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!

Art by Kristi Jones

We are back into Gloranthan anthropology (more or less) for this episode, with our guest Brian Duguid, author of Children of Hykim. By virtue of having literally written a book on the subject, Brian is an expert in the Hsunchen, the stone age people who are each associated with a tribal totem animal.

This topic might be rather unfamiliar to newcomers to Glorantha, since the Hsunchen are only mentioned briefly in the core RuneQuest books — mostly in the entry for the Telmori Wolfbrothers in the Glorantha Bestiary.

Joerg wasn’t available for writing these show notes so they are a lot shorter and less detailed than usual.

In this interview, we talk about:

  • Brian’s path from playing RuneQuest in his youth, going through a deep-freeze, and coming back to Glorantha in the post HeroQuest / Guide to Glorantha era… and the massive amount of materials that this brought upon fans.
  • Who the Hsunchen are, and what the average RuneQuest adventurer might know about them.
  • What does a “stone age culture” looks like.
  • Who is this Hykim, and what do Hsunchen myths look like.
  • Hsunchen magic and the problem with RuneQuest’s Transform Self spells.
  • Bringing Hsunchen NPCs into your adventures set in Dragon Pass, and sending your PCs out into Hsunchen lands.
  • Portraying Hsunchen NPCs.
  • Playing Hsunchen adventurers, and the themes and locations of a Hsunchen campaign.

To learn more about the Hsunchen, the main two sources are:

  • The Guide to Glorantha (especially Volume 1): it’s pricey but it’s a giant pile of awesome information, and a great source of ideas for any gamemaster. The PDF version is a lot more affordable, and the one I personally use almost all the time by virtue of being searchable.
  • The Children of Hykim (of course): it’s non-canonical (for whatever that’s worth to you), but not only does it give detailed information on many Hsunchen tribes, it also provides rules for creating and playing Hsunchen characters.

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

The newsletter is (again) one day late this week because a windstorm caused multiple power outages around Vancouver where I live. My modem seems to have been damaged during that time, so I have been without internet for three days. My ISP sent a technician yesterday (Monday) and I’m back online, but that means I couldn’t work on the newsletter over the weekend.

In unrelated news, the next episode of the podcast is ready to go out but Joerg had problems of his own so I’m waiting for his show notes and transcript for the episode. Hopefully it will be released to you in the coming days.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

How to Run RuneQuest

Here’s another one of James Coquillat’s interviews! This one is geared towards the complete newbies who want to pick up RuneQuest as their first gamemaster experience or, even, as their first roleplaying game experience. Jeff keeps things very simple, which is good — although his advice of not sweating the details of combat rules will fall flat for some people (I still remember how RuneQuest combat rules looked like on first read… it wasn’t pleasant).

Anyway, I don’t think the experienced RuneQuesters and Gloranthaphiles in the audience will learn anything new here (once again, this is more of a “forward this to a friend” sort of video), but I was very pleased to hear Jeff describe Glorantha as “ancient world fantasy” instead of “bronze age fantasy”!

RuneQuest Glorantha 1.2

Anybody who’s run RuneQuest for more than a couple sessions knows the problem: the rulebook is an editing mess. The number of corrections and clarifications on the Well of Daliath is, let’s say, rather large. It’s not surprising then that the question of an updated version of the rulebook was raised on BRP Central. Chaosium president Rick Meints replied:

We want to do an updated rulebook (not a new edition) in the near future.

Now I wouldn’t get too excited — I’m pretty sure such an updated book wouldn’t change any actual rules. But it’s notable enough that Rick used the term “updated rulebook” and not just “a new printing” or something. This is because we know there are already two versions of the rulebook out there: the first printing, and the second printing which simply fixed some typos and incorrect stat values.

My totally uneducated (and therefore worthless but hey, this is my website) prediction is that this updated rulebook would represent an editorial pass on the text that help increase clarity and reduce confusion. For instance: remove RQ2-isms such as using POW instead of Magic Points, improve the verbiage around combat action economy, expand the text on enchantments and wyters, possibly even expand some of the spell descriptions. That kind of stuff. Who knows, maybe some of the occupations (like Fisher or Hunter) will even get fixed (although I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, Jeff made it clear he likes it this way).

This isn’t totally unheard of. Mongoose Traveller just recently saw such an updated rulebook, with many rules tweaks and expanded or corrected text. Plus some new art.

Anyway, it doesn’t sound like anybody at Chaosium is actually working on it yet so I don’t imagine we’ll see this new rulebook before 2026 or something.

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.

Esrolia’s Population and Fleet

Here is some good world-building information on Esrolia, in case your players are headed there soon. The gist of it is: lots of villages close to each other everywhere, smaller farms with richer land, and lots of people working Earth temple-owned lands.

But few starve or go hungry thanks to Ernalda’s bounty. The productivity is incredible – not just einkorn wheat, but oranges, wine, apricots, strawberries, cherries, olives, chilis, sugarcane, beans, onions, and even tomatoes. Livestock is mainly pigs and fowl (chickens and geese), although Longsiland is famed for its herds of sheep and cattle.

Of course, the Mirrorsea Bay also helps feed the teeming throngs of people. Fish, waterfowl, crustaceans, etc. Lots of fishermen, merfolk, ducks, and newtlings.

There’s also a bit on the difference in diet between Esrolia and Sartar, if you want to drop a few colourful dishes into the game when the PCs are staying at some local inn.

And if you’re going to the Mirrorsea Bay, there’s another note on Esrolia’s navy, which I’m skipping over because it’s late…

Sartarite Inns

Speaking of inns, here is a note on the now famous Sartarite caravanserais that Chaosium is highlighting a lot more in RQG than in past editions.

When we think of Sartarite inns, that’s what they are – caravanserais more than pubs. Travelers are welcome there, they usually have places to store goods and watch animals, or arrangements with local stables to do the same.

This mix of “trade highways” and secondary roads dotted with caravan-friendly inns is in line with what we know of the ancient world, such as the Persian Royal Road that marks the origins of the Silk Road.

Creative Commons image

This page from National Geographic shows Silk Road caravanserais from a much later period, but it gives a good enough idea of what it looks like for the purposes of a roleplaying game. Note the blue points on the map!

Image by National Geographic

Most artistic reconstructions I can find attempt to illustrate the Marco Polo era of the late 13th century, but, again, that’s good enough for me:

Jeff gives another possible reference and source of inspiration:

Somewhat similar were the shukuba post stations of the Edo Five Routes in Japan or the roadside stationestabernae, and mutationes, where travelers could rest and their animals taken care of.

The most famous of Sartarite inns is the franchised network of Geo’s inns, whose founder, Geo, is even a the subject of a minor traveller cult.

Like a lot of things Geo’s is both comical and deadly serious. They were originally established as caravanserai which were ALSO places where any friend or supporter of Sartar could find a safe bed, friends, and a warm meal. Most of the cult’s income is generated from paying, non-member customers who stay the night and otherwise avail of the services provided by the inn, such as stabling and fodder, food and drinks, entertainment, and warehousing of goods.

During the heyday of the Principality, Geo’s inns were typically supported by the Prince, which made them very desirable to travelers. Well-maintained, steady food, and protected by the Prince.

Gloranthan Dwarfs

The fact that we spell them “dwarfs” instead of “dwarves” isn’t the only way that the Mostali are different from their D&D counterparts!

Always keep in mind that Gloranthan dwarves are most emphatically not the Scottish-accented dwarves of the Peter Jackson movies or of most D&D campaigns. A small Gloranthan dwarf might only weigh 10 kg (22 pounds) and be 60 cm (23 inches) tall. That’s about the same size as my cat (admittedly she is a Maine Coon)! Dwarfs often have grotesque (but not hideous or repulsive) facial features, disproportionate and gnarled limbs, hunchbacked and twisted.

Larger dwarves exist, of course. A large dwarf might be 140 cm tall (55 inches) and weigh 75 kg (165 pounds). So there is a bewildering variety in sizes and shapes among dwarfdom. A dwarf like Ginkizzie or The Dwarf might be almost human sized, while other dwarfs in the community are no bigger than a large house cat.

In a related BRP Central thread, Jeff also notes that the stats of dwarfs have changed across editions of RuneQuest.

Back in RQ2, hit points were determined by CON, and modified slightly by SIZ and POW. Dwarfs (spelled “Dwarves” back then!) had CON 2D6+6 and SIZ 2D6, for 12 hit points on average.

But RQ3 changed both the spelling (“Dwarfs”!) and the hit point computation (now the average of CON and SIZ). Dwarfs would have had only 10 hit points on average if RQ3 didn’t also vastly increase their CON, to 1D6+12… and technically that only gives an average HP of barely above 11.

RQG kept RQ3’s spelling, but went back to RQ2’s hit point computation and, therefore, RQ2’s dwarf stats.


Here’s a note on the Praxian goddess of cattle, and possibly (at least in my experience) one of the least-often played cults in the rulebook. I found this interesting:

Eiritha had many children – cows, bison, impala, high llamas, rhinos, sable antelope, and so on. I’ve even heard that Mother Morokanth was a daughter of Eiritha! She is not associated with sheep, deer, pigs, etc. so she is not the goddess of all ruminants. She is the mother of deer and elk through another husband.

The Glorantha Sourcebook says that “she is the source of fecundity and rich milk for all hooved and horned creatures.” You’d think that “hooved and horned creatures” would include sheep, but maybe that doesn’t count because many domestic sheep don’t have horns? Maybe domestication actively changed the myths over time? Is this another God Learner fuck-up? Can you fulfill some Praxian prophecy by bringing back horned sheep to Prax?

Also, if Morokanth are possibly descended from Eiritha, does that mean they used to have horns? (they technically have hooved toes, I think, so that works for “hooved creature” part) Did the humans, feeling cheated during Waha’s Covenant business, cut off the Morokanths’ horns? Or maybe the Morokanth cut their young’s horns for some cultural or spiritual reason? Maybe the Morokanth khans or shamans are allows to grow big horns and therefore look twice as scary?

Am I reading too much into one line of the Sourcebook? Maybe… but hey, horned Morokanths!

Deep Lunar Synthesis

This is the kind of stuff that somebody much more clever, educated, and crazier than me (I’m looking at you Nick and Eff) would better comment on: some weird-ass “source note” from Greg Stafford.

One of Greg’s deep background notes that I refer to an awful lot when I think about Glorantha is this chart that he put together to try to think about the basic sources for the Lunar understanding of the 3 percepations: Mystical, Cosmological, and Materialist.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff explains a little bit of it, but you’ll mostly have to figure out what the hell this means for yourself. I’ll… err… I’ll be over there if you need me.

