CHA4028 RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – Chapter 15 Spirits & the Spirit World Q&A

Official Answers by Chaosium


This covers Chapter 15, pages 365-79

Spirit rune

SectionPagesNotes
Spirit runeCharacteristics of Spirits365
Spirit runeNegotiating with Spirits365
Spirit runeBound Spirits366
Spirit runeSpirit Combat366-371Already in melee!
Spirit runeSpirit runeSpirit Combat ResultsAmalgamated results in one table
Spirit runeThe Spirit World371-377
Spirit runeSpirit Cults377-378
Spirit runeSpirit runeSample Spirit Cults378
Spirit runeSpirit runeSpirit runeBlack Fang Brotherhood378-379
Spirit runeSpirit runeSpirit runeOakfed379

Spirit rune

Spirit rune

Negotiating with Spirits (page 365)

Within a range of 1 meter per point of the sensing spirit’s POW, spirits can sense the POW of other spirits to within 10 points, 5 points above or below their own.

Negotiating with Spirits (page 365)

Does that mean they can estimate the POW score of the other entity, but if that other entity has a POW that is 5 points above or below their own, they can only say “it’s way stronger/weaker than me“?

Yes.

I use feels stronger (above 5pts), feels similar (within +/- 5pts), feels weaker (below 5pts). I avoid way stronger unless I want them to back away.


Spirit Combat (page 366)

The first and most important is that the Attacking with Weapons and Spells section is part of the Spirit Combat section not the Combat Chapter.

Note that it specifically says: 

They may choose to attack the spirit attacking them using enchanted weapons (see below) without succeeding at a concentration check.

Combatants, page 366

and that this is the only specific instance that Spirit combat is not resolved on Strike Rank 12:

Spirit combat is always resolved on strike rank 12 of each melee round, regardless of any other actions taken by the characters. If a spirit is attacked with physical weapons or spells, that is resolved on the attacker’s normal melee strike rank.

Strike Rank, page 368

Note that:

The physical attack is resolved normally

Attacking with Weapons and Spells, page 369

The player rolls the adventurers relevant weapon ability (with augments, magical bonuses, etc) and checks the result using that score for critical, special, success, fail, miss, fumble. If the adventurers weapon ability or the spirit’s Spirit Combat score is over 100%, reductions occur as normal.

When using a sword with True Sword cast on it to attack a spirit that has manifested, does the spirit roll its spirit combat rating as a defense maneuver similar to the dodge mechanic; i.e compare levels of success?

The Humakti player rolls their weapon attack ability and the spirit rolls its spirit combat ability. The usual results apply: critical beats a special beats a success beats a fail. For example if the Humakti criticals and the spirit rolls a success, the Humakti wins. 

The results are compared using the Resolving Spirit Combat section:

Winner and a Loser: The winner succeeds and the loser fails. The winner does spirit combat damage to the loser.

Resolving Spirit Combat, page 368

If the Humakti wins, only the magical part of damage is rolled:

For example, True Sword would do 1D8+1 if cast on a broadsword.

Attacking with Weapons and Spells, page 370

This damage is magic points, and subtracted from the spirits Magic Points, taking into account of any magical defences that subtract from the Magic Point damage.

If the spirit wins, the spirit rolls their Spirit Combat damage and subtracts it from the Humakti’s Magic Points. Likewise taking into account of any magical defences that subtract from the Magic Point damage.

Tie: A tie (where both participants succeed but achieve the same quality of result) means the situation is temporarily unresolved. If both participants rolled a critical success, the result is a tie. Both parties do spirit combat damage to the other.

Resolving Spirit Combat, page 368

Nothing happens unless the tie is a critical, then both do the same as a Winner above.

Two Losers: Both participants fail their roll. Nothing happens unless one of the rolls is a fumble (in which case, roll on the Spirit Combat Fumble table).

Resolving Spirit Combat, page 368

If the Humakti wielding the sword has a gift of Humakt to double the damage of the sword that gets through armor, would this blessing double the damage done by the True Sword spell to the spirit?

The Gift is from a god and so is magical. It only doubles the magical damage. So in the above example with a broadsword, roll 1D8+1, subtract any damage reduction the spirit may have then double the magic point damage. So if 5 is rolled, and the spirit has no defences, 5 doubled is 10 so the spirit loses 10 Magic points.

