Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Your Glorantha May Vary

Glorantha's a massive, confusing, arcane, and wondrous world. It has some of the most convoluted, contradictory, and paradoxical setting material available. I had owned several RQ books (Chaosium & AH) for years, but hadn't really read it until the mid '90s. And then I came to love it. And then I went onto the message boards and got seriously confused. Eventually I learned this phrase: Your Glorantha May Vary. The setting you put on the table isn't going to look like anyone else's. You have to detach, and learn to love everything for how you're going to bastardize it for your game. 

Sherri's started working on a Glorantha PbP game and so has dragged out all the old books. That's got me thinking about my old campaigns. Below are 23 things about my Glorantha. Some might match canon, some might slightly diverge, and others are well and truly wtf. If you don't know Glorantha, then here are just 23 weird bits for you. 

  1. The Mostali are hidebound grognard gamers. They’re rules lawyers, constantly referencing the book for everything. They can’t stand how people are homebrewing the world. Just use the rules of the universe as written.
  2. The Humakti are kind of the Grey Wardens (Dragon Age) of Glorantha. I also always pronounce them “Humankti”
  3. The Harn Gods exist as another array and blend in with things. They think they’re the progenitor gods and have a whole hierarchy obsessed with bringing others under their mantle. The say Agrik's the father of the Red Goddess. Larani claims dominion over the Orlanthi. 
  4. Some humans want to be trolls. There are places where they can achieve that- a physical and mental transformation into something like a Troll. It's a whole caste system in one of the regions. 
  5. When two cultures, races, or peoples intersect for a long, long time, you eventually get syncretic gods who blend together elements of those cultures.
  6. The Broo are the worst. The absolute worst. They’re awful and contagious and terrible and players shouldn’t want to be within one mile of them.
  7. The Giant’s Cradle comes down the river. It comes out of myth. The giants carved it out of a massive piece of lumber. Somewhere up in the mythic hills there’s a giant fallen tree. It dams up the Zola Fel. Heroes have to go find it and figure out how to deal with it.
  8. Ginna Jar is the spirit of the Circle. She’s the Goddess of Compacts and Uniting for a Purpose.
  9. A chunk of the guard work in Pavis is undertaken by Vigiles. They’re like Roman patrolmen/firefighters. They look and sound like background characters from the Marcus Didius Falco novels.
  10. No one can keep track of all the Malkioni. They can’t even keep track. You’ve got “High Knight” Malkioni, Assyrian-looking Malkioni, Malkioni who think they’re Orlanthi, and so on. Everybody shakes their heads about this.
  11. The geography of my Glorantha is completely wrong. Why? Because I patched bits of it into a campaign setting, specifically the Valley of Prax. This was when I only had a copy of Pavis and Big Rubble. Then I read the Wyrm’s Footprints compendium and Cults of Prax. I started to add in more and more. It’s a terrible bastardization I keep trying to fix. But the players know it so well, having played in it on and off for twenty-years. So I have come to love the incoherent weirdness of it.
  12. There are many Pharaohs. They’re all the same Pharaoh. They come from across time and from many dimensions. In one of them the Clanking City hunts him across an empty landscape. The Pharaoh knows that eventually he has to gather all of himselves and head to the End of Time and do battle there and be destroyed.
  13. Nochet’s a massive and ancient city. It’s huge. It has expanded out in sections and rings. But as it has done that, it abandoned the center. There are vast, forgotten neighborhoods and plazas gone to seed. The city’s so massive that different urchin guides only know a section of it. They know how to get you to the next guide in the next area over. Nochet has a host of forgotten gods, allies of the founder.
  14. The Pavis Old Mint device is a Play-Doh Fun Factory for Giants. If you read my scenario in Masks of Pavis, you'll see that. 
  15. Arlaten is actually spelled Artallen. He’s an awesome patron. The Coders are the best NPCs in the world and entirely reasonable, if serious. Everyone loves a metal dog.
  16. The Aldryami are boring. There was a race of Elves made of flesh before they came along. The Grower made them and thought they were awesome. But they he made the Aldryami and thought they were better. So the other Elves left. They came back much later in another part of the world and are called the Shaddai.
  17. Some of the new provinces of my Glorantha have names taken from Clark Ashton Smith stories. Zothique, Vemdeez, Cincor.
  18. Arkati are cultic doppelgangers. They appear to belong to any cult and figure out how to do that cultic magic and ritual cult when they’re in it. They make a mockery of divine dedication. They’re also jerks.
  19. When Delecti left the Upland Marsh, he went to another Moon. Sometimes Sorcerers and Necromancers fly up there try to challenge him up there in airless space.
  20. Glorantha needs more cool female cults. I made a bunch of those or changed things on existing cults to make them awesome. One PC was the only female Shagashi.
  21. Lord Death on a Horse was neutralized by throwing a magic monkey onto his back, collected from Beast Valley after a group of lava-worm riding heretic Mostali led some adventurers there.
  22. If you’re not using Jack-O’Bears, you’re doing something wrong.
  23. The Secret of the God Learners is that they’re terrible, min-max, munchkin players. They saw how the game worked and figured out how to exploit it and pissed the GM off. So he crashed the campaign and forbid anyone from talking about it…

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