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Is Sword Trance broken?

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13 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

What???What edition what that???? D&D has been, and still is a very "restrictive" RPG when it comes to character choices. Just try to place a wizard who is decent with a sword without multi-classing. Sandy Peterson's statement about RQ giving you a lot more freedom with you character in RQ comes to mind.

That's not what Thyrwyn said - by "roleplaying restrictions" he meant "restrictions that are not game mechanical, but based on roleplaying". Babeester Gor gets some powerful stuff, but you have to roleplay a restrictive kind of character. Same with Humakt. You get powerful toys, but have to roleplay a Humakti. If a group isn't as much into the roleplaying side, and just takes the toys and plays them in a munchkin manner, then roleplaying restrictions can be ignored.

The D&D equivalent is Paladins - if you don't give the player a hard time over the Lawful Good restrictions, a paladin can dominate. At least, in the older editions that I am familiar with.

Edited by PhilHibbs
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2 hours ago, soltakss said:

For long-time RuneQuestors it isn't that much of a problem, as we can remember the rules from various versions and choose the ones that we think fit best, but it is a big problem for newcomers, who are the kind of people that chaosium want to attract. Most of us old-timers will buy whatever Chaosium produce, regardless of errors.

Yes, exactly. To newcomers (/waves) this is an added barrier to entry.

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29 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Who ever said that it was supposed to be balanced?

 

it's a system. It's implied. If balance isn't an issue, why have different points cost for different spells? why track magic points? why base HP on stats when we could just give non-PC enemies as many HP as we wanted? It's implicit in the simulationist nature of the rules. It's good design. Because it means that the GM doesn't have to take on the added burden of designing encounters specifically to keep one character from overshadowing the others. Because playing Frodo gets pretty tiresome when Gandalf's at the table.

But, most importantly, it makes the game easier to run and play because there is less of a learning curve; GMs and players don't have to experience catastrophic failure because of unforeseen traps or weaknesses in the rules set. Because, believe it or not, unintentionally poorly designed encounters screw up the story the GM and the players are trying to tell. When the players steamroll through the climactic finale, or the meaningless encounter turns into a TPK because the GM didn't realize that that one little spell or ability would be so effective/ineffective; or the players expected that resource-sucking spell/ability to pull its weight and turned out to be useless - all of those things make for crappy experiences, and make the time they've invested in the game and the story seem poorly spent.

There are plenty of table top RPG's that allow for thematic, engaging, immersive experiences without requiring everyone at the table to have a PhD in rules mastery. It's why I stopped running/playing D&D 3.5 - planning a game for hard core experienced players was dramatically different than planning one casual or new players - even if both games were the same level.

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58 minutes ago, Anunnaki said:

Um. Can we please keep the "women only, virgin women only, play as a girl, whether 'implied' or otherwise" for Babeester Gor out of this debate? Official Chaosium and fans both, please.

My wife plays a Babeester Gor in our house campaign and, in the oft-stated spirit of Your Glorantha Will Vary, she plays the character and her relationship to her cult how "she" wants to play it.

There is nothing in the rulebook (thankfully) that says that she must play a psychopathic, man-hating, beer-swilling, genital-mutilating instrument of death and, while I genuinely *get* that there is archetypal (canonical) precedence for this, this is *a game* not a pseudo-historical simulator.

Yes, I am offended. Yes, I think I have a good reason to be. Yes, I really expect more of the long-time fans of Glorantha here.

Back to the topic, PLEASE.

I suppose some tables may play the notion of  "B. Gor combines the worst traits of Humakt X Storm Bull, but with tits & axes & radical misanthropic feminism" .  That's fine at those tables if those players like that.

I hope nobody takes THAT as "canon" !

That said, "canon" states that she's a death-goddess called "the avenging daughter" with Axe Trance & Berserker among her Rune Magic & "Hate(Oathbreaker) 90%" as a qualifying Rune-level Skill.  The official illlo shows her with taloned hands and feet, wearing skulls for a kirtle and necklace, and dual-wielding axes with fresh bloody heads & hands as adornments... very Kali-vibe!  A happy-fluffy goddess she is NOT.

YGMV.

IMG, the Babeester Gori are willing to do that whole "Berserker Thang" if needs be, but generally are much more into practical matters -- retribution not only to punish the evil-doers but also to frighten & prevent others from doing evil, because... well... it ain't gonna end well for folks who make those choices.  The "Battle" skill (more Athena than Ares) is equally as important as hating oathbreakers.

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21 minutes ago, Thyrwyn said:

it's a system. It's implied.

No, it's inferred, not implied. 

