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Author Topic: [RuneQuest: Slayers] Skulls, blood, other body fluids  (Read 15881 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: August 06, 2004, 02:08:12 PM »

Hello,

Jake Norwood and I got some chances for role-playing together last week, which included my long-awaited try with RuneQuest: Slayers.

BACKGROUND
For those who don't know the history, the simple story goes sort of like this.

1. 1975-ish through middle 1980s - The game company called The Chaosium releases and develops RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, and many other games, all utilizing versions of a system called BRP. RQ and CofC are rightly acknowledged among the most sophisticated games in existence and undergo many revisions and much fan-based contribution.

2. Late 1980s - The game company Avalon Hill licenses RuneQuest for an ultra-spiffy detailed version and re-releases many RQ supplements as well as new ones. The Chaosium continues to release and support games including Pendragon and Nephilim, all based on derived versions of BRP except for Prince Valiant.

3. Mid-1990s - Alas, The Chaosium faces bankruptcy and it ceases to exist. Its various properties are split into four owners: Greg Stafford gets (or rather retains) the Glorantha IP, Green Knight Publishing gets Pendragon, Sandy Peterson retains Call of Cthulhu (including the BRP system and the company name Chaosium), and ... the term "RuneQuest" is now available too. I don't know anything about the Avalon Hill license (how it ended, etc), but apparently Hasbro expresses interest.

Mind you, I know nothing about the specific timing, negotiations, finances, or disputes in all of this. I know some of the people, but that's all. So whether the whole Hasbro thing came early, in the middle, or late relative to the Chaosium split-up, I totally don't know. This post isn't intended to provide journalistic insight, just a little perspective. (And for those of you who do have some knowledge about the history, or delight in corrections such as when The Chaosium lost its "The" and similar arcana, please write an essay for posting at the Forge. Useful information, but not relevant to this post.)

So apparently the guys who get the IP to "RuneQuest" as a name are Christopher Lawrence and J. C. Connors (I'm under the impression that one or both of them were with Avalon HIll), and they start developing an entire new game to bear this rather weighty title. Keep in mind that the original RuneQuest and its derivatives were the flagship game of college-age role-players for over two decades, and the associated setting, Glorantha, was considered the high-water mark of fantasy settings, or very nearly so. This new game was to be called RuneQuest: Slayers, and apparently it was to focus on an original RuneQuest feature which gave the game its name, the acquisition of "runes," which is to say a heavy emphasis on developing fighting prowess in a spiritual or religious context.

What happens? Again, I know very little about the details, but according to the current website, Hasbro literally stopped the presses while printing the new game and basically cancelled out the whole thing. Game? What game? Buh-bye. And Lawrence and Connors were now sitting on a name without a publisher. What all of this has to do with the near-simultaneous acquisition of Wizards of the Coast (including TSR, Magic: the Gathering, and Pokemon) by Hasbro, I dare not speculate. Without knowledge of the details, there's no judgment to make.

All I know about the story since then (regarding this game anyway), is that a couple-few years ago, Lawrence and Connors posted RuneQuest: Slayers as a free 224-page PDF on the Three Fates Gaming website, with a new layout, illustrations, and text. I don't know how much, if any, of the game itself is similar to the stillborn Hasbro one. That website just recently began to heat up, with a message board that archives some older discussions, as well as some other free games and game-materials with a strong emphasis on GURPS.

I dunno about you, but I've been curious about this game for a while now. I mean, even on the basis of the name alone - this is RuneQuest we're talking about, and even though the BRP resides back with Sandy, and Glorantha resides back with Greg, perhaps there's enough magic left in the name to mean something cool is there. Whoever Lawrence and Connors are, they did acquire it, after all, which couldn't have been a minor undertaking in their minds. Pure curiosity asks, what did they do with it?

THE GAME
Reading it over, a few things leap out at once. First, it's about fightin'. You play a warrior, and you'll probably belong to a "warclan," and you'll fight lots and lots of critters and other foes. You (the real person) role-play to fight.

Second, the system and by extension combat are extremely clear and elegant, as well as original. I'm not surprised to see this from a system with even a peripheral association with Avalon Hill, but I am surprised to see how stripped-down and fast it is.

It's attribute-only, like Sorcerer and Amber, with five attributes that all pertain to combat as well as to other things. All of them are used as resolution target numbers, and the three derived attributes are resources. You roll 2d10, adding them, to get equal to or under your attribute. Difficult circumstances add dice, hence making it harder to roll a low total. Interestingly, "professions" permit re-rolls in appropriate circumstances.

Combat is handled through a set of options based on Strike Hard vs. Hold (counter-attacking), which I won't go into in detail, but represent a nice if simplistic framework for the basic resolution system. The additional part of combat involves a roll of multiple d6s, in which the number of sixes is the relevant feature. Damage is about graded levels, with the relevant one being Reeling, when you get penalties (basically a penalty die, as per usual penalties). I especially like the way that different sorts of attacks are handled with different "matrices" of possible d6-distribution results - hence the result table for swords and axes and stuff is different from the one for grappling and throwing. It really is quite elegant and easy to use.

Fighting gets a little more complicated with Maneuvers, which are basically Feats or Schticks. You get maneuvers by increasing your weapon proficiency.

All resolution is merely slight re-applications of all the above.

Now for the really interesting part, the Glyphs and Runes. Glyphs are abstractions - as a warclan member, there are ten associated Glyphs. At the beginning of each adventure, the GM rolls d10 for each player, thus assigning which Glyph is to be "valuable" for that player-character for this adventure. The player may or may not play the character according to the Glyph, but if he or she does, it's worth mondo improvement points. And it's also possible for the GM to say the player-character has acquired the Glyph.

Interesting, eh? A bit of a choice there in terms of one's rate of improvement, relative to what Glyphs come up, relative to what's going on in that adventure. As an example, consider the ten available Glyphs for the Riders of Caldecan: Honor, Humor, Glory, Theft, Independence, Mercy, Mercilessness, Caution, Passion, and Violence.

OK, so if you acquire Glyphs, that means that ultimately you'll acquire Runes, which are kind of uber-Glyphs. Without going into the details, basically, you get Kewl Powerz from Runes and combinations thereof, and the implication is that unlike Glyphs, they are really in-game phenomena, because they relate to one's status in one's warclan.

All of this puts a strong emphasis on playing exactly the kind of fighter/warrior you want, not just in terms of "what my guy would do because he belongs to this warclan," but also a certain amount of ebb and flow in terms of whether the guy acts in-warclan this particular time or not. Lotta Author Stance going on.

