27 February 2020

the Taun Taun

The Guide to Glorantha only mentions ‘Hsunchen Bands’, but in My Glorantha there are several other semi-nomadic peoples, of mixed (but mostly Woki) descent, who also live on the slopes of the Hachuan Shan mountains between Teshnos and Kralorela (plate 32 of the Argan Argar Atlas). These wandering peoples use a variety of mounts, but the most commonly used one when raiding is the taun taun, a biped reptile native to this rather cold region.

Here are the taun taun’s stats for RuneQuest: Adventures in Glorantha (inspired by the ones that had circulated in the RuneQuest 6 Star Wars supplement some time ago), shown in the familiar Bestiary format.

Arctosaurus Corniger
These large biped reptiles may trot or run on their two hind legs bearing a human-sized rider. These mounts are particularly adapted to the rugged terrain of the Hachuan Shan mountains, and will outrun a horse or any other animal that is not used to mountainous terrain.
They will fight only if cornered, but will carry their rider in battle.

Characteristics (Average)
STR 2D6+18 (25)
CON 2D6+6 (13)
SIZ 4D6+20 (34)
POW 3D6 (10-11)
DEX 2D6+6 (13)

Hit Points: 19      Move: 12
Magic Points: 11     Base SR: 2
Armour: 2-point thick fur, plus horns on head.
Skills: Dodge 35%, Listen 60%.

Taun Taun Hit Locations
Tail 01-02     2/6
Right hind leg 03-04     2/7
Left hind leg 05-06     2/7
Abdomen 07-09     2/8
Chest 10-14     2/8
Right foreclaw 15     2/5
Left foreclaw 16     2/5
Head 17-20     4/7

Weapon % Damage SR
Butt* 45 2D8+3D6 6
Kick* 45 1D8+3D6 6

*a taun taun will kick if cornered, but it will rather butt and then flee if it has a choice.

11 February 2020

OCR'd Wyrms Footnotes

Chaosium has made the old issues (No.1 to No.14) of Wyrms Footnotes available as cleanly OCR'd PDF files on their web-site. Issues may be individually purchased at USD 2.49, but the whole fourteen-issue bundle is available at USD 24.99. BUY 'EM; this is a fantastic set of boardgame and TTRPG history, and Greg Stafford's editorials give great insight as to how a gaming company was run during the golden age of our hobby — these fourteen issues cover the 1976-1982 period of time.

I have started reading them, and there are lots of nuggets of weird knowledge and exciting announcements of supplements that never were. Some of my comments appear in this thread.

In issue No.5, from summer 1978 (just after RuneQuest got released), there is the very first tentative list of RQ supplements:

SCENARIO PACKS, numbered, by several various authors. Scenario Packs are mini-dungeons or short overland treks. They include appropriate maps, monster stats, treasure stats, and everything required to run an expedition of one to more nights.
#1, Kakston's Art Museum, by Warren James is for all beginning characters with no more experience than they might roll up on the Past Experience charts. Only $2.
#2, Balastor's Barracks, by Steve Henderson is tougher, requiring a party to have gained some skill at arms, and a few spells as well. Only $2.
#3, 4, and so on are also in the works, and will sell for various prices.
Both of these are Definite.

LOL... “Both of these are Definite”. Although Balastor's Barracks was eventually published as SP1, I have never ever heard anything about Kakston's Art Museum, not even as a draft publication.

21 January 2020

Whip weapon stats (RQ:G)

So RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha mentions the whip as a weapon (e.g., on page 48, amongst the Water Rune-weapons) but doesn't provide any weapon stats whatsoever.

Research on various forums, newsgroups etc. has indicated the article Eight New Weapons for RuneQuest by Paul Cardwell Jr on p.32-35 in issue No.22 of Different Worlds magazine (July 1982) as the preferred reference for the whip's weapon stats.

Since the topic keeps appearing on forums, I have taken the liberty of copying the most salient parts of the ‘whip’ section from that article here. I will obviously remove this post should anybody complain about copyright infringements but –hey!– the original article is from 38 years ago; we can almost consider this post as an ‘RPG history’ article of sorts.


The whip is a logical part of the gear of a herder, teamster, caravaneer, slave merchant, or even a general, all-purpose villain.

The whip is a weapon of fixed range. It is useless beyond its range, and it can only be used to attack a target at equal to or more than half its maximum range. Within that range, the whip is useless.

