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Created On 3 November 2002
Last Updated On 26 December 2004
Copyright © 2002 Simon E. Phipp

Hero Wars Reviews  


This is where I review the Hero Wars and Hero Quest supplements. I have only recently begun buying role playing supplements again, I used to own all the RQ2 and RQ3 supplements but sold a lot of when I got married as my wife is quite opposed to my hobby. However, after several years of marriage, she has relented and lets me carry on with my "crazy hobby" as long as it doesn't interfere with her. She has even relented to the extent that I can go to Scotscon and even play HeroQuest, something that she would have been very, very opposed to a couple of years ago. Anyway, enough about my Babeester Gori other half, and back to the reviews. I am slowly building up my collection of Hero Wars supplements, buying one or two a month, and I will review each one when I have bought it. At some point, I will review the fanzines as well, such as Tradetalk, but that will only happen once I subscribe to them.

Looking at these reviews, they all seem to be very favourable and recommend buying the supplements. This is because we have not yet had a supplement that stinks, although I live in hope. It is no secret that I like Glorantha and that I like RuneQuest, so I will recommend anyone who likes Glorantha to support the Gloranthan community and buy the newest material. As there is unlikely to be any new RuneQuest material published, even in fanzine form, I would hope that people still playing or GMing RQ will buy the HW material so that they can convert it.
 
 

Issaries Inc Hero Wars Products


 

Hero Wars - Roleplaying in Glorantha
Publisher - Issaries Inc
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 18
Originality 18
General 15
Total 91
Recommended for Everyone

This is the main Hero Wars rulebook. It is a tiny little thing that proves that size isn't everything, although I personally prefer the larger supplements of yesteryear. This contains the core rules for the Hero Wars game that is the interim game bridging the gap between RuneQuest and HeroQuest. While I do not particularly like the Hero Wars system, preferring RuneQuest, there is a lot in the system that can be converted to RuneQuest, so it is very useful in that respect.

The book is well laid out and is very clear, although being small means that sometimes it seems cluttered. The illustrations are good but are let down by the incredibly corny descriptions. The book contains the basic rules for Hero Wars together with descriptions of Heortling and Lunar deities, some Malkioni sects and shamanic traditions, rules on Animist, Theistic, Sorcerous and Mystic magic and sketch rules on HeroQuesting and other advanced magic.

I am not going to go into the Hero Wars game system here, but there is enough new Gloranthan material, especially in descriptions of deities and their Feats, to keep an old RuneQuestor very happy. The Hero Wars system has a lot of innovations that can be converted to improve the RuneQuest experience. It also claims to be better at modelling Glorantha, something that I am not sure about, but we'll see.

Overall, if you want a flexible and fairly simple game system set in the best game world then Hero Wars is well worth a look. If you play RuneQuest and want information about those Gloranthan deities not previously published, then it is well worth a look. If you think that RQ2 was the best thing ever and that RQ3 was the spawn of the devil then Hero Wars is probably not for you. I would recommend anyone with an interest in Glorantha to start to buy the Hero Wars series, even if they are poky little things that pale into insignificance beside the larger format RQ books.


Narrator's Book - Game Mastering in the Hero Wars
Publisher - Issaries Inc
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 14
Originality 18
General 16
Total 88
Recommended for Narrators

This is the companion volume to Hero Wars and has taken me a long while to buy. However, now I have it I am glad that I made the effort. It is in the small book format of the other Issaries supplements, but is fairly well laid out with some good illustrations. It is easy to read and easy to understand.

This is a mixture of things, ranging from an article on how to narrate a HeroWars game to Hero Bands, rules on Relationships and rules on the Magical Planes and HeroQuests. If you are interested in HeroQuests in Hero Wars, this is the book to buy, however, because it has a sample HeroQuest and a series of scenarios culminating in another HeroQuest. These are reasonably good and could fill up a few game sessions enjoyably. The descriptions of the Planes and Ages are reasonable, but suffer from the new thinking that Planes are distinct and related to the method of worship, something that I do not agree with. The HeroQuest rules are fairly good too, but they could have been done better. From what I have been told about the new HeroQuest system, they are being done better, so that's OK then.

All in all, this is a reasonable supplement and anyone interested in Narrating a Hero Wars game should buy it as should anyone wanting to run or write a HeroQuest for Hero Wars.
 


Glorantha - Introduction to the Hero Wars

Publisher - Issaries Inc
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 10
Originality 14
General 14
Total 78
Recommended for Gloranthaphiles

Glorantha - Introduction to the Hero Wars is a game independent description of the world of Glorantha. It describes the acts of the gods before Time, the history after Time began and contains descriptions of all the major areas of Glorantha. This background is interesting and could be used to enrich a campaign, but because it is not game-specific it would need some work to describe in RQ or Hero Wars terms.

The book itself is in Trade format, so it is small and appears cramped at times. The illustrations are good with none of the corny descriptions that were in the Hero Wars book. The layout is, in my opinion, poor at times with boxed text split over two or three half pages and is often confusing to read. Once again, a larger format would probably have enabled each to be on a single page and would have made things clearer. I cannot fault the content, however, as each geographical or political entity is described with a history, description of the people and of the deities or religion. These are richer than anything we have had before, better than Genertela, Crucible of the Hero Wars and the descriptions in the Unfinished Works.

Overall, this is a very good book, full of detailed and interesting information about the world of Glorantha. If you are interested in the background of Glorantha then buy this. If you have campaigns set in Glorantha and need information then buy this.


Anaxial's Roster

Publisher - Issaries Inc
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 16
Originality 12
General 16
Total 84
Recommended for Games Masters / Narrators

Anaxial's Rooster is the next logical step from the Gateway Bestiary and the Gloranthan Bestiary. It is a bestiary for Hero Wars Glorantha and you would assume that you have seen it all before in the RQ bestiaries. You would, however, be wrong. Although there are a fair few creatures described that were also described in RQ supplements, there are many more that are new.

The book is in Trade format, but doesn't seem cramped in the same way as Glorantha - Introduction to the Hero Wars does. In fact, this sized book probably suits a bestiary more than anything else otherwise it would seem as though it was trying to pad out the space. The illustrations are normally good, but the Herd Man and Waertagi illustrations seem poor and nothing like previous illustrations of those creatures. The layout is also good with beasties grouped by type and with several creatures on a single page, otherworld creatures and mythological tales are in shaded boxes that are split properly across pages and are easy to read. This makes the book very clear where Glorantha - Introduction to the Hero Wars was muddled.

The creatures are arranged by type, supposedly where they lived on Anaxial's Ark or among similar types of creature, together with monsters and other world creatures. Each creature is briefly described, with a history if relevant, and the stats are included with typical skills. This is where Hero Wars wins over RuneQuest because a creature's statistics can be written down in a couple of lines. The creatures described are a mixed bunch, often with no apparent reason - do we really need 5 types of Alynx, 6 types of dog or 12 types of horse? Where this excels, however, is that it describes otherworld or heroic creatures, something that has been shied away from previously. So, we have stats for spirit creatures, daimons, Gonn Orta and a True Dragon. There are a few oddities, what we used to know as elementals are now from the sorcerous plane and are only available to sorcerers, with animists and theists having different servants from the elements, a needless complication in my opinion.

