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

God Learner Sorcery

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

Scaldic Staves from the Stacks

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

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Many More Eulogies Surface after Steve Perrin’s Passing

Steve Perrin and Greg Stafford in 2018

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

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

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

George R.R. Martin on Steve Perrin

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

Photo by Wayne Books, Superworld © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

James Davis Nicoll on Steve Perrin

Photo by Mike M, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

The White Bull Campaign

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

Vote for Chaosium and their Community Members at the ENNIES

© 2021 Chaosium Inc. and all respective authors

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

The Unpublished Forth Volume of the Sartar Rising Campaign

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

Pictures courtesy of Rick Meints, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

Jonstown Compendium

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

South Pelorian Highlands

© 2021 Anders Tonnberg and Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

The Company of the Dragon is Out in Print!

© 2021 Andrew Logan Montgomery and Chaosium Inc.

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

LEGION in Print is on Sale!

© 2021 Neil Gibson and Chaosium Inc.

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

Armies and Enemies of Dragon Pass in Print?

© 2021 Martin Heldson and Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

Jeff’s Notes

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

How many arms?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art by Lisa Free, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

Clans of Sartar

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

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

A few remarks:

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

Sailing around the Mirrorsea Bay

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

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

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

Photo from DK Find Out

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

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

Picture from the British Museums Greenwich

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

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

Picture from D&T Online

More on Boldhome Pockets

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

Cartography by Matt Ryan, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

Well, I can’t wait to see more maps!

Sartarite Military

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

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

Art by Ossi Hiekkala, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

About cavalries:

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

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

About warrior societies:

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

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

Finally, about mercenaries:

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

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

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

Vinga by Katrin Dirim

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

Art by Katrin Dirim, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Community Roundup

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

Human Sacrifice

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

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

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

Newt Newport Starts “Arkat’s Playground”

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

© 2021 D101 Games

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

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

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

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

RPG Imaginings on the Red Book of Magic

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

Thank you for reading

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

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

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

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

Invocation

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

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

Copper Tablets Explained

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

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

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

The Skald’s lament

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

I Fought We Won and Ritual of the Net

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

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

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

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Vale and Farewell Steve Perrin (1946-2021)

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

Art by Luise Perrin, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

Thanks for all the severed left legs, Steve.

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

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

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

Steve Perrin: Creating RuneQuest

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

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

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

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

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

The White Bull Campaign

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

Some Rare Wargaming Booklets with Glorantha as Setting Option

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

Photo by Rick Meints, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

Anyway, Rick says:

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

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

RuneQuest Starter Set Release Dates… Maybe

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

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

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

Picture by Rick Meints, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GROGNARDIA Interviews Rick Meints

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

RuneQuest for Fantasy Grounds

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

Jonstown Compendium

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

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

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

Picture by John, Andrew’s US-based friend

Andrew also notes the following about prices:

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

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

Two Jonstown Compendium Products Contending for the Ennies

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

© 2021 multiple artists and authors, and Chaosium Inc.

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

Community Roundup

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

Comparing the Peaks of Dragon Pass

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

Sketch by Matt Ryan, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

The Elmal vs Yelmalio Clarifications Continue

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the original message:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on the Pockets of Boldhome

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

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

Notes on Saird

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

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

Jeff concludes:

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

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

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

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

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

RuneQuest Actual Plays and Play Reports

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

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

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

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

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

Two Documents from Eight Arms and the Mask

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

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

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

How Ancient Bronze Body Armour Was Made By Hand

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

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

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

D-Infinity’s 1D8 Magical Treasures

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

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

When Orcs Were Real

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

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

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

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

Curetes Street in Ancient Ephesus

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

Virtual reconstruction by Ádám Németh
Virtual reconstruction by Ádám Németh

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

Tehotihuacan and Tikal

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

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

Thank you for reading

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

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

Introduction

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

God Learner Sorcery

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

First Time Myth, Pivotal Features of the Godtime

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

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Gen Con Online is Back

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

© 2021 Gen Con

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

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

The White Bull Campaign

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

QuestWorlds Update

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

But otherwise: review, edit, art direction, layout

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

Jonstown Compendium

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

Teaser for The Last Riddle

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

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

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

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

Madness. Illumination. Terror.

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

Community Roundup

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

Picturing the Pelorian Bowl

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

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

[…]

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

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

Also:

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

Jeff pictures this when he thinks of Peloria:

Photo by Edwin Olson

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

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

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

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

A few other notes:

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

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

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

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

More Pelorian Details

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

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

Picture by Robert Niedźwiedzki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff tells us more about Alkoth, actually:

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

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

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

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

Public domain picture

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

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

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

©1997 Neil Robinson and Chaosium Inc.

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

Shannon Appelcline Scenario Choice for RPG-a-Day

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

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

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

Beer With Teeth’s RPG-A-Day

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

©2021 Beer With Teeth

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

50 Years of Text Games on King of Dragon Pass

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

© 2021 A Sharp

The opening paragraphs are already quite impressive:

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

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

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

© 2021 A Sharp

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

What Happened to Tradetalk Magazine?

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

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

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

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

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

In 2009 our last issue was Tradetalk 17.

Why we stopped publishing Tradetalk?

Many reasons:

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

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

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

That’s a Big Map

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

Picture by Ludovic Chabant

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

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

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

Meet Jackie, The Real Melo Yelo

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

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

Go Big Or Go Home

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

Picture by Onder Kokturk

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

© 2021 Mozaik Education

La Porte d’Ishtar

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

© 2021 La Loutre Roliste
© 2021 La Loutre Roliste

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

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

© 2021 La Loutre Roliste

Thank you for reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction

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

Episode 2: On The Road

We have published Episode 2 of the God Learner Podcast! Austin Conrad is our special guest, and together we discuss travelling in Sartar: why travel, how to travel, what happens on the way, and where to stop.