If the Humakti was only using Bladesharp 4, the damage would be 4, subtract any damage reduction the spirit may have then double the magic point damage. So with no subtraction that would be 8 Magic Points. Note that Bladesharp does not harm most spirits,

Can the Humakti use the True Sword to parry the spirit’s bite attack special spirit ability? Can it cause damage to the spirit on a successful parry vs. a failed bite attack?

No. This is spirit combat.

You may find this Spirit Combat results table useful:

Spirit Combat Results

CriticalSpecialNormalFailFumble
CriticalTie. Both roll Spirit Combat Damage twice, bypasses armor. Corporeal targets physically damaged.Winner rolls Spirit Combat Damage twice, bypasses armor. Corporeal target physically damaged.Winner rolls Spirit Combat Damage twice, bypasses armor. Corporeal target physically damaged.Winner rolls Spirit Combat Damage twice, bypasses armor. Corporeal target physically damaged.Winner rolls Spirit Combat Damage twice, bypasses armor. Corporeal target physically damaged. Loser rolls on Spirit Combat Fumble table.
SpecialWinner rolls Spirit Combat Damage twice, bypasses armor. Corporeal target physically damaged.TieWinner doubles Spirit Combat Damage. Corporeal target physically damaged.Winner doubles Spirit Combat Damage. Corporeal target physically damaged.Winner doubles Spirit Combat Damage. Corporeal target physically damaged. Loser rolls on Spirit Combat Fumble table.
NormalWinner rolls Spirit Combat Damage twice, bypasses armor. Corporeal target physically damaged.Winner doubles Spirit Combat Damage. Corporeal target physically damaged.TieWinner rolls Spirit Combat Damage.Winner rolls Spirit Combat Damage.  Loser rolls on Spirit Combat Fumble table.
FailWinner rolls Spirit Combat Damage twice, bypasses armor. Corporeal target physically damaged.Winner doubles Spirit Combat Damage. Corporeal target physically damaged.Winner rolls Spirit Combat Damage.TieTwo Losers Fumble rolls on Spirit Combat Fumble table.
FumbleWinner rolls Spirit Combat Damage twice, bypasses armor. Corporeal target physically damaged. Loser rolls on Spirit Combat Fumble table.Winner doubles Spirit Combat Damage. Corporeal target physically damaged. Loser rolls on Spirit Combat Fumble table.Winner rolls Spirit Combat Damage. Loser rolls on Spirit Combat Fumble table.Two Losers Fumble rolls on Spirit Combat Fumble table.Tie, both roll on Spirit Combat Fumble table.

Spirit rune

A PC has 80% great axe skill and 75% spirit combat skill. The first two options are obvious. In this scenario, no opponent skills are higher than 100%.

The PC is in melee with a physical enemy, he can attack and parry at 80%.

The PC is in melee with two physical enemies, he can attack and parry one at 80%, he can parry the other at 60%.

The PC is in melee with one physical enemy and one spirit. He chooses to continue to attack and parry the physical enemy. The spirit engages in spirit combat.

Does the PC get to defend with his spirit combat skill?

Firstly the adventurer knows that the spirit is going to attack:

If a spirit wishes to attack a corporeal being, the spirit makes itself visible in the Middle World the melee round prior to its first attack.

RQG, Initiating Spirit Combat, page 366

So in the Statement of Intent, the GM has either announced a spirit is manifesting to attack or the GM has announced that previous round and this round spirit combat starts. I will assume it’s the second.

The adventurer is in spirit combat for the whole round, culminating with the exchange on SR12.

This is a problem for your adventurer, he’s already fighting two other physical foes:

Once a corporeal being is engaged in spirit combat, they may not attempt any skill or engage in physical melee combat with a separate physical melee target without first succeeding at an intelligence check (normally INT×5, but the gamemaster may adjust that up or down, as desired).

RQG, Combatants, page 366

He’s in combat with two other combatants so for the first one needs to succeed in an INTx5 to even attack and parry. The second one also needs a roll, personally I’d make that an INTx4, for the second (unless the first fails). Depending on the the results, he may or may not get to attack and parry the first one, and may or may not get to parry the second one. It’s possible if he succeeds at the second INT roll, but not the first, the parry will be at full value.

