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

God Learner Sorcery

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

Episode 21: Gamemastering A New Hero

In episode 21 of our podcast, Joerg and I welcome James Coquillat of Chaosium! We chat about his discovery of Glorantha, involvement with the RuneQuest Starter Set, gamemaster duties on the New Hero actual play stream, advice for new RuneQuest gamemasters, and more!

This was a fun episode, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Cover for Cults of RuneQuest: Lightbringers

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Cults of RuneQuest artist Loic Muzy has shared the awesome cover of the Lightbringers book in all its glory! Not only can you now inspect the details more closely, Loic also confirmed that Austin Conrad was right: this is indeed Orlanth versus the Red Goddess and Nysalor!

Using the Cults Books

This might technically belong to the “Jeff’s Notes” section, but since it deals directly with upcoming Chaosium publications and recent news, I’m moving it here.

Jeff puts the Cults of RuneQuest books in context, in particular:

But [the Cults books] also help to give a better feel for how Glorantha works as a setting. So in Sartar, the Lightbringers and the Earth Goddesses are the most important clusters of cults. But Solar is not insignificant, nor is the Horned Man. In Prax, the Lightbringers, Earth Goddesses, and the Horned Man are probably most important. In Tarsh, the Lunar Way, Lightbringers, and Earth Goddesses are what you want, but in the Lunar Heartlands, you likely want the Lunar Way, the Solar Religion, and maybe Sea Gods (!) (because of Oslira). In Esrolia it is a big mix – buy them all (except Lords of Terror)!


The entire series covers a LOT of ground. […] There is still room for local cults and localised variants to appear in homeland books such as the forthcoming Sartar book, but when complete, this plus the Guide pretty much opens the entire setting.

You can also read Jeff’s comments on the Prosopaedia, the Lightbringers, and the Earth Goddesses books, including some hints as to which cults are in which book. This in particular caught my eye:

Note that terms like Storm Tribe aren’t used.


[All classic RuneQuest material] refer to the Lightbringers, or less commonly the Orlanthi, as the pantheon headed by Orlanth and his allies. We – Greg and I – decided while working on RQG that those Hero Wars books had gone far astray from what we want, and probably the “Storm Tribe” never should have been called that in the first place that terminology change was confusing and unnecessary.

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff (and the people asking questions about it) refer to the 2001 book “Storm Tribe” (above) written for the old HeroWars game which became HeroQuest and is now out of print. You’ll find that a lot of Gloranthan fandom parlance comes from these old books, and that it seems hard to shake off…

Publication Schedule

Jeff shared some extra information about how the impending release of the first few Cults books is freeing up the RuneQuest pipeline at Chaosium:

The release of Sartar and Dragon Pass and the rest are freed up by the release of Lightbringers, Earth, and Mythology – all which make those books easier to handle. Sartar and Dragon Pass (which already have all their art) free up Prax, Pavis, and Big Rubble. The Lunar, Solar, Darkness, Horned God, Sea, etc. books all are on their track and not in the same lane for those others. They open up the Dragon Pass Campaign, and others.

In short, we have a metric ton of RQ that gets opened up by this.

But Lightbringers and Earth are foundational for doing more with the Orlanthi.

As I understand this, expect a lot of cross-references from the “homeland books” (Sartar, Prax, etc) to the Cults books. It sounds like Chaosium is offloading a lot of cult-related material to these books, which probably prevents repeating a whole bunch of stuff in subsequent books.

Jonstown Compendium

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

RuneQuest’s Healthy Community

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Chaosium features Brian Duguid’s words (we had some words with him too on a different topic), as he uses Nick Brooke’s catalogues to gauge how great the RuneQuest creator community is. It’s a nice way to frame the impact of the Jonstown Compendium, and a good reminder to congratulate everybody who managed to get something out.

You can find Nick’s 2022 Catalogue here, and the 2021 edition here.

You can also find my own humble contributions to the Jonstown Compendium here:

  • A Short Detour, a moral conundrum complemented by Chaos corruption rules.
  • Bog Struggles, in which cute newtlings deal with horrible things.

GM Day Sale on DriveThruRPG

With “GM Day” last Saturday, many online gaming stores are running sales and discounts for the entire week. DriveThruRPG is of course part of this, and that includes many titles from the Jonstown Compendium! If you were on the fence about grabbing some PDFs, now is the time… and yes, my titles (see above) are part of the sale!

Wind Lords and Tula Landmarks

Zed Nope started dropping art assets on the Jonstown Compendium with two illustrations of Wind Lords and some landscape items suitable for your tribal lands (which Gloranthaphiles generally call “tula”, but remember, kids: the term “tula” is nowhere to be found in the RuneQuest Glorantha core books!)

© 2023 Zed Nope & Chaosium Inc.

The two Wind Lords include a “Cheerful Vingan” and a “Thunder Caller“. The Tula Landmarks feature the items visible on the cover above. All these assets are available at high-resolution, suitable for both VTT use and inclusion in a Jonstown Compendium publication. You’ll find the terms of use in there.

Elkoi Expansion

© 2023 Anders Tonnberg & Chaosium Inc.

Anders Tonnberg shares a bunch of maps for Elkoi, an ancient citadel in Balazar that the Lunars turned into a military outpost in the mid 1500s. You can read all about it in the classic Griffin Mountain campaign… which means this is a great resource if you plan on running it!

Applefest 2

© 2023 Graeme Atkinson & Chaosium Inc.

Did you read or run Graeme Atkinson’s Applefest? Well, it looks like the following year’s festival might be as memorable as the last. Applefest 2 features more celebration shenanigans for your adventurers.

Rubble Runners Volume 2 Updated

© 2023 Jon Hunter & Chaosium Inc.

Jon Hunter has added a new character to his collection of NPCs hanging around New Pavis and the Big Rubble… the only problem is that I’m not sure which one is new? Whatever! If you play in Prax, get this book and you’ll have plenty of NPCs, complete with stats and adventure seeds, to use in your game. And it’s currently on sale as part of the aforementioned GM Day!

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.

Chaos Deities

Jeff lists the Chaos deities of Genertela and beyond. Whoever archived this note (probably David Scott) was nice enough to link each deity’s name to their entry in the Well of Daliath prosopaedia, so I don’t need to annotate this: you just need to click the link! I’ll just note that I had never heard of Pocharngo before, and he looks lovely. The “elsewhere” gods are mostly unknown to me to. Oh well, so many new types of bad guys to bring into my game!

Relevant to my interests is a side-note on how all these Chaos deities represent corruption, anti-existence, and the “unnatural”, but the Red Goddess and Nysalor are different:

Perhaps, as the Nysalor cult claims, Chaos truly is not inherently evil, and both Nysalor and the Red Goddess show that. Or perhaps this is just another of Gbaji’s lies, and the followers of Nysalor and the Red Goddess have been deceived. Who knows – ultimately that is up to your campaigns to discover.

Plus, some extra background info on Bagog, the mother of the Scorpion Men. More here.

Praxian Nomad Cults

This note gives a few guidelines for which nomad tribe of Prax has the most of this or that cult. In a nutshell:

  • High Llama: most Waha and Eiritha-centric
  • Rhinoceros: biggest membership of Storm Bull
  • Bison: lots of Humakt, as much as Storm Bull, for which they are second place behind Rhino riders.
  • Sable: very little of Orlanth, Humakt, and Storm Bull
  • Impala: most Orlanth
  • Morokanth: least Eiritha-centric, most Daka-Fal-centric

The Pol Joni are set aside for these rankings, as they have:

Highest Orlanth, Humakt, and Storm Bull percentages. Lowest Eiritha – unless you count the Unicorn Riders or the Zebras.

Cults and Culture

Culture doesn’t just share a linguistic root with cults — it’s literally driven by people’s main cults when it comes to Glorantha and, probably, ancient world-building:

When more than two-thirds of the adult population are initiated into the Orlanth and Ernalda cults as in Sartar, that is going to strongly define their culture. When almost half the adult population is initiated into the Ernalda cult and her immediate household (but less than a fifth are initiated into the Orlanth cult) as in Esrolia, that is also going to strongly define culture.

The Thunder Brothers

Remember how I mentioned earlier that some Glorantha fans have a hard time letting go of the old HeroWars material? Well here’s another such thing: the Thunder Brothers.

In RuneQuest Glorantha, they’re merely described as a pack of special Air spirits (Glorantha Bestiary page 185), and they might be expanded a bit in the Lightbringers Cult book… but back in the olden days they would get names, descriptions, special powers, and individual sub-cults.

Those figures were listed in the HW material, we reduced them in the HQ supplements, and then decided to get rid of them almost entirely in RQ. Hedkoranth makes an appearance in the Prosopaedia and the Sartar Book as a local incarnation of Orlanth Thunderous worshiped at Roundstone Fort, as does Rigsdal (as the personal guardian of Kallyr Starbrow).

For instance, Hedkoranth was described in the old HeroWars books as the “Thunder Slinger”, the god that provided the magic of thunderstones. There was a lot of complicated stuff for moving from one Orlanth “aspect” or “sub-cult” to another as needed, mentions of beard grooming styles, and much miscellaneous cultural and mythological fluff. Some people really appreciated that, I guess, but RuneQuest Glorantha simplifies it a lot to be more accessible.

It’s just assumed that the worship of a god, especially a big one like Orlanth, automatically includes worshipping and sacrificing to various aspects, related deities, heroes, and more. Hedkoranth is the (unnamed) guy that provides the Bless Thunderstone spell (RQG page 322), and we don’t really care exactly how your adventurer gets that spell, just as we don’t care much either what aspect of Orlanth gives you the Flight spell.

But maybe you may want to occasionally name some of these secondary deities, for some flavour bit in an adventure or something. Or maybe you love tedious useless lore. Either way, Jeff provides some thoughts on framing and use the Thunder Brothers:

They are the Airy offspring and brethren of Orlanth, who can split the clouds so that rain can fall, shake mountains and destroy forests. They are collective of some three to sixty – once we focus on any specific Thunder Brother (except their leader, Vinga), we aren’t talking about the Thunder Brothers any more.

I like how Jeff drives this point home:

Lightning Spear is one of the Four Weapons and gets cult, but the rest are just names like Prancer, Vixen, Comet, and Cupid – we talk about Rudolph or about Santa’s Reindeer collectively. But when we speak of the Thunder Brothers we always are speaking of them as a collective, with maybe Vinga as the leader.

Advice on Running Combat

Jeff gives some advice for running combat scenes in RuneQuest. The advice depends on the type of combat: duel, loose skirmish, large skirmish, and battle. As you might expect, Jeff uses minimal statblocks for NPCs, re-uses information from the Glorantha Bestiary and similar sources, and handwaves things a lot as the scene gets bigger.

This sounds fairly similar to how I approach things, but I really wish the RuneQuest system had been modernized and cleaned-up to require less of this “do it yourself” work.

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.

More Fronelan Previews for 13th Age Glorantha

This is a guest segment by Joerg, lightly edited by Ludo. Thanks Joerg!

Evan Franke (with whom we chatted on the podcast) shared two more of Tricia’s illustrations for his Fronelan project based on the 13th Age Glorantha system, this time exploring the Aldryami:

RuneQuest Glorantha Buyer’s Guide

This is a guest segment by Joerg, lightly edited by Ludo. Thanks Joerg!

Books, Bricks and Boards channel advice on how to approach your budding RuneQuest collection

Joerg here: Justin has been producing videos on a variety of game systems on his Books, Bricks and Boards channel for nearly two years now, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of various game systems, with several honourable mentions of RuneQuest in previous videos, e.g, as one of five highly recommended alternatives to D&D already before the OGL 1.1 fiasco that he refers to in the tail end of this video.

Justin gives solid advice about how to approach the RuneQuest rules when you are a new GM (or ambitious player) and you want to slide into running the game. He gives short unboxing-style reviews of the components of the Starter Set before presenting the Core Rules, the Bestiary, the GM screen pack and the rest of the official RQG line.

The one point where I would disagree is regarding the Sourcebook as “the icing of the cake” rather than presenting it as the currently best vehicle to get an insight on the setting beyond the short takes in the Starter Set and the Core Rules, but then I am here for the setting details.

If you are following the God Learners and haven’t started acquiring RuneQuest books yet, this list should set you up. Same if you are asked by newcomers where to start. It will be interesting to see a re-evaluation of the series when the Cults Books of 2023 will be available.

Runeblogger Reviews Hero Wars in the East Isles

Somehow I missed some of Runeblogger’s latest articles, which includes a thorough review of both volumes of “Hero Wars in the East Isles” (Volume 1 is “Korolan Islands” and Volume 2 is “Fires of Mingai“).

The review for Volume 1 is here, and it gives you a good idea of what you’ll find in there, since Runeblogger goes in detail into each section of the book. Runeblogger liked in particular the cult write-ups for the island gods, along with some local myths about them. There’s also a good summary of the mysticism and martial arts rules that can be found in Korolan Islands. This might be of interest to some of you out there…

The review for Volume 2 is here, and it follows the same formula as the first review. If you’re sensitive about spoilers, watch out for the overview of the four scenarios found in Fires of Mingai. They’re pretty short and high level, though, so it will be OK in most cases, especially if you’re the GM, obviously.

If you want to check out more stuff from Runeblogger, you can hit the Translate button on this article (unless you can understand Spanish of course). It describes a “simple heroquest” called “The River Ritual” and how Runeblogger ran it using RuneQuest!

