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How Normal are Runelords


Adaras

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Hi everyone ūüėĄ

I am trying to set up a clan and I am trying to figure out some general things.

One thing I came over is the Runelords, how "normal" are these badboys? 

The King of an Orlanthi Tribe is a Runelord? Is the Chieftain of a Clan also a Runelord?  

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1 hour ago, Adaras said:

Hi everyone ūüėĄ

I am trying to set up a clan and I am trying to figure out some general things.

One thing I came over is the Runelords, how "normal" are these badboys? 

The King of an Orlanthi Tribe is a Runelord? Is the Chieftain of a Clan also a Runelord?  

They might be. I think every clan will have a few rune lords, in those cults that have them. Not all do. Chalana Arroy, Ernalda, Issaries, none of these have rune lords.

A tribal king is also a priest of Orlanth Rex, and a clan chief is the local chief priest of Orlanth (p301), the priesthood goes with the job, so they are all rune levels by definition.

This does raise the question of whether an Issaries priest or an Odayla rune lord can become clan chief, as they would then be a rune level of two different cults. I think it can happen, and their other cult duties would have to take a back seat for a while.

Edited by PhilHibbs
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My old rule of thumb at population level (adventuring parties and YG WV) is that maybe 1% of the adult population are Rune level (in order of increasing rarity: God Talkers, Rune Priests and Rune Lords).

So a typical Sartarite clan of 1,000 people (500 adults) might have maybe five Rune level members, and likely only one or two Rune Lords max. Obviously they'll have at least a God Talker each for Orlanth and Ernalda, leaving three Rune levels over. Probably each of them maintains a shrine for one of the clan's unique specialisms within the tribe.

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24 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

that maybe 1% of the adult population are Rune level (in order of increasing rarity: God Talkers, Rune Priests and Rune Lords).

Nick's rule of thumb is pretty much what is used a guideline for MD HQG products - 50% of a given clan are adults and 1% are rune levels, including where appropriate, shaman and sorcerers.

4 hours ago, Adaras said:

The King of an Orlanthi Tribe is a Runelord? Is the Chieftain of a Clan also a Runelord? 

The answer is likely, however it will depend on what cults are important to the clan. Nick's breakdown is spot on.

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34 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

My old rule of thumb at population level (adventuring parties and YG WV) is that maybe 1% of the adult population are Rune level (in order of increasing rarity: God Talkers, Rune Priests and Rune Lords).

To be exact, the Colymar tribe (from RQ Gamemaster Adventures) has 1.89% of the adult population at Rune levels, and the Red Cow clan (from The Coming Storm, for HQG) has 1.57% of the adult population at Devotee levels which, I believe, maps pretty much to Rune level in RQG. So I've been going between these numbers for most of my clans and tribes, depending on my mood and on how "wealthy and powerful" I feel that clan or tribe should be (down to 1.4% or less for really poor clans).

The Ernaldori clan, for instance, which is pretty big and wealthy, has by that count up to 15 Rune level people (let's say 7 God Talkers, 5 Rune Priests, 3 Rune Lords). But it gets also tricky because a lot of these people are so high in the cult hierarchy that it's likely they operate at the tribal level. So it's easier for me to think about the Colymar tribe as a whole having 100 Rune level people (RQ GMA p12), and then distributing those among the shrines, temples, and cities of the tribe. If needed, I can figure out what clan they're from originally (often: just the clan next door to where they're posted, but not always, such as for a city), but that's generally more for background flavour than anything else.... it's a bit like, say, a US federal agent investigating cases across states having a backstory of growing up in rural Kentucky or whatever. It informs how to roleplay that agent, and maybe what personal skills they have, but it has not much incidence on the fact that they're tracking a drug dealers between Portland and Seattle.

4 hours ago, Adaras said:

One thing I came over is the Runelords, how "normal" are these badboys? 

If you mean "normal" as in "how common they are", then they're pretty rare and Quite A Big Deal. If you mean "normal" as in "how to they behave", then, on account of there being only a couple of them in a clan, that should give you all the motivation you need to make them memorable NPCs with strong personalities ūüôā¬† (although I have to admit I'm falling short of that yet in my games).

4 hours ago, Adaras said:

The King of an Orlanthi Tribe is a Runelord? Is the Chieftain of a Clan also a Runelord?

