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Marty Jopson

Help me sell RQG to my players

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Mike was guitarist/ keyboard/ vocalist on Frank Zappa’s 1988 tour. 

He’s currently doing the same roles (and is bandleader) for the Bizarre World of Frank Zappa featuring holograms etc.

 

He’s a remarkable songwriter & musician.

 

Andrew

 

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3 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Cows with guns... 

The Cannon Cult has human slaves and blind cave oxen. Do they have a similar deal as the Morokanth?

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On 5/13/2019 at 3:45 AM, Marty Jopson said:

I considered a one shot first as you suggested but we meet so infrequently that people decided they wouldn't rather get into a game properly. I'm inclined to agree that character creation looks like it will generate an appreciation of the setting.  I will give King of Dragon Pass a try and can then lure my teenage kids (two of the players) with that. I can just see it now "Dad says we have to play this game on our iPads".

For my first-time RQG players who came from D&D, character creation didn't create much appreciation of the setting. It's seen that way largely by RQ or Glorantha veterans since they know that stuff anyway. They can appreciate how much information is packed into it. For my newcomers, it was a laundry list of names, places, and events that still required me (the relative Glorantha expert) to flesh out at the table. Unless they read the Glorantha Sourcebook themselves, you'll still be stuck with talking them through it at the table. The tables just give them some prompts to get you to ramble on for a bit. :)

You want to send them to the Prince of Sartar webcomic: http://www.princeofsartar.com . That's an easy pill to swallow for the epic mythology of the world. To actually play the game, however, your players need to know what Sartarite culture is like. I'm not talking about steads or hides of land or the stuff in the "Between Adventures" chapter of RQG. That's a relatively small part of RQG. Your players need to know how to roleplay a Sartarite. What do Sartarites believe in? What do they condemn? How does the law work and what does my village's social hierarchy look like? 

Buy Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes. There's a 12-page section called "Report on the Orlanthi." Excerpt it from the PDF and give that to your players. It provides a good, succinct summary of Orlanthi culture that your players can use in the very first session. Prince of Sartar's fun to read, but that sort of stuff is mythology and your starting PCs are miles and miles away from doing anything like that. But I guarantee that your starting PCs will be enmeshed in Sartarite/Orlanthi culture in the very first session. The Report will give them the tools to create PCs that feel like they were born and raised in Sartar. That's sort of what you want, right? 

Edited by EpicureanDM
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I miss the mention of the excellent RQ3 products "What My Father Told Me" and "What The Priest Says" in this discussion. There ought to be a copy of the collection on the web that was assembled in the HQ1 era.

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On 5/13/2019 at 1:07 AM, Jeff said:

One great moment in a recent run of Cattle Raid - having the player who only knew DD5e realise that his character might get killed when he was in the middle of a cattle stampede. He was both horrified and filled with excitement - "I might be killed by a cow! This is so awesome!"

My very first session was run before the Adventure book and GM screenkit were out so I had to come up with everything myself but I used my knowledge from the King of Dragon Pass games and thought a cattle raid sounded fun, but the players were the raiders!

The group for whatever reason thought moving in on the cattle at midnight was the best plan with almost no moonlight, even after I mentioned the serious penalties involved. They greatly outnumbered the defenders but hoping to avoid a fight one player crawled up close to be an immediate armed threat to dissuade the sleeping watchers from acting while the group herded the cattle away. Well things went as they usually do when players get involved and half of the herd was sent running in separate directions while the other half was being lead away by the players. Some of the players decided to help push the cattle along a certain path by standing up tall and banging on their shields which worked. The Lhankhor Mhy Initiate on the other hand decided to jump in front of the cattle and scare them back towards the path....at night...in near total darkness. They failed their dodge check and disappeared on their herd's many hooves with the player's asking, "Did they die?" to which I simply responded "You don't know".

The group gained a healthy respect for how lethal the system can be and the Lhankhor Mhy player almost gained a Fear of Cows.

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On 5/13/2019 at 3:53 AM, Crel said:

Careful what you wish for--in my game, I had a player panic some sheep and stampede them into their enemies.

Fear the grass-chewers! Gnash thy teeth and despair!

