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Saturday, 4 January 2020

Jonstown Jottings #5: Early Family History

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?
Early Family History is a supplement for creating the backgrounds of mostly Sartarite characters in earlier time frames than given in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

It is a fourteen page, full colour, 1.71 MB PDF.

Early Family History is tidily presented in the same format as ‘Step 2: Family History’ (pages 27-43) of the Adventurers chapter of the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha core rulebook. It needs an edit in places.

Where is it set?
Early Family History focuses on events in and around Sartar with excursions to Esrolia, Pavis, and Tarsh.

Who do you play?
Any of the character options as per the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha core rule book.

What do you need?
RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

What do you get?
The rules in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha include a set of tables in the Adventurers chapter to create the family and personal background for characters who come of age in 1619 and enter play in 1625. This does not mean that characters from other periods of history cannot be created using the rules in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, but what it does mean is that characters created for those other periods will not enter play with the same degree of detail and family and personal history.

Early Family History addresses this issue by providing two sets of tables for creating the backgrounds and histories of player characters, their parents, and their grandparents. ‘Early Family History’, the first set of tables in Early Family History covers the period from 1565 to 1615, from the Orldaging War (1565-1577) to the Grazelander raids on Trash (1614). ‘Even Early Family History’, the second set of tables in Early Family History covers the period from 1538 to 1564, from the Axes Against the Empire and Destruction of the Temple (1538) to the Trollkiller War (1551-1561). Both sets of tables detail events at which the player characters and their immediate ancestors may have been presents as well as a range of possible outcomes and the benefits which might result from their participation.

The default period for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is 1625 and the beginning of the Hero Wars, but most of the supplements and scenarios published for previous editions are set earlier in the timeline, typically from 1615 onwards. The use of Early Family History enables a playing group to play using those supplements and scenarios—for example, Apple Lane, but also for many of the other titles published for RuneQuest II with characters who are as detailed in terms of background and history as the default characters are in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

In addition, the ‘Early Family History’ and ‘Even Early Family History’ tables enable a player to create a more experienced character with more than the base five years back story developed during the character creation process. Alternatively, the Game Master can use these tables to flesh out the backgrounds of her NPCs. Of the two tables, Early Family History’ is easier to use, whilst for ‘Even Early Family History’, the Game Master will need to calculate the birth dates for the player characters’ ancestors.

Is it worth your time?
Yes. If you are looking to create characters who enter play during an earlier period, have more history and are older before entering play, or develop more detailed backgrounds for the older NPCs in your campaign, then Early Family History is the supplement you need.
No. If you are not looking to create characters with more detailed background in the earlier periods of Glorantha’s timeline, then Early Family History will not be of use to you.
Maybe. Useful to have around to add colour and background to an older NPC at least, but not absolutely useful or a must have.

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