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Tuesday, December 17, 2019


IN MOST VERSIONS of Glorantha magic is a renewable resource that can be depleted.  In RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha, characters expend Magic Points and Rune Points, which are restored through rest, meditation, and worship.  In 13th Age Glorantha, magic is represented through Spells and Feats that need recovery periods to restore.  In King of Dragon Pass or Six Ages, magic is gained during Sacred Time, assigned, and spent over the course of the year.  In HeroQuest Glorantha, however, we find magic to be something you can do any time, as often as you like, with no clear signs of exhausting it.

There is a certain logic to this in a game that puts the story first.  Recovery is presumably something that happens "off camera."  On the other hand, the rules as they stand tend to encourage magic as the solution to all the characters' problems.  Instead of Keywords progressing more or less evenly, there can be a tendency to just keep dumping Hero Points into the Runes.  Catch-Ups (p. 106) tend to encourage this tendency.  Now, resorting to magic as often as possible is a solid game strategy as the rules are written; but HQG is not just a game about "stories," it is about Gloranthan stories.  We see time and time again in the setting that magic is a thing to be gained, saved, and expended at critical moments.  It is not a superpower to be used at will (these can and do exist, but usually as abilities gained through heroquesting).

The following rules are simple suggestions to bridge the conceptual gap between magic in HQG and in her sister games.  GMs and players will recognize them right away as adaptations of already existing HQG mechanics.  Their intent is to bring HQG magic more in line with other Glorantha games, to make powers gained in heroquesting more “special” (more like reusable “superpowers”), and to encourage players to develop abilities other than magic. 

Basic Magic

Called "spirit magic" or "battle magic" in RuneQuest, these are common charms and spells that any Gloranthan whose Runes have been awoken in adulthood initiation rites can perform.  As discussed on pp. 133-134, Basic Magic does not produce any overtly supernatural results, it just augments another ability.

Using these charms and spells draws on the character's personal reserve of energy and power.  Starting with the third, every odd use of magic of this kind thus incurs a penalty as the character tires.  This penalty increases in a fashion identical to the "Consequences of Defeat.”

“Use” here means a single augment attempt (act of magic performed).  If the GM feels the magic in question is minor, he might count it as a "free use."  if it is more major, it might count as two or even three uses itself.The terms “Hurt,” “Impaired,” etc are for purposes of Healing only (see below).  

Spirit Magic, Rune Magic, and Sorcery
Spirit Magic is based on compelling a bound spirit to perform a service for you.  Sorcery is the intense application of intellect and will upon the cosmos.  Rune Magic uses power bestowed upon the character in return for sacrifice and worship.  The first two cases are tiring for the magician; it takes a great deal of mental energy to compel spirits or impose your will on reality.  For this reason, the use of Charms and Spells uses the same “damage” track as Basic Magic.  For example, if a character uses Basic Magic twice to augment abilities, and then uses a Charm or a Spell, that counts as a third use and takes a penalty.

Rune Magic, bestowed by a god, does not tire the magician when used.  Instead, it depletes the pool of divine power invested in the character.  For this reason, it is measured on a separate track from Basic Magic.  If a character used three Basic Magic spells and then casts a Rune spell, the Rune spell would take no penalty.  Use the same table for Rune Magic as the one for Basic Magic, but the two types of magic are kept track of separately.


Magical energy is recuperated in a fashion similar to “Healing” (p. 106-107).  Energy expended through Basic Magic, Spirit Charms, and Sorcery Spells is restored through rest an/or meditation.  At least six hours of sleep, or three hours of undisturbed meditation, the character may make a Healing contest using an appropriate ability (Meditation, Vigorous, Iron Will, etc etc).  As with Healing, this restores lost levels of magical “damage.”

Rune Magic is harder to restore.  This requires the character to wait for a time sacred to the god and to be at a place sacred to the god.  Only if both conditions are met can the Worship ceremony that activates the Healing roll be performed. 

In most cases this means returning to a shrine or temple on the deity’s Holy Days.  However, initiates can temporarily create sacred space (long enough for the Worship Ceremony to take place) anywhere using the character’s Divine Rune Affinity.  The Difficulty is generally Moderate.  Note, however, that this is an act of Rune Magic and is subject to whatever penalty the character has currently incurred.   

The Worship Ceremony involves the creation of sacred space and the banishing of outside or negative forces (these steps are omitted within a temple), followed by the “parting of the veil” opening the way into Godtime.  The participants re-enact one of the central myths of the deity and a sacrifice is offered. The whole procedure takes 2 or 3 hours.

At the conclusion of the ceremony the character engages in a Simple Contest against the Difficulty level of his or her magical “damage.”  These levels are “healed” according to the rules on pp. 106-107.  Plot augments maybe added to this roll based on the following conditions;

  • Performed during Sacred Time or High Holy Day +6
  • Being at a shrine +3
  • Being at a temple +6
  • Donation or Sacrifice offered equal to a Moderate Wealth Contest +3 ( see p. 234)
  • Donation or Sacrifice offered equal to a High Wealth Contest +6
  • No Donation or Sacrifice offered -3

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a sensible house rule. We never had any problem with this when playing the Colymar campain, but it certainly makes sense from a RuneQuesty point of view. :-)