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HreshtIronBorne

Heroquest Ability Ideas

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We are reaching the point in our current campaign that we have herqouested once or twice through the quests outlined in 11 Lights. I'd love to hear some of the powers your PCs have brought back with them from the Hero and God planes. We used a houserule for years where a critical success on a heroquest gifted the hero with a special ability based on circumstances, entirely adlibbed. This is how my new Humakti has become immune to vampire enthrall, and damages vampire weapons on parties. Now that there are some nebulous ideas of what might be up ahead for RQG in terms of the acquisition of HQAs and what they might be like, we are trying to step away from that and find a better way. How have you fellow grognards run heroquest and their rewards for the last couple decades?

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So I've been running the adventure The Spire of Quetzel from Fria Ligan's game Forbidden Lands as an adventure site within the Big Rubble for my RQG game, and it's sort of relevant to this post. I've never done an actual "Follow the myth" heroquest but I've read a little, made up some random crap, and ad-libbed a lot and ended up with a few ideas and abilities which could be interesting.

I translated the Spire into basically an artificial Hero plane or Otherworld, created by the mad sorceress Quetzel before her demise. It consists of several sub-regions, each connected by a magic silver door. Within this space, the adventurers are outside the web of Time. Magic does not cease in duration, and magic points do not regenerate. If they stayed there long enough, they'd find that the natural healing rate doesn't occur either. Their assigned goal was to pluck a black gem from the torso of Quetzel's corpse at the "top" of the tower, but they buggered off before getting that far to go do other things.

My approach to adapting this adventure was to consider the challenges already present (and add a few), and to make rewards possible depending on if certain events happened. None of them were actually required to "clear" the tower and obtain the black gem, but basically things that the party could tinker and experiment with. Some include:

  • Surviving a almost-surely lethal POT 18 systemic poison, given as a challenge by Quetzel's separated consciousness. In addition to winning the being's trust, the adventurer who dared the challenge would have gained a heroquest gift of +20% on resistance rolls to resist poisons in the future. Additionally, I was considering giving them a CON check (in the same manner as a POW check).
  • The first "floor" of the Spire is a ruined city, haunted by "bent-backed wolves," and ash-colored ghosts which cover their eyes, weeping. In the original, the ghosts of ash can be defeated by FL's procedures or by pulling their hands away from their faces and staring into their empty gaze. The lore is that the city was built by Quetzel mixing the blood of men with the bricks; the "wolves" are descendants of its inhabitants, and the ghosts souls trapped in the crafting. I decided that if the adventurers were brave enough to capture a "wolf" alive and to manhandle a ghost into staring at it, the two would be merged into an Ashen Wolf, once more a complete being though no longer human. The Ashen Wolf has a Loyalty Passion to the adventurer who forced the ghost's vision, and its abilities would be similar to a bound familiar. Each adventurer could attempt this rite once; further attempts might succeed, but would not bind another wolf to the adventurer.
  • Finally, I decided that since this artificial plane was "off the grid," so to say, the spirits of the adventurers could not find the way to the Otherworld. When an adventurer died, their spirit remained, and was visible to the naked eye (but had access only to POW, INT, and CHA). Healing and overcoming CON with POW let them "resurrect." Any MP expended as a spirit caused a direct loss of POW. One of my players, an assistant shaman, was extremely enthused of being a spirit, and since he attempted, I let him basically "act" as a spirit while they carried the corpse around--MOV equal to POW, limited flight, initiating Spirit Combat, attempting possession, etc. When he re-possessed his corpse, I ruled that due to his time as a spirit he gained the Spirit Rune at 3D6% (I'm envisioning this as an odd heroquest gift, but haven't told him that's basically what the ability is). As a Form Rune, the percentiles were reduced from Man and Beast to gain this Rune, so all three have to add up to 100. If his Spirit Rune ever becomes dominant of the three, he immediately becomes a spirit, and disappears from the Middle World.

This was in addition to other possible treasures, relics, and lore the adventurers could find within the various regions of the Spire.

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21 minutes ago, Crel said:

Within this space, the adventurers are outside the web of Time. Magic does not cease in duration, and magic points do not regenerate.

Might I ask why you made MP not regenerate? I've seen a lot of people rule that that's what happens on Heroquests, but it doesn't make sense to me. If the flow of magic isn't limited by time then shouldn't they just regenerate instantly?

