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Akhôrahil

The Problem Rune Spells (and a quick-fix for most)

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1 hour ago, Dissolv said:

Just my opinion here.   I hope that your sessions are all great times, changes or no, and you certainly brought up something that I hadn't considered in like, forever. 

Thank you, what a lovely opinion!

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2 hours ago, Crel said:

According to the WoD errata, this is not the case.

That seems like a poor interpretation to me (not yours, the ruling). A spell is the size it is. Otherwise a Shield spell always takes only two points of Dispel regardless of size (because Stackable doesn’t add), and then it’s just ridiculous.

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24 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

That seems like a poor interpretation to me (not yours, the ruling). A spell is the size it is. Otherwise a Shield spell always takes only two points of Dispel regardless of size (because Stackable doesn’t add), and then it’s just ridiculous.

I think the argument Jason's making in that ruling is that some RP stack to make the spell do a bigger effect, others stack to do "other stuff," and adding extra targets counts as "other stuff." And only "bigger stuff" counts toward spell strength, not "other stuff."

This feels like one of those spots which could benefit from closer attention to rules-detail. Maybe as a house rule, something allowing the Multispell common spell to stack with specified Rune spells like extension. Although then that complicates why Multispell does two things... But a full house-ruling discussion probably belongs in its own thread.

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3 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

When the Humakti PC shows up, the Orlanth, Yelmalio and Storm Bull fighters feel very outclassed and borderline pitiful.

Well, at least the Yelmalio fighter is used to that feeling. 😉

Edited by Akhôrahil
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7 hours ago, Dissolv said:

Magical endurance is even more of a factor in RQ:G, and I strongly favor forcing the players to work hard to manage their Rune points. 

My players have the scribe tracking the holy days and adventure time and will abandon loot oportunities to bolt for the nearest temple just to regain those RP.

We play out the worship services.

Faltikus is becoming their bete noir as he blocks Orlanthi power gains when he can.

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On 2/11/2020 at 2:31 PM, Akhôrahil said:

This isn't so much about spells that are merely very powerful, but ones that disrupt how the game works

I'd like to hear some in game examples. In play I've seen all but Morale and Bless Crops used. At no point did they disrupt how the game worked. 

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4 minutes ago, David Scott said:

I'd like to hear some in game examples. In play I've seen all but Morale and Bless Crops used. At no point did they disrupt how the game worked. 

And I've seen Morale and Bless Crops. Especially Bless Crops.

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I have seen Morale. The Cradle, final battle. Humakti player was just so pumped when he got to use that spell to inspire bunch of remaining mercenaries to one last stand. Epic gaming moment and worked just fine. Almost all of them died.

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2 hours ago, G.T said:

Humakti player was just so pumped when he got to use that spell to inspire bunch of remaining mercenaries to one last stand. Epic gaming moment and worked just fine. Almost all of them died.

That's a win win right there!

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On 2/11/2020 at 6:31 AM, Akhôrahil said:

... This isn't so much about spells that are merely very powerful, but ones that disrupt how the game works...

I see this quoted above by folks from Chaosium, and specifically rebutted.

I'd like to ask the OP to expand on this point.

Maybe the OP's table has come up with some loophole or exploit the designers haven't considered; or maybe the designers have some "deep lore" or other inobvious solution to the OP's problem, that the OP's table hasn't implemented.

 

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13 minutes ago, g33k said:

I see this quoted above by folks from Chaosium, and specifically rebutted.

I'd like to ask the OP to expand on this point.

Maybe the OP's table has come up with some loophole or exploit the designers haven't considered; or maybe the designers have some "deep lore" or other inobvious solution to the OP's problem, that the OP's table hasn't implemented.

I thought I explained my reasoning in the original post? Do you have any specific question, where I was unclear?

What I'm against are "dominant strategies", where a single effect trivializes a situation. With Sid Meier, I think a game is a series of interesting decisions, and dominant strategies are just not interesting.

