For this episode of the God Learners podcast we welcome back Drew Baker, who followed Biturian Varosh with us back in episode 5. Drew is doubly qualified for this task since he just released a new Jonstown Compendium item called Highways & Byways which is a travel reference for Dragon Pass and its surroundings.

News

Ludo advertises our Gloranthan newsletter, The Journal of Runic Studies, and briefly mentions having gone to ChaosiumCon. Ludo’s full report is available here.

Next, Joerg and Ludo run a short interview with Drew about Highways & Byways: where the idea comes from, what it contains, the fun of reconciling various Gloranthan maps with different scales, and the possible fictional explanations for things changing from one map to another.

Ludo mentions the Dumb Cuneiform website in passing, where you can order your own cuneiform tablet.

Drew mentions his Call of Cthulhu adventure The Reading of a Will. You can see all of Drew’s community content here, such as the QAD series which provides plenty of stat blocks and mechanical information for RuneQuest.

Main Topic

We catch up again with the Travels of Biturian Varosh, from the classic Cults of Prax supplement. This short story was scattered across the book to help picture what life in Glorantha might look like.

In the first segment, Biturian and Norayeep search for healing herbs in order to make a little bit of money. We talk about the rules for Plant Lore, the utility (or lack thereof) of D12s, heroquesting, and Humakti ghosts. Drew mentions the Old Men Play RuneQuest podcast and video series.

The second segment brings us back to Pavis, where we share theories and consternation about what’s going on with Biturian and Morak at the local Lhankor Mhy temple. We talk about slave bracelets, horned children, sex rituals, and more weird stuff.

In the last segment, Biturian goes to the Pairing Stones and witnesses an Orlanthi initiation, including (finally!) some spirits of reprisal.

Before heading out, our three hosts share their thoughts on this penultimate leg of Biturian’s journey.

Credits

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

For episode 6 of the Glorantha Initiation Series we welcome Wayne Peters, who played RuneQuest once in the 80s and hated it. More than 30 years later, Wayne returned to Glorantha with the Broken Tower, the adventure from the RuneQuest Quickstart. He talks about riding Praxian mounts, making miniatures, YGMV, ducks, silly location names, and more!

Things mentioned in this episode:

In this month’s episode of The God Learners podcast we are very happy to welcome Rick Meints, the president of Chaosium. He’s here to talk about collecting Gloranthan books, ChaosiumCon 2022, and more.

News

In the news section, Ludovic plugs the Journal of Runic Studies, our weekly newsletter. It features everything directly or indirectly related to Glorantha that we could find over the previous Red Moon cycle.

Joerg talks about the impending return of some of Ian Thompson’s Pavis materials by way of the Jonstown Compendium, Chaosium’s community content program on DriveThruRPG. These “remasters” might include things like the Pavis & Big Rubble Companions and/or A Rough Guide to Pavis.

From there we launch into a digression about Rick’s exhaustive collection, including the Pavic Tales issues pictured above. Some items from Rick’s collection will be available for sale at ChaosiumCon’s collectors auction.

Ludovic mentions the RuneQuest Starter Stream where James Coquillat leads new-to-RuneQuest players through the first two adventures of the RuneQuest Starter Set.

Then Joerg mentions RuneQuest Year Zero, a limited-run podcast by Baz Stevens in which he delves into the RuneQuest Starter Set without much prior knowledge about RuneQuest and Glorantha. Along the 11 episodes of the show, Baz shares what he likes and doesn’t like about the rules, the setting, and other material found in the box.

The Jonstown Compendium has been quiet in the past few weeks. Rick once again has all the books available in POD so far already, and plugs Nick Brooke’s index as a good way to stay on top of the publications (the 2021 index is here, the 2022 index is here).

Main Topic

For the main topic, we start with Rick’s path from the automotive industry to the presidency of one of the most beloved RPG publishers in history. Ludovic then shares his own shorter and weirder path to Glorantha.

During his time as a Chaosium fan, Rick had an unofficial “subscription” to all released products. Ludovic asks if any official subscriptions might come to Chaosium but sadly the logistics don’t make that idea viable at the moment.

Next, we talk about Rick’s MIG book, the Meints’ Index to Glorantha. It previously had two editions, and a third edition is being finalized and printed. The next version is bigger, in colour, and includes all the Glorantha material released in the 21st century.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The back cover of MIG2 already had a format similar to the back cover of RuneQuest 2nd edition (picture above). MIG3 will even look more similar, from the book size to the colour scheme.

Here are some MIG3 pages Rick shared over the last few months on social media:

Rick also explains how the write-up for old material has gained in depth, thanks to his access to the Chaosium’s archives, and to his time spent interviewing many figures of the early RuneQuest eras.