Community Roundup

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

A Happy Character Sheet Accident

Over on Reddit, RoyalAlbatross has been copying various pages from RuneQuest 2nd edition to prep for their game, and ended up making this happy accident:

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.

All Hail the Red Moon

Photo by Andrew McCarthy from a previous lunar eclipse

It will probably be over by the time your read this, but today there was a total Lunar eclipse, which means a blood moon! If you want to go dance naked outside with a couple of scimitars while screaming something about your devotion to Jar-eel, I will totally support you… just don’t mention me when the cops arrive.

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.

The newsletter is one day late this week because yesterday was the day of propitiation for the spirits of Darkness. The children dressed up as Underworld creatures and went around the clan’s tula with the local shaman. People gave symbolic food offerings meant to appease the dwellers below for the coming season. If all goes well, we will have uneventful weeks leading to Sacred Time…

Of course, now we also have a shitload of unhealthy food offerings left in our house, so that’s not going to be good for my health. But it will keep me warm as I finish editing our next podcast episode!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

A New Hero: Season 2

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Good news! James, Bridgett, and David’s campaign “A New Hero” is coming back for a second season! Season one (only five episodes long) is available here.

QuestWorlds Update

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Ian Cooper, line editor for QuestWorlds, has posted a short update about the state of the game (originally written as a twitter thread):

Editing. I am working through the Core book with a development editor (Susan O’Brien). As I wrote most of it, I can’t also do development editing (that’s marking your own homework). We are about 50% through that process.

Art: All but two pieces now in, that’s on me to do art direction for the last two.

Once we have all that there are some conversations to be had around graphic design before going into layout.

I expect some tweaks/typos to go into the SRD. All minor, but I’ll probably leave it to the end when we can get the final set in and move to v1.0

Steady progress, though it always feels slow at the end. As always it will be done when it’s done. 

As a reminder, QuestWorlds is the new form of the game formerly known as HeroQuest, formerly known as HeroWars. This is the rules-light, narratively focused game system that was created by Robin Laws and Greg Stafford for Gloranthan gaming in the early 2000s. Some people will argue that it is a much better fit for Glorantha than RuneQuest… (personally, I think something in the middle would be best, around the crunch level of Pendragon).

Anyway, you can play QuestWorlds today (and you have been able to for a long while, too) by checking out the SRD (System Reference Document), available here.

Jonstown Compendium

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

Zenith Counters: Marble Phalanx

© 2022 Dario Corallo & Chaosium Inc.

Dario Corallo keep churning out art and I don’t know how he does it so fast and so well! Anyway, he is back to his Zenith Counter series, which provides all kinds of tokens for your VTT needs. The latest entry is the Marble Phalanx (with a typo on the cover image… oops), a troop of soldiers that was stationed in New Pavis before Argrath re-conquered it.

Jeff’s Notes

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

Canonical Corpus

Here is Jeff’s list of “canonical” books for Glorantha. This isn’t the first time Jeff shares this list, and nothing much has changed since last time, so I won’t comment much on it (and besides, I’m very busy this week and I don’t have the time). Remember the context of this list:

Again, canon doesn’t matter AT ALL for running a game. As my original posts states: “this only matters if you want to write for Chaosium or get your work published by Chaosium.”

Remember that Jeff tweaked this list a bit based on which version of which text is best available (such as in PDF via Chaosium’s RuneQuest Classic reprints)… so if you’re wondering “why book X instead of book Y“, that’s generally why. There are also a few books that are only there because they have a chapter or a map about some particular area of Dragon Pass.

Note that with the exception of Troll Gods, Haunted Ruins, and Dorastor, all of the listed publications are currently available. And honestly Troll Gods is only there until the Cults Books come out. Haunted Ruins is listed because of the great map included in it. And Dorastor is there because it is the sourcebook for anyone doing stuff in Dorastor.

Jeff reminds us that the Sun County book, specifically on the Praxian Sun Dome, isn’t representative of all Sun Domes elsewhere — that one is an outlier, so “many other Sun Dome Temples are not nearly so xenophobic!

Last, King of Sartar and the two original board games (White Bear & Red Moon and Nomad Gods) are listed as usable “as sources of inspiration rather than canon“. In particular, King of Sartar is deliberately self-contradictory, placing it in a unique position in the canon.

Here’s a relevant bit on the now superseded HeroWars and HeroQuest books of the early 2000s:

I tell people writing for Chaosium to not reference or rely on them. At all. Where they are right, there are better sources (such as the above list), but all of them have stuff that I would prefer not to have to edit out. Referring to the subcult of Desemborth the Thief or Daylanus the Conquering Wind or Gravlor the Gladiator – that’s just generating work for your editors.

[…] they are filled with things that have been rejected (like Misapplied Worship, or having to try to figure out the deep “real nature” of a cult before you can even use it in game), its millions of subcults (“Orlanth the Carpenter”? Really?), and other stuff that just makes an editors job nightmarish. Best to just ignore it entirely.

The RuneQuest companion is also in a similar situation:

Note that there’s a lot of wildly non-canonical material in the RQ Companion. And the stuff that is canonical is better presented elsewhere.

As for the Mongoose RuneQuest books, Jeff, half-jokingly (probably) answers that “there were no Mongoose publications.

Anyway, read here for the nitty gritty details.

Now, as stated at the beginning, this is for writing Chaosium material. What about simply running a RuneQuest game? Jeff’s list is much shorter: the Starter Set or the core rulebook, and the Bestiary.

You might have noticed that these two books constitute our minimum assumption for what the listeners of the podcast have read. We try (and probably fail… but we try!) to explain everything else that isn’t explained in those two books.

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.

King of Dragon Pass is 23 Years Old

From A-Sharp, the publishers of King of Dragon Pass:

The original version of King of Dragon Pass was released on 29 Oct 1999. To celebrate this anniversary, the iOS version (updated with more content and streamlined play) is now 40% off on the iOS App store for a limited time!

By the time you read this, the offer might have expired, but the game is well worth its (very affordable) full price anyway. And personally speaking, I think a tablet is the best way to play this game… anyway, happy birthday KoDP!

Runeblogger on Tales of the Reaching Moon

Runeblogger writes in English again (yay!) to take a look at the Tales of the Reaching Moon, a Gloranthan fanzine from the 1990s generally credited for keeping the Gloranthan fandom alive in a dark period of the game setting’s history, and for producing a whole new generation of Gloranthan authors… many of which are now working for Chaosium, or publishing books on the Jonstown Compendium. Even Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen contributed a few articles to the fanzine.

Photo by Runeblogger

They started by publishing two issues annually, and from 1995 onwards only one every year, but the quality and page number increased little by little. For example, starting from issue 12 covers became full-colour. The main editor of this fanzine was David Hall, who started out with a couple of friends, writing and laying out the fanzine. However, from the fourth issue onwards several die-hard fans joined the team like Rick Meints, who took care of layout, or Michael O’Brien, who edited, wrote, and distributed the fanzine in Australia. I wonder if they had believed anyone telling them at that point that they would one day become president and vice-president of Chaosium (!).

Runeblogger tells you everything you need to know about the context of the fanzine’s publication, its contents, and its legacy. It’s a great read for any Gloranthaphile who is only vaguely aware of Reaching Moon Megacorp and its pivotal role in the setting’s history.

Writing Riddles: Babalon and the Red Goddess

Andrew Logan Montgomery published his second article on the topic of Illumination. The first part looked at inspirations for what Illumination is, how it possibly drives some of the main themes of Glorantha as a setting for telling stories, why it’s considered “bad” in most Gloranthan societies, and how the Lunar Empire managed to integrate it.

This is what the second part focuses on, viewed through the lens of gnosticism in general, and Aleister Crowley’s Thelema in particular. We are shown the Red Goddess as Babalon, the Scarlet Woman and Mother of Abomination (a comparison that Jeff already made in the past), we get a walk through various numbers of souls, we learn more about Chaos, Tarot cards, the Whore of Babylon, and ancient female deities riding big beasts…

Anyway, Andrew is still working on “The Final Riddle”, his next RuneQuest campaign which deals, of course, with illumination and madness.

GoblinCaveTV Creates Some RuneQuest Characters

Live roleplay and “Roll20 embassador” group GoblinCaveTV has recently done a live stream in which “Karsh the Goblin” creates a RuneQuest character. The video is currently only on Twitch, but there’s a good chance it later shows up on their YouTube channel too.

Since the host spends a lot of time explaining a lot of things to the audience, the overall process takes almost 3 hours and a half, but of course it would be quite a bit faster if you did it on your own… although we all know that RuneQuest character creation is extremely slow compared to most games (which is sadly ironic given how deadly RuneQuest can be). Karsh ends up with a large, Orlanth-worshipping Sartarite warrior.

They also have a two-episode actual play of “A Rough Landing” from the RuneQuest Starter Set.

GMSMagazine’s RuneQuest “Blast from the Past”

YouTube channel GMSMagazine has a video comparing 1984’s RuneQuest 3rd edition delux box set with 2022’s RuneQuest Glorantha Starter Set. Of course, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, which the host notes at the beginning, but the point is really to have fun looking at how RuneQuest has evolved, and how production quality changed over almost four decades.

It’s fun to see the host realize how the four books of the Starter Set make up a big map when you turn them over…

Some Dan Barker Work in Progress

Dan Barker has shared this cute little ice demon:

Decided to revisit some pencils I had in a drawer, of a Hollri (ice demon) being worshipped by Uzhim (snow trolls) on Valinds’ Glacier. Not quite there, but rough direction.

I’m looking forward to the full drawing!

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.

Nijmegen Helmet

Do you have some important Lunar NPC in your campaign? Do you want to make him or her super bad-ass? How about a cool looking mask helmet?

The Nijmegen Helmet is a Roman helmet that was probably worn by some elite cavalry soldier. It dates back to the first or second century BCE and was found in the Dutch city of Nijmegen. Parts of it are made of iron, while others are made of bronze or brass. The right cheek apparently has a name scratched on it (thought to be “Marcianus”). I suppose it’s easy to misplace your super cool metal mask helmet when you’re in the elite cavalry and everybody has super cool metal mask helmets. Hashtag Roman Military Life.

There is no information on who the five figures are on the crown, but we all know these are five of the Seven Mothers. Maybe two fell off. Or maybe that soldier didn’t feel like having Danfive Xaron and She Who Waits, or whatever, on his helmet. Or maybe the helmet crafter messed up.

You can find this item in the Museum Het Valkhof Nijmegen. Since 2020, the city even has a big replica of this helmet as a piece of urban art:

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.

