Runequest Thursday #181 - Against the Blood Gods!

Clint Staples

Several weeks back, I did a Game Blender RQ Thursday in which I converted a number of talents from Ragnarok: The Great Winter RPG (in development at Skirmisher Publishing) to the Runequest System. One of the ones that I converted was Bane.


Now Bane is about as Nordic a Talent as you can get, since the word exists in the extant literature of the Viking Age and refers to someone who is exceptionally renowned, exceptionally skilled, or both, in regard to fighting a particular foe. In the Sagas, Bane might be used in regard to a family – like Helgi Hundingsbane, who had a real hate for the members of the Hunding family (actually against the Hunding “aett”, which we would think of more as a clan than the modern nuclear family). But it could also be used in reference to a type of creature, and this is how it works best in an RPG.


And that is how I want to employ it now.


Since the title of this post is “Against the Blood Gods”, you might have guessed that I am going to work Bane as an ability to fight the evil gods of The Savage North, those ancient deities who embraced foul Blood Magic, and were corrupted, in turn corrupting others down the centuries.  So let’s start there by making a Runequest Talent for it.



Requirements: Lore: Blood Creatures at 50%. You must have slain a Blood-tainted creature in single combat.

Cost: 4 Hero Points

You have devoted time and energy to learn the weaknesses of creatures and mages tainted by Blood Magic or the Blood Gods. Whenever you succeed at hitting someone affected by your Bane, you may reroll the damage of your weapon (not including strength bonus, etc). You must accept the second roll, even if it is poorer.


Using the Talent system, we can create a number of others for the prospective Blood Hunter:


Mental Fortitude

Requirements: You must have survived domination or enslavement by a blood-tainted creature or mage.

Cost: 4 Hero Points

Your period of enslavement taught you how best to repel the magic and influence of Blood-tainted control. Your POWer is considered to be 4 points higher, whenever you are subjected to any Blood spell or Blood ability that threatens to control or manipulate your actions, including, but not restricted to such abilities as Command, Domination, Harmonize, Befuddle, Demoralize, and Slavery.

            If you wish, you may take this talent more than once, gaining the same benefit multiple times.


Bloodbane Mage

Requirements: Magic Skill at 70%; Lore: Blood Creatures at 50%.

Cost: 4 Hero Points

Your magic is particularly potent against those tainted by the Blood. If your spell does damage, you may reroll the damage against a Blood-tainted foe, but must accept the second result. If your spell must overcome the POWer of a Blood creature or mage, your Personal POWer for this contest is considered to be 4 points higher.




The following Lore skills are very important to anyone who would oppose the Blood Gods or their followers.


Demonology: The successful use of this Lore skill enables one to know the preferences, powers, skills and weaknesses of demons. A failure provides inaccurate information that often results in catastrophic failure and death. Depending on the level of your success, you can gain information that could allow you to create a ritual to summon, and bargain with a particular demon. Such information might include the type of offerings, aspects of the demon that could be exploited to entice it to appear, even usages that can enhance wards and other ways to improve one’s odds of survival or successful bargaining. It does not provide the ability to cast a Ward spell, though many demonologists find it prudent to learn such things if they are able.

            Many demonologists study this art not to summon demons, but to know their powers, and those who would call up a demon. A successful skill roll can give information about a demon, a ritual, even the details of a particular mage or demonologist. You can also attempt to learn these specifics from the physical remnants of a ritual site or sacrifice. It must also be said that demonologists have been known to succumb to Blood Magic, or to the temptation to summon a demon, only to be corrupted or consumed by it. Demonology is a dangerous business.


Lore: Blood Creatures: Your study of the Blood Gods, their servants and their magic has taught you many of the secrets of their creatures. You may roll against this lore in regard to Blood-tainted creatures to know something of their habits, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. The better you roll, the more information you gain.


Lore: Blood Magic: Your study of Blood magic has taught you much about its practice and manipulation. You may roll against this lore in regard to Blood Mages, and Blood Magic, but also on Blood-taint in regard to its effects and influence on other magical arts (For example: Blood Witchcraft, or on the Demonic Tattoos employed by some Blood cultists). The better you roll, the more information you gain.



Demon Tattoos

One of the ways that some Blood Mages grant power to their non-magic using followers is by giving them a demonic tattoo. Some of the powers of the Blood Demon are granted to the bearer, and in extreme circumstances, the bearer can even summon the demon, though this sometimes results in the death of the summoner.


Demon Tattoos are created using a system that I wrote about in a previous Runequest Thursday, but I have modified it for Demon Tattoos. In order to create demon tattoos, you must have the Skill: Magical Tattooist.

Skill: Magical Tattooist (Staring percentage: POW+CHA): You have the ability not only to create compelling and artistic tattoos, but to imbue them with temporary magical power. You must use specially prepared and ritually consecrated inks and tools when you do so. It takes you 1d6 hours per point you dedicate to the tattoo, which can be done in one sitting, or over the course of several.

Demonic Tattooing:

In order to bind a demon into a tattoo, you or another must be able to summon the demon in question. The rank of demon you can bind into a tattoo is limited by your level in the Magical Tattooing skill. Up to 50%, the artist is capable binding only rank 1 Demons. Each full 25% of ability thereafter, allows the binding of a further Rank of Demon (rank 2 at 75%, Rank 3 at 100%, etc). The demon must still be summoned normally, and you must succeed at a POW vs POW success against the demon to bind it, or offer something the demon wants enough to acquiesce to being bound in a lowly meat-sack (points of your permanent POW equal to the rank of the demon, for example). You cannot offer the body or servitude of the one you are tattooing as payment, because the demon will essentially gain that anyway if it accepts.

If the tattooist is the one summoning the demon, she must possess the skill: Demonology or be the Priest of a Blood God. It is also possible that a Blood Witch could bargain for a Demonic Tattoo – we will delve into that in a future RQT.

Powers of a Demonic Tattoo:

When a demon is bound into a tattoo, the tattooist must choose a particular ability or spell of the bound demon that the tattoo bearer can access. The Tattoo bearer can use the ability or spell as a spell by rolling her POWx5%, and paying 1 temporary POWer per rank of effect. Demons generally can manifest abilities and spells equal to their own rank, or in some cases one rank higher, so a Rank 1 demon might have Rank 1 or Rank 2 abilities, one of which is chosen when it is bound, and would cost 1 or 2 POWer to cast. Demon Tattoos last for a number of rounds equal to the POWer of the tattoo bearer.

A Tattoo bearer can also attempt to summon forth the demon within his tattoo. This is a risky business, and always costs the bearer Permanent POWer. The bearer must succeed on a POWx3% roll, and immediately sacrifice 1d3 permanent POW per rank of the demon called forth. The bearer may then require one task of its demon, which the demon must attempt to fulfill for a Number of Rounds equal to the bearer's now-reduced POW. After that amount of time, the demon is free to return to its extra planar home, or may attempt to remain on its current plane with a POW x3% check. In either case, it is free of the tattoo and the binding. Note also, that some demons are vindictive in the extreme, and may slay the tattoo bearer for the afront of having been "born".

Next week, I will write up a few Blood Demons for the prospective Demonic Tattooist, and relate this skill to some other posts that make sense. See you in a Week!