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Carew

Tips for new Glorantha GMs

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Hello. New to Glorantha but not new to BRP games having played some Legend and Mithras. Just got the RQG rulebook and getting to grips with the system. My friend has  Glorantha 13th Age and there's a real difference in how that plays to BRP and in how Glorantha is presented. I'm setting up a campaign for others new to Glorantha now, and using the free scenario you can get but with our own characters. We are using the RQG rules for characters but one of them has read that you can play sorcerers from some place in the west and she really wants to do that. She played in sorcerer in my Legend campaign (which was using Xoth) and likes that style of magic. Where can I get help on background and a generator like that in the rulebook but for these western places? I did some looking around and she wants her character to be from Ralias but I can't find much more than that.

Also, what tips would you give a GM new to Glorantha? I read a bunch of threads on RPGnet about starting small and that's good advice, but I'm talking more about how to structure adventures and things like dungeon crawls. Some of my players are Pathfinder and D&D5 players and need something like that to get into the game.

So thank you and looking forward to this gaming! Only took me 20 years to finally give Glorantha a whirl!

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2 hours ago, Carew said:

...We are using the RQG rules for characters but one of them has read that you can play sorcerers from some place in the west and she really wants to do that. She played in sorcerer in my Legend campaign (which was using Xoth) and likes that style of magic. Where can I get help on background and a generator like that in the rulebook but for these western places? I did some looking around and she wants her character to be from Ralias but I can't find much more than that.

There is nothing official on that front, as of yet. Sorcery in RQG is all about being prepared and having your spells cast ahead of time. casting sorcery in combat is.... challenging. More detailed sorcery rules are coming, we just don't know when.

Quote

Also, what tips would you give a GM new to Glorantha?  I read a bunch of threads on RPGnet about starting small and that's good advice, but I'm talking more about how to structure adventures and things like dungeon crawls. 

Dungeon crawls are challenging to run and set up in RQG - or any version of RQ - but it can be done. You'll need to make sure that your characters have access to a lot of magic points beyond their own: spirits, storage crystals, or enchantments - something. Every combat will drain magic points and everyone will need to be fully healed between fights or your PCs won't make it more than 3-4 rooms before turning into a TPK. Die rolls are everything in RQ - especially for beginning players and characters. Criticals and Specials can happen at any time, to anyone. One lucky hit from a trollkin can kill anyone - even a well-seasoned adventurer or hero. 

In D&D, AC and Hit Points mean survivability. That isn't nearly the case in RQ. HP are (effectively) constant, and your armor can only get so much better than it is for starting characters. In RQ the big determiners are magic, numbers, and skill level - Rune Magic especially. Rune Magic is the big trump card, and be very careful  (as a GM) when you decide to have your antagonists start throwing it around; even Spirit Magic can turn the tide of fight in a hurry - there aren't a lot of fireballs or area affect spells, but the buffs available - even to starting PCs and enemies - are much more powerful than low level spells in D&D. 

Being outnumbered in RQ is deadly, especially when skill levels are low and success or failure is essentially a coin flip. AC isn't passive - PCs need to actively defend themselves by parrying or dodging - being outnumbered limits their ability to do so, as your chances decrease (-20%) for each subsequent attempt each round. So if your PC is facing 3 trollkin and you try to parry them all, you're third attempt is at -40%. Doesn't happen in D&D.

Skill level - this one is harder to wrap your head around. The more frequently you want to throw combats at your party, the lower you need to set the enemy's skills. The more enemies you throw at them in a given fight, the lower you'll need to set their skills. Don't be afraid to mix it up - 1-2 skilled enemies and bunch of scrubs can work well, but if a skilled opponent can gang up on one PC with scrub support, that PC will be in trouble. For tough fights I generally set the skill level of my antagonists on par with the party average; for hard fights I'll throw in a champion antagonist or two that is slightly better than the party's best fighter. But those fights will drain party resources very quickly. For easy encounters, or crawls, I'll keep enemy skill levels around the bottom of the party's combat abilities. 

Remember that enemy spell use will affect all of those benchmarks - so factor that into your thinking. For crawls, make good use of creatures and monsters that don't cast spells - they're easier to balance and the combats are generally faster to run.

Last thing: Damage Bonus - not a big deal in D&D, devastating in RQ. Sure, starting humans have +1d4 or +1d6 - a slightly above average great Troll can have +3d6. Big, strong creatures can do more damage because of their SIZ and STR than the base damage of their weapon. A PC that fails to dodge or parry against a Great Troll is in for a very bad day - even a successful parry might mean trouble if the PC doesn't have any defensive spells up yet.

There's a good section at the beginning of the Gloranthan Bestiary (available in pdf) that addresses some of this, too.

 

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3 hours ago, Carew said:

We are using the RQG rules for characters but one of them has read that you can play sorcerers from some place in the west and she really wants to do that. She played in sorcerer in my Legend campaign (which was using Xoth) and likes that style of magic. Where can I get help on background and a generator like that in the rulebook but for these western places? I did some looking around and she wants her character to be from Ralias but I can't find much more than that.

There will be some time before that kind of information will become available, but the collective of us old hands might be able to cobble something together that resembles the Sartarite character creation.

