# Unique Aspects of Glorantha

Glorantha has a flavor all its own, and differs greatly from other fantasy settings. These elements go beyond mere flavor and are embedded within its very nature, affecting almost everyone within it. It is a good idea when gamemastering or playing to understand these concepts, or at least be passingly familiar with them.

# Heroes and Heroquesting

Heroquesting is a magical act where mortals directly interact with Gloranthan mythology. The participants endeavor to reenact mythological events to bring some of that magic into the Mundane World. Heroquesting is fraught with peril, as it is unpredictable and often deadly. Failure can bring not only ruin to the participants, but to their communities and cults. Heroquesting allows the individual to simultaneously interact with mythology and with the Mundane World.

A Hero is someone that has walked this dangerous path and has been changed by it. The Hero is endowed with exceptional powers and uses those gifts to battle against enemies that endanger the peace and well-being of the community. And yet, the Hero is not bound by the rules and restrictions of the civilization they defend and is rarely at home in the civilized world. Inevitably, the Hero’s role is to fight in the Hero Wars.

# Kinship

In the violent world of Glorantha, an adventurer without kin is a lonely and isolated person. Adventurers have their immediate family—their parents, siblings, children, and spouse—and a larger kinship group such as a clan. Clan loyalty is basic. If there is ever a dispute between members or families within a clan, the chieftain and council are expected to settle the matter quickly and pragmatically. At the same time, whenever a member becomes embroiled in difficulties with people or things outside the clan, the chieftain is expected to judge the situation properly and then rally or extricate the rest of the clan from the problem.

An adventurer’s kinfolk support them against enemies, pay their ransom them if they are captured, and avenge them when injured. All these functions are important during play, not just considerations for roleplaying. For example, a blood feud is a threat to adventurers that could injure others when carried out by the relatives of their victims. A seemingly hapless herder might be avenged by their more powerful kinfolk.

Clans are united into tribes, which function as petty kingdoms. Tribes resolve disputes between member clans and protect them from outsiders.

Sometimes, tribes are confederated together around a city. Sartar and Tarsh are both confederations of tribes and cities, united by royal dynasties.

# Community

Adventurers often serve their community, whether it is a band of hunters, a clan of farmers and herders, a temple, or a cosmopolitan city-state. Without a community, an adventurer is nothing more than a destructive outlaw. Within a community, adventurers are avatars, personifications of a million dreams, prayers, and curses, the hopes and fears of the future made flesh.

The gamemaster should keep this in mind when planning the background of the game, and the players should remember this in the way they portray their adventurers. Give the adventurers families, complete with siblings, parents, and other kin. Having a few of the adventurers be related by blood or by duty helps reinforce that sense of community. Give them connections to their community and a reason to care about it.

Adventurer backgrounds provide many opportunities for shared relatives and social ties, as well as chances for adventurers to have fought alongside one another in past battles, or even to have been on opposite sides. A side effect of linking the adventurers to a community is responsibility. Players should think twice about having their adventurers act like destructive killing machines when they need to consider the consequences.

# Ideals and Motivations

Heroic adventurers in Glorantha are often driven by powerful emotions and their spiritual and religious impulses. They have strong feelings about their world and are tied into the ongoing and eternal cosmic conflict. In RuneQuest, this is represented by Rune affinities and Passions that give significant bonuses and abilities.

The gamemaster should always ensure that players have a say in the behavior of their adventurers, but players should also accept that high Passions and affinities risk being weakened through contrary behavior. This does not result in an adventurer being forced into a mold, nor is it the intention of the system to take away the player’s ability to make decisions for their adventurer. The system simply makes sure that adventurers act in ways that are consistent with the Runes and Passions that drive them, even when there is a cost. An adventurer without deep Passions or strong Rune affinities is weak and at a disadvantage compared to the passionate adventurers that throw themselves unreservedly into the Hero Wars.

# Advancement

Each adventurer begins with skills appropriate to their background and past profession, but they are not limited to these skills. They can learn skills from trainers, choose to study new fields of interest, and improve the skills they use successfully while adventuring. If an adventurer wants to learn a spell that their cult doesn’t teach, they can try to learn it from another associated cult. If an assistant shaman adventurer wants to learn how to be a better archer, it’s only a matter of finding a qualified teacher and spending the time and money to learn!

# The Passage of Time

Time can pass quickly. In RuneQuest, the assumption is that one season passes each time the adventurers have an adventure. In little more than a month of playing every week, a game year has passed. After a real year, the adventurers may be a decade older. A long campaign may span a generation or more.

Adventurers typically have social obligations beyond adventuring. They are members of cults and clans, with seasonal holy days and other events. They may have farms to manage, families to take care of, warriors to command, or even tribes to lead. A seasonal time scale permits acknowledgement (and even roleplaying) of these other obligations, without getting bogged down in daily details.

