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Tabletop Game / RuneQuest

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RuneQuest 2nd edition cover

With development beginning on July 4th, 1976 RuneQuest was published by Chaosium in June of 1978, making it one of the oldest tabletop Role-Playing Games. Among other things, it introduced an experience system that replaced levels (as in Dungeons & Dragons) with skills that increase if you successfully use them (Traveller replaced levels with skills first but they didn't increase with use). It also introduced hit regions instead of general Hit Points and did not use Character Classes, which removed weapon and armor use restrictions.

The original RuneQuest was set in the Constructed World named Glorantha created by Chaosium co-founder Greg Stafford in 1966. The setting shares many tropes in common with other fantasy worlds, despite Stafford's insistence that it was more inspired by studies in folklore than popular fantasy.


The history of the game is somewhat convoluted, with many offshoots. The first edition debuted as a 120 page book at the Origins Game Convention in 1978, and sold over 1,000 copies. It was reworked into a 2nd edition in 1979, which went on to sell over 10,000 copies by 1981. The most popular version of the 2nd edition was the boxed set (which were popular at the time). It included a pair of starter adventures (Apple Lane and The Rainbow Mounds), a set of dice, and a stripped down quick-reference for new players called Basic Role-playing along with the main rulebook, which was given all new typesetting and error corrections. It is commonly considered the definitive edition.

After that, Chaosium, needing money to expand, sold the rights to the name to Avalon Hill, and co-wrote the subsequent 3rd edition, but retained the rights to the Glorantha setting and editorial approval of all use of the world (the third edition, originally published in 1984 as a large box set, included both Glorantha and an alternate generic fantasy Europe setting). After some time, the game went dormant (a planned new edition in 1994 was canceled mid-development). Stafford left Chaosium in 1997 after unrelated financial issues, taking the rights to Glorantha with him (he retained a large ownership stake in Chaosium, though). Stafford formed a new company, Issaries Inc., to create an entirely different, more narrativist game called HeroQuest in conjunction with the publisher Moon Design Publishing, and eventually acquired back the rights to the RuneQuest trademark from Avalon Hill (which had wound up owned by D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast) in 2004.


In 2005 Stafford licensed the RuneQuest name to Mongoose Publishing to create a new version, published in 2006. It cloned the basics of the rules but didn't use the original copyrighted wording (which had reverted to Chaosium). This version was placed under the Open Gaming License. A heavily revised Mongoose edition, written by longtime RuneQuest fans and game designers Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash, was published in 2010, and was far better received than the first Mongoose edition. However, Mongoose's license was not renewed, and in 2012, a new company formed by Whitaker and Nash, The Design Mechanism, picked up the license and published a 6th edition of RuneQuest, an expansion of the second Mongoose edition. Moon Design Publications purchased all of the rights and trademarks for RuneQuest and Glorantha from Stafford in 2014, and maintained the license at first. Shortly after, however, ongoing financial issues at Chaosium led Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen (who collectively owned a majority ownership) to retake control of Chaosium and arrange a merger with Moon Design, whose management team would run the combined company. With the trademark and copyright for RuneQuest once more under its control, Chaosium developed a new edition of RuneQuest, called RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, which appeared in 2018.

Sandy Petersen held a funding campaign on Kickstarter in 2019 for Glorantha the Gods War, an asymmetrical strategy game about gods battling it out.

Since 1980 Chaosium has used versions of the core RuneQuest rules for other games like Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, and the ElfQuest RPG, and many, many more; these rule variants are now collectively known as the Basic Role-Playing System (BRP), which has in fact sometimes been available as a generic ruleset. The fantasy world of Glorantha is also the setting of the video games King of Dragon Pass and Six Ages, the webcomic Prince of Sartar, and the boardgame Khan of Khans. Although the RuneQuest title has occasionally been attached to games with other settings, it has always been and remains closely associated withe Glorantha, and the vast majority of the tropes listed below actually relate to Glorantha rather than BRP; hence, they could in fact also be considered to relate to HeroQuest and any other games and fictions which use that setting.

This role-playing game provides examples of:

  • A Protagonist Shall Lead Them: Argrath.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse:
    • Champions of the Reaching Moon mentions the Tardy Newt inn in the city of Glamour.
