Friday, April 29, 2011

An MRQ Fanzine?

I'm taking the first step, and have official blessing for it, to develop a Mongoose Runequest 2 (and perhaps other d100 systems) fanzine. In many ways, I want to develop a Tales of the Reaching Moon for the new millennium! You can read the details and offer to contribute at the Mongoose Forum, but here's the post in full:

I mentioned elsewhere, and have the go-ahead from Matt to develop, a Fanzine dedicated to MRQ2. 

At this early stage, my immediate concern is to put together an editorial team. So if you're interested in helping to develop this product, please PM me. Being part of the editorial team would require one article or piece of art as a contribution per issue, or contribution in kind like copyediting or layout. As the initial release schedule I have in mind is quarterly, this should not be too big a commitment. 

My model for the fanzine would be the excellent OSR fanzine Fight On!, but I'd suggest a rather more organized set of regular content. This is an example of ideas for the regular content: 

Runerites: (in honor of the great White Dwarf column) New rules ideas or general concepts 
The Coliseum: new monsters 
Foes: Fully developed NPCs with tactics and motivations 
Plunder: Magic items, unique or generic 
Elder Secrets: New spells and magical abilities 
Cults: Fully developed cults 
Blood and Souls: Specific items for the Elric setting 
God Willing: Specific items for the Deus Vult setting 
Major Arcana: Specific items for the Wraith Recon setting 
Njallsaga: Specific items for the Vikings setting 

I still haven't ascertained whether this could include Glorantha, but I'll work on that. 

In any event, if I can get enough interest in this, I will go ahead and work out the business side of things. I imagine the first issue at least will be free to download to gain interest, but there will be costs and those will need to be addressed. Having said that, I'm an MBA so I should be able to deal with that. 

The main thing however, is to assemble an editorial team. Please PM me or post here if you're interested. 

The other thing we'll need is a title. Very grateful for ideas for that! 

Finally, I understand some of you may be skeptical. I don't think this thread needs that. I can be skeptical enough about the realities of this to kill it if necessary. So positive contributions only, please!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Martial Arts Combat Maneuvers for Mongoose Runequest 2

One of the recognized shortcomings of MRQ2 is that there isn't really a good way to reflect unarmed Martial Arts. Here's one idea, to allow a special set of combat maneuvers to those who are trained in a Martial Arts combat style. I'd be grateful for any comments or critiques.

Break Neck (Critical Only) – On a successful attack to the head only, the attacker may undertake an opposed test of Brawn skills with the defender. If successful, the attacker immediately inflicts a Major Wound on the defender’s head [Note – this is a devastating attack, and hence is difficult to inflict – the attacker must get a critical hit, hit the head and win a brawn v brawn opposed test]

Choke – in the event of an attacker establishing a grapple to the head or chest (see p.92), the attacker may choose this combat maneuver to attempt to asphyxiate the defender. The defender must make an opposed Resilience roll against the original attack roll or start to asphyxiate (see p. 54). The defender must continue to make resilience checks every round against the original attack roll or take damage, until they slip free or the attacker drops the grapple.

Jump Kick – using this combat maneuver the attacker may roll 1d10+10 for hit location rather than 1d20. No grapple may be established. EDIT: In addition to damage inflicted, the attack also counts as a Leaping Attack (p.91) but may affect targets up to the attacker's SIZx2. The Opposed Test is the defender's Evade vs. the original attack roll.

Slam Tackle – this combat maneuver is a variant of Bash useable only on an unarmed charge. The effects are as Bash except as follows: the defender must make a difficult Athletics skill test to avoid falling prone (hard if knocked into an object), and if the defender does fall, the attacker falls with them unless they succeed in an Acrobatics check. The attacker may establish a grapple, as usual.

Spin Kick – using this combat maneuver, the attacker delivers a devastating kick attack. The attacker may roll 2d3 plus Damage Modifier for damage. No grapple may be established.

Throw (attack and defense) – a combatant may use this Combat Maneuver to throw an opponent in a powerslam, judo throw or other such maneuver. The combatant defending against the maneuver must succeed in a test of Brawn against the original successful attack or parry or be thrown 1d3m, taking falling damage if appropriate. The thrown party will be prone unless they succeed in an Acrobatics test.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Found Items

The Golden Rhino of Mapungubwe - could easily be a Found Item!
Found Items were a curious form of random additional "treasure" found in early Runequest scenarios. In each room description, there was a percentage chance of a Found Item that could be revealed by a Spot Hidden roll in a full search of the room. Some of the items were useless, some powerful, but all intriguing.

