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PhilB

White Bear and Red Moon

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This seemed like a good place to post about my recent games of White Bear and Red Moon, the 1975 classic that started it all. A friend from Iowa City dropped by my house here in France, and we pulled out WBRM, dusted off the counters and played two rousing games. Since then, I have been trolling the web, in vain, for pdfs of the old Wyrm's Footnotes (especially #1 through 4) in an effort to find the articles, rules and counters supplied in them. Best bet seems to be in finding a used copy of Dragon Pass, which seems to take over the counters from WBRM with a few added details like Hydra, the ducks, Sun Dome templars and so on.

I did manage to find a Vassal recreation of the Dragon Pass game, with the map and all the counters in electronic format. Looks intriguing.

Has anyone been playing this old classic? Any clues or hints to obtaining the long out-of-print supplemental material from Wyrm's Footnotes?

 

Cheers,    --- PhilB

 

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There shouldn't be any pdfs of those early issues. A couple of those units were included in the Dragon Pass boardgame using the combat resolution rules of Robert Corbett, which look a lot easier than the original combat resolution tables. I'll have to dig through my DP research notes (on paper) to give you an overview over the units covered.

What combat resolution rules did you use? 

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I've been roundly thrashed playing Dragon Pass at EternalCon for the last couple of years. However, that's the only place I get to play this glorious game.

Personally, I prefer Dragon Pass to White Bear & Red Moon. The map is far better, the rules are tighter and more compatible with Nomad Gods.

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Good to see some interest in the topic.

I do not (yet) have a copy of Dragon Pass, or of the French edition by Oriflam, La Guerre des Héros. What I do have is the 1976 edition of White Bear and Red Moon and the 1977 edition of Nomad Gods (which we never liked as much, since it's designed as a five-player game).

So last week an old friend from Iowa City, with whom I had played many games of WBRM back in the day, stopped in and we played two rounds of the complete game. Of course we used the original combat resolution rules which are very "swingy". You have an AE (attacker eliminated) result on a one until you reach 4-to-1 odds, so combat is really hit or miss. and with all of the... well, we call them "nuke" attacks, from Cragspider, the Earth Shakers, the Stormwalkers, the Dragons, the Hound and the Sylphs, it doesn't really feel much like a tactical combat game.

Back in the day, we cobbled together two triangular map pieces so we could link the Nomad Gods map and the WBRM map over a wider front (IIRC they overlap some 10-12 hexes in one corner) but the games never felt like they really went together. Prax was about survival on the unforgiving wastelands, while WBRM was a vengeance-driven rivalry between two bitter enemies that was usually decided by who got lucky on key diplomacy rolls.

Joerg, you say that there "shouldn't" be pdfs of any of the early Wyrm's Footnotes. Does that mean Greg has aggressively searched out and eliminated any such files long ago? Or something else that I'm not catching on to? I'm not a hard-core collector myself, but it does seem a shame not to be able to dig up some of those early gems and put them to good use in actual games. Back in the day, not all of us were completely obsessed with the euro-centric tolkienesque worlds that seemed to be projected by early D&D, Judges Guild and other spinoff editors, and we found fascinating the wierd and original worlds like MAR Barker's Petal Throne and Greg's Glorantha. Those worlds, as much as Greyhawk and Blackmoor, were at the heart of the earliest stages of our hobby, and White Bear and Red Moon was at the heart of Runequest and Glorantha.

I'll try to take some pics a little later. Sadly, when we were playing, we didn't think about documenting our game, so I'll have to re-create a bit of it.

Cheers,    --- Phil (formerly of the Iowa City Wargaming Confederation).

 

 

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"Shouldn't" doesn't indicate an active hunt against such documents, but these old WF issues were really low in distribution, have articles (reviews) on games nobody has seen in the wild for decades, and very little non WBRM Gloranthan material that hasn't been republished in either Chaosium's RQ Companion or Wyrm's Footprints. The originals are probably collectors' items beyond the means of ordinary gameers.

I think there were about 12 pages or so of relevant WBRM counters and a few alternate combat resolution tables for the original game (which I studied only fleetingly, being quite content with the Corbett rules). I seem to recall that Keener Than was introduced in one of these issues, probably the one also featuring the first printing of "My History of the Black Horse Company" which mentions the character. Keener Than is part of the DP boardgame.

