Friday, April 19, 2013

Digesting various mechanics - Wordrunes

Going through the game that is much the talk of rumors and jokes among gamers. Dragonraid, the Christian Adventure Learning System.... yeah retitle it all they want but it actually is a roleplaying game. I picked up out of sheer curiosity a year or so back. Finally getting around to digging into the books (there are many) that they packed into that big ass red box (damn big box).

First thing I'm going to talk about are the Wordrunes. These are basically spells with a very specific twist on them. In order to cast them you must repeat, outloud, a specific passage from the Bible. If you can do it from memory then you can put points towards raising your both your ability to use Wordrunes but also to another attribute that it is specific to. I'm guessing this is the learning part as it requires you to commit these passages to memory.

All in all it's kind of a neat idea also these seem to be the main way of raising your characters abilities. There are a ton of these in the players guide and a bunch more in each of the adventures they tossed in the box as well. I'm wondering how well one could rewrite it using phrases specific to their game worlds, fictional religions or even the history of their game world. The asshole in me almost wants to go pick up a copy of the Satanic Bible and use stuff from it just to piss people off... but I think I'll skip that idea.

But reciting a bit of the world history involving a defender of an old king who stood his ground against many which gives you a combat bonus does sound neat. A quick two line prayer of the Goddess of Life that works as a healing spell. This has potential but I'm not sure how many players out there would be into committing all this to memory. In Dragonraid these can be used by reading them from the card but you don't gain any of their version of experience when you do this. Maybe an alternative could be a reduced gain if not recited from memory.

Also there is a Difficulty Level as well. These work a bit like spell levels in most other games. Your ability (Sword of Spirit in this game) has to be equal to or higher than the level. Along with a connected attribute that also has to be equal to or higher. They provide a little chart showing how they come up with the DL which is based upon the number of words you must recite. More words mean a higher DL. One odd bit is once you get so high in your Sword of Spirit level you can no longer cast the lower level Wordrunes. Doesn't really explain why this is either, although an alternative could be you can cast them but gain no experience for doing so. They've become to easy.

Other bits. The number of Wordrunes that may be read is limited to three per adventure. However the number they may use from memory is unlimited. You must begin and end the wordrune with the Scripture reference. There are also team runes which the entire group must say in unison.

So some of the ideas could be used in other games. Basing wordrunes off a fictional religion and it's tomes could really add some flavor to a game. It could also raise some eyebrows on people who still cling onto the 'gaming is evil' mode of thought.


  1. I played in an Angel/Buffy game years ago with the Eden Studios product. One of my characters was a magic user. The GM gave me extra experience points for creating spells, reciting those spells, and creating backgrounds for the spells. For spells designed by non-English speakers, he would only give me the experience points if I did some research and came up with words in the appropriate foreign tongue. They did not have to be exact, but close.

    I didn't know he was going to give me the XP for doing that. I would have done it anyways. Getting the XP was nice. As a magic user in a combat heavy game, any bonus was a good thing.

  2. Whether we embrace the particular faith involved or not, it is an interesting game mechanic, and gives GM's ideas for novel approaches. Good write up.