    • 3rd Edition boxed set "Gamemaster Book". In the adventure "The Money Tree", the PCs All Meet In An Inn: specifically, the Bouncing Buffalo Inn.
  • All Myths Are True: All Gloranthan myths are literally true, even utterly contradictory myths of different cultures. Changing a myth (by going on a HeroQuest to the world of the gods) can retroactively change reality.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Among other things, they're matriarchial, cannibalistic, and Extreme Omnivores. You could argue that they're pre-Blizzard Blizzard-style Orcs.
  • Always Chaotic Evil:
    • Deconstructed with the broo; they were created as a warped parody of life meant only to destroy, and they know it. And they have never forgiven their creators.
    • Played straight with the Vadeli, the corrupt relatives of the sorcerous Brithini people. Like their nicer if xenophobic relatives, Vadeli are The Ageless so long as they follow the rules of their Fantastic Caste System. Unlike the Brithini, the caste systems of the Vadeli generally involve breaking the laws of Malkion, which is to say things like "Murder is bad", "Incest is abhorrent", "Don't lie"... About the only reason they're tolerated is that those same rules make them ideal, if untrustworthy businessmen — and because they cheerfully blackmail port cities into playing along.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The deities of the Celestial Court personify the Runes, which basically are the building blocks of the cosmos.
  • Anti-Villain: The Lunar Coders from Strangers in Prax are extremely capable special agents from the Lunar Empire. Though the Lunars as a whole are generally portrayed as villainous (or at least antagonistic) the Coders present the more positive side of the Lunar way. They are genuinely heroic - brave, merciful, honourable, devoted to each other and civilized. In the adventures provided they come across as either Worthy Opponent types (showing that there are sincerely well intentioned people working for the Empire) or allies and possibly friends in an Enemy Mine situation.
  • The Archmage: Zzabur. Notable for not even being human; he is the Erasanchula of Sorcery, and he says that all the gods are merely corrupted and diminished Erasanchula.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted, as armor provides Damage Reduction. Heavy armor and a good shield are the best way to survive a battle.
  • Artists Are Attractive: Orlanth and Emperor Yelm decided to Compete for the Maiden's Hand through a test of music. Orlanth played on the bagpipes, a new and ungraceful instrument that disgusted the court's snooty judges, and lost. However, he made the "maiden" (Ernalda) and many of Yelm's servants laugh, which won them to his side later on.
  • Assimilation Plot:
    • The Empire of Wyrmfriends wanted everybody (mortals, gods, you name it) to embrace their draconic nature (because according to them everybody has a draconic nature waiting to emerge, whether they agree with them or not). It worked like an enormous pyramidal scheme based on the goal of creating a messianic True Dragon.
    • Later, the Lunar Empire also wants everybody to worship their Goddess, so that the world can be one in All again. And damn are they succeeding. According to King of Sartar the Red Moon will eventually be defeated, but even that could be a lie (there are invoked"She is just hiding" theories In-Universe).
  • Attack Reflector:
    • If a Reflection spell is in effect on a living being, it will attempt to reflect any other spell cast against the being or its equipment back upon the caster.
    • If a living person is protected by the Cast Back sorcery spell and an attacking spell doesn't overcome the target's magic points with its own, the incoming spell will boomerang back on its caster and affect them instead.
    • Cacodemon has the Chaotic Feature of being able to reflect all spells that cost 10 Magic Points or less back at the caster.
    • Supplement Trollpak, "Book of Uz" part 2. The Xiola Umbar cult has a spell called Turn Blow that reflects all damage that affects the recipient back upon the source.
  • Backronym: In universe, it's usually assumed that EWF is an acronym of some kind, and they were commonly called the Empire of Wyrms Friends or derisively as "Enemies Without Friends", but EWF is actually a Draconic word that doesn't translate to any humanly understandable concept.
  • Bad Moon Rising: The Red Moon rose, and her Empire wants you to worship her.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Orlanthi. But the Heortlings don't think of themselves as barbarians, of course. Now, Wenelians (think more primitive Orlanthi with stronger Iroquois influences and less of Heortling laws) are definitely barbarians, too quick to avenge slights and less likely to be hospitable or accept weregild. And Praxians? Savages.
  • Bird People: The Durulz, divided into two major tribes: the Ducks and the Keets, with the latter being made up of various species (flamingos, pelicans, penguins, auks, herons, swordbills, peacocks, etc).
