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New RQ - Designer Notes Part Three

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1 hour ago, jongjom said:

Maybe a bit harsh to say that decades of work and game play from Greg Stafford, Sandy Petersen, Ken Rolston, Jeff Richard, Steve Perrin and others is the same as the rush job by Matt Sprang? Maybe just a tad harsh? Possibly?

It would be if this were actually decades of work by said authors. Frankly, Greg, Steve and the rest have been doing other things for those decades. it's not like they've been toiling away on a new edition of RQ all those years, but couldn't get it finished, or published. Most they people haven't even been working for Chaosium in the last decade. Heck, how many of them have even played RQ (or any other RPG) together in the last decade?

And Greg and Steve were both involved in MRQ. So just having their names attached to this at this stage doesn't assure quality. Although, at least this time, I doubt anybody involved is going to tell Mr. Perrin that he doesn't know how to write an RPG. 

 

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Will the system be a true D100 like RQ3 & BRP or a pseudo D100 system like the existing RQ2 where skills can generally only have values that are multiples of 5?

I did actually play RQ2 with some D&D players where we divided all the skills by 5 and rolled D20 instead of D100 and it worked ok (not great but ok)

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4 hours ago, Jeff said:

That's been both of our opinion for a very long time. And Greg has worked on solving it since about 1980, but never got there. Incorporating the Runes directly into HQ2 was a last minute design decision, that eventually showed the way to do it for RuneQuest.

If you think this is six months of work, guess again. Greg (I only joined into the process a mere 20 years ago) has been working on this for well over thirty years. My file of Greg's drafts and notes is a good 18 inches thick. This work was weaved through Pendragon, Epic, Nephilim, Pendragon Pass, and had a huge impact on Pendragon Pass, King of Dragon Pass, HeroQuest 2, and HWG. Annoyingly, working out how the Runes could fit into this and thus solve the last mechanical hurdle only revealed itself to us last year. 

I hope it pans out. I'm still skeptical about this, but I'd be overjoyed to see RQ back out there on the shelves. Or at least available online.

Hmm, if there had been an internet back in the 80s we'd probably wouldn't have ended up with the Avalon Hill arrangement. 

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On 2/17/2016 at 11:57 AM, g33k said:

IIRC (I am away from my rulebook at the moment) RQ6 even has a sidebar on this topic, titled "The Head Again?  Really?" noting that it's an effective strategy and (based on archeological evidence) matched well with battlefield practice:  analysis of ancient-through-medieval battlefield burial mounds suggests that head-wounds were a leading cause of death...

did any one consider/try taking away the choice and making special effects a random result?

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5 hours ago, Mechashef said:

Will the system be a true D100 like RQ3 & BRP or a pseudo D100 system like the existing RQ2 where skills can generally only have values that are multiples of 5?

I remember reading that two characteristics would be added together for base skills, ala more recent versions of Runequest. That would yield non-multiples of 5. I don't know if that decision has been changed, but it seems unlikely.

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9 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

It would be if this were actually decades of work by said authors. Frankly, Greg, Steve and the rest have been doing other things for those decades. it's not like they've been toiling away on a new edition of RQ all those years, but couldn't get it finished, or published. Most they people haven't even been working for Chaosium in the last decade. Heck, how many of them have even played RQ (or any other RPG) together in the last decade?

And Greg and Steve were both involved in MRQ. So just having their names attached to this at this stage doesn't assure quality. Although, at least this time, I doubt anybody involved is going to tell Mr. Perrin that he doesn't know how to write an RPG.

I agree this has not been a long term project solely aimed at the new incarnation of RQ. Rather individuals in the team has played a lot of RQ and have a lot of experience with game design.

From what has been written about MRQ's development it would not be beyond the ability of Chaosium/Moon Design's to involve Greg and Steve (and the rest of the team) in a better and more productive way. Notably MRQI didn't have Steve's name in it, and only a 'Special Thanks' for Greg.

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13 minutes ago, jongjom said:

I agree this has not been a long term project solely aimed at the new incarnation of RQ. Rather individuals in the team has played a lot of RQ and have a lot of experience with game design.

From what has been written about MRQ's development it would not be beyond the ability of Chaosium/Moon Design's to involve Greg and Steve (and the rest of the team) in a better and more productive way. Notably MRQI didn't have Steve's name in it, and only a 'Special Thanks' for Greg.

Greg had no involvement at all in the MRQ rules beyond approving the license. The only publication Greg had any substantive feedback on was Dara Happa Stirs. Greg and I both scrambled to get the Middle Sea Empire and the History of the Heortling People ready for Robin as a resource for the Second Age, but Matt's deadline was too fast for us and by the time we finished, it was too late. Other than Dara Happa Stirs, I am pretty sure Greg never even looked at a single MRQ-related manuscript.

