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Can BRP really do fantasy?


slimyroleplaying

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While it could be said that wizards are more powerful than fighters...generally what happens in fantasy is that fighters get magical weapons eventually...thus magic is used to buff up fighters as well as magic users.

With the advent of D&D3E, that difference got smaller as fighters could now get all sorts of damage increasing feats. That difference has shrunk to insignificance withD&D4E since all the classes have plenty of powers that work to boost their...um...power.

For BRP...it depends heavily on the setting. In Elric/Stormbringer, almost everyone has magic so, it doesn't really matter.

In Call of Cthulhu, magic users are usually NPC's or almost insane PC's...so it evens out a bit.

In other genres...BRP models reality quite well...using each spell as a skill really keeps that powerful but limited "magic user" genre.

-STS

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For BRP...it depends heavily on the setting. In Elric/Stormbringer, almost everyone has magic so, it doesn't really matter.

They do? I must have been playing a very different game then. Traditionally, in Elric/Stormbringer, sorcery is the preserve of that handful of sorcerers mad enough to risk the soul and sanity destroying power of sorcery. Just about everyone else gives magic a very wide berth...

In Elric! there are some low-level spells available to all, but they're heavily caveated and come with penalties in the form of creeping Chaos points. In MRQ's Elric, magic is heavily restricted, very powerful, and takes its toll very quickly. You literally need to bargain your soul in exchange for power. The sensible characters steer well clear of it.

The Design Mechanism: Publishers of Mythras

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I've read that powered characters often are too powerful when compared to non-powered characters.

So if this is the case, can it be said that in a fantasy campaign, wizards won't work well with fighters?

Can D&D 1E do fantasy? Wizards were immensely powerful at high levels compared to fighters. The balance was that they were incredibly fragile and needed the support of all characters to make it to those high levels.

RQ implemented such things as subtracting enc from spellcasting rolls, which is where we get the phrase 'Lets get naked and make magic.' [ahem, at least from an RPG perspective]

And don't forget Realism Rule # 1 "If you can do it in real life you should be able to do it in BRP". - Simon Phipp

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I've read that powered characters often are too powerful when compared to non-powered characters.

So if this is the case, can it be said that in a fantasy campaign, wizards won't work well with fighters?

Quick question for you, have you ever read a fantasy novel where the wizards were balanced with the non wizards? Which definition of fantasy are you using? IMHO BRP can be balanced, but personally Im not concerned either way.

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BRP can do fantasy very well and versions of it have done for years.

Magic Users are not particularly powerful or weak compared to other people.

Don't forget that BRP doesn't have Classes, so anyone who is able to learn magic can do, cultural and religious taboos notwithstanding, and anyone who can pick up a sword can use it, so the lines between Magic User and Fighter are very blurred.

Having said that, there are Professions that tend to steer people towards certain roles, so someone who has Soldier as a profession is more likely to be a fighter than someone with Wizard as a profession.

BRP Magic Users tend to use Power Points (PPs) to fuel their spells, so are limited by how many PPs they have available to them. They are also limited by the scope of the spells, which tend to be more personal and affect smaller areas than the equivalent spells in, say, D&D. So, BRP Magic Users tend to be less powerful than those in other RPGs.

In settings such as Glorantha almost everyone has magic of one kind or another, so the distinction between Magic User and Fighter is almost non-existent. In settings such as the Young Kingdoms the Magic Users tend to be powerful NPCs or struggling PCs and the distinction is more pronounced.

But, as far as balance goes, BRP seems well suited to a Fantasy game.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Don't forget that BRP doesn't have Classes, so anyone who is able to learn magic can do, cultural and religious taboos notwithstanding, and anyone who can pick up a sword can use it, so the lines between Magic User and Fighter are very blurred.

Id say that's entirely dependant on the GM and the world. I for example used to RQ3 in my own (ex D&D) campaign world and made it so that any non wizard or priest that wanted to learn magic had to roll POWx1 or less to have a talent for it, otherwise that PC would never be able to learn it.

