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Joerg

Questions on how Heroquesting is different from Adventures in Strange Places

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I've taken this from a thread discussing whether RQG has priority over HQG to this forum, since it is of more relevance here and applies to all the current systems for playing in Glorantha.

On 5/2/2019 at 9:20 PM, lordabdul said:

Can you expand a bit on that? I'm in the process of reading (for the first time) both the new RuneQuest and the last HeroQuest, and I'm actually surprised to see how very similar they are to each other. The way characters are modeled in RQG strongly echoes everything that's great about HQ (occupation, runes, tribe culture, cult, passions, etc... all being available as gameplay mechanics). It seems to me like both systems aim for the same goals of translating the highly mythological Gloranthan life into rules, and do it with very similar mechanics... it's just that one does it in a high-level narrative way, while the other does it in a crunchier way.

Or maybe you're talking about the sourcebooks in which case yes, I agree, but then it might not be fair to compare the 21st century HQ books with RQ books written in the 80s and 90s. I'm expecting future RQG sourcebooks to follow the high quality expectations set by 11L, GtG, and other "late-stage-HQ" publications.

 

3 hours ago, Joerg said:
5 hours ago, lordabdul said:

The main thing that's confusing to me is where a Heroquest comes from. I understand that the GM and players can either draw from the myths written in published books, or invent their own, but can you make any adventure into a Heroquest if you want? Or only specific adventures that are designed to be Heroquests from the start?

Yes and no.

Yes, there are ways to make any kind of adventure into a heroquest. And no, there are things that are at best quite hard to translate into a heroquest.

There are quests that serve to give the questers a personal exposure to the deeds of their deity in order to acquire their magic and an understanding of the deity's role in the world. The magics gained on such quests can be means for problem solving, to be applied to the specific task that is at hand. On the other hand, this works only for problems with sufficient build-up time.

There are quests where you enter the Godtime and interact with the myths directly, taking the role of your deity or a role that fits your position in life without being dedicated to that deity. Entering the Godtime and acting there requires identification with some actor or at least observer in that myth. (The type of quest mentioned before works both in a This World quest in ritual re-enactment and in actual crossing over to the Godtime, which entails ritual re-enactment, too.) Mostly, you will do like your role has done, and re-inforce the existing myth. Quite often, that will aid your cause by setting something right that has gone wrong, often through enemy action.

But then there will be moments where myths provide a choice, different versions to choose from, and your choice may affect the outcome, and how your actions in Godtime reflect to what happens to your community (or the community you have been recruited to serve). And there will be moments where the myths originally didn't have such choices, but you introduce one, and deviate from well-known paths. That may result in you getting new and surprising powers out of that, and that's already a great achievement. That may result in creating a new path through Godtime that others may traverse, reinforcing that branch of the story. And that may ultimately change mythic reality for all of Glorantha if you go deep enough, reinforce that new path enough, and find the way to make others accept that path. That's creative heroquesting and can be about the rise of a new way of magic, like the Red Goddess did and like Argrath is about to begin, and it can be vile God Learning, destroying the way the world works.

 

1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

Thanks for the explanations. I'm still wrapping my head around this, and I'm sorry if I'm hijacking the thread (although I think it fits a bit into how RQ relates to HQ and how future sourcebooks may or may not work with both systems). I think it boils down to understanding why a "heroquest" concept exists at all in the HQ rulebook? Like, I understand what you're saying on a purely narrative/scenario-design aspect but, again, coming from the CoC side of the Chaosium offering, I'm wondering what does this actually bring to the table? CoC adventures might make you experience time in a weird way, send you to another planet or dimension, and even weirder things, face Elder Gods and so on, but that's all just part of the adventure itself, there's otherwise no "OtherwoldQuest" concept: the rules just let you take a flashlight and a magic book, and you're on your own.

Are there good examples of heroquests? (what you're saying about affecting God Time sounds super interesting, is there any published material with such adventures?) The only one I have so far is the Colymar Campaign from Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, and even then, I don't quite get it. The third deed the PCs are supposed to undertake is to go free Hofstaring Treeleaper from the Underworld -- seems fun enough. But I don't see why this is a heroquest, and why it couldn't have just been "a very dangerous adventure where you go to weird places". Maybe it's a heroquest just because it has a hero challenge at the end?

