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metcalph

Runequest Beastiary impressions

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Below are some of the more interesting things I noticed in the Runequest Glorantha Bestiary (which I loved).

  • There's brown elves in the Colymar Wilds according to the distribution map?  I see there's about 50 according to the Sartar Companion.  
  • A bit of a hiccup in the distribution map with the Imther Mountains being omitted.
  • Morokanth are pretty much all over the place in Dragon Pass!
  • The Trolls of Halikiv apparently can cross over the Rockwoods way into Dorastor in the region of Benksland and the Seven Hills.
  • There's a population of wolfbrothers in Aggar!  Looking elsewhere, I see that a tribe is mentioned in the Guide.
  • Dragon Magic is the same as it was for RQ3.  I think the spiritual cost of Dragon Magic could have been simulated by using runic affinities and runepower (successful use of an affinity incurs 1 point of dishonor, uncessful use incurs many points etc).  I appreciate that space and the Dragonewts own quirky personalities means this wasn't explored.
  • Bowling Balls are back!
  • I loved the Mostali sorcery techniques being recycled from the Different Worlds issue.  A problem is that Dwarves can have an INT of 12 or less meaning they aren't able to use sorcery.  So what happens?  My guess is that Maker Magic is hard-backed into the Dwarvern Mind (as ROM)
  • Finally a picture of the Huan To.  However it brings to mind an issue I have with the monster. With a mouth that big, why the need for a poisonous bite?  I get the impression that there must be an awful lot of 1-handed (and 1-legged) ghouls in Kralorela.
  • Although the cult of Vivamort is not described in the Bestairy, the apparent lack of mention that Vampires can steal other people's rune magic is a good sign.
  • Pteranodons!
  • Titanotheres in Heortland and Aggar?!?

 

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With regard to Maker Magic, I imagine the lack of techniques wouldn't slow them down. Even if they have to pay four times the cost in magic points, they'd just be inefficient.

Of course, the real cost of their magic is in POW anyway, dwarves are unlikely to rely on their magic for anything but the most important repairs.

 

The real surprise to me was the Gorillas. Their habitat is said to be Southern Genertelan forests, which suggests you could encounter them in Caladraland, Wenelia, and Kanthor's Isles.

 

And of course it's nice to see the Seredae returning along with the other breeds of horse.

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3 hours ago, metcalph said:

There's brown elves in the Colymar Wilds according to the distribution map?  I see there's about 50 according to the Sartar Companion.  

I wasn't expecting them to be so noticeable, but it does support that the Colymar Wilds are indeed wild.

3 hours ago, metcalph said:

A bit of a hiccup in the distribution map with the Imther Mountains being omitted.

Apparently the dwarves have put the mountains under some invisibility spell!  (Or perhaps the cartographer got stomped on by a giant?)

I like the inclusion of the Distribution Maps, though.  Much better sense of where you can find different groups then just labelling the region.

3 hours ago, metcalph said:

Morokanth are pretty much all over the place in Dragon Pass!

Unexpected, but interesting!  Must have regular Morocanth caravans along the Pavis Road - maybe decadent Lunars have a taste for herd-man?

Somewhat less artwork than anticipated - think an early note suggested that all entries might have art, which is not the case.  But I do like the art that is included.  Elves and dwarfs are quite good.  The jolanti makes me think of some classic robot movies (particularly if you remove the head).  I like the uz with the beetle head helmet.  

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21 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Unexpected, but interesting!  Must have regular Morocanth caravans along the Pavis Road - maybe decadent Lunars have a taste for herd-man?

My initial reaction was "We need to build a wall!"

I think it's a sign of how porous the borders are.  The Sartarites won't stop small groups of Praxians (not just Morokanth) crossing their lands for any effective policy would infringe on their right to steal other people's cows.   It's only when you get to Esrolia or beyond Lunar Tarsh  that the authorities can actually do something about it.

 

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10 minutes ago, metcalph said:

My initial reaction was "We need to build a wall!"

I think it's a sign of how porous the borders are.  The Sartarites won't stop small groups of Praxians (not just Morokanth) crossing their lands for any effective policy would infringe on their right to steal other people's cows.   It's only when you get to Esrolia or beyond Lunar Tarsh  that the authorities can actually do something about it.

 

I could have also done a distribution map for where you might encounter members of the other Praxian tribes, which I think would really shocked people. You can expect to find small bands of Praxians as far off as South Peloria. 