Category Name Base % STR DEX Damage HP ENC Range SR
Whip Whip 10 9 9 1D4 12 1 5m 0

The whip will wrap around its target on any Special to hit roll. A wrapped victim cannot act. If a leg is caught, the target must roll DEX as a percentage to keep from falling.
The whip will loosen after one round.

12 January 2020

Movement Rates for RQG (Updated)

Page 102 of RuneQuest: Adventures in Glorantha provides Movement Rates for various terrain types in the Dragon Pass area. In a previous blog post, I have expanded that table for other types of terrain. Now I realise I had been too optimistic in terms of river travel, and that I hadn't included sea travel, so here's an updated table:

Terrain km per day
River (upriver) 10
River (downriver) 30
Sea 40
Ocean 30
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

02 January 2020

RPG Review - Issues No.40 and No.44

I haven't blogged about the excellent Australian online zine The RPG Review for quite some time now, but I must absolutely make up for lost time now that not one but two issues entirely devoted to the world of Glorantha have been published!

Issue No.40, subtitled Ten Year Anniversary Issue & RuneQuest Glorantha Down Under Convention Special (yes, that is a long subtitle), has (amongst other great articles) quite comprehensive RQ:G Designer's Notes by Jeff Richard — which may explain why many RQ:G players do not like the new sorcery rules, trivia and anecdotes about the good old days by Steve Perrin, and an Australian-flavoured bestiary by William Noble and Lev Lafayette.

Issue No.44, similarly subtitled RuneQuest Glorantha Down Under IV Special Issue!, features (inter alia) an interview of Jason Durall (Creative Director of RQ:G at Chaosium), a long humorous piece about Delecti the Necromancer and his Sartarite neighbours by Darius West, a serious piece about the Bronze Age and its economics by James Haughten, and a fully-fledged scenario set in the Seshnelan Country of Castle Coast (plate No.35 in the Argan Argar Atlas).

an excerpt from Jason's interview

30 November 2019

Chaosium News from Dragonmeet

Alas like most of you guys I haven’t been able to go to Dragonmeet in London (one day I will!).

Luckily Nick Brooke live-tweeted the Chaosium panel. For those of you who aren’t on Twitter (BTW I am Gɪᴀɴɴɪ’s Eᴠɪʟ Tᴡɪɴ on Twitter, follow me!), here is the transcript from Nick’s tweets:

“On the panel are Jeff Richard, Michael OBrien, Jason Durall and Ian Cooper.

MOB introduces the new Jonstown Compendium, Chaosium’s online library of fan-published Gloranthan works at DriveThruRPG, which launched yesterday.
He shows off Martin Helsdon’s awesome hardcover “Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass,” a lavishly illustrated, beautifully laid-out labour of love.

MOB solicits contributions written for RuneQuest Classic, RuneQuest Glorantha and HeroQuest Glorantha, and stresses that YGWV — “Your Glorantha Will Vary.” Canon does not limit community content: it’s a rod for the official publisher’s back only.

He mentions that Chaosium has identified several talented new authors through the Miskatonic Repository — the “Call of Cthulhu” equivalent — who have gone on to be published in Chaosium’s own books.

Jeff talks about Basic Role-Playing and QuestWorlds, an initiative to produce SRDs authors can use to produce their own BRP and HQ-based role-playing games. (Terms and conditions apply: there will be a new Open Gaming Licence for these)
Among those T’s & C’s: you can’t produce games about Lovecraftian investigations, Gloranthan heroics or indeed King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Which seems fair enough, given Chaosium already print those.
And if you want to produce a game using someone else’s IP, you’ll need to obtain the rights from the owner (and good luck with that!), but Chaosium won’t stand in your way.
Like Jason’s Big Gold Book, the SRDs will contain all sorts of options, with the expectation that authors will pick and mix (and remix!) the bits they need for their games. Not use the whole kit and caboodle, every time.

MOB teases future libraries for Pendragon & Seventh Sea, once the Jonstown Compendium is up and running.

Jason talks about the next RQ book, “The Smoking Ruins,” containing big scenarios by Chris Klug and Steve Perrin, and opening up a major area to the west of Sartar.
After that, “Pegasus Plateau,” a collection of pick-up-and-play starting adventures for lazy GMs (like me). Lots of new authors in this, including John Wick (not that one), and another scenario by Steve Perrin.
The scenarios will take adventurers all over Dragon Pass and offer a whole range of different experiences.