Another way to phrase it is that "heroquest" is a label you can put on some adventures and not others, and the simple fact that the label exists means there needs to be some criteria for doing so... but these criteria are very unclear to me.

 

57 minutes ago, Tinkgineer said:

My understanding is that a HeroQuest is more than just an adventure, but rather a repeatable interaction with a myth.

Suppose I told you the story of Excalibur, and that I knew the secret to the myth that would allow me to HeroQuest into it. The secret (maybe some sort of ritual) allows interaction with the myth, like you going into it. You would then be a character in the story, and by the end you may be able to change the reality that is built upon the myth, or bring some sort of magical ability back out with you.  It's not just an adventure because it's already "happened" and is repeatable and changeable.

I remember reading on some source book about the god learners trying to convince two goddesses to switch places in order to prove that the gods were all interchangeable. They had to heroquest into these myths many times, and each time taking actions to eventually convince them that they were the same person or something.

Maybe think of it like getting sucked into a re-run of a TV show episode, and being able to change the story in subtle ways each time.

 

8 minutes ago, Joerg said:

This has to do with Gloranthan cosmology and the concept of Godtime. While Glorantha kept evolving and devolving throughout its mythical ages (Green Age, Golden Age, Storm Age, Lesser Darkness, Greater Darkness, those "Gloranthan pasts" have never gone away (except for the bits which were rent apart retroactively in the Greater Darkness - while you may visit Genert's Garden with a plethora of his allies, you won't be able to recognize many of those which had been eliminated by the Chaos horde.

But in Godtime, the Golden Age keeps going on. Umath is born in an undying moment, and in another one he is fragmented into too many pieces by Shargash/Jagrekriand, and it is possible to visit these in reverse order (especially for Lunar questers knowing the technique of Chronoportation).

Heroquesters visit these events to experience their deity in them if theist (divine rune magic is the magic of being your deity), taking that feat back to the mundane world as an ability for themselves or to be shared with their (divine) cult, or the cult worshipping them as heroes. There is also the possibility to cross the paths of other heroquesters, and to exchange powers with them throuh a heroquest challenge. This does include obscure witnesses on some station of the myth your quest is following, too, if you can make a sufficiently reasonable identification.

In the end, it is about getting magical effects - either directly affecting the mundane world you return to, or affecting your own ability to wield magic in the mundane world and in Godtime.

 

Think of "Dream Journey to the Unknown Kadath", which has both the conventional, bookish way to enter the Dreamlands, and being suddenly dropped inside a dream.

 

That's like visiting the caves near to the Maggot beneath Snake Pipe Hollow, or sailing beyond the Inner World.

There are realities (or perhaps rather irrealities) in the Cthulhu mythos which are much like Godtime, and then there are simply distant worlds, and there are the Dreamlands. You can visit those, or chase villains on power trips there, and if you visit Yuggoth, you're likely to return with Mi-Go technology. Wielding the Ultraviolet or a sword taking on abilities of the Unbreakable Sword isn't that different.

In Dreamlands interactions with other Dreamers, you can alter the experience and knowledge of these, and of course your own. You might destroy them in a meaningful way.

 

The Eleven Lights (the campaign companion to the setting description in The Coming Storm) has the Red Cow heroquest, a clan secret which is regularly repeated in order to retain the distinctive magic of the red cows for the clan herd. It also has the Eleven Lights quest which takes you on a grand tour of the Outer Worlds of Glorantha, a different form of the Hero Planes. Get these books...

Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes has heroquests, too, but the two mentioned above are possibly more typical.

Another good introduction to heroquesting is playing King of Dragon Pass, the computer game for mobile phones and tablets by A Sharp, or its successor (and, in a way, prequel) Six Ages: Ride Like the Storm (?).

Read the reports on the Lightbringers' Quest in the Glorantha Sourcebook. It tells the journey of Orlanth and his Lightbringer Companions into the Underworld, to restart the universe. And then read the story how Harmast Barefoot brought back Arkat (and later Talor) by following this quest, with changes to the quest due to incomplete information and different choices in the Godtime.

In a way, yes, a heroquest is a very dangerous adventure where you go to weird places. What you do in those magical/mythical places will affect the magical reality of the mundane world you started from - much like time travel does in softer SF or the Cthulhu Mythos.