Ludovic asks Rick about foreign licensees, which have been previously off-limits for the MIG since Rick can’t read them and it wouldn’t fit in the page count anyway.

We go on for a bit about the various styles of foreign RuneQuest covers, while Rick once again grabs a few books from his shelves to illustrate the point. MIG3 will have a small appendix dedicated to these foreign editions, but not much more.

Next, we talk about Wyrms Footnotes, why it hasn’t come back, and why it probably won’t, since most authors now get their Gloranthan writing fix through the Jonstown Compendium. This leads us to chatting about how great the Jonstown Compendium is, and how happy Chaosium is with their community content programs in general. Ludovic is a bit sad that the whole OSR zine revival passed by Chaosium without them paying much attention to it, but is also happy that they put their energy and resources into a good quality community content program.

And while we talk about Chaosium’s “master plans” (or lack thereof), Ludovic asks whether Chaosium intends for Glorantha and RuneQuest to be synonymous for the foreseeable future, or if Glorantha will indeed stay a bigger franchise that encompasses other game systems. Of course, 13th Age Glorantha is out of Chaosium’s hands, but Rick reveals that Chaosium does have the intention of having some Questworlds Glorantha books, even if some of it might only be conversion guides for using RuneQuest adventures in Questworlds.

There is a digression on Cthulhu Live and Gloranthan free-forms. Rick did include free-forms in MIG3, but shares why LARP books generally sell poorly. Ludovic talks about the opportunities of RuneQuest splatbooks that could sell more, but Rick reveals that Glorantha isn’t conductive to this because all the “character classes” (i.e. the cults) are too woven together to be handled independently. This is why the upcoming Cults books are so big and taking a long time.

We chat for a bit about the difficult task of juggling between the old cranky fandom of Glorantha and the desire to attract new people to the setting. Chaosium has, of course, the RuneQuest Starter Set for the latter, but also a few other ongoing projects, such as the Glorantha video-game still being developed, plus other initiatives such as VTT integration, which is taking longer than Chaosium intended.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Joerg asks about Gloranthan fiction, which is another good possible entry point. Although Rick would like to publish something, there just aren’t many (if at all) authors pitching Gloranthan stories to Chaosium. In the meantime, there’s old fiction such as Griselda’s tales still available.

Joerg also asks about the return of Gloranthan board games, which might prove to be another effective entry point for new people. Rick gives a small update on those, and what the design direction is. He also mentions the board games that never were, like the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death and Shadows Dance games.

Ludovic moves on to rare collector’s items, such as the RuneQuest playtest documents, the Roots of Glorantha series, or the Greganth Atlas (picture above), asking if these things would ever be available in some form or other. This is tricky to do for various reasons outlined by Rick, but he does reveal some upcoming booklet called “the Stafford House Campaign”.

The cover can be seen in the first picture above. This booklet contains Greg Stafford’s “Dragons Past” columns from a couple 70s and 80s magazines. These articles tell the story of his RuneQuest campaign. Rick also found in a binder a few unpublished stories about Greg’s Holy Country campaign.

As for other rare collections of Greg’s notes, a lot of that content is making it in a more polished and playable form through the new RuneQuest Glorantha line anyway.

Finally, Ludovic asks one of his burning questions about the “SP” denominations found on RQ2 supplements, and in particular why he has two PDFs of the Sea Cave labelled SP7 and SP8 respectively. Rick reveals the simple solution by pointing at the first edition cover for Cults of Prax (seen above).

Credits

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

In this new episode of the Glorantha Initiation series, we welcome Steinar, aka Felix, aka Coffeemancer. We talk with him about convincing players to try RuneQuest, getting started with King of Dragon Pass, stealing Lunar officials’ sandals, and adapting funny internet memes to Glorantha. Also: Steinar gives us his “Elmal rant”!

Mentioned in this episode:

Here are examples of Steinar’s art, although there’s a lot more to it than these stupid memes:

We apologize for the tardiness on this episode: we are not used to Earth’s weird calendar where one month is surprisingly shorter than the others. Plus, Ludovic was busy with work and with writing two convention scenarios for ChaosiumCon. It also didn’t help that this episode was a lot heavier on the editing than usual.

Without further excuses, this month we welcomed Chaosium’s David Scott again. This time he was present wearing his “Prax expert” hat in order to chat about Nomad Gods, the 1977 board game designed by Greg Stafford.

News

Art by Ludovic Chabant © 2022 BOLT80 & Chaosium Inc.

In news, Ludovic mentions that his first Jonstown Compendium item it out. A Short Detour is a RuneQuest adventure with a complex moral dilemma, and a (hopefully) insightful appendix on everybody’s favourite Gloranthan power.

