Art by Dario Corallo

We resume our series on the People of Glorantha with, according to our guest, the very best people that there is on Glorantha. Our guest is indeed Nick Brooke!

Among his many hats, Nick is:

We talk about Nick’s history with the Lunar Empire, which starts with David Hall’s Reaching Moon Megacorp and the fanzine Tales of the Reaching Moon, which had a very pro-Lunar editorial leaning. This was perhaps in response to the Storm Bull leanings of the Pavic Tales fanzine.

Nick talks about the way British people are great for playing evil imperial people. He points to the 2022 RRR movie, although Ludo points out that the practice goes way back, with for instance Ben Hur specifically hiring British actors to play evil Romans.

While players are concerned with Dragon Pass adventurers, the GM often wants to understand the Lunar Empire better, at least to portray the evil NPCs. But Nick reminds us that it’s all just a game in a make believe world, and there’s no need to get upset online. Given the number of threads on the topic that routinely get locked down on BRP Central and elsewhere, I’m sure more people need to hear this.

What the PCs know about the Lunars

We go through the core RuneQuest homelands and Nick explains what is their knowledge and opinion of the Lunars is.

For Sartarites and Praxians:

  • They killed your grand-parent, made you pay taxes, and got eaten by a Dragon (good riddance)
  • For older RuneQuest players, they were the Roman-like occupiers of Sartar
  • Using Romans is a good model for the Lunars… see the many Roman-featuring movies and TV series in existence, including the classic Spartacus movie and more recent TV series

For Esrolians:

  • There was a recent civil war between the Red Earth and Old Earth alliances (pro vs anti Lunars)
  • Nick talks about the God King Belintar of the Holy Country as the “Pharaoh”, a term used in older RuneQuest material, but that Chaosium doesn’t want to use anymore for obvious reasons (such as the fact that there aren’t any pyramids in the Holy Country). Joerg tells me that at least Nick didn’t say “Pharoah”, as it was mispelled as such in the RuneQuest Companion.
  • Nick also quickly mentions some “Old Earth” rituals, featuring the sacrificing of a “year king”, that were “cut” from the Glorantha Sourcebook
  • There are parallels between Belintar, who dies and comes back, and the Red Emperor, who does the same
  • Nick likes to use Cleopatra and Anthony or Caesar as a reference for Lunars flirting with Esrolian queens. And yes this includes their depiction in Asterix comics

For the Grazelanders:

  • They generally love the Lunars because they often employ them as mercenaries and they pay well, although there is a minority of Grazelanders who doesn’t like the Lunars
  • The Grazelanders don’t convert to the Lunar Way, they have their fundamental ways
  • The current Feathered Horse Queen is a daughter of a Lunar King of Tarsh

For the Old Tarshites:

  • They hate the Lunars, but they’re just embittered losers of the old Orlanthi Tarsh Kingdom
  • Palashee Longaxe was a rebel leader who, for a time, manage to retake the kingdom from the Lunars, but he was put down eventually

For the Lunar Tarshites:

  • They live under the Glowline, and their kingdom is centered on Furthest
  • Furthest is a very Lunar city, planned and well designed, a beacon of civilization in the middle of Tarsh
  • The benevolent temple of the Reaching the Moon extends the Glowline here

A Short History of the Lunar Empire

Nick takes us on a historical tour of the Lunar Empire:

  • The birth of the Red Goddess in Torang (although we’re supposed to say “Blessed Torang”)
  • The Seven Mothers and their ability to bypass the Great Compromise
  • The Moon Goddess “should” have been in the Compromise… was there a patriarchal conspiracy at play from Yelm and Orlanth?
  • At Castle Blue she proved her place in the God Time and ascended in the sky
  • The Red Goddess can be seen from most of Glorantha, fixed in the sky as the Red Moon
  • Glamour is founded next to the crater left behind when she took a chunk of the earth and ascended in the sky
  • The Lunar Empire is governed by the ever reincarnating Red Emperor. Nick talks about whether they’re the same person or not after each reincarnation. Ludo makes a 1984 reference.
  • Nick touches upon the evil Carmanian empire, and the Dara Happan patriarchs that were there before. The Lunar Empire has liberated everyone with a much more feminist, open, and egalitarian society.
  • At some point, the Lunar Empire almost gets destroyed by Pentan Solar-worshipping noamds. They were led by the “madman” Sheng Seleris, a sort of a magical Genghis Khan. He’s now tortured in a Lunar Hell.
  • Nick explains the “wanes” used (or not) for Lunar history.
  • After the Pentan invasions, the great Hon Eel reconstructs the empire and invades several southern barbarian kingdoms. Later, the Empire invades even more areas like Sartar, Prax, and for a short time the Holy Country.
  • During the RuneQuest character creation (the Family History section), you see all of this progress being undone, as the Lunar Empire gets kicked out of Dragon Pass.
  • Nick explains what the Glowline is, and what the Lunars might have planned for Sartar if the Dragonrise didn’t happen.

The Lunar Empire’s current concerns are:

  • Financing the Red Emperor’s parties. Nick uses Nero and other Roman emperors as inspiration for this.
  • Jar-eel is busy “talking” to the White Moon movement, a bunch of pacifist anti-imperialist hippies.
  • The Pentans are back, and almost got into the holy city of Torang. Jar-eel thankfully stopped them, riding the mighty Crimson Bat.
  • The Dragonrise in Sartar is only a small annoyance to the Lunars at this point.

The Lunar Empire is organized between the Heartlands and the Provinces:

  • Nick goes over the pendantic history of using “satrapy” vs “sultanate” to designate the different administrative regions of the Lunar Hearlands. Once again he diverges from Chaosium terminology.
  • Incestuous noble families lead the Satrapies… errr, I mean Sultanates.
  • Provinces are former barbarian kingdoms that were conquered and converted to the Lunar Way.
  • The Lunars need to deal with the “natural state of rebellion” of the Orlanth cult
  • Nick makes fun of the Orlanthi beliefs and hypocrisy
  • We look at the difference between an Orlanthi from Sartar and an Orlanthi from Lunar Tarsh
  • Nick wants it to be known that the Empire lets anybody worship anyone.
  • Ludo is misled by rebel propaganda about how the Dara Happan became part of the Lunar Empire, so Nick explains all about it.

The Seven Mothers

We take a closer look at the Seven Mothers cult, which isn’t very well explained in the RuneQuest rulebook, and might be hard to grasp:

  • Nick recommends getting Cults of Prax for the longer (albeit slightly outdated in some places) write-up for RuneQuest 2nd edition
  • Nick explains who each mother is:
    • Teelo Norri is the outreach cult, with free food and orphanages and such
    • Irripi Ontor is a sage and astronomer, like Lhankor Mhy but with better libraries and no silly beards
    • Yanafal Tarnils is like a government-backed version of Humakt
    • Queen Deezola is for nobles, poets, and civilized people in general
    • Jakaleel the Witch deals with mad people (including making non-mad people mad)
    • Danfive Xaron is a cult for thieves who get captured and are “rehabilitated”
    • She Who Waits… let’s not talk about her
  • While explaining all this, we do a small aside about how Lunar taxes fix all the problems the Empire causes… no worries!
  • Nick talks about the similarities between the Seven Mothers and the Lightbringers, and the parallels with the Roman vs Greek gods
  • Nick explains how the Seven Mothers pacify and convert the people that the Empire conquers. The Seven Mothers are “closer to the people” than the old gods, and have many other advantages to the everyday person.

Dart Competitions

Joerg brings up the Dart Competitions, the Lunar Empire’s sanctioned way of doing spy operations and assassinations between nobles

Unlike the bickering of Orlanthi clans and tribes, these can’t interfere with the general population and the collection of taxes.

There is no “civil war” in Tarsh. Just people losing the ongoing Dart Competition.

Playing Seven Mothers Initiates

We go through a few possible backstories for a Seven Mothers initiate joining a party of Dragon Pass adventurers:

  • A Lunar Tarshite whose patron is on the losing side of a Dart Competition in Tarsh or some other province, and needs to lay low for a few years, out of reach from his/her enemies
  • Playing someone doing some “groundwork” in Sartar for a noble family’s Dart Competition (although this might require some work to manage that character’s agenda vs the other characters)
  • Families initiated into the Seven Mothers cult during the Lunar occupation of Sartar, and you could play an adventurer that comes from these families
  • Pelorian traders settled in Sartar or Prax generations ago for business reasons, since commerce between the Lunar Empire, the Holy Country, and Prax has been quite lucrative for everybody. You could therefore play someone who comes from one of those merchant families.
  • Playing a Lunar merchant who worships Etyries, the Lunar goddess of trade. Nick even shares his own head-canon for Etyries merchants, as compared to Issaries merchants.
  • Playing an Irripi Ontor scholar doing research in Dragon Pass.

