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Breaking a geas

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2 hours ago, Imryn said:

I am still not sure why you are so down on Humakti.

That I am singling out Humakti over other cultists is your interpretation, without ever having played with me.

Where there is mythical precedence for a catch 22 situation, I am likely to inflict it on a character, more so in heroquesty situations. I probably will have some sort of Plan B prepared, and a player smelling this kind of rat probably is well advised to ask me whether the character knows about an applicable myth, and to have a decent Cult Lore or similar skill to roll on. Magical identification of an opponent is a proven way to deal with things normal skills fail to deal with.

 

2 hours ago, Imryn said:

They are not invulnerable, they are not overpowered,

Three rune points and a crystal full of MP give you +100% on attack and parry and double weapon damage. Not overpowered in the least? Not to mention that your friends and supporters can buff you up with more magic. Sword Trance is not transferable, True Weapon or Shield is.

2 hours ago, Imryn said:

they are (to some extent) killing machines, however that is a result of the cults focus and not the result of any useless "gifts". To compensate for any advantage they may have they are already playing for higher stakes than any other cult in every battle they fight. No resurrection is a huge disadvantage when you compare them to any other cult.

Chalana Arroy's Resurrection pales in numbers after a battle compared to the successful Divine Interventions against premature or pointless death on the battlefield by Humakti Swords. Said Sword may still die after his second DI has used up all available rune points, but he or she will have waded through the enemies thrice.

 

2 hours ago, Imryn said:

Manoeuvring them into lose/lose scenarios just to test geases that they have no choice about is grotesque. Its not a test if there is no pass mark, its just torture. Give them a test where they can "win" even if the price of winning is high, and I can understand, but a lose/lose "test" is pointless.

Never testing a geas is pointless. Never giving a character who voluntarily embraced Death (his own, too) high drama is pointless, too. I am not talking about "He's dead, Jim" pointless plot-proving deaths, as per John Scalzi's excellent take on Redshirts.

Recently, we had a thread that read something like "bummer, we have this character who joined Humakt to avenge a wrong, and now she did it and is still alive, and seeks a new purpose for this life." The player apparently was willing to go down with the nemesis.

Again, let me point to Samson's desperate defense against the Philistines, his great gift, and the condition upon which it was granted, but also to his "one last time" after the condition for the gift had been broken. Don't you think this is an almost purpose-made Humakti plot line?

 

2 hours ago, Imryn said:

If Glorantha worked they way you want there would be no cult of Humakt - shoot enough initiates in the head and eventually people will stop signing up. There is such a cult, so it follows that the vast bulk of Humakti are not subjected to your lose/lose tests, just the ones unlucky enough to be GM'd by you.

 

1 minute ago, Imryn said:

I have been trying to track down references to the Hevduran sub cult you mentioned, but outside a thread here about home brewed Lhankor Mhy rune magic I can't find anything.

The best RQ-ish source for the Sword Sages is the story "The Smell of a Rat" in the RQ2 Companion. Other than that, there is quite a bit on Hevduran in HeroQuest.

Basically, look at Sorala for a the combat abilities of a Sword Sage.

 

1 minute ago, Imryn said:

From what I can tell  this Lhankor Mhy subcult would give you access to sorcery,

If you choose so. Spirit Magic is a valid option, too. You don't have to play sorcerers in the Lhankor Mhy cult.

1 minute ago, Imryn said:

and rune magic and allow you to use your lore skills as positive modifiers on weapon skill roles?

That's a fairly recent RQG addition to the arsenal of Sword Sages. The traditional Sword Sage has no rune magic to aid his combat, but the normal range of spirit magic. He has probably a high Battle skill.

Carrying knowledge into combat, yes, that's what a Sword Sage is about. But does that beat specialist rune magic?

 

Rather than putting all of his learning efforts into combat, the Sword Sage travels in the pursuit of knowledge. He is the field working Sage, the one to traipse into ruins and copy ancient inscriptions or art that cannot be carried back to the library.  While not a front rank academic, he will need to be able to provide context to his finds.

 

1 minute ago, Imryn said:

If I was looking for a cult to top the list of "overpowered" ones this would be number one.

No Sword Trance or Shield, True Weapon or Sever Spirit. No Rune Lord Divine Intervention. Yes, overpowered, I see it clearly.

I said it is my personal favorite fighter cult. Not that is the most effective combatant cult. That would be some form of Man of All or Horali with both personal rune and spirit magic (in case of sorcerous Men of All from bound spirits) and sorcerous augmentation in the umpteens for various magic parameters. Arkati... Humakti with sorcery and illuminated access to Resurrection or otherwise heroic backdoor from the halls of the dead. Possibly with Kitori shape changer abilities, allowing them to manifest as Dark Trolls, Dehori demons or humans at will. Using a spear rather than a sword, for those early strike rank kills.

There might be a reason why Kitori who follow Black Arkat haven't seen any RQ write-up yet (or for that matter, neither any HQ write-up).

