Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Shadow of Pavis

So have I finally joined the ranks of Gloranthaphiles who have fought their way out of the Big Rubble. Last Wednesday, a day that had sucked from when I got out of bed, ended well with our brave adventurers escaping with their lives, and nothing much more.

Way back when RuneQuest was the game of choice for gloranthan gaming, everyone were gaming in the plains of Prax and in the city of Pavis. Far later everyone shifted their focus to Dragon Pass, but latecomers like me never got to experience Prax. Now I have at least addressed that.

There was a time when whatever somebody posted about on Big Purple, the recommendation was to use Savage Worlds instead. The darling before that had been The Shadow of Yesterday. I have the former, but have never played it. The latter I had become very curious about, due to the above mentioned recommendations. Now we had a setting and a system, we all just waited for the lovechild of that union.

After character generation, we started off in media res, but not in the midst of the adventure. After the adventure, having a drink and retelling our adventure!

We had a very peculiar setup. Our GM knew little of Glorantha, the other player nothing, and I know far too many odd little details thanks to my extensive collection. How do that work, do you ask? Well, you just set up a dramatic and appropriate scene based on general knowledge, and when an NPC asks "Tell me more of how that happened!", you as a player with more setting knowledge can step in and add to the background. It was an interesting way to involve the players. There's often talk about player skill, and I found that having the GM set up a tight spot and then as a player have free reins to develop that situation, both by solving the immediate problem and by fleshing out the setting, was an interesting usage of just player skill.

Our brave adventurers was on an expedition into the Big Rubble, which is a dungeon which can contain anything. We ran into some weird plantmen, i.e. elves, which scared us witless. Exchange of gifts according to some ancient agreement with the Pavis cult took place, as we invented that ritual on the spot. After being amazed by a levitating rock, chewed some narcotic leaves and stolen our gift from the elves, our thief managed to loose it in a cesspit. The local occupation force did not detain us, since we had after all our troubles no treasures to tax.

I think the lessons of this session was how a backward narrative with a swapping of tall tales in an inn worked quite fine to set up short and challenging set pieces for us both to solve and embellish. It was a good way to develop both the setting, story and characters without heavy prep, massive reading assignment on the setting and a nice way to keep the session contained and restrained both in time and space. Really good for a one shot.

We didn't exercise the game system that much, but The Shadow of Yesterday didn't get in the way, and the possibility to tailor the abilities you get XP for was interesting. I might write more on the game system at a later time.


  1. I'd like to know more of the system. :)

  2. "...when an NPC asks "Tell me more of how that happened!", you as a player with more setting knowledge can step in and add to the background. It was an interesting way to involve the players."

    I agree. I played in a WFRP 2nd ed campaign about six years back. The DM wasn't as familiar with the setting as most of the players and we found that the method you describe worked rather well.

  3. It sure is a winner. I really felt like sharing the technique, since it worked so well!

  4. That game does sound interesting. I've been getting into Glorantha for the first time in the past few months and it is really engaging.


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