Runes, Lore, Heroes and Drinking the Giant's Cauldron.....

From: Paul Chapman (
Date: Fri 09 May 1997 - 03:35:33 EEST

Hello everyone.... take a deep breath for an extraordinarily long posting.
Unfortunately, I haven't picked up the trick of posting regularly yet, so
I'm going to refer to stuff from _ages_ ago!

Philip Hibbs, commenting on a question posed by Merlin Cox:-
>>What's the crosspiece on the Death rune?
>What's the upright, for that matter. The classic explanation is that it's a
>sword, so the crosspiece would be the handguard. It could just as well be a
>set of scales, with the crosspiece being pivoted in the middle.

David Dunham re: the same-
>The hilt of the sword.

Not so, IMO. This opens a can of worms re: the universal nature of runes,
which I'm sure has been discussed before on the digest. Is Death Humakt's
rune... it was once ruled by Kargan Tor (from my memory only...), did he
use a sword too? If the Death Rune really was a sword, I'd expect swords
to be more dangerous weapons in Glorantha... why would anyone use anything
else? No, I see the appearance of the Rune as a sword to be a fairly hefty
degree of cultural bias from the air worshippers. Humakt was a Storm God
before he became Death, and as we all know the sword is the elemental
weapon of air... _of course_ when HE wielded it it looked like a sword and
it's understandable the impression pretty much stuck like that. But I
disagree that that is the original/true meaning of the death rune, or even
quite the original _shape_.

So, what _do_ I think? Here goes:
Similarly to the Tarot card, the true meaning of death is ending. That is,
the ending of something that was to allow for something new. Like the
Godtime ending to allow for a new thing, Time. Of course this is like
saying it's like change, which it is.... change and disorder... who was it
who found the sword laying in the darkness but Eurmal, he knows a lot about
change now doesn't he?

The simplest diagrammatical way to represent something causing the end/an
interruption to a continuous state of being is the intersection of two
lines, one cutting the other.... like a plus sign or a Maltese cross (like
the one Westerners occasionally use on shields).... or if stylised a bit,
the Death Rune as we know it. IMO any simple cross is the Death Rune, and
it's common form really is just a Storm pantheon stylisation. Do the Uz
see it as a sword? I think not.

Big Humakti Secret IMG (Merlin/Bertie _don't_ read this!) - Humakt knows
Death isn't really final, Death merely leads to change and in essence
growth... not usually on the personal level, but on a more general scale.

Yelm dying may not have done too much for him, but it lead to a lot of
change for everybody else! So if Humakt knows this, why doe he not allow
for resurrection, why is he such a fanatic for final death? Because he
_understands_ he is part of the balance (with life - Uleria or her kin?),

he is the Yin to the Yang of Life/Growth and without him there would be no
change and only stagnation. If he didn't kill, there'd be too much damned
life and nothing would ever change. YT sees it in a different way, he sees
the balance and thus sees no reason to restrict himself... he does not
agree with Humakt's extreme polarity. The Red Goddess knows this truth
(the Yin/Yang situation) and exploits it by making the whole death/rebirth
cycle that is so central to Glorantha a part of herself... her secret...

That's it in simplicity. All IMO, but it seems to make sense. I'm
expecting a lot of flames on this; please think about it at least before

Moving on...
Stephen martin kindly answers my Yinkin question:-

>>As a closing question - does anyone know anything about Yinkin? For some
>>reason I have an overwhelming urge to write children's stories about
>>Yinkin the cat, and need whatever material has been unearthed about him
>>before I start. I just wish I knew _why_ I want to do this...
>All I know (a comment by Greg, a long time ago) was that "the Yinkin
>story" (who knows which one) ends with something like: "And then Yinkin
>went home and ate pea soup." Didn't make much sense to me then.
LOL! How perfect! That's the sort of reason I want to write children's
stories about him, I suppose - I figure it would be fun and a good
introduction for youngsters to Glorantha at the same time. Is anyone
interested in the concept of writing short stories about Glorantha that are
fairly accesible to the uninitiated and maybe publising them together. A
big idea casually raised... sort of like the whole Chthulhu scene I suppose...

>I did write a Yinkin myth once, a horrid little thing which explained why
>men have beards. I might even post it, if it isn't too embarassing. As

Sounds good. If you don't want to post, _please_ mail it to me. I promise
to laugh... in a friendly fashion of course. The concept sounds charming.
Thanks to Nicky B for his stuff too.

To whoever referred to Battle Magic as 'Low Magic', please accept my
praise. In my mind, that sums it up perfectly. Does anyone want an
explanation of the term? For those that understand it, it says everyhting
about Battle Magic that I was trying to say a while back. Nice.

Re: Greg's Magic Clarification:
Very nice. IMO Greg isn't really saying that casting magic should cause a
loss of what would be in RQ3 stats terms Fatigue Points, just that Magic
Point loss is basically pretty fatiguing physically, mentally and
spiritually. Let's face it, 'magic points' blatantly exist in our world,
sometimes we feel drained and at other times powerful, energetic and
refreshed, the sort of times we throw minor acts of Low Magic about all
over the place, only to get tired as a result. I'll stand by and expand on
that line for anybody who wants to discuss/argue it.
        IMO it's partly practice and partly mythical linkage that makes Huamkti so
good with bladesharp etc., and I'd suggest a RQ game mechanic for it. I
understand POWx5 but I also don't see it as being quite so simple.
        Greg's comments are, as always, right on target as regards the spirit of
Glorantha. Thanks to Greg, and to Steve martin for posting them.

Chris Bell and mad statting:
>Anyone care to take a stab at what the actual game stats may be for
>persons such as Jar-Eel, Argrath or Kallyr, or other Dragon Pass
>notables, in RQ3 terms?

RQ stats, you mean? Why bother? Surely rolls of dice and (RQ) game
mechanics cannot do justice to this sort of being, simply because they're
a) very powerful and b) mythical figures. If you want to scare/impress
your players with one of these figures, throw away the dice and describe
their actions... no need to have big numbers written on paper to tell you
what Jar-Eel can do to somebody when she doesn't like them (poor Pharoah)!
Think mythically if you want to know the sort of things they can do. Read
King of Sartar for good ideas (esp. the bits about Jar-Eel and Harrek),
assuming you can get hold of a copy (worth it's weight in platinum, I
assure you).

Thinking about how RQ falls apart when trying to describe powerful mythical
figures - look at the Crimson Bat stats! The Humakti drove away the Bat
when it attacked Boldhome, didn't they? In my mind's eye I see the

nightmare vision of rows of Humakti initiates lined up, each casting their
one-shot Sever Spirits at the bat, hoping to catch that 5% chance of
killing it outright... one lucky bugger succeeded it would seem :-) LOL!
Would anybody really roll dice for that sort of conflict? If you want to,
I can only recommend them as powerful units in Warhamster, Sandy's
excellent and simple battle system for RQ... available in Tales #12 I believe?

Sandy Petersen replying to the endless (and excessive IMO) debate about
getting lost in Glorantha:-
>>There ought to be a game mechanic for
>>determining if a character knows where he is. There is World Lore but,
>>there should another skill.
> Why isn't World Lore good enough all by itself?

LOL! My sentiments exactly. Underused skills in RQ3, IMO. BTW, thanks for
posting, Sandy. Looks like you really
_do_ get something if you wish for it hard enough!

Sandy goes on to say that people worshipping gods/forces by different names
doesn't actually make them a different


End of Glorantha Digest V4 #392

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