12 March 2019

Chromatic Soup and Other Old School Zines

art by Evlyn M
Evlyn M has just put PDF versions of her zines online for free. All the zine are lavishly illustrated. One of these zines, Chromatic Soup issue No.1, describes a swampy* area full of weird monsters and cults, sandbox-style. Yours truly has provided a RuneQuest conversion appendix at the end of the zine, meaning you can have a fully-fledged swamp sandbox at your disposal for your RQ games. At the time, RQ:G wasn't available yet so the stats are for RuneQuest Classic Edition, but I think they can be used with RQ:G with minimal effort (I'd had the prescience to include Runes and Passions).

The swampy sandbox is probably ideally situated in Western Pamaltela, between the Swermela Sea and Yedidrya, but YGWV.

Link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/15uisPoVVbS2ztNHSmkrkn4-YQ7r-HAzE

*or maybe marshy. I've never really understood the difference between 'marshy' and 'swampy'.

06 March 2019

MSPE Crowdfunding Campaign

Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes, the classic espionage / sleuth / contemporary military operations role-playing game of the 1980s will be soon back in print thanks to a crowdfunding campaign by Flying Buffalo, the publisher of the 1st edition.

This new edition will keep its iconic cover and its original interior art; there may be however some extra text depending on the completion of the stretch goals.

MSPE uses an elegant, streamlined and universal system of Saving Throws (actually more like attribute rolls) to solve situations — it is actually very similar to the one I have used for my own Timinits & Trolls game, as both are based on an improved version of the ST system at the core of Tunnels & Trolls.

For a mere $6 you will get the complete PDF of the 3rd edition of the game, and for $18 you get both the PDF and the dead tree version. PLEASE FUND IT, we need an old school rpg to play contemporary adventures!

05 March 2019

Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha book - a Heads Up

This is from Jeff himself on social media; I reckon it is of great interest to readers of this blog.

“I am wrapping up the final text of the Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha book, while making sure that it all ties into both the new Heroquesting chapters in the GM Sourcebook and into the Hero Wars Campaign. It is increasingly looking like this will be a two-volume book, as it includes the long form of more than 70 cults.

It is perhaps easier to say what the book does not have:

1. The Invisible God of the West. This needs its own book, as my notes keep expanding. Additionally, the Invisible God needs to provide a materialist and humanist interpretation of the Gods and Goddess book – and serve as the Sorcery Book. So this one gets pushed into its own book.
2. Godunya and the East. Same deal as above.
3- Pamalt and the South. Same deal – I toyed around with including Pamalt in this book, even wrote up his cult. BUT I've concluded that it would make far more sense to include Pamalt and his version of the pantheon in a Pamaltela facing book.
4. Minor gods of purely local importance, such as Pavis, Lanbril, Flintnail, other city gods, etc. These are better placed in their settings.
Deities that can be better handled as masks or variant names of other deities, e.g., Elmal, Buserian, etc.

So what is left? Well the book is more than 50% bigger than what was previewed at GenCon and has been pretty intensively revised. Here's the current list of cults that are definitely in it (cults are listed by elemental grouping and not alphabetically):
1. Kyger Litor
2. Annilla
3. Argan Argar
4. Gorakiki
5. Xiola Umbar
6. Zorak Zoran
7. Magasta
8. Choralinthor
9. Dormal
10. Engizi
11. Oslira
12. Ernalda
13. Aldrya
14 .Asrelia
15. Babeester Gor
16. Caladra & Aurelion
17. Donandar
18. Eiritha
19. Flamal
20. The Grain Goddesses
21. Hykim & Mikyh (includes Telmor and Basmol)
22. Maran Gor
23. Mostal
24. Ty Kora Tek
25. Uleria
26. Yelm
27. Dayzatar
28. Dendara
29. Gorgorma
30. Lodril
31. Lokarnos
32. Lowfires
33. Polaris
34. Shargash
35. Yelmalio
36. Orlanth
37. Chalana Arroy
38. Eurmal
39. Issaries
40. Lhankor Mhy
41. Daka Fal
42. Foundchild
43. Heler
44. Humakt
45. Mastakos
46. Odayla
47. Storm Bull
48. Valind
49. Waha
50. Yinkin
51. Seven Mothers
52. Danfive Xaron
53. Deezola
54. Etyries
55. Hon-eel
56. Hwarin Dalthippa
57. Irrippi Ontor
58. Jakaleel
59. Nysalor
60. Red Goddess
61. Yanafal Tarnils
62. Primal Chaos
63. Bagog
64. Cacodemon
65. Crimson Bat
66. Krarsht
67. Krjalk
68. Mallia
69. Pocharngo
70. Thanatar
71. Thed
72. Vivamort
I am still debating about whether to add Horned Man, Triolina, Subere, Wachaza, and Voria to the list.

