CHA4028 RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – Chapter 14 Shamans Q&A

Official Answers by Chaosium

Spirit rune

This covers Chapter 5, pages 137-161


    Spirit rune

    Spirit rune

    Tools of the Shaman (page 351)

    • Drums that evoke the sounds made during the creation of the Spike (see Axis Mundi on page 354).

    Assistant Shaman (page 353)


    Shamans can simply discorporate, everyone else can only do it with a spell. What about assistant shamans? Can they discorporate at all? And if not, how can they ever become shamans, since discorporation is part of the process of becoming a shaman? And if they can’t go on the spirit plane, doesn’t that make it a lot harder for their shamans to teach them?

    Assistant shamans can discorporate through use of the Discorporate spell, whether casting it on themselves or having someone else (like their shaman) cast it on them. 

    Both Daka Fal and Waha have it as one of their special cult Rune spells. That’s why. 

    A full shaman may have both the Rune spell and the inherent ability, which is tremendously useful. Both take an hour-long ritual, but the Rune spell costs 1 Rune point to cast, while the special ability uses 5 magic points. Depending on the circumstance, either method might be desirable. 

    Assistant Shaman get one free point of POW per year (page 354 RQG). Is that in addition to any pow gain rolls or does it replace one of the six possible? (I would assume the sacred time one if so) 

    It’s not a POW gain roll, it’s an actual free point of POW, no roll required, so in addition to POW gain rolls.

    Does an assistant shaman retain their +1 spirit combat damage permanently, even if they are no longer actively acting as assistant to a shaman, and are no longer actively pursuing a career in shamanry?

    If they are not actively acting as an assistant shaman:


    An assistant shaman must spend 90% of their time with their mentor shaman. They may take a Loyalty (Shaman) Passion starting at 60%.

    Assistant shaman, page 353

    they do not get the returns in the following paragraph, including the +1. There will obviously be a roleplaying opportunity with the shaman mentor…  

    Becoming a Full Shaman (page 354)

    When an apprentice shaman becomes a shaman, what happens to his Loyalty: Shaman score? 

    Nothing. The Loyalty is to the individual, not to the rank or the relationship. 

    Example (page 354)

    He presented himself to her and made his intentions known.

    Sabera Spiritrider is a woman and Vishi is a Waha initiate, and the Waha is men only. So what is happening here?

    Sabera’s cult isn’t given. She’s an independent shaman with a membership in multiple spirit cults. As Vishi’s background tells us on page 90, that he was almost killed by spirits. Later on page 255, he tells the group that A raven summoned me to her. Raven being a spirit cult that’s part of the the Three Feathered Rivals.

    What tradition does Sabera belong to,

    The Praxian tradition.

    and wouldn’t Vishi follow in those footsteps?

    At puberty, Vishi became a Waha lay member as he hadn’t been chosen for another cult, after proving himself, he became a Waha initiate. He was called to Sabera (by the Raven) and became apprenticed to her as an assistant shaman.

    It could reasonably be assumed that Waha initiates who wish to become shaman are apprenticed to Waha shaman, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Sabera is clearly a trusted individual within the High Llama tribe.

    Sabera prepares him for his ordeal to come. Ultimately shamanhood is bestowed by the Horned Man. Waha accepts this and his shaman.

    A few other considerations:

    • Sabera could be a Waha shaman, amongst her clan and tribe she could be considered co-genderered or a woman who is accepted as a man. Both of these occur amongst real world shaman.
    • The High Llama tribe may practice that male shaman must tutored by women and vice-versa. This also occurs in real world shamanism.

    Ultimately you can choose how this works in your game.

    Stage Three—The Cave (page 354)

    The fetch adds its POW to the shaman’s POW against any contests involving POW vs. POW struggles.


    From this point on, the fetch’s POW is always added to that of the shaman’s. This combined POW is used in all situations involving the shaman’s POW.

    Stage Four—The Ordeal (page 355)
    The Bad Man
    Rune Fixes 1

    The final ordeal to become a shaman is the confrontation with the Bad Man. The rules included only his POW and not his Spirit Combat skill. The complete stat block for the Bad Man is:

    The Bad Man
    POW 35
    Spirit Combat 175%*

    *Please note that the previous version incorrectly lists The Bad Man’s Spirit Combat at 165% (corrected 8 December 2019)

    Note: Combat with the Bad Man does not result in loss of magic points from either side. If the Bad Man wins a round of spirit combat, the would-be shaman gets a shamanic taboo. If the would-be shaman wins a round of spirit combat, they gain a shamanic ability without needing to take a corresponding taboo.

