Category Archives: WOD: Glorantha

WOD: Glorantha – Three New Backgrounds

A little game play, the joys of a Balazaring campaign and writing up new npc’s in the system have lead me to create three new backgrounds for the game.

Dogs

The character owns or has responsibility for a pack of dogs, they see him as pack alpha and will obey simple commands on a difficulty of 4 on a charisma or manipulation plus leadership or survival role. The pack of dogs will require some maintenance and care. This will be in terms of either time or resources. This is a common background to Balazar but can be found elsewhere in Glorantha.

  • o    1 dog
  • oo    3 dogs
  • ooo    6 dogs
  • oooo    10 dogs
  • ooooo    15 dogs

Dogs will require some maintenance and care. War dogs will count as two dogs in terms of numbers from the pack.

Mount

The character owns a mount and has a good relationship with it. It sees the character as its owner, it chooses to associate with them and will return to them if given a choice. Good quality mounts will be one dot higher, poor quality mounts can be one dot lower.

Mounts can only bought which are culturally and racially appropriate. Storytellers may wish to allow mounts which cross cultural and racial norms but should incur a greater cost for them

  • o    Mule/Donkey
  • oo    Riding Horse/Sable/Pony/Zebra/Impala/Ostrich
  • ooo    Cavalry House/Bison/ High Lhama/Demi Bird
  • oooo    War Horse/Rhino/Unicorn
  • ooooo    Wyvern/Griffin/ Giant Hawk

Many other mounts are possible scale accordingly. Flying beasts are only available at storytellers discretion.

Ransom

The character has a ransom that either was been stored up front or can be gathered by family, clan, company or cult. If wishing to surrender the background will be rolled with the social trait they can justify against a difficulty dependent on the situation.

For a standard professional combat the difficulties will be 6, this will increase due to the ferocity of the foe, and racial or cultural tensions and  any personal grievances. It may be lowered by any money motivations the foe may have, there honour and cultural factors.

One success is enough for the ransom to be accepted, however any successes less than the full required, ‘burn’ the ransom points permanently.  This reflects resources lost and good will and influence lost with the ransoming community.

Ransoms are not always paid in cash, but will have a value similar to the amounts below. The amounts below do not effect game play but give an indication of approximate values.

  • o 30 L
  • oo 150 L
  • ooo 500 L
  • oooo 2000 L
  • ooooo 5000 L

WOD:Glorantha – Divine Intervention Rules

Divine intervention calling on your Characters deity for it to intervene in a miraculous, powerful and obvious way for the benefit of the worshipper.  All characters with a pact with a deity can call on their God for intervention .

A successful divine intervention usually removes the character from immediate harm.

Divine intervention always risks a permanent loss of magical ability so is therefore usually used as a method of last resort in usually situations.

Limits on Divine Intervention

A deity is limited in how it can intervene on the behalf of the worshipper by two factors, its nature and its sphere of influence.

A deity will not act outside its nature therefore is limited to acting within a broad interpretation of its runic abilities, interest and agendas. Chalana Arroy will not give the ability to kill, Stormbull will not bless chaos or Zorak Zoran would not be able to fish a character of the deep blue sea.

It is also limited to acting upon its worshippers only, so therefore divine intervention is primarily used for positive benefit for the petitioner, their allies and  possessions. But not as a combat manoeuvre or attack against a  third party.

Types of Divine Intervention

There are two common types of divine intervention a specific request which asks a deity to perform a specific action on behalf of the character, or a generic request where the character merely asks for aid in a difficult ( or deadly ) situation.

The mechanics for both are similar but have some variation.

Generic Requests

When a character merely asks for the divine intervention from there God, the players chooses how many of their rune points they are going to risk, difficulties is set at 6 and modified as stated later. The players rolls a dice pool of the rune points risked.

Success is gradually one success is a marginal success which should be enough to save the character, five is an overwhelming success which should be spectacular.

The exact way which the deity chooses to aid the character is at the discretion of the storyteller but will reflect the nature of the deity, however note most Gods are not capricious and seek to genuinely bless their worshippers ( but if you just called on trickster, all bets are off)

Also for is every dice rolled which is a failure the character looses one permanent runepoint and the associated rune at the players discretion.

Example

Johanus the Orlanth has been dropped from 500 foot by a Griffin, he has 3 runepoints, but no access to the rune spells need to save him. He chooses to rolls all 3 runepoint he has. Calling to Orlanth for aid he rolls a 7, a 3 and 4.

The storyteller determines Orlanth sent a sylph to cushion is blow, and he lands battered, bruised and dazed, but very much alive. He also permanently looses the two failed runepoints and the associated runes.

Specific Requests

If players are seeking a particular effect from the God, the storyteller has to determine two things;

First is the difficulty, this is determined by how applicable the runes and power of the God is to the action the petitioner requests. Standard difficulty is 6 for things which are within the Gods area of power, the further away they are the higher the difficulty up to 10 for acts completely unconnected to the Gods power.

The second is a number of success required which reflects the scale and magnitude of the task, this will usually be number between 1 and 5.  The difficulty is then modified by the factors suggested below. The players is not told the number of successes required.

The player then chooses the number of rune points he wishes to risk and makes the roll.  If they makes the requires successes he deity is willing and able to respond as they have requested. If they make some roles a partial success is possible dependant of the petition made.

Also for is every dice rolled which is a failure the character looses one permanent runepoint and the associated rune at the players discretion.

Example

Shanara the Chalana Arroy priest calls on her deity to make her give off an aura of peace for the next 15 minutes which means the surrounding broos cannot attack her.

