14 January 2023

Industry News (OGL Debacle, ORC, and Monster Revolution)

A lot has happened in our beloved RPG industry in the last few months and weeks.

First of all, Flying Buffalo has sold Tunnels & Trolls to Webbed Sphere, who has been basically sitting on the IP and doing nothing with it since the purchase. Fortunately, Ken St Andre kept the rights of Monsters! Monsters! (which is basically the same game as T&T but with a different title), and now all the new supplements are marketed for M!M!, for which a new edition is in the works. — But more about M!M! later.

However, the big talk of the moment amongst RPG enthusiasts is obviously the OGL debacle by WotC. For those who have lived under a stone since Christmas 2022 I’ll try and summarise what happened.

1. A new version of the so-called Open Gaming Licence (OGL) has been leaked (intentionally or not, who knows). This new version implies a much tighter control by WotC over what is published under the OGL and, more importantly, is supposed to retroactively replace the licence that has been in place since the early noughties and under which a ton of games and settings have been published.

2. There has been a general uproar by players, designers and publishers alike, and many reactions, from closing shops and removing OGL-based products to moving to a different engine altogether.

3. WotcC clumsily denied what happened and said the new licence would be reworked. But that was too late: Paizo is currently launching the Open RPG Creative Licence initiative, also known by its acronym ORC, with allies Kobold Press, Chaosium, and Legendary Games. Little is known about ORC, mostly that it will be  a system-neutral open RPG licence that can be freely used across the RPG industry.

Many companies are also offering cheap versions of their RPG engines to show creators that there is much to be found outside of the OGL and the D20 engine.

Chaosium, for instance, is selling the PDF versions of the Basic Role-Playing System, of the RQ Starter Set and of the CoC Starter Set for a mere 99¢ at DTRPG.

Back to M!M!— Ken St Andre is allowing third parties to use the M!M! engine for their own products for a small percentage of the generated revenue. 

The Lair of the Leopard Empresses by Sarah Newton is the first RPG that has been announced for this new licence. The game should be released in spring 2023 and it is expected to be a ~250-page game that will include a fully-fledged campaign, city maps and gazetteers, full rules, spells, magic, treasures, and an introductory adventure.

Erik Tenkar of Tenkar’s Tavern fame is also preparing a M!M! supplement titled Sovereign Monsters! under this new licensing agreement. See his posts here [edited 2023-01-17] and here.

Exciting times ahead!

04 November 2022

the Gateway Bestiary and the Barguest

In my latest blog post, I wrote about the Barguest and, not having the Meints Index to Glorantha (MIG) at hand, I thought it hadn't been described in RQ terms.

Well... yesterday night I retrieved my copy of the MIG from the cellar and, lo and behold!, it did mention the Barguest. The creature is listed as being described in the Gateway Bestiary. So I went to look for my signed* copy of the Gateway Bestiary, and yes there it was on p25, "a sort of fairy dog" whose description is actually more that of an undead dog. The main differences with 'my' take on the Barguest are as follows:

- it Demoralises rather than it inspires Fear
- it doesn't turn Invisible

So maybe now you can have two versions of the Barguest in your RQ games... A spectral one, and an undead one!

*I had to brag about it, didn't I? BTW the little-known Gateway Bestiary has an interesting story. When Sandy Petersen signed my copy, he told me this was how he was hired by Greg Stafford-- he went to Albany with the manuscript, and Greg said 'cool stuff, want a job?' and hired him.

Also (if I am not mistaken), Sandy's maiden publication is also the very first frp bestiary that, instead of merely listing its entries in an alphabetical order, has them grouped by type of creature.

01 November 2022

the Stafford House Campaign and the Barguest

I am currently reading ‘The Stafford House Campaign’, a collection of personal notes and of Amateur Press Association (APA) articles by
Greg Stafford. These essays are a narrative of his early RuneQuest campaigns (“expeditions” as he calls them) interspersed with various commentaries, musings and Q & As with other APA contributors.

The book is invaluable for the insight it provides on the very early years of our hobby in general, and on the birth of Glorantha as a frp setting in particular.

You may read my various thoughts about the book here.

One item that struck my fancy is the mention, on p52, of an expedition to ‘release the barguest’. Now I don’t have my Meints Index to Glorantha available right now, but I don’t recall the “barguest” as being a RuneQuest creature.

A friend kindly pointed out that there is a Barghest (with an ‘h’) on p6 of All the Worlds’ Monsters, vol.2.