The character's grandparental and parental previous experience will do little to integrate it into the Dragon Pass-centered campaign, though, but it ought to be able to illustrate the difference of Glorantha.

Ralios is a complex place, with lots of options and dark secrets. The grandparents may have been affected by the events that led to the birth of Argin Terror, and the parents would have had the chance to participate in the rise of Surantir's Chariot of Lightning movement and the Seshnegi conquests in Dangim.

What kind of sorcerer does your player envision? The rules for Rokari sorcerers are in the RQG rules, but a Rokari might be harder to integrate into the Dragon Pass workings than a Chariot of Lightning adherent or an Arkati.

The personal experience of the sorcerer might be tied up with the last stages of Argrath's Circumnavigation at Harrek's side, and she might have a character tied in with Argrath's warlocks as a result.

Basically, some brain-storming and a crash course in Ralian events seems to be what you might be facing. Interested?

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Some months ago someone uploaded this to the forum:

https://basicroleplaying.org/search/?q=Ralios&type=downloads_file

It might be useful. Also warn that player that the sorcery rules in RQG are quite different from the ones in Legend. They are basically more time and MP consuming.

It will be cool to think of possible backgrounds for that character to be in Sartar. Perhaps she is looking for some ruins of the God Learner empire there. Knowing the distrust the locals have against western sorcerers, she may be first helping the locals in their quests so she can travel much more safely afterwards. Maybe he has contacted some friendly Lhankor Mhy sages to help him in exchange for some spell formulae. At first, the other Orlanthi PCs should distrust the sorcerer, but later on they will start seeing how useful his spells can be.

Perhaps it would be cool for you to ease the player's introduction to Glorantha with a Gloranthan crawl like the Rainbow Mounds in the Apple Lane book. But take into account the advice given above. Snake Pipe Hollow is another dungeon crawl, but far more dangerous, so be careful.

If you moved your campaign to New Pavis, the Big Rubble there offers loads of opportunities for looting ancient subterranean ruins.

Edited by Runeblogger
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Thank you everyone.

Where can I find more detail on Ralios? My player wants to control the elements, so we're looking at spells to help do that.

Quote

The personal experience of the sorcerer might be tied up with the last stages of Argrath's Circumnavigation at Harrek's side, and she might have a character tied in with Argrath's warlocks as a result.

I see mentions of all these in the RQG rules but as I said, I'm new to Glorantha and I don't know what a lot of this is supposed mean or signify. There is a HECK of a lot of stuff to take in to understand it all.

Quote

Basically, some brain-storming and a crash course in Ralian events seems to be what you might be facing. Interested?

Thats a kind offer and thank you, but I don't want to start getting into all this deep Glorantha stuff at this stage. Is there a Ralios book or supplement I can look at, or direct my player to?

Having gone through about two third of the rules, this is what I'm finding difficult (and so are some of my players). Its all very cool, but there's all this deep backstory that is really tough to absorb if you want to get a character that feels right, and if you want a character that isn't a Sartar character, but comes from somewhere else, then your screwed on your backstory. My player's rationale is she's an elemental sorcerer from far away travelling to find a certain spell to free her captive sisters. She has met the other characters as part of a caravan which was attacked before play started, and then we shall play the quickstart adventure and see where that goes. But the game seems to want to force all the characters to be from this one area with this common background and it doesn't accommodate for different wants from players too much. I could say to my player that she needs to make a Sartar character that follows the backstory, but we've done that in other campaigns for other games we've played and it doesn't go down well. We like to sandbox with diverse characters.

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11 hours ago, Thyrwyn said:

There is nothing official on that front, as of yet. Sorcery in RQG is all about being prepared and having your spells cast ahead of time. casting sorcery in combat is.... challenging. More detailed sorcery rules are coming, we just don't know when.

Dungeon crawls are challenging to run and set up in RQG - or any version of RQ - but it can be done. You'll need to make sure that your characters have access to a lot of magic points beyond their own: spirits, storage crystals, or enchantments - something. Every combat will drain magic points and everyone will need to be fully healed between fights or your PCs won't make it more than 3-4 rooms before turning into a TPK. Die rolls are everything in RQ - especially for beginning players and characters. Criticals and Specials can happen at any time, to anyone. One lucky hit from a trollkin can kill anyone - even a well-seasoned adventurer or hero. 

In D&D, AC and Hit Points mean survivability. That isn't nearly the case in RQ. HP are (effectively) constant, and your armor can only get so much better than it is for starting characters. In RQ the big determiners are magic, numbers, and skill level - Rune Magic especially. Rune Magic is the big trump card, and be very careful  (as a GM) when you decide to have your antagonists start throwing it around; even Spirit Magic can turn the tide of fight in a hurry - there aren't a lot of fireballs or area affect spells, but the buffs available - even to starting PCs and enemies - are much more powerful than low level spells in D&D. 

Being outnumbered in RQ is deadly, especially when skill levels are low and success or failure is essentially a coin flip. AC isn't passive - PCs need to actively defend themselves by parrying or dodging - being outnumbered limits their ability to do so, as your chances decrease (-20%) for each subsequent attempt each round. So if your PC is facing 3 trollkin and you try to parry them all, you're third attempt is at -40%. Doesn't happen in D&D.