The Storyteller sees this as a with the direct affects of the harmony rune and sets the difficulties at 6, as Shanara is a Priestess in good standing and on a cult sponsored mission to heal diseased villages he lower difficulties to 4.

As it is a significant and powerful effect he decides 3 success are needed for the effect to take place.

Shanara chooses to risk 6 rune points rolling 2,7,5,6,3, and 9.

The effect happens as requested but the failures mean 2 rune points which and associated runes are permanently lost.

Modifiers

The following factors will affect the difficulties of divine intervention rolls, each will change the difficulty by 1 but extremes can change it by up to 2.

  • Location – If a divine intervention is in an area of influence, holy site, temple the effects should be beneficial. If the petitioner is distant from areas of influence or is in enemy sacred sites difficulties will be higher.
  • Time – Holy days, high holy days and sacred time all have a beneficial effects. Lunar cycles have an effect outside the glowline, current events which diminish a deities power will make difficulties harder.
  • Standing – The petitioners standing with the Deity (not cult) will affect difficulties, favoured followers finding things easier, characters in poor standing will have their difficulties raised.
  • Agenda – If characters are performing tasks for the God or that allied with agenda difficulties will drop, if they are acting contrary to the interests of the deity they will be greater
  • Ritual – Formalised religious rites can make a planned divine intervention easier and reduce difficulties.
  • Sacrifice – Significant and appropriate sacrifices can make a planned divine intervention easier and reduce difficulties.

Modifiers are never able to make a divine intervention difficulties less than 1 or greater than 10.

Willpower

As divine intervention is the action of the Gods not the individual willpower cannot be used for an automatic success.

Botches

Botched rolls in a divine intervention will either bring a divine retribution from the petitioned God or divine opposition from an enemy God, whichever the storyteller thinks is most appropriate.

Ritual Divine Magic

It doesn’t take a leap to see how with the proper use of rituals, sacrifice, holy days and holy sites can make divine intervention a relatively low risk, powerful, freeform type of divine magic. This is the mechanic the game uses to cope with ritual and structured divine magic outside the realm of rune spells.

It is possible for communities to cooperate in divine intervention through the use of Rituals performed via a high priest, the mechanic sees rune points risked individually but pooled together to form the pool of successes required.

Examples

The village of Snaggleford seeks to petition Ernalda to bless the land of the village this year, this has a standard difficulty of 6 as it is what Ernalda does, the ritual takes place at the temple of High Holy day reducing the difficulty down to 3.

The high priestess and the acolyte of Banatar successfully enact the Rite of the Plowman and further  reduce the difficulty down to 2.

Some 58 of the initiates of Ernalda risk one runepoint in the ritual, 50 make the role, but the 8 that don’t looses that point in rune magic. The 50 successes ensure the ground is blessed for  the year village witta grows in power and both the people and animals of the village  are fertile.

WOD: Glorantha Rune Magic

Rune magic is a form of magic where through worship of Gods and a knowledge of the runes associated with those Gods that worshippers gain access to magical powers and effects which directly reflect aspects of the Deity’s power which they used in Godtime. They are commonly known as Rune spells or Divine spells.

Rune spells are more powerful than common magic spells as they channel the runic powers of the Gods themselves, but they are very inflexible as they reflect actions and feats that Gods performed with Godtime and cannot deviate from such without a heroquest.

Pact

Any character who is involved in serious worship and the following of a particular God, will develop a pact with him which usually (almost always in Orlanthi Society ) the same as initiation.  This pact both ties the worshipper to the God and the God to worshipper. The worshipper commits to giving  worship and serving the Gods earthly leadership and/or purposes, The God commits to giving the worshiper access to his magic.

This pact is always carried out on the hero plane and usually in the presence of the Cults Priests and Leaders  who both oversee and ensure the process is safe for usually young worshippers. However its possible for individuals to form pacts with Gods directly on the hero plane without Cult involvement. This is considered both dangerous and can cause ongoing issues with the cult hierarchy.

Rune Points

A pact allows a character to use his runic associations to  generate a level of access to a Gods Runic Powers, In game terms this done by adding the total values of the runes that the God and the adventurer share.

For example;  Bob the Humakti has the runes Air 3, Death 5, Truth 2, Movement 3, because Humakt has the Runes of Death and Truths. Bobs rune points  (or pact score )for Humakt would be 7.

If a character has pacts with more than one God with the same runes he must choose which rune point pool the runes are added to and cannot add them to both.

Runespells

When a  character gains certain levels in his runes he gain access to the rune spells associated with that level of runic affinity. Runespells become available to different cults at different times, but generally the pattern will be like this.

  • oooo – One or two common cult specific spells
  • ooooo – Most general , common and variable rune spells
  • oooooo – Cult leadership spells, three point spells
  • ooooooo – Major effects such as sunspear, sever spirit and resurrection

Casting Rune Magic

Rune Magic is cast by spending at least one rune point to cast any of the rune spells which are available to your character from that God.

The player then rolls the  number of dice of the relevant rune rating and the number of rune points he is willing to spend on the spell  with target difficulties of 6 for each success.

The number of success reflects the  success of the spell. Most spells effects will scale with number of success rolled.

Compared to battle magic Rune spells tend to be 2 times as powerful as Battle magic spells, this may affect potency, range of effects, number of targets, duration.

Example: Thus each success in shield adds a boost to both counter magic and defence, and is not eliminated when overcome.

For resisted rolls the defender chooses a rune to use to defend against the attack, and the storyteller decides a difficulty level for the defence based on the choice of rune, and its appropriateness to the situation.  Spirit or non magical defence again rune magic are at difficulty 8.

