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Rules Question: Group Simple Contest


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Hello together,

being a fellow player of @Chiarina, who already posted some questions here, I am very new to the HeroQuest system.
So I better apologize in advance, in case my question seems rather silly to you.

Reading HeroQuest: Glorantha I am still trying (without success) to get my head around the "Group Simple Contest".
I thought I understood the game mechanics quite well, until I read the Example "Samstina's Sage: Leaving Nochet (part2)" on page 72.

QUESTION: Is it possible that there are two mistakes in the example?

What 's the problem

The example arrives at a point, where:
    Rick and Claudia both roll a 14, arriving at a degree of success of "success" each. Which resolves to a "tie".

I could follow the explanations up to this point pretty well.

But now things seem to contradict the rules given in the sections before:
    Rick wants to use a Hero Point to bump his degree of success from "success" to "critical"

contradiction 1:
    Claudia claims: You can't do that in a Group Simple Contest

contradiction 2:
    To overcome the resolved victory level "tie" resulting from the Resolution Point ratio of 4:4 the group finally invests 2 Hero Points to boost the victory level from "tie" to "marginal victory"

 

So, where are the contradictions?

contradiction 1:
    The general rules section "Bump Up with Hero Points" (page 60) states:

Quote

You can spend a Hero Point to bump up any result by one step. (1)
You may only bump your own rolls [...] (2)
You can decide to use a Hero Point for a bump after the die roll results are calculated (including any bump ups resulting from masteries). (3)
You may spend only one Hero Point on any given dice roll. (4)

Given the rules above, I don't see why Claudia's claim is valid.

Sure you can't burn as many Hero Points as you like as in step 6 of a Simple Contest. But this is not what Rick is trying to do here.

    (1) The result he wants to bump sure falls in the "any result" categroy
    (2) It is his own roll he wants to bump
    (3) He decided to bump after results were calculated, which again is valid
    (4) He didn't want to spend more than one Hero Point on his roll


contradiction 2:
The Section "Boosting Results" (page 70) states:

Quote

 [...] players are permitted, at the beginning of a group simple contest, to spend one or more Hero Points to purchase a boost.

Quite sure the group is not "at the beginning" of a group simple contest" as required by the rules, when they invest their 2 Hero Points to boost their victory level.


Help!

I would be thankful for any help, telling me what is going here.

Edited by mikyra
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2 hours ago, mikyra said:

Quite sure the group is not "at the beginning" of a group simple contest" as required by the rules, when they invest their 2 Hero Points to boost their victory level.

This has been ruled as being wrong in the rules. You can bump the group simple contest result after the results.

See:

 

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2 hours ago, mikyra said:

Given the rules above, I don't see why Claudia's claim is valid.

I read the rules, again. And also found out that the idea that GSC can only be boosted, not individually bumped, isn't really mentioned in the rules. But I think the general consensus is that the idea was that, in Group Simple Contest, players cannot bump single results. Only the final result.

Some discussion about this:

So, by Rules-As-Written, the example would be wrong. On the other hand the example was the correct one in the case of contradiction 2. It is known that the examples and the rules contradict in HQG book. You could say that "errata" will be published in the form of QuestWorlds SRD. Hopefully soon.

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Thanks a lot for your reply.

contradiction 2

16 hours ago, jrutila said:

This has been ruled as being wrong in the rules. You can bump the group simple contest result after the results.

This was extremely valuable information, and - as a special bonus - makes the rules feel to be a much rounder thing to me.

Not for esthetic reasons only:
As someone who is playing different systems and switching between them, lots of special cases, specific exceptions, etc. often feel very annoying making it so much harder to remember things correctly.

Just having to remember the simple rule "You always invest Hero Points after the result" seems to make things so much easier here.


contradiction 1

Unfortunately the same consistency and simplicity principle would not apply but be severely broken, if the general rule "You may (always) spend one Hero Point to bump your roll." would not apply to the special case Group Simple Contests.

Investigating things further I tried to look up things in "HeroQuest Core Rules" which being first printing July 2009 vs. Summer 2015 for "HeroQuest Glorantha" is the older one of the two versions.

Interestingly enough taking a look at the example here seems to give a strong indication the claim "You can't do that in a Group Simple Contest" in the HeroQuest Glorantha example might be a mistake.


The example (see: page 33) here arrives at a point, where the group is 2-4 RP behind their opponent and it is Starkweather's turn to add his contribution to the contest.
The next lines read:

Quote

It's up to Starkweather to even the odds.
He pits his Pinpoint Maneuvers ability of 8W against the Architect's Booby Trap ability of 16.
He scores a 13, against Lindsay's 14, but decides the spend a hero point to turn that result from success vs. success in his favor to critical vs. success.


