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Tywyll

Capping Battle Magic like RQ2

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So a bunch of spells in RQ2 had a hard 4 point limit (Bladesharp, Protection, etc). This has been removed ever since RQ3. Is this a good thing? 

I go back and forth on it. On the one hand I like the idea of powerful battle magic spells, letting an unarmored warrior drop a 10 point Protection or whatever. On the other hand, it seems like that sort of a magical arms race makes the game more difficult to manage (players will always be trying to get bigger and bigger spells, which limits their ability to carry magic, also it prevents easily gauging how powerful a creature might be, messing with the math of damage vs defence, etc).

So...does capping the spells work better? Was uncapping them a bad idea? Was it a good idea? 

For my own campaign, I was thinking of going back to Capped spells, but allowing Priests and Runepriests to sacrifice POW to exceed the caps...so uncapped spells exist, but they are only in the hands of Rune level characters. Or something like that. Alternatively, using the RQ4 idea of spells being limited to 2 for lay people, 4 for initiates, 6 for Acolytes (Godspeakers maybe?) and 8 for Priests. But I'm not sure. 

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The hard cap was an artificial-seeming limit, which is the sort of thing I'd personally try and avoid and I'm glad they junked. But IMG, getting spells past the approximate rough level of the old RQ2 cap will be difficult (you have to find some[one|spirit] who knows it at that level, and can teach it to you), and its very magnitude will cramp the variety of spell arsenal available. That latter restriction can be sidestepped to a greater or lesser extent with having spirits use their CHA to hold spells for you, but then those spells can be taken away. If you want to blow 11 POW on making a Bladesharp 10 Matrix (with a use restriction) so you don't have to remember it (once you've jumped through the hoops necessary to get a-hold of it), that's also fine, as far as I'm concerned.

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It is true that the cap is an artificial limit, but very high level spirit magic can easily overshadow non-stacking rune magic, and give some players the temptation to go for the one-trick-pony character. For instance, Bladesharp 10 is just too good a spell to have now (you do more extra damage than you would with Truesword on average, you are almost sure to subtract something from your opponent's Parry, and you damage magic creatures). It changes a competent warrior into a killing machine who fears only being outnumbered, so a competitive player may want to do anything to obtain it. Yes, it is not easy to obtain it, but it is worth it.

Personally, I am in favour of the cap, removing it only for particular kinds of characters (shamans, monks, etc.). In Glorantha, where Rune Magic is supposed to be supreme, unlimited spirit magic makes sense only for shamans, IMO. And YGWV.

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29 minutes ago, RosenMcStern said:

It is true that the cap is an artificial limit, but very high level spirit magic can easily overshadow non-stacking rune magic, and give some players the temptation to go for the one-trick-pony character. For instance, Bladesharp 10 is just too good a spell to have now (you do more extra damage than you would with Truesword on average, you are almost sure to subtract something from your opponent's Parry, and you damage magic creatures). It changes a competent warrior into a killing machine who fears only being outnumbered, so a competitive player may want to do anything to obtain it. Yes, it is not easy to obtain it, but it is worth it.

Personally, I am in favour of the cap, removing it only for particular kinds of characters (shamans, monks, etc.). In Glorantha, where Rune Magic is supposed to be supreme, unlimited spirit magic makes sense only for shamans, IMO. And YGWV.

Learning Bladesharp 10 would be close to a Heroquest in its own right, I feel. It still has soft counters (if it's the first 10 CHA-worth of Spirit Magic you learn, you won't be putting up Countermagic to stop the inevitable Befuddle/Demoralise, and if someone hits you, you may not have the Heal to keep going). I think it's good that it's still worth it, even if hard to get; it would suck to go to all the trouble and time expenditure to get it and find you never cast it.

I certainly agree that high magnitude Spirit Magic is powerful, but so is high magnitude Rune Magic, and there's no reason you can't combine the two anyway... RQG is aiming for hero-level games, so someone swinging Bladesharp-10'ed weapons and casting Heal Body on themselves when they get Thunderbolt-ed should, at some point, IMG become an expected level of moulinex. It's not something a starting character can do, I think, and that's a Good Thing. I think it's important, as a GM, to recognise the downsides of such approaches, too, since both player characters and their antagonists can walk these paths, and as a GM it's good to have an idea of what the PCs can do to stop the NPCs as well as vice versa.

