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Lowering lethality for newer players?


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I'm not familiar with the scenario specifically.  However in general I use Runequest as the more lethal of the various fantasy RPG options.  That means full spectrum from "no one who goes into this ca

I ran my players through the Woods of the Dead, Gloomwillow mission from Pegasus Plateau.  ***Spoilers***         ***You were warned*** My first take was that this w

The best introductory adventure IMHO is the one in the Quickstart booklet (which is good since it's the whole point of it). The adventure is called The Broken Tower and it's not only great, it's also

I'm not familiar with the scenario specifically.  However in general I use Runequest as the more lethal of the various fantasy RPG options.  That means full spectrum from "no one who goes into this cave comes out alive!" warnings....which are actually backed up by something solid, like a slew of angry 25 POW ghosts, or the late game menace of "death by Trollkin critical", or the ever popular wild-west inspired "Sever Spirit show down at high noon". 

 

What I in fact do, as a GM, is mitigate the lethality of the combat system in several important ways:

1) Warning shots to the players that combat is inherently dangerous early in the campaign.  Often the clan champion/their parents/older brother/martial arts master gets schooled by a future bad guy.  This starts the "call to arms" cycle that sort of wakes up the player characters to the need to self-improve.   It jump starts the narrative for why they are doing all these dangerous things anyway.

2) Many (but not all) situations have at least one non-combat solution (that I have thought of -- the players typically come up with more creative solutions on their own)

3) Red shirt use.  This means that when higher up in their social status, they often attract and can make use of lower powered initiates.  These will sometimes take the brunt of "surprise" attacks.  Similarly early in the campaign the PC's are often paired with a Rune level, and act as his/her band of red shirts.  Issaries and Lhankor Mhy priests are especially effective in this role as they tend to want extra muscle around (the players), yet are powerful enough to help save or get the PC's out of a combat jam, even if it is just a heal or a demoralize thrown their way.  Shamans are also great.  This sort of thing also helps ground the PC's in the world I find.  Much better to be part of a "small band of rebels", than to be every single rebel left on the planet.

4) Clan support.  If on clan business, use a clan healer, or services even up to resurrection for the young bloods for the first few training wheel adventures. 

 

At some point though, the players have seen the way the combat system works, have picked up a good amount of spirit magic, and are getting up there in Rune magic power as well.  The cord should be cut and the full danger of the system unleashed upon them, otherwise their heroic growth (and tactical finesse) will be stunted.  Some people do prefer games where they just level up mindlessly in power, become nigh unkillable without using any type of active counter measures, and have clearly defined paths of improvement that they can just follow without any specific interaction with the game world.  Runequest just isn't that game.

Runequest has always been a system of risk and danger.

Runequest has always been a game that rewards a player for actively improving his character.

Runequest combat has always been incredibly dangerous. 

Runequest demands a very active engagement from its players (and GM!) for anything approaching maximum enjoyment. 

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2 hours ago, Hiro Protagonist said:

Maybe a better introductory adventure?

The best introductory adventure IMHO is the one in the Quickstart booklet (which is good since it's the whole point of it). The adventure is called The Broken Tower and it's not only great, it's also a good jumping off point in case you later pick up the Core book and the GM screen pack, which contains other adventures in the same area. It's not a very lethal adventure, and the only real danger is in the final scene anyway.

2 hours ago, Hiro Protagonist said:

Any advice for making it less lethal?

Depends... how did the characters die? (Dissolv's recommendations above are very good, and actually valid for most other RPGs too)

If it was a fluke of the dice (the GM just rolled some awesome critical hits), then the GM can either fudge the rolls behind the GM screen or, if that's not acceptable, use a few house rules. For instance, it's a very common house rule that a character dies at the end of the next round when they reach 0 HP (instead of the end of the current round). This gives a little bit of time for the other PCs to run to them and perform healing. Remember that everybody has some healing magic, as part of the Common Magic spells.

But as previously said, the RuneQuest designers and the majority of its players consider it a feature, and not a bug, that anybody can suddenly die from a (un)lucky blow. This makes players think twice before attacking anybody, and, instead, seek other ways to solve a problem (negotiation, stealth, etc.).

Edited by lordabdul
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34 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Remember that everybody has some healing magic, as part of the Common Magic spells.

But as previously said, the RuneQuest designers and the majority of its players consider it a feature, and not a bug, that anybody can suddenly die from a (un)lucky blow. This makes players think twice before attacking anybody, and, instead, seek other ways to solve a problem (negotiation, stealth, etc.).

If there are priests/priestesses around, have them use their healing magic (or even invoke Divine Intervention to save the heroes).

Also remember that any cult initiate can invoke Divine Intervention.  GM could rule that for their efforts for the clan, they roll 1D20 instead of 1D100 - not something for every time, but may help with initial hurdles. 

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4 hours ago, Hiro Protagonist said:

Any advice for making it less lethal? Maybe a better introductory adventure?

Any module/adventure can be lethal in RQ.  Critical hits can always avoid armor and strike through.

