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EpicureanDM

Looking for practical combat tactics for GMs

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38 minutes ago, Ultor said:

One important thing to remember is that once your party reaches Rune Lord level, a lot of them will be defending against every POW-based attack with an effective POW of 21. So most offensive spells, even those cast by high-POW opponents, are going to bounce off them.

Large elementals, however, have large POW stats and/or attack with their large stats against non-POW stats, so they will be the weapon of choice against Rune level parties - at least in my experience so far. A large Shade, for instance, not only has a good chance of hurting a Rune Lord, but a small chance of killing her outright. An enemy who knows they will be facing Rune Lords should have access to elementals, I suspect, even if they are moving terrain.

Similarly, spirits, which have been discussed above in spirit combat roles, can have high POW and spell capability, so a shaman who controls some of those can suddenly start hurting Rune Lord parties in a way to which they may have become unaccustomed.

Thanks for sharing your experiences from the table, Ultor. Did you throw Small and Medium elementals or spirits at your party before they graduated to Rune Level? If so, can you share what the relative strengths were of each side? Any disasters or near-TPKs? ;)

Your point about Rune Lords resisting spells draws that rule out of the background a bit. It's probably fair to say that most RQG groups who are playing actively (at least those reporting in this thread) haven't reached Rune Level yet. New RQG GMs haven't had to adjust to Rune Lord spell resistance. It's a relatively high-level concern that many RQG GMs might not reach for a while, but having it in the back of the mind can be helpful down the road.

Edited by EpicureanDM
Additional thought about resists

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3 minutes ago, EpicureanDM said:

Thanks for sharing your experiences from the table, Ultor. Did you throw Small and Medium elementals or spirits at your party before they graduated to Rune Level? If so, can you share what the relative strengths were of each side? Any disasters or near-TPKs? ;)

It's actually the players who realized this first at my table - they used a Shade they'd got from a Heroquest to waltz through the rune-level adversaries I'd thrown at them (they had luck on their side as well - two insta-kills in the first two attacks). Our Foundchild shaman is already making plans for bargaining with powerful hunting spirits (who of course will have Multispell Disruptions) to have them help out. This week's session should see them take on a party of trolls occupying the Champion of Pavis' manor, so I'll be deploying these tactics back at them. If I keep detailed enough notes, I'll post what happens here.

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38 minutes ago, Ultor said:

It's actually the players who realized this first at my table - they used a Shade they'd got from a Heroquest to waltz through the rune-level adversaries I'd thrown at them (they had luck on their side as well - two insta-kills in the first two attacks). Our Foundchild shaman is already making plans for bargaining with powerful hunting spirits (who of course will have Multispell Disruptions) to have them help out. This week's session should see them take on a party of trolls occupying the Champion of Pavis' manor, so I'll be deploying these tactics back at them. If I keep detailed enough notes, I'll post what happens here.

Please do. My party's also in the Big Rubble, but we're only a couple of sessions in. The PCs still have that new-car smell.

 

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6 minutes ago, EpicureanDM said:

... The PCs still have that new-car smell.

I hope they didn't buy from "Crazy Etty's" lot (a couple of streets over from Gimpy's), the Etyries used-chariot salesman.  I'm pretty sure he just slaps new panelling over a damaged frame, and sprays on the smell.

I think he buys a couple of species of "stink beetles" from the trolls out on the edge of the Rubble, and judiciously mixes their sprays.

 

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If you are actively GM'ing right now with new players, I would definitely start with mostly physical attacks, but mix in some missile attacks.  When they start to realize that they have a "hole" in their game that could be problematic to fatal, they will likely try to address that somehow.

If no player is actively working the spell system, then spring an opponent on them with at least one guy who prefers to hold off and cast annoying spells like Demoralize, and a couple that happen to know Bladesharp, and possibly Shimmer or Protection.  Nomad adversaries seem about right here.   This should prompt them to either step up their Battle Magic game themselves, invest in Countermagic and/or Dispel Magic, or possibly attempt to try to skip right to Rune Magic. 

Whatever they try, after a concept has been introduced as a possibility, be sure to really exploit the power of that concept in subsequent encounters (when appropriate, of course).  Pick a fight with a Daka Fal shaman/priest and you are going to get a face full of spirits and magic. He/she may not swing a weapon once, but the players should be in jeopardy immediately.   If they go after Elves, volley's of missiles, backed by all manner of spirit magic is the almost certain response.  And very likely from ambush, unless the PC's have exceptional skills.

