Problems and questions and oddities: Sorcery in RQ spellbook

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Problems and questions and oddities: Sorcery in RQ spellbook

Postby Deleriad » Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:20 am

As the book itself is not open content I'm not going to copy and paste extensively and I'm only working my way through what I have time for in alphabetical order.

The 0 MP cost issue. This will get referenced a lot. Basically it refers to what a spell can do when cast without manipulation, i.e. for free. If it says Spell Name: 0MPs then it has some sort of massive effect for free.

"Peasant casting" - a spell cast without manipulation has no cost whether or not it succeeds. An average peasant with just base score in a spell (23-24%) will, on average, cast it successfully once every 4 attempts. As a rule of thumb you can say that it simply takes 4 times as long for a peasant to cast the spell as a master does. Thus any sorcery spell can be cast reliably for free by anyone who knows the spell - it is simply a matter of time. Ironically a master warlock (200%) fumbles their sorcery spells exactly as often as a peasant.

Effect Stacking. Much to my amazement I've just discovered that nowhere in MRQ does it say what happens when you cast identical spells on the same target. E.g. I cast Bladesharp 1 on my sword. Next round I cast Bladesharp 1 on my sword again. What is the effect? I have to assume that stacking doesn't happen.

Needs Instant. The author seems to have forgotten the Instant trait exists. Often it is stated in the text but not always.

Ablaze: Does armor protect?

Adept (skill). 0MP and stacking: if the effect stacks, Adept can increase any skill to around +1500% for 0MP.

Amputate: for 0MP I can sever a brontosaurus leg.

Aperture:write up implies that the manipulation (targets) skill can be used to cast multiple copies of the spell at the same target. This is unclear as to whether it is allowed in the rules (unsurprisingly they say nothing about it).

Arsonist's Hand. Can the smouldering object be extinguished through mundane means before it bursts into flames?

Aura of Cold/heat/lightning. For 0 MPs these can gradually annihilate anyone in close combat with the target.

Assail: if using the combat update (opposed rolls) then what number is used to represent the auto success of the unarmed attack(s)? I guess the number that was rolled to cast the spell.

Ball of Fire: shouldn't this be Instant?

Ball of Lightning: see Ball of Fire.

Beam of Cutting: write up mentions that it is "instantaneous" but it still needs the trait: instant.

Bisect: needs to be instant (or else all the HPs come back afterwards...) What happens when you Bisect someone with -2HPs in a location...

Bonebreaker. missing instant.

Breath of the Dragon. Missing instant. I take it from the write up that it is not possible to use targets on this spell.

Burrow. 0MP. "The sorcerer and a number of people equal to
the Magnitude of the spell (who must be of SIZ 12 – 15)". Does the sorcerer have to be SIZ 12-15? Why can't the sorcerer use this to take a dwarf buddy with him. Why are dwarves too small to cast this spell?

Calcify. 0MP. Potentially kill anyone you like for 0MPs. Painfully.

Circle of Fire. 0MPs. Does the circle move with the caster?

Circle Unbroken. 0MPs.

Cloak of Flames: 0MPs.

Cold Snap. 0MPs. Needs instant trait.

Corrode. Don't think acid damage is ever defined in MRQ. Assuming it works the old way and, for argument's sake, it does acid damage at the end of every combat round, then for 0MPs a single peasant with 10 POW can dissolve a castle for 0MPs over a few day's work.

Crawling Tide. Nowhere does it say how much damage the "small bites" do. Hopefully "0" or else for 0MPs you can do 3d6 damage to each leg with half protection.

Dance the Fool. What is a "Dex skill test" in MRQ? Assuming that it is any skill with DEX as a characteristic then Dodge actually ends up -10%. 0MPs to give someone -20% to all attacks and -10% to all dodges. Not bad.

Dark Foreboding. 0MPs. Needs Instant trait.

Deep Wounding. "enchanted weapon(s) will no longer solely Impale on a
critical success but any successful hit above 50%." Does this mean that they impale when they roll 1/2 normal success chance.

Diamond Knuckles. 0MP. Fun combination with Assail...

Dirge for the Lost. For 0MPs you can really annoy every Shaman within 1 mile... Get a bunch of sad peasants to surround a necromancer's tower and he'll never summon a spirit again.

Displace. Needs instant trait.

DragonSlayer. 0MPs and kill dragons with a mob of angry peasants...

Drowning. 0MPs. It's Smother. It works against more targets and it is NOT CONCENTRATION. Technically doesn't work with the rules (does the target restart the drowning countdown each time it makes the roll?). Waterboarding jokes start here...

