The Gloranthan Runes
The Runes are symbols which have power inherent inthem. They serve as are the building blocks of Glorantha. They are symbols, archetypes,embodiments, and actual matter or energy of themundane world. Runes originated with the very creation of Glorantha. The Runes are more than just written symbology. When a Rune is written orinscribed, the real power of the magical image ispresent within it. Repetition of a rune does not weaken it, but strengthens its presence and firmreality in creation. Their precise origin is unknown,and believers in particular runes always insist thattheirs was first-made. Tales link the gods of theCelestial Court with the runes, each god embodying arune. Their interactions led to the births of the Young Gods; these newer deities are often associated withone or more parental runes as a result.Each rune has myths associated with it. Somehave elaborate cycles woven around their stories. Allbegin with a member of the Celestial Court whoowned the rune, and end with the current GreaterGod who owns it. In these stories the runes aresometimes treated as things, or beings, or abstractpowers, or even all three. The powers of the Core Runes are universally acknowledged. The deities who command thoserunes are the Greater Gods. Those deities cannot bechanged without altering the very fabric of theuniverse. Such alteration is against the CosmicCompromise which begat Time, and cannot occur. There are lesser runes, not shown here, and many signs and symbols as well.
The Runes can be divided into several types.Minaryth the Purple, the great Jonstown Librarian,stated at one time that there were four types of Runesin his Hero Wars period, and we have accepted thatas definitive in this article. According to this division, the Runes fall into thefollowing four classes: Powers, Elements, Forms, andConditions. Each god has one or more specialties within the forces described by the Runes. These arethe areas in which the particular god, and thereforehis or her priests, are most effective and versatile. Tosay that a god is a Fire Rune god, an Illusion god, or whatever, is to say that priests of that god specializein that area. The specific Runes are described below,by class.
The Elements are what Glorantha is made of, the raw and lifeless essence, unintelligent and inert except fortheir primal urges. They are what form the groundyou walk on, the air you breathe, and the warmth thatyou feel. During the Hero Wars period in DragonPass, five elements were recognized. Elemental runescannot normally be combined, although some cultsknow secrets whereby one elemental rune has somelimited powers over another.
Darkness, cold, underworld
The most ancient Rune, the First Born, the Wakerfrom the Void, from whom all other Elements wereborn or descended. Darkness was the first Element toarise out of the primal chaos. Darkness istraditionally most potent against Chaos. The maceand the rock are the weapons of Darkness and lead isits metal. The Darkness Rune is manifested as Subere.Personality Traits: Cruel, cold, secretive
Water, fluidity, seas, rivers
Water was born of Darkness, set to floating over thesprawling sea like a pool surrounded by darkness. Asan Element, it is called Son of Darkness, Pathway tothe Underworld, and Supporter of the Earth. The whip, the flail, the net and the trident are the weaponsof Water and quicksilver is its metal. The Water Runeis manifested as Magasta, King of the Waters.Personality Traits: Mercurial, capricious
Earth, physical things, agriculture, solidity
Earth is the third Element, Queen of Life, Mother of Many, Supporter of All. She fills the central portionof the world, both physically and spiritually, andbecause of this, her surface is the primary manifestation of the physical plane. The ax is the weapon of the Earth Rune and copper is its metal. The Earth Rune is manifested as Ernalda, Queen of the World.Personality Traits: Pragmatic, prudent, worldly
Air, breath, violence, weather, storm, wind, Middle Air
Air is next, though actually Fifth Born, Umath theSon of Earth and Sky, whom he tore apart to makeroom for himself in the world. He is the Breaker of Laws, Destroyer of Heaven, Father of Fury, Fighter Against Darkness, and Lightbringer. The sword andthe bow are the weapons of Air and silver is its metal. The Air Rune is manifested as Orlanth King of theStorms.Personality Traits:
Passionate, proud, unpredictable, violent
Incompatible with: the Moon Rune, Chaos Rune
Fire, sky, purity, light, stars, the Sky Dome
Fire is the fifth Element, and usually the last oneaccepted in the common world. He is the Crown of the World, the Purity of Station, the Distant One, andthe Emperor of the Sky Dome. The Sky is differentfrom Air, for Air separates Earth and Sky. After hisdefeat by his son, the Sky has been aloof frommankind, although his children remain close. The