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THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Monday, May 7, 2018

THE BLACK STAG: A HEORTLING TRIBE FOR RUNEQUEST, HEROQUEST, OR 13TH AGE GLORANTHA

The legions of the Reaching Moon came a generation ago, desecrating our temples, destroying the Old Ways. In the lowlands and the towns, the hand of the Red Emperor is at the people's throats, but here in the highlands we still live free as the wind that roars over the mountain peaks. We are the people of Black Stag Vale, and our clan has outlived false gods, Western sorcerers, and the lies of dragons. The Red Moon now thinks she can break us, and bend us to her filthy foreign ways. I say Shepelkirt is wrong. When Argrath comes as prophesied, and tears the Red Moon from the sky, we will still be here, faithful to our gods, loyal to our ancestors, and mindful of the ancient ways…

Joddi White Hart, Black Stag Lawspeaker


Welcome to "Six Seasons in Sartar"

Six Seasons in Sartar first appeared more than 25 years ago as an RQ2 (Runequest Classic) "pre-campaign."  The idea was to set the main campaign in Pavis, 1622 ST, following the exploits of a band of Sartarite mercenaries.  To give the player characters a common backstory, Six Seasons in Sartar would show them five years earlier, just coming of age as adults in a remote mountain village.  They would be created as raw, beginning characters, sixteen years old, and we would follow their lives through a little over a single year of life amongst their families and clan.  At the end of that period, in the wake of a terrible tragedy, they would flee into self exile.  We'd skip five years ahead, give them previous experience, and pick up in Pavis.

Ironically, as much fun as they had in the Big Rubble and the Borderlands, it was their time as young adults in Sartar that the players reminisced about and loved best.  I made a mental note of this, and years later, when Hero Wars appeared, Six Seasons in Sartar made a comeback.  This time they never left Sartar, but instead became guerrilla warriors against the Lunar Empire.  

With Runequest Classic back in print, Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha on the way, and sister games Heroquest and 13th Age Glorantha alive and going strong, I've decided to dig up Six Seasons in Sartar as a series of articles.  Here you will find the original mini-campaign, as well as support for the various systems.  Stay tuned.

Today we start with the Black Stag, a Sartarite mountain clan.  These mechanics are for Runequest Classic (and as a default use the house rules I discussed here), but conversions will follow in future articles.  

The Land: Black Stag Vale 

Located high in the Quinvin Mountains fifteen miles due west of Boldhome and at an elevation of roughly 6000 feet, lies the Heortling community of Black Stag Vale, the ancestral home of the Black Stag Clan.  

Geographically, the Vale is a narrow v-shaped cleft between Mount Dragonwind and Three Fang, running north-south for some two and a half miles. At the north end plunges Black Stag Falls from a height of three hundred feet, where the waters pool in the Deer Pond before flowing southwards in a narrow, rushing stream known as the Stag Run. Near Deer Pond is Stag Hill, a conical mound crowned by seven dolmens arranged in a circle. Legend attests the hill is the burial mound of Jarstakos, the ancient Black Stag chieftain who brought his people to the Vale, and his loyal weaponthanes. It is sacred to Orlanth, and is the center of all male ritual activities in the Clan. A shrine to Orlanth is located on the east face of the hill, three quarters of the way up.


Six farmsteads hug the waters of the Run as they head south, each home to some 20-40 people. Black Stag Village--simply "the Village" to clan folk--sits on the east side of the Run in roughly the middle of the vale. It is home to some 170 people, including the chieftain's weaponthanes and their immediate families, as well as the redsmiths, horse grooms, and others needed to attend them. The clan market is here, and a shrine to Issaries. The Chieftain's Hall sits on a fortified hill overlooking the community. The current Black Stag chieftain is Gordangar Kenstrelsson.  Near the southern extreme of the valley, carved into a sheer cliff face on the eastern edge of Mount Dragonwind, a stark square door enters the Riddle, a winding labyrinth carved in ancient days. This is holy to the Earth Tribe, and the shrines to both Ernalda and Uralda stand near the entrance.  None but Earth priestesses dare enter the Riddle, and what lies inside is secret.  Carved over its entrance is a curse upon defilers in the name of Babeester Gor.   On the opposite side of the Run from these is the shrine to Barntar, a major ritual center in this farming community.  

