22 June 2018

Gods War - The Final Rulebook

I have already mentioned the Gods War boardgame on this blog, since it has prominently featured at THE KRAKEN gaming retreat during all the stages of its creation and its playtest. Glorantha: The Gods War (full title) is a large, intense boardgame similar to Cthulhu Wars (but much better in my opinion) that pits the major factions of Glorantha against each other at the time of the, er, Gods War† — hence its name. The game was successfully kickstarted but, alas, I did not participate because I don't know where I'd store the huge box and its many expansions. It appears that some Texan people do not realise what the average size of a Parisian flat is. And I do not have a cellar. Anyway, Sandy Petersen has just announced that the final version of the Gods War rulebook was available (from here).

Even if you are not interested in overly-sized boardgames please do download it, if only for the incredibly evocative art, and for the scores of ideas that will inevitably pop up in your mind whilst reading it.

†For a description of the events of the Gods War and of the destructions it has wrought, please refer to the Guide to Glorantha, p116-117 and p684-693.

15 June 2018

An Excerpt from our Ongoing RQ:G Campaign

I have a RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha campaign set in Chern Durel and northern Kralorela that has been going on for about a year (since the time we received the RQ:G playtest pack).

Last Wednesday's session was so good one of the players (Hervé) wrote it down to share it with anyone curious about our RQ:G game. Warning: this is a GONZO game, YGWV.

in Tzu Ling

Chern Durel Campaign - Session 12GM: Gianni. 3 players: Patrick (Xu), Teva (Skull Sucker), Hervé (Kro Tal). 4-hour game

After escaping from the Slug-Men’s prison, Xu and Kro Tal go to the Black Sun Temple in the Ignorant Quarter of Tzu Ling. It is still Sacred Time and they pray to regain all used Rune Points (success). They also convince some of the younger priests to send them to the Other Side again, to establish contact with Blackstone, the God [GM: more like a Demi-God] who killed a Dragon long ago; they want to learn its secrets to help Ignorance fight against the Kralori dragon-lovers.
They are led into the Temple’s inner sanctum and wreathed in Basko’s black flames. The roof disappears, and a black sky appears, with the Black Sun in its full glory. It opens its maw and swallows both characters. Inside its mouth, they see its teeth change into stalagmites. They realise they are back to the entrance of Blackstone’s Temple of Bones, which they visited in their dreams a short while ago.

Inside the Temple of Bones, they invoke Blackstone with the sacrifice of a Kralori portrait of their Dragon Emperor Godunya, which they tear and spit upon. (Worship Blackstone 5% + sacred time /major temple / sacrifice bonuses). It is a success and “somewhere, a dragon whines” because of the outrage we commit upon Godunya’s effigy. Yet Blackstone is not to be found. It is Not Here. By focusing deeper and further, Kro Tal feels a great pain in the chest (loss of 1 HP) and realises Blackstone’s Heart is gone.
Using Spirit Travel (despite not being shamans, with the huge lingering bonuses), they set after the Heart, following its cold trail. On the way, they stumble upon the prone form of Skull Sucker, an Uzko warrior of Zorak Zoran with whom they have already co-operated in the Dream World (he has been dispatched there to fight the returning God Learners). He says Blackstone called him for help in his dreams; he came and fought off Kurix the God Learner lich, the eponymous master of the city of Kurix in the Dream World. It seems that the sorcerer’s magics got the better of him.

Further along the way, to their distress, they find a pool of the dark godling’s Blood and drink from it, also filling their water-skins with it. The Blood aids them to track the Heart and even gives some energy (Magic Points) back to Skull Sucker. They are then attacked by an earth demon rushing under the ground and trying to trap them in a pit it opens under their feet, but they jump or climb their way to safety. Upon entering a large cave, they must fight off a pack of Kralori zombies which they pulp. But the earth demon returns and swallows Xu, crushing the life out of him (12 point damage to ALL hit locations, enough to kill him outright despite 5-point armour and a 4-point Protection spell). It immediately rushes away.

Both Kro Tal and Skull Sucker rush to his aid and call upon their Gods with Heal Wound rune magic spells, barely bringing Xu back to life at the cost of their whole psychic energy (2 or 3 Magic Points left at this stage). By limping around to find a safe spot to recover, they realise the earth demon always follows the same “track” and pass its end.

After having somewhat recovered in the Darkness (both Xu and Skull Sucker have Darksense, and by now Kro Tal is developing something like it too), they notice the cave tapering at its end, with a chasm in the wall leading further ahead. Skull Sucker goes to investigate by Sneaking and Hiding and fails. He is speared by two light crossbow bolts and dies (one crit and one impale, both legs crippled). The mad race against death starts again but this time Kro Tal uses his False Healing spell, allowing Skull Sucker to limp back to safety and to call again on Zorak Zoran to heal his wounds. Some First Aid is also applied, but by then all characters are down to 1 MP each†.