A Call for Gloranthan Newbies

If you are a relative newcomer to Glorantha, we want to chat with you! We roughly define “newcomer” as anybody who started playing in or reading about Glorantha around 2018 or later, but in the grand tradition of “rulings, not rules”, we are not taking this definition too seriously. If you feel like a big n00b, that’s enough for us.

We want to get as diverse a bunch of people as possible to get an idea of the various ways people ended up in the lozenge, what they found difficult or jarring, what helped them get a grasp on the setting, and so on. More information here!

Runic Rants: Group Rolls

In our first “Runic Rants” column, we talk about possible ways to handle group rolls in RuneQuest.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The White Bull Campaign

In Episode 4 of Season 2 of Chaosium’s “house campaign”, the players graciously accept the GM’s call for some side adventure taken from the RuneQuest Gamemaster Adventures booklet. Also, listen to Jeff sing and say “corporeal love” a lot!

The First Appendix N

We had already mentioned previously that the excellent GROGNARDIA blog took a look at “the First Appendix N“, also known colloquially as “the Bibliography chapter” of D&D. Well, Chaosium president and collector Rick Meints also took note of it, and has posted some more information about this piece of roleplaying history.

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

For those of you who love small details like these (we sure do, here at the God Learners!), Rick Meints tells us that the Bibliography section would have technically been Appendix M in the first edition of RuneQuest… if it had been assigned any letter! Read Rick’s blog post for more historical goodness!

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!

Monster of the Month: Petty Spirits 2

© 2021 Akhelas and Chaosium Inc.

They’re back! Those small little spirits that make the world go… err… square are once more given the spotlight in Austin Conrad’s Monster of the Month Volume 2 Issue 7. Austin had teased it in our most recent podcast episode, in which he was our guest.

Night in the Meadow

Art by Joel Kumpulainen, © 2021 Joel Kumpulainen and Chaosium Inc.

Joel Kumpulainen gives us three encounters for RuneQuest in “Night in the Meadow“, aimed for new gamemasters and adventurers alike. Each mini-adventure starts with a routine task such as cattle herding, and leads to some spirit trouble.

Community Roundup

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

The Cradle Aftermath Concludes… Its First Chapter

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Michael O’Brien finished his epic storyline of what happened in Sun County between 1621 and 1625. Yelo Melo figures out how to get out of Pent Ridge, deals with some really weird stuff, meets a well known Yelmalion figure, and goes on to meet new people.

MOB then concludes:

Here I must suspend this Sun County saga for the time being. It’s been fun, but I’ve been been posting every day since June 9th and after 48 days straight I really need to take a break for a bit! But I’ll return with the second part of the saga – The Time of Two Counts – later this year.

From what I can tell, you can directly connect MOB’s storyline to Jon Webb’s Sandheart series — which isn’t surprising since MOB has been involved in it.

Don’t Underestimate Belintar

Over on the RuneQuest Facebook group, Jeff shared several interesting bits about the Holy Country last week, and he continues this week with some important claims about Belintar’s legacy:

The Tournament recharges the magical energies and possibilities created by Belintar’s exploratory heroquests in his struggle against his Shadow and keeps the Holy Country in a constant state of magical potentiality. This magical creativity enabled such transformations as the human resettlement of Dragon Pass, the Opening of the Oceans, Sartar’s unification, the Yelmalio cult, New Pavis – and that’s just the cast-offs.

That’s… a lot! From what Jeff later tells us, the Holy Country was basically kept in a constant state of divine proximity, something that usually only happens with temples and other sanctified grounds. To achieve this, Belintar was using the energies released by the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, where many contestants walk magical roads and heroquest into Belintar’s and many other gods’ footsteps. Jeff says: “think of it a little like a magical nuclear reactor“. What I’m thinking is mostly “this Belintar guy was played by a frightening minimaxer player who found a way to abuse many of the Rune Magic mechanics of the game!”

Now, last week we touched upon the fact that the Tournament re-creates a new Belintar by having the contestants identify with him during their heroquesting. Among many things, this works to maintain the magical infrastructure of the Holy Country… until someone messes with it. Often, you can attribute “messing things up” to either the Lunars or the Wolf Pirates, but hey, guess what? You can attribute the Tournament’s recent failings to both!

Belintar expired in 1616 because of the magical strain holding things together with the double whammy of invasions by the Western Barbarians and the Wolf Pirate – think of this like the Sea People and Ramses III. Jar-eel had prepared for this and entered the Secret Paths and killed any hapless contestants that came across her at the Gate. Anytime the Tournament is begun, She is now there, a roaming hunter-killer who prevents the game from being complete. The Tournament cannot be completed. Each time it has been attempted, the magical energies were summoned and released, and could not be held in suspension.

This is great. My mind immediately goes to the people who have played in Glorantha long enough that their Adventurers are super powerful. Imagine how awesome it would be to push back against Jar-Eel and unlock the Tournament once again? And to win it and become the new Belintar? Or, even better, to change it in a way that the God King end up more in their image than in Belintar’s?

Note that Jar-Eel couldn’t herself have won the Tournament unless she betrayed who she is and who she is supposed to become. Jeff adds: “In fact, that is something very important to emphasise – Jar-eel is not and cannot become Belintar. She represents a very different path.

