[Let’s Study: RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha] Part 6: Runes, Passions and Reputation


Runes are the building blocks of Glorantha’s reality they affect everything from Magic to the personalities of the people who live there.

Mechanically, Runes are used for magic, augmenting skills with Runic Inspiration and for defining behaviors.

Rune Magic

Rune magic comes in the form of Rune Spells, and an Adventurer’s chance of casting a Rune spell uses their rating in that Rune.

Runic Inspiration

As described back when we discussed augmenting, Runes can be used to augment an adventurer’s rolls. Elemental Runes can be used to improve chances in a single non-combat skill roll as long as there is an association to the Rune’s influences.

Meanwhile Power/Form Runes can be used to augment any skill in accordance to the Rune.

Bonuses from Runic inspiration are pretty hefty, ranging from +20% to +50%, but a fumble in a Runic Inspiration check will trigger psychic turmoil which stops the adventurer from using the Rune and avoid acting in accordance with it!


An interesting aspect of RuneQuest lies in the way that the Runes influence behavior. The higher one’s rating in a Rune, the more the Adventurer embodies the traits of the Rune. In play a roll for a Rune can be called in particular decision points where a character acts in accordance (or against) their runes. The Experience Checks for these rolls help in showing the internal struggles of the character’s personality and how their experiences change who they are as people.


Passions are the next major component of an adventurer’s personality. There are common Passions to RuneQuest: Devotion (Diety), Fear (Type or Individual), Hate (Group or Individual), Honor, Loyalty and Love.

Passions as Inspiration

Like Runes, Passions can be used to augment a skill with the GM’s approval. and like Runes the bonuses range from a +20% to a +50%, but a fumble throws a character into despair.

It’s a neat mechanic and really comes into play when it’s time to make a tracking roll to find the person who kidnapped the person you loved.


Runes and Passions with a rating of 80% or higher makes them staunchly-held beliefs that are taken very seriously.  At this point it becomes very difficult for the adventurer to refuse acting in a fashion in line with their Runes and Passions. This leads to being unable to set aside vicious animosities (Hate 80%) and possibly jeopardizing the peace process in doing so.


As with any society, Fame matters. As an adventurer achieves deeds, they gain a Reputation score. Reputation is used for either identifying an adventurer or using it to brag about what you’ve done and impress people.

A neat mechanic here is that one can actually augment their Reputation with a creative use of a skill like Orate or Sing.

What I like about this is it’s not really a social combat mechanic per se, but it ties in neatly to the nature of people to respect (or fear) people with a certain reputation.

I’m thoroughly impressed by the Runes, Passions and Reputation mechanics of RuneQuest. In some ways, I’m reminded of Legend of the Five Rings’ Rings, Honor and Glory mechanics, and it wouldn’t take a lot for me to actually map them against each other and still come out with the kind of experience I want from both games.

I suppose this is one of the main reasons why RuneQuest clicked in my brain, the physics of the world and how people interact in it just makes sense. There’s no need for a social combat system because it’s all spelled out. Anyone with a lick of roleplaying skill can take this and make it work.

If you’d like to check it out for yourself, RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha is available in PDF from Chaosium or DriveThruRPG for only $27.95

For those interested in the hardcover, I’d recommend buying from Chaosium as they’ll be issuing a coupon for those who bought a PDF to discount the price from the physical copy!

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