# Immortal characters

#### Utgardloki

##### Mongoose
There can only be one.

I was watching Highlander today, and thinking, "How would I implement one of those "highlander" immortals in Runequest?

The big problem is figuring out how high an immortal character could improve his skill level. The "highlanders" are even worse, since when one of them kills another, he gains all of his foe's experience.

I did some calculations, and concluded that a 400 year old "highlander" could very easily have a Sword ability at 720% or even higher, much much higher. With a 72% chance of getting a critical hit, I ought to make up rules for Ultra-Criticals.

Fortunately for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Vampires are a lot easier to handle with my theories, since they don't acquire the experience of their defeated foes, and they spend so much time whining that they don't raise their skills as rapidly in any event. A 400 year old vampire would be more likely to have a combat ability at around 120%.

My theory is that a character's experience increases by the square root of his age, so if character A is four times as old as character B, she has twice as much experience. For a human-level intellect, advancement slows down to 1/3 after reaching 100% skill level, and I am judging that a motivated human can reach approximately 100% skill level over a 50 year career. (Most don't, but I can assume that vampires and highlanders are motivated.)

Vampires are only active for half the day, and spend a lot of time whining, so they only advance 1/3 as rapidly as a "normal" immortal. A 400 year old vampire has lived for 8 times as long as the benchmark 50 year career, so he's gained 2.828 times the experience. Subtracting 1 and then multiplying by 100 to represent the first "time" was used to gain 100%, he's got 182.8 more "points" which are divided by 3 because he's advancing only 1/3 as rapidly after reaching 100. That's about 60.9, but I divide by 3 again because vampires advance 1/3 as rapidly as other immortals, so he has 20 points over 100 or about 120%.

An individual may vary considerably from the average, of course.

A 400 year old highlander will, on the average, work his skill up to 160% by his own experience. But a highlander can also gain the experience of his defeated enemies. I assume that if a highlander defeats a more skilled highlander (which is probably not likely), he gains the higher skill, plus the benefit of where he's learned things his foe has not. If he defeats a less skilled highlander (which happens more often), he's already learned most of what his opponent learned, but there may be a few tricks and techniques that are new to him. So I'll assume a highlander will be able to add 1/5 the lower score to the higher score, and that will be his new skill level. Thus if a highlander with 160% defeats another highlander with 160%, he will gain 32 points, and be at 192% after the battle.

I just guessed that the average highlander will have to defeat 2d6-2 highlanders every 100 years, or an average of 5. Good highlanders probably don't get into as many fights, so maybe they average 1d6-1 victories, while evil highlanders average 3d6-3. Just arbitrarily, I assume the average highlander gains 20 points after a battle. So a 400 year old evil highlander will have defeated 28 enemies and gained 20 points from each, for a total of 560 points, plus the 160 points he earned from his own experience. His total sword ability is something like 720%.

Has anybody else considered how to determine the abilities of ancient characters? Do my numbers seem reasonable or way off base? I'm open to any feedback or considerations.

I'd simply give an immediate check in every skill the defeated has at at least half as much in, and a second check in anything the defeated has more in, and a third if he had more than 3 times the skill level. Plus a check in any attribute he's got more of.

There are a bunch of immortals in Glorantha, but as a rule, they have to follow some pretty strict social code or they lose their immortality (which usually precludes them interacting with mortals).

Stats are given for Ralzakark in Dorastor, Land of Doom, and he tops out around 350% in weapon skills -- he's pretty close to an immortal, and has been around more than 400 years by the time he runs into Oddi the Keen.

Hrm... Zzabur is also an immortal too -- I wonder what % in the various Sorcery skills he would need to cast The Closing (Duration/Range/Intensity) -- assuming he did do it (which is pretty much a given, but with unknown augmentation).

AKAramis said:
I'd simply give an immediate check in every skill the defeated has at at least half as much in, and a second check in anything the defeated has more in, and a third if he had more than 3 times the skill level. Plus a check in any attribute he's got more of.

Uh, no checks anymore. Do you want to give out improvement rolls instead?

Consider the terms synonomous in MRQ....

Cause in prior, you only got one check, no matter what!

Well, people do sleep, but while we sleep, our minds are actually very actively processing information from the previous day. In fact, in D&D I considered sleep to be an essential part of earning XP, and only gave out XP after an "honest night's sleep".

Vampires downtime is different, in my opinion. Vampires are really dead. When the sun comes up, a vampire is inactive. Nothing happens; he is like a corpse. Therefore the downtime does not count as part of their lifetime and a vampire is only half as old as his age would indicate, compared to other immortals.

Urox said:
Hrm... Zzabur is also an immortal too -- I wonder what % in the various Sorcery skills he would need to cast The Closing (Duration/Range/Intensity) -- assuming he did do it (which is pretty much a given, but with unknown augmentation).
That's interesting, considering that he's pretty much still semi-active in the 2nd age. Immortality was actually easy enough to achieve with RQ3 sorcery. Hmmmm - the thought of an unknown number of immortals running loose in Glorantha but not bound by the Compromise gives me the chills. No wonder the God Learners were wiped out.....

Keep in mind that it is only the Highlanders, with their ability to take the experience of their defeated enemies. that are able to build up to insanely high skill levels in only a few hundred years.