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5 hours ago, Aelwyn said:

I remember reading that two characteristics would be added together for base skills, ala more recent versions of Runequest. That would yield non-multiples of 5. I don't know if that decision has been changed, but it seems unlikely.

It would be possible to square that circle. Example (and only an example and off the top of my head at that)

Manipulate (Dex+Int-15) x5% would give 5% increments, sum of two characteristics, mean score of 25%* and only require one calculation per skill category rather than one per skill**

Whether any of those or priorities for the new/old design team of course I have no idea

* which seems about the level of competence for RQII characters

** which matters to me but probably not to many others

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6 hours ago, eyraud said:

did any one consider/try taking away the choice and making special effects a random result?

I like the idea of the combat effects (and similar parallel-evolved house rules floating around on t'net) specifically that I didn't have to take a big skill penalty to try anything other than just hack at my foe's trunk

I just think that there were too many options, and that may have slowed things down

But just as I don't like using Strike Ranks I can see that having a list of Special Effects (effects that happen on a Special) to choose from would not be hard to include

 

In fact I can forsee two simple bullet points in the new rules along the lines of:

STRIKE RANKS

If you and your group find the concept of Strike Ranks too fiddly then simply let characters act in descending order of DEX

 

SPECIAL EFFECTS

If you and your group find the Impale/Slash/Crush rules for Special attacks too restrictive simply allow players to choose one from this short list

<Short List>

 

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12 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

It would be if this were actually decades of work by said authors. Frankly, Greg, Steve and the rest have been doing other things for those decades. it's not like they've been toiling away on a new edition of RQ all those years, but couldn't get it finished, or published.

Maybe, but that doesn't mean it's just a quick few-months-rush-job either. We've been told that the documents that Chaosium now possess include a large amount of work that had been done to "improve" RQ2 that wasn't incorporated into RQ3 for various reasons. So it would appear to be true that there is much unpublished work that has been carried out over a period of decades, based on RQ2.

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The question I have to ask, which is adjunct to a similar question I put to The Design Mechanism some months ago, is why did Moon Design only actually go for the RuneQuest IP now, in the aftermath of the Chaosium takeover? That is, if the Moon Design team and other interested parties were passionate about doing RuneQuest right, then why didn't they jump at the IP license when Issaries first got it back in 2006 (or thereabouts)? Why let it go to Mongoose and then to The Design Mechanism, allowing the system to evolve as it had, while pushing the refrain that the better system for Glorantha was HeroQuest instead? 

In terms of the system development itself, I think the main motivation for me to buy it is to have a fully integrated game to go along with my Guide to Glorantha set. I do already have HeroQuest: Glorantha and for me it very much seems like the new RuneQuest game is a sort of amalgamation of ideas from it, Classic RuneQuest and a sprinkling of Pendragon to boot. It's a shame that there is no room for the combat maneuvers from RQ6 as it was the chief innovation from that game, but I do accept that the major drive of the new game is to introduce key aspects of the setting as a priority and there really isn't much space left for detailed subsystems like these within the page count they want to go with. And actually, although I don't think it will ever happen, I do think that a D20 roll would be a better fit to the broader system than D100......

In short, I remain interested in the game, but I'm still uncomfortable with the circumstances surrounding the changeover from RQ6.

 

