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Advice running my first HeroQuest game

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I am a long time gamer, (Especially tons of RuneRuest, my all time favorite system) but am new to Heroquest, and narrative RPGs in general. My friends want play a one off Shadowrun adventure, (I will supply pre-gened characters) and I was thinking this would be a good rules system to simulate the high tech fantasy that makes up the 6th world experience.

Help an old simulationist out:

What sort of keywords should I use for the archetypes? 

How can I replicate some of the feel for the game, such as armor, and weapons damage? From reading the rules, it sounds like it can be run with the extended contest rules in most cases, but I must admit, its tough for this old simulationist to not use some sort of hit point system.

Any thoughts, advice, or comments would be very helpful.

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I am certainly not the most experimented around here but here are my thoughts.

HeroQuest is not really a game where the difference between armors or weapons matters if it is not expressed through an ability.

A piece of equipment is mainly a cosmetic thing unless it is an ability. In this case you can either use it as the main ability in a contest or as an augment if it is appropriate.

Of course, common sense and the credibility test always apply, a character won't be able to access the matrix if he doesn't have something to connect to it with (of course a Decker is supposed to have this kind of things, even if it is not written on his character's sheet). But beyond that, this equipment won't have any effect in a future contest unless it is an ability.

Extended contests are for the important or climactic contests, or when the player are excited by the contest at hand. You can compare them with some kind of stress points if you like. Unlike hit points, the real consequences of a contest is determined at the end of the said contest. This is a strength of this game system in my opinion as it avoids the dreaded (and boring to my eyes) spiral of death.

As a rule of thumb, unimportant or minor conflicts should either be resolved through a simple contest or an automatic or costly success process. It allows the action to move on instead of being dragged down by a useless detailed resolution process (that for which Shadowrun excels in my opinion). Sometimes, you don't want the players to fail, the automatic or costly success is then appropriate.

 

As far as character creation is concerned, I would go for two keywords :

A Cultural keyword (nationality, origin, culture) including the race of the character.

An occupational keyword (work, main expertise domain).

The Concept of the character could be a distinguishing characteristic plus the occupation.

Edited by Corvantir

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In my opinion, and I am sure others will disagree, forget about using Extended Combats, For me, they add nothing to the game, bog you down for ages and are extremely unsatisfying.

Each Archetype is a Keyword. They should have abilities under the Keyword, but inly listed if they are important enough to stand out.

I have only played Shadowrun a few times, and many, many years ago, but you could have Netrunner as a keyword and have breakouts of whatever you want, say Dark Net and Break Ice, you would write it as Netrunner 18 (Dark Net, Break ICE). In a game, you could use the Netrunner keyword to do some hacking, but if you met some ICE then you could use Break ICE to break through it, or perhaps to stop Black ICE. 

I wouldn't bother replicating armour and weapons, as they don't mean much in HeroQuest. They might give you a bonus to your combat skills, but that's about it. If so, list them as Armour +3, Sword +3, or Black Sword of Elf Chopping +3. If you want them to be special, then make them a Keyword, so you might have Black Sword of Elf Chopping 18 (Black, Chop Elf, Hate Elf).

In my opinion, HeroQuest should be quick, snappy and fun. Don't get bogged down in the rules, don't look for loads of sub-rules and just narrate your way past problems.

If a PC wins a Contest, they can do so by just scraping past (Margical Victory), by a bit (Minor Victory), by a lot (Major Victory) and by a mile (Complete Victory). Narrate the results of that. So, if a PC tries to seduce a guard to let the rest of the party sneak by, then a Complete Victory might mean the Guard is entranced by the seduction and they get down to it there and then, or it might mean the party sneak past and the seducer leaves and blows the Guard a kiss, leaving him begging for a taste at a later point, or you could have a Marginal Victory meaning the Guard wants something for the seduction and the Complete Victory means the Guard gets a blown kiss and is happy at that, Basically, whatever seems right at the time.