You know sheep don't really stampede like cattle, yes?  They're just not big enough, they don't mass tightly when running (they scatter much faster), and (IMO) they're more sure-footed than cattle, so the danger (not to mention the pain) of getting stomped by a 160lb sheep is just so much less than a 1600lb cow.

The danger of a 'sheep stampede' is that you get knocked down and then when you're down, you're someone that a ram may feel he can take on.  So a "sheep stampede" is basically just a knockdown and then if you're unlucky you'll be fighting an angry ram while you're prone.

EDIT: *exactly* like this. LOL

 

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3 hours ago, EpicureanDM said:

For my newcomers, it was a laundry list of names, places, and events that still required me (the relative Glorantha expert) to flesh out at the table. Unless they read the Glorantha Sourcebook themselves, you'll still be stuck with talking them through it at the table. The tables just give them some prompts to get you to ramble on for a bit. :)

It's interesting because, for me (a newcomer to Glorantha), the Glorantha Sourcebook's first chapter also reads a bit like a laundry list of names and events, and I often have to go back and forth a few pages to cross-reference something, or grab some other book to understand where a place is or who some God or personality is (the Dragon Pass maps in GS and RQG are valid for a majority of places but not nearly enough for many other things mentioned in GS, especially when alternate or old names are used for something). The timelines in GtG or even RQ2 are also useful to keep sane when reading GS, in my experience (I wish they added some timelines in GS).

That said, I don't plan to just give the character history creation rules to my players and let them figure it out -- I think those rules are indeed meant to be a starting point for the GM to talk about what happened in the last generation or so around your character's homeland, as a way to introduce the setting to the players. As such, I think I will print a couple maps, along with a simplified timeline, and go over it step by step at the table: mention what's going on at a given date, let them roll to see if that affects their family, then move on to the next map and section of the timeline, roll again, etc. We'll see how that goes (I'll gladly read about how other people handled the first game, though).

Edited by lordabdul
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1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

As such, I think I will print a couple maps, along with a simplified timeline, and go over it step by step at the table: mention what's going on at a given date, let them roll to see if that affects their family, then move on to the next map and section of the timeline, roll again, etc. We'll see how that goes (I'll gladly read about how other people handled the first game, though).

I gently suggest that while this might have some value as a way of getting your Glorantha knowledge into their heads, it's not going to be very useful when you're actually playing the game. Which sort of information do you think is likely to create interesting moments at the table:

1) The players' knowledge that a Giant's Cradle floated down the Zola Fel and that the Great Winter happened several years ago, but it's over now.

2) The players' knowledge that their clan chieftain has just refused hospitality to a visiting thane from the neighboring clan who seeks assistance against a threat to their lands. The clan chieftain has asked them to back her up on this decision, but the players know that to refuse hospitality to a guest is a massive breach of protocol and etiquette. How should they respond?

If your answer is #2, then ignore your temptation to give the history lesson regardless of how you dress it up. Buy Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes and give your players the Report on the Orlanthi. ;)

 

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The names and places during character generation can be just that, just names the character has heard, only the ones pertaining to the character need to be elaberated on.  Playing the game and taking your destiny is where you will know.

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I hear what you say @EpicureanDM and @lordabdul about the laundry list of names and places. I think one of the issues I have, and suspect it would be an issue for any new-comer to the game is the tendency of Gloranthan material to be written in character. Consequently the text makes the assumption that the reader is also in character and thus has a pile of background knowledge on the setting - hence the laundry list. It's great for Glorantha-philes who can then see all the subtle nuances being brought out. It is also a good way to highlight the way there is no absolute morality in Glorantha and "alignment" is relative. But for a newb it is confusing. To be honest, I find it a bit bamboozling despite playing the game in RQ1, 2 and 3 iterations - I was never into reading up on the background at the time. I think this is a real problem for RuneQuest and its potential in the future. Was a beginners set / box / book being planned? I hope so and I hope that the powers that be( @Ellie, @Jason Durall, @Jeff ) make sure to do blind testing on complete Glorantha newbies - i.e. hand them the game and see how they cope with no other input.

Thanks all for the recommendations. I will pick up Kingdom of Heroes and the Voices pdf. I will let you know how I get on...

