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Advice to a GM new to RQ and Glorantha


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Greetings,

I'm new to RuneQuest and to Glorantha. I looking to run a campaign of RQG. I have the core book (physical and PDF) and the PDF of the bestiary, the GM's Screen pack and the Sourcebook (with Defending Apple Lane, Cattle Raid, and The Dragon of Thunder Hill), as well as the Quickstart PDF (with the Broken Tower) and Snake Pipe Hollow, To Kill a Monster, and Return to Griffin Mountain.

My plan is to run a playtest scenario with pre-gens with my group, so they get a feel for the rules and the setting, then make them roll adventurers and start a campaign.

I like to start with modules so I get a feeling for the rules set and the setting, then I usually prefer running things of my own creation (although I'm more than happy to run modules if they're available and fit my players' tastes).

So, I'm looking for any advice you can have, both in terms of what adventures to run and anything that can help running the game. In terms of adventures, there are many options made specially for RQG, but I'm guessing it's not too hard to adapt older material to the new system (with the advice at the end of the core rulebook).

Right now I'm thinking of running Broken Tower as the playtest, then start with Defending Apple Lane and run these three adventures as a starting point for the campaign.

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I ran the Broken Tower first with the pregens.  Worked quite well (except that none of the PC's was competent at herding), good pacing, good introduction to most of the topics in a sequence that is useful for both players and GM.  I subsequently let the players either roll new characters or keep the pregen they were using (half took each route).  While I've gone direct to my own creation after the Broken Tower, the adventures around Apple Lane should work quite well as follow-on to the Broken Tower.

If using the pregens, use the ones in RQG core book, not the Quickstart, since there were a few changes in between.

Make sure you and the players get comfortable and familiar with using Runes, Passions, and other augments along with basic skills, then with simple combat and spirit magic, then with Rune magic.  Be careful with the balance of foes to adventurers.  I only had 4 players/PC's in the Broken Tower so if you have similar, you may need to slightly reduce the # of rock lizards or sprul-pa, or time their arrival so that the PC's don't get overwhelmed before being able to do anything.  

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I ran Broken Tower for my friends at a local convention and they had a blast.

It is really well designed to introduce new rules and concepts in deepening layers as the scenario progresses. It introduces a lot of the cultural and magical setting of Glorantha in digestible chunks. I consider it rock solid.

If you are interested, as play aids, I made Player Character Pamphlets that you can download from the download section. You might find them helpful.

Some people balk at the notion of a 20 page pamphlet as a character sheet. But what can I say? Everything the player is going to for the character, from attributes to attacks to descriptions of the PC's key runs, to each spell the PC can cast is right there. All I can say is they worked for my Players.

Please note that in the Harmast is listed has having Passage. But the RQG says Passage requires Lock. And Harmast doesn't have Passage. I haven't had time to look into this or what to do about it, so its' still there. You can strike it out, or give Harmast Lock.

Edited by creativehum
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@drablak you seem to have it covered; start with the Quickstart, then let player either continue with the pre-gens or role their own. Then start working through published adventures in the RQG adventure book. I am using a similar route for a group and it is working well for me so I would support the approach you are proposing.

Based on my experience of starting campaigns I would recommend that you reserve judgement on the initial stages of the campaign till you see what characters your players finally end up with and what bonds are created by their personal histories. I have found that the stories the players can create by trying to reconcile their backgrounds with each other can take the campaign off in interesting and unexpected directions. Plan time for character creation within the sessions and start with a really simple go here and get this/find this type adventure so everyone can work out who they are and how they relate to one another before starting the campaign proper. I had the players search the ruined lunar manor mentioned on the map in the quickstart guide and let them fight a few rubble runners. Keep it loose and vague in the early sessions while everyone gets caught up with the basics of the setting.

Also I have two different games both with a Grazelander characters in them. While both of the characters are good strong characters that the players are enjoying playing, if you are playing in Sartar and Prax they add an additional level of complication to social situations. If I was planning to start a group to run the the Apple Lane/Dragon of TH stuff now, I would probably ask players to avoid a Grazelanders.

