Re: Runepower, Ephemeris

From: Donald Wachenschwanz (
Date: Fri 17 Jan 1997 - 20:03:57 EET

Paolo Guccione wrote:
> You pointed out the exact situation that makes me sceptical about
> "generic" Runepower. In your example you assume that the Orlanthi has
> proven his devotion to his god by sacrificing many points of POW. So
> Orlanth should intervene with all powers he has available to help his
> worshiper. I have three main objections.
> First of all, your solution involves a certain degree of intentionality
> on the deity's part. Does it not violate the Compromise? I believe that
> going out of the known schemes requires Free Will, which is a
> characteristic owned by the worshiper, not the god.
> Second, you are using sacrificed POW as a measure of how worthy the
> worshiper appears to the god. My opinion, instead, is that a woshiper
> proves worthy to his god by walking his or her Path as stated by the GC,
> both in re-enactment rituals and in notable deeds on the mundane plane.
> Your Orlanthi has never participated in a well-known Quest, not even in
> the rituals, so I think he risks being judged unworthy of protective
> magic by Orlanth, no matter how much POW he donated. Orlanth prefers
> worshipers who show bravery in front of the enemy, maybe calling upon
> divine powers who , not people who start crying "Oh, my god, help me
> against this foe because I have no means of overcoming him". The sort of
> prayer you suggested sounds too "chrisitianized" to my ears. A RW
> viking, which is a good template for a gloranthan Orlanthi, would never
> enter combat with such a plea to Odin: he would feel a coward if he did.

Good point. It probably is to Christianized an example for Orlanth,
although maybe not for some other cult. My original reason for
responding to this subject was that some had found runepower too powerful
and unbalanced and suggested "learning divine spells" as a way to
moderate it. But I have not found, in my group at least, the runepower
system too powerful. But my mistake, perhaps, has been in trying to find
a universal system for divine magic, applicable to all divine magic
cults. This is what happens when you switch to 3rd edition, I suppose.
I found runepower helpful because it encouraged my players to take
divine-magic-using characters (and a universal understanding of divine
magic aided that), and it balanced divine magic against sorcery and
spirit magic--both of which are like the "pink bunny" when it comes to
spell casting. It also encouraged players to consider spells like Cloud
Call which they would never take if they had to sacrifice for specific

> Third, it sounds too much like "Pay POW, get spell" to me, which I do
> not consider very good for Roleplaying purposes. I am afraid most
> players would abuse such flexibility with the excuse of the high POW
> cost, much like many tend to do with DI.
> Again, I haven't seen it, but from the number of responses like yours, it
must be a problem. And this, it seems to me, is the crux. How to
improve role-playing without *roll*playing. The way runepower has been
discussed points out that getting a divine spell should entail some
serious role-playing, and each divine magic cult is almost its own magic
system (divine magic is a less meaningful category).

And, that is why the Ephemeris program attracted me. I originally read
about the changing sky dome in "Elder Secrets," which suggested that
there would be several pages describing the night sky for each of the
seasons. My copy only showed one season (did I get a defect?). But the
idea intrigued me for role-playing purposes. My group would be setting
out to hack and slash and power game, and along the way would stop to
camp for the night. I decided to try to use the night sky as a way for
them to get in touch with their own culture's myths, and rethink how they
were acting or what they were planning to do. So I tried to change the
sky for the season and year the group was then in, and only lost more
hair. I think it has possibilities for this kind of stopping and
reflecting on how a character's culture, myths, and religion would
influence behaviour. Runepower, then, could be a gaming convenience
which improves opportunity for roleplaying.

Donald Wachenschwanz


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