Bell Digest vol05p07.txt

Subject:  The RQ Digest,  Volume 5,  Number 7


First Distribution:  January 19,  1991

This issue:
	Willpower			(A.V. Gieskens and M.P. Claessen)
	InsightQuest #001				(Mike Dawson)


From: (Daniel Gieskens) and

Subject:  Willpower

        		W I L L P O W E R

Willpower is the power to change or manipulate various kinds
of things purely by using one's mental energy, by bending
one's will to it.

The chance for someone to have willpower = (INT + POW - 30)%
The maximum chance however is 20% (that's for humans and
demihumans, there maybe ather races such as the Ki-rin which
have willpower always.)

To use a willpower ability, you have to succeed in a skill
roll. This skill has a base value of (INT + POW) * 2%. This
can only be increased by ceremony or an increase of Power or
Intelligence. When nothing is mentioned at the place of the
ability, use this base chance, otherwise use the modifications
mentioned. The chance can also be improved by using the
ceremony skill.
One standard modification is used: when using multiple
abilities at once (for example scrying and telekinesis) the
penalty is -15% per extra ability used. This penalty aplies
for all used abilities! This also counts when multiple
abilities are used subsequently in one round.
The time a WP-ability takes effect is at the DEX-sr., no
For some abilities the term xp (experience) is mentioned. This
xp is the same as the profession xp in years (thus for humans:
age - 15). Exceptions are ruled by the GM (for example: when a
player character has 6 years thief and 8 years soldier xp. of
which 3 years simultaneous, the WP (willpower) xp is 11
MP's used for willpower must be "your own" MP's, that is you
can't use willpower with stored MP's (from power spirits for
example). It is however possible to fill your current MP's up
to full power for resistance. Example: you use 5 MP for WP,
and then you fill it up (from your bracelet with a MP storage
of 6 MP's) till your maximum 18 (you are a lucky power 18
individual). Now you resist with your full MP's (18) , but you
only have 13 MP's left for use with willpower.
MP's used for an WP ability count double versus defensive
magic (not for overcome rolls!), this counts for boosted MP's
too. For normal spell casting by WP-user, all Mp's count
Willpower in effect can be felt by other WP-user at a range of
3 meters per MP in use. The WP-user does not have to react to
this feeling.

There are some abilities which every willpower using
individual has. These are:
   - Regeneration of 1 MP. per 10 minutes.
   - Concentration: if succes in skill roll, offensive and
     defensive MP. are multiplied by 4/3 for 5 MR's. This
     ability cannot be used while using another ability, but
     can done before so you have higher overcome chance.
   - WP-user has a strong gaze. Ther are two version (as far
     is known) and it is possible to have them both. Roll
         D100: 01-45  gaze A
               46-90  gaze B
               91-00  both
     gaze A:   The ability to bind the otherone's
               eyes; if overcome you will bind his
               eyes for one MR. (may then roll
     gaze B:   The ability to make the otherone look
               away; if overcome target will look
               away for 7 sr's.
     both gazes hinder spellcasting and melee for the target
     (assign arbitrary penalties). These are the only
     abilities which require no skill roll.

The following abilities have only a chance to be had.
Willpower abilities cannot be gained, you start of with them
at birth, you'll only learn how to use them more effectively.
(although powerful wishes and divine interventions are always
nasty rulebreakers). Roll first for the firestarter ability,
if this ability is gained, all other abilities have only half
chance. The standard chance per ability is 16%.