Overall, this is a good book, full of detail and useful if you are running a campaign. Even if you do not run Hero Wars, this is useful as you can convert the creatures back to RuneQuest or to other systems fairly easily. I would thoroughly recommend buying this.
 


Thunder Rebels

Publisher - Issaries Inc
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 18
Originality 16
General 18
Total 92
Recommended for Everyone

Thunder Rebels is the first player's book for Orlanthi Barbarians. It is in Issaries' standard trade format and is well laid out, being easy to read and peppered with black and white illustrations. It contains all the necessary information to be able to play a character from an Orlanthi background. A few of the ideas have been seen before, but this brings all the ideas together in the same place.

The book describes how people live in the Orlanthi culture. It contains a history of Heortland, descriptions of the Orlanthi lifestyle, clan and tribal structures, descriptions of the hearths and longhouses, new rules on worship, new occupations, cult descriptions, descriptions of the Storm Age on the God Plane, a Holy Day Calendar and the cults of Orlanth and Ernalda with a number of subcults. Basically, this allows you to play an Orlanthi character or to run an Orlanthi campaign. It is rules heavy, which is a good thing, and is a full game supplement. These are things that we should have had ten years ago, to allow us to run Orlanthi characters properly, and it is a disgrace that these ideas have only just appeared.

From a Hero Wars point of view, this is an excellent supplement as it contains all that you need to run an Orlanthi character. From a RuneQuest point of view, this is an excellent supplement as it is easy to convert the Hero Wars cults into RuneQuest and also contains enough non-rules information that gives a template of how to run Orlanthi characters.

I would recommend this to anyone who plays in Glorantha and it shows that Issaries are serious about chronicling the world of Glorantha and in particular the Orlanthi barbarians.


Storm Tribe - The Cults of Sartar

Publisher - Issaries Inc
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 20
Originality 15
General 19
Total 94
Recommended for Everyone

Storm Tribe is, as it says in the title, the Cults of Sartar. It is a trade format which is well laid out and full of the illustrations that we have now come to expect from Issaries supplements. Obviously, they have learned from the pig's ear that was Glorantha - Introduction to the Hero Wars as all the later supplements have been far better laid out. It is easy to read and is uncluttered, with commentaries and side-boxes set out clearly so they do not intrude on the text itself.

Storm Tribe contains a Holy Day calendar, new rules for worship, a new level of worship, rules for Divine Companions (Allied Spirits from RuneQuest) and descriptions of the Cults that are found amongst the Orlanthi of Sartar. The main cults are described, those of Chalana Arroy, Elmal, Eurmal, Heler, Humakt, Issaries, Lhankor Mhy, Odayla, Urox, Vinga and Yinkin, together with their many subcults and the cults of minor deities. Each main cult is given a long cult format with mythos, cult description, levels of worship, cult politics and a great many subcults. It seems that the major cults in Glorantha have a great deal of their powers devolved to subcults of the main cult. This can be a little confusing, but is probably playable. These cults are truly excellent, well described, clear and containing myths, skills, feats and cult beliefs. Anyone wanting to run an Orlanthi character of running an Orlanthi campaign will find these indispensable.

Once again, from both Hero Wars and Rune Quest points of view, this is an excellent supplement, containing cults that are so easily converted to RuneQuest that it barely seems necessary to try. This is the kind of supplement that puts Cults of Prax and Cults of Terror in the shade, and that is truly saying something.

I cannot recommend this supplement highly enough. If this is what we are going to get from Issaries in the future, I can see that Glorantha will carry on for a long time yet, in both its Hero Wars and RuneQuest incarnations. Buy it and buy another as a spare.
 



 

Sartar Rising - Barbarian Adventures

Publisher - Issaries Inc
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 20
Originality 19
General 19
Total 97
Recommended for Narrators

This is the first of the scenario packs for Sartar. It is good, especially from a company not particularly into producing scenario packs.

Sartar Rising contains an overview of the tribes of Sartar and their political allegiances, something we have never seen before. It also has Narrator Resources, containing a mixture of HeroBands and groups of NPCs, and four series of Cameos. I have never been too keen on cameos, as I like more detail in scenarios, however, my views have changed somewhat. These cameos are truly excellent and are the strongest part of the book. They contain scenario hooks, mini-scenarios and enough campaign ideas to last for a couple of months, not taking into accounts the stuff that will automatically flow from these in actual play.

The Player Resources has a new way of displaying a leader in a single, half-page format - the Leader Sheet. This is designed to be easy to use, visual and simple. However, I found it difficult to interpret, complicated and difficult to use. I had to go back to the description of the format several times to make sense of the Leaders, so I would never use them in this format. A text-based sheet would be far easier to understand. Perhaps some people will rave about it and think it is the best thing since sliced bread, but I am certainly not one of them.

Overall, this is a very good scenario pack. Any Narrator should buy it and run the scenarios into the ground, then their players should buy it for the background material. I would thoroughly recommend it.
 



 

Sartar Rising - Orlanth is Dead

Publisher - Issaries Inc
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 14
Originality 18
General 15
Total 87
Recommended for Narrators

Orlanth is Dead is the second in the Sartar Rising series of supplements based in the land of Sartar and chronicling the start of the Hero Wars, those events that take place before the events of the Dragon Pass game and detailed in the King of Sartar book. It is in A4 format and is well laid out with good illustrations throughout. It is clear and easy to read.

Orlanth is Dead gives us a couple of Timelines, one is the life of Kallyr Starbrow (1586-1622) and the other covers the Sartar Campaign, the start of the Hero Wars (1613-1625), and gives a couple of hints of things to come. It also gives us descriptions and stats for the rebel leaders, rules on resolving battles in Hero Wars, new Hero Bands, a number of scenarios and the Battle of Iceland.

The timelines are very interesting, as they contain juicy snippets of information that can be linked with King of Sartar and other supplements. It also extends the current timeline by a few years, which will be useful for anyone running a historical campaign. The rebel leaders are described in a sketch format and their stats are given in the horrendous Leaders format which I find incredibly difficult to read. There is an article on Heortling Warfare with descriptions on tactics and Hero Wars rules on resolving battles. These are interesting and may well be useful. Several military units are described and these are quite nice Hero Bands and could be used in any campaign. There is a clan generation article that gives a questionnaire that leads to a clan description, this is all very well but I can't see the benefits - this is something the Narrator should have pre-generated beforehand. The Orlanth is Dead scenario sequence is fairly good, taking us from the fall of Whitewall to just before the Battle of Iceland, however, it is very sketchy and a little confusing as to where each scenario starts and stops. It does contain several inserts telling of the events as they are seen elsewhere and these are incredibly useful. Finally, the Battle of Iceland is described. This is an epic battle in several stages based in the phallic Auroch Hills (look at the map). This is epic in the same way that the Cradle Scenario was epic, but it falls short and does not seem to grab at you. However, it does have divine opponents, battle scenes, heroic actions and tells us how Kallyr's Lightbringer Quest ends up, which are all good things. I reckon this would be a good scenario for both Hero Wars and RuneQuest.