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Just now, Richard S. said:

Might I ask why you made MP not regenerate? I've seen a lot of people rule that that's what happens on Heroquests, but it doesn't make sense to me. If the flow of magic isn't limited by time then shouldn't they just regenerate instantly?

A bit of copy-catting what I've heard of other people doing, I'll admit. But part of my rationale is that any magic you cause, just sort of stays in place. Maybe another way to think of it is that it's not that the adventurer "loses" magic, but rather that it gets transferred into an effect. MP returning would be a natural process, and I figure natural processes don't go onward in the same way when you're in the Hero planes.

But I'm very, very much not an expert. For why that rule's been around awhile concerning heroquests, I suggest asking someone else.

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1 hour ago, Richard S. said:

Might I ask why you made MP not regenerate? I've seen a lot of people rule that that's what happens on Heroquests, but it doesn't make sense to me. If the flow of magic isn't limited by time then shouldn't they just regenerate instantly?

Time doesn't exist in the same way.  Regeneration is a process within time.

Were I to implement this today, without further consideration, I'd probably rule that there are multiple ways to recover MP's, but new HQ'ers will need to learn those ways (probably via other HQ's), rather than it being automatic.

For example, I could see a character "consuming" MP's they find -- possibly ambient/incidentals, "magic food," etc.  Also possibly via attacking others and "stealing" MP's (though this seems maybe too Vivamort-ish); but also by learning to "absorb" spells and/or "disassemble" them, etc.

Use of the "R" Magic-Rune and/or the "o=o" Infinity-Rune are likely implied here.

 

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2 hours ago, Richard S. said:

Might I ask why you made MP not regenerate? I've seen a lot of people rule that that's what happens on Heroquests, but it doesn't make sense to me. If the flow of magic isn't limited by time then shouldn't they just regenerate instantly?

The problem may be that Time isn't flowing when you're in Godtime.

On the other hand, the Hero Planes are supposed to be reflections of the Middle World, only in Godtime, and there are myths e.g. about humans offering sacrifice to Orlanth already in the Storm Age, meaning that they must have had a means of producing an excess of magic to gift to the gods. Even the Golden Age of Brightface with all its focus on unchanging stasis had a means for progress.

A state like this sounds like it is extremely convenient for a sorcerer who can tap. Just load yourself up with as many MP as your preparation time (and duration allocated to that) allows, and carry that spell over to Godtime, where the spell and hence the accumulated magic doesn't expire.

There might be ways in the preparation for the quest that do allow the quester to regenerate magic or hit points (at least while staying in the equivalent of the Middle World), like consuming Splendorbread.

All of this becomes irrelevant if your heroquest leads you out of the Middle World, e.g. into the Underworld. While it appears that people native to that place do regenerate there (looking at the trolls when Wonderhome wasn't blasted yet), that may depend on the state of their habitat (blasted Wonderhome apparently doesn't enable this any more), and remaining inside their domain.

 

This sorcerously made set of realms shortly sketched out by @Crel looks a lot like the (no longer actively pursued) concept of short worlds, possibly illusory worlds, whose existence and substance doesn't replenish much, either. For a somewhat more canonical parallel for that situation, check the Avanadpur era myths in Revealed Mythology.

Given the sorry state of Glorantha when it entered Time (fragmented, then patched together, with at times only a thin layer of reality silk covering formerly disjunct edges somehow pulled together), a lot of those world fragments may be bits of lost Godtime no longer in regular contact with the Hero Planes, so they don't have to be created by the sorceres who made them accessible, just discovered.

Another way to describe these are Hidden Castles or Hidden Greens, like Castle Blue which hides in (or under) Lake Oronin (Sourcebook p.158).

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Generally speaking, my Heroquest rewards have followed Joseph Campbell's model of individual vs community. You can have a +big number sword and keep it yourself or give the power to your community so everyone gets a +much smaller sword ability. Likewise you can be super farmer or everyone in your village gets better crops than average. I've normally tailored the boon to the quest, however if the adventurers leave the path anything is possible. In one heroquest the entire group were yelmalians (sun county had just come out) and at a certain point when the maguffin flew off to the horizon, one player said "I turn myself into a spear and fly after it" They all made their Light rune rolls and off they went. At the end they paid a point of POW and got become spear as an HeroQuest ability. The currency of HeroQuests was POW and Will, no magic points POW was the magic point equivalent and Will was permanent POW on the Heroplane. No magic points for the reasons others have mentioned. I used superworld powers as the model for Heroquest abilities. Pretty much the same for Heroquest Glorantha. Now we've shamanic abilities to use as the model of HeroQuest boons.

