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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 139 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Earthdawn Conversion Notes  (Read 8346 times)
Brand_Robins
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« on: November 27, 2004, 12:30:57 PM »

This started as a thread on RPG.net, but I thought I'd move it here in case those of you who don't hang out over there wanted to have a say.

Quote
However, the ED system is a really quirky one (using a Karma dicepool which can add to rolls, Armor reducing physical damage, variable Defenses, Talent pre-requisites and combos and such).


I've done some very initial tinkering with it. The thing you have to remember is that when you convert a crunchy game to HQ you're going to lose some of the crunch -- you won't still have an Essence Pool in HQ Exalted, nor a Karma Pool in HQ Earthdawn, the variable talent prereqs will mostly go away, etc.

It's far more important to capture the feel of the world and the themes you want to play with. In Earthdawn that generally means epic heroes with powers few others have fighting to build the legends of tomorrow. So you'll want to focus on that, and use the other quirks as support.

Things like the way armor works just port over to the new system –  armor gives you a bonus in a fight and mystic armor gives you a bonus in a magical fight. Blood Magic can be represented by a big variable augment, with the price being that you have to take a hurt (or multiple hurts) depending on how well you do. Blood Charms are well represented by limited use fetishes or charms. And so it goes.

Now, the one thing that I would change around about HQ is the keywords. The HQ keywords are actually set up fairly specifically to fit the theme of the game – Where Are You From, What do You Do, and What Do You Believe. In Earthdawn things break down a little differently: Most Adepts profession is being an Adept, and while place of origin can be important, race is often more important, and while the Passions are nice, not nearly everyone worships them and even those that do are far less intense about it than even a lay member in Glorantha.

So for Earthdawn Adept/PC characters I’d suggest having the keywords of Background, Race, and Discipline. Background covers the general area your from, as well as a bit of what you grew up doing: Kaer raised, Thoral, Blood Wood, Holdfast, Scorcher band, etc. Race is, obviously, your race – and it may not start with all abilities at an even 17, but may have different flaws and bonuses for different races. For example, Trolls and Obsidimen both get Strong, but Trolls may get Strong 17 where Obsidimen start with Strong 5m – but also get a flaw of Has Difficulty Using Magic in Metal Armor 10m. Discipline is your adept word, and it gives you the equivalent of Concentrated Magical abilities – letting you use your magic actively to do things. That’s because in Earthdawn Adepts don’t learn to fight normally (that’s a skill) they learn to fight magically.

If you wanted to you could group the talents an Adept can learn by circle, and say they can’t learn the talents of a new circle until all (or most) of the abilities of the lower circle are at a certain level (20 for second, 5m for third, 10m for fourth, etc). I don’t know if that would really be necessary though, as it is using the stepped and metered level of adept powers that worked well in the old system (where there were specific and crunchy game effects for talents). In HQ it doesn’t really matter if a PC has Thunder Hammer at starting level – because it’s a magical ability like all the others rather than a monstrous power of game breaking.

On a similar line you’d want to reverse the normal HQ costs for advancement. In Glroantha learning magic is harder than learning a mundane skill, so magic costs more to raise. In Earthdawn it’s the opposite – magical abilities are easier to raise than normal ones. So an Adept should probably be able to raise their talents at 1 per 1, where skills from other sources cost 2 (or even 3) per raised point. That will mean that Adepts get much more powerful much faster than non-adepts, but only by relying heavily on their magical abilities, of which they have a narrow scope.

The various types of spell casters would work, mostly, as Wizards from HQ. They have grimoires, and they learn spells from them. It might be interesting to mix that up a bit – Nethermancers and Elementalists could do quite well as Animists – but the default tone of the world is pretty much that everyone learns magic from books and then casts spells, which Wizardry handles pretty well. You may want to still keep the limitations of spell matrixes around, because they have the important effect of making spell casters choose if they want to take the chance of taint from casting raw magic. Luckily that’s simply enough done, a spell caster can only have one hung spell per matrix, and can only cast the spell at a rating up to that of the matrix. To cast bigger spells or cast unhung spells you gotta cast raw.

Karma I’d make an ability that all Adepts have that can be used to augment talent use, but has to be used as a variable augment. If an augment is failed it gets injured, lowering the karma rating for a time (or even permanently if the failure is bad enough). It also is subject to being sucked away by Horrors….

