Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chariot of the Gods

RuneQuest is a game that will always be associated with the fictional world of Glorantha. This is despite the fact that the game's authors have always encouraged players to use it for other settings. In the introduction to the 2nd edition of 1979 they emphasize the novelty at that time of situating a game in a particular world, but also recommend that it be used in other venues.

However, this game is not limited to Glorantha. The experience system, the combat system, most of the magic system, and the training/guild system, and everything but the specific references to the world of Glorantha can be adjusted to fit any time and space with a minimum of hassle. We think you will find this system more realistic, and at the same time more playable, than any system you have seen before.

They even published Questworld, a non-Glorantha setting for the game. It never caught on. When the third edition was released by Avalon Hill some years later they went a step further. The default setting of the game was changed to a fantasy version of Europe, with Glorantha provided as an optional setting. They even included a nice map in the rules.

This is a great map. It has the feel of a pre-modern map. It's a little crude, a little sketchy, but has enough details to be useful for the players. I like this much better than the overly realistic maps in some games. (As much as I admire the world building that went into HârnWorld, the presentation in the form of a modern atlas always struck me as somewhat anachronistic for a pseudo-medieval fantasy setting.) One curious thing about the map is that mountain in east of "Libya" labeled "Chariot of Gods." Just what is that? For me it brings to mind all those stories of ancient astronauts, aliens from other worlds mistaken for gods by earthlings. It's easy to envision a group of PCs mounting a major expedition to explore it, with plenty of adventures on the way and an encounter with strange creatures from the void at the end. Despite intriguing features like this, and further supplements like Eldarad, these non-Glorantha settings never caught on. For most gamers RuneQuest remained synonymous with Glorantha. And so the Chariot of the Gods remains a mystery waiting to be explored.

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