FIRST, A WORD FROM THE REVIEWER...
...who has been accused of being outspoken, stubborn, and unapologetic. Some of you might wish to just skip to the review of Neil Gibson's terrific new Jonstown Compendium book.
AN ALARMIST MIGHT SAY that art, and artists, are under attack these days. A cynic would point out they always have been. I probably fall closer to the latter camp. I am old enough to remember my parents' fury when Annie Lennox dared sport sideburns to perform "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" at the Grammys, their insistence I get rid of the Eurythmics' albums and buy no more. Likewise, I recall my high school D&D club being shut down during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and the horror that two books discovered there confirmed everyone's worst fears...Cults of Prax and Cults of Terror. All the occult whispers about RPGs had to be true if the books said "cult" brazenly on their covers. And yes, I fully recall TSR caving and pulling all mention of "devils" and "demons" out of their 2nd edition.
No, if there is art someone is going to be offended by it and demand its removal. Growing up, from Mapplethorpe to the Dixie (er, excuse me, the) Chicks the attacks came from the Right. Now the Left has embraced cancel culture with equal passion. In all cases, and on both sides, the critics "know" moral authority is on their side.
It's come round to gaming again, and unsurprisingly D&D has once more been the one to flinch. Drow, Orcs, and other "evil" races are now no longer allowed to be evil. Oh sure, there are a few bad apples, but you can't brand a race evil these days. Not even a fictional one. Art must bend to the will of the people, after all.
That brings us to the Broo.
Chaos is not for everyone. However, from the very first Snakepipe Hollow scenario I have been in love with the concept of Broo. I recall early days of playing D&D and encountering with the ubiquitous Orcs. However after moving to Runequest Broo seemed to have so much more depth, danger and dare I say character. They are classic evil protagonists. In a roleplaying system that is often ubiquitous and containing shades of gray, it’s refreshing to have clearly evil creatures where there is pleasure to be had in dispatching them.
--Neil Gibson; "A Love Letter to the Broo"
In Greg Stafford's Glorantha you are hard pressed to find capital "E" Evil. There are no alignments per se, just conflicting motivations. Even Chaos, which most people would consider the purest form of Evil, has its defenders, and the Lunar Empire--which embraces Chaos as a necessary part of creation--is actually for most people there a terrific place to live.
As author Neil Gibson points out in the passage above, the Broo tend to be an exception. Generally goat-like, they are like the satyrs of classical mythology stripped of even a single redeeming feature. They are a hybrid race, each one different from the next, a mixture of its Broo parent and whatever unfortunate creature it had offspring with. They hate most other living things and worship the very foulest gods, including one who spreads disease. If it is sickening, cruel, or despicable, the Broo probably do it. They are one of the few things in the setting you can kill guilt free.
Gibson's Legion, a supplement for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, is nearly 80 pages of Broo. Each one is unique, each one is fleshed out, each one is sheer, horrific delight. There are Broo of all danger levels here, from Rune Levels down to their followers. The book is simply page after page of gloriously terrible antagonists.
Inside you will meet the likes of Vuz Dog Witch, a hyena-broo hybrid carrying distemper. There is Mad Eye, who has no eyes where one should reasonably expect them...but instead has eyes opening and closing all over his body. There is the Black Bull who...er...well...originally born of a rock lizard has been mutating beyond all comprehension or recognition by his (?) worship of Porchango.
The diversity of the monsters included is amazing, and the book comes with several new diseases tucked away in the back.
No, this is not The Big Book of Gloranthan Bedtime Stories, but Gibson's Legion is as responsible as a work of horror or dark fantasy fiction could be. It includes a giant warning right up front as well as in the product description. It politely sidesteps any mention of Broo reproduction. and Gibson deftly manages the trick of going right up to the line between taste and gratuitousness without ever crossing it. For those of us who love Gloranthan as it is, chills and all, Legion isn't a love letter to the Broo, but to us.
Shout outs also have to go out to the terrific artists, Tho Connell, Mika Koskensalmi, Yoza, and Rick Hershey. And how could I not to mention Teguh Suwanda's glorious cover, which has to be my new favorite cover in the entire Jonstown Compendium.
At 8.95 US for an 80 page PDF, it is a treasure.
Your recommendation is good enough for me... and as it is about my all-time favourite Gloranthan baddie - Broos. Can't wait to feed this into my Six Seasons in Sartar Campaign...ReplyDelete