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Tywyll

Is Sword Trance broken?

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So, it seems to me that Sword Trance is a broken spell. Nothing prevents a character from dropping 2 POW at creation and then spending all their MP on a Season Long Sword Trance for like +120% (on average). With the cancelling rules, that character is unstoppable in melee. They can't be parried by the majority of the world, their crits and specials are silly high, etc.

Now, you might say, but then they won't have other runespells to fall back on!!! Sure, but that's the problem with any extended spells. Also, as the rules aren't clear (as far as I can tell) on regaining rune points from an extension, arguably they can wait till a minor holy day and get some/all of their RP back. Even if they can't, RQ characters have lived for years without divine spells so it's not a huge deal. They still have their battle magic to fall back on, as well as their allies Divine Magic in a pinch. 

This seems super game-breaking. Is there something in RAW to help mitigate this?

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We have had to houserule some additional downsides to playing with it extended. I began our campaign with the spell and quickly found an mp crystal which gave an extra 12 MP. This let my Humakti just get bonkers. Even without extension I was rolling around with 300 to Hit and Parry. I tried to suggest using extension with it and my GM basically said, 'as long as you don't mind being a Sword Zombie all season.' So we sorta ruled that it has complicating Mental Effects that you wouldn't want to extend off the battlefield. 

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IIRC, Rune points for the spell being extended and for extension spell are recovered only when the extension finishes, but you are right (it seems to me) that the Magic points are recovered normally. So, that would means having no or almost no other divine magic (for a starting character at least), but it seems legit. System breaker, I don't think, because of dispel magic and a few other easily obtainable spells. Your unstoppable swordsman would have to fight without his buff, but also without any Rune point available. I personally wouldn't put my character in such a situation. I like long duration enhancement (I am playing sorcerors in RQ since quite a time now), but wouldn't rely on only something so fragile.

Kloster

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Do the magic points that the sword trance was boosted with count for purposes of dispelling? I am inclined to rule that they don't. (As @Kloster pointed out, the MP regenerate regularly after having been spent.)

The description of Extension also suggests that Extension is a separate spell from the one extended, although that may be over-interpreting this statement:

Quote

 This spell and the Illusion spells are the only exceptions to the rule that just one Rune spell can be cast per melee round.

 

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23 minutes ago, Joerg said:

The description of Extension also suggests that Extension is a separate spell from the one extended, although that may be over-interpreting this statement:

Yes, the way it is described makes me think tat the extension itself can be dispelled.

23 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Do the magic points that the sword trance was boosted with count for purposes of dispelling?

I don't think so. Dispel Magic description does not tell that MP used to boost a spell have to be counted, only that the points of the spell (the rune point specifically for divine spells) have to be beaten. Sword Trance is a 1 point Rune spell, so a Dispel Magic 2 removes it completely, even if it is extended to 1 season. This is why I answered that it is not a system breaker: Dispel Magic is one of the most common spell I always have seen in all RQ campaign I've seen.

Kloster

 

Edited by Kloster
Bad typing

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(In my game only the RP of Sword Trance need to be Dismissed or Dispelled)

It is still a very powerful spell - less so because it makes the weapon indefensible, but because it makes the wielder equally immune to attacks. No matter how powerful the foe, if they don't have the ability to dispel, they pose significantly less threat to Sword Tranced defender. 

from a GM perspective, planning encounters for a party that includes a character with such a spell is highly problematic. Opponents must have weight of numbers on their side, and probably be highly skilled, as well. This means that any foe strong enough to jeopardize the Sword Trancer, is well beyond the capabilities of the rest of the party. Geometrically so, since - RQ being what it is - an unlucky 01 early in the fight can mean that Sword Trancer is off the board. Sword Trance itself - not the character that knows it or the rest of the party - frame any threat assessment

It is also unfun: Sword Trance means that either every foe dispels it at first opportunity (unfun for everyone - especially the player, who never gets to use it), or that character is never really at risk, or the party is suddenly at risk of a TPK.

I feel it has a greater impact on adventure design than Sever Spirit. Sever Spirit - even at 3 points - must be cast in the moment, must get through defensive spells (if any), and then must overcome the POW of the target.

How do other GMs handle designing encounters for characters with Sword Trance in which dispel will not be a factor?

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non-melee attacks?  Arrows, slings, ranged magic ... ?

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49 minutes ago, Thyrwyn said:

How do other GMs handle designing encounters for characters with Sword Trance in which dispel will not be a factor?

Befuddle (I'm not a GM, but for me, the answer is evident) or composite bow.

