Queen of the Orcs by Morgan Howell

I can be quite a picky reader, especially when it comes to fantasy about one of my favourite species – Orcs!

A few years back I was lamenting the lack of decent literature portraying orcs as protagonists. There were some excellent works available back then, such as Mary Gentle’s Grunts! and Stan Nicholls’ Orcs – First Blood series, but when compared to other works featuring the more favored fantasy races, these were very much in a minority.

Browsing on the internet on day I got to searching for other orc related literature, and courtesy of Google Books came across an author I had no prior knowledge of: Morgan Howell, who had published a trilogy called Queen of the Orcs.

Queen of the Orcs book 1: Kings Property

My proclivity for orc related fiction lead me to obtain this series eftsoons I was able to. No sooner had I obtained the series than I set to reading them .

The tale is about a young human woman named Dar. Born to poverty in what could be described as a feudal kingdom, she is effectively the lowest of the low. The story does not spend much time on her abusive childhood, but pulls few punches either. The reader quickly gets a feel for the grim nature of daily life in the kingdom.

Soon enough Dar is recruited (sold) into the army where she and a number of other young woman find they have to prepare food for a maniple or orcs who form part of the kings army.

As the army travels, Dar gradually discovers the orcs to be far more complex creatures than the brutal monsters that they are portrayed to be.

I do not wish to delve too much into the story as I fear doing so would inevitably cause some spoilers to become apparent.

Queen of the Orcs book 2: Clan Daughter

What I can do is highly recommend this series. The author has gone to a great deal of effort to describe a complex and different culture in the orcs, going so far as to dedicate a number of appendix pages to their language and specific notes of cultural importance.

Howell’s orcs are far from being pushovers. When battle comes they prove their fearsome reputation in gory detail.

Queen of the Orcs book 3: Royal Destiny

I was impressed with Morgan Howell’s work on this series. So much so that I did a little digging and found that Morgan Howell is a pseudonym, used by author Will Hubbell.

The previous iteration of this site did not delve into much detail about books, simply providing a Recommended Reading page. I write a very short recommendation and contacted the Mr. Hubbell, congratulating him on his evocative work.

While I have lost that specific correspondence, my recollection was that he chose a relatively female sounding pseudonym so as to better get to grips writing a story about a female protagonist. It certainly had me thinking the author was a woman. I would be greatly interested to hear from any female readers out there, to hear if the authors self set challenge was met, or if he perhaps missed the mark on occasion.

Moran Howell has gone on to publish another series in the same setting, entitled The Shadowed Path. While I have obtained that series I have not yet read them. A while after our initial correspondence, I received a short note from Mr Hubbell to advise me that he had written a stand along orc related novel in the same setting. This one, Called A Single Deed, he was going to self publish. It is not easily available where I stay but I do hope to order it some time, so that I can revisit the rich, well written orc culture Morgan Howell has created.

A Single Deed
Kings Property – Revised Cover
Clan Daughter – Revised Cover
Royal Destiny – Revised Cover

Orc (Orca, Orcanthropus Piltdowni)

Orcs have been defined in nearly every fantasy setting in one way or another. This is the RuneQuest.orc take on orcs.

Orcs are burly, well muscled humanoids. Although somewhat squat in nature, they are roughly the same SIZ as humans with a tendency to be broader in the shoulder and chest. Their skin generally appears light yellow in colour, although a vaguely green tint is evident under sunlight. Prolonged exposure to the sun increases the green tint in the skin, and a much tanned orc may appear to be bordering on dark green in colour.

Orcs have elongated lower canines which are sometimes confused as tusks. These canines differ from orc to orc, some being barely visible while other specimens being large enough to support the tusk theory. Their ears are elongated and pointy, more like that of a dog than an elf. (Never tell an orc he has elf ears unless you are suicidal.) As with the canines, ears differ in shape and size from orc to orc. Ears are also the subject of body modification in many tribes and are oft clipped and pierced to such an extent that they no longer resemble olfactory organs at all.

The orcs of history may have at one time been a nocturnal species. The habits of the modern orc are however generally diurnal. The evidence that they were once a nocturnal species becomes evident in the darkness, where their sight is far keener than that of a human in the same circumstances. In the case of utter darkness where there is no source of light at all they are equally disadvantaged with humans.

Orcs are wily, cunning creatures. In some ways they are almost human in their mannerisms and actions, in others they are brutish, barbaric and unfathomable of motivation. They are boastful creatures who enjoy nothing more than having the last say on any matter. Beware the adventurer who gets embroiled in an orcish boasting session! (Boasting is a specific communications skill that orcs learn as a matter of course).

While orcs have quarrelsome nature and are constantly on the lookout for how they may gain from any given situation, they also possess a keen sense of self preservation. An orc who feels threatened in a situation will not hesitate to turn tail and retreat if such an opening to save his skin exists.

