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Ian Cooper

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About Ian Cooper

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    Senior Member

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  • RPG Biography
    30 year veteran of BRP games including Call of Cthulhu & Runequest. More than 10 year veteran of HeroQuest (Hero Wars etc.). Published Gloranthan author. Active gamer with the Monday Nighters.
  • Current games
    HeroQuest: Glorantha, Call of Cthulhu, Fiasco, Puppetland, Numenera, The Clay that Woke, Microscope, Risus, Questlandia, 13th Age, The One Ring
  • Location
    London, England, UK
  • Blurb
    Software Developer in London, conference speaker, tabletop gamer, geek. Tattooed, pierced, and bearded.

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  1. Ian Cooper

    The Limits of Magic

    So I would like to be clear that I am not necessarily talking about 'new rules' which seems to be the default assumption by some here. If anything I am very happy to simplify. But, much as a keyword implies what is credible, the Extraordinary Powers Framework in HeroQuest (see genre packs in ISS2001) implies that it is useful to document how magic works, to the extent that it is possible to narrate effects. If you don't know RQG, what is your starting point? BTW, in playing with Greg, it was clear that he didn't use a RQ model when thinking about Glorathan magic. I remember how when in one scenario we were being questioned by Esrolian grandmothers he described their truth detecting magic as feeling like a hand was squeezing your balls, and pressing tighter and tighter if you tried to lie. To Greg, that kind of description of magic was instinctive, but for the rest of us, I think some guidance is needed.
  2. Ian Cooper

    The Limits of Magic

    I hear you on how, but the issue here is more from the player's point of view. As 'newbies' their insight is useful, and whilst after enough sessions they would probably internalize the same rules as me, the problem was that they were not clear on what they could do, and found it a struggle to decide how to use their magic. And sure there is a notional fix, just tell them to describe whatever they want to do, and you will tell them how hard that is, but the reality is that it is off-putting when you are trying to work out your options to not understand what is easy/hard etc. The advantage of the more complete understanding of ritual in HeroQuest 1e is that the 'setting' has this in its context for magic, and as such it forms part of what RL calls the Extraordinary Powers Framework. I think that proper examination of ritual magic is a hole that we need to plug somehow.
  3. Ian Cooper

    The Limits of Magic

    I am wondering if this is worth a blog post. I have recently been running the Eleven Lights for a new group at RP Haven Archway. Some knew Glorantha, none new HeroQuest. But they picked up the system fast, and enjoyed it. One question that came up a couple of times though was "what are the limits of magic?" Now, post the first session, when everyone defines their characters, I tend to give all my players a handout. it has the keyword descriptions from S:KoH and the Rune Magic examples from the cults there. So they get some hints as to what they can do. But the question is "I know my Heler character can make it rain, but on a sunny day with no clouds, and how much rain, and over how wide an area?" Now the reality is I know the answer to this is that larger effects require rituals and the rituals require more participants to make it work. Interestingly we did not provide anything like the depth on rituals in HeroQuest Glorantha that appeared in prior editions and that may be an issue. For example, standing in a cloudless day and making it rain 'now' is probably normal resistance for a Helering, but it would just be a light summer drizzle and probably cover an area the size of a room. Getting some clouds to bring some real rain would require a ritual to call them (dancing, or orgiastic rites) and the more participants the bigger the storm. My rule of thumb, which once appeared when discussing rune magic for runequest is that you can affect an area "about the size of an elemental" or in simpler HeroQuest terms, about the size of a room. And you range is anything within sight. Anything larger or further tends to require a ritual. But I was wondering if others had thoughts on this?
  4. Ian Cooper

    1652 Great Flood

    Can I interest anyone in a timeshare property in Alone? Not ideal real estate now in the Hidden Valley, sure, but come the Great Flood we will have an extensive range of beach front properties available as 'holiday' lets. An idea location to sit out the Bergocalypse.
  5. Ian Cooper

    Feedback on new improvement proposals sought

    Yeah, this does seem to be a point of strong opinions on either side. Some like the idea that you have to choose between the two, as it makes spending that hero point more of a 'jam today vs. jam tomorrow' choice and some dislike it for the same reason.
  6. Ian Cooper

    Extended Contest: use or not to use?

    Ah right. An earlier term Robin used, which we may bring back was a long contest, of which there could be scored contests (as current in HeroQuest) or extended (old method with APs). TBH I think that you are using a long contest approach, just a chained contest in this example.
  7. Ian Cooper

    Bring Out Your Dead

    I think the MOP rule exists to allow players to take down something with a Nearly Impossible resistance, by tag teaming it, especially if the first up players fight defensively to reduce the RPs lost from a defeat. I think that is interesting enough to make it worth keeping. However, a player should probably not suffer a MOP against a resistance, the resistance should be picked to be multiple opponent worthy. I think it is alright to have some rules focused on players, given that once you move to a resistance model the opposition is an abstract force the GM gets to narrate pretty much whatever they like about.
  8. Ian Cooper

    Bring Out Your Dead

    There are two rules about this. One is that you don't penalize a player for something that is interesting but not strictly covered by the original ability used, when they are not trying to gain a mechanical advantage. So Buffy can taunt with her Slayer keyword Martial Arts breakout, you don't have to switch up abilities. Because otherwise she would just describe swinging again. The other is 'new conditions, new resistance'. If the player switches ability because in story terms it might give him an advantage then you can reset the resistance. But let's make this clear too. Keep it coming.
  9. Ian Cooper

    Extended Contest: use or not to use?