I also disagree that Rune Magic is 'supposed' to be 'supreme'. It certainly has its advantages, at the 'easy-access' end of the scale, but if the worry is Spirit Magic's threat to Rune Magic's supremacy, permitting Shamanic traditions to 'match' or exceed Rune Magic capabilities doesn't really address that worry: Spirit Magic still could be more powerful, just not for 'everyone'. For me, they're each part of an ecosystem, and pursuing one might create an opportunity cost in progressing the other (if you're an Orlanthi hunting for that Shaman who might be able to find you a spirit that you can beat to learn Bladesharp 10, you're probably not ingratiating yourself with your Cult or Community, particularly, for example). And POW only comes along at a certain rate, to restrict the construction of Matrices and Bindings.   

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I am fine with the "hard cap" on stackable spells applying to spirit magic taught by the temples. To shamans, there should be no hard limit.

In RQ3, shaman-taught spells were harder to learn than temple-taught ones (greater spirit resistance, D6 POW per point of the spell rather than D4), and I ruled for my games that casting a spirit screen during the learning gave the spell spirit the opportunity to break off the combat it only started under coercion. This kind of soft capping did the job in RQ3.

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I think the artificiality of a hard limit is jarring in a game system that allows so much freedom elsewhere. Besides, if a GM really wants to limit such spells they can just make them increasingly hard to come by. So I suppose I'm arguing that limits should be applied in story terms rather than via the rules.

However, there is also the notion of character progression (or rather perception of progression) to contend with in game-crunch terms. With other systems you get levelled abilities, spells etc. In RQ almost everything is available from the outset. Higher percentages and stacked spells are the mechanical rewards of advancing (surviving) in the game. As womble said, PCs are aiming for Hero status. How are they going to do that if they can't even cast a high level Bladesharp? Sure, there are other ways to be magically puissant, but why restrict Spirit Magic? It is as legitimate a form of magic as any other.

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I wouldn't restrict it in any hard sense, but I would make it tricky to get anything much higher than 6 points, and 10 points would be really hard to come by. Certainly there are no Rune levels who happen to know it to teach nearby.

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Hummm...I can see those points, but it feels like if it does exist but is really hard to get then it becomes just one more thing that NPCs have access to that players don't really in most campaigns (Hero Quest abilities, full allotments of Rune Points, multiple sorcery skills at 90%+). As for player progression, Divine spells are there for progression, so are enchantments, etc. 

Personally, it doesn't bother me if Shaman are 'weaker' than Priests... spirits are weaker than gods so it seems reasonable to me that Shaman would be weaker than Priests. Shaman have their special abilities, which are pretty powerful, so it's not like they don't have a niche. But that's just me. 

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8 minutes ago, Tywyll said:

Hummm...I can see those points, but it feels like if it does exist but is really hard to get then it becomes just one more thing that NPCs have access to that players don't really in most campaigns (Hero Quest abilities, full allotments of Rune Points, multiple sorcery skills at 90%+). 

I think that only applies to starting characters, really, and because there aren't many "long-running" games of RQG yet... That, and the 'rules' for HQ abilities haven't been published yet. I certainly expect my players to achieve all those things (if any of them fancy digging into the game enough to try Sorcery, having seen their NPC companion chugging along at 'player' level). I feel that the spectrum of NPCs notionally present in the world (even if the players don't get around to interacting with them so they remain somewhat nebulous) should include the full gamut of power levels. But that doesn't mean the players should have immediate access to those power levels, nor that they should be thrown directly into conflict with NPCs at that sort of level of ability. So there's (probably) a Humakti Sword somewhere in the world who knows enough Bladesharp to take a Theist past Bladesharp 4 with a week's prayer and meditation, but the player characters don't know the Sharp Sword exists, let alone where to find 'em. And they probably ought to know better than to be getting into the sort of contest where having that sort of Bladesharp is 'required' until they've got the tools they need.

Just because an NPC has something doesn't mean a PC must have it, but it does mean that, as I see the ethos of the game's design, it ought to be possible for a PC to attain it if they can pay the price and pass the tests.

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21 minutes ago, Tywyll said:

Hummm...I can see those points, but it feels like if it does exist but is really hard to get then it becomes just one more thing that NPCs have access to that players don't really in most campaigns (Hero Quest abilities, full allotments of Rune Points, multiple sorcery skills at 90%+). As for player progression, Divine spells are there for progression, so are enchantments, etc.

18 Rune Points is hard for a PC to get, but an NPC can have them. Skills over 200% are hard to get, but an NPC can have them. Spirit Spells over 6 points are hard to get, but NPCs can have them. What's the difference? Why remove one of these advancement options?

