Land of Samurai and RQII

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Land of Samurai and RQII

Postby cerebrolator » Wed May 19, 2010 1:42 am

How compatible is RuneQuest Land of Samurai with RQII? Is the main difference in the changes to sorcery?

I'm going to run a feudal Japan campaign and am thinking of buying the old Land of Samurai book so I'd really appreciate some feedback.
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Postby Loz » Wed May 19, 2010 2:39 am

There are differences in character creation too, plus Divine Magic.

However the two are highly compatible and the conversion notes available from the Mongoose website will help fill in the blanks.

Note, though, that LotS isn't feudal Japan but the Heiyan era - some 600 years prior to the classic Sengoku period.
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Postby Lord High Munchkin » Wed May 19, 2010 9:53 am

It's a reasonable, and flexible, depiction of the setting, but please remember that any time 'Land of the Samurai' mentions Buddhism... take it with a big pinch of salt.

It is actually quite bad on this topic — pretty much much along the lines of saying "Christianity must a Spirit cult as there is something in it called the 'Holy Ghost'".

Buddhism is (and always has been in all it's various forms throughout history), a mystical belief; anytime theism creeps in question it (as it's usually based on 19th century colonial sources which saw everything as either theistic or witchcraft — i.e. viewing beliefs through their own cultural lens).

If you want to in your game, the best thing to do is to take Loz's excellent Draconic Mysticism (stripping out references to Dance) and use that for Buddhism. It's a simple fix, but it's better than the theism.
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Postby cerebrolator » Wed May 19, 2010 12:26 pm

Where do I find Loz's Draconic Mysticism?
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Postby ThatGuy » Wed May 19, 2010 4:37 pm

Glorantha: Second Age.

Core rule book

MRQ2
Let's say, just for argument's sake, you're right...
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Postby Lord High Munchkin » Wed May 19, 2010 5:21 pm

You also need this:
http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/phpBB ... hp?t=43076

The hard work is in converting the theistic magic to mystical powers.
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Postby Vatras » Wed May 19, 2010 8:32 pm

There is also a very interesting rule about ki skills in the book, if we are talking about the RQ 3 book. If you are going to allow your players to attain ki skills, be careful to follow the rules about advancing them, and don't allow IRs for those (only the natural occuring crits in dangerous situations).
The idea is that someone really masters a skill (needs to have 100 to start), and can then do amazing feats. The thing can be seen in many eastern movies, very often featuring in martial arts, where someone splits rocks with his bare hand, runs up a vertical wall, or vanishes in plain sight. Using the skill did cost 1 personal MP every instance, which sets a clear limit.

Our barbarian fighter (styled after Conan, so no magic use) at least loved the concept - he said it made him feel still powerful in the later game, where spellcasters often dominate (even if he had but two such skills).
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Postby Lord High Munchkin » Wed May 19, 2010 11:02 pm

Legendary abilities function rather like that now in MRQII (with the Hero Point cost to gain from some impressed master, high skill requisites, and MP cost to use).
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Postby cerebrolator » Thu May 20, 2010 1:09 am

ThatGuy wrote:Glorantha: Second Age.

Core rule book

MRQ2
Where in the MRQII Core rule book do you find it? The closest thing that I can find is the cult writeup of Orlanth the Dragon but that doesn't quite seem to fit. I don't claim to be an expert on Buddhism but I did live in Japan for a few years and I don't remember hearing legends of monks calling lightening strikes. Of course, if you know of lightening wielding monks, I'd love to know.

I don't have any of the Glorantha books. Do they have lots of cults and grimoires in them? I really like RQII but I find the cults and grimoires to be very time consuming to make.
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Postby ThatGuy » Thu May 20, 2010 1:34 am

cerebrolator wrote:
ThatGuy wrote:Glorantha: Second Age.

Core rule book

MRQ2
Where in the MRQII Core rule book do you find it?

I don't have any of the Glorantha books. Do they have lots of cults and grimoires in them? I really like RQII but I find the cults and grimoires to be very time consuming to make.
The Glorantha: Second Age is a core rulebook, for Glorantha.

I wasn't talking about the MRQ2 Core rulebook. Sorry if that was confusing...
Let's say, just for argument's sake, you're right...
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Postby cerebrolator » Thu May 20, 2010 3:19 am

No problem. So many good books and so little money. :(
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Postby Lord High Munchkin » Thu May 20, 2010 9:14 am

I'd be very surprised if you could find any tales of monks "calling" down lightning.... The question to ask is really why would they call it, for what use (and they certainly wouldn't call it from a god, a "mere" deva, Japanese: ten pl. tenbu — a mundane entity)?

Buddhist "magic" is really a by-product out-growth of spiritual development through mystical practice (that's why 'Draconic Illumination' and Dragon magic is a good fit to represent it). Other beliefs' practitioners can sometimes also achieve these, but lacking understanding, typically squander the amassed virtue in non-spiritual use of the powers.

