Mark Mohrfield

Non-humans in HeroQuest: Glorantha

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Does anyone have ideas for how Gorantha PC non-humans are statted out? For example, do all Trolls have the Darkness rune? How are species keywords handled? etc.

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I'd have all trolls have the Darkness rune, and then two others as per HQG. I would probably avoid species keywords as that would be covered in the text as per trollpak. No need to explicitly write obvious stuff down. Currently, I hang all their spirit magic off the Darkness rune (or spirit rune if specialising), but @boztakang may have done it different.

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1 minute ago, David Scott said:

I would probably avoid species keywords

I'd probably incorporate that into the Cultural keyword, just as being a human is implied in Heortling or Esrolian.  E.g. Arstola Forest brown elf, Redstone Uz.

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Another option can be to state the race in the Concept of the character and to consider the race as an implicit aspect of the Cultural Keyword.

But I agree that the obvious can be skipped. If all the characters belong to the same race in a campaign, Trolls for example, it is a bit weird to state Troll in each Character Concept.

Edited by Corvantir

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8 hours ago, Corvantir said:

But I agree that the obvious can be skipped. If all the characters belong to the same race in a campaign, Trolls for example, it is a bit weird to state Troll in each Character Concept.

I was thinking of a mixed species party.

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I have a few things written up for a fan supplement I'm making. They could be potentially useful:

Generally speaking, all races have one rune which unites the species as a whole, and usually must be possessed by all members if they wish to be considered "normal". These are:

  • Uz- Darkness

  • Elves- Plant

  • Mostali- Stasis

  • Beastmen- Beast

  • Triolini- Water

  • Chaos (cuz why not)- Chaos

  • Dragonewts (if you're weird like me)- Dragonewt

Additionally, all races possess a cultural keyword that doubles as a racial keyword, I.E. Stinking Forest Aldryami, Nidan Orthodox Mostali, Redstone Uz, Dragon's Eye Dragonewt, etc.

Some races do have special rules associated them, namely the Mostali, Aldryami, and Dragonewts. These are outlined below:


 

THE MOSTALI

 

Runes

The elemental rune of a true Mostali of the original eight metals depends upon their caste (or vice versa). The rune in question is linked to the runic metal of that element.

  • Gold- Sky .

  • Silver- Moon / (Sky .?)

  • Quicksilver- Water

  • Tin- Sky .

  • Lead- Darkness o

  • Brass- Air (maybe sky because of their job?) g

  • Copper- Earth e

  • Rock- Earth e

Clay Mostali, the "Dwarves", are a bit different. Clay Mostali, though they technically belong to one of the eight castes, their elemental rune is less rigidly defined due to their inferior nature, and the rune of Earth is the most common element possessed.

A Mostali’s second rune is always stasis. This is the rune through which they perform magic and follow the way of Mostal the Maker, and those who don’t have it are lucky to simply be branded as Dysfunctional Heretics. The unlucky majority are “retired from service”.

For their third rune, most Mostali take Law, though it is really only required if they are Tin, Quicksilver, or Silver. Some dwarves possess the rune of Death instead, and these are what are grouped into the Iron caste.

Magic

Mostali practice a form of magic which is similar to Sorcery, though it is more commonly based of of the Stasis rune, not Law. Another peculiarity is that since the Mostali believe that Form came before Energy, their spells are more similar to alchemaic formulae for crafting than a Malkioni spell. For instance, where a Rokari Wizard would command the truth rune to make a person incapable of lying, a Mostali would imbue a rock with Truth to make a lie detector.

Each caste has a single Grimoire - (unfinished)

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Mostali metals:

I think they associate silver with stars, and brass with Lodril and his children (another merger of fire with earth, not by birth but by blending the sky fire and the deap earth using a destructive force, similar to a mortar, then crucible - they may even have been the agents of Lodril's mutation from Sky to sort of Earth God).

The Mostali might venerate rock or stone as an element of its own, a mostly fossilized one, except for serious stuff like the Block.

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In general, I agree that combining race and cultural keywords into one works, rather than having a separate racial ability. 

Trolls, - I think most trolls having the Darkness rune works. It is also the main rune for most Kygor Litor magic (and is used by almost every troll cult). Their other two runes are as normal - 1 Power rune for Temperament, and a third rune,.  Very rare trolls have access to a second elemental rune, usually as their third rune, but normally it is just a Power Rune and a third non-elemental Rune as normal. The Darkness Rune or the Cultural keyword can be used for darksense use. The Darkness rune can also be used for trollish sneakiness and also acts as a flaw for trollish hunger, and so on, even if the troll does not know how to use it magically. 

I'm not sure if trollish shamanism needs the Spirit rune, or if they can use the Darkness rune instead. 

