Runes in WOD:Glorantha

In different systems for Glorantha runes have done different things from having very little effect on the game, to being much more central. Rather than trying to recreate the Heroquest runes system or to try to pre-empt the new RQ rules system. I’m after trying to create something a little different  which contains some elements of the WOD vibe.

The big difference is that most high level runic associations removes something of a sentient beings humanity and freewill. The power comes with a price, which is that characters become less mundane and start to become embodiments of  impersonal  cosmic powers.

This is a theme which I think appears through gloranthan history and myth but has never been emphasised in a rules system to my knowledge.

What are runes

Runes are the basic definition of the elements, forces , forms and powers in existence which the comsos uses to understand and give structure to the process of creation, existence, destruction and rebirth

The common set known across Glorantha is not complete, and runes may exists which are additional or more detailed than too the current set. But these runes are the core elements which most beings can comprehend which determine the formation of the universe both seen and unseen.


What runes do

In this system runes will do a number of things practically for a character.

Runes are the primary force of your magic

A characters runic association is the most powerful element of his magic, runes interface with all forms of gloranthan magic in different ways.

  • They amplify your common magic. – see common magic
  • They determine your divine connection for rune magic – see rune magic
  • They are the main tools of your sorcery – see sorcery

A character with limited runic connections will have very poor magical capabilities

Your runes determine how you defend against rune magic

For resisted rune magic spells the defender uses  a rune of his choice that he can justify to resist the magic. The storyteller then determines the relevance of the defending rune to set a target difficulty for the roll.

So to defend against a sever spirit death magic, with the life rune would be an opposing rune defence and the difficulty would be 5, to defend with movement is more of a stretch so difficulty would be 7’s, to defend with with harmony is a massive stretch so difficulties would be 9.

Your runes determine how you function on the hero plane

When taking actions within heroquests  upon the hero plane runes are the prime ability used to manipulate that aspect of reality. More details in the heroquesting rules.

Your runic association can shape and eventually consume your humanity

Runes are broad uncompromising concepts that shape reality in a very impersonal way, generating an association with them starts to mould and shape a characters persona as well as his abilities. For each point bought in a rune a character can purchase a merit or flaw associated with the rune. When characters become highly attuned to runes they start to lose their grip on their humanity.

For each level of runes gained ( with the exception the  man rune. ) over  five a player must lose one dot in one of his a virtues.

When total virtues drop below 6 characters start to loose social stats as well as virtues when purchasing  higher level runic associations (over 5).

What runes don’t do

There are things which runes do in other Gloranthan systems, but they won’t in this one.

Runes don’t augment you skills

Runes are used to manipulate your magical not your non magical skills. Common of spirit magic is what usually used to improve skills and your runes are used to boost that magic. However runes cannot be harnessed to boost skills without the use of a particular form of magic.

Though a rules deviation from Heroquest rules, I think it only reflects a subtle change of mechanics in systems which sees runes being one step removed in a more detailed system. In my opinion HQ runes were used to augment magic skills, and wrapped RQ battle magic in as a part of the runic association.

Runes don’t define your character

With the exception of the Man Rune,  runes are external powers which affect your character, but do not define them.  Runes are powers that shape a person destiny externally not internally. Attaining the highly levels of runic power erodes persons humanity it does not define it.

This is a deviation from standard Heroquest rules, but the introduces the concept of runes being dangerous and magical power corrupting the hero’s personality .

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