Renharth Blackveins — MOTM #14

February’s issue of Monster of the Month is now available on the Jonstown Compendium!

This month’s issue of Monster of the Month continues the series of Rune Masters begun last month. Inside, you’ll find a terrifying Sword of Humakt, Renharth Blackveins. Raised under the rule of the Lunar invaders, Renharth embodies patriotism without hatred, antagonism with respect. In addition to describing Renharth, this issue includes:

  • Gamemaster advice for using this new Rune Master, including adventure seeds to inspire immediate play
  • Several cult spirits Renharth has bound, including the Nightmare of the Inevitable Path, which threatens all who see it with visions of their death
  • A new subcult, Humakt Indomitable, suitable for adventurers and antagonists alike
  • Two additional non-player characters, and directions for Renharth’s retinue in war and peace

Although most of this supplement is usable with the core rulebook alone, you’ll need a copy of The Red Book of Magic from Chaosium in order to use the new subcult included herein.

About this Series: Monster of the Month is a series of bestiary entries for Chaosium’s RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. In addition to statblocks and behavior, most issues include supplemental detail and advice for gamemasters and/or new adventurer options for players.

Cover Illustration by Alexandre Gauthier

I had a lot of fun designing Renharth. He’s much more obviously a “monster” in the classical sense than last month’s issue—Shaivalla, Well-Loved—because he’s a badass warrior. I ultimately decided that a gamemaster could pick him up and drop him into a game as fighty opposition pretty easily. So, I spent more of my time working with his history, and with trying to flesh him out as an interesting character, rather than fixating on ways that players would fight against him.

My favorite portion is the section on bound spirits. One of the flaws of prior editions of RuneQuest—and one which emerges now and again in the current edition—is the generic presentation of spirits. Every religion within the game world has different spirits associated with it. These function as sort of emissaries or stand-ins for the deity. It’s a cool concept, but not one I’ve yet seen thoroughly described in published work from Chaosium. While it feels to me from the Glorantha Bestiary that spirits are generally nebulous lumps of POW and CHA characteristics, with a few odd abilities, I feel the generic approach that book provides doesn’t feel right.

So, I tried making up interesting spirits for Renharth. You can see a similar pattern in my work with other issues of MOTM. Namely, Petty Spirits and Children of Melikaphkaz. I like his scariest spirit the most: Nightmare of the Inevitable Path. The name’s a bit of a mouthful, but I feel it works to add a “translated into English” feel. My inspiration was descriptions of wrathful deities in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which terrify souls undergoing the process of rebirth. Just like those entities, Nightmare of the Inevitable Path wields death to terrify souls who don’t have the appropriate knowledge and acceptance of death. I think the spirit’s short description creates a neat intersection of game mechanics and characterizing the beliefs of the game world’s denizens. I hope readers will agree.

Outside of this month’s MOTM, I’ve fallen behind a bit in my writing. I’m still working on March’s issue. I’ve made progress, but I’d aimed to be writing further ahead by this time. We’ll see how things go moving forward. I’ve also begun a new RuneQuest campaign playing in Sylthi, so I can test out my ideas and material. I’m tackling it from a more freeform perspective than I usually do, so this is going to be an interesting process. I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. I’ll aim to share stuff from the playtest on the site in the future.

Anyway, I think that’s all for this post. Until next time.

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