Past that, if you want to convert monsters and adversaries quick and on the fly, I’d suggest the easiest way to do that is to convert their action step number into an attribute equivalent, then use that attribute as the HQ rating. So a Cadaver Man has an attack step of 7, which is equal to an Earthdawn attribute of 16-18, giving a Cadaver Man a HQ ability of Claw Your Flesh Off 17. Verjigorm has a Spellcasting step of 40, which is equal to an Earthdawn attribute of 116, so he’d have a HQ attribute Spells of Doom and Suffering at 16m5. (Fear Verjigorm.)
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- Brand Robins
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2004, 02:40:41 PM »

Glad I decided to look down on the list. I'd missed this.

I think your conversion vis a vis keywords is alright, but I have a different perspective on it. Which is the same perspective that I've applied to other conversions. Which is essentially that other RPG systems in trying to be different or in trying to be cooler than the last, always have their own "take" on the whole fantasy thing. But the reason I play HQ is precisely to alter this take. That is, I think Earthdawn already does fine with the whole "mishmosh" of races and homelands and the like. As a system.

But I've yet to see a fantasy world where the themes implicit in the setting didn't have the same deep roots. Hero Quest's systematically applied theme isn't Glorantha specific as some people suggest. IMO, it's very fantasy specific as a whole. I mean, I see a lot of D&D in Glorantha, truth be told. Sure Glorantha is older, but all of these settings are trying to do the same thing - give us a sense of wonder at the otherworldliness of them. To that extent they all have strange races from strange places, and the issues are about the clash of these strange forces.  

Does this apply to Earthdawn? In spades, I'd say. You have the "new world" emerging, just like Glorantha, just like the third age of Middle Earth ending, and things have to change. The Dwarves are their curmudgeonly selves, the elves more angsty than usual, and an empire seeks to invade the area it once controlled long ago.

Heck, from the website:
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The time of hiding has passed. Now, the Name-givers have returned, and reclaimed their place in the world. The fight is not over. The Horrors still linger in this world -- in the vities and ruins lost during the Scourge. A corrupt Empire seeks to reclaim it's provinces, and Name-givers with dark ambitions seek to set themselves up as the new power in the absense of the Empire.
So it's each race setting themselves up as powerfully as they can, with an outside invader in this case to give them pressure to work together. It's almost the reverse of the Lunar/Heortling thing.

My point is that I think that the normal Glorantha paradigm would work better than trying to bend it to Earthdawn's system's themes. The more conversions that I see that get away from this, the more I'm convinced that it's the way to go. Oh, certainly you can have specific differences in how things are worked out, but generally I think character enumeration works out pretty well as is. Yeah magic will have to become a tad more secular seeming, but it's still a belief system, not science.

At most with the cost of skills/magic I'd go with even - 1 point for everything. Making magic cheaper isn't neccessary to make it attractive, it's magic. And not everybody does everything that way.


Hmm. Karma is pretty metagame, IMO. Don't HP cover karma already? I'm not against a karma ability per se, I'm just not sure it's needed for color.


I think the real fun with Earthdawn will be magic items. The investment that a player puts into an item, weaving threads into it's magic, is represented well by the HQ system just as it is. The more one learns about the item, the more points you spend on it, and the higher the ability level goes. Simple as pie. If the thing has more than one ability, you simply buy more abilities. So Earthdawn has a built-in explanation for why the HQ magic item system works the way it does. How cool is that?

The ED to HQ stat conversion you have there is excellently easy. Not many systems convert that easily.

Mike
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2004, 11:41:28 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Glad I decided to look down on the list. I'd missed this.


Yea, I was starting to wonder where you were.

Quote
Does this apply to Earthdawn? In spades, I'd say....


The problem with Earthdawn is that there never was one theme to the whole game or world. There were several, and those who've played in the world for a time get a slant on what the world should be about. (This is not unusual with incoherent RPG settings, but it’s also more common in fantasy fiction than you seem willing to grant.) I'll explain this in responsa:

Quote
You have the "new world" emerging, just like Glorantha


This is true, but I've always found a specifically different slant on this old trope in Earthdawn than in Glorantha. Earthdawn is closer to Glorantha's Dawn Age than it's current one -- as it isn't about a new world being born out of an existing and competing social order so much as it is about humanity reclaiming a lost world.

In My Head, at least.

