Bell Digest vol08p09-1.txt

To: RuneQuest@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM
From: RuneQuest-Request@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM
Subject:  RuneQuest Digest Volume 8, no 9,  part 1 of 2
Comments: Revision @(#)v8n09	1.2	93/03/14
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	(RuneQuest Digest Submission Address)
Sender: Henk.Langeveld@Holland.Sun.COM


	Peter Maranci - The Runic Sorcery Magic system

	Just having sent off three issues worth of Daily's,
	I'm still sitting here with three cats on my lap.
	So, since I can't get up now and go to bed, I'll
	just post Pete's proposed rules for an alternative
	magic system.

Henk Langeveld, Maintainer/Editor of the RuneQuest Digest and RuneQuest Daily
Submissions for the Daily to:		
for the Digest: 
Subscriptions and questions: 

From: Peter Maranci 
Subject: Runic sorcery for RuneQuest
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 93 20:40:29 EST

                      RUNIC SORCERY FOR RUNEQUEST

			     by Peter Maranci

             An alternate system of Sorcery for RuneQuest

				P A R T  I

[Note: The following is a work in progress. It is by no means a final 
draft. I have interspxersed explanatory notes through the text in 
square brackets where necessary. I have also interspersed some of my 
own questions. Any comments or suggestions will be gratefully 
received. I would like to acknowledge the work of Bill Moodey, who 
came up with some of the original concepts from which this 
experimental system has been derived. This system uses the skill 
difficulty classifications from the playtest version of RuneQuest IV.  
No challenge is intended in this work to any pre-existing copyright or 
trademark. -->Peter Maranci] 



	[Sections 8-12 can be found in part 2 -HL]


    Runic Sorcery is a science of magic, using purely human skills and 
abilities. It is based on evoking Elements and manipulating them to 
the Sorcerer's will via knowledge of sorcerous Runes. These Runes 
correspond with, but are not necessarily identical to the true Runes 
of Glorantha.

    Spirit Magic depends upon the static, unnatural knowledge of 
spiritual entities; Divine Magic rests upon the whim of the Gods. 
Sorcery is the Third Way, using the natural non-personified Runes of 
Glorantha as a source of power and knowledge. Use of the Runes in this 
atheistic manner strikes some as being reminiscent of the techniques 
of the God Learners.  Sorcerers laugh at such suggestions -- at least 
in the West.  

    Sorcerers may create magic in either of two different ways. They 
may use their knowledge of the Runes to create off-the-cuff Castings, 
also known as Runic 'sentences'. These offer incredible flexibility 
within those Runes the Sorcerer knows. 

    Additionally, a Sorcerer may formalize a Rune sentence as a spell.  
Such a spell lacks the flexibility of a Casting, but is quicker to 
cast and easier to master. Spells may be created by the sorcerer or 
learned directly from another sorcerer or book.  

               *                   *                   * 

    All Sorcery is based upon a sorcerer's knowledge of Sorcerous
Runes.  Each Rune is learned as an individual skill; these are usually 
Hard skills, though some are Very Hard. Initial knowledge of a 
specific Rune can be acquired as any other skill, through training or 
research. All Rune skills are at (00) base percentage, with the 
exception of the Self Rune, which starts at (Age in years x 5%), and 
can be trained as a Very Hard skill.  

    There are six different kinds of Runes: Elements, Shapes, Forms, 
Names,  Conditions, and Powers.


    Every spell *must* include an element -- the Element is what the 
other Runes in the spell modify. Those which do not include an obvious 
Element incorporate at least one Intensity of Magic. Element Runes are 
used to summon elements to be modified by other Runes.  

    In the West, the commonly recognized physical Elements are 
Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Light, and Darkness. All of these are Hard 
skills. Some have suggested that Light might correspond to the Lunar 
Rune of the Red Empire, which also glows without burning. This theory 
is generally debunked by most Adepts. The common belief is that the 
Lunar Rune is actually more closely related to the Disorder Rune.

    There is also one non-physical Element: Magic. This is raw magical 
energy, used in Spells and Castings which do not incorporate a mundane 
element.  The Magic Rune is Very Hard to learn, since it cannot 
normally be seen, smelled, touched, or otherwise experienced in an 
unmodified form.  

    The Element Runes are used to create or summon an amount of the 
raw element. Each magic point expended creates one cubic meter of an 
insubstantial element, or one kilogram of a solid one. If the element 
is already present, twice as much of the material may be controlled 
per magic point. The maximum number of magic points which may be used 
to create or control an element is the Rune skill divided by ten.

[Note: I considered 5% rather than 10% -- it seemed to fit in better 
with the basic mechanics of RuneQuest -- but it simply made Sorcerers 
too powerful.] 