All the Spanish RuneQuest

Do you want more Spanish blogging? This “Role of the 90s” blog, also easily translatable to English thanks to the toolbar at the top, goes over all the Spanish editions of RuneQuest, from 1988 to the present day.

It starts with some pretty straightforward translations but you may want to fast-forward to the early 1990s, with the covers of “The Abyss of the Serpent’s Throat” and “Ancient Secrets of Glorantha”. Or maybe not. Once you have seen it, you can’t unsee it.

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

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

The Dalyan Rock Tombs

Lycia was an Anatolian state that existed from sometime in the 15th or 14th century BCE. You might see a lot of references to Anatolia when it comes to Bronze Age history but to make things simpler, you can almost always substitute Anatolia for Turkey (the country, not the animal… unless you’re a trickster, in which case that might work)

Creative Commons image

Lycia lasted until the mid 6th century BCE when it was absorbed into the Persian Achaemenid Empire. And then Alexander the Great conquered that (around the 4th century BCE), but after his death the whole thing broke apart. As far as I can tell, Lycia was sort of part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, but on the edge of the Seleucid Empire (those two being empires controlled by old buddies of Alexander who couldn’t get along… it’s a bit messy) I guess it might have moved hands many more times during this period, actually.

Anyway, the point is that Lycia was under Hellenistic influence, one way or another, around that time. And that’s why we find some cool sort-of-Classical-Greek-looking things in the area! The city of Kaunos, founded in the 10th century BCE, well before the Hellenistic era, gained many Greek landmarks over time such as an amphitheatre, an acropolis, and lots of columns.

Creative Commons photo

One of the region’s most striking monuments are the rock-cut tombs near the modern town of Dalyan. They are surprisingly well preserved compared to other similar tombs I’ve seen online:

Creative Commons photo

I can’t easily find some solid historical information about these tombs, but the Daylan tourism site implies that they date back to the 9th century BCE. That seems too early for this Hellenistic-looking (to me) site, so I’m going to call bullshit. Most likely these tombs were built around the same time the nearby Kaunos was transformed into a Greek-looking city (4th or 3rd century BCE?) But maybe these facades were simply built in front of older burial chambers?

I don’t know, people, I’m just a guy… Listen, these tombs look great, and we should all figure ways to put rock-cut tombs in our games, deal? Think about what might lie deep inside these chambers!

If you go to southwestern Turkey for your next vacation, make sure to hike parts of the Lycian Way, which looks gorgeous and actually passes near Kaunos.

Thank you for reading

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

This episode starts with Jörg pronouncing our guest’s name wrongly! We welcome James Coquillat of Chaosium to talk about RuneQuest actual play and gamemastering.

James is both on the digital content team and on the editorial team for Call of Cthulhu. You can find James at the following online places:

Show Notes

James tells us about his gaming and professional career. AD&D 2nd edition, Call of Cthulhu, screenwriting turning into video game production, and finally changing over into tabletop RPG production. Living in Melbourne brought him into contact with Michael O’Brien aka “MOB” (Chaosium’s vice president), Mark Morrison (Chaosium community embassador and part of the awesome Campaign Coins), and other notables from the Down Under roleplaying community. From there to Chaosium was not a big step.

James’s first work for Chaosium was helping with the translation of Khan of Khans. And while that is a Gloranthan game, it took some diving into the Chaosium back catalogue to familiarize himself with RuneQuest and Glorantha.

RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha was the first experience of both the game system and the world through play.

Ludo asks how much Gloranthan knowledge James had accumulated when he had the courage to present both the system and the setting publicly.

James explains that, to the folks at Chaosium (many of whom have been involved since before there were the Tales of the Reaching Moon in the early nineties), he fits into the demographic of young new players and GMs that they want to target with the new edition of RuneQuest. This is one reason why he was chosen to run the game between himself and his colleague David Naylor, who is a player in the RuneQuest stream along with Bridgett Jeffries, who we interviewed recently.

Jörg asks about how much James profits from the interviews with Jeff Richard (Chaosium’s vice president, creative director, and Glorantha lead designer). James confesses to have led the discussion towards upcoming features in his game every now and then.

Asked about his stumbling blocks with RuneQuest and Glorantha, James describes how coming from the typical Tolkienesque fantasy in most fantasy roleplaying games made the encounter with Glorantha something of a new territory. It was weird to encounter these tropes from the early days of the hobby. The beastmen were strange, not just the ducks but also creatures like scorpionmen or anthropomorphized animals. Chaos was a concept that was different from previous experiences.

To understand the big opponents of the Sartarites, James used the advice to think of the Lunars like the Roman Empire, and of the Praxian beast riders like the Mongol hordes invading Europe. Ludo commiserates that long-time Gloranthaphiles tend to use historical parallels that you may never have heard about before, like e.g. Thracians.

Another stumbling block for James was the multitude of gods that would pop up in the gaming material and the lore.

When asked whether James got to play RuneQuest Glorantha before running it, he explains that he was the GM for his local group.

As a long time Call of Cthulhu player and contributor James was familiar with the Basic Roleplaying system that was based on the original RuneQuest. Features specific to RuneQuest, like the different success levels or Strike Ranks, were alien and needed to get used to.

David Naylor gets another shout-out as being a great GM’s assistant (looking up rules on the fly when needed), and also for running the technical side of the streams.

Ludo asks where to get advice as a new GM if you don’t happen to be able to call Chaosium old-timers like Jeff or MOB. James suggests to start really small, isolating the initial setting enough so that the lore of the greater world is not yet required.

Jörg asks what material James used when he started GMing RuneQuest (for his friends). James started with the core rule books, but things came together when he got his hand on the Starter Set material (before it was published, as James and Dave designed the solo adventure in Book 3 of the Starter Set).

James describes how Dave and he had submitted a scenario for RuneQuest to Chaosium, which had gone through editorial feedback (and which was pending publication) before getting tasked with creating the Starter Set’s solo-adventure. Part of James and Dave’s approach was to make sure that the solo-adventure would work online as well.

James points out that the designers being relatively new to Glorantha was considered an advantage for creating the first contact for many players with both the rules and the setting.

Jörg asks about the ceremonies in the Starter Set’s SoloQuest which do require quite a bit of familiarity with the background, but those resulted from James and Dave rather than direct demands by the editors.

James talks about the feedback he got from his playtesters in his gaming group, including one player whose SoloQuest run ended in the protagonist dying in the decisive combat against Vostor after a long iteration of combat rolls, leading to another mechanic inserted to bring such a gridlock to a narratively pleasing end. That player ended up playing Vostor in the Starter Set scenarios!

James talks about his two previous GMing experiences. The first one was about a village facing the demands of both a Lunar tax collector and a Praxian warband, each demanding half the year’s production (which obviously could not be satisfied for both). The other one was more experimental, riffing on the Apocalypse Now upriver journey into hostile territory. Jörg remembers MOB’s scenario “Hut of Darkness” from Tales of the Reaching Moon which uses the same inspiration.

Ludo shifts the topic to the evolution of the shelves behind James in his videos. James talks about his growing collection, and shares how he moved three times during his work on the Chaosium YouTube channel. One time he dismantled and re-populated the shelf at a new home between a Sunday Call of Cthulhu recording and a Tuesday RuneQuest recording.

Ludo talks about his appreciation of the A New Hero stream and feels empowered by seeing James struggle with some of the crunch of the system while James still keeps the game flow. James talks about dealing with the crunch, again by keeping it focused, with deeper dives delayed while applying the principles of Maximum Game Fun and Your Glorantha Will Vary to the current game.

The New Hero stream doesn’t use published scenarios but uses original adventures. James explains that each of the streams has a focus on one specific product in the game line, and that would be the core rules book after having played the Starter Set scenarios on the previous stream.

The first theme would be the clan rivalry, and feedback from Jeff Richard suggested Greenstone as a suitable starting point for that kind of setting. Greenstone has one of the most important Earth temples in Sartar, which gave a logical backdrop for the characters’ backstory. The proximity of the Upland Marsh and its undead led to a follow-up on that theme, and so on.

Ludo asks about the sources used to research the region. James lists his sources, which included the Guide to Glorantha, the RuneQuest Glorantha Bestiary, the RuneQuest wiki, and the fan-maintained (and often not quite correct) Glorantha wiki for a general overview and for an idea what specifics to look up, and then using his access to the previously published material on the setting.

Ludo points out that the Bestiary is a lot more than just a catalogue of monsters: it also contains a significant amount of world-building, worth a read-through rather than just skimming for single monster stats.

As the only grognard in the podcast, Jörg cannot help but reminisce his experience playing in a Freeform set in the Greenstone region around the time the current tribes were formed, and how the rivals of the resident Orleving clan were the first presentation of clan life in Sartar in the RuneQuest 3rd edition Genertela box, still available in the free collection called “HeroQuest Voices“. These are in-world instructions to young adults in the various cultures and regions of Glorantha. They are excellent as player-facing hand-outs to get an idea about the setting. The individual content is available for download at the bottom of this page.

When asked for advice to get started, James first points to the online version of the Starter Set SoloQuest.

James’ next tip is that the new GM should select the pre-generated characters in the Starter Set that they feel comfortable with, and offer that selection to the players as the group composition will be influential on the style of the game.

James suggests to take the Strike Rank system not so much as a fixed turn order but just as an aid to determine who goes first after all the actions have been announced.

James then suggests that, to get a feel for the style of the setting, look at the real-world inspirations for cults, like ascetic monks for Humakt or fertility goddess and rites for Ernalda. Also look at the religions and try to make sense of interactions and parallels. Just asking whether it is coincidence that there are seven Lightbringers and Seven Mothers can lead to insights, for instance, and comparing it to the Roman re-interpretations of Greek mythology in their own pantheon.

Ludo asks about the Session Zero and determining the style and orientation of the campaign. James talks about setting the mood of the game (like leaving silly jokes at the door for a game of the Alien RPG), along with extra demands when running a game on a public stream. For the New Hero stream, they initially kept it small and focused, while for the Starter Set stream they would just jump in to get the general experience.

Jörg asks about the players derailing the original ideas for the session, and James tells about a whole subplot that was avoided by the players involving a fight against zombies inside a horse stable with horses trapped, and then centaurs coming to the rescue. That did not happen, and neither did the players return to a village on the edge of the Marsh to get more information on the undead, leaving a whole set of small subplots unplayed.

Ludo asks about personal favourite and least favourite aspects of the setting. James starts with confessing his love for the ducks of Glorantha, a concept that initially seemed alien, 1970ish, but resonating with his love for Duck Tales and an early tabletop roleplaying experience with a DIY game called Duckromancer (not the commercially available game by the same name, but a game where you play ducks and have skills like Duckplomacy and other puns galore). He also likes the Mostali, thanks to exposure to an enthusiastic fan at a convention. Stuff James enjoyed less were the big spanning political story arches as those are hard to make a connection with for new players unfamiliar with these struggles.

Ludo talks about how GMs coming from Call of Cthulhu are used to deal with rather ordinary people being tossed into stuff way beyond their pay grades, and how they (might) return from their adventure still as normal folk rather than big heroes. Switching to stories where the player characters are expected to be or become recognized heroes means a change in narrative style. James mentions how his academic background as a screenwriter ingrained all the narratological story-telling tropes, which mean that the hero emerges from a community, and at the end of the hero’s journey returns to that community.

We close the interview with our usual silly questions, like the favourite steed (bolo lizard), favourite culture (Orlanthi over Lunar or Praxian, with Sartar on the Praxian border possibly the ideal mixture), favourite cult (Humakt for the swords and asceticism, Urox the Storm Bull for the bad-ass boisterous guys), trollkin or ducks (ducks, of course), scorpionmen or undead (undead), favourite undead villain (Delecti over Brangbane), most interesting character homeland (Lunar Tarsh), and favourite runes (Death, Water, Truth, Fire).


The intro music is “The Warbird” by Try-Tachion. Other music includes “Cinder and Smoke” and “Skyspeak“, along with audio from the FreeSound library.

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

God Learner Sorcery

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

Glorantha Initiation: Lee, Irish Mythology, and Reverential Tones

Another episode of the Glorantha Initiation series is out! This series is about interviewing newcomers to Glorantha and giving them an opportunity to talk about their experience coming to the setting. This time we had the absolute pleasure of talking to Lee O’Connor, an illustrator and mythology nerd. We talk about Irish folklore, British pubs, hacking game systems, and more!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Cults of RuneQuest Announced

Online TTRPG circles were abuzz with excitation ever since Chaosium started talking about some “something big” a few days ago. We got a bit sidetracked due to some weird wording a couple days ago, but somehow we made it to the announcement!

Yep, it’s the much awaited cults books! It’s officially official now, as narrated by Josephine McAdam. Jeff clarified online what Josephine is reading, here:

BTW, the poem read in the video by the amazing Josephine McAdam is “Glorantha” by Greg Stafford, and it describes Greg’s vision and hopes for Glorantha. I think it is pretty darn special.