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Pavis is easier to introduce, a desert town with adventurers, nomads, newtlings and romans, er, lunars. And a convenient megadungeon next door.

For Sartar, I would choose to start somewhere reasonably close to a city, Whitewall maybe. Hill country with green, lush, blessed fields with sheep and cattle, dark woods, lively rivers, enormous mountains and troubled skies. In the hills and mountains there are many temples, shrines and monasteries of Orlanth, the storm king of the gods who have given you these lands, and his companions. At night, overhead beyond the clouds, you can see the fantastic, slowly swirling star-filled sky wherein hangs the terrible red lamp that is the enemy moon. In the city, there are temples to strange visitor gods and you can meet animal-men of various sorts, plant-men, dwarves, traders and occasional oddballs like sorcerers and demon-horse riders (once you saw a duck carrying a spear and helmet and smoking a cigar!). In the wilderness, there are hungry trolls, giants, outlaws, werewolves, enormous animals, the unburied walking dead, weird creatures, and, rare but worst of all: unearthly chaos abominations. There has been fighting with the Lunar Empire from the north for several years now. Once, the men of the village marched off in the spring and fought all summer somewhere far away. And ... here we go!

 

Edited by The God Learner
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5 hours ago, Marty Jopson said:

I hear what you say @EpicureanDM and @lordabdul about the laundry list of names and places. I think one of the issues I have, and suspect it would be an issue for any new-comer to the game is the tendency of Gloranthan material to be written in character. Consequently the text makes the assumption that the reader is also in character and thus has a pile of background knowledge on the setting - hence the laundry list. It's great for Glorantha-philes who can then see all the subtle nuances being brought out. It is also a good way to highlight the way there is no absolute morality in Glorantha and "alignment" is relative. But for a newb it is confusing. To be honest, I find it a bit bamboozling despite playing the game in RQ1, 2 and 3 iterations - I was never into reading up on the background at the time. I think this is a real problem for RuneQuest and its potential in the future. Was a beginners set / box / book being planned? I hope so and I hope that the powers that be( @Ellie, @Jason Durall, @Jeff ) make sure to do blind testing on complete Glorantha newbies - i.e. hand them the game and see how they cope with no other input.

Thanks all for the recommendations. I will pick up Kingdom of Heroes and the Voices pdf. I will let you know how I get on...

You've managed to say exactly the sort of thing I've been thinking as I read through the Source Book. And, like you, I started on RQ back at first edition (without reading the backgrounds etc... I usually played the weird stuff that the others didn't)

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16 hours ago, EpicureanDM said:

If your answer is #2, then ignore your temptation to give the history lesson regardless of how you dress it up. Buy Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes and give your players the Report on the Orlanthi.

Thanks for the recommendation :)   Frankly, my answer is "all of the above": I think it's important to both know where your character's Passions and clan come from, and know what the present situation is. But you're right that the history lesson should probably be kept light (not more than a minute at each step of the character's history... just the bare essentials), and that the focus should be more about the characters' present clan. On that front I'm not sure yet if I'm going with a "create your own clan" campaign with S:KoH, or if I'm going with the 11L campaign where they're part of the Red Cow clan... I still have a lot of reading to do!

5 hours ago, Marty Jopson said:

I think one of the issues I have, and suspect it would be an issue for any new-comer to the game is the tendency of Gloranthan material to be written in character.

Yes, some chapters of the GS really read like something someone would tell you around the campfire at night, only you can't interrupt them with "but grandpa, who were those Dara Happans you mentioned?" -- instead you have to just go with the flow.

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Since it has been mentioned in-thread:  YES, Chaosium has said they intend to produce a "starter set" for RQ.

There isn't AFAIK a huge amount of further detail available, nor any ETA (too far out, ETA would be too speculative).

But I think their top-notch CoC7 Starter Set gives us a fair bit of hope, and at least some hints about what the RQG-SS might be like...

 

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2 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Yes, some chapters of the GS really read like something someone would tell you around the campfire at night, only you can't interrupt them with "but grandpa, who were those Dara Happans you mentioned?" -- instead you have to just go with the flow.

