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lordabdul

Transform Self spell and shapeshifters

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Hey RQG people,

The "Transform Self" spell (RQG p347) seems weirdly overpriced and limited to me. First, you need to stack it with 3 other spells that, together, complete the alternate form you want to turn into:

This spell must be stacked with the three cult specialty spells. For example, an Odayla cult-member caster would use Bear’s Skin, Bear’s Strength, and Claws.

That's a total 9 Rune points to transform into a Bear. Not only is this expensive, but it's a long way to go (~1 year of regular gaming?) to even get this kind of Rune points pool for a player who originally picked an Odayla initiate because of the cool factor of transforming into a bear for an hour.

The worst, however, is that RAW say this spell can only be cast on Wild Day. How is that ever going to line up in actual play?

So:

  • Am I correct with the price of shapeshifting?
  • Are players with Odayla initiates really expected to "wait until next week" to use a power that took so long to acquire?
  • Wolfbrothers automatically transform on Wildday. Is that free on that day for them? (it's 8 Rune points for them according to RQGB, which I assume almost nobody can afford, except for Telmor Rune-Lords, so I guess it makes sense for it to be free)

Thanks!

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Yes, that's how it works.

What you could do is to houserule so that Transform Self transforms you into the creature by itself, then you can use the other Transform spells to enhance the transformed creature. That makes them a lot more playable.

Werefolk such as Wolf Brothers, Bearwalkers, Tusk Brothers and Tiger Sons can all transform whenever they want, as they effective have the magic built in as an ability. They can't normally transform just body parts, so it's all of nothing, instead of just transforming the head or limbs.

I think the Wild day restriction is just for Telmori, as it doesn't make sense for anyone else. In fact, it doesn't make sense for Telmori either, so I'd just drop the restriction.

 

Edited by soltakss

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I'm playing a crocodile hsunchen in our current campaign. What we houseruled is that you automatically transform into the animal when you cast the 3 spells at the same time, so we basically ditched "Transform Self" 😉

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I'd emphasise the "magical, semi-divine" nature described in the spell. Throw in some magical abilities, something like the doubled strength of the Telmori at least. (Although different as the Odaylans have a spell that does that anyway)

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Ok thanks everyone!

What I'm considering is changing how spells work as follows:

  • The pre-requisite for Transform Self (Whatever Beast) is to know the 3 cult spells that make up the beast.
  • You can of course cast each of the 3 component spells separately to get any aspect of the beast of 15 minutes (or whatever duration those spells are).
  • You can cast Transform Self by itself, and the number of Rune points you put in it drives its duration.
    • Base cost is the sum of the costs of the component spells, divided by 2, rounded down.
    • Duration/spend levels are:
      • Base cost: 1 melee round. You seem to transform into a beast for a few seconds but it looks more like a blurry vision.
      • BC+2 RP: 2 minutes. Probably good for a whole combat.
      • BC+4 RP: 30 minutes.
      • BC+6 RP: 5 hours.

I'm still tuning those costs (I'm not 100% happy about the math yet) but basically, for an Odayla initiate, it would be 3/5/7/9 Rune points. Because of rounding, Wolfbrothers would have the same cost levels.

  • The first level lets you kick ass for 1 melee round, but is probably not that worth it compared to just casting, say, Bear Skin for 15 minutes (which means it not only lasts for a full combat, but it's also useful for pre-emptive casting like before infiltrating an enemy camp).
  • The second level gives you kick-assery for a whole combat, but will only be accessible after a couple seasons of adventuring. It will also probably leave you drained of most/all your Rune points at first, so I imagine people will keep that in reserve for the final boss of the adventure.
  • The third level is like casting all 3 component spells, but lasting twice as long.
  • The fourth level is a bit equivalent to RAW in terms of costs, but lasts a lot longer to make the duration curve progression between levels not totally wonky.

The goal is obviously to make shapeshifting more accessible by adding more milestones on the way to "1+ hours beast mode!", while also still providing a feeling of accomplishment for when you get it ("you need to worship the Wolf Father some more, young cub, you have made progress but you're not a wolf yet").

What do you think?

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1 Melee round for a Rune Spell means that it is not worth getting. It needs to be the same as other Rune Spells in that regard. Why not have a base of 15 minutes and allow Extension to extend the Duration?