As the players start to react to the varied forms of attack and defense, you can watch what they do and learn from them as well.  Very few things are as inventive as a player given an open world, a home culture to fall back on, and a difficult problem between him and a mcguffin.  I'm willing to bet that most GM's here who have a few campaigns under their belt learned half their tricks from their players -- or more like 75%.

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On 3/4/2019 at 8:56 PM, EpicureanDM said:

Put some numbers and rules on this, Thyrwyn! How would you use RQG's rules to replicate this? Were other PCs in your game creating similar tricks? Share those, too.

Spit-balling for the new rules:

5 spirit binding matrices in the object for the Pain Spirits - 10 POW

4 POW to link the 5 matrices, 1 POW for user condition (only wearer of the belt), 1 POW for attack condition (release spirits when the wearer says the command phrase - 6 POW

Area Binding Effect: Spirit Binding (2 POW), plus Area condition (3 meter cube; 3 POW) - 5 POW

Target condition on Area Effect (only affects Pain Spirits - don’t want to trap anything else in there with you); User condition (only useable by the wearer of the belt); Attack condition (don’t attack the wearer of the belt) - 3 POW

24 POW total

In RQ  3 it was only 18 because POW spirits and Pain Spirits only had on stat, POW

since the spirits are still in a matrix, technically, the wearer can control them and put them away. Don’t pass out, because no one will want to come Heal you  

And, yes, it doesn’t follow the letter of the rules, but the area affect condition opens a lot of questions, so we just went with it.

and it did take 18 points of POW...

 

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9 hours ago, Thyrwyn said:

Spit-balling for the new rules:

5 spirit binding matrices in the object for the Pain Spirits - 10 POW

4 POW to link the 5 matrices, 1 POW for user condition (only wearer of the belt), 1 POW for attack condition (release spirits when the wearer says the command phrase - 6 POW

Area Binding Effect: Spirit Binding (2 POW), plus Area condition (3 meter cube; 3 POW) - 5 POW

Target condition on Area Effect (only affects Pain Spirits - don’t want to trap anything else in there with you); User condition (only useable by the wearer of the belt); Attack condition (don’t attack the wearer of the belt) - 3 POW

24 POW total

In RQ  3 it was only 18 because POW spirits and Pain Spirits only had on stat, POW

since the spirits are still in a matrix, technically, the wearer can control them and put them away. Don’t pass out, because no one will want to come Heal you  

And, yes, it doesn’t follow the letter of the rules, but the area affect condition opens a lot of questions, so we just went with it.

and it did take 18 points of POW...

 

Important to note here that, in the new edition, according to my memory you can both create enchantments over time (don't need to drop the POW all at once), and can have others contribute so long as the enchanter spends at least one POW.

So this sort of stuff is still a huge investment, but is more viable, more quickly, than in RQ3. @EpicureanDM there was a thread a while back around here that was looking into Linked spell & other enchantment tricks/abuses which might be of interest to you. A notable, simple one to my mind is linked Disruption matrices.

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7 hours ago, Crel said:

So this sort of stuff is still a huge investment, but is more viable, more quickly, than in RQ3. @EpicureanDM there was a thread a while back around here that was looking into Linked spell & other enchantment tricks/abuses which might be of interest to you. A notable, simple one to my mind is linked Disruption matrices.

I'd love to see that if you can find it.

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17 hours ago, Thyrwyn said:

Spit-balling for the new rules:

5 spirit binding matrices in the object for the Pain Spirits - 10 POW

4 POW to link the 5 matrices, 1 POW for user condition (only wearer of the belt), 1 POW for attack condition (release spirits when the wearer says the command phrase - 6 POW

Area Binding Effect: Spirit Binding (2 POW), plus Area condition (3 meter cube; 3 POW) - 5 POW

Target condition on Area Effect (only affects Pain Spirits - don’t want to trap anything else in there with you); User condition (only useable by the wearer of the belt); Attack condition (don’t attack the wearer of the belt) - 3 POW

24 POW total

In RQ  3 it was only 18 because POW spirits and Pain Spirits only had on stat, POW

since the spirits are still in a matrix, technically, the wearer can control them and put them away. Don’t pass out, because no one will want to come Heal you  

And, yes, it doesn’t follow the letter of the rules, but the area affect condition opens a lot of questions, so we just went with it.

and it did take 18 points of POW...

