This week marks the amazing milestone of the 100th issue of the Journal of Runic Studies! Sadly, this is also the occasion to announce that I’m stopping publication of the Journal… so I guess there is no 100th issue after all and I just lied!

Such is the role of the Trickster.

It’s been a pretty eventful couple of years since we started doing newsletters. The first one was Wind Whispers, back when the podcast was called Wind Words. A worldwide pandemic happened, and it was relaunched when the podcast mutated into The God Learners. If you look at that very first issue, and compare it to any of the last few issues, the structure hasn’t changed much. But other things have changed, including:

  • Chaosium designers, especially Jeff Richard and David Scott, have become very active online, interacting with the Gloranthan and RuneQuest communities. We originally were the only place attempting to archive all this information, but David stepped up wonderfully and it now gets almost all archived on the Well of Daliath.
  • The community content programs for Chaosium games have become an immense success. During the Wind Whispers run we saw the appointment of Nick Brooke to the position of ambassador for the Jonstown Compendium, which now has more than 250 titles.
  • The fan base has grown tremendously, with many old hands and newcomers alike (re)discovering Glorantha. We started our Glorantha Initiation series to interview the latter, and still have many more people to talk to (if you’re waiting for me to reply to your email, know that I haven’t forgotten you!)

Those of us who came to Glorantha with the new RuneQuest line might not appreciate it, but I’m told by 1990s gamers that it’s quite an amazing thing to be able to fill several pages of weekly content for such a niche thing.

In addition to that, I’ve been learning a lot about both Glorantha and Earth. I’ve become genuinely fascinated by the ancient world, not just for gaming potential (although that, too) but simply because it’s super cool. I hope that you enjoyed following me as I researched, discovered, and mused about both worlds.

This all takes a fair amount of time. It takes between three and five hours to make an issue of the Journal, depending on how much research (thank the gods for PDF searches!) or YouTube-watching or whatever else I want to go through on a given week. I was glad to do it because it gave me a good excuse to learn more about Glorantha, about ancient history, about gamemastering, and more.

But I’m creating more RPG content lately. I’ve got an increasing amount of illustrations to make, half a dozen manuscripts to finish, and a few other unrelated hobbies and projects I’ve been neglecting. To continue, the Journal would require two or three other regular contributors… so after taking a good long look at my ever-expanding list of fun things I want to do, I had to prioritize. Hence this final hundredth issue. Which, again, is not a real issue!

Here’s what you can hopefully expect this year from me in terms of Glorantha-related material:

  • The podcast continues, of course. Only the newsletter stops. Joerg and I will be recording the next episode this week-end, in fact.
  • “The Bloody Banquet”, the all-Telmori one-shot RuneQuest adventure that I ran at ChaosiumCon (pictured above), is likely to be my next publication on the Jonstown Compendium. It’s almost fully written: it needs stat blocks (uuugh) and a couple of editing passes.
  • My long coming “kids intro campaign” for RuneQuest is next. It’s nicknamed “Goonies in Glorantha”, and this should tell you all need to know. The real title will almost definitely not be as good. It’s designed to easily introduce both players and gamemasters to Glorantha. It’s about half-written, but I don’t know yet if it will all fit in one book…
  • You should see my art in a few other Jonstown Compendium books this year. If all goes well, you might even notice me getting better!
  • With a couple of extra hours of free time each week, you may expect a few more occasional Runic Rants, Found Documents, and other similar articles around these parts. Maybe.

Of course, the goal is to spend my time doing other things anyway — if you’re into Call of Cthulhu, Delta Green, or Vaesen, you might see one or two things. If you’re into open-source development, you might too. And if you’re my neighbour, you might hear me playing more music.

I want to extend a big thank-you to everybody who supported the newsletter in the past, whether it was by subscribing to it, sharing it on social media, commenting on it, or sending us emails with corrections. Thank you for showing me I wasn’t just talking to an empty room! And on the topic of talking to an empty room, thank you to everybody who listens to and supports the God Learners podcast. Frankly, when I started it I genuinely expected to have only a dozen listeners for such a niche thing. Apparently, there’s more than a dozen of you giant nerds who want to hear people talk about an imaginary historically-incorrect fantasy world. Who knew!

If you want to follow what we’re doing, there are many options:

  • We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Mastodon. These are news-only accounts, so if you prefer my personal shenanigans, head over there.
  • You can also find Joerg and myself Discord. We hang around the various Chaosium and Glorantha related servers. If you need an invite link, contact us.
  • If you’re doing things right, you use an RSS newsreader and can subscribe to our main feed.
  • Hopefully you’re already subscribed to our podcast. If we do something really cool, we’ll probably mention it in the next episode. And you know Joerg: if it’s mentioned, it will be in the show notes!

Finally, please support us by using my affiliate DriveThruRPG code! Click here and start buying things! Hopefully, this includes my own RuneQuest adventures “A Short Detour” and “Bog Struggles“!

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.

Episode 23: Arkat the Minmaxer

Our new episode is all about the legendary figure of Arkat, with Bud (from Bud’s RPG Review) as our guest! Together we talk nonsense about Arkat’s life, accomplishments, war against Nysalor, and legacy. Of course we give plenty of ideas for using Arkati lore in a RuneQuest Glorantha game. Plus: conspiracy theories!

Note: Joerg went a bit crazy with the show notes… he had some corrections to make, and of course a bit of pedantry to indulge in! We might have to do another episode on Arkat to get it out of system…

Runic Rants: Spreadsheet for the People

I wrote a thing about the value of spreadsheets! Yes, spreadsheets! If you know me, you might not be surprised…

It might sound very nerdy, but I think a lot of questions get answered by making a spreadsheet for your Glorantha setting. The first spreadsheet I made keeps track of the population in terms of cult memberships, villages and farms, spirit societies, and so on. […]

This exercise really helped me realize a few things. For instance, you very easily “run out” of initiates for any given cult once you’ve allocated 2/3rds of your adults to Orlanth and Ernalda.

You might have already read it when I posted it on the RuneQuest Facebook group. If not, read all about it here!

ChaosiumCon 2023: Podcasting 101 Panel

As I mentioned in my Chaosium Con report, I was in a panel on podcasting alongside much more clever and experienced people like the great Seth Skorkowsky, Michael Diamond, and Arthur Rothfuss. The panel was moderated by the equally great Emily Mills.

Well you can listen to panel now on the Old Ways podcast, or watch us over here on YouTube:

Seth is of course the host of his titular and super-popular YouTube channel (along with being a fiction and RPG writer, and co-host of the Modern Mythos podcast), Arthur and Emily are part of Under the Library, and Michael is part of the Old Ways Podcast. And I’m the useless guy on the left.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Combat in RuneQuest

James Coquillat interviews Jeff Richard to get tips and advice for running RuneQuest combat, especially for newcomers to the game. The usual suspects are here: use augments, cast spirit magic buffs, do a volley of missile weapons before heading out into melee, etc.

By now you should be aware of my… conflicted feelings about RuneQuest as a game system, especially its combat. But I guess the good thing with this interview is that, in case you weren’t aware of it before, it should be clear that Chaosium considers the RuneQuest rules as entirely optional. It’s a rather substractive game system: an incredibly crunchy set of rules that you’re supposed to juggle and prune as needed to adjudicate situations. Most other game systems I’ve played (and like) tend to be, on the other hand, modular or additive, that is: you get some core minimal rules, and you add some improvised rules and rulings based on what feels right, or based on explicitly optional/extra rules.

Side note: there are a couple of art overlays during the interview, and I’m not sure if I’ve already seen them all in published material? Especially the one around 3:50? Has anybody seen that one elsewhere?

What Attendees Said About ChaosiumCon

Once again about my ChaosiumCon report, I linked at the end of it a bunch of other reports. But there are a few more! Chaosium has been keeping tabs on them and provided this short compilation of blog posts about their recent gaming convention. Of course my own report is on there. Feel free to check out others if you want more FOMO in your life!

Cover RuneQuest Maps Now Available for Download

Until now, the maps found in the inside covers of the RuneQuest Glorantha rulebook were conspicuously absent from the digital version. David Scott heard from the fans on Discord and fixed it! Yay!

Go to the Chaosium website, click on the “user” icon to login and access your account, go into the “Orders” tab, and find your order for the RuneQuest rulebook… this might require a bit of patience if you have as many orders as me. But once you’ve located it, you can click on the download icon and find the two new files!

David isn’t just helpful with digital downloads (he’s known to have fixed a lot of small issues with the RuneQuest PDFs), he’s also a great podcast guest! Check out our episodes on the RuneQuest Passion mechanics, or on Nomad Gods for more goodness from David!

Six Ages 2 Demo on Steam

If you’re eagerly awaiting the release of Six Ages 2: Lights Going Out, a demo is available on Steam right now! I haven’t checked it out yet so, err, that’s all I have.

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!

Shameless Plug!

The Jonstown Compendium has been a bit quiet lately so instead of just skipping this segment this week, why not do a bit of shameless advertising for my stuff?

© 2022 BOLT80 & Chaosium Inc.

A Short Detour” is an adventure in three acts that you can easily “sprinkle” on top of your ongoing campaign. It presents a tough moral choice to your players, and potentially introduces a cool villain! Plus, you get a whole deep dive on what exactly is Chaos, and rules for giving a Chaotic taint to your players! Errr I mean to your players’ characters!

© 2022 BOLT80 & Chaosium Inc.

Bog Struggles” is another easily inserted adventure in which the adventurers need to save a Newtling village from possible destruction. Spirit World horror meets cute amphibian people!

Both are Silver Best Sellers, and “A Short Detour” is actually getting into “possible Gold Best Seller” territory at this point. If you have already bought these adventures, a hearty “thank you” goes to you! If you haven’t, please consider making them your next Jonstown Compendium purchase! We don’t have a Patreon or anything like that for this podcast and this newsletter, so that’s how you can show your appreciation!

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.

Rule of Thumb for Gloranthan Demographics

I think I mentioned it already in the past, but the “new” rule of thumb for Gloranthan demographics is for about 2/3rds of adults and 1/3rd of children. Jeff confirmed this recently on BRP Central:

I used to assume as a short-hand that half the population of any given human Gloranthan community were adults, the other half uninitiated children. I’ve refined that somewhat, and now assume that about 60-66% of any given human Gloranthan community are adults, the rest uninitiated children. 

Now the reason for that comes down to lower children mortality, longer lifespan, and also that in most Gloranthan communities adulthood initiation takes place at around 14-17 years old. This ends up with the adult being initiated into a RuneQuest, although the full process might take several years.

For people making spreadsheets like me, this is good stuff! I did spot this change of statistics between the HeroQuest Red Cow books, the RuneQuest Gamemaster Adventures book, and the several clan statistics that Jeff kindly shared during the past couple years as a sneak peek into the Sartar Homeland book (see here and here, among others). I’ve been using this ~60-something% of adults in my world-building for the past couple years.

There are a couple other things to consider, which may or may not be “canon” but make sense to me:

  • Different clans and tribes might have different percentages of adults/children based on how they survived the Great Winter (aka the Windstop) and the Lunar occupation. If you used a 50% stat, congrats, you can add a sub-plot of many children having died during the Great Winter, and how that affects the community. Or, you know, just hand-wave it. The extra 10% of kids were grounded.
  • Becoming an adult is only one step in someone’s life. Children get initiated into adulthood between 14 and 17 years old, but then they undergo 2 years (sometimes 3) of apprenticeship with a cult. Maybe they stay in their village to work at the local Orlanth temple, maybe live in the city in the bigger Orlanth temple, or maybe they move away to Jonstown to be a junior scribe at the Lhankor Mhy temple. Either way, in my Glorantha, these young adults learn the cult’s skills and spirit magic during that time, and then they become initiate of the cult. So not all adults are initiated into a cult yet IMHO.

A few more rules of thumb come from last week’s post about Runemasters, which got a few more comments. I’m mostly interested in this one:

As another aside, I figure most initiates only make the single POW sacrifice and don’t continue going much deeper into the cult mysteries. They are likely concerned about other things like work, relaxation, sex, family, more work, avoiding work, feeding the chickens, etc.

It’s tricky to imagine why the average Gloranthan would not continue sacrificing points of POW to gain more magic, but not everybody is driven by a power-hungry min-maxing player. NPCs have a life to live after all, and sacrificing a point of POW takes a full week of prayer and meditation. Orlanthi farmers may not have the luxury of taking a week off, and may not get many opportunities to get a POW increase roll afterwards.

But in my opinion, a single Rune Point feels too low. Orlanthi farmers are also generally part of the tribal militia. Going on raids, fighting off trolls, and dealing with random monsters are all fairly common occurrences. This brings opportunities to raise one’s POW, and puts at least a bit of pressure to get some useful magic. After all, people worship gods because they provide useful spells, right? That’s often what we’re told.

So I figure most Orlanthi have between 1 and 4 Rune Points, depending on their age. They might be able to go meditate and sacrifice their POW once every couple years at best, probably shortly after winter started, or at just before spring. YGWV and all that, obviously.

Average Sartarite Clan

Speaking of cult demographics, here is an “average Sartarite clan” according to Jeff:

There are 157 clans in Sartar (not including the Telmori and Pol-Joni), with an average population of about 900 people per clan. About 600 are adults, and about 300 are children. The average Sartarite clan claims about 55 square kilometers of territory.

About 40 adults belong to the clan aristocracy of priests and thanes (and their immediate family), about 400 are full free members of the clan, about 100 are semi-free tenants and other adult dependents, and about 60 are unfree.

In times of war, the average Sartarite clan can muster about 200 warriors: 20 martial priests and thanes, and 180 militia.

Again, this is great data for world-building. Jeff even provides some rough cult membership for this average clan, showing how you have less than a dozen initiates of most Lightbringers’ cults. That’s the kind of stuff I put in my spreadsheets. Yes, I keep talking about spreadsheets this week… not my fault! It just happens!