Adventurers can add magical armor where possible (Shield, Protection, etc.) or cast for each other to help boost defense.  Have someone not fighting who can provide healing magic.  Ensure they remember inspiration and augments to boost attack and parry % (and possibly bump down the foes' same skills).

From the GM perspective, gauge the # of foes vs. adventurers and the attack % (and the # of armor points to get through).  Also help players understand when you say "they look well armed and armored", that a fight may not be the thing to engage in unless they have high attack/parry skills.

I ran the Quickstart "The Broken Tower" for my intro scenario.  There were certainly chances to die with both the Greydog and the goddess, but the players took advantage of passions and Runes for inspiration, and Rune Magic to keep the advantage on their side.

Edited by jajagappa
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As long as you run scenarios where fighting is mostly optional, high lethality levels are fine - they know what they’re getting into when they decide on a violent solution. Or if they didn’t before taking a few deaths, they do now.

The Rattling Wind is a bit nasty both because they have no idea what they’re getting into in the initial encounter, and because it’s hella dangerous. It might not be the best intro. I used Cattle Raid. (Cattle Raid had a neat spot where the players realized that even if they won, killing just a couple of the opponents meant more wergild than the total worth of the cows.)

Edited by Akhôrahil
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there are a lot of choices

behind your screen :

- reduce stats of opponents

- change death rules(let more time to save dying people, etc..)

 

educate your players :

explain what means danger

explain how a healer could be important

 

my main point is to explain players that they can lose their character because hazard but mostly because they act dangerously

 

Edited by French Desperate WindChild
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I am just returning to RuneQuest but remember this issue from the past. Like most others have stated this is really a feature rather than a problem. However, I do remember as a GM in the past changing an occasional hit location during a fight. So that unexpected critical by a Trolkin (it is always the Trollkin) is moved from the head/chest/abdomen to a limb. Will still take the adventurer out the fight but give the rest of the party an opportunity to do something. You have to be careful with any modification because players need to ‘feel’ the peril of the situation and for key scenes I would never fudge anything. However for that minor situation where things just escalate then it could help.

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I use a house rule that players normally have till next round to act to save a character. Everyone pretty much has Heal Wound. So unless its a lot of damage to the head then they always get a chance to heal their comrade on sr1 next round. If you're alone or someone fails their Rune Magic roll...well thems the breaks. And there is always a chance of DI.

In two years of pretty intensive play with multiple groups and play sessions we've had two player characters die. Both were resurrected. 

Mind you I did have a npc get his head bitten off by a Dragon Snail recently. Nom!

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I’m finding reduced lethality in my RQinG campaign, compared with my (admitted hazy) memories of RQiii/ii.

I think this is largely down to 2 factors.

The rules for where takes damage for a blow that is parried are a bit vague, so my interpretation is:

  • If you parry with a shield, then any excess damage goes to the shield arm.
  • If you parry with a weapon, then, any excess damage knocks the parrying weapon aside (damaging it) but damaging the originally rolled location

That means that, if you use a shield, then, if you parry the massive blow or lucky critical, then yes, your shield arm is gone, and you’re in shock, but you’re alive.  That’s how the party survived a critical from the Dragon of Thunder hills.

Secondly, I’ve Yelmalians in the party.  Do not believe the threads that say Yelmalian rune magic is rubbish. They have access to heal body.  And as long as they get to the fallen comrade by the end of the round (or very soon after, as long as I’m impressed with how quickly they’ve responded), I’ll allow it to save a life.  And it cures a limb being bitten off by an angry dragon.  It's also good against poison.

Lastly, my party are on excellent terms with Tarndisi (did I mention they’re Yelmalians), they’re based close by (One is Thane of Apple Lane).  And hopefully the hints I’ve dropped about her mysterious powers have been clear enough that they’ve twigged she might be a good place to come if a resurrection is required/hoped for…
 

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2 hours ago, Thaz said:

Heal Wound

However, if you use the rules as written, heal wound might not be quick enough for "instant" death situations.  You've to the end of the melee round to heal, and it's one SR per MP (i.e, HP healed) used, on average that 6 HP back.

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My house rule for Heal Wound has always been that it goes on SR 1 regardless of MPs expended. It didn't make sense to me that it had no other advantage over a PC with Heal 6 than no DXSR and could heal slightly more. e.g. "I used the same MPs at nearly the same time, and it still cost me a whole Rune Point?'

After all, when stacked with Cure Chaos Wound, it is 1 SR. Right? No need to expend MPs, therefore no delay.

Which reminds me of the inconsistent wording for Cure Chaos Wound (CCW). "This spell is of no use by itself and cannot be stacked on its own, but can be stacked with any spell used to cure a wound or other affliction received from a Chaotic creature." Notice the 'no use by itself'. Then it says "The spell also completely cures the victim of broo impregnation and removes its consequences. It also cures diseases received from a Chaotic creature." So, if the first sentence is accurate, what other spell is stacked with CCW to cure broo impregnation? There isn't one, hence, it must be of 'use by itself'. And you hardly need to stack it with Cure All Disease, since that would cure all disease without needing to use a RP to stack CCW with it. By using CCW, you are getting a Cure All Disease cheaper - but only for diseases caused by chaos creatures. Hence, there are two specifically included examples where CCW is of use all by itself.

