Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Northrop Midget

A free trader from Known Space, with deck plans and everything, the Northrop Midget.

See PDF for full details.

Adventure Ideas

  • A Midget crew turn up at a destination and find to their horror that the box they were sure had 40 deep frozen low passengers has got a consignment of aluminium kitchenware in it instead. Now there was another Midget being loaded back at Zephyr starport at the same time, where was it they were heading?
  • There's a new kind of module out, comes with a re-entry shield so you can dump it in the ocean of the delivery destination and let the customer sort it out. The Free Akraton Front, the cheapest band of terrorists going, want you to get some and help them drop sharks off the New Athens tourist beaches.
  • You got one of the AP324 model Midgets? Bad news mate, there's a design flaw in the shielding on the girder, factory should have recalled them, but well, space is big... Nothing too serious as long as you don't spend too long in warp space, but you might find eleven hatches along it instead of ten, a new cargo module kind of crops up from an alternative universe. Whatever you do DON'T LOOK IN IT!
  • Always, always check your cargo boxes, whatever the customer says about needing it sent security sealed. Some bunch of toerags hid a hijack crew in a box, crew never knew until they'd warped.
  • Seen Engineer McCluskey recently? Took a hammock, a big box of spam and a jug of 'whiskey' down to the drive room two years ago, always intercoms bridge to volunteer for orbit duty (damn handy really), but not actually seen a living soul in all that time. What is he doing in there? Why does he keep flushing radio beacons into space out of the engineers head? What the hell did he want with all those plastic cockroaches he had us pick up on New Taiwan?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Heroquests as Point Crawls

In any Glorantha game eventually you are going to eventually get into the strange world of heroquests. These are one of the coolest ideas in Greg Stafford's creation – by entering the world of myth and legend and mucking about with the contents thereof you can gain great power and magic items or even change the 'real' game world.

An example is the Yelmalio Hill of Gold quest. Yelmalio is a sun god who can't use fire powers as during the mythic godtime he was defeated by first Orlanth and then Zorak Zoran. A Yelmalio cultist can do the quest and if he beats Zorak Zoran he regains the fire magic his god lost and which he is otherwise barred from using.

Trouble is heroquests are a but dull in actual play. Players start out knowing the story and they trog from one encounter to the next doing whatever it was their deity did in a pretty linear fashion, with limited options for player agency.

But the otherworld is supposed to be a vast landscape of clashing possibilities, and you can go 'off-piste' and ignore the established traditions and make your own myth for fun and profit. The historical conflict of the Gbaji Wars, the clash of the EWF and Godlearner Empires and the unfolding Hero Wars are fought out on the otherworld as much as on 'mundane' Glorantha, guerilla heroquesters mangling myths to gain allies and weaken enemies. 

You could set them up as dungeons or wildernesses, but that misses the point, these kinds of adventures are supposed to be different, wandering through linked events as much as locations. So I am going to be using Chris Kutalik's pointcrawl idea, detailed on his Hill Cantons blog, mapping the otherworld not in terms of actual terrain, but key locations and the ways you get between them, more like an abstract railway or metro map, and of course taking whatever liberties with time and space and simultaneity you like along the way.

Here is a heroquest I wrote for my ongoing Griffin Mountain Runequest game, though when we played it the PCs wimped out at stage 1. I'm keeping the terminology of MRQII's section on heroquests from the Cults of Glorantha book, but only as guidelines and certainly trying to make it more fun than a series of skill rolls.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Saint Anne

If you haven't read 'The Fifth Head of Cerebus' by Gene Wolfe, do so, it's a great book. One of the worlds featured in it is Saint Anne which I am shamelessly stealing and mangling into my Known Worlds Traveller setting.

Saint Anne

Aquila 474 C 768 787 5 Agricultural, Garden, Rich, Low Technology

Saint Anne is a very earth-like world, with a thriving ecosystem of land and sea vertebrates and has attracted a population of 60 million colonists in eight separate colonies. One unusual feature is the fact that is was not discovered until 120 years ago, long after the rest of the worlds in its vicinity were located and mapped.

The world has one land mass, quite mountainous with deserts on one side and a large area of forests and marshland on the other cut by a number of huge rivers.

The first colonists were French 'primitivists', devout Catholics who believed that technology had ruined human spiritual development and who created a quiet rural society. They were followed by Americans, Chinese, Indians, Romanians, Nigerians, Arabs, Brazilians and a colony from the independent Mercian state on Alpha Centauri.

The French claimed that when they landed they were met and attacked by stone age humans, perhaps the survivors of a previous colonising attempt that had foundered, and that these 'Annese' lived on the fringes of their colony for decades before disappearing. No other colonists came across them, though rumours persist of finds of stone tools and occasional sightings. Who these people were, and if they existed at all, remains a mystery.