Earthern Assault. Needs Instant trait. For 0MPs you can do 2d6 times 1d4 damage.


Ease. 0MPs. Anyone who knows ease can have it in effect at Mag 1 for all intents and purposes permanently for 0MPs.

Electrical Blast. 0MPs. Needs Instant. This spell, along with other similarly worded ones, does more damage to centaurs than it does to horses. E.g. you roll 1d4, get a 2 and divide it by number of locations then round up i.e. every location takes 1 damage - more locations you have, more damage you take.

Ether Blast. 0MPs. For 0MPs you can inflict 1d4 damage to all locations of a target ignoring all armour and drain 1 MP.

Ether Bolt. 0MPs. Do 2d4 damage to a location ignoring mundane armour and drain 1d3 MPs. Needs Instant.

Falling Stars. 0MPs.

Festering Wounds. What happens when you cast Festering Wounds on someone who already has Festering Wounds?

Fiendish Chains. There is no mechanic in MRQ for "breaking free from STR 30". For 0MPs burn an enemy to death in a matter of a minute or two while binding them in effectively unbreakable chains. No concentration required so you can go off and smoke a pipe while it happens.

That's enough for now.
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Death by Krakens

Postby Deleriad » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:29 pm

Here's a fun one:
Recall Spell. Needs Instant trait.
Cast a spell with duration for 0MPs. Doesn't matter what. Cast a 0MP Recall Spell on it. Gain 1 MP. Rinse and Repeat until you are at full MPs. With this combo a sorcerer will never want for MPs.

Another 0MP abuse from the spell book. Great Cast (Spell Name). Cast Great (NastySpell) for 0 MPs (1 Mag, 1 Range, 1 duration, 1 Target). Then cast NastySpell for 0MPs and get 2 Mag, 2 Range, 2 Duration, 2 Targets. Not bad for 0 MPs.

Summon Creature. This spell is screwy beyond belief. It doesn't specify range or any such thing so presumably it doesn't matter and is resisted with persistence. So, fun trick for 0MPs is to summon a Kraken (they're a little low in persistence) while surrounded by trolls. It lands on everyone (you included) but it's rather fun. Want to rapidly depopulate a city? Get yourself a strong room and start to summon krakens. You can summon one every 10 seconds or so and they'll all land outside and thrash around somewhat. Doesn't cost you any MPs and you get to drive the krakens to extinction straight away. Walktapi are also fun if you can stay hidden.
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Postby Nickbergquist » Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:03 pm

Re: peasants trying magic vs. master warlocks

Assuming a pesant can succeed 1 in 4 tries, and a master warlock succeeds pretty much immediately unless he fumbles, then that means the peasant will fumble 4 times as often because he is trying four times for every 1 time the warlock tries. Worse yet, the peasant fails 3 out of four times, and the warlock will fail, what...once in 19?

Plus, the peasant won't get more than 1 shot anyway when the kraken summoned by the warlock flattens him.

I just can not get that vision of raining krakens out of my head....
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Postby Deleriad » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:06 am

Nickbergquist wrote:Re: peasants trying magic vs. master warlocks

Assuming a pesant can succeed 1 in 4 tries, and a master warlock succeeds pretty much immediately unless he fumbles, then that means the peasant will fumble 4 times as often because he is trying four times for every 1 time the warlock tries. Worse yet, the peasant fails 3 out of four times, and the warlock will fail, what...once in 19?

Plus, the peasant won't get more than 1 shot anyway when the kraken summoned by the warlock flattens him.

I just can not get that vision of raining krakens out of my head....
Good point about the fumble. Using rules as written then there is no penalty for failing an unmanipulated spell therefore, in practice, a peasant simply takes 4 times as long to cast a spell as a warlock does.

I accept that "peasant casting" is essentially a thought-experiment which is used to test the rules. That said, in worlds like Glorantha, where you might have societies where everyone knows sorcery but only specialists know the manipulation arts you have to ask yourself what everyday life is like when you implement the magic system.

