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

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

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Errata Out of the Suitcase

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

Greg Stafford’s D&D Copy

Photo from a long gone eBay auction

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

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

A: TL/DR – Yes. 

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

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

Jonstown Compendium

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

Teaser for Treasures of Glorantha Volume 2

© 2023 Akhelas & Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

Jeff’s Notes

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

The Life of Arkat

A short version of Arkat’s life:

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

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

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

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miscellaneous Notes

Community Roundup

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

Glorantha Book Club on Discord

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

Photo by Chaosium © 2023 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

Charms and Amulets for RuneQuest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GoblinCaveTV Looks at the RuneQuest Starter Set

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

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

Reviewing the RPG Writer Workshop Adventures

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

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

Jakaleel Voodoo Doll

Creative Commons picture

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

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

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

More here.

The Colossus of Constantine

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

Creative Commons photo

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

Creative Commons photo

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

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

Roman Sex Toy Found in Northumberland

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

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

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

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

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

More here.

Thank you for reading

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

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

God Learner Sorcery

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

Episode 20: Imther, Edge of the Empire

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Event Registration is Open for ChaosiumCon 2023

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

ChaosiumCon 2023 Auction Catalog

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

Lucia Versprille Join the RuneQuest Team

© 2022 Seersworld

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

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

Japanese Edition of RuneQuest Announced

From Chaosium’s blog:

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

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

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

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

Jeff’s Notes

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

City Gods and Patron Deities

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

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

For those of you with only the basic RuneQuest books:

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

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

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

Anyway:

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

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

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

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

Lay Membership

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

Troll Occupation of the Big Rubble

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

Mythology is Not Set in Stone

What the title says:

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

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

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

Expats in Coastal Cities

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

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

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

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

The Black Sun

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

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

[…]

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

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

Community Roundup

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

The Grognard Files: RuneQuest Remaster

© 2022 Dirk the Dice

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

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

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

Matthew Constantine on the RuneQuest Starter Set

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

There are a few bits I like in this review:

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

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

Also:

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

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

Anyway, go read the whole review!

Some Cool Looking Warriors

Illustration by @clarkandcom

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

Illustration by John Hugues

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

Exploring RuneQuest with Merric

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

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

For instance:

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

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

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

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

A few other notable comments:

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading

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

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

RuneQuest Glorantha games:

HeroQuest Glorantha games:

Main Topic

© 2022 Runesmith Publications & Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

Another main topic is the interaction with the Lunar Empire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits

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

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

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Some More Production Pipeline Updates

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

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

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

Jonstown Compendium

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

A Vale Ablaze

© 2022 Vivien Prigent & Chaosium Inc.

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

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

RPG Writer Workshop Bundle for Fall 2022

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

Page-Turn Preview of the Children of Hykim

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

Jeff’s Notes

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

More on Cult Spirits

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

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

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

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

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

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

One last notable comment from Jeff:

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

Loyalty in Glorantha

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

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

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

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

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

Relevant for those with the Loyalty (Sartar) Passion:

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

Chaos and the Red Goddess

Art by Jakob Rebulka © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

Introducing New Players

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

Community Roundup

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

Tribes of Prax Miniatures Kickstarter

© 2022 Rapier Miniatures & Chaosium Inc.

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

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

Zebra Rider Miniature

Photo by DuffPaint, miniature by Hero Forge

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

RuneQuest For Life

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

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

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

Judges Guild’s Rejection Letter

Photo by Wayne Books

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

Thank you for reading

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

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

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Cults Books Update

Art by Agathe Pitie © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

Spot Anything You Want?

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

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

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

Jeff’s Notes

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

Defunct Sartar Tribes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shamanism and Spirit Cults

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

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

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

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

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

Community Roundup

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

Exploring Glorantha with Rick Meints

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

Peeking at the Escalation! Artwork

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

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

Bud Explains the Uz

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

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

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

More explanations from Bud can be found in this playlist.

Andrew Logan Montgomery on RuneQuest Sorcery

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

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

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

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

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

DMs After Dark Starts Playing Six Seasons in Sartar

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

RuneQuest for D&D Refugees

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

Matthew Constantine Unboxes the RuneQuest Starter Set

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

Latest Jonstown Compendium Reviews from R’lyeh

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

Thank you for reading

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

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

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

God Learner Sorcery

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

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

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Brace for Announcements

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

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

Pretty soon we will even announce them!

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

Art by Katrin Dirim © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

Wild Days at DriveThruRPG

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

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

ORC License Q&A

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

Q: What about Paizo’s OGL initiative? 

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

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

Jonstown Compendium

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

Nick Brooke’s Gloranthan Manifesto

© 2022 Nick Brooke & Chaosium Inc.

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

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

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

Jeff’s Notes

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

Maniria Notes

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

Argan Argar Atlas © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

Overlaying Maps

Speaking of maps:

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

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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

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

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

CHA

Jeff talks about raising CHA in play:

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

Got a cool magical sword? +1 CHA.

Led a successful military expedition? +1 CHA.

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

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

Miscellaneous Notes

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

Elsewhere on Arachne Solara’s Web

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

Lunar Javelins Are Useless

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

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

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

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

Pilum Types © 2022 Benjamin Hollis

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

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

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

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

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

Give Me Back My Legions!

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

Creative Commons image

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

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

Statue of Arminius, Hermannsdenkmal, Creative Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading

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

We kick off this new season of the Glorantha Initiation series with the lovely Bridgett Jeffries, aka “the happiest voice in cosmic horror”!

About Bridgett

You can find Bridgett all around the internet, but in particular:

Show Notes

In this episode we talk about:

  • Playing AD&D, Champions, and Battletech as a covert operation in a basement with middle-aged men
  • Chaosium’s RuneQuest Starter Stream, and the New Hero actual play
  • RuneQuest 3rd edition, its fantasy Earth, and Glorantha as a separate setting
  • Moral ambiguity in Glorantha: nothing is straightforward, everything comes with the “weight” of the lore and the setting
  • Activating Runes or Passions to augment rolls is dope!
  • Having an assistant GM to help with the rules is great for a game like RuneQuest
  • It’s hard to relate to the Bronze Age, compared to other eras… what even is the Bronze Age?
  • The problem with gatekeeping by grognards (old fans), and letting newbies discover and play the game in their own way
  • Tropes vs lore (see also this essay I wrote on the subject)
  • The Rome TV series, Troy, The Ten Commandments, Alexander
  • Tropes of the Orlanthi: violence is always an option, no one can make you do anything, follow chosen leaders
  • Tropes of the Bronze Age:
    • Religion is politics (priest kings and such)
    • Cities with temples on hills, markets full of merchants and mules and slaves, philosophers on soapboxes
  • Tropes of Glorantha:
    • Everybody comes from their own culture, with their own reasons to do things
    • Use the Runes as a guide for how cults fit in the world, use archetypes first and lore later
    • Spirits are everywhere (shamanism, animism)
  • Getting used to magic being everywhere
  • Glorantha is flat, the Underworld is below, rivers used to flow upwards!
  • The Jonstown Compendium is awesome
  • Drawing Earth Runes on your face
  • Using the RuneQuest Starter Set‘s art as reference
  • The trolls are political refugees
  • Exploring Glorantha, your Glorantha 101 YouTube series

Credits

The intro music is “Dancing Tiger” by Damscray. The outro music is “Islam Dream” by Serge Quadrado. Other audio is 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.

Lots of things happened this past week, both in the TTRPGs spaces and over here in the God Learners’ tower hideout, hence the few annotations on Jeff’s posts. But hopefully I made up for it in other parts of the newsletter!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Chaosium and the ORC License

© 2022 Paizo

Have you been off in the woods for a shamanic initiation this past week? Kidnapped by trolls and having trouble paying off your ransom? Or just stuck meditating on those Runes you have -20% penalties on?

Well I’m not going to explain the whole OGL debacle to you now, but the very short version is: Hasbro always wants more money, Wizards of the Coast is moving to royally fucking up the venerable D20 OGL, and the entire TTRPG is on absolute fire. There’s a lot happening, but the biggest move comes from Paizo, who isn’t a stranger to trying to fix things when WotC messes up… whether they succeed or not is another debate entirely but anyway Paizo announced an initiative to release a new better designed and worded (hopefully) gaming license called the Open RPG Creative License (or ORC in short).

