Runequest 7 - The Red Book Of Magic.pdf
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Runequest 7 - The Red Book of Magic.pdf
What you get: Your USD 34,99 or equivalent will buy you both the 126-page, full-colour hardcover of The Red Book of Magic, a supplement for the new and refreshed RuneQuest Glorantha game line, as well as its pdf edition. The book comes with a bound fabric bookmark.
The product can also be purchased in electronic format only for USD 17,99. It is comprised of two pdfs, the book proper and the 40-page Rune Spell Reference. The latter lists the Rune spells exhaustively, first per rune, and then alphabetically.
In the interest of full disclosure, I had already stated in the the review of the main rulebook that, excluding the present edition, I have only played RuneQuest's reprinted Second Edition. Thus, I cannot meaningfully comment on where some of the spells that appear in the present product initially appeared in, and whether they have differences compared to their original publication.
Contents: The book is divided in three parts. The 6-page introduction discusses the premise behind magic in Glorantha, or 'the interplay between mortals existing in the temporal Mundane World and the eternal God Time'. It discusses the mechanics and terminology behind magic as well as how to increase the chances of a spell being performed successfully through meditation, ritual practices or augmentation.
Rune magic takes the following 97 pages. The first two discuss the sensory elements of magic, one-use rune spells, stackable spells and how to devise new spells in addition to the ones found here. The following 95 pages describe 447 spells, presented in alphabetical order by their most common name. For reference, I counted 166 spells in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. The present book presents those again, along with others which appear here for the first time when it comes to this edition, and others still which are brand new to the game. The texts of the spells are not identical to those of the main rulebook; they are substantially clearer here, while in many cases their prerequisites and effects have been adjusted. As an example, Absorption's rune now varies depending on the cult, while Affix Darkness influences 1000 cubic meters as opposed to the 100 that it did before. Spells that had not appeared in this edition's main rulebook include Agony, Insect Song, and Seal Tongue.
The following 17 pages are devoted to spirit magic. The first few pages are introductory, and describe how spirit magic works, whom it can be learned from etc. The remaining ones are taken by the 68 spirit spells presented in this book, 33 of which had already been presented in the main rulebook. Again, texts are different and clearer to read. Spells that had not appeared in this edition's main rulebook include False Healing, Preserve Herbs, and Sneeze.
The strong points: Glorantha is probably the best researched and most cohesive setting in the world. Magic is integral to the setting, not a flimsy paste up. In that sense, it was only expected to have a book of magic come out for it, probably the first of many. It is useful to have all the spells collected in one place, clearly and unambiguously written, no matter the partial duplication with the main rulebook. Besides, the spell content almost triples when it comes to Rune spells and more than doubles when it comes to spirit spells; those serious about their RuneQuest gaming are bound to buy this. How can one play in an inherently magical world, without having access to its magic?
For those who have played D&D and other fantasy games in its image but have not dabbled into Glorantha, the latter's magic paradigm is very different. That's one of the setting's selling points. Being a fan of Hackmaster before I came in touch with Glorantha, I get strong vibes of that game when I see some of the more everyday spells with practical applications, as opposed to the action and combat-oriented ones. I strongly recommend to less experienced GMs to read the book from cover to cover. What each spell does can easily provide ideas for shorter and longer adventures that make full use of the setting.
I probably don't need to state the obvious: With both The Red Book of Magic and the main rulebook on the table, referencing a particular spell that exists in both books becomes much easier. Just make sure that you have annotated the main rulebook, so that you know whether something has changed substantially.
The production values are very high. I have gotten so used to products having integrated bookmarks that I literally forgot to mention that in the positives. The art is gorgeous. RuneQuest has a tradition of using many and very different artists, yet it has one of the strongest visual identities in the industry, due to the abundance of colour, the respectful borrowing of elements from real-world cultures, and the overall celebration of the human body. As expected from a bronze age RPG, bare breasted humans engaging in all kinds of (non-erotic) activities is the norm. If anybody calls these images 'nudes', check the calendar. It's 2021.
The weak points: The book is clear about what it does: it collects almost all Rune spells and spirit spells that have been previously published, through many editions, and gathers them in one place. There is no material on sorcery, mysticism, cults, or what have you. I admit I was hoping for clearer guidance on the cults that use particular spells, for the moment however I am on my own; this material might follow later in another book. If you don't play in Glorantha often, if you are overall happy with the amount of spells present in the main rulebook, and if you have access to the products where some of these new spells initially appeared in, this book might not prove indispensable.
The pdf is good, yet it doesn't go the extra mile that it needed to. Bookmark-wise it goes three levels down. The table of contents and the index have live page references. All images are extractable. For other products, this would have been excellent. For a product however that describes over 500 spells, more work was needed. In that respect, its misgiving is identical to that of The Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic. Each spell should have been bookmarked for ease of reference during the session, and that's just it. Tap on your tablet's screen (or click on your laptop), and that should have been it. Seriously publishers, the bookmarks on the pdf versions of spell books and monster books should always do that.
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One thing I immediately noticed as I started to browse was that there is no identification of what are obviously cult specific Rune spells. I know there is some listing in the brief cult descriptions in RQG but as the Red Book is a comprehensive spell listing there are obviously a bunch of spells here that are exclusive to specific cults. The first I noticed was Attract Attention, which I know from RQII Trollpak is an exclusive Xiola Umbar Rune spell but that cult doesn't even appear in the RQG core book. I assume the coming Cult Compendium will address this but I thought it would be very handy to have an aplhabetical document that indicates which Red Book Rune spells are associated with which cults. It would probably also be nice to have an alphabetical Spirit magic taught/prohibited by cult list. If using the book not just as reference but as an inspiration for gaming hooks, it would be handy to know the context in which a particular spell could be introduced to the game (what cult does the NPC need to be for me to use this magic as a plot device?) Also handy for players deciding on cult affiliation.
What I was asking about may not be a possibility until the Cult Compendium comes out and the cult homes of these spells are clearly identified. It might be possible to compile by trawling the various RQ II publications but we can't be sure that those legacy cult affiliations will be exactly the same in RQG. As it stands, the Red Book feels like a reference for other books, including unreleased ones like the Cult Compendium. It's awesome and its utility will obviously increase when the Cult Compendium is released but at the moment it feels a bit disconnected, at least as far as the Rune spells are concerned.
s it stands, the Red Book feels like a reference for other books, including unreleased ones like the Cult Compendium. It's awesome and its utility will obviously increase when the Cult Compendium is released but at the moment it feels a bit disconnected, at least as far as the Rune spells are concerned. 041b061a72