Edited by PhilHibbs
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8 hours ago, RosenMcStern said:

It is true that the cap is an artificial limit, but very high level spirit magic can easily overshadow non-stacking rune magic, and give some players the temptation to go for the one-trick-pony character. For instance, Bladesharp 10 is just too good a spell to have now (you do more extra damage than you would with Truesword on average, you are almost sure to subtract something from your opponent's Parry, and you damage magic creatures). It changes a competent warrior into a killing machine who fears only being outnumbered, so a competitive player may want to do anything to obtain it. Yes, it is not easy to obtain it, but it is worth it.

Personally, I am in favour of the cap, removing it only for particular kinds of characters (shamans, monks, etc.). In Glorantha, where Rune Magic is supposed to be supreme, unlimited spirit magic makes sense only for shamans, IMO. And YGWV.

Perhaps the cap can be based on CHA. 1/3 to 1/2 CHA for instance. With the possibility of exceeding this in play by questing, physical or hero, or just playing it out. Character convincing and barganing with the Spirit, Shaman, or Priest. 

SDLeary

Edited by SDLeary
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42 minutes ago, SDLeary said:

Perhaps the cap can be based on CHA. 1/3 to 1/2 CHA for instance. With the possibility of exceeding this in play by questing, physical or hero, or just playing it out. Character convincing and barganing with the Spirit, Shaman, or Priest. 

SDLeary

I like this idea. 

I also like the idea of capping Spirit magic as described in the never released RQ4, because it helps define the different levels of adherence to a cult. For example, I would also place caps on rune spells, so only priests and rune-levels can access 3-point spells such as Flight and Resurrection. This means the most holy secrets of the cult are only taught to the most devoted individuals, which makes sens IMHO.

And then, shamans like Muriah in River of Cradles can have their terrifying Bladesharp-10 because, well, they're powerful badass shamans and they are able to find and defeat powerful spirits.

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1 hour ago, SDLeary said:

Perhaps the cap can be based on CHA. 1/3 to 1/2 CHA for instance. 

You could use this as a 'default' level of 'what is commonly available', I guess, for when you don't have a 'view' on what would be available from the readily-accessible temples/wise folk. If you're the type of GM who details all the senior NPCs in the area, you'll already know who can do what for the PCs, but if they have an 'unusual' request, that might possibly serviced from outside the 'detailed' environment, having some sort of guideline for yourself is probably a good plan.

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3 hours ago, Sumath said:

So... why do you want to cap Spirit Magic spells?

Because it is the way the system originally worked and as I said in the OP, I wonder if it makes the math and other aspects of the system work better.

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58 minutes ago, Runeblogger said:

I like this idea. 

I also like the idea of capping Spirit magic as described in the never released RQ4, because it helps define the different levels of adherence to a cult. For example, I would also place caps on rune spells, so only priests and rune-levels can access 3-point spells such as Flight and Resurrection. This means the most holy secrets of the cult are only taught to the most devoted individuals, which makes sens IMHO.

And then, shamans like Muriah in River of Cradles can have their terrifying Bladesharp-10 because, well, they're powerful badass shamans and they are able to find and defeat powerful spirits.

Yeah, RQ4 made the most sense, if you are going to go beyond the 4 point cap.

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11 hours ago, RosenMcStern said:

It is true that the cap is an artificial limit, but very high level spirit magic can easily overshadow non-stacking rune magic, and give some players the temptation to go for the one-trick-pony character. For instance, Bladesharp 10 is just too good a spell to have now (you do more extra damage than you would with Truesword on average, you are almost sure to subtract something from your opponent's Parry, and you damage magic creatures). It changes a competent warrior into a killing machine who fears only being outnumbered, so a competitive player may want to do anything to obtain it. Yes, it is not easy to obtain it, but it is worth it.

Personally, I am in favour of the cap, removing it only for particular kinds of characters (shamans, monks, etc.). In Glorantha, where Rune Magic is supposed to be supreme, unlimited spirit magic makes sense only for shamans, IMO. And YGWV.

Meh, sure it's better IN SOME WAYS but then it also takes up most of their spell capacity?  Takes a TON of time to cast.*  A ton of MP.

*note that the language on interrupting casting in RQG is pretty bad; "...If the spell caster’s concentration is broken in any sudden and unexpected way before they have finished with casting
a spell (for example, taking damage), they cannot cast the spell and must try again."  "AND Unexpected?"  So as long as you EXPECT that troll is going to whack you with the stonking great maul, no interruption?  Silly.

