Bell Digest v931006p2

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To: RuneQuest@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (Daily automated RQ-Digest)
Subject: RuneQuest Daily, Wed, 06 Oct 1993, part 2
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From: (Colin Watson)
Subject: yet more spirit stuff...
Message-ID: <9310051647.AA06895@condor>
Date: 5 Oct 93 16:47:21 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 1917

This Spirit/God plane thread is getting rather interesting. Is anyone
bored with it yet? If so, shout, and I'll shut up about it :-)

ngl28 (Joerg Baumgartner?) raised several points:
>CW>I think physical combat is more suited to the God Plane.
>What about the borders between God Plane and Spirit Plane? They exist, else 
>shamans wouldn't be able to visit gods via the spirit plane. They do so, 
>see the rules book, Shamans (or What the Shaman says).

1-"What the Shaman Says" is not an objective view of the way things Really
  Are. It's how the shaman thinks things are. He may think the big spirits he
  meets are gods. Maybe they're not.
2-I don't doubt that powerful shamans may be able to reach the true (timeless)
  God Plane via the spirit plane - but so can corporeal people reach the GP
  from the Mundane Plane. It's just *very difficult* to achieve whichever way
  you do it. Shamans may wish to heroquest into the GP via the SP so that
  they appear in the GP as spirits (because, physically, they would have a
  hard time standing up to the rigours of the God Plane in their fragile
  corporeal bodies). Most Heroquesters would choose to enter from the Mundane
  Plane so that they appear with Substance (and hence get to use their awesome 
  weapon skills etc.).
  I don't think there's a fuzzy borderland where the SP meets the GP: either
  you're in the God Plane or you ain't IMHO.

>I hold it that places and minerals have their spirits, too. 
[...reasonable rational to back this up - deleted...]
Well, I've given my opinions about this already. If you want the SP to look
exactly like the MP then that's cool. I prefer it to look different.
[BTW Please don't take my ravings as gospel: I'm actually making them up as
 I go along (believe it or not :-).]

>And a desert would have landmarks - beasts in their burrows, plants in 
>hibernation (only faintly connected to the mundane plane), and last not 
>least the life on the edge of the desert as faraway dawn.

Good point, but animal spirits don't make good landmarks 'cos they'll move
around (in 3-D remember). And my model of the spirit plane only has "dead"
spirits in it (not spirits attached to the Mundane Plane) so only deceased
vegetation would show up. Granted, this might include a haze of ancient
trees if the Desert had previously been a Jungle.
You're right about the haze at the "horizon" too. In fact any shaman would
have conclusive evidence of the shape of the earth - all he has to do is stick
his head through the spiritual "ground" and see what shape it is from
underneath. Maybe the can even see the other side of the world...
Try convincing the Gray Sages of that one.

>So you say that plant spirits which can't attack will fade away or be eaten, 
>unless they are lucky to be attacked by weak aggressive spirits? Don't let 
>Aldrya or Flamal hear that!
Would Aldrya be annoyed? Isn't it the nature of plants to wither or be
consumed? I find it tough to think like a plant (though maybe I write like
one:). I think Aldrya & Co would be resigned to this state of affairs.

>Again my question: what if the combat result is a stand-off, with both 
>participants having succeeded a few times in the combat. Do they both get a 
>POW-gain roll?
Now, after having re-read the rules, I see why you're asking this. We always
played that you had to win an entire spirit combat to get your POW check.
However, now I see the rules indicate that you only have to win 1 round.
This ain't too bad IMO. It's easier to get a "lucky" POW check this way.
Spirit Combat tends to be very one-sided anyway in my experience.
Nevertheless, I'd say that its not possible to disengage from Spirit Combat
until one of the spirits has "won" completely. I wouldn't give exp checks
for sparring in Spirit combat any more than I'd give checks for sparring
with real swords. There has to be some risk.

