Journal of Runic Studies #53


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 8: Scott, Novelizations, Baboons, and Too Many Cows

Our new Initiation Series interview features Scott Rinehart, and was recorded back in October 2021. Scott had only played in a couple of one-shot games, but he has flipped through quite a few books! He chats with us about the challenges of discovering Glorantha!

Bog Struggles Featured in Journey to Jonstown

Chaosium’s latest article in the “Journey to Jonstown” blog series, which regularly catches up with the recent Jonstown Compendium releases, had my latest adventure Bog Struggles featured at the top! I’m very honoured. And congratulations to all the other authors who released new titles recently!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

New RuneQuest Actual Play Coming Next Week

Chaosium announced a new RuneQuest actual play! The previous “RuneQuest Starter Stream” ended after 6 episodes, when the group concluded the second (out of three) scenarios of the RuneQuest Starter Set.

It’s nice to see a Gloranthan actual play come back to Chaosium’s channel, but I haven’t seen much else about it — I don’t think we even know who’s playing in it? Unless I missed something? Anyway, from the little promo material we have, I assume the group will play through the Gamemaster Adventures pack, starting in Apple Lane.

Adventure Writing Workshop Returns for the Summer

The Storytelling Collective‘s “Write Your First Adventure” workshops are returning for 2022. In addition to the previously offered Call of Cthulhu path, there is now a RuneQuest path, which I believe is new this year. The RuneQuest path is designed by none other than Nick Brooke, the author of Black Spear and Duel at Dangerford, among other titles.

Each workshop path has many focused lessons, writing goals, and more to hold your hand and help you publish your first (or not first) adventure. More information (including price and dates) is available here.

The Cults Books are in Layout

© 2022 Chaosium Inc.

Simon Cogswell is hard at work on laying out the Cults Books!

News on Upcoming RuneQuest Products

In a Facebook group thread about the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set, we learn that… it won’t be a boxed set after all. It was never confirmed to be a boxed set anyway, it was just an aspiration from nostalgic game designers. It sounds like the reality of manufacturing and shipping products in 2022 has required some reshuffling of the pipeline:

  • The Sartar Homeland material is now a book.
  • The Sartar Gazeteer is now part of a bigger Dragon Pass Gazeteer sourcebook.
  • The big Sartar map that Chaosium wanted to put in the boxed set will likely be sold via Redbubble, where you can already buy many big maps from the old “RuneQuest Classic” boxed sets.

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!

Pirates of the East Isles, Volume 1

© 2022 Scott Crowder & Chaosium Inc.

Scott Crowder has finally released his first book on the Pirates of the East Isles! I’ll just quote the marketing blurb because it’s nicely evocative:

This is volume one of a three part campaign spanning years, perhaps even decades. You and your players can leave Dragon Pass behind and be pirates in the mysterious East Isles. Explore an exotic land where each island is a god unto itself. Play new occupations such as Pirate, Sailor and Mystic. Learn a unique martial arts system. Worship all new gods with a completely different mythology than what you’ve known till now. No Orlanth, no Thed, no Issaries, no Trickster!

Disclaimer: I did a bunch of art and cartography in this book!

Corallo’s Artpack #4

© 2022 Dario Corallo & Chaosium Inc.

Dario Corallo has released a new “artpack”. These packages contain a bunch of Gloranthan “clip art” that other Jonstown Compendium creators can put in their books, free of charge (well, after they’ve bought the art pack of course). Dario only asks to be credited, and to receive a copy of the book.

Trailer for the Lifethief

Diana Probst made this trailer in Blender for Beer With Teeth’s most recent release!

Duckpac Preview

Neil Gibson of Legion Games posted a sneak peek at their upcoming Duckpac, a 350+ pages “epic resource on the Durulz“.

