domingo, 13 de enero de 2019

Reseña de RuneQuest: Glorantha Bestiary

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Ignoramos el sentido del dragón, como ignoramos el sentido del universo, pero algo hay en su imagen que concuerda con la imaginación de los hombres, y así el dragón surge en distintas latitudes y edades.

Esta cita de El libro de los seres imaginarios de Jose Luís Borges encabeza el libro que reseño a continuación y nos recuerda la fascinación universal del ser humano por los seres fantásticos. Si a ti también te gustan los monstruos, muy seguramente te encantará leer el RuneQuest: Glorantha Bestiary, un suplemento de la editorial Chaosium para el juego de rol RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. Este bestiario describe casi 200 criaturas, entre las que se incluyen espíritus, animales y plantas, junto con sus datos de juego. Como el reglamento básico no incluye ningún bestiario, es un suplemento esencial para poder disfrutar de toda la flora y fauna del mundo de Glorantha en tus partidas de RuneQuest.


Los autores de este bestiario son muchos. Un grupo numeroso de personas que han contribuido en mayor o menor medida al desarrollo colectivo de Glorantha a lo largo de los años. Además de Greg Stafford, el creador original del mundo, se incluyen otros grandes nombres de Chaosium como Sandy Petersen y Steve Perrin, y luego, entre otros contribuidores, los creativos de esta edición de RuneQuest: Jeff Richard, Jason Durall y Michael O'Brien. Pero es que después de estos se mencionan varios más. ¿Por qué tanta gente?

Como RuneQuest es un juego cuya primera edición data del 1978, lógicamente este no es el primer bestiario de Glorantha publicado. Por eso la lista de autores incluye a todos los que han contribuido criaturas y seres fantásticos a Glorantha y RuneQuest desde entonces. Entre los autores de RuneQuest: Glorantha Bestiary no podía faltar Jamie Revell, que creó junto con Greg Stafford Anaxial's Roster, el bestiario de Glorantha para el juego de rol Hero Wars, predecesor de HeroQuest Glorantha. Y como curiosidad, en los agradecimientos se incluye a Ray Harryhausen, gran creador de monstruos de películas míticas como El viaje fantástico de Simbad.


Aspecto


El libro RuneQuest: Glorantha Bestiary tiene 210 páginas, está encuadernado en tapa dura e impreso a todo color. De hecho, mantiene el mismo estilo de maquetación que el reglamento básico de RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, es decir, doble columna, fondo apergaminado con runas, márgenes laterales decorados con cenefas y bajorrelieves. Esta coherencia y el hecho de que todas las páginas sean a color le aportan mucha calidad. Sin embargo, e igual que en el reglamento básico, lo que más salta a la vista son las tremendas ilustraciones.

La ilustración de la portada es obra de Andrey Fetisov, un gran artista de línea definida tipo cómic que ha hecho muchas otras ilustraciones para Chaosium, como la tremenda portada de RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha y del Gamemaster's Screen Pack. En este caso, la portada es tan impresionante como la del reglamento básico y tiene un cierto paralelismo con ella, ya que esta también muestra a un montón de seres de aspecto amenazante mirando directamente al lector, solo que en este caso se trata de una selección de los seres inhumanos y monstruos que describe el libro. Al fondo, una pirámide escalonada y un cielo rojizo le dan un aire épico al conjunto. En el centro de la imagen destaca una guerrera troll de aspecto amenazante y cargada de magia rúnica. Me recuerda al personaje que se hizo un amigo mío hace muchos años en nuestras partidas de RQ. Me encanta el morocanthe tatuado a su izquierda, el broo sonriente a su derecha, y que se hayan atrevido a poner una guerrera durulz también. Por el lado negativo, podría decirse que la escena es artificial, ya que todos esos seres son enemigos acérrimos entre sí por motivos naturales, culturales y religiosos, así que nunca posarían juntos en ninguna parte de Glorantha. De todas formas, lo que es molar, mola mucho, para qué negarlo.

Una de las mejores ilustraciones interiores: los cuatro tipos evolutivos más comunes de los dragonuts.

Y las ilustraciones interiores tienen la misma calidad que la portada. Es, de hecho, un sueño hecho realidad para los fans de RuneQuest. Viendo estas magníficas ilustraciones se hace por fin justicia a este mundo de fantasía, que en el pasado tuvo que sufrir las ilustraciones terribles del bestiario del RuneQuest de JOC (!). Y las que acompañaban al bestiario de Glorantha, el mundo y sus habitantes no eran mucho mejores. En este caso son todas obra de Cory Trego-Erdner, que ha trabajado para Wizards of the Coast, Monte Cook Games y otras empresas de juegos de rol y videojuegos.

Es todo un acierto contar con un ilustrador de este calibre para el bestiario de Glorantha, porque en este libro las ilustraciones de los elfos, los dragones, el gigante, los broos... son excelentes. Me gustan todas y se nota un esmero en la dirección artística que es encomiable. Aproximadamente una quinta parte de las ilustraciones son a color y de gran tamaño y el resto en tonos de gris, y el hecho de que hayan encargado todas las ilustraciones a un único artista dota al libro de una coherencia estética sensacional. Aunque por desgracia, eso acarrea la desventaja de que se tarda más en reunir las ilustraciones necesarias, así que no hay una ilustración para cada uno de los seres descritos. Aun así, hay un buen número de ellas y están bien repartidas. Por ejemplo, todas las razas antiguas, que suelen ser los personajes no humanos más comunes de RuneQuest, tienen una o varias ilustraciones, lo que es básico para que los jugadores se hagan una idea del aspecto de su personaje. Por otro lado, los monstruos más emblemáticos de las partidas de rol en Glorantha, como los broos, también están ilustrados. Y lo que me gusta más: ya que no se podían ilustrar todas las criaturas, supongo que por el coste, por lo menos se han ilustrado aquellas a las que les viene mejor una ilustración para describirlas mejor. De este modo, toda la sección de animales mundanos cuenta con muy pocas ilustraciones, ya que todo el mundo sabe qué aspecto tiene un perro, un oso o un caballo. En cambio, se incluyen dibujos de criaturas gloranthanas que nunca antes se habían ilustrado, lo que es todo un acierto y, de paso, una gozada para los fans de Glorantha.

Me encanta que hayan ilustrado por fin un huan to y el aspecto que le han dado al jack o'so encaja con mi visión.


Contenido


En la introducción ya se avisa de que este bestiario incluye solo las criaturas de Genertela, uno de los continentes principales de Glorantha. Por eso, aquí no se habla de los jelmre ni de los hombres rinoceronte de Pamaltela, por ejemplo, ni de la temible Madre de los Monstruos que habita en ese otro continente, el del sur. Y tampoco se habla de todos los seres que habitan en los océanos salvo los que viven más cerca de la costa. Ni tampoco de los seres mágicos que habitan más allá de las fronteras del mundo. Es una pena porque me habría gustado tener en un solo volumen la totalidad de criaturas. Aunque también es cierto que para eso habrían sido necesarias el triple de páginas y entonces el libro habría tardado el triple en salir a la venta. Y como el reglamento básico no incluye bestiario, Chaosium no podía permitirse el lujo de esperar tanto. Pero en fin, mejor dejo de lloriquear y me centro en todo lo que sí incluye. Este es el índice de contenidos:


Como en otros bestiarios, las criaturas están ordenadas por orden alfabético, pero se dividen en siete categorías: razas antiguas, monstruos del Caos, otros monstruos, insectos gigantes, animales, espíritus, horrores y una octava categoría donde entran las plantas. Estas divisiones facilitan en principio encontrar la criatura que buscas al estar agrupadas por criterios de semejanza. Además, es una división útil porque hay aspectos de juego que afectan a todo un determinado grupo de seres, y así queda todo junto y no hay que hacer referencia a páginas muy alejadas. Por ejemplo, en el capítulo de los espíritus se explican las reglas del daño espiritual al principio. Igualmente, es práctico tener la tabla de rasgos caóticos cerca de todas las criaturas del Caos o que todos los dinosaurios están juntos en la misma sección. Sin embargo, esta clasificación tiene dos desventajas. Una es que hay que pasar por el índice para saber dónde está la sección del bicho que buscas. Por lo menos hasta que te acostumbras. Otra es que puede ser complicado recordar en qué categoría encaja cada monstruo. Por ejemplo: ¿los necrófagos están en la sección de monstruos o en la del Caos? ¿Los triceratops se consideran animales o monstruos? En cambio, si todos estuvieran ordenados por orden alfabético estricto y buscaras el mamut, al empezar por la letra eme irías directamente a la mitad del libro (por cierto, los necrófagos son seres del Caos y los dinosaurios se consideran monstruos). En fin, la taxonomía es complicada y, puestos a elegir, creo que a pesar de todo tiene más sentido la presentación que han elegido en este caso. Además, el índice alfabético al final del libro ayuda a encontrar rápido cualquier criatura.