Skill level - this one is harder to wrap your head around. The more frequently you want to throw combats at your party, the lower you need to set the enemy's skills. The more enemies you throw at them in a given fight, the lower you'll need to set their skills. Don't be afraid to mix it up - 1-2 skilled enemies and bunch of scrubs can work well, but if a skilled opponent can gang up on one PC with scrub support, that PC will be in trouble. For tough fights I generally set the skill level of my antagonists on par with the party average; for hard fights I'll throw in a champion antagonist or two that is slightly better than the party's best fighter. But those fights will drain party resources very quickly. For easy encounters, or crawls, I'll keep enemy skill levels around the bottom of the party's combat abilities. 

Remember that enemy spell use will affect all of those benchmarks - so factor that into your thinking. For crawls, make good use of creatures and monsters that don't cast spells - they're easier to balance and the combats are generally faster to run.

Last thing: Damage Bonus - not a big deal in D&D, devastating in RQ. Sure, starting humans have +1d4 or +1d6 - a slightly above average great Troll can have +3d6. Big, strong creatures can do more damage because of their SIZ and STR than the base damage of their weapon. A PC that fails to dodge or parry against a Great Troll is in for a very bad day - even a successful parry might mean trouble if the PC doesn't have any defensive spells up yet.

There's a good section at the beginning of the Gloranthan Bestiary (available in pdf) that addresses some of this, too.

 

Thank you Thyrwyn. As I said, we're familiar with BRP as we've just finished a home-brew Legend campaign and have played some Mithras too. Magic is obviously really important and everyone has it so that will take some getting used to but for the other things you mention we've learned sometimes the hard way! That is goods advice on the skill levels for encounters and I will remember that. Thank you again.

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13 minutes ago, Carew said:

Where can I find more detail on Ralios? (...)

Thats a kind offer and thank you, but I don't want to start getting into all this deep Glorantha stuff at this stage. Is there a Ralios book or supplement I can look at, or direct my player to?

The best free place to start is the Glorantha wiki:

https://glorantha.fandom.com/wiki/Ralios

Mongoose Publishing published a book about Ralios, but it is focused on the Second Age (the previous one). The old Genertela book by Chaosium also had a section about Ralios, but it must be hard to find nowadays. Other than that, the next best info on Ralios is in The Guide to Glorantha, but that will be too much for your player. 😯

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My mental picture of Ralios is of a swords-and-sorcery version of medieval Italy. Lots of dueling city-states with rulers who don't last very long owing to some court intrigue or other, plus Arkati wizards with their own agendas, who also may or may not last very long. Assassinations are commonplace. Nevertheless, the trade around Lake Safelster makes the area rich and full of merchants. Your player's character would quite easily have the philosopher background, with a specialization in refuting the arguments of heretic Arkati (there are lots of Arkats...sadly the cult has never officially been worked up in the Ralian context AFAIK). That deep philosophical background won't matter in Sartar, as there are very few Arkati around to debate with, so you can just hand-wave it. The PC should be confident in her *secret knowledge*, however, and would probably view the Sartarites as illiterate barbarians. Perhaps she offended a rival sect and there are other Arkati coming after her?

The bigger issue you'll find is that RQG sorcery isn't nearly as flexible as Mythras sorcery, and contains a lot of fiddly bits that in my experience so far slow down play. Our party sorcerer has given up trying to use sorcery in combat and just uses it to pre-buff the party (for which you'll need a LOT of magic points - I'd give a starting sorcerer an MP storing enchantment or crystal). That is a conscious design choice.

Note also language rules. I'd give a far-traveling starting PC extra languages in Tradetalk and possibly the local language for your campaign otherwise things could get very frustrating.

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My mental picture of Ralios is of a swords-and-sorcery version of medieval Italy. Lots of dueling city-states with rulers who don't last very long owing to some court intrigue or other, plus Arkati wizards with their own agendas, who also may or may not last very long. Assassinations are commonplace. Nevertheless, the trade around Lake Safelster makes the area rich and full of merchants. Your player's character would quite easily have the philosopher background, with a specialization in refuting the arguments of heretic Arkati (there are lots of Arkats...sadly the cult has never officially been worked up in the Ralian context AFAIK). That deep philosophical background won't matter in Sartar, as there are very few Arkati around to debate with, so you can just hand-wave it. The PC should be confident in her *secret knowledge*, however, and would probably view the Sartarites as illiterate barbarians. Perhaps she offended a rival sect and there are other Arkati coming after her?

This sounds really cool, but is also really frustrating too. I did a search in my RQ pdf and there are mentions of Arkat but not who he (she? it? they?) is, or were, or what they really did. Is this Arkat a god or a hero? I cannot tell from the RQ book. So this cool idea is now a really frustrating cool idea because there's all this deep Glorantha backstory that isn't covered anywhere except in maybe wikis and this humungous and humungously expensive Glortantha guide. Its like you've got to be a Glorantha expert to even start playing unless you want to make shit up and find out its wrong, or doesn't fit later. Unless your characters are all Sartar people that is.

