18 January 2021

Unusual Weapons for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha

As my players might tell you, I love unusual situations in my RQ games, and unusual weapons are an aspect of this. Here are three unusual weapons for your gaming pleasure. Since there aren’t any official statistics for them (yet?), I have created my own, mostly based on old RQ2 publications.


The blowgun is an exotic weapon used in Eastern and Southeastern Genertela. The elf blowgun (also called a dartgun) is described on p22 of the Glorantha Bestiary; the blowgun described below is used by humans, either primitive peoples or assassin cults. Trollkin are also known to use blowguns that are slightly different (they are longer and have 6 HPs).

The blowgun doesn’t do much damage: the reason it is used is because the dart may be poisoned, usually with fast-acting herbal poison (see p159 of RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha).

Category Name Base % STR DEX Damage HP ENC Range SR
Blowgun Blowgun 10 - 11 1D3 4 (3) 30m 2

Net, Trapping

The net will be described in the upcoming Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha. It is favoured by some Darkness and Chaos cults. Here is a simplified version I have used in my games in the hands of NPCs who wanted to capture the player characters.

A trapping net may be of any SIZ but requires one user per 20 pts. of SIZ. A net must have a larger SIZ than its intended target to entrap them whole; if not, roll the hit location as usual to determine the ensnared location.
The STR of the net is 1.5 times its SIZ.

Category Name Base % STR DEX Damage ENC Range SR
Net Net, Trapping
05 9 9 Special† 2/3* 5m 2/1*

†cannot be parried; can be dodged
*the second figure is for a large net (SIZ>20)

A wholly ensnared character may try to rip open the net by rolling their STR v the STR of the net. It will take two rounds to crawl out of the net.
A net may also be cut through, either by the ensnared character or by their comrades, by delivering an amount of hit points of damage via edged weapons equal to the STR of the net. The problem is that, during combat, any damage to the net by a character outside of it is equally shared by the ensnared character.

A partially ensnared character is ‘wrapped’, see the description of the Whip below.


The Whip is favoured by Water cults and is quite unusual in the Dragon Pass area. I suggest this weapon should be placed in the hands of transient NPCs, possibly from the Mirrorsea bay area. Ideally the transient NPC should be a herder, teamster, caravaneer, slave merchant, or some ‘evil’ Water cultist (as whips provide Maximum Game Fun in the hands of villains).

The whip is a weapon of fixed range. It is useless beyond its range, and it can only be used to attack a target at equal to or more than half its maximum range. Within that range, the whip is useless.

Category Name Base % STR DEX Damage HP ENC Range SR
Whip Whip 10 9 11 1D4 12 1 5m 1

The whip will wrap around its target on any Special to hit roll. A wrapped victim cannot act. If a leg is caught, the target must roll DEX as a percentage to keep from falling.
The whip will loosen after one round.
If the Special hit is parried with a weapon, or if the hit location was the weapon-wielding arm, the whip encircles the weapon’s shaft and may whip it out of the user’s hand, roll STR v STR to disarm; if the whip user fails to disarm, the target may try a STR v STR roll to pull the whip from the user’s grip.

Whips are unpredictable and have a double fumble range.

16 January 2021

the Library of Lhankor Mhy

OK, I have just discovered the Library of Lhankor Mhy... it is so useful if you are a true blue Glorantha buff. It is basically a searchable archive of all the online exchanges between Gloranthaphiles at the end of the 20th century, before G+, Facebook, etc.

For instance, I am obsessed about Orathorn at the moment. Well, I have had a look at my numerous RQ/Glorantha PDFs and couldn’t find much beyond “the Nights of Horror” yet a search in the Library of Lhankor Mhy yielded many hits.

06 January 2021

Elemental Runes and Physical Appearance

Katrin Moondaughter is a talented artist artist who often posts Gloranthan-inspired art on social networks (@KleiosCanvas). She has recently posted the following about the effects of Elemental Runes on the physical appearance of Gloranthan characters, and she has authorised me to copy it on my blog.

