Re: RuneQuest Daily, Fri, 28 May 1993, part 1

From: G. Fried (address.removed@nowhere.tld)
Date: Sat 29 May 1993 - 10:41:19 EEST



Greetings. G. Fried here.
I'd like to respond to Paul Reilly's excellent posting on sorcery. I will confess that I am so uncomfortable with the RQ III sorcery system that I simply ignore it, so I will restrict my thoughts to broad conceptual issues and hope that proves useful too.
My sense is that most of us fell in love with RQ because, unlike games like D&D, the myths and the system gave real texture to characters and to the cultic magic those characters wield. SOmehow, RQ III stumbled and produced a sorcery system that seems more like an outgrowth of a game system. How do we fix this, given that -- as Paul points out -- Avalon Hill cannot be expected just to scrap the campaigns it has published? One possible answer, very broadly sketched: Develop a sorcery system, as many have suggested, based much more closely upon the runes themselves, using runes as 'nouns' and 'verbs' in magical sentences. This would be the fundamental sorcery system. But here's the clincher: not all (or many, or even any -- since Time began) sorcerers have complete knowedge of this true sorcery. Then, the sorcery system outlined in RQ III could stand as one of many schools of partial, or fallen sorcery. THis would permit what so much of us love in RQ: the development of many different kinds of sorcery (on the analogy with the even more numerous cults) given different histories. Without going into specifics too much, what I'd like to see in a rune sorcery system is a much larger array of spells which would be thought of as 'proven' rune 'sentences'. In addition sorcerers should be able to wing it by inventing their own senstences, even on the spot, with some system to calculate how hard this is. RQ is largely about interpretation: cultists agonizing about how to best emulate their god, and even reforging the meaning of gods on the hero plane (qv the discussions about Humakt in the Digest recently!). Sorcerers should be engaged in pushing the limits of the meaning of the runes themselves. Sure, the Death rune means death, but it also means severing, separation, pain, hate etc. Different gods appropriate different interpretative aspects of the same rune; Humakt reads Truth as honor, Lhankor Mhy reads it as knowledge. Sorcerers manipulate the nuance of meaning in the runes in devising their spell 'sentences'. (By the way, in English, we call them magic 'spells' because it was once thought that anyone who had power over the art of writing, the representation of reality, could 'spell' you!) If we can devise a sytem whereby we give each rune its obvious, not-so-obvious, and really-reaching-for-it interpretations, then we might devise a way to calculate how hard it would be to put together certain spell sentences. The current sorcery system just represents a small selection of successful sentences.
As far as the present sorcery mechanics go, it seems to me too many of the spells relate to game mechanics. Something is wrong when you've got guys like in Griffin Mountain with 20 HP in in a location, 20 AP and 20 damage boosting! This ruins the feel of the game. Also, why are all spells just as easy as each other to learn? They should be more or less difficult depending on the interpretative weirdness of their runic 'spelling, perhaps on the sorcerer's level of mastery with the runes concerned. Perhaps different schools 'tie' the magician closer with certain runes, making learning and casting certain spells easier. Instead of having a % score in each spell, have a skill in spell-casting alone, with plus and minus given for the difficulty of the spell, its range and intensity, etc. OK. Enough. These are just ideas. A wish list for the FLAVOR of sorcery I'd like to see. Those of you working on the mechanics, do with it as you will, and good luck!
-- G. Fried
(Message rqd:92)
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