Our guest for episode 13 is Nikolas Lloyd, the multi-talented host of the Lindybeige YouTube channel.


Jörg mentions Eternal Convention at Castle Stahleck in Bacharach, Germany, and the UK Game Expo which both just ended at the time of recording.

On the Jonstown Compendium we had The Lifethief, a scenario by the Beer With Teeth collective, and an overview map of the Jonstown area by Mikael Madsen.

Practical Ancient Warfare

There are more than 600 videos on the Lindybeige channel, many of these dealing with “lots of swords and spears”, and quite a few clarifying questions that arise from playing RuneQuest in Glorantha.

Lloyd started roleplaying at age 12 or so playing the typical dungeon raids and realizing the plot holes like why are there monsters hiding behind doors to jump at exploring adventurers guarding treasure chests. A few years later he came across RuneQuest and appreciated its approaches and how they helped playing in a more believable world.

We forgot to talk to him about his legendary “Prax Warrior” video, too, which you can see here:

(the story behind this video is explained in its description)

The praises of RuneQuest in its second edition are sung. They are still the same great points as in Lloyd’s series of videos on D&D from eleven years ago. Part one is below, but check out part two and part three too:

Lloyd talks about the Dragon Pass board game, and how he never managed to find opponents to play the full game with all the magic, the alliances etc. We also talk briefly about Glorantha: The Gods War, for which Lloyd made an extensive video review:

Ludo talks about the realism of combat systems and melee weapons, and the strike rank approach in RuneQuest. Lloyd describes the “dagger vs. pike” situation, and offers a house rule assigning a different weapon strike rank for fist range fighting.

The reality of disengaging aka running away without getting stabbed in the back, which seems to be a lot easier in real life than in most rpgs.

Ludo brings up the footwork rules in GURPS, and we talk about using terrain, maneuvers, and magic, especially spells like Lightwall that enable a side to regroup without the opponent knowing about it.

Lloyd mentions how keeping track of all the magic that may enter a melee can be a challenge for a GM in RuneQuest.

We talk about the usefulness of shields and parrying missiles, and house-ruling those situations.

Lloyd discusses the importance of the GM’s eye-contact with the players in role-playing and how playing online takes a lot of that unspoken communication away even in a video chat.

We discuss active use of shields in combat, character expertise over player expertise,

On the topic actual experience of fighting in a shield wall, we learn that individual prowess matters a lot less. Lloyd discusses the death-defying attitude in re-enactment battles and suggests that facing the same situation when it is your life on the line may involve a lot more visceral fear. As you might expect, you can learn more about shield walls on Lloyd’s channel:

Lloyd talks about group coordination topping individual melee expertise, the importance of maneuvering and initiative, and how one can make a difference in group combat even without actually stabbing or slashing at the foe just by positioning yourself.

The ideal fight should not be a slogging match where you stab the other guy but to achieve an objective like crossing a bridge or capturing a flag.

The tendency to fight to the bitter end seems to be ingrained in roleplaying combats, and the fear of a certain type of players (and game systems catering to their style) to lose the items that make them effective.

Jörg asks about the practicalities of offering ransom in the middle of a melee. The answer seems to be to let go of your weapons, raise your hands and shout the amount of money that you are worth, but without any guarantee that the opposing side will accept that, even if that is the accepted outcome. In the end, this is up to GM discretion, table consensus, and dramatic effect.

Talking about setting a scenario in a major battle, Lloyd mentions about his work on a book on the Trojan War for D&D 3.5 but the D20 license was discontinued and adapting the project D&D 4th edition. He discusses a couple of approaches, like having the outcome sort of pre-determined.

If the side the player characters fight on is going to lose, the objective of the game is not to win that battle but how the unit of the players performs, whether they distinguish themselves in the battle or what losses they suffer.

There is the possibility of pushing the player characters into the situation that decides the outcome of the battle, but that can often be contrived and needs some setting up.

Lloyd talks about giving the players an objective other than winning the battle, like a detached raid around the battlefield against the train or camp of the foes to recover a maguffin.

We discuss actually playing out the war-game inside a roleplaying session, and Lloyd says that this approach needs a lot of practicing and necessitates a couple of bad games before getting the hang of this.

Lloyd talks about the constants in ancient warfare, with the basic concepts remaining the same like spears, shields, or signalling through shouts, insignia, drums or horns.

The difference made by magic on the battlefield is a lot higher than any technological differences. Also magical development may replace technological development.

Are old people in Glorantha really healthy? What is the availability of high powered healing or restoration magic?

How do people allocate their magical resources? Ludo introduces spreadsheets for administration of available magics.

Reputation as a spring-board to drama.

Skill proliferation vs. nifty new skills, on the example of a “read battle” skill (which sounds like a good interpretation of how to use RQG’s Battle skill).

