Rune Magic

From: Erik Sieurin (
Date: Mon 13 Jan 1997 - 23:14:42 EET

Paolo Guccione:
> 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.
Some further notes: This is why the spell(s) taught at shrines, the
smallest and often most common temple, are either A, very primeavally
connected with the Deity's unique being or B, very useful for the
worshippers. In the first case, it is because the rites performed
simply to remind the deity that the worshippers exist are connected
to the Identity of the deity, often the thing that defined his or her
powers. In the second case, the rites are those performed to gain the
support of the deity in those aspects of It which are most important
to the community.

And note this as well: In this I also suppose that to learn a DM
spell in a rite, you have be the person who either acts as the deity
who uses the power (you act as Heler sleeping with Ernalda and giving
his fertile rain, thus you learn the rain spell) or the being, mortal
or divine, which receives a power (you act as Orlanth freeing Heler
from the dragon, freeing the rain, and thus you gain the rain spell).

These rites are not performed for the heck of it; they are performed
at certain holy days every year, or when circumstances say they need
it, not because person A wants to learn the spell. Many spells are
taught directly as a part of initiation, though - so if Humakt's
prime aspect is as God of War, every new Humakti will learn

Thus, those who will learn more than the basic spells are those who
take important part in the rituals. Since dire things would happen
should the rituals fail, this is usually left to the professionals -
priests and godi. As a High Priest you will know many spells since
you lead all rites, even the most rare and remote.

The reader will note that I view DM as a side benefit of the rituals
of worship, whose main objectives is propitiate nasty deities, thank
nice deities, keep indifferent deities content and keep the world
rolling on as it should.

> 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.
I agree with the last point, but when it comes to the first I'm a
great heretic: I do not think spells have names at all. This sounds
stupid, I know, but its a matter of language. IMG people do not say
"I know the Bull's Hide spell" but "I can make my skin as tough as
the Bull's Hide". And people don't cast Bladesharp, and neither do

they cast Humakt's Whetstone, but instead they will use a charm to
sharpen their blade, or, when speaking formally, say something like
"I used Humakt's Whetstone on my blade, aye, and then I could hurt
the accursed Telmori, though just a little". Spells are seldom things
to be named. Is this EXTREMELY unclear? Thought so. I dare not tell
you thereason, for it would make me a REAL outcast. But no, I must
give them the truth: Speaking about the names of spells, even if they
are "flowery" ("Ball of Abysmal Flame" instead of Fireball, etc),
always kills my ability to suspend disbelief stone dead - it is for
me intimately associated with bad fantasy roleplaying.

After this confession, if you have to give spells names within the
game, I also prefer them to be varying dependent on source.

Erik Sieurin


End of Glorantha Digest V4 #74

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