Why TTRPG publishers can’t use things like Creative Commons (which didn’t exist back in the og-OGL days) is not clear to me, but let’s hope that the legal firm Paizo is paying for this will make a better license this time.

Chaosium has announced that they are part of the ORC initiative, which is very good news. It’s unclear though what it means for the BRP and QuestWorld SRDs, which were published under their own BRP OGL thingie, which as far as I can tell is this thing (or this one for QuestWorld). Since the BRP license received a rather… let’s say “lukewarm” reaction from the pro and semi-pro game designers I know, it might actually be good if Chaosium moved the BRP SRD to ORC. But I don’t know if it’s feasible, and I don’t know if ORC will help Chaosium better implement the provisions that prevent people from making Call of Cthulhu or RuneQuest retroclones… we’ll see!

In the meantime, read this funny little Twitter thread! (also posted on BRP Central)

Digital Starter Sets and BRP Rulebook Super Cheap This Week

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The previous item was not only big industry news, but also the reason for this item: as many D&D players are swearing off Wizards of the Coast and cancelling their D&D Beyond subscriptions, they’re asking around for other games to play… and this means that anybody with an ounce of marketing skill is discounting their point of entry products! So Chaosium currently has their Call of Cthulhu and RuneQuest starter sets (in PDF) at less than $1 on DriveThruRPG until January 19th.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

In addition to that, the generic BRP Rulebook (affectionately known as the “big gold book” or BGB) is also similarly discounted (more here).

Rick Meints Insults the President of Avalon Hill

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Rick’s latest “Out of the Suitcase” involves unknowingly insulting a game company president, RuneQuest erratas, and an errata by MOB about the erratas (inception!) As always, Rick’s writing is lighthearted and fun to read, and there are many close-up pictures to marvel at.

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.

Fronela and the Syndics Ban

In 1499, Fronela was caught by the “Syndics Ban”. It segmented the entire region into zones of various sizes, each now isolated from the rest of the world.

During the Ban, these communities were like a video game, with elements of Mervyn Peake and Fallout’s Vaults. For about a hundred years, they were isolated and developed completely on their own. Some thrived in isolation, others withered away and died. Many ossified, frozen into place with rites and laws no longer understood, others were radically transformed.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

These communities ranged in size from a couple of hundred families to the Kingdom of Loskalm, with almost 180,000 square kilometers.

And then starting in 1582, the Ban began to lift. The fog just disappeared, and a brand new kaleidoscope of communities and people were there to be discovered. The process took about 40 years, and is still not totally complete. But as a result, big things are afoot in Fronela.

Jeff then takes the example of the Jonating tribe, which was isolated in a small pocket of the ban. He runs us quickly through what a Jonating-based game might look like, based on what happens after the ban lifts.

This is the kind of campaign that could be very well suited to newbies to Glorantha, since it makes adventurers into people who literally don’t know anything about what’s beyond their own lands. It also gives off vibes of old-school sword & sorcery like, say, Forbidden Lands, with its similar premise of recently-lifted curse on the surrounding lands. I actually wonder about using the Forbidden Lands system to run a Fronela game… mmmh.

Anyway, more here.

Diseases in Glorantha

Diseases in Glorantha aren’t caused by viruses and bacteria but by spirits, of course. You can find the stats for disease spirits in the Glorantha Bestiary but this bit doesn’t have mechanics, as far as I can tell:

The disease stays with the victim until the victim recovers, dies, or the spirit is forced out. If the victim dies, sometimes that creates a new disease spirit in addition to the original one.

That’s how you can have pandemics in your games — you know, for escapism.

What I find interesting, as always, is the world-building and storytelling guidance in Jeff’s notes:

Dealing with disease, and the risk of disease outbreaks, is the primary function of many Chalana Arroy temples. Healers treat the ill, fight disease spirits with their Rune magic, summon healing spirits, and the like. That’s where I suspect most of those Rune points get spent – not on Resurrection or Heal Body, but on Cure All Disease, Summon Healing Spirit, and Restore Health, and is why Healing Trance is more popular than Heal Body. The cult is big enough and numerous enough that diseases can be kept mostly under control, but it still might be the biggest killer in Glorantha (a point of pride to the Death goddess Mallia no doubt).

Of course, Mallia is a Chaos goddess of disease that is often worshipped by Broos. Her initiates are frequent antagonists in Gloranthan adventures because they like to poison herds and wells and rivers and such. This is always a good premise for a threat to your adventurers’ community!

Glorantha’s World

Jeff has started tweeting for some reason (“doing more on social media” isn’t your usual new year resolution, is it?) but hey, this gives us a glimpse of another Prosopaedia or Cults book (not sure) illustration. Behold the world of Glorantha all laid out for you to gaze at!

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

This fantastic image is of course by Katrin Dirim. Previous overall views of Glorantha included Bernard Bittler’s and, err, I’m not sure who did that second one (the Guide to Glorantha doesn’t provide detailed art credits):

Edit: the second illustration is from Eric Vanel (thanks to 7Tigers for the info, who also points that it’s available as swag too!)

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Edit 2: Brian Duguid points out that the original version of the Gloranthan cosmos diagram can be found here, “as drawn by Mike Dawson, from”drawn by Mike Dawson from an original by Greg Stafford”… thanks Brian!

On Prince of Sartar

The BRP Central thread on Argrath and the metaplot keeps going (because of course), but here’s a nice tidbit from Jeff on his version of Argrath from the Prince of Sartar webcomic:

I wrote the comic. It is just one take on the character, and never even got far enough to explore the character past the Cradle scenario. The purpose of the comic was more about Kalin and I playing around with ideas and visuals, that later informed what became RQG. The idea was never that the comic was to become the definitive treatment of the characters.

At the time I was playing around with the idea that the Red Goddess was behind the Hero Wars, seeking a way out of the prison that she had put herself in. Argrath, her self-proclaimed Destroyer, would aid her in her Liberation and the rise of the White Moon. 

If I were to do it again, I would likely present it quite differently. 

But since people are putting labels on characters based on the comic, here’s my take. Argrath’s not a sociopath, he’s a shaman. Same with Harrek and Jar-eel. They all see into the Otherworld, into the realm of gods and spirits, and all see their paths through the mundane world accordingly. 

© 2022 Jeff Richard & Kalin Kadiev

As always, people get very… ahem… emotional about Argrath, Lunars, and the Hero Wars metaplot. So unsurprisingly, the topic ended up locked. Go read the Prince of Sartar webcomic instead!

Gloranthan Decimal Systems

Do you want to do Gloranthan math? Of course you do — that’s how you properly roleplay a Lhankor Mhy sage, right? Here’s a quick bit of info for you:

Pelorian languages are all strongly base 10. 

Theyalan languages give a number for each of the days of Sacred Time, so 1-14. 15 gets represented as 1-1, 28 as 1-14, and so on until we get to 210 which gets a new signifier.

Now drive your gamemaster and fellow players crazy by expressing all numbers in base 14!

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Be a good Malkioni: how the Malkioni people of the west need to be sure about how to follow the teachings of Malkion who, because he was a mortal, cannot just be magically reached for comments via your worship rituals. Jeff breaks down how the main Malkioni philosophies emerged, and mentions what Malkioni heroquesting might look like. Lots of Muslim references, which sort of hints at how Chaosium might develop the west in the future.
  • More on Malkionism: more notes about what it is and what it does.
  • More on New Hrestolism: a closer look at Loskalm’s New Hrestolism specifically, and how people pass through the various castes. Once you’ve accomplished that, you’re a Man-of-All and you can read this note about what your “code” might be like.
  • Kralorelan exarchs: a look at the priest-rulers who gather massive amounts of magic through the Imperial cult of Kralorela, and how this system survived through the ages. Plus: the mystery of Godunya, Dragonewts, draconic magic, and more. Lots of references that would warrant annotations, but I ran out of my time allotted to the newsletter… and I don’t know much about Kralorela to being with anyway.
  • More draconic stuff on Kralolera is here, too.
  • About Maniria: a few high level notes on Maniria.
  • Magic as a fourth dimension: pretty much that. The God Learners trying to define the monomyth is just scientific research into the nature of the universe, folks. We’re not that different from NASA. Plus, a cool quote: “Remember that the God Time is not the past – it is also the now. It is the endless.
  • Magic systems (plus sorcery): some notes on the various magic systems of Glorantha and RuneQuest, with some occasional designer notes, especially for the old bearded guys in the audience who miss the RQ3 sorcery rules (I’m not judging, but hey, admit it, you’re a guy, you’re at least middle aged, and you have a beard, right?)
  • Subcult of Orlanth’s Four Magic Weapons: how to add some flavour to your Orlanth Adventurous character!
  • Who is Ginna Jar? Some notes on the secret member of the Lightbringers.

