08 December 2017

Issues 1 to 10 of French RPG Magazine "Runes" Online

French humour
Runes was a French RPG fanzine/magazine that lasted but ten issues, from issue No.1 of January 1983 to issue No.10 dated “Q1 1985”. The short existence of Runes coincides with my discovery of role-playing games (I had only been playing wargames before that).

Runes was written and published by the Toulousian circle of gamers. At the time, in France, there weren't many RPGers, and they were mostly centred in Paris, Nice and Toulouse. I also happened to live in Toulouse at the time, and I remember vivid fan discussions with the Runes team at the Relais Descartes gaming shop in the centre of Toulouse.

Despite its name, Runes published almost only AD&D and Call of Cthulhu articles and scenarios — it made sense since AD&D and CoC remained the two most popular RPGs in France for a very long time. Yet there were also a few Traveller articles, a DragonQuest one, several RuneQuest ones, one in particular that I remember that described all the classic RQ campaigns in issue No.8. RuneQuest was also introduced as “the most elegant RPG” in issue No.3.

From a graphical point of view, the layout was rather crude, but the covers were beautiful, and there were some funny vignettes (see above).

To drive down nostalgia lane, it's here.

06 December 2017

T&T News

Busy days, so short posts. Steve Crompton of Tunnels and Trolls has announced some exciting news about T&T!

1) An English-language compendium of translated material from the pages of the Japanese T&T magazine called T&T Adventures Japan: Solitaire Adventures, Game Master Scenarios, whatnot. All with delightful Japanese illos.

2) Vaults of K’horror, a gothic-horror fantasy GM adventure by A.K. Holmes — and actually the first one in 20+ years. As a bonus, the book will include an original K’horror mini-solo adventure, written by Ken St André, that connects to the GM adventure.

As usual, I reckon these will ship for ridiculous prices to Europe, so I’ll have to content myself with the PDFs 🙁

05 December 2017

RuneQuest: Fantasy Earth & More

According to information gathered from people who were attending the RuneQuest panel at Dragonmeet in London this past week-end, and from an interview of Jeff Richard and Jason Durall at AetherCon, the next big batch of books for RuneQuest once the various RuneQuest: Glorantha books (core rules, bestiary, GM pack) are completed is going to be a series of historical/fantasy campaign books set in the 10th century AD.

The first one will be a re-working of Mythic Iceland, and the following ones are rumoured to be about Constantinople and the Arabian Nights.

On a parallel note, The Design Mechanism have announced Mythic Constantinople, a supplement describing 15th-century Constantinople at the time of the Ottoman conquest, with rules for Christianity, Islam, and some uchronic pagan cults. The book should also contain details on the factions, institutions, guilds and military orders of the city on the Bosphorus, plus “Old School”-like random tables to create scenario seeds for busy referees.

It will be interesting to compare the two Constantinople books and, why not, set up a time-travel campaign between the 10th and the 15th Century!

01 December 2017

Dealing With Demons – Parts Two and Three

Dave Morris has posted Parts Two and Three of his iconic series about demons that had been published in White Dwarf at the time when it was a role-playing magazine and not a miniatures catalogue, resp. in issues 45 and 46.

28 November 2017

[podcast] Gaming as Mythic Exploration

This podcast about 'Gaming as Mythic Exploration' is from a session at Gen Con (2014, I do not know why it has only resurfaced now) that had assembled an incredible panel: Greg Stafford, Ken Hite, and Lillian Cohen-Moore. These are all great panellists, great game designers, but oh my God is Greg good. I would say this podcast reminds us yet again why we are such big fans of his :-)

The panellists talk about myth, legend, their place in society, in our collective psyche, and how to translate that at the gaming table and/or through game design. It's pure gold.

For those who do not like to listen to podcasts, there is also a full transcript; both podcast and transcript are available here.

27 November 2017

The Language of Kralorela (Part Two)

As written in the Guide to Glorantha (p55):
“Written Kralorelan uses a logographic script devised in the God Time by a student of NiangMao and perfected by Emperor Shavaya. The characters capture the special characteristics that set apart each and every thing on the earth. The script is primarily used for seals and engraving; a less exact but easier to write derivative script devised by Emperor Mikaday is used for most purposes.”
In my campaign, I call these two styles respectively the seal style and the regular style. Both are extremely difficult and time-consuming to learn, being thus the province of aristocrats and scholars. Over time, and in particular at the time of ShangHsa and his God Learner companions, a simpler, non-logographic system was devised, which I call the demotic style, and which is only used by commoners. Its use by aristocrats or scholars entails a loss of Reputation of 1D4%.

Examples of the seal and regular styles can be seen in the Guide to Glorantha, respectively on pages 744-746 and on page 266.

The classical Kralori writing system in both its seal style and its regular style has been adapted by most other Vithelan languages (notably Imperial and Tanyen).
The debased writing system has been adopted by the Ignorants and adapted to write Stultan.

Here is how the phonemic demotic style works:

Clearly denoting God Learner influence, the shapes of the consonants and of the vowels are based on the standard runes the God Learners popularised over Glorantha at the height of their power.

