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Jason Durall

Summoning RuneQuest Gamemasters

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The Discovery Principle: Periodically challenge the players understanding of Glorantha by introducing them to new ideas. This builds on the feeling of reality and depth. Challenge an Orlanthi's understanding of Chaos by introducing them to a Broo Humakti RuneLord in a social setting where they have to interact favourably with it will help to remind them that the world is not black and white but shades of grey.

The Travel Principle: If you don't have time to prepare your next session or the players are becoming jaded with adventuring in the same region send them on a road trip. Make the healer they need be at a temple 3 days travel away or the creature they are hunting be on the run. The opportunities of introducing details about the world, social encounters and occasional combat can easily fill several sessions with minimal preparation.

The Grab and Go Principle: If you have regular protagonist groups in your game such as, trolls, horse barbarians, broo etc. Prepare a set of generic stats for a band with a couple of leader types and then laminate them. You only need the basic details as you can easily add different weapons or spells as you need them. You can then just grab these to use for a random encounter and mark on the sheets with a dry wipe market to use again

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On 9/22/2018 at 3:50 AM, Mechashef said:

The Reinforcements Principle: when still learning the game system, stage encounters where the enemies are weaker than you estimate they should be, but where they can bring in reinforcements if more challenge is desired. It is usually easier to add enemies during a battle than to remove them.

Good piece of advice, I find it useful to prepare about twice as many opponents as I think is need so that extras can be brought in as reinforcements. Also allow monsters escape routes and the ability to enter the combat from behind or to the side of the the players. If the players are breezing through the combat and you add the extra monsters, this adds to the drama of the encounter by giving the impression that the players have been out manoeuvred.

Edited by Gryphaea

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The Loomes Principle: Offer constant positive feedback and praise to players. Use short phrases such as 'excellent', 'brilliant' and 'love it'. It helps foster a co-operative attitude and the all important sense of fun.

 

*Benjamin Loomes is one of the DiceStorrmers, a group of Australian Role Players who stream. He has a real mastery of giving enthusiastic feedback and worth watching to see how he does it. [Full disclosure: He also works as a partner with Chaosium to produce the official soundboard for Cthulhu, I mention this in passing not plug the product].

Edited by Gryphaea
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19 minutes ago, Gryphaea said:

Good piece of advice, I find it useful to prepare about twice as many opponents as I think is need so that extras can be brought in as reinforcements.

I don't. I am a lazy GM who wings additional opposition, using one set of stats and allowing for modification of it depending on my wish to make this encounter more or less hard to win/survive. If I have to manage several unnamed trollkin, they will have small differences in equipment or magic as I put them down on a blank piece of paper. I record hits rather than hit points when dealing with mooks, and note hit location damage or destruction (and associated effects).

Protagonist level opposition will get the formal treatment, but mooks only become protagonists after player decisions make them so.

And then I will improvise, using a template for game mechanics, and my hopefully still awake imagination for making the former mook a memorable protagonist. Andy Serkis' representations of Smeagol and Dobby can serve as a good approximation for a trollkin wishing to ingratiate herself with her captors.

19 minutes ago, Gryphaea said:

Also allow monsters escape routes and the ability to enter the combat from behind or to the side of the the players. This means that if the players are breezing through the combat and you add the extra monsters, this adds to the drama of the encounter by giving the impression that the players have been out manoeuvred.

Another "mean trick" is to heal downed (and assumed subdued) foes back to activity. Player characters do this all the time. Healing is touch-based, but a supporting character with a sneaky allied spirit who knows spirit magic Heal can do a lot. Read "The Smell of a Rat" for use of allied spirits and sneaking magic past observers.

A sudden wave of Fanaticism among the mooks will put a scare on your players, too, and is a wise disengagement tactic for a villain. A variant of this is letting the target of a Morale spell (e.g. the standart of the unit) come into place belatedly.

