Jump to content

Starting shaman taboo and abilities


Scorus

Recommended Posts

The contest between the Bad Man and the shaman to determine the number of starting taboo and abilities doesn't make sense to me. The errata clearly indicates that the results of the contest are practically predetermined, even a master shaman will have to roll very well to get out with less than D6-1 taboo and the Bad Man has to roll a 96-100 for the shaman to even have a chance at getting an ability. The errata confirms that in response to a question. So why even have a contest? It strikes me as something out of Paranoia: trick the player into thinking they have a chance (if they don't know the Bad Man's spirit combat score).

I'm wondering if it was designed for a POW+CHA vs. POW+CHA style of spirit combat instead of the new skill-based system (just as the Spirit Block rune spell was written under the old system until changed by errata), and then awkwardly retconned to fit into the new system. A new shaman's POW+CHA would likely be around 30-35, so it would give them a real chance at getting at least one additional ability. And that would explain why it listed the Bad Man's POW (which is unnecessary) instead of its spirit combat skill (which is).

Has anyone used a different contest system to determine starting taboo and abilities for shamans in their game?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just for some clarification/context, most Assistant Shaman PCs should have Spirit Combat of about 100% - or higher! (base 20% + Occupation 30% + Cult (both Daka Fal and Waha) 15%  (and probably another 15-20%) + Cultural Skills  (Sartar & Grazelands 15%, Prax 20%) + Magic Modifier between 5% and 15%. Even without the Magic modifier, that equals 105% (assuming one adds 20% to the 15% from the DF cult). So, a good shaman-type character could be starting the game with 120% in Spirit Combat.

Now, on top of that, even at starting, the wannabe Shaman can do an augment - a few hours of augment will add a good percentage - you should be thinking at least 35%, or 50% for a full day, 60% for a week.

And, according to the Magic chapter, one can also augment with a skill for "magical resistance" (personally, I'd allow it here). Then can add another 50% (if you're lucky).

Either way, the actual Spirit Combat with the Bad Man should really look like 160% or more, versus 170%... So, not really much of a difference, but probably going the way of the Bad Man.

Even if the GM doesn't allow the ritual preparation (which I believe has been stated somewhere that it can - and should - apply), they should allow an augment from some source (skill, passion, or Rune).

So, you've actually got a very good chance (really about 50%) of either getting a new ability, or a taboo.

And, lastly, you do automatically get 1 ability anyway, free of any taboos.

 

However, I would say that having taboos is an important part of being a Shaman. It should be seen as very rare for any shaman to not have some enforced obligations from the big spirits that they connect with.  I'd also suggest that having taboos from a greater spirit is considered an honour and sign of respect. It certainly is in RL shamanism.

 

  • Like 6
  • Helpful 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

However, I would say that having taboos is an important part of being a Shaman. It should be seen as very rare for any shaman to not have some enforced obligations from the big spirits that they connect with.  I'd also suggest that having taboos from a greater spirit is considered an honour and sign of respect. It certainly is in RL shamanism.

 

sadly, I can only put , so helpful, as I believed that the creation character process defined a max 100%, but no, it is only the step 7. So yes, for myself memory,  we can start at more than 100%

 

but in all cases, the most important for me in your answer is what I quote. from a roleplay perspective it seems for me very important to have a lot of oaths, taboos, passions, etc.. even if, from a gameplay perspective, it "reduces" the freedom of players.

so thanks for this great answer ! 💙💙💙

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This what I do when making NPC shaman, but the same abstraction could be used for adventurers:

I roll a each D6 for the shaman and Bad Man.

  • If the shaman rolls highest, the Bad man roll is the number of Taboos, the remainder is number of Abilities.
  • If Bad Man rolls highest, the shaman roll is the number of Abilities, the remainder is number of Taboos.
  • On a draw split the number 50/50

So if the Bad Man rolls 4 and the shaman 3, that's 1 taboos and 3 abilities.

Don't forget the shaman always gets an extra ability.

  • Like 1

-----

Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, Scorus said:

The contest between the Bad Man and the shaman to determine the number of starting taboo and abilities doesn't make sense to me. The errata clearly indicates that the results of the contest are practically predetermined, even a master shaman will have to roll very well to get out with less than D6-1 taboo and the Bad Man has to roll a 96-100 for the shaman to even have a chance at getting an ability. The errata confirms that in response to a question. So why even have a contest? It strikes me as something out of Paranoia: trick the player into thinking they have a chance (if they don't know the Bad Man's spirit combat score).

