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Jon Hunter

A Magical Economy

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Something i have not read before here is a real deep dig into how a world as magical as Glorantha would effect an economic and social model.

So  to start a discussion on it. 

There are three types of magic we should think about;

  • Common - Battle magic as described in the rules and what I assume to be non adventurous equivalents (i've always assumed they exist just aren't relevant to game play ) which will is used by all, quick to replenish and will have a significant boosts on day to day craftsmen productivity, farming yields, livestock health. 
  • Rune - Rune magic, rare powerful magic possessed in some aspect by many but difficult to replenish and reserved for special or serious occasions by most. Used carelessly by only the rich or powerful.
  • Ritual - Community Rituals that both make the world work, but also protect,  and positively boost the fertility, longevity and productivity of a people group. Performed in yearly cycles or in extreme times of need.

These should have the following effects;

  • Increase productivity - Meaning the following things are possible - goods would be relatively cheap, more free time for individuals, abundance of food, better education for most, more inventive and creative societies 
  • Decrease in child mortality - the following are possible - massive population booms, smaller family sizes
  • Increased life expectancy - increased knowledge and wisdom within communities, greater generational conflict, 
  • Increased capabilities - Ability to achieve things that only much later societies would have developed on earth

Also there is the counterpoints that;

  • Magic makes the threats of the world Greater
  • Opponents and foes usually have the same magical abilities
  • Increased growth rates mean societies acquire critical masses where they implode, have a revolution, split, schism, or in other ways self immolate much quicker.

This could manifest itself in these areas;

  • societies will be bigger and support a greater population at a similar time in earths history
  • Building crafts and magical technologies will surpass earths abilities in similar timescales
  • societies will have the ability to be more structured and control orientated
  • rate of growth will be faster
  • rate of decline will be faster
  • chance of cataclysmic event are higher
  • ability recover is greater
  • Goods are cheaper than relative to earth

Nowhere near a finished article but enough maybe to start a  discussion. Any other thoughts?
 

 

 

 

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Not much time for a full response, but one of the ideas we work with is that the magic just raises Glorantha to Earth norms. Without out it everything is worse. However magic can clearly do things we can't do on earth. For example if a great leader dies in a crisis, they can be resurrected in Glorantha, avoiding a power vacuum that could make the crisis worse.

Common and rune (to use your definitions) would only confer a slight advantage over Earth mainly due to the time the effect works. This slight advantage is still an advantage, however. Using the basis we use for "magic" people - 1 in 100. Given a population of 100 initiates is one healer's magic enough to avoid illness and death in glorantha considering their rarity. We actually have percentages for Sartar for cults in to look at numbers.

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2 hours ago, David Scott said:

Common and rune (to use your definitions) would only confer a slight advantage over Earth mainly due to the time the effect works. This slight advantage is still an advantage, however. Using the basis we use for "magic" people - 1 in 100. Given a population of 100 initiates is one healer's magic enough to avoid illness and death in glorantha considering their rarity. We actually have percentages for Sartar for cults in to look at numbers.

I think its the common place healers in Glorantha that make the difference, the buff spells for everyday items such as plowsharp, craft item, etc, will give limited but not insignificant effects. 

Not game changing but an extra 10 -15% of skills roles 3 or more times a day can affect a persons productivity.

However instant spells such as heal 2, repair and ignite go along way to making life so much easier, and do not require an initiate of required cult.

Heal 2 not only stops blood loss, but also would stop infection, resets minor breaks and massively shortens healing times, i think this one spell alone changes the nature of the world.

 

Edited by Jon Hunter
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2 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

I think its the common place healers in Glorantha that make the difference, the buff spells for everyday items such as plowsharp, craft item, etc, will give limited but not insignificant effects. 

Not game changing but an extra 10 -15% of skills roles 3 or more times a day can affect a persons productivity.

However instant spells such as heal 2, repair and ignite go along way to making life so much easier, and do not require an initiate of required cult.