As communicated through forums and Facebook groups by Chaosium over the past few months, the cults material is now split into ten books of about 150 pages each (give or take). Eight of these books will focus on a different pantheon, and they’re meant to be used as much by the players as they are by the gamemaster. And by “used” I mean “purchased” of course. RuneQuest is getting splat books! Yay! We had asked Rick Meints about this a while ago…

Here is the release timeline:

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

There are hints here and there that some of these books may be available at ChaosiumCon, but nothing has been confirmed yet. It’s very probably that the good folks at Chaosum are trying to make it happen, but won’t be sure until they have the books there. Or maybe they already have the books but they want to make it a surprise. Either way, I wouldn’t expect more than a limited run of the Prosopaedia to be available there, but regardless of what it is, you can bet your hard-earned Clacks that I’ll shield bash anybody getting in my way to the market room.

I have to say that I don’t really like the “Cults of RuneQuest” name here. I would have preferred to put “RuneQuest” on top, and “Cults of Glorantha” below it as the actual name for the line. “Cults of RuneQuest” sounds a bit weird to me because I see “RuneQuest” as the game system. It’s like releasing a bestiary for Golarion but calling it “Monsters of Pathfinder” instead of “Monsters of Golarion”. It feels like a marketing and branding decision, wherein the goal is to put “RuneQuest” as big as possible on the cover… but hey, what do I know. I just don’t like it much.

The Prosopaedia

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

The first available book will be the Prosopaedia. Don’t get too excited, this one should be system-agnostic, so it’s not properly speaking “gaming material”. It’s not supposed to have any mechanics in it, but a list of all the gods (including those who won’t be in the next nine books) with their Runes, an elevator pitch, and maybe another paragraph or two with some extra backstory. This might be the book you use as an index or first reference before digging deeper elsewhere.

As far as I know, the last time Chaosium did a Prosopaedia for Glorantha/RuneQuest, it was with the above boxed set, almost 40 years ago. That Prosopaedia was much shorter than the one we’re getting though. The new one has a lot more material, and wonderful illustrations and graphic design throughout by Katrin Dirim… we got some exclusive peeks, so trust us, it’s preeeettttyy.

The Lightbringers

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

The first book of actual gaming material is of course the Lightbringers pantheon, with Orlanth and all his best mates.

The cover is great, and I both appreciate and find interesting how the credits at the bottom left mention writers and artists indiscriminately (Richard, Stafford, and Petersen are the game designers, Muzy and Pitie are the artists). We can see Orlanth, with a helmet that screams “I need to compensate for something“, wielding his famous four magic weapons… well almost. The Book of Heortling Mythology lists four of Orlanth’s “favourite weapons” as the Sandals of Darkness (stolen from Kyger Litor), the Lightning Spear (won from a long dead solar god), the Scarf of Mist (offered by a water goddess as a thank you), and the Shield of Arran (on loan from his sister-in-law Babeester Gor).

Of course nothing prevents Orlanth from wielding other weapons — I’m sure he has a whole rack of them on display in his living room. At least we can imagine that the shield in his lower left hand is the Shield of Arran, and that the lighting-bolt-thingie in this upper left hand is the Lightning Spear (not really a spear here anymore but who cares, we only want the cool electric powers!) The trident in his left hand still evokes a connection with a water deity. And wielding a broadsword in his last hand probably looks better than holding a pair of sandals. Orlanth is rounded up with a big wrestler-champion belt with the Mastery Rune on it, to drive home the point that he’s King of the Gods. Orlanth doesn’t do subtlety.

In front of Orlanth are two figures. The one on the right is almost definitely the Red Goddess: she’s red, she’s got some Moon tattoos, and she looks just like that other Red Goddess illustration that Loic Muzy shared a while ago:

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

The other one is a bit trickier to recognize. The golden hat evokes some sort of solar god, but he’s got some generally evil look: the purple skin tone (purple being often connected to Chaos), the red eyes, and a Chaos Rune on his shoulder. This might be Nysalor/Gbaji? (thanks to Austin Conrad for helping out on this one!)

The Earth Goddesses

The Earth pantheon book is scheduled to be released at the same time as the Lightbringers one. Once again, the cover is marvelous, but you might note the change in credits: exit Sandy Petersen, enter Simeon Cogswell (who usually does layout work for Chaosium). I’m not surprised that Sandy never contributed much to the female deities of Glorantha, but I’m curious about Simeon’s appearance here. Surely, they also did the layout for the Lightbringers book? It’s probably a temporary oversight on the first cover. That is, unless Simeon contributed to some of the Earth cults materials too…

As far as the art is concerned, we obviously see Ernalda, Queen of the Gods, in the centre. She’s got pet snakes, as one of the several animals associated with her. I’m sure there’s plenty of symbolism here that is going totally over my head, but that’s fine.

On the left might be Voria, the goddess of youth and spring, often seen as a daughter of Ernalda. But given she’s got a basket of what looks like wheat or barley (I can never tell the difference), this could also be Esrola, generally considered a sister of Ernalda.

On the right might be Hon-eel, the Lunar demi-goddess that “discovered” and popularized the cultivation of maize in Peloria. Between the red hair and the maize in her hands, that could fit (and I really appreciate here that Loic gave mixed colours to the maize kernels, because there’s more to life than just yellow corn!) But I would have expected Hon-eel to be shown on the later Lunar Way book, so… I don’t know? Notably enough, this figure has a Death Rune on her dress. I’m sure some of you already know who she is and are screaming at me through the screen, and sorry I can’t hear you. Oh well. I’m not very good at this. I’m too busy smiling at the little cute critter on the right of this cover.

Note that Jeff confirmed that this book won’t be limited to Genertela: “we get some love for Pamaltela”, he said on Facebook.

Mythology & Lunar Way

The next book after that will be a book of “Mythology”, which I think will contain generic information about the Gloranthan monomyth, along with other material that is either valid for most or all pantheons, or is independent of them.

And then everybody’s favourite book (right?), which is the one on the Lunar Pantheon! As Chaosium says:

And yes, that means rules to create player-characters who worship the Lunar Gods of Madness and Chaos.

(We’re not saying you should, we’re just saying you can).

Final Thoughts

It’s great to see some movement on this gigantic project — Jeff hinted at how much work this represents:

This is the culmination of the work Greg started over 50 years ago, and that he and I have worked on for decades. And has been my main project since even before RQG launched. So there is a lot there.

It’s also great to see this work split into more digestible books that players can purchase. I was making fun of Chaosium a bit previously with my splat books references, but I truly believe this is a better form factor.

  • First, it has the potential of making more money for Chaosium.
  • Second, it will be easier for gamemasters and players to flip through a ~150 pages book, than through a 500 pages book.
  • Third, and this is the big one for me: it’s more scalable. The original plan seriously gave me future-OCD anxiety. Sure, we would have had some great looking two volume slipcase with a whole bunch of central Genertelan deities… but what happens if/when Chaosium releases material on Western or Kralorelan cults? Aaargh, now there are extra books that aren’t in the slipcase and don’t have the same form factor. Uugggh.

So yeah, this is better, more modular, and more scalable.

The books for 2024 are not announced yet but we can probably expect books for the Solar pantheon, Darkness pantheon, Water pantheon, Chaos pantheon, and… err, possibly one about shamanic/spirit cults. But personally, my guess is that the tenth book will actually be about Malkioni cults and other Western cultures. Jeff has been posting about the west way too much over the past 6 months, and I think it’s because he’s been working on that. And like I said earlier, there is now potential for an eleventh book about Kralorelan mysticism, a twelfth book about gorp philosophy, and so on…

One big question that keeps coming back is whether the Red Book of Magic is still “complete”. It was originally built as a compilation of all the spells contained in the cults books, but that was a long time ago. With the expansion of the cults books from a two volume slipcase to a ten books series, some people are wondering if, basically, Jeff came up with more new spells. There is no word on this as far as I can tell, but if you spot a semi-official answer, please ping me!

Anyway, that’s it for the cults book for now (phew!) What are you excited about?

The Stafford Rule

A fun little thing about Greg Stafford, courtesy of John Wick.

“If you believe you’ve come up with a clever mechanic, Greg Stafford already did it.

You can find John’s original full article here.

Red Book of Magic Gets a Trailer Video

The “Chaosium Unveiled” video series are super-short product trailers, featuring a flip-through of a book with some marketing blurb as a voice over. Somehow the Red Book of Magic had no such video until now… well, that’s fixed!

Kraken Chapbooks Available At All Rolled Up

This isn’t an “official” piece of Chaosium news, but it’s officially licensed stuff so I’m putting it here… most of the “Kraken chapbooks” are now available (while they last) at All Rolled Up, the makers of the famous RPG accessory bundle of the same name.

These chapbooks are fundraisers for the Kraken gaming retreat, a cozy little convention located in Germany, and traditionally featuring a lot of Chaosium things, some good food, and some fine drinks. Or so I’m told.

As far as I can tell, the only chapbooks missing from the offer are the ones written by Robin Law: “Sharper Adventures in Glorantha” and “Mother of Monsters” (but you can watch Robin present the content of the first one in his Kraken seminar here… in fact, there are many super interesting Glorantha-related seminars on the Kraken YouTube channel!)

© 2023 Oliver Dickinson & Chaosium Inc.

The bulk of the available chapbooks are Griselda stories by Oliver Dicksinson. These are short stories that were published after “The Complete Griselda” was made, so… well, it’s not complete anymore I guess (that’s the kind of hubris you get when you name something “Complete”)

RuneQuest Fantasy Grounds and Foundry Updates


There aren’t any official updates for the RuneQuest module for Foundry yet, but the Github repository where development happens is public, and has been “known” for a while now. So I guess it’s OK to share it here, but be warned: this is a work in progress, it’s not even a beta release, it might break at any time, there are zero guarantees, etc. If you start using it for your game and run into issues, you only have yourself to blame. Don’t even file bug reports or merge requests, as it seems obvious that Moonpile and wake42 (the two developers currently working on it) are still in the thick of it.

However, if you just want to play around with it and see it evolve over time, simply install the RuneQuest Glorantha system from its manifest file (you can also file the URL in the installation instructions of the Github repository’s README). You should be familiar with this if you’ve ever installed Foundry systems not found in their “bazar”. The manifest URL goes at the bottom in the “Install System” dialog:

Once that’s done, you should see the RuneQuest Glorantha system installed, and you should be able to create a new World with it:

Make sure that you have a fairly recent version of Foundry. If all goes well, you should be able to see this kind of stuff:

The character sheets aren’t populated by default. I assume this will be fixed eventually, but at the moment you need to drag and drop many things onto your character sheet to make them show up: skills, Runes, Passions, even hit locations. The more stuff you drop onto the character sheet, the more tabs you’ll get: Runes, Gear, Spirit and Rune Magic, and so on.

Either way, you should be able to roll some dice! It even handles automatic experience checks and skill improvements:

Anyway, go play around with your copy of Foundry (or get one hosted at the Forge) if you want to see how it evolves in the future. I might check back on it in a few months.

Fantasy Grounds

The Fantasy Grounds support for RuneQuest isn’t out yet as far as I know, but you just need to follow the main developer on Twitter to watch the progress. The Starter Set is supposedly almost finished (give or take some testing):

As I understand it, this includes most of the Starter Set content available in digital format, ready to use on your virtual table. For instance, Jonstown NPCs (plus here), background, and so on:

Also, of course, the scenarios (plus here, here, and here). Mild spoilers for the Starter Set adventures, so don’t look too closely if you don’t want to know:

The last piece of content to add was the pre-generated characters:

Next, there will be a lot of testing, both to check that the VTT module isn’t buggy, but also to check that all the rules are correctly implemented and up to date with any errata. Thanks to MadBeardMan for all the updates!

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!

Corazón de Arena: Volumen Uno

© 2023 Jon Webb & Chaosium Inc.

Jon Webb’s awesome Praxian police campaign “Sandheart” has not only been translated into Spanish, its translation is also available in print-on-demand!

Disclaimer: I did a few illustrations and maps across the three volumes of the Sandheart series.

Community Content at ChaosiumCon

Photo from Chaosium © 2023 Chaosium Inc.

It looks like Chaosium got the approval from DriveThruRPG to, exceptionally, sell some print-on-demand community titles at ChaosiumCon! I’m hoping to grab a copy of Ships & Shores… wish me luck!

Community Roundup

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

Exploring Glorantha: The God Time Part 2

JM and Evan are exploring Glorantha again! The topic of their latest video is the “God Time”. This is part 2 and you can find part 1 here.

We had JM and Evan on the podcast to talk about ancient worldbuilding with JM’s bronze-age fantasy game “Jackals”.

Akhelas on Six Seasons in Sartar

Austin Conrad writes a review/campaign log of Six Seasons in Sartar, which he plays it as a “duet game” with his editor Bill (who was one of the hosts of our former Wind Words podcast):

Editor Bill and I have been playing through Andrew Logan Montgomery’s acclaimed Six Seasons in Sartar (SSiS) to check for ourselves what all the hype is about. This campaign has been of some particular interest to me because I rate SSiS pretty highly on its “armchair” quality, but the readable, narrative style of the text has left me with some reservations about how it’ll feel actually playing RuneQuest out of the book.

Being a mix of play report, opinions, and advice for running the campaign, you might find it interesting if you’re considering buying the book, or considering running it. The article only deals with the first adventure, however, so let’s hope Austin tells us how it goes with the rest.

The Gaming Table on RuneQuest Glorantha

The Gaming Table, hosted by Lexi, has recently posted this very short review of RuneQuest Glorantha. It’s sort of funny how she pronounced the name of setting “Glorathna” (I’m sure that’s how the Pelorians say it) so if anything that’s your reason to watch the video! Otherwise, at less than 9 minutes, it’s obviously a fairly high level look at the rulebook… but I always enjoy listening to how different people pick up on different elements of a game.