We had a recent Shaman initiation, and he got out without losing a single round and winning a couple (which was admittedly lucky). 175% sounds overwhelming, but it really isn’t. Spirit Combat in excess of 100% is to be expected, and getting in a Special augment has good odds when you work on it, so I would expect the would-be shaman to enter with something like 125-140% Spirit combat. Since win-win is probably the most likely roll, playing defence is pretty doable.

If you try to iniate right away with your starting Apprentice Shaman, things will be harder, but this seems like malpractice by your teacher.

Edited by Akhôrahil
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

If you try to iniate right away with your starting Apprentice Shaman, things will be harder, but this seems like malpractice by your teacher.

True-ish...

Your other skills, as well as POW and CHA won't have advanced any (and Spirit Travel is likely to only be about 70% at starting - but that only affects the fetch), and you may not have a good skill or Passion for the augment (ie, 80% or higher)... but I don't think it will be much harder than trying for it later (in a year or so after starting - unless one really wants to wait a long time for guaranteed results).

So, in saying that, I'd say that if you can get your Fetch right from the start, it's far more advantageous to do so than not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

So, in saying that, I'd say that if you can get your Fetch right from the start, it's far more advantageous to do so than not.

Another factor here is that you really don’t want to fail your Spirit Dance roll for the Fetch, so that one should ideally be at 95%.

One year makes a substantial difference.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Scorus said:

The contest between the Bad Man and the shaman to determine the number of starting taboo and abilities doesn't make sense to me. The errata clearly indicates that the results of the contest are practically predetermined, even a master shaman will have to roll very well to get out with less than D6-1 taboo and the Bad Man has to roll a 96-100 for the shaman to even have a chance at getting an ability. The errata confirms that in response to a question. So why even have a contest? It strikes me as something out of Paranoia: trick the player into thinking they have a chance (if they don't know the Bad Man's spirit combat score).

I'm wondering if it was designed for a POW+CHA vs. POW+CHA style of spirit combat instead of the new skill-based system (just as the Spirit Block rune spell was written under the old system until changed by errata), and then awkwardly retconned to fit into the new system. A new shaman's POW+CHA would likely be around 30-35, so it would give them a real chance at getting at least one additional ability. And that would explain why it listed the Bad Man's POW (which is unnecessary) instead of its spirit combat skill (which is).

Has anyone used a different contest system to determine starting taboo and abilities for shamans in their game?

I think it's entirely aimed at trying to gussy up "you get 1-5 taboos and 1-x abilities" from pure rolling on tables. 

How I might do it is to swap the assumptions- the Bad Man isn't strong (modest spirit combat damage, spirit combat skill that's similar to a prospective shaman's, but is very durable (buckets of MP) and can easily disengage, doing so after taking spirit combat damage. Challenging him requires accepting a taboo, damaging him gets you a shamanic ability, and then you can hold him in place by accepting a taboo to prevent him from running. So you can take your chances on pressing your luck and pushing for more abilities, taking more taboos with them. Or you can get lucky (high damage rolls, he fails to break off) or unlucky (he's still quite capable of fucking you up) and get extra abilities or fewer, to keep the basic principle of semi-randomized quantities but also giving players the choice on whether to keep gambling or not. 

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

"I just read an article in The Economist by a guy who was riding around with the Sartar rebels, I mean Taliban," -Greg Stafford, January 7th, 2010

Eight Arms and the Mask

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

So, you've actually got a very good chance (really about 50%) of either getting a new ability, or a taboo.

I'm probably missing something in your argument, but to get an ability the Bad Man has to miss his 175% roll. If both make their roll, then there is no ability or taboo. So while the number of taboo are reduced by augmenting, etc., the chances of an ability stay at <5% per round.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

We had a recent Shaman initiation, and he got out without losing a single round and winning a couple (which was admittedly lucky). 175% sounds overwhelming, but it really isn’t. Spirit Combat in excess of 100% is to be expected, and getting in a Special augment has good odds when you work on it, so I would expect the would-be shaman to enter with something like 125-140% Spirit combat. Since win-win is probably the most likely roll, playing defence is pretty doable.