    Spirit rune


    If the Bad Man wins a round, the player must choose a taboo from the Taboo table on page 363. Alternatively the gamemaster may make the choice for the player. If the shaman wins a round, they gain a single shamanic ability and skips the need to take a corresponding taboo.

    Spirit rune

    It’s a bit difficult to follow, am I right in understanding that the shaman cannot fail this stage? It goes on for 1D6 rounds or more, the shaman gets either a Power or a Taboo each round, and that’s it?

    When I first read it, I came away with the impression that you could attempt to become a shaman, fail it at the Ordeal, and then try again when your master deems you worthy again. Now, on re-reading it, once you’ve made your roll of (average of POW+CHA)×5 or whatever roleplaying satisfies the GM, that’s it. You’re going to be a shaman. The only variables are how good your Spirit Dance roll is to get a toasty Fetch, and how many times you beat the Bad Man in the ordeal.

    Is that correct?

    The assistant shaman can’t fail, other than to lose all of the 1D6 rounds of combat. They don’t lose any magic points. It is sorely a game of “Chicken”, to test the prospective shaman’s fortitude by seeing how many taboos they will be willing to take.

    Do the shaman abilities taken cost characteristic points? I’m assuming not but it isn’t totally clear to me.

    • In Stage Four—The Ordeal, any shamanic ability received is free of cost.
    • In Stage Five—The Reward, a shamanic ability is chosen, free of cost.
    • Once the stages are complete, any new shamanic ability must be paid for.

    Spirit rune

    A few questions about the process of becoming a shaman and the ordeal in particular, so as I understand it:

    • The Horned Man has a power of 35, which translates to a spirit combat skill of 175%

    The Bad Man, you mean. See page 355. It’s a common mistake.

    • So anyone fighting him in spirit combat will be fighting at there skill -75%
    • Which in most cases in a 20% or less skill for the want to be shaman vs 100% skill for horned man
    • The ordeal goes on for 1 to 6 rounds which means, which means most shamans will get around 3 restrictions and the one usual ability.

    All correct, aside from Bad Man being a different entity than the Horned Man. 

    • What happens on a tied round where both pass skill?

    Stalemate. Nothing happens.  Quote

    • If the shaman breaks off at the end of a round , does he fail becoming a shaman or just loose the opportunity to gain more shamanic abilities?

    No further abilities or taboos are granted and the spirit combat ends. On to Stage Five. 

    Stage Five—The Reward (page 355)

    The shaman then picks one shamanic ability from the Shamanic Abilities section (page 360), plus any other abilities gained and taboos acquired through the ordeal, and begins their career.

    The Fetch (pages 355-357)

    What the Fetch Provides the Shaman (page 356)

    The fetch provides POW and magic points to the shaman. Its magic points are always accessible to the shaman, and its POW is always added to that of the shaman’s.

    Spirit rune

    Fetch’s Magic Points Recovery Rate

    The fetch’s magic points regenerate at the normal rate, in parallel with the shaman’s. If the fetch’s POW is 12, for example, it regains 1 magic point every two hours.

    What the Fetch Provides the Shaman, page 356

    This additional POW regenerates magic points at the same rate as the shaman’s own magic point regeneration.”

    Second POW, page 358

    These rules seem to contradict each other. I wish you would clarify the recovery rate of the fetch’s magic points.

    Use the fetch’s POW to determine the fetch’s magic point recovery rate.

    Can shamans fetch cast spells like allied spirit can? I mean to a different person than her own shaman… Can Fetch cast for example Protection-2 to a warrior next to shaman?

    No. The shaman is in the Middle World, the fetch is in the spirit world. Unless of course the shaman has an ability such as Materialize Fetch.

    Spirit rune

    Spell Strength vs POW roll

    Does a shaman’s fetch’s POW add to theirs for the purposes of a Spell Strength vs POW roll?

    Yes. See Stage Three—The Cave (page 355): “The fetch adds its POW to the shaman’s POW against any contests involving POW VS. POW struggles.”

    Spirit rune

    The Fetch and Charisma
    Rune Fixes 1

    A shaman gains use of the fetch’s CHA for storing additional spirit magic spells. However, this does not affect the spirit combat damage done by either the shaman or the fetch, which is based on their personal CHA+POW.

    Example: Vishi Dun is now a shaman and has a fetch with a POW of 11 and a CHA 18. His personal POW is now 18 and his CHA is 15. Vishi does 1D6+6 damage in spirit combat and his fetch does 1D6+1 damage.

