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.
Initiation Series Episode 1: Ludovic, The Dark Eye, the Guide, and Maps
We released the inaugural episode of the “Gloranthan Initiation Series”, where we talk to people who came into contact with Glorantha and/or RuneQuest rather recently, and ask them about their experience and previous experience. In this episode, our own Ludovic (hey that’s me!) acted a guinea pig for our questionnaire, since he qualifies as a “newbie”.
We want to say thank you to all the newbies who volunteered to be interviewed for this series. Their interviews will start airing next month, on a roughly monthly basis in between “regular” God Learners episodes. We think these interviews are interesting: we learn where people are coming from, how they approach an old and complicated setting like Glorantha, and what their struggles and joys are. Hopefully this will also remind a few “old hands” what it was like to be a newcomer in Glorantha!
Here are this week’s Chaosium news!
Weapons & Equipment Is Coming Next Month
I’m still waiting for my Starter Set to arrive, and we’re already getting a notice that the next RuneQuest sourcebook, the Weapons & Equipment Guide, is coming on December 10th! I really like these covers by Ossi Hiekkala…
Play the Starter Set SoloQuest in your Browser
The Battle of Dangerford solo adventure from the RuneQuest Starter Set is now playable for free in your browser! This is a great way to get a taste of the world of Glorantha and the RuneQuest rules, and it’s easy to send the link to a friend. It’s also of course great if you are in a very boring online work meeting…
The RuneQuest Wiki is Online
It’s not really a wiki per se since only Chaosium people can edit it or see pages’ history, but hey, that’s what’s it’s called… anyway, it’s online!
The website is meant to be an easy reference for newcomers to Glorantha and RuneQuest, so there won’t be much for those of you who have all the core books, except for a couple surprises (see below). It will serve as a handy reference for players who don’t have the books, or are on the go.
Right now, the wiki has the Starter Set version of the rules, some setting information, equipment and weapons, a short version of the bestiary, and some quick links to buy the main products. Of note, there are some quick character creation rules, which is very welcome since the Starter Set doesn’t have any, and since they are quicker than the core rulebook’s. They even include random homeland and occupations if you don’t want to choose!
Magic in RuneQuest
This was released shortly before the last issue of the Journal and therefore slipped away… it’s a short interview of Jeff Richard by James Coquillat about the difference between the three magic systems of Glorantha, which is bound to slightly confuse players coming from other fantasy games where there’s only one system.
As always with these videos, there is nothing revelatory for Gloranthaphiles, but it’s a very handy resource to send to any new or prospective players.
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!
Jamie Revell released Anaxial’s Manifest, a bestiary sourcebook for RuneQuest Glorantha. It contains “a compilation of 46 Gloranthan creatures and embodied spirits not previously described in RuneQuest“.
I assume that the name of the book is a nod to the HeroWars sourcebook Anaxial’s Roster, which did something similar for the HeroWars system. Anaxial is a flood-myth figure of Glorantha, so this is sort of appropriate.
The Duel at Dangerford, in Japanese
Nick Brooke’s early Jonstown Compendium entry has now been translated in Japanese! It features some extra art and… that’s about all I can tell you about it because my Japanese isn’t nearly good enough!
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 Maruts and the Thunder Brothers
Jeff points us to Vedic mythology (late bronze age northwest India) as a source of inspiration for the Thunder Brothers, the sons and daughters of Orlanth who are typically worshiped as part of his broader cult. He points us to the Maruts in particular, who are the sons of storm god Rudra.
A good real world comparison is the Maruts who follow Indra and serve as his followers and companions. Socially they are a model for the companions of the Prince, to whom their deeds are often attributed.
So Indra is another storm god, but what’s more interesting to me is the second part.
First, the Thunder Brothers are models for “companions of the Prince”, which I assume is the Prince of Sartar. This means that if you’re followers of Kallyr or later Argrath (or whoever gets the throne in your timeline), you could try and “get in a role” of a particular Thunder Brother to add some roleplaying opportunities and some questing or sacred regalia ideas to your GM.
Second, the deeds of the Thunder Brother companions are “often attributed” to their leader, which means the Prince and/or Orlanth. The way I see it, when your PCs are companions of the Prince, they might do some really cool stuff but need the… ahem… politeness of letting their boss take credit for it. I hope the PCs have some high Honor and Loyalty Passions! But I understand it also as applicable to Orlanth himself. So one can imagine variations of myths attributed to Orlanth where it’s one of the Thunder Brothers doing the cool stuff. These variations might be taught in some parts of Sartar based on regional traditions, and when heroquesting, you may not have to identify with the big blue guy, you could instead identify to one of his children. It might not provide as big a boon as when heroquesting as Orlanth, but it might also be safer…
The Bad Rain
We already discussed before how Orlanth sometimes summons monstrosities and enemies out of his own bad moods. This is the “Bad Rain”, which is summoned in order to start a heroquest of the Lightbringers Quest.