>I think the RQ3 POW-gain roll is a bug, the seed for munchkinism.
Yup, munchkins are bad for ecology, spiritual or otherwise.
Unfortunately the game-system is geared toward characters advancing from
"Jethro the Farmer's son" to "Jethro the Rune Priest" in the space of a
campaign decade or two. The rules just about enable this sort of progression.
As a result, if you consider the larger scheme, it allows gross munchkinism,
given unlimited time and patience. The POW-gain syndrome is just one
symptom of this. David Dunham mentioned recently how most grandparents
become priests given lengthy campaign play in Pendragon Pass. It's rather
difficult (nay impossible) to write munchkin-proof rules which are still
fun. I think it can become futile. Better to educate GMs about how to avoid 
Munchkinism through common sense.

Dealing with munchkins:
                        1/ Warn them subtley.
...if they persist
                        2/ Ridicule them mercilessly.
...if they still persist
                        3/ Stomp on them. Hard.
(I've only had to use this last option once, and that was in a game of AD&D.
It pained me.)

>  >>I would rule only if the target spirit was completely destroyed.
>CW>MP completely destroyed, yes; but not POW. Destruction of POW should be 
>First you let the spirits (at least the non-aggressive kind) fade away 
>within short time (btw, what do people mean with "month" with regard to 
>Glorantha? Half a season, i.e. 4 weeks? One cycle of the Red Moon, i.e. 7 
>days? or one of the Blue Moon, i.e. 1 to 6 days?), then you leave thenm 
>running around emptied of life force, to be conquered again as soon as they 
>have regained one MP. This makes the aggressors gross, allowing them to 
>build up their POW by the hour. (Munchkin spirits would look out for 
>Spirits ten MP weaker than themselves, fight them down, and wait for POW to 
>rise. Repeat until godhood.)

Whoah! Hang on, consider the following Rules:
A/ You only get a POW check if you had less than 95% chance of success.
   If a spirit has 10 points less than you then you *don't* get a POW check.
   (IMHO it'd be better to say: must have less than *50%* rather than 95%,
    but them's the rules.)
B/ Only one POW gain per week, maximum. Spirits *can't* build POW by the hour.
C/ The maximum POW attainable via POW checks is equal to the species maximum.

I think these Rules apply to non-corporeal spirits as much as they do to
everyone else.
Likewise, if your favourite PC loses a spirit combat, his POW isn't destroyed
completely is it? So why should this happen to a spirit?
Given the rules, and the POW deterioration model, a creature's POW will tend to
level out: assuming successful hunting, a spirit gets a POW check each week;
he also loses 1 POW per month (which, we'll say arbitrarily, is 4 weeks); the
POW tends to level out when his chance of increase drops to around 25% (ie,
he gains 1 POW every 4 weeks from hunting, then loses it again from 
deterioration). So creatures' POWs will tend to level out at about 5 points
below species MAX. (Without POW deterioration they would all, of course,
reach species MAX eventually).
Unlucky spirits who lose combats frequently, and are unable to avoid further
combat before they recover MP, will find that they fail to get enough POW
checks to keep up with the deterioration. Eventually they dissolve completely.
Statistically this will happen to any spirit *eventually*. (I'd work it
out, but I ain't no statistician. I guess it takes decades or centuries for
biggish spirits to get that unlucky: a spiritual "lifetime" if you will.)

I'd say that building POW above species max should only be possible via
mystical means such as Worship from mundane creatures, or possibly powerful
spells. Maintaining unusually high POW would require regular worship. If
worship ceased then the spirit's POW would drop.
The great spirit of Sheep Man has a POW of 200 due to worship from the
Sheep Riders and their herds (err... flocks). But, as we know, the Sheep
Riders turned there worship away from Sheep Man to worship Rhino. So
poor Sheep Man's POW starts plummeting. Assuming no further worship, after a
decade His POW has dropped by over 100 points. It keeps dropping until
he is worshipped anew, or until it reaches his species Max (when he can start
hunting for tasty grass spirits and such).
I thought perhaps the rate of deterioration should be proportional to
current POW: the bigger the POW, the faster it drops; hence godlike spirits
would need large numbers of worshippers to keep their huge power maintained.

