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Becoming a Full Shaman


lordabdul

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I was recently looking at the mechanics of how one becomes a full shaman (RQG p354) and I had a few questions and general comments.

1. FAILURE POINTS

The possible failure points, per RAW, are:

  • Whether the applicant is worthy in the first place, which is determined by a (POW+CHA)/2*5. Unless you have a very "by the book" kinda GM, there's a good chance this is roleplayed instead.
  • Whether the applicant can Discorporate and follow the Horned Man. I suppose that could happen with a fumble on a Discorporate spell cast if, somehow, the applicant doesn't have any Rune Points left and doesn't have a backup plan like a stash of hazia. I assume that any remotely MGF/narratively inclined GM would just give an automatic success here.

So really, unless you have a very old-school / rules-lawyer GM, there is no failure possible as soon as the shaman mentor considers the PC worthy, is that correct?

2. MOVING PARTS

It seems like the mechanical point of the shamanic initiation (separate from the narrative point of having a super cool mini-adventure to play) is how good is your shaman gonna be?

The moving parts are:

  • Having done enough POW hoarding in the previous seasons and years, so that you have more POW to sacrifice during Stage Two, which gives you a stronger fetch.
    • Is there any interesting munchkinery to do here to get lots of POW quickly?
  • Doing enough ritual practices for the "Awaken Fetch" roll (which you can't really "fail", in the sense that a failure or fumble just makes your fetch weak, but you still get a fetch).
    • Are these ritual practices done in the Cave inside the Spirit World, or done in advance, before Discorporation?
      • If it's done in the Cave, I would assume it would be limited to how long the applicant can stay Discorporate, which means they need to spend Rune Points on some Extension spell to be able to do longer ritual practices?
      • If it's done in advance, it could maybe open up a can of worm about what is considered "taking time away from the ritual practices".

3. MISCELLANEOUS

Stage One states that the shaman remains in a trance for 1D6+1 days, but that this should be "determined secretly by the gamemaster". What's the point of having this be determined secretly, as opposed to rolling in the open? Is the point here to play the entire initiation, and then have the PC come back to the rest of the party, and have the surprise of "hey dude you've been gone for almost a week, we thought you were dead!" ?

Thanks!

Edited by lordabdul
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We just ran this for a PC, and I agree that there are really no places to "fail" once the mentor approves.  And it's a harsh GM who will hold a player to a failed roll.   It's just how good the fetch will be.

Our candidate also cast Charisma and Glamour for the fight with the Bad Man.  Not clear if those spells should be o.k. or last long enough.  As it turned out, the +30% to Spirit Combat never mattered.  Our candidate won 1 out of 4 rounds which seems vaguely reasonable.

One rules point: after giving up POW to the Fetch, most candidates will drop in their Magical skills (less category bonus from POW).  

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43 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

So really, unless you have a very old-school / rules-lawyer GM, there is no failure possible as soon as the shaman mentor considers the PC worthy, is that correct?

I have this coming up soon with my player's apprentice shaman.  He's having to seek out another shaman though to act as his guide to become a shaman, so I will likely have the worthiness check made.  If he fails, he will likely need to take on some taboo or geas of the shaman's discretion in order to proceed.

 

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On 6/22/2021 at 7:34 PM, lordabdul said:

1. FAILURE POINTS

The possible failure points, per RAW, are:

  • Whether the applicant is worthy in the first place, which is determined by a (POW+CHA)/2*5. Unless you have a very "by the book" kinda GM, there's a good chance this is roleplayed instead.
  • Whether the applicant can Discorporate and follow the Horned Man. I suppose that could happen with a fumble on a Discorporate spell cast if, somehow, the applicant doesn't have any Rune Points left and doesn't have a backup plan like a stash of hazia. I assume that any remotely MGF/narratively inclined GM would just give an automatic success here.

So really, unless you have a very old-school / rules-lawyer GM, there is no failure possible as soon as the shaman mentor considers the PC worthy, is that correct?

I m not sure your two points are the "true" failure"

Somewhere when the GM (oups the apprentice's guide) decides that the pc is able to become a shaman *, the success of this transformation is the ratio taboo / ability.

