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Glorantha is...

posted Dec 19, 2012 17:30:36 by Chris
Here comes a strange question...What is Glorantha?

I know it's a setting based on the ideas of Greg Staffored, but what is its appeal, what are its strong points? It's been going for decades, but has always flown under my radar for some reason. I know I could have googled it, but this is much better for discussions, and it might be useful if there are other lost souls who for one reason or another, have never gotten familiar with Glorantha.

So what is it you like about Glorantha?

Thank you
"This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!"
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41 replies
VaughanCockell said Dec 19, 2012 19:56:39
For me, the reason I like Glorantha is primarily about the role myth plays in reality - the truth is based almost entirely on Mythic History. How someone sees the world is a very important thing. This and its tie to the multiple magic types of Runequest appealed to me when I was discovering RPGs and still does. Each magic type is not just how to do cool stuff but a perspective that explains who a person is, their role in the world, and how the world works - an entire world-view. No other game engaged with religion and religious perspectives in such a sympathetic and reasonable way, and still very few do.

Along with the recognition that people can be enemies without being "evil", and that generally "evil" is simply opposing views on particular issues I believe played an important part in my ethical and spiritual development as a person.

That, and Celts flying around blasting lightning out of their swords at Greek-style Hoplites is just plain cool, of course. :-)
Chris said Dec 19, 2012 20:07:58
The role of myth comes up a lot, can you give some examples of these myths?

I guess going by the Celtic flaming swords, it's high fantasy as opposed to realistic?

I hear there is a Greek type culture and Roman, is there a medieval British type culture?
"This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!"
VaughanCockell said Dec 19, 2012 20:43:34
You are actually asking enormous questions here, I am not sure I can put the answers into words very easily. Check out the introduction of Loz and Pete's Glorantha 2nd age core book for MRQ2 for one of the more coherent introductions that is still relatively succinct. Its only $1.

As is their Cults of Glorantha book which includes many primary myths of many of the major Gods and Pantheons.

Finally, go to and have a wander around the entries there. Maybe that will give you a sense of how amazing this setting and its underlying themes are.

Over to others to also try to put into words what Glorantha is and can be.
Chris said Dec 19, 2012 21:01:24
Thanks for the links

Do we know what era the Gloranth kickstarte has gone with, I think I heard it was the 3rd?
"This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!"
VaughanCockell said Dec 19, 2012 21:01:46
I hope Loz will allow me to quote this list from his MRQ2 Glorantha book as it captures many of the themes better than I can explain them:

Top 10 Gloranthan Themes
1. Everything is magical.
2. Myth is real.
3. The past shapes the present.
4. Myth is true, even in its contradictions. The
truth is how you see it. Every culture has its
own truths.
5. Forgetting Number 4 can get you killed.
6. Truth is a matter of perspective.
7. He who embraces materialism at the expense
of the spirit can become temporarily powerful
but courts ultimate disaster.
8. War can be heroic and glorious but is always
devastating and cruel.
9. Ordinary lives are sustained by the idealism
of communal sacrifice, of love for family and
clan. The grand sweep of history is fuelled by
greed, aggression and pride.
10. History is cyclical. The world rises from the
ashes of catastrophe, recovers and prospers.
People become proud and complacent,
tampering with cosmic forces, visiting
catastrophe upon themselves. The world rises
from the ashes of catastrophe…
VaughanCockell said Dec 19, 2012 21:23:01
Yep, the default setting for Glorantha, including the just Kickstarted Guide is near the end of the Third Age, in the year 1621 since the birth of the God, Time.

Though with all the stretch goals and maps of all the Ages it should reasonably cover previous ages if you want to set games then.
Chris said Dec 19, 2012 22:28:37
I may well back this one
"This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!"
VaughanCockell said Dec 19, 2012 22:37:01
Ah, too late. It finished yesterday. It will be available for ordering eventually though, both in pdf and hardback. The hardback is anticipated to be out in May, the pdf hopefully earlier.
Chris said Dec 19, 2012 23:15:35
Ok, thanks for the update
"This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!"
lawrence.whitaker said Dec 19, 2012 23:36:26
Glorantha is what you want it to be.

