Jump to content

What is the point of abilities and advancement in HQG?


Recommended Posts

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

I am talking about HeroQuest Glorantha first and foremost, although a Dresden Files application of Questworld would have similar means:

Gloranthan myth has a different story. Yanafal Tarnils faces Humakt, in a sword duel, and prevails.

Morden Defends the Camp (printed in the fiction booklet that came with the boxed Hero Wars set) tells among others how Morden overcomes the Strong Man in an (admittedly tricked) contest of strength.

Basically, if there is a myth for it, any such difference can be overcome. As myth is supposed to be silly and surprising at times, there are bound to be stories about "when god X had a hang-over and..." which can be "played" against an avatar of that deity.

Of course, the opponent can come prepared for such trickery. "Not today, grasshopper..."

 

A diceless rpg does need a replacement to the frustration a toss of dice can provide to the best thought out player character action. I feel that the case you are making here is close to creating a sacro-sanct Mary Sue, however.

I admit to only a cursory familiarity with the Amber setting, with the biggest lasting impression the reply to the question "How do you want to die?" being "trampled to death by elephants while climaxing in sex" (both paraphrased).

 

 

 

I am afraid that I don't feel that this takes my comment seriously, and Mary-Sueism it certainly isn't.  My point is simply that you aren't speaking for everyone when you assert that 'that isn't the sort of game you want to play'.  Every player is different, and I can honestly say that having played a Feller-of-the-Crimson Bat, the experience was unsatisfying.  It relied on luck rather than ability.  Some of us want certain things to remain a challenge beyond human capability.  Now if my character had been a demi-god rather than a hero, that would have been a different matter…..

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 91
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

I'm one of those people who try to get HQ2/HQG and just can't, and will probably end up hacking it for their own benefit. But in the meantime I want to understand what the system is really meant to do

This is actually something of a truism for most of not all RPGs. What happens is that the characters adventure and improve, but then get tougher missions and opponents, so the character improve even m

This is why I prefer HQ1's scale of masteries. I couldn't get my head around improvement in HQ2, what differentiates someone who is really good at something from someone who isn't, when the dramatic i

14 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

I am afraid that I don't feel that this takes my comment seriously, and Mary-Sueism it certainly isn't.  My point is simply that you aren't speaking for everyone when you assert that 'that isn't the sort of game you want to play'.  Every player is different, and I can honestly say that having played a Feller-of-the-Crimson Bat, the experience was unsatisfying.  It relied on luck rather than ability.  Some of us want certain things to remain a challenge beyond human capability.  Now if my character had been a demi-god rather than a hero, that would have been a different matter…..

And you don't get my point. While I agree that killing the Bat through a lucky strike or some sort of death by a thousand pinpricks isn't necessarily the great finale it could be, to say that the Bat cannot ever be killed by player characters is not in any way helpful.

Things should be achievable. At a cost. In case of doubt, at the cost of your humanity. (And that's a meta-rule in Glorantha...)

You say your character was "a hero". What do you mean by that? A troubleshooter for your chief and maybe tribal king (in which case I agree, that's possbly too much of a Monty Haul), or a hero that had been to Hell and back, that had his Self washed off exposed to Ehilm's Flame or the Baths of Nelat?

A Sysiphus task doesn't usually make a good roleplaying experience.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Joerg said:

And you don't get my point. While I agree that killing the Bat through a lucky strike or some sort of death by a thousand pinpricks isn't necessarily the great finale it could be, to say that the Bat cannot ever be killed by player characters is not in any way helpful.

Things should be achievable. At a cost. In case of doubt, at the cost of your humanity. (And that's a meta-rule in Glorantha...)

You say your character was "a hero". What do you mean by that? A troubleshooter for your chief and maybe tribal king (in which case I agree, that's possbly too much of a Monty Haul), or a hero that had been to Hell and back, that had his Self washed off exposed to Ehilm's Flame or the Baths of Nelat?

A Sysiphus task doesn't usually make a good roleplaying experience.