Glorantha Initiation Episode 12: Chris, Lived-in Worlds, and Grounded Campaigns

We released episode 12 of our Glorantha Initiation Series, in which we welcome Chris who went from RQ2 to RQG in just a few weeks! He doesn’t have an ongoing RuneQuest game yet but we talk about his sudden love for Glorantha, playing soloquests, “grounded” adventures, and his plans for a future Esrolian trading campaign.

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The “Write Your First Adventure” Workshop Returns

The RPG writing workshop that guides you through making your first adventure is returning for the winter! Chaosium is presenting again their two “paths”, one for writing a Call of Cthulhu adventure, and one for writing a RuneQuest adventure. The course will run through the month of November and costs $39.

Halloween Sale on DriveThruRPG

Chaosium is part of the Halloween Sale on DriveThruRPG, including a few items from the Jonstown Compendium such as the Seven Tailed Wolf or Holiday Dorastor: Woods of Terror. All these PDFs are 20% off. Check them 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!

Hero Wars in the East Isles

Hannu Rytövuori, David Cake, and Nils Weinander have released their two books about the East Isles, giving you a lot of material to play in parts of Glorantha that definitely won’t look like anything you’re used to.

© 2022 Hannu Rytövuori, David Cake, Nils Weinander, and Chaosium Inc.

The first volume is a sourcebook about the Korolan archipelago. It details the island’s history and geography, the people who live there and the gods they worship, and even a chapter about East Islander martial arts!

© 2022 Hannu Rytövuori, David Cake, Nils Weinander, and Chaosium Inc.

The second volume contains four scenarios to play in the Korolan islands, which is enough for decently sized campaign away from the stereotypes of Dragon Pass!

Holiday Dorastor: Ragnaglar’s Breath

© 2022 Stormspearia and Chaosium Inc.

Simon Phipp continues his long tour of Dorastor with a new entry in the “Holiday Dorastor” series, which he apparently wrote while following that “Write Your Own Adventure” workshop.

Here, you will find three new locations, and a set of scenarios and HeroQuests allowing you to banish Ragnaglar’s Breath from the Risklands.

News About Duckpac

Neil Gibson shared some great news on Facebook:

We’re incredibly proud to announce that DuckPac – Book 1: Myths, Legends & Lore has reached Electrum bestselling level!

As such we’ve been given the thumbs up from the ever supportive Chaosium team and can let you know of the impending Print On Demand versions.

The current plan is to release:

– Books 1 & 2 in a single hardback book.
– Book 3 (Redfeather Dreaming SoloQuest) in a standalone softback book as suits the play-style. and finally…
– Book 4 will be released simultaneously in both digital AND Print On Demand formats (currently ~170 pages in hardback)

We’re currently finalising POD versions for 1, 2 & 3 and playtesting the scenarios for Book 4. Given our location (down-under AND the UK) we’re hoping for an early December launch.

You can get the PDFs of Duckpac here: book 1 (sourcebook on ducks), book 2 (adventurers), and book 3 (soloquest).

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 Invisible God

The Invisible God is one of Glorantha’s cool secrets:

The Invisible God is abstract, the ultimate reality in the universe. It is Brahman, the Ein Sof, the Unmoved Mover, the One. The Invisible God does not change, but is the cause of all. The Invisible God is unity, undivided, infinite, and the single binding truth behind diversity in the universe.

The name-dropping merits a bit of annotation:

  • Brahman is the Hindu metaphysical concept that binds all of the universe. It’s the universal principle of reality, and the truth that many strive to uncover and experience. It’s also probably something I just very badly described. But you get the gist.
  • Ein Sof is sort of the same thing, unsurprisingly, but in the Kabbalah. Hebrew scholars interpret it as God as it was before it manifested itself anywhere in the spiritual or physical worlds.
  • The Unmoved Mover, or Prime Mover, is from Aristotelian philosophy. It’s the first thing that every did a thing in the universe without having had a thing done to it first. You could say it’s the first quantum event in all of time.
  • The One is many things — a Chinese restaurant in my neighbourhood, a shopping centre in Hong Kong, an action movie starring Jet Li, or a comicbook series by the amazing Rick Veitch. But I assume Jeff here is referring to the Neoplatonic concept of the unknowable beginning and end of all existence. But maybe he’s talking about Jet Li. I think both really apply here. I may or may not imagine the Invisible God as a dimension-hopping Jet Li, now. This opens up so many possibilities…

Next to the Invisible God, all others are infinitely small, localized, and insignificant. They may be called on or used if necessary, but the Invisible God is the All.

The zzaburi are, among other things, the “priests” of the Invisible God. The Invisible God provides no Rune magic, not spirits, or Divine Intervention. But as the ultimate reality in the universe, study and contemplation of the Invisible God gave rise to sorcery, a rational system that allows mortals to understand and command the natural laws of the cosmos.

The way I see it, these sorcerers developed sorcery the same way Plato developed western philosophy and Galileo developed modern western science. This is very unlike the other types of magic that are directly provided by spirits and gods.

Alchemical Tree by Wolfgang Kilian

So one way of thinking about the zzaburi is that they are brahmins, performing Brahma-yajna before the altar of the Invisible God, surrounded by geometric mandalas that depict cosmological mathematics. They chant, sing, and recite, while the rest of the community come by and offer gifts and obeisance.

I think defining Malkionism raises some of the same problems as trying to define Hinduism. Malkionism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and tradition, and within Malkionism are polytheists, pantheists, pantheists, henotheists, monotheists, and even atheists. Even caste is a subject of debate within Malkionism. Maybe it is merely the presence of sorcerer-priests of the Invisible God that makes it Malkionism? Maybe not even that?

Brahmins form the “priest caste” of Hindu society… which is funny because I just now realized how the Hindu castes are very reminiscent of the Malkioni society:

  • In Malkioni society we have the Dronars (workers and farmers), Horali (warriors and soldiers), Talars (rulers and nobles), and Zzaburi (priests and sorcerers).
  • In Hindu society, we have the Shudras (artisans and laborers), Vaishyas (farmers and merchants), Kshatriyas (rulers and warriors), and Brahmins (scholars and priests).

And if you want some ideas for Men-of-All, the Hrestoli Malkioni people who try to master all castes’ secrets, there is also some historical evidence for Brahmins that also became farmers, warriors, traders, and other occupations.

However, Jeff warns against taking the analogy too far between the Zzarburi and the Brahmins. For instance, it looks like Brahmins are supposed to live in strict austerity and voluntary poverty, but I very much doubt many Zzaburi wouldn’t be dressed in elaborate clothes and living in big towers full of esoteric stuff.

What I mostly take from this analogy is that, just like the Brahmins, the Zzaburi might be split between many different occupations: teachers, authors, philosophers, priests, jurists, alchemists, warrior-mages, and so on.

The Vadeli

Here’s a note about the Vadeli, the immortal colour-coded sociopaths who mostly live in the islands far off the western coast of Genertela. There used to be four types of Vadeli: the blue-skinned wizards, the yellow-skinned… err, I assume leaders, the red-skinned warriors, and the brown-skinned sailors and merchants (and probably other types of workers). We’ll skip quickly on the unfortunate choice of skin colour for the worker caste, and go straight to the fact that only the brown-skinned Vadeli survive to the modern day, with a few red-skinned warriors. They are have immortality as long as they strictly adhere to their precise caste rules.

There are about 150,000-200,000 Vadeli in Glorantha, most in the Vadeli Islands or Pamaltela. That’s roughly the same number as Brithini in Arolanit and Sog City.

Although they are descended from Malkion, the Vadeli are antinomian and knowingly transgress against the laws that bind other Malkioni. Despite this (or perhaps because of this) they are immortal and unaging.

As far as I can tell, the Brithini are like the Vadeli, in the sense that they live in a caste system derived from Malkioni laws, and that they’re immortal as long as they follow their caste rules. The main differences are that the Brithini aren’t colour-coded, and, as noted in the quote above, that the Vadeli actively reject Malkioni laws, so their caste rules seem to be, on purpose, going against these laws. It looks to me like they both achieve immortality by either doing what Malkion said, or by doing the opposite of what Malkion said… maybe if you do everything to piss off the laws of the universe, the most important law of the universe, Time, is also pissed at you and doesn’t apply to you.

Almost all Vadeli encountered in the mundane world belong to the Brown Vadeli, mostly sailors and traders. A few unfortunates have encountered Red Vadeli, the warrior caste.

You might not see a Red Vadeli very often outside the Vadeli Isles, but I figure you would definitely spot a few Brown Vadeli in Nochet, Karse, and other major market ports. There might be an odd one or two passing by Boldhome or Furthest, but I think they mostly stick to maritime trade.

Given that the Brown and Red Vadeli look different (the Red Vadeli have red skin after all!), we might actually be dealing with different types entities all classified as “Vadeli” and these might be more like different “castes” in an ant community than the castes we see with mundane Malkioni.

In the Guide, the Vadeli are portrayed as normal humans with coloured skin, but maybe they don’t actually look human? Maybe they are close, but not quite? Some sort of uncanny valley people?

Glorantha is a Bronze Age Setting

Jeff gives the familiar lecture about Glorantha being a Bronze Age setting but with many differences.

People use bronze instead of iron, use ox-plows, and so forth. But it is a fantasy Bronze Age setting, not a historical one set in the real world. We have silver coins, plenty of writing, ship transport between the continents, and giant flying Crimson Bats.

In short there are Real World historical analogies to use, but they are just analogies and sources of inspiration – recognize their limits. Glorantha is a fantasy, not a historical simulation.

I’m torn about this. I increasingly find that “Bronze Age” is a problematic term here.

Before I got into Glorantha, I only had a very vague conception of what the Bronze Age is exactly… so when I looked it up to educate myself a bit, I obviously ran into this “upper limit” of 1200 BCE, which marks the Bronze Age collapse (at least around the Near East and parts of Europe and Maghreb). So this got confusing given how Chaosium is basing a lot of their world-building on both Bronze Age and post-Bronze Age things like Alexander’s conquests and empire, the Peloponnesian War, and so on.

On the other hand, Glorantha is such a mix of various influences that it’s hard to pinpoint the best starting point for an elevator pitch in the form of “it’s like X, but with Y and Z“.

Personally, I would start with something more directly familiar, even if it needs to be course-corrected later in play. For instance, I would start with “Sartar is like Ancient Greece, but up in the mountains, and with magic everywhere.” Or “the Lunar Empire is more advanced, like the Romans, only with crazy-ass weapons of mass destruction like meteor magic and big monsters“. Or “Praxians are nomads like the Dothraki if you’ve watch Game of Thrones? But they’re split in tribes that each rides a different beast“.

