CHA4028 RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – Chapter 16 Sorcery Q&A

Official Answers from Chaosium

This covers the first part of Chapter 16, pages 381-390:

For the Sorcery spells section see : Chapter 16 Sorcery Spells Q&A



    Please be aware that, Sorcery is presented to allow Lhankor Mhy adventurers to be created. Future supplements will detail sorcerers from other cultures and provide more details of the sorcery system. Some elements of the system will likely change to portray other cultures.

    Sorcery Use (page 381)

    Spell Strength vs POW augmentation

    Can the Spell Strength vs POW roll be augmented, and if so, can a single augment affect both POW vs POW and Spell Strength vs POW, if both are needed?

    See Augments to the Resistance Table (page 146) and Increasing Chances of Success with Magic (pages 244-246).

    Resisting Sorcery

    Does the Resisting Spells text from p. 244 of the Core book apply to Sorcery spells?


    That is, are Sorcery spells that target an individual resisted with POW vs POW on the resistance table?


    For instance, if A were to cast Identify Spell on B, who is either unwilling or unable to lower their resistance, would there be A’s POW vs B’s POW before A would know what spells B has on them according to the strength of the A’s spell. 

    No you are targeting a spell, not an individual. A spell can’t resist. Think of it as a sorcerous eye looking at the spell, the better you cast it, the more detail you see. Note that it only identifies one spell, likely to be the strongest one, if more than one is active.

    Do Sorcery spells, in general, need to overcome the POW of an unwilling target, as per “Resisting Spells” on page 244? Some Sorcery spells say that they need to overcome an unwilling target’s POW with the Strength of the spell. Is this instead of or as well as a POW vs POW roll?

    If it says the spell uses the Strength of the spell in the resistance roll, then use that. Otherwise it’s POW vs. POW where necessary.

    See also Countermagic & Sorcery

    Runes (page 381)

    The Magic Rune (page 382) and associated spells

    Jeff Richard says

    The magic rune in sorcery represents the theory of magic itself – the layout is a bit confusing as it is neither an Element, Power, Form, or Technique. The difference is that you can study Magic Rune in sorcery.

    The Magic Rune can be mastered – it is a theoretical understanding of magic itself.

    Can the Magic Rune be mastered like the other runes?


    Is the Magic rune a free rune that all sorcerers receive automatically?


    Is the magic Rune in the spell lists, a place holder for another rune, as with rune spells?


    As the Magic rune is both a skill and a masterable rune, it will have its own description in the Condition rune section of any future sorcery supplement. For the moment use this slightly reworded description of the rune from the upcoming Gods of Glorantha book:


    :50-condition-magic:Magic: This Rune symbolizes communication between the divine and mundane worlds. It is almost redundant in this magic-rich world, and when it is used it describes how a cult or individual deals with the power of another Rune.

    Cults of Glorantha book, unpublished

    Mastering New Runes or Techniques (page 384)

    How exactly, in game mechanics and character action  terms, does a character master a rune, for sorcery purposes?   How does that character master a new technique? 

    RQG page 384 does have a paragraph on his, which says there is an INT threshold and then there is an INT+POW roll, augmentable,  to ‘achieve intellectual union”.  Then sacrifice 1 POW.  These attempts can be made at a rate of one per season.

    But can the character just make that roll at the end of every season no matter that he has no instructor nor book on this, nor has he devoted any specific share of his time to researching it?  Does it make any difference that he is a Lhankor Mhy initiate, or by profession a  Philosopher, or an Aeolian,  or on the other extreme can he be an Orlanth lay member who has spent his season herding sheep and looking at the stars at night and is illiterate, or a slave hoeing corn on a Lunar plantation?  Same INT+POW roll in all cases?

    The key part of that that section is (my emphasis):


    To master a new Rune or technique, the sorcerer must achieve intellectual union with the source of their magic (be it the Invisible God, the One, the Great Mind, Logic, or whatever the sorcerer’s philosophy holds to be the case).

    Mastering New Runes or Techniques, page 384

    The adventurer needs to be part of a cult, school or society that has a sorcerous aspect, otherwise they are not going to have the correct philosophy to support sorcery. Likewise they need to have the capacity to learn Runes & Techniques (the INT requirement).

    In my game, a Lhankor Mhy initiate has expressed interest in learning sorcery. RQG p.389 says that every Lhankor Mhy initiate is taught to master the Truth rune and the Command technique upon initiation, so we can start with the assumption that he mastered these even though right now he doesn’t know boo about sorcery.  But what if he wants to master a second rune and / or a second technique?

    The easiest way of looking at this mastery of Runes & Techniques is as an initiation ritual. As it costs a POW, the ritual is likely an hour long (not including ritual preparation). In the case of a Lhankor Mhy initiate without a sorcerous mentor, they would need at a minimum, access to a sorcerous library for at least 4 weeks (with a teacher gives +30%).

    Manipulating Spells (page 384)


    A sorcerer may manipulate spells up to their Free INT, a value equaling their INT minus the number of sorcery spells and points of spirit magic possessed.

