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Tigerwomble

Ducking the issue

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I have a friend who does not 'get' Gloranthan Ducks. He, quite rightly says that they have no heroic provenance (Howard the Duck notwithstanding).
It's a good point. They have never been part of the mythic landscape, unlike other birds such as Crow and Hawk. For me, Ducks represent
the kind of creative thinking that makes Glorantha special. But they can be quite a hurdle to overcome for some players new to the game
and difficult to avoid excluding so as to reassure those players.

How have others coped with this 'duck problem'?

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14 minutes ago, Tigerwomble said:

I have a friend who does not 'get' Gloranthan Ducks. He, quite rightly says that they have no heroic provenance (Howard the Duck notwithstanding).
It's a good point. They have never been part of the mythic landscape, unlike other birds such as Crow and Hawk. For me, Ducks represent
the kind of creative thinking that makes Glorantha special. But they can be quite a hurdle to overcome for some players new to the game
and difficult to avoid excluding so as to reassure those players.

How have others coped with this 'duck problem'?

I just play the ducks straight and unapologetically. Its a talking humanoid duck. There are winged, flying bulls and people riding giant llamas. 

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14 minutes ago, Tigerwomble said:

They have never been part of the mythic landscape, unlike other birds such as Crow and Hawk

Although not common in European mythology, they certainly exist. In the Greek myth's, when Penelope's father tried to drown her she was rescued by a family of ducks. Seeing this as an omen she named her Penelope - Greek for duck and raised her as his favourite child.

Many more Duck tales in North American mythology. Have a look at Pawik amongst the Hopi:

WS369246.jpg

 

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25 minutes ago, Jeff said:

I just play the ducks straight and unapologetically. Its a talking humanoid duck. There are winged, flying bulls and people riding giant llamas. 

I'm with you, Jeff. Just play them as if it's perfectly normal....which of course it is.
exciting to see the new Bestiary cover. Looks great.

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26 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Although not common in European mythology, they certainly exist. In the Greek myth's, when Penelope's father tried to drown her she was rescued by a family of ducks. Seeing this as an omen she named her Penelope - Greek for duck and raised her as his favourite child.

Many more Duck tales in North American mythology. Have a look at Pawik amongst the Hopi:

WS369246.jpg

 

They do seem to be an object of fun, being portrayed as foolish. Although there are a few used to highlight the foolishness of others
(you must be foolish if you can be fooled by a duck). Generally, I agree with Jeff. But for some players it is a suspension of disbelief too far
and i'm not unsympathetic to that. I have heard several people in the past say 'Glorantha? Isn't that the game with the Ducks?
None of this is a big deal. I just have some players I would like to introduce to Glorantha and ducks came up.

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16 minutes ago, Tigerwomble said:

They do seem to be an object of fun, being portrayed as foolish. Although there are a few used to highlight the foolishness of others
(you must be foolish if you can be fooled by a duck). Generally, I agree with Jeff. But for some players it is a suspension of disbelief too far
and i'm not unsympathetic to that. I have heard several people in the past say 'Glorantha? Isn't that the game with the Ducks?
None of this is a big deal. I just have some players I would like to introduce to Glorantha and ducks came up.

I just treat them as no big deal. If people ask about them, I just say yep there are ducks. And intelligent tapirs that herd humans, and tribes of nomads who ride antelope, bison, giant llamas, and even rhinos. There are immortal sorcery-using dwarves and elves that are plant spirits. They is even a species of immature dragons that reincarnate when killed as full-grown adults with all their memories intact. The world is flat, the sky is a dome, and you can sail down a giant whirlpool in the center of the ocean to get to the Underworld. Glorantha is a true fantasy setting.

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I view Ducks as being the Gloranthan response to Hobbits.  They're short, they live in isolation from the "big people", they have their own distinct part of the world, and they hunt screaming undead in the Upland Marsh.  Well, maybe not that last part, but otherwise, "Ducks = Hobbits" seems a good enough place to start.

Daffy was always the coolest anyway.