I’m sure many of you are already jumping up, ready to go “well no…” but I’m gonna stop you right there. The point here is not to be exact. The point is to give a hopefully exciting starting mental picture upon which to build something. My reasons for these choices are:

  1. Ancient Greece and Romans are very familiar, so almost everybody will be able to picture them. Scythians, Mesopotamian city states, or the fine points of Hittite society aren’t.
  2. Many things that Gloranthan fans think are important are actually only details. Most sane players don’t care that their weapons are “actually made of bronze, not iron“. Sure, it’s notable, but that doesn’t need to go in the elevator pitch. Even saying that Lunar weapons are “actually curved blades, like Persian weapons” can be specified later when the party encounters their first Lunar people. It’s not important when painting a general picture of the world in two minutes.

But the problem remains about how to describe Glorantha as a whole… I do agree with Jeff that “Iron Age” is a bit problematic too, although to me it’s mostly because, again, it requires knowing what qualifies as “Iron Age” or not, whereas Jeff is mostly concerned about, like I said, a simple detail:

Note that calling Glorantha “Iron Age” gets very misleading. First and foremost nobody except the dwarves makes widespread use of iron (and most bronze in Glorantha is a mixture of tin and copper).

At this point, I would frankly describe Glorantha as an “Ancient World” setting. It’s maybe a bit less catchy than “Bronze Age”, but anybody who looks up that term will find that it covers everything from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, neatly covering a lot of bases for all Gloranthan cultures. Would this simple change have reduced my initial confusion with Glorantha though? Hard to say.

Edit: over on Discord, Effy tells me in, errr, a menacing way that she would use “Antiquity” instead. That’s another fine choice! I like that it better signals that we are talking about a historical period (whereas “Ancient World” could be seen as just a turn of phrase). I just find it even harder to use in a slogan (“Glorantha is an antiquity setting”?).

Community Roundup

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

Exploring Glorantha Goes to Esrolia

You know the drill by now, I hope! JM and Evan tell you everything about Esrolia, the “Land of 10,000 Goddesses”. Remember that if you support Iconic Productions on Patreon (which includes a lot more than just Exploring Glorantha), you get perks such as the full notes that JM and Evan use for their shows. I found that it’s a great resource to use as a first research step, like an index of sort.

Lunares Eunt Domus

As mentioned previously, the Lunars are Romans… so it follows that multiple people will want to make some Monty Python joke out of it. And while you’ll find a few Jonstown Compendium publications including it in the text, Chris Went seems to be the first genius who made it as a miniatures scene!

Photo by Chris Went

Thank you for reading

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

This twelfth episode of the Glorantha Initiation series brings us to the last of the interviews we recorded in the fall of 2021! We are talking to Chris, who discovered RuneQuest 2nd edition just last year and, only a few weeks later, upgraded to RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha! He doesn’t have an ongoing Gloranthan campaign yet but we talk about his sudden love for the setting, playing soloquests, and his plans for a future game.

Things mentioned in this episode include:

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 is rather expedited in terms of the newsletter. I have been busy with work, family life, and writing & illustration, and a few other hobbies… so that left little time for the Journal. Oh well. And if you want to help, remember that you can always send us a guest segment!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The 2022 Greg Stafford Memorial Award for Gloranthan Fandom goes to Andrew Logan Montgomery

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Surprising absolutely nobody, I think, Andrew Logan Montgomery finally got the Greg Stafford Memorial Award for Gloranthan Fandom! Congrats and well deserved, Andrew!

This award is given every year since the passing of Greg Stafford to celebrate a notable member of the Gloranthan community. Andrew definitely qualifies, with no less than three best-selling RuneQuest campaigns on the Jonstown Compendium, and many insightful articles on his blog. You can read more here, including the past award recipients.

Assembling the Stafford Campaign Notes

Photo by Rick Meints © 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Last week Chaosium released the Stafford Campaign in PDF and print-on-demand: a collection of essays and notes from Greg Stafford, some of which had been published in APAs such as The Wild Hunt in the mid-1970s. Rick Meints also posted another “Out of the Suitcase” entry on the Chaosium blog about the occasion:

What most people may not know is that many of these “articles” were published back in the day while the campaign was active. That stems from the fact they were published in a relatively obscure and very difficult to get a hold of fanzine called The Wild Hunt. About 200 copies of each issue were printed using mimeograph machine technology. Articles were often typed on typewriters using stencils. After 40 years, many of the original issues have not survived the ravages of time, especially as they were printed on inexpensive paper. I doubt even half of the copies printed still exist. I’ve been tracking them down and pursuing them for over 30 years and my personal set of The Wild Hunt is far from complete. 

Note that the first two chapters of this newly released “Chaosium Archival Collection” are available to read for free here. If you’re sold on it, it’s available in softcover and PDF.

Fantasy Grounds Update

You might remember that official VTT support for RuneQuest is underway for Fantasy Grounds (among possible others), as we had a few updates here and there in the newsletter. Here are some latest screenshots… it sounds like it’s almost ready for release.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

If you look closely, you’ll see an “Opposed & Resistance Rolls” dialog for, well, making opposed and resistance rolls. The resistance roll comes out like this in the chat:

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

There’s no official release date or pricing info yet but the latest status updates from the developer made it sound like it was down to the last few known bugs and some polish… fingers crossed!

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!

Teshnos Companion

© 2022 Paul Baker & Chaosium Inc.

Paul Baker has released a companion book to his Houses of Teshnos, with further explorations of this seldom covered area of Glorantha.

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.

Followers of the Prince of Sartar

Jeff describes what the royal Sartarite entourage looks like: the Prince’s household, the High Council, the Wolfbrother Guard, lots of scribes, artisans and artists leading royal projects… but most importantly, each Prince has a group of “companions”:

The Prince is always escorted by friends and companions, who accompany them at court and in battle. They hunt, feast, and drink with the Prince, serving as personal attendants and bodyguards. During the long rule of the Sartar dynasty, leading members of the tribes competed to serve as friends and companions of the Prince. Many of these friends and companions went on to become tribal kings, temple high priests, or the leaders of cities.

Player characters could belong to any of those groups but this latter one is probably the easiest way to have an eclectic bunch of adventurers be brought into royal circles… and benefit from it. It can even be a way to get in trouble:

And that’s the other nebulous thing – what role is actually being invoked? When the Prince speaks, well everyone knows that is with semi-divine authority. But when one of the Prince’s drinking buddies speak, what does that mean?

Dragon Pass Logistics

Jeff continues to run us through the various spreadsheets he has for central Genertelan states. This lets us look at Sartarite, Lunar, and Esrolian affairs from an economic and materialist point of view.

This note summarizes why Jeff goes to all this trouble to model population and cult distributions, finances, trade routes, and more. I know that some people sigh when they see number crunching like this but I find it a useful tool for world-building, so I totally agree with Jeff when, for instance, he says this in a subsequent note:

And again, none of this is necessary to run a RQ campaign or even write scenarios. BUT it helps me understand some of the pressures and changes going on in Sartar, that can be the source of scenarios and campaigns.

Lunar Empire

The second note on Lunar Imperial Finances follows from last week, still using “talents” to make numbers shorters (a “talent” is 300 Lunars). We get a rough breakdown of the imperial revenue, split between agricultural taxes, tolls and trade taxes, and other miscellaneous revenue streams. I’m surprised to not see Lunar cult tithes here: I would have expected Lunar temples from all around the empire to contribute financially to the state….?

Anyway, Jeff continues to illustrate the problems of the Lunar Empire through numbers and it doesn’t look good. Although it does look good for any campaign in Lunar provinces:

I expect what we will see is a combination of things. Some debasement (but not so much as to risk the veteran soldiers getting pissed). Looting of Lunar temples (“I am the son of the Red Goddess, and this stuff is mine anyways”). Confiscations, revocations of privileges and exemptions, etc.


I imagine that there are thousands of Irrippi Ontor cultists redoing assessments, looking up old rights, and doing the equivalent of looking for loose change under the mattresses. Every talent matters!

There’s a bunch of adventures to be had following one of those Lunar scribes going around some province to take back gifts, “negotiate” increased taxes with local chieftains, inventorize old cellars, loot ancient Dara Happan burial sites, and more…

The change of vibe for the Lunar Empire is also notable:

For decades, we were presented with a Lunar Empire of infinite resources, both financial and military. Rebellion was impossible because the Lunars could just throw money and troops at the problem.

But if we look more carefully, what we find is that the Lunar Empire has a lot of resources, but they have limits. And seven years of war, combined with conspicuous spending has made that worse.

This helps explain, at least to me, why the Empire could not easily reconquer Dragon Pass after the Dragonrise – and why Sartar got several years of breathing space after the Battle of the Queens.


The Royal Economy of Esrolia shows us how things changes in that corner of the (now former) Holy Country. The revenue streams for the Esrolian Queen are similar to those of the Lunar Empire, although I’m happy to see “temple contributions” mentioned here. I don’t know if it was an oversight for the Lunar finances, or if Lunar temples are indeed more financially independent… either way, one big difference in Esrolia is off course the big role that Nochet’s maritime trade brings to the table.

One thing I didn’t expect was that the Esrolian Queen in Nochet doesn’t necessarily sit at the top. Other city states like Rhigos are very important:

All of this revenue was collected at a “provincial” or “queendom” level and then the queens (advised by the Asrelia priestesses), allocated it among themselves. About half ended up at Nochet, a little over a quarter at Rhigos, and the rest split between the North March and Longsi Land. In the event of a dispute, they appealed to Belintar, who always wisely resolved the issue, sometimes paying out the City of Wonders vast treasuries.

Some notes here:

  • Rhigos is just a couple dozen kilometres south of Nochet, as you can see on the map below. As far as I can tell it’s one of the rare city states of central Genertela. The city queen is the High Priestess of Delaina, the city’s patron deity and one of Ernalda’s sisters. You might have heard about the current queen, the “Demivierge of Rhigos“.
  • The North March is the area around Valadon, north of Nochet. I’m not sure why they get their own revenue but I going to assume it’s got something to do with the Argan Argar cult and the Shadow Plateau next door.
  • Longsi Land is the area between (and including) Belernos and Kosh, in the top-left corner of the map. It probably gained some sort of political and economic independence from the overall Esrolian Kingdom when they helped against the Hendriki during Aranda’s War in the mid 1100s. The city of Kosh was actually part of that deal.

