Account Navigation

Account Navigation

Currency - All prices are in AUD

Currency - All prices are in AUD
 Loading... Please wait...
Chaosium Inc.

Blog

Selkana's Saga #3: “Help I’ve Joined a Cult": Practical Advice For the New Initiate

Posted by Michael O'Brien on

Selkana’s Saga is a new Chaosium blog series by Ellie and Scott Akers, following a long-format roleplaying campaign using the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha system.

Also see part one, Telling Diverse Stories with Role Playing
and part two, How setting drives the story, and a crash course on Esrolia

Scott: At the start of our adventure Ellie and I were not entirely sure who the characters of Selaka’s Saga were going to be. RuneQuest’s family history generator, and selecting runes told us a lot about the histories and personalities of our characters. However, in Glorantha no trait is as influential as one’s cult. Understanding Glorantha’s cult structure is vital to visualizing your character’s roles and place in this society.

Ellie: So why does your cult matter so much?

Scott: Your cult matters partly because it provides extensive practical benefits, partly because it supports certain social roles, and partly because it marks you out for cultural stereotypes. When you meet someone in Glorantha, the first thing you notice is their cult, followed by their nation, tribe and clan. Being a cult initiate just shouts at people that “this is the sort of person I am.”

Ellie: Kitha is the best example here because she is in the most extreme cult. As a worshiper of Humakt, the god of death and severance, everyday people simply don’t want to interact with her. They respect her skills as a warrior, but might also cross the street to avoid meeting her. In game, this has interesting effects. It socially isolates her and makes her even more dependent on Selkana. 

Scott: It’s also a direct expression of Kitha’s tragic past. Kitha’s entire clan was wiped out in the wars that wracked Dragon Pass. Before that, she was was on the path to join her clan’s warriors, probably as an initiate to Orlanth (via the goddess Vinga). She still would have been a fighter, but she would have had kin and comfort. When Kitha initiated to Humakt her last ties to her family were cut, both socially and magically. It must have been a bittersweet release to let go of that deeply painful connection.

Ellie: So Kitha’s cult affects her narratively, but there are some mechanical things that can crop up too. We give her bonuses to intimidate people, and her dedication to honor makes it harder for her to resist some fights.

Selkana gets the complete opposite reaction from people. Where Kitha is shunned, Selkana is greeted with open arms. As an assistant priestess to the earth goddess Ernalda – one that can directly trace her lineage to the goddess herself – Selkana is viewed as the walking embodiment of harmony and fertility.

Scott: They make an interesting pair. There’s a tension there. On one hand, it’s very proper for an Ernaldan to have a dangerous person at their beck and call. Ernalda is up to her eyebrows in protectors. Having Kitha, a top-tier warrior, affirms Selkana’s authority. On the other hand, Ernalda is a goddess of life and abundance, and is naturally at odds with Humakt, the god of death. Just the proximity inherent in Kitha’s role as Selkana’s bodyguard is socially uncomfortable. Much more serious is that Kitha and Selkana are lovers. The same-sex relationship isn’t a problem; it’s their opposing cults that makes it taboo. Kitha in particular is fighting an uphill battle against her cult’s values.

Kitha - Selkana's Saga

Ellie: The social implications of their relationship are so complicated that it probably deserves it’s own post. It’s a wonderful metaphor for real life too, but in the interest of brevity, just know that they have some real problems to work past.

While Selkana and Kitha’s cults have strong story implications, Laak’s cults have really interesting things to say about him as well.

Scott: Laak probably would have been a ranger in other settings. Stealthy? Shoots things with bows? Animal companion? Yeah, he’s a ranger. In RuneQuest, however, there are no less than four different gods suited to that role.

Ellie: But he’s more than just a ranger. He’s not your local reliable hunter. He’s exploratory, a playboy and not tied to any specific community. 

Scott: The choice of Yinkin, god of hunting, cats, and rootlessness, has practical benefits for Laak’s career, to be sure, but also reflects his outlook on life. In many ways Yinkin is a god of animalistic detachment and emotional immaturity. Laak, disaffected from his family and adrift in a world in crisis, has relied on that detachment to keep himself safe and fed. But his unexpected involvement with Selkana’s party pulls him out of that isolation. As play goes on, I expect that Laak will find himself more and more drawn to the other cult that he’s initiated to, that of Yinkin’s more responsible older brother, Orlanth the Storm King.