The C Word

Nick brings up the topic of Chaos and then tries to run away from the podcast:

  • Ludo compares the Lunar’s use of Chaos with the US’s militaro-industrial complex and nuclear weapons
  • The Lunar Empire uses Chaos “for the benefit of people”, we are told
  • We discuss more Chaos-related matters, including what to do with Chaotic races

Other Lunar Cults and Lunar campaigns

  • Nick is looking forward to the “recognition and adoration” that the Lunar cults deserve with the upcoming “Lunar Way” cults book
  • Playing the glorious conquests of the Lunar Empire would be fun!
  • At the moment, playing a Lunar campaign is tricky and requires a lot of work: you need the Guide and the Sourcebook, and some work to model the Lunar cults into RuneQuest mechanics… but use common sense, and re-use what’s already in the rulebook.
  • You can use the Rough Guide to Glamour, Citizens of the Lunar Empire, Life of Moonson, Nick’s Glorantha Manifesto to build something.
  • Harald Smith’s Edge of Empire (we had an episode on it) is a great example of building a campaign framework in the Lunar Provinces.


Ludo asks about Illumination:

  • Nick explains what Illumination is… shortly.
  • Illuminated people can use Chaos, and know that the Compromise can be changed
  • The Seven Mothers cult is looking for people that would be good for “Illumination training”
  • Illuminated villains can be either mad sorcerers or “dangerously sane” people.

Finally, Nick does a mic-drop by reading the Guide to Glorantha, giving the final summation of what the Lunar Empire is.


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.

Review: RuneQuest Weapons & Equipment

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The RuneQuest Starter Set in Two Minutes

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

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

Interview with Jason Durall: Breaking the Lore

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

Chaosium Con 2023 Announcements

Guest contribution by Jörg, with some edits by Ludo

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

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

Prosopaedia Preview

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

BRP SRD vs Big Gold Book

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

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

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

Jonstown Compendium

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

Edge of Empire in Print

© 2023 Runesmith Publications & Chaosium Inc.

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

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

© 2023 Runesmith Publications & Chaosium Inc.

Jeff’s Notes

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

Tartyra the Humakti vs. Anaxos the Horali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But ultimately, it really depends on Zzaburi support:

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

More here.

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

In Glorantha, Cults Precede Culture

Guest contribution by Jörg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More here.

Gods, Archetypes, and the Malkioni Perspective

Jeff reflects on Gloranthan gods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More here.

Heroquesting as Interaction with the Divine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More here.

Lunar Spies

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

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

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

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

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

Argrath and the Telmori

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sartarite Architecture

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

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

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

What Happens When You Die

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

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

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

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

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

More here.

Community Roundup

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

Orlanth Rex’s RuneQuest Vexes

© 2023 Orlanth Rex Gaming Vexes

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

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

Exploring Glorantha Enters History

Guest section by Jörg

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

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

Tales of Tarsh Playtest

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

Fun with ChatGPT

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

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

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

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

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

Literature in Ancient Egypt

Creative Commons photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creative Commons photo

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

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

Thank you for reading

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

This review comes quite late, since the PDF of the RuneQuest Weapons & Equipment sourcebook was released in December 2021. But the print version arrived eight months later, due to the global print and shipping crisis, and my own copy was even more delayed, due to the closure of Chaosium’s Canadian warehouse. In the end, I only received the actual book a couple months ago…

This means I had quite some time to think about this book, and judge it based on my usage (or lack thereof) in my ongoing RuneQuest campaign.

Before we dive in, I want to give a big thank you to my co-host Joerg and to Austin Conrad for their thoughts, comments, and corrections!

The Book

Weapons & Equipment is a 124 pages hardback with the familiar excellent layout and art of the RuneQuest Glorantha product line. When the occasional stat block shows up, it uses the newer and more compact style found in the RuneQuest Starter Set.

Old hands will recognize several illustrations re-used from previous publications, but most of them are great so it’s not a problem to see them again. For instance, the overview of Nochet seen above was originally from the Starter Set (ironically enough, since it doesn’t cover that part of the world), but I’m happy stumble upon it again as I flip through the book.

The new illustrations go from good to great, with nice drawings and paintings of many Gloranthan objects, weapons, and pieces of armour. The star of the book as far as I’m concerned continues to be Ossi Hiekkala, whose cover shows the likely aftermath of his equally great cover of the RuneQuest Starter Set (you can see that Harmast was likely healed from his injury, but still has to repair his shirt and armour!)

I’m absolutely delighted to see this other piece, above, that Ossi made and shared on the internet a while ago. Ossi’s style shows Glorantha as a believable place, and his mix of candid scenes, ancient world design, and stunning lighting sets RuneQuest books apart from other fantasy RPG books.



If you’re like me, you might often skip or skim the introduction chapter of RPG books in order to “get to the good stuff”. It often proves to be a mistake, and it’s definitely the case here because a lot of the point of the book is laid out in this first pages. In particular, pay attention to the following:

[This book] can be used to flesh out one’s gear during trips to the market between adventures or during Sacred Time, or it can bolster and inspire the descriptions of items found as treasure or loot.

[…] Thus, this sourcebook is not just a catalog of things to have or to want. It is also an indispensable window into the day-to-day life of average Gloranthans, as well as into the world of exceptional adventurers, nobles, Rune Masters, and even Heroes. It teaches the world through the items and services the people own, create, or covet, whether esoteric or commonplace.

With this, it reaches beyond its utility as a mere reference work and hopefully provides a fuller, realer, and altogether more fantastic view of the Gloranthan world and its people.

If you spend enough time around archaeologists, or listening to ancient history podcasts, you quickly learn the term “material culture“, which refers to the understanding of a culture’s daily lives and experiences through its “material record”, i.e. the stuff that they leave behind, such as pottery, weapons, architecture, and so on. This is pretty much what we’re dealing with, here.

I don’t know if it was the intent of Chaosium to make the Weapons & Equipment book act partially as a presentation of the material culture of Glorantha, but I’m certain it wasn’t a coincidence that it turned out this way given the presence of archaeologists and historians, both amateur and professional, on the writing team. I’m especially thinking of Erin McGuire and Martin Helsdon, but I’m sure others contributed to this aspect of the book. Even beyond the material record, Weapons & Equipment gives us many glimpses at how Gloranthan societies work. We’ll get back to this a few times over the course of this review.

The Market

The first chapter deals with Gloranthan markets, at which your adventurers will likely buy and sell most of the stuff found in the book. Besides a few optional rules for finding and bargaining for a specific item at various markets, we get our first taste of what I was talking about earlier: some information about how those markets operate, how people pay for goods not only with coin but also with favours, letters of credit, or “hack metal”, and so on. There is a lot of gameable background information here.

Many people will in particular be interested in the “Dealing with Treasure” sidebar (which explains how most cultures split up the loot that your adventurers have brought back from their latest dungeon crawl), the “Selling Loot” section, and the section for “Maintaining and Repairing Gear”.

An interesting part of this chapter is the section on “Masterwork Items”. It details how crafty adventurers can create particularly good items. For instance, they could create bronze greaves with more armour points than usual, or a musical instrument that is so well crafted that it gives a bonus to the musician’s skill. I have a couple of player characters in my campaign that have a high Crafting skill and we have looked at this section once of twice for rolls or ideas. I just need to give them enough downtime to work on their items… either way, this interesting little crafting mechanic brings a welcome break from the usual combat crunch of RuneQuest.

A Bronze Age World & Common Goods

As we all know, Glorantha is “in a bronze age”, but isn’t really “a Bronze Age world”. Either way, this sort of works OK here since the next chapter starts with one of Joerg’s favourite topics: Gloranthan metallurgy.

When it comes to metals, Glorantha is indeed mostly based on bronze. Never mind that most of the nobility in Sartar is clad with iron (just check the Colymar Runemaster NPCs in the Gamemaster Adventures booklet), those are a small minority. And there’s a bunch of other metals with various other properties, and various cults with the knowledge to deal with them. This section, is really a lightly expanded version of Appendix 2 from the Gamemaster Adventures, plus the “Metals of Acos” (see above) document from RuneQuest 3’s “Elder Secrets of Glorantha” (although it seems that maybe the labels under the illustrations might not be quite correct) This section does benefit a little from having more information on the spells used to enchant metals.

