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smiorgan

RQ Glorantha desiderata: give me a charsheet with boxes to tick!

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Hi,

This came up in the BRP forum and Rick Meints suggested me to post in the RQ forum.

I was thinking that a great mechanic that I'd love to see back in future incarnations of RQ is the experience system based on skill use (or characteristic stress). It was and is brilliant.

I'd love to see a version of it in the upcoming RQ Glorantha to be released by Chaosium in 2016. At least as an optional rule. I don't think it would disrupt the RQ6 rules.

It was great to tick all those boxes on the character sheet!

Just my two cents!

Smiorgan

Edited by smiorgan
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I prefer the current, RQ6 approach for various reasons. Giving all players a similar amount of experience rolls helps keep things fair and avoids unnecessary tick-hunting. In the RQ3 campaign I'm playing my mage character seems to get fever opportunities to raise skills than the thief, who is constantly sneaking or the bard who does most of the direct influencing of people. And I have a ton of spell skills, which seldom get better because I don't often get to use many of them. Plus the most inexperienced players seem to keep doing stuff just to get those marks, which is a little annoying and not very good role-playing in my opinion.

So Chaosium, please don't bring those tickboxes back. They are wholly unnecessary. If people insist on using them for whatever reason they can do it of course, but the newer approach has clear advantages over the old one IMHO.

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Tick-hunting has never been an issue in my games. Maybe it depends on the players. And the GM can make it clear that skills are checked only in real stressful adventuring situations.

The main strong point of the Chaosium experience system (it was used by all the Chaosium rpgs including Pendragon) is clear: it feels organic and ties advancement to the story. Memorable successes become enshrined in advancements. This is what I like.

I like the system as it is. But, maybe it can be improved. One can imagine a hybrid awarding a minimum of skill rolls to everybody, then bonus skill rolls for significant successess and significant failures. Criticals and fumbles should both automatically result in ticking the skill, plus the GM can adjudicate which other events are memorable.

Note that I don't want to ruin anybody's fun. I just happen to like this experience system. Not for "whatever reason" but exactly for the reason detailed above. If I'm in the minority I'll make my charsheets with boxes to tick myself :D.

EDIT: Sorry, when wrote this I had not seen the news on RQ Glorantha not being RQ6. Now, I'd write my posts differently.

 

 

 

Edited by smiorgan
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RQ2 and RQ3 had experience by tick-box, which led to the Tock-Chase, where everyone tried loads of skills, just to get a tick, with a fairly random set of increases.

I abandoned this years ago, replacing it with a number of Experience Points that the players can choose to spend on increasing any skill, even ones they didn;t use in that session. It works a lot better, as it stops the tick chase and allows players to focus on improving those skills they want to improve.

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In principle I liked the tick-box method, but unfortunately it led to what Soltakss and Smjn described above, and every long-running character turned out to be a jack-of-all-trades, with many being masters in everything.

From a GM perspective, I greatly prefer the Improvement Rolls in Legend and RQ6.

My RQ6 players are transitioning from BRP, so as a sweetener I meet them halfway with this. If they roll a critical success for a skill, I ask them to also make a base Common Knowledge roll at the end of the scene. If they do so, they gain an automatic Improvement Roll for that skill on the spot.

It works nicely as a compromise between the two experience systems :-)

Edited by Mankcam
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Tick-hunting/Tock-chase is only a problem if the GM/Keeper lets it become a problem. In many BRP rules sets, it's at the GM/Keeper's discretion when experience checks are awarded and when rolls are made for skill improvement.

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Yes that's certainly true regarding GM discretion, but in practice this can be a hard thing to manage, depending upon the troupe. 

I have found that players who have originally played other rpgs feel that GM discretion for experience checks is sometimes too controlling on the part of the GM, and they often feel entitled to their skill checks. I don't think think reflects on the GM, its just how it is. I certainly don't enjoy too much conflict over it and don't want to turn game sessions into HRM sessions, but it can put you at that crossroads if you stick to your guns too much over it. 

Players who started off with RQ/CoC or another version of BRP didn't seem to have any issues with it, so its a matter of perspective I think. 

In principle I prefer the RQ/BRP Skill Improvement method, but it has led to min/max issues over the years, or conflict around that.

My players are predominantly a motley crue of old BRP, Rolemaster, White Wolf, and D&D players (broadly speaking). If they had more BRP origins then they probably would have similar expectations to me in this regard.

So this is why the RQ6 Improvement Rolls just works better in my situation.

 

Edited by Mankcam
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3 minutes ago, Mankcam said:

Yes that's certainly true, but in practice this can be hard to manage, depending upon the troupe.

