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Ian Cooper

Bring Out Your Dead

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Now, I don't want to restart the 'typos' flame wars with respect to HeroQuest, but as we prepare the SRD it would be useful to find out which sections of the HeroQuest rules you find particularly badly explained and have struggled with. The SRD is our opportunity to inject some clarity into those rules, and try to resolve ambiguities.

What I would ask in this thread is you list examples of text that you find unclear and an obstacle to understanding or play.

I want to rule that this is brainstorming exercise. There will be no evaluation here. If someone says 'I find rule X confusing', they do. This thread is not for debating that or providing an explanation to them. Please start a separate thread for that if you must.

Evaluation, the step that comes after brainstorming, is what Chaosium will do. We can't promise that we will get to everything, but let's see what we can do. So, don't evaluate here.

Once the SRD comes out we will make it possible to submit changes for clarity or confusion etc. But let's get the worse of the issues nailed, if we can.

 

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p.70: It's not obvious that the Group Simple Results should use the scoring from the Extended Contest Resolution Points table.  And overall I find that the Group Simple Contest is the hardest of the different contests to read through and understand.

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Here are mine (and those that I've noted that others have raised, which also seem confusing to me now that I look at those), all based on the HQG rulebook:

p. 35 - point 8 - does this mean only to spend on improving *existing* Runes and keywords, not buying new ones?

pp. 35/36/46 - Distinguishing characteristic. If you choose it as a new ability, its score is 17. As a breakout ability, it adds +1 to the score of the linked keyword. But if this keyword has a score of 13 (like the basic score of the third rune), does it mean than the distinguishing characteristic increases to +4 to reach the minimum of 17 or does it keeps its +1?

pp.60/63 - inconsistency about whether you can use any number of Hero Points or just one. p.60 1st column, second-to-last paragraph says only one, p.63 says in item 6 you can use any number for a Simple Contest.

p.63 - The results table is very confusing to a newcomer (always a victory and never a defeat?), and much better on p.28 of the HQ core rulebook.

p.101 - (ok, this is a typo, but it's a very important one because it changes the meaning) In Defensive Responses it says "If the hero wins the exchange, he lodges 2 fewer Resolution Points against his opponent. If the hero loses the exchange, the number of Resolution Points lodged against his opponent decreases by 1." The second sentence should say "If the hero loses the exchange, the number of Resolution Points lodged by his opponent decreases by 1".

p.116 - Complete Defeat mentioned in the example in the second column, fifth paragraph, presumably at the King's Banquet, and in the second column, third paragraph it refers to major victories/defeats being double arrows. This is confusing because you would think that both Major and Complete Defeats should then be double arrows, but it's not marked like this in the Sample Notation diagram at the bottom of the first column.

 

 

 

 

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I was confused by the table on pg63 initially. Being used to similar tables from Harn, it did take me scribbling on the page to make it clearer. Eg, attacker or action instigating party along the top and defender or reciever on the side. As is there is no clear divide. Then the row and column names needed to show instigating side or reciever side winning or loosing. I know its easy for old hands, but initially I thought it was a typo to have the same words on each half, made know sense. Or do it like Harn and colour code it better, instead of lines across.

My 2d.

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This is a deep one: Heroquest as presented often cannot decide whether or not it is going all-in on "Ability ratings are abstract measures of relative problem solving efficacy and have nothing to do with in-fiction competence or capability. Resistance is just a story-flow control mechanism, and in-fiction circumstances should reflect Resistance rather than vice-versa."

Those principles clash hard with things like:

  • Penalties for facing multiple opponents.
  • Rune-ratings for Glorantha characters gatekeeping cult status and magic access.
  • Penalties to ratings based on being Hurt, Injured, etc.
  • Stretches.
  • Advancing characters + Resistance progression.
  • Factoring in credibility when assessing Resistance

I do not think that any or all of the above should be eliminated from the game. However, I think there needs to be guidance on how and why various rules choices fit best with where your game falls on the Story Flow <-> Credibility spectrum. If you're all the way over in Fairy Tale territory, much of the above should not be part of your game. If you're running  a gritty Noir Detective game, you'll want more of the above.

I think the guidance for GMs in HQG pp 112-114 on balancing credibility and story needs is quite excellent. What would be very beneficial is for the decision of where to fall on the scale to be made even more explicit, and for other mechanics descriptions to provide guidance on how that decision impacts how (or even if) they are applied.

