Other Games Interestingly different review of the Glorantha sourcebook.


Staff member
Patrick Stewart of OSR game has just discovered Glorantha. The review is refreshingly different.


I love this quote: “not quite as cool as Tekumel, which is like Glorantha’s edgy brother who plays in a band and won't let Glorantha into their room”

He is pondering how you get into the game and introduce new players. The scale of the setting is intimidating to new players, like Traveller. What do you think?
Very interesting indeed. I'm sort of new to Glorantha myself, though not as new as Patrick Stewart, and I've played in a few games. For me, RuneQuest was more an engine for historical fantasy than Glorantha.

But I've now read a few things. When I first became interested, I read some Second Age stuff. Some was promising, some pretty dreadful. I really like the Dara Happa Stirs campaign. It didn't really help me quite understand the cultures of the Third Age or even particularly the gods, so some of it feels a bit off in tone.

The Glorantha Sourcebook was a fun read, and helped me understand more of the setting, but didn't feel particularly gameable. Still, it helped my know the elder races and the major gods. I understand Humakt and Orlanth and Storm Bull and Yelm, so...yay!

Then came RuneQuest 7e (Adventures in Glorantha) and 13th Age Glorantha. It was the last which really clicked for me, in particular heroquesting. I'm running it at Furnace. By definition, as a newbie myself (first time running Glorantha) it will be newbie friendly. And 13th Age is fun. 13th Age Glorantha is an accessible 13th Age setting.

But I really want a system for Glorantha that's not as complex as RQ7, and not really all about the fights as 13th Age is. Unfortunately, Heroquest isn't to my taste. Where I am at the moment with Glorantha is wanting more setting/adventure material in the third age.
It's a bit like watching those you-tube videos of people supposedly listening to Pink Floyd or Queen for the first time.

I think his reactions are fair, even the one about Tekumel - though I'd rather say Tekumel feels like a big brother to Glorantha, rather than say it's cooler. Glorantha has more fans, as far as I can tell, so technically that make it cooler.

Glorantha is definitely daunting to most gamers. I don't know if you've noticed, but almost every setting that isn't centre-line genre fiction is daunting to gamers. It's one of the oddest things about this hobby - one that trades on the use of the imagination - that so many people have a hard time wrapping their head around settings that aren't stock fantasy or stock SF. I've seen this same reaction for decades for Glorantha, Tekumel, Jorune, Mechanical Dream, and others. There are some funky OSR and Story game settings, I'm sure, but those communities do a great job of making sure their settings are table-ready, and I'm not sure that's true of the Trad game group.

I think most interesting in that thread is the capsule history posted by a respondent, and in particular how the campaigns were developed, and these turned into product. There's also some great advice on how to deliver the setting to players. I've never run Glorantha, myself, but collected and read a lot of Gloranthan material through the 90s. I found the setting to be incredibly inspiring as a world-building exercise and used it to create my own worlds. Then I ran some campaigns through this with players new to RQ. These campaigns played out exactly as described in that post - starting small and introducing new info to the players each week. I mostly like to do that using NPC voices (rather than GM sidebars) but a mix of tools is always handy.

I think something that isn't often talked about, though I find it crucial, is that big settings need time to proof at the table. When a setting is already latent in people's minds (like Star Wars, Star Trek, Middle Earth, or 'D&D') then you can get up and running quickly and don't need to give the setting time to develop. Settings like Glorantha, Artesia, or Ars Magica's Mythic Europe are not that. They need a campaign to fully appreciate - and that in itself is a daunting thing these days.


The Guvnor
Staff member
I love both but if he thinks Glorantha is a liberal appropriation exercise (and he may be right) then what is Tékumel?
Is Lord of the Rings an acceptable cultural appropriation exercise since Tolkien was the right genotype, and what about the Finnish bits?

Ironically RQ1/2 was utterly table ready, in a way that means that some version of that is still the best way to get Glorantha to the table.. but I am not going back to RQ2, more the design ethic
Is Mythic Babylon an appropriation exercise as @Apocryphal and I are not from that part of the world? What about my work with Blood of the Gods (Ancient Greek) and Hunters of Alexandria (post-Ptolemaic Egypt)?

It seems to me that the concept of cultural appropriation doesn't apply so much to the ancient world where cultures and religion are very different to the present day. In the case of someone like me writing an RPG about Mythic India and Hindu myths, still relevant in the religion today, that's when there's *potentially* cultural appropriation.