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Spirit Combat Mechanics


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 I want to make sure that I understand the mechanics of Spirit combat.  Specifically, what is the role of the Spirit Combat Skill used for? Page 366 states, “The Spirit combat skill is used for both attack and defense in spirit combat.”

If a malign spirit were to attack a character in spirit combat, would that spirit have to roll a spirit combat roll to attack, with the character rolling his spirit combat roll in defense? Or, would you just move to rolling against each other using the resistance table like in older versions of RQ? If so, what is the purpose of the Spirit Combat Skill?

Most Spirits in the Bestiary do not have a Spirit Combat Skill (example Disease Spirits), while others give Skill as POW x 5% (example Animal Spirit). 

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If I understood correctly, this is how it works. 

First, you roll againt each other, that means that both the player and the spirit roll their spirit combat skill at the same time, it's not like a melee combat, where one hits, the other parrys, etc., but more like if both were pushing a boulder against the other.

If they both fail, nothing happens, next turn. If one succeeds and the other fails, the one that succeeds does spirit damage to the loser. If both succeed, you check the degree of success, if one achieved one or more degrees of success than the other (normal success vs special or crit), then he makes spirit damage. If both roll the same degree, then it gets boggy as the rules of Resolving Spirit Combat (Page 368) are kind of ambiguous. My interpretation is that if the tie is between two normal or special successes, then nothing happens, as if they both failed, HOWEVER, if they both crit, they both do damage to the other. 

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Here's my travelling in the spirit world example from a previous post that contains a spirit combat:

Vishi Dunn is going to travel to the Sky World to contact the Twinstars to follow up on some troubling information.

The obvious place to begin his journey would be in the Monkey Ruins, where the Fireground is close by. This would mean setting up a camp in baboon territory and hoping that the group is either not spotted and if so can hold off an attack. This is very risky, so he plans to do it from within his home camp.

Before sunrise on Fireday, his assistants prepare the sacred ground by casting Sanctify 4 and building a huge fire in the centre. Everyone takes their place around it. Beginning a day long Worship ceremony to Waha, there is much chanting and dancing. At the height of the ceremony Vishi spends 5 magic points, collapsing into sleep he discorporates and appears inside the Great Herd at his Power Place.

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The Great Herd

When a Praxian nomad enters the spirit world of their own safe circles, they visit the Great herd. There is the Herd Protectress herself, a huge cow of whatever tribe the visitors are members of. She is surrounded by others less spectacular in size, but each with her own splendor. They are cows of the other great herds, as well as a variety of the visitors' kinship animal. So a bison tribe member would see a huge splendid bison, who is the Protectress, and around her black bison, long horn bison, ordinary bison, star bison and even a white bison, as well as a high llama, an impala, etc.

Surrounding those are thousands of the favorite herd beast, all contented and healthy, milling about with calves and bulls among them.

Meanwhile at the ceremony his huge high llama fetch appears and stands over his body. The dancing slows and the crowd begins to settle down into a different dance, high llama stalking, the men mimic a male high llama's lookout stance in the herd, whilst the women (who are lay members) continue to dance and drum just outside the edge of the sanctified circle.

Vishi's player has already stated that this is an extended discorporation and rolls a D6 to find out how long his discorporation lasts and rolls 2 hours.

His spirit high llama Attuk (a specific 4-legged high llama ancestor ) is waiting, he mounts up and sets off through the herd. Eiritha in the centre of the herd quickly fades and the edge of the herd approaches and he enters the Wide Plains.

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The Wide Plains

The Spirit world of the Praxian Tradition is contained in a vast wide plain. It is covered with rich grasses and herd food, cut with streams and with occasional hills. A great mountain lies to the distant south, and a vast green garden to the north. At the center is the Great Herd, the safest place for most Praxians.

From the Wide Plains he makes a Scan roll and  sees the Fireground in the distance.

It takes a hour of travel to reach the Fireground, so he must make an encounter roll. He rolls POWx3 and gets 82, failing so gets a hostile encounter. Rolling a 4, the spirit has 1D6, POW, 4 points. Spirit combat starts and the weak spirit is quickly dispatched. Finally he reaches the edge of the Fireground.

