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

This is issue number 52 which means I’ve been going at it for a year now! The newsletter is happening once again on Monday because this week-end was actually extraordinarily busy for me… various other hobbies and family duties took precedence, but also I released a new adventure on the Jonstown Compendium! (more below)

God Learner Sorcery

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

Bog Struggles is Out!

© 2022 BOLT80 & Chaosium Inc.

My new RuneQuest adventure is up on the Jonstown compendium! Help some newtlings fight off a horrible threat and join a water cult! It’s called “Bog Struggles” and you can get it here, or read a bit more here. Note that my previous adventure, “A Short Detour“, is currently on sale to celebrate the occasion!

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!

Velhara’s Mirror

© 2022 Michael Paul O’Sullivan & Chaosium Inc.

Michael Paul O’Sullivan has released a new entry in the “Beast Valley campaign” started with The Ruins of Bonn Kanach. The author says that despite this, Velhara’s Mirror can still used as a stand alone resource. It contains scenario seeds and one full adventure.

Update for Hsunchen of the East

© 2022 Paul Baker & Chaosium Inc.

Paul Baker has updated Hsunchen of the East again:

– The Damali (Fallow Deer) now added to the Hsa (Tiger), Lo Fak (Yak), and Pujaleg (Bat) people.
– Plan to add one more group in the next couple of months.
– Rules for generating characters, background on the hsunchen from an eastern perspecive, aswell as cults and myths/history.

Video Trailer for Pirates of the East Isles

Scott Crowder has posted a video trailer for his upcoming book on the Pirates of the East Isles!

Disclaimer: some of those drawings are mine!

Teaser for the Children of Hykim

Brian Duguid is making progress on The Children of Hykim, and shared these wonderful work-in-progress art pieces by Kristi Jones:

Art by Kristi Jones © 2022 Brian Duguid & Chaosium Inc.

The book will describe in detail more than twenty of the totem animal (Hsunchen) tribes found in central and western Genertela. It will have rules for creating a Hsunchen adventurer, ideas for scenarios and campaigns, even some thoughts on Hsunchen heroquesting.

Art by Kristi Jones © 2022 Brian Duguid & Chaosium Inc.

There will be quite a lot of information on Hsunchen magic, technology, culture – even economics i.e. trade relationships. I’m delighted that Diana Probst and Kristi Jones are both contributing art for the book, and I’m aiming for the artwork to address “ordinary” life as much as possible.As a taster, here are a couple of work-in-progress images from Kris showing a Rathori (bear-folk) family group fishing together in the midsummer; and a Hogari (mammoth-folk) group outside one of their mammoth-bone huts.

I’m very interested in this one.

Hill of Gold Art Preview

Simon Bray has done these wonderful “plates” for Simon Phipp’s upcoming Hill of Gold heroquesting book.

Jeff’s Notes

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

More about the EWF

As a complement to last week’s note on Dragon Pass in the Second Age, Jeff posted a “quick sketch showing the core areas of the EWF”.

This would have been the most civilised and most developed areas of the EWF.

We could also expect now to find the most EWF era ruins in these areas. Note that Upland Marsh was at the very center of the EWF.

So it is worth keeping in mind that many of the core areas of the EWF are still largely abandoned. Bonn Karpatch, Voss Varaina, Olorost, Orin Jistel, Salor,Bon Bolar, Intarn – all of these are now pretty much outside of settled areas. The ruins of the EWF are viewed as haunted and cursed.

A nice hint when you’re wondering where to put haunted draconic ruins…

Dragon Pass at the Dawn

The Guide to Glorantha already has a map of Dragon Pass at the Dawn, but I love seeing the originals from the Chaosium archives:

At the Dawn, Dragon Pass was one of the strongholds of mortal beings. Thanks to I Fought, We Won and the Unity Council, it was one of the main population centers of Genertela. But in truth, that is only in comparison with everywhere else. Let’s look at the numbers.

At the Dawn, there were about 55,000 mortals that participated in the Unity Council. Of those, 16,000 were trolls, 16,000 were dwarves, 5000 were dragonewts, and 13,000 were humans.

Only 13,000 humans! As Jeff puts it, “one way of putting this in context, is that the entire human population of Dragon Pass at the Dawn was smaller than the population of the Colymar Tribe.

A century or so later, right before the foundation of the Second Council, the population has grown to about 125,000, but by then the human numbers had grown to 75,000.

Of course, it is worth comparing that with the current population of the old Unity Council lands – which is over 2.6 million!

On the Origins of Tarsh

Here is a lengthy transcribed email about the origins of Tarsh. Here’s what I found interesting:

  • During the Second Age, the common folk worshipped Orlanth (including the Rex sub-cult) while the “savage but heroic” rules worshipped Yelm, which meant many religious rites highlighting the Orlanth/Yelm rivalry. This weird religious tradition was born from centuries of interaction with Dara Happa, along with a good dose of God Learner syncretism.
  • After the Dragonkill War, when all humans were wiped out in Dragon Pass, the Orlanthi culture was split between those of southeastern Peloria and those of the Holy Country. Meanwhile, Dara Happan (and the basis of the Yelm cult) gets defeated by the Carmanians. Yelmalio survives as the Sun God (because that’s what Yelmalio does) although his martial role gets some competition from Shargarsh in some places like Alkoth.
  • While Dragon Pass is closed, the Orlanthi of future-Tarsh are effectively in a dead-end, geographically speaking. “I imagine they sell grain and livestock to the lowlands, plus other raw materials.”

Then it gets even more interesting:

They also fight in the lowlanders wars. Many Orlanthi fought for and against the Red Goddess. And when Dara Happa revolted against the Red Emperor, an Orlanthi leader, Jannisor, brought an army of Orlanthi and other barbarians to sack Glamour. This was a very near run thing for the Lunar Empire, and after the revolt is finally defeated in 1285, the Red Emperor sends his Conquering Daughter to secure the south.

In about 40 years, she conquers Syllila, Vanch, Saird, and Imther. The Kynnelfing Alliance – the main Orlanthi tribal confederation – is defeated and the Daughter’s Road goes within 30 mile of the Deathline. Many Orlanthi flee Syllila, Saird, and Vanch and settle in Dragon Pass – especially those that were on the frontline against the Lunar Empire in the Dara Happan Revolt or against the Conquering Daughter.

At that point, people still think Dragon Pass is closed to humans, but the Conquering Daughter makes people desperate. That’s when some Orlanthi led by Arim the Pauper cross the line, realize it’s actually OK, and later found the Kingdom of Tarsh there.

Now already by 1350, I can see some big differences with these Orlanthi and those of the Holy Country. Yelmalio is already in their pantheon, and they know Yelm well (and have been ruled by him on many occasions, and not always badly). But Orlanth Rex is the king of the gods, and has the ability to impose his authority over the feuding clans. They have centuries of contact with Dara Happa. And they know the Lunar Empire. They were there when Jannisor shattered the gates of Glamour and when the Antelope People betrayed him. They saw the Moonburn. And witnessed the Conquering Daughter in action.

When the Lunar march south into Tarsh the first time, they get routed by the Tarshites who have “ancient powers of Dragon Pass” and can call upon Maran Gor. The Lunar retreat and soon they have bigger problems to deal with (that’s Sheng Seleris).

The Kingdom of Tarsh likely began as a confederation of tribes under the suzerainty of the Tarsh Tribe. The Danbalings of Kordros Island, the Barnteri between the Oslir and the Black Eel, the Alda-Chur of Far Point, and the Karvenings around Slavewall, all were ruled by the Tarsh Tribe, which extended from the Falling Hills to Kero Fin. The Uiteros and Quivini tribal groups were rebellious tributaries. The Grazelanders are initially close allies, and later enemies after the Tarsh King steals their sacred horses to create his own cavalry force loyal to him (the origins of the Pol-Joni). The Praxians and trolls are sometimes hired as mercenaries.

So taking a snapshot, around 1450, the Tarshites are a powerful barbarian kingdom. They dominate Dragon Pass, but I do not think they are particularly rich. There isn’t that much trade between the Holy Country and Peloria – Sheng Seleris is too disruptive for that. The Tarshites are recognizably Orlanthi, although some lowlander cults are likely well-known – Oslira, Yelm, Lodril, maybe even Dendara (although Ernalda is the main goddess). The Earth cults are VERY important, and Maran Gor and Babeester Gor are an important part of the kingdom’s strength, but also demand human sacrifice. But they also have Orlanth Rex, Humakt, and the other Lightbringers. Storm Bull, Eiritha, and Waha are not significant, while the conflict between Orlanth and Yelm gets played out in war with Pentans and Pure Horse People (as well as Dara Happans).

This is of particular interest to me because this gives a good trajectory for Tarshite culture, from which I can extrapolate a bit more while working on the Far Place (Alda-chur and Alone). This part of Dragon Pass is populated by originally Tarshite people, and I’d like it to feel different from Sartar.

And best of all, Jeff shared another set of historical maps, like this one below!

Turns out there are from the GregAnth Atlas, and there’s a bit of additional commentary at the bottom… so check that out!

More about Jar-Eel

We already had a look at Jar-Eel in past issues of the Journal (here and here), but let’s look again.

So people love to worry about Harrek the Berserk or complain about Argrath being a warlord, but one of the most important Heroes in the Hero Wars is Jar-eel the Razoress.

Going back to one of those earlier looks (the second link, to be exact), Jeff had detailed Jar-eel’s “unconscious life”:

Remember Jar-eel is similar to Harrek, not Argrath.

– Personal Power 50%
– Bloodspillers 20%
– Dream 10%
– Undifferentiated 10%
– Red Goddess 10%

Despite – or perhaps because of – being widely worshiped in the Lunar Empire as the incarnation of the Red Goddess, Jar-eel’s mana primarily goes to her own personal aggrandisement, and another 20% goes to her Sardukar Guard. Sure she defends the Lunar Empire, but at least in part because it is a resource that enables her to do great things, but HER great things are the ultimate purpose of the empire, not vice versa.

Thinking of Jar-eel in this manner helps make her tick for me. She’s already proven her independence and autonomy from both the Red Emperor and the Red Goddess – you better accommodate her desires, because you are not going to stop her.

At least not unless you have your own superhero on your side.

There’s more about these last two paragraphs in the next segment, but in the meantime, Jeff adds:

I do not know specifically when she proved that she was not overwhelmed by the Red Goddess, but I suspect it was between 1602 and 1610, when she was in her late teens.

Remember, Jar-eel was already a Red Goddess Initiate at age 8(!).

Becoming a Superhero

The previous bit about Jar-eel’s power and “independence and autonomy from both the Red Emperor and the Red Goddess” gets clarified when Jeff explains how to become a Gloranthan superhero:

Greg speculated that to become a Hero, one needed to:

1. Participate in at least two “great events” – heroquests outside of those known by cult or tradition. This would include cult heroquests that go outside of known paths.

2. Have at least four special items or abilities

3. Have at least one unique item or ability

And finally:

4. a final test against one’s own god where the Hero proves their independence.

I’m inclined to think that these more or less define our Gloranthan Heroes, although of course there going to be exceptionns. But Jar-eel, Harrek, Argrath, Jaldon, Gunda, Beat-Pot, Ethilrist, etc., all fit into this system nicely.

Note the importance of the Hero being independent from one’s god. Even those heroes who are revered as avatars of their god – e.g.,Harmast, Alakoring, Argrath, Hon-eel, Jar-eel, etc., proved their independence to their deity!

Don’t forget Arkat, too:

Heck [Arkat] proved his independence from at least FOUR deities!

All the heroquesting and heroic feats required to become a hero or superhero can’t be achieved by being a murder hobo, though. Jeff says that “you are unlikely to get very far without community support.” If the upcoming heroquesting rules are tuned correctly, you’ll need this community support to succeed at more than a couple heroquesting challenges… fingers crossed!

Map Scales

If you know me, you know that early in my Gloranthan studies I got confused by the various maps with different scales throughout Glorantha’s publishing history. Jeff has put his foot down and confirmed what the “real” scale is:

The map scale has always been one Dragon Pass hex is 5 miles or about 8 km. That’s the absolute scale. 

That is the scale for the map in the Starter Set, the maps the Guide to Glorantha, etc.

About Garrath Sharpsword

A question about Garrath Sharpsword got Jeff to share some details about this elusive NPC.

First, a bit of background. Garrath Sharpsword appears in the classic Pavis: Threshold to Danger boxed set (now available in PDF and POD). He’s a Wind Lord who fled Sartar and spent some time with both the Praxian nomads and the Wolf Pirates, and he gets heavily involved in the “Giant’s cradle” incident. If that sounds a lot like Argrath, and if you realize that Garrath is an anagram of Argrath, then you can easily subscribe to the theory that Garrath is Argrath himself and that he changed his name at some point, either as a case of superhero-style hidden identity, or as a classic case of ancient leaders changing names to sound more important (we’re told in some places that “Argrath” means “Liberator” or something).

In the HeroQuest era, several books (like Pavis: Gateway to Adventure) chose to follow the “multiple Argraths” theory, where the identity of Argrath is up to the gamemaster and players (so that a PC could be the Argrath). This also meant that all the accomplishments attributed to “Argrath” in the “canon” could actually be distributed among both PCs and NPCs if necessary. This also gave the setting a little flair of real-world history, where composite historical figures are not uncommon.

Of course, it’s arguably simpler to just tell people that they can play along an alternate history of the setting where Argrath is just someone else who does other things, rather than tell ask gamemasters and players to engage in some sort of world-building puzzle challenge where the goal is to fit all the pieces. So the latest RuneQuest product line won’t revive this “multiple Argraths” thing and will just flatly present who Argrath is and what he did, and then people can do whatever they want with the information. In this version, Garrath is Argrath… which shouldn’t be surprising if you’ve read Prince of Sartar.

Hopefully this long-winded introduction was welcome for the few newbies in the back.

So if you imagine Garrath Sharpsword circa 1621 – he’s very skilled at sword, shield, riding, spear, dagger, and thrown dagger. He is lean and wiry man, very charismatic, with the sort of quiet self-confidence only a person who has lost everything and then rebuilt himself up is able to have. He easily passed the test of the Weaponsmasters Guild, which gave him the right to have an independent school, wear his arms openly, and a degree of freedom despite being openly a Wind Lord of Orlanth Adventurous. He is fluent in Praxian (as well as Sartarite) and has many Praxian friends – mainly Bison Riders and High Llamas, but some Sable Riders and Impala Riders as well. He’s more comfortable in the company of his students, Praxian shamans, or adventurers than he is with the Garhound clan leaders or city leaders, and stays out of city and temple politics.

The Garhound are an influential family of Sartarite expats in Pavis.

Gim Gim the Grim is thought to consider him one of the Orlanth Allies, and the Moon Masks keep an eye on him, but given that he heads a recognized weapons school, they avoid harassing him or his students too much. Gim Gim keeps Krogar Wolfhelm and Govoran the Magnificent (who of course has his own mercenary band) under far more scrutiny.

Gim Gim (often spelled Gimgim in old material) is a Lunar spy who manages the Emperor’s intelligence network in Prax.

The Moon Masks are one of the many gangs of Pavis, but those are affiliated (unofficially, as I understand it) with the Lunars. You can bet Gim Gim occasionally hires them without them even knowing where the contract comes from.

The Orlanth Allies is another gang, mostly composed of disgruntled Orlanth worshippers (remember that in 1621, the Orlanth cult is still somewhat suppressed by the Lunars).

You can stat that guy up if you want, but you need to keep a few secrets, like his Dragontooth Necklace, his powerful allied spirit, his connection with the White Bull spirit, and several other boons and gifts gained from heroquesting, hidden from view. But in a Lunar game, Krogar Wolfhelm or Jarang Bladesong are much more likely to cause trouble than the “weapon master Garrath Sharpsword”. And when he does reveal himself, it is as per the Cradle scenario and then he is gone for years.

And when he returns, it is with an army of Praxians.

Yep, that’s Argrath alright. As for the other named NPCs here, Krogar Wolfhelm and Jarang Bladesong are other Wind Lords living in Pavis around the same time.

