Welcome to a new issue of the Journal of Runic Studies, the premier Malkioni publication for studies into the nature of Glorantha. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please consult with the spirit bound to the appropriate electronic page.

God Learner Sorcery

Here is what us God Learners were up to this week.

A Year of RuneQuest Fun

I wrote a short (sort of) summary of my RuneQuest campaign so far. It starts with a tragedy, features many illegal shenanigans, much heroquesting, and some unexpected turns.

We started in 1611 with 10-year old characters being in-over-their-heads at Gamla’s Leap. The world comes crashing down around them and they join or return to the Bachad Tribe, in flames. Using some half-assed rules for playing a “kids on bisons” campaign, we went through some year-by-year adventuring, with quite a few vignettes and short scenes in between to punctuate daily Orlanthi life in the Far Place.

Give it a read and tell me what you think!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The White Bull Campaign

Episode 2 of the new season is out! I haven’t watched this yet, I’m still catching up on James’ “A New Hero” game….

Jonstown Compendium

The Jonstown Compendium is Chaosium’s community content program for all Gloranthan games, hosted on DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer: all the relevant links are affiliate links that hopefully will let us cover some of the hosting and maintenance costs for the website and podcast! Thanks for using them!

Pirates of the East Isles Update

© 2022 Scott Crowder & Chaosium Inc.

Scott Crowder’s “Pirates of the East Isles” has been updated with a better layout, a whole bunch of new artwork by Simon Bray, some NPC portrait tokens, and more!

Note that I did some of the art in this book! I don’t know if that makes you want to buy it more or less but hey, at least you know!

Duckpac’s SoloQuest is Coming

© 2022 LEGION Games & Chaosium Inc.

Book 3 of the Duckpac series, which will contain a duck-tastic SoloQuest, is apparently almost ready to go out!

Jeff’s Notes

Jeff Richard, the current mastermind on everything Gloranthan at Chaosium, is often posting notes and thoughts on the RuneQuest Facebook group. Here’s our curated list from the past week. A partial archive of these sources is compiled on the Well of Daliath.

Skyfall Lake

Skyfall Lake is a large lake located north of Sartar. You can see it on this Argan Argar Atlas map below next to the major troll settlement of Crabtown:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff’s note on Skyfall Lake, and his choice of references, gives a good idea of the place:

Skyfall Lake is remarkable place. The lake itself is at 1150 meters elevation and is about 17 km long and 10 km wide, nestled beneath 2200 meter high Black Dragon Mountain. To the west of the lake is an 8 km wide belt of marshlands.

Above the lake is a perpetual rainstorm, a waterfall from the Sky River. Monsters, treasures, and other entities from the Celestial Realm are known to fall down occasionally into the lake, where trolls try to fish or dredge them out.

Here’s Jeff’s video reference — imagine this rainfall, but stuck in one place, forever.

Note that this rainfall, and the lake underneath, are the main source for the “River” part of the Creek-Stream-River that flows through Sartar, all the way to Nochet. This is also the main holy place for Engizi, the Skyriver Titan, one of the few notable water deities of Sartarite Orlanthi, along with Heler, which is somewhat related too.

Within the lake are monsters – water wyrms, sea serpents, whales, etc., far too massive and many to be supported by the lake’s ecology. Many speculate that they enter the lake from the Gods Realm.

I figure that these monsters “too massive and many to be supported by the lake’s ecology” not only enter the lake from the Gods Realm but also exit it — otherwise they would accumulate over time and that would lead to obvious problems. But more importantly, it means that, assuming you’re crazy enough and can hold your breath for a long time, you might be able to ride one of those monsters and physically end up in the Gods Realm! For bonus points, you can get swallowed by a monsters and spat out once there!

The lake is incredibly deep. Far deeper than our Lake Baikal, and in places bottomless. There is widely rumored to be a city of Chaos below, kept at bay by the water and the endless rain.

Underwater city of Chaos! That sounds like an awesome place to visit! But more seriously, this is thematically appropriate since one of the big things about water deities is that one of their main shtick is to fight Chaos by trying to drown it or wash it away. That’s what the Good Canal is trying to do at the Block in Prax (wash away the Devil’s body underneath), and what Magasta’s whirlpool is trying to do at the centre of the world (fill up the hole left behind when the Spike shattered, and prevent Chaos from creeping back in). The sad thing is that it never seems to work.

I often imagine it as being kind of comparable to Lake Tahoe, although Tahoe is about twice the size of Skyfall Lake. Still Tahoe is a good reference for ideas:

In winter, all that rain coming down results in vast snow falls throughout the eastern Far Place and the Stinking Forest.

Dunstop

Jeff expanded on his previous note on Dunstop with this one, featuring more information and sketches:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Besides some generic (but useful!) information on the city layout, its surroundings, and its history, there’s this interesting bit:

The Lunars tried to deal with Orlanth worship in a lot of ways in Tarsh. The big thing was the Seven Mothers – think like the Spanish missions. The Seven Mothers is THE key institution to stabilizing the Lunar Provinces. So you get a nice temple built, a bunch of priestesses assigned there, soldiers to protect it, and the local rulers are told to cooperate with them. Some of the locals embraced the Seven Mothers, others retreated into Earth worship.

Jeff then shares the cult distribution in the overall Lunar Tarsh. The takeaway is that Ernalda and The Seven Mothers both have ~25% of the adult population, while Orlanth only has ~15%. Hon-eel is at ~10%, so that’s 25% of the population actively initiated into Lunar cults! And it’s very possible that, although half of the Ernalda cultists might be married to Orlanth cultists, the other half is probably married to Lunar cultists…

I suppose that the Orlanth cult is a major cult but far from having much power anymore. I picture a big chunk of these Orlanth cultists as being Orlanth Thunderous/Barntar farmers who stay out in the fields (Jeff specifies that “Orlanth worship is largely subsumed into Barntar cult in Lunar dominated areas“) The power centres, such as cities and tribal towns, probably have a bias towards Lunar, pro-Lunar, or neutral cults. After all The Seven Mothers is “hostile” towards the Orlanth cult, so there’s bound to be a lot of bias and discrimination. It took generations and a couple of civil wars, but the Lunars eventually Lunarized Tarsh, right?

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

By the way, Jeff added a nice short description of each Tarshite city:

Each Tarshite city has a very different vibe – unlike in Sartar (who built all the cities but Alda-Chur and Alone), the Tarshite cities developed separately.

– Bagnot – the old religious/political center of the Tarsh tribe, and home of the Twins Dynasty.
– Dunstop – agricultural center, tied in with the Earth Religion.
– Talfort – fortified border town. Goldedge – a Sun Dome temple.
– Slavewall – fortified border town and trading center
– Bjorni’s Landing – main river crossing and trading center
– Furthest – planned imperial city

The Fall of the Great Empires

Jeff reminds us that all the great fallen empires of Glorantha weren’t originally bad:

The Broken Council, God Learners, Empire of the Wyrms Friends, and the Lunar Empire all shared the same progression of endless new possibilities and optimistic enthusiasm that later becomes overtaken by ambitious power-seeking, cynical opportunism, and angry resentment. This progression is never quick, and often takes many generations. But there is something in mortal existence that subjects even the brightest of movements to the entropy of Time.

So when we complain about decadence of the God Learners or the EWF, remember that they too were once bright and filled with endless possibilities!

Jeff adds a bit more to this, including what brings these empires to ruins, from a conceptual point of view. But ultimately I don’t think any of this is really useful for games set in the Third Age, except when it comes to designing some incredible-looking EWF ruin full of wonderful and scary things, or encountering echoes of the God Learners’ research while heroquesting or digging through old tablets. As far as the Third Age factions go, none of them have this facet of “bright, endless possibilities”. The Lunar Empire arguably has the latter, but not the former.

The First Council

Speaking of Fallen Empires, the First Council gets a detailed write-up. I’m all confused though… I think this council also gets called “Unity Council” and “World Council of Friends” in various material.

As far as I can tell, this is the council that was created in the God Time just after the Sun was brought back from the Underworld. This is important because this is all in the short era between the Great Darkness and the Dawn, before Time began… so the gods were still around. And indeed, Jeff lists the following six members, from the various races and factions that survived the Great Darkness: Aram Ya-Udram (human Orlanthi boar-riding hero), The Only Old One (troll-ish darkness dude), Kyger Litor (ancestress and main deity of the trolls), The Speaking Wheel (possibly the last surviving member of the strange people known as the Gold Wheel Dancers), the Inhuman King (dragonewt demi-god), and Orlanth (storm god).

This list differs from the one in the Glorantha Sourcebook. It’s probably because the Sourcebook describes the council after the Dawn, when Time has begun and the gods are bound away from the mundane world. So Aram Ya-Udram, The Only Old One, and Speaking Wheel are still there, but the gods Kyger Litor and Orlanth are replaced by the elf Fwalfa Oakheart and the dwarf Martaler The Blazing Forge. The Inhuman King may or may not still be there: the Sourcebook lists a dragonewt named Heart of Weakness in its place, but given the reincarnation tricks and mental transference shenanigans of the dragonewts, who’s to say…

The Second Council

After the First Council came… the Second Council. I know, shocking. It looks like this one also gets called “High Council of Genertela” in some material. Because of course we need more names!

There is a lot of stuff to digest in this note and I ran out of time to annotate it. Honestly, I don’t find some of these old histories necessarily useful for my games anyway. But what I like are maps! And over on BRP Central, Jeff expands a bit on the High Council with this political map around 410 ST:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

[…] Greg and I played around with that era a LOT. It was a time of limitless opportunities, and Illumination opened wildly fantastic new vistas. New revelations and insights nearly overwhelmed the old, and seemingly impossible contradictions were laughed at. At least that is how those around Nysalor saw it. Further afield, the ambitious saw Nysalor as a vehicle to power and personal gratification. And beyond that, were those who “never got any spells, magic, insight, or especially good wages.” […]

One of the more interesting early maps is this political map of Central Genertela circa 410 ST. Note that Heortland (aka Dragon Pass and Esrolia), Saird, Delela, Slontos, and Saird are all marked as subjects. The Harandings and the Dwarfs are allies, as are Tandoor and Korion. Arolanit, the Enjorelli Tribes, Lankst, and Seshnela are all outside of the the High Council’s domination, as are the Trolls.

Seseine

Here’s a short note on Seseine, the Chaotic Goddess of Temptation. I can’t say I’m a big fan of what looks like a very Christian view on desire, passion, good, and evil… but hey, it’s here, and it will be in the upcoming Prosopaedia. Do what you will with it!

On Evil and Chaos

Speaking of Chaos:

Most creatures tainted by Chaos are simply evil. They tend to worship the gods of Chaos – the enemies of Creation – because no one else will take them. These entities are opposed by the gods, who uphold the cosmos as part of the Great Compromise. This isn’t just a Theyalan thing – no God Time deity untainted by Chaos is better than neutral towards Chaos; most are hostile or enemies. They have their stories as to why they are what they are, but in the end this is not a “misunderstanding” by the gods – beings such as Krarsht, Thanatar, Thed, Vivamort, etc. are evil..

The very life-cycles of many Chaotic creatures are corrupted in ways that most sentient beings find far more terrifying than mere man-eating trolls or alien dragonewts.

Jeff then gives a bunch of examples, briefly stating what makes the classic Chaos races tick.

And yet, there are those that claim that it need not always be like that. Nysalor taught that through Illumination our inherent fear of Chaos can be overcome – and also that the inherent hatred Chaotic beings have for existence can also be overcome. This is at the very core of the Red Goddess cult and is integral to the Lunar Way.

There are also stories of Chaotic creatures rejecting the Lords of Terror and seeking peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world. The fabled Cleansed Broo of the Rockwood Mountains, who devoted itself to Chalana Arroy is perhaps the best known, but there are of course others.

And thus even those tainted by Chaos have a possible depth, motivation, and the chance to be more than they are.

If you want more stuff on the topic, including a treatise on Chaos, ways to be consumed by it or be overcome by it, and some hopefully entertaining moral conundrum on Chaos, see my adventure “A Short Detour” on the Jonstown Compendium! It’s got several pages of my view on Chaos, way more than I could put here in this annotations.

Rural and Urban Kinship Ties

Jeff puts into context how tribes are spread between the rural hillbilly folk, the people in the tribal centre, and the people in cities such as the Confederation capital and Boldhome.

Let’s think about it this way. There are about 9600 people in the Cinsina tribe. 600 of them live in Jonstown, where they make up more than a quarter of the city’s population. Another 500 live in Boldhome. The rest are rural. Those who live in the cities are just as much members of their kinship groups as their rural cousins, but they also have ties to their guilds, their cults, and their cities that are often just as important or even more.

There’s also a mention about people travelling to big cities for important religious festivals and duties. With Lunar-occupied cities, people might have stayed in their village and refrained from travelling to urban centres, but this is changing after the Dragonrise:

Remember the scale of things in Sartar. A city is rarely going to be more than a long day’s trek away from any associated tribal settlement (and often just a few hours away). These are not Medieval English peasants, tied to the land, but free people used to moving around and traveling. The Lunar Occupation interfered with this, but it was the aberration, and besides it is over now.