Manga Campaign Log

Anjin Neko shares on Twitter (roughly translated):

A fun TTRPG story: in high school I was into RuneQuest. I used pencils to draw comics on notebooks, such as character encounters at the start of the campaign, events during sessions, interludes between sessions, and sequels. I probably drew over 1000 pages! Delusions were springing up one after another and it was fun and I couldn’t stop!

This is absolutely amazing:

Thank you for reading

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

Fionn fighting Aillen by Beatrice Elvery, Jason and the Argonauts by Columbia Pictures, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay by Games Workshop

In this episode of our Glorantha Initiation Series, we had the absolute pleasure of talking to Lee O’Connor. He came to Glorantha during the initial pandemic lockdown by way of his love for mythology and the fact that his middle-aged British gamer friends wanted to recapture the joy of their youth by playing RPGs again.

We apologize for Lee’s squeaking and cracking chair, which causes some background noise during the interview.

Where to Find Lee

This is where you’ll find Lee online:

Lee contributed some art to the Duckpac sourcebooks for RuneQuest Glorantha.

Lee also has some more upcoming stuff for RuneQuest:

  • Upcoming black elves book by Brian Duguid
  • Upcoming Greydog clan book by Jonathan Quaife
  • Upcoming “in-world” historical book by Jonathan Quaife

Show Notes

Here is a list of stuff we talk about in the interview:

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

The newsletter comes one day later than usual because we just had a 3-day week-end here in British Columbia. I mostly spent it eating way too much good food with family and friends…

In other news, the God Learners are also now on Mastodon! Find us on the RPG-focused instance dice.camp: @thegodlearners@dice.camp

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Errata Out of the Suitcase

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Yay, it’s another “Out of the Suitcase” article! This one deals with how Chaosium published and distributed errata for their games over time:

How Chaosium handled corrections and errata wasn’t something I had thought that much about until recently, when Brian Holland showed me some photos of his recently acquired vintage RuneQuest rulebook. One photo was of the inside front cover and Brian wanted to confirm if it was the second edition from around 1980, which I verified as correct. Being me, I also told him that four of the eight printings of that book had the errata like in his copy, as opposed to being on a separate sheet of paper tucked into the RQ2 boxed set or not having errata at all. 

Later that day I started grabbing various boxed sets and books off of the shelf to see how they handled errata. 

As always, Rick shares a lot of fun facts about Chaosium history and all the effort required to design and print books in the 1970s and 1980s. “Cut and paste” meant a whole different thing back then…

Bonus point: a reference to the most famously painful typo in RuneQuest history! Check it out!

Greg Stafford’s D&D Copy

Photo from a long gone eBay auction

This is a pretty famous story so I’m sure most of you have already heard about it… but if you didn’t, MOB has you covered:

Q: Did Greg Stafford own the first-ever copy of D&D sold, bought directly from Gary Gygax himself?

A: TL/DR – Yes. 

Go read the anecdote, it’s a wonderful little story… however I think the wording is a bit misleading, since it makes it sound like Greg Stafford bought his copy of D&D directly from Gary Gygax. This is not the case: a friend of Greg bought the copy from Gary, and then shipped it to Greg.

Details, details, I know, but it would have been just a little bit more marvellous if it had been the case.

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 Treasures of Glorantha Volume 2

© 2023 Akhelas & Chaosium Inc.

The first volume of Treasures of Glorantha has reached Gold Best Seller status so the main author and editor of the book, Austin Conrad, has a teaser for a possible second volume:

The theme for Treasures of Glorantha Volume Two is Relics from the Second Age. My focus is to present items from the tumultuous Second Age of Glorantha’s history, which have survived until the modern Third Age. Naturally they could be used for a campaign set in the Second Age, but that’s not my main goal.

Read the rest for some notes of what Austin is currently working on, including many already-usable little blurbs for cool magic items!

Jeff’s Notes

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

The Life of Arkat

A short version of Arkat’s life:

By all accounts Arkat was born on the isle of Brithos in 375 ST. In 400 he accompanied a Brithini expedition to Arolanit attempting to liberate that land from Gbaji. In 410 he was appointed the supreme warlord of Seshnela and led an army against Tanisor. In 418, Arkat was killed by Palangio the Iron Vrok.

There are multiple versions of Arkat’s birth (that he was the son of Humakt, the son of a normal barbarian dude, etc), but one thing we know is that he grew up among the elves of Brithos. He was also part of the warrior caste (Brithos is pretty much ground zero for the caste-based Malkioni society) so I guess he wasn’t spending all his time in the forest?

Now, Brithos is hard to find on a map: it disappeared entirely from the mundane world. It was the residence of Zzabur, the Sorcerer Supreme, and the guy who made a giant magic ritual that resulted in many cataclysms including the Closing of the Oceans. Who knows where his island went, but we can only assume sending it “somewhere cool out there” was part of the goal. Fucking up the world to go into space? Yeah, Zzabur is the Gloranthan equivalent of Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. Only at least Zzabur was actually competent at his job… Oh well.

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Pardon me the inelegant Argan Argar Atlas index page capture, here, but this is one of the only maps on which I could show you Old Trade in context… because even though Brithos disappeared, it left a little something behind. The island of Old Trade, in the Neliomi Sea, is the last physical remnant of Brithos. You can go there to trade weird ass ancient stuff and powerful magic thingies. Watch out: you can’t find this island unless someone leads you there, so you need to find an Old Trade merchant (possibly in a coastal port city in Fronela or Ralios) to go there. Brithos was probably where Old Trade is now, in the Neliomi Sea, west of Genertela, but it was certainly many times bigger.

Anyway, Arkat went to Arolanit (on the continental coast, facing Brithos) and started fighting Nysalor (aka Gbaji) and his armies. You can spot Arolanit at the top of the below map. Jeff also mentions Tanisor, which is a kingdom in western Ralios that you can spot just east of the big Tanier river that goes all the way down.

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Tanisor was, at the time, led by the “Vampire Kings” and their “Vampire Legion”. This is pretty ironic given that Nysalor was a big Sun guy (he was ruling the “Bright Empire” after all!) I guess it goes to show he was more into Chaos than into the Sun. Curse you, Gbaji the Deceiver!

Arkat had to try a few times before winning against Tanisor. What helped was getting cozy with the Seshnelan king and speed-running the Man-of-All training of the local Hrestoli Malkioni. That’s when he became a Seshnelan Warlord, with the explicit mission to go destroy those nasty vampiric neighbours. He kept going, initiated into to the Orlanth cult (he may have only been an initiate of the Invisible God cult until then), met a bunch of trolls and other non-humans (remember, it’s about the friends you make on the way), and eventually was killed by this Palangio guy, who was one of Nysalor’s lieutenants. Arkat’s body was dismembered and his soul cast down into some deep hell.

But that’s not all! Most of Arkat’s cool stuff happens after he gets resurrected by Harmast’s Lightbringers heroquest:

In 422, Arkat returned from the Underworld with his Lightbringer companions. In 426, Arkat broke his cult vows and joined the cult of Humakt. In 432, Arkat and his Western Army landed in the Shadowlands.

This is not your typical heroquest: Harmast took two years to complete it. This was the first time the Lightbringers Quest was re-enacted in Time, as far as I can tell, and Harmast is credited as the first real heroquester in Orlanthi culture.

The Lightbringers Quest is often misunderstood as a quest to bring back someone from the dead — the original myth did bring back Yelm from the Underworld after all. But that’s not really it: the goal is always to “fix the cosmos”. Or at least it should be… one reason Kallyr’s heroquest in 1625 fails is probably because she did it for the wrong reasons.

So Harmast wasn’t really aiming to resurrect Arkat. It’s even doubtful that Harmast even knew much about Arkat, if at all. I think that Harmast considered the world to be broken after the failure of the first empires, the rise of Nysalor, and, you know, the rampant spread of Chaos everywhere. Somehow, the cosmos answered Harmast by giving him Arkat. Arachne Solara moves in mysterious ways, but doesn’t have much imagination either. I’d love to see a Lightbringers heroquest end with something else than someone coming back from the dead…

A whole bunch of stuff happens after that, but you can summarize it by saying that Arkat continues to level up, with some severe multi-classing thrown in the mix. He quits his previous cults, joins the cult of Humakt, grows his army with bands of Orlanthi and Uz, joins the cult of Kyger Lytor and becomes a troll, and ends up a Zorak Zorani. An increasing path of bad-assery, basically.

In 448 he took the name Kingtroll and joined the cults of Kyger Litor and Zorak Zoran. In 450 atop the Tower of Dreams, amid the City of Miracles, he dismembered Gbaji. No longer a troll, he returned to Ralios where he settled. In 500 (or 525 depending on the story), Arkat retired to Statham Well, always a difficult place to find, and his constellation appeared in the Sky.

So that’s it: Arkat wins against Nysalor/Gbaji, and then goes for a well-earned retirement in Ralios until his apotheosis. The whole thing is shady though: it’s unclear what happened inside the Tower of Dreams in Dorastor. Some people say Nysalor planned it all and actually wanted to get torn apart to spread his gift of Illumination to everybody. The Red Goddess later made use of that, but that’s another story. There’s a whole bunch of other debates about what followed but that is, again, another story.

I haven’t found any information on Statham Well (except a brief reference in RQ3’s Troll Gods) so I guess it is indeed difficult to find nowadays! But back then I figure that everybody knew where it was: a kingdom spontaneously formed around him, and for 50 years Arkat was a sort of philosopher farmer, I think. He had a lot of teachings to share, having pushed the Malkioni, Humakti, and Uz ways of life farther than anybody. He had also developed many new heroquesting techniques for exploring and manipulating the mythical landscape, so he started sharing that around too.

There’s a nice symmetry in Arkat’s life between the 50 years of his anti-Gbaji crusade and the 50 years of his retirement, so I’m going to ignore the 525 date and only go by the 500 one.

There are a few more paragraph in the note, so check it out.

Miscellaneous Notes

Community Roundup

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

Glorantha Book Club on Discord

This is a guest segment by David Castle, lightly edited by Ludovic

Photo by Chaosium © 2023 Chaosium Inc.

A new Glorantha Book Club is starting up soon on the Glorantha Discord server (invite link).

We will be reading and discussing the Guide to Glorantha over the course of a year. All discussion will be via text messages, so you can join in when you want, and as much as you want. The Guide has been divided up into 50 chunks, and we will be discussing one chunk every week. People new to Glorantha are very welcome: we will be discovering the world together as we read. Seasoned Lankhor Mhy sages are equally welcome for the wisdom they will undoubtedly bring to the discussion.

If your copy of the Guide is looming over you unread, this is the opportunity to finally read it in a structured way with a friendly group of fellow fans. And if you don’t yet own a copy of the Guide, there is still time to buy it and start reading before we begin (editor’s note: you can also buy the PDF version here, it’s a lot easier to use as research material, it’s a lot cheaper, and it doesn’t take up precious shelf space!)

We start over the week beginning Sunday 12th March when we will be discussing pages 6-17, which includes the Foreword, World of Glorantha, and Introduction.

For any questions, please contact DavidCastle#8589 on Discord.

Charms and Amulets for RuneQuest

Skulldixon (whom we interviewed) has a some advice for including cool charms and amulets into your RuneQuest games:

So over the last two days, I came up with the following general idea of how Protective charms and Amulets could be introduced into Runequest without replacing any of the mechanics or items already found within the game. Enjoy and please let me know what you think of these rules. 

Roman gold amulet pendant, 2nd century CE, © 2023 John Hopkins University

The rules aren’t exactly explained in a “rules” way — it’s more a bunch of vague ideas floating in Skulldixon’s… errr… skull. But it’s a nice basis to add a little bit of “everyday folk magic” to RuneQuest, so to speak. One of the many things I don’t like too much about RuneQuest as a conduit to gaming in Glorantha is that it makes everything seem very formulaic, with spirit magic and Rune magic clearly defined with spell lists and precise mechanics. Skulldixon’s idea of charms and amulets brings a bit of slightly more freeform magic to the setting, although it’s low-key.

As far as I understand, these charms and amulets have magic points stored in them that you can spend to offset ability rolls, like the Luck mechanic in Call of Cthulhu but tied to a specific ability. It seems very subtle, though, since Skulldixon recommends limiting charms and amulets to 5 MP or less. I think that means you get at best a 5% bonus to a roll? I suppose that it’s not uncommon to carry multiple trinkets for multiple usages.

Compared to more powerful enchanted items, made of durable material and imbued with POW, the idea for charms and amulets seems to be that they’re easy to make (using clay, wood, and other quick & cheap materials), easy to enchant (using Magic Points), and closer to mundane items.

Anyway, check out the article… What do you think?

GoblinCaveTV Looks at the RuneQuest Starter Set

Previously mentioned GoblinCaveTV has done an “unboxing and mini-review” of the RuneQuest Starter Set on their video channels. You can catch it on YouTube here:

As is often the case with the RuneQuest Starter Set, the reviewer, Karsh the Goblin, praises the amount of material included in the box, the SoloQuest, the variety between the three adventures, and the amount and variety of pre-generated characters. Karsh also shares a few good points about flaws or annoyances.

