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.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The RuneQuest Starter Set is Almost Here

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Chaosium has setup a sign-up page if you want to be notified as soon as the much awaited RuneQuest Starter Set is ready to ship from their warehouses. As far as I understand, if you register at the link above, you will be notified before the news spread to Chaosium’s usual channels, so it’s worth doing if you’re really looking forward to order on day one.

Learn a Setting FAST

Jason Durall, who has been involved with many deep and complex settings besides Glorantha, shared with us his process for learning about a new setting with the perspective of gaming in it or contributing to it. While the video is called “Learn a Setting FAST“, I wouldn’t call Jason’s process “FAST” given that it involves, say, reading a book twice, catching up with the fandom, and following up on the bibliography and sources of the IP’s authors… but towards the end of the video, Jason does go into advice for quickly finding useful material online.

The video won’t really answer the age-old question of “how do I teach Glorantha to new players in 15min or less?” (which has arguably also been answered as many times as it has been asked), but it does point to useful resources nonetheless!

The Battle of Queens Continues

Jeff Richard’s group goes through the aftermath of their first turn of battle! See last Journal issue for detailed notes on this preview of the battle rules.

The characters who were blasted with Lunar Madness see their Passions and Runes possibly affected by the experience, as the Gamemaster discusses what it meant for them with their respective players (a nice example of the kind of stuff we talked about on our last podcast episode!).

The party has to survive a volley of missile attacks as they charge the Silver Shields, while Jeff has a few “frank” words for those who disparage Yelmalio’s magic. The Battle of Queen’s climax is reached, and my questions from last week are answered: the events of the Battle seem indeed scripted and set in stone, and the player’s agency is focused on “what are you going to do about it?“. Well, what they do about is roll the absolute biggest Orate roll I’ve ever seen! Although my follow-up question is now whether this will really change things in any meaningful way: Nisk prevented a whole chunk of the Sartarite army from running away, and I’m looking forward to see how that matters.

By the way, you can check out an earlier draft of Jeff’s “playbook” for the Battle of Queens on BRP Central. It features some example of Battle encounter tables, and a round-by-round break-down of the conflict’s important events.

Fantasy Grounds RuneQuest Update

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

It looks like NPCs are getting imported into the system!

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!

Comparing Premium and Standard Print of The Company of the Dragon

© 2021 Andrew Logan Montgomery and Chaosium Inc.

Andrew Logan Montgomery, author of the best-selling Six Seasons in Sartar and The Company of the Dragon, has posted comparison photos of the Premium and Standard Print versions of his latest book.

For starters the covers are identical, the binding is the same, and the paper weight is identical. The Standard lays flat like the Premium and the paper is just as heavy.

What I see, side by side, is that the Standard looks just a bit faded and a lot more flat. The colors do not seem as deep. And the Premium is glossier. It seems most noticeable to me with the maps and the blue colored chapter plates. All in all I gotta say both are very attractive books, and I am pleasantly surprised how well standard matches up.

Photo by Andrew Logan Montgomery

Andrew adds that “you really see the difference more under fluorescent lighting“.

You can see more comparison pictures in the original Facebook post, or in Chaosium’s reposting on their blog.

The Black Spear is Coming

Art by Mike O’Connor © 2021 Nick Brooke and Chaosium Inc.

Nick Brooke has been teasing us with a few illustrations by Mike O’Connor lately, for his new Jonstown Compendium work is coming “next month” (supposedly… that’s quite bold of him to, like, announce release dates and all).

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.

On Small Sartarite Clans

Jeff posted a quite note about “small” Sartarite clans. The Culbrea tribe, for instance, has four “stable” clans (Elk, Jotaring, Lorthing, and Mathiording) with a sizable population of around 750 people. However:

Then there are five clans that have an average of 300 members each – too few to be a stable organisation. They are hunters, raiding bands, or religious orders more than stable social groups. They include the Barlamani, Blue Spruce, Orlamani, Owl, and Red Vireo Clans, and most are little more than a leader, his entourage, and their followers and supporters. For example, the Blue Spruce are the entourage of Elmalandti the Priest and household, while the Barlamani clan are now little more than the household warriors of King Ranulf. Unless things change dramatically, in the next few years I expect that at least two or three of these small clans to either disband or merge into other clans in order to survive.

This, still according to Jeff, is “an example of a Sartarite tribe under considerable distress as a result of the Lunar Occupation and Rebellion“.

The distressed clans occupy contested or marginal lands:

-Barlamani: Elendra’s Graze
-Blue Spruce: around Jarolar Keep (which they occupy)
-Orlamanni: between Hill of Orlanth Victorious and the Finger
-Owl: along the Owl Flight Crest
-Red Vireo: along the Old Saint’s Road

Gorangian Bronzeguts

Art by Anna Orlova © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

This nice chap pictured above is none other than the chief librarian of the Jonstown Knowledge Temple.

One thing I love about this is that Gorangian is not a particular heroic figure, but is an example of an important member of Sartarite society who is not part of the martial aristocracy or the Earth temples. Not only that, Gorangian is originally from Esrolia – an example of the ties between Sartar and that ancient Queendom.

If you’re curious about Gorangian’s nickname, Jason Durall gave us a clue by mentioning Didymus Chalcenterus, an Ancient Greek scholar.

Scribes are of course quite important, because they are the ones who literally make history:

This is tied into Sartar’s position as a center of trade. The wealth generated by trade supports scribes in each of the cities (with the most being in Boldhome). This in turn means that there are scribes recording poems, histories, myths, mathematics, philosophy, wisdom literature, drama, and even prose fiction! There are nearly 1500 Lhankor Mhy initiates in Sartar (400 in Boldhome alone!), which means there is likely an impressive output of writing in Sartar.

That is indeed a lot of scribes and philosophers! But I imagine that 90% of them are just taking care of the business of priests, merchants, and nobles, and are all procrastinating about that epic poem they told everyone they would publish one day…

Note that since scribes are mostly supported by the confederation, city, or tribe, they mostly live in urban centres, leaving very few Lhankor Mhy initiates living in rural clans:

I expect most people who want to be scribes go to the cities, where they have the temples, libraries, patrons, etc. Which is totally normal – just look at many Greek scholars who originally came from rural Greece, but ended up in Athens, Alexandria, Pergamon, etc.

We can expect this to be another so-called “change of tone” in the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set, in addition to the new editorial focus on road trade and inns:

So when you all imagine Sartar, remember also that this is also a kingdom of scribes, of texts, and of libraries. Nochet may have the equivalent of the Library of Alexandria, but Sartar then is Pergamon, with its great collection of texts and manuscripts.

Jeff concludes:

So I can completely imagine a Sartarite Herodotus who has traveled from Boldhome to Glamour, spent years in the Holy Country and Handra, and perhaps even sailed to Seshnela, Teshnos, or Jrustela, and is now composing their Histories. In fact, this would make a GREAT Lhankor Mhy character!

Don’t Stop Here, It’s Lightbringers Country

Jeff tells us about the importance of all the Lightbringers cults (not just Orlanth and Ernalda but also Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, and Lhankor Mhy) around Dragon Pass an the Holy Country:

These six cults are the foundation of Orlanthi society and religion. Between two-thirds and three-fourths of all adults are initiated into at least one of these cults.

In rural areas, Orlanth and Ernalda overwhelmingly predominate, but in the cities, there are nearly as many initiates of Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, and Lhankor Mhy collectively as there are Orlanth and Ernalda.

Jeff summarizes this as: “The Orlanthi are polytheistic, not henotheistic“.

Themes of the Hero Wars

We know that the many campaign frameworks for Glorantha are set in Dragon Pass because that’s where the Hero Wars are going to happen, like… any time now. Next year, or something.

While books like the Guide to Glorantha and King of Sartar give us the events of the Hero Wars, Jeff tells us what the Hero Wars are about. He encourages Gamemasters to first anchor the players and their characters in a community by depicting what their everyday life is, from the clan politics to the tribal feuds to dealing with raiding trolls and owed favours and sick family members. Once the adventurers are “grounded”, show how changes in the world are affecting their lives and their community, accelerating, gaining scale, requiring hard choices and shifting priorities. Arguably, this is what was already attempted in the old Hero Wars “Sartar Rising” campaign books. But Jeff then goes further:

The Hero Wars initially appears to be a simple conflict between the expansionist Lunar Empire and traditional Orlanthi in Sartar. Such initial understandings are deceptive – the Hero Wars are a many-faceted conflict between the gods and Chaos, between two antagonists who are their respective Shadows, between the Elder Races and humanity, and a renewal of the ancient wars between Nysalor-Gbaji and Arkat. Sworn enemies will find themselves fighting side-by-side against former friends. Long-held sacred truths will be exposed to be untrue, and new truths unveiled.

This complexity might only reveal itself after many sessions of play.

This is where things get tricky: the Gamemaster should ideally show that the Hero Wars aren’t just happening between mortals, but also on the cosmic levels of Glorantha:

Everyone in Glorantha has associations which cause influence between the individual and the gods and these influences are always acting. The Glorantha Runes are one way of understanding this maxim. Thus, a feud between two tribes may echo ancient conflicts between gods, and peace between individuals may require re-enacting an ancient myth.

Similarly, conflicts between communities may parallel and embody the larger conflicts of the Hero Wars.

Finally, the Gamemaster should also ideally introduce the “shadow” of the characters, that is the “unconscious part of ourselves that remains with us although we consciously reject it“.

During the course of the campaign, traditionalist Orlanthi may find themselves accepting Illumination and working with Lunar deities, and devout Lunars may find themselves working with rebel Orlanthi to destroy the Red Moon itself.

The Lunars and Chaos

The Red Goddess is a Chaos deity, pure and simple:

She has the Runes of Moon, Chaos, and Life. This paradox is a source of her power, but also the source of the unwavering antagonism with the Storm Gods (Orlanth, Storm Bull, Humakt, and even the more peaceable Lightbringers) and their cults. It is also the source of her antagonism with the cults of Darkness (Kyger Litor, Zorak Zoran especially). The mastery of the Crimson Bat is a constant reminder of this connection.

The Seven Mothers however are not tainted by Chaos, even though they “helped bring her into existence“. They also extend her influence in places and situations where she doesn’t have power.

Most Lunars believed that the Red Goddess shall free the world from bondage and liberate the minds and souls of all. This is her promise and much of the appeal of the Lunar Religion even in places like Sartar.

Most Orlanthi believed the Red Goddess is one of the Lords of Terror, Gbaji reborn, and the harbinger of a new Gods War. This is why she is hated and feared and even rival gods are willing to cooperate against her.

Both view points are likely true. Once the Lunar Way came into direct conflict with the Orlanthi, perhaps the Hero Wars were inevitable.

Notes on Lunar Cities

Furthest was founded around the same time as Boldhome, and settled by “folk from the Lunar Heartlands who followed Hon-eel to Dragon Pass“:

Furthest is not a Tarshite city so much as a Lunar city, and it operates somewhat outside the network of clans and traditional kinship groups that characterize most Orlanthi cities (although it has those too). A good real world point of comparison is Alexandria Eschate – aka “Alexandria the Furthest”.

Glamour is the “cultural, religious, and political center of the Lunar Empire“. Jeff refers us to Antioch during the Roman Empire, or Baghdad under the Seljuks as a point of reference.

Antioch by Jean-Claude Golvin

Between Furthest and Glamour are the Dara Happan Tripolis (well, two of the three – Alkoth and Raibanth), the beautiful artistic center that is Jillaro-on-the-Green with its Daughter’s Roads, and Saird. Mirin’s Cross by all accounts a city of administrative rather culture importance – like Mediolanum or Nicomedia under Diocletian.

Jeff concludes:

It is important not to think of the Lunar Empire as a monolithic thing. It is as much a network of cities and tribes, held together by Glamour and the Lunar Way (and the resources those two can muster) and by the position of the Red Emperor as both Dara Happan emperor and Carmanian shah.

The Red Emperor asserts to be more than merely the ruler of a place or peoples – many of his titles are universal in nature. He is Moonson, Lord of the Four Quarters, Staff and Pillar of God, Leader of the Egi, Shah of Shahs, and the Bright and Illustrious Emperor of Dara Happa.

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.

Glorantha, Meaning, and Mythology

Andrew Logan Montgomery (which we talked about above), has a new good post on his blog about the role of myths in the real world and in Glorantha:

[…] a lot of Glorantha fans get lost in the minutia of the mythology and all the apparent discrepancies. They want to know whether Orlanth has four arms or two, whether Yelmalio is really Elmal, whether Humakt brought death by killing Grandfather Mortal or Rebellus Terminus did by killing Murharzarm, whether Vinga is Orlanth or Orlanth’s daughter, etc. They want to know the chemical composition of the sun rather than why American children draw it with a yellow crayon while Japanese draw it with red.

But myth will not give you facts, only meanings.

Andrew then goes into some commentary on exactly that: Yelmalio and Elmal, the Death of the First Emperor, the origin of Vinga, and so on.

If you regard a god as simply a being with super-powers and longevity, switching from worshipping Elmal to worshipping Yelmalio seems like switching between two different people. If you view gods as expressions of the numinous, on the other hand, as Gloranthans do, there is no confusion.

The conclusion gets surprisingly and nicely practical, as Andrew outlines four suggestions for “mental adjustments” that may help a player or Gamemaster better grasp the complexities of the setting. If you’re in a hurry, just scroll to the bottom and read that part!

Thirsty Sword Vingans

If you’re already familiar with Thirsty Sword Lesbians, Evil Hat’s Powered by the Apocalypse game featuring queer flirting and sword-fighting, you know where this is going… if not, well, imagine a Powered by the Apocalypse game featuring queer flirting and sword-fighting IN GLORANTHA!

© 2021 Evil Hat Productions

The Burn After Running blog has a few sparse notes for running such a game, and I love this idea, even though I’m generally not a fan of the PbtA system. This could be great for introducing Glorantha to a new and diverse audience! What other crazy Gloranthan mashups can you think of?

The Trials of Great Sister

Eff, over at the generally Lunar-inclined Eight Arms and The Mask blog, tells us about the time when the Red Emperor was called “squirt” by Deneskerva, also known as “The Great Sister”, and a daugher of Sedenya the Red Goddess. This is a tale of older sibling responsibilities towards their little brothers, and how even the mighty Red Goddess has to arrange for child care, because it’s hard to be a working mom, you know.

Up Close with Oriflam’s RuneQuest

In the late 80s and early 90s, Oriflam produced the French version of RuneQuest 3rd edition. I know many of my fellow French people have very fond memories of these books, especially since they featured unique illustrations and layout, different from the original English versions from Avalon Hill.

Photos by WayneBooks © 2021 Oriflam and Chaosium Inc.

WayneBooks, who recently featured the German edition of RuneQuest, now provides us with many nice photos of this French edition, which is also, at the time of writing, available in their inventory.

If you want to know more about Oriflam’s entire line of products, Chaosium’s Well of Daliath has an exhaustive index, and Runeblogger has a relevant article (which you can translate in English if you don’t read Spanish thanks to the Google Translate button at the top).

Che Webster on Rules Anxiety

© 2021 Roleplay Rescue

I’m sad to hear about Roleplay Rescue‘s Che Webster’s mental health issues: in a recent frank blog post he details how contradictions in the RuneQuest rulebook can cause his (diagnosed) anxiety to flare up. This unfortunately might happen a lot, given how (in my opinion) this book is lacking some extra editing pass in many places… I’m sure most of us who complain about rules on BRP Central or elsewhere don’t have any excuse besides being entitled grognards, but if this is of interest or relevance to you, Che Webster followed up with another blog post about the ways that help him cope.

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 Real Rainbow Mounds

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

The Rainbow Mounds are a classic adventure site featured in the even more classic Apple Lane scenario pack for RuneQuest. We know that this adventure will get revisited for the upcoming RuneQuest Starter Set, but to help you with the wait, here are a couple of places here on Earth that can be used as an alternative!

What you want in general is salt. Apparently, it makes things all colourful and pretty, especially when (as I suspect) you get a photographer who knows how to spice up the vibrancy of their pictures in Adobe Lightroom. Anyway, let’s start in Russia with the salt mine tunnels under Yekaterinburg:

Next, let’s go to southern Iran where we have a few choices in front of us. First, the Salt Caves of Qeshm:

I actually get the impression that there are several salt caves to visit in the same area… but maybe we’re tired of being underground? Let’s get some fresh air with the Salt Dome of Jashak:

And finally, you can’t get any better than the actual Rainbow Mountains (and Valley) of Hormuz island, with is actually right next to Qeshm:

Those Damn Cheating Merchants

© 2021 Eliyahu Yanai/City of David

This article from the Jerusalem Post talks about a recent discovery of a possibly fraudulent weight from the 8th century BCE, which is great inspiration if you are playing a less-than-honest Issaries merchant in a Gloranthan campaign. And frankly, who would play a totally-by-the-book trader?

Historical References from the Saint Louis Art Museum

© 2021 Saint Louis Art Museum

I don’t know about you, but I’m always happy to look at some pictures of historical objects. The Saint Louis Art Museum has a bunch of those available online! Here, for example, is a link to their collection of objects dating from 8000 BCE to 1 CE. The picture above in particular is an Egyptian Apis Bull, dating from 664–332 BCE.

Achaemenid Persian Art

© 2021 Luis Argerich

The wonderful blog Digital Maps of the Ancient World has a short but sweet post on Achaemenid Persian Art, which can be used for inspiration for… errr… I don’t know, Gloranthan correspondences to the real world are always so tricky. The Lunar Provinces maybe? Anyway, just look at the pretty pictures!