As a tribute to Greg Stafford’s early RQ expeditions, I present you the Barghest from All the Worlds’ Monsters, vol.2 converted to RuneQuest using Steve Perrin’s conversion guidelines from All the Worlds’ Monsters, vol.3.


Type: Undead Spirit

Description: a large spectral hound that may become invisible, and only while invisible will it shriek.


STR 4D6 avg. 14

SIZ 4D6 avg. 14

POW 3D6 avg. 10-11

DEX 2D6+3 avg. 10

The number of hit points of a Barghest equals its POW, hence its hit points equal its magic points. If reduced to zero hit points or magic points, it is destroyed forever.

Move: 10

Base SR: 5

Armour: 5-point spectral hide

Skills: Dodge 50%, Jump 45%, Listen 30%, Spirit combat 50%, Swim 55%, Track 50%.

Magic: The Barghest may spend 3 magic points to turn Invisible.


Bite 40% Dmg 2D8+1D4 SR 9

Claw 40% Dmg 1D8+1D4 SR 9

Special attack

Shriek (SR 1): All those hearing the shriek must roll their POW vs the monster’s POW on the Resistance Table or be paralysed with fear for 2D6 combat rounds.

Special defence

A Barghest can only be damaged by magic, e.g., a sword with Bladesharp 4 would do 4 points of damage; Fireblade 3D6 damage. True Weapon spells do normal damage.

The Barghest is completely immune to emotion-affecting magic such as Befuddle, Demoralise, and Fear.

07 January 2022

Culbrea after the Dragonrise

The following piece of news is from the latest episode of the God Learners podcast.

A new official supplement, Culbrea after the Dragonrise, is in the works! The tribe and its territory will be presented in Starter Set-style simplicity as a setting for a Sartarite campaign The authors have described it as a kind of sandbox with a few scenarios that open up to wider adventures.

13 December 2021

Beware Online Scams!

 Let's call this a "public service announcement". It's actually a Facebook post from a friend that I am propagating.

In light of a recent noticeable increase in scam dice shop ads popping up on Facebook, I'd like to issue a warning not to buy from stores or upon seeing dice ads with prices that seem too good to be true. Because they always are.
Here's an example in the photos of a store called Cowboykm that is using a photo stolen from Norse Foundry of an amethyst set they offer for $1.99, when the actual Norse Foundry price is $90. Other names I've recently seen used are Universemallse and Diceshops.shop / Diceshopsv.
These stores usually use stolen photos of high end dice from other brands or independent makers and offer them at prices that no reputable store could make or sell them for. The latest marketing ploy also seems to be "we are closing our store" or "giveaway" messaging.
These shops make their money by charging inordinate amounts of shipping costs, and often they send the customer cheap acrylic dice that look similar enough that they hope people will not complain.
I have a long list of such stores on my dice blog (https://www.virtual-dreams.org/dice/scammer-dice-shops/). I've been collecting names since November last year, the list has grown to an impressive listing of 82 shop names by now. Feel free to pass names along to me that aren't listed.

Please share this in other dice or role-playing groups. The more people know about this, the better.

22 November 2021

The RuneQuest RPG Wiki

The RuneQuest RPG Wiki is online at long last! Not to be confused with the fan-created Glorantha Wiki, which tackles Gloranthan lore, the RuneQuest RPG Wiki has been created and is maintained by the Chaosium and is solely about the game’s rules.

The RuneQuest RPG Wiki can be seen as an online extension of sorts of the RuneQuest Starter Set: since the latter does not contain a character generation chapter, or the full details of all the RQ weapons, etc., you can now find them online on the wiki.

from the RQ wiki

You can now spend a mere €25 for the RuneQuest Starter Set and have anything else missing available at your fingertips via the RuneQuest RPG Wiki. No more excuses for playing inferior role-playing systems!

17 November 2021

Ultra-Fast Aldryami Character Generation

The day before yesterday, I wrote that the RuneQuest Starter Set contained all the rules needed to play RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha except for character generation.

So if you’re not particularly interested in the intricacies of Gloranthan lore, but rather in RuneQuest as a TTRPG engine, you may well purchase the Starter Set and simply use my character generation posts to create your RQ adventurers. You will also need the PDF of the Classic Edition (for weapon stats and for critters), and the Red Book of Magic if you fancy a larger choice of spells.

I have already blogged about the generation of human adventurers. Today we are creating Aldryami player characters in eight easy steps:
1. Passions
2. Rune affinities
3. Characteristics
4. Starting Skills
5. Occupation
6. Cult
7. Personal skill bonuses
8. Misc.