En la introducción del libro se habla de estas categorías para saber qué engloba cada una, y también se tocan varios temas generales más. En primer lugar, se ofrecen consejos sobre los encuentros con monstruos porque, al contrario que en algunos otros juegos, en RuneQuest estos nunca están exactamente equilibrados con el nivel de poder de los protagonistas. Luego se habla de los seres inteligentes y cómo tratarlos en el juego y, en general, se destaca que un encuentro con seres inhumanos, tanto si se mueven por instinto, como si son inteligentes, y sobre todo en este último caso, no tiene por qué terminar en la muerte de uno de los bandos. Se puede huir, se puede negociar, se puede sortear, etc. En esta sección también se habla de las regiones principales de Genertela y se repiten las tablas de tamaño y puntos de vida del reglamento básico para tenerlas a mano a la hora de crear monstruos. Por último, se incluyen las reglas para determinar los puntos de vida de las localizaciones de las distintas anatomías de seres fantásticos (como en la página 121 del RuneQuest Avanzado de JOC Internacional).

La sección sobre las razas antiguas describe los seres que fueron creados antes que los humanos y que engloban los seres inhumanos que más fácilmente pueden usarse como personajes jugadores. El libro destaca como más adecuados a los elfos, los trolls negros, los morocanthes y los patos. Y yo añadiría a los enanos aperturistas y a los agimori. Y si quieres algo un poco más exótico, un babuíno o un centauro. Aunque en RuneQuest puedes jugar con un personaje de cualquier raza, incluso con un cuadrúpedo, si te apetece, se desaconseja hacerse personajes con un nivel de inteligencia inferior a los humanos como es el caso de los trollkins o los minotauros, por ejemplo. Aun así, el libro incluye reglas de creación de personajes para todas estas razas. Extrañamente, no se incluyen datos concretos para crear personajes jugadores de la raza de los hermanos lobos (también llamados telmori), aunque es muy fácil crear uno si quieres, dado que son casi humanos. Por otro lado, si bien los aventureros humanos disponen de las tablas de historia familiar en el reglamento básico, con las que se crea el trasfondo del personaje, las razas antiguas carecen de ellas. No son estrictamente necesarias, pero son geniales para enlazar el personaje con la historia de su patria. Por suerte, los autores del libro prometen que en futuras publicaciones se ofrecerá la historia familiar para algunas razas antiguas.

Las ilustraciones de los elfos son geniales y puedes ver claramente su tipo de árbol concreto.

Aparte de las mencionados, esta sección también incluye los datos de juego de las siguientes razas antiguas: dríades, los cinco tipos de elfos, los simidendros, pixies, otros hombres bestia como sátiros, mantícoras y elurae (mujeres zorro), las cinco clases de dragonuts, gigantes, gorilas, grotarones, los nueve tipos de enanos, las creaciones de los mostali tales como devoradores, jolanti y nílmergs, tritónidos, ludoch, jinetes de los colmillos, cinco tipos de trolls, y los hijos del viento.

Para cada una de estas razas se describen sus mitos e historia, sus dioses, idioma, regiones de origen y sus relaciones con otras razas. También se incluye la magia especial de cada una: varios hechizos de los enanos, la magia rúnica de la diosa Aldrya para los elfos y demás seres de los bosques, la de los dioses Kyger Litor y Zorak Zoran en el caso de los trolls, el culto del Colmillo Sangriento para los jinetes de los colmillos y el dios Telmor en el caso de los telmori. Los ludoch, sin embargo, se quedan sin la magia rúnica de sus dioses subacuáticos como Magasta o Triolina, supongo que por falta de espacio y porque, al tratarse de seres marinos, es menos probable que interactúen mucho con los aventureros. De todas formas, en el libro Gods of Glorantha podrás encontrar todos estos cultos rúnicos y muchos más descritos con mayor nivel de detalle. Aun así, es de agradecer que hayan incluido esta información aquí para que puedas empezar a jugar sin necesidad de esperar a tener más libros.

Me encanta la armadura de ese guerrero troll.

Por otro lado, si has leído el suplemento Secretos Antiguos de Glorantha que se publicó para el RuneQuest de JOC, sabrás que contenía mucha más información para crear personajes de las razas antiguas. De hecho, buena parte de la descripciones de los monstruos de ese antiguo libro se han aprovechado para este Glorantha Bestiary. De todas formas, es interesante ir viendo los detalles nuevos. Por ejemplo, en el viejo RuneQuest Avanzado no se describía la magia draconiana de los dragonuts gobernantes, pero en el Glorantha Bestiary sí. En total, se incluyen siete poderes draconianos nuevos.

Más detalles curiosos: se ha incluido en este apartado a los gorilas, que en Glorantha son inteligentes, aunque menos que un humano, y en Genertela viven en las selvas del sur, supongo que en Caladralandia. Algo que que me ha sorprendido es que la característica de Carisma de algunos seres se relaciona con el aspecto. Por ejemplo, se dice que los jinetes de los colmillos son feos y tienen un Carisma de solo 1D6 (como en el RQ de JOC). Sin embargo, en el reglamento básico se especifica que el Carisma es la medida del liderazgo y fuerza de personalidad de un personaje, que poco tiene que ver con la belleza. Por tanto, todos los seres inteligentes deberían empezar con 3D6 de Carisma, como los humanos. Seguramente hicieron un copia-pega de ediciones anteriores y se les coló esta errata, que de buen seguro aparecerá corregida en el libro impreso.

En la siguiente sección se describen las siguientes criaturas del Caos: broos, picatoros, bailarinas de la oscuridad, caracoles dragón, necrófagos, gorps, arpías, huan-to, jack'osos, hijos de Krarsht, hidras menores, ogros, hombres escorpión, gusanos dragón, vampiros y pulpandantes. En este caso, me ha gustado ver que, por fin, se especifica que los broos pueden aparearse con miembros de cualquier raza ¡y sexo! Así que ya lo sabéis, vuestros machos y aguerridos personajes no están a salvo de los engendros del Caos más comunes. En el caso de los ogros, aquí sí se tiene en cuenta la definición del Carisma y, aunque en la descripción se dice que pueden ser muy bellos, su Carisma es de solo 3D6. Y luego me han gustado las nuevas incorporaciones, como los picatoros (traducción propia de bullsitches), unos insectos del tamaño de un puño, y las bailarinas de la oscuridad, sirvientes de Delecti el Nigromante (a quien me enfrenté durante la campaña Colymar). Con estas últimas tal vez se podrían haber ahorrado espacio diciendo simplemente que son vampiras, pero bueno. El capítulo también incluye la tabla de rasgos caóticos para personalizar a tus monstruos, que es casi idéntica a la del RuneQuest de JOC. Y también la de la Maldición de Thed, porque se describen los conjuros rúnicos de Thed, diosa madre de los broos, y Mallia, diosa de la enfermedad, para así poder dotar a los broos de magia divina.

Los broos tienen un aspecto adecuadamente asqueroso y mutante.

El siguiente apartado cubre monstruos diversos de distinto pelaje, concretamente: brollachans, sapos gigantes, semipájaros (¡por fin ilustrados!), dragones de sueños, gárgolas, anguilas gigantes, dos clases de tortugas gigantes, grifos, hipogrifos, renacidos (momias), lagartos de las rocas, esqueletos, toros celestiales, unicornios, lagartos de agua, wyrms, wyvernas y zombis. También se incluye una sección de dinosaurios: alosaurios, anquilosaurios, brontosaurios, deinonychus (son algo más grandes que los velocirraptores), elasmosaurios (son un tipo de plesiosaurio), hadrosaurios (también llamados «trachodones»), magisaurios en sus tres tamaños, pteranodones, triceratops y, por supuesto, tiranosaurios. En este apartado solo comentaré tres cosas. Primero, que los brollachans proceden de las leyendas gaélicas como las voughs que se describen más adelante, y están aquí porque aparecen en un escenario del suplemento de RQ2 The Big Rubble (la Gran Ruina de Pavis). Segundo, el valor de la armadura de los dragones es de máximo 10 puntos y me parece muy poco, pobrecillos. Espero que sea una errata. Y tercero, que las ilustraciones, como las de todo el libro, molan mucho. Ya lo había dicho antes, ¿no?

