Journal of Runic Studies #6



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.

We have recorded episode 2 this week, so it should be out some time next week, depending on how editing and show notes writing goes.

Tower Inventory

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.

The Multi-Dimensional God Plane

This document seems to be an academic paper from Jrustela, talking about ongoing research into heroquesting.

Jirtsyl’s work was mostly focused on immersion levels 5 and above, where the “pure, original” myths are experienced, if they exist. This is where the hyper-angle is maximized and approaches the limit of a pocket reality independent of the others, yet connected in its outcome of the present Material World. Our work, instead, focused on lower immersion levels, 3 and below.

It makes little sense, but we think there’s potential in reviving this type of experimental heroquesting. We are hoping to find the rest of these documents so we can get started.

Chaosium News

Warehouse Clearance Sale

Chaosium is still running their “Stay In and Game” sale, and that includes a few items relevant to our shared interests: some RuneQuest Classic, 13th Age Glorantha, and poster maps of Genertela. Check which warehouse they’re available from, as some items may not ship to your location!

The White Bull Campaign

The Chaosium “house campaign” continues, with a short episode featuring Enkala’s trip to “Troll Town” in Boldhome to try and join the elusive cult of Arachne Solara.

Then, after a bit of seasonal “Between Adventures” character improvement (the first time this is featured on video, I believe), the party goes to Clearwine Fort, with a few detours and stops on the way. Watch some Colymar court politics, and Jeff Richard play Orlanth answering the question “which of your aspects is the most fun?“.

Jaye Kovach on Art Direction

James Coquillat talks to Jaye Kovach about her work doing art direction for Gloranthan books, and in particular the upcoming Sartar Homeland boxed set.

Gloranthan Fiction Coming in the Future, Maybe, Probably

The Call of Cthulhu podcast “Modern Mythos” recently interviewed James Lowder, executive editor for Chaosium’s fiction line. Most of the podcast is about horror fiction, of course, but James does drop a hint that they’re also looking for authors to write and publish some Gloranthan fiction. You can also listen to this Modern Mythos episode for the sheer number of fascinating industry anecdotes, especially about TSR’s early fiction line.

RuneQuest Fantasy Grounds VTT

Work on the RuneQuest Fantasy Grounds VTT support continues! Here are some of the recent screenshots from the lead developer, including family history and character sheets with mounts!

Screenshots by @MadBeardMan

RuneQuest Production Pipeline

Chaosium is generally tight-lipped about any production deadlines and release dates, but they are thankfully open about what’s being worked on in general. Over on the Facebook group, RuneQuest line editor Jason Durall gives us some up-to-date tidbits. Basically:

  • The Sartar Homeland boxed set is going into layout just after the giant Cults books, with art and cartography almost done.
  • The Esrolia Homeland project is an expansion of a previous Nochet book, and is in development.
  • The Heortland/Hendrikiland Homeland project has a manuscript that is nearing completion.
  • The Grazelands Homeland project is being worked on by Chris Klug.
  • The Prax Homeland project is in some hiatus but Prax and shamanism expert David Scott should be taking the reigns on this soon. Note that this is different from the Pavis & Big Rubble project being worked on by Robin Laws.
  • There are no plans yet for a Lunar or Old Tarsh Homeland.

This is just the production pipeline for the RuneQuest Homeland projects, and it doesn’t include any of the other upcoming things like, say, the Weapons & Equipment sourcebook or the Gamemaster Guide.

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!

Christmas in July Sale

DriveThruRPG is running their “Christmas in July” sale, and many authors from the Jonstown Compendium are participating! Find all of them here. The sale is running for a bit more than a week after the time I’m writing this.

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 Paradox of the Lunar Empire

Over on Facebook, the ever prolific Jeff Richard tells us about what he considers to be the “paradox of the Lunar Empire“: that in the past century and a half, the Lunar heartlands have been the most civilized and peaceful place on the lozenge, but that at the same time the Red Goddess the biggest cosmic threat to existence since Nysalor:

If anything Her Way is even more dangerous as many have already begun to experiment with the most dangerous potentialities. Lunar heroquesters – most notably Jar-eel the Razoress – have explored forbidden paths and plundered the Other World as ruthlessly as any God Learner. Some philosophers suggest that this is Gbaji – not an entity, not a cult, but an approach to the cosmos facilitated by Illumination.