Reviewing the RPG Writer Workshop Adventures

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Previously mentioned Austin Conrad has some comments about the recent bundle of RuneQuest adventures that came out of last year’s RPG Writer Workshop. My title says “Reviewing” but it’s not quite accurate:

As a reminder, this is a “First Impressions” article, which is somewhere in between a review and a “here’s what I liked!” listicle. I haven’t had a chance to take these adventures to the table, so I don’t feel super comfortable claiming this is a full review.

There are still some extensive comments on each of the four scenarios, and the conclusion is pretty positive:

Again, well done, all of you. Lovely batch of adventures, and literally EVERYONE who likes RuneQuest should go out and pick up the bundle. It’s an easy win for everyone involved. Four sessions (or more) of gameplay for six bucks? That’s a no-brainer, especially at the quality which these creators have put on the table.

Check out Austin’s full article here, or grab the bundle from DriveThruRPG!

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.

Jakaleel Voodoo Doll

Creative Commons picture

Do you want to introduce voodoo magic into your Gloranthan adventures? No problem! Because it looks like Romans used them to cast spells on people.

For example, the above photo shows a voodoo doll found in Egypt and dating to the 4th century CE. It was placed in a clay pot with a scroll containing a “binding spell” for woman whom the spell-caster was infatuated with… yeah, incels and other creepy dudes aren’t a new thing.

Anyway, you can use this as reference and/or inspiration for some Lunar sorcery, possibly coming from the Jakaleel cult. She’s the “witch” character of the Seven Mothers cult, and practices “black magic”, whatever that is. I’m sure it includes voodoo dolls because, well, it’s cooler if it does, right?

More here.

The Colossus of Constantine

Roman Emperor Constantine the Great ruled in the early 300s CE and wasn’t just a megalomaniac based on his chosen moniker, but also based on the fact that he commissioned the building of a giant status of himself.

Creative Commons photo

This “Colossus of Constantine” was placed in one of Rome’s basilicas, and is believed to have been about 12 meters high. Nowadays, we only have pieces of it, including the head which is 2.5 meters tall.

Creative Commons photo

But now, the Factum Foundation has recreated the statue for an exhibition that is running for just another week in Milan (no idea where the statue will go after that). The statue looks absolutely stunning:

Check out the Factum Foundation website for plenty of photos and information about the construction process. I find that this is great to understand the scale of what a Great Temple might look like in Glorantha.

Roman Sex Toy Found in Northumberland

This unmistakably shaped wooden object was found at the archaeological dig of Vindolanda, a Roman fort located near Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.

Phallic objects were pretty common in the Roman culture but they were most often used as decoration, as good luck charms, or as religious artifacts. This one was found in a ditch with discarded shoes.

When [experts] analysed it they found both ends were noticeably smoother, indicating repeated use over time.

Ahem… they are not discarding other theories, such as the possibility that it was a pestle for grinding ingredients but come on, people. Yeah, it was used for grinding all right! Plus, it’s possible it was used for both cooking and, err, cocking. Each end has its own use.

In a Gloranthan game, you could imagine this kind of object to be a noble’s wedding gift from the local Uleria temple, for instance. Maybe the player characters need to get it blessed. Alternatively, maybe a local king or queen got theirs stolen and it’s up to the party to recover it? Send me your ideas!

More here.

Thank you for reading

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

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

God Learner Sorcery

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

Episode 20: Imther, Edge of the Empire

Joerg and I welcome Harald “Jajagappa” Smith to the podcast, as we talk about his recent Jonstown Compendium book “Edge of Empire”, focused on the Lunar province of Imther. We also discuss cheeses, in-world documents, dwarf-speak, maps, and more!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Event Registration is Open for ChaosiumCon 2023

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

As previously promised, the event registration for ChaosiumCon 2023 is open! Head over to Tabletop Events for the full schedule.

I (Ludovic) am going again this year. I will be running my Telmori one-shot a second time, but I will also be part of two panels! I’ll be on the “Podcasting 101” panel with many much better and more successful podcasters and streamers (I mean, Seth f’ing Skorkowsky is on there!), and I’ll also be on the “How to Stop Worrying and make Glorantha Yours” panel (with Jeff f’ing Richard!)

As you can imagine, my imposter syndrome is going right through the roof right now… so if you’re at ChaosiumCon this year, come by and say hello!

ChaosiumCon 2023 Auction Catalog

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Speaking of ChaosiumCon, this year the list of products being auctioned at the convention has been prepared and published ahead of time! This is really great for any collector on the lookout for a specific item.

See anything you like? See here, or download the catalog PDF directly here.

Lucia Versprille Join the RuneQuest Team

© 2022 Seersworld

Lucia Verpsrille, the lead and art director behind the very pretty looking Islands of Sina Una, is joining the RuneQuest team as an art director “for an unannounced RuneQuest project“. Given the themes of Sina Una, with its focus on culture, cosmology, spirits, and flavourful mechanics, I think this is a great match for Glorantha!

Lucia is also playing on one of Chaosium’s official Call of Cthulhu actual plays.

Japanese Edition of RuneQuest Announced

From Chaosium’s blog:

Today our friends at FrogGames announced a forthcoming new licensed Japanese edition of RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, the mythic fantasy RPG created by Greg Stafford and first published by Chaosium in 1978.

Well, that explains why my social media filters suddenly filled up with posts in Japanese…

Hobby Japan translated and sold a portion of RuneQuest 3rd Edition from 1987 to 1994. At the time, the game was even more popular in the Japanese market than Dungeons & Dragons and it still has many fans in Japan and abroad. FrogGames’s announcement has been well-received by TTRPG fans in Japan.

I don’t imagine that the new edition will have the crazy covers of the aforementioned 1990s edition (more here and here) but hey, we can hope! The Japanese edition is scheduled for “fall of 2023”.

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.

City Gods and Patron Deities

Here’s a note explaining the difference between a city’s god and a city’s patron deity.

A city’s patron deity is the protector of the city, and is often a powerful god of the local pantheon. For example, in most Sartarite cities, Orlanth Rex is the patron of the city, and his cult is often tied intimately with that of the city founder/city god. In Dara Happa, Yelm is the patron deity of Raibanth, but not the city god. Orlanth, Yelm, the Red Goddess, Ernalda, and Godunya and the Exarchs are among the most important patron deities in Genertela.

For those of you with only the basic RuneQuest books:

  • Dara Happa is up north from Dragon Pass, in the region known as Peloria. Traditionally the heart of the Sun cults, it’s now part of the Lunar Empire. Raibanth is a big city there.
  • Godunya is the Dragon Emperor of Kralorela, the sort of fantasy-Asia land that covers the eastern coast of Genertela. The Exarchs are the the Kralorelan governors that govern the state under Godunya.

You can see Raibanth not too far south of the giant crater left by behind when the Red Moon went up in the sky long ago:

The fun thing is that I just learned that Raibanth is split in three. The rivers running through the city mark the limits of each part. There used to be big bridges connecting the three quarters, but due to some rebellion on the part of the Dara Happans in the 1200s, the Red Emperor destroyed all bridges but one, and gave each quarter to a different jurisdiction (in this case Silver Shadow, Darjiin, and Kostaddi). So yes, bureaucracy is yet another weapon at the disposal of the Lunar Empire.


The city god is the god of the individual city, worshiped by local officials and citizens. It provides social harmony, guards against civil strife, and often has other associated gods. Sometimes the city god is little more than a local subcult of the patron (such as Sartar with Orlanth Rex), sometimes the city god serves also as the patron deity (such as Pavis). City Harmony is the special Rune spell most commonly associated with the city god. The city god’s magic can only be cast within the precincts of the city.

Jeff gives some examples of well-known city gods and patron deities (go check it out!) The way I understand it, the city god is unique to that city (i.e. you won’t find anybody worshipping that god elsewhere), whereas the patron god is a much more widespread cult but is of some particular significance to that city (and might therefore have a notable temple or landmark there).

The City Harmony spell is in the Red Book of Magic page 28.

City gods and village gods generally don’t have many initiates: only the city ring, village chieftain, and so on are initiates. However, the majority of people living there are lay members. In terms of RuneQuest mechanics, these gods and spirits are urban wyters.

Lay Membership

This note on lay members simply outlines how most people in Glorantha are initiates of one cult, but lay member of a few others as well. This shouldn’t be news to most of you, but if it is, remember that offering lay membership to your players makes things a bit more interesting for their characters. The gamemaster gets a few more avenues to deliver plot hooks, and the players get access to discounts on some skill training and spirit magic.

Troll Occupation of the Big Rubble

Let’s head out to the Big Rubble in Prax:

One important way by which humans survived the Troll Occupation of the Big Rubble was through the Pavis priests. Strategic use of City Harmony, small fire, earth, and water elementals, and the Support spell, especially aided by the presence of Lord Pavis, was enough to let humans survive in their strongholds.

Okay, let’s read up on the Troll Occupation of the Big Rubble… it’s tricky because the history of Pavis and the Big Rubble is one of the most convoluted sagas in Glorantha. As I understand it, it goes a bit like this:

  1. God Learners see that giants put their babies in cradles and send them down the Zola Fel in a cradle full of treasures… because giants’ parenting skills suck. So around 720 the God Learners build a city along the river called Robcradle to, well, rob the cradles.
  2. To accomplish this the God Learners had formed an alliance with the Pure Horse People of Pent, who came raiding around Prax every now and then, and which the nomad tribes of Prax (already there at the time) did very much not like.
  3. Pissed off by this, in 800 the giants come down from the mountains and, with the Praxians, fuck Robcradle up. The Praxians go on a plundering tour of other local cities and towns like Adari. The giants put down big slabs of stone to wall off Robcradle.
  4. A weird guy named Pavis, who was in Adari when the Praxians raided it, becomes a big magical nerd. He finds a giant statue up north in the mountains, and animates it like a giant Pacific Rim mecha robot. Along with the Pure Horse people, he marches the statue to the old site of Robcradle, where various nomads and giants reside. The big statue beats the crap out of the giants. Praxian god Waha comes out and also gets beaten. Pavis is on a roll. But then, Pavis gets soft: he starts making some compromises with the Praxians and heals Waha in exchange for peace.
  5. The big mecha statue is all spent and falls inside Robcradle. The dwarfs come out and make deals with Pavis if they can mine the sweet stuff from the statue.
  6. In 850 the city is complete and Pavis “retires permanently”, becoming the city god and patron from his fancy villa/temple.
  7. After this there are some more problems. In the late 800s the giants come back for round two. The city fights back, especially with the help of the dwarfs, who fix the ugly slabs of stone around the site and turn them into nice big walls with cool looking gates.
  8. In the mid 900s, a guy called Jaldon Toothmaker unites some of the animal nomad tribes, who had been gradually pushed towards the Wastelands by the increased presence of horse riding tribes around Pavis. Jaldon had some crazy statue-magic of his own and we… (checks notes) chewed his way through the city’s walls. Well maybe he didn’t do it, and it was one of his weird giant statues. Who knows. Anyway, Jaldon sacks the place.
  9. From the mid 900s to the mid 1200s, the city goes to shit. It keeps getting raided by Praxian nomads, despite the best attempts of the local people to find some effective leader to protect them. You might actually have heard about the last of those before we get to the Troll Occupation… that last human leader was Balastor. His barracks are famous.
  10. Okay, we’re almost done, I promise! So the human residents of the city-formerly-known-as-Pavis are completely fed up and decide to call the trolls for help. So the trolls roll in around the time the Praxian nomads are once again raiding the city. The trolls kick some their ass, but not before Balastor, the “last popular leader of the humans”, is killed. So the trolls sort of look around and go “…errrr, well, I guess we’ll take it?

Lo and behold, the trolls seal the nice walls left behind by the dwarfs and the humans, and they occupy the place from 1237 to 1539, when the city is opened again. This isn’t by choice on the part of the trolls, by the way. It’s because of the strange event called the Dragonewts’ Dream, during which weird ghost Dragonewts punch holes through the city’s walls because they want to go through. Let’s not go into that now…

For three centuries, the humans of the Big Rubble survived in their little strongholds, relying on the Pavis cult, troll internecine conflict, and the dangers of the Big Rubble to prevent their extermination. No doubt the Kaggroka clan found it easier to make the humans pay a tribute in food and service than to trying to eliminate them. In the world within the great walls, they were the rulers, but their rule was constantly unsteady and often challenged.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Okay so if you look at the (modern) map of the Big Rubble above, look for “Temple Hill” north of the Troll Stronglands. This hill was the centre of the troll presence in the Big Rubble during the Troll Occupation. The “Kaggroka” that Jeff referenced above is the name of the leading troll clan at the time. In fact, Temple Hill had a “Kraggroka Fort” on top of it for a while. You can find a bit of information on them, and the other troll clans, in Big Rubble: The Deadly City.

Another key to human survival was the approximately 200 dwarfs in the Big Rubble. The Flintnail cult is closely associated with Pavis and the dwarfs aided their human allies.

As mentioned, the dwarfs helped make the walls, and probably stayed there in the Big Rubble during the Troll Occupation to continue their mining operation of Pavis’ old big cool statue…

Anyway, there’s a lot going on in Pavis and the Big Rubble, much of which I don’t know about yet. I’m looking forward to learning more!

Mythology is Not Set in Stone

What the title says:

It must be emphasized that mythology is not set in stone. Each myth, endlessly retold and re-experienced, has countless variations. The name of a god will change from one story to the next, a twist in a tale will be explained in different ways by neighboring groups.