The book puts an unfortunate effort into uninteresting dungeon-style examples and some heavily-railroaded play scenarios, but I'm willing to spot them the usual writer's neurosis of trying to placate bugaboo gamers (i.e. exist in their minds), which I've ranted about before. I don't think I need to outline how such a presentation has nothing to do with the behavior and improvement mechanics of the game.

ACTUAL PLAY
So what did we do? Jake and I instantly fastened upon the Cult of the Skull warclan - very cool black guys who wear magic bone armor and scare the shit out of people with their sinister smiles. The p.42 illustration got us both, and Jake said, "I'm playing her." I instantly found a website of southern and eastern African names, chose a monster from the list (actually, converting a werewolf into a were-hyena), whipped up a relationship map, and we were off to the races. I think both of us were also jazzed to be playing in an aggressively African setting.

I hesitate to tell you what Jake and I are like when role-playing in an unrestrained fashion. He's a serious fan of my book Sex & Sorcery, after all. I rolled Discord for the Glyph of the evening, and he went for it in a big way. Some of the in-game events included explicit sex scenes and mask-painting rituals involving a handful of semen, and the fights were extremely brutal and bone-crunching. But what stood out was the role-playing of character gestures and interactions, especially since both of us got into the whole "one of us is a were-hyena" scenario in detail. It was bloody pulp that could never have been published in pulp fiction, or presented in film even today. It ended with the main NPC cradling her daughter's severed head to her bosom and singing a lullabye to it ...

We did find that the combat system is a bit limited to mano-a-mano who-eventually-dies circumstances. At one point, Jake wanted to bring some psychological manipulation into his character's fight with the were-hyena, and I ruled it was OK because both characters had missed their attacks in the round - seemed like it provided an "opening" to say something and get a roll for it. But the rules themselves are silent about things like that. Still, though, within their parameters, they are extremely fast and sensible.

I don't want to go into GNS stuff too much here, but I think this game provides an awesome example of how an emphasis on fighting and improvement are not necessarily Gamist. It struck me more as Character-Sim (the setting and particularly the warclans are so cartoony as to be implausible; they exist so fighters can be wandering loners, apparently), with some limited potential to drift Narrativist via the Glyph-decisions.

Jake suggested that the combat system (using the multiple d6 roll) would translate extremely well into social combat and any other form of conflict-of-interest involving time and strategy, and we whipped up a little sub-system for that purpose, but I'll post it another day if anyone's interested.

IN CONCLUSION
I highly recommend playing this game. It's a fantasy-adventure warrior blood-fest, with some long-term rewards built in to keep it going. Sure, it's a bit limited in scope (and I would be wary of trying to work with it from a setting-first perspective), but the dice and actions hum quite nicely, and the imagery is rockin'.

What floors me is that it's, you know, just sitting there for free. By my lights, this is easily a $20 or $25 product, with extremely professional layout and illustrations, with a fun and well-explained game system. And the name notwithstanding, since apparently Lawrence and Connors designed and own the thing, it's independent. Maybe I should write to these guys to see if they still exist.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2004, 02:37:42 PM »

Ooh, I found some issues about the publishing history:

The history of RuneQuest
Empire of the Wyrm's Friends
TML Vanishing companies

These were the polite ones. Most of what I found consisted of broken links and a hell of a lot of snap judgments based on "it's not old RQ so it suxxx" logic, so proceed with caution.

Anyway, discussion about this ought to go into Publishing if anyone wants to start a thread there. In this thread, I'm interested in others' experiences with the game, questions or observations about how it works, and any feedback/inquiry about Jake's and my game.

Best,
Ron
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ErrathofKosh
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Posts: 190

Lest Darkness Fall.


« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2004, 02:38:22 PM »

Wow!

I had no idea this even existed.  I have the original RuneQuest at home (I bought it at a used game table somewhere.  I am nowhere near old enough to have gotten it new...) :D and have had the opportunity to play it twice.  As I am forming a new gaming group, this will go on the list of games that I want to run.  I cannot believe it was free!  I would willingly pay for something like this...

Thanks Ron!

Cheers
Jonathan
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Cheers,
Jonathan
Sean
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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2004, 07:30:46 AM »

The core resolution mechanic for this game is really darn cool. I would recommend stripping out the 2/3/4 d10 roll under skill mechanics and just using the d6 thing for everything.

I would also recommend getting rid of the separate Intelligence/Perception stats, renaming both Insight and cutting the game down to four stats.

Here are some other things I thought would make for good tweaks:

1) Simplify chargen in various obvious ways (particularly social status, wealth, and literacy, and make professions open-ended)

2) Weapon maneuvers are a big mistake and should be eliminated. The whole brilliance of the system lies in the fact that you can go for something fancy by making yourself have to roll two sixes instead of one. You should just be able to free-form fancy maneuvers by going for two sixes.

Here's the section of my house rules version of RQ:S that deals with generalizing the resolution system and explaining why I think maneuvers are bad:

Core Dice Mechanic: The 2d6 system is awesome and should be used for everything. Strip out the 2-4d10 roll under thing for hazards.

Basic principle: Roll a pile of 2 or more standard dice.
1) All 1’s is a fumble.
2) A 6 on any die normally indicates success.
3) If you’re trying to do something really special or difficult, you have to call for it in advance of the roll, and you have to hit two 6’s rather than one to achieve success.
4) If you hit 3 or more 6’s on any roll, you’ve scored a devastating, critical success, whether you called for a ‘standard’ success or a ‘special’ one.

How many dice do I roll?

Hand to Hand Combat: Start with 2d6. Add one die for each of the following:
- You have higher agility
- Your expertise with your weapon is higher than your opponent’s
- You chose Strike Hard
- Your opponent is Fatigued, Reeling, or Dying (make sure this one’s a different color)
- Your opponent is Surprised
Subtract a die if your opponent is using a shield unless that brings you below two dice.

Ranged Combat: Start with 2d6. Add one die for each of the following:
- You have higher agility
- You are in Ideal range
- You chose Aim Carefully
- Your opponent is Fatigued, Reeling, or Dying (make sure this one’s a different color)
- Your opponent is Surprised, or you have The Drop on them with a bow or crossbow
Subtract a die if your opponent is using a shield unless that brings you below two dice

Grappling Combat: Start with 2d6. Add one die for each of the following:
- You have higher might + agility
- Your expertise with wrestling is higher than your opponent’s
- You chose Strike Hard
- Your opponent is Fatigued, Reeling, or Dying (make sure this one’s a different color)
- Your opponent is Surprised
Subtract a die if your opponent is using a shield unless that brings you below two dice.

