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"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."


THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Monday, August 3, 2020

SIX SEASONS IN SARTAR: THE COMPANY OF THE DRAGON - A FIRST LOOK

A NOMINAL SEQUEL



IN WRITING THE COMPANY OF THE DRAGON, the one thing I didn't want to do was a sequel.  Six Seasons in Sartar is a self-contained story; it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  It struck me as silly to just have "continuing adventures" tacked on, as if the ancient Third Age poet Usuphus of Jonstown just kept cranking out additional epics like some Gloranthan Jerry Bruckheimer.  So from the start I knew The Company of the Dragon had to be something different.  It would have to be 100% compatible with Seasons, but also a stand-alone project.

Because the metafiction was key to Six Seasons, it proved essential here too.  It enabled me to establish a connection between the two sagas, but to also explain why they are so different in design and in tone.

For decades, scholars have argued that Usuphus's coming of age tale was pure fiction, without basis in fact.  But the discovery of additional Third Age documents in the 1960s changed all that.  The War Bands of Occupied Sartar is a history, the name of its author unknown, and it details the individual guerrilla warfare companies that comprised the Sartarite resistance between 1620 and 1625.  One chapter, "The Company of the Dragon," is the first real hint that Usuphus might not have made the entire thing up.  Though it doesn't mention the "Haraborn," it details a war band made up of warriors "whose homes were burned and lands taken" by the Lunars.  While this is only a thin similarity to Usuphus's protagonists, one striking detail is that this war band is described as having a draconic wyter, a coiled dragon spirit with rainbow scales.  This sounds suspiciously like Shah’vashak, the dragon spirit that becomes the patron of the youths in Six Seasons.


IN PLAY 


What this means at your gaming table is that The Company of the Dragon could, indeed, be played as a direct sequel to your Six Seasons in Sartar campaign. After the fall of the Haraborn, your player characters join the "Deer Folk" become warriors in the underground. The Company of the Dragon tells the story of that phase in their lives. On the other hand, the Company may have no connection to Usuphus at all, and could easily be run as its own campaign.


Beyond this, however, it means The Company of the Dragon is very different in both tone and design. Six Seasons is based on an epic poem; it is a fairly linear story. Company is a history, covering a five-year period. Instead of chapters building to a climax, the book is made up of 50 to 60 "episodes," much like the ones in the final chapter of Six Seasons. Some of these episodes can be used at any time, others are time specific. They become available at certain times along the timeline. In this way Company has a much more "sandbox" feel, but instead of encounters being triggered by wandering a round a map, they are activated by previous encounters and by certain times.


To keep the story aspect, however, Company introduces "character arcs." During character creation, each player and the GM will map out an "inner journey" the character will take. Avenging the death of a loved one. Finding someone they lost. Being torn between love and duty. Etc. As the campaign progresses, these personal stories weave in with the episodes to keep a continuity and to help the characters develop and grow as they pursue personal goals.


TONAL DIFFERENCES


The biggest difference between the two campaigns, however, is that Six Seasons was about a clan. The characters farmed, had families, community. It presented a fairly bucolic image of Heortling life.


The Company of the Dragon is about war. 


Though the Lunar Empire considers Sartar "pacified" enough to move their troops south to the Holy Country, the resistance aims to prove them wrong. Your characters will hold up and rob Lunar caravans, strike military targets, engage in espionage and diplomatic assignments, take hostages, rescue prisoners, fight battles, and yes...Heroquest...all while evading capture and hiding out in the highlands and the wilds. You will fight to survive the Great Winter than falls when Orlanth and Ernalda "die," and you will be instrumental in the Dragonrise.


Oh...and did I mention the sealed, forbidden city of insane Dragonewts?


This doesn't mean that community is not an important part of the story! The Company of the Dragon includes introductory chapters on war bands, on the sacred bonds that join members of them together. You are not some collection of murder hobos! You are a group of people who have put your lives into each other's hands, a bond closer than blood. Three types of war bands are given as examples; Vingan, Orlanth Adventurous, and Humakti, each with their own rituals, customs, and initiations.


THE DRAGON CONNECTION


Another difference between this and Six Seasons is scale and scope. Seasons takes place in one narrow valley over a six season period. The Company of the Dragon moves across Sartar and Dragon Pass, with forays into Prax and the Holy Country, and covers five years. This means a lot more of what we love about Glorantha enters its pages; Uz, Mostali, Ducks, Morokanth, and especially Dragons. In an intentional echo of Six Seasons in Sartar, Kallyr Starbrow will need the help of the player characters and their Dragon wyter to bring about the Dragonrise, and The Company of the Dragon includes a meaty chapter on "Draconic Consciousness" and Dragon Magic.


FINALLY, MORE 13G AND QUESTWORLDS 


While Six Seasons was always intended to be compatible with QuestWorlds/HeroQuest Glorantha (the blog contains an HQ conversion of the entire campaign), 13G was not covered by the Jonstown Compendium. All that has changed, and The Company of the Dragon will fully support all three games. In the coming weeks we will also be released a FREE 13G adaptation guide for Six Seasons


I will be sharing a lot more about the book over the coming weeks, and keep you posted about a release date. Please note; because of the new Jonstown Compendium guidelines I cannot offer a print version until the book has sold at least 250 PDF copies (as of this writing, Six Seasons is nearly double that and very close to Gold bestseller status, so with any luck, Company will get a print release eventually too). 

3 comments:

  1. Looks very interesting. Too little has been published about the guerrilla warfare during the Lunar occupation.

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  2. Andrew, I am returning to Runequest (and RPGs) after a 35 year gap and am running Six Seasons in Sartar. I have an experienced player and the others are all new to Glorantha. The Initiation scenario was fantastic and we all had a blast. I expanded a cattle raid into a whole session and so they are about to embark on a 'Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.' Great stuff so far and look forward to this next supplement - I will defintely be using it - the character arcs sound great and will work well with my current group.

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  3. Currently playing Six seasons in Sartar and having an absolute blast! Looking forward to this.

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