Journal of Runic Studies #19


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

We are now occupying a nice little tower with a long history of previous occupants who have left behind documents, tablets, artifacts, and other kinds of junk. As we clean up and archive these things, we share the most interesting ones with you.

Runic Rants: Experience Checks (Parts 2 and 3)

I got a bit too enthusiastic about this topic so instead of a two-part series it became a three-part series.. . The good news is that part 2 and part 3 have been published this week, so you can bask in the glory of my fancy graphs!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

The RuneQuest Starter is Really Really Coming Out Soon We Promise

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

The Chaosium marketing machine is currently busy with a Call of Cthulhu-filled Halloween season, since this year marks this amazing game’s 40th anniversary, but they took some time to update us on the much awaited RuneQuest Starter Set box:

The RuneQuest Starter Set is now in four of our five Chaosium fulfilment warehouses (US, EU, AUS, CAN) but we’re still waiting to get it into the last – UK. The shipment to the UK is on the way, but the latest advice is it may take another 5-14 days to arrive, depending on UK customs and truck driver availability at the destination.

Thanks, Brexiters!

RuneQuest en Francais

Not quite Chaosium news, but Chaosium-adjacent: Studio Deadcrows, the French licensee for RuneQuest, has received the first physical copies of their RuneQuest translations and extra contents (besides the rulebook and bestiary, that is, which are already out there).

Top left are some handouts and reference sheets. Middle top is a magic spells reference book which is not the Red Book of Magic — instead it’s just a reference booklet for spells found in the rulebook and bestiary, and in fact it was announced before we even knew about the Red Book of Magic.

Bottom left is the Glorantha Sourcebook, of course.

Top right and bottom right are the Dundealos-centered campaign called “Enfants de la Flamme” (“Children of the Flame”). This book (whose PDF is available to backers) contains a history of the Dundealos tribe, an in-depth description and map of Swentown, and six scenarios set in 1625 and 1626 that take adventurers from Swenville to Prax to the reconquest of ancestral Dundealos lands, and to a meetup with Argrath.

Jonstown Compendium

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

The Black Spear in Hardcover

© 2021 Nick Brooke, Mike O’Connor, and Chaosium Inc.

Well that was quick! Nick Brooke’s latest RuneQuest adventure is now available in both standard and premium print hardcover from DriveThruRPG.

The Howling Tower and Stone and Bone on Sale

© 2021 Devin Cutler, Nick Brooke, Dario Corallo, Gianni Vacca, and Chaosium Inc.

The Howling Tower is one sale for Halloween!

© 2021 Beer With Teeth and Chaosium Inc.

Also, Beer With Teeth have lowered the price of their Praxian encounter adventure Stone and Bone!

Coming Soon: Sandheart Volume 4

© 2021 Jon Webb and Chaosium Inc.

Jon Webb, author of the excellent Sandheart series of adventures, is showing us the cover of the imminent fourth volume, The God Skin & Mad Prax. It contains two adventures, one by Jon Webb and one by Michael O’Brien. You can grab Volume One, Volume Two, and Volume Three through these affiliate links!

Jeff’s Notes

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

Lunar Tarsh Notes

Tarsh is a historically Orlanthi kingdom located northwest of Dragon Pass, but it fell under Lunar rule many generations ago — it’s now a Lunar province.

Cartography by Matt Ryan © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Jeff tells us about the people living there:

About 35% of the population of Lunar Tarsh are members of Lunar cults and a little less than 20% of the population of Lunar Tarsh came from or are descended from settlers from the Lunar Heartlands. Now that is a big number – about 60,000 people – and is mostly concentrated in Furthest (where they make up the majority of the population) and along the Oslir River between Kordros Island and Talfort, with a few colonies on the Kordros Island and around Stopover. This is sometimes called the “Maize Belt” – at least by Matt Ryan and I!

Jeff recommends looking at Ancient Greek colonies in Persia, Syria, and Bactria as a model for Furthest and its surroundings — an island of Lunar Heartland culture in an otherwise Theyelan land. More specifically, Alexandria Eschate (“Furthest Alexandria”) sounds like a direct inspiration for Glorantha’s Furthest: an Imperial outpost in conquered lands, meant to radiate its owning Empire’s language and culture in a semi-independent way.

This worked to some degree: the people in this Maize Belt abandoned Orlanthi clan structures and are using “Pelorian kinship organization”, where networks of kin and associates are maintained through the kingdom. Lands are granted by the (Lunar) King, not by the Earth temples like in Sartar. In Furthest proper, 70% of people are members of Lunar cults, “which is higher than pretty much anywhere outside of Glamour.” Most interestingly: “unlike Glamour, in Furthest Lunar authority is not filtered through the Yelm cult but is there directly.”

Outside of this area, however, Orlanthi traditions continue, including lands divided by clan. But officials appointed by the provincial authorities in Furthest are responsible for managing disputes and local affairs, instead of some Orlanth Rex representative like in Sartar.