There's a difference between Rune Lord and Rune Priest. The tribal king is Rune Priest for the Orlanth Rex cult in that tribe, and it's likely that they're also Rune Lord for some Orlanth cult (Adventurous, Thunderous, Vinga, etc). But IIRC there's no requirement of the sort to become clan chieftain or tribal king -- you only need to belong to a cult associated with Orlanth so that you can join the Rex cult upon taking a leadership office. So unless I forgot or missed something, you can have chieftains that are from any other Lightbringer cult, Ernalda, or even Elmal (which maybe the case for the Runegate City Rex or one of the nearby chieftains). Societal bias might make it tricky however to get the support of the community when it's expected that an Orlanth-worshipping person sits on the throne.

 

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I figure there should be quite a few Rune Priests per Rune Lord.   The 18 CHA requirement alone is extremely rough, especially for those people with a low value to start.  The skills are also a very serious hurdle, and involve potentially a LOT of fighting -- and therefore chances of dying. 

Also, unlike Rune Priests, I can see them being a lot more free to roam.  So even if a Rune Lord does rise up in your location, they might feel religiously compelled to quest, join a hero band, fight the Lunars, that sort of thing, so seem more likely not to be necessarily be at home base all the time.  I expect a Priest to be at the temple for Holy days, so a chunk of them are going to be present locally (if you have a temple/shrine) all the time to hold the ceremonies. 

So in this edition of Runequest, I have made about 5 Priests per Lord my rule of thumb. 

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On 6/23/2021 at 10:03 PM, Adaras said:

Hi everyone ūüėĄ

I am trying to set up a clan and I am trying to figure out some general things.

One thing I came over is the Runelords, how "normal" are these badboys? 

The King of an Orlanthi Tribe is a Runelord? Is the Chieftain of a Clan also a Runelord?  

Runelords are not normal.  Assume 1 per about 200 people as a rule of thumb.  Priests are about 1 per 100.  As to your Chief, there is a good chance they might be a Runelord, and many will be, especially in a time of trouble, but for Orlanthi, a chief really only has to be an initiate of Orlanth Rex, and they will get that gratis if they are elected Chief.

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5 hours ago, Darius West said:

Runelords are not normal.  Assume 1 per about 200 people as a rule of thumb.  Priests are about 1 per 100.  As to your Chief, there is a good chance they might be a Runelord, and many will be, especially in a time of trouble, but for Orlanthi, a chief really only has to be an initiate of Orlanth Rex, and they will get that gratis if they are elected Chief.

I disagree with your numbers. Especially Runelords. Although it will vary with the cult and location. Specifically martial cults will have more, and so would areas of constant conflict. Priests should be fairly, but those defenders of the faith takes a very special kind of person rarely seen in the world (although, with the Hero Wars approaching, I can see those numbers increasing). 

I can imagine people tripping over themselves (literally) in order to even see a Rune Lord up close! Having a Rune Lord come to visit should be seen as a huge deal.

(They honour and respect the priest, but are too scared of being called out for doing something wrong to get too close :p)

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11 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Specifically martial cults will have more, and so would areas of constant conflict.

Keep in mind that in martial cults, the Rune Lords usually are the priests.  So the numbers come together in those cases (e.g. Humakt, Yanafal Tarnils).

11 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

I can imagine people tripping over themselves (literally) in order to even see a Rune Lord up close! Having a Rune Lord come to visit should be seen as a huge deal.

Definitely!

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On 6/27/2021 at 1:14 PM, Shiningbrow said:

I disagree with your numbers. Especially Runelords. Although it will vary with the cult and location. Specifically martial cults will have more, and so would areas of constant conflict.

Simply put, most cults can't maintain more than a couple of Rune Lords economically per temple as RLs are entitled to a good chunk of 200 hides of land for their ongoing support, that temples often simply don't have available.  Also, there are generally very few people who qualify for the role, due to the skill requirements being pretty high.  To find someone who as  mastered 5 distinct skills is no small thing, and there is no guarantee that they will have mastered the right 5 skills to become a RL of their cult, even having done so.  Priests by comparison have similar economic requirements, but not the skill requirements, and are in many ways more indispensable than RLs, as they meet the actual community requirement of providing ritual leadership, and don't have the death rate of RLs as they don't spend most of their lives scurrying off to die in holes while chasing nasty things.  RLs are always at the forefront of a battle, and their iron will always mark them as the most high value target, and like Balastor, they eventually have a "trollkin hit them in the knee with a spear".  Now during the Hero Wars, there is likely to be a concerted effort to create more RLs on both sides of the conflict, and yes, the ongoing century long war will see a good many RLs take the field, with more being ready to pick up their mantle when they die, but that isn't the case in 1625 when RQG is presently set.