21 minutes ago, Thyrwyn said:

If balance isn't an issue, why have different points cost for different spells? why track magic points? why base HP on stats when we could just give non-PC enemies as many HP as we wanted?

Bewcuase tyou need limits to challenge the players, and you need a way to resolve conflict. Without limits of some kind then the players will easily do whatever they want, and will get bored. It's the percieved ability to overcome the obstacles and succeed that keep the game exciting. Without a way to resolve conflict then everything can bog down into "No, I shot you first."

21 minutes ago, Thyrwyn said:

It's implicit in the simulationist nature of the rules. It's good design. Because it means that the GM doesn't have to take on the added burden of designing encounters specifically to keep one character from overshadowing the others. Because playing Frodo gets pretty tiresome when Gandalf's at the table.

Again that's you're inference, not the design of the rules. Nor does sticking to some arbitrary point value actually make the various characters "balance" with each other. Strong players will still dominate, weak players, regardless of character stats. 

21 minutes ago, Thyrwyn said:

But, most importantly, it makes the game easier to run and play because there is less of a learning curve; GMs and players don't have to experience catastrophic failure because of unforeseen traps or weaknesses in the rules set.

No it doesn't. By definition unforeseen traps and weaknesses in the rule set are unforeseen, and therefore not protected against, because they weren't foreseen

21 minutes ago, Thyrwyn said:

Because, believe it or not, unintentionally poorly designed encounters screw up the story the GM and the players are trying to tell.

Yup, poorly designed encounter (uninetional or deliberate) do just that. But the problem is with whoiever designs the encounter, not with "game balance." One myth that has been perpetrated since D&D 3E is that just because some game system uses some sort of method  (level for instance)  to "balance" off character with each other, or with the oppositions in a designed encounter that those characters and opponents are actually balanced. It's just not true. The reality is that there is no easy way to balance off one stat against another, spells against more hit points and so on. The value of all that stuff varies depending on the situation the characters are in, and how the players actually play the game. 

I've slaughtered more groups with inept opponents that they should have waltzed through,  that I have with competent ones who were designed to give them a run for their money. In the vast majority of those situations is was because of how poorly the players actually played that session. Sometimes dice even make a difference. 

 

21 minutes ago, Thyrwyn said:

When the players steamroll through the climactic finale, or the meaningless encounter turns into a TPK because the GM didn't realize that that one little spell or ability would be so effective/ineffective; or the players expected that resource-sucking spell/ability to pull its weight and turned out to be useless - all of those things make for crappy experiences, and make the time they've invested in the game and the story seem poorly spent.

Yes, and the blame for that should fall squarely on the shoulder of the GM, not on some mythical "game balance". The GM is running the game and should try to work things out. If a game is "balanced" and the group still steamrollers the bad guys, what then? Do you blame the game for "bad balance"? If so then who or what do you blame when you run another group, with the same characters, and they have a hard time? Did the adventure suddenly become more balanced? 

The real danger her isn't that a game system isn't balanced properly, but that a GM just assumes that an adventure must be balanced because some sort of point of Challenge Rating says that it is. Which, BTW, if you look at such systems closely, warn you about. A group of Kobold or Trollkin archers in no armor might be meat according to the Challenge Rating, Treasure Factor or by some other point method, but if they are on the battlements of a fort, with cover, while the PCs are out in the open, then the encounter isn't "balanced"

And speaking of balance, most "balanced" encounters are not supposed to be balanced, they are supposed to be fixed in favor of the player characters. There was a time when GMs and DMs were expected to be able to fix the fights on their own, and didn't need instructions on how to do it. 

21 minutes ago, Thyrwyn said:

There are plenty of table top RPG's that allow for thematic, engaging, immersive experiences without requiring everyone at the table to have a PhD in rules mastery.

Yup, and with every RPG there are trade offs. You get X but give up Y. Prince Valiant is much simpler than Pendragon (or RuneQuest for that matter). Both Prince Valiant and Pendragon are Arthurian RPGs. If I wanted to run a pick up game or play in one shot adventure with inexperienced players, I'd opt for Prince Valiant any day. It's much simpler to understand, doesn't require dice, most players will be up to speed within an hour, and you can run the same sort of adventures with it as you could in Pendragon. But, that simplicity comes at a price. There are features and nuances in Pendragon that Prince Valiant just doesn't have. And players can do things in Pendragon that they just can't do in Prince Valiant. Now I like both games, and have had lots of fun running and playing both. But it's still a trade off.

21 minutes ago, Thyrwyn said:

It's why I stopped running/playing D&D 3.5 - planning a game for hard core experienced players was dramatically different than planning one casual or new players - even if both games were the same level.