As always we also mention the Journal of Runic Studies, our weekly newsletter of Gloranthan news. If you’re not subscribed by email or RSS, do it now!

Joerg gives a shout out to other podcasts and streams:

Ludo mentions that his French edition of RuneQuest has arrived (you can read and see more about it here). After fumbling around to remember the name of the artist who did the French slipcase art (it’s Joann Sfar), David takes us in a tangent about foreign RuneQuest editions’ art, starting with Oriflam’s cover for Dorastor:

Once again, we have difficulty to remember the name of the artist (it’s Hubert de Lartigue). There’s more information on the Well of Daliath.

Joerg also mentions the German art for Apple Lane:

Speaking of the Well of Daliath, our tangent takes us to another tangent to celebrate this very useful resource for Gloranthaphiles. David Scott is the principal maintainer, but receives help from volunteers. We discuss how the timeline of Dragon Pass and the Prosopaedia are Ludovic’s most frequently visited pages.

Main Topic: Nomad Gods

We start talking about Nomad Gods, as promised. To follow along, listeners who aren’t rich or old enough to own the game can purchase the PDF of the rules booklet from Chaosium for a bit less that $9.

Many pictures (including pictures of the board and the counters) are available on the BoardGameGeek page for Nomad Gods.

Assuming you have the rules (or make them up), you can also play Nomad Gods on Vassal, using the appropriate module. There’s also a module for Dragon Pass.

Image by Runeblogger

David runs us through the process of extracting the map and counters art from the module file, which is a simple ZIP file with a different extension.

Here’s the map of Nomad Gods:

Nomad Gods map from Vassal

Then we start looking at the art on the counters. David shares some photos of early prototype counters:

And then we look at some pre-production chits of the alchemical transformer (left) and Jar-eel (right).

We can’t show the assembly boards with chits on grid paper, or lunar units with the red filter sheet taped over them, but you can probably imagine how, errr, “crafty” it looks like. The result can be seen below in the finished product, and it looks similar to how most other wargames of the time looked like, as far as I can tell:

Photo by BoardGameGeek

Next, David talks how Greg was still “exploring” Glorantha at the time, with many names just thrown on the map as nods to his friends (refer to the map above). These locations were only further developed when there was a roleplaying game to do that, and this of course happened with RuneQuest and Cults of Prax. The sound you hear at this point is David unfolding and re-folding his Nomad Gods map!

Where did names like Orlanth came from? Where did the many places in Prax come from? We don’t know. The creative process is a mysterious thing.

David recalls how “amazing” these 1970s wargames looked like: they came in ziploc bag, as shown below:

David Scott’s own unpunched White Bear & Red Moon
Photo from eBay

David talks to us about his first fantasy board game, Divine Right, from TSR.

Photo by BoardGameGeek

The game map looks very much like the Dragon Pass map:

Photo by BoardGameGeek
Photo by Chris Kutalik

Some of the setting lore in Divine Right (sorry about the blurry Zoom screenshot):

Divine Right’s NPC cards look like this, with the random cards to apply to them:

We finally start looking at the Nomad Gods booklet. David runs us through the names in the credits (and how they’re tied to Glorantha).

Joerg and David talk about the difference of rules between the editions. Ludo asks about the spelling of “Plaines of Prax”, or the reason for making the map sideways (with North pointing to the right)… apparently we don’t know!

We talk about the mythology and history of Prax, as presented by the rulebook, and how it’s still guiding the design of Prax nowadays.

There was supposed to be a third board game (advertised in the Nomad Gods booklet!) but this third game never happened. David shares anecdotes about it, and mentions Greg’s Holy Country game, which explored the themes of that unpublished game.

We look at the art pieces found across the pages. The cover can be seen above at the start of this chapter of the show notes. The Zebra Riders and the big battle spread are shown below:

For the weird-looking sci-fi picture of Argrath, the greek-inspired Ronance, and other illustrations we talk about, you’ll have to get the PDF of Nomad Gods! Nomad Gods is where we get many first looks at things like the Devil, Broos, Dragonsnails, and more.

Ludo talks about using board game rules, scenarios, and events as ideas for RPGs. This sends us on a tangent about Jaldon Toothmaker, one of the main figures of the board game. Did he really gnaw through the walls of Pavis? David has a theory.

Nomad Gods has a big recurring theme of dead gods and heroes who can be called back when the Praxian tribes need them.

Unlike White Bear & Red Moon (and Dragon Pass) where you play the Hero Wars, Nomad Gods has a more artificial setup, where you play practice drills, tournaments, and such.

Moving on to the counters’ stats, Ludo mentions how some of these can be used to drive faction play or tribal history, but David says those stats are probably defined like that only for game balance.