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I've read that powered characters often are too powerful when compared to non-powered characters.

So if this is the case, can it be said that in a fantasy campaign, wizards won't work well with fighters?

I am having trouble connecting the above query with the subject line.

What do the two have to do with each other? Party balance is not

required for Fantasy RPGs.

-V

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If anything, BRP does a better conan style of magic. Magic is powerful and deadly, but a well placed ax can still take down the high priest of a snake cult, or the avatar of dark arachnid gods.

And don't forget Realism Rule # 1 "If you can do it in real life you should be able to do it in BRP". - Simon Phipp

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The question is one of degree.

If it hadn't have been specified in the text, I wouldn't have thought much about it, but the book does mention the difficulties of running campaigns with powered and non-powered types together.

If the difference between wizards is similar that in games like AD&D, then well, I'm not overly worried. But if the difference -is as mentioned in the rpg book- something that has to be addressed, then I'm not sure I'd choose this system to play a fantasy game.

Once again, I haven't read in detail regarding this issue.

That said, I'd love to run some old TSR D&D modules using this system, and wonder if it'd be a good choice for this style of fantasy.

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That said, I'd love to run some old TSR D&D modules using this system, and wonder if it'd be a good choice for this style of fantasy.

I have a long standing desire to run Tomb of Horrors with BRP. The set up would be that the PCs would each have a high level character. These are the the people organizing the raid into the ToH. Next, I would have a large group of NPCs that I had rolled up ahead of time that the PCs had recruited for the excursion. Each given NPC can be controlled by any player.

My thought is that it would turn into a bit of a resource management game as the players decide which NPC to run and if they want to risk their high level character in the tombs. I've never had the time to run it though.

And, yes, BRP does fantasy very well.

70/420

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The question is one of degree.

If it hadn't have been specified in the text, I wouldn't have thought much about it, but the book does mention the difficulties of running campaigns with powered and non-powered types together.

I believe that statement was made with respect to supers and non-supers,

and has to do with scale.

If the difference between wizards is similar that in games like AD&D, then well, I'm not overly worried. But if the difference -is as mentioned in the rpg book- something that has to be addressed, then I'm not sure I'd choose this system to play a fantasy game.

Yes, when talking fantasy, the difference between spellcasters and non-spellcasters

is similar to D&D.

Once again, I haven't read in detail regarding this issue.

That said, I'd love to run some old TSR D&D modules using this system, and wonder if it'd be a good choice for this style of fantasy.

I have used BRP to run a Dark Sun/Athas game, where everyone can just

about use psionics, but those that really practice psionics and sorcery

can become tremendous powers.

I am also working on my SkyRealms of Jorune conversion where Isho

users can certainly overpower non-users if not held in check by the

gamesetting (i.e. laws restricting use and penalties that are enforced).

-V

Edited by vagabond
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The question is one of degree.

If it hadn't have been specified in the text, I wouldn't have thought much about it, but the book does mention the difficulties of running campaigns with powered and non-powered types together.

If the difference between wizards is similar that in games like AD&D, then well, I'm not overly worried. But if the difference -is as mentioned in the rpg book- something that has to be addressed, then I'm not sure I'd choose this system to play a fantasy game.

Once again, I haven't read in detail regarding this issue.

That said, I'd love to run some old TSR D&D modules using this system, and wonder if it'd be a good choice for this style of fantasy.

I'm currently running a fantasy based BRP game and I have encountered the exact concern you are asking about.

From a balance perspective, I think that the systems that require skill points to buy the spells are the most 'balanced' and if running an 'old school' style game, you'd probably want to stick with one of those (wizardry or Psionics). Bare in mind that the Wizards will eventually (quite quickly I've found) run out of power points, unless they are using their Magic for Buffing (which is statistically a much better cost to gain ratio for them than direct damage spells which are fairly weak and expensive). People used to raining death with fireballs may well be disappointed that they just blew all their PP for the day only to have the bad guy dodge.

