Saturday, July 30, 2011

Murder at Ronegarth

Image from this site. Reminded me of Storm Bull...

The heroes returned to Ronegarth via Horn Gate, where they dropped off the women of Black Rock, to find the small settlement in a state of excitement. The famed trader Biturian Varosh was soon to visit Raus Fort with his caravan, bringing with him exotic goods such as the poor settlers of Weis Domain had not seen for a very long time.
Soon the fort began to fill up. First to arrive were the Thunder Bison, a warlike branch of the Bison People. ToXaraya’s dismay, they were led by Moharo Blessed-by-Waha, to whom Xaraya had been engaged at birth. Moharo expressed great delight at seeing Xaraya again, and complemented her repeatedly on her beauty, the fullness of her bosom and the length of her leg, much to the chagrin of one Karnyne Widehips, who, it transpired, was Moharo’s current fiancee. Moharo repeatedly made lascivious advances to Xaraya, suggesting that even though she could no longer be his wife, having no tribe, she could enjoy a privileged position as his most favored concubine. Xaraya rebuffed Moharo on every occasion. With the Bison was Kagrunner, a Storm Khan and warrior of renown. He insulted every warrior in the Fort, including Grom, who bridled and looked forward t a chance to duel the bully.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

RuneQuest Comes Home

It has just been announced that Pete and Loz, the team that brought us Mongoose Runequest II/Legend have acquired the license to produce RuneQuest 6, in collaboration with Moon Design. Here's the announcement:

We are delighted to announce our agreement with Issaries Inc, allowing The Design Mechanism to produce a new edition of RuneQuest and supporting supplements. You can read the full Press Release by clicking on the link to the right.
The way all this will work is as follows: 
  • The Design Mechanism will be producing the sixth published edition of RQ for an early 2012 release.
  • We will be publishing the core rules and all future supplements in partnership with Moon Design. This allows us to call upon their resources for a wide range of things that would be too costly for us to develop singly.
  • Working with Moon we also have access to Glorantha, meaning that RuneQuest material for both Second and Third Age Glorantha will be not just possible, but a reality.
Work on the 6th edition of the rules has begun but the hard work will be between September and December as we prepare for the release. More information on the actual release date will be given nearer the time. 
We're anticipating RuneQuest fans will have a lot of questions, and so we've prepared an FAQ sheet that should address most queries - see the 'RQ FAQ' PDF document link on the right. However, we also have our discussion Forum here at and will be establishing a dedicated RuneQuest forum over at Moon Design. 

This is fantastic news. Third Age Glorantha, it seems, will be supported once again. I expect the rules system to be a further significant improvement on MRQ2 (which was pretty close to perfect, but has some issues that only really come out after repeated play, like the charging rules), so color me excited about this one. Best news of all is that there will be an Open Licence.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mongoose Matt's Statement on the Future of "Wayfarer"

Is here.

I think the most important point is this:
We have been asked whether we will make Wayfarer OGL. This will be a decision made later but, at this time, we are leaning towards it. However, I don't think it will be the usual OGL/logo licence combo, as messing around with SRDs is very time-consuming for us. If we go ahead with this, it is more likely to be a case of everything in the core book range is ripe for picking, just stay away from the setting books - aside from using a 'Wayfarer Compatible' logo, there will be nothing to sign or register for. Just pick up the rules and use them.
If that's the route they follow, I think this excellent system will survive. The approach they are leaning towards is refreshing too - there's been such confusion over the status of the MRQ1 SRDs following the end of the RuneQuest license that it will be good to have a, dare I say it, more libertarian approach.

I am now confident that RuneQuest will survive as a living game system.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Heroic Abilities for Magic Specialists

Normal service is resumed with some Heroic Abilities for TGFKA* MRQ2, aimed at spell users, courtesy of Chronos:

Efficacious Caster
Requirements: POW 16+, Spellcasting skill 90%+
Hero Points: 12

Magic flows efficiently through your practised fingers. Reduce the cost to cast spells by 1 magic point. This ability is passive; you do not need to expend a magic point to activate it. However, you cannot reduce the MP cost to cast a spell to below 1.

Relaxed Mind
Requirements: POW 16+, Spellcasting skill 90%+
Hero Points: 10

When not stressed, your mind easily attunes to the magic that surrounds you. Double the rate at which you regain magic points. However, if you encounter a stressful situation such as combat, magic points are regained normally during the hour in which the stress occurred. This ability is passive; you do not need to expend a magic point to activate it.

Requirements: INT 16+, Spellcasting skill 90%+
Hero Points: 12

Your facility with magic makes you able to cast spells quickly under pressure. Reduce the number of CAs to cast spells by 1. You cannot reduce the number of CAs to cast a spell to below 1. 

For example, Urgath casts Bladesharp 3 on his greatsword. Normally, this would take 2 CAs, but since he is a Spellslinger, it only takes 1 CA to cast. Next, Urgath attempts to cast Disruption 2 on his opponent. Even though he is a Spellslinger, it still takes the minimum 1 CA to cast.