Quote

Mongoose Publishing published a book about Ralios, but it is focused on the Second Age (the previous one). The old Genertela book by Chaosium also had a section about Ralios, but it must be hard to find nowadays. Other than that, the next best info on Ralios is in The Guide to Glorantha, but that will be too much for your player. 😯

Also what is the Second Age? It is mentioned in the RQ book a few times but there is no real information on it. I cannot find the Ralios book on the Mongoose website either and someone said that all the information in it is now wrong. Why is it wrong?

Maybe I am thinking too much about all this, but we just want to be able to understand Gloranrtha a bit more, and my player wants a sorcerer character that fits with the world and has some kind of back story like the Sartar characters. All this history and stuff scattered everywhere in different books (some of which seem to be wrong anyway) just makes it all really difficult. Sorry to be sounding negative! Just want to have a fun game!

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2 minutes ago, Carew said:

This sounds really cool, but is also really frustrating too. I did a search in my RQ pdf and there are mentions of Arkat but not who he (she? it? they?) is, or were, or what they really did. Is this Arkat a god or a hero? I cannot tell from the RQ book.

Your best bet is The Glorantha Sourcebook

https://www.chaosium.com/the-glorantha-sourcebook-pdf/

That lays out the mythology of the setting pretty well and has enough about Arkat to build on. Briefly, there were two ages before the current age. In the first age a "perfect" god named Nysalor appeared who ruled most of the continent from a majestic city in Dorastor. However, alongside his perfect rule chaos started seeping into the world. A hero appeared in the west called Arkat who led a long campaign against Nysalor, whom the Arkati called Gbaji. Arkat went through many different methods of defeating Gbaji, at one point becoming a troll, and perishing at least once, before entering Dorastor and confronting his enemy face-to-face. The victor claimed to be Arkat, but who knows? He then founded an empire in Ralios before his apotheosis. That was the end of the first age. In the second age, thanks to the machinations of a cursed people called the God Learners, the power and cult of Arkat was shattered. There are now many different aspects of Arkat, all worshipped by people who claim it to be the one true version of the cult. That's really all you need to go on here. Because Arkat's cult has never been worked up officially, you can make it whatever you want.

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YGWV

Your Glorantha Will Vary is the meaning of that acronym.

In a nutshell, for someone starting fresh, I think that phrase is the best advice you can give yourself. Start from a place of comfort for your group, and dial in the Runequest/Glorantha-isms slowly to taste. I've been running some form of "Glorantha" for about thirty years, and it's never come that close to what the "implied setting" or whatever the general consensus is around here. 

The main thing, like any rpg system/setting/experience/etc, is most of the people at the table should be having a good time most of the time. 

If this means "kill monsters and take their stuff," great. If it means "a complex ethnographic case study regarding the interaction between several insurgent, disconnected pastoral cultures and a large, logistically superior monoculture," great also.

If it's something in the middle, even better...probably. ;)

At no point in the play or prep time should you be worried about "doing it right" further than entertaining everyone at the table (including yourself/GM).

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Who is Arkat? Uhh, yeah, that's a doozy and a question that definitely also gets asked in "modern" day Glorantha as well.

His story has a pretty simple seeming beginning, but it gets complicated rather quickly until answering that question becomes pretty difficult - and also an enjoyable mystery in itself, which plays in the current day game world in the form of the fragmented and divisive Arkat cult. He was a hero of Western origin, who became the first expert experimental Heroquester. He did some pretty deep investigations of the Godplane - so deep in fact that he ended up confronting himself over there. He also did something pretty rare in Glorantha and hopped from cult to cult, changing greatly in the process - so much so that he may have become a troll(!). To me he seems something of a Conan-meets-powergaming PC-meets-Thanos figure, but admittedly that's an odd bunch and doesn't really take into account just how unique of a character he is. What exactly happened when he confronted his great enemy Nysalor and fought him is also somewhat shrouded in mystery. If someone wants to lay down some deep insights on his later development and the twists and turns that are part of his history, I'd be interested to hear pretty much all your theories as well.

Also, this is Arkat:

DWXHo-IQUQAAb-GQ8-jpg-large2.jpg

 

Edited by Grievous
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19 hours ago, Carew said:

Also, what tips would you give a GM new to Glorantha? I read a bunch of threads on RPGnet about starting small and that's good advice, but I'm talking more about how to structure adventures and things like dungeon crawls. Some of my players are Pathfinder and D&D5 players and need something like that to get into the game.

Yep, start small and work up. That helps players and GMs, especially if both are new to Glorantha.

Don't dump a whole load of Gloranthan stuff on them at once, at the start.

Don't have every encounter show the weirdness of Glorantha. You don;t want a duck, then a troll with sunglasses, then a walking bush, then a group of Dragonewts, then a dwarf who isn't like any dwarves they are used to. Sure, keep these things in mind, but don't drop them all at once. Introduce them slowly.

Use cults, perhaps not in the first session, but bring them in after a few sessions. My first RQ GM said that we weren't ready for cults yet on our first session and took 3 or 4 sessions to introduce them and that worked really well.

Don't sweat the rules. If you can't find a rule then make something up. If you misread a rule or make a mistake, don't bother about it. If you don't like a rule then change it. Use as few rules as you can get away with.

Don't spend every few minutes searching the rulebook. Make some sheets with basic rules on and use those. If you want prices of things, then write them down somewhere. If you want a list of spells then use that rather than going through the rules every single time. 

