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My Players Confessed: They Don't Use Passions or Runes Because the Penalties Scare Them


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In our downtime "how we can make our game better" discussion, I mentioned that I felt like I'd done a poor job (as GM) encouraging the players to leverage their Passions and Runes to augment their skill rolls (or even replace them in some circumstances).

I was surprised when the players responded along the lines of "Oh, no, it's not you. We don't want to use our Runes or Passions to augment because the penalties for failure are too dire."

Here is a direct quote from our Discord:

"To me the risk/reward for using a passion seemed "a poor investment". The potential bonus is nice, but the potential downside is way worse."

Has anyone else experienced this: players so aware of the meta they won't risk using their Runes or Passions even if it could help them?

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Whereas my player love them, use them all the time as it defines who their adventurer is. The Storm Bull in the group failed his Beast rune inspiration twice last week. He's looking to atone for whate

Sorry you do.  For me, invoking Passions and Runes is role playing.  Trying to game the odds by figuring out your chance of success is roll playing. That's just a jerk statement.  Keep it

If you don´t like a rule in your D100 game (or in your case: your players are to afraid to use it) have a look how other D100 games are handle this.  BRP, OpenQuest and CoC doesn´t have augments, b

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I like the rule, but I had exactly the same problem. Following session, my players began to use them, but like Rodney, they used only their high score passions and runes, because were afraid of the failure consequences.

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I think as gm you can give them some hope

you can give them some bonus point when they do thing according with their rune / passion even if they don't use in  game play

for example, an Orlanthi who climbs alone a very high mount and then worships his god, only by devotion, or because he wants his god to forgive him about a "wrong action" (what draconism ?) could gain 5 / 1d10 / 10 points on storm or devotion or the most appropriate

for example an ernaldan who spend all her money / time to save children   she doesn't know from a danger could be rewarded

a storm buller who try always to scare his ennemies could gain some points in darkness when another who is drunk every night could gain points in disorder

I m not saying to distribute points every session, or every action, but when a character is devoted to something : great deed (like our orlanthi or ernaldan) or long time activity (like our stormbullers) you can

 

in the same way, a very civilized, polite stormbull would be lose points in disorder, or an ernaldan torturing children in earth / devotion Ernalda

 

Edited by French Desperate WindChild
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If you don´t like a rule in your D100 game (or in your case: your players are to afraid to use it) have a look how other D100 games are handle this. 

BRP, OpenQuest and CoC doesn´t have augments, but RQ6/Mythras has. 

You can augment one skill by another skill with 1/5th of the value of the skill you augment with. 
If you have a skill of 60%, you can augment another by 12%. 
No roll required, not penalties for failure, but a much lower bonus than what an augment in RQG could give. 

Maybe you can suggest this to your players. I would stick with the RQG rules set, and augment with skills/rules above 65%... except when i am desperate. 

Edited by AndreJarosch
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2 hours ago, claycle said:

I was surprised when the players responded along the lines of "Oh, no, it's not you. We don't want to use our Runes or Passions to augment because the penalties for failure are too dire."

This doesn't surprise me at all.

I wanted to encourage augments, and I thought the penalty would be a real deterrent, so I have ignored it.

There are two things that have influenced my thinking of this in my campaign.

  • I have a lot of new players (many new to roleplaying), and half of them are younger than 11.
  • And almost as soon as we started the campaign we went into lock down, so it is run remotely by Zoom.

This means I want to involve as many people as I can in every piece of action, so no-one gets bored.

This has been achieved by me encouraging as many augments as anyone can think of.  We augment all over the place, and everyone is trying to think what the ycan do to help in any situation.

And I have done so by (at the moment) ignoring the penalty if you fail, and only apply one on a fumble.  Though I try to make fumbles as something imaginative happens rather than a simple penalty.

When we start again to meet in person, I shall probably reinstate the penalty.
 

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7 hours ago, claycle said:

In our downtime "how we can make our game better" discussion, I mentioned that I felt like I'd done a poor job (as GM) encouraging the players to leverage their Passions and Runes to augment their skill rolls (or even replace them in some circumstances).

I was surprised when the players responded along the lines of "Oh, no, it's not you. We don't want to use our Runes or Passions to augment because the penalties for failure are too dire."

Here is a direct quote from our Discord:

"To me the risk/reward for using a passion seemed "a poor investment". The potential bonus is nice, but the potential downside is way worse."