The second group of colonist were American, who unfortunately crash landed and lost most of their supplies. The French assisted them in their early years and soon colonists were flooding in from across the US. Despite the lack of easily accessible minerals the Americans adopted a rapid industrial policy at odds with the French conservationism and in a war 20 years ago most of the French territory was invaded, and act of quite staggering ingratitude in the opinion of the French. The French resistance has taken an unusual form – the rebels claim that they are at least partly of 'Annese' native descent and no Earthman has a right to their world. Out in the forests bands of rugged survivalists make life hard for settlers of all nationalities, but American logging companies bear the brunt of their ire. Constant guerilla warfare has become the norm all along the inland borders.

The total failure of the Brazilian colony is also a mystery. Latecomers to Saint Anne they picked an isolated spot in the steamy jungles of the far south of the continent and had an initial settlement underway in a couple of years. Then all radio contact stopped. When a boat from the Chinese colony sought to find them a few years later they found the place abandoned, pre-fab buildings collapsing and abandoned vehicles rusting away and overgrown with jungle plants.

The most standoffish colony are the Romanians. They settled in the cooler far north, but since they were a splinter far right organisation who wanted to get away from the EU and its policy of equal rights for gypsies and Hungarians, they found it easy to transfer that mistrust to the other nationalities they shared Saint Anne with. They may have had some internal disagreements – refugees turned up in the Indian state of Coromandel a few years back after a gruelling three month trek through the forests, but they were uncommunicative about what was going on.

Tensions between all the colonies are rising as populations expand and as the booming economy based on forest products and biofuel farming creates winners and losers. Chinese attempts to create a local Planetary Court have been scoffed at by all the other colonies, pointing out their repression of their own local rebels – Revisionist Maoists who tried to set up self sufficient collective farms – has been brutal.

Local technology remains stubbornly low. The fact that you can make a decent living out of the rich soil with only the most basic of equipment has meant there has been little local impetus to improve. The main space port is a class C operation at Chengdu city, though the US port at Hambleton is also rated at class C and is nearly as big.

Large amounts of the inhabited land across the whole world is a collection of small to medium sized farms with a distinctly neo-medieval air. Wealth on this planet comes primarily from land ownership, and the importance of taking and holding it has led to all kinds of dubious goings on and rural militias, armed smallholders unions and the use of armed guards by the bigger enterprises to defend against the 'Annese' have created a tense atmosphere.

The towns and cities are almost all fishing ports and ships are the main form of transport between colonies and up river to their hinterlands. The Indians have some railways, allegedly built by chain gangs of criminals and rebels sent from hot spots back home, and have revived the ancient technology of diesel locomotives, while the Chinese have taken to using airships. The Americans import expensive grav planes, but their limited capacity makes steam powered riverboats the best way of getting farm goods to market in their territory.

Adventure Hooks

  • Stone tools have turned up on the antiquities market on Earth that allegedly come from Saint Anne. A rich eccentric, Ulrich Von Daniken, has decided that they are evidence that there was a spacefaring Atlantean civilisation and that the mysterious Annese were their last survivors. Time to pay the place a visit, with archaeologists, biologists and armed guards in tow. Oddly one of the tools seems to have been crafted from shards of an old coke bottle.
  • A mass grave has been discovered on the border of American and Chinese territory, dug up by Ghoul Bears, a local scavenger species, and found by big game hunters from offworld. The FBI have sent a forensic team to investigate. Who lies in it? The politicos at Hambleton are hoping its Chinese Maoists, an excuse to start a war, but the locals are acting unfriendly – did they find a lost tribe of Annese (real or faux Annese French rebels). Did some local land dispute get ugly? Did they off a bunch of Chinese settlers? Or are they something else again?
  • Yellow Fever has come to Saint Anne. Long controlled back home on Earth the bug is tearing through one of the coastal cities. How did it get here? Biowarfare? People are getting panicky and there is anarchy on the streets.
  • Lovely climate in Saint Anne, sub tropical, well drained mountain soil, just right for growing coffee – and a quite a few other stronger narcotics. Someone has taken to growing cocaine up in the hills, PCs are contracted by one of the governments to take them out, or to smuggle the stuff off world.
  • Starbucks want a coffee plantation, but the most suitable land is currently occupied by a motley collection of French peasants. Persuade them to sell up.
  • A new narcotic is on the market, a local plant that causes strange hallucinations, visions of what might be the past. Now the low-lifes of Hambleton's slums are taking to calling themselves 'Annese', and walking around naked bar ritual scarifications and carrying stone hand axes. Are they tripping their nuts off? People are being found floating in the harbour torn to shreds by being beaten with whips strung with sea shells, just as old accounts say happened to the first French landing party – this shit is getting real.
  • The Arabs are in a serious tizz. One of their factory ships has been lost with all hands deep in the vast but placid Annese oceans. What happened to it? One tale of the old Annese said they were amazing swimmers – has everyone been looking in the wrong place for them? Are they aquatic? Or is there something else living in those deep blue seas?
  • Nothing has been heard from the Romanian colony for months. Have they gone the same way as the Brazilians? Their main settlement was quite a ways inland, up the Kirsco River. Their president's name was Vlad Caecescu. Time for a boat trip into the Heart of Darkness...

