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JonL last won the day on September 10

JonL had the most liked content!

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About JonL

  • Rank
    Senior Member
  • Birthday October 23

Profile Information

  • Location
    St. Louis, Missouri - USA


  • RPG Biography
    Not all the way back, but pretty far.
  • Current games
    Star Wars using Warbirds.
  • Location
    United States
  • Blurb
    I play in a group that sets Tolkien's song lyrics to string band music, The lonely Mountain String Band http://lmsb.me

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  1. JonL

    Paper Wars - Dragon Pass at War

    It was an Unspoken Word publication. Perhaps paging @blackyinkin might be fruitful.
  2. JonL

    Clever Dice Tricks

    Lots of good stuff here. I second the Go stones as HP tokens. This past weekend I added another prop: I took a bunch of white and red poker chips and marked the whites with +3, +6, or +9, and the reds conversely with -3, -6, and -9. Handing them out proved faster, more visually apparent, and less fumble-prone than my previous die approach. I recall fondly a player laughing, "Man, I gotta get rid of this thing." while holding a red -6 chip in his hand like it was heavy as lead.
  3. I'm psyched about the wall-hanging cloth maps, and by "wall-hanging cloth" I mean "gaming-table-cloth."
  4. JonL

    HQ at Archon 42

    I was prepping for Friday afternoon's session when I heard that Greg had passed on. As it turned out, I got two players who had never heard of Glorantha before. One of them had previously only played D&D and another had never played a tabletop RPG until that day. I can't think of a better way to mark the old man's passing than by initiating these lads into the mysteries of the tribe. One even hero-formed Ernalda while giving Wandle a piece of her mind. The youth session ended up with NINE players (two boys and five girls, including my two daughters), because I'm a big softy who couldn't turn away any kid who wanted in. For three hours, they exceeded my expectations when it came to world building, taking turns talking, listening to me narrate, enthusiastically finding ways to help each other with augments, and finding clever solutions to puzzles in the wizards tower at the end of the adventure. We took a couple wiggle/bathroom/snack breaks when the younger ones started to get antsy, but after they got to move around, they were back in earnest. I got a personal thanks from the gaming coordinator, and one of the watching parents described the kids as "absolutely enthralled."
  5. JonL

    HQ at Archon 42

    If anyone is attending Archon 42 this weekend, I will be running "The Missing" from The Eleven Lights Friday afternoon at 4, and a special children's session (ages 7-14)on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 titled, "Imagine Adventure." The latter will include having the kids design their game-world collaboratively through Q&A prompts, art supplies for drawing their characters, and a d20 to take home as a souvenir. Given the auspicious anniversary for Archon, your humble GM will be wearing a bathrobe, and carrying a towel. http://archonstl.org/index.html
  6. JonL

    Feedback on new improvement proposals sought

    For a longer campaign, Major+ makes the most sense. As a player, I have always disliked the tension created by using the same resource for both Doing Something Awesome and general advancement. It can lead to non-obvious emergent imbalances in the long term as well. Another thing I have done at times is simply give players some choices at the and of a "Chapter" - every 2-3 sessions, but maybe after a single rather significant session. Something like... Choose three of the following, with the underlined options counting as two picks: Raise a Keyword by 1 Raise a stand-alone Ability by 2 Raise a breakout Ability under a Keyword by 1 Add a new stand-alone Ability Add a new +1 breakout to a Keyword. Add a +1 breakout to a previously stand-alone ability, making it a Keyword. (The last one should not be used on the same ability as the second during the same advancement sequence.) Things like new grimoires or spells can be put on that list as well. That's part of the idea behind excluding Marginal or even Minor results. It's not just that you're using it, it's that it's been used in a conflict with a particularly impactful outcome. Improving after a significant defeat is an especially common fictional dynamic. Milestones in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying are another interesting point of reference. Here are a few I came up with for my (Inuyasha-inspired) Sengoku Yokai Road Cortex+ hack: The Devil's RoadYou were once a respected Samurai before everything went wrong. Sepuku would have been the honorable way out, but you just couldn't let go. Instead, you walk the Road, looking for redemption, vengance, or both.1xp when you lament your tragic fate3xp whenever your true identity is discovered10xp when you either avenge the injustice that ended your old life, or find inner peace in spite of it. Childhood's EndThis isn't the life someone your age should be leading, and yet here you are. With no home to go back to the Road and your friends are all that you have now. 1xp when you try to prove that you can handle adult challenges.3xp when you try to interact with other youths, but have difficulty relating after everything you've been through.10xp when you either come of age, or find a safe place to finish growing up in. Dead Man WalkingWhat happened to you was not survivable, and yet you are still here, walking the Road. Something is keeping you from passing on to the next life, whether a magic talisman, a curse, or a powerful incomplete destiny. Whatever the case even you are uncertain as to whether you should be alive.1xp when you are reminded of how you "died."3xp when whatever is keeping you "alive" causes you a problem.10xp when you either are fully resurrected, or are able to finally pass on. (Presumably using those 10xp to unlock a new character, in the latter case.) Star-crossed LoversYou come from different worlds, perhaps literally.1xp whenever the complications of life on the Road get in the way of your budding romance.3xp when you manage to find a brief tender moment in spite of everything.10xp when you finally declare your love for one another, or fail to make it work and let go of the fantasy. The above are also examples of how Flaws can be HP/XP generators, another approach from Nameless Streets worth salvaging, IMO.
  7. JonL

