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Adapting campaign to BRP, questions!


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I'm an old veteran of RPGs but new to Basic Roleplaying. I'm attempting to adapt a fantasy setting to BRP and have a few questions for the masters (100% BRP skill and above)....

My setting's magic system is based on runes and words of power, which is what drew me to BRP (RuneQuest) as a possible system to use.

The magic in the setting is the use of words of power manifesting the caster's will to restructure reality. If runes, rather than words, are used, the magic can have a long-lasting impact. Rune-weapons are common, and warriors frequently have runes carved into their flesh (tattoos) to gain permanent magical benefits, such as improved strength, innate armor, etc.

The point of the system is (1) warriors have a way to manifest magic that keeps them on par with wizards, and (2) it justifies half-naked warrior women with tattoos, which is a staple of every good fantasy setting. :D

My questions:

1) What are the pros / cons of the different magic systems that might represent the magic? Right now I'm vacillating between BRP Magic, BRP Sorcery, SimpleQuest Battle Magic, and SimpleQuest Sorcery. How do these systems play out in practice, which is the most powerful, which the weakest, etc.? Any advice is welcome here.

2) With regard to the "flesh runes" concept, how could they be represented? One thought I had was to do something like RQ Runic Magic where you sacrifice 1 POW and gain the rune. Or like ELRIC! where you can get demon powers at 1 POW each. But I want warriors to have lots of runes, so you'd end up with a lot of really low POW folks. So then I thought perhaps you just "dedicated" POW to the rune to power it (like Divine Magic), so you had fewer magic points, but your POW stat wasn't ruined. Any advice here?

3) What's a good rule mechanic to enable players to attack lots of mooks at once? Splitting skill over 100 won't do. -30 per extra attack? Aiming for very cinematic combat.

Thank you for any advice!

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1) Your concept of magic is best represented by MRQ Rune Magic. Just use the spells from the SRD. Conversion notes that allow use with BRP are at Alephtar Games .

2) Use Rune Magic and allow rune integration with other means (Hero Point loss, free rune for each 10% you get in Allegiance to a certain principle, etc...)

3) This has never been done in BRP. Just split percentiles for skills below 100% if you like, but I do not advise this.

In truth, I think you should use MRQ and not BRP for your game. It fits your ideas much more (with Heroic Abilities, Rune Integration and Combat Actions) than BRP, and it is admittedly very "cinematic" in its style.

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1) Your concept of magic is best represented by MRQ Rune Magic. Just use the spells from the SRD. Conversion notes that allow use with BRP are at Alephtar Games .

Thanks for the conversion link. Why do you suggest that? It seems similar in flavor, but Runic Magic seems sort of weak compared to other options available. How does it compare in actual play to the strength of BRP Magic or BRP Sorcery? I would like for magic-users to be fairly powerful.

2) Use Rune Magic and allow rune integration with other means (Hero Point loss, free rune for each 10% you get in Allegiance to a certain principle, etc...)

Well, the notion is that it draws from the same source as magic. It's meant to be play balancing so you could be a powerful magic-user, or powerful "runic warrior", or a hybrid blending the two. So really I'm just trying to figure out if permanent POW expenditure is the way to go, or "dedicated POW". Are there weird side effects to the game play if a bunch of people are running around with POW scores close to 0?

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Given how recently BRP was published, I doubt you'll get much reliable evidence of how the various systems play - plenty of opinions though!

My guess is that very-low-POW characters would be far too vulnerable.

Unless you want your rune-warriors (and warrioresses, mmm...) to be doing casting rolls, maybe BRP Sorcery would be better - using their bodies as their "grimoire". It also requires a minimum of 16 POW, preventing the low POW problem. Though maybe that could be relaxed a bit - say 12 POW for 1-pt spells, 14 for 2pt, etc. Really powerful runes/spells, like ones allowing multiple attacks per round (for your mooks) might require permament POW sacrifice and a special "Rune Quest" to get the ability...

That'd leave BRP Magic, or something similar, as the magic system for the proper Magicians to use.

(Mmmm, I must get those tatooed warrior-women into my campaign too...)

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Unless you want your rune-warriors (and warrioresses, mmm...) to be doing casting rolls, maybe BRP Sorcery would be better - using their bodies as their "grimoire". It also requires a minimum of 16 POW, preventing the low POW problem. Though maybe that could be relaxed a bit - say 12 POW for 1-pt spells, 14 for 2pt, etc. Really powerful runes/spells, like ones allowing multiple attacks per round (for your mooks) might require permament POW sacrifice and a special "Rune Quest" to get the ability...

