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).