Edited by TrippyHippy

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The original decision to license RuneQuest to Mongoose was back in 2005 or 2006 (I'm not going to look up my file). Issaries had largely assigned publication of the HeroQuest line over to Moon Design. At that time, I was writing with Greg, but on a part-time basis. Greg and I had neither the time, the capital, or the interest to try to rebuild RuneQuest - we were focused entirely on Glorantha as a setting. On retrospect, giving the license to Mongoose was a gigantic mistake for a myriad of reasons that I am not going to go into here.
When Mongoose lost the license, the RuneQuest brand was frankly badly tarnished. Sales of MRQ products had dropped off dramatically after the initial rules book. And for other reasons, Greg and I were both extremely unhappy with the Mongoose relationship, which we both considered to be as bad if not worse than the Avalon Hill relationship.
Rick and I felt that we had our hands full just getting Glorantha on track and to deal with the collateral damage to that brand.
So when Loz and Pete asked for the RuneQuest license, we were glad to help them get it. We knew we wouldn't be able to do anything with it for several years and they were passionate about presenting the rules system they had developed without the awful Mongoose editing, layout, horrible art, and just general awfulness.
When Greg assigned over all the Glorantha and RuneQuest rights to Moon Design (back in 2013), Moon Design became the owner of RuneQuest and of all of Greg's notes, design ideas, unpublished campaigns, etc. It was an embarrassment of riches - and huge amounts of it worked its way into the Guide to Glorantha.
Greg wrote his material for the RuneQuest 2 rules in mind (or a variant like Epic), not for HeroQuest 2. So even though this was all statless, the seed of doing RuneQuest for Glorantha was very much in my head. The whole Moon Design team had been talking internally about this since we published the Guide, and it accelerated after we finished writing HeroQuest Glorantha.
It was a combination of GenCon, HeroQuest Glorantha, some of Greg's Nephelim notes, and then carefully rereading Epic, the Dragon Pass campaign, and Enclosure 1 that revealed the solution to working the Runes into the rules and made us realize that we could make the RuneQuest rules really work for Glorantha. Feverish work with Jason Durall and Chris Klug, and gigantic email discussions with Ken Rolston cemented it. Sandy presenting us with some 50 files of RQ rules material he had worked on was the icing on the cake.
But as the development process proceeded it became pretty clear that this was not RQ6, but the RQ4 (or even RQ3) that never was. So TDM and MD went their separate ways, and we expect they will do great stuff with their rules engine.
However, we've been feverishly moving forward. Decades of work from key collaborators - Greg, Sandy, Ken, David Dunham, Chris Klug, MOB, and myself - all have finally come together into a coherent and consistent package. But it was built off RQ2 (and to a lesser extent RQ3), not RQ6. We most recently brought on Steve to advise, counsel, and edit - particularly with regards to the combat mechanics.

Edited by Jeff
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8 hours ago, eyraud said:

did any one consider/try taking away the choice and making special effects a random result?

I haven't actually tried it, but I've been toying for a while with the idea of printing up Special Effect cards and dealing three or five (or maybe Combat Style divided by 20?) to each player, then have them select SEs out of their hand.  This was originally intended as a way to ease new players into the system and avoid the decision paralysis of having a dozen-plus options, but I could also see interpreting your hand as being the maneuvers that you're currently in a position to attempt and restricting SE choices to only those that you have the cards for.  This would also deal with the complaints some have had about players always choosing the same small number of SEs.

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8 hours ago, eyraud said:

did any one consider/try taking away the choice and making special effects a random result?

Yeah, I'd really like something like that. Why not steal that from the AGE system? If it is success and there is 11,22,33,44,xx, etc then trigger a random special effect? But I think it will be too rare case for my taste.

Anyway, I really would stress Chaosium to make the new RQ combat something special, because we have RQ6 with quite exciting combat mechanics. I'd prefer something faster and yet give the same amount narrative.

To me DCC is good example of all sorts of fun and exciting charts. I wish RQ had stuff like that - fumbles, corruptions, curses, magical side-effects, etc.

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10 hours ago, eyraud said:

did any one consider/try taking away the choice and making special effects a random result?

It would basically mean having a critical table as well as a fumble table, so in theory there's nothing there that would break the game (unless you don't like the fumble table). Maybe even a special table, to boot.

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In 2005-2006 Moon Design was my side job. I was a full time manager running a small IT firm, and traveling a fair bit for work. Moon Design had no employees, just wonderful part time volunteers doing great work for the love of the game. Issaries Inc. was really struggling. It didn't have any full time employees either. Neither Moon Design nor Issaries had the time, money, or resources to do RuneQuest properly then.

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18 hours ago, Mechashef said:

Will the system be a true D100 like RQ3 & BRP or a pseudo D100 system like the existing RQ2 where skills can generally only have values that are multiples of 5?

I did actually play RQ2 with some D&D players where we divided all the skills by 5 and rolled D20 instead of D100 and it worked ok (not great but ok)

I had the same insight a while back and considered running RQ2 with a D20 but 1) don't like D20s and 2) it screwed up crit calculations. That said, I am opposed to any rule that adds minute amounts to a skill/roll that don't noticeably impact play. A skill improvement of 1% or 2% is just an annoying bit of bookkeeping for no real gain. Go big or go home. :)

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On 14/2/2016 at 7:41 PM, Atgxtg said:

 

 

They could adapt the method Greg used for Prince Valiant. In that RPG characters could take traits. If they role played their traits they got extra glory points. Someone could make a trait and obsession (I think that was the term used, but it might have been passion) in which case they got double the glory award but HAD to play out the trait. 

