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Designing the new RQ - Part 8: Jumping into the setting with Family Background


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I think people are getting too worked up over something that's ultimately optional.

I too find it straitjacketing people into Dragon Pass, but I've been farting around that place for 30 years, I'm bored of it.  BUT I'M NOT A NEW PLAYER.  I already have "character concepts" and lore-history all ready-at-hand for myself and my players.

I think this is:

1) a great, optional tool for new DM's and players to engage with (far more interesting than simply reading) the last 100+ years of recent history in the region while making characters, as well as giving new players some sort of rudder for how their character acts to prevent the 'paralyzed by too many options' thing that sometimes hits new players, AND

2) a template for the always-contributory RQ/Glorantha community to generate comparable tables for other places (not to say Chaosium couldn't put out more regional sourcebooks as well).  

Personally, I'd still possibly use it for new players to the game.  

As long as the quick-gen system allows comparable bonuses/deficits to be gained and quick-gen toons aren't somehow penalized, then I'm all for more textured detail like this.

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2 hours ago, Mankcam said:

Interesting to see Paul Jaquays name on something like this so many years ago, although I shouldn't be surprised

 

Yeah, Paul did a small version in one of JG's magazines, and then years later did some books whick expanded the whole lifepath thing. 

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One thing I'm wondering about is how would this work for games set in a different time of place? Are there going to be guidelines to help GMs create family background for other cultures and dates? For instance, what if smebody runs a Praxian or Lunar campaign?

 

The concept worked in Pendragon because the campaign is Arthurian Britain. But if it is going to be applied to RQ, then are we going to have a "set" campaign timeline like in Pendragon? In the past things were rather freeform. Yes, there was a story and timeline, but it wasn't really pushed with RQ, while in Pendragon, it dominates the campaign.  

 

Oh, and where the concept broke down in Pendragon was when PCs wrote up characters from other cultures. In Pendragon, if someone was French or Saxon, the whole family background stuff was not really usable. That wasn't too big a deal in Pendragon, but considering how mand skills and passions it affect in RQ, it could put "foreign" PCs at a big disadvantage. 

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Tell me that you've had it play tested by a new GM, who does not know Glorantha, for a new group of players who do not know Glorantha or the D100 system. 

The biggest concern I have with a new RQ is whether or not it's approachable. I remember RQ2 as being a really fun game with this great background of plucky barbarians, an evil empire, and a bunch of easy to understand Gods that kind of felt like classes in other game, except so much better. HQ Gloranthan materials, on the other hand, often leave me feeling like I'm in a test and I haven't read the material. There are ways to make Glorantha very approachable--the merchant's travelogue in Cults of Prax comes to mind, but I feel like that hasn't been the direction that Glorantha has been heading in for a very long time.

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On 6/12/2016 at 6:30 AM, smiorgan said:

**JOKE MODE ON**

 Can your maternal grandfather die in chargen before your mother was conceived?

**JOKE MODE OFF**

Impressive tool for a Pendragonesque Dragon Pass campaign. Very immersive.

I'd like also to have an alternative option for quick chargen to accommodate different play styles and the possibility of zero-to-hero for those who like it. Sometimes one just wants to fight baboons off Gringle's pawnshop and start worrying about ancestors, picking up passions, later in the campaign.

Just my two cents.

 

OMG my mind is arleady twirling around a Lunar chronomancer campaign where the players mother was born after her owm mother had already died.  Everyone knows it is impossible, but in a chronomancer family, these things happen.

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7 hours ago, Jeff said:

That is in fact one of the goals - I would love to see plenty of official and fanmade variants of this for different homelands, even different tribes. 

It depends how quickly Chaosium can churn out a large enough official variants. Probably not fast enough.

Fan made? Great for immersed knowledgeable fans with time spare to create these homelands. But for relatively new fan (or those not with the inclination to do this work) this could be somewhat of a barrier to entry.

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On 6/12/2016 at 10:29 AM, pachristian said:

Let me get this straight: I am trying to teach a new player to play RQ.

The first thing they are asked to do is to make up two stories of life and adventure that they then do not get to play? I'm going to ask a player to spend an hour writing background for their character, in an unfamiliar world and an unfamiliar mythology before they can even start making their character? That's a lot of work and investment to ask a player to start with.

I don't think I can sell that to a new player. 