    Spirit rune

    Fetch and Discorporation (page 356)


    When discorporate, the shaman cannot use the fetch’s magic points to defend or attack, though they can use the fetch’s may use its own magic points to fuel spells.

    Fetches and Combat (page 356)

    It says that the fetch can only be targeted by spells from the Mundane World if the fetch first casts a spell against a target. Ok, but how long does this last? It’s not specified what condition resets the fetch to its usual state of not being attackable again.

    The Fetch has revealed it’s position (it’s over there), so until the combat ends or the GM says otherwise.

    Also, does “against a target” including against a friendly target?



    If the fetch casts spells against a target in the Mundane World, only then can the fetch be targeted by spells emanating from the Mundane World.

    For example if the Fetch cast heal on a friendly target, unless the enemy had a method of seeing this, it’s unlikely (unless the friendly target shouts it’s over there). Ultimately this is a GM call.

    Example (page 357)

    The fetch gives Vishi the following benefits: its POW adds 11 points to his own POW for resistance rolls, an 11 extra POW to sacrifice if need be, and 11 additional magic points; an additional 15 points of CHA towards storing spirit magic spells; and a guardian and assistant while he Discorporates.

    Benefits of Being a Shaman (page 357)

    Discorporation (page 357)

    2nd paragraph, delete the sentence “Every additional magic point spent during the ritual increases the time that the shaman can remain discorporate by one hour.”

    Second printing correction

    Spirit rune


    To discorporate, a shaman must sacrifice a minimum of 5 magic points during a ritual that requires one hour to complete.

    Spirit rune

    Should for some reason the shaman wishes to use the Discorporate spell instead of the natural ability,

    Spirit rune

    If my discorporate shaman is hanging out in the Spirit World, can he see or interact with the Middle World?

    In other words, can he discorporate, wander into a nearby cave, and return with a complete inventory of its occupants? I believe he can count the spirits and get a sense of their POW, but can he see whether that powerful spirit in the corner is a Dark Troll, a Human or a Broo? Ok, ignore the Broo, he’d sense the Chaos rune, but you get the idea.

    If he wishes to engage in spirit combat, he needs to become visible in the Middle World. If he does so, does the Middle World then become visible to him?

    This is up for the gamemaster to determine based on what abilities your shaman is bringing to the table. I would definitely have them sense the spirits of living beings, and would make a more detailed assessment based on circumstances. Is the shaman using Second Sight? How magically potent are the cave’s inhabitants? Are any of them Rune Masters? 

    RuneQuest, page 366, covers spirit combat between entities in the Spirit World vs. the Mundane World in detail. Discorporate beings are “spirits” as discussed in the last paragraph of the first column. 

    Spirit rune

    Expanded Charisma (page 357)

    How can a shaman’s fetch  improve their CHA? Can they or are you just stuck with the CHA it started with?

    There are no current provisions in the rules for increasing fetch CHA.

    We encourage enterprising gamemasters and players to determine possible options. 

    Spirit rune

    Learning Spirit Magic (page 357)

    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.

    Learning Spirit Magic, page 357

    How does this work for variable spells? Can my shaman pitch up in the spirit world and learn Bladesharp 15 if he wishes?

    Or is there a limit on the power of these variable spells?

    Yes, but each point takes up a point of CHA:

    Limits to Spell Holding


    Each point of spirit magic requires 1 point of CHA. An adventurer’s maximum potential spell capacity equals their CHA.

    Limits to Spell Holding, page 354

    The visit to the spirit world once per day is an abstraction of the whole process on page 374. It assumes that the shaman has a good knowledge of their spirit world, knows their way around and has a good collection of Spirit Vortices. The Red Book of Magic further defines what they can teach:


    From a Shaman

    As the specialists in communicating with the Spirit World, shamans can teach any non-variable spells costing 250 L or less, or variable spells up to 6 points (see page 109). The standard cost of each spell is listed on the Spirit Magic Spells table (page 109).

    The Red Book of Magic, Learning Spirit Magic, From a shaman, page 107

    In the case of Bladesharp 15, the shaman would know a very good Death Vortex and/or I would get them to do a search of the spirit world. As a suggestion, modify the Spirit rarity table on page 375 to reflect the spell cost or make up you own: 

    Spirit RarityOver 250LVariableModifier
    Normal 1-60
    UncommonFireblade, Lightwall7-8-10%
    Very rare12-14-30%
    Unique15+ / Cult special-50%
    At an appropriate spirit place(see Spirit places)+20-50%
    An example

    Spirit rune

    Second POW

    Change Heading: Second POW to Combined POW

    The fetch’s POW is always added to that of the shaman’s. This combined POW is used in all situations involving the shaman’s POW.