For instance, two of the Found Items from Snakepipe Hollow show how the flavor of the typical table:

"4. An arm of a small statue. The arm is 30 cm long, magical and made of copper. The arm is very old and is heavily tarnished so that it is totally green. If the arm touches the bare skin of a person with a disease, it will cure him. The arm can only cure 1 disease per week and after curing 4 more diseases, it will have used up all its power and it will fall to pieces."

"15. A shredded leather jerkin, covered with old blood."

Each of the Found Items could be an adventure seed or plot item in its own right. Do the Chalanna Arroy Sisters revere the statue arm? What statue did it come from? If it can be identified, would restoring the arm to the original statue have extra magical effects? Who did the jerkin belong to? What happened to him? Is it a warning? And so on.

So here is a table of Found Items for Openquest, designated as Open Game Content under the Open Game License, reproduced below under the break.

  1. A rusted and pitted iron sword blade. It radiates faint magic. This was once a magic sword like the Holy Sword of Zunder, but it has been buried and ill-treated long enough that the magic has worn off. If it is cleaned and given a hilt, it will act as a brittle long sword, doing 1d8-2 damage and has a 25% chance of breaking on a successful parry. It will, however, store up to 4 magic points if filled.
  2. A bag of beans. If cooked and eaten, they are exceptionally tasty. If planted, they will grow into Kuragu plants, sacred to healing cults. The leaves of the Kuragu plant will automatically stop bleeding when used with the Healing skill.
  3. A pamphlet written in an obscure dialect of a local language that describes some interesting techniques for unarmed combat. Anyone studying it for a week uninterrupted can add +10% to their Unarmed Combat skill.
  4. A well-folded, magnificent, silken woman's dress, of the latest style, worth at least 1000SP. It has a small cut in the back that could have been made with a knife, but there is no blood, nor any sign of whoever was wearing it.
  5. Three tiny gold figurines - a rhino, a stag and a polar bear. They appear to be worth 100SP for the set, but a critical Trade roll will reveal them to be of exceptional interest to a collector who, if she can be found, will pay 10,000SP for them.
  6. An ornate-looking bronze helmet with a horsehair plume. The helmet is strongly reinforced, giving +1 Armor Points to any armor suit.
  7. Half a bronze breastplate, obviously from the same armor set as the helmet in 6, but cut in half by a remarkably clean blow.
  8. A map of the surrounding area, in great detail, but about a hundred years out of date.
  9. What looks like the fossilized remains of a large octopus, wrapped around an impossibly old harpoon.
  10. A strange wooden bat, actually an implement used in an Elvish game not unlike cricket.
  11. A human finger, clearly bitten off.
  12. Two brass coins, each worth a quarter of a Copper Piece.
  13. Seventy-five marks carved into the wall, as if counting the passage of time.
  14. A skeletal hand protruding from the earthen floor. Digging deeply enough will reveal a full skeleton reaching out of the ground. It is unclear, except perhaps to a critical Natural Lore roll, whether the skeleton was buried like this or whether it was trying to dig its way out.
  15. A terracotta pot, sealed with a set of a magical symbols. If opened, there is a rushing sound, but all it contains is a bunch of rocks.
  16. A set of very heavy shackles and chains. All the shackles are locked. There is no key.
  17. A wolfskin cape.
  18. A velvet pouch in poor condition. Inside are what looks like pulverized gemstones.
  19. A note written on human skin. It discusses a plot to assassinate someone who has the same name as one of the party.
  20. Inside a broken statue head is a gold-plated tongue. If used to replace the tongue of someone who has lost theirs, it will allow them to speak again. The recipient can speak 1d3 additional languages but may no longer speak the words of sorcery spells.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Classic Runequest Dungeon Format

When Runequest was at its height under The Chaosium, before the disastrous link-up with Avalon Hill, I always thought that the "dungeon" adventures had the best format of any of the modules out there, whether from TSR, Judges' Guild, Games Workshop or any of the others. Every room or encounter area had a set format, and it was so well-designed a GM could basically run the adventure straight out of the shrink-wrap, although in most cases this would have missed the really cool things about the work. Paul Jacquays adopted it for his Judges Guild Runequest adventures like Hellpits of Nightfang and Duck Tower. For the sake of those who haven't come across it before, here it is.

