The Role Playing Section

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The 2 RPGs I have played the most are Runequest and D&D. I recently finished running a 9 year RQ campaign, which sadly came to a halt due to RQ's demise as a game and a hard drive crash and am now running an AD&D campaign.

I also used to play a MUD (Multi User Dungeon) called DragonRealms (DR). DR is a text based game but is essentially Dungeons and Dragons on computer playing with a thousand other folks at the same time. The game is really a blast and I highly recommend it. My character was Therilliar Du-Onlor, and elven bardess, and you can visit her house.

Currently, I am running a campaign for 5 people every other weekend. My campaign world is known as Therra.

Check out a new version of the Second Edition AD&D Bard that Dave Wolin and I worked up.

Visit the Rogues' Gallery for a peek at some of my more memorable RPG characters suitable for use in your own campaigns as NPCs!

Runequest and Glorantha:

Runequest (RQ) was an excellent fantasy role playing game. Unlike many of the older FRPG's, RQ was originally designed to be played in a single gaming world, known as Glorantha. The World of Glorantha was created by Greg Stafford sometime in the mid 1960's as a mental exercise. Eventually, Greg published a wargame based on his world called White Bear/Red Moon. This game later became the excellent Dragon Pass game which was resissued by The Avalon Hill Gaming Company.

Dragon Pass was enough of a hit to spawn a second war game, called Nomad Gods, and, more importantly, inspired some D&D fans to write a gaming system that would allow role-playing in Glorantha. Thus was RQ born.

RQ ended in its 3rd edition. The 3rd edition was distributed by Avalon Hill and originally abandoned the Glorantha conceit for a "real world" ancient times conceit. This failed utterly, and a Gloranthan Renaissance of sorts was born by a group of dedicated fans and zine publishers. The Gloranthan Renaissance lasted for a few years, and a 4th edition of RQ got to the playtest stage, but lack of support from Greg Stafford and Avalon Hill stalled the project, and the whole died stillborn.

Avalon Hill and Stafford parted ways. Avalon Hill retained the rights to the RQ game, but with no world to set it in it had no reason to support the game. Stafford got Glorantha, but had no game in which the world could be developed.

So, Stafford and the folks largely responsible for the Gloranthan Renaissance formed Issaries Inc. and developed a new RPG for Glorantha. This one, called Hero Wars, is a huge departure from RQ.

Runequest and Glorantha are sophisticated RPG vehicles. Violence is deadly in RQ, and therefore to be taken much more seriously than in other games. In addition, Glorantha is a magic-rich world in the sense that almost every human can work magic to some extent, which provides for complex interactions between man and his surrounding environment.

The overriding premise behind RQ is that the gods and mortals interact with each other in a very intertwined and symbiotic fashion. In a sense, the gods created mankind, which created the gods, etc.

Overall, Glorantha is one of the most fascinating and well-developed worlds for FRPG, and would make a fair setting even for other gaming systems.

Unfortunately, the stagnation of the RQ line drove away many of those who enjoyed Glorantha simply for its gaming value. Those left behind were those who treated Glorantha less as a game and more as a metaphor for our own relationship with myth and the divine. In this sense, Glorantha, while becoming more literate, scholarly, and richly detailed, also became dry, tedious, and confusing. For years the scholars ran the game, as can be seen from many of the Gloranthan releases between the demise of RQ and the introduction of Hero Wars, which are Silmarillion-like in their tone and not very useful to anything but a hardcore Glorantha fanatic.

The Hero Wars Roleplaying Game from Issaries Inc. represents an attempt to revitalize Glorantha as a gaming world. The system is not much to my liking. HW sets itself smack dab in the middle ground between RPG with concrete rules like D&D and Traveller and live action RPGs where storytelling is paramount and rules are ancillary or even non-existent. What HW provides is essentially about the loosest framework of a rules system that can still be called a system. There are no specific rules for anything. Instead, a rough framework of task difficulties is presented and it is primarily left to the GM to decide what difficulty each task has. My problem with this approach is that, while it is wonderfully flexible, it is also a hell of a lot of work and pressure put on the GM to decide things on the spur of the moment. There are no spell descriptions at all. The GM is given a vague title of powers available to, say, the priests of Humakt, and it is entirely up to the GM to adjudicate what that means. For example, in RQ the Truesword ability was very well defined. It doubled your chances to hit with a sword. Very simple and very precise. In HW Truesword is simply presented as "Truesword". That's it. You as the GM get to essentially do the game designer's work for him by deciding exactly what the hell that ability actually does. Are their guidelines to help? Yes, some very basic ones. But I much prefer for the designer to at least put the effort in to defining what Truesword does and then if I don't like it I can change it.

This free-form game design, while being touted as flexible, also makes it almost impossible for there to be any sort of consistency between one group's vision of Glorantha and another. What if I wish to take my Humakti character from an HW game run by one person into a game run by another? I will have absolutely no idea if that GM's intepretation of Truesword is even close to the other GM's. In addition, actions and circumstances in a fantasy world can quickly get beyond the GM's ken. If I have never climbed a mountain before, how am I going to be able to easily set a bunch of difficulty values for it?

All in all I am fearful HW will fail to gain a following and will fail to attract many new players to Glorantha. Most people want a system that is actually a system and that does most of the dirty prep work ahead of time so that the GM and players can get down to the fun of playing the scenarios. Nevertheless, I wish the HW game and Greg all the best.

I have not been involved with RQ or Glorantha since about 7 years ago. Nevertheless, some of my work survived the hard disk crash. I have now set up a page devoted to my long-lost RQ campaign. It is a mixture of RQ2 and RQ3 and deviates from official Gloranthan history wildly, but I think it makes a great read and certainly contains many ideas usable by those who still wander the magical lands of Glorantha.

You can find out about Hero Quest and Hero Wars (the latest games set in Glorantha) here:

You can also find some good links to the Basic Roleplaying System (BRP), of which Runequest is (or was) a component, at this site

The Greenback Clan also has a fine website devoted to all things Runequest:

Dungeons and Dragons:

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is the premiere RPG. It was the first role playing game, and remains the most popular today. D&D was founded by a couple of miniatures enthusiasts, Gary Gygax and Dave Arnesen. They published the first edition of D&D in 1974 (the year I started playing) and it was exceptionally well-received. Over the years countless different versions of D&D and Advanced D&D have been issued. Currently, the system is using what is known as the Third Edition D&D rules.

D&D is popular because it lends itself to easy integration into any style of role playing mileaux. In addition, the rules, though sometimes convolutedly organized, are simple and promote heroic adventures as opposed to complex interactions. This is not to say that D&D is incapable of poignant and complex themes, but rather the rules tend to support less of this style of play and more of a high adventure-type campaign. The Third Edition rules seem to have cleaned up a lot of what was wrong with Second Edition.

I started playing D&D in 1974, but gave it up in 1985 for Runequest. When my hard drive crashed and ate all of my RQ stuff, and when the RQ game pretty much stalled commercially, I decided to rekindle my interest in AD&D.

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