  • Big Bad: Sedenya/Lunar Goddess/Red Moon is this for the Orlanthi in the Third Era.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate:
    • Wakboth and Kajabor in the Greater Darkness.
    • The God Learners and the Empire of Wyrm's Friends in the Second Era, due to a case of being criminally Too Dumb to Live. Naturally, they hate each other.
  • Born in the Saddle: Pentans and Praxians represent two different takes on this. The Pentans (and by extension, the Pure Horse People of Dragon Pass) are the steppe version; they're heavily Scythian-influenced in design, and produced the Gloranthan equivalent of Genghis Khan. The Praxians are more like North American Plains tribes, and ride everything but horses, including antelope, bison, and giant llamas.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Durulz, or ducks, see themselves as the Butt-Monkey for the entirety of Glorantha. Even their own racial sourcebook agrees with this perspective, going to extensive lengths to point out how all the other races look down on and tend to ignore or bully ducks and keets.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The entire Glorantha: The Second Age line of products by Mongoose Publishing.
  • Chariot Race:
    • Monster Coliseum has rules for chariot racing.
    • Chariots aren't really commonly used for warfare in most parts of Glorantha, but are a big deal among the Orlanthi in Ralios.
  • Chaos on Earth: The Greater Darkness.
  • The Chosen One: Several, Argrath being one of the main examples.
    • The Chosen Many: It is implied, and outright confirmed in Sartar Rising, that there was no single Argrath and that several heroes were turned by later sources into one Composite Character. Ironically, Sheng Seleris, the closest parallel to the original Arkat from whose name the word "Argrath" derives (both of them were anti-heroes who became the rival empire's single greatest enemy until said empires defeated and imprisoned them; both were released by a Lightbringers Quest, and both ended up betraying their allies), is not one of them.
  • Cold Iron: Iron is poison to elves and trolls, because the dwarves who invented it — not "found," not "refined," they invented a metal — designed it as a weapon against them.
  • Colour Coded Armies: The Vadeli in the West, much like the Brithini they broke away from and warred with, are divided into castes. Brown Vadeli are commoners, and until recently, the only ones that seemed to survive into historical times; they're slimy and evil, but not actually that great at military planning or any grandiose long-term schemes. More recently, Red Vadeli warriors came back onto the scenes - and quickly rallied the Brown Vadeli for a campaign of maritime terror. Everyone dreads the possibility of the return of the Blue Vadeli, the leaders and archmages, who could actually put the bad old Vadeli Empire together again.
  • Combat Tentacles: Supplement Dorastor: Land of Doom.
    • One encounter with Jack O'Bears includes Jack O'Bear #2. It has four tentacles in place of its arms, each of which can inflict 4-24 Hit Points of damage, in a game where most player characters will be lucky to have 16 hit points.
    • The Howler has a single tentacle in the middle of its chest that can do up to 12 Hit Points of physical damage plus up to 10 Hit Points of acid damage.
  • Creepy Centipedes:
    • Heroes magazine Volume I #3 article "Creepy Critters: Insects for RuneQuest". Centipedes can grow up to 20 meters long and their bite can inject a lethal poison.
    • Trollpak boxed set, "Book of Uz" Book 2. Centipedes can grow up to 40 paces (33 yards) long and weigh up to 3,800 lbs.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: A symbol almost identical with the Christian cross is the Rune of Death in Glorantha, and it represents the sword of Humakt, the god of death. Thus, you can use a cross to repel undead in the setting without any kind of connection to Christianity, or even Crystal Dragon Jesus.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: You may think so given the Invisible God, but no; about the only commonality between his church and Catholicism is some sects having saints. Otherwise, they're more like Zoroastrians and Hindis. Although Hrestol is pretty much a Jesus-like figure, martyrdom and all.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Dragonkill War describes what the dragons did. They exterminated a powerful army and then killed every human in the Dragon Pass region.
  • Curse: The Durulz race in all its variants suffers one; it cannot fly anymore. As in, not only will spells that grant flight fail to work on them, flying machines will spontaneously break down if a duck or a keet tries to board it.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • For humans, sure it is, but trolls are subterranean creatures; troll Hell is located in human Heaven and vice versa.
    • Even though Zorak Zoran and his worshippers are complete man-eating, necromancy-edged, brawl-loving berserks, other Troll gods are actually quite benevolent, if only a bit brutal. Well, they may still eat you, but only because they're hungry, nothing personal to it.
