The Red Book of Magic (2020)

The cover and the title of this book — The Red Book of Magic (2020) — is perhaps a bit misleading, implying to my eye that it focuses entirely on the magic of the red moon and the Lunar Empire. The name actually refers to an in-universe work that predates the Red Goddess (Glorantha is a confusing place sometimes). So instead of a collection of Lunar magic, this book is actually, like the Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic for Call of Cthulhu, a collection of all the spells ever published for RuneQuest. That’s actually a good deal handier than a handbook dedicated Lunar magic!

This is not so simple an undertaking as you might expect. There are…well, RuneQuest’s magic has changed a lot across its editions. Low practical, practical magic, called Battle Magic in RQ2 is called Spirit Magic here — everyone has some potential access to it and it mostly resembles the buff and debuff spells from D&D. The modern RQ system basically uses the RQ3 version of Spirit Magic.

Rune Magic is more complicated (and far more powerful)! This used to be tied to the cults and gods and was a real pain in the butt (which made a certain sense, considering its potential power level) but for this edition, the system has been completely reworked, tying Rune Magic to a character’s personal (percentile) alignment to given Runes. This is simpler, more flexible and, for this book, I imagine required quite a lot of conversion work.

There is magic stuff that isn’t in here (Shamanism lacks spells, while Sorcery’s spells are open ended acts of improvisation — and it’s absence is slightly ironic, because I think in the lore, the Red Book was written by a sorcerer), and I would like a book or two on them, for as the game’s definitive book on Rune and Spirit Magic, it is, well, definitive! Lots of very nice art, too.

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