Several themes permeate this epic. You should not state these openly. They are long-term, ongoing challenges to the adventurers as they work their way through the end times of their world. They should be revealed through events, not didactic lectures or moralizing.
THIS IS YOUR LIFE
Early events in the campaign need to establish the everyday reality of the adventurers’ lives. Events are important at the personal and local level. Through play you should establish cultural norms, personal priorities, family and group relationships, friends and enemies, short- and long-term goals and otherworld connections. Rather than reward the adventurers with easily fungible coins, give them land and herds, rights and responsibilities. Ground them in the material reality of the setting, even as the campaign enters into mythic realms and magical conflict.
Always play the campaign from these perspectives. Keep the players focused on their characters’ priorities.
It is from this personal level that the campaign will take its epic scope.
THE OLD WORLD IS OVER
The adventurers live in a realm that is rapidly changing. It begins small and gets larger by degrees. The adventurers are concerned with their personal priorities first, and then these may work with or conflict with their social group. Then these may work with or against their social priorities; then their cultural norms; then their cosmic realities.
As more time passes each of these levels of truth may come into conflict. And in fact, old priorities will change.
THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM
The Hero Wars initially appears to be a simple conflict between the expansionist Lunar Empire and traditional Orlanthi in Sartar. Such initial understandings are deceptive – the Hero Wars are a many-faceted conflict between the gods and Chaos, between two antagonists who are their respective Shadows, between the Elder Races and humanity, and a renewal of the ancient wars between Nysalor-Gbaji and Arkat. Sworn enemies will find themselves fighting side-by-side against former friends. Long-held sacred truths will be exposed to be untrue, and new truths unveiled.
This complexity might only reveal itself after many sessions of play.
CONFLICT REVERBS ON MANY LEVELS
In Glorantha, the maxim “as above, so below” applies to most things. This is shorthand to explain the interaction between the gods and individual people. Everyone in Glorantha has associations which cause influence between the individual and the gods and these influences are always acting. The Glorantha Runes are one way of understanding this maxim. Thus, a feud between two tribes may echo ancient conflicts between gods, and peace between individuals may require re-enacting an ancient myth. Similarly, conflicts between communities may parallel and embody the larger conflicts of the Hero Wars.
YOU MAY BECOME YOUR WORST ENEMY
Each of us have our own “shadow” – that unconscious part of ourselves that remains with us although we consciously reject it. In Glorantha, this is cosmically true as well. In the Hero Wars, characters may find themselves embracing their shadows in order to survive; some heroquests, most notably the Lightbringers Quest, requires the participants to do so.
During the course of the campaign, traditionalist Orlanthi may find themselves accepting Illumination and working with Lunar deities, and devout Lunars may find themselves working with rebel Orlanthi to destroy the Red Moon itself.
Note that the month and year of this post are correct, just not the date.