07 September 2019

The Conspiracy Theory

Revolution D100 is an elegant iteration of the Basic Role-Playing System published by Alephtar Games. Of the many available flavours of the D100 System, each has its own benefits and flaws. What I particular like with Revolution D100 is that the skill creep that we may often experience with D100-based RPGs has been cleverly stemmed by having a limited set of skills that are subsequently expanded via traits.

Another great improvement over other D100-based RPGs is the concept of Conflict. Much like in a narrative RPG, instead of solving salient situations via a string of skill checks, important encounters/challenges/whatnot are framed within the scope of a Conflict. The party chooses a leading character who will face the enemy/threat with an appropriate skill. The other characters describe how they support the leading one, and Conflict points are gained or lost.

I have played in a variety of Revolution D100 campaign games, and I feel the system is best suited to complex, background-heavy settings such as historical, contemporary or sci-fi ones. It is hence a good piece of news that Alephtar Games have chosen a contemporary/mystery setting for their free Revolution D100 quick-start.

The free PDF is titled 'The Conspiracy Theory' and contains:
  • a four-page summary of the bare-bones rules
  • a 17-page adventure cleverly interspersed with extra rules when they are needed
  • pre-gens
  • a rules summary

You can download The Conspiracy Theory for free from DriveThruRPG.

20 July 2019

Cults of Glorantha

So the Gods & Goddesses of Glorantha book will be called Cults of Glorantha after all, and it will contain exactly 100 cult descriptions.

Here is the definitive list:
  1. Kyger Litor
  2. Anilla
  3. Aranea
  4. Argan Argar
  5. Gorakiki
  6. Himile
  7. Subere
  8. Xentha
  9. Xiola Umbar
  10. Zorak Zoran
  11. Magasta
  12. Choralinthor
  13. Dormal
  14. Engizi
  15. Oslira
  16. Ernalda
  17. Aldrya
  18. Asrelia
  19. Babeester Gor
  20. Caladra & Aurelion
  21. Donandar
  22. Eiritha
  23. Flamal
  24. The Grain Goddesses
  25. Hykim & Mykih
  26. Maran Gor
  27. Mostal
  28. Ty Kora Tek
  29. Uleria
  30. Voria
  31. Yelm
  32. Dayzatar
  33. Dendara
  34. Gorgorma
  35. Lodril
  36. Lokarnos
  37. The Lowfires
  38. Polaris
  39. Shargash
  40. Yelmalio
  41. Yelorna
  42. Orlanth
  43. Chalana Arroy
  44. Eurmal
  45. Issaries
  46. Lhankor Mhy
  47. Barntar
  48. Daka Fal
  49. Foundchild
  50. Heler
  51. Humakt
  52. Lanbril
  53. Mastakos
  54. Odayla
  55. Storm Bull
  56. Valind
  57. Waha
  58. Ygg
  59. Yinkin
  60. Horned Man
  61. Earth Witch
  62. Evening Star
  63. Frog Woman
  64. Kolat
  65. Morning Star
  66. Rainbow Girl
  67. Raven
  68. Six Sisters
  69. Sun Hawk
  70. Thunder Bird
  71. Travelling Stone
  72. Twin Sisters
  73. White Princess
  74. Robber
  75. Sky River Titan
  76. Oakfed
  77. Seven Mothers
  78. Danfive Xaron
  79. Deezola
  80. Etyries
  81. Hon-eel
  82. Hwarin Dalthippa
  83. Irrippi Ontor
  84. Jakaleel
  85. Nysalor
  86. Red Goddess
  87. Teelo Norri
  88. Yanafal Tarnils
  89. Yara Aranis
  90. Primal Chaos
  91. Bagog
  92. Cacodemon
  93. Crimson Bat
  94. Krarsht
  95. Krjalk
  96. Mallia
  97. Pocharngo
  98. Thanatar
  99. Thed
  100. Vivamort

I must confess I had no idea who the Lowfires, the Evening and the Morning Stars, the Rainbow Girl, the Six Sisters, the Twin Sisters, the White Princess, and the Robber were. I had to look them up in my PDF collection — and I still don't know who the Twin Sisters are (I thought the term referred to Asrelia and Ty Kora Tek, but they have their own entries). The Robber is still eluding me.