 

Since RQ2 doesn't have Glory, per say, the award could be something else (a skill check, magic point, or some sort of cult based effect). For instance a Humakit who plays it honorably could get a bump up on his bladesharp spell. Or maybe rle-playing the trait could bypass the normal casting roll?

Thank you for pointing to this variant, I didn't knew it as I don't own Prince Valiant. I have heard a lot of praise about this game though.

I had two problems with the new RQ rules project: hit locations and Pendragon's traits.

I have enough BRP games to remove hit locations and pick the other rules I want to use.

I was more worried about the Pendragon's traits as I only know the Pendragon version. I now have a solution, thank you.

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On 2/17/2016 at 11:31 AM, K Peterson said:

When I ran MRQ2 a few years back (mixing in rules from an early version of RQ6), there seemed to be little agony of choice taking place. Players would use the same, favorite Special Effects over and over again, because they found them the most effective - damn cinematic variety. It was always a mix of Choose Location (head), Bypass Armour, and Maximize Damage. It became rather tiresome, but it was always an effective strategy that lead to their success in many combats.

It sounds like there simply weren't a variety of circumstances in combat. One thing the book talks about in the GM section is the idea that killing is not always a good idea. There may be serious social ramifications, for one thing. If you are trying to win a fight without leaving any corpses, the Special Effects you mention are about the worst you could pick. 

Sure, players will still have old standbys they fall back on most of the time. That's fine, but the options are there when you need them.

Lot's of RPGs have rules for disarms, called shots, and so on. They are buried in the book. On top of that, they all come with penalties attached to use them, so players are discouraged to use them. Having a list of SEs in front of the players, with rolls that actively prompts the players to use them seems more in line with the design principle of having everything in front of the player that the new edition aspires to. 

On 2/17/2016 at 2:57 PM, g33k said:

IIRC (I am away from my rulebook at the moment) RQ6 even has a sidebar on this topic, titled "The Head Again?  Really?" noting that it's an effective strategy and (based on archeological evidence) matched well with battlefield practice:  analysis of ancient-through-medieval battlefield burial mounds suggests that head-wounds were a leading cause of death...

It's also worth noting that if an NPC only has one section of their body armored, it will be the head, which can negate the benefit of the low HP total. The section also mentions Ward Location as a way for characters to dissuade blows to the head. 

7 hours ago, nDervish said:

I haven't actually tried it, but I've been toying for a while with the idea of printing up Special Effect cards and dealing three or five (or maybe Combat Style divided by 20?) to each player, then have them select SEs out of their hand.  This was originally intended as a way to ease new players into the system and avoid the decision paralysis of having a dozen-plus options, but I could also see interpreting your hand as being the maneuvers that you're currently in a position to attempt and restricting SE choices to only those that you have the cards for.  This would also deal with the complaints some have had about players always choosing the same small number of SEs.

I find the idea of using a table of random SEs to be a poor idea. As I mentioned, one of the benefits of SEs is that they allow players to choose more or less lethal tactics. If the decision between maximizing damage or tripping an opponent is random, important roleplaying decisions are removed from play. There is also the issue of SEs that require a critical or a particular weapon type. You would need to juggle multiple charts or do a lot of re-rolling. 

Cards could be an acceptable alternative. Players have at least some choice. You'd need to put a lot of thought into the card count per deck. Are all SEs going to have an equal chance of coming up? If there is only one of each card, impaling weapons are a lot less cool as they only can impale on the rare occasions that a player has the card when an SE comes up. With only three cards, it's easy to see situations where you have a hand that you simply can't use. Remember that of the 34 SEs, 22 are either solely offensive or defensive.  

Trying to fix the problem of players liking a handful of SEs seems a bad idea. It's saying, "Oh you like doing that, huh? Well, how about I take that away from you." You are much better off presenting combats that make other SEs more attractive than locking options down. 

As for new players, I think its a better idea to give them a small list of SEs, maybe five or so. These are handpicked to work with their weapons and be effective with their skills. At the same time, have the full list available to them. They can venture beyond the short list as they choose to. Having that small list means that you can be sure they know what each SE on the list does. With a hand of cards, new players are constantly being confronted with new SE, many of which will be poor choices, if they can use them at all. 

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1 hour ago, Baulderstone said:

It sounds like there simply weren't a variety of circumstances in combat. One thing the book talks about in the GM section is the idea that killing is not always a good idea. There may be serious social ramifications, for one thing. If you are trying to win a fight without leaving any corpses, the Special Effects you mention are about the worst you could pick. 

Sure, players will still have old standbys they fall back on most of the time. That's fine, but the options are there when you need them.

