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Alexandre

Disease spirits

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Hi all,

in view of this week's big battle (spoiler for my players if they are reading this ;) ) I have a few questions about disease spirits. First of all, from the Bestiary (p. 169):

 

Quote

If successful, this does not force the victim’s spirit from the
body but infects the victim with the acute form of any disease
carried. A second success infects the victim with the chronic
version of the disease (see Disease, pages 154–156 of the
RuneQuest core rulebook).

This looks like RQ2, except that the rules on diseases in pages 154-156 of the rulebook are from RQ3, i.e. with  4 degrees of illness. I think I'll translate it as "the first success infects the victim with the mild form of the disease. Every subsequent success increases the degree of illness by one". 

Again from the Bestiary (p. 164):

Quote

Disembodied spirits are non-material entities existing in the Spirit World. They have POW and CHA.

However disease spirits only have POW! :) (They don't even have a spirit combat skill quoted, but this is simply fixed by just taking the POWx5 default). The problem is that the spirit combat damage table makes no provision for entities lacking CHA. I don't think the intention is to have disease spirits do less damage than other spirit types, so I guess I'll just add a 3d6 CHA.

Finally, one general question about spirits. To be in the Middle World, they need to be embodied in something or they need one round to materialize, right? You cannot have a spirit simply attacking a character without a 1 round delay (they have to come out from their binding object, at least). 

 

Thanks,

Alex

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Coincidentally, I ran a disease spirit for the first time last night. Here's how I handled your questions.

1 hour ago, Alexandre said:

This looks like RQ2, except that the rules on diseases in pages 154-156 of the rulebook are from RQ3, i.e. with  4 degrees of illness. I think I'll translate it as "the first success infects the victim with the mild form of the disease. Every subsequent success increases the degree of illness by one". 

I wasn't aware of the difference in the copy-paste error between editions on this one (if it is an error). My successful spirit attack used the acute form. Acute infection seemed OK since RQ's rules put an extra burden on Disease Spirits in combat. By my reading yesterday (performed as we played), Disease Spirits don't reduce magic points on successful attacks; they just infect their targets. To successfully infect, they have to succeed on a second Spirit Combat roll (another opposed roll) after they've succeeded on the first. They have to "hit twice" or, in old D&D terms, "confirm the critical." This rule defangs Diseases Spirits to my eye, so I ruled that the spirit just needed to succeed on an unopposed second roll against its own skill to inflict damage, i.e. the acute form of the disease. It still requires an extra roll, but avoids the higher difficulty of an opposed roll.

Why do Disease Spirits have to succeed in two combat rolls to inflict damage? Is it because diseases are harder to cure than lost MP? That could be handled by making Disease Spirits more rare rather than designing a punitive additional rule. Spirit Combat's already a bit dull compared to physical combat. Why make it harder for consequences of failure to be felt?

I also didn't appreciate this section of the Disease Spirit's description:

Quote

This infection requires another roll overcoming the target’s Spirit Combat skill, as if the disease spirit was trying to possess the victim. (emphasis added)

The emphasized text made it seem that there was a special rule governing possession that I had to find. I couldn't find any rules that require a spirit to make a Spirit Combat roll when attempting possession. In the rules about possession that I did find, there's always a reference to the target having 0 magic points being the necessary condition for possession. Such a target would be unconscious, so I can't see how the spirit would need Spirit Combat to possess someone in that state.

1 hour ago, Alexandre said:

However disease spirits only have POW! :) (They don't even have a spirit combat skill quoted, but this is simply fixed by just taking the POWx5 default). The problem is that the spirit combat damage table makes no provision for entities lacking CHA. I don't think the intention is to have disease spirits do less damage than other spirit types, so I guess I'll just add a 3d6 CHA.

My understanding is that Disease Spirits don't have CHA because their attacks don't reduce the target's magic points. A successful attack just keeps stacking the strength of their particular disease. See my comments above about whether their means of damaging opponents is too limiting.