Heal 2 not only stops blood loss, but also would stop infection, resets minor breaks and massively shortens healing times, i think this one spell alone changes the nature of the world.

 

I agree, but remember how expensive these spells are. If we look at the RQ spell list most spells average around 1000-1500 Lunars to learn even at a basic level. Considering how much money the average peasant makes, it's unlikely they'll be running around with access to more than the most minor of spells, and certainly not anything close to our average adventurer's arsenal.

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1 hour ago, Richard S. said:

I agree, but remember how expensive these spells are. If we look at the RQ spell list most spells average around 1000-1500 Lunars to learn even at a basic level. Considering how much money the average peasant makes, it's unlikely they'll be running around with access to more than the most minor of spells, and certainly not anything close to our average adventurer's arsenal.

The values were originally used to calculate training time, and are oriented towards adventurers who, as noted above, are generally wealthier than the average run of civilian.  That doesn't preclude some community-minded individuals from training neighbors in order to improve the general welfare of their villages.  Repair alone is a highly useful and versatile spell for anyone who uses tools in their work.  Of course, a majority of spells won't be available in this way, only those most applicable to everyday life and limited to the knowledge of the trainer.

Nor does an injury generally prevent someone from going to their local healer for aid instead of having to learn a spell, at much more affordable rates.

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4 hours ago, Richard S. said:

I agree, but remember how expensive these spells are. If we look at the RQ spell list most spells average around 1000-1500 Lunars to learn even at a basic level. Considering how much money the average peasant makes, it's unlikely they'll be running around with access to more than the most minor of spells, and certainly not anything close to our average adventurer's arsenal.

On of the reasons im suggesting adding real world bronze age economics on top of Glorantha is that it doesn't work.

Every human NPC i have seen stated for Glorantha has access to magic, here area  few example of stats pulled from supplements of RQ2 and RQ3;

  • Average balazaring hunter: Circa 7 pts of battle magic - circa 6,000 Lunars worth of spells
  • Balazaring Citadel warrior: 8pts battle magic - circa 7,000 Lunars worth of spells
  • Lunar Peltast (Griffin Mountain) : 13 pts battle magic   - circa 10,000 Lunars worth of spells
  • Newtling - 11pts battle magic  -circa 9000L of spells
  • Sun Dome Templar - 12pts of battle magic, circa 10,000 lunars worth of spells
  • Sun Dome Militia - 2pts of battle magic - 2000 L of spells
  • Trollkin 1- 5pts of battle magic - circa 1800 L of spells
  • Standard Praxian Nomads - 4 -6 pts of battle magic, 2000 - 4000L worth of spells
  • Balazaring Baboons - 8 -12pts of battle magic, 6000 - 10,000 L worth of spells
  • Pavis Street Gang - 4 - 11 pts of battle magic, 7000+ L worth of spells
  • Trollkin watch in Pavis - 7pts of battle magic 5000+ L worth of spells


from these published examples I think its safe to say in Glorantha almost everyone has access to magic

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1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

It would, if everyone had access to it. The issue is: how many people have healing magic other than specialists, and, of course, player characters. Personally, I don't take player character adventurers as representative of the entire population....

At that point i think you out of the step with one of the main themes of Glorantha which is the common availability of magic, and its ubiquitous nature.

I've also never seen Glorantha as place where the players are a class of adventures separate and distinct from the general population. they are a subset of that population and they may have the edge, but the cultural tie in is part of the game world. 

Also I cant find any published examples of stats for sentient creatures in Glorantha that don't have access to magic.

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1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

It would, if everyone had access to it. The issue is: how many people have healing magic other than specialists, and, of course, player characters. Personally, I don't take player character adventurers as representative of the entire population....

All it takes is 1 healing-oriented initiate of an Earth Goddess (doesn't even have to be Chalana Arroy) in a village... or a retired soldier with that critical bit of healing that makes for higher-survivability... etc.

