Saturday, 30 August 2008

Magic in the West

You may recall that, at Tentacles and Continuum, I (among others) said that Heroes of Malkion would work just fine with HQ2. You may also recall that, in this blog, I was unclear as to how that would be the case. Well, it turns out that it isn't the case; the rule sets are not really compatible at that level. (This, incidentally, doesn't mean that, for example, Blood Over Gold or Thunder Rebels can't be used with HQ2 - just that you'll also need a copy of HQ1 to make full sense of the rulesy bits).

But, fear not! I've spent the last weekend going through the draft of HoM, making sure that, when you get to see it, it is fully compatible with the new rules. There was quite a lot more to be done than at first appeared to be the case. This is because the HQ2 rulebook has very little information on Glorantha and its workings - understandably, because it's a generic rulebook, not a worldbook. There are a lot of things about the West, and Glorantha in general, that were in HQ1, but won't be in the second edition. All of that information had to be repeated, for the book to be stand-alone with the new ruleset.

However, all of that is now done, and what I suspect many people will be interested in is how Western magic works with the new rune-centred approach of the second edition. Here's the quick run-down:

  • Knight, noble, and to a lesser extent, commoner heroes, typically gain their magic by following a saint. This gives them access to one rune and one grimoire (spell book) associated with that rune. For example, a follower of Saint Xemela has the Harmony rune, and a book containing healing spells.
  • Members of the clergy practice their magic through holding religious services. This gives them access to one rune, and a set of community-based spells contained in one or more holy scriptures with that same rune. For example, a Rokari vicar has the Law rune, and uses the communal blessings and curses found in the scriptures of his Church. Bishops, incidentally, can further boost their magic by accessing the total devotional energy of their diocese.
  • Professional wizards use exactly the same magical rules as followers of saints, but they have up to three runes, and at least one grimoire for each rune.
  • It is generally possible to follow more than one saint, or be both a clergyman and follow a saint; but you cannot have more than three runes in total.
  • The majority of non-heroic people gain magical benefits from the blessings of the clergy, and use individual spells learned from folk wisdom, or the like. They usually don't have specific runes.
Note that 'adept' and 'mage' are now magical levels, not professions. Whether you're following a saint, a scripture, or a school of wizardry, you're still an adept - and, with study, you can become a mage. Your Church might not want to let you do this, of course, but the option is there. Basically, the same rules apply to everyone, and those of you confused by the first edition wizardry rules will hopefully find these easier to follow.

In short, quite a lot of work for me, in updating it all, but the end result should be simpler magic rules that are easier to use.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Continuum Podcast

A podcast from Continuum is now available online here. I'm on for around five minutes out of 90, and there's probably not much new here, either. But the podcast is generally worth listening to, as an update of what the HeroQuest writers are up to as a group. Kudos to Darran Simms for producing this.

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Post-Continuum Post

Over the last three days I attended the glorious collection of gaming fun that was Continuum 2008. I didn't seem to have as much planned for this year as usual, but I still managed to enjoy myself, and get quite a few things done. And quite large quantities of cider[1] were consumed, including some Weston's Old Rosie, which was certainly a pleasant change from the usual draught stuff. Aside from Glorantha and related matters, topics ranged through Doctor Who, prog rock, some stuff about computers that I really didn't understand, and cricket. Some of which, at least, just goes to prove that we're thoroughly British! And even just socialising, there is definitely something to be said for a place where someone can not only use the word 'chalcolithic' in casual conversation, but where everybody present knows exactly what it means...

I spent much of the first 24 hours answering the question "when is Heroes of Malkion coming out?" which at least confirms that there is definitely interest in this! On the Saturday morning, I took part in a panel on the future of Glorantha, in which all the books currently planned for the setting were discussed. My own segment was relatively short, and added nothing that is new to readers of this blog, but you will be able to hear a recording of it all online soon, courtesy of Darran Simms. I'll post a more specific link once it's available.