A este capítulo le sigue el de los artrópodos gigantes: hormigas león, dos tipos de escarabajos (del jamón y centinela), ciempiés, dos clases de cangrejos (normales y arbóreos), libélulas, abejas, mantis religiosas, solpúgidos, dos tipos de arañas en tres tamaños distintos, avispas y gusanos de hielo. Son algunos menos de los que aparecen en El libro de los trolls de la tercera edición de RuneQuest, pero no está mal. Además, aquí se añaden varios nuevos, como las libélulas gigantes y los gusanos gigantes de hielo.

Seguimos y llegamos a la sección de animales convencionales, aunque, como veremos, hay algunos que son bastante excepcionales. Son estos: osos, pájaros sangrientos, reses, cocodrilos (normales y gigantes), ciervos, alces, perros de combate y de caza, grullas gigantes, cinco razas de caballos, hienas, rey cóndor, osos saltadores (amphycion), leones, zancadores (traducción propia de loper), mamuts, mastodontes, perros porcinos (archaeotherium), bisontes, lagartos bolo, humanos de rebaño, alticamellos, impalas, avestruces, rinocerontes, antílopes sable, cebras de guerra, pumas, limpiaescombros, tigres dientes de sable, gatos sombríos, dos tipos de serpientes, titanoteros, jabalís (gigantes y normales), halcones vrok (normales y gigantes), lobos (normales y telmori) y yaks.

Estos archaeoterium tienen una pinta muy amenazante y son una novedad del bestiario de Glorantha.

Me encanta ver ahí animales del pleistoceno y eras anteriores, además de un montón de otros seres. También me parece interesante que se describan las distintas razas de caballos de Glorantha. La sección sobre estos animales incluye una comparativa de la velocidad de todos los animales de monta, donde se especifica cuáles pueden usarse como caballería pesada y qué efectos tiene en la velocidad que transporten a un jinete con armadura pesada o ligera.

Luego viene la sección sobre los espíritus, seres que carecen por lo general de forma física y habitan en el plano espiritual. Al contrario que el resto del libro, los espíritus son los seres que han cambiado más con respecto a ediciones anteriores de RuneQuest. Para empezar, se admite que hay muchísimos tipos diferentes, así que se ofrecen unas reglas para crear espíritus y determinar sus característica de poder y carisma, su habilidad en combate espiritual y sus poderes mágicos. Se ofrece una lista de 21 poderes para que puedas escoger o combinar los que quieras, como «Mordisco», «Maldición» o «Arma espiritual». Esto se parece mucho a las reglas de creación de espíritus del juego de rol Mythras y es muy de agradecer que se haya dejado atrás la visión simplista de los espíritus de anteriores ediciones como RQ3, donde eran meras baterías de puntos mágicos o reservas de conjuros.

También se describen algunas clases de espíritus comunes de Glorantha. Por ejemplo, los espíritus animales conocen magia espiritual y se supone que los chamanes pueden pactar con ellos que usen esa magia para su beneficio. Sin embargo, aquí me habría gustado encontrar reglas más definidas sobre qué tipo de condiciones o peticiones pueden hacer los espíritus para cerrar un trato con un chamán. Los espíritus de la enfermedad contagian sus males a quienes vencen en combate espiritual, aunque no es necesario que reduzcan a su contrincante a 0 puntos mágicos. Además, si logras vencerlos ganas 3 ptos. de Poder, lo que me parece algo extraño. ¿Por qué ganas poder por derrotar a este tipo de espíritu y no cuando derrotas a otros, como un fantasma? Sea como sea, para luchar contra ellos son útiles los espíritus de la curación. Por su parte, los espíritus de las plantas pueden sanar heridas y lanzar algunos conjuros espirituales y rúnicos. Y lo mismo con los espíritus del paisaje, por ejemplo un espíritu de una cascada o de una cueva. Otros espíritus son los fantasmas, los espíritus guardianes, los espectros y los caballos de río. También se describen los espíritus que pueden adoptar forma física, como demonios, ninfas, nyctalopes, sprul-pa (estos aparecen en el escenario del RuneQuest Quickstart), voughs (brujas del agua), seis tipos de elementales (oscuridad, tierra, agua, fuego, aire, luna y selenes), caballos negros, mastines infernales, Babaka Fegh, hollri, hermanos del trueno y remolinos de arena.

Ejemplos de wyters con datos de juego para RuneQuest.

Además, por fin se describen los wyters y sus poderes. Estos espíritus de las comunidades aparecieron por primera vez con el juego de rol HeroQuest y son los espíritus protectores de cualquier grupo de individuos, desde un pueblo, un templo, un regimiento, una tribu o una ciudad. Se ofrecen dos ejemplos: el wyter de un pueblo y el wyter protector de un templo de la tierra. Por último, me ha sorprendido encontrar la descripción de los hermanos del trueno, que por su ilustración están claramente basados en los lammasu babilónicos y creo que los han incluido a raíz de que Sandy Petersen los incluyera en su juego de tablero The Gods War.

Este bestiario no podía estar completo sin describir los monstruos titánicos que pueblan las pesadillas de los habitantes de Glorantha. Por eso, en la sección Terrors se describen los datos de juego del Murciélago Carmesí, un bicho caótico descomunal con poderes mágicos que lo sitúan mucho más allá de la capacidad de combate de cualquier grupo de aventureros, sea cual sea su nivel de poder. Curiosamente, sus puntuaciones se han rebajado mucho con respecto a las que se publicaron en el suplemento Secretos Antiguos de Glorantha, pero da igual, porque sigue siendo imbatible. Otros horrores de esta sección son Cwim, un gigante de tres cuerpos y una sola cabeza enorme que escupe monstruos y lo destruye todo a su paso. O el Corro del Caos, una extraña agrupación de monstruos gigantescos. Y para terminar, el Cacodemonio y sus demonios alados.

Finalmente, el último capítulo del bestiario está dedicado a las plantas y árboles de Glorantha. Son veinte especímenes de los que se describe su aspecto y su uso más habitual. También se describen sus efectos y poderes mágicos en caso de tenerlos. Por ejemplo, drogas como la hazia, plantas que alertan de la presencia del Caos, hierbas que conceden visiones o árboles de frutos mágicos.

La ilustración de Cwim es igual que su miniatura en el juego de tablero The Gods War.


Opinión


RuneQuest: Glorantha Bestiary es de adquisición obligada para jugar partidas en Glorantha. Aun así, como runequester veterano que soy, admito que al principio me dio pereza comprarme este libro. Porque, con la de bestiarios que ya tengo de ediciones anteriores, ¿era realmente necesario comprarme otro? Pues bien, los de Chaosium lo sabían y se han ocupado de atraer también al jugador veterano. ¿Cómo? Primero, con una presentación inmejorable. Este es el bestiario de Glorantha que siempre debería haber sido. Igual en calidad al Manual de Monstruos de D&D, (aunque no en cantidad de ilustraciones). No en vano Cory Trego-Trendner ha dibujado algunos de los monstruos para ese bestiario de D&D. Y en segundo lugar, incorporando seres que hasta el momento habían aparecido en distintos libros. Claro que muchas ya se describieron en el bestiario Anaxial's Roster de HeroQuest y en el suplemento Monsters I y II que publicó Mongoose Publishing para su edición de RuneQuest, pero siempre es más cómodo tener los datos de juego de las criaturas no humanas listas para usar en esta edición de RuneQuest. Finalmente, el apartado de los espíritus es necesario porque es muy distinto al de ediciones anteriores y porque sin él, no puedes jugar con chamanes, ya sean personajes jugadores o no jugadores. Así pues, es un buen libro para novatos y veteranos.