It sounds like I'm misinterpreting something! The only way to win a round seems to be if the Bad Man rolls 96-100 AND you make your reduced roll. Is that correct and is that what happened multiple times in the initiation you are talking about?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

34 minutes ago, Scorus said:

It sounds like I'm misinterpreting something! The only way to win a round seems to be if the Bad Man rolls 96-100 AND you make your reduced roll. Is that correct and is that what happened multiple times in the initiation you are talking about?

You can also roll special/crit while he doesn’t. This is the more likely way.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

At 130% Spirit Combat on the shaman-to-be, the most likely outcome in each round is the Bad Man winning, with a majority of outcomes by a narrow margin (52%), followed by a tie (36%), followed by shaman victory (12%), and then both losing (2%). On average, the shaman will get between 0-1 abilities and 1-2 taboos. If they fight it out to the last possible round, it is 7,057 times more likely they will have the maximum possible number of taboos than the maximum possible number of abilities, and they will on average have 0-1 abilities still but 3-4 taboos.

But let's bump this up to 150% Spirit Combat on the assistant shaman. What does that change? They still come out, on average, with 0-1 abilities and 1-2 taboos, but pushing their luck to the last round means 0-1 abilities but only 2-3 taboos! Wowza!

Taking things up to 175% Spirit Combat does finally get you to a point where on average you get 0-1 abilities and 0-1 taboos, and if you push your luck to 6 rounds, you get 1-2 abilities and 1-2 taboos. So in conclusion, if the math for this system was worked out intentionally, the idea appears to be that shamans should have 1 or at most 2 abilities at most to start with, and with 0-2 more taboos than abilities. But with an additional slot-machine-jackpot chance of getting something more. Sucker's bet, imo, but you also have to just sit there and let the Bad Man do whatever he wants to you because you can't disengage until the random roll says.

 

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

"I just read an article in The Economist by a guy who was riding around with the Sartar rebels, I mean Taliban," -Greg Stafford, January 7th, 2010

Eight Arms and the Mask

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Scorus said:

I'm probably missing something in your argument, but to get an ability the Bad Man has to miss his 175% roll. If both make their roll, then there is no ability or taboo. So while the number of taboo are reduced by augmenting, etc., the chances of an ability stay at <5% per round.

Sorry, it was my phrasing that was bad.

I meant it to mean you've probably got an equal chance of getting either an ability or a taboo... hence, 50/50. That's not to say that the chances for getting either are 50%. You may be correct on the <5% per round, but I haven't looked at that...

(Til now, and I suspect it won't be that bad - *IFF* you roll well on the augment. And if you do so, then you are taking your Spirit Combat % to higher than the Bad Man's, and so you would be higher chance than just 5%... sure, it might only be 15%, but still higher.

Let's look again at the numbers I posted above. We'll take every starting PC Assistant Shaman as taking the best options where they can - so, 105% at starting, but not including Magic Modifier. *IFF* they have POW & CHA at 21, then that's another 25%. Unfortunately, most GMs aren't going to be likely to allow that (unless your character is non-human), so... at best probably +15%, and so Spirit Combat is 120%.

1 week of Ritual Preparation is +60%. A Crit on an augment garners another 50% (but, more likely, only a 20% boost).

Spirit Combat is now 200%. (more with Special/Crit on Augment)

Thus, you'll likely have a 25% chance of getting an additional ability, and no taboos - per round. All going well...... or 35%... or 75%!

 

12 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Another factor here is that you really don’t want to fail your Spirit Dance roll for the Fetch, so that one should ideally be at 95%.

One year makes a substantial difference.

True.

BUT.... I'm sure I've read that at least some think the Ritual Preparation should also be added to this roll as well. Certainly, RAW on p355 says so (but, doesn't mention that it also adds to the Spirit Combat with the Bad Man... - but I'm sure I've read that it's ok for that as well.. Your GM May Vary).

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this is another occasion in the RAW where the Call of Cthulhu Hard Success (50% of skill) would be useful. I think the current Critical/Special/Normal/Fail/Fumble often results in way too many ties and having a Critical/Special/Hard/Normal/Fail/Fumble would alleviate this issue.