    If a Sorcerer attempts to control (via Spell or Casting) a volume 
of Element already under the control of another Sorcerer, an MP vs. MP 
roll determines the victor. If the victor's magic is Active, he must 
make a concentration roll to continue control. The loser's magic is 

    Greater amounts of material may be created/controlled by 
incorporating the Rune in question more than once. However, the magic 
point cost per point is increased by one for each re-use of the Rune.  
For example, with a skill of 50% in the Fire Rune 5 Intensities of 
Fire may be summoned, with a damage potential of 5D3. This would cost 
5 magic points, before costs for Shape, Movement, and any other 
modifications. If the Fire Rune was used twice, however, up to 10 
intensities of Fire could be created.  Each of the first 5 points 
would cost one magic point each; each point from 6 to 10 would cost 2 
magic points apiece.  Therefore, eight Intensities of Fire would cost 
a Sorcerer with a Fire Rune skill of 50% 11 magic points to summon: 
five times one (5) plus three times two (6). The same Intensity of 
Fire would cost a Sorcerer with a Fire Rune skill of 80% merely 8 
magic points to summon (8 x 1 = 8), and would cost a Sorcerer with a 
Fire Rune skill of 10% 36 magic points! (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 
8). Each time the Rune is re-used counts as a separate Rune, with a 
-10% penalty to skill for each use (see Section 8: CASTINGS). 
Obviously the chance of success in the last case would be virtually 

    If the Fire Rune were incorporated three times by a Sorcerer with 
a Fire Rune skill between 45% and 54%, the first five points would 
cost one MP apiece, the second five points would cost two MP apiece, 
and the third five points would cost three MP apiece. A maximum 
strength triple-Fire summoning with a skill of 50% would therefore 
cost 30 MP before any additional modifications. It would produce 15 
Intensities of Fire.  

    Different Elements have different effects. Armor subtracts from 
all attacks using the physical Elements; since such Elements still 
have a physical manifestation, however, they still do half damage even 
if the caster fails to overcome the target's current Magic Points. The 
Magic Element ignores armor, but has no effect upon the target if 

When used for attack: 

    Fire is the most destructive Element.  Each Intensity of Fire 
causes 1D3 damage to a target. This damage is absorbed by armor. Fire, 
however, causes no extra damage for a Special result.  

    Earth causes 1D2 damage per Intensity. Unlike Fire, Earth can 
Crush on a Special result. Stone may be summoned using the Earth Rune, 
at a cost of two magic points per kilogram. Depending on its shape, 
Stone may Crush or Impale.  

[Note: Is it necessary to differentiate Earth and Stone at all? Should 
Earth do less damage?]   

    Water causes 1 point of damage per Intensity. It is also more 
likely to knock down a target. When striking an object, each point of 
Water counts double for Knockdown purposes. Water Slashes on a Special 

    Air, Light, and Darkness each cause 1 point of damage per 2 points 
of Intensity.  They have no additional effect on a Special success.  
They may have special effects on some creatures, however. Light, for 
example, may blind a target, and in addition would do extra damage to 
Shades. It would also be especially demoralizing to Darkness-dwelling 
creatures such as Trolls.  

    Magic causes 1 point of damage per Intensity. It has no additional 
effect for a Special success. However, only one point of magic is 
usually necessary for a spell affecting the target's mind. More magic 
would have a proportionately greater effect. One point of magic 
combined with the Disorder Rune in a spell intended to confuse, for 
example, could cause -5% to all skill chances. Two points would have a 
-10% effect.

    Metals can be summoned by using a second Element with the Earth 
Rune. Bronze, for example, is summoned through the combination of 
Earth and Air, and costs two magic points per Intensity, rather than 
one. The volume summoned is also less than that of a pure Element: one 
gram per Intensity.  

    The various Elements have other properties deriving logically from 
their natures. Fire, for example, would offer little protection 
against most physical attacks, but would damage those things passing 
through it. Earth (or Stone) would generally be the most protective.  
Water would be most effective against Fire. Air would be useful to 
breathe. Light would discomfort Trollkin.

[Note: The possibilities are so widespread that it is probably 
impossible to detail every case; the most that could be done would be 
to write a broad set of guidelines, and let the GM extrapolate. All 
amounts, incidentally, are adjustable.  I've chosen the cubic 
meter/kilogram standard because that's what is in the description of 
the RQ3 Sorcery Form/Set (substance) spell. This may not be an ideal 


    Shapes are perhaps self-explanatory: they represent geometrical 
ideals, and are commonly used to shape elements. There are, therefore, 
as many possible Shape Runes are there are shapes. However, some are 
more common than others.  The simplest Shapes are Bolts, Spheres, and 
Walls. Bolts are usually used to fire an Element toward a target, 
intersecting a single hit location. This is an Easy skill. Spheres are 
used to shape an Element into a large sphere, possibly encompassing a 
large area indeed. The Sphere Rune skill is a skill of Medium 
difficulty, as are the Rod and Spike Shapes. Walls are, again, self-
evident; the complexity of the Wall Shape makes it a Hard skill to 
learn. Cones, solid Cubes, and solid Cylinders are also Hard. Hollow 
Spheres, Cylinders, Cubes, and other hollow forms are Very Hard, as 
are some irregular and multi-sided Shapes.  More complex shapes can 
also be created by combining less complex Shape Runes.