Social Persuasion: Start with 2d6. Add one die for each of the following::
- You have higher Will
- Your level in a relevant profession is higher than your opponent’s
- You chose Speak Eloquently
- Your opponent is Fatigued, Reeling, or Dying (make sure this one’s a different color)
- Your opponent is Surprised

Conflict more generally:
- You have a higher relevant stat or combination of stats (e.g. Agility + Insight for stealth)
- Your level in a relevant profession is higher than your opponent’s
- You chose Work Precisely
- Your opponent is Fatigued, Reeling, or Dying (make sure this one’s a different color)
- Your opponent is Surprised (all inanimate objects start out this way)

This last bears more comment. One gets into conflict with inanimate objects like any others. A cliff you’re trying to climb might be rated Might + Agility 27 (so you’d need a 28 or higher combined to get that bonus) and Journeyman difficulty (so you’d need to be a Master to get a bonus). However, you always start with surprise against an inanimate object unless, like a trap, part of the object has a sensory device. All inanimate objects which lack such devices have Insight 0 (and so of course will lose initiative virtually always).

During the surprise round of conflict with an inanimate object, the Work Precisely bonus can’t simply be declared, however. It’s the equivalent of a running start to a jump, time spent studying a lock before you start working, and the like: the game-situation and what your character does dictates whether you get that extra die.

Example: A three hundred foot high cliff (rated as above) stands before you. The GM rules that it will take 3 successful tries to climb it. On the other hand, being inanimate, the only thing the cliff can do is try to throw you off – which requires a Vital Shot, not only a regular one.

You have M + A 28 so you get the stat bonus, but no skills to help with the climb. For the first round only you get the surprise die as well, because the cliff is inanimate. You’re not being chased, so you take time to study the ascent carefully before you begin. You bring 5 dice to the first round of the combat.

Here’s a big choice. You’re almost sure to make a solid shot, but that only gets you part of the way up. A vital shot is much less likely, but ends the whole contest – you manfully pull yourself hand over hand to the top of the cliff without incident.

You go solid and make it, but no crit. Now you are making your way up the cliff, which resists your ascent. It picks Hold. Emboldened by your past success, you continue to Work Carefully, and the Cliff seizes initiative.

It rolls 3 dice (you only have an Apprentice level relevant climbing skill). It goes for a vital shot automatically, since for an inanimate object throwing someone off a cliff face is pretty difficult. Unless it gets 2 or 3 sixes, you’re still OK to keep going. If it fumbles, you find a ladder-like rock formation that gets you a free pass another third of the way up.

Now you bring 4 dice (no surprise, but Work Carefully still) to the second round of the combat, and on it goes, until you either win 3 times or get a Vital Shot or Crit, or Fumble your way off, or the Cliff Fumbles you up it, or the cliff scores a Vital Shot or Crit to throw you off.

Task Difficulty: This is pretty straightforward. If a task is ‘basic’, it should ordinarily be an automatic success. Why are you rolling ticky-tack shit? If it seems important to roll it somehow, but you just can’t bring yourself to call it ‘difficult’ (tying that basic knot is difficult enough when you’ve got to do it RIGHT NOW, but whatever), give an extra die to the player rolling.

So most tasks are ‘difficult’. But some are indeed ‘hopeless’: leaping that forty-foot chasm, running a half-mile in a minute, beating a god at chess, untying the Gordian Knot. These are the non-combat equivalent of Vital Shots: you need two sixes to hit them, not just one. (Persuading someone to go into the dragon’s lair alone before the rest of the group to ‘check it out’, for instance, requires a persuasion vital shot.)

The only time you need to call for a Vital Shot on a non-hopeless task is like combat: when you want some ‘gravy’. That is, getting a healthy female into bed normally only needs one 6, but if you want something extra (maybe she knows the Fourteen Silken Movements, or is a cousin of a local potentate), that’s a vital shot.

Dice Success Chances (Solid/Vital/Critical Success - Fumble):
2d6….30.6/2.8/0.0 – 2.8
3d6…42.1/7.4/0.5 – 0.5
4d6…51.7/13.2/1.6 - 0.1
5d6…59.8/19.6/2.1 - ~0.0
6d6…66.5/26.3/6.2 - ~0.0
7d6…72.1/33.0/9.6 - ~0.0

What does this teach us? That it’s important for you to be able to do a lot with a vital shot, because the odds are low on success even with lots of dice. Big damage bonuses, disabling limbs, disarming or breaking weapons, tripping people onto the ground or into a chasm, instant success in a staged competitive endeavor, special ‘unintended’ consequences of a standard social or skill conflict, or a truly heroic feat (leap that big chasm!) are all appropriate for successes on called Vital Shots.

This is why the costly weapon maneuvers are a mistake. The really cool ones can be pegged to WarPath, and the others are all things you should be able to do anyway with the vital shot rules, just by rolling it. See also new rules for multiple attacks and two weapon fighting in the changes to the combat section below.

-----------

Well, anyway, not to fill up the whole board. I also added a couple more Postures, including Fight Defensively (which docks anyone attacking you a die). I also added bonus-die Artha rules based on Luke's Burning Wheel revised system. It seemed like it would be pretty fun to play.
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Sean
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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2004, 07:48:56 AM »

Oh well, maybe I will fill up a little more of the board. It's not like there's anywhere else anyone's likely to get much use out of this. These were some other adjustments to the combat rules I made - Taunting is necessary to break out of a 'both sides Hold' situaiton...

More o' Sean's house RQ:S rules:

Eliminate the bonus damage for Carving and Impaling weapons. This is not a bad rule per se, but it increases handling time, and is poorly implemented (one would expect smashing weapons to gain a larger up-front bonus to Strength and impaling ones to get a smaller one in conjunction with this rule, and they don’t). Rather than tweak the weapons table I discard it and only respect the difference for critical hits.
(Note added for Forge post: I think this may be grandfathered in from the brutal impaling damage in RQ 1 and 2.)

Nets: The main advantage of a net is that one can use it to initiate a grapple without giving one’s opponent a free chance to hit you first. This is especially fun with Net and Trident. Being grappled by a net docks your Agility by 3 for purposes of comparison with others for determining bonus dice. Nets no longer provide a bonus die, however.

Eliminate restrictions for fighting on horseback. Heroes can do this.