Saturday, 11 May 2013


Another updated cult, the ever popular Humakt, god of sword wielding hardcases. First appeared in Cults of Prax, Chaosium's first cult publication and updated for every edition since. I will be sort of basing this on Issaries publications' Storm Tribe, with some innovations for my own campaign. As previously, Legend stats/skills are in RED, RQ6 in BLUE.

Who is Humakt?

Way back in the god's age Humakt was one of Orlanth's brothers. He discovered a new power in a secret place, and showed it to another god, who then lay on the floor and didn't move. Humakt was used to fighting (in fact he was damned good at it and had beaten all his brothers) and being knocked down and put out of action for a while, but up until that point everyone had eventually got up and walked away. This was new, this was Death, it was permanent and it sent people to hell. Humakt resolved to take great care about how he used it. 

However Orlanth had a terrible rivalry with the Emperor Sun and Eurmal stole Death for him to use. Humakt was toweringly unamused, as was the rest of the universe when Orlanth killed the Sun and it was deprived of light and the Lesser Darkness began. According to the Humakti version of the old tales their god actually killed Orlanth to send him to hell to fetch the sun back, but conventional Orlanthi scoff at this.

Who worships him?

Humakt is a very widely worshipped deity, with followers among the barbarians of Ralios, Maniria and Fronela and even in Carmania in the western reaches of the Lunar Empire. Humakti make good gladiators, and a few can be found fighting in arenas all over the Lunar Heartlands.

These worshippers are professional warriors, frequently misfits who choose to cut all ties with their tribe and family, sometimes ordinary soldiers who have gone a bit loopy with battle fatigue, sometimes outright sociopaths, and more than a few who find a glamorous attraction in being the ultimate badass. They hire out as mercenaries and bodyguards, trying to stay above mere politics (though a few have become kings), and striving to act within the tenets of honour laid down by the cult. This honour code is not much like western chivalry, it has more in common with Japanese Bushido than anything else. If Clint Eastwood's 'Man With No Name' or Dirty Harry' characters lived in Glorantha, they would be members.

Though most of his worshippers are human, Humakt's temples are willing to take anyone who can keep the code. He is popular among Dragon Pass Ducks (as Hueymakt the Death-Drake) as he is an implacable foe of the undead and they live right by a zombie infested swamp, and a few exceptionally even tempered Trolls are members, though most Troll warriors go for one of their own bloody-minded and savage beserker gods instead and regard Humakt as being a bit of a wuss.

At the moment the cult of Humakt is undergoing a bit of an expansion in Sartar. Many warriors who would have otherwise followed Orlanth are joining up. Though the cult as a whole is supposed to be neutral many individual members are acquainting themselves with death before a final showdown with the Lunars.

Lay Member

Every tribal soldier is a lay member just before a battle, praying fervently to any number of gods to see him through alive and to Humakt that if he must die, he at least dies fighting and goes quickly, stoically and unequivocally without being a coward about it. Other than that he might get a prayer when undead are about – a blessed death rune drives away vampires so they say – and when an exceptionally dire oath is being sworn a Humakt acolyte or priest might be called in to witness it or even get the participants to swear on their swords, which will make dire curses fall on their heads if they break it.

Otherwise Humakt is avoided. His more dedicated followers are eccentric and aloof and liable to kill you over odd points of 'honour', and there is more than one tale of Humakti going bonkers and massacring civilians. Having a 'Death House', as they call their temples, in your town or village is a mixed blessing – lots of skilled swordsmen to fight off enemies to be sure, but they are creepy buggers to have walking the streets. People only go over the threshold of the temple if they really mean to join up.


If you want in the first thing you have to do is have a sponsor who is already a member, then you have to have a sword fight to test your mettle. The temple priest may have all the potential prospects fight it out among themselves, or he may sic a bunch of initiates on you, or he may batter you senseless himself. If you don't have at least 50% in at least one combat style involving one or two handed swords you don't stand any chance, and he will be looking for competence in five skills out of the following list:

Legend: One handed sword and shield, two handed sword, Resilience, Brawn, Athletics, Evade, Insight, Lore (Tactics)
RQ6: Any combat style involving swords, a second combat style, Endurance, Brawn, Athletics, Evade, Insight, Lore (Tactics)

If you don't know Bladesharp already they will definitely teach it to you, and half price training is available in:

Legend: Sword, 2H Sword and possibly Shortsword, Rapier, LH Main Gauche or Dagger depending on temple, Theology (Humakt), Pact Humakt, First Aid
RQ6: Hu Swordsman style (Intimidating Glare, 1h Sword, Med Shield, Sm. Shield, 2h Sword, Dagger) and possibly Rhigos Duelist (Swashbuckling, Rapier, Main Gauche, Thrown Dagger) and/or Shock Infantry (Formation, Siege Warfare, 1h Sword, Med Shield, 2h Sword, Dagger), Devotion (Humakt), Exhort (Humakt), First Aid

Depending on the temple initiates may also be able to learn Craft (Bronzesmithing) and Ride as well.

Initiates must forswear any other god, losing any divine magic, but they are protected from divine retribution by the Severing ritual that takes away any earthly ties on their allegiance as well.