Unless, of course, i have completely misunderstood what you are trying to say, which is entirely possible.

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18 minutes ago, soltakss said:

1 Melee round for a Rune Spell means that it is not worth getting. It needs to be the same as other Rune Spells in that regard. Why not have a base of 15 minutes and allow Extension to extend the Duration?

Oh right, I didn't think about Extension -- that does indeed create a different mechanism for affecting duration... but I guess it was already a bit weird since RAW Transform Self lasts 1 hour instead of the usual 15 minutes anyway. I'm not sure what you mean by "not worth getting" -- you get all of it, it's just that the spell lasts different times based on how many points you invest in it. Maybe you meant "not worth casting at that level", and yeah, I did mention that in my commentary.

To make the spell start at 15 min, it would have to still be fairly expensive I think. Like, just 1 point less than RAW.

Edited by lordabdul

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1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

I'm not sure what you mean by "not worth getting"

If I saw a Rune Spell  that only lasts for 1 Melee Round, why would I cast it? Even Spirit Magic lasts more than that.

As a Hsunchen, I would expect a Transform spell to last for several rounds, at least. What would I do with a transformation that lasted a Melee Round?

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Fair enough -- at that point it might be just easier to do like @Runeblogger and ignore Transform Self completely -- you would become the beast when you cast all 3 spells, and you can extend it to 1 hour with 1 point (Extension) instead of 2 (Transform Self). If you're nice, the 1 hour extension comes from free when you cast them all together. But that still puts the shapeshifting fantasy out of reach of players for a long time... there must be a good middle ground between too cheap and too expensive.

6 hours ago, soltakss said:

Werefolk such as Wolf Brothers, Bearwalkers, Tusk Brothers and Tiger Sons can all transform whenever they want, as they effective have the magic built in as an ability. They can't normally transform just body parts, so it's all of nothing, instead of just transforming the head or limbs.

I'm not sure about this -- Wolf Brothers can cast 1 or 2 spells out of the 3 if they want, there doesn't seem to be anything that prevents it. Also, I don't think they can transform "whenever they want". Even if I look up the Telmori in the Red Cow books, to figure out how they're supposed to behave narratively speaking, it looks like "only a few" actually transform into wolves outside of Wildday.

Edited by lordabdul

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16 hours ago, lordabdul said:

I'm not sure about this -- Wolf Brothers can cast 1 or 2 spells out of the 3 if they want, there doesn't seem to be anything that prevents it. Also, I don't think they can transform "whenever they want". Even if I look up the Telmori in the Red Cow books, to figure out how they're supposed to behave narratively speaking, it looks like "only a few" actually transform into wolves outside of Wildday.

I'm talking about Werefolk, not normal Hsunchen.

In the RQ2 book, there were 4 Werefolk described, all could change form at will, without the use of magic. Maybe that's because Hsunchen were not described until RQ3, but the impression I had was that normal Hsunchen had to use magic, but Werefolk could transform at will, because they were extra special, divinely-blessed people.

So, Telmori have the Transform spells, but a Wolf Brother can transform without them and then can cast the spells to improve bite, armour and speed.

 

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On 12/2/2019 at 1:38 PM, lordabdul said:
On 12/2/2019 at 1:20 PM, soltakss said:

Why not have a base of 15 minutes and allow Extension to extend the Duration?

Oh right, I didn't think about Extension -- that does indeed create a different mechanism for affecting duration... but I guess it was already a bit weird since RAW Transform Self lasts 1 hour instead of the usual 15 minutes anyway. I'm not sure what you mean by "not worth getting" -- you get all of it, it's just that the spell lasts different times based on how many points you invest in it. Maybe you meant "not worth casting at that level", and yeah, I did mention that in my commentary.

To make the spell start at 15 min, it would have to still be fairly expensive I think. Like, just 1 point less than RAW.

One of the challenges in RAW for the transformation suite of spells is that they all have the "nonstackable" tag, which excludes them from use with Extension. One of the things which made me very sad playing my Odaylan; but it does feel reasonable at times—season-long doubled STR is probably overpowered.

Naturally, house rules can bypass this limitation.