At the narrow southern entrance to the Vale stands a fortified wooden palisade.

The rest of the Black Stag Tula hugs the southwestern face of the Quinvins, with clans folk nestled into hidden valleys and folds. There are 27 farmsteads outside of Black Stag Vale, ranging from a dozen to two score people. The Lunar census takers have had a difficult time even finding these steads, and have started to hire Heortling guides from rival clans to locate them. As a consequence, the Lunars currently count the Black Stag at around five hundred members, slightly less than two thirds the accurate number.

The Community: The Black Stag Clan

Mechanics for “community” didn’t explicitly appear in Gloranthan gaming until Heroquest, but were always implicit in the Runequest “cult write-up.” In Glorantha there is considerable overlap between spiritual and mundane activity, and the line between “cult” and culture” (which derive from the same word) is blurry at best.  One example of this blurring is the wyter, the tutelary spirit of an individual Orlanthi community.  Clearly a supernatural being, it is the “soul” of the community itself.  Reverence of the wyter binds the clan as tightly as blood relation; indeed, since outsiders can marry into the clan, or be adopted, being accepted by the wyter might actually be the defining trait.     

For these reasons, when I first wrote up the details of Black Stag society I did so as a “cult” write-up.  I’ve decided to keep that format here.

Mythos and History

A. Before Time

The entity that would eventually become the clan wyter, the Black Stag, is one of the many children of Hykim, Father of Beasts, and the mountain goddess Kero Fin.  He laid claim to the mountain valley bearing his name long before Time, when he challenged the Seven-Tailed Wolf for dominion over it.  Victorious, he drove the Wolf and his pack away, and married Running Doe, the rushing mountain stream that cuts through the vale (today called “Stag Run”). Together they made the Vale a safe refuge for their children, the Ghost Deer unique to the region.

During the Lesser Darkness, Jarstakos Forked Spear and his thanes wandered into the Vale.  One of the many sons of Heort, Jarstakos and his men followed Orlanth in the growing war against Chaos.  Tired and hungry, they were shocked to find a place in the wasted world where game was plentiful, and decided to hunt.  It is said Jarstakos himself shot the arrow that killed the Martyr Faun, and the wrath of the Black Stag was terrible.  The earth shook.  The entrance to the Vale squeezed shut.  To placate the Stag, and spare his followers, the sons of Jarstakos swore that after Chaos was defeated they and all their line would return to the Vale and remain there, replacing the child the Black Stag had lost.  The Stag agreed, but Running Doe was not so easily appeased.  She cursed Jarstakos, saying that he would return to the Vale as well, but it would be to be buried alongside her slain child.  Indeed, Jarstakos fell during the I Fought We Won, and his sons carried his body back to the Vale and raised a mound over him.  This was how Heortlings came to dwell there as the Black Stag Clan.

B. Since Time Began

After the Dawn, the Black Stag lived a quiet life of relative isolation in the Vale, farming, herding, and trading with related clans in the valleys below. They worshipped Orlanth and his Queen, and true to their word never wavered from the vow to honor Black Stag and Running Doe as their own ancestors.  In these early days there were some skirmishes with local Telmori, urged on by the Seven-Tailed Wolf, who felt the onset of Time was the perfect chance for a proxy war to regain the Vale. The Black Stag Clan proved their claim to the Vale time and time again by driving the Telmori off, just as their wyter had in the God’s Age. 

As the Empire of Wyrm’s Friends slowly rose around the clan, their wyter answered divinations concerning the EWF by counseling against the lies and deceptions of dragons. As a result, the Black Stag stayed free of draconic mysticism, even as many clans around them embraced it.  This was the start of the clan’s reputation as staunch traditionalists.  For centuries, the clan continued to stay true to the Old Ways, maintaining (mostly) cordial relations with draconicized neighbors.  But mounting pressure from these neighbors, and dire warnings of impending doom from divinations, eventually forced the Black Stag into self-imposed exile.  In 1118 ST, after more than a thousand years in the Vale, the Black Stag burned their homes to the ground, gathered what they had, and went south.  

A year later, the Great Dragons came in wrath and killed every man, woman, and child in the Pass.