To keep me honest we’re hoping to commit to the following release schedule:
Book 1 (Myths, lore & history) – end of June
Book 2 (Duck Adventurers) – mid July
Book 3 (Duck Scenarios & GM resource) – mid August
Book 4 (Solo Quest) – also August

Art by Lee O’Connor © 2022 Legion Games & Chaosium Inc.

This is ‘Red Quill’, one of the playable character from the Duck Adventurer book.I hope you enjoy it. We’re suuuuper excited to get it out to you.

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.

Travelling in Dragon Pass

Jeff tested it caravan travel times for you:

Did you know it takes about 6 days to get from Boldhome to Karse by caravan? One day to get to Wilmskirk, two days to get from Wilmskirk to Whitewall, and three days to get to Karse.

Or it takes 10 days to get from Boldhome to Furthest by caravan? One day to get to Jonstown, another day to get to Dangerford, another day to get to Herongreen, another day to get to Alda-Chur, three days to get to Slavewall, and three more days to get to Furthest.

From Boldhome it takes about 12 days to get to New Pavis, by way of Bigglestone and the Paps.

Looking up some of those itineraries in Highways & Byways, it seems to mostly check out, if you consider that caravans are almost always mule trains, so they have MOV 9 in the speed tables on page 8.

What is even more interesting to me is that a caravan can get from Karse to Filichet (the terminus of the Daughter’s Road) in a 19 days plus another three to rest the animals. So three weeks.

So you can have a pretty long trade trip in just one season if you don’t spend too much time stopping for deals or getting pulled into side-adventures.

About Kallyr Starbrow and the Rebellion

Kallyr Starbrow is a very controversial figure (both in Glorantha and in the fandom!), and many tribal leaders didn’t trust her:

The distrust of Kallyr goes back to before Starbrow’s Rebellion. Kallyr was widely viewed by many tribal leaders as an ambitious Kheldon tribal leader who happens to have enough of Sartar’s blood to make a bid for Prince. Even worse was the performance of Starbrow’s Rebellion of 1613 – which resulted in deep resentments among many of the tribal noble families.

Kallyr definitely pushed the revolt in 1613 (it is called Starbrow’s Rebellion after all), and forced the hands of the other tribal leaders. The other leaders knew the rebellion was doomed before it began – its early success was a surprised to them (and paradoxically meant they had to support it). There were no plans for next steps or how a liberated Sartar would survive the inevitable Lunar counteroffensive (remember, this was the Lunar Empire in 1613, before war, invasions, and dragons had reduced its military resources).

A rebellion with no plan for stabilization is a common mistake… which happened many times on Earth too.

I was actually looking up who participated in the rebellion recently (and, by omission, who didn’t). As far as I can tell, it included the Kheldon, Culbrea, and Colymar tribes (for the most part, I don’t suppose everybody in those tribes was up for it), parts of the Telmori, and a whole bunch of unaffiliated warbands made of outlaws, exiles, or clan members who defied their King or Queen’s orders. The Durulz (ducks) were made scapegoats of the rebellion but I don’t think there’s any evidence that they had any particular role in it.

Other clans and tribes still uselessly tried to rebel afterwards, for some reason — a Sambari clan in 1615, the Dundealos tribe in 1618, and so on. Many other tribes kept a rebellious attitude (sometimes under pretences of collaboration) throughout the whole Lunar occupation. So all in all, it’s not like the other tribes weren’t sympathetic to revolutionary ideas, I think it was really down to Kallyr being a reckless and divisive figure, with methods not many agreed with.

As a result of the rebellion, many thousands were killed, and the tribal leaders of the Colymar were exiled. The Colymar leaders particulary distrust her – Kallai and Beneva Chan were already in exile (as were Erenava Chan and others). Kallai, along with other Colymar exiles, died defending Whitewall from the Lunar Army. Other Colymar exiles fought in the siege of Nochet. This distrust of Kallyr Starbrow extends to many other tribal leaders. The Culbrea and Malani also shared the Colymar distrust, and blamed her for the Rebellion’s failure.