Overall, this is disappointing, not in what it contains but in the fact that it is very narrow in scope, dealing with only one event. However, having said that, the same could apply to the Cradle Scenario which was excellent, so this is perhaps not a particularly apt criticism. I felt cheated in a way as I was expecting something far better. Perhaps my expectations are too high. Even so, I would recommend this for anyone playing Hero Wars or RuneQuest in Sartar, especially anyone who wants to start the Hero Wars.



 

Sartar Rising - Gathering Thunder

Publisher - Issaries Inc
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 20
Originality 20
General 18
Total 98
Recommended for Narrators

Gathering Thunder is the third in the Sartar Rising series and covers the events after the Battle of Iceland. It contains four reasonable scenarios, although these scenarios are fairly generic and do not really need to be run as part of the Sartar Rising campaign. The fifth scenario is of the scale of the Cradle scenario. It concerns Kally's Shipraising HeroQuest, or rather her using the Shipraising to reach a dragon. The scenario is pretty impressive, with cosmic beings moving around and attacking each other like something from the Godzilla films. Some might say that the scenario is too epic in nature and the PCs will feel left out, but I disagree. There are plenty of places where the PCs can make a difference and make their presence felt. After all, I doubt if PCs could alter an undertaking such as the Shipraising, unless they were extremely powerful, clever or lucky.

There are also several short sections that are worth mentioning. We have a subcult of Orlanth Adventurous, a couple of Hero Bands, a couple of clan descriptions, a HeroQuest and some rules on creating your own HeroBand Guardian. These add extra depth to the scenarios and are worth having without the scenarios.

All in all, this is a well-designed book with some good scenarios. It could have expanded the Timeline a little and could have shown us what Argrath was doing at the same time, but it doesn't. The scenarios don't really gel together and seem to be fairly generic Orlanthi scenarios lumped together. However, the most important question - "Is it worth buying" - begs the answer "Yes, of course".



 

Imperial Lunar Handbook Volume I - The Lunar Empire

Publisher - Issaries Inc and Steve Jackson Games
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 15
Originality 18
General 19
Total 92

Recommended for Everyone

The Imperial Lunar Handbook Volume I - The Lunar Empire (ILH1) is the long overdue description of the Lunar Empire. It describes the Empire's Sultanates and Provinces in a similar way to Glorantha - Genertela, but is far more detailed. It also describes the people of each region and gives a rough guide to the cults worshipped in each region. These cults are very basic and are not detailed enough for use, apart from one detailed cult per section. ILH2 is promised to be the cults issue, so perhaps they will be detailed there.

The rules are for HeroQuest and so contain some things that are not explained in HeroWars, such as Common Magic. This is a bit confusing, especially to someone with only a rudimentary grasp of HW rules.

There are a couple of HeroBands and a new structure - the Association. This is displayed graphically and textually and looks an interesting way of presenting a Solar structure, if it wasn't so complicated. Perhaps I am getting slow in my old age, but it seemed very confusing. Perhaps I am missing the point and it is really very clear.

ILH1 is very well laid out, with good, clear pages, excellent artwork and maps and is a nice size. Hopefully the new association with Steve Jackson Games means that we don't have any more teeny weeny books.

This is worth buying for anyone interested in Narrating in the Lunar Empire. It is not of great use for players, except as general background material. Had it been more detailed, it would have been more useful. However, it is fairly inexpensive, so anyone interested in Glorantha should buy it.


HeroQuest - Roleplaying in Glorantha

Publisher - Issaries Inc and Steve Jackson Games
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 19
Originality 18
General 18
Total 95

Recommended for Everyone

This is the latest roleplaying game to be set in Glorantha. It is the successor to HeroWars and could be said to be HW 2.0.

The book is very thick, 288 pages long, and is nicely laid out, being very clear, easy to read with table of contents, index and glossary of terms. It is far better laid out than the Hero Wars books ever were and this can only be a good thing. The front cover looks as though it is for a Superhero Roleplaying game rather than a Gloranthan one.

The rules are quite extensive, more so than Hero Wars and RuneQuest, and are quite clear and well organized. Character creation takes up 40 pages, including Homelands for Bison People, Dara Happa, Esrolia, Esvular, Grazer, Heortling, Puma People, Seshnela, Tarsh and Teshnos. There are extensive rules for contests, relationships, magic and HeroQuesting. There is a short bestiary, a sample HeroQuest, four sample adventures and three samples Hero Bands. All in all, it is quite good.

The Magic Section is very detailed, with rules for several types of magic. For old Gloranthaphiles, it is useful because it describes a number of cults with spells and skills - the staples of RuneQuest. There are rules for concentrating magic which don't really work, according to these rules, someone who worships the Common Church of the Seven Mothers can become a Devotee of Yanafal Tarnils and must lose his other Seven Mother talents and charms, for instance. These sections describe cults, animist traditions and Wizardry Churches, Orders and Schools which are very useful as sketches. However, they also describe the Divine Realms, Spirit World and Essence Planes as entirely distinct and separate areas with different rules and properties, something which I can't really accept. The rules talk about men who have souls, spirits and essences, making things complex for complexity's sake.

The HeroQuesting Section is vastly improved from HeroWars HeroQuesting. It describes the form of HeroQuests, how to run a HeroQuest, how to play a HeroQuest and what HeroQuests are for. It also describes the types of HeroQuest and the probable results of HeroQuests. It does get bogged down in Alien Worlds and the difference between the Gods War, Hero Plane and the God World, Spirit World and Essence Planes. There are some interesting ideas here.

The bestiary covers fairly standard creatures, so we have Aldryami, dragonewts, ducks, mostali, nymphs, trolls and so on. Mundane creatures are covered as well as magical creatures, daimones, essences and spirits. These are interesting, but once again the split between Divine, Essence and Spirit adds complexity for no other reason than to make things complex.

The Introduction to Glorantha section contains a potted mythical history and a potted history of the Three Ages. It introduces the idea of the Three Worlds "Although no one knew it, three separate worlds existed (or had the potential to exist), each blissful and perfect on its own. Then the Gods War erupted, a cosmic conflict that created the modern world of Glorantha." This is, of course, a load of old tosh. The Gods War is described as a result of the Three Worlds colliding and intersecting. Once again, this is a load of old tosh. There is a description of the major areas of Glorantha and a five page description of Dragon Pass, including a reprint of the Dragon Pass map from the RQ2 rulebook, a welcome friend.

There are four good scenarios, with interesting plots, well-described encounters, examples of play and good resolutions. There are even sample NPCs with sketch stats. These scenarios are better than the normal sample scenarios in rulebooks. Finally, there are sample Hero Bands which are OK, but not fantastic. There is an extensive glossary and a set of tables and game aids, including character creation synopsis, rules synopsis, hero improvement costs and sample resistance's. These bring to mind the tables in the middle of the RQ2 rulebook and I think they would be very useful to Narrators and Heroes.