But that’s not all, the unravelling of the Tournament is a big deal:

Some philosophers hold that the Hero Wars is the result of this. That potentiality is being released, but is now outside of the framework of the Tournament. The huge feedback loop has released all that magical energy, powering things like New Gods, strange spirits, the White Bull and the White Bear. Much of it was harnessed by Argrath for his Sartar Magical Union, but it also brought Androgeus to the scene. None of this is a repetition of the past, although there are many who try to impose order on these energies by calling on the past.

So the Tournament is a lot more than the fun little Battle Royale succession test we may have thought originally. As Jeff puts it, “it is one of the Thelemic batteries powering the Third Age”.

What the Board Games Told Us All Along

Photo by The Maverick, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Based upon everything Jeff shared about the Holy Country, Belintar, the Tournament, and so on, he points us back to the Dragon Pass game (the second edition of the earlier White Bear & Red Moon game), specifically page 56:

A vacancy in the throne of the Pharoah to the south drew off many of Sartar’s best swordsmen and seekers, and the Lunar Empire seized the opportunity to invade the kingdom and sack Boldhome. The royal house resisted vigorously and received posthumous Hero recognition for their deeds. Any survivor were hunted across the world by agents and assassins.

There then began a period ranging between Lunar dominance and pre-Sartar anarchy, which was halted only by the arrival of Argrath. The wars that followed are reproduced in the scenarios. The outcome of these glorious battles, and of the History of Dragon Pass, is left to the skill of rulers who dare engage in such legendary wars.

Of course, the “Pharoah” (sic) mentioned here is an early title for Belintar the God King (you may be used to Gloranthan lore changing terminologies from one decade to the next…). I find it interesting that the Lunars messed up the Tournament as a way to distract many powerful Sartarite figures and make it easier to invade… mmh… of course, that might have also drawn powerful energies to the Holy Country, postponing its decline just long enough for King Broyan and his allies to push back against the Lunars? Huh, that’s maybe something to explore a bit more with Joerg’s much better knowledge of that part of the setting.

Orlanth in Sartar

Jeff gives us all kinds of general information about the cult of Orlanth in Sartar. To summarize, Orlanth’s cult is the most developed in Sartar, where this three main aspects (Thunderous, Adventurous, and Rex) have many shrines and temples available. There are however “many other subcults“, so players should feel free to invent obscure aspects of the Thunder God, such as, say, Orlanth Dragonslayer, Orlanth Romantic Singer, or Orlanth Who Smashed His Own Thumb That One Time And Got Mad About It.

We already know, from the RuneQuest core rulebook, that Orlanth Thunderous is the subcult that’s about weather control (it puts the “Storm” in the “Storm Tribe”), that Orlanth Adventurous is the warrior subcult, and that Orlanth Rex is for the rulers of the Kingdom. In excerpts from the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set, we learn that Thunderous represents about half of all cult activity in Sartar, while Rex is about a quarter, and Adventurous is about a fifth. I’m not sure how “cult activity” relates to “cult membership”, but this only leaves 5% of “activity” to the other subcults. One subcult that comes to mind is Vinga, where female warriors and adventurers can get together. Another is Barntar, the god patron of farming.

One last thing to note is where each of these subcults operates: Thunderous and Barntar are often found in rural areas, where they are closely linked to local Ernalda worship, while Adventurous, Vinga, and Rex operate at the tribal level and above.

Ernalda in Sartar

And just like the information above on Orlanth, Jeff shares some information on the cult of Ernalda in Sartar, probably as an excerpt from the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set.

Art by Agathe Pitie, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Ernalda is the main Earth cult in Sartar, and benefits from the neighbouring Esrolia and Grazelands where the Earth cults have the most power. In particular, the Feathered Horse Queen has a lot of influence even though she technically doesn’t preside over any Sartarite temple. My understanding is that her heroquesting has important repercussions for any other Earth cult nearby.

Earth temples in Sartar are important because they are home to a whole variety of associated cults’ shrines, from all the Earth pantheon (Babeester Gor, Asrelia, Voria, etc) to all the Husband Protectors (Orlanth, Storm Bull, Yelmalio, etc).

An interesting part to me was this:

In Sartar, the Ernalda cult is the ultimate authority over the land itself, delegating care over specific pieces of land to cults, tribes, or other entities. […] The boundary stones marking the lands delegated to tribes, clans, temples, or other entities or individuals are protected by Babeester Gor.

I knew that the Earth temples allocated plots of land to various households to take care of, but I wasn’t aware until now that it was the Axe Sisters of Babeester Gor that were in charge of protecting these boundaries — I naively thought they simply protected the temples and their interests, but I guess the land itself is indeed under the same umbrella. I can’t wait to witness a neighbours’ dispute about some tree leaning over a boundary being resolved by some blood-thirsty axe-wielding psychopaths…

Of course, if you’re not into petty rural politics and severed limbs, you can take part in marriage contests and get paired with a powerful Earth priestess:

The Ernalda cult is often responsible (or asserts responsibility) for arranging marriages between its members and suitable followers of one of the Husband-Deities, although individual choice is acknowledged and permitted. Temples sometimes arrange marriage contests for women who consent to the rites—these contests are open to any follower of a recognized Husband-Deity and test the suitors to prove their worth through a series of contests. Contestants are typically sponsored by their communities or temples, but “wanderers” are always permitted. The contests match the participants’ prowess at combat, athletics, social skills, and magic. Most contests last a week (and are combined with the High Holy Day ceremonies), but some contests take much longer. The winner of the contest is chosen as the year-husband of the participant, and the participating community gains blessings and magical allies as a result of a successful contest. Many Earth priestesses prefer to choose their consorts in this manner, and the stakes are much higher. The marriage contest of an important Earth priestess is an event of regional importance, and a truce suspends hostilities between followers of the Husband-Deities during the contest.