    Bring Out Your Dead

    This is a deep one: Heroquest as presented often cannot decide whether or not it is going all-in on "Ability ratings are abstract measures of relative problem solving efficacy and have nothing to do with in-fiction competence or capability. Resistance is just a story-flow control mechanism, and in-fiction circumstances should reflect Resistance rather than vice-versa." Those principles clash hard with things like: Penalties for facing multiple opponents. Rune-ratings for Glorantha characters gatekeeping cult status and magic access. Penalties to ratings based on being Hurt, Injured, etc. Stretches. Advancing characters + Resistance progression. Factoring in credibility when assessing Resistance I do not think that any or all of the above should be eliminated from the game. However, I think there needs to be guidance on how and why various rules choices fit best with where your game falls on the Story Flow <-> Credibility spectrum. If you're all the way over in Fairy Tale territory, much of the above should not be part of your game. If you're running a gritty Noir Detective game, you'll want more of the above. I think the guidance for GMs in HQG pp 112-114 on balancing credibility and story needs is quite excellent. What would be very beneficial is for the decision of where to fall on the scale to be made even more explicit, and for other mechanics descriptions to provide guidance on how that decision impacts how (or even if) they are applied.
  8. JonL

    Feedback on new improvement proposals sought

    More broadly WRT advancement, I've increasingly come to favor something inspired by RQ/Pendragon checks, the Organic Improvement option presented in Nameless Streets, and some aspects of how Rolemaster awards XP. If in the course of play, you use an ability in a contest and achieve a Victory or Defeat result that is not Marginal, check it. At the end of the session, roll the ability in a contest against itself to determine advancement (per Nameless Streets) or forgo that option and select a new ability, whether stand-alone or breakout. This indirectly still turns HP into advancement, as spending them will often mean boosting Victory-grade above Marginal. It also kills the optimal keyword advancement strategy cold. Further, I really like giving out the checks for significant Defeats, as that very much mirrors how things work in both fiction and real life. If anything, you learn more from your failures. If one wanted to tune this concept for slower advancement, only give out checks for Major & Complete results (much like Pendragon only gives checks on criticals). In keeping with the cementing-benefits proposal, cementing a benefit could also be an option in-lieu of an advancement check.
  9. JonL