I need them to be able to jump in, play, and THEN start learning the world and the mythology.

Sorry, this just doesn't sound very new-player-friendly. They need to start in media res - in other words, do stuff first, fill in backstory later.

I take it you've never played Traveller.  Rolling up the character is like playing an adventure itself.  People LOVE Traveller because of that.  Of course, it's all modular, so you aren't forced to do use that part of the game, but you should definitely give it a try.

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Jeff:

As a guy who's never played in Glorantha, what you've described sounds awesome!  I love the idea of quickly sketching out details of family and the important regional events those family experienced in order to set my own characters' experiences and attitudes.  Great idea!  

Also, I'm looking forward to learning more.... 

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11 minutes ago, Pentallion said:

I take it you've never played Traveller.  Rolling up the character is like playing an adventure itself.  People HATE Traveller because of that.

Fixed it for ya!

More seriously:  I always thought the original LBB version -- wherein "your character has died; start over" could genuinely result during chargen -- was beyond stupid (I always treated it as "null result -- roll again" (or if I was feeling generous, "pick whatever you want")), and I know some people, equally-appalled but more bound by a "the dice fall where they may" ethos, who wouldn't play Traveller because of it.

So while I do enoy Traveller's "chargen mini-game," and have respect and even admiration for this (possibly the grand-daddy of all "Lifepath" chargen systems?), I also lump it in with other diced/random systems in having all the same flaws of those systems.

 

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Been gaming for 35 years and can honestly say I've NEVER met anyone who hated Traveller.  But we're getting sidetracked.

I think the RQ background idea will help new players get immersed, not hinder them.  Of course, until we actually see it in action, we won't know, but in concept it sounds like a great addition to the game.

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54 minutes ago, jongjom said:

It depends how quickly Chaosium can churn out a large enough official variants. Probably not fast enough.

Fan made? Great for immersed knowledgeable fans with time spare to create these homelands. But for relatively new fan (or those not with the inclination to do this work) this could be somewhat of a barrier to entry.

We'll have to see how involved the prep-work and the presentation.  I could see a relatively-simple layout that let fan-made material (of sufficient accuracy and adequate overall quality) get polished and presented by Chaosium (e.g. in a Monograph-like format) relatively easily/cheaply...  Once there was a sufficient number of cultural/regional Monographs, they could be collected/completed as (for example) "The Esrolian Family Background Pack," etc...

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7 minutes ago, Pentallion said:

Been gaming for 35 years and can honestly say I've NEVER met anyone who hated Traveller.  But we're getting sidetracked.

I think the RQ background idea will help new players get immersed, not hinder them.  Of course, until we actually see it in action, we won't know, but in concept it sounds like a great addition to the game.

I haven't met many who actually said they "hated" Traveller, it's true... 3, iirc.  And I met Travller in... errrr... 1980/1981, not sure which.   4th RPG system that I played.

But I've met a few more (10ish?) who literally refused to chargen-as-written:  if the GM mandated 'by the book, including "you died," results' they wouldn't play.  Now, refusing to join an otherwise-loved activity, with friends they otherwise liked playing with, because of this one thing... that's awfully close, for me, to "hating" that thing.

But you're right -- this is a sidetrack!  I have *got* to presume that the oft-mocked stupidity of "your character dies during character-generation" is not a stupidity we'll see in this version of RQ!  And I also agree that this DOES seem like a great immersion-tool for character-building!  Even the Gloranthan grognards, I expect, will wind up with deeper characters after going through this -- after all, they bring more depth to this version of chargen, too!

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41 minutes ago, g33k said:

We'll have to see how involved the prep-work and the presentation.  I could see a relatively-simple layout that let fan-made material (of sufficient accuracy and adequate overall quality) get polished and presented by Chaosium (e.g. in a Monograph-like format) relatively easily/cheaply...  Once there was a sufficient number of cultural/regional Monographs, they could be collected/completed as (for example) "The Esrolian Family Background Pack," etc...

Officially endorsed fan material could accelerate the process, but this will still take quite a bit of time I would imagine.

What might help is some kind of layout of events as done with Dragons Past (DW28, WF15 page 53) where they had the table of events ('Army Activity by Homeland') with each row being a year and each column a homeland. You can then quickly compare events for each homeland over time, and compare across the region. This could present a quick fire way for Chaosium could get the basic back history out there (as well as a quick was for players to get through CharGen).