Of course, these numbers assume that these cults are all spread out evenly among the clans, which is not the case. Yelmalio cultists tend to congregate into a handful of clans that are dominated by the cult. At least half of all Chalana Arroy, Issaries, and Lhankor Mhy cultists are in cities, where they make up a disproportionate percentage of the population.

There’s another set of cult membership figures for a Yelmalio-centric clan if you want to compare. That’s useful if you’re playing near Alda-chur for instance…

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t expect this from the upcoming Mythology book:

There are cult demographics for each homeland in the Mythology Book. Available soon!

Crown Tests and Chief Tests

The Orlanthi “Crown Test” is mentioned in passing in the RuneQuest Glorantha rulebook, as part of “Vasana’s Saga”. On BRP Central, Jeff shares a bit more about the requirements to become tribal king, along with some information on the “Chief Tests” and the similar requirements to become clan chieftain:

Keep in mind what a clan is – its an extended kinship group normally with a thousand or so people. The chieftain is the leader/protector of the clan. The title literally means “most important” or “big man.” The violent ethic of the Orlanthi lifestyle makes the chieftain a de facto warrior. He must also be just, to balance the many needs of his people; and strong, to represent them to the outside world. There is no gender requirement, but even if female, the chieftain is referred to as a “he”. He has the responsibility of being spokesperson and decision-maker for all members, especially in times of emergency. His success as community leader depends upon the support of the council and the folk, both of whom have separate methods of removing him from office, should the need arise. The clan chieftain serves as the speaker to the clan’s magical guardian or “wyter” and the recipient of the immense benefits and power that the community spirit may give.

Because of the importance of the Orlanth cult among the Orlanthi, the clan leader needs to have been an initiate of Orlanth for at least a year. Orlanth, not Orlanth Rex (they might be a lay member of Orlanth Rex as well or even a temporary initiate, but that is a tribal matter). 

If there is more than one candidate among the kin, then they have to prove their skills against each other in the Chief Tests.


[…] A chief is not a mini-king and the Chief Tests are not the Crown Test.

So the “Chief Test” are basically proof that the candidate meets the requirements of being a candidate – remember that the assembled members of the community ultimately choose who among the candidate will lead them.

The “Crown Test” is a ritual duel, display of magic, or feat of adventure (like a raid or quest). The more impressive the Crown Test is, the more obvious it is that the gods support that person to be tribal leader.


A clan is an extended kinship group, not a political district. So imagine the average clan in Sartar with about 600 adults. About 40 adults belong to the clan aristocracy of priests and thanes (and their immediate family), about 400 are full free members of the clan, about 100 are semi-free tenants and other adult dependents, and about 60 are unfree.

The chief is almost always going to come out of that group of 40, and most likely there are no more five or six potential candidates. Everyone in the clan likely knows who the potential candidates are. If there is more than one actual candidate, the 400 full free members decide who that is. But usually this is just decided by acclamation – everyone knew that Baranthos was going to become chief after his uncle died – his immediate family (who had led the tribe for nearly two decades) agreed that he was the family leader, the Clearwine Earth temple (led by members of his immediate family) supported him, and he even had ties to the Sartar Dynasty. There really was no other real candidate. 

Now among the Varmandi a few years back the choice was less clear-cut. After so much suffering from war and rebellion, the clan assembly was dominated by the women of the Ernalda cult and a wealthy (and peaceful) farmer was chosen instead of a Wind Lord (who had the backing of the Orlanth cult leaders). That happens, but it is relatively uncommon.  

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.

Unprofessional Unboxing of the RuneQuest Prosopaedia

Friend of the show Scott aka OrcusDorkus has a YouTube channel in which he does “unprofessional unboxings” (his words, not mine!) of various RPG products… well, his FOMO about ChaosiumCon was too great so I sent him a copy of Rivers of London and of the Prosopaedia while I was there. I’m happy to see that he received it in due time, and in good shape… this is your chance to get a good look at it until it’s available for general purchase!

Unprofessional Unboxing of Borderlands

Scott does another unboxing of a RuneQuest product in the same week! But here he goes back in time to 1982 with the classic boxed set of Borderlands! If you have the POD reprint, you might not know how it looked like in its original box, so check it out… boxed sets are super cool but sadly they don’t seem to be a viable form factor at the moment.

Exploring Glorantha’s First Age

This week, JM and Evan serendipitously talk about… Arkat! Just like us! Well, they talk about the First Age in general, but the synchronicity makes me smile. This was recorded before ChaosiumCon so Evan talks a bit about what he was planning to do there at the beginning.

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.

I originally posted this in the RuneQuest Facebook group, but of course I’m re-posting it here, lightly edited, for posterity.

It might sound very nerdy, but I think a lot of questions get answered by making a spreadsheet for your Glorantha setting. The first spreadsheet I made keeps track of the population in terms of cult memberships, villages and farms, spirit societies, and so on. You can make it as part of your campaign preparation, or you can grow it as you make stuff up for your game.

Over time, my spreadsheet grew beyond what would be considered “sane”, and nowadays I don’t even understand what’s going on in there (see above), but it was extremely useful.

This exercise really helped me realize a few things. For instance, you very easily “run out” of initiates for any given cult once you’ve allocated 2/3rds of your adults to Orlanth and Ernalda. There can be a certain amount of multi-initiation, of course, but in my Glorantha that’s quite uncommon. Allocating these numbers at the clan, tribe, and tribal confederation levels quickly shows you what kinds of shrines and temples you can and cannot have (based on the minimum number of worshippers from the rulebook). A clan can only support a temple to Orlanth and Ernalda, maybe one patron deity temple or shrine, and not much else. A lot of things will go up to the tribal or city level, where worshippers from many surrounding clans can gather and make a shrine (or more) viable. These are your minor cults (Babeester Gor, Chalana Arroy, whatever) whose members therefore live in the city and work for all the tribes, instead of being each “stuck” in their clan with only a handful of co-initiates and no good cult infrastructure. And even then you’ll often realize that some cults don’t even fit in your tribal confederation, and that’s when you’ll have PCs and NPCs travelling to another city for important worship and festivals and services.

This is similar to, say, the difference between the local countryside doctor, the specialist in the nearby town, and the hospital in the nearest city. Or the difference between your municipal police, state law enforcement, and federal agencies. Humakt is like the FBI, Storm Bull like the ATF, etc. The municipal police (Orlanth Adventurous clan warrior) is supported/complemented by the state (Orlanth Adventurous warrior from the tribal king’s retinue) You get the idea. In the amazing TV series Justified, Raylan Givens is a gender-switched Babeester Gor (US Marshall) who comes from the Harlan clan but now works at the Lexington city temple for the entire confederation… although of course he needs to constantly go back to where he grew up and deal with that drama.

This really helped me get a grasp on Orlanthi life.

Of note for the grognards among you, this is why all the little nitpicky cults from the old HeroWars books aren’t sustainable. They cannot logically be separate cults/subcults, there’s just not enough people. The spreadsheet immediately shows that.

But they can be used as narrative flavour for what happens inside a temple. These names and elements of lore can refer to cult heroes and cult spirits that are part of the main cult. They can be used to describe different “specialties” within this main cult. So you might have different types of Orlanthi cultists in the same way that you have different FBI agents. Data analysts, communications experts, and field investigators are very different, but they’re all FBI agents who work at the FBI office. You can use the obscure HeroWars names to describe different specialties within the Orlanth cult, but they’re still all Orlanthi cultists who worship at the Orlanth temple.

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.

God Learner Sorcery

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

Glorantha Initiation: Michael, Gloranthan Fiction, and Not Worrying About It

In our newest Glorantha Initiation episode, Ludo talks to Michael, who came out of the “deep freeze” with RuneQuest! We chat about old games, Prax, Gloranthan fiction, dealing with large amounts of lore, and not worrying too much about it.

ChaosiumCon 2023 Report

It’s April 2023, the Covid pandemic is still going, airline companies still suck, and the US is an increasingly dystopian place. So what can possibly make me take a flight to the US and spend time at some crowded indoors event? Well, it’s ChaosiumCon of course!

Here’s my report of what happened this year at the convention, I hope you like it.

Did you attend the convention and write about it? Send me your link and I’ll advertise it!

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!

Caravan Alley

© 2022 JK Revell & Chaosium Inc.

JK Revell continues his series of Praxian supplements with Caravan Alley, which focuses on the main trade route between Prax and Sartar. Just like the previous Day’s Rest, Caravan Alley is a medium-sized “mini-sandbox setting” that describes Praxian oases with NPCs, adventure seeds, and more. But unlike Day’s Rest single oasis, this one describes two oases: the Humakti dueling ground of Tourney Altar, and the fungus-riddled marshland of Biggle Stone!

Gloranthan Maps: Quivin Mountains, Heortland, and Skyfall Lake

Mikael Mansen is back with three maps: the Quivin Mountains, Heortland, and Skyfall Lake. Not much to mention except that it’s the usual quality and style that you’ve seen with Mikael’s many other cartographic offerings. I just wish there were more variety… for instance the Vale Of Flowers could have benefited from some unique colours and patterns?

Anyway, note that Skyfall Lake and Quivin Mountains get a bonus “winter layer” with a snow-covered style.

Coming Soon: The Queen’s Star

Austin Conrad, the author of (among other things) the Monster of the Month series, is teasing “The Queen’s Star”:

© 2022 Akhelas & Chaosium Inc.

A dream comes in the night. The shade of Kallyr Starbrow—once Prince of Sartar—asks the adventurers to be her hands in the Middle World. One of the noble Star Captains has gone missing…

This new site-based adventure for RuneQuest invites the adventurers to travel to the Cinder Pits in the heart of Sartar to discover the fate of a star who fell from the Sky. It’ll be around 30 pages.

This should be released in a month or two.

Interview with Nick Brooke in Never Mind The Dice Rolls

© 2022 Never Mind the Dice Rolls

Tangentially related to the Jonstown Compendium is this interview of Nick Brooke, in his capacity as Chaosium’s community content embassador, in the RPG magazine “Never Mind the Dice Rolls“.

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.

Celestial Gods Known by the Theyalans

The “ordinary Orlanth or Ernalda cultist” would know several “major celestial gods”, even though they don’t necessarily belong to the classic Theyalan pantheon, and even though they don’t necessarily find all of them important.

Jeff lists the following deities. I’m going to add a bit of information for those that I don’t know much about (which means maybe some of you don’t either):

  • Yelm is the sun god, and patron god of many Pelorians and Grazelanders.
  • Yelmalio is the part of Yelm that survived in the Great Darkness, brought light to many human, elf, and other communities. He is “easier to approach than Yelm”.
  • Dayzatar is god of the “Sky itself”… he’s obsessed with purity and detachment from material considerations.
  • Ourania is Dayzatar’s daughter, and Queen of the Heavens. She acts as Dayzatar’s voice (he’s not going to lower himself to, like, speak, right?) among other intermediary roles. Jeff also mentions the Celestial Chorus that Ourania leads. As far as I can tell, it’s a sort of choir that sings messages from Dayzatar to his followers. They have “angelic voices” and are called many names, like “Music of the Spheres“.
  • Polestar is the leader of the sky army, I guess. Or chief bodyguard of celestial gods. Kallyr Starbrow got the eponymous star gem stuck to her forehead from this guy.
  • Lokarnos is a “planetary god” (a planet instead of a star… so I guess you can land on them?) He invented the wheel, the wagon, counting, keeping time, and a few other super useful things for Yelm. He’s a Pelorian god of trade and travel, a bit like Issaries (I’m not sure if they’re friendly or not, though) If you check out the Red Book of Magic, you’ll see a couple of his spells, like “Coin Wheel” to… err, mint a Wheel coin from a block of gold, and “Hie Wagon”, which… err… makes wagons go faster? Yeah I know it doesn’t sound super amazing but I guess thoese are useful. Useful at least for teaching me the word “hie”!
  • Tolat is a war god who also is (or lives on) a red planet. Huh huh. I see what you did there, Greg. Tolat, aka Shargash, is a popular war god worshipped all around Glorantha. He’s a son of the Sun and the Night, and was born in the Underworld. He’s bad ass, has a big red sword, and he kicked Orlanth’s and Humakt’s butt a couple times.
  • Artia is the “Bat Goddess”. There are even Bat Hsunshen in Pamaltela who worship her as an ancestress. Bat people! Can you believe it? And since she’s a planetary goddess, you can point to her and say “Look! The bat signal!”
  • Moskalf is another planet, known as Entekos in Peloria. She’s the goddess of the calm, breezy summer air. She tells her brother Orlanth to take a chill pill and let the sun shine.
  • The Twinstars are weird: their associated deities allied with the Red Goddess in 1275 when some Imtherian hero named Jannisor almost sacked and destroyed Glamour. Part of his army was made of large number of Sable Riders. These people were somehow linked to the Twinstars, and whatever heroquesting shenanigans the Lunars did there helped “reveal” the association between the Sable Antelopes and the Red Moon. So the Sable Riders betrayed Jannisor and saved Glamour. Yay! If this all sounds super shady, it’s probably because it is. Anyway, these two planets change colours based on the Red Moon’s phase, a bit like Lunar traffic lights or something. Fun stuff.
  • Annilla is the goddess of the Blue Moon, responsible for the tides. She’s also good at hiding. Some trolls like her a lot.
  • And finally, the Red Moon of course. Not everybody likes her, but nobody can deny she’s there.