Interesting... So each rune becomes the equivalent of a BRP sorcery spell, with the grimoire as the body. The rune-warriors "activate" their runes, which are powered by their magic points. So rather than being on all the time (a permanent +3 DEX), the rune-warrior would temporarily get +3 DEX for POW turns. (Maybe the runes glow while that's happening...) Getting a new rune requires a ritual similar in length to learning a new spell.

Rather than, say, 16POW to use sorcery, I might say you cannot have active more than POW in levels of runes/spells at once.

The only roadblock I see is the notion of taking 1 combat round to activate each rune. That has interesting ramifications for being taken by surprise, and for what order to trigger "buffs", and so on.

Hmmm.

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Thanks for the conversion link. Why do you suggest that? It seems similar in flavor, but Runic Magic seems sort of weak compared to other options available. How does it compare in actual play to the strength of BRP Magic or BRP Sorcery? I would like for magic-users to be fairly powerful.

Give your magicians Befuddle or Emotion and see what happens to their opponents.....

Seriously, Rune Magic is powerful if used by the warriors directly. I suggest you give your warriors a couple of spells, too. +1 to damage for a metal rune is nothing if compared to one casting of Bladesharp 4 (or 8).

On the other hand, Rune Magic lacks direct attack spells, with the exception of said befuddle. For magic users use BRP Magic or MRQ Sorcery (with fixed spells you get from the wiki) to represent a magician. I prefer MRQ Sorcery 'cause it is less PP dependant, but BRP magic is fine, too.

Well, the notion is that it draws from the same source as magic. It's meant to be play balancing so you could be a powerful magic-user, or powerful "runic warrior", or a hybrid blending the two. So really I'm just trying to figure out if permanent POW expenditure is the way to go, or "dedicated POW". Are there weird side effects to the game play if a bunch of people are running around with POW scores close to 0?

Yes, they are extremely vulnerable to magic. Don't stick to the concept of POW per Rune if you want to rune-load your characters. Use Honor or other adequate Personality traits to determine how many runes they can have tattoed. POW is just used to balance things downwards, do not use it if you want to balance things upwards. And dedicated POW does not solve the matter: try something new.

Hmmmm, tattoed women appeared on a desolated Earth in the comic book "Adventures of Lone Sloane" by P. Druillet in 1969 or so (here I am showing my age a bit....), and Druillet stated they were coming from "The Universe of Elric the Necromancer". But I cannot recall seeing them in Moorcock's books. But I have not read many of them.

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Seriously, Rune Magic is powerful if used by the warriors directly. I suggest you give your warriors a couple of spells, too. +1 to damage for a metal rune is nothing if compared to one casting of Bladesharp 4 (or 8). On the other hand, Rune Magic lacks direct attack spells, with the exception of said befuddle. For magic users use BRP Magic or MRQ Sorcery (with fixed spells you get from the wiki) to represent a magician. I prefer MRQ Sorcery 'cause it is less PP dependant, but BRP magic is fine, too.

Am I wrong to think that "rune magic" from MRQ, "battle magic" from Simple Quest, and "sorcery" from BRP are all quite similar? The power level and type of the spells is similar, with the big difference being casting requirement (spell skill v. invest in Rune v. minimum POW).

But both of you suggest that the tattooed warriors / rune warriors should be using something along the lines of self-buff battle magic / sorcery, rather than permanent POW investiture.

Yes, they are extremely vulnerable to magic. Don't stick to the concept of POW per Rune if you want to rune-load your characters. Use Honor or other adequate Personality traits to determine how many runes they can have tattoed. POW is just used to balance things downwards, do not use it if you want to balance things upwards. And dedicated POW does not solve the matter: try something new.

Makes sense...

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Am I wrong to think that "rune magic" from MRQ, "battle magic" from Simple Quest, and "sorcery" from BRP are all quite similar?

No, you are right. Battle Magic in Simple Quest seemes to be a combination/the same concept as RQ2 Battle Magic/RQ3 Spirit Magic and RQM Rune Magic.

BRP Sorcery is a little bit different, to my eyes, but is closer to the above than to Sorcery in RQ.

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I would, if you can find them, peruse the Elric! supplement Unknown East

which uses a kind of "power word" magic system that will do much of

what you seek, as well as the Stormbringer 5 supplement Corum, which

has a similar system.

