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How to deal with this much rune magic ?


Jon Hunter

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4 minutes ago, Glorion said:

The confusion about initiation vs. initiates seems to be very common here. Yes, "everybody" in Sartar is "initiated into" the religion of Orlanth and Ernalda--as lay members. Which does mean Universal Health Care, as the 10% of the population who actually are *initiates* into one of the cults in the pantheon all have at least one rune point, though rarely more, so there's always somebody in your village who can cast Heal Wound on you, even if there isn't an Ernalda priestess is around. And if you get sick, the priestess or god talker or if you are real lucky the Chalana Arroy initiate or even god talker comes 'round, since you are in the same pantheon as she is. That's a hell of a lot better than "Medicare for All"! And even in Sartar, getting wounded is something that happens occasionally not regularly, unless you are an adventurer, so no you don't need to put 10% of your income and time into cult obligations. Farmers who don't do that are generally more prosperous than those who do, and therefore lead happier lives.

I would certainly agree that there is confusion, but I don't believe it's on my part!

  1. Sartar has always, in publications across the decades been noteworthy for the high number of initiates.
  2. And this is reflected in all publications so far - virtually everyone is an initiate, with Rune points and all. Like I have argued repeatedly today, when there's a statblock for "typical clan militia", "typical Sun Dome militia", and so on, and so on, they're all but universally initiates.

Anyone arguing that only 10% of Sartarites are initiates would both commit a giant retcon and have to explain how it's not even remotely reflected in the actual publications

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5 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

The Rattling Wind, at least, maintains the pattern. The villagers described (fairly regular apart from a particular event in the past) have 3-5 Rune Points in different cults. Teens have 1-2 Rune Points. Another village leader has 3 Rune Points, and an Ernalda priestess has 8. A Rune-Lord has 10.  

This is all on the expected curve.

The Rattling Wind had all sorts of blunders in it, like getting the Lunar phases backward and the screwed up map. Why do most scenarios have all the NPC's as initiates? It's because they are written by people with that widespread notion which I suppose in theory should be knocked down that everyone in sight is an initiate. But why bother? All those NPC villagers and whatnot are irrelevant, giving them runespells is just flavor text, making reading the scenarios more interesting.

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Yes, it's been noted that Orlanthi have minor holy day on Windsday.  However, that doesn't mean that there's enough of a ritual to renew your Rune points. 

Yes, that sounds right. In theory, yes you can renew rune points on a minor holy day. But only if it turns into a daylong full village celebration, which doesn't happen very often, as otherwise the workaday work of the village would never get done.

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25 minutes ago, Glorion said:

The Rattling Wind had all sorts of blunders in it, like getting the Lunar phases backward and the screwed up map. Why do most scenarios have all the NPC's as initiates? It's because they are written by people with that widespread notion which I suppose in theory should be knocked down that everyone in sight is an initiate. But why bother? All those NPC villagers and whatnot are irrelevant, giving them runespells is just flavor text, making reading the scenarios more interesting.

These have passed editing, so at the very least, Chaosium is okay with them. And it's not just that module - the Adventures book is the same, The Smoking Ruins is the same. Nothing is different. At some point, what you actually publish is what the world is like.

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Being an initiate makes a ton more sense to me than a staying a lay member.   Real life bronze age did not have a terribly high percentage of atheists, and in a magic-dense world like Glorantha it's just beyond obvious to have a very high number of people initiated and enjoying the benefits.     You have a farming dispute with your neighbor, Carl.  Carl follows Orlanth, and has 3 points of Rune magic.   You are a lay member.  A dispute over a girl, or perhaps (gasp!) a cow comes to blows.  If Carl wants to win bad enough, he can call to Orlanth for 3 points of Shield, or Lightning, or perhaps a Thunderbolt.  Or maybe fly away or Heal his Wound, whatever he knows.  This is a decisive advantage over you, if you are even in other respects.  Time to get to you next cult ceremony, if you don't want to be a second class citizen and be Carl's bi@$ forever.  

What does not make sense is a ton of initiates of "adventuring" deities.   I am talking Humakt and Storm Bull here.  These are super specialized and over represented among PCs compared to the general population.  Most people should be Barntar or Yinkin, or Odalya if male, Ernalda, Eiritha or others, if female.  Lots of choices, honestly, and even ancestor worship or spirit worship makes sense.   Combat oriented initiates should be rarer in most societies than with PC groups, with THAT being the thing that really sets apart the Sartar Orlanthi.  They should have a lot of generic male farmers who follow Orlanth, and with them comes an usually high amount of (collective) Rune magic for fighting.  Because it is always an option.   

