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JonL

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Branching off from the publications thread where @Andrew J. Luther linked to his excellent blog post on using HQ for D&D-style adventuring & stories. I thought to start a new thread to compare notes. As I alluded to previously, I've toyed around with some similar ideas and thought it would be worthwhile to compare notes and share with the community.

The tricky question for me was where to draw the line between letting HeroQuest indulge its "Ability ratings are just measures of problem solving power, resistance is all about pacing drama." tendencies,  and how much to break from that and quantify fictional tropes within the mechanics (as HQG does with Runes and Sorcery ratings) in order to emulate the genre at hand.

Details to follow.

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I'd think that for running a D&D styled HQ campaign it would make sense to switch to the older way where HQ resistance were representative of how skilled the character was.

 

Screenshot_20170926-141034.png

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Here's the approach I took...

 

Making Characters

Distribute 13 and 15 ratings among an Ability for Race/Culture and another for an Alignment. (more on Alignment later)

Select either one Character Class Ability at 19, two at 16, or three at 13. They can be as simple as "Fighter" or "Thief" but feel free to make them more pithy and colorful if you wish. The ratings will have an impact on spellcasting frequency for classes that use magic.

Choose five other Abilities rated at 13 (notable traits, followers, gear*, special powers, Grimoires, etc)

Choose a Distinguishing Characteristic, either as a stand-alone Ability at 17, or as a +3 Breakout Ability attached to another Ability (making it into a Keyword if it isn't one already).

Spend ten discretionary points raising Abilities (1:1), adding Breakout Abilities under other Abilities (making them into Keywords), adding additional Grimoires (for those that use them), or adding new Abilities rated at 13.

No Ability can be raised more than 5 above it's initial rating during chargen, nor can a Breakout Ability can be better than +5 relative to its associated Keyword, though those could be combined.

Choose (up to) three Flaws with ratings matching the highest, 2nd highest, & lowest Ability ratings.

Flaws are not required, but present an opportunity to gain additional Hero Points during play. Flaws can also occasionally function as Abilities under the right circumstances (such as using "Stubborn Cuss" to resist mind control) and regular Abilities can even work as Flaws on occasion (such as a Halfling having height-related problems).

* Re: Gear - You don't need to have a particular ability to have a piece of gear. You're assumed to have whatever items are appropriate to your other Abilities. Having "My Grandfather's Sword 15" means it's something of particular significance in overcoming challenges, and as a distinct Ability could also be used to augment another Ability, such as "Fighter," and vice versa. Noteworthy/useful treasure or magic items can be benefits of victory, and can be cemented with Hero Points or advancement choices as normal.

Edited by JonL

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4 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

I'd think that for running a D&D styled HQ campaign it would make sense to switch to the older way where HQ resistance were representative of how skilled the character was.

<GameAids.pdf snipped>

You certainly could go that far, and I think it would be especially rewarding if you wanted to zoom-in to the nitty gritty of dungeon crawling or have a really large Zero-to-Hero spread. For myself, I leaned more towards sticking with broader qualitative ratings outside of magic, much as HQG does. 

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With Magic-Users and their ilk, I thought that spell books and spells/day are core elements of the fiction, but I also decided to loosen up a bit and offload minor effects like cantrips and Read Magic into general use of the Class Ability, especially WRT things like augments and assisting fellow party members, you can always do a little something, even is your spells/day are tapped out.

 Magic-Users

Characters with "Magic-User" or equivalent Character Class Ability/Keyword can cast one spell per day for every three points the ability is over 10. That is to say:
MU Rating:spells/day
13:1
16:2
19:3
2w:4
5w:5
8w:6
11w:7
etc
Additionally, they may cast one additional spell/day for each Grimoire beyond their first they study (see below).

Grimoires will each have several spells focused around a certain theme. Magic users start with one Grimoire for free. Additional Grimoires may be purchased with the characters discretionary points during chargen. Grimoires usually have no rating of their own, they simply provide access to spells that are cast with the rating of the Class Ability/Keyword that permitted their purchase. Magic-Users who excel a particular type of magic might take a breakout Ability from their Magic-User class to represent that, or choose additional Ability that could be used as an augment when performing appropriate magic.

