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: Lee, Irish Mythology, and Reverential Tones
Another episode of the Glorantha Initiation series is out! This series is about interviewing newcomers to Glorantha and giving them an opportunity to talk about their experience coming to the setting. This time we had the absolute pleasure of talking to Lee O’Connor, an illustrator and mythology nerd. We talk about Irish folklore, British pubs, hacking game systems, and more!
Here are this week’s Chaosium news!
Cults of RuneQuest Announced
Online TTRPG circles were abuzz with excitation ever since Chaosium started talking about some “something big” a few days ago. We got a bit sidetracked due to some weird wording a couple days ago, but somehow we made it to the announcement!
Yep, it’s the much awaited cults books! It’s officially official now, as narrated by Josephine McAdam. Jeff clarified online what Josephine is reading, here:
BTW, the poem read in the video by the amazing Josephine McAdam is “Glorantha” by Greg Stafford, and it describes Greg’s vision and hopes for Glorantha. I think it is pretty darn special.
As communicated through forums and Facebook groups by Chaosium over the past few months, the cults material is now split into ten books of about 150 pages each (give or take). Eight of these books will focus on a different pantheon, and they’re meant to be used as much by the players as they are by the gamemaster. And by “used” I mean “purchased” of course. RuneQuest is getting splat books! Yay! We had asked Rick Meints about this a while ago…
Here is the release timeline:
There are hints here and there that some of these books may be available at ChaosiumCon, but nothing has been confirmed yet. It’s very probably that the good folks at Chaosum are trying to make it happen, but won’t be sure until they have the books there. Or maybe they already have the books but they want to make it a surprise. Either way, I wouldn’t expect more than a limited run of the Prosopaedia to be available there, but regardless of what it is, you can bet your hard-earned Clacks that I’ll shield bash anybody getting in my way to the market room.
I have to say that I don’t really like the “Cults of RuneQuest” name here. I would have preferred to put “RuneQuest” on top, and “Cults of Glorantha” below it as the actual name for the line. “Cults of RuneQuest” sounds a bit weird to me because I see “RuneQuest” as the game system. It’s like releasing a bestiary for Golarion but calling it “Monsters of Pathfinder” instead of “Monsters of Golarion”. It feels like a marketing and branding decision, wherein the goal is to put “RuneQuest” as big as possible on the cover… but hey, what do I know. I just don’t like it much.
The first available book will be the Prosopaedia. Don’t get too excited, this one should be system-agnostic, so it’s not properly speaking “gaming material”. It’s not supposed to have any mechanics in it, but a list of all the gods (including those who won’t be in the next nine books) with their Runes, an elevator pitch, and maybe another paragraph or two with some extra backstory. This might be the book you use as an index or first reference before digging deeper elsewhere.
As far as I know, the last time Chaosium did a Prosopaedia for Glorantha/RuneQuest, it was with the above boxed set, almost 40 years ago. That Prosopaedia was much shorter than the one we’re getting though. The new one has a lot more material, and wonderful illustrations and graphic design throughout by Katrin Dirim… we got some exclusive peeks, so trust us, it’s preeeettttyy.
The first book of actual gaming material is of course the Lightbringers pantheon, with Orlanth and all his best mates.
The cover is great, and I both appreciate and find interesting how the credits at the bottom left mention writers and artists indiscriminately (Richard, Stafford, and Petersen are the game designers, Muzy and Pitie are the artists). We can see Orlanth, with a helmet that screams “I need to compensate for something“, wielding his famous four magic weapons… well almost. The Book of Heortling Mythology lists four of Orlanth’s “favourite weapons” as the Sandals of Darkness (stolen from Kyger Litor), the Lightning Spear (won from a long dead solar god), the Scarf of Mist (offered by a water goddess as a thank you), and the Shield of Arran (on loan from his sister-in-law Babeester Gor).