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12 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I ran the Broken Tower first with the pregens.  Worked quite well (except that none of the PC's was competent at herding), good pacing, good introduction to most of the topics in a sequence that is useful for both players and GM.  I subsequently let the players either roll new characters or keep the pregen they were using (half took each route).  While I've gone direct to my own creation after the Broken Tower, the adventures around Apple Lane should work quite well as follow-on to the Broken Tower.

If using the pregens, use the ones in RQG core book, not the Quickstart, since there were a few changes in between.

Make sure you and the players get comfortable and familiar with using Runes, Passions, and other augments along with basic skills, then with simple combat and spirit magic, then with Rune magic.  Be careful with the balance of foes to adventurers.  I only had 4 players/PC's in the Broken Tower so if you have similar, you may need to slightly reduce the # of rock lizards or sprul-pa, or time their arrival so that the PC's don't get overwhelmed before being able to do anything.  

Thanks for the advice. Good catch on the different pregens. I was also thinking of offering them to keep the pregens or roll, interesting that half of yours went either way.

Your advice on adjusting the difficulty level is great too. It's one of the things I find hard coming to a level-less system, so thanks! :) 

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12 hours ago, creativehum said:

I ran Broken Tower for my friends at a local convention and they had a blast.

It is really well designed to introduce new rules and concepts in deepening layers as the scenario progresses. It introduces a lot of the cultural and magical setting of Glorantha in digestible chunks. I consider it rock solid.

If you are interested, as play aids, I made Player Character Pamphlets that you can download from the download section. You might find them helpful.

Some people balk at the notion of a 20 page pamphlet as a character sheet. But what can I say? Everything the player is going to for the character, from attributes to attacks to descriptions of the PC's key runs, to each spell the PC can cast is right there. All I can say is they worked for my Players.

Please note that in the Harmast is listed has having Passage. But the RQG says Passage requires Lock. And Harmast doesn't have Passage. I haven't had time to look into this or what to do about it, so its' still there. You can strike it out, or give Harmast Lock.

Did you introduce Glorantha at all before, aside from the excerpt from Broken Tower?

Thanks for the pamphlets, those will help! And my players will like the 20-page folder, no worries there! :) 

And I'll look into Passage/Lock as well, thanks!

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3 hours ago, Gryphaea said:

@drablak you seem to have it covered; start with the Quickstart, then let player either continue with the pre-gens or role their own. Then start working through published adventures in the RQG adventure book. I am using a similar route for a group and it is working well for me so I would support the approach you are proposing.

Based on my experience of starting campaigns I would recommend that you reserve judgement on the initial stages of the campaign till you see what characters your players finally end up with and what bonds are created by their personal histories. I have found that the stories the players can create by trying to reconcile their backgrounds with each other can take the campaign off in interesting and unexpected directions. Plan time for character creation within the sessions and start with a really simple go here and get this/find this type adventure so everyone can work out who they are and how they relate to one another before starting the campaign proper. I had the players search the ruined lunar manor mentioned on the map in the quickstart guide and let them fight a few rubble runners. Keep it loose and vague in the early sessions while everyone gets caught up with the basics of the setting.

Also I have two different games both with a Grazelander characters in them. While both of the characters are good strong characters that the players are enjoying playing, if you are playing in Sartar and Prax they add an additional level of complication to social situations. If I was planning to start a group to run the the Apple Lane/Dragon of TH stuff now, I would probably ask players to avoid a Grazelanders.

Thanks for the advice! I think your advice to let players settle in their characters before planning too much of the campaign is spot on, I will do so And it works for me as a GM as well, since I have to get a feel for the strength of the opposition the players face. I'll keep the Grazelander advice in mind as well. Thanks! :) 

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14 hours ago, drablak said:

I'm new to RuneQuest and to Glorantha. I looking to run a campaign of RQG.

You don't say what gamed you have played previously, but there is sometimes a shift in how you run things when playing and GMing RuneQuest.

Combat can be lethal, just because it's RuneQuest. There are ways around this. Some people prefer minimal combat, in fact my last Gloranthan campaign had little in the way of combat. If your players prefer going into combat then make Healing available - Let them have Healing magic, have a Chalana Arroy Temple nearby for the PCs to be healed, use Healing Potions, allow Resurrection for PCs who have died. Let the Players learn tactics and use them, although this takes time. Use "stupid" NPCs who don't always over-optimise everything, let NPCs use poor tactics, forget about all their abilities and so on, not everything needs to be a Total Party Kill.

