rules rules rules

From: David Cake (
Date: Tue 14 Oct 1997 - 05:29:12 EEST

> - Magical grammar which can explain the magic in detail.
> - Storytelling approach which could be described as learning by
> flavor.
> The first is best represented by Fantasy Hero/ Champions role playing
> game. Where everything about a spells, characteristics and skills
> costs character points and thus balances the whole.

        Actually, in Ars Magica spells are quite explicitly a grammer, in
that every spell is classified by (Latin) noun verb pairs, so a spell is,
for example, Creo Herbam (I create plants).
        But the Hero system is probably the most complex and
completeexample of how you can work these sort of systems.

>> What gifts do the gods require to perform the acts the characters
>> want? Do the hero powers come as knowledge or as a mystical ability?

        I feel that 'hero-powers' generally come in the form of knowledge,
but it may be knowledge that is impossible to communicated by normal means,
which is what you might consider a mystical ability. For example, I think
Garundyer thinks of his ability to leap onto his own javelins as a trick
that he knows, rather than something he just does, but that doesn't mean he
can necessarily show you how to do it (though he could explain how he
learnt it, and you could try to repeat it). But hero-powers can come in the
form of magical objects, magical allies, or changes to a beings nature (ie
becoming some sort of new being, perhaps one with new powers) as well. Or
it may simply be a change to the world, and the heroquester gets nothing
for themselves except the experience. Heroquesting can be just about

Pasanan Panu
> Knowledge hints a bit at God Learnerism, but there are secret paths,
> like those Arkat used.

        All those divine spells are mostly secret paths (or not so secret)
- - a ritual that you perform that grants you a bit of the gods power. Of
course, there are parts of the path that are impossible to walk if the god
has reason to be upset with you, but its still a path. Arkat just learnt
some other peoples paths, and started to mix and match.

>. Sorcerer heropowers would
> be knowledge-oriented, IMO.

        Actually, I think (oddly) that sorcerous heropowers are frequently
less knowledge like than divine. Admittedly, a purely sorcerous heroquest,
designed simply to get better at sorcery, is likely to be thought of in
terms of gaining knowledge, but most heroquesters from sorcerous cultures
are not like this - they want to gain insight *beyond* mortal learning.
partly because they are so good at learned knowledge already, partly
because they do not want to intellectualise/comprehend/classify/name the
heroplane so explicitly (Ie they want to meet the Black Knight, not Humct)
as a reaction against God Learnerism (this is Nick Brooke's idea, from his
excellent web site), and and partly because they are not looking to become

master magi so much as Saints or heroes (ie your average Hrestoli
heroquester wants to emulate Snodal or Hrestol, not Zzabur).

>Also, since AH took back the RQ system in their lair, don't you think
>that the next Game For Glorantha is gonna be totally different from
>the one we're using ? Is there any trouble in view if the next system
>is to close to RQ ?

        Yes, and Yes. And I don't think that the plans of Chaosium are that
the new game will be much like RQ in any case. Which is fine by me.

>The spirit plane is so important in Glorantha that it should be
>described a lot more and be a world where something more than "you
>encounter a Spell Spirit with POW 15" or "you must defeat the Man Man"
>can happen.

        Yep. The spirit plane needs a huge amount of work. At many times in
the past, this has been discussed. In particular, I've had a lot of
conversations about it, most recently with Steve Martin. One of these days
I'll write some stuff down :-)

>By splitting magic in three systems, it's becoming hard to establish
>new forms of magic.

        I don't think this is too big a problem, as long as you don't take
the three systems bit very literally. The three magic systems represent the
humanist, theist and naturist approaches to magic - ie they represent three
really different approaches to magic, so its fine that they are three
        Just as long as its understood that the division into three is a
broad generalisation, never intended to be true in all specifics. You can
mix the approaches, Gloranthans do, and this is reflected in the rules.

>Just take Lunar magic, which is based on a mix of
>sorcery and spirit magic, but which looks just like a mix of those two
>and not a school of magic of its own.

        But Lunar magic IS a combination of Malkioni influenced philosophy
and the magics taught by the cults of Peloria, relying on the insights of
the user (spirit magic) not the power of the goddess herself (divine) for
its basis. So you could argue its just as it should be.

>I suggest that we make just two systems : the Effect System and the
>Power System. So, we could have a list of the effects possibly made by
>any magic in glorantha and a list of ways to acquire the Power to cast
>those spells.

        While this works, at the expense of some blandness, for the common
magics, one of the most important features of Glorantha is that there are
many specialist/unique spells, often available only to a specific cult. So,
are you suggesting that spells like Peaceful Cut, Find Oasis, Stabilise

Masonry, or Spawn Manling should be available to all types of magic? Or
should this list of 'Effects' contain hundreds of entries available only to
a single form of magic?

>Also, with
>this list of effect, it would be easy to make improvised spells, one
>of the MAJOR lacks of the RQ rules.

        I don't think improvised spells are something that is supposed to
be practical with Gloranthan divine or spirit magic - I think improvised
divine magic is called heroquesting, for a start!
        And sorcery is already pretty flexible. You can get pretty close to
improvised magic using a flexible interpretation of multi-spell.

>Also, shouldn't we first talk about which characteristics would make
>the next system ?

        No. We should first talk about what we want the game to do that is
new and different. If all we want to do is make another RQ, then I figure
Elric! with a close approximation to RQs magic system (plus Sandy's sorcery
or some other rewrite) is good enough. But I want a lot lot more than that.

Pasanu again
>IMO, lunar magic should have something to do with the caster's
> illumination, and it's effects should also hit the brains.

        The Illumination allows you to understand that all those dozens of
spirit magic charms you have learnt are just expressions of universal magic
principles, that can be expanded on and extended.

        And we already have Mindblast. Lunar magic can affect the mind -
but the true follower of the Red Goddess knows that the Lunar way is about
comprehending the new mind, not tearing down the old.

        I just want to also mention that Sergios giant list of
characteristics, attributes, passions, etc made my brain reel, and my eyes
glaze over, and looked like the just the sort of game I really don't want

Gloranthan roleplaying to use.

        Personally I want to see a game that
1) has relatively minimalist basic rules. Most of the success stories in
RPGs of late have relatively minimal rules (not all, but most). We want to
emphasise storytelling, and grow the Gloranthan fandom community, not
create an over-complex game that is hard to learn.
2) has really good stable base rules. The problem with many minimalist game
systems (ie Vampire) is that the base rules are intrinsically crap, and
don't scale at well, have big problems, etc. Of course, they also
camouflage these problems with an emphasis on storytelling, and a whole
pile of special purposes rules that make the game potentially interesting
(ie vampiric disciplines), which any Gloranthan RPG will (of course) do as
well, but it would be nice to have rules that will continue to work in a
variety of campaign styles.
3) has a few really innovative ideas on how to cope with the big issues
that have been tackled by the RQ/Glorantha community over the years, like
heroquesting, the personality of the character and its role in the game,
magic as a societal thing as well as an individual thing, etc. Most of
these are areas that we just fumble towards with RQ, lets have a game that
lets us tackle them head on.
4) is a lot of fun - you are able to play fast, exciting, and enjoyable games.

        I don't see a whole bunch of complicated attributes really figuring
in there anywhere. I'd rather start with a few basic mechanics, and then
work out which attributes we actually need.




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