 

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32 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Recently, we had a thread that read something like "bummer, we have this character who joined Humakt to avenge a wrong, and now she did it and is still alive, and seeks a new purpose for this life." The player apparently was willing to go down with the nemesis.

 

T'was one of the truly golden threads, the best I have read in many a season or two. Made me proud to play RQ!

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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31 minutes ago, Joerg said:

The best RQ-ish source for the Sword Sages is the story "The Smell of a Rat" in the RQ2 Companion. Other than that, there is quite a bit on Hevduran in HeroQuest.

Loved it, it is available for Chaosium!

31 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Rather than putting all of his learning efforts into combat, the Sword Sage travels in the pursuit of knowledge. He is the field working Sage, the one to traipse into ruins and copy ancient inscriptions or art that cannot be carried back to the library.  While not a front rank academic, he will need to be able to provide context to his finds.

 

Considering the time period—the late 70s early 80s—I would imagine there to be  more than a tipping of the fedora to a famous Spielberg & Lucas Sword Sage.

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

That I am singling out Humakti over other cultists is your interpretation, without ever having played with me.

Where there is mythical precedence for a catch 22 situation, I am likely to inflict it on a character, more so in heroquesty situations. I probably will have some sort of Plan B prepared, and a player smelling this kind of rat probably is well advised to ask me whether the character knows about an applicable myth, and to have a decent Cult Lore or similar skill to roll on. Magical identification of an opponent is a proven way to deal with things normal skills fail to deal with.

Well, you haven't mentioned any other cults that you like to destroy characters who join them, and I've been meaning to ask if you are an equal opportunity character destroyer or not.

The fact that you expect magical identification of an opponent to be an advantage comes as no surprise - remind me which cults are good at that again...

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Three rune points and a crystal full of MP give you +100% on attack and parry and double weapon damage. Not overpowered in the least? Not to mention that your friends and supporters can buff you up with more magic. Sword Trance is not transferable, True Weapon or Shield is.

I assume you mean Sword Trance plus 10 mp and True Sword? Double weapon damage (that penetrates armor  - you forgot that bit)  is, as you note, transferable so your Humakti follower / meatshield (your preferred role for them) can give it to you. Sword trance is ok, but if played like arrow trace its not great.

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Chalana Arroy's Resurrection pales in numbers after a battle compared to the successful Divine Interventions against premature or pointless death on the battlefield by Humakti Swords. Said Sword may still die after his second DI has used up all available rune points, but he or she will have waded through the enemies thrice.

So using DI to avoid death blows is somehow exclusive to Humakti Rune Lords? Every other cult that has Rune Lords does exactly the same thing, and then goes on to use resurrection as well. Of course, Lhankor Mhy doesn't have any rune lords; unless your special subcult does?

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Never testing a geas is pointless. Never giving a character who voluntarily embraced Death (his own, too) high drama is pointless, too. I am not talking about "He's dead, Jim" pointless plot-proving deaths, as per John Scalzi's excellent take on Redshirts.

Recently, we had a thread that read something like "bummer, we have this character who joined Humakt to avenge a wrong, and now she did it and is still alive, and seeks a new purpose for this life." The player apparently was willing to go down with the nemesis.

Again, let me point to Samson's desperate defense against the Philistines, his great gift, and the condition upon which it was granted, but also to his "one last time" after the condition for the gift had been broken. Don't you think this is an almost purpose-made Humakti plot line?

I have never said that geases shouldn't be tested. I have said that the testing should be commensurate with the associated gift. Testing does not have to be destruction testing; you do not need to destroy the character to do it. There is nothing in the cult description that requires Humakti to be suicidal, nothing that requires them to seek death; they are required to dispense death, as and where appropriate.

"To his followers, Humakt is a frightening but necessary agent of eternal change who can be used in a courageous and noble way to preserve the world."

If any of the gifts approached Samsons gift I might agree with you - maybe permanent 100 STR in RQG terms? They don't, they are pathetic. 1 point of STR? Please, how can that justify destruction testing the character?

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

The best RQ-ish source for the Sword Sages is the story "The Smell of a Rat" in the RQ2 Companion. Other than that, there is quite a bit on Hevduran in HeroQuest.

Basically, look at Sorala for a the combat abilities of a Sword Sage.

If you choose so. Spirit Magic is a valid option, too. You don't have to play sorcerers in the Lhankor Mhy cult.

That's a fairly recent RQG addition to the arsenal of Sword Sages. The traditional Sword Sage has no rune magic to aid his combat, but the normal range of spirit magic. He has probably a high Battle skill.

Carrying knowledge into combat, yes, that's what a Sword Sage is about. But does that beat specialist rune magic?

Rather than putting all of his learning efforts into combat, the Sword Sage travels in the pursuit of knowledge. He is the field working Sage, the one to traipse into ruins and copy ancient inscriptions or art that cannot be carried back to the library.  While not a front rank academic, he will need to be able to provide context to his finds.