Clear Minded (for Sorcerors)
Requirements: INT 16+, Spellcasting skill 90%+
Hero Points: 8

Double the critical range of the player's spellcasting ability for the purpose of determining whether the spell is cast at no MP cost.

Comments welcome!

*The Game Formerly Known As

UPDATE: Some very valuable comments after the jump from Deleriad:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bargain...of Sorts

The first domino in the chain of Runequest 2 becoming Wayfarer (golly, how I hate that name!) has fallen. All MRQ2 products are now on deep discount at DrivethruRPG, including product bundles.

So, you can get all the Gloranthan products in PDF for under $30. Same with the core rule books.

What a bargain! Or at least it would be if I hadn't spent, by my reckoning, about $150 plus shipping for a mixture of books and PDF for the core rules, and about $180 plus shipping for the Glorantha books (I got the limited edition Abiding Book) - ALL SINCE JANUARY 2010!!!

This is the second time Mongoose has done this to me. At least with MRQ1 I'd only got about half the collection and completed it with the bargain books Mongoose sells by Ebay.

Yet having read this from the great Dave Morris, I'm now concerned that buying the discounted books on Ebay might be doing the creators a disservice.

If you want to pick up these great products now, you should do so at these prices - at least the creators will get something from that, I imagine. I'm more and more convinced that Wayfarer will be an orphan system at best. Noted RQ forum inhabitant PrinceYrkoon has some interesting thoughts on this here.

PS Akratic Wizardry is also covering this - and is about as optimistic as I am. Same with Newt.

Monday, May 23, 2011


This morning, Mongoose Publishing and Issaries Inc announced the mutual termination of Mongoose's license to the Runequest and Gloranthan Second Age properties. The Game Formerly Known As Runequest 2 will become Wayfarer (and I have to say that is an awful choice). Gone are the handsome A4 leather-bound editions. In their place will be pocket-sized rulebooks at a much more affordable price. All the promised expansions like Monster Island appear to have been canceled apart from the potentially brilliant Age of Treason (which, from what I've seen, looks fantastic). Mongoose will send the next 6 months selling off existing stock, it appears. The reason for the split appears to be simply disappointing sales of the Gloranthan line, and a feeling that Glorantha's undeserved reputation as "weird" has been holding back sales of the generic books.

Meanwhile, the authors of the MRQ2 rules, Loz Whitaker and Pete Nash, have both been hired by Issaries/ Moon Design to write new Gloranthan publications. Mongoose's loss is Moon Design's gain. The timing of the Moon Design announcements, we are told, is coincidental.

What does this mean for MRQ2 fans? I fear it means an orphan system. The reaction of the RQ Gloranthaphiles has been one of dismay, while those who like the system but who have nothing invested in Glorantha have been sanguine, but regret the loss of Loz and Pete. I think there are three possible outcomes:

1. Mongoose is serious about the system becoming a generic rules system. They release it under the OGL and allows outside publishers to use it (they are apparently considering this option). In house, Age of Treason is a success and other writers of the caliber of Loz and Pete are commissioned to produce great material. The system reaches its potential.

2. Mongoose releases the system as promised, but without the OGL. It withers on the vine and is canceled after a couple of years and some half-hearted new releases. The system is orphaned.

3. The promised Wayfarer system never materializes. The system dies.

I think at the moment it could go any of these ways, but I fear Newt is right when he suggests that people aren't going to shell out again. Mongoose has expended significant amounts of goodwill in the way they have handled the system. In my opinion, release of this excellent system under the OGL is the only way to regain that lost goodwill.

But I could be wrong. Perhaps Glorantha and the Runequest name were truly albatrosses around the neck of the system, but given where Loz and Pete have ended up, it suggests that the game designers don't think so.

What does this mean for the fanzine, which I've been doing feasibility work for over the past few weeks? I don't know. We've picked a name - Impale! - and assembled an editorial team, and even got some content being written, but if the system is to be orphaned I'm not sure whether the project is worth us investing time and money in. I'll be seeking assurances from Mongoose about this. Otherwise, there are other options.

We d100 gamers live in interesting times...

Friday, April 29, 2011

An MRQ Fanzine?

I'm taking the first step, and have official blessing for it, to develop a Mongoose Runequest 2 (and perhaps other d100 systems) fanzine. In many ways, I want to develop a Tales of the Reaching Moon for the new millennium! You can read the details and offer to contribute at the Mongoose Forum, but here's the post in full:

I mentioned elsewhere, and have the go-ahead from Matt to develop, a Fanzine dedicated to MRQ2. 

At this early stage, my immediate concern is to put together an editorial team. So if you're interested in helping to develop this product, please PM me. Being part of the editorial team would require one article or piece of art as a contribution per issue, or contribution in kind like copyediting or layout. As the initial release schedule I have in mind is quarterly, this should not be too big a commitment. 

