Do you really like MRQ?

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Inspector Zero
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Do you really like MRQ?

Postby Inspector Zero » Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:58 pm

I mean, really?. I've been flipping through the BRP rulebook this evening and finding myself wishing that RuneQuest was (still) an explicit setting for BRP. The mechanics are more elegant, simpler, not in the least bit broken etc etc. I know everything is houseruleable (sp?) and the systems are highly compatible but it still grieves me that I have to do that work and buy two product lines.

This isn't a Mongoose bash - although I would say that the price/quality offering is not right - and one has to admire the content that has streamed out of Mongoose over the last three or so years.

Most of the excellent stuff has been setting and fluff (Magic of Glorantha, the Races books, Fronela, GtSA) while other potentially excellent stuff (Cults Vol 1&2 particularly) has been brought low by broken rules.

In terms of the system, what are the main things that MRQ has brought to the game of RuneQuest that you don't find in BRP?
- Combat - several versions now in print - is it opposed or not and why does it take soooooo long?

- Runes and Cults - after three years and the advent of C,G & F it still doesn't feel right - e.g. players having to re-write CoG themselves to retrofit spells to runes

- Legendary Abilities - these are excellent aren't they?

- Char Gen - the key change appears to have been to scale back the availability of magic use (and don't fob me off with Folk Magic). For me RuneQuest is a character with 2points of
bladesharp on his spear and a Healing 2 spell to stay alive.

Perhaps if I'd never played RQ II & III it wouldn't matter but I still think I'd be pretty narked about the broken rules.

On the other hand the key thing missing from BRP is the absence of cults which forms the core of RuneQuest (again underscoring why MRQ Char Gen is wide of the mark in a Gloranthan setting). I see that Chaosium have published BRP Magic which claims to deal with Spirit, Divine, Sorcery and Enchantments. Is this a rewrite of the RQII Magic Rulebook? If so it's a pretty powerful incentive to abandon MRQ as a system and simply raid it for the Gloranthan fluff.

I appreciate we've had similar threads about MRQ/BRP on this forum before but I know that many of the contributors here also post regularly on the BRP forum.

Does anyone here agree with these sentiments or have I overlooked or disregarded some beauty of the MRQ system?
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:28 pm

When I say RQ I usually mean BRP. I take bits from MRQ that might give a bit of colour to BRP but thats about it.

I dont want to slag Mongoose, their setting books are cool, and Conan is a pretty good piece of rules writing, (not my exact thing, but I can appreciate the endeavour). But the simple fact is weve had a lack of faith in their rules output, demonstrated by the rules writers themselves after a short amount of time! This Guilds Factions and Cults thing takes the biscuit, so were heading for a rewrite, but who said ok to the initial version not so long ago? Its beyond belief that something deemed ok not so long ago is seen as unworkable now. Did they playtest? I know they did, but its my understanding that not all feedback was taken on board.

Its a matter of personal opinion, but this idea that runes are physical things, is just plain goofy, and doesnt work in practice, I know that at first glance, and I dont write rules for money.

Youre right when you say Mongoose have had two or three atempts already to make the system work, when they could have just cribbed from Chaosiums notes, and we would all be happy. I bought the GMs guide not so long ago, inthe hope that I would find a workable combat system. Its like, ok, either way, I dont mind, but just decide, is it opposed resolution or not?

As I say, theres a lot of good from Mongoose, theyve pretty much kept most of my favourite sytems alive, but its my thinking that Runequest is such an elegant system, you have to try really hard to screw it up, but Mongoose have managed it twice in a short space of time. Little things that you notice, like, how long does it take to learn a sorcery spell? The answer doesnt seem to be in the rulebook, (we had that one a couple of weeks ago).

So, yes, Mongoose, you want me to rebuy RQ for the third time? (I include the GM book in that equation). Shape up, or Im keeping my money for Chaosium stuff.
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:39 pm

Oh, and heres another one for all of you to answer, because its certainly not in any of the rulebooks. Can one person learn Rune, Divine and Sorcery magic? Theres nothing that says its proscribed. Or can a person use Rune and Sorcery, at least? Ive no idea. It doesnt say you cant do any of these things. There are a number of issues like this.
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Do you really like MRQ?

Postby JonGeere » Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:09 am

I agree with what you say Inspector Zero. Although essentially BRP and MRQ are varients on the system I would advise people to use the quality product BRP and mine MRQ for ideas for Glorantha/Elric/whatever world their using.