You can fail your POW+CHA (I don't play this roll as a GM, if it is time, it is time) and discorporate **, that is not too bad, you can redo it maybe in some seasons, maybe the GM doesn't care and the process continue, ...

but once you get the taboos that is done, you cannot go back : you are a shaman.

the shaman who awakes a poor fetch (CHA 1D6) really fumbled when the one who awakes a big one (24CHA + 12POW + what the apprentice sacrifices) is definitly better.

the shaman who succeeds 10 rounds against the bad man  with no failure critically succeed, the shaman who failed 6 rounds against the bad man with no success, not.

and what about the apprentice shaman who wins the spirit combat against the bad man (==> 0 magic point) ?

that is the difference between a good hunter***  shaman and a bad shaman

 

 

* for me that implies the GM and the player agreed how it will be played, what will be the rolls, etc. I agree with your conclusion about old-school / rules lawyer but eacg table plays on its way

** it can be the guide who cast the discorporate, or the full ceremony implies an automatic discorporation, I don't ask any roll there too, I prefer to say if as a shaman you want to have apprentice and guide them to become shaman, you must learn the discorporate spell)

*** french joke (if you are older than 30 I think)

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On 6/22/2021 at 6:34 PM, lordabdul said:

The possible failure points, per RAW, are:

  • Whether the applicant is worthy in the first place, which is determined by a (POW+CHA)/2*5. Unless you have a very "by the book" kinda GM, there's a good chance this is roleplayed instead.

Here you can also augment. Loyalty (mentor), (clan), (tribe), Orate would all be valid. You could also use one of the shamanic skills. 

Quote
  • Whether the applicant can Discorporate and follow the Horned Man. I suppose that could happen with a fumble on a Discorporate spell cast if, somehow, the applicant doesn't have any Rune Points left and doesn't have a backup plan like a stash of hazia. I assume that any remotely MGF/narratively inclined GM would just give an automatic success here.

The key here is that the Discorporation is automatic. They have learned to do it and that's part of the worthiness test. They no longer need spells or drugs, the problem is that now to return they must use their Spirit Dance skill. Spirit Dance is the critical initiation skill

Quote

So really, unless you have a very old-school / rules-lawyer GM, there is no failure possible as soon as the shaman mentor considers the PC worthy, is that correct?

Yes.

Quote

The moving parts are:

  • Having done enough POW hoarding in the previous seasons and years, so that you have more POW to sacrifice during Stage Two, which gives you a stronger fetch.
    • Is there any interesting munchkinery to do here to get lots of POW quickly?

Generally speaking, I advise starting with a POW of at least 15. I use this for NPCs, who take on average 5 years of apprenticeship before taking the test. The critical skill is Spirit Dance as this what gets you a powerful Fetch. You can do it after a year, and with a ritual bonus get your skill up to 105% (30+75). But what you really want is a special or critical. After 5 years apprenticeship you can have with a ritual bonus 150%, that a 30% chance of a special, etc. The sweet spot for me would be a POW of 20, giving half to the fetch, with a 150% spirit dance roll hoping to get a crit or special.

(note that there may be errors in this table) Starting values include those bonuses for Assistant shaman.

 

POW +1 per year

Increase chance

Average extra POW increase per year

Magic Category Bonus

Spirit Combat (50%)

Spirit Dance (10%)

Spirit Lore (20%)

Spirit Travel (10%)

 

 

(21-POW) x5%

out of 6 seasonal rolls

Based on 15-16 CHA

Training @ 15%/yr

Training @ 15%/yr

Training @ 15%/yr

Training @ 15%/yr

Year 0

15

30%

2 (30% of 6 = 1.8)

5%

55%

15%

25%

15%

Year 1

16

25%

2 (25% of 6 = 1.5)

5%

60%

30%

40%

30%

Year 2

17

20%

1 (20% of 6 = 1.2)

10%

75%

50%

60%

50%

Year 3

18

15%

1 (15% of 6 = 0.9)

10%

Exp.

65%

75%

65%

Year 4

19

10%

1 (10% of 6 = 0.6)

10%

Exp.

75%

80%

75%

Year 5

20

5%

0 (5% of 6 = 0.3)

10%

Exp.

Exp.

95%

Exp.

So it's possible with a starting POW of 15 to reach 18 in one year, followed by 20 in the second year, but spirit Dance will only be 50%.