The vowels have been drawn from the Elemental Runes:

Darkness - u
Water - i
Earth - e/ɛ
Air - o/ɔ
Fire/sky - a
Moon - mute/very short vowels

The consonants have been drawn from the other Runes; opposite pairs denote consonantal pairs:

Beast - k
Man - g
Fertility - t
Death - d
Harmony - p
Disorder - b
Truth - f
Illusion - v
Stasis - m
Movement - n
Movement (reversed) - ŋ
Luck - s
Fate - z
Dragonewt - ʃ
Dragon - ʒ

Pairless runes are used for unopposed consonants:

Law - l
Plant - r
Spirit - h
Chaos - q

Less-used runes play the role of diacritics:

Mastery - preceded by semi-vowel
Magic - followed by semi-vowel
Infinity - gemination

Each syllable is written separately within an imaginary square of the same size and shape as a regular character, e.g, Godunya [go - du - nja] is written

21 November 2017

Interview with Rob Heinsoo & Jonathan Tweet

I do not mention podcasts very often on this blog, but the latest Tableplay Podcast with Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet gives a lot of insight into the creation process behind their 13th Age in Glorantha role-playing game, and so it is almost compulsory listening for all Gloranthan fans out there.

You can find it here.

17 November 2017

Dealing With Demons – Part One

When you talk about RuneQuest and Old School, you inevitably think White Dwarf – at least if you are 40~50 years old and European.

One series of RQ articles we all remember fondly (even if it was “Gateway”, i.e., not set in Glorantha) was the one about demons and demonology. The first instalment in the series, titled “Dealing With Demons”, appeared in White Dwarf issue No.44 (August 1983). The good news is that it has just been made available on Dave Morris' blog. Enjoy!

13 November 2017

The Language of Kralorela (Part One)

(warning: rants about my pet Gloranthan peeve)

Even though Kralorela is supposed to be the ‘Chinese’ counterpart to the Western lands of Genertela, the Kralorelan language has never sounded Chinese in Greg’s writings.
If you look at the Kralorelan chapter of Revealed Mythologies, for instance, you can read the following:

 - Place Names
  • Abzered
  • Hemkarba
  • Hesezmedi
  • Kerandaruth
 - Emperors, false emperors and heroes
  • Daruda
  • Godunya
  • Heen Maroun
  • Heseroon Marn
  • Mao Tzen
  • Metsyla
  • Mikaday
  • Sekever
  • Shang Hsa
  • Shavaya
  • Tarn Gat Ha
  • Thalurzni
  • Vashanti
  • Vayobi
  • Yanoor

Honestly, among all the above names, there aren’t many that sound even remotely Chinese; maybe Mao Tzen and Shang Hsa do. On the contrary, most are multi-syllabic names, quite unlike what one would spontaneously think of as ‘Chinese’. This is the reason I was so disappointed when I read actual Chinese words in the Guide to Glorantha, e.g., Lungren Men (p271) or Lingnao Qiao (p274). So why do I hate the latter?

1- As written above, Greg’s original Kralorelan place and people names sound nothing like ‘Chinese’.

2- Kralorela is supposed to be vaguely inspired by China, not to be its exact equivalent in Glorantha, so please no actual translations. Just when we got rid of the faux Viking names in Dragon Pass!

3- OK, let’s assume (for argument’s sake) that it is OK to equate Kralorelan with Chinese. Well, even if this assumption is true, Kralorela is still supposed to be Bronze Age China, not Qing China. Yet the Chinese words used above (e.g., 橋 qiáo for bridge) are the contemporary Mandarin words, i.e., the ones heavily influenced by Manchu pronunciation after the Manchu conquest of North China at the end of the 17th century. If Kralorela is equated with Bronze Age China, let us at least use the pre-Qing pronunciation of Chinese. For the word 橋 (bridge) this would be something along the lines of “giew”. But since, again, we are rather looking at a Bronze Age version of China, the reconstructed Old Chinese pronunciation of the word 橋 would be even better, i.e., “graw” or “grew” depending on which particular reconstruction you favour.
Lingnao Qiao (Dragon's Head Bridge) would thus become Roongnoo Graw, which still retains an imperceptible Chinese flavour but at least is slightly more similar to Greg's naming scheme.

(to be continued)

30 October 2017

Revolution D100: Edición en Castellano

According to a press release by Spanish publisher HT Publishers, the innovative D100-based role-playing game Revolution D100 will be translated to Spanish — if the soon-to-be-launched crowdfunding campaign is successful.

29 October 2017

Revolution D100: Hardcover Crowdfunding & Free QuickStart

Well, the title of this post pretty much sums it all up: Alephtar Games have started a crowdfunding campaign to fund a hardcover edition of their narrative D100-based game, Revolution D100. It is currently running on ulule, and if you pledge you get an extra reward (an out-of-print supplement, a deck of cards, or something else they will work out upon request during the crowdfunding campaign).

Also of importance, if you just want to discover this excellent mash-up of narrative and gritty mechanics, you may download the free QuickStart rules, which also contain a contemporary occult scenario. Very recommended.

