Journal of Runic Studies 95


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.

Next week’s newsletter will probably be late, or skipped altogether, since ChaosiumCon is happening later this week! Wish me luck!

Chaosium News

Here are this week’s Chaosium news!

Non-Human Adventurers for the RuneQuest Starter Set

The RuneQuest Starter Set has no character creation rules (although the RQWiki does have some simple ones for free if you don’t want to invest in the rulebook right away). As such, the box contained many pre-generated adventurers, more than enough to last all the adventures therein and more. But all these adventurers are human, and some people were curious about playing other races. Chaosium had promised a long while ago that they would release some non-human adventurers in PDF, and it looks like it’s coming up soon!

© 2023 Chaosium Inc.

Jason Durall has posted a preview of one of these adventurers. As you can see above, this looks like a trollkin (or maybe young dark troll, but I think it’s a trollkin) with a cute little beetle companion. They sport a giant insect’s chitinous shell as a shield. The rose-tinted glasses and Moon Rune necklace seem to indicate this is a Seven Mothers initiate, which is quite uncommon for trolls, I think, so I think we’ll get a very interesting backstory!

Prosopaedia On Sale At ChaosiumCon

Chaosium president Rick Meints has confirmed, on the Glorantha Discord server, that copies of the Prosopaedia will be on sale at ChaosiumCon! Expect me to run and crash into the sales stand as soon as I can.

Good News For Us Canadians

Rick Meints (him again!) has posted on BRP Central that Chaosium is “a few weeks away from having our new Canadian shipping partner ready to process orders.

You may remember that the previous Canadian warehouse contractor flaked on Chaosium, resulting in us Canadians having to order from the US fulfillment centres instead, which leads to higher shipping fees (plus custom fees!) It’s great to know that Chaosium went pretty fast with securing a new contractor. Fingers crossed! I hear we have quite a lot of new books to order this year…

Basic Roleplaying Out in PDF

We already said it was coming out, and now it’s out! If you get the PDF now, you’ll receive a discount on the physical book if you buy it directly from Chaosium.

While it’s not directly related to Glorantha, the BRP system did originate from RuneQuest, and this book contains many extra rules and sub-systems you may find useful if you want to tweak and customize your RuneQuest rules. If you don’t want to fiddle around with rules, or if you already have the Big Gold Book, you might not find this new release as useful.

Note that this is released under a draft version of the ORC license.

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!

Preview of To Hunt A God: Part 2

© 2023 Akhelas & Chaosium Inc.

Austin Conrad has posted this preview (above) of part two of To Hunt A God! This amazing painting is by Laura Galli.

Part Two is a free update to the existing To Hunt A God: Part One, so if you don’t have it yet, grab it now! (disclaimer: I did a few drawings in there) Part two will add another 70 pages or so to the PDF.

Preview of Highways & Byways Remastered

© 2023 Neil Gibson & Chaosium Inc.

Neil Gibson’s Highways & Byways is getting remastered ahead of getting a print-on-demand run! Look at those maps! Did I ever mention I love maps? I feel like I may have kept this to myself all this time… anyway, this is just a sneak preview courtesy of Neil. He says that it will contain “extra content and high resolution maps“. Yay!

I have used Highways & Byways a couple times already in my game to figure out travel times. The only problem is that my players are currently “off the map”, down there in Caladraland trying to fight off Greymane’s army… oh well, they’ll get their ass kicked soon enough and go back to Dragon Pass, right?

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.

Boats of the Pelorian Riverfolk

Peloria, where most of the Lunar Empire lies, has a big river and lots of wetlands, which makes reed boats a popular way to get around:

The Diros or Yestendos boats used by the Riverfolk and Weeders of the Lunar Heartlands are mainly reed or wooden in construction, with curved bows and sterns. Although we often associate that with ancient Egypt (such as the Khufu boat), we could also associate them with the reed boats of the Andes or other Native American groups.

Diros the Boatman is one of the earliest gods related to ships and river navigation. It provides magic to propel boats safely and quickly, and is often friendly with river cults, such as Prax’s Zola Fel cult. Interestingly enough, Diros is also related to the famous “Boat Planet” which disappeared when the Closing of the Oceans happened. It seems like maybe Dormal, who spearheaded the Reopening of the Oceans, made Diros come back… or found a way to treat the oceans like a big-ass river? Oh and during the heyday of the God Learners, we sort of subsumed the cult of Diros inside that of Wachaza, our seafaring war god. This is useful when all your ships are warships!