De todas formas, no todo va a ser positivo. Ya he comentando a lo largo de la reseña algunas pequeñas críticas, pero me he dejado para el final algunas más:

  • La versión en PDF tiene el índice enlazado a cada página, lo que es muy práctico, pero aún lo habría sido más si el índice del final del libro también hubiera contado con enlaces.
  • En algunas criaturas no se especifica dónde habitan exactamente (p.ej. el perro porcino).
  • Habría estado bien contar con semillas de aventuras relacionadas con las criaturas, como en el bestiario del juego de rol Aquelarre, el Secretos Antiguos de Glorantha o los encuentros de Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes. También habría estado bien encontrar un apartado con personajes no jugadores listos para jugar. Porque soñar es gratis.
  • La principal crítica, pese a todo, es que faltan criaturas, como los elefantes de Teshnos, las lamias, el catoplebas o el basilisco. En el apartado de espíritus, faltan las succubus y algunos otros. Por un lado, me ha gustado que hayan incluido seres que aparecen en algunos escenarios de publicaciones antiguas (como las voughs), porque así se facilita jugar esos escenarios con las nuevas reglas, algo que en Chaosium se fijaron como objetivo desde el inicio del diseño del juego. Pero al mismo tiempo, se han olvidado de otros. Tal vez se les echó el tiempo encima y tuvieron que publicar un bestiario algo menos exhaustivo de lo que les habría gustado, incluso estando como está centrado en el continente norte. En definitiva, parece que Chaosium ha decidido apostar fuerte para que RuneQuest sea más conocido (y genere más ingresos, por qué no decirlo) y, para conseguirlo, han adoptado el mismo esquema de éxito que D&D: es decir, sacar un reglamento de juego, el bestiario y el libro del máster en libros independientes y con una presentación inmejorable. Sin embargo, ese esquema supone publicar los tres libros casi al mismo tiempo, y Chaosium, mal que nos pese, no tiene la misma capacidad de producción que Wizards of the Coast. Si ese fuera realmente el caso, yo habría preferido sacrificar la uniformidad de las ilustraciones por haber incluido 5 o 6 criaturas más. Por lo menos las que aparecen en escenarios de las anteriores ediciones de RuneQuest de Chaosium.
Las wyvernas lucen tremendas en el Glorantha Bestiary.

Pero bueno, a modo de resumen y a pesar de estas quejas de fan...

El Glorantha Bestiary te va a encantar si...

  • Te gustan los libros con buenas ilustraciones.
  • Te propones dirigir una aventura o una campaña con RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.
  • Quieres aprovechar las descripciones de las criaturas que incluye este libro, aunque prefieras otro reglamento u otra edición de RuneQuest para jugar a rol en Glorantha.

Claramente no es para ti si...

  • No te gustan los bestiarios fantásticos.
  • El mundo de Glorantha no te atrae en absoluto.

Pero qué pedazo de dragón de sueños, sí señor. Ahora busca el dragón del RuneQuest básico de JOC y llora.

RuneQuest: Glorantha Bestiary está disponible en DrivethruRPG y en la tienda online de Chaosium. El PDF sale por unos 17,50€. Si comprar el PDF a través de Chaosium, te dan un bono para descontarte el precio del PDF al comprar el libro físico.

Y hasta aquí la reseña. ¿Qué te ha parecido? ¿Me he olvidado de comentar algo? ¿Coincides al 100% con mi opinión? ;-P

The Kraken 2018: the Con with Chaosium (part 3)

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In this trilogy of write-ups I'm telling you about my experience at the RPG and board games con THE KRAKEN 2018, which took place in a remote village in Germany, and is famous for including among its attendees people like Sandy Petersen and other authors involved or working for Chaosium. It lasts for a weekend, so in the first part the trilogy I talked about how I got there, and in the second part I told you all about the seminars I attended and the games I played on Saturday. Below you can read all I did on Sunday: roleplaying games, a brief tribute to Greg Stafford and, to finish with, more roleplaying games and board games. Let's go!

>>>Puedes leer esto en español aquí<<<

On Sunday I woke up feeling much better in terms of sleep, although I was missing some more hours. But after an invigorating breakfast, the only thing in my mind was set on...


10:00   Running RuneQuest Glorantha: Yozarian's Gang


My plan of running my first game in English had me a little bit jittery. Most of all, I wanted to know if enough people had signed up for my game, so I went straight to the main building to check the sign-up paper. No one. No one had signed up for it yet. Well, it wasn't that surprising, come to think of it, as I had hanged the paper just the previous night well after dinner, so not many people had had the chance to see it. I decided to wait an hour to see if I got lucky. Some people came close to the schedule panel and I saw Chris Lemens, who I had first met on Friday, reading the blurb of my game. He told me he loved Gloranthan ducks, but that he was going to wait until he saw other people signing up. However, an hour after that no one else had signed up for my game, so I cancelled it. This is another obvious lesson to remember: don't include your games too late into the schedule, otherwise no one will sign up for it.

Oh well, maybe next time.

11:00 - 18:30   A game of The Trail of Cthulhu


Fortunately, I still managed to join this game run by Nigel Clarke. Two years ago, this British gentleman had run a Mythras game (back then it was still titled RuneQuest 6) set in the world of Zothique by Clark Ashton Smith (read more here -> use the translation gadget). The players included two I had already played with during Saturday's Cthulhu game. I was looking forward to trying The Trail of Cthulhu system and Nigel summed up the main rules and made them sound very easy to grasp. I found out the basic roll is done with 2D6. Before you roll, you can spend skill points of the skill you are using to add them to the result of the roll in order to beat the target number, which is usually 6 or 7, if I'm not wrong. This is how you use your action skills. On the other hand, you have investigation skills, such as Astronomy or Occultism, which you don't need to roll at all, you just need to have the appropriate skill and just for that, you get a clue. However, you can spend skill points to get further information out of the clue. Similarly to Call of Cthulhu, you also have hit points and sanity points, but also stability points, which you lose every time your character witnesses shocking events. You can regain these through your sources of stability and pillars of sanity, which are places, people or beliefs that help you restore your lost stability and sanity between adventures.

The GM explains the rules of the game to my boss, the bookkeeper. Picture by Aliénord Perrard.

The scenario we played is The Whitechapel Blackletter, which is included in the supplement Bookhounds of London. In this scenario, the player characters either work for or have some sort of relationship with a bookshop in London. The gamemaster gave us the pregenerated characters and you could choose between the owner, the book hunter, the journalist, etc. I got the Russian antiquarian. The plot kicked off with the task of finding an old book that was going to be auctioned privately somewhere in the city. We started investigating and everything got very interesting pretty fast. Especially when we realised others were looking for the same book, and they were ahead of us! It was cool when the first supernatural event took place, as one of the characters had to face it absolutely alone. That's what you get for dividing the group! So now you know, children: never go investigating on your own. On the other hand, the GM did something I had never seen before: he had some blank plastic cards he used to write on them the clues we found and the non-player characters we met. Every time we got a new piece of information, he filled a card with that clue and left it on the table for everyone to see, so we could group them per topics. We were completely immersed in the game when lunch was served. That day it was pasta either with vegetarian ingredients or with cheese and bacon, all of it covered with cream sauce. We took our dishes to the table and we kept playing, although we only chewed when we didn't have to talk, of course. We are civilised people here.

Unfortunately, some aspects harmed the development of the game. For starters, the group playing on the table next to us was being very noisy and that was annoying. Of course, in this sort of conventions there will be people playing everywhere and it's difficult to have just one game going on in every room. But the worst thing was that our investigation stalled and we didn't know how to go on. Precisely The Trail of Cthulhu roleplaying game is based on the assumption that a bad dice roll won't ever hamper your investigation, but then, if the players don't know how to follow the clues or what to do next... Then what? We slowed down and the session started to lengthen. As the game had been going on for more than 4 hours, one of the players told the GM that in 10 minutes one of the lottery games was starting, and he hoped we were OK with it, but he was going to abandon the game to switch to the other. I thought that was all right, but I guess the gamemaster didn't take that too well.


16:00 - 16:30   Tribute to Greg Stafford


Fabian summoned us all to take the group picture. As we were all together on the garden, it was announced that in the old chapel they had placed a condolence book and, whoever wanted to, could go there and just sit some minutes in silence in honour to the recently deceased Greg Stafford. I went and wrote some words in the book. However, it felt like too little for such a great man. Well, I'm sure not everyone was interested in that, but I personally would have liked to hear the people who'd known him to share some anecdotes or something more personal. On the other hand, I believe playing his games was in itself a good tribute.