    • The Carmanians follow a dualistic religion. While they believe in Idovanus and Ganesatarus as the main good and main evil gods, respectively, with the latter being definitely not okay, their philosophy states that it is actually sensible for a man to combine "light" and "dark" aspects in his life, following a balanced path; for instance, being good and kind to his friends, but remorseless and cruel to his enemies, or tempering the dark action of revenge with the light idea of justice. What this means is that a Carmanian may well come across as a cruel and evil bastard, while actually just acting that way towards his enemies to better protect his family. Of course, they are as often just classical Lawful Evil feudal overlords.
    • Also, the users of the Death Rune are highly respected and well-liked, due to their ability to confer with the ancestors and their anti-undead powers... in some cultures, anyway. In other cultures, the Death worshipers are exactly as creepy as you'd expect.
  • Dark Messiah: Nysalor/Gbaji, depending on the interpretation.
  • Deity of Human Origin: Zistor and Nysalor, who was to be the perfect deity and turned out to be the incarnation of a previous one.
  • Elemental Powers: Glorantha uses five basic elements: Darkness (the primal element), Earth, Sky (which includes fire), Water, and Storm (the air between Earth and Sky). The Lunar Empire regards "Moon" as a sixth element, and most other cultures hate and fear them.
  • Eternal Recurrence: The Sacred Time, a concept pretty much inspired by mythologist Mircea Eliade's eternal return.
    • There's a more straightforward example of the trope: the Devil is said to appear once every 600 years.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Subverted. In the Greater Darkness Wakboth was the Evil, Kajabor was the Oblivion and they were allied. In fact, they could even be the same entity.
    • Wakboth did eventually backstab Kajabor, though just to save his own skin, and because treachery is such an intricate part of his being. Still, in subversion to the usual pattern, Wakboth is usually seen as the worse of the two, since he acted out of genuine, sadistic malice, while Kajabor was utterly impersonal and had no choice about his actions.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: How the all-male broo reproduce, which is why Thed, the Goddess of Rape, is worshiped as their mother. Thankfully, only with nonsentient animals.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Durulz are subject to this as part of their ongoing curses from the gods. In return, ducks hate trolls (the Uz regard Durul flesh as particularly delicious), whilst keets hate each other, with the flamingo and heron keets in particular loathing each other to the extent it's written into their creation mythology.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: The dwarves have rifles. There is even a renegade Dwarf Cult of the Cannon in the Dragon Pass.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Brithini are divided into five castes, the four castes of men founded by the legitimate son of Malkion (Dromal, Horal, Talar and Zzabur) and his wife's caste Menema (caste of women). Dromali=commoners, Horal=warriors, Talar=diplomat and coordinator castes (no leader, even though people often make derivatives), Zzabur=wizards, intellectuals (spiritual power, like the Brahmans of India). The Brithini are as Indo-European, while the Malkioni are more feudal; a subtle reference to the divergent evolution of the Indian system and the European one.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: The Broos often look like this, since they impregnate goats, sheep, and cattle most often. They can do it with any other animal though, and there exists a separate, much nicer race of satyr.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Subverted. Anybody called an "atheist" in Glorantha doesn't worship the gods... because they worship the Invisible God instead, who doesn't really intervene like the pantheon does. The "gods" are held to be lesser figures not worthy of devotion except maybe as saints of the Invisible God.
  • Formerly Sapient Species: One of the Praxian tribes, the Morokanth, consists of humanoid tapirs who herd non-sapient humans as pack beasts and food. In ages past, the human tribes and their totem animals were presumably both sapient, until the chief Praxian god decided to hold a series of lotteries between each tribe and its totem to determine who would be the eater (sapient herders responsible for the well-being of their herds) and eaten (able to forage for sustenance in the Praxian wastes, but stripped of sapience). Humans won four out of the five lotteries, but the tribe with the Morokanth as its totem wasn't as lucky. The modern Morokanth can also turn captive normal humans into nonsapient herd-humans, but don't expect a last-minute rescue by The Cavalry if they try to do this to you — the Morokanth are Praxians, and the surrounding human Praxian tribes feel a stronger cultural kinship towards them than a species one towards any poor schlubs who got themselves in that particular pickle.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Supplement Trollpak, "Book of Uz" part 2. The crabs tamed and used by trolls can weigh more than 2,000 lbs.
