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Narl

Everyone Having Rune Magic

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Based on the rules (and going by what I have seen in new RuneQuest adventures) nearly every adult is an initiate of a cult (page 73), not just exceptional individuals like adventurers. That means that nearly every adult has access to Rune spells. So every Ernaldan herder can potentially summon an Earth Elemental, every Orlanthi guard could be able to cast Flight, every Elmal initiate could cast Sunbright, and every market stall would be protected by Create Market. And so on. You get the idea.

My somewhat limited previous experience in Glorantha was with RuneQuest Classic, in which Rune Magic was quite rare. Yes, everyone had Battle Magic, but it was of course much more limited in capability. In this version, Rune Magic hold some serious power, and nearly everyone has access to it. I do think it is great that adventurers will actually have some Rune Magic to start. My initial impression, from the Quickstart, was that the adventurers were exceptional in having access to Rune Magic, but that seems not to be the case now that I have seen the full rules.

I am having trouble coming to terms with this. It would make more sense if Rune Magic was more of a limited thing (to say 1 in 20 or 1 in 100 individuals) but having it be so ubiquitous means it constantly has to be taken into account, with every NPC. Am I missing something? I am not trying to say it is bad or wrong, it just seems to have some massive implications for the setting and for adventures that I am not really wrapping my head around.

I would appreciate any suggested reading or advice related to this. Thanks!

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Pg 269 somewhat contradicts that and says that most members of the cult are lay members. Most people will not have access to rune magic just those who are in the cult hierarchy.

Edited by sladesy
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Every adult Orlanthi has been expected to have been an initiate, and thereby to have access to Rune Magic, since the very beginning. The main difference is that initiate rune magic has been made reusable, so that a lot fewer rune spells are one-use.

The frequency of POW-gain rolls decides how willing people may be to sacrifice for rune points.

Lay membership affects mainly the less popular specialist cults. Orlanth and Ernalda do have lay members, but they tend to have at least as many initiates anywhere in Orlanthi lands. (There's a reason why these folk are called Orlanthi.) There are numerous cultural alternatives to Orlanth in Theyalan cultures which aren't exactly Orlanthi, and some fewer alternatives for Ernalda. Plus there is the Barntar escape for places with oppressive overlordship (Grazelands, Lunar Provinces) which offers a more agriculturally focussed male cult.

This approach with rune magic for everyone gets weaker when you leave Orlanthi lands, Beast Riders, or active Lunars. However, that also means that you are leaving the focus of the cultures presented in RQG. 

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The texts I've read in Glorantha material about what "Initiate" means has always been less than clear.

But as far as I can tell there are kinds of Initiate in Orlanthi culture.

The first kind is an initiation into adulthood and the Orlanthi religion. Everyone does this. The initiate learns the secrets of gods, of the Storm pantheon and so on.

But there is another initiation that can take place: A complete initiation and commitment to a specific god. It is this second type that I believe gains Rune Magic and Rune Points.

Here is an essay by Stafford on Orlanthi initiation Rites.

After describing the general initiation into adult and the religion, this passage shows up near the end: "At this time individuals often choose the specific deity that they wish to worship, and afterwards undergo complete initiation and commitment to that entity."

Now, I may be misreading this. But this is how I've made my peace with this issue. I read it this way in part because my sensibilities line up with Narl: I'd like Rune Magic to be more special affair, for those who have dedicated their lives to a god and cult in ways most people don't.

 

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1 hour ago, creativehum said:

The texts I've read in Glorantha material about what "Initiate" means has always been less than clear.

But as far as I can tell there are kinds of Initiate in Orlanthi culture.

The first kind is an initiation into adulthood and the Orlanthi religion. Everyone does this. The initiate learns the secrets of gods, of the Storm pantheon and so on.

But there is another initiation that can take place: A complete initiation and commitment to a specific god. It is this second type that I believe gains Rune Magic and Rune Points.

Here is an essay by Stafford on Orlanthi initiation Rites.

After describing the general initiation into adult and the religion, this passage shows up near the end: "At this time individuals often choose the specific deity that they wish to worship, and afterwards undergo complete initiation and commitment to that entity."

Now, I may be misreading this. But this is how I've made my peace with this issue. I read it this way in part because my sensibilities line up with Narl: I'd like Rune Magic to be more special affair, for those who have dedicated their lives to a god and cult in ways most people don't.

Adulthood and general pantheon initiation is initiation to the clan wyter, and if you are willing to join the cult of Orlanth (or Ernalda), it is likely that you can just go on and take that initiation along. (I have the suspicion that the same initiation is going to work for Barntar, too, in places where Orlanth is on the list of anti-state cults.)

