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davecake

Sword Trance et all beats shields?

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I'm sort of come to terms with Sword Trance, using the corrected version of the spell as an actual trance not just a skill boost without disadvantage, and I also house rule that I limit it to doubling skill, which still makes it more than powerful enough (and means when two Humakti decide to take on another one, the ultimate winner is still mostly about who has the most skill, not who has the most magic points on tap). 

I then become much more relaxed about any balance issues - it becomes a sort of calmer alternative to Berserker, with a difference bunch of advantages and disadvantages. And I note that Humakt has had Berserk taken away (they had it in RQ3, though it was often controversial, as it didn't seem 'honourable' to some), so it seems then a nice balanced and appropriate change to the cult! And Babeester Gor keeps both Axe Trance and Berserker, which is appropriate, and cements her reputation as one of the toughest and most versatile combat cults in the game (Humakt gets the edge on toughness, but Babeester Gor definitely gets the edge on versatility). 

But I still have an issue to consider, one which is swinging me back towards a bit unbalanced again. And Sword Trance was the trigger for it, but its a wider issue beyond Humakt and Sword Trance - also applies to Humakt with Morale, Berserkers, Fanaticism even, high powered Bladesharp, Babeester Gor, etc. 

There are many spells that boost weapon skill or attack, a few hugely, and very few that boost shield skill (you can get a boost from a rune or passion, but only a small one). 

So when you hit the point of Sword of Humakt or other rune master, it is going to be quite common that either Sword (or Axe for BGs) might be boosted to 200% or more, and weapon skill (or weapon attack %age, boosted by Bladesharp etc above skill), and shield skill is unboosted. 

So it will often be the case that a Sword of Humakt can't shield parry their own sword attack. Their effective sword skill might be over 200-300%, when their shield skills still stuck at just 100%, reducing their effective shield parry to 5%,  barely worth the bother. At first glance, this would seem to reduce most Humakti duels to strike rank contests etc 

But I took a closer look, including all the clarification/correction threads, and my reading of the rules is that, though it is vague suggestion that of one weapon to attack and one to parry in the dual wield rules, that actually you can attack and parry with any prepared weapon - you just can't attack more than one with the same weapon (and it is explicit that you can't attack and parry with a shield in the same round, but I saw nothing saying you can't attack and parry with a 1H weapon in the same round. Obviously you can with a 2H weapon using one would be suicidal.) I was surprised by this, but once I thought about it seems fine - it allows for 'fencing' type combats which seems more realistic, and clearly attacks and parries are no longer intended to be equivalent actions - it is difficult to attack more than once with a single weapon, but easy to parry multiple times. I think I only made this assumption because of years of playing the previous versions, which are different in multiple ways.

So I figure with Humakti duels, usually if one uses Sword Trance so will the other, and they may fence with their swords, their shields hanging uselessly. 

There are multiple consequences at high levels of play, though, and I'm still thinking about them. 

- the two cults with access to weapon Trance spells, Humakt and Babeester Gor, seem to be the only cults who are able to get a parry ability to super high levels, and so are uniquely able to continue to fight in melee against a person with a super high attack without just relying on armour points. This applies not just between themselves (you basically need Sword or Axe Trance to fight someone in Sword or Axe Trance), but others - a Trance spell lets you parry a Berserker, for example. Even if you cap the level of these spells to the equivalent of Berserker, they are still uniquely powerful. I'm unsure if this is intended.

- parrying (or dodging) as a tactic gradually become less and less useful and reliable, especially in high level play - it is worthless for parrying super high skill for most, but even at less extreme levels even Bladesharp and Fanaticism means a skilled fighter with equal sword and shield skill has much less options to enhance their shield skill, and their shield parry (or any parry, or dodge) will often be well below 100% chance. In general I mostly like this change, but its notable that RQG really does have a systemic advantage to the attacker the more magic is used. Its an intrinsically bloodier game than previous edition. 

