The Marshedge campaign

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 doing.

Why the Marshedge?

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.
  1. They were founded by a woman
  2. 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 effective.


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.

The PCs

And then we get on to the Ducks.....

What's happened so far?


They've all done the Heort's Path quest, and come through IFWW with flying colours. 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.

An Interlude

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.

Duck Point

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 dragonnewts.


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 result.)

Cattle raids

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 gaming night.

Copyright © 1998 Jane Williams