Spirit Charms in Glorantha & Runequest

Shamans and other spirit magicians have ability to bind minor spell spirits ( or shard spirits ) into small delicate items in such a way that when used, broken or otherwise triggered the spirit will then cast an effect onto the being that caused triggered the effect, the spirit is then released afterward the effect, and the item is no longer magical in nature.

Shamans will use these to give limited magical aid to groups from the tribe or clan who need extra magical support in a task, but cannot be accompanied by a shaman, priest or other specialist magic weaver.

Usually this is for positive effects such as buffing spells (bladesharp, mobility, protection, etc) or positive effects (such as healing or dispel magic). However, some shamans will bind more offensive spirits (disruption, befuddle, demoralise) etc into items which an enemy can be tricked or persuaded into triggering.

Most effects are simple battle magic spells where the power comes from the casting spirit, but other more exotic effects have been noted from some more obscure spirits.

The precise nature of how the cast will reflect the nature of the spirit released to cast it, and the intention of the shaman when they bound the spirit into the charm. Most positive spirits will have an intent to bless and help the personal who breaks the charms.  More aggressive spirits will be prone to hurt and obstruct those breaking the charm.

Spirit charms detect for both spirit and magic. The precise trigger event is determined by the shaman and usually reflects the nature of item and spirit. Shamans will usually bind spirits into items that reflect the nature of the spell or effect, not because it is need or aids the magic, but to helps the users understand, identify and remember the use of each charm.

The Making of Spirit Charms

Spirit charms are relatively easy for experienced shamans to create, and go through 3 steps

  • Preparation of the Host Item – The item will be of at least reasonable quality, and rarely offensive to the spirit the shaman wishes to bind. It will then be marked by with Runes and other shamanic symbols to create the binding.
  • Finding the Spirit – The shaman will then have to find the relevant spirit on the spirit plane, these tend to be more minor spirits. Spirits will dwell in places which make sense within the known localities of the spirit plane, more magical places will have greater numbers and more powerful spirits, types will reflect the nature and history of corresponding places on the material plane.Any shaman will usually have a limited number and selection of known spirits in his local that would be useful for charms. Finding specific spirits to create specific or more powerful charms may take considerable time, research and effort on behalf of the shaman.
  • Binding the Spirit – The shaman will then engage the spirit in spirit combat this is usually a brief process for all but the most powerful spirits (or weak shamans). When the combat is won the spirit is then bound into the item and the shaman determines the correct trigger for releasing the charm.

Binding items and triggers, tend to take traditional formats within spirit traditions, but this is matter of practice not limitation.

Because of this process most shamans will create a limited range of charms, due to local availability of spirits and the precise tradition they belong to. A Shaman can make many familiar spirit charms in one day, but it may take weeks to create a specific or powerful charm.

Exchange of Spirit Charms

Once a spirit has been bound into the charm it can be transferred between people and used by whoever performs the trigger action.   The only thing required to use the item usefully is the knowledge of the spirit charms triggers, most are clear and innate from the nature of the host item.

Many traditions are willing to accept the trade and exchange of spirit charms and prices will depend up on local factors and the general availability of magic, but will reflect a worth twice that of the casting of the equivalent spirit magic spell.

Other traditions are jealous of their charms and will take a very dim view of outsiders in possession or wanting to trade their charms, these are quite often traditions based round ancestor worship, or charms relating to clan totems.

Charms within WOD:Glorantha

Charms will have an effect which usually mimics a battle magic spell and a dice pool which will usually range between 1 and 4, exceptional spirit charms will have a dicepool of 5 to 7, dicepools over 8 are incredibly rare. Once a charm is triggered it has no future magical value.

Using a charm requires an action, but no expenditure of quintessence. The only dice pools that can be used are the items. A character’s runes cannot be used to boost the effect as the spirit is creating the effect, and spirits own runes are already included in the dice pool

Charms in Runequest

Request charms have one spell spirit magic effect, which requires no power for the user to cast. It does take up one action.  Variable spells usually have a value of 4 or less. Spells are usually cast with a casting power between 6 and 10. More powerful charms have been made but these are unusual. Once a charm is triggered once  it has no future magical value.

Charms in Heroquest

Heroquest charms re a one use magical keyword.  Usually the keyword is very specific and usually having a value of between 12 and W, in rare circumstances they can be a strong as 10W but these are exceptional.  Once a charm is triggered once  it has no future magical value.

Example Spirit Charms;

A by no means exhaustive example list of possible spirit charms;

  • Salve of Healing 4
  • Dreamcatcher of Spirit Block 3
  • Tripwire of Disruption
  • Oil of Shimmer 3
  • Mirror of Befuddle
  • Sharpening Stone of Bladesharp 2
  • Arrow of Speedart
  • Twig of Ignite
  • Whip of Mobility


2 thoughts on “Spirit Charms in Glorantha & Runequest

    1. Cheers,

      but more I think a way of shamans doing magic than an individual magical items.

      I can see many tribesman in Prax and Balazar having 3 or 4 minor spirit charms on them.

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