They retreat in a side tunnel and after a long exhausting march (roll of CON×5 to press ahead), find themselves back among the Green Dragon’s bones, the one which Blackstone smothered and petrified! They decide it is a safe place to sleep or Meditate (Xu recovers about 10 extra MPs in 8 hours’ Meditation), but the place’s magics begin altering their Runes after a few hours, augmenting Disorder and Life. Both Skull Sucker and Kro Tal are Death worshippers and they leave the place, yet noting they now know a way out: the Dragon’s resting place leads to the ziggurat connected to the bottom of Tzu Ling’s cesspit, a way they went through before.

This time they call on Subere’s and on the Black Sun’s powers and use Dark Walk to approach the chasm and kill the crossbowmen, which turn out to be trollkin wearing the same colours as the servants of their Slug-Man captor! Pressing ahead, they find Blackstone’s Heart, levitating above ground, wrapped in many ropes and pulled by fifteen trollkin led by a Slug-Man. While Skull Sucker mows down the trollkin, Xu casts Attack Soul on the Slug-Man and keeps him too busy to notice Kro Tal jumping on the Heart, then close to him, then punching his skull off. The remaining trollkin scatter. Victory belongs to the characters, who immediately try to commune with Blackstone.
What they learn is… surprising.
Blackstone, whom we thought was bound by the Slug-Men and eager to break free and ravage the Kralori city, is actually happy with the current state of things, growing fat on the sacrifices his servants and clergy, the Slug-Men, siphon off the Kralori! He says this is in continuity with his battle against the Dragon and does not want the status quo to change. He also says the trollkin were pulling back his Heart to its rightful place, among the dragon bones where the characters slept! He explains a sorcerer called Kurix and his warriors had surprised him and beaten off his guards before he could chase him off, rescued by his Slug-Men worshippers.

After much doubt from Kro Tal, all three characters initiate to Blackstone, learning his special spell‡. The God marks them for recognition and acceptance from his Slug-Men servants. The dark godling reveals that his power over dragonkind could be given to them if they re-open his old and forgotten temple in Karaköse, the City of the Dead, many “li” to the west of Tzu Ling. For this, they would need his sacred book, which is now held by the sorcerer Kurix. Kurix seems stranded here, in this Dark Place, and most of his soldiers have been killed or wounded. They have taken refuge in a nearby Ziggurat.
The characters set off to hunt the Sacred Book, unsure whether they will kill Kurix or try to ally with him against their mutual enemy, Sturm Martex the talking head, dread sorcerer from Orathorn.

†upon reflection, this save should not have worked. A character at 0 general HP or below dies at the end of the melee round in which he was hit. But we did not remove the impaling bolts from Skull-Sucker’s legs, which should have been necessary BEFORE healing him. Yet this rule was forgotten by everybody, GM included; too many years of HeroQuest have made us less regarding of rules. 

‡it was decided on the spot that Blackstone’s Runes were Darkness and Stasis, and that a special, stackable spell would be designed, something like Coils (from the Book of Drastic Resolutions volume  Darkness) or Suppress Lodril, but working against Dragons and dragon-kin, including anyone with at least 1% in Draconic Mysticism, i.e. any Kralori.

03 June 2018

News from UK Games Expo 2018

Alas, I was not able to attend this British con, but there was a Chaosium panel and Ian Cooper (HQ line editor) tweeted about it. Since it contains a lot of HeroQuest-related information that had only vaguely been hinted at during Chimériades and the Eternal Con, I thought it would be of interest to my readers if I copied Ian Cooper's tweets here:

Chaosium will be delivering an SRD of the HeroQuest engine, licensed under the OGL. We want you to use this engine for your own genre packs and games.

We'll keep the HeroQuest brand for Glorantha and the SRD will have a new name, as we think the brand makes more sense as a Gloranthan name than a generic system.

We are going to release some new genre packs for the game (ways to play a given genre). Ron Edwards is working on cosmic superheroes for us, we have discussions about a pulp setting, we will probably do a SF one, and touch something a little more left-field.

We want to show what the engine can do.

We will continue to tackle Glorantha. In Dragon Pass we will focus on 1625— to distinguish from the RQG 1625+ period. We want to cover the Dragonrise and how your players can lead that great event, the key to the liberation of Sartar.

And we are going to tackle Fonrit. We think it is an ideal Sword & Soul setting, presentable with all Glorantha's richness bit will no publication history before now, a great opportunity for folks to get in on the ground floor of a Gloranthan setting.