Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Different Worlds: Issue #22

Issue #22 of Different Worlds (July 1982) is a special RuneQuest issue, as its cover by Lisa Free, depicting a morokanth setting a trap for herdmen, makes clear. Like the ducks, morokanth are an aspect of Glorantha that's nearly impossible to explain easily and, even then, I'm pretty sure that they'll be baffling to most people (including myself). Regardless, issue #22 is a very good one that's not solely geared toward dedicated Glorantha aficionados.

The first article presents a "gateway" cult for RQ by Michael Kolb, entitled "Cult of Dionysus." As you'd expect, it details the cult of the Greek god for use with the game. I found the article interesting, because, unlike many previous articles presenting new cults, this one includes no new spells or rules. Instead, it shows how to use the existing RQ spells and rules to model an interpretation of the cult of Dionysus. Whether you agree with Kolb's presentation or not, I think there's something very positive about his approach of not using rules as the way to expand the scope of a game.

"Advice from Rurik" by Steve Perrin is a question-and-answer column for RuneQuest. Named after the sample character in the RQ2 rulebook, the column deals with both rules and the setting of Glorantha. "RuneFix1" by Greg Stafford presents a series of changes to the RuneQuest rules "adopted in the Chaosium house campaign." Amusingly, one of the largest changes concerns the acquisition of languages. I can't speak to the utility of any of the changes, but I am always happy to see evidence of RPGs actually being played by the people whose names appear in its byline. 

"Terraforming Part One" by Doug Houseman is a Traveller "source article" that discusses the topic of planetary engineering and includes game statistics and deckplans for a pair of starships. "Hela's House of Dark Delights" by Ken St. Andre is a solo adventure for Tunnels & Trolls. As someone with a growing interest in solo RPG adventure design, I found this useful. "Eight New Weapons for RuneQuest" by Paul Cardwell Jr. does what its title suggests. Most of the weapons detailed are "exotic" ones like atlatls, boomerangs, and caltrops.

This issue's reviews positively covers Worlds of Wonder, 76 Patrons, and Uragyad'n of the Seven Pillars (the last two for Traveller). It also negatively reviews C&S Sourcebook II and The Dungeon of King Lout, the latter of which I've never heard. Reviewer Dave Nalle sums up his feelings in the following way:

This product is ridiculously overpriced, almost contentless, and an affront to my pride as a gamer. There is no reason why anyone would buy this. You can design your own random and unrealistic dungeon (if you want) in the same time it would take you to prepare The Dungeon of King Lout and you would save $5.95.

Ouch!

John T. Sapienza continues to look at cardboard miniatures, this time focusing on Steve Jackson's Cardboard Heroes products. Larry DiTillio's "The Sword of Hollywood" returns, with some brief gossip about then-upcoming movies, like Revenge of the Jedi [sic]. Meanwhile, John Nubbin reviews Conan the Barbarian at length – and he doesn't think very much of it. Nubbin is critical of nearly everything, starting with its story (which "makes no sense"), but expanding to include the editing, acting, even its soundtrack (which he calls "awkward"). I have many problems with the film myself, but, even so, I think Nubbin's review is often needlessly nitpicky and mean-spirited. 

The issue concludes, as most issues do, with Gigi D'Arn's column. This time, she continues her coverage of TSR's purchase of SPI and its subsequent actions, such as the canceling of all SPI game events at Origins. In retrospect, it's not at all surprising how badly things ultimately turned out for SPI and its many excellent games. What a waste! Gigi also relates a darkly amusing story of something she overheard in a game shop: "That's the D&D role-playing game. It's based on Mattel's D&D electronic game."

I really enjoyed this issue and look forward to reading the next issue – though I should note now that I seem to have misplaced part of my collection of these issues, including issue #23. I'll keep digging around in my "files" to find the missing issues, but it's possible I might not be successful before next week, in which case I'll think of some way to continue this series. 

9 comments:

  1. I remember this a favourite issue

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  2. Looking around for the "King Lout" module shows that it wasn't well-received when The Space Gamer reviewed it either ("not worth the money") and although they weren't all that harsh with it ("as good as just about anything out there") the review sounds a bit on the lazy side to me. Probably one of their little micro-reviews rather than a proper article, I had the issue but don't recall it despite many of the other contents being clear in memory. Had a neat Striker review that got me to buy it, the third and final part in a terrific Traveller adventure they'd been running, and a short story about a newbie superhero that still stands out in my mind. Good stuff - if you ever get done with DW maybe you should do a TSG retrospective? :)

    The adventure was apparently a folder with a bunch of loose pages and maps inside it. Somewhat noteworthy for being a generic module that used something they called "infinity stats" that could be plugged in to any system - which is likely due to the publisher being the amusingly-named Infinity Limited rather than the application of transfinite numbers to RPG stats. :)

    I didn't dislike the Conan movie, although it certainly isn't faithful to the original stories. As a fairly dumb fantasy film I thought it was fine, though. Then again, I'm one of those madmen who unironically enjoys watching the sequel as well, and still think it has one of my favorite on-screen wizard duels (however brief) of all time. "First one whose brain catches fire loses" seems like a fine win condition to me.

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  3. "...morokanth are an aspect of Glorantha that's nearly impossible to explain easily..."

    Hmmm, a challenge.

    The plains of Prax are inhabited by many tribes of beast nomads, each associated a breed of animal that serves as their mounts and herd animals. In mythological pre-history the men and beasts were both capable of speech and reason, but when the hard times came they held a series of contests to decide which of them would become true animals and which would herd and care for them as livestock so that all would survive. Humans won every contest but one. The beasts of what is now the morokanth tribe won their contest and kept their reason despite their animalistic shapes, while the humans they defeated became herd-men, who are simple animals in human form. The other tribes resent the morokanth (who surely must have cheated somehow) but acknowledge them as part of Praxian culture, neither better nor worse than other tribes, just different. The morokanth are sometimes accused of stealing true humans and turning them to herd-beasts with cult magic, something that rarely happens and then only to the worst of outlaws. Most other Praxians do see the herd-men as the animals they are, but outsiders often confuse them with slaves and the consumption of their meat as cannibalism, which further taints the morokanth's reputation.

    That's about as succinct as I can manage, but it should do as a primer. Show a newbie a picture of a morokanth and a herd-man with it and I think it should be comprehensible enough. :)

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    1. That is as good a short, clear intro to the Morokanth as any I've seen. Nice work, Mr. McGee.

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    2. Thanks. And I didn't even mention thumbs. :)

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  4. I searched this one out in my early RQ days because it was the "special RQ" issue. I seem to recall that not long after I ordered it (via mail) it was the victim of a Roy Rogers chocolate milkshake dice roll mishap caused by one of my players, so I trashed it. Fun times (and good milkshakes!)

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  5. I personally love the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. I will have to queue that up to listen to again soon.

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  6. Thumbs, like tentacles, can be needless distractions.

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