             W I L L P O W E R - A B I L I T I E S

1)   Firestarter    range:sight
                    duration: 1 sr. (although the effects may
                    last longer).
     A) From 2 xp.: Warm, 1 MP, Effect: One object heated to
                    40 degrees C., difficulty: + 10%
                    (repeatable after 1 MR)
     B) From 4 xp.: WP-user cannot be harmed by burning from
                    candles or equivalent fire (GM rules each
     C) From 5 xp.: Ignite, 2 MP, Effect: one object can be
                    ignited doing 1D10 damage to the object
                    (each round, if it isn't put out), up to
                    wet wood can be ignited. At 7 xp skin can
                    be ignited, at 11 xp iron (not silver,
                    copper, mithril etc. only iron) can be
                    ignited, doing 1 D10 dam directed at AP.
                    The last two (skin and iron) fires die out
                    in one round unless supplied by fuel.
                    difficulty: +5%
     D) From 7 xp.: Flamethrower, 3 MP, Effect: a flaming
                    inferno somewhat like a dragonbreath (area
                    = 2 meter width, POW meter lenght) damage
                    is 3D6 (armor absorbs) just like the
                    original RQ dragon breath. The flames are
                    shot from both hands. difficulty: +0%
     E) From 8 xp.: Willpower-user cannot be harmed by natural
     F) From 10 xp: Fire Ball, 4MP, Effect: a fire ball doing
                    2D(xp) damage in 1/2(xp) meter radius, or
                    1D(xp) damage in (xp) meter radius.
                    difficulty: -5%
     G) From 11 xp: Willpower-user cannot be harmed by fire
                    from elementals.
     H) From 12 xp: Firedance, 3MP + 1MP/MR (including the
                    first round), Effect: user and non-magical
                    gear is enveloped in flames which will
                    deliver 2D8 damage per round to anyone in
                    melee range. The dance will cost the user
                    10 FP/MR which are payed after the dance.
                    Non-magical equipment is lost, magical
                    equipment will be slightly warmed. In the
                    dance, normal melee activity is possible
                    for the user. After the dance, the user is
                    tired but unharmed from the flames.
                    difficulty: -10%
     I) From 13 xp: Willpower-user cannot be harmed by any

2)   Aura of fear   range: extra MP's squared (MP*MP), so 2
                    additional Mp's would give a radius of 4
                    duration: 1 MR.
                    cost: 3MP + points spended for range.
                    effect: as divine fear spell with half
                    offensive MP's for everyone in radius.
                    difficulty: - range (in meters)%

3)   Aura of friendliness
                    range: as aura of fear.
                    duration: 1 MR.
                    cost: as aura of fear.
                    effect: make overcome roll for everyone in
                    radius with half your offensive MP's.
                    fumble makes enemies, succes makes friends
                    for 1 turn (10 minutes), special makes
                    friends for 1 day, critical makes friends
                    as long as in neighborhood (mininmum of 1
                    difficulty: as aura of fear.

4)   Bodyarmor      range: self.
                    duration: special (see below)
                    cost: 1 MP/2 AP (max is xp in MP).
                    effect: this ability will make the hide so
                    though that it gets more AP's. These AP's
                    decline. Roll after each round under your
                    base skill , if this roll is failed, the
                    AP's will lessen with 1D3 points.
                    difficulty: +10% (+0% for decline rolls).

5)   Bodyweaponry   range: self.
                    duration: as long as sustained with MP's
                    cost: 1 MP/MR.
                    effect: The willpower-user has a number of
                    points, equal to xp. Each point can be
                    used in several ways:
                    A) Phantom weapon: 1D2 dam and 1AP per
                    point used for this (2D2 is D4 and 3D2 is
                    D6, GM will rule what exact dice are. For
                    example 7D2 can be 2D6 + D2 or 2D4 + D6.
                    Always use a few dice as possible.) This
                    weapon is used at the skill of the melee-
                    weapon it resembles (this also counts for
                    natural weapons).
                    B) +10% Attack or parry.
                    C) +3AP to parry object (hand or phantom
                    D) +2 damage if upon natural weapon.
                    E) +5% dodge.
                    difficulty: -5%

6)   Chameleon-power
                    range: self
                    duration: as long as sustained with MP's
                    cost: (1MP + extra enc MP's)/turn
                    effect: The willpower-user will blend with
                    his surroundings. Worn objects up to 10
                    enc. are also blended. Above 10 enc., the
                    worn objects will cost 1 MP/6 enc. When
                    remaining still, the willpower-user is
                    invisible to normal sight. If he moves, he
                    can be seen if a scan roll at -20% is made
                    by the observer. The user will still be
                    audible if moving. Smell and touch will
                    detect presence normally.