Regaining Rune Points

Runepoints are regained through worship here the participant interacts or travels to the hero plane, for priests and ranking officials this may be every holy day, for initiates this tends to be on high holy days or in the sacred time baring special events.

Also positive actions interacting with your God or reflecting your Gods nature in the hero plane, will also help a character regain rune points.

Roll a characters pact score with a target role of 6, every success is a regained rune point.

This assumes a character is at least a minor temple and part of priest led congregational worship.  If a character is at larger temple or holy site difficulties may drop. if a character is at a shrine or on their own difficulties may rise.

Sacrifices and other offerings may also reduced the difficulty levels.

Common Rune Magic

The following spells are common to most cults are accessed via the following runes, some these spells may also be accessed by cult specific runes by individual cults.

Most high priests take time to develop their mastery rune, also most cults have temples where there are diviners who focus on the truth rune, artificers who focus on the magic runes and summoners who focus on cult spirits.

Priest who fail to focus on at least one other these three magic disciplines and focus solely on the runes of their God  tend to poorly placed to care for the needs of their temple or flock. They are more focused up on emulating The Gods than representing the God to their flock ,they are sometimes called Runelords.

Common

Magic

  • oooo    Dismiss Magic, Extension, Warding, Multispell, Spirit Magic Matrix Enchantment
  • ooooo Armoring Enchantment,  Armoring Enchantment, Heal Wound ,  Spirit Armor Enchantment, Strengthening Enchantment , Worship Deity
  • oooooo Rune Spell Matrix Enchantment

Mastery

  • oooo Sanctity, Warding, Heal Wound , Worship Deity,
  • ooooo Command Cult Spirit,
  • oooooo Excommunicate

Spirit

  • oooo Command Cult Spirit,  Summon Cult Spirit, Spirit Block
  • ooooo Discorporation , Soul Sight, Heal Wound,  Worship Deity,
  • oooooo Mind Link
  • ooooooo Excommunicate

Truth

  • oooo Divination, Find Enemy
  • ooooo Soul Sight, Mind Link

Most cults will offer specific rune spells which are dependent upon the cult specific rules. Quick write ups to come but for example the seven mother base spell availability will be;

Seven Mothers

Moon

  • oooo       Reflection, Summon Lune
  • ooooo    Mindblast, Madness
  • oooooo Chaos Gift

Death

  • oooo    True sword
  • ooooo  Shield

Fertility

  • ooooo  Heal Wound

Further spells will be available from subcults.

WOD:Glorantha Character Connections

Connections are the relationship your character has with the other players characters in the game, they are designed to make the in game cohesion of the gaming group believable, and party dynamics less destructive.

They are considered generally positive relationships which bind the group together, that doesn’t mean they should not be disagreement and conflict within the group. But that there are relationships that contain the conflict and allow them to normalise afterwards after issues have been resolved.

Mechanics

When creating the character concepts, choose to create relationships with the other characters in the group where it would be sensible,

For each connection you choose you gain the following freebie points, up to a limit of 5, these are added to your freebie points total to be spent later in the process.   You can choose as many relationships as you want but there is a limit of 5 freebie points to be gained.

All relationships need to agreed by both parties;

  • 3pts – Close Family – siblings, father, mother, child, wife
  • 2pts – Extended Family – Uncles, Cousins, aunts, in-laws
  • 2pts – Lovers
  • 2pts – Friends since Childhood
  • 2pts – Brothers in arms
  • 1pts – Business Partners
  • 1pts – Friends
  • 1pts – Former Lovers
  • 1pts – Coworkers
  • 1pts – Rivals

WOD:Glorantha Significant Family Events

Significant Family Events  aim to do  a number of things,

  • It helps define a character
  • It ties a character to the game world giving a sense of being part of something larger
  • It allows players to come up with significant personal plot seeds for the storyteller to use at later points
  • Allows players to write a significant part for recent clan/village/town history

The events are not a full family history but players deciding the events which are significant to their character and who he is today.

As a players considers there concept, nature and demeanour, decide on three to five events regarding your family ( or character) history which are important to your characters story.

They usually relate to close family members ( grandparents, parents, siblings ) but can relate to more distant relatives if a players decides that is what would be significantly important to his character

The definition of each event  contains three elements;

  • the family member involved
  • the nature of the event
  • the outcome of that event

Examples

  • My father fought at Boldhome in 1602 and was eaten by the crimson bat.
  • My uncle fought for the Lunars at Moonbroth and was well rewarded.
  • My Grandfather was at Elkoi when the Lunars attacked and was driven mad
  • My mother was eaten by a dark troll in a raid when I was 9
  • My grandmother was a early Lunar missionary to our clan

At this point these have events have no effect on  game in terms of stats or the creation mechanic.

However the player then creates their character stats, flaws, merits, backgrounds and runes with these events in mind.

And the end of the character creation process the storyteller reviews them and can award up to 7 extra freebie points, if they think the historic events are well represented in the character creation.

eg.Tying  “My Grandfather was Elkoi when the Lunars attacked and was driven mad” to the character  would be taking the flaws and merits  ‘Hatred Lunars’, ‘Vengence Lunars’ or ‘Phobia Lunes’.

“My uncle fought for the Lunars at Moonbroth and was well rewarded.” could be introduced by the taking of artefact or wealth backgrounds., or even by a mentor background

These freebie points are then spent on extra traits.

Listed below are the potential events and some possible outcomes for a Balazaring character.