Eliminate the extra penalty for fighting multiple foes. Heroes can do this too, and fighting multiple foes is already the ugliest problem in hit point-based fantasy games; the party of many always has a huge edge.

Bows and Crossbows only get their bonus die when their user has ‘The Drop’ on his or her target. Firing in a crazy melee is no advantage, even if you’re off to the side or around the corner sniping. It’s only when you’ve got the folks in your sights and you’re aimed that this bonus die kicks in. It’s also the same die as the Surprise die, so if you’ve got the drop on a Surprised foe, still only one bonus die.

Knockdown: The roll to stay standing is based on Strength and Agility, one potential bonus die for each (because no professions or expertise apply – this is a local tweak).

Eliminate the rule that allows Agility 15+ warriors to get up from prone instantly. Down is down and it takes time to get up. This would be a good WarPath special ability, but not one commonly available to even the quickest.

Multiple Attacks: Warriors who wish to may take more than one attack in a round. Two conditions apply:

a) For every attack you take after the first, reduce all attacks by one die. Thus if you took 3 attacks all would be reduced by 2 dice. You may not take so many attacks as to reduce your first attack below two dice, and if any subsequent attack comes in below two dice as a result of this (or any other) penalties, your attacks for the round are over.

b) You can’t fight as forcefully or as accurately when taking multiple attacks. Reduce Agility and Might for offensive calculations only (still count full for defending) by 2 each per extra attack after the first. Thus three attacks come in at –4 might and agility each.

c) All attacks after the first go at the end of the round, in the final initiative order for the round (the order for round 2), in order (all second attacks first, then all third attacks, etc.) You can’t move at all to take them; if all the foes in range are down you lose the attacks.

Fighting with Two Weapons: The two weapon fighter can attack with either one normally. In addition, she gains two advantages when taking multiple attacks:

a) Reduce Agility and Might penalties by two: there is none for the second attack, -2 for three, and so on.

b) The second attack does not go at the end of the round, but at the same time as the first. (Third and subsequent attacks still come at the end.) If the fighter with two weapons picks multiple attacks with Hold, he can pre-empt two foes rather than one if he chooses to delay the second attack, but if he does this he can’t come back and use it on that fellow at the end after all.

Taunting: This is a special maneuver in combat, athletic contests, and elsewhere it seems appropriate. Especially in one-on-one melee, there can be a problem if the initiative-loser perpetually calls hold. Either you have to lose initiative for a bonus die, or combat never begins!

The solution to this is for the person with higher initiative to switch the nature of the contest and declare that he is Taunting the person with lower initiative, instead of fighting. This is a Social Persuasion contest; but the player with higher initiative automatically goes first (though does not receive the Speak Eloquently bonus). Any success (6) automatically forces the initiative-lower to choose Strike Hard the following round. The initiative winner still maintains initiative and freedom to act.

The downside of Taunting is that if you don’t succeed, your Taunted opponent gets a free additional action to talk smack back at you before the next round starts. If he gets a success, you still have initiative, but you have to choose Strike Hard the next round, meaning that he will probably choose Hold and seize initiative from you.

If neither of you wins the Taunt roll, do the next round as normal; nothing happens except some baiting. If the initiative winner fumbles the taunt roll treat it as a loss of initiative for the next round; if the initiative loser fumbles the taunt roll, treat it as a combat fumble (got distracted and tripped, or dropped his sword or something).

Example: Your nemesis declares Hold, even though you’ve won initiative. You see his poisoned dagger, and don’t want to get cut first.

Cunningly switching tactics, you declare Taunt and talk some trash. You have better Will, but your nemesis is an Actor: 3 dice. 1,3,4: no successes. He likewise rolls 3 dice, and gets a 6! Reminding you of your last girlfriend, now at the bottom of the river due to him, blind rage colors your eyes, and Strike Hard will be your choice next round…

The Taunting Mechanic is not just for Combat. Out of combat, the initiative winner can opt for Taunt in response to Hold too. This means one of two things: an actual taunt if it’s appropriate, or a mechanically equivalent thing. Climbing a cliff, you take stock: the wind picks up but you see a clear path forward (ie cliff strikes hard next round, but you will get to strike hard yourself first). The guards are distracted by a game of dice, momentarily lowering their vigilance, but then snap back to attention. (They will look keenly in a moment, but you have your key chance to sneak by first.)
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John Burdick
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2004, 02:32:32 PM »

Sean, I like your version much better. Reading through the book I was dismayed by how double minded the whole things seems.

Two resolution methods
Two overlapping forms of character effectiveness improvement (runes and maneuvers)
Rolling damage dice to get hitpoints to produce health levels
Having simple combat posture and vital shot rules, and then detailed maneuvers cover some of the same options
Equipment list that looks like it was imported from the 70s

John
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2004, 03:35:47 PM »

Hi there,

Sean, what's your play-experience with the game? I ask because some of your suggestions make a lot of sense to me, and others contradict some of the fun aspects of play from my limited POV (one adventure). Here are some of my preliminary notions which would need a lot more play on my part before I'd commit to them.

1. I rather like the basic d10 resolution mechanic, although your more unified system seems pretty good too.

2. Maneuvers might help in further differentiating characters as they increase in Runes. In this game, everyone is a fighter and everyone is increasing in ability and a very limited set of Powerz. So Maneuvers seem like they'd further help specialize or at least distinguish.

I do agree that they could use a little more baking, based on my reading impressions, and it's not at all clear to me how "techniques" factor in (do you buy them? or?). Your point about their costs is well-taken.

3. I fully agree with you about inanimate "foes," very much in the sense of HeroQuest and Sorcerer.

Oh, and just to be geeky and colorful for a minute ... which, if any, of the warclans just floated your boat at first glance?

Best,
Ron
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Ben Lehman
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Posts: 2094

Blissed


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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2004, 05:11:47 PM »

Hi.  I have some questions about the content of the game.  Namely, Ron, can you give us any more details about the "plotline of the game," particularly how things worked up to a climax, etc?  'cause, you know, that would be cool.

I also have some social contract level questions:

1) The implication that I get from your writing is that it was you GMing the game, and Jake playing solo.  Clearly, you think that the game went well.  Do you often GM or play 1 on 1 games?  How does it work out for you generally?  How was this any different?

2) Do you think that the African setting encouraged the use of sexualized rituals and brutal savagery?  Would things have been markedly different in a "standard" (ie, European) fantasy setting?  Would things have been different if there was a black player at the table with you?  Likewise, at the level of the sexual rituals -- how might things have been different with "the girls" present as well?