-V

That sounds very promising. Is that available in PDF anywhere, or within any SRD? I am trying to work on the campaign this week while I have time.

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That sounds very promising. Is that available in PDF anywhere, or within any SRD? I am trying to work on the campaign this week while I have time.

Chaosium is selling The Unknown East for $5, as part of their ongoing Stormbringer clearance.

Frank

"Welcome to the hottest and fastest-growing hobby of, er, 1977." -- The Laundry RPG
 
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If runes, rather than words, are used, the magic can have a long-lasting impact. Rune-weapons are common, and warriors frequently have runes carved into their flesh (tattoos) to gain permanent magical benefits, such as improved strength, innate armor, etc.

The word that strikes me here is "permanent", and I have been fumbling with similar things myself while trying to work on a less epic, lower powered scale and setting. I may be off base here but what I think you are looking for is permanent powers that are alway "on" in return for a permanent sacrifice of Pow. What I would do is take a look through the Powers sections with an emphasis on Sorcery, Mutations and Superpowers making a list of powers that would fit into your perceptions of what tattoo or weapon Runes would grant. If you are playing soon you could begin with a small list. Then give each of the Powers a point cost. If you want characters to start with a lot of runes, you may want to dish out extra Pow during character creation.

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Puck, that was exactly my original intent, yes - a permanent sacrifice of POW in exchange for a permanent power. (I was inspired by a spell in the ELRIC! rules that let you get a demon power in exchange for 1 POW).

But then it occurred to me that if you wanted characters to have a lot of powers, they'd have to give up a lot of POW, and that might have disastrous effects on the game. So I started to think that saying you "dedicated" POW so it wasn't available for magic points, might be a better way to go.

Others here have suggested I just say the "flesh runes" essentially let you cast BRP sorcery spells, serving as a grimoire of sorts; being a rune-warrior is just alternative cosmetics on being a sorcerer. That has a lot of appeal, but is very different than what I had planned to do. It also leaves me not sure what magic system to use for the actual magicians, as I was thinking I'd use BRP Sorcery at first....

It's hard to know what the best way to go is!

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So I started to think that saying you "dedicated" POW so it wasn't available for magic points, might be a better way to go.

This does not seem so bad. Dedicated Pow was a bit wonkie in MRQ, but your idea would work differently... I think. Now I do not have a BRP Skill of 100% either, and others on this forum have a much better grasp of the rules than I do.

I guess a big question is how many Runes do you want beginning characters to have and how fast do you want them to increase? How do they get Runes? Would they start with a number similar to the number of spells a sorcerer would use?

Under the dedicated system you have there they could start with quite a few Runes but they could never go over your Pow so they would not increase much after the start.

Another question is how much you want the Runes to cost in Pow?

If you look at sorcery there are three basic types of spells that have the effects I think you are looking to have:

Skill enhancements +20 per point. (Shouldn't include combat skills).

Characteristic enhancements +3 per point

Weapon or armor/protection enhancements +1 damage per point. Old School Spells also added 5% to combat skill as well but you may want the skill to be a separate rune entirely.

If each Pow level did the same thing a spell did. You could dole these out to runes fairly simply. This may get you up and going on the Rune thing until you thought of a few more variable and unique powered Runes.

I have not thought of all the damages this could do to game balance though.

A big bonus to those using permanent Runes is that they do not have to spend a round casting spells before combat the way other sorcerers do. I believe this is really a huge, huge advantage, at least in the way we play and you may want to adjust their cost in Pow to make up for this difference.

Edited by Puck

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A big bonus to those using permanent Runes is that they do not have to spend a round casting spells before combat the way other sorcerers do. I believe this is really a huge, huge advantage, at least in the way we play and you may want to adjust their cost in Pow to make up for this difference.

Man, yeah, I think you've nailed it precisely. Would the runes end up being so powerful / advantageous that they'd be better than sorcery, or does the tradeoff of flexibility available to the sorcerer make up for the slower casting time?

One thought I had was that to try to find game balance I could...

- Speed up the casting time for sorcery spells, or

- Add in some of the spells from GORE's magic system (which is similar to BRP Sorcery but has a broader array of spells), or

- Create a few simple, direct-damage sorcery spells

- Have wizards use BRP Magic. But I don't really know how BRP Magic stacks up in power to BRP Sorcery, let alone to BRP Runes.

