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Euclid Prime

New to RuneQuest Product Questions

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Sorry if this has been explained somewhere before, I browsed through these forums and other searches and haven't found a definitive answer. I played RQ briefly (think it was made by Avalon Hill at the time) back in the 80s - but we moved to WFRP and never really went back to other fantasy games/settings.

I've just purchased the  RuneQuest - Roleplaying in Glorantha - Slipcase Set, I understand that is the rule set and the Glorantha setting - but I'm confused how that works with the 2 other products I'm looking at:

  • The Glorantha Sourcebook - Hardcover
  • The Guide to Glorantha (slipcase set)

What do these 2 other products add to what I've already purchased in the Slipcase Set?

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Basically, the slipcase set is to play RuneQuest, with the rules and mechanics necessary to play the game.

The Glorantha stuff (sourcebook and guide) describe the setting of the World of Glorantha (lore, history, geography, gods, etc.), and doesn't necessarily need to be used for Runequest specifically, as it doesn't mention game rules and mechanics. They're valuable for any games set in Glorantha.

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Welcome to the forum.

First off neither the Sourcebook (GSB) nor the Guide (GtG) contain any rules or game mechanic specifics. They are completely game agnostic. The GtG is a massive read that collates a lot of previously published materials with new info. It has loads of maps, many of which are compiled in the Argan Agar Atlas. 

The GSB is a great intro into Dragon Pass and the Lunar Empire. It covers the history, myth and magic. It contains some materials distilled from the GtG, including art, but has a significant amount of new materials. It takes the 40 or so pages of the Homeland section of the rule book and fleshes them out to 200+ pages. 

Neither are required for play, as the rulebook and the GM pack give you ample background material. But if you enjoy the game  I would recommend the Sourcebook over the Guide for new players. It is far more accessible and very evocative. The guide is an encyclopaedia.

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Both books are game system independent, because they only enrich the background information for the game world.

  • The Glorantha Sourcebook describes mainly the region of Dragon Pass, and therefore it is a useful (but in no way necessary) extension of the descriptions in RuneQuest - Roleplaying in Glorantha. It focuses on the history of this region, but includes also a description of the Lunar Empire's history. It also describes the Elder Races (Aldryami (Elves), Dragonnewt, Mostali (Dwarves) and Uz  (Trolls). And it describes the Godtime, the era before Time began and its myths as well as the important gods and their relations. It also contains some more general information about Glorantha, but its main focus is the Dragon Pass region and its neighbourhood. (Insofar the title is a bit misleading.)
  • The Guide to Glorantha is a two volume, 800 pages description of the complete game world. That means the really the complete world. But because it touches every corner in Glorantha, it is not as detailed The Glorantha Sourcebook. It is often said, that it gives you a view on the world from the height of 30km. Histories of all countries, cultural descriptions, points of interests are all listed. A thorough description of the mythical era before Time is also part of theses books as well as a description of the Sky and the celestial bodies and the relations to the gods. And so much more ...

Because both books describe the game world, they can be used for

  • RuneQuest - Roleplaying in Glorantha
  • HeroQuest Glorantha
  • 13th Age Glorantha

as well as for any other game system, that you want to use with Glorantha.

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The other point I didn't see mentioned about the Guide:  it''s two oversized and thick volumes.

If they republished the Guide in a normal format, it'd be about 4 volumes of 256p each.

 

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20 hours ago, Oracle said:

The Glorantha Sourcebook describes mainly the region of Dragon Pass, and therefore it is a useful (but in no way necessary) extension of the descriptions in RuneQuest - Roleplaying in Glorantha

I often see this well-intentioned, but misleading suggestion that books like The Gloranthan Sourcebook are "useful, but not necessary" for playing RuneQuest. That's technically true, but on the narrowest grounds. The Sourcebook or something like it is definitely required if you're interested in playing RuneQuest, especially the current edition. It's not required in the sense that you need the Sourcebook in order to figure out how to roll the dice. It's that there's no point in playing RuneQuest unless you're playing it in Glorantha. Avalon Hill tried that with RuneQuest 3 in the early eighties and RuneQuest fans rebelled against it.