If you want something like a health system, then just have each Defeat that goes against a PC gives a Penalty to that PC, so if the PC cannot act then they are floored. Healing might reduce the Penalties. So, from Marginal to Complete, you might have a -2/-4/-6/-8 Penalty, so suffering 2 Complete Defeats means you are at -16 and pretty messed up. It's not ideal, but it is quick and dirty, and I really like quick and dirty.

 

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There's some good ideas in here thanks.

 

I do like the idea of using successive penalties to replicate the wear-and-tear of battle especially since this is a combat heavy game typically. I might try a little bit of both the extended contests and opposed contests. I think I have a little bit better handle on it just from the couple of bits of information that I received. And of course any other advice is welcome and I will let you all know how it goes I will be playing next week.

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HeroQuest is far more easier than it seems, and allows for many variations. You will customize it easily, if not naturally.

Keep in mind that in HeroQuest "the resolution methods don't simply tell you how well you succeeded at a particular task: they tell you whether or not you achieved your entire goal".

Don't forget to ask the players what their goal is and it can't go wrong.   ;)

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7 hours ago, godsmonkey said:

What sort of keywords should I use for the archetypes? 

Id stick to the the basic structure of shaowrun characters as Simon suggests, I’d use career and race, and standard descriptor.

so you’d have

Bert

angry 17 (descriptor)

Bounty Hunter 1m

Skill, weapon and armour breakouts

Troll 1m

cyber breakouts

Flaws

addicitions,

Cyberpsychoses

other flawshttps://pam.ealing.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=O8RNRXJM04000  

7 hours ago, godsmonkey said:

How can I replicate some of the feel for the game, such as armor, and weapons damage? From reading the rules, it sounds like it can be run with the extended contest rules in most cases, but I must admit, its tough for this old simulationist to not use some sort of hit point system.

Break weapons out, no details just names from careers or species for natural weapons. Armour, only on,  type the same all over . Remember You can’t augment with both at the same time. Keep characters very simple. 

Run through an extended contest on your own first, don’t do it live! I disagree with Simon, extended contests make excellent climaxes to adventures. A lot of crunchy game system doesn’t work in HeroQuest. Finally remember framing the contest is very important for all tasks. No hit points required.

all of the examples I’ve written for HeroQuest have no guns in them, I might give that a go at some point to see how a gun battle works. (I’ve run and played in loads though).

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Im going to try a few encounters this week before the first game to see if I prefer the extended contests, or the progressive modyfiers to emulate a hit point system.

Reading the free kick start rules for Shadowrun 5e, I see lots of keywords in there that would make a good character concept. For example:

Orc Street Samurai

active skills
(Numbers in brackets are the final dice pool, linked skill + attribute rating)
Athletics skill group 2 [9], Automatics (Machine Pistols) 5 (+2) [10 (+2)], Blades 5
[10], First Aid 3 [6], Intimidation 3 [5], Longarms 2 [7], Pistols 4 [9], Survival 2 [5],
Unarmed Combat 3 [8]
gear & lifestyle
Armor jacket [12]
Commlink (Device Rating 3)
Weapons
Ceska Black Scorpion [Machine Pistol, Acc 5(7), DV 6P, AP —, 35(c), w/ integral
folding stock, smartlink]
Remington Roomsweeper [Heavy Pistol, Acc 4(6), DV 7P, AP –1, 8(m), w/smartlink]
Ruger 100 [Rifles, Acc 7(9), DV 11P, AP –3, 8(m), w/ imaging scope, rigid stock with
shock pad, smartlink]
Sword [Blades, Reach 1, DV 10P, AP –2]
Augmentations
(Game effects of augmentations are pre-calculated into the character’s attributes)
Cybereyes [Rating 3, w/ eye recording unit, image link, low-light vision,
smartlink, thermographic vision, vision enhancement 3], dermal plating 1,
reaction enhancers 2, wired reflexes 2
knowledge & language skills
Afrikaans 3, English N, Horticulture 2, Law Enforcement Techniques 4, Motorcycles
3, Seattle Streets 4, Street Gangs 4, Weapons Manufacturers 4
qualities
High Pain Tolerance 1
contacts
Bartender, Black Market Gun Dealer, Pawnbroker