The years in exile were difficult ones.  Bound to the Vale, the clan wyter was unable to accompany his human kin south.  In his place he sent one of his sons, White Hart, to serve as the Black Stag wyter in their exile.  These years were the beginning of the White Hart shamanic tradition that persists among the clan to this day.  Without the protection of the Black Stag and his Vale, however, the clan struggled to survive.  Heortland was filled in those days with destitute refugees fleeing the Dragonkill, and the Black Stag were forced to wander from place to place selling their labor, their swords, and sometimes even themselves to survive.  

This changed when Jornun Shadechaser challenged Barnor Gruddson for the position of clan chieftain.  Shadechaser was one of the “Troll-touched,” a Black Stag clansman born with black hair and eyes.  In the Greater Darkness, Jarstakos had accepted Ungbar Zak Bak, a Dark Troll warrior, into his warband.  Saving each other’s lives again and again they swore an oath to be like brothers.  Since this pact, a small number of Black Stag were born Troll-touched.  Jornun was among these.  Once he was leader of the clan, Jornun took his people to the court of Ezkankekko, the Only Old One.  It is said the Old One recognized Jornun as troll-marked, and his clan as friends of the race.  He employed the clan as mercenaries in his armies, and gave the women and children homes.  For nearly two centuries the Black Stag had a new home, and flourished in Ezkankekko’s service.

The death of the Only Old One at the hands of the Pharaoh in 1318 ST ended this time of refuge.  Divinations were performed and the White Hart consulted by shamans.  It was time, at long last, for the Black Stag to return home.

It was not an easy homecoming.  The clan returned to find Wolfrunners had taken the Vale in the name of the Seven-Tailed Wolf, who now ruled the Vale at last.  The Black Stag and Running Doe imprisoned, their children hunted and in hiding.  Before they could settle in their ancient homeleand, the Black Stag had to retake it.  The battles that followed were violent and costly.  In 1328 Stag Hill was won by the clan, enabling the chieftain and his ring to perform a heroquest re-enacting the Black Stag’s triumph over the Wolf.  This liberated the wyter, and for the first time in centuries a Royal (see below) was born to the local ghost deer population.  The tide had turned, and the Wolfrunners were driven out once and for all.

This began a new era of peace and prosperity.  A century after the return, the Black Stag were part of the Colymar Tribe and eventually supporters of the Prince of the People, Sartar.  They had revived the Old Ways, and once again honored the Doe and the Stag. But a baleful new orb hung crimson in the sky, and its spawn, the foul Lunar Empire, came south in invasion.  At the Battle of Grizzly Peak the Black Stag followed the Colymar king Kenstrel against Lunar forces and lost their own chieftain, Kentrel Bargarson.  It was a sign of the doom to come.  A generation later saw a Lunar puppet on the throne in Boldhome, and foul Lunar ways spreading through the lowlands.

In the years since the Black Stag have grown more isolated as they cling to the Old Ways under constant threat from the Lunar occupation.

C. Runic Associations      

The people of the Black Stag have worshipped the Storm Tribe since before the Dawn.  Their Runic ties to this pantheon run deep. Thus Air/Storm (g) and Earth (e) are the two most common Birth Runes; 70% of men are tied to Air and 70% of women to Earth.  The remaining 30% consists of men who are tied to Earth and women tied to Storm, a large percentage who are born tied to the Beast Rune (B), and a small percentage of “Troll-touched” tied to Darkness (o).  Black Stag characters are thus required to select one of these four as their initial Rune.

The clan wyter, the Black Stag, is itself associated with Air, Beast, and Earth (gBe).  He is not worshipped alone, but rather receives a portion of sacrifices made to the Storm Tribe and clan ancestors.  

The shamanic White Hart tradition (see below) has the Runes of Air, Beast, and Spirit (gBb).        

Nature of the Clan

A. Reason for Continued Existence

At its heart, a clan is a coalition of allied families, bound by shared culture and history.  Like any community, it exists to teach, support, and care for its members.  It passes on its knowledge and experience from one generation to the next.

Just as a clan serves its members, its members serve the clan.  Clansmen are generally expected to spend most of their time in service to the community, performing tasks such as farming, herding, maintaining infrastructure, manufacturing necessary items, guarding the borders, etc.  In addition to these tasks, all able-bodied men will be expected to serve in the fyrd, or clan militia.  Women will be expected to cook, sew, care for children, and to read sickness and injury.  In return for all of this, the clan feeds, shelters, and clothes its own.  It also trains and educates them.     

