The Orc Gathering

Some humans experience the fun, filth and fury of an orc gathering. This is a description of the gathering and does not detail and specific role playing events.

From a distance it looked like a plan filled with bushy terrain that stretched on towards the horizon. Details became clearer as they neared, movement could be discerned on the plain. Cresting the brow of a small hill, there was a sharp intake of breath as the vista before them came into view.

They had been looking past the low hill – more a high area on otherwise flat landscape than a true hill – regarding what could be seen on the following, distant incline. Before them, across could be loosely referred to as a valley, the land was blanketed wit a moving mass or orcs.

The orcs thronged like ants, moving apparently randomly amongst tents, fires, livestock and wagons. What few trees may have previously been resent on the plain had long since disappeared to be used for shelter or firewood.

The noise, smell and energy of the great orcish gathering washed over them as they neared. They noted that the odd human merchant had set up for business on the periphery, risking life and livelihood for the chance of trading with the orcs for their (often plundered) gold. They received looks and grunts of greeting or challenge as they entered the periphery and began to make their way into the gathering proper, but for the most part they were left alone. Any serious challenge to orc safety had been met and dealt with leagues away, before the gathering proper began. A small band of humans posed no threat to what appeared to be thousands of orcs. Any larger threat that may approach the gathering would have been dealt with the none too friendly orcs who had pulled patrol duty.

“No boasting rights may be claimed for killing at a gathering. Orcs adhere to a special truce at their gatherings. Humans at an orc gathering are the safest humans in all Gaia.” They repeated these words like a mantra, desperately calling upon whatever gods may be listening to uphold their truth.

Yet their sources appeared to be correct. While here they could still die at the hands or an orc, the changes of dieing at the hands of the same orc elsewhere were considerably higher. They watched the orcs fight, feast and fornicate with equal enthusiasm as they walked unmolested amongst those violent people.

Slowly they made their way inward, accepting the an ale here, or an offer to gamble or wrestle there, all the time learning more about orc culture and language. Hours spent here would teach them more about orcs than they could learn in years of pouring over dusty scrolls and tomes in great libraries of Chakar and Draskor.

Though most knew of, had met and spoke the language of the plentiful Darketa, or even the vicious, aloof Nar-Haaz, few knew of the Mâal. It was now that they marked members of this third nation of orcs, this sub species who hailed from the far south, making their home among the great southern peaks. The Mâal they saw looked at them in a way that chilled their human souls and reminded them just how precarious their situation was.

The wiry, mottle skinned Mâal sneered and spat at them and thought not verbalised, the looks on their faces threatened death. A drawn out painful death for sure if you were to become their prisoner a passing Darketa explained helpfully, laughing at their own joke. Fortunately most of the Mâal who were in attendance had congregated to the far southern side of the gathering and kept to themselves for the most part.

For that matter the Darketa and Nar-Haaz did not appear to socialise much with the Mâal. Darketa and Nar-Haaz also kept mostly to their own kind, but tended to mix better with each other when occasion permitted.

It started to rain. A steady summer downpour that continued into the night. Filth that had lain on the ground or in shallow trenches washed together into rivulets as the rain cleansed the field. Rivulets fed streams that became choked with filth which they disgorged into bigger streams and rivers which all headed west, down an indiscernible gradient and would eventually empty into the Sylmar river. River fish choked on water fouled with the effluent of twenty thousand orcs, but as the rain continued to fall and the cess trenches washed clear, fresh water entered the rivers and the fish breathed again.

Through the night and rain the orcs fought, fornicated and feasted. Bonfires spat and sizzled as all manner of beasts were roasted on them. A vast bonfire, ten times the size of any other was visible towards the centre of the gathering. They heard talks of the great beast roasting there: A dragon said some, a stoorwyrm said others. The tale of whom and how it was slain changed with each telling.

The orcs fought, feasted and fornicated. Their fighting was not usually lethal, and not always physical. They boasted and haggled, argued, wrestled and brawled in the mud. At times one would need to look twice to see if two orcs rolling in the mud were wrestling or fornicating. The concept of privacy and tents among orcs, although understood, were not always contextualised together. While an orc may use his tent to keep his armour and sword dry from the rain, or conclude a sneaky deal out of the eyes of his fellow orcs, he or she would fuck in public so as to make it easier to refresh their beer, boast of their prowess and speak to their mates at the same time.

As the night progressed and became an even more drunken orgy than the day had been most of them received sexual proposals from various orcs. Food was plentiful and willingly shared, with the smells of freshly roasted meat mingling with spicy stews bubbling in cauldrons and oneesha bread baking over low fires.

By morning the rain had slowed to a light drizzle. While masses of hung-over or still drunken orcs milled about, others could be seen oiling weapons and muscles. The few humans traders who had come to the gathering had long since departed with heavy purses and empty wagons. Slowly the populace began to make its way west, towards what appeared to be a small copse of trees still left standing. Beer still flowed. Spilled wine looted from Sylmar valley farmers ran in red rivulets between their feet as they joined the orcs making their way west, winding between tents, horses and comatose orcs.