(Also, "rebut" typically means something beyond saying "I don't agree". I don't think my line of reasoning has been demolished or anything.)

Edited by Akhôrahil

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Many of these spells I have not used, so reread them.

Think they are "just fine"

 - Shield: I don't see how it is 4 times as tough or hard to dispell.  1 rune point of Dismiss Magic or 2 MP of Dispel Magic should take out 1 point of Shield, right?  What am I missing?

 - Truesword: don't see why this is broken against spirits.  It does a d8+1 damage to them, not much more than a fairly commonly available Bladesharp 4.  It is still a very good Rune Spell for just 1 point.

 - Impede Chaos: lots of any Rune magic will break things. At least this requires say 4 Rune Points to be problematical.

- Morale: great spell, (I agree that Yelmalio should have it and probably not Humaht) but requires an hour long ritual, and that the regiment "stay together".  Something that a clever opponent could disrupt.  If all else fails, Dispel it.

Tend to Agree they might have issues, but don't have enough experience to say for sure

 - Spirit Block: just 1 point turned a modest Spirit Combat from "scary" to "no problemo"

 - Bless Crops: similar to "just throw in MP at Worship", this spell solves the roleplaying issue of farming.

- Thunderbolt: above my pay grade at this point, but the "1 more target for 1 more rune point" is troubling.

Definitely has issues

- Weapon Trance: for 1 measly Rune Point you completely dominate melee.  Even if it gets dispelled, you still had a couple of rounds of completely dominating melee.  Since they can't parry, that's effectively +12 to your damage!  (completely ignoring added damage from increased crits and specials)  When they can't hit that's effectively +100 to your armor.  Also, you should parry with your sword (which likely has Truesword) and you will be chopping their weapons (or claws) into smithereens.

Let's imagine that the opponents are organized and effective at dispelling after three rounds.  By that point there are likely two major opponents disabled limbs, one with a broken weapon.  Is that a fair trade for 1 Rune Point and 10MP?  Absolutely.  If you have decent stored MP, just cast it again the next round.

The Chaosium party line that you "just dispel it" or "target with missiles" or "just run away for 15 minutes" is true, but there is no other one point spell that completely changes encounters like that.  Nobody is arguing "oh no, I see a Troll/Vingan/Elmali, target them with everything and then flee!"  Nobody is arguing "oh no, that Odalyan cast Bear’s Strength (a 2 pointer), we have to run away!"  Maybe a Storm Bull with Berserker would get similar treatment, not sure there...

As for dismissing, well, a "generic" dismiss targets defensive spells first. Sorry, you lose.  To dismiss a specific spell,  one must "magically discern or ... otherwise guess the specific spell."  It is not clear to me how you can magically discern Sword Trance.  Detect Magic just makes and magics glow, and does not reveal what or how powerful they are.  Analyze Magic might work with a nice GM, but that's a rare Rune Magic.  So, you are left with guessing the specific spell.  "I'm guessing he has Sword Trance cause he just took out our two tanks.".  By then it might be too late...

Final Argument:  Imagine there were a 1 point Rune Spell that, using N MP, boosted your POW by 2N.  (+10% to overcome and resist in spell combat).  Anyone think that is balanced???

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38 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

 - Shield: I don't see how it is 4 times as tough or hard to dispell.  1 rune point of Dismiss Magic or 2 MP of Dispel Magic should take out 1 point of Shield, right?  What am I missing?

The opponent might not have access to Dispel magic. You may have more Rune Points than anyone on the opposing side, and having poured all your Rune magic into the Shield, there is no way to get rid of it. Meanwhile, you're all but invulnerable to damage and spells.

38 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

 - Truesword: don't see why this is broken against spirits.  It does a d8+1 damage to them, not much more than a fairly commonly available Bladesharp 4.  It is still a very good Rune Spell for just 1 point.