No Sword Trance or Shield, True Weapon or Sever Spirit. No Rune Lord Divine Intervention. Yes, overpowered, I see it clearly.

So no published RQ rules for them? You must have made up some rules if you play them, so how about you share them with us?

I assumed they had spirit magic - everyone does. So spirit magic, rune magic, sorcery (if you want), and you get to add lore skills to weapon skills as positive modifiers. No Rune Lord DI (that's a shame) unless you happen to have made them Lhankor Mhy Rune Lords in your personal rules...

Sword trance is OK, but situational if played as per arrow trance; Shield and True weapon are transferable so your meatshield can give you them. That leaves Sever Spirit. 1d6 damage. Wow that's some advantage the Humakti has.

But they are traveling in pursuit of knowledge, not serving a death cult, so that makes everything better. Just out of curiosity, is there any difference that an outside observer would notice when your Sword Sage loots a tomb, compared to when a Humakti loots a tomb.

Oh I almost forgot

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Magical identification of an opponent is a proven way to deal with things normal skills fail to deal with.

Someone needs to remind me again why Humakti are overpowered.

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

I said it is my personal favorite fighter cult. Not that is the most effective combatant cult. That would be some form of Man of All or Horali with both personal rune and spirit magic (in case of sorcerous Men of All from bound spirits) and sorcerous augmentation in the umpteens for various magic parameters. Arkati... Humakti with sorcery and illuminated access to Resurrection or otherwise heroic backdoor from the halls of the dead. Possibly with Kitori shape changer abilities, allowing them to manifest as Dark Trolls, Dehori demons or humans at will. Using a spear rather than a sword, for those early strike rank kills.

There might be a reason why Kitori who follow Black Arkat haven't seen any RQ write-up yet (or for that matter, neither any HQ write-up).

You are too modest. Your Sword Sages have personal spirit and rune magic, and access to sorcery. You don't need illumination to get access to resurrection because you already have that, but you might need it to get the shapechanger abilities, and seeing as you wrote the rules using spears instead of swords doesn't seem to present much of a problem.

Edited by Imryn
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7 hours ago, Imryn said:

Double weapon damage (that penetrates armor  - you forgot that bit) 

Truesword doubles damage of the weapon. It does this BEFORE penetrating armor, unlike the Humakti Gifts. My Truesword Humakti swings a greatsword for 4d8+2d6 on a normal hit, 8d8+2d6 on a special, 64+2d6 on a crit.

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22 hours ago, Imryn said:

Once a character has access to Rune Lord DI they can get all (or most) of the gifts with no cost. There may be some gifts that are exclusive to certain gods (perhaps Humakt is the only god who can grant sense assassin?) but that is for each GM to determine, and the majority (all stat increases, cult skill increases, additional weapon damage and HP) should be available to any Rune Lord in any cult.

Thus, the benefit gained from a gift in RQG is now minor and other characters who are in cults without gifts will very quickly catch up. The benefit gained from the gift is small and fleeting, so the cost of that gift should be commensurate.

<snip>

 

In my Glorantha i adopt the following policies:

  1. Geases cannot be broken accidentally. The character is assumed to be following the strictures during all mundane events. Where an action would break a geas the GM will warn the player.
  2. Geases cannot be broken involuntarily. If the character is unable to resist the action that breaks the geas it doesn't count. This does not mean that the situation is just ignored, it means that the situation is resolved through roleplaying contrition, confession, penance etc. Players conspiring to contrive circumstances to evade geas restrictions do not count as involuntary.
  3. Testing geases is appropriate and required. The player should be placed in situations that require them to sacrifice something of value to maintain the geas. This testing should take place early in the characters career and should become less frequent as the character advances in their career; proportional to the current benefit of the associated gift.
  4. Breaking a geas (1). Testing a geas may involve requiring the player to make a choice, but it may also require actions such as resistance rolls etc. In the case where the player attempts to resist the action that breaks the geas, but fails, the geas is broken. The character suffers the consequences of the broken geas, however as they did attempt to resist there should be a path for them to regain their gods favour. A difficult path, but a path none the less.
  5. Breaking a geas (2). If a player chooses to break a geas deliberately the character suffers the consequences of the broken geas. It is up to the GM to decide if there is any way to regain the gods favour, but if a path is offered it should be tantamount to suicide.
  6. Removing a geas. There will come a time in the characters career when the benefit of the gift becomes negligible, and some mechanism should exist whereby the character can be released from the geas. One possibility is to use DI to remove the geas (and associated gift). Other possibilities exist, I am sure

DI for skill increases? Maybe, but that's usually a HQ thing...

Secondly, the purpose of a gift and He's a, IMO, isn't to benefit the player, it's to show devotion to the deity. Therefore, said geasa (and the gift) is extremely relevant throughout their entire career.

Re: 1-6..