- Humakt also has the unique advantage of having access to the Parry spirit magic spell, so are the only cult in the game that can increase their parry ability to counteract the common offensive buffs of Bladesharp, Bludgeon et all. I don't think this is a huge advantage, but its notable that this is SO rare. I haven't noticed anything much that boosts Dodge. Shimmer becomes an interesting option at high levels - sometimes it makes very little, but sometimes a lot. 

- for Humakti and Babeester Gor, shields in particular gradually become less and less useful - even for those Humakti who have Parry, or those Babeester Gor cultists who have Earth Shield, their only realistic hope of countering a super high skill attacker (for Humakti, could be either a Humakti duel or Zorak Zoran Berserker - relatively common opponents for them) is to parry with their weapon. So even the cult with the best shield enhancing magic in the game will eventually find that it becomes an unreliable option often. Shields still have their uses - passive use against missiles, parrying thrown weapons (in warfare, everyone love a javelin as they close), and for average soldiers, shield walls and phalanx tactics, but they are definitely less important than they used to be. 

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This is solid reasoning. If optimizing, Humakti should use Greatswords, period. Owning a shield that you can hold onto while you rush archers is fine (until you manage to get the geas), but it doesn't require any skill. Iron Gift-improved Greatsword has 27 HP, which is sufficient against most (but not all!) enemies.

It doesn't help that Parry is an awful Spirit Magic spell - it should reasonably add 1 HP per point to a shield while active, in order to compare with Bladesharp.

Note that for BG and Orlanthi, shield still makes a lot of sense - they don't have Sword Trance, and they do have Earth Shield, which is fantastic when you fight giant monsters doing brutal damage. Humakti skill-tank them instead.

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

This is solid reasoning. If optimizing, Humakti should use Greatswords, period. Owning a shield that you can hold onto while you rush archers is fine

Yup. My semi-munchkined StormB uses his shield as missile cover while he closes to hand to hand and then ditches it (Along with the lance if on Bison back and charge range) and then bails out for axe work. It's not like he's going to be parrying if he's using Fanaticism or Berserk.... 

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20 minutes ago, Thaz said:

Yup. My semi-munchkined StormB uses his shield as missile cover while he closes to hand to hand and then ditches it

I keep doing this in the (excellent) Battle Brothers computer game. 

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1 minute ago, Akhôrahil said:

I keep doing this in the (excellent) Battle Brothers computer game. 

Huge fan of Battle Brothers. Not a surprise really as RQ and BB share a tendancy to kill your characters stone dead and often. 

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1 minute ago, Thaz said:

Huge fan of Battle Brothers. Not a surprise really as RQ and BB share a tendancy to kill your characters stone dead and often. 

There's even a kinda-BRP system at the bottom, and the way it has attack skill, a (lower) defence skill (shield adds to defence skill), and the attack hits if you roll under (Attack - Defence) is nice, simple and quick.

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7 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

IIRC, BG Rune Spell that was +10% per MP added, and did something to improve the shield as well... 

Not wanting to pick on Shiningbrow particularly, but so many times when people start with ' If I Recall Correctly', they did not, in fact, recall correctly. 😛😛

Great Parry does not improve parry/shield skill at all. It makes shield hit points be effectively infinite though - in fact, its also exactly the same spell as the RQG Earth Shield, it is more or less just renamed, so no need to bring it back they already have it.

They did have a spell that was +10% per MP added, but that was Axe Trance, not a defensive spell, and they still have that too. 

Edited by davecake

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6 minutes ago, davecake said:

Not wanting to pick on Shiningbrow particularly, but so many times when people start with ' If I Recall Correctly', they did not, in fact, recall correctly. 😛😛

Great Parry does not improve parry/shield skill at all. It makes shield hit points be effectively infinite though - in fact, its also exactly the same spell as the RQG Earth Shield, it is more or less just renamed, so no need to bring it back they already have it.