For me this has been comparable to writing the Guide – especially realising how these various groupings of gods overlap, intersect, and form a magical whole. Even in the West, South, and East, these are the deities that form the cosmic foundation (although often with different names and different stories).”

05 February 2019

RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha Accelerated Character Generation

RQ:G Accelerated Character Generation

Creating a character with the new RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha rules can be quite time-consuming. It’s actually a kind of little game in itself, in which you relive the adventures of your forebears throughout Dragon Pass.
I can understand, however, that some players may want a shorter induction into the game. Here I suggest how to bypass some of the lengthier steps.

According to the core rulebook, the necessary steps for character generation are as follows:
1. Homeland choice
2. Family history
3. Rune affinities
4. Characteristics
5. Occupation
6. Cult
7. Personal skill bonuses
8. Misc.

I will use the same steps here, but they will be much more streamlined.

1. Homeland choice

Just write down your choice of homeland. The core rulebook provides six homelands: Sartar, Esrolia, Grazelands, Prax, Lunar Tarsh, Old Tarsh, which have an impact on your starting skills (p60-63). You may ignore all the flavour text and concentrate on those tables.
You may even skip the homeland choice step and decide that your character is some kind of Old School vagrant. Or maybe he’s from outside Dragon Pass [theoretically the new RQ rules only let you create player characters from within Dragon Pass].

Passions: just choose three 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%
or even leave the choice open for later; you can pick ‘em up during the game as you start having a feeling for what the character’s background will be.

2. Family history

This is the most time-consuming chunk in the core rulebook. It is admittedly great fun and provides a deep immersion into the history of Dragon Pass but, again, some players may find it too daunting and/or time-consuming.
Just use 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, secondary, and tertiary 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.

Apply the modifiers listed on p45 depending on your choice of a homeland. If you chose the ‘Old School vagrant’ background, roll for a fourth Elemental Rune at 10%.

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

Roll 3D6 for STR, CON, DEX, POW, CHA, and 2D6+6 for SIZ, INT, or use whatever method you’ve always used as long as the referee is OK with it.

In RQ:G, the character’s Elemental Runes have an influence on their characteristics. Modify the characteristics as follows:
Darkness – if primary then SIZ +2 – if secondary then SIZ +1
Water – if primary then DEX +2 – if secondary then DEX +1
Earth – if primary then CON +2 – if secondary then CON +1
Fire/Sky – if primary then INT +2 – if secondary then INT +1
Air – if primary then STR +2 – if secondary then STR +1
Moon – if primary then POW +2 – if secondary then POW +1
Either the primary OR the secondary bonus may be applied to CHA instead.

Attributes & Skill Category Modifiers

Compute them per the rules.

Homeland Skill Bonuses

Apply the bonuses listed on p60-63 depending on your choice of a homeland. If you have chosen the ‘Old School vagrant’ background, you must at least decide whether your vagrant hails from a town or from the country and, if from the countryside, whether they’re more of an unmounted or a mounted type of adventurer:

Urban background
Bargain +5
Dance +5
Intrigue +5
Sing +5
Speak own language (50)
Speak Tradetalk +10
Customs (own) (25)
Farm +25
First Aid +5
Spirit Combat +15
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
Speak own language (50)
Speak Tradetalk +10
Customs (own) (25)
Farm +20
Herd +5
Survival +5
Spirit combat +15
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
Speak own language (50)
Speak Tradetalk +10
Customs (own) (25)
Herd +35
Peaceful cut +5
Spirit combat +20
Dagger +10
Lance +15
Sword +10
Composite bow +10
Small shield +15
Medium shield +10

5. Occupation

Choose an occupation and receive further skill bonuses. Just apply the modifiers on p65-73.

6. Cult

In RQ:G, your adventurer starts off as already being an Initiate of a cult! Just choose the cult your character belongs to. Your adventurer receives 3 Rune points dedicated to their cult. Just like their profession, their cult belonging will bring further skill bonuses. Just apply the modifiers on p74-79.

