Runes are intrinsic to Glorantha, cosmic powers that define the world and are manifested by the gods. Known from earliest prehistory, Runes suffuse everything in and about the world. They are Glorantha’s building blocks, symbols, archetypes, embodiments, and actual matter and energy of the Middle World. Runes originated with the creation of Glorantha; they define the cosmos and everything in it. The earliest gods are associated with Runes, and philosophers hold that the gods themselves may merely be personifications of the Runes.
Whatever their nature, Runes are symbols with latent power. People mark their possessions and even their bodies with Runes. They not only characterize reality but are used to manipulate the world.
Merely looking at or writing a Rune is not enough: these powers can only be unlocked with extensive training and preparation, such as from a cult, priest, or shaman.
# Rune Summary
|o||Darkness||Element||Darkness, Stealth skills, Listen, secrets, cold, hunger, blunt weapons, insects.||Troll gods||—|
|w||Water||Element||Water, Agility skills, Taste, blood, mercurial, nets and whips, fish.||Sea and river gods||—|
|e||Earth||Element||Earth, Communication skills, Search, worldly, pragmatism, sensual, axes, reptiles.||Ernalda, Babeester Gor||—|
|.||Fire/Sky||Element||Fire, sky, sun, Perception skills, Scan, purity, chastity, idealism, spears and bows, birds.||Yelm, Yelmalio||—|
|g||Air||Element||Air, storm, Manipulation skills, Smell, violence, pride, unpredictability, swords, mammals.||Orlanth, Storm Bull||—|
|/||Moon||Element||Moon, spiritual liberation, Magic skills, balance, time, curved weapons.||Seven Mothers||—|
|l||Harmony||Power||Harmony, compromise, generosity, peace, compassion, community.||Ernalda, Issaries, Chalana Arroy||Disorder|
|j||Disorder||Power||Disorder, egocentric, greed, strife, thoughtless, self.||Eurmal||Harmony|
|c||Stasis||Power||Stasis, unchanging, resolute, determination, obstinate, inert.||Lhankor Mhy||Movement|
|s||Movement||Power||Movement, change, impulsive, rebellious, reckless, energetic.||Orlanth, Issaries, Eurmal||Stasis|
|y||Truth||Power||Truth, knowledge, objectivity, the written text.||Lhankor Mhy, Humakt, Yelmalio||Illusion|
|i||Illusion||Power||Illusion, imagination, subjectivity, poetry, art.||Eurmal||Truth|
|x||Fertility||Power||Fertility, life, sex, birth, giving, pleasure.||Ernalda, Chalana Arroy, Seven Mothers||Death|
|t||Death||Power||Death, separation, ascetic, endings, denial, ruthlessness.||Humakt, Babeester Gor, Seven Mothers||Fertility|
|,||Man||Form||Mankind, civilization, settled, sociability, ethics.||Daka Fal||Beast|
|B||Beast||Form||Animalkind, savage, wild, untamed, instinctive.||Storm Bull||Man|
|?||Chaos||Form||Chaos, evil, annihilation, perversion of the other Runes.||Evil gods||—|
# Types of Runes
Three types of Runes are the most important and immediate for adventurers and the gamemaster: Elements, Powers, and Forms. Another type, Conditions, are also significant but fall outside the scope of this wiki.
Each Rune has different associations: elements, behaviors, attitudes, skill categories, weapons, sensations, creatures, and even physical phenomena. Runes are rated like other abilities, with a percentage value indicating how strong an affinity the adventurer has with the Rune. The higher the Rune’s rating, the more strongly its influence should guide the adventurer and their actions.
Each Power Rune is directly opposed to another Rune, as shown on the adventurer sheet, with a line connecting them. The rating in one Rune is balanced against its opposite, with no Rune being rated at more than 99% and the two values always equaling 100%. If one Power Rune’s value increases, its opposite Rune decreases by the same amount.
A Stasis Rune value of 75% means that the Movement Rune value is automatically 25%. If either one changes, the opposing Rune is also adjusted.
Form Runes are unique to sentient beings and are paired into opposites. All humans have the Man and Beast Runes opposite one another, representing the range of civilized to bestial affinity. Other beings, such as elves, are balanced between Man and Plant.
Mastery of Runes, represented in increased ratings, is fundamental to success in adventuring and becoming a Hero.
# Using Runes
Everyone and almost every living thing uses the Runes to some degree in daily life, swearing by them, and tattooing them on their bodies. People look to Runes for guidance, use them for blessings, inscribe them in artwork, build them into architecture, sew clothing, and even craft Rune designs into or onto the food they create. More importantly for game play, the Runes are used for magic, to augment skills with Runic inspiration, and to define personality.