 

I guess all of this comes down to 

Joerg's Efficiency Rule: Find the level of improvisation that allows you to run encounters smoothly with minimal lookup and book-keeping time.

With the caution corrolary: Do take your time to toss in this awesome magical effect by the book if you feel it is worth it, or if you fear that you put a dangerous precedent for your players to exploit.

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32 minutes ago, Gryphaea said:

The Loomes Principle: Offer constant positive feedback and praise to players. Use short phrases such as 'excellent', 'brilliant' and 'love it'. It helps foster a co-operative attitude and the all important sense of fun.

This is also a good approach for players, too. I'm more experienced than most of the players in my party, and I try to encourage or follow along with their shenanigans as often as doesn't feel suicidal (or wait til it reaches the point of whole-group frustration, like the guy with loot-grabby hands...).

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The HeroQuesting Principle: HeroQuests are not just for the magically powerful or the elite. Anyone can take part in a HeroQuest for any reason. Not every HeroQuest is a world-breaking one. Most HeroQuests support cattle raids, chaos-killing raids, troll-slaying raids, peace-making attempts and so on. Want to marry your childhood sweetheart but can't because people from your clan can't marry people from her clan? Use a HeroQuest. Want to break into an impregnable fortress? Use a HeroQuest.

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The three C's principle. Creativity, cooperation and civility. By providing a structure that requires respectful cooperation the gamesmaster creates an atmosphere where everyone feels that their contribution is integral to the story that unfolds.

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Survivability Tip:   Runequest is a dangerous game.  To avoid an unlucky dice roll prematurely ending a PCs career, it is best to quickly introduce into your campaign a means to resurrect characters. A magic item that can be recharged is best.  Constant death turns players off.  Death must always be an option, however.    Keep the tension great enough that they are always on the edge of their seats.  Characters who have survived by the skin of their teeth are more memorable.

Edited by Pentallion
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The Pot Luck Principle: Just like a meal where everyone brings the food, in an rpg everyone brings something to the table. It is always a good idea to work out what everyone brings and make sure that that isn't too much of one thing and not enough of another. Making use of people strengths and making sure everyone gets a chance to feel needed makes sure everyone has fun. Not taking the time to talk to your players and coordinating their expectations often leads to tensions and misunderstandings later on.

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Newt Newport's Principal of Player Centred Games: Your Game's Mythology starts with and is driven by the personal stories of the player characters, so keep the focus on that no matter which big deity they follow at the start and desire to emulate long term. Let your player's play like heroes and heroines, no matter how low the numbers on the character sheets are. When they gain a new magic item or ability, let them use it. Above all make sure it’s the player character's story and they are not overshadowed by powerful non-player characters.

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57 minutes ago, Newt said:

Newt Newport's Principal of Player Centred Games: Your Game's Mythology starts with and is driven by the personal stories of the player characters, so keep the focus on that no matter which big deity they follow at the start and desire to emulate long term. Let your player's play like heroes and heroines, no matter how low the numbers on the character sheets are. When they gain a new magic item or ability, let them use it. Above all make sure it’s the player character's story and they are not overshadowed by powerful non-player characters.

A piece of advice that I have found useful from Newts books has been; If as a GM you feel the need to give a bonus to player, make it worth it. Don't give a fiddly 5% or 10% give 25% or 50% so the player feels the difference.

Edited by Gryphaea

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4 hours ago, Gryphaea said:

A piece of advice that I have found useful from Newts books has been; If as a GM you feel the need to give a bonus to player, make it worth it. Don't give a fiddly 5% or 10% give 25% or 50% so the player feels the difference.

That could be a Petersen Principle - like the Quad Damage powerup in Quake. A game can either go for lots of small bonuses that add up, or a few really substantial ones. I think RQ suits the latter, but the game is flexible enough to work either way.

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On 9/21/2018 at 4:17 AM, Gryphaea said:

The Kermit Principle 'getting there is half the fun; come share it with me'.

