Send comments and/or criticism to Simon E. Phipp
Created On 14 October 2002
Last Updated On 14 October 2002
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 2002

The RuneQuest rules have said a fair amount on the temples of cults. RQ2 had a very relaxed view about what constituted a temple, the RQ3 rules had a far more detailed and regimented approach. Obviously, each of the two approaches has merit, but neither is perfect. Allowing the same divine magic to be reprayed at a shrine and a great temple is a little difficult to accept, but the RQ3 approach is a little too restrictive and has the all-powerful Sanctify spell.

In my campaign, we had the same types of temples as in the RQ3 rules, but we changed their properties slightly. We also had rules for artefacts, which allowed spells to be reprayed outside a temple. The Hero Wars rules has the concept of Hero Bands which is so good that it has to be incorporated into RuneQuest.

General Rules

Temple Types

General Rules

Temple Workers

On average, a temple has one Priest for every 200 initiates, or part thereof, one acolyte for every 100 initiates, or part thereof, and 10 initiates per acolyte as permanent Temple Workers. These workers are the permanent members of the temple. There are often other workers in the temple, members of the families of the Temple Workers, artisans, guards and so on. Major and Great Temples will have Temple Guards who police the temple, these guards often come from associate cults, so Chalana Arroy temples have Orlanthi Temple Guards. A Great Temple will be able to field a small army in its defence. Temples to martial deities, such as Humakt, Orlanth, Storm Bull or Yanafal Tarnils will be able to field full armies consisting of Temple Guards, Temple Workers and the normal initiates.

Temples may well have more Rune Levels than that normally specified, as they will have visitors from other temples or travelling Rune Levels. This can strengthen the temple in times of need.

Where a temple provides services to outsiders or to cult members, these services depend on the cult members. For instance, people requiring the use of the Resurrection spell from Chalana Arroy are dependant on the cult members having the spell. For Major or Great Temples, this is not a problem as there are many Priests and Acolytes who will have the spell. However, for Minor Temples or Shrines, these spells may be in short supply. Sometimes the Guardian Spirits will have the spells and may be persuaded to use them.

Larger Temples have a hierarchy consisting of Chief Priests and a High Priest. A Chief Priest must have 15 points of reusable divine magic, including Spell Teaching, Worship and Divination 5, and three cult skills at 90%. Chief Priests are subordinate only to the High Priest. A High Priest must be a Chief Priest and may either take over a current position or may found a new temple.

Temple Defences

Most Temples have defences that are present as a simple by-product of there being worship at the temple. Each temple has one point of POW for every 100 worshipper at the temple. This POW is normally allocated as permanent divine magic spells available at the temple. These spells regenerate at the rate of 1 point per day. So, a minor temple of Orlanth Thunderous has 350 worshippers and has 3 point of Temple Defences, the High Priest allocates these in a single Thunderbolt protecting the Statue of Orlanth Thunderous. Anyone attacking the statue or the Inner Sanctum will be struck by the spell. The Great Temple at Wind Temple has 3000 worshippers and has 30 points of temple defences, split as 15 to the Inner Sanctum, 8 to the priests' quarters and 7 to the outer defences, with Thunderbolt 3 and Warding 6 in the Inner Sanctum, Warding 4 and Lightning 3 in the Priests Quarters and Find Enemy 7 in the outer defences.

Most larger temples have extra defences made by the current priests and by previous priests. These usually involve spell matrices, enchantments, warding spells and bound spirits, undead and elementals.

Temple Guardians

Even then smallest shrine has a Guardian Spirit that guards the Shrine. In fact, when a temple is consecrated, a spirit is summoned as part of the consecration ritual. This spirit may be weak or powerful, depending on the size of the temple, and resides in the Idol, Statue or Painting in the Inner Sanctum. The Guardian Spirit has access to cult magic Heroically, so can cast them again and again with only MP cost. However, the Guardian Spirit only has access to those spells granted at the Temple. Since these spirits are normally fairly powerful, this makes them potent adversaries. Larger temples may have several Guardian Spirits who work together in the defence of the temple. Great Temples can have ten or more Guardian Spirits or one really powerful Guardian Spirit.

Occasionally, a Guardian Spirit may be able to take physical form, animating a statue and fighting in the defence of the temple. Such a Guardian is normally skilful in cult weapons and is a force to be reckoned with.