I disagree that it's hard to manage. These expectations can be set before the first session begins; before the first skill rolls are made. Personally, I don't find it controlling or domineering - setting expectations and conveying them effectively is just another responsibility of the GM.

If players are that distressed by these decisions - or so entitled to get their reward/cookie - it's more a clear sign to me, personally, that I probably won't enjoy running games for them.

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Yes what you say certainly rings true, however in many cases it will be matter of compromise.

Player expectations certainly do impact on gaming pleasure, and while I do not give in to tantrums (nor expect them from my friends), I do try to compromise so we all get the best of both worlds. If I was GMing at a convention I would be more rigid in my expectations, but playing a game with old friends for pure enjoyment means we all have to find middle ground.

I still really like the old tick box method of earlier BRP systems, but I just find RQ6 Improvement Rolls suits our troupe a bit better. Both methods are worlds above the standard 'leveling up' that D&D introduced to the hobby.

Edited by Mankcam

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2 hours ago, smjn said:

I prefer the current, RQ6 approach for various reasons. Giving all players a similar amount of experience rolls helps keep things fair and avoids unnecessary tick-hunting. In the RQ3 campaign I'm playing my mage character seems to get fever opportunities to raise skills than the thief, who is constantly sneaking or the bard who does most of the direct influencing of people. And I have a ton of spell skills, which seldom get better because I don't often get to use many of them. Plus the most inexperienced players seem to keep doing stuff just to get those marks, which is a little annoying and not very good role-playing in my opinion.

So Chaosium, please don't bring those tickboxes back. They are wholly unnecessary. If people insist on using them for whatever reason they can do it of course, but the newer approach has clear advantages over the old one IMHO.

What about ticks for special occasions then. Say Specials or Criticals give you ticks, but this is on top of normal advancement.

Though I must say that advancement based on skill use has always made much more sense. I also don't ever remember tick hunting being an issue in the games I was in.

SDLeary

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It hasn't been an issue for my games either. I also let people tick boxes for critical failures... and if they wanted to improve something specific they could generally go find some training. There's no reason for the 'golf bag syndrome' some folks complain about.

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Rather than seek an offical change, I say house rule; house rule; house rule.

  • At one time I used tick boxes AND ruled a player had to nail a skill no less than three times in legitimate game-play situations before being allowed an experience roll. I even made up a hybrid character sheet with tick-boxes for the process.
  • Another time it was ten successful uses in exchange for a flat 6 points
  • I've offered one experience roll at the end of a session to players who participated.
  • I've waited until the end of the adventure episode-arch and awarded more than one.
  • I've awarded experience rolls for specific skills only.
  • I've awarded experience rolls for any skill a player had a whim to improve.
  • I've offered extra-experience rolls for the best roleplayer...the best one-liner...the player responsible for the sessions biggest laugh...the character who make the pivital observation of the evening, etc.
  • I've unilaterally awarded experience points to a specific skill, or given them to a player but stipulated they could only use them on specific skills, or magnanimously ;) offered them as a reward to be spant on any skill, "...at the player's pleasure...".

Experience, points or rolls, were firmly my perogative as GM and not dependant on a mechanic or offical rule...the true beauty of BRP. In the end, regardless of permutation, I noted two things:

  1. After literally decades of gaming in which only a few skills ever crossed the century mark, players never complained of being cheated or shortchanged in the skills department; they knew I was a fair GM and that their skill growth was for the most part directly based on thier actions.
  2. Knowledge, not experience rolls, was the true economy of the game. The more players learned and discovered, the larger thier network, the safer they were and the more fun they had. Interaction with the world was what counted; their skills grew organically as a result.

Just my style and game...as we used to say on the MW forum: "your Magic World may vary" or in this case RuneQuest.

Cheers,

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5 minutes ago, Sunwolfe said:

Knowledge, not experience rolls, was the true economy of the game. The more players learned and discovered, the larger thier network, the safer they were and the more fun they had. Interaction with the world was what counted; their skills grew organically as a result.

That goes along with what has generally been my preference for games that are relatively slow on mechanical advancement... like Classic Traveller... but spotlight reputations and gaining access to resources and contacts. Even the Pathfinder game I play in nowadays... we're leveling pretty slow but we've built up a really great network of NPCs we can go to for various types of assistance. It's something I always make sure to address in games I run as well.