There's no sharing. ;) 

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On ‎9‎/‎22‎/‎2018 at 11:55 AM, Pentallion said:

Survivability Tip:  Runequest is a dangerous game.  Random crits can kill even the toughest player.  The tension of this high risk game is one of its strongest attractions, but there is a price.  A high attrition rate not only slows down games rolling up new characters, it causes players to lose interest.  Balancing the tension of life or death struggle on the one hand and the need for character continuity on the other is the greatest challenge of a Runequest GM.  To ease this and allow character growth to not be nipped in the bud by an untimely roll of the dice, it is best to quickly introduce into your campaign a means to resurrect characters.  One of the first magic items the group should gain is something that can resurrect dead PCs.  Make sure they also have the social connections to recharge the item on holy days.  These social connections can then lead to plot hooks.   Death must always be an option, however.  Never let the players feel their characters are as good as immortal.  Keep the tension great enough that they are always on the edge of their seats.  Their characters become more important to them if they've survived by the skin of their teeth and such victories become memorable.

I do have to agree, Runequest is a dangerous game. In my campaign, I have had players take down a high power Vampire with one blow. This happened twice while I was gamemaster. A critical hit to the head for maximum damage will take out almost anybody.

In the classic game (2nd edition), the cults of Chalana Arroy and Seven Mothers have Resurrection as a reusable 3 pt Rune Spell, so Resurrection is possible. Not sure about other editions, as I prefer the 2nd edition, with minor tweaks.

Also, the supplements Cults of Prax, and to a lesser extent, Cults of Terror, form some of the best gaming rules that exist. Not only do they give additional rules for play, but they give BACKGROUND for these rules, which I have found to be rarely done. Some other game systems do give background, but the rules are lost in the background, so I find this of limited use.

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18 hours ago, rd350lc said:

I do have to agree, Runequest is a dangerous game. In my campaign, I have had players take down a high power Vampire with one blow. This happened twice while I was gamemaster. A critical hit to the head for maximum damage will take out almost anybody.

In the classic game (2nd edition), the cults of Chalana Arroy and Seven Mothers have Resurrection as a reusable 3 pt Rune Spell, so Resurrection is possible. Not sure about other editions, as I prefer the 2nd edition, with minor tweaks.

Also, the supplements Cults of Prax, and to a lesser extent, Cults of Terror, form some of the best gaming rules that exist. Not only do they give additional rules for play, but they give BACKGROUND for these rules, which I have found to be rarely done. Some other game systems do give background, but the rules are lost in the background, so I find this of limited use.

A corollary (maybe already mentioned, there are a lot of good thoughts in this thread) is that as a GM, you need to roll with the lethality TOO.  Call it the anti-Anthropic principle: don' t be afraid of letting the characters win, even if it's faster than you'd intended.

PCs can get killed suddenly, we all know that. (I advocate training new players by killing a handful of premade training characters to drive that home before they make their own toons.)

...but GMs need to accept that they are merely the entity that executes the rules of the world.  It's not "you vs the players"...if the players DO happen to nuke your BBEG in one lucky shot, let them exult in it, revel in it, and celebrate it OOC with them

Don't (as I've seen far too often) get surly about it and REALLY don't fudge crap to keep the BBEG alive.  To do so utterly takes away the joy for the players.  You have infinite resources; if you (contrary to advice here) have invested tons of design in a fascinating multi-session adventure with that BBEG, maybe he/she has a lieutenant who'd been just waiting for a chance to take over.  Personally, I'd say that this should still throw your whole thing into at least some disarray (thus giving the characters an ongoing reward for their good fortune) but that lieutenant my be even MORE brilliant and MORE evil than their former boss.

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1 hour ago, styopa said:

A corollary (maybe already mentioned, there are a lot of good thoughts in this thread) is that as a GM, you need to roll with the lethality TOO.  Call it the anti-Anthropic principle: don' t be afraid of letting the characters win, even if it's faster than you'd intended.