    If no shape is used in a Spell, the element summoned has no 
cohesion once the active portion of the spell is finished, and will 
behave normally. Water flung at a target will simply fall to the 
ground, doing little if any damage.  Fire will disperse, unless there 
is fuel to sustain it. Light and Dark will be absorbed by the ambient 
environment, etc. The exception to this is Magic, which if directed 
towards a living target will conform to the target's shape -- unless 
the target has successfully resisted the Spell.  

    Size and Shapes: A Shape may be any size the caster desires.  
However, the larger the Shape the more dilute the Element becomes.  
Logic applies. One Intensity of Fire does 1D3 damage, and covers 1 
cubic meter. If spread over an area equal to 2 cubic meters, it will 
do half as much damage. If spread over an area equal to more than 3 
cubic meters, it will do no damage at all. If covering an area greater 
than 6 cubic meters, it will no longer be visible.

4) FORMS  

    The Forms are as those listed in the RQ2 book: Plant, Beast, Man, 
Dragonewt, Spirit, and Chaos (the last not being generally available).  
Other Forms almost certainly exist.  In addition there is a generic 
Target Rune. Forms are generally used to target magic against 
creatures which can resist it. The various Forms are Hard skills. with 
the exception of the Sorcerer's own species Rune(s), which is/are Easy 
to learn.  The basic Target Rune (Very Hard) simply allows the Casting 
to reach a specific point in coherent form. The caster must roll 
separately against his Target Rune skill. If species-appropriate Runes 
are used instead (Man for men and women, Dark and Man for Trolls, 
Plant and Man for Elves, etc.) then the Casting will automatically 
strike the intended target. A spell cast at a target other than the 
spell's incorporated Target Rune will have no effect.

[Note: I'm not at all sure that the Target Runes are a good idea. The 
concept seems sound, but the division of the Runes seems to have a 
certain unfairness built in. For example, magic cast against Trolls 
would be harder than against humans, since they'd involve an extra 
Rune. Alternatively, a set of Species Runes could be considered as 
one. It would be necessary to know both Dark and Man to specifically 
target Trolls, but there would only be a -10% penalty for the two 
Runes, rather than -20%. However this may be over-complicated, though 
it does not seem unreasonable that Sorcery should be the most complex 
thing in RuneQuest. A third possibility: the use of *any* Rune 
appropriate to the Target's species will enable the spell to be 


    Names are actually refinements of Form Runes; they are the true 
name of a specific creature. They can be learned only with the 
greatest difficulty, if at all -- long and intimate association with 
the creature in question would be necessary. A spell or Casting 
created with the true Name of the Target cannot be resisted, though 
protective magic will work.  

    Every Sorcerer knows his own true Name, the Self Rune, at a 
percentage equal to [(his age in years x 5%) + magic bonus]. It can be 
trained as a Very Hard skill.

    A Sorcerer may substitute his or her personal Name in any spell 
including his or her Species Rune(s), without penalty or effort.


    Condition Runes are usually used to modify magic. When embedded in 
a Spell, they allow a greater degree of flexibility. The most commonly 
used Condition Runes in Sorcery are Duration and Range. All are Very 
Hard. Mastery, Magic, and Infinity are rarely if ever used as such.  
The theoretical differences between Magic as an Element and as a 
Condition have occupied thousands of pages in obscure Western 

    At least one magic point must be expended in the Duration Rune, or 
else the Spell or Casting will be instant. At least one magic point 
must be used in the Range Rune, or else the range will be touch only.

[Note: The manipulation Runes can be used to duplicate any form of 
RuneQuest sorcery desired. All that is necessary is to set an 
appropriate minimum effect. For example: every ten percent skill in 
the Duration Rune allows one point of added Intensity. This could be 
used to duplicate the Intensity skill in either RQ3 Sorcery or the 
version currently being playtested for RQ4.] 


    Harmony, Disorder, Fertility, Death, Stasis, Movement, Truth, 
Illusion, Luck, Fate, and possibly others.

    Movement is useful in two ways. It can be used to allow free 
change of the shape of a spell or Element, being particularly useful 
for Illusions in such regard. However, if there is no Shape Rune 
included in the magic, the use of the Movement Rune will only allow 
the Element to hold together for as long as the mage concentrates upon 
it. Example: Movement + Light + Range + Duration would create a form 
of Light that the caster can shape as he wishes, changing from moment 
to moment for as long as he concentrates.

    Movement may also be used to move a magical effect in different 
directions after being cast. Each magic point expended for movement in 
this way allows the magic to be moved at a rate of one meter per 
Strike Rank. Example: Light + Sphere + Range + Movement + Duration 
allows the caster to create a sphere of light that may be moved from 
place to place.

    The Movement Rune could be used for both purposes, but in that 
case would have to be used twice, with a second -10% penalty to skill 
in the case of a Casting.

[These would be the most fluid Runes. Harmony + Magic + Man, for 
example, could heal, cause sleep, or calm a target -- and other 
interpretations are imaginable. The players' and GMs imaginations 
would be the defining factors.]