Magic-user types will start play knowing four spells plus additional spell for each Grimoire they have. They may select these five+ spells freely from among their Grimoire lists. Discretionary points may also be used to choose additional spells, 1:1. A new spell from within a Grimoire can be learned between sessions as an advancement option. Characters with Magic-User ratings of 10w or better can also develop new spells which are thematically related to any Grimoire they possess, either as an advancement between sessions or as an Extended Simple Contest with an interval of 1 month. Resistance for spell research should be dependent on the relative power of the spell and the researcher, as well as the overall level and prevalence of magic in the game world.

While there are no "spell levels" as such, "low-level" spells like "Levitate" will often face lower resistance from the GM's opposing roll when cast then "Fly," and similar, though this is also subject to other considerations such as the dramatic flow of the adventure. Using particularly elaborate rituals, exotic spell components and the like may also provide augments to spellcasting, where appropriate.

A "Magic User"-type Class Ability can also be used for things like detecting magic, reading ancient scripts, using brief/minor effects to augment other abilities, defend against certain mind-affecting effects, and so on without "casting a spell" per se. Even when your wizard is tapped out of spells/day, the character is not useless.

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With Magic-Users and their ilk, I thought that spell books and spells/day are core elements of the fiction, but I also decided to loosen up a bit and offload minor effects like cantrips and Read Magic into general use of the Class Ability, especially WRT things like augments and assisting fellow party members, you can always do a little something, even is your spells/day are tapped out.

 Magic-Users

Characters with "Magic-User" or equivalent Character Class Ability/Keyword can cast one spell per day for every three points the ability is over 10. That is to say:
MU Rating:spells/day
13:1
16:2
19:3
2w:4
5w:5
8w:6
11w:7
etc
Additionally, they may cast one additional spell/day for each Grimoire beyond their first they study (see below).

Grimoires will each have several spells focused around a certain theme. Magic users start with one Grimoire for free. Additional Grimoires may be purchased with the characters discretionary points during chargen. Grimoires usually have no rating of their own, they simply provide access to spells that are cast with the rating of the Class Ability/Keyword that permitted their purchase. Magic-Users who excel a particular type of magic might take a breakout Ability from their Magic-User class to represent that, or choose additional Ability that could be used as an augment when performing appropriate magic.

Magic-user types will start play knowing four spells plus additional spell for each Grimoire they have. They may select these five+ spells freely from among their Grimoire lists. Discretionary points may also be used to choose additional spells, 1:1. A new spell from within a Grimoire can be learned between sessions as an advancement option. Characters with Magic-User ratings of 10w or better can also develop new spells which are thematically related to any Grimoire they possess, either as an advancement between sessions or as an Extended Simple Contest with an interval of 1 month. Resistance for spell research should be dependent on the relative power of the spell and the researcher, as well as the overall level and prevalence of magic in the game world.

While there are no "spell levels" as such, "low-level" spells like "Levitate" will often face lower resistance from the GM's opposing roll when cast then "Fly," and similar, though this is also subject to other considerations such as the dramatic flow of the adventure. Using particularly elaborate rituals, exotic spell components and the like may also provide augments to spellcasting, where appropriate.

A "Magic User"-type Class Ability can also be used for things like detecting magic, reading ancient scripts, using brief/minor effects to augment other abilities, defend against certain mind-affecting effects, and so on without "casting a spell" per se. Even when your wizard is tapped out of spells/day, the character is not useless.

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Here are some example Grimoires containing spells from the old AD&D lists, grouped by theme. They mostly have low-level spells with a few mid-level spells here and there. Over the course of a campaign, characters might discover or learn new/higher level spells within these the themes of their existing Grimoires, or perhaps obtain new and more rare/precious Grimoires containing deeper magics. 