Initiates are required to answer any call to arms by superiors in the Temple mercenary company, but are entitled to a share in any pay and loot. Humakti regiments in Sartar at least specialise in breaking up the ever popular shield wall, charging in with double handed swords and 'hand-a-half' long swords to hack chunks out of the shields and open holes in the formation to be followed up by tribal cavalry.

The first point of power devoted to Pact or Devotional Pool is spent on choosing one of Humakt's gifts, which always comes with one or more geases, and no more than ¼ POW may be dedicated.


Increase any sword related combat style by 10%
Never use a non-sword weapon

Increase Combat Actions by 1
Never refuse a challenge to one on one combat

Increase Strike Rank by 1d3
Never trust (d6 roll) 1- Dwarves, 2-Elves, 3- Trolls, 4 – Dragonewts, 5 – Solar Worshippers, 6 – any non-Humakti

Increase a cult skill by 10%
Remain silent one day per week

Increase STR, CON or DEX by 1 point
One random geas

Increase SIZ or INT by 1 point
Never sleep in a building that is not sacred to Humakt +2 random

Gain a Sense Assassin ability at POW+CHA or increase it by 10%
Never participate in an ambush or attack from hiding +1 random

Increase Resilience or Endurance vs Disease and poison by 25%
Never use poison +1 random

Gain a Sense Undead ability at POW+CHA or increase it by 10%
Always bless a fallen friend or foe

One specific sword is blessed to have +2 armour points and +5 hit points
Never accept magical healing from a non-Humakti

One specific item of armour or shield gains +2 armour points in one location, or +1 AP in two locations (for a set of greaves, a hauberk etc.)
Two random geases

When in battle can modify battle table results by +/-1-2 at will
Never retreat from a pitched battle and never surrender

Gain +25% to Insight when trying to detect a lie
Never lie

Random Geases: Roll on Mongoose Cults of Glorantha table p 223. If the random geas duplicates a mandatory one then no further geas is taken.

Initiates may never be resurrected. Their souls go to guard the Paths of the Dead, keeping the dead in hell or whatever afterlife their god has chosen for them and guiding those souls in danger of getting lost from harm by Shamen and Demons. They may never be reanimated as undead.

Senior initiates may become a Ten-Thane (or Decurion or Sergeant, titles vary from region to region) with up to nine others under his command. In practice it is rare for a Temple battalion to get anywhere near the thousand men prescribed by the hero Efrodar Blackhands, the warleader who created the first all-Humakti regiments in the Gbaji Wars.

He must devote at least 10% of his income to the cult in offerings (black chickens, rams and cattle for sacrifice is fine, but a bit of silver doesn't go amiss either).

The initiate's sword becomes, in the eyes of the cult, an embodiment of his soul. Humakti always keep their swords immaculately polished and lavish their wealth on ornamental hilts, fancy baldrics and scabbards and are willing to pay serious cash for a well made blade. Having such a fancy sword will add +1-3 CHA when dealing with fellow Humakti, and may impress a few other folk as well.

Divine Magic:
Legend: Bless Corpse, Truesword, Fear, Shield, Gleam, Detect Truth
RQ6: Lay to Rest, Truesword, Fear, Shield, Steadfast, Detect Truth


Humakti who have been Initiates for at least three years may be promoted to acolyte. They get first dibs on Hundred Thane (or Centurion, Captain, whatever) positions, with up to a hundred men at their command in battle. These places tend to go to those with decent Lore (Tactics) or Oratory skill who have been in a pitched battle or two.

They must devote at least 3 POW to the god, and no more than ½ their total POW and may gain another of Humakt's gifts if they so choose. They must give 50% of their wealth to the temple, but do get a cut and to negotiate terms when hiring out men of their hundred as mercenaries.

They must have 70% in a sword related combat skill and three of the following skills:

Legend: A second sword combat skill, Theology (Humakt), Pact (Humakt), First Aid, Craft (Bronzesmith), Sense Assassin, Sense Undead, Lore (Tactics), Resilience, Brawn, Insight
RQ6: A second sword related combat style, Devotion (Humakt), Exhort (Humakt), First Aid, Craft (Bronzesmith), Sense Assassin, Sense Undead, Lore (Tactics), Endurance, Brawn, Insight

Divine Magic:
Legend: Amplify, Heal Wound, Turn Undead, Oath
RQ6: Heal Wound, Turn Undead, Oath

Acolytes may also learn Craft (Ironsmith), a rare skill in bronze age Glorantha.


Humakti priests are not usually particularly priestly, they are hard bitten warleaders and fanatical warriors who can allegedly strike a man dead with a glance, and even if they can't always pull that one off they still put the heebie jeebies into anyone daft enough to cross them. They scare the hell out of their own men as much as inspire them, and news that a tribal king has engaged a Sword Priest to help in his wars is enough to cause weaker willed enemies to throw in the towel there and then.

They must devote themselves full time to the cult, though the odd priest does decide to take himself off on a quest, or is told to go by the head of a temple. There is only one Warlord (or Comes, General, Swordmaster etc) per Temple, and every other priest must be happy as a Hundred-Thane or ship out. No Humakti would never stoop so low as to off their Warlord to take his place – in any case the boss would spot it coming a mile off and have the ambitious underling's head off his shoulders in under a second, if he doesn't do a Darth Vader and kill him with a nasty glare – but they may freely leave and found their own warband.