Edited by Darius West
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I think a distinction should be drawn between God-Talkers on one side (as they mostly support themselves and it‚Äôs not a drain on the clan if you allow people who can support it to get the rank), and ‚ÄĚfull‚ÄĚ Rune-levels like Priests and Rune-lords who have to be supported from the scarce resources available for specialists. If we go with the common system of temples to Orlanth, Ernalda and some third cult, you will need a minimum of three full Rune-levels, possibly up to the double, and with some (a handful?) God-talkers¬†thrown in for good measure (among both thanes and well-off Free men and women). Being a God-talker isn‚Äôt a massive deal in the RQG rules, after all (the way it was in RQ3).

Edited by Akh√īrahil
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On 6/29/2021 at 4:58 AM, Darius West said:

Simply put, most cults can't maintain more than a couple of Rune Lords economically per temple as RLs

I was thinking the other way with your numbers... Less than 1 RL per 200... Maybe per 500.

 

And I doubt that every temple would even have Its own RL.

On 6/29/2021 at 4:58 AM, Darius West said:

and are in many ways more indispensable than RLs, as they meet the actual community requirement of providing ritual leadership

Perhaps I'm misreading your intent, but if a priest dies, there's usually a few God Talkers ready to take their place. 

I imagine that for most cults, priesthood is earned, and only limited places available. But temples would probably take as many RLs as they couple get their hands on (as you pointed out - quite difficult to get those skills up... Without dying, or copping a spear in the knee)!)

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7 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

I was thinking the other way with your numbers... Less than 1 RL per 200... Maybe per 500.

Most clans have about 1000 members, about 20 of whom are full time military professionals (weaponthanes) who act as guards and perform missions for the clan.  I wouldn't suggest that all weaponthanes are RLs, but the best of them will be.  I think about 5 RLs per clan is a good number, given that they will collectively have about 1000 hides of land between them at cult expense.  A weaponthane is pretty much guaranteed to be someone with a 90%+ mastery in at least 1 weapon the clan favors, but some might get the position through an act of great bravery that sets them apart.

I would agree that less Peace tribes may have fewer RLs (crudely half, perhaps 1 per 400, and closer to your 500) and War tribes might have more (crudely double, perhaps 1 per 100).

I suppose much depends on patronage however.  It might be that the Chief or the Ring decides that they need more RLs and weaponthanes, and sets aside resources like land, cash and iron to insure that there are positions to fill.  Many RLs will become part of the Clan Ring, filling the War Seat, or even the Chief Seat.

8 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Perhaps I'm misreading your intent, but if a priest dies, there's usually a few God Talkers ready to take their place. 

My intent was that Priests are not front-line fighters like RLs.  They are educators, and provide magical services to the clan, rather than ploughing into battle. RL turnover should be somewhat high.  A God-Talker is obviously less expert, and a substitute.

8 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

I imagine that for most cults, priesthood is earned, and only limited places available. But temples would probably take as many RLs as they couple get their hands on (as you pointed out - quite difficult to get those skills up... Without dying, or copping a spear in the knee)!)

We are completely on the same page here.

 

As an aside, I once had a friend who played a Yelmalion who was one skill check away from mastering his Comp Bow, which was sitting at 85%, and it took him 2 years IRL, playing fortnightly to make the up roll.  You can't guarantee the progression of a promising candidate to RL. 2 of his non-cult skills hit mastery before Comp Bow.  I point this out as it is a lesson that has stuck with me about RLs. That being said, those who get there are on a fast track to Herodom or dying in the next couple of years. Divine Intervention can only go so far. when you keep wandering into trouble on purpose.  It is notable that when a character hits RL, their initiate buddies tend to fall into an orbit around them.

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I think the difference in RQ Glorantha, is that a character who is in this position is going to say "I'm going to head off and do Yelmalio's Golden Bow heroquest" which rewards the quester with improved skill in the bow and even a mean GM is going to let them do that after 6 months, rather than force them to make that roll (which would probably be 4% anyway). I think the Lunars are almost certainly pretty good at fast-tracking through HeroQuests promising candidates to Rune Lord and Rune Priest and I'm sure Argrath learns to do it as well.

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'How normal are Rune Lords?' you ask?

As I said over in the splendid Your Dumbest Theory thread in the Glorantha Forum:

Quote

Jiminy Cricket! Are allied spirits a divine gift or a soul-crushing existential burden?