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1 hour ago, Jon Hunter said:

At that point i think you out of the step with one of the main themes of Glorantha which is the common availability of magic, and its ubiquitous nature.
...

Also I cant find any published examples of stats for sentient creatures in Glorantha that don't have access to magic.

Something you're missing there...the ubiquitousness of cult membership, which is an access point for most members.  And how many farmers do you think are going to have a great deal of time on their hands in order to learn a bunch of spells?  Even in post-harvest times there are maintenance, caring for animals, going to market with surpluses, etc.

 

1 hour ago, Jon Hunter said:

I've also never seen Glorantha as place where the players are a class of adventures separate and distinct from the general population. they are a subset of that population and they may have the edge, but the cultural tie in is part of the game world. 

Your average villager isn't going on broo hunts or plumbing the depths of abandoned temples.  (Soldiers maybe, grumblingly, and most wealth that they find and can't pilfer passes to their military organization, clan, or tribe.)

 

Once again, you're viewing the 'prices' listed as being for a product.  But most receive training in return for service to the cult or as a tactical necessity in order to serve fellow soldiers, not paying actual money for it.  (If they want something uncommon, then they might have to do so, but I've never seen training as being bought and paid for very much.)

Edited by Yelm's Light
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1 hour ago, Jon Hunter said:

Every human NPC i have seen stated for Glorantha has access to magic

I like this bottom-up economic approach because it opens the door to modeling how much cultural capital a community invests in individuals. If a given young adult -- a Rurik -- represents X lunars equivalent in training time, that's what the community spends on education. Some communities would then be more or less generous with "cult credit" and distribute surplus magic and other training time in advance at what they hope will be a fair return on present value. It depends on the examiners and what they want. Donations to the cult also give a sense of how many improvement rolls and access to spell spirits affiliated individuals "deserve" in a given season, year, lifetime -- I have a feeling this shows up in RQG. 

Some people donate labor, others give the equivalent of POW or other "magic points" in prayer and religious service. A few might have cash but I think most sensible examiners would price cash transactions at a huge mark-up -- all the money on the lozenge won't help me if I can't fill all the temple roles on the holy day or keep our young people from moving away to town. It starts with souls. If I were the big man at Nochet Grand Market this is how I'd organize our spell trading activities, but luckily I am not.
 

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2 hours ago, Yelm's Light said:

omething you're missing there...the ubiquitousness of cult membership, which is an access point for most members.  And how many farmers do you think are going to have a great deal of time on their hands in order to learn a bunch of spells?  Even in post-harvest times there are maintenance, caring for animals, going to market with surpluses, etc.

There's always work to do on a farm, sure, but on many days during Fire, Storm, and Dark Seasons their chores will be done by lunchtime. Outside planting and harvest periods, those so inclined could certainly study the mysteries of Heal & Repair with senior members of the local Barntar cult. 

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Also:  farmers and villagers are often the most practical people in the world.  If just one farmers' son (drafted to war and later muster'ed-out with useful magic) ends up successful when others fail, that will set the standard of "this magic will save your ass when all the other donkeys are draggin' . "  Just as a farmer may save up for years to buy those oxen for plowing, his wife wife may save for householders' magic and he might save for fieldworkers' ...

And ANY of them may save for "Heal 2".  Or even a village collection be taken up.  Because it's    just   that   useful  .

 

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3 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Try RQ2 Previous Experience, or the RQ2 Monsters chapter - many intelligent 'monsters' with no magic. Bearwalkers, Broo, Ducks, most Gargoyles, Giants, Manticores, Newtlings, Runners, Tigersons, Cave Trolls, Tusk Brothers, Unicorns, Wolf Brothers, Wyrms, Wyverns.

I think this says something more about RQ2 than it does about Glorantha.  While Jon may have missed the reference, many of us would not check such RQ2 books as we may still possess.