Historical Balazar Events

As Balazar lacks significant historical events as other parts of Balazar the lists is quite slim, however it is suggested that each player takes at least one significant event from historical events;

Rebuilding of Dykene, 1550 – spoke against it, spoke for it, helped to rebuild, owned a house, befriended the dwarves, sabotaged the building, performed in the celebrations

Elkoi Clans Raiding Of Lunar Lands, 1550 to 1562 – raided often, successful raider, captured slaves, became rich, died,

Fall of Elkoi, 1564  died, driven mad, captured, executed, fought with Lunars, fled, hid, maimed,

Lunar Occupation of Elkoi, 1562 to Present – Supported, learned from, took their Gods, resented, resisted, was killed by, raided, stole from them, married a lunar

Fought for Lunars in the Battle of Grizzly Peak,1582 – unused warrior, fought well, hero, died, maimed, injured, ran, gained great wealth, found magical treasure

Fought for Lunars in the Fall of Boldhome, 1602 – unused warrior, fought well, hero, died, maimed, injured, ran, fought with Jareel, gained great wealth, found magical treasure, became famous

Part of Redlands Rebellion, 1614 – was crucified, fled, gained loot, imprisoned, sold into slavery, raided both sides, got rich, killed a hero, met Jareel, met Beat Pot , never came home

Last days of Gadaringer Dynasty 1610 -1613 supported the family, was victimised, was imprisoned by, killed by, employed by,  defended the family

Rebellion in Trilus 1614 – Was a friend with Yalaring, died, fought for Yalaring, fled the fighting, maimed, fought for Gadaringer dynasty, switched sides, stole something valuable in the fights

Generic Balazaring Events

These events can be dropped into any year or some happen over a number of years;

Troll Raid   – eaten, killed, captured, fled, escaped, fought, fought bravely, saved the day, saved a friend, sought revenge, sounded the warning, lost a child

Prophesied over by Blueface – prospered,  cursed, confused, vanished, lead, died, found significant destiny, had many children, great Hunter, mother of destiny, blessed by the ancestors, chosen by the totem

Prophesied over by Other Shaman – prospered,  cursed, confused, vanished, lead, died, significant, destiny, many children, great Hunter, mother of destiny, blessed by the ancestors, chosen by the totem

Travelled to Foreign Places – never came back, returned rich, returned broken, returned with many tales, never spoke about it, returned with knowledge, returned with new magic, returned with bad magic

Came from Foreign Lands – and settled, and died, and went back again, and brought his God, and brought strange magic, and trouble followed.

Giant Raid – Was squashed, lead the giant away, fought the giant, was killed by the giant, ran away, warned us, found a place to hide, saved the children.

The Clan Argued – Split the clan, spoke peace, killed the troublemakers, told lies, killed the enemy, sought wise council

Visited by foreigners -drove them off, helped them, they helped us, traded, someone got pregnant, killed by them, stole their magic, defeated them in a test, was beaten by them in a test, married them

Great Hunt – Won, Caught nothing, was slain, cheated, was murdered on, refused to hunt,  caught a great animal and lost, was cheated, was laughing stock

Became Citadel Warrior – became famous, flew a hawks, fell off a hawk, died, was disgraced, slew a monster, slew a traitor, turned on his own clan, saved the king, rescued someone, saved a clan, traveled deep into the Elder wilds

Went Deep into the Elder Wilds – never came back, visited giant land, stole from the trolls, would not tell what they saw, brought back magic, fought chaos, rescued a friend or lover, was slain, was maimed, eaten by trolls, turned to chaos, visited elf woods, hunted thunder lizards, saw a great magical sight, knows where treasure is burred, found old ruins.

Outlawed by Clan – falsely, for murder, for rape, for offending the spirits, for cowardice, for act of heroism misunderstood, for worshipping banned gods, for bad magic, for loving an enemy, for a mistake that got someone killed, because a shaman said so, for offending a leader, for challenging the Elders.

Became a Shaman – looked after the clan, left the clan, became insane, upset the totem, found new magics, pleased the spirits, found bad magics, was possessed by foul spirits, taught a hero, murdered the innocent

Ravaged by Disease – saved the clan, died, was maimed, almost died, had a vision, healed someone significant, found s a cure, found the cause, fought off the disease spirit, was the only survivor, was orphaned.

WOD:Glorantha – Awarding and Spending Experience

Experienced gained is completely at the discretion of the storyteller but we suggest the following

  • Standard of 3-4 experience for each session
  • and then end of each story add an extra 3-4 experience

Extra Experience for:

You can award extra experience for;

  • Great Roleplaying
  • Making everyone laugh especially in character
  • Creative and interesting solutions to problems
  • Anything that makes an evening’s gaming extra fun (including bringing food)

Generally we don’t suggest reducing xp for problem players or poor roleplaying it is unkind and it also usually exacerbates issues.

Standard Costs:

Experience can then be spent raising characteristics as follows, usually this needs to be justified by experience, training opportunities or downtime research. All attributes and abilities can be raised to the normal racial maximum (5 for humans) or the characters essence whichever is higher. Only one point can be bought in any characteristic at one time.

  • Attribute: New rating x5
  • Ability: New rating x2
  • Willpower: New rating
  • Quintessence: New rating
  • Virtue: New rating x2
  • Battle Magic: New rating x3

Runes & Essence

Experience can be spent to increase essence but only when a character has some kind of spiritual epiphany. This could be cult initiation, an experience on hero plane, deep loss, tragedy or failure, time with a spiritual mentor. Always talk this through with the storyteller before spending the experience.