Keep beginning scenarios short and simple. No point having a very complex plot using the intricacies of Gloranthan society for people who don't know the difference between Pavis and the Big Rubble.

Don't be afraid of cavern crawls or "dungeons", they work really well in RQ, despite what some people say. Some of my best RQ scenarios have been when I cleared out a Chaos Great Temple, with friends of course, or when I explored a cavern full of nasty greeblies.

Have healing in your games, lots of healing. Everyone should know at least Healing 2, or Heal Area/Wound (whichever it is now). Stock up with Healing Potions, where possible. Make Chalana Arroy Temples freely available, being only a couple of days away, give their healing magic away without charge, but on a heal now pay later basis. Allow Divine Intervention to resurrect PCs and have Resurrection freely available. Be flexible with wounds, so a wound might kill a PC according to the rules, but let First Aid keep them on the brink of death until a proper Healer can help them. 

Don't overplay cult and racial hostilities. Having a sorcerer from Ralios doesn't make all Orlanthi immediately their enemy, calling the Meldeks. Having an elf and a dwarf in the same party shouldn't have them at each other's throats all the time. People are people and they can work together. 

Above all, try to have fun.

Edited by soltakss
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A suggestion I am seeing about some of the expensive / premium products coming out for RPG's these days:  do a "group" purchase.  Everyone chip in $20, or $40, or whatever, and help the GM defray the costs of those Really Expensive Items.

Maybe that could make the Guide to Glorantha more affordable?  Also, you could get just the PDF... $50 instead of $170.

I will also point you toward... Hmm... I guess it's just "more frustration," but I'll point out the "Group Read" subfoum, over in the Glorantha subforum, has Ralios threads (week 16), which may have some useful info.  Or not -- it's "talking about" the chapter.

 

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Think on this.

 

If you decided to play a game in ancient Rome, you would not expect your players to go get a masters in Roman history.  So dont expect them or yourself to get a degree in Gloranthan history.  I majored i The Napoleonic era, and I probably know almost as much about Glorantha, but they dont give degrees in that.

 

This is supposed to be fun, dont make it a chore.  If you get something wrong, just explain when you find it, laugh and move on.  

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15 hours ago, Carew said:

My player's rationale is she's an elemental sorcerer from far away travelling to find a certain spell to free her captive sisters. She has met the other characters as part of a caravan which was attacked before play started, and then we shall play the quickstart adventure and see where that goes. But the game seems to want to force all the characters to be from this one area with this common background and it doesn't accommodate for different wants from players too much. I could say to my player that she needs to make a Sartar character that follows the backstory, but we've done that in other campaigns for other games we've played and it doesn't go down well. We like to sandbox with diverse characters.

I'd say your player's rationale makes perfect sense. And it can be supported with in-game lore too.

The area your PCs will be adventuring in, Dragon Pass and Holy Country are noted for their ancient magical heritage, and so the idea that there might be some rumour of a specific spell in some old temple or ruin, or library, or even in the memory of a local spirit - and that she was pointed that way by, say, some document back in Ralios - seems good enough for me.

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17 hours ago, Carew said:

This sounds really cool, but is also really frustrating too. I did a search in my RQ pdf and there are mentions of Arkat but not who he (she? it? they?) is, or were, or what they really did. Is this Arkat a god or a hero? I cannot tell from the RQ book. So this cool idea is now a really frustrating cool idea because there's all this deep Glorantha backstory that isn't covered anywhere except in maybe wikis and this humungous and humungously expensive Glortantha guide. Its like you've got to be a Glorantha expert to even start playing unless you want to make shit up and find out its wrong, or doesn't fit later. Unless your characters are all Sartar people that is.

If you are new to Glorantha I'd give three pieces of advice: 1. Don't try to read everything on these forums - it'll just confuse you. I'm reasonably familiar with Glorantha, but I find some of the discussions on these boards incredibly (and dare I say, pointlessly) esoteric, and these will mire you in doubt and confusion. 2. If you want to run a RQ campaign right now, you're probably better off ignoring the suggested RQG timeline of 1625, and buying a solid RQ2 supplement like Borderlands or Griffin Mountain, and running that with the RQG rules instead. The stats are all pretty much compatible, and those campaigns are tried and tested, and great introductions to Glorantha. The RQG stuff that's been published so far (e.g. the GM screen pack adventures) are fine, but there are only three RQG scenarios (four, if you use The Broken Tower), and there are no release dates for the next publications yet. 3. Get the Glorantha Sourcebook, rather than the Guide to Glorantha - the last thing a newbie should do is try to stick their head in an encyclopedia. It will shackle your imagination, and have you worrying about whether you're 'doing it right'. 

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19 hours ago, Carew said:

So this cool idea is now a really frustrating cool idea because there's all this deep Glorantha backstory that isn't covered anywhere except in maybe wikis and this humungous and humungously expensive Glortantha guide. Its like you've got to be a Glorantha expert to even start playing unless you want to make shit up and find out its wrong, or doesn't fit later.

The nice thing about Ralios and its little city-states in the Safelster region is that you can create a basic background for your player's character from there without having to worry too much about what might or might not fit.  I ran a campaign for years based in the Lunar kingdom of Imther based largely on a couple lines from the old Griffin Mountain pack.