Unlike the empire or Sartar, much of this was paid in kind. The agricultural tax in Esrolia is paid in kind, with wheat, barley, fruits, salted pork, whatever. This is brought to the Asrelia temples (which are big storehouses and granaries), to be released upon demand from the queen – for support of the priestesses, her household, payment to followers, distribution against famine, etc. Scribes and grandmothers oversee all of this, and everyone is kept plenty busy.

There is a lot of other good stuff in this note: what Belintar’s disappearance means for the Holy Country and Esrolia in particular, Esrolia’s problems with the Ditali and Solanthi raids of the late 1610s, the alliance with Argrath and Harrek in return for the plunder rights of the City of Wonders, the difference between an Esrolian court and a Sartarite court, the cost of maintaining a trireme army, and more!

Note that, in this note, Jeff states that the Queen of Rhigos is paying the warlords of Porthomeka (the region immediately to the south of Rhigos) with her riches. I wasn’t clear about this relationship from the short write-up found in the Guide. Maybe that will help someone else clarify this too.


Feeding Boldhome goes over the logistics of agricultural production around the Sartarite capital. If you ever wondered where the grain silos are, and how big they are, now you’ll know.

Sartar’s Roads explains why the vast majority of trade crosses Dragon Pass through Sartar instead of the Grazelands. Of course, it has to do with those nice roads that Sartar built… and it doesn’t help that the Grazelanders run a protection racket.

Sartar Money and War is interesting because it looks at the logistics of the armies serving the Red Emperor, Kallyr Starbrow, and Argrath. The rationale about Argrath’s nomadic army being easier (at first) to feed and pay is particularly notable and might help you better place, foreshadow, and portray Argrath’s faction in your campaign.

Kallyr’s Lightbringers Quest

This note goes quickly over how Kallyr’s “stationary” Lightbringers Quest in 1626 is done as a “conventional” (dare I say “boring”?) heroquest:

Kallyrs Stationary Lightbringer Quest was much like how many people understand heroquesting. She got the tribes and temples to perform a giant ceremony filled with pageantry. People wore masks and sacred regalia and tried to carry out their sacred tasks as Kallyr and her companions moved around Sartar performing their reenactment of the Lightbringers Quest myth.

Spirits and people were summoned from outside. Yelmalion cultists showed up as did trolls and some elves. Others made sure the dragonewts did not enter. Monsters appeared and weird foreigners arrived. Broo and zombies both tried to exploit opportunities.

This is definitely an event that you want your players to participate in, whether they are doing some summoning on the sidelines, dealing with intruders, going along as part of Kallyr’s entourage, or maybe even taking advantage of the whole thing and riding on the massive amounts of magical energy for their own ends… this is what I assume most of the intruders are doing, actually. Spirits and monsters might show up knowing full well that the ceremony will be well defended, but the temptation of an easy gateway to the Hero Plane and its mythical riches might be too strong.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that these spirits and monsters have been simply “magically summoned” by the ritual, but frankly this sort of cheap narrative loophole is something I’ve grown to dislike about Glorantha. “The Broos are here because the myth had Chaos monsters in it, so of course they show up“… blech. Nope. Not in my Glorantha, thank you.

Gloranthan Terms

A lot of older Gloranthan material used terms with specific connotations, especially in the HeroWars/HeroQuest books. Terms like fyrd, cottar, moot, and so on summoned images of celts and vikings that wasn’t necessarily intended, and Jeff puts the blame on Greg being split between Glorantha and Pendragon. The most egregious terms that Jeff doesn’t mention here are probably the infamous “knights” of western Genertela, and all the Sartarite NPC names using the scandinavian “-sson” and “-dottir” suffixes.

With the revival of RQ, pretty much all of that has been swept away. About the only one we’ve kept is “thane” – which literally just means “retainer, attendant, companion,” which we could also transliterate as “Lord” or “Sir,” if we felt so inclined.

That’s good as far as I’m concerned. And the reason is sound:

Our mental visualization of Glorantha is shaped by the words we use to describe it. A big reason to get rid of those terms is to break the assumption that the Orlanthi are Germanic Northern Europeans. They aren’t. Those cultural elements they share with the ancient Germanics they share with plenty of other cultures – Thracians, Mycenaeans, Hallstatt Celts, Macedonians, Gandharans, Pashtuns, Mesoamericans, early Indo-Europeans, etc. “Militia” works just as well as “fyrd” and lacks the other connotations of the latter. It is also a lot easier to translate into other languages!

The Fourth Age of Glorantha

Jeff talks about the Fourth Age of Glorantha, the age that supposedly comes after the Hero Wars and its apocalyptic end (whatever it is). This is also the time from which the “unreliable narrator” of King of Sartar writes, so Jeff gives us some info and context to digest that.

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.

Bud Explains Illumination

Bud, from Bud’s RPG Reviews, has a series of short (but packed!) videos explaining various aspects of Glorantha. This latest video is about Illumination and you might have to pay attention because it’s a heavy one! But it’s very well presented and edited so you will enjoy watching it a couple times to unpack it all.

SkullDixon on Running Battle Scenes

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

SkullDixon (which we interviewed in our initiation series) has a blog article about running a big battle scene in RuneQuest! He writes it from the perspective of running Urvantan’s Tower (from The Smoking Ruin & Other Stories), so watch out for spoilers on that adventure.

In the Battle of Trueford section, it reads, “If desired, rather than delve into a round-by-round battle where every single combatant is tracked. The gamemaster is encouraged to make this fray more visceral than specific, using narrative description where possible to keep the pressure and intensity driving, and breaking combat into short, brief, and brutal encounters.”


Unfortunately, the adventure doesn’t give much advice on “make this fray more visceral than specific, using narrative description where possible.” So that’s what I hope to do with this post. Give some guidance on how to set up the battle for your game to make it easy to run and enjoyable from a gameplay perspective while still being more thematic than a slog full of moving pieces.

Get your practical advice here!

Thank you for reading

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

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

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The Stafford House Campaign is Out

The book that some of us at ChaosiumCon were lucky enough to get is finally out to the general public! The full title is “Chaosium Archival Collection – Volume 1: The Stafford House Campaign“, but don’t get your hopes up about this ominous “Volume 1” bit… as far as I can tell, this is “just in case” they stumble upon more interesting stuff in their archives. It’s likely that there won’t be a second volume for years, or ever.

Anyway, this 84 pages book contains articles written by Greg Stafford between 1978 and 1981, in the very early days of RuneQuest and Glorantha.

Be transported in time to the earliest days of tabletop roleplaying games with the first volume of Chaosium’s Archival collection: The Stafford House Campaign.

Greg Stafford’s RuneQuest house campaign has a kind of legendary status among fans of the game. Many of the original RuneQuest playtesters took part in it, which was hosted either at the Stafford home on Evelyn Avenue in Berkeley, or the first Chaosium office nearby.

These articles were published in early gamging fanzines (or, technically, APAs… Amateur Press Associations) like The Wild Hunt, but there’s also some exclusive material in the book, such as three articles named “The Pharaoh’s Gazette”, on Greg’s Holy Country games, and some scans of his player record sheets.

I’ve been slowly reading through the book over the summer, as I was waiting for the official release before publishing a review on this website… expect that review later this week or next week! The short version is: it’s obviously a very deep-cut of RPG history and Gloranthan lore, but it’s an absolutely fascinating look into Greg’s games, and the shaping of the Hero Wars meta-plot.

In the meantime, you can get the PDF from DriveThruRPG, or from Chaosium directly. There’s also the softcover print-on-demand version available here.

RuneQuest Homelands

James Coquillat interviews Jeff Richard about RuneQuest’s homelands — those that are presented as character options in the rulebook. This is a good presentation for a new player, as Jeff gives the elevator pitch of each homeland with a little bit of flavour and excitement to make it come alive. There are also some recommendations at the end for picking which homeland is right for you.

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!

Eyes’ Rise

Jamie Revell is taking a break from western Genertela to give us a “small, mostly forgotten village on the River of Cradles“.

It includes nineteen NPCs that can provide interaction or story possibilities for RuneQuest or QuestWorlds games in Glorantha. Much of the material can also be converted to other systems or settings, so long as a half-abandoned frontier settlement might be in need of protection. It also provides a guide to the often-overlooked River Folk of the valley.

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.


Jeff wrote another semi-cryptic-but-also-semi-useful note about heroquesting:

A heroquest is an exploration of Glorantha’s collective unconsciousness – the realm of mythology. In a heroquest, the questers interact directly with the primal forces and archetypes that make up the world. Their mundane skills and abilities are largely irrelevant here – this the realm of Runes and magic. Material limits do not apply here: things may change shape and size; rivers flow uphill; one can breathe beneath the sea and walk on the Sky; and the very landscape may change without warning.

This isn’t the first time Jeff uses the “collective unconscious” as a reference to heroquesting and the God Time. I guess it’s important. But yeah, we’ve discussed this a bit in the past but I think it is a lot more helpful to newbies to describe heroquesting as “adventuring into the world of myths” rather than all this “re-enactment of myths” business we got from the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Of course, it also opens up a bunch of problems: newbie gamemasters need to have the basic elements of Gloranthan mythology in order to be able to riff on it. Not everybody has read books on Aztec or Mesopotamian history to get the basics of what these “primal forces and archetypes” actually do (but most people might have some general idea of what storm and death and hunting gods do from Norse or Greek mythologies, given their prevalence in pop culture).

This is where the Runes can be useful: Storm deities get tamed by Earth deities, Light deities crush Darkness deities, and so on. That Runic wheel on the character sheet is useful to get the general idea, although it’s not explained as such — hopefully that explanation will go with the heroquesting rules when they’re published. By the way, if you have the Sourcebook or the Guide, you might be confused about this slightly different version of the wheel:

Don’t worry… it’s… complicated. You don’t have to care too much as long as you have some general rule of thumb for how various mythic entities act most of the time (but don’t forget to throw some curve balls every now and then).

The focus on archetypes is significant. When I run a hero quest, the characters encounter the mighty Storm King or Emperor Sun, the Adventurer, the Thunderer, the Sword Man, the Earth Mother, the Wolf, the Bear, the Blue Serpent, the Talking God, the Knowing God, the White Lady, and others. Let the players name them.

This is both good for curve balls (“you thought this Storm God was Orlanth? Nope! You failed your roll so it’s another angry forgotten Storm God from the southern lands of fire!”) and for not having to name-drop many gods from Glorantha lore, which also means not having to know too much in the first place. You just know you need a Water deity over there, you don’t have to care “who” it might be.

Upon their return, the heroquesters bring back both the boons and banes they have gained through their adventure. The banes are many; careless words might bind them as geases, and they might lose parts of their personality or even soul. But the boons are equally mighty – the ability to bring forth some of the magic of the God Time and manifest it in the Now.