And the Imther Mountains, if I recall, weren't high enough to show up on this, although I will have to ask Colin. Its like the Massif Central rarely shows up on this sort of map of Europe.

And dear god, what is with the complaining about "not enough art" - I worked solidly with Cory for 18 months to get that much art done. As it was, Cory was doing the final pieces (the Solpugid) as this went to layout. I could have either delayed the book for another year or cut a third of the entries out. Which would folk prefer?

Jeff

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5 hours ago, Jeff said:

And dear god, what is with the complaining about "not enough art" - I worked solidly with Cory for 18 months to get that much art done. As it was, Cory was doing the final pieces (the Solpugid) as this went to layout. I could have either delayed the book for another year or cut a third of the entries out. Which would folk prefer?

We've gotten used to the great artwork in these releases!  I'm quite happy that the Bestiary is out now and really like the art done for it. 

My point of reference just went back to this note from Jason in April: "The Glorantha Bestiary is heavily illustrated by (IIRC) a single artist, and all unique RQ species and most fantasy creatures have 1 or more illustrations", so was thinking "most" meant an Orlanthi "most".

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13 hours ago, Jeff said:

Which would folk prefer?

I think most people would prefer that a bestiary provide an illustration for every entry in the book.

I get why that is not always possible or practical.  However, I don't see that complaining about people who are praising the book is very helpful?

You don't see a lot of people wishing that Dave Dobyski could have done more illustrations for Elder Secrets, etc.

 

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19 hours ago, metcalph said:

I loved the Mostali sorcery techniques being recycled from the Different Worlds issue.  A problem is that Dwarves can have an INT of 12 or less meaning they aren't able to use sorcery.  So what happens?  My guess is that Maker Magic is hard-backed into the Dwarvern Mind (as ROM)

I wasn’t quite so pleased. It seems like we got a lot of detail on magic that we didn’t really need to know in play (eg dwarves have absurdly expensive (1 permanent POW) to precisely measure things) and very little about the sort of magic they are likely to use against you in regular play. Detail we didn’t need, not much detail on the stuff we do need. 

19 hours ago, metcalph said:

Although the cult of Vivamort is not described in the Bestairy, the apparent lack of mention that Vampires can steal other people's rune magic is a good sign.

I have been figuring that could be because it’s a Nontraya thing. Being able to steal Rune Magic has seemed precisely as plausible as trading Rune Magic. I know you disagree. 

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1 minute ago, davecake said:

I wasn’t quite so pleased. It seems like we got a lot of detail on magic that we didn’t really need to know in play (eg dwarves have absurdly expensive (1 permanent POW) to precisely measure things) and very little about the sort of magic they are likely to use against you in regular play. Detail we didn’t need, not much detail on the stuff we do need. 

The 1 point POW cost actually comes from the spells in Gods of Glorantha.

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I find Dragon Magic really interesting. Now that Illumination is firmly established as being equivalent to draconic insight, Dragon Magic would appear to be a form of mysticism magic, and is far far more practical than we normally think of that. While a lot of it is closely tied to the Draconic form, not all of it is -  and we know some high EWFers have acquired similar powers. 

My current theory is that these powers are kind of akin to heroquest powers - the dragonnewts are not merely taught them, but acquire them through a form of HeroQuest accessible (or completable) only by those with draconic insight. And many of them may routinely involve the death of the quester, which to dragonnewts is but a mild inconvenience, eg perhaps the Fire Breath ability is learnt by perishing in dragon fire. Death as the ultimate austerity. It is also possible that attempting to gain such powers risks dinosaurian devolution for the unworthy. 

“Because they shun the elements, dragonewts do not use any magics that are elementally oriented”

Fire Breath isn’t fire oriented? Sure, whatever you say, mr dranonnewt sir, I’m sure there is some terrifically mystic explanation that makes sense. Though to be one lacking in draconic insight such as myself, it does appear somewhat like an obvious contradiction. 

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19 minutes ago, metcalph said:

The 1 point POW cost actually comes from the spells in Gods of Glorantha.

I know, they just seemed a little more rewarding for the high cost than some of the new ones. 

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1 hour ago, davecake said:

It does appear somewhat like an obvious contradiction. 

You fool, that's the exact mystic explanation :P

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21 minutes ago, davecake said:

I find Dragon Magic really interesting. Now that Illumination is firmly established as being equivalent to draconic insight, Dragon Magic would appear to be a form of mysticism magic, and is far far more practical than we normally think of that.