Mongoose appears to consistently lack a completer-finisher in their team who will iron out the faults to make a seamless system.

It's a bit like their layout: could do better.
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Postby Deleriad » Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:22 am

Things that I like about MRQ.
Return to CHA as a stat.
Basic and Advanced skills with properly rationalised skill sets.
Attempt to make opposed percentile rolls central to the system.
Removal of Resistance table
Criticals and specials collapsed into just criticals.
Combat as opposed roll system (though not the one they use).
Removal of general Hit Points (took me a long time to like this)
Combat Actions and Reactions system.
Dedicated POW & Pacts (as in Elric and Guilds)
Hero Points
Improvement Rolls rather than experience ticks
Legendary Abilities (neutral myself but I can see that all my players like them).
Revised sorcery system
Dodge/resilience/persistence as magic defence rather than MP vs MP

Things I don't like about MRQ
Biggest issue is Mongoose. Just about everything they seem to produce is unfinished, badly edited and badly presented. So an awful lot of using their RQ stuff is more like panning a stream for gold and then retconning.

Of the changes to RQ, the only one which went horribly wrong was their reworking of rune magic. That's been mostly fixed.

Their ham-fisted attempt to write combat tables and then switch to opposed rolls was also a complete balls up.

I find MRQ to be the most coherent BRP system yet. I've been running Chaosium games since 1981 and MRQ meets my needs. If I were to run CoC tomorrow I would be strongly tempted to import a lot of MRQ into it. The problem I have the BRP rulebook is that it is backward looking. A core book that presented the stripped down system and some modules rather than a "Chaoisum's Greatest Hits collection" would be very useful. That said, I would probably end with a MRQ style flavour.
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Re: Do you really like MRQ?

Postby RosenMcStern » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:56 am

Let us confront the two currently available D100 products. I will not count OpenQuest in because it is basically a merge of the two.

MRQ -> it introduced several changes in the old RQ ruleset, some of which were good, others bad. However, there is no general consensus about which changes were good andd which were bad, except about the phisycal runes that were fumble that it was not easy to fix. Most people like the absence of the resistance table and general hit points, but I feel they were a step back, not forward. Instead, I appreciate the "resist with Persistence" thing, and Hero Points, which others dislike. So what are the steps necessary to make MRQ better? Apart from fixing Rune Magic, it is very difficult to tell.

BRP -> the work done here was just to take the best parts of the old rulesets and mix them together, making sure that the various optional bits were not incompatible and warning the reader when a particular rule pair was incompatible (variable armour and hit locations, for instance). It is hard to find someone who complains about the rules, because most of them are optional, and if there is something you do not like you do not need to use it.

So, what is the bottom line: BRP wins, but it does not win because the ruleset is inherently better, as it is basically an unamended version of the old system, it wins because it contains options. Combat in MRQ has the potential of being more detailed, and is certainly as fun as in BRP, but Mongoose still has to answer one question: is it an oppose roll or not? The correct answer (and the one that was given in the original player update) is: use the mechanics that you prefer, either opposed or unopposed as it fits your taste.

I think Mongoose was afraid of explicitly putting in more optional rules, something they may have learned from Another Game. This was the real bad choice, and the real improvement for the rules here would be allowing the authors to include more options in the forthcoming supplements. As long as they do not put options in, people will put houserules in. And a system that needs heavy houseruling is usually perceived as broken.
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Postby kintire » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:43 am

Its a matter of personal opinion, but this idea that runes are physical things, is just plain goofy, and doesnt work in practice, I know that at first glance, and I dont write rules for money.
Really? my first glance tells me that material components have been a part of fantasy spellcassting since the earliest days, and that written runes and diagrams are a traditional part of magic, and that the system works just fine...
Little things that you notice, like, how long does it take to learn a sorcery spell? The answer doesnt seem to be in the rulebook, (we had that one a couple of weeks ago).
A sorcery spell is a skill. It takes exactly the same amount of time to learn as any other skill.
Oh, and heres another one for all of you to answer, because its certainly not in any of the rulebooks. Can one person learn Rune, Divine and Sorcery magic? Theres nothing that says its proscribed
Why do you ask a question, answer it, and then complain there's no answer? The rules for learning the styles of magic are given. There is nothing that says learning more than one is proscribed. Therefore...
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Postby Lord High Munchkin » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:19 am

Similar to Kintire.