Miscellaneous Notes

Here some other miscellaneous notes that were posted last week, and which I don’t have time to annotate:

  • Speaking of Garrath Sharpsword and Orlanth cult suppression, here’s a note about how he and his friend setup a clandestine shrine in the Big Rubble.
  • And while we’re at it, here’s a note on Orlanth Victorious, basically a “fully integrated Orlanth” cult that combines Adventurous, Thunderous, and Rex. It’s supposedly dangerous because you get sucked into Lightbringers Quest territory pretty easily when you heroquest. Jeff added in a comment that this is very dangerous, for a powerful myth attracts powerful threats, and when Argrath was getting started he didn’t have much community support (it was just a shrine!)
  • Jeff seems happy that Dragon Pass and most important places in Genertela are rather small. While I actually think Genertela is a bit too small, Jeff’s dig towards Westeros is probably fair since apparently the author said it was the size of South America!
  • Why do traders travel along roads and not rivers through Sartar? Well, it’s mostly impractical.
  • What is magic? Apparently it’s not just a collectible card game that should have stopped a long time ago. Here are some general ideas on Gloranthan magic.

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.

Custom Mistress Race Troll Miniatures

Paul Lidyard has these really good looking custom-made Mistress Race Troll miniatures!

My brother made this for my birthday last year, just got round to putting it in a mould. Not sure if it will get released but I thought I would share some pictures here. Mistress Race Troll with scimitar, Mistress Race Troll with mace and a “wristless mace troll”. Cue the bad troll puns.

Bad troll puns… bad troll puns… OK, how about this one:

  • Did you know that the trolls also have a famous indie, alt-rock, hat-wearing musician? But he’s named Stan?
  • Yep. The Uz Beck is Stan.

Mobile Shrines

Diana has some advice for adding mobile shrines to your game:

As pointed out by Skull Dixon, in the SoloQuest there are some mobile shrines – there are places set up to worship before the big battle. There’s a Vingan shrine, and a Humakti one, and there are also people worshipping their Ancestors in the river. These are not permanent resources, and in the case of the Ancestor worship may not be a resource at all.

[…]

But what are these shrines. If you want to have rules for them, how do we think they’ll work?

Read about it here, it has some good ideas!

More Felix Figure Painting Photos

Regular Gloranthan miniature painter (and by which I mean that they paint Gloranthan miniature, not that they are a very small person who paints Gloranthan landscapes or something) Felix Figure Painting has another wonderful picture:

Some Glorantha Trolls/Trollkin by Mad Knight and 3 Infinity Engine Rubble Runners for a commission.

More close-up pictures here.

Snakepipe Hollow Walkthrough (Part 3)

DC has uploaded part 3 of the Snakepipe Hollow walkthrough in 3D. Still as claustrophobic as ever…

Boldhome in 3D (WIP)

Speaking of DC, their next project is modeling Boldhome:

I’ve been working on a little side project, turning the Boldhome map in to an actual landscape, here are a couple of screen shots. In the first one, I’m using the map as a guide for features, in the second one it’s a landscape material that changes based on height and slope steepness. I will be adding the waterways, roads and trees, but I’m not sure if I’ll go much further than that.

Thank you for reading

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

Hey, Ludovic here. I released a new RuneQuest adventure on the Jonstown Compendium! Help some newtlings fight off a horrible threat and join a water cult! It’s called “Bog Struggles“, it’s only $3, and it’s fun! Here’s another look inside:

To celebrate the release, my previous RuneQuest adventure, A Short Detour (which I just realized is now Silver best seller, thank you very much) is on sale at almost 30% off! Get it here!

It’s tricky to show pages of that adventure without giving some spoilers, but here’s something:

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

Last week was quite busy for a whole bunch of reasons (including some that are God Learners related), so the newsletter has less material than the week warranted. C’est la vie! In this era of hyper-connectivity we are supposed to learn living with FOMO, aren’t we?

God Learner Sorcery

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

Episode 12: People of Glorantha: The Aldryami

We released episode 12 of our podcast! We welcomed Shannon Appelcline, author of Designers & Dragons (among many other fine books) and expert on the Aldryami, the elves of Glorantha. We talk about their culture, religion, myths, psychology, and all the other material we’ll find in the upcoming “Elfpak” sourcebook!

Chaos is an Ecosystem

This week I wrote an article about how I’m approaching Chaos in terms of world-building and narrative hooks:

Why do some Heortlings get involved with Chaos when they know it’s really really bad?

Short answer (in my opinion of course): people are flawed, and Chaos is hidden under multiple layers that permeate through the edges of Heortling society.

Be sure to stick around for the addendum at the bottom of the article, since I might have not explained myself well enough in the main text…

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Three Weirdest Things in Glorantha

James Coquillat asks Jeff Richard what are (in his opinion) the three weirdest things in Glorantha. Jeff picks the Maidstone Archers (I love how James immediately asks about actually bringing these things into a game!), the Ducks (bonus points to Jeff for mentioning Donjon!), and the floating island Kylerela (which I don’t know anything about except that it’s a token in the Petersen Games’ Gods War board game).

Product Guide for RuneQuest

Jeff runs through the products of the RuneQuest line, explaining which ones you should get and in what order. I’m sure most of this newsletter’s readers have bought them all, but this is a good video for your friends, or for figuring out what to gift.

Warehouse Clearance Sale

It’s that time of the year, and you can save a bit of money ordering some RuneQuest Classic books, maps of Glorantha, and more. Before ordering, make sure to check which warehouse has what, and which warehouse ships to you.

Sad Spanish RuneQuest News

If we are to trust random people posting on forums (and why not? Professional journalists even do it these days), it looks like the Spanish edition of RuneQuest won’t get its Glorantha Bestiary translation. It currently has the rulebook and Gamemaster Screen Pack, but sales numbers are not good enough for the editor, EDGE Entertainment, to continue with other books.

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 Life Thief

© 2022 Beer With Teeth & Chaosium Inc.

Diana Probst released The Life Thief, with art by Kirsti Herbert, which means that at least half of Beer With Teeth was directly involved in this thing. This adventure deals with the Dead Place, shamans, and ugly growing things that shouldn’t be growing.

The authors say that it works well after Gifts of Prax. It’s optional of course but if you want to be Diana’s favourite person, you might as well do what she says.

Jonstown Area Map

© 2022 Mikael Mansen & Chaosium Inc.

Mikael Mansen is still mapping Glorantha! His latest release focuses on the RuneQuest Starter Set area of Jonstown.

Sneak Peek at the East Isles Pirates

Scott Crowder has revealed the cover of his upcoming “Pirates of the East Isles” book!

© 2022 Scott Crowder & Chaosium Inc.

With proofreading finished and layout almost complete, I’m hoping to have this out in time for Father’s Day. You know deep down every dad’s a pirate!

Disclaimer: I did some art for Scott on this book, including the cover itself.

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.

Phalanxes in the Yelmalio Cult

Jeff has a “shocking fact” about Yelmalio cult:

the Yelmalio cult did not always fight in phalanxes, let alone in pike formations. At times they have been better known for being horsemen or even charioteers! Starting in the late First Age the Sun Dome Temples became increasingly known for their disciplined spear formations. By the Second Age, the Sun Dome Templars had recognized that discipline plus their long spears gave them a tremendous advantage even against more powerful war gods.

In Prax, the Yelmalio cult was invited in by the Yelm worshipping Pure Horse People, who recruited the Sun Dome Templars to fight against Thog and his allied dark trolls. That’s the Yelm connection in Sun County by the way – a nearly forgotten connection to the Khan of the Horse People, their suzerain.

Often I’m getting lost with all the different Yelmalio cult timelines, between those who are on horses and those who are on foot and those who fight here or there. Someone will have to make a diagram some day…

Edit: now archived on the Well of Daliath here.

A Few Notes on Terminology

Jeff talks about the terminology he uses:

I rarely use the word “Heortling” to describe the Orlanthi of Sartar and Heortland, prefering “Sartarite,” “Heortlander,” or even just “Orlanthi.” When I get manuscripts with the term, I usually edit it to one of the above – unless the term is referring to the people of Dragon Pass and surrounding lands the First Age or early Second Age.

The reason for this is that the culture – its organization, language, even cultic practices, so dramatically changed that it is quite an anachronism to call them “Heortlings”. Most Sartarites call themselves “Sartarites”, while the Heortlanders often call themselves Heortlanders or Hendriki.

Even if you ignore the cultural and historical reasons, I’m all for making terms easier to understand and grasp, especially for newbies. The people of Sartar are Sartarites, and the people of Heortland are Heortlanders… that’s good, right?

In the First Age, the people of Dragon Pass called themselves the “people of Heort” or Heortlings. This lasted a bit into the Second Age, but when the old tribes disappeared, the old institutions were gone, and folk started to talk with dragons, I expect that changed. Only Lhankor Mhy scholars likely still do that, like the use of the Latin title “Dei Gratia Suecorum, Gothorum et Vandalorum Rex” by the early modern Swedish kings.

More on that here. And by the way, Jeff pronounces “Heortling” as “Hee-yort-ling”.

In between the First Age and the Third was the Empire of the Wyrms Friends. The Dragon Pass Orlanthi were the foundation of the EWF. They lost much of their ancient culture during this period of dragon worship. The splendid and colorful age combined many parts of many ideas to make a new wholeness. When the EWF collapsed and was destroyed the successors were not a restored version of the First Age Heortlings, but something new.

What we have in the Third Age is not the same culture as in the First – even the Orlanth cult has changed, with the Orlanth Rex cult giving great authority to the Prince and tribal kings. The Orlanthi of Heortland had far greater cultural and religious influence from Esrolia (remember they had tried to conquer Esrolia in the late Second/early Third Ages), and later strong influences from the Holy Country (and lesser influences from the Lunar Empire). I think a different and less anachronistic term is more than warranted.

Jeff continues:

the [Dragonkill War] killed pretty much anyone who could call themselves Heortling with a straight face. The Hendriki were not a Heortling tribe (they were formed out of rebels against the Broken Council and called themselves Hendrikings for a good reason) and outside of the Kingdom of Dragon Pass (which later became the EWF).

Language similarities follow the same idea:

Sartarite/Heortlander is heavily influenced by Esrolian. Old Pavic might be the closest to Second Age “Heortling”.

Edit: now archived on the Well of Daliath here.

The Spread of the Empire of the Wyrms Friends

Here’s some Second Age history:

The EWF influence spread through the so-called Barbarian Belt in the 800s. Lakrene was EWF by 850, Anadikki by 870, and parts of Brolia were taxed around 890. The process was for draconic groups to enter the Orlanthi lands, intimidate them and kill the leaders, then impress them with kindness. Once acclimated to draconic ways, the tribes were eventually made responsible for collecting the EWF taxes, and spreading their word, to the next tribe or clan to the west. The collectors were well rewarded in dragon lore, and in valuable goods. Thus a few great behemoth dragons slowly wended their way across the land, escorted by regional tribesmen. As a result, a wave of refugees always preceded the EWF missionaries, eventually collecting in the backwards, poor land of Brolia.

If, like me, you’re utterly unfamiliar with these Second Age region names, Jeff provided the following map so you can follow along:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

So if we think about how this might have worked, we might have some Storm Voices who can speak Auld Wyrmish riding wyverns or wyrms, some intelligent wyrms, a few other dragon speakers, maybe a dream dragon, some dragonewt auxiliaries, and plenty of tribal militia (some riding dinosaurs) and mercenaries (Humakti, Yelmalio, etc.). That’s pretty impressive, and can quickly roll over opponents. Then you show kindness and magnanimity to the defeated and offer them something to gain. It just steamrolls along.

Until of course it stops.

Edit: now archived on the Well of Daliath here.

The Carmanian Empire

Since these latest posts from Jeff have not been archived on the Well of Daliath (yet), I’m going to keep copy/pasting for a little bit:

The Carmanian Empire lasted from about 750 to about 1250. It was founded, as the stories go, by “atheist barbarians from the West”. For most of their history “atheist barbarians” were able to rule a polyglot empire that consisted of Pelandans, Dara Happans, and Theyalans. The ruling dynasty were skilled at respectfully acknowledging and using the gods of their subjects without submitting to any of them.

In a world where there is evidence that gods actually exist, being an “atheist” is mostly about what you think these entities are. Jeff stated that the Carmanians are “‘atheists’ in the sense that the gods are explainable magical phenomena that can be studied and controlled.” Remember that sorcerers totally agree that, say, there’s a big, generally blue guy who calls himself Orlanth and has Storm magic. But these sorcerers don’t worship that guy nor do they acknowledge that he’s anything special — except that he’s a big powerful pile of magical energy, and they are totally looking for ways to bind it and use it!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Red Goddess first showed up in the middle of the Carmanian Empire, a place full of crazy sorcerers.

The leaders ruling dynasty often assigned autonomous appanages to members of their family. The most famous of these is when the Three Brothers divided the world. Nadar of Carmania was a great king (or shah) but had no sons. His daughter was married to a Dara Happan emperor (Sarenesh) and had three sons. When Nadar died, the sons were acclaimed rulers of both Carmania and Dara Happa. The senior son Sassacar (Kewetesh in Dara Happan sources) received Carmania and the title of King of Kings (Padishah), while the middle son Heredesh was given Dara Happa. The youngest son Verenmars received nothing except command of the armies fighting against the EWF – he conquered a kingdom of his own in Saird.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Of course the children of these brothers fought each other. Heredesh’s son Karsdevan proclaimed “I am not a Carmanian” and over the next few generations there were purges of Carmanian influences from Dara Happa, that eventually became three generations of dynastic conflict that only ended with the Invincible Golden Horde and the Dragonkill War.

The Carmanian dynasty retained their “atheist” reputation for their entire history, and the ruling dynasty were patrons of an Malkioni sect that had an elaborate dualist cosmology and adapted deities from its subject peoples into comprehensible forms. Individual members of the ruling dynasty were often eclectic in their practices, and histories show the cults of Yelm, Humakt, and even Storm Bull.

Jeff notes:

Having “atheist barbarians” dominate Peloria and locked in conflict with the dragon-mystic Orlanthi of the Empire of the Wyrms Friends gives us something that feels very different from our Third Age conflicts.

The atheist barbarians though were definitely preferably (at least to the Dara Happens and Rinliddi rebels) to the “Urox barbarians” of the later Carmanian Empire. This was founded in 1139 by usurpers from Vangstal and ruled until the Battle of Four Arrows of Light in 1147.

This battle is listed to have happened in 1241 in the Sourcebook and the Guide, so I don’t know if Jeff made a typo here. But that battle is when the recently created Red Goddess brought the recently discovered Crimson Bat to the Carmanians, and utterly destroyed their capital and ruling family.

Of course, the Carmanian rulers are “barbarians” as far as the Dara Happens, Pelandans, and Theyalans are concerned. They speak a strange language, have odd customs, and their food is strange! And their bread is made of black rye, not wheat or barley. They worship our gods strangely, do not offer sacrifices to their own gods, and have evil sorcerers among them who claim to command gods and spirits.

Edit: now archived on the Well of Daliath here.

Tarshite, Vostor, and Fazzur

Let’s keep going with random bits of history, this time with recent Tarshite history (if you’re new to this, Tarsh is the formerly Orlanthi and now Lunarized Kingdom located on the other side of Kero Fin from Sartar):

King Pharandros of Tarsh has been on throne for 15 years in 1625. Educated in Glamour and Syllila, Pharandros is culturally a Lunar Heartlander. The son of the famed Lunar magician and polymath, King Moirades, who ruled for over 30 years, and grandson of the heroic King Phargentes One-Arm, who ruled a quarter-century, Pharandros suffers somewhat in comparison to the deeds of his ancestors. He is a generous patron of the Lunar University of the Provinces, and has recruited famed scholars and artists from far and wide. He has sponsored the construction of many grand buildings, including the Moirasseum, expansions of the royal palace, and building many shrines, monuments, and temples.

Pharandros has two half-siblings – Inkarne, who is the newly acclaimed Feathered Horse Queen, and Phargentes, the teenaged son of King Moirades and Jar-eel (from the union in 1610 which killed Moiraides). Neither live in Furthest.

The bulwark of the Lunar Dynasty in Tarsh has been the Orindori clan. Vostor Blacktooth was right-hand of King Phargentes, and a general of the Lunar Army, who fought at Grizzly Peak. Vostor grew up in the Lunar Heartlands, in the household of the exiled princes, Philigos and Phargentes. Vostor was 24 when the Empire re-invaded Tarsh, and he commanded a cavalry contingent in the fight, showing himself to be clever, confident, and competent.