No wonder Rune Lords come across as¬†living embodiments of their gods ‚Äď "blessed" with a permanent mind link connection, their allied spirits are forever a palpable inside voice in their heads, always reminding, scolding, and tut-tutting.¬†And ever-ready to rat on them to the Spirits of Reprisal if they don't toe the line.

It's also no wonder shadow cats are Wind Lords' preferred allied spirit host; after all, they sleep 18 hours a day...

 

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6 hours ago, Darius West said:

As an aside, I once had a friend who played a Yelmalion who was one skill check away from mastering his Comp Bow, which was sitting at 85%, and it took him 2 years IRL, playing fortnightly to make the up roll.

My nearly a Rune Lord has been sitting at 85% Devotion for over a year real time.  In RQG, the weapon skills shouldn't be a huge problem, since most PCs have a substantial Manipulation Bonus to help the increase rolls.  But Passions or Runes have no bonuses.  And, if you go by the strict rules, only rolling at the end of season and then rolling a d6 for how much you go up, the laws of probability say it should take a long time.  Our group long ago changed from +d6% to +5%, and it still should take years at normal progression.

That said, as @Martin Dicksuggested, I am sure that most groups and GMs use "fast-tracking" or essentially "cheat" like Argrath and the Lunars.  Which is absolutely fine.  If you look at Vasana's starting numbers, there's absolutely no way she made Rune Lord as quickly as she did without some GM fiat.

So far, I'm actually kindof enjoying the waiting.  At this point, our campaign just clicked over into 1627, and I'd actually prefer to wait a couple more Seasons to become Wind Lord so that Argrath has arrived in Sartar and can do the honors.

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18 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

So far, I'm actually kindof enjoying the waiting.  At this point, our campaign just clicked over into 1627, and I'd actually prefer to wait a couple more Seasons to become Wind Lord so that Argrath has arrived in Sartar and can do the honors.

IMO¬†that is the better approach.¬† Besides, less is expected of initiates.¬† RL?¬† All responsibility, no income.ūüėČ

Edited by Darius West
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On 7/1/2021 at 8:28 PM, Darius West said:

¬†RL?¬† All responsibility, no income.ūüėČ

ūüėč

 

On 6/30/2021 at 7:24 PM, Darius West said:

about 20 of whom are full time military professionals (weaponthanes) who act as guards and perform missions for the clan.  I wouldn't suggest that all weaponthanes are RLs, but the best of them will be.  I think about 5 RLs per clan is a good number,

So, you're suggesting that 1/4 of weaponthanes are at RL level??? Yeah, I disagree. I see only about 2-3 of them having achieved - and survived for long - that level. Most are relatively young , with a couple of older (perhaps wiser) members, with a couple of them being the RL leaders.

On 6/30/2021 at 7:24 PM, Darius West said:

As an aside, I once had a friend who played a Yelmalion who was one skill check away from mastering his Comp Bow, which was sitting at 85%, and it took him 2 years IRL, playing fortnightly to make the up roll. 

Were his stats at max? 

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Rune Lords are certainly not 'common'.

Remember that a Rune Lord, while their deity's temporal [as opposed to spiritual] representative, is still first and foremost a religious figure. Some cults can combine temporal responsibilities with religious devotions [Orlanth Rex, for one example], but very few Rune Lords actually work putting food on the table or value [coin, cows, trade goods, whatever] in the clan treasury. And those functions are just as absolutely necessary to the well being of the clan as the work any Wind Lord or Green Mother does.

If you pick up a copy of the RQG Gamemasters Pack, the base tribe of the Colymar is fully described, with most Rune levels [Lords and Priests] fully stat'ed up. HOWEVER, be advised that a lot of these Rune levels are 'old campaigners' who've been present for some seriously epic stuff [surviving fights with the Crimson Bat, multiple trips into Snake Pipe Hollow, etc.]. Your average tribal royal may not have the epic level history of Queen Leika or Lady Nameless of Humakt.

A good description of a more 'average' clan and tribe can be found in HQ's The Coming Storm. These NPC's are your more work-a-day Orlanthi, concerned primarily with clan feuds, dealing with the Lunars, and so forth, rather than personally being present at every single battle in the character generation section.