Failing the INT roll against either, will mean an unopposed roll against him.

Now the Spirit combat. This is resolved normally as it’s the main aim of the round. No reductions.

Is it reduced by 20% as it is his second defense?

No it’s not a defense (see above).

If so, let’s say the PC rolls well on all three rolls, inflicting some damage on the physical enemy. The PC also rolls a special (07) in Spirit Combat and the spirit only achieves a normal success. Thus the PC wins the Spirit Combat as well. Does he get to inflict his normal spirit combat damage (e.g. d6+1) on the spirit?

Yes, assuming the INT rolls are made. But note: 

On a special success, the rolled spirit damage is doubled.

RQG, Spirit Combat Damage, page 368

See the Spirit Combat Results table above

Or because the PC choose to attack physical, he gets a Spirit Combat skill roll to defend. But if he wins the contest, he does not get to inflict MP damage on the spirit.

No. The adventurer is in spirit combat.

Or because the PC choose to attack physically, he gets no Spirit Combat skill roll. The spirit only needs to roll its Spirit Combat skill, and if it succeeds it destroys some MP.

No, he’s in spirit combat.

I will say this came up in my game. I thought the PC would get to defend with his Spirit Combat skill, just like he could still defend against a spell. The PC did special, the spirit did not even succeed (I think the roll was a 97). And the PC finished off two opponents in the same round, which seemed odd in ‘defense’. Of course, if he was attacked by two wolves, he could potentially defeat them both with parry rolls (special parry vs failed wolf attack, against the head, enough damage to knock them unconscious). So it seems plausible, other than it seems the PC is engaging in both physical combat and spirit combat at the same time.

In this situation, fighting three opponents while engaged in spirit combat is likely to be problematic. Solutions usually involve:

  • Disengaging from Melee, Flee:, page 195
  • If the character is an assistant shaman or shaman, they may themselves attempt a Spirit Dance roll.
  • Cast spirit block (common rune magic) to reduce damage from the spirit combat
  • Augment your spirit combat (will last will last whole spirit combat)
  • Augment your INT roll (will last will last whole spirit combat)
  • Having someone more able in spirit combat cast Distraction on the spirit.

What happens if the character in spirit combat wants to use his weapon against the spirit because his spirit combat skills are terrible? Would he oppose the spirit combat with his appropriate weapon skill?

No, he has run out of Strike ranks this the only specific instance that Spirit combat is not resolved on Strike Rank 12:

Spirit combat is always resolved on strike rank 12 of each melee round, regardless of any other actions taken by the characters. If a spirit is attacked with physical weapons or spells, that is resolved on the attacker’s normal melee strike rank.

RQG, Strike Rank, page 368

it may cause damage as long as the weapon wields magical damage:

the magic point damage from physical weapons is based on its magical nature

RQG, Attacking with Weapons and Spells, page 369

Spirit rune

What about spirit combat and physical attack at the same time? I see several spirits in The Smoking Ruin have a physical attack also. Does this mean they engage in both each round freely?

It’s resolved using spirit combat as it’s a semi-material spirit weapon. That is the spirit’s spirit combat attack. They do not have a second attack unless listed under their spirit abilities.

With Spirit Dart (missile) or Spirit Weapon (melee), if the weapon has a Strike Rank, use that, otherwise use SR12 as usual:

Spirit combat is always resolved on strike rank 12 of each melee round, regardless of any other actions taken by the characters. If a spirit is attacked with physical weapons or spells, that is resolved on the attacker’s normal melee strike rank.

RQG, Strike Rank, page 368

For MGF on a spirit combat fumble, a GM could decide to change an outcome to:

Weapon used in attack dropped (takes 1D3 rounds to recover), leaving the attacker to use a normal SR12 attack and normal spirit combat damage.

Finally spirits that can manifest a physical form (solid form, RQB page 167), use their physical attack if manifest or spirit attack if not, not both.

If they use these physical spirit attacks, they are then counted on as if engaged in spirit combat, I must assume from your answer.

Yes, the weapon is semi-material.

A possible spirit physical attack. But it also says it has the Elemental form power. What would it mean if it uses it? Or is it more there to signify a flaming nature only? Or does that ability add something in game mechanics?