Of course nothing prevents Orlanth from wielding other weapons — I’m sure he has a whole rack of them on display in his living room. At least we can imagine that the shield in his lower left hand is the Shield of Arran, and that the lighting-bolt-thingie in this upper left hand is the Lightning Spear (not really a spear here anymore but who cares, we only want the cool electric powers!) The trident in his left hand still evokes a connection with a water deity. And wielding a broadsword in his last hand probably looks better than holding a pair of sandals. Orlanth is rounded up with a big wrestler-champion belt with the Mastery Rune on it, to drive home the point that he’s King of the Gods. Orlanth doesn’t do subtlety.
In front of Orlanth are two figures. The one on the right is almost definitely the Red Goddess: she’s red, she’s got some Moon tattoos, and she looks just like that other Red Goddess illustration that Loic Muzy shared a while ago:
The other one is a bit trickier to recognize. The golden hat evokes some sort of solar god, but he’s got some generally evil look: the purple skin tone (purple being often connected to Chaos), the red eyes, and a Chaos Rune on his shoulder. This might be Nysalor/Gbaji? (thanks to Austin Conrad for helping out on this one!)
The Earth Goddesses
The Earth pantheon book is scheduled to be released at the same time as the Lightbringers one. Once again, the cover is marvelous, but you might note the change in credits: exit Sandy Petersen, enter Simeon Cogswell (who usually does layout work for Chaosium). I’m not surprised that Sandy never contributed much to the female deities of Glorantha, but I’m curious about Simeon’s appearance here. Surely, they also did the layout for the Lightbringers book? It’s probably a temporary oversight on the first cover. That is, unless Simeon contributed to some of the Earth cults materials too…
As far as the art is concerned, we obviously see Ernalda, Queen of the Gods, in the centre. She’s got pet snakes, as one of the several animals associated with her. I’m sure there’s plenty of symbolism here that is going totally over my head, but that’s fine.
On the left might be Voria, the goddess of youth and spring, often seen as a daughter of Ernalda. But given she’s got a basket of what looks like wheat or barley (I can never tell the difference), this could also be Esrola, generally considered a sister of Ernalda.
On the right might be Hon-eel, the Lunar demi-goddess that “discovered” and popularized the cultivation of maize in Peloria. Between the red hair and the maize in her hands, that could fit (and I really appreciate here that Loic gave mixed colours to the maize kernels, because there’s more to life than just yellow corn!) But I would have expected Hon-eel to be shown on the later Lunar Way book, so… I don’t know? Notably enough, this figure has a Death Rune on her dress. I’m sure some of you already know who she is and are screaming at me through the screen, and sorry I can’t hear you. Oh well. I’m not very good at this. I’m too busy smiling at the little cute critter on the right of this cover.
Note that Jeff confirmed that this book won’t be limited to Genertela: “we get some love for Pamaltela”, he said on Facebook.
Mythology & Lunar Way
The next book after that will be a book of “Mythology”, which I think will contain generic information about the Gloranthan monomyth, along with other material that is either valid for most or all pantheons, or is independent of them.
And then everybody’s favourite book (right?), which is the one on the Lunar Pantheon! As Chaosium says:
And yes, that means rules to create player-characters who worship the Lunar Gods of Madness and Chaos.
(We’re not saying you should, we’re just saying you can).
It’s great to see some movement on this gigantic project — Jeff hinted at how much work this represents:
This is the culmination of the work Greg started over 50 years ago, and that he and I have worked on for decades. And has been my main project since even before RQG launched. So there is a lot there.
It’s also great to see this work split into more digestible books that players can purchase. I was making fun of Chaosium a bit previously with my splat books references, but I truly believe this is a better form factor.
- First, it has the potential of making more money for Chaosium.
- Second, it will be easier for gamemasters and players to flip through a ~150 pages book, than through a 500 pages book.