The Glorantha Sourcebook is a great summary of the setting and seems designed for newcomers like you. I would consider it equally important to purchase as the corebook and Bestiary. ;)

 

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4 minutes ago, EpicureanDM said:

The Glorantha Sourcebook is a great summary of the setting and seems designed for newcomers like you. I would consider it equally important to purchase as the corebook and Bestiary. ;)

Thanks! I was thinking the same after reading the above comments and the description. I purchased the slipcase and the Sourcebook yesterday and have been looking over the free PDFs they sent me and I'm glad I picked up the Sourcebook too.

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The Glorantha Sourcebook is a good choice. I came from an RQ3, Glorantha-lite background, and I've found the GSB to be a good reference and fairly pleasant read, just sitting and browsing. King of Sartar is also worth mentioning, although I personally found it of sort of middling quality. Still, a lot less overwhelming than something like the Guide.

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52 minutes ago, Euclid Prime said:

Thanks! I was thinking the same after reading the above comments and the description. I purchased the slipcase and the Sourcebook yesterday and have been looking over the free PDFs they sent me and I'm glad I picked up the Sourcebook too.

It's a good read, but it's very high-level. What it lacks is the sort of practical cultural detail that will help you create the feel of Glorantha at the table. Almost all of the information in it is lore that a PC might gather from a successful Lore skill check. But you're often looking for ground-level details when you're playing a game. Things like:

  1. What does a village look like and how does it operate? How do the players fit into that?
  2. What are the laws and customs of local folks that the players should understand since they come from that culture? For example, Orlanthi conceptions of justice are significantly different than our modern instincts. You can't fall back on D&D's familiar pseudo-medieval or proto-Renaissance ideas if you want to portray it properly. 
  3. What sorts of social and religious obligations are the PCs expected to conform to? What punishment results from disobeying or disregarding them?

The Sourcebook doesn't have that stuff. You can see that I'm pointing to the sorts of information that will be immediately important and useful as your sitting down to play. Your RuneQuest adventures aren't going to be about the history of the Gods War. They're going to be about protecting your clan's honor and you need to know how that honor system works if your game's going to work.

For that sort of information, your best single-source as a newcomer is probably Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes. Published for a game system called Heroquest (a spiritual successor to earlier editions of Runequest), you can find it the PDF for sale via DriveThruRPG. Heroquest was very rules-light compared to RuneQuest and it's easy to ignore the rules-specific bits. ;)

Edited by EpicureanDM
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1 hour ago, EpicureanDM said:

t's that there's no point in playing RuneQuest unless you're playing it in Glorantha.

That's a statement like "there is no point in driving a car unless it is a Chrysler."

True, RQG is tailormade for roleplaying in Dragon Pass and environs.

Wrong, playing RQG in any other part of Glorantha does involve as much work as does playing RQG say in well-fleshed out settings like Midkemia or on Harn. We have seen people provide the basics for that work for other parts of Glorantha that have at least a similar main pantheon. I haven't seen any convincing adaptation for a mainly Malkioni environment yet.

Yes, there are the runes that make the first syllable in the rpg's name. Nothing stopped me to use them for my own RQ3 alternate Vikings setting with a backstory that had highlights e.g. about 10,000 years and an ice age earlier, and intermittently afterwards, and there is no reason why I couldn't use RQG for that setting instead, except that I would have to graft on some of the grafts I did for RQ3 for additional magic systems.

 

But, back to the main topic. The Sourcebook does give a general overview over the shared myths of Central Genertela for the Gods War and slightly before by providing an edited rework of the "Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha" series from Wyrm's Footprints, with occasional new bits. And more than high time that that info is updated and made available outside of Wyrm's Footprints which summed up some of that.

We don't have enough RQG scenarios to replace some background for world building for GMs who want to have more than say eight sessions of RQG yet. And there is no point for a newcomer to invest this much money for just a glimpse of the world without exploring some of the possibilities besides the scenarios we get.