PCs will use Experience Rolls to quickly increase skills. As it is in RQG, you are likely to get a party that is skilled in the same sort of things, especially if they all try the same skills in each scenario. I use Experience Points, rather than Experience Ticks, so I give out a number of XPs at the end of a scenario and the players can spend them on gaining experience for a fixed number of skills, this gets them to specialise and only increase the skills they care about.  Some people don't have this as a problem and, really, it only manifests when you have been playing for a long time.

Introduce things slowly. Don't read five chapters of background to the players at the start of the campaign. Maybe, introduce one Non-Human race, cult or type of people per scenario, unless an NPC crosses multiple categories. So, you could introduce Bison Riders or Lunars in one scenario, Yelmalians in another and an Elf Yelornan Unicorn Rider in a third. Introducing too many things at one tends to swamp players with information.

Use Cheat Sheets - RQG has a lot of tables, so put some of the tables onto sheets for the Players to use. The GM Screen is good for this kind of thing. Put the tables that you will need to use in one place, to save leafing through the rulebook. Use lookups where possible, rather than calculations. While I can do Special and Critical calculations in my head at a game, some of my Players can't, so it makes things easy for them. Don't bother working out Specials or Criticals before you roll - If you have a skill of 80% and roll 70, you know it isn't going to be a Special or Critical, so what's the point of working it out?

If you have Magical Items in your campaign, then be aware that PCs will accumulate them very quickly. If you have a 20 scenario campaign and each scenario give out 1 Magic Item, then a party of 5 will have 4 Magic Items each. I don't mind that, as I like having loads of Magic Items, but some people have a problem with it.

Allow things to get gross and stupid. If you have a spell that doubles damage and an ability that doubles damage, then allow them to stack to quadruple damage. So, if the PCs are fighting a troll and have an Iron sword, then that doubles damage, if they cast Truesword, that also doubles damage, if they have a Gift of "Double Penetrating Damage against Trolls" then that could double the eventual damage. So, a 1D8+1+1D4 sword with Bladesharp and Truesword could eventually do 28 points of damage, if you double penetrating damage as well, hitting something with 10 armour points could do 36 points of damage. Players love that kind of thing. I love that kind of thing, it's cool.

 

14 hours ago, drablak said:

I have the core book (physical and PDF) and the PDF of the bestiary, the GM's Screen pack and the Sourcebook (with Defending Apple Lane, Cattle Raid, and The Dragon of Thunder Hill), as well as the Quickstart PDF (with the Broken Tower) and Snake Pipe Hollow, To Kill a Monster, and Return to Griffin Mountain.

Welcome aboard. It looks as though you have a good plan for your campaign already.

14 hours ago, drablak said:

I like to start with modules so I get a feeling for the rules set and the setting, then I usually prefer running things of my own creation (although I'm more than happy to run modules if they're available and fit my players' tastes).

That makes sense. I normally run about a third of a campaign from modules, a third from scenarios that I have written and a third from things the PCs want to do. As you run out of modules, you will run your own stuff, out of necessity, assuming you are running a long campaign.

 

14 hours ago, drablak said:

So, I'm looking for any advice you can have, both in terms of what adventures to run and anything that can help running the game. In terms of adventures, there are many options made specially for RQG, but I'm guessing it's not too hard to adapt older material to the new system (with the advice at the end of the core rulebook).

Right now I'm thinking of running Broken Tower as the playtest, then start with Defending Apple Lane and run these three adventures as a starting point for the campaign.

I don't know much about the RQG Scenarios, to be honest, as I haven't looked into them. 

From what I have heard at Conventions, there should be a number of interlinked modules that would work as a campaign.

Scenarios from earlier editions of RQ should work with RQG, RQ2 works best, then RQ3, RQ4-6 would require more adapting as they use different mechanics for things like Strike Ranks.

However, many of the older scenarios don't fit with RQG, simply because the dynamic has changed. Pavis & Big Rubble and Borderlands, for example, have Lunars as a big part of the campaigns, but Lunars have been kicked out of Pavis and Prax in RQG. You could always start the campaign a few years earlier and do the Big Campaign, I suppose.