Has anyone else experienced this: players so aware of the meta they won't risk using their Runes or Passions even if it could help them?

In my group we have kind of the opposite problem. Many times the action stops because the players start pondering/talking if a passion or a Rune is suitable for the skill check. It used to be a bigger problem, but now it's mostly under control.

Edited by Brootse
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It doesn't seem that bad to me. For an augment, the penalty only applies to the skill you are trying to augment. Failed your Initmidate? Sure, it sucks to have -20% to your attack and parry.

For Runic Inspiration, it's just to direct rolls using that rune. So if you use Air to inspire your Sword skill, then your sword skill is unaffected, but any rolls on Air (e.g. casting spells) are at -20%. Well, if you have 80% in Air then that's down to 60%. Deal with it. Use a different rune. Doesn't seem so bad to me.

Passions, those are the real problem. -10% to all rolls. Nasty that it's all rolls, but it's only -10.

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7 hours ago, claycle said:

"To me the risk/reward for using a passion seemed "a poor investment". The potential bonus is nice, but the potential downside is way worse."

 

One of our players brought that up in a downtime chat and then has been the best user of passions since. Has not slowed her down at all...I will cut and paste this and see if I can get a reaction for you..

ETA

7 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

We seldom try to "Inspire" with any Passion or Rune that's less than 70%.  There are exceptions, but between the drawbacks for failure, and the "one passion per scene" rule, it seems suboptimal to use these weaker values.  

Of course one could say the same for all skills!

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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10 hours ago, claycle said:

"To me the risk/reward for using a passion seemed "a poor investment". The potential bonus is nice, but the potential downside is way worse."

Whereas my player love them, use them all the time as it defines who their adventurer is. The Storm Bull in the group failed his Beast rune inspiration twice last week. He's looking to atone for whatever has caused Storm Bull's ire with him. Looks like a pilgrimage! They are the main tools for roleplaying in my game (same in Pendragon too). We have a lot of opposed Passion and Rune rolls too as they wrestle with loyalties, runic traits and honour.

9 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

it seems suboptimal to use these weaker values.

except it's a roleplaying game of fantasy high adventure in a bronze age magical world, not a roll-playing game of dice values and probability analysis.

3 hours ago, Brootse said:

In my group we have kind of the opposite problem. Many times the action stops because the players start pondering/talking if a passion or a Rune is suitable for the skill check. It used to be a bigger problem, but now it's mostly under control.

Because you can only inspire once per scene, my players are quick off the mark on this now. Make sure you have the rune description page open / available.

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16 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Whereas my player love them, use them all the time as it defines who their adventurer is. The Storm Bull in the group failed his Beast rune inspiration twice last week. He's looking to atone for whatever has caused Storm Bull's ire with him. Looks like a pilgrimage! They are the main tools for roleplaying in my game (same in Pendragon too). We have a lot of opposed Passion and Rune rolls too as they wrestle with loyalties, runic traits and honour.

And this is what my passionate (see what I did there, eh? :)) adventurer did with her rolls! She has yet to fail but uses the passions as her goalposts, so to speak.

 

16 minutes ago, David Scott said:

except it's a roleplaying game of fantasy high adventure in a bronze age magical world, not a roll-playing game of dice values and probability analysis.

Each to their own, but I am with you David.

 

16 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Because you can only inspire once per scene, my players are quick off the mark on this now. Make sure you have the rune description page open / available.

Or use the handy dandy (and oh so good looking) GM’s Screen™ 

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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8 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I think as gm you can give them some hope

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

That's a good one.

False hope, maybe.

Hope dangling shiny on a string, to be snatched away at the last minute, sure.

But, hope? Nah!

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3 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

One of our players brought that up in a downtime chat and then has been the best user of passions since. Has not slowed her down at all...I will cut and paste this and see if I can get a reaction for you..

ETA

Of course one could say the same for all skills!

As the player in question, I thought about it and realized that the big thing here is ultimately the style of play you're going with, and I wanted to play characters who were driven by assorted deep drives and relationships. 

Also, if you've got that 90% Honor passion on your sheet, might as well make it work for you, and sit down and play dominoes honorably and hope that 20% augment negates the double-blanks the tilesharp has up their sleeves...

Also, I remembered my Pendragon PC from a Great Pendragon Campaign game becoming friends with Gawain over their mutual berserk rages thanks to a Passion roll, and having a rating of 22/110% on Love (wife) thanks to meeting and marrying a fairy damosel with inhuman APP, and how she went mad and spent a summer and autumn building crude fortifications against the sea on a beach. And I understood immediately that RQG is relatively restrained, a Sergio Leone movie rather than one of the interchangeable Hercules movies with the rubber biceps. 

