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Runequest and the bar of entry


Adaras

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Hi everyone.

I picked up RuneQuest Last year and really love the setting and the book, been reading through it and enjoying the richness of the setting and the flavour of the game.

I do have one criticism of the game and it might sound silly for more seasoned players of the game. But I am speaking merely as a new comer to the setting.

The game feels exceptionally hard to get into, I dont feel you can pick up the corebook and start playing it right away. While there are a lovely host of premade characters, there are no pre made basic npcs (Like Bandits, Lunar soldiers Etc) At the same time you dont have a game master section in the book that gives information and suggestions on how to run the game. 

Now I know there is probably a wide breath and wealth of things to pick up from previous editions and a enormous host of player created content. But if I went into a shop and found the book and bought it I wouldnt be able to play with it easily. 

It makes me rather sad that such a lovely setting presents such a (in my view) massive barrier to newcomers. Even worse for the fact that youd have to buy the bestiary to get any monster and beast stats, and the Game masters guide is far out in the future. 

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Sorry to hear it; that's an understandable first reaction. If you pick up just one piece of community content, make it Six Seasons in Sartar, by Andrew Logan Montgomery. The tricks he teaches you about statting-up NPCs (and, indeed, why you don't usually need to bother) will be a life-saver.

Here's one way I think of it. The adventurers (player characters) in your RuneQuest campaign are the heroes and protagonists. The rules support them, and have all sorts of fiddly options and balances and tweaks so they will feel lived-in and fully-rounded. Non-player opponents do not need or deserve or benefit from that much attention. It's like the difference between player toons and NPC goons in a MMO: you're customising your own build and clicking a carefully-timed rotation of abilities, they've probably got one or  two things they alternate between (standard attack, special attack).

So for NPCs you're going to fight, you probably need to know their best skill & weapon rating (one number for all), their total hit points and hit points per location, their armour (same value on all hit locations unless you're feeling fancy), weapon damage plus damage bonus and strike rank, and the spells they're most likely to use (but not too many: why make work for yourself?). And usually that's it.

For NPCs you're not going to fight? Typical skill rating, distinctive spells. And you're done.

The belief that every NPC has to be "simulated" in as much detail as if they were a player character is a horribly common fallacy, and people who succumb to it have less fun playing RuneQuest than the folk who've got past that barrier. 

(The Game Master Screen pack includes generic statblocks for "militia" (grunt warriors) and "royal bodyguards" (elite warriors), if you decide you really need them; but believe me, you don't)

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48 minutes ago, Adaras said:

It makes me rather sad that such a lovely setting presents such a (in my view) massive barrier to newcomers. Even worse for the fact that youd have to buy the bestiary to get any monster and beast stats, and the Game masters guide is far out in the future. 

What kind of information would you like to see in a game master section?

Read my Runeblog about RuneQuest and Glorantha at: http://elruneblog.blogspot.com.es/

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On 5/19/2021 at 5:46 AM, Adaras said:

The game feels exceptionally hard to get into, I dont feel you can pick up the corebook and start playing it right away. While there are a lovely host of premade characters, there are no pre made basic npcs (Like Bandits, Lunar soldiers Etc) At the same time you dont have a game master section in the book that gives information and suggestions on how to run the game. 

 

There is a wonderful community content book by Jon Hunter that might have what you need called Rubble Runners. The Dregs of Clearwine by the Beer with Teeth crew, and Austin Conrad’s The Heortlings of Sartar round this out. @Nick Brooke, have you something like this for the Lunars? There might be others I am missing, but this is a good start!

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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10 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

There is a wonderful community content book by Jon Hunter that might have what you need called Rubble RunnerThe Dregs of Clearwine by the Beer with Teeth crew, and Austin Conrad’s The Heortlings of Sartar rounds this out. @Nick Brooke, have you something like this for the Lunars? There might be others I am missing but this is a good start!

No. I'm not particularly interested in producing RuneQuest stats. My first scenario only has three statblocks; I playtested it without bothering to write up two of them, and the third was honestly just an exercise to see if my rules of thumb still work in RQG (which they do).