1) I think accidental geas breakages are legit - but do agree the GM should warn/advise if some action is heading that way (if it's player choice). Not checking what food you've just been offered, for example (laws of hospitality and all).

2) involuntary breaks of a head may be legit. So, too, is the penance. (Ie, both are in play). You still lose the gift, but getting it back is relatively easy.

3) re: relative benefit... As per my comment above, this is a little irrelevant, as it's the sign of devotion, not the benefit that matters. Also, "testing" is a GM thing, not a PC thing.

4) fair! Could be - Passion rolls. Diet restrictions vs hospitality rules. Celibacy geas v falling head over heels in love (or dryad magic, etc).

5) really don't think it should be 100% suicidal... Perhaps just 80%, with 99% losing something deeply meaningful.

6) if geasa are related to devotion, not benefit - nope, no removals! Should be irrelevant! 

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On 6/26/2019 at 1:39 PM, Imryn said:

In my Glorantha i adopt the following policies:

1. Geases cannot be broken accidentally. The character is assumed to be following the strictures during all mundane events. Where an action would break a geas the GM will warn the player.

IMG, geases can be broken "accidentally" - after a warning. "Eat no meat of X on N-Days" will receive warnings, like "you are served a stew with various sorts of meat." This is a "may contain nuts" warning. As to the specific days, it is fair to assume that the character knows how much time has passed in most situations, and that he will err on the side of caution. On the other hand, when the GM starts to remind the player of such problems, the player should take that as a warning.

 

On 6/26/2019 at 1:39 PM, Imryn said:

2. Geases cannot be broken involuntarily. If the character is unable to resist the action that breaks the geas it doesn't count. This does not mean that the situation is just ignored, it means that the situation is resolved through roleplaying contrition, confession, penance etc. Players conspiring to contrive circumstances to evade geas restrictions do not count as involuntary.

A breach of contract is a breach of contract. "Nobody can make you do anything" (a Heortling tenet) means that you cannot put the blame on someone else.

"Never participate in an ambush" can be avoided through inactivity in the ensuing fracas, but that course of inaction may clash with an Oath to protect and obey some individual.

 

On 6/26/2019 at 1:39 PM, Imryn said:

4. Breaking a geas (1). Testing a geas may involve requiring the player to make a choice, but it may also require actions such as resistance rolls etc. In the case where the player attempts to resist the action that breaks the geas, but fails, the geas is broken. The character suffers the consequences of the broken geas, however as they did attempt to resist there should be a path for them to regain their gods favour. A difficult path, but a path none the less.

The Samson dilemma, and how it is solved, is such a case IMO. Has the character really done everything to avoid this? If the celibate Yelmalian is seduced after Elusu takes a seat in his lap, his failure to remove her from his lap before she gets the chance to seduce him can be regarded as having let down his guard. Getting seduced while carrying her out of a critical situation (for her lord, not necessarily for her) couldn't be blamed on the Yelmalian following orders. Yes, this is a case of victim blaming, but relaxing in the company of Elusu is a no-go for celbacy-geased folk.

On 6/26/2019 at 1:39 PM, Imryn said:

5. Breaking a geas (2). If a player chooses to break a geas deliberately the character suffers the consequences of the broken geas. It is up to the GM to decide if there is any way to regain the gods favour, but if a path is offered it should be tantamount to suicide.

Agreed.

On 6/26/2019 at 1:39 PM, Imryn said:

6. Removing a geas. There will come a time in the characters career when the benefit of the gift becomes negligible, and some mechanism should exist whereby the character can be released from the geas.

That is definitely wrong. For a comparison, it is like a king divorcing his wife after you tired of her when you received her hand and half a kingdom as his reward earlier on. Neither apostasy nor illumination remove a geas - you have it as long as you return to life.

On 6/26/2019 at 1:39 PM, Imryn said:

One possibility is to use DI to remove the geas (and associated gift).

That's similar to DI to get access to prohibited magic, IMO - tantamount to apostasy.

On 6/26/2019 at 1:39 PM, Imryn said:

Characters should not be condemned to suffer under geases that are being constantly and harshly tested by the GM just for the minor benefit of gifts that are unavoidable, soon worthless and never worth the price demanded for them.

Random rolls for gifts and geases are one reason why I (and my players) avoid such cults. inflicting such random fate is exactly what you have been accusing me of...

On the other hand, if the assignment of the geases and the gift are based on the initiatory experience of the character, usefulness etc. don't even come into consideration. If it is something other than a random lot that creates both gift and geases, maintaining them should become sufficiently meaningful even for the player (and not just the character). Turning those randomly rolled gifts and geases into a story worth telling is a big bid, but IMO a much better way than the Rules As Written. A narrative mechanic similar to the clan generation sub-game of King of Dragon Pass and some of the HeroQuest supplements would do a better trick. But creating that for each initiatory experience is an amount of work that surpasses reasonable use of resources.

