Subject: News from Gimpy's, Volume 2, Number 3 This issue: Problems I do not have in my campaign (Steve Maurer) An alternative RQ experience system (Adrian Joseph) On the Limiting of Power (Joel Rives) [Ed's note: I think I've fixed the mail system problem, so quick response should be the norm. Especially since I'm in the computer room from 9 am to 3 am... Boy, here we have a big issue and I didn't write any of it! (Except a little editing...)] --- From: email@example.com (Steve Maurer) Subject: Problems I do not have in my campaign... Of the problems I have in Runequest, a bunch of Jack of All Trades characters is not one of them. Typically my players end up too busy to scientifically try to get all the checks they can, because any NPCs in battle are busy trying to kill them. Pathetically weak opponents, who fanatically continue combat even when they know they're outmatched are rare in my game, so the characters either can't get checks in secondary weapons because the enemy runs away, or they're too scared to use anything but their best. Then too, the characters don't always ( -ever- ) have the chance to fight, return, practice for exactly one week, resume battle, fight, return, practice, etc. My characters live in a campaign world, not a misty netherland of individual descrete adventures. Reasons and/or opportunities to fight are not static situational things - usually the NPCs catch on that the players have a base camp, and track them to go raiding it, or move out of reach, or do something else that is logically reasonable to turn the situation to their best advantage. (Of which allowing their enemies to train is not one). Thus, the "Check Zoo" has never become a problem in my game. In fact, to relieve the problem of not enough experience, I've lately been allowing players to "stack" checks from different battles for later rolling. Say several battles occur over the course of a couple of days - then for each battle, they may "save" the check for later. (I don't allow this for Pow, of course, but for everything else it seems to work ok). For weapon damage ranking, I have changed the RQ skill system slightly, to make things more realistic at the higher levels. (Not that I have too many players at the higher levels - the PCs average 15% Lay, 70% Initiate, 7% Runepriest, 5% Runelord, 3% Hero). In my variant, there are 7 different levels of success: Fumble, Miss, Hit, Special, Critical, Special Crit, Super Crit respectively. Each are as they are in RQ2, with a Special Crit being 1/5 a normal crit (01 on 100% chance), and Super Crit being 1/400 of the chance to hit. In an attack/parry sequence, the levels of success are compared to each other, with the results being shown as below: Parry 2 better - Blow blocked, do damage to attacking weapon and/or special parry applies (See Sword Biter) Parry 1 better - Blow blocked Equal Success Levels - Blow blocked, roll for weapon damage Attack 1 better - Attack normal damage Attack 2 better - Attack "special" damage Attack 3 better - Attack best of "special" or "critical" Impaling weapons, as a below Attack 4 better - Attack "special" and "critical" damage This allows me to run occasional Heroquests, with all the Runelords running around with only a mere "20% chance to special". As everything is basically up one notch on the hero plane (i.e. everything has a 100% chance to make a parry), a "special" is like a normal hit. Steve Maurer --- Subject: An alternative RQ Experience System From: ajoseph@Cs.Ucl.AC.UK Hi Folks, well there seems to have been a lot of discussion about experience in RQ. Most of the discussion seems to be about the problem of the polymath (or JOT) encouraged by the RQ experience system. Our old gaming group also noticed this problem, exemplified by the weapons caddy, a person whose sole job is to carry around a selection of weapons so that his master can take turns in striking with a variety of different weapons on avarage improving equally with each (maybe not unreasonably), but also improving as fast (assuming he hits at least once with each weapon before changing) as somone who specialises (sp?) in one weapon. This is, of course, an extreme example, but it does show up the general problem. We decided we wanted an experience system that reflected what we believe to be the situation in the 'real world'. So, you have to decide what the(/your) truth is about the real world. We decided that we wanted our experience system to encompass the following points: a) The more you do/try something the better you get. This deviates from the RQ rules in that we decided improvement can be achieved by both success and failure, that is, you can learn from mistakes as well as successes. This also includes the idea that the amount which you use a skill will affect the rate at which it improves. b) The more you know about something the harder it is to learn something new about it. This conforms with both the old RQII and new RQIII training. Although this is also included in RQII to some extent, we didn't like the way it was implemented. c) The more intelligent you are the quicker you learn. This is yet another bonus for intelligent characters, but none of us objected to it and we were still happy to play not so bright characters, and in any case who said life was fair!! Okay well those were our objectives, we had played an SF game, Universe which had a lot of good ideas, but was very poorly put together. However, Universe has an interesting experience system which we borrowed and modified to get the following: 1) Skills are devided up into ranges (similar to RQII), the ranges we use are:- 0-25 26-50 51-75 76-100 101+ (%) 2) Each skill range has a BASE maximum number of points of possible improvement, ie before the standard RQ period of R&R. The BASE for the skill ranges is as follows:- 4 3 2 1 1/2 3) Each characters actual maximum skill improvement is calculated as: actual max = ((BASE max)/10) * intelligence [note 0.5+ rounds up otherwise round down. If you feel up to it you can keep all fractions, but the book keeping will increase.] Since the actual maximum improvement for any character in each skill range will remain constant (unless their intellgence changes) it can (should) be calculated beforehand. 