A more sensible or ordered society might encourage, or even enforce, the peasant types to follow non-dangerous religions, and restrict the following of war gods to a class of professional soldiers or even nobles.   This is very different than the "all hands on deck" approach of the Sartarites, but even they need a broad mix of deities, even among combat age males.  Issaries, Lhankhor Mhy, Argan Agar.  These are not "combat" gods, but should have a measurable, although small, percent of the population.  A civilized culture I would expect to have a broader mix of deities followed, again with probably a class or caste bias I would not expect from the Sartarites.  But I would still expect just about everyone to be an initiate of some religion, or have a comparable alternative like ancestor worship.  

The disadvantages of not belonging are dire.  Even if you are well protected from the many Gloranthan monsters and horrors, everyday life is just so much easier with a little bit of magic.   Fix up your crops, heal your kids, cure grandma of her pneumonia.   

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22 minutes ago, Dissolv said:

Being an initiate makes a ton more sense to me than a staying a lay member.   Real life bronze age did not have a terribly high percentage of atheists, and in a magic-dense world like Glorantha it's just beyond obvious to have a very high number of people initiated and enjoying the benefits.     You have a farming dispute with your neighbor, Carl.  Carl follows Orlanth, and has 3 points of Rune magic.   You are a lay member.  A dispute over a girl, or perhaps (gasp!) a cow comes to blows.  If Carl wants to win bad enough, he can call to Orlanth for 3 points of Shield, or Lightning, or perhaps a Thunderbolt.  Or maybe fly away or Heal his Wound, whatever he knows.  This is a decisive advantage over you, if you are even in other respects.  Time to get to you next cult ceremony, if you don't want to be a second class citizen and be Carl's bi@$ forever.  

What does not make sense is a ton of initiates of "adventuring" deities.   I am talking Humakt and Storm Bull here.  These are super specialized and over represented among PCs compared to the general population.  Most people should be Barntar or Yinkin, or Odalya if male, Ernalda, Eiritha or others, if female.  Lots of choices, honestly, and even ancestor worship or spirit worship makes sense.   Combat oriented initiates should be rarer in most societies than with PC groups, with THAT being the thing that really sets apart the Sartar Orlanthi.  They should have a lot of generic male farmers who follow Orlanth, and with them comes an usually high amount of (collective) Rune magic for fighting.  Because it is always an option.   

A more sensible or ordered society might encourage, or even enforce, the peasant types to follow non-dangerous religions, and restrict the following of war gods to a class of professional soldiers or even nobles.   This is very different than the "all hands on deck" approach of the Sartarites, but even they need a broad mix of deities, even among combat age males.  Issaries, Lhankhor Mhy, Argan Agar.  These are not "combat" gods, but should have a measurable, although small, percent of the population.  A civilized culture I would expect to have a broader mix of deities followed, again with probably a class or caste bias I would not expect from the Sartarites.  But I would still expect just about everyone to be an initiate of some religion, or have a comparable alternative like ancestor worship.  

The disadvantages of not belonging are dire.  Even if you are well protected from the many Gloranthan monsters and horrors, everyday life is just so much easier with a little bit of magic.   Fix up your crops, heal your kids, cure grandma of her pneumonia.   

I disagree. Fixing the crops, healing the kids, and curing grandma of her Thunderlung are jobs for the healers, and with healing spells and Bless Crops being so powerful, can perfectly well be left for specialists, who will gladly do it for you for small fees or none as it what they enjoy and they are supported by the whole community. OTOH, Sartar is not Peloria, people are poor and poorly fed, and 10% of your income and, even worse, 10% of your time spent being an initiate is a serious sacrifice which only the truly dedicated will make. As for disputes with your neighbors leading to death and, even worse, death of cows, that is seriously frowned on. It's the other clans that folk are supposed to fight and kill, not their own clan members, and the clan healers come along on raids, and anyone on either side attacking them gets outlawed or worse. The weregild you have to pay for killing a fellow clan member would turn you into a stickpicker. 

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1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

These have passed editing, so at the very least, Chaosium is okay with them. And it's not just that module - the Adventures book is the same, The Smoking Ruins is the same. Nothing is different. At some point, what you actually publish is what the world is like.