The hexes on the map have different properties in terms of resources, from the fertile grounds of the Paps to the desert of the Dead Place. We also go through the landmarks, and how they are represented on the board, compared to what we now know of them.

As we look at the five major tribes of Prax, our discussion goes into the matter of the Covenant, and what little we really know about it. We debate whether the Morokanth are omnivores or mostly vegetarians. Ludo’s Glorantha seems to align with Sandy Petersen’s on that topic, but Chaosium is going with Greg Stafford’s wishes. David explains why, and what it means for the Morokanths’ role in Prax.

Speaking of Morokanths, David talks about the Most Respected Elder, the current of which is a Morokanth. David explains how to run games that really make use of the nomadic lifestyle. Joerg asks how to include the Eternal Battle to life in Prax.

David starts talking about spirit cults and theism in Prax, and how Praxian mounts really survive on the chaparral: it’s a secret that’s not written down anywhere but Greg told David, and David now tells us! (although he has shared it on forums before so it’s not exclusive)

Ludo asks about the Zebra Riders. David gives a not-so-short version. He also explains the cycle of representation of tribes in the Most Respected Elder position. Then, as we look at the other “independent tribes” of Prax, David reminds us that apart from the Rhino Riders, all these tribes are pretty tiny. Ludo mentions the Cannibal Cult, and David gives the actually-short version of what they are.

As we reach the beginning of the “Magic Game” section, Ludo tries to wrap up the episode but fails utterly. We launch into a discussion of Sartarite games vs Praxian games, and what the role of Praxians is in the Hero Wars. We share some ideas for Praxian campaign frameworks, and David talks about the “big events” that could happen there. Eventually, Ludo manages to wrap up the episode for good.

Credits

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

For this fourth episode of the Initiation Series, we chat with Discord regular Skulldixon, which is apparently how everybody actually calls him except for his parents. Skull (let’s call him Skull for short?) talks about his campaign, all the numerous things he likes about Glorantha and the RuneQuest system, how to deal with mountains of lore, and more.

Of course we also talk about Skulldixon’s art (which features such pieces as the ducks above) and his own RPG products, all of which can be found on his website, and on DriveThruRPG. The cover image for the episode is of course also by Skulldixon, and used with permission.

We also mention:

Photo by Wayne’s Books

We are joined on this trip down memory lane by Doc Cowie, Doc sums up his credits as “40 years RuneQuest player, published one scenario”. Ludo also gets Doc to talk about his custom-made bronze shield depicting Chalana Arroy fighting Chaos, made by Type 40:

The RuneQuest shields were originally high-level stretch goals of a crowdfunding campaign, although they had a different design:

News

The corrected Weapon & Equipment Guide pdf has been released, fixing some of the initial oopsies.

Jeff’s interviews on the Chaosum Youtube channel on the 2022 RuneQuest plans.

The Early Days of Glorantha

Doc offers a very UK-centric perspective of how one would encounter and learn about Glorantha.

The first big UK release was “The Lair of the White Wyrm”, a RuneQuest scenario in White Dwarf in 1979.

Doc holds up his Games Workshop edition of RuneQuest 2, which he acquired at age 12.

Doc had actually picked up Cults of Prax at the Games Workshop store before acquiring RuneQuest, and remembers how he was awed and overwhelmed by that tome..

Doc outlines the competition of D&D and AD&D: There was Tunnels&Trolls and Traveller, and there was RuneQuest.

Doc recalls being intimidated by the entire concept, and kept it on the “mystical and somewhat obscure” pile of games.

Having played and enjoyed the Apple Lane scenarios (Gringle’s Pawnshop and Rainbow Mounds), the game went into a hiatus because his group was unsure what to do with this game beyond those published scenarios.

Griffin Mountain (the Games Workshop edition, again) came as a revelation what to do with RuneQuest. Doc recounts how their group distrusted the cults, and how their group had a Zorak Zorani troll and an elf in the party, with the two characters being good friends.

We discuss the sophistication of early teenage boys tackling a fantasy setting, roleplayer elitism and an instinctive “Your Glorantha May Vary” stance as the GM.

Doc recounts his experiences as regular GM until one of his players started to run a Pavis and Big Rubble campaign, alternating with Doc’s Griffin Mountain game.

Dpc pulls out his stack of photo-copied reference sheets, hand-outs and index cards.

When asked about the timeline, Doc confesses a God-time like timelessness for his Balazar campaign, with the only future event that mattered being the Cradle Scenario as the immense finishing piece for a Pavis-based campaign, always looming, never played.

Then came a disappointing hiatus when there weren’t any players of RuneQuest at Med-School, although a game was picked up again after a year or so.

