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"[Glorantha] Good setting. How the @#%! do you play it?"

The longer version, from the thread:


I've dug into multiple versions of Glorantha, and it really is very good, just a very excellent world. 13G finally convinced me to start exploring it, and RQG is pretty much on my instant pull list if we get it this Gen Con. I just wanna know:

How the fuck do you play a game in Glorantha?

By and large, Glorantha is -in no way- connected to modern day morality, or even culture. It's not a case of "everyone is horrible" like, say, 40k, but the cultures are so bizarre and alien and /insistent/ that you follow according to their laws, that without having a literal encyclopedic knowledge of the culture that would be gained from actually living in it (or reading about it since it came out), portraying an accurate version of the setting would be impossible, and playing it at all would be an exercise in madness. Unless you really dumb it down, this would be such a hard world to portray that you'd be better served just...playing something else, I guess? I don't know.




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Though I've been gaming in Glorantha a long time, if I think back to when I started running an RQ campaign (back in RQ3 days), there was a definite reason I chose Imther to campaign in - I could largely create what I wanted and figure out the game world as I went. 

The main thing to introduce players to were: 

1) character creation and the RQ3 rules - all fairly straightforward.

2) a set of cults to choose from - primarily drawn from Cults of Prax.  Since Imther was on the edge of the Lunar Empire, I think they largely had options of:  Yelmalio (who eventually became Khelmal), Chalana Arroy, Humakt (in his Yanafal Tarnils guise), Lhankor Mhy (in his Irripi Ontor guise), the Seven Mothers, and the Conquering Daughter (which I created based on what was in the Redline History).  The Etyries cult was usually the villain (greedy merchants).  

3) some starting locations.  I mapped out the Southlands of Imther, added a Sun Dome and the city of Hortugarth, and added the city of Greenbrass (from the initial RQ3 scenarios).

4) someone to provide some foundational information - a character named Appchus who belonged to the Conquering Daughter temple and was ostensibly a merchant (really a spy), but always a friend to the PC's.  I had a handout of the Known World and Appchus' descriptions about various places and people.

And we started playing.  

Over time, we learned more about the city, and conflicts between factions in the city, acquired patrons and foes, and eventually stumbled into a larger epic where one of the PC's was to become the legendary Earthwielder (or had an opportunity to do so).  There were journeys to Jillaro down the Singing Trail, rescue missions to the Central Mines, ventures into the haunted Plain of Stones, and a great trek to find the giant Gonn Orta.  Having the Griffin Mountain supplement was useful for that.

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There's some sort of implicit pressure, I think, to jump in and immediately have your brand new characters standing on the world stage influencing the outcome of the Hero Wars.  Which is fine if everybody (including and especially the GM) is up to it.  For everyone else, that's really daunting.

There needs to be an emphasis on an introductory adventure.  I really liked Apple Lane for that.  You just feed in new bits of information as you go along.  Entice your characters into wanting to know more about the bigger picture, rather than just dumping it on them (or expecting them to research it for themselves).  The new GM doesn't need to know it all, either.  Learn and grow.

"Introductory" does not necessarily mean "beginner characters".  If you want your characters to start off experienced, that's fine too -- but in that case you need to know enough to give them a useful backstory.  It's all very well to start a new game as a Rune Lord (or equivalent) but if the player knows nothing about his cult and how it fits into the surrounding world I'm not sure how satisfactory it will be.  Regardless, though, neither players nor GM need to know everything ... just enough to get by where they currently are, knowing that they'll find out more as they go along.  A group of Sartar Orlanthi tribesmen don't need to know the history of Prax, for instance, nor do they even need to know the history of the Lunar Empire ... other than how it's affecting them, right now.

I don't think Glorantha is really any more difficult than any other detailed fantasy world with a complex history.  I think maybe though some people find it a bit scary because it's not traditional (by which I mean, D&D-ish).  However, just because it's a really weird looking elephant doesn't mean that you don't eat it the same way as any other ... one bite at a time.

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"I want to decide who lives and who dies."

Bruce Probst

Melbourne, Australia

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Yes start small and work out.

Any small settlement works for this. Add in a few prominent NPCs to display the canon bit by bit eg: "This guy is a local keeper of lore, he gives prayers to Lhankor Mhy. This fellow is the Town Captain, so he gets blessings from Orlanth Adventurous. That scary looking guy is the local champion, he worships The Sword and gets Death Rune Magic. That local lass worships Uleria and ... etc etc (heh heh)"

So portray things bit by bit, very much at a small level.

Then widen your scope as the PCs explore the setting.

In RQ it was traditional to do this by starting PCs in the Apple Lane scenarios, then move to Pavis, The Big Rubble, & Borderlands. 

I keep things localised and street level, so I dont heap meta-story on my PCs too early on.

Edited by Mankcam
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" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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