Personally, as a DM I'd love the opportunity to illustrate to a character who believes his shiny new Bladesharp 10 is the be-all, end-all of great magics...that it isn't.  Oh it's good, certainly.  But IMO if you're at the level where you're throwing around 10pt spirit magics, your peer enemies are going to have a number of Rune points - maybe quite a few - and will likely cut you to ribbons in the 12 seconds you stand there staring at your sword.

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36 minutes ago, Tywyll said:

Because it is the way the system originally worked and as I said in the OP, I wonder if it makes the math and other aspects of the system work better.

But I think the original reason for the cap was that the authors were unsure as to how overpowering the game would be without a cap. I think the removal of the cap was because it turned out to be unnecessary. In RQ3, few characters wanted to allocate so much INT to memorizing a 10 point spell, and "forgetting" the spell to make room worked differently in that the spell was lost, not just shifted out of ready memory. Plus finding a sprirt with such a powerful spell and beating in in spirit combat had it's own challenges. 

Is there so much spell storage in RQG that a character can afford to allocate 10 points to memorize it? I mean, even with an 18 CHA (they use CHA instead of INT now, right?) that only leaves 8 points free for other spells, and a character would probably want to have Protection, some Healing, a POW vs POW type spell such as Disrupt to get POW gain rolls, plus maybe one or two other useful spells like Light, Speedart, Mobilty, or Repair on hand.  

 

Then again the over 100% reducing the opposing parry rule didn't exist in RQ3, so Bladesharp is more useful in RQG if it gets a weapon attack over 100%. 

 

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6 hours ago, styopa said:

Personally, as a DM I'd love the opportunity to illustrate to a character who believes his shiny new Bladesharp 10 is the be-all, end-all of great magics...that it isn't.  Oh it's good, certainly.  But IMO if you're at the level where you're throwing around 10pt spirit magics, your peer enemies are going to have a number of Rune points - maybe quite a few - and will likely cut you to ribbons in the 12 seconds you stand there staring at your sword.

I actually did just that waaaay back in RQ3. A character who was going to face a dragon went on a quest to get a powerful sword that had a Bladesharp 10 matrix.  He retrieved the sword, faced the dragon, activated the spell, and proceeded to bounce off the dragon's 25 point scales.The look on the player's face was priceless. He eventually scored a critical and disabled the thing, although it stayed up for awhile, making CON rolls, and knocking said PC about like a pinball. The only reason why the player survived was because he was both heavily armored and made all his parries, and he still lost an arm in the process. 

Edited by Atgxtg
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17 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Is there so much spell storage in RQG that a character can afford to allocate 10 points to memorize it? I mean, even with an 18 CHA (they use CHA instead of INT now, right?) that only leaves 8 points free for other spells, and a character would probably want to have Protection, some Healing, a POW vs POW type spell such as Disrupt to get POW gain rolls, plus maybe one or two other useful spells like Light, Speedart, Mobilty, or Repair on hand.  

There are ways of extending your Spirit Magic cap.

You can use the spells that bound Spirits know "...The binder of a spirit can use any spirit magic the spirit possesses and the magic points of the spirit to fuel spells."

And I'm struggling to find the reference, but I'm fairly sure you can transfer knowledge of Spirit Magic to a Spirit you have bound, so you can forget it... But that might be a [mis]remembered feature of a different ruleset.

Creating matrices is an option for Priests (or people with knowledge of Spirit Magic or Sorcery Enchantments), and the sacrificed POW can be applied either piecemeal, or by contributors other than the caster (I can imagine a Hero Band or set of Huscarls all chipping in a point for a big Matrix that can be passed around).

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1 hour ago, womble said:

There are ways of extending your Spirit Magic cap.

You can use the spells that bound Spirits know "...The binder of a spirit can use any spirit magic the spirit possesses and the magic points of the spirit to fuel spells."

Yes, but how many bound sprirts know Bladesharp 10?

1 hour ago, womble said:

And I'm struggling to find the reference, but I'm fairly sure you can transfer knowledge of Spirit Magic to a Spirit you have bound, so you can forget it... But that might be a [mis]remembered feature of a different ruleset.

Maybe, but wouldn't the spirit need high enough stats to hold the spell? 

1 hour ago, womble said:

Creating matrices is an option for Priests (or people with knowledge of Spirit Magic or Sorcery Enchantments), and the sacrificed POW can be applied either piecemeal, or by contributors other than the caster (I can imagine a Hero Band or set of Huscarls all chipping in a point for a big Matrix that can be passed around).