We don't have the GM book with the tools to create a Gloranthan campaign yet, either, nor the Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha with their RQG spells and the non-RQ-specific sections of the RQ cult write-ups (which are significant), so the aspiring newcomer to Glorantha can find no less confusing introduction to the world than this in print sourcebook or the most recent HQG material (which has some rulesy bits in it which doesn't fully make sense without buying the HQG rules, which isn't a sales argument for newcomers struggling to get the setting - the setting information is useful nonetheless, but there may be puzzling rules references that may be mistaken for world-inherent bits).

 

The Guide is your portal into other parts of Glorantha. There are a few canonical sources which provide some local detail outside of Dragon Pass and environs which isn't in the Guide, but the Guide does provide more information on any greater region of Glorantha than any other previous canonical source. The problem here is information overload alongside lack of game system relevant information. It also lets you import cool stuff and characters from those outside areas.

You still have to wing it if you take a go at those other places. That's daunting for a newcomer. It took me about three years of intensive study of the Glorantha material to brave it with RQ3, and I only went to the Holy Country which had a concise 12 page write-up even back then - more than Sartar had at the time unless you picked out hints and bits from numerous sources.

I am still daunted at the prospect of producing a scenario (or mini-campaign) set in the city of Nochet that GMs other than myself ought to be able to run, and I might be more comfortable doing the same for Lankhmar, a setting I know a lot less about in a city of similar size.

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8 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Yes, there are the runes that make the first syllable in the rpg's name.

Didn't stop them from releasing RQ2 and RQ3 (and MRQ and MRQ2) and RQ6....all without much to do in regard to "runes" specifically, either... /snark

 

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13 minutes ago, styopa said:

Didn't stop them from releasing RQ2 and RQ3 (and MRQ and MRQ2) and RQ6....all without much to do in regard to "runes" specifically, either... /snark

Not quite true for RQ2, which had all special divine magic as Runepower 1, Runepower 2 or Runepower 3 spells, aka rune spells. Cults of Prax sort of undid this, though.

Not true for MRQ1, although the execution was execrable and wisely dropped for MRQ2 and its successors.

But yes, to put runes into the game, you had to work them into the setting. Thankfully RQ3 provided a "how to design your setting" in its Gamemasters Book and the runes in the Glorantha booklet (De Luxe set book 5), which gave me all the tools to use them in my personal setting.

 

Using the runes as character traits, the rune augments as the lowest level of magic in RQG, the personal rune ratings as success percentage for divine rune magics and the sorcerous mastery of runes as prerequisite for sorcery does give RQG plenty of rune, though, and more so than any previous incarnation. But this reduced set of core runes used in RQG just describes archetypes usable for any other setting designed around such archetypes.

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1 hour ago, Crel said:

The Glorantha Sourcebook is a good choice. I came from an RQ3, Glorantha-lite background, and I've found the GSB to be a good reference and fairly pleasant read, just sitting and browsing. King of Sartar is also worth mentioning, although I personally found it of sort of middling quality. Still, a lot less overwhelming than something like the Guide.

1 hour ago, EpicureanDM said:

It's a good read, but it's very high-level. What it lacks is the sort of practical cultural detail that will help you create the feel of Glorantha at the table. Almost all of the information in it is lore that a PC might gather from a successful Lore skill check. But you're often looking for ground-level details when you're playing a game. Things like:

  1. What does a village look like and how does it operate? How do the players fit into that?
  2. What are the laws and customs of local folks that the players should understand since they come from that culture? For example, Orlanthi conceptions of justice are significantly different than our modern instincts. You can't fall back on D&D's familiar pseudo-medieval or proto-Renaissance ideas if you want to portray it properly. 
  3. What sorts of social and religious obligations are the PCs expected to conform to? What punishment results from disobeying or disregarding them?