Next is every archaeologist’s favourite thing (besides middens): pottery! This is followed by a bit of information on looms and fuel, and then by the next chapter, “Common Goods”, which I’m throwing in the same basket. You’ve got lists of clothes, jewellery, cosmetic products, tools, musical instruments, toys, food, and much more.

This is where I’m not sure what to think. Let’s call this the Grognard/Historian dichotomy. At face value, we have about 20 pages of various things available for purchase, with their price and ENC (although which items get ENC or weight information or not seems inconsistent). But who, really, needs to know that you can buy a drinking horn for 2L, or a cooking pot for between 2C and 1L? Is anybody going to spend time in a gaming session choosing between buying a “drinking cup” versus a “parabolic cup”? Is anybody going to track the ENC of fish hooks or whistles or candles?

The value here is really in learning that these things exist. Saying that the adventurers are invited to a feast where “wine is flowing from amphoras into their drinking horns” sounds a lot more “ancient world” than if you say that “bottles of wine are poured into their glasses“. Mentioning that a priestess is carrying a large bowl to offer libations to an effigy of Ernalda adds that extra bit of flavour you probably want for the scene. And this is where you can learn about these things without doing historical research. I personally find value in this list of items not for their ENC stat or price point, but as tropes and bits of world-building that we can use at the table…

For example, we learn that the Lunar Heartlands have laws on who can wear what kind of clothing (based on rank and occupation), or that noble Esrolian women often leave their bodices open to let their breasts loose, Minoan-style. We learn that Etyries merchants pay extra for rubies and perfumes, as they’re very popular in the Lunar Empire. We learn that various cultures paint their faces and bodies with ash, ochre, kohl, turmeric, or more. We learn that papyrus and parchment are common, and that Esrolian flutists use metal flutes, compared to wooden flutes in Sartar and Tarsh, or bone flutes in Prax and the Grazelands. We learn the names of a few Gloranthan board games. We learn that a common street food in Nochet is skewered oysters. If you think that this all helps better depict the people and places of your game, then you’ll find a lot of value in here. If however you tend to be quite terse with your descriptions, preferring to just get on with the story, you might find all of this very tedious.

Going back to my original question, was this Chaosium’s intent here? Was the primary goal of this section (and several others later), to give a better mental picture of Glorantha, with stats and prices added “just in case”? Or was the primary goal to have a list of items to buy, and the world-building aspects emerged from having a great bunch of writers doing the work? I’m inclined to think that it’s the former… but this is where once again Chaosium sort of undersells its product, the same way they undersell their Colymar adventure book and RuneQuest handouts by calling them a “Gamemaster Screen Pack“.

Herbs, Plants, and Adventuring Gear

While the section on Herbs & Plants and Adventuring Gear are found in the Common Goods section, I want to specifically mention them because they differ a bit from what I said above.

First, the Herbs & Plants section is a complimentary version of the Flora chapter of the Glorantha Bestiary. It actually cross-references the Bestiary for most of its entries. Either way, you get many plants here with mechanical effects for your game. A few extra entries are notable, such as the white poppy fields commonly found around Chalana Arroy hospitals. They act as pain killers and, like most pain killers, can become quite addictive… something that might be a lot of fun to play with when one of your adventurers inevitably visits one such hospital.

Second, the adventuring gear section is what you would expect from any other fantasy RPG book of equipment. I guess it’s useful in some way. Still, you find a few cool things in there. For instance, there is an expensive noble’s camping tent that, if expensive enough, gives you bonuses to social rolls when welcoming guests.


If you’re like me, one of the reasons you got into RuneQuest was because you saw that Vasana was riding a bison in the Quickstart, and you thought it was cool as hell. Well, this next section is bound to be quite useful for many gaming groups, as it deals with mounts and other beasts.

This chapter has pricing information for buying and keeping a mount, rules for training them from simple pack animals to cavalry beasts and even war mounts, and more. Our game has already made use of this chapter when all my players decided to buy animals during a short stint in Prax.

Stats for animals not found in the Glorantha Bestiary are given here, like for instance reindeers. Plus: mobile dwellings and a section on awakened beasts, which came in handy when one of my players’ character, an Ernaldan initiate, received an awakened snake as a special gift for saving the tribe.

Hirelings & Services

While the previous chapter was borderline off-topic for a book called “Weapons & Equipment”, this next chapter is definitely outside the scope of what you might have thought you’d find in here. But it is undeniably useful, especially as your adventurers gain in reputation, wealth, and power. Pretty quickly, they will have bodyguards, servants, soldiers, and other followers. This section on “Hirelings & Services” provides a lot of information for this, starting of course with these NPCs’ wages.

Once again, the text goes beyond the minimum gameable material. There is information on mercenary contracts, and the limits of their dedication to the job. There are fun things like hiring poets to insult a rival. We learn about an Issaries Herald sub-cult that has sacred protections for delivering bad news. You can hire sages and scribes for copying maps, deciphering ancient texts, or doing research into an obscure topic. This is actually very relevant to what’s going on in my campaign at the moment, as my players are trying to reach a specialist of the Empire of the Wyrms Friends in war-torn 1618 Western Esrolia.

Other types of common services for your games are magic services, such as getting an enchantment or spell matrix. The prices and benefits are great enough that you’ll probably use this section almost verbatim. However, other nearby sections in this chapter show up once again on my Grognard/Historian scale. For instance, the section on tattoos is great to contextualize this very common Gloranthan trope. The section on inns and caravanserais provides story fodder for travelling in your game. But is anybody really going to keep track of a couple Lunars here or there? Is anybody going haggle over a private room versus a common room? This is the kind of stuff everybody hand-waved back in 1990s fantasy RPGs, and I don’t know why it should be any different now in RuneQuest.

Again, the value here is almost archaeological… something that is evident with the section on funerary rites (which probably comes third in the list archaeologists’ favourite things to talk about) While it may be good to know that your adventurers need to come up with about a hundred Lunars to put that recently killed PC into a sarcophagus inside a burial mound with some offerings, the main value, at least to me, is to have a list of common burial practices in Glorantha. That tells me where my players will find angry ghosts! But frankly, if the players need to bury someone, there’s a good chance I hand-wave the price away with a roll of a Loyalty (tribe) Passion so that the community pays for it, with some bonuses if they put some of their money in the line.

Of note, one part of this chapter relates to slavery. There is a welcome sidebar that clarifies what Gloranthan slavery is (it’s a lot like Bronze and Iron Age slavery, and not at all like its later colonial form), and warns gamemasters to discuss it with their players before introducing it (or not) in their games. Good on Chaosium to have added this sidebar.

Weapons & Armour

Finally! Weapons! It’s the first half of the title, after all. I will lump the Armour chapter along with it here, since these are both straightforward combat gear for your violence-loving adventurers.

These chapters are basically expanded versions of the weapons and armour sections of the RuneQuest rulebook. They cover some of the same stuff, plus some new stuff, all with nice black and white art that shows you what it all looks like. I’m sure that min-maxing grognards will spend hours comparing tables entries to find the one weapon that gives the best results, but I can’t be bothered to do anything else than look at the prettiest drawing and just go with that. Or, even lazier, make up some random damage roll and HP for my NPCs’ weapons and wave my arms a lot.

So what we have here is more than 40 pages of old-school combat gear shopping. While it does register on the Grognard/Historian scale, it’s a pretty low ratio. Sure you learn a thing or two, like Dragonewt knapping (no, it’s not about kidnapping draconic people) or Gorakiki insect armour, but that’s pretty much it. If you thought that the rulebook had way enough weapons and armour to last your entire campaign, you might sigh at the amount of stuff presented here. Then again, the book is called “Weapons & Equipment” so don’t act surprised.

The only useful parts of these chapters as far as I’m concerned are the genuinely new mechanics. There are rules for entangling weapons (nets, lassos, etc), and rules for making new equipment (what skill to roll for what, how long it takes, how much it costs). Again, with some crafty adventurers in my party, the latter will come in handy as soon as I give my players enough downtime to work!

One last thing that may be useful to your game are the stats for non-human and beast armour… assuming you didn’t want to simply tweak the human armour accordingly and call it a day.