- Third, and this is the big one for me: it’s more scalable. The original plan seriously gave me future-OCD anxiety. Sure, we would have had some great looking two volume slipcase with a whole bunch of central Genertelan deities… but what happens if/when Chaosium releases material on Western or Kralorelan cults? Aaargh, now there are extra books that aren’t in the slipcase and don’t have the same form factor. Uugggh.
So yeah, this is better, more modular, and more scalable.
The books for 2024 are not announced yet but we can probably expect books for the Solar pantheon, Darkness pantheon, Water pantheon, Chaos pantheon, and… err, possibly one about shamanic/spirit cults. But personally, my guess is that the tenth book will actually be about Malkioni cults and other Western cultures. Jeff has been posting about the west way too much over the past 6 months, and I think it’s because he’s been working on that. And like I said earlier, there is now potential for an eleventh book about Kralorelan mysticism, a twelfth book about gorp philosophy, and so on…
One big question that keeps coming back is whether the Red Book of Magic is still “complete”. It was originally built as a compilation of all the spells contained in the cults books, but that was a long time ago. With the expansion of the cults books from a two volume slipcase to a ten books series, some people are wondering if, basically, Jeff came up with more new spells. There is no word on this as far as I can tell, but if you spot a semi-official answer, please ping me!
Anyway, that’s it for the cults book for now (phew!) What are you excited about?
The Stafford Rule
A fun little thing about Greg Stafford, courtesy of John Wick.
“If you believe you’ve come up with a clever mechanic, Greg Stafford already did it.“
You can find John’s original full article here.
Red Book of Magic Gets a Trailer Video
The “Chaosium Unveiled” video series are super-short product trailers, featuring a flip-through of a book with some marketing blurb as a voice over. Somehow the Red Book of Magic had no such video until now… well, that’s fixed!
Kraken Chapbooks Available At All Rolled Up
This isn’t an “official” piece of Chaosium news, but it’s officially licensed stuff so I’m putting it here… most of the “Kraken chapbooks” are now available (while they last) at All Rolled Up, the makers of the famous RPG accessory bundle of the same name.
These chapbooks are fundraisers for the Kraken gaming retreat, a cozy little convention located in Germany, and traditionally featuring a lot of Chaosium things, some good food, and some fine drinks. Or so I’m told.
As far as I can tell, the only chapbooks missing from the offer are the ones written by Robin Law: “Sharper Adventures in Glorantha” and “Mother of Monsters” (but you can watch Robin present the content of the first one in his Kraken seminar here… in fact, there are many super interesting Glorantha-related seminars on the Kraken YouTube channel!)
The bulk of the available chapbooks are Griselda stories by Oliver Dicksinson. These are short stories that were published after “The Complete Griselda” was made, so… well, it’s not complete anymore I guess (that’s the kind of hubris you get when you name something “Complete”)
RuneQuest Fantasy Grounds and Foundry Updates
There aren’t any official updates for the RuneQuest module for Foundry yet, but the Github repository where development happens is public, and has been “known” for a while now. So I guess it’s OK to share it here, but be warned: this is a work in progress, it’s not even a beta release, it might break at any time, there are zero guarantees, etc. If you start using it for your game and run into issues, you only have yourself to blame. Don’t even file bug reports or merge requests, as it seems obvious that Moonpile and wake42 (the two developers currently working on it) are still in the thick of it.
However, if you just want to play around with it and see it evolve over time, simply install the RuneQuest Glorantha system from its manifest file (you can also file the URL in the installation instructions of the Github repository’s README). You should be familiar with this if you’ve ever installed Foundry systems not found in their “bazar”. The manifest URL goes at the bottom in the “Install System” dialog:
Once that’s done, you should see the RuneQuest Glorantha system installed, and you should be able to create a new World with it:
Make sure that you have a fairly recent version of Foundry. If all goes well, you should be able to see this kind of stuff:
The character sheets aren’t populated by default. I assume this will be fixed eventually, but at the moment you need to drag and drop many things onto your character sheet to make them show up: skills, Runes, Passions, even hit locations. The more stuff you drop onto the character sheet, the more tabs you’ll get: Runes, Gear, Spirit and Rune Magic, and so on.