Overall, the HeroQuest system looks quite good, very detailed but with many examples of play. It looks as though it would be an exciting game to play, quick and free flowing. However, it has its flaws. Firstly, one of its selling points over RuneQuest is that RQ combat is slow and HQ combat is quick, however from my brief experience playing and watching games over the internet, I think that working out the different augments takes far longer than normal RQ combat. Perhaps when a campaign starts, these augments are standardized and rolling is a last faster. Secondly, there is the concept of the Three Planes being distinct and separate, with beings split into Daimones/Gods, Spirits and Essences/Saints. I think that this is bad for Glorantha. The original myths had gods and spirits interacting with no references to divine/spirit/essence and I don't see the need to introduce this artificiality.

Would I recommend it? Of course I would. Is it a replacement for RuneQuest? Of course it isn't. However, there's a lot of material that can be converted to RQ. Will I play HeroQuest? Of course I will, at conventions. Maybe I will get to prefer it to RQ, or maybe not.
 


Hero's Book - Playing HeroQuest

Publisher - Issaries Inc and Steve Jackson Games
Score

Gloranthan Content 15
Availability 20
Usability 14
Originality 16
General 14
Total 79

Recommended for Heroes/Narrators

This is designed to make it easier to play the Hero Quest game. It contains tips on how to play the game, ranging from not speaking in rules-speak, not back-chatting the Narrator (always a good thing to advise) to shaping the story as the players advance their characters. This is generally quite god, but got on my nerves a bit. There is a section on how to make up a hero which is pretty good as it describes how to describe the hero, how to set ability scores and everything else you need. There is also a section on resolving contests which is useful as it gives examples and walks you through the process in greater detail than the HeroQuest rules do. The Magic Section describes theists but doesn't touch on animism or sorcery, which is good enough for me. There are also sections on the Lunars and Heortlings, giving examples of hero-generation with sample Hero Bands and sample Heroes (Noble Lunar Army Officer, Brutal Shargasi Warrior, Inquisitive Lunar Scholar, Earnest Lunar Missionary, Nit-Picking Bureaucrat, Silent Provincial Hunter, Adventurous Weaponthane, Grim Death-Wielder,  Fast-Talking Merchant, Knowledgeable Lawspeaker, High-Spirited Warrior-Woman and Calm Village Healer - make up your own minds about what these samples convey to you). There is a sample character sheet and a Character Creation Synopsis which is actually quite useful.

I am not sure about the Hero's Book. The idea is to make the rules more accessible and to make character generation easier. Does it work? Yes, I think it does. Do we need it? I don't know, an experienced Narrator/GM would be able to create characters very easily without it, a beginning Narrator might not be able to.
 
 


Dragon Pass - A Gazetteer of Kerofinela

Publisher - Issaries Inc and Steve Jackson Games
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 17
Originality 18
General 20
Total 95

Recommended for Everyone

When I first saw that this was coming out, I thought "Not another Dragon Pass supplement", after all, we have had Tarsh in Flames, In Wintertop's Shadow and the Sartar Rising series, did we need another supplement for Dragon Pass. Well, the answer was YES and this is it. What can I say about this supplement, apart from giving it praise?

Dragon Pass is exactly what it says on the cover, it is a Gazetteer of Kerofinela. In other words, it describes many different places in Dragon Pass, normally in a couple of paragraphs, so has no great detail, but what it does have is breadth. And a map. Or should I say, what a map! The map is the best thing about it, A3 in size, a full colour map from the borders of the Grazelands to the borders of Prax and from the southern tip of the Shadow Plateau to Too Far, this is the most detailed map of the area that I have ever seen. You could set scenario after scenario just with the map alone.

The book contains a bit of description about Dragon Pass as a whole, a bit of history covering the Godtime, First and Second Ages and the settling of Dragon Pass in little over a page. The rest of the book consists of description of all the areas detailed on the superb map, together with map references to make them easier to find. These descriptions range from a couple of sentences to a whole page and are a mixture of history, mythology and information about the places. All of the descriptions, with the exception of the rivers, are game independent and could be used with Hero Wars, RuneQuest or any other game you could imagine and contain so many scenario ideas that you could run a campaign just from the descriptions in this book. Most of the descriptions are of new villages, monuments, ruins, places or sacred sites and contain much new material. This is a joy for anyone interested in the Dragon Pass area or anyone wanting to set a campaign in Dragon Pass.

The book is laid out very clearly in two column text on each A4 page, liberally sprinkled with maps, illustrations and diagrams. It is very easy to read and to understand. The front cover has an illustration of Harrek and Gunda the Guilty fighting Jar-Eel and a Lunar magician, presumably in Summer, considering the amount of bare flesh on display. There is a glossary and an index, and all the entries are in alphabetical order, making things ridiculously easy to find.

There is only one criticism that I could make for the whole book and that is to do with how it treats the main rivers of Dragon Pass. As I said previously, this is pretty much game independent, except for the rivers. It describes the Creek, the Stream and the River in terms of Hero Quest game mechanics, that of Spirit, Essence and Divine from the three Worlds. Why? Two of the rivers are brothers, so why is one Spirit and one Divine? In fact, why make the distinction at all? We never had the distinction previously, why suddenly introduce it together with spurious game effects for those who drink it (theists being forgetful when near the Creek, for instance, I've never heard anything so ridiculous before.) One large area about the Hero Quest rules that I do not like is the artificial split between the three Planes and the resulting world effects. It is something I do not accept and something which actively detracts from my wonder and awe of the new Glorantha. Still, if you just say that water is water is water and forget about this silly distraction then Dragon Pass has no flaws.

I would happily recommend this to anyone who has an interest in the area. It is as good as King of Sartar or the RuneQuest Companion and has more information about Dragon Pass than we have ever had before. Now, if only we had the same for the Holy Country, Prax and the Lunar Empire then we could play in the most interesting areas of Glorantha to our hearts content.

Buy it and buy it quickly.


Masters of Luck and Death

Publisher - Issaries Inc and Steve Jackson Games
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 16
Originality 19
General 18
Total 93

Recommended for Narrators/GMs

No, this is not the long-awaited (even longer than for HeroQuest) third area of the Dragon Pass/White Bear&Red Moon/Nomad Gods game, even though the title is the same. Instead it is a description of 27 new Hero Bands of various types. In case anyone is not sure of the term, a Hero Band is a group of people bound together by a mystical force headed by a Guardian. It is essentially a magical band of people and seems to be more fundamental to Hero Quest than any other organisation. Reading between the lines, I can see that all Temples, for instance, could be written up as individual Hero Bands with the Temple Guardian being the Hero Band Guardian and providing some benefits to the members of the Temple. However I digress.

Masters of Luck and Death is an A4 booklet, well laid out with two column text and illustrations throughout. It is clear and easy to read, with an index and table of contents for easy navigation. It upholds the quality we have come to expect of the new Gloranthan material.

Inside the Hero Bands are split into 5 campaign types, assuming that people play in a specific campaign style throughout the campaign. This is a bit unrealistic in my view but might help some new players settle in. Each campaign type has a description of how to play in the campaign together with a few cameo suggestions that are a bit generic and simplistic "You discover that a member of your hero band has a secret love affair with a member of the opposing camp. What do you do?" and "An allied hero band wants your support for a dangerous quest. Will you aid them" - Ho hum, we could have thought of most of these in about ten seconds, I reckon, but they might be helpful for people who have never Narrated before.

