Bell Digest vol02p03.txt

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: vsi1! (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

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

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


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


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