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Heroquesting system experiment


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This originally had to do with skill rolls while heroquesting. I was experimenting around with certain ideas and whether to use a completely different skill system for heroquesting or modify existing skill system. I wanted it to be harder and it kind of grew from there. I also wanted to involve the community in the heroquest too. Not all heroquesters are solo affairs and there should be an incentive for getting community support. Then I wanted to also create an explanation on why some heroquesters end up destroying themselves or their entire countries if they persist. So, I decided to toss it up here for comments to see if I missed anything obvious.           

Augmenting

Augmenting skills as per the rules.  

Sacrifice

For some tests, PCs may have the opportunity to offer something as a sacrifice to augment their roll or allow a separate roll if they are otherwise stuck. Eligible items must be prized possessions such as magic items, any accompanying livestock (usually horses and similar beasts for nomadic heroquesters) or even one or more members of the heroquest if they are desperate enough. For example, PCs that fail fighting a giant at a certain stage of the heroquest may instead offer it a prized sword as a gift in return for their safe passage through a mountain pass. The bonus to their roll or the chance of the separate roll is the POW of the item x5 that they want to sacrifice. Any sacrificed item is lost on the heroplane and can only be returned to the mortal plane by heroquesting. Experimental.   

Community Support

Community size that is willing to support the heroquesters. Oratory and other skills along with gifts and favors to gain supporters.
Population     Number of shifts    
1                     0
10                   1
100                 2
1,000             3
10,000           4
100,000         5
1,000,000      6

These points can be used to shift results of any skill check by one rank e.g., from fumble to failure, from failure to success, from success to special success and from special success to critical success. This can only be done once per skill check. Communities supporting heroquesters share in the rewards and well in the failures.* Lunar Empire's large number of dedicated supporters is one reason why their heroquesters are so dangerous to face. On the other hand, solo heroquesters avoid risking others, but are at an obvious disadvantage. This aid appears to heroquesters as members of community that appear in minor roles, e.g. a young woman from the village that appears at one of serving girls at the feast of Orlanth that guides the struggling heroquesters to choosing the right gift to present to Orlanth,  another is a man that appears as a young warrior in a fight that takes a fatal blow meant for the heroquesters and dies on the heroplane as well as the mortal plane.       

Difficulty

Difficult of the Heroquest
Difficulty          Skill penalty
Easy                 0
Normal             -10
Difficult            -20
Hard                 -30
GLBQ               -50

(Go through the list heroquests and assign difficulty to each. KoDP might have a good starting list. Heroquesting is rarely safe. So the easiest of quest carries a chance of risk.)

Affinity

How much affinity do players and the current situation have with the heroquest?
Affinity                          Skill penalty
God Time repeated      0
Close                            -10
None                             -20**
Counter                        -30**
Sacrilege                      -50**

Most communities view their heroquests as sacred and will perform them at the appropriate times, for the appropriate reasons, with the appropriate members and for the appropriate outcomes. To do otherwise is a risk to everyone. So, they will normally use the first rank with some heroquests being some dropping a rank when the heroquest is forced such as Starbrow's GLBQ. While Arkat generally did try to show respect for the heroquests he performed, he did also experiment with them and his affinity probably dropped as low as none. Godlearners on the other hand cared little for the heroquests they plundered and most of their heroquesting occurred at the lowest two ranks which was the cause for their high rate of failures and deaths. Failures during heroquests with no affinity or lower will often dump heroquesters out of the heroquest back somewhere into the mortal world.

The skill penalties are still in work. Making a mockery of something like the GLBQ and doing it without community support should be fairly suicidal for even the most powerful of heroquesters. Otherwise the Godlearners would have successfully performed it. Minor heroquests should carry some small amount of risk where heroquesters could possibly fail based on their normal skill chances.  

*This is hopefully a short example of shared blessings. Two PCs, a human and elf, who are deeply in love want to marry and have a child. Normally, this is something that would be impossible. However, the Satarite recalls a story of his youth about Orlanth's wooing of Ernalda. "In the realm of the gods, anything is possible," they both muse. So, they travel back to his village of around 1,500 people and start petitioning his chieftain and priestess to grant them the leading roles in this year's heroquest. The chieftain defers to his ring as this request involves everyone. The ring informs them that they have a few months before the event and they will make a decision in four weeks. So, the PCs begin to sway the tribe to their side. To friendly members of his tribe, he makes rousing speeches of his love for this strange elf and she charms the women of his tribe with her beauty and grace even if it is slightly alien. To more recalcitrant members of his tribe, he presents gifts of cattle as well as treasure that they have found in their travels. For other families who may have lost young kin in wars, they carry out a series of tasks and minor quests. However, there are some members of the tribe that resist as they were expecting that some of their own would take the roles of Orlanth and Ernalda. In four weeks, they have two thirds of the tribe supporting them and they gain the ring's approval and with it the chieftain's and priestess' support as well. The day of the heroquest arrives. The two PCs perform it without blemish as they are skilled adventurers with the support of the majority of their tribe. The curtain closes that night to Orlanth's and Ernalda's room and in the morning the young, glowing elf awakens back in the mortal plane knowing that she bears a child. The PCs have gotten what they wanted and maybe an additional bonus to skill checks when they are close together along with the more common heroquesting rewards. To their supporters in the tribe, lovers find their match, new marriages are blessed and existing marriages are refreshed with happiness. While children may not have been specifically a part of the original heroquest, perhaps the PCs have inadvertently shifted the heroquest slightly and caused a small baby boom in the region. What about those members of the tribe that abstained? They would not have been at risk had the heroquest failed. (They might have still been affected if the heroquest disastrously failed.) However, they do not share in any of the rewards and will need to hide their jealously of other people's happiness behind fake smiles until next year.