7)   Clairaudience  range: sight (1 meter into or past solid
                    objects), unlimited if place is well known
                    (such as your own house.
                    duration: as long as sustained with MP's
                    cost: 1MP/minute
                    effect: Willpower-user can hear at the
                    place designated. This is normal hearing.
                    If a creature is the target (so you will
                    hear what he hears) and he is unwilling,
                    you must overcome him. If this roll is
                    within 10% of failure, the creature will
                    feel something. Defensive magic must be
                    overcome with own MP's (not MP's used for
                    - familiar place or sight: +10%
                    - through rock or unresisting target: +0%
                    - resisting target: -10%
                    - through metal: -20%
                    - through mithril (if you use this metal,
                    notes on this will follow later): -75%

8)   Clairvoyance   all as clairaudience except that hearing
                    is now seeing (use sight of willpower-
                    user, so elf can use infra-vision (see
                    later notes: new player character races)).

9)   Domination     range: sight
                    duration: as long as control is not broken
                    (see below)
                    cost: 5MP, 10MP if unnatural actions (the
                    target would not want this, for example a
                    lion doesn't want to let go of it's prey)
                    are forced, 15MP if very unnatural actions
                    (such as suicidal action, murdering good
                    friends etc.)
                    effect: Willpower-user can control actions
                    of another being. If unnatural or very
                    unnatural actions are forced, the target
                    has to be overcome besides the normal
                    skill roll for willpower, otherwise only
                    skill roll has to be made. If the overcome
                    roll is failed, the control is broken and
                    the target will usualy be angry (though he
                    may not know who did it). Control can also
                    be broken when willpoweruser wants it or
                    when user or target is unconcious (sleep
                    KO). When stopped willingly by user,
                    transition must be done carefully (caster
                    needs one round for this), because when
                    transition is done abrubtly, target
                    notices this and will be angry (as above).
                    difficulty: (user-POW - (target-POW

10)  ESP            range: xp in meters or xp*5 in meters (see
                    duration: as long as sustained with MP's
                    cost: 1MP/MR
                    effect: Willpower-user can read the
                    thoughts of other intelligent beings. The
                    range for this is xp in meters. Only one
                    "thought" can be read in a melee round.
                    The chance to read the right "thought" is
                    a INT vs INT roll (this reflects the
                    relative complexity of the target's
                    thoughts). after 10xp, the thoughts of
                    animals can be read. Their power is used
                    in stead of thier INT for the resistance
                    roll. This ability can also be used for
                    scanning for thoughts and thus for
                    scanning for intelligent beings. The range
                    for this use of ESP is xp*5 in meters,
                    penetrating through xp in cm of solid
                    material. The willpower-user can scan an
                    arc of 120 degrees in one melee round.
                    (only mindbar-like abilities can stop this
                    scanning, for mindbar see further notes:
                    willpower ability 16)
                    difficulty: -10%, for scanning:+5%

11)  Etherealness   range: self.
                    duration: special (see below).
                    cost: 6MP + 1MP/4 enc. carried or touched.
                    effect: The willpower-user becomes
                    ethereal, which has the effect of still
                    being visible, but hardly audible (near to
                    not audible). You can only hit and be hit
                    by magic. Two ethereal beings however can
                    hit each other normally. Roll each round a
                    skill roll, if the roll is failed, the
                    willpower-user will become normal after 1
                    round (this is 12 seconds!). After 10xp,
                    other living material can be take into
                    etherealness as well but remember that enc
                    costs MP's
                    difficulty: 0%

12)  Fly            range: self.
                    duration: as long as sustained with MP's
                    cost: (1 + 1/2move + 1/10enc. carried)MP's
                    per turn.
                    effect: Willpower user can fly (no wing
                    flapping needed, just like a jetpack).
                    Levitation can be done and costs only 1 MP
                    per turn.
                    difficulty: +10% -5% per extra MP spend
                    (on move or enc.).