My model for the fanzine would be the excellent OSR fanzine Fight On!, but I'd suggest a rather more organized set of regular content. This is an example of ideas for the regular content: 

Runerites: (in honor of the great White Dwarf column) New rules ideas or general concepts 
The Coliseum: new monsters 
Foes: Fully developed NPCs with tactics and motivations 
Plunder: Magic items, unique or generic 
Elder Secrets: New spells and magical abilities 
Cults: Fully developed cults 
Blood and Souls: Specific items for the Elric setting 
God Willing: Specific items for the Deus Vult setting 
Major Arcana: Specific items for the Wraith Recon setting 
Njallsaga: Specific items for the Vikings setting 

I still haven't ascertained whether this could include Glorantha, but I'll work on that. 

In any event, if I can get enough interest in this, I will go ahead and work out the business side of things. I imagine the first issue at least will be free to download to gain interest, but there will be costs and those will need to be addressed. Having said that, I'm an MBA so I should be able to deal with that. 

The main thing however, is to assemble an editorial team. Please PM me or post here if you're interested. 

The other thing we'll need is a title. Very grateful for ideas for that! 

Finally, I understand some of you may be skeptical. I don't think this thread needs that. I can be skeptical enough about the realities of this to kill it if necessary. So positive contributions only, please!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Martial Arts Combat Maneuvers for Mongoose Runequest 2

One of the recognized shortcomings of MRQ2 is that there isn't really a good way to reflect unarmed Martial Arts. Here's one idea, to allow a special set of combat maneuvers to those who are trained in a Martial Arts combat style. I'd be grateful for any comments or critiques.

Break Neck (Critical Only) – On a successful attack to the head only, the attacker may undertake an opposed test of Brawn skills with the defender. If successful, the attacker immediately inflicts a Major Wound on the defender’s head [Note – this is a devastating attack, and hence is difficult to inflict – the attacker must get a critical hit, hit the head and win a brawn v brawn opposed test]

Choke – in the event of an attacker establishing a grapple to the head or chest (see p.92), the attacker may choose this combat maneuver to attempt to asphyxiate the defender. The defender must make an opposed Resilience roll against the original attack roll or start to asphyxiate (see p. 54). The defender must continue to make resilience checks every round against the original attack roll or take damage, until they slip free or the attacker drops the grapple.

Jump Kick – using this combat maneuver the attacker may roll 1d10+10 for hit location rather than 1d20. No grapple may be established. EDIT: In addition to damage inflicted, the attack also counts as a Leaping Attack (p.91) but may affect targets up to the attacker's SIZx2. The Opposed Test is the defender's Evade vs. the original attack roll.

Slam Tackle – this combat maneuver is a variant of Bash useable only on an unarmed charge. The effects are as Bash except as follows: the defender must make a difficult Athletics skill test to avoid falling prone (hard if knocked into an object), and if the defender does fall, the attacker falls with them unless they succeed in an Acrobatics check. The attacker may establish a grapple, as usual.

Spin Kick – using this combat maneuver, the attacker delivers a devastating kick attack. The attacker may roll 2d3 plus Damage Modifier for damage. No grapple may be established.

Throw (attack and defense) – a combatant may use this Combat Maneuver to throw an opponent in a powerslam, judo throw or other such maneuver. The combatant defending against the maneuver must succeed in a test of Brawn against the original successful attack or parry or be thrown 1d3m, taking falling damage if appropriate. The thrown party will be prone unless they succeed in an Acrobatics test.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Found Items

The Golden Rhino of Mapungubwe - could easily be a Found Item!
Found Items were a curious form of random additional "treasure" found in early Runequest scenarios. In each room description, there was a percentage chance of a Found Item that could be revealed by a Spot Hidden roll in a full search of the room. Some of the items were useless, some powerful, but all intriguing.

For instance, two of the Found Items from Snakepipe Hollow show how the flavor of the typical table:

"4. An arm of a small statue. The arm is 30 cm long, magical and made of copper. The arm is very old and is heavily tarnished so that it is totally green. If the arm touches the bare skin of a person with a disease, it will cure him. The arm can only cure 1 disease per week and after curing 4 more diseases, it will have used up all its power and it will fall to pieces."

"15. A shredded leather jerkin, covered with old blood."

Each of the Found Items could be an adventure seed or plot item in its own right. Do the Chalanna Arroy Sisters revere the statue arm? What statue did it come from? If it can be identified, would restoring the arm to the original statue have extra magical effects? Who did the jerkin belong to? What happened to him? Is it a warning? And so on.

So here is a table of Found Items for Openquest, designated as Open Game Content under the Open Game License, reproduced below under the break.