The Other Lightbringers in Sartar

After Orlanth and Ernalda, Jeff shares what’s up with the other Lightbringer cults in Sartar. This includes the cults of Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, and Lhankor Mhy.

Art by Dimitrina Angelska, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

These cults are primarily centered on the cities – few tribes, let alone clans, can support the number of specialists needed to maintain a temple to the God of Scribes or the Goddess of Healing, but all of Sartar’s cities have shrines or temples to each of the Lightbringers (although the Eurmal shrine is usually within the Orlanth temple).

I have come to think of these cults as organizations similar to government agencies in the US. So for example, while many counties have the infrastructure for local law enforcement or public transit, it’s only at the state or federal level that there is the budget to maintain park rangers or U.S. Marshalls. As a result, the nearby sheriff might be from around there, but the U.S. Marshall or FBI agent who gets assigned a case near your town could be from anywhere.

This is actually important to understand, according to Jeff:

[…] some of the old material from the HW era made it seem that everything in Orlanthi society was organised on a clan level, and that each clan was a hermetically sealed monad. That’s not true, not even for the Orlanth and Ernalda cults, which have temples that transcend clan and even tribal boundaries. The Sartarites have been organised into tribes for centuries, and have been unified by the Sartar Dynasty for over a century. That is going to have a big impact, allowing a greater surplus to support more specialist cults and occupations, but at a city or even kingdom level.

If you’re wondering who provides the budget to build these federal offices… err… these temples, that’s in big part the Sartar Dynasty. Sartar himself built temples to all these cults in the cities he founded, and his heirs maintained this patronage up to the present.

These cults tend to have a broader perspective than the clan and tribal-based Orlanth and Ernalda cults, and members largely stay neutral in tribal conflicts. During the Lunar Occupation, they were largely untroubled by the Provincial Government and they continued as they had before, albeit with less support and patronage.

And while the Humakt cult doesn’t technically belong to the Lightbringers, he probably operates the same way as them: outside of clan and tribal lines.

Elmal to Yelmalio

We had already seen some clarifications from Jeff on the topic of Elmal and Yelmalio, but this might also be helpful. On the BRP forums, Jeff talks about the transition from one to the other:

Part of the problem here is people are thinking of this as “conversion” or that Elmal and Yelmalio are separate entities. But this is no more conversion than Alakoring displaying his Orlanth Rex magic in the Third Age. This is not a case where Monrogh said, “Hey I have this idea that Elmal is one of the names of Yelmalio, let’s talk about it.” It was more that Monrogh was able to SHOW you the truth of that in the inner worship rites of YOUR cult. “Your eyes were clouded, rinse them, and now look at the True Light. That is Yelmalio.” Monrogh was challenged and tested, and each time he successfully proved his claims, in this world and in the Hero Plane. The cult spirits accepted him, Divinations reinforced him, and no Spirits of Reprisal ever came (indeed, Monrogh became the cult’s spirit of reprisal).

You may also want to check back what Jeff said about “magical challenges”. If I remember correctly, Elmal still exists now as a minor sub-cult of Yelmalio.

Heortland Book Sneak Peek

The Heortland book currently being written by Jeff Richard and Harald Smith is getting a sneak peek in the form of some notes about Durengard, the biggest city east of the Shadow Plateau.

Notes by Jeff Richard, © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

There are several interesting things to me about Durengard. First, this is an important port, and it probably contrasts with the much bigger Nochet on the other side of the Mirrorsea Bay because it’s up river and is dominated by brash Air-dominated dudes instead of Earthly gals. But Durengard was also briefly occupied by the Malkioni so it has a temple to the Invisible God, in addition to the usual Orlanthi worship sites. There’s also a temple to Belintar, where things are bound to get trippy — Jeff himself imagines some Jack Kirby-esque design for that. If you can’t picture what that might look like, behold:

Art by Jack Kirby
Art by Jack Kirby

Sandheart Volume 4 Gets a Teaser

Art by Jacob Webb, © 2021 Jon Webb and Chaosium Inc.

Over on Facebook, Jonathan Webb teases the cover of the next volume in the Sandheart chronicles, painted by Jacob Webb. Where could this be? Given that the previous volumes were focused on Prax, it could either be Biggle Stone or Dagori Inkarth…

3D Printed Llama Rider

Wayne Peters sculpted this awesome llama rider miniature, and has made the STL files available for anyone with a 3D printer! Good painting skills not included… so your models may not look as good as his!

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.

Exploring Glorantha Series

Iconic Production‘s JM and Evan continue their live show “Exploring Glorantha”, which aims to present Glorantha to people who are not familiar with it. The series is now up to Episode 10, dealing with the pantheons of Air and Moon. We even get a quick shout-out at the end, thanks Evan!

Check out the full playlist of the “Exploring Glorantha” series if you want to start from the beginning. You can support Iconic Production via their Patreon, and as such participate in the live broadcasts of these episodes.

Trade Routes of the Ancient World

The Digital Map of the Ancient World blog has some nice maps (including interactive ones) for all kinds of things related to the Bronze and Iron Ages. Since we just released our podcast episode on travel, how about some maps of trade routes in the 1st century CE?

Give Your Trolls Some Armored Crickets!

We know that trolls love their giant insects, and we also know that the insect world is full of really cool stuff. One of these cool things are “armored crickets”. Look at these cuties, and imagine trollkins jumping around your Adventurers, bashing into them every turn like some kind of chirping blitzkrieg!