13)  Knowledge of Beings
                    range: sight (although very far is very
                    duration: nearly instantaneous.
                    cost: 1MP (although more may be needed to
                    penetrate defense).
                    effect: If the target is overcome, the
                    willpower-user will know name, approximate
                    age (+/- 10%) and origin (Gm's may opt to
                    keep this vague). Special success with the
                    overcome roll, the willpower-user will
                    know the exact place of birth (although he
                    may not know where the place is). Critical
                    success will let the willpower-user know
                    who the parents were, date of birth and
                    general "habitat".
                    difficulty: +0%, -5%/mtr distance, +10% if

14)  Knowledge of objects and places.
                    range: sight
                    duration: nearly instantaneous.
                    cost: 1MP.
                    effect: Information will be revealed
                    dependent on the type of success of the
                    skill roll. Success will give basic
                    purpose, approximate age, origin and if
                    it's magical or not. Special will give
                    last being that touched it (image) (note
                    that the last being who touched an arrow
                    found in  a body of a being, is the being
                    self.), technical details and general
                    magical powers and spelltypes. Critical
                    will give most spells specifically and
                    creator is seen (and named). This ability
                    can only be used twice per item,  once on
                    a distance and once touched (by the way
                    willpower-user doesn't count for last
                    being that touched the item). from places
                    similar things will be revealed (last
                    being been there, purpose of the place,
                    creator of the place (if any) etc.).
                    difficulty: -10%, -5% per century of
                    age, -5 % per meter distance, +15% if

15)  Mind over body range: self.
                    duration: as long as sustained with MP's
                    cost: 1MP/MR.
                    effect: STR CON and DEX are increased by
                    XP and move is increased by half xp. Roll
                    each round a skill roll.
                    difficulty: +5%, -5% per MR used with this
                    ability since last sleep.

16)  Mindbar        range: self.
                    duration: 24 hours.
                    cost: 6MP.
                    effect: This ability adds 8 defensive MP's
                    versus mind-affecting spells and abilities
                    (such as certain willpower abilities).
                    Furthermore, it gives the willpower user
                    an xp*10% chance of knowing the direction
                    of the origin of the spell or ability, and
                    an xp*5% chance of recognizing spell and
                    caster (if these are known by wp-user,
                    else the respective patterns are memorized
                    and can be recognized later). The latter
                    effect, affects a broad range of spells
                    (including scrying, choking etc.).
                    difficulty: -50% +5%/xp (max = +10%).

17)  Preservation   range: self.
                    duration: 1 turn.
                    cost: variable (see below).
                    effect: Each MP spent on this ability,
                    will protect against 1D4 of area effect
                    damage (for example dragon breath) or 3
                    points of poisonous gas. The maximum of
                    MP's which can be used simultaneously with
                    this ability is xp/2. 1MP suffices against
                    drowning. (example: 5MP protects against
                    2D10 firebreath and less, and against 15
                    points of poisonous gas.) Excess damage is
                    reduced by protection (for example: 5MP
                    vs. 3D8 damage will become 1D4 damage,
                    3D10 will become 1D10 etc.)
                    difficulty: -5%/2MP used (1 MP is +0%,
                    3MP's = -5% etc.)

18)  Regeneration   range: self.
                    duration: as long as sustained with MP's.
                    cost: 1MP/2HP regenerated, rounded up.
                    effect: Willpower user can regenerate hit
                    points at the rate of 1HP/2SR, but user
                    must concentrate on it, so no other
                    activities are possible during
                    regeneration. Limbs can be regenerated,
                    but the cost is 1MP/HP and the speed is
                    only 1HP/turn. This ability cannot
                    regenerate general HP lost by poison.
                    difficulty: 0% (limbs at -20%).

19)  Shapechange self
                    range: self.
                    duration: until altered by user.
                    cost: 2MP + 2MP/shift +1MP/4SIZ
                    effect: Willpower user can alter his shape
                    to become another creature (physically
                    only, no magical or mental abilities are
                    gained or lost.). Determine cost with the
                    following table (change within own race
                    cost only 2MP's + 1MP/4SIZ difference.)
                    1. Own race.
                    2. Humanoids.
                    3. Land based mammals.
                    4. Water, amphibic and avian creatures.
                    5. Extra shift.
                    6. Mythical creatures.
                    7. Extra shift.
                    8. Specials (unique creatures, objects).
                    The maximum of MP's used in a change is
                    equal to xp. Change's between shapes are
                    not possible, first you have to change
                    back to normal and then you can change to
                    your new form.
                    difficulty: +10% -2%/MP used over 2MP.