Applied Geometry with the Babylonians

Photo by UNSW Sidney

We apparently now have some evidence that the Babylonians (20th to 17th century BCE) were even better at math than we previously thought! Some recently discovered tablets show the use of Pythagorean triples dating back to a thousand years before Pythagoras… Your Lhankor Mhy sage should therefore be able to compute distances with angles and give you bonuses to your ranged ballistic attacks!

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.

Apologies for being late this week: up here in western Fronela, we are in the middle of the “back to school” rush, and I still have to buy scrolls and crystals for my kids.

God Learner Sorcery

We are now occupying a nice little tower with a long history of previous occupants who have left behind documents, tablets, artifacts, and other kinds of junk. As we clean up and archive these things, we share the most interesting ones with you.

Episode 3: Passions in RuneQuest

The latest episode of our podcast was released last week, and deals with “personality mechanics” in RuneQuest. In this longer-than-usual episode, we welcome the wonderful David Scott from Chaosium, who filled our air-time with many wonderful historical game design facts, gaming anecdotes, and Gamemaster tips! If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the God Learners podcast in your app of choice (see this guide if you’re not sure how) and listen to some Gloranthan goodness while you walk the dog or clean the house!


The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff convention is back to meat-space this year in the UK, but they are keeping an online component as well. There are Gloranthan games on the schedule, and last I looked, a couple of them still had some space!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The Battle of Queens Rages On

The White Bull Campaign (a.k.a “the Chaosium house campaign”) is now fighting the Lunar armies near Old Top.

Besides watching Jeff Richard choking on a peanut, this is mainly our first look at the mass combat rules, which are actually a bit crunchier than I expected. This is mostly a good thing though.

Notes on the Battle Rules Preview

As far as I can tell, the battle rules work as follow:

  1. The GM prepares a list of the different units and notable NPCs that make up the opposing army. In this case, Jeff describes various groups such as Lunar provincial militias, Tarshite Cavalry, Silver Shields, Antelope Lancers, Granite Phalanx, Lunar Magicians, etc. Rough army sizes are also provided at this point. This is the kind of information we’ll see, I assume, in the upcoming “Dragon Pass Campaign” book. The thing I appreciate here is that, as far as I can tell, this is the only bit of preparation the Gamemaster needs to do to run a battle (and a good Gamemaster equipped with some books of NPC stats can even improvise that easily). The rest of the battle can be made-up on the spot.
  2. The players declare what kind of preparations they go through before battle. This includes ritual practices to get a magical bonus in combat, casting Rune Magic with Extension (some protection like Shield is a good idea here!), and so on.
  3. The players nominate a “band leader” or “unit leader” for their group. This group may include many companion NPCs, or be limited to the Adventurers’ party. I’m not sure how NPCs are handled, though.
  4. The army leaders on each side roll their Battle skill, modified by various factors such as difference in army sizes, unit power levels (militia vs professional warriors), homeland advantage, having scouts and spies to provide up-to-date information, and so on. It’s not clear what this opposed roll means, but I get the impression that it drives what the leaders decide in terms of strategy for the next turn of battle (in this case, Kallyr decides to charge the Lunars). Since Jeff is very much philosophically opposed to rolling against himself, he has one of the players rolling Kallyr’s Battle skill.
  5. The first turn of battle starts with a Battle skill roll from each player. Each player who succeeds their roll can “nominate” an encounter out of the list of units the Gamemaster prepared ahead of the game (see step 1). Once all the votes are in, the band leader (see step 3) decides which encounter the group will aim for. I assume that most leaders will pick the encounter that received the most votes. The Gamemaster chooses another encounter, to be possibly used as a drop-in replacement (see below). In this case, the players choose to fight some Lunar Magicians, while Jeff picks the Silver Shields peltast unit.
  6. The band leader rolls against the “intensity” of the battle. The more intensive a battle is, the harder it is to steer the group to the specific enemy unit the players picked as their encounter. This is an opposed roll between the Battle skill of the band leader and some unspecified score representing this “intensity”. I’m not a fan of the back-to-back Battle skill rolls (there are more coming in the following steps!), but I’ll reserve judgment until the official rules are published, of course.
  7. On a success against the battle intensity, the band leader gets the encounter they wanted. Arguably, things could go a different way if they lose in this opposed roll, or if the Gamemaster got some Special or Critical Success in step 4, which would have let them “force” an encounter onto the players. It sounds like most encounters are things like “2D6 Lunar Magicians”, so this is also where someone rolls for that.
  8. Different encounters and actions on the battlefield require spending points from a “Guiding Passion”. That is, to lead troops into combat you need them motivated with something like a Loyalty (Sartar) or Hate (Lunar Empire) Passion, and as long as they are motivated you can keep fighting. A higher Guiding Passion would, I suppose, let you fight longer, take more risks, and so on. It sounds like there are also requirements for minimum Guiding Passion scores for certain actions. In this case, the players take off -20% from their Guiding Passion (which, I think, is a Loyalty one) and manage to traverse the battlefield to reach the Lunar Magicians. As far as I can tell, there is one Guiding Passion for the group, and it’s probably the lowest score of all the individual members’ Passion score, or something like that.
  9. Now the players choose their “stance”, which is how they approach the encounter. It goes from Reckless to Brave to Cautious to Cowardly. With a Reckless stance, the players have to fight a minimum of three combat rounds and may get a chance to increase their Guiding Passion. A Brave stance requires at least two combat rounds. A Cautious stance only requires a minimum of one melee round. A Cowardly stance lets you run away, which could happen if the Gamemaster manages to drop-in their choice of encounter in an early step, and the players realize they are going to face some enemies they are not prepared for. I assume that such a retreat comes with a drawback, but Jeff didn’t specify any. Different players can pick different stances for their characters. I didn’t really notice what other pros/cons exist for different stances, but I assume they exist — probably some different Reputation and Guiding Passion rewards.
  10. The Adventurers are now charging towards the Lunar Magicians! There is yet again a Battle roll (ugh) by the band leader to determine how many rounds the Adventurers must endure offensive spells being cast on them before they can close into melee. In this case, the Adventurers’ charge will last two rounds. I suppose that this step would also determine how long the Adventurers must run under a volley of arrows and javelins if they were facing a unit equipped with missile weapons. As with any other roll, the leader can get augments from their companions, but Jeff notes that there can only be one Passion augment per day of battle, and one skill augment per turn of battle.
  11. During the charge, the Lunar Magicians and Adventurers cast various magic spells — offensive and/or defensive. One cool thing is that because the Adventurers previously awakened their “Hero Soul” during a heroquest, they get bonus points to resist offensive magic: however many Hero Points they have gets added to their POW, in the same way that a shaman’s Fetch’s POW also gets added for resistance rolls.
  12. Some Adventurers fall to the Lunars’ Madness spells during the charge. Others manage to close with the Lunar Magicians and, even though their enemies have iron armor, hefty magical protection, and allied spirits, they spill some good amount of their blood onto the battlefield. Arachne Solara’s webbing magic is also very effective to quickly render some enemy useless!
  13. At the end of the first battle turn, Adventurers gain some reputation (between 1D3% and 1D6% in this case) and choose whether they want to pursue another encounter or move to the rear to recover. Doing the latter lets the Adventurer loot fallen enemies, regain Guiding Passion points, and, I assume, get healing from support units.

Take this with a pinch of salt: I could be misremembering or misunderstanding things, Jeff might be using house rules or spot rulings in places to manage the pace, and these rules might still be a work in progress. But at least we get a general idea of how they work, and that’s pretty nice!

Overall, I like what I’m seeing, except for the repeated Battle rolls, as I mentioned. I love the idea that Passions are used as meta-currency to push a unit into combat, but I didn’t get a good idea of how it works in practice from this first turn of battle. I’m curious how different the rules are when the players adopt defensive positions and they are the ones showering a charging enemy with missile weapons and ranged magic. And I wonder how the rules manage point attrition with the Adventurers, who may be out of spirit and Rune magic after only half a day of battle.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the outcome of the battle in terms of player agency and rewards. Most, if not all, of Jeff’s players very well know how the Battle of Queens ends, and Jeff has been clear that he doesn’t believe in leaving that kind of thing up to random dice rolls. But I wonder how much Gamemaster fiat goes into the details — for example, if the players decide to form a defensive cordon around Kallyr, or attack Pharandros directly, and get very, very lucky. If I remember correctly, Jeff has said that only a handful of NPCs are important for the Hero Wars storyline (Argrath, Harrek, Jar-eel, the Red Emperor, maybe another one or two), so only those few have “plot armor”, if any. I suppose it’s entirely possible that other NPCs like Kallyr or Leika may survive or die in ways that makes the “meta-plot” diverge slightly, but this divergence should be manageable and, potentially quite fun to run.

All The World’s Monsters

It’s expected that, on occasion, Chaosium president Rick Meints will come out with some surprising bit of obscure Chaosium history. What’s unexpected is that this comes with some (for purchase) PDFs of the aforementioned obscure products! Well, I think those are new PDFs. I’m not sure, but I had never noticed them before… but first things first!

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Over on the Chaosium blog, Rick talks about what might be the very first monsters’ manual for D&D, dating back to Fall 1977:

Between Christmas and New Years Eve of 1977, TSR released its first hardcover 112-page RPG book, the Monster Manual by Gary Gygax. Many hailed it as the first compendium of RPG monster stats. What many people did not realize back then – and still might not realize today – is that the Monster Manual was, at best, the third compendium of monsters with D&D stats ever published. […]

The first Steve Perrin project for The Chaosium debuted in the Fall of 1977. It was only the ninth product produced by the fledgling company. This was the 120-page All the Worlds’ Monsters, edited by Jeff Pimper and Steve Perrin. 

Steve Perrin later of course became the main game designer behind RuneQuest. And if Jeff Pimper’s name is familiar to you Gloranthaphiles, it’s because, like many things around Dragon Pass and Prax, Greg Stafford used his friends to name places on the map.

All three volumes of the venerable monster books have PDF scans available from Chaosium (Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3).

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 Bad Winds

A new month means a new monster, and Austin Conrad has released The Bad Winds! I’m sure there’s an obvious fart joke here, but this is a professional publication and we won’t go down that hole.

Anyway, Bad Winds are air elementals corrupted by Mallia, the goddess of disease, and which you can spring upon your players when they fumble their Summon Cult Spirit spell! Not only do you get some description of the titular spirits, but you also get a lot of material to incorporate these things into your games, including a short Kolat myth.

Houses of Teshnos Get Bigger

Paul Baker recently added more than 40 pages of content to his sourcebook on Teshnos. You can refer to Nick Brooke’s Jonstown Compendium Index for information on what exactly has been added.

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 Geography of Sartar

Jeff shares a “little blurb” on the geography of Sartar which happens to be two pages long (although that’s on Facebook’s very narrow column formatting). The first thing to remember is that Sartar is a seismically active region, which is why Maran Gor’s cult is a thing, especially around Kero Fin.

The Earthquake Goddess is offered propitiatory worship throughout Sartar, even if her number of initiates is small.

Elevations range from 700m (Duck Point) to 3120m (Quivin Mountain’s peak).

Much of this area is a karst landscape covered by a dissected plateau of limestone and sandstone, created when the oceans covered the land in the Lesser Darkness. During the Gods War, the original limestone and sandstone rocks were folded into troughs by igneous intrusions of granite and quartz. Rampaging storm gods wore this down to rolling hills, buttes, and mesas, exposed the granite cores, and left a rugged and strikingly beautiful landscape. Creeks and rivers have carved out twisting but fertile valleys.

I first read this too fast and thought it said “much of this area is krarsht landscape”! I would love to see Kallyr’s face if she realized that her entire homeland was the back of some giant Chaos God… and, I mean, that would explain why the Lunars want to get control of it so badly!

The text, which I assume is from the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set, goes over the geological nature of the main handful of locations in Sartar, but this bit on the Quivin Mountain stuck out for me:

The Quivin Mountains are plutonic masses of granite that thrust through the surrounding limestone during the Gods War. They are sons and daughters of Lodril, the great Fire God beneath the earth, and of Kero Fin, the Mother of Mountains.

The reason it stuck out is that (in my opinion) the Quivin Mountains have an exceptionally small area for their height, so it makes sense to give them some interesting backstory. I wonder if the dwarves who built Boldhome are tapping into this geothermal energy to power and heat parts of the city. This is similar to how the chaparral plains of Prax, so close to the fertile lands of Sartar, also make more sense when you give them some kind of mythical origin:

Prax was beloved of Eiritha and was fertile and pleasant, but its essence she gave to aid the Storm Bull against the Devil. The surface of the land is now hard clay and sand, underlay by limestone.

Back to Sartar, here’s an example of the kind of hills where Sartarite have their sheep and cattle herds grazing:

© 2021 Jeff Richard

Now, for some information on the riverbeds:

The Creek-Stream River drains most of Sartar and the Far Point. From its source at Skyfall Lake to the Choralinthor Bay at Nochet, the river is 700 kilometers long. For much of its length, the river is usually between three and four meters deep and from 100 to 200 meters wide, sometimes growing much larger during the spring floods.

That’s surprisingly shallow. That explains why there’s not much river traffic in Sartar except for the occasional duck and newtling boats. Between this and the Closing of the Seas, you have to wonder what Greg Stafford had against the waters!

If you’re into geology, you might get a kick out of this old map from Andreas Pittelkow:

© 2021 Andreas Pittelkow and Chaosium Inc.

There’s no legend, but Jeff has some notes for us:

The “bricked” areas are limestone strata formed during the Storm Age (when those lands were submerged). The “dotted” areas are sandstone strata. The “xxs” are bedrock – granite formations. The lined areas are gravel and sand left from the glaciers. The little triangles are volcanic areas.

The map is at a low level of detail, for example the Quivin Mountains should be there with xx’s, and the Indigo Mountains and Pelanda should also have volcanic activity, etc. But it is still interesting and useful. And done by an actual geologist.

Chalana Arroy Precepts

Jeff replied to some questions about Chalana Arroy and her cultists over on BRP Central.

Her cultists swear an oath to total non-violence. They refuse to cause more damage to a wounded world. In the Holy Country and Dragon Pass, the cult is divided between Sweepers and Keepers

Based on some preview text from the upcoming Cults book, the “sweepers” tradition comes from the Holy Country’s healing temples, where initiates, lay members, or volunteers sweep the ground of insects and other animals so the healers can tread without harming anything. The “keepers” were born from philosophical differences among the cult:

This began to trouble the respected Healer of Arroin, the venerable Nambasa. He said he preferred to simply watch his step and leave insects, animals and in fact all living things unmolested and in peace. He and his small band of followers became known as the “Keepers”, in opposition to the “Sweepers.”

This is what for me is interesting with Chalana Arroy’s precepts: it’s easy to wonder how far they go, and how to interpret them. This is great for roleplaying! As with the real world, not all members of the cult will have the same interpretation, and good stories might arise from these differences.

But playing a Chalana Arroy initiate is tricky. Unless the character has their own practical and philosophical differences with their temple, they are forbidden from any type of fighting. This means that they don’t even use a shield… they can only negotiate or dodge. They are vegetarians, because of course they are.

The worship of a passive deity is a luxury which few can afford. Not many wish to throw themselves at the mercy of the world when times are troubled. Thus, worship of her has been restricted to the most devout individuals or the most advanced civilizations.

The Cult of Eurmal the Trickster

Probably even harder to play than a Chalana Arroy initiate is an Eurmal initiate! I’ve seen many Gloranthaphiles either ignore tricksters in their worldbuilding, or even actively chase them off. But Jeff tells us again that they are an important part of Orlanthi society:

The Orlanthi hold that clowns and tricksters are essential in contact with the sacred. Laughter and humor are a part of every ceremony, even the most serious, because laughter opens and frees one from rigid preconception. Tricksters are needed in the most sacred ceremonies because the sacred comes through upset, reversal, and surprise. Orlanthi gods and heroes can be foolish in one tale and wise in the next, helpful and then villains.

All of the Orlanthi gods have a touch of trickster when they act foolishly. This is quite appropriate because based on my many years of roleplaying, the Player Characters will often act like big goofballs too!

Art by Agathe Pitie, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

This may be tough to grasp with our Western ethics and morality, but the Orlanthi are perhaps more open to life’s multiplicity and paradoxes than we are. The sacred is both wondrous and terrible, and heroes like Arkat and Argrath represent both.

While some aspects of the trickster life may indeed elude us, one thing has at least grown in awareness over the past decade in Western countries, and that is non-binary genders. Tricksters, who reject or live outside of mainstream social norms, are often non-gendered, gender-fluid, or other (or at least act like it). And while I’m sure there are trans, intersex, non-binary, etc. people in any cult (not just Heler or Vinga or whatever, that’s just wrong), the particularity of playing an Eurmal initiate is that you can actively have fun with it: you are socially expected to mock others, disrupt their gendered rituals, and generally speaking shove people’s boring cis-ness in their face. And you get to dress in weird, original, and cool ways that make you stand out more than a baboon shaman in a Dayzatar priest’s funeral. At least, this is for the tricksters who actively take on the role of “the Clown” in their community:

[They] can get away with almost any social disruption and trouble because of the useful functions they provide through showing what is serious, absurd, baffling, or wrong, fearful or comical about life and the cosmos. The Orlanthi recognize this as powerful magic that both disrupts and helps to maintain the cosmos.