1 hour ago, Alexandre said:

Finally, one general question about spirits. To be in the Middle World, they need to be embodied in something or they need one round to materialize, right? You cannot have a spirit simply attacking a character without a 1 round delay (they have to come out from their binding object, at least). 

My Disease Spirit was bound into decaying skulls by broo in the Middle World. I ruled that it required the 1-round delay to materialize from the skull and attack. Your question makes me want to return to the rulebook to see if spirits bound in the Middle World do require the 1-round delay, though. ;)

Edited by EpicureanDM

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It looks like the Bestiary was corrected and updated. My PDF says:

Quote

If successful, this does not force the victim’s spirit from the body but infects the victim with the acute form of any disease carried. A second success infects the victim with the next degree of the disease (see Disease, pages 154–156 of the RuneQuest core rulebook).

Also in my version they have a spirit combat of 75%...

They don't do damage, only inflicting disease.

1 hour ago, Alexandre said:

Finally, one general question about spirits. To be in the Middle World, they need to be embodied in something or they need one round to materialize, right? You cannot have a spirit simply attacking a character without a 1 round delay (they have to come out from their binding object, at least).

There are two spirit abilities that give the ability to be in the Middle World, Elemental Form (p166) & Solid Form (p167), and is also covered in Embodied Spirits on p176. An embodied such as an elemental appears on SR1 if it's summoned with Rune, magic or magic points in SRs for Summon (entity). Releasing an embodied spirit such as an elemental seems to be instant, so overall it's fast.

A spirit doesn't need to be in the the Middle World to attack, it attacks the target's spirit in the Spirit World, if it's embodied, it likely has a physical attack - page 167 says:

Quote

Embodied spirits cannot voluntarily engage in spirit combat nor cast spells when embodied.

The mechanism of disease spirits is straightforward - they are in the spirit world and that's where they attack. They don't materialise. If they are bound to an object they attack from there. You can run away and they can't follow you, as contact is the range of spirit combat (p164), you'd still need to disengage.

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Another question, since I have only played RQ3: 

- Why do you win 3 POW when you beat a disease spirit, but not when you beat a ghost or any kind of spirit?

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12 minutes ago, Runeblogger said:

Another question, since I have only played RQ3: 

- Why do you win 3 POW when you beat a disease spirit, but not when you beat a ghost or any kind of spirit?

I would love for there to be a considered design answer for this... ;)

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22 minutes ago, Runeblogger said:

Another question, since I have only played RQ3: 

- Why do you win 3 POW when you beat a disease spirit, but not when you beat a ghost or any kind of spirit?

Where is that from?

Oh wow, I just found it, p169 of the Bestiary. Hmmm. I have no idea why that is in there, it looks like a fantastic way to get a ton of POW by summoning and defeating a series of spirits with a ton of pre-prepared spirit combat boosts. No wonder Malia shamans are so scary, I bet they do this all the time!

Edited by PhilHibbs

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18 minutes ago, Runeblogger said:

Why do you win 3 POW when you beat a disease spirit

1D3 POW

1 minute ago, PhilHibbs said:

Where is that from?

RQ Bestiary pages 166 & 169

I Believe it's the immunity and the spirit combat tradeoff, disease spirits don't cause damage the same way in spirit combat, they just infect you while you try and batter them down. The more they win the more you are nearer to death. 

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5 minutes ago, David Scott said:

The more they win the more you are nearer to death. 

But remember that it's harder for them to win because they have to succeed on two Spirit Combat rolls in the same round in order to infect you or bump up the severity of the disease. So it's harder for them to inflict damage compared to other spirits and the reward for defeating them seems to be that you get POW increases from the lopsided fight in your favor. ;) 

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25 minutes ago, EpicureanDM said:

But remember that it's harder for them to win because they have to succeed on two Spirit Combat rolls in the same round in order to infect you or bump up the severity of the disease.

actually there are two conflicting statements about this on pages 166 & 169:

the one you're quoting needs the two rolls (page 169), the one I've been using (page 166) doesn't.

