Castle Stahleck

From: Nick Brooke (100656.1216@CompuServe.COM)
Date: Fri 31 May 1996 - 18:57:16 EEST

Last weekend I attended the 7th German RQCon, held at Castle Stahleck. Despite
the venue's evocative name, no despotic overlords plotting world domination were
in evidence (unless you count the RQ-Society's committee members!). The castle
is now a youth hostel overlooking the Rhine, with a steep climb to the
picturesque village below.

The Megacorp was well represented this year, with David Hall, David Gadbois,
David Cheng, Dan Barker, Rick Meints, Lewis Jardine, and myself in attendance.
We held a couple of sessions: a Lore Auction (damn' good value in DM), my
Cultural Exchange (mostly on Malkionism), and a session by David Hall on his
Lismelder Campaign. The crowds were friendly and the beer flowed like water.
There was much playing of Mythos, Dragon Pass, and Into the Dark Continent. I
sang and capered. Fun was had by all.

Quite apart from all that, the highlight of the Convention was the new freeform,
"The Rise of Ralios". This was backed by a *beautiful* book, far more readable
than last year's Jonstown logorrhea. We foreign guests played barbarous
outlanders soiling the fringes of the chivalrous Tournament of Kustria. Tartan
and woad were much in evidence, and proliferated later in the game.

        + + +

I, Garundyer, Hero of the Seven Storms and without a doubt the most powerful
living Orlanthi heroquester in Glorantha today (thanks, Jeff!), began the game
sulking in my tent: King Kocholang (D.Cheng) had snubbed me by appointing my
best friend, Trokatan Who-Saw-The-Lightning (D.Barker) as Tribal Champion in my
place, and I was having none of it. Although our kingdom of Lankst was oppressed
by the sorcerous heretical henotheists of Otkorion, I would not raise a finger
in their defence.

So, incognito (as "Harmast the Traveller"), I hung around the fringes of the
tournament, acting as a simple Orlanthi abroad, reciting "Sweet Green Woman" to
any impressionable damsels I found, snubbing Henotheists and trolls, and
searching for the Foreigner Hero my colleague Harandros the Iron Brain had
prophesied would either help or hinder us against our foes.

Before too long, King Arzuban Ironarms (L.Jardine) had recruited me for a daring
Lightbringers Quest. This was one of my game objectives, so I joined in with
gusto, volunteering myself as Flesh Man (so as to represent the "Average
Orlanthi" as a figure of heroic proportions!). The black Night Magics of the
Trolls were spreading across the land, and we had to move fast. We picked up a
Lhankor Mhy, a Chalana Arroy and a Fool (D.Fahey) easily, but had more
difficulty with the Issaries trader and the Ginna Jar. Then Arzuban noticed that
the wandering Moose Man (R.Meints) had been trading pelts earlier... All but one
place was cast.

We were looking for a Ralia priestess to bind our multi-ethnic Ring together --
we had been assured one was in the game -- and this is where the downside of
freeform costuming came in. There were a crowd of black-hearted Trolls in the
game, mostly wearing heavy leather coats and shades; we had assumed the
purple-haired nose-studded black-clad girl was attached to their faction.
Imagine our surprise when we learnt she was our errant priestess. A quick spell
of persuasion and oath-taking, and our Ring was now complete: I revealed my true
identity to my comrades-in-arms, and we took the Low Road to Hell.

There, we found the slumbering spirit of a great Hero, and awakened it.
Returning to the world, we discovered we had brought back Arkat the Liberator --
and better yet, he was already carrying the Runes of Orlanth. (A quick dash of
woad and they looked even better). Our crusade against our enemies seemed sure
to succeed: if only we could agree who they might be. Arzuban preferred to
hammer the Trolls, I myself had set my sights on the Henotheists.

To my horror, I discovered Arkat recruiting among the sorcerous, tainted,
Tap-using Henotheists for his forthcoming war. I strove to point out that this
was the error he had made in his past life -- that taking some allies was going
Too Far -- that some powers (sorcery; trollery) must be left along. I delivered
my rebuke from a position of moral strength, then took my leave to join Arzuban
in dismantling the Henotheist Church of Otkorion by force of words alone.

Klostron the Shallow Wind (D.Gadbois) converted, and was woaded up. Surantyr the
Non-Heretic (aka. "the Non-Child-Abuser" in our faction: "what's he trying to
hide?") converted -- though I came perilously close to killing him instead. More
woad. Sir Storm converted: more woad. Our foes were in disarray, and our former
foes were blue in the face...

But by now there were now three Arkats. One was our unreliable ally, one a
stinking Troll, and the third the son of Foyalfine -- who I had already defied
and insulted for a lady's honour. They claimed to be the same person, and to be
plotting war against each other and the world -- their insanity was obvious.
Accepting upon myself the responsibility for our failed Lightbringers Quest, we
did as Harmast Barefoot had done before, and returned to Hell to seek a New
Light. And boy, did we find one!

My people remember Arkat the Traitor with hatred -- he destroyed the Bright
Empire and let Chaos into the world. We knew and loved Nysalor. And it was to
that deity that we now turned, following in the footsteps of the Red Goddess on
her quest to recover the Light of Illumination. We returned to the world riding
a giant Star Bear, ready to challenge the Arkats (four, now!). But it seemed we
were too late.

Everyone was mustering for war, and it would be the Chaos Wars all over again,
the fair lands of Ralios left as dust, ooze and ashes, civilisation destroyed
and life extinguished, krjalki proliferating across the wasteland of the world.
We travelled between the factions as unarmed emissaries, preaching peace and
praying for the rulers to remember the spirit of Kustria, the reason they had
come together to this place. But it seemed our words were in vain...

Until a spider whispered in my ear that there was a Fifth Arkat, Argin Terror.
If we could assemble all the peoples of Ralios to make war on that monstrous
sorcerous Lord of Chaos, all of the Arkats would depart the world again, riding
upon our Star Bear to their (his?) constellation in the sky. I spoke to the
Tournament King of Kustria, and he mustered the expedition. All the peoples of
Ralios, who had been divided by their race and tribe, kingdom and creed, united
against a common foe. It was "I Fought, We Won" all over again. Ralios rose, and
we were saved.

        + + +

This was without a doubt the most stressful freeform I have ever played in. My
role placed a HUGE amount of weight on my shoulders, as I felt responsible, not
only for the impending destruction of everything we loved, but also for all the
other players out there, suffering from the information bottleneck between the
Lightbringers, the Arkats, and the rest of the world. (The game was good for us,
but I worried about other people who were "out of the loop", and spent a fair
amount of time wandering around apologising to them in character -- that old
Orlanthi Responsibility trip).

In the course of the day I went from a nobody to a Hero and back again,
completed the three most dangerous heroquests in Gloranthan myth, destroyed a
false religion, and liberated all the peoples of my homeland from the oppression
of demigods and dead heroes. There would be wars in Ralios, to be sure, but they
would be our own wars, not those of the past. We were free to make our own
choices. (Shades of Argrath?)

All in all, the Con was great. I'd recommend the German RQCons to anyone: you
don't need to speak a word of German to get by! The one drawback is the expense
of joining the German RQ Society in order to attend. For foreign guests, already

paying much more for transport and not benefiting at all from the Society's
activities and publications, this seems a little steep. Still'n'all, they

haven't held a dud Con yet: I'll go to next year's as well, if it doesn't clash
with my wedding.



End of Glorantha Digest V2 #610

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