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.

News

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.

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.

Art by Diana Probst

This episode was recorded in November 2021.

For this Initiation Series interview we welcome back Diana Probst, the totally biologically human member of Beer With Teeth, which we already had on the show with some of her collaborators in Episode 6: Gamemastering RuneQuest.

Diana talks about her obsessive approach to RPGs and RPG settings, and her early years playing Amber Diceless Roleplaying and its offpsring Lords of Gossamer & Shadow, from Jason Durall (now line editor for RuneQuest). She mentions the “fractal gaming” of Glorantha, and the “constructive cosmology” that she engages in with her RuneQuest groups, including inventing many things related to the cult of Humakt and general YGMV approach. We also brush upon her move from a rules-light narrative system to a crunchy simulationist system.

In the last stretch of the episode we talk about physical play aids, stolen webcams, and tea bribes. To wrap things up we usually go into short and simple “wildcard questions” but the first one sends us on a giant digression about Gloranthan sports and “dwarf spotting”, so we figured we wouldn’t ask a second one.

Other things mentioned in this episode:

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.