    Spirit rune

    Teaching Spirit Magic (page 358)

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

    No. Why would they?

    Spirit rune

    Second Sight (page 358)

    This means that the shaman can see another entity’s POW, and tell whether that entity’s POW is about the same as their own combined with their fetch’s, 5 or more points less, or 5 or more points more.

    Spirit rune

    Spirit Pacts (page 358)

    Spirits can tell the POW of another spirit within a range of within 5 points higher or lower than its own, so it will know if it has a chance of success.

    Spirit rune


    A shaman’s bound spirits are bound to them until the shaman is unable to heal their body sufficiently to self-resurrect (see page 361). If the shaman cannot heal themselves in this manner, the bound spirits are freed, just as they are when any other binder dies.


    If the shaman dies and does not self-resurrect (see page 361), all pacts are broken and the spirits freed.

    Adding Shamanic Abilities (page 359)

    To add an additional ability or to increase the points in an existing ability from 1 to 2, the shaman must bargain with a Greater Entity (see above) and sacrifice 1 characteristic points (such as a point of STR, CON, INT, POW, etc.).

    The first additional ability or increase costs one characteristic point, the second two characteristic points, the third three characteristic points, and so forth. A point of INT counts for 3 times as much as any other characteristic.

    Each time the shaman improves an ability or acquires a new ability, the cost in characteristic points increases.

    Shamanic Abilities (page 360)

    Please note that all of the Shamanic abilities are personal, so not transferable.

    For reference, here are the abilities as list

    1. Conceal Fetch (Rare) 1+
    2. Cure Disease 1
    3. Expanded Presence 1+
    4. Hide Soul 1
    5. Magic Attack 1+
    6. Magic Defense 1+
    7. Materialize Fetch 1
    8. Possession 1+
    9. Power Within 1+
    10. Second Sight (Enhanced) (6 individual abilities, two with advanced versions) 1 each
      1. Distinguish POW +/- 5 points
        • Distinguish exact POW
      2. Distinguish magic points within a range
        • Distinguish available magic points within a better range
      3. Determine individual’s spirit magic.
      4. Identify spirit magic spells on an individual.
      5. Determine individual’s sorcery spells
      6. Determine individual’s Rune magic.
    11. Self-Resurrection 1-8
    12. Show Spirit 1
    13. Soul Expansion 1+
    14. Spell Barrage 1+
    15. Spell Extension 1+
    16. (Spirit) Affinity 1+
    17. Spirit Defense 1+
    18. Spirit Mastery 1+

    Hide Soul (page 360)

    Spirit magic sensory spells are mentioned with regard to cancelling points of this ability according to their magic points. Do sensory Rune spells follow the usual pattern of counting as twice their Rune points when compared to the MP used for Hide Soul?

    No, this works only on spirit magic cast by spirits (see example). As usual GMs may add their own interpretations.

    Possession (page 360)

    Does the Shaman gift Possession allow covert or dominant possession. I’m assuming dominant is the default but would a shaman be able to go covert and hide within the person he attacked. Once they came round they could perhaps ride inside to penetrate a place normally protected by magical alarms or perhaps emerge to suddenly take over the body at a strategic moment? 

    I think it’s pretty straightforward. Maybe future expansions to the shaman ability rules will allow for special cases like that. On the other hand, the gamemaster is well within their rights to allow it desired, such as on a critical or special success with the resistance roll.

    Spirit rune

    Does the Shaman have the same limits on using the unfamiliar body as other spirits given it’s normally a shape he’s familiar with?

    No. The Shamanic Possession (p360) works on a “per hit location chart” basis so it means they’re familiar with their own rough body shape. 

    Self-Resurrection (page 361)

    Does the fetch come back with the shaman if this ability is used?

    Yes. They are effectively the same being and cannot exist separately.

    Does that depend on whether the fetch was destroyed itself first (and that is what killed the shaman)? 

    Yes, a Fetch reduced to zero POW kills both.

    And do the above apply for other types of resurrection (e.g. Chalana Arroy)?

    Yes. Although there are few ways to reduce POW to zero.

    Soul Expansion (page 361)

    This improves his chance to increase POW by experience.

    Spirit rune

    If Soul Expansion does not increase the chance to increase through experience, how does a shaman ever take advantage of the expansion? How can POW increase from 21 to 22 if the chance to increase is zero?

