In this episode Joerg is still taking a break, but Ludovic is here to welcome Evan Franke and JM DeFoggi (not to be confused with JM DeMatteis!)

Exploring Glorantha

Evan and JM are probably best known to listeners and readers of the God Learners as the hosts of Exploring Glorantha, the YouTube series that presents Glorantha in an accessible manner to the general public. But they are also part of Iconic Production, which does a lot more stuff! It started as a 13th Age actual play, but they now cover many other games.

Ludovic mentions that subscribing to Iconic Production’s Patreon gives you access to the Exploring Glorantha show notes, which are quite useful as a Gloranthan index when you need to look something up.

Jackals

For the main topic, we discuss JM’s bronze age fantasy game Jackals (available from Osprey Publishing), its worldbuilding, campaign framework, system, and what we can learn and apply to Glorantha gaming!

During the discusion, we talk about:

Where to Find Evan and JM

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.

Happy Sacred Time everybody! And yes, I know, late December doesn’t map, in the meteorological or celestial sense, to Sacred Time, but I’m going with the cultural correspondence here. And I’m not the only one. So happy Sacred Time indeed! May your harvest rolls bring you fortune.

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!

Desire for Knowledge

© 2022 Niall Sullivan & Chaosium Inc.

This new adventure from Niall Sullivan takes place in Jonstown, so it’s ideal for those of you who just finished the Starter Set!

The player characters are contacted by a sage in the Jonstown Library, who offers them payment to recover a dangerous scroll. The scroll is hidden in a townhouse formerly owned by an official of the Lunar Empire. It is also haunted by ghosts and spirits, and caution is warranted.

The Way: Paths of Enlightenment

How do you work towards enlightenment in Kralorela and Teshnos? Paul Baker has some answers for you. Expect martial arts discipline and Kralorelan monks.

This is a companion piece for his coverage of Eastern Genertela found in Houses of Teshnos and the Kralori Primer.

Secrets of Dorastor: Personalities Tactics

© 2022 Stormspearia & Chaosium Inc.

Simon Phipp and Stormspearia continue their coverage of Dorastor with more than a hundred of pages on the major NPCs of the area and their tactics — by which I suppose they’re NPCs you’re going to definitely fight.

This is of course meant to be a companion piece to Secrets of Dorastor.

Temple Hill: The Acropolis

© 2022 Dario Corallo & Chaosium Inc.

This is a new entry in Dario Corallo’s VTT offering: a VTT map of a “temple hill” with several locations and some encounter suggestions.

Big Rubble Campaign Map

© 2022 Dario Corallo & Chaosium Inc.

Still from Dario Corallo, this is another entry in the “campaign map” series, this time covering the Big Rubble. Unlike the classic 1983 map from the Big Rubble boxed set, this one is in colour.

The Jaldonkillers Might Come Back

Shawn Carpenter, one half of Troupe Games, has recently announced on Mastodon that Peggy and himself are back at work on their Questworld-powered “Jaldonkillers Saga”.

© 2022 Troupe Games & Chaosium Inc.

You might remember that “Valley of Plenty” was one of the early offerings of the Jonstown Compendium, and pretty much the only book using Questworld instead of RuneQuest as its game system. We even interviewed Shawn and Peggy on the podcast at the time! But “Valley of Plenty” was later pulled from sales, and the sequel cancelled.

Thankfully, it sounds like Shawn and Peggy had a change of heart and are coming back to Glorantha, with what sounds like a remastered and expanded version of the first book, in addition to its sequel:

Work is proceeding apace on the Valley of Plenty 2e, a beginner’s Glorantha campaign setting for use with Chaosium’s soon-to-be released QuestWorlds rules. The new book will be larger than the first (which was a respectable size) and will contain more adventures, story-seeds, and activities in addition to expanded setting information so you can linger over the Wildlings childhood if you wish.

The 2nd book of the Jaldonkiller Saga will be released concurrently with Valley of Plenty.

Shawn shared a couple of other updates on Mastodon about the project, with some work in progress art.

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 Five Elder Races

Jeff gives his top 5 elder races, with just a short paragraph for each. Not much to say except… well here’s my top 5 elder races! It’s hard to make a list though. I’m 100% convinced that if you asked me again tomorrow, I would give you a different list. But right now, these ones are on my mind:

5. Dragonewts and Mostali (tied): they’re weird and hard to understand, so they are great tools for the gamemaster! They let you bring unusual themes to your fantasy game, like steampunk and science-fiction and cosmic enlightenment and weird dreams.

4. Baboons: they’re funny, they’re dangerous, they’re creepy, they’re annoying: baboons just make any Gloranthan game better! I need to add more baboons to my game…

3. Uz: the trolls are cool because they have such a well developed culture and mythology in Glorantha. In particular, I love the Gorakkiki side of their society, with trollkin riding giant beetles and Rune Lords fighting on giant praying mantis back. I also love Cragspider, the scheming semi-goddess who has a pet True Dragon and a direct line to the God Time.

2. Voralans (aka “Black Elves”): these fungi elves bridge the world of Plant and Darkness. They’re way more spread out and connected than anyone thinks, they have an incredibly underrated diversity, they know weird-ass fungal sorcery, and nobody knows what they’re up to. They’re awesome because we only know a tiny fraction of what they’re about.

1. Tusk Riders: as I said in our episode on the topic, these are my favourite villains of Glorantha. They’re mean, they dangerous, they’re vicious, but they also have quite a lot of under-studied history and magic. Who knows what secrets you might uncover if you took the risk to go snoop around the Ivory Plinth?

What’s your ranking?

The Origin of Belintar

Belintar was the God-King of the Holy Country, a man who one day just literally swam ashore, said hi, and unified all the lands around the Choralintor Bay. He built a highly magical kingdom, became semi-immortal, and was eventually too cool for his own good and got terminated by Jar-eel and the Lunar Empire. But where did he actually come from?

Greg and I both agreed never to publish a definitive answer as to the origin of Belintar. If the Only Old One couldn’t learn his origins, your player characters sure as heck won’t!

That being said there are plenty of popular theories about Belintar. Here’s three that you can hear throughout the Holy Country and Dragon Pass, all of which have some kernels of truth (and also falsehood):

The theories are: (1) he’s the last of the God Learners, (2) he is a powerful Heroquester from the Second Age, (3) he’s a god that fell from the Celestial River when the Boat Planet disappeared with the Closing of the Seas, and (4) he’s the Red Emperor’s twin. With each theory Jeff gives a small argument for it.

Theories one and two are somewhat the same (some heroquesting expert that got lost in the God Time during the Second Age and took a few centuries to get out) and I don’t really find them compelling. By now someone would have found traces of someone matching Belintar’s description in old Second Age documents… I don’t believe that (1) we lost so many records that we wouldn’t be able to correlate this or that (2) he was a nobody who somehow became super powerful by getting lost in the God Time for a long time. That just feels a bit lame to me… but I could see it work if I were to send my players into some old Middle Sea Empire ruins to find old documents, and they start uncovering some lost truths about Belintar… mmmh.

The fourth theory falls completely flat with me — I’m not into the whole “cosmic resonance” that some Gloranthaphiles seem to be into. You say “cosmic resonance” and I say “plot devices and ex-machina”.

So it’s theory number three for me: a god that somehow fell down, escaped, got kicked out, or otherwise left the Gods World up there and ended up down here.

Nobody knows for certain what Belintar’s origin was, but as I said there are kernels of truth in all of these. What is definitively not true is that he was a time traveler from the future or from another world.

The Loper

Here’s a note on the Loper, a strange creature you can find on page 150 of the Glorantha Bestiary. Its main feat is the ability to teleport at will. I’m sure more than one sorcerer tried to study this creature closely in order to replicate this.

Jeff doesn’t give out any information that can’t be gleaned from the Bestiary, but I do appreciate it when people call out stuff from the main books like this: it’s easy to miss or forget some of these things, unless you’re a brainy weirdo like Austin Conrad who reads these books front to back and remembers them…

Prehistoric Moons

Moon deities in Glorantha are a giant mess. There were several of them before the Gods War, many died, other were forgotten, and now there’s the giant mythical mish-mash that is the Red Goddess. Jeff gives the simplified version of this Gloranthan lunar business:

In the God Time, Glorantha had a moon or moons, sometimes described as blue, red, or even purple. Most give a celestial origin for this Lunar Goddess, calling her the daughter of Aether or Yelm; others give her an Underworld origin, calling her the daughter of Primal Darkness and the Primal Waters. Still others make her an impossible pairing of Celestial and Underworld powers.

During the Gods War, the Lunar Goddess was cast down from heaven and shattered. Some say it was by Orlanth, others blame Mostal, and still other’s blame Yelm’s vengeful kin. The moon fell to earth in many pieces, the largest being the Blue Moon Plateau in Peloria.

This text is from the Glorantha Sourcebook, with a few very small edits, such as the rather ominous addition of “or moons” in the first sentence. So did Glorantha have several lunar deities who died and fell to the ground in multiple shapes and locations? Or did Glorantha have only one lunar body that was multi-faceted enough for the Dara Happans and other early cultures to find multiple aspects to worship?

To make things more complicated, these different aspects were then taken back by the Lunars into their mythology, as different “phases” of the Red Goddess. So for example, the moon goddess known as a daughter of Yelm is often known under the name Verithurusa (or Verithurus if you look back into Dara Happan documents). In Lunar mythology, she’s associated with the Full Half Moon. But then again there’s also another moon goddess named Zaytenara that was also the daughter of Yelm (which was known as Zaytenaras by the Dara Happans). That’s the White Moon, and is associated with the Full Moon.

Like I said, it’s a giant mess, and best left to the Lunar sages to debate. But I’m sure that if you look closely enough into it, you’ll figure out how the Seven Mothers helped Sedenya piece herself together in the Zero Wane. The recipe (shards of dead moon goddesses, sugar, spice, everything nice, Chaos!) is bound to bring you some really precious insights if you want to bring down the Empire, or, say, revolutionize it…

Jeff here goes with the simplest option of the singular lunar goddess being rebuilt by the Seven Mothers:

In the Third Age of Time, seven individuals came together to bring about the rebirth of the Lunar Goddess. They were occult conspirators whom desperation and ambition had brought together. They sought out parts of a deity which they believed would be able to help them, gathering pieces of the long-forgotten Lunar Goddess, who had been dismembered and scattered during the Gods War. The result was the birth of the Red Goddess.

Personally I prefer the multiple-moons option, because that makes the Red Goddess into a Frankenstein-monster-god, instead of a resurrected goddess, even if Jeff does add this:

Note that the Red Goddess is far more and far greater than her broken parts.

The Red Moon

Remember that the Red Moon hangs stationary in the sky above Glamour in the middle of Genertela. So there’s a good chance that your Dragon Pass or Prax adventurers can see this ominous orb out there in the sky when there’s no mountain or cloud blocking the view:

Remember the Red Moon does not rise or set, nor does it move with the Sky Dome. It remains motionless in the sky, cycling between Red and Back every week.

This is one of the main features of Glorantha but I didn’t realize it at first when I discovered the setting. This was one of my “oh really?” moments.

The Guide is definitive about the Red Moon. See page 648. We went over a LOT of variations while writing this up. That is a big part of the reasoning for the Guide – you can go to it for a lot of these questions. There is more on the Red Moon in the Lunar Mythology book, but it is built off the Guide.

Jeff also gives out a few details about relative celestial body sizes and solar eclipses (or lack thereof).

Don’t Forget the Sea Gods

Jeff reminds us that the Sea Gods are super powerful… in the right places. Dragon Pass and Prax being landlocked, these water gods don’t have much presence there. Even the rain and river gods tend to be minor, because people can get their precipitation and plant growing from Orlanth and Ernalda. But out there on the coasts and in the oceans, the water gods reign supreme over a whole different world that we might not often explore in our games.

But we often forget that more than half the world is covered by waters. And those waters go deep – the Homeward Ocean has at its center the great whirlpool formed by Magasta that goes to the Underworld and deeper.

Within the Deeps are deities of great power that are rarely worshiped (or even known) by humans. Greatest is Magasta, the Lord of the Waters. There is Wachaza, his son, a terrible and cruel god of Death. There is Triolina, the Source of Life. There is Daliath, Guardian of Secret Wisdom, and Nelat, the God of Purification. There are great spirits that animate the waters – ruled by a deity popularly called King Undine. There are the gods of the various seas, who are the master of the currents and the waves.

These deities are mainly worshiped by the Triolini, and possess secrets unknown to the humans of the Third Age. There are the Waertagi, who have returned to the seas, seeking vengeance upon the land humans that banished them with the Closing.

And within the Deep is Chaos as well. The endless hunger of Gloomshark, the End of All Things. The great white shark with dead eyes that consumes all. With the triumph of Chaos, even death may die.

Jeff couldn’t resist throwing a Cthulhu reference there at the end…

Some of my players have expressed some interest in doing a circumnavigation of Glorantha, like Harrek and Argrath did (and possibly doing with with them!) so I’ve been thinking about this a bit. I’d love to send those adventurers to places where their skills and magic are half-useless!

Arkat’s Legacy

Jeff talks about Arkat… I’m not ready to go there yet so I’ll slowly back away. But there’s some good stuff for modern Arkati factions:

So if you want to imagine modern Arkat cults, here’s what they might have – access to what Arkat taught them (sorcery spells, knowledge of the Hero Plane, etc.), secret Illumination techniques (but this is known only to a few cults), and some spirits defeated by or allied to Arkat. Any Rune magic would come from some lesser hero – a grandchild or great grandchild of Arkat or the descendant of some other companion or friend. But the real magic of Arkat is lost to all.

And some more. Check it out!

Gloranthan Communities

Here’s a collection of Jeff’s thoughts on how to think about Gloranthan communities. Note in particular how he recommends including the human factor into the equation: organization charts and cult membership spreadsheets do tell a picture of who’s powerful and who’s not, but that picture can be heavily distorted by the particular personalities, followings, and histories of this or that cult leader, tribal king, or temple priest.

The Lightbringers’ Quest

A small note about Harmast’s Lightbringers’ Quest, and the actual invocation of Orlanth, in case you don’t have King of Sartar or the Book of Heortling Mythology (which both contain a form of this text).

More generally speaking, Jeff reminds us that the Lightbringers’ Quest isn’t a “resurrection quest”. It’s a quest to fix the cosmos when it is threatened by something you can identify with the Devil:

In the end, Orlanth and the Lightbringers bring back to the cosmos what everyone, gods and mortals alike, needs – the Cosmic Compromise which enables the defeat of the Devil. The result is necessary but unwanted – Time. The cosmos survives because of that and the Grand Order is restored.

That’s the trick to understanding the Lightbringers Quest. It is not some paltry resurrection quest – although that is a part of it. The purpose of Harmast’s Lightbringers Quest was not to resurrect Arkat, but to make possible the defeat of Gbaji (an incarnation of the Devil).

Worshiping Heroes

You don’t worship Jar-eel for the Rune Magic. You worship her for the cool t-shirts and access to her newsletter.

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.