Quote
  • Doing enough ritual practices for the "Awaken Fetch" roll (which you can't really "fail", in the sense that a failure or fumble just makes your fetch weak, but you still get a fetch).
    • Are these ritual practices done in the Cave inside the Spirit World, or done in advance, before Discorporation?

I'd suggest ritual practices be done before the ritual starts, preparation of a 4 weeks to season would be normal. With the ritual bonus applying to either the Spirit Dance or Spirit Combat roll.

Quote
    • If it's done in the Cave, I would assume it would be limited to how long the applicant can stay Discorporate, which means they need to spend Rune Points on some Extension spell to be able to do longer ritual practices?

There's no limit now as to how long they can stay Discorporate.

Quote
      • If it's done in advance, it could maybe open up a can of worm about what is considered "taking time away from the ritual practices".

The info is pretty clear on page 246:

Quote

Although the adventurer can eat and sleep during the time they are performing the ritual practices, they can do little else. If they take time away from their ritual practices to do something else (adventure, get sick, give birth, etc.), that time gets deducted from the actual time spent in ritual to the appropriate step on the Ritual Preparation table (round down), and likely reduces the bonus.

 

Quote

3. MISCELLANEOUS

Stage One states that the shaman remains in a trance for 1D6+1 days, but that this should be "determined secretly by the gamemaster". What's the point of having this be determined secretly, as opposed to rolling in the open? Is the point here to play the entire initiation, and then have the PC come back to the rest of the party, and have the surprise of "hey dude you've been gone for almost a week, we thought you were dead!" ?

This where the other player guarding the ritual get bored and you have a surprise broo attack. "How much longer is this going to take...", "Are they nearly there yet..."

 

Edited by David Scott
corrected starting values for spirit combat & travel
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8 hours ago, David Scott said:

I'd suggest ritual practices be done before the ritual starts, preparation of a 4 weeks to season would be normal.

It's not clear that doing the ritual that much beforehand works.  There's several other rolls and events and days of time in between.

If some Humakti said they will perform a 4 week ritual to boost "their next casting of Sever Spirit", I doubt any GM would allow that.

As for whether any PC would patiently wait 5 years to get their POW and Spirit Dance way up there for an extra 10% chance of a Special, your PCs are way more patient than us!

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck
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Thanks for the detailed answer @David Scott! Much appreciated.

9 hours ago, David Scott said:

The key here is that the Discorporation is automatic. They have learned to do it and that's part of the worthiness test. They no longer need spells or drugs, the problem is that now to return they must use their Spirit Dance skill. Spirit Dance is the critical initiation skill

Ah interesting... I thought they need their fetch to be a full shaman and get their discorporation ability.

Even if it wasn't automatic, I would probably MGF it out anyway, or have a "success at a cost" on a roll failure, like limited time to complete the trials, a penalty to a roll, or whatever.

9 hours ago, David Scott said:

Generally speaking, I advise starting with a POW of at least 15. [....]

Good stuff, thanks.

9 hours ago, David Scott said:

I'd suggest ritual practices be done before the ritual starts, preparation of a 4 weeks to season would be normal. With the ritual bonus applying to either the Spirit Dance or Spirit Combat roll.

Would you split the ritual preparations in two and apply 2 weeks of ritual preparation to each of those two skills? By RAW it doesn't look supported, but I could imagine that someone would prepare for different aspects of a ritual (Devotion, Dance, etc).

9 hours ago, David Scott said:

There's no limit now as to how long they can stay Discorporate.

The shamanic ability has the discorporation ability limited to 1D6 hours, no?

9 hours ago, David Scott said:

This where the other player guarding the ritual get bored and you have a surprise broo attack. "How much longer is this going to take...", "Are they nearly there yet..."

Oh nice, I understand... thanks!

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On 6/23/2021 at 3:34 AM, lordabdul said:

1. FAILURE POINTS

The possible failure points, per RAW, are:

  • Whether the applicant is worthy in the first place, which is determined by a (POW+CHA)/2*5. Unless you have a very "by the book" kinda GM, there's a good chance this is roleplayed instead.

I suspect that the failure point is when the Shaman is possessed by the Bad Man by losing the fight...  But wait... If you have high enough stats that won't happen, because it almost can't.  How did your Shaman mentor know that?