Are different weapon type skills necessary? Lloyd suggests a general melee skill independent of the weapon type.

What is a “broad sword”?

Bronze weapons, and limitations real world bronze has.

The importance of tin in the Bronze Age, and using its control and supply chain as plot hooks.

Ludo mentions Lloyd’s video series on slings, the first one of which is here:

Contriving situations where groups of five characters can make the difference, again and again and again…

Lloyd points out that skipping ahead to avoid tedious routines of standing watch etc. so that the bad guys don’t catch up with the players is giving out unintended information that no, the bad guys aren’t going to show up now.

He talks about doing flashbacks to establish still unknown relationships, and how “you can’t die in a flashback” may spoil the suspense for some players who prioritize survival.

Ludo suggests to have players roll the doomed assault of NPC fighters and experiencing their deaths in between playing their less combatant main characters.

There are two main types of action scenes: fights and chases, and most role-playing games dedicate entire chapters on combat but hardly any space on chases. And even if you have rules for chases, those might be about catching and fighting the opponents and not overtaking them in a race.

More about Lindybeige

You can find Lindybeige:


The hoplite picture is Creative Commons. The intro music is “The Warbird” by Try-Tachion. Other music includes “Cinder and Smoke” and “Skyspeak“, along with audio from the FreeSound library.

The new Initiation Series interview features Scott Rinehart, and was recorded back in October 2021. Scott is new to Glorantha, having only played in a couple of one-shot games, but he has flipped through the new RuneQuest slipcase books, and the Glorantha Sourcebook.

Things mentioned in this episode include:

Shannon Appelcline is our guest for the 12th episode.

Shannon tells us about his entry into the roleplaying genre, which features the typical games of the early eighties. RuneQuest became one of his main systems when he joined the Erzo game by Eric Rowe, a long-running campaign set on Eric’s own universe, but he also started exploring Glorantha. In the 1990ies , Shannon joined the Chaosium staff.

Shannon’s Glorantha credits include articles for Tradetalk magazine and Ye Book of Tentacles (a series of fundraiser books for the German RuneQuest convention). Shannon also organized RuneQuest conventions in the nineties, and his improvised “Hero Wars” logo made for the 1998 convention ended up on the product.

We talk about the upcoming Elf Pack for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha (the manuscript has been handed in, which means that a series of time-intensive steps need to follow).

Three Generations of Elf Pack

We learn about the incarnations of Shannon’s Elf writings, starting with a coverage of all elf forests of Glorantha for the HeroQuest (1st edition) line of Issaries Inc. But due to delays, Greg Stafford taking a sabbatical teaching English and studying shamanism in Mexico, the Issaries line closing down, and HeroQuest 2nd Edition taken in license by MoonDesign, this first manuscript was never published.

Around that time, Mongoose published their “Glorantha – The Second Age” line, and unwilling to see some other authors contradicting more than 1000 pages of material, Shannon contacted Mongoose and offered to write the elf supplement for them. Despite usually working with in-house writers, Shannon managed to convince the company. The result was Elfs: A Guide to the Aldryami, written in just three months – a short time compared to the other two manuscripts, but very long for a Mongoose RuneQuest book.

About the current version of Elf Pack, we learn that it is (mostly) focused on the Dragon Pass area, like the rest of the latest RuneQuest books.

Designers & Dragons

Shannon’s major contribution to the hobby is his history of roleplaying games titled Designers & Dragons. An original massive 2-volume book expanded into the current form which has four books, with one book per decade. It is available in print from Evil Hat (or translated into other languages, like German or French), with additional volumes with somewhat different focus added over the time.

It’s also available here:

Shannon has a few more volumes in the works, including “The Lost Histories”, two volumes of stuff that did not go into the first four volumes.

Shannon talks about Reaching Moon Megacorp as one relevant example of Gloranthan publications.

The 2010s volume is about to be collected, as a certain distance is required to make sure no trends are overlooked: Shannon talks about how his volume on the 2000s missed the Old School Renaissance movement.

Another ongoing project is four volumes on the TSR histories talking about all 100+ TSR publications (OD&D, 1st ed. AD&D and Basic D&D) for the D&D Classic website on Drivethrurpg.

Last but not least, Shannon is working on a publication history of Traveller for Mongoose.

We also mention a recent article on rpg.net on the many editions of RuneQuest, Traveller and Talislanta, part of Shannon’s Advanced Designers and Dragons series there which adds current events, eulogies, and occasional glimpses into the work-flow.


Ludo makes the shout-out for the Journal for Runic Studies, his weekly newsletter/blog series, and our most recent episode on Newcomers to Glorantha featuring Diana “Berra” Probst.