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As a die-hard RQ2 fan my favourite advancement system is ... RQ3! Tick-hunting may be annoying to some refereees but there is basically no more intuitive system than advancement in the things your character does, practices, or studies. "Fair" and "game balance" are terms that have no real place in my games because they are essentially simulationist (at least within their own laws of physics or fantasy). If a character doesn't or can't contribute then he/she won't get any experience. Even RQ3 sorcerers don't get off the hook, because it makes sense to me that their skill increases should come mainly from study and practice rather than actual casting in anger.

Even the idea of alternating experience rolls and study/practice for non-"theoretical" skill increases works.

So yes, I hope RQ7(!) will build solidly on its RQ2 foundations (and maybe a bit of RQ3 - but no Fatigue!). 

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We have a house rule - use RQ6 Improvement rolls (only a certain number of improvement possible) but only on skills you have used. This has worked well with us. There are couple of interesting suggestions above to add to that (critical + common knowledge or some specific knowledge or even insight.. roll to gain extra improvement). 

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1 hour ago, Vile said:

"Fair" and "game balance" are terms that have no real place in my games because they are essentially simulationist (at least within their own laws of physics or fantasy). If a character doesn't or can't contribute then he/she won't get any experience.

The problem I have with this is that contributing doesn't necessarily have anything to do with rolling the dice. A player can contribute a lot by just good role-playing and doing things that don't require any skill rolls. I don't think its a very good simulation that people don't get better in things that they do day-to-day but instead only in stuff they perform under pressure. So it's no so much about game balance as it is about the system rewarding some contributions and ignoring other kinds.

This is a great problem in RQ3 because the way skills are spread out and tick-boxes handled. So the thief who is sneaking around is getting a check in several skills (sneaking, hiding, climbing, jumping, throwing) while the bard who does a lot more by influencing people only gets a check in Fast Talk while not in Human Lore, which is a Knowledge skill without a check-box.

So in my view the RQ6 system helps make the system both fairer and a better simulation.

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51 minutes ago, smjn said:

The problem I have with this is that contributing doesn't necessarily have anything to do with rolling the dice. A player can contribute a lot by just good role-playing and doing things that don't require any skill rolls. I don't think its a very good simulation that people don't get better in things that they do day-to-day but instead only in stuff they perform under pressure. So it's no so much about game balance as it is about the system rewarding some contributions and ignoring other kinds.

I feel that those are two separate elements (of course they overlap freely) - players who roleplay well learn from it themselves and become better players, while characters who use/practice/train their skills become better characters. This fine distinction is something I find is more openly taken for granted in old-school gaming, though. The rewards of roleplaying have only recently become linked to character building as opposed to just having fun playing a role. So, a character who doesn't get into a lot of fights doesn't get much better at fighting, but then why should he? He's not going to get into any fights!

Anyway, I know I speak from my own experience as does everyone else in this (venerable!) topic, so all evidence is anecdotal. Tick-hunting happens from time to time, characters have to deal with the logistics of transporting their golf bag of weapons as well as the social stigma of being a jack-of-all-weapons, master of none - but my experience is that it is not a problem in practice, and a fine time was had by all to date.

Jeff has posted the current plans for RQ7(!), my only wish is that it doesn't stray further from or get much bigger than RQ2 than absolutely necessary.

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5 hours ago, smjn said:

This is a great problem in RQ3 because the way skills are spread out and tick-boxes handled. So the thief who is sneaking around is getting a check in several skills (sneaking, hiding, climbing, jumping, throwing) while the bard who does a lot more by influencing people only gets a check in Fast Talk while not in Human Lore, which is a Knowledge skill without a check-box.

In this example, the thief is taking far more risk and potentially reaping a greater reward in term of experience than the bard who's intention is far more focused. And these are risks, in my opinion.

If you work from the premise that skill rolls are required in situations of pressure, risk, or randomness, and not for any simple action; and that Experience Checks can result in this case; then the thief exposes himself to a lot of danger by attempting a number of actions. With each skill roll, the result of failure (or fumble) can be life-threatening, lead to injury, or lead to situations that can be life-threatening. Fail/fumble a Climb roll and you're falling a distance and getting seriously injured or squished. Fail/fumble your sneaky skills and you're detected by the tower guards and possibly impaled by a few spears? Fail/fumble a jump roll and you don't clear the gap between buildings, fall, and ... ouch. Fail/fumble throwing a rock/dagger at a target/guard and someone raises the alarm or attacks you.

What's the risk of failure for the bard? A grumbling crowd, and some thrown apples? Developing some enemies? Getting chased out of town by a disgruntled mob? (Which could lead to other skill checks, like jumping, climbing, hiding, sneaking, listening, scanning, throwing, weapon skills). The bard could get more in-game value from using Fast Talk (though I'd wonder why he wouldn't be using Orate, or Sing, or Playing and Instrument) but he's at less risk, and deserves less reward in terms of personal development. 