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.

SpeedRune, a Rules-Light Bronze Age Fantasy Game

RPG writer Aaron King started reading some RuneQuest last autumn and found a lot that they like in there! But I suspect that Aaron is far from alone bouncing off the crunchy mechanics of RuneQuest even though they like many of the intended goals of the system, and/or the setting:

Things I really liked about it:
– cults & rune magic
– psychedelic heroquests! (wanted more of them honestly)
– the whole setting, really
– seasonal downtime play that includes the community – the art

© 2022 Aaron King

So Aaron went and made a RuneQuest-inspired rules-light bronze age fantasy game called SpeedRune. It’s available on itch.io with a “name your own price” price tag. The pamphlet sized PDF has 4 pages for the player, and 2 pages for the gamemaster. The other 20 or so pages include seasonal adventuring prompts, character and community sheets, and a couple of appendices.

If you’re familiar with the deluge of rule-light OSR games of the past few years, you’ll see how SpeedRune is basically hailing from that heritage. And of course, if you’re familiar with RuneQuest Glorantha, you’ll see that SpeedRune is a heavily streamlined and simplified version of it too. I can say SpeedRune is one of the very few D100 rules-light OSR games I’ve seen.

Photo by @maxwellander

Aaron King has more games on their itch.io page, and is a host of the RPG bookclub podcast RTFM.

See also: Coeur de Runes, a French rules-light game that inherits the DNA of HeroQuest rather than of RuneQuest.

Erinor the Bell-Walker

Not sure what this is for, but hey it’s a cool looking Gloranthan character, by @Mubinnas_Fair on Twitter.

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.

Amazing Discovery of Ice Age Proto-Writing

The first really cool archaeological breakthrough of the year came really early! In this paper published on January 5, 2023, a few “independent researchers” teamed up with archaeology academics to reveal what they think is the earliest form of writing known to man (called here “proto-writing” because it’s not really a full writing system either…)

Image by Bennet Bacon et al., Cambridge University Press

If you look at the cave paintings above (from famous caves such as Lascaux and La Pasiega), you’ll notice dots or smudges or lines. These were, until recently, not really identified. Archaeologists knew that they must have some meaning, some sort of information about each animal, but they didn’t know what exactly.

But Bennett Bacon, a furniture conservator in London, had an idea. He started researching it on his own, and then reached out to professionals with his theory. It was well received, with encouragements and help for continuing the research which eventually involved checking that theory against the hundreds of known animal cave paintings…

Ok, I’ll spoil the ending. There are two major types of symbols: raw numbers (dots or lines), and numbers with a sort of “Y” shaped symbol specified somewhere in them. These writing indicate when is the mating and birthing season of each animal — an information that is pretty useful when you consider the “hunter” part of “hunter/gatherer society”. This simple calendar system counts the number of Lunar months starting from the end of winter, when rivers unfreeze and snow melts.

If you want to see lots of fancy diagrams and correlation factors, check out the paper. Otherwise, there’s more here, here, and here. This recent episode of the Ancients podcast is also great, as the host interviews Paul Pettitt, one of the authors of the paper.

Why is Lunar Concrete so Durable?

The Lunars… errr sorry, the Romans have built extremely durable structures that still stand to this day, from aqueducts to ports to big domes and more. This new paper from the Science Advances journal takes a closer look at the composition of Roman concrete to figure out why its durability is so good.

Stephen Knowles Photography/Getty

From the little that I understand, the Romans were previously thought to have built their stuff using some straightforward limestone, clay, and/or sand mortar mixed with volcanic ash (generally obtained from the Bay of Naples, and shipped all around the empire for construction needs). The small millimetre-scale white blobs visible in Roman concrete was thought to be imperfections.

But now it looks like these little buggers are actually the reason these big Roman buildings are still standing. The white blobs, called “lime casts”, might be made of “quicklime” (aka Calcium Oxide), which is what you get when you heat lime up a whole bunch (at least 825°C). Watch out, once it cools down, you get something very caustic

How does that help, though? Well that’s the really cool awesome bit. See, these lime casts are the weakest points in the concrete, which means they’re most likely to fracture. But because of their material nature, they can also recrystallize into, basically, limestone concrete when rain water inevitably trickles down to it. So fractures are “guided” through points in the structure that are self-healing!

Robert Harding Picture Library

Anyway, as cool as it is, what does that tell us about Glorantha? Well, my takeaways are:

  1. Lunar architects need very high heat to hot-mix their construction materials, which means the probable presence of Lodril initiates in their production pipeline. Of course, you don’t need magic to heat things up (the Romans did it no problem thank you very much), but hey it doesn’t hurt to use a widespread god to help, and we know that Gloranthan world-building can’t help equating the two. This might also imply some specialized Lodril worshippers, with maybe some special sub-cult magic.
  2. Logistically speaking, it’s possible that some quicklime is stored somewhere, and transported to nearby or distant construction sites. Might some rebels steal it and use it for chemical warfare? Is the creation of quicklime a Lunar secret or is it widespread?
  3. If we look at including volcanic ash to Lunar construction, the most obvious places to get it from are the Lunar Heartlands. Darjiin and Doblian have old (and sometimes sacred) volcanoes, which is sort of why Lodril is one of the traditional main gods in Peloria. But maybe Lunars in Sartar got theirs from the Indigo Mountains (in the Far Place, up north) or Caladraland (in the Holy Country, down south). Either way, these caravans might need the PCs to guard, to ambush, or to get found after getting lost.

The paper on Roman hot-mixing is here. More here and here.

Beautiful Broo

Do Broos have fashion influencers on TikTok? Of course they do, since TikTok and influencers in general are, like, by definition Chaotic and actively trying to destroy the fabric of reality. Anyway, here are some fashion goals for your Broos:

Image courtesy of Jo & Cris from Bonhomie Games in the UK.

Thank you for reading

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

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

This week has been dominated by the OGL-apocalypse and the massive amounts of people asking for game recommendations beyond D&D and 5e games. Of course, all the BRP fans came out of the woods and supported their favourite Chaosium games including RuneQuest. My social media and RSS filters were absolutely filled with all these replies, which is cool, but also possibly drowned any cool Glorantha-related stuff that happened this week. So if I missed something cool, ping me!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Truly Epic Campaigns

Jeff talks to James about running multi-year campaigns of RuneQuest. Topics include the “Taming of DragonPass” campaign which used the “PenDragon Pass” rules hack (more here and here about this), the scalability of BRP-based systems, going beyond published material, and lots of other advice!

New Gamemaster Month is Back

New Gamemaster Month is back! This is a collection of resources to help people GM their first game as easily as possible. It has material and advice for a bunch of excellent games: Numenera, Unknown Armies, Trail of Cthulhu, Monster of the Week, Delta Green, and, of course RuneQuest.

The first step is to get a copy of the Starter Set, and then you just sit back and skim through it while waiting for the step-by-step instructions that will be published every week until the end of January. That will be easier than Befuddling a trollkin!

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!

Crimson King

Nick Brooke’s latest Lunar extravaganza is out! Yay!

A game of intrigue and conspiracy in the highest echelons of the Lunar Empire! Players take on the roles of the heroes and rulers of this Gloranthan superpower, confronted by treachery and betrayal on all sides.

For the occasion, both volumes of Life of Monsoon (The Characters and The Freeform) are on sale with a discount, so you can grab all of that in one fell swoop.

In Search of Baroshi

© 2022 Marc Robertson & Chaosium Inc.