I know that Jason in previous discussions about ties has discussed ways to make ties interesting as opposed to a pause in the contest and I can see how that works fine for him, but it does require a level of creativity from the GM on a very ad-hoc basis and if there is a tie 3 or 4 times in a row, it becomes a bit of a drain on the GM (maybe not for others)

PS. The shaman in our party rolled 3 criticals in her fight against the Bad Man, so it's not always a problem 😁

Edited by Martin Dick
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Sorry, it was my phrasing that was bad.

I meant it to mean you've probably got an equal chance of getting either an ability or a taboo... hence, 50/50. That's not to say that the chances for getting either are 50%. You may be correct on the <5% per round, but I haven't looked at that...

(Til now, and I suspect it won't be that bad - *IFF* you roll well on the augment. And if you do so, then you are taking your Spirit Combat % to higher than the Bad Man's, and so you would be higher chance than just 5%... sure, it might only be 15%, but still higher.

Let's look again at the numbers I posted above. We'll take every starting PC Assistant Shaman as taking the best options where they can - so, 105% at starting, but not including Magic Modifier. *IFF* they have POW & CHA at 21, then that's another 25%. Unfortunately, most GMs aren't going to be likely to allow that (unless your character is non-human), so... at best probably +15%, and so Spirit Combat is 120%.

1 week of Ritual Preparation is +60%. A Crit on an augment garners another 50% (but, more likely, only a 20% boost).

Spirit Combat is now 200%. (more with Special/Crit on Augment)

Thus, you'll likely have a 25% chance of getting an additional ability, and no taboos - per round. All going well...... or 35%... or 75%!

 

True.

BUT.... I'm sure I've read that at least some think the Ritual Preparation should also be added to this roll as well. Certainly, RAW on p355 says so (but, doesn't mention that it also adds to the Spirit Combat with the Bad Man... - but I'm sure I've read that it's ok for that as well.. Your GM May Vary).

I personally can't see how Ritual Practices could apply to the combat with the Bad Man - the description on page 246 seems pretty clear that Ritual Practices are a way to modify a single roll ("The spell or magic skill the adventurer wishes to use is rolled for at the completion of the ritual, and any magic points or Rune points used in the spell are expended. If the roll succeeds, the spell is cast or the skill performed"), and the only place the issue is mentioned on pg. 355 is directly in conjunction with Spirit Dance to summon the fetch.

It looks to me like RAW the only way to have a close-to-even chance to get anything from the Bad Man is to walk in with Spirit Combat already over 100% at baseline, and then get a critical success on an augment/inspiration.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, General Confusion said:

I personally can't see how Ritual Practices could apply to the combat with the Bad Man - the description on page 246 seems pretty clear that Ritual Practices are a way to modify a single roll ("The spell or magic skill the adventurer wishes to use is rolled for at the completion of the ritual, and any magic points or Rune points used in the spell are expended. If the roll succeeds, the spell is cast or the skill performed"), and the only place the issue is mentioned on pg. 355 is directly in conjunction with Spirit Dance to summon the fetch.

It looks to me like RAW the only way to have a close-to-even chance to get anything from the Bad Man is to walk in with Spirit Combat already over 100% at baseline, and then get a critical success on an augment/inspiration.

Ah, you are correct!

I had in my head that one of the Chaosium people had written that it would be ok to use it for both. After a search, it turns out I mis-remembered who it was.

However....

While it does specifically mention that Ritual Practices can be attributed to the Spirit Dance to awaken the Fetch, I would suggest that they could be used for the Spirit Combat with the Bad Man instead. The reasoning (and perfectly valid, I suggest**) is that the preparation is for one particular skill, and that is the skill that you have in mind (and soul) when you are doing the practices.

The question then would become - would players use the bonus on the Spirit Dance roll or on the Spirit Combat rolls? (considering that Augments are still available for both).

For me, probably the Bad Man, as those abilities cost, and are unable to be gained pretty much any other way. Those abilities also include increased CHA (+3D6 - but for spells only). or higher Maximum Power, self-resurrection, Spell Barrage, Spell Extension etc. Easily better than the extra POW & CHA for the Fetch (which you can increase anyway). Abilities cost characteristics... 1, 3, 6, 10 (cumulative for the first four, respectively). A very high Spirit Combat skill could garner you 4 abilities, thus saving you 10 POW (unless you like giving up your other attributes).