 

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21 minutes ago, Wrestlepig said:

Everybody likes the ability to talk to animals. Always good.

One of my players had Burble with Waterfolk 1W 

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2 hours ago, David Scott said:

Generally speaking, my Heroquest rewards have followed Joseph Campbell's model of individual vs community. You can have a +big number sword and keep it yourself or give the power to your community so everyone gets a +much smaller sword ability. Likewise you can be super farmer or everyone in your village gets better crops than average.

I like this model.  Note that one can easily tailor these rewards such that the Munchkinous Analysis favors non-selfish choices... Your Crop Result +100% is amazing, but the overall community output is MUCH higher with 300 farms producing Crop Result +10%

2 hours ago, David Scott said:

Now we've shamanic abilities to use as the model of HeroQuest boons.

An excellent point!  Shamans are kind of professional heroquestors...

 

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I find that a lot of the abilities/feats/etc. in 13th Age Glorantha, with a bit of tweaking, make for good heroquest rewards.

 

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On 4/25/2019 at 8:44 AM, HreshtIronBorne said:

We are reaching the point in our current campaign that we have herqouested once or twice through the quests outlined in 11 Lights. I'd love to hear some of the powers your PCs have brought back with them from the Hero and God planes.

Some general ideas that we have used in the past:

  • Heroic Casting of a Spirit Magic Spell - Casting a particular named Spirit Magic spell costs 0 MPs to cast. The spell has to be linked to something gained on the HeroQuest, for example Bladesharp gained on Humakt Gaining Death, or Sleep gained by a Chalana Arroy HeroQuest or Face of Lanbril gained on the Lanbril Loses his Face HeroQuest.
  • Heroic Casting of a Rune Magic Spell - You can cast a particular Runemagic Spell using Magic Points rather than Rune Points. In effect, your POW becomes a secondary Rune Pool for casting particular Runespells. As above, the spell needs to be one gained on a HeroQuest related to that power. So, Humakt gaining Truesword on the Humakt Gains Death spell, Orlanth gaining Lightning in the Lightning Spear Quest and so on.
  • Increased Species Maximum POW - We play that participating in an Other Side HeroQuest allows you to attempt a POW Gain roll but if you succeed it increases Species Maximum POW
  • Automatic POW Gain - You sometimes increase your POW by 1D3 just by taking part in a HeroQuest
  • New Spell - You gain a new spell as a result of the HeroQuest. The spell might be the aim of the HeroQuest or something wrestled from an opponent. So, a Storm Bull PC doing the Lightning Spear HeroQuest could come back with the Lightning Runespell, even though that is an Orlanthi spell. 
  • Immunity to a spell or power - If you face an opponent with a certain power and defeat them on the HeroQuest, then you might come back with immunity to the power used. So, you could be Immune to Fear, Madnes, Sunbright or Acid. Our PCs fought Cacodemon and some gained Immunity to Acid, but one chose Vomit Acid instead.
  • Permanent Spell - You come back with a spell permanently cast, for example permanent Shield 4 or permanent Catseye. As above, the spell must be linked to the Heroquest.
  • Skill Boost - When you perform an Other Side HeroQuest, any skills gained increase by 5D6 rather than 1D6, as your skills are divided by 5 on the HeroQuest. (Note that this was a rule that we used when doing Other Side HeroQuests, modelling the fact that God Time opponents are really powerful, so you are relatively unskilled. The current rules might not have this as a rule)
  • Mastery of [Rune] - The ability to manipulate things using the rune. This is a bit vague, but we used this in our Arganauts Campaign, where the PCs became River Voices and gained Mastery of Water, Mastery of Air and so on. It allows them to manipulate the runic substance by rolling beneath their Rune skill. So, someone with Mastery of Water and Water 70% who rolls below 70 could make water well up or go away, someone with Mastery of Air could deflect missiles away with gusts of wind and so on. We kept the results deliberately vague, as we wanted a Narrative game rather than a "But, you can only affect 15 litres of water, so your wave is really small" kind of game.
  • Invoke [Quest] - You can Invoke a HeroQuest, basically drawing powers from the HeroQuest without actually performing the HeroQuest, but this draws baggage from the HeroQuest. So, an Orlanthi could use Invoke (Hill of Gold) when fighting a Yelmalian to guarantee victory, but also ensures that the Yelmalian isn't killed but is disarmed. An Eurmali could use Invoke (LBQ) to open up a crack in a castle wall to slip into the castle, but is guaranteed to meet the leader of the castle.
  • Gift - A PC can gain a cult Gift as a result of the HeroQuest, this might come with a Geas or might be free. These would be over and above the Gifts the PC can normally get from belonging to a cult. PCs who participate in another PC's HeroQuest might get a Gift even though they don't belong to the cult. So, an Orlanthi might get Sense Assassin by taking part in a Humakti HeroQuest.