  1. A rusted and pitted iron sword blade. It radiates faint magic. This was once a magic sword like the Holy Sword of Zunder, but it has been buried and ill-treated long enough that the magic has worn off. If it is cleaned and given a hilt, it will act as a brittle long sword, doing 1d8-2 damage and has a 25% chance of breaking on a successful parry. It will, however, store up to 4 magic points if filled.
  2. A bag of beans. If cooked and eaten, they are exceptionally tasty. If planted, they will grow into Kuragu plants, sacred to healing cults. The leaves of the Kuragu plant will automatically stop bleeding when used with the Healing skill.
  3. A pamphlet written in an obscure dialect of a local language that describes some interesting techniques for unarmed combat. Anyone studying it for a week uninterrupted can add +10% to their Unarmed Combat skill.
  4. A well-folded, magnificent, silken woman's dress, of the latest style, worth at least 1000SP. It has a small cut in the back that could have been made with a knife, but there is no blood, nor any sign of whoever was wearing it.
  5. Three tiny gold figurines - a rhino, a stag and a polar bear. They appear to be worth 100SP for the set, but a critical Trade roll will reveal them to be of exceptional interest to a collector who, if she can be found, will pay 10,000SP for them.
  6. An ornate-looking bronze helmet with a horsehair plume. The helmet is strongly reinforced, giving +1 Armor Points to any armor suit.
  7. Half a bronze breastplate, obviously from the same armor set as the helmet in 6, but cut in half by a remarkably clean blow.
  8. A map of the surrounding area, in great detail, but about a hundred years out of date.
  9. What looks like the fossilized remains of a large octopus, wrapped around an impossibly old harpoon.
  10. A strange wooden bat, actually an implement used in an Elvish game not unlike cricket.
  11. A human finger, clearly bitten off.
  12. Two brass coins, each worth a quarter of a Copper Piece.
  13. Seventy-five marks carved into the wall, as if counting the passage of time.
  14. A skeletal hand protruding from the earthen floor. Digging deeply enough will reveal a full skeleton reaching out of the ground. It is unclear, except perhaps to a critical Natural Lore roll, whether the skeleton was buried like this or whether it was trying to dig its way out.
  15. A terracotta pot, sealed with a set of a magical symbols. If opened, there is a rushing sound, but all it contains is a bunch of rocks.
  16. A set of very heavy shackles and chains. All the shackles are locked. There is no key.
  17. A wolfskin cape.
  18. A velvet pouch in poor condition. Inside are what looks like pulverized gemstones.
  19. A note written on human skin. It discusses a plot to assassinate someone who has the same name as one of the party.
  20. Inside a broken statue head is a gold-plated tongue. If used to replace the tongue of someone who has lost theirs, it will allow them to speak again. The recipient can speak 1d3 additional languages but may no longer speak the words of sorcery spells.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Classic Runequest Dungeon Format

When Runequest was at its height under The Chaosium, before the disastrous link-up with Avalon Hill, I always thought that the "dungeon" adventures had the best format of any of the modules out there, whether from TSR, Judges' Guild, Games Workshop or any of the others. Every room or encounter area had a set format, and it was so well-designed a GM could basically run the adventure straight out of the shrink-wrap, although in most cases this would have missed the really cool things about the work. Paul Jacquays adopted it for his Judges Guild Runequest adventures like Hellpits of Nightfang and Duck Tower. For the sake of those who haven't come across it before, here it is.

Each room description is organized as follows:
INITIAL DIE ROLLS: This determines the occupants of the room. Most Chaosium dungeons were living places, with the inhabitants moving between rooms, catching up on the latest news, going for a meal or sleeping. So the initial die rolls would determine where the inhabitants were. Most GMs that I knew did these in advance to work out what the inhabitants were doing. Earlier rolls took priority, so a monster/NPC could not be in two places. Occasionally, the roll would have some special happening in them (for instance a room that had spirits in it might have the spirit attack someone the instant they set foot in the room, but would otherwise be peaceable until attacked).
FIRST GLANCE: This told the players what they knew about the room the first instant they set foot, like dimensions, obvious features and, in a cave for instance, what sort of rock the room was carved out of.
CLOSER LOOKS: This would include all the significant elements of the room beyond a first glance, some of which, it was noted, could be misleading or unimportant - and boy, did people fall for those.
EXITS: By listing the exits from the room, it was easy for a GM to keep the players informed without drawing a map for them or anything. Several of the Chaosium dungeons were mapping challenges. They would also note where any keys were located.
HIDDEN SPOTS: Chaosium Runequest 2 had a specific skill for Spot Hidden items. This section also indicated how long it would take for one person to search the area, and also the chances of a Found Item being there (I'll come on to Found Items later).
TRAPS: Being old school, traps were common in Chaosium dungeons. This section would describe the trap in full, including any mechanics and how to circumvent it.
DENIZENS: Whatever monsters or NPCs live in the room, if they aren;t of the meandering type normally favored.
TREASURE: What it says on the tin.
MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: Anything that didn't fit in elsewhere went here.

As said, I think this format worked really well. I'm currently designing a MRQ2 dungeon - which I don't do very often - and I'm using this format, remembering The Alexandrian's excellent description tips too. So I've added a section under closer looks simply called "Three Senses and Two Cool Things."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pavis Campaign: Muriah and the Mistress Part II

(GM note: I didn't take good notes during this and the next few adventures, so apologies that they aren't as detailed as the previous recaps)

Our heroes realized that not all of the vision had been accounted for in their expulsion of the broos from the Vilnar headwater caverns. They discussed the visions with Leotychidas, Homophilus and Cleombrotus, who said that all clues pointed towards a village called Black Rock, on the western outskirts of Sun County. The party marched through the heat of Fire Season to the village, moving through dead fields, a deserted village and past up dried up streams. At Black Rock they were greeted as emissaries of the Count by the village headman Fethal, a former Sun Dome templar, and his cocky son Varloz. They pronounced a feast in honor of the visitors that night, and Fethal insisted that the militia would drill for the visitors the next morning.

