# Is RuneQuest Broken? Here's Why...

#### iamtim

##### Mongoose
I want to complile one master list of everything that's objectively broken with RuneQuest. Things like the halving mechanic where, under certain circumstances, a skill increase results in decreased success chances. I don't want a bunch of subjective design issues; we'll do those in another thread when this one peters out. But let's get all of the actually broken RuneQuest bits into one thread instead of a handful of threads strewn about the forum.

Hi Iamtim,

I posted a starter of this last Sunday under a separate thread. My points there still hold, so I'll quote myself and paste them below.

1.) 100%+ skills & the "halving rule"
Mathematically, this just doesn't work. There are numerous examples of why on the thread I (rather inadvertently...) started. It's no use saying that "the ratios remain the same" - mathematically, you have a lower chance of hitting (or parrying, for that matter) a trollkin if you have a 120% chance (ie 60% after halving) weapon skill than if you have a 90%. It's plain maths.
2.) Critical Damage
This is partly "opinion", but I would say this is broken. The fact that Criticals do not ignore armour and only cause maximum damage (rather than double) makes them more or less redundant - in combat. Note that for non-opposed rolls outside combat (Crafting Boats, for example), the criticals work fine, if a bit vague (no vaguer than previous editions tho )
3.) The Opposed Parry / Dodge Rolls
COMMENT: THIS ONE HAS BEEN CLEARED UP BY MATT AT MONGOOSE
Please could Mongoose clarify what's supposed to happen when the Attacker rolls a Critical on the attack roll and then only a Success or Failure against the Defender's failed "parry" roll. The wording is, "Attack Succeeds as Normal" - can you confirm whether this remains a Critical, or is downgraded to a Normal Success. Also, what is the case if the Attacker's second roll is a Critical versus the Defender's failed "parry" roll. The wording is "Attack succeeds and becomes critical hit" - does this mean "No Change", and the attack remains a Critical, or should it become a "Double Critical"?
BTW - could Mongoose comment on the decision to increase the number of dice rolls here? Was it the intention to slow combat down, especially with impales? Are we interpreting the rules correctly by having an Unopposed Attack roll followed by an Opposed Defense roll if the Defender elects to defend?
4.) That Skybolt Spell!
It just seems really overpowered. 3d6 damage, ignoring armour, for 3 magic points, and all the defender gets is a Dodge roll (opposed? unopposed?) - this is by far and away the most powerful attack in the whole rules (that I've found so far), and pretty much wipes the floor with the others. Admittedly you can only use it "outdoors", but hell.... Could Mongoose comment?

I'd also add the following as it feels "broken" from a Gloranthan perspective:

5.) Integrating Runes
Characters integrating Chaos runes, etc: for those of us trying to run Gloranthan games, we could really use some pointers here. Is the intention that under normal circumstances no sane character should be integrating a Chaos Rune?

Cheers,

Sarah

There is nothing in the rules preventing you from integrating Chaos, but as I have said in other treads your retirement party your former cult buddies throw for you may prove fatal if you are a Storm Bull in any game I run.

I think we may see this in the Gloranthan Cults book, we have a couple of other releases to trash before then. I actually think Rune Integration feels very Gloranthan.

I'd also add the following as it feels "broken" from a Gloranthan perspective:

I think this one only feels broken from a Gloranthan perspective because the Corer rules aren't written from a Gloranthan perspective. As an OGL product, it's got to be a little generic, and the element of Chaos in a 'generic' setting could just as easily represent disorder and unpredictibility as it could represent the warping, quasi-malevolent force it is in Glorantha.

Either way, I think it's more of a setting issue, as opposed to the nuts-and-bolts issue that Tim is looking for.

sarahnewton said:
Hi Iamtim,

My name's Tim.

sarahnewton said:
I posted a starter of this last Sunday under a separate thread. My points there still hold, so I'll quote myself and paste them below.

It looks like the only objective issue is the halving rule; the rest seem pretty objective (i.e. "this seems broken" or "it doesn't work from a Gloranthan perspective"). When I start the second thread for subjective issues I'll move those over there.