Humakt and Yanafal Tarnils

As a good demonstration of varying Gloranthas, here are two different takes about whether a Humakti can easily convert to Yanafal Tarnils or not. If you need a refresher on Yanafal Tarnils, it’s the main Lunar soldier cult, and one of the figures of the Seven Mothers cult. As with most Lunar figures, he was a mortal who ascended to godhood. In life, he was… a Humakti who somehow “defeated” his god in battle.

Anyway, the “official” answer comes from Jeff:

To join the Yanafal Tarnils cult, a Humakt initiate MUST LEAVE the Humakt cult (you cannot become the initiate of a Neutral cult – only Friendly and Associated). That triggers the Spirit of Reprisal. Their geases remain, and they cannot use a straight bladed sword (broadsword, etc.). Of course if one is Illuminated, then the Spirit of Reprisal cannot act…..

Regardless, the new initiate must create a new Rune Pool – Yanafal Tarnils is not Humakt but a different god. Same thing with worship skills.

This bit is generally interesting for world-building around the Lunar Provinces:

There is a reason after all that the Humakt cult has remained strong in the West Reaches and the Lunar Provinces. The cult is a useful source of soldiers, and since you can’t just hop from Humakt to the 7 Mothers or Yanafal Tarnils, the Lunar Empire tolerates it (like it does with so many other cults).

On the other hand, Michael “MOB” O’Brien, Vice-President of Chaosium, “MGF-guy”, and all-around “funniest Chaosium person” in my book, has a different take:

IMG Humakti who switch over to Yanafarl Tarnils get to keep all their gifts (as long as they don’t break their geases) and can continue to replenish their rune points at Humakti temples. And I’m just going to take off my tinfoil helmet to note that Humakti can replenish their rune points in YT temples too, though they do tend to get a bit self-conscious during the liturgy, what with all the tambourines, guitars, and group hugs. YGMV.

When it comes to Yanafal Tarnils initiates replenishing their Rune Points at Humakti temples, here’s my take:

Revising Gloranthan Lore

I’m always happy when I get a glimpse of the creative process behind Gloranthan lore, especially material revisions. In this BRP Central thread about the various version of the Gold Gotti (a Wolf Pirate buddy of Harrek), Jeff shares this:

That Sourcebook section [on Gold Gotti] was written by me around 2014, maybe even earlier. It didn’t quite sit right with me but Greg was fine with it, although he thought it didn’t mesh with his original idea of the character – which he had written up around 1978 or so. Sadly that material, like so much of his late 1970s and early 1980s material, was presumed lost forever. So I ran with it, even though it didn’t feel right. 

Flash forward a few years. A kindly benefactor found and returned Greg’s lost notes. In there were detailed descriptions of every unit for WBRM, and Greg’s descriptions of many minor figures, as well as troves of Gloranthan gold. Greg and I talked, and agreed Goldgotti should be what he was intended to be – a very successful Wolf Pirate (it also gave the game a unit of Wolf Pirates in addition to Harrek and Gunda). And so there it is. 

Community Roundup

The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.

The Kraken Was Released

Last week, immediately after GenCon, was the much smaller Kraken convention in Germany! This is the successor of the Tentacles Convention which has many ties to Chaosium games in general and Glorantha in particular.

Judging from social media, there was some mask-wearing game of Lunar ritual disruption, a seminar on How to Make Glorantha Fun, and Doc Cowie (who was our guest once!) GMing a game where he got the date wrong (asking what year it is in Glorantha is a long standing joke among certain parts…)

Take note of Doc Cowie’s t-shirt though!

For more pictures of the convention, see the Kraken’s Twitter feed!

Grognardia on RuneQuest Marketing

I have always been fascinated with this weirdly boasting ad for RuneQuest way back from 1980. It appeared in Dragon Magazine but it probably also appeared elsewhere — I don’t remember where I saw it first. Anyway, if you have never seen it, take the time to read it, it’s… something.

James Maliszewski gives his thoughts on the ad on his excellent blog GROGNARDIA.

I want to take a look at each paragraph of the ad, because I think each one includes some fascinating boasts about RQ. Before doing that, though, I simply want to draw attention to the ad’s title, which plays off a very common concern in the hobby during the early to mid-1980s – realism.

Attack on Tin Inn

Mark Austin is taking “miniature combat” to a whole new level!

Thank you for reading

That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!

My Thursday group has been playing RuneQuest weekly for a bit more than a year now and hopefully my players have had as much fun as me! I figured I would share and celebrate our game achievements here.

(this article was originally posted on Facebook, and is reposted here with minor edits and extra pictures)

Kids on Bisons

We started in 1611 with 10-year old characters being in-over-their-heads at Gamla’s Leap. The world comes crashing down around them and they join or return to the Bachad Tribe, in flames. Using some half-assed rules for playing a “kids on bisons” campaign, we went through some year-by-year adventuring, with quite a few vignettes and short scenes in between to punctuate daily Orlanthi life in the Far Place.

While the kids navigated the social web of teenager cliques in the Alone confederation, they got involved in increasingly dangerous and outlandish shenanigans. They formed a wildly illegal spirit society and got hold of equally illegal underage magic. They threw some rocks at Tusk Riders and kicked them repeatedly while they were down. They stumbled into an old Mostali settlement, talked to a rusty robot, escaped in mine carts, and destroyed a Chaos shrine. They got discorporated by mistake and ran away from Broo shamans. They accepted a dare to stay by the Woods of the Dead by night. They participated in various games and challenges during tribal festivals. They went up against a scary local rural legend, narrowly avoided becoming mushroom fertilizer, became friends with the elves their parents told them to stay away from, shocked the entire confederation by going heroquesting, saved hundreds of children, greatly upset the trolls by making the Deadwood start regrowing, and indirectly caused the dissolution and exile of one of the Bachad clans… and then they became adults.

Needless to say, they are absolutely infamous around the Far Place for having done all this as teenagers, although they’re not the only ones (I have a couple of NPCs who also did some crazy stuff… with the implication that the PCs inspired stupid heroics from many kids in the confederation!)

We had, of course, some other half-assed heroquesting rules for adulthood initiation, with one character coming back with a glimpse of Illumination!

Apprenticeship and Initiation

Next was the apprenticeship years. The kids, now young adults, said goodbye to each other as they all went to different universities and community colleges, so to speak, but they found each other for big tribal festivals.

During Sacred Time they helped smuggle a Sartarite rebel from under the Lunars’ noses, and stole an important magical item from a bunch of Yelmalion bounty hunters.

In their second year they went cattle raiding, drank Amad blood beer, and otherwise made some questionable choice of party friends. Shortly before their cult initiations they found puberty going sideways and realized they got a Chaotic taint somewhere along the line. That’s what you get when you don’t use protection… Nothing that a bit of dangerous heroquesting can’t fix, mind you, but in doing so they found some ugly tribal secret that has maybe put a target on their back. Woopsies.

We recently finished the cult initiations, and you won’t be surprised to know that yes we did have some half-assed rules for that. They all pushed beyond the normal ritual paths and into experimental heroquesting, because they are all reckless would-be heroes. Sure, some of them came back with banes, including curses that will soon befall their community and will have to be dealt with. But hey, they also learned ancient languages, came back with magical God Time objects, and discovered ancient cult entities that will now act as patron spirits.

One character however died during Orlanthi initiation. Our trickster player opened his big mouth (yes we have a trickster player… and he plays a trickster, so that works out well) and lo and behold the character was stopped by Humakt just before entering the Underworld. “You work for me now.” He came back as a Humakt initiate (once again, shocking the community!) with a big black mark on his left arm, where the Death God grabbed him and turned him around. He can’t put any armour on that arm.

Adulthood

Now the players are off to troll lands around the Indigo Mountains to find some missing family member, and after that they’ll go travelling in a caravan led by the Issaries character (mostly because, based on the aforementioned tribal secret, it’s a good idea for them to leave the tula for a while) And yes, before you ask, I’m currently working on some trading rules. They’re totally half-assed.

Thanks for reading! I hope this will either give you ideas for your game, or give you ideas for our game you can share back to me 😉

Welcome to a new issue of the Journal of Runic Studies, the premier Malkioni publication for studies into the nature of Glorantha. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please consult with the spirit bound to the appropriate electronic page.

Last week was GenCon and Continuum! Chaosium and Chaosium contributors won some Ennies for various works around the Call of Cthulhu franchise, so congratulations to them! Hopefully we’ll see Glorantha come back to the Ennies in 2023 when (hopefully) the Cults book is out and eligible for something…

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

RuneQuest Weapons & Equipment is Out in Hardback

The RuneQuest Weapons & Equipment guide is finally out in hardback, after having been released in PDF last December… this shows you how messed up the printing and shipping industry is right now.

If you already bought the PDF, you should have recently received your discount code for the hardback version. If you’re going to order multiple physical books from Chaosium’s recent releases (like, say, Cults of Cthulhu or Time to Harvest), don’t forget to contact customer support and ask for a combined discount code, since Chaosium’s website doesn’t support more than one code. Also, don’t forget to check that the books you’re ordering are in the appropriate warehouse for more efficient shipping… for instance, I’m waiting for Weapons & Equipment to reach the Canadian warehouse before ordering it.

Remember that this is probably the last book that received the “early PDF release” treatment. Chaosium communicated over the last few weeks that they would stop doing it for now.

The White Bull Campaign Returns

After a long hiatus, the White Bull campaign has returned to YouTube! This is Jeff Richard’s RuneQuest Glorantha game featuring several designers and collaborators from the Chaosium sphere. If you want to get back up to speed quickly, BRP Central has an episode list for both season one and season two, which ended after the Battle of Queens, when Kallyr Starbrow’s body is burned and the adventurers return to Argrath in Pavis.

Jonstown Compendium

The Jonstown Compendium is Chaosium’s community content program for all Gloranthan games, hosted on DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer: all the relevant links are affiliate links that hopefully will let us cover some of the hosting and maintenance costs for the website and podcast! Thanks for using them!

Duckpac Book 2: Duck Adventurers

© 2022 Legion Games & Chaosium Inc.

It’s here! The second book of the Duckpac series it out and will let your create Duck adventurers in way more detail than what you had in the Glorantha Bestiary. This includes a custom Family History, duck-tastic boons and heirlooms, a sample Duck community to start from, some pre-generated Duck adventurers, and more.

The fist book on Duck Lore, Legends, and Myths is available here and is a Silver Best Seller. Books 3 and 4 will respectively be a soloquest and a set of scenarios.

The Seven Tailed Wolf

© 2022 Andrew Logan Montgomery & Chaosium Inc.

The trilogy of campaigns started in Six Seasons in Sartar and continued in Company of the Dragon is finally complete with the release of the Seven Tailed Wolf! The Company returns to Black Stag Vale but they’re immediately pulled into many defining events of the meta-plot: Kallyr’s Lightbringers Quest and her brush against Jar-eel the Razoress, the Battle of Queens, and more!

The Lottery

© 2022 Robert Stoll & Chaosium Inc.

This scenario by Robert Stoll takes part in the Lunar Provinces, at the edge of the Glowline, and sends your adventurers up against some “terrifying cult” that threatens their family and the entire region. It includes pre-generated characters, so you could run it as a one-shot interlude or convention game!

An Orlanthi Wedding

© 2022 Ian Straus & Chaosium Inc.

This “small adventure” can be slotted into any campaign where “one experienced Orlanthi male initiate adventurer” gets married to an NPC. If things go according to plan (for a certain definition of “plan”), the players will go into some unplanned heroquest!

The Howling Tower is Available in Softcover

© 2022 Dario Corallo & Chaosium Inc.

What it says in the title! Grab it here and go treasure hunting in the Upland Marsh!

Cover Preview of the Periplus of the Mirrorsea Bay

© 2022 Martin Helsdon, Mark Smylie, & Chaosium Inc.

Martin Helsdon’s next Jonstown Compendium project is an exploration of the Mirrorsea Bay, and it’s being illustrated by the excellent Mark Smylie. Martin shared a preview of the cover on Facebook and it looks amazing!

Here’s a bit of description from Martin:

A round ship is towed by tugboats towards the quays of Nochet. A patrolling triaconter exchanges news with her crew, as two merfolk also talk with a sailor. Beyond rises the temple of Issaries, with the Great Market before it, and behind lies the massive bulk of the Grace Temple. The temple of Dormal is off to one side, and a floating shrine used in festivities sits at anchor nearby.

Community Roundup

The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.

Escalation! Issue 10

Escalation! is a magazine for 13th Age, the unholy child of the 3rd and 4th editions of D&D, plus some other stuff thrown in. You might be familiar with 13th Age: Glorantha, the game that lets you play epic heroes in Glorantha with a D20.

Well, anyway, Escalation! only had one issue that I know of that was dedicated to Glorantha, but it looks like they’ll have another one with issue 11, as announced here:

The Escalation team’s next project is the Red Moon and Warring Kingdoms book, describing how to play Lunar characters in 13th Age Glorantha. It may be a while before we come up for air, so please be patient with us in the meantime.

Evan Franke, of Exploring Glorantha’s fame, announced that the Lunar-focused issue is indeed next, after years of work involving several other authors and editors and such. He even shared the Spotify playlist he uses to get inspired about Fronela, with a piece of art representing the great Lunar City of Riverjoin.

The next issue of Escalation! might not be out until early next year, but I’m still looking forward to it!

