Need Objective History

From: Harry Bowman (hbowman@Morgan.EDU)
Date: Fri 25 Oct 1996 - 17:27:23 EEST


Just to chime in the topic of subjective/objective histories...
Let's just agree that real world histories are all subjective, biased,
and full of errors. Game world histories written as if they are the work
of a person from the game world should be both written and read as
subjective. However, I really believe that there should be a game world
history, etc. that is considered objective and true.

And yes, I do understand that no person living in the game world would
know the history, and, yes, I do know it is tough for players to keep the
PC history separate from the 'real' one in their mind.

Without an objective history, etc. upon which to draw, a game gets:
1. Contradiction among published documents
2. GM's who have to turn into textual analysts to make up a region.

Look at two AH RQ supplements (just cause I've seen a lot of them):

G:CotHW comes with a map of Genertela and a brief description of the
human and physical geography of the continent. Included are historical
bits that mostly seem to mesh. Armed with this pack, I have a middling
chance of working out a map of a smaller region. Without it, I have to
entirely make things up outside of Central Genertela (Sartar, Prax, and
the Dragori Inkarth in RQIII). Well, not entirely, there are some bits of
geography, etc. from other supplements.

GoG, which most everyone seems to treat as a slimy God Learnerism, has a
skeleton for a lot of gods. Without it, I would need to buy RoC to play
a Lightbringer or Praxian pantheon person. (BTW, I believe RoC is among the
most useful RQIII Glorantha supplements) And I'd buy Shadows on the
Borderland for Thanatar...and Sun County for Yelmalio (I get Ernalda with
the RQIII Deluxe Book)...and etc. I'd need to purchase all these
supplements to run folks - Buying RoC to get Orlanth would be a waste if
I wanted to set my campaign in Heortland. And I'd not have a writeup for
Humakt (TotRM does have it, though). Thin and boring as it is, GoG is
vital (especially for mobile
campaigns), and it needs to be "objective." GM's should always change
whatever they want for their game, but I know that folks like it better
when they have a base that won't be contradicted by the next supplement.

Having an objective history and geography makes it a lot easier to set
the campaign at any place and time. For example, a First Age campaign in
Dragori Inkarth. I should be able to look at a map and know general
things like terrain and ground cover, the location of major groups and
settlements, etc. I should have easy answers ready for the PC's when
they ask the old mothers "What was it like when you were young?" and
these answers won't completely contradict what is said by the human 80
year old guy from just over the hill. (Like, "There was an invasion by 4
ft tall kohlrabi elves, back when Unnnghh ruled" and "A whole mess of
little plant fellers invaded, back when Olaf Snaggletooth was
chief...Please don't eat me) Not tiny details, but the big picture.

A GM can start the campaign at a given time and say "Here is the PC
history" (constructed with less work because the GM started with the
official one) "If any of you know the official history, all bets are off
starting on this date" (And the GM can keep or throw whatever sorts
him/her, and hopefully the PC's will not act with unreliable future
knowledge. Example: My game, where I deviated starting in 1600 and told
everyone not to expect Harrek, Sheng, and Argrath).

For Glorantha, there does seem to be some "Official" stuff, some of which
lies in waiting at Chaosium, some is in print, some appeared in TotRM.
To go back and declare this "subjective" and the work of some fictional
author is not useful. Take it, modify it, Play it.

Hal Bowman
hbowman@morgan.edu

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