You also get to choose 5 points of Spirit Magic amongst the available spells listed under your cult.

You receive an extra Passion at 60% amongst the ones listed under your cult.

7. Personal skill bonuses

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

8. Misc.

Choose Gender, Name

Determine Age (21±1D4)

Add +5 to reputation.

Note: RQ:G starting characters are way stronger than their RQ2 counterparts!

24 January 2019

Worlds United Sneak Peek

This blog is officially devoted to Sword & Sorcery, and Worlds United is The Design Mechanism's soon-to-be-published planetary romance role-playing game. So maybe you think I shouldn't be mentioning it. However— isn't planetary romance really just a sub-genre of sword & sorcery?

Anyway, Worlds United lets you play in a 1950s where Herbert George Wells' books are not fictional but true recountings of actual events... Venus and Mars are inhabited planets and, if Venus is amenable to peaceful space trade, Mars definitely isn't, and there is an oppressing militarised atmosphere of Cold War with the Martians.

Contact with the Martians has sparked the development of psi powers, and the latter enable the 1950s depicted in Worlds United to make up for their lack in hard sci-fi technology. There is a lengthy preview PDF available here, which I believe gives a good overall idea of the setting.

Oh, and there are dinosaurs!

05 December 2018

Darktongue 101

Xoroho Hellspeaker
We sometimes need to make up names or words in Darktongue. Obviously in the absence of native speakers or Teach Yourself Darktongue books, all we can do is look at the few words and nouns in the canonical publications and use them as a basis to figure out new words.

The many examples of Darktongue words and nouns found in the canonical sources show that Darktongue follows a familiar pattern of (mostly) CV and CVC syllables. In terms of pronunciation, all we have is American English approximations, for instance here on the glorantha.com web-site. Initial “X”, for instance, looks like it is pronounced [z], and most words are paroxytones, so the name of our friend Xoroho here is probably pronounced zo-RO-ho.

So, anyway, what I have done is I have taken all Uz names and words I have been able to find in the various canonical sources and I have broken them down into syllables. The syllables are listed here. The idea is to freely recombine them so as to create new Darktongue names and words.

A few elements are personal additions, like:
  • Making a distinction between initial x- and initial z-, which induces a slight pronunciation difference
  • Considering that many finals are actually the same sound, and that Greg Stafford has transcribed them differently because of the difficulty of transcribing Darktongue into American English
  • Transforming the expected sound into something else (for fun)
  • Considering that Darktongue <s> is slightly different (again, for fun)

Some sounds and/or syllables are hapax legomena, e.g., <f>; you may want not to use them.

Darktongue Sound & Syllable List

a [a]
Ca    CaC    ar    Car    Cang    Can    aC    az    a                               

b, initial [b]
ba    bang    bar    bas    be    beer    bi    bo    bom    boom    bor    boz    bu                   

b, final [b]
ab    clob    glob    zub                                                           

ch, initial [t͡ʃ]
chak    chur                                                           

d, initial [d]
da    dag    dar    de    dee    dem    den    do    dol    dood                                       

d, final [d]
dood    glod    ud                                                           

e [e]
e    en    eC    Ce    Cem    Cen    Cer    CeC    Ceッ                               

ee [i:]
ee    beer    meel    Cee                                                   

f, final [f]
zaf (hapax legomenon)                                                               

g, initial [g]
ga    gag    gan    gar    ge    ger    gic    gig    go    gor    gork   gu                                   

g, final [g]
dag    gag    gig    kag    kog    rag    trag    twag    xag    xig                                               

h, initial [h]
han    he    hi    ho    hom    hor    hy                                           

i [i]
i    in    gic    yil    Ci    Cig    Cik    Cing                                                   

j, initial [d͡ʒ]
jak    jes                                                               

k, initial [k]
ka    kag    kan    kang    kar    karth    kat    ke    kee    ker    keッ    ki    ko    kog    ku    kurz    ky   

k, final [k]
chak    drok    gic    jak    lak    mook    rak    ric                                           

gl/kr, initial [ɢ/q]
clob    cro    gla    glob    glod    kro                                                       

ch, final [q]
gork    tuch                                                               

l, initial [l]
la    lak    lar    le    lee    len    li    lo    loッ                                   

l, final [l]
dol    mal    meel    ol    yil                                                       

m, initial [m]
ma    mal    man    mar    mee    meel    mi    mo    mon    mook    mor                                   