I went back to the game of The Trail of Cthulhu. Seeing the lack of ideas on our part, the GM introduced a couple scenes to liven up the game. I liked one of them a lot: one of the book hunters came across a suspicious woman at a Tube station, but she was standing on the opposite platform, so he had to run upstairs and downstairs to find her. Finally, the GM hastened the end towards the final scene where everything was solved with some tension. Although some of the players later voiced complaints at some of the most rail-roading decisions of the GM, the end of the story was great and absolutely fitting: the very example of a pyrrhic victory.


17:30 - 20:00   A game of RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha


I sat around the table with four other players and introduced myself to the GM: Andrew Wood, who had come from a faraway land. In the 2016 edition of this convention I had met people coming from faraway places. For example, a guy from Texas or Andrew Bean, from Australia. But this new Andrew had come from even further away: New Zealand. I obviously asked him whether, having come from so far away, he would take the chance to visit Europe a bit. But no! He had come from the Antipodes exclusively to attend THE KRAKEN 2018. Wow.

I was very much looking forward to playing that game after so much cthuloidean action. The game hadn't started yet, because the character sheets were being printed (!). Curiously, our GM had created the PCs with software he himself had programmed. Alas, he hadn't had time enough to fill the official RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha character sheets with the data. So he had just downloaded them and had asked the organizers to print them for him. That had had a positive outcome for me, because last game had taken so long to finish that I had feared I wouldn't get to this game in time. However, some of the players got tired of waiting and abandoned the game to go look for other games. Only three of us were left and it was cool because then everything flowed more quickly. We were, first an Orlanthi warrior played by Ivan, a nice guy from Malta. Then, a Chalana Arroy healer played by Gianni Vacca, who lives in France. And as for me, first I had chosen a weird character: a follower of Eurmal the Trickster who was an assassin equipped with heavy armour. But then I changed my mind and chose a thief, follower of the goddess Vinga, daughter of Orlanth, who I named Saryan and who was a good archer. Andrew's game was going to have strong visuals so, for example, every character had a miniature to represent it.

At the beginning, the gamemaster warned us that the game consisted on playing a series of scenes of an adventure he was still working on. I wasn't bad at all, but of course, in the end we felt we had left the story unfinished. The initial premise was that the three main characters had been hired to guard a caravan departing from the city of Nochet. The adventure started when we got to the end of the journey: a small stead on the fringe of the fertile area in the Valley of Cradles. At that moment, Andrew said: "Wait a minute", and he got four colour printed sheets of paper on the table that he joined to make a detailed map of the terrain. Then he placed the miniatures on top and said: "So, what do you do?"

An incredible visual display

We noticed one of the houses was burning and spotted two scorpion men. We killed one and scared off the other. Later, we met a retired Lhankor Mhy sage. He was the recipient of the package the traders were transporting, a gift from far away Esrolia. Since we were there, he asked us to go visit the chief of the area and warn him about the Chaos attack. We departed immediately riding our zebras and we went round a haunted forest where according to the legend, was inhabited by hundreds of ghosts. We arrived in the town when it was already dark, and were coldly welcomed by the head of the guards. He told us the chief was in some nearby ruins, fighting Chaos. Later on, we found out something smelled fishy as we saw the guard talking with a mean-looking tusk rider. I deemed it necessary to spend a rune point to cast the spell Wind Words, which came in very handy to understand what they were plotting...

Saryan the Vingan talking with the guards during the RuneQuest Glorantha game.

A bit later on we joined a bloody combat. In order to establish when acted who, Andrew had bought Infinity Engine's Strike Rank Tracker at the KRAKEN Bazaar. Each of us placed a rune counter next to the strike rank we could do our action. This was very useful, as it let everyone know the order of actions. However, after this short combat scene the game came to an end and we could only guess what would have happened next! On the one hand, time did fly, but on the other hand, it was too short a game. The exact opposite to the previous game I had just played.

At least the visual display was great. Besides, after we finished, Andrew had a surprise in store for us: gifts! Every player got a big Australian chocolate and a small cloth pouch to keep coins or dice, decorated with a Maori symbol. That was the first time in my life someone has ever gifted me after playing a roleplaying game. And with his nice gesture, the GM automatically left a good memory of the game in all of us.

The pouch from New Zealand and two things I bought: a tale set in New Pavis and the official RuneQuest Glorantha dice.

20:00 - 20:30   Dinner and board games' chat


During dinner, I chatted away with Gianni about some political topics (no less) I was looking forward to talk about with him. Then the rest of the "French team" sat on our table: Jack, Jean-Christophe, Philippe and Remy, and I did my best to follow the conversation with my French Language skill of 25%. The main topic was board games. I found out, among other things, that Jack worked for Asmodee demoing games at cons. I then commented how the only games I buy nowadays are those I'm sure my wife will also enjoy (with some exceptions), and he recommended me Paper Tales. Later on, I suggested playing some board game, and so Remy went over to Sandy Petersen to ask him if he would let us play with one of his latest board games...


20:30 - 00:30   A game of Evil High Priest


Evil High Priest is a board game for 2 to 5 players designed by Lincoln Petersen together with his dad Sandy. It's funny because, unlike in the Call of Cthulhu RPG, your goal here is to help an evil cult be the first to summon an Old One. Regarding the mechanics, it's a worker placement game with a different touch. The game includes several boards, one for each Old One you are trying to summon. All the classics are there: from Cthulhu to the Yellow King, even the Black Goat. This last one is the one we used. The other players had already tried the game two days ago, so Remy patiently explained all the rules to me.

The goal of Evil High Priest is to be the player with the most points at the end of the game, and the easiest way to achieve that is by breaking the seals preventing the Old One to manifest in our world. These seals are on the main board and you can place your cultists there to break them, but first you have to follow the lines and pay some tokens, and that configuration changes on every board, which I guess is a way of adding replayability to the game. When the last seal is broken, the Old One is summoned, the game ends and everyone counts how many points they've assembled.

Playing Evil High Priest with the French guys.

But there are other boards: the board of resources, divided in spaces where you can place your cultists in order to get different tokens that are the game's currency: blood, money, energy, magic, etc. You keep these resources safe in your evil cult's lair, which is a small board that every player keeps in front of him. Resources are used to advance through the summoning board and break seals. But, in order to win you need to build a good lair, with lots of traps, monsters and safes to keep your valuable resources (and the broken seals!). These sections in your lair must be paid with resources and you'd better hurry and build a better lair than the other players, because every time someone breaks a seal, all cults suffer the investigators' attack (the usual PCs in a Call of Cthulhu game) who are trying to stop the summoning. If you haven't managed to protect your lair with good defences, the investigators will take away your resources and kill your cultists. If all goes awry, you can always rescue more cultists from the asylum and harvest more resources, but perhaps by then the other evil cults (meaning the other players) will have reaped many more victory points than you (!).

The game them revolves around each turn knowing where is best to place your cultists so you can get the resources you need. At the same time, you need to know what improvements to buy for your lair so you can then break seals and get points, but also damage the other players. It's very strategic and during the game you keep thinking: "Mmhm, I'm going to get three blood tokens now and two magic, and so I will break that seal, or will it be better to spend them in purchasing a new monster for my lair? Because if I break the seal now, the investigators will get all my money and..." and so forth.

In the end, Remy was the winner. He mopped the floor with us, actually. I was content, however, at ending in second place. It's a fun game and I like how it combines the worker placement mechanic with building a lair. This reminded me a bit of Castles of Mad King Ludwig, because there are always three improvements available to all players, and the first to get the best one is usually the one with the best lair, so he can better withstand the investigators' attack. Summing up: I had a lot of fun.

"Mmmhm, what should I do now? - Original picture by Aliénor Perrard.


00:30 - whenever   Chatting about roleplaying games


After the game I came across Juho, a Finnish guy who I had played a game of HeroQuest with during THE KRAKEN 2016. He introduced me to his friend Timo and I learned they belong to the Kalikos Association, a Finnish association of Glorantha fans that, among other things, has published HeroQuest in Finland, as well as a Gloranthan fanzine in English: The Zin Letters. I had a blast talking with them.

