CHA4028 RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – Chapter 12 Rune Cults Q&A

Official Answers from Chaosium


This covers the first part of Chapter 12, pages 268-288.


For the Cults see : Chapter 12 The Cults Q&A


Fundamentals of Rune Cults (page 270)

Fundamentals of Rune Cults / Divine Intervention (page 272)

If you have used all your Rune points, can you still ask for Divine Intervention by using your POW points?

No. It’s powered by a rune point.

It could be argued that at the time that the adventurer could sacrifice a point of POW for a rune point (providing they don’t exceed their CHA limit, and lose Rune rank) but that would be up to the GM, the situation and MGF.


Initiated and Initiates (pages 269 & 73)

Page 269 in the RQG book: “Most who belong to a cult are lay members, without any authority or position within the cult.”

Page 73 in the RQG book: “Nearly every adult is initiated into the cult of a specific deity.”

Which is it?

You’re confusing being initiated into a cult with being an initiate of that cult. Most everyone in the world is a member of one cult or another, a lay member. Only a small number take the test sacrifice a point of POW and gain a Rune point, and still fewer go on to become Rune Masters or God-talkers within that cult. 

I agree that the word choice on page 73 is confusing. A clearer version might be “Nearly every adult is a member of the cult of a specific deity.” 

For the purposes of player character adventurers, all are considered to be initiates, so the sentence on page 73 applies specifically to them.


Initiates (page 274)

Orlanthi Initiate and Lay Member numbers

In Orlanthi society (not the world) how many adults are Initiates? How many adults are lay members of cults?

Most members of a cult are lay members, with a small portion becoming initiates, and an even smaller subset becoming Priests, God-talkers, Rune Lords, Rune Priests, and a tiny few becoming Rune Lord-Priests.

As a rough guide, we use a rule of thumb that 1 in a 100 initiates are Rune levels.

If you need something more specific than that? Exact numbers? Population distribution? You’re the GM. You can decide those figures.

NPC Initiates

What are the non-PC initiates like? That is, we know the PCs are “exceptional.” What are non-exceptional Initiates like? How many Rune Points do they have, for example?

They’re not seasoned adventurers, and most likely are farmers, crafts- or trades-people. They likely have 1 Rune point and special Rune spell chosen based on personal or professional need, or something specific to their role, based on their cult and community.

What are the qualities that define “exceptional” when it comes to being an Initiate? What are the qualities of being a non-exceptional Initiate.

They’re not adventurers.

The rules are written to establish the Player Characters — and so mechanically we only have the information for exceptional people. Imagine the GM wants to understand why the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass that are around the PCs are like so he can create the culture and society that the PCs live within. In terms of Initiation, Rune Points, and Spells, what are the non-exceptional NPC Heortlings of Dragon Pass like?

Creating NPCs

Are the character creation rules regarding Rune Points and Rune spells  in RQG general principles for anyone growing up Orlanthi in Dragon Pass, or are they specific mechanics applicable to creating PCs alone?

This is a rules question as much as a setting question, because the GM needs to know how to build NPCs. If a different set of rules apply to creating NPCs, what are those rules? (Even accepting the fact that in RQG every NPC is a living breathing individual, and so everyone is unique, are there any general principles are guidance?)

We’ll be discussing this more in the Gamemaster Sourcebook and the Dragon Pass Sourcebook, but much of this kind of specific detail is really up to the gamemaster to determine. What role do you want an NPC to have? What function are they serving in your adventure or campaign? Why wouldn’t you consider those to be the primary concerns when creating an NPC? 

For specific examples, look to the adventures and source material in the Gamemaster Screen Pack, which covers a great many non-exceptional characters from townsfolk, guards, herders, farmers, and their ilk, all the way up to Queen Leika.  

This is the kind of general setting material the GM should be crafting based on their own needs, this not the stuff of rules clarification.

Jason Durall, RuneQuest Line editor

Common Rune Magic Box (page 275)

First bullet changed to “…Divination, Sanctify, and Summon Cult Spirit.” (Part of Second printing corrections).


Initiates / Becoming an Initiate

Does anything happens to cult status if an Initiate drops to 0 permanent Rune Points (again, due to DI or one-use spells, for instance)?

No.


Initiates / Benefits (page 275)

“To use the god’s magic, an initiate must spend Rune points equal to the points of the spell. The initiate’s maximum Rune points are equal to their CHA.”