The ubiquity of magic may be deemed to merely 'raise Glorantha to RW levels' with the implicit understanding of Glorantha as a post-Catastrophic if not Apocalyptic world, but I agree with Jon that locally prevalent magics must inevitably distort the local economy.  One Barntari hero with access to the cult secret can produce a centre of agrarian wealth beyond other areas' dreams.  One Maranite can produce fresh open-cast mines on a regular basis, immensely increasing ore production. 

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6 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Indeed. But most peasants/serfs/cottars won't have much if any magic, and they are the majority of any population.

Indeed.

But one reasonably civic-minded caster (not casting for free, but at lower-thabn-book-rate for friends-and-neighbors, taking some pay as barter, and cast-in-kind from other casers) with that Heal-2 can VASTLY decrease productivity-loss; not just by getting someone back to work but by cutting down on the number of moderate-injuries-gone-to-maiming; those are not just directly-lost productivity but the whole household/farm/whatever that no longer has to support someone who's at best marginally-productive.

Having a single "Repair" spell in the village may save a season of work/productivity for a skilled worker; at a critical point, broken gear that needs a big (mundane) repair could cut deep into the amount of acreage under cultivation... or be handled the next day by Ol' Henrik Wheatssheaf (who was Quartermaster up Boldhome-way for seventeen years!!!).  Ain't quite the farmer his daddy was, or his grandad afore 'im... but the whole village is better off for it, an' we gladly help plow an' plant his fields to keep the yokes an' plows an' th' rest o' the gear fixed up for all'n us...

I would suggest that MOST villages in MOST cultures have a few such casters, who collectively make each location MUCH more productive.

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On 10/16/2017 at 5:41 AM, David Scott said:

Using the basis we use for "magic" people - 1 in 100. Given a population of 100 initiates is one healer's magic enough to avoid illness and death in glorantha considering their rarity.

This is an interesting number, but I'm curious to clarify one term:  what are "magic" people?

  • Someone who knows a single spell?
  • Somneone with a reasonable "adventurer's selection" of spells?
  • A Rune-level?
  • Someone with a single, weak spirit? (&etc)
  • Any/all of these, collectively?

I would presume the "one hit wonder" -- a single spell or spirit -- to vastly out-number all the others put together; does that accord with your own thinking?

===

Also, I wonder if this "general" number isn't something that should skew at aome places and some times.  For example, most armies will be HUGELY more effective if relatively-minor injuries can be quickly patched-up and the soldier can be returned to the line at 100%; so an army in the field seems likely to have a LOT of Healing magic.  Similarly, logistics/supply are understood to be a key limit on an army, so transport-magic would seem to be over-present vs. that "1:100" ratio that defines "normal."

A major temple might have a LOT of initiate/acolyte types who are striving to enter the formal priesthood, and have learned 1-3 spells most-useful or most-honored in their Cult; there may be a few wash-outs lingering in the area, who've learned even more magic before being judged "not quite priest(ess) material" or running afoul of a senior in the Cult...

On the other hand, the very edges and margins of cultivated land or viable grazing may be relegated to the most-marginal folk, who are UNDER-represented for magic, and have much FEWER than 1 in 100...

Etc...

 

Edited by g33k
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1 hour ago, g33k said:

the very edges and margins of cultivated land or viable grazing may be relegated to the most-marginal folk

IMG these marginal situations have a self-perpetuating character, where people with low cultural capital (access to productivity magic) get pushed toward under-improved fields, soil that hasn't been enriched, bad carpentry, etc. They're more concerned with surviving Dark Season than with reinvesting surplus resources to get ahead . . . their meager sacrifices will never buy a spell. Meanwhile their land will require dramatic outside intervention if it's ever going to be as fertile and wonderful as we know a happy grain goddess can support, so that acreage tends to get passed over when you have to allocate crop blessings. Poor land IMG is a product of poor people and vice versa. And in my Glorantha, desperate people on the margins are one of the places Chaos crawls back in.