Agreed but thankfully there is a cheap alternative As pretty as the GS is I would have to say I got more out of an out of  print PDF from the Hero War days—Thunder Rebels available for 6.62 cdn from the Gloranthan Vault (damn you demonic spel chekr, leave me Gloranthan alone!). Combine that with Sartar Kingdom of Hero PDF for 26.45 cdn and while no longer economical and in the case of Thunder Rebels no longer canonical definitely necessary for providing the feel of a Dragon Pass Orlanthi based RQ G game. For a few dollars more (6.63 cdn), add in Dragon Pass A Gazetteer of Keronfina . At least, I think so. Get the viking feel out of your mind when using Thunder Rebels  and replace it with a Thracian vibe.

That said I am very happy having the GS combined with the  GtG and the AAA as background (not very economical at all, but I suppose at a very long absence I can give a boutique company a bit of hand up) and I feel ready.

Cheers

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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43 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

 

Agreed but thankfully there is a cheap alternative As pretty as the GS is I would have to say I got more out of an out of  print PDF from the Hero War days—Thunder Rebels available for 6.62 cdn from the Gloranthan Vault (damn you demonic spel chekr, leave me Gloranthan alone!). Combine that with Sartar Kingdom of Hero PDF for 26.45 cdn and while no longer economical and in the case of Thunder Rebels no longer canonical definitely necessary for providing the feel of a Dragon Pass Orlanthi based RQ G game. For a few dollars more (6.63 cdn), add in Dragon Pass A Gazetteer of Keronfina . At least, I think so. Get the viking feel out of your mind when using Thunder Rebels  and replace it with a Thracian vibe.

That said I am very happy having the GS combined with the  GtG and the AAA as background (not very economical at all, but I suppose at a very long absence I can give a boutique company a bit of hand up) and I feel ready.

Cheers

That being said, I should warn folk that Thunder Rebels is not canonical nor entirely compatible with HQG, let alone RQG. There is a reason we have hidden it away in the Vault. Its presentation of the cults of both Orlanth and Ernalda are deeply flawed. Then again YGWV, so if it helps you, it helps you.

Personally I think the best things to buy for an would-be RQG GM are:

  • The RQ Slipcase set
  • RQ Quickstart
  • The Glorantha Sourcebook
  • Snakepipe Hollow from the RQ Classics
  • King of Sartar

If I wanted to explore beyond Dragon Pass, I'd seriously consider the Guide. And I would be thrilled with the RQ Campaign Book, the Gods and Goddesses Book, the Smoking Ruins, and more. But they aren't available yet. 

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8 minutes ago, Jeff said:

That being said, I should warn folk that Thunder Rebels is not canonical nor entirely compatible with HQG, let alone RQG. There is a reason we have hidden it away in the Vault. Its presentation of the cults of both Orlanth and Ernalda are deeply flawed. Then again YGWV, so if it helps you, it helps you.

You got me on cults, I tend to set phasers on ignore when it comes to cults that are non-canoical. There has been more that enough material of absolutely every stripe to have to rely on questionable sources. Besides the HW cults scared me :) But my Glorantha absolutely has to have the Orlanthi Cloud types in TR as added seasoning to the weather tables of RG G. As to date the sidebars (page length but I believe I can call them sidebars) on clan and stead are the best I have seen. And the household goddesses and households wow

How Do We Live?
We live at Mahome’s Fire. If a stranger wishes to understand us, they have but to spend a season at one of our hearths. A household hearth is never empty, never silent, never still. All of life passes before Mahome’s sacred fire. Old men and women drowse for days before the coals, covered in children or cats, guarded patiently by the clay goddesses and ancestral idols that sanctify the hearth. The hearth- mistress oversees her sons’ wives as they attend to the day’s baking, teaching them songs of lust and healing, sharing the wisdom of her years...
Thunder Reblels page 11

Did not get hearth life until I read this.

32 minutes ago, Jeff said:

If I wanted to explore beyond Dragon Pass, I'd seriously consider the Guide. And I would be thrilled with the RQ Campaign Book, the Gods and Goddesses Book, the Smoking Ruins, and more. But they aren't available yet. 

Oh, for a TARDIS!