Orcs use a varying array of weapons. Certain tribes may prefer certain weapon types. One item which unifies all orcs is that only the females will use a bow. This is possibly why orcs think that all elves are females, because the concept of a male using a bow is very alien to them. Males of certain tribes have been known to make use of crossbows although they do face ridicule and the occasional thrashing by less broadminded orcs.

The origin of orcs is unknown. Orcs are NOT related to elves in any way! What is known is that they are mammals whose ancestors were non simian. Apart from a non common ancestor, orcs share many anatomical similarities with humans. Internal organs are in roughly the same locations although orcs tend to have larger hearts and lungs, which accounts for their greater resilience in tasks that require muscular activity.

The female has a gestation period of roughly 170 days and gives birth to a small orcling which she will initially suckle at one of two tiny teats, one of which is located below each breast. These secondary breasts are usually hidden from sight beneath the bulge of her main breasts and secrete and thin, clear substance which sustains the newborn orlcing during the first days of its life. Gradually the orcling is weaned from the small secondary breasts onto the more regular milk of the main breasts. Due to the short gestation period it is not uncommon for a mother to have two or more orclings of varying ages on the breast at the same time.

Newborn orclings are far smaller than their human counterparts and require a larger degree of care from their mother than a newborn human. Although less robust at birth, an orc grows fast and is soon more robust than a human of the same years. Once weaned (one and a half to two years old) an orcling grows fast and may reach the same height although be less bulky that an adult within nine summers. While they may look like adults physically, they are however still children and lack worldly experience. Although orcs may grow quickly, their bodies only mature sexually many summers later – in fact humans reach sexual maturity earlier than orcs do. On average an orc will be ready to start breeding after twenty summers.

The bodies of young orcs (both male and female) produce large quantities of testosterone during their adolescent stage. Adolescents compete fiercely between each other and differentiation between male and female is difficult. The females even possess an enlarged clitoral sheath that resembles a penis during this stage of development. As sexual maturity approaches the clitoral sheath shrinks and breasts develop as the female’s body replaces testosterone production with oestrogen as it readies itself to bear children.

It is during the adolescent stage of development that many young orcs are encountered. As they compete to establish themselves within society they will journey into other lands to raid and do battle with whomever they believe that can win an encounter with. This is not to say that older orcs do not do the same – the adolescents just tend to go further and take more risks in order to establish their rank.

Orcs are not great believers in magic and most have no time for it. Those who do use magic tend to tread the divine path although the occasional shaman practitioner of spirit magic may be encountered. This is not to say that orcs do not recognise and respect the gods just that they do not rely on them very much. Sorcerers are reviled and anyone found to be practicing the dark arts will be expelled population if they are lucky. The less fortunate will simply be killed.

Orcs can be divided into three main types. These types can interbreed but usually do not due to clannish ways and geographical separation.

Common orcs are the most prolific and widely spread of the three and are thus the most likely to be encountered. The common orc has a greater tendency to bear twins than the other two types. They prefer to settle in habitable lands, the same as humans which as often as not brings them into conflict for resources. Fortunately common orcs are least hostile of the three types and peaceful trade is as possible as war between them and their neighbours. Their culture is barbaric but civilised populations are encountered from time to time.

Great orcs tend to live in more hostile regions such as mountains, apparently by choice. They pride themselves in their fighting prowess and look down upon the other orc types as inferior. A tendency towards isolation means that they are rarely encountered outside of their mountain strongholds unless it is raiding season. Their hostile homelands necessitates that they breed slower than their common orc cousins. Twins are also a far rarer occurrence. The great orcs have a barbaric culture. Those who do leave their homeland and journey into the world generally end up selling their sword for a living. In an army situation, great orcs will invariably be in some sort of specialised unit as they do not co-operate well with others. Do not think that great orcs are stupid, they are as cunning as their common orc cousins.

Mottled orcs are a rarity in many regions. As their name implies, their skin is usually blotched in appearance, some blotches being natural, others scar tissue. Their culture is usually primitive or barbaric. They have a lean, wiry build and are known for their aggressiveness toward strangers. When not fighting among themselves they have been known to make the occasional raid. Mottled orcs are the most sadistic of the three types. They enjoy inflicting pain on their captives and are the least likely to flee an adverse situation. They breed as fast as their common orc cousins but have been known to abandon their infants when food becomes scarce.

Courtesy ArtStation.com

Orc (common)

STR4D614Move 3
CON3D6 + 110-13Hit Points 11
SIZ2D6 + 311Fatigue 25
INT3D610-11Damage Bonus 1D4
POW 2D6 + 3 10
DEX 4D614
APP 2D67
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg1-41-34/4
L Leg5-84-64/4
R Arm13-1516-174/3
L Arm16-1818-194/3
Fist825 + 71D3 + 1D4
Gladius733 + 71D6 + 1 + 1D425 + 710
Spear (1H)725 + 71D8 + 1 + 1D425 + 78
Target35 + 712
Dagger830 + 71D4 + 2 + 1D430 + 76
Sling &#97943/930 + 71D8
Composite Bow &#97923/930 + 71D8 + 17

Skills: Agility +7; Dodge 20, Swim 10, Drive 20,Communications +7; Speak Other 15, Boast 30,Knowledge +2; (X) Lore 10, First Aid 20,Manipulate + 7; Conceal 25, Devise 20,Perception +7; track 35, Scan 20, Stealth +8 ; Sneak 40.
Armour: Mostly bezainted with a stronger helm, usually scale or plate.
Magic: Orcs respect the gods but rarely call on them. Any divine magic will be cult specific.