As to other "magic", it would be seen by Buddhists as ultimately just parlour tricks and the work of spirits invisibly moving things about so that sorcerers hubristically think they are casting spells that seem to "do" things (but really it's the spirits amusing themselves by playing along).
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Postby GianniVacca » Thu May 20, 2010 9:29 pm

Lord High Munchkin wrote: Buddhist "magic" is really a by-product out-growth of spiritual development through mystical practice (that's why 'Draconic Illumination' and Dragon magic is a good fit to represent it). Other beliefs' practitioners can sometimes also achieve these, but lacking understanding, typically squander the amassed virtue in non-spiritual use of the powers.

As to other "magic", it would be seen by Buddhists as ultimately just parlour tricks and the work of spirits invisibly moving things about so that sorcerers hubristically think they are casting spells that seem to "do" things (but really it's the spirits amusing themselves by playing along).
This is true for mainstream Buddhism but Esoteric Buddhism (e.g. Shingon) certainly makes use of magic.
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Postby Lord High Munchkin » Fri May 21, 2010 8:42 am

No, "right-handed" tantrics (i.e. such as Shingon) although they make use of mudra and dharani, these are not "spells" in the Western understanding of the word.

The closest (and probably best) RuneQuest simulation would be as short-term enchantments to provide boosts and advantages to immediate actions (ideally "action" in the Buddhist sense of the word).

However they are not "spells", it's probably best to think of them as practical, physical techniques to augment spiritual practice. For example, one performs the ritual motions and makes a mudra to focus the mind to a particular view, which in turn might allow mahamudra (i.e. the spiritual powers). The mudra or dharani do not themselves make the effect.

In many ways it's a different understanding of reality from theistic magic. Inwards-outwards, as opposed to outwards-inwards.
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Postby cerebrolator » Fri May 21, 2010 12:06 pm

How would you handle Shintoism? MRQII is the only version of runequest that I own. Land of Samurai appears to make the kami into sorcerers so that a Shinto priest is not casting the spells himself but the kami is casting them for him. RQII handles spirit magic differently by granting abilities to the spirit mage based on what spirits he has access to. Which method do you think fits better?
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Postby rust » Fri May 21, 2010 12:19 pm

cerebrolator wrote: Which method do you think fits better?
A Shinto priest should have to ask the Kami to cause the magical effects
for him, he should normally not be able to influence the reality through
his own magical powers.

In a way, Shinto priests are basically shamans of a highly developed ani-
mistic religion, and as with all shamans their only real magical power is
their ability to contact the spirits and ask them for their help.

However, almost all Asian religions or philosophies are non-exclusive, so
a Shinto priest could well have learned a bit of any other magical or re-
ligious tradition, too. While the ability to cast true spells would contradict
his world view, some people can live well with such contradictions.
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Postby Lord High Munchkin » Fri May 21, 2010 12:38 pm

The common RPG trope that sorcerers and magic practitioners actually perform the magic themselves, and it is this individual intervention that causes the effect, is largely a Western concept (there are exceptions, but as we are talking about Japan...).

Another thing to remember is that, generally, the less focussed (as well as lower down in hierarchy) a "mage/practicioner" is in a particular tradition (be it Shinto, Buddhism, or Ainu kamui traditions), the more likely they are to practice a "mixed" form of activity.

Luckily that is largely modelled in MRQII anyway!

Lastly, there are very few things that make one definitively "non-Buddhist"... but belief in a personal "soul", or atman (to use the Sanskrit term) is one of them (there are more recent discourses and debated teachings on the subject, but they are much later than the periods we are talking about). Sadly this rejection of "soul" would make forming a Pact with a deva impossible for a dedicated Buddhist.
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Postby rust » Fri May 21, 2010 1:16 pm

Lord High Munchkin wrote: Sadly this rejection of "soul" would make forming a Pact with a deva impossible for a dedicated Buddhist.
I am not certain, because I could imagine something that would come ve-
ry close to a kind of pact with a Yidam / Ishta-Deva - provided one would
see the Yidam / Ishta-Deva as a real and independent entity.
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Postby Mugen » Fri May 21, 2010 1:22 pm

Lord High Munchkin wrote:The common RPG trope that sorcerers and magic practitioners actually perform the magic themselves, and it is this individual intervention that causes the effect, is largely a Western concept (there are exceptions, but as we are talking about Japan...).
I think this is not only a "western" concept, but also a very modern one.
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Postby rust » Fri May 21, 2010 1:43 pm

Mugen wrote: I think this is not only a "western" concept, but also a very modern one.
Indeed, for example much of Renaissance magic was based on the idea
to have to conjure angels or demons to do the actual magic, with the va-
rious creatures of the Christian mythology replacing the spirits that a tra-
ditional shaman would have contacted.

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