At the feast, the party noticed some strange things. Grom noticed that the youths of the village were unruly and uncouth, particularly for Sun Domers, although he was distracted by an attractive young widow. Xaraya noticed that there were few young men, as opposed to teens, and that Varloz spent much of the time leering at her. That night, Leo and the other Domers were asked to sleep in Fethal's hut, while the unbelievers were asked to sleep outside. Suspecting something was up, Xaraya, Skye and Grom split up watch duties. When Grom was on watch, he was approached by the young widow, bearing her child with her. She said her child was sick, and she needed to take her to the Earth Temple, but wanted a strong man with her to keep her safe. Grom agreed, because there was something threatening about the place. They proceeded to engage in increasingly affectionate conversation. After she left the child with the crone at the Earth Temple, she asked Grom to retire with her, but Grom, though tempted, refused.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I've been delving back into Tekumel recently, searching for inspiration for my version of Glorantha's Kralorela. I find the "vanilla" canon version of Kralorela pretty boring - it's far more Gloranthan China than the Lunar Empire is Gloranthan Rome or the Sartarites are Glornanthan Vikings. I'd much rather my Kralorela echo the themes of Tekumel - decidedly oriental, but also decidedly weird. My Kralorela is limping to the end of a long period of stability, and so the decadence of Tsolyanu seems most appropriate as a model.  A very distant model, I hasten to say - there's enough of canon Kralorela in there to make it recognizable - but I want to evoke the sense of alien wonder in Lur Nop that new Tekumel gamers get when they first set foot in Bey Su or Jakalla.

To this end, I'm running a couple of characters through the solo adventures released by TOME a while back. I've never played them before and I'm loving them. Character generation, especially for the priest, was a chore, and I can see why Gardasiyal bombed as a rules system. However, once I got to crack open the actual adventure book, Coming of Age in Tekumel, I was hooked again. I'll write up my characters' adventures here soon.

All this is a prelude to saying that there's a new Tekumel blog out there. By my guest and check out The Eye of Joyful Sitting Among Friends. I'll be checking in there regularly. In the meantime, you can get Sandy Petersen's unofficial conversion of RQIII to Tekumel here.  I might jot down some notes for updating the rule set to MRQ2 here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Cult of Ehla (Outline)

Description: Ehla is the Mother Goddess of Ehlaar.  She gave birth to all the native species and her wisest children, the Demon Princes, ruling benignly over all of creation.  Then Prince Vazo led his brothers and sisters in rebellion against their mother, imprisoning her in the Dreaming.  Ehla's thoughts of escape and vengeance warped the Dreaming, turning it into the Nightmare Realm.  She toiled in pain for thousands of years until, towards the end of the Time of the Outsiders, a Native hero named Shensta derived a plan to free her.  Aided by the faith of ten thousand natives, she entered the Nightmare Realm through the City of Flying Silkworms.  She freed Ehla, who exploded out of the Nightmare Realm and destroyed the City of Flying Silkworms, leaving a massive crater in her wake.  She moved faster then the eye could see to the stars, where she took her place as the brightest star in the sky.  Shensta founded the Queendom of Gla, which is the center of her cult as well as a political force.  Ehla sends her goodwill to her worshipers across the continent and has regained her place as the most prominent God in the world.  [Unbeknownst to most, Ehla has two aspects, Ehla the Creator and Ehla the Destroyer.]

Runes: Sky, Harmony and Fertility (Ehla the Destroyer has Darkness, Chaos and Death)

Mythos and History:  Ehla created the world from a thought, then walked upon it.  In the Valley of Gla, she lay down and birthed her twin firstborn, Prince Kazed and Princess Sarriad.  Then she birthed many more Princes, then Sorgith, the First Man, and Frozin, the First Woman, plus the Mother of Trolls and all the Native animals.  She reared them, as we rear our children and animals today, and brought life and joy wherever she trod.  But the Princes grew jealous.  Lord Vazo persuaded all his siblings that they should rise up and imprison their mother, so they could divide her power between them.  Kazed and Sarriad remained loyal to their mother, and were slain by Vazo.  The rebellious Princes dragged their mother through the world, creating the Pit of Lecrass, and imprisoned her in the Nightmare Realm, binding her four arms and two legs with links of each element (air, earth, fire, water, darkness and aether), such that everything had a stake in keeping her confined.

Central Myth: Shensta frees Ehla (Mythic Resonance 120%) - Ehla lay in the Nightmare Realm, bound by every element and able only to think. She thought of Shensta, who was born in the Valley of Gla.  Shensta raised herself, defeating all manner of creatures that sought to devour her. She grew to womanhood and took the memory of Ehla throughout the Outsider empire.  She converted ten thousand men and women, who gave their magic to Shensta, enabling her to enter the Nightmare Realm.  She journeyed through the Mountains of Falling and the Plain of Hate, defeating the Lady of Disdain and the Forgotten Child.  Eventually, she came across Ehla, and she talked to each of her bonds.  She persuaded Aether and Darkness to help, and they became part of Ehla.  She scared off Earth and forced Water to flee, while she fought Air and Fire, and defeated them.  Now Ehla was free, she took Shensta in her hand and revealed her truths to her, then forced her way out of the Nightmare Realm, destroying a large part of the land, and made her way to the sky.  Shensta woke once again in the Valley of Gla. Behaviors/Insights: Never surrender, conquer impossible odds, resist fear, conversion is the beginning of greatness.