The problem with Sorcery is that, while the individual powers are only moderate in power, even a beginning Sorcerer who rolls lucky (or assigns his high stat to POW) starts with so many spells. It's a 'luck of the draw' style of 'balance' (which is to say, it's not really balance at all, but rather simulationism at it's harshest). Your players will need to be ok with the idea that one of them might win the lotto and simply be 'better' than the rest with no cost to their resources (i.e. skill points). I think you also have to be very harsh about dice rolls, so that if someone gets it, it's because they 'earned' it. It works well for certain kinds of settings, but I don't think it would suit what you are looking for.

The other issue isn't one of 'balance' but of options. In my campaign I had only a single player who opted to not have some sort of mystical ability (I have a wide mix in my campaign, including some home brew and stuff from RQ, etc). So I had a 'Tank' fighter. He consistently complained that he didn't get to do anything 'cool' whenever a fight rolled around (which wasn't as often as he wanted because the other characters were predominantly rogue/social builds and wanted to talk past or avoid as many encounters as possible). So if you have players who are used to having lots of tactical options (ala 3rd/4th ed d&d) you may have your work cut out for you. I hate to say it, but the player has currently gone on 'hiatus' and since it's been three sessions, I doubt he'll be back. But most of the other players seem to love the game.

To be fair, I'm not hugely in love with the magic systems in BRP (except Sorcery, but that's because I loved it in Elric!). I think they are serviceable, but have some definite flaws (for one, I hate how weak and easily avoided direct damage spells are). Obviously, the same can be said about any game's magic system. I do think that the game handles fairly gritty fantasy well (think 1-7th levels in old school 1st ed dnd terms). I wouldn't use it to run games of 20+ level characters, unless you use the superhero rules! :)

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From a balance perspective, I think that the systems that require skill points to buy the spells are the most 'balanced' and if running an 'old school' style game, you'd probably want to stick with one of those (wizardry or Psionics). Bare in mind that the Wizards will eventually (quite quickly I've found) run out of power points, unless they are using their Magic for Buffing (which is statistically a much better cost to gain ratio for them than direct damage spells which are fairly weak and expensive). People used to raining death with fireballs may well be disappointed that they just blew all their PP for the day only to have the bad guy dodge.

Yes, a skill-based generation system means that players have to focus on what is important to them, at least at the start. So, a magic user would have spent on magic skills and spells but would not be very good at much else, a fighter could be good at weapon skills, a scout could be good at wilderness survival skills and so on.

Power Point limitations are the biggest levellers in regards to balance - if the GM wants to hold back magic users then he should limit the amount of stored PPs available. That way, magic users, as you said, quickly run out of juice and have to rely on their wits.

The other issue isn't one of 'balance' but of options. In my campaign I had only a single player who opted to not have some sort of mystical ability (I have a wide mix in my campaign, including some home brew and stuff from RQ, etc). So I had a 'Tank' fighter. He consistently complained that he didn't get to do anything 'cool' whenever a fight rolled around (which wasn't as often as he wanted because the other characters were predominantly rogue/social builds and wanted to talk past or avoid as many encounters as possible). So if you have players who are used to having lots of tactical options (ala 3rd/4th ed d&d) you may have your work cut out for you. I hate to say it, but the player has currently gone on 'hiatus' and since it's been three sessions, I doubt he'll be back. But most of the other players seem to love the game.

This is a problem with any game. You can have characters sitting around not doing much.

In the game I am playing in at the moment I play a were-deer who is really useful in the wilderness but completely out of his depth in towns and the other PCs are Trader Princes who are at home in towns but put of their depths in the wilderness. So, there are times where I sit back and offer a supporting role and times where I lead.

