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wlewisiii

How to teach Glorantha?

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First post here, yada yada. I've been playing RuneQuest since a fellow GI pulled out a copy of RQ2 & Apple Lane in 1983. Been following it mostly since though I dropped away for various reasons that aren't really relevant during the HQ/HW era. 

Recently I found the new Classic Edition and the Quick Start for the new versions. So I dug out what had survived the decades on my bookshelves (still can't find my paperback of Moon Design's Pavis&Big Rubble. I must have sold it in a fit of idiocy. At least there are PDFs available) and am reading King Of Sartar. 

Ok, that's fine for me. I've been a philosophy student my whole life and have been known to pick up a volume of Ludwig Wittgenstein as light reading. 

OTOH, there is my 15 year old son who plays D&D5 and Mongoose Traveller and is now curious about RQ. 

It was really quite simple to get him into those games. The systems are not that difficult (accepting that the D&D abstractions are silly, they aren't hard to play) and even The Third Imperium setting of Traveller with 40 years of backstory isn't that hard to get into because in the end it's modern USA/Britain with noble titles and no FLT communications. 

But Glorantha! Do I do the old classic thing and dump him into Apple Lane or New Pavis and just expect him to absorb it on the fly? He'll learn fast enough that combat in RQ is more like Traveller (fast & deadly to everyone) than D&D (only deadly for mooks) but the basic cults and everything else just really is only hinted at in the RQ book. 

The biggest problem we have is that, at least at present, there is only the two of us. If I had a couple of more players, I'd be sore tempted to use Stephan Marsh's "Regular Folks" campaign that I've wanted to run since I printed it out years and years ago. 

I'm leaning towards running a couple of one shots with him - Balastor's Barracks & then, especially if we can find one or two others, The Broken Tower. After that, Pavis seems good for a solo adventurer (I could dig out my Orlanth/Eurmal worshiping thief who only screws with Lunars as a NPC/Ally I suppose)

In the end, is there anything I can hand him and say "Read This" and give him a better grounding than my old copy of RQ2 & a print out of the Quick Start? 

Thanks for any thoughts or ideas.

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While written for HQ, the Satar Player's Primer is a solid choice for "Read This." Only about a page-an-a-half of it are system-specific material. The rest is all pure setting introduction.

Edited by JonL
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In order to discover Glorantha on his own:

Get him King of Dragon Pass to get a feel for life in an Orlanthi clan. Point him to the Prince of Sartar webcomic for deeper Gloranthan immersion. Give him the Griselda stories for life as an adventurer in Pavis.

 Try to find a play by hangout or forum game, possibly with a different game system (HeroQuest, possibly 13th Age as soon as it gets published) to experience another mechanic for Glorantha.

Or have him bring in friends of his for a larger party.

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2 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

Play a game and then.....

let him read the cults of prax story .......

thats what worked for me.

Biturian Varosh's story is an excellent one; the accompanying rules in CoP include a mix of mechanical crunch and amusing facts...

But then again, Rurik's Saga is pretty damned good for what IT is, too...  :D

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47 minutes ago, g33k said:

Biturian Varosh's story is an excellent one; the accompanying rules in CoP include a mix of mechanical crunch and amusing facts...

But then again, Rurik's Saga is pretty damned good for what IT is, too...

I agree that these are two of the best sources to start and get a feel for Glorantha.  They will lean you towards Pavis and Prax rather than Sartar, but that's probably reasonable if it's just the two of you.

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Thanks everyone! I didn't see the Primer before - that's a great resource and I'll get him a copy of that for certain.

I had forgotten the goodies hiding in Cults of Prax. I got used to the later Gods of Glorantha which is pretty much just a listing of all of them and nowhere near the color text. It is also a good point about Rurik too - since posting this earlier I was looking for something in the CE book and came across The Battle at the Troll Bridge ending in his shouting out his (pretty high) ransom amount :lol: It does give a better understanding of things than I'd remembered doesn't it? 

Thanks again, it's good to be back into something a wee bit more than D&D again. 5th Edition really isn't bad for what it is, but it'll never match RQ for anything. 

 

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Rurik's walk-along -- from the very first stat-rolls on STR/DEX/CON/INT/POW/CHA/SIZ through the end of the book -- were pure gold, back in the day.  They defined "how to do the exemplar-PC right".  And they still work!

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For what wlewisiii wants to do, Biturian's story is probably the better example.  Rurik's Saga is far more about teaching mechanics than providing background, and a game-experienced GM can handle that him-/herself.

Given a RQ2 orientation (Prax or Sartar), the easiest and probably most common way to kick things off would be preparation of the PC's for and enactment of their tribal initiation ceremonies.  I wouldn't suggest Lunar characters until the players are relatively conversant with the game and background, except perhaps as a local agent in their pay where the Lunars are generally remote and have little day-to-day impact.