How to Become an Elf

Rune stats in RuneQuest are a funny thing, especially the Form Runes. Humans are on the gradient between the Man Rune and the Beast Rune, but gain even 1% in some other Form Rune and you’re supposedly not human anymore. A bit of the Spirit Rune and you’re partly a discorporate spirit… whatever that means. And a bit of the Plant Rune and you’re, well, partly a plant. Or maybe entirely a plant. Hard to say — the dichotomy between the Plant and Man Runes that you find in Aldryami stat blocks relates to their personality, their nature, and their alignment with cosmic forces, not their biological composition. They’re 100% plants on that regard…

So what does it mean when a non-elf acquires the Plant Rune through initiation into the Aldrya cult? Well they might become 100% plants too. David Scott shared the non-elf initiation path for Aldrya (from the upcoming Cults books) and it’s pretty savage:

  1. A non-elven candidate first must prove themselves to the Council of Elders with an average POW & CHA roll x5.
  2. Then must succeed skill test on 5 set skills.
  3. Then candidate must perform an unspeakable deed to their species, which is always criminal in every human sense (this is a secret kept from non-initiates).
  4. Then sacrifice 1 point of POW to Aldrya.
  5. Now the elves take the candidate, strip them, and carry them to a holy tree.
  6. With copper stakes, they nail the candidate to the tree, one spike per limb.
  7. With a holy knife, they first cut out thigh and upper arm bones and replace them with wooden sticks.
  8. Then they gut the candidate and rip out most of their inner organs.
  9. Plants, seeds, and soil are inserted in the hollow cavities.
  10. A hole is drilled into the forehead through the skull, and a dried root is stuck in the brain.
  11. Genitals are amputated, with seeds planted in their place.
  12. A sacred copper axe is then used to chop a slit in the tree, which opens and swallows the mutilated corpse.
  13. The wood folds around the mess and the metamorphosis begins.
  14. At the end of some number of days, which varies with the amount of damage the body sustained, the person will awaken, enclosed in a nut-like shell.
  15. This hangs on the holy tree.
  16. After breaking out of the shell, the new elf is welcomed by the cult.

As David says, “much easier to stay a lay member”. No shit. Plus, do you want to get changelings? Because that’s how you get fucking changelings.

Brian Duguid pointed out that this initiation is similar to some of the shamanic initiation rites described by Mircea Eliade in “Shamanism” (a book that David Scott mentioned several times as a very good, if outdated in places, resource on the topic). Brian gave me in particular this passage about the Unmatjera (an Australian aboriginal tribe):

“When he was made into a medicine man, a very old doctor came to him one day and threw some of his atnongara stones at him [small crystalline stones produced from the doctor’s own body] with a spear-thrower. Some hit him on the chest, others went right through his head, from ear to ear, killing him. The old man then cut out all of his insides, intestines, liver, heart, lungs – everything in fact, and left him lying all night long on the ground. In the morning the old man came and looked at him and placed some more atnongara stones inside his body and in his arms and legs, and covered over his face with leaves. Then he sang over him until his body was all swollen up. When this was so he provided him with a complete set of new inside parts, placed a lot more atnongara stones in him, and patted him on the head, which caused him to jump up alive”.

Brian mentions that other shamanic traditions also include replacing bones with “spirit bones” and organs with plant equivalents.

More on the Man Rune here.

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.

Victrix Releases Ancient Horse Archers

If you’re looking for miniatures for Gloranthan gaming, you could do a lot worse than Victrix, who has a wide variety of ancient world factions (Romans, Celts, Persians, all kinds of Greeks, etc).

© 2022 Victrix Ltd.

They just released “Ancient Horse Archers“, including Scythians and Parthians (although Victrix says they also work OK as Sarmatians). In Glorantha you can use them for, well, whatever: Sartarite thanes, Pol-Joni, Pentans? I don’t know. Feel free to argue ad-nauseam about real-world correspondences. They’re just antiquity-looking horsemen, OK? You can probably make good use of them!

Nearly 170 New Nazca Lines Discovered

Over the past couple years, archeologists have discovered a lot of new geoglyphs in Peru, where the so-called “Nazca Lines” are. There was a “lounging cat” from 200-100 BCE, and now there’s, like, new birds and snakes and whatnot, probably made between 100 BCE and 300 CE.

This brings the total number of Nazca Line geoplyphs to almost 360.

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.

I’ve been sick for the last few days so you get a minimal newsletter this week. Thankfully, it started after I recorded the December episode of the podcast. I’m hoping it will be over soon so I can get on with the editing!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

This Was a Down Year for Glorantha

Chaosium posted a 2022 wrap-up and it’s been a bit sad for Glorantha gamers. The following is Chaosium’s mosaic of all 2022 releases:

© 2022, Chaosium Inc.

The first thing to note is that RuneQuest’s Weapons & Equipment was actually released in December 2021 in PDF. The same goes for Call of Cthulhu’s Keeper Tips, Cults of Cthulhu, and A Time To Harvest (which is curiously missing from the mosaic… probably an oversight). The physical books, however, were released this year and, fun fact, because of the Canadian warehouse debacle, I have only just received my print copies of these books this week, pretty much a year after my PDF purchase. Even if you account for the books going to the printer after the “crowdsourced proof-reading” in late January, that should give you an idea of how fucked the printing and shipping industry is right now.

So… there was only one RuneQuest book out this year (the other two Glorantha-related books are great, don’t get me wrong, but they’re for a niche market and don’t contain gaming material). And I know that some people will consider Weapons & Equipment to have been released in 2021, making it zero new books this year in their mind. Meanwhile, books that have been teased for the past couple years are still in the pipeline. Four-year-old references to the Gamemaster’s Guide printed in the rulebook are not fulfilled. There has been no announcements on VTT support for RuneQuest, despite an original intention to have that ready for the Starter Set. And of course there’s the heroquesting rules.

The first thing that comes to me is “over-stretched”. There was a lot going on in 2022: a Call of Cthulhu anniversary, a new IP with Rivers of London, restarting the Cthulhu Mythos fiction line. Plus things not visible in the above mosaic: investments in social media, the Chaosium YouTube channel, conventions (including organizing ChaosiumCon!), and the rise in popularity of Call of Cthulhu, (edit, added december 20th) the publishing of other games like Upwind and Wurm, which were quickly reverted… (end edit) Then there’s the ongoing stuff: another IP with Lords of the Middle Sea, the next edition of Pendragon, and who knows what else (Mythic Earth?). I assume this is why we’ve seen Chaosium hire and promote several people these past two years: to have enough people to work on all this stuff. But hey that’s only my uneducated guess, I’m not “in the know” or anything. I’m just writing random shit on my own blog. That’s what blogs are for.

© 2022, Chaosium Inc.

Anyway I’m not holding my breath for much in 2023. I predict that we will only see the Prosopaedia and some accessories like spell cards plus, maybe, one of the cults books or the Gamemaster Guide (that’s a big “maybe“). In fact, I think that’s probably the sort of bandwidth Chaosium can afford yearly at the moment: three or four Call of Cthulhu books, one or two books for the other IPs (RuneQuest, 7th Sea, Pendragon, Rivers of London), and a collection of miscellaneous stuff like accessories, memorabilia, reprints, or quickstart adventures for new IPs.

© 2022, Nick Brooke & Chaosium Inc.

But you know what’s been great? The Jonstown Compendium! If you want gaming material, it’s all there! While we wait for official products, passionate and talented people are sharing their take on Glorantha and RuneQuest, and it’s just as valuable and worthy of your dollars as Chaosium’s take. It’s the Gloranthan community that’s keeping bronze age fantasy gaming alive, and that’s awesome to see. Is it the 1990s all over again? 1

1 Don’t answer that, I wasn’t around for that so I have no idea. Random shit, my blog, and all that, remember?

A New Hero Episode 11

I haven’t caught up to it yet, but the PCs are now apparently fighting the big bad evil NPC… and that messes up with their mind!

Statement About AI Art

Given Chaosium’s previous fumble with tech-bro stuff, I was pretty happy to see this statement come out of their social media department. It’s brief and to the point, in that it addresses the main issue with AI art: it’s often trained on a lot of artists’ work without their consent, allowing people to create imitations of those works without the original artists ever seeing a dollar or even a credit.

By the way, when looking at any machine-learning technology, keep this in mind: the dataset used to train the AI will almost always be problematic. This is how you have face recognition AI that can’t detect black people’s faces. This will likely keep being a problem for the foreseeable future, and will make the world a little worse, one bit at a time. But hey, I’m French, so I tend to be pessimistic about these things… (although we don’t call it “pessimistic” in France, we call it “realistic”)

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!

Children of Hykim is Available in Print

© 2022 Brian Duguid & Chaosium Inc.

Yes, it’s here! With the amazing new cover! If you want to know more about the Hsunchen, you can listen to us talking to the author, Brian Duguid, in a recent episode of the podcast.

A Weather Eye Open

© 2022 Drew Baker & Chaosium Inc.

Drew Baker released this sequel to his Highways and Byways, which contained travel information for all of Dragon Pass and Prax’s routes. The new book, A Weather Eye Open, deals with the “much-underestimated potential for using weather in your RuneQuest gameplay”. It has tables for generating your campaign’s weather, and some pre-generated ones for a couple of locations if you’re in a hurry.

Pamaltela Campaign Map

© 2022 Dario Corallo & Chaosium Inc.

Last week Dario Corallo released a Dorastor campaign map… this is now followed up by the more exotic Pamaltela campaign map. Dario has a word of warning:

This map is 18 year old…
It was made for Unspoken Word people. Times are good for a new generation of players to see (and maybe use) it.

So the map may not be consistent with the Argan Argar Atlas, since it predates it. No problem! This gives you more options!

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 Bad Side of Sartar

Last week Jeff talked about one of the Lunar Empire’s atrocities. In the spirit equality, he’s now also talking about the bad stuff in the Kingdom of Sartar’s history.

[…] at the end of the day they are Orlanthi.

That means constantly dealing with challenges to your authority and to the established status quo. That means dealing with demands for vengeance everytime someone is harmed. Cattle raiding is a sport. Your ruling cult demands its members display heroic arete and virtus, which means your leadership class is constantly insisting on displays of honor – which causes feuds, death, and upheaval.

So if I get this right, the Lunar Empire commits atrocities but everyday life for normal citizens in the Heartlands or most Provinces is pretty quiet and safe. Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Sartar does not commit atrocities but everyday life is violent and unstable… mmmh. I’ll add that Sartar and his heirs have been up to some shady stuff, too, like stealing secrets from the dwarfs.

Worshipping a turbulent God of Heroes with a strong destroyer aspect carries with it some social implications.

And a thief too. Orlanth stole the Sandals of Darkness from the trolls, and that’s why he has Darkwalk as a Rune spell.

But it is important to remember that the Orlanthi are not “primitives” – any more than the ancient Greeks, Vedic Indians, or Silk Road kingdoms were “primitives”. In terms of art, craft, literature, etc., they are very much the equal of the Lunar Heartlands.

Machine City and God Forgot

Here’s a note about sorcery, how it’s not always spells, and what happened with it in God Forgot:

In the Second Age, the God Learners tried to understand the world through observation, analysis, and reason. One group of God Learners tried to duplicate the result of magic through material devices and machines. They settled in the area called God Forgot (which was part of the Middle Sea Empire) and founded the so called Machine City. They built war machines (including a giant harpoon firing crossbow now in Sun County), armoured self-propelled vehicles, and developed techniques of mass assembly of parts and even of magic weapons. This is all “sorcery” – or at least the product of the sorcerous “scientific” approach. Ultimately, they constructed their own “god machine”. But the gods found this intolerable and the Empire of the Wyrms Friends and the Old Way Traditionalists worked together to destroy the Machine City.

The ruins of this city are still around, so you can visit them! It sounds basically like the remnants of a Gloranthan steampunk fad from the Second Age. The name of the local god trying to rebuild the machine(s) might even be too much on the nose:

Leonardo is a local of God Forgot who has rediscovered some of this. Likely a genius in his own right, he’s built an Ornithopter, and various other devices. He’s likely already come up with the plans for countless others. If he could get enough financing and support, who knows what he could build – or even worse, what devices within the Machine Ruins he could restore to working order!

Runic Personality Traits

Jeff gives a bit of a backstory on the RuneQuest Runic personality traits. You won’t be surprised to learn that they come from Pendragon, but have been merged into the Rune stats to prevent having too many stats.

At some point we realized that with Man versus Beast, we could throw a polarity of social mores and instinct – civilization versus nature.

And so we have Man and Beast. Works well for most of the Elder Races – at least those with the Man Rune (e.g, trolls, ducks, tusk riders, beast people, etc.). With elves we use the Plant Rune, instead of Beast, as they are vegetables not animals.

Note that a human initiate of Aldrya with the plant Rune- like a human initiate of Kyger Litor – isn’t a human anymore.

If you want to know more about Runic personality traits, Passions, and the history behind them, listen to the excellent David Scott on our episode on this very topic!

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.

Jonstown Jottings in R’lyeh

© 2022 Pookie

I haven’t checked back on Pookie’s blog in a litte while (sorry Pookie!) but I want to remind everybody that his blog, Reviews From R’lyeh, has a treasure trove of RPG product reviews.

Note that this is the “review after having read it” sort of reviews, which I find useful for knowing what’s in a book and whether I should bother buying it or not. It’s different from the “review after playing it” sort of reviews, which I tend to reach for when I’m about to play that purchased book.

Anyway, as a Gloranthan adept, Pookie reviewed most of the material on the Jonstown Compendium under the label “Jonstown Jottings“. The last few reviews include:

Feel free to explore Pookie’s website! There’s, like, a 98% chance that whatever you want to know about in the RPG world, Pookie has read it and posted about it.

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.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Sneak Peek at Black Shamrock’s Gloranthan Game

RTE, Ireland’s “National Television and Radio Broadcaster”, did an article on a new tax credit for Irish video game companies… and the article’s video featured Black Shamrock‘s studio! This is the studio that is currently working on the so-called “RuneQuest video game”, about which we pretty much knew nothing until now (well, as far as I know)… go check out the video now!

The screenshots above are blurry because capturing stills from a web video is fraught with danger so, again, check out the video for yourself. If you’re using some adblocker or other security/privacy add-ons in your browser, you might not be able to see the video in the RTE article. In this case, you can see it directly here, or in the embedded video of RTE’s corresponding tweet.

Anyway, as you can see, it looks like Black Shamrock’s game is some sort of action/RPG game with a 3D isometric-ish view. In the bits shown in the video you control what looks like a Bison Rider in Prax. Magic spells and arrows are visibly flung around, as the Irish Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is trying to annihilate a Tusk Rider camp.

Since the video is shot inside Black Shamrock’s office, you can spot a few things, like concept art and design work in progress.

We might encounter some sort of eel naiad thingie at some point, and there’s definitely a Red Moon over there.

Chaosium cheekily tweeted:

Wow! Check out this video game where you get to play as a lance-wielding bison rider in the desert fighting monsters! If only there was a TTRPG to go along with it…

There’s also a quick blog post doing a flashback to Jeff and MOB’s trip to Dublin in 2018.

Canadian Shipping Unavailable For Now

Bad news for Canadians… which sadly includes me! Chaosium’s warehouse contractor in Canada has apparently stopped working. I had a standing order that stayed as “pending shipping” for a couple weeks, which was very odd. Apparently Chaosium didn’t know what the problem was, as the Canadian fulfillment centre apparently silently went under.

Chaosium has regretfully suspended its Canadian fulfilment centre operations. This is due to poor service and lack of communication from our local partner in Canada.

Since shipping orders from the USA would result in Canadian customers being charged customs duties by the Canadian government, we have fully refunded all customers whose orders were in the backlog of unshipped physical items. We are doing this now in the hope that our Canadian customers will still have time to re-order any Holiday gifts they may have been waiting upon.

We are looking at new options for Canadian fulfilment, including other local warehouse partners.

This sucks for both us Canadians and for Chaosium. I hope that they can recover the stock they had in Canada, and that they will quickly find a new fulfilment partner.