Each room description is organized as follows:
INITIAL DIE ROLLS: This determines the occupants of the room. Most Chaosium dungeons were living places, with the inhabitants moving between rooms, catching up on the latest news, going for a meal or sleeping. So the initial die rolls would determine where the inhabitants were. Most GMs that I knew did these in advance to work out what the inhabitants were doing. Earlier rolls took priority, so a monster/NPC could not be in two places. Occasionally, the roll would have some special happening in them (for instance a room that had spirits in it might have the spirit attack someone the instant they set foot in the room, but would otherwise be peaceable until attacked).
FIRST GLANCE: This told the players what they knew about the room the first instant they set foot, like dimensions, obvious features and, in a cave for instance, what sort of rock the room was carved out of.
CLOSER LOOKS: This would include all the significant elements of the room beyond a first glance, some of which, it was noted, could be misleading or unimportant - and boy, did people fall for those.
EXITS: By listing the exits from the room, it was easy for a GM to keep the players informed without drawing a map for them or anything. Several of the Chaosium dungeons were mapping challenges. They would also note where any keys were located.
HIDDEN SPOTS: Chaosium Runequest 2 had a specific skill for Spot Hidden items. This section also indicated how long it would take for one person to search the area, and also the chances of a Found Item being there (I'll come on to Found Items later).
TRAPS: Being old school, traps were common in Chaosium dungeons. This section would describe the trap in full, including any mechanics and how to circumvent it.
DENIZENS: Whatever monsters or NPCs live in the room, if they aren;t of the meandering type normally favored.
TREASURE: What it says on the tin.
MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: Anything that didn't fit in elsewhere went here.

As said, I think this format worked really well. I'm currently designing a MRQ2 dungeon - which I don't do very often - and I'm using this format, remembering The Alexandrian's excellent description tips too. So I've added a section under closer looks simply called "Three Senses and Two Cool Things."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pavis Campaign: Muriah and the Mistress Part II

(GM note: I didn't take good notes during this and the next few adventures, so apologies that they aren't as detailed as the previous recaps)

Our heroes realized that not all of the vision had been accounted for in their expulsion of the broos from the Vilnar headwater caverns. They discussed the visions with Leotychidas, Homophilus and Cleombrotus, who said that all clues pointed towards a village called Black Rock, on the western outskirts of Sun County. The party marched through the heat of Fire Season to the village, moving through dead fields, a deserted village and past up dried up streams. At Black Rock they were greeted as emissaries of the Count by the village headman Fethal, a former Sun Dome templar, and his cocky son Varloz. They pronounced a feast in honor of the visitors that night, and Fethal insisted that the militia would drill for the visitors the next morning.

At the feast, the party noticed some strange things. Grom noticed that the youths of the village were unruly and uncouth, particularly for Sun Domers, although he was distracted by an attractive young widow. Xaraya noticed that there were few young men, as opposed to teens, and that Varloz spent much of the time leering at her. That night, Leo and the other Domers were asked to sleep in Fethal's hut, while the unbelievers were asked to sleep outside. Suspecting something was up, Xaraya, Skye and Grom split up watch duties. When Grom was on watch, he was approached by the young widow, bearing her child with her. She said her child was sick, and she needed to take her to the Earth Temple, but wanted a strong man with her to keep her safe. Grom agreed, because there was something threatening about the place. They proceeded to engage in increasingly affectionate conversation. After she left the child with the crone at the Earth Temple, she asked Grom to retire with her, but Grom, though tempted, refused.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I've been delving back into Tekumel recently, searching for inspiration for my version of Glorantha's Kralorela. I find the "vanilla" canon version of Kralorela pretty boring - it's far more Gloranthan China than the Lunar Empire is Gloranthan Rome or the Sartarites are Glornanthan Vikings. I'd much rather my Kralorela echo the themes of Tekumel - decidedly oriental, but also decidedly weird. My Kralorela is limping to the end of a long period of stability, and so the decadence of Tsolyanu seems most appropriate as a model.  A very distant model, I hasten to say - there's enough of canon Kralorela in there to make it recognizable - but I want to evoke the sense of alien wonder in Lur Nop that new Tekumel gamers get when they first set foot in Bey Su or Jakalla.

To this end, I'm running a couple of characters through the solo adventures released by TOME a while back. I've never played them before and I'm loving them. Character generation, especially for the priest, was a chore, and I can see why Gardasiyal bombed as a rules system. However, once I got to crack open the actual adventure book, Coming of Age in Tekumel, I was hooked again. I'll write up my characters' adventures here soon.

All this is a prelude to saying that there's a new Tekumel blog out there. By my guest and check out The Eye of Joyful Sitting Among Friends. I'll be checking in there regularly. In the meantime, you can get Sandy Petersen's unofficial conversion of RQIII to Tekumel here.  I might jot down some notes for updating the rule set to MRQ2 here.