It's true Chaosium is OK with them, as they don't matter. There's something worse in Smoking Ruins than that, which I am currently GM'ing. It gets the Ernalda High Holy Day totally wrong, which really ought to change the whole plot a bit. Yeah, all those irrelevant NPC's in the Adventures Book really should be lay members instead of initiates, but that's the way it got wrote out of old habit. *Relevant* NPC's, ones that the PC's have to deal with in any other way than roleplaying, are all among that 10% of the population of Dragon Pass that are initiates. As for the Adventures Book, stripping Apple Lane of most of those initiates would have required a retcon. But probably should have been done anyway, as turning the minor irrelevant characters into lay members would have discouraged players from wasting time trying to recruit them to fight the tuskriders. The most interesting minor NPC in Apple Lane is Thrilla, who I think I will turn into a lay member of Seven Mothers, makes it easier to prevent her from being lynched, which I've had to go to extra efforts to prevent in my campaign. She is quite fond of our PC Storm Bull, who being a typical Storm Bull and her not being chaotic did not realise she was a Lunar till after the wedding Ulerian bachelor party in which he and she played, er, starring roles.

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I would certainly agree that there is confusion, but I don't believe it's on my part!

  1. Sartar has always, in publications across the decades been noteworthy for the high number of initiates.
  2. And this is reflected in all publications so far - virtually everyone is an initiate, with Rune points and all. Like I have argued repeatedly today, when there's a statblock for "typical clan militia", "typical Sun Dome militia", and so on, and so on, they're all but universally initiates.

Anyone arguing that only 10% of Sartarites are initiates would both commit a giant retcon and have to explain how it's not even remotely reflected in the actual publications

The explanation is simple. In RQ2 and RQ3 yup, most Sartarites were initiates. It was only in the '90s that Greg got philosophical and seriously started thinking about what Glorantha was like on a day to day basis. As for Heroquest, it is so different ruleswise from RQ that basing what you consider to be an "initiate" in RQG on anything in Heroquest is a mistake. And besides, it's basically a failed game, which is why RQG exists in the first place. Do we need to do some sort of giant retcon on all the old pre-RQG Runequest stuff we use? Nah, why bother? 90% of the population of Sartar is irrelevant to adventures, so it makes no difference whether they are initiates or lay members. I do think that it would be good for new RQG stuff to stop having everyone in sight being an initiate, if only to focus runs better.

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Just now, Richard S. said:

Glorion, where are you getting the "10%" rule from?

10% is a number I vaguely remember from somewhere or other. Hey, maybe it's 15 or even 20%, whatever. As for the *concept*, as others have mentioned on this thread, it's featured in several somewhat-recent Chaosium publications (I'm old enough to consider 10-20 years ago as "recent."

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1 hour ago, Dissolv said:

Real life bronze age did not have a terribly high percentage of atheists, and in a magic-dense world like Glorantha it's just beyond obvious to have a very high number of people initiated and enjoying the benefits.

Lay members are not atheists. And extrapolating Glorantha from RuneQuest GAME mechanics is the wrong way around. Extrapolate GAME mechanics from the WORLD, not vice versa.

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The idea that people can't put aside one day a week for no work religion only is very very 21st century. 

 

I've seen farmers let hay get rained on because working on the sabbath is a sin. 

Or it geeks refuse to do an upgrade out of hours because Saturday and they were orthodox. 

And in glorantha there is an actual honest to gods and goddesses upside!!!!! 

Of course people will take a day off to worship. God's are real. Lookit I can see Orlanth mum right over there. 

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5 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I think you need to work both ways.

RuneQuest is derived from Glorantha. If you then re-derive Glorantha from RuneQuest, well that's like assuming that Azeroth is pixellated because that's how the Warcraft games rendered it. Or that Sherlock Holmes must have looked like Jeremy Brett.

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2 hours ago, Glorion said:

10% is a number I vaguely remember from somewhere or other. Hey, maybe it's 15 or even 20%, whatever. As for the *concept*, as others have mentioned on this thread, it's featured in several somewhat-recent Chaosium publications (I'm old enough to consider 10-20 years ago as "recent."

I don't recall particular evidence of this. 

With RQG for Orlanthi, p.103-4 "Orlanth is the patron god of the Kingdom of Sartar. Most free males are initiated into the Orlanth cult" and "The most popular cult is that of Ernalda the Earth Queen, wife of Orlanth. Most free women are initiated into the Ernalda cult."