I think that's why Transform Self as the Duration (special) tag, instead of Temporal. RAW as written you're getting Extension 1 on 3 spells which can't normally be extended. Now, I do agree that blowing 9 Rune points to be a bear for an hour is just... it just isn't good. I'd never consider it; I mostly use my Odayla RP for common spells, Bear's Strength, and an infrequent Summon Air Elemental (small) from Daddy. Not to mention trying to guarantee that I'm adventuring on a Wildday.

Sort of winging it here, but perhaps this approach is reasonable: Remove the Wildday restriction; the base spells can't be stacked, but the full "I'm an animal!" can be stacked with Extension. Probably reduce the cost of Transform Self by a point, too. For an Odaylan, this still ends up with (3+2+2+1)=8RP for 15min, 11RP for a week's extension as a bear. Which is... hrm. Still really pricy, yeah.

Also worth noting that all of these are touch spells; perhaps the intent is to have a bunch of initiates casting versions together on their Rune Master.

19 hours ago, soltakss said:

I'm talking about Werefolk, not normal Hsunchen.

In the RQ2 book, there were 4 Werefolk described, all could change form at will, without the use of magic. Maybe that's because Hsunchen were not described until RQ3, but the impression I had was that normal Hsunchen had to use magic, but Werefolk could transform at will, because they were extra special, divinely-blessed people.

So, Telmori have the Transform spells, but a Wolf Brother can transform without them and then can cast the spells to improve bite, armour and speed.

My take from the Glorantha Bestiary is that the Telmori are indeed werefolk/werewolves/wolf brothers (their entry is listed as "Wolfbrothers" rather than Telmori). From page 85:

Quote

The Telmori are werewolves. Each Wildday, which happens to be the night of the Full Moon in Dragon Pass, each Telmori must change to their beast form and roam the countryside. Each Telmori takes wolf form as soon as the sun sets and must remain a wolf until sunrise. They can also take wolf form by using their special cult Rune spells.

It seems to me that the werefolk you're remembering from RQ2 have been removed (although perhaps they'll re-appear in a later supplement).

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1 hour ago, Crel said:

One of the challenges in RAW for the transformation suite of spells is that they all have the "nonstackable" tag, which excludes them from use with Extension. One of the things which made me very sad playing my Odaylan; but it does feel reasonable at times—season-long doubled STR is probably overpowered.

To be honest, I am surprised by that interpretation of "nonstackable". To me, the flag "nonstackable" indicates that the spell cannot be turned into a more powerful verstion by putting an additional amount of rune points into it,  unlike say "Shield" which comes with an effect number.

I see no reason why a spell like True Weapon should not be extended.

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3 minutes ago, Joerg said:

To be honest, I am surprised by that interpretation of "nonstackable". To me, the flag "nonstackable" indicates that the spell cannot be turned into a more powerful verstion by putting an additional amount of rune points into it,  unlike say "Shield" which comes with an effect number.

I see no reason why a spell like True Weapon should not be extended.

You know, yeah, maybe I did goof. I could have sworn I returned to re-reading the magic rules recently and found my above interpretation (to my disappointment and similar mild confusion) but now that I'm skimming back over things—and seeing the great variety of "nonstackable" spells—I suspect I just stacked errors atop one another.

The only source I can find presently leaning toward that reading is p.247's definition of Stackable/Nonstackable, but Extension's entry doesn't seem to care about a spell's stackability, just its temporal-ness.

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I'm actually now getting confused with what "stackable" means :)  In the general Magic chapter, it says:

All Rune magic spells have an initial Rune point cost. If a spell is stackable, then more Rune points can be expended to create greater effects. Some spells have limits to their stacking, given
description. If a spell is nonstackable then additional Rune points cannot be spent.

But then in the Rune Magic chapter it says:

Rune magic spells can be stacked (combining several castings into one) if the spell is described as stackable. This provides a much more powerful effect when the spell is cast.

I'm not sure what this "combining several castings into one" means -- does it mean you can cast multiple different spells on the same round if they're stackable? And if they're non-stackable, you need to cast them one by one? In which case, Transform Self would give you a 1-round casting of all 3 shapeshifting spells... because otherwise, Bear's Skin/Bear's Strength/Claws, being non-stackable, would have to be cast one by one, which would take 3 rounds... is that what Stackable means?

There's a Q&A on this subject on Well of Daliath and... it doesn't clarify much :D  There are non-stackable spells like Axe Trance that do include boosting. I'm thoroughly confused.

