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Monday, 20 June 2022

Jonstown Jottings #63: The Lifethief

Much like the Miskatonic Repository for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, th 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.

—oOo—

What is it?
The Lifethief is a scenario for use with RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha in which the adventurers come to the aid of a shaman of the Impala tribe in a highly testing location.

It is a possible sequel to the earlier Stone and Bone and The Gifts of Prax scenarios.

It is a forty-seven page, full colour 112.04 MB PDF.

It is cleanly and tidily presented and 
some of the artwork is excellent.

Where is it set?
The Lifethief: An Adventure for RuneQuest Glorantha is set in the Dead Place in Prax, northeast of Pimper’s Block.

Who do you play?
There are no specific roles necessary to play The Lifethief, but martial characters will be needed as combat is involved. In addition, a Shaman should prove useful, though will be greatly challenged.

What do you need?
The Lifethief: An Adventure for RuneQuest Glorantha requires RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and the RuneQuest: Glorantha Bestiary will be useful for details of some of the encounters.

What do you get?
The Lifethief: An Adventure for RuneQuest Glorantha is a short, simple adventure which takes place in the barren, Chaos wastelands of the Dead Place where the dust itself forms angry spirits and is injurious to the health of anyone who breaths it in. Here, Maserelt, a shaman of the Impala tribe, has set up camp and been monitoring a thing of horror coming out of the Dead Place—something that lived and actually had a spirit, but twisted and warped by Chaos. She cannot face it alone and has reached out for help. In answer, Erhehta, her rival from the Bison Riders, the shaman previously met by the Player Characters in the scenarios, Stone and Bone and The Gifts of Prax, sends them out to render her the assistance she needs. (If the Player Characters have not met with Erhehta or played through either of the earlier scenarios, The Lifethief includes advice and plot hooks to involve them in this scenario.)

The most obvious challenge that the Player Characters will face in the Dead Place beyond the extremely barren nature of its environment is the fact that magic does not work. There is simply not the connection to the spirit world for it to work and the likelihood is that there is no connection to the gods either, so Rune magic may or may not work. Chaos features are another matter. The combination means that The Lifethief is a physically grueling affair which will force the Player Characters to rely upon their innate skills.

Fortunately, the Player Characters have a chance to learn about they are going and gain some skill bonuses in the process in a pleasing little social scene which contrasts with the desolation they will later face. The Lifethief is not the only encounter that the Player Characters will encounter in the Dead Place, being tested by a band of Broo—inventively and vilely designed as you would want with a band of Broo, but it is the main one. Its actions and abilities are decently described, but the illustration of it is bland and uninteresting, especially given the fantastic pieces of the Broo a few pages earlier.

Notes are included as what happens if the Player Characters fail or need to retreat and come back again, along with several plot hooks which can be run after it. Full stats are given for both Maserelt and Erhehta as well as of the latter’s Straw Weaver clan of the Bison riders, which is useful if the Game Master has not run either of the previous scenarios. Beyond the details of the adventure, The Lifethief includes two sets of encounters—Praxian and Dead Place encounters. These take up almost a third of the scenario and range from the mundane to the weird, but are all nicely done and never less than interesting. They include a trapped and angry rhino, an ancient ghost with a hatred of beast riders, Morokanth traders, lost spirits, and more. The Dead Place encounters can of course be used to supplement the scenario and the Praxian encounters used to supplement other adventures on the plains of Prax. Overall, they are a nice edition with the Praxian encounters otherwise could have formed the basis of a supplement of their own.

Is it worth your time?
YesThe Lifethief: An Adventure for RuneQuest Glorantha is a useful and easy addition for any campaign set on the plains of Prax, especially if the Game Master has run Stone and Bone and The Gifts of Prax, and wants an extra set of encounters.
NoThe Lifethief: An Adventure for RuneQuest Glorantha is setting specific to the plains of Prax and even if the Game Master is running a campaign there, it may be too challenging a scenario for some players as it takes away their characters’ magic.
MaybeThe Lifethief: An Adventure for RuneQuest Glorantha is a short but useful filler combat focused adventure, but not much more than that. The extra encounters are inventive and easy to add to a Prax set campaign.

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