20)  Shapechange other
                    range: 1 creature.
                    duration: until ended by target.
                    cost: as shapechange self.
                    effect: Willpower user can shapechange 1
                    other creature (willing!). For the total
                    number of shifts also count the number of
                    shifts to reach own race. Example: a human
                    shapechanging a dwarf to some other dwarf,
                    with same size, costs 2 + (1 + 1)*2=
                    6MP's. Note that own race is still race of
                    willpower user! Otherwise it is exactly
                    the same as shapechange self.
                    difficulty: Own POW - Target POW - 2%/MP
                    cost - 1%/MTR. distance.

21)  Shapechange object
                    range: 1 object.
                    duration: 1-6 rounds (see below)
                    cost: 2MP + 2MP/Shift + 1/MR
                    effect: Willpower user can shapechange 1
                    object permanently. This ability can only
                    be used once per 2 weeks, once per object
                    ever. If xp > 8 then this ability can be
                    used once per week, if xp > 12 then once
                    every 4 days and twice per object. Magic
                    items will resist according to their
                    relative power (have to be overcome with
                    POW of item being 1POW/MP of spell effect
                    in it (master rules)) if the item is
                    overcome, everything will be normal, but
                    when it is failed, roll on following
                    01 - 70 nothing happens
                    71 - 90 item is changed but magic is lost.
                    91 - 00 item is not changed and magic is
                    To calculate the total number of shifts,
                    use table below.

                                   Dead tissue (wood)
                                       /     \
                              Raw Metal       Marble
                                |               |
                              Iron            Glass
                             /    \             |
                        Steel      Bronze     Fancy Stones
                          |          |          |
                       Silver      Copper     Ruby & Diamond
                          |          |          |
                      Platinum      Gold      Unique Stones
                          |          |
                       Mithril     Dragon-scales

                    Quantity of material decrease with 50%
                    each step down and doubles with each step
                    up. Maximum steps down is 1/4xp. The
                    quality of items is increased by 1 each
                    round of concentration. 1= very bad, 3-4=
                    normal, 6= Top quality.
                    difficulty: 0% - 5%/MR of concentration
                    (roll each round! so 1st round -5%
                    second -10% etc.) difficulty can be
                    increased or decreased by master, for
                    example a complex lock might have an
                    additional -15%.

22)  Shortport      range: self.
                    duration: instantaneous.
                    cost: 1MP + 1MP/4MTR shortported.
                    effect: Willpower user can teleport short
                    distances on sight, this is *very* fast.
                    Incoming missiles can be evaded this way
                    if the missiles are seen. It also can be
                    used to dodge a blow in combat but in both
                    cases (missile and melee, the shortport
                    must be stated before the attack roll is
                    made. As the shortporting is done on
                    sight, it only works in a straight line
                    with no big obstacles. After 8 xp, the
                    facing  at place of arrival can be chosen
                    (so you can shortport diagonally behind
                    someone with your face towards him so you
                    can attack him immediately from behind.)
                    difficulty: +5%.

23)  Telekinesis    range: xp*2 mtr.
                    duration: as long as sustained with MP's
                    cost: 1MP + special (see below).
                    effect: An object can be moved at a
                    distance by the willpower user. Every 5
                    rounds a successful skill roll has to be
                    made, at that point also the MP
                    "sacrifice" has to be made. The weight
                    that can be moved is 1 enc. + 2SIZ/MP
                    extra spent. Move is 1 + 3/MP extra spent.
                    The minimal move needed to make an attack
                    is move 7, each 6 move over 7 adds 1D4
                    damage. A telekinesed object has 2
                    actions/MR, attack and parry are base
                    willpower skill. The maximum MP's spent at
                    once is equal to xp. Example: When you
                    want to animate a greatsword of 3.5 enc.
                    With 1D4 damage bonus, you'll have to
                    spend 1+ 1(for the weight above 1 enc.) +
                    4 (to give it the necessary move of 13) =
                    6MP's. These MP's have to be paid every 5
                    rounds (if you want to continue animating
                    the greatsword of course). The total
                    damage done by the greatsword is now 2D8 +
                    difficulty: +15% -5%/extra MP (in the
                    example above, difficulty would be +15 -
                    5*5 = -10%).