The Battle of Grizzly Peaks happens much later, in 1582, and marks the definitive victory of the Lunars in Tarsh. Also, to understand the bit about the “exiled princes” we need to roll back to 1538 when Palashee Longaxe, an old-school rebel, manages to take back Tarsh from the Lunars. Philigos and his entourage have to flee to Furthest. Palashee sits on the throne for almost two (probably very unstable) decades, until the Lunars “re-invade” for good, with Vostor Blacktooth leading some of the attacks.

This should be enough to follow Jeff with the next bit:

Though Philigos was slain, Phargentes made a brilliant recovery, slew Palashee, and became king himself. The year was 1556. Vostor was rewarded with Dunstop and most of Kordros Island.

Vostor had four sons and one daughter by two wives. They were all loyal and brave. The brothers all became Lunar soldiers who fought often for their king. The eldest son, Farrad, died at age 28 in the Battle of Grizzley Peak (1582) which smashed the Sartar army. The second son, Goslem, died at age 23 in the Battle of Bagnot (also 1582), when he acted rashly and attacked too soon. The third son was Wassail. He was quick to rise in the priesthood and helped Phargentes arrange the difficult magic which helped kill Sartar prince Terasarin in 1600. Fazzur was the youngest son, born in 1564. He was a gifted child and a talented soldier, receiving his commission early. Vostos’ last child, a daughter, was born in 1568 and was named Harsta. She was a proud and haughty noblewoman, and wed the son of King Phargentes – Moirades – and was the mother of Pharandros.

Fazzur was the dominant figure in Pharandros’ court, becoming a Lunar General, and later Imperial Governor-General of Dragon Pass. He was never much of a “politician” but served his nephew ably and loyally. Fazzur was removed from his imperial offices by the Red Emperor in 1621, and was replaced with Tatius the Bright, from a Raibanth noble house closely tied to the Red Emperor and his court.

Fazzur has two sons, Onjur and Annstad, and unlike their father, both regularly clash with their royal cousin. Both are learned men, greatly gifted in mind and body, and talented soldiers like their father. Onjur led the defense of Tarsh against a major Tusk Rider raid, killing their leader in personal combat. In Furthest, Annstad was notorious mainly for seducing priestesses and married women, and for his good looks and sybaritic lifestyle. He surprised all by initiating to Orlanth Thunderous at Kero Fin in 1625.

The year 1622 was a busy year in the Gloranthan meta-plot, but that’s when this “major Tusk Rider raid” happened. Called either “Battle of the Porkers” or “the Great Boar Hunt”, it saw the Tusk Riders mount a massive raid from the Ivory Plinth into Tarsh. Some sources say that Fazzur himself was also heavily involved in organizing the Tarshite defences.

As for Annstad, he will surprise people even more when he joins the side of Argrath Whitebull… unless he’s a double agent? Indeed, Jeff reveals that “Annstad is also a Red Goddess initiate…..” With that amount of dots at the end of the statement, it seems obvious Annstad is up to something….. (I’ll remind you that initiation into the Red Goddess requires Illumination, which means being able to ignore all kinds of cult limitations)

In recent years, the king has increasingly viewed Fazzur, and more importantly his children, as a growing threat. The Dragonrise and rebellion of Sartar has greatly contributed to the king’s paranoia, and when the King begged Fazzur to come out of retirement after the Dragonrise, the speed by which Fazzur gathered an army loyal to him terrified the royal court in Furthest. While Fazzur fought at Dangerford, Pharandros had several allies of the Orindori convicted on charges of treason.

Although Fazzur is still outwardly loyal and dutiful, his sons are in open disobedience to the king, seeking allies and fomenting trouble.

In 1625, King Pharandros is 43 years old. He is skilled with weapons, a Red Goddess initiate, is erudite, learned, and a skilled military captain. He is also reckless, paranoid, and unprincipled.

Again, don’t forget that initiation into the Red Goddess requires Illumination… Pharandros is not to be taken lightly.

Pharandros is married to a noble woman from the Lunar Heartlands. Together they have three children. If I recall, they were married in 1602 in a ceremony overseen by the Red Emperor himself!

Some other comments from Jeff:

One thing about Lunar Tarsh is that the Lunar population is overwhelmingly in Furthest and its environs. The city of Furthest, with less than 3% of the total population has 11% of the entire Seven Mothers cult and about the same percentage of the entire Hon-eel cult.

For the decade before the Dragonrise, the most famous humans in Dragon Pass were probably King Pharandros and Fazzur Wideread, followed by the Feathered Horse Queen and Sir Ethilrist. Prince Temertain was pretty much just installed in Boldhome to keep the Sartarite tribes happy and allow an end to Starbrow’s Rebellion.

Edit: now archived on the Well of Daliath here.

Dragon Pass in the Second Age

This history of Dragon Pass in the Second Age seems to re-use a lot of existing material from the Sourcebook and the Guide, so I’m not going to archive it here — it’s too long for that anyway. I’ll let someone else go through the exercise of spotting any new or different bits.

I will however show you this map Jeff shared for the occasion… it’s very interesting if you want to know where the EWF cities mentioned in various obscure material are located (Tikal, Bon Bolar, etc.) That’s possibly where your adventurers will find dangerously draconic items, creepy EWF ghosts, and more!

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Edit: now archived on the Well of Daliath here.

Dragon Pass in the Third Age

These two big slabs of text on Third Age Dragon Pass (Part 1 and Part 2) have not been archived on the Well of Daliath yet, but are also too big to reproduce here anyway. They seem to mostly pull from available material from the Sourcebook and the Guide, similarly to the previous segment. It possibly clarifies a few things, such as how the Feathered Horse Queen rose to power, but nothing we haven’t discussed in the Journal already. Again, I’ll let someone else figure out if there’s any real differences or new bits.

Just like the previous segment, there is a map that comes with it, showing the early stages of the Dragon Pass repopulation.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The second post continues the history of Dragon Pass, again drawing from and summarizing existing material. There’s a bit more emphasis on the pre-Sartarite tribes who “lived as lawless bandits, plundering the ever-increasing caravans that pass through”, and how they became a lot more civilized and organized under Sartar’s reign and subsequent dynasty. There are also a maybe a few more sentences about Tarkalor and Monrogh Lantern’s role in “bringing peace” to the Sun worshipers, who evolved into the modern Yelmalio cult. Hard to say — again I’ll let someone else do the “spot the differences” game. But Jeff spills the beans on the intent behind this editorial work:

There’s a lot in there. Little or none of the information is new, but the attempt is to present it from an overall Dragon Pass perspective rather than just Sartar and also to emphasise how transformational Sartar and his dynasty were.

One thing that is worth keeping in mind is that until 1602, Sartar was the richer and more powerful kingdom than Tarsh. Phargentes certainly was able to contest with Sartar, but needed imperial resources to do so. Even then, Sartar was able to more or less hold its own – and even expand – although the long term trend was towards Tarsh, especially after 1582. However, it was the Lunar Empire, not Tarsh, that conquered Sartar in 1602.

And of course there’s a map! Modern Sartar is starting to take shape…

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Edit: now archived on the Well of Daliath here and here.

Community Roundup

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

UK Games Expo & Eternal Convention

Jonstown Compendium embassador Nick Brooke at UKGE 2022

Two face-to-face conventions just ended: one is the UK Games Expo, the trade show for our hobby in the United Kingdom (pictured above all around Nick), and the other is the Eternal Convention in Bacharach am Rhein, in Castle Stahleck. If you were there, played some Gloranthan games, and have some convention report written somewhere, send us the link!

OpenQuest Online 2022

OpenQuest is an RPG system that traces its lineage back to RuneQuest (through some convoluted connections), so this might be of interest to Gloranthaphiles. Plus, it was designed by Newt Newport, long-time Gloranthan contributor, and features quite a few ducks.

Anyway, Newt has announced an online convention for summer 2022, so if you haven’t yet, here’s your chance to play a system that some people have described as “the subset of RuneQuest that people actually play“. Registration is open on Warhorn.

Lee’s Pastel Maps

Lee O’Connor has shared these wonderful maps on Facebook, and you know I can’t pass a good map!

These were from a wee while ago, before the Starter Set map came came along and made everything much more relatable. (All hail the Starter Set map.) I was kinda filling in what I thought were gaps in the approaches used by the published maps I’d seen up to that point. (Those published maps are still great though.)

You will see that I hit my artistic pinnacle on the Sartar map with the drawing of the symbol for the Dragonrise’d Temple of the Reaching Moon. Rarr.

Matthew Constantine Unboxes the RuneQuest Starter Set

You probably already know what’s in the box — you most probably even own it yourself! But hey, maybe you need to show someone about it, in which case, here’s another unboxing!

Dario Corallo’s Next Art Pack

Dario Corallo is teasing his next art pack for the Jonstown Compendium with these drawings of Yanioth, Vasana, and an Agimori pikeman.

Ossi Hiekkala’s Character

Art by Ossi Hiekkala

Chaosium cover artist Ossi Hiekkala shared this painting of Jaramoor the Potter, his “first ever RQ character” (Ossi had only been a gamemaster until recently). You can read Ossi’s character backstory:

When Jaramoor was young, he was a dashing light cavalry officer, a son of an Old Tarsh noble woman, grandson of a Storm Voice hero. He was a close friend of a prince and the royal household of Sartar, and the prince’s bodyguard, too.

And after one fatal negligence of duty: a refugee, a bandit, a drunkard and a beggar. He crawled out from the ditches of Badside and became a potter, rather lousy at that.

Old, sickly man. Nobody paid any attention to him, which was all he hoped for life.

Then the hoplites of the Red Moon came to his friends’ homestead, and he had to dig up the axe and the armor he had buried in the acidic soil of Prax.

Chaotic Miniatures

Felix Figure Painting has shared these awesome (as usual) paint jobs! A dragonsnail and some… mmmh, trolls with human slaves?

Orlanth Tattoo

Photo by Danny Bourne

Danny Bourne shows his new tattoo… looks good!

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.

Barbie and Greek Mythology

Thanks to May Stab Mountains (over on the unofficial Chaosium Discord) for pointing out this Tumblr post by Copperbadge:

I have often used Barbie to explain Greek mythology, and people laugh until I explain it, and then they get really serious and thoughtful. 

I say, “The Greeks ascribed aspects to gods. Apollo had many aspects, but all were Apollo. He’s like Barbie that way. She’s an astronaut, a veterinarian, and a rollerskater, but no matter which of those things she is in the moment, she is always still Barbie. She is Barbie in her aspect as.” 

Then people get not only the idea of “aspects” of godhood, but also, well, the changeable yet eternal nature of Barbie. 

And yes, I want a Maran Gor Barbie and a Chalana Arroy Barbie and most of all Babeester Gor Barbie (“Barbiester Gor?”) You know you want them too. The next best thing is of course Jar-Eel Barbie:

If you want, you can actually get some Greek mythology Barbie, including this awesome Athena Barbie:

Thank you for reading

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

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

Why do some Heortlings get involved with Chaos when they know it’s really really bad?

Short answer (in my opinion of course): people are flawed, and Chaos is hidden under multiple layers that permeate through the edges of Heortling society.

Chaos is Bad, M’Kay?

Just because something is bad doesn’t mean people will stop doing it. Heortlings are humans, and humans are deeply flawed. They get angry, desperate, and envious. They cheat, steal, kill, and worse. Everything bad that happens on Earth also happens in Glorantha. But in Glorantha, Chaos often lurks further down.

Besides, the “Chaos is bad, m’kay?” rhetoric probably loses its impact after a while for anybody who does not have a “Hate/Fear Chaos” Passion. The emotion of the moment, the pressure of the situation, the obligations to other people, all have more immediate importance — this is why people do bad things, whatever universe they live in.

Sure, Heortlings certainly believe much more deeply that Chaos can destroy their way of life than, say, we Earth humans believe that climate change can destroy ours. But humans are still generally bad at dealing with uncertain, future threats or rewards. They are much better at dealing with the short term. And the short term possibly means dealing with some really shady people.

Once You’re in the Family…

The way I picture it, Chaos is manifested and surrounded by various types of people. There’s a nest of scorpionmen here, a bunch of feral broos there, a hidden temple to Cacodemon somewhere in the middle… but I’m most interested in how Chaos enters cities and tribes. One way might be through criminal organizations.

Sure, not all criminal organizations are Chaotic, the same way that not every street gang in Baltimore, prostitution den in London, email scam office in New Delhi, or drug dealer in Hollywood is necessarily involved in serial killings, human trafficking, or large scale industrial pollution. But human societies are highly connected, and if you dig deep enough, you’re only a few degrees of separation from a ruthless Mexican cartel drug lord or Russian mafia boss1. It only takes a few debts to repay to start walking down these connections.

And that’s one way Chaos seeps into Glorantha. The road to Chaos is paved with good intentions, and all that. People start with something slightly wrong or illegal, they hire criminal services, they deal with the wrong spirits, and unless they make an effort to pull out, they risk gravitating towards Chaos as they navigate these connections. Plus, they might not even know! How can you tell whether this merchant you’ve “helped” get business from the clan ring is “just” a corrupt opportunist, or a worshipper of Mallia? Are you even going to ask? He’s got muscle, and you already owe him a lot. You did what you did to get your wife some urgent care when the Chalana Arroy temple was full, and you like your kneecaps intact, thank you very much. It’s better to look the other way, and not think about it too much when you hear that the tribal Issaries priest has died of a surprisingly fast-acting disease…

Of course, shortly after, they’re telling you that they need your participation with something on the next Black Moon, and you have to bring a dead rat. That’s probably nothing?

Update: based on the feedback I got from this article on Discord, I want to clarify the point I’m making. The point isn’t about whether criminal organizations are Chaotic (not necessarily) or about the nature of Chaos (it’s complicated). The point is about world-building and narrative design, which is something I’m looking into as I prepare my next campaign arc.

I’m thinking of TV series like Justified or The Wire, where local criminal groups like the Bennett clan or the Barksdale gang are connected to various other factions, including an invariably scarier, bigger, and powerful shadow in the distance, such as the Detroit mob or the Greek mafia. These mysterious factions, represented only by a few visiting characters, supply the main protagonists with the resources they need, such as the drugs they deal throughout the series. But we eventually get a hint of the broader picture. For instance, a container full of dead East European prostitutes washes up on the docks and the corrupt port workers’ union, who was previously only used to forging cargo manifests and operating dead-drops, now has to go out of their way to protect their “sponsors” from a full-on human trafficking police investigation that threatens to unravel the truth.

In this comparison, the criminal hillbilly dynasties of Kentucky, corrupt docker unions of Maryland, and street gangs of Baltimore are not Chaotic. The drugs they smuggle and sell aren’t Chaotic either2. But the leading families of the Detroit and Greek mobs would in this case be stand-ins for Chaotic cults, and the container full of bodies would be a direct consequence of Chaotic activity. This is how I’m currently building up my factions, and how I’m looking at stories where players uncover Chaotic activity in their lands. I’m talking about stories like the classic thriller/noir structure of starting with a simple or unremarkable problem, and eventually uncovering vast conspiracies and deep rooted corruption. Only I’m not building stories, here — I’m building a world that is (hopefully) conductive to these stories. A connected world where Chaos survives because it finds a place inside an ecosystem.

I’m curious about your campaign, though: where are your Chaos cults, what are they up to, and how do your players find them? Let me know!

1 Technically, everyone is only a few degrees of separation from a ruthless Mexican cartel drug lord or Russian mafia boss

2 Although I reserve the right to make an adventure where a new type of drug gives you temporary Chaotic features! Hey, if that trope works in Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green, with Tcho-tcho smuggling operations and drugs laced with Mythos magic, it can work in Glorantha too!

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.

We reached issue #50 of the Journal! That’s some sort of milestone, I suppose. Joerg tells me this is the “gold” edition of the Journal, and I’m wondering why he’s feeling so romantic about it. Oh well, I’m busy starting the layout for my second Jonstown Compendium adventure, which I thought would have already been out by now, but you know how these things go.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

New Swag on Redbubble

The RuneQuest Starter Set cover by Ossi Hiekkala is now available on the Redbubble store, which means you get get that wonderful picture of Vasana & friends fighting a Krarshtkid on, say, a skirt or a shower curtain or a pillow. If you’re a very boring person, I suppose you could simply get it as a poster but you’re not a boring person, are you? You’re a brave person, who goes where nobody dares to go!

