Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fun, but somehow not entirely satisfying RuneQuest play

I've been running my RuneQuest game for several weeks now, and while it's fun, it's also somehow not entirely satisfying.

One aspect that's an interesting plus and minus is two new players I recruited. They are both Gloranthaphiles, and are contributing a lot to the game (and I think helping drive a simulationist agenda - which is what I'm hoping for). On the other hand, they, especially one of the players, are not quite so into the wargamey combat aspect. On top of this, I'm finding myself more and more frustrated by some aspects of the RQ system. The active defense really just makes for an unfun game (I hit, no you don't, he parried). The system of course, like all old school systems, provides terrible support for social conflict.

I'm having the usual troubles with the young learning disabled couple. The wife is mostly not engaged, though in this case, since she's playing an elf, she might actually be roleplaying really well... The husband is playing a newtling Orlanthi, and I'm more and more realizing it just really doesn't fit well.

In one sense, I think I've been spoiled by Dogs in the Vinyard. Now that I've seen a system which handles social conflict and fighting in a unified way, but also makes for real consequences of chosing to fight or keep talking, it's harder to play a system with disjoint social and combat conflict (I noticed even with Burning Wheel's improved social conflict system, the disconnect was still jarring). But I still can't see a way to unify social and combat conflict and have wargamey combat.

We've also got the most variable attendance I've had in a while, especially compared to my Arcana Evolved campaign which had very solid attendance from all the players.

There was also a problematical bit during the previous adventure, the Rainbow Mounds scenario from Apple Lane. The PCs had started to interract with the newtlings, and I wanted to at least offer the prophesy and quest, but that sort of stalled, though they eventually did trigger the prophesy, but then the prophesised savior got himself killed in spirit combat, and none of the other PCs were invested in the quest. This would have been an area where some meta-game negotiation tools might have made for a really cool game opportunity (or a quick dismisall of the quest as not interesting). For example, if there was a currency the GM could use to bribe the players to accept the quest (the prophesy, for those not familiar with the module, basically requires a PC to fall into an underground lake to be rescued by the newtlings, the PC then accepts the quest with his companions and they go to rid the caverns of an ancient rival to the newtlings, and then they get some blessings, some treasure, and a few other bennies).



At 6:48 PM, May 17, 2006, Blogger Bankuei said...

Hey Frank,

Here's a question- is everyone engaged in the game? It sounds like your AE game had everyone engaged, and here, it seems a little more disparate in terms of player engagement. When only -some- of the folks are really into it, it's a big difference from when -everyone- is really into it.

At 10:42 PM, May 17, 2006, Blogger Frank said...

There definitely is a difference in engagement, not huge (the young wife is not any less engaged than ever, the young husband may be less engaged). I think also the husband has more trouble with sim, especially if it isn't something he's familiar with from elsewhere (i.e. I suspect he would do fine with Star Wars sim). I'm also definitely less sure how to drive sim, and probably with some folks not super keen on sucking up Gloranthan background it drags.

But I think the inconsistency of the group right now is an issue also. Looking back, my best games have featured a consistent core group who were all in the same groove (even if, for example, in the case of my previous RQ success, the core was 2 players). With the current RQ group, I think just about every player has missed at least one session. We've also had some last minute cancellations (one guy went home early from work sick on game day, another guy has missed twice due to unexpected work).

Add a bit of disconnect on how hard core combat should be run, and it's probably not surprising it doesn't seem quite right.


At 12:32 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Anthony Shawy said...

Hi Frank,

It is Anthony Shawy from RPI days. I own a computer and video games company now. , Please give me a call at 516 658 5725 or send me some email at . Would be nice to talk to you again after all these years.

At 9:32 AM, January 07, 2010, Blogger scottd said...

Personally I found the whole RQ system to be more intuitive and easier thereby to teach new players than more abstract systems. The "tasking" is easy to resolve and everyone can size up their chances of success right away. Having run the 2nd and 3rd ed. through the 80's and 90's - then moving to Call of Cthulhu (which uses the same system) the only difficulty I came up against was that some players didn't know what to do with characters that were not limited or defined by class and alignment. Too open-ended for those who were not into the role-playing element in the game.

It improved with play - you can force a lot to happen by example of NPC's and quests. As for combat not being fun - remind the players that just standing there and swinging swords back and forth is going to mean you go through a lot of characters. Enforce the breakage rules, make sure they know they can dodge if they don't want to parry, the importance of a shield and how you can bash with it...depending on size and skill different weapons work different ways (slash/impale/crush) and missile weapons in RQ are deadlier than in most other games if only because you can't parry them, just try to dodge.

It's a more realistic combat system, but players get used to it. And the ones who don't should look over their character sheets and skills and see what they can contribute when the horde of Broo comes over the hill.


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