The Sixth Action

From there we came outside and saw the stars.

RuneQuest: Glorantha Character Sheet

Even the PDF release of RQG seems still far off in the uncertain future, so in a fit of impatience, and a desire to actually begin a campaign in Glorantha, I set out this weekend to create a character sheet to use with the preview copy of the rules a friend kindly procured for me from GenCon. The results of my efforts can be downloaded through this post, and I ask only that I receive due credit if you repost it somewhere else.

Hopefully it serves you well in any and all gaming you use it with.

Character Sheet

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GURPS Glorantha: Magic (Heroforming)

HeroForming

Heroforming is the process by which a magically powerful individual becomes a channel for a divine[1] entity, and in some cases becomes entirely inhabited by it. In gross terms, Heroforming is accomplished when a mundane individual acts so like a divine being that he manifests it into the material world.

In general, a hero may attempt to assume the identity of one of three classes of being, as listed below. The categories so listed are general guidelines for the GM to create his own, and each cult will have its own identities available to it; see the cult write-up for details on the abilities granted by the heroformed identity, on the rituals necessary to achieve it, and on the behavior required to maintain it.

  1. A god: (-8)
    1. Attribute Modifiers: Increases two by +8 and two by +6
    2. Secondary Characteristics: Increases one by +8 and one by +6
    3. Advantages: Provides four advantages
    4. Disadvantages: Inflicts two disadvantages
    5. Skills: Provides ten skills/spells at 24 or at +8, whichever is higher
  2. Demigod: (-4)
    1. Attribute Modifiers: Increases two by +4 and two by +2
    2. Secondary Characteristics: Increases one by +4 and one by +2
    3. Advantages: Provides two advantages
    4. Disadvantages: Inflicts one disadvantage
    5. Skills: Provides five skills at 22 or at +6, whichever is higher
  3. An ancestor: (+0)
    1. Attribute Modifiers: Increases two by +2
    2. Secondary Characteristics: Increases one by +2
    3. Advantages: Provides one realistic/non-cinematic advantages
    4. Disadvantages: Inflicts one disadvantage
    5. Skills: Provides two skills at 18

A heroform is knowledge of how to channel the divine energy through a hero’s person and as such is represented as a skill which can be improved like any other. For a hero to activate it requires a successful Religious Ritual skill test followed by a test of the heroform skill that the hero is attempting to adopt.

These rules use a ancestor heroform as a baseline, and also assume that a hero has sufficient time to prepare and complete his ritual, and has the appropriate regalia to support his heroform. Each element missing of the latter two imposes an additional -4 penalty (cumulative) to both his Religious Ritual and heroform skill roll.

Heroforming is a fatiguing process, and requires one Fatigue Point (FP) to maintain each minute it is in effect.

Heroforming is also a risky process, and requires that the hero continue to act in a manner in accordance with the divine identity. Each time the hero fails to do so, he loses one FP and must succeed at a heroform skill roll or fall out of the heroform, suffer 1d of additional fatigue, and be Stunned.

If a hero is heroformed during combat, he loses one additional FP when combat fatigue is normally lost. The hero also loses one FP each time he takes damage, and must make a heroform skill roll with a negative penalty equal to the amount of damage taken. On a successful roll the hero maintains the heroform; if he fails he falls out of the heroform, suffers 1d of additional fatigue, and is Stunned for one round.

[1] In this context, the term divine refers only to a being which has a permanent presence in the Gloranthan Otherworld, rather than a god.

GURPS Glorantha: Magic Update

A quick update on the use of prayer in Glorantha. I know I said that this project was pretty much over… but I had the thoughts rolling around in my head, so I figured I’d post them. I have a couple more additions on funerary rights and on Heroforming which I might finalize soon.

Prayer

A prayer is a quick, verbal plea to the god for attention and succor. This is worth a single Rune Point on a successful Religious Ritual roll, and can be performed once per day.

A more powerful but indirect use of prayer is in sending aid to a community’s heroes, and can be used to augment the capabilities of a hero by temporarily manipulating his game statistics. This is a direct transaction between the man praying (the supplicant) and the hero; a deity is not involved.

The actual benefits which a hero may accumulate from prayers are as far-reaching as the GM wishes. These rules essentially allow prayer to provide temporary Character Points (CP) such as those used during character creation – with the removal of all restrictions. Prayer thus allows heroes access to advantages (such as Damage Resistance or Extended Lifespan) or inhuman attribute and skill levels that would normally be banned during character creation. It is important to note that these CP are spent by the community for the hero, and last only as long as the supplicants continue to pray.

Each person praying for the hero provides the equivalent of one GURPS Character Point, which can be “spent” to improve the hero – the way in which these points are spent is determined by the supplicants. A hero may ask his community to pray for his strength or his skill or whatever else he likes, but it is ultimately their decision – the GM should be forgiving in this regard. This improvement lasts for one day, and can be extended for as long as the supplicants continue to pray for the hero.

Such prayer can be augmented using any of the below methods of worship (sacrifice, ritual, location, and time) and provide a number of CP equal to the number of RP they would normally provide. If this occurs, these RP are not concurrently generated for those carrying out the worship – they are directly converted to CP for the hero and are lost to the supplicants.

GURPS Glorantha

After the initial burst of activity, I haven’t completed much more work on this project. I will soon be leaving the country for a few months, and will therefore be unable to actually put any of this to use, or to continue its work. A further drain results from the fact that by the time I return, the new edition of Runequest will most probably have been released. And while GURPS does have my affection, I doubt the amount of work needed to convert cults, beasties, and magic would really be worth it. I will most likely restrict myself to throwing in some options from GURPS’s combat system to augment Runequest’s.