Sorry for all the questions.  Just curious.

yrs--
--Ben
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Sean
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2004, 04:42:17 AM »

Hi Ron -

I agree that the weapon maneuvers provide important color and differentiation, especially in a game about fighting, but the way they're written, they're mostly enablers (which I like the flexibility of the double-six call for much better, needing the extra six for a garden-variety 'cool move') rather than over-the-top effects generators giving big in-game bonuses, which is the only thing I think it makes sense for them to be in the context of the rest of the system.

The advancement rules as written are way too slow in general, both for abilities and especially for glyphs. The average time to 10 glyphs in that game would be 57 FULL ADVENTURES - and it could easily take 10 or 20 more than this if the d10 didn't roll your way!

Also, though, you don't get yer special powers except at 4/6/8/10. So what I'd do is give out more powers (1/2 levels or even more), put the cool maneuvers in with the WarClan descriptions, and leave in the flexibility of the 2d6 system, which I think is pretty damn amazing. By cutting down on stuff you have to spend on you speed up regular advancement too without (necessarily) gutting the text experience system.
This would entail substantial rewrites of the WarClans though.

I think this is a game that would be both fun and manageable for one-shots with higher-'level' (two or three power, high-proficiency-level) characters right from the get-go.

---------

But my actual play experience is zero with this particular game. I have a bad problem with fantasy games - I am almost constitutionally incapable of just sitting down and playing them as written. I would have gotten Sorcerer like ten times faster if I had tried to play it before reading Sorcerer and Sword. I do not have this problem with non-fantasy games at all. But in the case of RQ:S I saw some things that were near and dear to my heart mixed up with a bunch of other stuff that didn't make much sense to me, and got out the hammer and chisel...

-----------

Clans? Well, I wasn't totally jazzed about any of them - I'm such a stick in the mud sometimes. The skull guys and the anti-paladins were both cool, and I've got a warrior-woman fetish, so the medean guard were fun. I didn't really like the riders of caldecan all that much but they reminded me of a beloved praxian nomad RQ2 character I once sort-of-played, long ago in the halcyon days of my youth.

-------------

John - thanks! I agree, the game is a really wild mix of genuine innovation and weird old stuff that isn't properly integrated. (Why are there nonhuman races, let alone bog-standard ones rather than lizard- and bug-men etc., in this game AT ALL????) But of course our opinions only go so far without some actual play to test it out. Sometimes weird and seemingly clunky mechanics are exactly what a game needs to spice up certain parts of play...
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2004, 07:58:42 AM »

Hiya,

So Sean, will you spot me an adventure of by-the-book play, if I spot you a session of let's-tweak-it? I really don't think we can be sure of many of your points, although the maneuvers-critique seems sound to me from the armchair.

Also, I'm not sure about the Glyphs ... as I understood it, you get assigned a Glyph per adventure, and then if the GM says you "acquire" it, you just do. So conceivably (if not wholly desirably), ten one-session adventures might get you all ten Glyphs. Granted, the chances of rolling all 10 without repetition are very low ... but still, deciding whether the rate of acquisition is too slow or too fast, without playing, seems arbitrary to me.

That is a very interesting point about your readings/analysis of fantasy-setting games. Lotta D&D pain in the past = lotta compensating behaviors. I know the feeling.

Ben, what's the apology for? Those are great questions. I'm composing a very long response, which might take a day or two to get right.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2004, 08:17:20 PM »

Hello,

Whew! Got some time to finish this.

Quote
Namely, Ron, can you give us any more details about the "plotline of the game," particularly how things worked up to a climax, etc? 'cause, you know, that would be cool.


Here's what we started with: Jake picked the "translator" profession and "ex-slave" status, so posited that his character Nyarai was a sort of scholarly-slave type whose job was to translate for her merchant master. As of play's start, she had just murdered her master and was now returning to her homeland. I said that she was riding with a caravan which was now getting close to lands that she vaguely remembered from her childhood. I was thinking very much in terms of Kenya for the local setting and had the caravan leader be a more northern/Arabic fellow named Zaid. I rolled for the relevant Glyph for the adventure, and it came up Discord.

That allowed me to introduce the initial primary NPCs in the caravan: a locally-born woman named N'Shanti and her northern (i.e. Egyptian) husband Omba (her name for him), returning with him to her homeland which she hadn't seen since she was ten, to meet her family. So her situation was a lot like the main character's, except that the latter was a skullface-painted, scary weirdo. The caravan is arriving near the NPC woman's home village at the start of play, which has nothing to do with Nyarai's home beyond being in the same general culture.

I gotta say, all I went with into the session was a relationship map, the intention to attack the character with a bat (the flying kind, not the baseball kind; I used the Night Horror from the rules), and a desire to run were-hyena murder drama. Jake kept me hopping, though, trying to get into all kinds of mischief  - along the lines of me saying, "OK, so the next morning, the village comes into view ..." and him saying, "Wait wait, during the night, I want to disguise myself as a soldier and sneak into ..." and so on. This was fine for transmitting the above information, but it was also a bit of a relief that Jake rolled poorly during the fight with the Night Horror and ended up being too bitten-up to continue with the shenanigans, at least giving me time to frame a freakin' scene, for cryin' out loud.

Now that relationship map kicked in in full, as her childhood friend Lutalo is all grown up now and apparently besotted with her, to the rage of the village beauty NNamdi. Less signficantly, Gwandoya the chief and various other characters were named as they popped up. I described the village differently from the usual stereotype of Hollywood African huts, and our mutual Kurosawa-based influences led us to a fairly strong idea of how it was laid out relative to the nearby cliff faces and forests.

Much more importantly, I introduced N'Shanti's mother, Kadija, who is - surprise! - a Cultist of the Skull, now much aged and more-or-less retired, and the real ruler of the village. Jake needed this character badly, because Nyarai hadn't bonded with anyone until that point. Obviously, she desperately needs a mentor, and asks Kadija whom she's to kill. Kadija tells her it's one, and only one, of the two women, N'Shanti and NNamdi.

Y'all may note that I was doing a certain amount of over-aggressive scene framing throughout all of this, but the limiting factor was time, as well as my desire to see how the system handled fights that we-the-participants cared about (as opposed to the monster-attacks-you Night Horror scene).