If you are going to join any other cult than your gender-appropriate deity, you will have to undergo a separate initiation for sure. If you want to join a less usual subcult of your main deity, ditto.

In Orlanthi society, it is possible that a person undergoes the adulthood initiation and then becomes a spirit-talker rather than a mainstream initiate. Such individuals might end up with a spirit ally rather than rune magic, and a possible career as assistant shaman or even shaman. Such a person still is a member of the religion, and will act as lay worshiper in the clan holy days.

One problem with specialist cult initiation is to get enough of a congregation of initiates and priests to be able to hold these rites. That's why initiees to these deities often have to travel to a tribal or even city confederation temple to undergo cultic initiation, and there are cults like Lhankor Mhy and possibly Chalana Arroy which demand an apprenticehood in order to qualify for initiation. This apprenticehood may have started before adulthood initiation if the candidate comes from a background that would have recognized the character's affinity to this cult early on.

 

Is it possible to become an initiate of a special deity directly, without having undergone clan initiation previously? I think so, although a combination with a standard adulthood rite would be likely.

Standard adulthood initiation for Orlanthi male and vingan gender includes experiencing the I Fought We Won mystery. The depth of this experience varies.

 

In RuneQuest terms, I think that initiation to the wyter establishes the magical link through which magic point sacrifices are given in clan and tribal rites so that they are more beneficial for the clan magic, too.  People from outside of the direct community (clan, temple) will still provide magic for the rite with their participation (see e.g. the example of Vasana's lay worshipper participation at the Paps).

 

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4 hours ago, Narl said:

it just seems to have some massive implications for the setting

Specifically?

4 hours ago, Narl said:

every X can cast Y, ever, abstractly

Yeah but more specifically?

My point isn't to say you're wrong.  Actually, to me the implications are the interesting part.  I am challenging you to do the work to be more specific about what you think the implications are, rather than just to say massive implications seem to exist.

Edited by Roko Joko
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Some other people have suggested nerfing the RQG version of Extension Rune spell.  For example 

here https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/7699-rune-magic-in-rqg-limits-seem-to-be-off/

and here https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/7767-multispell-will-render-protection-obsolete/

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As it was confirmed on the RQG preview list in the future clarification document ( Rune Fixes )

Quote

When a Rune spell’s duration is prolonged because of an Extension spell, the Rune points used for both the Extension and the underlying Rune spell cannot be replenished until the Extended spell expires.

 

Edited by 7Tigers
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4 hours ago, Roko Joko said:

Specifically?

Yeah but more specifically?

My point isn't to say you're wrong.  Actually, to me the implications are the interesting part.  I am challenging you to do the work to be more specific about what you think the implications are, rather than just to say massive implications seem to exist.

Also keep in mind that the rules for generating adventurers ARE NOT intended to create ordinary members of society. They create adventurers who are likely participants in the Hero Wars. 

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As @Jeff says these are the rules for making adventurers, however that that doesn't preclude initiates having access to a few points of Rune magic. All initiate get a Rune Points pool of 1 as part of initiation. Rune magic is restricted as well. Everyone has access to the common rune magic, cult rune magic is gained when you expand your Rune Points pool - you need POW to sacrifice to do that. The average Initiate is not going to have spare POW that often to that. You only get a POW gain roll every High holy day if you succeed in you worship roll and Base Worship is 5%!

They don't get access to enchantments.

So most initiates will have 1 rune point, I'd be generous and say an extra every 10 years. They can only cast 1 point spells and have access to only 1 cult spell. They can't cast command cult spirit as thats 2 points and Extension is pointless unless they know another spell. Likewise they are limited in their special cult spells if more than 1 point.

11 hours ago, Narl said:

So every Ernaldan herder can potentially summon an Earth Elemental,

Yes, although they must have selected it. It's not automatic.

Quote

every Orlanthi guard could be able to cast Flight

Yes, although they must have selected it. It's not automatic and they need to have enough rune points for 2-3 points to fly, page 329:

Quote

The caster may transport one object weighing up to SIZ 6 through the air for the duration of the spell. Each extra point of Fly increases the potential weight carried by 6 SIZ. Thus, an adult human would probably need 2 or 3 points of Flight to leave the ground.

Quote

every Elmal initiate could cast Sunbright,

Yes, although they must have selected it and it needs 2 rune points.

Quote

and every market stall would be protected by Create Market.

Yes, although they must have selected it and it needs 3 rune points.