Skin: Pale, colourless, grey
Hair: Matte Black, Oily
Eyes: Dark Grey to Black, Large Pupils, Not much of whites visible
Facial Features: Sharp Teeth, Wide Mouths, Heavy Brow ridges
Other Features: Tall, Heavy Build
Skin: Olive with strong Green or Blue tint
Hair: Black, Dark Blonde to Light Brown, Green or Blue tint, Wavy and Flowing.
Eyes: Blue and Green, Large and Watery
Facial Features: Soft, Androgynous, little facial hair
Other Features: Soft and lithe, Androgynous, little to no body hair
Skin: Olive to dark Brown
Hair: Dark Brown to Copper, Wavy to Curly, easily keeps its shape
Eyes: Deep Green and Brown
Facial Features: Broad nose, Full Lips, friendly.
Other Features: Short, Stocky and Heavy build, Well-Endowed.
Skin: Light to Light Brown with Golden Tint
Hair: Light Blonde to Golden Brown, Straight to slightly Wavy
Eyes: Light Blue to Light Brown, Golden Speckles, Sharp, slightly slanted.
Facial Features: Aquiline Nose, High Cheekbones, Thin Lips
Other Features: Tall, Light Build, Bony
Skin: Light with Grayish tint to Brown with Bronze tint
Hair: Reddish Blonde, Orange-Red, Coppery Brown, Wavy, Curly and unruly
Eyes: Grey, Light Blue, Light Orange-ish Brown.
Facial Features: Angular, Bony, Fierce, much Facial Hair
Other Features: Muscular, much Body Hair
Skin: Very Pale to Light with Pinkish tint.
Hair: Deep Red, Straight to Wavy
Eyes: Grey to Reddish Brown, Large
Facial Features: Soft, Feminine
Other Features: Soft Skin, Curvy

30 December 2020

Runes in RuneQuest:Glorantha

I have already blogged about the canonicity, appearance and disappearance of the various Gloranthan Runes throughout the various editions of RuneQuest and HeroQuest (see my post here).

Today on social media, Jason Durall has posted the list of the Runes that player character adventurers would be “likely to use” in an average RQ:G game:

I am happy to see my beloved “modified element Runes” back, and elated to see that the Issaries Rune is still there (the question is: why would a player invest Rune affinity points in the Issaries Rune since it won’t provide access to any Rune spells?).
Not sure about the usefulness of the Undead Rune either, since there aren’t any Rune spells fuelled by the Undead Rune (according to the Cults preview, vampiric magic works differently).

The Condition Runes Infinity and Luck are missing from this table; however, this is consistent with what is written about their use on p15 of the core rules, and with the fact that there isn’t any Rune magic spell fuelled by the Infinity and Luck Runes.

I am puzzled by the presence of the Dragon and Law Runes though. They are not used in the Red Book of Magic, not used in the Cults preview. Also, even though they are extremely important in the East and in the West of Genertela, I doubt any adventurer from Dragon Pass would use them (or even see them!).

Last but not least, I miss the Ice Rune and the Shadow Rune.

28 December 2020

Analysis of the Red Book of Magic - Part Two, Spirit Magic

I hope you enjoyed the analysis of the Rune magic spells in the Red Book of Magic that I posted last week. Today, I would like to share a few thoughts about the Spirit magic spells in the Red Book of Magic. The first very noticeable thing is that Spirit magic spells are much less numerous than their Rune magic counterparts; “only” 69 Spirit magic spells vs 448 Rune magic spells.

Even the increase itself is much less spectacular: whereas the Rune magic spells increased almost threefold from the core RuneQuest book, the Spirit magic spells only increased 30%, from 53 to 69.

This is as it should be: ever since Cults of Prax (1979), the Gods’ protection over their worshippers has translated into Rune magic rather than Spirit magic: as written under the Sleep spell in Chalana Arroy’s cult write-up in the RQ2 supplement Cults of Prax:

No non-cult person can be taught this spell. Befuddle was once a special cult battle magic spell as well, but unwise teaching of it beyond the cult led to its use in attacks, perverting its merciful origin. That cult mistake will not be repeated.

Exactly! Battle magic (i.e., Spirit magic) can be disseminated, Rune magic, being linked to the cult’s runes, is much less likely to be taught beyond the cult.