The biggest announcement in that respect was the new magic system. For those of you who don't know, HeroQuest v2 (or whatever the final title will be) will be a generic rulebook, with only a few pages of Gloranthan material in the back. So, although there will be a brief summary of magic included in that, the full system will debut in Cults of Sartar. It's a simpler system than the old one, although largely compatible. Obviously, CoS will focus on theism (pfft! damn pagans!), as practised by the Heortlings. Which means that I don't know exactly how it will affect the wizardry that is the focus of my books. Because HoM, in particular, is already well past the 'final draft' stage, it will use the existing magic rules. I'm assured that this will not have any effect, and that the old and new versions are fully compatible, so far as the cult write-ups are concerned, although I have to confess to not being entirely sure how this is so.

It does, however, turn out that the maps and annotations for LotW3 that I've been working on for the last two months will have to be redone, possibly from scratch. Nuts.

Sunday morning, and I just managed to get to "Murder at the Greydog Inn" without falling asleep. A freeform at 9:30 in the morning? Hmm. I was playing a dodgy Sun Domer trying to smuggle drugs into the Lunar Empire. Unfortunately, my contact was rumbled early on by the Lunar officials, so, while I did try to warn him, we were under too much observation to get much done in that regard. Doubly unfortunately, he turned out to be the murderer, and gave me up to the Lunars after an Ernaldan (of all people) threatened to use a red-hot poker on him if he didn't. Which I guess would convince me, too.

Because the game wrapped at that point, I'm unclear whether I died in glorious battle against my cross-dressing commanding officer, or whether I got arrested and sentenced to one of those Retirement Towers that they have in Sun County. A word of advice to the organisers, though, if they're reading this: for at least half an hour out of the three hour game, non-clan members have nothing to do, except sit about in a corridor twiddling their thumbs while everyone else goes off to resolve the plot in a closed room. Although the rest of the game is great fun, you might want to fix that if you run it again.

Later on, I took part in a tabletop game run by Ian Cooper, although, sadly, exhaustion was catching up on me towards the end. We used the new system for resolving extended contests, which I'd previously tried out at Tentacles, and is, to my mind at least, a great improvement over that in earlier editions. Once again, I played a Healer, which meant a lot of use of the new "Assist" rules, especially since this game was fairly combat-heavy (or at least was before I became to exhausted to continue... I imagine that Ian had rather more planned).

And then, in the evening, came the Storytelling, which got a good audience, having been relatively sparse in recent years. I couldn't match Malk Williams' ballads for quality and sheer inherent coolness (what a pity that this wasn't recorded, like the seminars... although, as a non-expert, I'm unsure whether the sound quality of podcasting equipment would be sufficient to really bring the effect across or not). Anyway, I had the unenviable task of following Malk's first ballad, and performed my new Vadrus story. It needs a little more work, I think, but it went down well, and I'll post it to Mything Links when I have the time. Technology permitting, I may also figure out a way of recording it and posting the sound file, since, as with all Vadrus stories, it's far better to hear performed out loud than simply to read as a text file.

With a little time left over, I received a request to reprise "Enkoshons the Dragon", which I have performed at a number of cons over the years, ever since I first did so (to a shocked audience!) at Scotscon in 2003. Even those who had heard it before seemed to appreciate it, and I had some very positive comments from those who hadn't. The Storytelling concluded with a new (to me, anyway) Griselda story by Oliver Dickinson, who inspired so many of us to get involved in Glorantha in the first place.

Following that, and the obligatory Closing Ceremony, there was much more cider, plus an impromptu barbecue laid on by Charlie Krank. During that, I got into a conversation on my coming books with Michael Cule. He had a few valid concerns that, I fear, the books won't address, so I'll try and do so in coming blogs here. Even so, it was an interesting and worthwhile discussion. Or so it seemed at two in the morning, when you're full of cider and roast pork...

All in all, many kudos to the organisers, and I'll definitely be back in 2010, for what will be the 18th anniversary of the convention (counting Convulsion, but not the earlier event in Cambridge). If anyone is reading this who hasn't been, and who enjoys roleplaying, I'd recommend that you do the same.

[1] If you're American, and are thinking, "oh goody, Tibble's is a fine teetotal chap that only drinks cloudy apple juice," then... yes, of course I am. (Nods unconvincingly). :)