  • Giant Spider:
    • Into the Troll Realms, adventure "Skyfall Lake". Crab City has spiders that are as large as a mammoth.
    • Dorastor: Land of Doom. Of the Spider Folk who live in the Spider Woods, the largest type are the Great Mother Spiders. They can reach a Size of 54, which means they weigh just less than 7,000 lb.
    • Supplement Trollpak, "Book of Uz" part 2. The trolls have domesticated several types of giant spiders. The largest ones weigh more than 6,000 lbs.
  • God Couple: Yelm and Dendara, Orlanth and Ernalda.
  • God-Emperor: The Red Emperor is this for the Lunar Empire.
  • God is Dead
  • God of Evil:
    • Wakboth the Devil, a god of Chaos.
    • The Unholy Trio, a subset of the Chaos gods, are even more so-even Chaos worshipers hate them.
    • The Vadeli believe the Invisible God is trying to kill Himself and destroy the entire world in the process (as they are coterminous to some extent), which explains the Darkness et cetera. They want in on the action, and believe everyone else is cowardly and impious for not letting God die. Of course, everyone else that even believes in the Invisible God (i.e. Westerners, mostly) disagrees with their assessment.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: A main staple of the setting, though Wakboth and the Unholy Trio are pitch black.
  • The Hero's Journey: HeroQuests work like this, with the HeroQuester deliberately playing the role of the hero.
  • Hit Points: Averted. Hit points generally do not increase with experience. No matter how bad ass an adventurer is, an axe to their head will ruin their whole day.
  • Horn Attack: The following Gloranthan creatures have horn/butt attacks: bison, broo, broobats, rhino, sable (antelope), sky bull, unicorn.
  • I Know Your True Name:
    • Third Edition boxed set, Book 2: Magic. A magician can only summon a creature he has summoned before if he knows the creature's True Name.
    • Gygax magazine #4 article "Djinn: Spirits between Heaven and Hell". All jinn (imps, djinn, foliots, ifrits and marids) can only be summoned if the magician knows their true name.
    • White Dwarf magazine #92 article "Demons! Dealing with the Otherworld". When summoning a demon, the caster must speak the True Name of the demon during the invocation. If the demon agrees to a bargain with the summoner, it must swear by its True Name to carry out its end of the bargain.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • The Sun God Yelm.
      • He is consided evil by the followers of Orlanthi Storm Pantheon, but good to the followers of the Sun pantheon.
      • The Durulz hate Yelm, as he was the god who stripped them of their ability to fly and cursed them to their current state, and aren't too fond of other Sky gods, who goaded him into accepting a racial Fate Worse than Death instead of exterminating them, even though they admit that these gods did so to save the Durulz from extinction.
    • Trolls are subterranean creatures; troll Hell is located in human Heaven and vice versa.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Exposure to Primal Chaos can give you "Chaos Features", neat powers that often come with horrific physical manifestations. But you can also be Blessed with Suck and end up with "Chaos Flaws".
  • Love Goddess: Uleria.
  • Lunacy: In addition to the standard Earth, Air, Fire and Water elementals, Glorantha also has Darkness and Moon elementals. Moon Elementals cause temporary insanity by touch.
  • Mad God: Ragnaglar of the Unholy Trio.
  • The Maker: The patron deity of the Mostali (dwarves), who they literally refer to by this title.
  • Mama Bear: In Durulz mythology, after Yelm invaded their ancestral home of Ganderland and drove the ducks away, Canarda, their goddess of motherhood and literal mother of their species, stayed behind. Once she was alone, she walked right up to Yelm, ignoring the way his fiery aura burned her, and gave him an Armor-Piercing Slap. He was so impressed that he allowed her to limp away after her children unharmed and called off his war.
  • Merchant City: The second-largest city in Sartar, Alda-Chur is a bustling, crowded, wealthy trade centre which dominates a key part of the main trade route linking the Lunar Empire with Sartar, Prax, and the cities and seaports of the Holy Country.
  • Mind Screw: There are lots of mutually exclusive mythologies, and all of them are true because reality before Time started was fluid. And sometimes (the Sunstop, which temporarily broke Time, being the main example) it can still be. And traveling to the reality before Time started, which still exists as a separate plane, can potentially change reality after Time started. That's without taking into account the Unreliable Narrators or the out-of-universe Retcons. Needless to say, all of this can be just a little confusing.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous:
    • In Glorantha, the giant Grotarons (a.k.a. Trimanes and Maidstone Archers) have a third arm where their head would be (and eyes on the backs of their hands and a mouth in their solar plexus...) They use massive bows, held in their left and right arms and drawn with their top arms.