**Using heroquests to accomplish tasks that no relationship to the heroquest builds up chaotic/divine/cosmic backlash for any heroquesters along with any communities supporting them. This backlash builds with every success in the heroquest and lingers until released. Enough backlash can maim heroquesters, e.g. Arkat's affliction; and over time can even destroy nations, e.g. the Godlearners. The results of the backlash are permanent and can only be undone with another heroquest if at all.
 

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It's a completely different scope of alt-rule, but if I had to, I'd rule as follows:

1.  For any given scene, for a particular skill-roll, what would be the Rune or Passion you'd roll to Augment that skill?
That is, why does THIS event in THIS place matter to you?

2.  Roll the Rune or Passion *INSTEAD* of the skill.  Because a Heroquest is just that kind of event.

3.  If there *isn't* a relevant Rune or Passion (or if it's kind of a stretch to apply one) then don't roll.  GM adjudicates auto-success, auto-fail, or (best IMHO) some approach where success/fail on the issue no longer matters.

I don't include community-support rules here; I agree that it's a good idea!  I don't think that should be the *ONLY* thing -- or even the biggest thing -- that makes the Lunars so dangerous, though:  many very-potent heroquests were and are done secretly, by small teams.  I think the implication is clear that there are hidden secrets, personal illuminations, lost knowledges, and so forth; all having bearing!

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My general feeling is that community support may be dealt with in a more interesting, and less abstract, way by having the wyter explicitly represent community support. That gives you a lot of options for consequences that are immediately applicable - wyter gets a new ability, or loses an ability that the community relies on, gains or loses POW, becomes more powerful in itself, etc. and seems to go with existing examples of how community support works. The wyter can also involve the community directly - eg the community might sacrifice to it to keep it going, 

you could certainly make mechanics that allow the wyter to intervene by aiding skill rolls as described - but it could intervene other ways too. 

and, of course, if the wyter is destroyed, so is the community - not generally literally, but it falls apart as its members no longer are loyal to each other and cease to behave as a unified group. 

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On 3/5/2021 at 11:20 AM, g33k said:



2.  Roll the Rune or Passion *INSTEAD* of the skill.  Because a Heroquest is just that kind of event.

 

This forms the basis of my house heroquest rules - the skills augment the Rune - I've had 3 HQ in the current campaign and this has run quite well.  Additionally for the hardest HQ, the questor is not allowed to re-use a Rune used elsewhere in the quest (although for a Sacrifice/Geas one can reset this).  This rule generated alot of meta thinking by my players - but also was the reason they sought out more information on the Myths the HQ was based on.

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I kind of like this idea, but then for me it would be boring to keep rolling the same rune (or couple or runes) to solve every problem in HQ, even if you can augment the Rune with skills.

(PD.: Perhaps this thread should be moved to RuneQuest)

Edited by Runeblogger
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On 3/5/2021 at 8:17 PM, IronDuck said:

The skill penalties are still in work. Making a mockery of something like the GLBQ and doing it without community support should be fairly suicidal for even the most powerful of heroquesters. Otherwise the Godlearners would have successfully performed it. Minor heroquests should carry some small amount of risk where heroquesters could possibly fail based on their normal skill chances.  

So we are assuming that the Godlearners were performing their HQs at the Sacrilege level?

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The God Learners apparently forced their way into other people's heroquests, usurping magical places and sending something like a black ops or even invasion force through the veil into the Heroplane, with a "bridgehead and then expand" methodology. That may have made it hard for them to trigger the next events in a quest.

While they probably will have read up on descriptions of the myths, at the very best they knew answers that worked before and offered those by rote rather than by strong identification.

In another approach, they may have hired or pressed people from the appropriate cults into their teams, to provide some degree of the quester's identification.

Part of the God Learners' arsenal seems to have been the assumption that things would go wrong in a step on the heroquest, and still to overpower any negative consequence to be had out of that.

 

Under HW and HQ1 rules, the God Learners operated under "Alien World" modifiers. That was a pretty hefty penalty, possibly the equivalent of the suggested "sacrilege" difficulty.

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7 hours ago, Joerg said:

The God Learners apparently forced their way into other people's heroquests, usurping magical places and sending something like a black ops or even invasion force through the veil into the Heroplane, with a "bridgehead and then expand" methodology. That may have made it hard for them to trigger the next events in a quest.

I loved the story of when the God Learners first gained access to the Storm Realm. They sent a HeroQuestors in, but he didn't return, so they sent two in, but they didn't return, then they sent 10, then a hundred, then another hundred. Finally, one HeroQuestor returned, with a broken body and spirit. "Aha, Success!" they said ...

 

7 hours ago, Joerg said:

While they probably will have read up on descriptions of the myths, at the very best they knew answers that worked before and offered those by rote rather than by strong identification.

They also did the God learner Challenge, where they quizzed mythic creatures about various things, gaining knowledge if they won and losing it if they lost, but they had such a wide knowledge base that they could ask obscure questions that the mythically-limited opponents would not know, but had a good chance of knowing the answers to anything they were asked. So, after a while, they could rip any knowledge from their opponents.

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