The next section deals with travel through Glorantha, which means that travel-related information is split between here and the section on inns and caravanserais in the Hirelings & Services chapter. The organization of the book is generally pretty good, but a few things like this sort of leak from one chapter to another, and that can lead to some confusion and page flipping.

What you have here are mostly stats, prices, and duration of various modes of travel, especially boats and chariots. There are a few good bits to figure out how fast your party’s travel goes, or face-planting with your chariot, but all of it is really pretty easy to research or improvise. There’s a hint of rules for boats and watercrafts, but the text mostly references the yet-to-be-published RuneQuest Gamemaster Sourcebook in which, we are promised, will be full rules for owning, maintaining, and waging combat on a ship.

Overall, I don’t personally find this a very useful chapter.


The chapter on land and homes is quite fun. Not only does it again give us a glimpse of daily life in Glorantha, it also has some basic mechanics for building and upgrading your adventurers’ households. Of course, it’s not as fun as “proper” base-building mechanics like those found in, say, Forbidden Lands, Mutant Year Zero, or Vaesen (yes, I’m a Free League fan too), since those are truly integrated into the gameplay… but it’s still sort of fun to use for flavour. Plus, there are random tables for stuff you might find in a piece of land your adventurer was just granted, and I love me some random tables almost as much as I love maps. Again, this is something we’ve used once in our game, and I’m hoping to do a bit more with it.

The downside is that RuneQuest here continues the tradition of gameplay economics that yield net losses on average in the hopes that it motivates players to take risks and go on adventures. This isn’t surprising for an old-school game that was created around the same time as, say, Traveller, which also puts the PCs in debt to send them into a life of adventuring… but I’m wondering if this will actually put off modern players.

As per the rulebook, a noble with five hides of lands barely covers their Standard of Living on a successful income roll, and actually loses money when you add cult tithing and other expenses. The Fortifications and Land Improvements presented in Weapons & Equipment are therefore a tricky proposition: they cost money to maintain in exchange for various bonuses whose effects are hard to quantify. Some give income roll bonuses while others give Harvest roll bonuses (a roll that may give you income roll bonuses!) Some give Reputation bonuses, and others don’t give you anything mechanically tangible. Several improvements require tracking each hide of land independently, as they get different bonuses… ok, now choose one!

I haven’t tested this yet, but I get the impression that narrative-driven players will just pick what sounds cool and feel like being punished when they lose money. Meanwhile, mechanics-driven players will be stuck for hours trying to unravel all these bonuses. This possibly needs a hefty dose of expectations management and oversight from the gamemaster.

I think these rules might be desirable only if you own a large property anyway (eight hides or more). Maybe that’s the point, but it means that you’ll have to grant your players a whole bunch of land before you can use this chapter. Thankfully, there’s a section to help you manage these land grants, which I have already used in my games. I’m trying to break away from the old gameplay trope of keeping the PCs poor, and increasingly giving free stuff to my players.


The next chapter expands on the “Between Adventures” chapter of the rulebook, especially when it comes to finding someone to train your adventurer. This could have been part of the Hirelings & Services chapter, but has been set aside in its own chapter, possibly because it would be used between adventures rather than during them.

Once again, the long-promised RuneQuest Gamemaster Sourcebook gets a name drop (for rules and information about Gloranthan guilds), and the Cults of Glorantha (sadly since renamed as Cults of RuneQuest) also gets a mention (for the Etyries’ Exchange Spells Rune spell, which you can already find in the Red Book of Magic anyway).

This section may have some better explanation or context for things related to characteristic, skill, and magic training, but I didn’t see anything really new or compelling compared to the RuneQuest rulebook. And it still has this outdated (and possibly problematic in my opinion) view that INT it can’t be improved except by magical means.

The only valuable bit as far as I’m concerned was a small paragraph suggesting that adventurers change their occupation for a season (if appropriate given their story) to get multiple experience rolls, rather than just the one roll in the skill they’ve been training. For instance, an adventurer working on a farm to learn Animal Lore might also get experience checks in, say, Herd, and Farm as part of their four seasonal occupation skill experience checks, as opposed to whatever usual occupation they have.

Exotic Items

This last chapter of Weapons & Equipments looks at Exotic Items. The first half is a reiteration of the Gamemaster Adventures’ Appendix on magic crystals. I didn’t notice anything new there. The second half deals with enchanted items and presents a short but nice list of such objects.

I can see myself using this section a few times over a few adventures in order to introduce fun magic items into the game. I especially like the seemingly-useless items, such as the metal spoon that makes bland food taste good… However, dedicated sourcebooks like Plunder or Treasures of Glorantha are of course better for this kind of thing.


And that’s RuneQuest Weapons & Equipment!

As I said in the early parts of the review, this is one tough book to judge. On the one hand, it’s a great looking book that contains many insightful looks at the daily life of Gloranthan people, with quite a few useful optional rules and object references. On the other hand, a lot of its contents encourages old-school gameplay and bean counting, there is repetition of material you probably already own, and references to stuff that, more than year since the PDF came out, still haven’t been released.

The value you’ll get from this book will vary a lot based on your style of play and the themes of your campaign. Like me, you’ll probably find sections that are useful and sections that are useless… the question is how much of each?

Personally speaking, the “Weapons & Equipment” part of the “Weapons & Equipment” book is actually the least interesting. Everything else is infinitely more useful than lists of adventuring gear and tables of weapons. I’m definitely not alone in this, since the announcement of the book was generally received by groans and shrugs in my gaming circles. But this isn’t the book people thought it was. This is the book that lets me populate my Glorantha with the flavourful bits of the ancient world. This is the book I reach for when my players want to hire someone, craft a piece of armour, or buy some new mounts. This is the book that gives me the gaming material I need when I reward the adventurers with hides of land or fancy swords. It’s not a perfect book but it’s quite useful and very pretty, and that’s what we want from our RPG books, isn’t it?

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.

There hasn’t been a Glorantha Initiation Series episode this month… my apologies! I was too busy with too many things and didn’t have time to do the audio editing. Rest assured that we have a few interviews already recorded, just waiting to be cut up in a DAW, and we have many other people patiently waiting for me to schedule something with them (if you’re one of them, again, my apologies!)

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Basic Roleplaying, Universal Game Engine

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Fresh off the press, Chaosium has announced a new version of their venerable Big Gold Book, which we mentioned last week is now available in print-on-demand:

This release serves as an update to the core BRP system. Under the new Open RPG Creative License (ORC), game creators are free to use the BRP rules engine to develop their own games, royalty-free and without further permission from Chaosium.

The Big Gold Book was released as a generic system to be used by gamers at their own table, i.e. it didn’t include a license to re-use its text and terminology in other products. This new version, however, looks like it’s meant for creators, since it is released under Paizo’s ORC license. As such, I expect to see three types of changes in this book compared to the Big Gold Book:

  1. The removal of mechanics that they don’t want to see in derivative products,
  2. The addition of generic versions of the mechanics designed for Chaosium’s latest games (RuneQuest Glorantha, Call of Cthulhu 7th edition, Rivers of London, maybe even Lords of the Middle Sea),
  3. Updated rules and texts, a few new illustrations, etc. (including, of course, the ORC license)

Of course, 1 and 2 above sound sort of contradictory but, to clarify, I expect for instance to see CoC7e-inspired rules like percentile characteristics, but not pushed rolls. This area was a bit murky under Chaosium’s previous license, so I hope this new edition of BRP clarifies things.

Worldbuilding Too Much?

This interview with John Wick isn’t directly related to Glorantha (although of course it gets referenced), but it has a lot of relevant topics to your gaming.

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!

Duckpac in Print

The first three volumes of Duckpac, the sourcebook for the best Gloranthan species, are now available in print-on-demand!

© 2023 Drew Baker, Neil Gibson, Chaosium Inc.

Volumes one and two are combined in one book (although, confusingly enough, you will only get the PDFs for volume one if you purchase it in dual-format… I understand why it’s like that, since it’s under the existing entry for volume one, but it’s no less confusing… get volume two’s PDFs here). This book contains all the background information on the Durulz, along with character creation rules, making it a great purchase for a player wanting to play a duck!

© 2023 Drew Baker, Neil Gibson, Chaosium Inc.

Volume three is the soloquest adventure, “Redfeather Dreaming”.

Note that the “player book” is a hardcover, while the soloquest is a softcover… is your OCD flaring up yet?

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.

Human Sacrifice in Glorantha

A quick answer from Jeff about human sacrifice in Glorantha:

Human sacrifice is pretty rare among the Orlanthi. The tusk riders perform it, which is one of the reasons they are so disliked. Zorak Zoran is infamous for the deaths that take place during his ceremonies.

