CHA4028 RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – Chapter 11 Spirit Magic Q&A

Official Answers by Chaosium

Replacing an Existing Spell

Is it possible to ‘replace’ a spell with a different casting of that spell? Say the party’s strong one is holding up a falling portcullis thanks to a Strength spell that’s about to run out, can you recast Strength on them before the existing one expires to refresh the duration of the spell and allow more innocents to safety, or do you have to let it run out and risk the hulk failing a much more difficult resistance roll? 

Casting a spell on someone while an existing spell of the exact same type is still in effect has no effect.

Limits to Spell Holding (page 254)

If your CHA isn’t *only* physical appearance, what happens to it if you possess another person’s body (Aka Shaman gift, or any other way)? Do you retain your charisma in the new body, do you now have their charisma, or a sort of merger of both? I’m assuming you keep yours, or you could lose spirit spells, but then could you still have 18 CHA as an ugly trolkin? 

Yes, but cap it at the species’ natural maximum.

For example, a trollkin possessed by a shaman with CHA 18 would be capped at CHA 14 (the trollkin max, 2D6 equaling 12+2 dice). This would be the Tom Hanks of trollkin.

The Focus (page 254)

What does Focused in a spell description mean? It is not referenced or explained. Should this be Active?

A focused spell requires a specific item (tattoo, physical object, amulet, etc.) to be concentrated upon when it is cast. See page 254 for the section titled The Focus.

Given that all Spirit Magic requires foci, doesn’t it make that term redundant?

It is possible to cast any spirit magic spell without a focus, but it takes two melee rounds to do so, the first round being spent in carefully visualizing the focal symbol necessary for the spell and the target it must affect.

Page 254

Thus, a spell with the Focused quality would require a focus, rather than just being faster to cast with one.

What does “focused” mean for a spell? Is it the same as active?

It’s an awkward overlap with the use of Focus as a symbol to concentrate on for the spell to be cast, but it means that you need to concentrate on the spell’s effect for the round it is cast. 

Spell Strike Rank (page 254)

First paragraph, first sentence changed from “…magic points of the spell, plus any boosting magic points.” to …magic points of the spell (minus the first), plus any boosting magic points.” Formula for at end of page changed to “DEX STRIKE RANK + ADDITIONAL MAGIC POINTS OF SPELL…” (Part of Second printing corrections).

How many Strike Ranks does it take to cast a Spirit Magic Spell? (pages 254 & 194)

Pages 254 & 194 appear to contradict each other.

This is updated / corrected text for page 254. It’s in the version going to press and in the updated .pdf

Befuddle (page 256)

A successfully Befuddled a creature has zero INT. Can it attempt to shake off the Befuddlement? Per the rules on RQG p.257, it appears not (unless the creature knows how to Meditate, which seems frankly unlikely). Defeating a Befuddle spell is usually easier for low-INT victims, but it seems to be impossible for a zero-INT victim. Was this intended?

Rules as written state that you must roll INTx5 for a creature with no INT. There’s always a 05% chance of success, though, and since this is a “roll higher than” effect that means that any roll of 06-00 will let the creature shake off the Befuddlement.

A victim of Befuddle may not attack, cast an offensive spell, sound the alarm, and so on. However, if attacked, they may parry and defend at full value.. […] Thus, with deceit or clever misdirection, a Befuddled opponent might end up attacking their own party for as long as the spell is in effect.

Befuddle pages 256-257)

Can one attack while under the effects of Befuddle? Fist entry indicates that no, it’s not possible. Second entry indicates that it is.

The “attacking” in the second instance should be “act against”

Spirit Magic Spells Table (page 257)


Is variable point spirit magic prices as individual points or as cumulative points.

  • heal 1 is 50L, is heal 2 100 L  (50+50)
  • or 150L (50 for 1 point + (50+50 for 2nd point)) 

The second. 

  • Heal 1 = 50
  • Heal 2 = 100 (or 150 if buying for the first time) 
  • Heal 3 = 150 (or 300 if buying for the first time) 
  • etc. 

The cost of a variable Spirit Magic spell is stated per point (eg Heal is “50 L per point”). Do you have to buy each point separately (so Heal 1 costs 50 L, Heal 2 costs 100 L, Heal 3 costs 150 L, for a total outlay of 300 L), or do you just spend the cost of the new point(s) every time you learn a more effective version of the spell (so Heal 3 costs 150 L total, but only costs 50 L if you already know Heal 2)?

