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BrentS

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  1. Following on from this, I had always wondered who wrote the excerpts from the travels of Biturian Varosh. I assumed it must be Greg Stafford as they exhibit a deep understanding of the mythos and tone of Glorantha, an understanding that probably only he possessed at this early stage in the development of the world. What did impress me at the time, and still today, is the quality of the writing. I'm not going to suggest it's Shakepeare, but it does have literary value. I admit to being something of a literary snob and was even more so when I was younger. While some fantasy writers had literary chops in my totally biased opinion (Peake, Bradbury, Tolkein, Le Guin) I set a pretty low bar for other genre writing and particularly roleplaying game writing......which is not to say I didn't enjoy it but I had different expectations. Assuming it was Greg penning Biturian's travels, I actually rated the quality of the writing above most fantasy and certainly gaming work, which is part of what drew me to it. Greg wrote a huge amount of background and historical material, which we are fortunate to have access to, but I know his first efforts at engaging with Glorantha had been through fiction. Given this snippet of writing quality, I think it's a shame we don't have access to more of Greg's fiction work. I wonder what has become of those early manuscripts rejected by publishers. Brent.
  2. Another enjoyable episode, thank gents. More Biturian Varosh did make me very happy 🙂. The episode at the Paps is one that always fascinated me and raised many questions. Why did the sacred Earth ritual impose risk of a Darkness assault? Why Darkness rather than Chaos? Why would morokanth be involved, betraying their oath to the Covenant and their devotion to Eiritha? Where did the trolls come from, given the implication that there were tunnels leading deeper from the Paps, suggesting a much more complex situation than a well circumscribed centre of Earth worship? I really like your suggestion that the ritual was in some way an aspect of heroquesting, meaning that the role of the morokanth was a ritual one, helping to reenact some part of Eiritha’s sacred mythology, just as as you pointed out that ancient peoples would often have members of their society take the part of protagonists in sacred ritual. In this case they would have been symbolic enemies, not real ones, even if the conflict was bloody and dangerous and anything but symbolic. Viewed in this way the morokanth would have been paying the greatest homage and devotion to Eiritha, including the sacrifice of their own lives. Nice. However, I think there is more to the story, as this episode does not seem to have been a predictable part of the ceremony and took the worshiping Praxians by surprise. In the end I am content to consider that there are deeper levels of mythic subtlety than mortals can understand or rationalise, and this is one example. I am sure Greg Stafford drew from First Nations’ beliefs and ritual, as you suggested, but this excerpt from Biturian’s journal always reminded me of the Eleusinian mysteries, in its focus on chthonic deities and deep cultic mysteries revealed to initiates but hidden from outsiders. Looking forward to more. Keep up the good work. Brent.
  3. BrentS

    Shields

    I think the difference between soft skills like Sing, Orate and Intimidate is that while they may be culturally important, they are not the focus of the game. This is an heroic fantasy game simulating an experience equivalent to our own ancient societies. Ancient societies placed a premium on warfare and, true to its wargame roots, RQG focuses on combat, a whole chapter on it. We celebrate Glorantha in all its detail, including its rich cultural setting, but for the majority of gaming this supports play focused on violence, or the possibility of it. You only have to look at the official published scenarios to see this. We can certainly all point to games where intrigue, negotiation and social interaction are the central themes, and these sessions are fantastic, but those exceptions to the rule don't escape the fact that RQG is, at its heart, a game about adventure and armed conflict. We might theoretically propose that a game centred on singing would be great, with a full chapter focused on yodelling and intricate, complex rules devoted to it, while combat is reduced to a single Manipulation skill description.....but if we're honest, we know none of us want to play that game 🙂 This means that there is an onus on design to get its core system of combat right. So integrating shield skills in a satisfying, meaningful and workable way is more important than fine tuning the Sing skill. Interestingly, my next game will have a Chalanna Arroy player, and Sing may well be an important part of her therapeutic toolbox, possibly combined with Comfort Song. This is an exciting challenge and will help foster the setting and narrative focus we want, but part of the game's tension will be how a peaceful person navigates a violent world. I won't be subjecting the other players to a game about singing 🙂 While I've really enjoyed and learned from all the excellent discussion, I can't include all the suggestions, particularly those that advocate increased complexity or reverting to other rule systems with which I'm unfamiliar. It's actually all helped to convince me that my original simple idea, slightly modified, is my best bet, and that's what I'll trial first. If it doesn't break the game and make us all decide to give up and find an RPG about singing, I'll let you know. 🙂 Brent.
  4. BrentS