How do you define a variety of circumstances? The nature and layout of the 'battlefield'? The tactics deployed by the NPC antagonists? Circumstances such as surprise, ambush, and betrayal? Are you presuming that these were vanilla battles on same kind of chessboard where Character A steps forward to battle NPC A, and so on? I can assure you that they were not. They were quite tactical and 'cinematic' situations where a lot was going on and a lot of options were open to the characters.

This campaign took place within Xoth Publishing's Sword & Sorcery world of The Spider God's Bride. There wasn't a lot of moral ambiguity, or shades of grey, and the best way to deal with many threats was to kill them dead. (Especially Serpentmen wizards. Especially!). There was one situation where the character slayed an NPC who could have turned out to be an ally, and they paid a dear price for their blood-lust. But it did not change their Special Effects selection for the future. They found the most optimal SEs to use across a variety of combat situations, and many of the others were considered inefficient. Multiple copies of combat and SE documents were on the gaming table, but the options did not lead to any decision paralysis.

I ran a campaign following this adventure using RQ6 - and an adventure within Book of Quests - and these players utilized similar strategies and the same group of SE's. And they did very well against the challenges they faced, again. Other gaming groups may have other tendencies - but those leveraging some aspect of player-skill will probably latch on to those SEs which prove to be most efficient tactically.

I'd agree that it is great to have options available, and sound rules for the resolution of these options. Personally, SEs did not work that well for me, and I don't find them to be the godsend of cinematic combat resolution that many profess them to be. If they work well for you, stellar.

Edited by K Peterson
Cleaning up grammar and typos
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1 hour ago, K Peterson said:

How do you define a variety of circumstances? The nature and layout of the 'battlefield'? The tactics deployed by the NPC antagonists? Circumstances such as surprise, ambush, and betrayal? Are you presuming that these were vanilla battles on same kind of chessboard where Character A steps forward to battle NPC A, and so on? I can assure you that they were not. They were quite tactical and 'cinematic' situations where a lot was going on and a lot of options were open to the characters.

Sorry. It sounds as if I was coming off as accusing you of not playing the game right, and that really wasn't my objective. I've read enough of your posts to respect you as a fellow fan of the game. 

"Circumstances" really isn't the best word either. My point was that Special Effects can really come into their own when they players need a victory that isn't based on killing people. I've read through Book of Quests, and I can't recall if that is something that comes up or not. 

I could go on, I'm not really looking to convert you. It's really more of a case of me wanting to explain why I like Special Effects. It's not so much an argument as a counterpoint. Based on everything I have heard, it seems like Special Effects will be easy to drop into the new edition it I want them. Sorry once again if I came off as confrontational. 

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4 hours ago, Corvantir said:

Thank you for pointing to this variant, I didn't knew it as I don't own Prince Valiant. I have heard a lot of praise about this game though.

I had two problems with the new RQ rules project: hit locations and Pendragon's traits.

I have enough BRP games to remove hit locations and pick the other rules I want to use.

I was more worried about the Pendragon's traits as I only know the Pendragon version. I now have a solution, thank you.

What problem do you have with Hit Locations? They've been part of RQ since the beginning. In fact, I think RQ was the first RPG to get away from generic hit point.

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Last night I was reading RQ2 for the first time in decades, and man there's a lot of stuff that seems weird now.  A "Defense Score" subtracted from all attempts to hit?  No "Dodge" skill?  (Granted, Dodge in some d100 variants can get a little unrealistic: what sort of contortionist can avoid three separate attacks?)  Like @Harshax I hope they keep more modern innovations: skill contests over the Resistance Table, hit locations or total HP but not both at the same time, experience rolls front and center, and maybe a light-weight version of Special Effects for critical hits.  (Granted, I only ran MRQII once, but Maneuvers did seem a little fiddly, and Special Effects look to my untrained eye like the same thing.)

Also, I'd rather see Strike Ranks increasing than decreasing, i.e. higher Strike Ranks are faster, and turns count down from the highest down to zero.  It's just something I've gotten used to from DEX ranks and other games' Initiative systems.

Edited by fmitchell

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Not that anyone asked, but my two Clacks on Hit Locations: I go back and forth between that and the Major Wound table.  On the one hand, hit locations are more visceral and more specific.  On the other hand, the probabilities of each location should depend on the weapon used, the distance between fighters, the stance (e.g. one shoulder forward), etc., so it's not exactly "realistic".  On the third hand, it's a game, so arbitrary probabilities of a body part are no better or worse than arbitrary probabilities of a Major Wound effect.  On the fourth hand, it is extra bookkeeping.

TL;DR: it would be nice if hit locations were optional in RuneQuest 2+i, but as it's "tradition" I'm not really expecting it.

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