See, some people play Earthdawn with the Kaers well in the past, the Kingdom of Thoral well established, and the emphasis on local vs. imperial control. That is very Gloranthan. I never gave a fig about that. My games were always about emergence from the Kaer, taking the world back from horror, and the difficulties of local and isolated people encountering each other for the first time. I never had a single Theran in any game I ran, nor did their long imperial hand ever show up. (Mostly because I was, and still often am, bored with imperial and post-colonial studies. Too much of them in school to remaining interesting in game.)

Quote
So it's each race setting themselves up as powerfully as they can


Except that the big debates aren't often centered there -- the constant friction between racial isolation and cross-racial unity is a massive and moving force in the setting. Even when I never had the shadow of Thera lying heavy over the land, there was always a lot of racially-based issue going on. While it might be important to one elf and another where one is from, between two elves and a dwarf it will always be the dwarf on the out.

Unless, of course, one of the elves has other ideas. Which leads to conflict.

Quote
Yeah magic will have to become a tad more secular seeming, but it's still a belief system, not science.


That's actually quite debatable. In Earthdawn magic really is science -- the science of a different world, certainly, but it operates more in line with scientific principles and is studied imore like quantum physics than any religion.  

Quote
And not everybody does everything that way.


All the PCs and power players do. Now, whether or not you want to keep that there is a valid question. The basis of the world as written is that magic is power, and those with magic have power over their world.

Now, if you want to spin that and play PCs without magic and look at how their second-class status gives conflict with their ambitions, then that would be something worth looking at.

However, that's not a conflict that's played up in Earthdawn, nor one normally analyzed in any way. HQ can let you do that, but the question is if that is what you want out of your conversion. It's the same question with all the rest of the material -- which conflicts and themes are important to you, which do you want to draw out and emphasize. For me the Barsave/Thoral conflict is boring and insignificant, where the racial one is passionate and difficult -- thus my emphasis on race rather than homeland.

Quote
Hmm. Karma is pretty metagame, IMO. Don't HP cover karma already? I'm not against a karma ability per se, I'm just not sure it's needed for color.


I'd agree on that. That part was in response to a question asked in the initial thread on RPG.net.

Quote
If the thing has more than one ability, you simply buy more abilities. So Earthdawn has a built-in explanation for why the HQ magic item system works the way it does. How cool is that?


Very cool. It's also easy to do magic items as fetishes, or simply to let them be a mini-keyword all their own.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2004, 10:17:43 AM »

I'm not suggesting that there is at all a theme about magic/non-magic that needs to be explored. In fact I don't think that allowing players to, in theory not take a magic keyword isn't about that at all. In fact, I'd expect that almost all players would take a magic keyword anyhow.

So why not make it mandatory? Because then you lose the sense that it's a choice. While, yes, there's a pseudo-scientific reasoning behind the whole magic of Earthdawn, IIRC, the people don't really understand this fact (nor that Barsaive is located in what is today's central asia). The point is that the choice of how to do magic speaks to the character's personal identity. As much as being a member of an occupation does, for instance. Call it "What do I believe is the best way to accomplish things with magic?"

Anyway, it's all about identity in a fantasy world, and I think the normal system does that well.

I'm not saying that species is not important, rather the opposite. Each character should have a species keyword for certain, and, yes, this is key to the setting. But I think that it's the crossproduct of the species and homeworld that's really interesting. And your method also brings that out. I just think the original method would as well.

Mike
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2004, 01:03:00 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
So why not make it mandatory? Because then you lose the sense that it's a choice.


On reflection, I must conceed that you are correct sir.

HeroQuest doesn't just allow you to play the Earthdawn game, it allows you to play the Earthdawn world.  The game is all about adepts having adventures in kaers and fighting evil empires, the world, however, is about much more than that.

I had this revelation while looking at Shadowrun HQ conversions and, at the same time, was going over the Ancient Files version of Dunzkealzan’s Will. It suddenly occurred to me that the part of Shadowrun that keeps bringing me back year after year has very little to do with what the game does or is about. Shadowrunners on the street, raiding corporate dungeons isn’t that interesting anymore. But a world where the daughters of corporate princes steal chess pieces from the board on which her father is playing a decade long game with a great dragon so that she can impress a powerful mage who is in an honor duel with an immortal elf, and all of them are wrapped around conspiracies involving lost lands, the rise of Cthulhu, and governmental control of a new breed of children that can project their souls into machines… that’s interesting.