There’s quite a bit to unpack in this note but the following message is something Jeff often repeats, so I guess it’s important:

We are trained to look at myths as texts, to be argued about, dissected, interpreted and reinterpreted. Although that can be useful, it is the weakest way of experiencing them. Take these stories and experience them through play! Fill your lungs with Orlanth’s breath, call forth a challenge against the world, and strive for adventure! And that experience is going to be filled with inner Truth the written text lacks.

Expats in Coastal Cities

Remember to put communities of expatriates from various origins in your coastal cities, like Nochet:

The seas have been opened for some 40 years, and by now many thousands of people have travel between the continents. Probably some 10-20,000 people from the Holy Country have emigrated overseas, and Kethaelan “colonies” are common sights in many coastal cities around the Homeward Ocean.

It works the other way as well, as there is are Fonritian, Kralorelan, and Teshnite “colonies” in cities such as Nochet, Handra, and Noloswal.

Something to keep in mind, as my players are headed for the Holy Country right now…

The Black Sun

Something I have absolutely zero knowledge about… and no time left to research it, so you’re on your own here:

[The] Black Sun is an important mystical concept – the Shadow of Yelm. The trolls found him on the Fields of Doubt, and those led by Dozaki decided to follow the Black Sun, who became a powerful ally of the trolls. At the Glory of the Black Sun, the Black Sun’s forces crushed Chaos and dismembered Tien. At Winter Win, the Black Sun aided Himile and the Blue Moon trolls to destroy Chaos.


The Black Sun last appeared during the Sunstop, when he eclipsed the Sun and then disappeared.

Again, I have no idea what this all is about… and there’s a lot to unpack. Something for another time.

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 Grognard Files: RuneQuest Remaster

© 2022 Dirk the Dice

Dirk The Dice, host of the excellent Grognard Files podcast, has started remastering his old episodes. The first two episodes of his podcast were focused on RuneQuest, looking back at the 2nd edition that Dirk played so much back in the 1980s.

If you have never listened to the Grognard Files, it’s a good opportunity to get started! Both RuneQuest episodes have been remastered (part 1 and part 2). If you have already listened to them, you can check out Dirk’s “Remaster Reflection” added at the end of the episode, as he reflects back on making these episodes.

Of course, you can listen to them in your favourite podcast app by searching for “Grognard Files”.

Matthew Constantine on the RuneQuest Starter Set

A couple week ago Matthew unboxed the RuneQuest starter set on his YouTube channel. Now it’s time for a review on his blog!

There are a few bits I like in this review:

The setting was huge and rich and full of concepts I didn’t really understand.  I discovered the YouTube channel Bud’s RPG Review, and he covered a bunch of RuneQuest, which started teaching me some of the names and places, but I was still missing something, some essential element that would open Glorantha to me.  Even after reading the Quickstart Rules and The Glorantha Sourcebook, I was not getting it.  I knew more, but still lacked understanding.  It was only when I watched a little bit of an actual play of the video game Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind that my third eye opened and I “got” it.  That prompted me to pull this box set off the shelf and finally crack it open.

That’s an interesting and unusual way to “get” Glorantha that I had not heard before. Maybe I’ll check out those Six Ages actual plays!


Where I was really stuck with roleplaying in Glorantha was with what an actual session would look like. […] in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, what do you actually do?  I’ve started to realize that it’s more like my favorite Fantasy RPG, Ars Magica in certain ways.  It’s about building community and legacy.  It’s about weaving your stories together with and into something bigger.

It’s interesting to me because the “what do you actually do in this game?” was one of the recurring questions in Baz Stevens’ excellent short podcast series “RuneQuest: Year Zero“. Good that Matthew found the answer, as, if I remember correctly, Baz was left dissatisfied that the Starter Set didn’t really give a compelling answer.

Anyway, go read the whole review!

Some Cool Looking Warriors

Illustration by @clarkandcom

Over on Twitter, Clark & Company made this cool looking illustration to celebrate the announcement of a Japanese version of RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. Simple, but effective.

Illustration by John Hugues

John Hugues replied with an illustration of his own… you can find much more of John’s digital art on his website!

Exploring RuneQuest with Merric

Merric Blackman (aka merricB on Twitter) is Exploring the RuneQuest RPG on his blog.

As always, I enjoy finding little bits that jump at me for some reason or other — because I never thought about it, or because I agree, or because I disagree.

For instance:

However, there’s one aspect to RuneQuest that I find out of place. And that’s the combat system. It’s quite detailed – the basic mechanics are more so than that of Dungeons & Dragons. […]

[…] And it is also very deadly. The advice I’ve been getting from friends who play the game is to generally stay out of combat. […]

Really detailed combat system. Don’t go into combat. Bit of a gap there.

There is also a summary of Merric’s experience running A Rough Landing, the first adventure of the RuneQuest Starter Set. Without going too much into spoilers, I found interesting that Merric raised some issues running the “investigation” part of the scenario, when wandering around the farms in the second part. One of my criticisms of A Rough Landing (and why I prefer The Broken Tower as a scenario for newcomers) is that it feels fairly straightforward, very much like a standard D&D adventure. But maybe that’s not the case for everyone — in fact, Matthew Constantine (see above) also raised the issue that A Rough Landing might be a bit tricky to run for some gamemasters… huh. Maybe I’ve run too much Call of Cthulhu and investigating things comes naturally to my players.

A few other notable comments:

It doesn’t take long for us to run up against stuff in combat that annoys us. Some of it is definitely a legacy of all our D&D play – but we don’t only play D&D. Some of it is just stuff that feels bad.

Stuff like strike ranks. […] This is, quite simply, a pain. […]

Huh huh. Y’all know how I feel about Strike Ranks as implemented in RQ2 and RQG. Anyway, it’s OK in the end:

As the session ends, I’m feeling optimistic about the game. While I can’t say the combat system thrills me, there’s a lot of things about it I do like, and the early part of the session with the role-playing and investigations went very well.

Read the whole thing here! I’m hoping to hear more from Merric.

Thank you for reading

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

Edge of Empire and map of the “known world” © 2022 Runesmith Publications & Chaosium Inc., Argan Argar Atlas map © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Our guest for this episode is Harald Smith, aka Jajagappa.

You can also find Harald on the Facebook RuneQuest group and Jonstown Compendium Creators Circle group.


Jajagappa is the dog-headed psychopomp of Saird, known for his net. Harald grew fond of this deity when diving into Saird, the region north of Dragon Pass.

Harald started in the early eighties, in time for the classic RQ2 campaigns, and followed through the RQ3 era until he sort of dropped out in the late nineties. He resumed his activity around the time the Guide to Glorantha was in preparation, and has been one of the more active posters on the forums since.

When he returned, Harald played a few games by forum.

Harald speaks about different pace in that kind of game, how to apply GM techniques, and the technology that a platform like rpg-geek offers. Some of Harald’s game are still on rpg-geek.

RuneQuest Glorantha games:

HeroQuest Glorantha games:

Main Topic

© 2022 Runesmith Publications & Chaosium Inc.

Edge of Empire is a supplement for playing RuneQuest in the Kingdom of Imther.

Harald describes Imther as the smallest of the Lunar Provincial kingdoms, and its position.

Imther has been part of the Lunar sphere for centuries and doesn’t have the sense of being occupied by foreign troops that was so characteristic for Lunar occupied Sartar and Pavis.

The mountains of Imther are also home to a colony of dwarfs which used to trade metal with the King of Imther, but that lineage has died out, and for the trade to resume there needs to be a new king who gains tthe trust of the Mostali.

Another main topic is the interaction with the Lunar Empire.

When the Empire still was young, a hero from Imther by the name of Jannisor nearly conquered the empire, but got betrayed on the bridgte to the Red Moon in Glamour.

This was followed by the campaigning of the Conquering Daughter who esstablished the provincial Kingdoms, and who built the branch of the magical road reaching to Hilltown in Imther. She turned the barbarian lands of Sylila into a Heartland satrapy.

North of Imther is the forbidden land of Tork, a land where Jannisor bound the maddened and chaotically tainted followers of the Mad Sultan, survivors of the First Battle of Chaos, and how violating its fluctuating border may release them.

South lie the provincial kingdoms of Holay and Saird with the Provincial administration, an area where Dara Happan and Orlanthi culture have merged over the centuries. Northwest lies Vanch, another sort-of Orlanthi kingdom whose people are adept at “borrowing” things and customs permanently.

Harald’s version of Imther wouldn’t be complete without the local variants of known cults whose cult write-ups are part of this book.

Most prominent is Khelmal, a local take on Yelmalio with a few peculiarities, and local myths. Then there is Nealda, a local name for the Earth Goddess with local myths in addition to known Ernalda myths.

An important role falls to the trickster gods of Imther, the most important of whom is Orlantio, a variant of Orlanth. There are compelling reasons to keep a trickster in your clan.

Then there is the Imtherian pride in their cheeses, shared by the author. Some of the first published texts on Imther (in Codex Vol.3) was about the cheese.

There are many flavour pieces in the book that help get a sense for the region. There are examples of Imtherian sayings and similar commonly used phrases and references to local myths. There is also the “Lunar Survey” which offers an in-game view on Imther through the perspective of the Lunar empire.

We ask Harald about the history of his work on Imther. He originally picked an area of Glorantha that was underdeveloped to do his own thing. Then he pitched the idea of an Imther sourcebook to Chaosium/Avalon Hill but the timing wasn’t right. Harald shared and developed his work through the Glorantha Digest and the gaming conventions of the time.

This eventually led to two issues of the short-lived fanzine New Lolon Gospel (more here). Harald and Joerg even briefly discuss the different covers of various international printings of the fanzine.

Harald also mentions working with Greg Stafford and Jeff Richard, and having some of his creations canonized.

Ludo asks how the Orlanthi of Imther ended up herding goats and making goat cheese.

Ludo follows with how Edge of Empire has a cool clan creation section with many possible foundational myths for your adventurers’ community. This came from the HeroQuest material, which had something similar.

Harald discusses how he portrays dwarfs in his game. Edge of Empire includes several example conversations to be had with dwarfs, and this showcases Harald’s very particular choice of speech patterns for this obscure Elder Race.

Edge of Empire contains many tools for procedural play. Joerg praises the book as being the closest to Griffin Mountain on the Jonstown Compendium, with Griffin Mountain being the gold standard for sandbox exploration games. Harald says that he wanted to provide the necessary tools for people to design their own campaign in Imther. More “proper” scenarios might follow in further sourcebooks.

Joerg says we should talk about Harald’s cartography work. Ludo says that he is mostly interested in Harald’s amazingly complex map of Nochet. Lots of little buildings and, we learn, other maps about underground waterways (because he had an Esrolian game that required knowing about this!)

You can see the map of Nochet here. Harald talks about the various maps he’s done over the years, some of which are visible on BRP Central.

We go into our usual “wildcard questions”, with a few digressions on Borderlands or the evolution of Glorantha’s canon over the years.

Harald teases a few different campaign books he’s considering writing to expand on his Imther sourcebook. Harald also recommends looking at Peter Hart’s Hydra book for resources on playing in the Lunar provinces.

Some of the art in Edge of Imther is done by Harald’s daughter Rebecca Smith. Check out her portfolio. She takes commissions including characters (B&W or colour) and cover designs!

Harald will be at Chaosium Con 2023, and will even be running a panel on Exploring Glorantha beyond Dragon Pass and Prax.


The intro music is “The Warbird” by Try-Tachion. Other music includes “Cinder and Smoke” and “Skyspeak“, along with audio from the FreeSound library.

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

The new episode of the podcast should have been out last week but I was sick so the audio editing isn’t done yet. I’m hoping to release it this week. Apologies for the delay.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Some More Production Pipeline Updates

Rick Meints added some more recent information (as of a few days ago) about the RuneQuest production pipeline on the “upcoming publications” thread on BRP Central. Here it is, slightly summarized and edited for those who already read the update last week:

  • The first four books of the 10 volume “Cults books” series are: Mythology, Prosopaedia, the Lightbringers pantheon, and the Earth pantheon.
  • Those are “off to the printers soon”.
  • Each book is 144-168 pages in length.
  • All cult books are “written and edited”. Some art is still coming in for the remaining cult books. After that is layout and final proofreading.
  • The even-longer-coming-than-the-cults-books gamemaster’s guide is also a “top priority”, and so are the magic spell card decks.

Rick clarified that they have different people on different product lines, organized so that, say, Call of Cthulhu releases do not slow down RuneQuest or Pendragon releases.

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!

A Vale Ablaze

© 2022 Vivien Prigent & Chaosium Inc.

Vivien Prigent has published the complement to In a Merry Green Vale, which was a system-agnostic sourcebook for playing former Sartarite outlaws of the Lysang clan returning to the Arfritha Vale. A Vale Ablaze is a RuneQuest scenario book with four adventures set in the area described in the first book, with some extra rules for cattle raids and skirmishes.

If you don’t have the first book yet, you can get both in a discounted bundle.

RPG Writer Workshop Bundle for Fall 2022

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The alumni of the Fall 2022 RPG Writer Workshop are now collected into an easy-to-purchase bundle on DriveThruRPG! The bundle includes “A Lamp for Esrola”, “Died in the Wool”, “The Indagos Bull”, and “The White Upon the Hill”.

The bundle is normally at $9.85 but is currently discounted at $5.99 as its launch prince. Given the number of adventures in it, this is an absolutely no-brainer price! Plus, you’ll make some authors happy and willing to write more adventures.

