Re: Rune Magic

From: Paolo Guccione (
Date: Thu 16 Jan 1997 - 19:38:21 EET

Erik Sieurin

[ replying to my suggestion about diversifying spell names ]

> 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".

Ugh! But the intent behind my comment went in exactly the same direction
as yours! As a GM, I _never_ had any NPC use game terms for magic. In
fact, I think I never did as a player, either. Flowery names for spells
should be only a suggestion to players about the sort of periphrasis
their characters actually use to refer to the magic effect they invoke,
not the official name the High Priest uses for the spell. Coming back to
our Shield example, an Orlanthi who used Shield in battle could tell his
tale like "When I saw the huge broo I invoked Orlanth's might to make my
armor as tough as his mail coat, Turnspear.", which is better than the
game lingo "Then I cast Shield/Turnspear/Whatsoever on myself to fend
off the broo's attack". I simply think that having a direct reference to
Orlanth's myth in the spell designation can induce some players to
choose the correct language.

And after all, this "taxonomical" approach to magic is clearly a God
Learner construct...

Donald Wachenschwanz

> However, in a situation where an Orlanthi is being approached by a Lunar with lowered
> spear, this particular Orlanthi, who for whatever reason has never been shown the
> secrets of "The Arming of Orlanth," but knows that Orlanth is an awesome deity, thinks
> in a split second, "Orlanth protect me from that spear:" Will not Orlanth, in
> recognition of the worshipper's devotion (runepower points) cause the worshipper to be
> surrounded by his Shield (or "Turn Spear" as someone suggested)?

You pointed out the exact situation that makes me sceptical about
"generic" Runepower. In your example you assume that the Orlanthi has
proven his devotion to his god by sacrificing many points of POW. So
Orlanth should intervene with all powers he has available to help his
worshiper. I have three main objections.

First of all, your solution involves a certain degree of intentionality
on the deity's part. Does it not violate the Compromise? I believe that
going out of the known schemes requires Free Will, which is a
characteristic owned by the worshiper, not the god.

Second, you are using sacrificed POW as a measure of how worthy the
worshiper appears to the god. My opinion, instead, is that a woshiper
proves worthy to his god by walking his or her Path as stated by the GC,
both in re-enactment rituals and in notable deeds on the mundane plane.
Your Orlanthi has never participated in a well-known Quest, not even in
the rituals, so I think he risks being judged unworthy of protective
magic by Orlanth, no matter how much POW he donated. Orlanth prefers
worshipers who show bravery in front of the enemy, maybe calling upon
divine powers who , not people who start crying "Oh, my god, help me
against this foe because I have no means of overcoming him". The sort of
prayer you suggested sounds too "chrisitianized" to my ears. A RW
viking, which is a good template for a gloranthan Orlanthi, would never
enter combat with such a plea to Odin: he would feel a coward if he did.

[ No offense to RW believers, the above judgements are limited to
roleplaying barbarian characters. I still prefer the christian idea of

"man can succeed only with God's help" when not roleplaying. And
"cowards" are the guys who survive and keep humanity alive. ]

Third, it sounds too much like "Pay POW, get spell" to me, which I do
not consider very good for Roleplaying purposes. I am afraid most
players would abuse such flexibility with the excuse of the high POW
cost, much like many tend to do with DI.

But maybe I am misinterpreting your POV.

Owen Jones

> In the same way that your battle magic spell Healing 2 has to be learnt on
> top of Healing 1, you could require that before you can stack two
> points of Shield (or whatever), you have to complete a more intricate
> version of the ritual wherein you learnt Shield.

> Conceivably, you could require that to stack 2 points of a spell, you
> must perform the learning ritual on a cult holy day. Performing it on a
> high holy day might allow you to stack 3 points. Alternatively, only
> certain temples might have the priesthood in place that could lead you
> properly through the more involved versions of the "Shield Ritual". If
> these rituals are in fact minor heroquests, where you act out some part
> of your gods mythos, then learning how to stack points further could be a
> heroquest proper (or part of a heroquest)

Why should the learning ritual be separate from the main Worship
rituals? If an initiate attends High Holy Day cults and "plays the role"
of the deity in it (rituals as roleplaying: an interesting new
perspective...) after being instructed by the priesthood, or simply
concentrates his efforts on a deeper understanding of one aspect of
myth, he has certainly gained enough insight in the appropriate myth to
be able to cast a new spell or to stack a known spell one level higher.
Subcult or associate spells could be gained at an appropriate temple on
the subcult's Holy Day. Maybe Sacred Time is a also good time for new
spell-yelding rituals.

I think that an Initiate should visit a temple outside Holy Days or
weeks allotted to temple duties only to sacrifice for Rune points, not
to increase his spell array. This way it is the normal (i.e. required)
temple attendance that increases the cultist's knowledge of the cult
secrets (Rune Spells), whereas POW sacrifices only give him "fuel" for
his Rune Magic, like Erik Sieurin's Soul Points. And this is fairly
consistent, IMHO, since it makes people who attend all yearly rituals
fairly powerful. Priests, OTOH, are much freer in performing rituals
than Initiates are, and not only they have already mastered most
mythical paths, but they can try new ones without further instructions.
Probably they can try a new ritual each Holy Day, while Initiates are
limited to the High Holy Day.

Heroquests should not be a requirement for normal spells, since not all
worshipers have access to them. However, re-enacting the mythical path
on the Hero or God Plane yelds a much deeper insight than a mere ritual,
so it should allow the quester to stack many more points of the related
spell, or perhaps enhance the spell effect or make it reusable.

One question is still unanswered: what myths (and rituals) give access
to common Runespells? Maybe Sacred Time rituals, which are performed,
though differently, by all cults?

Paolo Guccione


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