We briefly touch upon the Dragon Pass boardgame, and then we go on to Doc’s almost traumatic experience of the first Convulsion which left him with the impression that everybody knew everything about Glorantha and that he sucked at RuneQuest.

He did meet Greg Stafford, though, and while he feared the “You’re not playing Glorantha as it is meant to be” boogeyman hiding behind the door,

Doc actually lent Issaries Inc some money to get the Hero Wars started, and with Hero Wars actually and finally providing some rules for heroquesting, he got interested and bought the material.

What re-ignited the Gloranthan fire was the Guide to Glorantha kickstarter (of 2013, fulfilled in 2015)

“I have Passion Glorantha 90%, but Knowledge Glorantha 40%.”

Doc goes on to enthuse about having played HeroQuest with Ian Cooper (who is currently in charge of the Questworlds successor line) and how that lends itself to go on mythical exploration.

Ludo brings up MAR Barker’s Tekumel and how he encouraged people to find out what is in Glorantha. Doc regales us with a private conversation with Greg Stafford, and how he reacted to Greg’s offer to explain a thing about Glorantha, and Doc felt he didn’t really have a question to ask. Instead, they discussed rearing children in a shamanic culture, and how myth contributes to that.

The weight of information behind Glorantha helps making it real and solid, even if you don’t apply that much of the vast amount of information.

From his current game, Doc tells about finding an actual bone of a god and making a magical dagger out of that, or finding an iron hauberk and giving it to the Earth Temple because it felt right, rather than one of the characters using it – something that would not occur to any player in a Dungeons and Dragons game.

We talk about everybody having magic and how that affected the way the game and its setting felt, and how people felt about playing that.

Ludo mentions the Year Zero Podcast with the impression that “everybody is playing a cleric.”

We talk about the impact of RuneQuest 3rd edition and how it was a disaster for the UK game scene.

Jörg gets to waffle a bit about his initial experiences starting with third edition RuneQuest and the Vikings box.

Doc sums t up that however much aspects of the rules might annoy him, there is still that way that certain outcomes make you feel which bring back the love you feel for the system.

Credits

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

For our third episode of our Initiation Series, we interview Erin McGuire, who was only supposed to play RuneQuest for one night, but hasn’t stopped for the past couple years, and is now possibly an heir to the throne of Sartar. These things happen, you know.

Throughout the episode we talk about this campaign. You can read the vast amount of game logs and lore information that Erin’s group has gathered on their Journey of Heroes wiki. In particular, you can read the crazy Gloranthan archeological articles that Erin has written, such as the Excavations Notes on Harbour Street Tower, the Skokkrafell Monolith, or a study of Rites of Passage in Ancient Esrolia. Note the bibliographies. Amazing, I tell you.

Erin is part of the Beer With Teeth collective, who has published numerous supplements for RuneQuest on the Jonstown Compendium, and now works with Chaosium on “official” books.

Erin is also part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which most of the creators of RuneQuest were also part of themselves a long time ago.

Art by Andrey Fetisov, used with permission from Chaosium Inc.

Ludo and Jörg are joined by Diana Probst, aka Berra from Beer With Teeth, bravely entering a realm of unreal time before sunrise.

News

Episode 2 of our Initiation to Glorantha series was released, and teasing upcoming interviews, including Diana’s

Ludo is chuffed about his review of the starter set making it onto the Chaosium blog.

The PDF of the Weapons and Equipment Guide is out, and it’s up to the listener whether to believe Diana’s tale of how her name appeared on the cover (There is no take-over of Chaosium’s Glorantha line by Beer With Teeth, according to Diana: “Too much work”).

The concept of providing your standard RPG lists of sharp and otherwise deadly items in context with the culture is what makes this a Gloranthan product,. Saying that it has been a dive into a Gloranthan midden might be mis-interpreting Ludo’s experience.

We discuss Chaosium’s naming sense for their Gloranthan products. Gamemaster Screen Pack for a scenario book with a sandbox was underselling the product, and the Weapons and Equipment Guide is really an introduction to the material culture of the world.

The New Gamemasters Month starts this January, a guided seminar teaching new game masters how to actually run a roleplaying game. Chaosium contributes with the RuneQuest Starter Set.

New on Jonstown Compendium we find To Hunt A God, the final volume of Austin Conrad’s Myth of the Month.

Diana is teasing that Beer With Teeth are about to deliver a manuscript to Chaosium supporting the Starter Set.

We mention Dario Corallo’s cardboard minis for the Rainbow Maps scenario, the Holyday Dorastor products The Seven Hills (containing eight scenarios) and two short christmas-themed ones, Krampuslauf and Joulupukki.