My players were very excited by rune points, then realised they had to choose and use carefully. The create market was an good example - used up all of their rune points. However the benefit is that it counts as a Site "Rune points may be replenished by those maintaining the site for a season, though POW checks are available for worshiping here. No priest or God-talker is supported." The spell lasts 8 weeks - a season.

Edited by David Scott
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5 minutes ago, David Scott said:

 You only get a POW gain roll every High holy day if you succeed in you worship roll and Base Worship is 5%!

+15 for initiate skills, and usually augmented by Devotion, Sing, Dance, Addiction (Hazia), etc.

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14 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

+15 for initiate skills, and usually augmented by Devotion, Sing, Dance, Addiction (Hazia), etc.

Thanks for that I knew it was there somewhere. But it's still not very high.

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Thank you for all the helpful responses, I am getting a better grasp on it now and I think I can better explain it to my players: While everyone may be an initiate, adventurers are still quite exceptional in their ability to gain POW and dedication to sacrifice POW. An ordinary initiate would likely only have spells applicable to their profession, such as a farmer with Bless Crops.

Also, the Rune Fixes stuff, which I had not looked at, changes things a lot in terms of recovering Rune points. Thanks!

Edited by Narl

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6 hours ago, David Scott said:

So most initiates will have 1 rune point, I'd be generous and say an extra every 10 years

Maybe I'm not remembering the rules correctly, but can't you sac a POW for Rune Points at any given worship? Of course, it makes sense that in general people would prefer to do so after having gained POW, but I struggle to imagine that if there was a really useful gift from the God--say, those warriors being able to fly up their mountainside village, or whatever--wouldn't they sacrifice the extra point to do so? I imagine if I was a clan chieftain living in a mountain village, having even five or six warriors who I knew generally had a Flight from Orlanth available would rest my mind for stupid crap happening, not to mention raiding or being raided.

Seems to me the best example of impact of abundant Rune magic in RQG's Glorantha is at the back of the book, in the childbirth tables. Thanks to the magic of Ernalda, death in childbirth and infancy is rarer--although this is balanced out by the warlike society's frequent combat deaths. Or, nearly every Orlanthi adult being able to use Heal Wound if they haven't spent their Rune point.

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32 minutes ago, Crel said:

Maybe I'm not remembering the rules correctly, but can't you sac a POW for Rune Points at any given worship?

Yes, of course

Quote

Of course, it makes sense that in general people would prefer to do so after having gained POW, but I struggle to imagine that if there was a really useful gift from the God--say, those warriors being able to fly up their mountainside village, or whatever--wouldn't they sacrifice the extra point to do so? I imagine if I was a clan chieftain living in a mountain village, having even five or six warriors who I knew generally had a Flight from Orlanth available would rest my mind for stupid crap happening, not to mention raiding or being raided.

I was talking about the average people POW 11 for example. If you want to leave less magic points for your daily work then go ahead and spend your POW for 15 mins of flying. 

Quote

Or, nearly every Orlanthi adult being able to use Heal Wound if they haven't spent their Rune point.

And that’s the balance, you need magic points to power heal wound. Do you spend POW for bigger effects or have more magic points for spirit magic. 

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2 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

I think it should be noted that the high rate of initiation among the Heortlings is unusual for Gloranthan cultures. It's what makes them indomitable. 

See also: http://asterix.wikia.com/wiki/Indomitable_village

On a serious note, I've actually wondered about the ramifications of this. It certainly seems to make the Orlanthi the (objectively) most powerful culture (at least pound for pound). Not all of that Initiate-derived power turns into pure military power, however, since a lot of goes into magically powering more mundane stuff. However, even that ends up making the culture and economy more robust than their competition in general. Frankly, I haven't quite wrapped my brain around this. In the clash of cultures, does this mean that the Orlanthi are more right than others? To stay competitive, why aren't the other cultures slowly going to a similar model? Hmmmm.  

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3 minutes ago, Grievous said:

However, even that ends up making the culture and economy more robust than their competition in general.

Interesting point. I guess that part of the explanation is that they're too busy competing with one another? It seems to me that a big factor in the Lunar victories is their unity against the squabbling clans.

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12 minutes ago, Grievous said:

On a serious note, I've actually wondered about the ramifications of this. It certainly seems to make the Orlanthi the (objectively) most powerful culture (at least pound for pound). Not all of that Initiate-derived power turns into pure military power, however, since a lot of goes into magically powering more mundane stuff. However, even that ends up making the culture and economy more robust than their competition in general. Frankly, I haven't quite wrapped my brain around this. In the clash of cultures, does this mean that the Orlanthi are more right than others? To stay competitive, why aren't the other cultures slowly going to a similar model? Hmmmm.  