Lesser Myths: Ehla confronts her Children (Mythic Resonance 80%) - Ehla realized her firstborn children had died, and went to find out why.  She found Vazo and the others clustered round the bodies of Kazed and Sarriad and asked what had happened.  All were cowed, and wept, and begged for forgiveness, all save Vazo of the Hard Heart.  Ehla slapped him, and he yelped, and slunk away.  The children laughed at him, but all the time they grew in hatred of Ehla, desiring her power.  Behavior/Insights: Defiance, impose authority, face down the Demon Princes, love is balanced by hate.

Ehlaar the Destroyer only: Ehla Rends the Soul of Prince Cathris (Mythic Resonance 60%) - The Queen of Gla conquered the City of Cathris, and forced Prince Cathris to manifest.  She and her followers bound the Prince, and sent his soul to Ehla the Destroyer.  She breathed her Chaos Breath on his soul, and it was made flesh.  Ehla ripped him with her claws and bit him with her fangs, swallowing the gobbets of his flesh and spilling his blood back as Blood Rain on to the city of Cathris.  What remained of his soul she bound to her service.

To be continued...

Blank Cult Template for MRQ2

(There isn't really a blank cult template anywhere, so I put this one together to help in designing the Cults of Ehlaar, and Third Age Gloranthan cults.)

Description: Put here what everybody knows about the Cult. It’s what a successful Culture check would tell someone about the Cult.

Runes: Greater Gods or powers have three runes, lesser gods two and minor gods one.

Mythos and History: Put here the basic mythology of the cult

Central Myth: The most important myth in the cult.  It should have a resonance of 80-100% or above for a Greater God, 60-90% for a lesser god and 40-70% for a minor god.  The resonance, remember, represents the difficulty of recreating the myth in a Heroquest. It may help to describe the behavior that will be forced on a worshipper as a result of the myth, as well as any rewards for mastering it.

Minor Myth(s): Greater Gods will have 0-2 minor myths and lesser gods 0-1. Minor gods will tend not to have them.

Nature: Put here who the cult appeals to and its social role, as well as attitudes to it from inside and outside the local culture.

Organization: Describe how the cult organizes and operates, the size of it temples and so on.

Membership: Put here any special requirements for membership and/or promotion to higher ranks within the Cult, beyond the standard.

Common Magic: List the common magic spells the Cult teaches its worshippers. A good rule of thumb is that the Cult should be able to teach any worshipper 6 points of magic, so variable spells can count for more than 1 point. Describe any special spells the cult teaches.

Higher Magic: List the cult’s divine magic spells (including new or special spells), sorcerous Grimoire(s) or examples of special cult spirits.

Gifts and Compulsions: Describe any special duties the cult imposes on its worshippers and any gifts and/or secrets the cult bestows. Some cults ill bestow random gifts or demand random compulsions, so tables may be used here.

Cult Skills: List the five or more skills the cut teaches or otherwise demands its worshippers learn.

Allied Cults: List any cults with which the cult has special relations, including any spells or other boons given it.

Enemy Cults: List any cults singled out for special enmity, together with any bonuses or penalties involved in interacting with the enemy cult.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rules Framework: The Making of the Storm Tribe Heroquest

Image from King of Dragon Pass: Buy it!

As indicated in the previous post, for each station the Orlanth substitute must make a choice of which of the three main Orlanthi tenets to follow: NCMYDA (No one can make you do anything), VIAAO (Violence is always an option) or TIAAW (There is always another way).  To successfully complete the Heroquest, the player must succeed in demonstrating each of these tenets at least once.

I allowed other PCs to accompany the main quester as disembodied "spiritual advisers."  They could augment the quester's skills with their critical range of the appropriate skill and cast magic where appropriate (sorcery at a -20% disadvantage owing to this being a divine quest.)

FMTSE = Failure means try something else (ie choose another option).  In the event of failing all three options, the quester falls out of the Heroquest and suffers the Backlash indicated.  Backlash effects are permanent until erased by a successful Orlanthi heroquest.

I ran this myth under MRQ1 rules.  I'd put the Mythic Resonance at 60% to reflect the 6 stages, but it could be upped by the addition of more stages for more powerful questers.  Each additional stage should reflect having to convince another skeptical god.  Whenever a roll needs to be opposed, used 60% as the resistance, therefore, or more if you have added more stages.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pavis Campaign: A Brief Interlude on the Hero Plane

Illustration from the excellent King of Dragon Pass
Our heroes and the Templars returned to Ronegarth, to deliver the news that the broo who had poisoned the Vilinar had been dealt with, but there was no sign of their leader, the witch Muriah.  The Duke took this news with equanimity, but was distressed by the news of what had happened to Weis.  He took his leave of the party, saying he had much to think about.