Partidas Vetustas

The actual-play channel “Partidas Vetustas” has run a bunch of RuneQuest games (among other systems), which I think start in Apple Lane, then go to Snakepipe Hollow, and then return to Apple Lane. I have no idea if this is good, since my knowledge of Spanish is “half-forgotten high-school education”, and, well, did I mention this channel is in Spanish? It’s in Spanish.

Anyway, if you understand Spanish and you have watched it, please tell me what you thought about it!

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

Not everything is about Glorantha, although most things are! Here are loosely relevant things that we found on the interwebs.

The Lady of Elche

The Lady of Elche is a limestone bust discovered in the late 19th century in Spain. It dates back to the 4th century BCE, and is considered to be Iberian with strong Hellenistic influences. I could see it used as a visual inspiration for an Ernalda priestess or, with a bit more imagination, a Maran Gor priestess (although it’s not too far fetched given the actual goddess this bust was supposed to be associated with).

You can easily find many people dressing up with the iconic Princess Leia-looking coils (known as “rodetes”), although these coils aren’t specific to the Lady of Elche per se. But unless I’ve missed some other cultural significance, I guess the Lady of Elche is quite famous in some circles. In fact, you can even get a glimpse of her in the latest Marvel movie, Thor: Love and Thunder! (along with a bunch of gods and goddesses from all kinds of pantheons… one of the only good things about this movie, if you ask me)

Wind Shaman

© 2022 Karl Simon

This “wind shaman” from Karl Simon could be a great inspiration for a Kolat shaman or any other Gloranthan shaman for that matter! Thanks to Thomas Iverson for bringing it up.

Concretion

Concretions are… well, some weird-ass rock things (if you’re really interested in how they form, you can start here). What you need to know is that they’re mostly round, they’re a bit strange, and you can of course use them as inspiration for a weird landscape in Glorantha. Are they sleeping Earth elementals? Are they Maran Gor’s necklace pearls? Are they Lodril’s balls?

Either way, thanks to Susen Saha for bringing them to our attention!

Thank you for reading

That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!

Welcome to a new issue of the Journal of Runic Studies, the premier Malkioni publication for studies into the nature of Glorantha. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please consult with the spirit bound to the appropriate electronic page.

There was a big heat wave here this past week so the motivation to collect and annotate Gloranthan things was at an all time low, especially since I also had our new episode to edit… but today was cooler so here I am, with as much as I could gather.

God Learner Sorcery

Here is what us God Learners were up to this week.

Episode 14: Nomad Gods (Part 2)

In episode 14 of our podcast, we return to our exploration of Prax through the lens of the 1977 board game “Nomad Gods” (part 1 was here). David Scott expertly guides us through these strange lands. We discuss the French version of the game, the magic rules, shamans, spirit societies, chaos monsters, and more!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Don’t Balance Your Games

Jeff talks about game balance again, but this time as an interview with James Coquillat. You can tell this is a topic they both are very interested in because you’re looking at an almost hour-long interview. Usually, these Chaosium interviews are between 10 and 20 minutes at most. This extra time lets Jeff better share his opinions on the topic, compared to the shorter notes and comments he posted online previously.

There’s a lot of good stuff in there. James’ questions are absolutely on point, even if Jeff doesn’t always answer them directly. I appreciate that several aspects of “balance” were mentioned, like “spotlight” balance and “premise fit” balance, and not just purely “mechanical” balance. They also mention the “Pippin vs Aragorn” problem, but one I find a lot more interesting is the “Hawkeye vs Captain Marvel” one because, unlike with Lord of the Rings, superhero RPGs have seen a lot more iterations and experimentations over the decades — including a large spread from simulationist to story-driven mechanics. Jeff sounds unconvinced about the latter however, which I think is common from gamemasters who run simulationist systems as story-driven anyway.

One thing that I think is worth touching upon in these parts is the big difference (in my opinion, of course) between Pendragon & Call of Cthulhu, and RuneQuest. While they all aspire to provide a broad range of gameplay experiences, I find that RuneQuest has the most “unbalanced” set of mechanics. Pendragon’s breadth of gameplay is supported by many mechanics: skirmishes, battles, running a manor, organizing a feast, romancing, jousting, and so on. These mechanics might vary in size, complexity, and time to run at the table, but not too much, so they’re pretty “balanced” in a sort of “mental overload” way, along with the various knights that specialize in one or the other. Call of Cthulhu, especially its 7th edition, has a more minimalist approach in order to make things rather equivalent: combat has been simplified quite a lot compared to the previous editions, and other sub-systems like chases, sanity, and magic have an equivalent light weight. By comparison, I feel like RuneQuest is a lot more unbalanced in that way. Starting a combat scene will most likely take you at least an hour of play, while most other activities are, technically, resolved in a couple rolls. A good gamemaster might be able to expedite a combat when needed, and dwell longer on a crucial scene of tribal politics with many suspenseful rolls… but RuneQuest as a system puts a lot of emphasis on combat and magic, and by all means this signals that the game is about combat and magic — I’m a big fan of “show me what your mechanics are and I’ll tell you what your game is about“. So of course a combat-focused system will attract combat-focused players. Oh well.

A New Hero Episode 5

Speaking of James Coquillat, his RuneQuest actual play continues and is now at episode 5! Oh my, I’m still catching up so no comments from me at this time. Are you following the game? What do you think?

The Legacy of “Home of the Bold”

On the Chaosium blog, Nick Brooke has a slice of Gloranthan history for us as we celebrate the 30 years since the “Home of the Bold” freeform live-action roleplaying game. This took place at the Convulsion 1992 convention, and its historical significance in the history of Glorantha, RuneQuest, and Chaosium is all up there in the article. Thanks Nick!

Of course, Rick Meints brought his A-game to the discussion on Facebook by showing off his Gloranthan convention booklets… you can’t beat that, can you?

Photo by Rick Meints

Fantasy Grounds Update

© 2022 Fantasy Grounds & Chaosium Inc.

The Fantasy Grounds VTT Module for RuneQuest is almost ready to be released, but not quite:

Down to 4 things I need to address before it can be released and just ran out of time, as full-on GenCon prep now. Snippet of the Bestiary which will be the next release.

RuneQuest Weapons & Equipment in Hardback

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Chaosium announced that they would have the print version of the Weapons & Equipment sourcebook at GenCon next week. We might therefore expect to see it on sale from Chaosium’s website at the same time, or shortly after. Those of you who bought it in PDF will receive a discount code when that happens… although don’t forget to contact Dustin at customer support if you need to combine multiple codes!

About PDF and Print Releases

Speaking of hardcover releases, you might remember that I mentioned in a past Journal issue that Chaosium was going back to synchronous PDF and print releases for their future products. No more PDF release ahead of time. Chaosium president Rick Meints clarified the reasons for doing this in a post on BRP Central.

The first reason Rick mentions isn’t really a reason for going with synchronous releases, but it does address a related change to the release process which is that future RuneQuest books won’t have any “crowd-sourced proofreading” anymore (for example, here was the proofreading thread for Weapons & Equipment). From now on, Chaosium will be hiring professional proofreaders, which is an excellent news given how past RuneQuest books have been riddled with editing issues.

Some of the other reasons are pretty convincing to me:

  • The need to spin up two marketing cycles instead of one, with the inevitable confusion from gamer audiences who might think “wasn’t this already released?
  • The management overhead of processing discount coupons, especially if you’re like me and often wait a couple months to do a bulk purchase and save on shipping cost. Like I said above, this requires contacting Dustin so he can issue a combined coupon code by hand… Chaosium could invest in a better e-commerce website to fix this, but I imagine the database migration costs might not be worth it.
  • The desire to just “fuck around and find out” (well Rick didn’t say it like that of course). Chaosium did a whole bunch of PDF-first releases, and now it sounds like they want to compare it to combined releases. Do some people buy the PDF early and then don’t bother with the printed book when it comes out, when they might have bought both if available? Hard to say. I guess this will be interesting.

Jeff’s Notes

Jeff Richard, the current mastermind on everything Gloranthan at Chaosium, is often posting notes and thoughts on the RuneQuest Facebook group. Here’s our curated list from the past week. A partial archive of these sources is compiled on the Well of Daliath.

Plant Genealogy

Art by Katrin Dirim © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Another Cults book genealogy preview! These are the plants, and other related entities. This is where you can see that Blue and Black Elves aren’t “Aldryami” per se (they’re not descended from Aldrya), so you can’t always trust the God Learners.

Gloranthan Distances

Jeff talks about the size of Glorantha… I promise I won’t start complaining about Gloranthan map scales!

Map by Greg Stafford © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

It is approximately 4250 kilometers from the Holy Country to Pamaltela, although most sailors travel clockwise around the Homeward Ocean, taking about 3 weeks to get to Maslo, give or take a few days.

To put that in context, the distances involved are significantly less than crossing the Atlantic from continental Europe to the Caribbean or North America.

Generally speaking, Glorantha is much smaller than Earth. The entire continent of Genertela fits inside the United States, more or less. This is why I felt a bit “constrained” when I first looked at the maps — we end up trying to fit a lot of cultures and biomes in not much space. It sort of looks like an open-world video game in some ways. And sure we can explain a lot with myths and land goddesses and weather deities and such, but that only comes later. If you’re like me, you started with the map.

Anyway, the rest of the note won’t be surprising: the Opening of the Seas is still new in people’s mind, trade with distant lands is warming up, and lots of profits can be made for the enterprising merchant that makes it to Pamaltela or the East Isles, where the truly exotic stuff is.

This detail on the Vadeli is interesting:

The Vadeli are not what I would call Genertelan explorers and traders. They did briefly establish an empire in Pamaltela (Umathela) in 1585 after the Opening, presenting themselves as gods and demanding tribute and worship. However, their empire collapsed after the Vadeli fleet was destroyed in 1594 by a naval alliance of Kareeshtu and Flanch.

The Vadeli are evil immortal Malkioni people who date back to the Gods Age. Just like the Brithini, they don’t age as long as they follow strict rules of conduct. The Vadeli live to this day on a couple large archipelagos far off the western coast of Genertela — although it used to be one large “Vadeli Island”. Like most Malkioni, the Vadeli are split in castes. Only each caste has a different skin colour… yep, you read that right. Brown Vadeli are the immortal sociopath sorcerer-sailors, and Red Vadeli are the also-immortal violent sorcerer-marines-soldiers. Good luck including that in your game in a sensitive way! There were two other castes (Yellow and Blue Vadeli) but they have gone extinct somehow.

As Jeff notes, right after the Opening of the Sea, the Vadeli built a fleet and reached Pamaltela. They ruled a large part of coastal Pamaltela for a little while until they lost a decisive battle in 1594. There is still a sizable community of Brown Vadeli left behind in Pamaltela who act as expert sailors and shady merchants. Given their low morals and immortal ways, you probably get a mix of slaves and ancient magical secrets from dealing with them. If you want a super shady merchant NPC at a port city, you can make them an evil immortal Vadeli. Which leads us to this detail on Nochet, also worth being highlighted:

Nochet has almost 10,000 inhabitants that are not from Central Genertela (Holy Country, Maniria, Dragon Pass, Lunar Empire). That’s a large city’s worth of foreigners. That also includes people from Fonrit, Umathela, and Maslo.

Now you know where you’ll find that super shady and scary Brown Vadeli trader.

Genertela Line Map

Speaking of fitting Genertela inside the continental United States, Jeff talks about it here. There’s a few more comparisons, but most importantly there’s a link towards a line-map of Genertela that is usable under Chaosium’s Fan Material Policy, among several other maps.

Tradetalk

Since we were talking about merchants and sailors, remember that the Issaries cult made up Tradetalk to help with that — especially around the various markets they setup everywhere during the First Age:

Tradetalk spread early – it was used by the First and Second Councils to facilitate communication between different species (humans, trolls, elves, dwarves, etc), tribes, and with outsiders. It was embraced by the Jrusteli who used it as the lingua franca of the Middle Sea Empire, and was also used by the Empire of the Wyrms Friends.

It is hard to find places where Tradetalk is unknown. Perhaps in Kothar and Tarien, and in Vormain.

More here.

Dormal

Finally, all this talk of travelling the across the oceans wouldn’t be complete without the guy that made it possible. Remember that the oceans were “closed” by some disaster that sunk various parts of Glorantha, destroyed a few peninsulas, and generally did bad things, from roughly 920 to 1050. Since then, any ship that lost sight of the coast would just… disappear. Or something. But in 1580, this guy called Dormal found a way around it and manage to sail across the oceans. His workaround is called the Opening Ritual, you have to do it in order to sail, and you have to be an initiate of his cult in order to know it. This guy is clever, isn’t he?

But it gets scary:

One more thing about Dormal, his initiation rites are performed on a ship beyond the sight of land. The initiate is presented to the gods of the sea for acceptance. As a result, the initiates of Dormal really do view themselves as the Men of the Sea – folk who can exist on the open seas.

So yeah, you need to place your ship in the situation where it would normally have bad things happening to it before you can do the thing that prevents bad things from happening! Make sure you have all the ingredients for the ceremony before you leave!

In the rest of the note, Jeff looks at the rough number of ships, sailors, and Dormal initiates around the Holy Country and elsewhere, so if you need these numbers for your campaign, now you know where to find them.