So what I see is:

Street Samurai 1w
    Master Blaster (guns)
   Those high school jocks were drek compared to me (Athletics)
   Yeah, I brought a knife to a gun fight (blades)
   Check out THESE guns (unarmed combat)
   You talking to ME? (intimidation)
   Home is where I lay my head (Survival)
  Street Ettiquette
  
Ork 1W
Breakouts
    Cybereyes with all the goodies
    wired and plated (cyberware)
    tough
    foul tempered
    High pain tolerance

Other skills
Law Enforcement Techniques
Motorcycles
Seattle Streets
Street Gangs

Other equipment would just be assumed to have as per the archetype

So Ill use the pregens as a starting point, give skills more interesting names and run a few rounds.



 

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22 minutes ago, godsmonkey said:

Orc Street Samurai

Remember that breakouts from a keyword are a specialisation giving an advantage over a general ability. All the breakouts you list under street samurai IMO are what street samurai do. If you want them to be better at a narrow ability, break it out.

likewise under ork, tough and high pain tolerance IMO would be part of orc, foultempered would be the descriptor

other skills other than law enforcement techniques, I’d roll into street samurai. Perhaps a third keyword could be previous career.

my character with build points would look this (1x17, rest 13, plus 20 extra points, I’m going to use the HQG spread, it’s the same points but easier to use imo, keywords 1x1M (17+4), 1x17 (13+4), 1x13 plus 12 extras)

Eric the foul tempered street samurai ork

Keyword Street Samurai 1M + 4 = 5M

           stunt combat +1

Keyword orc 17 + 4 = 1M

          Cybereyes +1

          combat brain +2

Keyword ex-police 13

flaw - was a dirty cop 6M

Flaw - foul tempered 3M (free descriptor)

flaw - ex partner nemesis (police) 2M

(Apologies if there are point errors).i imagine a combat brain is a reflexive combat computer, stunt combat lets me bounce off walls and stuff for augments. I’ve not thought any of this through. 

finally, extended contests are just part of the tool kit, I run fights with simple, Group simple and extended, depending on what the story needs.

i really wish we’d had HeroQuest when I used to play buckets-o-dice shadowrun.

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18 hours ago, Corvantir said:

Don't forget to ask the players what their goal is and it can't go wrong.   ;)

This is really key.  One battle against a horde of zombies in front of the King, most players said something along the lines off kill the zombies.  One said I want to look the coolest there (whilest fighting zombies). The end of combat he got all the praise from the King whilst the others grumbled that they done all the work. Very quickly they started refining their goals. 

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Godsmonkey, I think that you can simplify your character.

Street Samurai 1w
    Master Blaster (guns) Skill with Guns can be assumed to be part of the Street Samurai package, it could be replaced by a specific gun if you want to add a favorite weapon.
   Those high school jocks were drek compared to me (Athletics)
   Yeah, I brought a knife to a gun fight (blades) Skill with blades can be assumed to be part of the Street Samurai package, it could be replaced by a specific blade, favorite weapon.
   Check out THESE guns (unarmed combat) Skill with blades can be assumed to be part of the Street Samurai package, it could be replaced by a specific technique.
   You talking to ME? (intimidation) The skill can be part of the Street Samurai package unless you want the aspect to be an important element of the character.
   Home is where I lay my head (Survival)
   Street Etiquette
  
Ork (I would add something about the place where he comes from or where he is living) 1W
Breakouts
    Cybereyes with all the goodies
    wired and plated (cyberware)
    tough - Feels like a part of the Orc package unless you want the aspect to be an important element of the character.
    foul tempered - Feels like a part of the Orc package unless you want the aspect to be an important element of the character.
    High pain tolerance - Feels like a part of the Orc package.