I'm not so concerned about game balance v. other BRP/RQ games as the setting is high powered but I want it to be internally relatively balanced between wizard-types and runewarrior types...

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If it would help at all I have been working on a magic system based on Runic or Glyphic or realms. They are adopted to a forest/ jungle setting and each Glyph grants a series of spells. In order to become talented in a Glyph a character must pay 1 permanent Pow. Afterward they may learn spells associated with the Glyph and cast them with a beginning glyphic skill equal to their Int+Pow. In many ways it is similar to MRQ Rune magic, but there are a lot more spells associated with each individual Glyph. Many of the Glyphs are varied animal Totems, granting spells associated with the particular animal types.

I realize it is not what you were originally after but if you are interested at all let me know and I can send you a copy. I would post it but it is quite lengthy.

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Whoops I posted the last bit before I read this.

Man, yeah, I think you've nailed it precisely. Would the runes end up being so powerful / advantageous that they'd be better than sorcery, or does the tradeoff of flexibility available to the sorcerer make up for the slower casting time?

I do think... only think that your Rune Warriors would be tougher than your sorcerers. Direct damage spells could even up the pot a little. I have not really played with it but using magic allows a few Potentially powerful spells but may not allow a ton of spell variety. It would make your spellcasters more different from your Rune Warriors than if you use sorcery. A big thing is how much each rune costs and how do they stack and are their limits to stacking? Can a Rune Warrior have a bunch of damage boosting Runes on his sword or only one?

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...that was exactly my original intent, yes - a permanent sacrifice of POW in exchange for a permanent power. (I was inspired by a spell in the ELRIC! rules that let you get a demon power in exchange for 1 POW).

But then it occurred to me that if you wanted characters to have a lot of powers, they'd have to give up a lot of POW, and that might have disastrous effects on the game.

This got me thinking to thinking - if you sacrificed POW to get permanent effects - who are you sacrificing it to? Are there other things you could sacrifice, or other ways to sacrifice POW?

So, not knowing if you have a higher power in your games (Gods, Demons, whatever), what if a POW was sacrificed for each permanent effect, but the player didn't have to relinquish that POW until some later time (e.g. death). But with each sacrificed POW, the player loses a little bit of control over themselves to the higher being. I'm thinking you could mine the Allegience or Sanity rules here to mimic this effect. Perhaps these sacrificed POW give the God the oportunity to call upon the player from time to time, or force the player to act a certain way - this would give you plot hooks, too. Or Perhaps each sacrificed POW gives you an increased chance of a psychotic episode in times of stress. I think you could do interesting things with this.

So I started to think that saying you "dedicated" POW so it wasn't available for magic points, might be a better way to go.

I think this is less evocative, but it would be much faster (and less work) to implement.

You could put it this way: You must sacrifice POW to gain a permanent effect, and that POW resides within the Skin Rune. You Skin Runes contribute to your magical defense (as long as they are attached to you), but don't contribute to your casting ability. Maybe runes on weapons also contribute to magical defence? I'd sure hate for someone to separate me from my magic sword if I was sneaking around a Wizard's tower.

Thalaba

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Another Elric supplement you might want to look at is the Bronze Grimoire. It has a Rune magic system already in place. In it you draw the rune , cast the spell and then the spell goes off when needed or or fades away in 1d8 years . For example if your Warrior had Hell's razor , it could be cast befor She sets out to travel and if she gets in a fight a week later , Hell razor then goes off.

Edited by TRose
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You could put it this way: You must sacrifice POW to gain a permanent effect, and that POW resides within the Skin Rune. You Skin Runes contribute to your magical defense (as long as they are attached to you), but don't contribute to your casting ability. Maybe runes on weapons also contribute to magical defence? I'd sure hate for someone to separate me from my magic sword if I was sneaking around a Wizard's tower.

I like that as an approach. It is clean and fits with the "theory" of magic in the setting...

Another Elric supplement you might want to look at is the Bronze Grimoire. It ha has a Rune magic system already in place. In it you draw the rune , cast the spell and then the spell goes off when needed or or fades away in 1d8 years . For example if your Warrior had Hell's razor , it could be cast befor She sets out to travel and if she gets in a fight a week later , Hell razor then goes off.

Another good notion.

Well, this confirms that BRP/RQ/Elric is the right set of core rules for what I'm trying to achieve. It looks like I need to either go the BRP Sorcery or the Rune Magic route and either one will work...

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