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3 hours ago, soltakss said:

Introduce things slowly. Don't read five chapters of background to the players at the start of the campaign.

Yep that makes sense. As someone who's sometimes a GM and sometimes a player, I am totally interested in background and so I have a tendency to go too much into it at first (as does the other GM in our group), but it's much more efficient to introduce things without the players noticing too much! :) 

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement, I'm taking notes!

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6 hours ago, drablak said:

Did you introduce Glorantha at all before, aside from the excerpt from Broken Tower?

There were five players. Three of them had played in Glorantha before (Hero Wars/HeroQuet) and so had some familiarity with it. Two were new to the setting.

For the session I told a brief introduction about the world of Glorantha from the Orlanthi point-of-view.

That is, that once there was only earth and sky, and that all was fixed and nothing could change, and there was no room for people. But Orlanth rose and pushed the Sky up, creating room between Ernalda (the earth) and Yelm (the sky) so there would be room for people, and air to breath, and things were no longer fixed but people could have lives and make the lives they wanted.

I told them that Orlanth married Ernalda, and the Orlanthi are people or the soil and air. That they feel the air around them and in their lungs, and the soil at their feet, and they value the world -- the physical world -- in a way that we do not. The elements of the world feed their spirit and give them life, and so they give thanks to the earth goddess and the god of air, and in turn the gods of the The World -- the world of soil and air and storms and rain protect them.

I said the Orlanthi love life, love the world. I told the Players tha "cult" comes from "cultivate" and it is in cultivating their attention with the world... to love tilling the soil, to pay attention to the air they breath, to stand out in the rain as the Storm God washes them is to love the world and love their gods and give thanks every day for the blessings they receive. 

I said the Orlanthi have fought for generations to protect the world. The fought against Chaos which set out to unravel the world generations ago. And had fought against the Red Moon, which rose into the sky only a few hundreds years ago. The Red Moon and the Lunar War sought to trick people... to make them think that Chaos could be controlled and balanced by clever word games and games of cleverness. But it was all a lie, because the people of the Red Moon, in their devotion to Chaos, wanted us to all be one thing, and not ourselves. They wanted us not to love our children, nor love the world, or the earth or the air or the rain, because to them all of these things that mattered were nothing but illusion.

By their reasoning our wives and husbands were but illusions, our children were illusions that had to be shattered. Our love of moist soil at our feet was an illusion, our love of air in ou lungs was an illusion. And if the Red Goddess and her followers won, they would take away the earth, take away the air, and we would have no lives, and no children, and no world, and no love, because it is with each other -- you to I, not as one thing -- that love exists. And they said there was no you, and no me, only us, and so love did not exist.

And so we fought. And we won. And we are the Orlanthi and we saved the world. Because that is what Orlanth taught us to do, and so we do it.

 

So I said something like that. It seems maybe like a lot, but I told it as directly as I wrote it above, like a storyteller telling a just-so story of the world.

Which seemed to anchor everyone in the kind of mythical logic and sense of pride they should have in their people and their tribe. 

I then had each player read along the section where the PC "speaks" in first person from the pamphlet. This tied them to the setting details and the history I had just told.

And then I read the introductory material from the QuickStart that leads into the adventure.

Edited by creativehum
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43 minutes ago, drablak said:

Yep that makes sense. As someone who's sometimes a GM and sometimes a player, I am totally interested in background and so I have a tendency to go too much into it at first (as does the other GM in our group), but it's much more efficient to introduce things without the players noticing too much! :) 

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement, I'm taking notes!

Yeah, that's very good advice. I usually try to start a campaign with a small area, like a village, maybe give then a handout of "Common Knowledge" with a bit of background on the area, local NPCs, and maybe a map. Such knolwedge is culture and location centric, meaning that is it usually very accurate on local matters and nearly pure speculation of anything far away. Then Ilet the player's knowledge of things expand naturally as they travel about, meet more people, or take an interest in some topic or other.  That not only reduces what the players need to know to play, and the demands on the GM to know stuff, but also lets the GM adapt things to the group and their interests. It also gives the PCs stronger ties to the setting, and story hooks that  can be used to get them involved in things. Players act a lot differently if the missing farmer they are asked to find is someone they know and grew up with, as opposed to a total stranger.