Kloster

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5 hours ago, Kloster said:

I don't think so. Dispel Magic description does not tell that MP used to boost a spell have to be counted, only that the points of the spell (the rune point specifically for divine spells) have to be beaten. Sword Trance is a 1 point Rune spell, so a Dispel Magic 2 removes it completely, even if it is extended to 1 season. This is why I answered that it is not a system breaker: Dispel Magic is one of the most common spell I always have seen in all RQ campaign I've seen.

Kloster

 

See, I don't see it that way. I'd argue that Extension X+RP of the spell would be the total. I'll grant you the MP probably wouldn't be considered for dispelling purposes, but I see no reason that the two attached aren't a more powerful effect and therefore need to be dispelled together.

Granted there is nothing in RAW to say one way or the other how to rule on it.

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Doesn’t sound broken to me, sounds more like a gaming style / balance / minimaxer problem, but I run very combat light games. A Humakti would be useful in any game, but if you are going to play your character as a one trick pony isn’t it going to be problematic. Alternatively just up the opponents, tough adventurers are going to attract tough adversaries. As the lesser characters are slaughtered, the mighty survive (and then the adventure is over). Runequest does have a combat engine, but it’s not the main aspect of adventuring is it. 

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The part of this that worries me isn't so much a begging character sho has this as his only rune spell, but instead an experienced character with a larger pool of rune points so that he can spare two points to do this. Maybe even boost it with some magical defenses. While the enemy could and probably would knock the spell down, it would force them to put time, effort and MPs into doing so. 

If the character with the spell is already good with a sword, the the benefits of dispelling the effect aren't all that great either.

Edited by Atgxtg
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37 minutes ago, Psullie said:

spirit combat - possess the Humakti then turn on the other PC's

 

 

55 minutes ago, g33k said:

non-melee attacks?  Arrows, slings, ranged magic ... ?

While those things can certainly impede the character, they are no more powerful or prevalent than against other characters. Also, this combo doesn't inherently prohibit the Humakt from having protections against those things. Good armor + protection battle magic protects against most of those threats. Or Spirit Screen if you are going up against shaman.

But the majority of encounters will probably be against opponents who are also going to use melee attacks and therefore have no hope against the character. 

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4 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Doesn’t sound broken to me, sounds more like a gaming style / balance / minimaxer problem, but I run very combat light games. A Humakti would be useful in any game, but if you are going to play your character as a one trick pony isn’t it going to be problematic. Alternatively just up the opponents, tough adventurers are going to attract tough adversaries. As the lesser characters are slaughtered, the mighty survive (and then the adventure is over). Runequest does have a combat engine, but it’s not the main aspect of adventuring is it. 

The point of the problem is that it doesn't require the character be a one trick pony. RP only come back once a Season, so any use of RP reduces a character's options. A beginning character can arguably pull this tactic off. A Humakt with 10+ Runepoints can pull this off and have tons to spare.

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8 hours ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

We have had to houserule some additional downsides to playing with it extended. I began our campaign with the spell and quickly found an mp crystal which gave an extra 12 MP. This let my Humakti just get bonkers. Even without extension I was rolling around with 300 to Hit and Parry. I tried to suggest using extension with it and my GM basically said, 'as long as you don't mind being a Sword Zombie all season.' So we sorta ruled that it has complicating Mental Effects that you wouldn't want to extend off the battlefield. 

That seems to me to be the only reasonable way to handle it. I just wonder what the penalties should be.

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10 minutes ago, Tywyll said:

But the majority of encounters will probably be against opponents who are also going to use melee attacks and therefore have no hope against the character. 

I think you are too focused on combat being the only solution. Having a fully pumped Humakti isn't going to help one bit when the party is attacked by magic, spirits or those using missile weapons. I'd allow the PC be a 'one-trick' pony but then run a game without any combat, let boredom be the control factor. 

Also whose to say that other cults cult not have the same or similar magic. A Zorak Zoranni with 'Mace Trance'?? RuneQuest is very magic rich and these kind of magical arms races are possible, just not very interesting to play

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1 minute ago, Psullie said:

I think you are too focused on combat being the only solution. Having a fully pumped Humakti isn't going to help one bit when the party is attacked by magic, spirits or those using missile weapons. I'd allow the PC be a 'one-trick' pony but then run a game without any combat, let boredom be the control factor. 

Also whose to say that other cults cult not have the same or similar magic. A Zorak Zoranni with 'Mace Trance'?? RuneQuest is very magic rich and these kind of magical arms races are possible, just not very interesting to play

I think doing everything you can to stop a player from using the abilities their character should possess is a pretty dick move. Certainly not something I would do as a GM.

You are also missing a key point I was making...this isn't an expensive choice on the part of the character. A character with 10 RP still has 50% of their points to play with. 

