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Ian Cooper

What did Heroquest ever do for us?

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For me, HeroQuest 2 (and HQ:G along with it) just does everything I really want out of a gaming system. Over time, I've grown to dislike systems with way too many things to track on them. First off, I sometimes find them confusing, like forgetting about an important spell or ability or skill that I could have used to get out of a situation (which, from a purely story perspective is just...stupid. It's like the giant barbarian warrior forgetting he has a sword, going into a fistfight and losing), and second of all, less things on the character sheet actually tend to help me get into the game more.

Sure, HQ is hardly perfect for every type of game - it doesn't really do horror or gritty survival...well, at all, really. But for games where you can just sort of lay back and go back and forth with your players, with the occasional dice throwing it works perfectly.

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On 07/01/2017 at 7:16 AM, Mankcam said:

BTW does anyone know if there is to be a reprint of HQ2 anytime soon? I have HQG, but would prefer to see these rules without the Gloranthan trappings if possible.

Mmmh... as HeroQuest: Core Rules is not out of print yet, there is not need for a reprint, right?!! HQ:CR is magnificent even though it is a bit like RQIII: devoid of any Glorantha reference until the very end (Book 5 in RQIII & the last chapter in HQ:CR).

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Yes I have the pdf but I would prefer a copy devoid of any Gloranthan trappings, such as no Runes on the border, no Gloranthan examples, no fantasy setting.

HQG is in print and should remain such, but I would rather another totally generic version of the HQ Core Rules out there.

It's just my subjective view, but I like Glorantha with the RQ system, and would prefer HQ for a pulpy action based contemporary setting.

Edited by Mankcam

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As for myself, I like how HQ uses a very low number of rules to handle every possible situations in-game.

I also like how elegantly it handles multiple scales (human, Heroic, Demi-God) with the same mechanism.

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This is a hard one to answer for me without overthinking, because I played HeroQuest for a good ten years before drifting off to play other things....because after 10 years obessively playing it it was time for a break :)

So the short answer is: Completely redefined how I play and look at RPGs. 

Long involved answer

My path through RPGs is broadly speaking was: D&D (80s) then RuneQuest (90s) and then HeroWars/HeroQuest late 90s through the 2000s. This decade its been a mix of stuff, strangely revisiting the previous decades in many respects.

Noteable influences over the years: Paranioa in the 80s (taught me I don't need to be a slave to the rules as writen), Feng-Shui in the 90s (most of the emerging storytelling games stuff left me cold, but Feng-shui hit the spot esepcially the GM guidance for NO MORE BORING COMBATS AGAIN EVER!!!) and Burning Wheel in the 2000s (which generally reinvograted my interest in running and playing rpgs at at time when I was getting too grown up to be dealing with passive players and boring plots that go nowhere - quite simply Burning Wheel showed me how to get players  and myself co-creating adventures that were meaningful and memorable).

Specific things HeroQuest did for me:

Provide an easily manageable rules system for Glorantha. No more stating out Monsters of the Week, long stat blocks for monsters/characters, definining new magic spells for newly encountered Cults. How and why things work the way they do could be worked out between me and the players during play. Which in turn led to...

Allowed for greater exploration of Glorantha than ever before. Using HQ I broke out of my decade long Ralios RQ setting, and ran games in Loskalm, Kralora, the Oceans of Glorantha, the Lunar Empire (see Gloranthan Adventures 2 for part of the game I ran there) as well as Kingdom of Sartar (via a series of newcommer friendly scenarios I ran at cons published in Gloranthan Adventures 1). Also with a bit of structure (nicked from Burning Wheel/Buring Empires) I ran one of my best campaigns ever an epic from teens to rulers game in Black Horse Country :)

Outside of Glorantha, I ran games of Dungeon Bashing and Cthulhu. The later game really put proved for me the flexibitly of the system, if the Narrator has a handle on what it can do.

Provided the holy grail of roleplaying - ONE UNIFIED SYSTEM TO RULE THEM ALL!! Which led to...

A change of my design paradigm. Instead of rules systems and modifications to meet the situation, I now think in terms of what Story Objects I need to set up and how the rules should simply interact with them. Be it Keywords (HQ), Aspects (FATE) or Professions (D100) as well as the more traditional equipment lists (which even in the trad games I now treat much more lightly), monsters and thrilling locations.

Lasting Influence: Even though I'm currently not running HeroQuest at the moment, its been an influence on pretty much every thing I've done as D101 Games. It helped me grok Fate alot quicker because I was already used to thinking in Story Terms and the unified system idea had a huge influence on Monkey.