Food was still plentiful and it was easy to slice a snag off of a cooling roast, or appropriate a mostly un-gnawed haunch or if not careful, find oneself eating a spicy mouth burning stew out of a scooped out hunk of hard oneesha bread – the consequences not fully understood until later.

The copse of trees was not what it had appeared to be from a distance. An orc made quadrant of raised earth was flanked on three sides by the “trees” which now that they were closer, could be seen to be a myriad of war banners on long poles. The western side of the quadrant which was furthest from them was empty of banners. The banner poles were made of various materials, though mostly wood some were of bone and some even of bronze and whale ivory. Each banner represented a specific clan, while each side of the square, barring the empty western side, represented a specific nation of orcs, Nar-Haaz on the north, Darketa on the east and Mâal on the south.

This was the square, the main reason for the orc gathering. The place where the three nations put down their weapons and met in peace to boast, affirm alliances and feuds, demonstrate skill at arms and make orc policy. The gathering was a rare occurrence, few orcs saw one, a very small number ever saw two.

They were of a select small group, daring, human and perhaps very stupid. They were of a fraction of a percentage of humans ever to behold the wonder of an orc gathering – in all its fun, filth and fury.

This article was originally published on VI April MMIX

Melee Weapons

A list of alternative or out of ordinary melee weapons and their statistics for RuneQuest play.


The pilum was actually a heavy javelin used by the Roman legions. Later on, variants were developed for melee use. The melee pilum was made out of wood and was shorter (1,83 meters) that the missile pilum. Its primary use was to thrust at the enemy from ramparts and to create pickets. Some versions were sharpened on both ends. For ease of play, the melee versions statistics have not been altered here.


A short hafted stabbing spear invented by Shaka Zulu. It has a broad iron blade and short wooden haft. Similar in purpose to a gladius, vis-à-vis, to get in close to ones enemy and draw him into single combat, thereby forcing him away from his formation. The broad blade leaves a nasty wound but, being made of iron, is not too strong against metal armour.

Cestus Maximus

A combination of the heavy cestus and the fighting claw. Allows the wearer to pack more weight behind their fighting claw, thereby doing more damage. Also gives the user the advantage of their melee weapon having armour points.


A set of oversize metal jaws inset with steel canines. Fitted tight over the jaws of the wearer and secured with leather straps around the back of the head, the real and metal jaws move in sequence. A biting action will produce an exaggerated mirror action from the chompers. Chompers have no practical every day use, but can have great intimidation value in battle, especially when forming part of an imposing helm or mask. Chompers are mostly used in the fighting pit.


A roman cavalry sword, similar to the gladius but longer.

Jawbone Sword

Inspired by a Dark Ages Miniature. This sword is a partially modified jawbone of some great reptile or fish. It bristles with razor sharp teeth down its curved length and can be deadly when used against an unarmoured/soft armoured foe.

Dark Ages Miniatures – Crocodile Warrior with Jaw Sword

Razor Nails

Razor sharp steel blades, manufactured to look like a cats claws. They are usually half a centimeter high at the base and half again as wide, narrowing down to a needle point over their 3 centimeter length. Blunt down their convex back, their concave inner is usually extremely sharp. Inferior quality versions come as uniform rings which slip over the end of the wearers fingers, or embedded into a leather glove. Razor nails of a high craftsmanship have been known to come in many forms, the most exquisite being set into a series of rings, one for between each finger joint. The blades (blunt for areas that ride against the finger) have stretched all the way across the back of the hand where they have proceeded to merge into a jeweled, but sturdy bracelet. Each blade has been tailored for the finger it is to slip on, with the thumb blade being thicker and stronger, to allow for an effective scissoring effect with the finger blades. Clearly these items are not meant for battle against armoured foes, but rather as subtle but effective weapons for high ranking ladies, sorcerers and other people who would cringe from having to carry a dagger or sword. Due to the small amount of damage that razor nails can inflict, they are often poisoned to enhance their lethality.

Toe Ring

Originating from India, this device slips over the big toe. A sharp, 5 centimeter barb protrudes from the ring at an angle. A practiced kick can have the often poisoned barb strike an enemy with all the force of the wearers leg. toe rings were often used in gladiatorial type combat, where the combatants did not have much protection in the way of armour.


A heavy three pronged fork, used as a two handed weapon.. Similar to a spear in that it can be thrown, but is usually used in melee situations. Looks like I should read my RQ material more closely. just realized they have stats for Trident and Combat Net in the Monster Coliseum supplement. The Monster Coliseum Trident is a one handed weapon. For the sake of RQ rules consistency, the tridents are listed under the spear weapon category.

Combat Net

From the Monster Coliseum supplement. Full rules for ensnaring etc are given in the Monster Coliseum.