Temple Types


Number of Initiates 0-125
Available Skills As taught by itinerant worshippers
Available Spirit Magic None
Available Divine Magic One specific Cult Special Spell may be learned/reprayed on Holy Days
Temple Workers No permanent priest, sometimes cared for by initiates or an acolyte
Temple Defences None
Guardian Spirit None
Sub Cults None
Associate Cults May worship on Holy Days, no permanent presence

A site is a place that is sacred to the cult, but does not have a temple. Sites are often places that were important to the cult in the past or have become important to the cult. It may have statues and cult buildings but does not support a permanent staff. Priests and acolytes come to these sites on Holy Days and set up worship ceremonies for the locals or for pilgrims.


Number of Initiates 75-225
Available Skills As taught by the local priest or acolyte
Available Spirit Magic Cult Spirit magic only, variable 1 or 2 point spells
Available Divine Magic Common Divine 1 point spells, either 1 Cult Special Spell or all 1 point Cult Special Spell
Temple Workers Permanent Priest or Acolyte, a few Initiate assistants. Normally locals from the clan or town/village
Temple Defences 1 or 2 points of divine magic plus whatever the priest has cast
Guardian Spirit 1 Spirit, POW 3D6 + 6, INT 2D6 + 6, 1D4 divine spells, can cast those spells Heroically
Sub Cults May worship at Holy Days
Associate Cults Will worship on Holy Days, no permanent presence

A shrine is the smallest permanent temple. Most clans, hamlets and villages have shrines to the major deities of the region and also to the important local or clan deities. The local priest is normally from the area or clan and has several acolytes and initiates as assistants. Quite often, these are from the same family and the family holds the priestly position. A shrine will normally consist of outer buildings in a compound surrounding an inner sanctum or alcove containing a representation of the deity, normally a statue or painting. The priests and acolytes live in the shrine and perform their normal duties as well as earning a living. There is normally some religious activity or training in a shrine as they are the only place locally where cult skills may be found.

Shrines normally grant all 1 point Divine Spells available to the cult, although some may instead grant a Cult Special spell that is more than 1 point. Associate cult magics may be sacrificed for at Holy Days. Cult spirit magic may be taught here, but the shrine only has access to a few spell spirits and so can only teach a few points of the cult spells.

Minor Temple

Number of Initiates 150-500
Available Skills As taught by the local priests and acolytes
Available Spirit Magic All Cult Spirit Magic, Variable to 4 points, 
Available Divine Magic Common Divine 1 and 2 point spells, either 2 Cult Special Spells or all 2 point Cult Special Spells, Associate Spells from the shrines present
Temple Workers 1-3 priests, 2-5 acolytes, 10-20 initiates on Holy Days
Temple Defences 2-5 points of divine magic plus whatever the priests have cast now or previously
Guardian Spirit 1 Spirit, POW 3D6 + 12, INT 3D6 + 6, 2D4 divine spells, can cast those spells Heroically
Sub Cults Maybe one sub cult will have a shrine here
Associate Cults May have one or two shrines with supporting acolytes

Minor Temples are normally found in large towns or small cities. Large clans may support Minor Temples to their clan deity in the clan centre, but such a place would be the equivalent of a large town. A Minor Temple will support a few priests, few acolytes and a couple of dozen initiate workers. The priests and acolytes are supported by the temple and they do not need to find other work. Minor Temples will often have other shrines built into them, especially of associate deities or the odd sub-cult. These will be supported by full-time acolytes. Priests and acolytes of a Minor Temple may be local, but there will often be some from other places, especially associate priests or acolytes. There would be a Chief Priest in charge of the temple and the associate priests and acolytes will be his immediate subordinates.

Minor Temples normally grant all 1 and 2 point Divine Spells available to the cult, but some may grant 2 Cult Special spells that are more than 2 points. Associate cult spells are available from the shrines in the temple. Minor Temples normally have spell spirits for all cult spirit magic and can teach these up to 4 points. Shrines to sub-cults normally teach the main sub-cult divine spell to members of the sub-cult.

Major Temple

Number of Initiates 400-2000
Available Skills All cult skills, some subcult skills
Available Spirit Magic All cult spells, variable spells to 8 points, major sub-cult spirit magic
Available Divine Magic All Common Divine Spells, All Cult Special Spells, Associate spells from the shrines present
Temple Workers 2-10 priests, 4-20 acolytes, 40-80 initiates
Temple Defences 4-20 points of divine magic, plus spells cast by the priests and inherited spells and magic items, elementals bound in strategic places, warrior initiates and Rune Lords
Guardian Spirit 2 Spirits, POW 4D6 + 18, INT 3D6 + 6, 2D6 divine spells each, can cast those spells Heroically
Sub Cults 2 or 3 sub cults may have shrines here, major sub cults may have minor temples
Associate Cults Most regional Associate cults have shrines, important local cults may have minor temples, associate cults have priests and acolytes permanently here