Help a spirit by rescuing the ancient godling Baroshi in this adventure for RuneQuest suitable for a couple of sessions. The pack also includes some VTT resources.

Zenith Counters Adventure Pack #4: Balastor’s Barracks

© 2022 Dario Corallo & Chaosium Inc.

Play some old school adventure in a new school style! The classic RQ2 Big Rubble dungeon crawl “Balastor’s Barracks” (available here in PDF/POD) now has some VTT maps and tokens, courtesy of Dario Corallo.

Zenith Counters Troll Bundle

© 2022 Dario Corallo & Chaosium Inc.

Dario Corallo also has a bundle for all his troll-related Zenith Counters. If you plan on meeting trolls in a VTT, Dario’s got you covered.

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.

Top of the World

The “Top of the World” is another Gloranthan landmark that has completely escaped me until now:

In Dragon Pass, Kero Fin is the mother of Orlanth, but for much of Peloria, Fronela, and Ralios, Orlanth resides atop Top of the World. This high peak is some 10,000 meters high, and is the Gloranthan Mount Everest.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

This mountain is that big white blob in the centre of the above map. It’s located at the intersection of Ralios in the south (and specifically Telmoria, for some added fun), Fronela in the north, and the western Lunar provinces in the east. It’s listed under the write-up for Talastar in the Guide. Talastar in general is a rocky and hilly area of sheep herding Orlanthi. Brolia, the closest region to Top of the World, is even rockier and harsher, to the point that the tribes there don’t even farm.

All these Orlanthi tribes technically live under the rule of the Lunar Empire, but neither party seems to be very into it. The Lunars just wanted to mark this area on the map as “living under the Lunar Way”, and the local Orlanthi just wanted to do whatever was easiest to get the Lunar missionaries to go the fuck away. Everybody smiled, the Lunar distributed some white robes to the tribal representatives, the tribal representatives replied with some bullshit, and all went home. This was in 1590, and is remembered (and I kid you not) as “White Shirt Day” to the locals.

Top of the World is sacred to the Orlanthi of Peloria, Fronela, and Ralios, and has many temples and shrines on its slopes. Great Orlanthi magicians are known to fly over the Rockwoods between Top of the World and its mate, the Great Queen.

A fun fact is that, again according to the guide, these holy places let you “get in touch” with the Storm God freely. From far away it might only happen on High Holy Days, but as you get closer, you can contact Orlanth on any Windsday. In terms of RuneQuest mechanics I figure that maybe you can do some worship without Sanctifying the ground, and maybe you get discount on some Divination or something.

Top of the World is often associated with the Spike, and among Orlanth’s titles here are “Son of the Spike” and “Breath of the Spike”. From atop this peak, Orlanth centered himself, gathered his vital air but did not release it, building up tremendous energy. When he is ready, Great Orlanth discharges his breath as a terrible bolt. Dedicated Orlanthi can learn his magic at his temple at Tarvathlinpor (“Place of the High Breath) at the shoulder of Top of the World.

Mount Everest, Creative Commons image

Now for many lowland Pelorians, Top of the World – easily seen in Doblian, Sylila, and the West Reaches – is a home of violent and dangerous storm demons. The locals there are backwards bandits, who herd sheep in great poverty. But they are known for having powerful magicians who live on the slopes of the peak.

Religion in Safelster

Safelster is one of those super cool regions of Glorantha that would benefit from having a campaign set there… well, frankly, most regions of Glorantha are super cool and would benefit from having a campaign set there but I digress. Safelster is the area in southern Ralios centered around Lake Felster.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

It’s highly populated, has fertile lands, is dotted with city states engaged in various political schemes against each other, and has a whole bunch of diverse wizards and priests from all manners of philosophies and cults:

About 10% of the population still follows the “Old Gods“. This is a hodge-podge of shamanic cults, spirit worship, ancestor worship, and the like. These cults have had syncretism with the Theyalan and Malkioni religions and barely resemble their original forms.

Fun fact: the term “Theyalan” is mentioned repeatedly in the RuneQuest rulebook (almost always in the context of languages and writing), but never defined. This is the kind of editorial problem that makes it difficult to get into Glorantha, and something that was raised by Baz a few times in his excellent RuneQuest Year Zero short podcast series about discovering the RuneQuest Starter Set.

Anyway, you can almost always substitute “Theyalan” with “Orlanthi”. The term was originally coined by the God Learners to talk about the people who, shortly after the Dawn, spread the worship of the Lightbringers.

About 27% follow the Lightbringers and Earth religions of the Theyalans. These have also incorporated local deities and spirits, and have added many heroes, most recently Siglolf Cloud-Crusher, a subcult of Orlanth Thunderous.

Siglolf Cloud-Crusher comes from Lankst, a fertile and well populated Orlanthi kingdom located north of Lake Felster (a bit outside the map featured above). Garundyer of the Seven Storms, a contemporary Lankstite Orlanthi hero, is responsible for “bringing back” Siglolf with his heroquesting — in fact, Garundyer is described in the guide as “currently the most powerful Orlanthi Heroquester in Glorantha” (for a “current” based a few years before RuneQuest Glorantha’s 1625).

Siglolf gives you the magic to hurl rocks down from rain clouds. Garundyer has a whole bunch of other cool, powerful, and sometimes a bit silly battle magic, too — you can find all about it in the Guide.

About 20% follow Rokari Malkionism. The zzaburi look to Leplain for support and guidance.

Leplain is a large city west of Lake Felster (look just below that large marsh area on the map above). It’s technically in Seshnela, so if you’re following at home, you need to switch over to volume 2 of the Guide to find it. The city is nicknamed “The City of Wizards” and that’s where the Watcher Supreme, chief sorcerer of the Rokari, and most of the main Rokari schools and libraries are.

About 5% follow other “orthodox” Malkioni sects such as the Boristi, Galvosti, and Old Hrestoli.

These orthodox sects are variants of Malkioni religion that date back a long time and differ from other Malkioni philosophies in small ways:

  • The Boristi were founded during the Gbaji Wars, so they are all about freely Tapping Chaotic creatures (the Tap technique being the rough collection of sorcery spells that leech/absorb/steal something from something else… see the RuneQuest rulebook). In contrast, most Malkioni think that Tapping is bad and either avoid it or flat out ban it. The RuneQuest rulebook chapter on sorcery sadly doesn’t mention this at all, so careful about ending up with a Lhankor Mhy adventurer who upsets western sorcerers.
  • While the Boristi’s Tapping comes from good intentions (you know, the thing that paves the road to hell… open the Guide and look up why the Boristi are called “squids”), the Gavosti are a bunch of assholes: they happily Tap any non-Malkioni people. They almost got wiped out by understandably-upset barbarians at the end of the Second Age, but they still persist.
  • I’m not sure what “Old Hrestoli” are. Generally speaking, as I understand it, the Hrestoli are those who believe in mobility between the traditional Malkioni castes (worker, soldier, noble, wizard), with a select elite going through all castes to become “Men of All” (a sort of “knight” status). I suppose that the Old Hrestoli stick to the old version of that, without any of the new age progressive views of the New Hrestolism? I don’t know…

About 33% follow what is commonly called one of the Stygian Heresies. This includes the Chariot of Lightning sect, which some 8% of the total population follows.

We already looked a bit at the Stygian Heresies here and more specifically here, but Jeff gives some welcome description too:

The Stygian Heresies are esoteric syncretic cults that claim origin in the early Second Age, and incorporate elements of Malkionism, Lightbringers, and Troll religion. They have distinct and secretive theologies. First and foremost they all claim to be the inheritors of esoteric knowledge derived from the personal spiritual experience of Arkat, that is above any orthodox teaching, tradition, or authority derived from Malkion.

Secondly, they all identify Gbaji the Deceiver as the great moral evil of the world. Arkat’s struggle with Gbaji is the source of his spiritual authority (which all agree is of a superior authority to Malkion or others).

Beyond that, the sects are all over the map. Some sects openly display themselves. However, most hide and pretend to be orthodox Malkioni (especially Rokari) or are initiates of other local cults. As one hidden Archon is cited – “if any religion is stronger than you, follow it, but keep the secret truth in your hearts.” Many sects permit or even demand that members deny their membership to outsiders – such dissimulation was required for the survival of the sect during periods of persecution and have been maintained. Their beliefs are concealed from outsiders, and members are encouraged to be lay members of other cults Many sects forbid marriage outside the sect.