Chees

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:
  • The Glorantha Sourcebook
  • Snakepipe Hollow from the RQ Classics
  • King of Sartar

I'm curious about what you think is valuable for new RQG GMs and, presumably, new RQG players in these books. Imagine a group with no prior RQ experience said to you, "We're going to start a game set in Sartar next week. What parts of these books do you think we'll be using in our first session?" What sections would you point to? Those are good introductory texts for a future Glorantha historian, but less directly helpful for newcomers actually playing their first few games of RuneQuest.

Imagine they're going to use the adventure in the Quickstart, which is presumably a place you intend for newcomers to start. What material from those books would enrich the experience of playing that adventure? 

@Euclid Prime, here's a tip. Sourcebooks can contain two sorts of information: Encyclopedic and Practical. Encyclopedic Information usually occupies most of the space. It's the mythology, history, geography, and culture in a setting. It's undeniably fun to read, especially in a world as rich as Glorantha. The Practical Information is often more sparse, usually less sexy, but most useful if you're actually going to be playing RuneQuest at a table with other human beings, which I assume you'd like to do some day.

Look at this list of setting questions published by Jeff Rients long ago Somewhere On The Internet:

Quote
  1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
  2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
  3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
  4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
  5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
  6. Who is the richest person in the land?
  7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
  8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
  9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
  10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
  11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
  12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
  13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
  14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
  15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
  16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
  17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
  18. What is there to eat around here?
  19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
  20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

It's written for AD&D or OSR games, so some of the terms ("Type H treasure" or "MU" for "magic-user") might not make sense. But notice how these questions are meant to help you prep for an actual session of a role-playing game rather than a theoretical discussion of the setting's minutiae on the Internet. If you answer these questions, the setting will feel alive for your players during play. You'll be adding ground-level texture and detail to their actions, building a rich world using information that's relevant to them as "1st-level" characters, not the "20th-level" demigods that you'll read about in Glorantha's mythology and history. This is the sort of information you should be trying to find if you're going to be playing RuneQuest.

There's no RuneQuest/Glorantha sourcebook that answers these questions directly. It would be weird if there were. But there are sourcebooks containing more of this type of information than others. You need the equivalent Practicial Information for Sartar if you want to run a satisfying game from the start. One of the sources Jeff provided, King of Sartar, provides a little bit of this type of information. The others (Snake Pipe Hollow and The Glorantha Sourcebook) largely don't. However, you should note that the book I recommended, Heroquest's Sartar: Kingdom of Heroesreprints the small, useful section of King of Sartar! It also contains more Practical Information that's written in a way that's easily digestible for newcomers than any other book about Sartar. 

If you're looking for the sort of information that the list I provided is aiming towards, Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes is the best single-source for that sort of thing. Gloranthan authors and fans often praise sourcebooks based on how unreliable or vague they are, since they feel that it matches the contradictory, syncretic spirit of mythology in general. I appreciate that perspective and I'm sympathetic to it when I'm interested in being more of a Gloranthan scholar than a person trying to GM a game for other human beings. So if you're new to RuneQuest and Glorantha and you want a fighting chance for your actual game to be fun, stick to Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes. It's designed for play, not study.

EDIT: BONUS FACT: Jeff Richard, the guy whose recommendations I just shot down, is the co-writer of Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes! So don't think that I'm being mean to Jeff. I'm praising his other book as the best one for newbies. ;)

Edited by EpicureanDM
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18 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Personally I think the best things to buy for an would-be RQG GM are:

  • The RQ Slipcase set
  • RQ Quickstart
  • The Glorantha Sourcebook
  • Snakepipe Hollow from the RQ Classics
  • King of Sartar

If I wanted to explore beyond Dragon Pass, I'd seriously consider the Guide. And I would be thrilled with the RQ Campaign Book, the Gods and Goddesses Book, the Smoking Ruins, and more. But they aren't available yet. 

I just went over The River of Cradles to find some ties to notes I made for a character (a shaman, of course 😜 b. 1592) I played in a campaign with Magister Ludi back in '98. Reading the timeline it hit me: my character was part and parcel of history. And that history is still ongoing; so much so, that it begs the interesting question of how that character fares in the year 1627. Enter Conversion Guide rules.

