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