Orc (Great)

STR4D6 + 316Move 3
CON3D6 + 314-16Hit Points 16
SIZ2D6 + 817Fatigue 31
INT3D610-11Damage Bonus 1D6
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg1-41-33/6
L Leg5-84-63/6
R Arm13-1516-175/5
L Arm16-1818-195/5
Head Butt835 + 71D4 + 1D6
Bastard Sword (2H)740 + 71D10 + 1 + 1D635 + 712
Naginata (2H)640 + 72D6 + 2 + 1D635 + 710
Whip330 + 71D46
Sai/Dirk725 + 71D6 + 1D625 + 710
Javelin &#97943/930 + 71D88
Long Bow &#97923/930 + 71D8 + 16

Skills: Agility +7; Dodge 25, Climb 50, Jump 45,Communications +7; Speak Other 15, Boast 40,Knowledge +2; (X) Lore 10, First Aid 20,Manipulate + 7; Conceal 25, Devise 20,Perception +7; track 35, Scan 20, Stealth 0 ; Sneak 15.
Armour: A mix of ringmail, cuirbouilli and lamellar.
Magic: Orcs respect the gods but rarely call on them. Any divine magic will be cult specific.

Orc (Mottled)

STR3D610-12Move 3
CON3D610-13Hit Points 10
SIZ2D6 + 29Fatigue 22
INT3D610Damage Bonus –
POW 2D610
APP 2D66
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg1-41-34/4
L Leg5-84-64/4
R Arm13-1516-173/3
L Arm16-1818-193/3
Fighting Claw825 + 71D4 + 1
Kukri935 + 7 1D4 + 325 + 78
Long Spear (2H)740 + 71D10 + 135 + 710
Buckler35 + 78
Knife930 + 71D3 + 125 + 74
Bolas435 + 7 1D4
War Boomerang430 + 71D86

Skills: Agility +7; Dodge 35, Climb 30, Jump 20,Communications +7; Speak Other 15, Boast 20,Knowledge 0; (X) Lore 10, First Aid 15,Manipulate + 7; Conceal 25, Torture 30,Perception +7; Track 45, Scan 20, Stealth 0 ; Sneak 45.
Armour: A mix of bezainted, cuirbouilli and lamellar, oft with a chain coif.
Magic: Orcs respect the gods but rarely call on them. Any divine magic will be cult specific.

Giss Lizard Folk (Saurus sapius)

Common to many worlds, Lizard Men / Folk (hereafter referred to as the Giss) are the founders of a great empire on Gæa.

Giss lizard folk are large bipedal reptiles which resemble humans in certain aspects. While their countenance from tip of snout to tail is lizard, their pelvis and shoulders are similar in certain ways to those of a human and they stand erect, on their hind legs. They have a protruding jaw, which houses a mouth lined with canine teeth, much like that of a crocodile, although shorter. Eyes are set much like that of a lizard. They have a four fingered hand (three fingers and a thumb) and a five toes foot.

The Giss are considered to be poikilothermic (cold blooded), but their physiology has developed to a stage where they are able to maintain their own body temperatures for moderate lengths of time. Thus, one may be able to survive a short snow storm and the cold weather associated with it without having to hibernate, but will most certainly not outlast a protracted cold winter.

They are ovoviviparous, but not give birth to many young. A mature female may produce up to nine infants at one time, but numbers of three to five are more common. Their gestation period is one hundred and fifty days, which means that a healthy female can produce two broods per year.

Like humans, Giss differ subtly through their genetic coding. Some have yellow eyes while others eyes may be red, green or blue. Their skin may vary from a light green, through deep green, to a muddy, brown-green. Some may have a small crest on their head and/or down their back while others may possess a pair of small, blunt vestigial horns on their head.

They are highlly intelligent creatures who are skilled in many of the crafts and lore that humans know. Although generally civilised, small numbers of primitive and barbaric tribes may be encountered. They are most prolific in warm environments, such as deserts, plains and jungle and tend to clothe themselves accordingly, favouring loose togas and loincloths.

Although they are carnivorous by nature, some Giss have been known to eat fruits and vegetables in desperate times.