Magnificent. 

For the veterans, was this sort of thing common in past RQ games? How many groups reached this level of play? To me, it looks like people discussing high-level D&D play: often theorized, rarely practiced.

I know you're speaking from personal experience, @Thyrwyn. No slight intended. ;)

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1 hour ago, EpicureanDM said:

Magnificent. 

For the veterans, was this sort of thing common in past RQ games? How many groups reached this level of play? To me, it looks like people discussing high-level D&D play: often theorized, rarely practiced.

I know you're speaking from personal experience, @Thyrwyn. No slight intended. ;)

We have a couple of players, in particular a sorcerer that has done this level of astonishingly complex analysis.  We play a bastard mishmash of RQ3, Sandy's sorcery, and Sandy's Tekumel sorcery, so basically none of it would be useful in this RQG advice context.

The other player, more of a warrior type, long since felt his investment of POW was best used in strengthening enchants for his hit locations.  At +1d6hp/point of POW as a long, long serving Orlanthi RL he's probably invested 20? Pow into various locations, I don't honestly know how many hp he has in the various places anymore off the top of my head.  On average that's +10hp per location, but I know he's heavily biased his head/chest/abd and weapon arm.  IIRC his chest and head each have 20hp each.

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7 hours ago, EpicureanDM said:

For the veterans, was this sort of thing common in past RQ games?

If I recall from my old RQ3 game, my one player who ran a pair of sorcerers worked on relevant enchantments for them with various conditions applied.  

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7 hours ago, styopa said:

We have a couple of players, in particular a sorcerer that has done this level of astonishingly complex analysis.  We play a bastard mishmash of RQ3, Sandy's sorcery, and Sandy's Tekumel sorcery, so basically none of it would be useful in this RQG advice context.

The other player, more of a warrior type, long since felt his investment of POW was best used in strengthening enchants for his hit locations.  At +1d6hp/point of POW as a long, long serving Orlanthi RL he's probably invested 20? Pow into various locations, I don't honestly know how many hp he has in the various places anymore off the top of my head.  On average that's +10hp per location, but I know he's heavily biased his head/chest/abd and weapon arm.  IIRC his chest and head each have 20hp each.

“Strengthening” Enchantments. Well worth the investment. 

@EpicureanDM

Our group plays 3-4 weekends a year, now. Started as a weekly game in the 80’s. 6-10 players each weekend.  We generally lose one Rune Level a weekend. New characters generally reach God-talker level by the end of the next weekend. We play mostly 3rd edition with some adds (Rolemaster criticals as heroquest abilities, lots of hero quests to middle earth, the Young Kingdoms, etc...)

at least one of the PCs (a Melnibonean) has a racial Max POW in the mid 30’s  

We play a pretty ‘high level’ game, since we get to play so infrequently. Most of the characters in our group have at least 30 POW invested in Rune Spells and enchantments. Our troll group once used Mindlinks to cast a Crack spell (one use) backed by 300+ magic points to piss off some Mostali, and then had our Death Lord d10 divine intervention to get us back home before a fight could even get started. 

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On 3/4/2019 at 5:12 PM, EpicureanDM said:

How did old RQ2/3 GMs go about introducing spirit combat to their games?

In RQ2, Spirit Combat was deadly, as 0 POW meant permadeath. Experienced Rune Levels would cast Spirit Block and run away when confronted with a fairly powerful spirit.

In RQ3, you lost Magic Points, same as in RQG, so it wasn't as deadly.

Shamans can be powerful, as they can unleash a host of spirits to attack. 

We generally played that Spirit Combat was an Action, so you could attack/parry/cast a spell/engage in spirit combat.

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On 3/4/2019 at 9:45 PM, g33k said:
On 3/4/2019 at 9:16 PM, EpicureanDM said:

So who were the powergamin' RQ ninjas who were running epic battles with spirits flying all over the place?!

How 'bout @soltakss's River Voices campaign?

https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/7919-our-runequest-gloranthan-campaign-the-river-voices-legend-of-the-arganauts-has-come-to-an-end/?tab=comments#comment-111784

https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/8098-the-tale-of-ambassador-king-emperor-mello/?tab=comments#comment-114684

Not much spirit combat in the game, to be honest. We had a Shaman, but rounds and rounds of Spirit Combat not involving anyone else was boring, so we rarely had it.