The true brokenness only shows up with Sword Trance, i agree. But with Sword Trance, you will be far beyond any normal spirits (200%? 250?), and trounce them with ridiculous ease. This is also a niche-protection problem - the shaman of the group might expect (rightly, IMO) to get to be the best at fighting spirits. It's like if the Humakti could just cast a spell to be a better merchant than the Issaries cultist or a better knowledge guy than the Lhankoring. 

Also, if you're somewhat optimized, you're likely packing a Greatsword with the double-damage Humakt gift, so then it's 4d6 "spirit combat" damage.

38 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

 - Impede Chaos: lots of any Rune magic will break things. At least this requires say 4 Rune Points to be problematical.

You're right, lots of it do. But it shouldn't be game-breaking, is my argument, and most importantly it shouldn't without offering any way to resist it. Sever Spirit is incredibly nasty, but at least it's not automatic. Sunspear is great, but it doesn't just bypass all armor. If Impede Chaos was POW vs POW, it would be perfectly fine (probably even a bit underwhelming, to be honest). 

38 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

- Morale: great spell, (I agree that Yelmalio should have it and probably not Humaht) but requires an hour long ritual, and that the regiment "stay together".  Something that a clever opponent could disrupt.  If all else fails, Dispel it.

Morale is a bit of a different kind of beast. It doesn't really break anything - it's more that it has an absolutely crazy efficiency. 2 Rune points to boost maybe 1000 soldiers with an improved fanaticism? That's... a lot.

This leads into another problem I have with it, that is more of a worldbuilding issue. Normal battles will typically be decided by one side breaking, and the largest downside of having green troops is that they break more easily. Morale is so extremely powerful on the field of battle that if one side has it and the other doesn't, it's a giant force multiplier. The existence of the Morale spell means that you can collect a unit of untrained conscripts, buff them with a newbie Humakti (or, one supposes, Yanafal Tarnils guy) and then they will literally fight to the last man. Is this really how we picture the world working?

38 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

It is not clear to me how you can magically discern Sword Trance.

Soul Sight is probably your best option. A lot of opponents won't have it, though.

Edited by Akhôrahil

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14 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

It might be a group style thing, but our group typically has more fighters (and fewer casters) than most i've read about online.

When the Humakti PC shows up, the Orlanth, Yelmalio and Storm Bull fighters feel very outclassed and borderline pitiful.

This is correct, and working as-designed.  They aren't all equally "fighter-y."

Orlanth can fly and lightning-bolt, etc (not to mention other "Adventurous" magics Orlanthi can get)...  Which pretty much murderizes the Humakt sword-guy, in a head-to-head fight!  (hint:  it ISN'T "head to head;"  Orlanthi just call upon their winds to fart in the Humakti's general direction).

If the Orlanthi doesn't WANT to do that (because that's too, uh... "caster-y" ... ??? I dunno ... )  then the Orlanthi doesn't really have a "good solution" for when the Humakt shows up with his signature murderization magic, and IS willing to cast it.

I mean... you have a warrior-priest of the God of Death, and he's wielding a physical manifestation of Death-Rune, made out of Death Metal <strike an awesome electric-guitar power chord here, heavy on the distortion!>  and you... want to out-duel him in face to face fighting?  You want the hordes of mooks NOT to fall like tenpins?

Or were you thinking "they are all just fighters... Orlanthi are storm-fluff'ed fighters, and Storm Bull are anti-Chaos/Berzerk fluff'ed fighters, &c... and Humakti are God Of Death - fluff'ed fighters... but in the end it's all just fluff" ?

You expected Humakt to be... fluffy?  He's really more... Death-y.  REALLY.

It's what Humakt DOES, that's his THING.  Humakti do it better than other mortals.

Similar arguments for Storm Bull, who REALLY shines when Chaos is afoot (or aslime, or whatever disgusting mode of locomotion Chaos is using this time), and/or when you think a murderously-berzerk guy is the good (or amusing) solution to the problem.

 

15 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

It might be a group style thing, but our group typically has more fighters (and fewer casters) than most i've read about online.