When I mentioned I had played the Colymar campaign with HeroQuest Glorantha, Juho asked me how that had gone, because he had run it for his friends and he was curious to know how different our campaigns might have been. I was surprised to know how cruel his players had been with the Greydogs. Contrary to my experience, they had encouraged a true blood feud against the Greydog.

Moreover, thanks to Juho I learned that Jeff Richard, creative director of the RuneQuest Glorantha line, had participated in the Glorantha seminar with Ian Cooper that morning and had explained how he was working on the new heroquesting rules with RuneQuest. It looks like Jeff had been working on a way to run heroquests that does not require the GM to first create a myth that then the players must memorise and go through in the Godplane. The approach Jeff is working on consists on going to the Godplane and creating the myth as the players go through it, so there is no longer the need to plan and prepare a coherent myth before play. That is to say, the in-world characters do know the myth beforehand, it's just that it won't be necessary for other players (and the GM!) to know it beforehand. In order to achieve this, he's working on a set of maps of the Godplane, where you can see how all the myths interact, so at least the GM can have a good picture of where can the PCs end up if they do certain things in each mythic place, so by chaining Godplane events, players can get to a climax not even the GM was aware of before the beginning of the quest. In my opinion this sounds like a fresh and great idea so people have it easier to go heroquesting without the need to first find the most appropriate myth. On the other hand, it looks like a very hard feat to pull off in terms of mechanics, so we'll need to wait and see what the final rules look like.

Talking about past games. Is there anything better than that? - Picture by Aliénor Perrard.

We also talked a bit about Greg Stafford and how the news of his passing away had affected each of us. Juho has been attending THE KRAKEN since the beginning and before the Tentacles Convention, so he had met Greg on several occasions. In 2010, he had even managed to play a game run by Greg Stafford (!). Stafford had a game in store for the players that was completely out of the ordinary: The Sylkar Mystery, with HeroQuest Glorantha. Read the blurb below (also found here):

Imperial Command: Seven Lunar scholars are to be sent to resolve a problem. They are to outfit an expedition and go see...  (A week-long mini-campaign!)

Players played the role of Lunars at the end of the Third Age who were tasked with investigating what had exactly happened during the recent cataclysm known as the Hero Wars. Greg had dropped a big fat pile of manuscripts on the table and told them: "Solve the puzzle!" In the end though, Juho had been disappointed by the fact they hadn't had time enough to finish the game. On the other hand, Gianni Vacca had been telling me hours before how he had also played in that game, but had been shocked at finding such an experimental game.

In this kind of conventions it's such a pity to realise that, when you've finally managed to break the ice and you start feeling a real camaraderie, then the con is over and you have to go home. Maybe that's why some people lengthen their stay by meeting there two days before the official start.


Good bye and wrap up


On Monday morning the usual closing ceremony was held during breakfast, but this time it had to be shorter due to time constraints. I like it that they thank all the gamemasters who have run games and every one of them is rewarded with some Chaosium product or book. Afterwards there were further acknowledgements, thanks, and applause. Finally, the people who had booked the return trip on the coach took their things and left.

I left a little bit later. When I started my car again, I didn't hear any strange beep this time, so I drove back to Berlin. The phantasmagorical landscape that had unsettled me on Friday evening had vanished, and the sunlight turned it into a sunny sight full of lush meadows and cows. Even my flight was on time!

This had been my second time in an international RPG convention. This time over, already the first day I realised this time I wasn't going to get the "first time" novelty effect that had made the first time so special. However, this was substituted by something perhaps even better than that, which is meeting people you met the first time and chat with them, enjoying the feeling of belonging a bit more in the crowd. That nice feeling of not needing to break so much ice. For someone who took the plunge and went alone to an event like this, that's worth a lot. And, as always, it's the people you meet what makes a trip like this really worth it. Maybe I hope I can attend THE KRAKEN again in the near future. Finally, I have to thank Fabian for having found a gap for me again in this great gaming retreat.

Nice people, from different countries - Picture by Aliénor Perrard.


Oh, and by the way: next edition is on the 18-21 October 2019! More info on the website.
And there's also the Mini-Kraken on 7-10 June 2019. Are you going? Registration is already open for this summer mini-version of THE KRAKEN. So don't be like me and sign-up early!!!  :-)

The Kraken 2018: the Con with Chaosium (part 2)

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In this trilogy of write-ups I'm telling my experience at the RPG Con THE KRAKEN 2018 that took place in Germany. In the first part I explained how I got there on Friday and my first impressions. This time I'm telling you all I did on Saturday: the seminars I attended and the roleplaying and board games I played.

>>>Puedes leer esto en español aquí<<<
Original picture by Graeme Murrell

I woke up with rings under the eyes, but I was very happy to have slept on a normal bed (unlike the last time). Even so, I hadn't slept long and, at any rate, the first night wherever no one ever sleeps soundly. Moreover, the "Snoratorium" had honoured its name and had gifted me with a full night symphony. Nevertheless, I woke up feeling good and went straight to have breakfast. At the THE KRAKEN breakfast is the usual hotel buffet, meaning ham and cold sausages, cheese, toast, buns, boiled eggs, marmalades, butter, fruit, etc. I sat down at a long table where there were people already eating and after some awkward silences, I started talking with Gary Bowerbank and Andrew Kenrick. They told me about the games they had prepared for that day (Warhammer Fantasy and Delta Green) and I told them about the all duck game and the shock of the previous night. Then the topic changed to the campaigns each was running at home and ended up talking about Pendragon with Regis Pannier, who's a hardcore fan of the game. After that, I went to the main building.

The "Snoratorium" during breakfast time. Other accommodation options are the double rooms and the camping site.


10:00 - 11:00   Building a Horror Scenario the Sandy Petersen Way


I got in the room 10 minutes before the start and Sandy was already there, sitting next to his wife, chatting with other attendees. I used the time to have a look at the KRAKEN Bazaar, whose articles on sale were exposed next to the wall.

Sandy began punctually his workshop of scenario creation. He had already given this masterclass at other cons. For example, some weeks earlier at the XIII Festival Internacional de Juegos de Córdoba 2018 or at the Gen Con 2018 in Indianapolis. Both were recorded and uploaded to Youtube if you care to watch them. In every one of these Sandy Petersen creates a different scenario by using three basic elements he asks the audience for. These are: a place, a monster and a film scene. Every time the audience provides very different elements, so the scenario at the end of every masterclass is unique. This time, the basic elements were: a submarineundead and a grand feast. No doubt an evocative combination. The way Sandy does it is by combining these three elements and filling the gaps until an interesting scenario for Call of Cthulhu emerges.

The audience of this particular masterclass were able to witness firsthand how Sandy Petersen's mind races at full-speed adding details he's read here and there to the mix. He was all the time thinking aloud and commenting the ideas he came up with, while adding anecdotes and other trivia. For example, with the submarine he thought of Second World War and he came up with the idea of player characters getting there as the team of a shipwreck salvage company. Then he thought of the Fabergé eggs and he concluded the submarine had belonged to Nazis fleeing to South America with some treasures looted from Russia. He commented how it was not a good idea to choose the Deep Ones as the monster of the scenario, because that would be precisely what players would expect to find. In principle, the scene of the grand feast seemed difficult to fit in all this, but the creator of Call of Cthulhu came up with a phantasmagorical idea to include it. At the end of an hour, he still had some gaps to fill, but the scenario was all but done, and heck, I'd love to run it!

The KRAKEN Bazaar, a good way to save on shipping costs. Would you have bought anything?

Apart from all this, Sandy Petersen told us many interesting things, like, when he created the roleplaying game Call of Cthulhu, he would have liked to set it during the present times, because H.P. Lovecraft also set his tales in the most rigorous "present" adding elements that were new at the time, like the exploration of Antarctica. On the other hand, I laughed when, at a scene in the scenario where the investigators have to look for information, he told us: "This is a good moment to let the characters use the Wi-Fi connection on board the ship to look for information on the Internet. Precisely because they expect you to tell them "there's no coverage", if you tell them there is, they are going to freak out. I mean, it's only then they'll figure out they are doomed!". Finally, it was also interesting to know this gentleman has a recurring nightmare that keeps him awake at night from time to time. All in all, a very enjoyable hour went by. One thing was clear enough: the more books you read, the more material you'll have to create an interesting scenario. For example: Had you ever heard of goblin sharks? They're awful.


