2021-05 Jeff on Facebook

Jeff Richard is one of the regular posters in the RuneQuest Facebook Group. here’s some of his recent RuneQuest posts, only Jeff’s replies are included where relevant. Facebook membership is required to access the originals.

As an aside, I often post notes or things that I am working on that I think people will find interesting or useful. But I am posting this material without edits or revisions – they are all notes or works in progress. If people really expect me to edit or revise such ephemera before I post it, I am probably not going to post such things.

Jeff Richard, 2021

Newest at top, oldest at bottom.

The diminutive Duck People of Sartar are a strange lightning rod for some people. But in Dragon Pass, they are no stranger than the Horse People (centaurs), Bull People (minotaurs), Dragon People (dragonewts), Newt People (newtlings), Dark Men (trolls), Stone Men (dwarfs), or Plant People (aldryami). They are just one of the many non-human peoples that populate the Pass. Although they are usually categorised with the Beast Men, they form one of the tribes of Sartar. Among the many intriguing things about the Ducks is that nobody – not even the Lhankor Mhy cult – is entirely sure of their origins. It is unknown whether they were originally human and became feathered and web-footed, or originally ducks cursed with flightlessness and intelligence. Some claim they once served Yelm but foreswore the Sun God to follow Orlanth and were denied the sky as punishment. Some Ducks claim to have once been the rulers of the world until their own sins and errors forced them into subservience to lesser races (elves, trolls, etc.) and, later, to humans, but this is taken about as seriously as the Baboon claims to the universal Monkey Empire. The Lhankor Mhy cult is unaware of there being any records of Ducks from the First or Second Ages, but scholarly interest in the history of the Ducks is admittedly pretty minimal. Most Sartarites simply accept the presence of the Ducks as another of the peoples of Dragon Pass. Many participated in the Duck Hunt in order to placate the Lunar authorities after Starbrow’s Rebellion, and as a result of those crimes, the Ducks have a great resentment of many of the tribes. But the little Duck People revere the House of Sartar and never broke faith with that Dynasty.

And yet the Ducks are a mystery. Where did they come from? What are they? Few Sartarites know anything beyond what I posted above, and even the Ducks don’t “know”.

Anyways, with about 6500 ducks in Sartar, they are more common than any cult in Sartar except Orlanth or Ernalda. And they are about as numerous as the Telmori.

As an aside, only the Malani tribe have as many Humakt cultists as the Ducks. And nobody has as many Engizi or Heler cultists as the Ducks.

The Lismelder are a very small tribe. And because they are not part of a city confederation, they can not support a large number of specialists – so the fact that they have a Minor Humakt Temple is pretty impressive.

The TRIBES that took place in the Duck Hunt include the Balmyr, Cinsina, Colymar, Culbrea, Dinacoli, Locaem, and Malani.

Something that is worth thinking about is that there are more Yelmalio initiates in Sartar (which includes Sun Dome Temple and the Far Place) than in the Civilized River of Cradles. However, whereas in the River of Cradles the Yelmalio cult can look at the Orlanth cult as a relatively new parvenu (and a near-equal), the Sartar the Orlanth cult is far more numerous and firmly established. As a result, the Yelmalions in Sartar must defend their identity through both rigorous military training and astute diplomacy (particularly with the Ernalda cult). They simply can’t be the yokel xenophobes of the River of Cradles and survive.

And the Light Captain of the Templars in Sartar is generally just known as THE Light Captain. I suspect in Dragon Pass it is sometimes forgotten that there is a Light Captain in Prax.

They brought those revelations to the other temples. Within a generation or two, all the Sun Dome Temples of South Peloria, Dragon Pass, and Prax embraced Monrogh’s revelations.For Greg this was an example of how cults changed in history. Another comparable (actually even more significant) change was the rapid spread of the Orlanth Rex cult in the late Second Age.

The Lunars took advantage of this, and gave lands and rights to the Yelmalio cult throughout the Lunar Provinces. Ironically, the Yelmalio cult is at best Neutral to the Seven Mothers and downright Hostile towards the Red Goddess, but it is also only Neutral towards Orlanth.

The Little Sun cults throughout the Lunar Provinces embraced Monrogh’s revelations. Of course there are differences from temple to temple, and some temples have different spirits and heroes associated with it.