The downside is that these “Clowns” also act as scapegoats any time the clan or tribe needs to pin something on someone. In that case they are outlawed and driven out. In rare cases, they are killed…. this is the harsh life of the comedian: you have to keep being funny and/or insightful, but sooner or later you’ll cross a line and get cancelled!

Jeff also shares some good ideas to include tricksters in your games:

Clowns sometimes appear—usually without invitation—at the ceremonies of other Orlanthi cults and mock them along with other attendees. At other public ceremonies, clowns may dance out of step, sing out of tune, and imitate cult and other societal leaders. They beg food, throw food away, or are gluttons. They even use magical regalia in inappropriate ways, engage in foolish, silly, or even obscene side-shows, often with respected members of the community.

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.

Runeblogger Reviews Cults of Prax

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Regular Gloranthan blogger and appropriately named Runeblogger has a new review up, this time on Cults of Prax, a very influential sourcebook of the early days of the hobby, and arguably the very first “splatbook” ever.

[…] Cults of Prax is a true classic. It showed that a roleplaying setting could handle religion and mythology as defining and central aspects of a culture. The cults are original and appealing, and their rich level of detail makes them feel real. Not only that, but they also explain the origin of magic and generate adventures with the clash of their different philosophies. Most of all, the cults of Prax demonstrate that Gloranthan adventurers are not isolated from society as in other games, but they belong to groups of other people that can offer help in exchange for some duties and responsibilities. That is the main reason why it was so influential in its time, and remained so for a long time after its publication.

A great bit of both game design and worldbuilding was the inclusion of Biturian Varosh’s adventures in sidebars scattered through the book. Each chapter in the titular character’s journey matches the cult being described on the same page, which extend that cult’s write-up with in-world narration:

Moreover, the travels of Biturian Varosh are a source for scenes and ideas for adventures, but first and foremost, it is an entertaining way of finding out about the “real” Glorantha, the one that varies because it ignores it is actually a setting described in books.

Back when we were called “Wind Words”, we started following the iconic travels of Biturian Varosh from the book’s margins. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

Cults of Prax is available in Print-on-Demand and PDF at Chaosium’s online store.

Roleplay Rescue on RuneQuest Glorantha

Che Webster, from the Roleplay Rescue blog and podcast, has some short advice for RuneQuest-curious newbies based on his own experience approaching this sometimes intimidating game:

Among other things I’ve been re-reading the core RQG rulebook and getting my head around the world – the first additional source being The Glorantha Sourcebook.

His tips? Read Vasana’s story, roll-up a character, and read slowly. I totally agree: Vasana’s story not only serves as examples but also as great and effective flavour for what Glorantha might look like, and I’ve myself been bit several times because I read a rule too fast and mixed in my own assumptions.

Nicholas Bielik on Glorantha

Occasional RPG YouTuber Nicholas Bielik recorded this general presentation of Glorantha, which then quickly dives into why he likes the setting, and why (according to him) it has this appeal and originality that sets it apart from other fantasy settings:

VTT Map: Ernalda’s Garden

© 2021 SkullDixon

SkullDixon, from who we previously featured some nice duck pics (don’t read that too fast!), has also a VTT map for “Ernalda’s Garden”, for possible use with the Smoking Ruin adventure.

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.

Healer Society Mask

This west-African mask is from the 20th century, but it still provides some cool ideas for fantasy gaming:

© 2021 Princeton University Art Museum

Use that with a new Chalana Arroy initiate:

This striking work features the broad, curved horns of the buffalo, a principal insignia of Nyikaryi, an elite society of healers. The society’s members were herbalists and physicians held in high esteem, and they wore headdresses like this for secret initiations and healing rites.

It doesn’t take too much work to imagine a similar headdress in Bronze Age times either, since it reminded Joerg of the Hallstatt-era “Celtic Prince of Glauberg“:

Thanks to SkullDixon for the original link.

Action Figures in Ancient Times

What kind of toys do your Gloranthan kids play with? What about action figures? While not quite Bronze Age either, the Mayans famously had some cool figurines with removable helmets:

© Kenneth Garrett

Several others have been found, like this king with his spirit animal companion:

© Ricky Lopez

For more information about where these figurines were found (along with more pictures) you can read this article. And for a thorough and academic take, Cambridge has this online publication titled “Maya Sacred Play” about the relationship between toys and rituals.

Thanks to David Scott for the links.

Thank you for reading

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

Our guest this (long!) episode is David Scott, who wears a number of Chaosium hats – among others convention presence, rules Q&A, and the web archives.

David talks about his work on the Well of Daliath – a collection of material posted on glorantha.com, slowly reconstructed from backups when stuff didn‘t migrate that well across platforms, and also chronicling current notes on Glorantha.

We hear some tales of woe about material lost to entropy, whether from natural disasters or from migration of the website.


Our only item this time (other than a shout-out to our newsletter) is the good bye to Steve Perrin, and the reactions of the community.

The Chaosium blog has links to a series of six blog posts by Steve on designing RuneQuest.

George R.R. Martin’s obituary on how Superworld shaped his career, Steve’s role in the first ever monster manual, and then there is Shannon Appelcline’s overview over Steve’s credits in the industry.

Remember to subscribe to the Journal of Runic Studies for weekly Gloranthan news.

Main Topic

We look into the introduction of personality traits into RuneQuest and other rpgs.

The first published version was 1981 in Griffin Mountain as the NPC record form (which Chaosium also put into the Thieves World box that was released the same year). However, David was able to track this development back even earlier, in (mostly) unpublished notes of Greg, and (other than to ultra-collectors, also unpublishable notes).

We cannot show you the glimpse into the “Unpublished RuneQuest” material David gave us, but we can attest that what we saw were scribbled notes (in more legible hand-writing than mine) without any grand revelations.

David shows us a few glimpses into the evolution of RuneQuest character sheets, and talks about the synergies between John Sapienza‘s character sheets, Steve Perrin‘s grasp of mechanics and Greg Stafford‘s desire to build his world.

A first fusion of skill percentages and numeric values for personality traits and passions:
John Sapienza & Greg Stafford © 2021 Chaosium Inc.
The prototype of the NPC Record Form that made it into publication:
John Sapienza & Greg Stafford © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

David then gives us an insight into Greg Stafford’s process into bringing these traits and the runes into the game RuneQuest, and Gloranthan gaming in general.

Greg’s concepts of people being hard-wired for mythology and certain types of behavior. One book Greg suggested to David is “Our Kind” by Marvin Harris.

Ultimately, the personality traits became an integral mechanic in Greg’s King Arthur Pendragon. David Larkin shows Greg’s research as annotations in Le Morte D’Arthur in his Pendragon designer’s notes.

The game mechanics for dragonewts (as NPCs) in Wyrm’s Footnote #14 (in 1982) were another step in the process of getting game mechanics out of this.

The quest for HeroQuests as a game mechanic led to Greg working on the Epic System – or Glorantha the Game – even during the years of the Avalon Hill publication of RuneQuest.

“The maddest character sheet anybody has ever seen for Glorantha” from the development process for Glorantha the Game:
Epic System by Greg Stafford © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

The more coherent and elaborate pieces of this process made their way into the “Arcane Lore” volume of the Stafford Library, which still is a collection of almost random notes and concepts.

Robin Laws’ concept for Hero Wars (later HeroQuest, nowadays Questworlds) then was a game where basically all abilities were traits.

Personality traits in gaming praxis

We address the reluctance of players to let personality traits dictate their roleplaying of the characters. David talks about three types of gamers’ reactions to this mechanism – newcomers, curious old hands, and set-in-their-ways grognards.

We touch on conflicting passions (rather than just opposed traits), like “Loyalty (Leader)” and “Hate (Leader)”, and the roleplaying potential in that, and how not to roll this gives the players the freedom to steer their characters.

The example characters of Vasana (the leader who has “Hate Lunar Empire”) and Vostor (an AWOL Lunar soldier disillusioned with the Lunar army looking out to join Vasana’s band) are used in David’s demo games to illustrate how these things play out.

We touch upon how Hate Lunar Empire is different from hating individual Lunars, and how the Storm Bull’s Hate Chaos does not make every Lunar in sight a target for their berserking.

We also talk about the situation of Lunar converts in Sartar after 1625.

Augmenting with traits and passions

“Can I use my Mobility Rune to fly?” and credibility checks.

Use of “Loyalty (Leader)” to get things from a leader, and other uses, and use of automatic success in roleplaying situation.

What to do as a GM when a necessary success doesn’t show up. How to deal with failure.

Opposed rolls with the same degree of successes (plugging this little treatise).

Using the moon rune to augment spirit magic casting.

High scores in passions or traits – GM calls

Allowing players to reduce such high traits

Traits derailing the game.

Traits are not meant to be played as mental illness.

Runes and passions in heroquesting.

Casting massive amounts of rune points manifesting the deities.

Acquiring new passions in-game

Taking loyalty to the leader, or to another patron the character might want something from.

David gives a great example about a Lhankor Mhy initiate from his campaign who took loyalty not to the Colymar tribe, but to the Colymar lawspeaker Hastur, and how he would go about shifting loyalties from one temple to another.

And with that, Joerg reminded Ludovic of bedtime, and we postponed questioning David for a later podcast.

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

We are now occupying a nice little tower with a long history of previous occupants who have left behind documents, tablets, artifacts, and other kinds of junk. As we clean up and archive these things, we share the most interesting ones with you.

Runic Rants: Opposed Rolls Ties

Our Runic Rants column expands with a big article on the dreaded “unresolved situation” outcome from opposed rolls.

These situations can be hard to picture in practice: what is the Gamemaster supposed to do with a “temporarily unresolved” situation? How is that different from an actual “tie”, which occurs when two critical successes are rolled? And how are these two different from both participants failing their rolls and “not achieving their goals”?

I hope that the many examples and practical suggestions in this article will be helpful!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Pendragon Design Journal #1

Not many official news of Chaosium this week, but I think this Pendragon-related blog post on the Chaosium website will be of some interest even to RuneQuest or QuestWorlds players, because it deals with Greg Stafford’s early brainstorming of Pendragon’s famous “personality traits” system, which was included in the latest edition of RuneQuest as “Passions”.

Picture by David Zeeman, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.
Picture by David Zeeman , © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

As Greg was working on the mechanics of Pendragon, he went through the entire two-volume set of Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and annotated every single event in the story with a mention of what ability roll was made by a character, what combat outcome happened, and so on. That’s dedication! And it’s a wonderful look into the creative process of a landmark of game design.

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!

QAD: Pimper’s Block

© 2021 Drew Baker and Chaosium Inc.

Drew Baker has produced a compilation of all the “Quick and Dirty” series to date in a giant 2000 pages (yes you read that right) PDF. This includes detailed characters, “mook” NPC squads, and notes on various related topics such as occupations and cultures, for all the homelands in the RuneQuest rulebook.

Now whenever player characters encounter someone, just punch in a random page number in your PDF reader and make whatever you see on the page attack your players! Super easy! Wait, what? That’s not what Gamemasters are supposed to do? What do you mean?!

No More Valley of Plenty

Art by Tom Symonds, © 2021 Troupe Games LLC and Chaosium Inc.

Sad news from Troupe Games, who have just announced that they’re dropping their plans to release the sequel to Valley of Plenty:

We’ve decided that our efforts are best directed at creating our own rules and setting rather than content for Glorantha. Valley of Plenty isn’t for sale now. We don’t want to disappoint those who purchase it expecting to see the rest of the saga developed.

Valley of Plenty’s print version was pulled from DriveThruRPG after the premium color price increase a month ago, and now the PDF version is gone too.

As far as I remember, Troupe Games was working on some original standalone game based on the QuestWorld SRD. Whatever they’re up to, we wish them good luck! Keep an eye on their website!

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.

“Has Anyone Ever Talked to […] Penta?”

Good question by Scott Martin after Nick Brooke posted a home-made map of Genertela on the RuneQuest Facebook group. This map features the main names mentioned in the first few pages of the Glorantha Sourcebook:

Cartography by Nick Brooke after the Cults of Terror map © 2021 Nick Brooke and Chaosium Inc.

According to the Glorantha Sourcebook, these lands are where the main seven Earth goddesses settled in the early days of existence. They were daughters of the continental deity Genert (who gives its name to Genertela), who died in the Gods War. So we have Frona who lied down in the north-west where the region of Fronela is, and Seshna made her home in the south-west where the region of Seshnela is, and so on. Ralia, Ernalda, Pelora, Kralora, and Teshna make up the rest of the sisters.

The term Ernaldela isn’t much used anymore, and most people know that land as “The Holy Country” or “Kethaela”. Jeff Richard says:

Ernaldela appears in some of Greg’s earliest materials, initially as Ernaldi. You get a reference to it in the old Argan Argar cult writeup, but it generally was replaced by Holy Country (and Kethaela) and Maniria in later books. But since it helps anchor the Land Goddess mythology (and provides more context for Ernalda), I used in the Sourcebook and Cults Book.

About Kralora, he adds:

Krala or Kralora was very important in the Second Age. In the Third Age, her cult has been somewhat submerged into that of Miyo.

Genert’s Wastes is where Genert’s Garden was, but it never recovered after the god’s demise.

So what about Pent then? Is there a goddess named Penta? Jeff Richard tells us what’s up:

According to Zzabur’s fabulous mythological maps, Pent was once part of Genert’s Gardens. Which means no Penta.

Well, that was a surprisingly simple answer for Gloranthan lore!

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.

Vingan Casting Thunderbolt

Prolific Gloranthan artist Katrin Dirim has shared this nice picture of a Hiording Vingan thane casting a Thunderbolt spell!

Art by Katrin Dirim, © 2021 Katrin Dirim and Chaosium Inc.

You can tell she’s from the Hiording clan, aka “the Swan clan”, based on the, well… it should be obvious based on that clan nickname!

SkullDixon’s Ducks

Glorantha fan, RPG artist, and Discord regular SkullDixon has made a bunch of cool ducks!

Art by SkullDixon, © 2021 SkullDixon and Chaosium Inc.

You can find more of his art on his website, and even buy books with more cute critters in them there.

German RuneQuest Close-up

Photo by WayneBooks, © 2021 Welt der Spiele and Chaosium Inc.

Wayne Books, purveyor of fine second-hand games, is giving us a very close look at the German version of RuneQuest 3rd edition. Is this making Joerg all nostalgic yet? Maybe not… he can probably just turn around and grab the real thing from his shelves…

That edition sold all 1500 copies (into stores at least) and was followed by a reprint as softcover, same illustration, blue cardboard.

Photo by Sebastian Dietz, © 2021 Welt der Spiele and Chaosium Inc.

Joerg can raise you an “Apfelallee” (RQ3 Apple Lane) with one of the least topical cover illustrations ever (see above), and a “Glorantha: Die Götter” Box (RQ3 Gods of Glorantha). The Bestiary (from the Deluxe Box) is currently AWOL.

More interesting would be the two German language only RQ3 scenario books set in Sartar, Schatten in den Hügeln and Ort ohne Wiederkehr (Shadows in the Hills and Town Without Return).

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.

Babylonian Multiplication

Here’s how Babylonians apparently did math in 2000 BCE! It’s a bit convoluted for modern sensibilities, but stay until the end of the video to see how that’s advantageous for small under-powered devices like an old Gameboy!

Bronze Age Copper Mining

Here’s a video on The Great Orme, a well-known copper mine in Wales (UK), and the largest prehistoric mine discovered to date. It’s not the most exciting video to watch, but they pull a large amount of video and photo archives and provide a fairly complete picture of mining in Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.

Thank you for reading

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

Opposed Rolls in RuneQuest are pretty simple. It takes only a couple paragraphs on page 142 of the rulebook to explain the process: the adventurer and opponent each make an ability roll and whoever achieved the greater success “wins”. Achieving a “greater success” in this case means “greater” on the scale of ability roll results: critical success beats special success, special success beats success, success beats failure, and failure beats fumble.

But the list of outcomes on page 144 can easily stump the reader. More specifically the second and third bullet points:

Tie: A tie (where both participants achieve the same type of success) means the situation is temporarily unresolved. If both participants rolled a critical success, the result is a tie.

Two Losers: Both participants fail their roll. Neither party achieves their intended goal.

These situations can be hard to picture in practice: what is the Gamemaster supposed to do with a “temporarily unresolved” situation? How is that different from an actual “tie”, which occurs when two critical successes are rolled? And how are these two different from both participants failing their rolls and “not achieving their goals”?

To figure this out, we will look at three classic situations:

  • Sneaking: Rurik the Loud is trying to sneak past Earwax the Deaf. This will be represented by a Move Quietly roll opposed by a Listen or Scan roll (even maybe the latter augmented by the former!)
  • Bullshitting: Rurik the Loud is making a scene at the market, trying to guest past Mikeva the Mean, the bodyguard of a priestess Rurik wants to talk to. This will be a Fast-Talk roll opposed by a Loyalty or Insight roll (or, again, maybe the latter augmented by the former!).
  • Racing: Rurik the Loud has made bold claims about his equestrian skills, and has been challenged by Larhast the Quick to a horse race. This will be a good old Ride (Horse) skill contest.

The cop-out solution

The easy solution is to introduce some house rules stolen from another BRP game: Pendragon. This is a popular house rule, in which the Gamemaster rarely has to think about ties and unresolved situations:

  • If one roll is better than the other (on the fumble to critical scale), then the winner and loser are clearly defined, and the rules-as-written can be applied.
  • If both rolls have achieved the same level of success, the one who rolled the highest number is the actual winner.

