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Monthly Archives: May 2015

GMing HeroQuest Glorantha – The Black Rock Clan, session 1

Concurrently with my other HeroQuest Glorantha campaign, I’ve started to run an adventure for a group of five players based in North America, also via Google Hangouts. We had already had a character creation session a few weeks before this session, which means everybody was ready when our game started.

A very important point, though, was that everyone agreed to play two-hour long sessions, as time zone not helping, it is morning in North America while it’s afternoon here in France, and short sessions would prevent blocking their full Sunday. This also means that I needed to revise the whole structure of my scenario and cut it into more engaging scenes that would feel like a short adventure for each. And as you’ll read below, every GM should also always be prepared to build on your players’ fantastic unexpected ideas.

The cast       

  • Tarak the Sly Skald, initiate of Issaries
  • Orlain the Novice Weaponthane, Initiate of Orlanth Adventurous
  • Flicker, the huntress, initiate of Vinga
  • Dubghall, the clan’s resident trickster, Initiate of Eurmal
  • Hindala, the compulsive shaman, Grazelander of the Golden Bow, initiate of Jardanroste Polestar

The characters are all part of the Black Rock clan from the Amad tribe, which is openly rebellious to the Lunar Empire, and the adventure starts at the beginning of the Fire season, in 1621 ST.

The story

Our heroes are on their way to Alda-chur, Sartar’s second biggest city, as their clan leader, Daradestra Swift Spear, a devotee of Vinga, entrusted them with a mission of critical importance: freeing the son of their tribe king who was kidnapped three months ago and held captive since then.

Three months ago, Garhinharl Shadowcat, king of the Amad tribe, waged war against Harvar Ironfist, the despotic ruler of Aldachur coalition, and the characters’ tribe lost. But the hardest blow came when Brolankhar, Garhinharl’s son, was captured by the tyrant’s army. The king tried to broker a wergild, willing to pay 200 cattle in exchange for his son, a King’s ransom.

However, Ironfist refused, preferring to keep the young man as a political prisoner. Travelling on horseback, our heroes decide to stop midway in a friendly tribe in order to obtain more information on how to enter an enemy city with Lunar sympathies. They then head to Fort Alone, a fortified town in the Tres tribe that serves as a central trading place.

As they don’t want to openly state the actual reason of the journey, Tarak the skald lies to the guards and pretends they’re going to Alda-chur for a poetry contest. The guards watching the fort gate start to be suspicious, as no member of the Amad tribe would go to an enemy city just for fame and glory. Fortunately, Dubghall the trickster manages to convince them that it’s actually a strategy to confuse the enemy.

Inside the fort, Tarak learns from another skald who has just travelled back from the city that Brolankhar isn’t actually chained in a jail, but kept as a “guest” in the great hall. Meanwhile, Orlain talks to Argyle, a local weaponthane, to check the overall mood. They become friend very quickly and he learns that Eulina, the beloved daughter of their clan leader, had also been kidnapped two years ago. And although the Amad tribe is eager to go back to war, the Tres tribe has lost all their will to fight.

Wishing to find out how the young man is faring, Hindala enters into a trance state and reaches the spirit world. She tries to project herself to Alda-chur, but she’s quickly blocked by spirits of the Sun and the Moon. However, the spirit of the Polestar, always shining in darkness, tells the shaman that Brolankhar, an initiate of Lhankor Mhy, has been biding his time in the main library, learning all he can about the enemy until he is liberated.

Then Hindala wakes up. At the same time, Dubghall manages to locate a group of local smugglers who gather around a very smelly area near the moat, outside the fort. He tries to lure them into revealing who could get him into Alda-chur unseen, pretending he has some shady business to do there. The gang of smugglers asks him for money and the trickster uses his Illusion rune, playing with their greed. He is tossed a tablet with some writing on it, and is told to give it to Uralh the Toothless, a local smuggler there. He will be found outside the walls of Alda-chur, at another very smelly place, where nobody would ever go.

When Dubghall comes back, Flicker notices that the smugglers are barging into the marketplace and point at the trickster, having obviously noticed that they got fooled. The huntress uses her Illusion rune to delay them by having them believe that all the carpets are flying about due to a violent gust of wind. Calling her companions, they all jump back to their horse and leave Fort Alone. The trickster is the last to get out of the place and he denounces the smugglers to the guards at the gate, who are eager to catch those thieves.

The session ends with our five heroes on a hill overseeing the city of Alda-chur.

The game

Thanks to my previous session with the European group and to the character generation session with this one, I felt I had a much better grasp on the basic rules, which will allow me to explore more specific points in the system in the upcoming games. I had originally planned to have my players arrive in Alda-chur at the beginning of this session, but the players’ idea to stop at Fort Alone was just fantastic. There, they could try out some of their character’s abilities and feel better prepared to undertake their mission.

Besides, the two-hour format we decided to use for this adventure gives me feeling that we can spend more time playing one big scene per session, something that I’m definitely not used to. This also forces me to avoid overseeing any detail that might matter and to offer some new interesting dynamics to all the games I run in general. Our next game is in two weeks, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters will bring about their mission.

To be continued…

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Posted by on May 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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GMing HeroQuest Glorantha – The Toena Clan, session 1

HeroQuest Glorantha - front cover. Copyright © 2015 Moon Design Publications - All Rights Reserved. Glorantha is a Trademark ® of Moon Design Publications

HeroQuest Glorantha – front cover.
Copyright © 2015 Moon Design Publications – All Rights Reserved.

