Kralorelan Magic



Send comments and/or criticism to Simon E. Phipp
Created On 20 April 2000
Last Updated On 20 April 2000
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 2000

Kralorela is the Dragon Empire, a land of mystery and unknown powers. It is well known that Kralori use magic unknown elsewhere, but people disagree on what form the magic takes and how it is used.

Although I have no wish to adventure in Kralorela and have not set any campaigns there, I have had thoughts on what forms its special magics should take and how they would be used. In fact, I have used some Kralori magic in my campaigns, albeit in a limited sense. This article is simply my personal take on the magics of this special land and is almost certainly nothing like the official version, but as RuneQuest is dead in the water, we will never know the official version.

Kralorelan Magic comes in many forms, some known elsewhere many unique to Kralorela. Broadly, these can be classified into several areas:

Dragon Magic

Dragon Magic may itself be broken down into a number of different categories for convenience. These categories are:

Chi Powers

A long time ago, when the Dragons walked the world, they taught the people their secrets. Many people were unable to learn the full Draconic secrets and instead learnt only part of the secrets. One part that was learnt was the Physical Secrets.

As the Dragons withdrew and stopped teaching their secrets to the people, their children, the Beast Masters, taught some of their secrets to the people. These secrets were combined with the Physical Secrets of the Dragons and embodied in a number of Secret Societies and cults. Over the years, many of these Societies have survived and continue to teach the Physical Secrets of Dragonkind and the Beast Masters. Through them, Kralori learn Martial Arts and Chi Magic.

Kralorelan Martial Arts were taught by the Dragons, originally, then by the Beast Masters. The Dragon Style is still the most popular and includes unarmed combat, sword combat, use of the bow and axe and knowledge of healing skills and gymnastic skills. Other forms include the Tiger, Snake, Monkey, Crane, Centipede, Praying Mantis, Griffin and Crab. Each form includes elements of unarmed combat and various weapons and other skills. Kralorelan Martial Arts also includes the knowledge of Chi Powers which give the practitioners supernormal powers and an advantage over other fighters. Each School or Secret Society teaches particular Chi Powers connected to their own style of Martial Arts and people wishing to learn new Chi Powers must travel to a different School or learn from a new Master.

Chi Powers

The Dragons taught their powers to those who could learn. Many people could not learn the intellectual powers and instead chose to learn the Physical Powers. These Physical Powers came to be known as Chi Powers and these powers allow them to access their own internal energy, or Chi, to perform fantastic acts.

The RuneQuest Alternate Earth supplement, Land of Ninja, introduced the use of Ki powers in Bushido Japan, but these are limited to certain Bushido skills. I prefer to extend the concept to Kralorela. In my game, a character must first awaken his Chi, either through meditation or HeroQuest, which gives the character an extra characteristic of CHI at a level of 3D6. This characteristic is used in the same way as POW, with temporary CHI, known as chi (lower case) being used each time Chi Powers are used. I play that chi regenerates at a rate of CHI/24 per hour, in the same way that MPs regenerate. Some people may prefer chi to be regenerated by meditation, or to use Fatigue Points or Magic Points instead of chi.

Each normal skill has an associated Chi skill. This Chi skill amplifies the normal skill to supernormal levels, so Chi Jump allows the user to jump unnaturally high or far, Chi Sneak allows the user to move completely silently, Chi Hide makes him invisible and so on. It is up to the individual GM to decide what effects a Chi skill not described in the Land of Ninja supplement should do.

Each Secret Society or Martial Arts School teaches certain Chi Powers, those powers that were taught by the Dragons or Beast Masters. If a person wants to learn extra Chi Powers, he must travel to a different school that he knows teaches that Chi or to seek out an independent Master who knows the Chi Skill at 90%. These independent Masters do not belong to any particular School or Secret Society but travel the country teaching Chi and Martial Arts to those who would learn. They have often inherited a tradition where some ancestor or Hero learned the Chi Powers direct from the Dragons and never formed a School or Secret Society.

Learning a new Chi Power entails finding a Master who knows the Chi Skill at 90%, then studying with him for several weeks, then attempting to roll CHIx1%, if the roll is successful then the student gains the CHI skill at 1D6 + CHI, failure means having to continue to study.

Not all Chi Powers are related to physical prowess, there are Chi Powers enhancing Crafts, languages, music, Lores and all skills. Where craftsmen use their Chi, they create superior items or minor magical items, so there are many minor magical items commonly available in Kralorela. Musical Chi Powers can create incredibly beautiful or moving music, or even create Magical songs.

Obviously, martial Chi Powers are useful - this is where the classical Chinese Movies can be used as an inspiration, with sword fights when the combatants leap and perform incredible acrobatics with unbelievable swordplay. The TV series The Water Margin and Empress Wu are also excellent examples of this genre.