On the surface, its everything Vaughan's said: a world where myths are real, cultures diverse and often contradictory, the staple fantasy races twisted into strange tropes that have become their own things. Magic is everywhere and just about everyone taps into it. Its a huge and complex place, but also very simple in many ways. There are sun worshipping high conquerors, wind and storm worshipping barbarians; monotheistic sorcerers; mystics in the eastern tradition; and hives of chaos spawn just waiting to be butchered to prevent a third dark age.

There are great and splendid cities; enormous ruins and tunnels filled with loot and magic.

In Glorantha you can do anything you want at just about any degree you like. There's a region, culture and religious view that supports it. The best advice is start small, focused on a narrow part of the world (Dragon Pass and Prax are best for this) and explore the world at your own pace. The RuneQuest Archives has a ton of stuff, all price at just $1 a PDF, that will give you all the introduction you need. Even though all of it is based in Glorantha's Second Age, its relevance is still valid and offers a low-cost exposure to one the greatest world-building feats of the past 100 years.
Chris said Dec 20, 2012 00:46:51
High praise indeed.

Yes, I've been reading the information on the moondesign website, and it's definitely wet my appetite.

Sounds fascinating, and to think that all the different takes on fantasy were introduced years ago too. Ahead of its time.

Looking forward to that book.
"This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!"
Skoll said Dec 20, 2012 13:20:55
I like Glorantha because of its rich background and the out-of-the-ordinary elements.

You have Dwarves (or Mostali in Glorantha) with their machine-like minds repairing the world-machine; Elves (Aldryami) that are actually plants; Morokanths, the only four-legged sentient tribe in the plains of Prax herding human-like herd-men; Dragonewts seeking enlightenment and dragonhood through rebirth-cycles; Trolls (Uz) with their unique culture; and of course Ducks - despised buy everybody, but still enduring.

You have a myriad of gods with unique personalities and humane faults.

It's a world full of conflict, but there's no black-and-white division between the good guys and the bad guys (except for Chaos). You can have Stormbull-worshipping Orlanthi tribesmen launch joint raids with Trolls agains Chaos; while Humakt-workshipping Orlanthi would never ally themselves with Trolls, because the trolls don't respect Death.

And then there's Chaos - the twisted, sick, corrupting force seeking to absorb the whole world back into the Primal Chaos.

For me it's just full of unique and cool elements not found in any other fantasy settings.
DanTrue said Dec 20, 2012 14:41:09
Like you, I am also just discovering Glorantha. I've never read about it until recently, never played a game in it and yet I backed the kickstarter... and when RQ6 stuff begins to come out, I might very well set a game there.

One thing that really sets Glorantha apart from others for me, is that these myths are real.. as people mentioned. So real in fact that the world actually is actually flat with water flowing over the edges, take a look at the picture attached.

I will be looking further into Glorantha in the future. I have been hesitant until now primarily because of talking baboons and ducks. However, apple lane framed baboons well for me, so I now see them as more than 'talking disney-style apes'. Same with ducks, the 2nd edition apple lane picture with the ducks had me going all fuck-donald-duck on them. But after seeing some artwork that was more realistic, I actually saw that they could be non-silly... in some way or another.

- Dan

[Last edited Dec 20, 2012 14:41:23]
RudyBoe said Dec 20, 2012 15:58:07
Chris said Dec 20, 2012 16:13:01
Yes, I had heard about ducks, and they put me off initially, but as said, they grown on you, and it isn't as if they are all over the place.

How do you spell Genertela? Because to me it looks a lot like Genetalia

EDIT: That world looks very interesting
[Last edited Dec 20, 2012 16:13:41]
"This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!"
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