Yestendos is just the god of the reed boats. Not much else to this guy except that he’s a husband of a couple of wetland goddesses of Peloria, which sounds about right if you want to take your reed boat around a marsh.

Creative Commons photo by Kairoinfo4u

The Khufu boat is from ancient Egypt, and named after the monarch who erect the pyramid in which it was found, dating back to around 2500 BCE. It’s a “solar barque” which means it’s associated with the Sun God Ra. It’s obviously firmly in the “wooden” barque category.

Creative Commons photo by Dennis Jarvis

For the “reed boat” category, Jeff points us to the Andes. See for instance this traditional reed boat above on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.

Collectively, the cults of Oslira, Bisenslib, and Surenslib number some 320k members, of which maybe half are Riverfolk or Weeders. They speak some variant of Boatspeech, thought to be more related to the language of the Zola Fel Riverfolk and the Right Arm Islands than to any of the Pelorian Farmer Languages (including New Pelorian).

Oslira is of course the goddess of the Oslir river, which dominates the Pelorian basin of the Lunar Empire. Bisenslib and Surenslib are those two wetland goddess I mentioned before. Surenslib is associated with the heron, too.

The Pelorian Riverfolk and Weeders can be found along the Oslira and Acos Rivers and their tributaries from Oraya to Saird, and a related group along the shores of the Sweet Sea and the Janube and Poralistor Rivers.

The Beast People

As the saying goes, nobody complains about minotaurs and centaurs, but everybody’s got an opinion on ducks! Well, there are way more ducks anyway:

There are some 25,000 Beast People and another 10,000 Ducks in Dragon Pass. The Beast Men include centaurs, ducks, minotaurs, satyrs, manticores, tiger-men, bird women, fox women, bug heads, and often many different shapeshifters.

Outside of the ducks, the largest number of Beast People are centaurs, some 8250. Now that is a LOT of centaurs! Most stick around Beast Valley, but bachelor bands can be found throughout Dragon Pass and beyond.

I hope one of those bachelors is a player character in your group… or maybe you have an all-centaur band! Centaurs are the most important after all: the King of all Beast People is the centaur Ironhoof (details and stats are available in The Smoking Ruin and Other Stories)

Beast People counters from the Dragon Pass board game © 2023 Chaosium Inc.

There’s also a lot of minotaurs, some 6250, in many small herds throughout Beast Valley. Male minotaurs tend to be dominant and defend the herds, and female minotaurs raise the children. Both male and female minotaurs engage in displays and fights to determine status among them. Minotaur herds often cooperate with centaur herds.

It’s surprising to see how many minotaurs there are, given how the Travels of Biturian Varosh make them sound super mysterious… I guess they are mysterious if you live in Prax and have never visited southern Sartar. Note that, still according to the Travels of Biturian Varosh, there are small enclaves of minotaurs in select elf forests.

Satyrs are a little less numerous, with some 4250 throughout Dragon Pass, although most reside in the Beast Valley. Although it is usually assumed they are all male, there are female satyrs as well as male. The female satyrs are generally considered better behaved than the male!

There are surprisingly many manticores, with some 2000 throughout Dragon Pass. They are very independent and individualistic, but do follow Ironhoof’s directives.

Finally there are some 4550 other Beast People, including tiger-men, bird women, fox women, bug heads, and other shapeshifters.

Note that the Glorantha Bestiary has short sidebars for creating centaur, minotaur, and duck adventurers! No sidebar for other Beast People adventurers though, but it shouldn’t be hard to come up with something based on the NPC stat block.

This is the first time I hear about tiger men. Sounds fun! Bird women and bugheads are mentioned here and there in published material but without any more details, so feel free to make something up. In fact, among these 4550 miscellaneous Beast People, I’m sure there’s room for any horrible chimera your imagination can summon!

And now, for your free license to sprinkle Beast People anywhere you want in your games:

A handful of Beast People have decided to live among the humans. There are some satyrs in the woods and hills, a few bachelor bands of centaurs and minotaurs, and the occasional manticore hunting livestock. There are also those Beast People who serve as mercenaries or bandits. And then there are the truly unusual Beast People like the famed satyr gourmand who lives in Boldhome or the centaur who joined Lhankor Mhy.

Beast People largely avoid human contacts. The Ducks are an exception of course, as they are passionately loyal to the House of Sartar.

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.

Dave Thaumavore on the RuneQuest Starter Set

Dave Thaumavore reviews the RuneQuest Starter Set, or at least the overall box and the Rules booklet (a follow-up video will look at the Glorantha booklet).