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2 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Secondly, the purpose of a gift and He's a, IMO, isn't to benefit the player, it's to show devotion to the deity. Therefore, said geasa (and the gift) is extremely relevant throughout their entire career.

I've thought about this for a while, and it does make some sense; except why do only a handful of cults have it? If it was to show devotion then all cults should have it, or we should have some explanation of why these particular cults have a greater requirement than the others.

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5 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Random rolls for gifts and geases are one reason why I (and my players) avoid such cults.

Thanks. This is exactly why I never created a Yelmalion, and will not create anymore an Humakti.

6 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Turning those randomly rolled gifts and geases into a story worth telling is a big bid, but IMO a much better way than the Rules As Written. A narrative mechanic similar to the clan generation sub-game of King of Dragon Pass and some of the HeroQuest supplements would do a better trick. But creating that for each initiatory experience is an amount of work that surpasses reasonable use of resources.

Yes. How much true.

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8 minutes ago, Joerg said:

IMG, geases can be broken "accidentally" - after a warning. "Eat no meat of X on N-Days" will receive warnings, like "you are served a stew with various sorts of meat." This is a "may contain nuts" warning. As to the specific days, it is fair to assume that the character knows how much time has passed in most situations, and that he will err on the side of caution. On the other hand, when the GM starts to remind the player of such problems, the player should take that as a warning.

That's also a valid way to play it. The problem, in my experience, is that the play session can bog down with players making constant checks on whether this food or that drink is kosher. I would drop it in occasionally, and make it an event that requires roleplaying such as a welcome drink when meeting an important chieftain that may or may not be alcoholic, but otherwise not allow it to slow down play.

12 minutes ago, Joerg said:

A breach of contract is a breach of contract. "Nobody can make you do anything" (a Heortling tenet) means that you cannot put the blame on someone else.

"Never participate in an ambush" can be avoided through inactivity in the ensuing fracas, but that course of inaction may clash with an Oath to protect and obey some individual.

I know we differ on this, but in my opinion if geases can be broken under circumstances where the player has absolutely no chance of resisting it the cults with geases are unplayable. Your example is actually a case of players conspiring. If the character is part of a group and the group sets an ambush the character is a participant, whether they act or not. I would expect the geased character to prevent the ambush or consider it a voluntary break (case 5).

18 minutes ago, Joerg said:

The Samson dilemma, and how it is solved, is such a case IMO. Has the character really done everything to avoid this? If the celibate Yelmalian is seduced after Elusu takes a seat in his lap, his failure to remove her from his lap before she gets the chance to seduce him can be regarded as having let down his guard. Getting seduced while carrying her out of a critical situation (for her lord, not necessarily for her) couldn't be blamed on the Yelmalian following orders. Yes, this is a case of victim blaming, but relaxing in the company of Elusu is a no-go for celbacy-geased folk.

The concept of "resistance" can be a slippery slope. The further the character walks down the slope before he resists the harder it will be to recover. Practically speaking, I would scale the difficulty of the path back in proportion to the precautions the character took (or could have taken, but didn't).

23 minutes ago, Joerg said:

That is definitely wrong. For a comparison, it is like a king divorcing his wife after you tired of her when you received her hand and half a kingdom as his reward earlier on. Neither apostasy nor illumination remove a geas - you have it as long as you return to life.

That's similar to DI to get access to prohibited magic, IMO - tantamount to apostasy.

Well, DI was only suggested as a possibility, and I did say that there could be others. A Heroquest, perhaps?

27 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Random rolls for gifts and geases are one reason why I (and my players) avoid such cults. inflicting such random fate is exactly what you have been accusing me of...

On the other hand, if the assignment of the geases and the gift are based on the initiatory experience of the character, usefulness etc. don't even come into consideration. If it is something other than a random lot that creates both gift and geases, maintaining them should become sufficiently meaningful even for the player (and not just the character). Turning those randomly rolled gifts and geases into a story worth telling is a big bid, but IMO a much better way than the Rules As Written. A narrative mechanic similar to the clan generation sub-game of King of Dragon Pass and some of the HeroQuest supplements would do a better trick. But creating that for each initiatory experience is an amount of work that surpasses reasonable use of resources.

This is where you and I really differ. The way you GM geases makes the cults that have them unplayable, as you readily admit.

In my opinion the game designers wouldn't have wasted their time creating these cults if they expected them to be unplayable, ergo your way of GM'ing them is not the way the game designers intended them to be GM'ed.

You can do what you like in your own games, of course, but constantly advocating here for others to adopt your methods is undermining what the game designers seem to have  intended.

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1 hour ago, Imryn said:

I've thought about this for a while, and it does make some sense; except why do only a handful of cults have it? If it was to show devotion then all cults should have it, or we should have some explanation of why these particular cults have a greater requirement than the others.