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I've used Improvement Rolls/Experience Rolls before, years ago, and in the past I've considered them a reasonable mechanic. Nowadays, I wouldn't use them because they don't really serve the way I prefer to play.

Quote

Per RQ6, page 109:

It is recommended that all characters be given the same number of Experience Rolls, which helps maintain fairness and parity in character progression...

RQ6 presents them as a kind of everyone gets a cookie reward, IMO. "Fairness" and "Parity", so the players don't get jealous (essentially), rather than more risk = more reward. And I prefer to play the latter way.

6 hours ago, smjn said:

I don't think its a very good simulation that people don't get better in things that they do day-to-day but instead only in stuff they perform under pressure.

That's why, IMO, training rules exist. Day-to-day skills are acquired through "training", in a sense. (Lots of) time is devoted to the activity; "teachers" (peers) can provide instruction. You get good at day-to-day skills through repetition and observation, not by taking great risks. And taking great risks is what leads to growth through Experience Checks.

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36 minutes ago, K Peterson said:

What's the risk of failure for the bard?

Inciting rebellion in his home town he may attrach the attention and ire of the local nobles he's trying to undermine, therefore he's taking a much larger risk than the thief who's keeping to the shadows and never seen. But even when the bard is just chatting up people in bar to get some information, if he fails his Human Lore he may insult people in a way that escalates into something he is unable to deal with. And for Human Lore he doesn't even get a tick even if he succeeds...

Edited by smjn
Clarification

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3 minutes ago, smjn said:

Inciting rebellion in his home town he may attrach the attention and ire of the local nobles he's trying to undermine, therefore he's taking a much larger risk than the thief who's keeping to the shadows and never seen. But even when the bard is just chatting up people in bar to get some information, if he fails his Human Lore he may insult people in a way that escalates into something he is unable to deal with. And for Human Lore he doesn't even get a tick even if he succeeds...

BTW, a house rule I used was to allow to tick all skills, including knowledge skills. When you use knowledge it becomes clearer and more solid in your head. And (depending on the situations) you might also learn new facts.

 

 

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1 hour ago, smjn said:

Inciting rebellion in his home town he may attrach the attention and ire of the local nobles he's trying to undermine, therefore he's taking a much larger risk than the thief who's keeping to the shadows and never seen. But even when the bard is just chatting up people in bar to get some information, if he fails his Human Lore he may insult people in a way that escalates into something he is unable to deal with. And for Human Lore he doesn't even get a tick even if he succeeds...

If that outcome is the result of a single failed Fast Talk roll, instead of a concerted series of Fast Talk, Orate, Sing, Play Instrument, Human Lore, then .... wow. From my perspective, and using your example, undermining the local nobles would require a heck of a lot of effort, coordinating with a lot of parties, if that's the bard's goal. Fast Talking one or two people (the limit of the skill's effectiveness), is not going to be enough to do it for him, IMO. Orating to groups of people, singing, dancing, Fast Talking a few people if there are some poor reactions. We lead to a similar situation where the bard has the potential for many Experience Checks. Potentially as many as our thief. That dirty, tick-hunting bard.

And, if things go sideways in a conversation, and the city guard are called, the bard could, again, be rolling against a number of 'thiefy' skills to evade/fight-off pursuers.

I don't disagree with you about the Lore skills. I think that they should have the option to increase through experience. But, if our bard-revolutionary is trying to upset the local government, he should be training the hell out of his Human Lore if he wants a chance of success.

Edited by K Peterson

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I always asked my group, "What did you learn?", with each player detailing some new information their character had picked up in the session. Enough new information and I would either allow an Experience Tick on a particular skill (could be any skill grouping) that conforms to this information or I would give a flat +5% if the information learned was significant enough or the skill being regarded was low enough (i.e. under 25% usually).  The What Did You Learn sessions can build up over the course of a complete adventure to produce a skill gain at the end anyway, even if not in an individual session.

 

It adds an extra element to player/character development.

Edited by charlesvajr

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8 hours ago, hkokko said:

We have a house rule - use RQ6 Improvement rolls (only a certain number of improvement possible) but only on skills you have used. This has worked well with us. There are couple of interesting suggestions above to add to that (critical + common knowledge or some specific knowledge or even insight.. roll to gain extra improvement). 

That's a very good rule, which seems to take the best of both worlds. I like it a lot.

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