    Feedback on new improvement proposals sought

    This suggestion touches on some unexamined assumptions relating to how advancement works that I think we could stand to explore a bit. Costing raises for Keywords vs regular abilities is a very different proposition depending on whether: You're using package-style keywords that have a bunch of sub-abilities and if some of those abilities might be exclusive to that keyword - functionally much like character-classes in other games. You're using keywords that also gatekeep certain capabilities or in-fiction status - like Rune Affinities do in HQG. You are using umbrella-style keywords, but you only get two of them. You are letting any ability become an umbrella-style keyword if someone decides to hang a breakout from it. Some combination of the above. Any point-ish advancement scheme needs to be able to coherently take into account those variables, or at least recommend for which approaches they'd be well suited. For myself, I let any ability become a keyword the moment it gets a breakout. When balancing keyword vs stand alone ability costs, I've done it a few different ways. During character creation, I sometimes give players the following: Namespecies/culture/background: 15 breakout +1 breakout +2 training/profession/experience: 17 breakout +1 breakout +2 breakout +3 other ability: 15other ability: 13other ability: 13Flaws: Flaw #1 - Some Flaw - Highest Ability Rating Add More Stuff Worksheet: Either distinguishing characteristic:17 or - distinguishing characteristic +4 Choose ten from below. "Raise a stand-alone..." ability cannot be used on the same ability as "Add a new +1 breakout.." or "Raise a keyword..." Option Chosen Ability to which applied Raise a stand-alone ability by 1 - Raise a stand-alone ability by 1 - Raise a stand-alone ability by 1 - Raise a stand-alone ability by 1 - Raise a stand-alone ability by 1 - Raise a breakout ability bonus by 1 - Raise a breakout ability bonus by 1 - Raise a breakout ability bonus by 1 - Raise a breakout ability bonus by 1 - Raise a breakout ability bonus by 1 - Add a new stand-alone ability rated at 13 - Add a new stand-alone ability rated at 13 - Add a new stand-alone ability rated at 13 - Add a new stand-alone ability rated at 13 - Add a new +1 breakout to an existing ability - Add a new +1 breakout to an existing ability - Add a new +1 breakout to an existing ability - Add a new +1 breakout to an existing ability - Raise a keyword (ability that has breakouts) by 1 - Raise a keyword (ability that has breakouts) by 1 - Raise a keyword (ability that has breakouts) by 1 - Note in particular the checklist above here. This is in lieu of "Now spend 10 points on improvements." or similar. It uses scarcity of "Raise a Keyword" among finite options to balance it rather than higher cost. The list also is tuned to allow people to specialize around a core keyword if they want to, but without making a "Well, it costs 2 points to raise a keyword, and one to raise a breakout or regular ability so the clearly optimal path is to have a keyword with several +1 breakouts, only ever spend points to raise the keyword, and let catch-ups handle the rest." situation. This approach was inspired by the advancement scheme in Monster of the Week and some other PbtA games where you have a list of several improvements you can choose when you level up, possibly including some duplicate entries, but you can't pick the same choice more than once. The other way I've sought to avoid encouraging the Keyword-with-lots-of-plus-one-breakouts optimization is to cost keywords based on the number of breakouts they have, along the lines of #of-breakouts-2, minimum 2. That still gives a discount for keywords, but makes boringly loading down a single one with lots of +1s less attractive.
  10. JonL

    Elmal Yelmalio thing

    Yavor is in the Book of Heortling Mythology. He goes so far as to cut off fallen Umath's head and make lightning darts from his brains. Orlanth collects on that debt thereafter. Yavor is surprisingly chill about the whole thing after the Dawn, and sticks with the Storm Tribe alongside his cousins, Elmal and Rigsdall.
  11. JonL

    Elmal Yelmalio thing

    Oh, that's clearly Yelmalio there. Yonash the Cold Sun reminded me of Yavor, the Fire Tribe warrior who snuffed himself out to survive battling Umath. Orlanth later tears Yavor apart and makes weapons from his bones. His discarded head recognizes Elmal when he begins his great vigil, and becomes his advisor.
  12. JonL

    Orlanth the Abuser

    That's what strikes me here. It's incomplete. It should move from an immature approach to a mature one.
  13. JonL

    Elmal Yelmalio thing

    I joke, but also think this is legitimately a feature-not-a-bug. "Our nation has lost 6/7 of it's magic. Most of us still have ours though. Clearly, the right thing to do is draw as much of the nastiness down upon ourselves as possible, because every monster we fight is one we've spared someone else having to face while they're down." When the night is long and full of terrors, they decide to become human bug-zappers. And that is why they are awesome.
  14. JonL

    Elmal Yelmalio thing

    Drawn to Runegate... ...to get stabbed with a flaming Justice Spear!
  15. JonL

    Old Pavis - Ogre Island [spoilers]

    11 Lights also shows us that Ogres can born from otherwise human bloodlines that carry the curse. Cacodemon waits in God Time to draw promising initiands to Ragnalar's hall instead of Orlanth's and teach them the Ogre secrets.