Is this Rune Point restriction per character, or per cult per character? That is, if you’re “full” in one cult, could you join another in order to get space for more Rune Points through sacrifices in that cult?

Per cult per character. You can have up to your CHA in Rune points per cult. 

The advantage of multiple cult membership is of course access to more Rune magic and more Rune points to cast those spells with (and common spells which can be cast from either pool). 

The disadvantage is that you are required to uphold the responsibilities of both cults, which can be pretty serious and potentially in conflict.

Are God-talkers, Priests and Rune-Lords similarly restricted? On the one hand, it says “initiate” in the quote; on the other, nothing in the description of the higher ranks says that this restriction no longer applies for them. I’m assuming the answer here is “yes”, but I’m not certain.

Yes. CHA is the human limit. Some special beings, such as Tarndisi the Dryad from the Adventures book in the GM Pack, have more, but this is on a case-by-case basis and restricted to very special NPCs.


Rune Priests (page 275)

Benefits / Easier POW Gain Roll (page 276)

Are the +20% POW gain roll bonuses cumulative? As you can be both Rune Priest of one cult (+20% to POW gain roll) and God Talker of another (also +20% to POW gain roll), is the final gain +20% or +40%, benefiting of the help of 2 gods.

No.

Benefits / Further Training and Experience (page 277)

Page 277: Further Training and Experience topic, 2nd paragraph, last paragraph changed to “…occupational skills (see Experience Between Adventures, page 416).” (Part of Second printing corrections).

Rune Priests earn a 1 pt increase in cult spirit magic every year, does this mean Bladesharp 6 would ‘tick up’ into Bladesharp 7? Is this also the intent for how spirit spells are learned at increasing variables? You find someone with a Bladesharp 7 and they can improve your Bladesharp 6 to 7?

The 1-point increase is determined by the player and approved by the gamemaster, and is applied to one spell.

It might mean an existing spell increased by one level, or a new spell is gained from the list of existing cult spirit magic spells. 

You learn to improve your spirit magic by finding a teacher and paying them to teach you. Like any subject, they must know it themselves. 

The gamemaster should determine how available the teaching is and whether anyone in the desired area knows the spell at the desired level. It might be that some of the cost in L is for this research. It might also be that in some cases, a spell’s higher level is only available from pretty rarefied sources. Someone with Bladesharp 7 is going to be a pretty intensely dedicated warrior, and might not have the time to spend it teaching magic to newcomers.


Benefits / Allied Spirits (page 277)

Disembodied spirits can increase their POW by successful use of it, but their POW gain roll is only 5%.

RuneQuest Bestiary, page 164

So the same goes for Allied Spirits?

No. Allied Spirits inhabit animals or sacred cult objects (RQG page 227) and are not disembodied. Treat them as normal.

Is the allied spirit disembodied ?

No. Allied Spirits inhabit animals or sacred cult objects (RQG page 227) and are not disembodied.

In the allied spirits section of the rules (and in the Gods preview) some cults can get an elemental as an allied spirit. But there is nothing about how this would work in the rules. 

What size of elemental?

Check the maximum elemental size that can be summoned in the cult write-up. Eg

Argan Argar          Darkness elemental (small or medium)

Babeester Gor      Earth elemental (small)

Engizi                     Water elemental (small or medium)

Ernalda                   Earth elemental (any size)

Choose which size you want

Is it permanently incorporated or does it spend time discorporate or in an object?

Allied spirits are spirits sent by the deity to inhabit animals or sacred cult objects.

Allied Spirits, page 277

In this case an elemental.

However, some spirits (such as elementals, dryads, nymphs and other genius loci) can incorporate in the Material World, taking physical substance from their chosen matter.

Bestiary, embodied spirits, page 176

What are it’s stats? Does it have the normal 3D6 POW of an allied spirit?

Yes and No.

Rune Lord & Rune Priest Allied spirits are different

Yes, so a large Earth Elemental would have:

For a Rune Priest: STR 3D6+18, INT of 2D6+6, CHA of 3D6 & POW of 3D6.

For a Rune Lord: STR 3D6+18, INT of 2D6+6, CHA of 3D6 & POW of 3D6+6 Quote

if it is ‘killed’ through hit point loss, is it permanently dead and you need to do something heroic to gain a new allied spirit, or does it just need to be resummoned? 

When an elemental has been reduced to 0 hit points, it dissolves. Its spirit returns to its realm, from where it may be summoned again to inhabit another volume of material.