Finally I get to bring in the murder! Poor Lutalo is found all ripped up and eviscerated, with various signs indicating that "no natural hyena" did this, and so on. Jake went to town with Discord, spreading disinformation and violence. Nyarai disguises herself as N'Shanti, sneaks into Omba's sleeping-place, screws Omba silly, reveals his faithlessness to him, mixes his semen with her face-paint, and later fakes a second were-hyena murder (which is to say, murders an innocent person). The upshot over the next two days of game-time include Omba becoming the star defendant in the village's estimation, a near-battle between the caravan badasses and the village badasses, and most importantly, both primary women NPCs cracking under the strain.

N'Shanti (the were-hyena, in case you hadn't figured this out) went into 100% denial, and NNamdi (the innocent) does the opposite, showing great satisfaction and rage at Lutalo's death. So that threw Nyarai way off, as she decides she needs to kill NNamdi. Much ensues, and at one point Omba is in a lot of danger, but suffice to say that NNamdi kills herself, N'Shanti and Nyarai throw down (much to Nyarai's shock at the "wrong were-hyena" revelation), and so on. This was the fight in which Nyarai switched to psychology in the middle of a very dangerous fight scene.

Here's what happened at the very end: Kadija accepts N'Shanti's severed head from Nyarai, then cuddles it to her chest and sings a lullabye - she's finally welcoming her daughter home. This creeped Jake way, way out, as he finally figured out what Kadija was up to, and how basically whacked she was.

What really worked at the climax, I think, is that Jake was running Nyarai as an extremely amoral, transgressive character - but she (really he, as her author) was hit right between the eyes with a deed that she would not herself have done, and considered her role in colluding with it wrong and evil. Damn Narrativists, the two of us! All we needed to run was a plain old were-hyena whodunit, and Theme just had to come right on out, didn't it? I'm very happy that it was constructed utterly 50-50 between the two of us. For those who need it spelled out, it set up Premise for Nyarai as an ongoing character - "Can 'self'' survive the power gained through murder?"

Quote
1) The implication that I get from your writing is that it was you GMing the game, and Jake playing solo. Clearly, you think that the game went well. Do you often GM or play 1 on 1 games? How does it work out for you generally? How was this any different?


Your inference is correct, it was just me and Jake, with me as GM. However, I dislike this context for play quite a bit; role-playing provides over 50% of its enjoyment value, for me, from the dynamic interactions of three or more people. In this case, both of us provided a great deal of out-of-character feedback to one another, thus managing to act as audience more of the time than we would in a larger group. I think it was a deliberate if unspoken compensating mechanism on both our parts.

One interesting point - Jake kept trying to ask "what do I see?" and asking for rolls without goals, and I finally told him he had to start or call for conflicts, Trollbabe-style, before I could judge what sort of rolls he had to make. It took him a bit to adjust to this mode of communication, but after that, it went just fine.

Quote
2) Do you think that the African setting encouraged the use of sexualized rituals and brutal savagery? Would things have been markedly different in a "standard" (ie, European) fantasy setting?


Unfortunately, "would" is a problematic concept. It's very likely that I'm choosing my answers in order to convey an image that I'd prefer you to hold about me, rather than anything resembling reality.
What the African setting did do, for sure, was encourage us to a celebration of physicality. Bear in mind that Jake and I are both athletic people who practice barely-safe martial arts, often frustrated by the disconnect between our fellow role-players' bodies and the content of their imaginations. For us, an all-black cast was an opportunity to "feel the bodies," to a degree that might not have been possible for us with white characters. All of our narrations and offered suggestions to one another included body language, whether verbalized or depicted through our own gestures. Whether anyone thinks this is an unacceptable "objectification" on our parts is his or her personal call.

One thing that interests me about different cultures is the degree of casual touching among people. In my experiences with people from Kenya and similar parts of Africa, I've noted how different their touching is from my own - the handshake, in particular, is both very soft and held longer in comparison to an American one, and further along in the conversation, a higher amount of touching one another's shoulder or arm shows up. When the character Lutalo was introduced, I made a point of emphasizing these impressions of mine in his behavior, as a source of tension in the relationship-map between him and Omba, whose distinctly north-African and Moslem ways didn't deal well with being constantly touched. (Ever see the movie Rapid Fire? Highly unsubtle flick, but one of my favorite moments is when a Thai gangster and an Italian one are interacting - the latter touches the former's face lightly, intending to be conciliatory; the former visibly controls himself from striking out at this invasion of his body-space.) Again: stereotype, multiculturalism, or what? Not my call.

To give you a bit of perspective on my outlook toward ethnicity in role-playing and other media, check out [Arrowflight] Pixies, poisons, and duty, Race in heroic fantasy; see also Sorcerer ponderings for a short bit about western "coded messages" using Asian characters.

I should also point out that many of the games I GM or play in are startlingly graphic, especially concerning sex. To what extent is this made possible by objectifying the ethnicities and other semiotics in the settings? Good question.

In Violence Future, the western romance-version of Japanese culture is turned up to 11 into deliberate satire, and my Azk'Arn setting for Sorcerer is deliberately extremely exotic and not Euro-ethnic. However, it's worth pointing out that the game which brought on-screen sex and an extraordinary level of non-cartoonish violence into my main group was Hero Wars (now HeroQuest), in which the characters were extremely European and extremely white (Icelandic + Celtic). All of our characters in kill puppies for satan were vile white trash. Some of the most disturbing psychology and off-screen violence came in our Little Fears game, set in a primarily white suburb (one of the NPCs was the "weird kid" because he was from somewhere the other kids didn't understand at all, probably the Philippines). And our Le Mon Mouri game, which featured player-character on player-character rape at one point, was set in a Haiti-like version of Victorian London, and the characters were distinctly white 1890s British.

Quote
Likewise, at the level of the sexual rituals -- how might things have been different with "the girls" present as well


Gotta go to the videotape, which is to say, instances of role-playing with real girls which included explicit in-game-world sex. Um ... and there's been a lot of it over the last three or four years. All of the games I cited above were played with a fair number of women at the table, and in most cases, they were among the most hard-core contributors. Any of you who have met Dav Harnish and me may be interested to know that the both of us were entirely horror-struck - sincerely and thoroughly, no humor involved - by our fellow role-player Kyber (female) during the Violence Future game. That ain't easy to do!

I may well have overdone the "women are just crazy" thing in this session, although my writeup doesn't manage to convey how sympathetic some of the NPCs were, especially NNamdi - her mental crackup wasn't a pathology so much as a horrific injury.

Quote
Would things have been different if there was a black player at the table with you?


Your phrase "a black player" is also, and equally, problematic. There is no "a black person" I can shoehorn into my already-dubious mental construct of my "would" behavior. I can only speak to the actual and real people that I know, whose outlooks are their individual properties and who (I suspect) would be amused at any attempt to interpret them as "a" or "the" "black outlook." And conversely, my own behavior at the table is oriented toward the people there, not whatever iconic significance they might bring to an observer.