Pretty rare among the Orlanthi” means that it does happen sometimes. The main references I can find for this come from the now retconned HeroWars and HeroQuest material. These point to the very small cult of Ana Gor, the goddess of human sacrifice for the Orlanthi. Some say she was created when the first death occurred, which would be when Humakt killed Grandfather Mortal.

As far as I can understand, her priestesses are the only ones who can, legally and magically and cosmically speaking, lead a human sacrifice ceremony without it turning into a Chaos-fest. Orlanth and Ernalda still don’t like this, and only a few cults (Humakt, Babeester Gor, Maran Gor, etc) tolerate it under very specific, yet unspecified, circumstances.

The interesting note here for Tarsh fanboys like me is that Ana Gor can be found incarnated on Glorantha as Sorana Tor, which you might know as the co-founder of the Kingdom of Tarsh with Arim the Pauper. They started the Twins Dynasty together with their kids in the mid-1300s. She reincarnated a few more times to marry and have children with other historical figures… including possibly Argrath himself. She might have reincarnated even more times, left undocumented, so feel free to have her show up in your game!

The Tusk Riders are of course horribly awesome — we have a whole episode about them. They routinely sacrifice people for the Appease Earth Rune spell, which keeps their giant tusker boars tame. Without it, they might go back to the old days when Ernalda was pissed at them and used a giant boar to try and wipe them out… or something. The history of the Tusk Rider is (on purpose) rather murky, and that’s why they’re awesome. Again, listen to the episode!

But the Tusk Riders also kill people to turn them into spirit magic servants using the Death Binding Rune spell. This lets them use a lot more magic than their otherwise low CHA allows (well, in terms of RuneQuest mechanics). This can potentially be considered a form of human sacrifice too.

Outside of the Orlanthi and the Tusk Riders, we can find some references to human sacrifice here and there in the Guide to Glorantha. These tend to be obscure old traditions of a specific place, rather that widespread traditions of a whole culture or nation. For example, the Cursed City of Central Fronela, the cities along the banks of the Red River in Northern Kralorela, the yearly sacrifices at Natha’s Well in the Lunar satrapy of Oronin, and more.

You can easily place human sacrifice anywhere in Glorantha by having a particularly nasty spirit demanding it as a form or propitiation.

Now Hon-eel loves blood sacrifices and has deadly gladiatorial contests to satisfy her.

Hon-eel indeed loves human sacrifices, as this seems necessary to preserve a connection to some of the old Moon Goddesses, in particular Natha and Gerra. I don’t know more than what the Glorantha Sourcebook says about them:

  • Gerra used to be a nasty little Moon goddess who did nasty things. Now associated with the Dying Moon Phase, she apparently likes lots of people to do nasty things to themselves.
  • Natha is a Moon goddess of balance, now associated with the Empty Half Moon Phase. She likes to do opposed things, bringing Life and Death, Light and Darkness, Peanut Butter and Nutella, and so on. People sacrifice themselves and each other to her because, well, I don’t know, people are crazy like that.

Cult Relationships

Jeff clarifies what the “hostile” cult relationship means:

Some people seem to assume that mutually hostile cults simply end up murdering each other if they have an opportunity. That’s not really the case – between hostile cults, relations are strained, and the historic tension complicates peaceful dealings. There are difficult moments when hostile cults meet.

Remember that there’s a worse relationship type than “hostile cults”, and that is “enemy cults”. Funnily enough, as far as I can tell, this relationship is explained in the rulebook, but none of the core cults are actually enemies. At least I can’t find any “E” in that table page 311.

If you go check out the old Cults of Prax, however, you’ll find some enemy cults: Zorak Zoran is an enemy of Yelmalio, the Seven Mothers are enemies of Zorak Zoran, and Aldrya and Zorak Zoran are enemies of each other.

Remember that the cult compatibility table is not symmetrical! So while Yelmalio really really hates Zorak Zoran, Zorak Zoran is merely “hostile” towards it. I’m reminded of this Mad Men scene.

The Seven Mothers and Orlanth cults are mutually hostile. They can co-exist, but that co-existence is fraught with tension that sometimes spills over into violence. More often it involves the cults deliberately tuning the other out, refusing to interact with each other, segregating into separate communities, and that sort of thing.

In the cities of the Lunar Provinces, the Orlanth cult is discouraged by the ruling Seven Mothers cult, but that does not mean that there are bands of soldiers stopping the rural population from worshiping Orlanth. The Lunar Empire simply doesn’t possess the resources to do that.

There are indeed a lot of ways that to express hostility besides outright violence. Everyday racism, institutional or systemic prejudice, and biased representation are but a few ways this hostility can materialize. This is the same as with the Hate Passion, which totally doesn’t necessarily mean you have a 60% chance of wanting to kill someone.

The Seven Mothers cult can do a lot of things to “discourage” Orlanth worship without having to reach for armed soldiers. They can build tourist hotels where sacred Storm sites are (the view is great from up here!), raise taxes on Orlanthi temples (I’m sorry but your Summons of Evil rituals often cause material damages and we need to cover those costs), create discriminating rules for common services in town (your beard must be this short to get into bathhouses: it’s just good hygiene, and also our drains kept getting clogged), and so on… which, in turns, might give you ideas for fun adventures!

A Single Community of Gods

Some people were asking about the views of one pantheon’s worshipper towards another pantheon. Jeff replies by quoting Amanda Podany’s “Weavers, Scribes, and Kings“:

“Suppose a priestess had arrived in Uruk, having traveled from Northern Mesopotamia, or Iran, or even Anatolia or Egypt. Even then she would not have doubted the power of Inana. Back at home, this goddess probably had a different name, or she might not even been worshiped at all, but this didn’t make Inana a false god in the mind of the visiting priestess. No gods were false; all were members of a single community of gods that extended to all lands. They could not be separated from the world they controlled, and the products of the world all existed primarily to satisfy their needs.”

So in the ancient polytheist world, and in Glorantha, there’s no such thing as denying the existence of another person’s gods — that’s a concept that monotheist religions like Christianity popularized. You maybe question the power of another person’s god, especially in relation to yours, but both gods, and many others, exist almost as a matter of fact. Although don’t take it too far:

Note that this isn’t henotheism. You have a special connection with A deity, but that deity is not a supreme god. Not even Orlanth or Yelm makes such claims.

I’m not sure if henotheism implies anything about your god being superior to the others, but you get the idea. Jeff expands a bit on what it means in Glorantha, including:

People can and do worship all the deities that are useful to worship – but can only wield the magic of that deity they have a deep connection with through initiation. That is a much deeper and more intimate connection than merely lay worship, and few people bother with being initiated to more than one deity.

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 Diets of Ancient Europe

Guest segment by Jörg

Dan Davis, author of a number of novels set in the Bronze Age, takes a deeper look back into prehistory and investigates the diet of these early humans. This gives a nice parallel for a number of Gloranthan cultures that are in this spectrum.

The Dragon Bones of Wadi al-Hitan

Creative Commons photo

The Egyptian national park of Wadi al-Hitan has a whole bunch of fossils, including many of these dragon-looking things above. Of course they aren’t really dragons, and the name of the place gives it away if you speak Arabic: “Wadi al-Hitan” means “Valley of the Whales”.

Creative Commons photo

The place is littered with aquatic fossils from the Middle Eocene period (about 45 million years ago), when North Africa was underwater (see above). These fossils are incredibly well preserved, which makes them super useful for archaeologists… and this is where it starts to get weird.

The dragon bones you see in these pictures aren’t skeletons of any sort of whale. Most of them are from an older species called Archaeoceti… a whale with four legs. Because you see, aquatic mammals evolved from land mammals who went back into the oceans.

Atlas Obscura notes:

But since their discovery in 1902, the fossils of Wadi al-Hitan have tended to raise more questions than they’ve answered. While the hundreds of archaeocete skeletons provide a rare and valuable snapshot of whales in the final stages of losing their hind limbs and transitioning to a marine existence, evolutionary biologists are still left puzzled over the identity of the whale’s earliest ancestor.

Similarities in tooth shape led to the long-held belief that whales were related to mesonychids, carnivorous hoofed mammals that closely resembled wolves. It wasn’t until 2005 that a team of American and French scientists finally discovered the missing link between whales and their closest relative, the hippopotamus. This discovery, supported by another collection of cetacean fossils located in Pakistan, placed the whale in the different taxonomic group of artiodactyls, which includes such unexpected relatives as camels, pigs, and giraffes.