The Gloranthan West gets some attention, too, with the first in a series of map PDFs of Gloranthan regions starting with Kanthor’s Isles, and then there is Nick Brooke’s art-book illustrated by Katrin Dirim explaining The History of Malkionism.

(As always, you will find the complete listings of Jonstown Compendium new releases in our weekly Newsletter/Blogpost Journal of Runic Studies)

Main Topic

Adventures in Jonstown

In our main topic we aim to explore how to take the RuneQuest Starter Set and get more scenarios out of it.

Jörg praises the resources the city has to offer to adventurers (player characters), like the library.

Diana points out that by having played through the scenario the adventurers will have built up a reputation in the city,

We discuss how rather lengthy training efforts can tie an adventuring party down (e.g. ability training, which takes two seasons), and that the city of Jonstown can offer scenarios to do on the side without lengthy travel that would interrupt such training.

Ludo points out that the background information in the Glorantha Book (book 2 in the box) is designed to be given to both gamemasters and players, which means that all the information in that book contains hardly any narrative spoilers.

We discuss the motivation and background of the City Rex of Jonstown, Orngerin Holdfast, and his possible future.

Diana describes her modus operandi for preparing a gaming session. “At first I panic because it is only half an hour until the game.” and how she gets inspiration out of the headings of the book, and considers what would happen if one of those things have a problem, one that the adventurer party can be pointed at.

Jörg suggests to use the efforts to get the tribes to work together and form a cohesive military as the backdrop for inter-personal conflicts or even inter-tribal politics, using any of the NPCs in the book as a catalyst for the adventure. That could be top-down, as Ludo points out, or there could be minor street level events escalating.

Diana wants to involve the adventurers in the preparation for such an assembly and joint training.

Ludo suggests to look into the factions of the city and explore their agendas for scenario hooks and a web off intrigue.

Ludo mentions the Cherry Ridge groves with its medicinal jerret cherries tended by the Chalana Arroy cult (p.57), and how anything happening to the cherries may involved the local clans. He also reminds us why your characters will want to stay on the good side of the Chalana Arroy temple.

We talk about Birne’s Squeeze, already mentioned in the Colymar Adventure Book, as a place where you can expect bandits. How do these bandits become your problem? Your players might hire out as caravan guards in the region. Traders with unusually valuable goods may hire more guards than usual, but then there may be a risk that there might be bandits among those new hires. Might even the player characters, or they might join up to investigate what that caravan really is transporting.

A Life of Crime vs. Heroic Adventuring

Ludo talks about sorting his scenario hooks into “Below” hooks dealing with criminal or lawless agendas, and “Above” hooks with possibly more heroic stuff or politics out in the public.

There might be spies or spying for the Lunars going on.

Diana confesses that she often lets herself be surprised when it comes to criminal or covert activities in her games.

Ludo brings up the good old player suspicion of perfectly non-descript throw-away or “soup” characters that may derail your entire prepared plotline, and advocates to confirm the players’ story instincts. Diana suggests using a roll on the player characters’ POW to decide how right they are.

Jörg suggests using NPC record sheets as discussed in the Passions episode to develop such characters more or less on the fly.

Ludo maligns the Hornos brothers as the ultimate crime bosses, and how they might be the crime lords behind all underworld activities in Jonstown. Diana proposes a more political dark secret tied to their collaboration with the Lunar occupation forces and administration, and of course their massive profits from trading Lunar war booty.

Ludo brings up the problems plot possibilities that might result from having acquired somebody else’s heirlooms through some of those deals.

Diana points at Lyserian Goodspeech, the former City Rex under the Lunar occupation, and how he avoided being sent into exile because his tribe threw their full support behind him.

For the grognards, Jörg points out that all the traders in Jonstown would have been associates of Gringle, the pawn shop owner from Apple Lane who had gone missing following the demise of the former Thane of that hamlet.

At the very least, the connections to the Gamemasters Screen Package with its description including the hamlet of Apple Lane are a good tie in if you prefer to run published scenarios.

The circumstances of Gringle’s disappearance are described in the old HeroQuest/Questworlds demo PDF Return to Apple Lane.

You All Meet in a Pub, or in a Bathhouse?

Gaining a connection with regular residents of Jonstown, putting names and faces to the generic stats provided in the book.

Socializing can happen in the pub, in public baths, in the Chalana Arroy hospital, joining the militia.

Ludo expounds how relatively harmless militia duty may lead to favors that residents of the city may owe your adventurers.

Jörg points to the police procedurals on TV where militiamen (well, cops) come to interfere with plots of some of the high and mighty, possibly putting them in their bad books.

Diana talks about how crafters (and really all economic activities) come under the scrutiny of the guilds, and that suitably skilled adventurers may be offered (or demanded) a guild membership, which opens up another social circle of interactions and vested interests. Ludo mentions how the guilds (or the sages, or other temples) may act more easily as quest-givers if one of the adventurers is already a member of that organization.

