Happy New Year!

I had posted up some past New Year’s blog posts, but I changed my mind. Rather than review the past year or even put out some goals of my own, I wanted to focus on an “Independent Creator Program”, the Jonstown Compendium, put out by Chaosium:

2023 has been a huge year for the Jonstown Compendium, our independent creator program for RuneQuest and Greg Stafford’s world of Glorantha at DriveThruRPG. Congratulations to the wonderful community of creators involved, and to everyone who has supported the program by buying products, and leaving ratings and reviews!

Since the Jonstown Compendium community content commenced in December 2019 there have been some 349 independently-created titles added, or an average of seven new titles every month!

And in October 2023 a highly significant milestone was achieved, with over 50,000 titles sold! This year alone, more than 80 new titles have been added! Thanks to our community creators we are truly living in a golden age of Glorantha!

Highlights of this extraordinary program include:

  • regularly topping the best seller lists at DriveThruRPG;
  • received critical praise from reviewers and customers alike;
  • winning several ENNIE and other awards;
  • the creation of a dedicated Storytelling Collective stream for first-time RuneQuest creators;
  • promoting new releases in the Chaosium blog’s regular Journey to Jonstown series, as well as promotion on BRP Central, EN World and RPGNet;
  • selling out at pop-up stores at conventions Chaosium attends including UK Games Expo, Dragonmeet, PAX Australia, and of course, Chaosium Con;
  • serving as a stepping stone to further work as a professional in the TTRPG industry, a prime example being Greg Stafford Memorial Award winner Katrin Dirim whose art graces the 2023 RuneQuest release The Prosopaedia;
  • and, most importantly of all, helping foster a growing and dynamic community of independent creators, each exploring Greg Stafford’s mythic universe in their own way, yet strongly supportive of each other in such groups as the Jonstown Compendium Creative Circle on Facebook.

Here’s to 2024: we can’t wait to see what is created!

And congratulations to the talented RuneQuest creators behind the Top 6 best-selling Jonstown Compendium titles released in 2023!

  1. Harald Smith, for NOCHET: QUEEN OF CITIES
  2. Ian A. Thomson & Friends, inc., Peter Johansson, R. Andrew Bean, John R. Hutchinson, Graeme Prowse, for OLD PAVIS: THE CITY THAT TIME FORGOT
  4. Simon Bray & Friends, inc., Nick Brooke, Mark Galeotti, Michael O’Brien, Chris Gidlow, for FURTHEST: CROWN JEWEL OF LUNAR TARS
  5. Nick Brooke, for CRIMSON KING
  6. Ian A. Thomson & Friends, inc, Mike Dawson, John Hughes, Vincent Jugie, Cristoph Koring, Mitch Lockhart, Sergio Mascarenhas, Erik Nolander, Soren Petersen, Simon E. Phipp, Graeme Prowse, Jeff Richard, Bo Rosen, Alban Schmid, Robert Wolfe, for PAVIS COUNTY & BEYOND: SECRETS OF THE BORDERLANDS.

For those that aren’t familiar, you can find the content guidelines HERE. and the user templates HERE.

This program has been running for a number of years, and it appears that the content output and quality are quite good. I’ve always been intrigued by RuneQuest and curious how large the player base might be. Did this community content increase RQ’s base? Is it just supporting the existing one? Is this a viable path forward for RMU, which needs game content to support the rules?

I’ll end this with another request to our readers. If you want to contribute to the Rolemasterblog, even 1 post a year, just let us know. We encourage and welcome a diverse range of ideas and creativity!

Have a great 2024!

Shadow World Creature Review: The Agothu.

A Overseer

One of the least utilized of Shadow World creatures are those that dwell “Beyond the Pale”. Known as the Agothu, they seem to have appeared in the “Atlas Addendum” found in the Emer box set. I’m going to write more about the addendum in a separate blog, but in my mind, it’s where much of the essence of Shadow World was set down after a number of generic third party SW modules.

The Agothu, or “Older Ones” are very reminiscent of the Cthulhu mythos: indescribable extra-dimensional beings of terrifying appearance and power. They are brought full-fold into the setting by at least the Master Atlas 3rd Ed. (anyone have 2nd edition to check?) with some changes and expansion from the original Addendum material. Generally, these creatures come in two types: Agothu and Agothu Servants (also known as Destroyers) although it’s not given that an Agothu is more powerful or higher level then a servant. In fact, several of the Destroyers are formidable…

Terry expanded the creatures by adding a Agothu (Breathless) and increasing the Destroyers from 5 to 7. Interestingly, one of the Destroyers, the “Nof-Kef” was eliminated in later books. If I recall, the Nof-kef was specific to the third party module “The Orgillion Horror” and it appears that Terry struck that creature out of Canon quite early? My own impression is that the Agothu were added in the Atlas Addendum to incorporate the material in Orgillion, but Terry then embraced it and made the Agothu his own.

Unfortunately, he never really incorporated the Agothu into his later material. There is a mention in the Grand Campaign, but aside from that, the Agothu are only used in reference to Shrek.

A Tresh

That’s unfortunate because the Older Ones are yet another cool element that makes Shadow World a unique setting and not another Orc/Skeleton/Dragon fantasy world. Agothu are between 5th and 30th level so they can be incorporated into any campaign. Agothu are also an example of Terry’s creativity and feature some of his most descriptive writing.

For example:.

are vaguely humanoid, but their
oversized heads are little more than skulls. Their bodies are covered
by a skin like grey parchment, dry and peeling
. Their large,
claw-like hands are skeletal. Their eyes show moisture, however,
oozing a bloody liquid as they move in their sockets.

Or this:

They are covered by tough,
toenail-like protrusions, which form a scaly skin. Life Eaters have
beaks instead of mouths, surrounded by an array of eight squidlike
tentacles, tipped with hollow spines. They have four eyes in
the front and four in the rear of their elliptical skull. Four ears
crown their heads, each protected by a bony tusk. Their four arms
end in four-fingered talons.

Imagine your players encountering this fella:

are vaguely anthropoid, with a certain ‘melted’ look.
Closer inspection reveals a tripedal rather than bipedal structure,
with skin pulsing with external veins and arteries. Their
feet are mere stumps, and their three long arms each end in three
strong tentacles, each equipped with a row of powerful suction
cups with sharp serrated rims. The head is no more than a
neckless ovoid punctured by three nostrils and three unblinking

This is really the stuff of nightmares and in line with the grim dark feel of the Emer: The Great Continent. At this risk of being redundant I’ll say that it’s this Shadow World specific content that brings the setting to life.

Tell us about any of your Agothu encounters!