Six Seasons in Sartar Review

Six Seasons in Sartar Cover

What is it?

A campaign for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha by Andrew Logan Montgomery for the Jonstown Compendium of community content for Chaosium’s game.

What’s the deal?

It’s 148 full-color pages on sale at DTRPG. The PDF is $19.95; the hardcover, $39.95. For $59.90, you get both.

What’s it like?

The vast trove of lore surrounding RuneQuest can be intimidating for new players. Six Seasons is an accessible entry to Glorantha (the mythic setting of RuneQuest), yet one that’s also deeply engaged with the full panoply of its mythology. Starting the characters as youths of the Haraborn, a tribe that’s such a small footnote in Gloranthan history it only appears here, Six Seasons eases players into the daily life of the Colymar tribes of Dragon Pass, the Orlanthi Storm and Earth worshippers who are the major focus of RuneQuest. Isolated in their mountain fastness, the characters go through adulthood initiation rituals and then six loosely linked adventures spread across a bit more than one Gloranthan year (1619 to 1620 ST, for true RQ fans). 

The characters gradually get drawn into the orbit of one of the most exciting figures of the early Hero Wars, Kallyr Starbrow. Starbrow is in full insurrection against the invading Lunar Empire, which has installed the puppet King Kangharl on the throne of Sartar, a throne to which she has a claim. The adventure cleverly intertwines the fates of the inexperienced PCs and the legendary (even in her own time) would-be queen. As the book says, no one wants to be a mere sidekick, even to a godlike hero, and the PCs definitely get to hold their own here.

It’s an exciting and affecting story that tangles the tiny tribe up in the politics of Kallyr, Kangharl, and the mighty Lunar Empire. It becomes increasingly clear that the Haraborn will be lucky to avoid disaster as the story takes the characters from mundane “find so and so” missions to full-scale battles for survival. The climax is a breathtaking, shattering crescendo, beyond anything I expected.

Six Seasons is jammed with detail on the Haraborn, from cults (Black Stag & White Hart) to steadings, to tribal leaders, with excellent advice for running it all. There are solid rules for Heroquesting, symbolic adventures in the plane of myth that can change the real world (official HeroQuesting rules have been forthcoming for about 40 years), and, at the other end of the scale, more worldly “episodes,” set-pieces beyond the six adventures that GMs can run to enrich the campaign—from cattle raids to marriages.

The book itself is a beautiful hardback printed on slightly slick paper. Careful readers will find a few places where the editing and layout could have used another pass, and a couple bits that might give pause. I plan to be careful how I, a dude, run a menstruation-centric coming of age ceremony for women players, and I’ll drop Kangharl’s supposed-to-be-insulting epiphet “Blackmoor.” An unexplained part of Gloranthan lore, I believe this refers to Dave Arneson’s campaign; in any case it’s not Montgomery’s creation. Tiny issues aside, this book is of consistently very high quality and quite sensitive to possible player concerns.

In fact, for some possible pitfalls—running the abduction of a woman by her stalker, for example—the book gives you options for groups that might find them problematic. There’s even a section on running Nandan and Vingan characters (analogous to trans women and trans men and also long a part of Glorantha) through the appropriate coming-of-age rituals. Kudos to Montgomery for addressing diversity in representation of gender roles.

Six Seasons in Sartar is a fantastic jumping-off point for the larger world of Glorantha. Players with doubts about Glorantha will be engaged in the narrative, entrenched in Glorantha, and desperate to continue by the conclusion of the story. Fortunately, The Company of the Dragon, the bigger (270 pages!) and far more sequel epic is now out. I’m devouring the PDF now and will absolutely buy the hardcover when it’s released. Look for a review soonish!

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