  • Essence: New rating x5
  • Cult Rune: New rating x5
  • Non Cult Rune: New rating x7

Runes can be only increased to a level as high as a characters level of essence.

When purchasing a rune with xp a character may gain or spend additional xp from taking appropriate flaws and merits but only those closely  associated with that rune.

These should be checked with the storyteller before purchase. Xp cost or boost is the same as with freebie points as noted on the flaw. Players are encouraged to come up with ideas with new flaws and merits that would reflect the nature of the characters cult or association with the rune.

Backgrounds

Occasionally in game an opportunity comes to turn a gaming opportunity into a background. At that point the storyteller may ask the relevant player if they want to spend the experience to make that a permanent change to the character. In some game situations the player automatically gains the background without spending the experience at the storytellers discretion.

  • Background: New rating x2

Gifting Abilities

A storyteller may want to gift all the players in a party experience in a low level of a certain ability based on a communal experience. This is done to ensure characters have basic skills which would reflect their experiences in game play.

This would bring all members of the group who shared up to the experience up a minimum skills level of one or two dots based upon the experience. It has no benefit for characters who already have a high level ion that skill.

So for a party who have been in the wilderness for a season, all characters without it may be given up to one dot in survival, or characters who have been riding for 4 weeks will get a dot in riding etc.

We would suggest this infrequent and communal when this is done.

WOD:Glorantha – Observations and Play testing Feedback

Ok I published quite a few posts defining an alternative system which I put together for a gaming group which was running my Griffin Mountain Campaign for we are now 6 session in and I thought id feedback on  how it’s worked in real life.

It’s a gloranthan version of the classic World of Darkness storyteller system. It was aimed at a group of players who most  of knew the storyteller system well.

It had the following aims;

  1. Be a recognisable and accessible system for the players
  2. Be a halfway house between Heroquests freeform and Runequests crunchy systems
  3. Reflect Glorantha values in the way the system operates as regards magic, combat and religion
  4. Enable a game focused heavily on character, plot, investigation and social interaction
  5. Combat doesn’t get bogged down in dice too many roles( main problem with storyteller system)
  6. Be a quick and easy conversion for me.

My thoughts on how this has worked so far.

Be a recognisable and accessible system for the players

This has worked and the players have spent time learning the setting and getting into the characters not trying to work a new gaming system out.  The system is close enough to classic storyteller for people not to notice any fundamental changes.

Be a halfway house between Heroquests, Freeform and Runequests crunchy systems

Again this has worked well, I find the characters well defined by the rules, some tactical nuances developing and skill roles very quick, flexible and efficient.

It is also given me the definition where i wanted it which a greater range of social and mental stats and skills.

Reflect Glorantha values in the way the system operates as regards magic, combat and religion

Took some time to get this into the campaign but it now feel Gloranthan as cult ties, runes and spirit magic are being used routinely by players.

The runes and spirit magic combination really works well and feels more Glorantha than RQ2 to me now.

Rune magic is to come but that will develop as the characters mature, and as I write up the system. However I plan to develop on from a couple of concept I really like from the RQ4 playtests, but I think it would be really off to write those up before RQ4 comes out.

Enable a game focused heavily on character, plot, investigation and social interaction

This was the main reason I went with a storyteller based system, as I found RQ’s structure didn’t lend itself to socially based games. Heroquest does but it’s just to freeform for me. Anyway this has worked like a treat we have social characters and skills, backgrounds and ties to communities.

It’s not heavy handed and players choices are not controlled by refs decided die rolls (pet hate of mine, – “it’s my character, you control every other fucker in the game world, I don’t care what you think I should do, this is my only vehicle for my contribution to the story, hands off it !!!!”  )

Relationships are roleplayed out and are not abstracted to a number which again is a big hit for me, but the characters have the stats, skills and positions to define and understand how people relate to them socially.

Combat doesn’t get bogged down in dice too many roles

Six session and two combats so this is not a combat heavy game, the first combat which was a one on one duel worked really really well.

Quick effective and deadly. Two minutes combat took 10 mins dice rolling first time round, and it had cut and thrust, riposte and counters the  feel of a good fight.

We created rules for two weapon fighting which have been a good compromise between what players and ref wanted (no extra multi attacks, more tactical flexibility).

The second was a larger scale affair of three shades attacking a campsite, this was slower, harder to run and difficult. The whole thing took about 30 mins and I found it stressful. The players didn’t seem to notice my stress and didn’t complain at all.

The combat needs more play testing and more practice and some tweaking I think.

However the  conclusion i’ve come to is this is not a system for a combat heavy game, if this your style of game this is not the system to use for it.

Be a quick and easy conversion for me.

This is where its fallen down, I compiled all of the house rules and mods i’ve written and compile just for the campaign system and come into one file and got 15,000 words. It’s been a much bigger job than I envisaged and the rune magic and cult write up is going to be heavy work too.

However so much has been done and its broadly working, so it’s pretty much becoming my vehicle of choice for running my style of Gloranthan games from now on.

WOD: Glorantha – Combat System

First draft of the WOD:Glorantha combat system, it based on the WOD firearm combat system, and it aims to hit the following goals.

  • I want it to reflect classic warfare of antiquity where that suits game play
  • I don’t want it to be laborious
  • I want to encourage tactical thinking
  • I want it to encourage player co operation
  • I want magic to be a game changer
  • I don’t want player knowledge of a rule system to be the deciding factor
  • I don’t want spend the evening in books looking up rules
  • I want skills and character to be a greater influence than weapons and armour
  • I don’t want to slaughter players out of hand on unlucky dice rolls
  • I want to have an element or risk and scare players
  • I want it to be fun

Ok here is the base system  which will need abit of playtesting

Basic Rules Mechanic

For most skill roles a player will choose the appropriate stat and skill and total the number to generate the dice pool used in the test.