A Prestidigitator's Primer
A classic reference tome collecting basic spells geared toward helping a journeyman magic-user survive the dangerous world outside his former master's protection.
--Magic Missile
--Shield
--Light
--Feather Fall
--Protection from Evil
--Shocking grasp
--Mending
--Jump
--Scare
--Locate Object
--Web
--Feign Death
--Dispel magic

Essences of of Motion
A basic text on the application of magical power to force and movement.
--Feather Fall
--Jump
--Push
--Spider Climb
--Run
--Tenser's Floating Disc
--Unseen Servant
--Levitate
--Shatter
--Haste
--Slow
--Gust of Wind
--Fly

The Fragile Self
A treatise on effecting the minds of others by the notorious seducer and manipulator, Gavarge.
--Charm Person
--Friends
--Hold Person
--Taunt
--Message
--Sleep
--Forget
--Scare
--ESP
--Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter
--Suggestion

The Burning Hand
The first (and most common) of three volumes on pyromancy by the ancient archmage Xeross. Intended to be an introductory work. Xeross's later (and more rare) works, "The Ball of Flame" and "The Conflagrations," are said to reveal the deeper secrets of pyromancy.
--Affect Normal Fires
--Melt
--Firewater
--Burning Hands
--Pyrotechnics
--Flaming Sphere
--Light
--Flame Arrow
--Stinking Cloud

The Peerless Burglar
A collection of spells for stealth and theft
--Spider Climb
--Fools Gold
--Invisibility
--Leomund's trap
--Nystul's Magic Aura
--Locate Object
--Rope Trick
--Alter Self
--Knock
--Infravision

On the Malleability of the Three Dimensions
An examination of the magical principles that underlie distance, size, and space.

--Message
--Levitation
--Enlarge
--Shrink
--Item
--Rope Trick
--Mirror Image
--Deeppockets
--Blink
--Clairaudience
--Clairvoyance

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For Clerics, I moved away from a standard spell list, as I always thought all Clerics having the same spells was a bit off. They get fewer miracles/day than the magic spell casters do, but can have a bit more flexability wrt "at will" effects. 

Clerics

Characters with "Cleric" or equivalent Character Class Ability/Keyword should do the following:
Note two or three things your deity for particularly embodies or is "God of..."
Note 3-5 feats, trappings, goals, or acts for which your deity is renowned.
Note three taboos, geasa, vows which your faith forbids or must follow.

The character may invoke their deity's power for miracles that are in line with the above description once per day for every four points the ability is above 9. That is to say:
Cl Rating:miracles/day
13:1
17:2
1w:3
5w:4
9w:5
13w:6
etc

Additionally, they may do the following things without counting towards their daily miracle count: Turn/Command undead, heal "Hurt" level injuries or stabilize those with greater injuries, use divine blessings or guidance as an augment or assist, sense holy or unholy energies, resist certain supernatural attacks, inspire the faithful,and so on.

Stretch penalties will be assessed if the Cleric has been or is violating the taboos of the faith, or if the action attempted is contrary to the deity's character. If the character's Alignment ability is a strong match for the faith, it can often be used as an augment for clerical magic, while an opposed Alignment may sometimes function as a Flaw.

Non-Clerics with Divine Favor

Other characters may follow or be blessed by a particular deity without having a Cleric Character Class Ability. If someone takes a "Follower of..." or similar ability for a given faith, they may not perform the outright miracles, healing, or turning that an actual Cleric can, but may still call upon their divine patron for augments, guidance, and protection. A "Paladin" or similar Character Class Ability also includes this capability, and may also take other Cleric-like abilities (such as Turning) as breakout abilities if desired.

Edited by JonL

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Alignment

A character's Alignment ability represents not only a descriptor of morals/ethics, but also a gauge of the character's affinity and connection to the supernal energies emanating from the Outer Planes,  powers and beings that embody them, . It will mostly be used as an augment for other abilities, but might on occasion be used directly for things like resisting Charm effects or other manipulation that are attempting to make you go against your Alignment, or perhaps even as a Flaw if being manipulated by someone clever enough to exploit your personality. 