There are plenty of us here who have the Glorantha guide and can provide snippets and enough insights to get you started (and hopefully not too frustrated in the process!). 🙂

On ‎1‎/‎31‎/‎2019 at 7:13 PM, Carew said:

she wants her character to be from Ralios

Ralios is a bunch of small city-states largely surrounding this great inland lake. And there are caravans from Ralios that then travel through the land of Maniria along the famous Trader's Road that ends in Esrolia.  In Safelster: Many prominent cities cluster about the fertile shores of Lake Felster, Lake Helby, and the great tributaries of the Tanier River. The lakes are surrounded by wide grasslands with scattered, but enormous, oak trees. To the south is the vast Tarinwood forest... Safelster is not ruled by one or two great cities, but by a dozen large cities, all competing with each other in trade and war.

Here's a little picture to set the stage. Highwater in the SE is the jumping off point to places east (e.g. Esrolia/Dragon Pass).

The closest cities to the Trader's Road are: Estali, Gamol, Lartuli, and Tolin.  Gamol is heavily focused on a shamanic tradition, so let's look at Galin instead.  These are all part of the Estali League.

Estali (large city): Estali is rich from its control of the Estal River Valley. It is ruled by the Archon of Estal, a position held by whoever wields the Purple Scepter of Serpent Sentience. The current Archon maintains a fervent affair with Alangellia, high priestess of the Great Green Lady (also called Ernalda in Estali). Estali dominated Safelster from 1360 to 1400 and still maintains a sizeable navy. The splendors of its former glory can still be seen in the great Palace of the Archon, the magnificent Temple of the Great Green Lady, with its Copper Gate, and the Great Library of Lhankor Mhy, the largest in Safelster. Estali is notorious for its lascivious fertility festivals celebrating the Great Green Lady.

Galin (large city): This city is an ancient holy place, the birth site of Galanin, the horse-god, divine ancestor of the Enerali people who dominated the region in the Dawn Age. It is ruled by a dynasty of hereditary queens who came to power about two centuries ago. The previous Queen was killed in battle, and her successor, Queen Ingye, was recently married to the Tournament King of Kustria. The city is part of the Estali League and allied with the city of that name.

Lartuli (small city): This hill-top city was founded as a royal fortress of the ancient Galanini queens. It is a place of pilgrimage because of a sacred rock relief carved into a nearby cliff. The relief, some thirty feet high and of unknown age, depicts a Solar horse woman battling against the dragon ruler of the Underworld. Near Lartuli is the battlefield of Irn, where many Ralian demigods fought and bled in the Gods Age. Mining for Gods’ Blood crystals and various associated metals is an important part of the city’s wealth, and several of the mines are many centuries old.

Tolin (small city): This city is best known for its great and ornate Sun Temple, located on the lake shore. The complex is designed in the form of the god’s chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on ten pairs of decorated wheels at its base. Each Sacred Time, the temple is the site of wild and drunken festivals intended to revive the god in the Underworld.

A few things to note from the above:

  • All these cities have temples to gods! This is a society that has a mixture of traditions where sorcerers and other magic users interact.
  • There are some deities here that are also common in Dragon Pass! Great Green Lady, aka Ernalda; a horse god, the sun god. And some odd differences: the dragon ruler of the Underworld.
  • There's a temple to the God of Knowledge in Estali - convenient place to have learned about places elsewhere in the world.

And a few cultural notes:

Each city has its distinguishing palaces, along with temples and other sacrificial buildings of sometimes monumental size and form, which lie next to tightly-knit living quarters traversed by a bewildering network of streets.... Beneath most cities are catacombs, subterranean passageways that serve as tombs and, often, as meeting places for cults of Darkness or worse.

The Safelstrans are notorious for their penchant for intrigue, plots, and assassinations, and the overall unstable political state of affairs. The Arkati sects that survived the persecutions of the God Learners did so by perfecting their inherent predispositions for secrecy and paranoia; even heroes learn to fear daggers in the night or an assassin’s poison. Outsiders portray the Safelstrans as cunning, corrupt, perfidious, servile, effeminate, and treacherous.

Kafl leaf is an important crop in Ralios. Originally smoked as a vehicle for sending prayers to the spirits, it has been a popular stimulant in the West since the First Age. Kafl leaf is dried and crumbled and kept in elaborate beaded bags until used. Then it is rolled into paper, and the spirit talkers light one end and puff on it, feeding the spirits with their smoke and prayers. Wealthy Safelstrans smoke kafl leaf from ornate bronze water-pipes.

20 hours ago, Carew said:

there are mentions of Arkat but not who he (she? it? they?) is, or were, or what they really did. Is this Arkat a god or a hero?

An ancient Hero named Arkat once benevolently ruled this region. His long and complex history provides a fascinating and confusing story whose truth has been lost among the propaganda and lies of many centuries of oppression. Several philosophers and historians believe that more than one person named Arkat lived and were compressed by faulty memory into one character. Now, several fragments of the old hero cult of Arkat exist, most of them exclusive of each other, all of them claiming to be the genuine heir to the ancient secrets.