Publish my own supplements for the game. This one is important to me personally. Without HereQuest , and its Gateway Lisence for non-Gloranthan settings and 'special commerical' fan publication license for Glorantha, I wouldn't have published Hearts in Glorantha, Gloranthan Adventures, Book of Glorious Joy, Empires Rising (very briefly before the author decided to go down the self-publishing route) and Ye Little Book of HeroQuest Fantasy.  The Gloranthan Adventures stuff covers alot of ground, and if I had to have put in stat blocks and provide floorplan style maps I doubt it would have happened.

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On 01/02/2017 at 2:10 PM, Newt said:

Provided the holy grail of roleplaying - ONE UNIFIED SYSTEM TO RULE THEM ALL!!

I initially had the same reaction. When I first read HW, it seemed to me like Robin Laws had done something I was chasing since I was 16 : a system that handled every situation with the same few mechanisms.

Then, some years after that I re-read Werewolf:the Apocalypse introduction chapters, and I realised that was already accomplished years before HeroWars, in a book I owned...

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On 2/1/2017 at 7:10 AM, Newt said:

Provided the holy grail of roleplaying - ONE UNIFIED SYSTEM TO RULE THEM ALL!!

 

Not having played it, I think it provided a "Platonic ideal" of RPGs, or at least something close to The Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work.  It tossed out all the wargaming mishegoss of hit points, armor points, movement rates, damage dice, modifiers for every little situation, and so on.  Did you roll better than your opponent?  Then you Did the Thing!  If it's an extended contest, you each roll to Do the Thing until one person Did It more than the other and/or Did It the required number of times first.

Granted, the "cancel masteries and roll low then calculate a success level" mechanic isn't as intuitive as "roll high, beat a number".  And there's something to be said for fixed difficulties.  And it's been done before: White Wolf got pretty close, S. John Ross's Risus is HeroQuest Lite with d6s and funny stick figures, Fudge and D6 were leaning that way. and I'm sure somebody else got there and didn't know it.

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As a Narrator, it lets me feel confident running ANY kind of contest and framing the most complicated of oppositions in a way that I know won't take me 3 game sessions of play to resolve. Pretty sure I ran the whole Battle of Iceland in one evening.

Edited by Different Games
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On 2/2/2017 at 0:10 AM, Newt said:

My path through RPGs is broadly speaking was: D&D (80s) then RuneQuest (90s) and then HeroWars/HeroQuest late 90s through the 2000s. This decade its been a mix of stuff, strangely revisiting the previous decades in many respects.

Noteable influences over the years: Paranioa in the 80s (taught me I don't need to be a slave to the rules as writen), Feng-Shui in the 90s (most of the emerging storytelling games stuff left me cold, but Feng-shui hit the spot esepcially the GM guidance for NO MORE BORING COMBATS AGAIN EVER!!!) and Burning Wheel in the 2000s (which generally reinvograted my interest in running and playing rpgs at at time when I was getting too grown up to be dealing with passive players and boring plots that go nowhere - quite simply Burning Wheel showed me how to get players  and myself co-creating adventures that were meaningful and memorable).

Interesting to hear about Burning Wheel. I'd never heard of it. I've subsequently read up about its use of roleplaying as a tangible mechanic.

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HW/HQ re-booted my gaming, got me involved in play-by-mail RPGing, taught me how to be a narrator/GM, and was a major step in developing my son’s love of gaming.  So I'd say it did quite a bit for me :)

 

My gaming history is probably not uncommon: several years in early adolescence playing several game systems, with a group of munchkins.  Lost my group and didn’t game for a few years.  In university met a fantastic game master and played a few systems over a few years (including RQ3) with much deeper character development – but it was all out of game development, the rules didn’t really support it or take advantage of it.  After graduation I stayed in touch with that GM but moved away and went for over a decade without any RPG activity in my life.  Then that GM tipped me off to Hero Wars coming out.

 

Still without a gaming group, I used the Hero Wars Yahoo groups as my creative/gaming outlet.  I read nearly everything posted and got involved in quite a few discussions.  Heck, I even contributed some ideas that saw print in one form or another.  When I was offered a chance to join a play-by-yahoo-group game I jumped at it, and played in a few short-lived a couple more enduring games *.  All of my RPG-ing as a player since then has been in some variant of this sort of format.  