Back to your example, there's a few things someone can do in that kind of situation. Not all combats can be talked around or avoided. If you let people talk their way out of every combat then you are depriving people of the joys of cracking heads. Sure, let them be clever and avoid some combat but there should be times when they are attacked or have to attack and get stuck in.

The player complained that his character didn't get to do anything cool in combat? What do you mean by that? Did he want to try exotic and challenging tactics and was told he couldn't? Did he want special abilities that he could use in combat? Did he want to swashbuckle all the while? Sometimes it is a good idea to improvise in a given situation and let players try new things to see how they work and how they pan out. That way, everyone has fun, which is the whole point of playing RPGs.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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RANDOM COMMENTS

RQ3 seems very close to the D&D 1E style of magic vs. arms. Sorcerers could grow incredibly powerful. They could make their own PP matrix, use MP crystals, or invest in Familiars. But like dedicated magic users in other game systems, had many DEX based skills (eg. weapons) limited to a maximum of DEX x3%, and had their spellcasting skills reduced by encumbrance (eg. armor worn).

RQ3 lacked most flash-Bang! spells. The flashiest being shapechange <species> to <species>. So even with the above limitations, many sorcerers; at least in my game; became combat monsters - with boosts to DEX, SIZ, CON, Damage Resistance, and Damage Boosting. Which led me to add flash-Bang! spells so sorcerers would have something else to do with their MP besides stepping on the melee-type's toes. I drew several of these from Sandy Peterson's Sorcery Rules, although I did not implement his alternate rules completely.

The biggest equalizer in RQ3 was permanent POW expenditure, and time to cast spells. POW acquisition is usually the primary motivation of spellcasters, both for overcoming an opponents POW, and for permanently expending for the creation of various enchantments or familiars. Powerful spells took time to cast; 1SR per MP; or in the case of vanilla BRP -1 DEX per Level of the spell. BRP also limits spell Levels to 1/2 INT, which can be both more and less restrictive than the rules found in RQ3.

Drawing from Savage Worlds, one could implement the concept of 'Trappings'. By altering the flavor text of spells, you can allow martial type characters the ability to invoke magic-like abilities. This is one way to expand the abilities of non-magical characters without having to bolt on a new rules subsystem, or add exhaustive lists of new kewl powerz. Incidentally, this concept was partially appropriated by the authors of 4E.

In Savage Worlds, for example, there is the spell, 'Blast'. This is your typical fireball. The martial-arts mystics of Deadlands also have access to the Blast power, but instead of being a ranged attack that creates a ball of flame, it is described as a vicious flurry of blows to all opponents in a 20' radius, centered on the mystic.

In this way the magical spell 'Healing', can become the non-magical ability 'Second-Wind'. Both use the same mechanics, but 'Second-Wind' can only affect yourself.

Edited by Harshax

And don't forget Realism Rule # 1 "If you can do it in real life you should be able to do it in BRP". - Simon Phipp

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Yes, a skill-based generation system means that players have to focus on what is important to them, at least at the start. So, a magic user would have spent on magic skills and spells but would not be very good at much else, a fighter could be good at weapon skills, a scout could be good at wilderness survival skills and so on.

Not all magic systems in BRP work that way, which was what I was saying. Sorcery costs nothing in terms of character focus, for example.

This is a problem with any game. You can have characters sitting around not doing much.

In the game I am playing in at the moment I play a were-deer who is really useful in the wilderness but completely out of his depth in towns and the other PCs are Trader Princes who are at home in towns but put of their depths in the wilderness. So, there are times where I sit back and offer a supporting role and times where I lead.

Back to your example, there's a few things someone can do in that kind of situation. Not all combats can be talked around or avoided. If you let people talk their way out of every combat then you are depriving people of the joys of cracking heads. Sure, let them be clever and avoid some combat but there should be times when they are attacked or have to attack and get stuck in.

Obviously, and I did this. But the player wasn't happy unless there was 1+ fight a session, which is entirely different. If you force the majority of players who want to avoid a fight into unavoidable encounters, you deprive them of the joys of trickery and stealth.