Priests need only have 50% Theology (Humakt) or Devotion (Humakt); piety takes second place to being a warrior, but must also have at least 50% Lore (Tactics) and 90% in a sword related combat skill.

They must have 90% in two other skills from the list:

Legend: A second sword combat skill, Theology (Humakt), Pact (Humakt), First Aid, Craft (Bronzesmith), Sense Assassin, Sense Undead, Lore (Tactics), Ride, Oratory, Insight
RQ6: A second sword related combat style, Devotion (Humakt), Exhort (Humakt), First Aid, Craft (Bronzesmith), Sense Assassin, Sense Undead, Lore (Tactics), Ride, Oratory, Insight

Priests may, if they wish, take a third gift from Humakt and the attendant geases, and devote up to 3/4 or their POW to the god.

Divine Magic:
Legend: Break Weapon, Excommunicate, Consecrate, Enchant Iron Sword
RQ6: Break Weapon, Excommunicate, Consecrate, Enchant Iron Sword

A priest who gets to 120% Pact (Humakt) or Exhort (Humakt) may learn Sever Spirit, the awesome ability to kill with a glance.

High Priest

There is no high priest of Humakt, no one man who can command the loyalty of all the worshippers of the god. In the past there have been warleaders who have commanded thousands - Efrodar Blackhands is the most famous – and once the Hero Wars get going there will almost certainly be leaders who will try and unite the various Humakti warbands into a formidable Army of Death.

The Curse of the Swordbreaker

Anyone who breaks the Humakti Code is cursed by Humakt himself so that any sword they pick up is hit with 1d6 damage per 10% of their original Pact (Humakt) or Exhort (Humakt) skill, all their gifts are removed and all their divine magic taken away, while their geases remain. A lapsed Humakti who breaks a geas gets hit with a Disruption spell to remind him to make amends.

Cult special spells

Bless Corpse
Duration Instant, Rank Initiate
A body blessed with this spell will hopefully not return as an undead (opposed roll of Raise Zombie vs Pact/Exhort of caster should an attempt be made), and his soul will be sent to the appropriate afterlife without any evil shaman abducting it (again opposed rolls for any shaman trying to contact/bind otherwise mess with the spirit of the dead). Several cults have some version of this spell, but Humakti can also use it on active zombies and skeletons, doing 1d4 damage to 1 hit location per 10% Exhort/Pact skill. The caster must have a blessed Death rune or a a sword in his hand.

Detect Truth
Duration Minutes, Range (Meters), Rank Initiate
Adds Exhort/Pact skill to Insight when detecting verbal untruths within range. Cannot be resisted but countermagic will reduce the effectiveness of the spell by 10% per point.

Turn Undead
Duration Minutes, Range Meters, Rank Acolyte
Ghosts, Zombies and the like cannot approach within a range of one meter per point of magnitude of the spell, though ranged and magical attacks can still be made. Any undead that succeeds in a Persistence vs Pact/Exhort roll may penetrate the barrier, but takes 1 hp per location per round while within it, and/or loses 1 POW per round (no big deal for skeletons and zombies, but bad for ghosts, wraiths and vampires). The caster may back an undead into a corner and force it to come within range of the effect. The caster must again have a blessed Death rune or sword.

Duration Special, Range Touch, Rank Acolyte
Creates a binding oath between two willing participants. The severity of the oath is decided at the swearing, with a maximum magnitude of the casters Pact/Exhort skill, as are the terms of the curse which will fall on an oathbreaker. Breaking this oath requires a roll of Persistence vs the magnitude to resist the curse. The usual penalty is 1HP damage per 10% magnitude to all hit locations, or loss of 1 stat point per 5% magnitude, though curses may affect skills or have other effects as well.

Break Weapon
Duration Instant, Range Touch, Rank Priest
The caster can use this spell to make one special Damage Weapon combat manouver especially effective, doing normal damage with his sword plus 1d3 per magnitude of the spell. If the sword breaks the target must save vs Persistence or Willpower or be demoralised into the bargain.

Enchant Iron Sword
Duration Permanent, Range Touch, Rank Priest
A lengthy ritual which permanently reduces the casters magic points by whatever cost it takes to cast both this spell and the divine or common magic spell to be imbued into the blade. The results can be quite powerful - a permanently Bladesharped sword is not to be sniffed at, nor is a permanent Truesword, or a sword with a permanent Shield or Protection spell round its user. However the spell does have one drawback – a random geas is rolled associated with the enchantment and if the owner does not follow it then the sword ceases to function.

Heroquests to learn further enchantments are known. One famous one is the Soul Severing enchantment – the wielder of the sword may slay one enemy irrevocably and permanently beyond all hope of resurrection, at the cost of suffering the same fate himself.

As per the standard spell, but Humakti may enchant swords to become mobile shrines to their god. The weapon must be iron and preferably enchanted, the magic point used to create it is permanently lost, and the Theology bonus is 1d3% per point of magnitude.