If you thought Gloranthaphiles were being funny when they say things like “horses are a kind of bird“, it’s nothing compared to evolutionary biologists being able to say things like “whales are a kind of giraffe“.

You see, this kind of shit places whales in the “even-toed ungulate” taxonomic order. That is, the animals that are, or descend from those that, bear weight equally on an even number of toes. Because obviously that’s a sane way to classify animals? I don’t know, people, I’m just discovering all of this. Of course you also have the “odd-toed ungulate” taxonomic order, because at least there is method in the madness. I can’t wait to classify worms and snakes as “zero-toed ungulates” or something.

Anyway, the second category (odd number of toes) includes all the equidae (horses and zebras and so on, who use just one toe), and rhinoceroses and tapirs (who use three toes). The first category, which we’re interested in here, includes a whole bunch of animals who use two toes: swine, sheep, goats, cattle, deer, llamas, hippopotamuses, and, of course, as promised, giraffes and whales. Oh and dolphins and other cetaceans of course, because there’s nothing I wanted to learn more today than a link between the majestic dolphin and the stupid goat.

So to celebrate this momentous occasion, and because we now have a link between orcas and wild boars, I present to you my newest Gloranthan creation: the Willy Riders, the aquatic equivalent of the Tusk Riders, but they ride Killer Whales! Because WHY THE FUCK NOT AT THIS POINT?

I hope you get the reference. Plus, if your adventurer is scared of them, you can say they give you the willies.

Creative Commons photo

Anyway, enough of this nonsense. Wadi al-Hitan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can technically visit it, but from what I understand it’s a bit hard to get to so it doesn’t receive that many tourists every year so far.

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.

Last week David Castle’s book-club reading of the Guide to Glorantha began, and the Glorantha Discord server got a huge influx of people for the occasion. It’s great to see familiar names and new names alike on there. David has done a great job setting up a structured discussion, with many topic prompts for you to jump on. You don’t even have to show up at a designated time, the threads are still up for you to participate in!

David was also kind enough to make us a dedicated #god-learners channel on the server, so if you want to discuss recent episodes or newsletters with us, that’s as good a place as any! You can join the Glorantha Discord server with this invite link (only valid for this week).

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Cover for Cults of RuneQuest: Earth Goddesses

Art by Loic Muzy © 2023 Chaosium Inc.

After nicely letting us get a good look at his cover for the Lightbringers book, Loic Muzy shares the cover for the Earth Goddesses book! In the process, he once again reveals who those figures are!

They are Esrola (on the left) and Pelora (on the right). I was quite wrong in my previous study of the cover… I wasn’t sure between Esrola and Voria on one side, and I stupidly thought of Hon-eel for the other goddess instead of Pelora, who is I guess the land goddess that Hon-eel channelled or something? Anyway, I was in the correct ballpark, but still wrong. That’s what you get when Joerg isn’t there to watch over me.

Basic Roleplaying is Back in Print (on Demand)

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Basic Roleplaying’s “big gold book” is now available again in print-on-demand via DriveThruRPG. It had been only available in PDF for a little while, likely after the last offset printing ran out (well, maybe, see the end of this segment)

This isn’t directly Glorantha related but since the Basic Roleplaying system (“BRP”) was invented with the first edition of RuneQuest, it’s sort of indirectly related. This “big gold book” basically takes what Chaosium learned with their many earlier games (RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, Magic World, Elfquest, Stormbringer, and many more) and puts it all in a generic rulebook full of options for your BRP games. It’s got a buffet of various rules for magic, combat, psychic abilities, super powers, meta-currencies, and so on… If you’re unhappy with a particular aspect of a BRP game, there’s a good change the big gold book has some alternate rules for you.

This is my original 2008 copy, not the POD version

If you want to get cheeky, you could consider its “previous edition” to be the 16 pages booklet that was found in several Chaosium boxed sets in the early 1980s (pictured below)

The 1980 Basic Roleplaying booklet found in the RuneQuest 2nd edition box

Be warned that the big gold book is, let’s say, of a certain era. It dates from 2008, which isn’t that old, but this firmly predates Chaosium’s current era of the lush colour books. It is entirely black and white, with art of varying quality. Its layout is basic and arguably dated, although I genuinely love the baffling & cute “binary notation” of the chapters in the page bleeds. And of course it presents a 1980s game system complemented with, mostly, 1990s optional rules, so, well, manage your expectations.

But if you play more than a couple of Chaosium games, who likely all share this BRP DNA, you might very well find this book interesting! Check it out here, but note that US customers can order it directly via Chaosium. I have no idea if these are leftovers from a previous print run or if they are a new printing, and if so whether they’re from Lightning Source (which handles DriveThruRPG’s POD)

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!

Old Pavis: The City that Time Forgot

Ian Thomson and friends have released the second volume of the “Pavis & Big Rubble Companion, Director’s Cut”! The first volume was “New Pavis: City on the Edge of Forever“, and the new one is “Old Pavis: The City that Time Forgot“.

This material had originally been published in the series of “Pavis & Big Rubble Companions” in the early 2000s (see here and here). These are quite hard to find, these days. Ian Thomson has been tracking down many contributors to get their approval for a re-release, and along the way things have been edited and expanded.

Anyway, do you want expanded cult write-ups, city gazetteers and maps, character generation options, and scenarios set in and around Pavis? Of course you do! Grab this 240 pages tome of classic RuneQuest goodness here!

Call Up the Fyrd

© 2023 Zed Nope & Chaosium Inc.

Zed Nope continues their collection of Gloranthan stock art with some militia members drawn in “loose sketchy style”. You can use this art for your Jonstown Compendium or personal projects (with conditions).

Two Reviews for Children of Hykim

© 2023 Brian Duguid & Chaosium Inc.

Brian Duguid’s Children of Hykim (the topic of episode 17 of our podcast) gets reviewed not just once but twice in as many weeks!

The first review comes from good ol’ Pookie and his inevitable Reviews From R’lyeh. Besides a “terrible, unforgivable pun”, Pookie sounds quite happy with the book:

The Children of Hykim is superbly researched and richly detailed examination of the Hsunchen and their world and world view, which although very much falling under the category of ‘Your Glorantha Will Vary’, really feels as that should not be case, that it should be an official release. It may not be the official guide to the Hsunchen, but The Children of Hykim feels like the definitive guide until there is one. 

He does note of course that the topic and scope of the book may or may not be of immediate interest to your campaign.

The second review comes from equally good but not as ol’ Austin Conrad. As usual, Austin includes his “armchair vs tabletop” rating for the book, which tells you if this is more of a research/reference book for the gamemaster, or something you’d bring to the table and use during play. In this case, Austin would place it “closer to the armchair side”. The review is extremely positive, and as a complement to Pookie’s review, adds:

Children of Hykim shouldn’t be seen as a niche book about a niche culture. It’s a beautiful resource work which any gamemaster could utilize with ease in their own Glorantha.

Get the book here! The latest update (to celebrate reaching Electrum Best Seller) includes a full transcript of our podcast episode with Brian!

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.

Yelmalio and Elmal Again

You could bet your hat that, with the recent announcement of the Cults of RuneQuest books, somebody would be asking about this whole Yelmalio/Elmal business again… like, for instance, whether Elmal would show up in the Lightbringers book. Of course, he isn’t: it’s just Yelmalio, and he will be in the Sun Gods’ books, with a small sub-cult mention for Elmal.

Still, Jeff took the time to answer, and gave another summary you may find interesting about the history of the cult:

There is no Elmal v. Yelmalio. They are the same god, same archetypes, and fit in the same place in cosmic mythology. We all know Yelmalio – he’s that last light that survived after the Sun went to the Underworld. He’s in the night sky as Lightfore, the brightest planet in the heavens, which follows the same route as the Sun. 

In much of central Genertela, we have a network of Sun Dome temples which anchor the Yelmalio cult. We’ve got several in Dragon Pass, several more in Saird, one in Prax, a few in Aggar and Talastar, etc. Let’s say altogether that network has about 160,000 or so initiates. That’s a BIG cult. The cult really got rolling in the early Second Age, when it helped break the power of the trolls (lets call it the “mini-Darkness” following the Gbaji Wars).