Now, the "name" Arkat mean "Liberator". It is the same root name/word as Argrath. The rise of Argrath in Dragon Pass is stirring the return of some/many Arkats from the Otherworld. Lots of different traditions there. Whether they are meaningful or not for the player's character is a decision, but it may be a motivating reason to have journeyed eastward. Aspects of Arkat include: Arkat Liberator, Arkat Destroyer, Arkat Peacemaker, Arkat the Deceiver (i.e. the chaotic Arkat), Arkat the Founder, Arkat Chaosbane.

As for sorcery, in the western tradition, Wizards are called zzaburi and constitute the “blue caste”. They learn the arts of wizardry. Zzaburi are philosophers, religious functionaries, scribes, and, of course, powerful magicians. In wartime, they support the Soldiers and may compose special units. They are subordinate to the talars. Zzaburi are fed, housed, and appropriately
honored for the labors they perform for their talars. Some serve as wizard-priests for a shrine or temple and are supported by their community. Zzaburi learn their art in a school or from a wandering teacher
.... Wizards exaggerate their height with tall hats and long-sleeved robes (and sometimes even elevated shoes). The preferred textile is wool or silk, dyed to either a blue so dark it is almost black or dyed white to emphasize their purity.

There are three broad "philosophies" of wizardry in Ralios, each with certain acceptable practices. The Henotheist is the most open.

Boristi (Ralios): This School believes that it is their sacred duty to freely Tap Chaotic things. This school was founded during the Gbaji Wars and was never widespread.
Galvosti (Ralios): This School permits Tapping of non-Malkioni. Like other Hrestoli schools, the Galvosti believe in reincarnation. They originated in the Second Age, when the Galvosti dynasty of Nomia ruled much of Ralios as allies of the God Learners. When Ralios was liberated from the God Learners, the school was nearly wiped out by vengeful barbarians.
Henotheists (Fronela, Maniria, Ralios): Numerous henotheist schools exist throughout western Genertela. They acknowledge a supreme god, but sacrifice to gods and spirits and incorporate other various elements of Malkionism. Each henotheist school has its own esoteric secrets and many claim to have been founded by Arkat during the Gbaji Wars or during his long rule of Ralios
.

Lots of room within one of these philosophies for specific "schools".  If you follow the general RQG premise that the school is part of the Malkionism approach (RQG p.389), then the selection of the three Runes (the Spirit Rune, an Elemental Rune, and either a Power Rune or the Magic Rune) and two techniques (Command and one other) becomes a central element of that school. This is something you can work with the player on defining, and maybe the tidbits above on the cities can help with that - and whether canonical or not is immaterial as the important point is for you and the player to have fun in the game.

 

RaliosView.JPG

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This is really helpful Jajagappa. Thank you for this background. We will use this for her character.

I will look at getting the Glorantha sourcebook too which seems to be thing thing we need. I may also look at the older adventures someone else mentioned. I have heard of Griffin Mountain so that might be a good place to start.

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22 hours ago, Carew said:

has some kind of back story like the Sartar characters

As a quick background, in 1455, King Ulianus III of Seshnela conquered everything west of Lake Felster. His empire collapsed in 1515. Since then, the many states of Ralios continue their fierce independence, despite the threat of a united Seshnela to their west. Various city-states and tribes form alliances and leagues for temporary purposes; none seems likely to unify this troubled land.

This was 100+ years ago - ancient history (like WW1 for us) - the time of legends for a PC's ancestors.

Here's a set of events culled from the Guide relevant to Ralios and Safelster. Many are events that nobles, mercenaries, healers, and warriors might have participated in. Naskorion, Otkorion, and Seshnela are advancing - converging on the city states. Likely many refugees fleeing to other cities, or residents taken as slaves (perhaps being subsequently ransomed, sold, or escaping).

1582: Ruling dynasty of Naskorion based in Makan seizes control of Marost

~1585: Dynasty of Naskorion builds the Temple of the Black Stone in Marost

1597: The regalia of Tinaros sunk in Lake Felster along with its bearer - the surviving widow sacrifices her three children in order to gain revenge and lays with the Devil to beget Argin Terror, the Nightmare Sorcerer.

1598: Birth of Argin Terror.

1599: Partanian fleet is destroyed on the day Argin Terror says his first word, and 1600: Fall and razing of the island city of Partan by the Estali on the day when Argin Terror first walks - its inhabitants are dispersed and its stolen treasures decorate the palace of the Archon of Estali.

1600: City of Nisos, which was part of the Partan League, allies with Azilos.

1605: Surantyr the Non-Heretic experiences the Chariot of Lightning revelations atop Top of the World Mountain

1608: Surantyr completes the conquest of Valantia

1610: Jarabolos which belonged to Sentanos is conquered by the Duke of Naskorion

1611: the Chariot of Lightning conquers Fiesive with its Lankstite allies and forges the confederation of Otkorion

1613: The market city of Kadesos which was held by Sentanos is conquered by the Duke of Naskorion 

1615: King Guilmarn of Seshnela appoints a Tanisorian governor over the city of Moeket on the border of Dangim and Daran.

1615: the count of Dangim is killed and replaced with a rival member of his family by the King of Seshnela

1616: Utorost the City of Bronze is conquered by Naskorion.