In Classic Runquest terms, clansmen have their clothing, lodging, and food expenses paid by the clan.  In addition, they receive a 100L of credit each week they spend performing basic labor.  This can be put towards magic and training taught by the clan.  This is not a salary—no coins are exchanged—but rather reflects the experience characters accumulate going about the business of the community, and the traditional skills the clan instills in its members.  A clansman working alongside a smith at the forge will learn armorer skills, a character who spends a few weeks helping the hunters learns skills like Move Quietly and Tracking.  The specific skills and spells this credit can be used towards will be detailed below.        

B. Social/Political Power and Position

Prior to the Lunar occupation, the clan’s claim to Black Stag Vale was ancient and undisputed, supported by the spirit of the land itself and respected by all neighbors. There were of course tensions with other clans, including the time-honored sport of cattle-raids, but all acknowledge the Vale was theirs.  Despite being one of the smaller clans in the Colymar tribe, the Black Stag were respected for their adherence to tradition and their loyalty to both the tribal king and the Princes of Sartar.  

With the arrival of the Lunars, however, political “power” in Sartar amounted largely to keeping your head down and going unnoticed. Fortunately this is something the Black Stag, in their isolated mountain fastness, do very well.  The terms of the occupation, for example, demand a tax of one cattle for every two free adults in the community each year, but Lunar estimates of the Black Stag’s population are at least a third short, the clan being adept at fading into the hills when the census takers come.  Likewise, Sartar’s conquerors have forbidden the worship of Orlanth.  In the lowlands the temples are closed.  The Black Stag, however, continue to worship as they always have.

So long as it goes unnoticed.    

C. Particular Likes and Dislikes

On the whole the Black Stag are a conservative mountain clan devoted to the Storm Tribe, to time-honored traditions, and to keeping to the Old Ways.  They avoided the lure of draconic mysticism under the EWF and resist the lure of Lunar mysticism now.  The clan expresses many of the likes and dislikes one might expect of a traditionalist Orlanthi people.  To reflect commonly held characteristics, Black Stag characters should select at least one of the following Traits; Devotion (Storm Tribe), Devotion (Earth Goddesses), Loyalty (Clan), Loyalty (Tribe), Loyalty (Kingdom), Love (Family), Hate (Chaos), Hate (Lunars). 

Organization

A. Inter-Community Organization

As mentioned, the Black Stag are members of the Colymar tribe, a confederation of clans sworn to a single king.  The Colymar are, in turn, one of the 24 tribes of the Sartarite nation.  The tribal kings all owe allegiance to the throne in Boldhome.  But with the true Heir of Sartar, Argrath, in exile, the Lunar puppet Temertain now occupies that throne.  Since 1602 when Boldhome fell to their forces, the Lunar Empire has been the true power in Sartar.  Temertain rules at the pleasure of the Governor General of Dragon Pass, currently Fazzur Wideread.   

B. Intra-Community Organization

The Black Stag, like most Heortling clans, are governed by chieftains, a position held by election and mutual consent. These are, in turn, advised by the Clan Ring, a circle of thanes and advisors made up from the most powerful and influential members of the community.  The Ring usually consists of seven positions, in honor of Orlanth and the Lighbringers. Here are the current leaders of the clan;

Chieftain: Gordangar Kenstrelsson is the clan chieftain, a shrewd survivor from a powerful bloodline. He hates and fears the Lunars as his father was killed by the Lunar Army at the Battle of Grizzly Peak. He is middle-aged, generous, and traditional. Gordangar pays lip service to the current Colymar king Kangharl Kangradusson, even though he secretly despises him for selling out the tribe and bending his knee to the Lunars just so he could be king. Likewise, like many chieftains he knows that the Lunar puppet king Temertain is too weak to rule.  He and his Ring are thus secretly sending supplies and what aid they can offer to the Free Men, a network of war bands scattered across Sartar fighting a guerrilla war against the occupation.

Chief Thane: Jorgunath Bladesong leads the chieftain’s weaponthanes. He is a follower of Humakt, and adheres to a strict code of honor that colors his entire perception of the world. He believes in truth, duty, and death before dishonor, and has little patience for anyone else who does not abide by similar principles (Keladon Blue Eye is the primary target of his contempt).