I can't answer that, any more than I can answer why only a couple of cults get gifts and geasa anyway... Maybe those gods are more egocentric 😛

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On 6/27/2019 at 2:22 AM, Joerg said:

There might be a reason why Kitori who follow Black Arkat haven't seen any RQ write-up yet (or for that matter, neither any HQ write-up).

They are mentioned in a sidebar in the Sartar Companion. Essentially they are Argan Argar Nightcult members who also learn sorcery. it would be easy to create a grimoire of appropriate sorcery, based heavily on the old Arkat writeup in Troll Gods. It is probably safe to assume that the Arkat cult also teaches, covertly, some form of Illumination, but I certainly don't think that they actively teach it to all members. There are also almost certainly Illuminated Arkati who follow Humakt, but I don't think they are the same people - the Black Arkat members would be more likely to adopt Zoran Zoran as a war god, and that would be somewhat rare. 

I don't think they are uber powerful, in either game system, though they are notably flexible. Sorcery gives then a few good options, but I don't think the Black Arkat followers usually specialise in hand to hand combat sorcery, but rather in the kind of metamagical stuff seen in the Troll Gods writeup - powerful magicians, rather than powerful warriors. Note that the combination of the Arkat Boost Elemental spell and the potential to join the Lesser Household sub-cult allowing them access to other elementals (all except fire) makes them among the most flexible and accomplished elemental magicians there are. 

The truth is that they while they have useful unique capabilities, they still are stuck with limited resources - they still have to divide their time and POW etc between the different paths, and are unlikely to master all. 

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I don't see the reasoning that Sword Sages are powerful. Literally no good combat Rune Magic, and very demanding skill requirements as a sage, so even if they have sorcery (which is usually a net reduction in magical effectiveness under the RQG rules, given the limits to spirit magic) their sorcery skills/spells will likely to be low, and focussed on information gathering magic. They are a fun concept to make sages more fun to play, not much more. 

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I prefer Humakt gifts and geases as predictable, gifts corresponding to related geases, as they were in RQ3. 

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1 hour ago, davecake said:

I don't see the reasoning that Sword Sages are powerful...

IIRC, Sorcery has (at least potentially) stronger combat-buffs than any Rune Spell has.

It's one of the very few ways for Lightbringer characters to get sorcery.

It doesn't have to follow the "theme" of any god; it gives you the potential to step entirely outside of Lhankor Mhy's own runes, or those if any associated Cult to which you might reasonably Initiate.

But I think, mostly the buffs.

I'll let more experienced Sword Sages correct me if I've missed (or mis-stated) anything.

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From my perspective, the easiest way for a Lightbringer cultist character - or. to stick with the topic of this thread, a Yelmalian or a Humakti - to get sorcerous buffs is to have a support sorcerer companion who doesn't have to be a Lightbringer cultist at all. There are numerous sources for these:

  • a former Ralian or Seshnegi mercenary who got left behind or stranded by his company, or left for other reasons
  • a sorcerer of the Black Arkat cult from Arkat's Hold, possibly as the sidekick/support character of a Black Arkat warrior character
  • an Esvulari zzaburi who somehow got entangled with the party
  • a God Forgot apprentice sticking with the party (working off a gambling debt?)
  • a ship's sorcerer from elsewhere whose ship was taken or destroyed by Wolf Pirates who has taken a retainer with one of the characters

Gringle had a Third Eye Blue smith as a retainer. (What became of Piku and his family after Gringle's disappearance?) Such outlandish companions of powerful leaders/magicians aren't unknown in Sartar, and even less so in the Lunar Provinces.

A Sword Sage could have a Lhankor Mhy sorcerer as his companion, but so can just about any other Lightbringer cultist. Now LM sorcery is not the most combat oriented, but as notorious hamsters of knowledge they will have tomes with combat-oriented sorcery in their possession. Some possibly including magics from Ethilrist - Muse Roost was plundered a few times, and some of the plunder will have gotten into the copying halls of the libraries after being used as payment for R&R.

Edited by Joerg

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4 minutes ago, g33k said:

IIRC, Sorcery has (at least potentially) stronger combat-buffs than any Rune Spell has.

Potentially. Does the Lhankor Mhy cult necessarily know most, or even any, of those spells? Or know how to master any Runes but Truth? Certainly Truth is the first rune taught and may be the only one known for most LM temples. And potentially isn't the same as guaranteed - sorcerous spells are powerful if sufficient time is used to prepare the appropriate spell in advance, which can be very time consuming if the chance to cast the spell is poor (almost certainly the case for an LM Sword sage using combat magic). 