    • Supplement Dorastor: Land of Doom. The Chaos creature Yeachi has four arms. It uses them to fire arrows from two bows at once in ranged combat or hit opponents with the bows (attacking with them as if they were staffs) in melee combat.
  • Mythopoeia: The biggest one in Tabletop Games.
  • Never Mess with Granny:
    • Esrolia is matriarchal. Glorantha creator Greg Stafford has pointed out that this does not mean "rule by women" — it means "rule by mothers", specifically, Grandmothers, the heads of extensive matriarchal patrician (matrician?) clans (and their clients). Some of them are genuinely well-meaning and benign; others are ruthless, controlling, manipulative tyrants. All of them are iron-willed, powerful Earth priestesses with decades of positively Byzantine political experience, and so none of them are to be messed with.
    • Older troll leaders tend to fall under this too. Female trolls don't tend to venture out of the dark or fight with weapons much - they have expendable males for that. But if threatened or provoked, troll "grannies" usually have a vast arsenal of dark magic and demons to throw at an enemy.
  • Never My Fault:
    • In the mythical history of the Durulz, Yelm demanded three times that the Durulz fly down and save him from being trapped in Hell after Orlanth killed him. They refused him each time. When Orlanth was finally forced to rescue Yelm to end the Darkness, Yelm was determined to destroy the Durulz utterly for refusing him, changing his mind only when the rest of the Sky Gods persuaded him that a Fate Worse than Death would be more fitting. Completely ignoring that he earned their enmity by invading their ancestral homeland, burning it into a lifeless desert and slaughtering them until they were forced to flee, an invasion he launched only because their pantheon had made friends with Orlanth.
    • The keets hold a bitter resentment for all non-keet races, blaming them for ingratitude in the face of the keets saving Vithela from being completely destroyed by the demon Zmalak. Completely ignoring that Zmalak's plan to shatter the continent only succeeded because the keets were too busy bickering and fighting with each other and everyone else to stop it — to the point the demon himself gave the keets a "The Reason You Suck" Speech calling them out on their petty squabbling before casting his continent-shattering spell.
  • The Night That Never Ends: This is what happens when you kill the Sun God. And then it gets worse.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted, due to the hit-location system. Characters can get crippled very easily in combat.
  • Only Flesh Is Safe: The spell Animate (Substance) is restricted to inanimate matter with the caveat that it works on organics if they are already dead.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Lunar Empire versus Orlanthi, big time. Although it is kind of a weird case - the Lunar Empire promotes (cosmic) Chaos but is very organized, whereas the Orlanthi are Chaos-hating barbarian berserkers.
  • Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: Rashoran/Rashorana and Androgeus.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Glorantha is famous for its many, many odd creatures, and for being one of the earliest settings in which playing as a monster was encouraged. You can even play intelligent ducks, called Durulz in RuneQuest. (It has its advantages: small size, high Dexterity, and hardly anyone notices a Duck — perfect for a thief/rogue or a mage. And you know what? They have their own island empire in the far East.)
  • Our Dragons Are Different: True Dragons are beings of unfathomable power, and human beings can become dragons if they follow Draconic Mysticism. The Empire of Wyrmfriends wanted to assimilate everybody into being dragons. Or at least part of the messianic Great Dragon to Come.
  • Our Elves Are Different: They're kind-of dryads, or Plant Aliens.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Massively averted. Dwarves are made into one of several castes, very different from each other. And they are not Viking-like, they are instead living tools dedicated to repairing the once-perfect World Machine.