One of my absolute favourite pictures Ossi Hiekkala has done for the forthcoming Sartar Book. This shows a typical free Sartarite farmer (of the Orlmarth Clan to be precise) and his child. Note the broad hat for working in the sun and his bronze sickle. And the ubiquitous dagger. But it also shows the tenderness and family love present in the society.

This is your rank and file of the Orlanth cult. Folk seeking to protect and provide for their family, with the aid and support of the gods. That is no tenant farmer. He plows, tills the earth, and does whatever work is needed. But he is not a “cottar” but a free farmer.

So in my previous post, I listed my A0 texts. These are the texts that everything else is built off and that I constantly refer to in world building, rules building, etc. So here’s that list:Guide to Glorantha (published)Glorantha Sourcebook (published)RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha (RQG, published)RuneQuest Bestiary (published)White Bear and Red Moon (published)Nomad Gods (published)Cults Book (in art product, target of 2021 release)Sartar Book (in art, target of 2021 release)RQ Campaign Book (in final writing)The Master Map series (internal reference, with the Dragon Pass map in the Sartar Book)Then there are the A1 texts. I don’t use these all the time as they are built off the A0 texts. But sometimes they have information present nowhere else:RQ GM Pack and ScreenThe Smoking RuinsThe Red Book of MagicPegasus PlateauPavis and the Big Rubble (RQ2)Dorastor (RQ3)Sun County (RQ3)King of SartarTrollpak (RQ2 version)Griffin Mountain (RQ2)Borderlands (RQ2)Then there are a collection of early drafts from Greg that I consult regularly but mainly for ideas and inspiration (and can cheerfully contradict):Glorantha EncyclopediaMoLaD boardgame draftHoly Country Campaign originalEpic (much of that is now incorporated into RQG and the Sartar Book)The Orlanthi Gold Sheets (but most of that is now incorporated in the Sartar Book and the Cults Book)I find this much more useful than discussions about “canon”.

So I figure I’d walk folk through some of the design decisions behind the current RQ releases.

1. The Cults Book underpins everything. If you want to have Lunars, Praxians, Balazarings, Sartarites, Esrolians, Caladralanders, Manirians, Wolf Pirates, etc. in your games, this book is essential. If you want to understand your character’s cult, this book is essential. If you want to understand how all the cults fit together to form a cosmic unity, this book is essential. I for one refer to the Cults Book all the damn time when I am writing or editing. It is an A0 sourcebook, and in practice more important than the Guide or the Sourcebook (which are also A0s). Heck, the Appendix on Cult Distribution, which combined with the population numbers in the Guide lets you figure out an awful lot about the setting.

2. The Sartar Book. Sartar is ground zero for the RQ Campaign and needs to be established as bedrock in order for things to go forward. Unfortunately, Thunder Rebels and Sartar Kingdom of Heroes both did a poor job defining the culture – particularly the cities, tribes, guilds, and the Sartar Dynasty. It builds off the Cults Book to further define minor cults in Sartar like Elk Woman, Geo, Horned Owl, White Bull, Wilms, and of course the cult of Sartar. The Sartar Book also contains the Dragon Pass gazetteer, which is a more comprehensive and game-oriented description of the places in Dragon Pass. Plus it describes Boldhome to the same level of detail as New Pavis was in the Pavis book.Once that book is done, we have established the benchmarks for other areas to be explored – Prax, Esrolia, Tarsh, Lunar Provinces, etc. But that needs to be done first and done right.

3. The RQ Campaign. The Boy King for RuneQuest, this gives the timeline and major events of the Hero Wars for your campaigns. Do with it as you wish, but this is the framework for official publications. Who is Argrath? Who is Jar-eel? Who is Harrek the Berserk? Who is the Feathered Horse Queen? And of course, who is the Red Emperor? Glorantha in the Hero Wars is like the Mediterranean world during the Roman Civil Wars or during the time of Philip and Alexander – it is a time of rapid change and transformation. Your game doesn’t need to be about that at all, but we think it is richer if you know what is going on, and have events and plots to throw into your game. Once those three books are done and out, then it is much easier for us to work with writers who are not named Jeff Richard, Robin Laws, Jason Durall, or a handful of others, to explore the setting and provide new content. I can dive deep into the Lunar Heartlands or into the Malkioni or wherever my heart takes me, confident that I have a firm foundation for others to work off. But first lets get those done.

