Retro Reviews: Glorantha, Introduction to the Hero Wars

Glorantha, Introduction to the Hero Wars is one of the first supplements to be written for Hero Wars line by Issaries, Inc.  It’s the 253-page crash course for Greg Stafford’s fascinating and complex game world – one that has existed since 1978 in various incarnations, but most famously through Chaosium’s (and later Avalon Hill’s) RuneQuest.  In that respect, Glorantha, Introduction to the Hero Wars has a lot to live up to, and the fact that it is the core world for the Hero Wars line adds more pressure to deliver the goods.  For those new to Glorantha, the Issaries supplement is the only in-print, all-inclusive guidebook to the key game world for Hero Wars.  For RuneQuest alumni, the closest out-of-print comparison is the 8th boxed set by Chaosium and Avalon Hill for RuneQuest 3rd edition: Glorantha: Genertela, Crucible of the Hero Wars.

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Retro Reviews: Escape From Innsmouth

Escape From InnsmouthOccasionally, I will be posting old reviews I did for The Gamer (print only) magazine back in the 1990s, and consolidating them here.  You can also find these reviews on rpg.net.

Another in the line of Lovecraft Country supplements, Escape From Innsmouth details the decaying seacoast town infamous for its ‘fishy’ inhabitants.  The cover–a young man hiding behind a wall as the shadows of strange, webbed things pass by in the night–is excellent, and joins the fine art Chaosium is doing for the Call of Cthulhu game these days.  The interior pencils are nearly as good, and the layout in general is sharp.  At 157 pages, the treatment of the town is an exhaustive one, although not altogether satisfying.

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Retro Reviews: Shadows on the Borderland

Shadows on the BorderlandOccasionally, I will be posting old reviews I did for The Gamer (print only) magazine back in the 1990s, and consolidating them here.  You can also find these reviews on rpg.net.

You can tell when a designer truly cares about the material he’s writing, not just by the amount of detail included, but by a sense that he has been to the place he’s describing, that he’s spoken to the people who live there. From the understated front cover, which illustrates the discovery of a skull-decorated temple (and a fresher specimen in the foreground) to the deranged wallmarkings drawn into the margins of the reference section, the authors have crammed this brooding, 104-page supplement with enough adventure to keep players engaged for a good long while.

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Retro Reviews: Elric! (Chaosium, Inc.)

Occasionally, I will be posting old reviews I did for The Gamer (print only) magazine back in the 1990s, and consolidating them here.  You can also find these reviews on rpg.net.

If there’s one thing Chaosium has always understood, it’s that without unique characters, roleplaying tends toward stereotype. Without colorful individuals, a roleplaying game is particularly susceptible to bland cliché. Perhaps it is for that reason that Chaosium turns to literature for inspiration more frequently than other companies. Pendragon and Call of Cthulhu are two fine examples of literature made gamable. Based on Michael Moorcock’s anti-hero, Elric! (a.k.a. the second edition of Stormbringer) is Chaosium’s addition to the growing line of dark fantasy role playing games. The game’s tone is gloomy, of course. But rather than emphasize simply a doomed world, Elric! remains true to Moorcock’s novels by stressing a gorgeous, baroque setting tragic fate and the ultimate despair of its inhabitants.

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Retro Reviews: Sun County (The Avalon Hill Game Company)

Occasionally, I will be posting old reviews I did for The Gamer (print only) magazine back in the 1990s, and consolidating them here.  You can also find these reviews on rpg.net.

When Chaosium sold the publishing rights for RuneQuest to Avalon Hill back in 1984, a lot of people complained that the new RuneQuest had lost its lustre, that by separating the Gloranthan setting from the rules, the game had lost the uniqueness that made playing it worthwhile. Over the years, Avalon Hill has managed to reprint some older material, while adding bits and pieces to the Gloranthan setting. Even so, nothing completely new has been added to this extraordinary world for a good eight years. Sun County manages to overcome that mistake, and then some.

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