Rather than let this fallow in my harddrive, I thought I would post it here so that someone might use the work I’ve done to kickstart their own effort or to bolster their own campaign. If you do, please let me know! I’d love to hear about it.

 

GURPS Glorantha: GM Sheet

GURPS Glorantha: Prologue Adventure

GURPS Glorantha: Prologue Obstacles Sheet

GURPS Glorantha: NPC Sheet

GURPS Glorantha: Magic

GURPS Glorantha: Orlanth Cult

Path to the Sea: Fiction in Glorantha RPGs

I was recently privileged to read the short story/excerpt “Morden Defends the Camp” – which I understand to be only a part of an unfinished novel by Greg Stafford. It made me wonder again, as I’ve wondered before, why there seems to be such a small amount of fiction for Glorantha. I’ve been reading about and following Glorantha for several years now, but for the first time I felt like I intuitively understood the way the world functioned; I understood what it was to be a hero in Glorantha – something that several years of reading Gloranthan books and playing Glorantha games had failed to instill in me in as visceral a way as had this story.

Let’s face it, Glorantha books read like reference texts – this observation is not meant as criticism, but as a statement of fact: two of the last three major releases for Glorantha are explicitly reference works. The Coming Storm and The Guide to Glorantha are both catalogs of setting detail, and while there’s nothing wrong with this, it does beg the question of what about these books will draw in a new player or a casual reader. The art, perhaps, and there are people for whom lore is sufficient, but I think those people are rare. Some games have the advantage of universal themes (or no themes at all), which require little explication (or obviate it completely). Glorantha, with its (in)famous depth, is not one of those games. It needs a hook, a guide, a lead-in to its world. Do not throw the casual reader into the ocean and say “swim!”; they will rebel. Draw them in first to the shallows – teach them to love the water, then show them the sea and they will dive in of their own accord.

Fiction provides that hook. Good fiction establishes the mechanics of the world it occupies. It creates structure. The events of its narrative, the characters peopling it, and the world surrounding all of it give context to teach the reader what the world is all about. A good piece of fiction arms the reader with an innate grasp of the physics of the world; in an RPG, the player may then immerse himself in the setting with the faith that he has some familiarity with what his character should be, and what his character can be.

The Heroquest RPG rules are somewhat analogous to this structural problem. In fact, Heroquest was for several years the only experience I had with Glorantha; it was the rule system for the first two Glorantha campaigns that I ran, and though I enjoyed its free nature, and the way it could scale up or down to encompass many different levels of play, and how “Sneaky Like an Alynx 17” was a useful skill, Heroquest was not the game for me, nor for the three groups that I have run it for. For each of the groups, the problem was always the same: what do we do? And: How do I know what my character can do? And: What does my magic look like and how does it work? Perhaps this is my failing as a GM, but I would submit that the mechanics for a game should support the function of the game’s world.

Perhaps the most explicit example of this comes in the “Dwarf’s Armring” adventure from the Sartar Companion. I love this adventure, as it rewards players for acting with suitably Orlanthi distrust of foreigners (by not trusting the dwarf, blame for the dragon’s attack falls on others), and can be the germ of a great quest to either Tink or Old Wind, where the players may encounter strange and bizarre Gloranthan secrets. One thing has always bothered me about the adventure though, and this is the acquisition of Orlanth’s Dragonbreaking power at Old Wind Temple. What does the Dragonbreaking power do? What does it look like? What is it, even – and how does it work? How does the hero acquire it, and how does he change once he has? The adventure does not cover this, and I as the narrator had no idea how to frame it other than as a new ability which now allows the hero to kill the dragon. Here, the description of the Dragonbreaking Power would inform our understanding of the world – instead it is simply another bland ability on a character’s sheet. As the GM, I could make something up, but it’s a missed opportunity to explore Gloranthan myth and legend.

Glorantha is long on facts about itself, but it has less to bring those facts to life. The world, the peoples, their history and myth are the things we love about it to the point that the term “scholars of Glorantha” is often used. I am no different in my love of these things, but I contend that there should be a greater focus on the individual as a player character. Tell us about the heroes of Glorantha; tell us about their spirit guardians, and how they are bound to their masters; tell us about their magic, how it looks and feels; tell us how they use and acquire it. Show me what I can be, then use the rules to tell me how to be it.

Seshnelan Crusade Campaign Frame

I’ve been recently working on a new campaign set in Glorantha, centered around four Seshnelan knights going into exile with Rikard the Tiger Hearted in his search for the fabled city of Malkonwal. My hope is that this will be a regular and long-running game, as opposed to my previous attempts in Glorantha.

What follows is my initial attempt to formulate a general outline for what I envision the campaign to involve: primarily warfare, politics, and land management. We will see how cooperative my players are and how interested they are in the various sections of the campaign to be.

Also included is a relationship diagram for Rikard’s army which outlines the four “battalions” constituting it, listing their lords, captains, and wizards. My intention is for this to help drive the political side of the campaign, allowing the insertion of new characters and displaying graphically the interconnection between the many different party groups.

Campaign Outline Relationship Diagram v2

Imperial Characters

I’ve been pretty busy for the last few months, and haven’t really had time to organize or continue the Heroquest Glorantha campaign I had been running. Things should be calming down here in the next month or so, and I’ve been doing a little work in anticipation of that by setting up a one-shot scenario to get myself and my players back in the swing of things.

I’m attaching a set of four characters I’ve created for the scenario, and I’ll try to get the actual adventure written and posted by mid-March at the latest. I make no promises as to the balance of these characters or their adherence to the creation rules in Heroquest — and, as always, YGWV.

Let me know what you think if you have a few minutes to comment below. I’d appreciate the input.

Imperial Characters