It might have taken me several months to get to GM my first games of HeroQuest Glorantha, but I eventually managed to find two virtual tables on Google Hangouts. As a result, two campaigns have been started and set in 1621 ST, although both groups will play a different story. Out of convenience, I’ll call the first one the European group and the other one the North American group.

Yesterday’s game involved four players from the European group. Hopefully, our fifth will be able to join us for our next game.

The cast

  • Hegermast Sharp-Tongue, adventurous Orlanthi skald
  • Drake ap Quackford, haunted Humakti warrior, durulz
  • Therona, one-eyed Humakti huntress
  • Kestel the Frowning, cynical Humakti sellsword

The characters belong to the Toena clan from the Aranwyth tribe, which is openly rebellious to the Lunar Empire. Fort Toena, the tribe’s main stronghold, has been under siege for several weeks already, regularly attacked by regiments of Lunar soldiers and their allies, Sartarites from the Enstalos tribe.

The story

Today, however, the enemy is leading an all-out assault against the fort, and our heroes are on the battlefield when their story starts. Well-armored and well-armed, their opponents prove to be remarkable adversaries at the beginning of the battle. Drake the Duck runs straight to the captain of the Lunar regiment, as he wants to take him down and break the enemy’s morale. Hergermast, supported by his Air spirit ally, faces an antagonistic female Sartarite warrior, while Therona and Kestel oppose other Lunars.

At the beginning, only Drake and Therona prevail, whereas Hergermast and Kestel quickly realize that on such a battlefield, war isn’t always waged with pure strength, but with superior wits as well. However, Drake and Therona’s superlative show of mastery of the Death rune starts to make everyone feel that Humakt is on their side. Taking advantage of this situation, Kestel keeps taunting his opponent to distract him, while Hegermast, protected by his Air spirit, starts to chant songs praising Orlanth, the Lightbringers and Humakt.

The enemy’s morale is definitely on the wane, some of the Sartarite from the Enstalos tribe even surrender. However, the hardest blow comes when the Lunar captain’s soul is cleanly severed from his body by Drake, enveloped by the aura Humakt, with the form the durulz give him in their worship. The Toena clan is clearly victorious, when suddenly…

Silence deafens all the Sartarites on the battlefield. The sky goes dark, and the Red Moon glows darkly. The air is foul while the earth starts to die. Suddenly, a scream erupting from the fort breaks this moment of ghastly timelessness: “Orlanth is dead! Ernalda is dead! Whitewall has fallen!”

Tears start to flow on the face of the winners, while the vanquished enemy retreats victoriously, cheering. Using his Truth rune, Kestel understands that the world is dying around them, and something has to be done quickly if they want the clan, and the Kingdom of Sartar, to survive.

Therona, on her side, starts to see ghosts of fellow clan members recently killed on the battlefield, also mourning the passing of the gods. Then they look at her and warn her against the Foul Death that threatens the Earth Goddess’ journey to the Underworld. The huntress, who considers her ghost-seeing ability as a curse, doesn’t reveal what she’s just been told as she doesn’t want to be banished from the clan and lose the support of her fellow Humaktis.

They all walk back to the fort, where they are greeted by King Ilgalad Trollfriend himself. Their bravery is praised, even though joy is absent from his face. Understanding the importance of the situation, Drake the Duck swears an oath on the Truth rune that he shall undertake any quests necessary to find Orlanth and Ernalda in the Underworld to save the Toena Clan and the Kingdom of Sartar. The Truth, Death and Beast runes start to glow all around him, and impressed, King Ilgalad renews his oath of hospitality to the durulz.

Afterwards, Kestel the sellsword is given his compensation for his good services, but even though he doesn’t want to swear any oaths, he renews his contract with the clan to lend the King his sword again. Therona swears an oath as well, she won’t let the clan down.

Meanwhile, Hegermast the skald was trying to remember some myths revolving around heroic gods and the Underworld, and suddenly, words start to pour from his mouth as he goes on to recite the Dead Point myth. This is when they understand that Nontraya, the Undead Emperor, the Enemy of Life, is going to interfere with Ernalda’s journey to Hell.

At the same time, several priestesses of the Earth goddess enter the hall, devastated, with a broken statue of Ernalda, saying it broke itself from the inside, some dark energy oozing from the cracks. Our heroes understand the dire omen and decide to fix that situation by undertaking the Dead Point heroquest.

End of the first session.

The game

This first session started in media res during a final assault where the heroes were the defenders. And even though combat dominated two thirds of the game, such a long time devoted to physical conflicts helped everybody get the system correctly, and particularly to me, the GM. Fortunaly, one of the players who is familiar with the system brought in his invaluable help, which incredibly sped up the resolution of a lot of questions.

Being new to the HeroQuest system, I’ve still got to get all the ropes, which is never easy when you start a campaign with rules you don’t handle well. However, they sank in quickly, and I could also see that my players didn’t have a lot of difficulties with it. They quickly took advantage of the Hero Points, which turned the tide of the battle to their advantage.

Regarding the third part of the game, I felt it was important to show the players how tragic the fall of Whitewall was, but also its importance on all the Kingdom of Sartar. So even though they fought their own battle, far from the main event, that particular day had a dramatic impact on everybody.

Besides, knowing we would play with three Humaktis, plus an Orlanthi skald, I knew I had to find some Orphic myth in the Gloranthan lore to take advantage of this configuration. Without revealing too much, I’d say that the Dead Point myth is particularly appropriate here, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the path the characters will take.

All in all, it was a fantastic session that confirms what I thought from just reading the game: HeroQuest Glorantha is tremendously fun to run.

To be continued…

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Glorantha, GMing, RPG, RPGing

 

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