Bell Digest vol09p01.txt

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From: RuneQuest-Request@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM
Subject:  RuneQuest Digest Volume 9, no 1
Comments: Revision @(#)v9n01	1.3 93/05/07
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    Shadows on the Borderlands A Cursory Review		(Mark Sabalauskas)
    Caution: Nick Brooke 				(David Cheng)
    Loads of stuff! 					(Nick Brooke)
    Seven Cults for Seven Mothers 			(Bryan J. Maloney)


	Some recent stuff.  Meant as a sample for those who don't
	receive the RuneQuest Daily.  Welcome to Nick Brooke!

Henk Langeveld, Maintainer/Editor of the RuneQuest Digest and RuneQuest Daily
Submissions for the Daily to:		
for the Digest: 
Subscriptions and questions: 
Me: Henk.Langeveld@Holland.Sun.COM	


From: (Mark S. c/o Tom Yates)
Subject: Shadows on the Borderlands
Message-ID: <9305060650.AA03240@Sun.COM>
Date: 6 May 93 06:53:44 GMT

                    Shadows On The Borderland
             A Cursory Review - by Mark Sabalauskas

	I just purchased and read Shadows this afternoon, and
thought you all might like to hear my first opinions.  Naturally
I have not had time to play the scenarios, so please feel free to
take my comments with a grain of salt. 

	Shadows on the Borderland is a set of three scenarios for
RuneQuest.  The adventures are set on the edges of the Zola Fel
valley, but could probably be relocated with a minimum of effort
to anywhere in central Gernertela.  I don't think it would be
worthwhile to adapt the material to a non-RuneQuest system.  The
scenarios are supported by a surprisingly large amount of
background material, which games masters will find useful after
the scenarios are resolved.   A RQIII write-up of the cult of
Thanatar is included.

	Physically Shadows maintains and improves upon the high
standards Ken Rolston has brought to the RuneQuest line.  The
cover is the best so far, scary and very well drawn.  The
traditional "opening greeting" on the back cover is an amusing
touch.  Inside we find a attractive 80 page book, a 24 page games
master pullout section, and three very nicely drawn maps.  The
pullout section contains the NPC stats, player handouts, and
some background information.  Include are "What my father told me
sections" for Broos, Orges, and Yelmalions.  The Broo Shaman's
remarks by Martin Crim are particularly funny, but his Ogre
material seem a bit too sophisticated, even for illuminates.
Fortunately, less complicated attitudes are presented as well.

	Gaumata's Vision, by Mike Dawson, is the first scenario.  It
is a mystery set in the outskirts of Sun County.  It is very well
written, with an interesting plot, and well drawn NPCs.  As the
scenario is a mystery, I obviously can't tell you much about the
plot.  Mysteries can be hard to run, but Gaumata's Vision gives
the GM plenty of guidance.  This scenario is probably the most
uncanny of the adventures, and it could be played by characters
of almost any power level.  I'd give it a solid A.

	Ken Rolston wrote Dyskund Caverns, the second adventure. 
It's a cave crawl that seems best suited to challenge
intermediate to high power characters.  There is a section that
specifically covers adapting the tactics of the opposition to the
skills and strength of the party.  The encounters and environment
are generally well detailed, but I feel Ken really drops the ball
in a single location.  There is a side area with "undefeatable"
opposition.  Given the particular history of this area I don't
think that is either reasonable or fair.  I was also annoyed by
the fact that three different options are given in case the
opposition is overcome.  If I wanted to think, I wouldn't pay
good money to have other people design adventures! :-)  Dyskund
Caverns also contains the only errata that caught my eye. 
Certain scrolls are said to be written in three separate
languages: Brithini, Carmarian, and Loskalmi.  Westerners share
the same written language, although the spoken dialects are
different.  On the whole, however, this scenario is very solid,
and looks like it would be a lot of fun to play.  Grade: A minus.