>CW>I see POW as an attribute which "attracts" MP from the background pool in 
>CW>spirit world. The bigger the POW, the faster it attracts MP, and the more it
>CW>can hold.
>But this background pool is fed by POW only. Still, I agree on the general 

Think about it. If the Magic pool is only fed by POW then for every MP you
lost in spirit combat (or whatever) someone, somewhere has to lose a point
of POW to replace it in the magic pool. I reckon it'd run dry pretty quick.

I think spirit combat knocks chunks of MP off spirits which land up in the
pool and can be recovered later. Conservation of Magic and all that...

[...good stuff about ghouls + elementals...]
>To enter the spirit plane, they (elementals) would have to cross the border
>of the god plane into the spirit plane, and then wander about. This makes them 
>comparatively scarce
Is this reflected in the Spirit Plane encounter tables? (I don't have them
handy.) Would shamans & sorcerers agree with this somewhat theistic view of
the origin of elementals?

>I'd like to see more types of elementals, not just will-less matter 
>animated by magic.
Yes, the book suggests using intelligent elementals as demons. I've considered
writing up a few different types of demons. Basically, if demons want to
manifest on the mundane plane, I assume they have to take over a quantity of
mundane substance to form there bodies (like elementals except the substance
needn't be a pure element: eg. bronze demons, stone demons, wood demons etc.)
Hollri use ice to form their bodies. Anyone know of any sources for RQ demons?
(I've read an old White Dwarf article about demons for RQII, but it didn't
quite fit the bill.)

CW. out of Time again.


From: (Kirsten K. Niemann)
Subject: Circling the subject
Message-ID: <>
Date: 5 Oct 93 18:33:18 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 1918

Mike Dawson again, following up Protective Circle.

Somebody replied to my solicitation for comment on Protective 
Circle. Sorry, I failed to copy your name.
Your comments appear in quotes. Can you tell I don't understand 

"Radius=intensity seems fair to me. I'd add the option that the 
radius can
be smaller than the intensity if desired. "
Why would the caster want to make the intensity of the Prot 
Circle *larger* than the radius of the inscribed circle, if the
cannot extend beyond the circle? There is nothing in the spell 
description that says the intensity of the Circle must equal the 
intensity of the Resist spells Multispelled with it.

"I agree that the circle can't be bigger than the object that it's
upon (gods help any GM who rules otherwise). "
One fellow e-mailed me of his campaign's use of the spell with 
just this interpretation. He has guys using force-fields in his 
campaign. Far beyond what I would tolerate in mine, but that's 
why I asked for comments. He also suggested that the chair (in my 
example) would sink to the ground because the earth has a 1% 
chance (per round or something) of getting through the 10 pt 
Resist Damage. I disagree, because the earth is doing NO damage 
to the circle.

(Along the same line, someone else added their interpretation of 
Protective Circle as rather like the "Dune" novel personal shields: 
you must move slowly through them to overcome them. This is 
explicitly untrue in the current rules. Note that you CANNOT 
enter a circle until you overcome the Damage resistance of the 
circle. Going slowly just makes you do LESS damage. I have no 
intention of changing this in the errata.)

"If you're going to make the inscription of the circle separate from 
the casting of the spell, then I'd add a note about how long it takes

to scribe the circle (say DEX SR + 2 SR per m radius)."
Hmmm....this doesn't quite work as a formula. The result is that 
the larger the circle, the faster the sorcerer can move while 
inscribing it! Dex SR + 2SR per M of DIAMETER is what we need.