The Bad Rain is the Shadow of Orlanth – the brooding, repressed darkness within Orlanth such as kinstrife, murder, and wanton destruction – and terrible consequences of Orlanth’s deeds. Orlanth conquered the world, but in doing so he let Darkness and Chaos into the world. As the Greater Darkness approaches, Orlanth broods and the Bad Rain comes.
In many stories this is linked with the emergence of trolls in the Middle World. When Harmast summoned the Bad Rains in 424, it was easy because “every rain we made was a Bad Rain then.” Angorsk Ig, a son of the Only Old One, was summoned, along with the “red trolls, the ones that came with heat” (Zorak Zoran cultists).
The Bad Rain and its monsters attack the ceremony, and it is not uncommon for participants to be killed. Harmast himself killed Angorsk Ig with the Manthi Flints by accident, out of desperation.
Orlanth isn’t the only one with a shadow, by the way:
This recognition of the Shadow is key to the Orlanth cults heroquesting and a source of power. This approach was rejected by the Fire/Sky cults until the Red Goddess herself embraced her Shadow as part of her Goddess Quest.
Jeff muses (but does not confirm) that Ragnaglar may be Storm Bull’s shadow.
Urain, a personification of the Bad Rain in some story, is not Chaotic, despite what might have slipped into some past publications. Jeff shares that some of Greg Stafford’s notes make it clear.
There is also some information about Kallyr’s failed Lightbringers Quest:
When Kallyr began her Lightbringers Quest, she also summoned the Bad Rain, which made manifest all of her subconscious fears and guilt. Many were killed, but the Bad Rain was driven off, and the ritual became a heroquest.
Kallyr’s guilts, failures, and fears were great as well and she found it easy to summon the Bad Rain. Her fears of what she was bringing into the world – Darkness, Disorder, and Chaos – were made manifest and needed to be beat off at great price.
Two decades later Argrath barely had to twitch to summon the Bad Rain and his heroquest took him deeper than the Underworld.
The Orlanthi often say that a hero is made out of their failures, guilt, and fears. Without those, there is nothing to overcome and thus no hero.
This is a key to Greg’s storytelling. His protagonists – Harmast, Argrath, Arkat, the Red Goddess, Sartar, Tarkalor, etc., – all had failures, fears, and regrets that they needed to confront in order to be a hero. And that unconscious Shadow did not cease to exist as a result of the experience, but the hero could coexist with it and was no longer in danger of being destroyed by their own Shadow.
In some cases, like Arkat, the confrontation with the Shadow was quite literal – Arkat embraced his own Shadow and became a troll in order to defeat Nysalor.
So Jeff wants us to figure out what was Kallyr’s Shadow, and what was Argrath’s. The short discussion that follows points at Kallyr being too “literal and unwavering” about this, whereas Argrath, with his draconic connection, is better able to “embrace contradictions”.
The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.
Awesome Custom RuneQuest Miniature
On the BRP forums, Scornado shared this picture of an awesome custom RuneQuest miniature.
It uses a modified Victrix chariot with Wargames Factory and Zvezda skeleton parts.
The miniature is designed for use in a published adventure (also available here) that I won’t name here to avoid spoiling it.
Down a Rabbit Hole with Milk
I love this: Varanis from Beer With Teeth went down a rabbit hole about Praxian mounts and the nutritional value of their milk. And it comes with graphs! Check it out, it’s awesome.
SkullDixon on the Disorder Rune
As promised, SkullDixon has written an article about what the Disorder Rune, and what it means for creating stories in Glorantha.
I feel that a lot of gamemasters and players see the Disorder Rune as just a source and cause for Misfortune. But I think it has a lot more to offer us other than being the source of ill luck and I want to try to explore that fully here.
Besides outlining his many thoughts about the nature of the Disorder Rune, SkullDixon also offers four adventure seeds with Disorder as the common theme.
Unprofessional Unboxing of the Starter Set
Hey this is not a judgement on my part, but merely the title of Scott’s video series!
Unboxings of the RuneQuest Starter are getting extremely common these days (everybody is getting theirs!) but that’s all I have until I can receive mine… especially since the recent floods in British Columbia are making shipping even more complicated!
On The Origins of Ducks
Jajagappa has some funny Eurmal-infused take on the origin of ducks over at BRP Central.
Eurmal, of course, thought this was all very funny. He had the bird folk perform all sorts of silly rituals. He had them hop on one leg across a river – without ever getting wet. He had them fly upside down so that the Sun would illuminate their bellies and the shadows would darken their backs (that’s why all the Ducks have white bellies, even now). He had them dive deep into the Sea to return with the seven Sea Snails – which Eurmal ate, of course, because he was hungry. And he had them perform even sillier rituals. At last, the bird folk grew tired of these tasks and demanded that Eurmal reveal the truth of the leaves.
Read the whole thing, especially if you have ducks in your campaign and you want to throw in yet another possible myth for them… that’s always fun!
Thank you for reading
That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!