Also, if you made all of a Humakt's magic irrelevant (the majority of it is combat focused, whether they do it a point or two at a time or a bunch at once), you are punishing a player for their character choice rather than just telling them up front you aren't going to run a combat focused game. 

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40 minutes ago, Psullie said:

I think you are too focused on combat being the only solution.

The alleged problem, such as it is, isn't really about combat though, but about extension. Mobility, or Vigor could be just as bad if a character has then at a high enough point value. What makes Sword Trance nasty is that you only need to know a little bit of it to pump a lot of MPs into it. And that gets to combine with Extenstion. A characrter who has this on an only gets into one fight during the time it is active is probably going to benefit more from having it than by having the free rune points. 

40 minutes ago, Psullie said:

Having a fully pumped Humakti isn't going to help one bit when the party is attacked by magic, spirits or those using missile weapons.

Sure he will, for one thing nothing about this spell makes the Humakti any more vulnerable to magic, spirits or missile weapons that he was without it. What the spell does do is make him far more effective if he can get within melee distance. And that will affect the opponent's tactics and limit their options, and that can help quite a bit. 

40 minutes ago, Psullie said:

 

I'd allow the PC be a 'one-trick' pony but then run a game without any combat, let boredom be the control factor. 

The thing about this is that is isn't really a an example of a "one-trick pony" because it is a relatively cheap to pull off rune point wise, and while costly in magic points, the MPs will come back, and the extended spell will last a long time, unless knocked down by some other spell.  It's biggest weakness, IMO is probably that the character is low on MPs for a day or so after casting, which can weaken him magically if trouble starts before he recharges. But a wekk down the road it is practiaclly a freebie.

40 minutes ago, Psullie said:

Also whose to say that other cults cult not have the same or similar magic. A Zorak Zoranni with 'Mace Trance'?? RuneQuest is very magic rich and these kind of magical arms races are possible, just not very interesting to play

Or even a other different spells that get extended. The major worry here is the ability to "cast in advance" via extension. Someone walking around with Protection 10, Bladesharp 10,  or Vigor 10, or Countermagic 10 or some such present similar problems. They are a little harder to pull off, since they require knowledge of more spirit magic, but still as effective. 

The real question seems to be,  are the benefits  worth locking up the rune points, and investing so many magic points?. 

 

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7 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

The real question seems to be,  are the benefits  worth locking up the rune points, and investing so many magic points?. 

This I think is down to the GM and style of play. Nothing wrong with very powerful PC's, as long as the opposition gets the same opportunities. 

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6 minutes ago, Psullie said:

This I think is down to the GM and style of play. Nothing wrong with very powerful PC's, as long as the opposition gets the same opportunities. 

That is, at least partially true, but then that can be true of just about anything in an RPG, too. The actual adventures run play a part in it too. Most of the existing RQ adventures did have a good deal of combat in them, and this tactic could be quite useful. I can't think of any of the RQ2 and RQ3 Gloranthan adventures where this wouldn't be of some benefit.

One question I have is what else could the character do with those 2 rune points, are would it be of comparable use? 

Not to mention what a character has to give up to gain access to Sword Trance.  

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So with trance of swords on if a character launch a shield over him that would be increasing the difficult for a foe to dispell it?

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2 hours ago, Tywyll said:

See, I don't see it that way. I'd argue that Extension X+RP of the spell would be the total. I'll grant you the MP probably wouldn't be considered for dispelling purposes, but I see no reason that the two attached aren't a more powerful effect and therefore need to be dispelled together.

Extension is described as a separate spell. In addition, Jason explained in the Core Rules question thread that extension spells only " makes the spell last longer ", and that Dismiss is not affected by Extension. I think the answer is the same for Dispel Magic.

Kloster

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I tend to beleive that any 'Trance' spell should be handled as the Aldryami 'Arrow Trance' used to be. While the spell is in effect you are in a combat focussed trance and cannot use any skill other than to attack with the trance boosted skill. You cannot eat, drink, sleep or converse while the spell is in effect. That would make any extension lasting more than a day impractical.

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3 minutes ago, Russ Massey said:

I tend to beleive that any 'Trance' spell should be handled as the Aldryami 'Arrow Trance' used to be. While the spell is in effect you are in a combat focussed trance and cannot use any skill other than to attack with the trance boosted skill. You cannot eat, drink, sleep or converse while the spell is in effect. That would make any extension lasting more than a day impractical.

This is where our houserule has come from. Sword Trance and Axe Trance don't specifically mention any mental side effects but, we quickly reasoned that they've got to be similar to the RQ3 era Arrow Trance we played with. 

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