We played Reign for a bit here. Can’t remember why we stopped though. I do remember the ongoing PDF support being…

We played Reign for a bit here. Can’t remember why we stopped though. I do remember the ongoing PDF support being good but kind of unmanageable over time, so I’m kind of stoked to see it all reorganized under one cover.

0 thoughts on “We played Reign for a bit here. Can’t remember why we stopped though. I do remember the ongoing PDF support being…

  1. How did you find the dice mechanic? I’ve been intrigued by Reign since it came out but never played any iteration of ORE. It sounds elegant on paper but I’m worried it might be clunkier at the table.

  2. I think handling time grows faster than group size. Noncombat rolls are fine, and can offer meaningful choices if you roll multiple sets that would affect quality or speed differently. That does mean you need both time pressure and consequences for poor quality to make that work, but when you do it’s really nice.

    Initiative order and too many NPCs was always my biggest annoyance in combat. Everybody kind of rolls at once and then you figure out WTF just happened to everyone. My group called it the “headshot circus”, after the ending of The Departed, although now the gunfight in Wind River also comes to mind.

  3. I’m a big fan of Wild Talents, love the dice mechanic. Combats go pretty fast once the players get the hang of it. At cons it is usually grasped in a combat.

  4. Combat in Reign and Wild Talents needs one trick, which is splitting a battle into several smaller fights, which each PC involved having an opponent (or group of Unworthy opponents, or perhaps several PCs against a single tough opponent). Doing that, everything goes quite smoothly. There’s less rolling but more dice sorting than most other games, but it’s all clear enough and doesn’t for me bog down at all. Indeed, the flow adds to the narrative with a little bit of tactical play, and that combination is just what I want.

    There are enough nifty bits which hang off the central mechanic. But it does need the trick.

    I’ve run quite a bit of Reign in my time, both the original setting and my own one, Ninth Legion. It lifted me out of a rut where I was bored with fantasy, and my campaign of “kingdom building” which kicked off with the PCs taking over a duchy almost by accident is one of the most successful campaigns I’ve run. I’m looking forward to getting back to it with 2nd edition.

    Even though the first ever convention game I ran was Reign, and that was…troubled.

  5. That’s a good trick Paul Mitchener and I wish I had codified that practice when I ran. It always worked so much better with 2-3 total characters rolling. You lost all that if/then/but confusion when sorting out everyone’s speeds.

    That said, after playing a fair bit of X-Wing miniatures the declaration/action split would probably feel a lot more natural now.

  6. Rules wise Reign is more involved — both in handling time and general fiddle with dice — than a lot of current Indie design. But, IME, less so than many more trad games. It’s a good system, easy to sell to people at both ends, but not particularly spectacular in any given way.

    The setting materials, OTOH, are fucking fantastic. Just like, amazing off-beat, different fantasy ideas every single damn page. Demons that are actually not just Christian bullshit, continents shaped like people’s bodies, jawless imperial bodyguards, pirates whose language is based on giving a word as many syllables as it has social importance, flame dancing artist mages… just fucking fabulous stuff.

  7. Oh, and one last bit, which was amazingly tongue and cheek and yet on point to the way we construct bullshit fantasy based on bullshit history…

    In the game cavalry units are female, as everyone knows boys can’t ride horses because it would destroy their fertility. I mean, they can ride for fun, but not hard combat riding. It’d break their nuts.

  8. Yeah, I’m familiar with Heluso and Milonda and it’s a very neat and clever setting, but I just never ever run published settings, sooo…

    And heavier than current Indie is fine, I’m mostly eyeing RQ right now, but Reign seems like it could scratch that itch without having to sell a percentile system to my players, so that’s good.

  9. Oh yeah, the one roll engine stuff is fun to fiddle with. I remember that being a strong positive when we played.

    For us the setting was so weird that I found it hard to convey, and I think I kind of Eurocized it. Honestly it can run any old fantasy.

  10. I think part of that problem might be the art/design. It tries to be weird and different at times but a lot of the time it’s just straight euro stuff. Even the cover art for the new edition looks like it wouldn’t be out of place in Forgotten Realms and the title font is kinda ren-fairy.

    A more out-there Tekumel-ish overall look and aesthetic would help selling it, I think, but hey.

  11. Reign vs RQ is… a difficult comparison. They’re totally different beasts. Lets see if I can arrange my thoughts:

    RQ:
    Totally trad. Like, heavy trad trad. So fucking many skills trad. So much assumptions of length of play and what play looks like trad. Such very good trad. So tried and true trad.

    Plus, the new edition is just goddamn gorgeous, and the lifts from Pendragon around pattern of play are all very solid.

    Setting wise, it’s a setting. It’s like the king of deep settings that have gotten out of control for 40 years and now are trying to be beaten into submission. It’s a setting that’s a combination of skilfully constructed published setting and stuff that multiple different groups just randomly made up while playing one night, jotted down in the marginalia, and had it become part of the setting indistinguishable from the original so that then geeks spent 25 years fighting about it and no one fucking agreed about any damn thing. But then they spent a couple years trying to make sense of it and published it in a mostly coherent, but sill weird hippy Joseph Campbell 70s Pot Shaman setting with gorgeous neo-Campbellian pseudo-mythic art.

    Reign:
    Based on trad ideas about GM and player rolls, but breaking down some of those divisions and trying to focus play on a specific axis outside of just “wandering heroes.” Ironically, the system would work pretty well for Glorantha games where the players are actually leaders and planners, rather than wandering adventurers who are connected to communities by the need to heroquest.

    Haven’t seen the new edition (obvs), but the old edition was gorgeous. Amazing layout. (Turns out it was because it was by Solis, but this was before I knew who he was.)