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Fireground

This eternally burning area is where Oakfed and later Polestar touched down, but any Praxian Fire spirit maybe found here. Only well prepared adventurers are able to survive here. If they wish to reach the Sky World, they will first need to pass the Fire Guardians and find the Sky Steps.

This is a different region, so to enter it he must make a Spirit travel roll, it's one step removed from the Inner realm so -10%, he rolls 38, succeeding. Now inside the burning Fireground to find his way to the Star Steps that lead to the Skyworld. Almost immediately the Fire Guardians appear. These are a pair of humanoid shaped burning forms, each holding a burning spear. They lunge, Vishi knows this is very dangerous, they are 6D6+6 POW & 3D6+6 CHA:

 POW 24, CHA 14, spirit combat 96%, 1D6+3 damage

 POW 26,  CHA 21, spirit combat 104%, 2D6+3 damage

So he rolls his Dance to augment his Spirit Dance rolling 14, a success, adding 20% on to his Spirit Dance of 90%, so 115% - 50 for the spirits magic points, 65%. he rolls a 03, a critical, avoiding the encounter and staying in the Spirit World.

His 2 hours are up, he's had 1 spirit travel roll and one planned encounter. He now spends 1 magic point to extend his declared extended Discorporation and rolls a D6, for 5 extra hours. His next spirit travel roll is to find the Star Steps into the Sky World. He augments his Spirit Travel with his Spirit lore, rolls 30, succeeding, bringing his spirit travel to 120%, leaving this region is -20 as it's 2 steps removed from the inner realm  so 100%. He searches amongst the burning land, taking an hour to locate the steps.

The edge of the sky dome now rises up in front of him. His high llama jumps onto it and fails his jump roll with 97. Vishi is thrown off and the Llama disappears back to his Power Place. As planned, Vishi now begins an hour long ritual to Summon Lucky Star, an important patron of the Blue Llama clan. Spending 20 of his stored magic points, a tiny blue floating stars appear and he asks them to lead him to the Twin Stars. Following the stars he begins to traverse the edge of the Sky Dome. After an hour a POW x1 roll is needed to avoid an encounter in this outer region, rolling 98, a fumble! A hostile spirit encounter, I've added 25% to the roll to reflect the fumble, 68+25=93, 5D6+6 POW & 3D6+6 APP

POW 24, CHA 17, spirit combat 120%, 2D6+3 damage.

Clearly a Sky Guardian (place Gods War Phoenix figure on table). Vishi is currently

POW 18, CHA 15, spirit combat 95%, 1D6+3 +3 (shaman) +6 (Spirit Mastery 2) = 1D6+12 damage.

Vishi augments his spirit combat with his Death rune rolling 88, just a success, 90+20=110.

Round 1 Guardian 54, success,  Vishi 32, success, tie.

Round 2 Guardian 47, success,  Vishi 95, success, tie.

Round 3 Guardian 73, success,  Vishi 85, success, tie.

Round 5 Guardian 67, success,  Vishi 37, success, tie.

Round 6 Guardian 68, success,  Vishi 40, success, tie.

Round 7 Guardian 09, special,  Vishi 78, success, Guardian wins, 5 special doubled +3= 13, Vishi has 5 mp left. (not corporeal so no extra damage)

Round 8 Guardian 00, fumble,  Vishi 78, success, Vishi wins, 3+12= 15, Guardian has 3 mp left. Fumble roll,  Combatant’s energies become unfocused; lose 1D6 magic points = 6. Guardian has 0 mp left.

Vishi forces it to teach a sky based spirit magic and asks for a new sky spirit magic spell (to be determined later)

Another hour passes. Vishi has spent 5 hours in the spirit world. He's got an hour left to find the Twinstars or has to make a POW x 4 (90%) to avoid a d6 hit points loss, he's also down to 5 mp and they don't regenerate. He decides to return and reach the Sky World another way, using Lucky Star to reach the Sky World directly. He attempts his Spirit Dance to return to his body, succeeding on a 38.

He stands up slightly disorientated next to the still roaring fire. A rain of arrows falls around him. A Sable attack is in progress. Clearly he was on to something.

(all rolls are random)

Edited by David Scott
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3 hours ago, OrlanthRex said:

Most Spirits in the Bestiary do not have a Spirit Combat Skill (example Disease Spirits), while others give Skill as POW x 5% (example Animal Spirit). 