After the Dragonkill War, the Hendriki of Heortland were cut off from that. And the Orlanth cult was SO predominant in Hendrikiland, their tiny Yelmalio cult found ways to claim an association with Orlanth to survive. They harkened back to the Dawn Age Orlanthi, when Yelmalio was worshiped in conjunction with Orlanth as “Elmal”.

But with the Resettlement of Dragon Pass in the 1400s and the resumption of trade with Peloria in the 1500s, the truncated (Y)Elmal(io) cult came into contact with Yelm (the Lunars helped with this). They looked to magical riches of Yelm and started joining that cult – and they started a civil war in Sartar against the Orlanth Rex cult. Monrogh went to the Hill of Gold and saw the fullness of Yelmalio. Yelmalio is Neutral towards Orlanth, and as long as Orlanth respects Yelmalio’s place in the world, Yelmalio can respect Orlanth’s. And guess what guys? We are already initiates of Yelmalio! No need to try to tie ourselves into pretzels trying to initiate to Yelm – we are already Yelmalio!

For the sake of people who really loved the KoDP video game, we kept a small Elmal subcult as a possibility in the Yelmalio cult writeup, but as far as I am concerned, that subcult is maybe a generation away from being extinct.

Jeff provides many more precisions and comments about Yelmalio, Elmal, and their relationships to other deities in the thread, showing pretty good patience with dead horse floggers. From what I can tell, it seems to really boil down to Elmal being a mostly King of Dragon Pass creation, and some of the official Gloranthan material ran with it to some extent as a “thank you” to David Hall.

Old HeroQuest players may also want to take note of this:

Elmal does not have fire powers. I screwed up in the description in Sartar KoH.

You won’t be surprised to know that the thread received a massive amount of traffic (more than I can follow) and was eventually locked by the forum admins. Gloranthaphiles gotta argue, I guess.

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to celebrate the 30 years anniversary of this essay by Greg Stafford about the “Birth of Elmal” or “Why I screwed up your Glorantha”!

The Spread of Cults and Temples

As an offshoot of the previously mentioned thread, Jeff compiled a few examples of how initiates of a cult can get worship services from a wide range of temples across Glorantha. He uses the RuneQuest Glorantha pre-generated characters as examples for this. So when it comes to Orlanth, we look at Vasana’s experience:

Vasana was initiated into the cult of Orlanth Adventurous (Vinga) at the major temple of the Colymar tribe (as is common). As an initiate she offers worship to Orlanth at all sorts of temples and shrines to the god and his aspects throughout Dragon Pass, Pavis, and the Holy Country. Vasana has traveled from Clearwine to Ralios and had no trouble offering sacrifices to Orlanth in the countless temples and shrines to the god along the way. Normally she recognises the regalia, the accoutrements, and the songs in Storm Speech – this stuff has been carried throughout Genertela over the last sixteen centuries.

On the other hand, Nathem is used to only worshipping Odayla the Bear God at a few shrines here and there between Tarsh and Sartar. But things change when he travels further north:

He travels to Syllila where there is a large and organised cult with as many people as the entire adult population of the Tarsh Exiles. It is an eye-opener, with new stories, new myths, and more. So Nathem keeps wandering, and eventually makes his way to Fronela. There he encounters the Rathor cult – and Nathem tries worship the Great Brown Bear there. Does he succeed or is that the point where the differences are too great? Dunno, sounds like a fun part of that campaign though!

The note also has a third example featuring a character named Berensor who was initiated into… the Elmal cult! Go read his short story, and that of his grandson Varthanic, to learn how initiates of Elmal and Yelmalio experience different temples in different regions.

The only annotation worth making for this is to say that the “Amber Fields” (mentioned in Berensor’s story) is the name of the location of the Sun Dome Temple in Southern Sartar. You can see it labelled riiiiiight at the bottom of left the “Map of Northern Sartar” from the RuneQuest Starter Set:

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

The 15 Sun Dome Temples

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff had already written, a long time ago, about the 15 Sun Dome temples found in Central Genertela around the time of the Hero Wars. Since Yelmalio was very much in fashion last week, he wrote again about it:

There are 15 autonomous Sun Dome Temples of the Yelmalio cult. The temples are uniformly shaped, although many vary somewhat in surprise. The most important Sun Dome Temples are generally considered to be that of Dragon Pass (in Sartar) and Saird (Mirin’s Cross).

There is a bit more information, including how important the Yelmalio cult is in the Lunar Provinces.


© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

It’s map time! Look at this wonderful bit of the upcoming Dragon Pass map… oh my. And the funny place names like “Stop Here” and “Ferry”.

Jeff gives a high level view of Tarsh, with its Lunar colonies centred around Furthest and Dunstop:

These colonies are overwhelmingly Lunar in character – in the city of Furthest almost half the adult population are initiates of Lunar cults, and in the rural areas around Furthest that percentage rises to more than half the population. Think the Greek colonies in Central Asia – these Tarshites are self-consciously Lunar. And not as converts to the Lunar Way – they likely claim (often spurious) ancestry going back to those who followed Hon-eel in the Fifth Wane, and the Maize Goddess is very popular there (indeed on the maps you can see this area as the Maize Belt).

Bagnot and Slavewall are different: they’re at the edge of the Empire’s Glowline, and have been properly conquered by the Lunars only in the past couple generations:

Bagnot in contrast has less than a quarter the city population initiated into a Lunar cult, but more than a quarter are initiates of Orlanth. In the rural areas around Bagnot, the Lunar percentage drops to less than 10%, while the Orlanth cult membership stays the same (increased percentages of Ernalda, Maran Gor, Babeester Gor, and Humakt make up the difference). Bagnot more resembles Lunar Occupied Sartar than it does the area around Furthest.

There is a lot more material in the note including a look at general politics of the region, Fazzur Wideread, why the Orlanth cult isn’t completely wiped out, the difference between Tarsh and Sartar, and more.


© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Let’s keep going north!

Directly north of Tarsh is Holay, which includes Mirin’s Cross, the great Daughter’s Road from Jillaro to Filichet, and several Sun Dome Temples. Holay is the most populous of the Lunar Provinces, with some 600,000 inhabitants, of whom 400,000 are adults. Some 120,000 are initiates of the Lunar Way, including 24,000 followers of Hwarin Dalthippa.

I’ve officially run out of time to analyze these notes, but I appreciate with summary of the Lunar Provinces’ political dynamic:

So again, you can see the common pattern in the Lunar Provinces – a Lunar core, probably originally settlers from the Heartlands, allied with Solar cultists and assisted by the Provincial Army, are able to keep the Orlanthi in check.

The “Solar cultists” mentioned here include a few thousand Yelm (and other) initiates, but mostly a whole bunch of Yelmalio follows. Forty thousands of them… changing their loyalties would greatly change the local balance of power!

The Grazelands

Like I said, I’ve run out of time for analyzing these notes (in exchange you get some stuff on marble quarries later in the newsletter!), but if you’re interested in the Grazelands, here’s some information, including how much of a political powerhouse the Feathered Horse Queen is:

The dominant cult in the Grazelands is Ernalda, with some 9250 initiates out of a total adult population of around 26,000. The Ernalda cult dominates the Grazelands like no place outside of Esrolia. The Feathered Horse Queen is the high priestess of the cult, and also recognized as the high priestess of Kero Fin for Dragon Pass. She is closely associated with the Maran Gor and Babeester Gor cults (with another 1575 initiates in the Grazelands between both cults). Even more impressively, Feathered Horse Queen is the focus of loyalty of the Humakt cult of the Grazelands, with another 1325 initiates. Together these cults serve as bodyguards, enforcers, and dangerous reminders of the power of the Feathered Horse Queen.

The Feathered Horse Queen (and Ernalda) is courted by both Yelm, represented by the semi-nomadic horse-riding “Pony Breeders” that you can play in RuneQuest Glorantha, and Orlanth, represented by the Barntar-worshipping farmers of the region.

Jeff explains in the note how the first Queen established a compromise between these two factions in order to prevent one exterminating the other, goes over her marriages, explains how her heroquesting helped establish her claim to power, and more!

There is also this extra note on the Pure Horse People in general: not just the Grazelanders but also the main two tribes from Pent.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Dragon Pass Pantheons: the rough membership numbers for the various pantheons map fairly well to the release order of the cults books!
  • Cult Demographics of the Lunar Empire: a closer look at membership numbers for the Lunar Empire. Those are big numbers, with the big pantheons being more than a match for each other. Just don’t piss off the Earth Goddesses.

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.