Air Gods Known by the Lunars

Okay let’s look in the mirror and see what air gods are known in the Lunar Heartland:

  • Orlanth, obviously. He’s big, he’s loud, he killed the sun god, fucked everyone with the Great Darkness, and then when he tried to fix his fuck-up he totally made it all about himself. What a jackass. Jeff adds this Lunar perspective: “Orlanth rejects Yelm’s authority and so the Red Goddess contends with him over the Middle Air, and many believe that if she succeeds, a new Golden Age will begin.
  • Valind is the god of the freezing winter cold. In theory, the Lunar Heartlands are far enough north that they should have very cold winters, with plenty of snow and ice, what with Valind’s Glacier nearby and all that. But Jeff mentions the Kalikos Expedition, which prevents this, or at least mitigates it. This expedition was originally setup by Emperor Reclusus in 1593. It’s an annual heroquest during which the best Lunar magicians and warriors go to the edge of the world to strengthen one of the four pillars that holds up the sky. Somehow that makes winters milder in Peloria? Go figure. It’s magic. Note that during the Hero Wars, Argrath also heroquests and fucks up the Kalikos Expedition to bring environmental warfare to the Lunar Empire. Because obviously that’s what heroes do.
  • We’ve already mentioned Entekos in the previous section.
  • Humakt is not really an air god but I guess he’s closely associated with them. “He is the Carmanian War God and is still worshiped there and in the Lunar Provinces. He was defeated by Yanafal Tarnils, who is the Lunar War God.
  • Storm Bull you also should know already. “He was the patron god of the awful Bull Shahs (and still worshiped by some Carmanians), and is worshiped by the hill tribes of Brolia and Talastar.

The Lunar Empire Armies

This follow-up note is about the war gods of the Lunar Empire. As expected it’s a lot of Yanafal Tarnils, Polaris, and Humakt, but also Shargash (which we just learned about above) and a guy called Avivorus, which I didn’t know before. He’s the “sun spear god”.

What’s interesting in this note is the break down of who worships who, between normal soldiers and ranking officers, and between different provinces compared to the heartland.

If you want to know more about the army, be sure to also check out this note on the military might of the Lunar Empire in 1625. The note compares the imperial armies to the other big powers of the time: the Kingdom of War, the Voor-Ash Pentans, Kralorela, Seshnela, and Loskalm. Sartar “barely even rates” at this point, but of course this will change.

There’s a lot of interesting observations in these two notes so I highly recommend reading them!

Thoughts on Gloranthan Religion

Jeff gets philosophical about Gloranthan gods and their worshippers.

Because the gods are powerful, but not all-powerful or all-knowing, the question of theodicy that so often consumes moderns just doesn’t show up. Ever seen a tornado close up? That’s divine power. Is it good or is it evil? It simply IS – a part of the cosmos. In Glorantha I can wield some of that divine power by initiating to the cult of Orlanth.

I was listening to a podcast about ancient Greece recently and this was a point that a guest historian was trying to make: that ancient Greeks did not really care much about whether this or that god was “good”. None of the Greek gods were “good”. Many of these gods were straight-up horrible people, and all made at least a few notable mistakes. The Greeks were aware of this, and did not hold up any of these gods on a pedestal…. well, ok, they did. They did build plenty of god statues on top of temples and so on, but I didn’t mean a literal pedestal, I meant a figurative pedestal. This wasn’t at all like modern religions that try to sell their god as being a perfect role model.

The Greeks, and virtually all polytheist cultures from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, only cared about gods that were somehow useful. Useful for everyday life, for work, for war, for love, and so on. In Glorantha, they are obviously useful since they let you wield their magic.

For those of you who keep referring to old HeroWars content (you know who you are!), Jeff also has some explanations:

Thunder Rebels really missed the point here – and Greg and I made the decision not to update it for HQ because we both agreed it really didn’t describe the Orlanthi religion in Dragon Pass. If it describes anything, it is the henotheism of the Chariot of Lightning movement in Ralios, where Orlanth is worshiped as the supreme god (instead of just “king of the gods”). But that is a topic for another thread.

Rule of Thumb for Rune Level Demographics

I’ve always hovered around 1% of a cult’s population at Rune levels (Rune Priest, Rune Lord, etc) but it looks like Jeff goes a bit higher than that for many cults:

[1% is] a little less than my usual rule of thumb. Most all adults are initiates, regardless of culture, and around 2% of initiates are Rune levels. So we’ve got about 1.2 million Lunar initiates (all cults) in the Heartlands, around 20-24,000 Rune levels, with around 10,000 Red Goddess initiates at max.

These are not hard numbers of course. Thanks to war, pressure, desperation, or whatever, with some cults the number might be over 2% and in others it might be closer to 1%.

So Sartar we have 34,000 initiates of Orlanth, but might have somewhere around a 1000 rune levels.

This is something you can keep in mind when doing some world-building for your campaign.

A Reminder About the Stafford Library

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Gloranthaphiles with too much free time often dig into the Stafford library books a bit too much, so Jeff sets the record straight about some of them:

The Heortling Mythology book was never intended to be canon. It just started from a desire that Greg had to have all the stories that appeared in various books in one place. He then added a bunch of additional stories, I added some more. It was a rough draft and notebook for what would eventually become Belintar’s book (which ultimately formed the basis of the Cults series). I proposed that we publish the book as a way of getting some revenue; Greg was ambivalent at best (just as he was about Arcane Lore) but went along with it. On retrospect, Greg’s ambivalence was well warranted.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Gloranthan events in a historical context: this is another occurrence of Jeff putting Gloranthan and Earth history side by side to remind people that a lot of stuff happened “a long time ago” as far as adventurers and NPCs are concerned.
  • These photos of the Colorado History Center can help add a little bit of Western Native American flavour to your Glorantha. Plus, Jeff reminds people of the value of using multiple different real-Earth cultures to inform your world-building: “So for example, the Orlanthi concept of sex and gender is inspired by the Bugis people of Indonesia.

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.

Austin Conrad Reviews Duckpac

© 2022 Legion Games & Chaosium Inc.

Well, yes… what it says in the title.

In 1982 Chaosium published the innovative species-specific “splatbook” Trollpak. This boxed set detailed the culture, religion, history, and society of the Uz—called trolls by humans—thereby fleshing this species out as a player option, rather than a statblock. It seems rather fitting that a nice, round forty years later indie publisher Legion Games began to release their homage: Duckpac.

If you’re duck-curious, check it out and hopefully it will help you make up your mind before buying! Austin tells you about all the bits he likes, and the few bits he doesn’t. Not much, as you can tell by some of his conclusions:

Duckpac attempts to bring ducks to your RuneQuest table as a fully detailed species for players, and it succeeds admirably. […] In my mind, this is yet another book which is absolutely not “just” a fan publication. Rather, I would call Duckpac another indicator that the Jonstown Compendium is maturing into a full “indie” or “third-party” publishing platform for RuneQuest.

There is also some advice on which print-on-demand version to get (premium or standard), if you’re planning on getting a dead-tree version.

Lee’s RuneQuest Playlist

Lee O’Connor (which we interviewed on the podacast) has shared this Spotify playlist of music suitable for playing during Runequest Glorantha games!

Of course, everybody has different musical tastes, different visions of Glorantha, and different needs for background music… but hey, a playlist to start from is better than nothing to start from, right? Expect plenty of video game, TV, and movie soundtracks in this one, plus a few deep cuts of scandinavian folk music and australian gothic avant-garde dark wave ambient err something. There’s even some Philippe Glass!

Brace yourselves: there’s almost a thousand songs in there, enough for more than 24 hours of uninterrupted play!

Thank you for reading

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

As I write this it’s late April 2023, the Covid pandemic is still going on even though most people pretend it’s over, airline companies are still cutting costs by reducing leg space centimetre by centimetre, and the United States is an increasingly dystopian and depressing place. So what can possibly make me take a flight to the US and spend time at some crowded indoors event? Well, it’s ChaosiumCon of course!

Don’t Go To The Basement

A couple weeks ago was indeed the second iteration of Chaosium’s own convention, held in Ypsilanti, Michigan, near Chaosium’s Ann Harbor HQ. And by “HQ” I mostly mean Rick Meints’ house, I guess.

All packed up for gaming, I flew from Vancouver to Toronto, followed by a short flight from Toronto to Detroit… that second plane led me to the bowels of the Toronto airport, and at some point I wondered if I would step into some sort of urban portal fantasy…

Unlike last year, I didn’t stay at the Marriott hotel, where the convention is held. I was instead hanging out with my friends from the Sons Of The Singularity, at some Vrbo house that they rented for the occasion.

Sons Of The Singularity, or SOS for short (I’m not sure what happened to the “T”) are fairly well known in the Call of Cthulhu community for producing well researched historical campaign and setting books such as The Sassoon Files (horror in 1920s Shanghai!) or Journal d’Indochine (horror in French colonial Vietnam!) I wrote a scenario for the latter (look for it in Journal d’Indochine Volume 2, it’s called “The Parchments of Tam”) and did a few maps and illustrations. Their current project is the currently crowdfunding Blessed And The Blasphemous, set in North Africa shortly before the Second World War… think Casablanca, but with some Mythos in it. And they also recently released Between The Devil And The Deep, a GUMSHOE-based supernatural pirate roleplaying game.

Photo by Jason Sheets. Yes, I’m the weirdo on the left!

Anyway, we had this very nice house located in a rather, ahem, picturesque neighbourhood, complete with run down houses, roaming pitbulls, chain link fenced backyards, and leftover Republican election signs. High five to the person on the next block with a US flag featuring the slogan “kneel for the cross, stand for the flag“. When you also consider that our house had a weirdly empty and possibly recently painted basement floor, whose door had a lock on the outside (the kitchen), we were getting some strong Barbarian vibes, here.

Of course, for a while we were thinking of playing a Call of Cthulhu game in the basement.

Last year I was happy to have hung out extensively with the Gloranthan crowd, but I was also a bit sad I didn’t get to spend much time with the other part of the Chaosium fandom. This year I managed to spend more time crossing these boundaries, especially while hanging out with the SOS guys, but of course now I’m sad I didn’t get to chat with fellow Gloranthan nerds for very long. Oh well.

Thursday Meetup

This year’s convention was a day longer and started on Thursday. I wasn’t registered for any games since I landed in Detroit in late afternoon, so I went straight to the “social mixer”. Last year was a proper banquet with seats around tables and all that. This year was more of a buffet with standing tables, allowing more mobility between people during the evening.

As always, this social mixer is good to catch up with people you’ve met last year, and to put a face on those you’ve only ever talked online with. The highlight of that evening was probably getting a great rib-crushing hug from Bridgett (whom we interviewed once), one of Chaosium’s community ambassadors. I’m sure that’s the only kind of hugs she gives.

While the vendor hall was getting setup, I got to say a quick hello to Dustin, the ever-so-nice customer service guy for Chaosium. I hope everybody was nice to him too!

The hall had the usual things: a sizable booth for Chaosium themselves, another sizable one for Petersen Games, and a few other stands for various other third party publishers. Once the hall opened for business, it looked more like this:

There were many good things to be had, from fancy HPLHS prop sets to print copies of things like Bayt Al Azif, and more! I know what you’re going to ask and yes, the Prosopaedia was indeed on sale, along with the Meints Index to Glorantha and Rivers of London:

You could also, if you were lucky, dig through a Pendragon 6th edition Starter Set boxed set, but these were only sample copies or contributor copies. It wasn’t on sale yet, but the fact they’re printed means it should happen soon! And yes, it looks gorgeous!


The next day started with me being on a panel alongside Jeff Richard to get people to “stop worrying and make Glorantha theirs“. But there weren’t many people in the room, probably for two reasons: first, most panels scheduled at the same time as game slots were poorly attended in general (compared to panels scheduled at other times), and second, anybody attending a Glorantha panel at ChaosiumCon is bound to be well versed already in Glorantha anyway! But we did rant about varying Gloranthas, RuneQuest house rules, and more. I don’t know if it was useful for anybody, but it happened.

There was also Rick Meints’ usual “All Manner of Chaos” panel, in which he talks about the history of Chaosium through anecdotes and trivia, in his signature friendly and affable tone. Some of the stories had already been told last year, and some were new. It all depends on what questions the audience asks, so if you ever attend one of Rick’s panels, don’t hesitate to speak up!

In the afternoon was my RuneQuest game, “The Bloody Banquet“. I had run this last year already, but I slightly tweaked it to improve the finale. Here’s the game blurb to save you a click:

You are Telmori Wolfbrothers, from the fierce tribe of werewolves who live at the edge of Sartar. You have a strained relationship with the other tribes of the Kingdom, but the Dragonrise ushered a time of turmoil that you can use to your advantage. Your tribe wants to take back the hunting lands they lost to both Lunars and Sartarites over the past couple generations, and that requires negotiating with the neighbours. The problem is: you were invited to a banquet and you blacked-out. Now, you’re waking up, covered in blood, surrounded by corpses. What happened? How are you going to fix this? What are you going to do?

I think it went well? I don’t know, you’ll have to ask my players! I will probably release the adventure on the Jonstown Compendium in the distant future, since it’s almost all written up by now.

As always, I had some cheat sheets and references in case there were any newbies, but of course everybody was already a RuneQuest and Glorantha expert… so much, in fact, that we ended the game more than 30min ahead of schedule, since we spent zero time explaining the setting or the rules.

That evening was a 13th Age: Glorantha game by Evan Franke, the co-host of the Exploring Glorantha series. We got to play trollball with D20s!


Saturday morning was fairly open so I looked for games with open spots at the last minute. I could have gone to some of the RuneQuest seminars, such as the one on the upcoming Cults of RuneQuest books, but like I said I wanted to meet more of the Call of Cthulhu crowd. So if there was a scoop to be had during those panels, I didn’t get them! What are you reading this blog for again?

I ended up in an absolutely great game of Call of Cthulhu, as we played through Paul Fricker’s My Little Sister Wants You To Suffer. It was a lot of fun and… well I won’t say anything to spoil the scenario but I won! Yes, it’s an adventure in which you can “win”. For a certain definition of “win”… I’ve already said too much!