So for me, the A0 books for RuneQuest are: Guide to Glorantha Glorantha Sourcebook RuneQuest Adventures in Glorantha RuneQuest Bestiary White Bear and Red MoonNomad Gods Cults Book (in art)Sartar Book (in art) RQ Campaign Book (in final writing)The Master Map series (internal reference, with the Dragon Pass map in the Sartar Book) Pretty much everything is built off them. Those are the texts I consistently refer to.

So after reading this, you can probably figure out my answer to such questions as: Why isn’t there more about about [fill in the blank peripheral culture] in print yet? Why is RuneQuest focused on Dragon Pass and Prax? And so on.

So in my previous post, I listed my A0 texts. These are the texts that everything else is built off and that I constantly refer to in world building, rules building, etc. So here’s that list:Guide to Glorantha (published)Glorantha Sourcebook (published)RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha (RQG, published)RuneQuest Bestiary (published)White Bear and Red Moon (published)Nomad Gods (published)Cults Book (in art product, target of 2021 release)Sartar Book (in art, target of 2021 release)RQ Campaign Book (in final writing)The Master Map series (internal reference, with the Dragon Pass map in the Sartar Book)Then there are the A1 texts. I don’t use these all the time as they are built off the A0 texts. But sometimes they have information present nowhere else:

RQ GM Pack and Screen

The Smoking Ruins

The Red Book of Magic Pegasus Plateau

Pavis and the Big Rubble (RQ2)

Dorastor (RQ3)

Sun County (RQ3)

King of Sartar

Trollpak (RQ2 version)

Griffin Mountain (RQ2)

Borderlands (RQ2)

Then there are a collection of early drafts from Greg that I consult regularly but mainly for ideas and inspiration (and can cheerfully contradict):Glorantha EncyclopediaMoLaD boardgame draftHoly Country Campaign original

Epic (much of that is now incorporated into RQG and the Sartar Book)

The Orlanthi Gold Sheets (but most of that is now incorporated in the Sartar Book and the Cults Book).

I find this much more useful than discussions about “canon”.

Obviously that list is notable not only for what it includes, but what it does not include.

Now one thing that should be clear – there really isn’t that much A0 text. And that’s from a writer/world-builder/editor’s perspective. And pretty darn soon all of it is going to be available to everyone.

It’s interesting that King of Sartar is not A0. The parts of King of Sartar that is A0 are available elsewhere. And lots of KoS is not – and intentionally so.

When you say WB&RM and Nomad Gods, you mean the rulebook, don’t you? As we have established in earlier debates, I consider William Church a co-author of those texts, and his map and Counter Illustrations (in their ‘Dragon Pass’ form for WB&RM) as equally A0 to the written material.  I don’t because those maps are actually drawn off Greg’s original “master maps”, which Greg continued to refine over the next 20 years or so. Greg’s maps are the Master Maps, not William’s.

I personally consider your own two Sartar books for HQ A1 texts at least. They are A1, but the Sartar Book (the new one) itself is a better source.

How about the Runequest companion? There is stuff in that, like The Jonstown Compendium, which hasn’t turned up elsewhere. The A0 stuff in the RQ Companion is already in the Guide or Sourcebook, or worked its way into the Cults book. So I rarely actually consult that anymore.

A little sneak peak from Loïc Muzy. Who wouldn’t want to join the Red Goddess in her cosmic dance?

I’m reposting this from elsewhere in the threads because I think it is a significant point:

RuneQuest is about having epic fantasy that is interwoven with a fantastic setting. It is geared up for letting your player characters confront dragons, fight off tusk riders, interact with spirits and gods, and get involved in the affairs of one’s tribe, city, or kingdom – and that’s just the stuff in the GM Adventure’s Pack. The rules reflect that – they model how your player characters interact with the setting, including with NPCs.The rules are not there for the GM to model how all the NPCs interact with each other or the setting. That’s already defined or can be quickly decided by the GM. The GM Pack has plenty of “benchmark NPCs”- good Orlanthi warrior, average militia, herders, a tribal king and other leaders, etc. There’s the Bestiary with plenty of samples, plus several more scenario books, with more to come. In short, there are not one set of rules for players and another for NPCs, or PCs have special rules – there are simply rules for playing a Tabletop Roleplaying Game with a GM and one or more players. And that’s it.