Dara Happans! The whole difference between Lunars and Dara Happans and the mixed culture of the Lunar Empire in general still gives me a headache. ;)

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41 minutes ago, EpicureanDM said:

Dara Happans! The whole difference between Lunars and Dara Happans and the mixed culture of the Lunar Empire in general still gives me a headache. ;)

Lunars v. Dara Happans is IMO pretty easy; a few other bits of Lunar multiculturalism likewise.  But many parts are confusing to me, too.

Dara Happa - ancient Solar empire, patriarchal.  Often tends rigid/reactionary.

Lunars - new empire, lightly / flexibly matriarchal.  DH probably feels a bit... emasculated (at least some of them).

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10 hours ago, Marty Jopson said:

I hear what you say @EpicureanDM and @lordabdul about the laundry list of names and places. I think one of the issues I have, and suspect it would be an issue for any new-comer to the game is the tendency of Gloranthan material to be written in character. Consequently the text makes the assumption that the reader is also in character and thus has a pile of background knowledge on the setting - hence the laundry list. It's great for Glorantha-philes who can then see all the subtle nuances being brought out. It is also a good way to highlight the way there is no absolute morality in Glorantha and "alignment" is relative. But for a newb it is confusing. To be honest, I find it a bit bamboozling despite playing the game in RQ1, 2 and 3 iterations - I was never into reading up on the background at the time. I think this is a real problem for RuneQuest and its potential in the future. Was a beginners set / box / book being planned? I hope so and I hope that the powers that be( @Ellie, @Jason Durall, @Jeff ) make sure to do blind testing on complete Glorantha newbies - i.e. hand them the game and see how they cope with no other input.

Thanks all for the recommendations. I will pick up Kingdom of Heroes and the Voices pdf. I will let you know how I get on...

Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes and Voices are excellent intros. Voices is one of my earliest memories of being introduced to Glorantha and understanding the importance of a character’s religious cult.

Building on those two sources, the character creation chapter of The Coming Storm is an excellent intro to a Sartarite campaign for players. It’s for HeroQuest, but mostly system agnostic information that is easily applied to a RQ campaign. The Coming Storm can give you a richly detailed Sartarite clan to use as the foundation of a campaign, although the book is set in 1618.

King of Dragon Pass is also an excellent introduction to Orlanthi culture in Dragon Pass. If you can get your players to play a few hours of that, they’ll have a focused and richly detailed intro to the Orlanthi and the weirdness of Glorantha.

I find the Glorantha Sourcebook (and the GtG) to be a very poor introduction to Glorantha for someone that hasn’t already committed to taking the plunge.

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2 hours ago, g33k said:

Lunars v. Dara Happans is IMO pretty easy; a few other bits of Lunar multiculturalism likewise.  But many parts are confusing to me, too.

Dara Happa - ancient Solar empire, patriarchal.  Often tends rigid/reactionary.

Lunars - new empire, lightly / flexibly matriarchal.  DH probably feels a bit... emasculated (at least some of them).

That part I get, but are the ranks of Lunars comprised of people who are culturally Dara Happans who converted to the Lunar faith? Do they dress and eat and talk to each other like Dara Happans, but with a different religion? If the Lunars were an outsider culture and people who invaded Peloria (Are Dara Happans from Peloria?! Why aren't they called "Pelorians"?) and are living among Dara Happans as conquerers, I could more easily see how to play each of them. It would be like Mongols ruling over the Chinese: two distinct cultures thrown together (Side note to the inevitable formal or semi-formal historians who are more likely to be found in this forum than others: that's meant to be the loosest, simplest, most casual analogy drawn from an extremely limited knowledge of the actual history. Don't nitpick it). 

I manage my confusion by largely avoiding them in my game. ;)

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On 5/13/2019 at 9:07 AM, Jeff said:

One great moment in a recent run of Cattle Raid - having the player who only knew DD5e realise that his character might get killed when he was in the middle of a cattle stampede. He was both horrified and filled with excitement - "I might be killed by a cow! This is so awesome!"