Major Temples are found in larger cities, or in small cities where everyone worships the same deity. These are the centres of the cult in most areas. A Major Temple is a small village in itself, with up to 10 priests, up to 20 acolytes and up to 80 initiates working in the temple. All Temple workers are supported by the temple and often live at the Temple. Priests and acolytes of a Major Temple may be local but are often from surrounding towns and villages. A Major Temple will contain shrines to most local sub-cults and the main associate cults, with some important sub-cults or associate cults having Minor Temples incorporated in the Major Temple. The priests and acolytes of the associate cults will be permanently based here and will treat their shrine as a full shrine, showing respect to the High Priest, but taking orders from their own regional Priests. The head of the temple would be a High Priest and he may well have a couple of Chief Priests as his assistants.

A Major Temple will grant all Divine Spells normally available to the cult. Associate cult spells are available from the shrines in the Temple. All cult spirit magics are available from a Major Temple, with variable spells known up to 8 points. Sometimes more powerful spells may be taught here if the priests have allied powerful spirits.

Great Temple

Number of Initiates 1500+
Available Skills All cult skills, all sub-cult skills
Available Spirit Magic All cult spells, variable spells  8+, all sub-cult spells
Available Divine Magic All Common Divine Spells, All Cult Special Spells, some HeroQuesting spells
Temple Workers 8+ priests, 30+ acolytes, 120+ initiates
Temple Defences 15+ points of divine magic, spells cast by priests and generations of priests, magic items and bound elementals, Rune Lord and Initiate temple guards
Guardian Spirit 3+ Spirits, POW 5D6 + 24, INT 3D6 + 6, 3D6 divine spells each, can cast those spells Heroically
Sub Cults All regional sub cults have shrines, some may have minor or major temples
Associate Cults All regional Associate cults have shrines here, some associate cults from other areas may have shrines, local/major associate cults will have Minor Temples here. Associate cults have priests and acolytes as if they were normal temples.

Great Temples may be found in major cities. Most Great Temples transcend clan boundaries and often several clans are represented in Great Temples. A Great Temple may support a large number of priests and acolytes. The head of the Temple is a High Priest and he will have a number of Chief Priests to support him, the Chief Priests having a number of priests and acolytes supporting them. Quite often, the Chief Priests will come from particular clans and will have their own clan members as assistants. Temple politics are quite acute in Great Temples. Great Temples are towns in their own right and have several hundred temple workers supported by the temple together with their families and servants and also with artisans and other workers based in the temple. Great Temples contain shrines to all associate deities and regional sub-cults, with some associate cults or major sub-cults supporting Minor or even Major Temples. These temples are headed by priests who are not at all subordinate to the High Priest of the Great Temple and there is often conflict between the temple hierarchies.

Great Temples provide all cult divine magic and associate cult and sub-cult spells. All cult spirit magic is available here, usually up to 12 points. Associate spirit magic is also available here to those who can afford it.

Hero Band

Number of Initiates Normally 1-200+
Available Skills As granted by the deity, any skills that the local cultists want to teach
Available Spirit Magic As granted by the deity
Available Divine Magic All spells granted by the deity
Temple Workers Members of the Hero Band, often 3+ priests
Temple Defences As provided by the deity, also 1 point per 100 members of the Hero Band
Guardian Spirit Guardian Deity
Sub Cults None
Associate Cults None

A Hero Band consists of a guardian deity and a number of worshippers. It is a special case of worship where the deity is actually present. Worshippers of a Hero Band may sacrifice for any spells the deity grants. Priests and acolytes of the deity may also repray those spells that are reusable. Worshippers may learn cult spirit magic and have access to all spell spirits. It does not matter how many worshippers are part of the Hero Band, for they have a direct connection to the deity present.

Sometimes the deity grants special abilities to members of the Hero Band, perhaps giving skill increases, special skills or magical abilities. These are available to those cultists who remain members of the Hero Band. For instance, members of the Copper Sands Society in Prax worship the Copper Sands and gain the skill of Breathe Dust Cloud that allows them to survive in sandstorms. This costs 1 POW to learn and remains as long as the member remains an initiate of the Copper Sands and remains in the Hero Band.

Hero Bands often contain priests of the deity, but the Hero Band is led by the deity itself or by the High Priest who has access to the deity.

Hero Bands may have the deity present in material form, such as the cultists who accompany the Crimson Bat or the cultists of the Great Gorp in Dorastor. The deity may be a spirit bound into a magical item, such as the standards of the Lunar Legions. Most Hero Bands are warrior bands, but there are Hero Bands of Healers, Scholars, mystics and many others. Many of the Lunar Legions are Hero Bands, worshipping the spirit contained in the standards as well as worshipping Yanafal Tarnils. The Counters of the Dragon Pass game often represent Hero Bands.