If you prefer to go back to Thunder Rebels, one of the most complete writeups on Orlanthi (and within the 20 year timeframe), p.186 and 218: "All Heortlings, male and female, are communal members of Ernalda... Except for the first two years of adulthood, women initiate into one of the aspects and subcults of Ernalda." and "All Heortlings, male and female, are communal members of Orlanth... Except for the first two years of adulthood, all men initiate into one of the aspects and subcults of Orlanth."

Both speak to the Orlanthi "All" of 85%, not a low level of 10-15%.

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2 hours ago, Glorion said:

I do think that it would be good for new RQG stuff to stop having everyone in sight being an initiate, if only to focus runs better.

I think that does a real dis-service to GM's. Initiates with their associated magics are far more interesting than figures that have minor spirit magic and some weapons skills. I want Foes not Mooks.

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52 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

I think that does a real dis-service to GM's. Initiates with their associated magics are far more interesting than figures that have minor spirit magic and some weapons skills. I want Foes not Mooks.

The foes? Of course they should be initiates. They are among that 10% or a little more part of the population who are initiates, just like the PC's. It's all the background walkons who really aren't part of the story who should not be initiates.

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57 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

I don't recall particular evidence of this. 

With RQG for Orlanthi, p.103-4 "Orlanth is the patron god of the Kingdom of Sartar. Most free males are initiated into the Orlanth cult" and "The most popular cult is that of Ernalda the Earth Queen, wife of Orlanth. Most free women are initiated into the Ernalda cult."

If you prefer to go back to Thunder Rebels, one of the most complete writeups on Orlanthi (and within the 20 year timeframe), p.186 and 218: "All Heortlings, male and female, are communal members of Ernalda... Except for the first two years of adulthood, women initiate into one of the aspects and subcults of Ernalda." and "All Heortlings, male and female, are communal members of Orlanth... Except for the first two years of adulthood, all men initiate into one of the aspects and subcults of Orlanth."

Both speak to the Orlanthi "All" of 85%, not a low level of 10-15%.

"Initiated into" as lay members. And initiation means *in game terms* something so different in HQ from what it is in RQG that whereas Thunder Rebels is very useful for understanding the general world of Orlanthi, on technical stuff like who is an initiate and how many, I don't think any HQ publication is relevant. For that matter, given the extreme deity and aspect profusion in HQ, I am not sure that "initiated into" doesn't translate into lay membership in RQG terms. Maybe the real equivalent of RQG initiate status is HQ being a devotee.

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3 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

@jajagappa In defense of Glorion, I also recall somebody "official" saying that 10% was Canon for RQG.  I think that is a poor decision.  On Earth, I'd argue that more than 10% are "initiates".  Now imagine a world where gods are provably real and provide mighty life saving boons 

Only among Mormons, and not all of them, does anyone tithe 10% of their income these days.

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28 minutes ago, Glorion said:

"Initiated into" as lay members. And initiation means *in game terms* something so different in HQ from what it is in RQG that whereas Thunder Rebels is very useful for understanding the general world of Orlanthi, on technical stuff like who is an initiate and how many, I don't think any HQ publication is relevant. For that matter, given the extreme deity and aspect profusion in HQ, I am not sure that "initiated into" doesn't translate into lay membership in RQG terms. Maybe the real equivalent of RQG initiate status is HQ being a devotee.

You seem to be making a pretty big assumption that "initiation" in this context means lay membership. Iirc, lay membership is the equivalent of what pantheon worship was in HQ1.

Thinking back on it, I'm pretty sure the 10% you keep citing was actually used in reference to Pelorians, who have been said to have a pretty low number of initiates, with makes sense considering their habit of dropping the worship of less effective gods (something you can't do easily if a lot of people are dedicated to them). I do remember hearing that among the Orlanthi there is a very unusually large number of initiates compared to pretty much every other culture.

Sorry to drag you into this @Jeff, but I think we're all operating on assumptions and half-remembered things for this question. Can you give us some sort of estimate as to what proportion of Orlanthi would be initiated as full initiates?