This rule was in fact present in some of RuneQuest’s early drafts. It even features in the RuneQuest Quickstart (see page 6). It does make things simpler for the Gamemaster, but it should be noted that the designers eventually opted against it by the time the RuneQuest rulebook was released. The reason was that they didn’t want to mix rolling high and rolling low, especially since there are no other situations in RuneQuest for which a player would want to roll high on a D100. They got rid of this rule to preserve flavour and consistency.

This rule also doesn’t completely eliminate the problem: two players could still roll the exact same number. There is also the situation where both rolls fail — some people still apply the “highest rolled number is the winner” house rule, with one contestant “failing more” than the other, but I think I prefer to have both contestants actually fail… assuming we figure out what that means.

A Detour to Narrative Games

I think a key to figuring out what to do in these cases is to take a little detour to the world of narrative games such as HeroQuest/QuestWorlds or FATE.

In these games, a roll doesn’t represent the simulation of an action being undertaken by a character — that is, in these games, you don’t make an “Athletics” roll to specifically jump from the back of your flying hippogriff onto the charging Tusk Riders below, applying modifiers to account for differences in speed, reduced visibility from the dust rising from the Tuskers’ galloping hooves, and the fact that you’re holding a sword in each hand. Nope. In these games, you roll to figure out the outcome of a scene in which you use your athletic prowess to move the action to the back of a Tusk Rider’s mount. How it happens specifically (jumping from your hippogriff or dangling underneath it or whatever) isn’t relevant to the roll itself because these are still the same original situation and desired outcome: you were on a hippogrhiff, and now you’re on a Tusker, fighting its rider.

The difference between those two approaches is outside the scope of this article and, depending on what kind of RuneQuest Gamemaster you played with, it could be a revelatory paradigm shift or splitting hairs… my main point here is that narrative games often use rolls to advance the story from one beat or scene to another, as opposed to using rolls to model a specific physical action. Let’s keep that in mind.

Unresolved Situations

Okay, let’s come back to our simulationist RuneQuest system and look back at the example situations while keeping in mind what narrative games tell us about rolls.

I think that the main difference between an “Unresolved Situation” and the other outcomes is that all other outcomes are, well, resolved, in the sense that the story moves on to the next beat or scene: trying to sneak past Earwax the Deaf, trying to get past Mikeva the Mean, and trying to race Larhast the Quick have all been resolved. Whether Rurik succeed or failed or whatever is another question, but the question of “is this scene over?” has an answer, and it’s “yes“.

In comparison, an “Unresolved Situation” means that the scene is not over. More rolls are needed. Why?

  • Sneaking: Rurik is stealthy (he succeeded his Move Quietly roll) but hasn’t found a good opportunity to get past Earwax. Earwax has seen something move (he succeeded his Scan roll) but he’s not sure if it was just an animal, so he stays alert. The scene isn’t over.
  • Bullshitting: Rurik has some good arguments for seeing the priestess (he succeeded his Fast-Talk roll), but Mikeva has a hunch he just wants to scam her with a shady business deal (she succeeded her Insight roll). Still, Rurik has a little bit of time for another roll before Mikeva loses her patience and lifts her axe. The scene isn’t over.
  • Racing: Rurik and Larhast are neck and neck after the first lap of the racing track (they both made their Ride rolls). Instead of a small scene where the hero wins the race, this turns into a suspenseful set piece!

Of course, the laziest way to continue the scene and, hopefully, resolve it, is to make both players roll again. That’s obviously boring: two people roll their Ride skill until one fails. And with every roll, the Gamemaster and players wonder how they’re going to describe anything interesting and different compared the previous roll, and so they just roll in turns. Bleh.

Again, let’s think about this narratively. Why is the situation unresolved? Well, I mentioned it above with the horse race: maybe it’s because things are getting suspenseful. The stakes have been raised, the wind is turning, another of the priestess’ bodyguards shows up to ask what’s going on, a crowd is gathering by the race track, and so on. The following is entirely optional, but here are some ways to add tension to the situation:

  • Sneaking: The stakes are raised when Earwax calls upon another guard to come check out this shadowy figure he glimpsed. Later, maybe an actual wild animal shows up, which can be a distraction that Rurik can benefit from, or an additional bit of danger he needs to deal with!
  • Bullshitting: The stakes are raised when other market goers come up to Rurik, saying that they’ve been waiting to speak to the priestess for the past two hours, so why should he skip the line? Shortly after, maybe the priestess comes out and asks who is making all this ruckus in front of her tent!
  • Racing: The stakes are raised when the City Rex appears in the tribune, after people told him that two excellent racers were competing in the arena. Bystanders who are now betting on Rurik and Larhast are throwing vegetables and sandals at the contestants, hoping to give the advantage to whoever they are cheering for!

Regardless of whether the Gamemaster is indeed describing these scene changes or not, it’s clear that the two characters’ skills are evenly matched so far, and therefore something else has to set them apart, or something else has to happen. For instance:

  • Your spirit sets you apart: you can roll the same ability again, but you have to augment it first with a Passion or Rune. If you already augmented the previous roll, find another augment.
  • Your ingenuity sets you apart: you have to roll a different ability to show how you’re doing things differently and get a head.
  • Your ability to adapt to change sets you apart: the situation has changed (see above) and you’re using this to your advantage by rolling a different, relevant ability.

The Gamemaster can optionally set some limit on the first option (“you will only be able to re-roll the same ability once again only in the entire scene“), or even forbid it completely (“we’ve established that both characters are quite evenly matched, so you can’t re-roll that ability anymore“).

Going back to our examples:

  • Sneaking: Rurik rolls Move Quietly again, but augments with the Movement or Darkness Rune, or with the Scan skill to look for good spots to hide into. If Rurik has to roll something else, he can roll Climb as he uses the verticality of the environment to his advantage, or Animal Lore to lure the wild animal that showed up towards Earwax, or Jump to take a risky shortcut over an obstacle towards his goal!
  • Bullshitting: Rurik rolls Fast-Talk again, but augments with the Earth Rune, or with Charm. If Rurik has to roll something else, maybe he makes the risky move to lace his words with threats, rolling for Intimidate. A safer move might be to roll for Gossip or Homeland Lore to know a few things about the priestess that will convince Mikeva that Rurik has her best interests in mind, or Orate to speak to the angry crowd about these unacceptable wait times!
  • Racing: Rurik rolls Ride (Horse) again but augments with the Movement or Beast Rune, or a Passion related to the stakes of the race (maybe a Hate Passion for the opponent’s tribe). If Rurik has to roll something else, he can roll Animal Lore to better handle his mount, or Intimidate to taunt Larhast into making a mistake! He could also roll Dodge to avoid the rain of rotten tomatoes and radishes coming down on the track!

Based on these new rolls, the Gamemaster and players can weave a growing narrative of this scene, and this in turn will inform them about new rolls they can make if there is once again an “Unresolved Situation” outcome. For instance, in the Racing situation, after Rurik sees that bystanders are cheering and throwing vegetables, the third round of rolls could be Sing or Orate to get his side of the crowd to rally behind a taunting chant that will make their aim better, and will sink Larhast’s spirits!

By diversifying rolls like this, the Gamemaster can not only greatly reduce the chances of a continued need to keep rolling, but also make the outcome much greater than the players’ original goals. Again, in the Racing situation, Rurik would come out not only victorious, but Larhast would be humiliated, covered in rotten produce, and a whole chanting crowd would be gathering around Rurik. Follow the dice, run with the story, and you may end up in interesting places!

It’s possible that both characters are exceptionally good at a lot of things. Rurik and Larhast could have 80% or more in Ride, Animal Lore, Dodge, Orate, and Sing! Or the players could be exceptionally lucky, succeeding even with rolls under 30% skills! Both are highly unlikely but hey, weirder things have happened at the table. In that case, the scene could still be playing out after three or four rounds of rolls. What to do then?

  • If the players and Gamemaster are engaged and having fun: Nothing! What may have been an anecdotal scene is suddenly becoming a suspenseful and exciting part of the characters’ story! The players may remember this for months or years. The Gamemaster should lean into it and, especially, make sure that the outcome matches the suspense. Just getting past Earwax, meeting Mikeva’s boss, or beating Larhast in a race and never mentioning it again might feel anticlimactic. It may be better to have some lasting consequences to these scenes, such as Earwax hunting Rurik personally through the wilderness, Mikeva investigating Rurik’s business and associates, or Larhast coming back angry and drunk with a handful of friends, accusing Rurik of cheating.
  • If the players are not engaged, or the Gamemaster is in a hurry: Set a limit. Declare that this scene is over after a certain amount of rolls (three seems appropriate to me), and that if the contest is unresolved by the end, it is treated as a tie. If the Gamemaster doesn’t want to derail the current adventure with the creation of a whole new sub-plot and the introduction of a new secondary NPC, she can even state that there’s only one roll, and that it will end in a tie unless there’s a clear winner.

This last bit is a great segue into the next segment!


Ties are sometimes easier to handle, and sometimes harder to handle than unresolved situations. The problem arises from situations that are hardly compatible with the idea of a tie.

For instance, Racing is a clear example where a tie is possible and easy to grasp: Rurik and Larhast crossed the finish line at the same time, and have to agree that they are just as good as the other one at riding horses.

It’s harder for Sneaking or Bullshitting, though. The best I can think of is:

  • Sneaking: Rurik has successfully moved past Earwax, but Earwax has successfully spotted him. So now Rurik is inside the Lunar camp, but Earwax is ringing the alarm. How is that different from a failure of Rurik’s roll, you ask? Well, with a failure, I would have ruled that Rurik gets spotted before he makes it into the camp. See: a failure means Rurik doesn’t achieve his goal, which was to get past Earwax. Here, he did succeed. But so did Earwax.
  • Bullshitting: Rurik has successfully gone past Mikeva and is now talking to the priestess, but Mikeva is on to him and will stand next to her boss during the conversation. Mikeva might interrupt Rurik on a regular basis, and might even jump on him when he wants to take something out of his bag. Again, the difference with a failure is that Rurik achieved his goal of talking to the priestess, but Mikeva achieved hers to get in the way.

This isn’t perfect, and it is potentially hard to come up with on the fly during a game, but it’s a start. If you can’t think of a good way to handle a tie in a given situation, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to fall back to the “Unresolved Situation” outcome above, and ask for a new round of rolls, raising the stakes, etc. That is, unless the players can think of something. Don’t forget: when in doubt, always ask your players! Not only does the Gamemaster not have to always have all the answers, but also often the players will give you all the rope you need to hang them!


And now, for the last outcome: both opponents have failed their rolls. This is like a tie (above) but with failure instead of success. Again, it’s very useful to approach this with a narrative game mindset, i.e. keep in mind that failure here means that the players did not achieve their goals.

  • Sneaking: Rurik didn’t find a good way to get past the guard. It doesn’t necessarily mean he was seen or heard, however. Remember: Move Quietly is an approach Rurik took to achieve his goal of getting past Earwax (as opposed to attacking Earwax or charming Earwax or whatever). Failing a Move Quietly roll means he didn’t achieve that goal. It may be because he was spotted by Earwax, but it may also be for other reasons such as not finding enough dark spots to hide in, or realizing his armour is making too much noise, and turning back. Since we’re in the “Failure” outcome, Earwax actually failed to spot Rurik, so it’s probably one of the latter.
  • Bullshitting: Rurik fails to convince Mikeva to let him speak to the priestess. Mikeva failed her Insight roll so she doesn’t have any concrete reasons to distrust Rurik, so maybe she’s in a bad mood, or maybe the priestess happens to be busy and has instructed her bodyguards to refuse any visitors. And this is another lesson from narrative games: don’t hesitate to slightly change the “reality” of the game world to explain the outcome of a scene. Maybe the priestess was previously suggested to be available to visitors, but after these rolls, it turns out she isn’t. The Gamemaster can introduce a visitor currently talking to her, which Rurik can spot through the opening of the priestess’ tent, for instance.
  • Racing: Rurik and Larhast fail to finish the race because they crashed their chariots or lost control of their mounts. Maybe they actually finish the race, but they tired their mounts so much that it’s a disappointing finish, and anybody who had any bets going on, or any interest in the outcome, have left and gone back to other better things.

Hopefully, reframing rolls as narrative ways to resolve a scene and achieve a goal, along with all the examples sprinkled through this article, have given you some good food for thought! I can only hope it may even help you run better games… At least, organizing my thoughts by writing them down here has definitely helped me clarify things that were previously merely gut feelings. I have anecdotes from my own Gamemastering of contest scenes that worked well, and others that didn’t work so well, and now I better understand what was involved.

Until the next rant, may the stakes be ever risen against you!

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

We are now occupying a nice little tower with a long history of previous occupants who have left behind documents, tablets, artifacts, and other kinds of junk. As we clean up and archive these things, we share the most interesting ones with you.

Scaldic Staves from the Stacks

Joerg recently saved these bits of poetry from mould and decomposition. We are not sure if they were supposed to be yelled at from the town’s speaker’s corner, or sung along with music or fellow drinking mates, or whatrever… so, I guess, you should do whatever feel right, record yourself, and post it online?

Umath ascending – Aether’s abode,
proud planets plunging – panicked and old.
Jagrekriand standing – steadfast alone
cruelly crashing – Storm King to a hold.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Many More Eulogies Surface after Steve Perrin’s Passing

Steve Perrin and Greg Stafford in 2018

After last week’s news that Steve Perrin had died, many people started posting on his Facebook page condolences and testimonies of what his work meant to them. There are also more stories and personal comments on the BRP Central thread. Given Steve’s long bibliography and tremendous influence on the early days of the hobby, it’s not surprising (but always heartening) to see so many people taking the time to write a little something in his honour.

I haven’t been able to double-check this information yet, but I’ve seen two separate claims that Luise Perrenne, Steve’s widow and artist behind the iconic RuneQuest original covers, has gained access to the crowdfunding campaign Steve had started to support her failing health. It therefore seems that any donations going to that campaign will correctly benefit her in these difficult times.

For a complete overview over Steve Perrin’s career as a RPG designer, read Shannon Appelcline’s Advanced Designers & Dragons entry on RPG.net.

George R.R. Martin on Steve Perrin

Last week Steve Perrin, one of the foundational contributors to RuneQuest, Basic Roleplaying, and Chaosium in general, passed away (see issue 9 of the Journal). This week, Chaosium points us to George R. R. Martin’s eulogy for Steve. Of course you probably know GRRM as the author of the series of books “A Song of Ice and Fire” (which was adapted on TV as “Game of Thrones”), but he’s also the editor behind the collaborative series “Wild Cards“. This long-running sci-fi superhero universe originated from a Superworld campaign on which GRRM was the gamemaster. And of course, Superworld is another Steve Perrin game.

Photo by Wayne Books, Superworld © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Steve had been part of Wild Cards since the beginning… BEFORE the beginning, actually… though he never actually wrote a story for us until the triptych in our latest volume, JOKER MOON, which just came out. I am very pleased that he was at least able to see his story in print and hold the book in his hand before he passed away. But his contributions to the series went way, way beyond that one tale. Steve was a game designer, a mainstay at Chaosium and other game companies, and was one of the creators responsible for such landmark RPGs as RUNEQUEST and CALL OF CTHULHU. He was also the writer and designer for SUPERWORLD, the role-playing game that inspired Wild Cards. Without his game, there would never have been a Wild Cards series.

You can read the rest of GRRM’s Steve Perrin stories in the original post, and you can get Superworld in PDF from Chaosium.

James Davis Nicoll on Steve Perrin

Photo by Mike M, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

James Davis Nicoll posts on TOR his take on Steve Perrin’s career, focusing on Worlds of Wonder and BRP as a generic system:

Worlds of Wonder is the first time I encountered an attempt at setting forth that grail of roleplaying games, the universal roleplaying system. Given a robust core rule system, one need only provide setting-specific expansions, expansions that would let RPGers play in any genre they liked. They could even cobble together campaigns spanning several genres.

Rick Meints discovered the cover illustration of the unpublished fourth volume of the Sartar Rising series, the Dragonrise, repurposed.

The White Bull Campaign

Jeff’s players go through the conclusion of the Dragon of Thunder Hill, call Kallyr Starbrow some funny names, and tease “Darkness at Runegate” as a scenario for an upcoming Chaosium adventure book. We are also warned that the next session will probably feature a preview of the battle rules for RuneQuest, which I believe are scheduled to show up either in the Argrath Campaign or the Gamemaster Guide.

Vote for Chaosium and their Community Members at the ENNIES

© 2021 Chaosium Inc. and all respective authors

As we mentioned last week, some Jonstown Compendium and Miskatonic Repository books are up for an ENNIE award in the strangely named “Best Organized Play” category, and Chaosium is of course up for grabs in the “Best Publisher” fan award. Voting is now open, with all categories viewable here.

The Unpublished Forth Volume of the Sartar Rising Campaign

Over on the Chaosium blog, Rick Meints pulls once again some ultra-obscure item from his seemingly infinite personal collection: the cover and cover reference for the unpublished fourth volume of the Sartar Rising campaign.

Pictures courtesy of Rick Meints, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

The Sartar Rising campaign was a collection of three books for the HeroWars game (Barbarian Adventures, Orlanth is Dead!, and Gathering Thunder), which later became HeroQuest and is now being rebranded as QuestWorld. These titles were available in PDF until very recently, and we’re hoping that they will come back once the rebranding is complete.