There's one statblock for a pretty typical Lunar Provincial soldier (infantry or cavalry) in The Duel at Dangerford, and one* statblock for a typical Lunar Citizen inhabiting our Insula in Glamour in Citizens of the Lunar Empire. But let me stress that the skill percentages, spells and abilities you give your players' supporting cast should always be calibrated to their adventurers' skills. So while my "typical soldier" has 70% attack, if that'd overpower or underwhelm your adventuring party, you have my absolute blessing to move it up or down the scale. Fine-tune armour ratings, damage bonuses, total hit points (and hit points per location) etc. in exactly the same way. You are the game master, trying to present your players with an appropriate challenge; if that means every NPC needs a store of magic points and half a dozen or more Rune points to stand a chance, hand them out like candy. It will make for a better game.

* I lied, there's two, we did a different statblock for the students at the Lunar College of Magic. My bad.

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Thank you all for your comments.

The problem is that the Book doesnt speak of these things, it doesnt suggest to you how to run the campaign or combat. 

It feels off that a new comer will have to go to community resources (and pay extra money) to help them make the game runable. 

Like I feel its amazing that there is such a massive community out there, but the game doesnt really help you to introduce you to the game. 

It feels like a flaw if a game "requires" you to actually to dive into community content for knowledge that aught to be in the main book. 

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Did we help you? Good. Did we charge you money? No. That's what this community is good for. We give you stuff that's not in the books.

You don't need to buy community content. But if you want it, it exists, and we're pointing you towards the good stuff. The heart of my advice is that you should learn not to need detailed statblocks, rather than obsessing over them. Your players don't get to audit your bad guys' stats! And Drew's presentation in Six Seasons has a neat shorthand way of helping you do exactly that.

So: a fairly lame or non-combatant opponent has 10-12 hit points, 3/4/5 per location (arms/rest/chest), weak armour (1-2 point leather?) and no damage bonus. Their skills will be lower than your adventurers'.

An average opponent has 13-15 hit points, 4/5/6 per location, better armour (3 or 4 point linen and scale?) and a +1D4 bonus. Similar skills to your adventurers.

A tough opponent has 16-18 hit points, 5/6/7 per location, really good armour (5 point chain or 6 point plate?), and a +1D6 bonus. Better skills than your adventurers.

Job done. Those are all the generic bandit, guard, soldier statblocks you will ever need. Season with appropriate offensive and defensive magic (Bladesharp or similar weapon enhancement and Protection or Shimmer; three distinctive Rune spells) and they are good to go.

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6 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

Did we help you? Good. Did we charge you money? No. That's what this community is good for. We give you stuff that's not in the books.

You don't need to buy community content. But if you want it, it exists, and we're pointing you towards the good stuff. The heart of my advice is that you should learn not to need detailed statblocks, rather than obsessing over them. Your players don't get to audit your bad guys' stats! And Drew's presentation in Six Seasons has a neat shorthand way of helping you do exactly that.

So: a fairly lame or non-combatant opponent has 10-12 hit points, 3/4/5 per location (arms/rest/chest), weak armour (1-2 point leather?) and no damage bonus. Their skills will be lower than your adventurers'.

An average opponent has 13-15 hit points, 4/5/6 per location, better armour (3 or 4 point linen and scale?) and a +1D4 bonus. Similar skills to your adventurers.

A tough opponent has 16-18 hit points, 5/6/7 per location, really good armour (5 point chain or 6 point plate?), and a +1D6 bonus. Better skills than your adventurers.

Job done. Those are all the generic bandit, guard, soldier statblocks you will ever need. Season with appropriate offensive and defensive magic (Bladesharp or similar weapon enhancement and Protection or Shimmer; three distinctive Rune spells) and they are good to go.

Sorry did not intent to sound ungrateful.

I merely think that the corebook doesnt give a new player/storyteller a very good frame of reference.

But again thank you kindly for the input.

I really like this game and hope to be able to run it some day.

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34 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

There is a wonderful community content book by Jon Hunter that might have what you need called Rubble Runners. The Dregs of Clearwine by the Beer with Teeth crew, and Austin Conrad’s The Heortlings of Sartar rounds this out. @Nick Brooke, have you something like this for the Lunars? There might be others I am missing but this is a good start!

I've not seen any of these except the Dregs of Clearwine, so I cannot comment whether Rubble Runners or Heortlings of Sartar are appropriate benchmarks that are in line with published material. But Nick's approach is spot on for most NPCs. Don't make unnecessary work for yourself.