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 Message from Nick Brooke

Nick Brooke, Chaosium’s Community Content ambassador and all around Gloranthan super-fan, is getting the Jonstown Compendium 2022 Catalogue ready for release. Now is the time for you to leave a review and/or comment on some community content! This goes a long way with helping out creators, and it makes them feel good too… Nick says:

If you want your opinions to count, please remember to rate and review your favourite Jonstown Compendium purchases on the DriveThruRPG site before year-end! My Catalogues list titles by best-seller medal rank and then by the number of five-star reviews each release has racked up, and you’ve been pretty slack this year… let’s give those authors a nice warm cosy feeling to carry them through the bleak Midwinter, eh?

If you want to be nice to me and the God Learners, how about leaving a nice review on my two RuneQuest adventures so far: “A Short Detour” and “Bog Struggles“. Thanks!

The White Upon The Hills

© 2022 Sacha Gauthier, Reece Dyer, and Chaosium Inc.

Do you have some hunters in your party? Sacha Gauthier and Reece Dyer have a treat for them! A whole adventure set during the Great Hunt, which is the pan-cult hunting contest that happens at the end of the year between Odayla, Yinkin, Foundchild, and other such cults.

For many seasons, the White Blight has plagued the hunting grounds on Stael’s Hills. During the Great Hunt, the adventurers encounter the aftermath of a monstrous attack and the origin of the spreading curse. Tracking the monster, they find a magic strike-stone from an ancient hunting legend. If they intend to use it, they must retread the steps of a mysterious hunting god — to bind, slay and cleanse their prey.

The adventure should take about 2 sessions to complete, and is “written for low-to-moderately experienced adventurers“.

A Lamp for Esrola

© 2022 Sven Lugar & Chaosium Inc.

It’s Dark season right now and it’s a great time to visit the Shadow Plateau!

Retrieve the Tears of the Only Old One which hold the secrets of Light and Darkness for the new Temple of Esrola. During the Siege of Nochet many beautiful buildings were damaged or destroyed. At a celebration to honor the rebuilding of the Temple of Esrola and her Grandson, Fufluns, an opportunity to bring the source of eternal light to the temple is presented to the Adventurers. Are they up to journeying to the Troll-lands around the Shadow Plateau and negotiating or stealing Tear-stones? As the bard Joan of Clan Blackwoodstone sings:

Sven Lugar’s adventure is also, incidentally, worth for about 2 sessions and “written for low-to-moderately experienced adventurers“. It also includes some new minor cults, magical items, and more!

Died in the Wool

© 2022 Braeden Harpool & Chaosium Inc.

This adventure from Braeden Harpool looks super fun! Missing sheep! Uz! Trollball!

Dorastor Campaign Maps

© 2022 Dario Corallo & Chaosium Inc.

Are you lost in Dorastor? Fear not! Dario Corallo has a beautiful high-resolution map for you! Well… you can still be in fear. You’re in Dorastor after all. But hey, at least you’ll die with wonderful cartographic possessions!

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.

Greater, Major, and Minor Gods

Jeff is double-checking “some of the material about to go to the printer soon” (I assume this is the Prosopaedia):

I was comparing things to a list Greg had written some years ago, listing all the gods of Glorantha he knew. They were then classified as Greater, Major, Minor, and Demigod.

The Greater and Major are what concerns us here. These are the universally acknowledged Gloranthan deities. Greater Gods are of great cosmological importance; major gods are perhaps less cosmically important but enjoy recognition throughout the world and are among those that shaped the cosmos.

This is about their cosmological importance, not their cultural importance or whatever. So there are gods in this list that literally have no worshippers or, at least, no organized worship. On the other hand, some gods might be very well-known and have a widespread cult, but have no great role in the grand cosmic scheme of Glorantha.

If your god isn’t on the list, then it is likely a minor god or even a demigod. That includes such favorites as Argan Argar, Issaries, Yelmalio, the Seven Mothers, Oslir, and Polaris. Such deities are normally only of regional importance.

I have my own theory that Issaries is a lot more cosmologically important than he lets on (i.e. he invented the trade method called “worship” without which Glorantha couldn’t function, and has been taking a cut on all Rune magic shared between gods and their cultists since before Time), but that’s just my own crackpot God Learner conspiracy…

Anyway, looking at the list, my first surprise is the presence of “Greater Gods” that I had never heard about until now… I looked them up quickly so you don’t have to:

  • Bolongo: a Pamaltelan god that is, effectively, “empty”. He brings bad things but, ultimately, he’s just a “mask” with nothing behind.
  • Gloomshark: a big-ass shark deity that was “blighted and blasted by Chaos” in the God War. When it eats something, it never comes back… which I suppose makes its digestive system very very efficient? He’s supposed to be the primary Chaos entity in the Water. Reminds me of Kajabor’s powers, too (when Kajabor destroys something, it doesn’t come back either). Kajabor isn’t a Greater God, but Wakboth and Primal Chaos are, so there’s a good Chaos representation in this category already.
  • Jotimam: looks like he’s the “void at the centre of the world”, and was released from inside the Spike when it shattered in the Gods War. He is noted as having no cult but my Call of Cthulhu inspirations lead me to believe he might have a few isolated madmen and eccentrics worshipping it privately.

A couple others I don’t know much about:

  • Dayzatar: one of the sky gods who retreated high up in the celestial world because he didn’t have any fucks left to give to anybody. As I understand it, he stays up there in meditation, and his worshippers emulate him, doing fuck all, all day long. I think this is one of the few cults that aren’t really meant to be for adventurers.
  • Mastakos: basically Orlanth’s driver? He has a chariot and he goes fast. I suppose he has some movement-based magic.

The rest should be pretty well-known if you’ve got the RuneQuest rulebook and bestiary, which is what we always assume you have over here on the God Learners website.

So if we think about the roughly 21 greater gods listed, about a quarter of them are associated with Chaos, which gives you an idea how much Chaos is a part of the world thanks to the Compromise. Entropy (and its child Time) are a key part of our cosmos, whether we like it or not.

[…] [Wakboth] has no cult. There’s nothing to contact. If he could be contacted, it would lead to the end of the world. In short, he doesn’t have a cult… yet.

That sounds… very ominous, in a Call of Cthulhu way…

A couple more relevant quotes and notes:

  • Arachne Solara is a rank above all of [the gods]“.
  • Several gods are in the “Greater God” list because they are “owners” of a Rune (like Mastakos owning the Movement Rune). You can find the list of owners in the Glorantha Sourcebook or the Guide to Glorantha.

Anyway, I’ll let you look at the whole list and draw your own conclusions from Jeff’s additional comments.

Next is this other note about cosmically minor gods that are culturally important. This is where we find deities like Issaries and Oslira, who have a lot of worshippers and have very important roles in society, but don’t have any important role in the cosmos. Oslira is “just” a river after all. Oh and Yelmalio is there too of course… if anybody wants to start a debate…

There’s yet another note for the gods of the East Isles specifically, since this is where there’s basically one god for each island. But they’re all minor or very minor in the grand scheme of Glorantha’s cosmology.

More on Yelmalion Character Concepts

Speaking of Yelmalio, last week I shared a comment from Jeff on Yelmalio character concepts, and mused a bit about treating Sun Dome temples as “community centres for frontier people”. It looks like Jeff expanded a bit more on Yelmalion PCs on Facebook… and as usual had to defend the Yelmalio cult write-up against people who don’t find it compelling enough.

Yelmalio’s gifts are really where you get cool opportunities. […] Now if you don’t think any of those could be incredibly useful for a player character, then I don’t know what to do with you.

And if I am fighting in darkness, the ability to see in near darkness or to make things as bright as the noon day is not to be sneered at.

It’s funny because, as a gamemaster, I often forget to give a penalty to my players for fighting in darkness. I don’t know why — probably too much stuff to think about and do when a combat scene starts. Now that I have a Yelmalion in my party, I might remember it more often to make him shine (literally).

This other note on Yelmalio clarifies what he is about and what he’s not:

Yelmalio is the Solar deity found where Yelm’s imperial rule does not reach. Associated with the planet Lightfore, his cult brings Light to the darkest frontiers, and he is found among the Lightbringer barbarians and the elves. […]

One mistaken assumption is that Yelmalio is the god of pike warfare. He’s not, although the Spear and the Arrow are his weapons. His temples developed a means of fighting in an organised and disciplined manner for their own mundane survival, but that is a historical development, and not something from Yelmalio’s deeds.

I think this distinction is what trips many new and old hands to Glorantha and RuneQuest… but it’s arguably not very well described in the rulebook anyway.

More material for your world-building and adventuring:

Initiates work two weeks per season for the cult, normally doing local militia duties. This is comparable to the six weeks a year Orlanth initiates spend defending their temple – again basically militia work. The main difference is the Sun Dome Temples do militia work in Dark Season, and few Orlanthi communities do.

So remember, most Yelmalio cultists are farmers or herders. Most are militia, not mercenaries.

Again, the rulebook doesn’t explain this, and the text actually heavily suggests an all-mercenary cult. Hopefully the Cults books will explain this better?

Daliath’s Well

Chaosium’s Gloranthan resources website is called The Well of Daliath, but do you even know what that is?

At the bottom of the ocean is a Sacred Well that reaches down to the mysterious underworld waters of the Styx, the primal waters that arose from the Void. Those who drink from the Well are inspired with secret wisdom and sapience that comes from beyond mere reason and knowledge.

Daliath is the Keeper of the Well, and guards its secrets carefully. Only those gods and heroes that earn the right to drink from the Well are permitted to sip from it.

In Call of Cthulhu, all you need to do is make an “Idea roll”, just sayin’…

Anyway, I guess that when Divination isn’t enough to answer an important question, your PCs can heroquest to the Well of Daliath to get their answers. Jeff says that earning the right drink from the well often means getting “purified in Nelat’s Baths“. Nelat is one of Triolina’s husbands. He’s often described as a bald, robed guy holding two shells in his hands… I assume however that this is the human depiction of this god. It would be very weird for water races to depict their god as a bald guy?

Either way you’re headed into Water pantheon myths… which might prove tricky given how few PCs I’ve seen have ever had a Water Rune!

The Zola Fel Valley

Speaking of water, here’s a short note on the Zola Fel valley in Prax. Not much to report except that there’s a nice map scan:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The Monomyth

Jeff, on Glorantha’s famous “monomyth”:

Glorantha is a unified setting – by that I mean that all of its pieces fit together to form a whole. The cosmology of Glorantha can be fit together to tell an overall story – popularly called the Monomyth. All that really means is that discrete myths have been assembled to tell a consistent narrative.

There’s a lot of variation of course, but the monomyth, as I understand it, establishes the basic narrative structures and actors involved in the setting. It was “researched” in-world by the God Learners, but it’s also used out-of-character to make sense of the setting and give some foundation for game designers and gamemasters to build upon. In many ways, the God Learners are the game designers’ proxy inside the world.

This monomyth is what sets Glorantha apart from many other settings, in my opinion. Not because these other settings lack a “monomyth”, but because Glorantha explicitly puts it in front of its players. This tells gamemasters and players to use it as the playground for their stories, which is what, I think, is sometimes interpreted as Gloranthan games having a more “mythological feel”.

The Size of a Tribe

Do you still need to tweak your world-building spreadsheets? Here are some of Jeff’s thoughts on tribal sizes in Sartar. I doubt there’s anything you don’t already know, though.

Solar Pentans

This next note however might be worthy of your spreadsheets! Here are some cult distribution numbers for Solar Pentans. As a reminder, the Pentans live in the large steppes north of the Wastes. These steppes span from the Lunar Empire to Kralorela in the East. I generally think of the Huns and other such nomadic people as inspiration for the Pentans (insert Gloranthan grognard telling me I’m all wrong here).

We have a Yelm and Dendara (Yu-Kargzant and La-Ungariant in Pentan) among the nobility and the Pure Horse tribes. Yelmalio and Eiritha (Karbzant and Cow Goddess) among the rank and file.

That makes sense, but the numbers seem a bit weird to me. Out of a total of 400k adults, we have 120k Yelm and Dendara cultists versus 180k Yelmalio and Eiritha cultists. This means that 30% of all adults belong to this “nobility”. I guess the Pentans have very good social mobility… or a very inefficient ruling class!

Now imagine how dangerous it could be if someone could unify all the Solar tribes – that’s a pool of over 150k+ cavalry! This is something that easily can overwhelm the Lunar Cavalry Corps, especially if it has even middling magical backing, and then simply go around the foot. Remember there are also three Storm Tribes, which provide even more force.

I didn’t know about the storm-worshipping Pentan tribes but they exist apparently: there are three of them, for a total of 200k Storm Tribe nomads.

They worship West King Wind, North War Wind, South Rage Wind, East Sting Wind! New gods that have been embraced by many Pentans since the genocide of the Nights of Horror. It’s all is there in the Guide!

Anyway back to the Pentans as a whole:

You can see that Dranz Goloi, whose Voor-ash Confederation include two or three Solar Tribes and two or three Storm Tribes is an existential threat to the Lunar Empire. He’s far far more dangerous than the loss of Dragon Pass, Prax, and the Holy Country. So much so, that even the Dragonrise seems small potatoes to the Red Emperor and his court in Glamour. Who cares what the Orlanthi are doing there, as the Red Emperor needs to be focused like a Sun Spear on the Voor-ash Confederation. If the Lunar Empire survives that, there is always time to reconquer Dragon Pass.

Dranz Goloi is one of the fascinating Gloranthan figures that I think gets a very short stick in the fan community. He built a coalition out of about half the Pentan tribes and very nearly took down the Lunar Empire. If I were a Lunar strategist, I’d be far more worried about him than some Orlanthi warlord in Dragon Pass.

One of my players has shown interest in visiting the Pentan nomads so I’ve filed this somewhere in my brain for future reference…

Lunar Retribution

This thread on the BRP Central forums asks the question that anybody playing in Sartar during the Lunar occupation eventually has to ponder: how long before the Lunars are onto the PCs? Jeff comments on this:

The Lunar Empire is not all powerful or all knowing. So let’s imagine things circa 1622-1625, back when there was a Lunar Occupation. We have a governor-general (really a satrap) in charge of things. That’s Tatius the Bright. If you want to travel another two weeks, you can appeal to the Provincial Overseer in Mirin’s Cross.

Tatius is kind of focused on the war in the Holy Country and the consecration of the Temple of the Reaching Moon, and most Lunar resources have been committed to these two projects, as these will cement his legacy and that of the Assiday family. If he hears that some Provincial officer got killed along with his militia-followers, he’s going to demand that his local allies deal with the situation rather than waste his time. Only if your actions threaten the war in the Holy Country or his temple-building project (or threaten key foundations of either – such as liberating one of the cities of Sartar) is he going to throw his own resources into the fray.

The aforementioned “local allies” are any Lunar-friendly tribe in this case. Lunar “collaborators” aren’t only the PCs’ enemies because of their opinions, but also because of their action: they’re going to hunt down and imprison/exile/extradite/kill any troublemaker that the Lunar Empire points at.

After the Battle of Auroch Hills, many tribes are effectively autonomous, as Tatius needs to focus everything he can on the war in the Holy Country. But these tribal “rebellions” are little more than large-scale banditry. The next year, Tatius sends the Lunar Army to besiege Nochet, and if that falls, who cares about pin-pricks from the Culbrea tribe? 