I find that figuring out a good power level for boons and banes is tricky — trickier than figuring out the power level of, say, some magical artifact given as a gift by an NPC or found in some loot. I hope there will be some advice on that with either the heroquesting rules or in the general gamemaster guide sections. As for losing “parts of their personality or even soul”, I assume this points at rules in which your character can lose points in Passions or POW or even possibly CHA. Harsh! (but fair)

Heroquesters use myths as guides and navigational beacons, study lore to find paths through the realm of mythology. Yet this can be like trying to find your way through a dream. Only a fool thinks they can effortlessly walk in the paths of the gods. Even the best-known stories can hold surprises, and our every action changes the landscape, like the rotation of a kaleidoscope.

Here we may be back in the land of newbie confusion, I think. Using myths as guides requires knowing those myths upfront (that is: Gloranthan lore) or making them up (which still requires some Glorantha lore, or at least some familiarity with general mythic archetypes, as said previously). It might also require some good way to introduce these “best-known stories” without tedious lore dumps.

Lunar Imperial Finances

Those of you who love spreadsheets might love this: Lunar taxes!

The Red Emperor normally collects [up to 4.5 million Lunars] a year from various sources (rent, harvest taxes, tolls, tribute, etc). That’s roughly comparable to what Antiochus III had access to.

Creative Commons photo

Antiochus III was a Hellenistic king in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE. He didn’t rule over ancient Greece proper though: he was in charge of the Seleucid Empire, the largest bit of Alexander’s old Macedonian Empire after it was broken up in pieces following his death. Here’s a map:

Creative Commons image

Now Jeff writes:

To maintain the Lunar Army at the wartime 1621 figures costs the Red Emperor [up to 4.2 million Lunars] a year. His cavalry costs about the same as the entire infantry, and the Lunar college of magic costs nearly half as much as the entire Cavalry Corps. Now that’s a wartime army – in peacetime it is probably [up to 3.3 million Lunars].

We had some military numbers from a previous note: 46000 infantry soldiers, about 20000 cavalry soldiers, a bit more than 7000 magicians, and about 4500 support troops. The vast majority of these people would have an average cost of living of 60L as per the RuneQuest rules, with a very small elite around 100 or 200L or more. That does indeed sum up to about 4.2 million Lunars.

There’s not a lot left to run the empire and, more importantly, for the Emperor to finance all his degenerate parties and stuff…

The Lunar Empire has been on a war footing since 1618, so those big rooms filled with gold wheels are now mostly empty, and the Red Emperor has been forced to do things like raise rents, create new taxes, loot temple treasuries, and all sorts of other measures – I mean nobody is going to expect Argenteus to cut down on the public largesse! The sieges of Whitewall and Nochet were absurdly expensive, and neither resulted in much plunder. Worse yet, the Pentans have disrupted the taxes in Oraya and First Blessed, and peasant rebellions (and the White Moon Movement) have troubled Karasal, Oronin, and even the Silver Satrapy! So revenues are way down, expenditures are up.

And then we get the Dragonrise and the defeat of the Lunar Army in the Redlands.

Jeff figures that the empire has been desperate to squeeze more taxes out of its Dragon Pass territories for however long they held them, and than these days maybe a bunch of Etyries (and possibly a few Issaries) merchants might start issuing IOUs to the government… more 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.

The Fortress of Azuer

The “Motilla de Azuer” is one of the several fortresses of middle Bronze Age Spain. It contains one of the oldest known wells in the Iberian Peninsula. It’s very likely that the people living there included farmers working the surrounding lands.

This might be a good reference for a small hill fort. And with its structure that scales up as you get to the centre, it’s begging for the player characters to try and take it!

You can do a virtual visit of the site here, follow someone else here, or visit for real here.

Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh

Photo © Osama S.M. Amin

For a 4000 year old text, the Epic of Gilgamesh is apparently surprisingly alive, at least in terms of finding new portions of it. World History has a few articles about how newly discovered tablets in varying preservation states can still bring new fragments of the story to light. This one on Tablet V is pretty interesting, as it mixes wartime looting, clandestine price negotiations, and mythical monkeys. The item (pictured above) was acquired in three broken pieces from smugglers by the Sulaymaniayh Museum in 2011, and it features about twenty extra verses about Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s adventures.

A Frog-Woman Ritual Gone Wrong

So there’s this recent discovery of a large frog graveyard in a mid-iron age archaeological site. The scientists have some super non-fun theories about the presence of 8000 frog bones there, but we all know that it’s probably some Frog-Woman fertility ritual gone wrong, right?

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 16: Ernaldan Adventuresses: Blood, Sex, and Rock’n’Roll

Episode 16 is about playing Ernaldan cultists and other Earth pantheon initiates! We have Katrin Dirim and Claudia Loroff with us, who summarizes Ernaldan priestesses as “blood, sex, and rock’n’roll”. We discuss Ernalda’s role in Glorantha and in our games, how to play non-combative characters, what the best Earth magic is, orgies and pregnancies, and more! Plus: Gloranthan cooking!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Anniversary of Gene Day’s Passing

Chaosium shared a few words on their social media accounts for the 40th anniversary of Gene Day’s passing:

Vale Gene Day, whose untimely passing was 40 years ago last week—in addition to being a rising star in comics, his art also left an indelible legacy upon many of Chaosium’s earliest board game and TTRPG releases (Nomad Gods, Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, Stormbringer and more).

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Gene’s most iconic art pieces for Chaosium are probably for Call of Cthulhu:

The cover painting was commissioned for Call of Cthulhu in 1981, but the Cthulhu image on the right originally comes from Gene’s 1979 limited ed art book ‘All Things Dark and Dangerous’ (Shadow Press, Canada).

But for Gloranthaphiles, he also did a few timeless depictions of Prax, in Nomad Gods for instance. We talk a bit about Gene’s art, and other Praxian matters, in our two episodes (part 1 and part 2) on this venerable board game.

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

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!

Teasing the Hero Wars in the East Isles

Neil Gibson is teasing some East Isles action!

Coming VERY soon, not one but TWO source books for the Hero Wars in the East Isles from Hannu Rytövuori, David Cake and Nils Weinander.
Vol 1. Korolan Islands: History, Geography, Player Background, Occupations, Mysticism, Martial Arts, Islands Details and more! (~87 pages)
Vol 2. Fires of Mingai: A starter campaign set in the East Isles with four, fully detailed scenarios. (~127 pages)

I love those covers!

Previewing the Pavis & Big Rubble Companion Remake

© 2022 Ian Thomson & Chaosium Inc.

Ian Thomson has a PDF preview for us while he’s doing some finishing touches to his upcoming Jonstown Compendium book. For those who don’t know, this is the relaunch of some of his old Pavis & Big Rubble Companion materials.

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 Wetlands of Lowland Peloria

Jeff shares some notes about the wetlands of lowland Peloria, which are located basically between Glamour and Alkoth. You can see the wetlands on this Argan Argar map in brown:

Unlike the Upland Marsh in Dragon Pass, these marshlands are densely populated. Other Pelorians refer to the inhabitants of these marshlands as Weeders. They build boats, huts, lodges, nets, and even clothing out of the reeds and rushes. They live off fishing, growing rice, and raising fowl and some other livestock.

Jeff uses a picture of the Arab marshes of Iraq for this. This is located in the wetlands near where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet — what used to be Mesopotamia in the Bronze Age. This is the suburbs of Uruk and other famous ancient cities, although I haven’t checked if there used to be wetlands back then too (climate and shorelines changed a lot in 4000 years!)

Photo by Nik Wheeler

The Weeders largely worship their Heron Goddesses, the Oslira River, and their local Boat Boy, along with some other minor deities and spirits. Shargash is often worshiped as an associated deity. They have proven stubbornly resistant to Seven Mothers missionaries.

If you want a reference for Weeders, you could simply look at the people who live there today:

This, for example, is a Mashoof, the traditional long canoe used to navigate these waters. Here’s a video if you want more references. It’s got everything, from the boats to the reed huts and the herons!


Since we’re on the shores of the Oslir river, Jeff writes about Oslira’s magic:

So I was recently pondering why Oslira does not provide Strongnet, unlike Engizi and Zola Fel. And I realized the answer is quite easy – the Oslira cult is not the cult of Weeders, who net fish.


Oslira’s cult is about keeping the river goddess happy (and within her embankments). It is far more agriculturally oriented than Zola Fel or Engizi. Fishing is often with spear by the River Priests, while with net by the Weeders.

I want to make an ironic quip here about RuneQuest and “sim-Glorantha” but I will refrain… oh, wait, I just did. Sorry. Anyway, the cool thing here is that Jeff points us to a 1950s photo of people spear-fishing in Iraq, and the spears are… not what you’d expect. Or not what I expected, at least. Here’s another picture with (as far as I can tell) more permissible licensing for sharing:

The spears look like long pitchforks with short spikes or something. Cool, eh?

By the way, if you want to know exactly what magic Oslira has, David Scott has you covered. And I like some of the discussion that followed, for instance about how Orlanth Thunderous is an associate cult of Oslira because its rains are the river’s source. David says:

Orlanth Thunderous is likely an associate of Oslira in the Grazelands, and Old Tarsh (where the rains fall at the headwaters), but as soon as it hits Tarsh, that’s likely it.

Some people asked why Heler isn’t the associate cult here, given that Heler is the actual rain god. Both David and Jeff replied, including this:

Heler is atmospheric water – Rain. He’s not the Cloud God – that’s Orlanth Thunderous. It is worth noting that Heler does not have Cloud Call (he gets that from Orlanth Thunderous). So he’s usually treated as an accoutrement of Orlanth, like Lightning, or the Sandals of Darkness, or the Mist Cloud. Orlanth is often depicted with a small blue god or goddess around him – the embodiment of Rain.

So you can consider that rain is one of Orlanth’s “cool stuff”, or you can personify this cool stuff into a separate deity. I vaguely remember a bunch of precedent for this, especially in Aztec and Mayan mythology, but I can’t find references at the moment. Anyway, if Orlanth’s rain can be turned into a spirit cult or even divine cult (depending on the place), Orlanth’s other cool stuff could also get the same treatment. Imagine the cult of the “dark sandals”, in which the main ceremonial activity is to relax in the shade? I’d sign up for lay membership.

The Drivers of the Hero Wars

Now we have another series of notes on everybody’s favourite Gloranthan meta-plot, the Hero Wars! (we had a similar series of notes a few months ago if I recall correctly). The four notes look at the first appearance of the “Gloranthan super-heroes” in the original board game White Bear & Red Moon.