Just being a sorcerer does not automatically mean you are better at combat magic than a non-sorcerer. Very far from it. You can do pretty well if given time to prepare, and you prepare the appropriate thing - but even then it lacks flexibility, and is very resource heavy for the effect. And having a well rounded set of combat magic - defences, attacks, melee buffs, physical defences, summoning spells - is very difficult for sorcerers, but the default for most combat cults like Orlanth or Humakt. So even being a combat specialist sorcerer isn't necessarily better than a theist combat magician - more potential at the expense of a lot of flexibility - and a LM sorcerer won't be a dedicated combat specialist

13 minutes ago, g33k said:

It doesn't have to follow the "theme" of any god; it gives you the potential to step entirely outside of Lhankor Mhy's own runes

Eventually, but not initially. If you are a sage, and have learnt some initial Truth sorcery - everything you add is going to be using your leftover resources, which initially will not be very large. Most LM sorcerers are mediocre at best at anything except Truth magic, and even having significant knowledge of anything other than Truth magic/Torvalds Fragments is rare. 

 

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Black Arkat are a very different case to LM Sword Sages. Black Arkat has reasonable combat Rune magic (elementals, Dark Walk, becoming a troll), good spirit magic, and their specialist sorcery is synergistic with it. LM Sword Sages have no useful combat Rune magic (besides Common Rune magic) or spirit magic, and their sorcery knowledge is heavily specialised in other directions. 

 

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On the subject of Sword Sages, I think it most likely that Sword Sages have a repertoire of swordsmanship spells that can be learned from other sword sages (such as Eparikondos of New Pavis (although the description of him in Pavis: Threshold to Danger p79 makes him more interested in languages - perhaps he's actually a Word Sage?). So yes, they would know the weapon spells in the RQG rulebook and wouldn't have to scrouge from other sorcerors in the area.  Since Lhankor Mhy's basic sorcery teaching is truth and command, there's plenty of room for study of the Rune of Conflict.  Yes, it doesn't mesh well with the mainstream worship of Lhankor Mhy but thta is how Sword Sages were depicted since Storm Tribe: the Cults of Sartar.

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, metcalph said:

On the subject of Sword Sages, I think it most likely that Sword Sages have a repertoire of swordsmanship spells that can be learned from other sword sages

I think repertoire is likely overstating it. 

5 minutes ago, metcalph said:

that can be learned from other sword sages (such as Eparikondos of New Pavis

for example, a wannabe Sword Sage in Jonstown might be told that if they want to learn combat sorcery, they might consider going and talking to that guy in New Pavis. Who might know a couple of spells. 

11 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Since Lhankor Mhy's basic sorcery teaching is truth and command, there's plenty of room for study of the Rune of Conflict. 

After you've already mastered Truth, and if you can find a teacher. No LM specialises in runes other than Truth first. So even if they know a combat spell it is likely they are casting it at double MPs. 

And LM sages just aren't likely to be that good at sorcery, considering they have already had to devote a lot of their training time to the skills required to become a sage, then added some combat skills on top of that. There certainly aren't going to be any powerful sorcerers created by the normal character creation process. 

Sword Sages who know significant combat sorcery are a minority of small minority of a minority cult. There might be half a dozen or less in the whole Dragon Pass region. And most of those won't be terribly good - just competent enough to not be embarrasing. And the cult specialises in fighting techniques, not combat sorcery. 

I think most Sword Sages (a small minority of the cult in the first place) rather get their combat magic from also being Orlanth initiates. 

Of course, if your GM is ok with your temple having an expert combat magician who can tutor you so you can have a Sword Sage character, sure, it can work in your game (within the bounds of the character creation system, which won't make it easy). But I don't think it is anything like normal or representative. 

There are, of course, the Free Philosophers of the Sartar Magical Union. But 'perform purification rites and use theurgic symbols to enable their souls to ascend the layers of existence and correspond to the divine.' doesn't sound like Sword Sages at all, I think they use an entirely different range of magical effects (and probably learn some of their magical effects from the Western sorcerers in other parts of the SMU). 

 

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Just now, davecake said:

After you've already mastered Truth, and if you can find a teacher. No LM specialises in runes other than Truth first.

Where's this from?  It's not the what RQG p389 says, just that they are taught Truth and Command first.  It does not state that to learn additional runes, they must seek a teacher outside the cult.  Looking at the Sartar Companion, you have sages specializing in Alchemy and Draconic Lore.  Did they learn the relevant runes from outside the cult?  I don't think so.

 

Just now, davecake said:

And LM sages just aren't likely to be that good at sorcery, considering they have already had to devote a lot of their training time to the skills required to become a sage, then added some combat skills on top of that. There certainly aren't going to be any powerful sorcerers created by the normal character creation process. 

Yes.  And?  I've already said that Sword Sages don't mesh well with mainstream LM worship.

 

Just now, davecake said:

Of course, if your GM is ok with your temple having an expert combat magician who can tutor you so you can have a Sword Sage character, sure, it can work in your game (within the bounds of the character creation system, which won't make it easy). But I don't think it is anything like normal or representative. 

Would there be a Sword Sage in New Pavis?  P:TtDp58  suggests there are two and those figures look right even for 1625.  I doubt that you could find one in Boldhome or Jonstown but you probably could find a school in Nochet.  Rather that remark dismissively about it being normal or representative or slight any GM who gives the okay, I find it more constructive to say this is where the Sword Sages are - if you want to become one, you have to go there.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Where's this from?  It's not the what RQG p389 says, just that they are taught Truth and Command first.  It does not state that to learn additional runes, they must seek a teacher outside the cult. 