1624 is a nightmare year. The Lunar Army is routed in Esrolia and has to retreat a couple of hundred kilometres through Esrolia and Beast Valley to get back to Sartar. I wouldn’t be surprised if detachments of the Lunar Army takes out their humiliations on any rebels it can, especially near the Royal Roads. But things are certainly getting tight from the Lunar perspective – and now Tatius is acting directly. King Broyan is killed near the Troll Woods in 1625, and a Praxian Army is defeated by the Lunar College of Magic (and its Chaotic allies) at Hender’s Ruins shortly thereafter. But by Earth Season, Tatius is finally ready to deploy his masterstroke – the consecration of the Temple of the Reaching Moon, which will extend the Glowline over Dragon Pass and the Holy Country (and much of Prax). The massive magical energies of this location will be harnessed and Dragon Pass quickly pacified.

Of course things don’t quite go as expected.

So unless the PCs are involved in spycraft with the Holy Country, or engaging in terrorism against the Lunar temple’s construction site, they will probably only get in trouble from whoever is the closest Lunar friendly tribe. But of course, I’m trying to get my players to get into one of the first options…

Since I quoted and wrote this, Jeff actually expanded on his thoughts on Facebook again. There’s a lot of extra information in the second part, including the fact that the vast majority of Lunar soldiers was in the Holy Country between 1622 and 1624, leaving only a couple thousand soldiers in Sartar and Prax respectively. Plus, Jeff tells us how dire the situation looks like from the perspective of Glamour in 1625, and what might look like the most important priorities. Interesting stuff.

The Moonburn

Talk about Lunar retribution: Jeff tells us more about the Moonburn, the time when the Lunar Empire went nuclear against the Aldryami forest of Rist, utterly destroying it with a rain of crimson fire.

I had to look it up to understand what was going on (Jeff’s use of “as we all know” here makes me chuckle, as it often does).

It’s the early 1290s and, as I understand it, the Lunar Provinces of “today” (Darjiin, Sylila, and so on) are still free. But this is the First Wane of the Lunar Empire and the Red Emperor needs to take the biggest kids in the schoolyard and beat them up real good to show everybody who’s the boss. Some of these small kingdoms had alliances with each other, and with the elves of Rist, a forest locatged between Darjiin and Sylila.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

You can find it between the Yolp Mountains and the Palace of Flowers on the “modern” Argan Argar Atlas map above… well, it’s labelled “Rist” but there’s no forest. No shit. It was burnt down bad.

Most of the note is the same text you’ll find in the Glorantha Sourcebook, if you want to learn more about it, such as looking up this Char-un and Skyburn business. I’m out of time so no more notes from me here.

Rist had an area of approximately 6200 square km, so more than 6 times the area of the lands claimed by the Colymar Tribe. Although some of the groves survived because of elf defensive magic, this was still destruction on an incredible scale. Let’s put aside the tens of thousands of sentient beings that died horribly – this was also vast physical devastation of trees, animals, and you name it.

Runners up for the worst crime are: First Battle of Chaos and the Skyburn. Those early Lunars knew how to make an omelet!

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 Best Game Aid for RuneQuest

Austin Conrad wrote a blog article about Q-Workshop’s Runic dice, which he uses for inspiration when he has to improvise.

Q Workshop—known for its decorative dice for many different roleplaying games—produces a line of dice for RuneQuest which, no joke, changed how I gamemaster. The face of each die is marked with one of the game’s eponymous Runes. For example, the D6’s faces have small Water, Earth, Moon, Fire/Sky, Air, and Darkness Runes on each of the die’s faces, from one to six.

You can get Q-Workshop’s dice here and here. I myself have the beige set pictured above. You can see the Runic D20 on the second picture

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 18: The Travels of Biturian Varosh (Part 5)

Drew Baker is back to accompany Ludovic on the last leg of Biturian Varosh’s travels! We share crazy conspiracy theories, nerd-out on logistics and prices, complain about heroquesting, and more as we reach the end of RuneQuest’s Cults of Prax.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Get Khan of Khans While You Can!

The absolute best way to introduce anybody to Glorantha, the Ennie-winning, simple and fast-paced fun board game “Khan of Khans“, is sadly being withdrawn from sales soon, so grab it while you can!

The Chaosium blog explains:

Due to our licensing collaboration with Dr Reiner Knizia concluding at the end of the year, we will be withdrawing both titles from sale on December 31st, 2022.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Of note, the Call of Cthulhu themed Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection board game is similarly going out of print at the same time. You can order Khan of Khans and Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection, from Chaosium.

I already have Khan of Khans, but I just bought a second one while ordering some Call of Cthulhu stuff… it will come in handy for a gift at some point, I’m sure.

A New Hero: Episode 10

This great actual play of RuneQuest, GMed by James Coquillat, continues to delve deeper into the Upland Marsh! There is probably some vampiric shenanigans going on, based on the description and what I have seen catching up to Episode 8. Note that, as of Episode 7, Bridgett and Dave are joined by Harli, who plays a young Humakti assistant-priestess who gets a sudden promotion…

Jonstown Compendium

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

The Indagos Bull

© 2022 Rob Marcus & Chaosium Inc.

This short Praxian investigation scenario by Rob Marcus already has a 5 star review from Nick Brooke:

It is two days before the Eiritha High Holy Day, and Farmer Jyles’ prize bull has gone missing!  The Eiritha priestess is worried that the community blessing ceremony will be affected.  However, there is a rumour that Jyles’ neighbour has a secret, and Jyles’ lazy son has been looking pleased with himself.

Contains details of Indagos town, Pavic meat trade, farming in Prax, and what happens when you tangle with a Hazia Elf.

Rubble Runners Volume 2

Jon Hunter follows up the first volume with another set of NPCs from Pavis. In addition to the NPCs themselves, there are short write-ups for contacts, companions, and scenario hooks.

Hydra: Adventurers from the Lunar Provinces

Hydra is a sourcebook for creating adventurers from the Lunar Provinces (Aggar, Holay, Imther, Tarsh, and Vanch). Twenty adventurers are also provided, so you can use that book for pre-gens or NPCs, too.

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.

Geographical Context in Central Genertela

Jeff does this occasionally: he provides a bit a geographical context about this or that place, maybe with a reference photo or two, so that you can better picture that place the same way he does (you might still go on to play it differently, but there’s value in knowing what the designers have in mind!)

Since a good chunk of Chaosium was away on multiple conventions such as Dragonmeet and PAX, I suppose Jeff had a good quiet week and that’s why there are quite a few notes on that topic!

Prax and the Wastes

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The note on Prax and the Wastes shouldn’t have anything surprising in it. As I think back on my first discovery of Prax, the main misconceptions I had were:

  1. Praxian nomads live in Prax: that’s sadly not true, and I wish they would have a different name (I notice Jeff uses “Animal Nomads” once instead of “Praxians”). It turns out they spend a lot of time riding around Genert’s Wastes, too… which makes sense because nomadic tribes of that size (almost 400,000 people) need a lot of space, and this went into my original pet peeve of “Glorantha is too small for its own good“.
  2. Chaparral deserts are just an endless flat plane of dry land with some scrubs: that was obviously my own ignorance on the topic (not many deserts in Western Canada or France…) but I realize now that Prax is probably a lot more geographically interesting than I originally thought.

If you want to better picture how the nomad tribes move around the Wastes, don’t forget this map by David Scott that shows the various grazing lands:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Peloria

Grasslands of Sylila – Photo by Jeff Richard

This note on Peloria is more about the climate than geography (plus a bit on agriculture) but it has one interesting thing: some reasoning about why Lodril is both a god of Pelorian farmers and a god of volcanic fire… what’s the link between the two?

And of course there is the occasional basalt flood from Lodril. This was something that troubled me – we know Peloria is the center of Lodril’s cult and yet there is an apparent shocking lack of volcanic activity in Peloria. But of course that is not true – we have accounts of the Ervuthan Lava Beds in Vonlath. and there are no doubt others.

The Ervuthan Lava Beds are a place where the god Antirius buried some bad Dara Happan emperor and his followers using earthquakes and fire, or something. That’s a deep Gloranthan cut, here (I want to thank the search feature in my PDF reader). From a cursory search, Antirius seems to be an early Dara Happan version of Yelmalio, from before Time. This whole Ervuthan Lava Bed incident also happened before Time as far as I can see.

Vonlath is an area of fertile lands that covers parts of Kostaddi and Darjin, smack in the middle of the Lunar Empire. I imagine that it runs along the Oslir river between Glamour and Jillaro:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

While driving across the Snake River Plain, it became obvious – of course there are areas of basalt rock in lowland Peloria, surrounded by grain and rice fields. And these places are of course sacred to Lodril.

The Snake River Plain is a stretch of land in the USA that crosses Idaho (mainly) and features several volcanic buttes.

Okay so we have volcanic rock in various places along the Oslir valley, and in the real world this kind of rock can apparently be crushed into dust as a way to improve soil health and increase agriculture yields. In that way, I suppose that Pelorian farmers only need to worship whoever made that basalt rock. It’s hinted in The Glorious Reascent of Yelm that Antirius got help from the Earth goddesses to accomplish his napalm carpet bombing, and Antirius has a lot more to him than just that, so it makes sense that Pelorian farmers turned to a deity that just symbolizes the creation of basalt — “fire dude burns the earth but in a nice way“. In some way, Lodril could be considered the personification of Antirirus’ weapon, or of Antirius’ “alliance” with Earth at that time. There’s a lot of polytheist gods that started their career as someone else’s magic item or action, after all.

But that doesn’t quite explain to me why Lodril became the primary farmer god, as opposed to a side god that you worship for added soil fertility. I suppose that the Pelorian farmers have such a dull life that all the big penises and hot sex action in Lodril’s iconography was too attractive, and they stopped bothering much with the other very very serious solar gods…

The Quivin Mountains

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

This note on the Quivin Mountains (the small mountain range around Boldhome) features a new version of a map we had previously seen… nice!

One thing I didn’t know:

Part of the mountain range is formed by the resting giant Thorgeir.

That part is the Culbrea Mountains, with the “Shoulder” and the “Knee”. Apparently there’s a whole story about this: the giant Thorgeir gave a cow to Quivin, a half-brother of Orlanth, but tried to take it back later. Quivin slew Thorgeir, and that’s where he rests. And that’s also why there’s another peak called Thorgeir’s Cow here, by the way.

The Quivin Mountains also highlight once again my “Glorantha is too small” pet peeve. This mountain range is, what, a 20 kilometres wide square of land? That’s very small… although technically you can find a few small mountain ranges like that on Earth if you look closely. And after my initial shock I also realized that Glorantha isn’t built from, you know, tectonic activity and erosion: this is where the god Quivin sat down and where the giant Thorgeir fell down. So of course it’s just a handful of peaks in the middle of rolling hills… but it took me a while before this realization. That’s something to keep in mind when you bring new people to Glorantha.

The other “solution” is to simply connect the Quivin Mountains to the Storm Mountains to the south and, lo and behold, you have a still small but much more “realistic” mountain range, similar to, say, the Jura in France.

The Guardian Hills

Guardian Hills – Photo by Jeff Richard

The Guardian Hills make up the area around Swenstown, where eastern Sartar meets with Prax. You can read the note for some climate and geographic data — it’s basically hills with seasonal rivers and mediocre vegetation that looks super awesome to the average Praxian.

The East Wilds

At first I was confused and I thought this was about the Elder Wilds, but no, this is about the East Wilds, which is a different place. Of course. And of course, it’s Ralios, in the western part of Genertela. To be fair, it’s in the eastern part of Ralios. Eastern part of the western part. Okay, sure.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

To orient yourselves: the East Wilds are roughly ranging from Naskorion through Delela to Halikiv (on the left half of that map above), although Halikiv is set apart because that’s troll land. Past that, to the east, is where the Skyreach Mountains (to the north) meet the Mislari Mountains (to the south). So the right side of that map is Esrolia (in the bottom right corner), the Grazelands (right edge), and Lunar Tarsh (top right corner).

Orlanth and his Lightbringer deities dominate the East Wilds, along with Yelmalio, and numerous spirit cults.

While the Orlanthi “dominate” the area, there are also many Hsunchen tribes (which we talked about with Brian Duguid on the podcast). There’s also a Sun Dome temple there from the old days of the EWF… keep that in mind, we’ll get back to it later.

The East Wilds are hostile towards the trolls of Halikiv, and their great hero, Retter the Stalker, unified the tribes of Delela through his raids deep into Halikiv. Despite this, nocturnal troll caravans under the protection of the Argan Argar Chain travel between Halikiv and Safelster. Chaos monsters sometimes invade from Karia.

Beyond the East Wilds are the Western Rockwoods, a high mountain range, with few passes. Kartolin Pass is the easiest and best known, but it is blocked by Castle Kartolin – and beyond is the haunted land of Dorastor.

Safelster is out of the map to the west (that’s the heart of Ralios). Karia is up north near the Kartolin Pass, which you don’t want to go through given what’s on the other side.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The Guide mentions that people have started settling Karia again, and report that “it’s actually not that bad“. Nobody really believes them though… so what’s going on? I guess you’ll have to go there… On the other hand, I’m sure that finding another good pass elsewhere through the mountains (especially one that leads to Aggar or Tarsh) would be super interesting to the Lunars. Maybe your adventurers want to do that instead?

The Sixes of the Holy Country

The Holy Country used to be organized like a magical Disneyland by Belintar until his disappearance.

In the Holy Country, the magical energies of the Sixes work together to complement each other. All Six are recognized by all and yet, each maintain their own identity. The Sixes and their ruling deity are:

– Water (ruling the Rightarm Islands and the Bay) – Magasta (Choralintho, Dormal)
– Fire (ruling Caladraland) – Lodril (Yelmalio)
– Earth (ruling Esrolia) – Ernalda (Maran Gor, Asrelia, Grain Goddesses, Ty Kora Tek)
– Darkness (ruling the Shadow Plateau) – Argan Argar (Kyger Litor, Zorak Zoran)
– Air (ruling Heortland) – Orlanth (Storm Bull, Humakt)
– God Forgot (ruling the Leftarm Islands) – none

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

These elemental powers operate in a lesser manner in the other Sixths, and I imagine Lullian circles with six fields are depicted spinning around each other, clockwise and counter clockwise, to show this.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Llullian circles are coming from the alchemical work of Ramon Llull, a 13th century Spanish philosopher. He used these types of circles a lot in his books:

Creative Commons picture

So going back to the six Runes and deities of the Holy Country, I think the inner circle shows the main ruling power of the sixth (Esrolia/Earth and Caladraland/Fire to the west, the Shadow Plateau/Darkness to the north, Hendrikiland/Air and God Forgot/Law/nothing to the east, and the Rightarm Islands/Water to the south).

I suppose you could rotate the outer circle to make up whatever combination you want — coming up with stories as needed. And speaking of stories…

A God Forgot Story

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Here is a story from God Forgot. Apparently there was indeed a guy named “God-forgets”. Huh, who knew? Also, I love the concept of “accidental worship of the Trickster God“.

Anyway, the story is complemented by some details about how bonkers this area is:

God Forgot has many strange locations. Of course there are the Clanking Ruins (sometimes known as the Machine Ruins or the Factory Ruins), but Casino Town is perhaps the most emblematic of modern God Forgot philosophy. There are many types of gambling places there, as well as a cult which promotes suicide and The Bank, which worships Our Lady of Credit.

If you think about Casino Town, it is a place of about 5000 (so about the same population as New Pavis), centered around gambling places and The Bank. The gambling places are claimed to be temples to Luck and Fate, while The Bank is claimed as a temple to Our Lady of Credit. I doubt any of these “cults” offer any magic – their rewards are entirely tangible.