They did have a spell that was +10% per MP added, but that was Axe Trance, not a defensive spell, and they still have that too. 

Fair enough... I have enough trouble remembering what day it is

 

😛however, obviously we need such a spell!

(And formatting on phone sucks!!!)

Edited by Shiningbrow

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5 minutes ago, davecake said:

Great Parry does not improve parry/shield skill at all. It makes shield hit points be effectively infinite though - in fact, its also exactly the same spell as the RQG Earth Shield, it is more or less just renamed, so no need to bring it back they already have it.

However, in RQ3 if you were a BBG with 95% Shield Parry, Great Parry was awesome. It is considerably less so when every Tom, Dick, and Harry Humakti can slap that 95% down to 5% with a few MP and a Sword Trance (or your fellow BBGs with Axe Trance, of course).

Strictly speaking Earth Shield is the same... but the new mechanic (or old, if you were a RQ2 player) of anti parry means that it no longer is nearly as good.

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Yes, pretty much the main point of the whole thread. 

A rule I've been experimenting with is that you only get to use your 'reduction' %age once with each weapon. So if you have a sword skill of 120%, you get to either attack with sword at 120%, and parry with sword at 100%, or vice versa, but not both. Advanced users can even split the amount over 100% between two skills (or even choose to not reduce the parry by the full amount because they are more interested in keeping their special chance up, I guess).  

This gives some reason to hang on to a shield if your (current) shield skill is over 100%, in turn giving Earth Shield/Great Parry to be used, at least by people who have bumped their attack skill up very high without using Trance or Berserk type spells (for example Morale, huge Bladesharps, big augment/inspiration rolls)

(of course, some Babeester Gor cultists will decide that giving up the shield for a second axe and going Berserk is the way to go, they always have had the advantage of choosing between Berserker mode or axe and shield mode, and being close to the best at both. ZZ has the advantage of being good at Berserker mode, and combining it with skirmishing and their ability to neutralise enemy healing)

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19 hours ago, davecake said:

A rule I've been experimenting with is that you only get to use your 'reduction' %age once with each weapon. So if you have a sword skill of 120%, you get to either attack with sword at 120%, and parry with sword at 100%, or vice versa, but not both. Advanced users can even split the amount over 100% between two skills (or even choose to not reduce the parry by the full amount because they are more interested in keeping their special chance up, I guess). 

(nods) Seems fair enough.

Personally I'm thinking of keeping the Attack/Parry split, and for previous experience if you get (eg) +3 to Sword skill, you can take it as +3 to Sword Attack, and either +3 Sword Parry or +3 Shield Parry. (Assuming a 1H weapon that is). I am also not particularly enamoured of the "over 100 reduces the opposing skill" rule, though I will see how it works out in play before making any final ruling (given that several far more experienced RQ GMs than me don't seem to mind it).

Edited by GAZZA
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On 2/27/2020 at 9:02 PM, davecake said:

I'm sort of come to terms with Sword Trance, using the corrected version of the spell as an actual trance not just a skill boost without disadvantage

What correction? Where? Definitely correcting that spell is badly needed, and certainly making it a true trance like Arrow Trance is obvious, and pumping a couple hundred magic points into it as written could be, er, problematic, but I haven't seen one.

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18 hours ago, GAZZA said:

I am also not particularly enamoured of the "over 100 reduces the opposing skill" rule, though I will see how it works out in play before making any final ruling (given that several far more experienced RQ GMs than me doesn't seem to mind it).

It’s a good rule until it isn’t. The basic idea is very good. It’s when it gets abused in combat to depress attacks to nothing when it ges bad. I limit the penalty to halving (this will get stupid when both sides have 200+%, but we’re not close to that yet).

Edited by Akhôrahil

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1 minute ago, Akhôrahil said:

It’s a good rule until it isn’t. The basic idea is very good. It’s when it gets abused in combat to depress attacks to nothing when it ges bad. I limit the penalty to halving (this will get stupid when both sides have 200+%, but we’re not close to that yet).

