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The Corn Dolls & Fortunate Sun: Sandheart Volume Two
Publisher: Chaosium
by Evan F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/21/2020 09:42:42

This is a review of Sandheart Volume Two, in its revised form (spoiler, it builds on the great value of the original and develops into a truly superior product).

Sandheart has rightly become a phenomenon and trendsetter for Jonstown Compendium. This is the second volume of the (so far) three part sequence which creates a new corner of Glorantha, firmly built on the foundations previously laid, but allows a GM and players to go someplace outside of the bounds of the official publications to (though it seems hardly possible) someplace more weird, more madcap, more wild and a bit more rock and roll. Beyond providing solid value in its main scenario, the Corn Dolls further developed the wild frontier of Sandheart, a poor outlying settlement without the harsh and glorious Sun County of Prax, adjacent to the Zola Fel River Valley and in the neighborhood of the city of Pavis and the ancient Rubble.

Sandheart has a wonderful and trendsetting product history as well. The first volume was one of the first products on Jonstown, and it provided the foundation for a unique and exciting campaign. Volume Two (this product in its original form) added to it and gave another great adventure with mystery, mythic significance and action. Then, building on those successes, Volume Three came out with the all the skill in adventure and world design in tact, and the ability to increase the production values.

Then a curious and wonderful thing happened. The authors invested in the product, not just going forward, but looking back. Volume One was remastered with new content and art (a free upgrade for the original purchasers) and that tradition carries forward for Volume Two. This is now a great product made even better with vastly increased and improved art, design, cartography and content. An entirely new scenario is added in. If, like me, you bought the original, this miraculous new version is yours already!

If you have not purchased this, you are still in luck. This wonderful product has hours of adventure in two scenarios, and hours more in the expansion to the base setting from Volume One. Get Volume Three and pray for a Volume Four, because these are classics and master classes in how to put together your corner of Glorantha. Your Glorantha Will Vary, and we can only hope to do things as wild, wonderful, gonzo and glorious as Sandheart.

Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Corn Dolls & Fortunate Sun: Sandheart Volume Two
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Men of the West
Publisher: Chaosium
by Evan F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2020 14:54:17

Men of the West is the companion volume to the (currently) Electrum Best Seller The Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass, both by Martin Helsdon. The first volume was an incredible collection of information useful for understanding the various military forces in the Central Genertela region of the fantasy world of Glorantha, and provided background and information useful in running any campaign in the era of the Hero Wars (the driving worldwide event at the close of the Third Age of Glorantha). Even if you never plan to run a military themed campaign or have any characters with military background, the book is extremely helpful because of its discussion of technology, organization and the impact of military operations on societies (those they come from and those they fight). It is the kind of book that Jonstown Compendium especially permits to be successful. It is highly unlikely that a deep work of fantasy military and social science can take a spot in the limited publication schedule for Chaosium to support the three main systems (RuneQuest, HeroQuest (Questworlds) and 13th Age Glorantha); but as a wonderfully written and presented fan work, it is a must have for any serious student of Glorantha and GM running games in the Hero Wars.

Men of the West rises to the occaision of the brilliance of the first volume, and gives us more of the same for the important military traditions of Western Genertela. While heavily examining the Western Monotheist cultures of various Malkioni sects, including their religious, magical and military traditions, it also explores the many groups vying throughout Seshnela, Fronela, Ralios and Slontos, all areas with deep Malkioni influence, but not always dominance, to give an even more complete picture of technologies, practices and military science. It is brilliant and, again, in my view, an essential reference.

Mr. Helsdon has again done meticulous work in his text, which is scholarly, but not pedantic. He communicates his points and his prose is easy to read. The volume is liberally illustrated with evocative artwork of soldiers, warriors, shamans and wizards, as well as mounts, equipment and ships. The artwork very effectively and appealingly gives us insight into what a typical individual might have, might carry, might look like, and these illustrations are a very useful supplement to the official artwork that helps visualize an imaginary place with very real, concrete and relatable details. The meticulous illustrations provided in the first volume, The Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass, became essential reference points for me after I bought it, and so too for Men of the West. The day I bought it, I was referring to an illustration of a Janubian Penteconter to help visualize and tell my story to my players.