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!

South Pelorian Highlands

© 2021 Anders Tonnberg and Chaosium Inc.

Anders Tonnberg, already responsible for some Balazar and Elder Wilds maps, is now offering some cartography for South Peloria:

There are four base maps (Players’, Game Master’s, Detailed and Political), each presented in hex-free and 5 mile hex formats. The Players’ map is in a different style to the GM and Detailed maps; the detailed map names every City as well as the major regions, roads and rivers.

Just like Anders’ previous work, the maps are done in Wondercraft, a popular software for making RPG maps.

The Company of the Dragon is Out in Print!

© 2021 Andrew Logan Montgomery and Chaosium Inc.

Andrew Logan Montgomery’s follow-up to Six Seasons in Sartar (although the two are loosely tied enough that you can play one without the other) is finally out in print-on-demand! Grab it while it’s hot.

LEGION in Print is on Sale!

© 2021 Neil Gibson and Chaosium Inc.

If you were considering getting LEGION in print, now is the time! Neil Gibson (our guest back in Episode 1) is running a sale on it right now, in honour of Company of the Dragon being released in print.

Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass in Print?

© 2021 Martin Heldson and Chaosium Inc.

Martin Helsdon, author of the gigantic military reference “Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass“, has some information on the possible arrival of a Print-on-Demand version:

The second brave soul to attempt this quest, is now fifty pages from completion. After that is done, I will have to check it, add text to fill any gaps (the translation from Word causes issues with formatting) and it will then have to be put forward for approval.

I don’t intend any other modifications to the text. The Index may be an issue, as existing text is inevitably slipping.

We wish him good luck! This kind of reference material is always easier to peruse in physical format.

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.

How many arms?

Have you ever wondered why Orlanth is often depicted with four arms? Jeff tells us that this is typically to display all his powers:

Early Guide to Glorantha concept art, courtesy of Jeff Richard, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Orlanth is armed with a sword, the thunderbolt, a shield, and a dragon head or axe, or even sometimes the lightning spear. He is even sometimes depicted as having three or four heads – each depicting an aspect of him (Adventurous, Thunderous, Rex, and Lightbringer).

This is a visual way of showing Orlanth’s remarkable breadth of abilities and aspects – greater than other gods, and clearly greater than any mortal, limited by a mere two hards.

Early Guide to Glorantha concept art, courtesy of Jeff Richard, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Another notable artistic choice is to always depict Orlanth in movement! That’s one of his Runes after all.

Art by Lisa Free, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

This motif of four “aspects” of Orlanth is also present in this illustration originally published in the RuneQuest 3rd edition Gods of Glorantha boxed set by Lisa Free:

[it] is based on the four-headed Svantovit pillars of Slavic mythology. I still imagine these being common in Orlanthi lands, with likely one face being female.

I imagine that the “Adventurous” aspect of Orlanth would typically be described with the female face to honour the Vinga sub-cult, but maybe in other places Vinga would instead take the place of the “Lightbringer” face.

Clans of Sartar

I love maps, so of course I love it when Jeff shares more previews of that Dragon Pass map being worked on for the Starter Set and Sartar Homeland boxed set! Check this out:

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

So there are 157 clans in Sartar (not including the Telmori and the Pol-Joni of course), with an average population of about 900 members. 600 are adults. The average tribe in Sartar has 6100 members, divided into about 7 clans.

We then get some average numbers, which is awesome for your world-building needs:

Of [the average 600 adults in the clan] 180 serve in the militia. About 40 adults belong to the clan aristocracy of priests and thanes (and their immediate family), about 400 are full free members, about 100 are semi-free tenants and dependents, and about 60 are unfree.

Of those 600 adults, about 200 are initiates of Orlanth, another 200 are initiates of Ernalda. 30 are initiates of Yelmalio, and 30 are initiates of the Seven Mothers. 18 are initiates of Issaries and 18 are initiates of Humakt. 12 each are initiates of Chalana Arroy, Lhankor Mhy, Daka Fal, and Storm Bull. There are 6 initiates each of Maran Gor, Babeester Gor, and Eurmal. There are another 30 initiates who fall into the none of the above category.

A few remarks:

  • I’ve made a note of it in a previous Journal issue, but the most important world-building change is that now about two-thirds of a clan population are considered “adults”. Previous publications (from HeroQuest to the RuneQuest Gamemaster Adventures booklet) were hovering around half of the population being composed of adults, most often a bit less than half. I assume that these changes are two-fold, based on previews of the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set: the average age of adulthood has been lowered to around 13 years old, but these new adults are stuck in apprenticeships for a couple years. So let’s say that previous material was categorizing these young people as “children”, and that this is where the discrepancy comes from…
  • Based on these figures and previously shared figures about some specific clans of the Colymar tribe, I think that this average clan of 600 adults would have around 400 free adults and 200 semi-free or non-free adults. A general rule of thumb is that roughly a third of these adults are part of the militia.
  • The “Orlanthi All” seems to be at around two-thirds, with 200 initiates of Orlanth and Ernalda respectively, out of 300 male and female gendered clan members. I’m surprised to not see more Babeester Gor initiates to defend the interests of the Ernalda cult, and I’m equally surprised to see so many Yelmalions. Maybe the average is being skewed by sun-worshipping clans here.

Sailing around the Mirrorsea Bay

Glorantha is generally not famous for sailing adventures (its two main gaming sandboxes being completely land-locked), but with Chaosium looking closely at the Holy Country and its Mediterranean-like geographical situation, we are getting a bit of a sea breeze… (and, I hope, some good pirate shanties!)

If you don’t have the Holy Country memorized (I don’t), here’s the relevant bit from the Argan Argar Atlas (remember: it’s free!).

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

All distances are from Seapolis, which you can spot on the Rightarm Islands, just south of the City of Wonders’ island.

  • City of Wonders: 56km (“So basically, you could go between City of Wonders and Seapolis in a morning“)
  • Leskos: 120km (“A full day away“)
  • Nochet: 160km (“About a day and a half away“)
  • Casino Town: 224km (“Two full days away“)
  • Corflu, to the east in southern Prax: 600km (“Five full days away, unless you get good winds“)
  • Handra, to the west in Maniria: 1040km (“Eight or nine full days away, unless you get good winds“). This was one of Dormal’s stops when he (re)Opened the Seas in 1580.

To complement the short but evocative write-up of Seapolis from the Guide, Jeff adds:

Although Seapolis itself was built by masons out of stone or fired brick (probably brought from Esrolia), the fishing villages are probably made out of reeds and wood. Many village houses are built on posts to deal with the tides.

Now, the Guide also has some information about ships, but Jeff gives us Holy Country notes on that too:

There are three common types of ships in the Choralinthor (n.b.: another name for the Mirrorsea Bay, as far as I know): tubs, nets, and triremes.


Eyes are painted on boats to allow them to see through mist and rain (and to evade the Closing).

“Tubs” are sadly not jacuzzis equipped with oars, although that would we pretty nice:

Tubs are tub-shaped deep-hulled ships about 10 to 20 meters long, with a single, squarish sail. They are used as merchant ships, carrying goods and people, and make blue-water trips (assuming they have a Dormal shrine).

I think maybe they would look like these kind of ancient Egyptian boats (pictured as a model here):

Photo from DK Find Out

Nets are sturdy shallow-drafted boats about 5 to 10 meters long, with oars and a detachable squarish sail. They are used as fishing boats (like a pirogue, luzzu, jangada, dhoni, baddan, or bokkura).

Let’s go with another model picture, because they’re cute. That’s a dhoni:

Picture from the British Museums Greenwich

Triremes are expensive warships with oars and sails. They are 30 to 40 meters long and about 5 meters wide. Most are in the service of Nochet or Rhinos, although Seapolis maintains a handful (paid for I suspect by Esrolian merchant princes).

Probably the most well-known of the three types of ships, the trireme features prominently into any good epic story set around the Ancient Mediterranean. These are common enough that it’s super easy to find a reference picture online, but because I used models for the first two, now I need to find a trireme model for this last one:

Picture from D&T Online

More on Boldhome Pockets

More maps! Yes! Thank you Jeff! The Boldhome map seems almost complete at this point, except for the metric scale error (the imperial one is correct):

Cartography by Matt Ryan, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

We already know from previous notes that the “Boldhome pockets” are neighbourhoods built by the dwarves in the cliffs of the Quivin mountains, complete with sewer and climate control systems.

Almost a third of the population of Boldhome lives in the East and West Pockets of the city. […] Most buildings are approximately 15-20 meters square, with each floor divided into series of rooms intended for a family unit that include a sleeping area, a shrine, a central room with a cooking fire (ventilated by a chimney), and a water room. Multiple passages exist between these “family units”, and many buildings extend deep into the cliff. The result is a honeycomb-like maze of rooms. On the map, the East and West Pockets don’t look so big, but once you see the isometric maps we have done, you will see how big they really are!

Well, I can’t wait to see more maps!

Sartarite Military

Jeff’s latest notes focus on the armies of Sartar, which are usually composed of “foot militia led by mounted noblemen called thanes“, complemented by mercenaries, warrior societies, and allies (Sun Dome templars, Humakti swords, Pol-Joni, Praxian tribes, Grazelander tribes, etc). When the Lunar Occupation ended, Kallyr was at the head of “a motley conglomeration of causes, defying neat and easy categorization and organization“. Things went downhill after her demise at the Battle of Queens, until Argrath took control of the Kingdom:

Building on his own personal cavalry forces he raised in Prax, he made his army the greatest source of wealth, honor, and power in the principality, and quickly transformed the Sartarite army to become a uniquely flexible and effective force.

Art by Ossi Hiekkala, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Each clan and tribe militia is composed of farmers and herders who are expected to follow their leaders in battle when called upon. The chieftain, thanes, and bodyguards are the only professional warriors, but the militia trains at least yearly, possibly during the occasion of the Orlanth Rex festivities of Movement Week:

Each Fire Season, the local militias muster at a tribal or even city level. Members participate in athletic competitions and mock sparring contests to learn how to fight, and to strengthen them.

This should be an important gathering for your Adventurers! Even though they are almost always part of this noble class, it might be fun to have them train their tribe’s farmers and herders, who turn out to be undisciplined because of some stupid feud between bloodlines!

In terms of equipment, “the Sartarite militia were primarily light infantry skirmishers“:

They are lightly armored, typically with a composite or open helm and a quilted linen hauberk, and fight with sword and javelins. They are led by their clan chiefs and thanes but follow their tribal kings into war.

About cavalries:

The Sartarite cavalry was formed in imitation of the sun-worshipping horsemen the Orlanthi encountered. These mounted and more heavily armored warriors are members of the noble castes, the only classes that could afford such things. This later led to the rise of the Orlanth Rex cult and its own mounted warrior, the “thane.” […] The thane was supported by the clan or tribe itself. They became an elite class freed from the duties of other men and sworn to the fight.

At the time of Prince Kallyr, thanes lead the militia or form the mounted bodyguard of the tribal kings. When Argrath becomes Prince, he gathers many thanes together to form elite cavalry regiments like the Twin Spears.

About warrior societies:

Warrior societies are maintained by War Clans and tribal War Gods, such as Orlanth Adventurous, Babeester Gor, Humakt, and Storm Bull. These are bands of full-time warriors who support themselves through raiding and looting (usually of livestock). They are experienced warriors who have often gone afield and acquired some wisdom and equipment, including mounts to get around. Warrior society members are built along cult lines (usually as members of Storm Bull, Orlanth Adventurous, or Humakt).

The fact that these societies are “built along cult lines” is important here: in my opinion, while a Babeester Gor Axe Sister may live in her original tribal lands, looking after the local Earth temple’s interests, some other cults like Storm Bull or Orlanth Adventurous will more often than not send their members far from home.

Finally, about mercenaries:

Individual fighters or groups of fighters are often recruited by local leaders to serve as bodyguards or professional soldiers. The guardsmen of the various Sartarite cities are mercenaries paid by the cities and mercenary companies are a common feature in Dragon Pass. Mercenary companies like the Brown Choppers and the Boldhome Axemen participated in Starbrow’s Rebellion, and the Liberation of Sartar was achieved in part with aid from numerous mercenaries like Jarandor’s Raiders, the Storm Hills Chargers, or the Hendriki Volunteers.

The Humakt and Sun Dome cultists are the best-known mercenaries in Sartar but Orlanth Adventurous mercenary companies have become quite common. Entire tribes are also known to be willing to fight for pay.

This is a great piece of world-building because it provides options for players who are more into the “murder hobo” (which should really be called “murder tourist”, really) type of adventures, rather than having to live as a part of a community, with all the ties and limitations that implies.

Vinga by Katrin Dirim

Here’s a quick one: a picture of Vinga, who is at times described as the daughter of Orlanth, or as a female aspect of Orlanth.

Art by Katrin Dirim, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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.

Human Sacrifice

A thread on human sacrifice on BRP central received a comment by Jeff Richard confirming which Dragon Pass cults accept it:

Of the Lightbringers gods (Orlanth, Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, Lhankor Mhy), none accept human sacrifice, unless you consider the life of being a Trickster a very slow human sacrifice. Ernalda, Yelmalio, Yelm, Polaris, Yelorna, Ourania, Dendara, Lodril, Storm Bull, Waha, Eiritha, Asrelia, Ty Kora Tek – all refuse human sacrifice.

Of the gods of Death, Maran Gor, Babeester Gor, Humakt, Gorgorma, Shargash – all accept human sacrifice. So does Hon-eel. Several other Grain Goddesses do as well. So do Valind and Ygg.

Newt Newport Starts “Arkat’s Playground”

Newt Newport is one of those names you keep running into when it comes to Glorantha and RuneQuest. He’s the man behind D101 Games, which publishes the OpenQuest RPG (often described, slightly tongue-in-cheek, as “the subset of RuneQuest rules that you actually play“), and has a history of producing several high-quality Gloranthan fanzines (Gloranthan Adventures and Hearts in Glorantha).

© 2021 D101 Games

After last year’s announcement that these fanzines were ending, I thought that Newt would be focusing all his energy on D101 material, but it sounds like his heart is still, indeed, in Glorantha! A recent blog post announced the creation of the “Arkat’s Playground” imprint under which he plans to produce some Gloranthan content for the Jonstown Compendium.

I’m currently writing up a Lunar adventure set in the wastes of Prax, that I’ve been running at conventions for the last couple of years (see cover below, art by Dan Barker).

Art by Dan Barker, © 2021 D101 Games and Chaosium Inc.

These are great news, and they arrive on the same week that I received my copy of OpenQuest 3rd edition!

RPG Imaginings on the Red Book of Magic

The YouTube channel “RPG Imaginings“, which features reviews and unboxings of RPG products, has just posted a sponsored video on the recently released Red Book of Magic. This is a great way to get a proper look at the book if you haven’t acquired it yet:

Thank you for reading

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

Our tower came with a secret chamber full of documents, apparently hastily collected to be hidden and saved from destruction. Safety from fire unfortunately meant exposure to mold and other forms of decomposition, requiring much effort to restore the documents to legibility, and then transcribing them onto more durable media.

While scholarly prose makes up the greater part of these documents, part of the collection are transcripts of skaldic lore pieces, in the alliterative style of the priesthood of Orlanth. The vellum that we managed to decipher so fat appears to come from the Kingdom of Orlanthland, before the Dragonspeakers infiltrated their ruling ring.

These poems often are rather short mnenonics for events, meant for recitation at feasts where the entire community came together. Putting these into writing was not that common, which means we may have some unique material on our hands witnessing Heortling lore untainted by later influences.


When words unwritten won’t leave a warning
a skald’s staves may state the story.
Harken, Heortlingas, and hear the history
Fight the Forgetting, inform the future.

Many the moments of mayhem and strife,
long the litigations, and the lessons learned short.
Cruel the conflicts, cold the companions
left lying in blood on land left unconquered.

Copper Tablets Explained

Umath ascending – Aether’s abode,
proud planets plunging – panicked and old.
Jagrekriand standing – steadfast alone
cruelly crashing – Storm King to a hold.

Far north they went fighting – with fire and bolts
white pillar toppled – painful the trip.
Seduced below surface – siring a son
forced to fight the ferocious – fire-born foe.

Hell-spawned hostile – hospitality-breaker
Jagrekriand wrestled – recovering raider
Stormfather in shackles – smitten apart
uncles find Umath’s – underaged offspring.

The Skald’s lament

Orating like Orlanth in alliteration
telling a tale in tense and trim rhythm,
may look mellow in making, but mark the notion
that telling a tale may trigger just tedium
when stumbling a story not in end rhyme but staves.

I Fought We Won and Ritual of the Net

Only Old One from shadows, antlered scion of Orlanth,
Uprooted aldryami, and anxious mostali,
Wide-spanning windchild, and whirling gold wheel,
each on their own in desperate ordeal,
unified in opposition to evil oblivion.
Resigned to rebel against raging destruction

Heroic deeds hailing echoes in Hell.
Spider‘s whispers had seeded consensus
former arch-foes hold strands in their fists
trapping the terror, restricting its terror
supporting the spider that saved what was left
shards of creation, spun into the structure,
casting the web to collect what she could.
Digesting destruction, devouring oblivion,
taming the terror, conceiving Time.

Long was the leaving from ash-lord‘s cold lair,
proud the procession that prowled out of Hell.
I Fought We Won‘s victors found work for their kin,
fellow combatants, more felt than perceived,
joined comrades in council to care for the world.
Short victuals shared for mutual solace,
a Silver Age boding, from shadow reclaimed.
Dawn still distant, yet deeds of renown
connecting the camps and the caves of survival
so Theya‘s first rays would find life and friends.