Shan Agar, our Shaman, used Spirits as offensive shields, just to take opponents out of combat, or as things to confuse the enemy. 

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On 3/6/2019 at 7:41 PM, EpicureanDM said:

Thanks for sharing your experiences from the table, Ultor. Did you throw Small and Medium elementals or spirits at your party before they graduated to Rune Level? If so, can you share what the relative strengths were of each side? Any disasters or near-TPKs? ;)

Elementals can be devastating. The above use RQ2 Elementals, as I can't remember the differences between RQ2 and RQG Elementals.

A Shade with a high POW can Demoralise a whole party, if you are lucky, sometimes taking them out completely. Same with a Lune (Befuddle).

A strong Gnome can break the legs of all the party members, if they are close together and standing on earth. It can also be used to undermine the foundations of a building or move through the earth.

A Salamander uses Heatshock that can kill weaker PCs. It is good for the initial attack, but then has to be moved out and moved back in to Heatshock again.

Undines are less effective in combat, as it takes a while for them to drown PCs and they can be attacked while doing so, making it unlikely they will last long enough to drown a PC.

Sylphs are good for flying and can through a PC up in the air and cause Falling damage, but are unlikely to cause a TPK unless you are on the edge of a cliff.

I can't remember what Selenes do, but they might have drained fatigue, so were not really combat-oriented.

For us, Shades, Lunes, Gnomes and Salamanders were dangerous in combat.

Edited by soltakss
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15 hours ago, EpicureanDM said:

For the veterans, was this sort of thing common in past RQ games? How many groups reached this level of play? To me, it looks like people discussing high-level D&D play: often theorized, rarely practiced.

Investing 18 POW on Enchantments? Happened a lot in our RQ3 and River Voices Campaigns. 

Sometimes they used it for Special Effects. Derak the Dark Troll was turned into a Living Lead Skeleton in our shared RQ2/RQ3 game, so he enchanted three Wraiths into his skeleton, with an Area Enchantment limiting them to the skeleton, so they constantly whirled around inside him, just to intimidate opponents. I think that cost 10 POW.

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23 hours ago, Thyrwyn said:

Our group plays 3-4 weekends a year, now. Started as a weekly game in the 80’s. 6-10 players each weekend.  We generally lose one Rune Level a weekend. New characters generally reach God-talker level by the end of the next weekend. We play mostly 3rd edition with some adds (Rolemaster criticals as heroquest abilities, lots of hero quests to middle earth, the Young Kingdoms, etc...)

at least one of the PCs (a Melnibonean) has a racial Max POW in the mid 30’s  

We play a pretty ‘high level’ game, since we get to play so infrequently. Most of the characters in our group have at least 30 POW invested in Rune Spells and enchantments. Our troll group once used Mindlinks to cast a Crack spell (one use) backed by 300+ magic points to piss off some Mostali, and then had our Death Lord d10 divine intervention to get us back home before a fight could even get started. 

I'm impressed, but also going to keep in mind that your PCs are demigods when I read your advice. ;)

17 hours ago, soltakss said:

Elementals can be devastating. The above use RQ2 Elementals, as I can't remember the differences between RQ2 and RQG Elementals.

A Shade with a high POW can Demoralise a whole party, if you are lucky, sometimes taking them out completely. Same with a Lune (Befuddle).

A strong Gnome can break the legs of all the party members, if they are close together and standing on earth. It can also be used to undermine the foundations of a building or move through the earth.

A Salamander uses Heatshock that can kill weaker PCs. It is good for the initial attack, but then has to be moved out and moved back in to Heatshock again.

Undines are less effective in combat, as it takes a while for them to drown PCs and they can be attacked while doing so, making it unlikely they will last long enough to drown a PC.

Sylphs are good for flying and can through a PC up in the air and cause Falling damage, but are unlikely to cause a TPK unless you are on the edge of a cliff.

I can't remember what Selenes do, but they might have drained fatigue, so were not really combat-oriented.

For use, Shades, Lunes, Gnomes and Salamanders were dangerous in combat.

That's solid stuff.

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19 hours ago, soltakss said:

Investing 18 POW on Enchantments? Happened a lot in our RQ3 and River Voices Campaigns. 