Photo by Judy Gallagher
Photo by Judy Gallagher
Photo by Alex Derr

For more information on these critters, check out the Wikipedia page.

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.

One of the most common skill rolls in a fantasy game are the ubiquitous “perception” and “stealth” rolls, respectively for spotting someone or something sneaking up on the Adventurers, and for the Adventurers to sneak up on someone or something undetected. In RuneQuest, these skills are Scan and Move Quietly.

A basic approach for these situations is to just ask every player to roll under their skill score. If any player succeeds with a Scan roll, they have a good chance of spotting the enemy and can warn everybody else immediately. On the other hand, if any player fails their Move Quietly roll, they have good chance of being discovered, which probably means that the entire party gets spotted if they are moving together.

In practice, it’s probably a bit more complicated. There might be any number of special circumstances. There might be some Adventurers that are on their own, separate from the group. And of course the NPCs or creatures may oppose the players’ rolls with their own Move Quietly or Scan. But we’ll look at some of these factors in a future Runic Rant… for now, let’s discuss the basic premise of this kind of group roll.

Compounding Chances

The main problem with asking every player to make a roll is that these rolls are made individually, but the outcome affects the group. As a result, the chances of each roll get combined with the other rolls, and the overall chances of the group to spot an enemy or to sneak past one are vastly different from the percentages on the character sheet.

For instance, imagine that you have a party of four Adventurers, each with 40% in Scan. When rolled together, there is an 87% chance that at least one of the Adventurers succeeds their Scan roll, which means there’s a high chance of the group succeeding even though they all have a somewhat low Scan score. Conversely, imagine that all four Adventurers have 60% in Move Quietly. When rolled together, there’s only a 13% chance that they all succeed… at least one Adventurer will most probably fail, making the whole group fail!

Group Roll Rules

The RuneQuest rulebook doesn’t include group roll rules, so that’s a great opportunity to make our own! Over my short time as a RuneQuest gamemaster, I’ve settled on a system where one Adventurer (the “leader”) performs the “main roll”, and the others can optionally use the augment rules to help out. And since the lead Adventurer can also augment their own roll, our party of four can effectively stack up to five augments on top of the main roll.

For instance, while trying to sneak past a Lunar patrol, we would have:

  • Some characters not participating in the group roll. They just hang back and follow the others, or maybe they are busy with other things such as casting spells or taking care of companion NPCs.
  • Some characters can roll an augment using a Rune (the Darkness Rune is always good for discretion), a Scan roll (to help the leader by pointing out where the sentinels are, or spotting noisy dry leaves on the ground), a Listen roll (to hear that soldiers are coming from the left), an Animal Lore (to make animal sounds as a diversion), and so on.
  • The leader can roll their own augment, and then rolls the main challenge skill, which would be Move Quietly in this case.

Having too many characters trying to augment the leader’s roll are bound to create mixed results: failed rolls will cancel out successful rolls’ augments. This is a feature, not a bug! As the saying goes, “too many cooks in the kitchen…“. On the other hand, if the first couple augments have failed, a couple characters who weren’t planning to get involved might suddenly put in their 2 clacks… and might even make things worse!

What About Experience?

Many people assume that you simply get an experience check when you make a successful roll, in which case the group roll rules above have the problem that only one Adventurer (the leader) gets a check. But the rules around obtaining an experience check in a skill are vague on purpose in RuneQuest. Page 415 states:

The gamemaster may tell the player to check the box […] when the adventurer succeeds in using the ability in conditions of stress.

(…)

The ability to reward or deny an experience check is an important responsibility for the gamemaster.

Some people interpret the first part in a rather generic way, giving out experience checks also for most augments. In that case, all players would get an experience check in whatever they used for augmenting, assuming they succeeded. But even if your group doesn’t typically give experience checks for augments, the rules do support the gamemaster giving some out in some specific situations like group rolls.

One optional rule I’m considering adding is to let any non-leader player choose to get an experience check in the “main” skill (Move Quietly in the example above) rather than in whatever ability they used to augment the leader. Helping out in dramatic situations can be a good way to get experience in a new skill.

Using Group Rolls

The gamemaster should still use group rolls only when appropriate. There are several situations for which “every player rolls” works perfectly well, especially when you want to increase the chances of success. Typical examples of “every player rolls” in my games are:

  • Insight rolls, while talking to an NPC: each Adventurer may end up with a different opinion of their interlocutor, and it’s not like they can freely exchange notes in front of the NPC anyway. But one Adventurer may be able to take control of the conversion, persuaded that they can “read” the other person… whether that’s true or not.
  • Most knowledge rolls: skills such as Homeland Lore, Cult Lore, or Customs are usually rolled individually in my games, with different bonuses or penalties depending on the specific topic (for instance, I typically give +20%/+30% if the topic relates to the same clan/tribe or cult/sub-cult as each specific Adventurer). For investigative scenarios, each success in a knowledge roll can even let the gamemaster drop one additional clue or piece of information.

These group roll rules are really just another tool in the toolbox for the gamemaster — use them when it feels right!

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

Introduction

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 have recorded episode 2 this week, so it should be out some time next week, depending on how editing and show notes writing goes.

Tower Inventory

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

The Multi-Dimensional God Plane

This document seems to be an academic paper from Jrustela, talking about ongoing research into heroquesting.

Jirtsyl’s work was mostly focused on immersion levels 5 and above, where the “pure, original” myths are experienced, if they exist. This is where the hyper-angle is maximized and approaches the limit of a pocket reality independent of the others, yet connected in its outcome of the present Material World. Our work, instead, focused on lower immersion levels, 3 and below.