    My perspective is as follows. You have to grok the shift from task based resolution to conflict based resolution to understand when to use them. My usual example: you are breaking in to the princess's town house to steal her necklace. You have to scale the wall, sneak through the tiger-haunted garden, pick the locks, get past the guards to her bedroom, and take the necklace before she wakes. If the player is excited about planning this, preparing drugged meat for the tigers, using their grappling gun to scale the wall, silently killing the guards with their blowpipe etc. then it is an extended contest. Playing it out is interesting. Look for a complex plan, with steps, to pull it off. Or consider that the player might have I try A, but if that fails B going on. Otherwise a simple contest. It is about how interesting it will be to delve into the details. But of course pacing may trump this. We don't have time for this, or there is only one player involved and other players may lose focus as the spotlight lingers on one player too long.
  10. Ian Cooper

    Bring Out Your Dead

    That is probably the key point here.
  11. Ian Cooper

    Bring Out Your Dead

    So, the game has gone through some eras of understanding. Once upon a time, we found that some players would mini-max by shoving all of their points into one ability and then arguing its usage everywhere. Even paying a stretch penalty they were winning over other players, and any contest they entered they dominated, despite other players having that as their thing. This rule really exists to dissuade players from having the "Do Anything" ability and throwing all their points at it to dominate the game. Nowadays I would suggest that judicious usage of stretch penalties that have a little more oomph i.e. -3. -6. -9, -W might be a better tool, and we can then discard this rule, which is confusing. Thanks for the reminder.
  12. Ian Cooper

    Bring Out Your Dead

    I actually had a conversation with @Jeff about this yesterday for the new core rules version. The headline version is that we will be going with a new improvement system, that is simple, and influenced by Prince Valiant, Greg's other storytelling game. We would drop baseline opposition increase, and recommend that you increase the resistance between 'seasons' of your campaign (where season is defined as season of a TV show ending with you taking down the current big bad etc). When you increase the resistance we would recommend that you pitch previously mildly challenging opponents (i.e. moderate resistance) as now easier given your increased competence (low). Although, we set resistance via story needs, credibility pushes us to imply that the players have improved relative to those around them, and now as bigger players will meet bigger challenges. Your stories should reflect that.
  13. Ian Cooper

    Whatever Happened to the Cradle Baby?

    Well, I do have a new version of the Sky Ship for a new HeroQuest supplement (the book will also include the Dragonrise). My goal is to explain The Closing, and part of that is the connection between The Cradle, the giant baby and the Boat Planet. My hint would be that it is not that the cradle itself is connected to the boat planet, but that the crew of the cradle are connected to the crew of the Boat Planet (I think this is hinted at strongly in the original). Both have a mythic resonance with Anaxial's Ark, of course. I don't want to say too much, partially because I have to persuade @Jeff that I am right. But I will work on that.
  14. Ian Cooper

    Feedback on new improvement proposals sought

    A comment from the group today -- we are still playt-esting the previous proposal was that all earned experience points go into a pool, which then gets divided among all the players at the end. This keeps less 'active' players in the game and helps with group contest results (just put into the pool points for *their* victory). I'd also not let you earn XP from a contest you spend hero points on A variation that occurred to me is to give players no hero points at the start of session, but let them take an XP out of the pool to use as one, during the game. As this is a shared pool, this would discourage frivolous hero point spend.
  15. Ian Cooper

    Feedback on new improvement proposals sought

    Well, we are playing with the alternative right now, which is cementing a benefit using experience points. See the thread above. It has the benefit of mapping the improvement to something that happens in play, but there appear to be costs. Bear with me. Imagine your character sheet has two halves. On the right we have abilities, on the left consequences and benefits. The things on the left-hand side relate to narrative events -- I tend to relate them to the prize for the contest. A typical example might be +3 to influencing Broddi Strong-Kin, or +6 to intimidating the Emerald Sword. Now, in our above approach what you can do is move something from the left to the right, cement it as ability. Now by being less effective, we let you be less specific in the transfer. So when your +6 to intimidating the Emerald Sword comes across, we might let you take +3 in Mercenary instead. In play though this seems to have had the effect of complicating the handling of benefits and consequences. Players seem to be confused between a benefit, a breakout ability etc. If I say you can have a +3 to influence Broddi is that a breakout under my Red Cow keyword or a temporary modifier that will expire. Now this could just be that I have explained it badly, that we need a better character sheet etc. Not sure. Second, good rolls provide the opportunity for advancement, so players can feel advancement becomes a question of luck. And of course, rate of advancement can always be tweaked to suit your group, if we explain how that works.
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