Priest: Savan Kentrelsson is the clan’s full time priest and brother of Gordangar. He is haunted by prophecies of the Hero Wars and believes that the doom of the gods and men is rapidly approaching. He is a devotee of Orlanth and spends his life performing rituals to strengthen the storm gods. Savan is a passionate defender of the Royal House of Sartar, which he believes truly lies in a prophecized “Prince Who Shall Come.” Some (like Keladon Blue Eye and Erinia Copperaxe) suspect he is half mad.

Priestess: Morganeth Jarlarant is the clan’s full time priestess and performs the rites at Ernalda’s sanctuary. She has powerful healing magic. Morganeth was born to the Ernaldor clan and has strong connections to the Colymar Earth Temple. She lost her eyesight when the Crimson Bat devoured Runegate. She dislikes Humakti, distrusts Vingans, and despises Uroxings; but she is always generous with her Healing magic to members of her clan and tribe.

Lawspeaker: Joddi White Hart is an elderly thane from a rival bloodline of the chief‘s. He is wise and discerning, and knows every legal procedure and tactic. He was never a warrior and knows little about fighting (but much about dying as his father, brother and two sons all died fighting the Empire), but his advice to farmers is relied on by the more prudent carls of the clan.

Champion: Erinina Copperaxe is the most ferocious warrior of the clan. A warrior woman, half her head is shaved and the shoulder-length hair on the other side is dyed blood red. Her body is adorned with tattoos and she carries a copper-bladed axe. Debate is not her strength: she relies on intimidation, bluster, and her fearsome reputation to get her way. Erinina is jealous of any perceived rival for glory or attention.

Skald: Keladon Blue Eye is the chief poet, which a prodigious memory for songs and ballads and a sharp tongue that can instantly compose biting verse. Born with one blue eye and one gray, he is a follower of Eurmal the Trickster, and sees the world with skewed vision. To him, all things are a joke, or a game.

Special mention must be made here of the Royal.  The Royal is always a ghost deer buck crowned with antlers of 12 branches.  He will have always won the right, by combat, to rut with any doe of the local population.  Though rarely seen by the human residents of the Vale, the Royal is able to speak, use magic, and will attend Clan Ring councils of extreme importance.  Any clansman encountering the Royal in the wilderness is expected to show the same respect he or she would to the chieftain, as the Royal is considered to be the “chieftain” of the local beast population. Like the chieftain, the Royal speaks for the Black Stag.  

C. Center of Power, Holy Places 

The entire Vale is of course the center of the Black Stag’s power.  The center of the human community’s power is the Village and the Chieftain’s Hall.  The other significant power center, however, if the Grove of the Royal, located northwest of the Riddle up the wooded slopes of Mount Dragonwind.  Here the Royal holds court, and the Beasts of the Vale come to settle disputes.

Stag Hill, the dolmen-crowed burial mound of Jarstakos and his thanes is the holiest place in the Vale for the men of the clan.  Here Orlanth is worshipped (quietly, and in violation of Lunar edict), the ancestors remembered, and the wyter honored.  When men of the Vale die, they are burned here and their ashes scattered on the winds.  

The Riddle is the holiest place for the women of the clan, though few have actually entered it.  A labyrinth tunneled into the mountain, no torch will burn there and no light will shine.  The Riddle is protected by the dread curses of Babeester Gor, and when women of the clan die, the priestesses carry their bodies into the labyrinth to give to Ty Kora Tek.  Just outside the Riddle are the shrines to Ernalda, the Earth Mother, and Uralda, the Cow Mother.  Both provide healing and fertility magic, one for humans and one for livestock.

A shrine to Barntar stands not far from the Riddle. Here the Farmer God is worshipped before the planting in Sea Season and the harvest in Earth Season.  

D. Holy Days, High Holy Days

Naturally the men of the clan worship Orlanth every Windsday, and the women worship Ernalda on Clayday.  Orlanth’s High Holy Day (Windsday/Movement Week/Storm Season) and Ernalda’s (Clayday/Fertility Week/Earth Season) are also observed.

Godday/Death Week/Storm Season is observed as the day Jarstakos Forked Spear hunted the Martyr Faun.  This is the day, every three years, that the boys of the village (14 to 17-year-olds) are initiated as full adults into the clan.  Girls are initiated as women annually on Ernalda's High Holy Day, following their first menstruation. 