CategoryWeapon DamageSTR/DEXENCBS%ArmourSRPrice
Spear, 1HPilum1D6 + 19/72.005102125
Spear, 1HIkilwa1D86/81.5076260
Spear, 1HTrident1D6+19/72.00592125
Spear, 2H Trident1D12+29/112.005131175
FistCestus Maximus1D4+211/91.5153170
FistRazor Nails1D24/50.1153100+
FootToe Ring1D35/110.115370
SwordJawbone Sword1D127/131.0105240
NetCombat Net1D4*12/103.00.561150

* A successful attack will ensnare the target, as long as targets SIZ is 20 or less. Ensnared targets can escape by Ripping Free (match STR vs. Nets STR {usually 2D6 +14, depends on quality and purpose}), Cutting Free (awkward, GM’s discretion to be used), or Burning the Net (if it can be set alight – the target may also get burned in the process). Dodging vs. Net is done at a -10 due to the Nets effective area. Successful parries will lead to the parrying weapon/shield and the arm using it becoming ensnared.

Shields and Armour

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


The RQ III rules refer to the large, heavy rectangular shield used by Roman legionaries as a hoplite shield. This is incorrect, the shields name is a scutum.

Soldiers bearing pre Marian scutum


A large cow hide shield favored by many Southern African tribes. Thebe is the Sotho word for this shield, Isihlangu the Zulu version.

These are not a one size fits all shield style. Each nation has its own distinct design and usage. Only two of many nations’ signature shields are mentioned here, more by way of evidencing the differences, rather than similarities.

The thebe shield is quite small and would act much like a target shield in terms of RuneQuest rules. It has an interesting shape with a broad upper portion to provide torso coverage form missiles.

Sotho warrior with thebe shield

The isihlangu shield is possibly more universally familiar due to the well published accounts of Zulu warriors and their battles with other tribes and later with the British. This oval shaped shield is often as tall or sometimes even taller than the warrior that carries it. Widest at the middle, it tapers to a point at each end. It is usually slightly convex, to allow missiles and poorly thrust weapons to glance off. The concavity on the bearers side can be used to store items such as weapons and rations. They are made by stretching cow hide over a light wooden frame. Due to their size and relatively light weight, the shields can be used to form shield walls, testudo or phalanxes. They will effectively cover the legs, torso and shield arm in combat. In fact it will cover the whole body if the user crouches behind it, but the combatant will have to expose head, part of chest and weapon arm to strike. As a result it is very effective when seeking cover from missile weapons.

In terms of RuneQuest rules, coverage may be best likened to a kite or scutum shield, although due to size perhaps more body areas may be covered. The shield would still be relatively light, not carry too many AP, but at the same time create a degree of encumbrance due to its size.

Zulu warriors with their isihlangu shields


Alternative occupations for RuneQuest 3rd edition.

Medicine Man

An alternative to the Shaman Occupation.

Medicine Man, Primitive
Some adventurers do not have the skills or desire to become a shaman. Alternately, their tribe may Frown upon magic. A healer with plant knowledge and skill in setting broken bones is still a basic necessity in a primitive tribe. Medicine men also take on the roll of tribe historian/story teller in many cases. To this extent, a medicine man may even exist alongside a shaman in bigger tribes.

Skills: Throw x 1, Orate x 2, Sing x 2, Speak own language x 1, Animal lore x 1, Plant lore x 3, Human lore x 3, Mineral lore x 1, Read/Write own language x 1 (Pictograms/paintings), First aid x 3, Listen x 2, Devise x 1, Search x 2, Fist attack x 1, Dagger attack x 1, 1H spear or club attack x 1, Dodge x 1.
Magic: 1D3-1 points at 15 years of age plus 1 point per every 10 years or part thereof.
Equipment: Cultural weapons, knife, gourds, fire maker, fur and leather clothing, sack with herbs and medicines, drawing charcoal, wax and trinkets/totems to the value of 10 pennies.

Nomad Trader

Nomads also need to trade.

Trader, Nomad
Some nomads tribes trade goods with the people whose lands they travel through. This is usually the forte of each individual Tribesman, but in larger or more organized tribes, there occasionally arises a quick tongued person who can specialize in making a quick profit. Nomad traders will often be asked to make profitable deals on behalf of their other tribesmen. Be that selling the crafters wares or procuring a pretty bride for their chieftain.

Skills: Ride x 2, Throw x 1, Fast talk x 3, Orate x 1, Speak own language x 3, Speak other language x 2 (or speak 2 other languages x 1 each), Evaluate x 3, First aid x 1, Human lore x 3, Read/Write other language x 1, Conceal x 1, Sleight x 2, Devise x 1, Scan x 2, Fist attack x 2, Dagger attack x 2, 1H Weapon attack x 1 or missile weapon x 1, Dodge x 3. Magic: 1D3-1 points at 15 years of age plus 1 point per every 10 years or part thereof.
Equipment: Leather clothing (1-point protection), 1 item fine clothing or armor, knife, dagger, water skins, fire maker, 50m rope, riding animal, 2 sacks and assorted trade goods worth 150 pennies, 20 pennies in assorted coin.

Serving Wench

Who else is going to serve the ale and take the abuse of a taverns patrons. Conan the barbarian must have made many serving wenches rich in his time.

Serving Wench, Civilized
Most every tavern in civilized lands employ women to serve their patrons. Serving wenches are clever gatherers of information, friendly company or comely redistributors of wealth. Many a drunken adventurer has lightened his purse considerable in the company of a buxom serving wench. Serving wenches often endure their somewhat demeaning employment while they await a chance to enter a more exciting or rewarding occupation. Although this occupation is aimed principally at female characters, there is no reason why a male character cannot perform its functions. E.G.: In a tavern frequented by amazons.