I don’t want to play Earthdawn or Shadowun, I want to play the stories of the world of Earthdawn and Shadowrun – the things we see in the novels and background that the standard game only lets us approach as plot hooks for another dungeon crawl.
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- Brand Robins
Minx
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2004, 03:35:12 PM »

Quote from: Brand_Robins

HeroQuest doesn't just allow you to play the Earthdawn game, it allows you to play the Earthdawn world.  The game is all about adepts having adventures in kaers and fighting evil empires, the world, however, is about much more than that.

[snip]

I don’t want to play Earthdawn or Shadowun, I want to play the stories of the world of Earthdawn and Shadowrun – the things we see in the novels and background that the standard game only lets us approach as plot hooks for another dungeon crawl.


I feel the same. My (poorly executed and currently on ice) try on a SR-HQ conversion tried to do this, although it wasn´t aware of it. (At the same time it concentrated on a specific part of the setting. Oh well...)

Heroquest shines in this, in making the world count. This makes me want to continue my work, damn...  T_T

M

Oh, and out of couriosity, did you look at my "conversion" or are there other SR HQ conversions out there that I should be aware of? (And could steal from...)
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2004, 07:12:54 PM »

Quote from: Minx
Oh, and out of couriosity, did you look at my "conversion" or are there other SR HQ conversions out there that I should be aware of? (And could steal from...)


I did some on my own, but quit because I didn't have time to run it.

Then I looked over yours, liked it, but found that it didn't quite hit the points I wanted. It was good at what it tried to do, I thought, but the focus wasn't quite what I was looking for. You quite succesfully made the whole street/survival angle the center of the game, but what I was looking for was (though I couldn't name it at the time) the over the top ancient conspiracies of magic, money, and sex that make the world of Shadowrun more than just runners and street stories.
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- Brand Robins
Minx
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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2004, 07:42:09 AM »

Understandable. I recently made a character for a high-powered game that hasn´t started yet (but hopefully will someday), focusing on pretty much exactly this. The characters are awakened members of the vaticans secret service, and I hope it will revolve around evil magic and interesting conspiracies.

If it ever gets off, that is...

Do you have any notes regarding you SR-HQ conversion you could send me?

M
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2004, 12:17:25 PM »

Quote from: Minx
Do you have any notes regarding you SR-HQ conversion you could send me?


I'll see if I can fish them up. They were hand-written (durring the period where my computer was dead) and not overly satisfactory though, so....
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- Brand Robins
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2004, 08:22:57 PM »

I'm not sure what the convincing part was, but I'm glad you got it. Because you've said it very clearly. I play HQ in Shadow World, precisely because I didn't like the sorts of adventures that I'd have there using Rolemaster. You can imagine the D&D-esque stuff that we played through. Since using HQ, I've been, as you say, playing the world. Which is what I wanted to begin with.

That all said, I'm not sure that there aren't times when certain worlds are such that they need to have adjustments. I think that the Tekumel conversion that was done here, for instance, considered the right world features, probably in a functional way to play the world. And other small changes, too.

But the more I looked at my assumptions about, "I'll have to change this, because it's not like Glorantha," the more I found that instead adjusting to the HQ model worked better. For instance, I thought that Wizardry would be a problem in SW, since there was, from what I could see, no monotheistic faith. But even that turned out not to be true. Turns out that a "secular" belief in a magic that's not from the theistic gods, or from the spirits, works just like Wizardry. I mean, sorcerers in Glorantha, operate as if there is no One God (or rather not worshipping him whether they believe or no).

As such, all of those "secular" wizards suddenly became much more interesting. Why? Because the real basis of all magic belief systems is what you have to do in the world to get the magic. This is the one thing that's really missing from D&D-style wizards. It's not that they have to worship a monotheistic god, it's that thay have to have gained the trust of somebody to teach them the magic. Somebody thought that they had enough reverence for the knowledge that they should be allowed to learn it.

It's the Academies that you read about in most of these worlds and the like that are what's missing. Oh, sure they might be listed - in Shadow World, for example each big town write up has some places that teach magic, in theory. But they're "universities" and such - the impression is that you pay your gold, and learn your spells. Which may even be OK. The point is that HQ gives you rules for this. Maybe it IS a wealth contest to get inside a certain university. But that doesn't mean that you won't encounter real teachers, and make real contacts therin. It's these NPC contacts which link the character to the world. That's what's always been missing in these games. The politics behind the magic that we always knew was there, but somehow never was important to blasting a dragon with a fireball.

So, I'm glad that others see my point in this. I'm not saying that you can't convert some of the mechanics from other games to the good HQ mechanics, and play an improved version of the other game. But it's just an option - anopther is playing HQ in the other world. Which is what I'm after personally.