Terry (Doc Midnite here at the Forge) and I frequently role-play together. If he were playing with us, I think his "celebration" approach might have been similar to ours, in the same sense that I think he would enjoy the black buff supporting character in the movie Hidalgo in a similar way to my enjoyment of him. Neither of us is an "African person," and whatever expectations he brings to such a setting, insofar as they are influenced by his being an American black man, would be factored in as part of the social scene among all of us - if there were such expectations. Given our previous play-experiences, including one in which Terry enthusiastically supported the white players' characters depicting 1920s-style racism toward some black NPCs as he GM'd a Call of Cthulhu game, I suspect they wouldn't show up in the first place.

Would I be more self-monitoring if your hypothetical black player were a first-year college student who'd showed up for the first time at the campus club? Sure. But I'm more self-monitoring regarding any first-year college student who shows up at the campus club.

Again, these are awesome questions to pose at the Forge, Ben. In my view, they're what this forum is for.

To bring it back to a discussion of the game itself, head back to the rules and check out the warclans, each of which is a highly recognizable blend of fantasy-gaming and pop-culture warrior types, with its set of Glyphs. What interests me is that some of sets of Glyphs are kind of one-note stereotypes, and other ones are far richer in terms of personal and ethical conflict. I think that extended play of RuneQuest: Slayers would reveal whether the latter might lend themselves to Narrativist Drift, specifically in the direction implied by our game-experience - deciding whether the warclan itself is really going to be the rubric for the character's values.

Best,
Ron
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Sean
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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2004, 08:56:58 PM »

Sure, happily spotted, it's all good. I'm actually really jazzed that you played this game because there are parts of it that just seem incredibly cool to me - I wanted to take it for a test drive myself! And my stuff here is definitely put forward in the spirit of 'food for thought,' for obvious reasons.

On the Glyphs thing - what I wrote in the previous post was wrong, but it's still pretty bad from a particular point of view, obviously not that of the designers. The average time-to-glyph based on the rules text, assuming a good player and a generous GM who awards the glyph say 90% of the time, comes out to be:

1.1 + 1.2 + 1.4 + 1.6 + 1.9 + 2.2 + 2.8 + 3.7 + 5.6 + 11.1 = 32.6 sessions to complete the text advancement. (Note also: 5.3 to first rune, 4.1 more to second, 6.5 more to 3rd, 16.7 to last.)

Is that too much? Jeez, man, I don't know. It's a lot, that's for sure, given how long actual 'campaigns' tend to last. I think when I was in high school we had a few games that lasted this long or longer. As an adult it's almost inconceivable to me. I do know that going session after session missing a 1 in 10 chance at a meaningful glyph to play and having to distend my personality in weird directions for nothing might well drive me batshit.

The stat/proficiency/etc. experience point advancement actually looks even slower to me from the rules-text judging from their award guidelines.

But anyway, thanks for discussing it, and obviously I think the game's worth a read and a test drive both as well!
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2004, 08:35:15 PM »

Just a note: Ron and I actually talked about this briefly at GenCon.  I'm recapping some of my replies here, so the conversation isn't disjointed, but if the text seems a little stilted that's why.

Quote
Namely, Ron, can you give us any more details about the "plotline of the game," particularly how things worked up to a climax, etc? 'cause, you know, that would be cool.


Quote from: Ron Edwards

I gotta say, all I went with into the session was a relationship map, the intention to attack the character with a bat (the flying kind, not the baseball kind; I used the Night Horror from the rules), and a desire to run were-hyena murder drama. Jake kept me hopping, though, trying to get into all kinds of mischief  - along the lines of me saying, "OK, so the next morning, the village comes into view ..." and him saying, "Wait wait, during the night, I want to disguise myself as a soldier and sneak into ..." and so on. This was fine for transmitting the above information, but it was also a bit of a relief that Jake rolled poorly during the fight with the Night Horror and ended up being too bitten-up to continue with the shenanigans, at least giving me time to frame a freakin' scene,


BL> I'd just like to note this out as "hmm... interesting."  I imagine that both of you are usually GMs for your group, right?  I have had a pretty similar experience ("I'll frame a scene!"  "No, I will!") with players who are used to being GMs.  Fun times.

Quote from: Ron Edwards

What really worked at the climax, I think, is that Jake was running Nyarai as an extremely amoral, transgressive character - but she (really he, as her author) was hit right between the eyes with a deed that she would not herself have done, and considered her role in colluding with it wrong and evil. Damn Narrativists, the two of us! All we needed to run was a plain old were-hyena whodunit, and Theme just had to come right on out, didn't it? I'm very happy that it was constructed utterly 50-50 between the two of us. For those who need it spelled out, it set up Premise for Nyarai as an ongoing character - "Can 'self'' survive the power gained through murder?"


BL>  And what a fine Premise it is.  Wait until I finish the Scythe's Edge writeup.

A question about the skull people:  Is there power gained through death-in-general, impersonal killing, or passionate, personal murder?  Is this defined in the rules at all?  If it isn't, what's your take?

Quote
1) The implication that I get from your writing is that it was you GMing the game, and Jake playing solo. Clearly, you think that the game went well. Do you often GM or play 1 on 1 games? How does it work out for you generally? How was this any different?


Quote
2) Do you think that the African setting encouraged the use of sexualized rituals and brutal savagery? Would things have been markedly different in a "standard" (ie, European) fantasy setting?


Quote from: Ron Edwards

Unfortunately, "would" is a problematic concept. It's very likely that I'm choosing my answers in order to convey an image that I'd prefer you to hold about me, rather than anything resembling reality.
What the African setting did do, for sure, was encourage us to a celebration of physicality. Bear in mind that Jake and I are both athletic people who practice barely-safe martial arts, often frustrated by the disconnect between our fellow role-players' bodies and the content of their imaginations. For us, an all-black cast was an opportunity to "feel the bodies," to a degree that might not have been possible for us with white characters. All of our narrations and offered suggestions to one another included body language, whether verbalized or depicted through our own gestures. Whether anyone thinks this is an unacceptable "objectification" on our parts is his or her personal call.