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!

Day’s Rest

Jamie Revell, who usually specializes in the Genertelan West, has released a book on Day’s Rest, one of the oases of Prax:

This is a mini-sandbox setting describing one of the Praxian oases closest to Sartar and including fourteen NPCs that can provide interaction or story possibilities for RuneQuest games in Glorantha. It also provides a guide to the often-overlooked Oasis Folk of Prax.

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 Collective Unconsciousness

Jeff has some thoughts about the “Collective Unconsciousness” of some RPG settings, such as the God Time in Glorantha, the Dreamlands in Call of Cthulhu, or the Enchanted Britain of Pendragon. As mentioned in issue 47 of the Journal, now that Jeff’s Facebook posts are correctly archived on the Well of Daliath, I won’t always quote them in full here. This is the case here so follow the links if you want the full thing.

So in RuneQuest, this is heroquesting into the realm of myth. In RuneQuest, myth describes the eternally occuring events of the God Time – by that I mean that the God Time is not the past, present, or future, but something that is constantly there on the “other side.” The mythic event where the Sun was killed by Storm is always occuring, as is the mythic event where the Sun was returned to the heavens by the gods. This is the realm of archetypes and the source of stories – we might give some of these entities and stories names to better grasp them, maybe we call this Zeus and Cronus or Orlanth and Yelm to better ground ourselves, but the names can be deceptive. It is the archetype that we are dealing with – everything else is something we add to it.

[…]

RPG adventures into the unconscious are great fun (and can feel very primal and powerful regardless of system) but they pose hurdles on the GM and players. How do we interact with an archetype – it is both more powerful but also less powerful than us. Adolescent Jack can defeat the Giant, and the Wolf can devour Granny without killing her. How do we travel through the realm of archetypes – a voyage in the realm of myth or dream does not have the same sense of space as a horse journey through Late Antiquity Britain, Dragon Pass, or a train journey across Europe. Heck, how do we distinguish between the unconscious realm and the mundane? Endless dreaming is of course indistinguishable from death, and we want our characters to live! But I find this adventuring in the unconscious showing up in all of my games – even our explorations of Ringworld.

That’s interesting, and of course that’s just Jeff own preferences being laid out. Personally, I don’t know if the diegetic recursion is very important to my games. I don’t necessarily need my character to delve into some collective unconscious inside the game when, really, I am already doing that by playing an RPG to be begin with. Because that’s what the game is: it’s a collective world of stories in which we interact with archetypes through our characters. Only they’re not necessarily “raw” archetypes, it’s up the gamemaster to craft NPCs that are either primal or complex. Interestingly enough, some games like Unknown Armies even integrate NPCs-as-archetypes into the lore of the setting.

What seems interesting to me is that these settings have “strange” mechanics that are accessible through a unique activity that happens to be a bit meta. Without heroquesting, Glorantha might be “just” a sword & sandals setting, but it’s enhanced by the ability to interact with myths and get rules-breaking effects. The reason that Call of Cthulhu’s Dreamlands weren’t too interesting in previous editions is, I think, that there wasn’t much in the way of dreaming mechanics where one can “push” on the dreamscape and have it push back, or whatever you can think of that would make the Dreamlands more than “just” a parallel fantasy universe. And thankfully from what Mike Mason has been sharing, this is going to change.

Greg’s Map Projections

Map alert! Jeff has shared some new (as far as I know) Glorantha cartography from Greg Stafford’s archives:

One of Greg’s many interesting map projections intended to get a better feel for how things fit together, I particularly like this one as it shows the connection between Delela and Dorastor, and Halikiv and Aggar, as well as how far off Talastar is from Dragon Pass.

My ex-GIS developer brain will quickly gloss over the use of “map projection” here and dive into the map proper:

The second of these maps goes further west, and again shows how far the Orlanth hill culture extends in the west, And nicely compares northern Ralios to the Lunar Provinces.

I put both maps together, just because I’m that kind of guy:

I don’t see much difference from the Argan Argar Atlas maps, although it’s tricky to compare them since North points at an angle here. At least, it’s nice to have all the landmarks removed, with only the region names written down (these names were only given secondary importance on the AAA maps, and were often obscured by all the cities and rivers and forests and such).

The Horse Queens

Jeff talks about the two main horse queens of central Genertela. The first is of course the Feathered Horse Queen of the Grazelands, and the other one is the Queen of Filichet, in Holay, a province of the Lunar Empire. They both descend somehow from the same solar Pure Horse People ancestors:

These traditions have been separated for nearly a thousand years. And yet they reach to similar archetypes and places in the Hero Plane – the horse-loving goddess who grants the right to rule the land.

Creative Commons photo

Jeff uses a picture of Epona here, which is a Greek horse goddess.

Interestingly the horse loving goddess does not receive cult directly but almost always as part of another larger cult.

Note that the Queen of Filichet is also the high priestess of Redaylda, the Orlanthi horse goddess, in addition to ruling the Kingdom of Holay.

You can read the rest on the WoD archive here.

All the Souls

One of the nice things about the worldbuilding of Glorantha is that it can get as much philosophical as it gets mythical. For instance, each culture and cult has their own idea about where we come from, where we go when we die, and even, sometimes, what is the nature of the soul. In a BRP Central thread about sorcery, Jeff talks briefly about this topic. Of course, it starts with the usual Gloranthan disclaimer that “yes, everything is true to some degree“:

I can easily say the Brithini view and the Orlanthi view are equally true interpretations of what happens when you die. It just depends on what you are saying is your essential “you”.

Remember, few people believe that there is only one soul. What we track as the existential Self depends on what we focus on.

Everybody’s favourite wizard, Zzabur, has famously strong opinions about “the self” and how he really really doesn’t want to lose it:

Zzabur says that the will, the ego, the self – all that is explainable in materialist terms as matter and energy. There is spirit and soul, and that is the energy source that powers the raw matter – the body. But when the body dies, the energy is NOT the self. And thus it is nonsense to talk about Solace or whatever. Sure maybe some of that energy goes to various places, but you are not that energy.

Solace is some sort of Western Malkioni epiphany that lets you become an “Ascended Master”, which may or may not be a big deal depending on which Malkioni school of thought you adhere to (more on that in last week’s Journal). Either way, Zzabur doesn’t buy it. I guess that you either are, or you aren’t. Whatever remains after your death is an echo, or something that believes it’s you.

Anyway, like I mentioned, various cultures have various opinions on the souls. Dara Happans and other solar-based cultures generally think your soul has 6 parts, while the Orlanthi think your soul has 5 parts… although funnily enough it sort of overlaps with your physical body:

The number of souls we say a person has is really a matter of how a cult defines things. So with the Orlanthi we have:

– Darkness Soul (the individual’s shadow);
– Water Soul (blood and bodily fluids);
– Earth Soul (bones, tissues);
– Fire Soul (bodily heat); and
– Air Soul (the vital breath). 

The Orlanth cult says your vital breath is the essential you – and it, as magical Air, will return to Orlanth’s Hall until it is carried down again by Orlanth’s winds to return to the world. If you are a hero, part of it always exists there in Orlanth’s Hall. 

Meanwhile, the Ernalda cult focuses on the bones and tissues that can be preserved and cared for within the Earth, where its magical essence resides with Ty Kora Tek.

And it is possible to meet the same dead soul in both the Lands of the Dead (Ty Kora Tek) and Storm Home or at the Four Winds or wherever. 

Jeff expands cryptically on that last bit, about meeting the dead:

How are you discussing with them? How are you meeting them? I mean they are dead after all. Are you wandering around the Hero Plane somewhere trying to find them? Did you critical a Love Family roll while visiting Orlanth’s Hall on his high holy day? Is this the start of the Lightbringers Quest, when the ghosts show up? Are you hiring a Daka Fal priest to summon their spirit? What is going on?

Each approach to the dead is going to have a different result.

I assume that the way you meet the dead, and therefore which aspect of their soul you meet, is going to manifest as a different sort of ghost or spirit with different preoccupations. The Air Soul encountered in the Storm Home might look like an air spirit, transparent and floating like the wind, asking you to carry on with their old grudges and loyalties. The Earth Soul however might be encountered underground, looking like a decomposing skeleton, and mostly concerned with resting and finding peace. I’m obviously making all of this up and I don’t know if that’s what Chaosium’s Glorantha looks like, but I’m gonna keep this in mind for the next time my players want to meet some ancestors.

Deities of Caladraland

Jeff talks briefly about the deities of Caladraland.

Caladra and Aurelion – the Volcano Twins – are the patron deities of Caladraland, and some 20% of the population are devoted to them. They are the twin offspring of Lodril and Asrelia – and younger siblings to Ernalda and Maran Gor.

The cult in its current form dates to the Second Age, but is of great importance in Caladraland, and also found among the Ditali.

The Ditali are an Orlanthi tribe from Maniria — go west from Holy Country and you’ll find them.

Jeff uses this bas-relief of Apollo and Artemis as an illustration, since these are also twins in the Greek mythology.

Twins are a matter of great magical significance in Glorantha – each of the Runic polarities can be thought of as manifestation of the cosmic Twins – and you see that a lot in the Earth Religion (Asrelia-Ty Kora Tek, Ernalda-Maran Gor, Babeester Gor-Voria). But I think Caladra and Aurelion are the most important cult where both twins are worshiped together in a single cult.

The Twin Gods combine Heat and Earth, Fertility and Harmony. They are crafters, miners, and musicians – the lyre is their instrument.

Interesting — I never thought of pairing these deities together. Asrelia and Ty Kora Tek are both Earth plus Life/Death. Babeester Gor and Voria are pretty much similar. Ernalda and Maran Gor are both Earth plus Harmony/Disorder plus Life/Death (double the dichotomy!)

Veskarthan is just an old Kethaelan name for Lodril. After a few centuries of God Learner domination, Lodril might be the popular name. He’s the big volcano god. About 11% of the population in Caladraland follow Lodril. The Orlanth cult is about the same size as Lodril in Caladraland (10% of the population).

[…]

The most popular cult in Caladraland is…. Ernalda with some 35% of the population. She is the older sister of the Twins and worshiped as the daughter of Lodril.

About the Larnstings

Here’s a short little thing about the Larnstings, which are interpreted as followers of Orlanth Adventurous and Mastakos, focusing on the Movement Rune magic.

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.

Dario Corallo Art

Gloranthan illustrator extraordinaire Dario Corallo has been posting regular pieces of art on Facebook and I’m due for another round-up. Some are commissions, some are works-in-progress, and some are character studies.

Exploring Glorantha Interviews Rick Meints (Again)

The Exploring Glorantha crew, JM and Evan, interview Rick Meints again! They talk about ChaosiumCon, the upcoming Stafford House Campaign book, other upcoming RuneQuest publications, and more!

Spirit Magic Foci

Over on the Beer With Teeth blog, Diana “Berra” Probst (which we had on the show a couple times) gives us plenty of cool ideas for involving spirit magic foci in our RuneQuest games.

I’m a big fan of details that add colour to the game. The world is part of the reason why people are playing RuneQuest, not any other game. One that I like, and lean on, is Spell Focuses. My PC has a lot of them, and they are mostly tattoos. She’s got her Heal matrix in the shape of a scar on her right thigh. She was nearly killed in a bar fight by someone with a broken amphora, and to remind herself, and to focus on the learning, she had the scar filled in with woad, and it’s how she focuses on the healing magic.

I think spell foci are a bit like spell components in D&D: everybody knows you’re supposed to have them when you cast your magic, but the vast majority of gamers probably gloss them over and roll the dice directly… anyway, read more here!

Ardwulf’s Roleplaying Ramble

You might already know the Ardwulf’s Lair YouTube channel if you’re a fan of wargaming, Harn, and/or Traveller… but now there are also live-streams, including this brand new “Roleplaying Ramble” series on tabletop RPGs. The first episode is about RuneQuest, a topic that doesn’t seem to be uncommon when it comes to first episodes!

Snakepipe Hollow Walkthrough Part 2

D R has posted the second part of their walk through a 3D reconstruction of Snakepipe Hollow and it’s…. claustrophobic. Part 1 is over here.

Valkyrie Miniature from Bad Squiddo Games

This new Valkyrie Miniature from Bad Squiddo Games might be good enough for a Heortling warrior, whether it’s an Orlanthi adventurer or an NPC like Kallyr or Leika. Plus: zombie horses!

Original Ral-Partha Art

Speaking of miniatures, Andy Smith showed off this original art from the old Ral-Partha line of RuneQuest miniatures. This particular illustration was for the Denizens of the Viking Underworld. It’s not Glorantha-related, but it’s still cool!

Font for Sorcery Techniques

There’s already a font for Gloranthan Runes, and the sorcery techniques are available as SVG graphics, but now Phenomen on BRP Central has put them together in a subset of the existing font. This will probably be useful for any Jonstown Compendium author who wants to deal with philosophers and western sorcerers!

Grab the file here, install it, and it should show up as a variant as pictured above.

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.

Neo-Assyrian Rock Art Discovered Under Turkish House

This unfinished Neo-Assyrian art was discovered recently under a Turkish house. It shows some Aramean gods, with Hadad the Storm God at the front, yielding some sort of lightning thingie. What’s interesting is that it dates back to some time between 900 and 600 BCE, when the Neo-Assyrian empire expanded into Aramean settlements. There was an increasing mix between the two cultures, and this mural demonstrates that by showing Aramean gods in a very Assyrian art style.

The panel shows “ … a local cohabitation and symbiosis of the Assyrians and Arameans in a region and period under firm Assyrian imperial control,” the authors write. They call the panel “ … a striking example of regional values in the exercise of imperial power”—a relationship that could have involved a give and take between Assyrians who wanted to impress their new subjects and Arameans eager to please their new overlords.

That’s something I might want to re-use as my RuneQuest campaign plays through the Lunar occupation of the Far Place. The construction of new buildings featuring Lunar-influenced art or architecture, and even maybe the replacement of previously traditional Tarshite sculptures and paintings could be the starting point of some interesting storylines…

Anyway, find more about this Neo-Assyrian mural here.

Warriors and Ladies of Archontiko

The Archeological Museum of Pella, in Greece, has some exhibits about the ancient Kingdom of Macedon, since Pella was its capital (that’s where Alexander the Great was born). Not far from there is the village or Archontiko where a large burial site was found, including thousands of graves dating back to the 6th century BCE.

Photo by Peter Sommer

Of note, there were several individual graves for warriors and nobles whose face was covered with a gold sheet, or whose mouth was covered with a sort of golden medallion called a “stomion”.

I’m immediately thinking of a Yelmalion or other solar burial tradition (because gold is their thing, of course) but I guess you could change the type of metal and use the same idea for really any Gloranthan culture.

More here.

Thank you for reading

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

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

This week was both fairly quiet on the Gloranthan front, and quite busy for me, which means I probably skipped or missed some things. Oh well, it means you might procrastinate a bit less at work today! It’s good right? Mostal wants to keep you productive.

God Learner Sorcery

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

Initiation Series Episode 7: Diana, Amber, Constructive Cosmology, and Tea Bribes

This latest episode of the initiation series welcomes power-newbie Diana Probst of Beer With Teeth, who already featured in our Gamemastering RuneQuest episode. This time she talks to us about fractal gaming in Glorantha, constructive cosmology, YGMV, tea bribes, and ice shanty, among many other digressions. Listen to it here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Jaye Kovach on TTRPG Art

James interviews Chaosium art director Jaye Kovach about what makes good TTRPG art. She makes some good points about the immersive world-building elements of an illustration (I’ll have to take that into account in my own work), and then talks about all the stuff she’s looking for personally in an art piece.

Interestingly she gives a big shout out for Coyote & Crow, which I incidentally bought a couple weeks ago and sits on my desk as I’m writing this. Her other shout-outs include Eclipse Phase, which I’ve owned for a long time but never got to play, and what I think are DK Books (even though it sounds like she says “PK Books”). See the layout for, say, the Ancient Greece DK Book here.

Ariel Sawicki Joins Chaosium as VTT Developer

The much needed VTT support for Chaosium titles seems to be slowly addressed, as the team’s new hire will focus on exactly that:

His current projects are getting the RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu tabletop RPGs on to the Foundry platform.

More here.

