[Glorantha] Good setting. How the @#%! do you play it?

TkNyarlathotep

Registered User
Validated User
Hey friends.

Okay, so, the thread title is the tl;dr. Here's the long version.

I've dug into multiple versions of Glorantha, and it really is very good, just a very excellent world. 13G finally convinced me to start exploring it, and RQG is pretty much on my instant pull list if we get it this Gen Con. I just wanna know:

How the fuck do you play a game in Glorantha?

By and large, Glorantha is -in no way- connected to modern day morality, or even culture. It's not a case of "everyone is horrible" like, say, 40k, but the cultures are so bizarre and alien and /insistent/ that you follow according to their laws, that without having a literal encyclopedic knowledge of the culture that would be gained from actually living in it (or reading about it since it came out), portraying an accurate version of the setting would be impossible, and playing it at all would be an exercise in madness. Unless you really dumb it down, this would be such a hard world to portray that you'd be better served just...playing something else, I guess? I don't know.

I've asked for where to start to learn about Glorantha and, despite the endless library of recommendations, I finally got it down enough that I know my ins and outs. I have learned about Glorantha.

Now how in the fuck do I play​ in Glorantha?

Edited to add a mini-rant: The closest thing the setting has to modern morality and thought is Illumination, and it requires you to be a completely alien hyper-sorcerer that everyone hates and wants to destroy.
 
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bv728

Was he a violent man?
Validated User
Rule #1 of Glorantha is Your Glorantha Will Vary. Much of what has been published around Glorantha isn't really for gaming, but instead for folks who want those details, but they're rarely canon in any effective way, and the first question you need to ask yourself is 'What do I like here, and what kinds of adventures does it lend itself to?'

I also don't think the cultures are all that Alien. Want someone to generate a passable Orlanthi character? Tell them to make a Tribal Viking and give them a three line summary of the major Wind Gods. Lunar? 'Decadent, Conquering Rome, worships a transgressive moon goddess' gets you more than halfway there.

If you want to use all the details, you need a group that wants to use all the details. If not, you still get a good amount of flavour and colour from the broader strokes, something different from a more generic D&D setting. There's a reason early Glorantha was very Pavis focused, and that reason is that Dungeon Crawls into Pavis for relics were the default game style, and they've gone out of their way to support that through many versions.

I love the detail that many of the Glorantha books possesses, but as a setting at my table, I usually only dig into a few of them that matter to the game I'm playing, and just ignore the rest. For me, Accuracy is the enemy, because it gets in the way of playing the game for me and my players. I've seen a similar 'must use the details' used on other well beloved settings like the Forgotten Relms and Dragonlance, and woooo, did those go just as badly for us as a detail oriented Glorantha game.
 

ChalkLine

Rogue Conformist
Validated User
There are many ways to play in Glorantha, but forget everything but the bit you want to zoom in for playing. Characters have no idea how big anything is, even their own region, and most other places are just names and a vague direction.

I've played a trollkin (a tiny sub-troll) who thought the ruined city he lived in was the whole world and if you went beyond the walls you died. Most other places are myth and mystery.

As to the gods, well understanding how the god's religions work is important for the GM but not the players. Relax in the mystery of it all.
 

ffilz

Registered User
Validated User
Don't get hung up on all the setting detail. Pick some things that grab your interest and run with them. Drop anything you want into the setting.

Rinse, repeat, and have fun.

With one group I got a bit too bogged down in the setting stuff, not enough to destroy the game, but enough to after the fact realize that the most fun I had was when I took bits and pieces and ran with it, dropping my own stuff in as I saw fit.

Frank
 

AndrewTBP

You are Number 6
RPGnet Member
Validated User
My 1st recommendation is to buy the iOS/Android/Steam game King of Dragon Pass and play it to get a fine grasp on life as an Orlanthi.
My 2nd recommendation is to run the Horn of Snakepipe Hollow adventure in the 13G book. I ran it several times during playtesting for newbies to Glorantha and it worked A-OK every time.
My 3rd recommendations are the same as all the ones everyone else has made. ;)

My last few Glorantha games have concentrated on the Narri clan and Runegate next to the Upland Marsh in Sartar. Works well for me and my players.
 