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41 minutes ago, Jeff said:

I just treat them as no big deal. If people ask about them, I just say yep there are ducks. And intelligent tapirs that herd humans, and tribes of nomads who ride antelope, bison, giant llamas, and even rhinos. There are immortal sorcery-using dwarves and elves that are plant spirits. They is even a species of immature dragons that reincarnate when killed as full-grown adults with all their memories intact. The world is flat, the sky is a dome, and you can sail down a giant whirlpool in the center of the ocean to get to the Underworld. Glorantha is a true fantasy setting.

Game, set and match, Jeff. I will just go with your approach. I'm clearly overthinking this.

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1 minute ago, Tigerwomble said:

Game, set and match, Jeff. I will just go with your approach. I'm clearly overthinking this.

There's also The Walking Fort, Tom, Dick & Harry (a giant head with three bodies), and an army of trolls chewing away a large chunk of glacier to block the giant whirlpool.

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18 minutes ago, Tigerwomble said:

Game, set and match, Jeff. I will just go with your approach. I'm clearly overthinking this.

It is easy to do! To be perfectly frank, there is a weird need by many in geekdom to identify something they think is "wrong" or "ridiculous" or "broken" about some genre they are not currently a fan of - and then try to relentless mock it with lame attempts at satire. I think this usually has way more to do with tribal markings or personal insecurity on the part of the critic than about the merits of the other genre. So for example, you can "prove" you are loyal to your D&D tribe by lamely mocking ducks (or prove you are loyal to your RuneQuest tribe by mocking D&D). 

To me the best approach is to just roll with it and let the genre be the genre. People will either enjoy it (or not).

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54 minutes ago, Jeff said:

It is easy to do! To be perfectly frank, there is a weird need by many in geekdom to identify something they think is "wrong" or "ridiculous" or "broken" about some genre they are not currently a fan of - and then try to relentless mock it with lame attempts at satire. I think this usually has way more to do with tribal markings or personal insecurity on the part of the critic than about the merits of the other genre. So for example, you can "prove" you are loyal to your D&D tribe by lamely mocking ducks (or prove you are loyal to your RuneQuest tribe by mocking D&D). 

To me the best approach is to just roll with it and let the genre be the genre. People will either enjoy it (or not).

Or...one could be a great deal less judgy and if your players really think Ducks are silly - simply omit them.

Truly, they're a trivial part of Glorantha and of no world-shattering consequence if they exist or not.

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2 hours ago, Tigerwomble said:

I have a friend who does not 'get' Gloranthan Ducks. He, quite rightly says that they have no heroic provenance (Howard the Duck notwithstanding).
It's a good point.

Not exactly a duck, but Zeus turned into a swan when he fathered Castor and Helena on Leda. The poor woman had to lay eggs to give birth to her twin sons and twin daughters (with Polydeikes and Klytaemnestra by her husband).

Kalevala has the creator goddess as a duck who rested on Väinämöinen's mother's knee, and from whose broken eggs the world was made.

2 hours ago, Tigerwomble said:

They have never been part of the mythic landscape, unlike other birds such as Crow and Hawk. For me, Ducks represent
the kind of creative thinking that makes Glorantha special. But they can be quite a hurdle to overcome for some players new to the game
and difficult to avoid excluding so as to reassure those players.

There was a period before humans became dominant when feathered sky folk ruled the surface world. There was a Heron Hegemony southwest of the Emperor's Palace, there was a Ratite Empire of bird and men in the northeast, and there was Keetela, also called Ganderland, where numerous humanoid bird folk lived next to yet other humans. Those Ganderland folk were the keets, and apart from the parrot keets of Forngg and the twice cursed but fllying Sorn they mostly resemble birds with webbed feet.

Keetela was drowned in the first invasion of the Seas onto the Dry Lands (about the time of the Birth of Umath), and the keets fled or were washed away into a diaspora, with the furthest surviving group who seem to have lost their ancestral connection suspected to be the ducks of Maniria.

2 hours ago, Tigerwomble said:

How have others coped with this 'duck problem'?