The Giss may be one of the first creatures i ever defined. RQ 3rd ed never defined Lizard People, although later on once i got my hands on the Glorantha Bestiary it was evident other similar concepts ad been considered, such as the Newtling and Slarg

Giss Lizard Folk

STR2D6 + 1218Move 3
CON2D6 + 1016Hit Points 15
SIZ3D6 + 215Fatigue 30
INT2D6 + 613
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg02-0502-042/5
L Leg06-0905-07 2/5
R Arm15-1616-171/4
L Arm17-1818-191/4
WeaponSRAttack%DamagePARR% PTS
Claw/Fist830 + 51D6 + 1D4
Bite1030 + 71D10 + 1D4
Bastard Sword625 + 151D10 + 1 + 1D4 25 + 1012
Trident325 + 152D6 + 3 +1D425 + 1010
Scutum1D630 + 1018
Whip130 + 5 1D415 *6

Notes: Giss lizard folk will use any number of weapons. The ones listed above are what some of them may choose to use. Due to their nature, they can bite, (where a human may head but).
* Entangle
Skills: Agility + 2, Communications + 7, Knowledge + 3, Manipulation + 8, Perception + 10, Listen + 3, Ride/Drive Chariot + 15, Evaluate + 5, First Aid + 5, Animal Law + 8, Jump + 2, Climb + 2, Devise 3.
Armour: 1 to 2 point scales in certain places and may wear any armour, preferring a plate cuirass with leather skirts and greaves.
Magic: LGiss disdain sorcery, but many use divine magic. Some of the primitive ones may use spirit magic.

Lizard, Land Dragon (Saurus draco terra)

This reptile was inspired by an old Viking Forge / Tabletop Fantasy / Asgard Miniature called “Land Dragon with Lizard Man Rider”.

These large bipedal beasts are not dragons at all, but rather large relatives of the Desert Walker, whom they resemble in many ways. They live in arid, open expanses such as deserts and semi deserts and are carnivorous. Although they live almost exclusively on fresh killed prey, they have been known to take carrion and even eat their own kind at times.

In the wild, these are solitary animals who only meet to mate. Males will often fight for supremacy when they do come into contact with each other. Land dragons are vicious beast who have been known to run down and devour many unsuspecting travellers

Their almost limitless endurance in hot climes has, like the desert walker, many of these large, horse sized lizards to be domesticated so as to provide mounts and, on occasion, to act as beasts of burden. They do not however make good draft animals as their tail, with its lethal bone spike tends to cause much damage to any wagon they are hitched to.

Due to the fact that the land dragon is so viscous, domestic ones are reared from egg. It is extremely rare to encounter one that has been tamed from the wild. Although they thrive in almost any conditions, bar sub zero arctic climes, they are most suited to warm, open places. Land Dragons average between an eleven and eighteen year life span and are oviparous.

The Land Dragon was initially defined on VII August MMII

Land Dragon

STR3D6 + 818-19Move 9(6)
CON3D6 + 818-19Hit Points 20
SIZ5D6 + 623-25Fatigue 40
DEX3D6 + 314-15
Hit LocationMelee(D20)Missile(D20)Points
R Leg03-0504-063/8
L Leg06-0807-093/8
R Arm16182/6
L Arm17192/6
Weapon SRAttack%Damage
Claw735-62D4 + 1
Bite6501D10 + 2D4
Tail7304D6 + Knockdown

Notes: A land dragon will usually attack its prey with its claws in an attempt to hold it fast before it finishes it off with its bite. A victim will have to successfully grapple by overcoming the land dragons strength with its own to escape. Should the prey be large or troublesome, it will lash out with its tail. When a tail attack is special or better, the bony spike has hit the victim and full damage is taken. Domesticated dragons are usually trained to attack first with its tail or bite, depending on the battle situation. The land dragons movement is high over short distances (maximum 100 metres) after which it will drop.
Skills: Dodge 18, Track 35, Jump 55.
Armour: Varies according to location.

Hit Location Tablew

Advance Hit Location Table

While RuneQuest is more realistic than many games by allowing a character to be hit in a specific area, the actual hit locations may still appear somewhat bit restrictive for the gamer in search of more specific hit areas while gaming.

To remain within the context of standard Rune Quest rules, the existing hit location table has been used. Added to the table is a sub table breaking down each hit area into four more precise locations. to use the table, roll the normal D20 for area and roll a D4 for specific location. Most characters have a damage modifier of 1D4, so possibly just use said D4 roll for both purposes (damage modifier and specific hit location).

Melee D20Missile D20LocationD4=1D4=2D4=3D4=4
01-0401-03R LegFootShinKneeThigh
05-0804-06L LegFootShinKneeThigh
13-1516-17R ArmHandForearmUpper ArmShoulder
16-1818-19R ArmHandForearmUpper Arm Shoulder


Foot = Toes to ankle.
Shin = From ankle to below knee.
Knee = Knee
Thigh = Above knee to hip joint.
Hip = Hip bone
Groin = Groin, what more can we say, Gluteus Maximus from behind.
Guts = Stomach area, lower back from behind.
Side = Side of torso, Kidney region from behind.
Breast = Sternum, upper spine from behind.
Ribs = Rib cage either side of sternum/spine.
Diaphragm = Diaphragm, the bit between the stomach and ribs.
Collar = Collar bone, scapula from behind..
Hand = Finger tips to wrist.
Forearm = Wrist to elbow.
Upper arm = Elbow to shoulder.
Shoulder = The joint between scapula and collar one and humorous.
Skull = Top of head including forehead.
Face = Cheeks, nose and jaw, back of head from behind.
Side = side of head including ears.
Neck = Top of spinal column, throat region from front.