Either way, you should be able to roll some dice! It even handles automatic experience checks and skill improvements:
Anyway, go play around with your copy of Foundry (or get one hosted at the Forge) if you want to see how it evolves in the future. I might check back on it in a few months.
The Fantasy Grounds support for RuneQuest isn’t out yet as far as I know, but you just need to follow the main developer on Twitter to watch the progress. The Starter Set is supposedly almost finished (give or take some testing):
As I understand it, this includes most of the Starter Set content available in digital format, ready to use on your virtual table. For instance, Jonstown NPCs (plus here), background, and so on:
Also, of course, the scenarios (plus here, here, and here). Mild spoilers for the Starter Set adventures, so don’t look too closely if you don’t want to know:
The last piece of content to add was the pre-generated characters:
Next, there will be a lot of testing, both to check that the VTT module isn’t buggy, but also to check that all the rules are correctly implemented and up to date with any errata. Thanks to MadBeardMan for all the updates!
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!
Corazón de Arena: Volumen Uno
Jon Webb’s awesome Praxian police campaign “Sandheart” has not only been translated into Spanish, its translation is also available in print-on-demand!
Disclaimer: I did a few illustrations and maps across the three volumes of the Sandheart series.
Community Content at ChaosiumCon
It looks like Chaosium got the approval from DriveThruRPG to, exceptionally, sell some print-on-demand community titles at ChaosiumCon! I’m hoping to grab a copy of Ships & Shores… wish me luck!
The community roundup is our highlight of interesting things being mentioned in the Glorantha-related Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, and other similar online places.
Exploring Glorantha: The God Time Part 2
JM and Evan are exploring Glorantha again! The topic of their latest video is the “God Time”. This is part 2 and you can find part 1 here.
We had JM and Evan on the podcast to talk about ancient worldbuilding with JM’s bronze-age fantasy game “Jackals”.
Akhelas on Six Seasons in Sartar
Austin Conrad writes a review/campaign log of Six Seasons in Sartar, which he plays it as a “duet game” with his editor Bill (who was one of the hosts of our former Wind Words podcast):
Editor Bill and I have been playing through Andrew Logan Montgomery’s acclaimed Six Seasons in Sartar (SSiS) to check for ourselves what all the hype is about. This campaign has been of some particular interest to me because I rate SSiS pretty highly on its “armchair” quality, but the readable, narrative style of the text has left me with some reservations about how it’ll feel actually playing RuneQuest out of the book.
Being a mix of play report, opinions, and advice for running the campaign, you might find it interesting if you’re considering buying the book, or considering running it. The article only deals with the first adventure, however, so let’s hope Austin tells us how it goes with the rest.
The Gaming Table on RuneQuest Glorantha
The Gaming Table, hosted by Lexi, has recently posted this very short review of RuneQuest Glorantha. It’s sort of funny how she pronounced the name of setting “Glorathna” (I’m sure that’s how the Pelorians say it) so if anything that’s your reason to watch the video! Otherwise, at less than 9 minutes, it’s obviously a fairly high level look at the rulebook… but I always enjoy listening to how different people pick up on different elements of a game.
Manga Campaign Log
Anjin Neko shares on Twitter (roughly translated):
A fun TTRPG story: in high school I was into RuneQuest. I used pencils to draw comics on notebooks, such as character encounters at the start of the campaign, events during sessions, interludes between sessions, and sequels. I probably drew over 1000 pages! Delusions were springing up one after another and it was fun and I couldn’t stop!
This is absolutely amazing:
Thank you for reading
That’s it for this week! Please contact us with any feedback, question, or news item we’ve missed!
I want three tomes of RuneQuest manga on my table, NOW