For example Bob has a Dex of 3 and a athletics of 7 his dice pool climbing a wall would 7 dice.

The standard difficulty for any test would be 6, so Bob would roll 7 d10 dice and will count the number which roll over 6 as a success. Bob rolls  3,4,5,7,7,9,6 which gives for 4 successes.

More difficult tasks would see the difficulty numbers increase, easier tasks would see the difficulty numbers drop. Using skills not exactly attuned to the task would usually give a higher difficulty level.

One success shows a positive results by the slightest of margins, three is solid success and five is outstanding success.

Base Combat Mechanic

Combat work on a systematic application of basic rules mechanism in a structured number of tests  for each combat round.

A combat round is a variable period of time determined by the storyteller to allow for an viable action and response then a viable counter action and response(if appropriate). This will be very short in the first few seconds of an ambush, will be quick in close brawling, and full on melee, a good few seconds in a duel, and maybe a minute or so in the push and shove of a shield wall.

The determination is this

  1. Determine Initiative
  • roll
  • order
  • declaration of actions
  1. Make actions
  • attack
  • response
  • damage
  1. Resolution

Determine Initiative

All involved characters roll initiative by selecting a dice pool of wits + alertness; Difficulty is usually 6, but storyteller may alter that to reflect a tactical advantage or disadvantage such as higher ground, defensive positions, flank attack or ambush.

Create a list of characters to make actions in reverse order. Characters who wish to split their dice pool(see later) for either their action or counter action need to decide to do so at this point.

Unless characters split dice pools all characters receive one action and one counter action in any combat round.

Movement in combat  is dependent on the type of combat and at the storytellers discretion.

Proceed down the list where players must declare their action but may keep their counter action in hand to parry an attack yet to be declared.

If an attack is declared on a player, the player must decide there and then whether to counter it with their counter action. If close enough a players can counter an attack on an ally, but at a higher difficulty (7’s). Once a counter action has been declared it can’t be changed.

Characters with high initiative may be able to gain free hits on characters who have already declared counter actions.

Then role through the actions and responses based upon the list in order of highest initiative role to lowest

2) Make actions

Dice pools for initial action depend on the intended actions

  • Brawl: Strength + Brawl + Buffs
  • Melee: Strength + Melee + Buffs
  • Missile: Dexterity + Archery + Buffs

Base difficulties will usually be 6, but skills and magical effects may change the difficulty.

The response is usually made by one the following three actions, if there is no response for an action to response role can be made.

  • Brawl: Strength + Brawl + Buffs
  • Parry: Strength + Melee + Buffs
  • Dodge: Dexterity + Dodge + Buffs

Base difficulties will usually be 6, but skills and magical effects may change the difficulty.

A hit will be scored if the  attackers total number of successes is greater than the defenders, keep a note of the difference as this will be used with the damage

To calculate damage the attacker roles his damage dice pool calculated below, the defender roles her soak. If the damage is over the soak role, that is the number of  health levels of damage done.

  • damage Strength + Weapon + number of hit successes + buffs
  • soak Stamina + Armour + shield +buffs

Any blow which does 5 or more health levels of damage is considered aggravated damage.

If a character is not active and standing by the time there action comes round it does not happen, all wound penalties from the round apply to your action.

Weapons Damage Modifier

  • o Knife, Club
  • oo Gladius, hatchet, kopis, short spear
  • ooo Scimitar, Sword, Mace, Long Spear
  • oooo Pike, bastard sword, battle axe  -1 to dex based roles
  • ooooo Great sword, great axe, pole axe, Great Maul   -2 on dex based rolls

Armour Soak Modifier

  • o Leather, Linen padding, Light Furs
  • oo Heavy Leather, Studded leather, Heavy furs
  • ooo Light scale, Cuibolli, Patchwork, Ring Mail
  • oooo Heavy Scale, Chainmail, Partial Plate -1 to dex based roles
  • ooooo Hoplite Plate, Reinforced Chain, Heavy Splint Mail -2 on dex based rolls

Shields Soak Modifier

  • o Buckler, Moon shield
  • oo Heater, Target shields -1 to dex based roles
  • ooo Hoplite, Tower shields -2 on dex based rolls

Resolution

After all attacks have been made make sure all incapacitated characters check for death.

And have both sides check for moral or a difficulty relevant to tactical position they are in, the dice rolled is either the group’s leaders willpower.

Additional Rules

Split Dice Pool

Characters with a skill level or 4 or more can split there dice pool into two different attacks  or parrys if they wish, characters with a skill level of 8 or more can split the dice pool into 3 different attacks or parrys if they wish.

Only the skill and the stats are split buffs are added to each separate attack.

Aggravated Damage

Wounds caused by fire, acid, some magic and major trauma ( 5 wound levels or more ) are considered aggravated and are much harder to heal.

WOD:Glorantha – Balazaring Character Archetypes

Seeing as I have got the character definition a system just about started I thought id start to stat a few things up with as a test, below are the archetypes for the Balazar region.

These are quick stats for generic people you may meet and a nice place to start from if you are building more fully rounded NPC’s. I will fill out a few more types later in other posts but here some balazaring archetypes top start with.

From this point on all NPC’s and encounters will defined by WOD:Glorantha and maybe links to RQ6 encounter generator and any subsequent incarnations.

