This is a table-top campaign I started running in late 1998. It's based
around the Marshedge clan of the Colymar tribe, around 1597. Players start
off at the end of childhood, just about to undergo initiation. I asked
the players whether they wanted Glorantha in all its full mythic glory,
or some broo-bashing. Predictably, they said "both". So that's what we're
When I asked my players what they wanted from Glorantha, some of them said
"Ducks!". Others, perhaps with more taste, didn't. So I needed somewhere
where I could have Ducks and Humans going through the same initiation quests.
That meant either ducks being adopted by a human clan, or humans being
adopted by a duck clan. The first sounded easier, so I asked on the Digest
for ideas. From there I got pointed at David Hall's Lismelder campaign,
and he came up with several clans that he felt would get on well enough
with Ducks to adopt foundlings. Of those, the Marshedge had two things
going for them.
They were founded by a woman
They have a special skill called Clod-Hopping!
That was good enough for me!
Clan background and history
I asked David for details of the Marshedge, and he gave me quite a bit,
but asked me to keep it for my own use only. Fair enough. I asked a few
more questions, didn't get answers, and so invented the rest of the
background, history, mythology, personalities, geography, etc. on the assumption
that he simply hadn't detailed the rest of it.
Several game sessions later, David got back to me. He had detailed the
rest of it. And some bits clashed with what I'd invented. (Like which clan
lives at the settlement of Oakstead: he'd never even mentioned the one
he puts there). So my background, history, etc. is not going to tie in
with what comes out in the next "Tales". Such is life. If people want to
be secretive, they can hardly be surprised if the rest of the world carry
on writing and gaming rather than waiting in breathless anticipation for
their words of wisdom. Clashes will of course result.
I'll detail this lot later, once Tales is out. But for now...
The Marshedge clan has four main bloodlines. Each has their own ways
of dealing with the nearby Marsh, and using all of them together is very
That descended from the clan founders (whose names are among the things
David wanted kept secret) is numerically tiny, but tends to produce more
clan chiefs than the rest put together.
The Magnussons are descended from Magnus the Strong, founder of Oakstead.
They tend to be large, blonde, and loud. The sacred oak grove around their
stead provides the ingredients for Oak Beer, which is reputed to give them
The Branssons are descended from the first priest and priestess of the
clan, Bran and Fearna. They discovered that the magical powers of the hostile
Blackthorn could be countered by the Alder tree. Alder resists water, and
alder trees will gradually convert the swamp they grow in to dry land.
They founded the village of Marshedge, building it on Alder piles in the
river. (Take a look at pictures of lake villages for some idea how this
The Reedmelds were already living here when the clan was founded, and were
happy to join it. They are small, dark, and wiry. They live closest to
the Marsh of all the clan, and are experts in using Reeds to make their
homes and boats. They avoid trouble rather than defying it, bending with
the wind rather than breaking.
Basically RuneQuest. I've added Traits, though I wouldn't dream of using
them to control a PCs actions, and a few other bits and pieces. And I've
got an Access database I use to store stats, which lets me do things like
calculating exactly how "in favour" each PC is with each deity, based on
Traits, skills, etc. I'm experimenting with mods to the combat system that
allow them to fight defensively or aggresively, moving skill from attack
to parry or vice versa. There are problems here at present: when I get
things sorted I'll put the answers up here.
Special skills: Clod-Hopping, of course. And something I call "sense
power": it's rather like having magic detection as an ability, but at low
levels and with vague results. Average skill is about 5%. A success means
you can sense active magic to the nearest 10 POW. In game terms, this normally
has no effect at all, but if they wander into an ancient abandoned temple
they can roll to see if it feels spooky.
Character generation is, of course, not RQ standard. I'm using the system
I detailed ages ago for my PBM game: background experience from age 5,
no cultural weapons. And they're getting training as part of their initiation.
Cedric. The normal one. Youngest son of a large Magnusson family, he takes
after his Reedmeld mother rather than the rest of his huge relatives. Before
his father died he helped him as a fisherman: since then he's been apprenticed
to his bronze-smith uncle, but lacks the strength to make this his career.
Alane. The loud one. She's the daughter of Madrun Merrydown, the local
cider brewer. She takes after her father, who is very much a Magnusson.
Someday she may well settle down to brewing cider, or even keeping pigs
like her father, but not just yet.
Cynan. The weird one. Cynan was adopted by the clan when he was found running
out of the Marsh, aged about seven, with a lot of zombies on his tail.
He had apparently been living there in a "feral" state for some time, and
spoke no language anyone recognised. His past is a mystery, though he has
occasional flashes of memory. Cynan is extremely pious, and wants to be
a priest of Orlanth. He does seem to have talent in that direction, and
the clan godi, Brion, has been giving him some training.
And then we get on to the Ducks.....