Jörg points out that all the provided adventurers fail to mention any spouse or permanent love interest, and how providing some may connect the party to the place and give family or in-laws as another possible source of quest-givers or plot hook anchors.

Diana describes how she brings up marriage, childbirths etc. in the Sacred Time review of the year meta-session where the regular income and spendings of the characters are determined. She also uses marriages as rewards for adventures. (Keep in mind that temporary marriages are a big thing in Orlanthi society! Having a spouse for a year will not tie you down interminately!)

Ludo suggests that sufficiently notable characters might be pushed by their superiors towards political marriages to further some agenda. Even if it is over by next sacred time, that extra connection can be valuable.

We digress on discovering possibly unsavory skin care habits of new spouses, and being walled up upon discovery of those…

Ludo brings up the Noir Detective story genre, or the old chestnut of getting your clothes stolen in a bath, possibly mistaking them for somebody else’s ones suspected to contain plot hooks.

Diana rejects any and all accusations of planning forward her adventures. Instead, she uses NPCs the characters have a relation with and who they judge to be politically astute. Whether correctly so remains to be discovered. Between Jorjera Latish and Orngerin Holdfast, Diana reckons one is politically astute and the other may or may not take her their leads.

Introducing Plot Hooks

Ludo lists patrons and quest givers (potentially any of the important people mentioned in the book).

Diana suggests to look at the player characters’ passions, starting with Love Family or Loyalty Clan or Tribe which everybody gets. You can introduce plot-carrying NPCs as belonging to one of these target groups, or map the role of plot-carrying NPCs to an existing NPC contact in your game.

Diana offers “Miraculously, whatever the character is good at is exactly what the tribe wants of them.” Ludo counters with “These people are disposable.”

People from the place you stay at may serve as quest givers.

Amid pronunciation debates Ludo points to the opening in Wulfsland created by the majority of Jomes Wulf’s followers abandoning the former Maboder lands, and all the neighbors and kin of the previous owners may vie for.

Ludo suggests a plot line where the adventurers escort a group of people intent on re-settling those lands, only to find squatters or rivals with a similar claim having arrived before them, or about the same time.

Jörg points towards plots in the city that were formerly owned by the Maboder, starting with their tribal manor. We discuss things that may be found in their abandoned manor (or that of the Cinsina who left the Jonstown confederations a few years later), and that their portion of city plots may have gone to the Lunars, who aren’t here any more. (Many of their tenants still are, though, and may be looking at an insecure future.) Diana brings up buried hoards in some of the houses, left by people having to leave in a hurry.

Ludo suggests to have characters with “Hate Lunar Empire” protect and escort people still loyal to the Lunars moving out.

We discuss the ongoing trade volume with the Lunar Empire and the travel opportunities joining a trading caravan to Tarsh or just the still Lunar-occupied Far Place.

We discuss spying done by people in these caravans, and whether or how often traders of the Etyries cult will travel to and through Jonstown, bringing their Lunar goodwill habits to an audience that may be unwilling to accept that. Scribes and sages are information gatherers anyway, and might be used by opposing powers. And then there is Eurmal.

Diana suggests that if you play a spy game, create a bunch of eligible candidates and randomly determine who dunnit. Jörg brings up the Paranoia RPG’s concept of everybody following two secret agendas, and we riff on potential secrets within secrets plots.

Diana tells about a murder mystery where all player characters thought they had killed the victim (which actually had not been killed at all, but disappeared).

The Darkness Within Jonstown

Ludo suggests to use another common passion, Hate Trolls, and the fact that the Torkani tribal mansion houses trollkin for an involved crime investigation to hand to the militia, where the head librarian and known glutton with a sweet tooth Garangian Bronze-Guts gets a nightly visit by trollkin which doesn’t go undetected, while at the same time somebody else filched a scroll with possibly dangerous information, but definitely one a senior member of the temple cares about. Now the trollkin who did break into the library get identified and falsely accused for the scroll theft, and it is up to the militia how to deal with this.

(What is it about the sweet stuff, Ludo? Even the tale of a visit to the Block made you talk about sugar cubes…)

Ludo explains his prep work for something like this, giving the real theft maybe a paragraph or two in preparation, and improvising from there. Diana points out that this is fine for your personal game if you are an experienced gamemaster, but if you want a scenario you can hand over to a GM inexperienced with the setting or the rules, you will need to note down some alternatives for possible courses of action.

Ludo talks about keeping the pacing, so if your player adventurers interrogate the trollkin, they ought to learn more than just that they did steal the sweets. Possibly they saw a robed (or prominently bearded) person sneaking away during their escape.