	The last scenario is called A Tale to Tell, and is written
by Jon Quaife.  The really neat thing about this tale is that is
brings back a rather interesting character from an old chaosium
adventure.  Unfortunately some of the background added about this
character seems implausible, disappointing, and possibly in bad
taste.  Fortunately, this information has NO bearing on the
course of the scenario, so the game master can freely disregard
it.  The mystery that starts the adventure seems contrived, and
although I have not run it, I'd expected Players would have a
hard time figuring out many of the clues, particularity the
enigmatic Rune carving.  On the whole, the first part seems a bit
bland.  Nothing wrong, but nothing special.  The second half
seems far more interesting, as does the denouement.  There is
also an intriguing link to Doraster: Land of Doom.  Grade: B.

	The long form description of the Thanatar cult is a welcome
addition to RQIII.  Initiate requirements have been made more
reasonable.  Curiously, the cults has Rune Lords, but only
acolytes can become Doom Lords, and the only major benefit Doom
Lords get is one use divine magic from the Thanatar aspect.  But
Acolytes can switch branches, and their old branch magic becomes
one-use, so it seems that there is little incentive to become a
Rune Lord.  Sadly about a third of the cult history appears to be
missing, I don't know if this is due to space constraints, or if
Greg Stafford has changed his mind.  Still, it's nice to see the
 RQIII description.

	To sum up, I'd say that this is a good module, with patches
of greatness.  The scenarios are better than any that have been
recently written, with the exception of the Garhound Contest.  I
would recommend it to any RuneQuest game master.

From: (David Cheng)
Subject: Caution: Nick Brooke
Date: 6 May 93 02:48:59 GMT

I'd just like to post a brief cautionary note about Nick Brooke, the
outspoken recent subscriber to the RQ Daily/Digest:

I had the pleasure of meeting him when I attended Convulsion of a Trillion
Tentacles last year.  The guy is amazing.  The depth of his understanding
of Glorantha makes most of us look like babes still in the crib.

And I am not alone in this assertion!  Stafford once told me that there 
are a couple of people he's met/corresponded with whose grasp of 
Glorantha is so deep that _he_ learns things about the world from _them_.
One guy is French, and I believe he implied that Nick Brooke was 
another, although he did not explicitly use the name.

I can honestly say I fear the level of sophistication of discussion 
in this forum will double, now that people like Nick, David Hall, Michael
O'Brien and their ilk are coming on line.  And that's no slander to the
rest of us scholars!  I use the word "fear" because I have too many
other things to do, but how can I help but read the Digest ever-more
intently now?

Yes, plans are still coming along nicely.  The promo flier will begin
production next week.  The pre-reg book is beyond the planning phase.

More after my 3 papers are done (one of them only 8 days late...)

-David Cheng
 Gloranthan Toddler
 Chair - RuneQuest Con (Jan 14-16, 1994: Baltimore, Maryland) (which fails often)
 313 East 85th Street, Apt 2C
 New York, NY  10028  USA
 (212) 472-7752

From: 100270.337@CompuServe.COM (Nick Brooke)
Subject: Loads of stuff!
Message-ID: <930505215200_100270.337_BHB46-1@CompuServe.COM>
Date: 5 May 93 21:52:00 GMT

(Sorry to take up so much space, but I LOVE this newsletter!)
David Ingram:

"... Apparent differences and inconsistencies between the stories are not 
bad management on behalf of the editors but reflect the point that if five 
people witness a given event then in the end there will be five (or six) 
conflicting views on what actually happened."

Surely this is the whole point of Greg's writing "King of Sartar" -- to get 
away from the terminally retentive view that only what we've been told 
about actually happened.  In order to use that book for your RQ campaign, 
you're going to have to make value judgements, draw up a realistic 
timeline, and decide for yourself who to believe.  Not bad practice.
Adrian Brownlow:

Elf reproduction: Elder Races Book, p.30f. has the official line on this.
I believe that elf "dances" in Sea Season are pollination rituals -- but 
then I suffer from "Elf Fever" and stagger out of the woods sneezing if 
they've been around.  I remember Sandy saying that Accelerate Growth could 
be repeatedly cast to speed up the development of an elf "fruit" to 
physical maturity if the forest needs warriors *FAST*, but that the elves 
"hot-housed" that way are mongoloid cretins.  If you meet one in an elf 
wood, panic!  (It's like "the Brithini are having babies!").
P A Snow:

You're not talking rubbish.  The bits of Glorantha products I return to 
time and again are the "soft background" and parts written for us by 
Gloranthan authors: Priests, Fathers, Jaxarte in Tales, the Jonstown 
Compendium (an interesting cross: "soft/hard background"!) and now, of 
course, King of Sartar.  Better, far better than the impersonal mechanics 
of cult short-form write-ups.  What did the cult of Godunya from GoG teach 
us about Kralori society?  That was not my favorite RQ rulesbook -- though 
the other stuff in the box more than made up for it!