A "normal" 400 year old immortal would have a skill level closer to 160%. High enough to be noticed, but not as fantastically undefeatable as a 720% score.

A 3000 year old "normal" immortal would likely have a skill level of around 775%, so you'd have to watch out for those. I don't recall, however, how old Glorantha is in the Second Age, or how long an Age is in Glorantha.

The last date in my original Runequest book (1613) would correlate with a 567% level.

Just remember, A significant minority (which will probably grow) don't do Glorantha...

And it's pretty obvious that that was the intent of this thread... NOT a gloranthan, but a RQ Highlander.

King Amenjar said:
Utgardloki said:
Vampires are only active for half the day
Don't living people sleep?

Immortals (at least the Highlander ones) don't NEED to sleep (although it sends them loopy if they don't) they don't even need to eat.

One of the punishments that can be metered out upon an Immortal would be literally to lock them away in a dungeon with no water or food for a couple of centuries. They don't die, but they certainly aren't too healthy looking when you let them out.

Utgardloki said:
Keep in mind that it is only the Highlanders, with their ability to take the experience of their defeated enemies. that are able to build up to insanely high skill levels in only a few hundred years.

A "normal" 400 year old immortal would have a skill level closer to 160%. High enough to be noticed, but not as fantastically undefeatable as a 720% score.

A 3000 year old "normal" immortal would likely have a skill level of around 775%, so you'd have to watch out for those. I don't recall, however, how old Glorantha is in the Second Age, or how long an Age is in Glorantha.

The last date in my original Runequest book (1613) would correlate with a 567% level.

Actually there are lots of things to consider.

According to the Background for Highlander, most Highlanders combat skills are based upon their ability to use the quickening. So their skill levels would have a 'cap' based on their level of power (5 X Pow for example).

When an Immortal kills another Immortal, his POW would increase (thereby increasing his skill Cap), basically - the more an Immortal fights and wins the more skilled he gets (which is confirmed by both the TV series and the Films) its NOT just a matter of how old they are.

Generally (again from watching the Films and the Series) Immortals tend to learn new skills over the ages, I imagine to offset the boredom . . . . . .

Actually, my thread was meant to be a general discussion of immortal characters. I just used highlanders and vampires as examples.

I happen to be planning on running a modern game, in which highlanders and vampires could be encountered as NPCs. I'm not sure if RQ would be the best vehicle for a highlander game. In fact, I'm not sure what would be the best vehicle for a game with highlander PCs. Even D&D tends to break down at the epic level, which is where highlanders would come in.

Amazons are also immortal in my setting, and some of them are as much as a few thousand years old. They, perhaps, would be "normal" immortals.

But I think this thread is applicable to Glorantha and other settings.

Im a big Higlander Fan personally, and its got me thinking.

The RQ Combat System would lend itself well (with a few tweaks) to elaborate swordplay.

Amazons being immortal, nice - a sort of 'Fountain of Youth' dealy is it?

Thats a TOTALLY different "cup of tea" Lol.

Actually there are lots of things to consider.

According to the Background for Highlander, most Highlanders combat skills are based upon their ability to use the quickening. So their skill levels would have a 'cap' based on their level of power (5 X Pow for example).

When an Immortal kills another Immortal, his POW would increase (thereby increasing his skill Cap), basically - the more an Immortal fights and wins the more skilled he gets (which is confirmed by both the TV series and the Films) its NOT just a matter of how old they are.

Generally (again from watching the Films and the Series) Immortals tend to learn new skills over the ages, I imagine to offset the boredom

In general, I am using age as an indication of how much opportunity an immortal would have to study new skills, as well as to win combats in the case of a highlander. For an immortal who has been imprisoned behind a brick wall for 2,000 years, I'd subtract that time from the immortal's age to determine his skill levels.

(Although he might have an insanely high skill in Haiku Poetry...., or Dirty Limericks...)

You're missing an opportunity though, for scenarios and players.

Making players take decisions they normally wouldn't (I.E. Fighting 'good' Immortals just to survive fighting an 'Evil' Immortal later on).

Creating characters with split personalities, Immortals with hirelings to aid them take on stronger characters.

And lots more (if I sit and think about it Lol).

I've only seen one episode of Highlander, myself. It just is the spark that got me thinking.

A highlander-style enemy would certainly make mortal PCs nervous. I mean, what do you do when a Highlander wants to kill you?

(I suppose one thing you could do is to lock him up and arrange that he gets out after you die, so he can't take revenge against you. That would really annoy him.)

I agree that a Highlander campaign would be cool. I'm not prepared to run one, and Highlanders would be WAY too powerful to be PCs in the campaign that I am contemplating.

Even a young Highlander would have an unfair potential to gain power, if he was the only Highlander in the party.

Oh god yes, in a normal game quite beyond reasonable.

The Immortals of Highlander CAN NOT be all that powerful, or the non-immortals would have ganged up to wipe them out.

I mean, it's easy enough to test for... A quick knife to the arm.

Also they don't seem to be much stronger overall than their kin.

So... they will not tend to be all that much tougher, and are easily disabled. It only takes a few tries before discovering that taking the head off ends the party.

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