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Sunday 19 November 2023

Jonstown Jottings #85: Crimson King

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, 13th 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’, instead 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?
Crimson King is a scenario for use with RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha which can be played as either a sequel to both The Duel at Dangerford and Black Spear: A Hero Wars Saga for RuneQuest or a one-shot. It provides a single session’s worth of play and could also be used as a convention scenario.

It is a seventy-five page, full colour 30.81 KB PDF.

It is a sixty-eight page, full colour softback book.

The layout is tidy and both artwork and cartography are excellent.

The scenario is can be easily be adapted to the rules system of the Game Master’s choice.

Where is it set?
Crimson King takes place in the Tarsh King’s MoonPalace on the Red Moon in the year ST 1627 just before the Hero Wars ramp up. Suggestions are given if the Game Master wants to set the scenario prior to ST 1627.

Who do you play?
Crimson King provides six pre-generated Player Characters which were previously seen in A Rough Guide to Glamour and Life of Moonson, Book One: The Characters. They consist of the Red Emperor, Moonson Argenteus, his bodyguard and chief spy Count Julan, his older sister, Great Sister, his cousin, The Red Dancer of Power, his daughter, Jar-eel the Razoress, and former rebel turned loyal captain and Chief Food-Taster, Beat-pot Aelwrin.

What do you need?
Crimson King requires RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and ideally, the RuneQuest Gamemaster Screen Pack or the RuneQuest Starter Set.

What do you get?
Crimson Keep is the chance for the players to take the roles of the divine rulers of their Lunar Empire enemies. It has been done before with the ‘Life of Moonson’ freeform, but Crimson King scales the fifty roles of that LARP down to a manageable six whilst still ramping up the epic nature of its scenario. They are guests of Tarsh King Pharandros at his MoonPalace on the Red Moon, and Crimson King is—initially—a freeform in which the relationships between the dinner guests and their fears are explored and played out. Each of the six pre-generated Player Characters is highly detailed, not mechanically, but in terms of background, with the information on the character sheets is well presented and easy to grasp. The wealth of information given though, does mean that the scenario is going to be appreciated more by experienced players and Gloranthaphiles who will enjoy the details and significance of both playing the pre-generated Player Characters and the events of the scenario.

Unfortunately, the dinner party does not go as planned when there is an assault upon the MoonPalace! The action switches up with each of the Player Characters having a chance to shine as they personally defend the various porticos which open out onto the Red Moon. And then, it switches up again, but in most unexpected fashion.

Essentially, Crimson King plays out as an epic, though highly staged film, which starts out as Casablanca, but switches midway into a combination of Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Star Wars, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me!, and just about any James Bond film you care to name. Fortunately, what could have been a messy mélange of influences is kept, if not necessarily under control or reined in, at least corralled and energised in service of the plot.

Is it worth your time?
YesCrimson Keep is an over-the-top, ‘batshit’ crazy epic that brings genuinely imaginative high action and high interaction to a Glorantha freeform.
NoCrimson Keep is potentially off-putting, if not intimidating because of its scale and the wealth of knowledge it draws from, even though the scenario does its best not to overwhelm either player or Game Master.
MaybeCrimson Keep is too weird and involves the doings of High Lunar muckety-mucks and that really is not for everyone.

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