Although this has been posted before, here are the rules of Humakti duels as presented in the forthcoming Cults Book (more on that tomorrow):

THE HUMAKTI DUELThe nature of the Code of Humakt is such that arguments, discussions, or any sort of disagreement can be settled by a (hopefully) non-fatal duel. The cult strongly encourages such duels. The rules for these duels are few and simple:• Both duelists must be at least lay members of Humakt. Thus, all involved parties know that the Honor Passion will be foremost.• The fight is to the first fallen. After one combatant drops to the ground (e.g., through incapacitation or unconsciousness) or drops their weapon, the duel is over.• Any Rune or spirit magic is allowed except Sever Spirit. The use of allied spirits is allowed, but not that of bound spirits or other companions.• The loser must pay some reward to the victor, as agreed upon beforehand.

In many tribes and war bands, most warriors become lay members of Humakt as a matter of course.

So for example, the White Bull party includes an initiate of Orlanth Adventurous, Orlanth Thunderous, Storm Bull, and Ty Kora Tek, as well as an initiate of Humakt. But they are all lay members of Humakt.

it is no difficulty for a Yelmalio initiate to be a lay member of Humakt, and in Dragon Pass I suspect many are.

I know many of you are wedded to the idea of the Lunar Heartlands being Rome. But to me, this is a Lunar princess riding out of Glamour accompanied by another Lunar nobleman and an officer.



And that is obviously a Yelm cult headdress!

Here’s another lovely one – presumably this is an officer of the Lost Sky or similar Lunar unit. They got the color of the standard off, but note the wedding of the Moon and the Sun:


The Roman Empire is certainly “a” source of ideas for the Lunar Empire, but visually I don’t see the Lunars as being particularly all that Roman – the Persians are probably just as good a visual source of ideas. And when you think about their warfare, the Lunars are far more cavalry-oriented than infantry (I’ve been working on the new WBRM for the last year or so, so I am pretty immersed in that).But ultimately, both are pretty limited. The Lunars, like the Orlanthi, are their own thing. So if you start going down the Lunars are Roman route – throw some Persian or Seleucid images at yourself. If you go too far down the Persian route, go watch Gladiator again or I Claudius. And if you are in balance with both, go and read some Moorcock, or Dune, or the Wyrm Ouroborus, or John Buscema’s Conan comics. Put it all in the blender and press puree!

Whether the Horse Lords influence is a residue from the Dawn Age, or from Sheng Seleris, or from the terrible nomad wars of the Fifth Wane, it is definitely there. Just look at all those cavalry units in WBRM.But then again, it is really that Lunar College of Magic that gives the Lunar Empire its edge. Anyone can muster a lot of cavalry. The Pentans did that. The Carmanians did that. But just about nobody ever managed to get a multidisciplinary synergy going with massed magicians. And nobody ever managed to have a tamed Chaos demon as a shock force, or call down meteors as artillery. And that’s where the Lunar Empire breaks all mundane models.

For example, I can certainly imagine the Red Emperor wearing a crown like this:


But at the same time, the Persian analogy also has plenty of limitations. The Lunars are a river-based empire, and their plains probably resembles the Midwest more than it does the Iranian Plateau!

We as writers, illustrators, etc. know all these references, but don’t need them for people to get an impression of the Lunars.We just say they are a big empire that rules much of the world, is ruled by the Red Emperor – a son of the Red Moon Goddess. The Lunars have weird Moon magic that is timed with the phase of the Red Moon, and they are nigh-unstoppable because of their magicians and the giant Crimson Bat that devours cities and armies.And then show them the pretty pictures from forthcoming books. Especially the one showing a happy Crimson Bat devouring a city!

As an aside, I am working on the chit counters for the new edition of WBRM, so the look of the Lunars is very much in mind.

And just for fun, this is perhaps a good inspiration for what the mundane elements of the Lunar Army look like in action:


which helps explain Greg’s early sultan/satrap confusion. Because damn if those satraps don’t look like they ought to be sultan of somewhere!