I think Dragon Magic can really be handled as a form of Rune Magic.  There is mysticism involved but that should be properly understood as being the attainment of certain spiritual states (Created -> Beaked -> Tailed etc).  A lot of the material about the dragonewts being unwilling to use Dragon Magic can be handled as negative rune points.

Thus to call an effect requires the Dragonist to make a roll versus the relevant affinity with a success being 1 rune point being acquired and failure meaning the full rune point cost of the effect is acquired.    These rune points can be reduced at Dragon worship ceremonies.  Acquiring more than the CHA in rune points means the draconist is in spiritual disfavour and goes down a rank.  Passions and attachments to the gods are treated as permanent rune points.*

 

 

To say that Dragon Magic is mystical magic and more practical than we normally think about misunderstands what is meant by Mysticism.  Mystical magic should properly be used only of magic that is used to strengthen the transcendent self. A ritual that a dragonewt does to improve its spiritual status would be an example of mystical magic; a draconic effect used to hurt others would not.  Additionally the source of mystic magic does not come from the transcendent self but is based on everyday magic of spirit spells, rune spells and sorcery.  Summoning elementals and exposing yourselves to their malign effects (Cold, Fear, Heat, Madness etc) would be an example of a mystical magic even though the sources of the elementals and the magics to summon them are wholly conventional.

As to the precise relationship between the Draconist and the Dragon whose abilities it calls upon is obscure.  Thoeries range from worship of the Elder Dragons to calling upon one's future self.  Only the Dragonewts know for sure and they can't say.

21 minutes ago, davecake said:

My current theory is that these powers are kind of akin to heroquest powers - the dragonnewts are not merely taught them, but acquire them through a form of HeroQuest accessible (or completable) only by those with draconic insight.

Except that rune magic could also be described as heroquest powers and learned in similar ways.

21 minutes ago, davecake said:

Fire Breath isn’t fire oriented? Sure, whatever you say, mr dranonnewt sir, I’m sure there is some terrifically mystic explanation that makes sense. Though to be one lacking in draconic insight such as myself, it does appear somewhat like an obvious contradiction. 

The answer to Fire Breath has to do with Tanian of all people.  But as to the shunning of elemental magics, I think it stems from the desire to avoid being entangled with the mundane world, which is not the case for magics based on the powers.  I feel the statement is true only for Dragonewts that heed the Inhuman King and those elsewhere may have a different view.

*This does raise the question of what spirit magic and sorcerous draconism would look like.  But I've done too much rules speculation for now.

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22 hours ago, metcalph said:

say that Dragon Magic is mystical magic and more practical than we normally think about misunderstands what is meant by Mysticism. 

No, that’s making unwarranted assumptions about what I said. I simply mean that it’s magic that is 100% requiring a mystic attainment to use and fully integrated into a system of mystic advancement. 

22 hours ago, metcalph said:

But this is a point of linguistic formalism, like saying spirit magic taught by a cult, even if specific only to that cult, isn’t ‘properly’ theism. 

22 hours ago, metcalph said:

Additionally the source of mystic magic does not come from the transcendent self but is based on everyday magic of spirit spells, rune spells and sorcery. 

 I think that this true for the most part - the majority of what looks like ‘Mystic magic’ is sorcery, Rune spells or sorcery that is adapted so that it has certain advantages when used by mystics. But it ignores that that adaption can sometimes be fairly profound.

Lunar magic is an example that we now understand fairly well - by linking what seems like relatively normal Spirit, Rune or sorcery magic to a fundamental view of the world as ultimately illusory, they have created a form of magic that seems flawed and a little incoherent to those lacking in mystic attainment, but supremely flexible and integrated to the Illuminate. I think most most other forms of known ‘mystic’ magic - Ven Fornic magic including martial arts magic, some dreaming magic - can be treated as such, as conventional magic that simply becomes more valuable to the Illuminated. Some forms of ‘Mystic’ magic - possibly Arkati, Nysalorism, Malkioneranism - may prove to be nothing much beyond combining conventional magic in unusual ways, and taking the ‘forbidden’ paths in heroquesting. 