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It sounds negative, but honestly when I have players coming from d&d, ESPECIALLY if we're experimenting/learning with pre-gens...don't hesitate to kill them.

For players from other games it can be startling how quickly a character can go down, esp if outnumbered.  That's a needful lesson before they're playing a character that they care about.

If they learn to treat combat with the respect/fear it deserves in d100 systems, it's something that will serve them well.

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35 minutes ago, styopa said:

with pre-gens...don't hesitate to kill them.

Don't worry, I won't! It's one of the reasons I like to start with a play-test. The other reason being that it gives them a chance to understand how things work before making decisions on their character when rolling them up. But making sure they get that combat is deadly is on the list for sure!

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1 hour ago, styopa said:

It sounds negative, but honestly when I have players coming from d&d, ESPECIALLY if we're experimenting/learning with pre-gens...don't hesitate to kill them.

I'd say hesitate, but do it anyway.  It some ways it's like discipling a child. The goal is to try and get them to understand why they are being "punished".  

One of the hurdles I have with D&D players in other RPGs is that D&D teaches them certain things that don't hold true in other RPGs. So when things don't work out as they expected, they get confused, angry and tend to blame the game system or GM rather than their methods. Years of D&D has taught them that those methods are sound, so the problems lie "elsewhere". Experience points and leveling up tends to reinforce this belief too. The idea is that since they got up to X level they must be doing something right.

Once, when running RQ3, I completely shocked and horrified a group of longtime D&Ders, when one of the PCs had an arm severed in combat. The way the players reacted, you would have thought that I had actually cut the player's arm off., personally. To their way of looking at things I had crossed the line and broken some unwritten rule of gaming. I really took years to change that outlook, and the problem was compounded by the fact that most people, rather than change their preconceptions, will run back to D&D where they know how things work and are protected. 

 

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Per the story above, somewhere around here you'll find a list of four things that make RQG different than many other RPGs. 

One of those things is combat. 

I would take the time to lay out those four differences to make sure the Players understand and are on board with that this game is going to be.

For myself, as a GM, I see myself as a bit of a host, setting the table for the evening's entertainment, if you will. There will be plenty of surprises... but I try to reveal the fundamental ("We're having fish tonight") so everyone knows what they're getting into. 

I would never spring the combat of RQG on a group of people without explaining the edges of where combat can go. 

If they choose to ignore my little introduction, that's there business. But simply springing RQG's brutal system on them without warning and details, knowing how many different people carry so many different expectations from different RPGs? I'd consider that rude.

Edited by creativehum
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1 hour ago, creativehum said:

If they choose to ignore my little introduction, that's there business. But simply springing RQG's brutal system on them without warning and details, knowing how many different people carry so many different expectations from different RPGs? I'd consider that rude.

With you there. It's just funny how players might take the news. I've had plenty of players who thought they knew what I meant when I warned them and gave them details about a different RPG who ended up shocked and surprised in play. It's partly because D&D uses a  deceptively heroic approach. Most adventures treat the PCs as heroic underdogs who somehow succeed despite the odds being stacked against them, when in reality D&D is heavily rigged in the PCs favor. So a lot of players blow off the warnings as typical hype, often with disasterous consequences.

 

For example, in one campaign a PC who was traveling on a mission, passed through a village where the locals were up in arms over a rampaging tiger that was killing people. The player got in into his head to track down and confront the "tiger", but did so under some mistaken assumptions, including the idea that it wasn't really a tiger. When he finally caught up with it, he turned to me and said, "I can't believe you threw a tiger at a starting character!"

My reply was, "I can't believe you threw a starting character at a tiger!"

 

His whole way of thinking was that it couldn't be a tiger because his character wasn't experienced enough to deal with one, therefore it was "unfair" for a tiger to be in the adventure. But the tiger wasn't part of the adventure at all, just a hazard, in the wrong direction, that he was warned about. The PC had no reason to spend days tracking the tiger down. But that's the D&D mindset and preconceived expectations. It's a tough habit to break players of.