The gamemaster should describe non-player characters by the Runes they feature, using them as a guide to their behavior.
# Rune Magic
Each Rune spell is associated with one or more Runes. The chance of casting a cult Rune spell is equal to the caster’s rating in that Rune. If more than one Rune applies, choose which to use. See the Rune Magic section for more details.
# Runic Inspiration
Runes may be used as inspiration to augment skills or increase the chance of success on a resistance roll. What can be augmented depends on the specific Rune: an Elemental Rune may be used to augment a single non-combat skill within its skills category, a sense associated with the Rune, or with an appropriate weapon, and a Power or Form Rune may be used by to augment any skill being used in accordance with that Rune.
To be inspired by a Rune, the player must suggest and request an appropriate augment to a skill, with the gamemaster’s approval. If the adventurer has already rolled to be inspired by a Rune or Passion during the situation at hand, they cannot try to be inspired by either the same or a different Rune or Passion. That situation must be resolved without any inspiration. Additionally, the bonus from inspiration cannot be combined with an augment from another skill.
The duration is almost always the length of a combat or battle, or an appropriate amount of time determined by the gamemaster.
The player must roll against the Rune’s percentile rating on a D100:
|Critical Success:||Add +50% to the chosen ability for the rest of the scene. Check the Rune for experience.|
|Special Success:||Add +30% to the chosen ability for the rest of the scene. Check the Rune for experience.|
|Success:||Add +20% to the chosen ability for the rest of the scene. Check the Rune for experience.|
|Failure:||Subtract –20% from all rolls using that Rune until a day is spent meditating on the Rune.|
|Fumble:||Immediately lose –1D10% from the Rune’s rating and become overcome by psychic turmoil. This turmoil might last for a few minutes or a few days, determined by the gamemaster.|
During that time, the character cannot use that Rune at all (including Rune magic based on that Rune) and must even avoid acting in accordance with the Rune.
A Rune cannot be reduced to less than 0%, and an opposed Rune below 1%. If the Rune has an opposing Rune, the other is increased by the amount the first one is reduced.
# Runes and Personality
Runes are universal archetypes, manifest in the cosmos and in the psyche. As a result, they influence feelings and tendencies; an adventurer strongly affiliated with a Rune acts in accordance with that Rune. When the opportunity arises to behave one way or another, an adventurer’s Runes can either be used as casual guidelines or may be used by the gamemaster.
Casual Use of Runes: A player may sometimes lack a strong idea as to what their adventurer would do in a new situation. At these times, the player can roll a D100 and consult a chosen Rune to determine their adventurer’s behavior. If the result is less than the Rune, the adventurer should follow that Rune’s guidance. If the number is larger, the adventurer might do the opposite, especially for opposing Runes. It is up to the player to determine how that Rune’s guidance might be interpreted, though the gamemaster may suggest an obvious course of action.
Magical Tests: Sometimes adventurers must pass magical tests, either by simply having a Rune affinity at a certain value or higher, or by rolling against that Rune to demonstrate their allegiance to it.
Conflicting Runes: When a dramatic situation emerges where the adventurer’s mind is split on a course of action, the gamemaster may call for an opposed roll, using the Rune and its opposite. The winning roll indicates the adventurer’s choice but does not dictate their action: the player can always choose to disobey the adventurer’s values or inclinations.
Runes and Passions: An adventurer’s Runes may come into conflict with their Passions, resolved in the same manner as Conflicting Runes (above).
Players should be aware of an impending Rune-driven personality test. They can have their adventurers avoid conflict, but not after the gamemaster initiates the challenge.
Successful use of a Rune in any of these situations is worth an experience check, unless the gamemaster says otherwise. See Improving Runes, following, for more information.
# Improving Runes
As described in Ability Experience Checks, Runes, like skills and Passions, can improve through successful use. This process is nearly identical to that described in Improving Skills and Passions, with two small differences:
The first is that there is no skill category modifier for Runes to add to an improvement roll.
The second significant difference is that whenever a Power or Form Rune increases, its opposing Rune is reduced by an equal amount so that they still total 100%.
# Mandatory Rune and Passion Rolls
Runes and Passions with a rating of 80% or more place the adventurer at the mercy of the gamemaster. Such extreme Passions require mandatory rolls whenever the gamemaster chooses.
In general, the gamemaster has two options if the player has the adventurer do something inappropriate for the rating in the Rune or Passion.
Opposed Rolls: The gamemaster should ask the player if they would like to make an opposed roll with the Rune or Passion against another Rune or Passion. If the opposed ability wins the contest with the Rune or Passion trait, the adventurer can act in a different manner, as dictated by the ability that won.
Reduce the Rune: Immediately reduce the Rune or Passion to some level below 80%.