Humanoid With A Tail Hit Locations

The creatures book makes no allowance for hit locations for humanoids with tails. Do note other resources such as the Glorantha Bestiary also cover such a body type.

reatures like Minotaurs have tails that are somewhat insignificant and thus they can be bundled under the humanoid hit location table. But what about creatures with significant tails. The Allosaur gets it more or less right, but its arms are tiny and its tail is huge.

Creatures with significant tails such as Lizard men and the likes do require a significant distinction.

Cool picture found online, artist unknown.

Humanoid With Tail

Lizard Man/Giss, Crocodile Folk, Serpent People

Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)HP Modifier
L Leg03-0502-04.33
R Leg06-0805-07.33
R Arm13-1516-17.25
L Arm16-1818-19.25

Missile Weapons

This article lists a few missile weapons that were not defined in the original RuneQuest 3rd Edition rules.


The missile pilum was a formidable weapon. It total length was 2,13 meters, with 61 centimeters being taken up by the iron head, giving it a killing range of 28 metres. Only its point was tempered while the shank used to attach it to the wooden shaft was left in a soft iron state. It was a heavy weapon which could punch a hole in a foes armour. The pilum was designed to break once it pierced the foe, thus minimizing the chance of it being flung back at the thrower. This breaking was the long, narrow iron head separating from the wooden shaft. Another broad bladed pilum was used against unarmoured enemies. For ease of play, we assume this to be the javelin in the rules and have not changed any javelin statistics.

Hunting Stick

The ancient Egyptians used a curved stick, usually fashioned to look like a snake, to hunt waterfowl. the stick would be thrown among the waterfowl in such a manner as to break their necks. In the hands of a skilled user, this weapon can be cast with great accuracy. although usually made from wood, some sticks may be bound in copper, giving them a higher damage and AP value. This is an ideal weapon to hand on ones person when facing a Duck opponent!


This light throwing spear has a wooden shaft and small iron tip. Its light weight makes it easy to throw with accuracy for some distance, but is also its main weak point when the target has armour or a shield. Very suitable for hunting animals such as small buck and chasing off lightly clad enemies, the assagai was used for many years by the Zulu tribe of South Africa

Gáe Bulg

A Celtic weapon also knows as the bellows spear. It was purported to have rows of razor sharp barbs down much of its shaft, which meant that it could not be pulled out without immensely worsening the wound. Logic would state that due to its heavy design, it could not have had much of a range. As such, it may have been used as a melee weapon as well – (likely going on a similar strike rank as the melee pilum).


While not really a missile weapon, this is probably the closest category. An instrument with four iron spikes, disposed in such a manner that any three of them being on the ground, the other points upwards. Caltrops are scattered in order to create an obstacle to the advance of troops. Depending on their size, they may also be effective against cavalry. The caltrops mentioned here are for use against infantry and are thus relatively small, with spikes of between two and four centimetres in length. As caltrops are scattered on the ground for unsuspecting people to step upon, they not actively hit a target. Rather anyone blundering onto them must make a successful dodge roll to avoid them. This dodge roll is made on the assumption that the caltrops are scattered thickly, with only a gap of five or less centimetres between individual instruments. A thinner scattering would allow for an adjusted dodge roll – dodge x 2, dodge x 3 etc. Heavier clatrops with longer spikes may be created for use against cavalry,elephants and the like.

Thanks to Peter Johansson from the RQ Rules List for correcting a grievous mistake with this article.

Pilum11/9152.51D121220/40 1/SR 140
Hunting Stick5/8080.31D4*3*15/30 1/SR 10*
Assegai6/8120.51D6430/50 1/SR 65
Gáe Bulg 15/12053.01D10**1410/20 1/SR 500

* These figures will double if stick is bound in copper.

** Roll an additional 1D3 damage for every melee round that the Gáe Bulg remains in the wound while the victim is still mobile. If the Gáe Bulg is pulled out, roll 1D3 additional damage for every point of damage originally taken.

*** Damage: 1D2 (+1 for every 10 points of SIZ or part thereof)
The caltrop must be treated as an impale insofar half damage per round it remains in the wound while the victim continues to move concerned and will take 1D3 rounds to remove. The heavier the target, the further into their foot the caltrop will go. Ignore armour unless the target is wearing plate on their sole or has natural armour (Horses hoof etc). e.g. A SIZ 17 human would take 1D2 + 2 points (17/2 rounded up) damage. The GM must use discretion regarding the size of the caltrop – a larger caltrop could do more damage, but be more visible and thus easier to avoid, where the converse would apply for a smaller version.

The Sausage Fruit Plant (Planta salsicia)

A dangerous plant that characters should approach with caution.