But Dragon Magic seems a little more profound. Not only can it be *very* powerful, it is accessible *only* to those with the necessary mystical attainment, and it appears to use different rules. It’s true that it could be approximated by convoluted changes to the Rune Magic rules, but I’m not sure what the advantage would be, other than to maintain a fairly literal and strict interpretation of the four worlds model (which seems fairly un-mystic and in-draconic) to me. There are also interesting questions about to what extent Dragon Magic is Mystic, and to what extent Dragonnewt. So I’m searching for an explanation that makes more sense to me. That it involves potentially lethal confrontation with dragons makes some sense to me - it makes it more Dragonnewt, and in addition it makes the gaining, then failure, of EWF use of draconic powers obviously about Dragon cooperation. 

 

22 hours ago, metcalph said:

Summoning elementals and exposing yourselves to their malign effects (Cold, Fear, Heat, Madness etc) would be an example of a mystical magic even though the sources of the elementals and the magics to summon them are wholly conventional.

I think that we are talking about austerities here. I personally think that austerities are a form of magic methodology that can be used by magicians of any type, and gifts and geases and shamanic taboos are examples. And they are used by martial artist magicians particularly extensively (cf the Austerity War etc). I believe mystics are fond of austerities as a form of magic because to the un-Illuminated the consequences of breaking austerities are permanent and often crippling, to the Illuminate they may be temporary or slight, or perhaps only spiritual. I think they do have spiritual consequences though, which makes Ralzakark (who encourages his followers to abuse gifts and geases this way, per Dorastor) a sort of anti- boddhisvata).

But I’m really kicking the speculation into high gear here, and getting way off topic. If anyone wants to chat more, we should start a new thread. 

Edited by davecake

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1 hour ago, metcalph said:

Except that rune magic could also be described as heroquest powers and learned in similar ways.

True of all higher magic, to some extent, IMO. 

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1 hour ago, metcalph said:

This does raise the question of what spirit magic and sorcerous draconism would look like. 

The Dragon Hsunchen of ancient Kralorela are probably draconic spirit magic. And the Path of Immanent Mastery a descendent of that path - whether they are totally out of touch with their mystic roots, or just way out on a weird variation, is something on which opinions differ (at the very least, I presume the PoIM themselves don’t think their approach is entirely mystically wrong). And Eastern sorcerous draconism possibly might look a lot like Darudism. 

The EWF at its height appeared to be quite culturally fond of sorcery, and that they wrote their grimoires in Auld Wyrmish, suggests they thought they were making a form of draconic sorcery. On the other hand, they few surviving EWF sorcerers and grimoires that we know of (eg Delecti, Pavis) appear to have very little draconic connection. That could be due to Dragonkill survivors bias, though. 

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In terms of the art, I was expecting something akin to the Petersen's Guide, with an illustration against each entry. Will this not be the case?

Edited by Addison

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14 minutes ago, Addison said:

In terms of the art, I was expecting something akin to the Petersen's Guide, with an illustration against each entry. Will this not be the case?

There are about 50 creatures in the Petersen's Guide, with no game mechanics. There are some 200 creatures in the Bestiary. Most unique Gloranthan creatures have an illustration, but there are plenty of creatures that don't. I didn't feel the need to illustrate a horse, cattle, or even a minotaur for that matter.

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I think there may be some confusion with an old project mentioned on the moon design site, archived here, in the post "A Tiger? In Africa?" which was intended to be in the style of a Petersen guide.

Of course this is a different project entirely (and from 6 years ago) so it's not surprising that the two Bestiaries, designed for different purposes, are quite different.

Personally, I think the art level's great. The ones illustrated are iconic and the bizarre, (Like the aforementioned Huan-to, which I'd pictured completely differently, and much prefer the actual pictured appearance) while the mundane gets by on the shared cultural knowledge that a horse is a horse.

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No, I understand that mundane animals wouldn't get an illustration but I was assuming that the iconic Gloranthan creatures would get something similar to Peterson's Guide.

I guess future sourcebooks a la Trollpack will bring more illustrative detail. Which reminds me, has a RQG product roadmap seen light of day yet? 

Edited by Addison

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I'll take more beasts over less beasts any day, even if "more beasts" reduces the illustration/beast ratio.

 

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I don't care that we didn't get illustrations for a lot of creatures, I'm just happy because THE DRAGONEWTS AND DWARVES LOOK AMAZING, THANK YOU CHAOSIUM FOR ANSWERING MY PRAYERS (even if there still aren't rules or at least suggestions for playing even outlaw dragonewts, ah well).

