Getting new runes

Submitted by Araknir on Tue, 05/06/2012 – 05:32


I’m new here and getting started on Glorantha (even if I have been interested in passing since the original HeroWars game).

One of the questions that have been asked by my players (as they are really caught on the runes symbolism) is about the process of aquiring new runes. On page 73 of S:KoH, there is a side note about heroquests to do that, but what bugs me is how frequent is getting a new runes in Glorantha (and in the Orlanthi society). There were talks about chieftains or kings gaining the Mastery Rune through heroquesting notably.

As I understand the hero quest process, this could be the result of several things :

– As the main reward of the heroquest for the quester

– As a side benefit

– As the result of an heroquest challenge.

Is my understanding correct ? Is there some other thing I did not think about ?

I feel that a hero should be able to take a new rune at any time, as long as he can justify the story to himself, the gm and, maybe, the other players. However, it is an ordinary ability that can only be used to enhance other abilities and in limited other circumstances.

To fully power it up requires the magical insights from either joining a relevant cult, going on a relevant HeroQuest, or, maybe, getting the skill up to 1W3 (randomly pulling a number out of the air).


So that would mean that if my Orlanth Initiate with the Air, Movement and Magic rune would take the Mastery rune as a new ability, he would then be able to use it as any other Orlanth Initiate ? That means that the 3 runes bought at character creation are the ones defining the personality and main affinities, but a character can manifest as many runes as he can justify (wether through history, or through questing).

Going like that, this would get me to say that going on the correct heroquest is a valid justification of a new rune manifestation ?



Existing initiate taking further runes of god

Yes, I would tend to agree in both cases and would immediately allow full magical effects to the level of the new rating, including noticeable personality changes.

The downside of the additional runes in game terms is that hero points have to be more widely spread to develop the hero and could slow down progression in their highest rating, behind the campaign dial.

For Orlanthi, these new runes would be descibed as additional “breaths” or souls.


A heroquest is not

A heroquest is not required.

To become a Lunar initiate requires the acquisition of the Moon Rune.  This is probably the most common acquisition of a new rune in Sartar and for that reason, I doubt acquiring other runes is viewed favourably by traditionalist sartarites.

But doesn’t aquiring the Moon rune something “appart” ? I understand it as specific to the lunar ways of integrating foreign beliefs into their own system of values (but I maybe completely mistaken, given my knowledge of lunar ways is far from extensive).

Would it be possible as an exemple for someone to gain the Communication rune by initiating into the cult of Issaries (following a rather long process) instead of having the Communication rune right from the start ? This was something that seemed possible in the previous edition of HQ (with runic affinities coming from the cult rather that the cult coming from the affinities).

Acquring New Runes – or exchanging Old ones

First, Welcome to Glorantha : always a pleasure to talk to new people about this world.

Next, my thoughts about getting new runes : it’s possible if you say it is, and feel it can feed new plot lines and make the game more interesting, and the player is motivated. That’s it, rules-wise.

Gloranthically speaking, you awake the God(s) in you at initiation time. Issaries chose you and you ARE the Exchange Rune. Your three initial runes are part of you, are you, and You are them. Only a massive, intense, radical change can change them – such as intiating to the Moon. In this case I rule your REPLACE your Air Rune by the Moon Rune. You sacrifice your connection to the Air and replace it withi something else, probably at a lower rating. And then you get axed by the local uroxi.

In some circumstances you can ADD a new rune, but in my personal experience it’s not very interesting – the player has too many possibilities to act on, forget half of them and cannot seriously commit to his Cult and God – so I don’t often allow more than three Runes.

What about, say, a Humakti

What about, say, a Humakti who lacks a Truth Rune or a Lhankoring who lacks a Law Rune? Could they perform some heroquest to acquire them later in-game, perhaps while preparing to become devotees/as part of the devotion itself?


I think it could be justified, as long as it’s not too easy or too soon from the start. Beginning choices should still matter, I think.

That’s mostly what came into mind. However, if it were to come close to some own god, I would guess it would result in something similar to lunar initiation, with the god rune replacing an existing one. Would have to give it some thoughts if the situation arise.

On another note, were the god born into their runes, or did they aquire them afterward ? In the latter case, could it be possible to reenact the myth in order to gain similar benefits ?

A God is a Rune

To me, there are no humakti without Death and Honor (the name they give to Truth) or lankhorings without Knowledge (the name they use for Truth). Having such Runes is what makes a cultist, literally. Who’d want to play a humakti without death anyway ? Where’s the pleasure of playing a scary, half-demented, sociopathic character?

The point made about Gods born with or acquiring Runes is quite subtle. Yes, many Gods have a chequered past ; they lose or conquer Powers in their “lives”. In fact, many apparently independent deities are but smaller aspects of Greater Gods focussing on one of their powers : the Golden Healing Rain for Heler, for instance. So a character walking in a God’s footsteps might switch Runes along the way.

But definitely not lose Death for a humakti… I’m big on Humakt.