03 June 2019

Final Excerpt from our RQ:G Campaign

This session ended 'Season One' (as I've called it) of the Chern Durel campaign. I will now referee something else before getting back to a Season Two, hopefully with the next RQ:G books that will deal with heroquesting and stuff.

If you are interested, the previous game reports (all by Hervé, like this one) are available here.

Chern Durel Campaign - Session 16
GM: Gianni. 6 players:

Hervé / Kro Tal the Invincible, Ignorant Champion of the Arena,
Valentina / Belia the (former) God Learner soldier,
Patrick / Xu the Ignorant Darkness mystic,
Teva / Skull-Sucker the uzko berserker,
Jean-Paul / Furfur the enlo bush alchemist,
Cédric / Kim Tyi the Ignorant scout.

9-hour game (14:30 to 23:30)

“I am Kro Tal the Invincible, foe to all dragons and their Kralori masters, champion of the Blood Sun, leader and protector of my Ignorant brothers. Or so I thought. What happened these last days, I’m not sure of all of this anymore. I have Seen so much, in this world and the others, I am not sure of much. Best try to remember what happened; maybe you’ll put some sense in it.

It began simply enough. Can Ta [GM’s note: Can Shu’s rebellious daughter] had told us to go to Karaköse and put Blackstone’s Eyes back on his statue. He’d then wake up and start killing dragons and Kralori, a mighty ally to our eternal battle against them dragon-lickers. So we sailed down the Black Dragon River, past Jangi-Shar and Hali, until the fogs got so thick the rivermen wouldn’t go further. We walked south, up to some village close to Karaköse, where we had to meet Old Kim, a story-teller and agent of Can Ta. He was supposed to tell us all about the eyes and statue of Blackstone.

The village had an inn and we noticed its keeper was counting a lot of silver coins. Kralori silver coins. By the time we understood what it meant, some runt kid of his had run away to warn the Kralori garrison of Karaköse, so we had little time before they came: the ruined city was a half-day away. Yet we had to wait for the old man to show up and give his show. His daughter (Kim Tyi) took us all in a ruined shrine when we found out Old Kim didn’t know much, except many Kralori soldiers were digging up in Karaköse looking for something. He had no idea where the statue or the eyes were… some help. Then a flying dragon-thing (1) began circling above our shrine. It was huge but I drew it away while the others opened fire with bow and sling. Kim Tyi shot it through the heart with a poisoned arrow, slowing it down. It fell to the ground and we slaughtered it. It had two paws and a long tail ending in a huge sting dripping with poison.

As we celebrated our victory, a SECOND wyvern (I learned later how they’re called) appeared from nowhere and stabbed Old Kim through, lifting his corpse impaled on its sting. Later, someone said them wyverns are intelligent and this one had used Invisibility sorcery. It began to fly away but again Kim Tyi shot it through the heart (2), killing it with one arrow, but only after I had roused her from her grief at losing her father. He was a good man and we buried him; I killed the innkeeper traitor and burned down his inn as sacrifices to help the old man’s spirit along.

Kim Tyi led us to the cliffs above Karaköse. We could see the ruined city along the Black Dragon River and a very old mighty temple with five towers, one for each element. Kralori soldiers did camp around it. I called upon Blackstone and asked him where his eyes could be found (3); he said “under his tower, but beware of imitations.”
At night, we scaled down the cliff; Kim Tyi ran ahead and killed two strange lizard-frog men (4) standing guard, but one of them had time to blow its conch. We all ran and got into the Darkness tower as planned. We explored its galleries and did find strange things, such as a magic chariot locked away in a vault, but were running from the Kralori rushing from everywhere. Tired of hiding, I lashed at three small dragon men (5), killing one while my allies dispatched the others. Then we ran again to Sekever’s cave, because Sekever is the Kralori’s name for “devil” and we figured their enemy would perhaps help us.

Inside, more tunnels, galleries, empty temples – at least the Kralori didn’t follow us – until we found a black magic door. I cast my power at it and passed through. And was once again in Perfect Darkness. Bliss. Succour. Well, not for Belia, her being much a Fire-type, but all the others liked it. Then I “felt” our way to the eyes. I could see them in a vault, as if I were one of the characters sculpted on its inner wall – in fact, I was stuck to the wall. I tried to free myself calling on Disorder and Revolt, but was blasted back after glimpsing a HUGE Spider Web and a Great White Spider weaving… everything together. I stayed out for a while (6).