Statistically, here is the distribution of the spells in terms of magic point cost:

1-point spells: 26 (38%)

2-point spells: 13 (19%)

3-point spells: 5 (7%)

4-point spells: 2 (3%)

5-point spells: none

6-point spells: 1 (1%)

Variable spells: 22 (32%)

Let us now go back to the individual Spirit magic spells. 41 of them are straight from the original RQ2 rules, 27 of which being practically identical. The differences are as follows:

The spells Befuddle and Demoralise have had their cost raised from 1 to 2 magic points.

The variable spells Bladesharp, Bludgeon, Dullblade, Ironhand, Multimissile, Shimmer and Vigour, which were limited to 4 MPs, have no upper limit in the Red Book of Magic.

Extinguish was a fixed-cost spell; it is now a variable spell. The 2-point RQ2 spell would extinguish any fire, now the cost depends on the size of the fire.

Fanaticism used to be a variable spell, with one person affected per magic point. That was way overpowered; I am glad the current rules have you cast one spell per person.

Farsee was a fixed-cost spell; it is now a variable spell with a finicky explanation as to why it is variable. I prefer the RQ2 version.

Repair is another fixed-cost spell that has become variable, and much less interesting than it used to be: a 2-point spell repairing 20 points of damage. Now each point only fixes 1D10 points of damage.

Slow has merely undergone a name change – it used to be called Binding.

Some RQ2 spells have been removed, viz.:

Detect Detection, which I found useful, even though to be honest I can’t possibly remember having ever used.

Detect Gems – unless it falls under the umbrella of Detect (substance).

Mindspeech. I can see how it may have been considered overpowered, but it enabled good infiltration-style games.

Xenohealing has become useless since Heal now heals any target and not only your own species.

Some other RQ2 spells have become Rune magic spells: Detection Blank, Harmonise, Invisibility. Honestly, I can see why, as someone who has abused their Invisibility spell for years.

The same has happened with two Spirit magic spells from the very first RQ2 supplement (Cults of Prax): Stone Biting and Tree Chopping Song.

Let us have a look now at the “new” spells, those that were not there at the time of RQ2.

Binding Enchantment is from the RQ3 rules; way cheaper now, since its cost used to be 3 MPs.

Comprehension and Pamalt’s Touch are from the write-up of the cult of Pamalt in the RQ3 supplement Gods of Glorantha, with no change (they are still restricted to the cult of Pamalt).

Conceal Item, Face of Lanbril and Forget are from the write-up of the cult of Lanbril in the RQ2 supplement Pavis; Conceal Item’s cost has been reduced from 2 to 1. The two other spells are identical. And all three spells are still restricted to the cult of Lanbril.

Control (entity), Magic Point Enchantment, Second Sight, Spell Matrix Enchantment and Visibility are from the RQ3 rules, with no change.

Cool is from the write-up of the cult of Norag in the Book of Drastic Resolutions, volume Darkness, with no change in terms of its cost but with a big change with regard to its accessibility: it is now a non-special spell that costs 250L or less, i.e., it is among the most common of the common Spirit magic spells (see p107 of the Red Book of Magic).

False Healing is from the write-up of the cult of the Black Sun in the RQ3 supplement Troll Gods, with no change in terms of its cost but, again, with a big change with regard to its accessibility. I am truly unhappy with this change… False Healing used to be one of the big surprises of the Ignorant cults of the Black Sun and of the Blood Sun.

Food Song is from the write-up of the cult of Aldrya in the RQ2 supplement Cults of Prax, with no change in terms of its cost; as for its accessibility, it is unclear… the spell is not amongst the ones listed on p107 as being restricted to a certain cult; however, the spell description sort of makes it look like it is restricted to Aldryami.

Heat Metal is from the write-up of the cult of Lodril in the RQ3 supplement Gods of Glorantha, with no change in terms of its cost but, again, with quite a change with regard to its accessibility.

Hotfoot is from the write-up of the cult of the Trickster in the RQ3 supplement Gods of Glorantha, with no change (it is still restricted to the cult of Eurmal).

Jumping is from the write-up of the cult of Kyger Litor in the RQ2 supplement Cults of Prax, with no change (it is still restricted to the cult of Kyger Litor).

