotep said:

Woo, okay, now I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, heh. Thanks, all! I'll compile a shopping list and get a move on.

Glorantha is huge, and can be overwhelming ... if you try to take it all at once.   So don't!  Problem solved!  :D   I reiterate the most-commonly-seen advice:  start small, don't try to take it all in at once.  Pick an area, start the PC's there, and grow your Glorantha as the campaign grows.  The "classic" starting points:

Sartar - Vaguely Scythian/AncientCelt/Nordic/ tribes, this is often a "Rebels vs the Lunar Empire" campaign (the Lunars being a matriarchal theocratic melange of several Akkadian/Sumerian/etc empires with added Greco-Roman layers); HeroQuest has, I think, more material than RQ, but much of it is heavy to fluff so you can use it as pure sourcebook.

Prax - Vaguely Bedouin/NativeAmerican/Mongol tribes of beast-riding nomads in hostile wastelands, with the Zola Fel river and the surprisingly-cosmopolitan city of New Pavis (aka "Pavis") abutting Old Pavis (aka the Big Rubble). The "Gloranthan Classics" series includes 3 key titles -- "Cult Compendium" (with "Cults of Prax" and much more), Borderlands & Beyond (a Zola-Fel/Prax campaign), "Pavis & Big Rubble" (two campaign sandboxes), collectively offering probably several realtime years of twice-a-month gaming sessions; the 4th "Classics" title (Griffin Mountain) details the primitive WIlds of Balazar (and does tie in neatly to Borderlands, if desired).  There is a Lunar Empire presence here, too, but it's less the Obvious Big Scary...

Dragon Pass - a melting-pot region reached by passes from several important areas, including Sartar, Prax, the Lunar Empire, and other substantive regions; home to the Dragonewts' city, it was a refuge for non-humans for centuries, and so has a remarkably-high concentration of many other species.  This is the area of the core RQ2/RQClassic rulebook.  Here too the Lunars are present; but NOBODY tries to assert too much dominance in the vicinity of the Dragonewts' city... the last time anyone tried, an "invincible" army caused the Dragonkill (hint:  no Dragons were killed).

Pick one.  Start with a single tribe/town/region/etc for all the PC's unless they insist on an outsider from elsewhere (and then, make THEM do any heavy-lifting research) ....  Go!

If you'd rather, it's easy enough to interpolate the "reverse" campaign of the Lunar Empire bringing civilization and enlightenment to the warring savages...

I also reiterate my prior point: frame your understanding of things as driven by a mythological world; don't try to explain most of it via any sort of "science" or science-like fantasy-cognate thereof. The "God-Learners" did that, making great strides at first... but in the end it saw them destroyed...

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the advice in the post, although I tend to interpret the more recent portrayals of Theylans in The Guide To Glorantha and HeroQuest (HQG and HQ Red Cow) as an analogy for Mycenean Age people.

Esrolians would have a heavy Minoan flavour, whilst Sartarites have a more Myceanaen Achaean & Thracian flavour especially in urban centres. The rural villagers may be more rudimentary, possibly less Achaean and more a mix of Thracian and Ancient Celt (La Tene Period has been previously suggested).

Perhaps you could add a touch of Scythian elements to Thracian if you want the Tarshites to feel different to Sartarites, but I feel that a solid Myceanaen foundation  seems to be the core analogy for how most Theylan populations are now portrayed. Of course, they are not Mycenaean clones, but the core influences are certainly there.

So putting those references into a search engine should throw up a range of images to be influenced by.

I tend to think of the Theylan pantheon as a cross between the ancient Aegean deities and early dark age Nordic mythology, it definately has elements of both.

Pavis and Prax is a great place to set adventures in. I envision New Pavis looking like a small version of biblical-era Jerusalem, with Pavisites being Thracian-style citizens (Theylan origin) , and Lunar garrisons having a  Sumerian-Assyrian-Roman flavour (Pelorian origin).

The wild frontier tropes can really play out here in Pavis and in Prax, you could easily convert any dungeon delve sceanrio from D&D and retrap it for the ruins of the old Pavis city-state (The Big Rubble). As well as this you can also retrap any old raw Wild West film as a scenario plot, moving the action to Pavis or the wilds of Prax.

Such a rich setting to start playing in. Small enough not to be part of the meta-setting, yet full of opportunities to adventure in for several years!

Edited by Mankcam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Mankcam said:

I tend to think of the Theylan pantheon as a cross between the ancient Aegean deities and early dark age Nordic mythology, it definately has elements of both.

I've been working on Gloranthan mythology pretty intensely since I finished writing the Guide. I don't consider Viking mythology anywhere near as useful a RW source as Aegean, Vedic, and various Near Eastern sources (the story of Marduk and Tiamat corresponds to Tarhunt and Illuyanka corresponds to Indra and Vritra which corresponds to Orlantha and Aroka, etc.). Of course all mythology is useful to understanding mythology, but Viking-Age stuff carries a lot of heavy baggage that is hard to let go of. So I wouldn't even suggest bringing it along.