But then Kallyr gets lucky (although that’s a debatable notion) by raising a dragon who eats an entire Lunar temple.

Kallyr became Prince in Darkness Season 1625, after successfully liberating Boldhome and defeating a Lunar counteroffensive at Dangerford. That gave her the respect of many common Sartarites, but the tribal leaders still distrust her (and fear she has no plan to deal with the Lunar Empire’s response). That distrust, dislike, and fear drives her decision to undertake the Lightbringers Quest that Sacred Time.

Jeff adds a few comments:

It is important to remember that Starbrow’s Rebellion was a disaster. Sure, Sartar was briefly independent, but at the costs of thousands of lives, and losing the near-autonomous status some of the tribes (esp, the Colymar) enjoyed. The only thing the Sartarites got out of it was Temertain. Yeah team!

If I’m following this right, as the Lunars were campaigning to defeat Kallyr’s forces and take back control of Sartar, a guy named Redbird (a “dangerous sage seduced by foreign sorceries”) showed up with another viable heir to the throne: Temertain, who he found living as a scholar in Nochet.

[Leika] was part of a Colymar quest to find a legitimate heir. Remember, Starbrow was not Prince during the Rebellion and was mainly seen as a Kheldon tribal leader of the Black Rock clan. The Colymar sent Leika, Redbird, and others to the Holy Country to find a legitimate heir – they found Temertain.

Temertain proved his (tenuous) link to Sartar’s lineage by making Sartar’s Flame flicker in Boldhome, and was offered as a quick alternative to pacify the tribes, compared to another military campaign.

With 20/20 hindsight we know how that turned out, but at the time it was seen as a big victory.


[…] And most Sartarites agreed that Temertain had a better dynastic claim, being the son of Prince Salinarg’s cousin Jotisan. Kallyr’s claims were further away (grandfather was Prince Terasarin’s cousin).

Of course, by 1625, Kallyr has a small army and the advantage of being not Temertain. And she defeated the Lunars at Dangerford.

By 1627, Argrath has the advantage of a larger and very dedicated army. And he defeated the Lunars as well.

What was Kallyr up to after her failed rebellion, between 1613 and 1619?

She fled to Volsaxiland (aka South Sartar) later falling into the orbit of Broyan of Whitewall. She likely aided Broyan making raids in Sartar against Lunar allies and assets in 1617.

Non-humans in Genertela

Here’s a breakdown:

[…] did you know that 20% of intelligent beings in Dragon Pass are nonhuman? That’s one of the highest concentations of nonhumans in human dominated lands in Genertela.

For comparison:
Peloria 8% nonhuman
Kethaela 5% nonhuman
Fronela 7% nonhuman
Seshnela 7% nonhuman
Ralios 18% nonhuman
Prax and the Wastes 19% nonhuman
Kralorela 13% nonhuman

Note that Kralorela does include the Kingdom of Ignorance with its big troll population.

Only Teshnos has a higher nonhuman percentage (22%), largely because of the huge yellow elf population in Fethlon.

The Elder Wilds reverses this as it is the only large area in Genertela dominated by nonhumans. Only 18% of the population is human there!

As far as I can tell, these numbers line up with the population numbers from the Guide to Glorantha, so no surprises there. But of course, who knows if the scholars who gathered these numbers really got it right… they might not have gone very deep into Vulture County or Pent, for instance, because who would? So feel free to add big chunks of nonhumans anywhere you want!

Elder Races in Dragon Pass

Speaking of non-humans, Jeff posted some more information on Elder Races in Dragon Pass. It goes over some general but evocative information about the Dragonewts, the Trolls, the Beast People, the Dwarfs, the Elfs, the Tusk Riders, Giants, Wind Children, Baboons, Newtlings, and Ducks. Phew!