7 hours ago, Crel said:

Also worth noting that all of these are touch spells; perhaps the intent is to have a bunch of initiates casting versions together on their Rune Master.

Oh, interesting.... but I doubt that you can cast a Touch spell on multiple targets for the price of one, can you? So the Rune Master would need shitloads of Rune Points from their associated spirit and other magic items. I doubt they would do that -- instead they would transform only themselves to show how bad-ass they are to everybody else.

7 hours ago, Crel said:

One of the things which made me very sad playing my Odaylan; but it does feel reasonable at times—season-long doubled STR is probably overpowered.

It might be overpowered but on the other hand, you're not getting back many of these Rune Points until the end of the season anyway... and there's a mention somewhere in, err, Sartar Companion (I think?), about an Odayla guy who spent 5 years in bear form.

I'm wondering if maybe I'm going at this the wrong way? Like, maybe what I should do is make house rules where you can reduce the cost of Transform Self if you spend a whole bunch of time in meditation/worship/etc.?

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2 hours ago, lordabdul said:

I'm actually now getting confused with what "stackable" means :)  In the general Magic chapter, it says:

 

Once upon a time extension was a spell not an effect, so that it had to be stacked, but I feel your pain . I am kind of sure (not totally),  that an effect does not have to be stacked with a spell similar to the way it used to work...

The stacking you are referring to has always had a bit of confusion for me, and I will admit when crunch came to shove....

2 hours ago, lordabdul said:

I'm not sure what this "combining several castings into one" means -- does it mean you can cast multiple different spells on the same round if they're stackable? And if they're non-stackable, you need to cast them one by one? In which case,

... such as above I would wave may hands and make up something that worked at the time... Logic and MGF (and I will admit to letting it fall to the side off the ruling that would benefit the players) as guiding lights.

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8 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Rune magic spells can be stacked (combining several castings into one) if the spell is described as stackable. This provides a much more powerful effect when the spell is cast.

I think this quote is just the wordy and technical way of getting to Shield 4, Spirit Block 6, and other spells which simply get better as you 'combine castings'. It is tragic the same term is used in spells like Transform Self, which specifically stacks non-stackable spells. That's kinda the point though. The only upshot to Transform Self is that it is instantly castable at the beggining of round 1 with RAW. Oh and the duration being upped to an hour, but it also makes the spell not work with Extension anymore. Individually Transforming for the season of a great hunt is possible with individual spells and extension, with a boatload of RP and CHA. Lol

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10 hours ago, lordabdul said:

There are non-stackable spells like Axe Trance that do include boosting.

I'm correcting myself here: Axe Trance gets better as you spend magic points, not Rune Points. That's why it's non-stackable.

So yeah I think the correct meaning of "stackable" is indeed that you can cast the same spell multiple times in one round to make it better. The rule about not being able to cast multiple different spells in one round has nothing to do with being stackable, it's a general rule of Rune Magic (RQG p314, the second sentence in bold). The Extension spell specifies that it's an exception, as the whole point is to cast it along with another spell at the same time. And so yeah, Transform Self effectively lets you cast things in one round when it would otherwise take you 3 rounds.

It's still super overpriced IMHO. I'm going to investigate other house rules...

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Maybe change Transform Self so that it transforms you completely for 5 rune points, independently  of the other spells. That way you still have the option to transform a single limb for a specific need for cheap, but if you want the full wombo combo transformation, it's more economical (but still pricey) to cast Transform Self.

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On 12/4/2019 at 9:20 AM, Crel said:

One of the challenges in RAW for the transformation suite of spells is that they all have the "nonstackable" tag, which excludes them from use with Extension.

Not really.

Non-stackable just means that the spell doesn't stack with itself.

Shield is stackable as you can get shield 2, Shield 8 or whatever. Berserker is non-stackable, because casting Berserker 2 on yourself has no effect whatsoever.

However, Berserker can be used with Extension to make it last longer.

 

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Speaking of, I realized that wyters have a special kind of spell extension: if you cast the spell through the wyter, it can spend 1 extra POW to cast a spell on an additional 5 members of the community simultaneously (RQG p287). So for 9 points, a Telmori priest could use the wyter to transform 6 people into wolves.