Ellie: So the choice of cult is far more than selecting a character class. It’s not just their job. It defines who they are, their personalities, their opportunities, and how the rest of the world views them. That can provide wonderful story opportunities during play. Next time we will dive into the campaign proper and begin our journey to Boldhome! 

Character Portraits by Kalin Kadiev

  • Selkana's Saga
  • RuneQuest
  • RQ
  • Glorantha
  • RQG
  • tabletop
  • rpg

Final Day to Vote in ENnies - polls close tonight at 11PM. Vote Chaosium, Vote Cthulhu!

It's the final day to vote in the ENnies. Polls close at 11pm EST.It's a strong field, so Chaosium and Cthulhu need your support - and your vote!Chaosium ENnies NominationsBEST ADVENTURE—The Two-Headed SerpentBEST ART COVER—Down Darker TrailsBEST FAMILY PRODUCT—Khan of KhansBEST FREE PRODUCT—RuneQuest Quickstart and AdventureBEST MONSTER/ADVERSARY—Down Darker TrailsBEST PRODUCTION VALUES—The Grand GrimoireBEST RPG-RELATED PRODUCT—Khan [...]

Read More »

New sixth adventure launched for Cthulhu Chronicles

MetaArcade have launched the next chapter in the Investigations in Lovecraft Country series of linked adventures for Cthulhu Chronicles – an original scenario called The Good Professor. It builds on everything you have experienced so far in Cthulhu Chronicles; tensions are rising, and your decision-making skills will be put to the test. Like all others, this scenario is available [...]

Read More »

Runemasters - Gloranthan Gaming at Continuum this weekend

Runemasters is a new Chaosium sponsored GM collective, formed to bring Gaming in Glorantha back to the Continuum Convention in Leicester. GMs will be running 16 Gloranthan games between opening and closing ceremony, running everything from RQ: Roleplaying in Glorantha, HeroQuest, 13th Age Glorantha, Old School RQ2, even Gumshoe Glorantha and ToonQuest! The system doesn’t matter, as long as it’s Gloranthan!The [...]

Read More »

ENnies 2018 Spotlight: Fan Favourite Publisher

Three years ago Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen returned to Chaosium, bringing the team from Moon Design Publications on as co-owners and managers of the company. Since then it's been an amazing journey: putting the company back on its feet, getting out the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Kickstarter, and relaunching our board games and fiction lines, [...]

Read More »

ENnies 2018 Spotlight: RuneQuest Quickstart & Adventure

The RuneQuest Quickstart & Adventure was our Free RPG Day release in 2017. It features the essential rules of the new RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, presented in abbreviated form. It also features a ready-to-play scenario with pre-gens. It is a great way to jump in and experience the new edition of RQ, which was developed in close consultation with [...]

Read More »

ENnies 2018 Spotlight: Reign of Terror

There are "times when the players — the actual players — will want to run screaming from the room. It’s scary and it’s creepy and it’s gross and it will definitely give your more impressionable players nightmares. Just like it ought to", said Reckoning of the Dead in their review of Call of Cthulhu's Reign of Terror. Perhaps that's why the [...]

Read More »

ENnies 2018 Spotlight: The Two-Headed Serpent

In their review of The Two-Headed Serpent, Shoggoth.net said the adventure is a "cross between Indiana Jones and Hellboy... awesome action movie fun with a beautifully realized Lovecraftian back drop... The staff at Chaosium have put together a marvelous globe trotting tale of monster filled, paranoia inducing, world ending mayhem."The Two-headed Serpent is the first campaign released for Pulp Cthulhu, the high-adrenalin [...]

Read More »

ENnies 2018 Spotlight: The Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic

With more than 550 spells drawn from over thirty years of Call of Cthulhu supplements and scenario, the Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic is a "treasure trove of info… a near indispensable reference work for practically all Call of Cthulhu Keepers." (The Gaming Gang). It's also beautifully put together, with full colour art and gorgeous layout. Chaosium's Nick Nacario [...]

Read More »

ENnies 2018 Spotlight: Down Darker Trails

Down Darker Trails, our Call of Cthulhu 'Old West" supplement caught the ENnies judges' eyes twice—it has been nominated for BEST COVER ART and BEST MONSTER/ADVERSARY.The cover art is by Sam Lamont, who won the BEST COVER ART Gold ENnie last year for the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Players Handbook. With your help - and your [...]

Read More »