The Hero Point here was spent for a bump and not for a boost, as it modified the degree of success of Starkweathers roll not the level of victory of the entire group.

On the other hand the example is older than the one given in HeroQuest Glorantha and the idea of how things should work in a Group Simple Contest might have been changed.
Yet it would still seem strange to me, that neither the text in the rules section was changed, nor an explanation of changes between this and the older version were included.

SRD

16 hours ago, jrutila said:

You could say that "errata" will be published in the form of QuestWorlds SRD.

Searching this forum after reading your reply, I found an announcement posted in June 2018. There it reads. (Sorry for just copying the text. I didn't find out how to cite other threads as nice as you did in your post)

Quote

There will be an SRD soon (before end of July)

As July 2018 already lies way in the past, I wonder if the SRD idea was abandoned.

Do you know if the SRD will still be coming?

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10 hours ago, mikyra said:

On the other hand the example is older than the one given in HeroQuest Glorantha and the idea of how things should work in a Group Simple Contest might have been changed.

It was changed for HQG. The reason I believe was that if all the participants were using a Hero Point to bump their piece of the group contest, then it made it too easy to walk through the contest.

However, there is an alternate solution - use a higher Difficulty level. The challenge, though, is that one Difficulty level may be too easy, the next much too difficult.  I resolved that by simply introducing intermediate Difficulty levels between Hard and Very Hard, and between Very Hard and Nearly Impossible.

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21 hours ago, mikyra said:

The Hero Point here was spent for a bump and not for a boost, as it modified the degree of success of Starkweathers roll not the level of victory of the entire group.

On the other hand the example is older than the one given in HeroQuest Glorantha and the idea of how things should work in a Group Simple Contest might have been changed.
Yet it would still seem strange to me, that neither the text in the rules section was changed, nor an explanation of changes between this and the older version were included.

This is something I have pondered also before.

It starts to make sense that there are:

Bumps with what you bump any result (even GSC single rolls) one level of degree up.

Boost with what you, as a group, make the victory level of GSC higher (after everyone has rolled). This is to reduce the flattening effect of GSC.

I don't have any math now to support either way but (as jajagappa said) there might be some "issue" with Hero Point bumps being too powerful in the case of GSC. But this aspect isn't really present in the rulebooks (I checked the Core rules also) but something brought up later in the discussion. In these discussions the boost might have been interpreted as the only way to use hero points in GSC, which it (by RAW) isn't.

I would allow using HPs to bump any roll and in GSC boost the final result. This removes any exceptions to the rule. Then just adjust the difficulty level according to the feel.

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 I like the idea of both you (@jrutila) and @jajagappa to allow single bumps in GSC and just adjust the difficulty level.
Yet I will have to check if a house rule like that also meets the consensus of our group.

Right at the moment my only "job" is to translate and somehow summarize the rules given by the HeroQuest Glorantha rule book.
But I guess I will have to leave this point open at the moment, because it is not clear what the rules are trying to say here.

Maybe you can help me with two other questions that during this conquest turned up, while I was still studying GSC rules.


QUESTION 1: Is this simplification right?

To determine the (unboosted) final Level of Victory (LoV) of a GSC, it seems I can get away with one table:

    LoV         RP   
    ========   ====  
    complete    5
    major       3
    minor       2
    marginal    1
    tie         0

 * in step 1 where the individual LoV of a participant are translated into RP:
     use the table to lookup from left to right:   individual LoV -> RP

 * in step 2 where the RP difference is translated into the final LoV:
     use the table to lookup from right to left, treating the right column as reading "starting from x RP":   final LoV <- RP difference

Of course this would only be right, if the Table "EXTENDED CONTEST RESOLUTION POINTS" on page 70 is:

    (1) meant to be the same as the "Resolution Point table" mentioned, but missing in the rules.
    (2) wrong because it misses the fact that on a tie no side wins any resolution points

Regarding (1) I found another thread here in the forum saying that this is the missing "Resolution Point table"
Regarding (2) the rules for Extended Contests (see: page 74) say:

Quote

He gets 1 point for a Marginal Victory, 2 for a Minor Victory, 3 for a Major Victory, and 5 for a Complete Victory.

So it seems neither side gains any RP on a tie.


QUESTION 2: What are the possible Negative Consequences of a tie in a GSC?