 

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The writing of the whole book is really not clear at all since it intermingles so much GM advice and discussion of tone between the actual rules, which makes it hard to figure out or use as reference. outside of rejigging all the writing I'd reccomend having something like the Heroquest Cheat Sheet on Glorantha.com included

http://www.glorantha.com/docs/heroquest-cheat-sheet/

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4 hours ago, Wrestlepig said:

The writing of the whole book is really not clear at all since it intermingles so much GM advice and discussion of tone between the actual rules, which makes it hard to figure out or use as reference. outside of rejigging all the writing I'd reccomend having something like the Heroquest Cheat Sheet on Glorantha.com included

http://www.glorantha.com/docs/heroquest-cheat-sheet/

Thanks, I had forgotten all about that sheet, and it is a really useful summary of the rules. I will try to include something like that

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OK, I was on board with Hero Wars (kudos to Bruce Ferrie for running a intro session for my group) and ran a small campaign that ended using first edition HeroQuest.

I am currently running a RuneQuest game and layering HQ over the top for crossing onto the Hero/God plane.  As such I have been more closely reading the HQ rules and I am stumbling with the Rising Action stuff.  I think I have a handle on it but I don’t think the rules make it clear.

Would I be right in saying that during an adventure I can run everything unrelated as simple contests and use the consequences after each contest as per page 70.  If I am going to use extended contests I should use the rising action consequence table (top of page 83) for the contests up to the climax and then the climactic consequence table (lower in page 83) for the final contest?  Am I also right to say that the contests in the run up can use a mix of simple and extended by utilising columns 1 and 4 to correlate consequences?  So this table can supersede the table on page 70?

I can see the value in all this but I think it needs more clarity in the rulebook.  It has taken me several read throughs and I persevered simply because I am determined to get it right.  I like the idea of the cheat sheet but that does not (on a quick scan) cover this element of consequences.

 

Stephen

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1 hour ago, StephenMcG said:

Would I be right in saying that during an adventure I can run everything unrelated as simple contests and use the consequences after each contest as per page 70.  If I am going to use extended contests I should use the rising action consequence table (top of page 83) for the contests up to the climax and then the climactic consequence table (lower in page 83) for the final contest?  Am I also right to say that the contests in the run up can use a mix of simple and extended by utilising columns 1 and 4 to correlate consequences?  So this table can supersede the table on page 70?

My recommendation is Always use Simple Contests and Never use Extended Contests.

Not sure what the Rising Action rule is and I don't think I have the original HQ2 Rulebook as a PDF, but you can always use Chained Simple Contests, from Mythic Russia. 

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I used a mixture of simple and extended contests for the Cradle scenario under Hero Wars with, I think, some success. The players won the first few extended contests as waves of Lunars sought to board the cradle but suffered hurts from simple contests from the missile and magic preceding each wave, thus decreasing their abilities to face the next wave.

The extended contests tied things together, are they really that bad in play?

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On 11/25/2018 at 5:14 PM, StephenMcG said:
On 11/25/2018 at 5:14 PM, StephenMcG said:

The extended contests tied things together, are they really that bad in play?

I don't think so, they are a matter of taste. Each Game Master will try HeroQuest 2 and find the ingredients he wants to use and those he don't want to use. I like the way the  Extended Contests pump up the tension at the gaming table. I don't know how to build this kind of tensions with Simple Contests only.

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8 hours ago, soltakss said:

My recommendation is Always use Simple Contests and Never use Extended Contests.

Not sure what the Rising Action rule is and I don't think I have the original HQ2 Rulebook as a PDF, but you can always use Chained Simple Contests, from Mythic Russia. 

Can you talk a bit about this? How do you handle group combats? Why don't you like Extended Contests.

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This isn't a single ruler per se, but a way the rules are presented for play--particularly the tables. I think the best thing that can be done to make the next printing of HeroQuest clearer is to edit the charts to optimize them for clarity in play. Each chart as presented in the text helps explain one particular rule, but when they are all gathered together, they are very hard to follow.

For example, in HQG, the "Pass/Fail Difficulty" and "Difficulty Level" tables are right next to each other--but one goes from "Very Low" difficulty at the top to "Very High" at the bottom, while the other goes in the exact *opposite* direction--from "Nearly Impossible" to "Very low."

Different players (including me) have proposed solutions to these problems with new tables that bring a lot of related information together. For instance, I came up with a table that brought together the tables for "Pass/Fail Difficulty," "Difficulty Level," and "Base Value."

As you probably know, you can find them on the "My HeroQuest Gaming Aids" forum: https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/6839-my-heroquest-gaming-aids/.

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There is an element of the community rules I do not fully understand.

