From: Nick Brooke (100270.337@CompuServe.COM)
Date: Sat 05 Jun 1993 - 00:10:11 EEST
You ask, reasonably enough,
> ...why can't there be different or competing schools of
> sorcery which interpret the wheel of elements (and the
> runes in general) differently?
> The meaning of the runes from which the cosmos is formed
> are thus still in dipute, and so why should there not be
> different sorcery schools based on different interpretations?
You're right. And, temperamentally, I accept that I am one of those futile doddering old greybeards who's happy to argue the Gloranthan equivalents of "What is the vocative form of Ego?" or "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"
> When two experts on this stage disagree, most normal people
> can't tell what the savants are arguing about.
Ah, but that's why we have to "Educate, Agitate and Organise"! How else will they learn?
Actually, I think the argument is interesting in a broader perspective than *just* worrying about what the various "schools of sorcery" believe. If the Runes are really at the base of everything, then their associations ought to permeate the fabric of the game system. It is *called* RuneQuest, after all, though it'd be hard to say why these days...
> I fear that we are going to be stuck with the one-size-fits-all
> generic mythic-Europe system of RQ3 for reasons only of
> backward compatibility with a system that no-one really likes &
> has no Gloranthan feel to it.
What a terrible fear! Tell us it's not true, somebody...
Y'know, it strikes me that if RQ3 sorcery is such a *fine* system already, the guys who love it (Dustin) can carry on using it while we forge ahead into the obscure Gloranthicisms of RQ4...
>> The rewriting of the RuneQuest rules is quite properly >> following an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, course. >
Me too. Even sorcery can evolve into something more interesting. And what's the point of having a workable grammar of Runes, if you don't use them?
This was a very sensible analysis of sorcery in society. Authors on this subject tend to forget that, just as Rune Priests serve a primarily socio-magical role, so too do the Wizards of the West. If you write sorcery rules that only deal with sorcerers' perceptions of the world, you are engaged in essentially barren work. They have to eat. People have to want their wizards to survive. Drawing the parallels with RQ2 (Knight = Rune Lord, Wizard = Rune Priest, peasant = nobody much) is probably useful: it will at least remind other authors to consider the other sides of society.
> If we plan to have a set of rules covering sorcery,
> they will, by definition, appear mechanistic.
Yeah? Like the Rune magic and spirit magic systems do? I don't see why sorcery has to be so much more dead and soulless than the other systems. Or do you suppose this is a cleverly manipulative way the RQ authors are using to prejudice us against these vile atheists?
> I think knights should be denied all access to magic, even
> enchanted armor and weapons. This is not a very big
> disadvantage, because a knight armored in unenchanted
> iron plate is almost completely immune to all magic.
I read "Son of Sartar #4" (written back at the dawn of time) for the first time yesterday, in which Greg proposed that Hrestoli knights gave up their ability to use any form of magic in exchange for magic-resistant iron armour. So you're unwittingly on the same track! (Always nice to find that's happened). In #3 he wrote about the traditional enmity between Hrestoli knights and Zzaburi wizards...
> We don't want this to only work in Glorantha.
*I* do. That is, I don't mind at all if it does only work here. I like being in Glorantha, and don't want my enjoyment to be reduced by the blandly generic nature of the sorcery rules. If you like other worlds, you can adapt ideas from other game systems. But making something good'n'Gloranthan is hard work. Nobody else is going to do it for us.
Your suggestions for Things Sorcerers Can Do looked interesting. Leave it to the Game Balance folks to argue the case against: I quite liked the look of some of them.
What a neat idea: using special combat (and other) "sub-skills" as a Gloranthan / mainstream equivalent to Land of Nihon's Ki powers. I've always been taken by the idea of including these in mainstream RQ, as they make "Skill Mastery" mean something once again -- now anybody can teach, it's as if the only point of getting 90% skill is to qualify for various ranks, which is a profoundly mechanical approach.
Anybody know why it's 90% and not 100%, incidentally?
> Now we know that Lunars have moon boats.
Do you think they're hot air balloons propelled by the Red Moonlight, too? Moving towards the moon, away from it, or tacking at an angle, depending on which way they turn the red and black halves of the moon-rock-coated sphere; speed of propulsion dependent on Lunar phase (outside the Glowline). That would explain why they don't turn up in a military context in Dragon Pass: you can imagine what Orlanthi Rune magic could do to one outside the protective safety of the Glowline and Molanni's Still Air...
> Magic, even in a magic rich world such as Glorantha,
> should be mysterious and uncertain.
Agree with the sentiment and the approach. This looks like a good moment to chuck in my ha'penn'orth (mechanics, I'm afraid). Something we tested last Sunday was a Spirit Magic casting die-roll of 1D20 against POW (rather than the old POWx5 +- Magic Bonus - ENC on 1D100). Similar to some Pendragon mechanics. My original idea was this:
Success (roll < POW) meant you could cast up to the number of points of spell you had rolled on the die. So if you wanted to cast Bladesharp 6 but rolled a "2", you could only put up two points. If you were trying for a hefty fixed-cost spell (Lightwall at four points), you'd need to roll between 4 and your POW to succeed.