Around lunch time there was an announcement from Sandy Petersen that he’s writing some Call of Cthulhu material again, including a Cthulhu-focused campaign. I didn’t stick around and instead had a lovely hour playing a very short demo game of Rivers of London with Lynne Hardy.

I really like how the BRP system (which, you might well know by now, I’m not a big fan of) has been really streamlined to an almost minimalistic level. It’s even simpler than Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. Of course, it was a short teaser adventure that is meant to leave you hungry for more, and it succeeded on that front.

Having some spare time before the next thing, I visited some more vendor tables. One of them was a demo of “Elder” the AI-driven VTT assistant for Call of Cthulhu, which Chaosium announced just after the convention:

It was pretty good, and you can definitely see how ChatGPT-like software can help run games… you could ask it for stats of Mythos monsters, rules clarifications, random afflictions for bouts of madness, and even descriptions of creepy locales.

There was also someone from Aetherworks showcasing some upcoming RuneQuest miniatures. They are really gorgeous plastic miniatures, with nice fine detailing. They are planning a Kickstarter for them, with the first offering being miniatures of the Starter Set pre-generated characters. The plan is to also have some variant miniatures for mounted/on foot versions, and to soon go into monsters and other NPC miniatures.

Last but not least was the lovely Katrin Dirim, who was on the podcast once (but we’re hoping to get her on air again!) She was selling prints of her equally lovely art. I got a few of them, as my luggage allowed!

The main event of the afternoon was of course the Chaosium auction, in which Rick Meints and Mike Mason expertly presented various near-mint items from Chaosium’s warehouse with funny anecdotes and personal stories.

Like last year, a few “professional collectors” were in attendance, decidedly snagging many items at outrageous prices. After all, these items were in much better shape than anything you can find on the second hand market, including some shrink-wrapped items. If you just want a reader’s copy, you might not need to pay the premium of a near-mint condition at Chaosium’s auction… still, the presence of these wealthy bidders was, at best, controversial among the rest of the crowd. I had spoken to one of those collectors at Thursday’s mixer, so I knew what their motivations were, but I also understand the frustration of those who can’t get any of the items on their wishlist.

I still managed to snag a few things, including a copy of the much reviled RQ3 Eldarad: The Lost City. Many people asked me if it came with a lighter… if you don’t get the joke, email me! But no, it did not.

The auction ran late which pushed my second panel a bit, as it was hosted in the same room. This was the Podcasting 101 panel, which featured Seth Skorkowsky, Arthur Rothfuss, Mike Diamond, and… errr, me. Mike recorded it for The Old Ways Podcast so you can watch us here:

All these people have much better and popular podcasts than our little humble God Learners podcast here, so I’m not sure if any of my contributions to the discussion were of any help to the people in the audience wanting to start their own podcast? I have frankly no idea what I’m doing most of the time, but it still more or less works out so I guess that was my main point: don’t worry about it, and don’t let it become a source of stress or hurdle.

It was a busy day so I only have a quick stop to see Nick and Bridgett selling Jonstown Compendium POD books. I’m told they did sell quite well! Plus, Nick and Bridgett really know how to celebrate other people’s work, the mood was very positive and supportive around the creator community. Even my SOS friends noted how little ego there was to be seen anywhere.

In the evening I played a game of Pendragon with Bryon Ross (who makes a lot of RuneQuest reviews and commentary on YouTube, some of which we linked to from our weekly newsletter). It didn’t start well: we almost had a TPK during the first encounter! Luckily, things went better after that and, although my knight died heroically fighting an ogre, the party managed to complete all the quests.

Disclaimer: my knight might not have actually “died heroically”. He might have died after taking a bench to the head while trying to cowardly sneak out of a castle. But the tales will totally say he died heroically!

The rest of evening was spent hanging out with many people from various crowds: Gloranthan nerds, 7th Sea cosplayers, Call of Cthulhu gamers, and many other random people. Like I said, I ended up not chatting that much about Glorantha, which was a bit sad, but then again I also got to meet more varied people and talk about more varied things, which is good!


On Sunday I only had time for one game before heading out to the airport, and luckily I got a spot in a 7th Sea game that proved to be totally awesome. I believe that we even completely sidestepped the adventure, and the gamemaster ended up improvising half of it.

We fought thugs, met a ghost, broke a nun-fighting ring (yes), got swallowed by a giant sea serpent, and more!

After that I hung out in the lobby with a few cool people for an hour or so, and headed out to the airport for the long way home.

Loot And Achievements

I came out of ChaosiumCon with some cool loot, a mix of new books and auction items plus a few extras, like some prints of Katrin’s art, or a copy of Khan of Khans, a super great Gloranthan board game that Chaosium is getting rid of for free since their licensing agreement with the designer expired:

Second, I’m happy to have completed the achievement of playing every single currently published Chaosium game in one week-end: RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, Pendragon, Rivers of London, and 7th Sea. 13th Age was a bonus.

Oh and if you want to nitpick this and say that, I don’t know, Superworld is still officially published, I’m going to say…. “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU“. Come on. I did it. Let me have this.

Finally, after much flying and waiting around in airports, I was greeted with the familiar Pacific Northwest native art of the Vancouver airport… I was home! And now you’re done with this report! As the saying goes: “sorry, I didn’t have time to make it shorter“.

If you want some better and shorter reports of the convention, check out:

Hopefully, see y’all next year!

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.

This was a pretty quiet week. I’m still catching up from all the stuff I missed while I was at ChaosiumCon, and there was also a confluence of other unrelated things (such as playing a live gig with my band last Saturday, which feels good after several years of, well, not playing live gigs…)

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!


James Coquillat (which we interviewed on the podcast!) talks to Jeff Richard about heroquesting, that elusive activity that is so important to Glorantha and yet isn’t really explained in the rulebook. Well, you know how the joke goes… (if you don’t, send me a message!)

The two main elements of a heroquest outlined by Jeff are a good start:

  1. It sends the PCs into the world of myths, where gods live and weird shit happens. Someone turns into a swan to have sex with a princess and together they have kids. That same someone gives birth to a fully armed and adult daughter which comes out of its head. Time jumps around as needed, space is malleable, causality is optional. That kind of shit.
  2. It lets PCs come back with powerful, non-rules-approved powers and magic items. And curses, too, if you mess up.

One element that seems to vary from table to table are the laws of heroquesting, that is: what’s possible and not possible to do via heroquesting.

This is a bit like, say, time travel. The first thing to know about time travel is “what are the laws of time travel in this game/story/etc?” Does time travel create parallel timelines, or is there only one timeline that keeps changing? If the former, can you jump to these parallel timelines or does your time travelling contraption lock you to a single timeline? Do small changes to the timeline tend to fix themselves through equivalent events, or do small changes to the timeline tend to snowball into a giant mess? Do paradoxes resolve themselves by erasing people out of existence, or do they completely break the space-time continuum? And so on.

There are equivalent questions to ask about heroquesting, and I get the feeling that different gaming groups handle it differently. How separate is the God Plane from the Mortal Plane? That is, can you change things in the normal world by changing things in the myths, or can you only bring back magical powers from the myths, which are then used to change things in the normal world? If the former, how hard is it to change the myths? We’ve got precedents like the God Learners’ “goddess switch” (in which they switched two goddess as objects of worship to see what would happen) or Prince Snodal’s murder of the God of the Silver Feet (which started the syndics’ ban, effectively a magical fog that prevented all travel and communication around that part of Glorantha). How much magic would your players need to throw that kind of shenanigan, is it a dozen Rune Points and a few good rolls away, or does it require thousands of followers and as many magic points?

You get the idea. And this in turn affects whatever house rules you might be using… at least until the official ones arrive.

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.

Late Stages of the Hero Wars

Jeff looks down the Gloranthan metaplot, all the way to 1639-1648, almost 20 years after the “starting time” of RuneQuest Glorantha:

One of the most interesting periods of the Hero Wars is the Lunar decade of 1639-1648. A new mask, Invictus, becomes emperor after the set backs and defeats of Argenteus, Kazkurtum, and Renovus, and rapidly rebuilds the empire. Like Khosrow II or Ashurbanipal, brought the Lunar Empire to its greatest height in 1645 before presiding over its collapse in 1646-1648.

Argenteus is the “current” Red Emperor (in the RuneQuest Glorantha timeline of 1625), but I have no idea when or how, in the Hero Wars, he’s supposed to die. He’s apparently succeeded by the several people name-dropped by Jeff here but I can’t find any references to them in my PDFs. If you’re shrugging, know that I’m shrugging too.

I can however save you a few clicks with a brief explanation of who Khosrow II and Ashubanipal are.

  • Khosrow II was the last great king of the Sassanid Empire, a 3rd-to-7th century CE empire that encompassed modern day Iran plus a few other territories. If you reach for “ancient Persians” tropes, there’s a good chance it’s them.
  • Ashubarnipal was much earlier. He was the last great king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, a 10th-to-7th century BCE revival of the older Assyrian Empire. That empire had declined and withered (especially with the Late Bronze Age Collapse), but the Neo-Assyrian kings succeeded with redevelopment and reconquest for a while.

Invictus ends up being completely destroyed by Sheng Seleris. The whole 1645-1655 period is one like the Twilight Period in the GPC.

By “GPC” here Jeff refers to the Great Pendragon Campaign, with its “Twilight Period” starting 48 years into King Arthur’s reign. All magic is going away, or is already gone, from the realm. All remaining major NPCs die or disappear, it’s the dramatic end to the Arthurian saga. Just watch Excalibur again, I guess.

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.

Coeur de Runes Gets an English Translation

© 2023 Uzz & Chaosium Inc.

We had already mentioned the free Gloranthan game system “Coeur de Runes” (and again here), which comes from the French side of the Gloranthan community. Its author Uzz has now done a first draft for an English translation of the rules.

You can get the PDF over here and send any corrections, feedback, and/or praise over here. You can also find Uzz on most of the Gloranthan Discord servers. If all else fails, send it to me and I’ll relay the message!

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.

A Malagasy Eurmali Tale

While listening to the latest season of the History of Africa Podcast, I rushed to my notebook to write down this tale of Malagasy mythology/history that can perfectly double as an Eurmali heroquesting power: a mighty rotten egg!

Creative Commons image

Okay so first let’s set the stage: we’re on Madagascar in the late 1500s, in the central highlands of the Kingdom of Imerina. Look for the “Merina” ethnic group in the map above to get a rough idea where there were.

The Kingdom was still pretty new at this time, having been founded in 1540, so its second monarch, Ralambo, needed a great idea to secure his legitimacy to the throne. Malagasy people at the time had magical amulets called “ody”. These were common and everybody had them, since they provided useful protection or blessings for every day life. Think utility Spirit Magic foci. But Ralambo came out and said “oh yeah you have some cool ody, but me? I’ve got some sampy“. These sampy are basically exactly like ody, but they’re super more powerful. They have magical powers that can affect an entire village or even, hey, guess what, an entire kingdom. And the king has them. What do sampy look like? Exactly like ody. But the king knows the difference, trust him.

Check out some ody and sampy:

So King Ralambo gets twelve super sampy (I’m sure the PCs in your Madagascar game were tasked to retrieve them, that was the whole premise of the campaign!) and gets them to be worshipped almost as individual guardian spirits of the community. These items would, under careful study by chosen adepts, “reveal” secrets that the King and his buddies could use to great effect. Think heroquesting powers provided by wyters, or something.

According to “oral history” (which very often steps into “complete myths”) one of the first sampy was called Kelimalaza. When some warriors from the nearby Sakalava tribes planned an attack on an Imerina village, King Ralambo said it would be easy to win the battle. He would simply throw a rotten egg at the coming army and Kelimalaza’s powers would do the rest.

Lo and behold, Ralambo throws a rotten egg at the one of the Sakalava warriors and magic happens! The warrior and his two buddies on either side step back to avoid the stinky projectile. Doing so, they impales themselves on the weapons of the second rank of soldiers. Those, and the soldiers around them, are spooked by this! So they also step back and impale themselves on the third rank! And again and again! After a comical wave of surprise followed by impalement, the entire enemy army was vanquished.

So there you have it: if your Eurmali adventurer heroquests for a great battle power, give them a rotten egg!

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.

This week’s newsletter is shorter than usual because I was at ChaosiumCon 2023 for the most part of last week… and in fact came back home very early today around 1:30 AM. I had a few naps to catch up on that missed sleep today! Big thanks to Joerg for writing a couple of short guest entries and make my life easier.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Chaosium Con 2023

The annual gathering of fans of Chaosium games in the USA has taken place in Ann Arbor for the second time, with most of the Chaosium crew and many fans from all over the world assembled. There will be a full blog post about it some time in the next couple weeks, similar to last year’s post.

Photo by Jeff Richard

For now, here’s a quick bullet point summary:

  • It was as great as last year. The small size makes it easy to meet new people that you run into a few times, and to catch up with people from last year. And of course, it makes Chaosium staff very easily approachable.
  • I played more games and went to less seminars than last year, and I hung around more with the Call of Cthulhu and 7th Sea crowds than last year’s almost exclusive RuneQuest crowd.
  • The creator community was great and very supportive. Bridgett and Nick did a great job selling a lot of POD books, too.
  • I have the Prosopaedia! It was available on sale as expected. During the Chaosium auction I also bought Eldarad: The Lost City! If you are facepalming right now, that makes me happy.
  • There were a few preview copies of the first three Cults books, and they look just about how you would expect. I only got to skim them quickly though. If you want to see a bonus feline, Noura has you covered.

Six Ages 2 Art Preview

Here is a great piece by Jan Pospisil for the upcoming video game Six Ages 2, in which you lead a tribe of Solar worshippers through the God Time’s Great Darkness.