It is not clear what to do when the heroes all belong to separate communities. My reading of the community rules is that there is an underlying assumption that all the heroes belong to the same community. The opening sentence of "Gloranthan Communities" in HQG, p. 119 appears to say it pretty much outright.

If that is the only way that communities can be used in HeroQuest, please make that specific and give guidance on constructing a party where all the heroes share a community.

I can imagine any number of campaigns where the heroes might be working together but all belong to different communities. Consider the typical group of adventurers in Pavis. Pavis:GtA (p. 176) suggests that a hero's community is most likely going to be his or her temple. However, most adventuring parties in Pavis are going to include members of a bunch of different cults.

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On 9/2/2018 at 5:17 PM, jajagappa said:

p.70: It's not obvious that the Group Simple Results should use the scoring from the Extended Contest Resolution Points table.  And overall I find that the Group Simple Contest is the hardest of the different contests to read through and understand.

I concur.

May I add: It would be useful to have advice for the GM on when it is and when it isn't a good idea to use Group Simple Contests. When I have run demo games, I've found myself using them a lot because I wanted to reflect all the heroes contributing to the resolution and I didn't want to use an extended contest. If it's normal to do that a lot, please make that clear to GM's.

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Also, please clarify and emphasize that "success" and "failure" refer to the players' rolls, while "victory" and "defeat" refer to the results of a contest--i.e., that it's entirely possible to "succeed" on an ability check and still meet "defeat" in the contest. The last time I ran a session at a con, I found that players had difficulty grasping the concept that their victory or defeat hinged on more than their own dice roll. No doubt they were coming in thinking of that *other* game using d20's.

Incidentally, some of the "clever dice tricks" mentioned in the thread of that same name look like they should clear up some of this confusion in play:

 

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WRT simple/serial (called "chained in Mythic Russia) simple/extended, I use all three approaches at various times.

Simple: The contest is fairly straight-forward. Keeps the flow of the game moving.

Serial simple: Creates a more traditional RPG blow-by-blow experience. Applying benefits/consequences immediately creates momentum/death-spiral effects. Open-ended compared to Extended. 

Extended: Deferring benefits & consequences to the end of the battle builds tension and makes more room for dramatic reversals and assists. Good for set-piece finales, but also great for long-term struggles or projects that may span multiple encounters or sessions.

I more or less choose whether to stick with simple or zoom in to serial or extended based on what would be most interesting to the players and how the conflict fits in the overall flow of the session and game. Size of the group is another factor. I ran a game for nine young players at Archon  last month, and I used the group simple and group extended approaches quite a bit (tallying rp for/against on a dry erase board as we matched up the rolls) in order to keep things moving with such a large and squirmy group. 

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On 10/8/2018 at 11:09 AM, JonL said:

This is a deep one: Heroquest as presented often cannot decide whether or not it is going all-in on "Ability ratings are abstract measures of relative problem solving efficacy and have nothing to do with in-fiction competence or capability. Resistance is just a story-flow control mechanism, and in-fiction circumstances should reflect Resistance rather than vice-versa."

 

Yeah. It's a problem I have with HQ2. By rating resistances relative to PC ratings the game eliminates any inceptive for PCs to advance. For example if an opponent is going to be rated at 1 master level above or below a PC, then it doesn't matter what the PCs ability score actually is.So what's the point of improving a character's ratings?

A steadily increase resistance penalizes PCs for not raising a particular rating. And since there are a lot more things the PCs would want to and  and should raise than they are able to you wind up with situations where the suffer simply because their campaign has gone on longer.  For example a PC climbs a tree at the start of the campaign has to deal with resistance of 13, but it he attempts to climb the same tree later in the campaign the resistance could be 15, 20 or higher!

I think a absolute scale of ability (like in RQ or PeEndragon) works better for day to day challengers and resistances rated relative to PCs should be reserved for the more important storylines.

 

 

 

 

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As I read and play HQ2 you work backwards from the story to set resistances This in no way ignores the competence of the heroes or their opposition any more than upping the challenge rating for an encounter does in D&D. It simply says to the Narrator "remember to make this an exciting contest, or just hand-wave the results." If a heroic PC is going to fight a trollkin then perhaps it should be a swarm of trollkin or maybe the trollkin foe found a magic club with which to bash the hero. Otherwise why have the contest at all? Just say "You kill it with a back-handed swipe of your sword while walking casually by."

Personally, I have always thought that including character ability rating improvements in HQ runs counter to its basic design and Robin said as much in the HW2 IIRC. What I do is reestablish the baseline expectation of how powerful the characters are at the start of each adventure and design encounters based on that. Thus if they players say they spent time training or whatever between adventures I make sure that I describe the challenges in the next adventure as appropriately more impressive. 