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3 hours ago, Darius West said:

I suspect that the failure point is when the Shaman is possessed by the Bad Man by losing the fight...  But wait... If you have high enough stats that won't happen, because it almost can't.  How did your Shaman mentor know that?

The Bad Man inflicts no damage in this special version of Spirit Combat.  Only taboos.

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8 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Ah interesting... I thought they need their fetch to be a full shaman and get their discorporation ability.

There's a thread all about this... Which I'm sure you participated in...

 

On 6/23/2021 at 1:34 AM, lordabdul said:

So really, unless you have a very old-school / rules-lawyer GM, there is no failure possible as soon as the shaman mentor considers the PC worthy, is that correct?

I would make the roll.

Not so much convincing the shaman teacher, but the tribe's spirits. So, the apprentice might be ready and capable, but the tribal spirits just think the apprentice isn't quite gel-ing with them yet.

 

17 hours ago, David Scott said:

With the ritual bonus applying to either the Spirit Dance or Spirit Combat roll.

Did I not read somewhere that it would apply to the whole thing, and any rolls associated with it? And not just one skill??

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On 6/26/2021 at 7:16 PM, Rodney Dangerduck said:

It's not clear that doing the ritual that much beforehand works.  There's several other rolls and events and days of time in between.

I'm basing this on real world shamanism where the preparation is at this kind of length. I have no problem with it being focused on Spirit Dance, it's the first roll of sequence. I would even suggest that the ritual preparation only ends at the first roll with the questions being the final part of the ritual, where the student has learnt a known cultural call and response. 

Quote

If some Humakti said they will perform a 4 week ritual to boost "their next casting of Sever Spirit", I doubt any GM would allow that.

If it was the next roll they had to make, I see no problem. This is an initiation ceremony, not a spell casting. Using magic skills as the focus of ritual practice is very different in my mind

Quote

As for whether any PC would patiently wait 5 years to get their POW and Spirit Dance way up there for an extra 10% chance of a Special, your PCs are way more patient than us!

Real world shaman's assistants may remain that for their whole lives, with no intent of becoming a shaman. I would suggest that an apprenticeship would normally be at least two years even for adventurers. Even then they should be adding their Step 7, Personal Skill Bonuses to their spirit dance.

Ultimately it will depend on how preparation you have done for your adventurers for this event and how you want it to run it.

Edited by David Scott
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14 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Ah interesting... I thought they need their fetch to be a full shaman and get their discorporation ability.

The fetch is the part of them present in spirit world. If you look at a comparison of how this works in real world shamanism:

Real world shamanism

RuneQuest Shamanism

Learn to journey to the spirit world.

Learn to discorporate

Meet a tutelary spirit

Take great spirit as a sponsor

Learn cultural spirit geography

Learn cultural spirit geography

Initiation - usually a form of dismemberment by something known to you, your spirit self broken into pieces and reassembled.

initiation - split your soul into a Fetch, meet bad man.

Learn not to get lost and return from the spirit world.

Learn spirit dance

We have the issue that in RQ a spell is needed, where RW shaman learn this a first skill. In RQ the initiation ceremony is them doing it without the spell. This is part of the shaman agreeing you are ready.

14 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Would you split the ritual preparations in two and apply 2 weeks of ritual preparation to each of those two skills? By RAW it doesn't look supported, but I could imagine that someone would prepare for different aspects of a ritual (Devotion, Dance, etc).

No. The rules are clear that it's one magic skill.

14 hours ago, lordabdul said:

The shamanic ability has the discorporation ability limited to 1D6 hours, no?

Yes, but it can be extended. See Extended Discorporation page 375.

Bear in mind that this is an initiation ceremony stage managed by the Horned man and the student's mentor. The rules are different. 

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On 6/27/2021 at 11:03 AM, Rodney Dangerduck said:

The Bad Man inflicts no damage in this special version of Spirit Combat.  Only taboos.

Some shamans are spontaneously initiated in their dreams.  Lacking the protection of a more experienced shaman, they may well cop more than just taboos.

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11 hours ago, Darius West said:

Some shamans are spontaneously initiated in their dreams.  Lacking the protection of a more experienced shaman, they may well cop more than just taboos.

