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

Official Answers from Chaosium

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This covers the first part of Chapter 11, pages 253-256.

For the Spirit Magic spells see : Chapter 11 Spirit Magic Spells Q&A

See also the Red book of Magic


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    Learning Spirit Magic (page 253)

    When an adventurer gets a free point of Spirit Magic for time passed, can it then be used to ”upgrade” an existing Spirit Magic spell as well? 


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    Do the variable Spirit Magic Spells have to be learned one point at a time? Say, if you have no Bladesharp, and want to learn Bladesharp 4, does it take four weeks or only one?

    One week.

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    Learning Bladesharp 1 alone takes one week…

    Learning Bladesharp 1, and 2, and 3, and 4, and 5, and 6 takes…. one week…


    I’m obviously missing something! (especially when we remember to add the rule that says if you defeat a spirit in Spirit Combat, you can force it to give you knowledge of one of its spells – instantly!)

    Yes, as the Q&A says, the mechanism of spell teaching is not discussed, but it’s a guaranteed and safe way to learn a new spirit magic. Spirit combat is a dangerous way of learning new spirit magic if you are not a shaman. Normally you can’t initiate spirit combat,  and if you win the spirit may have inappropriate, forbidden, or no magic for you to take. You will also not have a focus for the spell (created as part of the week long ritual).

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    Does learning Bladesharp 6 as an Orlanth Adventurous initiate take 1 week and 300L or 6 weeks and 1050L?

    Yes, learning Bladesharp 6 takes one week and 1050L

    Already know Bladesharp 3, learn Bladesharp 6 takes 1 week and  750L = (4 = 200 + 5 = 250 + 6 = 300)

    Please also note that Orlanth initiates get Bladesharp at half price and one point of free spirit magic per 5 years, so could slowly build up higher levels of spells. Other cults also offer free spirit magic.

    Bladesharp 6 for an Orlanth initiate is 525L

    Special Cult Spirit Magic

    How are “special cult spells” differentiated from other spells in the rules?

    They are only available to two cults in rule book:

    Lantern – Yelmalio

    Sleep – Chalana Arroy

    See also The Red Book of Magic page 107 for a larger list.

    The upcoming Gods book covers this in more detail, provides more spells, and in some cases some background:

    Chalana Arroy’s special spirit magic of Sleep may not be taught to outsiders under any circumstances. Befuddle was once a cult special spell as well, but knowledge of it was shared in the First Age, which led to its use to attack, perverting its merciful purpose. That mistake has not been repeated.

    Gods of Glorantha, unpublished

    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.

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    Does this mean that a shaman (or Spirit) possessing an animal has no Charisma score?


    The Focus (page 254)

    Can I have multiple foci for the same spell?


    In other words, for my Bladesharp spell, can I engrave a focus for it on both my swords

    yes, usually at the time the spell was taught. There is a cost, see W&E page 54.

    If I have a Bladesharp focus on one sword and I wish to add it to another, I would effectively need to ‘remove’ it from the first i.e. it would lose its potency on the original weapon?

    No. You can have more than one focus for a spell, usually made at the same time as learning the original spell. Those made later usually require a shaman or appropriate priest to aid in creating new or extra foci and there is a cost, see W&E page 54.

    Spellcasting Ability (page 254)

    An adventurer has a chance of successfully casting each of their spirit magic spells equal to their POW×5. If the caster is unsuccessful, no magic points are expended, and they may try again in the next melee round.

    Spellcasting Ability, page 254

    Does this mean that if you fail in the spell.

    a. You are not allowed to try the same spell again in the same melee round.

    b. You must not cast any spells in the same melee round.

    c. You get to do the same spell again in the same melee round. if you have enough Strike Ranks.

    This is a fundamental and long-running problem with an understanding of strike ranks are and how to apply them to multiple actions. 

    Strike ranks determine who goes first in a round and in what order, based on what they’re doing and their relative speed (and reach). They are (despite some inconsistencies) not an action point allowance.

    If your action in a round is to cast a spell, then you figure out when it is cast based on the type of spell, magic points being used, DEX, etc.

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    If my character has bound a spirit and it knows a spell that I want to use, who’s POW is used to cast the spell – my character’s or the spirit’s?

    Same question for an allied spirit

    The adventurer’s POWx5 is used if the adventurer is casting the spell. If the spirit or allied spirit casts the spell, its their POWx5.