Besides RuneQuest and CoC, my other go-to game back in my formative years was Traveller, though, so a game without character improvement seems perfectly normal to me.

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5 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Yeah. It's a problem I have with HQ2. By rating resistances relative to PC ratings the game eliminates any inceptive for PCs to advance. For example if an opponent is going to be rated at 1 master level above or below a PC, then it doesn't matter what the PCs ability score actually is.So what's the point of improving a character's ratings?

I recall a side-bar in HQ2CR posing the question of "Why Advance Characters at All?" sidebar in HQ2CR poses that question, and it is a legitimate thing. I recall some versions of Fate where you don't increase your skills, but you can re-arrange their values over time depending upon what you want to emphasize in play. 

 

10 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

A steadily increase resistance penalizes PCs for not raising a particular rating...

Catch-ups ameliorate this to some extent, though new stand-alone abilities gained late in a campaign suffer from 13 being weak vs an inflated resistance scale. I am of the opinion that the rating for new stand-alones should probably scale somehow as well, whether pegged to the resistance base directly or to the lowest-rated other ability you currently have. 

15 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

I think a absolute scale of ability (like in RQ or PeEndragon) works better for day to day challengers and resistances rated relative to PCs should be reserved for the more important storylines.

 HQ1 took a similar approach, and there are those who still prefer it.

For myself, I balance credibility WRT the characters' in-fiction capabilities with story-flow needs and how interesting results might be. 

The real wart at the heart of all this though, is that how a GM approaches the spectra of ability-ratings-as-abstract-oomph<->ability-ratings-as-in-fiction-capability and resistance-ratings-reflect-circumstances<->circumstances-are-described-to-justify-resistance need to be conscious choices that support a particular play-style. The rules should point out those choices and their impact, and give guidance on how to tune your game for the preferred feel.

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This is a fascinating discussion.  I dislike the character advancement mechanism as it makes the player choose between more efficacy now or longer term improvements when it is by accomplishing great things that is more likely to lead to greater efficacy and confidence.  I am wondering whether you should only increase if you get a major success or better with a contest in which you use a Hero Point.  I am now also wondering whether all abilities should scale within the party - Sven is the greatest axeman of our group while Brunhild is the best healer.  All advancement would then be for improving the party's standing (and reducing the base resistances that they face with regard to opponents).  I like the idea of ranking opponents - so a trollkin would be a minor obstacle and a Mother Race troll would be a heroic obstacle.  Base resistances would scale for the level of obstacle faced...

Perhaps a bit much for the purposes of this thread but it might be a different way to do things.  The greatest axeman would remain so unless the greatest axeman was missing the session and then someone else would take that role...lots of thought needed but the conversation throws up a greater narrative consideration....

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Yeah. It's what I like about games like RuneQuest and Pendragon. The average town guard, knight, Viking warrior, etc. has roughly the same stats no matter what the PCs are like. As the players advance in ability, they get better against the mean. Which makes sense and is one of the reason why people bother to improve -especially in competitive activities.

 

I understand that some things should be a challenge to the PCs with stats to match, but if everything is rated relative to the PCs then you might aw well not bother with ability improvement at all. It's like how in D&D the characters go up a level, get more hit points, bonuses to attacks and saves, are able to improve their armor class and defense, but then have to face monster with more hit dice, better attack bonuses, and higher armor classes. So nothing really changes. 

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17 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

For example a PC climbs a tree at the start of the campaign has to deal with resistance of 13, but it he attempts to climb the same tree later in the campaign the resistance could be 15, 20 or higher!

Presumably if you are assigning a difficulty level to climbing a tree then it matters for story purposes as to whether the PC succeeds or not, and there will be consequences of failure. It must be something pretty important in your story if it has a difficulty level later in your campaign, otherwise you wouldn't be bothering to make it a contest, right?

Likewise with your town guards example. Later in the campaign, surely your PCs will have no problem defeating town guards, but what they might have difficulty with is how to take them out without anyone else noticing/hearing, or similar (and that would be the higher resistance). Again, why would you bother making it a contest unless there's something important here for story purposes?

Also, it shouldn't be true that "nothing really changes", because your PCs should be up against more dramatic challenges as the story goes on, hopefully making the story (the whole point of what you're doing) more entertaining and raising the excitement levels - a bit like how the later episodes in a TV action drama will have the heroes facing tougher challenges which are more dramatic.

 

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