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.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Vale and Farewell Steve Perrin (1946-2021)

The main news item is a sad one: Steve Perrin, whose name graced the cover of the first edition of RuneQuest back in 1976, passed away this week. Chaosium has a eulogy on their blog.

Art by Luise Perrin, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

He is one of our Great Old Ones. An innovative genius who helped pave the way for us to exist today, delighting gamers while they sit around a table, in person or online, exploring stories and adventures together, weaving new tales of derring-do. RuneQuest and Superworld were his children, and his imprint on so many of our other games is indelibly present.

Steve Perrin and Greg Stafford at Gen Con 2018, CC-BY-SA photo courtesy of Chaosium Inc.

Steve Perrin had lately been crowdfunding and handling the care of his wife, Luise Perenne, whose name and art also graced the cover of the first edition of RuneQuest. Our thoughts are with her and their families.

I’m grateful for Steve’s work in roleplaying games and his involvement in Chaosium — my enjoyment of “tabletop pretend” would not be half as good if he hadn’t innovated and popularized the type of class-less, skill-based system that I’ve loved so dearly most of my life.

Thanks for all the severed left legs, Steve.

Steve Perrin’s latest works before his passing involved the new RuneQuest “Roleplaying in Glorantha” edition, and some of its published adventures. In a follow-up blog post, Chaosium vice-president Michael O’Brien talks about Steve’s work in RuneQuest’s two adventure collections to date, The Smoking Ruin and The Pegasus Plateau. In the former, he wrote “The Lost Valley” (a little adventuring sandbox with a diverse cast of NPCs to meet and deal with) and “Urvantan’s Tower” (which featured our first glimpse at Malkioni sorcery in action). In the latter, he wrote “The Pairing Stones” (which has some of my favourite art pieces in the book, some new mechanics for a fan-favourite Gloranthan material, and some scary encounters).

[…] Steve wrote “The Pairing Stones”, as those stones were named after he and his wife Luise, who painted the iconic cover that graces RuneQuest’s first and second editions, and provided interior illustrations for various early Chaosium releases. Pairing = Perrin, so something of a love letter.

If you read French (or know about Google Translate), the Anniceris blog has an interesting eulogy and biography of Steve Perrin, including references to his SPQR alternative rules, his possible involvement in inventing Black Panther, and a fantastic picture of Steve and Luise in SCA regalia at the 1968 Worldcon.

Steve Perrin: Creating RuneQuest

In addition to a few eulogies and touching words by Chaosium staff, we are getting a rare treat in the form of a six-part interview of Steve about the genesis of RuneQuest!

For our RuneQuest Classic Kickstarter in 2016 Steve Perrin generously provided a personal account of his role in the genesis of the RuneQuest roleplaying game. Although at the time of the Kickstarter we publicly featured an excerpt of Steve’s recollections, the full account was only ever published a high level backer item (in the RuneQuest Playtest Manuscript) and so only received limited circulation. 

In memory of Steve, here we present his account in full as a six part series, offering his fascinating insights into the development of RuneQuest, the rules that cemented Steve Perrin as one of the most influential game designers of all time.

All six parts are available now from Chaosium’s blog:

This was just published as I woke up this morning, so I’m looking forward to dig into these articles over the next few days.

The White Bull Campaign

The “Chaosium house-campaign” continues their run through the “Dragon of Thunder Hills” adventure from the RuneQuest Gamemaster Pack. It’s always important to have a good poker face when you say “we have come to negotiate the terms of your surrender“.

Some Rare Wargaming Booklets with Glorantha as Setting Option

Chaosium president and expert collector/archivist Rick Meints wrote a short blog post about two rare wargaming booklets from Chaosium’s past: “Perilous Encounters” and the “Dragon Pass Conventions for Perilous Encounters”.

Photo by Rick Meints, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

These are from the early wargaming years of Chaosium, so you have to go to BoardGameGeek (instead of RPGGeek) for reference (here and here). Interestingly, the cover picture from BoardGameGeek is white, as opposed to red in Rick’s picture… mmmh, I wonder if Chaosium has once again made various randomly-coloured versions of a product due to some equally random production limitation. My current vote is for something along the lines of “Greg ran out of red paper after about 800 copies, so the last 200 copies were printed on some white paper he found behind his desk. There may be also 6 copies printed on beige paper, because the pile of white paper was sitting on top of another pile“.

Anyway, Rick says:

During the height of our wargame years, The Chaosium published Steve Lortz’s Perilous Encounters in 1978. It featured the amazing art of Gene Day, most of which he had drawn previously in 1977. Its 44 pages of fantasy miniatures rules for beginners were described as “It has always been our intention to present the finest quality games for experienced game players, but it is also our intention to present the novice gamer with enjoyable and playable games of similar high caliber.” Don Dupont (Troy) and Nevile Stocken (Archive Miniatures), two early Chaosium collaborators, honed the project into its final form.

You may know Gene Day from his work at Marvel Comics, but he had already worked with Chaosium on Nomad Gods, for instance. That’s not the only time Chaosium worked with soon-to-be famous comicbook artists either: you can find some early work by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola in the pages of Wyrm’s Footnotes.

RuneQuest Starter Set Release Dates… Maybe

Over on BRP Central, Rick Meints (him, again!) shares some details on the possible release date for the RuneQuest Starter Set:

[End of September availability in the UK] for the Starter set is probably optimistic. We’ll have the books in our US warehouse by then, and they will be available to distributors some time in late September. Unfortunately, your UK game shop has to get the books from a distributor that has to order those books from our US warehouse and have them shipped to the UK. That makes me think maybe November at the earliest for an appearance in UK game shops. We’ll be selling the Starter set on our website for probably 2 months prior to that UK game shop debut, and offering shipping from our UK warehouse.

Please note that our UK warehouse is very expensive when it comes to storing product. Thus, we can’t have stock it with enough books to support distributor and game shop orders. We mainly have it for our UK fans who want to buy direct from us, and as soon as the product is available.

Picture by Rick Meints, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

It’s important to note that the international shipping situation is a complete and utter mess right now. Shipping quotes have skyrocketed between last year and this year, and the global pandemic that is now part of our life has added delays at various checkpoints. And that’s when there isn’t a big ship stuck in the Suez canal (at least, we got some funny memes from that one).

Munchkin, Car Wars, GURPS, and Fantasy Trip (among others) publisher Steve Jackson Games (another gaming company I dearly love) is often very open with their fans when it comes to their production pipeline and financial situation, especially with their yearly “Report to Stakeholders“. Well, see what they have to say about this whole shipping debacle:

Global shipping is a nightmare. We have already posted a few Daily Illuminator entries about the state of freight (May 23, June 29), and things are not getting better. Freight costs were once a part of the business; now those costs threaten to devastate publishers. 

As an example of how freight is impacting games, our Car Wars Sixth Edition project required five containers (all on the water, and slowly making their way to our primary warehouse) that each cost over 3x more than they would have if the game had shipped in 2020. As many of you know, 2020 was the planned shipdate . . . and then a global pandemic decided to enter the picture and completely disrupt our plan and the manufacturing schedule.

These freight costs are tearing into already-thin margins for many publishers, and some publishers are being forced to make decisions between shipping now and losing money, or holding inventory at the factory – and losing money.

Many other publishers replied on social media to say, basically “yep, they’re right: it’s bad“.

Silver lining: these days when my wife rolls her eyes at “yet another game purchase“, I can say that I’m just trying to support creators and gaming stores… she can’t argue against that!

GROGNARDIA Interviews Rick Meints

I somehow missed this a few weeks ago, but the excellent blog GROGNARDIA (which we mentioned a few times already in these parts) has a two-part interview of Chaosium president Rick Meints (part 1 and part 2). The interview covers large periods of Rick’s fandom and career, and how one morphed into the other.

RuneQuest for Fantasy Grounds

Progress continues for being able to play RuneQuest on the Fantasy Grounds VTT (where Chaosium already has many Call of Cthulhu items available). As far as I know, the goal is to have this ready by the time the Starter Set ships to customers and stores.

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!

Print-on-Demand Proofs for the Company of the Dragon

The Company of the Dragon is coming soon in POD! Andrew Logan Montgomery shared this picture on the RuneQuest Facebook group:

Picture by John, Andrew’s US-based friend

Andrew also notes the following about prices:

The recent price hike on the Premium color did make a big difference. Print costs on the Premium look to be $45 US with Standard being $20. I am glad I did both, because $25 is a big difference in these times. So those prices will have the actual cost of the book tacked on ($29.99 as it stands now, BUT I will be putting them both on sale the first month with about $10 knocked off the price on my end).

Of course, this may change a bit by the time the books are released, so don’t let anybody get mad at Andrew if he changes the price points!

Two Jonstown Compendium Products Contending for the Ennies

Big congratulations to Allan Carey, Chris Gidlow (twice!), Mike Hagen, Nick Brooke, Michael O’Brien, Jeff Richard, and Greg Stafford for being nominated in the “Community Content” category of the 2021 Ennie Awards.

© 2021 multiple artists and authors, and Chaosium Inc.

And yes, that category is weirdly repurposed from the older “Organized Play” category for some reason, even if it doesn’t look like the same thing at all to me… Anyway, voting opens next week, so be ready to show some love to Miskatonic University and Jonstown Compendium authors! We’ll give you the link for that in next week’s newsletter if there’s still time for that, otherwise you can follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more real-time updates.

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.

Comparing the Peaks of Dragon Pass

While working on the master map of Dragon Pass (which will feature in the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set), Chaosium cartographer Matt Ryan made this sketch to get a good idea of how the main peaks of the region compare to each other:

Sketch by Matt Ryan, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

The Elmal vs Yelmalio Clarifications Continue

This is the topic that keeps on giving! I assume this will never get settled with some people, but I found this message from Jeff, on BRP Central, pretty interesting:

By the 1540s, the Elmal cult in Sartar was spiritually disintegrated under the influence of the Lunar Heartlands and the Yelm cult. Yelm IS the Sun. There’s just no way around that – the Yelm cult can prove that, have massive resources for proving it, know the mythic pathways of the Sun a thousand times better than any Orlanthi sun worshiper, and so on. And so many Elmali embraced Yelm. These Elmali waged war against their clans and tribes, murdered a Prince of Sartar, etc. Really bad stuff that nearly destroyed Sartar. 

We know some of this from the Glorantha Sourcebook and King of Sartar. I’m pretty sure that the Elmali worshippers of Sartar getting cozier and cozier over the years with the Dara Happan Yelm cults wasn’t making them very popular with their Storm-worshipping neighbours… there are a couple mentions of Elmali clans disintegrating, getting into feuds, and refusing the Prince of Sartar’s call to arms.

The bit about murdering a Prince of Sartar is more obscure. In King of Sartar (2nd edition) Prince Jarosar is said to have been “killed by Lunar spirits” (p154), but also poisoned “from a friend’s hand” (p30). We know that King of Sartar is often vague and contradictory on purpose, so you can go with whichever option you want, but we know that Jeff goes with the second option, and more specifically that he attributes this “friend’s hand” to some treacherous Elmali:

Yes, the friend was an Elmali. And the Elmali thorough [sic] screwed Jarolar and Jarosar. The growing Yelmalio cult on the other hand aided Dorasor in settling New Pavis and aided Tarkalor against the trolls.

Back to the original message:

Monrogh righted all of that, by showing that Elmal is just a name for YELMALIO. Who is not Yelm. Who has his own myths and paths that Yelm does not know. Who persevered in the Darkness and was never extinguished (unlike Yelm). Monrogh could prove this and you could experience this as well. This wasn’t some syncretic religious argument – you would start the ceremonies to Elmal and Monrogh would show you how to go further into the rites and have the clouds cleared, the haze removed, and see the brilliant true light.

Here we are definitely in the “magical challenges” territory. You may want to check back on what Jeff said about those in issue 6 of the Journal, and how that applied to Monrogh and Yelmalio in issue 7.

This went fast – by the 1560s there was a Yelmalio cult in Sartar that fought the trolls, supported the House of Sartar, supported the rights of the Earth Temples – you name it. 

The name Elmal was by then a byword for treason, murder, and kinstrife. 

So now, the Yelmalio cult is how Sartarites worship the Light. Yelmalio is a frenemy of Orlanth, which is not uncommon in polytheistic pantheons. But the Orlanth cult supports Yelmalio, and Orlanth Rex has built him fine temples (include the Sun Dome temple). And that basically is the end of the story. 

Sun County cover by Roger Raupp, © 2021 Chaosium Inc. Available from RedBubble.

This really helped me better understand how, except for a couple hundred holdouts near Runegate, the Elmali cultists mostly left their tribes and settled in the (then new) Sun Dome County. The key, at least for me and my Glorantha, is to frame it as a win-win-win solution for these Elmali: they reach a deeper (and more powerful!) understanding of their God, they form a new tribe in which they can do all the sun-worship they want without getting angry looks from the other storm-worshiping villagers, and they restore their social and political position within the Kingdom of Sartar. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Of course the devil is in the details, but I don’t think I need to look at it too closely unless I intend to play a game set in the late 1500s, when all of this happened.

I will still definitely have a handful of weirdo conservative Elmali here and there in my Glorantha, whenever I need some “colourful NPCs”. I will definitely play them with a silly southern US accent.

More on the Pockets of Boldhome

As Jeff continues to flesh out Boldhome for the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set, he shares some art and words on Facebook:

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

The “pockets” of Boldhome are dwarven-built directly into the cliffs of the mountain. They are organized in “terraces” (multiple levels) and “galleries” (collections of dwellings on the same level). A gallery holds “many families, usually organized around guild, clan, or cult activities“.

Galleries typically have a large communal eating area or feasting hall. These include storage rooms, kitchens, and private dining rooms. They are typically named after the gallery, so the Bonesmith Feasting Hall, etc.

Each gallery has numerous hearths. These are residences, where families sleep, weave, keep their possessions. There are typically chambers near the hearths for funerary urns, and shrines to the family gods. There are channels with running water, some of which have stone latrines built over them. They are lit by fires that are ventilated by mysterious dwarf-made chimneys.

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Galleries have common spaces too: shrines to Lightbringer and Earth deities, kilns and forges, baths and steam rooms (which also feature more mysterious dwarven chimneys).

At the very rear of each gallery is a sacred Air shrine, where all the Mostali chimneys and tunnels gather. This chamber appears as vents that runs from the lowest terrace to the open air. Air rushes in and out of these vents, assisted by air elementals and spirits. There are shrines to the Breather Within where the inhabitants call upon the powers of Air to keep the Pocket habitable. During the Lunar Occupation, these served as a hidden Temple to Orlanth Victorious, where the god was worship despite the Lunar ban.

I wonder if some of these air elementals accept sacrifices to extra-ventilate when you stink up the latrines? Or to infiltrate someone’s personal quarters? (I don’t know how wealthy pocket-dwellers might be… Joerg thinks this is mostly middle and lower class people)

An important thing to note is that Jeff is heavily implying that many of Boldhome’s designs might be used “the wrong way” by its human inhabitants. The city’s architecture was commissioned by Sartar himself but only the Dwarves know what some of these chimneys and mechanisms are for. They might have wrongly assumed what humans need to live, and humans might have wrongly assumed what the Dwarves built for them. This is some good opportunity for a couple of scenarios where some city building or infrastructure starts “misbehaving” in a totally obscure or unexpected way!

Notes on Saird

Jeff shared a map of Saird, part of the Lunar Provinces, to show how urbanized and populated it is:

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

With every one of these dots being a town (Joerg tells me these would be between 500 and 1000 inhabitants each), that’s a lot of people! The Daughter’s Road that you can see diagonally crossing the land is bound to be a very busy mode of transportation, and somewhat of a symbol of pride for the locals, for it predates, say, the Sartarite Roads by at least a century! The “daughter” in question, who built the roads, is now worshipped as a goddess in the Lunar Pantheon as “Hwarin Dalthippa, the Conquering Daughter”. There’s a whole bunch of material in the Guide about her.

Given its geographical location, Saird is “where Dragon Pass and lowland Peloria like to fight their wars“. And indeed, it was when the Conquering Daughter invaded some of these lands that Arim the Pauper braved the Deathline and entered Dragon Pass to build the Kingdom of Tarsh, about the same time the Hendriki also entered it from the south as the first tribes of the future Kingdom of Sartar.

Now, this is where I often get confused: some Gloranthan names relate to geographical locations, while others relate to nations and settled areas. I’m never sure which is which… I think that Saird is a geographical location. As such, it overlaps with nations such as Holay and Aggar and maybe even Vanch. I think? Maybe? Hold on, I’m going to go ask Joerg.

Joerg here: Saird is indeed used as the name of a region containing the current kingdoms of Vanch, Imther, Holay, Aggar (at least the lowland parts), and a huge part of Sylila. But then the borders of these successor kingdoms varied within Lunar history (as can be seen in the Sourcebook).

In the Second Age, the Kingdom of Saird was created in opposition to the EWF, and received one of the three sons of the heiress of Carmania and the Emperor of Dara Happa as its king.

As far as I can see, there was no earlier occasion that would have had Saird as a unified political entity. The Dawn Survival sites show many different human cultures, quite a few of these under Troll overlordship. In the Bright Empire, the area saw the establishment of Sun Dome Temples, the cult of Palangio, the Iron Vrok, who became governor and conqueror of the Orlanthi outside of the Bright Empire (except for Fronela).

