24 Jul

Continuum 2018

Intro

I went to Continuum 2018 20-23rd July 2018 at John Foster Hall, Manor Road, Leicester University, Oadby. I have been going to this and the previous version “Convulsion” for about two decades, with probably a 50% attendance rate. It’s a great con for meeting friends I see rarely, for scratching the Glorantha itch, and for many years I often just played in large Gloranthan freeforms written and run by folks such as Simon Bray, David Scott, Nick Brooke and others. In recent years the con has shifted back to more table top gaming, sometimes with some hiccups along the way vis-a-vis game availability. It’s friendly con and time in the bar is time well spent. However this year I continued my recent trend of tabletop gaming right through in a kind of geek Iron Man challenge.

I am not going to name names since I might leave someone out or misname them, my memory isn’t what it was when I was younger.

Night of the Toad: OpenQuest

First I did something I have not done in 4 years, I ran a game at a con. I have always been very anxious about running con games, don’t ask me why, and I had stopped. On the other hand I really love the Crucible of Dragons setting from D101 games, written by Simon Bray and Paul Mitchener. So I ran the “Night of the Toad” adventure from the setting book, and we had a blast. The players contributed much fun and decoded the plots, and we had a great climactic ending.

Pherae, the Crucible setting

Black Ziggurat: 13th Age Glorantha

Then I played in a 13th Age Glorantha game run by Guy Milner. It was the “Black Ziggurat” from D101, and whilst I thought the scenario was a bit ‘meh’, it was delightfully brought to life by Guy and also by the sheer wonderfulness of 13th Age which melds beautifully with Glorantha to make for epic adventuring. Plus, in a short game, a simple scenario is best.

13th Age Glorantha

Uncle Ugly’s Underground: T&T

I have never played Tunnels and Trolls (T&T) on a tabletop. I have played T&T for 38 years using the solo gamebooks. Parse that for a while. At Continuum 2018 I played it for the first time ever at a tabletop, and one of the very first T&T dungeons ever: Uncle Ugly’s Underground. I had always worried that the rather odd T&T combat system would not work well at the table but it works fine! I was very happy, Dave Elrick’s GM-ing was relaxed and competent, the dungeon is 197* bonkers and huge fun. Wow.. so happy.

RuneQuest: Glorantha (RQ:G)

Simon Bray ran a good game of RQ:G for us Saturday afternoon.

Runequest: Glorantha

It was bitter sweet. Runequest has been by preferred gaming engine for decades and I have a deep and abiding love for Glorantha. Runequest 6 (now Mythras) was/is the zenith of d100 sophistication in gaming for me with OQ (see above) as it’s cut down accessible side kick.

Simon tabs ran a great game, the adventure will be wonderful as a campaign adventure. But RQ:G is a monument of over complication, backwards compatible with RQ2 and yet with layers of other sub systems and new approaches. At times there were 4-5 sub systems all of which could have resolved a situation, and all would have generated different outcomes with different probability. Skills, you want skills, RQ:G has reams of them, it took me minutes to find Dodge. No, not for me, and such a shame since it’s so beautiful. Mind you that doesn’t stop me buying stuff and running it with Mythras, OQ, Heroquest or 13th Age!

Tales of the Loop

My old friend Darran Sims ran the Swedish RPG of young kids, adventure and mysterious government installations: Tales of the Loop. It’s based on an art book that preceded Stranger Things but it’s clearly in the same place. The game allows players to mutually recapture their youth, in our case early 80s Britain, and then tangle with government experimental bases. It’s great and Darran is such an excellent GM. I’ll play it again as one off, but whilst the nostalgia is catching, so is the memory of just how angsty being a tweenager was/is.

Tékumel: Béthorm

Nigel C had offered the first game set in the mythical world of Tékumel. Mythical in that, for a certain kind of non mainstream roleplaying geek, this is the world we all were in awe of as too cool for school, and never ever run. Too deep, too complex, too many attempts to codify it into a ruleset.

Well, this was the year to end all such failures to launch. Tékumel, run using Jeff Dee’s Béthorm rule system is ace! Easy to understand. Flavoursome enough. Enough and not too much background. It may be a book so drily written to turn your little Tsolyaní heart to dust on reading, but at the table it shines.

As for cultural complexity, or setting depth? Have you looked at Glorantha or Forgotten Realms or Warhammer 40k recently? Tékumel is actually quite simple. Great game, great adventure, I even managed to get my priest’s head bitten off.

Béthorm character sheet. Just 3d10 required.

Star Trek Adventures (STA)

Dav ran STA for us. A 2d20 game from Modiphus. Third 2d20 game I have played, usually with a GM who is literally crying with the difficulty of reading the complexity of the system at the table.

They have all been fun, easy to understand, and good systems to model the genre. STA was the same. “The rulebook is a nightmare to decipher..” – GM. “This game models the themes of Star Trek well” – Tom.

So, the lesson might be – let someone else take the pain of decoding the Modiphus rulebooks and just play! Great accessible scenario from Dav which he then gave me to run for Trek friends. What a star!

Star Trek Adventures character sheet

Shadow of the Demon Lord (SoDL)

This was almost the game too far. SoDL is a great game from Kevin Schwalb about the apocalypse. That is, the apocalypse of a fantasy world. The apocalypse is different every campaign, and every campaign is made up of 11 adventures, with character advancement of 1 level per adventure.

It’s a blood stained love letter to Warhammer, with a system that is simpler but similar to 5e D&D. Oddly it can also deliver very varied characters despite being nominally class based.