Like with the Gbaji Wars, those who oppose the Red Goddess will adopt her own methods to defeat her and change the world in the process. This is the oldest story in Glorantha, and is the story of the Hero Wars.

Magical Challenges

Now this is some good reminder for the most minmaxer players out there: you can “prove” your claims to, well, whatever, by engaging in and winning a magical challenge! This is a well-accepted practice in Gloranthan history:

Magical challenges to prove a truth are well accepted in Glorantha. This goes back to the Gods Age, when contests of the arts were popular among the gods – the most famous being the Contests of Yelm and Orlanth. When the Feathered Horse Queen emerged from the Earth’s Womb and proclaimed that the sovereign Earth Goddess was more than Dendara, she was opposed by the Grazer King. She defeated him in a thaumaturgical contest after which he, and the Yelm cult of Dragon Pass, submitted to her authority.

Hon-eel the Artess was an expert at such contests, having had to prove her claims starting with the first time she appeared in Glamour. Her most famous contest was against the Most Reverend Mother of Horses (which incidentally may have had a synchronicitous connection with the Feathered Horse Queen’s triumph).

And of course the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death are well established in the Holy Country. Some think the pathways the contestants follow are somehow connected with the claims of the Arkat Cult concerning the Secret Pathways through the Hero Plane.

The “winning” part isn’t the only important thing… how you won is also notable:

A few basic ground rules of these tests – the person has to be able to participate in the inner rites of the cult […]. That’s the place only those initiated can perceive. That gets witnessed. They need to be able stay within the rites, without being forced out by guardian spirits and so on.

And within the inner rites, you need to display your power and either be accepted by the spirits present (that’s the preferred route) or be able to defeat those spirits and entities that come to force you out (not preferred).

But if you can do that, you are not an imposter. Unless later on it is shown you used trickery – Eurmal magic or Lunar deceptions. But that is always a danger.

This is probably a very good way for players to be proactive with their heroquests, and shake the game world in their direction.

More Holy Country Notes

Speaking of magical challenges, Jeff is sharing some good stuff about the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, the contest that used to define who the next incarnation of Belintar would be for ruling the Holy Country. There is a lot to unpack in that post but my main takeaway is that each participant is identifying with Belintar while they travel the magical roads of the Holy Country’s Hero Plane… so the victor is, effectively, Belintar. It sounds like this is less a reincarnation thing (like the Red Emperor) than some kind of possession achieved through heroquest identification: you’re Belintar because you were emulating Belintar’s tribulations, and you were the last one in the end.

Cartography by Colin Driver © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

I wonder if Belintar prepared for this by making sure he was fighting his own Shadows, so that later there would be some kind of mythical “convergence”, where multiple people identifying as him make the victor pass a threshold past which there is only a philosophical difference between the “original” contestant and Belintar himself. Oh well. Something to study later.

Of course, this heroquest is particularly unpredictable, as befits a proper tournament:

This is not a rote repetition of Belintar’s thamauturgical battles, but a re-experiencing of them, with the same lack of knowledge, lack of script, and creative possibilities.

This is a big deal for the Holy Country:

One of the really amazing magical things about the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death is that each time it is held, the Holy Country is magically remade through its contests. Gods and spirits are again named, and perhaps with more relevant and pertinent titles, old alliances reforged and new alliances made. Each time Belintar is invoked by the winner and the Holy Country’s magic and proximity to the divine realm restored.

It’s also very interesting to read about other key figures:

And it should also be remembered that both Sartar and Tarkalor participated in these contests, as did several other members of the Sartar Dynasty, and other notables (such as Broyan of Whitewall if I recall). This magical experimentation and experience had a significant influence on the Orlanthi of Sartar, and may constitute one of the key reasons (along with Argrath’s incredibly diverse personal magical experiences culminating in the circumnavigation of the world) why they were able to contest with the Lunar Empire on equal terms in the Hero Wars.

So it sounds like there are a lot of insights and heroquest gifts to be gained by merely participating in the Tournament, even if you don’t really want to win.

Of course, things didn’t go well in the current timeline. Belintar didn’t return after the last couple Tournaments, and the Holy Country fell apart, mostly in its constituent sixths. But while Esrolia or God Forgot retained their shape, other places like Heortland broken in smaller parts. There’s more info on that from Jeff, but this goes beyond my grasp of Glorantha for now. There’s still a nice note about how magically powerful the Holy Country it, even when it’s falling apart:

After the Building Wall Battle, they knew the Holy Country had a lot of power. First they spent a decade plotting to eliminate Belintar as a spirit. They brought the Field College of Magic, the Crimson Bat, Praxian mercenaries, Sartarite mercenaries, Sun Dome mercenaries, and even Dragonewt mercenaries, as well as Provincial and Heartland troops. They attacked at the weak point of post-Belintar Kethaela – Heortland, which was torn into two, instead of attacking Esrolia like in 1605. And they managed to secure Wolf Pirate assistance.