"You listed a cloak as an example of the kind of object it might be 
cast on:
I assume this means a sorcerer can pre-cast a long duration 
Protective Circle
on his cloak and, when the moment arrives, he can roll his cloak 
out on the
ground and stand inside it. "

No, this is not what I meant. That is an example of abuse, I think. 
However, if the sorcerer's cloak (or rug, whatever) is inscribed 
along the base, and the base is one piece (a strange, but possible 
cloak, I'll admit) then he can toss it down, smoooth it out, and 
*then* cast the spell on it, without having to worry about 
inscribing a circle.

"What about the belt-&-braces approach: the sorcerer has a 
personal Spell
Resistance up, and then steps inside his protective circle of Spell 
Does he get to resist incoming spells thrice (once with the circle; 
with his
personal spell; and with his MP vs MP) ? I'd say yes..."

I'd say yes too. This is clear.

Many of the advantages of doing the spell as I suggest come from 
the necessary and colorful pre-planning that sorcerers must do to 
make the spell useful. Western castles will be built with inscribed 
circles built into tower bases, floors of Sanctums will have them 
carved in, etc. This plays a part in Strangers in Prax, where the 
presence of just such an inscribed circle in the Rubble is the 
reason a Magus  "assumes ownership" of an aerial defense tower 
called the Arm of Pavis.
I'm of two minds about allowing the actual shape of the area to 
vary from a circle. Maybe different schools have different shaped 
protections? Or maybe there are different spells for the different 
shapes. On one hand, I am generally for things being flexible, but 
on the other hand, I am also for certain magical "facts" affecting 
how cultures can do certain things: Protective *Circle* = round 
defensive works, for example. And finally, the idea that sorcerers 
must be exacting does appeal.
From a practical standpoint, what sort of a limit do you put on the 
shape of the area, if you are not going to limit it to a circular 
form? What if someone wanted an area of protection shaped like 
a starfish? Sure, you use radius= intensity, but how detailed 
within the diameter can it be?
I don't seem to have made it clear before, but I certainly intended 
the bottom of the hemisphere to be part of the protected area.
If I wanted to be really rune-wacky about the form of the circle, I 
could define the hemisphere as a geodesic dome, made up of 
thousands of triangular Law Runes, of course.
Making the Priestess Scream.
I'm still looking for people interested in forming a team for the 
live trollball game scheduled for RQ Con. I know there are more 
than a few SCA fighter types around this list. Paul, how 'bout it? 
We'd need to make up some boffer shields & such, but we should 
be able to kill & eat any other team. I guess we could call 
ourselves the "SCArs".....
David Hall, Mike O'brien, somebody: could you please post the 
live trollball rules?
Note again please, this is by Mike Dawson, not Kirsten!
M >|<


From: (Newton Hughes)
Subject: rule quest
Message-ID: <9310051842.AA28137@Sun.COM>
Date: 5 Oct 93 18:40:44 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 1919

WARNING: Rulesy stuff ahead; philosopher kings avert thy eyes

Pendragon Traits in RQ:
While I'm not as appalled at the possibility of introducing Pendragon
traits, I don't think I'd welcome it either.  It was interesting to see
the Pendragon Pass traits table, though.

Eric Johnson-Debaufre's mounted combat question:
If the Uroxi sees the Zebra rider coming he should get a chance to
swing at him, regardless of DEX.

This is the sort of thing I mean when I refer to the SR rules as buggy;
see also David Cheng's comments archived at soda in the discussions,
about people casting spells in melee.  I vote for eliminating Strike
Ranks altogether (but not going the way of Elric! either).  Even if
you love SRs you should be prepared to bend the rules considerably to
make them fit.

Just a side note about rq3 move rates:  if you add 5 to the rq3 m/sr
figure you get a good approximation of the rq2 move rate.



From: henkl@yelm (Henk Langeveld - Sun Nederland)
Subject: Re: yet more spirit stuff...
Message-ID: <9310051850.AA08190@yelm.Holland.Sun.COM>
Date: 5 Oct 93 20:50:10 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 1920

Colin Watson:

> ...Anyone know of any sources for RQ demons?
>(I've read an old White Dwarf article about demons for RQII, but it didn't
>quite fit the bill.)

