Super-powered power games

From: Nick Effingham (
Date: Wed 15 Jan 1997 - 02:00:36 EET

Matrin Laurie, om Simon Phipp's high-level campaign:

> From the man who has players that clobbered Harrek, Argrath, Ralzakark and
>_stopped_ the Hero Wars because they didn't "like" them?

 Having read this, I feel I have to disagree. Having spoken to Simon, and
read the notes on his campaign, I find it plausible that what happened,
happened. If Simon doesn't mind me sticking my nose into this debate (well,

it *is* a digest), then I'd like to point a few things out. Firstly, are you
stating that if your characters came up with an infallible way to slay a
major NPC i.e. Ralzakark, that you would prevent them because it interfered
with the Timeline? Surely this removes a large portion of the ffun from the
game that the chance to change the world is reserved for Greg's own
favourite characters. Secondly, did you think Ralzakark's stats were
published as filling space? Ralzakark has stats, and IMO so do all other
heroes. Harrek was once a mere mortal, and if he can become that powerful so

can anyone (or, at least, give it a try and die in the attempt -- which
would be the more likely alternative). Thirdly, Harrek was slain with the
direct aid of the Red Emperor -- a demigod himself. The PC's only, errm...
"transported" Harrek to his eventual demise at the hands of the Three
Pointed King. Lastly, you obviously believe that the PC's woke up one
morning and decided to go and kill some Heroes. To my knowledge, this isn't
correct. Even if the reason was purely material ("*I* deserve that bloody
bear skin, not him...") then the character would be well roleplayed. Simple
greed is so often undervalued as a real motive.

I think you overestimate the powers of the Infinity Rune. I am not quite
sure how powerful it is, but would hope that the exact definitions of the
Rune are available in a set of future HeroQuest rules. Just because
something is defined by the rules does not degrade or ruin it -- the rules
are merely a vehicle for your imagination, and if your imagination needs you
to know what the Infinity Rune does then so be it.

 I believe that the Infinity Rune would give Harrek a powerful edge, but
still not make him immune to dying. Although, if slain he could use the Rune

to escape from the Realms of Death, make his way through the Underworld and
return to wreak his revenge, this time with some goodies collected from the
Underworld!!!! In Simon's game, BTW, Harrek's soul was given a nice, high
priority position in Lunar Hell -- which even I doubt he could escape from.

>>The example of the Axe Maiden was merely there to illustrate that
>>it is possible to kill Harrek, not that it is the way to do it. In my
>>opinion, only a group of powerful Heroes would have a chance. Of
>>course, if your campaign has reached that stage, then why not?
>Because its boring.

 You think making world devastating decisions and risking your life in
pitched battles that bards will tell tales of for years to come in amongst
the ranks of Heroes plying for the true title of Ruler of Glorantha is
boring!!! Geez, what *does* turn you on :)

But seriously, I see that you're implying that at this level, there is no
contest in playing the game. I disagree. At this level, the contest is
merely increased. Just because your foes now include Heroes, and the type of
monster that scared you when you first began ("RUN AWAY!! Duck bandits!!
Rune for your lives!!") is now mere cannon fodder, does not mean that the
game is boring. The High-Level campaign is the true test of a GM's mettle,
how to put foes against the characters without making it seem unrealistic
("Another Crimson Bat!! In Orlanth's name, this is the third today...").
However, it *can* be done. It just means you fight less, and need to
politically out fox your foes. When the fights do break out, they're just
BIG and dangerous. In Simon's game he has the firtune that his players are
quite happy to find their own foes. Having run a High Level game, I found a
lot of fun in ad libing as a character chooses their OWN destiny for once,
rather than having to select from my designs. The power level should be seen
as an opportunity, rather than some form of shackle.

>Many people would accuse me of being a power gamer and many people, including
>myself, would be nearly right but I draw the line at nobbling Superheroes.

 Powe gaming has nothing to do with Power level. Power gaming is trying to
become as fast as possible at the expense of realism and roleplaying, in a
low level campaign this may just be switching weapons in the middle of a
fight when you've got a tick in your main weapon. Or using disrupt on your
next door neighbour to get the POW tick.

>You - say why not? I say - why bother?

 Beause we CAN!! After years of hard graft you don't want to merely reture
your characters, in Glorantha a Hero doesn't fade away! You bother because
this is your chance to shape the world, to partake in the epic stories, and
not just the small ones. That's why.

>When you play characters that tough, you've rewritten the game world,

 The characters didn't summon magic Hero powers out of nowhere, they worked
for them. And they worked for them to use them. That's why the characters
are that tough. A high level campaign doesn't rewrite the game world, it
merely allows players a greater chance to direct it. But this happens on a
smaller scale in low level campaigns. Example, your players are all members
of a village, if they begin to rig elections, or run for Thanehood etc...
they're rewriting your conception of how this village should be -- but who
are you to stop them? They're just doing what comes natural, wanting to be
better than they were.

All in my own opinion, of course,

Nick E.

Nick the Broo Shaman of Thed

    "If absolute power corrupts absolutely,
     where does that leave God?"
                -- George Daacon


End of Glorantha Digest V4 #79

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