Path of Immanent Mastery

These are people who gain Draconic Powers by directly worshipping all Dragons. This Society came about during the Jrusteli conquest of Kralorela when many God Learners tried to access the Dragon Magics. Some did not wish the years of study that is required for true Dragon Magic, so they tried to access the Dragon Transformations directly by accessing Dragonkind directly. This succeeded and the powers were enshrined in the Path of Immanent Mastery. Followers of the Path of Immanent Mastery sacrifice for Divine Spells that allow them to transform themselves into Dragons, either partially or completely, for a short period of time. Some experts can transform themselves for longer periods of time and some can permanently transform themselves into Dragons and live as Dragons until they die.

Followers of the Path of Immanent Mastery are admired by many Kralorelans as they clearly exhibit Draconic Powers, but many despise them as their powers are stunted and not the true Dragon Magic. After all, they can only transform themselves into Dragonewts or Dream Dragons, not True Dragons. The Rulers of Kralorela accept them for what they are, part of the land of Kralorela, and use them where they are best suited.

Most of the members of the Path of Immanent Mastery are warriors, specialising in Draconic Martial Arts and associated Chi Powers. They are well-regarded as bodyguards.

Coils of the Dragon

The Dragons taught many of their secrets to the Kralori. Those who know the true Draconic Secrets are organised into a Secret Society called the Coils of the Dragon, or the Five Circles. Each Coil is of a different metal, so there are Bronze, Copper, Silver, Gold and Adamant Coils, consisting of progressively more Enlightened and powerful practitioners of Dragon Magic.

The Bronze Circle is made up of those people who have had their Dragon Minds awakened. Some of these will also use Dragon Magic, but others may not. In any case, now that they are Draconic they can attempt to master their emotions in the same way that Dragonewts do. They are the equivalent of Crested Dragonewts.

The Copper Circle is made up of those who have mastered certain Personality Traits, so have achieved a small degree of Enlightenment. They use some Dragon Magic, especially that connected to their mastered Personality Traits. Members of the Copper Circle usually fill the lowest levels of the beaurocracy and make up the minor officials of the army. They are the equivalent of the Beaked Dragonewts.

The Silver Circle is made up of those who have mastered many Personality Traits. They use Dragon Magics freely as they have conquered many Personality Traits. They also perform HeroQuests and undergo rituals designed to further master their Personalities. They make up the middle layers of the Imperial Beaurocracy and the middle ranking officers of the army. They have achieved a great deal of Enlightenment and are the equivalent of the Tailed Priest or Noble Dragonewt.

Members of the Gold Circle have achieved Enlightenment, so they have mastered all their Personality Traits. Many of the Gold Circle are also Exarchs, indeed only members of the Gold Circle can become Exarchs. These make up the highest levels of the Imperial Beaurocracy and lead all the Imperial organisations. The Gold Circle are the equivalent of the Full Priest or Ruler Dragonewts and often HeroQuest to become True Dragons. In fact, many members of the Gold Circle are fully awakened Dragons who have chosen not to leave the world, but to help the Empire's people. These usually become Exarchs when a vacancy becomes available.

There is only one member of the Adamant Circle - The Dragon Emperor. He has achieved Enlightenment and is a fully awakened True Dragon. He has access to all Dragon magics and also has all the powers of the Empire, being worshipped by members of the Imperial Cult, and probably has access to more mana than anyone in Glorantha. He is the equivalent of the Dragonet or Inhuman King Dragonewt.

Using Dragon Magic

Dragon Magic can be used by anyone who has awakened their Dragon Mind. The Kralori have rituals that enable the Dragon Mind to be awakened. The Empire of the Wyrms Friends (EWF) had similar rituals that awakened the Dragon Mind. Once the Dragon Mind is awakened, the student may learn Dragon Magic. Each Dragon Magic Effect has to be learned separately and there are rituals for learning each of the Effects. Each Effect is the equivalent of a spell and, once learnt, does not take up INT or require the sacrifice of POW to store.

Each Effect is linked to a particular Personality Trait and each use of the Effect increases that Personality Trait by a certain amount, depending on the individual Effect. If a Personality Trait would be increased so that the Draconic Mind in the Personality Traits would be reduced to 0, the Draconic Mind is maintained at 1 and the opposing Personality Trait is reduced proportionally. If the Draconic Mind cannot be reduced because one end of the Mind is at 1 or 100,then the Mind is destroyed and the person cannot use that Dragon Magic any more. When this happens to Dragonewts, they mutate on their next Rebirth and are reborn as Dinosaurs. If a character has increased the Draconic Mind so that a particular Personality Trait no longer exists (i.e. the Mind begins at 1 or ends at 100) then the character may use the Draconic Effect relating to that Personality Trait with impunity - once the Personality Trait no longer exists, it cannot be increased using Dragon Magic.