27 October 2017

THE KRAKEN 2017 Report


Text by yours truly, with help from Andrew Jones and Patrick Soulignac. As always, the bad-looking pictures below are by yours truly, whereas the nice-looking ones are by friends, and in particular by Aliénor and Toumy, photographers extraordinaire!

This year THE KRAKEN, the traditional German “gaming vacation” for fans of (mostly) Chaosium (or Chaosium-inspired) games and boardgames, took place from 20 to 23 October; unlike last year, there was a possibility to start attending on 18 October, but I was busy with family-related business in another part of Germany, and this was hence not an option for me. Anyway all the panels etc. are strictly within the Friday-to-Monday time frame to coincide with the presence of 90% of the attendees.

For those unfortunate fellows who do not know THE KRAKEN, it takes place in a German château in the less inhabited part of Germany – in the former GDR to be more precise. This ensures that no distractions get in the way of what this gaming vacation is all about: playing, gaming, and talking about our hobby. If you are not a Luddite like yours truly, you will be happy to find that the château provides free Wi-Fi which, much to my chagrin, works exceedingly well. As a result, there were some attendees who spent a great deal of their time on their evil little mobile devices instead of playing and consorting with fellow gamers. Why anybody would travel to the most isolated part of Germany to spend their time on their tablet or their smartphone when you can do that at home with the cat purring on your lap is beyond me. But then I am told I am a man of the 20th century.

Anyway, enough of my curmudgeonly ranting, and back to the report.


Because of the family-related business mentioned above, I managed to arrive at noon, in time for the very first pantagruelian repast of THE KRAKEN. Each year, the château's cooks and pastry-makers do their utmost to please our palates with superb food – and there are vegetarian and vegan options too! Oh, and did I mention free German beer?

Around lunch time I had a chat with Nikolas Tsamourtzis, the author of the German indie sci-fi rpg Ultima Ratio. The game has proved quite successful in Germany, and it now has a second edition of the basic rules, which can be download for free from RPGnow. By popular demand, there will be a fantasy version of the game, which won't be set in a vanilla fantasy world but in a very special one in the future, in the past, or in a parallel dimension of the canonical setting. I think that's a cool idea – I wish there were something similar for Glorantha!

FRIDAY 20 OCTOBER, afternoon

First playtesting session of v4.2 of my very own boardgame called Gloranthan Realms. I had lots of useful input from my players, and in particular much professional advice from Lincoln Petersen.

THE KRAKEN is indeed always a good time to test one's prototypes with very demanding and jaded players. This year there was a particularly large amount of boardgame prototypes, both amateur and professional. Given the short duration of the “gaming vacation” (THE KRAKEN used to last longer in its early editions), I could only participate in a single playtesting session, much about that later, but simply watching the prototypes and people playing them was an enjoyable experience.

I also managed to have a chat about the next Chaosium boardgames with Susan and Michael O'Brien, who are in charge of this line of products at Chaosium. It appears Chaosium are aiming at two new boardgames per year; the schedule is “full” until 2019 but Chaosium are definitely accepting submissions (link).
Whilst the latest Cthulhu boardgame (Miskatonic University: the Restricted Collection) seems to be nearing completion, I was told Dragon Pass was nowhere near that and that we wouldn't be seeing any of it before 2019.

Miskatonic University: the Restricted Collection is an extremely fast-paced filler game where you play a university professor at Miskatonic University trying to get more forbidden information from the occult section of the library than the other players. Sacrificing your students to advance closer to your goal is strongly encouraged. The luck element is maybe too strong but overall it is a fast and fun little cynical game.

FRIDAY 20 OCTOBER, evening

At 9pm, the traditional opening ceremony was held, in the presence of the guests of honour: Jason Durall, Lynne Hardy, Mike Mason, Susan and Michael O'Brien, Sandy Petersen, Jeff Richard, Neil Robinson, and Ken Rolston.

At 10pm, the game sign-up started, accompanied by the traditional scuffle to write your name on the board under the name of the game you wanted to play. Life can be harsh at THE KRAKEN.
You could not sign up for the games refereed by the guests of honour; those were labelled separately, set apart for the eventual winners of the traditional lottery. Life can be miserable at THE KRAKEN.

Anyway, after the big scuffle, I played in one of the playtest boardgames mentioned above. It was a very unusual and unsettling narrative boardgame: Topi (designer & narrator) drew cards with different colours, Gloranthan runes, and values on them. One of us players would also draw a card and, by comparing the two cards, Topi would improvise a “chapter” of the story. Our character sheets only had Gloranthan runes and a singe special power, and we could influence the outcome of the chapter by making use of them. It was extremely interesting — I have only two caveats:
1- You need über Glorantha geeks to play.
2- The narrator's role is much more prominent than the players', which can be frustrating at times.


There's so much going on at THE KRAKEN at any given moment, and most notably panels. Given my other commitments, I could only attend the Saturday morning one: How To Write A Scenario, hosted by Mike M, Jeff R, Jason D, and Lynne H.
It was more like a workshop than a mere panel, as the public was asked to participate a lot, with our input being first written on small post-it notes and then re-organised per subject. As said, it was a very active workshop, and I couldn't take not of everything, but here are the items that I found particularly interesting:

  • No information overkill, no monster zoo.
  • No exaggeratedly convoluted background.
  • Avoid text boxes to be read out loud to your players.