Thanks Joerg. Anyway, back to Jeff’s notes. He describes Saird as “the original “homeland” of the Yelmalio cult“. I’m pretty out of my depth on these topics so here’s a bunch of big quotes from Jeff… apologies, but I can’t effectively summarize this amount of information:

Between 375 and 425, there was an incredible mixing of cults and cultures in Saird. The Orlanth Thunderous cult was suppressed, many of the Wind Lords worshiped a mortal demigod as the incarnation of High Storm – we all know the story. Rebels like the old Berenething tribe were exterminated in Saird and their lands given to those loyal to the Broken Council. But outside of the Orlanth cult was a tremendous exploration of the paths of Light, encouraged by the Broken Council (and their new Light God). The Sons of the Sun were powerful and popular, and later given rule over Dragon Pass, with its unruly tribes, trolls, and dragonewts.

By “we all know the story”, of course, Jeff means “Gloranthaphiles may know the story”. I totally don’t! I have no idea who that mortal demigod is, but judging from a quick search in the Guide, and from the comments on Facebook, it might be Lokamayadon, priest of Nysalor who “usurped Orlanth’s place in [the Heortlings’] temples“.

Arkat and his troll, Orlanthi, and Praxian allies defeated the Sons of the Sun and rule was given to the trolls. The Yelmalio cult (which were the spiritual heirs of the Sons of the Sun) overthrew the trolls in Saird. Although they initially fought against Dragon Pass, they soon joined the Empire of Wyrms Friends and became an important military arm of the EWF and aided in the conquest of Dara Happa. Sun Dome temples were built from Fronela to Prax.

But the Empire of the Wyrms Friends was forced out of Saird in 956 by a coalition of Carmanians, Dara Happans, and Orlanth Rex warlords, ruled by cadet branch of the very heterodox Karvanyar Dynasty. For almost 200 years, Saird was a melting point of Yelmalion, Orlanthi, Dara Happan, and Carmanian cultures. Chaos and dragons were identified with Ganesatarus the Devil, the Lodril cult was imported but Dendara did not take, every man was the Last Light against the dragons, and Yelm and Orlanth were viewed as the Rival Brothers – who would naturally quarrel unless held together for a greater purpose (usually by Yelmalio). Real world analogies – the Mitanni, Seleucid Syria, Lydia, etc.

Then came the Dragonkill War of 1120. The dynasty was extinguished, and Saird was briefly conquered by Dara Happa. When Dara Happa was dissected by the Carmanian Empire, Saird became dominated by Orlanthi and (to a lesser extent) Yelmalion tribes. When the Mad Sultanate showed up, the tribes were horrified by the Chaos brought by the new Lunar Empire. Many Sairdite tribes followed Jannisor in his Great War against the Lunar Empire (1270-1275) and were defeated at their moment of victory inside Glamour.

As the Lunar Empire marched south, conquering Sylila in 1309, the Sairdite tribes unified into the Kynnelfing Alliance, but were ultimately defeated by Hwarin Dalthippa in 1347. This sent the most anti-Lunar groups south across the Death Line into Dragon Pass. In Saird, the Seven Mothers and Hwarin Dalthippa became important cults. Over the next century, Saird became a battleground between mostly Orlanthi Tarshites and the Lunar satrapy of Sylila.

A stable Provincial system didn’t really come into existence until 1555 (Phargentes was the first Provincial Overseer). Hon-eel early had came to Saird with her maize en route to Tarsh, and by now (1625) about a third of the population follows the Lunar Way. The Yelmalio cult is still important, although secondary to the Seven Mothers and Ernalda, and the Orlanth cult holds on with surprisingly large numbers, although largely subsumed into Barntar. Many peasants are descended from Pelorian colonists and worship Lodril instead.

And because of course everything goes back to debates about Yelmalio’s cult:

Now Monrogh only shows up into this story after around 1582 or so. The Provincial Kings, seeking military allies, encourage the local Yelmalio cult to organise along Monrogh’s lines and into Sun Domes, thus returning the cult back to where it was in the Second Age, as valuable mercenaries for whoever is the regional ruler.

But you can see from this, Yelmalio has been around in Peloria since the beginning.

The only weird thing was the Hendriki Tribe that worshiped a limited and constrained version of Yelmalio. But now the Sartarites are the cultural centre of a reinvigorated Yelmalio cult.

When you tell the story from this perspective, the Praxian Sun Dome Temple is just a weird footnote (“did you know that Yelmalio made it all the way to Prax in the Second Age, and there is a weird little colony of them still there! Wow!”), and the whole Elmal-Yelmalio thing becomes another footnote (“did you know that the rebellious Hendriking tribe had a weird little Yelmalio variant that was tolerated by the trolls and the Only Old One, but it died out in the 1550s when they embraced the larger Yelmalio cult?”).


Although Yelmalio is associated with Yelm, the Yelmalio cult is autonomous. Within the Lunar Heartlands, the Yelmalio cult is of course subject to the Red Emperor and his satraps, but so is almost every other cult (Red Goddess, Seven Mothers, Lodril, Dendara, Polaris, even Shargash). In the Lunar Provinces this gets a bit trickier. The Provincial Overseer has rule over the Provinces, and many Sun Dome Temples have treaties of alliance with individual provincial kings. Plus there are likely some long-standing contracts between the Lunar rulers and individual Sun Dome Temples.

But the Provincial Overseer is dead. Many provincial leaders lack the coin to pay their contracts, and besides the Lunar Empire is a bit preoccupied right now with a Pentan invasion and a White Moon uprising.

Thus in the Hero Wars, individual Sun Dome Temples will go their own way, fight both for and against the Lunar Empire. But Yelmalio dislikes the Red Goddess, so the Lunars need to pay extra.

Jeff concludes:

So I encourage you to imagine Saird as a densely populated and very urbanised place with three large cities (including one metropolis) but also with many rural tribes who often play kingmaker in city politics. The Daughter’s Road runs through it on its way to Jillaro.

The three large cities are all within 90 km of each other (Mirin’s Cross and Fyllich Kwan are only 50 km apart). It is a melting pot, with Lunar missionaries, bureaucrats, and officers, Yelmalion Sun Domers, Earth Priestesses, other Lightbringers, Dara Happan nobles and Lodrilli peasants, all jostling against each other.

If you want some ideas, notes, and unofficial maps to play in Imther or Holay, Harald “Jajagappa” Smith has got you covered with links and resources from himself and other community members.

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.

RuneQuest Actual Plays and Play Reports

If Jeff’s White Bull Campaign is not enough to quench your thirst of watching or listening to other people playing RuneQuest, I’ve got a couple more links for you!

Bryon Ross has an ongoing “video log” series where he gives short (~15 minutes) reports of his RuneQuest games. He also often links to the recording of the actual game itself, in case you want to watch how things actually unfolded. For instance, the game for the play report above is here.

Another actual play series, this time in audio form, is from the “Pen & Paper Bullshit” podcast. Their latest RuneQuest episode is here.

Both Bryon and Pen & Paper Bullshit also have other games and campaigns in their feeds.

Last, friend of the God Learners Austin Conrad (who was our guest on episode 2), has started collecting all of his “Sylthi Playtest” material in one spot on his blog. This includes play reports for his campaign based around a northern Esrolian city, and some miscellaneous notes like an Asrelia-related myth that featured in a recent game session.

Two Documents from Eight Arms and the Mask

The Lunar heterodox whirlwind “Eff”, which members of Gloranthan online communities certainly know pretty well by now, has just posted two new articles on her blog.

The first one, “The Great Families of the Lunar Empire“, deals with the relationship between the noble families of the Lunar Provinces, the historic Dara Happan aristocracy, and the Red Emperor’s far reaching influence. Come for a list of family clan names, stay for the Red Emperor’s weird sexual encounters.

The second one, “Personal Recollections of a Sutler with the Warm Sisters – Excerpt from 9th Fragment“, is a found document (does Eff also have a tower with a pile of documents waiting to be restored and translated?). It’s a narrative dialogue that deals with draconism and magic. I have no idea what’s going on here…. which is great!

How Ancient Bronze Body Armour Was Made By Hand

As far as I know, bronze weapons like axe heads and short swords were made by pouring hot molten bronze into a cast and then letting it cool down — a much different process from that of blacksmiths with their iconic big hammers and, I guess, a much less cinematic one too. But how did red-smiths make more complicated objects such as bronze body armour? Well, what if I told you you can have your big hammer after all?

Rob Martin, who features in the video, uses brass build his armour (it’s cheaper and more malleable than bronze), but the process it similar than with bronze. First, he heats up the plate and dunks it in water to make it malleable. Then comes hammering time! Yay! Cinematic sequence! It told you… Shaping the plate into the desired armour with a hammer is what gives it the cool “lots of little bulges and bumps” look that we know and love from the Ancient World. Of course, getting all the details, as opposed to just a general rough shape, is where 80% of the time and talent goes… that’s how you get your +1 CHA by paying ten times as much for a similar piece of equipment! After all this work is done, Rob applies some acidic solution to darken the plate and give it some cool patina, and then scrubs it to achieve the final glimmering effect.

Thanks to modern tools such as electric saws, he finished the armour in about two or three days of work, instead of the hundred days that an Ancient Greek red-smith would have taken.

D-Infinity’s 1D8 Magical Treasures

You may remember that the D-Infinity website has “RuneQuest Thursdays” articles on, well, Thursdays (although not necessarily every week). Their latest article might be interesting to the nice Gamemasters out there who have already gone through Plunder and Treasures of Glorantha to reward their players… You get eight more magical items to give out!

Of course, the nasty Gamemasters can use those items to equip the NPCs instead…

When Orcs Were Real

Here’s an article tries to cast the Neanderthals as the big, ugly, hairy boogeymen that imprinted so much on the Homo Sapiens’ psyche that they became the orcs, trolls, ogres, and other ugly humanoid monsters that show up in many folktales and legends.

Neanderthal from the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Photaro, Wikimedia Commons

Okay, sure, I know better than to trust the word of a random blog on the internet written by some person whose identity and credentials are, as far as I can tell, totally unknown, but I find it an entertaining line of thought, especially when it comes to some Gloranthan creatures’ origins like the Tusk Riders.

By the way, that that skull recently discovered by Chinese archaeologists (and mentioned in the article) was widely reported as being from a “new branch of the human family tree”, but that claim isn’t widely accepted as far as I can tell, so it may be a bit premature to call it that until there’s more DNA material to analyze.

Curetes Street in Ancient Ephesus

Author/historian Marina Amaral shares some digital reconstructions of an Ancient Greek city that might help you better picture what, say, some Esrolian city might have looked like:

Virtual reconstruction by Ádám Németh
Virtual reconstruction by Ádám Németh

This city is Ephesus and is actually located in Turkey, even though it was built by Greek colonists. You can find more digital reconstructions on Ádám Németh’s website, including more pictures of Ephesus.

Tehotihuacan and Tikal

Do you want more digital reconstructions? Artist Anxo Miján Maroño has done some work for National Geographic that includes similar 3D rendering of ancient Mesoamerican cities like Tikal and Teotihuacan. This is all from period that happens a bit later than our usual Bronze Age focus (a handful of centuries CE), but at least Tikal has some architecture dating back to the 4th century BCE. I’m sure that regardless of the dates, you’ll love these colourful and inspiring pictures.

Tikal general view, by Anxo Miján Maroño
Teotihuacan general view, by Anxo Miján Maroño
View from Teotihuacan’s West Quare, by Anxo Miján Maroño

Thank you for reading

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

Errata: a previous version of this article described the well-circulated picture of Steve and Luise in SCA costume as a wedding picture. That was purely wishful thinking. I’m pretty sure they had a wicked wedding, though.


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

We are now occupying a nice little tower with a long history of previous occupants who have left behind documents, tablets, artifacts, and other kinds of junk. As we clean up and archive these things, we share the most interesting ones with you.

First Time Myth, Pivotal Features of the Godtime

Joerg has cleaned up another of these weird documents, called “First Time Myth, Pivotal Features of the Godtime“. I frankly have no idea what half of it is about, but we are doing our best to recover all this lost knowledge:

Such singularities are static, unchanging – our colleagues at Robcradle in Genert’s Wastes have observed the singularity of the Eternal Battle, a rare case of a moving rather than a multi-local such approach to a singularity. They are alike to the One World of Runes, but not exactly co-planar to that concept, and our perception of such pivotal singularities may be similar to our perception of the Cosmic Mountain itself.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Gen Con Online is Back

Gen Con Online is back this year, and Chaosium has 80 online games in the line-up, from Call of Cthulhu to RuneQuest, Pendragon, and QuestWorlds.

© 2021 Gen Con

Event Registration for Gen Con Online will open at noon Eastern on August 15. The Gen Con Online event catalog is available now to browse events and build your wish list.

As with last year, some of these sessions are “VIP Creators’ Series” sessions for which, I believe, you agree to be recorded for later posting on YouTube. This is your opportunity to play with Lynne Hardy, Michael O’Brien, Allan Carey, and Andrew Bean.

The White Bull Campaign

The new episode is up! Watch Jeff’s players get very… ahem, “friendly” with Tarndisi as they seek more information about dragons. I’m curious if any of you is going to gasp the way I did when I heard Jeff’s pronunciation for names like Cinsina or Balmyr?

QuestWorlds Update

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

While only tangentially related to Glorantha, the QuestWorlds core book (which is a generic toolkit system born out of HeroQuest) has a first draft almost written. Ian Cooper, line editor for QuestWorld, says:

QuestWorlds now has a good first draft of the Core Book. It needs a couple of tweaks:

* The group sequence example
* One of the example GM’s Ripley is using a homebrew setting that I want to show how they made.

But otherwise: review, edit, art direction, layout

Ian Cooper drove the design of QuestWorlds as a very open process, with many people from the HeroQuest and broader Chaosium community giving feedback on the draft as it was being written. You can actually see the latest version of the SRD on the QuestWorlds website. As far as I can tell, it will pretty much be a HeroQuest 2.5, with the “.5” representing some very welcome clean-up, simplification, and unification of the mechanics.

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!

Teaser for The Last Riddle

Andrew Montgomery’s next book seems to be his Wastes mini-campaign “The Final Riddle”, which he has now started teasing:

© 2021 Andrew Logan Montgomery and Chaosium Inc.
© 2021 Andrew Logan Montgomery and Chaosium Inc.

In the Great Winter of 1622, the city of New Pavis is on the edge of collapse. As the grain dole runs dry, and refugees crowd the streets, the player characters are unemployed, hungry, and desperate. When an Esrolian noblewoman arrives in the city, hiring bearers, guides, and guards, it seems like their prayers have been answered.

But Unva Prithverna’s expedition into the heart of the Wastes–seeking the palace of a lost Earth goddess–is not at all what it seems. In four linked scenarios, the player characters find their beliefs, their perceptions, their very sense of reality challenged as the lines are all blurred and they descend into the heart of Chaos.

Madness. Illumination. Terror.

From what Andrew says about it, this campaign is inspired by “Heart of Darkness“. I wonder if a fat Marlon Brando plays the Earth Goddess at the end of the journey… that would indeed be madness inducing.

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.

Picturing the Pelorian Bowl

Over on Facebook, Jeff Richard talks about the Pelorian basin, which is “a little bigger than the High Plains of the United States or nearly three times the size of the Pannonian Basin in Europe (Austria, Hungary, Romania, etc.)

Without humans, the Pelorian bowl is a mixed temperate grassland, with wetlands and wooded areas (primarily in the hills). Native animals include bison, wild cattle, lions, black bears, sabre-tooth cats, the occasional dinosaur, and lots of birds.


The indigenous flora was likely mixed grass prairie, with plenty of riparian trees like cottonwoods, willows, maples, elm, oak, ash, etc. Much of the Pelorian plain is now deforested, but a thousand years ago, much of the northern and western plains were covered in woodlands.

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Rainfall in the region ranges from “maybe as much as 102cm” in the west (Talastar and Brolia) because of the Rockwood Mountains, down to 50cm and below in the Arcos valley and the even drier Pentan grasslands in the east. The Pelorian bowl has various precipitation figures, roughly between 50cm and 80cm. Interestingly, some places get most of their rain in the Storm season, while others get theirs in Fire Season, in what I assume is some kind of monsoon. By the way, don’t confuse “monsoon” and “moonson”.

A couple outliers exist. First, Glamour is in the rain shadow of the crater and the Red Moon, so only gets 41cm a year. And then there is Raibanth:

Raibanth is 36 cm. The presence of the Yelm cult definitely increases the number of cloudless days. Almost all of the precipitation falls in Fire Season, when the Pelorians worship Entekos the Rain Goddess and Dendara the Good Wife.


Prior to the Kalikos Expeditions, the Oslira River used to freeze over every winter. I think the Arcos and the Poralistor still do.

Jeff pictures this when he thinks of Peloria:

Photo by Edwin Olson

This is a picture of the Konza Prairie Reserve in Kansas… so I guess if you put on Sedenya’s Red Slippers and tap them together, you end up back in the Lunar Heartlands! But wait, who’s the Wicked Witch of the West then? Isn’t that the Red Goddess too? Or Jar-Eel, at least? I’m confused. The Witch was green, not red, so is Jar-Eel a Waertagi too? Did Dorothy Gale grow up and take the place of the Evil Witches she savagely killed in her youth, becoming the very evil she was trying to eliminate? Is this what the cyclical nature of the Red Goddess is, alternative between benevolence and evil? Am I going way too far in my analogy? Is this what Illumination feels like? Aaaagh!

