Mini-Review: The Pegasus Plateau and Other Stories

Chaosium have put out another adventure supplement for the new edition of RuneQuest – The Pegasus Plateau & Other Stories, which has a fairly similar form factor to The Smoking Ruin & Other Stories, though packing in seven adventures where that book collected three (with both books also including overviews of regions and communities).

As one might expect from that disparity, the adventures here tend towards shorter jaunts than the longer and more intricate offerings in The Smoking Ruin, as well as focusing on a somewhat different and more diffuse geographical region; the material here spans the northern parts of Sartar, a dip into Prax, and the border region between Sartar and Lunar Tarsh. Though the centre of gravity is still Dragon Pass, this selection takes the scope of adventuring a little bit outside that – with the dip into Prax, the other most-developed section of Glorantha, being the obvious next step in fleshing out the world within the context of the new edition. (Prax, home to Pavis and the Big Rubble, was the focus of Steve Perrin’s own RuneQuest campaign, just as Dragon Pass was Greg Stafford’s stomping gorund.)

The titular Pegasus Plateau is a fun little adventure which gives a distinctive Gloranthan flavour to the ol’ “get yourself a flying mount” quest; it also has some links to the Locaem, a newly-described tribe that gets its own mini-writeup here. It sets the tone for the adventures in this book – short and sweet, good either for a one-off game, or an interlude in an ongoing campaign, or as something to kick off a longer campaign.

The Grey Crane has the adventurers caught up in a tussle over some old adventuring artifacts; it has some editing issues, most particularly with the maps of one location simply not matching the descriptions, and with said descriptions not agreeing on whether a particular undead entity has been bound in the basement of the place in question for “centuries” or merely a dozen years or so. Textual evidence suggests the latter, so it’s not a huge issue, but it’s pretty clear that an older text was left only half-revised here.

Editing issues also strike in Helena Nash’s The Rattling Wind, an otherwise pretty good adventure about a community haunted by an arguably-justified crime from its recent past. Here, the page numbers are off, probably as a result of the adventure originally being put out as a free standalone PDF release to commemorate the first anniversary of Greg Stafford’s death. Crimson Petals is another “community haunted by an unacknowledged crime” story, though a different enough spin that if it’s run distant enough from Rattling Wind it shouldn’t feel too much like a do-over; it has some extensive fertility themes, what with the offences in question having outraged a fertility goddess this is to be expected, so referees should probably make sure their players are cool with this before going ahead.

The most substantial adventure here is Gloomwillow’s Hollow – mostly because in addition to the child-saving adventure itself, it also provides a mini-gazeteer of the Woods of the Dead, a place of great peril which could be the focus of an entire campaign following on from the action of the adventure if the PCs try to tackle the mystery of the Gloom that overshadows it and the corrupt ruler who exists at its heart.

The last two adventures are The Pairing Stones – the aforementioned dip into Prax and a potentially more light-hearted affair – and The Ruin On the Stream. This latter one could potentially give your PCs a real cognitive hand grenade – an insight into the secret knowledge of the Empire of Wyrm’s Friends which could have major ramifications however they use it – or be a total dud, depending on your PCs’ interests; it’s structured enough around a particular set of activities that I suspect that, without extensive referee additions and improvisation, PCs who simply do not have that much investment in the relevant skills will find it frustrating. The book is rounded off with Renekot’s Hope, a description of a small village in the border region between Tarsh and Dragon Pass, and therefore a great place to start your PCs off at if you want them to be torn between the Lunar and Sartarite causes right away.

On the whole, the collection feels like a more approachable version of The Smoking Ruin, and indeed I suspect this supplement was supposed to come out first – based on the catalogue numbers, and based on the fact that The Smoking Ruin‘s adventures tend to be substantially longer and complex, whereas The Pegasus Plateau errs towards adventures which are nicely bite-sized, and more approachable for new players and referees.

The editing issues I’ve highlighted above do seem like a black mark against Chaosium at this point. OK, I realise that proofreading your own material can be difficult, I realise that it’s become almost an industry standard at this point to put out the PDF first, use customer feedback to catch the last few typos, then send to print. But come on – the disparities here are the sort of thing which should have been caught trivially, on a first read-over of the complete text, and it falls well short of the standards Chaosium show on, say, their Call of Cthulhu products. Pull your socks up, do better, and actually do some professional editing work on your stuff rather than crowd-sourcing it, Chaosium.

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