Jörg suggests an alternative where the real culprits, or some other party desiring the stolen object, assumes that the player characters have the lead, asking enough leading questions during an uncomfortable interrogation that the players can pick up a lost trail.

Diana talks about NPC defenders of the story arc, and to place them as companions and plot-drivers with a group of inexperienced player investigators.

Diana outlines how she manages her NPCs in a fairly simple spread sheet, and how to find stuff in that.

We return to the trope of the players ignoring all the plot hooks and following the harmless NPC they feel is suspicious, and the resignating gamemaster yielding to the collected wisdom of the table and making that NPC a bearer of the plot.

But in the end, keep it small and as simple as you can get away with.

Ludo talks about the Schrödinger’s Reward, where a job well done as much as a job catastrophically failed at will lead to the same follow-up adventure, either to atone for the failure or because of the show of competence.

Jörg suggests to give the adventurers low-level contacts in all the institutions that might come up in their upcoming shenanigans to have at least one boot inside the door, and Diana suggests to have the adventurers bask in their fame for a job reasonably well done, getting offered free drinks as well as free plot hooks when they visit their pub or bathhouse.

Diana tells a tale about infant ducks (durulz) coming to take a look at the famous people (the adventurers) who might be able to heroically help them out.

Diana talks about taking inspiration from looking at the maps.

Ludo elaborates how reading about the system of food distribution among citizens inspired him to look for ways how people could abuse that system for their own advantage, whether through fraud, forgery, manipulated weights… and then goes into the dangers of having too many opinionated intellectuals in a small place.

“The dog ate my homework” and what kind of ideas just mentioning that can trigger.

Joh Mith is a valuable NPC because of his wide-ranging connections outside of Jonstown, and some of those may be enemies with a hostile agenda.

Creating characters from Jonstown using the RuneQuest Wiki simplified character creation rules offers a way to bring in replacement characters.

We discuss a few possible follow-up scenarios on the Jonstown Compendium, and talk about some of the smaller Beer With Teeth scenarios that have ties to some of the adventures in book 4 of the starter set.

  • Rocks Fall might tie in with the third scenario of the Starter Set
  • Stone and Bone as a possible follow-up to the second scenario of the Starter Set, or near Birne’s Squeeze
  • Vinga’s Ford is suggested for the Apple Lane region, but that’s just west of Jonstown
  • A Tale of Woodcraft could be set near Tarndisi’s grove just south of Birne’s Squeeze

Other community content scenarios or sand boxes set in the region:

  • Monster of the Month Petty Spirits 2 has the Bookwyrm, a monster certainly attracted to the library of Jonstown
  • The Red Deer Saga exploring the Namolding clan living between Jonstown and Apple Lane, whether as a bundle or as single products that will give you a discount when you buy the bundle
  • In a Merry Green Vale explores the Lysang clan, another Tree Triaty clan severed from the Colymar on the road from Jonstown to Apple Lane
  • The Duel of Dangerford describes a battle of Dangerford different from what happens in the solo scenario, a year later. It might cause a few continuity kinks, but is another exciting opportunity to encounter Lunar forces in full panoply while giving the player adventurers agency.

Apologies if we missed any other pertinent Jonstown Compendium content – we advise our listeners to visit there and discover things for themselves anyway.

Credits

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

Diana’s Post Credits Bonus

In a last minute recording, Diana reveals what project Beer With Teeth is working on for Chaosium. Their manuscript is ready to hand out, but the book is likely a long ways away.

Art from King of Dragon Pass, by A-Sharp

On this second episode of the Glorantha Initiation Series, we interview Russano Greenstripe.

Russsano discovered Glorantha with King of Dragon Pass, a game by A-Sharp, available on pretty much any platforms you’d want to play on.

If he could start a Gloranthan game, Russano would pick QuestWorlds as a ruleset. In the meantime, he has brought Eurmal to his in D&D game. We also discuss 13th Age: Glorantha, available from Chaosium. The core system is available from Pelgrane Press.

D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths is available on Amazon and most probably in your friendly local bookstore.

The music album Carmen Miranda’s Ghost is on YouTube.

Information on Greg Stolze’s REIGN is available here, including access to PDFs and Print-on-Demand of the first edition. Information on GODLIKE is available from ArcDream. Unknown Armies is available from Atlas Games.

Visit the Wyvern’s Tale in North Carolina!

The (unofficial) Chaosium Discord is found here. The Cult of Chaos Discord is for members of the (free and easy to join) Cult of Chaos.

Archives of old Gloranthan discussions are on Tapatalk (such as here), but there’s also a lot on Chaosium’s Well of Daliath. The old mailing lists are archived here by a good Samaritan.