The merits of relative and absolute resistances (HQ1 and HQ2)

From: Eetu Mäkelä <eetu.makela_at_...>
Date: Sun, 8 Mar 2009 09:04:03 +0200

I've been following the long discussion about resistances. I think the HQ2 team has done a good job in presenting the merits of relative resistances, but there's something on the absolute resistance side that hasn't to my mind come across. I'll try to discuss it.

To base this off, I'll start with HQ1. One of the things that was revolutionary for me in HQ1 was that it gave a concrete scale to the whole of Glorantha, from infant (6) to superhero (W6) to high god (W9) to the cosmos itself (W12). Now, when you gave numbers to people or things or cities or whatever, the reader could immediately place that something along this absolute axis of power, know its capability to alter the world of Glorantha in the things it was good at.

This gave the whole world structure and order, which, if one trusted the scale, could then be used to reason and make decisions about it. I know that at least to me the scale taught a lot of new exciting things about Gloranthan power dynamics that wouldn't have come across from bare text.

Now, in none of this I am yet talking about applying the numbers to actual conflict resolution in an actual game. That had problems, particularly because players could augment themselves way out of their natural ability range, which then meant that to keep the in-world logic scale intact you had to augment your foes to match.

But still, even though you had to fudge those skills, the scale itself wasn't useless. With fudging, you just restored the order that was there before the augmenting frenzy. And in no way is this now tied to pure simulation gaming - for a game where you based resistance on story concerns, you used the scale to pick a suitable opposing force or manufacture suitable circumstances to the available opposition that set the resistance where your story (or the pass-fail-cycle in HQ2) needed it to be. You used it to give your story Gloranthan verisimilitude.

Now, if HQ2 is more story-oriented, I very much understand wanting to give relative resistances in published adventures. It's just easier to present and maintain the dramatic arc and balance that way.

But, these relative resistances really can't exist in thin air. There must still be some at least assumed baseline range for the adventure or it doesn't make sense. A player hero that could beat armies or seduce any woman alive certainly isn't going to have a 'very hard' resistance swaying a moot. That adventure just isn't for that hero.

Which in the end takes me back to the question the absolute resistance people have been asking: why can't you have both? Just state the baseline range at the start of the adventure and /then/ use relative resistances in the adventure itself to tell the story. Or even better, give the opponents absolute numbers by which to place themselves in the Gloranthan canon, and then give suitable possible circumstances and reasons that can be used to shift that number to where ever it needs to be in terms of the story.

With only relative resistances we can run the adventure, yes, but it makes it that much harder to extract the NPCs out of it, into more general resources.

If you already know Glorantha like the insides of your pockets, you don't need this. If verisimilitude isn't important to you, you don't need this. But it matters to some, and it might not cost that much in the end to also cater to those for whom it does.

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