The Orlanthi manage to balance this advantage with their notorious disunity. Even when they start some of the greatest projects in the history of Glorantha, like the God Project in Dorastor or the EWF, there are always die-hard dissidents willing to fight to the death and beyond to stop these from happening.

Organisation beats individual prowess on the battlefield, and in the clash of cultures. Being able to recruit allies from the culture you're fighting (disunity) is a big plus, too, unless you ally to individuals like RW Arminius or Argrath.

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"Normal" people wouldn't have a large Rune Pool, maybe one or two points, so they can cast some runemagic but not a lot. They would also focus on those spells that affected their lives the most.

Traders would probably protect their stalls with a Create Market spell, as it makes sense. It also makes Create Great market more useful. It always bothered me that most Issaries Traders were likely to be Initiates, but only Priests would routinely cast Create Market.

Edited by soltakss

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9 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Orlanthi manage to balance this advantage with their notorious disunity. Even when they start some of the greatest projects in the history of Glorantha, like the God Project in Dorastor or the EWF, there are always die-hard dissidents willing to fight to the death and beyond to stop these from happening.

Organisation beats individual prowess on the battlefield, and in the clash of cultures. Being able to recruit allies from the culture you're fighting (disunity) is a big plus, too, unless you ally to individuals like RW Arminius or Argrath.

More hierarchical societies in fact probably discourage high rates of Initiation and thus potential power turnovers... Initiation is by its nature somewhat meritocratic (though also exclusive), and that's a big no-no for the larger empires. Every initiate is a part of the God/open to her/his mysteries, and thus a potential chief/chieftain/ruler. This means that it is awfully easy to end up with alternate sources of authority.

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1 hour ago, jeffjerwin said:

More hierarchical societies in fact probably discourage high rates of Initiation and thus potential power turnovers... Initiation is by its nature somewhat meritocratic (though also exclusive), and that's a big no-no for the larger empires. Every initiate is a part of the God/open to her/his mysteries, and thus a potential chief/chieftain/ruler. This means that it is awfully easy to end up with alternate sources of authority.

Spoken like a true Dara Happan or Rokari. Strangely, neither the Loskalmi nor the Lunars appear to worry much about these effects, they do embrace the alternative or meritocratic ways to rise to the top levels of society.

Pre-Karolingian real world leaders had to prove their divine descent or nature in order to be accepted in their superior role. Gloranthan heroquesting offers exactly that kind of legitimation as a reward.

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12 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Spoken like a true Dara Happan or Rokari. Strangely, neither the Loskalmi nor the Lunars appear to worry much about these effects, they do embrace the alternative or meritocratic ways to rise to the top levels of society.

Pre-Karolingian real world leaders had to prove their divine descent or nature in order to be accepted in their superior role. Gloranthan heroquesting offers exactly that kind of legitimation as a reward.

The Lunar Empire is a much more dangerous place than the Dara Happan Empire for its elites... Dart Competitions are the logical result of a runaway number of possible sources of legitimization, even post-facto legitimization. On the other hand, it is probably a more liberal and more flexible place for everyone who's not a member of the elite or who doesn't feel ambitious and initiates to the Lunar Way. In a sense, the tyranny of the aristocracy is subverted by the countervailing quasi-Darwinian power struggle.

I can't speak for Loskalm, however.

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I think the Lunars actually have some trouble, if not Initiating, but at least taking people further into their religion (Sevening/Illumination). This sort of restricts the numbers of their highest level adepts. In the sense that the Lunars are trying to conquer mythic territory (the Middle Air, as currently occupied by Orlanth) it also somehow makes sense that they would have some difficulty getting people deeply entangled into their mythic framework. Otherwise I don't think they'd mind having the numbers if they could pull it off (while the Dara Happans/Pelorians in general might certainly want to keep the masses un-Initiated, because things work just fine without that added complication). Nysalor might also represent an earlier tradition from thereabouts that wouldn't have minded a numerically large contingent of followers, but for the troubles of getting there (and no doubt suffered because of complications stemming from incomplete understanding of his way).

Edited by Grievous

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I've been wondering about the impact of the apparent (relative to the perception of previous versions) impact of readily (again relatively) available Rune Magic.

If what you want is lots of POW to sacrifice into Rune Points and Enchantments (mediated by your Wyter, see below), you want to keep your POW low, if that doesn't gimp you in other ways. Your average Farmer doesn't need a POW of more than 11 to function well as a community member, and your Priest with their minimum POW of 18 gets more chances for gain rolls.