Because game balance is a myth. Give me a group of experienced players in any game and they will trash a group of novices nine times out of ten. They probably only lose the tenth time because luck counts too.That's the learning curve and that's life. I can't think of any game where familiarly with the game and with similar situations doesn't play off. Certainly not any RPG. Not unless the GM is fudging things excessively to force whatever outcome he desires. 

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12 minutes ago, g33k said:

That said, "canon" states that she's a death-goddess called "the avenging daughter" with Axe Trance & Berserker among her Rune Magic & "Hate(Oathbreaker) 90%" as a qualifying Rune-level Skill.  The official illlo shows her with taloned hands and feet, wearing skulls for a kirtle and necklace, and dual-wielding axes with fresh bloody heads & hands as adornments... very Kali-vibe!  A happy-fluffy goddess she is NOT.

Exactly. It's not like Vivamort or Thanatar are supposed to be nice guys either. The abilities and restrictions are tailored to the nature of the deities. We don't have to get all politically correct  with the various cults and balanced them all off against each other, and make sure they all are "special" in the same way? Do we?

Just look at what the followers of  major deities get compared to the followers of minor ones. The major cults get more and better rune spells, more allied cults (and access to even more spells) more allies and so forth. That's just how it is.   

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2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Exactly. It's not like Vivamort or Thanatar are supposed to be nice guys either...  

???

What about them Chinese tea prices, anyhow?

Than&Viv are aimed squarely at NPC status... Foes to thwart, and kill.  They are SUPPOSED to be Nastiness Incarnate.

Babeester Gor is a player option in the core book; I'd bloody well hope the B.Gori come across as less vile that T&V followers!!!  Most of her color text does emphasize more the "sacred protector" than the "instrument of bloody vengence."

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1 hour ago, g33k said:

???

What about them Chinese tea prices, anyhow?

It's still tea.

1 hour ago, g33k said:

Than&Viv are aimed squarely at NPC status... Foes to thwart, and kill.  They are SUPPOSED to be Nastiness Incarnate.

Exactly. And Babeester Gor is supposed to be a bad-ass warrior born from her mother's corpse. A merciless, cruel, blood drinking avenger daughter. That's her thing. 

1 hour ago, g33k said:

Babeester Gor is a player option in the core book; I'd bloody well hope the B.Gori come across as less vile that T&V followers!!!  Most of her color text does emphasize more the "sacred protector" than the "instrument of bloody vengence."

Yes but it never says that her cult's abilities are "balanced" off against the other cults to make sure everybody gets equal sized pieces of rune and spirit magic. Some cults are actually more powerful than others. 

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@atgxtg we have different expectations, and I’ll leave it at that. Thank you for the great discussion, though!

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9 hours ago, Anunnaki said:

Um. Can we please keep the "women only, virgin women only, play as a girl, whether 'implied' or otherwise" for Babeester Gor out of this debate? Official Chaosium and fans both, please.

Sorry if that offended you.

But... The full Babeester Gor stuff to me is the nightmare. There are other Axe women which often get mixed up with Babeester, but - at least in my Glorantha - these don't have the full spectrum of the nifty Babeester magics as they don''t buy into the more gruesome parts.

This is similar to the Lead Cross Humakti, Eurmal the Kill-Eye, Orlanth Deathwielder. Individuals with such powers exist, have to exist to make the world run, and they will mutilate your life (as a Gloranthan) or your game (as a player of Glorantha) if you let them into your community. It is right there with the Cults of Terror in player hands.

 

9 hours ago, Anunnaki said:

My wife plays a Babeester Gor in our house campaign and, in the oft-stated spirit of Your Glorantha Will Vary, she plays the character and her relationship to her cult how "she" wants to play it.

And she is welcome to do so, as is your campaign to accommodate such forms. My stance may be that of "not a real Scotsman" here. But then, when the "Onslaught" Humakti fiction appeared on the Digest and contaminated the Cult of Humakt, I decided to go with that, use it as the part of Humakt I didn't want to have part of in my campaign, and contrasted it with as borderline a version of Humakt that was sociable and almost completely based on the Truth rune with just the necessary Death connection to still be within Humakt. And after designing this paragon as the would be initiation patron of my character, I had him duel with Onslaught, and be killed, and my character shying away from the idea that he might join Humakt.

 

9 hours ago, Anunnaki said:

There is nothing in the rulebook (thankfully) that says that she must play a psychopathic, man-hating, beer-swilling, genital-mutilating instrument of death and, while I genuinely *get* that there is archetypal (canonical) precedence for this, this is *a game* not a pseudo-historical simulator.