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Hell, I could pretty easily see an online DB of events, where X event took place in year Y, and is relevant to characters in zones A, B, C, D, and E.

Run the 'family background' engine, pick your homeland, and it could then pull up a generated immediate family background (and tally of summarized passions, etc) relevant to your starting zone.  You could even say "mom was a lunar, dad was from prax" if you wanted that much player control on the process.

Aside from filling the database with events, and thinking up a robust set of variables that could be used to filter (ie 'for THIS event players of THAT species/gender will have specific result Z') it's not even logically very complex.

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23 minutes ago, styopa said:

Hell, I could pretty easily see an online DB of events, where X event took place in year Y, and is relevant to characters in zones A, B, C, D, and E.

Run the 'family background' engine, pick your homeland, and it could then pull up a generated immediate family background (and tally of summarized passions, etc) relevant to your starting zone.  You could even say "mom was a lunar, dad was from prax" if you wanted that much player control on the process.

Aside from filling the database with events, and thinking up a robust set of variables that could be used to filter (ie 'for THIS event players of THAT species/gender will have specific result Z') it's not even logically very complex.

If you have a database with the events, you have the backbone for an app/webservice. Creating guidelines for expanding the database for other cultures or even other settings isn't that hard, either. Something like this makes a good promotional tool, too.

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9 hours ago, Pentallion said:

I take it you've never played Traveller.  Rolling up the character is like playing an adventure itself.  People LOVE Traveller because of that.  Of course, it's all modular, so you aren't forced to do use that part of the game, but you should definitely give it a try.

Only about 3 campaigns over 4-5 years. 

And I never met anyone who "loved" randomly rolling their character history. I met plenty who loved starting out with an experienced character.

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Although there are similarities with the Traveler life-path, what will be in the new RQ is much closer to what is in Pendragon. And the player always has the option of picking the event their character or ancestor participated in and even the result of that event. The rules emphasize that the gamemaster and player should be willing to improvise, modify, discard, or otherwise manipulate the results of the Family History table in the interest of creating a more interesting or relevant background for the adventurer.

The purpose of the Family History is to be a pedagogical tool to help with character creation and player immersion into the setting. It is NOT intended to be a straightjacket. 

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As someone who has a long history with BRP (mainly stormbringer and CoC), but never really got into Glorantha, I really like the idea of getting into the setting by means of a lifepath character creation. I own the big, two-volume Guide to Glorantha, but it doesn't really help getting into the setting from an rpg perspective ... it may be a great work of fictional mythology, but offers little entry points for the uninitiated.

Having a new RQ tied to Glorantha is pretty much the one thing that really keeps me interested in this new edition; rules-wise, I'm happy with picking and choosing from RQ6, OpenQuest and Renaissance, but having an RPG with Glorantha as an in-built setting that, hopefully, will show me how to use this setting in an actual game ...

I really hope this new RQ will work for me; I like most of what I'm reading (no zero-to-hero, lifepath creation, runes as character traits).

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1 hour ago, Jakob said:

As someone who has a long history with BRP (mainly stormbringer and CoC), but never really got into Glorantha, I really like the idea of getting into the setting by means of a lifepath character creation. I own the big, two-volume Guide to Glorantha, but it doesn't really help getting into the setting from an rpg perspective ... it may be a great work of fictional mythology, but offers little entry points for the uninitiated.

Having a new RQ tied to Glorantha is pretty much the one thing that really keeps me interested in this new edition; rules-wise, I'm happy with picking and choosing from RQ6, OpenQuest and Renaissance, but having an RPG with Glorantha as an in-built setting that, hopefully, will show me how to use this setting in an actual game ...

I really hope this new RQ will work for me; I like most of what I'm reading (no zero-to-hero, lifepath creation, runes as character traits).

Jakob -

That is exactly the point of it. It is intended to be an entry point that also introduces some major Gloranthan figures and event (at least awareness of them) to the player at the start of character generation. And given that the new default setting is 1627, your character is going to be aware of quite a few major events (Great Winter, Pennel Ford, Jaldon's Return, Liberation of Pavis, Dragonrise, the Tarshite Civil War, and the Liberation of Sartar to name a few) that might have a huge influence on what sort of character you might want to play.

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