There are several hero cults openly honoured, Efrodar Blackhands who mastered tactics, Indrodar Greydog and Li Phanquann who fought undead, Inginew Redson who crafted magic swords, Makla Mann the loyal bodyguard and so on. And there is one special sub-cult, Arkat Humaktsson, about whom more will be revealed later...

Thursday, 2 May 2013


As the PCs in my Griffin Mountain game are wandering around Dragon Pass, and my new River of Cradles game includes a lot of Sartarite NPCs its about time I wrote up the cult of Orlanth for RQ6 and Legend. The Legend skills spells etc. will be in RED, the RQ6 in BLUE.

The first version of Orlanth appeared way back in the days of Chaosium RQ1, this version is more or less based on the writeup from HeroQuest found in 'Sartar, Kingdom of Heroes', with bits of 'Thunder Rebels' thrown in, and the odd spell from the MRQII Cults book.

Who is Orlanth?

He is the King of the Storm Gods, the mightiest warrior deity, the father of men and bringer of freedom. He conquered all that was worth conquering back in the Gods Age, hundreds of tales are told about his deeds, including how he killed the Emperor Sun and nearly destroyed the world. His greatest quest was to admit his mistake and bring the sun back from hell.

He has 49 names, each embodying an aspect of this mighty god. Some aspects are Orlanth under a different name, some are brothers or close kin of his and yet others are heroes who worshipped him. An individual may worship different aspects of Orlanth at different times of his life, he may worship several, or he may stick with one. And it is usually a he, Orlanth is the embodiment of men's virtues and roles in Heortling society. Women usually worship Ernalda, though as always with these freedom loving people there always plenty of exceptions.

Lay Member

Anyone may be lay member, all they need to do is turn up to a ceremony and make a small donation to the person in charge. The only possible difficulty may come with finding a ceremony and getting permission to attend. Orlanth worship is currently being suppressed in Sartar and worship often takes place in secret or on far off hilltops, and interlopers who worship Lunar and Solar deities (apart from Elmal) are quite definitely not welcome. Some ceremonies associated with a sub-cult or hero cult (see below) are still allowed by the authorities.


Initiates are expected to pay a regular tithe to their priest, the amount varying depending on the priest and their circumstances. In Sartar many people pay a tribute to their clan chief and he passes a potion of this onto the cult on the clan's behalf.

Requires 50% in five cult skills, these being:
Legend – Athletics, Sword and Shield or Spear and Shield, Craft (any), Theology (Orlanth), Evade, Resilience, Influence
RQ6 – Athletics, Fyrdman Combat or Thegn Combat, Craft (any), Devotion (Orlanth), Endurance, Evade, Influence

The cult favours the following Common/Folk Magics
Legend – Bladesharp, Endurance, Mobility, Push/Pull
RQ6 – Bladesharp, Vigour, Mobility, Shove

Skills and spells can be learned from higher level cult members for a donation.
Initiates may also devote up to ¼ of their POW to the god, devoting at least one, and can gain the following Divine spells
Legend – Amplify, Blessing, Channel Strength, Dismiss Elemental, Shield
RQ6 – Dismiss Sylph, Perseverance, Shield, Steadfast


Requires at least 50% in Pact (Orlanth) or Exhort (Orlanth), 50% in Influence, and 70% in three other cult skills.
Acolytes can devote up to 1/2 of their POW to the cult and must devote a minimum of three.
Acolytes are expected to lead the defence of their god and his people, and donate as much as a third of their income to their priests and temple funds. They aspire to be the embodiment of Orlanth, just, bold, boastful and in command of every situation. They usually learn Oratory to help give their arguments force.

They can learn the following Folk/Common magics
Legend – Thunderer's Voice
RQ 6 – Shock, Glamour, Voice

Divine Magic -
Legend – Call Winds, Summon Sylph, Telekinesis, Consecrate
RQ 6 – Summon Sylph, Call Winds, Consecrate, Telekinesis

Priest (Wind Voice)

Wind Voices are greatly respected and powerful members of Sartarite society, and though custom dictates that clan chiefs and tribal kings have precedence, they are sometimes over-awed by Wind Voices. Many Wind Voices are wanderers by nature, and many have to keep on the move given the Lunar suppression of their religion, travelling in carts full of religious paraphernalia and with an bodyguard of acolytes.

To become a priest one must have 90% Pact (Orlanth) or Exhort (Orlanth), 90% Theology (Orlanth) or Devotion (Orlanth), 90% in one other cult skill and 50% Oratory. He must know the divine magic Consecrate.

They spend all their time and money on promoting Orlanth and furthering his worship despite the oppression, and though there is still some money coming in, they can't expect the riches they used to get before Lunar taxes sapped the wealth of the land.

