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Gloranthan Magic in Questworlds


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Here's some notes I made for how I'd probably handle Gloranthan magic in Questworlds, attempting to hybridize HQG's magic with how RQG treats it and some things Ian has mentioned. They're rather incomplete, and I get that several people prefer HQG's systems already, but I just wanted to get my thoughts out here and maybe start some discussion on how other people have/will be handling Gloranthan games under the new rules, if they're not just using HQG still.

General Magic

  • Adulthood initiation serves to awaken your dominant rune affinities. For most people this is only one, the elemental rune of their pantheon’s head deity, but a starting player character can have up to three rune affinities at the beginning of play. These can be used to augment other abilities, but cannot be used as direct magical abilities initially. Also act as personality abilities or flaws if they are acted against.
  • More rune affinities can be gained in play, especially through heroquests.
  • Continuing to act against a rune will lead to a crisis where you either lose the affinity entirely or it completely dominates your character, making it impossible to act against it for a long while.
  • Magic is tiring. Excessive use of spells will start to inflict penalties, and eventually you may become entirely drained unless you can get a good long rest, preferably a night’s sleep. Purposefully using more energy than necessary can improve the effect of a spell, along with spending extra time or having help.
  • Shamans and rune masters may lose some or all of their magical and temporal power if they fail to uphold their responsibilities. Sorcerers may lose temporal power if they don’t have their superior’s approval, but their personal magical power remains.

Spirit Magic

  • Spells are spirit abilities either stolen or given in return for power. Standalone unless you’re a shaman, who can hang them off the spirit rune as breakouts. Can be used directly if appropriate.
  • Low power; average 50 meters, 2 minutes, single target. Limited flexibility, a single spell’s parameters can’t be changed that much, though the strength can be increased some. Multiple characters cannot combine effort for spirit magic, but spirits can help.
  • Characters with the spirit rune qualify to become shamans. They can use their rune to view and communicate with spirits as if they were normal characters, and can take spirit magic spells as breakouts from the spirit rune.
  • Bound spirits are treated as retainer relationships. Allied spirits and fetches are treated as sidekicks. Shamans can have contacts, allies, and even patrons among spirits.

Rune Magic

  • Spells are recreations of mythic deeds of the god backed by the god’s power in return for sacrifice. Breakouts from appropriate runes. Can always be used directly. Rune masters can use the runes they share with their god as direct abilities without relying on breakouts.
  • Powerful; average 160 meters, 15 minutes, size of a small room. A little more flexibility than spirit magic, and multiple magicians can combine efforts to get off much more powerful effects. Very taxing to cast, only a little less so for rune masters.
  • Rune affinity can serve as relationship ability with god. Relationship to cult is a separate ability.
  • High ranking members of a cult are rune masters, who get more attention from their god. Can use runes directly, gain an allied spirit, and wield more power in cult affairs.
  • Gods expect sacrifice in return for their power. Neglecting sacrifice can lead to them withdrawing favor. Excessive sacrifice can lead to great benefits. More important worshipers are expected to sacrifice more.

Sorcery

  • Spells are complex mental exercises that modify and exploit natural laws through force of will. Grouped into grimoires of related spells, which are treated as breakouts from the law rune. Spells can be used directly if appropriate. Only characters with the law rune can learn sorcery.
  • A little weaker than spirit magic; average 10 meters, 5 minutes, single target. Incredibly flexible at the cost of being very slow and costly. Multiple sorcerers can easily combine effort.
  • Characters with the law rune qualify to become sorcerers. The rune itself can’t be used for anything directly, but grimoires are learned as breakouts from it.
  • Non-sorcerers can assist sorcerers through certain ritual procedures.
Edited by Richard S.
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I do it a lot simpler, as I prefer simpler magic in HeroQuest/QuestWorlds.

Generally, all spells are Breakouts. Runespells might be Breakouts of a Rune or of a Cult Keyword; spirit Magic spells are Breakouts of a Tradition, a Shaman Keyword or a Cultural Keyword; Sorcery spells are Breakouts of Grimoires, Religious Keywords or Background Keywords.

Some spells might be standalone abilities, but are better off as Breakouts. standalone Abilities, for me, are just Keywords without Breakouts. If a standalone spell gets a couple of Breakouts then it becomes a keyword with those Breakouts as spells, anyway.

All spells are equal. I don't have any silly rules about this type of spell is only used as an augment, that kind of spell is an effect or that kind of thing. As spells are Breakouts, they can be used as direct adds to the keyword, which can be used as an augment, but I could use Teleport to move to another location without it doing anything else, similarly I could use the Face of Lanbril Breakout of my Lanbril keyword to pass some guards.

And that is about it for me.  

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6 hours ago, soltakss said:

I do it a lot simpler, as I prefer simpler magic in HeroQuest/QuestWorlds.

Generally, all spells are Breakouts. Runespells might be Breakouts of a Rune or of a Cult Keyword; spirit Magic spells are Breakouts of a Tradition, a Shaman Keyword or a Cultural Keyword; Sorcery spells are Breakouts of Grimoires, Religious Keywords or Background Keywords.

Some spells might be standalone abilities, but are better off as Breakouts. standalone Abilities, for me, are just Keywords without Breakouts. If a standalone spell gets a couple of Breakouts then it becomes a keyword with those Breakouts as spells, anyway.

All spells are equal. I don't have any silly rules about this type of spell is only used as an augment, that kind of spell is an effect or that kind of thing. As spells are Breakouts, they can be used as direct adds to the keyword, which can be used as an augment, but I could use Teleport to move to another location without it doing anything else, similarly I could use the Face of Lanbril Breakout of my Lanbril keyword to pass some guards.