It makes little sense, but we think there’s potential in reviving this type of experimental heroquesting. We are hoping to find the rest of these documents so we can get started.

Chaosium News

Warehouse Clearance Sale

Chaosium is still running their “Stay In and Game” sale, and that includes a few items relevant to our shared interests: some RuneQuest Classic, 13th Age Glorantha, and poster maps of Genertela. Check which warehouse they’re available from, as some items may not ship to your location!

The White Bull Campaign

The Chaosium “house campaign” continues, with a short episode featuring Enkala’s trip to “Troll Town” in Boldhome to try and join the elusive cult of Arachne Solara.

Then, after a bit of seasonal “Between Adventures” character improvement (the first time this is featured on video, I believe), the party goes to Clearwine Fort, with a few detours and stops on the way. Watch some Colymar court politics, and Jeff Richard play Orlanth answering the question “which of your aspects is the most fun?“.

Jaye Kovach on Art Direction

James Coquillat talks to Jaye Kovach about her work doing art direction for Gloranthan books, and in particular the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set.

Gloranthan Fiction Coming in the Future, Maybe, Probably

The Call of Cthulhu podcast “Modern Mythos” recently interviewed James Lowder, executive editor for Chaosium’s fiction line. Most of the podcast is about horror fiction, of course, but James does drop a hint that they’re also looking for authors to write and publish some Gloranthan fiction. You can also listen to this Modern Mythos episode for the sheer number of fascinating industry anecdotes, especially about TSR’s early fiction line.

RuneQuest Fantasy Grounds VTT

Work on the RuneQuest Fantasy Grounds VTT support continues! Here are some of the recent screenshots from the lead developer, including family history and character sheets with mounts!

Screenshots by @MadBeardMan

RuneQuest Production Pipeline

Chaosium is generally tight-lipped about any production deadlines and release dates, but they are thankfully open about what’s being worked on in general. Over on the Facebook group, RuneQuest line editor Jason Durall gives us some up-to-date tidbits. Basically:

  • The Sartar Homeland boxed set is going into layout just after the giant Cults books, with art and cartography almost done.
  • The Esrolia Homeland project is an expansion of a previous Nochet book, and is in development.
  • The Heortland/Hendrikiland Homeland project has a manuscript that is nearing completion.
  • The Grazelands Homeland project is being worked on by Chris Klug.
  • The Prax Homeland project is in some hiatus but Prax and shamanism expert David Scott should be taking the reigns on this soon. Note that this is different from the Pavis & Big Rubble project being worked on by Robin Laws.
  • There are no plans yet for a Lunar or Old Tarsh Homeland.

This is just the production pipeline for the RuneQuest Homeland projects, and it doesn’t include any of the other upcoming things like, say, the Weapons & Equipment sourcebook or the Gamemaster Guide.

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!

Christmas in July Sale

DriveThruRPG is running their “Christmas in July” sale, and many authors from the Jonstown Compendium are participating! Find all of them here. The sale is running for a bit more than a week after the time I’m writing this.

Community Roundup

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

The Paradox of the Lunar Empire

Over on Facebook, the ever prolific Jeff Richard tells us about what he considers to be the “paradox of the Lunar Empire“: that in the past century and a half, the Lunar heartlands have been the most civilized and peaceful place on the lozenge, but that at the same time the Red Goddess the biggest cosmic threat to existence since Nysalor:

If anything Her Way is even more dangerous as many have already begun to experiment with the most dangerous potentialities. Lunar heroquesters – most notably Jar-eel the Razoress – have explored forbidden paths and plundered the Other World as ruthlessly as any God Learner. Some philosophers suggest that this is Gbaji – not an entity, not a cult, but an approach to the cosmos facilitated by Illumination.

Like with the Gbaji Wars, those who oppose the Red Goddess will adopt her own methods to defeat her and change the world in the process. This is the oldest story in Glorantha, and is the story of the Hero Wars.

Magical Challenges

Now this is some good reminder for the most minmaxer players out there: you can “prove” your claims to, well, whatever, by engaging in and winning a magical challenge! This is a well-accepted practice in Gloranthan history:

Magical challenges to prove a truth are well accepted in Glorantha. This goes back to the Gods Age, when contests of the arts were popular among the gods – the most famous being the Contests of Yelm and Orlanth. When the Feathered Horse Queen emerged from the Earth’s Womb and proclaimed that the sovereign Earth Goddess was more than Dendara, she was opposed by the Grazer King. She defeated him in a thaumaturgical contest after which he, and the Yelm cult of Dragon Pass, submitted to her authority.

Hon-eel the Artess was an expert at such contests, having had to prove her claims starting with the first time she appeared in Glamour. Her most famous contest was against the Most Reverend Mother of Horses (which incidentally may have had a synchronicitous connection with the Feathered Horse Queen’s triumph).

And of course the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death are well established in the Holy Country. Some think the pathways the contestants follow are somehow connected with the claims of the Arkat Cult concerning the Secret Pathways through the Hero Plane.

The “winning” part isn’t the only important thing… how you won is also notable:

A few basic ground rules of these tests – the person has to be able to participate in the inner rites of the cult […]. That’s the place only those initiated can perceive. That gets witnessed. They need to be able stay within the rites, without being forced out by guardian spirits and so on.

And within the inner rites, you need to display your power and either be accepted by the spirits present (that’s the preferred route) or be able to defeat those spirits and entities that come to force you out (not preferred).

But if you can do that, you are not an imposter. Unless later on it is shown you used trickery – Eurmal magic or Lunar deceptions. But that is always a danger.