Jonstown Compendium

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

The Six Paths is Available in POD

The Six Paths, the short book by Edan Jones and Katrin Dirim about gender roles in the Heortling society, has been fast-tracked by Chaosium for availability via print-on-demand! You can grab the softcover here.

Most of the money from the sales will go to transgender-related charities (more detailed here). If you’re looking to release a Jonstown Compendium item and similarly have Chaosium’s share go to a charity, there is a very welcome Fan Use and Licensing Q&A entry for that.

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.

What Constitutes Rune Magic

That BRP Central thread on the “worst cults” mentioned last week still had people arguing in circles about Yelmalio for a few days until the thread was inevitably locked. I’m still going to pick a few things I found interesting in there.

For instance, here is Jeff’s take on the gameplay utility of Yelmalio. Before you read that, note that this utility is predicated on following the rules about spirit magic accessibility: as per RAW you mainly get access to your cult and any associated cult’s magic. Other spirit magic might require finding a willing shaman teacher or performing services to non-associated cults, all of which might take an adventure or two to achieve. Although it’s sort of obvious in retrospect, I realized through that forum thread that giving “free” access to spirit magic (which some gamemasters do) destroys the utility of some cults since it removes their specialization.

[Yelmalio] is a fine adventurers cult – as are any of the cults in RQG. But Yelmalio was never a good power-gamer adventurers cult (arguably none really are). In RQ2, he was best for fighting trolls and very useful in the Big Rubble (all those light spells such as Light, Lightwall, and Lantern are incredibly useful in underground ruins!). Sunbright and Catseye are incredible spells – Sunbright gets rid of trollkin and cave trolls, Catseye puts you on an even platform with trolls in darkness. Throw in Detect Gold and you have a cult tailor made for adventuring in the Big Rubble.

But Yelmalio’s myths aren’t about exploring the Big Rubble – they are about surviving as the Last Light in Darkness. And his cult survives by fighting together as a trained pike and shield force (which doesn’t require a lot of specialised magic). 

That last bit caught my eye, especially in relation to some other discussions I’ve seen in the past about what becomes Rune Magic and what doesn’t. It’s not always clear whether a Rune spell allows you to wield the powers of your deity, or allows you to reproduce something your deity accomplished (RQG p313 says “The caster imitates the deeds of the deity and thereby magically partakes of the deity’s power.“)

For instance, Yelmalio is indeed a god of light, and he has some light magic. But he also accomplished the feat of surviving the Hill of Gold and holding on until the Dawn, becoming a mythic archetype of grit and perseverance. Should this also be a Rune spell?

Jeff says no:

Advice Greg gave me in editing Cults material – if there is something a player wants to get out of a cult that seems beyond the social/magical ecological role of the cult, let them heroquest for it and gain it as a personal boon, IF they are able to experience and survive this on the Hero Plane. Don’t make it a default spell or even a special subcult. And if it is really cool, don’t let it be a common heroquest!

[…]

Yelmalio sticked it out by not letting his light be extinguished – not because of some inherent stick-it-out-ness. Same thing with Orlanth in the Lightbringers Quest – he made his way through the Underworld despite having no magic to facilitate this and reconciled with Yelm despite having no reconcile with guy you killed magic in order to save the cosmos despite having no save the cosmos magic.

The gods’ Rune magic reflects their inherent nature and attributes. So Orlanth is a Thunder God, Adventurer and King, so has magic that reflects that. Yelmalio is the God of Light, and has magic that reflects that. Yelmalio is an important cult because despite being the God of Light, he did not go out despite the Greater Darkness. Maybe his Sunbright spell had a lot of Extension?

So it seems that Rune Magic is really about the former of those two previous propositions: it lets you access power that a god has (inherently or through union or theft). Whether you can accomplish the same things that god did is up to you, and that’s definitely the case when that god accomplished stuff they didn’t even have special powers for.

Joy and Ascended Masters

Here is a bit of Western spiritualism for you on this fine morning.

As I understand it, most of the Malkioni philosophies have a concept of transcendence in which one can achieve some sort of unity with or understanding of the cosmos (generally through or as the Invisible God.) Joerg tells me that the Brithini have the “Revelation of Now”, the Rokari have “Solace”, and the Hrestoli have “Joy”. When one achieves one of these things, they become an “ascended master”, which different philosophies treat differently. The Brithini don’t care about them, the Rokari view prayer to them as “barbaric superstition”, and the Hrestoli venerate them.

Jeff explains:

Joy is a moment of where one experiences the Invisible God and is transformed by it. Like henosis in Neo-Platonism – union with the fundamental source of reality. The Hrestoli tradition teaches us that we must go beyond restrictions of caste and taboo to achieve Joy, but we must also have experience caste and taboo first – this is like the theurgy involved in Neo-Platonic henosis. Malkion appeared to Hrestol in his darkest moment and showed him the path to Joy.

Through Joy we have a direct line experience of the One – to the Good above the gods and Runes. 

In the Hrestoli philosophy, everybody can try and become one of the “Men-of-All” by “systematically overcoming the unnecessary limitations of caste” (I’ll remind you that most Western societies have a caste system where the population is divided between, basically, peasants, soldiers, nobles, and wizards). I’m not quite sure if Joy is equivalent to becoming a Man-of-All, or if being a Man-of-All is part of the journey to achieve Joy…

During the Ban it was easy. Through training and experience, we are able to mimic in reverse the mistakes of the demiurge and achieve Joy. Indeed even peasants could do it. But now, even some of our most noble leaders are without Joy, a sign of our degenerate times no doubt.

I don’t know what the Ban has to do with it here… the Syndics Ban is a curse that fell upon Northwestern Genertela in 1499 when the God of the Silver Feet, the local trade and communication deity, was killed (I’m still not sure how you effectively kill a god in Glorantha but let’s go with it). Suddenly, the land was split in dozens of regions between which communication and travel was impossible: you would just end up in some magical fog and either get lost forever or find yourself back where you started. In late 1500s and early 1600s, the Ban started to lift, one region at a time, and people who lived their whole life in isolation discovered the existence of an increasingly wide world around them. Basically, Fronela around the turn of the 15th century is where you set your Forbidden Lands campaign.

So I guess that Joy was easier to attain under the Ban because things were simpler, the population was smaller, and the limitations of caste you needed to overcome were a shorter list? I don’t know, what you do people think?

Our greatest heroes are those that could ascend and be in perpetual union with the Invisible God, but remain tied to us as guides and guardians. Bodhisattvas, gurus, helpers, and friends of the Invisible God. They are held in reverence even after their death.

Note the continuation of Glorantha’s shift towards an Indian flavour, here… older material (including the Guide to Glorantha) had mentions of “Knights” and “Saints” as possible alternate terminology for “Men-of-All” and “Ascended Masters”. This sent a whole bunch of fan material down a medieval rabbit hole. I strongly suspect we won’t see these terms in use anymore.

Jeff also clarified the difference between Malkion’s and Zzabur’s takes on Solace:

Malkion proclaimed Solace -that after death the essential you persists (the soul) and will be reincarnated into the mundane world. We gain Solace in this – that there is an immortal Self.

Zzabur says that the spirit, the soul, whatever – that is not I AM. These are names we give to the animating energies that help constitute the I AM, but upon death I AM is no more – it is reduced to its constituent parts and is no longer I AM. And whatever it is, is of no further interest.

I’m pretty sure Zzabur is one of those people who insists that teleportation is a death-and-cloning machine, and that he would never use it… but anyway, Zzabur indeed just wants to keep doing what he does. If I remember correctly, he doesn’t want to become a deity or join the Invisible God because he, effectively, doesn’t want his ego to die. We’re talking about the guy who wants this so much that he fucks up half the world in order to teleport his resort island to a place beyond death.

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.

Vintage RPG Podcast on Borderlands

The Vintage RPG podcast has once again a nice and short episode on some RuneQuest property. This time they talk about Borderlands, and Stu seems to really, really like this campaign. If you want to check it out, you can get the print-on-demand and/or PDF version from Chaosium.

Jan Pospisil’s Art for Sale

Some of you might be interested in knowing that Jan Pospisil still has many Gloranthan illustrations available for sale. Most of these are watercolour originals made for the Six Ages computer game.

Check them out here! Plus a bit more here.

Six Ages: Lights Going Out

Speaking of Six Ages, the development of the sequel is still going. Here’s a Dragonewt. Also, guess what you get when a Broo goes swimming?

Thank you for reading

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

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

God Learner Sorcery

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

What Does YGWV Mean?

Since this question was recently highlighted on the Chaosium blog, I wrote this short article about my own take on the venerable acronym.

It’s a good opportunity however to remember what YGWV/YGMV is good for around fan communities. Wayne said it in his interview: it’s good to create a fan culture that embraces different visions of the game and its world, but it can be a tad annoying to see it thrown around any time someone asks a very simple question about the canon. A simple question should get a simple answer.

Read more here.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Update on the Cults of Glorantha

Art by Agathe Pitie © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff gave an update on Facebook about this. There are some good news, some extra details, and some bad news.

Good news: with the art all done, the book is currently in layout, with “a few charts and minor elements” still being worked on. Also, Chaosium is finally hiring professional proof-readers to avoid the problems found in most recent RuneQuest books. Apparently, the “community proof-reading” done on the PDFs was “mixed success at best”, which isn’t surprising to me.

Extra details: we have a final count of what’s inside this two-volume monster. “We have 96 distinct cults plus another 40 or so minor cults.” All 96 cults are long-form write-ups similar to those in Cults of Prax and Cults of Terror. The entire project is apparently bigger and more complicated than the Masks of Nyarlathotep slipcase for Call of Cthulhu, which is saying something.

Bad news: Chaosium seems to be moving away from the model of releasing the PDF first, and the physical book second. Instead, they are going for simultaneous releases, just like with the RuneQuest Starter Set. Back in 2018 I would have nodded or shrugged at this. In 2022 however, when a product ready to market doesn’t reach consumers for months because of paper shortages and shipping issues, I don’t know if it’s such a good idea. Obviously the people at Chaosium better know what’s up and how to manage their product pipeline… but what I’m saying is that maybe we won’t see much this year after all.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

To whet your appetite, you might also want to check back on the Well of Daliath, which now has a list of contents for the GenCon “preview edition” of the Cults of Glorantha from 2018. Things have changed since then, but it might give you a good idea of what’s in there.

Jeff on Real-World Mythology and TTRPGs as Media

This was an interesting video (thank you to James Coquillat for asking good questions!) on the relationship between real-world mythology and Gloranthan mythology. For instance, you’ll hear Jeff talk about how Gloranthan divine archetypes are skewed one way or another compared to ancient world pantheons because of gaming considerations.

Jeff’s remark that there’s too much war magic in Glorantha is good. I’m always sad that combat magic can routinely give big, or even massive, bonuses to combat skills, but non-combat magic tends to give only modest bonuses to non-combat skills… Even if it did, though, I think I still have a lot to figure out in terms of cool ways to involve, say, fertility magic into scenarios, both narratively and mechanically.

This second video isn’t directly related to Glorantha, but it’s got Jeff in it so I might as well put it there too, especially since there are a couple of good points about the difference between RPGs and movies/TV series.

Weapons & Equipment Guide in Print

Hold off your exotic mounts worth worth 400 to 1200L, it’s not quite out yet, but MOB has posted pictures of an advance copy sent by the Polish printer Chaosium is using. Behold, it exists in dead tree version!

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.
© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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!

Lost in the Dark

© 2022 Josh “Skull” Dixon & Chaosium Inc.

Josh “Skull” Dixon, which we interviewed in our Glorantha Initiation series, has released a short 11 pages adventure called “Lost in the Dark” featuring a new Darkness spirit about… well, being lost. In the dark.

Secrets of Dorastor Update

Art by Dario Corallo © 2022 Stormspearia & Chaosium Inc.

Simon Phipp has updated Secrets of Dorastor with a companion document called “Personalities Tactics”:

It contains nearly 70 pages of notes about High Level Personalities and gaming. In it are:

– Expanded Tactics for all the Personalities from Secrets of Dorastor
– Some suggested tactics that can be used when playing RuneQuest Glorantha
– A quick review of the tactics from the excellent RQ2 RuneMasters supplement, which is recommended reading for anyone wanting to know about RuneQuest Glorantha tactics
– The latest Jonstown Compendium Wall of supplements

If you have already bought Secrets of Dorastor, you should already see this new PDF as a download.

Covers of the Jonstown Compendium

This was posted on the Chaosium blog, but it’s about the Jonstown Compendium so I’m putting there to even out the sections a bit… Various Chaosium people got together to pick covers they like in recent community content items, and I’m happy to report that my cover for Austin Conrad’s “To Hunt a God” was among the selection!

Art by Ludovic Chabant © 2022 Akhelas & Chaosium Inc.

You probably won’t be surprised by the other picks, from Katrin Dirim’s work on The Six Paths to Mark Smylie’s cover of The Armies & Enemies of Dragon Pass.

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.

Prince Saronil Stealing From The Dwarves

Agathe Pitie, whose expansive artwork will be all over the upcoming Cults of Glorantha, is apparently now working on the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set (or whatever it will be called). Here is “Prince Saronil stealing secrets from the dwarves”, from the “Illustrated History of Sartar” (whatever that is):

Art by Agathe Pitie © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff adds:

I think it is very important to present the history of Sartar visually, particularly for those now entering the game.

Silver Sartarite Coins

Coins featuring various rulers are a big cornerstone of the ancient world, so it was only a matter of time before we saw more Gloranthan material on the topic. But hey, remember that coin of Alexander with the elephant helmet from last week’s Journal? How about something similar but with Sartarite rebel-turned-Prince Kallyr Starbrow instead?

Art by Chris Huth © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

I mean, sure, once you try to emulate ancient Greek or Roman coins, it’s all side-portraits with or without helmets anyway, so not a lot of artistic wiggle room. Here’s another coin featuring Alexander with a similar-placed helmet:

Creative Commons photo

Back in Glorantha, the silver coin depicted above was made during Prince Kallyr’s short reign.

The ram horns are part of the Orlanth Rex inconography and give the Prince quasi-divine status linked with Orlanth. Kallyr’s celestial associations are minimized in this coin, and largely follows the design of previous Sartarite coins.

Silver currency was introduced in the Second Age by the Middle Sea Empire. Sartar enthusiastically issued silver coins during his reign 1492-1520, and his dynasty continued with that.

The Sartarites minted silver Sovereigns, which were replaced by Lunars after 1602.

I believe these coins are also called “Sartarite Guilders”, unless it’s actually another type of coin that I didn’t know about.

One of the first things a new ruler does is have coins minted. It advertises you, legitimises your rule, and let’s everyone know who is in charge.

Do You Want More Elmal/Yelmalio Debates? Of Course You Do!

A thread on BRP Central about what the Yelmalio cult might look like in the Holy Country devolves for a while (of course) into a whole Elmal/Yelmalio explainer once again. But with a few extra bits of behind-the-scenes information on some HeroWars/HeroQuest-era sourcebooks. Strap on to your sun horse!

Again I don’t know why people would expect that the cult of the Little Sun is going to look very different from Yelmalio, regardless of name. 

Prior to 1500 or so, the Little Sun cult in Sartar would look a lot like Yelmalio, although possibly with no gifts, no Cloud Clear, and probably no Sunbright. Now that the Little Sun cult is revealed to be Yelmalio, the Yelmalio-as-Orlanth’s Thane cult just swaps out Shield from Yelm with Shield from Orlanth.

You might remember that the general idea is that the Yelmalio cult was strong at the Dawn and during the First Age, since he kinda helped a lot of people during the Great Darkness by keeping the lights on. But the Heortlings had not met any of these people yet, so they just had the arguably weaker Elmal cult.

A guy named Monrogh Lantern eventually does some exploratory heroquesting and finds that Elmal is Yelmalio, and Yelmalio is much more powerful — enough to get the vast majority of Elmal cultists to adopt the new dogma:

No matter how you slice it, the pre-Monrogh Elmal cult had far less magical power and range than the post-Monrogh Yelmalio cult.

This is where we get into game publication archaeology, because the Elmal cult had a few write-ups. Whether Elmal was indeed “weaker” than Yelmalio therefore spills into game mechanics and edition wars.