According to the table "GROUP SIMPLE CONTEST RESULTS" (see: page 70) on a marginal victory even the Winner may have to face negative consequences of the level Hurt.

Unfortunately the table is missing an entry for a tie, so I am not sure how to interpret that. Does it mean I may:

    (a) suffer Hurt in this case also, as a tie sure is a worse result than a marginal victory ?
    (b) not suffer any negative consequences for whatever reason ?

 

I hope this will be my last two questions regarding GSCs as I made it to the end of the chapter finally. But I can't promise.

Edited by mikyra
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Question 1: I don't see any flaw in your simplification. In a tie (as a part of GSC or EC) neither side scores any points, that is correct.

Question 2: You are asking interesting questions. I just spotted the sidenote on p. 63 regarding SIMPLE CONTEST RESULTS table that tries to give some hindsight to ties but doesn't really. As there is no Fumble vs Fumble outcome in the final victory level. It is only RPs against RPs. Or is it targeted for singling out participants in GSC?

But besides that I don't really have an "official" answer. In a tie the players don't get their prize. Isn't that penalty enough? The marginal victory is the "Yes, but" -idea of giving them the prize but also giving them some penalty.

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In my experience, HeroQuest works best when there are few rules.

For me, if a rule needs clarifying and is difficult to understand and use, then drop the rule.

So, I wouldn't use Group Simple Contests. I would use chained contests anyway, as I find them easier. or, everyone rolls what they are doing, you add up the RPs and see if you have reached a target, if not then you do something similar next round.

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3 hours ago, AndreasDavour said:

I wonder if the problems are not just Hero Points? Would it work by just ditch them? You roll, learn to live with the results, or initiate a new contest after some action have been taken to change the situation?

I would definitely not drop Hero Points! A Group Simple Contest was central to the conclusion of my player's quest to bring Orane back from the Underworld - I felt for this story/quest that it had to be a group effort, that Orane would not respond to a single orator (and I wanted all the players to be part of the finale). A Group Extended Contest (aka typical battle) did not have the right feel though, so went with the former. And Hero Points were definitely in play with that contest (and needed). I allowed bumps in individual contests though rather than a single boost, and that felt right, too.

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On 1/19/2020 at 10:29 AM, soltakss said:

In my experience, HeroQuest works best when there are few rules.

I agree. I see HQ as a toolbox. Only use the tools you need for the game you're running. If you don't need a screwdriver for the job, leave it in the box.

In my campaign, we use a limited number of contest types and have linked them to specific situations so the players know what to expect. I definitely don't use all the rules available in the book - there's nothing wrong with the rules I don't use, I just don't feel they add to the specific game I'm running now. I might use some or all of them in a different game.

 

21 hours ago, AndreasDavour said:

I wonder if the problems are not just Hero Points?

I don't think Hero Points are a problem, per se, but the overall combination of HPs, masteries, and victory benefits can get a little top heavy at times. I'm trying out a hack that would mitigate this for less experienced HQ narrators and players (like me)  in a project I'm working on. 

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GSC consequences

Thanks a lot for the insight. The explanation "not getting the prize may be penalty enough" sounds a lot more convincing than the "for whatever reason" I posted above.

Sidenote p. 63

Nice you found the sidenote on page 63.
I completely missed it reading the GSC rules starting on page 70 over and over again.

There is a reference to it on page 72, starting: "When singling out participants [...]"

Which using my poor knowledge of the English language, I understood to mean the case, where I apply different "consequences" to the individual participants instead of a single overall "consequence" to all of them.

In other words a process in which I look up the individual LoV of each participant and not the final LoV of the whole contest.
In this context a Fumble vs. Fumble result would make sense.

Catch
Yet there still is a catch, as the text reads on:
"[..] heroes who posted positive Resolution Points to their side’s result get the benefit corresponding to their level of victory, as seen on the Simple Contest Results table (page 63 [..]"

If entries given as "1 RP" should read "1 / 0 RP  (0 RP in case of a tie)" as suggested, the precondition "heroes who posted positive Resolution Points" isn't met, so using the table on page 63 wouldn't apply anyways.

if-if
The sidenote on page 63 may be a good candidate for @soltakss "If a rule is unclear or too difficult just drop it" rule of thumb.
Especially as the "if-if complexity"

  • if I use the "single out participants" method  and
  • if the individual LoV was a tie

of a rule governing the special case of a special case doesn't seem to be in proportion to the simplicity of the rules striven for.

