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Friday 29 November 2019

Jonstown Jottings #1: Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1

Much like the Miskatonic Repository for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, the  Jonstown Compendium is a curated platform for user-made content, but for material set in Greg Stafford's mythic universe of Glorantha. It enables creators to sell their own original content for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and HeroQuest Glorantha (Questworlds). This can include original scenarios, background material, cults, mythology, details of NPCs and monsters, and so on, but none of this content should be considered to be ‘canon’, but rather fall under ‘Your Glorantha Will Vary’. This means that there is still scope for the authors to create interesting and useful content that others can bring to their Glorantha-set campaigns.


What is it?
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is the first part of campaign set in Sun County in Prax. It includes background for a remote region of Sun County and a complete scenario, ‘No Country for Cold Men’ along with six pre-generated player characters. Besides a gazetteer of the region, there is a quartet of maps for use with the background and the scenario.

It is a thirty-nine page, full colour, 3.69 MB PDF.

In general, Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is well presented and decently written. It does need another edit and the artwork is a little rough, but the maps are excellent.

Where is it set?
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 takes place in Sun County, the small, isolated province of Yelmalio-worshipping farmers and soldiers located in the fertile River of Cradles valley of Eastern Prax, south of the city of Pavis, where it is beset by hostile nomads and surrounded by dry desert. Specifically it is set in and around the remote hamlet of Sandheart, where the inhabitants are used to dealing and even trading with the nomads who in the past have fought to gain worship access to ruins inside Sandheart’s walls.

Who do you play?
The player characters are members of the Sun County militia based in Sandheart. Used to dealing with nomads and outsiders and oddities and agitators, the local militia serves as the dumping ground for any militia member who proves too difficult to deal with by the often xenophobic, misogynistic, repressive, and strict culture of both Sun County and the Sun County militia. It also accepts nomads and outsiders, foreigners and non-Yemalions, not necessarily as regular militia-men, but as ‘specials’, better capable of dealing with said foreigners and non-Yemalions.

The six pre-generated characters include a banished Yelmalion noble, a local and  ambitious farmer’s son, and a Yelmalion tomboy whose ambitions are stifled by Sun County misogyny. Plus an Impala rider and scout who has lost his clan, a Lhankor Mhy Sage from Pavis County with a hatred of the Lunar Empire, and a mercenary, would-be Humakti from Esrolia.

Guidelines are given to create ‘quirky’ members of the Sun County militia in Sandheart. It includes character concepts, equipment, and a list of starting equipment and advises using the quick-start method of creating characters rather than the Family History method in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. (Primarily because the Family History method in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is not specific to Sun County.)

What do you need?
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 can be run using just 
RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha

Although not absolutely necessary, the Game Master may also find the supplements Sun CountyThe River Of CradlesPavis, and The Big Rubble to be of use in providing deeper background. Tales of the Reaching Moon Issue 14 and Tales of the Reaching Moon Issue 15 may also be of use for details about the fertility god, Ronance.

What do you get?
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 includes a description of Sandheart, a hamlet built around a series of plinths, remnant structures from Genert’s Garden. It details how the attitudes of the local inhabitants are different to those of the rest of Sun County and how that affects their dealings with outsiders and the rest of Sun County. Full details of the militia, its equipment, and its duties are given, along with its notable figures, the magic of the plinths, and ‘Beaky’, a highly inquisitive Wyter.

The scenario ‘No Country for Cold Men’ continues the penchant in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha for terrible puns and pits the militia men against a well-organised band of drug runners with links all the way back up the Zola Fel River to the city of New Pavis. The drug is hazia, a highly addictive contraband euphoric herb grown along the valley of the River of Cradles and sold to traffickers who can make great profits by selling to users and addicts. The discovery of several dead riding and pack animals leads to a ragged caravan whose members seem reluctant to deal with the militia. This reluctance will probably escalate into a direct confrontation and from this the player characters will learn about the drug trafficking in the county. Following up on the clues revealed by the encounter, the militia men will track back up the traffickers’ route into the county, likely uncovering signs of corruption in the county, and giving the militia men an opportunity to strike against the criminals acting in the county. This is despite the fact that as members of the Sandheart militia, the player characters are very likely operating well outside of their jurisdiction.

Is it worth your time?
Yes. If you are looking for an interesting set-up, the opportunity to run a scenario in a more organised and civilised setting with player characters who have the authority and the duty to act in Sun County’s best interests—despite their less than upright and morally upstanding reputations. Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is an opportunity to run and roleplay a campaign that is very different to other RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha scenarios. Hopefully, Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 2 will develop the story and the setting much further.

NoTales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is not worth your time if you are running a campaign or scenarios set elsewhere, especially in Sartar as per ‘The Broken Tower’ from the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – QuickStart Rules and Adventure or in in and around Apple Lane as detailed in the RuneQuest Gamemaster Screen PackTales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 would be a difficult scenario to add to such a campaign.

Maybe. One of the issues with scenarios set in Sun County is that the dominant Light-worshipping culture of the Yelmalions is… “[X]enophobic, misogynistic, repressive and strict…” Some players may find this unpalatable, but that said, Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is about roleplaying characters who are either from outside of that culture or at odds with it to one degree or another. This sets up some interesting roleplaying challenges, as the player characters get to be noble and heroic in upholding the best values of Sun County, but still chafing against its dictats and constraints.

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