Even then, the invasion of 1619 was a very near run thing until the end.

For a more detailed description of the Lunar Invasion of 1619, see this post, and this other post from Jeff. I assume (or at least hope!) that these texts are going into some “Previously, in Dragon Pass” chapter in the upcoming Argrath campaign book.

Map scan courtesy of Jeff Richard © 2021 Chaosium Inc.

What should be clear is that Fazzur Wideread was a spectacular commander:

Fazzur really was the Man. When plans went wrong, Fazzur was always able to regroup and correct his errors with remarkable creativity. Like Owen Connelly described Bonaparte, Fazzur was the Great Scrambler.

By the way, the involvement of the Wolf Pirates was a turning point for both the Lunars and the Wolf Pirates themselves:

[…] it was Wolf Pirates not Lunar-crafted ships that enabled the convoy from Corflu. Harrek already hated the Lunar Empire (and hated their leaders, priestesses, and goddess), but the offer was too great for him to turn down – the right to sack and pillage Karse (a rich trading city) and mastery over the Mirrorsea Bay. Instead, Fazzur decreed that Karse would not be pillaged (he had goals of his own) and the Wolf Pirates were left empty-handed. After that Harrek rejected any offer from any Lunar or that would aid the Empire. And harming the Lunar Empire became a treasure for him as valuable as gold or silver.

Cradle Aftermath

© 2021 Chaosium Inc.

You know the drill by now: Michael O’Brien is still writing his history of Sun County, and dare I say things are becoming more and more suspenseful. Melo Yelo is exploring the dark secrets of the Pent Ridge prison, the White Bull arrives, and The Midnight Express is starting to make sense.

On The Canonicity Of HeroQuest Material

Regarding some “incorrect” dates in HeroQuest material such as the Sartar Companion, Jeff says:

When I wrote the Sartar Companion materials, Greg no longer had access to his detailed information about the Whitewall campaign (it went missing around 1991 or so) so we had to rely on summaries and notes.

However a few years ago, a box filled with Greg’s most important notes on Dragon Pass – thought long lost – showed up at Greg’s place shortly before his death, courtesy of an act of great kindness. Greg sent the contents to me to incorporate into RQ. So you’ll be seeing lots of that stuff in the Sartar Book, Cults Book, and everything else. Those pictures on this post is from the series of military campaign maps Greg made of the campaign, probably around 1979 or so.

Sartarites Too Post Food Pictures On Social Media

The villages along the Creek-Stream River near Duckpoint often have crocodile as a local delicacy, apparently. The local Geo’s Inn special dish makes it grilled! The sides are “emmer pancakes, almond and garlic Pesto, and apple, vinegar, red onion, honey and vinegar sauce”.

Photo by Jeff Richard, cuisine by Claudia Lauroff

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.

Bud Explains RuneQuest

This isn’t quite something that happened this week, but it was uploaded recently enough that I figured we could give it a quick shout out: Bud, from Bud’s RPG Review, is walking us through the RuneQuest Glorantha chapter on shamans.

Bud’s videos are good recaps of the rules for those who, like me, tend to get lost in the details and forget the basics. Also, checkout his full playlist on all things RuneQuest. Many of his videos include interesting historical facts and insightful commentary about the books, in addition to the more factual chapter-by-chapter description of their contents.

Get your Durulz Email Address!

I sure hope that all you Gloranthaphiles are using DuckDuckGo as your main search engine? Not only is it much better for your privacy and for avoiding the “filter bubble” effect, it’s also the obvious choice for anybody who isn’t a dirty Duck Hunting Lunar collaborator!

Now the company behind DuckDuckGo is launching a privacy-conscious email forwarding service. It removes any trackers from emails sent to it, and then forwards the “cleaned-up” message to your real inbox. I’m not going to go into details here because this isn’t a tech-newsletter, but let’s just say this is your chance to grab an email address like ““. It’s not really a full email address because it’s just a forwarding one (so you can probably only receive email through it, not send anything through it), but, you know, just sayin’.

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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