[Runequest] RQIII Sorcery

Styopa styopa1 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 13 22:26:06 EST 2011

On Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 1:52 AM, <lev at rpgreview.net> wrote:

> > Hi, Guys,
> Hi Asher,
> >    I've more than once heard the RQ3 Deluxe sorcery system described as
> > being broken.  Alas, I've never actually used it.  So, I would be
> > interested in hearing more about this.
> >    If anyone would be interested in presenting their opinions on the
> > merits and flaws of the RQ 3 Deluxe sorcery system, I would appreciate
> > it.
> I've used it quite a bit at various levels of play, from raw beginners to
> that bloody dangerous Artelen from "Strangers in Prax".
> It's simply wrong to call it "broken", as that implies something that
> simply doesn't work at all. They do work, but they are very flexible and
> because of the time-factor involved in becoming a good sorcerer, it is
> perhaps best for NPCs.
> I think the dissatisfaction with Sorcery comes from a number of points:
(I've been playing RQ for 30 years, and I couldn't begin to even sort out in
my own game what's canon, what's house rules, and what's stolen from Sandy's
sorcery rules and Tekumel spell lists - suffice to say my players & I enjoy
the sorcery system we've ended up using)
1) its learning curve is different than everything else in RQ; everything
else like combat skills increases relatively quickly with practice and
eventually flattens out at the highest skill levels.  Sorcerers are entirely
the opposite - they are extremely weak to start (few spells, low skills,
little ability to manipulate the spells they do have, few magic points) but
once they hit a certain point, they have the capability to become
staggeringly powerful rather quickly.  In fact, while everyone else's power
is flattening, the sorceror starts to gain power faster and faster.
2) it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to do, making it hard for some
players to use.  Especially at moderate levels of power and higher, the
complexity of casting spells, powering spells, applying skills,
multispelling (especially if you're using Sandy's Ease skill), calculating
casting times - it's intensive, probably too intensive for the GM to
double-check on the caster consistently without slowing the game down.  GMs
don't 'trust' real well. :)
3) some probably feel that ultimately it's imbalanced, as per the SiP
comment "one by one, day by day, from six miles away" - not an impossibility
with a reasonably powerful wizard, meaning the PC or NPC starts to have a
sort of "death no saving throw" sort of attack.  This can be quick campaign
death if not handled carefully.  I'd strongly disagree - runelords at a
similar level of of power/experience are also staggeringly powerful, with
exceptional magical powers and gear, and the ability to cast
nearly-infallible spells of great power in a single strike rank?  My feeling
is that while Divine and Sorcery magicians end up being peers, Shamans are
left in the dust powerwise.

In short, I can see people's frustration with it.  We've had a single
character in a 4-year running game who is now extremely powerful.  For
nearly 4 years he's been constantly trying to get the party to go to Sog
City as he firmly believes that this is a sort of intellectual Mecca for
sorcerors...all the rest of the characters being divine magic users (and one
a shaman) having been occasionally startled by his efficacy/lethality (when
he has the time to power up for something nasty) haven't really been
interested in him getting access to more really powerful spells...

We've enjoyed it a lot, but then as a person the player really enjoys
playing a sorceror and meta-plays it to the hilt: he *always* is obsessed
with his own safety (ie all his first-deployed spells are protective),
enjoys his oddball status (and amazing wealth, since every OTHER character
being Rune Lords, have to donate 90% of their money to their cults), and
thus only on the longest combat does he 'get around' to casting some
nastiness at the bad guys.

We have a good time with it, and it definitely makes the campaign more fun
for the players.  But I can see people's problem with it.
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