Skills: Throw x 2, Fast-talk x 3, Orate x 2, Speak own language x 1, Speak other language x 2 (or Speak two other languages x 1 each), Human lore x 3, Plant lore x 1 or World lore x 1, Evaluate x 3, First aid x 2, Conceal x 2, Sleight x 4, Listen x 1, Scan x 1, Fist attack x 2, Kick x 2, Grapple x 1, Dagger attack x 4, Dodge x 2, Throwing knife x 2. Magic: Roll D100 for the magic system available to the adventurer. Do not change magic system before play begins.

01 – 75
Divine Magic: Your adventurer’s parents worship the ruling god (see Divine Magic chapter of the Magic book). Your adventurer can automatically become an Initiate of that god, whether or not she has a positive magic skills modifier (see Civilized Initiate occupation). She will then receive both Initiate and normal occupational experience.

76 – 00
: Your adventurer receives 1D3-1 sorcery spells at age 15, plus one additional sorcery spell for every 5 years or fraction thereafter. She also receives Intensity x 1 or Ceremony x 1 or World lore x 1, Enchant x 1 or Summon x 1and spells x 2 (allot the percentiles among known spells as desired).
Equipment: Linen and wool clothing, Scanty costume, knife, bronze dagger, fire maker and tinder, 2-hour candle, sack, bottle of spirits, wineskin (full), blanket, 30 pennies in coin, assorted jewelry worth 200 pennies.


Many new skills can be thought up. Some are suggested in the Deluxe rules, such as Scout (Terrain). Vis-à-vis a character who served as a soldier in mainly forest areas, may have learned how to scout in forest terrain. Thus his scout skill would be pretty useful for a party sneaking through the forest, but of little use in the desert. New skills are listed here as they are thought up.


BASE: 05%

Acrobatics Agility 05% The special ability to perform and acrobatic feat. Acrobatics is more advanced than simply jumping or dodging, it is a skill that takes a large amount of training to learn. Acrobatic feats can be used for entertainment (tumbling), in other, more stealthier activities (burglary) or even in combat. It should be the GMs discretion to call for an Acrobatics roll where a situation dictates that a simpler skill (such as Jump) may not suffice.


CATEGORY: Communication
BASE: 05%

In times gone by, a good insult was a prerequisite to any battle. No warrior worth his salt would deign to enter battle without severely insulting his enemies. A skilled insulter need not speak the language of the person he is insulting – body language and crude gestures can convey much. A successful insult roll can demoralize a foe (He only attacks at half his normal skill – See Demoralize Spririt Magic spell). Of course, a taunted foe can resist using his own Insult skill – A skilled insulter will be able to take what he gets.

Rope Tricks

BASE: 10%

Rope tricks refers to the ability to work with rope, twine or similar items. This includes tasks such as tying knots as well as performing certain tasks with a rope – for example: tying a knot in one end of a rope and throwing it to hook a prison guards keys. Clearly this must be an agility skill, rather than manipulation as tying knots would otherwise work under a boat skill and most rope tricks involve some sort of throwing. This skill does not surmount specialist rope skills, such as using a net or rope lasso.


BASE: 00%

Row referrs to the ability to handle an oar on a large oar powered ship, such as on of the many configurations of galley or a viking long ship. A rower has to work in unison with other rowers and thus the skill is much more involved than that of handling a simple boat or canoe. Rowing is a profession that can pay well at times. On a galley, the crew and marines rely on rowers to keep them afloat and bring them in range of enemy shipping. A row check will usually be made when a specific skilled task is performed, such as ramming, or in other high stress situations.


CATEGORY: Knowledge
BASE: 00%

This ability allows a character to increase the number of Fatigue Points gained during a period of rest by mentally blocking out all stress-causing factors. A successful roll means 1d3+1 Fatigue Points will be regained per round. One round, during which no roll is allowed, is required to obtain the proper frame of mind. A new roll is required each time the character wishes to ignore an interruption. Coming out of meditation is instantaneous. While meditating, all Perception rolls receive a 20% penalty. Note: This skill is published with thanks to David Smart from the RuneQuest Rules List. It is a house rule he has used for a long time so cannot vouch entirely for whether it is original or based on an idea from elsewhere.

RuneQuest Resources

Quick Roll Up Guide

The RuneQuest III rules assume that a character starts working at 15 years of age. Therefore his or her skills are based on the years in an occupation after that age.

Herewith a quick reference for rolling up new characters:

  1. Decide what Age, Sex and Culture you character will be.
  2. Decide what the characters parent’s occupation is.
  3. Decide if your character remained in his parents occupation until his current age, or whether he tried other occupations
  4. If your character tried other occupations, decide the periods in each. Remember at least a year must be spent to accumulate the skills allocated by that occupation. Remember that equipment obtained in occupations is not cumulative
  5. Apply the formula: Age x Multiplier + Base + Modifier. Where Age is Age – 15 years (if you stayed in your parents occupation), or the number of years in an occupation (per occupation), Multiplier is the multiplier given by an occupation, e.g.: Throw x 3, Base is your base ability, e.g.: Agility = 3 and Modifier is the skill modifier if applicable, e.g.: First Aid (10) vis add 10.
    NB: Check the cultural weapons table when allocating weapon skills as the modifier’s can differ from the standard weapons table.