The player complained that his character didn't get to do anything cool in combat? What do you mean by that? Did he want to try exotic and challenging tactics and was told he couldn't? Did he want special abilities that he could use in combat? Did he want to swashbuckle all the while? Sometimes it is a good idea to improvise in a given situation and let players try new things to see how they work and how they pan out. That way, everyone has fun, which is the whole point of playing RPGs.

He wanted special abilities or tactical options, things go beyond the binary approach of 'hit/didn't hit'. Sadly, and I blame this on the player, he looks at the sheet and if he doesn't see rules presented there, he has a hard time conceptualizing what he can do beyond that. As a style of player, he's not alone or unique though.

Even with the spot rules, non-casters have a lot less to do in combat that is 'interesting' or mechanically effective, or represent any kind of special training or abilities for non-magic users. this isn't an issue for everyone, but for some, it is.

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:thumb:

Greg has said many wank things over the years, but this has to be the wankest.

There, put it right for you.

Much as I admire the man, we have all said stupid things and he's not immune.

One of sensible things he has said is, YGWMV.

Your game world (or Glorantha or whatever) may vary. Game balance or lack of it, is entirely up to you.

And BRP or runequest does both very well, and as has already been stated, it was talking about a superheros game.

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He wanted special abilities or tactical options, things go beyond the binary approach of 'hit/didn't hit'. Sadly, and I blame this on the player, he looks at the sheet and if he doesn't see rules presented there, he has a hard time conceptualizing what he can do beyond that. As a style of player, he's not alone or unique though.

I've seen that myself. Some people only try to do things that are written down in the rules rather than trying to do something and then working out what to roll afterwards.

Classic swashbuckling is the prime example - someone wants to swing across a street and land on an opponent but there isn't a rule for it in BRP so he doesn't bother whereas I would attempt it, make an argument to roll Jumping/Agility then SIZ vs SIZ or whatever.

Even with the spot rules, non-casters have a lot less to do in combat that is 'interesting' or mechanically effective, or represent any kind of special training or abilities for non-magic users. this isn't an issue for everyone, but for some, it is.

Mongoose's RQ has a lot more going for it with Legendary Abilities, which give more combat options/abilities than BRP has.

But, again. I'd always try something and then complain if the GM disallows it rather than not bother trying something in the first place.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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There, put it right for you.

Well, not really. Game balance is pretty much for pussies. If you can't live with the fact that your magician is better at drying opponents than you will ever be and that the thief can climb up a sheer wall and pick the pocket of a guard on the ramparts whereas your scout can only survive for days in the wilderness then tough.

Different PCs will be better at different things and this might seem unfair, in fact it might be unfair. Also tough.

Much as I admire the man, we have all said stupid things and he's not immune.

The worst thing he said was that PCs should retire when they reach Rune Level. Then that heroes (in HeroQuest) are taken out of the game when they learn Great Secrets. Not my cup of tea at all.

And BRP or runequest does both very well, and as has already been stated, it was talking about a superheros game.

Was it? I thought it was about powerful magic users in a fantasy game.

If the original point was about SuperHeroes then the point is pretty much moot anyway. In SuperHeroes games there are several ranks of characters: Super Heroes/Villains, Sidekicks/Henchmen and Everyone Else. Non-Powered characters come under the category of Everyone Else and cannot possibly even hope to compete with Super Heroes/Villians or even Sidekicks/Henchmen. So, once again it's tough.

In any case, BRP does not deal with Super Heroes very well. Of all the BRP games I have played/GMed Superworld was the most disappointing as BRP does not cope with using powers imaginatively to cope with other powers.

I ran a couple of Super Hero games at Continuum using a cut-down version of HeroQuest and I doubt whether I'll ever run a SuperHeroes game not using HeroQuest as the rules fit the genre very well indeed.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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