Runequest Thursday #38 - The Beastlords!

Clint Staples

Yesterday was a crazy one here at the Staples Hall, so I am a day late with Runequest Thursday. My humblest apologies, but here is a new Cabal for Sorcery and some new spells to go with it.


Sorcerers are a varied lot, but most are secretive, dedicated, and keen to acquire greater knowledge of their art. The dilettante rarely pursues the craft because of the social stigma, the necessarily long hours of study, and the risks that one must often undertake to progress. So it is not surprising that sorcerers often band together into cabals of like-minded individuals, sharing or developing potent spells for self defense. 

One such cabal of sorcerers is variously known as the Bestiary, the Zoo, or the Cult of the Beast. Its adherents, Beastlords, are among the more atavistic members of the art, and many among them are large and physically powerful. Many of the spells available to members enhance these traits, and shapeshifting, in whole or in part, is a common ability.

Members of the Bestiary may be solitary or part of a pack. Generally, cult centers are in isolated ruins, caves or forests, where beastlords can commune with nature and the creatures within it.


Requirements for Acceptance:

A prospective beastlord must have the skills Athletics and Sorcery at 50%, and must possess the skills Survival and Tracking. Often, she must pass a test for acceptance, generally some sort of solitary adventure in the wilderness, often a hunt, or becoming the subject of one conducted by the other beastlords. This may be abstracted [as if you would not want to play through this] by having the hunted roll against Survival and Stealth. If both skills are passed, she is accepted. 

If a beastlord possesses any Conjure/ Dismiss elemental  or demon spells, she must give them up. The Bestiary does not condone the summoninig of otherworldly forces. Such spells are expunged from the beastlord's grimoire, and she must forget them immediately. In exchange, the masters of the Bestiary will instruct the candidate in an equal number of ranks of the Scent spell, that she will better know the secrets of the wild. Some packs of beastlords have been known to all venerate a single beast - be it wolf, bear, lion, etc. Other groups are more cosmopolitan.


One drawback of certain Bestiary spells is the tendency for them to make the caster more bestial over time. This can be a mental transformation, a physical one, or a combination of the two. Change and Aspect of the Beast both tend push the caster toward bestial appearance and mindset over time. Extending these spells for long periods risk the bestial aspects becoming permanent, such that, in rare cases, members of the bestiary have been know to adopt a beast form and forget their human one, even their own minds, over time.

Note: this is not considered to be a terrible fate by the beastlords themselves.


A beastlord can be a terrifying physical combatant, especially if she has the time to prepare before entering combat. Change, Enhance / Diminish, Aspect of the Beast function extremely well together to create a tough melee fighter that might also be able to throw around the occasional lightning bolt. Often, one or more Controlled animals will join the fight as well, often from ambush.


Members of the Bestiary generally have at least a rank or two in the common spells below:



Enhance/ Diminish

Heal/ Wound


In addition, the following uncommon spells are frequently studied:


Silence/ Stifle

Speed/ Slow


Finally, there are at least two spells that are all but unknown outside the Bestiary:


Aspect of the Beast  [Beast] Range – Self      POW Check – No

Cost to Learn – 500L

Magnitude – Variable

Time to cast – 1 Action

Duration – 10 Melee Rounds

You imbue you body with the power of the beast lords. Your STR rises by 1 per rank, you gain a melee attack doing 1d6+1 [plus damage bonus], and granting access to the Slash special maneuvers. You also gain +5% to Spot and Listen Skills per rank and can see as well as a cat in darkness. Additional levels of this spell increase your STR and your talon damage by +1. Your hand takes no damage from whatever it strikes. However, if you parry with the Talon, or are struck on that limb, you suffer damage normally. When the spell is learned, decide whether the spell actually transforms the caster physically, or grants the abilities metaphysically. If there is a physical transformation, often it will change the target into a particular creature, or give her certain aspects of it. It might also create an 'amalgam' appearance, which the possessor of the spell should determine when learning the spell. STR granted through Aspect of the beast does not stack with that granted via Enhance/ Diminish.

            You may use additional levels that do not increase the variable effects of the spell of this spell to extend the duration on the Duration Track.


Scent  [Beast] Range – Self     POW Check – No

Cost to Learn – 500L

Magnitude – Variable

Time to cast – 1 Action

Duration – 15 Minutes

You gain the ability to detect via scent and discern between them, even tracking by spoor. For the duration of the spell, you gain the skill Tracking if you do not already have it. Your olfactory acuity allows you a 10% bonus to the skill per rank. Whether you possess Tracking normally, or only through this spell, you can learn to employ it better through experience. You may use additional levels that do not increase the variable effects of the spell of this spell to extend the duration on the Duration Track.