Discorporating Others

Note quite a “Jeff Note” but a “Scotty Note”. Still, it’s from someone at Chaosium, even if David wasn’t using his “official” account when posting this, which indicates that it’s his personal take on it. But hey, that still comes with a hefty weight of authority as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, this deals with the ever-thorny topic of Discorporation in game. The problem, you see, is that it’s unclear how an assistant shaman gets the ability to discorporate, and it’s even less clear whether they can take the other player characters with them (which is desirable for obvious gameplay reasons). In our recently released episode (and in other online places) David did share that the upcoming Cults of Glorantha book somewhat fixes this loophole for assistant shamans by giving the Horned Man one spell: Discorporation. He shows you how to do it, but you don’t cast it through him — you still cast it through your god, using your god’s Rune Points. The Horned Man isn’t a god and doesn’t have Rune Points.

David also often gives his shamans a custom-made shamanic ability called “Discorporate Others”. But that’s not idea when the group only has an assistant shaman, or when the shaman doesn’t have that ability because you just learned about this possibility now.

Well, David has some more suggestions! The whole thing is on BRP Central, but here are the interesting bits:

So in RQ terms, the shaman’s discorporation ability, and any discorporation rune magic provide a controlled entry and exit from the spirit world (needing an hour long ritual to work). Hazia, Black Mushroom Drink and most other plants that can help achieve discorporation, fall into the uncontrolled category.

There is also the matter of an Axis Mundi, an important adjunct to travelling to the spirit world – a safe starting point. At large ceremonies, a shaman need only cast Axis Mundi and make sure all the participants are inside its diameter. Everyone inside is effectively in the Spirit World, everyone knows not to move as to do so moves you out of the protective area into the spirit world.

So If the shaman want’s everyone to travel with him into the spirit world, everyone takes the supplied Entheogen (what ever it is), does the hour ritual, pays 5 magic points, and makes a meditation roll (including ritual preparation bonus). The shaman then casts Axis Mundi and everyone moves off through the now open gateway to the spirit world.

So it sounds like you could use Axis Mundi as a “Discorporate Others” sort of spell if you want. And since not all cults provide it, you could even say that you obtained it via the Horned Man, just like Discorporation.

Discord Transcripts

There was a rare appearance from Jeff on the Discord server, and David graciously archived that impromptu Q&A.

  • The Seven Mothers cult: who joins the Seven Mothers cult as a lay member or full initiate and why, what the cult is for, and so on. I’m taking away that occupied Sartar had around 21,000 Seven Mothers initiates, two thirds of which were soldiers, officials, or other immigrants. Post-Dragonrise Sartar still has 5,500 members, most of which I assume are second generation natives.
  • The cult of Heler: the various forms of Heler worship, from a minor aspect of Orlanth to the big cult of Sky River Titan near Skyfall Lake. Plus, economies of scale in Esrolia!
  • Argrath’s Army: some thoughts on the logistics of having Praxian nomads all around Dragon Pass and Southern Peloria.
  • The Guide to Dragon Pass: tiny bits of information about the upcoming “Dragon Pass gazetteer”.
  • Weather in Peloria: some clarifications about the weather in Peloria, and how Orlanth and the various weather deities relate to it. Short version: Entekos is keeping things calm, dry, and warm for her big sugar daddy Yelm.

Community Roundup

The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.

Kylmä Tuuli Sartarin Yllä #6

No, my dog didn’t jump on the keyboard — this is the title of the Kalikos Society’s latest magazine issue. Google Translate tells me this means “Cold Wind Over Sartar”. You can buy it here, I think.

Kalikos is a Finnish collective of Gloranthan fans who has produced many fine things over the years, including the Zin Letters (which were written in English). Lately they’ve also been producing the only known active Gloranthan podcast besides ourselves: Dayzatarin Tähtien Alla.

Jar-eel and Beat-pot

Dan Barker did this cover a long time ago as a spoof of an Elektra: Assassin cover (visible here). I think I had seen it in passing once without knowing what it was about!

A Very Harmonious House, It’s True

Chris Webb, which incidentally is our next interviewee in our Glorantha Initiation Series, sent us these pictures of a “small re-roofing project with reclaimed tiles”. Isn’t that awesome?

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

Not everything is about Glorantha, although most things are! Here are loosely relevant things that we found on the interwebs.

Duck Uprising

This old comic strip by Mortel Pierre has been making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook… for obvious reasons.

Thank you for reading

That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!

Welcome to a new issue of the Journal of Runic Studies, the premier Malkioni publication for studies into the nature of Glorantha. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please consult with the spirit bound to the appropriate electronic page.

I actually added a warning message on the aforementioned page for those wishing to subscribe by email: it looks like, sadly, ad-blockers prevent Mailchimp for correctly registering you.

God Learner Sorcery

Here is what us God Learners were up to this week.

Initiation Series Episode 9: Scott, Grognard Jokes, Too Much Lore, and Letting Players Fill in the Blanks

We talk to another Scott this month for our Initiation Series. This one was recorded back in November 2021, which is why we still mention the very imminent release of the RuneQuest Starter Set. The Scott we talk to is one of the hosts of the Titterpigs podcast, and host of the Unprofessional Unboxing channel on YouTube!

Some Glorantha Fanzines

I managed to grab four old Gloranthan fanzines from the second-hand market… only they’re not all fanzines, and in fact most of them are freeform game reports. David and Joerg gave me some short background on each of them!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Running Side-Quests

RuneQuest line editor (among other hats) Jason Durall tell us all about running side-quests in your games! This topic is obviously a lot more generic than just Glorantha but it does get name-dropped so here it is!

Jonstown Compendium

The Jonstown Compendium is Chaosium’s community content program for all Gloranthan games, hosted on DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer: all the relevant links are affiliate links that hopefully will let us cover some of the hosting and maintenance costs for the website and podcast! Thanks for using them!

DriveThruRPG’s Christmas in July Sale

DriveThruRPG’s Christmas in July Sale is under way! There are many titles with discount prices, including of course Chaosium’s book and most of the Jonstown Compendium.

Of course, my own books are 25% off: A Short Detour (moral conundrums and chaotic corruption!), and Bog Struggles (spirit-world body horror and cute newtlings!)

Check out the other titles, and when in doubt, use Nick Brooke’s indexes (2021 and 2022) to figure out what to buy!

Monster of the Month Volume 2 Omnibus

© 2022 Akhelas & Chaosium Inc.

For the aforementioned summer sale on DriveThruRPG, Austin Conrad made this omnibus of the Volume 2 issues of his Monster of the Month series! Note that DriveThruRPG knows what issues are in it, and will further discount the overall price by deducting the prices of what you’ve already purchased. Austin tells us that if you haven’t picked up the last issue, “To Hunt a God”, this is “probably the cheapest you’ll ever see it”!

Return to Big Rubble

© 2022 Drew Baker & Chaosium Inc.

Regular show guest Drew Baker got the same idea as Austin, and both his books on the Big Rubble are now collected in a bundle with a discount! Grab it now!

Jeff’s Notes

Jeff Richard, the current mastermind on everything Gloranthan at Chaosium, is often posting notes and thoughts on the RuneQuest Facebook group. Here’s our curated list from the past week. A partial archive of these sources is compiled on the Well of Daliath.

Gloranthan Animal Taxonomies

Art by Katrin Dirim © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Everybody loves the Gloranthan truth that “actually, horses are birds”. It’s not quite correct, but it’s correct enough to be funny! Jeff already posted notes on animal taxonomies in the past, but here we get another nice preview of the art in the Cults of Glorantha. Find some other funny stuff like “fish are water dragons”!

Arkat and his Dark Empire

Jeff looks once more at Arkat and his legacy:

From about 450 ST to 740 ST area now known as Safelster was part of a political entity that called itself the Autarchy or the Empire of Peace, but was known by outsiders as the Stygian Empire or Arkat’s Dark Empire. Despite the passage of some nine centuries, Safelster is still haunted by the ghosts of Arkat’s empire and the question of Arkat still drives theological and political conflict.

A super quick crash-course in Arkat is that he’s a very determined dude from Brithos who did some seriously advanced heroquesting, unlocked super secret magical powers, transformed into a troll (more or less), and used Darkness Gods to smash Nysalor’s evil Bright Empire which threatened to invade and corrupt the whole world… but in doing so Arkat also almost destroyed the world and transformed Dorastor into the horrible cesspool of Chaos that we know today.

If you’re not sure what to think about this guy, Jeff provides 7 possible views on Arkat, plus this:

The riddle of Arkat defies easy answer. Just when you think you have it answered, it finds a way to turn itself around.

More than anything it was pondering the riddle of Arkat back in the days of Cults of Terror that sold me on Glorantha as being the peak of fantasy literature. As they say, his riddle defies easy answers. It is perhaps best approached as a personal Rorschach test for the reader – as your answer says more about you than it does about Arkat.

Frankly I’m probably in team 1 — learning from Arkat and his crazy power grabbing heroquests, and try and do the same. Maybe that’s what the Red Goddess is doing, and why you have to be an Illuminate to join her cult, because otherwise you just can’t understand this stuff. The Hero Wars are partially about the return of dangerous experimental heroquesting, so I would encourage your players to follow in Arkat’s path and become bad-ass single-minded world-killing machines! Argrath can’t be the only one there, after all, right? Plus, it’s always fun to break your toys.

Arkat and Hrestolism Caste Restrictions

Speaking of Arkat, in this thread on casts restrictions in Malkioni society, Jeff posted this:

Arkat only violated his caste restrictions in the service of Justice and never wavered in his war against Gbaji. He joined the cult of Humakt but remained Hrestoli. He became a troll but remained Hrestoli. Perhaps he even became a Chaos monster and remained Hrestoli.

This may be a key to why the Rokari hate Hrestolism AND Arkatism alike. 

Some food for thought when it comes to both Arkatism and the “Rightness” mechanics mentioned in last issue. And if you wanted to ask Arkat for advice, now might be the right time:

Arkat exists in the Hero Plane. You could go to Statham Well and meet him. During the era of the Dark Empire, his most devoted acolytes did just that. But when his empire fell, the God Learners destroyed every path to Statham Well. Try as they might, nobody could contract the Great Hero.

Despite that, Arkat is somehow back in our world. How that is even possible and what that means is a mystery, but he’s back.

Brithini Immortality

Since we were talking about Brithos, let’s talk about their crazy rulers: Brithini are immortal (and arguably pretty inhuman) sorcerers. This is how they do it:

The Brithini have immortality because they haven’t changed since Death appeared.

Why we live forever?

When Zzabur asked his father, “How do we stay immortal?”the Prophet answered simply. He said, “Do not change. Do what you have done. Act within the Laws and Ways you have been given, for they are immortal. Your actions embody the One, your bodies enact the One. Anything new from this moment forward is Death.”

Thus we were never severed from Life, like the rest; from Magic, like the rest; from Divinity, like the rest; from Good, like the rest; from ourselves, like the rest. We are not mortal people, or gods, or good people, or our own people — we simply are. All else is a wane shadow of us.

When we die, the world dies. We are the last holders of the One. When we are gone, all else will go to. When we are gone, everything left is corruption and death.

Of note:

It is not possible for those not already Brithini to become Brithini.

Various Notes on Malkionism

Let’s keep going with Gloranthan sorcerers. First, a general note on the Malkioni. In particular:

Malkionism provides us with a detached and abstract philosophical approach to Glorantha. It is easier for us Westerners than the raw personal experiences found in most rune cults. With Malkionism we can reduce mythology to patterns and processes, or esoteric facts to be discussed or disputed, rather than psychological events to be experienced.

In short, most readers likely approach Glorantha like the Malkioni. Most players and GMs approach it like the Orlanthi or Pelotians or Praxians. Ponder that!

Next, Jeff muses about Malkionism as a “cult”. This is the interesting bit to me:

Magic points are offered to the Invisible God, and the worshipers gain satisfaction knowing that their sacrifice was accepted. Some sects have techniques by which the “priests” can use some of the magic points – by storing them in the Otherworld, using them to cast blessings (sorcery spells), and so on.

As for what magic the rest of the community gets, it doesn’t come from the Invisible God. Some sects (Rokarism and Hrestolism) allow non-priestly members to belong to priestly approved Rune or spirit cults, usually appropriate for their occupation or caste. Other sects (such as the Stygian Heresy) don’t care what non-priestly members do, as long as they regularly show up for worship (and do not worship actively Chaotic entities, such as the Lords of Terror). In general, most sects hold that such magic is inferior to the “priestly” sorcery.

So if your players are visiting some Malkioni-controlled regions, they might encounter various wildly different sects, or even “heresies”, with fairly different societal structures.

But Jeff went down a whole rabbit-hole of Malkionism. For example, there’s this closer look at the Rokari, who are but one of the different Malkioni sects. This one in particular allows the zzaburi (the sorcerers) to be entirely financed and supported by the state, through the worker and noble castes. So they enjoy the existence of entire complexes dedicated to their magical work. I guess they are a mix between a university, a monastery, and a governmental research laboratory?

The greatest of these is Leplain, a vast complex of temples and “universities”, often called the Blue Temple. There might be as many as 3000(!) sorcerers training and studying in the Blue Temple! This is the center of Rokarism, and I suspect most young recruits to the zzaburi caste are sent here to learn and train.

