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Ask Jeff! RuneQuest design questions


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As I understand it initially players were to have access to all of their cult's special Rune spells along with all common Rune spells.  At some point, the decision was made to limit the number to 3 to make it more accessible to starting players.  What drove this design choice over a different approach?  Were there any other approaches to this?

Edited by Dan Z
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What it means in game is that characters cannot typically replenish their Rune points in the middle of a scenario. Characters can get their Rune points back if they go to their temple on a holy day, h

The primary design goal on hero questing for RuneQuest is to bust out entirely from the rigid structure presented before, and let hero quests become more fluid and unscripted, while still exploring Gl

Simple - because a lot, arguably most, of the cool bits of the game start taking place once the characters are Rune Lords, priests, and shamans. That's when you get to see large spells in action, alli

7 hours ago, Dan Z said:

As I understand it initially players were to have access to all of their cult's special Rune spells along with all common Rune spells.  At some point, the decision was made to limit the number to 3 to make it more accessible to starting players.  What drove this design choice over a different approach?  We're there any other approaches to this?

It was a learning curve issue. Giving players access to all special Rune spells can easily be overwhelming - particularly with cults like Orlanth Thunderous, Orlanth Adventurous, or Ernalda. So we decided to limit that initial number to three and then let players earn or buy new spells. That way they know their character's "spell inventory" better and have a better feel for their character. Three is, of course, a magical number and in many traditions, we are hard-wired to remember and present things in three. So seemed good to me.

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11 hours ago, Jeff said:

It was a learning curve issue. Giving players access to all special Rune spells can easily be overwhelming - particularly with cults like Orlanth Thunderous, Orlanth Adventurous, or Ernalda. So we decided to limit that initial number to three and then let players earn or buy new spells. That way they know their character's "spell inventory" better and have a better feel for their character. Three is, of course, a magical number and in many traditions, we are hard-wired to remember and present things in three. So seemed good to me.

Thanks Jeff!  Makes sense, and three being a magical number in many traditions make it an excellent choice.

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What was the thinking behind the relative balance of Absorption, Shield, and Reflection. They each provide some Countermagic-like effect, and something else which nearly doubles its power. Absorption adds to your magic points, Shield grants armor as well, and Reflection sends the offensive spell back to the original caster. 

The design question is, why do Absorption and Shield always work to stop spells of equal or lesser power while Reflection only works if the target succeeds in resisting the spell?

I know this was the same back to RQ2. Was there some play balance issue that repeatedly came up? Was it because if both sides had a sufficient Reflection spell, the spell would rebound endlessly (until one Reflection was dispelled)?

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What was the design purpose for newly created characters being so capable (I was really tempted to say powerful) compared with RQ3? I didn’t play RQ2, but I presume that RQG new characters are more capable than RQ2 new characters too. 

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7 hours ago, Rojo said:

What was the design purpose for newly created characters being so capable (I was really tempted to say powerful) compared with RQ3? I didn’t play RQ2, but I presume that RQG new characters are more capable than RQ2 new characters too. 

Well actually it was easy enough to create RQ3 characters with similar skills levels - just give them ten years of experience!

 

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On 5/3/2020 at 3:04 PM, Jeff said:

Well actually it was easy enough to create RQ3 characters with similar skills levels - just give them ten years of experience!

 

I swear that I was about to say it myself to dodge that answer 😅. Let me modify the question, I suppose that I wasn´t too clear. What was the design purpose to let the PCs achieve certain power levels (and the gameplay it involves) a lot easier than before? Thanks!

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11 hours ago, Rojo said:

I swear that I was about to say it myself to dodge that answer 😅. Let me modify the question, I suppose that I wasn´t too clear. What was the design purpose to let the PCs achieve certain power levels (and the gameplay it involves) a lot easier than before? Thanks!

Simple - because a lot, arguably most, of the cool bits of the game start taking place once the characters are Rune Lords, priests, and shamans. That's when you get to see large spells in action, allied spirits and fetches, and when the adventurers are likely cult and community leaders. In RQ2 that point was so far off that in the Chaosium house campaign, they had two groups of characters - those made normally, and those made to start as Rune masters. And all the big stories came from the latter group. 

After all RQG is set in the Hero Wars, and the players should be allowed to interact with the unfolding story as more than canon-fodder. It is possible to start with less robust characters, but my preferred default is for characters that are on the cusp of doing memorable things.

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17 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Simple - because a lot, arguably most, of the cool bits of the game start taking place once the characters are Rune Lords, priests, and shamans

No disagreement.  However, with the 90% Devotion requirement for Rune Lord, most players will need 3-6 years (Glorantha time) to get there, without some big assist from the GM.

To go from 80% to 90% requires, on average, 3 successful rolls to increase, each at 20% or less chance.  That's ~3 years.  And many PCs start at 60% to 70% Devotion, requiring another few years.

Our group has switched back to RQ2 +5% for successful checks, and liberal rules for obtaining Devotion checks 

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Our new group has one character who just needs to get his CHA up by one and then qualifies for Wind Lord. Another is already a shaman. And another is following closely behind to becoming a Sword Lord, but he needs a few more points of CHA.