I've emailed this to Jason.

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2 hours ago, David Scott said:

The mechanism of disease spirits is straightforward - they are in the spirit world and that's where they attack. They don't materialise.

I am lacking the bestiary but, I always thought that all spirits become visible/material/whatever to attack in spirit combat, how else are you able to defend with a magic'd iron sword?

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2 minutes ago, David Scott said:

actually there are two conflicting statements about this on pages 166 & 169:

the one you're quoting needs the two rolls (page 169), the one I've been using (page 166) doesn't.

I've emailed this to Jason.

For fuck's sake...

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44 minutes ago, EpicureanDM said:

But remember that it's harder for them to win because they have to succeed on two Spirit Combat rolls in the same round in order to infect you or bump up the severity of the disease. So it's harder for them to inflict damage compared to other spirits and the reward for defeating them seems to be that you get POW increases from the lopsided fight in your favor. ;) 

Also worth pointing out, AFAIK if you get infected, then beat the spirit, you get the POW and the immunity to the disease for a year--thus clearing up the disease. At least, that's how I've read & played it so far.

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2 minutes ago, Crel said:

Also worth pointing out, AFAIK if you get infected, then beat the spirit, you get the POW and the immunity to the disease for a year--thus clearing up the disease. At least, that's how I've read & played it so far.

That's also how I'd play it if I use them RAW in the future. I'll probably strip out the POW increase. That's nonsensical.

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11 minutes ago, David Scott said:

and RQ2 see CoT page 31.

Ah, THERE'S the source for the copy-paste mistake in the Bestiary.

C'mon, Chaosium. C'mon.

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So we have three conflicting explanations of how disease spirits operate:

  1. Core rulebook p. 370, Possession section: "When a spirit reduces a corporeal entity’s magic points to 0, the spirit may possess the entity", and then in the bulleted list, "Covert Possession: The possessing creature exerts no influence upon the actions or consciousness of the natural owner of the body, but shares the physical form. Examples include disease spirits…".
    • To inflict a disease on the victim, the disease spirit must reduce the victim's MP to 0 through Spirit Combat
    • Once the victim is diseased, the disease spirit remains in covert possession of the victim until exorcised or until the victim's death
    • This is somewhat similar to the version from RQ3's Creatures Book, p. 35, albeit without the special "MP vs. targeted characteristic" mechanic for spirit combat
  2. Glorantha Bestiary p. 166, Disease section: "The first time this spirit succeeds in spirit combat that is not successfully defended against, it infects the victim with the acute version of any disease it carries. For each subsequent success, it infects the victim with another disease or with the next degree version of a previous infection. After the disease spirit has infected its victim with the chronic version of each disease carried, the disease spirit will try to withdraw to infect a new victim."
    • To inflict a disease on the victim, the disease spirit only needs to win one or more Spirit Combat exchanges, rather than reducing the victim all the way to 0 MP
    • The disease spirit does not take possession of the victim
  3. Glorantha Bestiary, p. 169, Disease Spirit entry: "…if the disease spirit succeeds in an attack when the victim fails, the spirit can try to infect the target with any of the diseases it is carrying. This infection requires another roll overcoming the target’s Spirit Combat skill, as if the disease spirit was trying to possess the victim. If successful, this does not force the victim’s spirit from the body but infects the victim with the acute form of any disease carried. A second success infects the victim with the next degree of the disease…"
    • To inflict a disease on the victim, the disease spirit needs to win one or more Spirit Combat exchanges and win a secondary opposed Spirit Combat contest for each, rather than reducing the victim all the way to 0 MP
    • The disease spirit presumably does not take possession of the victim
    • This is the version from RQ2's Cults of Terror, p. 31, though in that book the rolls were POW vs. POW contests rather than opposed Spirit Combat contests

@Jason Durall, which one is right?

Edited by trystero
Clarity, I hope
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2 hours ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

If a spirit wishes to attack a corporeal being, the spirit makes itself visible in the Middle World the melee round prior to its first attack. Pg 366 core rulebook

The full quote reads:

Quote

If a spirit wishes to attack a corporeal being, the spirit
makes itself visible in the Middle World the melee round
prior to its first attack.