Ronegarth had had some visitors in the party's absence.  First was Jodred, a Sword of Humakt from Pavis.  He interviewed Grom, whose deeds he had heard of, and consecrated him as an Acolyte.  He reminded the new trainee priest that he had promised to bring the way of the sword to the trolls of the Gundahaak clan.  Grom promised to get round to it.

The other visitors were far stranger - dragonewts!  The party saw a Tailed Priest, standing on one leg, singing, guarded by two watchful beaked dragonets with klanths drawn and ready, while half a dozen crested dragonewts walked round him in a circle, occasionally switching direction.  Daine told them that the priest was called Silver Whispers Descending (“no, I don’t know what it means either”) and that they came looking for the "fierce females of Fort Rone."  Silver Whispers [SWD] had been standing like that for a day without moving.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pavis Campaign: Muriah and the Mistress Part I

Broo picture via Deviant Art
Returning Lady Jezra to Ronegarth, our heroes discovered that further tragedy had befallen the Duke in their absence.  The Duchess Varna had died suddenly of her illness and Marcilla was back from Horn Gate to stop it from spreading further.  As Skye, Grom and Xaraya filed in to the Duke's parlor to pay their respects, they found it draped in black.  Also present were three Sun County Templars, including their old friend Leotychidas.  It transpired that the High Priest of the Sun Dome Temple, Gaumata the Strange had been sent a vision, about two twisted children that threatened to defile the Zola Fel valley.  Gaumata was convinced that one of these children was active in the Vilinar area of Weis Cut and had sent Leotychidas to warn Duke Raus.  Too late.

The Duke was not sure what to do about the Sun County delegation, but told the party that his scouts had found signs of Broos operating in the Vilinar headwaters and was certain they had something to do with it. Leo said that Gaumata was sure that one of the children was active in that area, the other in the remote village of Black Rock, and offered to help the party if they would also help him investigate the Black Rock area.  The party agreed.  Leo introduced his companions, Homophilius ("It doesn't mean what you think!"), a young scholarly type, and a grizzled old scout called Cleombrotus.  The group paused only to consult with Daine and Marcilla.  Daine was ill himself, and suggested a likely area for the investigations to concentrate on, while Marcilla gave the party medicinal herbs and treated linen gloves with which to handle Broo remains.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


When the Outsiders came to Ehlaar, they brought with them seedlings of Kuza’an-ne-Qarzenn, the “tree-that-is-the-sinews-of-the-Infinite.”  These seedlings grew into trees, heavily guarded in the courtyards that form the holy places of the church of the Infinite.  From branches of the trees are carved the Shallek-za-Kuza’an, which the Natives style “wands.”  Without a wand, a follower of the Infinite can use the Infinite’s power only in its raw form, as an immediate burst of power.  In game terms, a sorcerer cannot use the Manipulation skill without a wand in his or her hand.  This practically restricts the magician to the use of one-handed weapons if they wish to use magic in combat.

Wands range in size from the standard size of about a foot to great staffs wielded by the Zilaths and Pa-Zilaths of the cult/empire.  The Qarmezinn-Pa-Zilath, the “Grand Theosophist” of the Outsider Empire, bore one carved from the wood of the Kuza’an-ne-Qarzenn itself.  In game terms, larger wands give bonuses to the Manipulation skill.

A follower of the Infinite is traditionally given a wand at initiation.  However, the number of wands is decreasing since the fall of the Outsider Empire.  Sometimes a new initiate may be required to find a wand as a condition of initiation.  The Queendom of Gla and various other jurisdictions despise Outsiders so much that they ritually burn wands when they find them.  On the other hand, the Caravan Lords may have started stockpiling them, knowing that they can extract Outsider gold for them.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pavis Campaign: Jezra's Rescue

After the Heroquest to restore Darnbar Chaosknower to life, Marcilla the White Healer suggested to Xaraya, Grom and Skye that they come with her and Darnbar to Horn Gate to see if the Sisterhood could attempt to cure Darnbar of the Unlife Sickness.  The Duke’s wife, Varna, was unwell, and Lady Jezra asked to accompany the group to see if she could purchase some herbs that she believed would cure her mother.

The journey to Horn Gate was interrupted by another encounter with the Morokanth, in this case Visishwaw Windclaw, a follower of Storm Bull and his gang.  After an initial period of feeling each other out, Grom earned the Morokanth’s respect and Visishwaw offered Grom some Kvass, which Grom had to turn down owing to his geas.  Visishwaw found it odd that a god would require a worshipper not to drink, and took this as a sign of Humakt’s weakness compared with the Bull. They spent the night camped on the plains, sharing the watch duties with the Morokanth.

The party found Horn Gate still controlled by the Sables.  Xaraya bristled at this, but Marcilla asked her not to cause trouble.  They delivered Darnbar to the Hospital and Jezra purchased her herbs.  Not wishing to stay where the Sables ruled, the party set off back for Raus Fort via Weis Cut, aiming to overnight at Weis Village.

