Cults of Prax and its companion, Cults of Terror, the cults of Orlanth, Humakt, Ernalda, Yelmalio, Kygor Litor, Zorak Zoran, and many others have even entered the roleplaying lexicon. Each provided beliefs, outlook, and spells, and in play even roleplaying hooks. However, having access to all of these cults has historically been something of an issue, the last complete treatment of Glorantha’s gods and cults being GloranthanClassics Volume III – Cult Compendium, which collates material from Cults of Prax, Cults of Terror, and Trollpak, and more. One of the plans for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha was to produce its own similar tome, Cults of Glorantha, initially in a two-volume set—now only to be seen in a limited ashcan edition released at Gen Con. Instead, the Cults of RuneQuest is to be a ten-volume series, each entry dealing with particular pantheons and aspects of Glorantha’s mythologies.
Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia is the first volume in the series from Chaosium, Inc.. It is essentially an encyclopaedia to the gods and other mythological figures and groups of the fantasy world of Glorantha and contains hundreds of entries. Entries are arranged alphabetically as you would expect. Some entries only receive a single paragraph, for example, Delaeo, Goddess of Fortune, Good Luck, and Wealth, Lanbril, King of Thieves, and Zistor, The God Machine of the Dwarfs. Others, however, are accorded two more paragraphs, such as Babeestor Gor, Avenging daughter and Sacred Guardian, Kyger Litor, Mother of Trolls, and the Seven Mothers, the Recreators of the Red Goddess, the New Gods. Perhaps some of the longest entries are devoted to some of the more well-known figures in Gloranthan mythology—of which Ernalda, Goddess Creation, Goddess of Love, and Orlanth, King of the Gods, Storm God, Chieftain, Warrior, Leader of the Lightbringers, are the best examples. The Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia is also cross-referenced, so the entry for Orlanth includes references to both Ernalda and the Lightbringers, and when you turn to the Lightbringers entry, there are references to Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Flesh Man, Ginna Jar, Issaries, Lhankor Mhy, and Orlanth. Not every entry is a god. For example, Gerak Kag is a Dark Troll hero who defeated Praxian nomads and invaded Pavis in the 1230s, Jaldon Goldentooth is the immortal hero of the Praxian tribes who returns again and again to lead them all into battle, and Zzabur is the First Wizard.
Every entry includes a pronunciation guide, its place and role in particular pantheon, and cross-references as needed. Also included is the Rune symbols associated with that particular god, a practice continued from The Red Book of Magic, and particularly useful it is too.
What is not included in Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia are any game stats or rules mechanics. This it shares with The Glorantha Sourcebook, which framed the conflicts between the differing mythologies in the forthcoming Hero Wars. The lack of stats or mechanics is intentional. Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia is intended as an overview of the mythologies and gods and other figures of Glorantha, drawing on diverse sources and collating everything for ease of reference. For the player new to RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and the setting of Glorantha this is an easy starting point to look up such details, with the core rules providing the mechanics necessary. For the Gloranthaphile, it still provides a good overview, but they will, of course, be left wanting more, but that will come as further entries in the Cults of RuneQuest series are published. Further, it should be pointed out that Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia is not designed as a standalone product. In being an overview of the gods and mythologies, it is a companion volume to the rest of the titles in the series.
There is one other aspect of Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia which stands out and that is Katrim Dirim’s artwork. It is gloriously rich and vivid in its colours, capturing the majesty, power, glory, and might of the many deities depicted. It gives them all a naturalistic feel as if painted by their worshippers, yet still unworldly.
As comprehensive as the Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia is, there is one feature which would have increased its utility, and that is perhaps an index by pantheon and thus refer to particular entries in the Cults of RuneQuest series. It is likely that at the end of the series that an index for all ten books will be necessary.
Physically, Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia is a slim volume. It professionally written and presented, and as already mentioned, is superbly illustrated. That said, in places, the writing will send the reader to a dictionary to look up the definitions of unfamiliar words.
Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia is beautiful introduction to the pantheons and mythological figures of Glorantha. Superbly comprehensive, it sets up and serves as a companion to the Cults of RuneQuest series and if the rest of the titles are going to look as good and delve deeper into their subjects, then the RuneQuest fan and the Gloranthaphile are going to very pleased with each new volume.
An unboxing video of Cults of RuneQuest: The Prosopaedia is available to watch on Unboxing in the Nook.
Chaosium, Inc. will be at UK Games Expo
from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th, 2023.