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@Jeff How do they start with 90% Devotions?  The best any of us started with was 70%, after the freebie +10% add.  Are we missing some rule?  We did go with mainly random background rolls.  If you get to chose all the +10% options that might matter, but, as Nathan Hale noted, your parent can only die heroically once. 

This is getting away from "design decisions", so willing to discuss more in another thread.

🙂

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26 minutes ago, Kloster said:

Hello Jeff,

Why having removed INT from the calculation of the 'Magic skills category' modifier?

Regards.

Because raw magical talent is not a function of INT. Anymore than it is a function of CON or DEX.

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33 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

Unless referring to sorcery...

Even then. INT governs how much you can do with knowledge, but not your raw ability to work magic.

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4 hours ago, Jeff said:

Even then. INT governs how much you can do with knowledge, but not your raw ability to work magic.

Sorry, I'm having a hard time understanding how a system of magic that requires intense study of formulae (possibly also symbology and abstract concepts and associations between them) and the ability to design new spells, isn't benefited by having a higher intelligence. Especially since sorcery spells are limited to Read/Write (p388).

 

I do get the logic of it not impacting other magical skills (except for Spirit Lore) and spirit magic... But not Sorcery.

Sure, maybe that's just me... 

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What lead to the decision of changing the rules on higher rolls breaking ties during opposed contests in case of same level of success? I remember it being in the first printing, and then later changed, but I don't remember seeing an explanation on the reasoning behind this change. I imagine it was to make ties a more frequent result, which can lead to interesting situations and stand-offs; was that the reason?

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On 6/13/2020 at 5:13 AM, BlindPumpkin said:

What lead to the decision of changing the rules on higher rolls breaking ties during opposed contests in case of same level of success?

Jeff might have already answered this in another thread:

....and actually it was in reply to one of my comments!

...and a bit more slightly down the same thread:

 

Edited by lordabdul
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On 6/15/2020 at 7:47 AM, lordabdul said:

Jeff might have already answered this in another thread:

....and actually it was in reply to one of my comments!

...and a bit more slightly down the same thread:

 

At first I was unimpressed to see the resistance table come back (even if I remembered back in the days loving it) and would have liked an opposed rolls system instead. However, I have warmed up to them and I believe Jeff explains the different mechanics in the game rather well.

Having separate rolls for attacks and parries gives various potential results that adds texture in the game. Succeeding a parry is always great but it is not an auto save.

The benefit of the resistance table is to oppose non-percentile values against one another. Irrespective of if it is POW, SIZ, STR, INT, HP, damage or what not, the mechanic is always the same and the % to roll is always easy to figure out even without the table.

The opposed rolls system considers that all results, win, loss or tie, should advance the story. The only caveat is that in some situation, it is difficult to visualize what a tie is or how it makes the story more interesting. I don't see that as a big issue since it is easy to agree as a group how awkward ties will be resolved either by rolling until someone wins (if it helps build suspense), using the highest roll like Pendragon does or even using the highest skill.

In the end, I am fairly happy with the resolution methods selected. They are easy, they make sense and they are easily adaptable. 

Edited by DreadDomain
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On 6/15/2020 at 9:04 PM, Scotty said:

For those of you not aware, Jeff did a series of design notes in 2016-2017 on designing the new RuneQuest. The aricle links have been collected here: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/publishers/chaosium/runequest-roleplaying-in-glorantha-players-book-print/designing-the-new-runequest/

Good to have all the links at the same spot! I liked to reread some of them but particularly the first one with the over-riding goals:

  1. Set RuneQuest firmly in Glorantha.
  2. Maintain backwards compatibility with RuneQuest 2 - in particular with the adventure scenarios and campaigns that were rereleased as a result of the highly successful RuneQuest Classic Kickstarter in late 2015.
  3. Bring the Runes directly into the game mechanics - the game is Rune-Quest after all! And at the same time, make it more fun to use Rune magic as an initiate: Rune Magic had to be replenishable somehow,
  4. Provide deeper incentives for character immersion into the setting, to fulfill the promise of Greg's original Dragon Pass campaign from the early 1980s. The acclaimed computer game King of Dragon Pass provides a rich immersive Gloranthan experience: we want to achieve something as deep as that in the tabletop RuneQuest game. The gold standard for doing this is, of course, Pendragon, a rules system that has strongly influenced my approach to game design and play.

In retrospect, it is interesting to see how intertwined goals 1, 3 and 4 ended up being. Having smashed these three goals and the way they were accomplished is where RQG truly shine. The art direction, the art itself, the in-world vignettes (specifically the Saga), the family background during character creation all greatly contributes to goal 1 and 4. The stand-out among the stand-outs are the runes and associated mechanics. What a beautiful way to give a lot of depth to your character, tie it with how magic works and incentive them to act like their god. Simply brilliant.

Goal 2 in an interesting bonus (I am currently going through the Scorpion Hall with a RQG character) but in my opinion is nowhere near as important as the other goals. Still, it's nice and has the added benefit that being fairly compatible with RQ2 by definition means that it is with RQ3 as well (at least when it comes to picking an adventure and play it).

I need to run off now but I'll come back with a design question tied with the design notes.   

Edited by DreadDomain
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