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    If my character has bound a spirit, and I want to use some spirit magic known by that spirit, I have two options:

    1) Cast the spell using my character’s POW, and using his MPs

    2) Have the spirit cast the spell, using the POW and MPs of the spirit. 

    Is this correct?


    If so, and in the case of the latter, does my character need to cast a Control spell and then release the spirit in order to do this


    or can it cast the spell while bound?


    Also, would this be classed as my character’s action for the round, or can the spirit cast the spell independently? 

    The adventurer would need to tell the spirit what to do, but assume that is near instant. However as usual, if the adventurer was unprepared, I would make the spirit unprepared too.

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    Does the Resistance Roll for a spell cast against an involuntary target takes the place of the usual POW x 5 roll for successfully casting the spell (Spellcasting Ability and Resistance Roll, right column, page 254), or does the caster first need to successfully cast the spell with a POW x 5 roll and then also make a successful resistance roll for POW vs POW?

    Yes. Roll to see if the spell can be cast at all, then roll a resistance roll to see if it is effective against that particular target. 

    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.

    Resistance Roll (page 254)


    All targets, except voluntary ones, resist spells cast at them and need to be overcome (POW vs. POW) with a resistance roll (POW vs. POW or POW vs. magic points if no POW characteristic), referring to the resistance table for the chance of success (see page 147).

    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

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    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 the updated / corrected text for page 254.

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    If you cast a Disruption spell (1 point) and your DEX SR is 0, it takes at least 1 MR to cast right?

    For a prepared spell:

    Spell Strike Rank

    To determine the strike rank at which a spell can be cast, total the adventurer’s DEX strike rank plus the magic points of the spell (minus the first), plus any boosting magic points. The sum equals the strike rank of the spell.

    Spell Strike Rank RQG, page 254 & RBM, page 108

    DEX SR 0 + Disruption (1pt) minus the first magic point = 0 + (1-1) = 0.

    If any combination of factors or modifiers result in a strike rank of 0, it is treated as 1.

    RQG, page 192

    So SR 0 is treated as SR 1.

    For an unprepared spell, SR 5 (0+5 = 5).

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    How long do ritual spells take?

    If not stated, use one hour. If they use added POW such as Binding Enchantment, add 1 hour per point of POW. Magic Point Enchantment already states this. Rituals are generally long, your GM may alter this if needed.

    Spirit Magic Procedures box (page 256)

    Resistance Roll (page 256)

    In this case, the caster’s POW is compared to the defender’s POW (or magic points if no POW characteristic) and the resistance table is consulted.

    Spirit Magic Descriptions (page 256)


    Change the first Spirit Magic Spells title to Spirit Magic Descriptions

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    Some of the spell names include a qualifier in parentheses. Qualifiers specify a substance or species, sense, or characteristic that the spell affects.

    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) 
    • Heal 4 = 200 (or 500 if buying for the first time)
    • Heal 5 = 250 (or 750 if buying for the first time)
    • Heal 6 = 300 (or 1050 if buying for the first time)
    • etc. 

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    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.

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    An initiate with Heal 5 receives training for Heal 6 from her cult, how much does that training cost?

    300 L

    An initiate with no Heal spirit magic receives training for Heal 6 from her cult, how much does that training cost?

    1050 L

    Are they the same?


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    Must an adventurer know Bladesharp 5 to be allowed to purchase Bladesharp 6?

    No. But if they do they only pay for the next level.

    Does a prospective customer of a shaman that rolls up with 1050 Lunars get to sit down and learn Bladesharp 6, if he knows no other spells?

    Yes, although it is just as likely to be livestock, goods, etc.

    Would he need to spend time and money learning earlier levels, or is it all together in a week if you can afford the monetary cost of the spell?

    All together in one week.

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    I cannot fathom how or why spirit magic would cost as much as the ransom of a Noble or Rune-Lord. Who even can afford to purchase spell teaching? Even the cheapest spells are worth whole years of most peoples wages. 

    Bear in mind the economy of the rules is for adventurers, everyday people don’t have the resources for powerful magics.

    As RQG says, teaching magic is a major source of income for cults.

    You are as usual free to ignore this and use your interpretation of the rules. Please be aware that RQG is based on RQ2 and wasn’t changed.

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    For the Spirit Magic spells see : Chapter 11 Spirit Magic Spells Q&A

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