I've toyed with the idea of instead of a straight subtraction, some sort of division. Like, if both sides are over 100, divide each by 2 until at most one side has over 100. That preserves the relative chances of specials and criticals, for example. Possibly a bit too unwieldy to use at the table, though increasingly I tend to play with spreadsheet character sheets these days.

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11 hours ago, GAZZA said:

I've toyed with the idea of instead of a straight subtraction, some sort of division. Like, if both sides are over 100, divide each by 2 until at most one side has over 100. That preserves the relative chances of specials and criticals, for example. Possibly a bit too unwieldy to use at the table, though increasingly I tend to play with spreadsheet character sheets these days.

There is no "just" way of handling this. Using division harms the party with the high skill value unproportionally, while using substraction cripples the party with the low skill value. (As we are talking RuneQuest, cripples as in limbs will fly.)

You could create math that provides a middle way, but that would probably exceed most peoples' unaided numeracy. Substraction is the easier math.

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Honestly I'm at the point of saying that the only benefit larger skills get is increased special and critical chances. To hell with reducing people's skills and stuff like that, I don't see the point.

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1 hour ago, Richard S. said:

Honestly I'm at the point of saying that the only benefit larger skills get is increased special and critical chances. To hell with reducing people's skills and stuff like that, I don't see the point.

I can see the point. If I have 190% Sword and you have 110% Sword, then we're basically playing "let's see who criticals, specials, or fumbles first". Even though  my skill is a lot higher than yours, we both have a 95% chance to hit and 1% fumble chance, so really it's just my 38% special versus your 22% special that matters (I am assuming we both would take no damage on a successful parry). That can take a fair while to play out. Note that I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing, but I do get why some people would think so.

I am not convinced that the core rule of switching that to a 100%/20% contest is particularly fair though; I go from effectively 1.5-2 times your skill to 5 times your skill, and I don't think that's really justified. (Which is why I was suggesting maybe just halving them both - 85 to 55 is the same ratio, after all). Mind you the resistance table has always had similar issues; if you have POW 10 and I have POW 20 then I have a 95% chance to overcome you, but if I have POW 2 and you have POW 1 it's only 55%. I know some people have claimed this is because the POW table is actually exponential, but I've never really bought that (if that were true, how come +10 POW only ever equals +10 magic points?) It works sort of OKish for the typical ranges it is used for (1-30 or so), so it isn't usually considered a huge deal, but if you agree with me that the range of POW (or STR, or whatever) is basically linear, then it really should be some sort of ratio. But that sort of simplification for the sake of quick play I can understand - and that's what anti-parry is doing as well.

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1 hour ago, GAZZA said:

I can see the point. If I have 190% Sword and you have 110% Sword, then we're basically playing "let's see who criticals, specials, or fumbles first". Even though  my skill is a lot higher than yours, we both have a 95% chance to hit and 1% fumble chance, so really it's just my 38% special versus your 22% special that matters (I am assuming we both would take no damage on a successful parry). That can take a fair while to play out. Note that I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing, but I do get why some people would think so.

In around 20 years of RQ play, I (almost) never had this kind of problem. Even when we had high skills, what resolved the fights was most often the tactics (close in, changing opponents, striking the weapon, striking to disarm, ...), the use of the terrain and the magic points attrition. Of course, preparing for combat is also a big factor.

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12 minutes ago, Kloster said:

In around 20 years of RQ play, I (almost) never had this kind of problem. Even when we had high skills, what resolved the fights was most often the tactics (close in, changing opponents, striking the weapon, striking to disarm, ...), the use of the terrain and the magic points attrition. Of course, preparing for combat is also a big factor.