I must admit that all the questions about "how long to learn a Sorcery spell/skill" always made me smile... they are merely skills (OK, depending on the setting, eldritch and occult ones... but still skills).

So, just about as long as other skills.
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Postby Loz » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:33 am

Learning different kinds of magic is going to be largely driven by your cult and background. There are Fronelans, for instance, that use rune and sorcery primarily but may also have a smattering of divine. Other God Learners will stick to sorcery and Old Ways Trad cults rune and divine. But these are life style/cultural/faith driven things. In essence, anyone can learn any style. The three main styles are not mutually exclusive.

On the subject of physical runes, they may not fit Glorantha especially well, but as a concept, they're not intrinsically broken at all and I have no problem being able to rationalise a physical rune as a manifestation of the essential power. You can even fit that rationale to Glorantha. There was a Gods War. Some gods died, others were injured. Their blood stained the earth and because it contains the runes they embody a physical manifestation of them is not that big a suspension of disbelief. After all, the pure/true metals, such as iron, lead and gold, have been described before, in Gloranthan mythology, as the bones of the gods. So why not physical runes manifesting from their blood?

But, as ever, YGMV.
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Postby Deleriad » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:01 pm

Loz wrote:On the subject of physical runes, they may not fit Glorantha especially well, but as a concept, they're not intrinsically broken at all and I have no problem being able to rationalise a physical rune as a manifestation of the essential power.
I think physical runes fit Glorantha really well provided they're fairly rare. In the Blood of Orlanth campaign I'm running, the players will discover that the Lord of Sunvale has an eternally burning fire in his hearth. It is part of the reason for the warmer than normal weather in the area and is a tiny drop of the blood of Yelm which can only be integrated by a truly acknowledged Lord of Sunvale. While in proximity of the fire he can cast a couple of fire spells he has learned and he has access to the Rune's Magic Points. It's a great treasure but can't be moved from where it is and it's a great coup for an Orlanthi lord to have power over Yelm.

Basically I treat physical runes as like power crystals but more epic and with restrictions on who can integrate them, how they can be used and so on. Feels pretty Gloranthan to me.

In non-Gloranthan settings the problem I have with physical runes as written in the RQ core is that a) they're not generic as they're so tied in with Glorantha and b) the spells they provide are rather mundane.

What I would like to see is the number of runes reduced, the visuals made generic, comments about how to use them in 2 or 3 fantasy settings and the magic made, basically, more exciting.
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Postby Inspector Zero » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:32 pm

The diversion into discussing magic is fine and I suppose illustrates the wider point I was trying to make which is that the MRQ system has unfixed flaws leading to all these heresies.

As another perfect example, a player who brought the solo adventure I recently published sent me a note giving some feedback on how the adventure played. I'm very grateful for the feedback which is hugely helpful but I thought I'd share some of the explanatory e-mail the player sent me:
As for character creation and combat I do use several houserules.
1) Damage (see attachment)
2) Advanced Combat Sequence – I use the rules as written in “Stupor Mundi”
3) Charging does not provoke a free attack from the charged opponent
4) I use the new rules of “Guilds, Factions and Cults” plus the following clarifications:
- cults can teach the advanced skill of Runecasting for their cultic runes. This is in addition to the five cult skills and without the need to pay for it with affinity points as mentioned on page 71 GFC. This Runecasting skill is used to cast the cult rune spells.
- Cult rune spells may be cast without the rune mentioned in RQ Deluxe (or RQ Spellbook or whatever), e.g. Orlanthi may cast Skybolt via the Air runecasting skill rather than via a Chaos rune
- Runic powers are not gained from cults, but only as a gift or by integrating a specific rune. Questing for runes of your cult and successfully integrating them will increase your Pact skill
- Pact size is limited by your rank and/or your Lore skill. I'm not yet clear about the specifics
- even non-progressive divine spells can be leaned multiple times.
- recalling a divine spell refills any previous castings, i.e. you do not need to cast the complete magnitude before being allowed to recall the spell
5) First of, I use a point-buy system for the characteristics, taking the race average and distributing 18 points.
6) I allow even Novice characters to be laymembers of a cult (of course the players need to pay those 1-10 silver).
7) I allow the choice of Lore (Specific Theology) as a background choice of advanced skills. In RQ Deluxe it only says Lore.
8 ) As Laymembers, they are also allowed to learn Runecasting skills (those of their cult only !), but without integration of a rune.
9) I do not differentiate between Runecasting skill gained through your cult or through integration.
10) Novice characters may purchase cultic rune spells up to mag 2.
11) To pass initiation, characters are allowed to use Hero Points to succeed in their five skill tests.
12) Pact skill is gained without need to use Improvement rolls (i.e. similar to the gaining of Runecasting via integration of a rune).
13) Initiates and Acolytes may not invest all their POW in one pact. Only higher ranks are allowed to do so. I’m not yet decided on the allowed amount, but I find it strange that a mere initiate who most likely does not yet have the cultic skills to act like his god commit his soul completely to that god. Gloranthan theism is all about mimicking your chosen god (or so I interpreted it). Perhaps I’m also linking the Pact size to the lore skill ?
14) Lore (Specific Theology) is used to cast Divine spells.
159 I assumed that you can buy “greater” items off stock
And there I suspect go most of us. What kind of system asks players to do so much work? Can you imagine WoTC or Blizzard working their customers so hard?