Divine Magic
Legend – Excommunicate, Extension, Soul Sight, Bless Woad
RQ6 – Excommunicate, Extension, Soul Sight, Bless Woad

Aspects and subcults

How subcults work under RQ/Legend rules

There are a basic set of cult skills that are common to all Orlanth cults as detailed above, and a couple of skills that are associated with each subcult. A Follower who just wants to be an initiate of Orlanth is his most general form follows the requirements above. A Follower who wishes to become an initiate of one of the aspects of Orlanth substitutes the two cult skills for ONE of the general cult skills above. For example, Oroling wants to be an initiate of Desemborth – he needs 50% in FOUR of the cult skills noted for initiates above, not five, and MUST have 50%+ in the Desemborth skills of Stealth and Deception as well.

When a person joins a subcult as an initiate they gain a Theology (subcult) or Devotion (subcult) skill in the subcult equal to half their equivalent Orlanth skill, and this skill is used for any Divine magic they gain from the subcult, and to determine their subcult rank as they progress.

A person may join as many subcults as he likes, but can only be an acolyte or priest of one. Each subcult will expect its own donations/sacrifices though, and joining too many may impoverish the person. A priest can theoretically lead worship of any aspect of the god, even one he himself has never followed. Any skills used as part of this worship are reduced however, a Priest of Barntar the Plowman isn't going to get much of a hearing from Orlanth Thunderous.

The list below is by no means exhaustive. Some subcults are long defunct, some are now considered outright heretical by modern Wind Voices, like Orlanth the Dragon, popular in the Wyrm's Friends days, and some are only recognised by a single tribe or clan.

Desemborth the Thief

Orlanth stole many items from other deities back in the God-time, going under the pseudonym Desemborth and hanging around with that unpredictable reprobate Eurmal the Trickster. The Sartarites have the quaint belief that taking other people's stuff doesn't count as theft if the victim is not of your clan. Though their Kings and High Kings like to rule that everyone in their tribe or country is part of the 'family of the kingdom', there are still people who take liberties, and clan chiefs who let them get away with it. No-one advertises their membership of this cult too loudly though. It is most common in the cities and is especially popular in New Pavis, the City of Thieves.

Skills: Stealth, Deceit

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend – Bandit's Cloak, Luck
RQ6 – Coordination, Bypass, Incognito

Divine magic
Legend – Initiate: Dark Walk
RQ6 – Initiate: Dark Walk

Acolytes may heroquest for the Sandals of Darkness, the item Desemborth stole from Kyger Litor which enabled him to pull off even more daring heists.

Dar the Chieftain/Orlanth Rex

Only those who are elected chief by their tribe may become members of the cult of Dar the Chieftain, and only those whom the chiefs decide is to be king of the whole tribe can join Orlanth Rex. In Sartar there is yet another level, the cult of the hero Sartar himself, who instituted the rites of High Kingship which unified the kingdom.

Skills: Oratory, Insight. In addition chiefs must have Culture/Customs 75%+, Kings 90%+

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend: Thunder's Voice, Glamour
RQ6 – Glamour, Voice

Divine Magic:
Legend: Initiate: Outlaw, Summon Moot
RQ6: Initiate: Outlaw, Summon Moot

Destor the Adventurer

A son of Orlanth, or according to some legends another pseudonym of Orlanth, Destor was an explorer and gadabout, afflicted with wanderlust and a tendency to get himself into trouble wherever he went. He was especially adept at sword fighting, making daring escapes from the most difficult situations and bragging about it afterwards. Popular amongst young Orlanthi everywhere, especially in Pavis where reckless worshippers plunge into the ruins and sometimes even come out alive.

Legend: Perception, Evade
RQ6: Perception, Wild Wind Combat style (Swashbuckling, Dagger, Shortsword, Longsword, Broadsword, Buckler, Med. Shield)

Common /Folk Magic:
Legend: Coordination, Mobility, Luck
RQ6: Coordination, Fanaticism

Divine Magic
Legend – Initiate: Telekinesis, Acolyte: Wind Words
RQ6 – Initiate: Telekinesis, Acolyte: Wind Words

Mastakos the Charioteer

A companion of Orlanth, who drove the god's chariot in any number of battles and close escapes. Chariots are not much used in Sartarite warfare these days outside Ralios, cavalry are far superior for hit and run attacks and the ever popular cattle raid, but many Kings, Chiefs and Priests keep one for ceremonial parades and there are shrines with sacred chariots in many hill forts, and sometimes a Mastakos cultist to drive it.

Legend: Drive, Javelin
RQ6: Drive, Charioteer Combat Style (Charioteer, Axe, Sword, Javelin, Long Spear, Lance)

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend: Mobility, Speedart
RQ6: Mobility, Speedart

Divine Magic:
Legend: Acolyte: Teleportation, Priest: Guided Teleportation
RQ6: Acolyte: Teleportation, Priest: Guided Teleportation

Ormalaya the Hunter

Ormalaya is a son of Orlanth who helped him explore the world back in the early God's Age. The Orlanthi have two other hunting gods, Yinkin and Odayla, followed by those who make hunting a way of life, Ormalaya is followed by those who hunt for recreation and those who are forced to supplement their farm income with a bit of game to get by.

