Learning Rune Magic

From: Paolo Guccione (teigupa@tss.tei.ericsson.se)
Date: Mon 13 Jan 1997 - 19:50:37 EET

WARNING: Rulesy!

There is an interesting discussion on Divine Magic currently in progress
on the Digest. I would like to comment some of the last contributions
and propose some ideas of my own. I am going to discuss rules, but my
intent is to decrease the stress placed on game mechanics in order to
enhance roleplaying and to make our games more connected to Gloranthan
mythology as far as divine magic is concerned.

Michael C. Morrison

> I' m not sure I understand what it would mean to "learn" a spell without
> sacrificing for it

Divine spells are derived from HeroQuests. In fact, when you learn such
a spell you are performing a limited version of the Quest in a safe and
controlled environment. For instance, when your Orlanthi gets Shield he
is performing the Arming of Orlanth (from KoS, Orlanthi Mythology) with
the assistance of a RuleLord who has mastered the Quest himself. Hence
the time spent learning the magic and the need to have a priest who
instructs you in it. There is a very interesting article about this in
Simon Phipp's web page (now defunct, I'm afraid).

If you suppose that you may perform the Quest without sacrificing POW,
and just retain the knowledge of the myth to invoke it at a later time,
then you have learned the spell without sacrificing for it.

David Cake

> The biggest problem with RunePower is stacking. Inevitably, someone
> with 12 points of Runepower will want to use it to cast Shield 12

I agree. Runepower is nice with good roleplayers, but you need
artificial restrictions to keep powergamers under control. And although

criticals are still possible, Shield 12 = almost invincible. Another
point is that you need a lot of compicate restrictions also to avoid
initiates of Orlanth and other deities full of already-detailed subcults
and associates being able to cast 30+ special spells, not counting
common divine magic. Special spells should require peculiar procedures
to achieve both game balance and a good opportunity for roleplaying.
Which takes me to the contribution by

Erik Sieurin

> The magic available at a temple depends on the rituals commonly performed
> there. Rare spells are gained through rare rituals.

I like this idea very much. The idea behind temple availability of
spells at a given temple is one of the most colorful details in the
whole description of RM, and helps a lot in describing the details of
the social structure of your campaign setting, as it introduces local
shrines giving access to peculiar spells and gives a good reason for
clans to join into tribes and kingdoms and for clansmen to journey to
the big city and partecipate in worship ceremonies there. Alas, I

suspect that many GMs do not stress this restriction because the POW
cost is the real drawback that usually limits players in learning DM.

I also appreciated Erik's variant divine magic system. I like the idea
of "learning" a runespell and then spending Soul Points or Runepower
points (it would be Runes in my own variant, thus limiting the spell
stacking to the number of appropriate runes available, not the total
number of runes) to cast it. I think that learning a divine spell should
be intimately connected to one of the god's Heroquests, performed in a
ritual way and with no variation from the myth.

My own considerations now.

What I would like to see is a great stress posed on cult rituals. For
instance, the High Holy day ritual for Orlanth could be a great
re-enacting of myth performed by the worshipers,

Imagine the High Holy Day ritual for Orlanth at a Major Temple. Hundreds
of worshipers gather, and re-enact all myths from Orlanth's Saga,
culminating with the Lightbringer Quest. The ritual has several stages,
each portraying one of Orlanth's Heroic deeds. Each worshiper has then
an opportunity of being Orlanth in the quest, thus gaining direct
knowledge of the inner secrets of the cult. It is this mystical insight
that allows the cultist to call upon that specific quest during mundane
encounters in order to cast the appropriate divine spell. From a game
POV, we could say that knowledge of the spell is gained during this
ritual, be it one casting of the associate spell or the ability to cast
the spell by means of Runepower points. IMHO it is the cultist who has
mastered the most "standard Heroquests" who should be the most magically
powerful and deserves Runelordship or Priesthood, not the one who had a
lot of spare POW to exchange for divine spells. The mundane skill
requirements for priesthood are a mere abstraction of the skills
required to be victorious in these quests.

Now a real break in the whole DM affair would be roleplaying the rituals
in order to determine success in gaining access to the spells. The GM
should carefully introduce the whole ritual as a mini-scenario, with the
spell as the final reward. Proper behaviour might even result in a
"discount" in the POW price, at the GM's opinion. This requires a lot of
work on the Gamemaster's part, but helps a lot in fleshing out both
characters and cults.

Another important point in handling gloranthan divine magic is the
matter of spell names. I do not think that different cults share the
same name for the same spell. For instance, Orlanthi probably call
Shield "Turnspear" because they get it through the Arming of Orlanth
Quest (see KoS), while Uroxi call it something like "Bull's Hide".
Orlanthi refer to Great Parry as "Shield of Arran", because that is the
mythical source of the spell, while Babeester Gor avengers probably call
it "Earth Shield". Some minoor traits of the spell may even be different
from one cult and another.

As I stated before, some of these points were much better highlighted in
Simon Phipp's page. Simon, where is all that nice stuff now?

Paolo Guccione teigupa@tss.ericsson.se p.guccione@geco.it


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