24)  Telepathy      range: special (see below)
                    duration: as long as sustained with MP's.
                    cost: 1MP/5MR
                    effect: Willpower user can communicate
                    with other beings telepathically. The
                    range is sight is target is unknown,
                    bordering planes is target is well known,
                    and unlimited if target is well known and
                    can use telepathy also (this doesn't have
                    to be willpower). More telepathic links
                    can be formed at the same time but
                    additional links cost 2MP/5MR/link, and
                    this counts as more than one ability used
                    at the same time (so increasing
                    difficulty). After 12 xp. the willpower
                    user can get some response from tree-like
                    beings and plant life. This can only be
                    used once per 25x25 Mtr. area.
                    difficulty:    +15% if target speaks the
                                   same language.
                                   + 0% if target speaks other
                                   -70%+xp*5% if target has
                                   fixed INT (this is up to -
                                   -45% if with tree-like

25)  Teleport       range: depends on MP's spent, but normally
                    one plane.
                    duration: instantaneous.
                    cost: 5MP + 1MP/2SIZ carried over
                    bodyweight + 14MP/plane travelled.
                    effect: Willpower user can transport
                    himself instantaneous from one place to
                    another. This place must be known, or at
                    least seen. Plane travelling can be done
                    after 10xp. If an area is protected by
                    magic, Mp's can be used to boost the
                    teleport to pass through the protections.
                    Note that only somebody with POW 19 or
                    more can do plane travelling.
                    difficulty: -40% if used instantly, +5%/MR
                    of concentration, up to a total of +5%
                    (reached after 9MR) GM can assign
                    increasing difficulty if for example place
                    is only seen once.

                        - The Black Panther -


From: (Mike Dawson)

Subject: InsightQuest #001

InsightQuest  #001  10/31/90
Encouraging a dialog on the more philosophic questions arising
from RuneQuest, Glorantha and role playing in general.
By Mike Dawson

        When the experience tables in RQ are combined with the aging
tables, some very interesting effects can be extrapolated.   What
is the result of skill increases per year plus an average
lifespan of over 60 years?  Deadly Senior Citizens. There is no
limit to skills learned by normal previous experience.  For
example, a completely ordinary 55 year old civilized peasant
farmer/initiate is fully qualified to be a Priest of the Earth
Goddess and/or Ernalda.  He has 10 points of rune magic, a Heroic
level of Plant Lore, and meets all other requirements as well.
He is also very dangerous with his chosen weapon.  Granted his
ritual skills are low, but they meet the minimum necessary for
acceptance.  This class of person is the most numerous in the
        Here's a person who is frail, but very skilled and magically
capable. He's not even very frail--odds are good he will live
another 20 years. Peasant farmer/Earth Goddess initiates are not
the most dangerous in combat terms, but they can get mean if they
choose the right spells.  In any case the observation holds true
for other, more dangerous professions as well.  Old folks may be
frail, but the system defines them as very dangerous, though they
are completely ordinary old people!
        So my question is:  How much does the ref allow the game
system to define the nature of the world?  If you follow the
system closely as a guide, then the world ends up being peculiar
in ways the designers may not have anticipated or wished.  If you
do not use the system as a true definition of the world, what
sense does it make to create anyone by those rules?   Would you
use the system at all, and if so, when?
        This question hold broader meaning for other parts of the
world.  If you choose to follow the profession guides literally,
think what it means for places like Arolanit, where ordinary
farmers can be over 400 years old.  With Plant Lores over 500%,
why can't those ordinary farmers manage to feed the whole world
from their small farms?

