27 October 2021

What is New with RuneQuest? (THE KRAKEN 2021)

OK, so unexpected shit happened and, as a result, I was unable to travel to THE KRAKEN this year. But as they say: ‘if you can’t travel to THE KRAKEN, THE KRAKEN will travel to you’, which it did electronically by posting a video of Jason and Neil’s What is New with RuneQuest? panel at THE KRAKEN.

Here it is for your enjoyment.

For people of the tl;dr persuasion, or who have trouble listening to people speaking English, I have written a small summary below.

As everyone is aware of now, the RuneQuest Starter Set is coming next. It is an epic, ridiculously heavy labour of love, and it’s been the core aim of the RQ team for two years.
Unless most starter sets, this starter set is designed to be useful AFTER it’s been used as a ‘starter set’:
 - the Sartarite city of Jonstown is fully detailed
 - the scenarios can be used as non-starter scenarios in a GM’s campaign

(my 2 cents: except for the character generation part, which is missing as the Starter Set only contains pre-generated characters, it can be safely used as your reference RQ rules set— the rules are sometimes even better explained and presented than in the core book!)

These products are supposed to follow:
 - the Weapons & Equipment Guide
 - the Sartar boxed set (the first in a series of locale sets)
 - the Cults book, which is actually going to be two very large books plus a slimmer prosopædia, book, all of them with mind-boggling art.

Further down:
 - maybe some small PDF-only publications (stand-alone adventures, using the elder races as PCs, this kind of stuff)
 - Big Rubble and Pavis by Robin Laws is being edited right now
 - a collection of adventures by Jason
 - a book about key Gloranthan locations by Jonathan Tweet

Even further down:
 - the GM book is ongoing — it’s been slowed down by the battle system
 - Spell decks are also in the works (personal note: do we really need these??)

On the digital side, there will be an official RQ wiki with:
 - an overview of the world of Glorantha
 - the very basic rules + a chargen module

Q&A session

Q: Any news about the heroquesting book?
A: It will probably end up as a boxed set because of all the cool ‘props’ that can be used on top of the character sheets.

Q: What is the status of the new Dragon Pass boardgame?
A: We’re going back to the original design and making it more modern (rather than the reboot that had been demoed at an earlier convention)

Q: Is there a RQ video game in the works?
A: Black Shamrock, a video game development studio, is working on one.


07 July 2021

Random Clan Terrain Generator

In 2015 I wrote a blog entry to randomly generate an Imperial Chinese Prefecture for TTRPGs set in Imperial China. I was quite satisfied with my article (itself based on a post on Éric Nieudan's now-defunct web-site), but it has only very recently occurred to me that I could easily adapt it to Sartar to make a Random Clan Terrain Generator!

What you need:
 - A standard 52-card deck with French suits (); remove the jokers and the 2's.
 - Dice.

1. Draw cards to make a 7×7 grid; leave centre of grid empty. The rectangle represents the tula, and the dark grey centre is the main settlement, the clan's capital:


2. Terrain the remaining 48 areas according to card suit; face cards mean there is a steading. See tables below:

 Terrain 
  plains 
  woods or swamp 
 ♥ hills 
 ♠ mountains 

 Steadings 
 Jack: hamlet or stead 
 Queen: temple, shrine, other holy place 
 King: manor or mansion 
 Ace: small town or village 

Choose or draw another card for sub-types, e.g.:

 Second Card Drawn   Settlement Sub-Type   Temple Sub-Type   Manor Sub-Type 
 ♦  Sartarite   Orlanthi  Retired Rune Lord/Priest 
 ♣  Sartarite   Ernaldan  Guildhouse
 ♥  Sartarite   other Sartarite   Local Thane 
 ♠  non-Sartarite (e.g., Sun Domers, Lunar colonists)   pre-Sartarite   Wealthy Landowner 

 Third Card Drawn   other Sartarite Sub-Type   pre-Sartarite Sub-Type 
 ♦  Humakt  True/Dream Dragon 
 ♣  Issaries  Major Spirit
 ♥  Lhankor Mhy  Mysterious otherworldly being
 ♠  other  other

3. Encounters and events. Now, whenever the player characters are travelling throughout the clan territory, random encounters may happen! For each card, roll d20 and compare to card value (Jack = 11, Queen = 12,  King = 13, Ace = 14). If the die roll is = card value, look at the encounter on the table below.