 

The straightforward nature and low prep requirements of HW/HQ gave me the confidence to start a game for my son once he was old enough.  HQ actually made a natural next step from the excellent kids intro RPG Night-Time Animals Save the World (google it if you have younger kids, it is a beautiful, elegant, design).   We ran that game for three or four years and had a lot of fun with it, starting from before the long winter and carrying through to after the Dragon-Rise.  (Eventually my son found some of my old ShadowRun books, thought that setting looked cool, and asked if we could switch to playing that system instead.  Great setting, but the mechanics run sooooo much slower.  Sadly it is a crunch based setting and I’ve never come up with a way to port in the HQ rules that has satisfied me on that front).

 

In the same time period my game with my son ended, the online game I was in ended, the HQ yahoo groups were replaced with proprietary forums, and Moon Design came up with some actions and comments that seemed pretty dismissive of much of the community driven products that had helped support early HW/HQ (and which I had really enjoyed).  Between it all I wandered away from the game, but I wandered away with a much larger gaming tool-box, a richer imagination, and a lot of good memories.

 

* By the way, first edition HQ is possibly the best game ever for the play-by-mail/forum/etc. sort of format – all that scouring your character sheet for augments becomes a positive in this format, because it fuels creative narrations of what the character is doing and routinely pulls in all sorts of different aspects of the character.  That is a problem in face-to-face games, but in the text-based online version it finally achieved my goal of having the whole set of background and personality and quirks of a character being a mechanical part of the game.

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2 hours ago, Brex said:

Moon Design came up with some actions and comments that seemed pretty dismissive of much of the community driven products that had helped support early HW/HQ

Probably reflective of other issues in that period.  I've found Moon Design/Chaosium to have been very helpful in getting my own PbF games underway, and encouraging the community in this forum as well.

2 hours ago, Brex said:

By the way, first edition HQ is possibly the best game ever for the play-by-mail/forum/etc. sort of format

Although I had HW/HQ1, I did not have a gaming group at the time, so never tried it out as GM or player.  But I love running HQG (getting towards 3 years now with my Colymar campaign) in PbF for most of the reasons you note.

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On 2/1/2017 at 5:10 AM, Newt said:

Provided the holy grail of roleplaying - ONE of the UNIFIED SYSTEMs TO RULE THEM ALL!

Fixed it for ya!  :D

More seriously:  some folks like theirs crunchy, and go with stuff like GURPS or HERO (or BRP BGB) for their "rule them all" rulesets.

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4 hours ago, g33k said:

More seriously:  some folks like theirs crunchy, and go with stuff like GURPS or HERO (or BRP BGB) for their "rule them all" rulesets.

Yes, indeed. While I have no problems with HQ used for fantasy, I would dislike to use it for hard or semi-hard science fiction, where the narrative is restricted by the verisimilitude of the setting's technology. What a hero can do is not well defined, which allows for a very flexible narrative approach, but the technology the hero uses often requires a more hard definition to support the suspension of disbelief.

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5 hours ago, rust said:

Yes, indeed. While I have no problems with HQ used for fantasy, I would dislike to use it for hard or semi-hard science fiction, where the narrative is restricted by the verisimilitude of the setting's technology. What a hero can do is not well defined, which allows for a very flexible narrative approach, but the technology the hero uses often requires a more hard definition to support the suspension of disbelief.

Honestly, I'm not sure the tech settings DO need the crunchy systems.  Take (for example) a game like Shadowrun:  one can go old-school and gear-porn, trick out your rifle with every little bit of mechanical advantage out of the lists of augments & gear &c... or you can go SR:Anarchy with a "Shadow Amp" for the rifle and another for the PC... and done.  Fantasy can be as persnickity about issues of is-and-isn't-possible as sci-fi can; so long as the players have enough of a common vision of the game world, they can run a very-narrative (even entirely free-form) game.

YscifiMV.

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4 hours ago, g33k said:

Honestly, I'm not sure the tech settings DO need the crunchy systems. 

I think it depends a lot on the players. Most of those I met had a tendency to ask for lots of technical details of their characters' science fiction gear, often because the knowledge about the capabilities of the equipment (e.g. vehicles, starships, etc.) formed an important part of the common vision of the game world. However, I have no doubt that a more narrative and less detail oriented approach to science fiction is possible - until now it did just not work for me.

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5 minutes ago, rust said:

I think it depends a lot on the players. Most of those I met had a tendency to ask for lots of technical details of their characters' science fiction gear, often because the knowledge about the capabilities of the equipment (e.g. vehicles, starships, etc.) formed an important part of the common vision of the game world. However, I have no doubt that a more narrative and less detail oriented approach to science fiction is possible - until now it did just not work for me.