Archetype –  Balazaring Hunter, Foundchild initiate

Nature:                  Varied
Demeanour:        Predator/Traditionalist/Wanderer/Survivor
Physical:               Strength  2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3
Mental :                 Intelligence 2, Wits 2, Perception 3
Social:                     Manipulation 2, Appearance 2, Charisma 2
Talents:                  Alertness 3, Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Dodge 2,
Skills:                      Archery 3, Crafts 2 , Melee 2, Stealth 2, Survival 3
Knowledge’s:      Culture 2, Medicine 3, Myth 1, Spirit Lore 1
Essence:                 2
Quintessence:     7
Willpower:            3
Runes:                    Fire 1, Death 2, Harmony 2,
Spirit Magic:        Beast Call 2, Disruption 2, Mobility 2,Speedart
Higher Magic:     None
Virtues:                  Vigor 3, Trust 3, Generosity 3
Backgrounds:     Cult Status 1, Destiny, Family 2, Past Lives 2 Witta 2
Flaws & Merits:  None
Gear:                       2H Spear 3pt, Hand Axe 2pt, 1 pt furs

Archetype –  Balazaring Raider, Foundchild initiate

Nature:                 Varied
Demeanour:       Predator/Traditionalist/Wanderer/Survivor
Physical:               Strength  3, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3
Mental :                 Intelligence 2, Wits 2, Perception 3
Social:                    Manipulation 2, Appearance 2, Charisma 2
Talents:                 Alertness 3, Athletics 2, Brawl 3, Dodge 3,
Skills:                     Archery 3, Crafts 2 , Melee 3, Stealth 2, Survival 3
Knowledge’s:     Culture 2, Medicine 2, Myth 2, Spirit Lore 1
Essence:                2
Quintessence:    7
Willpower:            4
Runes:                    Air 1, Death 2, Harmony2,
Spirit Magic:        Beast Call 2, Disruption 2, Mobility 2,Speedart, Bladesharp 2
Higher Magic:     None
Virtues:                  Vigor 4, Trust 3, Generosity 3
Backgrounds:     Cult Status 1, Destiny, Family 2, Past Lives 2 Witta 2
Flaws & Merits:  None
Gear:                       2H spear 3pt, Hand Axe 2pt, Heavy Furs or leathers 2pt

Archetype –  Balazaring Gatherer, Hearth Mother Initiate

Nature:
Demeanour:         Traditionalist/Wanderer/Follower/Survivor
 Physical:               Strength  2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 3
Mental :                  Intelligence 2, Wits 3, Perception 3
Social:                     Manipulation 2, Appearance 2, Charisma 2
Talents:                  Alertness 3, Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Dodge 2,
Skills:                      Archery 2, Crafts 3 , Melee 2, Stealth 2, Survival 3
Knowledge’s:      Culture 2, Medicine 3, Myth 3, Spirit Lore 2
Essence:                 2
Quintessence:     7
Willpower:            3
Runes:                    Fire 2, Life 2, Man
Spirit Magic:        Beast Call 2, Disruption 2, Mobility 2,Speedart, Bladesharp 2
Higher Magic:     None
Virtues:                  Resilient 3, Trust 3, Compassion 3
Backgrounds:     Cult Status 1, Destiny, Family 2, Past Lives 2 Witta 2
Flaws & Merits:   None
Gear:                      2pt spear, 2pt knife, 1 pt furs or leathers.

Archetype –  Balazaring Citadel Warrior, Yelamlio Initiate
Nature:                  Varied
Demeanour:        Bravo/Cavalier/Traditionalist/Preditor/Survivor
Physical:               Strength  3, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3
Mental :                 Intelligence 2, Wits 2, Perception 3
Social:                    Manipulation 2, Appearance 2, Charisma 2
Talents:                  Alertness 2, Athletics 2, Brawl 3, Dodge 3,
Skills:                      Archery 3, Crafts 2 , Melee 3, Stealth 2, Survival 2
Knowledge’s:      Culture 2, Medicine 2, Myth 2, Spirit Lore 1
Essence:                 2
Quintessence:     7
Willpower:            4
Runes:                    Fire 2, Death 2,  Truth 1,
Spirit Magic:        Protection 2, Disruption 2,Speedart,  Bladesharp 2
Rune Magic:         None
Virtues:                   Vigor 4, Trust 3, Generosity 3
Backgrounds:      Cult Status 2, Destiny, Past Lives 2, Status 1, Witta 2
Flaws & Merits:   Geas -Never trust a foreigner,
Gear:                        2h Long spear 3pt, Battle Axe 3pt, 3pt Light Scale, Medium shield 1pt

Archetype –  Balazaring Pig Farmer, Yelmalio lay member
Nature:
Demeanour:         Follower/Curmudgeon/Traditionalist
Physical:                Strength  2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2
Mental :                  Intelligence 2, Wits 2, Perception 2
Social:                     Manipulation 2, Appearance 2, Charisma 2
Talents:                  Alertness 2, Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Dodge 2,
Skills:                      Animal Care 3, Crafts 2 , Commerce 2, Melee 1
Knowledge’s:      Culture 2, Medicine 2, Myth 1, Divine Lore 1
Essence:                 1
Quintessence:     4
Willpower:            3
Runes:                    Fire 1, Truth 1, Life 1,
Spirit Magic:         Endurance,  Heal, Becalm
Rune Magic:          None
Virtues:                   Vigor 2, Trust 4, Generosity 4
Backgrounds:       Cult Status 1, Family 2,  Property 1, Status 2, Witta 2
Flaws & Merits:   None
War Gear:               Knife 1pt,  Club 1pt, leathers 1pt