4) The method of gaining a skill improvement is as follows: each time a skill is used (whether successfully or not) the actual number shown on each of the dice (this assumes rolling two D10 to get a percentile roll) is checked if one or both of the numbers displayed is an improvement number for the current skill level, then ONE improvement point has been gained. The improvement numbers for the skill ranges are as follows: SKILL RANGE 0-25 26-50 51-75 76-100 101+ IMPROVEMENT NO 0,1,2,3 0,1,2 0,1 0 0 [In this as in standard RQ the GM says when it counts, no playing around to get higher skills] Thus a character with a skill of 38 who rolls 92 gets one possible improvement point, if the character had rolled 33 although they would have successfully used their skill they would not have gained a point. Also not that a roll of 00 will always result in a possible improvement point, the character will learn never to do that again! Note that any points gained in excess of the characters maximum are lost. Also as with standard RQ there is no actual skill improvement until after the R&R period. Okay well as far as it goes we think it's okay, note as with any new system it will take a while to get used to and at first (particularly in the heat of battle) it may be difficult to remember to look at the numbers on the dice for skill improvements, however, this soon becomes second nature. One point to note that at higher skill levels characters may only be able to get a fractional improvement, such fractions should be noted and kept, added together until they make a full point. [You may want to round to easy fractions ie 1/2 1/4, or if your feeling particularly adventurous to keep all fractions,no rounding] This may seem unfair; however, comparison of this system with the old (RQII) system will show that on avarage a frequently used skill will improve slightly faster. So far so good, we now have a reasonable (we think) system where the more you use a skill the faster it will improve, but there is still the following problem:- A party comes up against a locked door, the master locksmith tries to pick the lock and fails, so somone else tries and then somone else ... Okay now let's be honest; if a master locksmith failed to pick a lock how many of us would even bother to try? Why? because if he can't, what chance do we stand? So, in order to introduce some semblance of reality we rule that each character after the first attempting to do the same thing receives a cumulative -20% modifier; i.e., the first person does it at normal skill, the next at -20%, the next at -40%, -60%,... Naturally, your modified skill must be positive to allow you chance to succed or improve. This will encourage the best person to try and do something first; i.e., specialisation. This rule is also used in other situations in a modified form, for instance when moving in a double line formation, we allow only the two front people to use their full spot hidden/trap skill to the front, and may allow a modified roll for the second rank. However, in the case of a party searching a room, each character would get their full skill (for the part of the room they are assumed to be searching). In this as in all things we play with a great deal of GM's options; let's face it, if you don't trust your GM you might as well not be playing. This sort of system encourages specialisation since the best get to do, and those who get to do (or at least try) get better. So, for instance in our party one of the main fighters is best at spotting hidden (ambushes), but the main thief is the best at spotting traps. Anyway, that's a sample of the experience system we use; it does involve a little more book keeping than the original RQII system, but we think it provides a more realistic and hence a more enjoyable system. I would be greatful for comments about the system, particularly from any who try it for a while. I hope its interested you, have fun Adrian --- From: Joel M. Rives
On the Limiting of Power Dynamics is the lifeblood of adventure. A static world is not only boring, it is probably dead. One area of dynamics, in particular, tends to involve the life of the stalwart adventurer most often in the world, the struggle for power. Whether the character is a willing participant in this neverending play or not does not matter. It will touch their life in a variety of ways -- often shaping their decisions with the lure of opportunity. In the lands of fantasy, where RuneQuest adventures are most likely to occur, the types of power which the inhabitants of this world will covet the most might easily fall within three broad categories: physical might, magic and knowledge. It doesn't take much of an imagination to realize that, with limited resources, being able to restrict others from access to these powers is just as important as aquiring more personal power. This ideology provides a great mechanism whereby the GM can limit the development of characters in areas they see fit to do so. Sure, any character can USE magic but can they find someone who will help them gain the ability? Why should the priests capture spell spirits and the sell the power like a public utility when they can hoard the magic and thereby ensure their usefulness? What king is going to encourage the common citizenry to purchase arms that they can then turn around and use to revolt with? No one wants armed and armored rowdies wandering the streets both day and night. Having or being a personal bodyguard (and thus a license to bear arms in service) might well be a service which the local captain of the guard would keep under tight reins -- in the name of the king, of course :-) Knowledge of all kinds -- especially that which which can be easily turned into profit -- is probably the most prized and least understood resource of power available to all peoples in these lands of fantasy. The artisan and crafter does well to covet the knowledge of their respective trade. Guilds may impose stiff penalties upon those members who divulge trade secrets without going through the proper channels. To accept an apprentice is a serious matter. The master will want to be certain that the one they teach will remain in the craft and not merely learn the techniques and then run off to do something else. Religions, too, recognize the value of knowledge. There are certain ideas and concepts which can not be properly understood, without the careful training provided through the priesthood. Thus, this knowledge must be guarded against the untrained mind. Military leaders understand full well the immense value of pertinent and up-to-date information about enemy nations. Knowledge is a coin, which the clever adventurer will choose to hoard away, for given freely, its value is greatly reduced. Who knows but that someday a well kept secret may prove the vital bartering point that will save the adventurer's life? --- The RuneQuest(tm) mailing list is a courtesy of Andrew Bell. All opinions and material above are the responsibility of the originator, and copyrights are held by them. RuneQuest is a trademark of Chaosium, Inc. Send submissions, mailing list changes, requests for old article lists, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or ...!mcnc!duke!romeo!acb Request old articles by volume number and issue number.