Bestiary, General properties, page 176

It returns to the divine realm it came from (as it’s a divine companion).

If an allied spirit is killed or destroyed, a new one may be obtained, but this is a matter for heroic deeds on the part of the priest.

Allied Spirits, page 277

If the POW of the animal is different to 3D6, does an allied spirit have the POW of the animal?

No, it uses the allied spirit’s POW. As before: 

Allied spirits are spirits sent by the deity to inhabit animals or sacred cult objects.

Allied Spirits, page 277

The two main sections for allied spirits are:

Rune Priests – Allying a Spirit, page 277.

Rune Lords – Allying a Spirit, page 280.

There is a difference between allied spirits and bound spirits, the main difference seems to be rune level access and rune magic access in the spirit.

Yes. Allied spirits are initiates in the cult they are part of. 

While I understand the enchantment ritual, I couldn’t find the exact way to bind a spirit.

Allied Spirits aren’t bound, they are persuaded.

Pages 277 & 280

Attempting to ally a spirit resembles attempting to bind it, but involves persuasion rather than combat.

But the spell Spirit Binding, when can it actually be used (assuming you have an item or animal ready)? Does a spirit have to be defeated in spirit combat first? Or does the spell require a successful POW vs POW? Or is it automatic success? Seems unlikely to me. Command Cult Spirit seems to mention POW vs POW.

There is no resistance roll, but a persuasion roll:

To determine whether the attempt works, the priest must persuade the spirit by defeating the spirit’s (POW+INT/2) with their (POW+CHA/2) as a resistance roll.

pages 277 & 280

Please note that an allied spirit is not summoned:

Allied spirits are spirits sent by the deity

When a priest first obtains their office, they can attempt to gain an allied spirit as part of the investment ceremony.

page 277

Also, to get an allied spirits you need to be Rune Level as I understand it, does the animals get provided by the cult? Shadowcat, bear, for Odayla?

Depending on the cult, they will either provide the object or animal, or the adventurer will provide their own specially prepared animal or item:

Many cults provide an allied spirit for their Rune Priests.

Allied spirits are spirits sent by the deity to inhabit animals or sacred cult objects.

These creatures and objects are always appropriate to the cult.

page 277

If I have Shield up, and my embodied Allied spirit is hit by a Befuddle spell, am I also Befuddled? And vice versa?

No, it’s mind-to-mind communication, you are not part of a Gestalt unless your GM rules otherwise .

Can my embodied Allied spirit cast (presumably helpful) spells on me (“through the ally (and vice versa)”) without worrying about defensive magics such as Shield and Countermagic?

Yes, unless your GM rules otherwise.

Would it matter if the Ally is in contact with you (say, in your Sword) or separate (in a bird)?

No, although spell ranges would matter.


Benefits / Spell Teaching (page 277)

Does a Shaman, Priest, or Spirit teaching a spirit magic spell loose the knowledge of the spell when they teach it? 

No.

Learning Spirit Magic

A shaman may learn any spirit magic spell desired (unless a specific spell is forbidden to the shaman for other reasons, such as a cult restriction or taboo) and without cost. The shaman merely goes to the Spirit World to speak with the relevant spirit, and then makes a focus for the spell. A shaman can do this once per day.

How does this work for priests and cults without shaman’s?

Rune priests, lords and god talkers may teach any cult spells that are listed under Cult Spirit Magic:

Cult Spirit Magic: These are the spirit magic spells taught by the cult, typically at a reduced price. An initiate can also learn spirit magic spells from an associated cult.

Cult Spirit Magic, page 288

A priest can teach any spirit magic spell the priest knows to any member of the cult, including Lay Members.

Rune priests, Spell Teaching, page 277

As with Rune Priests, a God-talker may teach other cult members the spirit magic spells they know.

God talkers, benefits, page 278

A Rune Lord can teach any spirit magic spell they know to any member of the cult, including lay members.

Rune Lords, Spell Teaching, page 281

Do cults have specific spirits which are summoned by priests to teach spell to initiates as they did in the previous version of the game?

RuneQuest Glorantha does not specify the mechanism of the week long ritual.

Can a priest teach a spell he does not know, if it is a cult spell?

No. please note:

Spell teaching is an important source of income for the cult. Most temples require that Rune Priests provide a certain amount of spell teaching for free to initiates and other members of the hierarchy.

page 277

It would be a rare priest that does not know a cult spell.

Can a priest teach a spell that he knows if it is not a cult spell?