 

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6 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

My reply was, "I can't believe you threw a starting character at a tiger!"

 

His whole way of thinking was that it couldn't be a tiger because his character wasn't experienced enough to deal with one, therefore it was "unfair" for a tiger to be in the adventure. But the tiger wasn't part of the adventure at all, just a hazard, in the wrong direction, that he was warned about. The PC had no reason to spend days tracking the tiger down. But that's the D&D mindset and preconceived expectations. It's a tough habit to break players of.

That's awesome.

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27 minutes ago, jholen said:

That's awesome.

Not for me. For me it's kinda frustrating. Most of the gamers around here are D&Ders and it's hard to get much else going, and that mindset is one of the major reasons why. There's one guy in the area who hates my guts and won't game with me because of it. He'd get killed every week for doing suicidally stupid stuff (charging six opponents with a single starting character-that doesn't even work in D&D), but  I'm to blame, supposedly because I only give them one way to solve a problem. In fact I allow for multiple solutions, it's just that his preferred method of frontal attack is the one that most baddies plan for, and the one that tends to rack up the most PC casualties. 

 

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6 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Most adventures treat the PCs as heroic underdogs who somehow succeed despite the odds being stacked against them, when in reality D&D is heavily rigged in the PCs favor.

I think there is a lot of truth to this, but I think we need to recognise that there are different styles of play and people have different needs and expectations in games. 

D&D is the quintessential game-ist game, it asks the questions such as 'What would it be like to be a... brave knight/powerful wizard etc' and gives them lots of rules to find out
RQ is the simulationist anti-thesis to this it, it asks the question 'what would happen if... I started waving around this sharpened piece of metal/if the storm God did actually grant miracles' and gives you a rich and detailed world to find out in.

I don't think it is a case of re-training your players to a different set of expectations but case of explaining that this a whole different approach - and they need to buy into this. Some of players intuitively get the simulationist approach, some players actually don't want it and that should be respected. But I think you should explain it not just let them pick it up by trial and error in the hope that this is a game style for them - that's just not fair.

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7 hours ago, Gryphaea said:

I think there is a lot of truth to this, but I think we need to recognise that there are different styles of play and people have different needs and expectations in games. 
 

It's not just "we" who have to recognize this but "they"  (the players) must as well. Now if they don't want to play a different style of game that perfectly okay, but that doesn't mean that I should be forced to run something that I have no desire to. What happens is that the players express a desire to try a different game, then revert to their standard method of play, and get upset when it doesn't work.

7 hours ago, Gryphaea said:

I don't think it is a case of re-training your players to a different set of expectations but case of explaining that this a whole different approach - and they need to buy into this. Some of players intuitively get the simulationist approach, some players actually don't want it and that should be respected. But I think you should explain it not just let them pick it up by trial and error in the hope that this is a game style for them - that's just not fair.

I've explained things to players until I'm blue in the face, both before and after things go sour, with little effect. The thing is they don't believe that there is a different approach, and just assume that what they have been doing for years in D&D is the tried and true correct approach, and that something else must be wrong when that approach doesn't work. 

What seems to happen is that they have learned things from previous gaming and simply reject information to contradicts their previous experience. For example, most D&Ders don't surrender, because in D&D that usually leads to their characters being killed or enslaved and leads to everybody having to roll up new characters. Now, when running games such as RuneQuest and Pendragon, things don't work out that way, with many opponents willing to ransom off prisoners, but the players don't buy into it and just fight on until they are dead or incapacitated. In the James Bond RPG it took me several years to finally get ONE player in a group to realize that surrendering is often one of the best ways to get inside the major villain's stronghold, find out his plan, and be in a position to stop it. He only figured it out because he got stuck in a situation where he had to surrender, and he only did that because he had just lost a few characters shooting it out. Now the player had been told this, scene it happen in multiple films, had a handout that pointed it out to him, and yet refused to believe that it was true until he finally decided to try it out. 

Oh, and it seems to be exclusive to D&D players. Most other gamers seem to get it that game X isn't going to  play the same as whatever they were playing before. I think it's because people who play other RPGs have probably played multiple RPGs early on, and find that out right way, when they try their second RPG. D&D players, however, are much more likely to have played only one RPG (D&D) and that for a long time, so they learn things that might apply to D&D but don't hold true elsewhere. Tactics such as rushing missile troops over an open plain work as a valid tactic in AD&D (and even D&D to a lesser extent), but can wipe a group out in a game like RQ or CoC.  