But in truth, Gloranthan mythology is best understood as its own thing. If I was going to suggest any one RW source to get a grip on Gloranthan mythology and gods, I'd suggest Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Masks."

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an aside, remember that the Sartarites are an urban people - city builders who have a level of urbanization far higher than people seem to assume. Boldhome is a large city - it would be a substantial polis in the Roman Empire.

Here's a little essay I wrote for Ken, Chris, Simon, and the gang as background as they work on various RuneQuest projects:

Vingkotling Walls and Citadels. Many of the cities in Dragon Pass are built atop the remnants of God Time settlements of the Vingkotlings. Now most of these ruins are some 5,000 years old, making them the equivalent of Neolithic ruins as seen by Alexander's Greeks. BTW, that's how I tend to try to understand Glorantha's history - I position myself at the time of Alexander the Greek and look backwards.

Present year 1627
10 years ago - Lunar Empire invades Hendrikiland
25 years ago - Boldhome falls to the Lunar Empire
50 years ago - Battle of Grizzly Peak
100 years ago - Apotheosis of Sartar
300 years ago - Belintar unites Holy Country
500 years ago - the Dragonkill War (1120)
1000 years ago- the Kingdom of Dragon Pass. After this came the EWF.
1500 years ago - the Second Council. The Theyalans dominate Genertela and war with the Pelorian horse people.
2000 years ago - I Fought, We Won, and the Unity Battle. After this, came the Heortling kingdom, which lasted about 800 years (until Gbaji destroyed it).
2500 years ago - The Chaos Age, which lasted until the Unity Battle.
3000 years ago - the Ice Age
5000 years ago - the Vingkotlings
10,000 years ago - Orlanth kills Yelm

Compare this to a Greek at the time of Alexander (330 BC)
10 years ago - Philip founds Philippopolis
25 years ago - the Sacred War
50 years ago - Battle of Leuctra (371 BC)
100 years ago - start of the Peloponnesian War
300 years ago - fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
500 years ago - the neo-Assyrian Empire
1000 years ago - the Trojan War
1500 years ago - height of Babylon
2000 years ago - Sargon and the Akkadian Empire
2500 years ago - Gilgamesh is king of Uruk
3000 years ago - Menes unites Egypt (first dynasty)
5000 years ago - Neolithic cities like Catal Huyuk and Jericho
10,000 years ago - beginning of Neolithic age

The Vingkotling settlements had great walls of stone or earth and the more important were built with something of a spiral shape. The Vingkotlings enslaved dwarfs or used great magics to build these settlements. They ranged in size from 2 or 3 hectares to nearly 500 hectares (Nochet was the capital of the Vingkotlings). Most were between 2 and 40 hectares. As the God Time became more and more destructive, these settlements tended to be rebuild as smaller and more fortified. Many of these Vingkotling citadels survived the Great Darkness.

During the Great Darkness, the surviving peoples of Dragon Pass eked out an existence in a few of these citadels, and after I Fought We Won they became the centers of the new Theyalan civilization (also called Heortlings). Old ruins were the first to be resettled. Broken walls were cannibalized to build new walls.In the early First Age, the Theyalans were allied with the dwarfs of Greatway (in the Rockwood Mountains), and some later settlements (such as the City of Wonders in Dorastor) were architectural wonders. This civilization was destroyed in the Gbaji Wars that ended the age.

In the later Second Age, Dragon Pass was again the center of an urbane empire, best known as the EWF. The EWF ruled much of the continent and could command masons and builders from far and wide. Population levels recovered and many of the old cities were rebuilt, sometimes to realign with mystic experiments of the ruling EWF.

The EWF collapsed in the 12th century and then all human life in Dragon Pass was exterminated overnight in 1120 with the Dragonkill War. For two centuries Dragon Pass was largely abandoned by humans. Some of the ruins were occupied by the dominant trolls as strongholds and bases, but most were just left empty.

Dragon Pass was resettled by humans after 1300 or so.The old ruins were often the first to be resettled. So places like Clearwine, Bagnot, Dunstop, Jonstown, Two Ridge, and so on, all incorporate citadel walls built by older, richer civilizations.

So in lots of these cities, there is going to be a "citadel" (or "acropolis") that is maybe 2 to 10 hectares in size built within the old Vingkotling citadel. Then a later city that incorporates earlier and later defensive walls, and then later rebuilds them. The previous names and history are generally lost (the settlers weren't scholars!), although places of obvious power became cult centers. What might have been a Second Age temple to the Diamond Storm Dragon gets rebuilt as a temple to Orlanth Adventurous. The tombs of Theyalan kings became shrines of Orlanth Thunderous or Ernalda. And so on.