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hmmmmm also for solo play i think city based stuff around Pavis works much better than rubble runs, rubble adventures will thrash small parties of non rune level characters.

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I think it is the wrong approach to try to "teach" Glorantha to your players; no one participates in an RPG to learn -- many can't even be bothered to learn the rules. It is a lost cause to try to give them a lecture about the world, or to ask them to read preparatory material.

Let the adventures you run inform them of the world. If your game is about an Orlanthi clan, focus on behaviors that match the culture of your clan. Are they axe or sword Orlanthi? Restrict their weapon usage. Have adventures in the Spring about protecting cattle from young men of rival clans, or perhaps questing to fix a planting ritual gone wrong. Show xenophobia with some foreign adventurers passing through, and the Lunar occupation with a local official interfering in clan business. In summer have the clan go raiding, and maybe display the start of a bloody feud that spirals out of control. Have your NPCs push your players to act in accordance with the Orlanthi way of life; get your PCs involved in the world around them.

You can have your players read as much background material as you want, but it will never be real until you sit down and play with them.

Show, don't tell. 

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2 hours ago, kaydet said:

Show, don't tell. 

By and large, I agree with this sentiment.  Note that Rurik's Saga was just that -- "showing" how the "tell" of the rules worked.

But there's a certain amount of  a priori  "tell" -- reading, listening, whatever -- implicit in most RPGs; Rurik's Saga is also, after all, just another "tell" (in that it's merely more stuff-to-read).

There's game-mechanical material -- choosing spells from a spell-list, or skills from a skill-list (and in games like D&D, the basic questions of Race/Class (and it looks like RQG is gonna get "Race" as a notable choice in the core book, fwiw...)).  There's setting-stuff with mechanical import (do I want a Yelmic warrior -- i.e. fire/light powers? or an Orlanthi -- i.e. wind/storm?), or mostly-pure-fluff-and-setting (do I want a Rider from a Major Tribe, or a Minor Tribe... and in either case, which Tribe?).  Most players that I know want to know enough to make a PC that fits both their own concept and the setting.

The issue is, of course, that how much of it they want (or are willing) to learn -- mechanics and setting both -- is VERY dependent on the individuals.  As you note, some players won't even learn simplest bits of the mechanics, let alone be willing to read up on which-god-is-which on the LBQ, and why that matters in-game.  Others say "OMG Glorantha?! How did I not know about this??!?" and dive deep...

I think there's a middle ground that works for a vast majority of players, and it does -- of necessity -- have at least a bit of "tell."

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Discuss the player's character, and then work out their backstory. Exploring their family, who their friends are, whether they trained as an apprentice, drilled in the militia, gained any schooling, and where they live will lead to chatting about what they know. Leave most of the detail off stage for now - their character wouldn't know most of it, and info dumps are liable to swamp enthusiasm.

It's a bit like wondering how much a young Athenian or Spartan prior to the Persian Wars would know about their world: plenty about their home locale, the cults their family honours, but very little about, say, Carthage, Egypt or the Persian Empire.

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Just play the game and the rest will come.

The party meets a bunch of nutters who rave on about killing Chaos, they find out they worship Storm Bull, so the GM mentions that Storm Bull was Orlanth's brother and killed Wakboth, the Devil. When a PC joins Orlantgh, the GM tells them about Orlanth, very quickly, and mentions the major cults who Orlanth helps/opposes. If they want to know more, or want to know quicker, point them to sources on the Internet, or prepare some sketches yourself.

 

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@g33k You're introducing a whole different subject -- my points were aimed at the discussion concerning how to "teach" Glorantha as a world, not how to teach game mechanics.

Obviously the GM has to provide some up-front discussion about how to play the game, and I never said otherwise.

You may have better or more dedicated players than I have had, but I have never had anyone read "prep" material prior to a game. Perhaps that's just my bad fortune.

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In the case of my son, he's ended up running both Traveller & DND5 before too long. In his case, I'll get him up and running in Sartar with that Primer & I'll point him at that neat web comic Prince of Sartar - I read the whole thing last night and love the art style. 

Maybe before long he'll understand why dear old dad wants a Neil Burridge Ewart Park sword reproduction! 

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8 hours ago, kaydet said:

@g33k You're introducing a whole different subject -- my points were aimed at the discussion concerning how to "teach" Glorantha as a world, not how to teach game mechanics.

Obviously the GM has to provide some up-front discussion about how to play the game, and I never said otherwise.

You may have better or more dedicated players than I have had, but I have never had anyone read "prep" material prior to a game. Perhaps that's just my bad fortune.