This bit in particular nicely sums up the zzaburi in a Rokari society:

Ideally, the zzaburi would prefer if the rest of the population relied completely on them with regards to magic use, but of course that is not going to happen. There are numerous spirit cults, deified ancestors, revered heroes, abstract entities, and so on.

So when we thinking about Rokarism, it is worth keeping in mind that it was a reaction against the widespread destruction caused by the God Learners. Malkioni philosophers reached back for a primary source – the original teachings of Malkion, cleansed and redacted by Rokar. And so the Rokari look to the Brithini as analogues (but believe the Brithini are in error rejecting the later revelations of Malkion, such as Solace).

Many Rokari prefer an abstract and philosophical concept of the Invisible God, and imagine the Runes as abstract archetypes, like the Major Arcana, personified as gods (e.g., Worlath, Ehilm, Humct, Gata, Seshna Likita, etc.). These gods are not given cult by the Rokari, and the personifications are usually considered wayward.

But beneath this Rokari philosophical abstraction is a churning sea of folk religion. Ancestor worship, spirit cults, old tribal cults, local deities, more abstract deities of phenomena and behaviour, etc.

But we’re not done! The Stygian Heresy was mentioned above, so here’s a note about them!

This is a big tent, with some 700,000 followers. One way of thinking about the Stygian heresy is that it is tantric Malkionism. Transgressive, antinomian, esoteric, with secret initiation rites and interaction with raw elemental forces.

Sounds like a bunch of zzaburi hippies to me. If there can ever be such a thing.

Finally, how about some demographic data on the Malkioni? Of course you want that! These numbers are ballparks but still interesting to world-building fans like me:

When thinking about Malkionism, keep in mind that In Genertela, there are:

– Around 2.5 million Hrestoli (various schools)
– Around 1.5 million Rokari
– Around 750 k followers of the Stygian Heresy
– Around 250 K followers of the Chariot of Lightning
– Around 115k followers of the Carmanian heresies (mainly Idovanus and Malakinus)
– Around 40k Aeolians
– Around 15k followers of Trader Prince Malkionism

Odayla as an Orlanth Subcult

Note quite a note from Jeff, but a worthwhile preview from the upcoming Cults of Glorantha, courtesy of David Scott:

[…] what you do get are the two paths of the Bearwalker (Rune Lord): the Bearwalker path (solitary wilderness only) and the Champion’s Path, where they enter service as the champion of the king or chief. It’s likely the latter that can be a subcult of Orlanth, giving the rune lord full access to their spells from the Orlanth temple (can be a minor temple). The Bearwalker need only a pay a point of POW for this to work (per the rules).

If an adventurer is lucky enough to have a Bearwalker Champion in their clan, this is how they could join the cult and access magics.

You can read more here, here, and here, including how David uses the “fluidity in the cults system” to reconcile mechanics and world-building, where the Bearwalker champions might be, and more.

Converting to Another Cult

For some reason, people are asking for special rules that provide a cheap way to convert a character from one cult to another, such as an Ernalda initiate who gets upset and becomes a Vinga initiate. No idea why, but hey this prompted Jeff to clarify what Rune Points are for (not that there was any doubt but hey, I’m occasionally trying to be a completist about these notes):

Your Rune point pool represents your connection with THAT deity. If you have a big pool, that represents that you are deeply and intimately connected with that deity. If you join another cult – even an associated cult – that Rune pool does not transfer over to the new cult (except in a very few exceptions which are the exceptions that prove the rule). They are different gods with different magical secrets after all.

Normally what people do is worship the other deities associated with their god as associated deities. So an Orlanth initiate also worships Ernalda and has access to Heal Body from her, the other Lightbringers, etc. You can your Orlanth Rune pool for those associated cult activities as well – but that does not give you the full panoply of the associated cult’s magic, just the spell it gives your cult. You want to learn Ernalda’s deeper mysteries – join her cult!

Not that there was any doubt either but here’s how Jeff stats up his NPCs:

[…] most people have 1-3 Rune points. That’s it. So for most people, joining another cult means sacrificing a point of POW and creating a new Rune pool about the same size as your old pool. Maybe you put extra points of POW into that pool because this is such a big deal.

There’s more in that thread (like this) but, again, probably nothing new to most of you.

Pole Star Cults

A thread on BRP Central about Pole Star clarifies a few things about the god that put the “star” on Kallyr Starbrow’s forehead. Jeff says:

Polestar is a very minor cult in Sartar – I am not sure it even has a cult outside of that around Kallyr Starbrow.

And:

[…] all magic drawn from [the Polestar] comes from the same source. Kallyr Starbrow manages to bring that magic down (and it is no doubt part of her hero cult), and there is no doubt a shaman or two that knows how to do that among the Sartarites. 

But in the Lunar Heartlands, Polestar has a major cult with some 45,000 initiates. They know more about Polestar and his magic than any Sartarite ever will (Kallyr might still enjoy Polestar’s favor more than even the High Priest, but that is different). 

Note that David Scott gives some useful recommendations for your games, including treating Polaris as a cult spirit in Sartar (unless you’re close with Kallyr):

Rigsdal is Polaris worshipped as a spirit cult by the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass, giving a single rune spell, Captain Souls (RBM 23). So a very small following, appearing in the Other category for cults. As a spirit cult can be worshipped by anyone with a 50% rune affinity of Fire or Stasis. So Yelmalio worshippers or Orlanth worshippers with no emphasis on movement for example (Orlanth Thunderous). 

You can find Rigsdal’s mythology (including Rigsdal and the Too-Face-Horde) in Heortling Mythology (page 159)

Note that the Hero Wars publications of 20 or so years ago had him overrepresented and overdeveloped.

About Entekos

Entekos is the “primary atmospheric deity in the Lunar Heartlands“. But because the Orlanthi, experts on the Air pantheon, associate Entekos with a deity named Molanni, mother of Daga the god of drought, the Lunar Heartlands end up with a fairly dry weather. Between this and the fact that, as a good little subservient deity of Yelm, Entekos keeps the skies clear, the Pelorian bowl ends up with quite little rain, and relies on irrigation to make use of the otherwise fertile soil.

Jeff uses the Montana grasslands as a possible reference for what the Lunar Heartlands look like:

Check the archived post for more information about Entekos.

Miscellaneous Notes

Community Roundup

The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.

Exploring Glorantha Goes to Tarsh

JM and Evan continue their tour of Dragon Pass by visiting Tarsh! If you want to learn about Tarshite history, the Tarsh rebels, the Glowline, and so on, this is the episode for you!

RPGImaginings Reviews Life of Moonson

Prolific Chaosium reviewer RPGImaginings looks like “Life of Moonson” (Volume 1 and Volume 2) and now understands the Lunar Empire! Maybe. We’ll know if he suddenly disappears to join the illuminated cult of the Red Goddess.

Earth Goddesses References

David Scott has some good references from the British Museum for your Earth goddesses! More in this thread.

Glorantha & Jonstown Compendium on Confessions of a Wee Tim’rous Bushi

Rob welcomes Jonstown Compendium embassador and all around enthusiastic Gloranthan proselytizer Nick Brooke on his podcast, “Confessions of a Wee Tim’rous Bushi“. You can listen to the episode here or, of course, in your favourite podcast app.

Update on To Hunt a God

Austin Conrad posted an update about the upcoming second part of “To Hunt a God“, and why it’s taking more time than expected. Short version:

[…] if Life permits we’ll have motion coming soon on To Hunt a God. I’m working on edits and art direction, and I hope to move to be laying out new text soon (even if just in a quick-and-dirty version, so I can get you the long-promised content).

Plus: a picture of a wonderful little fox spirit thingie!

Andrew Logan Montgomery on Old-School RuneQuest

Is RuneQuest an “old-school RPG”? To me that’s a definite “yes” (with all the problems I have with it). But if you’re looking for a slightly longer argument on the topic, you can turn to Andrew Logan Montgomery’s blog!

Plus: an RQ OSR hack sidebar!

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

Not everything is about Glorantha, although most things are! Here are loosely relevant things that we found on the interwebs.

The Well of Hell

The Hellcrack in pent is an 80km long and 30km wide crack into the plains of Pent that leads directly into the Underworld. The Earth took many wounds during the Gods War and this is the biggest that didn’t heal. But there are probably other, smaller wounds still open!

A good reference for those might be the “Well of Hell” in modern day Yemen. It’s only 30 meters across but it looks pretty rad! And guess what… the bottom of it was only explored in 2021! Last year! Unbelievable.

I’ll let you read more about it (including its various creation myths) over at the ever-excellent Atlas Obscura blog. There are even pictures of what the exploration team found at the bottom, and how it links to the many rumours around the hole, including foul odors and contaminated water… I’m sure you get at least a couple adventure ideas for your group!

Five Things About Vikings We Get Wrong

This article from Cracked is written by Jess Nevins, so that’s been a badge of quality research in my book even since he did the annotations to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the brilliant book, not the forgettable, at best, movie).

Anyway, if you want to learn about the job description of Vikings, their diversity, the way their perceived gender, their sexuality, and their violence, head out here!

Aztec Feathered Shields

A Chimalli is a mesoamerican shield made of animal skin, plants, a bit of metal, and lots of feathers. Below are some Aztec warriors with those shields (from the Codex Mendoza), and the shield of King Ahuitzotl, who lived in the 15th century CE.

I’m sure that you can put some cool feathered shields anywhere in Glorantha, but given that most birds are associated with the Solar Pantheon, maybe they’re best found in classically Dara Happan regions? Or Pent?

Thank you for reading

That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!

I managed to grab four old Gloranthan fanzines from the second-hand market… if you have read them, feel free to point me to a particular piece of material you like in them!

Update: I have gotten some information from David Scott and, of course, from my co-host Joerg! Only the Book of Drastic Resolutions can be considered as a “fanzine”. It contains “lots of unofficial detail on Prax, much by the editor of French Dieux Nomades.

The rest are mostly freeform game reports:

Report on the Fall of Boldhome was only available to players in the first ever run of Home of the Bold in 1992, it’s a freeform report. We naturally overprinted and sold a few extra, but I don’t think more than 100 exist.

David’s report is Tonaling Great Helm. There’s more information here, including pictures of the “specially minted” in-game currency.

The broken Council Guidebook is the players book for the Broken Council Freeform. Apparently I acquired the second edition for the second run.

Broken Council Guidebook is the equivalent to Rough Guide to Glamour, the setting book for the freeform/multiplayer strategy game Broken Council. Written with access to then unpublished detail by Greg, filled up with the writers’ imagination. Contradicted in various places by the Guide to Glorantha.

And finally, about Tarsh War:

It’s a mini-freeform for 12 players and a referee, or a great backdrop for a mini-campaign set in 1619 in Exiles territory while Fazzur marches on Whitewall.

Joerg tells me it’s probably the “most fun to read”, and Nick Brooke on Twitter told me he was very happy with that book in particular, so I’ll start with that!

Welcome to a new issue of the Journal of Runic Studies, the premier Malkioni publication for studies into the nature of Glorantha. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please consult with the spirit bound to the appropriate electronic page.

Another busy week and, therefore, not too many annotations on Jeff’s posts. I’m also trying to find some free time to continue writing my grand “Goonies in Glorantha” campaign for the Jonstown Compendium, and the more I write, the more I realize I have more to write…

You might notice that some of Jeff’s posts from the week might be missing — this is because they haven’t been archived yet to the Well of Daliath (there’s a variable and understandable delay of a few days). I’m not going to include posts that are on Facebook but not on the Well here unless I copy/paste the entire text (so you can see what I’m talking about), but then it would create this weird thing where I can abridge archived posts, but not not-yet-archived ones. So there.

God Learner Sorcery

Here is what us God Learners were up to this week.

Pookie Reviews Ludovic’s Books

The ever prolific reviewer from R’lyeh, Pookie, has reviewed both my Jonstown Compendium books!

His review for Bog Struggles reads:

Bog Struggles: An Adventure for RuneQuest Glorantha is a useful and easy addition for any campaign where there is a river or area of wetland nearby, providing a delightfully strange and horrifying encounter with some wonderfully illustrated, oh so adorable, Newtlings.

His review for A Short Detour reads:

A Short Detour: An Adventure for RuneQuest Glorantha confronts the Player Characters with a moral dilemma and excellent opportunities for roleplaying supported with some fantastic NPCs.

Thanks for the review, Pookie! Everybody else, get my adventures if you haven’t already. A Short Detour is now a Silver Seller and is currently on sale, and Bog Struggles is a Copper Seller. Thanks to everybody who checked them out, and to the couple people who reached out with constructive feedback!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The Tome

Possibly inspired by the Journal of Runic Studies (although probably not), Chaosium is launching their own weekly newsletter! You can sign-up for The Tome here! There’s been only one issue so far, with only minimal marketing content, but I’m looking forward to see if there’s any more to it in time…

Editing QuestWorlds

The QuestWorlds rulebook is currently in the editing phase! Ian Cooper gives an update on it over on the Chaosium blog.

If you’re unfamiliar with QuestWorlds, this is the new name for the HeroQuest system, which itself was the new name for the HeroWars system. You could consider HeroWars (the Gloranthan roleplaying game published in 2000) as version 1.0, and HeroQuest (published in 2003 and 2009) as versions 1.5 and 2.0 respectively. In fact, the official HeroQuest 2nd edition was a generic ruleset, and was given an official Gloranthan supplement only in 2015.