This one is a bit more complex. It’s a discorporate spirit using spirit combat for everything until the GM decides it switches to its Elemental Form. Then it’s embodied (medium size) and switches to normal melee, and can use an engulfing fire elemental attack or its weapon. As an elemental, it has no DEX and so any engulfing attack happens on SR12. 13 hours ago, Runeblade said:

And if it casts Fireblade the 3D6 attack is assumed purely physical in accordance to the spell.

Yes and physical armour would help.

As with all encounters, alway look over the creature and get a feel for its melee tactics (if needed). Here, its main tactic would appear to be stay as a spirit and cast Fireblade on its weapon.


Combatants (page 366)

Alice is in a spirit combat with Spit the spirit, a pretty nasty spirit who has lots of magic points.

Luckily, her friends Bob, Charlie, and Dave are around. Bob knows the Disruption spell, Charlie has True Sword on their broadsword, and Dave has a bow and a bunch of enchanted iron arrows in his quiver.

Now, can Bob cast Disruption on Spit the spirit while the said spirit is in spirit combat with Alice?

If the GM has said that Bob can see the spirit, and Bob has declared his action in Statement of Intent.

What effect would a successful casting of Disruption have against Spit?

If successful, the spirit loses 1D3 magic points.

Can Spit the spirit retaliate in any way against Bob while engaged in spirit combat with Alice?

Unless the spirit has an ability to use two attacks, and one is ranged, no.

Is there any chance that the Bob’s spell would instead hit Alice?

No, there are no hit other options on the Spirit Combat Fumble table (page 370) Attacking a spirit with a spell is spirit combat. If Bob’s disruption casting Fumbles, he uses the spirit combat fumble table. 

Can Charlie strike Spit the spirit (that is in spirit combat with Alice) with the True Sworded broadsword?

If the GM has said that Charlie can see the spirit, and Charlie has declared his action in Statement of Intent.

If they can, what effect would a successful hit have against Spit the spirit, and how would Charlie’s attack be resolved?

Resolved using standard spirit combat actions. Charlie may loose.

Can Spit the spirit retaliate against Charlie in any way while in spirit combat with Alice?

Unless the spirit has an ability to use two attacks, no. The spirit uses its spirit combat against the weapon attack, but cannot initiate a separate attack otherwise.

Is there a chance that Charlie’s sword would instead hit Alice? 

No, there are no hit other options on the Spirit Combat Fumble table (page 370) Attacking a spirit with a weapon is spirit combat. If Charlie’s weapon attack Fumbles, he uses the spirit combat fumble table.

Finally, can Dave shoot an arrow at Spit the spirit while it’s engaged in spirit combat with Alice?

What effects would a successful hit have against Spit the spirit, and how would Dave’s attack be resolved?

Could Dave miss Spit and instead hit poor Alice?

Can Spit retaliate against Dave while engaged in spirit combat with Alice?

Same answers as above.

Spirit rune

Shouldn’t fighting a dozen spirits be harder than fighting one?

Not if your occupation is shaman. However the more spirits, greater the chance that one will attack will get through. If you want to make it harder for a shaman, mob them.

A shaman character in my campaign has just fought three  Disease Spirits at once. None of them had any chance of getting through his defences without critical hits. This seems wrong.

Shaman are the spirit specialists of Glorantha. Consider having the disease spirit disengage and go for a softer target…


Resolving Spirit Combat (page 368)

Tie: A tie (where both participants succeed but achieve the same quality of result) means the situation is temporarily unresolved. If both participants rolled a critical success, the result is a tie. Both parties do spirit combat damage to the other.

Resolving Spirit Combat, page 368

Does this mean in a case of a tie (same quality of result) both parties do spirit combat damage to one another only on a critical, or in all cases of a tie?

On a critical. That’s the order of the instructions.

Spirit rune

Can spirit in a spirit combat cast more than one spirit magic spell per round?

Yes, just follow the standard rules. For obvious reasons, spirits are unlikely to cast much offensive magic in spirit combat.

Likewise, if you choose the spirit magic power when creating a spirit. that should be detailed in advance if you want to avoid ambiguity. If you want a spirit that fires a Disruption every SR, then note it in the description.


Attacking with Weapons and Spells (page 369)

Spirit rune

Temporary damage boosts from Rune spells do harm spirits

Temporary damage from spirit magic does not harm most spirits.