    Limits to Manipulating Intensity (page 385)
    Part of Second printing corrections

    Example paragraph last two sentences changed to “He has an INT of 17, 3 points of spirit magic, and 8 points of sorcery already known. As a result he can add up to 6 levels of intensity, divided amongst strength, range, and duration.”

    Spell Range (page 385)

    Unlike the Intensity and Duration tables, the Range table doesn’t extend above 20. Is this intentional?

    Yes, as the Intensity requires Free INT. For example, a Lhankor Mhy sorcerer casting Geomancy to cover a 100km radius (intensity 20) would need a Free INT of 20 to start with, needing at least an INT of 21 (1 point to used to know the spell if not inscribed). A further expansion of the intensity table may be included in any future update to sorcery.

    Spell Duration (page 386)

    For the last row in the table, shouldn’t the left-most column (Intensity) value be “Each +1” instead of “Each +4”?

    No (note that the +4 step applies to Strength too), however the Magic Point Cost should be +4/+8.

    I have include range as well, however please note that this may change in a future edition of the sorcery rules.

    TypeIntensityMagic Point Cost
    Sorcery StrengthEach +4+4/+8+1D6
    Sorcery DurationEach +4+4/+8Doubles
    Sorcery RangeEach +4+4/+8Doubles

    Casting Spells (page 386)

    If a sorcerer wanted to change how the intensity of a spell he was casting was allocated between strength, duration, and range, after he had started casting. Would you allow it?

    After rereading the rules, I ruled that, because the sorcerer is in a semi-trance while casting, the range, duration, strength and target all had to be specified in the statement of intent of the round when the casting would start, and could not be changed after that.  He could, per the rules, abort the spell at any time, but he could not change those parameters.  The player was ok with the range, duration, and strength being fixed at the start of casting, but feels he should be able to change the target during the statement of intent of the round when the spell would take effect.  He feels that, because sorcery takes so long, if the target should be killed, incapacitated, or moved out of range before the spell went off, he should be able to change the target, rather than have to have wasted all the time spent casting the spell.

    So the question is, what is the intent of the rules on this?  Can the spell target be changed after the sorceror has started casting the spell?

    As written, the rules call for a statement of intent. This actually doesn’t require the player to identify the target of the spell. The example, for example, says an adventurer will “have my shield and sword at the ready if someone gets close” but doesn’t say who that someone is, or if they’ll attack or not. The gamemaster should be able to assume that the player means “I’ll attack if I get the chance” even if they don’t know who the attack would be directed at. 

    Similarly, my experience playing pretty much every BRP-based game over the last 35 years is that most of the time groups (my own included) don’t generally follow the formal statement of intent phase of combat, usually just allowing players to announce their actions as their strike ranks are called. 

    Or, for that matter, can how the intensity of the spell is allocated between range, duration, and strength be changed after casting has started?


    If you cast a spell that has more than two runes and techniques, is the cost of each added level of intensity doubled for each rune or technique that the caster has merely “a certain amount of knowledge” for (via minor runes, opposite runes, or opposite techniques)?

    Yes, if you don’t have the complete knowledge, sorcery is costly. 

    So, casting a spell with a total of three runes and techniques, with no mastered runes or techniques, but insight to all of them, what is the base cost of this spell (my guess is six),

    Three runes and techniques would normally cost 3 points, (1 per runes/technique). 2 for the first unmastered, 2 for the second unmastered, 2 for the third unmastered for a total of 6.

    See the second example in Spell Cost on page 386. 

    how much does it cost to add three levels of added intensity into it (my guess is 8 per level, doubled thrice for three nonmastered runes and techniques, for a total of 24),

    Intensity 1 is free, plus three levels =  intensity 4, unmastered = +6. ,

    double the amount of magic points if it uses a Rune or technique that the sorcerer has not mastered.

    Manipulating Spells, page 384

    not per rune/technique. So the total is 6+6=12mps.

    and how long does it take to cast this spell (my guess is either Full Round + DEX SR + (2 * 3) or Full Round + DEX SR + (2 * 24) SR)? 

    So it was a 3 point spell, using 12 mps total – 3 = 9 extra mps x 2 = 18 SRs

    Full Round + DEX SR + 18 SR

    How long do ritual spells take?


    Ritual spells generally take one hour to cast per point of the spell. However, the gamemaster may be flexible about this, as rituals are almost always cast outside of combat and may be combined with ritual preparation and other means of increasing the chance of successfully casting the spell.

    Red Book of Magic, Characteristics of Rune Spells, page 9

    Spell Cost (page 386)

    Part of Second printing corrections

    Second Example changed to “Damastol also knows the Logical Clarity spell (Truth + Dispel) at 42%. He knows the Truth rune, but because he only knows Dispel as an insight of Summons, it costs him 3 magic points to cast, plus 2 magic points for each additional level of intensity.”

    Concentration (page 387)

    The rules state that the sorcerer lapses into a semi-trance. On p. 387 it states that “A sorcerer cannot attack, parry, or Dodge while casting a spell”

    I interpreted that to mean you can’t move while casting a spell. One of my players insists it doesn’t mean that at all. So, which is correct? Move or no move?

    You can move up to 4 meters per round, carefully, just as if using an Active spirit magic or Rune spell (see page 247).