My first thought is that, on the contrary, the risks and rewards might be completely weird… gamble your ability to scratch your nose when it itches, but maybe you’ll win the ability to cross rivers without getting wet! Or gamble half of your Passions, and maybe you’ll gain a new Rune rating! Basically the sort of gambling that happens in weird folk stories about witches.

Casino Town is famed though. You can go to Casino Town to transform a small fortune into a large one, or lose an ever larger fortune. You pit your skill and wits against manifestations of Luck and Fate. Adventurers from New Pavis and Sartar rub shoulders with Wolf Pirate captains, Trader Princes, wealthy Esrolian noblewomen, and Lunar exiles from Dart Wars or other internal squabbles.

Languages

Here is a simple note on languages in Dragon Pass, and how you’re very likely to hear a bunch of various things at the city market, from Tradetalk to Darktongue. I know that my players very often swear and mutter insults in their “private” tongue such as Firespeech or Old Tarshite!

City Sizes

This note is Jeff musing over the various city sizes in Genertela. Basically: Boldhome and other Sartarite cities are small potatoes. Lunar cities from the old Dara Happan lands are where it’s at. Plus, of course, Glamour, Nochet, and other other couple true metropolises of Glorantha.

The Man Rune

Here are some clarifications on the Man Rune.

The Man Rune is the Form of all mortal sentient beings. The races of the Man Rune include trolls, elves, runners, dwarves, ducks, beastfolk, and triolini, as well as humans. It does not include dragonewts, who enjoy an innate immortality. Nor does it include animals (even if they are capable of sentient thought).

The gods made the Man Rune to make proper servants, and created these first people out of mud, dirt, and/or stone. I’m sure you can come up with other myths where people were made out of maize or wood or whatever you want too (there are such myths on Earth).

In my game we are currently visiting the Golden Age, and even though the Sun Emperor has indeed some humanoid-looking servants that are probably made with the Man Rune, they look substantially different from “normal” humans. In his search for “purity” and “perfection”, the Sun Emperor tried a few designs. There are uncanny-valleyesque servants with absolutely symmetrical facial features, no hair, and no nails, to the creepy-looking servants who have no face at all. It’s fun!

About Dreams

Dreams in RuneQuest can be just dreams, or they can be your soul sleepwalking into the Spirit World. That’s when you have spirits and even gods telling you important stuff… but can you remember it once you wake up?

Navigating the Hero Plane

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff likes to use one of those maps from Greg (above) as the basis for exploring the Hero Plane. This is in fact one of the maps we used during our heroquest at ChaosiumCon.

So when thinking about any heroquest, I start by looking at one of Greg’s old Hero Plane maps. This is a map of archetypes – and not the same thing as the Mythic Maps (which show the relationship of known mythic events and how they shaped the world). I think of this like a guide to Dreams or even something like the Sefirot. Perhaps our quest will be to travel from the Home of the Storm Lord over the Bridge through the Calm Air (making your way past the Four Winds) across the Sea of Flames to make your way to the Sky Palace in order to secretly aid the Imprisoned Queen and bring her back to the Womb. We associate these places with mythic events and places (is the Womb the great temple of Ezel, the Paps, or just the Earth Temple basement?), but you create your own story when you go there.

Yep, we did some of that. But we ended up at the White Moon’s palace and broke some shit by mistake. We went through a bunch of other weird scenes and ended at the Pit, trying to save Orlanth… fun times.

Then arm the players with a few stories. Maybe they learn a secret from a God Learner scroll that it is possible to befriend Mr. Racoon who can sneak you into the Imprisoned Queen’s chambers. Or perhaps they learned something in the Cradle that lets you travel across the Black Sea to the River Styx or realize that they already saw this scene in Kakstan’s Art Gallery. However you do it, try to tie this into their experiences in the game.

If they have already been on a heroquest, even better – rope that experience into this.

My current heroquesting game has the Trickster equipped with such inside knowledge: the Golden Age has invaded the tribal lands, but he knows about a backdoor in the Sun Emperor’s ziggurat… they just got there last week, so we’ll see if that helps, or makes things worse…

Anyway, read the note for more advice from Jeff… while we wait for the official heroquesting rules of course.

Detecting and Tolerating Chaos

This thread on BRP Central features a couple of comments by Jeff on the presence of Chaos in our midst:

Unlike most other organized states in Genertela, the Lunar Empire tolerates the worship of Chaotic entities. The Crimson Bat, Primal Chaos, Nysalor, and of course the Red Goddess are state sponsored Chaos cults. But ideologically it is difficult for Lunar officials to prohibit worship of Vivamort, Krarsht, Mallia, Thed, etc.

Now many things these cults do – murder, rape, spread of disease, etc. is going to get repressed by Lunar officials. But even the Orlanthi have Black Fang and Lanbril. Even in the Lunar Empire these cults need to operate in the shadows away from Yelms light. But of course it is much easier for them to exist than in Theyalan lands where their very existence is taboo.

The same way that I use organized crime as an inspiration for some Chaos cults, you can also use real world governments as inspiration for how the Lunar Empire walks a fine line with regards to these cults. For instance, the US government deals with a lot of nasty organizations behind the scenes… take a look at the FBI and, obviously, the CIA’s history. That’s all you need to know to get a plausible Lunar Empire that condemns Broos and Vampires but also works with them when needed. On this, Jeff explains:

And of course more obvious manifestations of Chaos are going to get the ire of some power non-Red Goddess cults in the Lunar Heartlands. For example, Yelm is an enemy of Bagog, Cacodemon, Krarsht, Krjalk, Primal Chaos, Thanatar, Thed, etc.  The Yelm cult is an enemy of the Crimson Bat, but the head of the Yelm cult, the Red Emperor, officially tolerates the Crimson Bat. 

So although Thanatar’s existence is tolerated by the Red Emperor, the Thanatar cult needs to operate largely in the shadows. Broo are tolerated by the Red Emperor, but if they start acting broo-ish, they still get hunted down and killed (unless they can be made useful and sent against enemies of the Emperor). I imagine that religious riots and angry protests happen even in the Lunar Heartlands.

In game what that means is that Thanatar cults exist in the Lunar Heartlands, but they are likely covertly coopted by the Red Emperor and other Lunar officials. They are tolerated, so long as their actions do not threaten the social order or the Lunar religion. Of course, such cults chafe at such restrictions, so from time to time the Red Emperor uproots them.

Of course in “pure” Orlanthi (non-Lunar) lands, there’s no head of state that tolerates any Chaotic shenanigans. But even there it can get tricky:

Something a lot of people seem unclear about – there is no universally accepted way to know something is Chaotic. Some cults claim to have magic that identifies chaotic things but that magic curiously fails when confronted with some obviously Chaotic entities. The Storm Bull cult is sworn to destroy Chaos and claims to be able to “sniff” Chaos. But even their senses fail to register some obviously Chaotic things – so clearly there is secret Chaos everywhere.

Statistics dictate that most Storm Bull initiates will, what, detect Chaos correctly only half the time? Two thirds of the time? Plus all the fumbles where their senses completely betray them and they completely fuck things up? Sure, they’re loud and drunk and dangerous, but I think their word is taken as one indicator, not as the absolute truth.

People with third arms, glowing eyes, weird misshapen bodies, goat heads, etc., are obviously Chaotic. In Theyalan or Malkionni lands such people are often accused of being Chaotic monsters and killed, or just lynched by angry mobs (assuming they can muster the courage to act). In the Lunar Empire such people are accepted as people and judged by their actions. That being said, iff there are unsolved crimes, such people are often accused of being active worshipers of evil Chaotic deities and blamed for the crimes. But they at least enjoy the official tolerance and protection of the Lunar rulers.

I also like this suggestion by Jeff that things can be confusing or misleading:

[…] Chaos Gift and Chaos Features usually have overt manifestations. But is that tusked monster a human with a Chaos Feature or just a dark troll? Is that a broo with a harmless appearing Chaos Feature or just a satyr? 

Within most human societies, Chaos cults are viewed as an abomination. Theyalans, Praxians, Malkioni, trolls, elves, etc., aren’t going to tolerate the worship of Chaotic entities in areas they control. When they learn of such activities, they are going to stop it with force if they can (the Storm Bull cult is kind of ideal for this).

Of course, this assumes the authorities: 1. know that Chaotic worship is going on, and 2. can stop it at a reasonable cost. Most Chaos cults operate in secret or far away from their enemies. Many Chaos temples are hidden and well defended. For example in Dragon Pass, Snakepipe Hollow and the Upland Marsh have the most Chaotic activity- these are places that are dangerous to go to and it is easy to hide your activities there. There are likely other Chaos cult activities, but they need to stay hidden and secret, lest they are killed by trolls or local authorities. This helps explains the survival of Krarsht, for who is better at hiding than the Hungry Mother?

The Lunars are different. Chaos cults are not viewed as abominations per se, but are judged on whether they serve the interests of the Red Goddess and her temporal viceroy, the Red Emperor. So maybe a Thanatar temple can operate under the supervision of the local satrap, IF it pays enough money, agrees to not commit crimes against Lunar cultists, and performs plenty of useful services to the local magistrate. Maybe the local magistrate will turn a blind eye to the activities of the local Krarsht ring for money and services. And as long as the satrap is fine with this (and remember they are pretty much all Red Goddess initiates), then no problem. But if the Chaos cults cause problems for the satraps (especially if they cause disturbances that make tax collection difficult), then hunt them down and kill.  

Yelmalion Character Concepts

At first glance, Yelmalio seems so one-dimensional that it’s hard to imagine Yelmalion character concepts as anything else than soldiers and guards. But Jeff has some interesting comments on this:

Yelmalio is the Frontier God of Civilization. He brings Light to the quarrelling Storm tribes. He is a god of honour, a god of citizen-soldiers. He has a soldier aspect, a mystic aspect, and even a scholar aspect. His cult preserves their ways and identity despite being greatly outnumbered by those who do not follow his ways.

The “naive reading” of Yelmalio’s myth is that he kept some lights on during the Great Darkness, helping people against the creatures of Darkness and Chaos. But I guess that this “light” could be anything. He’s here to help the people who are in shitty situations and shitty places.

I suppose that’s why you can find Sun Domes, or at least Sun Dome ruins, in several remote places of Genertela. Remember that Sun Dome temple I mentioned in the East Wilds above? Maybe it’s helping the local with more than just stabbing Chaos creatures and trolls. Maybe it helps with food, water, literacy, traditions, hunting, agriculture, and so on too… not necessarily directly, but possibly by acting as a platform that boosts these things, sort of like a friendly community centre that hosts courses, activities, and conventions or something. I’m not sure yet where this goes, but it’s intriguing.

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.

RuneQuest Marketing by Kieron Gillen

Photo by Kieron Gillen

Kieron Gillen, author of many fine comics including The Wicked + The Divine and, for the roleplayers in the audience, DIE, has recently taken a closer look at RuneQuest after many years of passing it by… he has some opinion about how Chaosium should market it:

Everyone goes on about Runequest being this classic RPG fantasy world of bronze age culture and myth and stuff, but they could have just skipped all that and just said YOU CAN PLAY A LADY WHO RIDES A BISON AND USES A LANCE ON BISON-BACK.

As a teenager, I always thought Runequest as the sort of RPG that grown-ups with 1970s beards would play and then perhaps have a fondue, but THERE WERE BISON RIDERS ALL ALONG.

The Runequest fans who are noting all the other awesome stuff in Runequest are making my point. LEAD WITH THE LLAMA WARRIORS. Call the game RUNEQUEST: YOU CAN RIDE A FUCKING BISON. Don’t let someone who’s played RPGs all his life reach the age of 47 and not know this.

Vasana riding a bison is also my favourite thing from my early discovery of RuneQuest and Glorantha so I totally agree here.

Coffeemancer’s Art Dump

I love Coffeemancer’s meme-friendly art so much that we actually interviewed him for the Glorantha Initiation series! He recently dumped a bunch of old and new art on Twitter and it’s wonderful… Here are some Lunars and Orlanthi in the style of the Asterix comicbooks:

Next are some Hippo riders, and a Garsting war-chariot (“I imagine the Garstings to be descendants of a Wheel clan and the goat herders that roamed around the Oslir river“):

Coffeemancer’s current game seems to be located in the Torkani tribe, so he drew their Torkani adventurers:

Dan Barker’s Troll Statue

Illustrator Dan Barker has made this Troll statue drawing and is wondering if he’s going to finish it… what do you think?

© 2022 Dan Barker

Bryon Reviews The Red Book of Magic

Bryon is done with the Weapons & Equipment Guide (mentioned last week), and now he’s doing the RuneQuest spellbook… letter by letter! Well, not like, each letter of the text (although I would frankly love to see someone do that), but the first video is all the “A” spells.

Thank you for reading

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

Drew Baker is back on the show to accompany Ludovic on the last leg of Biturian Varosh’s travels. Sadly Joerg could not make it this time, and stayed behind in Pavis to rest.

Introduction

Drew introduces himself and talks a bit about the upcoming book 4 of Duckpac, the last in the series about playing Duck characters in RuneQuest Glorantha. The three first books are available here:

Appropriately for the topic at hand, Drew also wrote “Highways & Byways“, a book on travelling across Dragon Pass. All the other books by Drew can be found here.

Ludovic mentions that the Glorantha Initiation Series has reached the end of its “first season”, so to speak, but that other interviews with newcomers to Glorantha will be scheduled soon.

Drew mentions New Pavis: City on the Edge of Forever, by Ian Thomson and friends, which is a reprint of some of the materials from Ian’s old “Pavis & Big Rubble Companions“, which are hard to find these days.

Main Topic

As this is part 5 in our series on Biturian Varosh, Drew and Ludovic tell the story so far.

You don’t need to be an old grognard from the 1970s to get Cults of Prax: it’s available in Print-on-Demand and PDF from Chaosium.

Kyger Litor

Ludovic tries to bring up the fandom in-joke about Kyger Lytor having had more write-ups than any other cult somehow… (RuneQuest 1st and 2nd editions, Cults of Prax, Trollpak, and then in RQ3’s Gods of Glorantha, Trollpak, and Troll Gods, and I might still be missing some other ones)

Where is this Trolltown that Biturian goes to? It’s not on the Argan Argar Atlas or the Guide to Glorantha, so we speculate a bit (including the fact that it might be just about too small to show up on those maps). We also take a quick tour of the region, which has been developed with new landmarks since Cults of Prax was written.

We take a closer look at the troll population in this settlement, and how trollkin are treated.

Speaking Old Pavic to reduce the Bargain skill… it depends on the language rules in play.

How is Bladesharp called in practice in Glorantha? Biturian probably uses God Learner shorthand or Tradetalk terms. Ludovic mentions Austin Conrad’s head-canon about Tradetalk terminology and its use in non commercial contexts.

We looking at the items that Biturian trades with the trolls… and conclude that the trolls are French. Not the Morokanth, which Drew pictured as French because of the RuneQuest 3 Gloranthan Bestiary cover for some reason:

Drew has a theory involving framing trolls for Orlanthi rebel activities.

Next we look at dragon teeth and figure out what size those might be, depending on what kind of teeth they are.

What’s up with animal tails? Ludovic has a “completely bonkers conspiracy theory”. Drew has a much more reasonable one.

The Kyger Lytor priestess is on a heroquest, of course… is everybody heroquesting in this story?

Which ancestor do you get when you trade the Summon Ancestor spell? Drew and Ludovic exchange opinions.

A bunch of trollkin get trampled, which is both awesome and sad.

