Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Jeff Grubb's worlds from A to Z, and then sticking at G!

Back in April, Jeff Grubb participated in the A to Z challenge with an alphabetical jaunt through fantasy worlds, with a focus on game worlds. Jeff's short summaries, occasionally with anecdotes, are well worth reading. I learned a lot, partly because if I had the gumption to attempt the same alphabetical sally, my worlds could only have overlapped with Jeff's by six or seven letters.

I particularly liked Z is for Zothique (because I sometimes forget about Clark Ashton Smith and wish I didn't), U is for Underdark (I'd forgotten that Jeff helped name it), S is for Stormfront (which is one of those moments of alternate world wot-the-hell history, I had no idea TSR almost had a game partially inspired by Winsor McCay drawings), M is for Minaria (again, I didn't know anything about the Divine Right world), A is for Amber (because I completely agree about the re-readability of the original five-volume series, and have been sharing it with new readers), and G is for Glorantha (because, yes, Greg Stafford's Glorantha is my favorite game world, and also where the rest of this post is headed!).

Jeff's take on Glorantha is concise and personal and perfectly captures the world's core conflict, the Hero Wars confrontation between worshipers of the Red Moon goddess (urbane sophisticates, but allied with ultimate Chaos) and worshipers of the air god Orlanth (resolutely free and recklessly violent).

Personally, I owe a lot to Glorantha. It's not only my favorite example of applied mythology, it also gifted me with formative moments in youth and adulthood. Youth: the RQ bibliography that first got me reading anthropology. Adulthood: several years of employment working at Chaosium and then at A# working on King of Dragon Pass.

While working at A#, I got to play in a sense-of-wonderful Glorantha Heroquest campaign run by Jeff Richard, alongside David Dunham and Neil Robinson and seven other thanes.

Fast-forward about fifteen years, and the second-Jeff-mentioned, Jeff Richard, has co-authored a magnificent monolith of a book called The Guide to Glorantha along with Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen. Actually it's a twin monolith of a book. It's one of those Kickstarter projects that started sane and blossomed into something flagrantly unlikely when it got funded beyond wild dreams. The Guide is being sold at a special pre-order price until July 7th, and they're running all manner of art and text previews.

The Guide isn't a game book. It's a world and mythology book, good for thinking, and if you like it also comes with a book of maps. But if you scroll a little farther down the www.glorantha.com site, you'll see that the Heroquest Glorantha book is due at GenCon, an updating of Robin D. Laws Heroquest that will be good for thinking and playing.


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