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Friday, 5 June 2020

Jonstown Jottings #20: Heortlings of Sartar

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?
Heortlings of Sartar is a short supplment for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, part of the author’s ‘Monsters of the Month’ series.

It is a twenty-five page, full colour, 2.05 MB PDF.

Heortlings of Sartar is well presented and organised. It is not illustrated and needs a slight edit.

Where is it set?

Dragon Pass, specifically Sartar, but its contents can be used wherever Heortlings and Sartarites might be encountered.

Who do you play?

Heortlings of Sartar is primarily for the Game Master who will portray its very many NPCs.

What do you need?

RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

What do you get?
Stat blocks.

Forty-two of them.

One is issue with RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is the complexity of its stat blocks, especially in the time it takes to create them for NPCs. RuneQuest IIor RuneQuest Classic—solved this issue with a number of supplements such as Fangs, RuneQuest Source Pack Alpha: Trolls and Trollkin, RuneQuest Source Pack Beta: Creatures of Chaos 1: Scorpion Men and Broos, and RuneQuest Source Pack Gamma: Militia & MercenariesHeortlings of Sartar is essentially the equivalent of those supplements, but with a bit more context and written for use with RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

Heortlings of Sartar
provides the stats for the types of NPCs that the adventurers are likely to encounter throughout Sartar. 
They fall into four categoriesthe nobility, free folk, unfree folk, and outlaws. So the nobility includes the notables to be found in Sartarite villages and settlements, such as a Lhankor Mhy Lawspeaker, Priestess of Ernalda, Storm Voice, Thane, and Village Chieftain. The free folk covers Landholders, Merchants, Crafters, Militia Warriors, Healers, Herders, and so on, whilst the unfree folk gives stats for Stickpickers, Tenant Farmers, Thralls, and the like. Lastly, Bandits, Lunar Deserters, and Tricksters are listed under outlaws.

Each NPC is presented on its own page and clearly laid out, both for ease of reading and printing. Where NPCs have an allied spiritsuch as the Lhankor Mhy Lawspeaker the Priestess of Ernalda—these are given their own stat blocks, although this does mean that the pages for these NPCs are slightly more cramped in comparison to the other NPCs. Where the Player Characters might encounter more than one of a type of NPC, for example, the bandits or the Lunar deserters, they are given more generic stat blocks with four to a page. It should also be noted that none of these NPCs have every skill they might have listed, but rather just the ones which are pertinent to to their roles. This obviously cuts down on probable clutter and anyway, the supplement suggests standard values for the skills they do not have.

One notable omission from Heortlings of Sartar is the inclusion of stats for either a Clan Chief or a Tribal King. Again, this is by design since both should be unique individuals rather than simple stat blocks.

Although every NPC comes with a thumbnail description, they do feel underwritten in places, leaving the Game Master wanting a little more explanation. For example, the fact that there is a difference between the hunting styles of Odayla and Yinkin worshippers is mentioned, but not explained. In addition, the none of hunter characters have pets.

Lastly, for a supplement intended to be as utilitarian as it is, it is lacking one last, very useful featurea list of names. The inclusion of this would have made Heortlings of Sartar just that little bit easier and faster to use. 

Is it worth your time?
Yes. Heortlings of Sartar is as utilitarian a supplement as the Game Master might imagine, but utilitarian means useful and practical—and Heortlings of Sartar is certainly that. Perfect for when the Game Master needs the off-the-shelf stats for a local NPC.
No. Heortlings of Sartar will be of little use to you if your campaign is not set anywhere near Sartar or you like to create your own NPC stats.
Maybe. Heortlings and Sartarites get everywhere, so eventually the Player Characters might run into them, so then Heortlings of Sartar might be useful.

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