Shewey the Weckless. Whose player thinks Ducks should talk with a lithp.
Shewey's father was a Humakti Sword-Drake, Dewey Scaup, battle-brother
of Owain the Axeman, who at the time was Tribal Champion of the Lismelder
(and a Storm Bull worshipper). Dewey died in the Marsh, and with his last
breath asked Owain to protect his four chicks as if they were his own.
Owain, having far more honour than brains, agreed: nay, insisted. He then
died a few years later (heroically, of course!), leaving four ducklings
to be brought up by his widow. Shewey is extremely proud of both his father
and his foster-father, and is unsure which of them he should emulate. At
present his ambitions tend towards becoming the clan's first Storm Drake.
"Honest" Quagg. The awkward one. Quagg was apprenticed to a semi-reputable
trader as a young duck, and his parents died while he was off on a trading
trip. (There's more to this: much, much more. But it can wait till Quagg
has his own page). He eventually ended up with the Marshedge because the
trader used him as the stakes in a drunken gambling session. He's been
with the clan for a year now, but still has problems fitting in. There
was some concern over whether he was really ready for initiation, but he
was allowed to proceed. Looking at his activities so far, this was probably
a bad idea :(
What's happened so far?
They've all done the Heort's Path quest, and
come through IFWW with flying colours.
Cynan has a Fanaticism spell as a result of a spectacular (if unsuccessful)
all-out attack on a Chaotic Nasty while calling on the Bull.
Quagg used his minimal Sense Power skill on Second Son's stead, and criticalled:
he has a Detect Magic spell as a result.
Alane has a Bladesharp spell and attracted Vinga's attention.
And Shewey has learnt not to provide lots of very silly miniatures when
I'm throwing Chaotics at the party :) (He got beaten to death with a Barbie
doll. Don't ask.)
Cedric, unfortunately, was boring and normal. He's good at that.
Alane has just done her Ernalda initiation,
and come out with unexpected leanings towards Maran Gor.
The boys have done their Orlanth initiation.
I'll detail this when I have time. Let me just say that getting the rest
of the players to be the Strange Gods was the most fun I've had while roleplaying
for quite a long time.
They've all done their various bloodline initiations.
Just after the Orlanth initiation, but before they join their bloodlines,
Burns Night hit us, and we went Haggis Hunting.
This was very silly, and a good time was had by all. Cedric is now famous
as the slayer of... well, read the scenario. But his grandfather, the best
hunter in the clan, has taken him on as an apprentice as a result.
The Trickster's Tale
Quagg missed some sessions, and so did his training and initiation quests
separately from the rest of the group. On the whole, this was probably
a good thing. His player, Tony, is quite a challenge to GM. I decided to
make this a feature rather than a problem, and offered him the chance of
Trickster initiation. Quite how he did this, complete with initiation heroquest,
while getting the rest of the clan deeper into murky politics than they've
been for generations, was great fun, especially when I managed to link
his plot-line back into the minor rivalries going on amongst the rest of
the group. I'll write it up, now it's all become clear. Honest.
For various reasons, the group paid a visit to this thriving metropolis,
and helped prevent the Boat Race from being sabotaged. Shewey has a girl-friend
(he hopes), and Quagg has the start of his business empire (he hopes).
Alane has a trollkin (don't ask). And they've met Shewey's family: at least,
his Vingan aunt and Humakti uncle.
During the trip they dropped in on the Poss clan, both coming and going.
And got into an argument with some Greydogs. And were very confused by
Alane, after some discussion, decided that Vingan training and initiation
sounded good. By a strange coincidence, so did some NPCs: approximately
one per player. So Shewey's little sister Maggie, a fairly sane Marshedge
lass, a girl from the Poss clan who's given up on her useless brothers,
and Alane's trollkin all went off to Tarthcaer,
were tested for entry, got trained, and did their initiation quest. Yes,
we now have a Vingan Duck and a Vingan trollkin. And they've met various
NPCs, both the tutors and others in training, who they may or may not bump
into again in the future. (Look, the idea of a Pol-Joni Vingan wasn't mine,
OK? But you can blame me for the healer's daughter who keeps apologising
when she hurts people, and will obviously never amount to anything as a
Meanwhile the lads, feeling bored and knowing that the one half-way competent
Poss member was on her way to Tarthcaer, went and nicked some cows. Well,
a lot of the clan went, actually. It looked like a good chance to show
off. At least, until they all got lost in the excessive amount of Mist
someone called up :(
Having brought back amazing wealth from Duck Point, they jumped at the
chance to escort the clan Healer to the big temple at Runegate for her
holy day celebrations. And what happened there won't make much sense until
I've got the Trickster's Tale written up, I'm afraid. They bumped into
one of Quagg's former victims.
And there we stopped for a bit. We went back to someone else's campaign
for a while, then started doing sword-training on what was our regular