Posts Tagged ‘Let’s Study’


If you have a setting where everyone has access to magic like Glorantha does, you’d probably dedicate nearly half the book to the subject too.

Types of Magic

RuneQuest has three different forms of magic:

  • Spirit Magic – Involves communing with spirits that reside in the Spirit World.
  • Rune Magic – Involves sacrificing living things or objects to a god to allow the supplicant to participate in the deeds of the god and gain a fraction of the god’s Rune power.
  • Sorcery – Is the direct study of the Runes themselves as laws of the universe and imposes the will of the caster upon the material world.

Magic Points

Adventurers use their own life energy in the form of Magic Points to fuel spells, and if they ever spend enough to use up all their Magic Points, they fall unconscious.

Rune Magic however, demands that the adventurer sacrifice points of POW to gain access to their cult’s Rune Magic.

Worship and Ritual

Spells aren’t easy to pull off and when you’ve got the opportunity, it’s best to have an adventurer try to improve their chances. This can be done by Meditation or ritual practices or augmentation with Dance, Sing, or other appropriate skill.

It’s a neat touch that lends credence to why spellcasters work so hard on long and complicated rituals to try and get the best possible outcome for their work.


Another function of magic is to Enchant objects (or creatures!) with magic in a way that permanently changes it. This has a cost in the form of the caster’s POW but for many the trade off is worth it.

As a fan of Mage: the Ascension, seeing such an extensive page count dedicated to magic warms my heart. That said, it is intimidating and I can’t shake off the worry that I might forget something. Still, the way that the basics of magic as described makes sense, and I’m certain that will go a long way in being able to keep track of how to handle magic rolls, given how important it is to the setting in general.

Given the size of the Magic Chapters, I’ll be breaking this into sub-entries. Next up we’ll be taking a look at Spirit Magic, Shamans and Spirits & the Spirit World.

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!



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!


Fighting isn’t something you get into lightly in RuneQuest. Combat is dangerous, and there’s a good chance that none of the combatants will walk away unscathed.


Let me get this out of the way first. I loved that the Combat chapter opens up with a quick bulleted list of customs of warfare in Glorantha before we get anywhere near anything resembling a mechanic. It’s immediately followed by a vivid description of just how brutal, confusing and ugly combat can be.

Phases of a Combat Round

Combat Rounds are discussed as a mechanical means to simulate the chaos of battle, and is broken down to four phases:

  • Statement of Intent
  • Movement of non-engaged characters
  • Resolution of Melee, Missiles and Spells
  • Bookkeeping

It feels quick, and I suppose it is once you’ve gotten the hang of it, but RuneQuest’s combat tends to be on the detailed side, and the statement I made when I wrote the last articles holds true: Every Hit Matters.

Strike Ranks

A mixture of weapon speed and an innate initiative score, Strike Ranks determine which attacks take place first in a melee round. Factors that affect this include the character’s SIZ and DEX scores, and weapon reach. Spears, for example have a lower Strike Rank modifier as opposed to knives.

No action or combination of actions may be performed in one melee round if the total Strike Ranks necessary adds up to more than 12. As such if a spell needs more than 12 Strike Ranks, it takes more than a single round to do so.

When not engaged, an adventurer can spend 12 strike ranks on performing various actions. But when engaged in melee, the adventurer must spend it attacking and defending. It makes sense in the context of what goes on once you’re already in the midst of the deadly back-and-forth of melee combat, where you’re busy both trying to get a hit in while avoiding injury at the same time.

Attacks and Defenses

Attacking is a basic roll involving the adventurer’s melee or missile skill. The Defender may try to avoid damage by parrying or dodging the blow, trusting their armor or through magic.

There are several tables that are consulted that deal with results on the outcomes of these rolls. There’s an Attack and Parry results table, and a Dodge Results table. Needless to say, the higher roll always has the advantage, but there are various effects that could take place. For example, should a Critical Attack be resisted by a Normal Parry, then the attacker inflicts maximum special damage and the defender’s parrying weapon HP is reduced by the damage rolled with any excess applying to an adjacent hit location, with no armor protection.


Subsequent attempts to Parry suffer a penalty to reflect the difficulty of being overwhelmed.

Passions or Runes in Combat

Both Passions or Runes can be used in combat as an Augment action. This takes no additional time to perform and is more indicative of a character drawing on their emotions or nature to provide a boost.

Special Damage

Because RuneQuest is just that kind of game, it’s not enough to just describe damage done by weapons. Instead, damage can become special. If the attack roll results in Special Damage then the attack is resolved according to the rules of the three types of Special Damage: Impaling, Slashing and Crushing.

Each one is handled differently, but usually has a doubled normal damage result plus extra effects. Impaling weapons, for example become stuck in the body of the target and need to be freed for further use.

Weapons and Armor

Weapons and armor are given a detailed look in this chapter as well with full details and descriptions for the weapons, and a detailed rundown of armor values and coverage for each piece!

Needless to say, having armor on majority (or all) hit loacations is a very good idea.

Special Rules

In addition to the standard combat, there are also rules for fighting while mounted, from a chariot or even in phalanx formation!

Combat in RuneQuest doesn’t read like it’ll be fast. But what it will be is descriptive, tense and deadly. In many ways, it fulfills the design intent of having a system that treats combat with the level of detail that it deserves, so that every fight feels more like something out of Grimgar rather than Dragonball Z.