  • Our Gods Are Different: The gods gave up their free will as part of the peace treaty that ended the Gods' War (the war that nearly destroyed them, and the world). Now the gods are locked into their roles, unable to choose to change—though it's possible that their worshipers can change the gods, by changing the myths or by going on mystical quests into the God Time.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: They're a Chaotic subrace of humans who look like handsome, tall people with sharp teeth. And yes, they're cannibals. Cannibals who can look like normal humans.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Most commonly associated with the Chaos god Vivamort, the vampires are immortal and possess some frightening abilities, but are also severely handicapped by the various elemental curses placed on them by the gods due to their treachery (being fervently hated both by Humakt as undead and by Urox as Chaos isn't a good place to be either). Sunlight doesn't destroy them, but does take away their powers; to sleep, they require special soil, as regular earth had rejected them. Their mist form is scattered by winds, but their greatest weakness is probably running water (a fact eagerly exploited by duck undead-fighters, of course...). A drop from the river Styx would destroy a vampire in an instant. And notably, in some versions, they're also extra vulnerable to swords - as they are the image of the Death rune, that they seek to escape from.
  • Plague Master: Malia, the Mother of Disease.
  • Plant Person: The elves.
  • Poison Is Corrosive
    • The claws of the powerful, evil Chaos being Cacodemon inject a potent corrosive venom that can inflict up to 114 Hit Points of damage. The claws of his Fiend minions inject a similar poison that can do up to 20 Hit Points of damage. (A typical human has 11–12 Hit Points, for reference.)
    • Supplement Trollpak, "Book of Uz" part 2. Trolls control a type of giant whip-scorpion called a vinegaroon. It can spray a liquid poison that is highly acidic.
    • White Dwarf #45 article "Dealing With Demons". A sraim demon can spit acidic venom up to 10 meters away with a 50% chance of hitting.
  • Pride: The God Learners thought that they could do whatever they wanted with those ridiculous pagan deities. Boy were they wrong.
  • Pumpkin Person: The Jack O'Bear is a hairy bear-like monster with an orange head that looks like a pumpkin.
  • Puppet State: The Kingdom of Tarsh is tributary to the Lunar Empire, paying money, goods, slaves and obedience to the Lunar Empire in the person of the Provincial Governor.
  • Rainbow Motif: The rainbow gorp can change from one color to another. Each color gives it a different Chaos Feature: red (increase Size by 11), orange (regeneration 1 Hit Point per round), yellow (12 points of skin armor), green (regeneration 6 Hit Points per round), blue (turn into a harmless appearing pile of dust) and purple (absorb spells that cost up to two magic points).
  • Redemption Quest: Orlanth goes To Hell and Back in order to resurrect his own victim.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: White Dwarf
    • Issue #45, article "Dealing With Demons". Demon wolves are large wolves with red eyes. They can inflict a curse that can strike the victim dumb or blind, paralyze their arms or wither their legs, or cause them to be disfigured or turned into a rat. They are summoned by the sacrifice of sapient beings to them.
    • Issue #92, article "Demons! Dealing with the Otherworld". The demon Tagrikas the Devourer slaughters human beings in the world of Glorantha at the command of the demon Megaera. He has red Glowing Eyes.
  • Retcon: Several.
    • Gloranthan West was a Medieval European Fantasy type of setting before the Guide to Glorantha changed it.
    • In Mongoose Runequest, Zistorites wore cyborg-esque mechamagical implants. In Mongoose Runequest II, they wear magical tattoos instead.
  • Scary Scorpions: Giant scorpions used by the trolls can weigh as much as 480 lbs.
  • Science Is Bad: Almost everyone outside Zistorwal hated the scientific method-based Zistor project. Probably with good reason.
  • Scorpion People: The Glorantha campaign setting has scorpionmen.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Into the Troll Realms, adventure "The Flying Trollkin". Nesretep is the leader of the title criminals. Sandy Petersen co-wrote the supplement.
  • Soul Jar: Avalon Hill's Heroes magazine article "New Spells for RuneQuest 3". The Invulnerability spell allows the caster to remove his own heart without dying and hide it away somewhere. As long as the heart is undamaged the rest of the caster's body is immune to physical damage. If the heart is destroyed the caster will turn to dust.
  • Spirit World: The Otherworld.
  • Stock Medieval Meal: Supplement RuneQuest Cities. A chart for determining the quality of food at inns and taverns mentioned stew, bread, cheese, soup and fish.
  • Subsystem Damage: Under the hit-location system, physical damage (and some types of spell damage) are applied to specific body locations.
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: The broo's primary motivation.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts
    • Mostly gained through Kralorelan mysticism, by monastic adepts who give in to temptations of power while ostensibly trying to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence (most of the students, frankly, are just there to try to reach the really good temptations).
    • Battle magic is something in between this and Full-Contact Magic.