When a Dragon Magic Effect is used, the character must attempt to roll against his Personality Traits, if the roll falls within the Draconic Mind the character has acted honourably, otherwise the character has acted dishonourably and the Personality Trait rolled is checked (ticked). For instance, War-Lin has Personality Traits of Brave 1-40, Cowardly 67-100 and uses the Dragon Effect Dragon Armour, he rolls 35 and is deemed to have acted dishonourably in using the magic.

Use of Dragon Magic may cause the user to act dishonourably. If this happens, the character must try to restore honour in some way. Normally, this requires action of some kind, often a ritual or Quest is required. Some people use more Dragon Magic when trying to regain honour and this often causes more dishonourable acts. Quite often, it takes several years to extricate oneself from the dishonourable acts, something which makes many Kralori refrain from using Dragon Magic.

Those who have dishonourable acts outstanding may not progress to the next Circle, so hindering their spiritual progression.

When the Jrusteli came to Kralorela and killed the Dragon Emperor, they gained the use of Dragon Magic. They found these magics very easy to use, with no real cost other than changes in personality. They used the Dragon Magics with impunity without thought of acting honourably or dishonourably. Eventually the weight of their actions caused the Dragon Empire to act against them and at the crucial point they found that their Dragon Powers failed and they were lost.

The EWF suffered a different fate. Many of the minor practitioners acted dishonourably and abused the Dragon Magics. When the end came, they also found that their powers failed and they were destroyed by the Invincible Golden Horde. Many of the leaders and demigods of the EWF decided to come down from the Eyrie and help the people of the Empire rather than concentrate on the Dragon Project. In doing so, they chose to entangle themselves in the affairs of the world. Each time they acted they found themselves further and further enmeshed in the affairs of others that they lost sight of the goal and found that their Dragon magics were ineffective when the Call came.

Check this link for a description of Dragon Magic, also used with the rules on Dragonewts.

Meditation

Dragonewts may only attempt to increase their Dragon Mind Personality Traits when they are reborn. Since humans are not reborn in the same way as Dragonewts, they must have a different way to increase their Draconic Mind through experience. Those who have their Draconic Mind awakened also have a meditation Skill of 5% + Knowledge. If this skill is rolled, for each hour of Meditation the user may attempt to roll against one of his checked Personality Traits. The user may meditate for 1 hour per 20% of skill without rolling, but if he wishes to meditate for longer, he must attempt the skill again. So, someone with 64% Meditate can meditate for 3 hours without rolling again. Meditation is not an active skill, but if the user is disturbed while meditating, he must roll his Meditate Skill so that his meditation is not interrupted.

Common Magic

Many of the people of Kralorela use magic that is not Draconic in nature. This magic is sometimes known as Common Magic as it is commonly used throughout Kralorela.

Divine Magic

There are many deities in Kralorela, some known elsewhere others unique to Kralorela. The mythos of Kralorela is very rich, with many pantheons interacting. However, there is a difference between the deities in Kralorela and elsewhere. In Kralorela, the pantheons are integrated into the general Kralorelan Court, so that each of the deities of Kralorela has its place, its own function and its own title. So, even those deities who are bad or evil have their place in the Court as the bad or evil gods. This means that worshippers of those deities know exactly where their position is in society. This has a great harmonising effect across the whole of Kralorela. Thus, when the Evil Dark Man comes to town and starts to eat the cattle, the villagers know who he is, what he is doing and what they need to do to stop him, so they simply run off and fetch the Green Emerald Warrior to chase him off. This way, each person is accepted by the Kralori for what they do. When strangers or foreigners come to town, the people are initially confused as they do not know who they are, but when they have observed them, they can pigeonhole the strangers into the pre-defined categories and act appropriately. So, Humakti become Cold Iron Men, Orlanthi become Brave Wind and Yelmites become Little Emperors.

Each of the deities of Kralorela has its own cult and has subcults and associated cults in the same way as divine cults elsewhere. The cults are arranged into pantheons, so there are Earth, Water, Sky, Storm, Darkness and Chaos Pantheons with the standard crossovers. In the rural or outlying areas, these cults are worshipped as elsewhere with few Dragon practitioners or Chi Masters around. In these areas, the people are just the same as elsewhere and foreigners have a better chance of being accepted, especially if they worship on of the local deities.