Different societies have different strategies for managing people on the bottom. From the early Sartar materials I always liked to think the Orlanthites had a sense that even a wretched stick picker could impress the examiners and get enough credit to go home and get a better night's sleep, gather more fresh water, plant a garden, make things better. Not every clan will be generous with the resources that trickle down to the margins. Some will, of course, concentrate their magic at the center to preserve the strong. That's just how it goes. People make choices, collectively and individually. In Tanisor, it's a pretty good bet that most of the dronar are absolutely miserable because (despite rhetoric) they're mostly alive to power other people's prosperity magic. I'd rather be an ambitious stick picker in fallen Sartar than a serf in modern Seshnela.

The motivations and character of that magical 1% come in here. You can keep all the Barntar magic to yourself and live extremely well, or you can spend a little cult time to teach a few of those 99 farmers a thing or two. IMG most of the really successful gods prefer that cult leadership actively promulgates cult magic . . . that's how those communities prosper within Time while their counterparts drift to the edge of extinction. Even if an indolent priest can trick the "spirits of reprisal" and ignore community service requirements, a community starved for magic just can't compete when better-equipped competitors come around.

Especially in a situation like the Sartarite Diaspora where the cult is already on the defensive and fighting for survival, I can see the 1% being unusually generous with magic. Smoke 'em if you got 'em, so to speak -- if you don't spend these spells and other cultural capital to support the generation you have, you may not have another generation of free Orlanthites to worry about. Maybe this sense of "crisis pricing" is built into various game rules. I think it's built into Pavis-centric RQ2 cult credit. But either way, if I'm in the Sartarite 1% and I truly want our way of life to get through this, I'm going to teach some spells to the hill people who still believe in our gods. We might have forgotten them in previous generations, pushed them to the rocky slopes. Now they're all we have.

Edited by scott-martin
white space cleanup

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I would expect any successful Orlanthi farming community to have access to at least one initiate of Barntar, Gustbran, and the local Grain Goddess. Otherwise they wouldn't be successful. At best, those without would be dependent on neighbors (hopefully clan-mates) for key services.

At the clan-level, I expect single Gustbrani with some lay member apprentices might service an entire Tula if there are enough Barntari in the outlying steadings  that know Repair. Similarly, one specialist healer might be enough for a whole clan if there are enough Barntari or Grain Goddess initiates (especially midwives) around to provide minor healings and such in the field. 

There aren't Rune Lords/Devotees under every rock, but I suspect that 1/100 is a lowball figure for cottars, vendref, Lodrili, etc. who initiate to the less martial and more professional cults know 2-3 key spells that support their daily livelihood.  

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2 hours ago, g33k said:

This is an interesting number, but I'm curious to clarify one term:  what are "magic" people?

In HeroQuest terms they are the 11W levels - Devotee, shaman, Mage and positions like Khan. In RQ levels they are Rune Lords and Priests, Shaman and what ever your sorcery school has for Mages. Calculations are per relevant initiate group - Initiates, Spirit magicians, school member etc. e.g. using the data from Sartar-KoH, Cults of Sartar chapter:

Babeester Gor 250 = 2-3 Magic people

Ernalda 40,000 = 400 Magic people

Humakt 1000 = 10 Magic people - As the 1 in 100 figure is just a guideline you may want to increase a figure like this. But don't forget that lots of people remain initiates all their life and can be very powerful.

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9 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Everything is magical but not everyone has magic spells.

Please show me a good range of publish stats for human characters with no spells ?

9 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

You are welcome to your perception.

I am :)

9 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Try RQ2 Previous Experience, or the RQ2 Monsters chapter - many intelligent 'monsters' with no magic. Bearwalkers, Broo, Ducks, most Gargoyles, Giants, Manticores, Newtlings, Runners, Tigersons, Cave Trolls, Tusk Brothers, Unicorns, Wolf Brothers, Wyrms, Wyverns.

Try looking through actual characters and encounters that were published  in supplements with no spells.  the picking there are very very thin and its not the norm.

