Jeux Sans Frontiers.

From: Alex Ferguson (alex@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Mon 23 May 1994 - 01:10:22 EEST


Devin Cutler:
> While a good literary creation does have to possess internal consistency, it
> does not have to provide, in full view of the public, a formulised mechanism
> for its inner workings.

Nor does a game: at least, certainly not for the characters in the game as a "public", and not necessarily the players, either. Should the GMly public be given a nice, simple, set-in-concrete wind-up Glorantha, with no need, or scope, for significant creative or editorly input? Many GMs would, and indeed already have, complained about this.

> This dichotomy between Glorantha (the literary creation) and RQ (the gaming
> creation) is often at the heart of many of the debates on the net.

As dichotomies go, this is seems a thoroughgoingly false one. How many people who write, or post, about Glorantha aren't also players (or refs) of the game?

> The scholars really tend to focus on Glorantha as literary creation. They
> tend to despise the RQ rules as God "Learnerisms"

I should probably just let this straw man burn merrily, but I think you'll find "God Learnerisms" in this context are more precisely using the RQ rules to "deduce" things about Glorantha. As rules, well, they're just rules, really. Not that everyone plays RQ<n>, of course.

> The gamers tend to focus on the game mechanics.
> [...] We simply put entertainment value first and foremost.

Games mechanics as entertainment? Whatever turns you on, I suppose. The whole "entertainment" line of thought seems to be very much a matter of personal taste.

> For example, I try
> to follow Glorantha as much as I can, but I do not enjoy setting up an entire
> scenario around the fact that Kolat existed in Godtime, and then finding out
> that he was a God Learner construct.

Leaving aside whether this is yet Holy Writ, how exactly would this fact involve itself in the scenario, and how would the players ever discover that said fact was false? Or are you talking about _belief_ in one version or the other, which is a rather different business?

Kolat's "Umbrol" hat is certainly redolent of that certain GLish je ne sais quoi, but how could it ever be proved, either way? Certainly not by heroquest, which is a better way of changing reality than observing it.

> Similarly, despite any brilliant explanations to explain the Elmal/Yelmalian
> switcheroo, the move sucks, and has really bolluxed a number of campaigns out
> here in California.

Only one ("official", and not even a RQ) publication has alluded to Elmal, so if it's such a stinker, why worry about it? Those of us who like the Gregged Yelmalio now have an interesting extra bit of Orlanthi mythology, and an explanation for the cult that makes a lot more sense than the load of twaddle in CoP. What, exactly, has everyone else "lost"?

> [...] but taking
> established facts (i.e. in CoP, Yelmalio IS the one who is revered by Hill
> Barbarians, he IS the one ambushed at the Hill of Gold, he IS the one
> worshipped in Dragon Pass) and then tossing them into the shitter really rubs
> me the wrong way.

To talk of religious beliefs as "established facts" is a bit rich. I think you'd find the Yelmalio-worshipper-in-the-street to insist on their truth just as vociferously as anyone suspected they did back in the Good Old Days of RQ2. As for the fact that _some_ hill barbarians still worship Elmal, I don't see how this screws anyone up to any extent, given that we've not been told _which_ ones do in any great detail.

The main problem with the Elmal discovery was its timing, I think. That it came out at roughly the same time as Sun County suddenly created a rash of inconsistencies which wouldn't have arisen otherwise. Perhaps SC should have been Gregged, but how well would that have gone down with the punters?

> Similarly, I am becoming less enamoured of how cults are being handled. Why
> this need for so many different cultic variations over Glorantha (i.e.
> "...what we really need is a cult of Yelmalio for Peloria, one for Prax, one
> of Pavis, one for Grazelanders, one for Sartar...")? Yes, cults varied wildly
> here on earth, but Glorantha is not earth.

I'm not wild about comparisons which stress the alleged differences in the nature of religion and deity between Glorantha and Earth. Particularly the ones on the lines of "Earthly religions are mere ad hoc superstition, Gloranthan ones are based on Obvious True Facts." Earthly religions may not be an ideal starting point for extrapolation, but it is rather the only one. We could of course start from scratch, and dream up a nice, neat no-muss no-fuss solution, but one thing I find that makes for unsatisfactory gaming is something that jumps up, tweaks my nose vigorousdly, and yells: "Artificial construct introduced for Your Gaming Convenience!"

> I do not find it unreasonable to believe that Humakt himself, through
> Divinations and the like, has prescribed a single mode of worship throughout
> Glorantha.

It's fairly unreasonable, given such details as the Compromise. Given that Humakt is essentially the personification of Death, just how fussy is he likely to be about minor matters like the exact pointiness of the High Priest's hat, just so long as they keep 'em dying? I think cults are substantially social institutions, and to make them undifferentiated minions of a god who makes regular spot-checks of his various regional franchises would be much less satisfying to me, as a gamer, and as an (alleged) "`scholar'".

> I see Glorantha as a superb place in which to role play Runequest.

This is very much putting Descartes before the horse, in my view. If Glorantha is just a vehicle for Runequest to trundle along in, and must adapt itself to suit every idio[syn]c[hras]y of the RQ rules, how "real", how convincing, how likely to inspire creative endeavour, is it going to end up?

Why, if we "dry scholars" are so irrelevant to good gaming, not just ignore these Dangerous Revisions, and play in _your_ (RuneQuest-friendly) Glorantha?

> As long as the scholars continue to "run the show", I feel that Glorantha
> will likely become a wonderful literary creation (and fiction should be
> published) but will die as a game.

Exactly which "scholars" should be fired? The ones who invented it, wrote award-winning material about it, and are responsible for what most of us enjoy about it? If RQ is dying as a game, perhaps we should look to a player base old enough to have too many "better" things to do, a publisher with a confused idea of what it wants to do with the line, and a deuced sight more competition than there was in 1982, not the fact that Glorantha's creator makes minor fiddles with the background when he feels like it.

Alex.



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