Yes, it says any spirit magic spell.

This seems wrong as it sets up a situation that a priest can not teach a cult spirit spell, but can teach a non-cult spell.

If you don’t know the spell, you can’t teach it

It would be a rare priest that does not know a cult spell and not provide an important source of income for the cult. Although there could be a group of priests at a temple who between them can teach them all. Alternatively you could just say that when building your temple hierarchy that all priests know their cult spirit magic. 

This is the kind of general setting material the GM should be crafting based on their own needs, this not the stuff of rules clarification.

Jason Durall, RuneQuest Line editor

If you wish to have Rune priests that don’t know cult spells in your game, that’s fine.


Benefits / Divine Intervention (page 278)

What happens when you drop below a Rune Point requirement for a cult position, due to one use spells or DI? Reasonably, that should result in a suspended position similar to when a Priest drops below 18 POW, but it’s not in the rules.

It’s all covered in the rules

God-talkers use the same rules as Rune Priests (RQG page 278)

Rune Lords are unaffected as their status is CHA based, so no rule needed.

Rune Lord-Priests are effectively treated as Rune Priests (RQG page 281)

Chief or High Priests have no Rune Point requirement for their rank.


Rune Lords (page 278)

Requirements for Rune Lords (page 280)

They [Rune Lords] must possess a CHA of at least 18.

Requirements for Rune Lords, page 280

Do Rune Lords always need a Charisma of 18?

No, but almost all human Rune Lord cults do. 

The core book deals exclusively with human adventurers.

However, some cults (e.g. Humakt, Kyger Litor, and Zorak Zoran) mention this requirement specifically in their cult write-ups, suggesting that it may not be a requirement across all cults.  

It is clarified where it seems necessary.

In particular, this requirement is a problem for Tusk Riders (and some breeds of trolls) who cannot achieve a CHA of 18 (due to having 1D6 or 2D6 for CHA).

The requirements for the Leaders (Bloody Tusk Rune Lords) do not include CHA. See page 70 of the Glorantha Bestiary for more info.

For Kyger Litor, becoming a Karrg’s Son (Rune Lord) requires a CHA 18+, which pretty much limits it to Mistress Race and dark trolls. It is much easier to become a priestess in this cult, with no CHA requirement. 

For Zorak Zoran, becoming a Death Lord (Rune Lord) also requires a CHA 18+

In the adventure booklet, Xiobalg is described as “ready to claim Rune Lord status on his return to the Ivory Plinth”, yet he has a Charisma of 4, suggesting the CHA 18 requirement might not apply to the cult of the Bloody Tusk.

See above. 

It’s not intended to be equitable: these harsh gods want the most charismatic leaders to serve in positions of power within their ranks. 

That said, it is ultimately your RuneQuest, your Glorantha. An exceptional character can potentially have the requirements waived through notable service to the god and/or the cult, or through some other exemplary attributes.

A Rune Lord might drop below the skill requirements due to characteristic loss, such as from aging. Does that result in no effect once you’re already admitted, being put on probation, or getting booted out? Or is that a GM call?

If an adventurer loses characteristics and falls below rune level requirements, it’s up to the GM to decide what repercussions there are, if any.


Benefits / Improved Resistance to Magic (page 281)

First sentence replaced with “A Rune Lord always resists magic with their species maximum POW and not their current POW.” (Part of Second printing corrections).


Benefits / Spell Teaching (page 281)

Does a Shaman, Priest, or Spirit teaching a spirit magic spell loose the knowledge of the spell when they teach it? 

No.


Benefits / Further Training and Experience (page 281)

Rune Lords earn a 1- pt increase in cult spirit magic every year, does this mean Bladesharp 6 would ‘tick up’ into Bladesharp 7? Is this also the intent for how spirit spells are learned at increasing variables? You find someone with a Bladesharp 7 and they can improve your Bladesharp 6 to 7?

The 1-point increase is determined by the player and approved by the gamemaster, and is applied to one spell.

It might mean an existing spell increased by one level, or a new spell is gained from the list of existing cult spirit magic spells. 

You learn to improve your spirit magic by finding a teacher and paying them to teach you. Like any subject, they must know it themselves. 

The gamemaster should determine how available the teaching is and whether anyone in the desired area knows the spell at the desired level. It might be that some of the cost in L is for this research. It might also be that in some cases, a spell’s higher level is only available from pretty rarefied sources. Someone with Bladesharp 7 is going to be a pretty intensely dedicated warrior, and might not have the time to spend it teaching magic to newcomers.