Other skills
Law Enforcement Techniques
Motorcycles
Seattle Streets - Sounds like the Street Samurai package could handle that... or the Origin of the character.
Street Gangs - Sounds like the Street Samurai package could handle that... or the Origin of the character.

Many skills and particulars can be considered as being part of the Occupation or Origin Keyword. In my opinion, Breakouts should generally point towards significant specialties and things.

You can ease your task by creating the barebones of the character and give each player some abilities and points to spend on his character while playing. Giving the hand to the players for detailing their character is a good thing in my opinion.

These are just suggestions typed in a hurry. I am not patronizing and I have used  "strike throughs" and the color red because they are easy to spot.

I really must go now!   👋💨

 

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Hero Wars was an attempt to make a narative game that appealed to RuneQuestors and it did things like break all skills from a keyword. That's what has happened here.

HeroQuest nicely includes those skills without even mentioning them, but, as a GM, I sometimes list the skills that a typical Keyword might have, as an easy reference for me to use.

So, you could just include some of the skills in the Keywords, as has been suggested, or leave them as they are.

HeroQuest is a nice, forgiving system and works however you play it.

 

Edited by soltakss

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Interesting how each person has different takes on the character. The dirty cop idea is cool. But if I make it a dirty motorcycle cop, it gives him an implied motorcycle ability, and cover a lot of social skills like street cred contacts from his old career, and so on.

Im really appreciating the help everyone. Its a VERY different style game than Im used to. I seem to be making things tougher than need be.

So maybe since this is starting as a one off, I'll just give each character 2 keywords, one base skill and 12 points they can add as they see fit.

1 hour ago, David Scott said:

my character with build points would look this (1x17, rest 13, plus 20 extra points, I’m going to use the HQG spread, it’s the same points but easier to use imo, keywords 1x1M (17+4), 1x17 (13+4), 1x13 plus 12 extras)

Also, since cyberware on a character like a Street Samurai would be implied in the keyword, Im going to leave it blank, and if the player wants to use a break out, they can.

 

Keyword Street Samurai 1M 

Keyword orc 17

Keyword ex motorcycle cop 13

flaw - was a dirty cop 6M

Flaw - foul tempered 3M (free descriptor)

flaw - ex partner nemesis (police) 2M

So other possible Achetypes:

Keyword: Decker 1M
Keyword: Socialite with a double life 17
skill: Girl With a gun 13
Flaw: Narcissus 6m
Flaw Daddy would cut me off if he found out 3m

Keyword: Combat Mage 1m
Keyword: Elf 17
Sidekick: Bob the fire elemental 13
Flaw: Pyromaniac 3m

Do these sound about right? 

I have to admit, it takes a different mindset than Im used to.  

Thanks for all the help again.
 




 

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1 hour ago, soltakss said:

HeroQuest nicely includes those skills without even mentioning them, but, as a GM, I sometimes list the skills that a typoical Keyword might have, as an easy reference for me to use.

I might try that. I know a couple of the players have played Shadowrun, and none HeroQuest. It might make it easier at first.

Edited by godsmonkey
typo

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10 minutes ago, godsmonkey said:

Interesting how each person has different takes on the character. The dirty cop idea is cool. But if I make it a dirty motorcycle cop, it gives him an implied motorcycle ability, and cover a lot of social skills like street cred contacts from his old career, and so on.

One of the cool things about HeroQuest is that there's no one way to use it. I like to keep it very simple, quick and dirty, other people like more complexity. Whatever works for you is the best way to run and play it.

 

Im really appreciating the help everyone. Its a VERY different style game than Im used to. I seem to be making things tougher than need be.

Happens to all of us. It does get a while to wrap your mind around it, but it is worth it in the end.

Wait until you use it to run SuperHeroQuest, that really rocks.

 

So maybe since this is starting as a one off, I'll just give each character 2 keywords, one base skill and 12 points they can add as they see fit.

Also, since cyberware on a character like a Street Samurai would be implied in the keyword, Im going to leave it blank, and if the player wants to use a break out, they can.

