RunePower Update

From: David Cheng (
Date: Tue 07 Jan 1997 - 01:27:35 EET

Since RunePower has reared its ancient head once again in the past few
Digests, I thought I'd refresh our collective memories of an update that
was formulated here on the Digest.

When the article first appeared in _Tales of the Reaching Moon_ #12, it
prompted a bit of discussion here on the Digest: "Too generous!" "Too open
to abuse by powergamers!" "Sounds great!"

In response, one idea put forth by someone (was it Rob Mace?) was that the
knowledge of using a particular rune spell had to be learned. This is _not_
the same thing as saying the spell _has to be sacrificed for_. "Learned" is
in the sense that the priest teaches the initiate the legends surrounding
the acts of the god which today allow that god's worshippers to use that
kind of magic. There is also a ritual where the way to invoke that magic is
taught. In game terms, this could be considered undergoing the
Spellteaching spell.

So, even if you've got a lot of Rune Points sacrificed for, you might have
limited ways to invoke their divine power.

Example One:

Flavius is a stereotypical one-dimensional warrior. He worships the Yanafal
Tarnils aspect of the Seven Mothers with religious passion. He spends most
of his free time training with weapons.

Flavius, in his narrow-mindedness, is really only inspired by combat.
During the weekly services, he tends to fall asleep unless the priest is
recounting a legend about Yanafal Tarnils' exploits in battle. If the
sermon is to be about one of those other sissy deities, like Jakaleel the
Witch, he frequently arranges to "have other duties."

When conducting more personal study with his priest, Flavius has stubbornly
refused to 'waste his time' with any mythology not related to his purity as
a warrior. Thus, he has undergone only the rituals required to teach him
how to invoke the 'Shield' and 'True Scimitar' spells.

(These are standard, minor heroquests in their own right, much like the
initiation ceremony is a minor heroquest. Do you know how 'deeper secrets
of the religion' are said to be taught to initiates? Well, consider rune
spell knowledge a 'deeper secret' learned through heroquest.)

In game terms, even if Flavius has 10 Rune Power points saved up, he can
only spend them on the spells Shield and True Scimitar.

Example Two:

Etrigus is a devotee of the Irippi Ontor aspect of the Seven Mothers. He
lives by the motto "Knowledge is Power", and his whole life is a quest to
accumulate knowledge to that end.

Religious studies are one of Etrigus' favorite disciplines. He is
encouraged by the knowledge that his motto holds true in this case; the
more he learns about the secrets of the Seven Mothers, the more magical
power he will have to wield.

Etrigus pays diligent attention during weekly services, and he frequently
stays afterward to ask the priest questions about that day's sermon. He
spends much of his time immersed in the mythology of the birth of the Red
Goddess, and the roles of each of The Seven. Etrigus pays particular
attention during instruction about magical ritual. His enthusiasm has made
him the favorite of some priests; they see him on the fast track for
priesthood himself. Others find his constant craving for spiritual
instruction annoying.

Etrigus has performed as many of the mystical rituals as time has allowed.
His command of the divine magic available to the Seven Mothers is unrivaled
for an initiate so young. Not only has he walked several of Irippi Ontor's
hero paths (learned how to cast several Irippi Ontor knowledge rune
spells), but he has learned Shield from Yanafal Tarnils, Prevent Decay from
Jakaleel the Witch, and several versions of Divination (so he can ask the
Seven Mothers questions directly - it seems he is not content to pester
only his priests).

In game terms, Etrigus has the opposite situation from Flavius. Etrigus
has sacrificed 4 points of POW for Rune Power. However, his immersion in
cult lore means that he can choose from almost ten different spells when he
wants to cast some rune magic.

* POW is sacrificed for Rune Points.
* The character has to learn how to cast each spell he or she would like
   to have available in the future (has to perform that specific minor
* This can be roleplayed out (suggested). This is the GMs opportunity
   to 'veto' certain spells: "Your priest doesn't think you're ready for
   that heroquest yet - how will you prove to him that you are?" "The priest
   doesn't like you, so he's not going to teach you that mythology." Good MGF.
* OPTIONAL: A priest cannot teach any spell that he doesn't know himself.
   (Unless you interpret that the Spellteaching spell imparts the knowledge,
   whether that particular priest has it or not.)
* This might also be abstracted as needing a minimum (Cult) Lore skill
   of, say, 25%. Ceremony skill can be substituted if you're not using
   (Cult) Lore in your game. Time spent learning and enacting a new spell
   heroquest would count as training time toward the (Cult) Lore skill.
   A GM could says that a successful increase in (Cult) Lore signifies
   that enough knowledge was gained to learn a new spell.
* GMs who want to limit certain spells in their campaign can impose a
   more demanding (Cult) Lore minimum: "Sorry, this priest doesn't teach
   Sever Spirit to anyone who hasn't shown enough devotion to have
   Humakt Lore to at least 75%."
* After the ability to cast the spell is mastered, Rune Points can be used
   to cast that spell at any time in the future. Spells available to the
   character should be listed on the character sheet.

I think that's the consensus of the discussion as it went here, without my
long-winded examples and all. Please know that I wholeheartedly endorse
this addition to the RunePower system. I think it is an excellent way to
impose limits on the magic available to characters in the game. And, I
think it makes good Gloranthan sense too.

Well, that's more than enough from me for today.

See you all in Chicago!

- -DC

Last minute thought as I was proofreading!

Maybe this answers Jane's question very nicely, while also covering Nick
Brooke's concerns about "why should a devout initiate _not_ emulate his
god, by casting spells, in order to become a priest?".

* * *
To become a priest, a character has to have enacted the heroquests to gain
the knowledge of how to cast ten different spells.

He or she can have burned as many or as few Rune Power points along the way
as necessary, but this is irrelevant.

Knowing how to cast the spells requires a good knowledge of the ways of the
god, and this is good. This is rewarded with reusable rune magic.
* * *

Yeah, I like this a lot.

- -DC


End of Glorantha Digest V4 #50

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