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Haha, I've told my players like a hundred times about rune and passion inspirations and they have been used very little. Once one player used an inspiration successfully, and everyone was thrilled; the next time everyone used it and ALL FAILED. They have never used inspirations again. In reality it's a pretty safe bet, but all tabletop rpg gamers know how dice work, and any malus to skills is absolutely terrifying, especially when in RQG a failed roll can cost you your life, so I understand their fear.

Edited by Jape_Vicho
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12 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

We seldom try to "Inspire" with any Passion or Rune that's less than 70%.

This has been the behavior I notice from my players, too. They rarely use Passion augments, but grub for Rune augments as often as they can, if the percentage is 60/70%+. I mostly follow the same pattern when I play, although I haven't had a lot of opportunities to play.

Augment rules are something I need to review, though. I thought they all worked basically the same, but I've been informed each type of augment actually has slightly different rules, not +20%/-20%.

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12 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

We seldom try to "Inspire" with any Passion or Rune that's less than 70%.  There are exceptions, but between the drawbacks for failure, and the "one passion per scene" rule, it seems suboptimal to use these weaker values.  

Allow me to blow your mind then. The player I quoted is playing an Arroyan with the following Runes/Passions:

Fertility 95, Harmony 95, Loyalty (Colymar) 85, Hate (Lunar Empire) 85

And the player declines to make tests against these for augments because of the possible penalties. Other players at the table have similar Rune or Passion scores in at least one or two abilities. None of them are eager to test them.

Edited by claycle
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2 hours ago, David Scott said:

except it's a roleplaying game of fantasy high adventure in a bronze age magical world, not a roll-playing game of dice values and probability analysis.

Tell that to the enemy that just sent your brain flying out the newly made crack in your skull because you had -20 extra to parry 😁

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25 minutes ago, claycle said:

And the player declines to make tests against these for augments because of the possible penalties. Other players at the table have similar Rune or Passion scores in at least one or two abilities. None of them are eager to test them.

If they are above 80 they will have to have them tested whether they want them to be tested or not. They may ignore the results but then will suffer the penalty and possibly a reduction. It is one reason I warn folk about going above 80%. I do not like to arbitrarily tell a player this or her adventurer must follow a line, but if they choose the high passion after the warning what can I do?

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5 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

If they are above 80 they will have to have them tested whether they want them to be tested or not. They may ignore the results but then will suffer the penalty and possibly a reduction. It is one reason I warn folk about going above 80%. I do not like to arbitrarily tell a player this or her adventurer must follow a line, but if they choose the high passion after the warning what can I do?

I find I try to gently remind the Arroyan player that their Harmony and Life runes (and Loyalty) should profoundly affect their attitudes and choices. And I watch the player struggle mightily with these, to the point of detachment. The player tells themself that their Arroyan is a pacifist (which is probably true), but this translates in game into passivity rather than pacifism. I try to remind them that these strongly held beliefs would probably force the character towards actions the player would probably prefer not to take, like actively interposing themselves into a dangerous melee to preserve life and oppose violence - these are not passive choices.

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1 hour ago, Crel said:

Augment rules are something I need to review, though. I thought they all worked basically the same, but I've been informed each type of augment actually has slightly different rules, not +20%/-20%.

Yes -- I originally was on the fence about the augment rules because they seemed harsh in some places... but a more careful review of the rules shows that none of the 3 augment mechanics (skills, Runes, Passions) work the same! Argh! I really don't like that we need to internalize many more things than we should (it's a general problem with RQG), but it does mean that things aren't maybe as bad @claycle's players think?