This is probably a very good way for players to be proactive with their heroquests, and shake the game world in their direction.

More Holy Country Notes

Speaking of magical challenges, Jeff is sharing some good stuff about the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, the contest that used to define who the next incarnation of Belintar would be for ruling the Holy Country. There is a lot to unpack in that post but my main takeaway is that each participant is identifying with Belintar while they travel the magical roads of the Holy Country’s Hero Plane… so the victor is, effectively, Belintar. It sounds like this is less a reincarnation thing (like the Red Emperor) than some kind of possession achieved through heroquest identification: you’re Belintar because you were emulating Belintar’s tribulations, and you were the last one in the end.

Cartography by Colin Driver © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

I wonder if Belintar prepared for this by making sure he was fighting his own Shadows, so that later there would be some kind of mythical “convergence”, where multiple people identifying as him make the victor pass a threshold past which there is only a philosophical difference between the “original” contestant and Belintar himself. Oh well. Something to study later.

Of course, this heroquest is particularly unpredictable, as befits a proper tournament:

This is not a rote repetition of Belintar’s thamauturgical battles, but a re-experiencing of them, with the same lack of knowledge, lack of script, and creative possibilities.

This is a big deal for the Holy Country:

One of the really amazing magical things about the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death is that each time it is held, the Holy Country is magically remade through its contests. Gods and spirits are again named, and perhaps with more relevant and pertinent titles, old alliances reforged and new alliances made. Each time Belintar is invoked by the winner and the Holy Country’s magic and proximity to the divine realm restored.

It’s also very interesting to read about other key figures:

And it should also be remembered that both Sartar and Tarkalor participated in these contests, as did several other members of the Sartar Dynasty, and other notables (such as Broyan of Whitewall if I recall). This magical experimentation and experience had a significant influence on the Orlanthi of Sartar, and may constitute one of the key reasons (along with Argrath’s incredibly diverse personal magical experiences culminating in the circumnavigation of the world) why they were able to contest with the Lunar Empire on equal terms in the Hero Wars.

So it sounds like there are a lot of insights and heroquest gifts to be gained by merely participating in the Tournament, even if you don’t really want to win.

Of course, things didn’t go well in the current timeline. Belintar didn’t return after the last couple Tournaments, and the Holy Country fell apart, mostly in its constituent sixths. But while Esrolia or God Forgot retained their shape, other places like Heortland broken in smaller parts. There’s more info on that from Jeff, but this goes beyond my grasp of Glorantha for now. There’s still a nice note about how magically powerful the Holy Country it, even when it’s falling apart:

After the Building Wall Battle, they knew the Holy Country had a lot of power. First they spent a decade plotting to eliminate Belintar as a spirit. They brought the Field College of Magic, the Crimson Bat, Praxian mercenaries, Sartarite mercenaries, Sun Dome mercenaries, and even Dragonewt mercenaries, as well as Provincial and Heartland troops. They attacked at the weak point of post-Belintar Kethaela – Heortland, which was torn into two, instead of attacking Esrolia like in 1605. And they managed to secure Wolf Pirate assistance.

Even then, the invasion of 1619 was a very near run thing until the end.

For a more detailed description of the Lunar Invasion of 1619, see this post, and this other post from Jeff. I assume (or at least hope!) that these texts are going into some “Previously, in Dragon Pass” chapter in the upcoming Argrath campaign book.

Map scan courtesy of Jeff Richard © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

What should be clear is that Fazzur Wideread was a spectacular commander:

Fazzur really was the Man. When plans went wrong, Fazzur was always able to regroup and correct his errors with remarkable creativity. Like Owen Connelly described Bonaparte, Fazzur was the Great Scrambler.

By the way, the involvement of the Wolf Pirates was a turning point for both the Lunars and the Wolf Pirates themselves:

[…] it was Wolf Pirates not Lunar-crafted ships that enabled the convoy from Corflu. Harrek already hated the Lunar Empire (and hated their leaders, priestesses, and goddess), but the offer was too great for him to turn down – the right to sack and pillage Karse (a rich trading city) and mastery over the Mirrorsea Bay. Instead, Fazzur decreed that Karse would not be pillaged (he had goals of his own) and the Wolf Pirates were left empty-handed. After that Harrek rejected any offer from any Lunar or that would aid the Empire. And harming the Lunar Empire became a treasure for him as valuable as gold or silver.

Cradle Aftermath

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

You know the drill by now: Michael O’Brien is still writing his history of Sun County, and dare I say things are becoming more and more suspenseful. Melo Yelo is exploring the dark secrets of the Pent Ridge prison, the White Bull arrives, and The Midnight Express is starting to make sense.

On The Canonicity Of HeroQuest Material

Regarding some “incorrect” dates in HeroQuest material such as the Sartar Companion, Jeff says:

When I wrote the Sartar Companion materials, Greg no longer had access to his detailed information about the Whitewall campaign (it went missing around 1991 or so) so we had to rely on summaries and notes.

However a few years ago, a box filled with Greg’s most important notes on Dragon Pass – thought long lost – showed up at Greg’s place shortly before his death, courtesy of an act of great kindness. Greg sent the contents to me to incorporate into RQ. So you’ll be seeing lots of that stuff in the Sartar Book, Cults Book, and everything else. Those pictures on this post is from the series of military campaign maps Greg made of the campaign, probably around 1979 or so.

Sartarites Too Post Food Pictures On Social Media

The villages along the Creek-Stream River near Duckpoint often have crocodile as a local delicacy, apparently. The local Geo’s Inn special dish makes it grilled! The sides are “emmer pancakes, almond and garlic Pesto, and apple, vinegar, red onion, honey and vinegar sauce”.