The Hero Bands themselves are arranged across two pages, with a description, resources, organisation and guardian described. Some have subcults described where they are associated with larger organisations. There are no stats for the members of the band, but the leaders and main personalities are sketched out. These could be useful for setting adventures, adding extra colour to a campaign or as scenario hooks. Each guardian has three functions described, all of which could be useful in a RuneQuest or Hero Quest setting. The Hero Bands are interesting and give ideas about how they could be used in a campaign. However, unless the Heroes want to be members of a Hero Band, I can't see how they could be particularly useful except as opponents, cannon fodder or extras in a campaign.

Overall, this is quite good, not particularly my cup of tea, but still OK. Would I recommend buying it? Yes, if you want some extra colour for your campaign. Would your campaign suffer from not buying it? Not really. It's good for the cults, though, and for ideas about Hero Bands.
 



 

Men of the Sea (Sailor Heroes of Glorantha)

Publisher - Issaries Inc and Steve Jackson Games
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 18
Originality 17
General 18
Total 93

Recommended for Narrators/GMs

Men of the Sea is the latest Gloranthan HeroQuest supplement and quite nice it is, too. It is a standard sized book and has a colourful front cover. Inside, it details new rules for sailors, ships and sailing on the seas of Glorantha, Much of this has been covered in other publicatoins, sailing rules in RQ3 and the islands and seas in one of the unfinished works, which one I can't recall. However, it is done n a style that fits in with nthe rest of the HeroQuest rules.

As with most of the sourcebooks these days, it has several subject areas. There is an overview, a History, some Cults, some Homelands, Keywords, some sample ships and so on. The History is a potted one, not going into a lot of detail and not bringing us anything new, although it does clarify some of the things that we have been told before, for instance the Firebergs are better described. It touches on the disappearance and return of the Boat Planet, but does not give any examples of what changes this makes on Glorantha, which is a shame.

The Keywords are fairly generic, as HeroQuest Keywords tend to be, and only cover Fisherman, Marine, Silor and Ship's Officer, with a few variations. They are OK, but nothing special. Common Magic for sailors is described and has some interesting abilities. In Life of a Sailor, we are told what sailors do (raising masts, hoisting anchors, keeping watch, maintaining the ship and the long stretches of boredom whre nothing happens - frigging in the rigging, anyone?) as if we didn't know this already, unless the reader has not seen a film about sailors, lives a thousand miles from the sea and has never opened a book before then they might need this. It also tells us that salors can be a bit boisterous when in port and gives some examples of the laws at sea. I am not sure how useful these are as most people will have their own ideas about such things.

There are sections on how to create your own ship, what skills your crew should have, typical abilities for ships, using ships as followers and giving ships their own character sheets. These are very useful and are, perhaps, the best part of the book. There are only a few types of ship included as examples, which is a bit of a shame considering that RQ3 had many more examples and these could have been very easily converted, although there are more examples in the Homelands section.. The idea of ships being followers or guardians and the crew being a Heroband is a very good one, as is the idea of giving each port or settlement a character sheet of its own. Similarly, ports and cities can be given their own characteristics which is a very nice idea. In HeroQuest, this can be done very easily and seems to flow nicely.

The prime sailor cult, Dormal, is made into a Common Magic cult and also a Wizrdly School offering most of the same abilities, which does tend to lessen his importance, in my opinion, but all ships who act as guardians have an extra function of Open Seas at 13, which is a handy touch. There are eight Homelands described, each with a Keyword, a sample ship type, a Common Religion and a sepcialised religion. These are reasonably good, but nothing stands out as anything special. If anything they tend to dilute the package as they spread themselves too far, in my opinion. Who is going to play a sailor of Haragala or Maslo, for instance, when it is unlikely that anything else will be published on their cultures (I hope)?

A Year In The Life of a Sailor is useful from a Narrator's point of view, as it shows how the seasons affect sailing. There are sections on sailing, propulsion methods and navigation which, to me, are complete wastes of space - I don't care that sailors need to know that sailing into a head wind pushes the boat down as that level of detail is meaningless in HeroQuest - "did he make his Seamanship or not?" is the meaningful question. It almost smacks of someone showing off his knowledge of sailing rather than useful pieces of information.

There are rules given about using ships in contests and the typical contests that they could be found in. These are useful as they give examples of the rules in action. However, I would have liked sample resistances to have been made clearer so that I could more easily decide what a typical sea fog resists at, for instance. There is a description of all the major seas and oceans of Glorantha which is interesting in its way but doesn't tell us a lot more than we already knew about seas that we would travel in and tells us far too much about seas where we wouldn't normally go. There are two examples of ship's comp[anies that are interesting and show how players can set up a ship's company. The Shearwater guardian of the Seabird Army requires that crewmembers wear "tight white pants and conspicuously dark shirts or jerkins adorned with feathers while on board" - Hello Sailor!

All in all, this is worth buying if you are planning to set or play in a game that uses sailors and sea travel. It gives enough rules to allow you to play sailors and ships in HeroQuest. It also contains enough other material to keep any Gloranthan ]fan happy. However, if you are not planning to have anything to do wit the seas and don't have an abiding interest in Glorantha then it probably isn't worth buying, but there again why would you want to?
 



 

Unspoken Word Products

  Uz - The Trolls of Glorantha

Publisher - Issaries Inc/Unspoken Word
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 18
Originality 13
General 17
Total 88
Recommended for Games Masters / Narrators

This is a supplement by Unspoken Word and Issaries Inc. It is the Hero Wars version of the trolls of Glorantha. Unlike the core games books, this is in an A4 format and is more like the familiar Gloranthan supplements, although it does resemble a fanzine rather than a supplement. The layout is clear and uncluttered, although I didn't like the font used, I would have preferred something a little tighter. The illustrations are good, although these are your happy trolls and wouldn't frighten children as they are all smiling and cute. The map of Dagori Inkarth is the best I have ever seen, very clear with the major tribes marked on.

This supplement is split into logical chapters, with troll history, descriptions of the types of troll, distributions of troll kind, troll society and how to play a troll character, troll traditions and deities, a minor HeroQuest and a description of Trollball. A lot of this is similar to the Troll Pack material, but that is to be expected - the history and culture will be the same for all systems. The traditions and deities are interesting, for they reveal new information about the troll deities and methods of worship. The Kyger Litor cult is there but is not described, instead the traditions are given as those of her children, so ancestor worship is gained through Korasting, combat through Karrg, insects through Kropa and so on. There are fewer deities described than in the Troll Pack or Troll Gods supplements, but there are also descriptions of deities here for the first time, for instance Gadblad and Kogag. Dagori Inkarth is quickly described as are a few troll friends and foes. The Running the Ridges HeroQuest is given a short description and can be used as an extra part of the Sandals of Darkness Quest. Trollball is described, but loses some of its appeal under Hero Wars, being simply an extended group contest between the two teams. Some teams are described, each with a Play Trollball skill, so that people with no imagination can use a simple contest to resolve the result. This was better in RuneQuest.