For instance, in the 2001 HeroWars “Storm Tribe“, Elmal is described as providing magical abilities such as “Blazing Spear”. The 2009 “Book of Heortling Mythology” has stories about Elmal burning some stuff down. Jeff says:

Greg had very little to do with that writeup. And Book of Heortling Mythology was filled with draft ideas from us without any editing. I am sure I have said many times that Greg was ambivalent about publishing that for exactly that reason (same with Arcane Lore).

Remember folks: don’t believe everything you read in the Stafford Library books… they’re just Greg’s unedited notebooks.

In the 2009 and 2012 HeroQuest “Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes“, Elmal lets you shoot fire arrows and summon “lesser Fire gods”, among other things. Jeff replies:

I wrote the S:KoH writeup. In retrospect I got Elmal wrong (and I had serious doubts about it when I was writing it – but at the time I wanted it to link with KoDP).

So let me make it clear – if I was to rerelease S:KoH, I’d change that.

It’s worth noting that anybody who just stuck to RuneQuest and never looked into HeroWars/HeroQuest, or the uncommon system agnostic material, might have been a lot less confused about all this.

Here’s some more behind-the-scenes stuff about the writing of these books:

Mythically it was appropriate to understand the Orlanthi of the Dawn. That was the extent that Greg cared about Elmal. But KoS made it clear that by the Hero Wars Elmal was recognized as the Yelmalio we all know. Greg was working on his Harmast materials, set in the First Age. In fact, from about 1991 to 2012 or so, Greg had very little interest in the Third Age = his focus was the First and to a much lesser extent the Second Ages. It was working on the Guide that brought Greg back to the Third Age.

And this was the huge problem with Thunder Rebels and Storm Tribe, and the whole Hero Wars line – materials that were intended for the First Age got repurposed and packaged into a rules system that few of the writers or the editors even understood. Worse yet, Greg was not the editor on that material – that was someone who had a VERY DIFFERENT view of Glorantha than Greg (and did not play RPGs, which showed). Needless to say, once that person was removed from the process, things looked very different.

If you read through the Making Gods essay in KoS, the Elmali cult were not Friendly Neighbourhood Paladins according to most Sartarites. They were separatists, kinslayers, Lunar allies, and regicides, responsible for the deaths of least one tribal king and a Prince of Sartar. The Yelmalio revelations made the Elmali far less problematic as far as the Kingdom of Sartar was concerned. They could be their own thing, allied to Sartar but not a part of it.

We had already discussed this surprising bit of regicide from the Elmali (see issue 9 of the Journal), but Jeff repeats it, quoting from King of Sartar:

Elsewhere Greg confirmed to me that:

Prince Jarosar was fourth, who was called Hothead. He was the son of Jarolar. He found the Stone of Two Colors. He built a great road. He fell to poison, from a friend’s hand.

…referred to the Elmali. The Prince was killed by one of his own Elmali bodyguards (similar to Indira Gandhi being killed by two of her own Sikh bodyguards.

While I had looked at this passage before, I hadn’t read the “Making Gods” essay from the same book. It’s an interesting read if you haven’t checked it out yet:

Now I am emphasising this stuff more strongly because thanks to KoDP and Storm Tribe people started imagining Elmal as the “Friendly Paladin” cult. Which the above passages definitely are not.

There are no remaining loyal thanes. The old Elmal cult is gone. My population estimates in SKoH and SC were wrong and based on an error that Greg corrected me about.

Okay so let’s check back on the “revised” Elmal/Yelmalio timeline:

So during the Second Age, we had a network of thriving and vibrant Yelmalio temples from Prax to Fronela. But with the Dragonkill War this was broken, disassociated. Individual temples were left to be autonomous, and much was lost or stolen.

In Hendrikiland, the local Yelmalio cult became little more than a Spirit Cult associated with the larger Orlanth cult. The cult fled to Dragon Pass after Belintar became ruler (Heortland had no need for a small Fire/Sky deity, when Lodril was available for that position). That little cult came into contact with the vibrant Yelm cult of Peloria and many abandoned our little cult for Yelm. Others revolted against the Orlanth Rex cult, in betrayal and revolt.

Monrogh saw through the loss, and liberated the lost Yelmalio who was behind our little cult all the time. He revealed the Many Suns of the Sun Dome temples, and restored the Sun Dome network! The shadows and clouds dispersed and we could all admire the Light of Yelmalio!

Also, remember that virtually all of the Sun Dome material that has been published is about the Praxian temple:

So Sun County – the Praxian Sun Dome Temple – is an outlier. It is the frontier of the frontier. The temples in Dragon Pass and South Peloria are likely more typical of the cult.

Last we heard, Chaosium was working on a book about the Sun Dome in southern Sartar, which will probably be a lot different.

What Elmal/Yelmalio is Good For

Another good bit of information from the previous segment’s same BRP Central thread is what the Elmal/Yelmalio cult contributes to the Orlanthi:

The Horse Triarchy: These folk had the Sky Horse (aka Yelmalio) as their tribal patron. They worshiped horses, held them as holy – and also worshiped Hippoi and Hyalor, as the specifically horse deities.  They are one of the few groups that did not end up relocating to the Sun Dome Temple, probably because for them the Horse element was more important than the Sky.

If you’re missing the “horse magic” from Yelmalio, the Elmal subcult from the upcoming Cults of Glorantha gets Command Horse from Hippoi.

Troll Fighting: Folk specialised in fighting against the Trolls. Although the Hendriki were long allied with the Only Old One, they had their Light-worshipers there in reserve. The cult was preferred by the Only Old One to more powerful Fire and Light cults.

Interesting political manoeuvring for dealing with a “lesser evil” on the Only Old One’s part…

Solid infantry fighters: As a small but cohesive cult in a sea of Orlanthi, the Yelmalions were always better at being cohesive and solid infantry fighters. This goes back to the Second Age. Its not magical, it is something that the cult has done to be able to punch above its weight.

Of course, this isn’t really useful when you’re playing a lone Yelmalion in a party of non-Yelmalions… elsewhere, Jeff said this about these adventurers:

Why are you fighting alongside with untrained militia? Why haven’t you trained them? Is there some reason why a trained linesman is fighting outside their file mates? I’m sure there is a reason why they are doing something far outside of their temple and cult strengths – which makes it a good story and a good source of adventure.

Well, these are good questions, aren’t they? And since everyone who plays a Yelmalion has to answer them, it might be good to have possible answers written somewhere. In fact, I’d love it if each cult write-up in the upcoming Cults book had a “how to include this cult in your game” section. I strongly believe that it would (1) greatly help newcomers grasp which cults they might like, and (2) stomp 90% of the “this cult sucks” discussions because it would make it more clear what the gameplay role of a cult is — so far, cult write-ups only describe the in-world role of a cult, and it sometimes requires a good grasp of the lore before it can be translated and applied to a game.

Yelmalio in the Holy Country

Last segment from that BRP Central thread, I promise! This time, it’s about the actual topic, which is the Yelmalio cult in the Holy Country:

Maybe 1% of the population in the Holy Country follow Yelmalio. The area was part of the Shadowlands for over a thousand years. That being said 1% of the population of Esrolia means there are more than 10,000 initiates in Esrolia alone.

So the cult is a lot bigger in the Holy Country than in Sartar (bigger absolute numbers), but is less prevalent (smaller percentage of the population).

There are about as many Eurmal clowns and tricksters in Esrolia as there are Yelmalio cultists, and the cult is just one of many smaller cults in Esrolian society.

Ouch… what a sick burn! Something Yelmalio can’t ever do, by the way…. (ho ho ho). And speaking of fire:

Lodril is a far more important Fire/Sky deity in the Holy Country.

Caladraland, just next door to Esrolia, has actual volcanos, that come with lava magic! And Lodril is a sexy boi who’s most definitely more fun to hang around than Yelmalio, so you can’t blame the Esrolian priestesses for going with him. But Yelmalio also has a few advantages, so they keep the hoplites around:

Yelmalio in Esrolia revere the Light and the Little Sun, and has the same connections to elves, same obligation to protect the Earth goddesses, etc. It is just less significant.

Yelmalio has advantages for the Earth Priestesses. He is a husband-protector and thus associated (and subject to her magic like Inviolable). He’s pledged to defend them. He’s in competition with Orlanth for the privilege, which gives a counterweight against Orlanth. But his cult is small enough that it has no independent power base that make the cult a “peer” (like Orlanth, Lodril, Argan Argar, Issaries, Lhankor Mhy, and even Humakt).

One way of looking at Yelmalio is that he is a secondary husband to Ernalda, of lower status than Orlanth, but a rival for her attentions.

Waha’s Cult Limitations

Over on BRP Central there’s a RuneQuest thread about the “worst cults” which focuses for a while around Waha. I’ll spare you the min-maxing discussions to share something that I found interesting about the way cult write-ups are designed to reflect the myths. Jeff answers a question about Waha’s limitation to never have its initiates learn the Heal 2 spell (or above):

Greg’s take was because Eiritha is his mother and is always present, Waha can always go to the Herd Priestesses for friendly spirits who can heal. Greg insisted that was something key to both the cult and the culture – and I agree. Waha is the Butcher, the Taker of Life (so that we might live – food, rather than combat), and this limits the spirit magic his followers can get. But note that they have Heal Wound as common magic, and so they can always call upon the god to be healed. But of course, that requires a Rune Point plus magic points rather than just magic points.

Jeff later adds:

Greg wrote the RQ3 writeup, and Waha’s lack of much healing magic is something he wrote several essays about (including one for cults). In RQ2 Healing spirit magic was double cost, in RQ3 Greg just restricted it to 1 point as there were too many easy ways to get around that. In RQG, Greg and I let Waha have Heal Wound as part of the Common Rune magic package, figuring that the 1 Rune Point cost meant Waha cultists had access to healing magic, but it would be very expensive (and at the expense of more broadly useful spells such as Shield or Summon/Command Earth Elemental, or associated spells.

But the key point is that having Waha be comparatively weak on healing magic is there from the start.

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.

Another Round of Miniatures

Paul Baker has finished painting this assortment of Prax-related miniatures. I believe most of these are Rapier miniatures.

Coeur de Runes Updates

The previously mentioned French RPG “Coeur de Runes” has been updated to version 0.9.2 with a few tweaks, and the author has also provided separate files for the contents and the cover, for those who want to make their own print copy via Lulu.

If you’re good with French, you can also watch this interview of the author on the Vieux Geeks channel:

More Dragon Pass Tweeting

Effy continues her game of Dragon Pass (see last week’s Journal for the beginning), only with less fanfiction and more singing. Oh those poor Tarsh Exiles.

Creating a Grazelander Player Character

Runeblogger creates a Grazelander warrior called Tomiris, and you can follow along!

Below you can read how I followed the steps in the RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha rulebook to create a player character. To avoid similarities with the pregenerated characters included in the core book and the Starter Set, I decided to create a Grazelander, since the Grazelands is one of the six homelands available for beginning characters. At the bottom of this post you can download the full character sheet of the PC I created, in case you would like to use it as a player character or non-player character in your campaign.

Fun With Memes

Over on Discord, Kelephant is having fun with crossing internet memes with Glorantha, something we haven’t done much here since our interview with Steinar!

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

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

Roman Purse

This is apparently a Roman purse, worn as an arm ring: you can’t pick-pocket the coins inside without removing the whole thing from the arm…. or the arm itself.

Put A Krasue in your Game

Do you want some creepy spirit for this week’s game? How about a woman’s head with a bunch of dangling organs beneath it, hovering around marshes at night?

Creative Commons photo

This thing has a whole bunch of names, given it’s made its way through the folklore of a dozen Southeastern Asian cultures, but let’s go with the Thai name of “Krasue“.

Take your pick for what this spirit is about: maybe it’s a woman who got cursed for getting an abortion, maybe it’s a witch whose spells backfired on her, maybe you become that thing when one of these things infects you with their saliva, and so on. Sometimes they actually have a headless body left behind somewhere, which they need to protect.

I love this piece from Thai folklore:

It may attack cattle or chickens in the darkness, drinking their blood and eating their internal organs. It may also prey on pieces of cattle, such as water buffalo that have died of other causes during the night. If blood is not available the Krasue may eat feces or carrion. Clothes left outside would be found soiled with blood and excrement in the morning, allegedly after she had wiped her mouth. Therefore, villagers would not leave clothes hanging to dry outside during the night hours.

Because obviously, the most annoying thing about this absolutely terrifying thing is that it soils your fresh laundry! Oh the horror!

Noto Typeface

If you need to put some hieroglyphs or cuneiform somewhere, you could find them in this typeface from Google Font: Noto aims to have absolutely every character and pictograph known in the world!

Thank you for reading

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

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

The titular question from the Fan Use and Licensing Q&A was highlighted in Chaosium’s blog this week, surprisingly enough. The post is pretty straightforward: it concisely explains what YGWV and YGMV mean (“Your Glorantha Will/May Vary”), and how it applies to community content on the Jonstown Compendium (where Chaosium is OK with “alternative” takes on Glorantha). Sticking to the “canon” established by the Guide to Glorantha, the Glorantha Sourcebook, and other “A-level documents” is only required when writing material for official Chaosium publications. That’s pretty much it.

It’s a good opportunity however to remember what YGWV/YGMV is good for around fan communities. Wayne said it in his interview: it’s good to create a fan culture that embraces different visions of the game and its world, but it can be a tad annoying to see it thrown around any time someone asks a very simple question about the canon. A simple question should get a simple answer.

Contrary to what looks like a common Gloranthaphile misconception, questions about canon very rarely signify that someone is somehow “beholden” to canon and is, I don’t know, paralyzed without it or something. In the vast majority of cases, it signifies that someone just wants to know if there’s any established lore to start from, instead of starting from a blank page. Making your own lore has many advantages (it’s easier to remember, you can make it up on the fly), but taking already-written lore also has advantages (it’s supported by published adventures, ties more deeply into the overall setting, is possibly more thought-through).

Take it from Jeff Richard himself, who has this to say when presented with someone’s own Heortland world-building:

That is wildly non-canonical. You can go with however you want in your Glorantha of course, but it does mean that you will likely have a lot of work in front of you if you want to use any of the material coming down the pike that is set in the Holy Country.

I find the acronym “IMG” (“In My Game/Glorantha”) more useful. Nobody should need any permission to do what they want at their table, but there is value in prefacing something with a sign that the source is your game, rather than a book. But hey, Your Acronyms May Vary.

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.

Some Editorial Changes Coming

As of this month, Chaosium is properly archiving Jeff’s social media posts on the Well of Daliath. In fact, you’ll see that this week’s “Jeff Notes” section links to them, instead of the original Facebook posts. Before that, the Well of Daliath only had simple copy/pasted text without much formatting and without any accompanying media such as pictures or linked videos. These limitations were in part what made me start the “Jeff Notes” sections of this newsletter, since I figured they would act as “proper archiving”.

But now it’s time to re-evaluate this decision. With proper archiving now happening on the Well of Daliath, the only value being added in the “Jeff Notes” here are my annotations. I doubt that they’re worth reading Jeff’s posts here instead of on the Well of Daliath, so starting next week I will mostly likely simply compile the links to new entries, and annotate only those that I find interesting. Even then, the annotations will probably be much shorter than what you’ve been used to.

Do you think this is a good direction for the Journal? Do you have suggestions? Contact me here with your thoughts!

God Learner Sorcery

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

Episode 11: The Travels of Biturian Varosh (Part 4)

It’s a bit late but episode 11 of our podcast is finally out! Drew Baker joins us again to follow the travels of Biturian Varosh, which is doubly appropriate since he was with us for part 3, and his latest book is about travelling in Dragon Pass!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Quick! Campaign Coins Discount!

© 2022 Campaign Coins & Chaosium Inc.

Campaign Coins, makers of cool imaginary coins and other gamer-adjacent tokens, have a short-lived 10% discount on their RuneQuest coins, which include all the coins described in the Guide to Glorantha and RuneQuest rulebook. The coupon code is YELMAL10, but it’s only valid until midnight on May 9th… that’s tomorrow Monday, so hurry up!

More MIG3 Previews

Photo by Nick Brooke, MIG © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Advance copies of the Meints Index to Glorantha were handed out at ChaosiumCon to contributors and special friends, but if you’re not one of those (like, say, Nick Brooke who has all three pictured above), then you can take a peek at these previews shared by Rick Meints:

The book should come out “soon”, probably via print-on-demand. It has 264 pages of Glorantha-related publishing history including all the information you never thought you wanted to know about all the different printings of RuneQuest 2nd edition, the miniature lines, the fanzines, and more.

