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And yet another problem I stumbled across, trying to summarize the Pass/Fail Cycle.

It seems that either the table given on page 117 is broken, or I am to stupid to understand how to read it.

Starting on page 116 it says

Quote

Treat each Major Defeat as two defeats, and each Major Victory as two victories.

I guess both "Major Defeat" and "Major Victory" are meant to be read as:
   (1) each Major Defeat or worse (i.e. or Complete Defeat)
   (2) each Major Victory or better (i.e. or Complete Victory)

But even using this interpretation it is impossible to read the table in corner cases.

To make explaining the problem a bit easier, I will use the following conventions
   (1) I will call BOTH Marginal and Minor Victory a small Victory.
   (2) I will call BOTH Major and Complete Victory a big Victory.
   (3) I will call BOTH Marginal and Minor Defeat a small Defeat.
   (4) I will call BOTH Major and Complete Defeat a big Defeat.

So where is the problem?

Using the naming convention given above take a look at the following two cases

Case 1: The last two contests were:
   a small Defeat (=1 defeat) and
   a big Victory (=2 victories)

Let's check to see which entry applies.:
   "3-4 Defeats" – no we have 1 defeat
   "2 Defeats" – no we still have only 1 defeat
   "2 Ties" – no we even don't have a single tie
   "1 Defeat + 1 Victory or Tie" – no, we have 1 defeat for sure, but our big Victory (=2 victories) neither counts as 1 victory nor as a tie
    "2 Victories, 0 Defeats" – no, we have 1 defeat
   "3-4 Victories, 0 Defeats" – no, we still have 1 defeat

Alas there isn't a any entry that applies.

Case 2: This time let's assume the last two contests were:
   a tie and
   a small Victory (=1 victory)

Let's see how checking the table turns out this time:
   "3-4 Defeats" – no, we don't have any defeat
   "2 Defeats" – no, we still don't have any defeat
   "2 Ties" – no, we only have a single tie
   "1 Defeat + 1 Victory or Tie" – no, we don't have any defeat
   "2 Victories, 0 Defeats" – no, we only have a single victory.
   "3-4 Victories, 0 Defeats" – no, we still only have a single victory.

Same problem again!

QUESTION 1: Have I missed something or misunderstood how to correctly read the table?

In case the table is broken, even more important:

QUESTION 2: How would you fix the table in your group?

Maybe some of you already have a nice houserule to suggest?

 

 

Edited by mikyra
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2 hours ago, mikyra said:

And yet another problem I stumbled across, trying to summarize the Pass/Fail Cycle.

A really, really important point to make for HQG is that the Pass/Fail Cycle is a "tool", not a "rule".  Some GM's may like it, others never use it. You don't have to "houserule" anything with this. You can totally ignore if it doesn't fit your style of gaming. You can use it completely if you're unsure about pacing in your game. 

But, as a HQG GM your overall goal is to run a session that tells a story and makes the players feel like they are part of a story.  Stories have obstacles to overcome - some are more challenging than others.  My guidelines for myself are:

  • the conclusion cannot be impossible to achieve, otherwise you simply have an obstacle, not a conclusion
  • the conclusion should be memorable, and it's only memorable if of sufficient difficulty - for me, that means the conclusion has to be very difficult and should involve all the characters (i.e. its a group or extended contest at Very High Difficulty)
  • the climax of the rising action should also be memorable and should provide insight into how to reach the conclusion. For me that means its also very difficult and and should involve all the characters (i.e. its a group or extended contest at Very High Difficulty)
  • some obstacles in between should be nearly impossible, but only if you think it's not logical to proceed along that route. Trying to defeat Gonn Orta the giant or the Red Dragon in a melee should be Nearly Impossible - it's just not realistic and you won't help your story by making it easy.
  • the rest depends on pace of play - if they get lost, miss the important clues, the game pace has slowed too much, etc. then they should encounter something relatively easy to get past and overcome. Otherwise, it's a judicious use of Moderate, Hard, and Harder difficulties (I do use intermediate levels between Hard and Very Hard particularly.)
3 hours ago, mikyra said:

I guess both "Major Defeat" and "Major Victory" are meant to be read as

Yes.

3 hours ago, mikyra said:

Case 1: The last two contests were:
   a small Defeat (=1 defeat) and
   a big Victory (=2 victories)

...

