Journal of Runic Studies #22


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.

Observations on the Chalana Arroy Infirmary of REDACTED

We continue to take writing prompts from the Chaosium Discord, and this week the topic was “Chalana Arroy”. I wrote some cautionary tale about what happens when you apply the Laws of Robotics to the pacifism of healers…

I didn’t share my concerns with the High Healer but I sometimes wonder about how we choose who receives the help of spirits and gods, and who receives simple bandages and herbs. Surely the most equitable way is to do everything we can for the first people who wander into the inner yard? Sister […] said I was extremely naive. That we needed to manage our resources “like managing our grain to last the winter“. I pointed out that nobles get more bread than stick-pickers, and that surely Chalana Arroy wouldn’t want such inequality. We pondered this for a while, but Sister […] only replied that the High Healer surely knew this.

You can read the whole short story here!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Interlude: Unrelated to Glorantha but related to Chaosium, this month and week was the 40th Anniversary of Ludo’s favourite game, Call of Cthulhu! So if you want a break from swords and sandals, go check it out!

Out Now! The RuneQuest Starter Set!

Art by Ossi Hiekkala © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Yep, finally, after several months of dramatic shipping hurdles, the RuneQuest Starter Set is here! You can order it from here and receive the PDFs right away. However, you’re also encouraged to support your local friendly game store, especially if they are part of the Bits & Mortar program, which also gives you access to the PDFs when you buy in-store. Ask them! And if they’re not part of the program, tell them it’s easy to sign up for it!

Warning: As of this writing, please note that demand for the Starter Set already outnumbered supply in the United Kingdom distribution center! I blame the vast amount of RuneQuest grognards in the UK… you know who you are! Will we be able to empty the other warehouses, too?

Starter Set Marketing Round-Up

Art by Mark Smylie © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

Artist Mark Smylie had a few nice things to say about Glorantha, RuneQuest, and the Starter Set (all of which he’s been involved in). Artist Ossi Hiekkala also previously had his own take.

There is also the official “Chaosium Unveiled” video that shows off all the amazing contents of this ridiculously low-priced box:

There was a release party at the Otherland Bookshop in Berlin that Chaosium’s Jason Durall and Jeff Richard attended. You can find several videos of the event on their Twitter feed:

And finally, there’s blog post with recommendations about what to do after you’re done with the Starter Set. I like that Chaosium gives a slight preference to the Gamemaster Screen Pack, with its many resources and adventures.

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.

Myth and History

Jeff wants us to know that myth isn’t magick’ed up distant history.

Rather it is a way of understanding how the archetypes and symbols of meaning fit together into a greater whole. The Runes, the Twins, Ouroborous, the Rival Brothers, the Mother and Child, and other archetypes are combined together in stories and make patterns, some eternal, some subject to change or reinterpretation.

One can learn and study myths but as their sources arise beneath the rational the best is to experience them yourself and assembly these symbols personally.

Horse Riders

A common motif in parts of Western Sartar (particularly around Runegate and Chormsland) is the Horse Rider and the Goddess. Most stories associate them with King Yarandros or Derik Pol-Joni and Sorana Tor or Kero Fin, or else with the Feathered Horse Queen and one of her suitor-husbands (Sartar or Tarkalor most commonly), although many of these images likely predate the Dragonkill War. The Yelmalio cultists claim that this represents Yelmalio and Ernalda (or sometimes another goddess). Many correct interpretations are possible, as this motif exists on many mythic substrata.

Some of these motifs, I suppose, go even further west and into Tarsh, or maybe originate from there. Yarandros was a King of Tarsh in the early 15th century, and the reason he might fit the “Horse Rider” archetype is that he stole a sacred stallion from the Grazelanders (which provoked a war).

Sorana Tor is a recurring Earth Goddess of sorts, and actually participated in the founding of the Kingdom of Tarsh. Sometimes she’s considered an avatar of Kero Fin, and some Feathered Horse Queens have been known to identify strongly to either of those figures.

A mistake that often happens is that people assume that there is a single correct interpretation of a mythic motif (and that usually whichever came first chronologically – which is obvious nonsense when dealing with the God Time) – but these symbols can be placed next to many others and still have power.

I think this is potentially important when Heroquesting, especially when I recall Jeff’s comments about identification being based on mythic motifs and archetypes, not on any actual names of deities. So I think you can see a tale or painting or bas-relief of a mounted fighter wooing a woman and say that this is “obviously”, say, Yarandros and Sorana Tor. But it could be interpreted differently, or told differently, and the magical mythical potential therein wielded for, say, some hero worship of King Sartar and Feathered Horse Queen Eneera Tor.

Same thing happened about four generations ago with Elmal. The old trappings failed but he gained new power as Yelmalio.

Community Roundup

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

The Gaming Gang Unboxes the RuneQuest Starter Set

You can already order the Starter Set for yourself by now, but maybe you’re on the fence about the it, and maybe all of the previous unboxing videos we’ve linked to weren’t enough? Well, here’s another one! It starts around about 33 minutes into the video, and it last for almost an hour of in-depth look.

Pixel Art Paper Miniatures

Art by Dipster

Over on Discord, Dipster has shared this awesome collection of character portraits and paper standees for their RuneQuest game… a game that looks quite fun, if the weird and diverse collection of adventurers is any indication!

RQStaffan Playing the Starter Set SoloQuest Adventure

If you’re available at next Friday evening, you can watch RQStaffan go through the Starter Set SoloQuest adventure on Twitch! The Twitch stream is here, and it will happen at 20:30 EST. I’m sure there will be a recording on Twitch or YouTube later.

Far Flung Duck Minitatures

Far Flung Figures is currently sculpting some models for producing duck miniatures. In case, you know, you didn’t have enough duck miniatures. Which seems unlikely.

Most of these miniatures are spread across various fantasy styles and historical periods, though, so you’ll have to pick and choose. You can see their progress on their Facebook page.

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.

Virtual Visit of Hattusa

Here’s a pretty in-depth visit of Hattusa, capital of the bronze age Hittite Kingdom. The gates, the big temple to the Hittite Storm God, and some general stuff about urban architecture and development will surely come in handy to add some flavour and details to your Gloranthan games!

This is What Moonfire Looks Like

Photo by Eric Houck

Don’t mess with Lunar sorcerers because that’s how you get Moonfire all over your house.

Arnold Friberg’s Book of Mormon

Arnold Friberg did these paintings inspired by the Book of Mormon. I think there are lots of cool visuals to steal for Glorantha in there!

How Bronze Age Horses Conquered the Old World

(…and eventually the new world, too)

The First Horse Warriors is a video about the introduction of horse riding into warfare. Dan Davis, an author of novels set in the Bronze Age, keeps putting out videos based on his background research that give good information on a period of history your school learning probably hasn’t mentioned.

One weird take-away from this are the Mesopotamian war wagons (I hesitate to call them chariots) drawn by donkey-onager half-breeds. Chariots like this are mentioned in connection with Gilgamesh.

Gloranthan horsemanship has moved past such initial experiments, though. The earliest mounted forces in Gloranthan myth may have been the Ratite Empire avilry riding augner war-birds, from a time when riverine Dara Happa still used fluffy-downed gazzam dinosaurs as their animal muscle.

Thank you for reading

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

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