© 2023 A-Sharp

A-Sharp, makers of the game, detailed their process:

Our process is typically: one-sentence description, detailed description (possibly with art reference), rough thumbnail, pencils, inks, and colors.

Jan Pospíšil’s illustration of battling ancestors developed from writer Robin Laws’s “In our clan hall, the spectral forms of our Rider ancestors on one hand, and our Ram ancestors on the other, square off as if reenacting a long-ago raid.”

You can see the original sketch and in-between steps from Jan’s art process in the original tweet. You can wishlist the game on Steam while waiting for it release.

© 2023 A-Sharp

You can also see more of Ian’s great art here.

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!

To Hunt a Much Bigger God

Austin Conrad’s farewell issue to the Monster of the Month series was “To Hunt a God“, featuring the Old Woods of northern Esrolia and its protector god. It took a bit longer than expected by Austin has now completed the second half of the book!

This 139-page publication includes:

  • The longform cult of Hrunda, God of Bluepaw Monkeys, including rules for creating new adventurers, new Rune spells, and path to shamanhood.
  • The macabre Temple of the Bones at which humans and animals worship Gods of Nature.
  • A 50+ page adventure which sees the adventurers heroquest into the Old Woods—a forest near Dragon Pass inhabited by elves and talking animals—to perform an act of divine euthanasia.
  • Extra encounters, magic items, and more!

Disclaimer: I have a few illustrations in this book. There are some things that might seem related to me but are just Austin fucking with me (check out “Ludvik’s Liquor“… enough said!)

If you have already purchased “To Hunt a God“, the new PDF is already in your library as an update. If not, what are you waiting for? Get this now! Also, you can get all the Monster of the Month issues in two bundles, here and here.

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.

Outlining a Campaign 20 Years from 1625

Guest entry by Joerg

Jeff shares his latest Gloranthan idea, a game during what he calls The Second Lunar Occupation of Dragon Pass:

Jotting down a few notes for my RQ and Cthulhu games I’ll be running at Chaosium Con, and had a crazy idea of doing an RQ short campaign set around 1645, during the Second Lunar Occupation of Dragon Pass. Everyone would play characters born around 1624, heck maybe Yanioth’s kids could be the among the pregens.

[…] I’m fascinated by the Twilight period in both Pendragon and RuneQuest, and am really interested in playing around with it more.

If you want context for what Jeff is talking about, check volume 2 of the Guide to Glorantha, especially the Takenegi Stele on p.744, the Black Mountain Pictoglyphs on p.747-749, The Fourth Inspiration of Moonson (p.749) and the excerpt of Ethilrist’s My History of the Black Horse Troop on p.750.

Some of the earlier imagery of the Takenegi Stele is found in the history section of the Sourcebook:

  • The Battle of Grizzly Peak on p.26,
  • The Fall of Boldhome on p.29,
  • The Building Wall Battle on p.30,
  • Starbrow’s Rebellion on p.31,
  • The dismemberment of the Holy Country on p.34,
  • The Battle of Auroch Hill and the overthrow of Queen Hendira of Nochet on p.36,
  • The Battle of Pennel Ford on p.38,
  • The Dragonrise on p.39,
  • Kallyr’s failed Lightbringer’s Quest on p.42.

As artistic counter-propaganda goes, these pieces of art are almost completely impartial in their presentation, showing both Lunar triumphs and defeats.

Jeff is giving a preview of what the occupied Dragon Pass is going to have to suffer:

Even if you start the campaign in 1645, we still have a lot of story to go!

Argrath’s disappeared, the Empire is aided by broo, vampires, Vadeli, Ethilrist, dwarf mercenaries, and more. All of the True Dragons are awake. The elf forests have expanded (although the Red Emperor has destroyed much of the new forests in Peloria and Fronela), the trolls raid far and wide, and many can speak with the dragonewts.

And much of that may be the result of the actions of your players in your campaign.

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.

Found Counters of Dragon Pass

The Kraken convention (which Joerg knows very well) has done many “fundraiser chapbooks”, a lot of which are now on sale on the All Rolled Up store.

I wasn’t aware of this until now but it looks like the Kraken convention has also designed some extra counters for the Dragon Pass board game with Greg Stafford. As far as I can tell this was done in 2016, with a limited production run of 50 copies.

Anyway, this year’s Dragon Pass game at the Kraken convention was run with these extra counters! I can spot some elephants, maybe some other Teshnan, or Kralorelan units… listen, I’m not good at this kind of stuff, I’ll let the nerds figure it out.

Photo by Fabian

Gloranthan Short Fiction

Guest entry by Joerg, edited by Ludovic

Austin Conrad (him again) describes an Ernaldan summoning rite in his short story “Calling on Ernalda“:

This week’s post is a short story I wrote to explore what the process of summoning and binding an earth elemental in RuneQuest feels like to the characters. Originally I was planning to set this at the Clearwine Earth Temple, but my fingers put it in Sylthi instead.

The great thing is that while the story describes what happens in-character, the section at the end goes over what happens in terms of RuneQuest mechanics.

Austin’s blog has other Gloranthan goodness, too, take a look around!

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.

Bronze Age Female Beauty

Guest entry by Joerg

Dan Davis explores Bronze Age standards of female beauty in Bronze Age Europe, offering visuals from many archaeological finds.

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.

Next week’s newsletter will probably be late, or skipped altogether, since ChaosiumCon is happening later this week! Wish me luck!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Non-Human Adventurers for the RuneQuest Starter Set

The RuneQuest Starter Set has no character creation rules (although the RQWiki does have some simple ones for free if you don’t want to invest in the rulebook right away). As such, the box contained many pre-generated adventurers, more than enough to last all the adventures therein and more. But all these adventurers are human, and some people were curious about playing other races. Chaosium had promised a long while ago that they would release some non-human adventurers in PDF, and it looks like it’s coming up soon!

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Jason Durall has posted a preview of one of these adventurers. As you can see above, this looks like a trollkin (or maybe young dark troll, but I think it’s a trollkin) with a cute little beetle companion. They sport a giant insect’s chitinous shell as a shield. The rose-tinted glasses and Moon Rune necklace seem to indicate this is a Seven Mothers initiate, which is quite uncommon for trolls, I think, so I think we’ll get a very interesting backstory!

Prosopaedia On Sale At ChaosiumCon

Chaosium president Rick Meints has confirmed, on the Glorantha Discord server, that copies of the Prosopaedia will be on sale at ChaosiumCon! Expect me to run and crash into the sales stand as soon as I can.

Good News For Us Canadians

Rick Meints (him again!) has posted on BRP Central that Chaosium is “a few weeks away from having our new Canadian shipping partner ready to process orders.

You may remember that the previous Canadian warehouse contractor flaked on Chaosium, resulting in us Canadians having to order from the US fulfillment centres instead, which leads to higher shipping fees (plus custom fees!) It’s great to know that Chaosium went pretty fast with securing a new contractor. Fingers crossed! I hear we have quite a lot of new books to order this year…

Basic Roleplaying Out in PDF

We already said it was coming out, and now it’s out! If you get the PDF now, you’ll receive a discount on the physical book if you buy it directly from Chaosium.

While it’s not directly related to Glorantha, the BRP system did originate from RuneQuest, and this book contains many extra rules and sub-systems you may find useful if you want to tweak and customize your RuneQuest rules. If you don’t want to fiddle around with rules, or if you already have the Big Gold Book, you might not find this new release as useful.

Note that this is released under a draft version of the ORC license.

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!

Preview of To Hunt A God: Part 2

© 2023 Akhelas & Chaosium Inc.

Austin Conrad has posted this preview (above) of part two of To Hunt A God! This amazing painting is by Laura Galli.

Part Two is a free update to the existing To Hunt A God: Part One, so if you don’t have it yet, grab it now! (disclaimer: I did a few drawings in there) Part two will add another 70 pages or so to the PDF.

Preview of Highways & Byways Remastered

© 2023 Neil Gibson & Chaosium Inc.

Neil Gibson’s Highways & Byways is getting remastered ahead of getting a print-on-demand run! Look at those maps! Did I ever mention I love maps? I feel like I may have kept this to myself all this time… anyway, this is just a sneak preview courtesy of Neil. He says that it will contain “extra content and high resolution maps“. Yay!

I have used Highways & Byways a couple times already in my game to figure out travel times. The only problem is that my players are currently “off the map”, down there in Caladraland trying to fight off Greymane’s army… oh well, they’ll get their ass kicked soon enough and go back to Dragon Pass, right?

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.

Boats of the Pelorian Riverfolk

Peloria, where most of the Lunar Empire lies, has a big river and lots of wetlands, which makes reed boats a popular way to get around:

The Diros or Yestendos boats used by the Riverfolk and Weeders of the Lunar Heartlands are mainly reed or wooden in construction, with curved bows and sterns. Although we often associate that with ancient Egypt (such as the Khufu boat), we could also associate them with the reed boats of the Andes or other Native American groups.

Diros the Boatman is one of the earliest gods related to ships and river navigation. It provides magic to propel boats safely and quickly, and is often friendly with river cults, such as Prax’s Zola Fel cult. Interestingly enough, Diros is also related to the famous “Boat Planet” which disappeared when the Closing of the Oceans happened. It seems like maybe Dormal, who spearheaded the Reopening of the Oceans, made Diros come back… or found a way to treat the oceans like a big-ass river? Oh and during the heyday of the God Learners, we sort of subsumed the cult of Diros inside that of Wachaza, our seafaring war god. This is useful when all your ships are warships!

Yestendos is just the god of the reed boats. Not much else to this guy except that he’s a husband of a couple of wetland goddesses of Peloria, which sounds about right if you want to take your reed boat around a marsh.

Creative Commons photo by Kairoinfo4u

The Khufu boat is from ancient Egypt, and named after the monarch who erect the pyramid in which it was found, dating back to around 2500 BCE. It’s a “solar barque” which means it’s associated with the Sun God Ra. It’s obviously firmly in the “wooden” barque category.

Creative Commons photo by Dennis Jarvis

For the “reed boat” category, Jeff points us to the Andes. See for instance this traditional reed boat above on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

Collectively, the cults of Oslira, Bisenslib, and Surenslib number some 320k members, of which maybe half are Riverfolk or Weeders. They speak some variant of Boatspeech, thought to be more related to the language of the Zola Fel Riverfolk and the Right Arm Islands than to any of the Pelorian Farmer Languages (including New Pelorian).

Oslira is of course the goddess of the Oslir river, which dominates the Pelorian basin of the Lunar Empire. Bisenslib and Surenslib are those two wetland goddess I mentioned before. Surenslib is associated with the heron, too.

The Pelorian Riverfolk and Weeders can be found along the Oslira and Acos Rivers and their tributaries from Oraya to Saird, and a related group along the shores of the Sweet Sea and the Janube and Poralistor Rivers.

The Beast People

As the saying goes, nobody complains about minotaurs and centaurs, but everybody’s got an opinion on ducks! Well, there are way more ducks anyway:

There are some 25,000 Beast People and another 10,000 Ducks in Dragon Pass. The Beast Men include centaurs, ducks, minotaurs, satyrs, manticores, tiger-men, bird women, fox women, bug heads, and often many different shapeshifters.

Outside of the ducks, the largest number of Beast People are centaurs, some 8250. Now that is a LOT of centaurs! Most stick around Beast Valley, but bachelor bands can be found throughout Dragon Pass and beyond.

I hope one of those bachelors is a player character in your group… or maybe you have an all-centaur band! Centaurs are the most important after all: the King of all Beast People is the centaur Ironhoof (details and stats are available in The Smoking Ruin and Other Stories)

Beast People counters from the Dragon Pass board game © 2023 Chaosium Inc.

There’s also a lot of minotaurs, some 6250, in many small herds throughout Beast Valley. Male minotaurs tend to be dominant and defend the herds, and female minotaurs raise the children. Both male and female minotaurs engage in displays and fights to determine status among them. Minotaur herds often cooperate with centaur herds.

It’s surprising to see how many minotaurs there are, given how the Travels of Biturian Varosh make them sound super mysterious… I guess they are mysterious if you live in Prax and have never visited southern Sartar. Note that, still according to the Travels of Biturian Varosh, there are small enclaves of minotaurs in select elf forests.

Satyrs are a little less numerous, with some 4250 throughout Dragon Pass, although most reside in the Beast Valley. Although it is usually assumed they are all male, there are female satyrs as well as male. The female satyrs are generally considered better behaved than the male!

There are surprisingly many manticores, with some 2000 throughout Dragon Pass. They are very independent and individualistic, but do follow Ironhoof’s directives.

Finally there are some 4550 other Beast People, including tiger-men, bird women, fox women, bug heads, and other shapeshifters.

Note that the Glorantha Bestiary has short sidebars for creating centaur, minotaur, and duck adventurers! No sidebar for other Beast People adventurers though, but it shouldn’t be hard to come up with something based on the NPC stat block.

This is the first time I hear about tiger men. Sounds fun! Bird women and bugheads are mentioned here and there in published material but without any more details, so feel free to make something up. In fact, among these 4550 miscellaneous Beast People, I’m sure there’s room for any horrible chimera your imagination can summon!

And now, for your free license to sprinkle Beast People anywhere you want in your games:

A handful of Beast People have decided to live among the humans. There are some satyrs in the woods and hills, a few bachelor bands of centaurs and minotaurs, and the occasional manticore hunting livestock. There are also those Beast People who serve as mercenaries or bandits. And then there are the truly unusual Beast People like the famed satyr gourmand who lives in Boldhome or the centaur who joined Lhankor Mhy.

Beast People largely avoid human contacts. The Ducks are an exception of course, as they are passionately loyal to the House of Sartar.

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.