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OK, what does actually need fixing? As Akhorakhil and others have pointed out, Bless Crops, outside of gameplay, is a grossly unbalanced spell. In its current form, yes, every farmwife in Sartar would be crazy not to initiate to Ernalda. It, unlike immediate Heal Wound access, is more than worth a 10% yearly tithe, as simple arithmetic makes clear. Moreover, if every farmwife in Sartar had access to Bless Crops, the prosperity of Sartar would put the heartland provinces of the Lunar Empire to shame, to say nothing of Esrolia. So in theory it should be restricted, maybe only available to god talkers and above, Jeff please note. But whether that desirable change is made or not will have almost no impact on gameplay, because whoever plays a farmer or a herder? They make very bad adventurers indeed. BTW, maybe 10% as initiates is too low for Sartar, since all warriors really do want to be initiates of a wargod, as they really do desperately need Heal Wound. And Shield, and True Sword... Merchants pretty much do need to be Issaries initiates, healers Ernalda or Chalana Arroy, and maybe craftsmen too, depending on what runespells Gustbran and so forth have to offer. And nobles can afford the tithes, in fact can often even afford more than one cult. But the vast majority of the Sartarite population are farmers and cowherds and stickpickers, and normally could not not really afford to be initiates and pay a tithe. Maybe more like 80% than 90% however. 

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34 minutes ago, Glorion said:

"Initiated into" as lay members.

I will continue to read "initiated" as = "initiate", not lay member.  Others can do otherwise, but from a standpoint of writing for RQG this makes the most sense.

36 minutes ago, Glorion said:

I am not sure that "initiated into" doesn't translate into lay membership in RQG terms.

That's what "communal membership" implies. 

37 minutes ago, Glorion said:

Maybe the real equivalent of RQG initiate status is HQ being a devotee.

The devotee status is definitely equal to Rune Lord.

43 minutes ago, Glorion said:

It's all the background walkons who really aren't part of the story who should not be initiates.

If they are in the book, "background" or otherwise, they are meant to be played! Any of them could be friend, foe, or companion, and I'd expect them to be initiates.

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11 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

Anyway my view from a world building perspective the RQG RP rules would be outstanding and completely workable without affecting the longstanding nature of Glorantha if;

  • Initiates regained rune magic twice a year (sacred time , High holy day ) as originally intended
  • Allow initiates access to a number of specific or general spell for each rune point. ( ie buy access to heal wound, divination, extension )

imho this creates a situation

  • Where we don't change the number of initiates in the world to justify the system. 
  • The great aspects of the RP change are kept ( i am a great fan conceptually )
  • Characters power gain arcs are much smoother and longer
  • We get lots of NPC's with interesting magic, but they have to use sparingly and with thought
  • We don't have a further power imbalance towards the large cults with many minor holy days & large temples ( there are already the most with most and powerful spells. )

Those look like entirely reasonable "house rules" to me, which I will likely adopt. The advantage of requiring initiates to buy access to specific common Rune spells is that it will avoid analysis paralysis for new RQ players; they won't have as many options to start with, which means that their introduction to the options can be gentle. And we know it isn't crippling, because RQ2/3 initiates had it even worse.

I'd probably open up all the common spells once you hit Rune level and, if I was in a nice mood, might even allow a former Humakt initiate that had sacrificed for access to Heal Wound to trade it for a Humakt special Rune spell upon becoming a Sword.

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1 minute ago, jajagappa said:

I will continue to read "initiated" as = "initiate", not lay member.  Others can do otherwise, but from a standpoint of writing for RQG this makes the most sense.

That's what "communal membership" implies. 

The devotee status is definitely equal to Rune Lord.

If they are in the book, "background" or otherwise, they are meant to be played! Any of them could be friend, foe, or companion, and I'd expect them to be initiates.

My knowledge of HQ, a game I never cared for, is rusty. If there is some status below devotee and above initiate in HQ, that's a better equivalent to RQG initiate.  As for minor background characters, they are there mostly for roleplaying purposes more than anything else. You don't need stats to talk to somebody or interact with them in most nonlethal fashions. So most of 'em you hardly even need stats for, the minor background NPC's in Rattling Wind and the Apple Lane adventures book being good examples. Just by way of concrete example of what I mean, In Adventures Book Apple Lane, Brightflower, Pramble, Squinch, Kareena and Hendroste as community leaders should be initiates (higher with Kareena), and the Ulerians need to be initiates of Uleria, but I can't think of anyone else offhand there who needs to be an initiate of a deity. And, be it noted, there are definitely more folk living in Apple Lane than are mentioned or you need stats for. Given the barebones nature of Apple Lane when the PC's show up, barely having survived what the Lunars did to it, it would have considerably a higher percentage of initiates than other places, as so many lay members fled, leaving the more committed behind. 

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