What's your reference for this? I can only find in RQG:

Quote

Shamans are often awoken during childhood. The Horned Man whispers his knowledge into their sleeping ears and they are forever changed.

The idea here is that they are marked to become shaman, not that they are initiated then. 

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9 hours ago, David Scott said:

What's your reference for this? I can only find in RQG:

The idea here is that they are marked to become shaman, not that they are initiated then. 

I believe the info is in Arcane Lore, but it is certainly discussed elsewhere on the Glorantha forum if I remember correctly.  Obviously Horned Man was the first shaman, but other people can spontaneously become shamans too, if they run into the Bad Man and survive.  Of course they are then in trouble, as they are at the mercy of the spirits who can now see them.  You point out the quote:

"Shamans are often awoken during childhood. The Horned Man whispers his knowledge into their sleeping ears and they are forever changed."

The point is, that awakening during childhood is the spontaneous initiation I am discussing.  Horned Man sends the sleeper into the path of the Bad Man to be initiated if he thinks the world needs another shaman.  As to why he chooses particular people, well, that is likely the marking you are referring to.  Suitability in terms of high CHA and high POW is a pretty good guess at what Horned Man is looking for (at a guess).

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So the page 355 says it's a spirit combat with Bad Man, but gives only his POW and not his skill level. Nor can it be a roll by the resistance table because the chance would be minimal even with an apprentice POW 21.

What am i not getting here? 🤔

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34 minutes ago, Jokum said:

So the page 355 says it's a spirit combat with Bad Man, but gives only his POW and not his skill level. Nor can it be a roll by the resistance table because the chance would be minimal even with an apprentice POW 21.

What am i not getting here? 🤔

Somewhere is a clarification that the Bad Man is 165% at Spirit Combat.

The apprentice's skill will be reduced by 65%, and they are "supposed" to lose most of the rounds of combat.

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46 minutes ago, Jokum said:

So the page 355 says it's a spirit combat with Bad Man, but gives only his POW and not his skill level. Nor can it be a roll by the resistance table because the chance would be minimal even with an apprentice POW 21.

 

What am i not getting here? 🤔

The Well of Daliath will be your friend in this regards..
https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com

 

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14 hours ago, Jokum said:

So the page 355 says it's a spirit combat with Bad Man, but gives only his POW and not his skill level. Nor can it be a roll by the resistance table because the chance would be minimal even with an apprentice POW 21.

What am i not getting here? 🤔

Correction here:

https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/publishers/chaosium/runequest-roleplaying-in-glorantha-players-book-print/cha4028-runequest-roleplaying-in-glorantha-qa-by-chapter/cha4028-runequest-roleplaying-in-glorantha-chapter-15-shamans/#Stage-Four

13 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Somewhere is a clarification that the Bad Man is 165% at Spirit Combat.

Was corrected to 175% (POW 35x5%=175%), see above for link.

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I still have no idea how becoming a shaman changes the play....

 

The Fetch sees(or is placed in) the spirit world and the shaman and fetch have constant mental connection. What happens If the shaman travels Dragon pass from edge to edge? Does he get double encounters? While he moves in the Middle World does he move simultaniously in spirit world too?

Would be nice to have some description how the perception of the world changes.

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27 minutes ago, Jokum said:

I still have no idea how becoming a shaman changes the play....

It allows access to a different part of the cosmos. But it's voluntary for the shaman. 

27 minutes ago, Jokum said:

The Fetch sees(or is placed in) the spirit world and the shaman and fetch have constant mental connection.

The fetch is the shaman. He has one foot in the Middle World and one foot in the Spirit World.

27 minutes ago, Jokum said:

What happens If the shaman travels Dragon pass from edge to edge? Does he get double encounters?

No. But yes if the GM is really mean.

27 minutes ago, Jokum said:

While he moves in the Middle World does he move simultaniously in spirit world too?

Yes.

27 minutes ago, Jokum said:

Would be nice to have some description how the perception of the world changes.

If the shaman focuses, they can see into the Spirit World as well. It's voluntary, but it means they can reflexively access the spirit world. Unlike the adventurers. Read Vasana's Saga for a feel of it on page 352. I've also written a couple of examples of travelling in the spirit world that might help:

 

 

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