As @PhilHibbs says, it's not all bad:

  • Augmenting with a skill is a simple, one-roll only, modifier on the scale of +50/+30/+20/-20/-50. Fire and forget.
    • The rules say that you can augment anything with anything using these rules, but in practice I think this rule only applies to a skill augmenting something else... (unless you want to add even more complexity at the table where a player has to clearly specify if they are "augmenting" with a Rune or "getting inspired" by a Rune, because the two are different, but that just seems tedious to me).
  • Runic inspiration, in theory, augments one ability only (pick a skill or a stat or something) with +50/+30/+20 for the whole scene (instead of just for one roll). However, on a failure, the -20 only applies to further rolls on that Rune! Only on a fumble do really bad things happen.
    • A normal failure is only annoying if you wanted to cast Rune magic using that Rune a bit later in the same scene. So it's pretty safe in the end, I think. Cast your Rune Magic buffs first before getting inspired by that Rune if you must.
    • In practice, because the positive bonuses last the whole scene, and many things could happen during the scene, I tend to be generous and say that the successful Runic Inspiration affects everything that the Rune can affect. So with a successful Darkness Inspiration, I give both bonuses to smashing things with a mace, and to stealth rolls, instead of (per RAW) only a specific ability (for example, by RAW, if the player used Runic Inspiration to augment a hammer skill, it doesn't work if they later swing a club or mace because those are different skills).
  • Passions also augment one given ability (pick a skill or stat or something) with +50/+30/+20 to that ability for the duration of the scene. Unlike Runes, the penalty however applies to all rolls in the scene! It's -10 only: definitely annoying but not discouraging, IMHO. Thankfully, Passions tend to be quite high anyway.
    • Just like Runic Inspiration, I tend to be more generous than RAW here. If the Passion is "Love (family)" and you're trying to protect a loved one, I'll give bonuses to whatever action directly fulfills that goal (hiding, running, convincing someone to not attack, etc.). If the Passion is "Hate (trolls)" and some trolls attack you, I give the bonus to whatever will hurt the trolls (both slashing with a sword or bashing with a shield). Per RAW, only one ability would get the bonus.

So in order of risk/reward, I would say that, from best to less good, we have: Runic Inspiration, skill augments, Passions.  I also think that my small modifications make augments/inspirations a bit more advantageous to use.

This is where it looks to me like Passions need the most care from the GM, as in : make sure they go up every couple adventures if appropriate, and if the player wants to. It feel a lot safer to roll under a >75% Passion than a 60% Passion that hasn't moved since character creation. Remember, for instance, that the Loyalty Passion is a two-way street: when you do stuff for your clan or tribe, that Passion will probably go up. You can interpret it as the character becoming increasingly loyal to the people they serve, but you can also interpret it as these people being increasing indebted to the character, because this kind of Passion is also what you use to get support from your community! So it makes sense to augment it. It's kinda weird, at least at first, that it works both ways like this, but it kind of makes sense after a while.

On an anecdotal level, though, most players I've played with enjoy rolling Passions and screaming "death to the Lunars!" or something equally appropriate. It gets them pumped up as much as it gets their character pumped up. Of course, sometimes it's quickly followed by an "oh shit...", but they still enjoy the mechanic's intent.

Edited by lordabdul
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The very different mechanics are a nightmare.  I'm pretty sure we've been playing Runes "wrong" and giving a -20% to the Skill.  However, that makes much more sense.

As for the Hate passion, note that it, for some strange reason, only applies to a single opponent of that type, not all of them.  Not sure if it has come up in our games but I'd ignore that restriction.

Inspiration does slow down play.  But, at only once per scene, not too much IMO.  Our group use Skill Augments a lot,  frankly, too much, and they often do greatly slow down play.  If I ever become GM they will generally be limited to one per scene as well.

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41 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

 

Yes -- I originally was on the fence about the augment rules because they seemed harsh in some places... but a more careful review of the rules shows that none of the 3 augment mechanics (skills, Runes, Passions) work the same! Argh! I really don't like that we need to internalize many more things than we should (it's a general problem with RQG), but it does mean that things aren't maybe as bad @claycle's players think?

As @PhilHibbs says, it's not all bad:

  • Augmenting with a skill is a simple, one-roll only, modifier on the scale of +50/+30/+20/-20/-50. Fire and forget.
    • The rules say that you can augment anything with anything using these rules, but in practice I think this rule only applies to a skill augmenting something else... (unless you want to add even more complexity at the table where a player has to clearly specify if they are "augmenting" with a Rune or "getting inspired" by a Rune, because the two are different, but that just seems tedious to me).
  • Runic inspiration, in theory, augments one ability only (pick a skill or a stat or something) with +50/+30/+20 for the whole scene (instead of just for one roll). However, on a failure, the -20 only applies to further rolls on that Rune! Only on a fumble do really bad things happen.
    • A normal failure is only annoying if you wanted to cast Rune magic using that Rune a bit later in the same scene. So it's pretty safe in the end, I think. Cast your Rune Magic buffs first before getting inspired by that Rune if you must.
    • In practice, because the positive bonuses last the whole scene, and many things could happen during the scene, I tend to be generous and say that the successful Runic Inspiration affects everything that the Rune can affect. So with a successful Darkness Inspiration, I give both bonuses to smashing things with a mace, and to stealth rolls, instead of (per RAW) only a specific ability (for example, by RAW, if the player used Runic Inspiration to augment a hammer skill, it doesn't work if they later swing a club or mace because those are different skills).
  • Passions also augment one given ability (pick a skill or stat or something) with +50/+30/+20 to that ability for the duration of the scene. Unlike Runes, the penalty however applies to all rolls in the scene! It's -10 only: definitely annoying but not discouraging, IMHO. Thankfully, Passions tend to be quite high anyway.
    • Just like Runic Inspiration, I tend to be more generous than RAW here. If the Passion is "Love (family)" and you're trying to protect a loved one, I'll give bonuses to whatever action directly fulfills that goal (hiding, running, convincing someone to not attack, etc.). If the Passion is "Hate (trolls)" and some trolls attack you, I give the bonus to whatever will hurt the trolls (both slashing with a sword or bashing with a shield). Per RAW, only one ability would get the bonus.

So in order of risk/reward, I would say that, from best to less good, we have: Runic Inspiration, skill augments, Passions.  I also think that my small modifications make augments/inspirations a bit more advantageous to use.

This is where it looks to me like Passions need the most care from the GM, as in : make sure they go up every couple adventures if appropriate, and if the player wants to. It feel a lot safer to roll under a >75% Passion than a 60% Passion that hasn't moved since character creation. Remember, for instance, that the Loyalty Passion is a two-way street: when you do stuff for your clan or tribe, that Passion will probably go up. You can interpret it as the character becoming increasingly loyal to the people they serve, but you can also interpret it as these people being increasing indebted to the character, because this kind of Passion is also what you use to get support from your community! So it makes sense to augment it. It's kinda weird, at least at first, that it works both ways like this, but it kind of makes sense after a while.

On an anecdotal level, though, most players I've played with enjoy rolling Passions and screaming "death to the Lunars!" or something equally appropriate. It gets them pumped up as much as it gets their character pumped up. Of course, sometimes it's quickly followed by an "oh shit...", but they still enjoy the mechanic's intent.

Yeah, I hadn't realized before this thread that the rule wasn't the "one-roll only, modifier on the scale of +50/+30/+20/-20/-50. Fire and forget.", but that there were differencies in normal failures.

Edited by Brootse
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15 hours ago, claycle said:

"Has anyone else experienced this: players so aware of the meta they won't risk using their Runes or Passions even if it could help them?

Your players have meta-ed themselves out of a huge advantage.  If you succeed in your passion it is a free spell.  Your chance of success is normally far higher than your chance of failure, and the sooner you reach 100% you won't really fail anymore.  Are they really so very scared of an occasional -10% penalty?  Do they fumble 90% of the time?

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15 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Your players have meta-ed themselves out of a huge advantage.  If you succeed in your passion it is a free spell.  Your chance of success is normally far higher than your chance of failure, and the sooner you reach 100% you won't really fail anymore.  Are they really so very scared of an occasional -10% penalty?  Do they fumble 90% of the time?

I will quote a response from a player in response to your last question:

We fumble a lot on roll 20, I would say. The fumbles are pretty bad. It is definitely mathematically advantageous, but it is psychologically very difficult.
A fumbled passion basically takes you out of the combat. A fumbled rune kind of jacks your magic over for a while and arguably affects a class of skills and weapons if you have the rune affect all relevant skills and not just the one used for the attempt.

😅

So, yes, the threat of the disability from a fumble is quite enough to deter them from invoking their Passions, even if it is all perception and not factually accurate (ie, they fumble a lot).

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2 minutes ago, claycle said:

I will quote a response from a player in response to your last question:

We fumble a lot on roll 20, I would say. The fumbles are pretty bad. It is definitely mathematically advantageous, but it is psychologically very difficult.
A fumbled passion basically takes you out of the combat. A fumbled rune kind of jacks your magic over for a while and arguably affects a class of skills and weapons if you have the rune affect all relevant skills and not just the one used for the attempt.

😅

So, yes, the threat of the disability from a fumble is quite enough to deter them from invoking their Passions, even if it is all perception and not factually accurate (ie, they fumble a lot).

They should propitiate the Machine God.

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