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11 hours ago, Jeff said:

There are about 50 creatures in the Petersen's Guide, with no game mechanics. There are some 200 creatures in the Bestiary. Most unique Gloranthan creatures have an illustration, but there are plenty of creatures that don't. I didn't feel the need to illustrate a horse, cattle, or even a minotaur for that matter.

Agreed. Full disclosure, I was somehow expecting an illustration per creature (probably influence by the gorgeous Aventuria Bestiary for The Dark Eye) but the number of creatures in the RQG Bestiary just doesn't allow it. Most of the creatures without an illustration really don't require it. There are a few exceptions but I'm generally quite happy with the final product!

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On 7/22/2018 at 8:29 AM, davecake said:

The Dragon Hsunchen of ancient Kralorela are probably draconic spirit magic.

That entire "horned serpent" business can easily be re-interpreted as draconic, and the old description of the beast rune does mention a dragon's scale, implying that even the Malkioni thought of Hykim and Mikyh as dragons of some form or other.

 

On 7/22/2018 at 8:29 AM, davecake said:

And the Path of Immanent Mastery a descendent of that path - whether they are totally out of touch with their mystic roots, or just way out on a weird variation, is something on which opinions differ (at the very least, I presume the PoIM themselves don’t think their approach is entirely mystically wrong).

According to Heortling Mythology, the EWF practiced Immanent Mastery as a continuation of the Ten Step Program (which might be derived from the Long Mountain one practiced by Obduran and Ingolf, p.138):

Quote

The “short cuts” were purportedly ways to attain dragonhood, like Obduran achieved, but with slightly different methods. The most popular one of these began as the Ten Step Program, and became the Path of Immanent Mastery. This method declared that one could become a True Dragon the same way that dragons did: by starting small and becoming greater. Some individuals achieved tremendous power this way, being virtually indiscernible from Great Dragons. However, none ever became a True Dragon, or more.
The Right Left-hand Path, of which Isgangdrang is the best known member, was the powerful of the “short cut” methods.

In the aftermath of "Between the Dragon and the Deep Blue Sea", the techniques of Isgangdrang and his cotery were equaled with the Immanent Masters in mystical purity.

On 7/22/2018 at 8:29 AM, davecake said:

And Eastern sorcerous draconism possibly might look a lot like Darudism. 

The EWF at its height appeared to be quite culturally fond of sorcery, and that they wrote their grimoires in Auld Wyrmish, suggests they thought they were making a form of draconic sorcery. On the other hand, they few surviving EWF sorcerers and grimoires that we know of (eg Delecti, Pavis) appear to have very little draconic connection. That could be due to Dragonkill survivors bias, though. 

Nope. Great Utuma survival bias, 1042. No human able to fully understand a grimoire in Auld Wyrmish survived, but sorcerers with less draconic ties reained untouched - in other words, God Learners had nothing to fear from the Great Utuma unless they had invested too much in Auld Wyrmish. Of course, they had to distance themselves from whatever had gone on a bit over a century earlier in Kethaela, although the Lylket library appears to have survived even the Dragonkill, with documents dating less than 100 years before Belintar's arrival.

Pavis' grimoire was written in Old Pavic, a Heortling dialect influenced by Auld Wyrmish. "Complacentine" rather than truly draconic, and thus not targeted by the 1042 utuma.

Darudism aka RQ3 Godunya's Magic appears to rely on the Dragon Emperor as intercessor, pretty much like the EWF relied on the shared Dragon Dream which may or may not have relied on the Inhuman King of Dragon Pass.

I seem to recall that there was a change in the person of the Inhuman King at the end of the Second Age. Could that have been in 1042?

 

There certainly was ordinary Malkioni and even Brithini sorcery practiced in the EWF, as shown by the person of Akgarbash of Laurmal, the (Brithini?) zzabur with his giant stork familiar (or whatever) in Aggar. Laurmal lies in Arolanit, and that heritage might easily explain why that sorcerer still is around. The Arolanit Brithini had accepted God Learner rule, however, and didn't participate on either side in Halwal's civil war/crusade.

 

I think that grimoires would have been written in the language of the teacher, although once a sorcerer would have reached the stage where he took on pupils and apprentices, he may have started his own grimoire in whichever language or code convenient to him.

We don't hear much about female sorcerers, or female draconic leaders.The only female magician from the EWF period which comes to mind is one of the two contestants for who would grow older, in KoS.

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