Photo by Jeff Richard, cuisine by Claudia Lauroff

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.

Bud Explains RuneQuest

This isn’t quite something that happened this week, but it was uploaded recently enough that I figured we could give it a quick shout out: Bud, from Bud’s RPG Review, is walking us through the RuneQuest Glorantha chapter on shamans.

Bud’s videos are good recaps of the rules for those who, like me, tend to get lost in the details and forget the basics. Also, checkout his full playlist on all things RuneQuest. Many of his videos include interesting historical facts and insightful commentary about the books, in addition to the more factual chapter-by-chapter description of their contents.

Get your Durulz Email Address!

I sure hope that all you Gloranthaphiles are using DuckDuckGo as your main search engine? Not only is it much better for your privacy and for avoiding the “filter bubble” effect, it’s also the obvious choice for anybody who isn’t a dirty Duck Hunting Lunar collaborator!

Now the company behind DuckDuckGo is launching a privacy-conscious email forwarding service. It removes any trackers from emails sent to it, and then forwards the “cleaned-up” message to your real inbox. I’m not going to go into details here because this isn’t a tech-newsletter, but let’s just say this is your chance to grab an email address like “sartar@duck.com“. It’s not really a full email address because it’s just a forwarding one (so you can probably only receive email through it, not send anything through it), but, you know, just sayin’.

Thank you for reading

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

This appears to be a Jrusteli Document, dated 846 or 847. It was discovered in we started cleaning this old Zzaburi tower we now occupy. There seems to be a lot of leftover junk from the previous owners, so we may have more material to share as we recover and classify it.

On the multi-diensionality of the Prechronal Plane and its application to Ranging via incremental Identification

By Mohvrieni Falos da Guad, 2nd Order of Procedural Prechronal Studies

In which we acknowledge the fantastic work accomplished by Argelos Minhas and his team on the optimization of prechronal expedition preparations, and propose an alternative approach to targeted incursions. By leveraging the multi-dimensionality of the prechronal plane, we can range from a lower level identification to a higher level identification via liminal spaces between synchronizable narratives. This threshold is highly resistant, with perforation often resulting in dramatic narrative shockwaves, but we believe this to be a promising new avenue for some types of research. Further experimentation is needed.

The Prechronal Crystal Model

We started our investigation with the theoretical so-called “crystal model” of the Prechronal Plane, pioneered by Jirtsyl Alhberr et al. This model indicates that some myths could be so different from others that they “settle” into a different “facet” of the “Prechronal Crystal” (PCC). As per the Classical Model, the PCC would contain different versions of the same myth, as experienced from different cultural perspectives, but these would be settled on the same facet. Other narratively incompatible myths would settle on different facets. Different facets would be at different hyper-angles from each other, which we hope can be measured empirically to establish baseline knowledge of the threshold resistance to expect when ranging between the two.

As an example, the creation myths of the Theyelans and Dara-Happans are settled on the same facet, or facets oriented at very close hyper-angles from each other. The Hsunchen creation myth, however, often only feature their World Dragon (H1.21-24) and its implosion necessary to create the universe. The draconic ancestors Hykim (H1.52-5521) and Mikyh (H1.52-5522) then appear and, depending on the incursion’s immersion level, may interact with other figures from other myths, such as Yelm (DT3.80-0008) and Umath (DT4.81-1003).

Jirtsyl’s work was mostly focused on immersion levels 5 and above, where the “pure, original” myths are experienced, if they exist. This is where the hyper-angle is maximized and approaches the limit of a pocket reality independent of the others, yet connected in its outcome of the present Material World. Our work, instead, focused on lower immersion levels, 3 and below.

Incremental Identification through Faceted Incursions

Our work started with the Identification of lower impact figures in loosely related facets. To use the Hsunchen creation myth as an example again, we penetrated the myth version that featured Umath (DT4.81-1003) as a possible mate for Mikyh (H1.52-5522) and an alternate origin for the Urox (DT4.90-5456). Identification with Umath was much easier that way because of its much lower importance in this myth. Resource expenditure at this stage was 92% down, although of course the identification was achieved on a lesser version (see full results and methodology in Appendices B and C).

Trying to immediately jump to a Theyelan facet from there mostly resulted in failure, as the replacement of Hsunchen draconic spirits with the Elemental pantheon in a single step backfired consistently (see losses and incident reports in Appendix E). These failures created reality branch X-GF.12-5212, which was reinforced by repeated failures past the Tereols Threshold[1], and was therefore abandoned as per the usual security measures.

Instead, we started developing a “facet-hopping” technique where we get increasingly closer to identification with the Theyelan persona of Umath (DT4.81-1003), starting from his more anecdotal Hsunchen persona (H1.98-1512). It currently takes 6 steps to reliably make the transition, making use of lower hyper-angles between narratives. Unfortunately, at this time, the overall resource expenditure is 125% that of a more straightforward Theyelan incursion. We believe that the ideal number of facet jumps is 3, which gives us a ideal estimate of 67% overall resource expenditure when compared to a more straightforward Theyelan incursion. In fact, we believe the PCC to be hyper-regular on base 3, which would indicate that…

[1] We do believe the Tereols Threshold is entirely too conservative and prevents proper research from happening. We believe it could be more than doubled while still being within reasonable distance from world destruction. See attached Motion for the Relaxation of the Tereols Threshold.

The rest of the document was damaged beyond reading. The damaged parts don’t seem to contain everything, however, so I’ll keep looking for more salvageable pages.