Satrap Dara Happan/New Pelorian/Carmanian. Term literally means “protector of the province.” Denotes a ruler with some inherent authority that is properly subordinate and loyal to the emperor.SultanPentan/New Pelorian. Term literally means “power” or “authority”. Denotes a ruler who claim almost full sovereignty, but without claiming universal rule. In the early Lunar Empire “sultan” was used synonymously with “satrap”. After the fall of Sheng Seleris, this title has largely disappeared in favor of “satrap” although it is sometimes used to describe the rulers of peaceful barbarian nations and sometimes for powerful satraps or governors.

Cults of RuneQuest – this is going to be our guide! Courtesy of the amazing Agathe Pitié! Plus I plan to sneak reveal some of the incredible art from Loïc Muzy!

I thought people might be interested in seeing the current WiP of Boldhome from above.

A little snipped from the Campaign Guide that folk might find interesting. I’m going to talk more about this on Saturday during Impromptu Con!PHASE THREE: PRINCE OF SARTAR (1625-1629)This phase begins with the Dragonrise and is dominated by Argrath’s rise to power in Dragon Pass. By the end of the phase, Argrath is King of Dragon Pass. This is the default start of the RuneQuest: Glorantha Hero Wars campaign.SYNOPSISEvents – A True Dragon awakens and devours the Lunar Army in Dragon Pass. The Lunar Empire itself is nearly torn apart by internal dissent and a major invasion by a confederation of Pentan tribes. Sartar is liberated but its first free Prince has a short reign, and the kingdom nearly collapses from internal rivalries. Argrath lights the Flame of Sartar and becomes the Prince of Sartar. As the Lunar Empire returns to Dragon Pass, Argrath renews his alliance with Harrek the Berserk and defeats the Lunar Army at the Battle of Heroes, killing the mortal shell of Jar-eel the Razoress. Argrath goes on to marry the Feathered Horse Queen and becomes the King of Dragon Pass. The current mask of the Red Emperor is sacrificed but a new mask does not appear.Wars – Lunar war against confederation of Pentan tribes. Lunar attempts to reconquer Sartar; Argrath’s wars of unification; the Battle of Heroes. In Talastar, Hahlgrim fights a war against Ralzakark.Changes – A True Dragon awakens as do draconic thoughts long quiescent. Long-forgotten spirits and heroes reappear. The Red Goddess is wounded by Harrek the Berserk. The Red Emperor is killed and the Glowline temporarily fails. Mad Sultanate released, and Charg is thawed from the Syndics Ban. Elder Races – Reforestation of Fronela. In Peloria and Maniria new woods appear overnight. Other Events: True Dragon shadows Red Moon. First firebergs seen in the Homeward Ocean. Waertagi claim rule of the seas and attack all other sailors.Major Characters – Argrath, Harrek, Jar-eel, Kallyr Starbrow, Gunda, Beat-pot Aelwrin, Ethilrist, Fazzur Wideread, Fazzur’s Sons, Feathered Horse Queen, Leika Ballista, Mularik, Pharandros

As an aside, the economics of spell cost in RuneQuest is player and significant NPC oriented. 3 point spells are really rarely cast outside of those groups (and one-use spells are almost never cast without a imperative reason!). So for example, Resurrection exists for two main reasons:1. To give beloved player characters a chance to return from the dead;2. To give the GM an excuse for bringing dead NPCs back into the game.Outside of these two situations, Resurrection should be pretty rare, and the CA cult prefers to use their magic for Cure Disease, Heal Wound, and so on. Resurrection is not something commonly used as part of criminal investigations, etc. Any more than an Orlanthi clan skirmish involves dozens of Thunderbolt spells!

As a further aside, the RuneQuest rules are intended to model a player character’s interaction with the setting – they are rules for a ROLEPLAYING GAME. They are not intended to be a Newtonian cosmic mechanicism that you wind up and watch the NPCs interact with each other without further GM direction!

Remember RQ is the rules system for a heroic fantasy RPG. It is not intended to be SimGlorantha.