Maybe that's the secret to the fascinating attraction of the World of Glorantha: it's a living world, because it continues to live on in the joint imagination of all of us. That's the very definition of Myth, by the way...

Back to OT: What's out there so far for the 4th edition of RQ (and the world of Glorantha) is a good headstart on the background. Of course, more is always welcome. ;) 

As a GM new to the material I'd focus on the status quo, i.e., ordinary people dealing with their everyday problems: like, where their next meal comes from, or how their neighbouring clan comes raiding cattle again; who suddenly must face -- and eventually overcome -- challenges that are out of the ordinary. That's how heroes arise. No need to know (as a player OR GM) what King of Sartar currently holds sway (if any), or what happened in the year 1616 elsewhere; that background (which may serve either as a precaution or mould of possible behavior) is always there to be gleaned, as the protagonists go along making up their own story and either grow (or devolve) because of it. The important thing to remember is that they eventually may/must sense they live and act in a context bigger than themselves, and have the choice to act accordingly (or not). A heroes journey is never easy, that's why it makes for interesting stories. 

 

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

Personally I think the best things to buy for an would-be RQG GM are:

  • ...
  • Snakepipe Hollow from the RQ Classics

Good list - my only question is ....Snakepipe Hollow?  Considering they're starting a campaign (even with RQG's ramped up character starting) that's a little deep-end-of-the-pool difficulty wise, no?  Or...it's going to be ages of campaign play before they get to the point where they're headed in there (or should be)..?

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2 hours ago, Jeff said:

...

And I would be thrilled with the RQ Campaign Book, the Gods and Goddesses Book, the Smoking Ruins, and more. But they aren't available yet. 

But there's always hope ... 😍😎

Edited by Oracle

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2 hours ago, Jeff said:

Personally I think the best things to buy for an would-be RQG GM are:

  • The RQ Slipcase set
  • RQ Quickstart
  • The Glorantha Sourcebook
  • Snakepipe Hollow from the RQ Classics
  • King of Sartar

Personally I would swap King of Sartar for The Collected Griselda. I would not recommend going near King of Sartar for a good while yet. Prince of Sartar, that's another thing entirely. That should be at the top of the list, although you can't buy it, it's free (but not yet finished).

Edited by PhilHibbs

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4 hours ago, Jeff said:

 

Personally I think the best things to buy for an would-be RQG GM are:

  • The RQ Slipcase set
  • RQ Quickstart
  • The Glorantha Sourcebook
  • Snakepipe Hollow from the RQ Classics
  • King of Sartar

If I wanted to explore beyond Dragon Pass, I'd seriously consider the Guide. And I would be thrilled with the RQ Campaign Book, the Gods and Goddesses Book, the Smoking Ruins, and more. But they aren't available yet. 

I keep hearing rumors of on-again / off-again plans for a "Glorantha Quickstart" (48-64pp est).

Also a boxed "Starter Kit" like the recent (and highly acclaimed) CoC7 one... Which might be where that "Glorantha Quickstart" first sees the light of Yelm (or the darkness of inside the box).

I would honestly put such products atop my own list, immediately below the RQG slipcase set, co-equal with the GM's Sourcebook.

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3 hours ago, EpicureanDM said:

"We're going to start a game set in Sartar next week. What parts of these books do you think we'll be using in our first session?" What sections would you point to? Those are good introductory texts for a future Glorantha historian, but less directly helpful for newcomers actually playing their first few games of RuneQuest.

The Quickstart works well as a basic intro without a huge amount of culture to have to absorb.

The Gamemaster Adventures Book provides a good intro to the basic setting with clans, Clearwine, and Apple Lane. A few more scenarios to get a basic feel for the surroundings.

King of Sartar (or Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes as you noted) have good overviews of Orlanthi society to get into everyday life.

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This is the first time I've heard about material being released set around the Smoking Ruins. That's intriguing...

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