[Runequest] Alternatives to POW sacrifice for magic item creation and other Glorantha stuff

Marko Perälä perala at student.uef.fi
Sat Oct 13 09:56:58 EST 2012

>Please note, that's "power", *not* "POW". I can't speak for anyone else,
>but the mechanism of sacrificing characteristic POW to make enchantments
>always struck me as drastic - at least from a character perspective. Give
>up a piece of my *soul*? For a relatively puny magic item? There are times
>when that might be worth it, but given the circumstances, that was almost
>never a choice I was willing to make.

Well, you could always have your PCs' prisoners pay their weregild by making a few enchantments instead of cash. Coins are supposed to rather rare in primitive societies anyway! Just divide it by 1500 to get the number of POW points. It might be better if PCs were paid in services rather than piles of cash.
Another option would be to summon a spirit, dominate and then order it to make enchantments, but I frown on this method. Never used it and I think it should not be allowed. Too much potential for infinite abuse. Of course if PCs insist, they might invoke retribution from some higher ranking spirit authority that doesn't like them bullying its children.
Third method would be to borrow from, say GURPS magic the enchanting process. For those not familiar with system, it has two ways of creating magic items, "quick and dirty" and "slow and sure". In "quick and dirty"-method you pour sheer power into object to make it magical. It takes hours to make, but it's costful. Let's call it the equivalent to standard RQ enchantment. The "slow and sure"-method substitutes time and rituals for use of power. Instead of using large amounts of power at once the enchanter(s) use miniscule amounts of power every day (MPs in RQ terms). This burden can then be divided among multiple enchanters that form a wizard circle. Now this is one idea that I think RQ people should rob into their system.
Fourth way would be to widen the types of spirits there are to be bound into objects to give a wider range of effects. An intellect spirit with spell memorised and bound into object is basically a spell matrix. A Bladesharp 6 costs only 2 POW it was in an intellect spirit versus 6 for a spell matrix. A POW spirit is basically a recharging MP-crystal, cost 1 POW. How about spirits that create other effects? In Elric there  was law spirits that caused a bound weapon to always cause maximum damage etc. One of the things that could be done is use bound spell spirits, you know the ones shaman summons to teach people spirit magic. That's their only function in standard RQ. How about binding them into an object to make their only spell a permanent fixture of the bound item? Maybe they could be used as spirits of possession as well?

>I must admit I was never comfortable with the idea of sentient creatures being made into familiars.
>Not sure why entirely I but I felt that making a creature ' whole '  in stats terms didn't
>automatically mean you could command it. Any sentient ie free willed creature would surely need some
>kind of Dominate spell cast on it permanently. Now, Fixed INT creatures I didn't have a problem with,
>and I could even go with the idea of a creature that you had ' uplifted' from Fixed to Free INT being
>at your beck and call. But a previously Free INT creature....it just didn't feel right.

You know, sorcerer is pouring some of himself into the familiar, so in effect the new creature is an extension of the sorcerer. Despite existing in a different place it is also the sorcerer himself, not an independently existing creature anymore. I guess that's the reason, why familiar loses whatever limitations it had before becoming one. That also explains why sorcerer controls it, like he would control his own arm.

>Although the integration of Glorantha with early iterations of the
>RuneQuest system gave RQ a unique quality, that setting also *hampered*
>future iterations of the system by forcing them into Gloranthan-specific
>concepts - particularly of magic. The simplicity of the RQ system allows a
>huge variety of possible magic systems to be used, suitable for a
>staggering range of different settings and concepts...but I suspect that
>most RQ games still tend to use the same old spirit magic and divine magic.
>Yes, there are alternate systems out there (I've even written a couple),
>but it would be nice to see a large-scale project to create and collect
>many more working alternate magic systems for the RQ family of games.

My favourite is the old RQ3 colour magic system. It had spells divided by themes into colours that could be mastered separately. That's excellent potential for themed color magician characters. It was a nice and compact system, that had a bit of the same flexibility as sorcery did. That division by color resembles also the schools of magic system D&D 3.5, another idea with potential for flavor. Sadly D&D turned it into cumbersome monstrosity with those endless spell lists and insane anounts of special rules. Colour magic had just enough spells to give each colour its own theme, but not so much as to make it confusing.

> Although the integration of Glorantha with early iterations of the
> RuneQuest system gave RQ a unique quality, that setting also *hampered*
> future iterations of the system by forcing them into Gloranthan-specific
> concepts - particularly of magic.

Ah, Glorantha. I'm getting progressively weary of Glorantha. Okay, let's do this. (engage rant mode) All those blank lands and the greatest blank land of all - the future. I didn't intend to mention Glorantha, but one thing really bugs me: The history ends at ST 1624. Nothing happens after that, except some vague notions in King of Sartar and one measly prophesy per area. In Fronela elfs rule and Kingdom of war takes on Loskalm. In Ralios Arkat returns in 5 forms for some reason not explained and Seshnela fights Pasos, oooookayy...
That's all I've read about Glorantha past ST 1624 that wasn't all about Red emperor vs. Argrath. One would think that after some quarter of century someone, somewhere had a little more to say on the subject. I really hope this gets corrected in RQ6.

For decades RQ players and GMs have been forced to place their campaign in the past of Glorantha, because everything ends at 1624. In theory it's a nice idea giving GMs total freedom to run their campaigns any way they like. In practise not so much, because no one has any context on which to place the surrounding world. Image how it would be if tomorrow thereafter you didn't get any news - nada. Newspapers - blank, television news - white noise, internet news sites - no headlines. It's not working so well, is it? I hope someone who makes the game takes a lesson from FASA - Battletech and Shadowrun. With those games time didn't end at a fixed date - it progressed. Every now and then players received reports on world events (State Of The Art 2063, State Of The Art 2064, World 2062, World 2070 among others). That gave players a feel that the world was alive with something else doing something besides PCs.  I'm not asking a full history from here to eternity, just a few stories from each gloranthan area to give some idea of general events. What nations go to war and what make peace? Who invents a new revolutionary magic or technology and what it does to surrounding society? Who gets assasinated or deposed? What area suffers chaos infestations or famines or disease epidemics? What new sects are born and which ones clash? What about racial tensions or diplomatic insidents? Then, this being Glorantha, what mysterious miracles or cataclysms happen that awe/scare people?

How about a magazine that describes one year in Glorantha in each number - Gloranthan gazetteer ST 1625, Gloranthan gazetteer ST 1626, Gloranthan gazetteer ST 1627, etc. How about "Merchants tales ST 1625" or "Lhankor files ST 1625", each issue giving a few pages on each area of Glorantha (Fronela, Ralios, Seshnela, Maniria, Jrustela, Kralorela, Pamaltela, Peloria, Desert, Dragon pass). Maybe some eyewitness accounts on important events combined with more general list of events. Let's get this show on the road! (disengage rant mode)

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