An average Initiate who hasn't thought much about their development within the Cult (and so has the basic Worship skill) would have their base 20%, +20% for the two MP they have to sac in any Worship Ceremony. 5% for a chicken is not unreasonable for the Big Days. The High Holy Day and Sacred Time rituals get an inherent +40 so we're on 85% for those two. So any Worship Ceremony in a Temple of any size gives a 95% chance (90% if you omit the chicken) which can be pushed to 100% by putting in an additional MP. Initiates get their POW gain rolls if they succeed at Worship at either or both of HHD and ST. So an average Initiate will gain about 1 POW per year. Very quickly they'll hit their max of 11 Rune Points (by the time they're 30).

Major cults with lots of Holy Days get more Rune Points back per head, over their entire congregation than smaller cults which only have Seasonal, High and Sacred Time Holy Days.

Some consequences I've thought of:

  • Initiates with access to Reproduce can have one child every year if they want.
  • Cultures whose Initiates commonly have access to Bless Pregnancy should have near zero chance of 'Child dies at Childbirth' results because almost every pregnancy will get a Bless Pregnancy cast on it. With Initiation so common and Rune Magic reusable, access to such spells in the relevant culture should be almost universal. If the Grandmother of the family (who's firstly got their full 11 Rune Points and secondly doesn't need to use any of them on their own pregnancies any more) does the Bless Pregnancy, the child would have +9 to spread between their stats when they roll...).
  • With Elders casting Bless Crops, your average farmer's Income roll is going to get a decent bonus (up to +220%!), just if a senior Initiate cast the spell, making the impact of poor years or being raided less significant. The worst Income roll penalty is -60; Your average Farmer might have Farm at 60%. so Bless Crops could be cast at +100 on 6 Hides by your average senior Initiate and they could do that (absent other calls on their Rune Points) a couple of times a season. 
  • Access to Heal Body, Heal Wound, Regrow Limb and Restore Health will make the vicissitudes of life significantly less lethal when your average fully grown 30 year old has 11 Rune Points. Because magic in general makes armed conflict more dangerous, the common availability of powerful healing spells and large MP stores (s
  • Once you're past 30 (or a bit older if you've a higher CHA), you still get POW gain rolls even if you can't accumulate Rune Ponts. While you, yourself, as an Initiate, don't get access to Enchantments, often your Wyter might (if the responsible Priest does), and you can both sacrifice the 1pt the caster has to put in to start the enchantment to the Wyter and contribute any others you feel appropriate as can your relatives and friends (though using your Wyter this way might be horribly inefficient if you have to spend Rune Points as well as characteristic POW to increase the strength of the Enchantment, because the Wyter would have to spend double). If your Wyter's representative doesn't have any enchantments, other Priests might, and they may well have a point of spare POW that can start an enchantment, for a suitable donation, or even just because they like you and want to keep their POW at 18 to maximise their chances of getting more POW gains. I can certainly see a custom of 'coming of age' gifts made with quite a lot of POW from the extended family, and possibly even 'birth gifts' for the children of those who can maintain a Noble lifestyle, and therefore have a greatly reduced chance of dying before adulthood. I would envisage the first point past 'base' contributed to be one that restricts the use of the item to just the intended recipient, partly as an OOC way of preventing a deluge of items everyone can use, and justified by a cultural attitude of "It's their present, no one else's." While this is a mechanical look at the process, I don't see why the inhabitants of Glorantha wouldn't have, by now, internalised the way the currents of magic work so that such manipulation of resources is no more unusual than efforts to maintain the functioning of social constructs.
  • Another social consequence is that it actually directly benefits the Initiate to be more pious, because if they have the leisure to sacrifice most of their MP to their God to increase their Worship success chance on a given Worship opportunity, they'll have more Rune Points to spend on casting useful spells.
  • Because magic in general makes armed conflict more dangerous, the common availability of powerful healing spells and large MP stores will make warfare casualties either (almost instantly) lethal or, in the longer term, inconsequential. Either you got cut in half by the True Sword spell, or your mace-broken arm is healed back up and you're ready to go.

On the whole, a population having a high proportion of initiates (especially the ones which have a predominance of Ernalda initiates) does, I think, provide significant societal bonuses, because POW gain rolls are commonly available to Initiates, even if they aren't particularly pious with their praying. The supporting nature of most of the points above might also offer some input into the notorious resistance of the Orlanthi persisting even when worship of the Chief God is largely proscribed: Ernalda's powers provide such a strong base that the culture can persist in the face of terrible adversity and persecution, if Ernaldan worship is unconstrained. Also explains why the Windstop is such a pivotal success for the Lunars in their suppression of the Sartarites, since it is the first time their earth priestesses are hamstrung.

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