I guess the solution, now we've got GoG, would be to produce MaGoG -- More 
About Gods of Glorantha.  But that's a biblical pun rather than a serious 
suggestion.  On the other hand, if you brought it out on as 
three-hole-punched CD-ROM boxed set...  Nurse!  My tablets!
Mike Dawson:

"Do you think that Malkion prohibits the lending of money at interest?
Makes for some interesting political and economic situations."

I'm sure he does!  Only the filthy, corrupt Vadeli are moneylenders in the 
West, as unlike the Brithini Way their religion *encourages* contact with 
outsiders (to spread their vile contagion!). That's why they're confined to 

their ghettoes in any self-respecting seaport.  Now of course in parts of 
sophisticated Ralios, this part of the Law is a dead letter: think of the 
Medici bankers.  And there are semantic ways around it (I was amused to 
learn how "Islamic Banking" works: they pay profit-shares instead of 
interest to depositors).  But as Mike says, this just makes things more 

Paul's suggestion that interest is seen as making numbers 'unstable' is a 
good one.  Yes, different sects will have different views on this as on 
other things.

If anyone out there has thought seriously about Malkion seen as a Prophet 
(as opposed to the God stuff we usually find in Greg's and Charlie's 
notes), could they E-mail me to get in touch and discuss ideas.  But this 
really isn't something I want to rabbit on about in the Daily.
Carl Fink:

Thanks for the feedback.  I think we can agree to differ: you have 
obviously been taught by the Yanafal Cult, and can't be blamed for 
swallowing their version hook, line and sinker.  You will note that I said 
Yanafal had "incurred the wrath of Swordbreaker," not that he had his own 
sword broken.  Humakt takes it out on his cultists.

Where in GoG does it mention the Humakti spirit of retribution?  I think 
you mean Cults of Prax, or the Tales 5 reprint.  Well, it may surprise you 
to hear this, but the cult of Humakt was written a long time ago, and 
without great attention to cultural detail.  If you want to interpret the 
rules literally (cf. your silly "practical joke"), then yes, there's 
nothing wrong with your version.  If you prefer to explore the 
possibilities of Glorantha, tag along: some of us are going to new and 
exciting places...

In General Livius Thrax's monograph on the Red Army, he says that scimitars 
are better than straight blades because they break less easily.  Well, he 
would say that, wouldn't he?  He's hardly going to admit that the Lunar 
Wargod is cursed by the premier God of Death!  This kind of face-saving 
explanation will be common in Lunar lands.
Brandon Brylawski:

YES!!  Thank you *very* much for your encouraging response.  That is 
*exactly* the cluster of attitudes I was alluding to when I mentioned 
Humakt's "straight-sided, two-edged Death".  The one thing you didn't bring 
up was the two edges.  Humakti morality has a certain "do as you would be 
done by" fatalism about it.  The wielder of Death accepts that he, too, 
will die some day.  Not so for Yanafal!

Having a Humakti initiation test that requires you to march in a straight 
line, even without the blindfold, is a hilarious and sensible idea: I'll 
adopt it myself.  Note that in one Dara Happan aetiological myth, the 
"Yumatam" (Orlanthi) are said to be unable to travel in straight lines ever 
since their first assault was turned aside by a Solar hero.  More proof 
that Humakt is a foreign (and, in my view, Western) deity!  Marching in 
formation is NOT the Orlanthi way of fighting, and it doesn't come 
naturally to them.
Paul Reilly:

Double entry bookkeeping seems reasonable enough for the Lunar Empire: 
there are far worse things they could be up to.  Critics who think it makes 
fraud impossible should read the financial pages.  It's not the "love of 
duplicate records", but the inherent need for everything to balance, that 
makes it an obviously Lunar technique.  That inspiration praised, something 
else you mentioned really sticks in my craw:

The Carmanians are one of the most anti-God Learner nations you'll find.  
Remember why Syranthir left Loskalm in the first place?  Wondered why they 
are dedicated to the Runes of Law and Truth?  The founding Carmanians were 
a mercenary army, fanatically opposed to the innovations of the God 
Learners: I doubt they had been greatly influenced by them.  The 
"engineering" of deities you mention (worshipping them in both Light and 
Dark aspects, I presume) is an outgrowth from their Arkati / Talori roots, 
put into sharper focus by early contacts with empires of Light and Shadow 
in Peloria.  They could accept and utilise both, as they knew the two were 
both the creations of the One God, giving them a diversity available to 
none of their opponents.  They love Truth, and abhor the Lie.

That said, I don't see your Carmanian mercantile innovations as a problem.  
In fact, they're a damn' good idea. It's just pinning the roots of this 
cultural novelty on the God Learners I object to.

Modern Carmania is an offshoot of the Loskalm of 900 YEARS AGO (add italics 
or bold type to suit)!  Modern Loskalm has been hothoused by the 100-odd 
years of the Syndics Ban; I would guess that if they're late-15th-century 
now, they were only 13th-century or so before the Ban.  And less developed 
than that in the early Second Age, of course.  (See Pendragon for a similar 
"accelerated timeline").

My two favorite parallels for modern Loskalm would be Carolingian France at 
the death of Charlemagne, or Visigothic Spain on the eve of its collapse.  
Not for the technology, but for their proudly isolationist / supremacist 
attitudes coming into rude collision with the outside world, and with 
internal political realities.  (Has anyone else noticed that the Fronela 
chapter of the Genertela Book was written by a Loskalmi?  Examine his 
attitude to the conflicting claims of Loskalm and Jonatela to Junora, and 
how he views the cities of Syanor.)

Your kind comments on my Yanafal suggestions are most welcome!  Yup, the 
Lunar luminaries do indeed insist on adherence to codes of good practice 
from their underlings.  But the problem, as ever, is "Quis custodiet ipsos 

No, the Yanafali Oathbreaking idea is my own, and not from an "official" 
source.  But I believe it, and I hope you do too.  One of the problems of 
having Cult and State so closely intertwined in the Lunar Empire, with a 
high proportion of cynical Illuminati among the decision-makers.  Of 
course, even if the formal ritual I mention doesn't exist, who'd trust an 
Oath from a potentially-illuminated Lunar?  From my understanding of 
Illumination, I find it plausible that an illuminate would be immune to the 
ill effects of Oathbreaking ... though to save Carl the effort, I will 
point out that the rules in CoT don't explicitly state this.

I have indeed put a lot of thought into the Lunars.  I'd be delighted to 
collaborate in any Lunar cult write-ups, or offer suggestions / commentary 
on the results, if time permits.  But there are several other Gloranthan 
projects on my plate at the moment...
Jeff Okamoto:

Glad you liked it!  You say you're a Trickster, so:

One *joke* idea we kicked around at Tales talks was an explanation of the 
duel between Humakt and Yanafal.  See, Humakt hits first, and kills 
Yanafal.  Duel over, he thinks.  But Yanafal is resurrected before he hits 
the ground, then knocks Humakt down with the return swing.  Now the 
Yanafali say they were fighting to the first fall, the Humakti to first 
blood.  Who knows which is right: they're both Gods of Truth!

Still not as snappy as "Truth is the first casualty of War" for causing 
instant mayhem in Humakti Halls.
Peter Michaels:

This is good stuff: I liked everything you had to say.

NICE explanations of Yinkin's Rune magic!  Your version is still fine after 
Elmal, I'd have thought; not sure the change to Yelmalio's Rune spell is 
needed, especially as he's now connected to the Orlanth Pantheon (and 
therefore to cats).