Zorak Zoran

We revisit the question of whose ancestor spirit shows up when you cast a spell you got from someone else. Ludovic also assumes that Biturian got lucky by not getting a malign ancestor or a weak one.

Biturian is packing good healing magic for RQ2 rules… but healing a severed arm is a lot more accessible in RQG.

Drew thinks about the poor Chalana Arroy (from the last episode) who went on a heroquest with Biturian’s spells inside a Truestone… assuming that things didn’t go very well since she had to cast all these spells for Biturian to get them back by now.

Drew does some forensics on the combat between Biturian’s camp and the trolls, making fun of Biturian’s motivations in the process.

Drew has a problem with Rurik, who is (of course!) heroquesting. Ludovic makes up a stratagem to get more out of Rurik.

What has made the Zorak Zorani to attack the camp? What is Rurik doing around here? Ludovic and Drew have theories.

We look at Biturian’s use of the Lock spell and, again, have a quick thought for the poor Chalana Arroy adventurer.

The Zorak Zorani blood vengeance is mentioned, along with the tricky prospect of having to explain to berserker trolls that Biturian didn’t technically kill any troll.

Aldrya

We reach the Redwood Forest, which was unnamed back in Cults of Prax, but is featured in the Argan Argar Atlas maps.

Drew spots an error in the dates, which is also present in the Cults Compendium. Ludovic mentions some typos in the new PDF version of Cults of Prax, possibly from OCR gone wrong.

Ludovic talks about the bow seeds and how cool it is that Aldryami grow their tools. We actually have an episode on the Aldryami and everything else that’s cool about them.

Drew goes over the increasing foreshadowing of Morak’s true nature by way of the Aldrya cult’s limitation for lay members, which indicates that Morak is most likely a Beastfolk.

It is implied that Biturian and Norayeep eloped, possibly back at the Pairing Stones.

The Beastfolk can be found outside of Beast Valley in elf forests so it makes sense they would be Aldrya lay members at the very least.

Drew has another cynical theory about Biturian’s motivations here, as Morak is taken by the local Minotaurs.

Epilogue

We chat about the travel logistics of Biturian, and his wedding costs.

Drew puts on his “Joerg hat” to mention the “Biturian is on a heroquest” theory, but Ludovic doesn’t buy it… although he is intrigued by the “inception” aspect of a heroquest inside a heroquest.

We take a look at Vareena Coweye, the Bison Rider chieftain’s wife, her role in the wedding, and what magics she could be casting.

Drew goes back to the wedding costs in detail, because, of course, he has crunched the numbers for you! We compare these costs to Biturian’s gifts to the Bison Rider chieftain’s wedding (which we talked about back when the podcast was named “Wind Words”). Ludovic theorizes that the Bison Rider tribe paid for the whole of Biturian and Norayeep’s wedding in return.

Drew thinks that the elves will scam the Bison Riders with their deal on freed elves vs bison tails.

Outro

Drew tells us what became of Biturian in the RQG timeline, and quotes Greg from the letters found in the Stafford House Campaign.

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The Meints Index to Glorantha is Available in PDF

The Meints Index to Glorantha is out! This is the newest edition of Rick Meints’ collector handbook, and a wonderful catalogue of things you will never get to hold in your hands!

In the modern collector’s market, knowing what you need is essential if you want to save time and money. MIG3: The Meints Index to Glorantha (aka MIG3), contains an exhaustive catalog of RuneQuest and Glorantha titles and related products.

Over the last 40 years, Chaosium President and Glorantha Historian Rick Meints has attended a plethora of auctions, consulted a wide range of experts, procured numerous collections, dredged the depths of the internet, and spent countless nights compiling this compendium of products, supplements, and articles.

The first two editions were published respectively in 1996 and 1999, so the third one has a lot to catch up to. Here it is (in an early print version) next to its siblings at ChaosiumCon back in spring 2022.

Photo by Nick Brooke, MIG © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

You can get the newly released PDF here from Chaosium, with a print-on-demand edition coming soon. Interestingly enough, the digital version features a different cover (see below). I wonder if the print-on-demand will also have the cartographic cover, making the “blue cover” preview printing a limited edition item… which might then have to be included in the MIG 4th edition! (Rick describes this “blue cover” as a “provisional” cover, adding that “Along with the regular hardcover version we will also be doing a limited edition blue leatherette with gold foil.“)

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Rick has written more about this book, its history, and its making, in a recent “Out of the Suitcase” article on Chaosim’s blog. It includes even more inception, since the index that John Dallman and David Hall made in the early 1990s became an inspiration, and is now included in MIG3! Oh my.

Photo by Rick Meints

Anyway, get the PDF now, you’ll get a discount coupon from Chaosium later for the print-on-demand version when it’s available.

A New Hero: Episode 09

Chaosium’s RuneQuest actual play continues as James throws his players into some tense scene involving a centaur warband!

Rivers of London is Out

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Chaosium’s newest game is coming out very soon: it’s Rivers of London, based on the novel of the same name (and its sequels). It’s a modern-day urban fantasy setting that is pretty cool, but that’s not the point — even though I liked the book and I’m a sucker for urban fantasy games, this is a Gloranthan newsletter.

No, what I wanted to point you to is that Chaosium is, at least for this title, going back to the early PDF release model. I’m not sure why, since they’ve said previously that they were moving to simultaneous digital and physical releases… My guess is that this is a fluke, and that they already had planned the roll out of Rivers of London with Ben Aaronovitch using the “old” release model.

Anyway, I figured I would mention it here, since I know Gloranthan fans are rabidly awaiting several books, and from the looks of it, the Prosopaedia may be the only new book we get this year (plus the Weapons & Equipment sourcebook, if you only count its physical release). And maybe not even that.

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!

Holiday Dorastor: Moon Elves

© 2022 Stormspearia & Chaosium Inc.

It’s time for another look at Dorastor, courtesy of the official Dorastor Tourism Office, aka Stormspearia. Holiday Dorastor: Moon Elves describes the exotic and titular creatures that are somehow tied to the Red Goddess. And because it’s a Stormspearia book, expect extra skills, spells, scenarios, and more!

Glorantha Maps: Dragon Pass and Talfort

Mikael Mansen continues his cartographic coverage of Glorantha with two new maps. The first one is Dragon Pass and doesn’t need an introduction. The second one is “Talfort“, which is Mikael’s version of Wintertop Fort.

The Final Riddle is Coming

Andrew Logan Montgomery is teasing his next book, The Final Riddle:

The Final Riddle is a short campaign based on Lady Amarj’s infamous Lunar pillow book of the same name. Set in the Great Winter of 1622, a group of desperate protagonists are hired by a mysterious Esrolian noblewoman in New Pavis. She is organizing an expedition deep into the Wastes near Genert’s Throne, seeking the palace of an Earth goddess whose name is lost to Time. As they travel further from civilization, their minds and souls are tested by madness and Chaos, until at last they reach Shum Sarzum, the Copper City, and encounter its final riddle.

The book begins with a lengthy chapter on Illumination and Lunar Sevening, including rules for both. Next there is a history of the pillow book and it’s mysterious author. In the Characters chapter, we provide full RQG stats for all the protagonists of Lady Amarj’s pillow book, playable as pre-generated PCs, as well as rules for designing your own. There is a discussion of dealing with horror and madness in Glorantha and RuneQuest, and “The Weird Wastes,” a chapter on using Chaos in the Wastelands. Then come the actual scenarios. “Pavis in The Great Winter” introduces the characters to their new employer, her Troll bodyguard, and mysterious advisor. The players then cross paths with the famous Kost the Tracker. “The Final Riddle” is the last scenario, detailing the Gods Age city of Shum Sarzum and its inhabitants. Between the two there are a number of “optional” scenarios a GM can chose to run along the journey from Pavis to Shum Sarzum. “The Riddle of the Beasts,” “The Riddle of the Lost,” and “The Riddle of Truth.”

Sounds great, especially since Andrew then adds that this campaign plays more like Call of Cthulhu, and less than RuneQuest. And you know me by now, right?

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.

Road Trip Through Dragon Pass

Jeff and his family are travelling across the US for Thanksgiving, so thankfully for my free time there aren’t really any new “Jeff Notes” this week. However, Jeff is taking a lot of pictures that he uses to illustrate what he thinks Glorantha looks like:

These are all great photos references, but they also indirectly illustrate my big pet peeve about Glorantha: it’s so fucking small. So some of those pictures, taken in Glorantha, wouldn’t look as good because, say, the Quivin mountains are really just a handful of peaks at best. These are mountains that are as tall as “real” mountains, but their mountain range is quite small and, well, “wrong”. Oh well.

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.

SimpleQuest Kickstarter is Live

Newt Newport’s D101 Games has announced the upcoming release of SimpleQuest, a simplified version of the existing OpenQuest (which some people describe as “the subset of RuneQuest that you actually use“).

© 2022 D101 Games

SimpleQuest was the original name for OpenQuest when I started developing it in 2007. Before the game’s release in 2010, I changed its name to OpenQuest to reflect the fact that it was entirely open gaming content under the OGL at the time.

OpenQuest today is much bigger than the short system that was SimpleQuest, since it grew due to customer feedback. But I always had the desire to present a shorter version of the game. D100 systems back in the 80s were very short and direct, one very famous ruleset had an edition that had 23 pages of rules!

The Kickstarter is live, and is already funded. If you want to take a look at an alternative BRP-esque system, and possibly bring a few tweaks to the parts of RuneQuest that drive you crazy (you know they exist!), I’d recommend taking a look at OpenQuest indeed (not to mention Mythras and Revolution D100, among others).

Last Few Issues of Hearts in Glorantha

© 2022 D101 Games

Speaking of Newt Newport, the last available stock for his “Hearts in Glorantha” magazine is still available from the D101 Games website. It was released during the HeroQuest era of Gloranthan publishing, so it doesn’t have RuneQuest stats in it, but it’s still good stuff, and perfectly usable for RuneQuest games!

Exploring Glorantha’s Grazelands

JM and Evan continue their exploration of Glorantha by heading off to the Grazelands! As always, their show notes are available in PDF to their Patreon subscribers, and it’s a great resource for quickly finding stuff when preparing your games.

Bryon Reviews Weapons & Equipment

Bryon has started a video series reviewing Weapons & Equipment chapter by chapter! Above is the first video, but there are six others at the time of writing, all the way to the “armor” chapter.

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.

Zeus Apomyius: Averter of Flies

When looking at the old HeroWars and HeroQuest books, you might quickly get tired with the many names and sub-cults that the Gloranthan gods have, especially the big ones like Orlanth and Ernalda… but think about the Greeks in the 5th century BCE having to deal with the many names and aspects of, say, Zeus, their own Storm King of the Gods. Wikipedia lists almost a hundred of them (I didn’t count but it looks about that long). What the actual fuck.

One aspect of Zeus that I absolutely love is one I heard a historian talk about recently on a podcast. It’s so representative of how polytheism was about practicality, and not dogma as much, for the people of these ancient times.

Illustration of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, by William Lubke, Creative Commons

See, Zeus had this whole new spanking temple built all for himself at Olympia, although there were almost 70 other temples to other deities next door… it was a big religious place. Oh, by the way, Olympia is no way near Mount Olympus, where these gods were supposed to live. Totally different places. Not confusing at all.

Anyway, you have this temple, and lots of other temples around it, and there’s of course a lot of sacrifices being made all the time. That’s a lot of blood, guts, meats, fats, and so on being spilled, examined, cut, grilled, and burned all the time… and that brings a lot of very annoying flies, especially in the hot Greek summer. So the priests of Zeus, knowing that their god is so awesome, made up some story about how he’s also good at swatting flies away with his big hand, and lo and behold they have a new aspect of Zeus, Zeus Apomyius, who you can sacrifice to in order to get rid of the flies.

The irony of having to sacrifice one more animal to Zeus Apomyius in order to not have so many flies while sacrificing other animals was probably not lost on the Greeks of the time… probably some scam from the Olympia temple. Still, they supposedly had a small shrine to that sub-cult on the premises.

Zeus statue in Olympia, Creative Commons picture

Now what does that tell us? Despite the fact that you don’t necessarily need to go with a Gorakkiki troll priest like in Corflu to get rid of annoying insects? Well, to me, it shows how you can spice up your Gloranthan world-building with different aspects and styles of worship at different temples… and it can include things as stupid as “he swats flies away with his big hand“. The main thing to watch out for in my opinion is to keep things thematically consistent… for example, while Gorakkiki controls the insects, Orlanth might use wind to drive them away, and Ernalda might use reptiles to eat them.

If you want to get some actual magics and game mechanics involved, these sorts of local god variants can offer a special Rune spell, or a special Spirit magic spell, or even just have access to special cult spirits that do it all on their own. That’s one cool thing that would differentiate one temple from another, and give your players a reason to travel back to some specific place, such as, for example, the need to come back for worship at least once a year to maintain access to these spells or something.

Did you create any weird, funny, or stupid local aspects or sub-cults of Gloranthan gods? Send it our way and we’ll be happy to share it back!

Two Naiads

These two rivers near Mtskheta, in Georgia (the country, not the US state) are coming down the Caucasus mountains and, apparently, do not agree with each other! Of course, in the real world, various fluid characteristics would explain this picture, and the waters would end up mixing a hundred meters downstream or so… but not in Glorantha!

In Glorantha, I assume that the two naiads are arguing about which one is the main river, and which one is the tributary. It’s possible they’ve been arguing about this since before the Dawn, in which case the locals have learned to deal with it, and maybe even exploit it for fishing and irrigation. It’s also possible that this is a new development: maybe the local shaman messed up, or maybe something happened to those naiads upstream! This calls for some adventurers to investigate!

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 I spent too much time ranting about various things that I didn’t have time to post some cool links and references in the “Arachne Solara’s web” section… sorry about that!

God Learner Sorcery

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

Lore, Tropes, and Goals: The Problem with New Settings

World map by Sebastian Munster (1544), Creative Commons photo

This is not strictly speaking a God Learner thing, but it’s a “Ludo” thing (that’s me) so that counts. Over at my personal blog I wrote an essay that challenges the idea that “too much lore” makes it difficult to approach a setting.

Some people are intimidated by vast amounts of existing lore because they assume that they need to assimilate most of it before they start playing. This is typical with old and multiply-published settings like Glorantha. But that’s not really what’s going on in my opinion.

Think about it for a minute. What is the game setting with the most amount of lore written for it? The Forgotten Realms? Star Wars? Nope, it’s Earth.

Read the rest here. Hopefully you find that article insightful!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Cults of Glorantha Update

Art by Loic Muzy © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The upcoming Cults of Glorantha was originally slated to be done as a slipcase with two books in it. But the manuscript ballooned from 50-ish cults to more than a hundred, plus a Prosopaedia, and oh yeah, a global pandemic mess up both printing and shipping businesses.

So back in August, Rick Meints was “doubting” that it would be a slipcase set:

We expect that the cults material will be about 800 pages of material when layout is finished. Thus, it will be multiple books. That does not include the Prosopedia.

We doubt it will be a slipcase set.

The newest update on this is from Rick again:

The Cults books will not be sold all at the same time. The Prosopaedia will be one of the first ones sold, as its layout is done.

It’s funny to me because we chatted with Rick back in episode 10, and during the interview I asked why Chaosium wasn’t adopting a “splatbook” model for RuneQuest. In this model, I imagined that there would be individual books for cults or groups of cults that players can buy, thus multiplying revenues compared to books that only a gamemaster would buy (this is one of the ways White Wolf made a lot of money with their World of Darkness line). Back then Rick said that it wasn’t quite possible because of how Gloranthan cults are all intertwined with each other… but now we might actually see these cults released in small groups! Lo and behold, RuneQuest gains splatbooks!

