Crimson Petals

In which the smaller knifey stabby GM says some stuff about actually writing for Chaosium.

Caution: (marked) spoilers below.

How we wrote this game

The very early concepts and ideas of Crimson Petals, which at that point had a different name, are back a year and more of scroll in Discord. As far as I, Diana, recall, Dom Twist suggested learning to GM and write a game by doing it with him, but with much more generous wording. We bashed through the main ideas, and then I created a text file and wrote things up so that he could read the text file and run it, and I co-GMed the game, meaning that when there was a main plot that didn’t have everyone in, I’d go around the electronic table, making sure everyone else had something to do. Then I did the writing again – writing comes easily to me – and hacked it until we had something we could send in to Chaosium. It was at that point mostly as it is in the book.

Why we wrote this game

Well, we both love Glorantha. I’m a very experienced GM who had until now preferred rules-light systems, but I’m a complete convert to Runequest: Glorantha. However, at that point I had been playing for a few months and knew I didn’t have the knowledge to build a scenario that was thematic and would work well with the ruleset. However, Dom had been RPGing in Runequest since he was a small GM and his knowledge of the underlying concepts is strong. He manages this without ever pushing that knowledge in front of other people, but he is a fantastic support when you want to know if a set of social mores is appropriate, or if a Priestess might know a thing.

Why we wrote this game as it is

This is the bit with spoilers in.

We wanted to highlight the fact that Glorantha is all about community. When you have a sin that is covered, it breaks apart that community. Rastip is absolutely and completely guilty of secret murder and kinslaying, and even people who suspect this do not speak out. The community is rotten from within, even though on the surface it seems to be holding together. Morally, the Red Blotches may be a punishment, although they are brought by a very present nemesis. They are a tool of her revenge that is pulling the village apart, and to a great degree the village has already destroyed itself. It’s only a matter of time, and it’s all because of the honourless sins and the cover-up.

We also wanted to provide the adventurers with the opportunity for resolution that was not based on combat, if they wanted to go that way. This can be solved entirely without risk to the party, if the village can be persuaded to turn against Rastip, and the witch can be placated. Orate rolls would be important in that path. It can also be solved by killing the ghosts of Yeresta and Demel, but this ‘solution’ only allows the community to make their own decisions free from the addiction to the red flowers. Digging out the underlying problem requires a confrontation of some sort in the physical world as well.

Finally, we did not go with a path-to-resolution because we wanted as many adventurers as possible to be able to contribute. Healers and shamans are important in one sense, warriors and law-speakers in another. This is a terrible, horrendous situation and there is no ‘correct’ way of dealing with something like this. There are only outcomes that are better or worse. Ideally, by the end Rastip has paid for his crimes, the villagers who are guilty are penitent or punished, Ernalda is propitiated, and the ghosts are freed. The number of variables within any particular group means we wanted multiple ways of getting to each of these states. Dealing with any of these problems makes the situation better.

In the original playtest, Rastip was captured as he screamed that the child had never been his, mostly by the interventions of a Merchant and a Eurmalite. The village was not dissolved, but it had to return all the raided cattle and the village centre itself was moved to the Witch Cave, which is now the centre of Ernaldan worship. The next two Sacred Time rolls determined its fate completely. Omens were, frankly, terrible, but the Child Ring held their ground and demanded to be made adults of this village, and not any other, and held the place together, including helping to persuade the clans around them to give food and aid. The chief was replaced with his cousin.

The Pegasus Plateau is available from and at–Other-Stories?affiliate_id=205935 . If you want the hard copy as well as a PDF, then Chaosium will take the price of the PDF off the printed version when it is printed.

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