The information is also incredibly gameable. There are story hooks, and information to enhance thousands of games contained in the pages. I am deeply grateful for the publication of this work. The focus of Glorantha publication has always been Dragon Pass and Prax, from the first release of White Bear, Red Moon, RuneQuest and Nomad Gods. However, as the amazing Guide to Glorantha shows, Glorantha is so much bigger, stranger and more interesting than the already fascinating heartland of central Genertela. I have started to work on games set in Fronela, and this work, covering the West of Genertela helps in so many ways. Even if your characters will never set foot in the West, however, Genertela in the late Third Age is alive with travel, commerce, and. always, magic. Westerners are and will come east to explore, trade and participate in the Hero Wars' struggle between Prince Argrath and the Lunar Empire. There is so much here in this work, you will find many things to support your imagination and interaction with Glorantha!

I know Mr. Helsdon has publicly said this likely exhausts his ability to assemble works as the premier military scientist of Glorantha, because other areas such as Kralorela, Teshnos, the East Ilses of Vithela, the forbidden isle of Vormain, and the vast continent of Pamaltela with its many cultures, nations and traditions are all too little described and so far too difficult to link to real life cultural and military traditions (especially for Bronze and Early Iron Ages) to generate another volume. However, this work shows how capable he is of piecing together the elements in published sources and adding in his own research, imagination and genious to form a coherent picture (and a well illustrated one of that) of cultures, traditions and militaries that live only in our minds. I hope that when the official Kralorela book, announced as under development now, is released by Chaosium, Mr. Helsdon will again bring his considerable talents to bear on the venerable martial traditions of the East of Genertela. Whether there will be material to go beyond that, I don't know, but I can hope.

Until then, I hope that his imaginative and artistic talents will turn to other under developed aspects of Glorantha to fill the gaps of official publications and continue to expand our knowledge about and enjoyment of Glorantha, one of the greatest fantasy worlds ever conceived!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Men of the West
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Creator Reply:
Hi Evan, Thank you for your comments. Kralorela is already being covered by another Jonstown Compendium title by another author, and with an official book in production (I don't know its status), there is too high a possibility with duplicating/contradicting other published material. Any book on the East might cover Teshnos, Melib, Trowjang, Kralorela and Ignorance, and by rights, the Kralorelan section should be the largest - but the region I might be most comfortable with at present is Teshnos/Melib... It's always necessary to find a balance between terrestrial equivalents for Glorantha, because there is no exact correspondence. Vormain and the East Isles by rights should have their own book, and the best source for Vormain is perhaps, in addition to the Guide, the AH era Land of Ninja... It's not so much a matter of too little description in official books, but that I would be wary of expanding upon them and would not want to simply rewrite existing material. Whilst the focus of both this book and The Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass is upon the military, in both cases it proved necessary to attempt dive more deeply than anticipated into their societies, cultures, and religions. I hope this makes the books more generally useful than if they were just army books. As I researched and wrote this book, I found the West more and more interesting. What had been intended as a fifty page supplement, grew to more than 130K words... The conceit used in these books, that they are written long after the Hero Wars, means that it is possible to present the material in such a way that there is wriggle room for reader and author, and sometimes questions are posed that might inspire scenarios.
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume One
Publisher: Chaosium
by Evan F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/25/2020 13:13:09

Volume One (of Three so far) of Sandheart is just what it advertises itself as, a sandbox campaign setting, but it is more than that too. This is especially true of the Remastered Edition which adds to and enhances the original publication in every way. Tales of the Sun County Militia was one of the first offerings on the Jonstown Compendium, and it filled a perfect niche of giving an underdeveloped corner of Glorantha, adjacent to the big players of Prax, Sun County, Pavis and the Big Rubble, a spotlight, and a special place to play a campaign or a one shot. It explores the rigid Solar religious culture practiced by the farmer-soldiers of Yelmalio, in a particularly backwater rural area surrounded by dangers and threats on the fringes of Sun Country and exposed to the plains of Prax. The original offering gave backgrounds, locations and an adventure to get you started. The art, layout and overall presentation was acceptable for a fan publication.

Here, in the remastered eddition, which was upgraded at no extra cost to the early adopters, goes above and beyond the original vision. Additional background material, and dozens of pieces of new, evocative and suitably Mad Max meets 300 entertaining art that just makes you fall in love with this part of Glorantha again. This is an inspirational work, which allows for hours and hours of play, shows how to make Glorantha your own (because always, Your Glorantha Will Vary), and lays a template for others to follow in making their own corners in which to campaign in Glorantha.