The new QuestWorlds rulebook could be considered HeroQuest 2.5: the mechanics are pretty close, but a lot of streamlining has gone into it, making it feel much more modern. You know, the kind of stuff that also happened in Call of Cthulhu 7th edition and which I think RuneQuest so desperately needs. The QuestWorlds rulebook will be complemented with a second book that presents custom settings to play in.

Chaosium Board Games on Sale

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The delighful Gloranthan game Khan of Khans is on sale, along with a few other board games from Chaosium. Khan of Khans can be summarized as a “Praxian cattle raiding push your luck game”: it’s very simple, and it’s pretty quick. It’s a great way to introduce Glorantha to unsuspecting people (including children), and it won two Gold Ennies!

Ennies 2022 Nominations

Speaking of Ennies, the 2022 nominations are up! As always, I only know a small fraction of the titles in the list, and I’ll spend the next few weeks checking out all the other ones… Neither RuneQuest nor Glorantha feature in the list, but Chaosium got some nominations through their Call of Cthulhu line.

Frankly I think the RuneQuest Starter Set could have been nominated for best cover, and maybe best cartography (I have too many reservations about the rest of the box to imagine it could have qualified in any other categories, even though I think it’s one of the best starter sets out there).

The Well of Daliath Got Renovated

Chaosium’s Gloranthan resource site got some cosmetic upgrade and looks noticeably better than before! This is a good opportunity to check it out and discover the many interesting archived documents it contains… once again, this Timeline of Dragon Pass in the Third Age is among my most used resources!

Jonstown Compendium

The Jonstown Compendium is Chaosium’s community content program for all Gloranthan games, hosted on DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer: all the relevant links are affiliate links that hopefully will let us cover some of the hosting and maintenance costs for the website and podcast! Thanks for using them!

Children of Hykim

© 2022 Brian Duguid & Chaosium Inc.

It’s finally out! Everything you wanted to know about the Hsunchen, the “totem animal people of Glorantha”. Almost 160 pages of good stuff:

Twenty-one Hsunchen tribes living in the western and central parts of the continent of Genertela are described across the space of 158 pages, alongside extensive information regarding their culture, myth, technology, magic and more.

The book explains how to create a Hsunchen adventurer, gives tips on using them as adventurers or as non-player characters, ideas for high-level campaigns, and even information on Hsunchen Heroquesting!

A Brazen Visage

© 2022 Paul Baker & Chaosium Inc.

Paul Baker has released this “short adventure” (even though it’s almost 50 pages) set in the Arfritha Vale of Sartar. For those who have it, it contains material that expands Paul’s Red Deer Saga.

Stormspearia Books on Sale

Simon Phipp reports that Secrets of Dorastor, Book of Doom, and Holyday Dorastor: Seven Hills have been “tantalisingly close to new medal statuses”, so there’s a sale going on! It’s a special sale handled by Simon directly however, so get the details here.

Another Jonstown Compendium Platinum Seller

© 2022 Martin Helsdon & Chaosium Inc.

Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass, one of the inaugural offerings on the Compendium, has hit Platinum Seller status, joining Six Seasons in Sartar in that lofty category. Congratulations to Martin Helsdon!

Jeff’s Notes

Jeff Richard, the current mastermind on everything Gloranthan at Chaosium, is often posting notes and thoughts on the RuneQuest Facebook group. Here’s our curated list from the past week. A partial archive of these sources is compiled on the Well of Daliath.

A few notes on Lunar Army organization

Jeff presents the Lunar file of 25 men, consisting of three (!) half-files of six men with a file leader each, an officer plus three attendants.

A Cluster of Storm Gods

Guest segment by Joerg

Art by Katrin Dirim © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff gives another preview of the prosopaedia, and some details on Eurmal.

Eurmal? Eurmal is a deeper old thing. Surpassed Ratslaff as the deity of Disorder, and surpassed Tylenea as the deity of Illusion. The Trickster appears early, small and comical, but was involved in so many world-changing events that some philosophers think the Trickster is somehow tied to the Gods War itself.

In Fronela, Eurmal the Firebringer aka Friend of Men takes on an almost Promethean role. In one of Greg’s unfinished novels the Dawn Age Brithini and Seshnegi associated the Pole Star with Eumal the Lightbringer. This rather unusual positive image of Eurmal may have encouraged our Slontan God Learner colleagues to start the Trickster academy in their lands.

The fools!

The Lightbringers Pantheon

Art by Katrin Dirim © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

And here’s another similar preview, this time with the Lightbringers. There’s a bunch of names that I don’t know in there… but I love how Time is shown as an offspring of Arachne Solara and Wakboth. That’s one way to see it! Jeff also adds:

Sharp-eyed viewers might note a few apparent contradictions with previous genealogies but I assure these are knowing and accepted by cult members.

Lords of Terror

Art by Katrin Dirim © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

And since we were talking about Wakboth, here’s the genealogy of the “Lords of Terror”! I really love Katrin’s designs, here, she totally outdid her already usual excellent self with these pieces.

RQ Campaign book Sneak Peek

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff gives a rough outline of the early phases of the Great Argrath Campaign. It’s interesting to see that the “high level view” of the events, wars, and notable changes to the world are not just in Dragon Pass. Maybe the campaign book will be focused on Dragon Pass but still have some hints and scenario seeds for adventuring elsewhere…

The changes to cults (including new ones!), magical techniques, and heroquesting are probably the most interesting to me. More Eurmal clown societies? Yes please!

Lunar Settlers

Here are a few more notes on Lunar colonization practices, such as when the Empire sends farmers to the Praxian Grantlands. Plus: the difference between a Talastar farmer, a Carmanian farmer, a Redland farmer, and more!

One bit particularly jumped at me towards the end:

In Dragon Pass there were some rebels who were sent to other areas in the Lunar Empire as settlers. Members of the Maboder, Culbrea, Sambari, and Kheldon tribes, as well as from Far Point and the Bush Ranges, were forcibly relocated to settle in Talastar, Vanch, and the Doblian satrapy. The total numbers were likely not great – perhaps no more than a thousand in total.

My players have been causing trouble in the Far Point, and have been asking for some travel in the next part of our campaign… maybe getting sent to one of those far-away lands by the Lunar occupiers would totally work? (we’re currently playing in 1617) Plus, we would get to visit places that haven’t been covered much by published material!

There’s also a bit more on the topic in this other Facebook thread about the Borderlands campaign:

Let’s start by remembering how few people [were in Raus’ lands]. In the “Grantlands” (and by that we mean the Zola Fel valley between Sun County and the Rosgali Sea), had 10k people in total at its height. 4k of those are river folk associated with Corflu, plus maybe another 2k farmers at the river mouth. So let’s say there were 4k Grantland settlers in total, maybe half of them in Raus’ domains.

The nomads want the rich grasslands of the river valley. Left to the nomads alone, the likely fate is for those settlers to become the newest oasis people in Prax. But the nomads accept the leadership of a Sartarite, and Argrath (or his senior lieutenants) is certainly open to a deal where the settlements acknowledge his rule and come under the protection of the White Bull. Some raiding will of course take place, but low-level, like what happens in the Guardian Hills.

Yelmalio’s Sons

Or, rather, lack thereof:

Yelmalio founded no dynasties and is rarely claimed as the father of other deities or spirits. He is the god of Light, the bringer of Victory, and the upholder of justice. He was born when Yelm was murdered, a blindingly bright glare of magnificence like light from the sun. The light took the form of a new god and stepped into the world.

Unlike his uncle Dayzatar, Yelmalio is willing to get his hands dirty in this world. But I do not know of any child he created.

And:

Yelmalio is the Light. Since he is a part of Yelm (Yelm’s light made manifest) if you want to you can say that the children of Yelm are children of Yelmalio.

In Dragon Pass, the Yelmalio cult at the Sun Dome Temple are dedicated to the Light God. They might also worship the plough god Barntar (which they consider the son of Orlanth and Ernalda). Yelmalio competes with Orlanth over Ernalda – she is the great Earth Goddess, and that competition symbolises the competition between Air and Fire/Sky over the Earth. Yelmalio’s cultists certainly can procreate with Ernalda’s priestesses!

You might think about this way – Yelmalio’s Light blesses others to procreate and to live. 

Sorcerers and Familiars

It sounds like RuneQuest 3rd edition had something about sorcerers needing a “familiar”, as in: some magical companion animal. Although it might not be uncommon in Glorantha, it sounds like it’s not really mandatory — and for those who want them, a familiar can be modeled in RuneQuest Glorantha with an awakened animal and/or a bound spirit.

Malkioni sorcerers do not generally use familiars (in fact, there is no Create Familiar spell in the RQG core rules). They bind spirits, dominate spirits, elementals, and animals, and generally do as they will (within whatever limits set by tradition and by their sect).

But more interestingly, Jeff illustrates how diverse sorcerers might be with some numbers:

If we assume about 3% of the adult population in Malkioni lands belong to the zzaburi caste (which is probably high), that would mean that there are some 60,000 members of that caste in Seshnela, spread out through a total population of 2.88 million people. So there is a LOT of room for variation in what they do. Some might be attached the household of a talar ruler, others be responsible for the spiritual and magical care of a village, or work directly for the Rokari School. Still others might work for whoever pays them.

There’s more in this follow-up comment, including this clarification about Malkionism:

This is something that a lot of people don’t seem to get about Malkionism – it is humanist. It places mortal beings (let’s be more accurate, it places humans) at the center of the universe. Gods, spirits, animals, nature, plants, and everything else – we mortals have a right to overcome them and either place them in our service or remove them. Now it is perfectly acceptable for that to be done through an bargain (every year we exchange gifts with the elves of Tarinwood), or for a god to agree to aid us because it is an ancestor of ours, but we mortals do not need to submit to the senile demands of the gods to gain magic – we can simply take it through out intellect and will.

Caste Rightness

In a spin-off BRP Central thread of the previous one on sorcerers, Jeff shared a sneak peek at the Invisible God cult write-up, including some hint at mechanics for “Caste Rightness”:

Each caste has duties and restrictions which must be maintained to remain a member of the caste.  This is represented by the RIGHTNESS characteristic for Malkioni initiates. Initiates start with a RIGHTNESS of one. RIGHTNESS may have a score greater than one, representing the initiate’s reserve of righteousness. If a character’s RIGHTNESS is less than zero, that character may no longer use any caste magic or special abilities and risks being thrown out of their caste and exiled from Malkioni society.

Read the whole thing here, plus more about “piety” here.

Why Did Pavis Come To This Place?

If you’re like me and you’re confused about the history of Pavis, Jeff has a bullet-point summary of, well, not the whole thing, but the whole origin story at least. It’s still confusing but hey, it’s something. Although the obvious question that follows is probably even trickier: does this convoluted backstory even matter in a game?

Rune Magic Designer’s Notes

I complained in last week’s Journal that Jeff too often explains game design decisions as Gloranthan fact, as if Glorantha existed for real and Chaosium was just documenting it… so I’m happy to report some occurrence of an “actual” behind the scenes look at the design thought process that went into RuneQuest, namely Rune Magic:

In the original draft rules, you got access to ALL cult Rune spells at initiation – the only restriction was your total number of Rune points. Although this played fine and modelled Greg’s stories well, it had two problems:

1. Major problem – most players didn’t know their spells! If you start with three or four spells, the players (not the characters) tend to learn their spells quickly and then can build up from that. Too many spells at the get-go results somewhat paradoxically in a block in play as the player spends time looking up their options and reading about them.

2. How to handle subcults and associate cults. These tend to be localised and differ from temple to temple so it makes no sense for them all to be available upon joining a cult.

So we changed it so you got one Rune spell each time you spent a point of POW or by doing a favour to the temple or by offering something to the temple. That can be any of the special spells known to the temple, a subcult spell, or an associated cult recognised at the temple. That system works well.

But if your goal is to keep players from using the most interesting spells the cult has to offer, well that is NOT THE POINT. Not at all. My advice – let them have their fun instead of trying to block it.

Sounds good to me!

Miscellaneous Notes

Here’s what else Jeff posted about last week:

  • Some thoughts on stone masonry, and its dwarven origins.
  • Fronela, a strange place that recently emerged from the Syndic’s Ban. This is where you get your “classic sword and sorcery”, including Sog City, “Greg’s answer to Lankhmar”.
  • Notes on heroes and what they represent.
  • Some population numbers for the “civilized” part of Prax.
  • A comparison of Safelster with the Aztec city-states of Lake Texcoco in medieval Central America (among other possible inspirations).

Community Roundup

The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.

Keith Nellist’s Board Games

Guest segment by Joerg

Keith Nellist regularly posts drawings on Facebook. Recently he has started to put out covers that he drew for the various board game adaptations to Glorantha, some of which he has shared on various online media, others works in progress or rather works indeterminately delayed.

© 2022 Keith Nellist & Chaosium Inc.

Careless Tork Costs Lives appeared in the “raider’s digest” in 2000. It is a scenario for Dragon Pass, for three players, set during the Tarsh Civil War.

