Rules vs Reality

From: Jesper Wahrner (jesper.wahrner@hts.ct.se)
Date: Mon 09 May 1994 - 17:00:00 EEST


John Hughes wrote a lot of stuff about the importance of keeping different aspects of Glorantha apart namely: 1. Glorantha as Combat- Simulation, 2. Glorantha as derived from RQ rules, 3. Glorantha as literary creation and 4. Glorantha as a closed, fully functioning world. I can't help feeling that these distinctions are artificial and ought not to be there at all. I can understand why he makes them though.

The problem with RQ and Glorantha has always been that it has been that while Glorantha is a world that is a work of art and a true masterpiece, RQ has always been a gamesystem that is mediocre as best. Characters does easily become stereotypical, the resistance table is a mathematical fumble, but worst of all, the gamesystem start to break down about at the same time as the scenario is getting interesting. ie when you get to play something but generic adventurer type characters which seems to be all the gamerules are meant to cater for. When You advance to priest for example you're told that you're supposed to spend 90% of your time with priestly duties, but instead of providing means of handling this in play it is supposed to happen off play, and if you get to be a RuneLord your skills are so good at about everything that the gamesystem start to work badly. You CAN play ordinary people and get away with it, but the gamesystem is still so centred at adventuring that the rules gives little advice on how to handle it, neither for GM nor players. Thus people who are rooted in a society or those with the most mythological scope gets little help from the gamesystem.

In fact I would go so far as to say that there are only two real reasons to play RQ, but those reasons are strong enough to make me shut up and suffer the gamesystem most of the time. (Although I need to let of my steam like this sometimes, thanks for bearing with me.) The most important of these reasons is Glorantha. (The other one is of course the "Dropped oil-lamp table". I can't understand what players of other games do when they drop their oillamps. Games without DOL-tables are incomplete and not worth playing! :-) )

The problem I have with John's distinctions is that he seems to want to separate Glorantha as derived from RQ-rules into a separate object from the Glorantha we all know and love when what we really ought to do is to work to transform RQ into a gamesystem that can handle John's categories of 3 and 4 (whom I incidently make very little difference between). I see the gamerules as the natural laws of the world I play in, and every world - even those as relativistic as Glorantha - needs natural laws, if only to explain why they are relativistic. Sure, the rules will by necessity be incomplete. There will always be exotic magic and situations which the gamesystem doesn't cover, but this is not really a problem. Thats what our imagination is there for. I want a Glorantha that is a closed, fully functioning world that works as a literary creation and which I can play in. (I want it to work as a combat simulation as well whenever it comes to battle for that matter.) What is true in Glorantha as a game-simulation should be equally true in the closed, fully functional world of Glorantha. If they don't work together something is definetly wrong. (Most likely with the gamesystem.)

                              Yours,

                              Jesper


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