# An Age of Bronze
Glorantha is firmly set in the ancient world, or even prehistory. It is for the most part a Bronze Age setting, characterized by: the ubiquity of bronze, instead of iron, as the primary metal; by writing as the preserve of a narrow professional elite (such as the Lhankor Mhy cult); and by the flourishing of urban civilizations (such as Nochet, Boldhome, and Furthest).
Kinship groups or city-states are the usual form of social organization; a chieftain, king, queen, or other supreme authority holds power. A common form of leadership is the ring, whether tribal, clan, or city, usually made up of elders or powerful individuals within the community. The ruler is usually a priestly figure as well, and priest-kings are the norm in much of Glorantha. The gods and their rival cults actively engage in the day-to-day lives of their followers. However, most gods are complementary, and rarely oppose each other directly. Only the gods of Power are actively antagonistic; and only within their own spheres of interest. Most Gloranthan societies are polytheistic and recognize multitudes of gods. Religions rarely proselytize.
Temples are usually the most powerful institution in any community in Glorantha, and provide training in magic, knowledge, and skills, as well as usually becoming second homes to their cult members. These temples are often guarded by mystic spirits called wyters, semi-divine beings connected magically to the chief priest or priestess in attendance.
Unlike some fantasy settings, there is no alignment, as such. People have loyalties to nations, cities, religions, and tribes, not to abstract concepts. Instead, each adventurer belongs to the cult of their people by birth, social position, or occupation: the notion of ‘conversion’ makes little sense to most Gloranthans. One can leave one’s cult or join another, but one rarely completely abandons old gods for new; far more common is to add a new god to the existing multitude. It is also possible for people within the game to survive quite well with no allegiances whatsoever, except to themselves.
However, despite its similarities with Earth’s own Bronze Age, Glorantha is very much a magical and fantastic world. Demigods as powerful as regiments of soldiers transform battlefields in ways that have no equivalent to warfare in our ancient world. The Lunar Empire has magical weapons such as a colossal flying Chaos demon that devours entire armies, and units of magicians who can call down comets to devastate their foes. Dragon Pass is dominated by Kero Fin Mountain, which at nearly 12 kilometers high (7 miles) is far taller than Mount Everest and looks more like a needle than a mountain. There are sleeping dragons many kilometers in length that locals have long mistaken for strange ranges of hills. There are talking ducks and baboons, flying bulls, sentient fish, and numerous immortal beings and races. Buildings and statues are often brightly (even garishly) painted. The landscape is dotted with the ruins of previous human civilizations, and even the ruins of ancient God Time places.
Bronze itself is most commonly made when redsmiths mix copper and tin, though it can also be mined directly from the bones of the gods that died in the Gods War, which provide a particularly pure form of the metal. It is used throughout the civilized world and whenever a Gloranthan item is made of metal not otherwise characterized, it is made of bronze. Bronze armor is as much about displaying status as it is about protection. Other metals such as lead, gold, silver, and quicksilver have magical properties of their own, and may be made into weapons or armor. The most important and prized metal, however, is iron, which may be found as treasure, given as a valuable gift, or bought or stolen from the dwarfs—it cannot be mined or made by humans. Untempered iron can make it difficult to cast magic, and carrying it reduces the chance magic can affect someone wearing or bearing it. Certain of the Elder Races are vulnerable to iron, as iron weapons cause them additional harm.
Pure metal items can be enchanted, and these Rune metal items may have inherent magical properties.
# What is Glorantha
Widely considered one of the greatest fantasy settings of all time, Glorantha has influenced works like A Game of Thrones, The Elder Scrolls, and Warcraft. Over 50 years old, the world of Glorantha is one of gaming’s deepest, most enduring, and most influential fantasy creations.
It’s been the setting of several board games, many RPGs (most notably RuneQuest (opens new window)), and two popular computer games. The Guide to Glorantha (opens new window) crowdfunding campaign raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Glorantha is a singularly unique setting. You won’t find the standard fantasy tropes of knights, wizards, halflings, and elves here. Instead, the heroes are Bronze Age warriors and mystics, all of whom can cast their own personal magic and can enter the realm of the gods, reenact myths and even change them, and become gods themselves.
There are hideous Chaos monsters, mysterious Elder Races, and even talking ducks. But what makes Glorantha special is how it intertwines the personal, spiritual, and mythical. No other fantasy world has so much mythological resonance or inherent thematic impact.
If you can become a god, what does it mean to be human? If the enemy is your own shadow, no more or less evil than you, then can you ever truly conquer them? Or are you just fighting your own reflection?