The materials are aimed at the most recent edition RuneQuest mechanically, but the sandbox and stats are easily transferrable to playing this in HeroQuest/Questworlds or 13th Age Glorantha (or into your homebrew system, whether you are using Tunnels & Trolls, World of Darkness or some other of your favorite system). This supplement is a gift that keeps on giving, and is an affordable campain starter in a PDF.

Happily, it does not end there, because there are two more offerings for Sandheart when you finish with this one, and the sequel, Corn Dolls, is receiving the Remastered treatment as we speak. I congratulate all involved, and I congratulate you if you decide to buy the product. I think you will be well pleased!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume One
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The Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass
Publisher: Chaosium
by Evan F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/06/2019 08:23:23

This is a preliminary review, after excitedly flipping through the PDF and stopping to read sections and snippits as well as admiring the many maps, charts and amazingly helpful illustrations.

I think my best word for this is magisterial.

While this is not an "official" publication for Glorantha, it is probably the most definitive work we may ever see on the militaries of central Genertela. Author Martin Helsden has created a reference work on the militaries in the pivotal area of the magic and mythical world of Glorantha for a period know for war, the Hero Wars! It collects from numerous official and semi-official sources of Gloranthan lore and synthesizes those with information from real world historical sources in order to imagine what soldiers, tactics and battle is like in a world where magic is common and the power of gods is manifest.

This is one of the greates love letters to Glorantha from a fan we have seen. It is so packed with ideas, story hooks, background and imagination, that it can find service in numerous campaigns to come, set in Glorantha, or even in other worlds inspired by how magic, myth, technology and culture might interact in a bronze age style fantasy world.

It is probably not the first book about Glorantha you give someone, unless they are really into military history (particularly fantasy military history), but if you are going to explore any part of the "war" part of the Hero Wars in a campaign set in Glorantha, particularly in Dragon Pass, but really, almost anywhere on the continent of Genertela (though hey Martin, can we have one of these for the Far East of Genertela?), this is an essential work to help someone think about what warfare means in a world of bronze, magic and myth. Wondering about battlefield tactics, or logistics, or military ranks? Martin Helsdon already has you covered. He has an answer and at least a starting place, if not an entirely described system! Maybe you want to tweak things. This is still the place to start, and as always, Your Glorantha Will Vary (YGWV!)

I have to make a special comment about the art in the book, particularly the many extremely useful and beautiful drawings done of soldiers and equipment done by Helsdon. He has been sharing his artistic process for literally years on various social media platforms, and the finished product is amazing. There are hundreds of illustrations of what warriors and their equipment look like from many different cultural, social and religious backgrounds in the areas of Genertela covered by the book. It is staggaring, and again, a labor of love. It is something that helps make things highly concrete and allows for a 21st Century gamer to more fully realized and understand what it means to be a warrior, a soldier, or an adventurer in bronze age Glorantha. The art does not limit our imagination, but instead opens it to the possibilities, making the "undiscovered country" of Glorantha into a real place for us to visit at our gaming tables, in our writings, in our imaginations.

I will be reading this cover to cover, but just as I have survey through it in the few days since buying it, I have leared a great deal and found nothing but fun and amazement between the covers of this book.

If you love Glorantha or if you have any interest in what a very smart and imaginative person sees as how warfare would work in a fantasy bronze age world, you MUST have this book.

Thank you Martin Helsdon; I salute you!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass
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Creator Reply:
Hi Evan, Thank you for your kind comments. The West of Genertela is partially covered, as there are many Western mercenaries, and many troop types found there are included in the book, but the notes I have for Seshnela, Fronela and the Kingdom of War amount to only a half-dozen pages, and so it isn't possible, at present, to cover those regions in sufficient detail. Limiting the geographical spread of the book to Central Genertela gave fairly manageable borders to work within. If I had included what I have on the West, it would immediately pose the question: what about the East? The East is more problematic, both because I don't have access to very much material other than what is in The Guide to Glorantha, and because I know even less about ancient warfare in the terrestrial East. To do the East justice will have to research a great deal more on the topic.
Looks like my next project bar one, will be the West, but don't expect it for a while. A&EoDP took three years to write and illustrate...
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