This plant is encountered in arid regions and appears as a common cactus, with oversized spines – which average between 5 and 10 centimetres in length. It stands up to 5 metres tall and can grow to a diameter of 70 centimetres around the base. Although most plants encountered are a single spike from base to tip, some may produce branches. Its name is evident from its fruit, which look very much like pork sausages. The fruit is borne as white “sausages” which are speckled with red dots, which hang in bunches from nodes near the plants apex.

What makes this plant unusual is that it is classified a carnivorous plant. It is very long lived (up to 500 years) and is thus not as vulgar in its thirst for flesh. Instead it plays a very patient waiting game:

The stalk of the sausage fruit plant is but one tenth its total size. Underneath the soil a large shallow root system fans out in a circle, extending up to 10 metres from its base. These roots are sensitive to pressure, serving as a deadly kill zone. Anyone approaching the plant will stand on an area where pressure is exerted to the root system. This pressure is communicated to the stem of the plant.

Pressure excreted must be significant. Thus small animals like skinks and birds, which make meals of the tasty sausage fruit, do not trigger the plant. Only larger animals, weighing 20 or more kilograms will exert enough pressure on the roots.

The first step within the kill zone will arm the plant. Alerting it to the presence of a possible meal and allowing it to identify from which quadrant said meal is approaching. The next step acts as a trigger. Once the trigger is set off, the plant reacts with lightning speed. The spines which face the quadrant where the first, arming step was taken, shoot out at a high velocity.

Each spine is laden with a deadly, fast acting toxin. This toxin has a dual function. Its first action, once it enters its victim’s bloodstream, is to incapacitate its voluntary muscles, effectively paralysing the victim within seconds but leaving its heart and lungs functioning, to ensure the toxin is distributed throughout the entire body. The toxins second function is as a digestive. Within an hour of rendering its prey immobile, the toxin starts to dissolve tissue it comes into contact with. This whole process works on volumes. The greater the amount of toxin in the body, the quicker the time in which paralysis will occur and the quicker the prey will digest.

While the plants prey is digested from within, its root system will start producing specialised rootlets, which grow upwards towards the point where the prey lies. Within a day they will have pierced its tenderised skin. Within two days, they will have anchored the corpse and started to secrete even more powerful digestive acids than those of the spines, to dissolve muscle and bone. Within a week, the corpse will have collapsed in on itself, as its now liquid inside’s seep into the soil, to be hungrily absorbed by the plants underground root system.

This article was last updated VI August MMII


The spines are hard and sharp.
Per spine:
Damage = 1d4
AP = 5
Toxin POT = 50. POT will increase by 10 per extra spine. Thus, is 3 spines, POT = 70. Spines must draw blood for toxin to work. The digestive agent will start to function within an hour of entering the bloodstream and from then on will remove 1d4 HP per hour until HP = 0 or the toxin is neutralised. Please refer to RuneQuest Poison rules for specifics on how poisons work.

If a person should be so lucky as to obtain a sausage fruit without perishing in the attempt, it will be worth their while. Not only do the fruit contain an antidote to counteract the toxin in the spines. (This antidote must be ingested before the digestive takes effect, to avoid permanent loss to CON. If the digestive has taken effect, CON must be reduced by 1 for every passing hour until the digestive has been neutralised.)

In addition to the above, the fruit is delicious and the antidote has generic healing properties which will speed the healing of wounds and revitalise the body of people who consume it. To simulate this effect, make a first aid roll for each wounded area and add 1D10 to Current Fatigue Points. This is a once off effect and wounds cannot be speed healed by eating lots of fruit

Hydra (Hydor udras monstrum)

This Hydra was designed long before I obtained the Elder Secrets box, which also contains details of a Hydra. Later on, I also noticed that the Monster Coliseum box has different statistics for a Hydra as well as the Glorantha Bestiary. This one is quite different to the others however, which I hope will mean that it is quite fun to come up against. It also gives any owner of a d30 an opportunity to use it.

This article assumes a quadruped creature and not the alternative serpentine bodied version.

Hydras are extremely rare terrestrial dragonoid creatures with many heads, that prefer to inhabit swamps and salt marshes (mangroves). Some hydras have however been encountered in river estuaries, shallows of lakes and jungle rivers. The most common ones have three heads but there have been tales of ones with seven heads. They are relatively intelligent and have the ability to breath fire and/or noxious gas. Hydras are solitary by nature and only converge for their infrequent mating.

he smaller wild hydras prefer to avoid confrontation with anything unknown and are likely to withdraw and hide if approached. They will fight however if they feel threatened or are attacked. Larger, intelligent hydras are more often than not in the employ of dragon kind or powerful sorcerers, drawing on their employers vast sources of knowledge in return for services rendered.

No one really knows where hydras come from. Some cults believe that they are the offspring between the dragon god and an unknown partner while sorcerer generally believe them to be the result of an arcane experiment. Shamans on the other hand know full well that hydras are manifestations of spirits, bonded together and trapped in the body of a serpent by a powerful shaman, centuries ago. The statistics below are for fully grown hydras.