The Chariot of Lightning sect was mentioned earlier so it’s worth looking at it too. It is a fast growing cult located mostly around Oktorion, the area north-northwest of Lake Felster around the Upper Tannier River (see the map above). That’s also where the aforementioned Siglolf cult is very popular. It believes that “Orlanth is the Supreme Deity, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer, and concealer of all that is, and that other deities are important also and deserve worship for their aid and protection.” It sounds like some weird-ass Orlanthi sorcerers thing?

As you might imagine, it’s not very popular among the Malkioni who think that the Invisible God is the Supreme Deity, and that the gods and spirits of other religions are not worthy or worship — only worthy of being used for magic points. But hey, the Chariot of Lightning has the support of Lankst and Garundyer, which means that, so far, anybody who didn’t agree has been utterly crushed by armies powered by crazy storm magic. Better get on their good side…

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Anyway, these annotation have gone long enough. Jeff has a few more thoughts on Safelster worth reading, and a short extra bit on playing Hrestoli and Zzaburi adventurers.

Malkioni Heresies

More on the Stygian Heresies and other distorted forms of Malkionism:

Most Malkioni are far more concerned about heretical sects of Malkionism than about non-Malkioni subjects. Arkatism or “the Stygian Heresy” is considered one of the most heretical outgrowths of Malkionism.

So for example, when the Seshnegi conquered Safelster, the Orlanthi, Aldyrami, followers of the Old Gods, etc., were likely left alone. Orlanthi warriors could become horali or dronari and keep their cults, Issaries cultists could even claim descent from Talar and become low-ranking talars. These people had to declare loyalty to the King (later Emperor), temples had to pay a special tax, and so on, but were basically allowed to practice their traditional rites unmolested.

Even though the plebe worship their gods (usually Orlanthi), I imagine that once they’ve been conquered they are at least forced to become lay members of the Invisible God or something. The Malkioni wizards do need lots of magic points after all.

The conquest of Sefelster (and Ralios in general) by the Seshnegi sort of happened twice. Once was in the mid 700s when the God Learners broke up Ralios and stole the Arkati secrets… you might say that’s arguably more of a Jrusteli invasion than a Seshnegi one, but the God Learners technically came from Seshnela originally, and reconquered it before conquering Ralios, soooo… plus, they put Seshnegi titles on the new Ralios Overlords. Anyway, that went sideways when the God Learners were destroyed, but the Seshnegi came back in force in the mid 1400s when King Ulianus III (re)conquered half of Ralios.

The same tolerance did not apply to wayward Malkioni – especially wayward zzaburi. Arkatism was viewed as a heresy, and followers were accused of consorting with Darkness demons and worse.

[…]

Of course, in the Third Age Malkionism has largely been in retreat, and few Malkioni in Genertela have many non-Malkioni subjects.

That being said, Malkioni rulers are known to destroy temples that are perceived as being overly powerful, rebellious, or threats to them.

More here.

Ralios Orlanthi

More on Ralios! Remember that the aforementioned Top of the World, arguably the most sacred Orlanthi mountain, is nearby… so:

The Holy Country has about 357k Orlanth initiates (and I mean initiate of Orlanth, not Orlanthi culture). Peloria has 225k and Dragon Pass has just under 100k.

But Ralios has some 560k Orlanth initiates!

In Ralios, the cult is centered on Top of the World, and was likely the God Learners primary source of information about Orlanth in the Monomyth.

Historically the Orlanthi of Ralios supported Arkat against Gbaji, and opposed the EWF in the Second Age, with Alokaring Dragonbreaker hailing from the region (he’s famous not only for kicking the EWF’s ass, but also for founding the Orlanth Rex cult, which defines Orlanthi culture, law, and politics in Dragon Pass, among other places.

There are werewolves, barbarian dragonewts, elves, dwarves, and trolls a plenty in Orlanthi Ralios, as well as a growing danger from Dorastor. But the Orlanth cult here is not defined by conflict about the Lunar Empire – the Red Goddess is an evil from beyond the Rockwoods, but is an abstract evil. Ballid, Nida, Guhan, and Argin Terror are more obvious threats is Vesmonstran, and Halikiv and Dorastor are more obvious threats in East Ralios.

Vesmonstran is the broader region of the Upper Tanier River in northern Ralios. It’s composed of Oktorion and Lankst (that should ring a bell), which you can spot respectively in the previous Safelster map and the further up above Top of the World map.

Let’s look up what those threats are:

  • Ballid is the big Aldryami forest west of Lankst. It used to be super super big at the Dawn (back when elf forests covered a large portion of Genertela), but now it’s only a small fraction of what it was… even if there are more than 300,000 elves in there. Of course, they’re working on great reforestation projects, which are generally bad news for non-elves.
  • The Nidan Mountains are super important to dwarfs — that’s from where the Decamony rules over all Mostali of the continent, and where dwarfs build muskets and pistols. They also control High Llama Pass, the best way to cross the mountains between Fronela and Ralios. Count another 300,000 dwarfs here. I’m not convinced that they are an active threat (I don’t see any particular reason for them to bother the Ralios Orlanthi), but who knows what sort of devious World Machine plans they have in motion.
  • Guhan is a whole different bag of trouble. Look for it at the top left the above Safelster map, around the three peaks of the Uzgor Mountains. Not only is it a stronghold of the trolls, it’s a stronghold of Arkati trolls (Arkat told them to come here). That’s “Mr. bad ass wizard trolls” for you. If you’ve heard of “The Swarm” (a big caravan of trolls and giant arthropods that crossed Dragon Pass in 1623 on their way to Dagori Inkarth), well, it came from here. Guhan has about 250,000 trolls (most of which would be trollkin of course). Expect regular troll raids, because these trolls don’t give a fuck.
  • Halikiv is another troll stronghold. It has a Castle of Lead (where Kyger Litor resides) just like in Dagori Inkarth, and they have a big population of Zorak Zorani berserkers. However, it’s smaller than Guhan (120,000 trolls).
  • Dorastor is of course the Chaos winter wonderland that’s on the other side of the mountains to the east. Don’t go there. Just don’t.

So if you want to set your RQ campaign in an Orlanthi land, without a Lunar Empire, without Prince Argrath and his Sartar Magical Union, look at places like Lankst or the East Wilds. You can have trolls, dwarves, elves, dragonewts, and the like, without that story going on.

You can introduce the Chariot of Lightning sect as a new charismatic sect that gives sorcery to Orlanthi. Maybe it has the feel of Thulsa Doom/Jim Jones, or maybe it is like the prophet Mani or the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (guru to the Beatles and the Beach Boys).

To help you choose, Jeff splits the Orlanthi of Ralios in three groups: the hillbillies of the East Wilds who are nonetheless most similar to the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass, the religious-military alliance of Vesmonstran if you want less sheep herding and more battles, and the savvy, diverse, and Malkioni-tinted Orlanthi of Safelster. More here.

Storm Pantheon Genealogy

Here’s another mythology sneak peek! Nothing new or surprising, just cool stuff.

Orlanth is the grandson of Earth and Sky, his siblings are the winds, a bull, a cat, violence, evil, the mountain snow, and Death. He married the Green Lady, and his offspring include the Plow Man, Spring, the sheep god, a bear god, and a king. Orlanth turned himself into a woman to fight a foe no man could kill, slew a devouring dragon to bring forth rain, and killed his cousin Sun as a final in a series of contests.

Now that’s some proper mythology!

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Issaries and Etyries in Central Genertela

Jeff talks about the differences and commonalities between the Issaries and Etyries cults. If you only have the RuneQuest rulebook, you know Etyries as one of the Seven Mothers… she’s the Lunar merchant deity, and often considered a daughter of Issaries.

Nothing very surprising in this note (both cults collaborate for trade’s sake, but are also competitors, so overall neutral to each other, and neutral in general), but I found this bit interesting:

Etyries has the special Rune spells of Exchange Spells, Path Watch, and Reflection. She cannot create Neutral Ground like Issaries.