Character skills are split up between several self-explanatory categories:

  • Agility
  • Communications
  • Knowledge
  • Perception
  • Manipulation
  • Stealth
  • Magic

Each of these categories is used to modify a skill within that category. This modifier can be increase or decrease an overall skill and is worked out from a character’s basic statistics as per the following formula:
PRIMARY: Statistic minus 10. Thus if STR is 17 its PRIMARY will be +7. Note that negative results remain negative, vis-à-vis a STR of 8 will produce a PRIMARY of -2.
SECONDARY: Statistic minus 10, divide the result by 2 and round total up. From the above; STR is 17, its SECONDARY would be 4 IE: (17-10)/2. Negative results will remain negative.
NEGATIVE: Statistic minus 10. Insert a minus sign in front of result. From the above; STR is 17, its NEGATIVE would be -7. Note that is the result is already negative, adding a minus sign will make the result positive. From the above; STR is 8, its NEGATIVE would be +2.

Note: Try not to confuse NEGATIVE with its mathematical meaning, as the results of a formula may contradict its strict meaning. IE: A NEGATIVE formula may have a positive result.

These formula are applied for a reason; to create realistic characters. A huge (SIZ 18) clumsy (DEX 7) character will not have a decent Stealth modifier, in fact his Stealth will likely be a minus. thus a player should be careful with how characters statistics are applied. The best way is to have an even mix where a good statistic will negate any bad statistic while applying the formula.

Remember that a characters Agility modifier is applied to his or her weapons attack skill while the Manipulation modifier is applied to the Parry skill. Thus if a character plans to do any fighting (usually an unavoidable happening in Rune Quest), it would be helpful to have decent modifiers for these Categories. Remember too that Dodge (sometimes the last hope of savings a characters skin) is and Agility based skill.

Downloadable templates I created for RuneQuest 3rd edition some years ago.


I have never been satisfied with the basic characters sheets offered by most old school RPG’s. A single page, while handy as a starting point, was never sufficient to contain all the details required for a decent three dimensional character.

This enhanced sheet is based on a friends basic design concept, which I subsequently re imagined to fit my own style.

GM Log

A simple two page document that can be used to assist Game Masters keep track of characters in an adventure.

NPC Card Template

This document provides a template for NPC cards. These tarot size items can be completed and then cut out, with the reverse folded back.

They can provide a useful way to have a pool of prepared NPC’s ready for any eventuality. It is also handy to have some blanks available for NPC’s who crop up on the fly.

GM Shield

A bit old school, but can be a useful resource. Six pages of RQ3 tables which can be printed and glued to a cardboard backing to create a handy quick reference for GM and players.

Six Barbarians

Using the RuneQuest NPC card template I created six random barbarian personalities.

Sever Spirit

This spell was mentioned on page 18 of the Gamemaster Book (RQIII AH version) but was never published in the Magic Book. Details are transcribed from Heroes Magazine Vol 1 No 6 . Republished here as a service to RuneQuesters who do not have access to the magazine in question.

Avalon Hill Heroes Magazine. volume 1 Number 6 cover

Sever Spirit

3 points
Instant, non-stackable, reusable
War God

This spell acts as a sword to cut the bond between body and spirit of the target. The user must make a successful magic points verses magic points roll. If successful, the target dies. If unsuccessful, the target takes 1D6 damage to his general hit points, with effects similar to poison damage.

Moon Spear

A cult spell for the Moon Goddess. May her radiant face shine upon us.

Moon Spear

3 Points
Instant, Nonstackable, Reusable
Moon Goddess

This spell works only when the moon is directly visible. When cast, an icy moonbeam freezes one caster-designated target.

The target must be visible to the caster and the moon must be in plain sight of the target. Without needing to overcome magic points, a 1-metre-diameter cylinder of damage descends on the target.

very living thing within the circle receives 1D6 damage per quarter phase of the moon. Hence 4D6 for full moon, 3D6 for three quarter moon etc. Only soft leather or cloth armour will protect against this damage; spells are ineffective. The number of moons visible and whether the same goddess has influence over them will further sway damage. Thus is two moons are full, visible and influenced by the same goddess, damage could potentially be 8D6.

Moonspear was initially published II September MMIV

Evokers and Verve Effects

Arthur Reyes compiled an interesting article detailing two new magic systems.


This is the first draft of a magic system I am writing for my current work-in-progess. The setting is science-fantasy, influenced by a number of games, settings, and sci-fi/fan authors, so some of the details have a pseudo-scientific feel to them. Some details will seem strange or hopefully enticing, and I mention a few attributes/terms that are new to my setting. (My ruleset is a mix of RQ3, Stormbringer 1, HarnMaster 3) All of this, of course, could be changed pretty easily while still retaining the mechanic.


