[Runequest] Runequest Digest, Vol 16, Issue 9

Nikk Effingham nikk.effingham at gmail.com
Wed Aug 19 02:28:05 EST 2009

> Nobody ever really played shamans, and while occasionally someone would run
> up against a spirit in a published module, the resolution of these fights
> was so problematic that I tended to veer away from them whenever possible.
> People would use their allied spirits etc just as spell storage/mana
> batteries.

Yeah, I remember my players lamenting that with no shaman they were
spirit susceptible. Screw 'em, they should load up on more spirit
screen and spirit block spells. You should also consider introducing
spells to increase your attack chance with spirit combat - IIRC there
are none in the original RQ rules. As an aside, some people have
introduced 'spirit weapons' into their games that add to your damage
in spirit combat. I'd recommend treading carefully with that kinda

> 1) RQ3 says a spirit has to materialize to attack a mundane creature (ie a
> character), and this takes a round.  Does that mean that essentially the
> players get a free round of swinging at it while it's materializing?  What
> are it's hp in material form?  It seems that if we postulate that it's MP
> are it's HP, spirits will never really successfully attack ANYTHING, since
> they have no armor and a couple of decent sword whacks by any schlub will
> put paid to even a strong 16POW spirit.  Further, this just seems odd, since
> my conceptualization of spirits would be that thwhacking at them with swords
> and clubs seems like it shouldn't affect them at all.

As far as I know, you can't attack them with weapons. When they
'materialise' I've always taken it as meaning that their ethreal image
appears on the mundane world, previous to which they are invisible
except to those with the appropriate magic sight (Mystic Vision, Soul
Sight etc.). Obviously if you allow players to attack spirits with
weapons, they would be naff (I made the error of giving one player a
magic sword that could strike spirits, rendering them useless from
then on until he eventually lost it on a HeroQuest. Fun times.)

> 2) As I understand it, spirit combat in its most basic form is MP vs MP for
> the success chance, a success draining 1d3 mp from the target.  Both the
> attacker and defender roll simultaneously, the effects to each are applied
> before the next 'round'.

Sounds right.

>Both sides keep it up until one or the other is
> drained of MP.  Each round, the 'success chance' for each opponent is
> recalculated.   How fast does this occur?  Does each "round" of spirit
> combat take the same time as a "round" of melee?

I always assumed that the rounds were the same in as combat rounds.
You could probably do spirit combat on SR 10. In my own game, where I
house ruled it so all characters have two actions a round, I played
that you could get in two spirit attacks, one on SR 5 and one on SR
10. Of course, attacking the spirit meant sacrificing another action.
I don't think this was a particularly good way to go about it, and I
expect other people will have better suggestions.

>Do the drained MP actually
> go away, or is that just a handy mechanic to use to measure resistance to
> possession?

I take it they go away.

>I'd presume you use current MP, but that would have the
> contrarian effect of making heavy magic-users MORE vulnerable to spirits,
> because they'd be spending their MP.  It seems odd that Gandalf, exhausted
> from casting a bunch of spells (and down to a handful of MP), could be be
> easily possessed by some puny POW 12 ghost passing by.

Gandalf would probably have lots of matrices, ergo not dip into his
own MP supply. And it kinda makes sense, if after draining your
personal reserves you must be hard pressed and open to spiritual

> 3) How fast does a spirit move?

Is that not listed in the monsters book? I thought it was.

>If they have to incorporate to attack, are
> they considered flying while corporeal?  Can you really 'run away' from a
> spirit attack?

If you were faster enough, sure why not?

>What if you're on a horse or something else fast?

If the animal's move rate is faster than the spirit's, you're away.
But then I always thought the movement rules in RQ were a bit funny
anyhow (in that everyone of the same race moves at exactly the same
speed - no Bolt's in RQ! - and you can never run faster or have a
chance of catching someone even marginally faster than you).

> What
> other physical actions can a character perform while they are in spirit
> combat?  In the sense of '2 actions per character, attack, parry, or dodge'
> system, would we consider 'make a spirit attack' as one of them?  Could
> they, for example, make a spirit attack and dodge a spear?  Are there any
> modifiers to spirit attack success?  I can't imagine physical position would
> batter (ie attacking from above/behind) but what about target sleeping?
> Befuddled?  Demoralized?

Good question. As I say, I ruled above that attacking (but not
defending) in spirit combat cost an action. It had its upsides and
downsides as a rule.

> 4) can someone else help someone resist a spirit attack?  My understanding
> is that only spirits and shaman's fetches can initiate spirit combat, so by
> my ruling, no, another mundane character COULDN'T 'attack' an attacking
> spirit, they can only get involved when a spirit attacks them first.

That sounds correct to me.

> 5) a disease spirit, do they just 'carry' the disease, or are they ACTUALLY
> the disease (ie if they possess someone, they get the disease, but what if
> the spirit leaves to attack someone else?  Does the first victim still have
> the disease?)

If the spirit leaves, the disease leaves too. See Lords of Terror for
more on disease spirits.

> 6) if a character dies, what happens to his allied spirit?  Does it go away
> too?

I'd rule that once seven days are up, and the chance of ressurection
is lost, the allied spirit divine intervents its way back home.

>Does it (if in combat) continue to fight to help their master's group
> in hopes that maybe their master could be saved/rezzed?  What if it's in an
> inanimate object like a storm bull's helmet?  In this example, what in
> particular would a Humakt spirit do - rezzing being prohibited by prior
> geas?

I've always ruled that allied spirits in inanimate objects can't
really do anything unless their master is alive, awake and basically
available as a 'spotter' for their spells. Upside is, inanimate
objects rarely get destroyed (unless you play that weapons take
damage, in which case them poor Humakti should never wield the sword
with their allied spirit in!). Animals, I rule, get to do more and act
by themselves even when their master isn't around. Downside is, they
die more often and are a bitch to get back.

> 7) Rune Lords and Priests can cast spells through their allied spirits, who
> are intelligent.  I'd presume that this means that each - the Rune Lord and
> the spirit - get to declare independent actions for the upcoming round.

That's how I played it.

> Could they both cast the same spell in the same round?

Well, unless it's a rune spell that gets used up and needs to be
reprayed for when cast, I'd say yes.

>If the RL casts a
> spell 'through' the spirit, does this use the spirit's action for that round
> too?

I don't see it as the RL casting the spell through the spirit, but
more being in Mindlink with the spirit, which then permits it to cast
the spells that the RL knows. So in casting the spell it uses up the
allied spirits' action.

>Can the allied spirit cast the whole repertoire of the character's
> spells?


>What if the character is unconscious?  Dead?

Good question. I suppose I've always played that this doesn't matter,
but I think that as it's a Mindlink then when the RL dies the spirit
can no longer cast that magic.

>Divine magic too?

Sure. I'm starting to wonder now whether the allied spirit being in
mindlink is part of the official rules, or something I house ruled in
years ago. Anyone got a copy of Gods of Glorantha to hand?

> Does it matter whether the allied spirit's INT is 'holding' the spell or the
> character for any reason?  What if the allied spirit's inhabited body gets
> obliterated? (I'm thinking about a Chalana Arroy priestess with a butterfly
> who walks through a warding spell...zzzt, dead butterfly, no?)

If the allied spirit gets killed, off it goes, and you'd better think
long and ahrd how to explain it to the temple priests and beg for the
chance to get another one (cue adventure hook).


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