Also unsure whether “the Travelling Stone” refers to Larnste or to someone else.

02 July 2019

Back from the Eternal Con 2019

This is my traditional ‘Back from the Eternal Con’ blog post. For those who do not know, there’s been a Chaosium-friendly convention at Burg Stahleck each year during the Whit week-end, in a beautiful castle-turned-youth hostel overlooking the Rhine, for 23 years. The name of the con and its organisers have changed over time; it’s been called The Eternal Con for 10 years now, after having been the Tentacles convention (the original one) between 1996 and 2009. Bacharach (the quaint little town Burg Stahleck overlooks) is in Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the closest German states to the French border, so I always drive there. This year I have been even able to use my fantastic Christmas present... a 12V onboard espresso machine. The pleasure of drinking real coffee on the motorway is indescribable — I reckon even HP Lovecraft would have been at a loss for adjectives.

Anyway, after an uneventful Paris-Bacharach drive (we didn’t even run into any real Staus), my daughter, myself and fellow RQ enthusiast Patrick arrived to sunny Burg Stahleck to be welcomed by the organisers and given our room keys. For the first time, we had electronic keys meaning we didn’t have to rely on roommates to get the key to our room— every conventiongoer had theirs!

with daughter in front of the Schloss

the Schloss and the Rhine

Hobbit-sized beds :-(

In terms of room, we ended up in one in the basement I didn’t even know existed. Given the heat, it was a cracking location; however, the ceiling was pretty low and, even though we are not very tall, the hobbit-sized beds were quite uncomfortable.

The Eternal Con has always been a very family-friendly con, with many families and kids in attendance (see my previous blog posts), this year possibly even more so than the last years. Honestly, I was expecting a hellish week-end with lots of screaming kids but most of them were well-behaved and, except at lunch- and dinner-time, we barely noticed them, thanks to several staff members who kept looking after them.
This being a German con, in a German youth hostel, we had scarcely time to play one or two boardgames when dinner time hit us at six o’clock. Food was better than last year, even though it remains youth hostel fare, but it still remains millions of miles away from the delicate stuff you get at The Kraken.

FRIDAY 7 JUNE, EVENING, Grand Opening Ceremony
As mentioned in my introduction, this was the 10th Eternal Con but also the 23rd con at Stahleck, so much emphasis was put on pictures of the last cons during the opening ceremony. Even though the Eternal Con is supposed to be an international con, the attendance this year was mostly German. Luckily there was a large group of British and Dutch players, plus some from other countries, mostly Bulgaria and Finland.

After the ceremony ended, the game signup board was unveiled and, consistently with what I had noticed from the attendance, most games were in German! Also, having had a difficult and tiring first half of 2019, I hadn’t prepared any RPG session on my part. Luckily my Gloranthan boardgame prototype, Last Faction Hero, was well advanced in terms of development, and I had plenty of players volunteering to play.

Over breakfast, discussed the Bulgarian hobby scene with Antonia Doncheva from Sofia, who is among the organisers of През 9 земи (“over nine lands”), Bulgaria’s No.1 fantasy convention. Antonia is also an artist; you can see her art on p190 of the Glorantha Sourcebook, and she is currently drawing amazing art for the upcoming Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha books.

Even though Chaosium is a US company, many of its creative people live in Europe, and particularly in Germany. This is why German conventions have traditionally hosted Chaosium panels.
On Saturday at 10am, I attended the first panel, devoted to the various Chaosium games.

The speakers were Claudia Loroff, Kalin Kadiev and David Scott. Jeff Richard had been badly bitten by a bug, preventing him from travelling to Bacharach, and he was hence participating via an online video chat platform.

the Chaosium panel in the main room; Jeff is on the screen
Anyway, here are my notes.

Call of CthulhuLynne Hardy is now on board full-time as the Associate Editor for Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu line.
The Berlin - The Wicked City sourcebook/scenario book is out in dead tree format. Jeff emphasises how deeply rooted in the 1920s Berlin art scene the book is.