The workshop then drifted to How To Write A Scenario for Chaosium, sort of— we were reminded that Chaosium is always looking for scenarios, not necessarily to be published within a scenario pack, but also as downloadable PDFs or to be provided as introductory scenarios at conventions. By the way, the submission guidelines are here. Anyway, should you want to write for Chaosium, think about the following questions, and try to find answers:

What's your purpose? What are the characters supposed to do? Start aiming for the 6,000 to 10,000-word scenario, i.e., a scenario that contains one challenge, one encounter. Provide pre-gens: they give an idea of the kind of player characters the scenario has been written for, even if they are not used by the referee and his or her players.

Question No.2: Can the scenario be summarised in a short paragraph? If not, well, it means you as a writer do not know where you're going!

Another panel, which I missed, was titled “Meet the Rune Czars”. For those old enough to remember, Ken Rolston was dubbed the Rune Czar back in the 90s when he managed to bring out a series of excellent RuneQuest supplements at a time when Avalon Hill seemed intent on destroying our favourite role-playing game. Well, Ken has passed on his crown to Jeff Richard. Said crown appears to be a tea cosy. Then Jeff went on talking about Chaosium's publication pipe. Again, I was not present, but apparently he did mention the Nochet book. More than 400 pages have been written, and the current scope is to make the book slimmer by only keeping the best stuff. There aren't any illustrations yet. The systemless Glorantha sourcebook (the one from the 13th Age in Glorantha kickstarter) is currently in layout— its development has been quiet in recent months, so it was good to hear that it's been actively worked upon. This was followed by some information about Glorantha for those not too familiar with Greg Stafford's universe. No particular revelations for readers of this blog.


The traditional lottery took place just before noon. Alas, my name was not drawn. After the lottery, I had a short but very interesting discussion with Jason, Jeff and Neil about the cost of Spirit Magic Spells. The basic process was as follows: we know that a well-off farmer has a yearly surplus of about 40 L, we know that heavy leather armour costs 40 L, so what should a point of Protection cost? What about several points of Protection, i.e., does Protection 3 cost three times as much as Protection 1, or six times as much (1+2+3)? And then this kind of consideration was extended to all the list of Spirit Magic Spells. Very nerdy, very enjoyable.

SATURDAY 21 OCTOBER, afternoon

Believe it or not, I had never played in a Delta Green game. This sad state of affairs came to an end with my being a player in Kali Ghati, refereed by the amiable Andrew Kenrick. We were a bunch of Delta Green agents stationed in Afghanistan and sent to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a fellow Delta Green agent near a US compound in Paktika province, a multi-ethnic tribal province in the south-eastern part of the country. When the nearby tribe said that there were “bad Muslims” in the mountains, I knew we were up for trouble! Anyway, a solid scenario, with a good mix of investigation and action, and with a clever twist during the final confrontation. Very enjoyable.
I also discovered during the game that Delta Green was now a fully-fledged, independent game, and not a CoC 'sub-game' any longer. Some of its rules are actually pretty cool, and I wish our keeper would use them in our current CoC campaign, like for instance the 'adaptation to violence and to helplessness' system, and the player bonds.

Later in the afternoon, we spoke with Jeff about the upcoming books. Chaosium do realise they have a production bottleneck at the moment. Designwise, they are looking to deliver the best layout they can, with RuneQuest Glorantha and 13th Age in Glorantha in particular. Jeff was showing us artwork he had commissioned from the upcoming titles– the aim is to have the same high standard of art as that was commissioned for the Guide to the Glorantha, and also to reinforce the distinctive setting of Glorantha and get away from any faux-mediaeval art. The new art is spectacular, and the art styles are diverse. My personal favourite is Michelle Lockamy's astonishing art; have a look at her web-site here and you will understand what I mean. I find her use of colour particularly enchanting, and reminiscent of early 20th century European fairy tale illustrations.

New maps have been commissioned and they too look distinctive and evocative and in a different style to the last set of evocative maps to HeroQuest Glorantha and 13th Age in Glorantha, more in the style of what French role-playing games provide.

RuneQuest Glorantha is still tentatively scheduled for a December release in PDF, and 2018 in dead tree format. Character sheets were shown– and seem to be the subject of internal discussion on further revision. By the way, no word on the Nochet supplement (but other conventiongoers have had differing reports, see Saturday morning above).


I have known Philip Glass as a fellow con attendee since the times of Tentacles. He regularly organises freeforms, and he also runs RPG sessions using his own system called the Impromptu RPG Engine. I remember I had played in one of his games about six years ago. Well, what a difference six years make; Philip has refined his system and it is now very efficient and very enjoyable, somewhat reminiscent of Sarah Newton's Effect Engine: it uses only d6's, and the same roll yields both the success/failure and its quality. A further nice feature of the Impromptu RPG Engine is its system of dice pool that adds a layer of 'resource management' that can make you quite nervous at the end of the scenario, when you don't have many dice left and you know you are about to play the climactic scene! Very recommended.