Picture by Felix Figure Painting

I didn’t spot anything new, but I did note the following:

  • The elf population in Dragon Pass is reduced to only a few strongholds (you can listen to our recent episode on the Aldryami for more on this), but that “there are several isolated dryads who sadly sing out to their lost elf companions, but rarely get a reply.” This opens up space for a very small elf community in your campaign, as needed (I have one in my game!)
  • A seemingly factual statement that the Tusk Riders indeed originate from experimental cross-breeding with trolls during the EWF era.
  • How the Wind Children hid high in the mountains during the Lunar occupation, but “now have begun to reengage with the newly liberated principality.

East Wilds Orlanthi

It looks like the Orlanthi of Ralios are not very different from the Orlanthi of Balazar:

[…] if you are wondering what the Orlanthi of the East Wilds in Ralios are like, the Griffin Mountain supplement is actually a good reference. The daily life of an Orlanthi hunter from distant Ralios differs little from that of a Balazaring hunter in his homeland.

The various hunter-gatherer clans there are gathered into about a dozen tribes under the erratic guidance of the Voshfrei dynasty.

The East Wilds tribes do get bronze tools and weapons, but “mainly through the Voshfrei dynasty or through trade with Safelster.

The Celestial Empire of Sheng Seleris

Here’s a note about everyone’s favourite solar shamanic Ghengis Khan. It’s not archived on the Well of Daliath yet so I’m pasting it here in its entirety, even though I don’t have much annotation to add:

From about 1360-1460, the nomads of Sheng Seleris terrorized the areas adjacent to Pent – Kralorela, Ignorance, Prax, Teshnos, and Peloria. The Celestial Empire was focused on Sheng Seleris and his Enforcers, an elite band that rode atop whatever hierarchy of people they ruled. Large roving bands of nomadic horsemen devoted to Sheng Seleris’ will turned fields into grasslands and terrorized the local population.

“The Eagle Huntress” © Sony Pictures

These nomads were not administrators – that work was given to subordinate officials of Pelorian, Kralorelan, or Teshnite origin. People from one region would be sent to administer another region – so Kralorelans scribes might be sent to Peloria, Pelorian scribes to Teshnos, and Teshnite scribes to Kralorela, and so on. Government was simple – worship Sheng Seleris and his Bursts, pay the demanded tributes, ritual obeisance to the representatives of Sheng Seleris, and ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE to his representatives. Beyond that the subject peoples were largely left to their own. Rebels were dealt with brutally and with extreme terror – collective punishment was the norm.

Hopefully Sheng Seleris wasn’t turning too many fields into grasslands, otherwise the subdued populations would have had trouble feeding themselves and giving any tribute. Well, unless Sheng Seleris wanted to force them to become nomads too but I doubt it?

The army of Sheng Seleris was large, fast moving and possessed incredible magical power. A few beings (ok, Godunya himself) were powerful enough to tangle with Sheng Seleris, but the norm was whoever opposed Sheng Seleris directly was screwed. He was powerful enough to invade the Red Moon and scar it. Sheng Seleris respected some Nysalorean schools, and also his techniques bore some superficial similarities to aspects of Kralorelan mysticism (particularly the relationship between the Dragon King and the Exarchs, which was echoed with Sheng Seleris and his Bursts).

I don’t know much about Godunya but for the other newbies out there, he’s the Dragon Emperor of Kralorela, in eastern Genertela.

After 1460, his empire quickly collapsed. Without Sheng Seleris, the nomad bands retreated to the Redlands. Hon-eel had many contests with them, defeating the Reverend Horse Mother in the contests over Yelm. In 1503 the Opili Nation unified many Pentan tribes and invaded Oraya, leading to the terrible Night of Horrors in 1506, which destroyed both the Lunar Army and the Pentan nations.

Jeff then compares Shen Seleris with the Tibetan Buddhism story of Rudra, which… well, go read it, he sounds super bad-ass in just one paragraph! Short story: Rudra fucks up living like a true buddhist, goes to buddhist hell, is reborn through sex magic with extra limbs and super powers, and almost brings forth enough apocalypse to freak out mortals and gods alike.