Elves - they have the Plant rune, which takes the place of their Third rune. The Plant rune is the primary rune for Aldrya magic, and also elfsense. Aldrya cult shamans might be able to use their shamanic abilities through the Plant Rune by extending their elfsense into the otherworld, I'm not sure. Some other Aldrya cult magic is accessible only via the Earth or Life rune. Other elven religion mostly (apart from Flamal) does not use their Plant rune magically.  

Their Elemental rune is usually Earth, but may be something else more rarely - instead of Fire they may have Light, and Water or Storm would be associated with unusual plants. They never have the Darkness rune (unless they are Voralans, who are really different species entirely). 

Dwarves - Generally, they all have the Stasis Rune, and use it to cast Mostali sorcery, that usually takes the form of ritual or pre-prepared magic rather than spontaneously cast spells (see the Way of Stone in the Flintnail cult, which is a version of the Rock grimoire), and they have a caste based grimoire each. Silver dwarves might have access to a wider range of grimoires. I like the idea of there being a rune for each caste, but I've never seen a list that really works for me - some are obvious (Iron =Death, Rock=Earth) but some never seem to fit well - and also, it would effectively be the same as their profession ability I think. Note sure how best to handle this. They probably also have the Earth rune, but it mostly applies to their physical nature (eg their robust constitution, their earthsense), and their temperament, not their magic. 

Note that an average dwarf (not an Individualist or weird PC type etc) has maybe 1 single ability (their private hobby) that isn't based on their culture, profession, or runes, and even that is often just  a specialisation. They are cookie cutters that don't find individuality confronting. 

Dragonnewts - they have the Dragonnewt rune. Crested can't use it for anything, but desire to increase it. Beaked can use it as normal to cast dragon magic on themselves. Tailed Priests can also use it as if they are Illuminated. Full Priests are beyond that - the closest we can get within the current rules is as if they are always heroquesting, and have a few levels of Mastery beyond most beings. 

Mermen - giving them all the Water rune as their elemental rune works well enough. Their third rune can be an elemental rune, but possibly only Light (not Fire) or Dark. Their magic is mostly theist, but they can have the Spirit Rune and learn animism. 

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Chaos - you should never need to really run a Chaos creature in detail in most games, but just in case - all of them have the Chaos rune. By itself it is a Flaw only, with no significant benefit in most cases. But you can take a breakout ability describing a specific chaotic feature. Some species of chaotic being get a default breakout ability. Everything else varies by species - eg most feral Broos have only the Beast rune, Wild broos have another Rune that usually connects to their Cult. Scorpion men have the Beast rune (and can use it for charms, often self-transforming, from their Bagog spirit society), and other Rune(s) from their past life. And so on. Ogres are created like humans, but add the Chaos rune, and they can use it to Augment (but usually not have a Chaotic feature breakout unless they get it from one of their cults). It is also a Flaw that they must resist to avoid the urge for cannibalism and violence. 

Windchildren - have the Air rune, and can use it to directly cast magic including air charms or using it as an Affinity, plus they can also use it for flight ability. 

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3 hours ago, davecake said:

I like the idea of there being a rune for each caste, but I've never seen a list that really works for me - some are obvious (Iron =Death, Rock=Earth) 

Rock could easily get Stasis rather than Earth, leaving that for the copper caste so we get parallelity with the rune metal canon. Sky gets a bit problematic with its four expressions in Mostali castes - tin (the old sky dome), brass (from Lodril), silver (stars), and gold (the sun).

3 hours ago, davecake said:

They probably also have the Earth rune, but it mostly applies to their physical nature (eg their robust constitution, their earthsense), and their temperament, not their magic.

The earth connection of the Mostali is thoroughly different from that of Gata's daughters and granddaughters (including Aldrya). There is some overlap with Asrelia as guardian of the wealth of the deep when it comes to gems or similar stuff.

3 hours ago, davecake said:

Mermen - giving them all the Water rune as their elemental rune works well enough. Their third rune can be an elemental rune, but possibly only Light (not Fire) or Dark. Their magic is mostly theist, but they can have the Spirit Rune and learn animism. 

Most mermen, including non-Triolini ones, are saddled with the air rune - only Gnydron and the ancestral Niiads are fully aquatic. It is fairly ironic that species like the Waertagi or the uz have fully aquatic subspecies while the children of the seas don't. (The air rune might be used as a disadvantage for merfolk in most underwater situations...)

That said, I don't want to suggest that each merfolk character would be required to take an air rune, not any more than every humanoid (humans, elder races except dragonewts) would have to take the man rune.

Tieing the magic of the orthodox cults of the Elder Races to their significant rune makes sense as a cult device. Assigning the Earth rune to both dwarves and elves as mandatory would feel wrong.