I am afraid I do get your point, I simply disagree with it.  I love Greg's creation, but I am nowhere near as in love with the present vision of play within it.  It may simply be the simulationist within me disliking the narrativist trend, but that is not invalid of itself. 

I am a fan of the Amber setting, and I found the DRPG to be a very good simulation of it, with a dedicated gaming group of thirteen players plus myself playing for over three years in one campaign.  As ever, we'll have to agree to differ, or, as someone might have said, Your Gaming Experiences Will VaryB)

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/30/2019 at 3:32 PM, Ali the Helering said:

I can honestly say that having played a Feller-of-the-Crimson Bat, the experience was unsatisfying.

What kind of game, and what system did you use at the time?

As a GM, I might allow for the remote possibility of killing the Crimson Bat when using RuneQuest or 13th Age... ("if it has a stat block..... we can kill it") It would probably be a 3-hour-long combat with multiple armies involved, and at the end, the players should in theory feel that they've accomplished a big, difficult thing. In most likelihood, they would just wound it and it would flee or be banished. The PCs would at least be happy to know the Lunars might not be able to use it for a couple seasons while it recovers.... still satisfying IMHO, in a Call-of-Cthulhu "postpone the apocalypse" kinda way.

If using HeroQuest or other super abstract system, however, I would most certainly never allow any PC to kill the Bat in direct/normal combat, as it would indeed definitely feel unsatisfying ("roll a d20", "I got a 1", "well, mmmh, I guess you killed the Crimson Bat", "....err... OK. yay?")  It would have to also be the result of a grueling uphill battle. Since HeroQuest doesn't give you a blow-by-blow tactical resolution, it means that this "uphill battle" was all the narration of the past dozen sessions: they had to do a whole bunch of difficult quests and sidequests to gather the pieces of the anti-Bat weapon, had to make difficult choices, lost friends, etc.

My point being that the pay-off of any action in an RPG (or in any story for that matter) is only as good as the lead up to that action (stakes, anticipation, journey, etc.). Classic RPGs have the advantage that the lead up can, if you want, be just "combat". So you can walk into a dungeon, fight a whole bunch of critters and monsters, and the people around the table will cheer when the dragon falls. In a narrative RPG, you don't have this luxury and you need to work more for it. I did play a moderately long campaign of Amber DRPG in high-school and it was satisfying in places when we actually went through ordeals, and unsatisfying in other places when it's just the GM declaring "you succeed/you fail"..... so.... yeah, don't let players kill the Bat if they didn't deserve it.

Edited by lordabdul
Link to post
Share on other sites

HQ1as it happens, and I never said that he slew the Bat.  Simply felled it, for a time. He destroyed the cult's means of control and banished it from this world. However, to me, this was still too much and profoundly unsatisfying. He DID NOT deserve to do it. It was a suicidal final stroke, and I never expected anything other than automatic death, which I would have unhesitatingly accepted. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...
On 11/6/2019 at 11:59 AM, Atgxtg said:

Yes it does. Personally I favor HQ1's absolute scale of capability though, rather than HQ2/Questworld's  relative ones. I find it much easier to both run and believe that the typical warrior might be rated at 3W and a specific opponent at 2W5 then to just assume that all the average warriors are now rated at 2W5.

Surely that is an absurd reduction of the escalating-difficulty rule, though. It’s like the people who insisted that having a table of average difficulty by level in the much-maligned D&D4 meant that doors and things were supposed to level up with the PCs.

Yes, the base difficulty for a significant challenge to your 2W5 demigods might be a like number, but that doesn’t mean that “all the average warriors” in the setting now have that as their default ability. If those PCs were actually to go back and scuffle with their clan mates or those bandits from the first session of the campaign, those NPCs would not suddenly be of 2W5 difficulty unless some extraordinary circumstance had intervened. (The GM is empowered to come up with such a circumstance if she wants a significant fight, but then the opponents will visibly not be just the same guys the PCs fought as callow youths.) Most likely the NPCs are so outclassed that there’s no point in even using a contest. And that, too, is mentioned in the HQG rulebook. It’s just that most of the PCs’ adventures at that point will not be against petty bandits. With 5 masteries, we’re looking at something like Lanbril himself (or at least a worshipper godforming him) stealing your stuff and running off.