m, final [m]
bom    boom    den    han    hom    um    xem                                           

n, initial [n]
na    nee    no                                                       

n, final [n]
an    den    en    gan    in    kan    len    man    mon    oon    ran    ron    xen                   

ng, final [ŋ]
bang    kang    ting    zong                                                   

o [o]
cro    kro    ol    xio    Co    Com    Con    Cong    Cor    CoC    Coッ                               

oo [u:]
boom    dood    mook    oon                                                   

ow [o:]

p [p]
pa    pand    pi                                                           

qu, initial [kw]

r, initial [r]
ra    rag    rak    ran    ras    re    ree    rer    ri    ric    ro    ron    ror    ruz                       

r, final [r]
ar    Car    Cer    Ceer    Cor    Cur                                           

s, initial [sˤ]
sli    so    su                                                       

s, final [sˤ]
bas    jes    ras    tas                                                       

t, initial [t]
ta    tas   ting    tor    tow    tuch                                                   

t, final [t]
et    kat                                                           

th/tr, initial [tˤ]
drok    tha    trag    tro    twag                                                   

rth/rz, final [tˤ]
karth    kurz    pand                                                           

u [u]
chur    kurz    ruz    tuch    ud    um    uz    zub    Cu                                   

v [v]
va    var    vo    vu                                                       

x, initial [zˤ]
xag    xem    xen    xi    xig    xio    xo                                                   

y, consonant [j]
ya      yil                                               

y, vowel [aɪ]
hy    ky                                                           

z, initial [z]
zaf    zar    zo    zong    zu    zub                                               

z, final [z]
az    boz    ez    ruz    uz                                               

zh, initial [ʒ]

gemination, final†
keッ    loッ                                                           

Square brackets [ ] indicate the IPA pronunciation
ッ means the following syllable starts with a double consonant; cannot occur at the end of words
C indicates any consonant
V indicates any vowel           

The following don't sound particularly Darktongue, I have considered them as hapax legomena:
 - Gothant, Iverd, Orshad (three trollkin names from Pavis and Big Rubble)
 - Syllables with an initial w- (Degla Wat and Heka Iwog, Dark Trolls, Griffin Mountain

26 November 2018

Old School Bits and Pieces for RQG

I have just received, as a late addition to its crowdfunding campaign, the 'Referee repository' supplement for Blueholme, an old school RPG. As befits an OSR game, the supplement contains lots and lots of tables!

Some of them are really interesting and have spurred to me to adding a few bits and pieces to the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha rules.

Movement Rates

p102 of the RQG core rules lists the various movement rates depending on terrain. However, only terrain typical of Dragon Pass is listed, leaving out other terrain types the adventurers may travel across. I am hence offering the following:

Terrain km per day
River 60
Royal Road in good weather 50 / 40 / 25*
Royal Road in bad weather
Trade road in good weather
40 / 30 / 15
Trade road in bad weather
Herders' path in good weather
30 / 25 / 12
Herders' path in bad weather
20 / 15 / 5
10 / 8 / 3
Swamp 8 / 5 / 2
Snow storm
8 / 5 / 0
*pls refer to p102 of the RQG core rules for details


p156 of the RQG core rules says:
If the adventurer is taken by surprise by the immersion, the player must determine by a roll of POW×5 or less on D100 whether the adventurer has instinctively taken a breath.
(if not, the adventurer starts drowning)

Well, I would like to factor in the kind of armour the adventurer in wearing. So instead of having the player roll POW×5, have them roll:
  • POW×5 if the adventurer is wearing no armour
  • POW×4 if the adventurer is wearing leather armour
  • POW×3 if the adventurer is wearing cuir-bouilli
  • POW×2 if the adventurer is wearing ring/scale armour
  • POW×1 if the adventurer is wearing bronze plate


Strangely there is no Navigation skill in RQG. I reckon one could use Homeland Lore, Shiphandling or Survival, depending on the exact locale, in lieu of the Navigation skill.
Anyway, when the leading adventurer misses such a roll, the party gets lost. Here a few suggested modifiers to the roll:
  • Forest: −20%
  • Mountains: −20%
  • Swamp: −30%
  • Desert: −30%