Archetype –  Balazaring Crafter, Yelmalio lay member
Nature:                    Varied
Demeanour:          Architect/Follower/Perfectionist /Traditionalist
Physical:                 Strength  2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2
Mental :                    Intelligence 2, Wits 3, Perception 2
Social:                       Manipulation 2, Appearance 2, Charisma 2
Talents:                    Alertness 2, Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Dodge 2,
Skills:                        Crafts 4 , Commerce 2, Melee 1
Knowledge’s:        Culture 2, Medicine 2, Myth 1, Divine Lore 1
Essence:                  2
Quintessence:      7
Willpower:             3
Runes:                      Fire 2, Truth 2, Mastery
Spirit Magic:         Endurance,  Crafters boon, Glue, Repair
Rune Magic:          None
Virtues:                   Vigor 3, Trust 3, Generosity 3
Backgrounds:       Cult Status 1, Family 2, Influence 1, Status 2, Witta 2
Flaws & Merits:    None
War Gear:                1H Short Spear 2pt, knife 1pt leathers 1pt

WOD:Glorantha Combat System Aims and Objectives

The first question “What do we want out of a Gloranthan combat system?”.

Interesting question to which I have the following answers.

  • I want it to reflect classic warfare of antiquity where that suits game play
  • I don’t want it to be laborious
  • I want to encourage tactical thinking
  • I want it to encourage player co operation
  • I want magic to be a game changer
  • I don’t want player knowledge of a rule system to be the deciding factor
  • I don’t want spend the evening in books looking up rules
  • I want skills and character to be a greater influence than weapons and armour
  • I don’t want to slaughter players out of hand on unlucky dice rolls
  • I want to have an element or risk and scare players
  • I want it to be fun

Ok what does this mean, let’s look at these desires in detail and hopefully we won’t find to many contradictory.

“I want it to reflect classic warfare of antiquity where that suits game play.”

This means I want style of warfare that I can recognise from this period, and for it to play in out reasonably similar way to real world ancient combat.

The shieldwall , direct frontal assault from two sets of evenly matches and armoured characters should end up in stalemate, and attritional battle that usual ends when one side outflanks the other or breaks their wall, and only then the killing begins.

Skirmishing, I want lots of running round throwing stuff, but being wary to go hand to hand. I want light troops being scared to engage heavy troops directly, but being effective when they flank  engaged troops, I want greater numbers to make a difference. I want both sides able and willing to run off when out matched.

Cavalry, I want cavalry to be rare but devastating, formation breakers, kings of the open field, but limited against heavy infantry in formation.

I want it to be vicious, personal and dirty. No heroic knightly elegantly killing without blood or screams. But close personal  raw violence in which lives the victor and conquered changed by the event and where  they are wary of going back for more.

“I don’t want it to be laborious”

The rule system should be as simple as possible. A clear mechanic which can be weighted when necessary but doesn’t over burdened by new mechanics spells, abilities and effects.

Also I am thinking in the WOD: Glorantha system cutting out all multi attack spells and abilities, but allowing split actions due to skill.

“I want to encourage tactical thinking”

I don’t want a system where direct fighting, following the rule mechanic and having the stats brings the best and clearest resolution.

I want characters to seek asymmetrical warfare, ambush, outflanking, applying their strengths to their enemies weaknesses, understand how their characters fight and maximising advantage.

“I want it to encourage player co operation”

Role-playing is a communal activity, I want a combat system which rewards player  cooperation and penalises independent thinking. Players who fight independently will be less effective than players who fight as team. This reflects real world combat and I love the system to catch a sense of that.

So i’m wanting to allow players to parry for one another if close enough and gain advantages when double teaming targets

“I want magic to be game changer”

I want magic to be one of the things that breaks a deadlock, gives the killer advantage, breaks an opponent’s moral. I want Orlanthi flying over a shield wall to engage from behind to be significant, the fear of a shade to swing a battle for a few rounds,  the proper use of counter magic to create a great defensive position.

RQ doesn’t have mass effect combat spells such as fireball so the nature of combat doesn’t change drastically. I just to make sure magic can and should used to bring tactical advantage.

“I don’t want player knowledge of a rule system to be the deciding factor.”

I want a rule system that rewards character thought in the game world, but not player knowledge of how to game the system.  So a clear system that is flexible  an cuts out on additional rules,( goodbye combat manoeuvres).

” I don’t want spend the evening in books looking up rules”

So simplicity and the ability to make stuff up on the fly, based on a familiar mechanic.

“I want skills and character to be a greater influence than weapons and armour”

I want character and magic to have a much bigger effect on the outcomes than armour and weapons, so the balance of the system needs to reward dice pools and effects, than what armour and weapons a character has.

It would be good if the effects of armour and weapons would be cancelled each other out in the system most of the time.

“I don’t want to slaughter players out of hand on unlucky dice rolls”

I don’t want a combat system that enforce the death of characters for no other reason than bad rolls, obviously combat is a risk, but defeat should not equal death in all or even most circumstances.

Retreat should be an option and the rules should not make it fatal.

Surrender should be often taken, and incapacitation should not be death in many situations.

Death will happen but I would prefer it to be either earned or meaningful. In short I don’t want to be George Martin.

“I want to have an element or risk and scare players”

No combat should be a sure thing and if a players chooses it he chooses possible negative consequences, but that doesn’t mean character death.

I also want a system that means can experience some of their characters fears.

“I want it to be fun”

A rules system that can cut the boring stuff and react with flexibility to focus on the eyjoyable elements of combat.

Yes so none of that is contradictory at all.

Ok next comes the write up for  WOD:Glorantha combat system