Characters' susceptibility to "Detect..." or "Protection from..." spells are also effected by their alignment and its rating, particularly in the latter case. Characters with Alignment ratings of 1w or higher present Moderate Resistance to Detect Good/Evil/Law/etc magic or effects. Those with 10w or greater present Low resistance to those Detects. Characters with Alignments rated below 1w are not effected by Protection from Good/Evil/Law/etc magic. Those with extremely powerful Alignment grant a free bump-up to Protection from _____ spells effecting them for every mastery level past the first.

It is even possible, though often quite difficult, to communicate with other creatures of your same Alignment solely via the common supernal affinity you share. This is more of an intuitive understanding of one another than a verbal one, and complex mundane concepts are difficult to express via "Alignment Language."

 

Edited by JonL

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@Andrew J. Luther, looking at the example characters you posted. I'm curious about some of the breakouts abilities. There frequently seem to be things like "Fight with Longsword & Shield" and "Longsword Specialist." under the same Keyword. While both thematic (especially retaining the 70's concept of what a "longsword" is about), that limits their usefulness in play since breakouts under the same ability can't augment one another. Could you elaborate on what you've got going on there? I assume there's more to it that I don't yet understand. :)

 

Edited by JonL

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@JonL, the idea at the time I created these a couple of years ago was that the "Fight with..." ability was used for straight combat-related stuff, and the "...Specialist" ability was related to everything else that might come up. So the Longsword Specialist ability would be used to identify famous longswords, do basic repairs to one that was damaged, estimate the value of a particular sword, and other things like that. I knew that I could let the players use their "Fight with..." abilities to also do this as a stretch, but this was my first stab at D&D throug HeroQuest.

One other thing you may note (that I totally forgot to mention in my blog post) is that I houseruled a difference between Hero Points and Experience Points. Basically, Hero Points were used for all the normal stuff except advancement, and XP were used solely for advancement.

I was also looking at your posts above regarding magic users and spells per day. I've been noodling with a few different ways to do D&D magic. One thing to keep in mind is that the spells per day mechanic, in conjunction with the spell memorization times, were a limit on spell casters in order to help balance them against other classes in early versions of D&D (especially AD&D). This isn't an issue in HeroQuest, because you don't get the linear fighter / quadratic wizard problem due to the nature of abilities, the lack of classes, and the way characters advance.

However, spells per day is definitely a part of D&D, and if you're trying to keep that feel, then it makes sense to either include it, or set up the magic system so that it has a similar feel, even if the mechanics are not the same.

 

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Some more thoughts...

As I said, I've been batting around a few different ways of doing this:

- The simplest method I came up with was that the wizard could cast all the spells he/she learned from the grimoire. When he/she cast a spell, if the contest result was Marginal or Minor, the spell would be erased from the caster's memory for that day, and if the result was Major or Complete, the spell was not erased and could be cast again. This worked fairly well, and the player of the wizard often made sure there was a spare Hero Point so that she could bump up the result of a contest when she really wanted to hold onto a spell for later use. I like this because it's easy, though if a player is having a rough night with the d20, they can end up with a lot of one-shot spells.

- A slightly more complicated method I considered was more like Shadowrun than D&D. Each time a wizard cast a spell, he/she would then roll another Simple Contest to not "lose" the spell for the day. A Marginal result would allow one additional casting and then it would definitely be gone from memory, and any other successful result meant the spell was not expended from memory. I didn't use this one because it wasn't really like D&D and it wasn't as simple as the one above.

- A third option was to simply say that once a spell was cast, that was it for the day. This is my least favourite option because it means that a character is regularly not able to use abilities for which they've paid. A workaround could be to make spells cheaper to learn, and a wizard could choose to learn multiple instances of the same spell. That might solve my issues with it, though it would end up cluttering up the character sheet after a while.

- The final option goes the other way and gets rid of spells/day altogether. After all, characters are already balanced rather well in HQ, so spells per day is a mechanic in search of a problem that no longer exists. Of course, this also doesn't really feel like D&D either, so some groups may not feel it's appropriate.

Personally, while I wanted to retain the overall feel of D&D, I wasn't going to limit myself by trying to emulate every last element of that game and my players were also flexible. We were after a game that emulated the D&D genre (which is its own thing within the fantasy genre), rather than just play "D&D but with a different roll-for-success mechanic."