SUNDAY 22 OCTOBER, early morning

I had a serendipitous chat with Ian Cooper, Chaosium's line editor for HeroQuest. Alas, Ian confirmed there was not much in the pipe for HeroQuest in the short term, but he also gave me a piece of secret information that will make HQ fans happy when it's revealed, especially if they're into trying out non-Gloranthan HQ material. He also reminded us fans that we can submit HQ material for Wyrms Footnotes – the submissions guidelines are available here. Anyway, Ian Cooper is keen to produce some material to support adventuring in Pamaltela. We will see.

SUNDAY 22 OCTOBER, morning

I managed to convince Susan and Michael O'Brien to play a game of Gloranthan Realms. The game played really fast and fun, and they liked it! Yours truly will now officially submit it to Chaosium. Watch this space...


I took advantage of the 'Sign My Books & Games' session to chat with Sandy Petersen about the Gods War, his jumbo boardgame about, er, the Gods War in Glorantha. Turns out production is late in China; nothing serious, though, we should be seeing prototypes soon.

SUNDAY 22 OCTOBER, afternoon

Fellow Gloranthaphile Jean-Christophe Cubertafon treated us to a masterful investigative adventure set in Nochet. It all starts when a shady Lunar trader asks the local Ernalda temple to examine an incredibly ancient Arkati tome he has 'found' to ascertain whether it is genuine or not. The Kev seeress from the party divines that the book was written on Dorastor vellum and infused with Deception to force its reader to do a wrong heroquest. I won't say any more in order not to spoil the adventure, which might be published by Chaosium (and which might be an incentive to resume work on the vapourware-ish Nochet book).

SUNDAY 22 OCTOBER, evening

Yet another Gloranthan Realms playtesting session. It was also fully satisfying; what was not satisfying was that I had also brought my other finished boardgame to THE KRAKEN: Siebenbürgen, an historical boardgame, hoping to run a few playtesting sessions. However, this being THE KRAKEN, everybody wanted to play the Gloranthan game.

Meanwhile, Andrew played in Ian Cooper's second session of the Robin D. Laws THE KRAKEN chapbook scenario “the Mother of Monsters”. Here's what Andrew tells: The scenario was slimmed down and restructured a little after its first run through. Set in Nikosdros and the region of Cerngoth in Pamaltela. Ian provided some partial pre-gens and I went for an ambitious haughty sorcerer who is given a mission impossible which if successful will be the making of him in the political structure. The other player characters were of a lower social standing including some Orlanthi sailors. Ian and I dove into the Cerngoth class system with gusto, when required– it's almost as if we understand ossified class ridden social-economic and political systems first hand...
As the scenario is newly published, I won't go into much detail, but much of it consists of dealing with chaotic creature hatchings. I enjoyed the fumble (natural 20) as much as the successes and it was a joy to play with other Gloranthaphiles. It was a fitting end to THE KRAKEN gaming period proper.

Very late at night, we convened with the crazy Scandinavians in the cellar of the château to sing the traditional Lovecraftian chant-along whilst sipping glass after glass of redoubtable aquavit.

MONDAY 23 OCTOBER, morning

The saddest part of THE KRAKEN is the Closing Ceremony. It's tough when you realise the next time you'll see all your friends is one year in the future.
Yes, friends, and not 'fellow gamers'— given the limited attendance, when you come back each year like yours truly, you end up becoming friends with pretty much everybody.

a gift from Maltese friends

I haven't spoken much about the organisation. What can I say; if you don't notice it, it means it is perfect, so kudos to Fabian Küchler and to all the organisers, and see you next year: THE next KRAKEN is 19-22 October 2018, and my agenda is already booked.

happy conventiongoers

Yet despite the near perfection of the organisation, my two euro-cents about what I think could be improved:
1- Maybe it's me ageing, but I sometimes felt that the level of noise was unbearable, especially in the larger halls. I reckon a few mobile partitions could do the trick.
2- Remove the wireless internet access! We do not want any distractions from gaming!

11 September 2017

I like D&D and I like Glorantha...

...what should I do?

Purchase 13th Age in Glorantha when it's out, and play it, that's what you should do!

01 July 2017

RuneQuest 4 Quick-Start Rules Available

It's 1st July and the RuneQuest Quickstart booklet by Jeff Richard and Jason Durall is available at last. I won't write much about it today as I've already written about what it contains, and about what changes you may expect compared with RuneQuest Classic Edition, in many of my 2017 posts. My friend the Runeblogger has written an extensive review here anyway if you are really interested in reading a review rather than experiencing the game by yourself by downloading a copy and playing the introductory adventure The Broken Tower.

The real cool thing with the RuneQuest Quickstart booklet is that it really, really contains enough gaming material to allow you to actually play RQ4 without having to wait for the real McCoy: it has all the combat rules, all the skills, all the Spirit Magic spells, it has 43 Rune Magic spells, it explains the new mechanism of Runes & Passions... Basically the only fundamental missing section from the new RQ4 is the Character Generation chapter. But if you use the pre-gens and run them through the introductory adventure, they can pretty much go on exploring Dragon Pass. And since RQ4 is backwards compatible with RuneQuest Classic Edition, if you own or if you purchase the Glorantha Classics books, you can expect years of gaming enjoyment...