OpenQuest Updates their SRD

© 2023 D101 Games

In these days of exciting gaming legal news, D101 Games has announced that the OpenQuest SRD would now simply be using a Creative Commons license.

The OQ SRD is now CC BY and has been updated with the amends to the 2nd Printing, as has the downloadable text version. The POD version is currently being updated to the 2nd printing, will be available again in about a week or so.

We’re also expecting some license changes for Chaosium’s own BRP SRD, but if you want to make a game based on a slightly simpler RuneQuest-inspired D100 system, you might as well check out OpenQuest and even SimpleQuest (from the same authors)

Newt Newport’s RuneQuest Campaigns

Speaking of D101 Games, Newt Newport (who is both the founder of D101 Games and a giant Glorantha nerd) has updated his “Arkat’s Playground” blog with a list of his RuneQuest campaigns across the ages…

This is quite the list, with many unusual parts of Glorantha being explored in total “Your Glorantha Will Vary” ways. A lot of it sounds awesome, and some of it was written and published, although it might be tricky to find these days.

Did you run some really uncommon Gloranthan games? Then you should write a little something about them and share it with the rest of us!

Lee O’Connor Draws Some Black Elves

As you might already know, Lee O’Connor (which we interviewed on the podcast) is drawing some Voralans for an upcoming book by Brian Duguid. If you’re curious, you can watch him at work here on Instagram! With any luck, he will do more live-drawing sessions in the future…

In the meantime, check out these Black Elf jokes, also by Brian Duguid, complemented by some quick cartoony doodles by yours truly.

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.

Ancient Greek Jewellery

I had previously posted a quick thing about ancient jewellery, but here’s a bit more. This list of Ancient Greek bling showcases the sophistication of Iron Age artists and crafters.

Photo from World History Encyclopedia

For instance, the gold hairnet above is from the 3rd century BCE, with a centre relief of Artemis, the goddess of hunting, wilderness, childbirth, and childcare (among a few other hats).

These golden wreaths above (the second being only a fragment) demonstrate the kind of very fine crafting that was possible at the time (also in the 3rd century BCE) By the way, I can’t read about “wreaths” without thinking about “wraiths”, so if some haunted jewellery shows up in my games, you’ll know why.

Photo from The Met

Can I interest you in learning my new words of the day? This above is a “Carnelian Intaglio”, a very popular (although luxurious) sort of jewellery that consisted of a carved gemstone mounted on necklaces and rings.

The first term, “carnelian”, refers to the carnelian mineral often used to make these pieces. Carnelian had been used for fancy stuff dating back to the 4th or even 5th millennium BCE, and I imagine that long distance traders across Europe and the Near East had quite a bunch of those rocks in their bags. Since wax doesn’t stick to carnelian, it was also a popular material for making seals, including Assyrian cylinder seals and Egyptian scarabs. You know… the kind of stuff that spies might want to steal.

The second term, “intaglio”, is actually in the dictionary. It’s “an engraving or incised figure in stone or other hard material depressed below the surface so that an impression from the design yields an image in relief.

Anyway, the intaglio above dates, again, from the 3rd-to-1st century BCE, and features the head of Medusa. If you look for Ancient Roman or Greek carnelian intaglios in your favourite online image search, you’ll find a whole bunch more.

Creative Commons image

The last type of jewellery I didn’t know about are “cameos”, such as this Gonzaga cameo above (guess what, it’s also from around the 3rd century BCE, what a coincidence!)

My third new word of the day (what a day!) is therefore “cameo“, not in the classical superhero meaning of “have you seen Stan Lee’s cameo in Spider-Man Homecoming?“, but in the even more classical engraving meaning of, basically, the inverse of an intaglio. Intaglios have a “negative image”, i.e. the engraving is carved into the gemstone. In contrast, cameos have a “positive image”, i.e. they are a sort of bas-relief that “comes out” of the gemstone. You can find more examples of cameos here.

It’s not clear who the two figures are on the Gonzaga cameo above… they have been identified with several famous Hellenistic and Roman figures. But it sure looks pretty.

For more Ancient Greek jewellery, including bracelets and armbands, see here.

Carrara Marble

One of the many things I’d like to feature more in my Gloranthan games is evidence that the world of Glorantha is inhabited by people who work, play, create, and, well, live there. This includes “bits of ecosystems” such as, say, what goes into making these wonderful Esrolian or Lunar palaces with marble columns and floors or whatever you have in your Glorantha. From the people cutting blocks of marble, to those trading and transporting them, and then the artists and architects and priests involved in the final buildings, there are many opportunities for adventures and shenanigans…

Photo by The Greta Escape

But more importantly, marble quarries are super photogenic places for setting up an action scene! Imagine jumping up and down these giant blocks, smashing enemies into these grey walls, blowing up chunks of them with magic! Who cares about architecture or mineralogy, I want to blow some shit up! Yay!

Carrara marble takes its name from the city of Carrara in Tuscan, Italy (see the red dot above) where there are more than 650 quarry sites. Marble has been extracted from that area from all the way back to Ancient Rome. Romans really loved this beautiful white marble and called it “Lunar marble”, in reference to the moon. Guess who, in Glorantha, might have a similar name for a similarly popular type of marble, eh?

It get even better in terms of parallels, because the story goes that the Romans took possession of the mountains around these quarries in about 180 BCE after fighting off the Celtic tribes that lived there… sounds familiar? Of course, those Celtic hillbillies weren’t mining the mountains, and just living there. The Romans only later realized what they were sitting on, and marble excavation most likely started around 155 BCE.

Creative Commons photo

Many Roman landmarks standing today are made of Carrara marble, including the Pantheon and Trajan’s Column (pictured above), which is made of 20 marble drums each weighing about 32 tons.

I haven’t found much information about how big those quarries were during the time of the Romans. I doubt they were as mind-boggling big as they are nowadays, thanks to all these machines we have… but even if you scale these quarries down, they must have been fairly sizable in the ancient world.

This article on the Carrara quarries mentions:

Once upon a time the extraction of the marble was entrusted to slavery, and their techniques remained unchanged for thousands of years. In the beginning, the miners exploited the natural fissures of the rock, and inserted wooden wedges.  These were then wet with water: their swelling, caused by the natural expansion of the wood, would cause the marble block to detach from the mountain. The Romans used metal chisels to cut blocks with a depth of about 2 meters. Metallic chisels were inserted into cuts about 20cm (around 9 in) deep, and after much continuous hammering, the block was separated from the mountain. Then, to cut the block into smaller slabs, two men would use a large handsaw while a mixture of water and silica was poured onto the block to facilitate the cutting process. It’s incredible to think that, each day, only about 8cm would be cut, and it could take up to two years from extracting the marble to transporting it to the coast.


Once the marble blocks were cut away from the mountain, another challenge lay ahead: how to transport the marble down the mountain, to the sea port. One of the most dangerous jobs in working in the marble quarries was to be involved in the transport. The marble blocks weighing about 30 tons had to be carefully transported down very steep slopes on a sleigh-type structure that would slide on wooden beams greased with soap. Ropes were used by about 10-12 men to try and control the marble and to resist the pull of gravity. Two other men had the job of transferring the beams from the back to the front and you can imagine how often accidents happened: many men were killed. Oxen were also used and the work was so strenuous for them that often they would die along the way.

Photo by Tony Brancatisano

You can find some pictures or illustrations of this kind of process, like for instance this 1852 illustration of Carrara workers. In Glorantha, the process might be facilitated by magic, from spells that increase strength and stamina, to elemental spirits commanded to help, and more. How much of this happens might vary greatly depending on your own take on the setting, of course, including how “high magic” it is.

If you want to look at more big white blocks of rocks, you can check out this short documentary on Greek marble quarries. It gives a good idea of how big and heavy marble is, and you can sort of extrapolate backwards from how the excavators work to imagine how people did it by hand a long time ago:

There might even be some historical movies featuring old excavation techniques? The Agony and The Ecstasy, an old Charlton Heston movie about Michelangelo, features Renaissance-era marble excavation. You can spot a few scenes in this trailer:

I’m not saying that the Romans would have used the same techniques, or even that this movie is historically accurate (it’s probably not), but I’m saying it gives ideas for how to include this sort of location into a dramatic story! It might be missing a scene with magical lightning blowing up half the quarry, though. You’ll have to imagine that yourself, but it shouldn’t be too hard?

The Alps around Carrera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can visit some of the marble quarries on your own. Of course, multiple tour operators have organized visits too, such as this one. If you’ve been there, please share your pictures!

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 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

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!