In areas such as the Kingdom of Ignorance, foreign cults have been incorporated into the Kralorelan model, but only locally. So, the people of the Kingdom of Ignorance know that the Black Sun challenged Little Emperor and lost, but people n the Rice Fields in the South may not have heard of Black Sun.

Foreign cults are difficult to incorporate into the Kralorelan system. Typically, people must understand how the deities act under particular circumstances and most of the methods if incorporating the deities involve HeroQuesting to force the deities to act in certain ways. The deities of the Kingdom of Ignorance, Gargarth, Waha, Kargzant and the spirits of the Pentian pantheon have all been incorporated in the Kralorelan system as have Nysalor, Dormal and some of the Jrusteli deities.

I will not detail the individual cults worshipped in Kralorela, but most of the common Gloranthan cults are in evidence, together with many local and ancient cults unknown elsewhere.

Sorcery

There are schools of sorcery in Kralorela, most of which started under the Jrusteli occupation, but some are far older and come from other traditions. These schools rarely follow traditional Malkioni ways and normally have a Master and his Students. The schools teach some common sorcery and a few specialist skills. Students of one school generally do not join other schools, as each school is very jealous of its secrets.

Many of the Kralorelan Schools use magic unknown elsewhere. If you want to follow the Chinese analogy, try to use Taoist Sorcery in Kralorela, or alternatively use other Oriental magic types for unusual schools.

Cult of the Emperor

The Five Circles, or Coils of the Dragon, is designed so that people at the top are more important - it is hierarchical in nature. People outside the Coils worship those within the Coils. This worship is directed ultimately towards the Dragon Emperor, but is channelled through the Coils and especially through the Exarchs who can wield the mana generated in the service of the Empire.

The Exarchs and Emperor are treated as deities by the peasants of Kralorela and act as such. Very rarely does an Exarch behave improperly and abuse the power given to him, but it has been known.

Peasants have access to Godunya's magic, so they can produce magical effects by the sacrifice of POW. Members of the Coils of the Dragon can also use the powers of the Cult of the Emperor in addition to their own Dragon Magics. Copper Coil members are automatically initiates of the Imperial Cult, Silver Coil members have reusable access to the magic, Golden Coil members have Heroic Casting of the spells, Exarchs have Heroic Casting plus a pool of available Magic Points to use with the power and the Emperor can change reality with a single thought.

Primitive Magic

Spirit Cults

There are many spirits in Kralorela who do not have extensive cults. Many of these are local in nature, only known in certain areas, but some are widespread. These are worshipped by people in Spirit Cults that are organised by Shamans or Mandarins. Quite often, these are clan-based or family-based, although they could equally well be tied into Secret Societies or Magic Schools.

Shamans are normally tied to the Hsunchen cults or nomadic or barbarian areas within the Empire. Mandarins may be sorcerers or members of the Coils of the Dragon who have been taught to contact and control the worship of spirits. Spirit cults controlled by Mandarins generally have a high level of ritual and ceremony.

The Spirits worshipped via Spirit Cults are generally not as tied in to the Kralorelan Way as other deities, so there is a lot of scope in their actions. This can be a good thing as their worshippers have more flexibility, but they can be mistrusted by others.

There is generally no proscription to worshipping Spirit Cults within the Empire as the Rulers accept that Spirit Cults normally strengthen their worshippers. Even the Exarchs can worship some Spirit Cults, but few people realise this.

Hsunchen Cults

There are many people in Kralorela who follow the Hsunchen way of life, being descended from an ancestor animal and believe they are kin to the Ancestor Deity. These people can access magic that allows them to change form to their totem animal. Quite often, these people are very primitive in nature and also follow other primitive cults such as Hunter, Fisher, Forest Mother and so on.

The Hsunchen cults in Kralorela include Basmoli, the Dragon Folk, Eel Folk, Salmon People, Boar People and Tiger People.

Dragon Worship

Some of the primitive people of Kralorela worship individual True Dragons directly as deities. They gain magic from this worship, sometimes Spirit Magic, sometimes Divine Magic. Each Dragon grants different spells, some may allow their worshippers to fly, to breathe fire, to have skin armour or to gain other effects. Others gain powers relating to the sphere of influence ruled over by the Dragon. For instance, worshippers of the Diamond Dragon gain the spell Diamond Mind that gives clarity of thought and assists in remembering details.

Normally, people who worship dragons directly worship those dragons that live nearby or that are associated with them. Some people worship the dragon that is their ancestor. Very few people worship more than one dragon as the dragons are very jealous of their worshippers. Dragons do not grant Divine Intervention to their worshippers.

Mystic Magic

This is the province of those who dwell on the mysteries of the universe. There are many mystical schools in Kralorela, often with a Draconic bent. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the mystics of Kralorela and cannot speculate here.

[End]