The Six Paths by Edan Jones (aka Tindalos) and Katrin Dirim on Drivethrurpg, already as Print-on-Demand softcover.

Day’s Rest by Jamie Revell is also out.

Aldryami: The Elfs of Glorantha

This is not an “Aldryami 101” episode, we assume that listeners have, at least, access to the Glorantha Bestiary. For a full newcomer presentation of the Aldryami, you can of course read the Bestiary, or watch the Exploring Glorantha episode on the topic.

Elf Culture

Elevator pitch: Plant people in tune with their forest interacting with it in a collaborative way where they really are all one

Comparison with Tolkienesque elves in standard fantasy (literature and rpgs) and the difference in appearance.

Evolution of elf depictions for RuneQuest: Gaunt faces, spiked ears – that’s about the main common denominator of early elf artwork, with increasing treeishness as the time proceeds.

Different elf types matching certain types of trees or forests.

Is there space for “elfs” based on other plants?

Shannon mentions vampiric trees sucking up nutrients or sap from other trees in the network.

Undead as seen by elfs – petrified trees, trees hollowed out by insects, vampiric ones.

Vine elfs – Shannon wrote a myth why those aren’t around any more.

Elder Races pantheons may tend to be smaller than human ones.

Elf deities shared with humans

Seedings of generations of gods by primordial ones.

The Elf “Secret” – Elfsense, the ability to pick up the experiences of plant beings around them.

The importance of Aldrya, who upholds the forest

Elf Philosophy

Balance: Growth balanced by Taking

Cycles: Reincarnation, though without memory of individual experiences (but then those are held by the forests)

Making the myth matter in the game

Lots of myths not included in the Elf Pak manuscript

Myths as patterns for a heroquest (another word for an adventure)

A preview on the upcoming scenario “The Great Graft”, set in the Stinking Forest

The first Pruner among the elfs

Playing an Elf

Four major Passions:

  • Loyalty to Forest – find out the goals of your forest
  • Devotion Grower – further Growth, spread life
  • Devotion Balance – realize that every single elf is your brother, and all the other races are too, even though they may have the opposite job
  • Devotion to Cycle – things that are killed will return, and so will you if you die.

Different psychology of Green and Brown Elfs

Elf emotions being spread out into the forest, delaying a reaction.

Green emotions (communal) vs. Red emotions (individual) vs. Black emotions (anti-community).

Five forests of the Dragon Pass region:

  • The Old Woods (easternmost region of Arstola) – dissidents from mainstream Arstola, lost the site of the Great Tree when probably Arkat cut it down at the end of the Dawn Age
  • Tarndisi’s Grove – about the smallest an elf forest can become
  • The Stinking Forest
  • The Vale of Flowers (including the normal trees of the Flower Wood)
  • The Dryad Woods – including an adventure about the Forest of Wondrous Beasts

Not included, but Shannon elucidates on it: the Redwoods of Dagori Inkarth/Prax

Bringing elfs into the game:

Rootless elfs – elfs cut off from Elfsense

Rooted elfs – elfs pursuing the goals of their forest

Elfs are long-lived and have long-rooted plans

Range of elf-sense – a quarter-mile outside of the forest they lose contact and are left alone with their emotions etc.

Purpose-grown material or even individuals

The role of rootless elfs in elf society – a constant source of pity

Flamals seed came to rest on the three elements. Those that fell on Gata (Earth) became the Green, Brown and Yellow elfs, those that fell on Sramak became the various types of Murthoi or Blue elfs, and those that fell on fire became the lost White Elfs of the peak of the Spike. Those are the true elfs.

The Hybrid Races were born out of the moment of Balance between Growing and Taking, and that’s where the Red Elfs are grouped by the true elfs, right alongside the humans and other non-autotrophs.

Lesser aldryami races – Runners, Pixies, Sprites

The role of the dryads in elf society – demi-gods, something akin to the Mistress Race uz.

First encounter in an elf forest – usually an arrow.

Kings and queens of elfdom, nobility of the elfs, are more of a diplomat caste than rulers.

Vronkali were the ones who learned to Take in order to survive. The Mreli chose to accept death rather than give up their natures, and got re-awakened after the Dawn.

Hostility between elfs and other Elder Races.

Does the Cycle come into the destruction of the world in the Gods War? Shannon counters with Grower being reborn as five entities, finally Voria to restart the Cosmos.

Elfs and the Man Rune – individuality as the primal sin, the unfortunate outcome of the Green Age ending.

Intra-elf conflicts: God Learners call it Aldrya’s Woe, the elfs call it the Planting.


The intro music is “The Warbird” by Try-Tachion. Other music includes “Cinder and Smoke” and “Skyspeak“, along with audio from the FreeSound library.