>I agree with Mike that here is an example where the rules don't work
>well. It IS a contest between the three, and unlike some things
>(like "can you jump this tree") it is not just a matter of who
>succeeds, but there should normally be a first, second and third.
I'm being misread here. Or, rather, Bryan gave me this idea, so maybe I misread him. To clarify: The problem that I have is with using a third party to create a comparison between two competitors. That is, in a race I would not have two racers compare to the course, but instead to each other. In part because that's what the rules suggest, and in part because the alternative is likely to produce non-specific results.
BTW, someone covered that in another post saying that you could use margin to determine victor, but that's even further outside of the rules, and even more unneccessary. Since there's no problem with direct comparisons to begin with (unless you have a certain Sim view, in which case the easier process is just to drop the special rule for magic).
I thought there was a way to do three parties at once in the Simple Contest rules that did work. I'll have to research it, tho. In an extended contest I'm certain it works perfectly well.
>Another problem is that the rules don't give a clear way of setting
>the difficulty and judging success levels in situations like running
>a certain distance in a certain time.
I think this is a total non-issue. Contests are about who wins, not about precisely how long it takes. For some reason I'm reminded of the movie Meatballs, in which Rudy has to run a cross country race. Does it matter at all what his time was? No, the only thing that matters is that the meatballs defeated the snooty kids.
If you feel a need for an exact time, then you really ought to be playing Hero System instead of Hero Quest, because that's the primary difference between these two games (outside of setting). Funny thing is that most HS players should actually be playing HQ.
>I do agree that the result of magical abilities can vary greatly, and
>perhaps oddly to those not used to Glorantha, depending on the
>situation and opposition.
I don't think that this is what happens. Again, you're trying to say that the typical mechanical effects of the abilities match the in-game effects one to one. Which simply isn't true. The character with the magic always has the same level of in-game power, no matter what the circumstances. He'll just tend to win in play more or less often depending on the circumstances. In-game this just has to be put down to bad luck or something, it cannot be that the character will note a change in his ability.
Again, this is hard for people to wrap their heads around, so I don't expect instant understanding. But, essentially, you keep saying over and over that the game intends to do something that most games do, but that this game does not. And that is having the mechanics directly represent something in-game in all cases. The magic rule has to be metagame. If you don't like that, the solution is just to drop it. But it works just fine as is, without saying that magic that is appropriate to some task has different effects in-game at different times (though you're free to rationalize that, too, if you like).
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