Next: the “RuneQuest Starter Set,” including a guide to Jonstown and several scenarios for beginning GMs and players. Everything in the book will be new and useful to established campaigns: it’s not reprints, and any group could use the material.
Plus 14 pre-generated characters (incl. 7 from RQ:G core and a bunch more archetypes; Jason mentions adding some downloadable non-human characters).

The “RuneQuest Gamemaster’s Guide” will expand the game with plunder, Rune metals, heroquests, mass combat, etc. It will be exactly the right size to replace the GM Screen Pack in your slipcase set.

Finally (for now), “Cults of Glorantha” (Jeff has the complete manuscript in two volumes / 450 pages), and the “RuneQuest Campaign,” an adventuring timeline for the Hero Wars comparable to “The Boy King” for Pendragon.
That should keep them busy for the next 6-8 months. Other books mentioned include Troll stuff and Robin Laws’ reboot of Pavis in the Hero Wars timeline, but those are further off: they’ll be multi-book sets and won’t be available until everything has been finished.
So the pipeline feels healthy, and some of the next releases are in the late stages of layout, with art and maps aplenty. As always, there’s no commitment to publication dates — Chaosium don’t do that nowadays until a book is done and ready to ship.

And so to Q&A.

Will there be more of an “Apple Lane Campaign”?
The players’ home stomping grounds for most RQ:G material is assumed to be around that area, and several upcoming scenarios will tie in directly — including “Return to the Rainbow Mounds.”
Jeff waxes lyrical about the huge master-maps of Dragon Pass and Prax he’s been constructing from Greg Stafford’s originals. Working at this scale is illuminating — e.g., you can see the Block from Boldhome.

Maps of the Holy Country? Nochet City, Seapolis etc?
A Nochet book incl. a poster map of the city is well advanced, and a Seapolis adventure and pack is ready for final content-edits as soon as Nochet is nailed down.
Plus scenario packs and sourcebooks for Whitewall and Heortland, allowing the latter to be used as a RQ:G character homeland (incl. event tables for parents and grandparents).
Nochet works in two directions: while you can have plenty of adventures without ever leaving the city walls, on the other hand it’s easy to hop on a ship and sail off to distant Kralorela.

Jeff dilates on how Battle rules will work — they’ll be not so much a wargame (working out which side won), rather about adventurers’ experiences on the battlefield.
So the Battle rules are player-facing: they determine what your heroes did in the battle, rather than which side won. (“What happened when the Crater Makers hurled comets at our army?”)
Player characters need to make Passion or Runic inspiration rolls to take any action that will make a name for themselves (e.g., taking on an enemy champion in single combat) — otherwise, they’ll sensibly hunker down with their units.

The prime movers in the Hero Wars are Jar-eel and Argrath: they reflect each other, the “Yin and Yang” or the Holmes and Moriarty of the conflict. “The Hero Wars is the dance between Jar-eel and Argrath.”

MOB’s hope is that eventually new RQ books will be coming out every couple of months (the same pace as CoC). Once Jeff is sitting on a mountain of loot, he may return to the “Prince of Sartar” web comic: he’d love to keep it going, but it’s a time sink.”

29 October 2019

THE KRAKEN 2019 Report – A Different Perspective

I coerced my daughter into writing convinced my daughter Valentina Vacca to also write a report about THE KRAKEN. Since we took part in very different activities during the con, I think this very different perspective will make for an interesting addition to my own report. Enjoy!

Friday, 18 October

After at least ten hours of driving through France, Belgium, and Germany, we reached Schloss Neuhausen. We greeted long-time-no-seen friends and attended the ritual which would officially announce the beginning of our gaming retreat: the Opening Ceremony, with the presentation of the guests of honour (Sandy Petersen, Robin D Laws, Ken Rolston, Lynne Hardy, Jason Durall and Ian Cooper).

Then, after an awaited dinner, I started my very first game of the season: Siebenbürgen, a strategy game designed by my father Gianni Vacca, in which four ethnicities seek to develop their people in Romania, especially Transylvania, through four ages.

My brave Romanian people resisted the plague, the Mongol invasion, repelled the Hungarians, snuck between the Saxons, and saw their hills stolen by the evil Szeklers. Thanks to their ability to spread their Orthodox faith, they won the game in the end. Aaaaand led me to go to bed at 3 a.m.