The first method, so, using your example, Heal 1 costs 50 L, Heal 2 costs 100 L, Heal 3 costs 150 L, for a total outlay of 300 L. 

Control (entity) page 258

To control animal spirits with the “control (species)” spirit spell, what spirit spell I have to use to control a lion spirit (for example): control (animal spirit), control (large carnivorous mammal spirit) or control (lion spirit)?

Personally, I’d keep it simple, to Control (Animal Spirit) but a more detail-oriented gamemaster may wish to make things more focused with Control (specific type as per list in the RuneQuest Glorantha Bestiary p167-168). 

How specific is this spell is when applied to spirits. I’ve already told my shaman player that there can’t be a single Control Spirit which works on everything but I need to know how far he will have to specialise.

Look to the RuneQuest Glorantha Bestiary. You might break it down to Animal Spirits, Demons, Disease Spirits, Healing Spirits, Plant Spirits, Ghosts, Guardian Spirits, Landscape Spirits, Nymphs, etc.

The description implies that there is a separate Control for Elementals. Does this also imply a separate Control Fire Elemental, Control Wind Elemental etc? 

Yes. It’s Control Cult Spirit, which is usually specialized by type.

Is a discorporate human spirit a different thing if it’s living or dead? Do Wraiths need their own spell? What about nature spirits?

Yes, a discorporated human is a discorporated human, not technically a spirit. A human’s spiritual being whose “owner” is dead is a ghost or a wraith. Different things. Nature spirits are spirits.  

Countermagic (page 258-259)

Countermagic & Sorcery

How do you calculate the intensity of a Sorcery spell for the purposes of countermagic? As far as I can figure, the total intensity is 1 + the levels of intensity purchased, is that right?

That’s correct. 

Countermagic & Shield rune spell

Does the order of casting of Countermagic and Shield matter?

If I cast Countermagic 1 then Shield 2, does the Countermagic get taken down by the shield? If I cast Countermagic 3 then Shield 2, would the Shield 2 be blocked?

Do I need to cast them in the other order, with the Countermagic powerful enough to get past the Shield? e.g., if I cast Shield 1, do I need to cast Countermagic 4 in order to get them to stack (as a spell lower than 4 points would normally be countered by the Shield’s Countermagic 2)?

Or, do Countermagic and Shield always stack regardless of the order and power of the spells?

I think I covered this in Basic Roleplaying, but generally, a rule of thumb would be to start with the defender’s body as being the closest/last line of defense, and then work outward. 

  • Protection 1st
  • Shield 2nd
  • Countermagic 3rd 

So then from an outside attack, these would be in reverse order, with the attack hitting Countermagic first, then Shield, then Protection. 

Demoralize (page 259)

Can a discorporate shaman cast demoralize on incoming hostile spirits?  Does demoralize only work on beings with INT?

Yes, if the spirit has INT. Otherwise no.

Detect Spells (page 259), How do they work?

Does Countermagic protect (like it says in the Countermagic description), and if it does, does it protect against being detected? If it protects against having the spell cast on you, why do Detect spells all talk about letting the caster know stuff about what they’re detecting (as if they’re self-only, and the Range is the range at which they can detect things)? Does Detect knock down Countermagic?

Countermagic has no effect on Detect spells.

If you cast Detect Gold, you are aware of the gold armor Rurik Runespear is wearing – even if he has Shield 4 cast! (answer by Jeff Richard).

Detect (page 259) & Countermagic

Can someone can blow down Countermagic on several people by casting an appropriate Detect spell boosted by lots of magic points?

For example, lets say a group is walking into a a good ambush site an, wary of such, someone casts  Detect Enemies, and boosts it by 7 MPs, getting the spell up to 8 MPs. Now, will that Detect spell blow down  Countermagic spells of 6 points or less on any and all enemies within the range of the spell? 

Actually, let me clarify.

Detect does not affect or interact with Countermagic.

To keep it straight, Countermagic specifically prevents spells from affecting the target they’re cast upon, while Detect spells do not affect the target. 