Sometimes they used it for Special Effects. Derak the Dark Troll was turned into a Living Lead Skeleton in our shared RQ2/RQ3 game, so he enchanted three Wraiths into his skeleton, with an Area Enchantment limiting them to the skeleton, so they constantly whirled around inside him, just to intimidate opponents. I think that cost 10 POW.

Power as an ascetic decorative function—at a great cost! That is ... really impressive.

Humans will always find a way to pimp their (ride or... insert your item to be pimp'd here). I can't imagine that would not be the case with other races. Love the troll (argan argar?) wearing obsidian shades, a very cool hipster hat and bling featured in Troll Pack (I am old, was this the corrrect origin?) by Sandy et al from the 80's. Wicked cool.

Cyberpunk Mostali begin to make sense, how many POW for a set of really interesting obsidian shades (place imagination here, for just what they can do). Pretty as well as functional gets extra credits, woo hoo! Nice one Soltakss for pointing out power without pretty is just inhuman.

Cheers

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On 3/1/2019 at 10:58 PM, soltakss said:

Everyone casts spells at the same Strike Rank at one opponent.

We played that Countermagic acted against the total points of spells that hit it, not against individual spells, so 5 Disrupts would blow down a Countermagic 3. With Multispell, you can do your own spell barrages.

Never seen it ruled that way! Interesting, but I don't think I'd rule it. To me, each spell is independent, like arrows hitting armour. Particularly in RQG, SRs aren't impulses, strictly 1-per-second.

In general, one thing I'd add to the existing discussion is that just as PCs may be low on RP in some encounters, or reluctant to use them, so might NPCs.

Edited by PhilHibbs

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On 3/9/2019 at 5:58 AM, Bill the barbarian said:

Power as an ascetic decorative Love the troll (argan argar?) wearing obsidian shades, a very cool hipster hat and bling featured in Troll Pack (I am old, was this the corrrect origin?) by Sandy et al from the 80's. Wicked cool.

My troll's shades were a long duration Form/Set Darkness.

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On ‎3‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 4:12 AM, EpicureanDM said:

How did old RQ2/3 GMs go about introducing spirit combat to their games? I recall that most beginning RQ3 characters were as competent in spirit combat as the beginning RQG characters you're describing. But I get the sense from reading mentions by RQ veterans and the text of various RQ products (past and present) that mature or advanced RQ combat has a spiritual component. There are allied spirits for Rune Lords (something that RQG characters start much closer to, mechanically) buzzing around and talk about shamans unleashing bound spirits held by their fetch.

Three suggestions:

1) There are plenty of very weak spirits around to cut your teeth on.  While the spirits that enemies are likely to bind and use against adventurers are usually dangerous, there are many other ones that are less potent.  These could be a low POW farmer that was killed in a raid and whose ghost now haunts his old cottage or a vindictive spirit that throws rocks people trespassing on its turf but isn't really powerful.  Your imagination is the limit here.

 

2) There are lots of fun but non-deadly things you can do to characters who lose against a spirit.  Being possessed by a spirit that causes excessive flatulence, or gives the adventurers really bad breath, or makes them stutter (causing a penalty to spell casting and communication skills) can be great roleplaying opportunities.

 

3)  There may be ways to escape a losing Spirit Combat encounter.  If a spirit is tied to a location (such as the ghost from above), can the adventurer's companions drag their friend away from the location, and if so will that end the spirit combat?  (I'm not sure what RQG has to say about that, but it makes sense to me).

 

.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Mechashef said:

2) There are lots of fun but non-deadly things you can do to characters who lose against a spirit.  Being possessed by a spirit that causes excessive flatulence, or gives the adventurers really bad breath, or makes them stutter (causing a penalty to spell casting and communication skills) can be great roleplaying opportunities.

That's one of the pieces that's been missing for me. Spirit "combat" suggests that it should have similar stakes to physical combat (injury, dire consequences, death). This comment suggests deploying spirits as hazards. If the PC loses the fight, there's a generally non-lethal or mildly harmful consequence. The stakes for spirit combat don't have to be high at first. A lost battle might result in a small penalty to certain skills until a possessing spirit's kicked out. A victorious guardian spirit might place a geas on the defeated PC to recover an item that will strengthen the guarded location (or to correct an existing flaw in the location's defenses). When reading old RQ material, I usually see spirits and spirit combat included as part of a fight to the death or involving disease spirits to harm the PCs. There are probably examples when that's not the case, so I acknowledge that I've probably got some confirmation bias going on. ;)

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