Critical success (roll = POW) meant you could cast as many points of the spell as you owned, for one Magic Point only.
Failure (roll > POW) was no trouble.
Fumble (roll = 20) meant you wasted a Magic Point.
This could be trimmed to fit your own conceptions: Failure might cost 1 MP and Fumble the full number you were meaning to cast, if you like penalising people for screwing up.
Then, I got a weird idea and tried it:
A success meant that, at the moment of spellcasting, the maximum number of points of spirit magic you could have running was equal to the die roll. So if I've cast my Protection 5 and want to get Bladesharp 3, but roll a 6 (<POW) on the D20, I can choose: Bladesharp 1 & Protection 5, Bladesharp 2 & Protection 4, Bladesharp 3 & Protection 3. So, if I'm not trying to cast a new spell, the old ones last for their normal duration. It's only when I start messing about with my - aura, adrenalin, attitude, karmic balance, whatever you say - that my spirit magic portfolio can change.
Chuck in the new Magic skill of "Focus" (gives +1 to effective POW per 5% of skill for the purposes of spirit spell casting only), and you can tell the professional spirit magicians from the amateurs. Get a high enough skill at Focussing, and you can cruise through magical engagements under your own Power (all those critical rolls).
'Course, the testing wasn't *that* good, as the player characters were a bunch of Yelmalions, burdened with the most useless spirit magic out (since I outlawed Lightwall as a silly spell). And, for some reason, players put a lot of character development into the glittering novelty of Focus skill, rather than sticking it in sensible places like Farming skills...
Was this the kind of thing you were looking for?
> Would any reasonable person become a priest if that
> meant that they would have to give up 80% of their
> time and income in return for regaining spells on a
> seasonal rather than yearly basis?
Well, I'll ask my vicar about that some day. Seriously, though, there is *far* more to cult rank than magic. Think of the social advantages and responsibilities of having your own little flock of initiates / villagers at your beck and call. Of talking to God on a daily or weekly basis. I'd go for it! (How much time does a nobleman "give up" to enjoy the perquisites of his rank?)
Have you got anybody distributing your fanzine in the UK (and doubling your market), yet? I liked what I saw of issue #1, though the libels against our clan were deeply uncalled for! Honestly! Broos at the Big Elm! Whatever next?
Sorry I pissed you off yesterday by cruelly dismissing your enthusiastic suggestion for a mechanism to regulate social attitudes. But, to cover the same ground at somewhat greater length, *unless* we know what kind of people Pavisites (etc.) are, we can't work out how to fit them into a "collective personality sheet". And *if* we know what kind of people they are, we don't really need that any more.
It could work. Some people (the Mostali?) might use it. But it's probably easier to write up the insights into cultural attitudes that you would put into such a system in plain English than to do so in comprehensible / usable rules-speak (rather than as a chain of disjointed numbers, which anyone can write). And, at the end of the day, it's not going to shackle us evil improvisational game-masters at all (unless we find we enjoy the extra constraint...).
More broadly, there's the thorny question of the RuneQuest applicability of Personality Traits. Let me say first and foremost that I *love* them in Pendragon. At first approach, I thought "Argh! Greg is trying to kill role-playing!" But once I'd seen how they worked in practice, in that game, I was hooked.
The problem is, Pendragon is a one-culture game. Even if you're not a Christian Chivalrous Knight, you are rated as if you were one by the game system. Fair enough: I like being chivalrous, or being penalised for falling short; it's appropriate to the genre. But in RQ we have to find a set of traits that would be equally valid for rating a Lunar Illuminate, an Orlanthi Wind Lord, a Dara Happan Patriarch, a Troll Matriarch, or a Duck ("A Duck what?" Who cares: just a Duck), *without* leaving any of them looking on the character sheet face as if they were naughty people with no moral sensibilities ("What do you mean, calling me 'Selfish'? I'm 'Frugal'!").
It *might* be possible to do it by, say, attaching different (favourable or prejudicial) names to a set of opposed traits, represented by the constant eight or ten Power Runes: Orlanthi would consider Stasis "Stuffy" while Yelmic types might call it "Grave" or "Dignified". Vice versa, Orlanth would have "Loving" where Yelm would have "Lustful" for the Life/Fertility rune. I've not spent any time developing this, yet; has anyone else out there taken steps in this direction (to save me the work)?
Then you could pull in the Elements to run as Passions, as in Pendragon's (unopposed) Love, Hate, Fear: is that Earth, Storm, Darkness so far...? Plus Moon for Insanity (most people don't have this one!), Fire for Pride (Modesty not being a particularly Gloranthan trait, so this is unopposed). That leaves Water unattached -- some kind of vagabond nomadic Wanderlust might be appropriate? (The kind of thing most sightseeing PCs seem to develop). I honestly don't know.
That's a rambling chain of thought, not a finished suggestion. Develop it, ignore it, criticise it, refute it. Rudely, if you want.
"You can't make an omelette without breaking wind"
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.7 : Fri 10 Oct 2003 - 01:31:00 EEST