    Herbalism

    This is true of all pharmacology, with variable therapeutic ranges for each drug , and lack of efficacy or toxicity beyond each extreme of that range. The same would be true for herbal remedies, although in the real world that therapeutic range is much broader than it is for manufactured drugs. With a few exceptions, herbals have such low levels of active compound that you would have to suffocate the patient beneath a truckload of leaves before they would come to harm. My preference in Glorantha would be to have real but low level therapeutic effects for herbal remedies, subtle augments of healer skills or host resistance or recovery rates, as suggested above. At toxic levels all pharmacologicals become poisons. Harm could come from abuse or accidental overdose (a fumble on the Treat Disease or Plant Lore roll?). Sedatives and stimulants, which I would consider to include sensory enhancers such as those increasing auditory acuity, would also be likely to be addictive. Glorantha already has hazia but there must be others. My Chalanna Arroy Initiate would understand this in principle. As her cult directive is to cause no harm to other living beings, she would get a warning if it looked like she were being treated as a meth cook. I will also limit the availability of those stronger herbals. Brent.
  5. BrentS

    Herbalism

    Yes, thanks, I knew about those excerpts from the journal of Biturian Varosh. I think herbal remedies should be less dramatic and less immediate than magic but still important and effective. A significant part of our modern western pharmacology is not directly curative, but supportive of patient host factors. e.g. most antibiotics we use are bacteriostatic rather than bacteriocidal.....they slow bacterial growth rather than directly kill, giving patient immune mediation a chance to do its job. Given that, I really like your first and third suggestions.....successful herbal use adding to a healing skill like an augment, or bolstering the patient's POW or CON for purposes of disease resistance rolls. Brent.
  6. More great work, guys. The cattle raiding feature was great. When you discussed the possibility of meeting raiders returning with your own cattle mid-way while you were returning with theirs, I was immediately reminded of a scene in Lonesome Dove (book and series)....different genre, identical situation, great story. The reason for the cattle raid in that story is another possible Gloranthan story driver......beefing up the herds (sorry, pun intended 😝) for a planned clan migration (forced out, mythic mandate, etc). You touched on this but I felt the inter-clan raiding among Orlanthi Heortling clans was a social pressure relief valve. A non-lethal cultural tradition to vent hostilities and energy and to give youths military experience in a low danger situation.....somewhat like aspects of the American First Nations' practice of counting coup. In more desperate circumstances, such as resource scarce Prax or higher levels of inter-clan tension, then certainly raids could develop into more serious and lethal exercises. Brent.
  7. BrentS

    Shields

    I didn't think medieval style plate is what is represented by bronze armour in the game but rather classical Greek hoplite-style panoply.....muscle cuirass, greaves and vambraces, Corinthian helmet......as illustrated as early as the cover of Runequest I and still in RQG with the full colour Rune Lord picture on page 279 of the rulebook. Still compatible and used with shield, both historically and in Glorantha as illustrated in these examples. Brent.
  8. BrentS

    Shields

    .....because a gaming system should integrate with its setting. Cultural practices make no sense if they don't function to a society's advantage. The shield was a ubiquitous piece of military equipment in almost all ancient cultures. This is because it was effective. I play with very experienced narrative roleplayers and truth to tell, our gaming is not combat focused (but it's Glorantha so there is combat). However, authenticity is Glorantha's greatest strength and having to gloss over perverse mechanical incentives for narrative purposes is simply not satisfying. If shield use is listed as a cultural skill, the system should maintain fidelity to its subject by supporting the utility of that skill in that society. Brent.
  9. BrentS

    Shields

    Thank you, this is interesting. I'm not familiar with Mythras but I think what you're suggesting is that in melee, as against missile fire, the shield will provide passive defense against designated hit locations. This seems very logical and I really like it. Again, the only issue I have with promoting shields as passive defense is that it ignores shield skill, and the game has shield skills that should mean something. Brent.
  10. BrentS