And even worse: the effect already lies within an implied: "You MAY (within reasonable limits) divert from the rules (a bit), if doing so means more fun for you and the group.", that I read any pen & paper rule system with.

Yet again: at the moment I am just trying to translate and summarize the rules - as given - for our German speaking group, I can't just drop it on my own.
But I will sure remember the idea as a suggestion'

Chained Contests
Unfortunately I don't know any details about "chained contests" as they seem to have been dropped from HQ/2E and HQ/G, the only two HQ versions I have at hand.

Teamwork Contests
Of the tools present in HQ/2E and HQ/G personally I like Group Simple Contests a lot, as they are a straightforward way to perform what I would call "teamwork contests".

In our group of six players and one GM we often face the situation, that there are many heroes collaborating to reach a common goal, which no other contest seems to support as well as a GSC.

A Simple Contest more or less is a "solo contest", with a single active hero.
Using Augments you may involve a second hero, but this still doesn't make them "feel" to be equal partners:
   (1) the second heroes contribution feels like any other modifier
   (2) only the active hero will be subject to consequences of the contest

An Extended Contest effectively isn't more than a "prolonged solo contest"
Using Augments you may involve a second hero and using Assits an arbitrary number of  "defending" heroes.
Yet contributions of heroes other than the active one still suffer the same problems and
   (3) limited number of exchanges per contest and rising difficulty for each additional Assist make it unlikely that every defender really will add an Assist.
 
A Group Extended Contest may be an option if the common goal is dividable, like
  "Stop those five Lunars reaching X before Y are hidden."
Which may be broken down in say five pairings
    (1) assigning one hero to one Lunar
    (2) having one defender ready to Assist

But this method doesn't work well if the common goal isn't divisible that easily. Each pairing forming an independent Extended Contest of its own, the team-up effect if any is rather marginal.

A Group Simple Contest on the other hand makes heroes feel like equal partners, every single one of them adding his (RP) contribution to the result.

Hero Points

The unpredictable nature of random elements like contests giving a story surprising and unforeseen turns is one of the aspects, that can add a lot to the fun and suspense of a pen & paper rpg. If you want to push the tension between unpredictability of results and knowing "no matter how things turn out - we will have to live with the consequences" to the maximum, giving the players no bump or boost option at may be one of the best choices.

But IMHO whether this factor is the most important, really is a matter of a groups playing style and personal preferences.

For my part, I really like the option to bump or boost results using HP a lot, even if it cancels out part of the randomness making the game so much more interesting.

(1) On a tiny scale bumps can really save you from the frustrating moments I guess we all know:
      Your hero gets this one chance you have been waiting for so many sessions, to get the spotlight and show the expertise that makes him so heroically special,  and then...
          ...  your hero fails miserably because you rolled that one in 400 fumble versus critical result.

(2) Hero Points are a a very limited (you only have 3 per session) and very precious (your hero will progress slower if you spend some) resource.
      So whether to spend or not spend HP really adds to the sum of interesting decisions, that makes a pen & paper rpg so much fun to play

(3) On a large scale bumps and boosts add a nice for way for players to influence the story being told beyond merely describing their heroes intentions.
      HP here really give the group a chance to set their focus on the story by differentiating between those outcomes that are of utter importance to them and those of lesser priority.
      Of course setting priorities like that also adds to the tactical dimension mentioned above.

Bump Drawback
Talking so much about bumps and boosts, I guess I should not hide a major drawback IMHO the system suffers from.

(1) strong heroes - without any need to bump results - will get even stronger very fast.
(2)  weak heroes - having to bump results - advance at a much slower speed or even worse keep as weak as before.

Leading to a steady growth of the gap between strong an weak heroes.

Possible Cure

To circumvent the "growing gap effect" mentioned above, in our group we houseruled spending HP for bumps and boosts to use a common HP pool like this:

(1) at the beginning of the session a HP pool is formed by adding 3 HP to the pool for each participating player

(2) during the session with the consent of the whole group
      HP from the pool my be spent according to HQ/G rules,
      not spending more than 3 HP at a time.

(3) at the end of the session HP remaining in the pool are
      evenly divided among the players, rounding down when necessary

Rounding down in step (3) is meant to counter the bias in favor of the heroes resulting from raising the number of HP at a single players dispsositon from 3 HP to potentially  the whole HP pool in step (2)

Of course the balance is not perfect.
But the rules are easy to apply and the "with the consent of the whole group" part even adds another nice game element, giving the players a chance to exchange views about the importance of the contest at hand and discuss common goals and focuses.

 

Edited by mikyra
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