But thanks for putting this list up here, I want to start compiling what is actually broken vs. what people think is broken.

If at all possible, I'd really like to keep discussion of these items out of this thread; I'm just compiling data at this point, and there's plenty of discussion about the issues in other threads.

Thanks, folks.

From a slightly different perspective, is there any intent of how the Rune magic is supposed to work in a more vanilla fantasy setting? MRQ has been advertised as fully able to support any sort of fantasy setting, so how do you use runes in a setting without gods, say? This question is an addendum to #5 in the list above.

oh, OK.

Another four:

6.) Defaulting to "Bypass Armour" tactic
I'm not sure how to summarise this neatly. Basically, with the overall increase in HP, the reduction in critical damage and the fact that it no longer ignores armour, the reduction in damage bonus, etc, etc, it is clear that it's going to be quite hard to actually damage an armoured character who is actively defending, even with critical hits, unless you use the Bypass Armour specific attack. I could provide some more concrete examples - I'm sure you get the gist. I'd like clarification if this is the intent of the rules, cos it seems unbalanced (I hesitate to use the word "broken") to me.

7.) Lack of Characteristic Rolls
This is mildly unnerving - the Weightlifting example is perhaps the best one. Now we don't have STR x 5 (or whatever) rolls, a STR 5 character with Athletics 80% can lift more weight (etc) than a STR 18 character with Athletics 20%. Likewise Poison & Disease resistance - some old, unhealthy guy with some well-used "experience points" is more immune to poison than some CON18 newbie. Just seems weird.

8.) Generic Skills Being a Bit Too Generic
"Perception", "Athletics", etc. Whatever happen to Scan, Listen, Swim, Jump, Climb, etc. This is going to get VERY weird when you start doing non-humans. You're going to get Ducks who can jump like hell, smash in doors with their bare feathers, climb tall buildings in a single squawk, or trolls who can spot secret doors a mile off, etc. My character who had a 95% Search skill is now suddenly a great wine conoisseur and can heard a flea coughing a mile away. All a bit much for me.

9.) Dodging Magic
The rules suggest a simple dodge roll is enough to avoid all damage from a Skybolt, for example. It's impossible to say whether it's meant to be an opposed roll - my guess is no. Also, there's no clear indication if a Critical on the Runecasting roll has any implication. My guess again is no. We could use clarification here.

sarahnewton said:
2.) Critical Damage
This is partly "opinion", but I would say this is broken. The fact that Criticals do not ignore armour and only cause maximum damage (rather than double) makes them more or less redundant - in combat.

You may be right on this, but I think that the critical hits must be assessed in relation with the combat system in its entirety. Could you share with us your experiences so far?

Still, the new rule would probably have made it more difficult for me to annoy the lion that I stabbed with a dagger in the head while fighting in the Massilia arena (yes, I know, "clad only in my shift"... how humiliating )

sarahnewton said:
5.) Integrating Runes
Characters integrating Chaos runes, etc: for those of us trying to run Gloranthan games, we could really use some pointers here. Is the intention that under normal circumstances no sane character should be integrating a Chaos Rune?

I a not sure whether there iwill be any problem at all there: the Rune magic seems to have been designed as a generic system, presumably the Glorantha sourcebook will contain the appropriate adaptations for the specific milieu. Time will tell...

Signy Freyasdotter

iamtim said:
I want to complile one master list of everything that's objectively broken with RuneQuest. Things like the halving mechanic where, under certain circumstances, a skill increase results in decreased success chances. I don't want a bunch of subjective design issues; we'll do those in another thread when this one peters out. But let's get all of the actually broken RuneQuest bits into one thread instead of a handful of threads strewn about the forum.

My book is definately broken. I only seem to have half of it and havn't found the other half yet. I reported this to the store I got the book from and they told me they would have it in a couple weeks.

But seriously.

Nothing is Broken per se. The halving rule has some (big in my book) drawbacks, but it has a plus, which is simplicity. It is hardly an MRQ original idea. For some people the fact that your chance of success goes down when your skill goes up over 100 is a price they are willing to pay for the simplicity. Other people hate it because of its roller coaster curve.

