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Wednesday 18 March 2020

Jonstown Jottings #11: Spirits of Madness

Much like the Miskatonic Repository for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, the  Jonstown Compendium is a curated platform for user-made content, but for material set in Greg Stafford's mythic universe of Glorantha. It enables creators to sell their own original content for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and HeroQuest Glorantha (Questworlds). This can include original scenarios, background material, cults, mythology, details of NPCs and monsters, and so on, but none of this content should be considered to be ‘canon’, but rather fall under ‘Your Glorantha Will Vary’. This means that there is still scope for the authors to create interesting and useful content that others can bring to their Glorantha-set campaigns.


What is it?
Monster of the Month #1: Spirits of Madness is a short supplement presenting a new monster and a means of handling insanity in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

It is a five page, full colour, 2.22 MB PDF.

Monster of the Month #1: Spirits of Madness is well presented and decently written, but it does need another edit.

Where is it set?
Madness spirits can be introduced to anywhere where an insane person can be found or to places strong in the Moon Rune, such as Lunar temples. They may be found in Dragon Pass in the ruins of New Lunar Temple—the site of the Dragonrise—and the ruins of Whitewall, as well as sites where the Lunar Colleges of Magic summoned great powers, for example, at Moonbroth Oasis.

Who do you play?
Madness spirits are a variant of disease spirits which inflict insanity rather than pestilence.

What do you need?
Monster of the Month #1: Spirits of Madness requires both RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and RuneQuest – Glorantha Bestiary

What do you get?
Madness spirits work just like disease spirits in that they initiate spirit combat in order to overpower their victims and infect them with insanity rather than pestilence. Notably they are not attracted to victims already infected by other madness spirits and a shaman already twisted by a madness spirit, might actually try and command other madness spirits to infect others.

Once infected by an insanity—and some ten are listed, from Vestiphobia to Chaophilia—the insanity is treated like a Passion, which the Game Master can check to see if the player character will act in accordance with the effects of the insanity. The Passion also represents the acute degree of the illness. Continued resistance to the insanity is handled by Intelligence checks, which if successful will reduce the Passion, if failed will increase it.

Madness spirits have a trap-like quality, lurking in ruins to attack the unwary and this aspect is nicely illustrated with an fully worked example encounter. Unfortunately, Monster of the Month #1: Spirits of Madness does not explore the idea of those already infected with a madness spirit with examples. Nor does it give any scenario hooks which the Game Master could develop for her own campaign. Another issue is that only ten example insanities are given, but to be fair RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is not a roleplaying game in which insanity plays a major role.

Is it worth your time?
Yes. If you are running a campaign or adventure which involves delving into Lunar ruins or the side effects of the conflict with the Lunar Empire or you want to introduce an intriguing, insidious, and challenging variant of disease spirits, then Monster of the Month #1: Spirits of Madness will be of interest to you.
No. If you do not want to explore or add insanity and its effects to your campaign, then Monster of the Month #1: Spirits of Madness will not be of interest to you.
Maybe. What is included is solid, but unfortunatelyMonster of the Month #1: Spirits of Madness does not quite as develop all of the ideas it suggests or support them with an example.

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