    The setting… exists. But it isn’t like a big coherent setting where everything is defined in the world. It’s a big container with some general, and clear rules, filled with nifty bits of awesome color. The GM, and maybe the players through Company creation, decide what actually matters out of that big box of awesome tools.

    So… if you don’t do setting, and are worried about heavy system crunch and creep… I’d go for Reign. And that’s despite the fact that I love the living fuck out of the new Runequest.

  12. Oh, and in cross-post-o-rama… I don’t disagree with some of the vibe. Especially the covers of the new edition.

    But a lot of the material is actually a bit more Earthsea than Tolkien, and the non-canon setting game I played of it was setting in a fantastic version the Straights of Malaca during the Srivijayan empire, and I had to change very damn little to make it work.

  13. I really like a lot of stuff about the new RQ but every time I look at an edition of Runequest that’s not the classic 2E I just make pointing motions at it like why can’t you be this thin? For me the new edition just passes the threshold between “I’d play this in a moment” and “this is not worth the trouble”.

    As for Reign and RQ scratching the same itch I meant that they both seem to be good for running a “human-scale” fantasy game, set in a world that’s not the default D&D-ified quasi middle ages. Both are kinda gritty and granular (hit locations matter etc) and support characters being part of communities and organizations, which D&D is kinda bad at. I’m kinda grasping at a definition here but anthropological fantasy might be close?

  14. Yep, yep.

    I think RQ is a bit more anthropological fantasy. Actually, a lot more.

    Reign, I think, might fit more into something like sociological fantasy.

    (Which makes sense, the first is by the Pendragon dude, the second by the Unknown Armies dude.)

  15. Well I just googled those terms and apparently “anthropological science fiction” is a thing (a has-a-wikipedia-page thing) and LeGuin is listed as a foundational author so I think we’re on the right track.

  16. The idea of Reign and RuneQuest (including some of the variations I’m most familiar with, such as the game now known as Mythras) being anthropological or sociological fantasy really clicks with me, and zones in on a major part of what I like about those games.

    One thing I really like to do in fantasy is to play with cultures.

  17. Oh, and full disclosure…this just might lead to my Reign setting, Ninth Legion being there as a final stretch goal, so I have a little personal interest in it doing really well. But mainly I want to see it do really well because I like it.

  18. It is, in fact, one of the things that gets me into trouble with a lot of groups.

    I’m all, “I want to play a Runequest game that is about temple priests and charioteers and their scrabbling over favour in the eyes of the gods.”

    My players are like “when do we fight broo?”

    I’m all like, “I want to play a game in which you run the outcast scribes of the old court, and your company is all about finding the legal precedent to get your title back!”

    My players are like “the fuck?”

    It’s why its good to play with Mo and Beth and such. I’m all like “hey, lets play Sagas about the drama in the weaving hut as women make the money to keep the farm afloat”

    And they’re like “SHUT THE FUCK UP AND TAKE MY ATTENTION.”

  19. A thing about RuneQuest… in both RQ2 and this latest edition, Robert E. Howard and Hyboria are name-checked.

    People get all caught up in the shininess of references to the The Histories and The Shahnameh and all (certainly I do!) But the game assumes at some point a company of badasses is going to wander into some ruins and battle some fucked up shit.

    I think the HeroQuest run was more anthropologically focused than the game needs to be. This conversation has actually helped me see where I am going with what I want to do with RQG — and that’s seeing the conflicts of Glorantha as if through the eyes of Le Guin. The cultures, conflicts, and physics of Glorantha are all intertwined and built off the backs of these powerful forces/gods/magic that might as well be “high tech as magic” if someone were writing one of those cynical “religions is really tech” stories. (But that is in fact not the case in Glorantha.)

    Gregor Vuga As for the length of RQG… yeah. There is an economy of words in early RPGs that is hard to beat.

    That said, if you were playing RQ2, you’d still want to pick up Cults of Prax and maybe Cults of Terror. From those you’d have enough to build out anything you wanted. (Either from those Cults, or building out you own world with those as examples.) So the page count was already going up.

    RQG adds in a LOT of stuff that simply has not been part of RQ — family background charts for PCs, using Runes, Passions, and Skills for Augments, Rune magic that fully integrates Runes in the setting and the mechanics (which didn’t exits in RQ2). And a lot more art.

    The fact is the text is wordier and clunkier than it needs to be, leading to some fuzziness in clarity. But if you can get past that, as Brand Robins says, it’s RQ2 with a lot of ideas ported from Pendragon and sort of awesome for that.

    I’ve never played RQ (only HQ) and I’m really looking forward to giving this a spin.

  20. Funny enough in the one bit I wrote for Glorantha, in the heroquest era, I made explicit Conan references. The whole editorial team both saw and approved.

  21. I’m not sure that the cultural emphasis has to get in the way of “adventure stories”. It can be something which deepens them.

    My Reign campaign involved the PCs being Dindavaran nobles taking over a province of the Empire which was about to be eaten by a demon as a result of a really odd deal made by its ruling baron.

    They took it over for its own good, as they saw it, and then made sure they kept it, defending it from a half-hearted attempt at a take-over from its old ruler, which they intrigued and made sure was unsupported by the Empire.

    A big part of the fun was that after the big initial big “supernatural evil” start, everything was human politics, nation building, and a clash of cultures (the Dindavarans and the Empire). And some fun dissonance from the question around the idea of invading somewhere for its own good (they moved a Dindavaran army in to fight the demon, and didn’t leave).

  22. Paul Mitchener “I’m not sure that the cultural emphasis has to get in the way of “adventure stories”. It can be something which deepens them.”

    Without doubt. Certainly Glorantha depends on this assumption.

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