They are a bit the pariahs of the folk in Dragon Pass and Maniria. They (and newtlings) are the main boaters traveling the Creek-Stream River between the Upland Marsh and Nochet, and possibly also were the main boaters on the river prior to 1318, before the black serpent's remains blocked the River, then between Karse and the Upland Marsh.

When playing in Sartar, I usually ignored them - my Balmyr and Wilmskirk games were the closest I ever came to their lands, and both were post 1613, i.e. when they had gone into hiding to avoid the beak bounty that would excempt anyone who delivered a duck dead or alive to the Lunars.

On the other hand, when working on the details for Karse (based on the Chaosum published Midkemia Productions supplement Carse) for the pre-1619 description I had a duck shantytown on the opposite bank of the Marzeel River estuary (which had been the estuary of the Creek-Stream River, and still contains some of the flows of that river). I never produced much in the way of details, but I had that place inside twisting channels of reed marshland, on platforms, with circular huts reminiscent of the marsh arabs of the mesopotamian estuary. Given their location, they were involved in smuggling, and given their natural abilities for diving, they and the newtling bachelors cohabitating with them were partners of wreck-salvage crews who recovered lost ships in the region.

During the Lunar presence in Karse, the ducks retreated further into the Tangle, apparently leaving their settlement to newtlings and disreputable humans, although maintaining a presence through their underwater access to the semi-floating platforms.

Unlike their Dragon Pass kin, these ducks were less of a terror of undead,  but as vicious guerilla fighters who would ambush any troll hunters or Lunar patrols intruding into their territory, whether on foot or by boat. One gang more or less outlawed from the main settlement made a business of capturing and selling enlo slaves.

Apart from Pelaskos, these ducks shared many deities with the Pelaskites of Karse, traded and smuggled using the magics of Argan Argar, and accepted a significant number of refugees from Sartar who brought their normal cults with them.

In my games it was possible to hire their services through disreputable middlemen, or through the newtlings. It could take some time to discover that the shady deals with the smugglers were indeed fowl.

When encountered in such capacity, or intruding uninvited, I would portray them as ruthless and merciless, vengeful fighters, using the terrain to their frightening advantage without making them super-powerful combat monsters. Crossbows, harpoons, underwater traps that could be raised against intruding boats, skewering them by their own speed, and excellent underwater mobility would make even low- to middle range skills and attacks fearsome. The harpoons would have been attached to ropes that were threaded through anchored loops below the water, which meant that an impale would easily be followed by a fight against drowning as several ducks would pull the victim under.

On the whole, imagine being a Storm Trooper in the Battle of Endor if you fell afowl.

Portraying them as slightly ridiculous on the side would reinforce that sense of embarrassment. There is no heroism to be won in fighting these critters, but much self-esteem to be lost.

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My new players, all young, hip and never having encountered Glorantha before gladly lapped up Glorantha, Ducks and Baboons after playing one session of RuneQuest. They’re no different to my Gnome Arcane Trickster, our Tiefling Monster-Hunter, our Goliath Barbarian, Half-Orc Paladin or all matter of other gaming weirdness. Hell I once was involved  in a game where Dan Barker played Bruce Campbell’s Chin!

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28 minutes ago, styopa said:

Or...one could be a great deal less judgy and if your players really think Ducks are silly - simply omit them.

Truly, they're a trivial part of Glorantha and of no world-shattering consequence if they exist or not.

I'm loathe to omit them. I think they're a great addition and as I said, they represent, for me at least, that particular type creativity that Glorantha embodies.

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7 minutes ago, blackyinkin said:

My new players, all young, hip and never having encountered Glorantha before gladly lapped up Glorantha, Ducks and Baboons after playing one session of RuneQuest. They’re no different to my Gnome Arcane Trickster, our Tiefling Monster-Hunter, our Goliath Barbarian, Half-Orc Paladin or all matter of other gaming weirdness. Hell I once was involved  in a game where Dan Barker played Bruce Campbell’s Chin!

My players are old and cynical and as Jeff said, of the D&D tribe. Maybe being young they are more accepting. Great to hear anyway.