We can call that a failed mystic – as Sheng Seleris accumulated vast magical power through terrible austerities that used to conquer the world. Kralori mystics would say he COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT (and thus he is a failed mystic), but he did nearly conquer the world! Sheng Sellers’ successes of course influenced later Lunar magical techniques – as how could they not?

Multi-culturalism in Boldhome

Jeff pictures Boldhome as a vibrant contrast to many other places in Sartar:

Boldhome is a diverse and cosmopolitan city, far more than most Gloranthan settlements. There are young, unmarried warriors from the Adventurous cult, caravanners and merchants from all over, veteran Humakti warriors, Earth women with their snakes, tattooed Thunderers, Sun Dome pike men, Axe Maidens, dancing Earth Shakers, Seven Mothers mystics, hazia fiends, and poets, Eurmali clown societies, Healers of the White Lady, bearded scribes, devotees of Love, Storm Bull cultists ranting about the White Bull, potters and red-smiths with their kilns, cattle women and Animal Nomads, mounted Pure Horse People, the occasional elf or troll, and even dragonewts. There’s a cacophony of music, song, shouts, and tongues – Tradetalk as nearly as common as Sartarite, and Esrolian, Praxian, and New Pelorian can almost always be heard. There are dancers, sights, and smells; spices from the Holy Country and beyond, braying Praxian beasts, incense and hazia, wine, and grilled meat.

Cue the Star Wars cantina music…

Tribes of the Grazelands

How many tribes do the Grazelanders have? Well, it’s simple:

Just one tribe! The Stallion King is king of the Pure Horse Tribe aka the Pony Breeders, but he is a lesser figure than the Feathered Horse Queen who is the ruler of the Grazelands.

This is one of those occasions where I check back in the RuneQuest core rulebook, of all things, and find that the information was there all along. If you look at the Grazelands Homeland write-up (page 114), it does indeed imply that there is only one tribe of Pure Horse People, divided in a dozen clans (one of which can be the sample “Four Gifts” clan). I often find that there is a surprising amount of setting information hidden here and there in the core books…

By the way, you might remember this non-canonical map I shared in an earlier issue of the Journal:

I suppose you can still use that map for clan name ideas. You could even consider that these are the names of the Vendref clans, as opposed to the Pure Horse People clans? I assume that the two cultures have different groups?

By the way, Darren Happens identified that map for me. It is part of an old and long abandoned project for a “Grazer Pack” sourcebook, by Danny Bourne, Simon Bray, Duncan Rowlands and Martin Hawley.

You can also get a good list of Grazer clan names from David Dunham’s website. I assume the list is from the same source since it aligns pretty well with the above map.

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.

Visual Guide to Aztec Mythology

On BRP Central, simonh posted a link to an amazing Aztec Mythology resource. Check it out, I promise this is really worth it.

Off the Books

Guest segment by Joerg

In her blog Eight Arms and the Mask, Greta Gill aka Effy provides a document allowing deep insights into the ins and outs of Lunar militar bureaucracy. Two senior officers in the Lunar army face off with an auditor visiting their command at Dwernapple.

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.

How Did the Morokanth Cross the River?

Apparently, they just run along the bottom (embeds don’t work for YouTube Shorts so you have to click on the link and watch it over there). Hippos do that too by the way, because hippos are way more cooler and bad-ass than most people think.

Also, I’m told that tapirs are related to horses and rhinoceroses?

Someone needs to do a Yelmic heroquest right now to sort this out.

“We’re Fed Up with Scary Dreams”

Sometimes when someone steals stuff from an Earth temple you don’t actually send an angry Babeester Gor Axe Sister after them to collect limbs. Sometimes, you just send spirits to haunt them with dreams of guilt.

A gang of thieves have returned more than a dozen idols they stole from an ancient Hindu temple in India, saying they had been haunted by nightmares since the crime, according to police.

The Guardian has the full story.

Thank you for reading

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

Comments are closed.