I found myself nodding a lot while watching this video… the good points of RuneQuest are the setting and the mechanics that tie the characters to it, the gritty combat, shamanism, etc. But Dave doesn’t shy away from pointing out things he doesn’t like, many of which I don’t like either: the resolution tables, the augment mechanics slowing down play, the (too) long list of skills, and Strike Ranks being, well, Strike Ranks. Dave even says Strike Ranks might be a barrier to entry to some beginners: I agree with this, but every time someone mentions it, fans and Chaosium people come out with anecdotes of newcomers who love the system. I’ll just put this link here and let you figure out what I think of that…

If you like Dave’s stuff, check out his Patreon.

Broos on a Dune

It’s been a while seen we’ve featured some Gloranthan miniatures here! Thankfully, Gabor Nagy (aka GabORK) has posted about painting some broos miniatures on their blog. This includes a short break down of the creative process behind it:

I had to keep two important things in mind during the process:

  • Runequest is a bronze-age setting, so – instead of steel – I used bronze, copper and brass for the weapons. Initially, it felt restrictive but I soon started to enjoy using these colours.
  • The Broos are the creatures of chaos. Normally I use a more or less uniform colour scheme for a warband but in this case, I did the opposite and aimed for variety. I picked multiple colours for their skin and fur, so that no two figures have the same colour combination.
Photo from OrkAngel

There are a lot more details, and photos of more Broos (including a winged shaman one!) over at the OrkAngel blog.

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.

The Assassin’s Teapot

Here’s a short video on a cool thing commonly called “the assassin’s teapot”. It’s a teapot with two chambers for storing liquid (with one being presumably poisoned of course) Using science, it lets you pour from one or the other chamber.

A cursory search on the interwebs indicates that the origins of this teapot are, at best, murky. It might originate from the Ming dynasty in China, but this sounds to me like some salesman’s hastily made up sales pitch. If it’s true, though, this is technically “too late” to put in a “bronze age world” like Glorantha, but when did this ever stop anybody, including the game designers? If you want to keep the teapot’s Asian origins, you can of course say that it comes from Kralorela or Teshnos, and somehow found its way to a scheming Esrolian grand-mother, or an ambitious Lunar politician.

But why would Gloranthans bother with this kind of stuff when they can, you know, use magic? Well I think that not using magic is actually of great advantage in Glorantha! Your schemes can’t be exposed by detection spells, guardian spirits, or whatever. I think you can for example easily circumvent the effects of a Create Market or Warding spell with this teapot and carry out assassinations in broad daylight at the market! And one of the players in my group is playing an Issaries merchant… mmmh. Trouble is brewing!

The Neverending Storm

This rather dramatic video shows the “Catatumbo Lightning” of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. The name Catatumbo (which means “House of Thunder”) comes from the Catatumbo River, which empties itself into the lake. From the Wikipedia article:

[It] occurs for 140 to 160 nights a year, nine hours per day, and with lightning flashes from 16 to 40 times per minute. […] The phenomenon sees the highest density of lightning in the world, at 250 per km2.

According to the NASA’s Lightning Imaging Sensor, it’s the “Lightning Capital” of the world.

Creative Commons Photo by Fernando Flores

This phenomenon seems to be caused by the confluence of warm air coming from the Caribbean Sea and cold air coming down from the Andes mountains.

I wish Jonas Piontek’s video was a bit clearer about which shot was a timelapse and which shot was an real-time film of the lightning. But I assume that the shots featuring people staring at the lake were played at normal speed — and given the number of flashes visible in the span of a few seconds, it looks like an awesome thing to witness.

The implications for Glorantha are self-evident, although Orlanth’s most sacred places tend to be mountain tops. For instance, there’s the very, ahem, Gloranthishly named “Top of the World” mountain between eastern Ralios and western Lunar Empire, which is said to be where the Storm God resides. But I wonder what we would have if Greg Stafford started his world-building efforts with a Storm God that was associated with rivers and lakes instead?

Creative Commons photo

Quickly looking into local mythology, I haven’t found what sorts of gods the people of northwestern Venezuela had… But, somewhat unrelated, I found out where the southeastern Venezuelan gods lived! They lived on tabletop mountains which the locals called Tepui. You might not be surprised to learn that this means “House of the Gods”.

Anyway, Jonas Piontek has many photos of Catatumbo Lightning on his portfolio website, and you can order them in print if you want. More here and here.

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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