Bestiary page 165:

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The spirit’s skill at Spirit Combat typically depends on the type of spirit, described in the Spirit Combat Level table, following. When in doubt, the skill is POW×5%.

 

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5 hours ago, OrlanthRex said:

If a malign spirit were to attack a character in spirit combat, would that spirit have to roll a spirit combat roll to attack, with the character rolling his spirit combat roll in defense? Or, would you just move to rolling against each other using the resistance table like in older versions of RQ? If so, what is the purpose of the Spirit Combat Skill?

Quick answer:  it uses the Opposed Roll mechanism, just like all other skills (e.g. Bargain vs. Bargain).  Each opponent rolls for their Spirit Combat.  Best level of success wins / same level results in tie with no change.  It does NOT use the Resistance table.  The victor reduces the opponent's Magic Points based on their Spirit Combat Damage.  

@David Scott provides a full working example.

 

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6 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

My interpretation is that if the tie is between two normal or special successes, then nothing happens, as if they both failed, HOWEVER, if they both crit, they both do damage to the other. 

I went the other way and made all successful ties = both damage each other.   Part of it was interpreting the wording, but also part of it was a desire to get spirit combat moving on faster, and to give the lesser POW spirits the ability to be dangerous en masse.  There is a real reason to burn Rune points this way if you fall into a gave with seven POW 9 spirits.  Not so much if they can't hurt a person with a success, most of the time.  

The same goes for Shamans vs. spirits -- the spirit armor spell suddenly looks very appealing for those extended romps in the spirit plane. 

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1 hour ago, Dissolv said:

I went the other way and made all successful ties = both damage each other.   Part of it was interpreting the wording, but also part of it was a desire to get spirit combat moving on faster, and to give the lesser POW spirits the ability to be dangerous en masse.

I had also interpreted it this way (any level of tie = both damage), but Jason has mentioned in the Q&A thread that the intended reading of the rules was for damage to only occur on a critical success tie. I think I still prefer it with damage dealt on any tie, although I may play around with making it half damage. At least, those 5 consecutive ties in David Scott's example would be a bit more interesting.

6 hours ago, David Scott said:

It takes a hour of travel to reach the Fireground

Are the Wide Plains and Fireground some custom thing you made up, or something from an upcoming book?

Is the Fireground a vortice, in which case this hour of travel was the result of a 1D6 roll, or was it just a GM call to keep it simple and make it take one hour? Do you generally have any advice on choosing travel times in the Spirit World? (it looks like you just make most location changes last one hour)

Shouldn't the shaman have rolled Spirit Travel (at -10%) first, and then fought a small spirit along the way, and then arrived at the Fireground? (the reason being that if the players gets a special or critical success, they can reach the Fireground quickly enough that they don't have to fight anything)

6 hours ago, David Scott said:

His 2 hours are up

Where did the second hour go?

Thanks a lot for this example!

Edited by lordabdul
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6 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Are the Wide Plains and Fireground some custom thing you made up, or something from an upcoming book?

https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/gloranthan-documents/glorantha-2/cultures/praxian-spirit-tradition/

6 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Is the Fireground a vortice

Yes and No.The Fireground is part of the list in the article, but the full article was never published. This eternally burning area is where Oakfed down, it's congruent with Monkey Ruins in the Middle World. It's a region with many different fire vortexes within it along with the path to the Upper world (and guardians).

6 hours ago, lordabdul said:

in which case this hour of travel was the result of a 1D6 roll, or was it just a GM call to keep it simple and make it take one hour? Do you generally have any advice on choosing travel times in the Spirit World? (it looks like you just make most location changes last one hour)

Generally an hour as that's the unit for duration in spirit travel. Travelling is never usually exciting, so keep it simple. For example getting to a known border in a set direction is easy. Fining a small vortex in a large area 1D6 hours (searching, avoiding encounters, etc).

6 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Where did the second hour go?

First hour crossing the Wide plains, second hour crossing into the Fireground and avoiding the encounter (1 encounter per hour). Basically one hour per activity.

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18 hours ago, OrlanthRex said:

Where does the Resistance Table come in play?

It doesn't. Spirit Combat used to use POW vs POW or MP vs MP on the resistance table, but that is no longer the case. It's possible that there might be some legacy language somewhere, something overlooked either in the rules or a scenario, but I haven't spotted any.

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