Dave Thaumavore on the RuneQuest Starter Set

Dave Thaumavore reviews the RuneQuest Starter Set, or at least the overall box and the Rules booklet (a follow-up video will look at the Glorantha booklet).

I found myself nodding a lot while watching this video… the good points of RuneQuest are the setting and the mechanics that tie the characters to it, the gritty combat, shamanism, etc. But Dave doesn’t shy away from pointing out things he doesn’t like, many of which I don’t like either: the resolution tables, the augment mechanics slowing down play, the (too) long list of skills, and Strike Ranks being, well, Strike Ranks. Dave even says Strike Ranks might be a barrier to entry to some beginners: I agree with this, but every time someone mentions it, fans and Chaosium people come out with anecdotes of newcomers who love the system. I’ll just put this link here and let you figure out what I think of that…

If you like Dave’s stuff, check out his Patreon.

Broos on a Dune

It’s been a while seen we’ve featured some Gloranthan miniatures here! Thankfully, Gabor Nagy (aka GabORK) has posted about painting some broos miniatures on their blog. This includes a short break down of the creative process behind it:

I had to keep two important things in mind during the process:

  • Runequest is a bronze-age setting, so – instead of steel – I used bronze, copper and brass for the weapons. Initially, it felt restrictive but I soon started to enjoy using these colours.
  • The Broos are the creatures of chaos. Normally I use a more or less uniform colour scheme for a warband but in this case, I did the opposite and aimed for variety. I picked multiple colours for their skin and fur, so that no two figures have the same colour combination.
Photo from OrkAngel

There are a lot more details, and photos of more Broos (including a winged shaman one!) over at the OrkAngel blog.

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 Assassin’s Teapot

Here’s a short video on a cool thing commonly called “the assassin’s teapot”. It’s a teapot with two chambers for storing liquid (with one being presumably poisoned of course) Using science, it lets you pour from one or the other chamber.

A cursory search on the interwebs indicates that the origins of this teapot are, at best, murky. It might originate from the Ming dynasty in China, but this sounds to me like some salesman’s hastily made up sales pitch. If it’s true, though, this is technically “too late” to put in a “bronze age world” like Glorantha, but when did this ever stop anybody, including the game designers? If you want to keep the teapot’s Asian origins, you can of course say that it comes from Kralorela or Teshnos, and somehow found its way to a scheming Esrolian grand-mother, or an ambitious Lunar politician.

But why would Gloranthans bother with this kind of stuff when they can, you know, use magic? Well I think that not using magic is actually of great advantage in Glorantha! Your schemes can’t be exposed by detection spells, guardian spirits, or whatever. I think you can for example easily circumvent the effects of a Create Market or Warding spell with this teapot and carry out assassinations in broad daylight at the market! And one of the players in my group is playing an Issaries merchant… mmmh. Trouble is brewing!

The Neverending Storm

This rather dramatic video shows the “Catatumbo Lightning” of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. The name Catatumbo (which means “House of Thunder”) comes from the Catatumbo River, which empties itself into the lake. From the Wikipedia article:

[It] occurs for 140 to 160 nights a year, nine hours per day, and with lightning flashes from 16 to 40 times per minute. […] The phenomenon sees the highest density of lightning in the world, at 250 per km2.

According to the NASA’s Lightning Imaging Sensor, it’s the “Lightning Capital” of the world.

Creative Commons Photo by Fernando Flores

This phenomenon seems to be caused by the confluence of warm air coming from the Caribbean Sea and cold air coming down from the Andes mountains.

I wish Jonas Piontek’s video was a bit clearer about which shot was a timelapse and which shot was an real-time film of the lightning. But I assume that the shots featuring people staring at the lake were played at normal speed — and given the number of flashes visible in the span of a few seconds, it looks like an awesome thing to witness.

The implications for Glorantha are self-evident, although Orlanth’s most sacred places tend to be mountain tops. For instance, there’s the very, ahem, Gloranthishly named “Top of the World” mountain between eastern Ralios and western Lunar Empire, which is said to be where the Storm God resides. But I wonder what we would have if Greg Stafford started his world-building efforts with a Storm God that was associated with rivers and lakes instead?

Creative Commons photo

Quickly looking into local mythology, I haven’t found what sorts of gods the people of northwestern Venezuela had… But, somewhat unrelated, I found out where the southeastern Venezuelan gods lived! They lived on tabletop mountains which the locals called Tepui. You might not be surprised to learn that this means “House of the Gods”.

Anyway, Jonas Piontek has many photos of Catatumbo Lightning on his portfolio website, and you can order them in print if you want. More here and here.

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.

Episode 22: People of Glorantha: The Lunar Empire

This week we welcome Nick Brooke, who tells us all about the Lunar Empire. We chat about what RuneQuest adventurers might know and think about the Lunars, the history of the Empire, playing a Seven Mothers initiate, and, of course, Chaos and Illumination!

As always, get our episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Some Book Previews

Photo by, err, I think, Jason Durall © 2023 Chaosium Inc.
Photo by, err, I don’t know who © 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Just some pictures of a few upcoming books… some of the Cults of RuneQuest books, and the Meints Index to Glorantha in print (you can already get the PDF here)

As usual you can spot both the “normal” and “leatherette” versions of the books, although the Prosopaedia doesn’t seem to have a leatherette treatment here. I don’t know if it’s just missing from the picture, or if it won’t have it at all… I don’t care, I don’t buy the leatherette versions anyway. I prefer the pretty colour cover illustration, and I like having all my book spines looking the same.

Six Ages 2 Announcement

This isn’t strictly speaking Chaosium news, but it is “official licensee news” or something. The sequel to Six Ages (itself a, let’s say, “spiritual sequel” to the cult classic King of Dragon Pass) is now formally announced! There is no firm release date, but there is a fancy trailer (see above)

© 2023 A Sharp

It sounds like you can import your clan data from the first Six Ages, or create a new clan. The new game is called “Lights Going Out” because you will experience the Great Darkness: some of your gods die, Chaos invades your lands, and bad things happen in general.

© 2023 A Sharp

You can see more pretty pictures here and here, and add the game to your wishlist on Steam.

Tribal Compatibility Charts

Here’s a little tidbit of information on the upcoming Sartar Homeland book: it will have some tribal compatibility charts, similar to the one for cults:

In the forthcoming Sartar Book there is a Tribal Compatability chart showing the relationship between all the tribes. There are a lot of tribes with hostility towards each other, but other than the relationship between the Telmori and several other tribes, only the Dinacoli and the Cinsina are enemies. The Malani and Colymar are hostile, but are not enemies.

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!

The Book of Doom in Print

© 2023 Stormspearia & Chaosium Inc.

Simon Phipp’s Book of Doom is available in print-on-demand! This is the book for people who always want more “stuff” in their RuneQuest games, like new spells and skills, new optional rules, new magical items, and more.

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.

The Battle of Heroes

Jeff talks about the Battle of Heroes and the Hero Wars in general for RuneQuest:

During this period the setting changes. What was true in 1625 might be false 20 or 30 years later. New cults will appear. Some old cults will change or even die out. A lot happens and much of this is decided by your individual campaigns.

Now before anyone starts whinging about metaplots or other such complaints, remember that this has been the foundation of the setting since before RQ was even a concept. In fact, RQ was created for this – it is an unfortunate trick of history that it took fifty real years to get there!

[…] Anyone paying attention knows the basic contours of 1625-1628. Soon enough there will be guidelines for the whole Hero Wars period. I can’t wait to see what you all do with it!

I assume that, at the end of this quote, Jeff is talking about the upcoming “Dragon Pass Campaign” book he’s been working on for years. As far as we know it’s written in a style similar to the Great Pendragon Campaign, a generational campaign framework with a year-by-year high-level view of the “metaplot events”, along with many adventure seeds.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Chaosium will handle the RuneQuest timeline, and whether they will end up “stuck” in 1625 the same way previous RuneQuest editions were stuck in 1621-or-so. On the one hand, Chaosium promotes this upcoming world-shaking series of events, broadly known as the Hero Wars. On the other hand, we know the downsides of published products that advance the timeline: a book of adventures set in an Argrath-occupied Far Place, for instance, will be of little use to many people whose games have Argrath elsewhere, possibly still in New Pavis as per the RuneQuest rulebook.

My own naive prediction on the matter is that Chaosium will have one sequential line of books for the Hero Wars, and everything else being loosely tied to it or not at all:

  • So there would be a series of “Dragon Pass Campaign” books, each advancing the plot by a few years. These are absolutely dedicated to the “metaplot”, but presented in a way that makes it easy to tweak the timeline as needed.
  • All adventure books would be either loosely set in 1625 (the “starting” year), or have adventures that don’t get tied much with the political landscape. The “village threatened by a monster hiding in the woods” sort of adventure, with possibly some suggestions for integrating it with this or that year of the “metaplot”.
  • And then all kinds of book independent from all this, such as the Cults of RuneQuest books, Gamemaster Guide, various Homeland books (which describe their areas “up to 1625”), and so on.

This way you get the benefit of the “metaplot”, but all tucked inside a designated campaign book that gets a sequel once every few years. What do you people think? What would you like to see from Chaosium?

The Two Suns of Glorantha

Technically, Glorantha has two suns (a bit like Earth having more than one moon):

To me, one of the more interesting celestial phenomena in Glorantha is the relationship between Lightfore and the Sun. Lightfore rises each dusk in the east, and sets each dawn in the west. It is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Red Moon.

[…] At the Dawn, the Little Sun set and the Sun rose. Many religions link the two, as Lightfore and the Sun follow exactly the same path. Some versions of the story have the Little Sun carry or pull the Sun through the heavens.

It’s super interesting to think about how the people at the Dawn would have reacted to this. They had only known the Great Darkness, with maybe Lightfore’s dim light as the only “natural” source of light. Maybe they remembered (or had stories of) the previous Ages during which it was just, like, day all day long. But now the Sun is back but it’s moving across the sky (“what?! that’s new!“) and then going away (“oh shit! not this again!?“) and then back the next morning (“phew! that was stressful! is this going to happen all the time now? what the hell?“)

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

To look into this kind of thing, Jeff points at The Glorious Reascent of Yelm (GRoY), one of the Stafford Library books. It deals with the Solar cults around the 3rd century. But Jeff also warns that it needs to be taken into that historical context:

One of the problems with GRoY is that it is a document from the mid-First Age when a lot of stuff was still being explored. […] It is trying to make sense of phenomena that from the Third Age perspective have long been resolved.

See also Jeff’s list of the brightest-to-dimmest objects in the sky.

Calyz, the Fire of Men

Argan Argar Atlas © 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Teshnos is a place I don’t know much about. It’s a sub-tropical region in the southeast corner of Genertela… if you look at the map above and go northwest from Teshnos, you end up in the Badlands and other Wastelands east of Prax. South of continental Teshnos (off the bottom of the map) is the island of Melib, which is also considered part of Teshnos.

Teshnos has fire-worshipping people, a bunch of custom Sky Gods, cool exotic Hsunchen tribes (including tiger people!), war-elephants, rice fields, opium dens, pirates, many dwarfs, and a shitload of elves. Have I sold the place to you yet?

And this brings us to Jeff’s note on Calyz, one of those custom Sky Gods:

The most interesting of the Teshnite gods to me is Calyz, the Fire of Men, inventor of cooking, smelting, and sex. Calyz is beloved by the common folk of Tesnos and one of the most popular cults in Teshnos. He serves as a protective deity in many Teshnite households.

The cults of Teshnos include:

  • Calyz, as already mentioned.
  • Solf is the “lord of volcanoes”, and basically an aspect of Lodril. But Solf “burned himself out” (I assume Teshnos has many dormant volcanoes) and now he’s a “lazy god of decadence”. If you want to do drugs or other kinds of depravities, he’s your guy.
  • Somash is the god of the Sun, plus all kinds of fancy things (government, warriors, poets, etc) Probably an aspect of Yelm.
  • Furalor is the Cleansing Fire and Goddess of Death. Jeff says the God Learners identified her with Oakfed, which… is a bit a let down if you ask me. Someone probably messed up their thesis and nobody bothered to redo the experiments.
  • Tolat is a war god, associated with the Red Planet. He might be an aspect of Shargash, the Dara Happan war god. He’s also related to some kinds of moon stuff… I don’t know, moon stuff gets complicated. I’ll just slowly walk away and mention that there’s a pile of material related to this guy in the Guide. Some reading for another day.
  • Zitro Argon is the god of old people. I suppose you can worship him to get coupons for that all-day-breakfast place around the corner.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. The son of Solf, the God Learners identified him with both Gustbran the Workfire and Mahome the Hearthfire.

[…] Now Calyz is a pretty complex deity compared to Gustbran and Mahome. He’s an inventor and crafter, crafty and clever, and also one who cares about ordinary mortals.

I can’t find any good reference to Calyz being a son of Solf, but hey, why not. But it’s indeed interesting that Calyz is identified as two deities, here. Gustbran is a minor redsmithing god, and Mahome is a minor household fire goddess. How the hell do two minor deities fuse into a major deity in Teshnos? This opens up some… interesting avenues of research for us God Learners. I mean, can you Voltron-up a couple minor gods and make something cool? Or are Gustbran and Mahome actually inferior, partial masks of Calyz? Let’s start fucking around the God Plane… I’m sure nothing bad will happen.

By the way, Jeff also mentions that many Lightbringer cults are found in Teshnos, brought by the God Learners and by ongoing trade. I figure that Teshnos is a good intermediate stop between the Holy Country, Kralorela, and the East Islands. This means that a lot of silk, spices, and other luxury goods would be found transiting through Teshnos… something to think about if your players want to take their commercial business to the oceans! Watch out for those pirates, though.