Becoming a Chief or High Priest (page 282)

Change in requirements

Qualify to Found Own Temple of the Cult: To do this, a Rune Priest or Rune Lord must have a minimum of 15 Rune points and 90% ability in three cult Knowledge skills. This often requires the permission of the High Priest, which is easy to get if the Priest goes somewhere else to set up the temple, and has sufficient funds to do so.

page 282

replace with 

Qualify to Found Own Temple of the Cult: To do this, a Rune Priest or Rune Lord must have the support of at least 150 lay members and initiates that will follow them to the new temple. This often requires the permission of the High Priest, which is easy to get if the Priest goes somewhere else to set up the temple, and has sufficient funds to do so.


Cult Rune Spell Use Box (page 283)

Example, second sentence changed to “She has gained the Summon Air Elemental special Rune spell directly from Orlanth.”third sentence changed to “…from that subcult, and gained Increase/Decrease Wind as a member of the Orlanth Thunderous subcult.” (Part of Second printing corrections).


Associate Cults (page 283)

What does it mean when an associated cult provides a skill, such as Waha for Eiritha? :

Waha: Provides the Peaceful Cut skill.

Waha page 306

Everyone already has it at base chance, and I can’t see that you gain any additional chance at it, so it doesn’t seem to do anything by the rules. 

“Provides” as in “Provides training in” as per cult-based skill training. 

When casting a Rune spell acquired from an associate cult. For spells listed with the “R” Magic Rune, it says (RQG page 317) these spells can be used “with any cult Affinity rune”. Same page, in the table “Common Rune Magic”, it says, “Any Rune of the cult providing the spell may be used to cast a spell indicated with the R Rune.”

So if I’ve gotten a Rune spell from an Associated cult, marked with the “R” Magic Rune in its description, do I use one of my cult’s Runes to cast it … or a Rune of the Associated cult?

If I’m not mistaken there are only two spells that are not common that this would apply to: Axis Mundi & Discorporation and neither are given to associate cults.


Temple Sizes (page 284)

How does one set up a new shrine for a Rune cult?

The book talks about this being a thing one might be asked to do by one’s cult but only details of how to start a spirit shrine are given.

This is a task beyond any hard-and-fast rules set. You’ll need to work with your gamemaster to determine the costs of the physical location, the social/civil negotiation required to build it, the procurement of labor and materials, and the process of having a Rune Priest or God-talker come in and Sanctify the place. If in doubt, consider it a case of casting a multi-point Sanctify with Extension to last at least a year. The particular god may have requirements above and beyond these, such as Ernalda demanding an underground chamber, Yelm an eternal fire, etc. 

The upcoming RuneQuest Campaign Guide contains a bit more about temples and shrines, with some ballpark prices, but does not go into great detail.

Can you get a larger temple size with fewer worshippers if the worshippers sacrifice more than the required minimum of magic points?

No, but there are likely other magical reasons this may happen.


Wyters (page 286)

Wyters spend POW instead of Rune Points to cast spells. 

Do they have a means of recovering POW other than normal POW gain rolls? If so what is it, if not what is their POW gain roll?

Until we go into more detail on wyters, assume that wyters may have POW restored by their bound priests sacrificing POW to them.

 (if they can not recover Rune Points more quickly, that would seem to make using the POW of a Wyter that way a desperation move for a community)

Exactly so. The wyter is a guardian, not a weapon.

Some of the wyters also have a separate number of Rune Points listed – what does this mean, if they don’t use Rune Points to cast spells?

Those wyters described with Rune points can use those Rune points in place of characteristic POW, and can recover their Rune points in the same fashion as adventurers. 

Are there wyters with less than 50 worshippers?

It’s certainly possible to have one as the result of some calamity affecting its community.

Do wyters get weaker if they lose worshippers?

That will depend on the situation causing the loss. I can imagine a wyter that has lost its community and only has a few magic points left being rescued by adventurers. 

What happens to a wyter if the number of their worshippers drops below 50?

Depends on its situation. In all of these cases use the guidance on page 11:

When playing and gamemastering in Glorantha, let your imagination go wild. Ignore that voice that demands rational thought and empirical data, and draw upon your unconscious fantasies. Draw upon dreams, folklore, and mythology.

Keeping it Fantastic, page 11

For the Cults see : Chapter 12 The Cults Q&A

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