So if a Player Character casts Resurrection all the time – that’s fine! Or Thunderbolt. Or True Sword. Or whatever. They are player characters and the protagonists in their story.Same thing if Halcyon var Enkorth keeps getting Resurrected.

it is totally fine when a player joins CA, or if the players decide to have strong connections to the CA temple so that they can get Resurrected – that’s what the rules are for.What I am warning against is assuming the NPCs of the CA cult happily casts Resurrection on another NPC in order to further an investigation. Or that the CA Healers “hold back” their Rune points until near a Holy Day so that they can minimax their Rune Point replenishment. Those are all valid strategies for minimaxing Player Characters – but don’t assume NPCs operate like that.

The CA cult tried to Resurrect Kallyr, but every attempt failed. And Broyan there was nothing left to Resurrect.

This is a work in progress for the Sartar, but Matt Ryan and I are working on a street map of Boldhome. Combined with Olivier Sanfilippo amazing Boldhome map, this will make Boldhome a fully playable urban setting for your campaigns. It also shows how AMAZING Boldhome is (and should pretty much explain immediately why the Sartarites are far more urbane than presented in the old Hero Wars material). Think Petra plus Mesa Verde plus Markarth (Skyrim) plus Yosemite Valley.

I know that thanks to the dwarfs, Boldhome has running water, and access to hot springs. It is probably the least stinky large human city in Glorantha!

And as it is the political, religious, and commercial centre of the kingdom, a large percentage of the population has been there. The other cities try to copy its style, which in turn gets copied by some of the tribal settlements.

Sartar has a population of about 170,000. 10,000 of those people live in Boldhome. Another 15,000 live in the other urban areas. That’s plenty urbanised.

The Sartarites do make a difference between City and Town, and I suspect the word city and town are not interchangeable.

TOWNSTowns are substantial settlements with populations greater than villages or hill forts but smaller than cities. Some were originally hill forts that have grown into market and religious centers. The population of a town is between 300-1500 people, most of whom farm, but also includes skilled crafters and other specialists, professional warriors, and other retainers.Towns are surrounded by walls, usually made of stone. Clearwine Fort, is a town built within the cyclopean stone walls of an ancient hill fort. Buildings within the towns are usually of stone, mud brick (adobe), wood, or a combination of these materials.A town includes major temples to Orlanth and Ernalda, and sometimes a minor temple to another tribal deity or Lightbringer. Towns have several shrines to other gods or spirits.Towns have a weekly market where the local peddlers get together to sell to customers and to buy from merchants from the cities.


In 1476 Sartar made the first of his more subtle changes on the land when he settled a war wherein the southern Kultain and Locaem tribes were driving out the Balmyr and Sambarri tribes from their ancient lands. Out of such destruction Sartar forged the foundation of the first of his five cities, and began changing the peoples to make a great nation. Each city is the “shared space” of a union of tribes, and serves as a primary market and religious center. Other groups or tribes may also have a share in the city but have less say over how the city is operated. Although Orlanth and Ernalda have temples in each city, minor deities and even foreign deities have temples and shrines.

The place where the stream goes underground and comes back up is a stormwater conduit. Again, nice having your infrastructure built by dwarfs.

Any premodern society that is 20% urban is very urban.

The Beastmen

There are no records of the Beastmen living in Dragon Pass in the First Age. During the later Second Age, there was the famous stitched zoo at Voss Varainu, where the Wyrms Minds Collective kept prisoners and slaves as zoo specimens, pets, laboratory freaks, and demi beasts. It is known that these were the results of blasphemous experiments to create new types of beings. However, the reasons for these experiments are unknown (although there is plenty of conjecture, most of which is wrong) and the Beastmen themselves claim they have always lived here.The satyrs are one of the Beastmen types. Mostly male with a minority of females, they are sometimes confused for broo by ignorant humans. Famed for their lechery, satyrs consider dryads and other nymphs to be their natural mates, but will also try to court humans and elves. They do not force themselves on the unwilling. Like many other Beastmen, satyrs rarely join cults, but worship Arachne Solara at the Wild Temple. They are talented magicians with their woodwind pipes, and it is believed by some scholars that their skill is innate.

One thing worth emphasising is that there are plenty of mysteries about the Beastmen (including the ducks) that do not have answers. Not even by them.

So where do the ducks come from? Nobody knows for sure, not even the ducks (claims of Ganderland aside, which I suspect is considered dubious even by the ducks).

Here’s an interesting silver coin from the First or Second Age Dragon Pass showing the goddess Kero Fin giving the Necklace of Uleria to the King of the Heortlings.

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