WOD: Glorantha Rune Magic

Rune magic is a form of magic where through worship of Gods and a knowledge of the runes associated with those Gods that worshippers gain access to magical powers and effects which directly reflect aspects of the Deity’s power which they used in Godtime. They are commonly known as Rune spells or Divine spells.

Rune spells are more powerful than common magic spells as they channel the runic powers of the Gods themselves, but they are very inflexible as they reflect actions and feats that Gods performed with Godtime and cannot deviate from such without a heroquest.


Any character who is involved in serious worship and the following of a particular God, will develop a pact with him which usually (almost always in Orlanthi Society ) the same as initiation.  This pact both ties the worshipper to the God and the God to worshipper. The worshipper commits to giving  worship and serving the Gods earthly leadership and/or purposes, The God commits to giving the worshiper access to his magic.

This pact is always carried out on the hero plane and usually in the presence of the Cults Priests and Leaders  who both oversee and ensure the process is safe for usually young worshippers. However its possible for individuals to form pacts with Gods directly on the hero plane without Cult involvement. This is considered both dangerous and can cause ongoing issues with the cult hierarchy.

Rune Points

A pact allows a character to use his runic associations to  generate a level of access to a Gods Runic Powers, In game terms this done by adding the total values of the runes that the God and the adventurer share.

For example;  Bob the Humakti has the runes Air 3, Death 5, Truth 2, Movement 3, because Humakt has the Runes of Death and Truths. Bobs rune points  (or pact score )for Humakt would be 7.

If a character has pacts with more than one God with the same runes he must choose which rune point pool the runes are added to and cannot add them to both.


When a  character gains certain levels in his runes he gain access to the rune spells associated with that level of runic affinity. Runespells become available to different cults at different times, but generally the pattern will be like this.

  • oooo – One or two common cult specific spells
  • ooooo – Most general , common and variable rune spells
  • oooooo – Cult leadership spells, three point spells
  • ooooooo – Major effects such as sunspear, sever spirit and resurrection

Casting Rune Magic

Rune Magic is cast by spending at least one rune point to cast any of the rune spells which are available to your character from that God.

The player then rolls the  number of dice of the relevant rune rating and the number of rune points he is willing to spend on the spell  with target difficulties of 6 for each success.

The number of success reflects the  success of the spell. Most spells effects will scale with number of success rolled.

Compared to battle magic Rune spells tend to be 2 times as powerful as Battle magic spells, this may affect potency, range of effects, number of targets, duration.

Example: Thus each success in shield adds a boost to both counter magic and defence, and is not eliminated when overcome.

For resisted rolls the defender chooses a rune to use to defend against the attack, and the storyteller decides a difficulty level for the defence based on the choice of rune, and its appropriateness to the situation.  Spirit or non magical defence again rune magic are at difficulty 8.

Regaining Rune Points

Runepoints are regained through worship here the participant interacts or travels to the hero plane, for priests and ranking officials this may be every holy day, for initiates this tends to be on high holy days or in the sacred time baring special events.

Also positive actions interacting with your God or reflecting your Gods nature in the hero plane, will also help a character regain rune points.

Roll a characters pact score with a target role of 6, every success is a regained rune point.

This assumes a character is at least a minor temple and part of priest led congregational worship.  If a character is at larger temple or holy site difficulties may drop. if a character is at a shrine or on their own difficulties may rise.

Sacrifices and other offerings may also reduced the difficulty levels.

Common Rune Magic

The following spells are common to most cults are accessed via the following runes, some these spells may also be accessed by cult specific runes by individual cults.

Most high priests take time to develop their mastery rune, also most cults have temples where there are diviners who focus on the truth rune, artificers who focus on the magic runes and summoners who focus on cult spirits.

Priest who fail to focus on at least one other these three magic disciplines and focus solely on the runes of their God  tend to poorly placed to care for the needs of their temple or flock. They are more focused up on emulating The Gods than representing the God to their flock ,they are sometimes called Runelords.

Common Rune Magic Spells

Rune Level Spells Available
4  Dismiss magic, Extension, Heal Wound, Matrix Creation
5 Command Cult Spirit, Find Enemy, Multispell, Sanctify, Spirit Block, Warding, Bind Enchantment, Enchant metal, Magic Point Enchantment,
6 Spirit Armor Enchantment
4 Command Cult Spirit, Heal Wound, Multi spell, Sanctify
5 Dismiss Magic, Divination, Extension, Spirit Block, Warding, Binding Enchantment
6 Ban, Enchant iron
4 Command Cult Spirit,  Sanctify, Soul Sight, Spirit Block, Binding Enchantment, Spirit Armor Enchantment
5 Disniss Magic, Divination, Extension,Heal Wound, Multipsell, Warding, Magic Point Creation, Matrix Creation
6 Ban
4 Divination, Find Enemy
5 Sanctify, Soul Sight,
6 Ban

Most cults will offer specific rune spells which are dependent upon the cult specific rules. Quick write ups to come but for example the seven mother base spell availability will be;

Seven Mothers Spells

Rune Level Spells Available
4 Reflection, Summon Lune, Command Cult Spirit
5 Mindblast, Madness
6 Chaos Gift
4 Truesword, Find Enemy
5 Shield
4  Heal Wound
5 Regrow Limb


Further spells will be available from subcults.

One thought on “WOD: Glorantha Rune Magic

  1. Hi there!

    I don’t dislike your system, but I’m a bastard who thinks life is tough, the gods tougher – but willing to help out if you’re willing to sacrifice to them.

    So, in this version, ALL of a God’s spells are available cast if you have the required pact level? And they’re all cast spontaneously (ie, as needed)??

    How’s about.. in sticking with the original RQ – instead of using Runes and Rune points, characters have /cult/ Lore (eg, Orlanthi Rex Lore, Chalanna Arroy Lore, etc). Each dot represents knowledge of the cult mysteries, and advancement (Lay, Initiate, Acolyte, Priest/Lord, High Priest/Lord).

    Each level and dot also represents the power of Rune spells available.

    Each dot of a Rune spell costs permanent quintessence (which can be regained through normal experience). Each dot of a Rune spell is required before the higher level can be purchased (so, Shield 3 costs 3 permanent quintessence points PLUS the costs for Shield 1 and Shield 2).

    To make the Runes more useful, each dot in a Rune associated with the God is an automatic success. (the more you emulate your god, the easier it is to invoke them… of course, this sucks for single rune gods…).

    As per RQ, once the spell is cast, then it is gone – unless it’s reusable and you go to the temple to pray for it again.

    One of the things I really like about RQ is that choices and benefits (like spells and enchantments) actually cost a real sacrifice to the player – a real permanent effect that has significance. Of course, your version of RQ/Glorantha may be different… 🙂

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