Monday, January 24, 2011

History of Ehlaar

Items in [Parentheses] are part of the Secret History – events that happened but are not general knowledge.  Some are known only to a very few researchers, historians and priests.  Highlight to read, unless you are possibly going to play in this world. (The observant may notice some elements taken from the excellent scenario Hammers of the God by James Raggi.  Don't read the Secret History if you intend to play this.  Here's the Grognardia review.)

Comments are welcome and may well be incorporated.


There are four worlds with four stars and four moons that revolve in complicated fashion around the Sun, or perhaps the Sun revolves around them (no-one is quite sure and astrologers and other wise men argue about this incessantly).  In one world, Kanosza, gods ruled – the gods of the celestial bodies and the Afterworld.  In another, Jaruusz, a seemingly omnipotent principle, The Infinite, governed the mundane world and the Ether.  On Ghildra, spirits roamed the world and the Guinee, the spirit’s home.  On Ehlaar, the goodess Ehla and her children were the creators, ruling both Ehlaar and the Dreaming, until her children rose up and imprisoned Ehla in the Dreaming, which became the Nightmare World.  [The Afterworld, the Ether, the Guinee and the Nightmare World all share characteristics, and otherworldly beings can seemingly operate through all these planes, even if they do not interact with each other.]

Kanosza is a world of continents, Jaruusz a water world with a giant archipelago, Ehlaar is a Pangaea, with just one continent, while Ghildra is a desert world with no seas, few lakes and many oases.

On each world existed a major species of humans and another intelligent species: on Kanosza, dwarfs, on Jaruusz elves, on Ghildra dragonmen and on Ehlaar trolls.

Questworld 2.0

If I'd written this post a few days ago, it would have been very different.  Like James from Grognardia, I'm fascinated by the road not taken for Runequest, to wit, the project called Questworld.  This project aimed to provide an alternate world for Runequest adventures other than Glorantha, where everything had to go through Greg Stafford's approval process.  Developers were free, however, to use Gloranthan gods.  In a particularly interesting idea, the Chaosium took one continent to develop (Kanos, pictured) but allocated others to the big players in the Runequest industry at the time like Judges Guild.  Another was to go to Britain's own Games Workshop, several years before that group became obsessed with Warhammer.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cult Ideas

The Mongoose Runequest II rules are great at the three traditional forms of magic - divine, spirit and sorcery - but I wonder if there is room to adapt the system for certain historic forms of worship that don't really fit into the organized hierarchies envisaged.  Here are some basic ideas that I'll try to expand on later.

Mystery Cults

The Eleusinian Mysteries, the cult of Cybele, the Great Mother, Isis - all were extremely popular cults that outsiders (and therefore us) had no real idea of what they did at worship ceremonies.  This is pretty easy to mirror in MRQII terms - you take a Compulsion not to reveal the Mystery to the profane.  Yet this doesn't really get the point.  What is the Mystery and what makes it special?

Here are some suggestions on how to run a mystery cult.  The cult has several mysteries.  The first mystery is handed down on initiation (pious membership), with further mysteries revealed on becoming a fervent member and a high lord/priest (probably different for each one).  The most sacred mysteries, known by the high lords, are actually the point of the cult, and it is the high lord/priest's most sacred duty to find someone worthy of passing the secret on to so that the cult continues.  This should lead to good role-playing opportunities.  In a rune-based world, the mysteries could be tied to a rune, and if you play the runetouched rules, then you become runetouched when you learn the mystery.

Exodus of Rome Journal

(Written by the GM, Jujitsudave, and as posted on the MRQ Forum)

The First Journal entry of Publius Equitatus Aquilla (formerly known as Athdain of the Pictii) this day November 18, Anno Urbis Conditae 1160. 
As transcribed by Flavius Ventario of Alexandria. 

Review - Life and Death (d101 Games)

RPGs aren't a matter of life and death, to paraphrase Bill Shankly, they're more important than that.  And anyone who spends large amounts of time designing RPG campaigns will appreciate Life and Death (L&D) by Newt Newport.  Written for Newt's Openquest system, a slimmed-down version of Mongoose Runequest 1 designed under the Open Game License, L&D is an extremely imaginative campaign setting and adventures that resonates well with the distinctly non-medieval tradition of Runequest adventures.  I heartily recommend it.

L&D is set in the Shattered Lands, a setting of 5 city states that all fell under a magical curse 500 years ago and endured centuries of complete isolation.  During that time, their gods disappeared and magical has become extremely limited in its scope.  Some "replacement" cults have now arisen and the objects of devotion are attempting to achieve godhood.  This makes for a fun setting, especially as undeath is pretty common around the Lands.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Back Again...

Boy, I really dropped the ball there, didn't I?

Anyway, I intend to get back to regular posting (we've heard that before, says the DM's Screen) with updates on the Pavis campaign, some reviews of old school and Runequest/Openquest products, and perhaps a running recap of Exodus of Rome, a new Runequest campaign I'm playing in via Skype, which is shaping up very nicely. I'm writing another book as we speak, so this writing will be a natural complement to the rest of the day...