An Adventure Per Year: Omenakuja (1988)

In my A Game Per Year project, my goal has been to read one roleplaying game corebook for every year they’ve been published. However, I soon started to feel that it was hard to decipher how the games were really meant to be played. For this reason, I decided to start a parallel project, An Adventure Per Year, to read one roleplaying adventure for each year they’ve been published.

The cover of the Finnish edition of Apple Lane, Omenakuja

When I was a child and just discovering roleplaying games, I took them very seriously. In game stores, I often saw the cover of the RuneQuest adventure Apple Lane, published in Finnish as Omenakuja, with the armored duck. It offended me deeply. Surely fantasy had no place for armored ducks! They were too silly!

I still take my roleplaying games very seriously but I’ve come to appreciate the duck. I’ve come to believe that many games benefit from having a duck in them, or something that fulfills a similar function.

Omenakuja is an introductory adventure set in Glorantha. It has a tagline, “Save the Hamlet from Scurrilous Scoundrels” which was translated into the even more amazing “Pelastakaa kylä karvaisilta roistoilta”.

It features setting information on the town of Omenakuja and two short adventures. One of the things I really like is the lived in, human feel of the writing. It feels like these are real people with ordinary foibles, dreams and disappointments. A cut above a lot of the other roleplaying material I’ve read from this era.

The first adventure involves the characters defending the local pawnbroker from baboons. It has an interesting tactical design where the players are asked to make a defensive plan without telling the GM what it is, and then GM then directs the baboons and their allies in their effort to find the tooth they’re looking for. The defensive efforts of the players are further complicated by the way their compensation is tied to how many rooms the baboons manage to penetrate in the pawnbroker’s house.

In the other adventure, the characters try to kill a bandit leader in his home caves. It’s a more traditional design, complicated by the possibility of finding local allies in the caves. Here too the lived-in feel makes the enemies and allies appear slightly more three-dimensional than just “three orcs guarding a chest”.

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