I think this is a key issue; there really ISN'T the fighter/caster divide that other games (e.g. games with "fighter" and "caster" character-classes) have.  Sure, the Rune Priest is more caster-y than the Rune Lord, but I wouldn't feel "safe" on a battlefield ignoring the weapon-skills of the Priest or the spells of the Lord!

But in Glorantha, everyone usually does both!

If the Humakti is showing up and the Orlanthi feels he's losing the dicksizing contest, get the Orlanthi to Dark Walk round the battle -- where everyone is OMG'ing at the frontline carnage -- and go Mano-a-EatMyThunderbolt against the BBEG.   "Yeah, thanks for the assist, Big H!  You really kept the rabble off my back there!  Couldn't have done it without ya!"

 

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A lot of times, I base how the generic trained solider type should act based on my aggregate collection of experiences watching the PC's react to the over the top rules in Runequest.   What I mean is simply make a Humakti an NPC rival of the players, and see how they treat him in various situations.  

First you are going to get the shock of the initial beat down in some duel.  

Then the PC's will put their thinking caps on and figure out some way to deal with him.  This could be tactical -- dispel comes to mind, but so does a lead off 6 point Lightning.  But players are varied and clever and may attempt to thwart their rival strategically, either by diverting him, or discrediting him, or forcing an unwanted obligation upon him.

After the power of the Humakti has been established, and the initial rival out of the picture (temporarily, if you like long running plot arcs like me), how the players react to a hostile gang led by an obvious Humakti is your benchmark for how seriously they rate the threat.   If they dogpile on him, or run from him, or attempt to short circuit an intended combat encounter, then you know that they think he's sort of a mini-Harrek.  If they straight up fight him, knowing what he can do, and manage to deal with him, take note of their tactics and copy them.  What they do is likely the best means of fighting a random Humakt follower.   Make "trained and competent" level opponents act that way, within their capabilities towards the PC's.  

I don't like how Truesword can easily prevent hits from very large monsters though.  Nearly automatically successfully parry, sure.  But make the sword take the damage for crying out loud.   I'm not upset about the spirit combat thing though, that seems.....thematic somehow.  

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8 minutes ago, Dissolv said:

I'm not upset about the spirit combat thing though, that seems.....thematic somehow.  

love it against suitable opponents, like ghosts for Humakti. "My sword is so sharp it cuts ghosts", that's just great!

It's when you beat up all other spirits as well that it's not as appetizing.

Edited by Akhôrahil

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28 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

...  To dismiss a specific spell,  one must "magically discern or ... otherwise guess the specific spell."  It is not clear to me how you can magically discern Sword Trance.  Detect Magic just makes and magics glow, and does not reveal what or how powerful they are.  Analyze Magic might work with a nice GM, but that's a rare Rune Magic.  So, you are left with guessing the specific spell...

I'm pretty sure that a  "Grim Foe wearing Death+Truth"  has the other side "guessing" Sword Trance as their go-to guess.

I mean, what's the worst that could happen?  They mis-guess, and waste a Dispel on a foe who... isn't as dangerous as a S.Trance'd Humakti would have been.  Seems reasonable to me.

 

Ditto for screaming chicks with axes -- that's Axe Trance (and/or Berserk).

 

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1 minute ago, g33k said:

I'm pretty sure that a  "Grim Foe wearing Death+Truth"  has the other side "guessing" Sword Trance as their go-to guess.

Until the entire party, Ernaldans, Eurmali, and possibly even Chalana Arroy, walk around in black, wearing (fake) runes, and waving swords with 1 point of some random spell.

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9 minutes ago, g33k said:

I'm pretty sure that a  "Grim Foe wearing Death+Truth"  has the other side "guessing" Sword Trance as their go-to guess.

I mean, what's the worst that could happen?  They mis-guess, and waste a Dispel on a foe who... isn't as dangerous as a S.Trance'd Humakti would have been.  Seems reasonable to me.

