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Teaching HeroQuest

AJ The Ronin

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How would you teach a group of players with a background on Pathfinder and Savage Worlds how to play HeroQuest Glorantha?

Would you start with Pre-Gens?

At what pace would you introduce mechanics like augments, communities and extended contests?

Any hints and advice would be appreciated. 

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Pregens are OK for one-shots, but people have more buy-in with PCs they generate themselves.

I would use augments straightaway as they are easy to use. I cannot abide extended contests, so would not introduce them, however if you like them then introduce them when at an important and complex stage.


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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 


Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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I started with new characters in the planned setting.  The pre-gens are fine for examples (or if someone is stuck on an idea), but you want the player to embrace their creation and I think that works best when they create it.

For HQG, I introduced some basic concepts.  You can look them over in my PbF thread here: https://rpggeek.com/thread/1192660/ooc-heroquest-glorantha-colymar-campaign-2-orlmart

The main pieces were:

1) the steps we'd take

2) a bit of background on the setting including some short 'flashbacks' to get some grounding in the setting

3) describing what character concepts, occupations, keywords, runes, and abilities were

Then we created the characters and worked through the clan generator.  At that point we were ready to get underway.

I provided a short Quick Start guide on this page of my thread (scroll down): https://rpggeek.com/thread/1192660/ooc-heroquest-glorantha-colymar-campaign-2-orlmart/page/7

and also a summary of die rolls, augments, difficulties, and contests here (some at the top, but scroll down for some more details): https://rpggeek.com/thread/1192660/ooc-heroquest-glorantha-colymar-campaign-2-orlmart/page/11

While we started off with Simple Contests and applied Augments (we just use the simple augment approach at 1/5 of the ability), I absolutely use Extended Contests.  They are the climactic and dramatic centerpieces and endings of all my sessions where the players really feel like they earn their victories and often need to use their Hero Points to survive.

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When I teach HeroQuest Glorantha to RPGers who don't know a thing about both the system and the setting, here's what I usually do:

- I give them a short introduction pitch to Glorantha: Sartar & the Lunar Empire, how the gods and of the myths influence the setting, and the importance of the Runes.

- I hand them out a blank piece of paper and we do character creation as we go. I try not to get too much into details, and if necessary, I even give up on the flaws.

- When their Runes are chosen, I help them chose their god, which usually creates a little, useful discussion on the deeds of such and such deity.

- Usually, midway through character creation, when it's time to distribute the additional points, I quickly explain them how the rules work, and I simulate a situation with them (like a social conflict, a brawl, etc.). It helps them get a hang on how bumps and masteries work.

- If they don't know what kind of abilities / breakout abilities to create, I tell them not to bother, as we'll see that during the game.

- For the adventure, I learnt the hard way that even the simplest adventure could sometimes confuse my players, especially when HeroQuests are involved. requiring your players to remember a myth, or to learn its details, and eventually to reproduce them, could turn them off completely. Basically, some could get lost in all those details, feel like they are too railroaded, have no agency whatsoever, and end up not knowing what to do in the end as they were not having fun. So now, I'd rather send them on a HeroQuest by giving them elements of the myth step by step, as they move forward (an action may trigger a specific memory in a character, an NPC met during the HeroQuest challenges them with a riddle whose answer offers them some direction, etc.)

To finish, I'd say that when I run games of HeroQuest Glorantha, character creation and the adventure are both simplified and "as-we-go". Listen to your players, listen to what they like. If they come from a d20 background, offer them a nice taste of Glorantha and the system with an adventure that can both challenge their roleplaying habit and feel like home.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Introducing HeroQuest to players who have played other systems before is often much fun for all. I usually start with a very brief description in two or three sentences about the respective Gloranthan society, e.g. rural, clan based, bronze age society, in which everybody wields magic and gods are real. Then I ask them who they are or have them write it down on a blank sheet of paper (either list or prose). This is quite surprising for many and lets inspiration run wild. After players created their character concepts (and abilities if they like) I assign appropriate cults and runes (usually  one or two runes are sufficient in the beginning). Et voilà. Character created in 10min.

About rules: I usually start the game without them. If there have to be any contests on the first game session I use all available rules, though. They are pretty easy to understand. For the players' convenience I provide the success-failure-matrix as a handout. That's all.

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