True. The rulebook gives a number of shorthands, which also serve as templates for similar cults, with similar though not quite identical magic - see the bitter Elmal Yelmalio discussions. The longer write-up of Babeester may feature lots of unpleasant stuff that might you and your wife reconsider finding her a similar but not identical deity or aspect that you couldn't have learned from the rulebook.

Then there is enlightenment and transitioning the cult (or at least a local portion of it) into a path different from those gruesome things. Something like Monrogh applied to other cults.

But in the end, I stick to Peter Parker/Spiderman principle also in its reverse. If great power comes with great responsibilities, then some of the great powers provided by deities on the dark spectrum come with dark responsibilities, and for non-dark characters to have these breaks a balance.

This may turn into Grimdark, and if you say that your game goes without that, all the power to you.

I feel that a Grimdark lingering just beyond bad decisions of the main protagonists of the Gloranthan story is appropriate, and adds to the threat of doom that the Hero Wars ultimately are supposed to bring. Like you, I prefer my campaign not to be immersed with that, but the occasional dip or splash of that serves for presenting that threat.

 

There is definitely a call for gaming in a lighter, less conflicted Glorantha, but picking the most conflicted cults to play out in that sort of contradicts that approach as far as I am concerned.

 

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4 hours ago, Thyrwyn said:

@atgxtg we have different expectations, and I’ll leave it at that. Thank you for the great discussion, though!

Okay, but as RQ, RPG, Pendragon and various games were not designed to be "balanced" I don't think they will meet your expectations. What you are looking for doesn't really exist in RQ.

Per Jeff from Chaosium per this thread about balancing encounters (my bold & italics): 

Quote

Balance guidelines? In the end it comes down to this - there should be always be a way for the players to get around most of an adventure's obstacle by means other than combat. That can be run away, talk to the monster, or find some allies. Jason is working on some more nuanced guidance than that, but at the end of the day, BRP balance is setting based not mechanically balanced - if your plucky but outnumbered band of rebels decide to take on that patrol of professional soldiers who are nearly as competent as them, you have a good chance of having a TPK. Just like common sense would suggest. And also keep in mind, one critical or one fumble can be a complete game changer - and how do you balance for that? 

But balance like D&D or Pathfinder does it? That’s just not how we roll. Not in Call of Cthulhu, not in Pendragon, and not in RuneQuest. A big monster with a descent chance of hitting is going to be really tough. Might wipe out the whole party. Same thing with a Rune Lord more skilled in combat than any member of the party. That’s just how it is with BRP.

If you want nicely balanced attritional adventures where the scenario is designed that the party should be able to fight their way to success against a series of level and class appropriate foes, then maybe Pathfinder or 13th Age is better for you. 

But me - I have always loved the danger of BRP. I've loved it in Call of Cthulhu, in Pendragon, and in RuneQuest. To each their own.

 

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10 hours ago, g33k said:

That said, "canon" states that she's a death-goddess called "the avenging daughter" with Axe Trance & Berserker among her Rune Magic & "Hate(Oathbreaker) 90%" as a qualifying Rune-level Skill.  The official illlo shows her with taloned hands and feet, wearing skulls for a kirtle and necklace, and dual-wielding axes with fresh bloody heads & hands as adornments... very Kali-vibe!  A happy-fluffy goddess she is NOT.

However, that doesn't mean that every Babeester Gori needs to be played exactly the same.

Protectress of the Earth? Guardian of Earth Temples? Watchress of Oaths? Axe Maiden? You can play all of these, without severing genitals or heads, or being bathed in blood. 

 

Also, generally, as Babeester Gor gets Axe Trance, which works as Sword Trance, Babeester Gor is fair game for discussion.

Edited by soltakss
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2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Okay, but as RQ, RPG, Pendragon and various games were not designed to be "balanced" I don't think they will meet your expectations. What you are looking for doesn't really exist in RQ.

Per Jeff from Chaosium per this thread about balancing encounters (my bold & italics): 

 

Not at all what i am talking about. Not in the slightest. I'm talking about the fact that -all else being equal -  there is a significant difference in power level between a Humakti Rune Lord who knows Sword Trance and one who does not. If they both have 10 RP and know 10 different cult Rune Spells, the one that knows Sword Trance has more impact on the game, regardless of which side of the story they're on. Not even if the other chose Sever Spirit - or even True Sword. That is the balance I'm talking about when I say something is unbalanced or under-costed.

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15 hours ago, soltakss said:

Personally, I think that this thread has exploded out of all usefulness for Jason to look at. Sure, it's an interesting thread with many rules discussions, but I doubt whether Jason can wade through all 12 pages and be able to give a constructive and useful answer. It would be better posting a series of focused questions in the Jason Q&A Thread.

Thank you for noticing. 

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