If you want to play or use trolls in Hero Wars then you have to buy this supplement. If you use trolls in RuneQuest then this supplement will be useful, especially if you don't have Trollpak or Troll Gods. Trolls are the best non human race in Glorantha, so buy it anyway, you know it makes sense.


In Wintertop's Shadow

Publisher - Unspoken Word
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 19
Originality 20
General 18
Total 97
Recommended for Everyone

This describes the people of the Tarsh Exiles who live around Wintertop in Dragon Pass. It is an A4 booklet which is well laid out, very clear and very easy to read. The illustrations are excellent with a map of Wintertop that is clear and informative. The supplement follows the normal structure, with a history of the Exiles, description of the area around Wintertop, sketch descriptions of the Exile Clans and character generation, the deities of the Exiles, What My Father Told Me and a number of scenarios including a Hero Quest. It finishes with a Clan Generation which seems a long-winded way of generating Old Tarsh Loyalty and Wealth attitudes.

The history is interesting as are the descriptions of the Exiles and their way of life. The description of the area around Wintertop is useful as it is almost all new material and would add colour to any Dragon Pass campaign. Anyone wanting to interact with the peoples of the Exiles would find the tribe descriptions useful. The deities of the Exiles are also useful and interesting as they describe deities not mentioned previously, including the Gor family, Asella and Torkal, worshipped by miners and their wives, the Shaker Twins, and other Heroes. These are excellent candidates for conversion to RuneQuest. Finally, the scenarios are long and of a high quality. The HeroQuest "King for a Day" is excellent and gives local flavour.

If you want to know anything about the Exiles and their lands, then buy this book. If you have a campaign set in Dragon Pass then buy this book, whether the campaign is Hero Wars or RuneQuest. If you want to see some of the deities of Dragon Pass then buy this book.


Wintertop Fair

Publisher - Unspoken Word
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 19
Originality 20
General 15
Total 94
Recommended for Anyone GMing/Narrating in Tarsh

This is the companion volume to In Wintertop's Shadow, but definitely stays in Wintertop's shadow. Other people who I have spoken to said they liked it, so perhaps I was reading the wrong supplement.

Wintertop Fair is basically a single scenario split into several sections. There is a short HeroQuest included for show. The scenario is very detailed, including lots of statistics for NPCs, but is very one-dimensional, in my opinion. It would have been better to cut it down to a long cameo, perhaps with accompanying stats, and then include other related cameos. As it is, the scenario is good as far as it goes, but struggles to fill a complete supplement. Compared with Gathering Thunder, for instance, it pales into second place.

If you have a campaign set in Tarsh and want a scenario to run for a session or two then by all means go out and buy this. If you need it for your collection then go out and buy it. Otherwise, think long and hard as to whether you need it. I bought it and was disappointed, and I am not often disappointed by Gloranthan products.

On the other hand, I am pleased because I can write a bad review for once, proving that I don't rubber-stamp anything Gloranthan.


Tarsh in Flames (UW1 Reprint)

Publisher - Unspoken Word
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 19
Originality 20
General 18
Total 97
Recommended for Everyone

The first Unspoken Word sold out within 3 months, apparently, and has recently been reprinted. Looking at it, this will sell out again quite quickly, so buy it as soon as you can.

As the title suggests, this is a sourcebook concerning the kingdom of Tarsh in northern Dragon Pass. As such it is very good indeed. Taken with In Wintertop's Shadow, the two give as much information about Tarsh and the Exiles that you will probably need.

The book is A4 in size with good artwork, clear layout and an excellent map on the back cover. It has all the things that you would expect from a sourcebook, including a history, important places, tribe and clan descriptions, cult membership, scenario cameos and a cult of Maran Gor. It also has descriptions of the towns of Furthest, Copper Town Talfort and the Red Dog Mansione. The regiments of Tarsh are detailed with regiment sizes, patron deity and a quick description. This will be useful for anyone setting a campaign in or near Tarsh and also for those using Tarsh regiments in Dragon Pass or Prax. There is some interesting fiction, NPC sketches and more.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in playing or Narrating in Tarsh or to anyone interested in Glorantha. It contains enough things that are completely new to hold the interest of anyone.


The Thieves' Arm

Publisher - Unspoken Word
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 19
Originality 20
General 19
Total 98
Recommended for Everyone

This is a supplement exploring the outlaws and renegades of Dragon Pass. It is A4 in size, well laid out with clear fonts and illustrations and maps for most articles. It describes The Bush Range, with a nice map, and a number of Herobands, scenarios and heroquests. The Herobands are of outlaws, bandits, thieves and other assorted low lives. They are useful both as adversaries and as allies. The scenarios and heroquests are good, if a little short on details, most are extended cameos in nature, a format that suits HeroQuest.

This is definitely worth buying if you are planning to run an outlaw or thief campaign or if you want more information about Furthest and its bandits.


Sons of Kargzant

Publisher - Unspoken Word
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 20
Originality 20
General 19
Total 90
Recommended for anyone with an interest in the Char-Un or the Lunar Empire

Sons of Kargzant covers the Char Un of distant Erigia in the north of the Lunar Empire. It is an A4 booklet with many illustrations, it is easy to read and is well laid out. It covers the history of the Char-Un, their important personalities, religion, military, Homeland information and more. There is a map and Gazetteer of Erigia that are worth the cover price alone. It is also nice to see the Gord-Un (or Gor-Dun) getting a mention in Erigia. The religions of the Char-Un are detailed and read very nicely indeed. The only criticism I might have is that the Char-Un are so distant that they are likely to only be met as NPCs, so why the need for such a level of detail? Fortunately, many of the Keywords and Traditions can be adapted to be used for the Pentians or the Grazelanders, being cousins of the Char-Un.

So, all in all, this is a very good and impressive supplement. It is well written and interesting. However, it is set in a very remote and unusual place, so it will be of limited interest. I bought it and was pleased with it, so I would recommend adding it to your collection if you want it to be complete.



 

Pavis and Big Rubble Companion

 


Ye Book of Tentacles 3 (The Pavis and Big Rubble Companion: Volume I)

Publisher - Tentacle Press
Score

Gloranthan Content 19
Availability 20
Usability 18
Originality 17
General 15
Total 89
Recommended for Everyone who likes Prax and Pavis

This was written as a fundraiser for Tentacles 2000 and contains the first of the Pavis and Big Rubble Companions. It also contains some stories, a couple of Dara Happan articles, an Ernaldan Initiation and some things for Call of Cthulhu and Hawkmoon. It is A4 in size and nicely laid out, being easy on the eyes and full of illustrations.

The stories are nicely written, the Innsmouth article is well thought out, I didn't understand the Creators of Life as I don't follow CoC, I liked the Hawkmoon scenario and story. Was that a bit brusque? Well, I am not particularly interested in Roleplaying outside RQ/HQ/Glorantha and don't try to hide the fact. It always irritates me that Tradetalk things often have a non-Gloranthan component.