Part 1 is about Glorantha’s Alexander, Argrath. Jeff mentions how Greg Stafford originally created a Second Age hero named Argat, which he later split in two by writing Arkat and Argrath into the setting:

Now it leaves everyone plenty of room to interpret – was Argrath a cynical but charismatic manipulator, was he a religious fanatic, was he a footloose adventuring rogue who found himself with great responsibilities, or was he seeking to redeem his ancestors and his people? Or maybe a bit of all of this? Your Argrath will vary, of course.

Regardless of our interpretation of Argrath the mundane individual, we know that he very much embodies Greg’s Hero Archetype for Glorantha, as Greg took his hero Argat (who defeated Gbaji and his empire in a Great War) and placed him in Dragon Pass to fight Gbaji-become-Red Goddess and her empire (Arkat and Gbaji get their own story a few years later with Cults of Terror).

There’s a bit more on Argrath here, which is very interesting: Greg designed the Orlanthi myths and customs around Argrath.

Let me just answer the underlying proposition – of course Argrath is a “good or at least acceptable Orlanthi hero”. He pretty much defines what an Orlanthi hero is. Remember, from a writer’s perspective, Greg created the Orlanthi around Argrath, not vice versa. Now we are all playing RQ in the Third Age as the Hero Wars are underway, so we don’t see things from that perspective, but that is how the Orlanthi were created as part of the setting – as the people Argrath comes out of and leads.

Greg created plenty of Orlanth’s myths to echo Argrath’s deeds – Orlanth and the Strange Gods, that parallels Argrath and his Praxian, Wolf Pirate, and draconic allies. The EWF was created as backstory behind the Hero Wars and the Dragontooth Runners. And the list goes on.

So with that in mind, it should not be surprising that Argrath manages to unify his people and lead them against the Lunar Empire, and was able to survive setbacks. He literally was created by Greg to be that hero for them! Now of course, there are people who distrust him, have rivalries with him, dispute his qualifications or competence – the same existed with Alexander of the Romances, Arthur, Achilles, and every other hero Greg was inspired by.

The other “drivers” of the Hero Wars are also presented as multi-faceted, with lots of room to interpretation in various games and game materials. Part 2 if about Harrek the Berserk:

Again, we have plenty of latitude for interpreting Harrek. Was he a murderous madman? A Conan-figure whose adventures bring him to the very heart of Glorantha’s mythology? Was he more of a Rustam figure who brought destruction often despite his best efforts?

I don’t think I have to explain who Conan is anymore than I need to explain Alexander, but Jeff gives other reference I didn’t know:

  • Rostam, a legendary hero from pre-Islamic Persian mythology. A quick search yields classic hero stuff: a holy warrior riding a fancy horse, going into dangerous and possibly inter-dimensional places inhabited by powerful demons, fighting his nemesis, killing his son without knowing who it was, and so on.
  • Bhima, one of the main figures in the famous Hindu epic family drama The Mahabharata. The story is roughly about the war between two groups of demi-god cousins, and he’s one of those. The Wikipedia page has a bunch of cool images that you could use to tweak your mental image of Harrek in unexpected ways.

In Part 3, the Red Emperor gets a bit of coverage — but a lot less than the previous two, probably because, I mean, it’s the Red Fucking Emperor, so being mysterious and distant is part of the vibe. Apart from his immediate entourage, I’m pretty sure nobody knows who he really is or even possibly what he looks like.

There are rumors that Moonson is little more than a figurehead, a walking icon that is the locus of Lunar worship, but actually all decisions and deeds are done by others. Other rumors suggest that each Moonson is an ambitious and remarkable figure capable of beating off rivals to gain and hold on the title. As with Argrath and Harrek, there is room for plenty of interpretations.

The last is of course the only lady in the superhero club, everyone’s favourite Gloranthan red-head, Jar-eel the Razoress:

And again, there is plenty of room for interpretation here. Jar-eel could be cheerfully amoral and ruthless, with a veneer of wry wit and smiles. She could be effortlessly awesome, a moral and artistic paragon, destined to combat savagery. She could be all of that, while doubts gnaw within her about her role, and whether she does in fact serve Gbaji.

Sheng Seleris Through a Pentan Lens

Jeff attempts to go over Sheng Seleris’ history through a Pentan point of view, rather than the usual Lunar one. In the Lunar version, he’s the ruthless horse nomad that brought the empire to its knees. In the Pentan version, he’s the ruthless horse nomad that brought the empire to its knees and that’s a good thing.

Now I present this not to whitewash Sheng Seleris but to remind folk that even his tale is not so straightforward. Sheng Seleris represented all that which had been usurped by the Red Goddess and her dynasty – the Imperial Light of Yelm, the Golden Empire. It is easy to see that if Orlanth needed to resurrect Dead Yelm to restore the cosmos, then Argrath needed to resurrect dead Sheng Seleris to restore the world.

The God Learners’ Trickster Studies

If you look at the Guide to Glorantha, you might blink and miss the write-up for Thanor:

Thanor (ruin): In the Second Age, this city was the capital of Slontos. The notorious “Trickster College” was here, an important school of the God Learners. The ruins are now half-submerged and home to schools of fish and Ludoch.

This is one of the reasons I love the Guide. I skim over cool stuff all the time, and then when I skim the same pages a different way, I pick up different cool stuff. Anyway, Jeff spells it out more:

The God Learners were fascinated by the Trickster Archetype. They believed (quite correctly) that this archetype was powerful and a key driver of the events of the Godtime. Eurmal was the most fully-fleshed out Trickster cult, but there were so many others. Raven, Rakenveg, Firebringer, Bolongo, Ratslaff, and more. Members of one cult could use magic from another, and so on. Another theory was that Arkat-Nysalor might be somehow connected to this.

And so the God Learners gathered everything they could and made a veritable Clown College in Thanor. Great insights and discoveries were made – and at its height, the seas came in and Thanor was submerged. Everything figures that was just another one of Eurmal’s jokes – a thank you for bringing all of his parts together in one place.  

Given that I have an Eurmali player in my game, I suddenly have various crazy ideas for western travels…

Miscellaneous Notes

Community Roundup

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

Newt’s Awesome Broo

Newt Newport (of D101 Games and OpenQuest fame) is going through a Gloranthan relapse over at his Arkat’s Playground blog. This article on “Why I Keep Coming Back to Glorantha” is a nice love letter to the setting… but also I love that giant Broo miniature!

Photo by Newt Newport

All Hail the Red Emperor!

Art by Katrin Dirim

Katrin Dirim (who was one of our guests in this month’s episode) did this wonderful portrait of the Red Emperor!

Some RuneQuest Actual Plays

I came across a couple of rare RuneQuest actual plays that some of you might be interested in. I haven’t listened to or watched them yet so I can’t vouch for them.

The first one is a podcast from Just Barbarian Things, and it runs through most of the Starter Set (except the Rainbow Mounds) in almost a dozen episodes.

The other one is from the Esoteric Order of Roleplayers (who feature in the above podcast). They have one series called Prophecies of Doom that goes through The Broken Tower, some Apple Lane action, and Snakepipe Hollow. And then there’s another unnamed series that is a bit more eclectic in its adventure choices, with a mix of The Rattling Wind, Gaumata’s Vision, and more.

Going Solo: RuneQuest SoloQuest

TrooperSJP has a Twitch stream about playing the RuneQuest Starter Set’s solo adventure.

Beat-Pot Meme

Here’s a stupid Beat-Pot meme! No notes.

Thank you for reading

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

For this episode we welcome two guests: Katrin Dirim and Claudia Loroff.

The Guests

Claudia is part of Jeff’s house campaigns with notable characters like Gina Gravedancer in the White Bull campaign, Yanioth, and the snake-dancer mystic in the HeroQuest Glorantha examples. Claudia is also the author of an upcoming Gloranthan cookbook. It is about 95% done, and is a travel guide accompanying Yanioth and Sorala, from Boldhome via New Pavis to Wintertop.

The difficulty level is kept rather low. There are recipes for starting your own yeast or sourdough, although you can buy finished starters. The travelogue also takes down their experience, like pub crawls, feasting with Argrath, etc. Kitchen hardware includes a fire-pit, a big cauldron (preferable out of enchanted iron), and the usual cutlery.

Katrin is the sole illustrator of the upcoming Prosoaedia, with two pieces in the Starter Set. Katrin is also prominent in the Jonstown Compendium, as in History of Malkionism, Six Paths, some pieces in Corn Dolls, and a major contribution of map-like illustrations for the travelogue narrative and numerous smaller pieces in Martin Helsdon’s upcoming book on ships and sailing around southern Genertela. That book will also feature quite a number of illustrations by Mark Smylie. See links at the bottom of these show notes.

Ludo talks about the Aztec-like style of representations of deities for the Prosopaedia and the pantheon maps.

Main Topic: Ernaldan Adventuresses

Today’s topic is about Ernalda, the Queen of the Gods.

Claudia as the professional Ernalda player does a short presentation of the Earth goddesses.

We learn about the in-house brainstorming sessions between Jeff Richard, Claudia and Neil Robinson about how to make the Cult of Ernalda playable for adventuring. The Cult has been around for a long time – she only finds mention as associate cult in Cults of Prax, but her cult was the first to be published for the third edition of RuneQuest, in booklet 5 (the short introduction to Glorantha) of the deluxe boxed set. This was presented in the same long cult format that was used by both Cults of Prax and Cults of Terror (and in the other RQ2 products with cult descriptions).

Ernalda and the accompanying Dendara would remain the only full cult write up for a few years, followed by Kyger Litor in the Trollpak reprint and the expanded other Troll Gods (and Kyker Litor again) in that box, and the three major Elder Races cults in Elder Secrets: Mostal, Aldrya, and Kyger Litor (yet again). The RQ3 Renaissance brought us updated  cults of Yelmalio, the Lightbringers from Cults of Prax, Zola Fel, Cacodemon and the Cults of Terror reprint Lords of Terror.

Claudia advocated a course for playing Ernalda cultists that she dubs as “Blood, Sex and Rock’n Roll”. Ernalda is about sacrifices of animals, with the meat being used for feasts giving back to the communities, and her rites also include quite a bit of sex as a healthy community requires a steady supply of children.

Ernalda is at the heart of the Orlanthi communities. Claudia points out that initiates and even more so God Talkers and Priestesses of Ernalda are welcome in any Orlanthi community.

Claudia stresses the importance of the Charisma spell and how her characters tend to solve a lot of problems using the skills Sing and Dance for ritual support of other players or in worship. For conflicts, there are war songs, battle cries, and war dances, possibly intoxicated on drugs or ritual drinks.

