some random Onslaught and powergaming rubbish

From: David Cake (
Date: Fri 03 May 1996 - 12:00:28 EEST

>There was an excellent, amusing article in an old Different Worlds or
>White Dwarf which depicted the four types of gamer and the characters they
>would play: the Power Gamer, the War Gamer, the Roleplayer and the
>Story Teller. I wish I could find it: if I could, I'd post the example of
>"The Power Gamer". Anyone else out there know what article I'm referring

        Yep. The Fourfold Path. It has certainly passed into our gaming
groups oral tradition. Particularly when the War Gamer of the group (or
anyone else really) is unable to come up with a name, the character is
always referred to as 'G7'.

        And for interests sake, I know of at least one campaign where
Onslaught would have.... well, not been outclassed, but certainly fitted
in. He would have been a little more complete in his combat abilities, and
so on, but certainly in the right company.
        And yes, even the people playing in it thought it was dreadful
        Oddly enough, that campaign featured an illuminated shaman of Black
Fang/Krarsht/Daka Fal, as mentioned by someone recently - its obviously a
classic RQ Monty Haulism.

        Is Onslaught a power gamer character? Well, yes. Does that mean
Martin is a power gamer type? Not necessarily, though some of his comments
on Onslaught seem to suggest that he may well be, and others suggest that
he may not be. He probably just has tendencies in that direction, which
many of us do. I certainly prefer high powered games to the 'collection of
farmboys' style game so loved by many of the Tales crew - does that make me

a power gamer? I happily admit to some minor powergamer tendencies, but
that is certainly not the only or even main reason I like high powered
games (I enjoy a strong political element, and I like people to be given
some moral authority (to make their moral tests more important)).
        Personally, I think Onslaught a power gamer character, but not
because he is too powerful - I am sure there are many Gloranthans that
could chop him into little bits. Onslaught is a power gamer character
because all that military and magical power is there without context. He is
just a tough guy. His heroquests have gained him nifty powers and magic
items, but other than that not really changed him much. He is a cult hero
with almost no connection to his cult. None of his individual items is
overpowered to an unbelievable level. Even the critical proof armour is NOT
some Martin L. powergamer special - its a fairly standard Iron Dwarf magic,
and critical proof armor of Onslaughts level is the sort of thing that you
might expect to see on a senior Iron Dwarf - the thing is that wrong with
Onslaught having it is the lack of explanation for why he has it, and the
lack of influence on his life for owning it. But his items are all simply
'items' - things Onslaught has, rather than items that carry with them
history, obligations, enemies, allies, etc. Martin has tried to provide
some context for these items recently, and it does make Onslaught seem a
little better than when first posted, but it still doesn't really cut it
for me - his items now have a small amount of history, but still don't seem
to be as important in the greater scheme of things as their power would

        Rather than simple a collection of tough combat abilities, a true
Gloranthan hero should have powers that work on a bigger scale, and carry
with them a place in both the social world (incur obligations, alliance,
enmities) and the magical (they should change the character, not just make
them tougher, but make them a bit more divine, more subject to the magical
world). It may be that Onslaught could chop Argrath into bits in a Humakti

duel - but Argrath is unquestionable more effective. He has hero powers
like Giant friendship - which is militarily far more effective, a dozen 15
meter giants being able to kill even more people than an Onlaught. Does
this mean Argrath is a 'Power game' character too? Not really - he gains
the power through a storyline that sounds an awful lot like the sort of
storyline that involves a lot of roleplaying. It is also a good deal more
interesting as a power for PC or NPC, in terms of good old MGF. And even
Martin admits that Onslaught as an NPC adds to his game fun largely as
comic relief! Onslaught as a PC is someone who only a powergamer would want
to play. Argrath, despite probably possessing some equally gross abilities,
is definately a character that a storyteller or roleplayer would enjoy

        If something is to be salvaged from the onslaught of Onslaught
related mail that is swamping the digest (besides some cautionary
experience with the character of Martin Laurie - offendeth him not, for
your in box will fill to overflowing with strongly argued responses, yea,
and this will continue well after the point of boredom as been reached.
Like Joerg, but with more testosterone and less reliance on Gloranthan
minutia :-)), it is some insights into the nature of Gloranthan (or
Staffordian, I guess, a distinction important to some of us) heroes.
        To wit - there is a lot more to being a hero than being really
tough in Glorantha. We already know that the most important thing about
attempting the most difficult heroquests is to have support from your
community. It seems that most of us think it works the other way as well -

not only do you need community support to become a powerful hero, but the
most powerful heroes are those that support that their community back. Its
not an absolute rule - but even Harrek is tied into his community, and
gains quite a bit of his importance because of it (even if his community is
of Wolf Pirates).




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