Mike
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Minx
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2004, 04:47:54 PM »

Quote from: Brand_Robins
Quote from: Minx
Do you have any notes regarding you SR-HQ conversion you could send me?


I'll see if I can fish them up. They were hand-written (durring the period where my computer was dead) and not overly satisfactory though, so....


That would be nice, thanks. ^.^
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2004, 08:24:14 AM »

Hello,

To chime in with Mike's point: I discovered that in preparing for our Planescape game, using HeroQuest rules and concepts, that there was no need to adjust HQ in order to achieve various D&D-style assumptions, especially about spell use, levels, and alignment. Instead, those assumptions were often exposed in such a way that we could eliminate them very cleanly.

Or to put it a different way: Planescape + HeroQuest = awesome Planescape. What's interesting is that setting it up simply erased all the aspects of D&D, such that the Planescape that emerged was a new animal - which happened to be the one we wanted all along.

Best,
Ron
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NickHollingsworth
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« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2005, 10:35:07 AM »

how did you "achieve various D&D-style assumptions, especially about ... levels"
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Nick Hollingsworth
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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2005, 02:07:56 AM »

Hi Nick,

Quote from: KingOfFarPoint
how did you "achieve various D&D-style assumptions, especially about ... levels"


Aren't you missing important parts of Ron's post, such as "no need to" and "eliminate"?

Cheers,
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2005, 07:54:07 AM »

Yeah, for example, nobody (or, rather, nobody I've ever talked to) buys into "memorizing spells" in any D&D universe. Ported in from the Dying Earth series as a way of creating a resource strategy problem for Magic Users in early D&D, one could emulate this with some alterations to HQ - you could have a "memory" ability that you had to roll against or something to see if the spell was still there. Or you could hardcode a bunch of new rules about spell memorization.

The point is that it's just not neccessary. Why keep the odd resource management rule from D&D at all? I learned this the hard way with Shadow World, myself. On this forum is a long post about how I was going to have a "Power Point" ability required to represent the limits of spell users from the Rolemaster system. Well, in play I've yet to actually use it. In fact, even early on I admitted that I probably would only use it when a player decided to cast something over and over.

Well, that's never happened. Sans the gamism aspect, there just never is a time when this happens, where you feel a need to reflect it. This doesn't mean that I've dropped the idea that characters have limited amounts of magic power to draw from - I like that, and it's still there in the system. The point is that, if and when such a contest should arise about casting a lot of spells, I can use the current system as is to reflect this. That is, I can have the character roll against his current piety ability vs some resistance based on how hard the overall task is in terms of how much casting is involved. So it's not "how many spells can I cast" but, "can I case enough Cure Disease spells to stop the epidemic" or somesuch.

I made a similar mistake with spell failure. In Rolemaster, there are actually two rolls for casting, one to get the spell off, and one to affect the target. So I came up with a rule to represent this. Well, same thing, I haven't used it once. I fully intended to do so, but I got to playing, and when magic came up, we just used it as per the normal HQ rules, and nobody seemed to miss a thing.

Again, it's not that I've said that magic can't spectacularly backfire in Shadow World, per the implication of the RM rules, and other setting canon - this can, and still does happen. It's the result of failing in a contest. Now, yes, failure can also mean not affecting your foe, simply, so I do have to decide each time on the nature of a spell casting failure. But, then one has to do this with every outcome. In practice, actually, it's been rather easy to decide when something was a matter of "Catastrophic Spell Failure" and when it was just "failure." Nothing I could write out, just at some times it seems appropriate to say that the target is just confident he can resist your magic, or that the PC has lost his confidence, or in other cases that he's damaged his ability to cast spells for a while, or in others that the spell caused an explosion that hurt the caster, etc, etc.

So, again, it turns out that there was really no need to alter the character enumeration at all in order to get the feeling that was sought. In fact, in adopting the HQ methods, the result in play has been substantively superior to play with Rolemaster, in terms of getting what I want from play.

For example, with Josh's character recently, he failed a big magical contest, and we decided that it caused a problem with his connection to his god, which was pretty cool to his character's story. With the RM adjusted method, I might have been forced to say that it was simply a failure of power or something. Which either could have been interpreted as not being about his god, and so less thematically interesting, or could have been interpereted as about being about the god, in which case this is just like what happened using the regular method, and I didn't need the extra system to tell me this.

Again, the more I play, the more I find that less adjustment works better.

Mike
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