Legend: Resilience, Survival
RQ6: Endurance, Survival

Common/Folk Magic
Legend: Speedart, Clear Path
RQ6: Speedart, Pathway

Divine Magic
Legend: Initiate: Sureshot
RQ6: Initiate: Sureshot

Hedkoranth the Thunderbolt

Hedkoranth is a brother of Orlanth and embodies the thunderbolt, striking down enemies with a mighty crash of electricity and noise. Hedkoranth slingers are the bane of the Lunar patrols, lurking in the high mountains and blasting their troops in hit and run attacks. Possession of a thunderstone is a capital offence in occupied territories. Their best warriors, those who can wield lightning, do not carry metal weapons and armour, often just fighting with a bit of woad, a sling and a flint knife. They are also on good terms with the Kolating shamen so expect them to have a few air spirits on hand as well.

Legend: Sling, Resilience
RQ6: Hedkoranth Slinger (Skirmishing, Sling, Thrown Rock, Spear, Dagger), Endurance

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend: Speedart, Chill, Detect Enemies
RQ6: Speedart, Chill, Find Enemies

Divine Magic:
Legend: Initiate: Enchant Thunderstone, Acolyte: Crash of Thunder, Lightning Strike
RQ6: Enchant Thunderstone, Acolyte: Thunderclap, Lightning

Vanganth the Flyer

Vanganth is another of Orlanth's many brothers, who rejoiced in the art of flying on the winds. Again the Lunars have learned to fear this followers, nothing is quite as disconcerting as having a squadron of barbarian fanatics swooping over your column chucking javelins and even swords. The Flight spell precludes wearing heavy armour so they often just wear woad by way of protection. Possession of the bent Vanganth throwing sword is also a capital crime in Lunar occupied Sartar.

Legend: Thrown Sword, Acrobatics
RQ6: Vanganth Flyer (Swashbuckler, Sword, Javelin, Thrown Sword), Acrobatics

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend: Speedart, Mobility
RQ6: Speedart, Mobility

Divine Magic:
Legend: Initiate: Flying
RQ6: Initiate: Flying

Vinga the Avenger

Vinga is the daughter of Orlanth and Ernalda, a red haired warrior who seeks to avenge wrongs done to her tribe and family. It is open only to women who are already initiates of the earth goddess Ernalda, and membership may be temporary, the woman only dying her hair red and taking up arms as long as it takes to get revenge on someone who has wronged her or her kin.

Legend: Athletics, Survival
RQ6: Athletics, Survival

Folk/Common Magic:
Legend: Speedart, Mobility, Detect Enemy, Pierce
RQ6: Speedart, Mobility, Find Enemy, Pierce

Divine Magic
Legend: Initiate: True Javelin, Aegis, Heal Wound
RQ6: Initiate: True Javelin, Aegis, Heal Wound

Vingans may go on a Rite of Vengeance heroquest to gain a special bonus against a particular foe, and further heroquests re-enacting Vinga's noted victories may gain bonuses against whole classes of enemy – rapists and slayers of children are particular favourite targets.

Other subcults

There are a whole slew of peaceable and mundane subcults devoted to the ordinary tasks of Orlanthi tribesmen; Barntar the Plowman, Durev the Householder, Orolman the Herder, Orstan the Carpenter etc. Another set cover the more mundane warrior roles: Finovan the Raider, Strakval the Frydsman, Tatouth the Scout. Yet more are devoted to combating a particular foe: Orvanshagor Dragonslayer, Vingkot Champion (hates trolls), Vingkot Victorious (hates sun worshippers). Another set embody Orlanth's roles as ruler and keeper of tradition: Drogasi the Skald, Andrin the Lawspeaker, Jarani the Lawstaff, Vingkot the High King, and yet other aspects are associated with cold, wet and stormy weather.

Who worships Orlanth?

Orlanth is one of the most widely worshipped deities in Glorantha, with followers in Fronela, across Ralios, through Maniria and at one time much of western and southern Peloria.

Across much of his old range in Peloria his worship has faded. In the Lunar Provinces some aspects of Orlanth are now regarded as separate deities and worshippers of such have limited access to his more warlike and stormy magics, and have forgotten the old association of their gods with mighty Orlanth. 

Barntar, Starkval and the one time Orlanthi hero Alakoring Dragonbreaker are popular in Tarsh, a version of Vinga is the major deity of Holay, in Imther and Vanch the old trade and farming aspects are still worshipped, and in Talastar and Aggar a reasonable range of Orlanthi cults linger on, though Orlanth himself is worshipped only by rebels and bandits.

In Sartar the suppression of Orlanth is only just beginning. Orlanth's temples are being demolished, his holy hills and mountains are being desecrated and occupied and his priests are fugitives. As in Tarsh worship of a few of his more peaceable aspects is allowed, as long as Orlanth is not praised or mentioned in the course of the rites, though Vinga, which has vague similarities with some Lunar cults, has been left alone as long as her followers don't cause trouble. The worship of foreign storm gods is being encouraged such as Doburdun, Molanni and Brastalos, though these meek and submissive deities bear no resemblance to the aggressive, forthright and heroic king of the gods Orlanth. They have few worshippers in Sartar, and few of the foreign priests drafted in to proselytise the populace have fared well.