  • Super Spit:
    • Supplement Dorastor: Land of Doom:
      • The Gnarl, one of the Slime Broos gang, can spit acid up to 20 meters away that does 12 Hit Points of damage to a hit location of his choice.
      • The Spit Snake is one type of Chaos Snake. Each Spit Snake can spit a different liquid substance, such as potent acid, a skunk spray-like oil, glue, contact poison, dyes, and one that gives off a smell that attracts Chaos creatures.
      • The Howler can spit acid 9 times per day that does up to 20 Hit Points of damage.
      • The three-headed Chaos creature Yeachi can spit acid from its central head (that does up to 32 Hit Points of damage) five times per day.
    • White Dwarf #45 article "Dealing With Demons". A sraim demon can spit acidic venom up to 10 meters away with a 50% chance of hitting.
  • Synchronization: Supplement Trollpak, "Book of Uz" part 2. The Aranea cult has a special type of Divine Intervention. The supplicant can link themselves to another person so that if the supplicant dies, the other will as well. This is an excellent way to persuade another person not to kill you.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Hey, God Learners and Empire of Wyrm's Friends? Did ya ever think that maybe mucking around with the source code of reality might have consequences down the line? Like, say, forcing a pair of goddesses to do the other's job as a thought experiment? Given how you managed to blow yourselves up, guess not.
  • To Hell and Back: The Lightbringers, to rescue Yelm and end the Greater Darkness.
  • Top God: Many pantheons have one, but Sedenya, Yelm and Orlanth are the most important. Arachne Solara, and Glorantha before her, can be seen as Goddesses of Gods.
  • Trickster Archetype: Several, Eurmal being the main example.
  • Universe Compendium: The Guide to Glorantha and the Glorantha Sourcebook.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Lots. Many texts are written from an In-Universe point of view, and even if All Myths Are True in Glorantha falsehoods and inaccuracies still exist and creep in.
  • Vampiric Draining:
    • Supplement Dorastor: Land of Doom:
      • A lamia drains Strength from a victim by biting them and Power by kissing them.
      • When a succubus in female form has sex with a male she drains one point of Constitution from him.
      • When a vampire bites its victim it doesn't just drain blood, it drains Fatigue as well.
    • Gygax magazine #4 article "Djinn: Spirits between Heaven and Hell". All jinn can replenish lost magic points by draining the Life Energy of a living creature. Each point of Power in the victim yields two magic points.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Are you familiar with the work of comparative mythologists like Joseph Campbell or Mircea Eliade? What about concepts like "mytheme" or "euhemerism"? Yeah, good luck trying to wrap your head around Gloranthan deep lore if you answered "no".
  • War God: Several.
  • Weakened by the Light:
    • The following creatures are demoralized in daylight: ghouls, some orcs, cave trolls, trollkin and vampires.
    • Cave trolls: damage they take while in sunlight is not healed by their regeneration ability.
    • The shade takes Hit Points of damage each round that it remains in sunlight.
    • Ghouls lose one Magic Point for each hour they spend in direct sunlight, and it isn't easy for them to regain lost Magic Points.
    • White Dwarf magazine
      • Issue #45, article "Dealing With Demons". Demon wolves must be summoned at night because they are demoralized by daylight. Nightmares are black demon horses that dissolve into mist if sunlight falls upon them.
      • Issue #57 article "For the Blood Is the Life". When exposed to sunlight, vampyrs lose their ability to charm opponents and their immunity to attack by bronze weapons. They also lose two points of CON each round they remain in the sunlight. If their CON reaches zero, they will become inanimate. If a vampyr is in its coffin when the sunlight hits it, it is trapped in the coffin until nightfall.
  • Weird Moon: Glorantha has never had a conventional Earthlike moon. The Blue Moon is tiny and rarely visible save as a streak of light, whereas the Red Moon is of recent vintage, ripped from the middle of Dara Happa, and hovers in place over the Lunar Empire, revolving to show a red side and a black side. It is said that a White Moon may rise someday.
  • A Year and a Day: In Avalon Hill's Sun County supplement, a village was renamed Repentance for this period for failing to pay its annual cult remittances.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: 3rd Edition boxed set, "Gamemaster Book". The last part of the book is an introductory adventure in which the PCs start off by meeting at the Bouncing Buffalo Inn. A man then approaches them and offers them their first mission/adventure.


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