Copyright © 1996, 1999 by Michael O’Brien
Of all the Lunar Coders, Maculus – the eccentric and unnaturally aged Red Goddess sorceror – was the most fun to dream up. I had to learn more than I ever wanted to know about both the RQ3 Sorcery rules and its weirdo Red Goddess variant to write him, and he probably provoked more queries and questions than the other Coders combined. Here are some additional GM notes about the craziest Coder, taken from my responses to various Glorantha Digest posts following the publication of Strangers in Prax.
Maculus the Lunar Soceror
As an initiate in the Red Moon cult, Maculus has been trained in the special magic the Red Goddess offers her elite devotees. He knows the following Lunar magic skills – Amplify 100%, Combine 69%, Distance 81% and Prolong 55%.
Maculus only knows 1 point of the spirit magic spells he uses. There’s no need to know them at a higher level, because if he wants them more powerful he can use his Red Moon abilities.
For instance, the sort of thing he might do during a night operation is cast Light 1, Amplified x5 (50 meter radius) and Prolonged x12 (1 hour duration) for a cost of 19 magic points. Of course, on really dark nights (dark/dying moons) he can’t use his spell manipulation abilities, so would have to use his Glow sorcery spell instead. On nights of the full moon Maculus’s Red Goddess magic skills really come to the fore, as he can use his full Free Int (18) on each of the Lunar Magic Skills, eg. Amplify x18, Distance x18, Prolong x18. Costly on MP’s though, as the following episode relates:
Maculus is on the roof of Hanufel’s Magic Goods, where he lodges in the upper storey. He has come up to look at and commune with the Red Moon, for tonight is the Goddess’s Night, and the Moon has risen in all its crimson glory. Maculus’s reverie is disturbed however, by a fracas going on somewhere in an alley over in Suntown. He piously uses his Red Goddess magic skills to investigate. Spotting a large post near to where the noise is coming from, he uses Combine to cast Light 1, Distance x9 to light the post (500 meters away) and Farsee 1, Amplified x18 and Prolonged x1 (10 minutes) to then look around. This has cost him a hefty 30 magic points, with a 55% chance of success (his lowest skill of all the skills employed here – in this case Prolong). Maculus might spend a few moments in a worship Ceremony asking the Red Goddess to improve his chance of casting the spell (eg. spends a round or two using Ceremony).
Maculus’s Light spell naturally bathes the area in a crimson glow and his incredibly powerful Farsee (which improves his Scan skill by 90%) enables him to spot the source of the trouble: a Badside thug taunting and beating up an old beggar, who desperately tries to fend off his blows with his walking stick.
Maculus is tempted to end the fracas with a low-intensity and long-range Smother spell, but decides to amuse himself and the Goddess above.
First he uses his Distance skill to cast a Protection 1, Amplifed x10 on the old geezer, so the bully’s blows just bounce off him. This costs 20 magic points (1 for the Protection, 9 for the Distance and 10 for the Amplify). The chance of successfully casting is equal to his skill % in his lowest skill of all the skills employed here, in this case his Distance, 81%.
He then uses his Combine skill to cast an Demoralize spell, Amplified x5 and a Slow, Amplified x3, and Distanced x9 on the thug. This costs another 20 magic points, but if successful, the thug will be virtually unable to move and thoroughly Demoralised (chance to hit reduced by 50%, and then a further -25%). Chance to cast equals Combine skill here, lowest of all at 69%. Maybe Mac uses Ceremony again?
The old geezer starts laying in to the cringing thug, rejoicing in his new-found miraculous powers. Maculus, somewhat drained (having expended 90 magic points!) watches on with wry amusement as the Sun Town watch show up, casting Light spells of their own, to drag off the thug. The old boy dances around them, telling them it must have the Red Moon herself who answered his plea for help. The new convert later checks in to the Teelo Norri doss house and, in between mouthfuls of potato bread and date mush, regales everyone with his story. Maculus returns to his devotions.
(On the topic of Red Moon magic, note also that Eslas the Tracker has a Speedart Matrix thumb ring which was created by the Lunar College of Magic. The matrix casts a Speedart spell Amplified x7 points [+40% to hit, +10 damage]. Nasty!)
Maculus the Photocopier!
Maculus originally began as an amateur technologist, but this aspect of his character got scuppered by the time of the final product. I originally envisaged a cute boxed section, detailing some of his whacky inventions. Maculus would be something of a mad scientist type, and because I’m not into mini-maxing characters all his creations would have some serious flaw or another. This approach is best exemplified by contrasting Maculus’s undearingly flawed attempt to create a familiar – the ungainly metal hound Canus – to Nailhead, Artlatan’s power-gamer fantasy familiar described later in the book.
Unfortunately, I no longer have this section, save for one part which I later posted to the Glorantha Digest as part of a discussion on Lunar printing methods. This also the real reason why it says in Strangers in Prax Maculus has blacked out all the windows to one of the rooms of his residence above Hanafel’s Magic Shoppe (see SiP, p.25).
“Maculus has invented a primitive box camera, using a special light-sensitive mineral, Glow spells and lots of patience. The images obtained form on a glass plate coated in the black powder, which is imported at great expense from the troll city of Blackwell in the Holy Country. They can only be viewed in a darkened room, as bright light would turn the whole plate white. Maculus has not yet come up with a way of fixing the tones on the plate so they can be shown in the light of day. So far, Maculus has only reproduced images of inanimate shapes and objects. He has not thought of taking portraits of people at all. Instead, he is working with the idea that one day multiple images could be taken of important documents, rather than getting a copyist to laboriously scribble single copies at a time by hand. Maculus feels that his invention could revolutionise the Lunar bureaucracy and improve literacy.”
I thought up a whole swathe of other whacko inventions, which I can longer fully recall. One was an arm-powered tricycle which he would ride around New Pavis, scaring the locals. Another was a mechanical replica of Princess Anderida, whom he has a secret passion for!
Maculus the Immortal
Maculus is a sprightly 132 years old, thanks to 85 years toiling in the “Church of Immortality”, an insidious false religion that claims to sell the secret of eternal life. Greg Fried raised a very good point on the Glorantha Digest: given Maculus’s age, if the Church is an “empty, hollow sham”, nevertheless it did seem to do something for him!
My response was that it did. The “sham” is that the cult just extends life, by taking “Youth” from lower members and giving it to those higher up (hence the cult’s big emphasis on continuous recruitment). However, it cannot grant true immortality. Cultists can still die from disease or injury or shock, and if you do, my guess is your soul becomes lost. Since Maculus left the Church 15 years ago he’s been aging naturally.
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- Gamemaster Notes for the Sun County River Ritual
- Sun County – Errata
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