Don’t worry if you’ve already purchased some of those individually, DriveThruRPG always deducts those items from a bundle’s price.

Page-Turn Preview of the Children of Hykim

Brian Duguid has posted this YouTube video of the print-on-demand version of his excellent book, The Children of Hykim (which we chat about with him on a recent episode of the podcast!)

Jeff’s Notes

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

More on Cult Spirits

Last week there was a short note on spirit cults from a world-building perspective. This week is another note on cult spirits from a gameplay perspective:

Spirit cults are an easy way to give players access to Rune spells that they cannot normally get from their local cults. For example, if the players (a bunch of Lightbringers cultists) want access to Fear, but Zorak Zoran is not surprisingly unappealing, create a spirit cult like the Death Maidens, the spirits who herald the coming of Death.

[…] Spirit cults are also a way to provide limited access to another god. Sure there is not a lot of Orlanth Thunderous worship in Karasal satrapy, but there might be a little spirit cult of the summer Thunderstorm that provides Cloud Call.

Jeff recommends a single special Rune spell, plus maybe one or two Common Rune spells at most. Anything more and maybe it’s actually a minor god… the reason it’s a spirit cult is that its powers aren’t too important for the folks in the area.

The interesting thing to me is that, I think, a spirit cult might be a “partial aspect” of an entity that’s considered an actual god in another place. The spirit cult of summer thunderstorms in Karasal might actually really be Orlanth Thunderous under the hood… at least, that’s the sort of thing us God Learners would totally investigate. If I remember correctly, that’s even what the Lightbringers’ worshippers did at the Dawn, going around and telling everybody that their little local cult was actually part of this bigger cult we totally know all about, so please sign here and get your free t-shirt.

By the way, I had to look into what Karasal is, and that’s a Lunar Satrapy located north of Glamour. It’s mostly Dara-happan in culture, and goes far enough north to have to deal with ice trolls. Fun fact, there’s a place somewhere in there that has copper-clad amazon warriors called the Copper Girls. I’m not making this shit up, I swear.

One last notable comment from Jeff:

I tend to lump all sorts in localised little cults under the spirit cult header. Clan wyters, city gods, local nature spirits, old heroes, etc.

Loyalty in Glorantha

Jeff says that loyalty tends to be “personalized” in Glorantha:

[…] loyalty is usually personal and not ideological. I might have a tremendous loyalty to my local leader or kinship group, but that is personalized. If my loyalty is to Leika, I don’t necessarily have any loyalty to her successor.

[…] Same thing is true within cults. I might be loyal to my local temple, but not to some distant temple to the same god. I might be devoted to my god, but ignore his priests.

This second thing, about temples, is what I often use to justify a lot of bits in the head-canon. Temples having differences of opinions, of interpretation of myths, or of ways of running their worship rituals makes things feel a lot more believable in my opinion. It also makes it easier to bend the rules a bit. Are your Chalana Arroy healers non violent only up to the point of self defense? Well those healers in that temple you’re staying at for a week to learn a new Rune Spell say that you should never raise a weapon, even if you’re in danger! Fun roleplay opportunities arise, and maybe an side-quest or two.

As a result, Gloranthan societies tend to be far more heterogeneous than we often give credit for. People end up with seemingly unthinkable alliances far more often than we might assume. And personal loyalty usually is more reliable than ideology or abstract principles.

Relevant for those with the Loyalty (Sartar) Passion:

Loyalty to Sartar usually is expressed through personal loyalty to the Sartar dynasty, and not to some commonwealth of tribes.

Chaos and the Red Goddess

Art by Jakob Rebulka © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Chaos is bad, m’kay? Except the Red Goddess… maybe:

She is undeniably a Chaos deity. And she holds that Chaos is a part of the cosmos, promising to free us from our innate fear of Chaos, and Chaos from its innate hatred of existence. She is a contradiction and a paradox, a Rorschach test for Gloranthan mythology.

Is it a bad sign that I never saw her as a “contradiction” or a “paradox”? She makes total sense to me. And so do the other guys like Orlanth and his buddies who have, understandably, some PTSD about Chaos, and so it’s a touchy subject for them.

Hard to say who’s right and who’s wrong, it all depends on how you make it end. And maybe it doesn’t matter at all, if you go with the “official” ending in which they all disappear.

Introducing New Players

Some of Jeff’s thoughts for introducing D&D players to RuneQuest. Some good advice in there that shouldn’t surprise anybody. Stick around for the funny anecdote at the end.

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.

Tribes of Prax Miniatures Kickstarter

© 2022 Rapier Miniatures & Chaosium Inc.

Rapier Miniatures has just launched a Kickstarter for a Praxian line of minis! These are 28mm miniatures of various Praxian people, including several uncommon ones like a Rhino rider or some Bolo Lizard riders. There are also extra minis such as a centaur, a Jack O’Bear, and some gorps.

Head over here for more information, or for backing the crowdsourcing campaign. You’ve got about 20 days to decide.

Zebra Rider Miniature

Photo by DuffPaint, miniature by Hero Forge

Speaking of miniatures, when “Duff Paint” Roy paints one, his “really unhappy with this one” is my “holy shit that looks super good!” So here, enjoy this horrible zebra rider miniature!

RuneQuest For Life

Here’s a touching little story from Che Webster about RuneQuest 2. It starts like this:

In 1980, my Dad bought RuneQuest – the GW edition of the RQ2e game by Chaosium. He hated it. I stole the box and then began a whole sequence of events which changed my life. I’d argue those changes were for the better.

Read the rest (it’s not long!) on the Roleplay Rescue blog. You can then listen to the podcast!

Judges Guild’s Rejection Letter

Photo by Wayne Books

Here’s a funny little thing: a rejection letter from Judges Guild for a RuneQuest adventure named “Malado’s Gold Mine”. The branded envelope is absolutely gorgeous, but you can follow the link to learn a tiny bit more about the scenario, and why it was rejected… and of course, if you know about “Malado’s Gold Mine”, please get in touch with us or with Wayne Books!

Thank you for reading

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

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

Lots of things popped up in the community this week! I’m not sure what’s happening… or maybe I’ve been paying a bit more attention thanks to a bit of extra free time? Free time that, of course, I should instead be spending on writing my Goonies in Glorantha campaign… it’s progressing, but not as fast as I’d want. Oh well. Either way, enjoy the inflated community roundup section! And thanks to Jeff Richard for not posting too much in the past week to compensate, heheh.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Cults Books Update

Art by Agathe Pitie © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Are you waiting (im)patiently for the Cults of Glorantha books? Of course you are! Our last update on the topic was back in November’s issue 75 of the Journal. We had learned that what was supposed to be a massive two-volume slipcase was being broken down in smaller books (dare I say “splatbooks”?)

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Thanks to JM and Evan of Exploring Glorantha we now have some more new information, coming directly from Chaosium president Rick Meints:

  • It’s a ten books series.
  • Three of them “basically done” and off to the printers “soon”.
  • Each book will be around the 128 pages mark (with some of them bigger).
  • There’s an “overview book” with the monomyth, cult basics (including a “blank cult” example outline similar to that of Cults of Prax)
  • The books are grouped thematically, as Brian Duguid predicted: Darkness, Sea, Earth, Fire/Sky, Air/Storm, Lunar, and Chaos, plus a book on shamanic cults, spirit cults, and beast cults, and of course the Prosopaedia which we already had a few glimpses of.
  • Each book will have general history and background too, not just cult write-ups.

Spot Anything You Want?

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The folks at Chaosium are picking some old and rare items for the ChaosiumCon auction… can you spot anything you want on this picture?

Anyway, apparently Rick and Jeremiah found something a bit unexpected (although not totally unknown):

In 1983 and 1984 Chaosium often provided sneak peeks at their efforts for updating the RuneQuest rules for the new Avalon Hill published 3rd edition. Such updates usually appeared in Different Worlds magazine. The most comprehensive article being in DW#37 (Nov./Dec. 1984).

I didn’t know that Chaosium produced a similar flyer in 1984. I suppose they handed it out at conventions or other PR opportunities, most probably at Gen Con and/or Origins.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Above is the front of said flyer. Head over to Rick’s article if you want to read the back, or if you want to know a bit more about it!

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.

Defunct Sartar Tribes

Jeff talks about the difference between the Dundealos and the Maboder:

The Dundealos tribe was “destroyed” by the Lunar Provincial Government in 1619, and their land given to settlers from the Lunar Provinces. These settlers were organized into a new tribe called the Enstalos and were effectively administered from the New Lunar Temple.

But of course the Dundealos were not truly “destroyed”. Although many of the tribe were enslaved by the Lunar army, others fled to the Plains of Prax, where they joined with the Pol-Joni kin. After the Dragonrise, their exile ended and they returned to their homelands (after inflicting their vengeance on the settlers).

You can actually play part of this story arc in the French campaign “Les Enfants de la Flamme” (“Children of the Flame”), which focuses on the return of the Dundealos to their rightful lands post Dragonrise, the fate of the Enstalos, the coming of Argrath, and more. I’ve written a bit about the French version of RuneQuest Glorantha here.

A different story took place in Wulfland. The Maboder tribe was decimated by the Telmori in 1606, and their lands were given to Jomes Wulf and his soldiers. After the Dragonrise, Jomes and his followers fled Sartar to rejoin Fazzur’s army forming in Alda-Chur. Defeated at the Battle of Dangerford, they are now a key part of the Native Provincial Corps.

Unlike the Dundealos, there is no core of the Maboder in exile – they were scattered or enslaved by the empire. And so Wulfland is now up for grabs.

What became of the Maboder, the empty Wulfland, and what the Telmori are up to is a central element in my one-shot “The Bloody Banquet”, in which all the player characters are Wolfbrothers. I playtested this a couple times so far, including once at ChaosiumCon last year, and I’m also in the process of writing it… slowly.

So yes, I love this little corner of the Dragon Pass history, and I can’t wait to play more with what happens to all these greedy hillbillies and their werewolf neighbours!

Shamanism and Spirit Cults

This note deals with the history and role of shamanic traditions in Glorantha:

Scholars of Gloranthan religion speculate that [spirit cults were] the origin of many now-powerful cults in the Grey and Dawn Ages. These cults succeeded in establishing themselves, and the shaman founders were succeeded by priests and Rune lords.

It’s like us God Learners always say: gods are just spirits who got successful and famous with their whole “worship me!” scam. But we also say more interesting stuff:

Throughout Glorantha. the archetype of the First Shaman is the same – the Horned Man or Woman (sometime depicted as a horned snake or a bird-headed man or woman). The Jrusteli claimed that Horned God is the fetch of Glorantha, severed when she died in the cosmic blast that destroyed the Spike. Thus, the Horned God is the “spirit consciousness” of the world, alive and still in control of itself.

The note also has some bits of information for designing and handling spirit cults in your game.

Community Roundup

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

Exploring Glorantha with Rick Meints

The good folks at Exploring Glorantha (who were on the podcast last month!) interview Rick Meints again for the occasion of the third edition of The Meints’ Index to Glorantha. Rick talks about the origins of the MiG, its third edition, his favourite collector’s items, and much more!

Peeking at the Escalation! Artwork

Speaking of Evan, we know that he’s finalizing the next issue of the 13th Age fanzine Escalation! which will focus on the western provinces of the Lunar Empire and the Kingdom of War… of which I know practically nothing! So I’m excited to dive into a new area of Glorantha as soon as that comes out. In the meantime, behold these art pieces that Tricia, the “in-house” artist, has posted to her portfolio:

Can you figure what’s featured on each picture? Like I said I don’t know much about this part of Glorantha so even with the titles, I only have a vague idea… this is exciting!

Bud Explains the Uz

Bud’s hands continue to present bits of Glorantha in a highly digestible way! And who knows more about digesting things than the trolls, eh? Well, what a coincidence, this video is all about the Uz! This is Gloranthan Trolls 101 in a succinct 6’26”.

Plus, I spotted a few pieces of art that I hadn’t seen before — I don’t know if I missed them, or if Bud scored a couple of exclusives for his video. For example, here is Loic Muzy’s version of Gorakiki for the upcoming cults books:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

More explanations from Bud can be found in this playlist.

Andrew Logan Montgomery on RuneQuest Sorcery

Andrew Logan Montgomery, author of Six Seasons in Sartar and many more good things, has posted a three-part (so far) article about Sorcery in RuneQuest. Titled “Why I (actually) like Sorcery in RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha“, it sort of immediately tells you what you’re going to read… but maybe not.

And yet, RuneQuest needed Sorcery. The third edition was designed to be generic, and generic fantasy has to include modern fantasy fiction with all its very post-modern concepts. Everybody knows wizards do magic, not Bronze Age hoplites! So room was made for the kind of slow, ritual, manipulating cosmic forces sort of magic we see in Howard or Moorcock. RuneQuest at last had a “magic-user.”

First, the article is framed mainly as a comparison between RQ3’s and RQG’s handling of the Sorcery rules. If you’re like me and you discovered Glorantha with RQG, you might not fully appreciate the difference and evolution between the two editions… but hey, I’ve seen so many people complain, write, or nitpick things about RQ3 vs RQG, from sorcery to combat to everything in between, that there’s definitely something at hand.

