Re: Onslaught's heroic stature

From: Colin Watson (
Date: Wed 01 May 1996 - 20:57:47 EEST

Loren on Onslaught's stats:
> They are too high for a minor hero or demi-hero. They are at the
> major-hero level. With his crit-proof suit and doubled attacks
> Onslaught is considerably more effective in melee than Conan, and
> Conan is the model for Harrek.

I'm sure there's a point to be made here about the difference between
literary characters and RPG characters. Conan doesn't need the
crit-proof armour and other rule-crutches which Martin has given
Onslaught. This is because Conan has The Plot on his side. When he's
wearing armour the blows bounce off, and when he's not wearing armour
the same blows simply miss. When magic is used against Conan he simply
resists it because the story requires it. There are no dice rolling in
the background. It just happens.

A Conan-conversion to RQ stats would be extremely vulnerable to the effects
of the RQ rules. He simply wouldn't survive for long as a RuneQuest character.
But thankfully he's not a RQ character; he is a literary figure.

Now, before I saw Onslaught's stats, I could imagine him working as a
literary character. I quite enjoyed the stories, although he's a little
too Dark an anti-hero for my tastes. But seeing his stats in
black-and-white spoils this for me (clearly this is only IMHO; Martin
seems to like the idea). Writing out the stats cheapens the character.
I'm now not impressed with Onslaught's exploits in the story because
I realise just how easy a time he is having and how little risk he is
actually taking.

For the same reason I wouldn't want to see stats for Harrek or Argrarth
or Conan (and I wouldn't believe them anyway).

Besides this, publicising RQ stats for Onslaught gives the impression
that he has actually achieved them through the RQ rules. But I plain,
flat-out refuse to believe that he would survive long enough to achieve
those stats if all his fights were RQ fights. Probability-wise it's a
non-starter. (But it might be interesting to see his stats at, say,
five year intervals to see how he supposedly progressed.)

The only way I can see it happening to a PC is with heaps of deliberate
GM/Player collusion to nudge (or should that be fudge) the character on
the road to Hero-dom. But if you're going to manipulate things to that
extent (and I have nothing against it; in fact I'm all in favour of
heros) the stats become rather irrelevant IMO, so why bother setting
them to paper?

Ok, Onslaught's an NPC. IMO this kind of short-changes the PCs. They
struggle for years to get where they are only to find they're facing
some impossibly gargantuan set of statistics which have been
scribbled-down in ten minutes (ok, typed-up in half an hour) and that
are ten times better than they'll ever be themselves. This sucks.
(Sorry, Martin, this isn't just getting at you - I could equally gripe
about all the over-the-top gross-out RQ stats which have ever been
officially published. And, boy, are there a lot of _them_.)

BTW, instead of resorting to such dubious items as crit-proof armour
I think it would be far more satisfactory to use some kind of
plot-manipulation rules (Hero Points, Confidence Points, whatever)
to let Onslaught & Co do amazing things and survive against all odds.
This seems more in-keeping with the heros of fiction, rather than
overburdening characters with magical devices and bizarre spells
to cope with embarrasing rules shortfalls.

But this is degenerating into more of a rq-rules-digest issue, so I'll
shut up.



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