I'm not at all interested in Mongoose baiting and am grinding no axes but it does seem that as RuneQuest fans we are prepared to walk over broken glass to have our favourite game in print.

I often read people on the forum writing "YGMV" or similar but the fact is in 1982 or whenever most of us sad old gits started playing and got the bug for the thing, Our Gloranthas Did Not Vary - we learned a simple rule set, we learned about the mythology, we bought the supplements and we played 'em without the fiddling around that seems now to be an accepted part of a new release.

I don't play Lankhmar, Newhon or Elric so can't comment on that.
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:14 pm

My complaints still stand because of an extreme lack of clarity in the rules about these things. So learning different types of magic is allowed, it doesnt say its allowed, you just have to assume, and that IS NOT good rules writing in anyones book.

BRP is just a set of options, but what silky smooth, everything-fits-into-everything-else design. Yes, theyve had years to get it right, but its definitely right. I mentioned elsewhere, using BRP for a game of Aliens recently. Its the first time Ive used these rules for sci fi games. Man, it ran like a dream, I used random protection for the armour, I used the rules for semi automatic fire, auto fire, burst fire, I had absolutely no problems whatsoever, it ran quick and enjoyably.

Physical runes in MRQ I hate them, its a bollocks idea. Your supposed to liberate runes from the possession of a Broo? Well, that would be something like a Chaos rune, surely? And what are Gloranthan characters going to do with that? They wouldnt sell it, and its no good to them. If the rune is on a leaf, maybe they could just use it as a condiment. And why cant you just draw your own runes? Well, becasue the rules say you cant. Horrible metagame concept.

Gloranthan personalities are characterized by rune tatoos, runes theyve painted on their bodies or carved themselves onto their shields. Not some crap about finding a piece of whatever that came from a gods wherevers. And Id like to know how Primal Chaos bleeds to form his runes.

Its goofy, stoopid and not worthy of Glorantha or even Runequest.
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Postby kintire » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:57 pm

Physical runes in MRQ I hate them, its a bollocks idea. Your supposed to liberate runes from the possession of a Broo? Well, that would be something like a Chaos rune, surely? And what are Gloranthan characters going to do with that? They wouldnt sell it, and its no good to them. If the rune is on a leaf, maybe they could just use it as a condiment. And why cant you just draw your own runes? Well, becasue the rules say you cant. Horrible metagame concept.
You are aware that this is gibberish, right? All of these objections you level at runes can be levelled at power crystals, matrices, magic objects, any spell (why can't I just say the funny words and wiggle my fingers and just have the thing happen? Because the rules say I can't. Horrible metagame concept!"). And while liberating runes from a broo would be a problem, liberating anything from a Broo is a problem. Why does the fact that Characters won't get any use out of a Chaos rune negate the whole concept?

It doesn't of course. What you mean is, you have a view of the One True Way, it doesn't include physical runes and so they are silly, for no reason other than the fact that you don't like them. Well, your personal quirks are all very interesting, but that's no reason to be downright rude to some hard working games authors!
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Postby Mark Mohrfield » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:15 pm

One major complaint I have about the Runes rules is that you have to kill someone to be able to use his runes.
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Postby zozotroll » Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:28 am

I liked the original Battle Magic. Nothing since then has quite made it for me. The physical runes just dont have the right feel for me, and are a pain to use. For those who started after Battle magic this is probably not so much a problem.