Lantern and Seek Sun Dome Temple are from the write-up of the cult of Yelmalio in the RQ2 supplement Cults of Prax. Lantern used to be a variable spell with a duration of 10 melee rounds per point; now it is a 1-point spell, which I think makes perfect sense. Seek Sun Dome Temple has not changed. Except for this change, they are still both only available to Yelmalio cultists.

Meteor Swarm (unless I have missed my Library Use skill check) is the only truly new spirit spell in the book. It is also the one and only Spirit magic spell with a cost greater than 4; we may consider it as a kind of “anomaly” brought upon us by the Lunars and their constant meddling with the fabric of Glorantha. In the context of the Hero Wars, I really like this addition— especially since the use of the spell is limited to the Lunar cult of the Crater Makers.

Parry is from the write-up of the cult of Humakt in the RQ2 supplement Cults of Prax, with no change in terms of its cost but with a big change with regard to its accessibility since it is now available to any player characters.

Preserve Herbs is from the write-up of the cult of Chalana Arroy in Cults of Prax, with no change (it is still restricted to the cult of Chalana Arroy).

Rivereyes is from the write-up of the cult of Zola Fel in the RQ2 supplement Pavis, with no change in terms of its cost but, again, with a big change with regard to its accessibility.

Sleep is from the write-up of the cult of Chalana Arroy in the RQ2 supplement Cults of Prax. Much like Fanaticism (see above), it used to be an overpowered variable spell, with one person affected per magic point. Luckily, it is still only available to Chalana Arroy worshippers.

Sneeze is from the write-up of the cult of Mallia in the RQ2 supplement Cults of Terror, with no change (it is still restricted to the cult of Mallia).

Solace is from the write-up of the cult of Xiola Umbar in the RQ2 supplement Trollpak, with no change except for its accessibility.

Summon (entity) is from the RQ3 rules; it used to be a 1-point spell but is now variable although it is only a difference in how the spell is presented.

22 December 2020

Analysis of the Red Book of Magic - Part One, Rune Magic

So the Red Book of Magic for RuneQuest is out. The funny thing is that, as a by-product of the Cults of Glorantha books, it should probably have been published at the same time as the two Cults books, or slightly later, but then because its illustrations were ready, whereas the art for the other books is still underway, it happened the other way round.

One annoying consequence is that the Red Book of Magic does not say which spells are learnable by whose cultists. Obviously the gamemaster is the sole arbiter at their table and they may decide that a given spell becomes available in their game but I can understand those who have complained on social media. Also, it has been explained to us fans that spell-to-cult correspondence tables would probably have taken up too much space; however, given how the Cults books are late, I reckon a free PDF would have done the trick.

Anyway, I have been perusing the book a good deal since I purchased the PDF, and I would like to share some analyses of the Rune spells.

There are 448 Rune magic spells in the Red Book of Magic. That’s a lot — there were 166 Rune spells in the core RuneQuest book, so that’s almost a threefold increase.

The cost of each Rune spell varies between 1 and 6 Rune points. Here is the breakdown by percentage:
1 Rune point (267 spells): 60%
2 Rune points (107 spells): 24%
3 Rune points (68 spells): 15%
4 Rune points (7 spells): 2%
5 Rune points (2 spells): negligible
6 Rune points (1 spell): negligible

This doesn’t tell us much, except that Rune magic is really readily available to all cult initiates, since they usually only have 3 Rune points.

A more interesting breakdown is the number of Rune spells per Rune affinity. Here it is:
Darkness 61
Water 39
Earth 51
Fire/Sky 58
Air 40
Moon 31
Harmony 40
Disorder 17
Stasis 8
Movement 26
Truth 14
Illusion 26
Fertility 39
Death 44
Beast 56
Man 18
Plant 11
Dragonewt 0
Spirit 0
Chaos 42
Mastery 0
Magic 19
Infinity 0
Luck 0
Fate 1
Variable/cult-dependent 4

I hate to say this, but I believe the above is good input for “munchkin” players to choose how to distribute their Rune affinity values during Step 3 of the character generation process. This is particularly true for the Power and Form Runes.

23 September 2020

HeroQuest becomes QuestWorlds

Big news! The narrative role-playing game known as HeroQuest becomes QuestWorlds as Chaosium sells the name to Hasbro, who wants to re-release the famous 1989 boardgame that bore the same name as the Gloranthan role-playing game.

Here is the full story.