Lay Membership

A. Requirements to Join

There are only three ways to become a Black Stag; being born into the clan, marrying into the clan, or being adopted.

B. Requirements to Belong

Members of the clan owe allegiance to the chieftain and the Ring, respect to the Royal, and devotion to the gods of the Storm Tribe.  Most lay members are children under the age of sixteen, and this also owe obedience to their elders, the adult members of the clan.  Note that adults who marry into the clan, or have been adopted, are considered to be children until they participate in the clan initiation rite described above.    

C. Mundane Benefits

Members of the clan are sheltered, fed, and clothed.  They are taught basic skills and the lore of the clan.  Those who suffer capture will be ransomed or rescued by their clansmen, if possible.

D. Skills

Members who join the clan by marriage or adoption receive a broad new Knowledge skill, “Black Stag Clan Lore,” at a base of 10%.  This increases automatically by 5% each Season, up to a maximum of INT x 5%.  Those who were born into the clan automatically have this skill at INT x 5%.  The skill can be used to know the local geography, the myths and history of the clan, details about daily life, and anything else assumed to be common knowledge to a mountain Sartarite.

E. Magic

Members do not receive magical training or instruction until full initiation.

Initiate Membership

A. Requirements for Initiation

Initiates must be adults and members of the clan by birth,  adoption, or marriage. 

B. Requirements to Remain Initiated

Initiates are expected to serve the clan, the chieftain, and the Ring.  They must be at least Lay Members of a Storm Tribe cult (if men) or an Earth cult (if women).  They must abide by the laws and traditions of the clan.  

Serving the clan means being useful.  Wandering the hills seeking adventure is not particularly useful.  Clan members should be farmers, carpenters, smiths, herders, hunters, etc. 90% of the time.  Men additionally train in the clan militia, or fyrd.  Women tend the sick, cook, sew, and look after the children.  Each week they spend at least 40 hours engaged in these activities, clan members earn 100L of credit they can use towards magic and skills.    

C. Mundane Benefits

These are largely the same as for Lay Members, but full clan initiates are also entitled to vote for the chieftain and on matters of import to the clan.

D. Skills

Initiates may spend the credit they earn on any of the following skills;

One Handed Sword, One Handed Spear, One Handed Axe, Medium Shield, Bow

Camouflage, Jumping, Set/Disarm Traps, Spot Traps, Climbing, Move Quietly. Spot Hidden Items, Tracking, Hide in Cover, Oratory

By serving at the forge the character may also spend credit on Smithing. 

Black Stag characters raised in Sartar will speak Sartarite at INT x 5%, and Stormspeech at 1/10 their Satarite percentage.  The clan can train characters in these languages, as well as Tradetalk, Beastspeech, Earthtongue, and Spiritspeech.

Note that skills like “carpentry,” “farming,” “animal husbandry,” etc et al are not covered in the game but may be assumed.  The Referee can test these with characteristic rolls or as part of the “Black Stag Clan Lore” catch-all skill.

E.  Battle Magic

Glorantha is a magical world, and charms, spells, and incantations are a part of everyday life.  A character will know all sorts of magic not covered by the rules; a warding hand gesture against spirits of disease when someone sneezes, a plow blessing before a field is tilled, a mother’s soothing charm to lull a baby to sleep.  Players should feel free to allow their characters to know any such spells of this sort, as they add color to the game.

The spells below, however, do have mechanical import in the game and must be purchased using credit.  They are available to all clan members, taught by the local priests or shamans as appropriate.

Bladesharp 2, Bludgeon 2, Countermagic 2, Detect Detection, Detect Enemies, Detect Gems, Detect Gold, Detect Life, Detect Magic, Detect Silver, Detect Spirit, Detect Traps, Detect Undead, Detection Blank 2, Dispel Magic 2, Disruption, Dullblade 2, Extinguish, Fanaticism 2, Farsee, Glue 2, Healing 2, Ignite, Ironhand 2, Light, Mindspeech 2, Multimissle 2, Protection 2, Shimmer 2, Silence, Speedart, Spirit Shield, Xenohealing 2.

F. Rune Magic

Initiates may sacrifice POW to gain access to the special Clan Rune Spells provided by the Black Stage wyter (see below) on a one-use basis.