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1 hour ago, Tigerwomble said:

My players are old and cynical and as Jeff said, of the D&D tribe. Maybe being young they are more accepting. Great to hear anyway.

Have your players run onto a group (flock?) of veteran zombie hunters - if they don't respect them maybe they'll fear them...

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My advice on this is to just let your Gloranthan Freak Flag Fly. Don't omit ducks if you like them (but feel free to omit them if you don't).

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2 hours ago, Tigerwomble said:

I'm loathe to omit them. I think they're a great addition and as I said, they represent, for me at least, that particular type creativity that Glorantha embodies.

Then I'd personally play to your players' prejudices.  As Joerg laid out beautifully above, they're a marginal group, seen in many quarters as annoying, etc.  Let your players disregard flow through them and even encourage/enable it a little...TONS of scenario hooks there.  They can either treat ducks like trash and have ducks be just horrible horrible people who completely deserve their fate...Or, maybe let them push that a while and then throw a duck protagonist at them.   Show their side. 

Small, highly militarized demographic with a huge chip on their shoulder because basically on the defensive all the time, constantly on the verge of being overwhelmed by massive numbers of Delecti's undead.  Occasionally have to resort to rather despicable acts that they justify as "well this is necessary for us to survive"...and some using that excuse a little too often.

Nobody takes them seriously, their own attitude makes it hard for them to find allies.  

Yeah, no adventure material there at all. :) 

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For me ducks have always been around. Every now and then a duck character pops up in a scenario, like Quackjohn in Apple Lane. From time to time a PC has generated a duck character. I've never gone out of my way to represent them though, or address any 'duck issues', they're just there like Baboons, Morokanth and Dragonewts. It's not a big deal and I don't really see what there is to 'get'.

What's really annoying is every now and then someone grandstanding with some big chip on their shoulder about ducks and how ducks being there ruins all their fun. Somehow.

eh

Edited by simonh
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3 hours ago, Tigerwomble said:

My players are old and cynical and as Jeff said, of the D&D tribe. Maybe being young they are more accepting. Great to hear anyway.

I find that, ultimately, take your lead.  If you refer to them in joke-y ways and have funny names for them, then they will have no respect.  if you do it seriously and have serious stories with ducks then they will become part of the tapestry.

We have a middle path where there are joke-y names but the ducks have different ones for themselves and the players are understanding that there is a steely interior to the feathered jokes that they see wandering round.  At some point they will come to the tragedy of the curse and have to think about what happens (they are adventuring round Pavis, are River Voices and the Agimori became a Zola Fel priest due to geas placed on them after a dodgy DI).  There is a duck character who is about to become the first Champion of Pavis and I think that ducks are going to be core to the thwarting of the Lunars in the cradle scenario, led by the new Champion of Pavis....which will lead to a Lunar pogrom of ducks and hopefully a redemption when the Priest of Zola Fel and the Champion of Pavis heroquest to save the ducks and their reputation...

Might be two years hence when I get there....

🙂

Stephen

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I confess, I enjoy both the ridiculous ("white"?) and more serious ("green") aspect of ducks. As for the game, you can always tell your duck-resistant players to lighten up a bit, because RQ isn't always grimly serious, or perhaps gift their PCs with a passion like Hate(Ducks). The game then starts in either Notchet or Corflu, with one of them picking up Jar-Eel in a bar. Good luck!

 

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As a part of trying to sell my board game group on RuneQuest I managed to easily convert the most sceptical guy by saying that everyone is sort of barbarian (he really wants to play one) and that he could play a barbarian duck person. 

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One of the best intros to ducks is in the colymar campaign in  Sartar:KoH. After playing that, my players not only had a healthy respect for them, they also hated them with a vengeance. When they later came  across gonn orta the giant, who was looking for a particular duck, they could reallly empathise and offered to help kill him... @Quackatoa‘s excellent art really added to this.

8E03F1B2-1E60-4BAB-8CD3-12BE5643C8CF.thumb.jpeg.026a315f580ac3e52da69fcb57344579.jpeg

 

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