That would be Jon Quaife's stuff.  His publications tend to 
grossness, to make an understatement...  I must admit that
he seems to have an interesting view of Glorantha...

>CW. out of Time again.

Henk	|	Henk.Langeveld@Sun.COM - Disclaimer: I don't speak for Sun.
oK[]	|	RuneQuest-Request@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM


From: (charles gregory fried)
Subject: PenDragon Pass
Date: 5 Oct 93 19:32:23 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 1921


Thanks for posting the traits for cults.  I disagree with (I forget who), who
says that traits are unnaturally reductionist and deterministic.  If I were
to use them, I would make them a guide for players, especially new ones. 
Admittedly, I have not play tested this, but I think a good GM could use the
traits to get the player to THINK about how to interpret their place in a
cult, not CONSTRAIN them into sterotypical behavior.

But David, for those of us who don't own PenDragon, can you tell us more
about the operation of traits?  What is the total list of traits?  Or is this
too dull?

-- Greg Fried out.


From: (Clay Luther)
Subject: Getting Players Into the Swing of Things!
Message-ID: <>
Date: 5 Oct 93 12:04:43 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 1922

In the continuing struggle of trying to help my players' characters be more 
Gloranthan, I had a discussion with my players last weekend.  Their "complaint"
(or excuse) was that Glorantha was so complex and so difficult to understand
that they weren't sure how I could expect them to even begin to know how to
act "Gloranthan."  I agreed with this assessment, and admitted that I do
deliberately spend a great amount of effort "editing" information their
characters receive, spinning it towards their point of view, or withholding or
altering/confusing information for the same purposes.  After all, I contended,
if they were told "the truth" about Glorantha or if they even began to 
understand specific concepts comprehensively like "God Learner Monomyth" or 
"Lunar Empire Liberalism," they would lose the opportunity to formulate ideas
and opinions in a role-playing atmosphere.

Of course, they countered with "How could I expect them to role-play 
'Gloranthan' when they played from within a vacuum, or at least partial
vacuum."  I then took the opportunity to enlighten them.

All of the players have characters that belong to cults.  With the exception of
the Seven Mothers initiate, they all had very detailed write-ups about their
cults and the myths and morals of their cults.  I said that the measuring stich
I had been using to judge their role-playing had been their cults all along.
I asked "Do you all consider yourselves dedicated to your cults?"  The answer
was a strong yes from each player.  "Well," I said, "then to role-play a
realistic Gloranthan, perhaps you should start by trying to role-play your 
cult's god.  You have a great deal of information about these gods and you
claim to have dedicated initates.  Why then don't your characters try to 
emulate their gods in everything they do?"

And guess what?  It sunk in.  That night I saw, perhaps for the first time,
nascent true Gloranthan role-playing from all the players.  The
Yelmalio convert thew away his flail and started using the spear and shield,
the Storm Bull player began acting like a *real* berserker, to the point 
of non-thinking-near-suicide, the Praxian nearly sacrificed his life to
protect the Arroyan from harm by jumping between her and danger, and the 
Arroyan bravely lead the rest through darkness and encountered the difficult
morale dilemma of how to determine if something was intelligent or not, and 
therefore to what extent her strictures extended to it.  The Carmanian treated
the barbarians with patronizing contempt, leaving the Arroyan to smooth the
ruffled feathers.  I ended up giving everyone a role-playing reward that 

Maybe next week the Storm Bull player will throw away his axe and start
wrestling everything he meets, subsequently pounding them with rocks and his
bare hands???

Clay Luther                    
Macintosh Software Engineer              Kodak Health Imaging Systems
Yelo's gift was a necklace of clam shells from the Ouel Stream strung on gut
string with a delicate knot of reeds which performed the role of pendant.