Sounds good to me. Keep it simple, 2 Keywords with Breakouts is about right. I don;t use base skills, I just have everything as a Keyword, less effort that way. 

If the players want to emphasise cyberware then they can add it as a breakout.

 

Do these sound about right? 

Yes, they sound pretty good to me.

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8 hours ago, godsmonkey said:

Sidekick: Bob the fire elemental 13

To make things a little more complicated sidekicks (Companions in HQG) can have three own abilities that the PC can use in contests and they have their special rules (for example 3RP and out) in extended contests and other places.

Retainers are "more or less anonymous servants or helpers" and easily replaced.

For starters, you should probably stick to Retainer model (single ability to use) as was in your example and later, when the system is more familiar, start dealing with actual Companions.

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On 9/15/2018 at 11:54 PM, jrutila said:

Retainers are "more or less anonymous servants or helpers" and easily replaced.

I like this. In SR, elementals and spirits of all sorts can be summoned, but tally don't have a lot of skills. I initially thought of putting it in with the keyword, but it seemed to powerful. 

In fact, while keywords are great for creating chapters quickly with a presumed skill set, it seems too easy to abuse. I'm interested to see it play out. 

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On 9/15/2018 at 6:44 PM, David Scott said:

i really wish we’d had HeroQuest when I used to play buckets-o-dice shadowrun.

Me too! After playing some HeroQuest games in Glorantha, some friends and I agreed that this would be a good system to play in the Sixth World of Shadowrun. No more bogged down combats: more action and more story! 

I hope Godsmonkey will share with us how his first game went!

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On 9/14/2018 at 4:34 PM, godsmonkey said:

I am a long time gamer, (Especially tons of RuneRuest, my all time favorite system) but am new to Heroquest, and narrative RPGs in general. My friends want play a one off Shadowrun adventure, (I will supply pre-gened characters) and I was thinking this would be a good rules system to simulate the high tech fantasy that makes up the 6th world experience.

Did you play it in the end? If so, how did it work out?

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On 9/15/2018 at 11:54 PM, jrutila said:

 

So it wound up that I had enough players to hold a game. Overall everyone was very impressed with the speed and simplicity of the game after of course the initial questions and trying to grasp the concept but once they did it seem that combat and skilled resolutions went pretty quickly. everyone liked it so much that what was supposed to be a one-off is now turning into at least a two off and after we do that we will probably create new characters from scratch and continue playing on a regular basis using the game system.

A few notes:

I used a slightly modified system giving penalties of -1 - 3- 6 & - 10 depending on the level of success. I ran everything as a series of opposed tests instead of regular extended contest. Non-player characters were defeated when they are either reached a -10 total penalty or received a major wound. This wound up working out pretty well as it did a good job of replicating damage from combat. I also used the standard RuneQuest hit point location to help with describing the damage and where for instance players or non players were hit with bullets. Instead of rolling an extra die I used the losers die roll to determine the hit location which kept things very streamlined.

Combat seemed like it was actually fairly deadly in potential. The orc in the party wound up taking a couple of significant wounds so much so that the player retreated from the combat. The combat Mage at one point summoned his fire Elemental and used it as a shield to block line of sight so they could make a get away from a group that was trying to geek them. And the Decker attempted to drive the get away van, fumbling her roll, while the opposing mage fireballed the crap out of the van with a critical. Overall I felt like the game system mechanics actually encouraged creative thinking as opposed to the slog fests that D&D typically have. 

So to sum up I think that my suspicions of using HeroQuest to run a Shadowrun game was soundly confirmed and it should be fun to continue the game.

 

 

Edited by godsmonkey
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Congratulations for this first successful game with HeroQuest.

Among other features, the magic of HeroQuest lies in its simplicity and its flexibility. You can shape it the way you want to fit your goals.

As far as I am concerned, I am fine with the rules as they are written. The way I adapt them for my own use is more about what I don't use than about what I mod or add.

