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Monday 24 January 2022

Jonstown Jottings #52: Underwater Quest

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 Glorantha13th Age 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?

GLORANTHA: Underwater Quest is a scenario for use with RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

It is a four page, full colour, 1.45 MB PDF.

The layout is clean and tidy. It is art free, but the cartography is excellent.

Where is it set?

GLORANTHA: Underwater Quest is set in the swampy area area in southern Dragon Pass, near the sea, between the city of Nochet and the ruins of Lylket. Unless the scenario begins en media res, the events which lead into the scenario take place in Sartar. Ideally this should be near the Delecti Marsh.

Who do you play?
Player Characters of all types could play this scenario, but a worshipper or priest of Heler or other Water god might be useful.

What do you need?
GLORANTHA: Underwater Quest requires RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and The Gateway Bestiary.

What do you get?
GLORANTHA: Underwater Quest details a partially flooded complex consisting of several rooms, five of which are detailed. Here hidden behind a quadruple-locked door can be found Daliath’s Well of Wisdom, a source of his sacred water. The complex is inhabited by several randomly selected water-themed monsters, including Deep Ones, Kelpies, Shark-Men, and Water-Leapers. Notably, the Deep Ones are at odds with the Shark-Men, but that is the only real dynamic element in the complex.

The reason why the Player Characters are searching for the Well of Daliath is because several undead spies have unmasked at the various tribal courts of Sartar, each magically disguised in a way never seen before. Although they were defeated, they had done untold underhand and disruptive deeds. It is suspected that Delecti, the Necromancer at the heart of the Upland Marsh, is behind these attempts, and the tribes fear his spies may even have gone as far as impersonating kings and chieftains. If someone can find the Well of Daliath and drink its waters, they will gain the wisdom sufficient to be able to identify these spies.

As with other titles from this author, GLORANTHA: Underwater Quest is all about the destination. The background is flexible in terms of timeframe, but is underdeveloped with little explanation as to what the Well of Deliath is, what its waters do, and what Orlanth did within the Well. The complex itself is anything other than interesting and does not offer anything beyond combat challenges. This is not to say that there not an interesting story or scenario in the all too few pages of GLORANTHA: Underwater Quest, but they consist of the backstory and the legend, which of course the author effectively ignores. The nearest the author gets to this is suggesting that GLORANTHA: Underwater Quest be used as a sequel to GLORANTHA: A Trek in the Marsh

GLORANTHA: Underwater Quest is not badly written for what it is, but very much like the earlier GLORANTHA: The search for the Throne of ColymarGLORANTHA: A Trek in the Marsh, and GLORANTHA: The Avengers of Earth Temple, it is underwritten and leaves plenty of development work for the Game Master to do before she brings GLORANTHA: Underwater Quest to the gaming table. Probably more than it warrants, since if the Game Master is going to have to do that development work, she might as well grab the map and start from scratch.

Is it worth your time?
YesGLORANTHA: Underwater Quest contains the germ of an interesting scenario if the Game Master is willing to completely develop the set-up, add the flavour, and the detail, which of course the author failed to do. Then of course, the Game Master can do something about making the dungeon interesting.
NoGLORANTHA: Underwater Quest is a self-contained dungeon bash which the author kindly leaves all of the interesting detail, stats, and flavour to be found in the back story for the Game Master to develop herself. Cheap, cheerless, characterless, and charmless.
MaybeGLORANTHA: Underwater Quest is yet a perfect showcase of how to take an interesting idea, all but ignore it, or at least leave it up to the Game Master to do anything with, and instead write an uninteresting dungeon bash for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Gloranthaso if the Game Master wanted to know how not to do it, she should start here. 

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