Dispel Magic (page 260)

  • I am facing an enemy, and I suspect that she has magic cast on her – Fanaticism, Shield, Strength, whatever.
  • I cast Dispel Magic at her, to take down some of her advantages.
  • Does she get a resistance roll to the Dispel Magic, before it encounters her protective spells? Bear in mind that normally, resistance rolls happen AFTER a spell gets past defensive magic, not before.
  • What if I cast Dispel Magic on her sword to remove a Fireblade or Bladesharp – do I have to overcome her MP?

Please re-read the description of Dispel Magic on page 260, and the section Dispel, Dismiss, and Neutralize Magic also on 260. 

The defensive spells are hit first, then the personal resistance roll.

Dispel Magic & Sorcery Intensity

How do you calculate the intensity of a Sorcery spell for the purposes of countermagic / dispel? As far as I can figure, the total intensity is 1 + the levels of intensity purchased, is that right?

That’s correct. 

Farsee (page 261)

Does the Farsee spell make any difference to anything within the game system, or only the the value the GM assigns it ad hoc in a particular situation? Skills have no range penalties, and the spell description implies that Farsee makes no difference to missile or thrown weapon range or accuracy at range. 

It has no mechanic-specific effect on a case-by-case basis, but the gamemaster might interpret that as being able to use Perception-based skills like Insight, Scan, Search, or even Track at twice their ‘normal’ distance.

“Each point of this spell halves the apparent distance as seen by the caster to the rest of the universe”. It is also listed as a Ranged spell. Can Farsee be cast on someone else by the caster, or is it a spell that only works on the caster (and if the latter is the case, why is it a ranged spell then, and not a self spell?)

One of those weird nomenclature issues. It can be cast on others (that should be clarified) and has a long-range effect.

Firearrow (page 261)


The damage bonus still applies, halved for missile weapons as normal.


The damage bonus still applies, halved for thrown weapons as normal.

Fireblade (page 262)

Added sentence at the end of second paragraph “Though it is an active spell, the caster can still move and attack normally.” (Part of Second printing corrections)

I think there is a problem with Fireblade. A 4pt spell meant to be used by a melee combatant that has a better than even chance of going away if they take damage/are surprised/cast another spell is somewhere between totally overpriced and useless. Is this how you mean it to be?

It’s incredibly deadly for a spirit magic spell, doing 3d6 + damage bonus (11-14 pts. on average). That’s often enough to chew through most armor and incapacitate a limb, and has the chance of being a one-shot takedown if it hits the head, torso, or abdomen. It can do special/critical damage (it doesn’t say it doesn’t, so assume it does). You can parry or Dodge while the spell is up. If it is interrupted by failing the concentration check, it can be re-cast on the same weapon almost immediately.  

To us, that seems neither overpriced nor useless, but if you feel that it is, Your Glorantha May Vary. 

Does a Fireblade weapon slashing damage and double damage on a special success?


If someone has Fireblade on an iron sword, do they deal 2x the fireblade damage to a troll or elf? 

No. It is now magically a magical blade of fire, not iron. Roll for the Fireblade damage instead. 

Lantern (page 263)

The description says (Ranged, Temporal, Passive):
“This focused, passive spell…” => is focused in the sentence just a figure of speech and not related to Focused quality?

“focused” is used in the general sense, in that the spell is cast on a specific area. 

Parry (page 263)

Why doesn’t the spirit spell Parry doesn’t increase the armor of the shield/weapon… I mean if Bladesharp and all the others increase damage on top of the percentage, why not Parry? Seems a bit weak in comparison. 

We didn’t see the need to change the spell. Given that we’ve conflated attack and parry chances, it seemed to be overmuch to add additional hit points to a weapon.

Weapons breaking or being damaged is a core feature of RQ combat, so anything that moves away from that is not particularly desirable. 

Silence (page 264)

Does the Silence spell have to be used with the Move Quietly skill or does it have other applications (such as suppressing the noise of a person or horse when they are moving without attempting a Move Quietly roll)?

When used with Move Quietly does it only remove the penalty for noisy armour or does it have other effects (such as changing a fail to a success)?

The spell suppresses normal movement sounds, unless they are deliberately (or disastrously) made. 

The sounds generated while walking around in your armor (bronze chain rustling against bronze plates, sword scabbard rubbing against your hip, leather squeaking, sandals slapping on the ground, breathing, etc.) will be suppressed, as will the clop-clop of your horse’s hooves. 