The Dara Happan articles are useful if you have a setting around Alkoth. The Ernaldan Initiation is also interesting, but a little limited. The P&BR Companion is, however, very good. It contains various cults, writeups of places in the Big Rubble, Herobands and various people. All the articles are strong and well written. This is a worthy companion to the Pavis and Big Rubble supplement and should interest anyone who is running a Pavis Campaign.



 

The Masks of Pavis (The Pavis and Big Rubble Companion: Volume II)

Publisher - Tentacle Press
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 18
Originality 17
General 16
Total 91
Recommended for Everyone who likes Prax and Pavis

The Masks of Pavis is the second in the Pavis and Big Rubble Companions and aims to give more background about the city of Pavis. It is in A4 format and is well laid out and quite clear. The font makes it a little difficult to read at times and the use of shaded boxes does not help at all, nor does the use of text in the page side-bars. The illustrations are good and capture the essence of Pavis quite nicely.

This is a companion to Pavis and, as with all of Ian's works, does a god job. It contains a mixture of material, some having appeared elsewhere and some original. It describes the areas and important points of the Big Rubble, cults of Pavis, Hero Wars character Keywords, six (yes six - 6!) full length scenarios, the Masks of Pavis and extra information on things such as the Tin Inn and dwarfish weapons. These are generally good, as would be expected. The scenarios are in Hero Wars format and some of the stats have RQ versions, but some don't. It would be better to keep these in Hero Wars format and have the RQ versions available on Ian's website. I haven't gone through the scenarios in fine detail, but they seem very strong and some involve vampires so they must be good.

If you want a strong, detailed scenario pack for Pavis then this is it. It contains as many scenarios as the Big Rubble pack and has so many scenario opportunities that this supplement alone could be used for a year-long gaming campaign. It also has descriptions and background that is very clear and easy to understand.

I would recommend anyone who likes Pavis and the Big Rubble to buy this. Funnily enough, when I first read it, I wasn't particularly impressed, which is the reason why I only write these reviews after reading the supplements two or three times - I'm glad I did this for Masks of Pavis.



 

The Legacy of Pavis (The Pavis and Big Rubble Companion: Volume III)

Publisher - Tentacle Press
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 20
Originality 20
General 17
Total 97
Recommended for Everyone who likes Prax and Pavis

The Legacy of Pavis is a supplement by Ian Thomson, who is continuing his crusade to explore the city of Pavis and surrounding areas. It is in A4 format and looks like a cross between a fanzine and a supplement. It is well laid out and has many illustrations of varying quality. The font is a little difficult on the eyes but nowhere as difficult as that used in Uz. This is touted as a Companion to Pavis and the Big Rubble, and it is exactly that, containing scenarios that hark back to the good old days of RuneQuest rather than the namby pamby Hero Wars scenarios, these are full of blood and guts, new characters and new experiences.

The Legacy of Pavis is definitely in the Hero Wars camp, although there are stats for a few RuneQuest NPCs in some of the scenarios. This need not be a problem for RuneQuest players as the cults are easy to convert and the scenario NPCs are fairly standard and can be used almost without stats. It contains a mixture of cults, descriptions of clans, political groupings, Hero Bands and societies and three scenarios. This is actually better than the Big Rubble or Pavis packs, as it contains more background information. The scenarios deserve another mention as they are so good. The Knowledge Temple description is also excellent - if I had seen this when I was running my campaign, then Brankist would have been one of the Sword Sages of the temple.

Overall, this is an excellent supplement and is worth buying if you are planning to run a campaign in the Big Rubble or want to know more about that area. If you have no wish to campaign there and have no interest in the area then it is probably still worth buying as it in a very good supplement.


The Shadows of Pavis (The Pavis and Big Rubble Companion: Volume IV)

Publisher - Tentacle Press
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 20
Originality 20
General 18
Total 98
Recommended for Everyone who likes Prax and Pavis

This is the fourth of the Pavis and Big Rubble Companions by Ian Thomson and friends. It is a standard A4 sized book in a clearly similar style to the other P&BR Companions, well laid out and liberally scattered with illustrations and maps. It moves the earlier campaign on to a close, with scenarios allowing the PCs to unite  various factions of Pavis. It is definitely in a Heroic vein and is a worthy conclusion to the series.

Shadows of Pavis contains a number of scenarios allowing the PCs to gain several powerful ritual items of Pavis and bash some chaos, there are also descriptions of the troll clans, Pavic Donandari and The Old City Magicians and descriptions of several of the places in the Big Rubble. If you are running a Pavis Campaign then this is another essential book as it gives enough background to be able to use immediately and enough scenarios to last for a while. There is an interesting article on running a HeroQuest which would be useful in play. There is a Griselda story, if you like that sort of thing, which I should probably read sometime, and various odds and ends including some nice maps, especially the map of the Big Rubble which is small but perfectly formed. Guillermo and Mariano from Path of the Damned, have a cartoon which is funny.

All in all, this is a good, strong supplement, adding to the wealth of Pavic lore that is around. The material here can be used as the starting point of a Pavic campaign and can also be slotted into an existing campaign. The series keeps getting better and better, it is a shame that this is the penultimate issue.


Beyond Pavis (The Pavis and Big Rubble Companion: Volume V)

Publisher - Tentacle Press
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 20
Originality 18
General 19
Total 97
Recommended for Everyone who likes Prax and Pavis

Ian Thomson keeps on doing it, again and again. This is the fifth, and best, of the Pavis and Big Rubble Companions. Why is it the best? Because it goes outside Pavis and looks at Prax. Why isn't it the Borderlands Companion? That is a good question, but it does run on from the Pavis Companions.

It looks like the other books, being A4 in size with illustrations throughout. Also, they have sorted out the font (hooray) and made the text ten times clearer than that in the other Companions. In fact, this looks really nice and is very easy to read. The illustrations are good and there are some very nice maps, especially the map of Pavis County which fills the area out quite nicely. The book is split into three parts - Pavis County, Along the River and Borderlands and can be used as a companion to the River of Cradles and Borderlands supplements from way back when. Guillermo and Mariano's cartoon is good, as ever, and made me laugh, which is what it is for. From a personal point of view, I have two articles in this and neither made it to the Table of Contents, being tucked away in the middle of the book, so I suppose I am one of the Friends who wrote it. Having said that, it will not affect my comments either way - I've received my complementary issue and they have no more hold over me :-)

Pavis County contains descriptions of the inhabitants in Homeland format, a very nice map with loads of extra detail, a gazetteer that describes all the main points on the map, a description of an oasis and a few Herobands from Pavis County. I defy anyone to read these and not think of scenario hooks. It also contains the cult of Uleria in Pavis, a description of the elves of the Big Rubble and the Unicorn Quest of the Yelornans. The cult of Uleria is an amusing read and has the picture of Uleria meditating cross-legged from Path of the Damned, which is how everyone should see a Uleria temple. The cult itself is a bit wishy washy, in my opinion, confusing mysticism with vagueness. I feel that this is a mistake and the Ulerians should be thought of as Theists with a mystical bent. However, it could be used in a campaign pretty much unchanged, being a minor cult, albeit with a major role in Pavis. The Elves of the Garden is also a bit odd as it has the elves as tree-hugging creatures, listening to the Song of the Forest, following Paul Honigmann's ideas, something that I don't feel comfortable with - Elves are descendants of Grandfather Mortal and should be more like humans than the other Aldryami. That aside, the description of the elves of the Garden is interesting and can be used as the base of several scenarios.