Ditto for screaming chicks with axes -- that's Axe Trance (and/or Berserk).

That's not quite how it works - quoting the rules text: 

"When cast against a target without specifying any specific effect or target, the Dispel first destroys defensive spells, beginning with the most powerful spell that it can affect. However, it may be cast against a specific spell if the caster can discern what that spell is."

You have to "see" the spell you're specifically targeting if you want to do anything beyond just casting it generally. Guesswork isn't enough. And the general casting will have a very low priority for the Sword Trance (all defensive spells and all larger spells have priority, and a rules-canny Humakti might even cast some "bait" spells to protect the Sword Trance first).

Edited by Akhôrahil

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Personally I think Sword Trance should work the same as Arrow Trance from the bestiary. A straight skill doubling and an inability to do anything not related to the weapon while in the trance.

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I'm starting to grok that Orlanth really isn't perceived as a straight-up "fighter cult", and Humakt is an order of magnitude better.  And it's starting to work for me.  My Vingan is starting to focus on Bow, social skills, and getting all those interesting Orlanthi Rune Magics.  Fortunately, she can avoid most of the dicksizing contests.  🙂

Has anybody actually done a fight vs. a big chaos baddie, where the PCs had both a Storm Bull and a Humakt?  I'd still put my money on the Humakt, but wondering...

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck
add a joke

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4 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I'm starting to grok that Orlanth really isn't perceived as a straight-up "fighter cult", and Humakt is an order of magnitude better.  And it's starting to work for me.  My Vingan is starting to focus on Bow, social skills, and getting all those interesting Orlanthi Rune Magics.  Fortunately, she can avoid most of the dicksizing contests.  🙂

Has anybody actually done a fight vs. a big chaos baddie, where the PCs had both a Storm Bull and a Humakt?  I'd still put my money on the Humakt, but wondering...

Kinda. Humakti >> Everything in actual melee or duels. But Orlanth has some pretty amazing direct damage spells. Hit that Humakti with two Thunderbolts on the way in, and he won't even get to swing his sword.

I think Storm Bulls might have a chance to measure up against a Chaos Baddie because of just how good Berserk and Impede Chaos are - Humakti can get 250% in Sword, but the Storm Bull can also drop the attack down to nothing. Either way, a lot of Chaos Terrors will go down a lot easier than intended when they're down to a 5% hit chance...

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17 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Until the entire party, Ernaldans, Eurmali, and possibly even Chalana Arroy, walk around in black, wearing (fake) runes, and waving swords with 1 point of some random spell.

Eurmal loves you.

Ernalda & Chalana Arroy are REALLY pissed at you... and probably make their displeasure known.   😱

Because walking around in that kind of garb really isn't representing your God(dess), and they really do care about that sort of thing.

 

But that's ok, at least  somebody  loves you.

Even if he is a bit of a sociopath sometimes.

 

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1 hour ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

... The Chaosium party line that you "just dispel it" or "target with missiles" or "just run away for 15 minutes" is true, but there is no other one point spell that completely changes encounters like that.  Nobody is arguing "oh no, I see a Troll/Vingan/Elmali, target them with everything and then flee!"  Nobody is arguing "oh no, that Odalyan cast Bear’s Strength (a 2 pointer), we have to run away!"  Maybe a Storm Bull with Berserker would get similar treatment, not sure there...

Given how much  "we stand off, and missile them to death"  is already a common (aka "winning," if one side has better missile weapons/skills) RQ tactic, I really can't call this "completely changing encounters."  😁

Given that Dispel is "mere" spirit magic, and Dismiss is "Common" as Rune Magic, I consider these as more-common-than-not; I expect them as routine; certainly more common than <X> Trance!

But yeah... a Berserk'ed Troll with a maul is one of the exemplars of  "awww, SHIT... hit 'im hard and fast and be ready to run if we can't put 'im down!" (alternatively:  "stand off and missile 'im to death!")

 

Edited by g33k
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