Combat as intended to work seems like it can work pretty well, time will tell. The most "broken" thing about the game is are the contradictions and errors in the manual.

Special and Critical successes have been combined into one type of critical that is roughly on par with the previous editions special success, as a result it has become much harder to impossible for a low skilled pc/npc with a light weapon to kill an armored foe in one shot - a major departure from previous editions. Not broken, but different.

The 'universal saving throw' resilience and all opposed tests being skill based other than stat based bugs some people. And it gets wonky at halving time too - a problem the resistance table never had.

Too many players, the improvements seem to lead to issues that were not fuggly at all in the previous version.

I think I've covered the major complaints.

sarahnewton said:
9.) Dodging Magic
The rules suggest a simple dodge roll is enough to avoid all damage from a Skybolt, for example. It's impossible to say whether it's meant to be an opposed roll - my guess is no. Also, there's no clear indication if a Critical on the Runecasting roll has any implication. My guess again is no. We could use clarification here.

The rules clearly state a critical costs 1 less MP than normal, and if it is a spell that can be resisted or dodged that attempt suffers -10%.

I think it is pretty clear the dodge/resilience/persistence test is not opposed - of course what appears clear in the rules does not always mean that is how it was intended :wink:

You may be right on this, but I think that the critical hits must be assessed in relation with the combat system in its entirety. Could you share with us your experiences so far?

Absolutely. It's a simple situation: imagine Average Joe has 5 HP on his head. He's not wearing any armour. You critical hit him on the head, he fails his parry. You're using a War Sword. You do 8 points of damage. This isn't enough to kill him; he MAY fall unconscious, if he doesn't have a good Resilience skill score. To put him out of action you have to do ANOTHER critical to his head. If he makes two consecutive Resilience checks, he is still standing and fighting!

Now, imagine Average Joe is wearing chainmail. He now has 5 points of armour. You critical hit him in the head; he takes 3 damage. He's fine. You critical hit him in the head again; he takes 3 more, down to -1. He may drop unconscious - again, down to the Resilience roll. To get him down to -5 or more, you have to critically hit him, in the head, FOUR times.

All the above is assuming he's not parrying or dodging. The only solution seems to be to use Bypass Armour on every attack when he's wearing armour, or to use a whacking great sword all the time. Either way, this seems to reduce the number of options which a character would take, railroading to a limited number of tactics. End result: everyone has 3 combat skills: Resilience, Dodge, and Greatsword, and a DEX of 21. :shock:

At the risk of being too "subjective" for Tim's liking, I believe this sucks bigtime. I'd even use the B word. :twisted:

Sarah

sarahnewton said:
imagine Average Joe has 5 HP on his head. He's not wearing any armour. You critical hit him on the head, he fails his parry. You're using a War Sword. You do 8 points of damage.

At this point, though, he loses his next 1d4 combat actions and he has to make that Resilience test every round until his head is returned to at least 1 hp, he receives First Aid, or he falls unconscious.

sarahnewton said:
If he makes two consecutive Resilience checks, he is still standing and fighting!

I don't see where you are getting that from. My book, under "Abdomen, Chest or Head" in the "Location's Hit Points reduced to -1 or more", states, "if the character remains conscious, this test will have to be repeated at the end of every Combat Round, until the location is restored to 1 hit point or more, or the character receives First Aid."

I don't see anything about two consecutive Resilience checks. Can you give me a page number?

I don't feel qualified to comment here as I hav not actually played the rules (even though I got them a bit early, Driftwood is currently in final playtest for the next Riddle of Steel supplement, so spare reading time for other RPG's has been tight!). We are holding 2 sessions this weekend, and I intend on having one tonight for the new RQ. So, hopefully I will have some comments later tonight or tomorrow.

sarahnewton said:
You may be right on this, but I think that the critical hits must be assessed in relation with the combat system in its entirety. Could you share with us your experiences so far?