I have, routinely, in other BRP games. 10-20 rounds of people doing the I Attack/You Parry/You Attack/I Parry routine (and made even worse in games where even if when you manage to land a hit, it will probably just bounce on armor - RQ avoids that part, at least).

Edited by Akhôrahil

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42 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

I have, routinely, in other BRP games. 10-20 rounds of people doing the I Attack/You Parry/You Attack/I Parry routine (and made even worse in games where even if when you manage to land a hit, it will probably just bounce on armor - RQ avoids that part, at least).

That means:

1 - that I have been lucky, not having to endure this.

2 - that this rule (that I dislike) has merits for groups like yours.

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3 hours ago, GAZZA said:

If I have 190% Sword and you have 110% Sword, then we're basically playing "let's see who criticals, specials, or fumbles first".

Or just fails their parry sometimes. Though at that level people who have full armour and defensive magic up often have allied spirits healing any attack immediately, so any location that doesn’t take out a location just reduces stored magic points. It could be long and dull. I’ve certainly seen it go a long time - and come down to who fails their parry first, which is a bit too random for my taste. A Sword of Humakt fighting Count Julan (both too honourable to allow others to interfere even in a vital climactic battle) was a memorable example - the players didn’t mind it, but a bit too random for me. 

3 hours ago, GAZZA said:

(I am assuming we both would take no damage on a successful parry).

In RQG you can certainly get a shield pretty smashed up over the course of a fight - and parrying weapons/shields can take a lot of damage parrying a special, often enough to render them useless. So even without the over 100% rule, you are unlikely to have the ‘hit parry rinse repeat’ cycle go as long as in RQ3 - and I don’t think RQG encourages the idea of Iron shields and such, either. 

1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

and made even worse in games where even if when you manage to land a hit, it will probably just bounce on armor - RQ avoids that part, at least

Iron plate and Shield 4 plus Protection 4 (and your obligatory 1 point of padding) is 22 points, that bounces a lot... ok, so iron plate is extreme, but bronze plate plus the rest is still 19 points. A lot of the time little enough gets through that your ally can Heal it before the next hit. 

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12 minutes ago, davecake said:

In RQG you can certainly get a shield pretty smashed up over the course of a fight - and parrying weapons/shields can take a lot of damage parrying a special, often enough to render them useless. So even without the over 100% rule, you are unlikely to have the ‘hit parry rinse repeat’ cycle go as long as in RQ3 - and I don’t think RQG encourages the idea of Iron shields and such, either. 

Completely right. RAW, in RQIII, a shield or parrying weapon takes 1 pt of damage when the attack exceeds its AP, except if the attack was to deliberately strike the said parrying weapon (this is one of the tactics I was speaking about just above) where damage taken is equal to the extra damage. In RQG, the damage can be much higher with a simple parry, on a Special attack for example, but the probability of Specials is lowered compared to RQIII.

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24 minutes ago, davecake said:

Iron plate and Shield 4 plus Protection 4 (and your obligatory 1 point of padding) is 22 points, that bounces a lot... ok, so iron plate is extreme, but bronze plate plus the rest is still 19 points. A lot of the time little enough gets through that your ally can Heal it before the next hit. 

That Heal needs to be thoroughly Boosted though... not that this should be a huge deal.

And at least protective spells can be dispelled.

Protection is good, but equal amounts of MPs invested in Bladesharp as opponent's Protection is better. Bladesharp (and the like), a reasonably low threshold for the D4 damage bonus, and Specials, make RQ combat a bit less bouncy than some other BRP games.

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Points about parrying weapon getting damaged and so on aside - all else being equal, that 190% and 110% match up, RAW, could take considerable time to resolve. Yes, you can use other tactics, whatever - that's essentially admitting the problem, since you wouldn't have to resort to that otherwise. As I say, I can see the reason anti parry is there. Whether or not I agree with it (I'm going to let it ride as written at first, at least) it's not a "solution in search of a problem" so to speak - the problem is real enough.

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