In a nutshell: you can purchase the RuneQuest Quickstart booklet in dead-tree format from Chaosium's web-site, and you can download the PDF for free without even having to register here.


15 June 2017

13th Age in Glorantha - Whoa Baboons

More art is 'leaking' to us backers. This piece is possibly one of the very best Gloranthan art pieces I've ever seen. I usually prefer black & white illustrations but this one just made me go "Whoa!!!!'.

The famed Monkey Ruins in Prax, a holy site for Baboons (who are a sentient species in Glorantha). Excerpt from the Guide to Glorantha:

These are the ruins of the City of the Monkey. When Oakfed fell to earth, he landed on the city, destroying most of the inhabitants. The ruins are the centre of the Praxian cult of Oakfed. Here any shaman can attempt to contact that great spirit with the proper sacrifices. No Oasis Folk live here, and the ruins are sacred to the intelligent baboons of Prax.

05 June 2017

Back from Bacharach

So this is my traditional “Back from Bacharach” post. Honestly I don’t know how useful this post will be for readers of this blog because every year the Eternal Convention becomes more like a gathering of old friends and less like a place where one may gather industry-related news (not that I’d complain...)

Also I crushed my smartphone just before travelling to Bacharach, meaning (almost) no photographs this year.

FRIDAY 2 JUNE, afternoon

Came in quite early this year and could catch Jason Durall playtesting the adventure from this year’s Free RPG Day RQ QuickStart booklet for early conventiongoers. The booklet really has everything needed to get you play the new RuneQuest except the chargen rules (it uses pregens): combat, Battle Magic, Rune Magic, skills, passions...
Then I got to chat with Jason about the new RQ and about the latest behind-the-scenes secrets at Chaosium...

FRIDAY 2 JUNE, 19:00, Grand Opening Ceremony

This year Charlotte was late so Franziska was our only host. The ceremony was shorter than usual because, as I’ve pointed out, everybody already knows the rules! (and was probably eager to fetch a beer [given the atrocious heat] and catch up with old friends)

FRIDAY 2 JUNE, late evening, First Chaosium Panel with Jeff Richard and Jason Durall

Here are my notes:

Rick Meints is preparing the PDF rewards for the remaining RuneQuest Classic Edition KS stretch goals (Trollpak, Pavis, Big Rubble...)

The 13th Age in Glorantha Sourcebook is at final layout; it contains:
  • Expanded pantheons from Greg Stafford’s notes from 40 years ago with FULL-COLOUR ILLUSTRATIONS!
  • A history of Dragon Pass with an emphasis on Tarsh at the time of the Hero Wars
  • A history of the Lunar Empire (remember those serialised articles in Heroes magazine?)

RuneQuest 4: Jason is the lead editor. Still heavily working on editing. Sarah Newton and Lynne Hardy have been brought aboard to help with their external eyes; they are providing lots of feedback.
The first two books are the rulebook and the bestiary. Both should be available for Christmas 2017. Then there is a book of scenarios called the RQ “GM Pack”.
And then obviously this year’s Free RPG Day RQ QuickStart booklet, which has kept everybody very busy.
For those who haven’t followed the latest developments, here is a presentation of RQ4 in a nutshell.
RQ4 is not generic; it is set in Glorantha in 1625.
The rules are an elaboration of the RQ Classic Edition rules, but add:
- Runes, see this post from one year ago, except that the mechanism has been further polished and refined.
- Passions, which also work as augments.
Note: both Runes and Passions work like Skills, with a %age value. Runes are also the basic skills on which Rune Magic depends in terms of succeeding at casting a Rune Magic spell.
- Rune Points, used to fuel the casting of Rune Magic spells. They work like Magic Points except that are replenished during worship ceremonies that take place once a season. How many points you top up also depends on whether your PC is an initiate or a Rune-level character. You do not have to ‘learn’ Rune Magic spells: when you cast a Rune Magic spell, you are channelling your god’s power. I’ll provide an example later on.
- CharGen: characters are much more integrated into the fabric of society; however, there also will be a QuickGen system for people who are in a hurry/do not want to go through the fully-fledged system.
- Shamanism & Spirit combat: completely rewritten (this was arguably the worst part of RQ2) by Chris Klug and Ken Rolston, who have put an emphasis on communicating with spirits rather than fighting them.
- CHA as a characteristic is much more useful and important than it used to be; in particular an 18 CHA is needed to become a Rune Lord.
- Reputation (as a %age), which is different from CHA: it is more like the PC’s renown
- Sorcery. Not the final, fully-fledged rules, but enough to play in Dragon Pass, for NPCs, and for Lhankorings. BTW the Lhankor Mhy cult is the one that has received most tweaks.
- 14 or 15 cults in the core rulebook.
- Culturally, the core rulebook is centred around Dragon Pass/the Holy Country/Prax.
- Non-human characters: none in the core rulebook but rules to create non-human PCs are in the bestiary.
- Alchemy as in RQ2 is mostly gone, replaced with a skill-based system, much more consistent.