    Sympathetic Magic (page 387)

    Rune-appropriate Day (page 387)

    Most days of the week provide a +10% bonus for casting a spell with a specific elemental Rune tied to that day. Some also provide a –10% penalty for casting a spell with a different elemental Rune in opposition to that day.

    Learning Sorcery (page 388)

    Learning Sorcery specifies that your knowledge of a sorcery spell is limited by your Read/Write skill, does this mean the language your written copy of the spell is written in, or just your highest language skill of any kind? If the former, how easy is translation? 

    The limit is based on the language the spell is written in. 

    The cult of Pavis has grimoires written in Auld Wyrmish to which can’t be learnt by humans at more than 25%, but it is a good question for Lhankor Mhy sages reading Western or Lunar sources as well. 

    Humans can’t speak Auld Wyrmish at more than 25% (per pages 174-175 in the core rules), but there is no such restriction for reading and writing that script (see page 181).

    Memorizing Spells (page 390)

    Inscribing Spells (Page 390)

    Please be aware that, Sorcery is presented to allow Lhankor Mhy adventurers to be created. Future supplements will detail sorcerers from other cultures and provide more details of the sorcery system. Some elements of the system will likely change to portray other cultures.

    Can inscribed spells be expanded after initial creation by adding more POW, in the same way that a Spell Matrix Enchantment can? If so, is there an upper limit that a sorcerer can achieve?

    Yes they can be expanded later with more POW and there is no limit other than the amount of permanent POW the sorcerer feels like sacrificing.

    Yes, this will lead to some potentially hugely powerful spells, but this is tempered by the fact that the item can be taken and/or destroyed

    This rule may be revisited when we cover the Malkioni.

    Is it possible at all to inscribe a spell with an inferred Rune or Technique?

    That’s currently outside the scope of the existing rules, but should be dealt with when Jeff covers sorcery more exhaustively. 

    You are of course welcome to decide this is possible.

    What are the POW cost to inscribe a spell with an inferred Rune or Technique? One POW per point of intensity, or one POW per magic point needed to increase intensity by one?

    If you choose to do so, the 1 POW per intensity point seems to be in line with the existing rules. 

    When casting sorcery inscriptions, do they still cost the same amount of MPs and SRs as normal spell casting? Or are they free/instant?

    Does the form of the manipulation need to be chosen at the time of making the inscription?

    The same as the spell casting. They are not free/instant. 

    Can sorcerers create shareable spell enchantments, or can they only inscribe spells for their own use?

    Jeff Richard may decide that it works differently when playtesting the expanded sorcery rules, so take the following with that in mind:

    Yes, spell enchantments are shareable, but only to other sorcerers with knowledge of how sorcery “works”, such as knowing the correct techniques and Runes, or knowing ones that can be substituted . As has been answered upthread, the rules currently do not cover inscribing the techniques and Runes necessary to cast a sorcery spell, so such an enchantment would likely be highly idiosyncratic and not much use to non-sorcerers. 

    This may change.

    Can anyone, other than the sorcerer donate POW towards an inscribed spell? 

    Given the above, “anyone” is limited to sorcerers who know the spell and can participate in the enchantment/inscription. 

    It wouldn’t take all that many people donating POW to a spell inscription to create some God Learner quality spells. 

    Which is why anyone with a lick of sense would not want to participate in the creation of such a thing. 

    Sorcery spell inscriptions are described as being done via a ritual enchantment. Does this mean they follow the rules for enchantments, and you can do things like sacrificing POW to let more people than yourself use it?

    Currently the rules don’t cover this. Your gamemaster is perfectly within their rights to say yes or no. 

    Inscription effectively gives you a point of Free INT for the purpose of manipulating the inscribed spell (and also removes it from your INT, so the first point of Inscription effectively counts twice), but does not provide a discount for casting the spell?

    An inscription, allows the caster to use more spells and manipulation than their free INT (It is part of the memorising spells section). There is no saving other than free INT.

    A spell inscribed using the minimum points – 1 POW, can only be cast at its base level, plus manipulation using the sorcerer’s Free Int.

    How much does it cost to cast and how long does it take to cast an inscribed spell for a sorcerer?

    Calculated by the usual magic points in Casting time, page 386. 

    Suppose a sorcerer has 5 points of Free INT and 5 point inscription of the spell they wish to cast at intensity 10. Let’s also suppose that they have mastered all the techniques and runes of the spell, and it has a total 2 of those. Now, how long does it take and how much does it cost them in terms of magic points? 

    Two runes and techniques would normally cost 2 points

    Intensity 10 = +9 mps + previous 2, total of 11 mps.

    So it was a 2 point spell, using 11 mps total – 2 = 9 extra mps x 2 = 18 SRs

    Full Round + DEX SR + 18 SR

    Sample Sorcery Spells (page 390)

    Runes and Techniques Used (page 391)

    The presence of the Magic Rune indicates that this spell can be used with any Rune.

    A sorcerer must have a mastery with the Rune or Runes used in the spell,

    For the Sorcery spells section see : Chapter 16 Sorcery Spells Q&A

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