I’m delighted to share that my publication Treasures of Glorantha Volume One: Dragon Pass has earned its Gold bestseller medal on DriveThruRPG! I promised elsewhere on social media that once we crossed this threshold I’d give everyone a teaser of Volume Two.
So without further ado…
The theme for Treasures of Glorantha Volume Two is Relics from the Second Age. My focus is to present items from the tumultuous Second Age of Glorantha’s history, which have survived until the modern Third Age. Naturally they could be used for a campaign set in the Second Age, but that’s not my main goal.
I think the Second Age is really cool because of its huge empires, their hubris, and the series of catastrophes which close the Age. You’ve got the Empire of the Wyrms Friends (EWF)—which it looks like Argrath’s gonna bring back with a vengeance—the Middle Sea Empire with its God Learners, but then there’s also an Aldryami empire in Pamaltela, and the White Bear Empire in Fronela (I think?). I don’t want this book to just be “the coolest toys of the EWF and the God Learners,” but rather to explore the less infamous groups too, and also the indigenous cultures which the great empires strove to conquer.
This is longer content within the book, stuff like the Dragonsblood or Medicine Bundles chapters in Volume One. This is the least well-shaped content in my mind. Some topics I’ve considered include:
- Famous Battles of the Second Age: This idea’s gone through a couple iterations—famous battles, famous heroes, famous wars, etc.—but basically the goal is a primer on the Second Age by focusing on the Big Cool Shiny moments, the stuff that really grabs my imagination amidst the sometimes tedious (and sometimes pretentiously obscure) historical articles in the Guide to Glorantha and the Stafford Library volume, Middle Sea Empire. As I’m returning to the material, though, I think this essay is a fundamental error. A lore essay isn’t the right way to tell cool moments; I should instead stuff as much of this into magic items showing the lore as something players can interact with.
- Prolegomena to Runic Logic: My academic background is in philosophy, and at one point I got an urge to attempt using the Runes and Techniques of RuneQuest’s sorcery to construct Glorantha’s equivalent to propositional calculus. This essay, ultimately, would have to be quite short, just pointing in some basic directions establishing the logic’s grammar. If I can find my notes, I’m still quite enchanted by the idea. But ultimately it’s hard to devote energy to an idea this complex, and ultimately not very gameable.
- God Learner Alchemy: Basically a “build your own potions” article because magic item creation systems and rituals are fun. Needing to get particular reagents gives adventurers reasons to go take risks, and to spend their silver.
Once I’ve got my own portions of the manuscript written, I’ll probably start poking around to see if one or two fellow creators are interested in contributing a longer article. Working with Simon Phipp, Jerry Thorpe, Shawn Carpenter, and everyone else who contributed to Volume One was a pure delight, and an experience I’d like to repeat, if my time budget and finance budget allows.
This is, of course, the meat of the publication. Currently I’m planning to write twenty magic items myself, then put out feelers for another ten. So Volume One and Volume Two will both have thirty items. I’d love to have more, but based on how Jonstown Compendium sales go in connection with publication lengths, it probably makes more sense to create a shorter work, than to aim at something over 100 pages.
A few things I learned while creating Volume One, which I want to bring in to Volume Two. First, I think interesting creation costs and attunement costs are fun. The whole “you can only get this from a heroquest” feels more and more like a cop-out to me. Even if heroquesting is required (which, fair, it’s the cool magic thing to do in Glorantha), I feel like I can probably provide more information about what sort of heroquest, or what at what cost the item is won.
Costs are also why I think attunement is interesting. Early on when I was introduced to Glorantha, I was fascinated with the idea that your characteristics can go up and down, that you can spend characteristic points to get cool stuff, and then train them back over time. This was a neat distinction from Pathfinder or D&D, where a characteristic going down suuuuucks. I love the decision-making process that costly attunement can make a player consider.