Absolutely. It's a simple situation: imagine Average Joe has 5 HP on his head. He's not wearing any armour. You critical hit him on the head, he fails his parry. You're using a War Sword. You do 8 points of damage. This isn't enough to kill him; he MAY fall unconscious, if he doesn't have a good Resilience skill score. To put him out of action you have to do ANOTHER critical to his head. If he makes two consecutive Resilience checks, he is still standing and fighting!

Now, imagine Average Joe is wearing chainmail. He now has 5 points of armour. You critical hit him in the head; he takes 3 damage. He's fine. You critical hit him in the head again; he takes 3 more, down to -1. He may drop unconscious - again, down to the Resilience roll. To get him down to -5 or more, you have to critically hit him, in the head, FOUR times.

All the above is assuming he's not parrying or dodging. The only solution seems to be to use Bypass Armour on every attack when he's wearing armour, or to use a whacking great sword all the time. Either way, this seems to reduce the number of options which a character would take, railroading to a limited number of tactics. End result: everyone has 3 combat skills: Resilience, Dodge, and Greatsword, and a DEX of 21. :shock:

At the risk of being too "subjective" for Tim's liking, I believe this sucks bigtime. I'd even use the B word. :twisted:

Sarah

However if you use bypass armour all the time then the locations your blows will be landing will be random, which means it is likely to take a lot more criticals than that, and then god help you if your opponent has hit locations like a Walktapus. You could with a bit of bad luck crit one of those up to 16 times (8 humanoid locations + 8 tentacles) and still not manage to disable a single location :shock:

Edit: I forgot it would also be regenerating damage, in each location I presume, that fight could go on for a while, probably until everyone runs out of fatigue or gives up and goes home.

sarahnewton said:
7.) Lack of Characteristic Rolls
This is mildly unnerving - the Weightlifting example is perhaps the best one. Now we don't have STR x 5 (or whatever) rolls, a STR 5 character with Athletics 80% can lift more weight (etc) than a STR 18 character with Athletics 20%. Likewise Poison & Disease resistance - some old, unhealthy guy with some well-used "experience points" is more immune to poison than some CON18 newbie. Just seems weird.

8.) Generic Skills Being a Bit Too Generic
"Perception", "Athletics", etc. Whatever happen to Scan, Listen, Swim, Jump, Climb, etc. This is going to get VERY weird when you start doing non-humans. You're going to get Ducks who can jump like hell, smash in doors with their bare feathers, climb tall buildings in a single squawk, or trolls who can spot secret doors a mile off, etc. My character who had a 95% Search skill is now suddenly a great wine conoisseur and can heard a flea coughing a mile away. All a bit much for me.[/quote

In response to 7. Basic skills are based on Attributes, every character has them at Base value. You can either a) use a skill that makes sense or b) use an attribute. Either way with the Opposed Roll System, you can easily determine who succeeds. Also, if there is large disparity between attributes, the GM can simply use the Difficulty & Haste Mods, to make the roll easier for the Highest Score. This isn't broken, it just isn't to everyone's taste.

In response to 8. No skill list will please everyone. For example I think Classic Unisystem has too many skills & Cinematic has to few. Again this isn't a rules break, merely personal preference.

Doc

I think the characteristic rolls were tossed aside, because many playable races had characteristics with associated characteristic rolls exceeding 100%. That being said, the solution begins characters too weak for my tastes.

I think the characteristic rolls were tossed aside, because many playable races had characteristics with associated characteristic rolls exceeding 100%

Pfft. I'm sure they could have come up with some sort of 'halving' rule for those... :?

I think the term "broken" is misleading. For one thing, it sort of suggests that it once worked, and now it doesn't. I don't think that is the case.

I believe that the changes in the game system and effects of those changes were the result of a deliberate choice, rather than any oversight. I'm sure at least one copy of the previous edtions of RQ was available to the designers, so things like characteristic rolls, special successes, charge attacks useing mounts damage bonus, and the resistance table were there for the taking.

The chose not to include those things and instead incorporate ideas of thier own. They wanted it this way.

That doesn't make it "broken". It does make it a different game.

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