Heroquesting Rules

In case you were getting confused about when and how the much anticipated heroquesting rules for RuneQuest would see the light, here’s the latest information gleaned from Facebook and BRP Central:

  1. The also-quite-anticipated RuneQuest Gamemaster Guide (which was cross-referenced in the rulebook four years ago!) will have the “core” heroquesting rules.
  2. A “full-fledged heroquesting book” will also be later published.

My educated guess is that this second book will include a sort of gazetteer of the hero and god planes. This will most likely include various maps (such as the one below that Jeff shared a couple times online), with details of what you might find in each location, who you might encounter, what sort of challenge they might give you, and what sort of boons and banes you might come out with.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff made this clear:

[…] it is VITAL that we get this right. Feedback from conventions, sessions for game designers, and other playtesting suggests we are pretty much there, but this links into SO MANY things that we need to do it right.

In other words, this won’t get published until Chaosium is happy about it, which means it might get delayed some more.

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 Six Paths

Edan Jones has just released The Six Paths, a book on “gender among the Heortlings”, illustrated by Katrin Dirim. This short book gives some information about how the many sexes and genders of the Orlanthi might look like (remember that the rulebook mentions 4 sexes and 6 genders in their culture), includes detailed write-ups for Heler, Nandan, and Vinga, and wraps up with several NPCs who belong to these cults.

The book is pay-what-you-want, but the authors ask that you give at least 50 cents to keep the product in the community content rankings. They also encourage you to donate some money to your local LGBTQ charity.

Duckpac Preview

Neil Gibson and Drew Baker are teasing Duckpac, a collection of supplements for Durulz characters! Releasing later this month on the Jonstown Compendium, the whole thing is modelled after the classic Trollpak structure:

  1. Book One is “facts, lore, history & legends” about the ducks.
  2. Book Two is for making a duck adventurer.
  3. Book Three will have some duck-focused scenarios.
  4. Book Four is a bit extra: it’s a solo-quest named “Redfeather Dreaming”. In fact, Neil had mentioned it in our gamemastering episode, when he was our guest, asking for playtesters.

The whole thing was too big to release as a single book, especially when you consider that anything over 200 pages or so tends to sell a lot less unless the author is ready to slash prices past any kind of sustainable point.

Andrasta’s Ring

Ernesto Orellana has been teasing a book about the Alone Confederation in northern Sartar:

Xavier and I can’t wait for this supplement to be released. An ambitious project with the tribes of Alone and their intrigues as background.

I’m very excited about this since the Alone area is where I’ve setup my own campaign. I’m sure my take on the area will be wildly different from Ernesto’s and Xavier’s…

Six Saisons en Sartar

Jonathan Springfield and 7Tigers have announced that a French translation of Six Seasons in Sartar is in progress.

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.

Also, note the editorial change coming next week, mentioned at the top of the newsletter.

The Adventures of Young Argrath

Jeff talks about the adventures of Young Argrath:

One thing we likely do not play around with enough is the iconography of Argrath’s adventures from 1621-1624. In Teshnos, he defeated elephants by cutting off their noses. He took the Emerald Frog from Teleos, and gained the friendship of the Purple People. In Flanch he was betrayed and trapped by the “eating trees” but survived and had his vengeance for their treachery. In Laskal, he helped Harrek against the Bat Hsunchen. Argrath was one of those who found the Iron City in Jrustela, and helped plunder Noloswal. And many more adventures as well.

I wonder if perhaps Argrath might sometimes be identified with an elephant helmet like Alexander or similar representations of his adventures in fantastic faraway lands.

Indeed, Alexander met Persian elephants in battle. The first time was possibly the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BCE, although disappointingly there might have only been 15 elephants there, and they might have been retired because of fatigue. Alexander prevailed thanks to better organized troops and better tactics but Argrath, as always, is an asshole who goes into animal cruelty right away. I wonder if there’s any Chalana Arroy subcult analogous to PETA… anyway, Jeff points at this depiction of Alexander (below) when he writes about the “elephant helmet”.

Creative Commons photo

It’s almost certain that Alexander never wore such a helmet (in fact he’s often depicted on coins with various helmets he most likely never wore), but Argrath? He’s been drawn with crazier helmets, so who knows.

Ok, now let’s look at all these places and people mentioned casually in this laundry list of feats.

Teleos is a big tropical island just east of Magasta’s Pool, in the centre of the ocean. Argrath got there while circumnavigating Glorantha with his buddy Harrek and the Wolf Pirates. Anyway, Teleos is one of these weird Gloranthan things, where the six human tribes who live there each have a different skin colour (blue, green, orange, purple, red, and yellow). The little I found is that Argrath supposedly “helped the purple tribe” and “came away with the Emerald Frog”, also known as the “Eater of Souls”. It might have been a good thing because the “curse dividing people of Teleos by color” was ended after that.

Sandy Petersen has some wild theories about what that might be about, but we won’t go into that (you can find them in the Kraken transcripts of his “More Forgotten Secrets of Glorantha” panel).

Flanch is in the broader region of Maslo, all the way down south, in Pamaletela (we can see that Argrath’s youth was a giant cosmic road-trip… well, sea-trip I guess). It’s a jungle with Agimori cities dotting the shorline (the Agimori are like the Gloranthan Africans, basically). These cities are in constant warfare with the yellow elves that control the dense jungle that covers much of the land. They have “warriors who specialize in fighting against the elves”, so maybe if you have an elf problem, you can visit there to get a few pointers.

Laskal is also down in Pamaltela. This Bat Hsunchen stuff might be fun to play, though. There are 120k “bat people” around Fonrit, and while different tribes are associated with different sorts of bats as their animal totem, the main religious people are associated with the vampire bat. It’s hard not to get adventure ideas, right? Bonus point: the bat people sort of unified most of the local Hsunchen people in 1613 under the “Pujaleg Empire”, which is powerful enough to get tribute from the cities of Laskal. When the were-vampire-bats come to town, you better have your blood offering at the door…

Among his strangest adventures must have been against the Pujaleg Bat People. Argrath aided Harrek in defeating them, and the White Bear established himself as the ruler of Banamba aka Laskal.

Argrath, Harrek, and the Wolf Pirates beat up the bat people in 1622, among other kinds of local magical shenanigans. But when it looked like they might have to be actually in charge of the place, they got away to seek more adventures elsewhere. Way to go, guys! Responsibilities are for chumps.

I’m not sure what Iron City is… there’s an Iron City just at the edge of the gigantic whirlpool that sits at the centre of the ocean, but when it comes to Argrath, most sources talk about an Iron City in Jrustela. This is Glorantha, so it’s equally possible that this is a city that exists in two places at the same time, or spans thousands of kilometres underwater, or, you know, Greg forgot that he had already named something else “Iron City” and now there are two of them.

And with Noloswal, we are out of the Pamaltelan wilderness adventures and back to Genertela. This is a large city in Southern Seshnela is up the Tanier river. It’s actually the greatest port in Seshnela so, you know, of course the Wolf Pirates are going to plunder it. This is pretty impressive since the Navy of Nolos is based there… but maybe they had some allies that day: Argrath had previously gotten cozy with some locals from Pithdaros, near the mouth of the river:

In Pithdaros, Argrath even reportedly aided Hunralki, a powerful shaman from Jolar.

With all this travelling, Jeff suspects that, “like Conan, […] Argrath speaks at least a smattering in a LOT of languages“. Jeff’s suggestions include Sartarite, Stormspeech, Tradetalk, Spirit Speech, Praxian, Yggite, Old Pavic, Auld Wyrmish, New Pelorian, Teshnite, Banamban, Teleon, Seshnelan, Esrolian. Plus maybe Flanchite and Doraddi. So if your adventurers meet Argrath, he might say hi in their native language!

And again, this part of Argrath goes back to his earliest appearances. He is the Adventurer King, who may very well have been the template for what we know now as Orlanth Adventurous.

And Orlanth Adventurous got very short shrift in the old Hero Wars material. Nowadays I think he may well be one of the great engines of the cosmos.

The Revolution of 1627-1629

We looked at Argrath’s early years, now let’s look at his future. This goes into the hero-wars meta-plot stuff from King of Sartar and the Guide to Glorantha, which I haven’t delved too much into yet because it all seems so far away from my current campaign date of 1617!

What took place in Dragon Pass between those years was a revolution as great as any in Gloranthan history. At the start, the Principality of Sartar had nearly collapsed and was poised to tear itself apart in tribal strife. By the end of 1629, it had established itself as the dominant power in Dragon Pass and the former Holy Country.

Even more remarkable, the Sartarites had confronted the Lunar Army led by the Red Emperor and Jar-eel the Razoress and soundly defeated it. They did this with an army that matched every strength of the Lunar Army – the Lunar Cavalry Corps met equally spirited Praxian and Sartarite cavalry and the Lunar College of Magic was overwhelmed by the new Sartar Magical Union. Worse yet, Sartar revealed its own heroes – Harrek the Berserk and Gunda the Guilty.

This Battle of Heroes should be a grand moment of your campaign. Rune Lords, shamans, Rune priests, warriors, healers, Tricksters, Illuminates, sorcerers – all get their chance to shrine at Glorantha’s equivalent of the Kurukshetra War or the Trojan War or Gaugamela or whatever epic battle you can imagine.

You might be familiar with the classic Trojan War, and we recently talked about Gaugamela where Alexander faced Persians elephants. No Gloranthan historical bingo card would be complete without a Mahabarata reference, so yes, the Kurukshetra War is from there. But don’t worry, you can watch the movie version, too:

You can compare this Bollywood face-off between Arjuna and Karna to the 19th century painting below… pretty much the same, right?

Afterwards, Glorantha is changed. Argrath marries Inkarne and becomes the King of Dragon Pass. Heroes are in great demand, defeating monsters, Elder Races, and making it possible for a new Kingdom of Dragon Pass to be a moment of long-remembered glory.

Inkarne is of course the Feathered Horse Queen, since marrying her is the way to become King of Dragon Pass. She got the title after her sister Vistera died in the Dragonrise… but, of note, unlike all the pro-Lunars who died there, she was actually super anti-Lunar. She “made a terrible pact to awaken the Dragons”, and died “witnessing her schemes reaching fruition”.

With this we enter an Orlanthi Golden Age of adventure and heroism and the King of Dragon Pass competes as a peer to the Red Emperor. But of course, it is in the nature of Golden Ages to end….

If you started playing in 1625 when RuneQuest was released, you might actually be in 1629 by now so this is useful:

And so after 1629, key parts of the setting have changed. Sartar is unified, rich and powerful, with a powerful cavalry army and a Sartar Magical Union. The Prince of Sartar is married to the Feathered Horse Queen and is King of Dragon Pass and Leader of the Sacred League (or whatever we are calling his Holy Country allies). It is only a matter of time before Furthest falls to the Prince. Adventurers are sent forth to fight monsters, gain magic, and extend the Prince’s authority. Praxian beasts get to graze on Kordros Island and in the maize fields along the Oslir.

Meanwhile the Lunar Empire reels and enters a prolonged crisis. Civil war and dangerous introspection. And of course, as the Red Goddess turns to her Black Phase we should be aware that she always continues turning. Nothing is always Dying. And even the Dead come to Life.

If we want any comparison post 1629 are comparable to the Conquest and Tournament Phases of Pendragon.

Here Jeff doesn’t reference the Pendragon RPG in general, but the Great Pendragon Campaign specifically, I think. This legendary campaign is divided into various “periods” of the Arthur myth: the King Uther prequels, the Boy King period, and so on. The Conquest period is when factions from all around Europe come into play. The Tournament period is when Arthur’s realm is relatively peaceful for a few years, and the player knights alternate between heroic adventures and great tournaments across the kingdom.

The Battle of Heroes makes an incredibly epic end to a volume of your campaign. Characters can fight their great enemies on a battle field boiling with spirits, elementals, and Rune Magic. Scores can be settled, characters can die gloriously or live in triumph. Think the Iliad or the Mahabharata.

The Battle of Heroes happens in 1628, and it’s what starts off this new “golden age”, Argrath’s reign as Prince of Sartar and King of Dragon Pass. According to several documents, the Battle of Heroes is when Harrek kills Jar-eel, among other things, but hey, who knows, maybe the historians got it wrong. Play to find out.

Fighting at the Battle of Heroes should be an epic event for your players. Survive it and you have a good chance of being one of the Companions of Argrath, effectively a Knight of the Round Table, one of the makers of this new Kingdom of Dragon Pass.

The participants at the Battle of Heroes is pretty much a Who’s Who of Sartar and the Lunar Empire. The Red Emperor, Jar-eel, Beet-Pot, Pharandros, Argrath, Harrek, Gunda, Jaldon Goldentooth, Leika Blackspear, Vamastal Greyskin, and pretty much every Wind Lord, Storm Voice, Sword Lord, Storm Khan, and Rune Lord you could shake a stick at.

I’m sure that many gamemasters will complain along the lines of “what are the puny adventurers supposed to do in such a big battle, especially if all the superhero NPCs are doing the heavy lifting, and the outcome is decided anyway?” I think the key is to give important missions to the players, and to change the degree of outcome accordingly. For instance, the adventurers might have the responsibility to setup Jar-eel nicely for Harrek: they might have to steal some McGuffin to lure her in, or maneuver troops to get her separated from her elite warrior entourage, or whatever. Regardless of whether the players succeed or fail, Harrek kills Jar-eel… but the difference is whether Harrek is happy about their performance, or whether he had to kill Jar-eel plus an entire platoon of Lunar hoplites that weren’t supposed to be there… “Hey Argrath, mate, didn’t you send some assholes to make sure that wouldn’t happen? I lost two hundred men because of this shit! What are you going to do about it?!” I’m sure that this sort of outcome has just as much impact on the players and the campaign, compared to whether the Sartarites or the Lunars win.

Another way of looking at this is the Battle of Heroes is a “shared event” – like the Dragonrise or Starbrow’s Rebellion or the Lunar Conquest of Boldhome – that changes the dynamics of the setting. The difference is that it is intended that your characters be able to participate in this event, gain glory or loss, and then branch off from it.

[…] like any good epic battle, I am sure there were plenty of monologues, philosophical and mystical speeches, and more. Can’t wait to send another group of players there!

Anyway, back to the main thread:

In the aftermath of the battle, as we all know, the Lunars suffered the worst defeat the Lunar Army had taken in battle since the era of Sheng Seleris.

The Red Emperor fled along the road to Furthest. He left the Bagnot and 2nd Furthest Foot behind in Bagnot.

The Sartarites lost comparatively minor casualties. Argrath followed up with an assault of Bagnot, but afterwards he was prevented from marching on Furthest by Harrek, who reminded him of his promise to attack Black Horse County. And so the Sartarite army marched unopposed to Dunstop. He garrisoned both cities but then headed into the Grazelands before beginning his famous campaign against Muse Roost.

While in the Grazelands, Argrath met and courted the Feathered Horse Queen and sent his companions to perform tasks on her behalf. The White Bull was said to be smitten by the charms and the wiles of the Feathered Horse Queen.

The companions here would, of course, include the player characters… well, assuming you play in a “followers of Argrath” campaign. Generally speaking, the hero-wars meta-plot might work a lot better if the players follow one of those big NPCs, so that’s something to discuss in session zero.

Meanwhile the Red Emperor did not tarry in Furthest, but fled to Mirin’s Cross and then on to Glamour. During the Sacred Time rites, he was murdered by the Great Sister, beginning the Lunar Civil War.

Big picture – the Lunar Empire clearly underestimated Argrath. They figured they were dealing with a traditional uprising or the kingdom of Sartar circa 1602, with maybe a hero or three. Instead, they were completely outclassed in magical units. The Red Emperor got the bulk of the blame here by the egi, which resulted in his sacrifice.

The City of Wonders

Let’s talk about the City of Wonders, the magical place at the heart of the Holy Country:

Belintar was a sacred figure, not a political or administrative figure. That’s really really hard for us moderns to wrap our head around, but Belintar’s main function was to be a conduit between the Mundane World and the Gods Realm. He’s a Living God, acknowledged by everyone in the Holy County. His palace was in the Hero Plane and to visit him was to enter it. At the City of Wonders, one might encounter gods and spirits, emissaries and ambassadors.