In addition, I found I really liked a “tiered” item in Volume One, “Fallen Star.” Fallen Star is cool to me because it has a story and player goals built into the magic item. This really makes Fallen Star feel like it’s more than just “spear that does bonus damage.” Now full disclosure, I designed that item just because I loved D&D 3.5E’s publication Weapons of Legacy. Fallen Star is my homage to that book. Tiered items are powerful, cool, and take a long time to write, so I probably can’t justify writing more than two or three, unless I can justify creating a longer publication.
Anyhow, here’s the magic items I’ve been toying with:
- Dragonbreaker: An emerald-green sword (made of dragonbone?) haunted by a companion of Alakoring Dragonbreaker. Please the ghost, and he’ll teach you swordplay. Tick him off, and he wakes you up with bagpipe music at 4 in the morning.
- Eye of Arkat: The God Learners vivisected Arkat’s descendants in order to learn their magical secrets. One of the results was these artificial eyes, which contain within them the stolen secret of the RuneQuest Sight.
- Halmil, Cursed Staff: Staff found after the magical Battle of Basmol between the rival wizards Halwal and Yomili. Possessed by both of their spirits. Each of them is grumpy about this.
- Harmonic Rods: A set of three rods, two of which always move in the same ways as the primary rod. Magic item using the Harmony Rune to do civil engineering.
- Horn of Levideros: Praxian horn which has different effects whether attuned to an initiate of Storm Bull or of Eiritha.
- The Inner Breath: One random scrap of Orlanth’s aspiration wandering the cosmos. Associated with the cult of Arangorf, the Cult of the Inner Dragon.
- Liquid Hate: Concoction distilled from an enemy’s tears which gives a magical Hate Passion. Passion acts like Fanaticism.
- Living Copper: Copper grown by the elves. I actually published this one already! It seemed like it made sense in Ehnval Tallspear, so I included it in that publication. As an aside, I really like that issue of MOTM. One of my favorites.
- Lost Seed of Errinoru: A tiered item which is related to Errinoru, a Second Age hero of the Aldryami.
- Mandala of Mythology: Basically a Buddhist prayer wheel but built by the Zistorites. When spun it auto-casts one of Glorantha’s myths. This is part of how Zistor the Machine God functioned (plus an absolute shit-ton of Tap-fed magic points, probably).
- Red Sword of Tolat: This is your classic Excalibur, in my mind. It’s a magic sword which has tons of cool stuff associated with it, connected to Shargash/Tolat (heretical idea: the monomyth is wrong, they’re actually NOT the same god?). I try to resist the urge to just make a bunch of uber magic items in my books, but this is gonna be an exception. Probably another tiered item, the adventurer becomes a king basically if they master both themselves, and the blade?
- Thunderstaff: A staff wielded by traditionalist Orlanthi who struck themselves with Thunderbolts to prove that Orlanth really loved them, not those dragonlovers.
- Tongue-Knife: A knife used to initiate people to dragon cults by splitting their tongue.
- Effigy of the Transcendent Master: A statue with a corpse inside. The corpse is a dragon mystic who achieved Draconic Consciousness, and is in a state of eternal Dreaming. They overcame Fertility and Death (Rune affinity 0% in each), and need help to “hatch” into the next stage of consciousness.
- Trickster Crown: Dunce cap given to the best students at Slontos’s trickster college. Sacrifices your INT, but you gain sorcery buffs.
And then I’ve got a few more mechanical ideas I like, but which haven’t really cohered yet into a good magic item:
- Magic Gauntlet: Some sort of technomagic gauntlet which drains your HP or CON and gives bonus magic points, or maybe even Rune points? Extra sorcery manipulation?
- Vow Item: You swear a geas or vow, and accrue “points” for each year you keep that vow. Number of points depends on how big the vow is. You can break the item to activate some effect. More points stored, bigger boom.
I’m not promising that all of these item ideas will make it in. There’s a few which I think have good mechanics, but bad theme. Or themes I like, but I’m not sure will have interesting mechanics. Or maybe I’ll need to cut something because I want to increase the list’s diversity. I don’t know! But this represents where I’m currently standing on the project.
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