Along the River contains an article about the newtlings of the Zola Fel with a few cults and Herobands, the morocanth of the Zola Fel (which makes sense having them as mud loving in a similar manner to hippos) and a description of Horn Gate and Ronegarth. The newtling writeup is annoying in that it keeps on referring to the Tradetalk 11 article on newtlings rather then standing on its own. The way that they combine Spirit Cults and Herobands is interesting, but I would have made them Helper Practices. The morocanth article is interesting and has a lot of nice information, although the picure of the Herd Men (or Gern as it annoyingly refers to) gives them monkey-like features whereas I prefer them to be more like the humans in the original Planet of the Apes film - clearly human but with no intelligence. Horn Gate is well described with many scenario ideas but Ronegarth is very sketchy - it would have been better leaving this as part of the Borderlands supplement.

Borderlands contains a nice map of the Weis Grantlands, a description of nomad contests, several scenario outlines and scenarios, sketch descriptions of Weis Cut and a Ruin, stats for various Borderlands encounters, some tales and an article on dwarf drinks. Some of these are hit and miss. The scenarios are generally good, the map is very nice, the stats are useful but Weis Cut is sketchy, I couldn't see the pointof the Ruin and why have HW rules for the nomad contests but no reference point for when to use them? The dwarf drinks article almost reads as "Look at use, we are dwarves, we are just as interesting as trolls, we even have these hoopy drinks, aren;t they fun?" Well, no. Dwarves are boring. they are dull, that's their whole point. They drink to lubricate their parts and different types of drinks lubricate different parts of the dwarf. Still, it is an amusing article if you like dwarves.

Having said all this and criticised more than I have done before, I must say that this is by far the best of the P&BR Companions. It is exciting and new, it links Pavis and Big Rubble with Borderlands and moves along quite nicely. If you like Pavis and Prax then you will like this. Perhaps it is the first of the Borderlands Companions, but I doubt it. In any case, buy it if you can, I would have even before I got my complementary copy, but my local games store had not received them when I went in.
 

Rough Guide to Pavis City

Publisher - Tentacle Press
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 15
Originality 20
General 15
Total 90
Recommended for Everyone who really likes Prax and Pavis

This is a bit unusual as it is a description of Pavis, not Pavis now bu Pavis as it was in 894 ST, 730 years ago, when Pavis was at its height. It is an A4 sized booklet and looks and feels like a fanzine. It has nice illustrations and a few maps of Pavis way back when. Overall, it is interesting in that it shows what was in Pavis in its heyday. It covers all the areas of Pavis, describing each District individually, giving the location of many of the old buildings of Pavis on a detailed map. There is also a short history of Pavis which contains a lot of new material and a description of selected places in Prax.

All of this is very interesting to anyone who likes Pavis, but is not of much use in an actual campaign setting. However, it can be used as general background material, particularly when trying to locate the ruined buildings in the Big Rubble. Reading the descriptions of the buildings allows scenario ideas to just pop up. So, if you want a book on the history of Pavis or a reference book telling you where the old buildings used to be then this is the book for you. If you want a book telling you about Pavis as it is now and giving cults and scenarios then this will disappoint you.



 

Other Products


 

Moon Rites

Publisher - The Chaos Society
Score

Gloranthan Content 20
Availability 20
Usability 18
Originality 20
General 18
Total 96
Recommended for Narrators and players interested in the Lunar Empire

This is a fundraiser for Gloranthacon VIII and is the first volume in a presumably Lunar series. Looking at it and at Tarsh in Flames, I have a suspicion that the Chaos Society and the Unspoken Word are collaborating and producing supplements that look excellent, well laid out and easy to read. Long may they continue to do so.

The illustrations are excellent throughout, the front and back cover are particularly good. Those folks at the Glorantha 3D Yahoo Group are clearly improving the quality of Gloranthan artwork. It is well laid out, easy to read and understand, apart from a single "Continued on Page ..." which can probably be forgiven. It only contains one small map, which is a shame as all of these supplements should contain new maps detailing different areas in great detail, but never mind.

As an unofficial fundraiser, this contains a fair mixture of articles, some useful and some interesting. Greg Stafford provides some fiction which concentrates on the individual rather than the histories or politics, which is a nice change. There are descriptions of new areas, myths and legends, new and old cult write-ups, several Hero Bands, NPC write-ups and more. We see more of Oliver Bernuetz' Cora, with new stories and a cult writeup which I particularly liked. The Ice Fair of Yolp is a scenario involving trolls and Lunars, always an interesting combination, and is a pretty good scenario with the chance of spinning loads of things from it. All the articles are good, although I didn't much care for Encounter with a Dilettante which didn't appeal to me personally.

All in all, this is a good supplement with a great deal of interesting material. It doesn't tell us much about wider Glorantha and doesn't tell us any secrets (apart from more information on Pavis' ancestry). However, it does describe different areas well and gives detail on some Hero Bands and organisations which will prove invaluable to some Narrators.
 


The Widow's Tale

Publisher - The Chaos Society
Score

Gloranthan Content 17
Availability 20
Usability 13
Originality 17
General 12
Total 79

Recommended for hardened Gloranthaphiles

This is the first Gloranthan Novel, although it is a Glorantha that I do not particularly recognize and certainly would not play in. It was written in 1994 and has a RuneQuest flavour, but not a particularly strong one. It does not have the incredible complexity of the new Sartarite Pantheon, and let's be grateful for that.

The Widow's Tale is the story of two men - Darlath-Lar, Yanafal Tarnils Rune Lord and commander of Lunar troops in Sartar and Talloran Snake-Eyes, Orlanthi Wind Lord and commander of a rag-tag bunch of Sartarite Rebels - and leads up to their eventual meeting in the mountains.

The novel is very slow to begin with, with laborious battle scenes, clumsy descriptions of cults and gods and characters I could not engage with. However, about half way through it picked up and was quite enjoyable. Some things I could not square with my knowledge or experience of Glorantha in general and Sartar in particular - the descriptions of the Wyvern and Unicorn were quite at odds with anything I had seen (they were too powerful and were described as if nobody knew what they were); spells were incredibly rare to use and did not fit with the idea that magic is all-pervasive in Glorantha. However, some people might want that kind of Glorantha.

All in all, this is a fairly enjoyable novel, I certainly didn't regret buying it. Would I recommend it to someone who likes Glorantha? Yes. certainly. Would I recommend it to someone who likes Fantasy Fiction? Probably. Would I recommend it to someone who wasn't a big fan of either Glorantha or Fantasy Fiction? Probably not. And that is the main problem, it doesn't engage as well as perhaps something from the Thieves' World novels might, for instance. That is a shame, because Glorantha is a world which has such a good background and history that I can't see why novels can't be written to show how exciting and interesting it can be.
 
 


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