Monday, June 15, 2009

RuneQuest: When Last We Joined Our Intrepid Heroes...

The last game of RuneQuest I ran, last month, was in my opinion a step in the right direction. The players started coming into their own as characters, grasping the different Gloranthan themes like the Empire of Wyrm's Friends, the God Learner Empire, and furthering the overall plot related to the humble rogue of the Clanking City who has found that he is to bring about the world's destruction (The Destroyer). Also noteworthy was the first "in the flesh" appearance of The Interloper.

As the party adventured down river, they came upon the small city of Tinaros on Felster Lake. In Tinaros, they got into a tussle with some dock hands that were trying to exact tribute from our intrepid heroes. They investigated the city briefly, saw that a pageant for Sacred Time was being held in honor of the legendary Arkat, but they returned to the docks and recruited some of the thuggish dock hands to be essentially their pirate crew. Yarrr. (Yes, Jon was behind this piratey turn of events - all worship the Mighty Flying Spaghetti Monster...)

Making their way to Kustria, where the Destroyer was told he'd find out more about his heritage and where his path was taking him, they arrived in one piece, tussled with the Kustrian Longshoreman, shared some loot and looked into possible trouble to get themselves into while the Destroyer did his soul searching. Rather quickly they stumbled upon Mad Maud's Brass Horn inn, where the crazy proprietess added another bizarre NPC to the mix (who could forget a barkeep who had mice living in her hair). Staying there, they found that like much of what Glorantha (and all of RPG-dom) holds to offer, if you are an adventurer, hanging out in the common room of an inn will result in people searching you out for hire.

A Messenger of St. Beaud (a young street urchin in the Lampwick mould) brought news of the framing of a timinit (antman) monk for the murder of the abbot of the Arkat Cathedral. The party reached out to the antman, who runs the Rug Seller's Guild, and agreed to help clear the young monk's good name. They also caught wind of an evil gangleader named Ava who is in charge of a band of thugs called the Renunciators - rivals of the Vadrus Runners (who, coincidentally comprised part of the group of thugs that accosted the party at the docks).

After several days of searching, including a day the Destroyer spent at Church Row researching the Interloper and the tales of the Destroyer, the party had a run in with insane Ava and her gang. Ava, it seemed, had muttered more than a few words about The Interloper during her and her gang's attacks on the citizenry. While attacking her hideout, and completely decimating the gang (gotta love RuneQuest's vicious combat rules), the Interloper appeared out of a mirror in her hideout and assaulted the party. A vicious demon, he evaded many of their blows and managed to escape into the mirror before it was shattered in the midst of the combat. He revealed himself in one of his many guises - primarily, to make it known to The Destroyer that he was aware of his presence. The city guard appeared as all of this was occurring, and The Destroyer realized that Ava was aware of his true identity. Risking being revealed as "the Destroyer" and likely being sentenced to death for crimes he'd yet to commit, the Destroyer reluctantly killed Ava, and turning in her body for the bounty. Jon's pirate recruited the survivors of her gang to join their band of pirates, and paid the crew out of the booty in The Renunciators' hideout.

A thread that I thought was a little too tidy had the timinit monk actually framed by Ava's gang, and so his name was cleared in the process. Basically, I was working to have as many arrows pointing to Ava's hideout as possible, so that there'd be a run in between the Destroyer and the Interloper, and a potential unveiling of the Destroyer as the man he truly is (or will be). In a sense we got that, with the Destroyer's reluctant killing of another, furthering his story a little bit more, actually in the vein of Ben from Carnivale, without the player's having seen that program before.

After the game, I arranged for the RuneQuest Pirates, Glorantha: Blood of Orlanth, and another Runequest book or two to find their way to me just in time for Father's Day. ;) I wanted to add more to the game to help cater to the players' interests. There's only so much within the actual Glorantha sourcebook (lots of resources, especially about the small region of Safelster), but I wanted to create more of a sandbox for the game itself. Interestingly, I found out that part of the reason why one of our usual players didn't come to the last session is that he found the campaign to be too event-oriented instead of sandboxy. Something I'm trying to remedy. I felt the first couple of games had to help establish some landmarks, and hopefully now that the players "speak" Gloranthan a bit better, I can kind of leave them to their own devices, to find adventure where it suits them.

Any other DMs out there struggled with that issue in the past? The balance between keeping thigns moving, and keeping things open ended? I'd appreciate any advice.

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