Cover art for the Berlin book; I love it!
The old out-of-print CoC scenarios are going to be gradually reprinted, but rewritten and with new art. “Rewritten” here doesn’t only mean updated for the 7th edition rules – the way RPG scenarios are written has evolved a lot since CoC was first published, so the rewriting may actually impact the contents of the scenario.

PendragonPendragon is back in the Chaosium fold.
The 5.2 edition, which was out-of-print, has been republished in dead tree format.
Next in the pipe are the Paladin QuickStarter (basically Pendragon set in Continental Europe), followed by Paladin Adventures.
There will be a Pendragon 6.0 edition on par with what has been done for CoC and RQ:G in terms of layout and artwork.
Possibly also a Pendragon Starter Set to lure younger players into the hobby; this will really be aimed at people with zero RPG experience.

AquelarreAn English-language version of the classic Spanish-language mediaeval role-playing game has been successfully crowdfunded, and Chaosium will distribute it in English-speaking countries once the Kickstarter project is fulfilled.

Social Media PresenceWith the demise of Google+, Chaosium is now focusing on Facebook and BRP Central. It’s too difficult to focus on more than two social networks.

BoardgamesMiskatonic University: The Restricted Collection is out. It plays in 20 to 30 minutes. The next boardgame out will be the Red Thread by Pedro Ziviani, then either Folklore (also by Pedro) or Credo (by Chris Gidlow).

7th Sea
Chaosium also brought in John Wick’s 7th Sea, a swashbuckling RPG with a strong player narrative side.

RuneQuest: Adventures in GloranthaJeff explains that RQ:G has to be viewed as a rule kit rather than a rule set. More than YGWV, you must think YRQWV— the game is yours to house rule.

There a quite a few books in the pipe, written by different people, so it’s not easy to say which one will be out first.

Jason Durall is working on The Smoking Ruins, a scenario book, which is soon going to be in layout. Even though there aren’t any hard ETAs, The Smoking Ruins should be the next book out, and we (the panel audience) are shown its cover, which is truly amazing.
The Smoking Ruins will be followed by The Pegasus Plateau, another book of scenarios, which will mostly be linked to famous locations in the Dragon Pass area.
Next will be the RuneQuest Starter Set, priced at around 20/25 euros.

Jeff Richard is (still) working on the Gods & Goddesses of Glorantha book. If you check my blog post dated 5 March 2019 you will notice that, at the time, Jeff was contemplating approximately 70 cults. The list of cults has now grown to 100! Jeff says the book is turning into the No.1 Glorantha resource after the Guide to Glorantha, and that it will be presented as a set of two books, possibly accompanied by a third book with all the spirit & Rune magic spells. There will also be maps of religions per area, like in an atlas of world religions.
I know I tend to be over-enthusiastic with regards to Gloranthan stuff, but the art of the Gods & Goddesses of Glorantha book we were shown is BEYOND AMAZING – it looked like it was from the art book of a Bronze Age exhibition from a major museum rather than from a role-playing game!

Another book Jeff is working on is the RuneQuest Campaign Book, a season-based, epic campaign set after the Dragonrise in the Dragon Pass area – your heroes get to play in the Hero Wars at last! The book will include rules for large-scale battles, magical artefacts, interactions with ‘super heroes’ (Argrath, Jar-eel…), hero-questing rules + events in the Lunar Empire during the Hero Wars. There will also be mythological maps.

Regarding the current US-China trade war and the foreseeable 25% increase in tariffs, Chaosium is obviously already looking at alternatives so as not to impact the customers, price-wise.

I had lunch with Claudia Loroff and Kalin Kadiev; we had a great chat about Bronze Age food because of a book Claudia is writing about Bronze Age food (and she’s personally testing all the recipes!). Our conversation addressed various subjects: food itself, seasons and weather, agriculture and grain goddesses in Glorantha, the importance of salt, the impact of all of this on how people live, how society is organised, how people preserve food… down to wayfood for player characters! I really think there could be cracking Gloranthan scenarios centred on food, about who owns the salt mine, about stealing all the cereals that have been stored or burning the rival clan’s grain…

More Last Faction Hero playtesting with friends. This provided fantastic feedback to improve the rules and add extra event cards.