Etyries is the Lunar goddess of traders, not of marketplaces or neutral grounds for trade. Her cultists are not neutral—they are agents of the Lunar Empire, buying and selling goods on behalf of their rulers, nobles, financiers, or temples.

This means that there’s still value in having Issaries priests around, even in the Lunar Empire, in order to create neutral grounds through magic. Furthermore:

It is not out of the ordinary for an Issaries caravan to hire on an Etyries initiate when traveling through the Lunar Provinces, just as any sensible Etyries caravan hires on an Issaries initiate when traveling through Sartar or the Holy Country.

Another interesting bit is how Issaries (and his initiates) is only neutral until he gets a formal Lightbringers Summons:

I actually think this is part of the Lightbringers power. They are not kin or a tribe. They are not a warlord and his companions. They are a group of powers that are united to end the Greater Darkness and restore the world. Of them, only Orlanth is an elemental deity. We get Truth and Stasis, Illusion and Disorder, Life, Harmony and Motion, the Man Rune, and Magic and Spirit. The only thing we are missing is Death – but that is perhaps hidden in Air, and is Orlanth’s great threat. But as they seek to restore the world, perhaps Death must be sheathed.

If we check these Runic associations of the Lightbringers, we get Orlanth (Air), Lhankor Mhy (Truth and Stasis), Eurmal (Illusion and Disorder), Chalana Arroy (Life and Harmony), Issaries (Movement), Flesh Man (Man), and Ginna Jar (which leaves us Magic and Spirit). Interestingly enough, we actually get Movement three times (which we could characterize as Orlanth’s recklessness, Eurmal’s adaptability, and Issaries’ path finding), and Harmony twice (let’s say: Issaries’ bargaining and Chalana Arroy’s peace-seeking). That’s maybe appropriate for a group of people who need to travel far and fast to make peace with the Sun and repair the cosmos…

Read more if you want to know how Argan Argar and Lorkanos fit in these arrangements.

Lhankor Mhy in Central Genertela

The cult of Lhankor Mhy is split in two:

There are roughly 100,000 initiates of the Knowing God in Central Genertela. This includes those that call the god Lhankor Mhy (probably about 60%), and those that call him Buserian (maybe 40%). That’s a linguistic-organizational distinction, and not two separate gods.

Buserian is the Dara Happan god of writers, scribes, and astrologers for the Sun pantheon… but both cults are aware that they effectively worship the same deity. They have different centres of interest (the Dara Happans are a lot more interested in celestial movements), but also overlapping or complementing ones. This means that, just as the ancient Greek philosophers sometimes travelled far and wide to check out some landmark, consult some foreign library, or meet some esteemed writer, so do the Gloranthan philosophers:

So remember, your sage character is part of a much wider world of scholars and literacy. You might be advising some tribal ring in the hill country of Sartar, but you were trained by a master in Boldhome or Jonstown who corresponded with scribes in Nochet, Furthest, and beyond. Perhaps you entertained yourself with a translation of the Fortunate Succession or Hepherones?

There’s a lot more advice and examples in the original note, so check it out.

Note that, of course, the Lunar Empire has the Irripi Ontor cult, but that’s a different deity.

Chalana Arroy in Central Genertela

Similar to the previous note, but with Chalana Arroy:

If we look at Chalana Arroy in Central Genertela, we find that it is actually a surprisingly big cult – some 140,000 members in total. The cult is most densely numbered in Esrolia, but the Lunar Heartlands is the other major center for the Goddess of Mercy.

Pretty much everybody likes Chalana Arroy except creatures of Chaos.

Chalana Arroy is strictly neutral, showing favoritism for none. She and her followers are pacifists, vegetarians, and studiously non-political. […]

If [Chalana Arroy healers] start showing favoritism, you do run the risk of your Goddess sending out the spirit of reprisal.

I think that’s very tricky to quantify. Working on a purely first-come-first-serve basis is not scalable at all given the magic point economy and the practicalities of running a hospital with a finite number of beds. So of course while Chalana Arroy healers strive towards no favouritism, there’s a lot of blurred lines to walk around. And they’re only human, with all their flaws and biases. In my opinion, this is the kind of shit that gives you the Zero’th Law of Robotics or the madness of Sharon Apple. That’s sort of the themes I played around in one of my short stories here. Illumination gets you around spirits of reprisal anyway, and it’s not that uncommon if you play in the Lunar Empire.

This interesting interplay between Chalana Arroy and Lhankor Mhy is a good source of ideas for adventures or for justifying the presence of a PC:

Her temples are another important source of literacy, and no doubt there are many books and texts on herbs, medicine, anatomy, etc. Her temples form a network of hospitals and healers, charities caring for the sick, wounded, and destitute. […]

If we look at the interplay between Chalana Arroy and Lhankor Mhy, we see that the initiates of Chalana Arroy are taught writing and alchemy in the temples of the Knowing God.

And here’s an interesting note about playing a Chalana Arroy initiate — I hadn’t thought of Prince Ezran in that light:

CA often gets played as an often-frustrated healer in a party of warriors. My suggestion is to turn that around. She’s a radical alternative voice, seeking healing rather than combat. Heal the foe, offer them mercy, and throw yourself on their mercy rather than resort to violence.

A nice example of this is Prince/King Ezran from the Netflix series The Dragon Prince (which I watched with my kids).

I also watched The Dragon Prince with my kids and it was great! You can even get the roleplaying game now (powered by Cortex Prime). The book looks great, but it sadly looks a bit too crunchy for kids and newbies… I haven’t actually tried playing it yet though, so maybe that’s a false first impression (comments welcome if you’ve played it!)

Zzaburi in Western Genertela

And one last bunch of people who interact with the Lhankor Mhy sages: the sorcerers in the west:

There are somewhere around 120,000 zzaburi in Seshnela and Ralios. Now of them, about 79,000 adhere to the Rokari school.

[…]

Now many of these zzaburi are in contact with their Knowing God counterparts, at least in Safelster. However, their scripts is Western, a very different script from Theyalan. Nonetheless, I suspect that in Safelster we have transmission of lore between the Theyalans and the Malkioni, back and forth. Sometimes these two groups get along, sometimes I suspect they have violent riots against each other.

Remember there are some 45,000 initiates of Lhankor Mhy in Ralios. So we have this band of 120,000 zzaburi from Seshnela to Safelster, that intersects with a belt of 45,000 sages.

This of course is part of the dynamic that is why Lhankor Mhy has access to sorcery.

And one interesting bit of game design, regarding the notion that some areas or temples of Lhankor Mhy would have a restriction on teaching sorcery:

The main reason to restrict sorcery from a particular temple is so that you as a GM have the ability to say you don’t want to deal with sorcery rules or you would rather not have that player deal with them.

There’s a bit more here if you want a bit of geekery about the Fourth Age and the illiteracy era.

Key Figures of the Hero Wars

A quick recap of who’s who in the Gloranthan metaplot… nothing surprising here, but some good reminders are in order:

As a writer, these characters are as baked into the setting as is the Red Moon, Orlanth, or the Lunar Empire. You can decide to dump any or all of them, after all YGWV, but they are present in everything Chaosium publishes, even if a book doesn’t mention them.

Your player-characters can have stories that weave around these characters, directly interact with them, ignore them, supplement them, or even replace them (if you want to have one of your player-characters become the next Red Emperor, go for it, although that’s unlikely ever to be a path in published products). Present these characters as moral exemplars, villains, whatever – I personally view all of them as heroes, in the classical sense. They straddle the world of men and gods, which usually means they do great AND terrible things.

This is a hard thing for many people to wrap their head around. The Red Emperor, Argrath, Harrek, Jar-eel, etc., they are villains and saviours depending on whose story is being told. But in every tale they inspire awe (even if it dreadful).

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.

Happy new year everybody! Don’t forget to reset your calendars and mark the upcoming holy days of your cults… assuming you need to know. Some of you just replenish all your Rune points between adventures, no questions asked. That works too. Hopefully you’re all replenished after the Sacred Time celebrations, ready to go back to working for your temples and paying your tithes.