So it sounds like the campaign is already getting very high powered if the players have the capability to pull that off. Frankly I don't see Bladesharp 10 being much better than say, Bladesharp 5 and Protection 5. I'd be more concerned about something like Multimissle 10, but even then it's probably overkill.

 

 

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I started with RQ2, and my experience over the last 35 years is that everyone just learns the capped value. If the limit is 4, everyone learns 4 - any limits such as INT or ‘just a starting PC’, are circumvented at the earliest opportunity, either through matrices, money, or spirits. Such circumventions add nothing to the experience of the game, so:

why not make the spells fixed in cost and effect? Make them all 4 point spells at the equivalent effect ; either allow Heal to reattach a limb or divide it into 2 spells (one stops bleeding, one reattached limbs). No one who knows 

[not counting Heal, which broke that rule anyway, and which had meaningful breakpoints at: 2 - stopped bleeding; 3 - for those with healing focusing crystals; 4 - for editions which halved healing cast on other species; 6 - for re-attaching lost limbs]

 

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8 hours ago, Thyrwyn said:

I started with RQ2, and my experience over the last 35 years is that everyone just learns the capped value.

Yes, there is something hypnotic about a limit that draws people up to it. I suspect that if RQ3 had a hard limit of Bladesharp to 6, I would have seen Bladesharp 6 a lot more frequently. As it is, I think the highest I ever legitimately had was 5, other than that one Dorastor campaign where we all created Rune level characters from the outset.

Edited by PhilHibbs

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10 hours ago, womble said:

And I'm struggling to find the reference, but I'm fairly sure you can transfer knowledge of Spirit Magic to a Spirit you have bound, so you can forget it... But that might be a [mis]remembered feature of a different ruleset.

I would be very interested to know the origin of this rule (i.e. in which ruleset it originates).

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8 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, but how many bound sprirts know Bladesharp 10?

Quite. They'd be rare, which is why not every Shaman knows where to find a spirit with such a high mag single spell for you to attempt to beat in spirit combat.

8 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Maybe, but wouldn't the spirit need high enough stats to hold the spell? 

Of course. Absolutely. So the spirit you transfer your Bladesharp 10 to will need CHA 10, but that's not too much of a stretch. The eventual limit will be that you can have 6 or 7 spirits bound (as your CHA starts to get close to hu-Max), so you can theoretically have about 7 or 8 'big' Spirit Magic spells available. 

If I'm (as is entirely likely) wrong about being able to transfer knowledge of spells, there's a further consequence: since you have to actually have the spirit bound in order to have access to its spell, knowledge of the Big Spell will be further restricted, since the Spirit won't be available for the Shaman that found it for you to summon in order for someone else to learn the spell off it.

8 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

So it sounds like the campaign is already getting very high powered if the players have the capability to pull that off. Frankly I don't see Bladesharp 10 being much better than say, Bladesharp 5 and Protection 5. I'd be more concerned about something like Multimissle 10, but even then it's probably overkill.

Aye. IMG, the Big Spirit Spell would be 'suboptimal', and largely unavailable anyway until the party's fairly well-established at Runemaster level, and would need to be actively sought out.

I'd say Bladesharp 10 is quite a bit better than Bladesharp 5, as damage is a threshold game, and while you might expect a couple of points of the 5 to actually end up 'cleaving flesh', you'd expect against the same target that 7 would.

8 hours ago, Thyrwyn said:

I started with RQ2, and my experience over the last 35 years is that everyone just learns the capped value. If the limit is 4, everyone learns 4 - any limits such as INT or ‘just a starting PC’, are circumvented at the earliest opportunity, either through matrices, money, or spirits. Such circumventions add nothing to the experience of the game, so:

why not make the spells fixed in cost and effect? Make them all 4 point spells at the equivalent effect ; either allow Heal to reattach a limb or divide it into 2 spells (one stops bleeding, one reattached limbs). No one who knows 

I also started with RQ2, and I'd disagree that everyone 'just learns the capped value'. They may, eventually, gravitate towards knowing the variables they do know at their capped value, but they start off with lesser variants. And when there aren't any caps, they go past as far as the resources available to them in the world permit and they think their chosen role requires (which latter consideration makes the comments about Healing true whether there are caps or not, with the 'modern' exception, perhaps, of everyone having access to Heal Wound). For me, having natural "story-based" limitations works way better than fixed limits.

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