 

madcow.jpg

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I've been lucky in that my slipcase set arrived whilst my group were playing, and they were suitably impressed by its prettiness and not put off by its heft. They let me wave maps and pictures at them and witter on raptly about it all before drawing me back to our ongoing game. Their interest is piqued and they're up for giving it a try. Glorantha just clicked for one, and he's hoovering up Glorantha knowledge, has badgered me into helping him roll a character and has even started sculpting himself a mini! And I have one wanting to be a duck. There's always one, and that's fine by me as it I used to be that one.

I have been giving some thought to how to introduce it to them, and as they all prefer to roll characters rather than use pre-gens, a session zero will be necessary. They have been warned that there won't be time to play, just create the characters. This has some pros, in that there's time for discussion of the milieu and they can take a little bit of homework away with them before the first session of actual play. The con, as I'm sure all GMs know, will be getting players to do their homework, as well as not actually getting to start play.

So , my session zero thoughts are to get them into adventurer creation quickly and let the details come out naturally as we go. Thanks, Marty, for this thread as it is giving me an excuse to get my plan out of my head, and it goes sort of like this

  1. Intro to Glorantha. Show them pictures of the world ("Yes, it's a flat Earth on a cube.") , explain the gods are real, it's a world of living myth, with its own funky calendar, then show the continents and zoom in to Dragon Pass/Prax.
  2. Brief bit of history and that they are in the Hero Wars now, with an update on recent events like Starbrow's Rebellion and the Dragon Rise. 
    These two steps are meant to be 5 mins, a lecture this is not, just context for the relationship between the Lunar invaders and other peoples.
  3. Give them a summary of the steps they're about to go through – hopefully this will give them an idea of the whole picture they're working towards.
  4. I've made a political map of the homelands (basically just colour overlays on the PDF map) so they have a geographical context, and will describe each briefly in historical terms that they understand: e.g., Prax, think native American tribes; Grazelanders, think horse archers, hun/mongols. They can then choose a homeland, after some questions no doubt.
  5. Family history is an opportunity to explain tribe and clan structures. I intend to keep the rolls only to the stuff relevant for their homeland. No fleshing out of anything at this point. I don't want them to get bogged down thinking they need names for all their siblings, or even their parents and clan – this can be homework.
  6. The aim is then to likewise work through each aspect of adventurer creation, with contextual explanation as necessary. For example, I expect some talk of gods and cults will come about during choice of rune affiliations.
  7. Once we're done, their homework will be to read a bit more on their homeland and its people's traits, flesh out their background story and tidily fill out a character sheet. Hopefully this will reinforce what they've learnt while rolling their character, and give them some attachment to who they will be in game.

I've made some scratch sheets for capturing the character details with much more room than those provided. I've also made A5 cards up with all the homeland details (skills, occupations, gods and cetera) on them as they are all over the place in the book. This will give them a better idea of what their choices will be in each coming step, as well as save my book getting destroyed with lots of flicking back and forth. On the back is much of the homeland description, which they can take away for homework. I've done a similar thing for occupations and it'd help if I did a set for cults too. I'm not expecting them to come to the first play session with a fully detailed background; that can build as and when seems fit as the campaign progresses. 

Phew, it almost feels like the adventurer creation system needs a support system all its own. The intention is to give them enough understanding of Dragon Pass to see their place in it, and to ease the whole process so they don't suffer info overload. Thankfully, they're used to Call of Cthulhu so have an understanding of the system principals.

 

Now, I'd like some advice on what I mentioned in point 4 above, how to briefly compare each homeland to a real historical people. I get that there's no direct mapping, the idea is to give them a vague hook to hang their character from. For me, this is what each homeland brings to mind, and each is very much suffixed with …ish (for non English speakers, read that as 'vaguely like this'.) 

  • Sartar – celts, maybe vikings, though they seem to have a distinctly Minoan cast these days.
  • Lunar Tarsh – think Roman Empire, Persians who fought the greek
  • Grazelanders – horse archers, hun, mongols
  • Esrolians – arty and elegant, corinthian, carthaginian
  • Tarsh – hill and forest tribes who hunt, goths, maybe saxons
  • Prax – plains native Americans

That was actually rather difficult, and unsatisfactory, so I'd be interested to hear what others think might be suitable one line comparators to give those who have no idea a feel for the cultures.

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