It’s the same with the parallel D&D complaint I mentioned. The existence of a table of average difficulty by level doesn’t mean that every lock on every door levels up to keep pace with the party rogue. It’s a signal to the DM that for a lock to be a significant challenge to the rogue, it needs to be that difficult (and be described appropriately). But all the regular door locks are still their normal difficulty, which it may be pointless to make the rogue roll to beat.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Deadstop said:

Surely that is an absurd reduction of the escalating-difficulty rule, though. It’s like the people who insisted that having a table of average difficulty by level in the much-maligned D&D4 meant that doors and things were supposed to level up with the PCs.

Because they did level up with the PCs in D&D. That is the thing about rating challenges relative to the PC abilities in order to keep them relevant. While on the one hand it always ensures a challenge, on the other hand  it tends to destroy reliability and verisimilitude.  The classic example is a high level D&D campaign, where the PCs are either running into a lot more high level threats than the setting supports, or they are wiping out whole populations of lesser threats. 

 

26 minutes ago, Deadstop said:

Yes, the base difficulty for a significant challenge to your 2W5 demigods might be a like number, but that doesn’t mean that “all the average warriors” in the setting now have that as their default ability.

Except if you are running a game used HQ2+ rules that rate the challeges relative to the abilites of the PCs, they are. It's not like a PC can get so good in the game that they become above most opponents. 

26 minutes ago, Deadstop said:

It’s the same with the parallel D&D complaint I mentioned. The existence of a table of average difficulty by level doesn’t mean that every lock on every door levels up to keep pace with the party rogue. It’s a signal to the DM that for a lock to be a significant challenge to the rogue, it needs to be that difficult (and be described appropriately). But all the regular door locks are still their normal difficulty, which it may be pointless to make the rogue roll to beat.

Sorry but it doesn't work that way. Nobody runs a game where the rogue isn't challenged by locks anymore, instead the up the quality of the locks in order to keep the character challenged, and the players interested. . 

Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

 

Except if you are running a game used HQ2+ rules that rate the challeges relative to the abilites of the PCs, they are. It's not like a PC can get so good in the game that they become above most opponents. 

It is about the challenge and opponents. What do you consider to be a challenge to the PCs? In my game PCs are so good that no average warriors can match them unless something special is going on. HQ2 rules allow this just fine.

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, G.T said:

It is about the challenge and opponents. What do you consider to be a challenge to the PCs? In my game PCs are so good that no average warriors can match them unless something special is going on.

In which case it's not a challenge, is it? That's the crux of the matter. If a situation is supposed to be a challenge then it needs to be presented in such a way that it actually challenges the character, thus a rating relative to the PCs abilities. If, on the other hand, a situation isn't supposed to be a challenge, then there is no need to roll, and rolling is probably redundant.

 

So, assuming that a GM expects to keep challenging the PCs as the campaign goes on, the opponents will have to continually get better to keep things challenging. It's a drawback on ever increasing scores and a relative scale. Not that the alternative (a fixed scale) doesn't have it's own drawbacks.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

It's a drawback on ever increasing scores and a relative scale. Not that the alternative (a fixed scale) doesn't have it's own drawbacks.

I'm not even sure the drawbacks are that different between the 2 systems. Regardless of whether the difficulty ratings are relative to the PCs' abilities, or whether they're absolute numbers that the GM eyeballs relatively to the PCs' abilities, the net result is still that "all the doors end up having better locks". I guess the only difference is the amount of work the GM has to do to make something challenging for the players. But the most work IMHO really lies in justifying, in-world, how the PCs ended up in a place with super-door-locks, why that place is that way, what this means for the other regions of the world that they experienced as lower-level PCs, etc.