Variant: Use a d10 in the light grey area.

 Die   Civilised Encounters
Die roll < card value 
 Events
Die roll = card value 
 1   Farmers travelling foraging poaching fleeing 
 2   Fishermen working mending nets famished building a dam 
 3   Merchants caravan lost being robbed loaded with silver  Ambush or trap 
 4   Initiates preaching looking for help begging on a pilgrimage   Impromptu market 
 5   Warriors professional rural militia urban militia press-gang   Freak weather 
 6   Orlanthi from Another Clan mercenaries traders transients pilgrims   Blocked roads 
 7   Orlanthi from Another Tribe warband migrating raiding hiding  Fire 
 8   Non-human Tusk Riders Elves Beast Men Trolls  Flood 
 9   Adventurers bruised & beaten hostile friendly richly equipped   Battle 
 10   Lunars tax collectors ♣missionaries colonists soldiers   Ghosts 
 11   Bandits river raiders on the run hiding carrying plunder   Country fair 
 12   Thieves street thugs running from the law spies burglars   Bandit Lair 
 13   Sun Domers merchants ambassadors prisoners pilgrims   Siege 
 14   Plague 

Feedback and suggestions welcome.

03 July 2021

The Barbapapa

This stems from a humorous thread on Facebook. You don't wanna know.

BARBAPAPA
Zuccarum Netum
The Barbapapa are large, natural shapeshifters living in the wilderness of Genertela. In their native form, Barbapapa are blob-shaped, with a distinct head and arms, but no legs. Male Barbapapa have rounder bottoms, whereas female Barbapapa have a slenderer form. Each Barbapapa can adopt any form they choose, but they remain easily identifiable by always retaining their faces and their distinctive colour.
Barbapapa display likeable faces but are actually flesh-eating predators. Their favourite preys are unsuspecting children whom they attract by singing catchy tunes. The prey is put to sleep by the lullaby and then its body is slowly absorbed by the blob-shaped monster.
Even though they are fearsome opponents, Barbapapa will only fight if cornered.


a Barbapapa in Prax


Characteristics (Average)
STR 4D6 (14)
CON 3D6 (10-11)
SIZ 5D6 (17-18)
INT 2D6+6 (13)
POW 3D6 (10-11)
DEX 2D6+3 (10)
CHA 2D6+6 (13)

Hit Points: 13      Move: 8
Magic Points: 11     Base SR: 3
Armour: 1-point hide. Some Barbapapa are protected by 2-point thick fur.
Skills: Disguise 75%, Dodge 25%, Hide 85%, Listen 50%, Shapeshift 100%, Spirit Combat 50%, Swim 75%.
Special defence: Since the Barbapapa’s shape-shifting ability is almost instantaneous, it will create a hole around any piercing weapon about to hit its body, or modify it cushion-like in case a blow by a crushing weapon is about to land. As a result, only area-affecting physical attacks may harm a Barbapapa. Specials and criticals will also hit a Barbapapa; in this case, the attack was too precise for the Barbapapa to modify its shape in time.

Barbapapa Hit Locations
Body 01-16     1/11
Head 17-20     1/5

Weapon % Damage SR
Envelop 100 8 points of digestive fluid 1
Pseudopod 50 1D8+1D4 7


08 April 2021

RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha Ultra-Fast Character Generation

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post titled RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha Accelerated Character Generation for people who thought the standard RQ chargen process (p23-83 of the core rules) was too time-consuming.

Well, believe it or not, I have received complaints that my system was still too long! After some thought and some testing, I present you the RQ:G Ultra-Fast Character Generation process!

This should work for any character type, except the assistant shaman.