PCs can get killed suddenly, we all know that. (I advocate training new players by killing a handful of premade training characters to drive that home before they make their own toons.)

...but GMs need to accept that they are merely the entity that executes the rules of the world.  It's not "you vs the players"...if the players DO happen to nuke your BBEG in one lucky shot, let them exult in it, revel in it, and celebrate it OOC with them

Don't (as I've seen far too often) get surly about it and REALLY don't fudge crap to keep the BBEG alive.  To do so utterly takes away the joy for the players.  You have infinite resources; if you (contrary to advice here) have invested tons of design in a fascinating multi-session adventure with that BBEG, maybe he/she has a lieutenant who'd been just waiting for a chance to take over.  Personally, I'd say that this should still throw your whole thing into at least some disarray (thus giving the characters an ongoing reward for their good fortune) but that lieutenant my be even MORE brilliant and MORE evil than their former boss.

I agree with this. I am not afraid of letting the characters win, but I do try to be fair. And, if the characters happen to get lucky in combat, or take out my main opponent in one shot-so what. I don't care, and I will celebrate with them. I try to be completely impartial.

I follow the advice that Eric Wujick had told me during a seminar that he had. In his game (and in mine), there are only two ways for a character to get killed. They are 1) through character actions (and I do try to provide hints when there is a potentially lethal situation), or 2) through combat.

If, in a fantasy setting, a character finds a pistol, puts the barrel in his mouth, and pulls the trigger, thinking that this is some kind of magic item that will improve his character, and the player is playing the character IN CHARACTER-well, the pistol will happen to be unloaded. The PLAYER may know what a pistol is, but the CHARACTER would not. That is an example that Eric gave.

Combat is another thing. Runequest is a dangerous game, and smart players will avoid combat.

 

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53 minutes ago, rd350lc said:

If, in a fantasy setting, a character finds a pistol, puts the barrel in his mouth, and pulls the trigger, thinking that this is some kind of magic item that will improve his character, and the player is playing the character IN CHARACTER-well, the pistol will happen to be unloaded. The PLAYER may know what a pistol is, but the CHARACTER would not. That is an example that Eric gave.

It doesn't ALWAYS have to be unloaded.  I mean, the Head of Vecna is a thing, and it's hilarious.

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19 minutes ago, styopa said:

It doesn't ALWAYS have to be unloaded.  I mean, the Head of Vecna is a thing, and it's hilarious.

True enough. But, I don't like killing off a character just because he is playing in CHARACTER.

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MJ Sadique's R.P.G Principle : As a gamemaster, you must be crystal clear about the three Dogmas of the RPG : The Rules of the game that describe how a player's character interact with the world. The style of (role-) Play you set in your game (Is it old-school, adventurous or heroic  ?) and what you can accept from your players in the setting of Glorantha's worlds, histories and myths. And, Time to time, don't forget to remind them the respective dogmas importance in Your Glorantha.

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6 hours ago, styopa said:

It doesn't ALWAYS have to be unloaded.  I mean, the Head of Vecna is a thing, and it's hilarious.

But the "Head of Vecna" was unloaded.    😈

 

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Stephen's Principle: do not allow the dice to rob your game of a cool moment.

If a moment occurs in your game that would be cool and memorable and one or two tragic rolls mean that RAW the moment cannot happen, then negotiate with the players to allow the cool moment but with consequences.  For example, it is the denoument of the scenario and the Flintnail Dwarf calls on his powers of stasis to hold the gate closed against the marauding trolls while the rest of the party secure the escape of the royal family.  The dice don't go well and he fails while the trolls critical.  What should then happen is that the trolls get in and among the royal family but that feels like too much of a failure for what should have been a heroic moment. You then pull out of play.  Chatting with the players I offer them four options.