The Raiders Digest was a fan project from the GloranthaBoard mailing list (archived here, with many other mailing lists and forums on the topic of Glorantha, RuneQuest, HeroQuest and other Chaosium games). Keith also produced a number of historical Gloranthan games based on the mechanics of Britannia. The games Peloria, Kralorela and Fronela, which were published in the online PDF fanzine Rule One, might give you an idea about the kind of work that goes into these projects.

© 2022 Keith Nellist & Chaosium Inc.

The Composite History of Dragon Pass is an unfinished project, but still received the cover above. There are a lot more such covers, some spoof, some tied to projects.

A nice puzzle hides in this image:

© 2022 Keith Nellist & Chaosium Inc.

Note from Ludo: I’ve got no idea what I’m looking at… does anybody besides Joerg?

There is a lot more similar old project covers on Keith’s Facebook page.

Humakti Questing, Beer With Teeth Style

Guest segment by Joerg

Repeat podcast guest Diana Probst, aka Berra from Beer With Teeth, gave this after-action report of a Humakti quest gone weird back in 2019.

Some of Richard’s Broos

Richard Whitecraft has many broos… so watch out! (more pictures at the link)

Darkness Spirit Miniature

This scene is from Chris Went, and I love it!

The Great Library of Nochet

Michael Blum has made this awesome floorplan for the Great Library of Nochet! Shaped like the Truth Rune, of course…

Thank you for reading

That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!

Welcome to a new issue of the Journal of Runic Studies, the premier Malkioni publication for studies into the nature of Glorantha. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please consult with the spirit bound to the appropriate electronic page.

God Learner Sorcery

Here is what us God Learners were up to this week.

Slicing the World Banana

I wrote a little thing about my worldbuilding and adventure design process, after Diana Probst from Beer With Teeth wrote on the topic and invited others to share!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The Most Dangerous Places in Glorantha

Jeff’s choices for the most dangerous places in and around Dragon Pass are Snakepipe Hollow (of course), Dagori Inkarth (the troll stronghold north of Sartar), and… well, he gives out a couple of third choices! Namely: the Shadow Plateau and Dorastor.

Of course, people in the comments on YouTube, BRP Central, Facebook, and elsewhere have pitched in with their own favourite dangerous place, like the Upland Marsh or the Woods of the Dead. The best answer however is from Griff on Twitter: the most dangerous place is the left leg!

Jonstown Compendium

The Jonstown Compendium is Chaosium’s community content program for all Gloranthan games, hosted on DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer: all the relevant links are affiliate links that hopefully will let us cover some of the hosting and maintenance costs for the website and podcast! Thanks for using them!

Children of Hykim Status Update

It looks like Brian Duguid’s upcoming “Children of Hykim” book is almost ready to be released! In the meantime, here are some previews of Kristi Jones’ art, some of which are zoomed in from the actual piece.

The contents may change very slightly as I go through the final proofreading, but the book will describe 21 different Hsunchen peoples across roughly 80 pages*; there are about 30 pages of general material on Hsunchen society, mythology, history, spirit traditions, fighting tactics etc; 12 pages about Hsunchen characters and scenarios; and about 30 pages of appendices for those whose appetite for detail remains somehow unsatisfied.

Jeff’s Notes

Jeff Richard, the current mastermind on everything Gloranthan at Chaosium, is often posting notes and thoughts on the RuneQuest Facebook group. Here’s our curated list from the past week. A partial archive of these sources is compiled on the Well of Daliath.

More Genealogy Art Previews

Art by Katrin Dirm © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff shared another preview of Katrin Dirim’s work on the pantheon genealogies! This time, it’s the, let’s say, “extended” Earth pantheon (it includes various husband protectors of Ernalda, and gods like Mostal or Odayla).

First bonus: Mastakos!

Art by Katrin Dirm © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Note that just like the Darkness pantheon preview we got last week, these previews continue to evoke Aztec art styles (among others, probably). My original guess was that this was the art style of the Second Age, used by the God Learners themselves. It looks like Jeff is confirming it with the comments accompanying this preview of Yelm:

Art by Katrin Dirm © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

These illustrated divine genealogies were product of the New Mythic Symbolism school that first appeared in the Nochet and Boldhome Knowledge Temples around 1624.

The Mythic Symbolism school was a God Learner approach to divine iconography that was popular in Jrustela and Umathela in the 8th and 9th centuries. It was very stylied and took an almost heiroglyphic approach to divine iconography. Largely forgotten in Third Age Genertela, it was rediscovered recently in the Big Rubble by adventurers who made rubbings of a stele found in the ruins of Robcradle. Copies of those rubbings were circulated among various Knowledge Temples, and the style has become popular because of its comparative simplicity and ease.

An influential Grey Lord in Boldhome drew these particular images in 1625, part of series which she claims depicts the relationship and kinship of all the major deities, and was accompanied by a poem describing the origins and genealogies of the gods, called simply Catalogue of the Gods. This text proved influential in the Hero Wars and several heroquesters claimed it as an inspiration.

We found some more information here in our tower: “This catalogue of gods became so popular that a band of Issaries heroquesters started mass-producing it and leaving a new version every season on the doorstep of people in the cities. It was known as the Seers Catalogue”.

Aaaaannnyyway. Here’s more about Yelm:

Art by Katrin Dirm © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Several important solar deities are generally thought of as the children or lesser parts of Yelm, said to be created when Yelm was murdered by Orlanth. The God Learners called such entities “srvuali” – emanations of a Rune with a narrower definition but usually more approachable.

Probably the most important of these “parts of Yelm” cults is Yelmalio.

I never realized that Yelmalio was born out of Yelm’s slaying… huh. I guess it’s fine if he shows up before the Gods War though, after all there’s no time in the God Time, and one more version of Yelmalio can’t hurt, right?

The Cult of Odayla

Here’s a quick note on Odayla:

Odayla is a bear cult that is worshiped as a son of Orlanth. He’s usually found as a subcult of Orlanth in Dragon Pass but a few independent minor temples (I know of one on Jerra Hill) and shrines exist. But in Dragon Pass the independent cult is a rounding error.

In Sylila and the nearby provinces, Odayla is a bigger deal, with some 10,000 followers. In Sylila, his cult is comparable in size to Orlanth’s. He’s also found in Talastar, Anadiki, and Brolia.

At the end of the day his cult is that of a divine Bear God. His cult was more important in the First Age, when the King Bear cult was a big deal throughout the Pelorian Hill Country and even competed with the Heortling Orlanth cult for a while. But the Heortlings proved their Orlanth magic gave them mastery over the Bear God and now we have Orlanth Thunderous ruling the hill country instead of King Bear. Orlanth became a vehicle for magical exploration and quests, and his cult is broad and deep. Odayla in contrast is one of several Pelorian bear cults (although certainly the most numerous).

If you want more spells than Odayla gets from the core rulebook, David Scott has some advice for you, too:

The easiest way to give a cult new magic is through a local hero cult that gives one rune spell, that may even be unique. 

So you could have Great Sky Hunter, that caught the Sky Bear and tore a medium air elemental from it, or even pillage names from older publications:

– Kudran Golden Feather gives Sureshot (single shrine is somewhere in northern Sartar)
– Mabar the fisher gives Draw Salmon (single shrine is somewhere in Aggar). Draw Salmon (beast) is a one point version of Draw Prey that only works on Salmon.
– Ranoo Longlegs gives Endurance (single shrine is somewhere in Sylila). Endurance (beast) (1pt stackable) allow the caster to move / jog / run for 6 hours, without tiring as long as they are tracking / chasing prey. Each extra point adds another 6 hours (incompatible with extension).

Game Balance Again

Jeff talks again about “game balance”, a concept he likes to refute almost as much as people like to complain about its absence in Glorantha and RuneQuest.

One thing that is sometimes hard for people who are used to systems with a lot “game balance” is that not all Gloranthan cults are equal in terms of importance, access to magic, or utility. Let’s quickly compare the cults of Orlanth and Yinkin.

Orlanth is a first tier cosmological entity, one of the Great Gods of Glorantha. He is the main Air God, the Thunderer, god of adventurers, tribes, and kings, who led the Lightbringers on their quest to Hell, and who contests with Yelm over rulership of Glorantha. He has more than a score of special Rune spells, more than a dozen major associated cults, and four major subcults. If you want your character to explore Glorantha’s magic broadly and deeply, there are few cults better to do that with.

Yinkin is a third tier cosmological entity, a minor god. He’s the god of shadowcats, a feline native to Dragon Pass that are long associated with the Orlanthi people. He has four special Rune spells, is associated with two major cults, and has no significant subcults (his cult is too small). He’s the god of cats, and just doesn’t provide a lot more than that. Heck, the only reason he has much of a cult at all is that he is Orlanth’s half-brother and accompanied Orlanth on many adventures – most people worship him as an associate of Orlanth.

However, BOTH cults can be equal fun to roleplay. Yinkin’s magic is limited and his power small, but it is fun to play the worshiper of a capricious and mercurial cat. And although Identify Scent is not as combat useful as say Thunderbolt or Lightning, it does have its uses!

I don’t care about “game balance” but I want to share the following anecdote from one of my groups, which was all composed of newbies, because I think it’s absolutely relevant.

A player wanted to play a “hunter” adventurer from the get go. I tried to help him navigate the trio of hunter deities (Odayla, Yinkin, Foundchild) but without much success: it’s hard to explain what the difference is in terms of gameplay without looking at each spell they provide, and it’s hard to explain what the difference is in terms of roleplay without explaining a lot of Glorantha up-front. So after failing to summarize some setting lore, I aborted my rant and boiled it down to “hey do you want to worship a bear god, a cat god, or a dog god?”. He picked the cat.

Then the player noticed that the spell list was shorter than, say, Orlanth’s (which another player had picked and was happily shouting cool spell names). The Yinkin player asked what that was about and I indeed explained that Yinkin was a minor god and a small cult, whereas Orlanth was the main guy. Now, it is NOT obvious to new players WHY major cults get more magic and minor cults get less. Getting more political and social power? Definitely. Getting more powerful spells? Probably, yeah? Getting more spells? Nope, some of my players just shrugged. They didn’t really have a problem with it, but they found it odd. I sort of explained it by saying that spells come from stories, and major gods have more stories about them.

Next the player asked what else does that mean to be in a minor cult. I ended up explaining various temple sizes and how Rune Point replenishing works. The player got worried about that. For instance, he was worried he would have to disrupt the party’s adventures to travel to far apart Yinkin shrines or risk going without magic for some sessions. He also worried about not always getting all his Rune Points back, compared to initiates of bigger cults who have access to bigger dedicated temples. I reassured him that with associate worship he would probably be OK, and I would tailor adventures to make his character work anyway.

All these player worries need to be addressed quickly and efficiently in order to prevent seeing a player bouncing off the system at character creation. And these concerns were not really about “game balance”, they were about gameplay expectations coming from cult choices.

The sad thing is that Jeff’s comments on this topic invariably explain gameplay mechanics by, basically, saying “because it’s like that in Glorantha”. It’s ironic to me that a designer who is known to criticize people who play RuneQuest as “sim-Glorantha” is also justifying game design choices as, well, “sim-Glorantha”. I’m sure we could put this topic to bed if Chaosium shared actual game design notes. There was a conscious choice at some point to model Glorantha that way, as opposed to another way. HeroQuest’s Glorantha and 13th Age’s Glorantha actually vary quite a lot in terms of magic level in that regard.

Anyway, here are some more of Jeff’s comments:

Not every cult is going to be equal or anywhere near equal. Deciding to join the cat god cult is a player decision, not a GM. But you do what you want to do.

[…] If you enjoy having a broad range of spells to choose from, there are cults for you. If you enjoy playing from a short list of spells, or really just want two or three and don’t really care about having more, then there are cults for you, But not every cult is going to have everything for everyone. And nor should it.

[…] And rules reflect that. There are plenty of cults in the core rules. Most are major cults. A few are minor or very specialised (Eiritha, Foundchild, Odaya, Black Fang, Oakfed, and Yinkin). It was important to me to include those as well.

Glasswork in Glorantha

What’s the status of glasswork in Glorantha?

As we know that the Lead Dwarfs developed glassblowing, and are capable of remarkable works of art. Humans have a nasty tendency to steal the secrets of the dwarfs, so glass is likely far more common in places like Sartar, Pavis, the Holy Country, and the Lunar Empire than it was in the ancient world.

Majority Cults

Here’s a note on cultures and areas in central Genertela in which a specific cult has a membership over 30% of the population. If we’re talking about 30% of the entire population (not just the population that can join cults in the first place… but also, say, kids), then 30% is huge: that’s almost half of all adults!

Either way, I don’t think you’ll find any surprises in Jeff’s list.

Colonization in Glorantha

This interesting note deals with various Gloranthan factions that are known to have created settlements and colonies in distant lands — just like many real-world societies did in the ancient world (most famously the Greeks). As far as I’m concerned, this gives me destination ideas for my game, in which the player’s tribe is thinking of sending them away on a few caravan runs.

Fillichet

Jeff posted this note about Fillichet, which he describes as “the gateway to the Lunar Empire”, if you’re headed there from Dragon Pass pass. There’s also a bunch of useful information if your players are planning a trip into Lunar provinces, such as city leadership and notable temples. In particular, I find it interesting that there are shrines to deities like Voria and Ty Kora Tek, which I haven’t heard much about around places like Sartar… probably because Filichet is bigger than any Sartarite city (15k people, compared to Boldhome’s 11k).