# Deadly Combat

One of the most heralded features of RuneQuest is its detailed, deadly combat, where each blow, parry, and dodge are resolved through dice rolls in a moment-by-moment combat cycle.

With a playable attention to how real-world, historic, and even simulated combat is played out, RuneQuest combat is both gritty and heroic at once, just like the epic stories and myths it emulates.

Weapons can impale their targets, and armor is described in terms of how much damage it can absorb per part of the body it covers. Shields and weapons alike can become worn down and even break if they’re damaged too much, and when a blow lands, everyone knows exactly where it hit, and how much damage it caused.

Reach, speed, and weapon length become prime factors in determining who strikes first… and who strikes last.

# Gloranthan Money

Gloranthan coinage is based on silver. While both gold and copper are used as coins, silver is by far the most common monetary metal. The Middle Sea Empire first introduced silver coinage into Glorantha. The basic currency in Dragon Pass and Prax is the Lunar (abbreviated as L), a silver coin. Most coins in circulation were minted by the Lunar Empire and are stamped with the symbols of the Red Goddess. Before the Lunar Conquest, silver coins called guilders were minted by the various city guilds in Sartar and Pavis. All these coins are roughly equivalent in value. A cow is worth about 20 L.

The first coinage of the world was gold, brought to the people by the enigmatic Gold Wheel Dancers. In their honor, gold coins are still called wheels. Gold, however, is scarce and valuable. One golden wheel equals 20 L. Gold is still mainly used as a means of settling debts between rulers rather than by individuals.

The dwarfs invented copper coins, but they were adopted by the god Issaries to facilitate trade between peoples. The copper coin is called a clack (C), or often just a copper. It takes ten clacks to equal one Lunar. The bolg is a troll unit of exchange made of lead, valued ten to a clack. The troll god Argan Argar invented the bolg and it is the sole coinage used by his cult in paying trollkin mercenaries. The lead bolg is unique as a unit of money, for trolls also bite and crush them to use as sling stones as well as handy cash.

# Sex and Marriage

Many Gloranthan religions celebrate sexuality as the cup of life. Ernalda is the goddess of women and of sex, and has many lovers and husbands among the gods, although Orlanth is first among them. Orlanth even has a female incarnation, Vinga, worshiped by women who wield Orlanth’s magic.

Heort’s Laws (an ancient document stating the laws and customs of the Heortling people) recognize four sexes (female, male, neuter, and both) and at least six genders (female, male, vingan, nandan, helering, and none). Unmarried sex between adults is not frowned upon, regardless of the sex or gender of the parties.

Because sexuality is open, the marriage oath is significant. Marriage among many Gloranthans is a bond between participants and their clans, the marriage terms negotiated between the parties and their families. Since marriage is sanctified by divine oath, violating that oath is dangerous.

# Time in Glorantha

Most dating systems in Glorantha begin with the Dawn, when the god Yelm rose into the sky and inaugurated the age of history. Created in the Dawn Age by the people of Dragon Pass, this system is called Solar Time (ST) and is the most common time measurement system in the world. The current year is 1625 ST.

A Gloranthan day is the time needed for the sun to traverse the sky from east to west. A night is the time needed for the sun to traverse the Underworld from west to east. Seven days, measured from one dusk to the next, make up one week. Eight weeks (56 days) make up one Season. Five Seasons plus a 14-day interim called Sacred Time, make up one-year. A Gloranthan year is 294 days long.

The following seasons are based on the weather patterns of Dragon Pass and nearby Peloria, but they ha ve been generally adopted in all the regions of the world.

  • Sea Season: Comparable to spring, this season opens the new year and is a time of planting, new births for beasts, and gentle rains.

  • Fire Season: A hot, dry summer period, this is the time of warming, ripening, and growing. It is also the time of war when men are free from the toils of the soil.

  • Earth Season: Harvest time and when animals are slaughtered to prepare for the oncoming cold.

  • Dark Season: Night and ice demons wander about the land bringing snow and storms upon hapless humans. Trolls are most active during this time, while brown elves sleep.

  • Storm Season: The last season of the year when life and darkness spirits wage battle. Sometimes the darkness spirits win and the ice and cold drag on for weeks. Sometimes the spirits of life win, with springlike weather and new shoots and buds. Usually neither is entirely victorious, and this is a time of violent weather changes.

  • Sacred Time: A period of rebirth during which great ceremonies are held while many nations put away all strife to celebrate the coming spring. Oracles are sought and spells are cast to protect the land. All religious persons participate in re-enactments of their creation myths. The massive release of energy during this season is a major factor in rejuvenating the cosmos. Failure to complete these acts results in Chaos seeping into the world.