1617: The Guild of Chaos Monks begin their uprising in Dainmol and attempt to seize Tiskos and Walim

1618: Ingye becomes Queen of Galin at age 15.

1619:  The Lankst hero, Siglolf Cloudcrusher, destroys the Sentanos army and leaders at the Battle of Falling Stones

1619: Prince of Dainmol retakes the city from the Guild of Chaos Monks -  many

are feared to have gone underground.

1620: Defed the Prophet, a powerful sorcerer, becomes the new leader of the Boristi school and has delivered a new revelation for his followers.

1621: Kustria acquires the city-state of Galin through the marriage of Meime, the Tournament King, to Ingye, the Queen of Galin. Somewhat scandalously for such

political unions, they really love each other.

1622: the Great Caravan of the Uz, known as the Swarm for the vast herds of giant insects, leaves Guhan and moves across Ralios with the aid of the Argan Argar Chain

1622-23: tracts and omens report the return of one or more Arkats; three leaders vie to prove their claims to reinstitute the ancient Dark Empire of Arkat (Erengazor, the Duchess of Tortun; Foyalfine, Archon of Azilos; and Kimiv, Duke of Naskorion)

1624: King of Seshnela invades Safelster - launches the One God, One King, One Empire Crusade - many flee his advance.

Edited by jajagappa

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In addition to the traditional venues for 'older" materials (eBay, NobleKnight, etc) Chaosium has 2 lines of "Classic" product.

There is the Kickstarter-produced "RuneQuest Classic" line.  This is headlined by the title book, "RuneQuest Classic," about 99% identical to the 1980 printing of Runequest 2e; that other 1% being the incorporation of a small errata list & including a few snippets from various RQ articles & columns of the era.  As "Stretch Goals" of the campaign, most of the great RQ2 supplements are being brought back into print (they are in the final stretches now, wrapping up that last 2-3 titles).

Then there is the "Gloranthan Classics" line, 4 volumes produced by Moon Design many years ago under license during the "dark years" when nobody knew when/if ANY new RQ content would (or even could, due to wierd IP) be produced again.  This is /ALSO/ mostly RQ2 content (so the overlap is substantial!) but somewhat different from the "RQ Classic" line...  The "Cult Compendium," for example, combines two different RQ2 titles (Cults of Prax & Cults of Terror) and also raids several other places for a few other Cults; iirc there may even be a few RQ3-era cults included (?) .

Both lines offer versions of Griffin Mountain.  It's a great big wilderness-centric "sandbox" campaign set adjacent to both Dragon Pass and Prax.

For a more traditional "linked adventures" campaign, you might look at Borderlands (or "Borderlands & Beyond" in the other line), where the adventurers sign on as "troubleshooters" to help exiled Duke Rone secure his new holding in the Zola Fel river valley (set in the Wastes of Prax).

Also of interest to your group, I think, would be Pavis & the Big Rubble (of that same title in the Gloranthan Classics line, but still to be (re-)released among the final bits of the RQClassuc KS).  Pavis was originally founded as "Rob-Cradle" by the God-Learners to steal magical secrets and powers from the cradles of infant Giants.  Then the Giants came and did stompy, giantish things (plus magic, cos THOSE Giants were powerful!) and built a huge Giant-scale city there.  Then the hero/demigod Pavis came & took the city for his own.  And so it went, invasion after invasion.  It is now called "the Big Rubble," and is a loot-baited magnet for adventurers from thousands of miles away.  "New Pavis" has grown to be a sizeable city along one wall of the Rubble, service in as a base for adventurers as a marketplace, and more.

Edited by g33k

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Along with soltakss and plenty of others' good advice here, again, I'd counsel: go slow.

Gloranthan lore (as you've already witnessed) can be like drinking from a firehose.

PERSONALLY, with a collection of previous D&D players my first concern would be about it being so much more lethal and dangerous than D&D that they'd get discouraged.

So when I say 'start small' I mean in all contexts.  Look; most shepherds, or cattlemen, or or farmers *aren't* going to be well-versed in the Third Apotheosis of Arkat.  They mostly won't care.  Even a young sorcerer who might indeed be rather better-read than most, is still starting from a fairly small-scale very local view. 

Give them small challenges that are frankly speaking, easy to win at while they get their balance and start to explore your setting and world.  (Contrapositively I've always been a firm advocate of teaching people the fundamentals of RQ by giving them basic pre-gen characters and having them fight a handful of wolves...and get killed.  Yes, kill them.  They're not their characters, they're pre-gens, and if you can scare them out of the heroic 'I can just charge in' mentality BEFORE they're playing their own toons, I think that's a win - plus you can work on MECHANICS and nobody cares with pre-gens if you forgot to apply Rule X, etc.)

One method I really push with new players is to personalize it, and try like hell to get out of that heroic D&D mindset.  "Ok Sarah, you look up from the carcass of the sheep you found, and you see the eyes of two, no, maybe three wolves in the shadows of the underbrush only perhaps twenty feet away, gleaming in the fitful glare of Chuck's torch.  Don't think of what a VIDEO GAME character would do, what would YOU do, with your shield on your back and a stout spear in your right hand?"  Really try to make it personal and immediate.  Hopefully they take more care of their personal safety than most D&D characters bother to.

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