Given that Aldryami are the champions of Growth, Fertility might be another option besides Earth and Plant. Even more so for dryads, of course, unless you argue that the fertility rune is to nymphs what the man rune is to humans and humanoids.

What about beastfolk? Centaurs would be defined by fire, beast and man, leaving no rune for individuality, which they surely exhibit, so one cannot ask for all three.

Minotaurs would have storm, beast and man, with a side order of Eternal Battle (possibly replacing Man - minotaurs aren't that bright). Manticores might make do without the man rune, and might have some darkness ties from their scorpion tails. Satyrs might get Fertility rather than an elemental rune. Swanmays and foxwomen I don't know.

Then there are the ducks, but it's extremely unlikely anyone would want to play one of those, right? Never happens.

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6 hours ago, davecake said:

They probably also have the Earth rune, but it mostly applies to their physical nature (eg their robust constitution, their earthsense), and their temperament, not their magic.

I'm not convinced that the Mostali have any inherent direct connection to the Earth rune.  I'd generally argue that the presence/use of an element is specifically associated with tasks in the World Machine, and that it can be across caste.  If you have the Earth rune, then you are assigned to maintenance of the Cube.  If you have the Fire/Sky rune, you are assigned to maintenance of the Sky Dome. If you have the Law rune, then you are assigned to the reconstruction of the Spike, etc.

7 hours ago, davecake said:

Their Elemental rune is usually Earth, but may be something else more rarely - instead of Fire they may have Light, and Water or Storm would be associated with unusual plants.

The White Elves as I recall were plants associated with Fire/Light.  The Black Elves have a clear Darkness connection, and the Blue Elves of Murthdrya have a Water association. 

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Assigning the Earth rune to both dwarves and elves as mandatory would feel wrong.

Agree. 

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

What about beastfolk? Centaurs would be defined by fire, beast and man, leaving no rune for individuality, which they surely exhibit, so one cannot ask for all three.

Given that humans do not need to include the Man rune as one of their 3 runes in HQG, I don't think it would/should be required for the beastfolk to include the Beast/Man runes in theirs.  What you could do is say that the 3rd rune is typically one or the other to emphasize whether that particular character is stronger or leans toward their beast nature or their man nature.

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Given that humans do not need to include the Man rune as one of their 3 runes in HQG, I don't think it would/should be required for the beastfolk to include the Beast/Man runes in theirs.  What you could do is say that the 3rd rune is typically one or the other to emphasize whether that particular character is stronger or leans toward their beast nature or their man nature.

Having a form rune in any character normally means that you can change from your normal form into that.

Many Praxians have the beast rune, it allows them to become their beast. Hsunchen will have beast for the same reason. I've even had a player with a plant rune that can do cool plant magic and also become a plant. It would be unusual to have your form rune as one of the three dominant runes. 

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I don't think elves all have the Earth at all or that it's mandatory. It's just the most common elemental Rune for them, like Storm is for Orlanthi men, only more so. There are a lot of elven Earth cults, and the only even slightly common cult of any other element is Light. It might be a majority of elves that have it, but there is plenty of room for the minority (who might include any PCs). It's the only elemental connection for Aldrya, but also the most likely elemental connection for practically every other cult among the elves but Yelmalio. I don't recall ever hearing about a land Aldryami Water god or Air god. Though revering the rain or the rivers makes as much sense as the Sun, if they exist among the elves they are a tiny minority.

Its also possible that not all elves have the Plant Rune as well - but not having the Plant Rune is what makes you Rootless. Which makes you a bit socially broken by elf standards, but it's again a small minority.

Of course, the elves also have individual temperament. The Life Rune is the most common (again, the Power Rune connection for the Aldrya cult, which 95% of elves or more are part of), but there are killer elves (Babeester Gor worshipping), particularly truthful or deceptive elves, particularly communicative elves, etc. It's certainly possible that nearly the full range of Runic expression can be found in elf society - just very far from equally distributed, with a lot of runes found only in the Rootless and Renegade fringe, and the majority of Elves perfectly happy with Plant-Earth-<something else but probably Life>

 

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I think the Water Rune is mandatory for merfolk in part because we know of no gods they worship without it. But there are gods with other elemental connections (eg Darkness for Wachaza). The Air connection is a tiny part of the self for most mermen, not something they connect to in personality or magic. 

Beast folk I would all give the Beast Rune, but others may change. The Beast Rune I think is also used for their animist traditions. For a Minotaur the Beast Rune would also be used for their berserk rage, not all of them have Eternal Battle or Disorder just because of that one racial feature. Certainly I think centaurs can vary in elemental connection. 

Not sure if Satyrs have a range of Power runes that they can express through their magic songs, or if it's an animist effect and an individual Satyr can have multiple known songs, or something else. 

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