One other thing to keep in mind - as the GM (DM), I controlled what spells were in the wizard's initial grimoire (with player input of course), and I decided what spells she would eventually have access to, based on what treasure I threw into the game. This is, of course, exactly what earlier D&D campaigns expected, so it's no different than what we did with AD&D back in the day. This also means that I can easily avoid problem spells that I feel may have detrimental effects on the game.

But the most important check and balance for me is that I rarely play with people I don't already know, and if something in a game turns out to be an issue, my players are very reasonable about making adjustments because they want the game to be enjoyable for everyone in the group.

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15 hours ago, JonL said:

on using HQ for D&D-style adventuring & stories

Just adding this for reference, D101's series on Dungeoneering & Fantasy:

Ye Little Book Of HeroQuest Dungeoneering - http://testosc.drivethrurpg.com/product/85609/Ye-Little-Book-of-HeroQuest-Dungeoneering

Ye Little Book of HeroQuest Monsters http://testosc.drivethrurpg.com/product/83848/Ye-Little-Book-of-HeroQuest-Monsters

there was also Ye Little Book of HeroQuest Fantasy, but I don't have that, perhaps @Newt can tell.

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Yup Ye Little Book of HeroQuest Fantasy (Dungeoneering + Monsters combined) as my very quick take on a HeroQuest D&D conversion. It was partly an experiment to see how well generic HeroQuest products would sell, and partly a bit of an experiment in doing a pdf product at a time when DriveThru seemed to be awash with small pdf only products for Savage Worlds, Fate and of course D20 type games. It did ok and I achieved what I set out what I to do with it, but I always felt that I could do more with it If I spent more time and effort on it. That's why I pulled if from sale...I have plans for a larger version of it (with a more sensible name ;) ) at some point.

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10 hours ago, Andrew J. Luther said:

Some more thoughts...

As I said, I've been batting around a few different ways of doing this:

- The simplest method I came up with was that the wizard could cast all the spells he/she learned from the grimoire. When he/she cast a spell, if the contest result was Marginal or Minor, the spell would be erased from the caster's memory for that day, and if the result was Major or Complete, the spell was not erased and could be cast again. This worked fairly well, and the player of the wizard often made sure there was a spare Hero Point so that she could bump up the result of a contest when she really wanted to hold onto a spell for later use. I like this because it's easy, though if a player is having a rough night with the d20, they can end up with a lot of one-shot spells.

 

This is similar to how Dungeon World expresses the same principle, and it works pretty well there too.

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2 hours ago, David Scott said:

Just adding this for reference, D101's series on Dungeoneering & Fantasy:

Ye Little Book Of HeroQuest Dungeoneering - http://testosc.drivethrurpg.com/product/85609/Ye-Little-Book-of-HeroQuest-Dungeoneering

Ye Little Book of HeroQuest Monsters http://testosc.drivethrurpg.com/product/83848/Ye-Little-Book-of-HeroQuest-Monsters

there was also Ye Little Book of HeroQuest Fantasy, but I don't have that, perhaps @Newt can tell.

 

1 hour ago, Newt said:

Yup Ye Little Book of HeroQuest Fantasy (Dungeoneering + Monsters combined) as my very quick take on a HeroQuest D&D conversion. It was partly an experiment to see how well generic HeroQuest products would sell, and partly a bit of an experiment in doing a pdf product at a time when DriveThru seemed to be awash with small pdf only products for Savage Worlds, Fate and of course D20 type games. It did ok and I achieved what I set out what I to do with it, but I always felt that I could do more with it If I spent more time and effort on it. That's why I pulled if from sale...I have plans for a larger version of it (with a more sensible name ;) ) at some point.