What about temporary damage boosts from sorcery spells.  Do they harm spirits or not?

Yes.

Spirit rune

There seems to be the emphasis that corporeal beings can harm spirits with spells such as disrupt. 

Can discorporate shamans harm spirits with disrupt or is that possible only because the spirit attacking corporeal beings has manifested on the mundane plane?

The latter. (Though this might be revised at some point)

Spirit rune

The physical attack is resolved normally, but opposed by the spirit’s Spirit Combat skill. However, the magic point damage from physical weapons is based on its magical nature:

Attacking with Weapons and Spells, page 369

Clarification

Use the Resolving Spirit Combat section. 

Spirit combat is not simply not as complex as physical combat. Quite a few results from the Attack & Parry Results table will create additional problems, or describe results that are incompatible with spirit combat (weapon damage, hit locations, and most of the Fumbles table). 

When you hit a spirit with an enchanted/magical weapon, in most cases you are hitting them with the magic inherent or overlaying that weapon, not the weapon itself. Thus the corporeal/physical aspect of the weapon is not relevant.

Jason Durall, RuneQuest Line Editor.

Possession (page 370)

Can Spirit Binding be cast on a spirit possessing a person?

No. It specifically say in the possession section that if you do budge the spirit:

cannot choose to keep such a spirit in bondage

Possession, page 371

Could a spirit actively engage in spirit combat with another once they have possessed a person?

No. Once an appropriate spirit has possessed a person it becomes corporate – it has a body.

Spirit combat may occur between two discorporate entities (entirely within the Spirit World) or between a discorporate entity and an embodied entity (such as a human being) in the Middle World. It may not normally occur between two entities that reside entirely in the Middle World. 

Initiating Spirit Combat, page 366

In what ways can a person possessed by a spirit get rid of it (with the help of others)?

Only others can rid someone of possession. page 372 says: Quote

The possessor can only be exorcised (see page 358) by another spirit or shaman.

Possession, page 371

Then:

Then, using the proper spirit (such as bringing healing spirits to fight against disease spirits, etc.), or by becoming discorporate, the shaman engages the spirit in spirit combat.

Exorcism, page 358

Could the possession, in some cases, be seen as permanent – the spirit walks away with the body?

Depending on the type of possession, Yes.

See dominant & covert possession on page 371 & 371 and the Bestiary. 

Would a person possessed by a spirit immediately return to be the conscious master of a body once the possessing spirit has been rid of? 

Yes, plus appropriate MGF roleplaying.

Can a spirit possessing a person use their Rune and Spirit magic?

No, replace the INT and POW.

and all their abilities/skills?

Would it be assumed to add, or replace with their own, skills or magic? Or would this vary? I could see there could be a bit of YGMV or GM’s choice here depending on what story is nice, but I’d be interested in the general take in this from a rules perspective.

Go for MGF as always.


The Spirit World

Describing the Spirit World (page 371)

What items can you bring with you on a Spirit Travel? None? Magical only? Nothing, but you can find stuff there?

In the rulebook, at least (some) clothing and a mask seem to be along for the travel, although I suppose that could be purely cosmetic.

Do you bring the actual items, or spirit copies of them?

Everything has a spirit, so when you discorporate, everything you carry appears as its spirit form (this needn’t look the same). Those items unless specially prepared are unlikely to function as they did in the Middle World. Generally speaking, magic items and enchanted metals, function as expected. Weapons are already covered in the spirit magic section. If you want armour – Spirit Armor Enchantment. 


Regions of the Spirit World (page 374)

Last paragraph rewritten/replaced with “Moving deeper into the Spirit World imposes a modifier to Spirit Travel. Each step away from the Inner Region reduces the shaman’s Spirit Travel skill by -10% per step. Returning has the opposite modifier. It is always easier to return in the direction of the Inner World.” (Part of Second printing corrections).


Sample Spirit Cults (page 378)

Black Fang & Oakfed Special Cult Rune Magic (page 379)

The Spirit Cults in the rulebook have numbered Rune Spells, like Multispell 1, when this isn’t doesn’t make sense in and isn’t supported by the rest of the rules, and is likely just a remnant from earlier versions.

Ignore the numbers, they will be removed in a future printing.


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