 

On 4/25/2019 at 8:44 AM, HreshtIronBorne said:

We used a houserule for years where a critical success on a heroquest gifted the hero with a special ability based on circumstances, entirely adlibbed. This is how my new Humakti has become immune to vampire enthrall, and damages vampire weapons on parties. 

That makes a lot of sense.

We use Hero Points in our RQ games and I have allowed players to spend Hero Points to gain abilities from the HeroQuest, normally 1 Hero Point to gain a new spell and 10 Hero Points to gain a new ability.

 

On 4/25/2019 at 8:44 AM, HreshtIronBorne said:

Now that there are some nebulous ideas of what might be up ahead for RQG in terms of the acquisition of HQAs and what they might be like, we are trying to step away from that and find a better way. How have you fellow grognards run heroquest and their rewards for the last couple decades?

Basically, I allow people to gain spells and abilities from HeroQuests. RQ4/5/Legend has Heroic Abilities that can be used as HeroQuest rewards very easily.

Quite often, my Players will make up an ability as a reward and I'll allow it or allow a variation of it.

 

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On 4/25/2019 at 2:56 PM, Richard S. said:

Might I ask why you made MP not regenerate? I've seen a lot of people rule that that's what happens on Heroquests, but it doesn't make sense to me. If the flow of magic isn't limited by time then shouldn't they just regenerate instantly?

Some people use this as a rule. I have seen rules where you find pools of magic and drink from them to regenerate MPs. Personally I have never used them. I normally have all MPs recovering between Stations, or just have time normally flowing around the PCs.

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I was going to be deeply offensive and suggest the Heroic Abilities as per Mongoose RQ (but I think @soltakss was referring to that with RQ5...)

 

(is there something against MRQ on this forum?)

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1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

Heroic Abilities

A lot of these are similar to RQG Rune spells or cult abilities with different mechanism for purchasing them (although not magical in the rules). To me they are more mundane than something you would return from a quest with, but I like to have boons that are otherworldly in my games. You could certainly use them as the basis for a Heroquest boon. (I own all the Mongoose RQ stuff, and occasionally use ideas from it).

1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

(is there something against MRQ on this forum?)

No, but bear in mind

  • RQG is based on RQ2 and MRQ1 & 2 on RQ3.
  • The Glorantha content was not that great (except in a few products) and its association with Glorantha ended in 2011.
  • None of the Mongoose products were used as references for any Moon Design or Chaosium publication. Including the Guide to Glorantha.
  • There is a separate forum for Legend (what MRQ became after they lost their RQ licence). https://basicroleplaying.org/forum/14-legend/

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2 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

I was going to be deeply offensive and suggest the Heroic Abilities as per Mongoose RQ (but I think @soltakss was referring to that with RQ5...)

Indeed I was. They can make excellent HeroQuest Abilities, but might need to be tweaked for RQG.

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3 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

(is there something against MRQ on this forum?)

It can be a divisive issue.  Some vastly prefer the 2nd Age as presented by Mongoose; some despise it.  Some are in the middle somewhere.  Some use the MRQ elements as source-to-be-mined for 3rd-Age / non-MRQ games.  Overall, I think it's a more-negative inclination on BRPCentral.

I think everyone admits there were some good elements out if the Mongoose era, and some bad ones; folks differ on how much of each.

MRQII is held by most as the superior game over MRQ1. Nash&Whitaker really brought some serious design skills to their version (which went on to become TDM's RQ6/Mythras game (and also stayed at Mongoose as the Legend ruleset); to this day, the Nash&Whitaker fork of BRP is the favored variant of some grognards).