Next up, we’ll be taking a look that the Runes and Passions!

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!


Now we get to the part where we find out how to get things done in RuneQuest!

The Game System chapter opens up with a discussion of Time in the game. It’s a surprisingly detailed take on it, differentiating Real Time (actual amount of time that passes in-character and as a player, like when you’re delivering a speech in-character) from Narrative Time, and combat measures of time such as Turns, Rounds and Skill and Ability Times.

Ability Use

Fans of Chaosium’s games will find this very familiar. The basic mechanic of the game is a percentile roll against a difficulty set by the Skill or Ability’s corresponding rating. Unlike in Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, Characteristics are rated from 3 to 18, and their ratings are multiplied to get the final rating to be rolled against. A part of me prefers having everything scale to 100% like in Cthulhu, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

Rolling equal to or lower to the rating is a success, and rolling above that is a failure. Critical successes occur if the roll is 5% of the modified chance of success, with “01” always counting as a critical success. Likewise, Fumbles happen when they roll equal to 5% of the adventurer’s chance of failure, and always occurs on a roll of “00.”

Augmenting Abilities

One of the neater mechanics in RuneQuest is the fact that when appropriate, you can use a skill, passion or rune, to augment another ability of the same or different type. This means that for example, a roll to attempt to make an impassioned speech to spare a kinsman’s life can be augmented by the orator’s passion of love for kin.

To augment, one simply has to roll the augmenting skill, passion or rune first, with the results adding a bonus to your second actual roll to perform the act in question. Success can net you a bonus of anywhere from a +20% to +50%(!) on the roll. However, failing in the augmentation roll means that you penalize your skill roll as well.

It’s a simple mechanic, and yet it elegantly ties together the role of emotion, motivation and know-how into a single mechanic.


Damage is handled next, with a discussion on hit point totals and the hit location system. Some games offer hit locations as an option, but in RuneQuest it’s baked into the core of the game, leading so some very interesting maimed characters further into the story. Some players don’t like having too much detail on this as it slows the action down, but I appreciate the level of detail since every hit means something.


Healing in RuneQuest can take the form of magic, which is handy in the sense that it can be used more often, and First Aid, which is a measure to heal a little bit of damage and to stabilize the dying. Outside of those two, you have to resort to natural healing.

Also there’s mention of magical resurrection for the recently dead available in RuneQuest, but it’s not widely available.

Conditions and Damage

The last part of the chapter covers a whole host of discomforts, from falling damage, being set on fire, exposure to temperature extremes, drowning, poison and disease and all sorts of other fun things that happen to Adventurers.


The following chapter is the Skills chapter, which details the various skills in the game, with their base chance, and a description of what the skill actually does. There’s a surprising amount of detail baked into the descriptions, with movement rates and how certain mechanics should be invoked in situations involving each skill.

It’s a hefty chapter, but one that a GM will do wise to study in detail as there’s a lot of small rules tucked away inside each of the descriptions. That said, this is one of those situations where having a PDF is an advantage as you can get away with doing a quick search through the file rather than flipping through it manually.

The rules of RuneQuest are about as solid as it can get. Decades of play have pretty much honed it to the point that the designers know that it works. There’s some really good elements like the Augmenting rules that I found to be more interesting than the old “I spend Willpower for a boost” rule more common to more recent rpg designs.

That said, it can be a bit intimidating to people who are more used to storygames. I still hope that they’ll give it a chance however, as there’s a great payoff to engaging with the mechanics and seeing everything just work.

Next up, we’ll be taking a look at combat in RuneQuest!

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!


Today we’ll take a quick peek at the setting chapters for the RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha core book.

The book introduces us to Dragon Pass, the main theater of stories of Glorantha, though the chapter is quick to promise that supplements will be giving more information on the other homelands available to this enormous setting.

The homelands discussed therefore are: Esrolia, Grazelands, Prax, Sartar, Lunar Tarsh,
and Old Tarsh. Each of these homelands in turn is presented in a format that discusses their geography and nature, as well as the stereotypes, attitudes, politics and helpfully for those unfamiliar with Glorantha, common names for characters from each Homeland.

Each of the Homeland is treated at some length, with each one also hosting a map of the region, and lovely artwork that presents the various costumes and appearance of the people of the area.

The best details lie in the individual regions under a Homeland, however. As a complete novice to Glorantha as a setting, I know nothing about it, and I felt just a bit overwhelmed at the details, and I suspect that having more experience in running games perhaps at a local level will help me find my feet.

Each of the Regions has notes on culture and what clans occupy them, as well as notes on locations with interesting features or history. It helps that each of these locations have some sort of interesting feature at least, and a plot hook to consider at most.

The Homelands section of the book is quite the eye opener, with a look at the key locations of Dragon Pass. The details are pretty heavy, but I’ve heard things about the Guide to Glorantha having an incredible amount of information to fill in any blanks I might still have.

That said, the regions are interesting, and there’s plenty of things going on to power so many different campaigns. Much in the way that I ran L5R, I could get away with having games centered around a single Homeland, or a Clan within that Homeland, and take things from a domestic level first until I’m confident enough to scale up. Regardless, from a GMs point of view, it’s a majestic sandbox with plenty of space to grow into.

Next up, we’ll be taking a look at the rules for RuneQuest and maybe dive into combat as well!

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!