Publisher - Moon Design
Recommended for Everyone
This is part of a series of republications of archaic RQ products, this particular supplement covers the RQ2 Cults of Prax, Cults of Terror and the cults from Trollpak. It also has some of the cults that appeared in the White Wolf magazine and various articles from Wyrms Footnotes. The Cult Compendium is definitely an RQ2 product and is none the worse for that. It begins with an essay on the history of Glorantha, then has a description of the old core runes, sketch rules for Spirit and Divine cults and finally the cult write-ups themselves. There is a list of skills, battle magic, rune spells and a cult compatibility chart that is better than any that have appeared before. The artwork is excellent, using some pictures from the original works and some new pictures, these are excellent, especially if you liked the artwork of Luise Perrin, and help to illustrate the cults.
Even though this is an unashamed reprint, it comes at the right time, in my opinion. Even though RuneQuest is a dead game, we all know that it is very popular with its fans. Many of the original supplements are out of print and unavailable, and the new HeroQuest/Hero Wars supplements do not fill the gap for RuneQuestors, so this book will fill the gap that existed in the knowledge of the cults of Glorantha. It is extremely usable as it contains full write-ups of all the main Gloranthan cults. If you have PCs or NPCs from most of central Genertela you will instantly be able to use this book to flesh them out. If we had had supplements of this size and completeness in the heady days of RuneQuest then RQ would probably not have died.
Having said that, there are severe deficiencies in the book, although these were clearly highlighted well in advance and were built in to the remit. In fact, the introduction explains very clearly why these omissions were made. Having said that, it must be mentioned that this supplement ignores the changes made for RQ3 to the extent that only a few RQ3 cults are shown. All the examples are for RQ2, including Rune Lords, Priests with increased POW gain rolls, the Divine Intervention spell and so on. In the cases where there are RQ3 versions of the cults, these have been largely ignored, this is especially true for Waha, Eiritha, Thanatar and Orlanth where the RQ3 versions in Tales of the Reaching Moon, River of Cradles and Shadows on the Borderlands are far better than the RQ2 version. Also missing are the spirit cults described in Lords of Terror and the Praxian issues of Tales of the Reaching Moon. These omissions are serious as they cover the evolution of the cults and the expansion of the cults to the minor deities. However, I can see why they were ignored. The Cult Compendium is a very large book, at over 350 pages, and to include the spirit cults would probably have added 20 or more pages. The RQ3 versions would have involved some rewriting of the rules for cults and would have meant a mixed supplement of RQ2 and RQ3 rules. Also, there may have been problems with the copyright as these were owned by Avalon Hill.
All in all, this is a truly excellent product, even though it took over two months to reach me. If you have lost or sold the original RQ2 supplements, this is well worth buying. If you are new to RQ and want a book that contains the main cults of Glorantha, this is well worth buying. If you GM in Gloranthan RuneQuest then this is well worth buying. I would heartily recommend buying this supplement both to support the RuneQuest community and also as an invaluable addition to the RuneQuest bookshelf.
Finally, Rick Meints is planning to produce the final publication in
the Gloranthan Classics series - a combination of Borderlands and Plunder,
with the Rune Masters rune levels. This is an excellent idea as Plunder
was a useful magic item book, Borderlands is still the best Praxian scenario
pack and Rune Masters, for all its many faults, is still a good source
of medium to high level statistics. If Rick can include the Praxian material
from Tales of the Reaching Moon and River of Cradles then this will be
a truly excellent publication.
Gloranthan Classics Volume II - Griffin Mountain
Publisher - Moon Design
Recommended for Everyone
This is the second of the reprints by Rick Meintz and jolly good it is too. Anyone long in the tooth will know that Griffin Mountain was probably the best RQ2 campaign supplement produced. It has been out of print for a long time and was reworked as Griffin Island which seemed to lose the point by changing the setting and making it generic non-Gloranthan. This reprint redresses that and has produced an even better piece of work than the original.
Griffin Mountain contains all that was in the original supplement together with a fair amount from Griffin Island. The Histories, Timeline and Personalities are unchanged, the Clans section is vastly improved and the Citadels section is also better and clearer than in the original. The cults section is improved and the Scenarios are better and contain the Griffin Island Medicine Bundles which are excellent.
For those who have never seen Griffin Mountain or Griffin Island, Griffin Mountain gives pretty all that is needed for playing RQ in Balazar and the Elder Wilds. It covers player generation, politics, cults, encounters, geography, scenarios, treasures and all that is god about RQ. It is easy to read, well laid out, clear and detailed. It has good artwork and presentation. There are a few typos, probably caused by the scanning of the original, and could have done with a god proof-reading before it was printed, but these things happen.
What is surprising are the things that have been left out. There is no large map, which was one of the selling points of the original, so some of the rules about movement using hexes are meaningless as the small maps are not hex based. The Cacodemon cult has been changed to include False Form and Fiends, from Elder Secrets, but my favourite spell ever, Vomit Acid, has been left out. Griffin Island had the Awaken Hawk spell, which would have been a good subcult spell for Yelmalio in Dykene. The stats for Blueface are in RQ2 format, whereas the RQ3 stats were far better and more powerful.
Overall, this is a fantastic reprint, well worth having for anyone interested in playing or GMing in Balazar. If you've never had it, then buy it. If you've had it and sold it then buy it again. If you've still got the originals then but it anyway as it is still very good.
When buying this, if you are based in the UK, then I would advise buying
through a games store or Tradetalk rather than sending a cheque to Rick
Meintz directly. This is simply because he has moved back to the States
and there is a very long wait before the goods will reach you in the UK.
This makes it very easy for things to get lost in the post, as has happened
to me. This is no reflection on Rick, as things get lost in the post or
are not redirected when people move, but it is probably safer to use a