11:00   Horror Lottery


In the central hall of the main building was where the lottery of games run by the VIPS was held, a classic of this con. This time, 4 were being raffled:

  • The Monster of Poznan, a Call of Cthulhu game run by Sandy Petersen. Sandy had already run this in Córdoba. This scenario will be included in the Polish 7th ed. of the rulebook. It deals about one of the Prussian forts around Poznan, which holds a secret the investigators will have to face.
  • Darkness at Runegate, a game of RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, run by Jason Durall. Something smells rotten in the Orlanthi town of Runegate and the adventurers will need to find what it is.
  • Temertain Must Die, a HeroQuest Glorantha game run by Ian Cooper, editor of the HeroQuest line. This is the one I was most looking forward to win a seat for, because the blurb alone looked very epic:
    "Six Humakti, beset by nightmares and dark pasts, haunted by the Household of Death but promised absolution from their failures, seek a blade with which to restore honour and justice. One of them must wield it, to fell a Prince and save a kingdom. They will triumph or die, perhaps both, but most of all gain absolution for their sins".
  • Scritch Scratch, a Call of Cthulhu game, run by the author, Lynne Hardy, Assistant Editor of the Call of Cthulhu line. Chaosium shared this scenario during Free RPG Day 2018.
Sandy Petersen drawing the names of the 6 lucky players of his game. Picture by Aliénor Perrard.

Since 6 players are allowed in each game, that meant there were going to be 24 lucky winners of a place in these games. But like last time, I wasn't one of them. Ooooooh! However, when it was already too late I realised that, even if you don't win anything, this is a good time to find a gap in games that were already full, because the winners of the Horror Lottery games will need to cancel some of their games to be able to play a game with the VIPs. That's a tip right there. :-)


11:10 - 12:00   Chaosium Chat about RuneQuest and HeroQuest


Jason Durall and Ian Cooper talked about the books in production phase for these two lines of Chaosium. Ian was first with HeroQuest. As I mentioned in this news, they are working on a OGL ruleset for HeroQuest. The goal is to draw more people to try the game and to draw more authors to publish material for this line. The rulebook is being streamlined, so this will be probably called version 2.2. They will focus on explaining better those rules that confuse players and this you will be able to use these core rules as a base to create your own games. Then, after this revised rulebook some "genre packs" will be published, which are supplements of different settings to play with HeroQuest. For example, Ian Cooper is working on one for the Rocket Punk genre. In fact, the next day he was running a game in that setting: Last Voyage of the Ghislaine. Here's the blurb:
Lazenby Brackish, the Core Worlds industrialist, is missing. For the crew of the Patrol Boat Goodluck Jonathan this ought to be a simple assignment. But away from the Core, out on the Frontier, things have a way of getting interesting, fast.
These "genre packs" will be 32 pages long and, apart from the one just mentioned, there are other in the works. One is Cosmic Zap, a supplement to play games with cosmic-level superheroes, such as Silver Surfer and Galactus, that can include combats between player characters. Ron Edwards is the author, cofounder of The Forge and creator of the GNS theory and the Big Model. In his blog you can read some write-ups of his games. Other packs include a pulp genre pack and two or three more that can't be revealed yet.

Jason Durall and Ian Cooper spilling the beans about future books for RuneQuest and HeroQuest.

Then Jason took over with the upcoming publications for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. The 3 next books of this line will appear on the first semester of 2019:

Gods of Glorantha: unlike the original published for RQ3, this will include long descriptions of cults, with myths. It's in an advanced production stage, but it is suffering delays because Jeff Richard is constantly adding new content.

A scenario book: the original title was going to be The Old Ones, because the authors of the scenarios are important people involved with RuneQuest, such as Steve Perrin or Ken Rolston, but also others like Penelope Love. However, right now its code name is: Rune Masters.

The Gamemaster Sourcebook: in this other post you can read the names of the sections of this book. Jason also specified that this book he is writing will include material already published in the big gold book Basic Roleplaying (BRP) as well as revised material from older editions, such as the guilds from RuneQuest 2nd ed. Additionally, it will include advice for Gamemasters, both beginning and veteran, and other interesting details like alternative player character creation methods.

A book of mini-adventures: these are short scenarios, 5 to 12 pages each, to fill up an evening without much preparation, perfect to be inserted in an ongoing campaign or to be further fleshed out by GMs. From small sandbox scenarios to small dungeons with 4-5 rooms. The provisional title for this is Initiates. Easy to use scenarios that require no previous knowledge of Glorantha to be run.

Then Jason Durall commented on the piece of news revealed during the Gen Con 2018: Robin Laws is writing two long-awaited supplements for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha: Pavis and The Big Rubble. According to Jason, Laws had already submitted part of his manuscript and they are liking it a lot. He's a very productive author, it seems. Jason told us he had devised a questionnaire to create characters of this city surrounded by chaparral and nomad tribes. It will be similar to the one included in RuneQuest Glorantha, but since the book is set after the liberation of Pavis from the Lunars, questions include things like: "Who was the first person you killed?".

After that they announced the RuneQuest line is also going to include "RQ Fantasy Earth" with full-fledged roleplaying games set in different areas of Mythic Earth. The new edition of Mythic Iceland is already old news, but Jason let it slip that Pirates might be a possibility. That seems odd though, because Chaosium already published Blood Tide and I think it wasn't that successful.

It was now Ian Cooper's turn again and he told us about what we can expect for Glorantha with HeroQuest. I must confess I didn't get it all because Ian's Londoner accent is pretty difficult for my untrained ears:

Third Red Cow campaign book: it will be a book filled with short scenarios that take you to the time of general open rebellion in Sartar against the invading Lunar Empire.

Supplement about Fonrit: this book will let you play adventures in the vein of One Thousand and One Nights although it is still in a very vague form. However, if it ever sees the light of day and sells good, the next book could be about Harrek the Berserk in Pamaltela.

To finish with, during the last 5 minutes they asked for questions from the audience. Someone asked if they needed any material for the next issue of the magazine Wyrm's Footnotes, but Ian replied they had more than they needed, and that the new issue will be published "soonish". Jason mentioned that publishing something in it is a good way to end up getting published by Chaosium. Then I asked what they could tell us about the new heroquesting rules with RuneQuest and if what we finally get will influence in some way the way they are played with HeroQuest. Jason said Jeff Richard is developing rules to allow anyone to create myths for heroquests easily (read part 3 for more on this). Ian added that in principle the heroquesting rules in HeroQuest Glorantha are not going to change because, as they are two very different games, they don't need to share any game mechanic.


12:00 - 13:00   Chat about Call of Cthulhu


This seminar was given by Lynne Hardy, Assistant Editor at Chaosium of the Call of Cthulhu line. Mike Mason should have been there as well, but he was in the middle of a move. Lynne started off by talking about the gamer prop set for the Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign and the three books included in the slipcase of the new edition of this campaign.

Lynne Hardy revealing the upcoming Chaosium news for Call of Cthulhu. Photo by Aliénor Perrard.

The she talked about the Starter Set for the 7th edition. The cover art is a tribute to the first edition cover. The contents can be seen in this other post and she explained the scenarios included are the classics for Call of Cthulhu, but they have added lots of advice for beginning gamemasters. The first scenario is for solo play, then there's a scenario for only one player, then one for more players with lots of advice and finally one with almost no advice, so the GM can fly alone. And then Lynne spilt the beans about future books:
  • Shadows of Stillwater: a campaign for the Western setting of Down Darker Trails.
  • Secrets of Berlin: supplement for the classic Call of Cthulhu, with 3 scenarios and many seeds for further adventures. 
  • A Cold Fire Within: a campaign for Pulp Cthulhu set in 1935 and a very interesting premise: the heirs to an ancient evil empire try to restore it by travelling back in time and altering the timeline. It reminds me of the Timeless TV show!
  • Cthulhu by Gaslight and Dreamlands: revision of both books for the 7th edition. These will be followed by a Gaslight campaign and Dreamlands will be updated with some new material. Lynne told us how at Chaosium they are trying to balance publications between updated old supplements and completely new material.
  • Harlem Unbound: its author Chris Spivey is revising his award-winning book for the next edition that will be published by Chaosium.
  • A scenario book based on folklore: where monsters do not necessarily belong to the Mythos, as in The Wicker Man.
  • A big campaign set in the North of India: I guess this is the one titled "Children of Fear". When Lynne Hardy published the campaign Shadows of Atlantis for Achtung! Cthulhu, lots of the ideas she had researched about India had to be left out for lack of space. Now, however, she will be able to use all of those in this new campaign, for which she has already written 200,000 words so far.
  • Cthulhu during the Elizabethan period: this new setting for Call of Cthulhu is planned for further in the future, perhaps in two years time.
  • A new Organized Play campaign: starring the most popular monsters among the fans: the Deep Ones.
Not bad at all, eh? That's a busy pipeline. And so lunch time arrived.