21 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

The classic example is a high level D&D campaign, where the PCs are either running into a lot more high level threats than the setting supports, or they are wiping out whole populations of lesser threats.

Interestingly enough, some data from VTTs shows that very little people play high-level D&D characters for very long. I think they mostly play campaigns "by the book" where they start level 1, go all the way to level 15 or whatever to defeat the big baddie, and then start over with a new campaign and new characters.

Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

I'm not even sure the drawbacks are that different between the 2 systems.

There are a few diffierences:

First off in a absolute scale a low skill opponent tends to remain some sort of threat, not matter how skilled the character. Thus such an encounter always presents an element of risk. The infamous Rurik vs. the Trollkin is a prime example. In RQ  the trollin is always going to have a chance of hurting or killing Rurik. In HQ Rurik can have enough of an advantage that the trollkin is no longer a threat.

Secondly has to do with worldbuilding and verisimilitude. Since greater skilled opponents are supposed to be progressively rarer, the campaign becomes less and less believable as the PCs advance and all these highly skilled opponents pop out of the woodwork in order to keep the game challenging. . 

 

50 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

.... "all the doors end up having better locks". I guess the only difference is the amount of work the GM has to do to make something challenging for the players. But the most work IMHO really lies in justifying, in-world, how the PCs ended up in a place with super-door-locks, why that place is that way, what this means for the other regions of the world that they experienced as lower-level PCs, etc.

Unless the GM decides not to go down the rabbit hole of ever improving locks. The trick them is to find another challenge for that player to replace lock picking. So lockpicking can become virtually an automatic success, at least most of the time, and the player will have some other obstacle to get around, say guards, spirits, or magic. The difficulty, in game terms, is that they player has invested points into lockpicking.

 

50 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Interestingly enough, some data from VTTs shows that very little people play high-level D&D characters for very long. I think they mostly play campaigns "by the book" where they start level 1, go all the way to level 15 or whatever to defeat the big baddie, and then start over with a new campaign and new characters.

Yeah, that's kinda true of most RPGs, but is especially true in D&D. What happens is that the spiraling escalation makes it tougher both to find reasonable challenges and to "sell" them to the players. PLus the magic gets much more powerful, and it possible to drop a PC or two before they can act, which isn't very satisfying. It's like if someone was trying to run a group full of supermen and needing to pull out a bunch of krytonite each adventure. 

 

To be fair though, all games have a "sweet spot" where they were designed to be played, and most start to break down as they go beyond that spot. Imagine RuneQuest with four digit skill scores. One of the reasons why most FUDGE and FATE based RPGs don't have character advancement to speak of, is to avoid this problem. Basically character improvement isn't such a good thing for the game. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

First off in a absolute scale a low skill opponent tends to remain some sort of threat, not matter how skilled the character.

This seems to be more of a by-product of the combat and damage system than of relative/absolute difficulty ratings. D&D is using absolute difficulty ratings but trollkins would never be able to kill a high-level character -- or at least not nearly as feasible as in RQ.

2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Secondly has to do with worldbuilding and verisimilitude. Since greater skilled opponents are supposed to be progressively rarer, the campaign becomes less and less believable as the PCs advance and all these highly skilled opponents pop out of the woodwork in order to keep the game challenging.

Sure, but that's true of both systems, and that was my point. In both systems the GM has to adapt the worldbuilding and narration to justify enemies and door locks being consistently and increasingly bad-ass.

2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Unless the GM decides not to go down the rabbit hole of ever improving locks. The trick them is to find another challenge for that player to replace lock picking.

Sure, good point, but replace "lock picking" with "combat" and you can't really replace combat with something else. I guess what you can do is replace some aspect of combat. For instance, the PCs became super good at sword-fighting and squirmishes, so you start throwing magic users or big kingdom-shattering battles at them. And when they get good at that, you put them in the dark, or against illusion magic, or whatever else. And of course finding ways to make violence a non-option to solve things. Yeah that's good advice, thanks.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

This seems to be more of a by-product of the combat and damage system than of relative/absolute difficulty ratings. D&D is using absolute difficulty ratings but trollkins would never be able to kill a high-level character -- or at least not nearly as feasible as in RQ.

