Magic in Glorantha (cont.)

From: Sergio Mascarenhas (
Date: Thu 09 Oct 1997 - 17:54:51 EEST

Nick Brooke about Loskalmi Justice:
>>> (Frank's) system seems designed with the Loskalmi citizen in mind.
>>> What about foreigners?
>> This is a good question. But I belive banishment would be appropriate.
> Of course, during the Syndics Ban this would have been a death sentence.
> Was this your intention?
Frank's judicial system is so tidy that I suppose after the end of the
Syndics Ban there must have been an huge movement of emigration from
discontent loskalmis to escape it...

Back to the discussion of magic systems:

Michael C. Morrison commenting my suggestion of combining POW with CON:
<< It's not clear to me whether CON no longer applies to physical exertion
(and disease and poison) or
only to magical exertion and connectedness. >>
It applies to both. I remember that I'm not subbstituting POW by CON no
more that I'm subbstituting CON by POW. I'm combining both in a single
stat: VITality.

<< As written, your use of CON makes divine magic users the most
powerful in all Glorantha! You sacrifice CON to the god, but do not
lose any of it ... Either you can sacrifice indefinitely, becoming
very closely tied to the god, and supremely powerful, or the player
must keep track of "real CON" and "sacrificed CON" in order to
maintain balance. Just like POW vs MPs. >>

And Hibbs Philip:
<< Look here, why are we scratching around for a stat to relate magic
to? Why not just use POW? >>
Saying that you sacrifice VIT to the god means that you commit your vital
forces to the god. You can only sacrifice the VIT you have. Important note:
in my proposal you don't gain VIT the way you gain POW in RQ. VIT is a
mundane stat. It only 'grows' in the mundane plane.
Spirit and divine beeings don't develop VIT. That's why they must interact
with mundane creatures: it's the only way to acquire MPs and VIT. A god
gains VIT when a new worshiper commits himself to his cult.
A creature's growth his the natural way of acquiring VIT. When the creature
reaches adulthood it stops growing VIT. There is nop way to acquire VIT
Magic can allow you to 'steal' the VIT/MP of other living things. For
instance, sorcerors do it through tapping. Most cultures see thaking other
persons VIT/MP as an evil action. Of course, it deppends on what you are
tapping (is it an intelligent beeing or a non-intelligent beeing?) and how
you are doing it. Powerfull magicians take VIT/MP not from a single source,
but from all sources around, and at a very slow and incremental rate so
that the sources can regerate their VIT/MPs. Cults organize ceremonies
where people sacrifice willingly their VIT/MPs.
Chaos is unable to produce VIT, it exists by taking it from the living.
I like the idea that doing really powerful magic cost you VIT (or those you
can tap). It's the common image of the physicaly weak magician doing power
spells and geting weaker the more powerful the spells are (remember
Moorcok's Elric).
That's one of the reasons why I connect CON with POW in VIT. It's the more
simple and natural way I can think about to explain why doing magic has a
clear physical impact. Doing magic consumes VIT: it destroys life. Based on
this basic principle we can understand the eccological equilibrium that
surrounds the usage of magic. The greedy magician will seek more and more
power at the expense of the environment. He doesn't care if his power means
barreness to the people and life forms he his tapping. In the long run his
magical deeds will turn agains him. This is characteristic of chaos. The
responsible magician will try to keep a balance which means that he will
have to limit himself.

I liked a lot Michael's suggestions for a new magic system for Glorantha.
They are very different form mine's and that is fine: that means we
Issaries Inc. wil have plenty of creative ideas on which to pick (if their
designers whant to) in GD.

David Miller:
<< I've been giving some thought about removing the spirit magic system
from RQ. From a referee's point of view it greatly reduces the power levels
experienced PC's, who tend to have lots of power crystals and magic spirits
fuel their bladesharp 5 and heal 6 spells >>
A prelimiar note: if experienced PC's are so powerful, it's because the
referees hallow them to become so.
I agree with David that the spirit magic rules in RQ are not adequate for
Glorantha but don't see why we shoud remove the spirit magic system. What
we need his another system that avoids the pitfalls David mentioned.
IMO RQ's spirit magic system is excessively tidy to be useful in Glorantha.
It is excessively standardized. Compare it with sorcery: sorcery is the

result of rational almost 'cientific' research. So it is understandable
that it should work in a very standardized way.
Spirit magic is completely different. It is the result of tradition (that's
why I prefer to call it 'traditional magic'). Spells should be different
from place to place. each culture in Glorantha that has spirit magic should
have his hown spells. Those spells would share some common mechanics but
wouldn't be equal everywhere. Think about bladesharp: a praxian's
bladesharp 1 his the same as a barbarian bladesharp 1 and a pamaltelan
bladesharp 1. It has the same duration and effects. In fact, you can learn
bladesharp 1 in Heortland and go to Prax and learn there bladesharp 2. This
should not be so. So, how would he work? Let's see an example:
- - First, the Praxian bladesharp his not even Praxian: it his the bladesharp
of tribe X (each tribe has his own spirit / traditional spells). The same
applies to barbarian spells.
- - Second it his not called bladesharp: it his called the 'Mighty sword of
Khan Z'. In Heortland you would find a spell known has 'Arkat?s powerful
blow at Whitewall door' and it would be specific to Whitewall, of course.
- - The 'Mighty sword of Khan Z' enances your damage with swords by 3. It's
a fixed value. 'Arkat?s mighty blow at Whitewall door' his even more
powerful, it increases damage with swords by 5, but it only works on two
handed swords.
- - The 'Mighty sword of Khan Z' lasts for 2d6 minutes. 'Arkat?s powerful
blow at Whitewall door' is instant: you do it for a blow.

- - Learning a spirit / traditional spell requires some 'spirit' envolvment
but it would work in a completly different way from RQ. The involvment is
with the spirits of those who know the spell: in my examples, your sword
brothers. You learn the 'Mighty sword of Khan Z' by living in the tribe,
fighting for the tribe and practising your sword skills with other tribe
members. You know you know it when in a fight you feel the inspiration of
the 'Mighty sword of Khan Z' and actually use-it. The same is true of the

'Arkat?s powerful blow at Whitewall door', only that you must be a member
of Humakt's temple at Whitewall to learn it. Knowing the 'Mighty sword of
Khan Z' contributes nothing for learning the 'Arkat?s powerful blow at
Whitewall door' and vice-versa.
The spells are culture specific and are secrets not to be taught to
foreigners lightly. The praxian tribe wouldn't allow a barbarian to acquire
the knowledge of the 'Mighty sword of Khan Z' unless they accepted him
almost as a tribe member. This could take years.

The RQ rules are a generic game system. They don't allow for the variety
and richness of a world like Glorantha. A Glorantha specific game system
should not be limited by the kind of constrains you find in a generic game


Sergio Mascarenhas


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