So no, you don’t have to make a Move Quietly roll, but if you want to do anything specific that isn’t naturalistic movement, you should take that precaution. 

It doesn’t shift a success… it’s a binary thing. It covers some things, but not others. If you engage in combat while under the spell’s effect, the onlookers would see you, hear your combat sounds, but would not hear your normal movement sounds (except in the case of a fumble). 

Slow (page 264)

Is there any resistance role for the spell Slow or is it always successful?

Resistance roll, as it directly affects another living being independent of something the adventurer is doing. 

For example, Bladesharp doesn’t require a resistance roll as it’s just adding to the efficacy of an attack already being made. Slow is affecting another being usually in defiance of their preference. If someone were to cast Mobility on an unwilling subject, that should probably call for a resistance roll too.

Spirit Binding (page 265)

Binding spirits into familiars demands the use of special cult-bred animals described in the Spirits chapter.

Spirit Binding page 265

I couldn’t find any information about ‘special cult-bred animals’ in the Spirits chapter.

This (poorly) refers to the practice for cults to have animals sacred to that god kept and bred within the temple grounds. Ernalda temples are likely full of snakes, Orlanthi temples might keep a sacred cattle pen, Eiritha cows, Engizi a pool of fish, Issaries maybe birds, etc. 

Eurmal would have a bunch of raccoons who run around loose and get into other temples, because they’re like that.  On 2/17/2019 at 3:43 AM, CBDunkerson said:

What is this meant to refer to? The ‘allied spirits’ gained by rune master sound similar, but those are said to be sent by the god and have different listed abilities than bound spirits. At that, the term ‘familiar’ appears in the text of this spell and nowhere else in the book. Is a familiar the same thing as a spirit bound animal as described on page 250, or something else?

Yes, a familiar is a bound spirit animal.

Strength (page 255)

2 Points
Touch, Temporal, Passive 
This spell adds 8 points of STR to the target for the spell’s duration. This increases melee combat damage by one step on the Damage Bonus table on page 56 (e.g., from +1D4 to +1D6), increases all Agility and Manipulation skills (including weapon skills) as follows:

[see below]

It also enables the target to lift or carry heavier weights. Strength is incompatible with Vigor.

Strength page 265
Strength TablePage 255
STR Prior to SpellAgility and Manipulation Skills Increase

Damage Bonus
The modifier for damage an adventurer inflicts when physically striking or applying force is known as their damage bonus. This is an extra die roll, which is either added to, or subtracted from, the damage inflicted by a weapon or natural attack such as claw, bite, kick, etc. If a negative damage bonus takes a weapon’s damage to 0 or below, no damage has been inflicted. Add your adventurer’s STR and SIZ together and consult the Damage Bonus table:

Damage Bonus page 56
Damage Bonus TablePage 56
Damage BonusSTR+SIZ Damage Bonus
12 or less –1D4
25–32 +1D4
33–40 +1D6
Each +16 points AdditionalAdditional +1D6

By the chart after 41 STR+SIZ, easily possible for a lucky starting Bison Rider, an 8 point bonus to STR does not raise an adventurer to the next damage bonus. Does the Spell just do this by default? Does it do it in addition to increasibg STR by 8? Would a Bison Rider with 21 SIZ and 20 STR be able to get to a 3d6 damage bonus or is the spell just wasted?

The spell, along with the other characteristic-boosting spells, had two frustrating limitations: 

  1. Players had to refigure the relevant skill category modifiers and/or damage bonus to figure out what effect the spell had, which slows gameplay and introduces a potential for errors in calculation.
  2. It was possible to get no appreciable bonus (or only a very minor one) when going through all that paperwork. 

To address this, we decided to make it easier and quicker to simply have the skills and damage bonus bump up by a predefined amount. 

I’m not sure that rolling two 18s for STR and SIZ (total 36), modified by homeland (+2, for 38 total), plus Elemental Rune affinities (Air and the other would have to be Darkness… a weird combo for a Bison Rider, giving +3 more for a total of 41), qualifies as “easily possible”, but you might have better dice than I do. 

For someone with STR+SIZ of 42 or higher, then yes, it would bump them up one damage bonus rank (to +3D6) but would only functionally increase STR by +8 for the purpose of resistance rolls, etc. 

Vigor (page 267)

First sentence changed to “This spell adds 3 points to the CON of the target.” (Part of Second printing corrections).

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