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24 minutes ago, Adaras said:

Thank you all for your comments.

The problem is that the Book doesnt speak of these things, it doesnt suggest to you how to run the campaign or combat. 

It feels off that a new comer will have to go to community resources (and pay extra money) to help them make the game runable. 

Like I feel its amazing that there is such a massive community out there, but the game doesnt really help you to introduce you to the game. 

It feels like a flaw if a game "requires" you to actually to dive into community content for knowledge that aught to be in the main book. 

The information is in the GM Pack. That's why there are all those NPCs present.

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2 minutes ago, Jeff said:

The information is in the GM Pack. That's why there are all those NPCs present.

Thank you kindly Jeff 🙂

I do hope I have not sounded overly childish, I am merely used to books that dedicate space in the corebook to give some aid to the GM/storyteller.

I really really look forward to game masters book. 

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My personal view is that the GM Pack has too many statblocks for fairly undistinguished non-combatants (e.g. survivors of a massacre; useless shepherds; village whores), and if you think you need to detail every NPC in your game the way its Adventure Book does, you are taking a wrong turn. The useful statblocks (generic warriors, tribal leaders and priests, actually interesting opponents) are great, though!

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Just now, Nick Brooke said:

My personal view is that the GM Pack has too many statblocks for fairly undistinguished non-combatants (e.g. survivors of a massacre; useless shepherds; village whores), and if you think you need to detail every NPC in your game the way its Adventure Book does, you are taking a wrong turn. The useful statblocks (generic warriors, tribal leaders and priests, actually interesting opponents) are great, though!

Benchmarks is what they are. With more detail than you need, but I figured the first GM resource ought to have extra.

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I am totally with Nick (and Jeff and Drew), with one exception: Magic

YES, you only need stats for mundane things as a benchmark (as Jeff called it), but IMHO you should write down which spells an NPC has (if it is likely that he will use any). 

It makes a huge difference if the opposing fighter has Bladesharp, Heal or Pretection. 
I don´t like to make up these on the spot, because for me it feels like i betray the players to give NPCs these spells after i know what the players have decided how to interact with them. I, as the GM, also want to be surprised by the actions of the PCs or the outcome of their actions wth the NPCs. And it seems to me that i can be buffed easier by the outcome of the conflict PC vs NPC if i don´t mess around with NPC stats during gameplay, but stick to what stats i prepared for the NPC beforehand. 

But every GM has a diffent style of preparing for a game, and mine is not superior to that of anyone else, it´s just the way i MYSELF do it. 

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24 minutes ago, AndreJarosch said:

I am totally with Nick (and Jeff and Drew), with one exception: Magic

Like Nick, I typically give most of the NPCs the same spells, melee oriented, like Protection/Bladesharp etc.  Perhaps "even numbers have Prot, odd have Bladesharp".  But a couple of NPCs are "special spellcasters" who hang back and cast more interesting spells: Befuddle, Dismiss Magic, Dullblade, Summon Big Nasty, etc.  These I'm willing to "fudge", adding powers to make the encounter more interesting, or reducing if the encounter has become too interesting.

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Stat blocks are great as samples of what can be made and the unusual. I love making stat blocks for rarely played cults to explore the range of abilities. For the mundane, I use the average listed in the Bestiary or wing it by just assigning a certain competency level for core skills like 50s, 70s and so one

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2 minutes ago, Godlearner said:

Stat blocks are great as samples of what can be made and the unusual. I love making stat blocks for rarely played cults to explore the range of abilities. For the mundane, I use the average listed in the Bestiary or wing it by just assigning a certain competency level for core skills like 50s, 70s and so one

Now having said that, I am not exactly sure just how many stat blocks I did for the Temple of Heads supplement, lets just say it was a bunch, but most are very unique.  

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7 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Like Nick, I typically give most of the NPCs the same spells, melee oriented, like Protection/Bladesharp etc.  Perhaps "even numbers have Prot, odd have Bladesharp".  But a couple of NPCs are "special spellcasters" who hang back and cast more interesting spells: Befuddle, Dismiss Magic, Dullblade, Summon Big Nasty, etc.  These I'm willing to "fudge", adding powers to make the encounter more interesting, or reducing if the encounter has become too interesting.