I don't think that the Corbett rules were published anywhere prior to the re-release of WBRM as Dragon Pass by Chaosium. Those rules, and the gorgeous map with its William Church-style hex terrain inks on top of faction colors, are far more attractive than the old game.

There is a variant of the rules on BoardGameGeek: https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/88415/dragon-pass-complete-rules-revised and various other possibly useful files, too.

I have a map and a unit roster for Shadows Dance, a half-game based on the map in RQ2 Trollpak (which scales to the DP map, and to the Griffin Mountain hexmap), but I don't have any scenarios or play experience. I did create a map using ASCII characters early in the days of needle printers reaching all the way from Gonn Orta's Pass to the Vent. With the Six Ages series, now one could create units for a game set in an interesting past on that map.

I also discussed the mundane side of a Holy Country board (the promised "Mastes of Luck and Death" third instalment of the games that never happened) both in private with Stephen Martin (who had produced the conversion of Nomad Gods to the Corbett rules for Les Dieux Nomades) and publicly on the RQ-Daily and Glorantha Digest.

All that hex map effort has of course been rendered moot by the hex grid offered in connection to the Guide maps if you scale them up accordingly and overlay them with a vector-graphic grid for better visibility (and possibly faction-tinted area overlays), but back in those days the 12 point printouts were nearly the same size as the DP hexes.

 

Combining the games would mean to play events like the Battles of Moonbroth (1610, 1624) with some distinct goal, possibly playing the Pure Horse Folk battles with EWF assistance, Jaldon's Great Raid(s), or similar scenarios. Or to use DP and NG units to stage some battles in and around the Rubble on a purpose-made hexmap. Perhaps even a Cradle campaign, with unit sizes adapted to smaller scale conflicts.

 

DP was my personal entryway to Glorantha, and it fit my faible for Celtic elements in roleplaying and fantasy, finding the continental Celts of the Noricum i(presumably ancestors of mine in the paternal line) again in the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass. Both my own major gameworlds developed during the first decade of my roleplaying had a heavy element of Celtic influences taken away from European geography and translated into my own late-migration/earliest feudal or Viking era settings on worlds with deep fantasy backgrounds. Lacking access to Cults of Prax or Cults of Terror, those settings compared well to what I could dig up on Glorantha during the pre-Renaissance RQ3 era. Even Trollpak encouraged me to expand my Viking period RQ3/BRP setting.

Both these settings had distinctly non-European elements within close reach - alternate Mesoamericans, subcontinental jungles and deserts full of ruins, eastern-influenced cultures, and a take on a mammoth-breeding Siberian civilization strong in shamanism.

 

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I've seen some folks contemplate these bigger versions of the board game, so that you could play out campaigns any where from Esrolia to Peloria. I wouldn't mind having a board game component like that to go with my Glorantha plans - heck, I'd integrate it into play for these big events. It would be great to have the board game form the meta-structure or background for a roleplayed campaign down in the weeds.

I also remember some rumors about a rework of WBRM/Dragon Pass being in the works. I do wonder what we have in the pipe for this!

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4 hours ago, Grievous said:

I also remember some rumors about a rework of WBRM/Dragon Pass being in the works. I do wonder what we have in the pipe for this!

More than just rumours. Chris Klug is/was working on a remake. But it's gone very quiet for some time now, and it would be good to hear if it's still moving forward (albeit slowly).

 

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23 hours ago, Grievous said:

I've seen some folks contemplate these bigger versions of the board game, so that you could play out campaigns any where from Esrolia to Peloria. I wouldn't mind having a board game component like that to go with my Glorantha plans - heck, I'd integrate it into play for these big events. It would be great to have the board game form the meta-structure or background for a roleplayed campaign down in the weeds.

Yes, I'd love to do that.

The Dagori Inkarth map from Trollpack and the Balazr/Elder Wilds maps from Griffin Mountain are the same hex scale as the Nomad Godsa and Second Edition Nomad Gods maps, so it is possible to overlay them. There are some issues with hexes along the edges, some aren;t lined up exactly right, but that can be made to work by moving them.