    Shields

    Thanks for some very useful thoughts and suggestions here. Thanks to all, in fact, for some stimulating discussion. Most of it went beyond what I was aiming for (being minimising complexity, not Aftermathing it up 🤪) but it's been interesting reading different informed viewpoints. I think the fact that it generated so much discussion is an indication that there might be a case for modifying shield function in the game for some players. I do think undue weight is put on missile defense in respect to shields. This is not to trivialise the danger of missile fire at all but people are talking about RQ shields like they're pavises. Even the large shield, to which this argument constantly skews, only protects 2 designated adjacent locations.....I'll assume head and chest in most instances (how do you see?). Large shields are prohibitive in ENC terms for many characters and so they should be. Carrying around the equivalent of an aspis in open order skirmishing is not standard and shouldn't be seen as default (300 has a lot to answer for). The medium and small shield provide negligible missile defense and just don't fit this argument, yet should be more common than large shields due to their greater accessibility and utility in melee. The passive use of a shield for missile defense also completely bypasses skill and RQG has shield skills....I'd like to see them mean something in my game. I've modified my initial thought slightly, which you've highlighted. My idea is to ask the player at statement of intent what they intend to do with their primary weapon, prioritise attack or parrying...whichever they don't optimise would be at 50% skill level. This is simple, gives players agency and in play tactical decision making (always good), doesn't diverge too far from the RAW or require additional laborious weapon and shield re-stating, has some logic (at least to my mind), makes an unmodified shield skill more useful and meaningful in defense and further incentivises players to take damage to their shield rather than their precious primary weapon (which is another frequent justification for shield use in these discussions). It may not be right, it may not work as intended, but I'm going to give it a trial. Brent.
  11. BrentS

    Shields

    I see your analogy but I think it's somewhat specious. Training with the manual application of a tool is totally different to the soft skills you've cited, which require divergent capabilities and aptitude. My own profession requires empathy and reading of the broad array of human emotions and intent (what would be covered by Insight) and nobody would expect that thereby enables me to sell ice to Eskimos with Fast Talk. If I was being taught guitar, however, I wouldn't expect to learn how to strum independent of chord structure with my fretting hand, nor would I expect to learn to drive a manual car (stick shift for those in some countries?) by steering alone without also learning to clutch and shift gears. I think the relationship between the tangentially related soft skills you've mentioned may be covered by augments. Professional training in the manual use of a tool or instrument, muscle memory and all, is different. I'm not married to the combined attack and parry skill. I come from a background of RQ II and as I stated initially, I think it's the reason shields have lost their oomph. I do, however, think that there's a logic to combining attack and parry skill and as my stated intention was not to get more complex and go back to splitting them, but trying to work within the new system, I was looking for a solution that would give players more agency and choice in play. I'm not suggesting my initial solution was the best answer, but the simplest and most logical for my Glorantha. Brent.
  12. BrentS

    Shields

    I like the rolling of attack and parry skills into one unifying weapon skill. Not only is it simple but it just seems to make sense that professional weapon training would include skill with all facets of that weapon's use. I have to say, despite some great feedback and discussion here (thanks all), I'm still leaning toward a simple modification that's at the situational discretion of the player......commit to attacking with the sword this round, lose some of your capacity to use it to parry at full effect.....and therefore rely more heavily on a dedicated parrying tool, your shield. Brent.
  13. BrentS

    Shields

    The othismos, about which litres of academic ink has been spilled. This is straying away from Glorantha and discussion of shield rules and into my obsession with ancient history and warfare, but for those interested in the academic debate surrounding how a Classical Greek phalanx worked, there is an excellent article on the subject by Paul Bardunias in the Ancient Warfare Magazine special issue on Marathon. This whole special issue is actually excellent for those interested in this battle and while previously hard to come by, has just been released in downloadable pdf format, available here: https://www.karwansaraypublishers.com/ancient-warfare/aw-shop/awspecials/the-battle-of-marathon-special-pdf.html Brent.
  14. BrentS

    Shields

    Phalanxes and shield walls are historically interesting and effective uses of shields but they are problematic when considering RQG (which I think is what you're saying?): 1. Again, they are battle formations, not a consideration for the open order skirmishing that characterises the type of fighting RQG characters will mostly be involved in. 2. In formation, their function is not skill based, it is static, passive protection, even for the skilled warriors in a Spartan phalanx. This does not align with a system of skill based shield use, such as we're presented with in RQG. Brent.
  15. BrentS

    Shields

    This is true. Shields were the first and simplest form of body protection used by ancient people because they are easy to make and easiest for unskilled fighters to use. An increase in base skill is entirely logical from a simulation point of view. The problem is that I don't think, even then, that it would translate to increased use in the game. Players are hugely incentivised to maximise their primary weapon skill at character generation, particularly as it includes their parry and that primary weapon invariably has equivalent HP to a medium shield. Even with a significant boost to shield base skills, weapon parry skills are going to be higher and get used in preference. Brent.
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