13:00 - 14:00   Lunchtime


On the table of the central room pizzas were served, fresh from the oven. There were some for vegetarians and some for carnivores. I believe there were 3 different kinds.

New pizzas were served as the first ones were quickly devoured.

As I gobbled down the first portions, I managed to chat with Gianni Vacca and Ian Cooper about the Gloranthan campaign Gianni is running with RuneQuest. It is set in the Kingdom of Ignorance and it looks very good. Gianni has written some posts about it in his blog Timinits & Trolls, where you can also read his write-up of THE KRAKEN 2018. Gianni was looking for information about the Black Sun god, but Ian couldn't help him. The conversation then veered towards how Glorantha includes places awaiting further exploration where an ingenious gamemaster can run a full campaign without ever touching upon anything previously published about the world. Ian commented there are fans that complain about why Chaosium does not publish books about this or that area of Glorantha, as if they believed everything is already written and awaiting publication, but the truth is it is basically yet to be defined. Then I asked Gianni if he was planning to revise his supplement The Celestial Empire for Revolution D100. He replied it was too boring for him to just do an update, so no.


14:00 - 17:30   After Dark: a Call of Cthulhu game


This is one of the Call of Cthulhu games Lynne Hardy ran at this con. She ran many, not only the one included in the lottery, so when I managed to play this one I no longer regretted not having won any of the lotteries. I hadn't played a game of Call of Cthulhu in years and I was very much looking forward to it. Besides, this was going to be the first time I played in a game run by someone at Chaosium, the first time I was going to play with a female gamemaster and the first time I was going to play the 7th edition of the game.

As it was to be expected, Lynne Hardy was an exceptional Keeper, and a charming person to boot. Among the players there were people who had never played Call of Cthulhu, but Lynne explained the details of the rules in short order, and also the changes in the 7th edition: basically two, luck points and two new levels of success. Strangely, the group of players didn't include a single native speaker of English. We were two Germans, one Swede, two Finns and me.

Playing Call of Cthulhu with Lynne Hardy from Chaosium

The game started at a History museum in a small town in the north of England, during the present time. The players played the part of a team of the museum crew who had come up with the idea of organising an event to draw more visitors. The marketing guy thought it would be a good idea to bring a medium to the museum in order to "read" with her powers several items in the vaults of the museum that hadn't been identified yet for lack of information. To accompany the session there would be some new age music and colourful lights, and that's what the two sound technicians we had hired would take care of (two other player characters). Finally, the rest of the team were the security guy of the museum and me, the curator. Lynne assured us she had created this scenario based on a similar real experience (!).

When the time came, the gates opened and the first group of visitors came in. From the stage set in the central hall, I gave a short welcome speech and, among other details, I assured the visitors the medium had no previous knowledge at all about the items we had selected for "the reading". Obviously, I tried hard to hide the fact that all that idea seemed pure rubbish to me. I turned the mic over to my colleague, "the marketing guy", and he in turn gave it to the medium, who started "reading" the items by placing her hands on each of them and saying aloud the visions she had. In order to further dress up the event, the sound technicians were doing something very vanguardist: they shot sound waves through every item to generate different sounds. Well, I was beginning to roll my eyes at every new statement from the medium when, suddenly, the story took a completely unexpected twist.

In the afternoon they served lemon cake and, of course, we paused to get a portion and some coffee.

The main characters had to survive every strange paranormal phenomena and very unsettling scenes. When we finally found out what we needed to do to solve the problem we had somehow created, it was quite funny because... We had left the security guy behind! He managed to barely survive until we went back there and, at the very last minute, managed to save him, although we risked our lives and our sanity. All in all, a great game, it was only too short! The museum curator quit his job and he was last seen moving to another town. Tuomas, the Finnish guy who played the part of the medium was great in his role and I had to laugh out loud in several scenes. Our "Keeper" knew her job well. She gave every player a bit of spotlight and her descriptions, although short, immersed you right into the narrative. As an added bonus, I learnt what "adder stones" are, and Brigid's crosses and their relation to the ancient Celtic festivals. At the end of the game, we congratulated our keeper for her job and we asked her to tell us how had the real event been, the one she had really attended at a museum in north England (!).


17:30 - 20:00   Free time and dinner


After that, some of the players quickly joined a Mythic Britain game with the Mythras rules that was just starting on the table next to us. However, I was left with nothing to do. I hadn't counted on the game to finish that early. I noticed on the table right behind me there was a GM with only three players. They had begun playing a scenario from Harlem Unbound just 20 minutes earlier. This supplement for Call of Cthulhu and The Trail of Cthulhu, published by Darker Hue Studios offers the NY neighbourhood of Harlem as a setting for Lovecraftian horror during the 20s. It had been nominated for and won many Ennie awards at the Gen Con 2018. I asked them permission to sit at the table and watch. Well, I was hoping they would give me a character to play, but they were already immersed in the story, so it could not be. After a while, I went back to the table next to it and decided to finish creating the pregenerated characters for RuneQuest game in Glorantha I planned to run on Sunday morning. I had only four ducks to translate and convert to the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha rules. I hadn't yet hanged the piece of paper with my game on the schedule tables just in case I didn't have the time to finish the characters. At 19:00 dinner was served: roasted chicken with vegetables.

Saturday's dinner

20:00 - 22:00   Starbrow's Revolt playtest game


Risto had brought to the con the prototype of the board game he had designed and set in Glorantha during the Hero Wars. Every player plays a hero or heroine at the head of an army against the advancing Lunar Empire. I chose Errinoru Leaf, commander of the Aldryami army. Heroes are represented with a miniature and a sort of character sheet with special powers and your army's stats. These are damage, troops (which double up as life points) and economic resources. On top of that, you have Spirit and Rune Magic cards. Every turn, you can purchase magic items, move your troops and fight, leave your troops in an area to fortify it against future attacks and even undertake heroquests.

Risto told us how the game was played as we played it. I don't remember all the details, but there were a lot of variables to take into account and many ways to lose. After all players move it's the Lunar Empire's turn, in which new enemy troops are placed on the board. Then there are nine decks of cards, one for each main area, that you uncover little by little to reveal random challenges that pop up, mostly monstrosities that wander around the territory. It is not necessary to deal with these cards, but if you accumulate enough of them you'll be in trouble, so at least one of the heroes must "clean" that front every turn. To avoid these problems, you can also let the Crimson Bat advance an area. The figure of this immense Chaos monster had been created by Risto's six-year-old son, and it stood menacingly on one end of the board. The Bat annihilates all troops in the area it enters, even the Lunars! But if it ever reaches the city of Whitewall, you lose the game.

The players doubtfully advanced through the game, trying to figure out the best strategy to become more powerful without letting the Lunar Empire to spread too much. After two full turns we started getting more or less how everything worked, and then Risto told us how heroquesting works. When you undertook one of these dangerous magic rituals, you could obtain great benefits, but there was a risk. However, the rules were so complicated that it looked like a game within a game.

A Gloranthan game that is difficult to master, but interesting nonetheless. Someone said he saw mechanics from Scythe in it.

In the end we could only play two hours and we left the game unfinished. As it happens, the room we were in was going to be turned into a cinema for another of Sandy's movie nights. It was a shame, but I think Risto preferred to leave it at that instead of looking for another place to keep playing because his son was already tired and wanted to go to bed.

Afterwards I continued preparing the pregenerated characters for my RuneQuest game. Before I went to sleep, I placed the game sheet on the schedule table. Would I manage to draw enough players to my Sunday morning game? Would you like to know what games I played on Sunday? One Cthulhu game, one RuneQuest Glorantha game and I also played Sandy Petersen's: Evil High Priest, one of his latest board games. Read all the details in my next post:

 
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