Glorantha House rule:cult markings/tattoos for runes.


Just an idea for Glorantha settings of RQ. I propose to allow initiates and higher of cults to integrate the runes of their gods through ceremonies, without having to find a rune. No persistence roll is necessary , it will succeed through divine will, but the sacrifice of POW will be necessary, and probably a donation to the cult as well.

These runes then appear as markings on the cultists flesh in a specified location, much like the runes that appear in the Troubled Waters scenario of River of cradles.

These integrated runes are unique to the character and cannot be taken from them. They still need to be touched for spells to be cast so shoulder, face and forearm will probably be sensible locations for them to manifest.

This will also help with Rune inflation for NPC's - they can have the runes of their gods without these being in a useable (for pcs) format.

What do you all think ?
I think that would work fine as a house rule, but I doubt Mongoose will got for it. Having said that it would make sense for at least some cults to have access to sources of runes appropriate to the cult, perhaps in the from of cult holy places or sacred grounds where runes can be found. Runes can almost certainly be found on the Heroplane (or Grey Zone), and may be obtainable from the Godplane during great cult ceremonies when worshipers cross over into the other side.

Simon Hibbs
I remember reading that magisaurs and others did Tattoo the matrix for their spells on their skin. But since Spell matrix are not seem to be needed anymore and runes are used instead I think its a good idea.
I'd assume that the act of becoming a Rune Lord/Priest would integrate the relevant runes anyway in a Gloranthan campaign. Part of the benefits of the cult status. Some cults might need an object Humakti swords, perhaps but most of the connection would be given through the direct interaction with the diety.
It's a pretty reasonable idea, and something I was kinda floating around in my head as well.

In a Gloranthan campaign, cults represent a pretty "common" path to magic. In classic RQ, pretty much everyone has at least some magic. The problem is that the runes seem to be "special" in that they grant special abilities (some of them pretty powerful) when integrated. In order to make the use of spells common enough to be consistent with past Glorantha based campaigns, runes would have to be ultra-common. After all, every initiate would have to have at least a few, and most laymembers will have at least one. Rune levels would need to have all of the appropriate ones for the cult.

Start doing some simple math, looking at the numbers of cults, the rate of worship of these cults, and the number of different runes available, and there's just no way to do this without allowing for some other means to gain the ability to cast spells.

An alternative suggestion is to allow anyone to cast any spell that they can learn (pay for from someone willing to teach it). However, runes would allow you to cast higher magnitude spells and/or provide a better chance to cast them. This would need to be scaled with the spell list, but a simple way to do this is to say that anyone can cast 1 or 2 point spells, without needing to integrate the appropriate runes, but to cast higher levels, you'd need the rune. This way you get around having to make runes common drops (typically only Rune levels will have them, or maybe near-rune leveled initiates), but there's a disadvantage to not having a rune (can't cast above a certain level). The tatoo system effecitvely gives cult members a way to cast spells that is better then the runes, which seems a bit backwards (at least in my interpretation of what Mongoose is trying to do with runes).

Skill roll would be based on your runecasting skill. However, assume that anyone can cast any spells at a "base" runecasting level (POW+CHA), but without the rune, you can't increase that skill. Integrating a rune allows you to learn higher point spells and to advance your skill with that particular runecasting skill. Obviously, you can scale the points to whatever makes sense in your campaign. I'd probably actually go with 1-4 for anyone, 5+ requires a rune, mainly for historical reasons. Of course, if you want to make a spell like skybolt impossible to cast unless one has the rune, then go with 1-2 for the free levels (honestly though, skybolt is equivalent to a 3 point rune spell in RQ3, and should be a 6 magnitude spell in MRQ, but that's just my personal sense of balance...).

I think there's a lot of different ways to get around this problem.