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On 12/4/2019 at 5:08 AM, Joerg said:
On 12/4/2019 at 3:20 AM, Crel said:

One of the challenges in RAW for the transformation suite of spells is that they all have the "nonstackable" tag, which excludes them from use with Extension. One of the things which made me very sad playing my Odaylan; but it does feel reasonable at times—season-long doubled STR is probably overpowered.

To be honest, I am surprised by that interpretation of "nonstackable". To me, the flag "nonstackable" indicates that the spell cannot be turned into a more powerful verstion by putting an additional amount of rune points into it,  unlike say "Shield" which comes with an effect number.

I see no reason why a spell like True Weapon should not be extended

Came across this while searching out other answers on Well of Daliath:

Quote

Stackable Rune Magic (page 315)

To clarify:

  • To stack a rune spell, the spell needs to be listed as stackable (duh!).
  • If the spell is listed as stackable, I can spend additional rune points to get better results.
  • If outside combat, I can also stack any stackable spell with another stackable spell (like Lock and Passage).
  • If in combat, I can only stack stackable spells when they are being stacked with Extension, or if they are Illusion spells. 

Yes

  • Non-stackable spells can neither be improved through additional rune points, nor be subject to Extension (for instance, I can’t Extend Madness).
  • Whether a spell is stackable or not has nothing to do with whether the spell requires additional Magic Points to work better. 

Yes. 

So that's where I ended up thinking nonstackable=no Extension, it looks like.

@lordabdul @soltakss @HreshtIronBorne

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The RQG description of Extension says:

Extension
1 Point
Range (as per spell), Temporal, Stackable
This spell extends the duration of any temporal Rune spell that has a normal duration of 15 minutes. The Extension spell and the spell to be Extended must be cast by the same person in the same melee round, and for all game functions are cast simultaneously. This spell and the Illusion spells are the only exceptions to the rule that just one Rune spell can be cast per melee round.
 

What this says to me is that Extension is Stackable, so you can cast Extension 1, Extension 2 and so on. The table in the spell gives Extension 5 lasting a whole year.

The Extension spell is cast with the spell to be extended, it is not stacked with the spell. This means that it can be used with other, non-stackable spells.

11 hours ago, Crel said:

Non-stackable spells can neither be improved through additional rune points, nor be subject to Extension (for instance, I can’t Extend Madness).

That seems very off to me. It is a great shame that some examples weren't given in the RQG Rulebook about this kind of thing. 

Personally, I wouldn't play it like that.

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1 minute ago, soltakss said:

The RQG description of Extension says:

 

So it remains a rune spell as in RQ 2 not an effect.

 

3 minutes ago, soltakss said:

The RQG description of Extension says:

 

I think you are angling for an inclusion in Hibb's "Egregrigious Munchkinerry!" with this one. Can’t see it, sorry.

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3 hours ago, soltakss said:
15 hours ago, Crel said:

Non-stackable spells can neither be improved through additional rune points, nor be subject to Extension (for instance, I can’t Extend Madness).

That seems very off to me. It is a great shame that some examples weren't given in the RQG Rulebook about this kind of thing. 

Yeah, it does feel odd, and have me wondering if the Q&A is wrong here, namely because of the number of spells which therefore can't be Extension'd. Beyond the transformation spells noted in this thread, it includes such disparate things as Breathe Air/Water, Charisma, [Weapon] Trance, True [Weapon], and Darkwalk.

Possible evidence to corroborate the Q&A's reading is the Knowledge spell, which is Temporal and Nonstackable: "Any information that cannot be assimilated fully within the 15 minutes of the spell is lost" (page 333). If the spell could be stacked with Extension, then I'd expect that to read "assimilated fully within duration." However, other "Temporal, Nonstackable" spells often use language inclusive of Extension'd durations.

Further, the context taken pretty universally on here in rules discussions about Trance spells has been that they are capable of Extension (and that doing so is a bad idea) rather than "you just can't extend them."

Personally I've been playing largely without the Extension/stackable rule and I don't anticipate changing that; I would however like to be as aware as possible of what RAW intends.

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29 minutes ago, Crel said:

Further, the context taken pretty universally on here in rules discussions about Trance spells has been that they are capable of Extension (and that doing so is a bad idea)

Why is it a bad idea?

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