The combat system and the relative/absolute ratings are linked. D&D uses ever increasing hit points, which is what leads to an unbeatable foe. It gets to the point where a weak creature like a trollkin can't do enough damage to kill off a high level PC. HQ is somewhat similar in that a weak trollkin won't ever be able to defeat an equivalently skilled character.

34 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Sure, but that's true of both systems, and that was my point. In both systems the GM has to adapt the worldbuilding and narration to justify enemies and door locks being consistently and increasingly bad-ass.

Except that is is more of an issue with systems that have a relative scale. With a fixed scale some mook with a handgun or javelin is always some sort of threat, and a GM doesn't need armies of mooks to threaten the PCs, nor as many highly skilled bad guys. Just compare what it takes to challenge a group of high level D&D characters as opposed a a group of Rune Level characters in RQ. 

 

34 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Sure, good point, but replace "lock picking" with "combat" and you can't really replace combat with something else. I guess what you can do is replace some aspect of combat. For instance, the PCs became super good at sword-fighting and squirmishes, so you start throwing magic users or big kingdom-shattering battles at them. And when they get good at that, you put them in the dark, or against illusion magic, or whatever else. And of course finding ways to make violence a non-option to solve things. Yeah that's good advice, thanks.

Actually, you can replace combat with something else, especially in a system like HQ.While gamers are used to RPGs being focused around combat and character life & death as the primary motivation for things, the reality is any sort of contest is valid, as long as the players care about the outcome. Combat is just easier for most GMs to set up. HQ in particular illustrates this by revolving all contests with essentially the same game mechanics. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an excellent thread.

You can tell that Advancement sits poorly even in the standard rules because of clunky it is, with strange special rules acting like band-aids. Further, one effect of Advancement is that your character keeps getting weirder - at start, you have a number of abilities with some kind of diversity between them, but if you keep pushing one or two top abilities - as you pretty much have to - then your character becomes increasingly niche.

In one way, high ability ratings don't matter, as difficulties are relative anyway. But in another way, they inform the player and the GM - even though the game never outright states it, of course you will have some idea of how the ability rating compares to other entities' in the world, and the GM is likely to adjust difficulties accordingly. Your newbie PC probably won't even be allowed to try to kill the Crimson Bat at Nearly Impossible, while if your PC is King Broyan with his full household and followers, he might get to try it at a mere Very Hard. Similarly, the bandit gang that would have been a very serious fight early in your career might be a mere warm-up later on, or a way for the GM to illustrate how good you have become as you hand out a thorough thrashing. Your ability ratings help to measure your relative power level for these purposes. That said, if the only purpose of the ability ratings is to check relative power, that could be more easily achieved in other ways, perhaps something as simple as "Power Meter" that helps shows the party's general power level (note that the game already does something like this, slowly scaling the power required to even stay on curve).

Outside of this, even if you don't have an advancement system, some kind of way to modify the characters is an important system - both for things that happens in the fiction and for when the player wants to shift things around.

Edited by Akhôrahil
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

Further, one effect of Advancement is that your character keeps getting weirder - at start, you have a number of abilities with some kind of diversity between them, but if you keep pushing one or two top abilities - as you pretty much have to - then your character becomes increasingly niche.

I think HQ should encourage the use of lower abilities. Perhaps changing the level of the opposition depending on the skill used? or better: using a lower or underused ability may grant a Hero Point if used succesfully...

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

This is surely part of the game already? It might be an easier check to parlay than fight, for instance.

This. Changing conditions or what it is called. I have used this quite a lot and once my players figured it out, it made them very innovative. Catch-up rules for improvements are also something we use to keep lower abilities somehow in pace with higher ones.
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...