1. Passions

Choose three starting Passions at 60% amongst the ones listed on p17 of Book 1: Rules of the Starter Set. Elves would typically have at least two of the following passions: Hate (Dwarves), Hate (Trolls), Loyalty (Elder Sister), and Loyalty (Great Tree).

2. Rune affinities

2a. Elemental Runes

Male adventurers start with the Fire/Sky Rune at 60%, females with the Earth Rune at 60%. Choose another Elemental Rune (except Darkness) that starts at 40%, and yet another at 20%.

2b. Power Runes

You may choose a Power Rune (it cannot be Death) that starts at 75%.

2c. Form Runes

All Elves start with the Plant Rune at 75% and the Man Rune at 25%, meaning that the Man-Beast axis on p1 of the adventurer folio is replaced with a Man-Plant axis.

3. 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.

INT and DEX cannot be among the four lowest characteristics. STR cannot be among the three highest.

4. Starting Skills

Use the values on p2 of the adventurer folio, with the following changes:

Climb 70%
Swim 05%

Elf Lore 25%
First Aid 25%
Plant Lore 50%

Spirit Combat 50%
Worship (...) 30%

Conceal 20%

Elfsense 40%
Listen 45%
Track 25%

Hide 25%
Move Quietly 25%

Attacks - Weapon
Elf Bow 35%
Short Spear 20%
Shortsword 20%
Sing 25%
Small Shield 25%

5. Occupation

Choose an occupational category for your adventurer, and add the relevant skill bonuses:

Communication: Bargain +10
Knowledge: Evaluate +5, Lore (...) +10, Plant Lore +30, Speak Other Language (Tradetalk) +10
Manipulation: Conceal +10, 1st Craft +30, 2nd Craft (can be the same) +10
Perception: Elfsense +5, Insight (Elf) +5
Attacks - Weapon: Elf Bow +10

Agility: Dodge +5
Communication: Orate +5
Knowledge: Animal Lore +5, Elf Lore +10, First Aid +5, Homeland Lore (own forest) +5, Plant Lore +25, Speak Other Language (Tradetalk) +5
Perception: Elfsense +15, Listen +5, Scan +5, Search +5
Attacks - Weapon: Elf Bow +20, Short Spear +10, Shortsword +10

Agility: Dodge +20
Knowledge: Homeland Lore (own forest) +20
Perception: Elfsense +5
Stealth: Hide +15, Move Quietly +15
Attacks - Weapon: Elf Bow +25, Short Spear +20, Small Shield +15

Communication: Dance +5, Sing +15
Knowledge: Alchemy +5, Cult Lore (...) +15, First Aid +15, Lore (...) +5, Plant Lore +25, Treat Disease +15, Treat Poison +5.
Magic: Meditate +5, Spirit Combat +10, Worship (...) +15.

6. Cult

Your adventurer starts off as already being an Initiate of a cult. Elf adventurers are overwhelmingly initiates of Aldrya, which brings the following benefits:

You receive an elf bow, a living plant-weapon that provides you a source of 2D6+2 extra magic points in spellcasting.
The elf bow has the same stats as the composite bow from the pregen folios (except that it has 6 HPs).

You distribute +45 skill points among three or four of the following skills:
Agility: Climb
Communication: Sing
Knowledge: Cult Lore (Aldrya), First Aid, Plant Lore, Read/Write Aldryami
Magic: Meditate, Worship (Aldrya)
Manipulation: Conceal
Perception: Listen, Search, Track
Stealth: Hide, Move Quietly
Attacks - Weapon: Elf Bow, Short Spear

You also get to choose 5 points of Spirit Magic amongst the cult’s available spells: Befuddle, Countermagic, Dispel Magic, Extinguish, Heal, Light, Mobility, Multimissile, Repair, Second Sight, Shimmer, Silence, Speedart, and Vigour. Your adventurer receives 3 Rune points dedicated to their cult and is taught the Rune spell Arrow Trance. You also choose an extra Passion at 60% amongst the following ones: Devotion (Aldrya), Loyalty (Great Tree/Elder Sister).

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.

Determine Age (21±2D8)

Add +1D6+6 to Reputation.

Add +1D20 to a single Passion.

Add +10% to a single Perception or Stealth skill of your choice.

Equipment: leather armour, a small shield, a short spear, a shortsword, and any equipment appropriate to your occupational category.