You can always treat tech equipment like sidekicks or allies of the characters - a few defining characteristics, a few flaws (defining the limits of the equipment), and there you are. Tech equipment can be reasonably assumed to be of a similar level of sapience as a bound one-trick spirit or a steed.

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16 hours ago, g33k said:

Fixed it for ya!  :D

More seriously:  some folks like theirs crunchy, and go with stuff like GURPS or HERO (or BRP BGB) for their "rule them all" rulesets.

Errr please don't FIX my post to make your own point ;)

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8 hours ago, rust said:

I think it depends a lot on the players. Most of those I met had a tendency to ask for lots of technical details of their characters' science fiction gear, often because the knowledge about the capabilities of the equipment (e.g. vehicles, starships, etc.) formed an important part of the common vision of the game world. However, I have no doubt that a more narrative and less detail oriented approach to science fiction is possible - until now it did just not work for me.

IMO, the key is to have what hypertech can do defined as setting information. The HQ2 mechanics don't tell you what is Easy, Nigh-Impossible, or a Stretch for a given ability, you interpret what's plausible based on the game world. Many games out there convey that information via statblocks, but if you know those things about your setting because it's written down or discussed some other way, you're good to go. The key is making sure there's a common fictional framework.

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7 hours ago, Newt said:

Errr please don't FIX my post to make your own point ;)

Apologies -- no offense meant!  "fixed it for ya" is a common meme ...

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For me, the roleplaying path began with an article on D&D. Inspired and intrigued by the concept of "role-playing", I made plans to buy the entire game, until, of course, I saw the price tag. But all was not lost, for four years ago today, in a dusty old closet, on the very top shelf, sat two things that would set my heart on the hobby which has brought me here. The first item was a beaten old folder with three books: The Fantasy Trip, Advanced Melee, and Advanced Wizardry, which caught my Tolkien-fed mind first, yet farther back, behind that was a battered and beaten copy of what I can still say is my favourite game: RuneQuest 2nd Edition, by the Chaosium.

It wasn't long before I gathered some friends and started off on a wild trollkin-slaying adventure with more than a bit of confusion, dismay, and general mishap. But what really intrigued me was this "Glorantha" which we adventured in, a world so unlike the high fantasy of Tolkien, a world which I wanted, no, needed to learn more about (especially the dragonewts, cuz I love me some dragons). I became obsessed, fanatic, devoted to this alien, fictional reality. All day I would debate on the matter of gods, sorcery, the Moon, the EWF, the dawn. At all of our RQ sessions I would strive to make it as canonically accurate as possible, much to my players' dismay. Then one day I discovered, on my daily hunt for Glorantha goodness, a new game, one tailored specifically for this fantasy, a new type of quest: Heroquest.

I read the rules, once, twice, thrice! I made cults and characters, I delved into the depths of the Otherside and met the Spider, I summoned Dragons and filled the sky with storms, I learned a new way to game and GM. I played a few test games within my troop, others I ran on my friends' birthdays, sometimes we just did them because we were bored. Heroquest was simple, quick, direct. It gave us a freedom of narration and storytelling that the strike ranks and percentiles of Runequest simply stifled. Soon, we began to meld elements of both games, crafting epic (and oftentimes hilarious) tales of sword-swinging, spell-slinging, god-talking Gloranthan adventure.

Heroquest taught me to have fun in games, to be creative and explore. It taught me that there is always another way, and that your Glorantha will vary, and shouldn't stifle your fun just for correctness. It gave me some of the best games of my life, from jail breaking and hundred-foot-tall glowing godly avatars in the 2nd Age to a high-flying steampunk adventure with a Swedish engineer, a Victorian Gentleman with nothing to do, and an impeccably-dressed anti-Frenchmen aristocrat. Though Runequest will always hold the highest seat at the table in my heart, Heroquest is seated at its right hand forevermore in recognition of all the fun times and new ideas it brought to me.

Edited by Richard S.
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Genre isn't the same as play style or style of narrative, though they are easy to confuse. HeroQuest can be great for science fiction, but not every science fiction story. Even fairly hard SF does not need to focus on the detail of the tech. I think HeroQuest would be a pretty good match for, say, Iain M. Banks, where the technological capabilities of major characters are often so all encompassing as to be 'indistinguishable from magic', but personality conflicts still drives the narrative. 

It might be less good for, say, Larry Niven, who often turns a story point on a small detail of physics. 

Its a very adaptable system for a style of play. And there are more detailed considerations than just crunchiness as to how well a system fits your game as well (e.g. Gumshoe is between heroquest and runequest in crunchiness and detail, but arguably better than either for investigative games, hill folk/ drama system better for interpersonal focused games).

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