NICE Lankhor* Mhy subcults!  I like all these arguments and suggestions, 
and imagine I'd allow their use in a game, where appropriate.  Especially 
good is Veratus' spell, possibly more common than you make it among 
Librarian types (who have no use for the Truespeak power of the Orlanthi 
jurors).  Just one niggle: why do you call the hilly Provinces "Lower 
Peloria"?  That's perverse, by any reckoning!

*(I'm from Seapolis)

It'll be a while before I write anything this long again, I hope!  Keep up 
the quality, guys: Wednesday's RuneQuest Daily was gripping and provocative 
stuff.  Not so much frotting around with hole-punches and Grand Designs for 
the next-relaunch-but-one: just good solid Gloranthan speculation.

Be seeing you,

Nick Brooke

Graffiti found in Nochet slums


From: (Bryan J. Maloney)
Subject: Seven Cults for Seven Mothers
Message-ID: <>
Date: 5 May 93 16:10:30 GMT

This is something I was hoping to play close to the belt until I could do a
little research and develop it further.  Anyway, the following is a bit of
verse known in the Empire, but few actually know its meaning:

Seven Mothers has our Goddess,
Seven times seven mothers.

One for the heartland,
One for the horsemen,
One for the outlanders
Oppressed by the storm.

One for the cold ones,
One for the wild ones,
Two without faces,
Waiting to be born.

Seven Mothers has our Goddess,
Seven times seven mothers.

Most Lunars who know the verse consider it to simply be a metaphorical 
verse of some minor significance.  A few are on the right track and try to
(erroneously) assign a particular Mother to each stanza.  The reality of
the matter is that this embodies one of the greater secrets of the Seven
Mothers cult, in a fairly literal and straightforward fashion.

The Seven Mothers are the peripheral cult for the Red Moon.  It was they who
acted as go-betweens and mortal agents in the apotheosis of the Goddess, and
it is they who act as go-betweens and divine agents for the Goddess's Empire
and the world.  The verse very literally states HOW the Seven Mothers do this.

"Seven Mothers has our Goddess/Seven times seven mothers.":  Even most
initiates of the Seven Mothers think this is just some sort of poetic
metaphor.  In actuality, it is a sort of "literal mythic truth".  There are,
theoretically, SEVEN cults of the Seven Mothers.  By this, it is not meant
that each cult should be taken separately, but that there are seven actual
different cults, each of the Seven Mothers.  However, the Goddess does not have
forty-nine Mothers, She has Seven Mothers.  They have seven cults.

"One for the heartland,/One for the horsemen,/One for the outlanders/Oppressed
by the storm.":  This refers to three of the seven cults of the Seven Mothers.
First is the Seven Mothers as they are known in the Lunar heartland.  It is
here that one is probably most likely to actually encounter the closest
semblance to the "original" Seven Mothers.  Next comes the Seven Mothers as
they appear to the Pentans.  These Seven Mothers differ from those known in
the heartland.  Finally, we have the Seven Mothers as they are known to the
Orlanthi inhabitants of Sartar, et cetera.  In this region, they appear as
"copies of the Lightbringers".  However, this does not make them "truly"
copies of the Lightbringers.  

The next lines I made intentionally a little more cryptic.  The "cold ones"
are those folks who live north of the Empire.  The "wild ones" are the chaos
inhabitants of Dorasar [sic].  The last two are "...without faces/Waiting to
be born." mostly because they represent potential areas which are not currently
open to Lunar expansion.  Why include them?  Perhaps for poetic completeness--
"seven times seven" sounds nice, or maybe there is actual significance to
the limit of seven cults for the Seven Mothers.  ("Seven Cults for Seven
Mothers"--isn't that a musical?)

In any case, the Seven Mothers have been traditionally presented as the cult
for the Lunar Borders (I include the heartland within the "border" region, since
most of its inhabitants are probably not 100% enlightened Red Goddess-
worshipping types and still need a cult which is more immediately comprehensible
to the average mind).  Therefore, since any detailed mention of them has
been set within the region of Lightbringer ascendancy, it only makes the
greatest sense for the Seven Mothers to be "copies of the Lightbringers".

What would the Seven Mothers be like in other regions and how did all of this
come to pass?  Those were things I was intending to work out before I wrote
all this down.