Miscellaneous Notes

Here are this week’s notes for which I don’t have any commentary, or for which I ran out of time, but are still worth a quick read:

  • Some notes on shamans, and how some practice their shamanism as a sort of side-gig to their main cult (like Earth witches or Kolatings), while other cults integrate shamans in their cult hierarchy as “shaman-priests” (like Daka Fal or Gorakiki).
  • It’s not the size of the cult that counts, it’s the, ahem, place in the Cosmic Compromise, or something. Anyway, here are some more membership figures in Sartar (including the Far Place) for the “small cults”, along with a few comments. And a bonus note for the Valind cult.
  • A reminder that Sartarite clans generally have mixed membership systems, as opposed to strictly patrilineal or matrilineal.

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.

Vistas of New Pavis

© 2023 Matthew Cole

Matthew Cole continues his “Vistas of New Pavis” project, which includes the 3D modelling of New Pavis. The picture above is a view of Parade Way from the Pavis Temple on a day of some city celebration.

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

The Pavis Temple is that thing at the bottom of the map above, leaning against the old giant wall. Parade Way is the north/south street leading to it. You can get a nice PDF of this map of New Pavis here.

For another vision of Parade Way during a bit worship celebration, see the cover of the now out of print Pavis: Gateway to Adventure.

All Fool’s Day

It was of course April Fools day last week, and Austin Conrad, who loves playing tricksters, has an appropriate new bit of world-building on “All Fool’s Day”:

A Sartarite custom declared by the local chief or Rex’s bonded trickster on an irregular basis (usually some time during Disorder week of Sea Season).

On All Fool’s Day, the trickster priest declares themselves the new King of the Gods. They drag out the local Inner Ring wearing ox’s harnesses and begin ritual abuse of the council. This ranges from verbal mockery to physical assault. Chalana Arroy’s representative can ransom themselves with a kiss, but no one else is exempt.

The trickster then holds open-air court, declaring judgments over any dispute brought before them. Once all judgments have been proclaimed, they leave to begin a secret ritual known to lay persons as “Getting a Head Start.”

After sunset the community typically frees their leaders. Any member of the Inner Ring not released by popular acclaim is surely doomed to lose their position!

Find more of Austin’s stuff on his website, and on the Jonstown Compendium!

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.

Roman Road Construction

Okay so yes, yes, I know, not everybody wants their Lunar Empire to look like Romans but hey, it’s an easy pop culture way to picture parts of your Glorantha, and it’s the way our most recent guest, Nick Brooke, promotes in our interview with him. So let’s look at some Roman stuff! Namely, Roman roads!

Creative Commons image

At the height of the Roman Empire, there were 400,000 kilometres of roads. One of the most famous of these roads is the Appian Way, which connected Rome to southeastern Italy. But with its famous stone pavement, the Appian Way sort of gives the wrong impression about Roman roads:

Photo by Carole Raddato

It looks like only about 20% of all roads were paved, and that was mostly inside cities. The majority of Roman roads were made of packed material, as explained in those two short videos:

The interesting bit in the second video are of course the ditches, 20 meters away from the road on each side, to make life difficult for “unauthorized vehicles” and highway bandits. Feel free to add similar measures to your Gloranthan roads, whether it’s the Sartarite King Roads or the Pelorian highways…

But most importantly, you know those Hollywood movies where an action scene ends near a construction site for a highway bridge? Yeah, now I want to do that sort of stuff in Glorantha too, with out-of-control road construction animals, carts of big rocks knocked over in front of the adventurers, and people falling off an incomplete aqueduct!

Do you have more ideas for cool RuneQuest action scenes? Share them with us!

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.

Review: RuneQuest Weapons & Equipment

I finally wrote a review of the RuneQuest Weapons & Equipment! This is a long-form review, but it’s maybe not as long as it may seem since there’s a lot of pictures too (the book is so pretty!) You might read things that echo what you’ve seen in other reviews, but you might also read a few new takes and comments on the book. Either way, I hope you find it interesting!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The RuneQuest Starter Set in Two Minutes

Do you want to convert your players to RuneQuest, but they have a short attention span? Noura Ibrahim, who played in the Glass Cannon RuneQuest game, has got you covered!

She has posted this sponsored two-minute look at the Starter Set, with a promo code at the end for ordering the box. Your players have no more excuses!

Interview with Jason Durall: Breaking the Lore

RuneQuest creative director Jason Durall talks about when to break away from “canon” in your game, and how much you can get away with. There are a couple nods to the usual “Your Glorantha Will Vary” motto but the interview is generic and broadly applicable to all games.

Chaosium Con 2023 Announcements

Guest contribution by Jörg, with some edits by Ludo

As the date approaches (13th to 16th April 2023) for the second ChaosiumCon, game slots have been filling up, more game are being offered, and various blog posts give details about upcoming events and panels.

The Cults of RuneQuest Panel will have Jeff Richard and Jason Durall presenting this milestone of Glorantha publications. Seth Skorkowski will be returning to Chaosium Con and star in three panels, one of which (Podcasting 101) will also feature our own Ludovic-aka-Lordabdul as one of panelists. There will be several other panels for other Chaosium games with luminaries from the respective fandoms, like the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

Prosopaedia Preview

Jeff shared these photos of the upcoming Prosopaedia book… looks good! I’m starting to suspect there might be advance copies at ChaosiumCon… fingers crossed!

BRP SRD vs Big Gold Book

We know that a new edition of the Basic Roleplaying book is coming out soon, but Rick Meints has also confirmed that there would be a free PDF containing just the BRP SRD (System Reference Document):

There will be a free SRD related PDF for BRP with no art, etc. That’s part of the ORC license announcement.

We will also be selling a hardcover full color BRP book with color art (PDF option as well).

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!

Edge of Empire in Print

© 2023 Runesmith Publications & Chaosium Inc.

Harald Smith’s Edge of Empire supplement on the Kingdom of Imther is now available in print on demand! If you want to know more about it, you can listen to our interview with Harald.

Edit: I forgot to note that the cover has changed for the print on demand version! Check it out below!

© 2023 Runesmith Publications & Chaosium Inc.

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.

Tartyra the Humakti vs. Anaxos the Horali

Jeff compares a Humakti initiate with a Horali soldier from the West. The Humakti, of course, goes into combat with the help of her Rune magic, spirit magic, and any bonuses or protection cast by allies. The Horali are similar in some ways, and different in others:

When Anaxos the Horali goes into combat, he is aided by friendly spirits to aid him in minor ways as well. He might also belong to a martial cult (if permitted by the local talars). Anaxos is Seshnegi, and his talars have enrolled a local (and limited) version of Humakt – giving him access to Truesword. Although he has good armor and well trained, he has less direct access to magic than his barbarian equivalent.

So Anaxos is a member of the Horali caste, i.e. the soldier cast in Malkioni society. The Talars belong to the noble caste, and the Zzaburi (see below) belong to the sorcerer caste. The last unmentioned cast are the Dronars, the farmers and workers. If you want some inspiration for the way Malkioni society works, you can for instance look at Vedic India and their Varnas, of which there are also four (surprise surprise).

It’s interesting here that the Talars can seemingly enforce “limited access” to a deity otherwise known “in full” elsewhere. I wonder how this is done? Maybe they only allow building shrines, which provide a single Rune spell?

But if the talars demand it, Anaxos is supported by the magic of their wizards, which if properly prepared is every bit as formidable as what [a Humakti] has, and maybe even more! Long term spells such as dampen damage, boon of Kargan Tor, or warding against weapons make Anaxos a terror on the battlefield. But only if Anaxos has the support of his talars and they command their zzaburi to cast those spells.

That’s how sorcery ends up working in Malkioni societies.

The great thing with sorcery is that, given enough time and resources, you can totally overpower spirit and Rune magic. Boon of Kargan Tor (available in the RuneQuest rulebook) gives a bonus to weapon damage, but unlike Truesword (which has a fixed, non-stackable effect) or Bladesharp (which few would have above level 4, and almost none above level 6), it can be boosted very high.

For instance get one sorcerer, three apprentices, and a few servants or magic crystals. The apprentices cast Enhance INT on their boss, each giving him, say, +3 INT. The boss normally has, say, Free INT 8, but now has Free INT 17. Assuming they have mastered the Death Rune and the Summon Technique (it’s their job to provide support to soldiers after all!) they can spend manipulate 17 levels of Boon of Kargan Tor. Let’s spend 8 of those on +2D6 damage, and 9 on duration, so that it lasts two days. Not bad… this is already, on average, better than Bladesharp 6.

At this point, each extra apprentice that can cast Enhance INT gives you an additional +2D6 damage for these two days… so grab those foreign exchange students who skipped your class earlier this week and force them to forget all their spells except Enhance INT. Lo and behold, your Horali goes out for their mission with +6D6 damage on their weapon! Try that with your stupid puny Rune or spirit magic, hah! And that’s even before we consider that this spell could have been written, partially or fully, in a grimoire!

But ultimately, it really depends on Zzaburi support:

Not [sic] that sorcery is very socially useful. It just is not as useful for free-wheeling adventurers. Or members of societies that don’t want to support a bunch of specialist sorcerers.

More here.

Also, yes, I’m totally expecting one of you to send me an email about some sort of sorcery rules mistake I made in the text above. Don’t disappoint me, people!

In Glorantha, Cults Precede Culture

Guest contribution by Jörg

Jeff addresses a couple of perspectives that are common to our modern western society but rather alien to the mindsets of the inhabitants of Glorantha.

To a very significant extent, in Glorantha cults drive culture. By looking at the significant cults (say more than 2% of the population) in any particular community, we can get a quick overview of some of the key components of that community’s culture. Now not all is going to be driven by the cults, but they are important drivers.

Major deities mainly worshipped by humans like Orlanth, Ernalda, Yelm or Lodril do suggest a certain direction of the underlying cultures, but variations can be great.

Across the Lozenge and its history, we have seen these deities followed and worshipped by very different cultures. Orlanth, Ernalda and Yelm are major deities for the Pentans, a patriarchal nomad culture riding horses and raiding sedentary agriculturalists and pastoralists, occasionally lording over them for varying periods of time. In the Grey Age the horse warlords even were bringers of civilization to the dazed survivors of Peloria, all the way to the Sweet Sea, laying the foundations for the urban cultures of that region. Nowadays those same horse rider tribes are seen as ruthless and often inhumane raiders and murderers by the peoples whose ancestors they saved from the lethargy of the Greater Darkness, who worship the same deities in totally different context.

Cults are a rather recent invention in Glorantha: they became necessary to bridge the gap between the everyday world of the mortals and the eternal God Time. God Time had no use for cults, although it knew sacrifice to higher powers… we know Orlanth underwent such preparatory sacrifices before he departed on the Lightbringers’ Quest.

So if Orlanth, Humakt, and Storm Bull are all significant cults in a community, that is going to mean something. Similarly if a third of the community is initiated into Ernalda, that is going to mean something. If both Storm Bull AND the Seven Mothers are present, that is going to mean something as well!

And yet the Storm Tribes of Pent following Dranz Goloi are very different from the White Bull Society, or the Orlanthi of Talastar facing the Chaos threat of Dorastor, despite having demographics fitting the description above.

In God Time, the Orlanthi were literally the people who followed Orlanth in his local presence, e.g. the Durevings on the Downland Migration, the Ram People who invaded Dara Happa under their king Elemalus (not quite Orlanth, but his loyal stand-in Lightfore), or Varnaval and his ordeed-drawn chariots in Pelanda, Their heroic and/or demigod leaders became avatars of the deity, and their mighty deeds often mirrored those of the one deity they all shared. A God Learner might spout technobabble about instantiation of core myths projected on local avatars who in turn get included in the mostly anonymous mass of Storm Brothers for pretty much everyone else worshiping (or following, in Godtime) the same Orlanth but in different local and historical context.

Culture was brought, exemplified or dictated by the cult entities and/or cultural (and cult) heroes. The cults with their rituals attempt to re-live the original establishment of their cult entities’ feats. And many things which are cultural achievements in our world (like e.g. grain cultivation) are divine gifts in Glorantha. Not gifts of the cults, though – at best the cults help in cultivating these gifts.

Now cults do change in Time – but that is a result of their followers continuing interactions and experiences with the God Time, aka heroquesting.

There is also an element of history and cultural exchange (or lack thereof) that will change a cult locally. The entire rabbit-hole of Yelmalio by other names (such as Elmal or Antirius) had diverging cults due to historical or even God Time differences, and saw unifications of quite dissimilar cults by heroquesting.

Why would a heroquester want to change the nature of a cult? 
That’s another post – but people tend to assume that hero questers intended the specific experiences they had. But the God Time is not so easily contained or controlled. 

More often than not, these changes are made when different cultures come into contact, and new solutions are needed.

And Jeff too points out that just because we know the name of a deity we cannot predict how exactly it will manifest.

More here.

Gods, Archetypes, and the Malkioni Perspective

Jeff reflects on Gloranthan gods:

[…] Each represents an archetype present in the world, is the manifestation of the divine in the mundane world. […]

Many of these archetypes contain contradictions – the Red Goddess is tainted by Chaos, Orlanth is a destroyer and a preserver, etc. – but to me that only enhances their fascination.

Gloranthans have little concern regarding theodicy – the gods are not all-powerful, all-wise, or all-good. They are worshiped because they made the world we mortals live in, and that their cults provide a means for mortal survival within Time.

This, I think, is one of the most interesting aspects of ancient world religion: they seemed to worship gods “as they are”, and not for some sort of idealized role model or moral guide. Most Greek gods were assholes, but they served a purpose and that’s why they were worshipped. It was a very practical thing, as far as I understand. In turn, that provides many roleplaying opportunities that I have yet to explore.

One exception to this might be the Malkioni. Jeff describes their perspective like this in another note:

The Malkioni posit the existence of something all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good (or at least all-rational) – the Invisible God. That entity is invisible to us – we can’t go “visit it” or be it. This all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good being does not provide any magic or indeed it does not act, speak, etc. It simply IS. But by studying the world (including the lesser gods), we mortals (or at least those who specialise in sorcery) can impose our will upon the world made by the Invisible God. And this is also good.