It’s still in eight easy steps but, er, shorter:

1. Homeland choice

2. Character history

3. Rune affinities

4. Characteristics

5. Occupation

6. Cult

7. Personal skill bonuses

8. Misc.


1. Homeland choice

Just write down your choice of homeland, then choose three starting Passions at 60%, irrespective of your homeland. If you’re undecided, or unfamiliar with RQ:G’s passion system, use the following:

  • Love (Family) 60%
  • Loyalty (whatever the referee says will be the core organisation of their campaign) 60%
  • Hate (whatever the referee says will be the main opposition in their campaign) 60%


2. Character history

Let us skip family history altogether (the time-consuming chunk in the core rulebook) and give your character the following:

+1D6 reputation OR 1D6×100 L

+1D20 to a given Passion

+10% to a Communication or Knowledge skill of your choice


3. Rune affinities

3a. Elemental Runes

Roll 3 dice for your primary (60%), secondary (40%), and tertiary (20%) Elemental Runes:

D6 – Elemental Rune

1 – Darkness

2 – Water

3 – Earth

4 – Fire/Sky

5 – Air

6 – Moon

If the result of the second roll is the same as the result of the first roll, re-roll. Ditto for the third roll re: the first and the second rolls.


Finally, add +10% to a single Elemental Rune (even one at 0%).


3b. Power/Form Runes

Roll two dice to determine which of your Power/Form Runes start at 75%:

D10 – Power/Form Rune

1 – Fertility

2 – Death

3 – Harmony

4 – Disorder

5 – Truth

6 – Illusion

7 – Stasis

8 – Movement

9 – Man

10 – Beast

Note: if your first roll was 1, the second cannot be 2, as they are opposing Runes; re-roll the die. Same with 3, 4 – 5, 6 – 7, 8 – 9, 10.


4. Characteristics

Do not roll for characteristics but freely assign the following values: 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 to your characteristics, +4 extra points.

Do not apply the Rune or Homeland modifiers to characteristics (p53 of the core rules) as the values above have already taken them into account.


Attributes & Skill Category Modifiers

Compute them per the rules.


Homeland Cultural Skill Bonuses

Replace the Homeland cultural skill bonuses (p60-63 of the core rules) with the following, depending on your choice of a background for your character:


Urban background

Bargain +5

Dance +5

Intrigue +5

Sing +5

Customs (local) (25)

Farm +25

First Aid +5

Spirit Combat +15

Speak own language (50)

Speak Tradetalk +10

Dagger +5

Battle-Axe +5

1H Spear +15

Sword/Rapier +10

Bow/Sling +10

Javelin +5

Thrown Axe +5

Small shield +5

Medium shield +15

Large shield +15


Generic rural, unmounted

Ride +5

Dance +5

Sing +10

Customs (local) (25)

Farm +20

Herd +5

Survival +5

Spirit combat +15

Speak own language (50)

Speak Tradetalk +10

Dagger +10

Battle-Axe +15

1H Spear +10

Sword +15

Composite bow/Sling +10

Javelin +10

Medium shield +15

Large shield +10


Generic rural, mounted

Ride +35

Customs (local) (25)

Herd +35

Peaceful cut +5

Spirit combat +20

Speak own language (50)

Speak Tradetalk +10

Dagger +10

Lance +15

Sword +10

Composite bow +10

Small shield +15

Medium shield +10


5. Occupation

Replace the Occupational skill bonuses (p63-73 of the core rules) with the following, depending on your choice of an occupational category for your character:


Artisan/Pedlar

Bargain +10

Dance +10

Orate +5

Sing +10

Customs +5

Evaluate +10

First Aid +10

Lore (choose) +15

Manage Household +15

Treat Disease +10

1st Craft +10

2nd Craft (can be the same) +5 

Devise +5

Play (instrument) +10

Insight (humans) +10

Speak Own Language +10

Speak Tradetalk +10

Weapon (mêlée) +10


Dignitary

Ride +5

Dance +5

Intrigue +10

Orate +20

Sing +15

Customs +5

Lore (choose) +20

Manage household +20

Meditate +5

Worship (deity) +15

Insight (humans) +5

Speak Own Language +5

Read/Write Own Language +10

Weapon (mêlée) +15

Shield (choose) +15


Irregular Fighter/Lowlife

Climb +5

Disguise +10

Fast Talk +10

First Aid +5

Herd +10

Homeland lore (local) +10

Lore (choose) +10

Peaceful cut +10

Survival +10

Sleight +10

Scan +5

Track +10

Hide +15

Move Quietly +10

First Weapon +30

Second Weapon +5

Shield (choose) +5


Sage/Merchant

Bargain +10

Orate +10

Bureaucracy +10

Customs +15

Evaluate +15

Library Use +10

Lore (choose) +25

Manage household +10

Meditate +5

Insight (humans) +5

Speak Other Language +5

Speak Tradetalk +10

Read/Write Own Language +40

Read/Write Other Language +10


Regular Fighter

Ride +20

Sing +10

Battle +30

First Aid +10

Listen +10

Scan +10

First Weapon +40

Second Weapon +25

Third Weapon +15

Shield (choose) +20


6. Cult

Your adventurer starts off as already being an Initiate of a cult. Choose the cult of your character and apply the skill modifiers on p74-79. Alternatively, and if you want to stay in the spirit of the ‘ultra fast’ character generation rules, simply distribute +45 skill points among three to four skills that fit in with the deity’s portfolio or with the deity’s Runes, e.g., Speak Darktongue for an initiate of a Darkness deity.

You also get to choose 5 points of Spirit Magic amongst the cult’s available spells. Your adventurer receives 3 Rune points dedicated to their cult, and an extra Passion at 60% amongst the ones listed under their cult.


7. Personal skill bonuses

Finally, add +25 to any four skills, and +10 to five more. No skill may be raised above 100%.


8. Misc.

Choose the character’s gender and name. I recommend you use this post to finalise the character’s hair and skin colour.

Determine Age (21±1D4)

Add +5 to Reputation.


20 March 2021

[Jonstown Compendium] The Howling Tower

The Howling Tower is my first foray into the Jonstown Compendium, the Chaosium-sponsored corner on drivethru rpg where fans can sell their own RuneQuest content. My contribution is minuscule (I have made sure everything was consistent with the latest edition of the rules, and I have written the stats of the pre-generated characters): the original author of the adventure is Devin Cutler, and Dario Corallo has been the driving force behind this endeavour, doing the layout, the artwork, choosing what should get in and what should stay out, etc. so it's definitely his baby. Moreover, Dario has transformed a mere adventure into a fantastic adventure pack by adding virtual tabletop maps and counters, handouts, enlarged maps, etc.


Irrespective of my involvement, I really recommend you purchase this adventure pack: if you buy The Howling Tower, you will get everything needed for several session of Old School fun via virtual tabletop play (quite useful in these pandemic times), plus loads of re-useable setting material for any RuneQuest campaign set around the Upland Marsh and/or the village of Two Sisters, or even in north-western Sartar.

Buy it now!

08 March 2021

Monsters! Monsters! – New Setting & New Adventure(s)

Monsters! Monsters! is a delightful role-playing game running on the Tunnels & Trolls engine that lets you play the role of the bloodthirsty, flesh-eating, mayhem-bringing monsters instead of the usual puny and boring humans, dwarves or elves.

Thessaly Chance Tracy, GM and T&T advocate extraordinaire, has been working on a grand Monsters! Monsters! setting and campaign for years (you can read about it in issues 1 and 2 of The Hanging Garden), and her work is at last going to be published. I believe Thessaly’s setting is to vanilla fantasy what Sergio Leone’s films were to the western genre: a sonorous wake-up call accompanied by a huge kick in the arse.

After the good news, more good news: there’s so much stuff that the setting and the campaign will be published in several volumes. The first one is titled Uprising at Buzzard’s Gulch and it will contain the setting, the maps, the NPCs, and countless adventure seeds and hooks. The cover is just amazing:

cover by Simon Lee Tranter

The second book will be an adventure, titled Beatdown At Big Battle Ridge, and it should be released very shortly after Uprising.
Then a second adventure (and third book) shall follow, titled Desperately Seeking Plumb Gorgeous, in which the monsters seek to kidnap the most beautiful girl in all the land [Monsters! Monsters! notoriously rewards monsters with adventure points for kidnapping beautiful girls].