Which is totally fine. I don't know why people feel that they need to make more work for themselves than this.

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18 minutes ago, Jeff said:

I don't know why people feel that they need to make more work for themselves than this.

It's not a question of need, at least not for me. It's more a question of its a new game for me and I want to know how to do it best.

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3 hours ago, Adaras said:

At the same time you dont have a game master section in the book that gives information and suggestions on how to run the game. 

Now I know there is probably a wide breath and wealth of things to pick up from previous editions and a enormous host of player created content. But if I went into a shop and found the book and bought it I wouldnt be able to play with it easily. 

It makes me rather sad that such a lovely setting presents such a (in my view) massive barrier to newcomers. Even worse for the fact that youd have to buy the bestiary to get any monster and beast stats, and the Game masters guide is far out in the future. 

The upcoming RQG Starter Set should help to cover these aspects with a basic setting, solo adventure, and several introductory scenarios. 

Interestingly, if you go way back to the old RQ2 book, there wasn't really a GM reference either, but tucked away in one of the back appendices were some "Referee Notes".  Wasn't a long section, but did provide new GM's some basic pointers for getting them started.

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

Which is totally fine. I don't know why people feel that they need to make more work for themselves than this.

It's often a response to a previous encounter to "keep things fresh".  For example, very simple case, if the PCs won a couple of encounters by Befuddling all the bad guys, it may be time to add some Dispel Magic or Countermagic to the opposition.

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45 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

It's often a response to a previous encounter to "keep things fresh".  For example, very simple case, if the PCs won a couple of encounters by Befuddling all the bad guys, it may be time to add some Dispel Magic or Countermagic to the opposition.

Sure - just add that to your notes for the NPC!

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2 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Like Nick, I typically give most of the NPCs the same spells, melee oriented, like Protection/Bladesharp etc.  Perhaps "even numbers have Prot, odd have Bladesharp".  But a couple of NPCs are "special spellcasters" who hang back and cast more interesting spells: Befuddle, Dismiss Magic, Dullblade, Summon Big Nasty, etc.  These I'm willing to "fudge", adding powers to make the encounter more interesting, or reducing if the encounter has become too interesting.

That's a good way to do it. Before I came back to RuneQuest I spent a while running 13th Age (not in Glorantha), and became very envious of the way different monster attacks are triggered by the D20 attack roll, so that the GM isn't necessarily making everyone else's tactical decisions and managing their resources (I suppose in Glorantha that'd be magic points and Rune points). But pace Andre, I stressed in both my posts that picking spells is the cherry on top of statting up an opponent, not an optional extra: look at a likely cult's Spirit Magic and Rune Magic lists and pick some fun stuff that will work well in your encounter.

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3 hours ago, Adaras said:

I do hope I have not sounded overly childish
 

At no point have you sounded childish. Not in the slightest. Lots of games provide what you were asking about, so it's a reasonable question (and about a subject that pops up from time to time on the forum). Thankfully, you're getting some good advice here (including some that I'll take as well, since RQG is the only edition of RQ I've ever picked up.) There're a lot of old-timers here who are deeply immersed in the game and setting and who'll have good insights and suggestions for ya. Most are pretty good humored about it too. Some may come across a little harsher and/or impatient in forum and Facebook posts than they probably would in person - trust that you're not being singled out. 

As for magic and bog standard NPC's (guards, bandits, etc.): I'd keep a few general ideas in mind. Everyone has some spirit magic, but not everyone is going to have combat-related magic. I assume that most of the spirit magic spells regular people have learned would have little to no impact on a brief encounter w/ PC's. Not everyone is a full initiate of a cult and so has access to rune magic. There's at least one thread on this topic in the forum. And most of those who do have access to rune magic, probably only have one spell (aside from the common ones?). So, I guess I'd recommend putting together a very abbreviated list of spirit magic and rune spells that would be of immediate concern in a potential combat or a social interaction. And then just assign them to NPCs as seems warranted in the moment and what is consistent with those NPCs' roles and rough backgrounds - e.g., the bandits who are desperate, impoverished farmers might not have any combat-related spells, while ones who are former soldiers probably have a bunch.)   

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