You desperately don't want to fail (or especially, fumble) the Spirit Dance roll, and it's great to have the Special or Critical - but those are extra bonuses. Just getting a normal success is sufficient (except for the munchkins :p). Granted, a starting Assistant Shaman is going to have a fairly low Spirit Dance score... probably only around the 50-60% range.

 

Obviously, the above is merely my opinion.... I'm curious as to how others would prioritise.

 

 

( ** It is clear that the preparation bonus can be 'held' for a while, because that's exactly what's written in the book... first you do the preparation, then you go to the spirit world, then you meet the Horned Man and cross over, then you go to the cave to get your Fetch. Quite a bit of 'time' has been spent between the Ritual Practice and reaching the cave... so, it seems reasonable to hold onto the bonus for that little bit longer for the Bad Man.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, General Confusion said:

I personally can't see how Ritual Practices could apply to the combat with the Bad Man - the description on page 246 seems pretty clear that Ritual Practices are a way to modify a single roll ("The spell or magic skill the adventurer wishes to use is rolled for at the completion of the ritual, and any magic points or Rune points used in the spell are expended. If the roll succeeds, the spell is cast or the skill performed"), and the only place the issue is mentioned on pg. 355 is directly in conjunction with Spirit Dance to summon the fetch.

there are the words and there are interpretations.

My view is more in that case that this kind of bonus covers one action

in fact a roll doesn't mean a lot of things by itself. a GM may ask one roll or several rolls to determine the success.

 

for example, there is a race, and pcs have to run.

option 1) the race by itself is not very important for the story, for the players. For example it is just a challenge between young men and that's all. Ok let's roll 1 time to determine the winner.

option 2) the race is very important. the winner will mary the ernalda new initiate and will become a thane for one year.... GM may want to create an atmosphere of stress, a challenge where players will want to see each of their rolls as an option to change the fate of their character. so let's roll every 10 meters (for example)

 

now the gm decides that those who trained physically last season would have a 10% bonus for this race.

Should we apply this 10% only for the first roll ?

 

so for me it is the same with the bad man. The action is a critical challenge between 2 opponents, with more than one output (how many taboos, abilities,...). And it is important for the player. If it is important for a player,  create suspense and surprises (good or bad)

so there are a lot of options to determine it (opposition, fight, one skill roll, ...). The rules propose a spirit combat with several rounds. For me it is like the race : there are 50 meters to run, each 10 meters determines if it is a taboo or a new ability. but the apprentice was prepared for the race, no for the first 10 meters.

 

Of course my answer is not RAW but it is my interpretation of RAW

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/14/2023 at 6:00 PM, General Confusion said:

I personally can't see how Ritual Practices could apply to the combat with the Bad Man

Ritual Practice, among other things, lets you augment a Magic skill. Spirit Combat is a Magic skill so I would personally allow augmenting one Spirit Combat roll (only one, not the whole combat). It's probably better to augment the Spirit Dance skill, though, as special/crit gives you a more powerful fetch, and that's your only chance at that.

It's also possible that the whole Bad Man fight is meant to give you taboos, and that getting additional abilities is only for a select few. Nobody said it was a fair fight. In fact, there are barely ever any fair fights in RuneQuest.

  • Like 1

Ludovic aka Lordabdul -- read and listen to  The God Learners , the Gloranthan podcast, newsletter, & blog !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Lordabdul said:

It's also possible that the whole Bad Man fight is meant to give you taboos, and that getting additional abilities is only for a select few. Nobody said it was a fair fight.

Of course it is not a "fair fight".  It's an ordeal.  It's intended to prepare you for dealing with an often hostile environment, i.e. the Spirit World, where you might be readily sucked into a place not of your choosing, get assailed by demons, get trapped in nightmares of your own mind, etc. Yes, you'll get taboos (I think the shaman in one of my RQG games has six, and just happened to break one, so we'll see what happens with that), but by abiding by those taboos, the shaman will presumably also make allies in that world.  All good fodder for the game.

Edited by jajagappa
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...