One thing that interests me about different cultures is the degree of casual touching among people. In my experiences with people from Kenya and similar parts of Africa, I've noted how different their touching is from my own - the handshake, in particular, is both very soft and held longer in comparison to an American one, and further along in the conversation, a higher amount of touching one another's shoulder or arm shows up. When the character Lutalo was introduced, I made a point of emphasizing these impressions of mine in his behavior, as a source of tension in the relationship-map between him and Omba, whose distinctly north-African and Moslem ways didn't deal well with being constantly touched. (Ever see the movie Rapid Fire? Highly unsubtle flick, but one of my favorite moments is when a Thai gangster and an Italian one are interacting - the latter touches the former's face lightly, intending to be conciliatory; the former visibly controls himself from striking out at this invasion of his body-space.) Again: stereotype, multiculturalism, or what? Not my call.

*snip links*

I should also point out that many of the games I GM or play in are startlingly graphic, especially concerning sex. To what extent is this made possible by objectifying the ethnicities and other semiotics in the settings? Good question.

In Violence Future, the western romance-version of Japanese culture is turned up to 11 into deliberate satire, and my Azk'Arn setting for Sorcerer is deliberately extremely exotic and not Euro-ethnic. However, it's worth pointing out that the game which brought on-screen sex and an extraordinary level of non-cartoonish violence into my main group was Hero Wars (now HeroQuest), in which the characters were extremely European and extremely white (Icelandic + Celtic). All of our characters in kill puppies for satan were vile white trash. Some of the most disturbing psychology and off-screen violence came in our Little Fears game, set in a primarily white suburb (one of the NPCs was the "weird kid" because he was from somewhere the other kids didn't understand at all, probably the Philippines). And our Le Mon Mouri game, which featured player-character on player-character rape at one point, was set in a Haiti-like version of Victorian London, and the characters were distinctly white 1890s British.


BL>  Cool.  I don't have a lot to add to this except for things from my own play experiences which, frankly, need their own posts.

  To clarify, briefly, for anyone else:  My motives for asking this question are pretty much strictly informative.  I think that there is a very real cultural typing that goes on in, well, all media, but especially in gaming, which is often highly derivative in color and situation.  Particularly, portrayals of Medevial Europe settings tend towards the violent and magical, portrayals of Asian settings tend towards the social and intellectual, so on and so forth.  Having not done a lot of heavy work in an African setting, I was curious about how that worked out for the particular combination of Ron and Jake.

  I, personally, am really touchy on the way that Asian settings are presented in most RPGs, simply by virtue of having studied enough.  Hence, the question about the "black guy" which is really unfortunate shorthand for "someone who groks African culture at a more personal or intellectual level."

  Sorry about the "would."  I agree with you that it is a poorly phrased question.

Quote
Likewise, at the level of the sexual rituals -- how might things have been different with "the girls" present as well


Quote from: Ron Edwards

Gotta go to the videotape, which is to say, instances of role-playing with real girls which included explicit in-game-world sex. Um ... and there's been a lot of it over the last three or four years. All of the games I cited above were played with a fair number of women at the table, and in most cases, they were among the most hard-core contributors. Any of you who have met Dav Harnish and me may be interested to know that the both of us were entirely horror-struck - sincerely and thoroughly, no humor involved - by our fellow role-player Kyber (female) during the Violence Future game. That ain't easy to do!


BL>  Hrm... Poorly phrased question.  Let me restate:

All of my experiences with sex-in-game have been in mixed gender gaming groups, usually those where the women outnumbered the men.  Around "just guys," we find ourselves a little awkward about sex and even romance.  I was curious how sexual content in a "just guys" game played out.  Could you comment on that?

And, here's another "if" question, which you can ignore if you like, but I find interesting as a bone to chew on: If there were a third man present, how does that change the dynamic?

yrs--
--Ben
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Callan S.
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2004, 11:43:15 PM »

Quote
All of this puts a strong emphasis on playing exactly the kind of fighter/warrior you want, not just in terms of "what my guy would do because he belongs to this warclan," but also a certain amount of ebb and flow in terms of whether the guy acts in-warclan this particular time or not. Lotta Author Stance going on.


I don't get 'exactly the kind of fighter/warrior you want'. The glyph is random and the reward system is pegged to behaving that way. It's a strong reward mechanism for behaving as the random glyph determines. I mean, I don't have to kill monsters in D&D, but really I am for the definate XP reward while if I don't I lag behind or drag everyone down. Same thing if I don't follow the glyph, right?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2004, 04:56:54 AM »

Hello,

Thanks for extending this thread, Ben! You tossed me a real hot potato with your questions, so I was really looking forward to your responses.

Quote
All of my experiences with sex-in-game have been in mixed gender gaming groups, usually those where the women outnumbered the men. Around "just guys," we find ourselves a little awkward about sex and even romance. I was curious how sexual content in a "just guys" game played out. Could you comment on that?


I think there are several things going on in our particular case.

1. Jake and I have both been, for lack of a better word, "liberated" into highly graphic and emotionally-charged play with mixed-gender groups. I know for certain that he was deeply affected by Sex & Sorcery, and I certainly was during the two years of play prior to writing it.

Since we've corresponded and talked with one another about all this for years, this instance of play provided a private opportunity really to go for as much relevant graphic quality as we could get. The game was not only Jake and me trying out RuneQuest: Slayers, but also Jake and me taking our chance to "meet" in a fashion that we'd been evolving independently (in play) and together (correspondence/conversation) for quite a while.

Arguably, this point is not gender-specific at all.

2. The real movers and shakers in the whole story were all female. The hero, the two werewolf-suspects, and the significant back-story NPC. I think here's where the gender thing came in: that we were two guys engaged in a story which relied wholly on female characters' past and present relationships and passions.

Jake and I share the outlook that people are dangerous creatures, and that women have no particular claim to be characteristically reconciliatory, non-violent, or passive. We also consider people to be highly sexualized and capable of astounding ruthlessness in the service of good or bad. Again, by "people," we specifically include women.

By working with this sort of back-story and hero, and due to the minor "separation" effect of being men who are doing so, it permitted us to communicate about this topic via fiction.

Quote
And, here's another "if" question, which you can ignore if you like, but I find interesting as a bone to chew on: If there were a third man present, how does that change the dynamic?


This is the perfect followup question, actually; in order to complete my answers above, I'd have to ask it of myself anyway.

It would depend greatly on whether the person in question were engaged in both of the #1-2 above. If so, then the effect is positive, as I definitely think three is better than two for all role-playing that I'm interested in doing.

If not, for either one, I think it would have cramped our style considerably. I think we both would have self-monitored heavily and also that the third person might get the idea that we were talking past him or otherwise leaving him out in some subtle way.

Best,
Ron
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