The Introduction jumps straight in by discussing how Glorantha's troubled past means that it is spectacularly rich in all manner of ruins... and that due to magic and warring gods some, at least, are fantastical and bizarre places just crying out for brave adventurers to explore them if they dare. It also explains that there are two main ways in which you can design your ruins - either around one particular concept, or by drawing on the history of Glorantha and the specific place you want to have your ruin, so that it fits in organically with its surroundings. And, of course, there are some samples to play with.
Hence, Chapter 1: Creating Ruins looks at various ways to get your creative juices flowing once you've decided that you want a ruin. If no clear idea suggests itself, there are 'Ruin Creation Tables' which can be rolled on randomly - or perhaps just reading them will suggest elements that you want to use. Some people may like to envisage the entire lifecyle of the ruin, from when it was first built to its present ruined state, but a good method is to start with the adventure you have in mind or even a single scene, and then devise a ruin that will meet your needs.
For those who like a random approach, or just to help organise your thoughts, a series of tables follows. A convenient 'hook' to build your ruin around can be to link it to an element or other major force, and this may suggest anything from structure to likely inhabitants. Location is also important, and there's a table for that... even amazing backdrops are covered - think cinematically, visualise how the place will look. For each item on each table, there's a paragraph (or more) of development suggesting how you include that component once you've selected it. The sheer wealth of ideas is amazing and there's bound to be something that sets you off, up and running with a concept for your ruin...
For those wanting an even richer experience, there's a second set of more detailed tables tied in to Gloranthan history and traditions. It is a more comprehensive process, and will take a bit more time to work through, but the result is something that is uniquely Gloranthan, rather than any old exotic and interesting ruin that just happens to be in Glorantha! You start off with how old the original structure was, what it was intended for and who built it, and then track its eventual decline into the ruins that you will put in front of your players, complete with a detailed history for them to discover if they are so minded. Even likely magical effects and guardians are included.
Chapter 2: Regions and Ruins is an exploration of the various regions of Glorantha concentrating on the sort of ruins typical of each. You might want to use this to further refine your ruin design to suit the location in which your adventure will occur. There are also several example ruins to be found in each region, not quite 'ready to run' as is, but a good starting point from which to design the actual structure and decide what's there.
Next come several fully-detailed ruins which ARE about ready to run. Use them as presented, or as examples of what - aided by the ideas earlier in this book - you can develop yourself. One intriguing one is not in Glorantha at all - it's floating in the air above it, moving seemingly at random (hence you can have it turn up wherever your adventurers might be). Another seems to exist in two times at once, the palace in the daytime is quite different from that at night. Places rich and strange, crying out for the intrepid to visit... although, unless you supply your own, the only motivation for going to any of them seems to be curiousity or loot.
While the fully-developed ruins make me want to round up a handful of players and give them a go, the main strength of this book is the tools it provides to aid in the creation of your own unique and fantastical ruins, fully in accord with Glorantha and yet also your own.
Return to Ruins of Glorantha page.
Reviewed: 27 August 2009