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August 6, 2015 at 3:57 am #16892
I gave this post a lot of thought before replying.
We did Glorantha back in the RQ2 days, with significant adventures coming after the shift to RQ3. The hard core realistic rules, particularly the combat, skills, and learning was an amazing juxtaposition with the almost mind-bogglingly mythic scale (somewhere above epic) of the setting. We loved it.
But the published source material is very typically — you encounter a war/hunting party. Most of the group are fairly ordinary but there is normally one, sometimes two Rune level threats. It always seemed that to use the published material the players were almost forced to quickly ascend to Rune status themselves. Given time, we too wound up with a very high powered campaign with the players making direct, personal contributions to the Hero Wars.
Nothing wrong with this, exactly, but it was at times tough to keep the players out of “too much” trouble, or to explain that not every group of Lunar soldiers had a Rune Lord with them. The power curve was all over the place, and the unevenness of it pushed the players to get better — and fast. And that normally culminated with characters with multiple uses of Shield 4, Truesword, Sever Spririt, bucketloads of stored PoW, and so on.
After looking over RQ6, it is incredibly clear that a direct and easy path to all of this has been taken away. And honestly that’s a good thing imo. Want to fight one on one with Beastmen all day? Might want to look into some Heroquests, or get the fabled item of “red cloak of dodging” or such. The base RQ6 characters are actually a bit more powerful than the base RQ2 characters. Rune magic right off the bat, stored PoW from sacrifices right off the bat to power it–well once or twice anyway, and the incoming damage has been toned down so that it isn’t always “the Wyrm hits you on the arm for 1d6 claw damage + 10d6 strength bonus. Talk about making a mockery out of armor! When you combine that with skills over 100% it just got carried away far too quickly.
But the RQ6 neophyte doesn’t face that. Even a troll enemy may only have 1d4 strength bonus with a d6 club. If the Troll has a PC-like skill of say 60% with cultural weapons, and not too much armor, and not too much magic, then it is a reasonable foe. I recently had 2 PC’s get dropped by a Troll just like that, so it isn’t a gimmie either.
That opens up the chance for a more level gaming universe, in terms of power. You work your way up the ladder with skills, magic, and equipment. But not enough that it can’t trump role-playing power such as status in the tribe, allies that you can make, or glory from deeds won.
You can’t take on the Crimson bat in RQ6. You simply can’t get the tools like you could in the 80’s. Well, not without the “go outside the rules” Heroquest style option.
But this also, I like. If the players feel pressure to “power up” due to external threats on the horizon, then that’s the time they can give Heroquesting a go — and then get the rules-breaking power that puts them on the path to greatness in the Hero Wars. In the meantime though, you are free to have a nice base universe where Rune Priests are not common as their Initiate followers, and 130+ weapon skills are not trivially handed out to man and beast alike.
So basically I think RQ6 gives the better run at the low and medium end of the power curve, the potential to jump up without finding every artifact in the Plunder book, and ultimately will require a Pendragon style solution to problems like Crimson Bat. But this is far preferable to me as a GM than a game universe that has mechanics that push the players into becoming mini-Harrek’s. That should be extraordinarily difficult to accomplish, even if allowed. It shouldn’t be simply the realization that one has 20+ Runespells of the right variety, full iron gear, and 200+ points of stored pow, so why the heck not beat up the bat. That’s my opinion, anyway. The game mechanics do make the higher end play a bit trickier it looks like — the players may have to resort to Arkati-like tactics…… 🙂