The Malkioni make many of the same arguments I see made [on forums and Facebook groups] – that the gods are inconsistent, that they fail to meet the same demands they place on their worshipers, that they are responsible for their degeneration of the world and the coming of Chaos. But those are Malkioni arguments – to most Orlanthi, Praxians, et al, such arguments fall on barren ground.

More here.

Heroquesting as Interaction with the Divine

Jeff re-frames heroquesting as “interacting with the divine“:

Let’s put aside the model created for the KoDP video game, and think about what a heroquest really is – it is a mortal directly interacting with the divine, outside of what is familiar (the temple, sacrifice, the safe home of your god, etc.), and making new experiences with the powers, archetypes, and events of the God Time. It is a dangerous and unpredictable thing.

Jeff first refers to the King of Dragon Pass video game, in which heroquests are reenactments of a myth: the participants try to impersonate their gods as well as they can, and then try to go through the motions of a myth they know. For instance, reenacting the myth of Issaries The Concilliator by going into the God Time and replaying through Issaries’ resolution of a conflict between two animal tribes (by the way, for more myth ideas, check out the KoDP wiki!)

This way of playing heroquests worked well for a video game, especially thanks to the replayability aspects. But it may have leaked into the RPG world with the release of Hero Wars (and its subsequent product line) the following year. This is quite likely since designers like Robin Laws worked on both games. The problem is that RPGs aren’t as conductive as video games when it comes to scripted gameplay.

Greg and I went over this a lot. And we ended up changing the way we described heroquests in order to better reflect his stories.

For RuneQuest Glorantha, it looks like Chaosium is re-framing heroquesting as, effectively, “experimental heroquesting”, where you explore the God Time in search of something new or different. “Safe heroquesting” might be what happens when, for instance, you obtain a new Rune spell. For instance, you follow the instructions given to you by a Storm Voice to go in the God Time and experience Orlanth stealing the Sandals of Darkness from the trolls. You come back with the Dark Walk Rune spell. There was little risk, because this ritual has been perfected over several generations, and you do it at a shrine or temple that has a strong connection with your god. So it’s hand-waved as “my adventurer spends a week at the Orlanth temple” and sacrificing 1 POW.

Going outside of these well-trodden paths lets you experience whatever other random thing Orlanth might have done during the God Time, and bring that back as a custom magical power:

A heroquester typically gains gifts and magic as a result of their experiences, but also banes and curses. Passions and runes may change, and the nature of their community may change as well. And remember, those changes are all unpredictable and fraught with risk. Since the end of the Second Age most people have been very reluctant to heroquest except in the most routine and traditional ways. Two notable exceptions include the Red Goddess and the Orlanth cult. And that helps drive the Hero Wars.

We’ve had a few glimpses into the ever-upcoming heroquesting rules, which indeed include mechanics to model these tropes. If you challenge God Time entities and win, you might be able to yield their magic in the mundane world. If you are defeated, you could lose parts or all of a Passion or Rune affinity, bring a curse upon your community (including probably disastrous Harvest roll modifiers), and of course die.

More here.

Lunar Spies

There isn’t any sort of “centralized spy agency” for the Lunar Empire, but there are many spy networks operating at various levels:

The Empire maintains multiple internal security and spy networks, including the Emperor’s Spoken Word, the Imperial Bodyguard, the Blue Moon Assassins, and various ad hoc groups that report directly to the Emperor’s household. Additionally, satraps, governors, and other powerful officials maintain their own network of spies, assassins, and informers. The Spoken Word also maintains a network of Imperial couriers who can relay a message 150 miles a day, and even faster if sent by Moon Boat.

This is really a snippet of text from the Guide to Glorantha, but since I’ve been looking at Lunar spies lately for my game, I figured I might as well use this opportunity to look into it a bit more!

  • The Spoken Word was “inspired” by the Red Emperor around 1372. Its original mission was to uncover and monitor insurrectionists, while also cultivating a group of ultra-loyalists devoted to the Empire. This may have been in response to the loss of many territories to Sheng Seleris and various rebellions at the time.
  • The Imperial Bodyguard is one of the four “corps” of the Lunar Army. It includes super bad-ass people like the Full Moon Corps (a magical regiment made of “demigod immortals” who come down from Red Moon and, when killed, go back up to be healed), and the Bloodspillers (Jar-eel’s personal regiment, dedicated to her and her “Moonsword cult”)
  • Blue Moon Assassins are trolls from the Blue Moon Plateau, in the northeastern edge of the Empire. They are… well, secretive. You don’t see them coming. They have secret agendas involving the Lunar Empire and the Red Goddess. Unlike most trolls, they don’t mind the Red Moon’s association with Chaos. They have secret ways for moving around undetected. There’s not much information on them in the published material, which is probably how they like it. Fun fact: the Blue Moon is the goddess of secrets and potatoes.

Mmmh… which one of those should I send after my players? What did you say? All three? Sounds good!

Argrath and the Telmori

There’s a bit in King of Sartar indicating that Argrath might have wiped out the Telmori tribe from Sartar around 1928 (see the reference on the Well of Daliath). However, it doesn’t explain why he did so except that “King Argrath would not tolerate the wolfmen’s attacks“. Jeff provides a bit of extra information but still leaves the question open:

In 1628, encouraged by opponents of Prince Argrath, Telmori rebelled before Argrath’s army left Sartar to cross the Dragonspine. Rather than be distracted from his goal, Argrath ignored the Telmori. However, upon his return to Boldhome the following year, Argrath suppresses the Telmori uprising.

How the Telmori get suppressed is something that your campaign likely decides. Maybe Argrath sends in the Storm Bull cult and Humakti to do it, forcing the werewolves out of Dragon Pass. Maybe Argrath defeats the ringleaders and makes a new pact with the remaining Telmori. Who knows for certain, except in your campaign.

There’s also more here and here about the ties between Telmori and Sartar’s lineage (including several marriages, and friendliness with the Humakt cult). The second link even has an extra bit about how the Telmori gain their werewolf Chaos mojo:

It is the initiation that curses the Telmori, not the birthright. Since the time of Nysalor, human initiates of Telmor are werewolves tainted by Chaos to involuntarily take wolf form each Wildday. They receive the Chaos Rune at 20% but have no other Chaotic features.

So Telmori children don’t transform into werewolves and don’t have a Chaos Rune. You can find more about the Telmori from the Well of Daliath now that David Scott has nicely tagged everything, too.

Anyway, going back to Argrath and the Telmori, there are various wild theories, including the one where the Telmori don’t believe that Argrath has a legitimate claim to the throne and rebel against him. I’m not convinced, because the Telmori have had their ass kicked not too long ago and are generally anti-Lunar. They would therefore either be happy to fight with Argrath, or to just hang back and try to regain the lands they lost a generation ago… which is why I’m wondering: would their move to get Wulfsland back (taken from them by the Lunars until 1625) be seen as an act of aggression by the surrounding tribes? (who sort of have a tenuous claim to these lands too) They could therefore go to Argrath and complain that the mean wolf-people are “rebelling”. Argrath might say “ok sure I’ll take care of them“, especially if there’s something he wants that these tribes have…

Ian Cooper offers a possible solution: what these tribes have is heroquesting access to whatever is necessary to fulfill the prophecy of “bringing the aurochs back to Dragon Pass” (which is somehow key to Argrath destroying the Lunar Empire… again this is from King of Sartar) This is of course done in particular via the Cinsina tribe’s Red Cow clan, and their traditional heroquest described in Ian’s “Red Cow campaign books” (The Coming Storm and The Eleven Lights) This was Ian’s plan for these books’ sequels, so of course it’s building upon the same material. If you don’t play as part of the Cinsina, you might want to find something similar that puts your players’ community in the centre of the action!

Sartarite Architecture

If you have some questions about Sartarite buildings, Jeff has shared a snippet of text that, I assume, might be from the upcoming Sartar Homeland book.

Stone is the preferred building material in Sartar, although adobe and timber are perhaps more commonly used in rural areas. Basalt, limestone, marble, and granite are all used, depending on local availability. 

What follows are a few paragraphs about buildings in both villages and cities. There’s probably not much that’s new to any of you, but the section on urban buildings does have a short description of a middle-class freeman’s dwelling. Read it here.

What Happens When You Die

Joerg points out to me that the first half of this note is an excerpt from HeroQuest Glorantha (which is currently sadly out of print until it gets rebranded). This excerpt is quite likely to be reprinted in the Cults of RuneQuest series.

The text explains how the soul, separated from the body, lingers around for seven days (during which you can cast the Resurrect spell!) and then goes through various mystical places on the way to the Court of Silence, where you get judged by Daka Fal. There is some new text after that, about how this judgment happens, possible curses from shamans or sorcerers, the involvement of gods, getting lost and becoming a ghost, being devoured by the Void, and more… plus this:

Those few that have acquired a Hero’s soul have a permanent presence in the God Time, which can be strengthened through worship. Even though their soul may return to the world in a new body, their presence in the God Time endures—like the gods, heroes can be in more than one place at the same time.

In RuneQuest, you can acquire Hero Soul points after successfully heroquesting. This can be used to cast the magic you acquired in those heroquests.

I wonder if heroes that are reincarnated end up in a new body that doesn’t have all the same skills and magic that they had in their original body? You could play some kind of Altered Carbon game here, where bodies are just “sleeves”, and some of the game stats are tied to them vs other stats tied to your soul (like your Hero Soul powers and blessings). Plus, depending on how you were buried (e.g. you had offerings and personal items buried with you) you can bring more or less stuff back? Sounds fun to me!

More here.

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.

Orlanth Rex’s RuneQuest Vexes

© 2023 Orlanth Rex Gaming Vexes

Given the host’s name, I’m surprised it took 29 episodes to get to a Gloranthan episode, but here it is! Steve, aka “Orlanth Rex“, interviews his players (including Doc Cowie, which we interviewed ourselves previously) about their 5-year RuneQuest game.

The episode includes a few interesting discussions about what makes something “Gloranthan”, moving from RuneQuest 2nd edition to RuneQuest Glorantha to OpenQuest, using a hack of Blades in the Dark to run heists in Boldhome, and more! Listen here or in your favourite podcast app.

Exploring Glorantha Enters History

Guest section by Jörg

J-M and Evan discuss the First Age of Glorantha, and the grey period before the Dawn, known as the Silver Age in Dragon Pass and surrounding lands.

About halfway into the episode, J-M claims that theirs is “the Glorantha 101 show. For the Glorantha 200 & 300 level show, go check out the God Learners podcast.” No pressure, and thanks for the shout-out.

Tales of Tarsh Playtest

It looks like Simon Bray is playtesting some very interesting stuff… including two of my favourite things: Tarsh, and maps!

Fun with ChatGPT

Over on BRP Central, Styopa asked AI chat bot ChatGPT about Glorantha… the results are not super awesome, but they’re kinda fun to read:

In the beginning, the world was shrouded in darkness, and the gods were trapped in the underworld. The goddess Eiritha, mother of all life, decided that something had to be done to bring light to the world. She gathered together a group of heroes known as the Lightbringers and charged them with the task of bringing back the sun.

If you squint hard enough, it looks vaguely plausible… which is sort of what you get with AI-generated content in general anyway so far. At least all the gods seem to have the correct number of fingers!

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.

Literature in Ancient Egypt

Creative Commons photo

This article from the British Museum blog gives a glimpse of Ancient Egyptian literature, and it’s lovely! (you know, besides the part about British imperialism stealing historical artifacts from African cultures)

The picture above is an excerpt of A Tale of Two Brothers, a story that dates back to at least 13th century BCE. It’s… err… pretty messed up:

It begins by presenting an idyllic household consisting of Anubis, his wife and his brother, Bata. Their pleasant lifestyle is disrupted when the wife of Anubis unsuccessfully tries to seduce her brother-in-law. Upset by the humiliation of his refusal, she claims that Bata attacked her. Believing his wife, Anubis initially turns against his brother and forces him to leave the family. Anubis later discovers his wife’s disloyalty and kills her, and the brothers are reunited. Meanwhile the gods have fashioned a wife for Bata. Unfortunately she rejects him in favour of the king. To win her over Bata assumes a sequence of different forms, the last being a Persea tree. Bata’s wife orders the tree to be cut down. A splinter from the tree flies into her mouth, ‘she swallowed it and in a moment she became pregnant’. Bata is reborn, now as her son, and becomes king of Egypt. He elevates his brother, Anubis, to succeed him, overcoming the catastrophes that had beset the pair.

The papyrus owned by the British Museum even has an attribution to “the scribe Inena”. And speaking of scribes, the article talks about literary works being copied, preserved, and reworked from one century to the next. One of the museum’s exhibits has nine versions of one work, the “Teaching of Khety”, also known as “The Satire of the Trades“, also known as “what passes for shitposting in 13th century BCE Egypt“. The author mocks many professions. The article does have a passage from the story, but I find the other passage from Wikipedia funnier for some reason:

“His apron is mere rags and the rest-house far behind him. His arms are dead from wielding the chisel, and every measurement is wrong; He eats his food with his fingers and washes once a day”

By the way, some of the copies of the Satire were on papyrus rolls, but most have been copied on my new word of the day: ostraca.

Creative Commons photo

An ostracon is a piece of pottery or stone that was broken from off and used for scratching some quick writing onto. Ancient people didn’t have post-its, but they did have shitloads of pottery. So if you needed to write something, you’d look in the “discarded pottery” basket and grab something there.

There are a couple of other Egyptian tales mentioned in the British Museum article, including some that have been reworked and adapted all the way into modern times.

Thank you for reading

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