In the new treatment, Ernalda becomes an active deity rather than the damsel in distress.

We go through the other Earth goddesses:

  • Babeester Gor is the always angry death-wielding daughter of Ernalda. Fairly easy to play, but possibly a bit one-dimensional.
  • Maran Gor , the Earth Shaker goddess, who still remains a challenge for an interesting character concept.
  • Ty Kora Tek, which lets you play a necromancer in Glorantha. Ty Kora Tek is the twin sister of Asrelia, only mentioned as an associate cult in the core rules. She is the caretaker of the souls of the dead, an Underworld goddess who welcomes the dead as they let go of their mundane lives and rest in her halls waiting to be reborn. This makes her an important part of the cycle of life. Ty Kora Tek provides a good afterlife for the dead, as long as their descendants commemorate them with sacrifices and rites. Her role starts with the proper burials of the dead, putting their ghosts  to rest, etc.

Claudia points out one problem with all the Earth pantheon cults – all the cool spells are usually rune magic. While you need to be careful about spending your rune points, the spells tend to be kick-ass – Claudia riffs off about Earth elementals, Command Ghost, and others.

Ludo addresses the gender (or sex) limitations of many of these Earth goddesses, at least at the top ranks in the hierarchy.

Katrin re-tells the Making of the Storm Tribe and how Ernalda manages and manipulates all those disorganized and selfish Storm deities, giving them a common foe to unite against. At the end of these events, Orlanth asks his wife how the foe knew about where the meeting was to take place, and Ernalda tells him not to worry about that. Which Orlanth wisely does.

Ludo asks about the relationship between Ernalda and Dendara, and Katrin points out that Dendara (who is mainly the wife of Yelm) is mainly the goddess of wives, whereas Ernalda is the Queen of the Gods and the representation of the Earth without which nothing works.

Ludo points towards Esrolia as the center of her cult’s power, but Claudia stresses her importance already in the more male-cult dominated Sartar. In Nochet, she is the absolute ruler, and can dictate what to do, while in Dragon Pass she has to be a bit more roundabout, reminding kings as well as ordinary people that her blessings come with a cost (sacrifice and worship), and that she can become a bit ugly if neglected.

Ludo asks about the importance to have those female avenger cults like Babeester Gor or Maran when Ernalda has all those husband protector cults she can throw into the breach. Claudia reminds us about the scarcity of worshippers of these cults in Sartar. Esrolia may see a slightly higher proportion, or at least significantly higher absolute numbers because of its much larger population.

Maran Gor has her special temple in the Wintertop area, the Shaker’s Temple. Maran is the goddess of the wrathful earth and of earthquakes, with her worship mainly as propitiation to keep her from destroying or disrupting everything. Babeester is the Earth avenger, which is a rather narrow field.

Babeester Gor is also the lost daughter, standing for a lot of things that Ernalda doesn’t do or encompass. Babeester is angry most of the time, something that Ernalda rarely is.

Katrin gives an example how to make worshippers of Babeester Gor less boring or stereotypical, by stressing the investigative aspect of chasing down offenders. Her hot pursuit of such criminals makes her a possible choice for playing a detective. Ludo talks about “Sherlock Holmes with an axe”.

Ludo compares Babeester Gor’s birth to parents losing their temper, and only to regret the outburst five minutes later.

Claudia emphasizes that roleplaying opportunities can be made where others don’t see them. She talks about planning a role-playing session around a funeral feast with mysterious deaths, in the style of Agatha Christie.

Jörg sums up some of the ideas as having Babeester Gor as a James Bond-like provocateur with a license to kill where husband cults may balk at the prospect.

Ludo asks about how to attract more female players to Glorantha, and whether the cult of Ernalda is the vehicle to do that.

Claudia talks about the male and female archetypes available in RuneQuest and Glorantha. She mentions the considerable initial hurdle to overcome when entering the setting, and how having some of these gender limitations may help a player new to Glorantha to identify with the character.

Once you have made your entry into the setting, you can play around with breaking the expectations of archetypes and requirements.

Claudia tells how almost dying in childbirth gave her a different perspective on motherhood and parenthood in the setting.

Katrin agrees that while some aspects of Bronze Age life and how Glorantha works may appear stark and disturbing, dealing with those can make the experience of the setting richer.

Claudia recounts how she played in the Esrolian campaign around (future) queen Samastina, and how the party made sure that the character got pregnant from an important political marriage, and how Claudia’s Ernaldan priestess helped make sure that she became very pregnant, actually resulting in twins being born. There also were processions where the pregnant queen would emphasize her pregnant belly to the onlookers with gold dust, etc.

On a less exalted level, having a big feast in the village when asking for the blessings of the gods, slaughtering the sacrificial animals and making good dishes out of the meat.

With Ty Kora Tek, it is surprising how many ghosts you can control or lay to rest, gaining quite a bit of oomph out of that.

It is OK to be relegated to a support role in battle situations when you lead the social interactions, which can take up more of the game than actual combat.

Ludo brings up the political game, with intrigue, creating a social as well as an information or even spy network, with lots of minions and followers.

Claudia points out that you will find an Ernaldan shrine or better in even the tiniest village, which allows players of Ernalda cultists to have some sway or, at least, contacts anywhere they go.

Jörg points out that Ernalda is the wedding planner of basically everyone, and the networks of exogamous marriages will give you a female kinswoman in every other tribe.

Claudia emphasizes the role of Ernalda as the wise woman, allowing a player to inject her ideas as divine wisdom into the community.

Katrin talks about that little Ernaldan babooshka you will find in every village without whom everything would cease to function.

Ludo laments that RuneQuest combat can hog a lot of game time, making it hard to keep non-combat type characters engaged in such segments.

Claudia suggests being creative about skills and their application, like challenging Jar-eel using her dance skill, hindering her enough to be able to attain a heroquest station objective despite her opposition. This is well beyond the normal scope of the skill, but in the situation (in a magically different environment) it gave her character a handle on the situation. (But then, that is more of a Questworlds mindset of how to use interestingly named skills.)

The rules system is a guidance, not something set in stone.

Claudia also advocates to leave the healing to characters other than the Earth worshippers. We also learn about why Yanioth has a beast rune of 75%.

Katrin points out that there are better things to do than “I hit ‘em with my sword” for three hours. In one of her games, a Chalana Arroy cultist had their snake familiar entangle a combatant’s legs to take them out without actual bloodshed.

Claudia enthuses about Command Swine when facing Tusk Riders.

Jörg points out that all those monstrous swine were ultimately sent against the people of the region as punishment for neglecting the goddess, showing the ugly side of the cult.

Claudia admits that her earth worshippers tend to have some skill with axe and shield, but that is often more fun to stand back and use your skills in a more creative way. Rather than swinging a sharp implement for hours, she prefers supporting the fighters, cheer-leading them or raising the onlookers as a support force to overwhelm the opposition.

Ludo compares the role of Ernalda as a support character with multi-player video games. Claudia points out that while that may be the case in combat situations, the Ernalda player will often take the spotlight in social interaction, possibly having been the matchmaker for a local, being the first to get access to dirty secrets etc., likely side-lining the combat types.

“There is always another way”: Ludo asks about situations where an Ernaldan character would have spoiled a perfectly fine opportunity to have a battle.

Claudia recalls one game that had been very battle-heavy, to the extent that the entire party decided it was too dangerous, leaving the challenge unanswered. That made for a very short game as the GM had prepared mainly for that conflict.

Other GMs including Jeff experience again and again how a game unfolds very differently from what they prepared, often because of group dynamics, so that may actually be “the other way”.

Sometimes this can come about from real world influences. Katrin reminiscences about a case where a player had to leave abroad for two (weekly) sessions, returning to come into the chaotic aftermath of an attack on their community, gracing the other players and their characters with a scathing “I leave you alone for two weeks, and that’s what happens!”

Heroquesting for and with Ernalda and female archetypes: Claudia gives us a small peek into the playtesting of the new heroquesting rules, using Greg Stafford’s old maps of the hero plane (quite likely something like the “spiral map” that is shown in Arcane Lore) which had aspects of the earth pantheon. Meeting Aldryami, stone trees, doing “not very kids-appropriate” adult interaction, playing with the archetypes and the runes and passions. In the end, runes, passions and rune spells are the major elements that you use in the hero plane rather than mundane skills or average spirit magics.

Carrying children into battle? Putting the peace into a battle scene? Or rather putting Darwinism into action, survival of the fittest? Claudia retorts that Ernalda likes (watching) a fight, then marrying the victor.  “Marrying for a year and a day is fine, it’s enough.”

Ernalda has very weird children? “They are all beautiful”. Then Katrin mentions how difficult it was in the catalogue of the gods to fit all of Ernalda’s children into the diagram.

Ludo asks how pregnancies and having kids works out inside the game. Claudia reports how some aspects of real life arrangements getting the grandmother to look after the children crept into the game once, still being easier in game than it would be in real life.

“All the interesting magic is rune magic”. Does Ernalda have a big advantage in that regard? Claudia advocates to go for the throat, dropping the rune spells for good effect, and enjoying failure when it happens as those moments can be the most memorable (and the most fun, at least in hindsight).

Claudia’s favourite spells for earth worshippers:

  • Earth Elemental
  • Command Ghost (slay first, interrogate later)
  • Inviolable
  • Charisma

How does use of Charisma work out in the game? Ludo points out that the skill boost is likely minimal, but Claudia answers that you don’t need to roll skills, and just play to the story.

Katrin reminds that RuneQuest is not a game of slow attrition, but of few periods of high tension and glossed over dull everyday life.

Claudia also confesses that the GM may award the players regaining the rune points as a reward.

Jörg asks how to make getting back the rune points fun in the game, and Katrin’s suggestion of sacrifice and rites gets appropriated by Claudia’s “a roll in the field”, which leads to the question how much of a veil you drop onto the resulting sex and drugs and rock’n roll. Unsurprisingly, it depends on the people you play with.

In conclusion, Claudia talks about her two images of Ernalda – one is the voluptuous, broad-hipped fertility goddess, the other are the Minoan snake-dancers. Katrin confirms that those curves are a necessary feature when she is drawing Earth characters.

And with that, we conclude our episode.


While quite a few of the projects mentioned above still need to get published, here is a list of works already that feature Katrin’s stunning art prominently:

  • The History of Malkionism by Nick Brooke, illuminated by Katrin Dirim, with extensive bonus material on the art direction
  • The Six Paths, a sourcebook on gender among the Heortlings, by Edan Jones, art by Katrin Dirim

You can see Claudia play her Ty Kora Tek necromancer, Gina Gravedancer, in the White Bull actual play series.


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