Members of a Hero Band may worship the deity at shrines and temples when they are not with the Hero Band, if the deity supports temples outside his presence.

Many Hero Cults start of as Hero Bands, with only the Hero's Companions getting the benefits, then when the Hero makes artefacts or creates temples, more people gain access to the spells of the Hero Cult.

Spirit Cult

Number of Initiates Normally 1-100+
Available Skills As granted by the deity, any skills that the local cultists want to teach
Available Spirit Magic As granted by the deity, spells are only taught on Holy Days
Available Divine Magic Can sacrifice for spells only on Holy Days, only shamans have reusable spells
Temple Workers 1 Shaman and his/her assistants
Temple Defences Normally none, or as provided by the shaman
Guardian Spirit Normally none, or whatever the shaman provides
Sub Cults None
Associate Cults Whatever other friendly spirit cults are led by the shaman

Spirit Cults are led by a shaman. The shaman summons the Spirit Deity in a worship ritual on Holy Days of the cult. The chance of summoning is equal to the number of worshippers present. If the spirit is summoned, the shaman may sacrifice for reusable cult divine magic from the deity and initiates may sacrifice for one-use of reusable spells. Initiates may learn spirit magic from the cloud of spell spirits that accompany the Spirit Deity when it is summoned. If the summoning fails then the cultists cannot sacrifice for divine magic or learn spells. Spells cannot be reprayed at other times.

Spirit Cults have membership restrictions in the same way as normal cults, but most cults treat Spirit Cult membership as casual and they do not affect cult membership. Many members of Spirit Cults worship friendly spirits as well, so worshippers of Frog Woman at the Five Eyes temple often worship River Horse as well. Some shamans may contact major deities in spirit cults, in this case the deity is worshipped in the same way as a Spirit Cult but only a portion of the deity is present. Such a case is the worship of the Horse Eater in Prax where the congregation worships a form of Yara Aranis who comes to them from her Red Star and teaches them magics to help against their Pentian enemies.

Shamans may discorporate and travel to the Spirit Deity personally to repray or sacrifice for divine magic. Such a voyage is a Spirit Quest and is not straightforward and can involve danger and sacrifice. The shaman may do this without leading a Spirit Cult, or he may do this in addition to the normal worship ceremonies of the Spirit Cult.


Number of Initiates N/A
Available Skills N/A
Available Spirit Magic If the artefact specifically provides a spirit magic spell then it can teach the spell to 4 points
Available Divine Magic For specific artefacts, only the spell provided by the artefact, for general artefacts, increases the level of the temple by 1
Temple Workers N/A
Temple Defences N/A
Guardian Spirit N/A
Associate Cults N/A

An Artefact is a magic item that contains some of the essence of a deity. This artefact acts as a link between the deity and the worshippers and grants access to spells and spirits. Specific artefacts are devoted to a single power or spell of the cult and only grant that spell or power to the worshippers. General artefacts increase the level of the cult by one, so a general artefact alone acts as a shrine, when in a shrine it acts as a minor temple and so on. Such general artefacts allow the repraying of spells over and above the norm and are often found within temples, strengthening the temples.

Specific artefacts are often copies of the object that provides the power that they embody. So, True Sword artefacts are swords, Lightning Bolt artefacts are tin lightning bolts, Great Parry artefacts are shields and so on. Where a special artefact teaches a spirit magic spell, the artefact allows worshippers to sacrifice for and repray the Spell Teaching spell and also provides access to a single Spell Spirit which will allow the spell to be taught to others, such an artefact also acts as the source of the spell for the purpose of recharging the spell spirit.

Artefacts are sought after for they allow magic to be reprayed away from temples. If an initiate finds an artefact, he often has to return it to the cult. Rune Levels may well be able to keep artefacts if they are powerful enough to stand up to the cult Chief Priests.

Sanctify Spell

Number of Initiates N/A
Available Skills N/A
Available Spirit Magic N/A
Available Divine Magic Allows a single spell to be reprayed
Temple Workers N/A
Temple Defences N/A
Guardian Spirit N/A
Associate Cults N/A

When we first read the Sanctify Spell, we thought that it implied that this allowed spells to be reprayed, however on rereading it, I am not too sure. However, it is still a useful spell to have. I play that the Sanctify spell allows the repraying of a single spell. The spell can be stacked for area or effect, if stacked for effect the spell allows the repraying of more than one spell. So, if Soltak casts a Sanctify 5, with 2 for area and 3 for effect, the spell covers a 15 metre area and can be used to repray the spells of Shield, Teleport and Lightning Bolt.