I wouldn't necessarily want to play in a game that has Sartar, Prax, Dagori Inkarth and Balazar/Elder Wilds in one game, though, as the map would be too big and the game would be too unwieldy.

However, I have used Nomad Gods tribes as Allies in Dragon Pass and Lunars and Sartarites as tribes in Nomad Gods. An average Nomad Gods tribe is roughly equivalent to the Dragonewts and the Grazelanders make a very poor tribe if used in Nomad Gods.

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Thanks for all the replies, and the fascinating information. I have already DLed the Vassal mod, and am looking forward to playing online with my friend from Iowa as soon as we have a weekend to kill. It looks like most if not all of the supplementary WBRM material from the Wyrm's Footnotes was included in the later Dragon Pass edition, so I may just try to incorporate those critters in future games of WBRM, taking their info from Dragon Pass. All things considered, the later edition appears to be a superior product in terms of handling exotic abilities and combat itself, though using its combat tables and detailed turn sequence will take some getting used to.

A remake would be very welcome. I'm curious whether we'll see some more recent board game innovations like card-driven games which seem to be all the rage. WBRM and Dragon Pass have a *lot* of counters in the full game, so any innovations will need to take that level of complexity into account. I read an interview where someone (either Greg himself, or someone on the Chaosium staff) mentioned that producing and selling RPG material was a lot more profitable than producing and selling boardgames, but I bet there are enough hardcore RQ folks out there that a remake of Dragon Pass would still be viable.

Cheers,    --- Phil

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I always wanted to do a Dragon Pass wargame using the Combat Commander ruleset.  The biggest problem I have is that I have no good or easy way to make the cards.

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The main reason that there aren't PDF's commercially available for Wyrm's Footnotes is simply because prior to 2015 all of the rights were not held by one company. Not having the time and resources is also a factor. Another small challenge is that you would realistically have to take the staples out of Issues 1-3 to get proper scans of them. Considering how valuable and collectable those issues are, nobody seems to be in a rush to offer up their copies for such deconstruction. Before anyone asks, let me be clear that reprinting these original 14 issues, or creating PDFs of them is not currently on our production schedule at all. I can't say I like that answer, but that's the situation.

NOTE: The same applies to reprinting WB&RM and/or Nomad Gods.  

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Rick, thanks for the light of reason.

For my own part, I finally concluded that seeing content from these old Wyrm's Footnotes that related to WB&RM is something of a fool's errand. The more I look at the rulebook from Dragon Pass, and at the Vassal mod for Dragon Pass (which has all the counters, not to mention the random events), the more I am convinced that all (or nearly all) of the extra content that was announced in 1975 is in fact available through the Dragon Pass game.

As far as reprints are concerned, I think it would be far less interesting to reprint those old games than to publish a new game on these old concepts, using techniques that have been pioneered for other board games in the over 40 years since 1975.

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45 minutes ago, PhilB said:

For my own part, I finally concluded that seeing content from these old Wyrm's Footnotes that related to WB&RM is something of a fool's errand. The more I look at the rulebook from Dragon Pass, and at the Vassal mod for Dragon Pass (which has all the counters, not to mention the random events), the more I am convinced that all (or nearly all) of the extra content that was announced in 1975 is in fact available through the Dragon Pass game.

From memory, very few of the counters from WF made their way into Dragon Pass.

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1 hour ago, soltakss said:

From memory, very few of the counters from WF made their way into Dragon Pass.

Looking through the WF index included in WF 15, these are the additional units noted:

Keener Than, GS. WB&RM rules for the pal of Sir Ethilrist.  Included in DP
Hungry Jack, GS. WB&RM rules for my favorite chaos pumpkin. Jack is back!   Included in DP
The Hydra, GS. WB&RM rules.   Included in DP
Masters of Magic, GS. WB&RM powerful magic unit.  Not included

Walktapi, GS. WB&RM info plus 3 game counters.  Not included

Sisters of Mercy, GS. WB&RM rules addition with 3 counters.  Not included

A Medley of New Units, Burt Medley. WB&RM variants.  Not included

 

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