The problem with sorcery in the spellbook stems, I suspect, from the author never having played MRQ sorcery. This leads to him simply not understanding the ramifications of the spells as written and, sometimes, simply having forgotten some of the traits. I recall reading the author's comments on Mongoose blog about writing the book which is something he did after the Companion came out so he doesn't have the excuse that some of the earlier authors did, of working with an unfinished rules set.
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Postby B_Steele » Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:51 pm

I suspect, from the author never having played MRQ sorcery.
Actually, I am quite familiar with RQ Sorcery; and have a skilled Sorcerer in my ongoing playtest RQ chronicle. I honestly just never saw all of the loopholes that you did, and would hope that a good GM would stop a player from abusing them now that they have been found. I will admit that I seem to have completely forgotten to add the Instant trait on the spells that required it...but the spell descriptions will point any reader to that effect (I would hope!) in my accidental ommittance.
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Postby danbuter » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:09 am

Let me guess, one week for playtest, because the book has to be out NOW. :evil:
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Postby Nickbergquist » Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:23 pm

I've evolved some basic house rules to help prevent persistent rule abuse in my MRQ campaign with Sorcery....and I don't think it's so much a problem with many of the spells as written, per se (barring any essential errata issues) as the fact that sorcery of basic magnitude costs 0 MP and has no other consequence. Anyway, my house rules are three, and simple:

1. Sorcery is a fatiguing action, equivalent to light fatigue at 0-3 Mag, moderate at 4-6 mag, and heavy labor at+ mag.

2. If you attempt to cast a spell on a target and it resists....you can not use that spell on that target again for that encounter.

3. If you botch a spell's skill check, you can not attempt it again in the context/situation in question (i.e. treat wounds will not work on that target's wounds now).

That seems to keep things in check....for now. We'll see when my dedicated sorcerers in the group start creeping their spell and manipulation skills up in to the 90's or higher.
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Postby cj.23 » Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:41 pm

Will this book have an errata?

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Postby Wolverine » Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:58 am

Assuming a pesant can succeed 1 in 4 tries, and a master warlock succeeds pretty much immediately unless he fumbles
You're forgetting the rule where all rolls of 96 or above are an automatically failure, no matter what. So there is a chance Master Warlock will fail to cast a spell without fumbling.

I have a house rule when it comes to Sorcery. If no manipulation skills are used, the caster must still spend a single magic point. I've found that without a base cost, it gave a huge advantage to the Sorcerer, plus it was rather open to abuse. If a Sorcerer wishes to use a manipulation affect, they must spend an additional magic point for each manipulation applied, plus a base of one magic point to cast the spell.
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Postby Deleriad » Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:16 pm

Wolverine wrote: I have a house rule when it comes to Sorcery. If no manipulation skills are used, the caster must still spend a single magic point. I've found that without a base cost, it gave a huge advantage to the Sorcerer, plus it was rather open to abuse. If a Sorcerer wishes to use a manipulation affect, they must spend an additional magic point for each manipulation applied, plus a base of one magic point to cast the spell.
This is becoming a pretty standard houserule. I quite like the ability to cast unmanipulated spells for 0 Magic Points but it does cause a lot of problems. I deal with it by having failed spells cost 1MP but not successful ones as that rewards skill more, however it often feels counter-intuitive. I'll probably end up with a base 1MP cost for sorcery spells instead.
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Postby Deleriad » Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:41 pm

On the fun with RQ Spellbook front.

Hack. This spell does appear to have duration so as far as I can tell you can attack every combat action with an invisible axe doing 2d6+2 damage. I assume the skill is your spell skill. I mean, who wants a crossbow when you have an unparriable, undodgeable, invisible axe which attacks once per CA for the duration of the spell? Not bad for zero Magic Points. If the spell is instant then, guess what, for 0MPs you have an unparriable, undodgeable, invisible axe which attacks once per CA for as long as want.

Healing Mist is another fun one. For 0 Magic Points you can completely heal at least 250 people in a four-hour afternoon shift. Probably rather important if there is a sorcerer with Hack hanging around somewhere....
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Postby Deleriad » Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:47 pm

Mongoose Steele wrote:
I suspect, from the author never having played MRQ sorcery.
Actually, I am quite familiar with RQ Sorcery; and have a skilled Sorcerer in my ongoing playtest RQ chronicle.
That's good to know. It would be interesting to see/read the chronicle and/or see what the sorcerer's spells are and how they've used them. Does the player know that un-manipulated spells can be cast for free and take advantage of them?

Thanks for the response.
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Postby B_Steele » Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:27 pm

Thanks for the response.
No worries. I will admit that I was far more knowledgeable on Runic and Divine magic going into the Spellbook as I was Sorcery - and I did not see many of the exploits that you guys have.

Sorcery was always intended to be pretty powerful, so alot of what you are seeing were intended to be pretty scary. Now, taking some examples to the extreme, you're absolutely right, it is WAY broken. But that is where a good GM should step in and do something about it. The easiest fix is to make these spells decidedly difficult to obtain, or make sure that the sorcerer knows that such an abuse of magic energies might attract some pretty frightening critters or beings.

