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Research for a God Learners podcast episode on Passions


lordabdul

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Hello there!
 
The next episode of the The God Learners podcast is going to be on the "personality mechanics" of RuneQuest: Passions, Honor, the non-magic parts of the Rune rules, etc. I figure that many people who are starting to play RuneQuest now may be encountering this type of mechanics for the first time (especially if they come from vanilla D&D or Pathfinder), so it may be interesting to talk about what these mechanics are good for, how they're used, etc.
 
To help make the episode better, I'd love to get some opinions and anecdotes from the tribe! What do you think about these mechanics and how often do they come into play? What are some cool uses you found for them? What are some mistakes you made with them, or what are situations in which they break down? What got you confused, and what helped you grok them?
 
Thanks!
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In a sense I’m not the target group you’re looking for because I mostly came from Pendragon, so the Passions were part of what drew me to RuneQuest. Arthurian mythology is still my mythos in many ways, but when I reached the point of not being able to tolerate the baked in gender roles of the setting anymore … RQ:RiG was right there with so much of the game that I loved without that baggage. 

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4 hours ago, Arcadiagt5 said:

In a sense I’m not the target group you’re looking for because I mostly came from Pendragon, so the Passions were part of what drew me to RuneQuest.

You're not necessarily in the target group for the podcast episode itself (although you might learn a thing or two if we do our job well! 🙂 ) but you're definitely in the target group for this thread. Indeed, because Passions in RQG are very close to the mechanics of Pendragon, any mistakes and lessons you got from decades of Pendragon games would be beneficial for an RQG player! And any cool uses of Passions you've seen over the years (in Pendragon or RQG) would also be interesting to read!

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11 hours ago, lordabdul said:

What do you think about these mechanics and how often do they come into play? What are some cool uses you found for them? What are some mistakes you made with them, or what are situations in which they break down? What got you confused, and what helped you grok them?

I was aware of the concept of Passions since Pendragon (and particularly David Dunham's PenDragon Pass in the 90s).  I never used them in earlier incarnations of RQ though.  However, HeroQuest's freeform approach to abilities supported the concept as well, and I and my players used them there.

Personally, I love Passions and think they provide a lot of opportunity for both character development and play, and GM development of the world and interactions with NPC's.  They are used regularly in my games, pretty much from Day 1 running the Broken Tower Quickstart. 

The first memorable use I saw was in a fight at the Broken Tower when Harmast recognized the NPC Danakos as a hated Greydog, successfully rolled that passion, and then rolled a crit with the Passion bonus that killed Danakos in one blow. 

The Passions that typically get referenced most often are Hate and Devotion, sometimes Honor and certain Fears.  The Loyalty passion comes up occasionally while the Love passion the least to date (with about 4 years of RQG play).  Augmenting skills is the most common use.  Players also use to determine which way their player will go if they are undecided on an action (e.g. Loyalty to X vs. Loyalty to Y, etc.). 

Fear is a somewhat distinct Passion and "success" with it does not behave in the same manner as other Passions.  It tends to be the Passion that I invoke more as a GM than one that a player invokes (e.g. it comes up when I present certain circumstances and tends to force player action in certain directions).  I don't think it is hard to understand, but it just plays out somewhat different than other Passions.

I've not had as many opportunities to test rival Loyalties as could occur - probably because the PC's in my main game are mostly supporters of Queen Leika, or companions of Harmast (who is a Thane and supporter of Leika). 

I can't think of any particular "mistakes" with them.  Fear creates some interesting effects, sometimes freezing a player from acting, sometimes avoiding risk.  In RQG, the latter is not necessarily a bad thing given the deadliness of combat.  But I've not seen it forcing players away from heroic actions - just nudging them towards different heroic actions.

 

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I like Passions because they ground the character in the specific setting as experienced by that table. They link the characters to parts of the game and provide mechanical heft to those relationships.

They are also a way of the player communicating to the GM the kind of things that matter to the character, and a way of the GM identifying conflicts that will grab the player. If I give my character a high honour passion, I sure as hell want to play in situations where my honour matters - either where it serves me well or puts me in interesting dilemmas.