This is wonderful: Jeff has shared the full map of Sartarite tribes and clans. We already featured a similar map last week but this one contains The Far Place too, among other things… and this is actually throwing a big wrench in the world-building I did for my ongoing Alone Confederation campaign! But hey, this was bound to happen!1

Sketch by Jeff © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Clans south of the Creek speak Sartarite, while those in the northern Far Place speak Tarshite. Jeff warns us that there might be errors here and there until Matt Ryan, Chaosium’s cartographer, makes this correct and pretty. Also, remember that this map only shows the terroritories “alloted to each clan by the major Earth temples”. In practice, “many clan members live in cities and settlements outside of their territories”, and herding can cross these lines. Of course, that’s not even counting contested territorial claims.

Among the top dozen or so most powerful and influential clans in Sartar would have be the Black Rock, Blue Jay, Heran, Ernaldoring, Orlmarth, Taraling, Orleving, Goodhaven, Red Cow, Danstarl, Jereni Bird, Vari, White Quartz, and Sigtani Clans. Some new clans with a lot of clout would have to include the Red Hands and the Sharp Knives. Prior to 1613, the Lorthing Clan would have been on that list, but not any more.

1 It’s not too bad, I can adjust a few things if I need to (such as if I want to publish something on the Jonstown Compendium that is compatible with Chaosium’s Glorantha).

Cults Memberships

Jeff has confirmed that the still-in-progress Cults Book for RuneQuest will contain a break-down of cult memberships by homelands and elder races. These homelands seem to stretch across Peloria, Dragon Pass, and the Wastes. This includes of course the Homelands of the rulebook’s character creation chapters, but also various Lunar provinces, different Praxian tribes, and Holy Country regions. For the Elder Races, different sub-types of Aldryami are mentioned, a split between Dagori Inkarth and the Shadow Plateau for the Uz, and more. See the full list here.

Community Roundup

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

Pookie Reviews the Red Book of Magic

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Prolific reviewer and editor Pookie, from Reviews From R’lyeh, gives us another one of his RuneQuest reviews with the Red Book of Magic:

[…] The Red Book of Magic is a resource in game and out, and thus any character–and thus his player or her Game Master—could consult its pages (barring technicalities such as literacy of course). Most of all though, with descriptions of hundreds of spells, The Red Book of Magic is a simple and accessible resource to have at the table, its size making it a lot easier to reference than the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha rulebook.

Drowning Rules from Beer With Teeth

Diana “Berra” Probst has been on a blogging roll lately, and one of her latest articles tweaks the RuneQuest rules to make drowning slower and more realistic. And also mostly to prevent you from total-party-knock-outs!

All three times I recall drowning rules going into action in my games, it’s been three instant knock-outs to the chest. That’s not really how it works – drowning is slow IRL and pretty horrible. Magical healing also takes the punch out of the damage to a particular location, if you get there in time. So I have an alternative, which I use in games where I want to be nice to my players.

Sex and Gender in the Orlanthi

Andrew Logan Montgomery blogged about the (mostly solo) introduction adventures to Six Seasons in Sartar (which he wrote and is a best-seller on the Jonstown Compendium).

© 2021 Andrew Logan Montgomery and Chaosium Inc.

These mini-adventures introduce players to Sartarite society via their adulthood rituals, which are separated between Orlanth’s “Rite of Passage” and Ernalda’s “Riddle”. Andrew wrote these adventures by heavily drawing from Greg Stafford’s pre-existing write-ups (available here and here from the Well of Daliath’s archives). This division of children in two camps obviously opens up many questions regarding sex and gender, and Andrew makes a good effort to answer them in this article.

In the Orlanthi mind, then, “biological” sex is simply about procreation. Humans and animals are born male and female simply for there to be an orderly continuation of the species. It has nothing to do with gender. In fact sex has little to do with the essential nature or being of a person. […]

“Gender” is something deeper. Unlike “shape,” it determines the inner nature of the individual, their role in society, and most importantly which gods they are called to.

It’s one possible way to think about sex and gender in Orlanthi society, but it’s mostly a very good designer’s note for any gamemaster planning to run Six Seasons in Sartar.

Sweet 3D-Printed Props

Over on Discord, Pig_Soldier showed us some really cool props any Glorantha gamemaster would love to have around the table, setting the mood!

Gloranthan Armor

Let’s continue the awesomeness with Sardonicus over on Twitter, showing off some really cool Sartarite armor!

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.

Rytma by Ali Eser

Turkish artist Ali Eser is working on some project called Rytma, “set on an island inspired by mediterranean enironments“. Where in Glorantha could this be?

Alexander’s People by J.F. Oliveras

Another artist, this time from Spain! J.F. Oliveras is working on a project about Alexander the Great and his successors, and you can get a good look of that on his ArtStation.

Thank you for reading

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

Updates: a previous version of this article misattributed the Red Book of Magic review to SkullDixon instead of Pookie.

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