One might read it as meaning a physical attack, but since it is in the spirit combat paragraph I think there is no doubt that spirits have to materialize for one round to attack an embodied target. If both are discorporate there is no delay (column after). 

By the way, thanks a lot! I did not understand how disease spirits worked at all! I guess I am relying too much on previous editions... 

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1 hour ago, trystero said:

So we have three conflicting explanations of how disease spirits operate:

  1. Core rulebook p. 370, Possession section: "When a spirit reduces a corporeal entity’s magic points to 0, the spirit may possess the entity." This means the spirit must reduce the victim's MP to 0 through Spirit Combat and then takes (covert) possession of the victim until exorcism or death.
  2. Glorantha Bestiary p. 166, Disease section: "The first time this spirit succeeds in spirit combat that is not successfully defended against, it infects the victim with the acute version of any disease it carries. For each subsequent success, it infects the victim with another disease or with the next degree version of a previous infection. After the disease spirit has infected its victim with the chronic version of each disease carried, the disease spirit will try to withdraw to infect a new victim." This means the spirit just needs to win one or more Spirit Combat exchanges (rather than reducing the victim all the way to 0 MP); it does not take possession of the victim.
  3. Glorantha Bestiary, p. 169, Disease Spirit entry: "…if the disease spirit succeeds in an attack when the victim fails, the spirit can try to infect the target with any of the diseases it is carrying. This infection requires another roll overcoming the target’s Spirit Combat skill, as if the disease spirit was trying to possess the victim. If successful, this does not force the victim’s spirit from the body but infects the victim with the acute form of any disease carried. A second success infects the victim with the next degree of the disease…" This means the spirit needs to win one or more Spirit Combat exchanges and win a secondary opposed Spirit Combat contest for each, rather than reducing the victim all the way to 0 MP; it presumably does not take possession of the victim.

@Jason Durall, which one is right?

Strange that there are so many variants... I think we always played with #1, where the spirit takes covert possession (and healing spirits could kick them out). 

The attack was a spirit combat, and if the player lost he rolled his affected stat VS the disease POT. Every loss for those rolls brought the disease up one level. 

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The reason disease spirits dont possess people is that IIRC disease spirits are physical beings unlike regular spirits.  They just spread infection and death, so while a disease spirit doest do straight damage each successfull hit lays a disease on you, while you are probably only doing 1d3 spirit damage a turn.

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I don't know why anyone would have disease spirits not do MP damage. Bestiary p166, paragraph 2, "Their initial spirit combat attack is normal." 

I think you have focussed too much on thier lack of CHA, or force of personality. They are simple things that act only as Mallia has created them, as mindless servants of Mallia, and their very high POW gives them more than enough grunt to wipe out adventurers, with 1D6 Spirit Combat Damage. 

PCs in our group niw whip out Spirit Block 3 and Glamour magic at the slightest sniff of Disease Spirits.

We also house ruled that destroying a Disease spirit grants only +1 POW, but also an immediate stat gain roll on the stat it would otherwise have infected, potentially allowing faster recovery from infection. 

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At the end, I ruled that disease spirits do MP damage just like any other spirit (although the damage is based on POW alone). If they succeed in an attack and the opponent does not, they get a second (opposed) roll to infect the target with one of their disease, starting at the acute level. 

Even though the second roll looks like a legacy rule (in RQ2 to possess a character you would need to make a second POW vs POW roll because the character could not be automatically possessed when his POW reached 0 - rather, he would cease to exist!) I thought that diseases are bad enough that giving a kind of second chance before getting ill would be fair.

The disease spirit attacked the assistant shaman. Only once it could infect him with a disease but failed. At the end, they both reached 0 MP at the same time. So, even though the PC became unconscious he still technically defeated the spirit and so got the immunity and the POW bonus.

Cheers,

Alex

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