White Bull spoliers:

Spoiler

The White Bull campaign shows this perfectly with Garan's honour and vows causing him to take risks because it is in him character to do so rather than expedient option (no surprise attacks /ambushes, and facing a dragon head on which is risky as hell). Likewise with Nisk and his small conflict of Argrath vs Colymar loyalty affecting how he favours Laika over Kallyr to the group's detriment in terms of Kallyr's trust and arguably the impact on Sartar through the failed Lightbringer Quest.

 

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On 8/23/2021 at 10:26 AM, jajagappa said:

The first memorable use I saw was in a fight at the Broken Tower when Harmast recognized the NPC Danakos as a hated Greydog, successfully rolled that passion, and then rolled a crit with the Passion bonus that killed Danakos in one blow.

"Memorable", perhaps.  But do you feel it was good for resolving the scenario?  I guess I'm weird, but I keep reading replays of other group's sessions where "the PCs crit on Round 1 and won", which strike me as extremely unsatisfactory.

The battles I find memorable are close fought affairs lasting many rounds with increasing tension and danger.  YMMV.

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1 hour ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

But do you feel it was good for resolving the scenario?  I guess I'm weird, but I keep reading replays of other group's sessions where "the PCs crit on Round 1 and won", which strike me as extremely unsatisfactory.

Oh, definitely.  It shifted the story directly into the conflict with Idrima at that point, which was the crux of the scenario, and made for some great drama particularly between her and Yanioth.  It was by no means the end of the story/conflict.

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We are all new to the passion systems and honestly on our table it plays out like a "I really want this" card, so if you are missing a few percentiles to success someone always comes up with "but look, it says here, I really hate this guy" 

And even when is made up, (we have a player that edits made-up skills on roll20 on the fly so suddenly she rolls "Common sense 4%" as a recurrent joke) it speaks loudly about what the player wants the character to want. 

I think is a pretty good tool to expose how the characters think and we all use it because is a free advantage on roll.

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Posted this on the Facebook page but think it works here as well - I think passions should be quite fluid. That Love (Husband) turns into Hate (Husband) when you find out that they have betrayed you. The Loyalty (King) vanishes or turns into Hate (King) or Revenge (King) when they swear allegiance to the ancient enemy. I also don't think that there is any obligation for passions to be reciprocal. For example, my character has Love (Ernalsilva) and is even in a year marriage with her, but I wouldn't be surprised at all, if she didn't have the reciprocal Love (Arkast) given that she used weird Ernaldan magics on me to create the passion for her own purposes. Unreciprocated love is far from uncommon, especially if you read shoujo manga 🙂.

Fear is clearly not a reciprocal passion and Hate isn't necessarily reciprocal either. Loyalty doesn't have to be reciprocated, I can be loyal to someone and they aren't necessarily loyal to me in return. I can still use my loyalty to ask for favours as they might have an indirect/broader loyalty (e.g. Loyalty (Clan) and I'm a member of the Clan or the Red Emperor might have Love (Citizens of the Empire) ) and as well, I want to maintain that Loyalty, so I will grant the favour to maintain or even increase their loyalty. Rulers in history who ignore or tread on the loyalty of their subjects often lose it with bad consequences arising and of course having loyal followers is a pretty useful thing too. Harrek probably doesn't care about having loyal followers, their Fear passion is all he needs to use, but he is a bit of an exception

I also think that in manga/anime style, you should be able to do call on a Passion after the roll in dramatic circumstances

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Thanks to everybody who pitched in!  The episode is now recorded and in the final steps of audio editing. I'm sure I can speak for both @Joerg and I when I say we're pretty excited about this episode, we had an amazing guest, and there are a few interesting things we'll be sharing in the show notes (which Joerg started typing today). Stay tuned!

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11 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Thanks to everybody who pitched in!  The episode is now recorded and in the final steps of audio editing. I'm sure I can speak for both @Joerg and I when I say we're pretty excited about this episode, we had an amazing guest, and there are a few interesting things we'll be sharing in the show notes (which Joerg started typing today). Stay tuned!

Looking forward to listening 👍

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@lordabdul @Joerg- I listened to this on a walk this afternoon. Truly excellent episode.  Many thanks to @Scotty for sharing your thoughts and insights.  I found the examples particularly helpful.  The podcast explained very well the intuition of these mechanics and how to apply them in practice. The RQG book explains the rules (the 'what'), this podcast is really informative on the 'how'.  Top marks.

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