        RQ is an immense body of work when combined with Wyrm's
Footnotes, old Different Worlds articles, scenarios, cult books,
etc.  A reasonably complete collection takes up several feet of a
bookshelf.  Is it surprising then, that the various overworked
writers and editors have let mistakes and contradictions slip by?
In some cases the contradictions seem to be on purpose.  The
unresolved differences in Gloranthan creations myths are the most
vivid example here.
        Other mistakes are obviously the result of careless or
ignorant editing.  The best example I know of this is the cult
%ages for the yellow elves in the Elder Secrets book.  According
to them, 2% of the Embyli are members of Babeester Gor.  However,
the Babeester Gor cult is an all female cult, and Yellow elves
are all male, except for Dryads.  Unless the writer/editor
intended to suggest that ALL Yellow Dryads are Avenging
Daughters, something is off.  Unfortunately, not all problems are
so obviously wrong.
        So, my question is: How willing are you to say, "I don't
care what the sourcebook says, X just doesn't make sense when I
take Y and Z into account?"  Unless you pick and choose your
truth, Glorantha is a place of wild contradictions.
        Is that necessarily a bad thing, you ask?  The real world if
full of contradictions.  Now we head off into deep levels of game
philosophy.  I agree that the real world is full of APPARENT
contradictions, but if I were going to try to referee the real
world, I would want to know what is really true and what is just
a difference of opinion.  Perhaps I would decide that no one
really knows the truth, and that everyone is wrong.
        Nevertheless, as a ref, I feel it is necessary to actually
know what is REALLY true in any world I run.  If I don't know,
then there is no way for me to understand the world I am running.
Here are just a few things I would need to decide to run "the
Real World:"

        Who killed the Kennedys
        Who really runs the government (any government)
        Whether any religion is true
        If magic is real
        If souls exist

        The ref of a world contains the entire universe in his head
and in his notes.  No other truth exists beyond this for a game
world.  How could characters ever discover something else?  For
this reason, I believe that if a ref does not know what the
Ultimate Truths for his game world are, then there are NO
Ultimate Truths for that world.  A coherent world cannot exist in
a meaningful sense without these truths being in operation.
Without them to guide and constrain the ref, the characters are
just running around on a cardboard stage.
        Here are just a few things I need to decide to run

        Who really dismembered the Blue Moon
        Who really runs the government (any government)
        Whether any religion is true
        How magic is done
        If souls exist (dwarfs & brithini deny this)

        "Such things are unknowable by mortals" you say. Perhaps, if
you decide so as a ref.  (That in itself is near to being an
Ultimate Truth.) Remember, however, that there are things in your
game world that you are required to be in charge of as the GM:
The Inhuman King, True Dragons, Zzabur, Demigods, Lhankor Mhy,
The Great Gods.  Do any of them know any of these Truths?   Could
any of them end up talking to characters?
        Perhaps this all seems a bit esoteric to you.  Well, here
are a few True or False examples of things that might work as
Ultimate, or just important, Truths in Glorantha. Try answering
all of them True, then think how it would affect the way your
world works.  Then reverse it, and try them all False.

AN ULTIMATE TRUTHS TRUE-FALSE QUIZ-----------------------------
Ultimate Truths may not be known by mortals.

Dragons are the sole true creators of the Universe.

Glorantha is the most important world in the Universe.

Chaos is the font from which all existence springs.

The four differing theories on world creation (Spiritual,
Theistic, Mystical, Humanistic) are all reconcilable parts of a

The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself.

Conflict is inherent in any system.

Perfection is not sustainable.

Mortals are not capable of perfection.

The humanistic view of gods as false sorcerous creations is
exactly correct.

Correct maintenance of ritual roles is more important than free

Some of these are more important than others, but any of them can
have far-reaching effect in a campaign, just by having the ref
keep them in mind as he runs the game.