Should I take credit for this? Definitely not. Will I take credit for this? You bet your ass I will!

By the way, Brian Duguid (which we just recently chatted with for our episode on the Hsunchen) made this prediction on Discord that the cult books will be split by “pantheon” (which I agree with), and that this is what will be in each of them:

This is all completely useless (but fun!) conjecture of course, but that seems very likely to me. If I had to nitpick anything, I would move a lot of the cult spirits back into their respective “overarching” pantheons. For instance, I would expect that Earth Witch, Kolat, and Sun Hawk would be with the Earth, Storm, and Sun pantheons, instead of in a “shaman cults” book.

Regardless of how Chaosium slices the manuscript, you know that some people will find a way to complain about it anyway. That’s going to be fun…

Give These Creators a Boost

Chaosium is generally very good at supporting their community content creators. Case in point: they have recently given a little push to all the Jonstown Compendium books that are close to earning their first DriveThruRPG medal (the “Copper Best Seller” medal). Of note, they also did the same for the Miskatonic Repository. Time to spend a few bucks and encourage some creators!

A New Hero: Episode 08

The “New Hero” RuneQuest stream continues and I’m still catching up! But I still like it! Looks like they’re still stuck in the Upland Marsh, heee hee.

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.

Lunar Sages vs Esrolian Sages

In this note on Gloranthan education, Jeff compares Esrolian sages of the Lhankor Mhy cult with Lunar sages of the Irrippi Ontor cult. If you don’t know about Irrippi Ontor, it’s… basically the Lunar Lhankor Mhy. He’s one of the Seven Mothers and as most of them, he used to be human and became a god in Time.

If you’ve read the note (otherwise please do so now), you’ll notice that there’s an overlap in topics, but not in the methodologies to study these topics.

For instance, Lunar and Esrolians both study language, but they differ in their approach. The Esrolians reach to the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, with the language known as Auld Wyrmish. Auld Wyrmish is a tricky beast… it’s the language of dragons, but humans had supposedly lost the ability to speak and understand it back around the time of the Dragonkill War, because the dragons were so pissed off. But humans of the EWF also had previously figured a way to put that language in writing — something the dragonewts and other draconic species never needed. So I guess the dragons forgot to destroy the dictionaries and thesauruses, and humans regained their understanding of it from Second Age documents (although note that, by RuneQuest rules, they can’t get higher than 25% in that skill). On a personal note, I find all this quite ballsy: to do something that the dragons were pissed off about… people have short memory, I guess.

Anyway, this lack of draconic perspective is probably what made the Lunars rather oblivious to what was going on under their own temple construction in Sartar, and why the Dragonrise completely took them by surprise… on the other hand, I imagine that Lunars’ language studies involve a lot more etymology, semantics, semiotics, cryptography, and other such things that might be useful for achieving Illumination or, at least, in waging some Dart Wars across the Empire.

Similarly, both Esrolians and Lunars study music, but I imagine that this differs quite a lot too. Esrolians might research old forms of music and try to emulate the non-written components of draconic speech to better understand it (since “true” Auld Wyrmish is “musical” and “includes auditory, olfactory, and empathic components”). On the other hand, Lunars might innovate with modern music, basically the equivalent of ambient and prog-rock or something, in order to, again, help with Illumination.

The difference in how Lunars and Esrolians study metaphysics seems to be related to the sciences they do not have in common. Lunars study “suprasensorial perception”, i.e. all the meditation and LSD crazyness, while Esrolians study “knowledge”, which sounds like our own modern academia. As a result, I suspect that Lunar metaphysics are trying to be, you know, useful, because they could help deal with phenomenon outside of the mundane world. Nysalorean riddles can be redesigned as jazz songs you need to figure out… Meanwhile, Esrolian metaphysics are probably more like dry philosophical debates… although that could also have applications with, say, heroquesting, assuming nobody comes around and yells “that’s God Learnerism!“, that is.

Dealing with Superheroes

Any Gloranthan campaign will likely, at some point, introduce the setting’s “superheroes” such as Argrath, Harrek, Jar-eel, and so on.

These characters are important enough to be their own chits on the WBRM board game. They are heroes, even “superheroes”. Bringing them into your campaign can greatly enrich your players’ experience and immersion into the setting. But if mishandled, they threaten to steal the spotlight away from the players or worse become GM alter-egos.

Jeff outlines a few ways to handle this: put the superheroes in the background of the PCs’ heroic actions, have the superheroes help the PCs but somehow not take their spotlight, make the PCs companions of the superheroes, make the PCs key allies of the superheroes, or see the superheroes as guest stars with cameos in the PCs’ adventures.

Of course, I’ll add that Jeff’s advice is like a buffet — you’re encouraged to mix all these approaches in your game.

Personally, I find that this is one of my big challenges with Glorantha. Not so much because it’s hard to deal with a superhero with monstrous stats and a metaplot, but because I’m so used to telling “street level” stories. With my current RuneQuest campaign, I have to get myself out of my comfort zone and embrace the “epic heroes” aspect of Glorantha, and that doesn’t come naturally to me…

Battle Rules

Jeff talks about mass battle rules in RPGs:

Something I have long been frustrated by is the tendency that RPG battle rules have always been mass combat rules designed to determine the winner of a battle, rather than something player focusing – that tells us what our player characters did and experience in the battle.

This really depends on what the game is about, and what it’s trying to emulate. It feels rather ironic to me that someone who co-wrote a game that tries to finely model how skirmish combat works (complete with hit locations and individual wounds) does not see the appeal in modelling how mass battles work.

But I get it. RuneQuest’s combat is detailed because it deals with the character’s personal experience. Mass combat focuses on the entire battle, and is removed from that character… unless that character is actually the commander in chief, that is. I don’t have a lot of experience with RPGs with battle rules, but the couple ones I’ve seen do make the assumption that the PCs are in charge. As such, they might not even leave their tent at the top of the hill, and the whole thing is played through preparation, alliances, tactical choices, and successful Strategy rolls. Anyway, that’s another topic.

IMO, the GM should determine the outcome of the battle. That can be based on the player character actions (“if you can’t hold this position, the battle is lost” or “you need to defeat the enemy hero or the battle is lost”) or not (frex, in Shakespeare’s Henry V, the English have no idea that they have won the battle until it is over). In the Grand Pendragon Campaign, the battles take the latter approach (even telling us what Arthur rolled on his Battle skill!).

I personally prefer something a little more interactive with the players – give them a chance to have the spotlight on them (even if you have already decided the results of the battle, it is easy to say that the results are because of the players or despite the players).

I’ve seen some people online disagree or even complain about this bit here — especially from those who uphold player agency as of the utmost importance. There’s a bunch to unpack here.

First, the PCs can only influence so much stuff in the setting. Just as you can protest that the outcome of the battle is predetermined whatever the players do, you could also protest that the starting of the battle was also predetermined! Yet, I don’t know if anybody ever complained about that. Maybe it all happened while the PCs were travelling away from home, and they come back to these terrible news. Or maybe the PCs were at the meeting when the peace negotiation turned sour and the declaration of war happened, but if they were just one of the leader’s bodyguards, it’s not like they could do anything… or could they?

See, to me this isn’t a problem of player agency (not directly, at least) but a problem of narrative framing. What are the PCs really doing at the peace negotiation meeting? If they’re bodyguards that stand on the other side of the door only to witness history, that’s not dramatically interesting. However, if they are the bodyguards that can stop the assassin, that’s a lot more interesting. If they stop the assassin, the Kings and Queens realize that he was sent by a common enemy that was trying to weaken their nations by pitting them against each other. If they do not stop the assassin but still catch him after the fact, the situation become extremely complicated but war can still be avoided. And if they do not stop the assassin at all and he escapes, war is declared!

By shifting the story from “the NPCs are negotiating for peace” to “the PCs try to stop an assassin threatening a member of a peace summit“, we shift the focus from the NPCs to the PCs. In doing so, we bring back player agency on world events that they aren’t supposed to be able to affect usually. This is pretty much what Jeff is talking about, I think.

The other point here is that there is a lot of wiggle room even once the GM has decided the battle’s outcome. The players could still shift things a lot within that outcome. For instance, there’s a big difference between “the Lunars crushed everybody and your tribal king is dead“, “the Lunars won and your tribal king has been captured“, and “the Lunars had a narrow victory but have lost many soldiers, so they left your lands mostly unoccupied and your tribal king has escaped“.

The gamemaster could have decided that the Lunars would win either way, but use the players’ actions and their successes and failures to decide between these three aforementioned outcomes. Those are vastly different outcomes that propel the campaign forward in completely different directions. That still qualifies as player agency in my book. And you can mix that with the previous narrative reframing that puts the PCs at the pivotal moments! For instance, one of the battle scenes could have been the PCs stumbling upon their King, wounded and surrounded by Lunar Tarshite soldiers. It’s up to the PCs to fight/intimidate/negotiate and see whether the King dies, gets captured, or escapes. I’ve heard a few people who placed their PCs near Kallyr in the Battle of Queens, and ended up saving her from Lunar assassins, for instance.

What should be the center of the session’s activity is what the players characters do and experience during the battle. Do they spend most of the battle standing in a line dealing with missile weapons and spells? Do they engage in single combat with champions? Do they try to rush an enemy leader or hero? What goes on elsewhere in the battle is usually unknown to the players and they should only learn about it after the battle is over.

The upcoming RuneQuest battle rules (and their cousin, the upcoming Pendragon battle rules) are doing more or less that. We had an early preview of what these rules might look like in the White Bull campaign S02E09 (although I’m sure that was an early work-in-progress version of the rules, so don’t get hung up on details). Back in issue 12 of the Journal of Runic Studies, I had even taken the time to write a summary of what I gathered from the actual play. This might still be useful as we wait for these rules, possibly in the RuneQuest Gamemaster Guide.

Lay Membership and Extra Magic

The short version of this note is: encourage your players to have their PC become a lay member of a few cults.

So for example, IMG, most full-time warriors in Dragon Pass (and Pavis) are lay members of Humakt. That gets Bladesharp, Fireblade, Protection, Parry, Coordination, Vigor, Strength, and all sorts of other good combat-oriented spells. You also get discount training in sword and other combat skills.

This might affect your Gloranthan world-building a bit but yes, it’s not too hard to become a lay member of Humakt — it’s neutral to a lot of cults, and most people who would be interested anyway (Orlanth or Yelmalio cultists) share the same sort of “honourable behaviour” stuff that is required anyway.

So that’s one way to get extra magic, such as a Yelmalian getting Bladesharp. There’s another way: local cult variants. It’s easy to have a particular shrine or temple worship a variant of the god, a notable hero, a special cult spirit, or whatever that provides one extra/different spirit spell or Rune magic.

Note that the “easy” part is on the gamemaster: take a map of Glorantha and throw a dart at it. That’s where that shrine or temple is. The hard part is for the PCs! They need to learn about it, travel to it, and convince the priest or priestess to let them get that spell! If you’re like me, that will probably take three months of gaming…

How Common is HeroQuesting?

Another good question on heroquesting from the BRP Central forums: how common is it? Jeff answers here and here:

Let’s be precise about terms. Every initiate experiences the Gods World and interacts with it every time the deity is invoked with a successful Worship ceremony. But that’s how far most people go. They stick around the God’s Place, witness the god and its allies, but do not stray.

A few people – mainly Rune Lords and Rune Priests – go beyond this, sticking to more familiar paths and interact with powers and entities outside of the god’s control.

Far fewer people – heroquesters –  go off the familiar path and explore the Hero Plane. 

So heroquesting is very common when it comes to worshipping, or acquiring new Rune magic… but it’s so safe and common that it’s abstracted with, at most, a simple roll in the RuneQuest rules. The couple times I’ve had players acquire new Rune magic, I did try to spend at least a minute or two describing the ceremony and the heroquest involved in it. But not more than that.

Most every Gloranthan has some experience “on the Hero Plane.” When you sacrifice POW/regain your Rune Points, you experience your deity and gain the connection that allows you to briefly incarnate that deity in the mundane world. Every time you cast a a Rune spell, we get a momentary manifestation of the deity. I think a lot of people understate this – it is not Vasana who casts Lightning, rather it Orlanth’s Lightning Spear that appears in Vasana’s hands. The god is present with every Rune spell.

But that stuff is handled through the Rune spell mechanics, and not what we likely mean when we talk about “heroquesting” […]

Heroquesting that sticks to “familiar paths” can be played but, as people who went through the HeroWars/HeroQuest ruleset can possibly attest, there was something fishy, gameplay-wise, in going through an adventure for which you know what’s going to happen, and you need to act so that it keeps happening that way. Sure, the rulebooks did recommend to throw a few surprises here and there, but by and large it was a scripted affair.

To gain new powers, new gifts (and new banes and geases), you need to go outside and explore the Hero Plane. You might be armed with your stories, but they are simply guides of how things might be done – and things might not go that way. You need to make your own stories, participate in your own experiences, and risk transformation. That’s not easy – in real life or in gaming. That’s why people keep retreating to the King of Dragon Pass version of heroquesting – it is safer, more predictable, easier to control, and less likely to radically transform your character (and even your cult). But that is not really heroquesting.

So as far as I can tell, the new approach that Chaosium is taking with the upcoming RuneQuest rules is to focus almost entirely on the last category outlined in the first quote: people who treat the God Time like Oz or Narnia or Wonderland or whatever. It’s heroquesting as isekai, more or less. You go to the God Time to try and solve a problem (get some McGuffin, destroy a source of evil, whatever), and you have to survive long enough to get there, and not mess up your community and yourself in the process.

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.

Update on the Escalation! Magazine Lunar Issue

Evan posted this update about the upcoming Lunar issue of the 13th Age focused “Escalation!” magazine:

And the final pieces of the manuscript are now with art and layout. Those “departments” are one fantastic person who does it out of love and kindness and has other real world responsibilities and priorities, so it won’t happen fast, but her part of Red Moon and Warring Kingdoms will be amazing. I feel totally unworthy of the art that has already been produced! All hail the Reaching Moon! We Are All Us

As a reminder, we have seen two pieces of work-in-progress art for this:

Six Ages Sequel Update

Here’s the latest of the Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind sequel, tentatively called “Lights Going Out” (it’s set during the Great Darkness).

The big change that occurred between “Ride Like the Wind” and “Lights Going Out” is the destruction of the cosmic mountain which housed the Celestial Court. Needless to say, the world was a much worse place afterwards.

Here’s an “early draft image“:

© 2022 A-Sharp

As for the current status of the game, they’re getting through the artwork backlog and working on music, testing and tuning. Here’s some artwork:

© 2022 A-Sharp

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 17: People of Glorantha: The Hsunchen

Episode 17 of the podcast is out, and I can now write “Hsunchen” properly the first time! This is thanks to Brian Duguid, author of the Children of Hykim and all-around expert on the Hsunchen. We chat about these stone age people of Glorantha, their totem animals, their culture and magic, and how to include them in your games.

Runic Rants: POW Gain House Rules

Here is a guest article by Austin Conrad, author of the Monster of the Month series (among many other things) and editor on both my adventures (A Short Detour and Bog Struggles). Austin shares his current POW Gain house rules for RuneQuest!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

A New Hero Episode 06: Marsh of the Undead

As previously advertised, Chaosium’s “New Hero” actual play for RuneQuest is back! This makes me happy because I like the whole crew here, but most notably I really like James’ GMing. Anyway, the Varmandi siblings try to figure out what raised the dead near their home in the last adventure… and by doing so have to go near the dreaded Upland Marsh. But it’s not all doom and gloom: they fight a big thing that delights Bridgett and David!