There are many unexplained phenomena in the universe, but two of these phenomena are so common and understood well enough, that they can be reproduced and taught. Evocation is the manipulation of ethereal matter. Psionics are incredible powers of the mind. Other types of magic exist as well. Verve effects, which are a natural form of exercising mental fortitude. Symbiosis, which is the strange practice of integrating one’s being with organic life forms found on the planet Vainu.

Evocation Magic

Magic in the Glittering Void is created via willful manipulation of the essence of ethereal pseudo-matter to produce matter and energy in various forms. The illithid manipulated essence using machines to produce matter for building their cities and slave-moons. Many of these machines are found through-out the glittering void, but are under strict control of various guilds and governments. When a new machine is discovered, there is usually an intensive struggle among existing guilds to acquire such devices.

Pseudo-matter can be extracted from the ethereal plane and stored within specially prepared vessels. If released into the Prime, pseudo matter will spontaneously take on random elemental forms resulting in sometimes spectacular displays. Once stored, a person can, with intense effort, will raw pseudo-matter to take on a desired element and form.

1 measure of pseudo-matter can affect or create up to six enc (1 SIZ) of real matter. Evoking any fraction of six enc of real matter uses the entire measure of pseudo-matter. Six measures of pseudo-matter weigh 1 enc.

Pseudo-matter remains under the mental control of the creature which last touched it.

Pseudo-matter is a grey misty substance. It is the raw material of the universe from which all matter is created. It is sometimes referred to as ether or ethereal matter, named after the plane from which it is drawn. All evocations require a certain amount of pseudo-matter to be on hand.
Unformed Pseudo-Matter is magical, meaning that an evoker can turn measures of pseudo-matter into magic points. One measure of pseudo-matter can be turned into one MP for free. In actuality, more magic points are created, but it costs magic points to manipulate pseudo-matter in the first place. The skill required to do so is based on the lowest skill of Earth, Fire, Air or Water. These magic points can be used immediately, in conjunction with another evocation, or placed in a nearby magic point matrix. If the magic points are to be used in combination with another evocation, roll against the lowest skill of all the elements and forms involved. If the roll fails, all the pseudo matter is expended. A critical failure can result in catastrophic results.

Evocation Skills
The art of evocation requires the caster to have both INT and POW (or at least MP reserve). Each element requires its own skill in order to evoke the element properly. There are also Form Skills which measure the evoker’s ability to mold ether into a desired shape.
Failing an evocation results in the loss of one magic point, and all pseudo matter involved in the evocation. A critical failure can result in catastrophic results.

Learning Evocation Skills
Form skills are the only ones that are actually taught to an apprentice. Since an individual need only see a rainbow, experience heat, or drink water in order to get an inkling of various elements and forces, all element skills are immediately available to the apprentice. These skills are opened with a rating of the characters Magic Skill Modifier + d6.

Evocation Equipment
Every evoker requires two pieces of equipment in order to apply their craft.

Gloves of Manipulation
This dull gray hand gear, when primed, allows the evoker to reach into the pseudo-barrier of a vessel to extract ethereal matter. It costs 1 MP to prime a pair of gloves, which remains primed for as long as the evoker wears the gloves. It costs 1 point of POW to create the gloves, and this is the final lesson that every graduating journeyman learns before stepping forth into the world.

Vessels come in a variety of shapes. A typical vessel is made of a glass like material, in order to see its contents, and has 3 AP. One end has a pseudo-barrier which prevents ethereal matter from making contact with the physical world, but allowing primed gloves to reach through or interact with the vessel’s contents.
A common hip vessel is typically 3 – 4 enc in size, holding 18 – 24 measures of pseudo-matter. Smaller amulets of size 1 hold 6 measures of pseudo-matter. Remember, an evoker can only draw essence from one vessel at a time.
An evoker can create a vessel by expending 1 point of POW.
If a vessel is broken, the contents will sudden react with the Prime Material Plane transforming into random amounts of various elements. This is rarely damaging in an of itself, but a GM may decide that a critical failure on a Simple Luck roll produces an extraordinary effect.

Staff of the Ethereal Eye
These rare illithid artifacts are capped with tiny portals to the ethereal plane. By expending magic points, an evoker can open the eye releasing ethereal matter as needed. Some staves are limited by the amount of ether which can be released in a single melee round.

Goggles of Ethereal Sight
These relatively common devices are used by most merchants to prevent them from being swindled by conmen. They allow the wearer to quickly determine whether an object is relatively permanent or under the effect of an evoker’s temporary pseudo-matter matrix.

Each evocation requires the caster to evoke One Element and One Form. The caster wills pseudo-matter to take on the quality of a certain element in the desired form. It costs 1 MP for each measure of pseudo-matter to be manipulated.
Evoking an element will produce the most generic example of such an element. Evoking water will produce the liquid, but it is not guaranteed to be pure or drinkable. It costs one additional MP per measure to produce a specific example of an element.
An evoker may attempt complex elemental compositions, such as a Radiant Ice Bolt, or Smoking Water for example. While such evocations do not require additional measures of pseudo-matter, they do require one addition MP per element evoked up to four points per measure. Evokers use the lowest skill among the evoked Elements or Form to determine success. They may not evoke complex forms.