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52 minutes ago, Dragon said:

My house rule for Heal Wound has always been that it goes on SR 1

I can see your logic. 

But for me, you're using your own life force (MP), so it just feels right to me that it takes time to channel it.  Visually, I can see an adventurer, in agony, holding the wound, praying to their god, as it knits over a few seconds, and them feeling drained by it.  It seems to fit the dramatic moment, and the spell.

My adventurers don't have the capacity with wondering round with heal 6, so heal wound is a very important spell to them, and gets used an awful lot (and I'm afraid often for more than 6 points).

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I have always allowed healing through the next round.  Catastrophic head shots are the only ones that I am super strict with, mainly because deaths just aren't *that* quick.  In particular from ancient weapons you don't die faster than someone can call to your deity.  Crippled, incapacitated, sure.  All the way Princess Bride dead?  No.    Even modern gun shot wounds take a relatively long time to have the ultimate effect.  

So + realism and + funner gameplay.  

 

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11 hours ago, Stephen L said:

Secondly, I’ve Yelmalians in the party.  Do not believe the threads that say Yelmalian rune magic is rubbish. They have access to heal body.

So do Orlanthi and Ernaldans.

It's a great spell, but note that it is 3 points, one can often use Heal Wound instead, and the runes needed to cast Heal Body don't match up with many warrior / PC type cults.

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On 8/25/2020 at 9:26 AM, Akhôrahil said:

As long as you run scenarios where fighting is mostly optional, high lethality levels are fine - they know what they’re getting into when they decide on a violent solution. Or if they didn’t before taking a few deaths, they do now.

The Rattling Wind is a bit nasty both because they have no idea what they’re getting into in the initial encounter, and because it’s hella dangerous. It might not be the best intro. I used Cattle Raid. (Cattle Raid had a neat spot where the players realized that even if they won, killing just a couple of the opponents meant more wergild than the total worth of the cows.)

Cattle Raid is fun. I had one group win the cows back via single combat of champions to first blood, and another that simply ransomed them back. 

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On 8/25/2020 at 1:26 AM, Akhôrahil said:

It might not be the best intro. I used Cattle Raid. 

Cattle raid is nice,  but with our group, one character (a storm bull warrior) was severely gored in the abdomen by the stampeding cattle, and was only saved by the prompt use of Heal Body by the Ernalda cultist in our group. 

In RQG, even the cattle can kill you! Having access to first class healing is needed for survival.

Edited by Manimati
typo
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Have yet to actually play RQG but DM'd other games extensively in the past. Have ran some pretty lethal scenarios before & my main thing is just having good pre-game communication with the players. Always let them know in advance what they were getting into. Asked them to keep in mind that a hammer is sometimes; but NOT always, the solution to a problem. After being fairly warned, if they still choose to leap headfirst into the Dragon's maw screaming "I'll kill it from the inside!"...well, the results are on them. lol

Myself; if someone wants to play a combat heavy game focused on fighting & not much else, I'd just choose another system or heavily modify this one. Just from looking at it though, I'd prefer to leave things pretty much as they are. Looks like this game does what it does like not much else! Plenty of really decent games let you bang, slash & beat on things to your heart's content. Not much else immerses you in the world like this one though. Even the mechanics bring you further into the feeling that this is a "real" & unique setting far removed from the standard & often shallower fare available. Just my humble opinion of course. 🙂

Edited by SharpPointyStick
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On 8/25/2020 at 10:56 AM, Stephen L said:

If you parry with a shield, then any excess damage goes to the shield arm.

An option, if one wants to simulate a shield bending/breaking on a hit and the weapon reaching another location (but mostly hitting the shield arm), would be:

Roll for hit location, but an odd number is a hit on the shield arm, the rest is a hit on the location rolled. This makes using a shield advantageous for survival but still keeps some of the excitement. Around 60% of the hits end up on the shield arm on a successful parry, depending on how you treat left/right arm in the location table.

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On 8/26/2020 at 12:32 AM, Arcadiagt5 said:

Cattle Raid is fun. I had one group win the cows back via single combat of champions to first blood, and another that simply ransomed them back. 

Joerg and I will have to tell the tale of the raid he ran for me so we could get the feel of a cattle raid before writing a generic one to use for talking about the process in the Wind Words Podcast, Cattle Raid

 

On 8/24/2020 at 4:46 PM, jajagappa said:

Also remember that any cult initiate can invoke Divine Intervention.  GM could rule that for their efforts for the clan, they roll 1D20 instead of 1D100 - not something for every time, but may help with initial hurdles. 

I like this for those special times when the adventures are, to quote Elwood Blues, “On a mission from god!"

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