        OK, the pcs have just killed the mayor in a brothel, and the
Humakti High Sword for the town has witnessed that they did it in
self defense.  They hold solid evidence of the entire city
council's involvement with the local Krarsht smuggling ring, and
are too tough for the average local bad boys to silence easily.
They go public.  What happens now?
        Most refs, I am afraid, have a great deal of trouble trying
to figure things out in a rational way.  In fact, I think many
refs are uninterested in figuring it out rationally--they just
wing it, basing their decisions on what they think will be the
most interesting twist.
        So what?  What's wrong with making the plot twist in
interesting ways?  Nothing at all, if your PCs are more
interested in story than free will.  However, to my mind, just
"winging it" for dramatic impact has some problems.  When it
comes to the larger effects PCs can have in the game it is
EXACTLY the same as "winging it" while running hand to hand
combat.  If the ref is going to intervene capriciously in the
fate of the PCs on the large scale, then how is that different
from fudging die rolls during combat?  In both cases, don't
opponents succeed or fail on the whim of the ref?  How can the
players feel any true sense of accomplishment when the ref is
juggling their fates from hand to hand in order to create "a good
        "There is a difference," you say.  "Combat has rules, but
the political and social interactions involving a scandal-ridden
town council are not codified.  They are not part of a game
system and MUST be estimated and guessed at by the ref.  If he
has to guess, why not guess in the direction of the best story?"
        In response, I say that the problem is that there is no
system for the interaction of people above the small military
unit in RQ (White Bear & Red Moon notwithstanding).  What a ref
needs, for any game, is a system that allows him to track the
health, power, ability, influence and members of groups more
complex than a small unit.  It needs to be possible to find out
what happens when the PCs discredit the town council, spread
nasty rumors about the baronial guard captain,  provoke a
citywide fight for dominance between rival gangs, or get a clan
declared anathema by the Ecclesiarch of Leplain.
        Any suggestions?  Anyone care to outline the problem of
making a system?

        No, not the real world.  Glorantha.  The first really good,
mainstream fantasy world, a progressive leader in the early 80's,
has been in sad straits for the past several years.  I am not
interested in finger-pointing.  I just want to know what you
would do if you had full authority over everything that is RQ and
Glorantha.   What would you publish, how would you publish, who
would you get to write, to draw, and how would you market it?
Other companies, originally slow to support the world campaign
concept, have jumped on the bandwagon that has Chaosium's logo on
the front seat.  These late-comers  made big bucks with a product
less interesting than Glorantha, while the high quality of the RQ
stuff failed to catch the attention of the mass market.  How
would you change this?
        The only stipulations I put on your suggestions is that they
be at least vaguely practical, have some hope of making money,
and that they in no way compromise the high standards set by
Chaosium for Gloranthan products.  Here are a few topics that
might affect your train of thought:
        Your emphasis for publication--large sourcebooks (whole
countries and regions), large scenario packs (Into Uzdom),
Compendiums (RQ Companion), or smaller adventures (Apple Lane &
Snakepipe Hollow), or something new?
        Style of product release--Boxed with lots of stuff &
gimmicks (Masks of Nyarlothotep), Boxed & big (Genertela, Gods of
Glorantha), shrink wrapped (Apple Lane, etc.), or something
        Importance of graphics--will strong interior art sell you or
your market? Will weak art keep you from buying it?  How
important is color on the inside?  How important are color maps.
How many colors?  Should they be like, say, Harn with gorgeous,
very expensive maps and graphics in full color?
        Price range--can it be more expensive than competing
products, the same, or should it undercut things like Forgotten
        How would you change things to make RQ more competitive to a
larger market?  (Please, no cyberpunks in Pavis.)

MARTIN CRIM ADDS: in talking to Mike about this, we discussed a number
of topics large and small, but I'd just like to add two:
        First, add to the list of true/false questions the
proposition "Nysalor illumination is a gift of ultimate truth,
not a chaotic illusion designed to ensnare and destroy."  What
does deciding THAT do to you, the GM, in your perception of the
        Second, when Mike talks about the living world, he's really
talking about a framework for dealing with problems like this:
there's a mood on the street (or in Pavis, a mood in each
neighborhood) and people can manipulate that mood magically.
Some GM's would ignore this, leaving the players without a clue
as to something their characters would know and consider
important.  Others would fudge it, hoping to attract player
interest through an interesting story line.  Mike is a
"clockmaker God" GM, and wants a game system for tracking and
resolving such things.

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