I have caught up to episode 6, but episode 7 is also already out!

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!

Children of Hykim POD Preview

Art by Kristi Jones

If you’ve been listening to our latest episode, you should already be buying Children of Hykim on the Jonstown Compendium… but if you need more motivation, look at this super gorgeous new cover by Kristy Jones that Brian is going to use for the upcoming Print-on-Demand version of the book!

The Crimson King is Coming

Art by John Sumrow

Nick Brooke has a preview of the absolutely amazing cover for his next RuneQuest adventure, The Crimon King. The art is by John Sumrow.

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 Size of Genertela

Jeff talks about the size of Genertela, which is roughly similar to the continental United States.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

When I first got into Glorantha, I found it surprisingly small. Some of it has to do with the tropes I somehow grabbed upon. For instance, the Lunar Empire as a sort of fantasy Roman Empire. But when it comes to geography, that’s totally not the case:

Dragon Pass covers about 67,000 square kilometers. That’s a little smaller than Austria. Or a little bigger than West Virginia.

So if you think about the Lunar Empire, it covers about 390,000 square km, or about 5% of Genertela. That still is enough to make it the largest empire in Genertela.

But even so, the Lunar Empire is comparable to the size of modern Germany (it is a bit bigger). It is not the Roman Empire (which would cover 75% of Genertela).

The other reason I found Glorantha surprisingly small is that you can find dramatic changes in cultures and biomes across very short distances. Prax, its chaparral desert, and its nomads are right next to Sartar with its proto-Celt or proto-Greek (pick your publishing era) Orlanthi. And not too far from there are the sunny rice-paddies of the Lunar Provinces. This all looked very weird to me at first.

Of course, I later realized that this is sort of explained thanks to the massive influence of magic and gods over local climate and crops, for instance. So yeah, there’s a desert in Prax where there probably shouldn’t be a desert because some gods died a long time ago. And it’s a lot sunnier than it should be near the Dara Happan lands because that’s where the sun god’s strength is.

But… you know… still.

One of the things I really like about the scale of Genertela is means that every part of the continent has some contact with the rest of the continent. Let’s give a real world example – Pre-Columbian North America had extensive trade with Mesoamerica, and we know that the Mississippi River Valley facilitated trade between Wisconsin and the Gulf of Mexico. The Iroquois of the 18th century were known to travels from the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Carolinas to wage war on the “Flatheads” (aka the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, etc.), as far as 1000 km away. In Glorantha that’s roughly about the distance from Glamour to Boldhome.

We know that Kralorelans sometimes travel to Dragon Pass and vice versa. Balazarings sometimes make their way to Prax. Merchants from the Holy Country can be found in almost every corner of the continent. People from the Lunar Heartlands make their way to Fronela and Ralios. And so on. The various cultures in Genertela are not hermetically sealed.

Tell that to the people under the Syndic’s Ban… but yes, sure. A smaller world means it’s easier to go murder-hobo’ing around it like Harrek and Argrath. Which is all the more ironic that 40 years of RuneQuest gaming have been focused on New Pavis and Sartar…

The White Bull Society

White Bison by Joanna Patterson-Cross

Speaking of Prax, here’s a note on the White Bull cult that expands into a lot of good contextual information on Prax vs the Wastes, the Lunar occupation, and more. I don’t have anything to add so just read the thing.

Can the God Time Change?

A thread on BRP Central asks whether the God Time can be changed, such as changing the nature of a god or changing the course of well known events. Jeff answers:

The archetypes and patterns of the God Time are eternal and fixed. But what we in Time experience of the God Time, what we call things, what we offer magic points to and draw upon when we use magic – that changes as we mortals do. “Myths” are the stories we tell about the God Time – we can see the God Time in our rites, our ceremonies, and when the Gods World is close to us. Sometimes we can even interact ourself with the archetypes and patterns of the God Time – that’s what we call Heroquesting.

The way I see it is something a bit like the story of the blind men and the elephant. You probably all know that story but, for the sake of God Learner inclusiveness, the gist of this Hindu parable is as follows: a bunch of blind men, who have no idea what the hell an elephant is, are trying to assess what a… well, what an elephant is. So they touch various parts of it and come up with different conclusions. One touches the trunk and says it’s like a snake. One touches the ear and says it’s like a fan. One touches it leg and says it’s like a tree. You get the idea.

Creative Commons image

So that’s how I figure the God Time works. It’s a big ass elephant, and people get a more or less incomplete picture from traditional stories passed down to them, and from heroquesting. If the elephant stomped on a monster that attacked your ancestors in the Great Darkness, maybe you have a story of a big sacred tree trampling your enemies. And maybe another tribe a few valleys from you has a story of the elephant blowing water into a well to give their ancestors something to drink, and now they have a sacred snake that can fix droughts, or something.

These stories are the myths, but they’re only one facet of what really goes on in the God Time. So when you enter the God Time through the rituals of your tribe, you indeed see some big-ass tree stomping poor little monsters… but maybe you can push further. Maybe you can climb the tree, or shine some bright light towards it, and you’ll see that its canopy also looks like bark — something that either escaped your predecessors, or something that was hidden from them because they saw what they wanted to see. Next thing you know, you’re climbing up something totally unknown, and maybe you slide down its trunk and end up in your tribal neighbour’s heroquests, and they go “hey what the fuck, how are you coming from the other end of that snake? we could never find that other end!” (and that’s why they called it “The One-Ended Snake”).

At this point you can completely change the myth (it’s not a story about a snake and a tree, it’s a story about an elephant), while not changing what happened in the God Time — there’s still something thing that brought water to some people, and crushed other people’s enemies. This can bring some opportunities of friendship between the two aforementioned tribes, and so on. The trickiest parts in all this are (1) proving your discoveries to the tribal elders and (2) coming up with a name for the elephant.

Of course, since the BRP Central thread had predictably gone in the “Yelmalio Problem”, Jeff address that next…

Yelmalio – Little Sun – is a title. We apply it to the Light in the Darkness, the light remained when the Sun was killed and the light that refused to go out in the Darkness. We have places where we can meeting the Little Sun, where he is so close you can reach out to touch him. We can walk in his path and ascend to the Hill of Gold and try to fight against the Darkness, but we know that our god was defeated by Orlanth and robbed by Zorak Zoran – that’s part of his definition. If we do not experience that, we do not follow in his path. Like a Jesus who is not crucified.

For those of you new around here, the “Yelmalio Problem” has to do with the many people who talk about “fixing” Yelmalio’s main myth, in which he gets (among other things) attacked by the troll berserker god Zorak Zoran and gets his fire powers stolen (which is why Yelmalio cultists don’t get any fire magic)… as if you were to “fix Superman” by preventing Krypton from blowing up or, as Jeff puts it, “fix Jesus” by avoiding the crucifixion.

Frankly, apart from a few minmaxers, I think (for what it’s worth) that most people are not actually looking to change Yelmalio’s myths. Rather, Yelmalio’s myth is an easy one to grab when you want to try and wrap you head around what the fuck is heroquesting and how the fuck does it work. With its heroquest that contains something you’re supposed to fail, and consequences that affect other myths and cults (Zorak Zoran’s story, in this case, and his cultists’ access to fire magic), it’s got quite a few properties that make it practical for thought experimentation — which is an inevitable step of any newbie Gloranthaphile until we have an actual heroquesting sourcebook that explains all this shit.

But perhaps something we thought was the Little Sun – his Golden Spear perhaps – is something that we can draw power from directly. We can worship the Golden Spear as a god, separate (but associated) with Yelmalio. Or perhaps we see the time that Yelmalio worked with Orlanth and decide to focus only upon that, and call that subset of Yelmalio with the name Elmal. Or perhaps we experience Yelmalio as merely the light that emanates from Yelm, and worship Yelmalio merely as an attribute of Yelm.

Perhaps on a heroquest, we follow Yelmalio’s path, are extinguished but rekindle ourself with our purity. We bring this back to our temple with a new Rune Spell of one-use Resurrection or maybe just Restart Fire.  Perhaps we gain a new gift, not on the list, or take a new geas, not previously seen. In this way, cults may change.

So Yelmalio’s story, his myth, is just one story we tell about the “immutable pattern” of the “Light The Didn’t Go Out In The Darkness”. There could be a completely different story about this… the question is whether this different story covers as many bases as the Yelmalio story, which has been “researched” (heroquesting-wise) for generations. That story needs to cover the same bases as Yelmalio’s in terms of correctly representing all the facets of the original patterns, such as its connection (whatever it is) to the Sun, and so on. Chances are that if you make up an alternate story, it might not model the original pattern as well, and as such you might not draw as powerful magic as through the Yelmalio myth… or maybe you will! Go crazy with your games, I’m not your mom!

As for the Red Goddess, Jeff adds:

Now the Red Goddess was different. She is something that did not exist in the God Time. Our Red Goddess went deep into the Underworld, was defeated and lost, met the Cosmic Spider and was illuminated by Nysalor, and bound the Devil in order to change the cosmos. In short, she used Chaos to break the Cosmic Compromise and create a new archetype that had not existed in the God Time – the Red Moon. Sure there was a broken and dead Moon Goddess, several even. But they were broken pieces of a funhouse mirror. But the Red Goddess reassembled those fragments and used Chaos to do the impossible. 

The only other example that comes close is the use of the Pseudo-Cosmic egg by the Second Council to create a new god – Osentalka the Perfect One.

This all reminds me a bit of Unknown Armies and its Invisible Clergy, made up of 333 “Archetypes” of humanity and reality (The Mother, The Warrior, The True King, The Usurper, etc.) Their Avatars and Godwalkers try to emulate these archetypes as best as possible to channel their most potent magic and, eventually, ascend themselves and replace the previous Archetype. In at least one scenario, someone taps into the zeitgest of the 21st century and attempts to create a new Archetype that didn’t exist before. Does that all sound familiar?

There are a few other games that also follow along similar lines, but Unknown Armies is the one that I like best, and also the one in which this whole idea is best described and executed as far as I’m concerned… at least if you’re into urban horror.

Note that Jeff posted most of this note on Facebook, and as such it’s been archived on the Well of Daliath.

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.

Calling the Praxian Founders

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

The RuneQuest “Call Founder” spell gets some good coverage on this BRP Central thread. Of course, Praxian expert David Scott (who guided us through the Nomad Gods rulebook on the podcast, here and here) shared the most awesome bit, which is a table of possible stats for those founders. With STR and POW in the hundreds, this isn’t your usual cult spirits!

Anyway, David’s table made me go “huh” because I hadn’t really thought of associating each Praxian tribe with a different Rune, like he did here: Bison/Air, High Llama/Water, Morokanth/Darkness, Sable/Moon, and so on. I’m not sure where the rest of the independent tribes goes in this model, but… well… “huh”.

Science and the Lunar Way

Eff is back to writing pseudo-Socratic dialogues for more obscure Lunar lore… with footnotes! (Footnotes make everything look more serious)

Years later, I learned that what I had thought was the great difficulty there- the fact that some facts would block the view of other facts, just as one can only see the first few ranks of trees in a forest- was not that at all, because what I had been taught was a metaphor. 

“Knowledge,” the sagacious lady said, “Is not simply a matter of sensory experience. Do you know that the Sun will rise tomorrow?” I nodded, hesitantly. “How do you know this?” She pointed at me with a curved rule. 

Anyway, time to roll Illumination and see if you can raise both Illusion and Truth.

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.

It’s Tutankhamun Month!

Howard Carter (re)discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, a short-lived Pharaoh of Egypt from the 12th century BCE, in November 1922… which means we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of this seminal archaeological event this month!

Many history websites and podcasts have done at least a few “specials” for the occasion, and I learned a whole bunch of stuff about good ol’ King Tut! From the reasons his tomb was miraculously spared from looters for more than 3000 years, to the sheer amount of stuff found in there (almost 5400 different items!), I realized I had only a microscopic understanding of this guy.

The Ancients podcast is running a number of episodes on the topic. This one with Professor Joyce Tyldesley gives a good overview of the “Boy King”. The second one has Bob Brier tell the story of Carter’s dig, and of who really found the tomb’s entrance, among other historical details.

The excellent Tides of History podcast has an interview of Toby Wilkinson about Ancient Egypt and what we learned from the trove of items from Tut’s tomb. The Ancients podcast actually also had Toby Wilkinson in a previous episode, for the release of his new book on Tutankhamun which shines the light on the most interesting items from his tomb…

If you want to know what Tutankhamun’s trumpets looked like, look at this:

Creative Commons photo

That’s a silver trumpet, by the way. The wooden thing below is the trumpet’s mute.

And maybe you even want to know what they sound like! Well, there’s this:

Of course, we have no idea what ancient Egyptians actually played on these trumpets…

Maybe you’ll be more interested in the Boy King’s board games, which looked something like this:

Creative Commons photo

You can learn more about this sort of game here… anyway, happy tomb-raiding anniversary, King Tut!

Thank you for reading

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

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

This is a guest article written by Austin Conrad. You can find all of Austin’s wonderful RuneQuest content here on the Jonstown Compendium!

Priestess of Delphi by John Collier

One reason I love RuneQuest is the experience system. For me, gaining experience through your adventurer’s actions intuitively connects player activity with the adventurer’s growth. During our time playing RuneQuest, my friends and I have experimented with a variety of experience rules. Lately, we’ve been toying with POW Gain.

In my gaming groups, the most sought experience check is POW Gain. Per the core rules, a successful POW Gain roll nets the adventurer 1D3–1 points of POW. Alternatively, you can opt to gain a single point. Favouring consistency over luck, almost everyone I’ve played with chooses the latter. POW is just too important—and difficult to obtain—to gamble.

Currently, one of my groups plays that an adventurer instead gains 1D3 points on a successful POW Gain roll. We’ve played about four adventures, plus Storm Season and Sacred Time downtime, across six sessions, and the game so far feels pretty different. We have a lot more POW to throw around for gaining Rune Points, joining spirit cults, attuning magic items, enchanting magic items, or stockpiling toward awakening a fetch or becoming a Rune Master.

With the current edition’s potential for high starting skills, POW Gain is the main limit on how quickly adventurers achieve cool new stuff to do. By increasing POW Gain to a full 1D3, it doesn’t feel a lot easier for adventurers to achieve the POW 18 necessary for Rune Priesthood—because of the D100 roll’s difficulty at high POW—but it feels a lot easier to gain POW for quick expenditures. Adventurers become able to do more cool stuff, more quickly, with less effort.

Is that good?

I don’t know yet. We’re still feeling this house rule out. So far, I do enjoy the increased “currency” in my adventurer’s POW economy. I like that I’ve gained a lot of Rune Points quickly, allowing me to juggle two cults (and have fun with both cults’ magic). But, I do wonder how this campaign will feel after a year of play. It’s hard to not find stuff to spend POW on when playing RuneQuest! Yet, I’m curious if the slower pace in the core rules would make the same advancements feel more meaningful, because they happened over an increased number of adventures.

Thus far, I would say this rule is worth trying out. Especially if you’re planning to play a shorter campaign! Gaining a lot of POW seems, to me, to fit well with campaigns aiming at the 3-6 month duration, rather than games hoping to play out the full Hero Wars saga. I doubt it’s a good fit for all groups, but if you want adventurers to get more POWerful more quickly this is a decent way to get there.

Thanks Austin for the house rule experimentation. If people are curious about power curves and character progression, I’ve written a series of Runic Rants articles on the topic: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

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