Friday ended with drinking beer and eating salty liquorice with Dutch friends. Quite a pleasant combination.

SATURDAY 3 JUNE, morning

Played HeroQuest auf deutsch, again with Robin Mitra like last year. Exceedingly interesting scenario that started at dawn on Friday, 13 October 1307 when King Philip IV ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar. Our characters were entrusted with one third of the treasure of the Templars which we had to bring to Prester John. Except no fucking body knew where his kingdom was. ‘Nach Osten’. Right. With no idea how to get there. A very challenging scenario, with a very open-ended finale (the group who played the same scenario on Sunday did everything in a completely different way!)

picture by Heini

SATURDAY 3 JUNE, afternoon

Played Monkey 2nd edition with Dan Barker as the referee. We played the original companions of Tripitaka, and I got to be Monkey himself! A very zany scenario that will probably appear in a free Monkey QuickStart free PDF. Very recommended.

SATURDAY 3 JUNE, evening

Playtested my historical/civilisational boardgame Siebenbürgen. It is for four players who each represent one of the historical nations vying for supremacy over Transylvania (‘Siebenbürgen’ in German, hence the title): the Hungarians, the Vlachs, the Saxons, and the Szeklers. The game starts at the fall of the Roman Empire and ends at the fall of the Soviet Union. It is a card-driven game, but there is also an actual board (a map of Transylvania and of the surrounding lands) on which the players move the counters representing their peoples and where they may build cities, churches, fortifications, etc.
The game is now almost one year old, and I am very satisfied with how it runs. We played it in about 2.5 hours, which I think is excellent for such a game. Really excited!

Had (again!) a long chat with Jason about the new RQ.


We played the boardgame Mafia de Cuba but were exaggeratedly deep in the roles of the various characters. Great fun... this is what happens when RPGers play boardgames :-)

A cold morning before a hot day

SUNDAY 4 JUNE, morning

The traditional Trollball game was held under a cold sun (probably makes sense... Chern Durel, anyone?). This was followed by yet another chat with Jeff & Jason with regards to the new RuneQuest. My Parisian friends and I secured a copy of the manuscript to turn our current RQ2 campaign into an RQ4 playtest campaign!

SUNDAY 4 JUNE, afternoon

Playtested the adventure from this year’s Free RPG Day RQ QuickStart booklet with Jason as the referee and a group of RQ grognards as the players. Here are my impressions from an actual gaming session as to what the most salient differences are, compared with RuneQuest Classic Edition:
- Battle Magic does not succeed automatically any longer (you have to roll under POW×5 – not sure I like this)
- Runes, Passions, used as augments (see above). Loved it.
- Rune Magic. Lots of new kewl spells, which depend on your Runes and not your god. Also you do not have to choose which spell you memorise/sacrifice for beforehand since the act of casting a Rune Magic spell is tantamount to your channelling your god’s power. And gods do not memorise spells... In the game, I cast a 3-point Rune spell early on in the adventure, expending my entire capital of Rune points (which I knew I would not be able to replenish). I had to roll under my Truth Rune for success. But I got to choose the spell from a list available to my god; it wasn’t a spell the PC had memorised.
- Magic Skills, and especially Spirit Combat
- Combat: the Defence skill IS GONE (auggggh) replaced with Dodge (nooooooo).
Great refereeing by Jason; we were all completely and hopelessly in the sombre mood of kinstrife, of wergeld, and of the past coming back to haunt the present... That is when I realised that Chaosium hadn’t treated us to new Gloranthan RQ adventures since the RQ Renaissance in the 90s!

SUNDAY 4 JUNE, evening, Third Chaosium Panel with Jeff and Jason

Note: I missed the 2nd panel on Saturday; I’m told it was mostly about HeroQuest (and it seems not much is going on at that side...)
The 3rd panel consisted in an open Q&A session. Everybody spoke quickly and in a noisy atmosphere, so I apologise for the incomplete notes.

Q: Tell us more about heroquesting and how that ties with Illumination.
A: Illumination is a mystical epiphany where you realise the nature of All. In a heroquest, you interact with the God Time. The more you deal with the God Time from different perspectives (i.e., you are not always re-enacting the same heroquest) the more likely it is that you get that epiphany.
Think about the famous tale of the blind men each touching a different part of an elephant; the more you touch different parts of the elephant, the more you can understand its true shape.

Q: That’s what the God Learners were doing...
A: The big difference is that the God Learners had an intellectual approach, not a mystical one.
Logic is a very useful tool but it is also very limited when we are talking about things that are beyond comprehension, e.g., eternity.

Q: Is it possible to train someone to be better prepared to Illumination?
A: Yes, it’s exactly what happens in some real-world religions.

Q: What is the definition of a heroquest?
A: It is a procedure to bring back a part of the God Time into our world.

Q: Why doesn’t Godunya do anything against Can Shu?
A: Ignorance is part of the balance of the universe. And at least it’s controlled where it is [in Chern Durel]. If Can Shu were to be crushed, who knows where Ignorance would re-surface... maybe in Kralorela itself?

Q: What is the procedure to find a new emperor?
A: Who knows? There isn’t anybody left around from the last time this happened!