Ok let’s go back to just looking at this as a pretty prairie:

This was the homeland of the various horse-riding cultures of the Dawn – the Pure Horse People (aka Hyalorings) and the chariot-using and cattle (or even reindeer) herding folk descended from the Starlight Ancestors. Now those nomadic and semi-nomadic people were forced out some 1400 years ago, and play as much direct a role in Pelorian life as Sarmatians did during the later Palaiologos Dynasty in Constantinople.

No wonder the Pentans are angry. Not only did the Lunars push them out of their ancient grasslands, they also ruined the scenery with their sprawling agriculture and deforestation.

A few other notes:

[…] reindeer herding has been practiced in Eol, Ashrill, and even in Karasal since before the Dawn. And goat herding is common in the western plains. But pigs are the main meat animal in most of the Pelorian heartlands.

Now this all has some impact on “Lunar” attire. Rather than looking like the cast of Rome, basic dress consists of a skirt, tunic, jacket, cloak or sleeved robe, and headdress. Commoners have few pieces of clothing and often are restricted to specific colors. The skirts of half-citizens cannot extend below the knees and usually must be shorter, while nobles and priestess wear long robes and skirts that drag on the floor.

Now that might envision images of Byzantine noble clothing, but it could just as easily be the winter attire of the Iroquois, the Volga Bulgars, the Chuvash, or the Cucuteni-Trypillia Culture.

Here’s what the Cucuteni-Trypillia culture looks like (more pictures here):

More Pelorian Details

At this point, we venture into places in Genertela that I know absolutely nothing about: Darjiin and Henjarl Marshes. Jeff says:

The wetlands of Henjarl and Darjiin are comparable to the Pripet Marshes in Belorus and Ukraine. Open sedge reed spaces alternate with nearly impenetrable shrub thickets. Pine forests can be found on the pockets of dry land (many of which are volcanic in origin). With melting snow in Storm and Sea Season, and the summer rains, the marshes flood and the local population have to take boats to get around. Much of it has been turned into rice paddies.

Picture by Robert Niedźwiedzki

The area is rich with bird life, and Biselenslib and SurEnslib – the heron goddess of Henjarl and Darjiin – are important ancestral cults and bird-woman goddesses with life-nurturing qualities, but can also appear as a bird of prey or corpse eater, linked with the powers of death and regeneration. These traditional “bird woman” ancestor cults are still found among many commoners in Dara Happa.

I don’t have much commentary to give here (and maybe some of you will appreciate that!) so I’m mostly just copy/pasting what Jeff says… but I’m thinking of the Egyptian deity Bennu (also a heron “life and death” kinda guy), which may or may not have been the original for the legendary resurrecting phoenix. So I guess Darjiin is the place for this kind of nonsense!

The metropolis of Alkoth is at the edge of the Henjarl Marsh. The wetlands around the city are dedicated to rice cultivation, and Biselenslib is the ancestral goddess. Alkoth itself is a very Dara Happan city – with arguably more of an independent identity than even Raibanth and Yuthuppa. It is also an important Lunar centre.

Alkoth is about 225 kilometres downriver from Mirin’s Cross, which is the cultural centre of Saird. Alkoth’s large agricultural surplus (rice, fish, and pork) enables it to maintain a large population – which of course allows it to have plenty of specialists – scribes, potters, red-smiths, merchants, as well as nobles and soldiers.

I’ve always wanted to play in a Lunar campaign for this kind of stuff: more big cities than in Sartar or the Holy Country, more varied country side, and nothing more than a couple of paragraphs in the Guide to Glorantha, which gives you license for creative world-building. Or at least, that’s what it looks like to me as someone who hasn’t looked at this part of Genertela too closely…

During the Third Wane, Alkothi river pirates roamed up and down the Oslira River as far as the Thunder Delta. They robbed other travellers on the river, stealing goods, raiding villages and villas, and taking hostages. These river boats would have been small and easily ported.

My mind usually goes to “spy thriller movie” when I think of the Lunar Empire with its many cities and political factions, but organized crime sounds fun too… (and frankly, both are often intertwined). I love the river pirate career in Warhamer Fantasy Roleplay, so I’m pretty sure I’d love being one in Glorantha too!

Jeff tells us more about Alkoth, actually:

Alkoth is a standard Dara Happan city that also happens to be an entrance to the Underworld, and is a city of the dead. That is less of a contradiction than it might seem!

Oh my, this place is becoming quite interesting, eh? The city’s patron god is Shargash, the “Death God of the Celestial Pantheon (Death and Fire)“. That’s where the city’s connection to the Underworld lies, along with its connection to Yelm’s “dead” aspect. I don’t know much about this Shargash guy, but he apparently wields a big mace and… (checks notes) destroyed the world? Oooh. Swell. I know where my next vacation is.

That Underworld connection is going to mean that there are ghosts and other underworld things whenever the barriers between the mundane world and the divine realm is weak – temples, holy days, astronomical conjunctions, etc. Most of that activity is concentrated around the high-walled enclosures where the dead are burned – these temples are decorated with the heads and skulls of the slain, a grim and grisly reminder of the city god’s power.

Jeff even gives us a “mood picture” that is, surprisingly enough, taken from some Aztec warfare document (the Tovar Codex). I guess the ancient Central American civilizations are always a good starting point when you want a good Death God.

Public domain picture

The city collects taxes from the surrounding Henjarli villages, who support the urban population with their large agricultural surplus.

Compared to Darjin, Henjarl is more “civilised”- canals crisscross the marshlands and contain the waters, making rice cultivation easier. Perhaps that is a direct analogy to Shargash abandoning Biselenslib for Oslira and her irrigation canals!

The Shargash cult controls the city’s militia, and their Rune Masters are called “Hell Men” (how cool is that?!). As with the Orlanthi society, most members of the militia are farmers and tradesmen who get mustered in times of need.

©1997 Neil Robinson and Chaosium Inc.

There is more about Alkoth and the cult of Shargash in the old fanzine Enclosure 1, published in 1997.

Shannon Appelcline Scenario Choice for RPG-a-Day

It’s this time of the year again: the #RPGaDay hashtag is making the rounds, with every day being an invitation to share something about your gaming habits. Shannon Appelcline, well known Aldryami expert and the hobby’s foremost historian (also available here if you want to support us through affiliate links), has shared his take on the first day’s prompt, “SCENARIO”. He mentions five scenarios, on for each year between 1976 and 1980. His pick for 1978 isn’t “Tomb of Horror”, which he considers was representative of a fading adventuring style, and instead picks “Apple Lane”:

Instead, I suggest Apple Lane, for Chaosium’s RuneQuest game (1978). A year before TSR published Village of Hommlet (1979), Greg Stafford revealed a village from his own campaign, filled with NPCs to interact with: NPCs who even had names. Add in a unique adventure for the time, where the players have to defend a pawnshop from attack, and you have a milestone in the industry. (There are caves to explore too, but there’s also some extra depth here, with a few different storylines intertwining in the caverns.)

Apple Lane is available in softcover Print-on-Demand from Chaosium.

Beer With Teeth’s RPG-A-Day

For more RPG-A-Day goodness, head over to the Beer With Teeth blog, written by the fine people who produce equally fine Jonstown Compendium supplements.

©2021 Beer With Teeth

I frankly have had time to read only a couple entries yet, but I got a chuckle and a nod from Day 8: Stream… not only because that was a masterful hijacking of what I think the original intent of the prompt was, but also because I totally agree with the author’s (whoever that is… there’s sadly no attribution) statement about Gloranthan naming. There’s a lot less pressure on the Gamemaster or amateur writer to come up with cool names when the canon setting contains things like “Creek-Stream River” and “Day’s Rest” and even “Corflu”. I’m especially bad with names. But don’t worry, I can still feel totally inadequate about my world-building when I look at my NPCs, myths, and backstories!

50 Years of Text Games on King of Dragon Pass

The blog “50 Years of Text Games“, which takes deep dives into the most famous text-based video games, wrote a lengthy article on King of Dragon Pass, the strategy game based in Genertela’s early Third Age.

© 2021 A Sharp

The opening paragraphs are already quite impressive:

It’s “the best game you’ve never played.” It’s “one of the best video games ever made… I’ve never played a video game with a deeper and more engaging world and story.” It’s “timeless… There is nothing like it in the world: a game with a smoothly telescopic scale that alternates seamlessly between fantasy empire-builder and character-driven RPG.” It’s “a tough game to describe… part text adventure, part civilization game, and part choose your own adventure book… it feels like a book come to life.” It’s “an original game design, something all too rare in this world of big-budget clones.” It has “a more convincing illusion of conflict and consequence than anything I’ve played.” It’s “just so different than any other game… it flows like a novel, but one you have a hand in writing… you can play over and over again.” It’s “amazing,” it’s “basically peerless,” it’s “outstanding,” it’s “exceptional.” It is, one reviewer declared, “the game you’ve been waiting for.”

And when it was first released to retail, it bombed.

…but the rest of the article will go deeper than any other article I’ve read on this game.

© 2021 A Sharp

You can still get King of Dragon Pass from many online game stores — I personally recommend playing it on a tablet, because it’s quite nice to play a few turns when you’re taking the subway or something. Its “spiritual successor”, Six Ages: Ride Like The Wind, was released in 2018. A sequel to Six Ages is currently in development.

What Happened to Tradetalk Magazine?

Tradetalk is a magazine that was published by the German “RuneQuest Society”, aka “RuneQuest Gesellschaft e.V.”, aka “The Chaos Society”. It ran for 17 issues between 1996 and 2009, and it kept the flame of Gloranthan gaming alive in the late 90s along with several other fanzines such as Tales of the Reaching Moon.

© 2021 RuneQuest Gesellschaft e.V. and Chaosium Inc, montage by Shannon Appelcline

Over on BRP, Andre Jarosch gives us some behind-the-scenes information about why the publication stopped:

2005 was the year in which all fan publications were asked to stop, until a new fan policy was published. So Tradetalk 14 in may 2014 was the last one published before that.

Tradetalk got the okay from Issaries Inc./Greg without any problems, and we continued with Tradetalk 15 in 2007, but we only managed to publish one issue per year.

In 2009 our last issue was Tradetalk 17.

Why we stopped publishing Tradetalk?

Many reasons:

– We, the publishers, were almost never the authors of the articles and adventures, but relied on fan authors to send us material to publish, or sometimes we asked our buddies if they would write something for us. 
– We at Tradetalk were not really interested in writing Second Age fan stuff for Mongoose RQ
– Some of the old RQ fans haven´t made the transition to HeroQuest… and wouldn´t/couldn´t write for Tradetalk anymore. 
– Since HeroQuest is less crunchy, we needed MORE text to fill an issue with content (a RQ adventure with three NPCs and four Broo was made up of 3 to 4 pages of stats!.. in HeroQuest these many stats were not needed, so we needed more content to get Tradetalk to the size we needed to fill the 48 pages). 
– We wanted to make theme issues, and not only a complation of various articles… That is why it took so long (to long) to get the next issue ready. 
– Many other fanzines were around (Hearts in Glorantha, The Zin Letters, and Rule One) in which potential Tradetalk authors could publish they stuff
– Some of the fans moved on to write for Issaries/Moon Designs official line of HeroQuest books, and had no time for writing for Tradetalk 
– Some of the stuff we asked to publish took to long to get published, and the authors changed their minds (because they were assocciated (sic) with official publishers, and don´t wanted to get their “fan stuff” published, because it could be viewed as canon if the author was part of the official publishing house*).
*NOTE: The author(s) never said it so explicitly, but i read that between the lines… maybe i am wrong about this.

Maybe, at some point, we will publish something on the JC and call it Tradetalk 18… but it will not be like the Tradetalk 18 that was planned in 2009. 

Tradetalk is still available in PDF from DriveThruRPG. You can also find an index of the issues on the Well of Daliath, and a more detailed index on Shannon Appelcline’s fanzine index project.

That’s a Big Map

Those of us who have the Argan Argar Atlas map pack know that when you put them all together, you get a really big map. I took a picture of my own set a couple years ago, with a banana for scale.

Picture by Ludovic Chabant

On Twitter, Dr Moose shows off a wall-mounted version of the map. Looks nice, although now he’ll have to do some heavy renovations to straighten up that ceiling!

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.

Meet Jackie, The Real Melo Yelo

The Mysterious Universe website has a story on a baboon war hero… in case, you know, you needed inspiration for your Praxian Adventurers or their sidekicks!

The short version is as follows: Albert Marr found an abandoned baboon on his family farm in South Africa in 1913, and decided to adopt it. It proved uncharacteristically tame and easy to domesticate, and they became inseparable. In 1915, when Marr enlisted in the South African Infrantry Regiment, he was allowed to bring his pet, which was quickly adopted as a sort of mascot by the soldiers… but, the baboon had a much more glorious future in mind…

Go Big Or Go Home

Don’t hesitate to make your great and major temples big! Check out the Great Temple of RamessesII in Abu Simbel:

Picture by Onder Kokturk

Mozaik Education has some digital reconstructions of it, if you want to picture what it might have looked like with some fresh paint on it:

© 2021 Mozaik Education

La Porte d’Ishtar

If you speak French (I know there’s a big RuneQuest and HeroQuest community in my home country!), or, well… if you want a fun way to learn French, I guess… the ancient world RPG “La Porte d’Ishtar” (“Ishtar’s Gate”) has been successfully crowdfunded. If you missed the crowdfunding, you can pre-order it, too.

© 2021 La Loutre Roliste
© 2021 La Loutre Roliste

The game’s description, butchered by some hasty translation, reads:

Ishtar’s Gate is a tabletop roleplaying game that lets you live perilous adventures in the world of Kishar, an ancient post-sumerian setting that takes inspiration from the great Sword & Sorcery stories. The core book is 384 pages long, with 80 pages of rules and the rest dedicated the world of Kishar.

© 2021 La Loutre Roliste

Thank you for reading

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

Unusually, this document doesn’t give any clues about its author or date or place of origin. It is written on a type of paper that was introduced to the Middle Sea Empire by the Kralorelan venture some time in Emperor Svalak’s reign – a woven mat of flattened reeds as reinforcement for the pulp of soft woods and scraps of linen deposited on it. The paper has aged quite a bit, its reddish brown approaching the tone of the ink, but the ink still reflects brightly at a certain angle to the source of illumination, quite a bit of which is needed to decipher the lettering.

A few Reconstruction spells have been attempted, and one of those gave us a glimpse at a reader – a dust-covered Zzabur-caste person holding it up amidst broken walls, then rolling it up and pushing it into the somewhat frayed sleeves of his robe. There was no indication of moon glow in the impression, but that may have been due to a Dying or Dead phase just as well as an indication that the reader held the scroll before the rise of the moon.

For all we know, that individual could have been the author, or the copyist of this scroll.

The fabric of Godtime wraps itself in a layer of spirals around its central Axis Mundi, the immutable Spike, and the myths we know and that we can explore create linear paths across this fabric, converging on events that pierce those surfaces, drawing everything close to that near the singularity of that event1.

Such singularities are static, unchanging – our colleagues at Robcradle in Genert’s Wastes have observed the singularity of the Eternal Battle, a rare case of a moving rather than a multi-local such approach to a singularity. They are alike to the One World of Runes, but not exactly co-planar to that concept, and our perception of such pivotal singularities may be similar to our perception of the Cosmic Mountain itself2.

Our Monomyth manages to map intersecting paths of myth onto discrete layers of Godtime, which we discern as different Hero Planes. Our colleagues collecting that Monomyth have identified a Green Age, something like a hyper-surface in myth which leads to a “time before”, a state of innocence. Yet all of our modeling agrees upon the first and second applications of Death – on Grandfather Mortal, as people are addressing our ancestor Malkion, and on the Evil Emperor which the evil empire of Gbaji identified with Yelm, as enough of a pivotal First Time that it changes the separation of body and intellect in an unprecedented way.

There are mythic paths which include a departure from Green Age Innocence entering a later Age – often the Golden Age, but Death specifically entering the Lesser Darkness cycle. Rather than defining the departure from the Green Age as the coming of the Golden Age, it may be more useful to think of these departures as Green Age Moments, as manifesting the singularity of such pivots. There may be earlier paths approaching such moments but not piercing that membrane, leading to a lesser premonition of the actual event, and there usually are many later paths which reinforce the primary transitional event, forcing those who travel that path to undergo the experience again.

There is a special potency in undergoing the primal, pivotal event, though. Exiting the pre-Golden Age through a Green Age Moment will imbue the quester with the special mark of the First Event, greatly magnifying the magic that can be drawn from the experience. This is fraught with consequences, though, as any subsequent approach of a path to this singularity, however carefully and distant, will pull the quester into that event with the full opposition of that original event, and added to that any future opposition out dealing with the consequences of that event.

A number of severe backlashes on expeditions have led some universities to retire heroquesters who have undergone such an event, limiting them to writing about that experience and giving the writings to other researchers to derive spells from that.

  1. The Spike, or after its implosion the empty Void left behind in its place – while desperate sailors may have looked across it, seeing the opposite side of the Maelstrom rising higher and higher above them, no mortal or deity has ever claimed to enter the former volume of the Spike.
  2. Which might indicate a good chance that further research into this perception will grant new insights leading to even greater applications of accessing mythical powers through carefully calibrated sorcery.