Yay! Played a HeroQuest: Glorantha Mostali game set in 1653 refereed by Chaosium’s very own David Scott, mostly with UK players (and hence with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour). We got to manoeuvre Faced Statues* against a Chaos kaiju to save the world machine!
*they were exactly like the Faceless Statue except they had a face

a full-Mostali table

The traditional Trollball tournament took place in the morning (see trollball.eu if you want to take part in next year’s tournament). Last year’s tournament had been quite lacklustre. This year’s was massive: six teams, huge attendance, people with T-shirts of their favourite team... probably the best tournament of the last years. For the record, the Carcosan team won.

Trollball! picture by Heini

Trollball! picture by Heini

My daughter and I skipped lunch for a visit of the old town with Gwen Mott and Dan Barker. We talked over Flammkuchen about the possibility of an upcoming issue (No.21) of Tales of the Reaching Moon that David Hall, David Scott and Peter Erickson would like to publish via crowdfunding. For those of you who are not Glorantha fans (but then why are you reading this blog in the first place?), Tales of the Reaching Moon was an almost professionally-produced Gloranthan fanzine that was published in the UK between 1989 (issue No.1) and 2002 (issue No.20), i.e., during the bleakest days of our hobby. Tales of the Reaching Moon’s role was paramount in keeping the flame of Gloranthan fandom alive in the Great Darkness, so obviously talks about issue No.21 strongly sparked my interest. I hope I can tell you more about this worthwhile endeavour in a future blog post.

After a nice hike uphill to get back to the castle, we played a Call of Catthulhu adventure set in mediaeval Japan, refereed by Gwen. I played an earnest “twofootologist” (a cat who understands humans and studies their behaviour) while my daughter was playing our party’s ninja cat. It goes without saying that we managed to save humanity— and received a full year’s fish allowance as a reward.

bespoke Call of Catthulhu dice

the game as advertised on the signup board

As usual, the con was too short and before I knew it it was the Closing ceremony already. Also, as usual, it was sad. But fear not, there is a new Eternal Con next year, so let’s all meet between 29 May and 1 June 2020 at Burg Stahleck!

This year’s Eternal Con introduced a brand-new event and concept— the Art Fair. There were a half dozen artists presenting and selling their work, which ranged from traditional RPG art to oil paintings and to fantasy jewellery (my daughter bought a stunning Crimson Bat pendant by Dan Barker). The organisers said this section might grow in the future. I certainly hope it does. And if I may add a suggestion— T-shirts! I would have gladly purchased some of the art on a T-shirt rather than as a print.

The RuneQuest panel was the second panel this year. Since RQ:G had already been addressed during then Chaosium panel (see above), this was more like a Q&A session.

Q: Can you give us a heads-up regarding the Jonstown Compendium?
A: The Jonstown Compendium (a repository of fan-written RQ:G material, similar to what already exists for CoC called the Miskatonic Repository, and available via DriveThruRPG) is within Michael O’Brien’s able hands, and should be online soon.

Q: Can you give us a heads-up regarding the Nochet book?
A: The book is in preparation, being written by 5 different authors.

Q: Can you give us a heads-up regarding Gloranthan boardgames?
A: The Dragon Pass boardgame is in stand-by because Chris Klug is working on a Grazelanders book.

Q: Can you give us a heads-up regarding HeroQuest?
A: HeroQuest is undergoing a major overhaul (via the SRD being written by Ian Cooper, see my blog post dated 3 November 2018). When the SRD is ready, it will be open to anybody who wants to use that engine. Ian is also putting together an HQ superhero book, and another one based on 19th century Victorian literature that will emphasise social interactions.

Q: What about Claudia’s Gloranthan Cookbook?
A: It will actually be more like a Gloranthan travelogue with recipes from the various places the main character visits (see my discussion with Claudia above). The book is 80% written.

Q: What about the new Pavis & Big Rubble book?
A: Robin D Laws is half-way through the first book. The current ETA is a 2021 release for the two books together.

we do look like a cult, don't we?

I missed the traditional singalong because I had to leave early in the morning but I understand it wasn’t that different from last year’s singalong, about which you can read in my 2018 report.

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!