And that is about it for me.  

 

This is how I would use it as well. HQ has traditionally been way to crunchy and cumbersome, and I have seen @soltakss talk about this way a long time now that I have started to imagine it as the sensible way to do things. If there are every any official rules published, they are probably being ignored in favour of this simple and gameable system.

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On 4/4/2021 at 3:34 PM, Richard S. said:

some discussion on how other people have/will be handling Gloranthan games under the new rules, if they're not just using HQG still.

I'm still using HQG and have no immediate plans to change.

15 hours ago, soltakss said:

I do it a lot simpler, as I prefer simpler magic in HeroQuest/QuestWorlds.

Generally, all spells are Breakouts. Runespells might be Breakouts of a Rune or of a Cult Keyword; spirit Magic spells are Breakouts of a Tradition, a Shaman Keyword or a Cultural Keyword; Sorcery spells are Breakouts of Grimoires, Religious Keywords or Background Keywords.

Some spells might be standalone abilities, but are better off as Breakouts. standalone Abilities, for me, are just Keywords without Breakouts. If a standalone spell gets a couple of Breakouts then it becomes a keyword with those Breakouts as spells, anyway.

All spells are equal.

Pretty much this for me as well.

Sometimes a player uses a Rune as an augment, which may equate with an impromptu "spell" or perhaps is similar to an RQG Runic inspiration.  Doesn't particularly matter as long as it's relevant to what they are trying to do.

Otherwise, as @soltakss notes, spells are breakouts.  There are breakout abilities from Runes, from Traditions, and from Grimoires.  (I don't usually have spells as breakouts from occupational or cultural keywords, but I wouldn't necessarily reject it.)  I do have situations where spells are standalone abilities - usually "charms" or some other unusual ability (often gained while on a heroquest).

And that's pretty much it. 

They are all used the same as any other ability in contests.

Time, distance, etc. are all pretty much irrelevant concepts for me in HQG. 

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Yeah, I feel like adding distances and fatigue mechanics and whatnot isn't really playing to the strengths that made me attracted to HeroQuest in the first place, which is that it's primarily a narrative-first experience that decides whether or not you can do something largely by how narratively appropriate it would be, rather than trying to simulate the gritty details of your character's trials and travails in Glorantha like RuneQuest. Not to say that trying to find your own preferred middle ground between the two is at all a bad idea, but I like the loose and flexible approach to magic where the Narrator decides if they'll allow you to try something (possibly at a penalty) based on whether it makes narrative sense for you to be able to do it and/or would be appropriately cinematic.

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On 4/7/2021 at 3:43 AM, Leingod said:

Yeah, I feel like adding distances and fatigue mechanics and whatnot isn't really playing to the strengths that made me attracted to HeroQuest in the first place

I simply treat those as a penalty to rolls, depending on the level of fatigue. Simply being a bit tired doesn't matter. So, a penalty of -5, -10 or even -20 might apply. same applies to starvation, thirst, being ill and so on.

 

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I feel like I should probably expand on a few things in my original post. Starting with the "distance, time, target" stuff, all that's supposed to be is general guidelines for determining what's credible for a spell to do. It's just an in-world thing to consider for the credibility test, not a new mechanic. I'm not trying to add a whole new complex subsystem for spell parameters and magic power and stuff like that, just trying to put in some boundaries for effects for the sake of players who don't feel comfortable creating magical abilities with few to no guidelines or understanding of what they should be able to do. Old hands have been going at this for ages, and can easily adjudicate when or where something magical makes sense, but people jumping in from Runequest or just total new players are extremely out of their depth in Questworlds, in my experience.

The stuff I said about fatigue is, similarly, just a credibility test thing. If your character has been using a lot of magic recently, or they're just exhausted, it's not credible for them to continue casting magic as easily as they have been. They'll take a penalty or, if the GM rules they're even worse off than that, be unable to use spells at all.

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21 hours ago, Richard S. said:

I'm not trying to add a whole new complex subsystem for spell parameters and magic power and stuff like that, just trying to put in some boundaries for effects for the sake of players who don't feel comfortable creating magical abilities with few to no guidelines or understanding of what they should be able to do.

I just keep it really simple. Everything on the character sheet is treated the same. So a Keyword is a Keyword is a Keyword, a Breakout is a Breakout is a Breakout. 

There is no difference, to me, in having a Keyword of Spirit Magic with a Breakout of Bladesharp or a Keyword of Humakt with a Breakout of Truesword. both work in exactly the same way, in my games.

Sure, that might confuse people used to "But, Truesword is better than Bladesharp", but that doesn't matter to me.

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On 4/10/2021 at 6:16 AM, Richard S. said:

Starting with the "distance, time, target" stuff, all that's supposed to be is general guidelines for determining what's credible for a spell to do.

I found that I changed the presentation approach in how situations are framed.  In RQG I might have said "You're approaching a chasm.  It's about 3 meters wide.  What do you want to do?"  Whereas in HQG, I might say, "You're approaching a chasm.  It's wide, and looks to be very difficult to cross."

In the former, distance and time matter because those are explicit difficulties based on measurements.  In the latter, the degree of difficulty (which I expressed as "very difficult", aka perhaps 7W) matters because that is what you must overcome.

If you say "I want to call down a spear of fire from the sun", we'll look at the characters Runes (e.g. Fire), whether initiated into Yelm (e.g. assume yes for this case), and then I'd consider where they are (e.g. in DH on a sunny day vs. the Necropolis in Esrolia).  In DH, maybe it's just a Hard difficulty for the initiate.  In Esrolia, it may be extremely difficult, though not impossible.  But I look at it in a very relative manner to assess credibility for a given case. 

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