I have had some Monty Python combats where somebody lost use of both arms and legs, but refused to pass out due to good resilience rolls. At those times I miss general HP.

I like opposed rolls, it certainly beats endless rounds of I hit/you parry, you hit/I parry.

I really dont like the advancement rolls, and have gone back to skill checks.
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:09 am

kintire wrote:
Physical runes in MRQ I hate them, its a bollocks idea. Your supposed to liberate runes from the possession of a Broo? Well, that would be something like a Chaos rune, surely? And what are Gloranthan characters going to do with that? They wouldnt sell it, and its no good to them. If the rune is on a leaf, maybe they could just use it as a condiment. And why cant you just draw your own runes? Well, becasue the rules say you cant. Horrible metagame concept.
You are aware that this is gibberish, right? All of these objections you level at runes can be levelled at power crystals, matrices, magic objects, any spell (why can't I just say the funny words and wiggle my fingers and just have the thing happen? Because the rules say I can't. Horrible metagame concept!"). And while liberating runes from a broo would be a problem, liberating anything from a Broo is a problem. Why does the fact that Characters won't get any use out of a Chaos rune negate the whole concept?

It doesn't of course. What you mean is, you have a view of the One True Way, it doesn't include physical runes and so they are silly, for no reason other than the fact that you don't like them. Well, your personal quirks are all very interesting, but that's no reason to be downright rude to some hard working games authors!
Well, calling a different opinion from yours 'gibberish' is just as rude, surely? And, look, weve all had bollocks ideas, Ive had bollocks ideas too, we all have. You have to be aware of what is good and what is bad, and that HAS to come from other peoples feedback. If you dont want criticism of your creative ideas, dont have them published or shown in public. Its a fact of life Im afraid. I bought a copy of MRQ, and a number of supplements, I have an opinion about them, this board is specifically set up for the communication of those opinions, so Im going to articulate those opinions.

And, if you are worried about offending 'hard working game designers', you should check out a thread on the Conan boards where one of said 'hard working games authors' dismantles savagely, piece by piece, some projected artwork, saying why said artwork isnt good enough, saying exactly the same thing Ive said, in fact, that you have to swallow criticism if you want to take money for your efforts. So I shouldnt worry about hurting game designer feelings man, their made of sterner stuff.

Whilst I appreciate the use of runes in a game called 'Runequest', (one failure in the original), its is MY OPINION that the descibed use doesnt make sense, either in rules terms or in descriptive terms. It is YOUR OPINION that those rules work. Youre right, kintire, it is subjective on my part. Ive played Runequest/BRP for a good while, I consider it my game of choice, and I have opinions about it, I have a vested interest in it.

I consider MRQ as a ruleset as a kind of ugly sister to BRP. She is occasionally entertaining, she will often get you through the night and she may be more revolutionary in her thoughts, but everyone just wants to be with her sleeker sister.
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Postby Lord High Munchkin » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:21 am

By any chance do you work for Chaosium?
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Postby OldMongooseFordy » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:40 am

Let's keep this to constructive criticism please. Referencing men's soft dangly bits in relation to gaming mechanics is not constructive, no matter what your intention. It's rude language and it doesn't belong here.
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:02 pm

MongooseFordy wrote:Let's keep this to constructive criticism please. Referencing men's soft dangly bits in relation to gaming mechanics is not constructive, no matter what your intention. It's rude language and it doesn't belong here.
Keeping it nice, clean and civilised means theres no use for a forum where you can insult anonymously without fear of reprisals! :lol:

Yeah, but seriously, I dont take offence at people who insult me, they dont know me, just as I would expect mature people to understand that I dont seriously mean to insult them. Its all about people with strong views, lets not assume that everyone is emotionally fragile.
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Postby Deleriad » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:17 pm

PrinceYyrkoon wrote: Yeah, but seriously, I dont take offence at people who insult me, they dont know me, just as I would expect mature people to understand that I dont seriously mean to insult them. Its all about people with strong views, lets not assume that everyone is emotionally fragile.
I prefer it all to be about reasoned argument and debate. I don't see any need to insult anyone regardless of whether or not the person being insulted can "take it." After all, it's not that hard to keep it civil and congenial and make a point.

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