Keep on testing the game with your friends, always ask them "what are you trying to achieve?" or "what is your goal?", and you will soon learn by yourself how to adapt any setting or game you want.   ;)

You can also have a look at HeroQuest: Glorantha and Nameless Streets (unfortunately out of print) to find some inspiration and matter for your own implementations.

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36 minutes ago, Corvantir said:

As far as I am concerned, I am fine with the rules as they are written. The way I adapt them for my own use is more about what I don't use than about what I mod or add.

After playing it, I might try that next session. In retrospect, I might even try mixing simple opposed contests, with extended, depending on how important the bad guys are. Maybe even in the same contest. For example, "cannon fodder" might only take one RP to knock them out of the contest. Minions, 3, and the boss, the full race to 5. One thing that would do is bring the body count up for the opposition, better emulating the hack & slash almost comic book feel of Shadowrun.
 

40 minutes ago, Corvantir said:

You can also have a look at HeroQuest: Glorantha and Nameless Streets (unfortunately out of print) to find some inspiration and matter for your own implementations.

Actually, I based the game off of HeroQuest Glorantha, as that's the book I own. I also run a RQ:G game, and certainly see some house rules derived from HQ coming out of it. Most notably, masteries.

 

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22 hours ago, godsmonkey said:

After playing it, I might try that next session. In retrospect, I might even try mixing simple opposed contests, with extended, depending on how important the bad guys are. Maybe even in the same contest. For example, "cannon fodder" might only take one RP to knock them out of the contest. Minions, 3, and the boss, the full race to 5. One thing that would do is bring the body count up for the opposition, better emulating the hack & slash almost comic book feel of Shadowrun.
 

Actually, I based the game off of HeroQuest Glorantha, as that's the book I own. I also run a RQ:G game, and certainly see some house rules derived from HQ coming out of it. Most notably, masteries.

 

I supposed you only had HeroQuest 2. As far as RuneQuest: Glorantha is concerned, I am fascinated with this new edition but I am really no more into such game system and book keeping complexities. But I agree, there are certainly a few things to borrow, especially if you want to explore the grittier side of Glorantha or to have a more concrete lists of powers to guide you for your own HeroQuest powers.   :)

I see what you mean with variable RP for different kind of ennemies. It reminds me of FATE and its stress points.

Another way to treat the Minions is to group a number of them into a single opponent. For example, if a character is fighting with 15 thugs, you can create 5 groups of 3 thugs each  (or 3 groups of 5 thugs if you prefer) and resolve the conflict as if the character was fighting against three opponents. As suggested somewhere in the rules, you can describe RP scored against a group of thugs as hits knocking down thugs and RP scored against the character as an overwhelming pressure, ennemy reinforcements or even supposedly knocked down foes coming back to the fight. It could require less book keeping, which is something I am striving for.

Colour me as interested though, I would appreciate an after session report if you test your Minions rules.   👍

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I ran the cradle scenario using Hero Wars.  It was really difficult to get the feel right of overwhelming tides of foes and depleting resources until the heroes have to abandon the cradle to regroup and take it back.

I used the idea of increasing penalties and having abilities burn out when used for heroic actions.  They limped off with one character effectively dead (the Mostali repaired him, he got the ability “heart of stone”) and recovered their abilities for the new contest.

I see HeroQuest as a ruleset equipped to tell the story that you want to tell.  If the story is about flashing blades then you should be able to tell that story.  I think you are right in handing out penalties based on success.  It should lead to smaller goals set, to gain the upper hand, to set the opponent up for a head shot, to bleed the opponent.  Etc

 

Stephen

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On 9/27/2018 at 12:07 AM, godsmonkey said:

Actually, I based the game off of HeroQuest Glorantha, as that's the book I own. I also run a RQ:G game, and certainly see some house rules derived from HQ coming out of it. Most notably, masteries.

I'd be curious to hear about your mastery house rules. The idea to do something like that in RQ:G has come to my mind as well, but I haven't laid anything out as of yet.

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