So less like an actual King, and more like, say, Ra in Stargate. He’s a God, and he has better things to do than discuss taxes and temple renovations with you.

Of course mundane people also lived in the City of Wonders – at its height (around 1600) it had perhaps 50,000 people or more making it bigger than Raibanth. It was vacated in 1616 after the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death failed to produce a new incarnation of Belintar – without Belintar’s presence, the City did not function for mortals. Only a few people, such as the rulers of the Sixths, could even open the paths to the City.

During its height (1320 to 1616), the City of Wonders deserved its name. The Library (also called the University) was the greatest in the world, with scholars from across the world. Humans, triolini, trolls, spirits, and gods mingled there. Amazing things like the Tricksters Theater and the Theater of Drama showed the possibilities of Illusion. The Sea Bazaar let merchants trade with far off triolini realms. I hear the best sea food in the world was there!

The City of Wonders was familiar to the Sartar Dynasty. Sartar himself was known to have been there, and perhaps gained many of his insights from Belintar himself. Tarkalor lived there for a time, as did many of his descendants. Like Nochet, the City of Wonders greatly influenced the young kingdom at Boldhome, which in its own way is an echo of the City of Wonders.

Sounds like a great place (I know one of my players would love to visit this Tricksters Theater!), too bad it’s gone before the main timeline starts… It’s tricky to get there before 1616 even with the “classic” RQ2 timeline.

However, I figure that a gamemaster could include the City of Wonders in their game with a bit of effort. They can foreshadow it with NPCs who’ve been there in their youth, artifacts coming from there being sold expensively at the city’s market, and so on. Maybe later the adventurers are sent to retrieve documents that originally came from the Library. And later still they get a glimpse of the City on the hero plane during some heroquest… until eventually they visit its magical echoes? Or something like that…

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

But the City of Wonders is now gone. Plundered and destroyed by Harrek the Berserk and now lost to the world.

I would say “goddammit, Harrek, stop fucking up everything” but Jeff has this to say:

The Golden Age must be killed for the story to start.

Orlanth had to kill Yelm. Zorak Zoran had to kill Flamal. Eurmal had to kill Grandfather Mortal. Death was necessary for the cycle of life and death to begin.

So remember how all the people who lived in the City of Wonders vacated it quickly when the magic started failing? Like I said earlier, they can show up in your campaign, but really they show up everywhere:

Now that diaspora from the City of Wonders ends up spreading this magical knowledge throughout the area. Imagine that diaspora going to Nochet, Whitewall, New Pavis, Boldhome, Wolf Pirates, etc. Even a few go to the Lunar Empire. And many end up influencing Sartar like the Chans, Leika Black Spear, Tarkala the Lover, etc. I suspect this is the origin story for many who end up in the Sartar Magical Union.

Combine this with the knowledge gained from participation in the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, Argrath’s combination of Praxian vision quest + circumnavigation of the Homeward Ocean, and the swirling maelstrom caused by the Lunar wars in the Holy Country, and we have a perfect storm for the Hero Wars.

This is the environment we open with in 1625. And into that storm comes Argrath, Harrek, and Gunda.

If you are playing in an early era, here’s some useful information:

But let’s imagine the City of Wonders circa 1614. Many influential exiles from Starbrow’s Rebellion have likely taken up residency here, or at least have come to have an audience with Belintar. The City of Wonders is tied to Nochet, no doubt there is much shipment of grain and other foodstuffs to the City of Wonders (it is far too small an island to be self-sufficient).

When I think of the City of Wonders, I think some sort of fabulous version of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco:

Creative Commons photo

And remember, the City of Wonders was vacated only nine years ago (from the default starting date of 1625) and finally disappeared from the Mundane World only LAST YEAR.

And so although we as gamers have likely done very little with the City of Wonders, our characters must feel its absence like a hole. A manifestation of the Golden Age or the Unity, lost forever to the conflict between Storm and Moon. A wondrous unifying dream destroyed by war and ambition.

Like Hy-Brasil, Ys, or Atlantis, the City of Wonders now exists only in our dreams. ALTHOUGH…. there are those who claim to have entered it from the Hero Plane.

This dream of Unity has been briefly achieved and then lost to war and conflict many times in Glorantha. One might even say that is a key theme of the setting.

Different Experiences of a Deity

Here’s a brief but interesting (to me) post from BRP Central about how gods and cults differ between different regions of Glorantha:

I find different “experiences” of the god a more accurate description than [different “interpretations” of the god]. In Prax, we typically experience the Thunder God as the Thunder Bird, and so we view him mainly as the Adventurous young god. In Pavis, the Sartarites brought the Dragon Pass Orlanth and so of course we know of Thunderous and Rex. But those aspects rarely manifest in Prax – perhaps the Dragon Pass Orlanth is just mightier than the Orlanth of Prax? Perhaps here his brother is mightier, nearest to his place of victory and close to his Raging Storms? We experience those often, worst of all being the terrible Copper Winds.

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.

Helmets!

Katrin Dirim draw some shields a couple weeks ago, and now she’s drawing some helmets! And they’re lovely, as usual. You can play the game of which helmet is from which homeland… there are many obvious ones, but a couple where I’m not sure.

Livetweet (Somewhat) of Dragon Pass

Eff (if you’ve been around any Gloranthan online community, you know her…) has kinda-live-tweeted parts of a game of Dragon Pass, the old 1980 board game. I’m just posting a few select pictures here, but check out the Twitter threads for the turn-by-turn explanations, and the fan-fiction that goes with it.

Start with the setup, then follows each turn here, here, and here.

Troll Votive Offerings

Andrew Joliffe found those illustrations (above) and wondered if they could be a good inspiration for some Uz votive images (the drawings are of items found in a Massagetan Warrior grave, published in the Antiquity Journal volume 64 issue 243). Andrew figured that “yes, these look nice”, so he actually made a model:

The idea, I belive, is to then cast it in metal.

RPGImaginings on Six Seasons in Sartar

What it says in the title! I agree with the host that Six Seasons in Sartar is great to shed some much needed light onto some of the obscure or hard-to-picture cultural and religious aspects of Orlanthi life.

Bud’s RPG Review on Six Season in Sartar

Incidentally, Bud, from Bud’s RPG Review, has also started a series on Six Seasons in Sartar! The first video is for members and patrons only, but I’m sure it will become public eventually.

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.

Slings, with Lindybeige

As mentioned last week, I kept watching other videos from Lindybeige! I really like his series on slings, which starts with the video above (there’s a handful of other videos on the subject, too, and I recommend you watch them all!) The bit about where and how to carry a sling at the beginning is just gold!

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.

The next episode of the podcast was supposed to be released this week but it’s running late by a few days. We had some last minute change of plans and had to scramble a bit, sorry about that.

This is an otherwise pretty quiet week in Gloranthan circles, which is good because I was busy anyway.

God Learner Sorcery

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

On the Concerning Normalization of the Spirit World

I managed to translate one of those ancient documents we keep finding around our wizard tower. It points at yet another side-effect of the God Learners’ studies, this time on the Spirit World and the magic that can be drawn from it… if you were wondering why the Red Book of Magic has so many Rune Spells compared to the Spirit Magic, here’s your explanation.

We are members of the Collective Chapters in Maniria, Wenelia, and Kethaela, sharing deep concerns about observed phenomena affecting the Spirit World. With most of the Collective’s budget and resources going to research in the theoretical Runic and applied Burtae/Srvuali departments, Spirit taxonomy and study has been rushed and overly simplified for the past four decades. In particular, projects such as the Worship Interchange Stability Experimentation and Assessment has left any Spirit-related studies scrambling for funding, especially now that its consequences are starting to be understood. Although we understand the value of these projects, we are deeply disturbed by the changes we are witnessing in the Spirit World and we urge the Council to turn their attention to them.

Read the rest here. Thanks to Austin Conrad for pointing me to some related detail from the Guide to Glorantha, which I quickly worked into the article just after it was published.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

RuneQuest Fantasy Grounds Update

MadBeardMan keeps on chugging along on this (along with a few other modules for other game systems). Here’s a preview of the combat tracker, and a preview of the Starter Set scenario content (do not zoom in if you don’t want spoilers for the introduction scenario “A Rough Landing”).

© 2022 Fantasy Grounds & Chaosium Inc.
© 2022 Fantasy Grounds & Chaosium Inc.

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!

Glorantha Settlement 16

© 2022 Mikael Mansen & Chaosium Inc.

Mikael Mansen has released another generic settlement map. You know the drill.

History of Malkionism Gets Extras

© 2022 Nick Brooke, Katrin Dirim & Chaosium Inc.

Nick Brooke’s History of Malkionism, illustrated by Katrin Dirim, has reached the level of Silver Best Seller and is now halfway to Electrum. To celebrate the occasion, they added 26 pages of bonus content, and then bumped that up to 33 pages of bonus content. It includes behind-the-scenes “emails, group chat logs, sketches and line-art showing how the first sixteen illustrations were created (Before Time, Dawn Age Seshneg, Arkat’s Crusade Against Chaos & The God Learners)

For instance, you’ll find the art direction notes and explorations for the picture below, among several others.

© 2022 Nick Brooke, Katrin Dirim & Chaosium Inc.

If you want to see what the God Learners look like, it’s in there!

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.

Joh Mith’s Tattoos

Jeff continues to share the concept art for NPCs’ tattoos, this time with Joh Mith (we had previously seen Vasana and Vamastal). As far as I remember, these diagrams are mostly for art direction and future consistency.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Joh Mith is a Goldentongue Issaries Priest, and a member of the Jonstown City Council. You can find more about him in the RuneQuest Starter Set‘s Jonstown write-up (my review is here). In his youth, he was running a famous trade caravan to Balazar, as described in Griffin Mountain.

Before you take a closer look, please note that:

The reference to Nida is a misprint (and fixed in the final version). It is about Greatway.

Greatway is a big dwarf settlement in the mountain range that separates Dragon Pass from Balazar. With Joh’s markings, it looks like you can not just trade with those dwarves, but also get safe passage through some local pass which lets you avoid a long detour via Lunar lands. There are also two marks specifically for traversing the Vale of Flowers, which you have to go through to get to Greatway: a friendship with the Bee Tribe Queen, who rules over some Gorakiki trolls there (the mark is on the belly, which is appropriate for some troll marking), and some spirit protection which I’m not sure about (it’s on Joh’s back, possibly to tell the local Vale’s elves “hey don’t shoot me!“)

What I love about it is you can see some of the strange pacts he’s had to make in order to travel between Sartar and Balazar.

Joh even has some general markings for treating people nicely:

The Mark of Friendly Passage is a general mark showing that Joh Mith is neutral in conflicts and should be allowed passage.

Other interesting tattoos include some sort of dual initiation into both the Malani and Colymar tribes. This is possibly because he’s originally from the Malani tribe, but is married to a Colymar member.

Early Malkionism

Here’s a quick note on early Malkionism:

Early Malkionism is thought to have been composed of sacrificial rituals, sorceries techniques and spells, legal proscriptions and philosophical speculations. Later Hrestolism preserved the rationalism and philosophical elements of early Malkionism and developed new philosophical schools, the most text being Romanism [sic? Rokarism?] and New Hrestolism.

Malkionism is the general family of philosophies which trace their origins back to Malkion, a bad-ass mythical wizard from before Time. These philosophies disagree on, say, whether society should be based on castes, and whether choice and mobility between these castes should be possible… but they all agree on wizards doing wizardy things, such as stroking their beard, hanging out in their towers, badmouthing deities which they consider to be just powerful spirits who mess up the Runes that make up the universe, and thinking very hard on various things nobody cares about.

But parallel to this exist uncomfortably Arkatism. With its emphasis on deities, heroquesting, and a respect for traditional practices despite their contradictions, Arkatism is the Shadow of Malkionism’s rationality.

And we can see plenty of traces of Arkatism in Second and Third Age Orlanthi thought – particularly in Kethaela and Dragon Pass.

So as far as I understand, Arkatism eschews the intellectual masturbation of the Malkioni. Instead, Arkati uphold ancient traditions and worship deities because, well, you can get cool Rune Magic from that, I guess. And that doesn’t eat into your Free INT.

I can’t really speak to the role and influence of Arkatism into Orlanthi culture and religion though… that stuff goes right over my head.

When we think of Arkatism, remember that it consists of many elements:

– A monomyth with heavy focus on Air and Darkness (think that presented in Cults of Terror and Trollpak)
– Heroquesting techniques including Ranging, Joining, Identify, Awaken, and Change – all are presented in song and story and are the focus of meditation, prayer, and other approaches to understanding.
– An acceptance of Darkness and Death as necessary counterparts to Light and Life.
– Extreme uses of Power Runes often in conjunction with their opposites.

You can see many elements of this in the Proximate Holy Realm of the Second Age and with the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, as well as more rationalised elements with the God Learners.

To learn a bit more on the aforementioned heroquesting techniques, look over here. Here’s my understanding of them:

  • Ranging: leaving a myth’s “path” mid-way and starting another myth.
  • Joining: catching a myth mid-way
  • Identify: naming yourself or an entity met during a heroquest as a specific mythical archetype (“I am the Storm god”, “you are the Trickster”, etc.)
  • Awaken: I think that’s when you grab some “shadow-entity” from the background of the god plane and bring it into the story. It’s sort of like upgrading a faceless extra into an NPC that actually does something instead of just being there in the decor.
  • Change: I assume it’s got to do with changing the myth (see “Mutation” in the link above).

Arkatism will be mentioned in the upcoming Cults book, but just barely:

Arkatism is seeded throughout the Cults book. For the modern “Arkat cults” of Ralios we will wait for a better vehicle. Needless to say the modern Arkat cults are not what influenced other religions.

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.

JM and Evan’s ChaosimCon Recap

JM and Evan, from Iconic Production’s Exploring Glorantha series, talk about their experience at ChaosiumCon (I get a quick mention!) You can read my own report here.

Update on Red Moon and Warring Kingdoms

The Red Moon and Warring Kingdoms is an ongoing project for the 13th Age fanzine “Escalation”. It’s a 13th Age Glorantha sourcebook that focuses on the Lunar side of things. There was a call for volunteer editors back in 2020.

The book will establish the central conflict in the region and provide a history and gazetteer, serving as an primer to those 13th Age Glorantha players who were introduced to the setting in the 13G core book. It will also offer new classes, playable races, and feats.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc & Pelgrane Press

If you don’t know about this game, 13th Age Glorantha is a, well, Glorantha version of 13th Age, the D20 fantasy RPG by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. If you want to play in Glorantha but your players don’t want to play anything else than D&D, this is a great option. Plus, it contains a lot of great takes on Glorantha that you might not find elsewhere. Warning, however: this is not a standalone book, you’ll need the core 13th Age rulebook at least, and maybe a sourcebook or two.

Anyway, Evan Franke (yes, of Exploring Glorantha!) is working with Escalation on this special Lunarized issue, and he posted an update this week:

Hi! I’m the principal author on this fan project. It is still in editing (and map drawing) and still has layout and art ahead as well (and also compliance review with fan publication policies). It started as a little home brew project and grew to about 140,000 words. Many of them are pretty good. Much like Chaosium, I and the folks helping me at Escalation can’t say exactly when this will be out, but we’ve made a lot of progress. This is year four of this “little” project, but it’s coming.

And here is Evan’s “draft regional overview map with political areas highlighted“:

© 2022 Evan Franke & Escalation Magazine

If there’s a map, I have to buy it. I don’t make the rules, folks.

Evan also pointed people to this actual play from last year, as if I didn’t already have too many actual plays in my YouTube “Watch Later” list…

Note that issue 5 of Escalation was already a Glorantha special, so you can start there if you want.

© 2022 Escalation Magazine

All other issues of the magazine are here in the Vault of the 13th Age.

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.

Quick! Put Your Hoplite Armor On!

The Lindybeige YouTube channel has a lot of interesting stuff for anybody interested in ancient or medieval history. It’s got both informal lectures and actual practical videos, such as the one above where the host measures how long it takes to put on a standard hoplite armor (plus some tips and insightful information about the gear).

I’ll probably check out more of the videos and post those that I find relevant to Gloranthan gaming (I’ve already spotted some about shield walls, slings, and spear usage…) If you have specific ones to recommend, please send them to me!

Thank you for reading

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