I have always wanted to play. The prevented characters were awesome, grotesque and wonderful. We had a blast roleplaying.. but we were overpowered by opposition and when my character died at about 23:30 I went to bed.

Shadow of the Demon Lord character sheet

In Summary

Great con, well balanced between table top games, freeforms, boardgames and drinking in the bar. It’s the con where I catch up with people I only see every 2-4 years at Leicester. I love it.

17 Jan

Back Under the Glowline

So, time to return to Glorantha I feel. It’s been years, maybe a decade or more, since I’ve gamed under the Red Moon, faced the terrors of Thanatar and charged with my Enlo against Blue Moon Moth Riders. You know what, I kinda bloody miss it, and purged of all the accumulated cruft of the Glorantha nerds and the mismatch between myself and Hero Wars, it’s time to worship the Dark Mother, riddle with Nysalor and embrace the endless history of Darra Happa.

But, and this is lovely, there are so many choices.

Firstly, and I don’t mind saying this, there is HeroQuest with the tailored match between the the recent setting books, all redolent in simple d20 keywords and meshed neatly between culture and game. There is some truly lovely stuff in the sources that meshes with HQ, and yet.. I’ve never really enjoyed a game of HQ, although a lot of that might be from the Hero Wars action point economy that bored me to tears. Also, and although I can enjoy the depth of Glorantha cultural minutia, it has been what turned me off the setting for so long. I am, and always have been, more of a greatsword swinging Zorak Zorani than a Lhankor Mhy, and so I don’t think it’s HQ for me.

Secondly there is RuneQuest. We approach a time of possibly the best moderately complex version of RuneQuest that we’ve ever had, one that fixes the old issues about divine magic, montheism in a polytheistic world, makes a bloody good stab at sorcery and delivers a folk magic that actually feels folksy and useful to a carpenter or potter. We don’t have Adventures in Glorantha yet, but Hannu Kokko and the Finns are making a very good stab at it with their proto-cult write ups and the joy that is the RuneQuest Encounter tool online.. a party of Chaos cultists heading out from SnakePipe Hollow, I don’t mind if I do. Only problem, I think RQ6, like earlier RQs, doesn’t scale to Heroic, which is, after all why HeroQuest was first conceived.

Thirdly, and this isn’t as mad as it sounds, is OpenQuest. Combined with the RuneQuest Classics RQ2 reprints from Rich Meints, or a selection of RQ3 adventures, one can run an OQ game in Glorantha with barely a flutter. The spells have the same names, the stat blocks are very similar, and OQ is lighter and involves less rethink that RQ6. I know Simon Bray runs all his Glorantha with OQ these days and if that isn’t a recommendation I don’t know what is. So, possible and do-able, but one also can’t help wondering if maybe a copy of RQ2 or RQ3 might also fit in this camp, they’re easily pickupable in the UK on ebay, if you haven’t already got them all on the shelf, which I have.

Fourthly, and here the ZZ beserker in me wails in joy, 13th Age Glorantha! This riot of a d20 game that won me over to D&D after 34 years just made me think of Orlanth, the Red Goddess, Kyger Litor, Yelmalio, etc. as I turned the pages. This is a game for the Heroic, and by setting it in the Hero Wars when Argrath wages devastation on the Lunar Empire, and the Red Moon wages it back in an apocalyptic frenzy that cracks Glorantha from Choralinthor Bay to Valind’s Glacier, is the time for the power and crazy that is a 13th Age player character. So, and this is a defininte, the d20 will come to my Glorantha table, but it will be rolling high and not low.

But that’s not all.

Oh no.

I have a steadily growing collection of skirmish minis and skirmish rulesets. I know Sandy Petersen is playtesting a Gloranthan Gods War game, and I suspect that like his earlier Cthulhu boardgame, this may lead to a big fat bunch of 28mm Gloranthan minis.

So how to skirmish in Glorantha?

Well the Glory Geeks, that brave band of Gloranthan wargamers, have valiantly field Hordes of the Things Gloranthan armies in the HOTT fields of war, and indeed Rich Crawley’s Goranthan HOTT bands are great to play. Just ask him, or Jane, for army lists and where to get the rules and you too can be playing Gloranthan battles in under an hour a time on your dining room table. I am odd though, I don’t like to base my figures in blocks, since I am a roleplayer first I like them singly based. So, not HOTT for me, although always up for a game.

Rich and I have been enjoying Song of Blades and Heroes from Ganesha Games in recent years. A fast 28mm/15mm/any scale skirmish game free of any tie in with any minis maker, SoBH or SBH is enjoyable, wonderfully generic, quick to learn and play, and leaves your minis free for any other use since it has no basing needs. I know Rich has done Glorantha with it and I was almost there until I saw..

Of Gods and Mortals, or OGAM. Published by Osprey this is in fact a superset of SBH, where gods (40mm+), avatars (28-40mm) and their forces (28mm) battle it out on the field of war. What could be more Gloranthan? Cacodemon and his warband facing down Storm Bull and his? It’s appealing isn’t it, and I think I shall have to lay down the ten quid to get OGAM and see how it’ll work if and when some good Gloranthan minis come out, so come on Sandy!

And that’s not all.. after all, if Sandy P does get the Glorantha boardgame going, is there any chance of resisting that?

Must go, Cragspider is calling..

The Troll

HQ: http://www.glorantha.com/product/heroquest-glorantha/
RQ6: http://www.thedesignmechanism.com/runequest.php
OQ: http://d101games.com/books/openquest/
13th G: http://www.13thageinglorantha.com/

SBH: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3080 … and-heroes
OGAM: http://www.northstarfigures.com/list.php?man=159&page=1

And then this:
viewtopic.php?t=4604