We are parsing it differently. I'm just saying they master Truth before any other Rune. So they are already at a mild disadvantage in becoming a combat specialist, having devoted effort in other directions. 

27 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Looking at the Sartar Companion, you have sages specializing in Alchemy and Draconic Lore.  Did they learn the relevant runes from outside the cult?  I don't think so.

Mastering a rune has almost nothing to do with learning non-sorcerous skills. 

30 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Would there be a Sword Sage in New Pavis?  P:TtDp58  suggests there are two

Eh? Pavis:TtDp suggests there are only 3 LM sages in the whole place, I think it unlikely two are Sword Sages. We know of one retired Sword Sage who mostly specialises in languages. 

32 minutes ago, metcalph said:

I doubt that you could find one in Boldhome or Jonstown but you probably could find a school in Nochet.

I think you might find one or two, maybe even an ongoing chain of specialists recruiting others - but even so, a lot of Sword Sages aren't going to be sorcerers. Certainly in Nochet, the single greatest LM library in the world, you might reasonably expect to find a solid collection of sorcery spells including some combat spells in the library, but that isn't really the same thing as an ongoing living tradition of combat sorcerers. 

The distinguishing characteristic of Sword Sages is wanting to learn to fight, which is far removed from being a sorcerer. While it makes sense that a Sword Sage who also learns sorcery might want to learn sorcery that complements their fighting ability, there are a lot of intermediate steps between 'is likely to want to learn' and 'has access to an ongoing tradition that enables and encourages it'. 

 

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Just now, davecake said:

We are parsing it differently. I'm just saying they master Truth before any other Rune. So they are already at a mild disadvantage in becoming a combat specialist, having devoted effort in other directions. 

"Master"?  It's just a Runic Technique which takes a season of study and 1 point of POW.  It's not as if it was a skill they had to learn to 90% before they are allowed to learn another.  It's just a body of knowledge like any other - if a Lhankoring wants to learn astrology, he would get the Fire Rune technigque and so on.  Given sorcerous characters start of with two techniques, learning an extra one is hardly the stuff of impossibility.

 

Just now, davecake said:

Eh? Pavis:TtDp suggests there are only 3 LM sages in the whole place, I think it unlikely two are Sword Sages.

Except that one is a Rune Lord (which is also called a Sword Sage and another is a Rune Lord-Priest.  Ergo Two Sword Sages.

 

Just now, davecake said:

We know of one retired Sword Sage who mostly specialises in languages. 

Wow.  Since I already mentioned him in the previous posting, I dunno what this knowledgeable mention is meant to achieve.

 

Just now, davecake said:

I think you might find one or two, maybe even an ongoing chain of specialists recruiting others - but even so, a lot of Sword Sages aren't going to be sorcerers.

Why not?  Lhankor Mhy is explicitly a god of knowledge which is sorcery.  Any Sage that deals with the knowledge of swordsmanshuip is going to be dealing with sorcery spells about swordsmanship.  There's no such thing as a Lhankoring that doesn't learn sorcery.  All Lhankorings learn sorcery to some extent - it is the magic of their God.  Sorcery is something that you klnow.

 

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This discussion about sorcery in the cult of Lhankor Mhy might be better placed in a separate thread (and yes, I am aware that I provoked the discussion in the first place).

 

3 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Except that one is a Rune Lord (which is also called a Sword Sage and another is a Rune Lord-Priest.  Ergo Two Sword Sages.

So a RQ2 Rune Lord of Lhankor Mhy (a cult position that in all likelihood doesn't exist in RQG) becomes a source of sorcery in RQG? Looks like a flawed argument.

 

3 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Wow.  Since I already mentioned him in the previous posting, I dunno what this knowledgeable mention is meant to achieve.

Discredit him as a source of sorcery, or at least combat-oriented sorcery.

Especially since we don't quite know whether "retired sword sage" is meant to say "retired rune lordor even just a sub-section of the rune lords of the cult that existed only under RQ2 rules" or "retired member of a subcult of Lhankor Mhy".

The other mention of a Sword Sage in Pavis is in Oliver Dickinson's Great Cart Caper.

 

3 minutes ago, metcalph said:

Why not?  Lhankor Mhy is explicitly a god of knowledge which is sorcery.  Any Sage that deals with the knowledge of swordsmanshuip is going to be dealing with sorcery spells about swordsmanship.  There's no such thing as a Lhankoring that doesn't learn sorcery.  All Lhankorings learn sorcery to some extent - it is the magic of their God.  Sorcery is something that you know.

Nice to toss into a debate, but that definition of sorcery and the one in RQG don't go well together. In that case, the Alchemy skill and all of its products are sorcery.

 

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