As you all know, the Runequest character sheet sets the various Power Runes against each other as opposed polarities, e.g., Death-Life, Movement-Stasis, etc. It also sets up Man against Beast.
The use of the Runes in RQG comes out of the Personality Traits in Pendragon, which in turn come out of the Personality Traits for NPCs in RQ2. Greg’s first stab at this was the Epic System from the late-1980s/early 1990s, which basically adapted Pendragon to Glorantha, and later became playable as Pendragon Pass.
In our early drafts of RQG, we originally had Personality Traits, but Ken Rolston pointed we could just roll them into the Runes – finally making the game “RuneQuest”! The Power Runes were easy – but we had a few of Greg’s traits that just didn’t work with the Power Runes. At some point we realized that with Man versus Beast, we could throw a polarity of social mores and instinct – civilization versus nature.
And so we have Man and Beast. Works well for most of the Elder Races – at least those with the Man Rune (e.g, trolls, ducks, tusk riders, beast people, etc.). With elves we use the Plant Rune, instead of Beast, as they are vegetables not animals.
Note that a human initiate of Aldrya with the plant Rune- like a human initiate of Kyger Litor – isn’t a human anymore.