G. Divine Intervention

A clan wyter—the spirit binding a Heortling community together—is not a god.  It is instead a powerful spirit, making the clan itself a sort of spirit cult.   This means that its power is strictly local.  A wyter can, therefore, offer divine intervention to members of its clan provided they are currently inside the boundaries of the tula.  Outside of clan territory, the wyter has no power at all. 

Divine intervention follows all the usual rules for initiates (one attempt per week, roll one’s POW or less on a d00, if successful the character loses a number of points of permanent POW equal to the die result).  Not that a character can call upon both the wyter and any other deity it is an initiate of, giving the clansman two chances at divine intervention.  


Rune Lord Membership

A. General Statement

Spirit cults do not have Rune Lords per se. Instead, the chieftain and his weaponthanes fulfill that function in the clan.  They are the sword arm of the Black Stag, and the champions of the community.  The clan offers board and succor to these champions, and the wyter offers divine intervention (while on clan lands) using the same methods as any Rune Lord.  Almost without exception, the chieftain and weaponthanes will already be Rune Lords of other cults, such as Swords of Humakt or Wind Lords, and possess the full range of benefits of that station.    

Rune Priest Membership

A. General Statement

As a spirit cult, the clan wyter is served by a shaman rather than a Rune Priest.  In the Vale, that shaman is the Royal.  If the chieftain is the martial and worldly hand of the Black Stag, the Royal is its spiritual, otherworldly one. There is a shamanic tradition available to clansman, and has been since the time of exile (see Associated Cults below).  The Royal always has authority over these shamans (he represents the Black Stag, they represent his sons, the White Harts).

Members of the clan are able to sacrifice for special Black Stag Clan Rune spells by spending the night at the Grove of the Royal.  Here the Stag visits them in dreams and they may sacrifice for one-use Rune spells.  Only the Royal and the White Hart shamans can use these as reusable spells.      

B. Community Special Rune Spells 

The Stag’s Crown (1 point)
self, duration 15 minutes, nonstackable, reusable

The user sprouts a a twelve-point rack of antlers that do 2d6 + damage bonus.  He or she gains a butt attack equal to DEX x 5% +/- attack and parry modifiers.  The antlers have 15 hit points and a base strike rank of 3.  These antlers are compatible with the Battle Magic spell Ironhand.

The Stag’s Leap (1 point)
self, duration instantaneous, nonstackable, reusable 

The spell allows the user to leap into the air and fly in a great arc anywhere within Black Stag clan lands (alternately, the user can leap back into the clan lands from up to 20 kilometers outside its borders).  It cannot be used to leap out.  The user can land anywhere within the tula he or she had been before.  

Deerbrother (2 points)
5 kilometers, duration 1 hour, reusable

This spell allows the user to Mind Link with the nearest deer.  The user can see through the animals eyes and hear through its ears.  He or she can cast spells through the animal.  It is subject to all the other terms and restrictions of a standard Mind Link.  

Break the Wolf (3 points)
160 meters, duration 1 battle or 1 day, reusable

This spell takes a day to cast.  It enchants a totem, usually a ghost deer skull mounted on a pole.  Any invader currently on clan lands who comes within range of the totem is automatically hit by a demoralize spell.  He or she may attempt to resist by rolling against the POW of the person who enchanted the totem.  This totem is usually carried into battle to repel invading forces.

Associated Cults

A. White Hart Shamans

The White Hart shamanic tradition has its origins in the Black Stag’s years of exile.  Unable to leave the Vale, the Black Stag sent his son, White Hart, to travel with the clan and serve in his place.  The result was a spirit cult (see p. 28 of the Gloranthan Classics Cult Compendium).  

White Hart shamans are trained under the rules in Classic Runequest (pp. 44-45), and characters must learn under a clan shaman or the Royal.  If successful, the fetch will always be a White Hart spirit, one of the children of the Black Stag and Running Doe.  These will always be “friendly” assuming the candidate is a Black Stag.


When large bands of Black Stag clansmen (10 or more) leave their lands, a shaman often goes with them.  He or she will prepare a power focus, a deer figurine carved from the antler of a ghost deer.  Following the spirit cult guidelines, the shaman will awaken the totem and make it a vessel for a White Hart.  By worshipping this spirit, the clansman can access all the cult magic described above save Break the Wolf, which only works on clan lands.  The White Hart spirit can also provide divine intervention to the band as if they were on clan lands.

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