"2 Victories, 0 Defeats" – no, we have 1 defeat

The issue in reading this is that the big Victory = 2 victories (i.e. it counts as your last two contests) and you ignore the small Defeat.

3 hours ago, mikyra said:

Case 2: This time let's assume the last two contests were:
   a tie and
   a small Victory (=1 victory)

Then it falls under: 1 Defeat + 1 Victory or Tie -> Moderate difficulty

This one is mistyped in the text.  It should read:  (1 Defeat OR 1 Victory ) AND a Tie

Hopefully that helps clarify usage, but I'll emphasize what's noted in the text on p.117:

Always remember that the Pass/Fail method for assigning difficulty is a fallback measure. Don’t let it rigidly override your dramatic instincts, or sacrifice the broader credibility of the narrative to the pacing needs of the moment.

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13 hours ago, jajagappa said:

A really, really important point to make for HQG is that the Pass/Fail Cycle is a "tool", not a "rule".  Some GM's may like it, others never use it. You don't have to "houserule" anything with this. You can totally ignore if it doesn't fit your style of gaming. You can use it completely if you're unsure about pacing in your game. 

But, as a HQG GM your overall goal is to run a session that tells a story and makes the players feel like they are part of a story.  Stories have obstacles to overcome - some are more challenging than others.  

Thanks for the sanity!!!!! 😁

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's a question I have about the pass/fail cycle:

If the heroes have been failing a lot, there's a good chance they will have accumulated penalties, but the logic of the pass/fail cycle* suggests that when the heroes have been failing a lot, they should get an easier victory. The two ideas seem to work against each other.

I haven't run enough HQ to see how this works out in actual play. Am I overthinking this?

*recognizing, yes, that the pass/fail cycle is a tool, not a rule.

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11 hours ago, Garwalf said:

If the heroes have been failing a lot, there's a good chance they will have accumulated penalties

Not necessarily. Certain situations suggest penalties that carry forward, but in my game at least, that's fairly rare. The "penalty" is the defeat itself.

11 hours ago, Garwalf said:

but the logic of the pass/fail cycle* suggests that when the heroes have been failing a lot, they should get an easier victory. The two ideas seem to work against each other.

If you were to play out some accumulating set of penalties, you could easily find yourself in a situation where the players can't work their way out.

11 hours ago, Garwalf said:

I haven't run enough HQ to see how this works out in actual play. Am I overthinking this?

It's important to see these as "tools" or "frameworks" to help build your story. I use occasional penalties (and bonuses). I don't use the pass/fail cycle per se. 

However, lots of easy victories don't make for a good or interesting story. Lots of defeats are discouraging. If you're unsure when to shift the difficulty (or how high to shift it), then you can use one of these techniques to "suggest" when to shift.

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On 2/26/2020 at 4:06 AM, Garwalf said:

 

If the heroes have been failing a lot, there's a good chance they will have accumulated penalties, but the logic of the pass/fail cycle* suggests that when the heroes have been failing a lot, they should get an easier victory. The two ideas seem to work against each other.

As far as I understood it, the pass/fail cycle is a helpful tool to auto adjust the difficulty of contests to the current capabilities of the group.

Preventing the story from:

  • getting too boring because every contest is an easy win
  • getting too frustrating because every contest is an almost sure fail.

IMHO countering the effect of accumulated penalties in a series of defeats by lowering the difficulty level of future contests is one of the desired effects of the pass/fail cycle to break the vicious cycle of ever winning / ever loosing contests.

I guess especially for players new to HeroQuest Glorantha like our group, lacking experience with the system, the auto adjust property of the pass/fail cycle may make it a valuable tool to prevent both of the problems mentioned above.  

 

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9 hours ago, mikyra said:

the auto adjust property of the pass/fail cycle may make it a valuable tool to prevent both of the problems mentioned above.

The only thing I'll suggest is not to apply it in a readily apparent/automatic fashion. If your players end up tracking events and are thinking fail-fail-fail, oh, next one must be easy because pass/fail cycle says so, then the game will lose its narrative quality/power.  Some encounters will be difficult or very difficulty no matter what. Some encounters look difficult, but if you follow "another way", then they open up as easier. Etc.

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