Also, remember, this is Andrew Logan fuckin’ Montgomery we’re talking about, so get ready for a good sprinkle of philosophy, literary references, and deep analysis (including some good digressions on Greg Stafford’s possible mindset while developing certain parts of Glorantha).

Part 1 is here, followed by Part 2 and Part 3.

DMs After Dark Starts Playing Six Seasons in Sartar

Speaking of ALM, the actual play and writing collective DMs After Dark has just started playing Six Season in Sartar. The first episode has just hit YouTube after being streamed on Twitch… keep an eye on those channels if you want to catch their next sessions.

RuneQuest for D&D Refugees

Do you need to convince a group of players to try RuneQuest? Here’s a short video for you. In about six minutes, people from The Character Sheet and Comicbook.com present RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha, how it works and what’s interesting about it… and yes, ducks are mentioned! Positively!

Matthew Constantine Unboxes the RuneQuest Starter Set

Here’s another RuneQuest Starter Set unboxing video! The host, Matthew, seems very interested about delving into Glorantha, but is unsure about the crunch of the RuneQuest system… which echoes my own experience with Gloranthan and RuneQuest. I’m hoping to hear Matthew’s opinion soon!

Latest Jonstown Compendium Reviews from R’lyeh

The latest Jonstown Compendium from R’lyeh is “In Search of Baroshi“. As always, if you want to know a bit more about a book before buying it, Pookie’s reviews are a good start. Previously in his Jonstown Jottings was Beer With Teeth’s “The Temple of Twins“.

Thank you for reading

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

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

Not much annotating of Jeff’s posts this week, because instead I wrote up two hopefully cool articles on the Romans. I wonder what you people prefer between annotations and half-ass history articles?

God Learner Sorcery

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

Glorantha Initiation: Bridgett, Bronze Age Tropes, and the Basement Operation

We are kicking off a new season of our “Glorantha Initiation” series with the amazing Bridgett Jeffries! We talk about bronze age tropes, fandom gatekeeping, drawing Earth Runes on your face, spending your evenings in a basement with old men, and more!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Brace for Announcements

According to Jeff Richard (who knows a thing or two about it), a bunch of books are done with layout and will soon be off to the printers:

And that’s it. Four new books done with layout thanks to the incredible Sim. Now just waiting on final error trapping, and then off to the printer.

Pretty soon we will even announce them!

This sounds a lot like four cults books to me but hey, who knows. I’m running a blog on the internet so I’m supposed to engage in misinformation, wild extrapolation, and clickbait titles, no? Am I doing this right? Anyway, I’m squeezing this maybe-related-maybe-not picture that Jeff shared in a completely different post here just to mislead you:

Art by Katrin Dirim © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Orlanth and Yelm engaged in contests to see who would rule the gods. The last contest was weapons – Yelm his arrows of light, but Orlanth produced the sword Death and with it Orlanth sent Yelm to the Underworld to join the ranks of the dead.

Anyway, we might get these books in the fall. I’m not joking or being snarky, here, that’s really what I’m expecting given the current printing and shipping situation.

Wild Days at DriveThruRPG

According to MOB, the last week has been “wild” on DriveThruRPG, while Chaosium’s RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu Starter Sets were discounted in PDF for $0.99… and the same for the Basic Roleplaying rulebook (they’re now back to their normal price).

All three products have shot up to Adamantine Best Seller, which shows that bug numbers of disgruntled D&D players went and grabbed other games to try during the whole OGL debacle. Whether these people will actually read and play those games, or whether things will settle back down to the usual, is still undetermined… we can only hope!

ORC License Q&A

Speaking of the OGL debacle, I was wondering last week if Chaosium would move their BRP and QuestWorld SRDs to the new Paizo-led ORC license, or simply offer their support for it. Austin Conrad pointed me to this particular answer in a recent update to Chaosium’s Q&A:

Q: What about Paizo’s OGL initiative? 

A: Chaosium is part of the Open RPG Creative License initiative aka ‘ORC’, announced by our friends at Paizo. […]

In all likelihood we will switch our own Open Gaming License model to the ORC in due course.

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!

Nick Brooke’s Gloranthan Manifesto

© 2022 Nick Brooke & Chaosium Inc.

Nick Brooke’s collection of essays about Glorantha, RuneQuest, and everything in between and around and under and diagonally behind are now available in print on demand via DriveThruRPG. The PDF is still free, and now also available on DriveThruRPG, so you can can get that first if you haven’t heard of this (before it was available in two parts, here and here)

Nick describes it as a “selection of opinion pieces” and that’s definitely what you get for your money. And since it’s free, why not? These are the thoughts, conclusions, and revelations of a guy who has been thinking a lot about Glorantha for a long time.

A lot of this is going to be familiar if you’ve been hanging around Gloranthan fandom since the 1990s, or if you’ve lurked around Nick’s old website.

Jeff’s Notes

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

Maniria Notes

Jeff has posted a few notes on Maniria this week! No annotations from me here: like I said, I spent my limited free time educating myself about the Roman military, and besides I don’t think there’s much in these that needs any annotation. All it needs is a good map to situate yourself:

Argan Argar Atlas © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Maniria is the southwestern part of Genertela shown above, going from Tarinwood to Wenelia, more or less. In the upper-left corner you can spot Lake Felster, which we heard a lot about recently with all the posts on the Malkioni in Ralios. To the west is Seshnela. To the east are Esrolia and Caladraland. All good?

  • Some basic information on Maniria and it cults.
  • Some information about the Trader Princes who setup caravans from Ralios to the Holy Country and are now seeing their margins dwindle in light of the Opening, as everybody now just sails around. Plus, some notes about the influence of Esrolia on Maniria.
  • Even more on the Trader Princes, and how they sort of bridge the gap between the Orlanthi and the Malkioni in how they position themselves in Manirian society.
  • Information about the Arstola Forest, one of the Six Great Aldryami Forests. It’s missing from the map above, but it’s located above the upper-right corner. It goes all the way to Esrolia.
  • A short post about Dragonewts in Maniria (their city in in the Ryzel Hills, just left of Wenelia on the map above).
  • A short post about Ramalia, which makes me want to read a bit more about the place.

Overlaying Maps

Speaking of maps:

Something Greg taught me was to regularly overlay maps, so that you could see how things interact with stuff beyond the border of the map. This has a big effect on how I read history as well.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

[…] this is why stitching together maps is such a useful exercise. Of course Sartar and Prax are closely linked. But if they are on separate maps it is hard to notice the obvious!

There are also multiple layers drawn on transparent paper such as, say, forest coverage:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.


Jeff talks about raising CHA in play:

CHA is arguably the most important characteristic in the game (at least for ambitious characters) but is the easiest stat to improve in the game. For example:

Got a cool magical sword? +1 CHA.

Led a successful military expedition? +1 CHA.

So if you have at least a 16 CHA starting out, you are well on your way to becoming a Rune Lord. If your CHA is lower, don’t worry it can be trained as well. But if you decided to make CHA your “dump characteristic” then you have a long road ahead of you.

The rules for this are in the RuneQuest rulebook page 420, in case you’re wondering. Note that, according to the rules, you only get +1 for the cool magical objects, regardless of how many cool magical objects you have. It does seem however that you get get multiple raises from leading successful military expeditions, so maybe that will motivate players to take some initiative? I’ll have to mention this to my group: they’re taking a file of Yelmalion hoplites to help fight off Greymane’s raids in Esrolia!

Miscellaneous Notes

  • What to buy: Jeff’s slightly updated and reworded list of what Gloranthan and RuneQuest newbies should buy first. Nice of him to give a shout-out to the Jonstown Compendium!
  • Sartarite names: an excerpt from the upcoming Sartar Book about Sartarite names, although if there’s not much you wouldn’t know about if you have already been using this Well of Daliath page. You can even find a few name generators online, with this one being my favourite.

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.

Lunar Javelins Are Useless

…once they’ve been thrown at you, that is.

This week, I learned a cool thing about Roman javelins that most of you probably knew already (because you’re all big nerds) but I figured I would write about it for the few in the back who are ignorant like me.

Okay so the Roman javelin, called a pilum (plural: pila) is not built the way you might expect a javelin to be built. It’s not just a long wooden shaft with a spear point at the top. Instead, it’s a not-so-long wooden shaft followed by a thin metallic shaft that ends in a narrow pyramidal spear point.

Just look at the picture below, it’s simpler. In order: a thin (or light) pilum, a thick pilum, and a weighted pilum. The light one is the most common. Roman soldier often carried two of those.

Pilum Types © 2022 Benjamin Hollis

Anyway, when you throw this at a bunch of hillbillies with wooden shields, the whole metallic shaft often goes through! So not only have you just injured one of those bearded savages who thought they were safe behind their puny shield, they also now have a half-meter-long piece of metal running through it, and a big wooden stick hanging on the front side. It makes the shield unbalanced and useless. Obviously they could remove the javelin from the shield, but because of the pyramidal design of the spear head that’s actually not easy to do in a hurry. So lo and behold they need to throw away the shield and face your charging troops completely exposed. Yay!

Even if the pilum doesn’t go through the shield, the metallic shaft is soft enough that it will bend on impact. This makes it useless and cannot therefore be picked up and thrown back at you. Yay again!

Here’s a video showing this in action (you gotta love experimental archaeology):

From what I understand, historians are still debating whether or not the pilum was actively designed to bend like this, or if it was a happy incident that they figured they would just keep. Some think that it was a mix of both, with the bending thing being an accident that was later used to improve the pilum design under Gaius Marius and then later again under Julius Caesar.

Anyway, someone correct me if I’m wrong but justifying this javelin design might require a bit of bronze-age fantasy loophole since I don’t think bronze is strong enough to work in this case. The Roman pilum was made of various grades of iron. But hey, what’s a fantasy world good for if not for handwaving some cool trope with some bullshit magic stuff? Maybe there’s something like Moon Silver that’s equivalent to soft iron, or maybe the Lunars handing out fat government contracts to the nearby Dwarfs? I’m sure you can figure something out!

Give Me Back My Legions!

I’m on a bit of a Roman bender this week, but this is cool too. I was thinking about the Dragonrise, in which a whole chunk of the Lunar Army gets destroyed in a day. According to these numbers from Jeff, the body count is about 10,000 soldiers, which represents about 13% of the Lunar Empire’s military might compared to what they had 4 years prior. They lose a lot of people elsewhere (such as the war in the Holy Country) during that time too, but I’m cooking the numbers a bit to get you to the Battle of Teutoburg Forest.

Creative Commons image

This battle from 9 CE is one of the most brutal and important defeats in the history of the Roman Empire. The whole story is quite complicated, so if you want the detailed version, you can for example listen to the History On Fire podcast on the subject (part 1 and part 2). The short version is as follows.

The Roman Empire had a storied and complicated relationship with the Germanic tribes. They had more or less conquered their lands (or so they thought) up to the Rhine. Some of the Germanic chieftains under Rome’s control even came to Rome to study Roman culture and sciences. Arminius (his original Germanic name unknown) was such a guy, and he went as high as becoming a trusted advisor to Publius Quinctilius Varus, a Roman general who served Emperor Augustus. But Arminius was a cunning little bugger who was playing both sides: he was also uniting a few of the many Germanic tribes to rebel against the empire.

Statue of Arminius, Hermannsdenkmal, Creative Commons

Using his unique position as a double-agent, his knowledge of Roman military logistics, his knowledge of local terrain, and Varus’ tactical fuck-up of a troop transfer in what was supposed to be a volatile province, Arminius spotted the perfect opportunity to attack.

Overall, between 15,000 and 20,000 Roman soldiers died in, at most, a couple of days. According to these numbers, that’s more than 12% of the entire military force of the Roman Empire at the time (excluding auxiliary forces… if you include those, that’s still between 6% and 8%). So if a bunch of Germanic barbarians can do this kind of damage when taking Roman soldiers by surprise, I suppose a big-ass dragon can do something similar.

According to the historical record, Emperor Augustus was so shaken by this whole disaster that he spent a couple weeks going around his palace, banging his head on the walls, repeatedly shouting “Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!” I wonder if the Red Emperor does the same after the Dragonrise, losing his shit up there in Glamour…

If you’re wondering what happened next, obvious the Romans came back with a vengeance, but without any clear victory as far as I can tell. Then, they just gave up because, first, they had better things to do than wage battles in the muddy cold of the Germanic countryside, and second there was nothing to gain by conquering these people — unlike Sartar which has very lucrative trade routes with the Holy Country, Germania was quite worthless.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Joerg isn’t speaking a Latin language nowadays.

“The Defeat of Kallyr Starbrow’s Rebellion”, by Jan Popisil from the Guide to Glorantha

I’m now sort of seeing a bit of Arminius in Kallyr Starbrow. Just like him, she only managed to unite a few tribes against the Lunar Empire, with many more sitting the whole thing out, or even sort of collaborating with the “enemy”. Just like him, she managed to destroy a whole chunk of her enemy’s military with far less soldiers on her side. Just like him, she was very (too?) ambitious, and she died not very long after.

The Romans were no angels, but the Germanic tribes weren’t the good guys either. There’s a whole side of the story about what Arminius and his people did to the Romans. A good number of Roman soldiers actually preferred to commit suicide rather than be taken, so that should give you a hint. I wonder what sort of atrocities the Sartarite rebels might have done too, and how many of the Lunars who narrowly escaped the Dragonrise still preferred to kill themselves. You know, in case you wanted more blood and horror in your games…

Thank you for reading

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