These hydra statistics were first defined on MMVI July MMII.


STR18D663Move 5
CON9D632Hit Points 48
SIZ20D670Fatigue 95
INT1D6 + 1D46
POW2D6 + 613

3 Headed Hydra

Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
RH Leg03-040218/17
LH Leg05-060318/17
Hind Q07-0804-0718/20
Fore Q09-1008-1218/20
RF Leg11-121318/17
LF Leg13-141418/17
Head 115-16 15-16 18/17
Head 217-18 17-18 18/17
Head 319-2019-2018/17

7 headed Hydra

Hit LocationMelee (D30)Missile (D30)Points
RH Leg03-040218/17
LH Leg05-060318/17
Hind Q07-0904-0818/20
Fore Q10-1209-1418/20
RF Leg13-141518/17
LF Leg15-161618/17
Head 117-1817-1818/17
Head 219-2019-2018/17
Head 321-2221-2218/17
Head 423-2423-2418/17
Head 525-2625-2618/17
Head 627-2827-2818/17
Head 729-3029-3018/17

A note about d30: A d30 roll may be achieved by rolling 1d12 + 2d10 and subtracting 2 from the result. Or (1d20 + 2d6) -2.

Breath355 – 5*Flame/Poison
Claw6201D6 + 4D4
Bite940 – 5*3D6 + 7D4

Notes: A hydra may make an attack with each of its heads (breath or bite, not both) every round and may attack with either its tail or claws in the same round. The same head that breathes may not bite during the same round. It may either breathe fire or poisonous vapours per round and not a combination of the two. The hydras flame is more a ball of fire which can affect a target area of one square meter. The range of this fire ball is equal to the hydras POW.

The flame does 4D6 damage to each of the targets hit locations. 4D6 is rolled once and the damage rolled is applied to all hit locations simultaneously. Armour does protect against this damage. The hydra must expend 1D4 fatigue points each time it breathes fire. Poison can be breathed as an alternate to fire. The cloud can take up an area of one square meter and has potency equal to the hydras POW.

Each head may breath at the same time, thus a 7 headed hydra could conceivably blanket a seven square meter area with fire or poisonous vapours. Tail damage is an area sweep effect.

* The hydra will lose 5% on its bite and breath attacks per head that is severed or incapacitated.

Armour: 18 point skin.
Magic: Intelligent hydras will have learned sorcery and/or spirit magic. These will have an INT of 3D6.
Skills: Scan 25 + 5 (per head).

RuneQuest Articles in Dragon Magazine

A list of RuneQuest related articles published in Dragon Magazine.

Dragon Magazine #129

Dragon Magazine has been known to publish the occasional RuneQuest article. The table below lists the material I have found by browsing through my Dragon collection. It is by no means exhaustive as my collection is far from complete and odds are I may have missed a few items while I was compiling the list.

It is hoped that this list will appraise the keen RuneQuesters on what magazines to keep a lookout for. Please feel free to mail me if you have anything to add to this list.

40Artifacts of Dragon Pass – Thanks Stephen for advising.
75 July MCMLXXXIII70Review – RQ Companion fills the Glorantha gap.
75July MCMLXXXIII72Advertisement – Pavis.
76August MCMLXXXIII31Advertisement – Pavis.
81January MCMLXXXIV66Advertisement – Rune Quest.
82February MCMLXXXIV52-53Review – Pavis and Big Rubble.
129January MCMLXXXVIII46-47Article – Sorcery spells for RuneQuest.
144April MCMLXXXIX 45-55Article – Summoning Gods and spirits.
157May MCMXC23Advertisement – The Haunted Ruins.
160August MCMXC31Advertisement – Have you seen this newt?
161 September MCMXC35Review – Glorantha
162October MCMXC7Advertisement – Have you seen this troll?
163November MCMXC7Advertisement – Have you seen this duck?
164 December MCMXC66-68Review – Trollpack and Troll Gods.
172August MCMXCI66-68Article – Into the spirit of things.
181May MCMXCII72-74Review – Vikings
184August MCMXCII49Advertisement – Sun County.
185September MCMXCII120Advertisement – Sun County.
188December MCMXCII78Review – Sun County.
192April MCMXCIII37Advertisement – Shadows on the Borderland.
206June MCMXCIV16-20Article – The Dragon Project – Cerulean Glory
211November MCMXCIV92 Review – Strangers in Prax.

Tangle Vine and Death Tendril

An interesting and deadly form of symbiosis.

The Tangle Vine, (also known as snag claw vine) is an arboreal plant that has formed a symbiotic relationship with a deadly fungus. Distantly related to the arboreal orchid family of plants, the vine still retains certain familiar characteristics. It grows in trees, hanging its roots from branches and produces a magnificent flower, the resulting seedpods of which bear a vanilla like aroma. The similarities end here however. It is thought that changing climate conditions forced the vine to adapt or die. Where once it may have thrived in a moist, jungle environment, it is now encountered in far harsher, dry climate climes.