    Is it just the “default” 5% chance?

    Currently yes.

    Spell Barrage (page 362)

    The strike rank is equal to the shaman’s DEX strike rank, plus the magic points spent minus 1,

    Spirit rune

    How do Spell Barrage and the Common Divine Spell Multispell interact with each other?

    They would stack, if the GM allows it. 

    When trying to stack them, determine which are the Multispelled spells and which are the ones due to Spell Barrage.

    The Multispells are treated as separate instances and the Barrage is all-or-nothing.

    Spell Extension (page 362)
    Spell Extension (page 362)
    Rune Fixes 1

    The shamanic ability Spell Extension allows a shaman to maintain a spirit magic spell indefinitely until the shaman chooses to drop the spell. The shaman cannot forget a spell while it is being maintained with the Spell Extension ability.

    Spirit rune

    Is that shamanic ability for a specific spell named at the point of taking the ability or can it be used for any spell, chosen when casting it? 

    It’s not tied to a specific spell. Just one at a time.

    Are there any conditions on this ability?


    The shaman can maintain one spirit magic spell indefinitely in effect per point of Spell Extension. The shaman can drop the extended spell at any time, and recast it when desired. The spell can be dispelled normally, of course.

    Spell Extension, page 362

    When considering the above situation?

    All of the Shamanic abilities are personal, so not transferable.

    We went back and forth with our GM whether we could get the party shaman to buff 4 PCs with semi-permanent Mobility spells during travel, and several other pretty cheeky strategies.

    The shaman can maintain Mobility on themselves indefinitely. Remember to have Spell Extension at level four, assuming it was their first ability would have cost (1 to 2 = 1, 2 to 3 =2, 3 to 4 = 3) 6 characteristic points.

    Could a party or PC pay a Shaman to cast a spell / bless them with Strength for a whole season? If they were part of the actual party i assume it would be easier. 


    Note that the Shamanic Abilities list is not inclusive, there are many other abilities possible. A version of Spell Extension that works on others should have restrictions on who the targets are (such as the shaman’s assistants only) or cost a point of POW to form a permanent bond with the shaman, etc.

    Spirit Affinity (page 362)

    This reflects an affinity for spirits of a certain type, or tied to a single Rune.


    Shaman-priests (as for Waha and Daka Fal in the core rulebook, or Telmor in the Glorantha Bestiary): Must they meet the requirements for a Rune Priest (e.g. POW 18+, 90% Rune affinity, 50%+ in five cult skills including Worship etc) over and above becoming a shaman?

    Generally speaking, no. However as these are cult shaman, there are often extra requirements before becoming a cult shaman, after being an initiate. eg:

    • Daka Fal: must know spirit speech at 90%
    • Waha:must be of noble descent from Waha
    • Telmor: no extra requirements beyond initiate

    This will be detailed in the upcoming cults of Glorantha.

    Do such shaman-priests gain any of the Rune Priest benefits such as the easier POW gain roll?

    Yes, if they are shaman-priests. No if just shaman, so

    • Daka Fal: Yes
    • Waha: Yes
    • Telmor: If a Wolf Warrior (God-talker) -shaman, Yes, if just a shaman, no.

    Does the shaman-priest gain an Allied Spirit?

    Yes if shaman-priests and their priesthood is stated to receive a spirit. Rune Lord-shaman may have allied spirits.

    Do Initiates / shamans etc of animist cults get access to Divine Intervention, for example followers of Telmor, or Kolat? i.e. is it the Initiate status that matters, not whether their entity is a Deity in the theist sense?

    You need to look at each cult’s description, to check:

    • Daka Fal: No (specifically states it)
    • Waha: Yes
    • Telmor: Yes.
    • Kolat is a spirit cult, and follows the rules for them, so no.

    Spirit rune

    Does a character that wishes to become a shaman have to meet the prerequisites for becoming a normal Rune Priest (276) as well as follow the procedures on page 354, or do they just need to follow the latter?

    Both prerequisites (if their cult allows it). Unless the cult has Shaman-Rune priests (Daka Fal, Kyger Litor, Waha), then follow what the cult says. 

    I’m confused because it says on (351) that they are equivalent, but it doesn’t explicitly say they need to meet the prerequisites.

    When playing a shaman, the player and gamemaster should keep in mind they are the equivalent of Rune Priests in other cults.

    Socially and power-level-wise. So shaman of Golden Bow is equivalent to a priest of Orlanth.

    Spirit rune

    Related Pages