Q: I want to know more about Orathorn.
A: It will be in the 13th Age in Glorantha Sourcebook.

SUNDAY 4 JUNE, late evening

Played ‘Return to Apple Lane’ (probably from the upcoming RQ4 GM Pack) with Jeff as the referee. A fantastic moment of Gloranthan fun, and a surprising twist/follow-up to a beloved adventure. I won’t say more so as not to spoil anybody’s fun when this is out.

02 May 2017

[T&T] Adjudicating SR Levels

I have stolen this from Thessaly Chance's FB roll. Very useful to any Tunnels & Trolls referee.

06 April 2017

RuneQuest 4 Quick-Start Rules Available Soon

The RuneQuest 4 quick-start rules will be available for the 2017 Free RPG Day, accompanied by a scenario by Jason Durall. Can't wait to put my grubby hands on this — even though no French FLGS is usually participating :-(

05 April 2017

New RuneQuest - Roadmap & News

Lots of news with regard to the ‘New’ RuneQuest, a.k.a. RuneQuest 4, from Chaosium. There are so many news I am almost going to copy them verbatim from their web-site.

First and foremost, RQ4 is not going to be kickstarted (and that’s an excellent piece of news: I consider crowdfunding campaigns should be restricted to amateur publications, or to very special operations [like extra art or crazy miniatures] when used by established companies). The RQ4 books will go through a ‘normal’ process of being sold via PDF first by Chaosium, and then in dead tree format both by Chaosium and by gaming shops. The current schedule is: RuneQuest and the RuneQuest Bestiary will be available for purchase by Christmas 2017. That’s in physical form purchased from the Chaosium web-site— and the PDFs will be available some months before. The books will then be in our FLGS in Q1 of 2018.

In addition, and still targeting Christmas 2017, Chaosium should be releasing the GM’s Screen and Pack, which will include a scenario, a GM screen, cult information sheets for the players (very helpful in choosing which Rune Spells to cast), maps, and a Gloranthan calendar.

After that, the next book will be a collection of stand-alone scenarios, with Gloranthan luminaries such as Steve Perrin, Ken Rolston and Chris Klug amongst the writers. Scheduled for Q1 2018.

Next will be the RuneQuest Gamemaster Book. This will include lots of GM-oriented rules (battle rules, magic items, etc.), materials on running games for RQ set in Glorantha, plus fully statted-up and described encounters that will enable sandbox play in Dragon Pass.

After that comes the Cults of the Lightbringers, the Hero’s Book, an organised RQ Play campaign, and the Dragon Pass Campaign.

Num num!

30 March 2017

[zine] Issue No.1 of Chromatic Soup is Out!

I am happy to announce that issue No.1 of the collective OSR dead-tree zine Chromatic Soup is available on lulu for a mere €4.88.

The zine started as a jocular idea on G+ by artist Cédric Plante (whose fantastic art graces the cover and the interior of the zine) and eventually developed into a 179-page zine that describes a fully-fledged weird and marshy setting known as ‘the Biting Marshes’.

The setting features a lot of crazy but extremely inspirational ideas in a ‘pointcrawl’ kind of presentation, with three beautiful maps. I would like to highlight the following:

Duke Arqueballast's scheming — This chapter alone could very well form the backbone of a complete sandbox campaign. Duke Arqueballast rules from a fortress barge towed by a hundred yoked crocodiles. If this is not OSR at its best, then I don't know what is.

Log-Jaws — The ecology of an Alien-like plant monster that can be tamed by the music of the Log-Jaws Pipers.

Stewpot Witches —This is probably my favourite. This chapter describes a cult of  witches who master a weird and very old form of magic native to the Biting Marshes. Each Stewport Witch has a familiar that looks like a walking iron pot with a huge face in the middle of the pot (like in the illo above). The witches may create magical meals within the iron pots. By the way this iron is called ‘bog iron’ and has peculiar properties.

Bobcatmen — A new race. They live in the northern part of the Biting Marshes as bandits of slavers. Their human thralls wear bobcat-like masks.

The Order of the Merchant-Knights — A quasi-religious order of merchants who ply their trade east of the Biting Marshes. They are actually quite similar to the cult of Issaries, but with a more military bent.

Last but not least, there is a ‘RuneQuest conversions’ appendix at the end of the zine to enable you to use all of the above with the RuneQuest Classic Edition rules.

Link to the free PDF version.

13 February 2017

The Hanging Garden, Issue No.6

Heil og sæl, dear readers! The sixth issue of my free e-zine, The Hanging Garden, is available for your perusal and enjoyment from the usual page.

Issue No.6 is a special “Norsemen”-themed issue (actually the first of two such issues); it contains a complete deluxe Tunnels & Trolls solo adventure by Thomas Pugh, with 284 (!) paragraphs. This is as good as one of the published solo adventures.

An appendix at the end of the solo adventure (don’t miss it) presents the various kindreds, creatures, etc. from the solo adventure, should a gamemaster want to use them in their GM scenarios set in the Frozen Lands (the Viking-like setting of the solo adventure).

As always, feedback and comments are welcome. Cheers!