The city of Furthest is something of an exception. The Lunars laid out a planned city, built along the lines they developed in the Fifth Wane to resettle their own Heartlands, which had been destroyed by the nomadic hordes of Sheng Seleris. Furthest is built on a grid, and was built largely by and for foreigners.

Edited by Jeff
  • Like 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I feel that some Nordic references appear to be mixed in the descriptions and tales of the Theylan deities, but it may be just how I interpreted it, given that I also have some texts on Nordic mythology. Another example of art being in the eye of the beholder I guess.

I do see the Aegean references as being much more prominent however. The Vedic stuff not so much with the Theylans, but possibly more with the Malkioni.

I based much of my views primarily from what I have read in The Cult Compedium (Cults of Prax & Cults of Terror), and also from a mix of things from the G2G, RQ3 Gods of Glorantha, as well as HeroWars & HeroQuest Sartar books.

I do see what Jeff means regarding the Nordic references possibly 'bringing baggage'- it could easily evoke too much of a Celtic/Saxon/Viking flavour that used to influence many portrayals of Orlanthi prior to the release of the G2G.

The more recent depictions of Theylans do fit much better with the hints that were originally gleaned way back during the RQ2 era supplements, so I'm glad it has all gone back down this path.

I will be very interested in seeing some new literature on Gloranthan mythology, it may alter some of my earlier views.

Edited by Mankcam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jeff said:

As an aside, ...etc ...etc

Great material in this post Jeff, it showed up just as I was referencing the previous one.

I like the idea of the Vingoktling culture as an ancient forerunner to the current Theylans culture. Gives a lot of weight to the setting, reminds me a bit of what Tolkien did with Middle Earth, describing scenery occasionally littered with ancient ruins of forgotten  earlier empires and such; it really evoked a sense of time having passed and things not being static. Really made the world seem real, which is what you have done here.

I need to read much more about the Vingotlings; I find the cyclopean walls and ancient spiral towers to be pretty intriguing.

These 'info dumps' that occasionally turn up here in these forums are really great, thanks for posting :)

Edited by Mankcam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks! Glorantha is littered with the ruins of lost civilizations. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the average Sartarite knows as much about the builders of the "Vingkotling ruins" as the average Syrian Greek did of the builders of Catal Huyek. "It was built in the Gods Age by race of demigods, who conquered the world as they warred with each other."

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jeff said:

 

But in truth, Gloranthan mythology is best understood as its own thing. If I was going to suggest any one RW source to get a grip on Gloranthan mythology and gods, I'd suggest Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Masks."

That is of course: Joseph Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Faces" :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jeff said:

"It was built in the Gods Age by race of demigods, who conquered the world as they warred with each other."

and that's pretty much as a GM how I'ld describe it to the PCs as well, unless they have obscure Grey Sage scrolls or rare God Learner texts to help them learn lost lore. Gotta keep that sense of mystery alive!

Edited by Mankcam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/03/2017 at 7:06 AM, TK_Nyarlathotep said:

Woo, okay, now I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, heh. Thanks, all! I'll compile a shopping list and get a move on.

In my opinion, you should start with Borderlands & Beyond and the Cult Compendium, and nothing else until the need arises or you want to know more. Pavis & Big Rubble or the new books will then be fine. In Borderlands & Beyond, the action takes place in a limited area of the Zola Fel valley and is a perfect introduction to the setting and the inhabitants of the River of Cradles.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by such a deep and old setting, you should keep it simple... and relax.   ;)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Corvantir said:

In my opinion, you should start with Borderlands & Beyond and the Cult Compendium, and nothing else until the need arises or you want to know more. Pavis & Big Rubble or the new books will then be fine. In Borderlands & Beyond, the action takes place in a limited area of the Zola Fel valley and is a perfect introduction to the setting and the inhabitants of the River of Cradles.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by such a deep and old setting, you should keep it simple... and relax.   ;)

B&B is excellent, IMHO; but it's a pretty-specific sort of campaign that might not suit the tastes of the group.  P&BR is also good, if that "city & ruins" vibe sells better.  Alongside either one, Cults of Prax (the RQ:Classic Kickstarter recently got it PDF'ed, and it'll be in-print "soon") -- or the broader Cult Compendium -- is indeed an invaluable resource.

Either pairing works very well indeed (as does the trio of all 3).

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

whoa!  All that new-to-thread content!  Theylan?  RedCow?  Esrolian?  Tarsh?  Hendrikiland?  Holy Country?  ... And all the PEOPLE, too!

OP already sez he's overwhelmed !   :o  

 

@TK_Nyarlathotep:  Prax, Sartar, Dragon Pass:  pick one... and...      GO!  :D

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...