Glorantha for newcomers

From: Trent Smith (TFSMITH@POMONA.EDU)
Date: Fri 31 Jan 1997 - 23:24:42 EET


      Some people in a recent digest have mentioned the "mistaken impression"
that lots of folks have the RQ and Glorantha are overly complex. My personal
experience over the past few years has led me to believe that, while this
impression may have been inaccurate once, it is more true now:
      I started my most recent RQ campaign about 3 years ago, after reading
KoS and this digest (well, its precursor), and I wanted to include all of the
great detail in my game, but my players just weren't all that interested. I'd
give them photocopied handouts and try to explain all sorts of things, but none
of it really affected their lives as Riskland farmers and they were left with
the impression that RQ is pretty much just like every other rpg but with lots
of unnecessary extra background detail. My next attempt to incorporate all of
the wonderful stuff I'd been reading was to give the PCs a guided tour of
Peloria, but that completely backfired and gave my players the impression that
RQ is a boring rpg because of all the extra background detail. Afraid lest my

campaign die off (and a couple of my players were on the point of rebellion),
I sent them to Balazar and just started running "Griffin Mountain" more or less
straight (that is, only incorporating what's in the book itself) and they all
seem to be having a lot more fun, and even seem genuinely interested and
excited by what's going on with a recent excursion to defened a certain Giant
Cradle near Pavis. They're finally realizing that RQ is better than other rpgs
because of all the extra background detail.
     The lesson I've learned from all of this is that the wealth of scholarly
Gloranthan material, especially the recent stuff, is a tempting distraction
from actually playing the game. If kept in the background and alluded to, it
can immeasurably increase the intrinsic interest of the "game reality" and
make events like the Cradle or the fall of Whitewall feel important, but when
the world-detail creeps into the forefront, it's stifling to casual players.
     In this regard, although much less satisfying on a scholarly level, I
think that the piecemeal approach to Glorantha taken in RQ1-2 was actually
much more effective from a gaming standpoint than the encyclopedic approach
from RQ3+.

     While I'm not advocating a return to the "Gloranthan dark ages," I do
think that in their future efforts Chaosium needs to stress the difference
between Gloranthan scholarship and Gloranthan gaming more than has been done to
date, because attempts to combine the two (or, at least, to do so too quickly)
will intimidate and/or bore casual players and probably drive Glorantha into
the obsessive-cult-only category that I associate with Tekumel (are there ANY
casual EPT players?) In other words, players shouldn't have to read KoS and the
Glorantha box in order to play and appreciate the game and, just as
importantly, they shouldn't think that they have to.

     Of course, the real issue here might be my group of players ("casual"
might not even be sufficient to descibe them) and the fragmented nature of my
campaign (we only play on breaks from college-- summer, XMas, maybe spring),
but since I see myself and my peer-group as an ideal audience for RQ and
Glorantha (people who've "outgrown" D&D-type games but still want to get
together and play something) I think that we shouldn't automatically be
dismissed as somehow "insufficiently serious". It's exactly such non-serious
players which allowed RQ to be successful once and will be necessary to make
any future Gloranthan venture successful once again.

     Sorry if I've blathered on trying to illustrate a point which was already
self-evident to everybody else (that is, that Glorantha not only needs to BE
accessible to casual participants, but needs to SEEM accessible as well), but
I sometimes get carried away. And lastly, I want to state once more that I
miss the rq-rules list terribly, and think that this discussion would probably
have been better-housed there. Please resume your discussions on fine points
of Dara Happan myth and culture that I have absolutely no interest in...

Trent Smith

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