Selling RQ/Glorantha

From: P A Snow (
Date: Tue 04 May 1993 - 17:06:15 EEST

     I want to make a few comments along the lines of those made yesterday, 1/5/93, by Tom Zunder and Peter Wake. This also follows up comments made some time ago by a player who like me was new to RQ and Glorantha.

     I think that in order to promote the long term interests of RQ that the subscribers to this list should think about the best way to sell RQ to the current roleplaying market not to people like themselves who are already long term fans of the system. In fact, I think that the tone of the discussion in this group has at times been very self-serving when the expertise from this group should be used to help develop the long time future of RQ. Altruistic input that brings in new players soon and thereby builds up the fan base could eventually reap the rewards of reprinted material that so many of you current players seek.

     Here are some thoughts on what is needed. Firstly, I would suggest that RQ set in Glorantha is currently quite hard to "get" as a game environment. I suspect that many people here will not believe this but lets assume it for the sake of this discussion. Personally, I am fortunate to have been illuminated by discussions with GS at Convulsion '92 so I have a feel of what Glorantha is all about, how the world works and the issues being discussed. ( I went to Convulsion as a C of C player only). But I find that if I read RQ3, GofG, Genertala etc very few parts of this tell me about the desired feel of Glorantha. Clearly, What My Father Told Me and What the Priest Told Me are the brilliant exceptions to this but there is not enough material like this. Additionally the hard facts that I need to use as reference on the general Gloranthan background are also widely dispersed as I know readers of this group are aware.

     It seems to me that there are two ways to introduce background into any game. There is "hard" technical background and there is atmospheric getting the feel of it background that I will refer to as "soft" background. Now the desire in this group for a large, comprehensive cults write up without any adventures etc. is an appeal for a lot of hard background. I understand why you want this because as a player of Empire of The Petal Throne I found that once I understood the feel of Tekumel the S&G background books that are all just background were invaluable. However, this information was not being fully used or understood until I got the feel for Tekumel from reading the recent Adventures On Tekumel books. These books are full of soft background in passages that are descriptions of walking round a city, going shopping and going to a Temple etc. (The overall structure is a solo adventure that you use to generate a character). This soft background is used well to draw the reader into experiencing the game world and sells the world to a new player. The bad news for people who want a book just of cult write ups is that I can not imagine this ever converting a player to RQ if he browsed through it in a game shop (if it ever got into the shop) so it can be of little use if the point of current RQ products is to lead to a RQ renaissance.

     If you apply these ideas on background and look at the marketing of Vampire and the content of the rulebook then you realise that Vampire is riding on a wave of soft background that sells the game. I have seen several reports that the rules are intrinsically broken but people don't care because they are too busy enjoying the feel of the game. (This also sheds an interesting light on the RQ2 v RQ3 v RQIV argument and being gregged). Clearly, this soft background includes the artwork and so I agree with the necessity for good artwork. In fact perhaps a test for artwork should be in which way does this enhance the background. Personally I don't mind average artwork that imparts hard background but there is nothing worse than poor art that has no hard or soft content.

     So what is my conclusion? RQ/Glorantha has to find a way to sell its feel in a new wave of soft background that is as least as good as the previous highlights of "What My Father Told Me" etc. This digest/group is the right type of environment to generate the ideas on how to do this. I hope that you/we can do it.

     Finally. If you think I'm talking rubbish , well you could be right. But I've been roleplaying for years and I want to enjoy RQ and Glorantha and that is why I read this group. I am an easy convert but I am finding the process difficult. Remember though that there are a lot of young cyberpunk/D&D fans out there that don't even want to play RQ. They have to be the audience that RQ finally converts if it is not to remain in the doldrums on the back shelf in games shops.

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