Limits to Evocation

  • You cannot evoke living things, or the product of a living thing, such as a bird or a sandwich.
  • You cannot directly evoke Positive or Negative Energy.
  • You cannot evoke complex objects, such as moving parts.
  • You must be able to see your target. You can’t evoke into a closed box.
  • An evoker may only draw pseudo-matter from one source at a time.

While it is possible to evoke Minerals into the shape of a sword, without knowledge of actual sword forging or metallurgy, the object will be a sword at least in appearance. It will not be sharp and will likely break on first use. In order to evoke an object of quality, the caster’s evocation skill roll must be equal to or lower than the appropriate knowledge or craft skill.
For this reason, an artisan will typically evoke raw material, and then work it with more mundane skills.

Rule of Four
If the GM cannot determine what the elemental composition of an object is, she is free to rule that it is a complex object requiring a base of 4 MP per measure of pseudo-matter being shaped, instead of one.

Elements can be evoked into a variety of shapes and functions. The multiplier after the Form name is the additional cost in magic points to produce such an affect.

Touch, Maintainable
An existing object is touched and imbued with the desired element to make it more like the element in question. Objects can be granted luster with Radiance, grow hot with Fire, or become incorporeal with Air or Mist. Books can be made flame-retardant with Water, or a suit can become wrinkle free with Steam.
An antipathic effect damages the object. A sympathetic effect enhances or makes the object resistant to the elemental effect. Causing paper to catch fire is an example of an antipathy effect. Making paper fire-retardant is sympathetic.
The duration of Antipathy/Sympathy is instantaneous, and can be maintained by a number of time units equal to POW. The unit of time that this duration is measured in is subject to a magic point multiplier. To make the Antipathy/Sympathy effect permanent, sacrifice one point of POW.

Time Unit Multiplier:

  • Rounds x2
  • Minutes x3
  • Hours x4
  • Days x5
  • Months x6
  • Years x7

Ki’rin is running down a hallway, trying to escape her beholder friend who has gone temporarily insane. She comes to a dead-end. She decides to make a nearby wall sympathetic to Air, thereby making it insubstantial long enough to slip through. Based on Ki’rin’s size of 9, the GM rules that she can barely squeeze through a hole of size 6. She doesn’t want to risk getting stuck in the wall once the effect ends, but she doesn’t want to maintain the spell in case her crazy friend catches up with her. Ki’rin decides to make a size 12 hole, using 2 measures of pseudo-matter. The wall will remain sympathetic to Air for less than 1 round, giving Ki’rin enough time to squeeze through the opening.

Imbuing living things with pseudo-matter is random, incredibly dangerous, and possibly fatal. First, the evoker requires one measure of pseudo-matter on hand for each point of the target’s SIZ. Secondly, the evoker must touch the target and overcome the targets POW on the resistance table, with his own magic points. If the target fails, they must make a Simple Luck roll. If the Luck roll succeeds, the target is sympathetically attuned to the element, regardless of the evoker’s intent. If the Luck roll fails, the target then must make an Integrity roll. Failing the integrity roll, the target explodes. Take the size of the target and look up the resultant damage from the Bolt Table. Now double the dice. The blast is increased by one hex for each 6 points of size the target had.

Throw, Instant
The evoker wills pseudo-matter to remain unformed while held in the hand. She then throws the ether, wiling it to become a bolt as it is released. Not every bolt will do damage, but non-damaging affects are possible. Radiance can be used to blind. Vacuum could cause a singer to lose his breath. The table below can be used to determine how much damage is caused by the bolt, or a resistance the target must roll against to overcome its affects.

An evoker must succeed at a Throw attempt in order to successfully strike a target.

Measure Roll
1 D3

If Ki’rin were to fire a d10 bolt at a rushing guard, she would need 4 measures of pseudo-matter.

Line of Sight, Maintainable
The evocation creates a beam of element force emanating from the caster in a straight line toward the target. The number of measures to create the beam; per the damage table for bolt; is the same number required for each hex the beam will travel through. Beams nearly always hit. The chance of missing might be adjusted if vision is impaired.

Later on, the beholder manages to corner Ki’rin in the mess hall. Ki’rin doesn’t really want to injure her friend, but she is seriously reconsidering their relationship. She is running low on both pseudo-matter and magic points, and decides to gamble it all. She informs the GM that she is going to invoke a beam of radiance, hoping to blind the beholder. The beholder is three hexes away. She decides on an d8 affect (3 measures), which would use up the last of her (3 x 3) 9 measures. She can’t afford to extend the duration, but she is guaranteed a successful strike in this well lit room. Since radiance doesn’t really damage non-photosensitive objects, the GM decides that the damage roll will be a resistance roll against the beholder’s CON. Since the thing is all eyes anyway, he decides to double whatever Ki’rin rolls. Luckily Ki’rin rolls an 8. 16 vs the beholders CON of 13 is just enough to blind the beholder who breaks down into a sobbing fit.

Throw, Instant – Maintainable
Like a bolt, unformed pseudo-matter is thrown toward a target. On impact, the element is released in a radius. The size of the blast costs a number of measures per the Bolt Table and 6 additional measures for each hex outward from the point of impact.