Saturday, 19 October

Waking up after barely five hours of sleep was a difficult task, but not impossible. I managed to get out of bed and have a good breakfast. I needed to have some energy for the masterclasses to come: during these workshops, I took some precious notes for various purposes: my improv lessons, my theatre homeworks, and eventually my future scenarios, which I hope to GM.

Then came the famous Horror Lottery: this year I was not lucky— I was extremely lucky. I admit, I really enjoyed seeing all these jealous faces which talked to me with either amazement or kill rage: I was picked to be a player in Robin D Laws’ King in Yellow scenario and in this year’s Sandy Petersen horror scenario as well.

During the afternoon, no role-playing game yet, but I playtested a co-operative game called Perdition’s Mouth ran by its designer Timo Multamäki. A bunch of heterogeneous but skilful heroes seek to visit a dungeon deeper and deeper in order to destroy in its heart a Demon King. My epic dwarf had some fun by sending monsters and cultists to hell. So metal. I recommend it.

Then, the evening came, and serious business with it: it was time for Robin D Laws’ King in Yellow scenario: A Taste of Absinthe.

I absolutely do not want to spoil any detail of the scenario, but I certainly will remember this story – or was it real? I was a student in arts, my speciality was poetry. I entered a frightening, traumatising and horrific time loop which lead me to live again and again disturbing visions, of an apocalyptic and violent world that tried to pull me in more than once. Future, past, present, everything was the same, and all our actions were highly reflected… nobody wanted to literally beat him or herself to death, lose its face or be dragged and torn apart by enraged Parisians… you might think I am mad, but the illusions always have an inspiration that is rooted in reality. Simply drinking some alcohol with my friends and colleagues became a quest to save the world without succumbing to the temptation of reading that fascinating play: The King in Yellow. One thing is for sure: I will never write a poem that contains any of these letters again, ever: k, i, n, g, y, e, l, o, w.

Sunday, 20 October

True story: I actually was so anxious after my King in Yellow game that I drank a midnight beer to appease my spirits. A lime flavoured Beck’s. Don’t drink it. It’s absolutely disgusting. However, it helped me to go to bed with no fear, and I woke up full of energy. And what is the most obvious thing to do in the morning during a gaming convention? Playing Brains!, a game ran by Philip Glass in the Keller of the Schloss.

Now you maybe think that playing this game made me play a weak and panic-stricken human survivor during a Zombie Apocalypse. Absolutely not. It made me play a Zombie longing for some brains to devour. By playing a young lady that seemed to be twelve years old, any stupid human that had some empathy with my theatrical skills with me “playing dead” (even though I actually was dead) finished in my rotten stomach. What a way to fulfil one’s homicidal behaviour: we sure had loads of fun.

Unfortunately, I did not manage to attend the Dramatic Interaction Masterclass, the third workshop which interested me during the con. Luckily, it was then posted on YouTube and I was able to take my final precious notes:

After lunch, I played my second role-playing game won at the Horror Lottery: It has to start small by Sandy Petersen. How to describe this one? I was an elementary schoolteacher who just wanted to have fun with a man that she hoped would be her next boyfriend. But somehow, one my students knocked at my door saying his dad locked him in his room, after trying to force him to bring him to the forest by night. The poor fellow ran and escaped. This was alarming. Then, one other of my students – who really liked me – barged in saying his dad couldn’t bear the sunlight any longer. And going on and on, everybody came to my house (including my soon-to-become-my-boyfriend luckily). Eventually, that is how the story of how we saved the world by sacrificing ourselves began. We all died, but as heroes. And that eleven-year-old kid was sweet after all.

Finally, after dinner came my very last role-playing game for this year’s con: A Trip to the Lake, ran by Nikolas Tsamourtzis. I was exhausted, I was in a cellar: what could possibly have gone wrong? We all played stereotypical-slasher-teenage-characters and roleplayed it as a horror comedy movie. I for instance played a wallflower girl who actually was an expert in martial arts. The narrative system was very funny, as we often succeeded in what we decided to undertake but had to add something bad to the scene. And this is how my super badass action of throwing a rope with a knife around a three metre tall monster deer became ridiculous, when someone decided that the monster had to pull the rope to drag me to it. Well, we all managed to survive anyway. Once again, I highly recommend this narrative system!