Thursday, 26 April 2012

Welcome to Balazar







 Had a few new people turn up in my Griffin Mountain game recently and I realise I need a very quick intro to the setting and the rules.  

The Short Version

Stone age wilderness with Mycenaean outposts, plus Roman/Hindu – esque conquerors, Celto/Saxon – ish exiles and lots of spaced out shamen with weird tats. Long walks in the (sandbox) country meeting sabretooth tigers, trolls and dinosaurs. And ducks.

The Longer Version

The game is set in a backwoodsy corner of the world of Glorantha where the locals (you) are at a stone age level of technology. A few hundred years back a great hero, Balazar, invaded with a bunch of bronze age hoplites and built towns out of stone connected by roads. He went off to fight in the Dragonkill War, leaving his three sons in charge, and their descendants have been fighting each other ever since.

The Kings of the three vaguely Mycenaean citadels have groups of stone age tribes following them, but having a couple of dozen guys with bronze spears and few nags for light cavalry does not mean they have an easy ride of it. Controlling a population who can up sticks and hide in another part of the vast and trackless forest and prairie is almost impossible.

There is a back to this beyond, the Elder Wilds, an even more wild and woolly place inhabited by Trolls, Elves, Giants and a whole bunch of other dangerous critters, not least the Griffins.

The outside world is intruding. The Gloranthan equivalent to the Romans, the Lunar Empire, has invaded Elkoi, one of the three citadels, and are building a temple to their Red Moon goddess. A group of refugees (the Lunars say criminals and terrorists) from Dragon Pass have arrived in Trilus, the second citadel. And lurking in the background are the non-humans, the Dwarves, Elves and Trolls who once ruled this land, and might do again.

At the moment the party are followers of the King of Trilus, a heroic and charismatic hunter called Yalaring, who had traded in his flint spear for a crown. Follow him faithfully and promote his authority and you will be rewarded with real bronze weapons. The citadel has had a tough time of it of late though, and Yalaring might be hankering for the simple but harsh routine of the hunters life.
 
 The D&Ders version

Forget classes, forget XP points and forget alignment. Under the Legend rules, as with any BRP derived game, anyone can theoretically do anything. Your PC will start with a tribal background, a job (Hunter, Shaman, Warrior, Bard, Witch, Herder (if you live in a town)) and will have a mix of skills and a bunch of minor spells on top. If you want to get good at something then specialise, and get in with a local religion, they will give you access to all kinds of improved magic and special abilities.

Forget the 'generic fantasy' stereotypes for the various creatures as well. Gloranthan Dwarves, Elves and Trolls have their own quirks, and be ready for anything and everything to be intelligent and to have the equivalent of the old 3.5 'character levels', even the trees.

What kind of adventures do we do?

There are no dungeons, there is instead the Wilds, forests full of bickering tribesmen close to home but with ever more dangerous beasties the further away you get. Adventures so far have included fighting Trolls, werebears and zombies, settling tribal wars by ritual wrestling matches, finding abandoned cave-temples inhabited by weird and vile chaos monsters, traversing an elf-wood where the spirits have gone mad and the trees hate you, being chased by trollkin riding giant blowflies and rescuing ducks from the rotting interior of a dead bronotsaur, discovering ancient mysteries, fighting in a full scale battle, kidnap, murder, police work and becoming sporting heroes.

This is a sandbox, you can do whatever you like and go wherever you want, but don't expect bloody great signs saying 'dungeon here' and nor should you expect unambiguous 'baddies'. It is possible to make it to be a King or the greatest Shaman in the land, but it won't be easy.