The lack of nutrient laden jungle air is thought to have forced its adaptation. The air in arid climes is dry and bereft of any nutrients. To gain the nutrients necessary for its survival, the vine forged a mutualistic relationship with a deadly fungus, the Death Tendril. The fungus body resides inside hat of the vine, laying in wait for the vine to catch its prey.

Elongated roots covered in sharp hook thorns hand from the vines perch, waiting for an unsuspecting animal to brush against them. When this occurs, the hooks snag and easily pierce sin. Creatures snagged usually panic and try to break away. Although this is sometimes successful, it mostly casts them against other roots and soon they are well and truly stuck. While many thorns may break off, they are numerous enough to ensure that some remain embedded in skin.

The thorns contain a tiny opening just below their tip. Within this opening resides the Death Tendrils offensive weapon, an anaesthetic acid secreted in preparation for the trap to be tripped. Blood from the stricken creature carries the anaesthetic to its muscles where it swiftly goes to work. As the acid is secreted in every thorn, even ones that have broken off are still effective in paralysing the prey.

Once the prey has been sufficiently incapacitated, the fungus grows rapidly. The anaesthetic also acts as an anti coagulant, ensuring that the openings made by the thorns are not closed.

Thin fungal tendrils issue forth from the same holes where the anaesthetic was stored. They enter the prey and begin secreting digestive enzymes. As tissue is dissolved, it is absorbed by the tendrils, which then grow into the gap left, anchoring them further into the preys living flesh.

The tendrils are sensitive to the anaesthetic acid levels within the prey, any drop in which cause them to secrete more, maintaining the status of paralysis. Thus the prey is slowly digested alive until loss of blood and/or vital organs cause it to die. As the aesthetic is only local, incapacitating voluntary muscles, the prey is not even spared pain as it is slowly digested.

Being a fungus, the Death Tendril cannot use all of the nutrients it absorbs and excretes them from its main body, where they are absorbed by the vine, providing it with sustenance to sustain its growth. The Death Tendril is also interesting in that it can occur/live without the Tangle Vine. This is rare however as their mutualistic relationship is so beneficial, but when it occurs, the tendril can be spotted at night due to the phosphorescent glow emanating from it. This is due to the unused nutrients it has excreted being burned up by bacteria, a by-product of which is the luminescence.

The deadly twosome has one more trick up to play. In order to assure mutual propagation, the tendril releases its sticky spores into the vines seedpod ensuring a high likelihood of spores being carried with seeds when they are distributed. Anyone mistaking a Tangle vine seedpod for that of a vanilla orchid will be truly surprised to find the spore infested seeds somewhat disastrous to their digestive tract, causing searing abdominal pains accompanied by cold sweats and a general sense of delirium. While not poisonous as such, the effects of digesting the spores could be disastrous to anyone facing imminent battle or attempting some dangerous task.

This article was first published on XXXI July MMIII

Tangle Vine

CON2D6 8Hit Points 10
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
ThornSpecialSpecialEntangle – See Notes

Death Tendril

CON1D32Hit Points 2
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20) Points
Tendriln/an/aMust destroy host
TendrilSpecialSpecialSpecial – See notes

Tangle Vines: Depends on the prey’s reaction. Classically, someone brushing a vine will be pierced by a number of thorns. Thorn damage is negligible, any sort of armour will stop them piercing skin. If skin is pierced, the preys reaction will determine how entangled it gets. If it thrashes around in panic, it will become more entangled, if it freezes and takes stock of the situation before slowly removing thorns, it will likely escape.

Anaesthetic: The anaesthetic has a POT of 1 point per thorn. E.G. If 5 thorns pierce, its POT is 5. It will start acting two turns after the thorn first pierces flesh. Match POT vs. CON on the resistance table. The anaesthetic lasts 10 turns; so further piercing will increase POT. E.G. Prey is pierced with 5 thorns and resists vs. POT 5. It is pierced by 7 more thorns and then has to match vs. POT 12 etc. Failing to resist will result in local paralysis of areas pierced. (Use logic here. If 20 thorns pierce the prey’s arm and 1 its leg, clearly the leg will not go lame. Perform resistance vs. POT I two separate checks).

Death Tendrils: These will start growing 5 turns after first piercing. Digestion will commence in a further 3 turns (8 turns after first piercing). Digestion does 1 point of damage to affected body area (as well as global HP) per 5 tendrils or part thereof per turn. E.G. 7 tendrils are growing into an arm. 7/5 rounded up = 2 points damage per turn. Remember the tendrils can secrete more anaesthetic. Treat this like the thorns, 1 point POT per tendril.

Pod Spores: Best to role-play this, but if you have to resist, treat them as having a POT of 10 (if full pod is consumed).

Post Script: Needless to say, the Tangle Vine flower is of enormous value within botanical circles. The danger in gathering such a flower is enormous. Tangle vines, which sprout without their mutualistic partner never, reach maturity.