As I imagine the average Orlanthi clan, the clan chief is at minimum a senior initiate... someone with a real commitment to their deity but has real Earthly responsibilities to attend to. They'll be supported by a Clan Ring, many of whom will be Rune levels [especially in the more specialized faiths... Lankor Mhy, Chalanna Arroy, etc.]. Most clans will have multiple Earth priestesses [either Ernalda or Uralda, depending on how the clan makes its living], as these are vital to the health of the clan. An Orlanth Rune level will be present on the Ring, be that the clan chief or someone else. There is a good chance that Orlanthi Rune level will be Orlanth Thunderous if they're not the clan chief.

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On 6/30/2021 at 4:24 AM, Darius West said:

As an aside, I once had a friend who played a Yelmalion who was one skill check away from mastering his Comp Bow, which was sitting at 85%, and it took him 2 years IRL, playing fortnightly to make the up roll.  You can't guarantee the progression of a promising candidate to RL. 2 of his non-cult skills hit mastery before Comp Bow.  I point this out as it is a lesson that has stuck with me about RLs. That being said, those who get there are on a fast track to Herodom or dying in the next couple of years. Divine Intervention can only go so far. when you keep wandering into trouble on purpose.  It is notable that when a character hits RL, their initiate buddies tend to fall into an orbit around them.

My all-time favorite PC was a Rhino Rider by name of Grettir Widewander. He exceeded every single requirement to become a Wind Lord of Orlanth... except Sword Attack. I must have burned through three character sheets erasing skill checks on his Broadsword Attack. So I changed to Greatsword. Same thing. By the time the campaign was finished, everybody else was a Rune level in their cult, several were Rune Lord/Priests, and here I was... a lowly initiate with 85% Sword Attack in Shortsword, Broadsword, and Greatsword!

My great ambition to play another iteration of Grettir again and finally make it. ūüėĀ

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3 minutes ago, svensson said:

My all-time favorite PC was a Rhino Rider by name of Grettir Widewander. He exceeded every single requirement to become a Wind Lord of Orlanth... except Sword Attack. I must have burned through three character sheets erasing skill checks on his Broadsword Attack. So I changed to Greatsword. Same thing. By the time the campaign was finished, everybody else was a Rune level in their cult, several were Rune Lord/Priests, and here I was... a lowly initiate with 85% Sword Attack in Shortsword, Broadsword, and Greatsword!

My great ambition to play another iteration of Grettir again and finally make it. ūüėĀ

I don't understand why....

The base chance to increase is 15% (100-current (85)), PLUS the category modifier (which I'd expect to be around 15% as well, giving about 30% to go up).

 

[Quote]"To make an experience roll, a player rolls D100 for each ability check and then adds the appropriate skills category modifier for that ability to the roll" [/quote] p415.

 

I know this is for the current version, but I thought it was also in the earlier ones as well.

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1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

I don't understand why....

The base chance to increase is 15% (100-current (85)), PLUS the category modifier (which I'd expect to be around 15% as well, giving about 30% to go up).

 

[Quote]"To make an experience roll, a player rolls D100 for each ability check and then adds the appropriate skills category modifier for that ability to the roll" [/quote] p415.

 

I know this is for the current version, but I thought it was also in the earlier ones as well.

Because every single time I tried to roll to increase it, I rolled abysmally. Totally not kidding. My dice. Borrowed dice. New dice. Didn't matter. I had 115% Ride Rhino, 100+ Shield Parry, 100+ in Jump, and 5 ENC in iron 'on account' at the temple for when I made it. Never did.

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RQ experience occasionally does very weird things, my Issaries merchant who was born in Pavis, had 15% swim when starting, as opposed to everyone else who started with 10%, so when we ran into a situation where someone had to swim, he was it. After finally rolling under 15%, while being dragged out of the water on a rope before drowning several times, he then rolled a 6% increase. Exactly 11 short swims later, he had a Swim of 75% and was averaging 5 on his experience roll. It did come in useful when we ended up in a competition with a Praxian clan at an oasis and I challenged them to a swimming competition!

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10% (counting God-Talkers) sounds about right. I ended up with 9 for my 800 strong Hiording clan. Every Sartar clan will have at least one Orlanth and Ernalda, and most every clan has a shaman, so that is 3 right there. It is probably the rare clan that doesn't have an Issaries. After that it will depend on the terrain, surroundings, and sheer luck. If there is a holy place for a cult in the clan territory, then probably 2 there. If a holy place in an adjacent clan then there is likely one from there, unless the other clan is a rival. If the river is a big factor for the clan, perhaps an Engizi. If they have good lands then perhaps a Barntar/Uralda/Eiritha. Etc.

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