When I came to, we were still floating in Darkness and it cleared my mind. We decided to go in the Dream World where the Eyes were instead of having to fight our way through the Kralori. It worked, but not as planned: we were back at the time of the Six Suns in the Sky, in the temple as it was new, filled with hundreds of monks. We asked our way around and were led to the statue of Blackstone. Except they called him “Sekever” here, and it was a Black Dragon. A cursed dragon and not a titan as we thought!!
Yet we had come too far to back down and I talked to this dragon-god (7), telling him we came from the future [GM’s note: Not really, there’s no time-travel in Glorantha] and needed its Eyes to help our brethren. It hissed that I had moved it, and it gave me two of its tears, which shaped up as Eyes. I begged him to tell me why he was a dragon and it said there were many kinds of dragons, that we were ALL dragons!!! Yet the job still had to be done.

So we went back to our world and stood where Sekever’s statue had been (after killing some huge spider lurking there). Xu also called on Sekever (8) and it told him to “dive deep, without fear, holding your breath” to find its statue. So he waded into the pool nearby and got his arm half eaten away by some green slime growing in the room. I excised the skin but it didn’t seem to help.
Then we waded into the underground river close and found a submerged temple with the statue in it. We had to pull it out, it took many hours of hard work but we did it, brought it back on its pedestal, put the Tears/Eyes on it and recited the chant we had learned.

Then hell broke out.
The whole cliffs began to shake and the temple near-collapsed on our heads, while we heard a gigantic laughter, the kind I never want to hear again. We ran like hell and climbed back the cliffs; up there we watched. We watched as the river swelled immensely and a tidal wave swallowed the whole city, drowning all Kralori and dragon men. It was fun to watch their corpses bobble around, but we then realised the giant wave surged up north, towards the sea. It would then destroy all cities in its paths, killing many Kralori, which is fine, but also many Ignorants. It would eventually drown Tzu Ling and its huge Ignorant district. What had we done???(9)

So now, we need to find a way to warn off our brothers. The Giant Wave Black Dragon will need a few days to reach Tzu Ling. Maybe at the Blood Sun shrine…”

1.    A SIZ 31 wyvern, riderless, sent by the garrison in Karaköse when the kid reached them. No idea how it found us hidden away in the ruined shrine. [GM’s note: Well, the wyverns were stationed much closer than Karaköse]
2.    This character rolled awesomely, always hitting the chest/abdomen, impaling the second wyvern in its belly and killing it in one shot! All the characters had prepared Speedart spells and put poison (supplied by the enlo alchemist) on their arrowheads before I ran out to bait the first wyvern.
3.    One-point Divination, using a Rune Point from Blackstone acquired earlier.
4.    Newtlings
5.    Crested dragonewts. There were traces of their bigger, meaner brethren around but we never met them.
6.    As always, we use our Runes actively. I tried to used Disorder augmented by Movement to break inside the vault, to cross through the “dark wall”. I fumbled and Saw the All, the Spider weaving everything together, the full force of the Compromise, rejecting me from this impossible act. Yet it did free me from the dark wall. I demanded Illumination but only got 2% for my character [GM’s note: That was generous enough].
7.    Using Worship Blackstone / Sekever at base 9%, augmented by massive gift of magic points and sacrifice of a few drops of Hell Water.
8.    Again, Divination. He also had one Rune Point from Blackstone from the same earlier adventure as me.
9.    Gianni told us that this event coincided with the Dragonrise in faraway Dragon Pass…

This is supposed to be the end of the Chern Durel campaign. We begged Gianni for more but he now wants to play the other side: Kralori officials bent on stopping / hindering the Great Wave, using the Kralori rules and background written by David Millians. And why not?

03 April 2019

RuneQuest Glorantha: Redemption Blues

The RuneQuest Glorantha Bestiary and the Gamemaster Screen Pack hardbacks are out at last and available for order from the Chaosium web-site.

If you have already purchased the corresponding PDFs, you may redeem their price from the new order. However, the Chaosium online shop only accepts one coupon per order so if you have — like yours truly — already purchased the hardback rulebook and the Bestiary and GM Pack PDFs, you will want to order the empty slipcase and the Bestiary and GM Pack hardbacks, and no combination of the coupons you've received by e-mail will cover this.

Despair not! Simply send an e-mail to customerservice@chaosium.com to request a combined coupon, and only place your order once you have received it.

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!