Monday, April 17, 2006

Insight on RuneQuest - Conflict Webs

A little insight I just had on RuneQuest:

The cults in RQ provide an instant campaign level conflict web. Now, unlike Chris's suggestion on how to create a conflict web to drive play in the linked blog entry, the RQ cult conflict web is something that constantly sits in the background. But by introducing NPCs that follow a cult, the GM is instantly placing that NPC into a conflict web that has a well defined (and interesting for driving play) structure. Of course NPCs can be introduced that don't fit in exactly, but that's just temporarily bending the conflict web, which as long as it isn't bent too far, will still be interesting.

One interesting ingsight here, in Chris's writeup of conflict webs, he doesn't talk about placing PCs into the web, and in fact, it makes sense not to. So what does this mean relative to a PC following one of the cults? Has the PC been placed into the web? No. But there are implicit NPCs (temple authorities, even the actual god) who fill the position in the web. And the players dynamically create new strands that tie their character into the web in play.

And the players dynamically creating strands to tie their character into the web, and in doing so, disturbing the existing strands, is how the conflict web drives play.

One random thought: Is the existence of this campaign level, relatively static, conflict web (that locally and temporarily gets changed in play) something that indicates simulationist play as opposed to narativist play? Certainly it seems that the players discovering, and re-inforcing, and demonstrating, this campaign level conflict web is one way to celebrate the dream.

Looking back on my most successfull RuneQuest campaign, there is no doubt that this conflict web drove play. One of the central PCs was a Lhankor Mhy sage, who was always looking for stuff in tombs. There was almost always a Humakti PC in the group (and I think the other central player played a Humakti for much of the campaign). This of course created lots of tension because the Humakti don't exactly like disturbing graves though they care less about non-Humakti graves. On the other hand, often the tombs were occupied by ghosts or undead, creatures that Humakti consider abominations.

All the significant non-humans in Glorantha are tied into the conflict web, usually through their deity. Trolls aren't exactly buddy buddy with humans, on the other hand, Argan Argar trolls do recognize that trade with humans is valuable. A Zorak Zorani troll can find common cause with a Storm Bull, or anyone else who is willing to dispatch creatures of chaos.