@kaydet you yourself mentioned players who "can't even be bothered to learn the rules"; I was agreeing... but also pointing out that reading/learning rules (before playing the game) is another piece of the same(ish) pie...

Different players have different appetites / tolerances for mechanical and/or setting "prep."

For myself, when I GM -- if the amount of "prep" (either mechanical or setting) that I'd consider "ideal" is more than about 1/2 hour-ish (exclusive of character-building) then I usually allow one or more "re-build / adjust" occasions, after 1-3 game-sessions.  This lets players figure out the mechanics they MEANT to use, to create the character they MEANT to create; and similarly adjust the characters to better suit the setting... "Oh, this Orlanthi Sword-Thane actually ISN'T a Thor-worshiping Saxon with a Gloranthan reskin!"

 

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On 13/10/2017 at 4:06 PM, wlewisiii said:

I'm leaning towards running a couple of one shots with him - Balastor's Barracks & then, especially if we can find one or two others, The Broken Tower. After that, Pavis seems good for a solo adventurer (I could dig out my Orlanth/Eurmal worshiping thief who only screws with Lunars as a NPC/Ally I suppose)

In the end, is there anything I can hand him and say "Read This" and give him a better grounding than my old copy of RQ2 & a print out of the Quick Start? 

Thanks for any thoughts or ideas.

Personally I'd steer away from Balastors Baracks, it hasn't aged well. Pavis is a great starting place. Mike Cule's Rumble at Tin Inn moved to Gimpy's was always a good starter for me. Or any well planned (by the GM) bar brawl. The Rainbow Mounds is still a favourite of mine. I always got them to do it as payment for messing up Gringle's Pawnshop and RBM is a dungeon after all.

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Want to teach Glorantha?

Then start by NOT ramming it down the player's throats. Nobody cares about those awesome NPC's who did things you can't do over there. Nobody cares about the detailed cosmology. Nobody cares about giant volumes of mythology, history, and geography.

What they care about it having a good time; getting to roll dice, role-play their characters, and feel heroic.

This is what you need to say:

  1. This is Glorantha (show map from back of classic RQ book). It's a little different from D&D in a couple of ways. It's an ancient world, not medieval, so no knights in shining armor, and no kings in castles. The main metal is bronze, Iron is a semi-magical metal that does cool stuff, and you might be able to find some, someday.
  2. In Glorantha, everyone can learn magic. There's minor magic that everyone learns, and powerful magic that only some people learn. We don't have wizards here (that's another story) but your character can follow a god, and get magic from his god. Gods are active, and your profession and religion are pretty much the same thing - smiths follow a smith god, healers follow the healing goddess and so on. The default gods for my game are Pavis, god of the city you're in who's kind of neutral, Orlanth who is a storm and war god and is against the lunar empire. I've got a list of other gods, but mostly you'll learn about them as we play.
  3. The city of Pavis is a frontier city, in the wastelands. The old city of Pavis, now called the Big Rubble, is a massive ruin from era of the dragon empire. Adventurers plunder it for treasure. The Lunar Empire recently conquered this land. This made a lot of people very mad, as many of them were refugees from Sartar, which was conquered a few years ago and they came here for a fresh start and to get away from Lunar taxes. Lunars worship the moon goddess, Sartarites worship Orlanth. 
  4. Our adventure begins with (give them the basic introduction).

Stop there. 

Let them learn about Glorantha as they play. Introduce one unique or notable aspect of Glorantha every session. Try to hold it to one. Never lecture about Glorantha for more than 5 minutes at once, and not more than once or twice per game. Don't ask them to read anything unless they ask for details. If the players want more, they'll ask for it.

Obviously, this introduction is for a Pavis-based game. You can do something similar for any other place. 

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If you can get a copy River of Cradles makes for a great primer and with a little fudging would work well for a one on one campaign as it assumes that the PC's have little knowledge of the region.

btw 15 and running D&D and Traveller, sounds like a great kid.

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3 hours ago, David Scott said:

Personally I'd steer away from Balastors Baracks, it hasn't aged well. Pavis is a great starting place. Mike Cule's Rumble at Tin Inn moved to Gimpy's was always a good starter for me. Or any well planned (by the GM) bar brawl. The Rainbow Mounds is still a favourite of mine. I always got them to do it as payment for messing up Gringle's Pawnshop and RBM is a dungeon after all.

Yeah, I was rereading BB & wondering about that. I do have very fond memories of Pavis overall so I expect to run stuff there eventually. I'll look for that Rumble. 

Rainbow Mounds is a good thought. I always only think of Gringle's & the weird mess it is but the rest is pretty good. 

Thanks!

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39 minutes ago, Psullie said:

btw 15 and running D&D and Traveller, sounds like a great kid.

Yes, he is. Bright and a good sense of humor. He's good at gaming as a result. 

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