[Runequest] Spirit combat - lots and lots and lots of questions.

strobus at sympatico.ca strobus at sympatico.ca
Wed Aug 19 03:47:54 EST 2009

I can answer a few of these without my rulebooks. As I see it, Nikk's answers are correct, so I'll try not to duplicate them, but rather add to them.

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.


What Nikk said about materializing. I think this means appearing on the mundane plane from the spirit plane, perhaps becoming visible too. But it does not mean that people can attack the spirit with weapons.

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'.  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?  Do the drained MP actually go away, or is that just a handy mechanic to use to measure resistance to possession?  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.  What about disease spirits, who 'attack' a targets stat (like CON), do they then still burn MP away?  That would seem odd, too.   


When in spirit combat, your MP does go down, and with every decrease you become more vulnerable. If you spiritually weaken yourself with spell casting, then you become more vulnerable to spirit attack. Some people don't like this rule and play it such that the attacks are always POW vs. POW on the resistance table. Each successful attack reduces the MP of the target until they reach 0 or, alternatively, reduces the POW temporarily until it reaches 0. Personally, I prefer to keep it MP vs MP because I like the trade-off involved in casting a spell vs. weakening defenses. These trade-offs are one of the things I like most about RQ, actually.


In game terms, spirit combat takes 1 round for each attack back and forth. People in spirit combat are unable to perform actions outside of spirit combat, so they cannot run away no matter how fast they are, because they cannot direct their physical bodies to do so. The only way out of spirit combat is to win or be defeated. The only way to avoid spirit combat is if one can see the spirit before it attacks and then flee. In order to do this, a player needs Second Sight or similar ability. I assume, however, that a shaman or someone who has the ability to engage in spirit combat could also disengage, if desired, but I'm not sure about this.


I've always played it such that when someone is involved in spirit combat, the outside world fades away and they now find themselves in a dream world. I then run the combat descriptively as if in a dream, so each spirit combat seems different. For one spirit combat, I told the PC he was a raider in a burning barn and facing a farmer with a pitch fork. For each attack I desribed the result in terms of this combat. Another PC was a self-styled cassanova and he faced a femme fatale type woman who he tried to seduce. We let the results of the rolls determine what the PC and the femme fatale said to each other in their verbal seduction dance. I've also described spirit combat as hunt scenes, duels, hide and seek scenes, or straight up dodge-the-flying-ghost scenes. With some imagination, spirit combat can have a lot of flavour and can be a lot of fun.

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?)


The disease leaves with the spirit. Shaman can heal diseases by chasing out the malevolent spirit.


Have fun!



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