God Learner Sorcery

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

Episode 19: Jackals and Ancient Worldbuilding

Episode 19 of our podcast welcomes Evan and JM from “Exploring Glorantha”! We discuss JM’s bronze age fantasy game “Jackals”, its worldbuilding, campaign framework, system, and what we can learn and apply to Glorantha gaming!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Barntar by Loic Muzy

Loic thinks back on his 2022 artistic journey (loosely translated):

In 2022 I turned with hope towards the past to recover my passion for art, and I found everything I had run away from. I am definitely embarking on some artistic changes for 2023 in order to be motivated for years to come!

He also shared his version of Barntar, for the upcoming cults book!

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Another Quick Preview of the RuneQuest Video Game

You might remember that we saw a sneak peek at Black Shamrock’s RuneQuest video game a couple weeks ago. Now RTE News has posted a new video that shows a few more things compared to their previous one. There isn’t really much, but there’s enough to confirm a suspicion I had: the game is using the Unreal Engine! Maybe I should offer my help…

More here.

Jonstown Compendium

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

Edge of the Empire

© 2022 Runesmith Publications & Chaosium Inc.

No, this isn’t a hack of the FFG Star Wars game for Glorantha: it’s the long awaited book on Imther by Harald Smith!

The Kingdom of Imther is a small, seemingly bucolic, mountainous province at the edge of the mighty Lunar Empire.  It is home to herders, hunters, and cheesemakers whose king maintained a trade relationship with the mysterious dwarfs.  But… the king is dead, the dwarfs have closed their brass gates, clans have rebelled, and ambitious leaders stake their claims.  The HERO WARS have come to this fair and pleasant land.

If you’re not sure where Imther is, the Argan Argar Atlas has you covered. Locate Saird on the map below, and go northwest along the Daughter’s Road from it. Find New Lolon and you’re there. Imther is the area between New Lolon and Soldier’s Ferry, across from the Imther Mountains to the east. It’s the last civilized Lunar province before you head out east into Balazar and wild lands of the Griffin Mountain campaign.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

If you’re an old Gloranthaphile, you might already know that Harald Smith is no stranger to Imther. Back in the mid-1990s, he published two volumes of the fanzine “New Lolon Gospel” which already focused on Imther.

Edge of the Empire presents Imther as a new homeland for RuneQuest, plus a gazetteer, some maps, gamemaster tools, and a lot more! Check it out!

The Temple of Twins

© 2022 Beer With Teeth & Chaosium Inc.

The Temple of Twins is Beer With Teeth’s latest Praxian adventure, once again meant to fit in one or two sessions of play.

The adventure is designed to be highly challenging for warriors and outsiders to Prax, and much easier for women.  Eirithans in particular will find their skills called on, and Ernaldans will be useful.  Combat is much more likely if characters fail at walking Eiritha’s path, but can be avoided by wise or skillful women.

Also, note the content warning accompanying the description.

Index and Catalogue Updates

© 2022 Nick Brooke & Chaosium Inc.

Nick Brooke, Chaosium’s community content manager for the Jonstown Compendium, has published the last update to his 2022 Jonstown Compendium Index, so it has now been merged into his broader Jonstown Compendium Catalogue, whose 2022 edition is now out on DriveThruRPG.

As the name implies, the catalogue lists all the Jonstown Compendium releases so far, complete with a lot of information to help people find PDFs they might like (review scores, adventure locations, and more). You can find more information here.

© 2022 Nick Brooke & Chaosium Inc.

Of course, the new year also means the start of a new Jonstown Compendium Index! The 2023 Index is also now out. You know what to do!

Akhelas’ Patreon

Austin Conrad, who did the Monster of the Month series, among with other things, has started a Patreon for his RPG writing endeavours:

I’ve set up a Patreon, for those of you who like my stuff, and have run out of books to buy. Hoping to have some news out next week about future plans!

The Patreon is up here.

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.

A Sense of Size

A regular staple of Jeff’s notes is some geographical comparisons between areas of Glorantha and Earth. This note reiterates these points, in case you need some context for your world-building.

Some people complain that Glorantha is too small, which I find complete nonsense. It is the size that it is. Use the smaller scale to your advantage. It is only 800 km from Boldhome to Glamour. It is less than 2000 km from Boldhome to Sog City. Let your adventures explore if they are so inclined.

I’m not sure what kind of argument “It is the size that it is” is meant to convey, but hey, I’ll raise my hand as someone who initially thought that Glorantha was too small. It might be hard to remember the days of being a Gloranthan newbie for those who have played and written in it for decades, but I do remember finding it very weird to have all these completely different cultures, climates, and mountains so small and so close together.

You can find comparably sized geo-political entities on Earth, but they tend to be on a smaller side of the scale, and Glorantha misses everything else on that sale. Of course, it makes more sense once you get deeper into the setting: Glorantha isn’t defined by tectonic activity and weather systems, it’s defined by where Earth deities died, where giants laid down, and where Sun gods are worshipped. Plus, a smaller world means more opportunities for the player characters to visit all those cool and varied places. But it takes a certain amount of lore familiarity to realize this, so of course newcomers to the setting will find the scale “wrong”. I’m biased, obviously but it seems a sensible first impression to me.

Later in the note, Jeff wisely reminds us that people in Glorantha (and in the ancient world on Earth) didn’t always stay in their village. Many people travelled far and wide and/or met travellers from far away. Cities and town are often quite cosmopolitan.

The Evolution of Malkionism

Jeff looks at the evolution of Malkionism into New Hrestolism — two of the main cultures, philosophies, and social orders that rule over western Genertela.

All Malkionism begins with the teachings of Malkion, where questions pertaining to laws of nature, the origin of the universe and the place of man in it are asked.

These are incredibly ancient religious texts – first preserved in the writings of Zzabur. Since the Expulsion it has not been possible for ordinary mortals to consult Zzabur’s library, so people are reliant on texts that have been copied and recopied over the millennia.

I always forget that Malkion isn’t any sort of original god or entity, as you might imagine from the principal figure followed by humanist wizards. He’s actually the offspring of a Storm demigod (Aerlit) and a Triolini (Warera). He’s half Air and half Water, basically.

Malkion had four sons with Britha, which I assume is the Land Goddess of Brithos, the now-mostly-gone island that was located west of Genertela. The four sons sort of define the four castes of Malkioni society: Dronar (who led and taught the farmers and workers), Horal (the soliders), Talar (the nobles), and Zzabur (the wizards). But Zzabur is sort of a shitty son. The “Expulsion” noted by Jeff here relates to that incident before Time when Malkion went around with some new rules, but Zzabur and his followers refused them. So Zzabur kicked his dad and his followers out of Zerendel which, if you squint only a bit at the God Learner maps in the Guide, sort of looks like God Time Brithos.

Note that after being “expulsed” like this, Malkion crossed the sea and founded a place called “New Malkonwal”. Some people believe this is somewhere in the Holy Country. In particular, Rikard the Tiger-Hearted thinks so, and in 1617 he seized power in Heortland and founded the Kingdom of Malkonwal. It was short lived, destroyed by the Lunar invasion of Heortland in 1620… which itself didn’t last long either. Anyway, if you want to include some wizardry bullshit and ancient Malkioni artifacts in your campaign, Heortland is nicely close by.

Anyway, back to Malkioni history:

Shortly after the Dawn, Prince Hrestol, the son of Talar Froalar, had a religion vision and was instructed by Malkion to smash down the old order and to establish justice and make the world a place for mortals. This was the first “division”- from the perspective of those who relied on the writings of Zzabur, this was heresy – an “innovation”. From the perspective of Hrestol and his companions, this came directly from Malkion and thus took precedence over his previous writings.

Yes, Hrestol is also a shitty son and grandson. The whole Malkioni family seems to have a tradition of changing up the rules of their fathers, probably just to piss them off. And from there, more disagreements split up the Malkioni people some more.

And thus Malkionism developed into many different schools of thought, especially along the following issues:

  • Caste stability versus caste mobility;
  • The question of Tapping;
  • Metaphorical versus literal;
  • Personal experience of the Invisible God versus teachings of Malkion/Hrestol/etc;
  • Joy versus Solace;
  • Mystical versus legal;
  • Tradition versus empiricism;
  • Worship of the Invisible God alone versus worship of lesser emanations (aka gods and spirits) and veneration of heroes.