I'm psyched to hear that those and some of the other D101 back catalog are still available on DriveThru. I'd gone looking on the D101 site and assumed they were no longer available when they weren't in the store there. (I still <3 The Book of Glorious Joy, @Newt, even if it's out of setp with the current Western paradigm. If I were to run a HQ game based on Medieval romances, or allegorical adventure tales like The Faerie Queene, I would gladly lean on TBoGJ)

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To be clear if a book is still available from DriveThru, but not sold via the Web Store (because I can only hold a limited stock at D101 HQ),  I do list it on the store it with a clear link it is out of stock with me to the product page on DriveThru. So it is always worth checking on the D101 Webstore for stuff. You never know what you might find there :)

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10 hours ago, Andrew J. Luther said:

, the idea at the time I created these a couple of years ago was that the "Fight with..." ability was used for straight combat-related stuff, and the "...Specialist" ability was related to everything else that might come up. So the Longsword Specialist ability would be used to identify famous longswords, do basic repairs to one that was damaged, estimate the value of a particular sword, and other things like that. I knew that I could let the players use their "Fight with..." abilities to also do this as a stretch, but this was my first stab at D&D throug HeroQuest.

That's an interesting take. I would think that much of that would be a fine non-stretch use of the parent keyword itself, though having the specialized breakout for it for someone who is in particular a sword geek would certainly be at an advantage in doing so, being both eligible for Just-the-Right-Tool-for-the-Job plot augment and having a more specific ability privileged over more general ones. A +4 is a lot to sink into such a thing that might not be applicable to all that many conflicts, but OTOH if you go old-school and have lots of whacky intelligent magic longswords loose in the game setting, perhaps it would come up quite a bit. :)

From a mechanical effectiveness  standpoint, I'd expect to frequently see excellence with a particular culture's  a signature weapon(s) show up as a breakout under the race/culture keyword, and thus be usable as an augment for a fighting ability elsewhere on the sheet. 

Having touched on the stretch, specific>general, and Just-the-Right-Tool-for-the-Job concepts, I think that their application is crucial in capturing the feel of a class/race based game. If Prestidigitator Paul wants to fight using his "Magic-User" keyword, he's likely both Stretching and facing some disadvantages relating to armor disparity & such, unless he's got a "Deadly with a Staff" breakout and maybe a few other equalizers in play. Similarly, anybody can try to disarm a trap or pick a lock or whatever, but a Thief with appropriate abilities is going to be at a significant advantage in doing so. 

Despite some role-definition & niche protection being part of the emulated genre, I do like the idea that using "Hobbit" for stealth or "Wood Elf" for archery are as legit as using one's class ability for doing so.

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I didn't note it in the post on my blog, but those character sheets are pretty old, and I'd do a few things differently now. I'll probably update them if I expand on some of the D&D stuff over the next few weeks. (Not only that, but I did the character sheets in Excel at the time rather than InDesign, as I was having issues with the Adobe Design Suite on that PC, so anything I did now would look a lot better than those do.)

I do agree that breaking things out to avoid the stretch penalties is a good idea, just as using racial keywords for what would normally be class abilities is also cool.

My objective in any of these "conversions" is to be able to use an existing setting (e.g. Ptolus) or adventure (e.g. Rise of the Runelords) and have it capture the general feeling of the native system without converting over all the specifics. For example, I don't want to emulate levels at all, because I don't particularly like them. I'd like to have a group of PCs go through an entire Adventure Path, and then go somewhere else in Golarion and do a different adventure path with the same characters. That's something you couldn't do with Pathfinder, because at the end of one adventure path, you'd be way too powerful to go back and start another. But since a group could play through an entire Adventure Path using HeroQuest in a fraction of the time that it would take using Pathfinder, it would be great to have a campaign made up of wandering adventurers who get involved in one major event after another.

This was why I used HQ for my Ptolus campaign. As I noted in my blog post, there's so much to do in that setting that the characters rise in level way too fast in standard D&D. That wasn't a problem at all in HQ.

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For anyone who might be interested, I posted another segment on my blog today where I cover how one might use a published adventure for another system (in this case, Pathfinder) with the HQ 2 rules. I walk through the first adventure in the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path, Burnt Offerings and describe how I would run it in HQ. I hope it helps to show how easy it is to "convert" a cool published adventure with almost no actual work required.

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