I /think/ the biggest issue is that Mongoose made a lot of choices that seemed to be oriented more toward producing a high quantity, than aiming for quality.

Authors complained about inadequate time, etc.  Chaosium & the Gloranthan fanbase made sure that LOTS of setting-expertise was available (at no charge to Mongoose), but Mongoose often skipped that, which in turn often altered the setting in ways that made folks less and less happy.

The MRQ era saw the innovation that a "rune" could be a physical object you could find, steal, lose, etc.  With the right object in your pocket you "had" the Death Rune; if someone crit'ed their Pick Pocket, you could "lose" it.

There is (you may have noticed) a LOT of passion for the world of Glorantha.  When Mongoose seemed to be disrespecting the setting, people got unhappy.

Edited by g33k
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On 4/27/2019 at 10:12 AM, soltakss said:
  • Increased Species Maximum POW - We play that participating in an Other Side HeroQuest allows you to attempt a POW Gain roll but if you succeed it increases Species Maximum POW

Pretty tough if your POW is already at species maximum, because the roll is impossible, unless you allow 01-05. Still, should it be harder to raise your species max if your POW is really high?

So what I did this evening is offer each character an automatic increase with no roll required on one ability that they had successfully used. The Hueymakti took +1D6 to a sword skill, Harmast took 1D3-1 to STR (for breaking free of a Krarshtkid's goo) and rolled 2, and Vishi Dunn who had POW 21 took a +1 to his POW.

I think that makes sense, the way you increase your species max is by already having it at maximum.

Edited by PhilHibbs
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During RQ3, I always allowed immediate gains in all skills used on a HQ.  No roll to go up, just go up.  That included power and allowed for increases beyond species max.  However, if the PC sacrificed that power the species max returned to normal.  In RQG, where they've made a serious attempt to slow down character growth, I've ruled that HQ's simply allow an immediate roll to try to go up in skills.  that would allow PCs to conceivably go up twice in one season, something they otherwise could not do.

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We've used quite a few ideas to boost Shamanic and Hero Powers over the years, from Land of Ninja 'Ki' skills to increase critical range, to simple MP expenditure magical spell powers not limited by INT/CHA (some far beyond the scope of normal magic), to resistances against damage, or spells, to purely social benefits, or absorbing magical powers from crystals and such.

A Yelmalian Hero who beats ZZ on the Hill of Gold might have bonuses versus ZZ characters, or immunity to certain of their powers, or demoralize them when he faces them, or even have the Uz treat him with respect.

Weird Examples from our game table.
- An NPC in a game who could step into the shadow of his allied spirit familiar and travel in its shadow. Great for surprise arrivals. 
- A character that could draw and nock an arrow at 1SR for 1MP.
- Friendship with a particular animal species - (e.g. Bears consider the Character friendly and harmless as long as they follow a Geas)

Since we are talking Mythic Powers, don't hesitate to get super weird.

Bringing back goods from the otherworlds too.

In my Griffin Mountain Campaign I had planned for King Skilfil could teach others how to obtain their own Heart-Piercer by following a particular Mythic Quest and hunt down a Manticore. 
You might also bring back the Femur Bone of a Storm God from the God time, using it like an almighty Club with Storm powers and such. Mythic Goods are Great to use, or to set up in a hero-shrine to grant powers to followers.

 

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16 hours ago, Pentallion said:

 That included power and allowed for increases beyond species max.  However, if the PC sacrificed that power the species max returned to normal. 

But now, a shaman can just venture off to a local powerful spirit and buy an increased POW species max for very little (in comparison... especially if they're using POW to pay for it). Also, Humakt and Yelmalio have gifts that can increase species max for an annoying geas or 2 ...  Returning to former maximum would be a bit mean given that!

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1 minute ago, Shiningbrow said:

Humakt and Yelmalio have gifts that can increase species max for an annoying geas or 2 ...  Returning to former maximum would be a bit mean given that!

Gifts can raise non-raiseable characteristics, but it doesn't say that that raises the species maximum. It could still work like Pentallion says, where it's temporarily above the maximum. I think that's a bit mean, though. You clearly have to have it already at maximum as well, you can't have POW 18 and raise your species maximum to 22 by gift.

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