[…] After Arkat, this all gets even more convoluted, as the Malkioni try to understand Arkat’s magical explorations AND try to determine where and how it went wrong. Throw in a few centuries of God Learner experiments and discoveries and you can imagine how far diverse Malkioni thought got during the Second Age.

Read some more for some notes about Zzabur’s Red, Brown, and Blue Books, which contain his notes and thoughts on the universe, the gods, the Runes, and all of that.

So if you imagine, along the western coastline of Genertela, we have many centres of intellectual discourse and discussion. Imagine the wizards debating in Leplain or Southpoint, with the most radical journeying to Sog City to consult copies of ancient texts kept within the City of Brass. This gets diffused by other wizards, taught to talars, and is forced to confront experiences of initiates and the power of cults.

The Malkioni and the Red Goddess

The Malkioni wizards apparently do NOT like this new Red Goddess business:

In 1247 the whole world saw the Red Moon rise into the Middle Air. At first it could only be seen at night, but after 1275 or so, it could be seen during the day as well.

[…] The Malkioni saw the rise of the Red Moon as the rise of terrible evil. The Red Moon is NOT anywhere in any of the sacred texts or theories of sorcery. Its appearance was unnatural and wrong – clearly the result of insane magic or even Chaos. Nothing the Malkioni learned in the intervening centuries made this any better – the Red Moon was the result of a mortal (herself the product of a mad cabal) who turned herself into a goddess within Time.

There’s also a bit in this note about Annilla, the “Blue Moon” that was killed and struck down during the Gods War:

Remember what a moon versus a planet is in Glorantha. We could just as easily refer to Annilla as a dead planet. There are myths of the Annilla, but she fell from the sky. No idea if she just hung there motionless like the Red Moon, she certainly didn’t have phases! Now we know she is associated with the Blue Streak, who causes the tides and maybe that is her.

In short there is no real objective reason to make a strong connection between the Blue Moon and the Red Moon. The Lunars do, and the cults are associated. But maybe that is a different association.

About Argrath and the Metaplot

During a thread discussing “dumping Argrath” from the Gloranthan setting, Jeff shared this bit of game designery:

And here’s what Greg and I found over decades of play. Far more players and gamemasters prefer the Pendragon approach, where the players do not have the burden of carrying the setting, but get to do cool things and interact with major figures and then go off and do their thing.

Basically, playing Pendragon with the Knights of the Round Table sort of calls for having King Arthur at the top, with his entourage of famous NPCs like Lancelot and Merlin and Gweneviere and so on.

This is very much a personal taste, and depends on the expectations of a given game. I’ve seen some people who dislike playing in Middle Earth because the fellowship of the ring and other big-name NPCs are “doing all the cool stuff”. Some settings are well suited to the characters being “The Heroes” (capital “T”, capital “H”) who shape the world with their actions. But some people aren’t interested in that, and some settings are not conductive to this sort of play. It includes most licensed IPs (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc) but not all of them (Star Trek can easily have other exploration ships having as many adventures as the Enterprise, Alien has literally no “world driving” NPC, etc).

For better or worse, Glorantha was designed with a few “super heroes” shaping the world (the Red Emperor, Jar-eel, Harrek, Argrath), and a collection of “heroes” below them. The adventurers are meant to cross path with those big-name NPCs, be sent on missions by them, be smacked around by them, but not become their equal or surpass them. You’re not really meant to become the equals of Saruman or Darth Vader either. So you either find some good spots to play in those sandboxes, or you play in other settings where the top spots are left available for the PCs.

Greg and I talked about the “multiple Argraths or one” as part of the Guide to Glorantha, and we both concluded that the approach taken in the old HW material was a failure. The Guide makes it clear that there is one Argrath, and that is the approach taken from there on.

This bit might need some explanation for the Gloranthan newcomers. Some time between the 1990s and the 2010s, a lot of Gloranthan material (especially the 2000-2010-era Hero Wars and HeroQuest material) presented Argrath as a “mystery”. He was some sort of enigmatic figure whose identity was unclear, built upon hearsay and gossip from across Dragon Pass and Prax. His accomplishments were attributed to various people named “Argrath” but with a different epithet or last name. Sometimes the first name would even be changed to anagrams of Argrath, such as “Garrath”.

These various people (or personas) would be credited with, say, his rebel Orlanthi temple in Lunar-occupied New Pavis, his defense of the Giant’s Cradle that came down the Zola Fel, his friendship with Harrek the Berserk and subsequent circumnavigation of Glorantha’s oceans, and so on.

The idea was that if Argrath was a “composite figure”, some of these exploits could be accomplished by player characters. Maybe they didn’t sail the oceans with Harrek, but they did defend the Giant’s Cradle or liberate New Pavis. But from what I hear, that never really took off, and people didn’t really make use of it. As a result, all the post-Guide-to-Glorantha material gave up on the idea, and has now adopted the much simpler idea that Argrath is one guy, irrevocably tied to the metaplot. But hey, what a guy!

If you squint only a bit, you might find traces of this old approach to Argrath in some of the Jonstown Compendium entries that feature him.

Miscellaneous Notes

Here are some of this week’s other notes that I don’t have time to annotate:

  • Time to update your spreadsheets! Jeff shares some aggregate cult membership numbers for all Lunar provinces (Vanch, Imther, Aggar, Holay, and Tarsh).
  • Some notes about how the Lunar Empire regulates worship of foreign deities, and in particular the worship of Orlanth. They can close down some temples here and there, but they can’t easily keep people from doing what they want.
  • Learn about the Seventh Soul, the element of “Liberation” that was added to humans as a gift (and a curse) by the Red Goddess. This is of course based on a Dara Happan and/or Lunar point of view — the six original souls are very much from the solar culture, and the Orlanthi think about this differently.
  • A quick history of the Red Goddess and the submission of the Dara Happans and their Yelm cult to the Lunar Red Emperor. Plus, Jeff’s take on Argenteus and his Seven Daughters.
  • Brolia and Anadiki are two regions that are inhabited by poor, backwater Orlanthi hillbillies, at least compared to the wealthier and more cultured Sartarites who maintain very lucrative trade routes between the Holy Country, Peloria, and Prax. So Brolia and Anadiki are good options for a different, more rural game setting.
  • A quick history of the different “clusters” of Orlanthi through the ages.

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.

A-Sharp Games on Sale for Sacred Time

A-Sharp’s famous Gloranthan video games, King of Dragon Pass and Six Ages, are on sale for Sacred Time! I’m not sure how long that will last so hurry up if you still haven’t checked those out!

Both are “clan management” games, in which you sort of play a clan chieftain and its clan ring. You decide who to raid and who to ally with, how to handle incidents, what gods to sacrifice to, and so on… hopefully leading your clan to wealth and glory! King of Dragon Pass is focused on the Orlanthi during the colonization of Dragon Pass, before Sartar unified all the clans and tribes, built cities, and founded his Kingdom. Six Ages is focused on the Hyalorings (related to the sun-worshipping Dara Happans) during the God Time, so there are more deities and spirits around, more horse riding, and more sunny days.

Six Ages is available here for Apple devices, and here for PC. King of Dragon Pass is available here for Apple devices, and here for PC. Both games are great to play on a tablet.

If you want more information, Runeblogger wrote a test of Six Ages, and interviewed David Dunham on the topic. Check those out too!

The Gaming Gang on Why You Should Play RuneQuest

Jeff McAleer of the Gaming Gang tells you why you should play RuneQuest!

Don’t get too excited, this is the first video in his new series “Why you should play…” which will definitely tell you to play a lot of other games too. But hey, he picked RuneQuest first so that’s got to count for something.

Bryon is Now up to the Letter “S”

I’m talking about his series of videos on the Red Book of Magic, of course! Bryon is going through all the spells and giving his thoughts and comments on each. He actually already finished all the Rune spells (the last video on that was here), and he’s now up to the letter “S” in the Spirit Magic spell list… which means he’s almost done with the entire book. You can find all his videos on his channel.

Pious Noble at the Heler Temple

Lee O’Connor shares an illustration of a “pious noble” for an upcoming Greydog clan book by Jon Qaife:

She’s weighed down with jewellery but she’s on her knees in the temple (of the gender-fluid rain god) because she’s a good sort.

Thank you for reading

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