There is a few creatures in MII and MIII that would LOVE to track down a flagrant sorcerer like that. ;)

Anyway, a good houserule fix is to put a minimum cost of 1MP for Sorcery spells - but I personally think that a good GM is all that is needed to stem a powergaming sorcerer.

-Bry
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Postby RosenMcStern » Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:30 pm

Mongoose Steele wrote: Anyway, a good houserule fix is to put a minimum cost of 1MP for Sorcery spells
But it takes away some of the subtleties of this new sorcery (says the one whose sorcerer specializes in the subtlety of shooting fireballs).

What about an official errata, instead?
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Postby zozotroll » Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:02 pm

But at least he is usefull for starting the campfire. Think of all the labor that saves.
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Postby Wolverine » Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:27 pm

I deal with it by having failed spells cost 1MP but not successful ones as that rewards skill more, however it often feels counter-intuitive. I'll probably end up with a base 1MP cost for sorcery spells instead.
A good rule if you have low-skilled Sorcerers in your campaign. Personally, I would go with the 1 magic point base cost, no matter what.
Healing Mist is another fun one. For 0 Magic Points you can completely heal at least 250 people in a four-hour afternoon shift. Probably rather important if there is a sorcerer with Hack hanging around somewhere....
One of the many reason why I have the base 1 magic point cost as a house rule.
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Postby Slytovhand » Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:58 pm

Hi all.

This is my first post here, and for that matter, I've never even played MRQ - I did, however, play a few years of RQ1-3 (not as much of the 3 though...), and I was allowed to take in a Melnibonean to Glorantha... :D

Anyways - I do have the current MRQ books (though I lack a group to play with), an have been reading through the forum....

I was thinking about this issue, and I thought to myself there is an easy house rule (I actually got the idea from MERP). Any non-manipulated(Magnitude) spell gives the opponent a +25% to Persistance to resist it. All Manip(Mag) spells reduce resistance by 5% per point of magnitude.

Secondly, after reading a similar post on sorcery and it's loopholes - this little story came to mind.....

One day, there is peasant Shep, who looks after some sheep, happens to overhear some adventurers discussing the new rules. Shep, being poor and wanting to no longer be so, decides to put what he hears to good use, by competing in the annual Mongoose Dwarf Throwing competition. Shep is reasonably intelligent, but has a bit more power than brains...

So... he wanders into the local town to look for a sorcerer to train him. After spending a few days (and a few bronzes), he finds a mentor, and asks to be taught the Fly spell. Boy - does he get a shock when he's charged a couple of hundred silvers!!!! Being a peasant, that's just not the sort of money he's got. (first problem of sorcery solved - it's not that easy to just get...even simple stuff will cost a bit!).

Eventually, though, Shep manages to get a loan, and learns the spell (all by itself though... he can't afford manipulation training...). Now, he's got a massive 25% or so to cast - woot! Look out master sorcerer...

Shep goes to the local competition, and manages to win, by hurling numerous children over a wall within a short period of time (the local version of the comp doesn't have dwarves around, so they use kids - they like flying around :D ).

Shep gets excited... and moves on up into the next regional series... this time with real dwarves. Unfortunately, these dudes actively resist being thrown over the wall - Shep's finding it somewhat more difficult to get anywhere (if you include the +25% the dwarves get from above). He also finds that going in a competition against tried and tested sorcerers). Not only that - but the dwarves start hurling things at him as he tries to lift them - so he's got to start making concentration rolls - if he gets hit, he's almost stuffed the spell - that 1 in 4 now goes down to...? 1 in 10 if he's lucky? Shep loses the competition (how's he going to pay for the loan now??)

Unfortunately for Shep - the local dwarves get a bit sick and tired being hurled over walls and being stereotyped - and stage an uprising (no pun intended - well... maybe a little one....). Shep gets caught up in the middle of it, and decided to help out... by throwing them over the wall with his one 'easily abused 0MP Fly spell'. But...not only is he getting stuff thrown at him to break his concentration, he's now being attacked with weapons... he is taking damage, and his 25% to cast is dropping as he takes this damage - he's now down to 15%, and his enemy is still at +25% to resist... Shep decides this wasn't a good way to go, and decides to go back to his sheep.

(as an epilogue, on the way back home, Shep hears a Monty Python skit about Flying Sheep, and thinks he might just be able to ring in a few silvers... if he can nail it!)


Magic in the game is the realm of PC's, the same way that we roll xD6, and throw the lowest. It's great for the players and their antagonists - but not quite as prevalent with the mundance citizenry...That's why it's so powerful.....

Thanks for reading this far :P

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Postby Arasmo » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:36 am

Lovely story, and good point!

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