The norm is; 

  • Very weak  and poor characters will have 1-5 points of battle magic
  • Mid level encounters will have 5 to 8 points of battle magic
  • Warriors and trained soldiers will have 9 -12 points
  • Magically Experienced Characters will have very many.

I'm not sure why you are arguing that magic and spells is not pervasive in Glorantha, its one of things things that defined Glorantha and Runequest and differentiated it from other systems.

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32 minutes ago, David Scott said:

In HeroQuest terms they are the 11W levels - Devotee, shaman, Mage and positions like Khan. In RQ levels they are Rune Lords and Priests, Shaman and what ever your sorcery school has for Mages. Calculations are per relevant initiate group - Initiates, Spirit magicians, school member etc. e.g. using the data from Sartar-KoH, Cults of Sartar chapter:

Babeester Gor 250 = 2-3 Magic people

Ernalda 40,000 = 400 Magic people

Humakt 1000 = 10 Magic people - As the 1 in 100 figure is just a guideline you may want to increase a figure like this. But don't forget that lots of people remain initiates all their life and can be very powerful.

TYVM for clarifying that term!

So if 1:100 are at the Shaman/Mage/Rune-level, then the number of "ordinary joes & janes" with 1d3 spells -- or prosperous ones with 1d4+1d3 spells -- would presumably be much higher...   There are FAR more initiates with a few spells than 11W/Runelevel characters!

 

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Well - I have been led to believe that magic is ubiquitous in Glorantha. This is the magical world. Went to Cults of Prax - almost anybody can be a lay member of most common cults. Almost all the cults teach folk magic (spirit magic) or sometimes cast spells on their lay members, some spells they sell at half the "normal" price. I remember there was also shamans who might be cajoled to teach you spirit magic spells.  This is how we have played since the Time began. The thing that is out of sync is the cost of any of those spells - they are not affordable enough if they are hundreds of silvers but even if they are hundreds of lunars - one or one's family might save up for those - most people tend to have only a few spells so if they are useful enough one could save up for those. 

I prefer to believe that the prices of the spells in the old editions were not thought out from the overall economy point of view thoroughly enough so might be a bit too expensive even when bartering with a service. I think it is perhaps unreasonable to ask for many hundreds of lunars of a nomad or a cottar whose yearly earnings might not be that big - so even exchanging labor of equal worth it would be too expensive. For example if the cost of a spell would be 2 years of mercenary's wages - that is perhaps too much to ask. It might be a season of service for a spell (even that may be too much) or a week's travel to fetch something awkward for a shaman or 2 healthy pigs out of your 10 for the spell. If one thinks it otherwise - how rich should be the initiate or priest of the village/town - how many spell buyers there would be in a town per year - how much money would that bring in - teach a spell a week would be 40 times 500L = 20000L per year if a spell costs 500L. For an initiate that would be dozens of times of pay for mercenary most likely and make him living la vida loca like a duke. He would easily be able to buy a new iron plate each year... 

Went to check RQG and it has relatively reasonable prices for spirit magic 30L for many healing is 50L per point. So the earnings for an initiate who concentrates on teaching would be 40*50L a year for heal 1 if he has that many customers. That would make him a wealthy man at 2000L a year. If he teaches heal 3 = 6000 (it takes a week of work to learn any spirit spell), if he teaches heal 6 = 12000 - so quite wealthy person. Discount if not so many customers and some of that goes to temple - but then temple might be very rich and there must be nice treasure chest somewhere. 

RQG Crafter base income for a year is 80-160L, farmer 80L, warriors seem to be at 60L a year. These seem to be a bit on the low side for other studies.  This would seem to indicate that it would take year's half a year's all salary for farmer to learn healing 1. That sounds a bit steep to get magic ubiquitous (a few but not many spirit magic spells with some points per person) but maybe doable. Selling some spells at half price to cult members would help and would entice people to join the cults.  The cults get too rich though so that does not sound right. 

RQG also states that cult may teach some of its spells for free. 

Could not find any price for rune spells quickly from the RQG - they might be just pow sacrifices.

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