 

 

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17 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

t most people, rather than change their preconceptions, will run back to D&D where they know how things work and are protected. 

Sadly, I know of a campaign where they recently did just that.  :(  "Let's go back to pathfinder for a couple of sessions" sigh.

14 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

My reply was, "I can't believe you threw a starting character at a tiger!"

That's it in a nutshell.  Same deal years ago in our campaign, ALSO, coincidentally, with a tiger.  Player decides to send their archery-heavy toon - alone - well out into heavy brush (8'-high grass, scattered scrub & light trees) to pursue a known tiger.  He actively decides to follow a deer trail - using tracking to stay on the deer trail..  (You might guess where this is going).  He said nothing about even keeping an eye out for an ambush (from which I'd have given him a bonus, probably) but nevertheless I did give him a scan roll which he failed...as he walked under a heavier tree branch.  Yeah...pretty quickly dead character.  

As you observed, D&D very quickly trains players that it's the responsibility of the DM to provide them with appropriate challenges, not ever their responsibility to make sane choices.

Gads, after all these years...that's explicitly putting a finger on one of the key reasons RQ always just "felt right".

7 hours ago, Gryphaea said:

I don't think it is a case of re-training your players to a different set of expectations but case of explaining that this a whole different approach 

I think the problem isn't so much retraining as acquainting them with the idea that there ARE other approaches.  That D&D approach has been carried even further into MMORPGs (which, tbh, where I see most tabletop game competition coming from) where not only are characters the heroes, but:

  • If they're even offered any choice by the quests/NPCs at all, they're rarely meaningful and none of them are non-tenable, ever.  Player agency is limited to "either I do this, or don't"...(and for main-story questlines, they likely don't even have that choice, if they want to continue playing).
  • Character-related development choices are almost never irreversible.   Can you conceive of not only telling your players they need to give you (each) $5 per session to play, but that they can re-do their character for another $5 whenever they want?
  • Character simply never die.  They might take an xp hit, they might be inconvenienced (both of which are largely falling out of favor now), but they always come back.

Given those bases from which to approach 'avatar-based role-playing' it should be no surprise that RQ can (to them) feel almost a little bit masochistic.

 

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I think the problem as it stands works out as follows:

  1.  Players assume that since they have gamed for a certain amount of time, they must be good. They don't realize that, say, driving to and from work everyday for 20 years doesn't make you Mario Andretti.
  2.  Player also assume that because they have gained a lot of XP and leveled up characters they must be doing things right. They don't realize that XP and advancement are built in, and more a factor of playing time than success.
  3. Players assume that all encounters have to be "balanced" (that is heavily rigged in their favor).  They don't realize that just because they decide to provoke a dragon, the GM is under no obligation to nerf that dragon.
  4. Players would much rather blame failure on some external factor (the GM or game system) rather than even consider the possibility that they might be at fault in some way.\
  5. Players don't like to fail, and so would rather go back to doing whatever they were successful at.
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44 minutes ago, styopa said:

Sadly, I know of a campaign where they recently did just that.  :(  "Let's go back to pathfinder for a couple of sessions" sigh.

Yup, becuase it safe ground where they are certain to succeed. The fact that the game is rigged doesn't even dawn on them. Notice how D&Ders tend to use the phase "balanced" to represent encounters that aren't?

44 minutes ago, styopa said:

As you observed, D&D very quickly trains players that it's the responsibility of the DM to provide them with appropriate challenges, not ever their responsibility to make sane choices.

The thing is, it's not really what D&D is trying to do, it's just a case of players being conditioned by experiences and learning how things really work. For instance, anyone who has ever been in a campaign where the GM will never kill a PC or wipe out a party "learn" to become reckless because they will always get away with it. That's not what such GMs were aiming to do, but it's what happens. 

44 minutes ago, styopa said:

Gads, after all these years...that's explicitly putting a finger on one of the key reasons RQ always just "felt right".