1 - the Doors blow open and the trolls flood in.  The dwarf recognises his failure but remembers the stories of the troll invasion of Pavis and calls on his ancestors to collapse the roof of the buildings around the, sacrificing his life but securing the escape of the rest of the group along with the Royal Family.  I will allow this as a fait accompli if the player of the dwarf character is content to sacrifice his character.

2 - the Doors blow open and the trolls flood in (gotta be true to the dice!).  The group recognise that their survival is secondary to the Royal Family.  They turn and sell themselves dearly to give the Royal Family escape.  They are captured and ransomed back to their temple (no need to play that out) with damage both physical and spiritual that we can work out later.

3 - the Doors blow open and the trolls flood in.  The party turn to fight and we game it out (this is risky in a game like RQ)

4 - the Doors blow open and the trolls flood in. The players they come up with something else cool.

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21 minutes ago, StephenMcG said:

Stephen's Principle: do not allow the dice to rob your game of a cool moment.

If a moment occurs in your game that would be cool and memorable and one or two tragic rolls mean that RAW the moment cannot happen, then negotiate with the players to allow the cool moment but with consequences.  For example, it is the denoument of the scenario and the Flintnail Dwarf calls on his powers of stasis to hold the gate closed against the marauding trolls while the rest of the party secure the escape of the royal family.  The dice don't go well and he fails while the trolls critical.  What should then happen is that the trolls get in and among the royal family but that feels like too much of a failure for what should have been a heroic moment. You then pull out of play.  Chatting with the players I offer them four options.

1 - the Doors blow open and the trolls flood in.  The dwarf recognises his failure but remembers the stories of the troll invasion of Pavis and calls on his ancestors to collapse the roof of the buildings around the, sacrificing his life but securing the escape of the rest of the group along with the Royal Family.  I will allow this as a fait accompli if the player of the dwarf character is content to sacrifice his character.

2 - the Doors blow open and the trolls flood in (gotta be true to the dice!).  The group recognise that their survival is secondary to the Royal Family.  They turn and sell themselves dearly to give the Royal Family escape.  They are captured and ransomed back to their temple (no need to play that out) with damage both physical and spiritual that we can work out later.

3 - the Doors blow open and the trolls flood in.  The party turn to fight and we game it out (this is risky in a game like RQ)

4 - the Doors blow open and the trolls flood in. The players they come up with something else cool.

I like the first alternative the best-but I make sure that I make it up to the player of the dwarf character.

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53 minutes ago, rd350lc said:

I like the first alternative the best-but I make sure that I make it up to the player of the dwarf character.

yeah, it depends on the player.  If we play it out, it is very possible the dwarf dies anyway.  This way the dwarf goes out in a heroic way. If that is cool with the player, then great, if not, we look at other options.  Obviously, if the dwarf character dies we think hard about what the player next brings to the table or whether we think about the next adventure be about the party travelling to the Hero Plane to recover the spirit of their friend....whatever happens though should, if possible, be heroic and cool.

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Stephen's principle: dont rely on players remembering stuff or taking their own notes.

I produce a bunch of index cards for games I play.  Each index card has information on people, places and things that they have encountered or heard about.  Each card is on the table on later occasions, available for players to look through and annotate.  This builds up as a resource to the game and helps players engage with the details that have been introduced into the game.

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This is a new subject for game masters.

I tend to be a low risk, low reward game master. This is a thing I did that really annoyed the players, but certainly was not dangerous.

When the gaming genre started over 40 years ago (I remember the time), most of the scenarios were in underground settings, and the maps were drawn using graph paper. I still do this to an extent. One of the most infuriating things that I did (but fun for the game master) was to lay out a dungeon using polar graph paper, and describe it as regular rectangular co-ordinates. The players got really annoyed when the map they were creating did not work out-in that there were rooms in places where there should not have been a place for these rooms. I really had fun playing this out. And there was no cheating, such as placing teleport areas, and the like.

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