Community Roundup

The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.

Hercules as Harrek

Fenris Games has a Hercules miniature that has a lion skin on his back… but you know what happens if you paint it white? Here it is, courtesy of Jim Mozley:

Bonus photo, still by Jim Mozley, a Moon Mask Assassin from Mad Knight:

Various Other Miniatures

Paul Baker shared some newly painted miniatures:

One tiger hsunchen (not really happy with it) plus a Feathered horse queen and Babeester Gor warrior. (Not sure of the weapon head sizes for either).. Just got to finish the mounted version of the horse queen.

And some Dragonewts:

Three devious dragonewts, quite happy with how they’ve turned out. Though the middle dragonewt ended up being right-handed by accident. Klanths courtesy of Atlantic Aztecs, cheers for the pointer Niamh.

NPCs by Lee O’Connor

Lee keep making these nice doodles!

Some more of these guys; Queen Samastina of Esrolia (complete with ‘Austin Powers’ style visual modesty props, because Bronze Age acccuraccy for lack of nudity taboo means I’m a creep in 2022), ol’ Dunorl Brandgorsson, Storm Voice of Clearwine and the female chief of the Ernaldori Clan in my game, who’s called Baranoste Estadottir. (Gloranthan scholars might notice some gender-bending there based on the ‘canon’, but she’s in charge of a matriarchal clan, so it would kinda follow that the leader would be female…)

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

Not everything is about Glorantha, although most things are! Here are loosely relevant things that we found on the interwebs.

Native American Miniatures

The “Going Native: Rise of the City States” Kickstarter is crowdfunding miniatures of various Native American and Pacific people.

I can see a bunch of Praxian, East Isles, and even maybe Pamalterlan applications for these… and there are even tapirs in the lot! There are also very cool prototypes for priestesses, Mayan battalions, and even native fantasy monsters!

Newtling Idol

Thanks to Nicholas Pagnuccho for finding it! You can find other fun newtling idols by searching for “frog garden ornaments” online…

Sigiriya

Sigiriya, in Sri Lanka, is an ancient fortress that sits atop a roughly 180 meters high rock. It was built in the 5th century CE by King Kashyapa, with various lion motifs, including a monumental lion gate whose paws are all that remains:

Photo by The Amazing World

The palace included many frescoes, a “mirror wall”, and various gardens. Once again, Earth shows you that you can get really fancy with your Gloranthan settlements without having to use the excuse that it’s a fantasy world!

More here, here, and here.

Orlanthi in a Nutshell

Looks like a good summary?

Storm Versus Fire

Storm and Fire, battling it over the Calbuco volcano (Chile, 2015).

Thank you for reading

That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!

Runic Rants is an irregular series of thoughts, opinions, and experiments about RuneQuest.

Beer With Teeth’s Diana Probst posted a new article about world-building:

Recently, talking to one of my players, I came to a realisation about a new way I could build worlds. I tend to start with very loose factions, which are really more ideas about things that groups of people want. When I fill those in, I add people, and then things like their secret reasons why they are doing a thing, and their motivations. However, it occurred to me I could slice that banana a totally different way.

And since she ends the whole thing with a call for comments, let’s talk about slicing the world banana!

The Blank Slate

I generally approach a blank slate with both places and factions.

I start by drawing or finding a map, to get a sense of the area. If it’s a fantasy world or imaginary place, I try to put some interesting things on it (which potentially have nothing more than a sentence, or even just a name). If it’s a real place (such as when I do modern horror), I look up a handful of actual landmarks. Some of these places might have some secrets, but I keep it short or even undefined (“haunted cave here, but I have no idea what’s haunting it!”). There’s no point in working on something that the players might never encounter — in fact, I have a couple “places with a secret” on my map that, after a year and a half of gaming, haven’t shown up in play. Good thing I only had a few words for each.

Then I create factions, their rough agendas, and whether they occupy a certain space or are more diffuse or scattered. Again, this is really high-level, I don’t have much more than paragraph at most for each faction. If I’m feeling fancy, I come up with a few possible future events that will happen if the players don’t disturb things: where and when the factions will clash, and so on.

Add Elements As We Go

As the campaign goes on, I indeed slice the world banana different ways depending on what happens from one week to the next.

If the players are going to meet with some NPC we haven’t seen in a while (or ever), I figure out what happened recently with that NPC’s faction (and related factions). Hopefully the players will find that NPC in the middle of some emergency, or the emergency will pop-up while the PCs are there! Basically, if at all possible, I try to not make it look like NPCs are standing around doing nothing until the players interact with them: I try to give a sense that they move through a living world, and that everybody has their own business to take care of.

If the players are going through a new area of the map, I figure out what’s there. Maybe I had material, maybe I didn’t. But as the players go there, I again try to make it look like someone or something has been living there. In fact, this is exactly what happened with my latest Jonstown Compendium item, Bog Struggles. The players wanted to avoid some Lunar bounty-hunters who were patrolling the main roads, so they crossed through a marshy area that I had originally put on the map. The extent of my notes for the area was “Newtlings?”. Yeah. And since it had also been a couple sessions since the last fight scene, I figured I would put those newtlings in the middle of some kind of crisis that required pointy things being waved around. If we had had combat scenes in the previous sessions, I would have instead designed an episode focused on trading or negotiation or something, and Bog Struggles would have come out completely differently!

Of course, because I hadn’t really thought of this newtling community much before, there is some retroactive world-building that unfortunately needs to happen. I mentioned that the player characters have indeed seen newtlings come to the city, or travel through their lands, on occasion throughout the years. Maybe if I had prepared this area of the map more in-depth from the beginning, one of the characters would have had some pre-established history with the newtlings. But that’s fine. If a character is a fisherman, or is known to belong to a family of fishermen, then we can do some quick flashback or simply state that they indeed know a bit about this newtling community. Otherwise, anybody else can roll Homeland Lore to see what they know. The merchant of the group might augment with Bargain because he might have done some trading with the newtlings.

Finally, sometimes secrets show up just because it sounded like a cool or fun idea at the time. My players recently had a run in with some ogres, and even got semi-infected with “ogreness” for a while. They had face an avatar of Cacodemon in a heroquest to get free of their Chaotic taint (using the Chaotic rules from A Short Detour, of course!) But then they stumbled on a possible secret that their tribe’s ancestors were cannibals during the Great Darkness (“hey, there was nothing else to eat at the time, you don’t know what it was like!”). Does this mean that half the people on the tribal ring are ogres? Maybe?! I don’t know, I’m figuring it out as we speak, and I really, really like what I’m finding out!

That’s why GMing is fun, people. You can slice the world banana any way you like, but it will always be fun as long as you mess with your players.

As far as I’m concerned, retro-actively fitting world-building and character background elements into the campaign is a fair trade-off for avoiding having the gamemaster do too much (or any!) preparation, and being able to improvise as we go, which means that the world is better tailored to the narrative needs of the campaign. Sometimes I mess up, sometimes maybe it feels a bit forced, but I learn from my mistakes and keep on going!

If you have any comment about this Runic Rant, or some ideas for a future installment, please send them to us!

Welcome to a new issue of the Journal of Runic Studies, the premier Malkioni publication for studies into the nature of Glorantha. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please consult with the spirit bound to the appropriate electronic page.

I have been extremely busy last week, so after attempting some annotation to Jeff’s notes, I eventually gave up, as I didn’t have enough time for worthwhile insights. So this week, Jeff’s notes are a small list of links with only a minimal description. As mentioned in a past Journal, now that Jeff’s notes are archived on the Well of Daliath, I might do this more regularly, freeing up time for Jonstown Compendium work…

God Learner Sorcery

Here is what us God Learners were up to this week.

Episode 13: Practical Ancient Warfare

In the newly released episode 13 of our podcast, we discuss practical ancient warfare with Lloyd, from the excellent Lindybeige YouTube channel. Weapon reach, attacks of opportunity, and the usefulness of shields are among the many topics we talk about!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

ChaosiumCon 2023 Announced

Next year’s ChaosiumCon has already been announced! It will happen on April from the 13th to the 16th, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was there this year and it was really fun (you can read my report here), so I will definitely try to be there next year. Hopefully some of you will be there too, so make sure to say hi! I’m easy to spot once you hear me talking…

A New Hero: Episode 02, Trials of Harvest

The new RuneQuest stream continues! And I still have to catch up to it! Aaagh, not enough free time!

Fantasy Grounds RuneQuest Module Update

© 2022 Fantasy Grounds & Chaosium Inc.

The developer on the Fantasy Grounds RuneQuest module says that “main development” is now complete and that beta testing might start soon.

Jonstown Compendium

The Jonstown Compendium is Chaosium’s community content program for all Gloranthan games, hosted on DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer: all the relevant links are affiliate links that hopefully will let us cover some of the hosting and maintenance costs for the website and podcast! Thanks for using them!

Duckpac (Book 1)

© 2022 Legion Games & Chaosium Inc.

Duckpac is finally out! This is the book that duck lovers have been waiting for years, and that fowl haters have been dreading for longer. This first book in a series of four has the title of “Lore, Legends & Myths” and provides an introduction to the Durulz tribe of Dragon Pass, including their foundation myths, culture and society, a gazetteer of their lands, and more. Books 2 to 4 will respectively be about duck adventurers, a soloquest, and some duck-related scenarios.

This is brought to you by Drew Baker and Neil Gibson who did a whole bunch of excellent supplements such a LEGION, Rubble Redux, and the QAD series. We also had Drew Baker on the podcast for our Biturian Varosh series (here and here), and Neil Gibson in our first episode and in our episode on gamemastering RuneQuest!

Hsunchen of the East Updated (Again)

© 2022 Paul Baker & Chaosium Inc.

Paul Baker has updated his compendium of eastern Hsunchen tribes again!

Added my take on the Sofali Hsunchen to the Hsunchen of the East. Plus a few snippets on the other minor Hsunchen of the region.

Jeff’s Notes

Jeff Richard, the current mastermind on everything Gloranthan at Chaosium, is often posting notes and thoughts on the RuneQuest Facebook group. Here’s our curated list from the past week. A partial archive of these sources is compiled on the Well of Daliath.

Lunar Nobility

Jeff was in a Lunar mood recently, starting with Hon-eel’s descendants, but quickly going into a quite detailed description of Lunar nobility, important noble families, artistocracy membership figures, growing up as a noble, and so on. Plus: tax demons, Dart Wars, Chaotic features as the new “holding up your pinky finger” fad, and the crazy multi-generational magical breeding program that created Jar-eel the Razoress!

Dart Warriors

Dart Wars were mentioned during the large walls of text about Lunar mobility, so Jeff added a bit more about Dart Warriors. Plus this about Dart Competitions, the semi-covert wars that Lunar aristocrat families wage against each other.

Lunar Colonists and Barbarians

Art by Anna Orlova © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Here is a note about two of the main population groups in the Lunar Provinces: Lunar colonists and Lunarized barbarians. Bonus: a work-in-progress picture of Fazzur Wideread (above), in his RQG incarnation.

Suppression of Orlanth Under the Lunar Empire

How does the Lunar Empire manage the Orlanth cult in its different provinces and occupied territories? “It depends”, but mostly “by playing the long game” and “by not being totally stupid”. Some good answers await in this note for those violent gamers who wonder why all Orlanthi haven’t been executed by the Empire for some reason.

Raus of Rone

Jeff posted this note about the life and origins of Raus of Rone, also known as that patron NPC you get in the Borderlands campaign. There’s also a theory about why Raus was exiled to Prax in there.

The Dragon Pass Campaign

Jeff is working on the “Dragon Pass Campaign“, which is sort of like the Great Pendragon Campaign but with more ducks (hopefully). Just like the GPC, the DPC is organized in broad “phases” that each cover a certain number of years, and each have a different vibe and arc. This is a good preview of what’s to come in the “Gloranthan meta-plot”, and I’m excited to see some playable material for what was, for so long, in “the future”.

Ages of Gloranhta

Since the Dragon Pass Campaign introduces the idea of ending the Third Age and going into the Fourth Age (whatever that is), Jeff also goes over what the different “ages” of Glorantha are, including those that happened before Time began.

Darkness Pantheon Preview

Art by Katrin Dirim © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The pantheon genealogies found in the Glorantha Sourcebook were nice, but are proving to be incomplete for the upcoming Cults of Glorantha books, so they have been re-done and expanded by Katrin Dirim! Jeff explains the process and shows us the Darkness pantheon, which has serious Aztec vibes.

Community Roundup

The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.

Simon Bray’s Redbubble Shop

Simon Bray has got an agreement with Chaosium to sell his Gloranthan art on Redbubble, so you can get the previously featured awesome Hill of Gold stations, and more, on anything from t-shirts to hats and stickers and phone cases and such. I especially love these cute Seven Mothers:

Get on there!

Impala Rider Miniatures

Chris Went has seemingly kitbashed some Impala Riders. They came up pretty nicely!

More photos and explanations here.

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

Not everything is about Glorantha, although most things are! Here are loosely relevant things that we found on the interwebs.

The Great Winter of 536 AD

Guest segment by Joerg

Maybe not quite the Lesser Darkness, but possibly an equivalent of the Windstop?

Thank you for reading

That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!