By imbuing the bolt with extra pseudo-matter, the blast can be maintained for a certain time. You could for example, throw a ball of shadow at a lamp, suppressing its luminosity for several minutes.
The inner blast radius, being the point of impact and ½ the number of hexes in the radius receives full damage. The outer blast radius receives ½ damage.

Ki’rin wishes to throw a ball of fire that will do d8 damage on impact. She wants the radius of the blast to be two hexes in size. This will require 3 measures for damage, plus 12 for the increased radius for a total of 15 measures of pseudo-matter.

~, Maintainable
The element is evoked outward from the caster in all directions. Emanations require 6 measures of pseudo matter for each hex in the radius of the effect, after the first. See the description of blast for damaging effect. The evocation does not affect the caster.

Ki’rin is about to be grappled by several fortress guards. She decides to create a sudden emanation of Air in order to knock back her attackers. Using 11 measures of pseudo-matter, she can create a two hex emanation of air with a d12 intensity.

Touch, Permanent
The evoker wills an element into being gradually, between his open hands, without explosion. An object created takes on the form desired by the caster but will retain its form only if the element is solid. Such an object is permanent. An evoker could, for example, evoke water in the shape of a column, but as soon as the evocation ends, the column will splash to the ground.

POS +RadianceLightningMineralsRainbowsPositveShadows

Verve Effects

Anyone with POW has the ability to prepare themselves in advance of a situation. This is like psyching yourself out before rushing into combat, or bracing yourself to look into a semi-opened coffin. Heroes and Villains can do this automatically, while NPCs can do this so infrequently that it isn’t worth determining its probability.

Verve effects are very much like a limited form of psionic ability. Many psionicists have attempted to prove or disprove Verve as being anything other than vague manifestations of latent psionic ability, but the results have, as yet, been inconclusive. Verve differ from psionics in that there is no philosophical body of knowledge, learning, or training involved in honing these skills.

A character can produce one Verve affect as an action in melee. The effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the character’s POW. Only one effect may be in play at a time, and attempting a different effect ends the previous effect immediately. The cost is 1 – 3 MP.

Steel Mind
This verve effect prepares your mind to see awful things, or to shut out distractions. The character gets a +5% boost to their Static SAN Score for each MP spent.

Steel Body
Sometimes you know you’re going to get hurt. This Verve effect revs you up and prepares you for it so it doesn’t hurt so much when it happens. The character gets 1 HP for each MP spent.

Steel Being
This verve effect prepares you to resist the corruption of Chaos. The character receives a +5% boost to their Integrity Score for each MP Spent.

Elemental Sorcery

Chris Robb developed this sorcery system of elemental magic. It uses standard sorcery skills (Intensity, duration, etc) and allows the sorcerer to use the forces of Air, Darkness, Earth, Fire, Light & Water.


Elemental Sorcerers use the same basic skills as Standard Sorcerers;

Ceremony, Enchantment & Ritual as well as the following:

Intensity, Duration. Range. Multi-Spell

They also have a new skills called Forms.

New Skill: FORMS
Allows for shaping of effects


All FORMS are in 10′ units as a base, and doubles in size with each additional point of intensity.
All FORMS (Except EARTH) require Duration to sustain it. (Earth forms are always permanent)
CONE – (05)
Closed end towards caster, 10′ long, 10′ wide at open end (Range for Cones is how far the cone extends from the caster.)
SPHERE – (05)
10′ diameter. (Range for Spheres is a distance away from the caster that the sphere forms)
WALL – (05)
10′ tall, 10′ long, 1′ thick. (Range for Walls is the distance away from the caster that the wall forms)
10′ tall, 10′ diameter
RING – (05)
10′ tall, 10′ diameter, 1′ thick. (Range for Rings is how far the ring extends from the caster)
CUBE – (05)
10′ tall, 10′ wide, 10′ deep. (Range for cubes is how far from the caster the cube forms)
WAVE – (00)
This is a special form of rings & walls. It will move from the caster to the end of its range.

Elemental forces are:

  • AIR
  • FIRE

Air does 1pt of direct damage per point on Intensity. It does no static damage.
When used as an assistive/resistive force 1pt of Intensity will move 2pts of size, or equal 2pts of strength.

Darkness does no damage, it is used for effects.

Earth does 1D6 Damage per point of Intensity. It causes no static damage.
When used as an assistive/resistive force 1pt of Intensity will move 5pts of size, or equal 5pts of strength.

Fire does 1D8 damage per point of Intensity. It does 1pt damage per point as static damage.
Fire cannot be used as an assistive or resistive force.

Light does no damage, it is used for effects.

Water does 1D6 damage per point of Intensity. It does no static damage.
When used as an assistive/resistive force 1pt of Intensity will move 3pts of size, or equal 3pts of strength.

Elementals come in 4 sizes:

  • Small : 5pts
  • Medium : 10pts
  • Large : 15pts
  • Huge : 20pts

Normal Success : 1 Service
Special Success : 2 Services
Critical Success : 3 Services

Chris’ article was originally published II June MMX