Re: Blank Balastor, etc.

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Thu 22 Jan 1998 - 17:49:25 EET

Richard who-probably-had-a-surname-once writes:

> What I am basically asking for is ownership of those mysteries,
> just as I am effectively given ownership of the Blank Lands.

OK, they're yours. Run along now...

> I am beggining to reach the conclusion that Glorantha is a very
> un-PC-centric campaign. Maybe I'm wrong, but most of the published
> scenarios I've read don't have the PCs doing anything at all sig-
> nificant in the world.

You mean like committing genocide and killing gods, the way those
classic GDQ modules end up? Sorry, Glorantha's not written to be that
kind of world.

Now, if you get yourself a copy of "Tarsh War", you'll see a rules-
light scenario where the PCs lead an army of 3,000-plus soldiers
into battle against fanatical opponents in Dragon Pass. If you play
one of the big RQ-Con freeform games, you could get to decide on
peace or war, heresy or orthodoxy, destroy cities and overthrow
enemy kingdoms (and/or find True Love). The freeforms are a genre
where it's easier to allow "gross" actions -- and one where the
likes of Jar-Eel, Garundyer, Moonson, etc. become reasonable player
characters. You might like to try one some day -- or get ahold of
one of the post-Con Compendia (which include in-character writeups
from the freeform games) to see how these things work out on a
larger scale -- and, of course, to see how their authors juggle
with *big* Gloranthan themes, secrets, conspiracies, etc. in the
name of Maximum Game Fun. Could be catching.

> Glorantha isn't my world and I don't want it to be.

G'wan, be a devil! Seize a corner of it for your own, and do what
thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

> I want my PCs to be part of THE Glorantha. Furthermore I want them
> to be able to play a significant part in THE Glorantha.

But, of course, they'll have to play an UN-recognised part in EVERY-
BODY ELSE'S Glorantha. There's no easy way of getting around that:
your suggestion (for nameless heroes achieving defined Great Deeds at
fixed points on a solidly-outlined future timeline) doesn't seem to
offer significantly more than we have at present. After all, let's
just take your Balastor write-up through the mincing machine:

> "Aided by adventure(s) unknown, Balastor's Axe returns to Pavis
> in the year 1618. Balastor then takes over the body of the local
> Pavis priest and begins the process of ... whatever. Finally,
> Balastor is once more slain during the Giant's Cradle scenario..."

OK, then: why are we "unknown"? Must this happen in 1618? Do we have
to write the high priest of Pavis out of our campaign in that year?

What if we happen not to be in Pavis that year, or start our campaign
in 1620 -- does someone else "unknown" complete the scenario then,
before we even get started? Won't defining Balastor's return and
objectives take some of the mystery and fun out of the game? And,
above all, what do you achieve by defining the date of his death?

You see: you can start with the best will in the world, but you're
still better off leaving well enough alone. The scenario posits a
finding of Balastor's Axe, makes it clear that this would be a *big*
political/mythical event, then leaves it up to the GM what happens
next. If the whole future history of our scenarios has to be defined
(in order to make them into "Blank Events"), then we're far more
limited in our gaming than at present. As it stands, a PC has a very
good chance of becoming the first Rune Lord of the Pavis Cult since
1240 or so... but to make this a formal "Blank Event" we'd have to
state that he/she was "unknown", did it in a certain year, went on
to achieve certain other deeds, and -- apparently -- perished at a
certain future date and place. Not what I'd call ideal.

After all: when was the Wind Sword found, and who by, and what did
they use it for? Who last mapped the Puzzle Canal, and what came of
it? What lies within the inner sanctum of Machine Ruins, or at the

heart of the Kingdom of War. Which Ralzakark is Ralzakark, and why?
Who was the bridegroom at the Wedding at Cana? And so on.

Questions like these neatly bridge the "Blank" Heroes, Events and
Mysteries you want defined. The Hero of the Wind Sword is *surely*
one of your PCs (who'd let that paunchy bastard Torath Manover get
away with it, eh?). The year of its recovery is the year your PCs
get to the top of Griffin Mountain; the consequences are what your
campaign sees in subsequent play (more fun than "and the unknown
hero returned to Sartar to fight in the rebellion", or "and led a
successful uprising against Elkoi" -- now twist your game to fit).
And the solution to the Mystery is what you allow your PCs to find
in your own campaign -- which has the particular virtue of leaving
Mysteries insoluble from any other direction.

Who does the Kingdom of War work for? I dunno. But I can guess...
and your guess, in your game, is worth far more than anyone else's.

Pickling this freedom would truly change Glorantha into a strait-
jacketed world, where every event has to be achieved to deadline,
with predetermined future consequences.

You want to stay aligned with "mainstream" Glorantha? One way would
be to post campaign events, decisions, questions etc. here for our
interest and feedback. "My PCs found Balastor's Axe, and the spirit
possessed the High Priest of Pavis. What do you suppose Balastor
will want to do next?" Odds are, you'll get a few good suggestions,
and be able to pick and choose which parts of them you actually use
in your game. Be Orlanthi: "Nobody can make you do anything!"

But if the questions veer off in weird directions -- "My PCs found
the evil demon goddess Lolth and killed her: what happens to all
the Spider magics of her Drow dark-elf followers?" is unlikely to
feature in many people's Gloranthan worldview... :-(

> Role playing campaigns, particularly (I think) commercial role
> playing campaigns, need to have PC actions embedded centrally
> within them.

Absolutely! In published Gloranthan scenarios you can recover the
Axe of Balastor and the Wind Sword of Griffin Mountain, sail down
the River of Cradles with the Giant's Cradle or up it from Corflu
as the Chosen Ones of Zola Fel, take on the Gulper Eel, the Coders,
the Spider Queen of the Rubble Uz, trek the length and breadth of
the Pamaltelan veldt, march legions through the Bush Range, and so
forth. And in Convention freeforms you can do even more -- build
a God, unite a Religion, lead a Rebellion or struggle with Arkat(s).
These are *BIG* activities -- which, by their nature, should be
possibilites and *NOT* requirements for other Gloranthan campaigns.

We throw ideas out into the world; other people can pick and choose
from the ones they want to use. If, instead, we documented the only
permissable outcome to every scenario and future-historical event,
then we'd be confining the world to a limiting straitjacket. Given

Richard ???'s apparent desire to graft D&D species, scenarios and
god-killing adventures onto Glorantha, I truly doubt that compati-
bility with "Glorantha as She is Spoke" is his primary gaming goal.



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