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Balac

Registered User
Validated User
I'd take a page from good old Runequest 2e where the default assumption (at least for every group I was ever a part of) for PC's was wandering adventures / mercenaries who might get involved with the various factions / tribes around Dragon Pass but were not necessarily part of them. Granted outsiders from vaguely defined other place isn't as 'immersive' but it does allow a group of players to go in cold and pick up bits of local lore as the go along. Adventures like Borderlands or The Big Rubble may feel a little too old school for some players but they still do a great job of getting you playing in Gloarantha straight away no deep background research required.
 

g33k

Registered User
Validated User
Hey friends.

Okay, so, the thread title is the tl;dr. Here's the long version.

I've dug into multiple versions of Glorantha, and it really is very good, just a very excellent world. 13G finally convinced me to start exploring it, and RQG is pretty much on my instant pull list if we get it this Gen Con. I just wanna know:

How the fuck do you play a game in Glorantha?

By and large, Glorantha is -in no way- connected to modern day morality, or even culture. It's not a case of "everyone is horrible" like, say, 40k, but the cultures are so bizarre and alien and /insistent/ that you follow according to their laws, that without having a literal encyclopedic knowledge of the culture that would be gained from actually living in it (or reading about it since it came out), portraying an accurate version of the setting would be impossible, and playing it at all would be an exercise in madness. Unless you really dumb it down, this would be such a hard world to portray that you'd be better served just...playing something else, I guess? I don't know.

I've asked for where to start to learn about Glorantha and, despite the endless library of recommendations, I finally got it down enough that I know my ins and outs. I have learned about Glorantha.

Now how in the fuck do I play​ in Glorantha?

Edited to add a mini-rant: The closest thing the setting has to modern morality and thought is Illumination, and it requires you to be a completely alien hyper-sorcerer that everyone hates and wants to destroy.
The classic advice is "start small" -- a tribal Orlanthi stead, etc... a Praxian group (either all one tribe (e.g. all-Bison) or allied religious traditions (e.g. all Paps-Society followers), etc... a group working in/with/for an Issaries caravan, etc.. Etc, etc... Create an intro-story (or set of a FEW linked stories), and cue the growth of your (and your players) development of Your Glorantha (which Varies) based upon what was most interesting to y'all.

I'd suggest getting one of the Moon Design all-in-one "Glorantha Classics" line (now available from Chaosium.com)... "Borderlands & Beyond" for a series of adventures in a classic "campaign" style, or "Griffin Mountain" for a more-sandbox-y campaign in the "Elder Wilds;" etc. I guess (if you're feeling that lost) I'd suggest the more-structured Borderlands as better support for getting started.

But honestly, I haven't found the Gloranthan cultures all THAT alien/weird; they work off of recognizable Earthly tropes... just not the bog-standard generic "pseudo-medieval pastiche" ones.

Take Prax. The Nomads, Beast-riders. WTF, you say?

Begin with a mashup of Amerind/NativeAmerican tribes X Mongols X Bedouins, but include diversity such as the many African tribes; reverence for their beasts but tempered with practical survival. So far, we're following straight-up Earthly tropes. Each Tribe rides a separate species of Beast (none Horses, which are taboo)... OK, that's weird; but hardly unmanageable!

Set them down in the Wastes of Prax, a sort of magico-mythical post-apocalyptic wasteland where only the Survival Covenant keeps them alive... so, tribal/primitive Mad Max with magic & critters instead of guns & cars? uhhh... OK, yeah, got it.

Shortform the Storm-Tribe/Orlanthi story ('cos it's an important "how/why" but the details are peripheral to Prax) about the death of Yelm-the-Sun, the Darkness, & Chaos invading. Stress how dangerous Chaos is: not D&D-esque "freedom & choice" but entropic destruction-of-all fused with primal-creative any/everything; 99% corruptive death & 1% horrifying beauty. Mention the fall of Genert, & explain the Eiritha / Storm Bull story slaying the Devil at great cost, their son Waha & his Survival Covenant. But pretty much all fantasy worlds have their mythologies, so... par for THAT course. But emphasize the importance of joining a Cult and of having a community; that the "isolated loner" trope is pretty-nearly suicidal.

The source-tribes, the mythical post-apocalypse ... it's not the average fare, but mostly it's stuff the average gamer will recognize!
 
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artikid

passerby
Validated User
I've played little Glorantha and I'm usually repulsed by large amounts of Canon and Lore, however, treating Lunars as chaotic Romans and Orlanthi as celto-germanic tribes worked OK.
Or at least that is where you can start easily, the rest will follow.
 
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