Saturday, February 18, 2023

Charms and Amulets for Runequest: Role Playing in Glorantha

More than once over the last few years I have thought about how items like Amulets and Charms could be used in a tabletop RPG. Recently, my mind wandered over this subject again while I was driving, but this time I thought about it in the context of such items existing in the Mythical world of Glorantha; where magic permeates everything. So over the last two days, I came up with the following general idea of how Protective charms and Amulets could be introduced into Runequest without replacing any of the mechanics or items already found within the game. Enjoy and please let me know what you think of these rules. 

Protective Charms and Amulets:

Protective Charms and Amulets were commonplace in the ancient world and I wanted a way to bring those into the world of Glorantha in a way that they had a function as well as a form. Glorantha is a Mythic world of epic proportions and unlike the earthly equivalent, the Protective Charms and Amulets of Glorantha should have a tangible effect. Though, these simple items shouldn’t out weight or cause other aspects of that world to become redundant. Glorantha has many different types of magical gear, some natural and some crafted, and I wouldn’t want to overstep or take away from those other items.

Protective Charms and Amulets in the real world were crafted items that ward off evil spirits and misfortune. They can be crafted from animal bones, shells, wood, and clay - as well as other durable materials. The type of material used would best reflect the cult that taught the Charms and Amulets skill. For instance, Clay would be popular within the Ernalda Cult, Wood or Copper would be popular for the Aldrya Cult, and Bone would be popular with some Spirit Cults or the Found Child Cult. 

In some cultures, Charms and Amulets were used during life, as well as, in the afterlife - placed with the body as it was entombed, burned, or buried. 

The imagery and symbols carved or painted on a Charm or Amulet were of importance to the blessings or curses that the Charms and Amulets contained - they represented what the Charms and Amulets’ functions were. As much as these simple items seem easily made, in order for them to bare any kind of magical influence, the charm or amulet needs to be made in strict accordance with the rules. These rules differ from cult to cult.

Protective Charms and Amulets can  be crafted for the following:

  • Prayer for Protection in Battle.

  • Prayer for Good Health.

  • Prayer for Good Luck.

  • Prayer for Victory.

  • Prayer for Safety.

  • Prayer for Good Night’s Sleep.

  • Prayer for Spirit Protection.

  • Prayer Against Possession.

  • Prayer for Insight.

  • Prayer for protection against assassins.

  • Prayer against curses.

  • Prayer for a curse.

The Mechanics of Protective Charms and Amulets in RQG:

In RQG, Protective Charms and Amulets is a skill that a person can learn through their cult, whether it's a spirit cult or a god’s cult. The Charms and Amulets skill has a starting base of 5% and increases with use like any other skill and falls under the magic skills category.

Once the skill is obtained the crafter can use any material to craft the charm or amulet, though depending on their cult, they are limited in what function they can give the charm or amulet. For instance, some cults cannot or won't teach initiated how to craft a charm or amulet that curses another being. The crafter has to work the material themselves, shaping the material into the form that best matches its function, as well as painting or carving on the material the needed symbols and images. As the craft does this they add magic points to the charm or amulet as they work, the first point of magic points used goes to the god/goddess/ spirit of their cult. The remaining magic points got into the charm or amulet to empower the item’s function. 

Amulets and Charms do not need to be attuned. Their function is attached to the person who is wearing/carrying them. 

The Five Magic Points is the max number that can be added to a charm or amulet. At a minimum, there has to be at least one magic point added to the Charm. So when making a Charm or Amulet the character will be spending at least two magic points.

The way a charm or amulet works is similar to how the Luck ability on Call of Cthulhu functions. Depending on the type of charm or amulet, the number of magic points contained in the charm or amulet can be used to push an ability check toward success if it would have originally failed. However, much like the mechanic in Call of Cthulhu, if the ability check would still fails then the points can not be used. Unlike the luck ability in Call of Cthulhu, however; when a charm’s points are used in a situation all the points inside a charm or amulet are used up at once. Even if the charm or amulet had five magic points inside them and the character only needed three points to succeed at the task, the charms would still use up the remaining magic points nonetheless. 

Charms and Amulets function automatically, i.e. the player doesn’t get to decide when to use them. They just act independently and respond to the situation they are ascribed towards. For instance, A protective amulet for battle would automatically activate in a situation when the owner was defending themselves and the points of success over failure were within the amulets limit.

When a charm or amulet is used, the charm or amulet breaks and can no longer be used again. Either a piece of the charm or amulet will break off or the charm or amulet will break in half or shatter. How the charm or amulet breaks depends on the number of magic points the item contained when used. A one-magic point charm would have a piece break off while a five-point charm or amulet would shatter.

When it comes to materials that are used for the creation of a Charm or Amulet, the crafter doesn’t need to make any Crafting roll in order to shape the charm, as this is all covered under the Charms and Amulets skill. However, if a separate check is made then the charm or amulet can take on a more detailed, artistic shape. Which would increase the charm or amulet’s value but not its function. An increased value or appearance of a charm or amulet might qualify the charm or amulet for a CHA boost for the character carrying it. The market value would be higher as well, but these items are not long-lasting. A crafting skill check can not increase their durability when the charm is used and breaks.

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