It's also why 

44 minutes ago, styopa said:

I think the problem isn't so much retraining as acquainting them with the idea that there ARE other approaches. 

I wish. I've found that even when acquainted with the idea of other approaches they reject them out of hand and revert to their "tried and true" methods. I end up feeling like Yoda, telling them "You must unlearn what you have learned."

 

54 minutes ago, styopa said:

  That D&D approach has been carried even further into MMORPGs

And even other RPGs. One of the problems I had with MRQ1 was that it looked and felt like RQ as written by a die-hard D&D player. A lot of the game mechanics, such as magical damage against shapeshifters, Orlanth having the Chaos Rune, or swapping out weapon damage tables to make the game more deadly,  fit with the way D&D works but clash with the way RQ and it's related games have done things.  It's a complete paradign shift.

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I disagree with the idea that this is a D&D mindset (the summer my friends and I all learned to play AD&D we killed off close to 200 characters). I think rather this a mindset of inexperienced RPG players in general, who have probably only played D&D, and probably only with DM's who are also inexperienced. Pathfinder and it's parent, D&D 3.5, are both unforgiving systems where player death is relatively common if the DM knows how to work the system and wrongly assumes that the players know it as well as they do. Especially at low levels. RQ is the same way - although with the changes to the parry/dodge rules, I find that RQG is less so than earlier editions. The other problem common to newer players that have only played D&D is that they have no real idea of how to gauge the lethality and threat level of an encounter. Especially in Glorantha, where most of the monsters and foes are unfamiliar to them - or they are unfamiliar in their Gloranthan incarnations. So, as GMs, we need to do a much better job describing encounters with knowledge that the characters would have, but the players don't. "You've heard of Great Trolls. They'll smash through your shield and your bronze cuirass like so much kindling. They can break a horse's back in one blow. They may be dim-witted, but they are ferocious foes."

I once started an RQ3 campaign with (a mix of players) with the classic "you meet in a tavern" trope. Then I had a seemingly numberless horde of hooded thugs show up and start killing everyone in sight. Soon it was only the PCs, then they started dying one by one. The first took them left them a little shocked; the second kind of numb - until they realized that I wasn't letting up or holding back. Everyone was cheering on the last one standing to see how many thus they could take with them. I said: "Okay, that's how combat works." Then turning to the last one to die, I said: "Your awareness returns. You're consciousness is floating above your body, laid out in an inscribed circle of some kind, probably a summoning circle. Outside the circle you see a robed figure cloaked in shadow, poring over an ancient tome on the lectern in front of him. He leans heavily on a staff glowing with magical energy, and raises his eyes to regard you. 

'There is a task that I wish accomplished. If you agree to undertake it, then I will reunite your body and soul - and reward you handsomely, too. Answer quickly, there are other aspirants waiting, and I cannot abide indecision."

He had hired the thugs; the bar fight was his way of interviewing potential applicants; he started with the one's that survived the longest, and worked his way down.

The players all got to see how the system worked, how deadly combat could be, and how dangerous it was to be out-numbered in RQ. I let them tweak a few things here and there, and then the campaign began in earnest. They all had a common goal, the big bad had been introduced, and they had rough idea how powerful he was and how powerful they would have to be to get their revenge.

 

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I also think there is some confusion in this thread.

Everyon is focusing on system, when in fact many of the issues here come down to scenario design. Or, more generally, styles of scenario play.

The issue with the tiger had mother really to do with system.

The player heard the GM mention a tiger and assumed he was suppose to pursue it. Why? Most likely he had played in games in which if the GM mentions so,etching he is supposed to pursue it.

Meanwhile the GM was filling out the world and the sense of life and concerns of the people of the world. In no way did he assume that mentioning some people were having trouble with a tiger was a subtle way of saying "Here is a quest for your PC."

But this has nothing to do with the system. This has everything to do with unspoken GM techniques and expectations of how PC interact with a world that literally does not exist except through words spoken by the GM.

In D&D, course, one could drop the story about the tiger in front of a PC and the PC would know a tiger was too big a problem to deal with. That, in fact, the GM often mentioned problems that would be too powerful for them to deal with on their own. Because that is how the GM established the world and introduced possible scenario material. It has nothing to do with the rules.

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