THE ARGUMENTS GO BACK forty years.
You have the Roman Camp, who will point to the Imperial legions, the liberal use of terms like "centurion" and "tribune," and the existence of a Senate. Obviously this makes Sartar Gaul or Germania...possibly even Judea. Then you have the Persian Camp, who remind you of the Satraps and sultanates. This casts Sartar in the role of the brave Greeks holding off the forces of Xerxes I. There is a Byzantine Camp, who point out the existence of a state religion that is keen on conversion, a Soviet Camp who view the insidious spread of "Illumination" as a euphemism for Communism (not to mention, the empire is "Red"), and even a Star Wars "The Empire" Camp...because let's face it, there is something rather Death Star-like about the Red Moon just hovering there. Each side, given the chance, has made convincing cases initially around gaming tables, then later message boards, and nowadays the Internet.
Of course the real answer is simple. The Lunar Empire is all of these things.
In a world based on myth, the Lunar Empire is the archetypical Empire, a mold into which you can pour any empire you like (or dislike, for that matter). Alternatively, if you are the team that put together 2020's A Rough Guide to Glamour, you cram that mold close to bursting with every single empire you can think of. Glamour served up a Lunar Empire that was simultaneously Rome, Byzantium, Moscow, Britain, Palpatine's, and more than a little Oceania, spiced up with pop culture and humor, and served hot in the Jonstown Compendium. Now the band is back together for Life of Moonson, Book One: Characters.
Both A Rough Guide and Moonson originated with a LARP run at Gloranthan conventions in the late 1990s. It was a strange period of history for "Glorantha in the real world," when the setting had just split from RuneQuest but had not yet been reborn in Hero Wars (later HeroQuest). Yet this LARP played a crucial role in assembling the Avengers, the people who would become--in the words of Jeff Richard--"a veritable Who's Who of the modern Team Chaosium." So it felt "right" for a Rough Guide to be expanded, illustrated, and published for the new Jonstown Compendium, and it feels right for the Life of Moonson books to follow it now.
While A Rough Guide detailed the setting of the LARP--the Lunar Empire's capital of Glamour--this volume, Characters, contains more than 50 characters for it, each illustrated, with pages of description background, personal objectives, secrets, and things the character knows. There are no game statistics here, but the characters are so complex and fleshed out that adding a few for RuneQuest or QuestWorlds would be well worth your while. These are the movers and shakers of the Lunar Empire. the heaviest of the heavy hitters. Within you will find the Red Emperor himself, Sor-Eel, the Great Sister, the Dean of the Field School of Magic, even Jar-Eel the Razoress. This makes it invaluable to anyone wanting to run a campaign in the capital, or at the highest levels of the Empire. For the rest of us, its just makes for damn juicy reading.
The production values are upped here from A Rough Guide, which is actually saying something as that book set the bar for other Compendium works. The writing team of David Hall, Kevin Jacklin, Nick Brooke, Chris Gidlow, the notorious MOB (Michael O'Brien), and Mike Hagen are joined by illustrator Dario Corallo, whose art so perfectly matches the spirit of the book. As with A Rough Guide, Moonson portrays the luminaries of the Empire in the guise of famous actors, performers, and artists we all know. I will leave it to you, gentle reader, to identify them all at your leisure.
At 235 pages Life of Moonson is massively expanded from its original source material, with new essays and maps courtesy Phil Anderson and Nick Brooke. Book Two: The Rules, is on the way and will deliver the basic story of the LARP (seven years after the Dragonrise, the great and the good of the Empire have come together the celebrate the Lunar New Year...), the rules, and tools needed to run it.
Even if you have no intention of playing the LARP, Life of Moonson belongs in your collection along with A Rough Guide to Glamour. LARPs have never been this reviewer's cup of tea, but I still find both books terrific RPG references. Like so much from the Compendium they are passion projects, and it shows. They also shed light (scarlet, crimson, and vermillion light, of course) on a part of Glorantha we don't often get to see.
Life of Moonson is available now in PDF from the Jonstown Compendium. Buy a copy, and help it get past the threshold for print on demand eligibility.