Having the hero chalenge is a bit a mechanical way of asserting that (and how) the journey into the realm of the myths has changed the protagonists.

But note that this quest isn't among those I suggested above. IMO this quest is rather specific and not that typical.

There are a few heroquests in the Sartar Rising scenario series for Hero Wars/first edition HeroQuest.

And 13th Age Glorantha has a bunch of other fun concepts on heroquesting, like the concept of a living dungeon, but that's a third rule system you would have to break out.

In a purely scenario-design aspect, that is correct.

Basically, if your adventure is about very mundane activities, there is a good likelihood that it does not turn out to be a heroquest. On the other hand, much of the mundane reality of Glorantha has its definition in Godtime, and it is possible that a perfectly ordinary cattle raid (or counter raid) suddenly turns into a Godtime myth that has a very similar story. Or possibly a bunch of very similar stories, leaving you the choice to choose one.

And no, only very few of these stories have official write-ups. The ones we have a good format for their descriptions are from the King of Dragon Pass computer game. A few of these are reprinted in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, IIRC. The complete collection should be in the Stafford library Vol.11: Book of Heortling Mythology.

 

The myths of Glorantha are more than background fluff. You can ritually enter them, and play them out as you know them, and learn how to be like your god, and to use the magics of your god. You can more physically enter them hoping to solve a problem you have, identify certain stations of the myth and protagonists therein with your foes, summon them into this myth and deal with them having the advantage of the mythical structure of the world behind you. However, you're hardly the only one to do so, and you may be drawn into this as one of the bystanders or opponents, making stations that sound like easy pushovers suddenly deeply challenging, and what you might have perceived as being in your advantage might turn out to be working against you - possibly on a different issue - as your opponents frame the mythical context.

It is possible to invoke a mythic parallel for a situation at any time in an adventure. Your player characters or the patron of the adventure may do so, and so may the opponents. This can elevate an ordinary conflict into a major magical change in the world.

The challenged opponents may turn down the transfer into the realms of myth, or they may steer you into a very different version of this myth, or a different myth altogether.

Reading the Glorantha sourcebook should give you a good basic idea of how the various Gloranthan deities are interconnected, and how they turn up in each others' myths. Over time, you will discover other possible connections, and testing these out - whether as a thought experiment or as an actual scenario - is pretty much like a heroquest for you as a player or GM (in addition to being one for your character or party).

Entering the Cthulhu Mythos, leaving ordinary sanity behind, is quite similar, but there the big goal is to return to a world unchanged by great magics. In Glorantha, everybody has left ordinary sanity behind and is quite willing, sometimes even eager, to accept such changes to their world, without ever jumping over the fence that Call of Cthulhu ultimately provides for the characters who have delved too deeply into the Cthulhu mythos, forcibly retiring them to a sanatorium or an evil cult.

 

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:
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I think it boils down to understanding why a "heroquest" concept exists at all in the HQ rulebook?

Because Glorantha is a world where myths are real and it is important to reinforce the myths, sometimes in This World, sometimes in the Other World, in order to keep Chaos at bay (as well as other things). 

Consider Christmas. Every year, millions of people reenact/retell the same story.  We put lights on trees to keep the Darkness at bay. We celebrate a rebirth within the world. We see gifts brought to honor the birth. We call for the Sun to return and fight back winter and the ice.  Most years that is enough.  But some years the omens are bad. Some years, more is necessary. Some years, you must cross over and enter the myth. The omens say the Hell Mother is coming this year to devour the lights, to eat the newborn/reborn one. You must be there to drive her off, or to ensure that the three wise women arrive with the gifts and blessings, etc. And if you fail, your community is in for a very, very bad year.

This is more than just going to Jonstown to the market, or going to Snakepipe Hollow to kill some Chaos and maybe return with a treasure. This is interacting with the myths that define you, your community, your relationships with the gods, and reinforce your belief in how the world does or ought to work.

Quote

Are there good examples of heroquests? (what you're saying about affecting God Time sounds super interesting, is there any published material with such adventures?)

The HQG core book has one: the quest to restore Orane, the Earth Goddess, who fled from the world in the midst of your holy day rituals when enemies attacked. It's a quest into the Underworld to convince the goddess to return and bring life/fertility/harmony back to your community (for without her, the fabric of your community is unraveling).

The Eleven Lights has another which is to go into the Underworld, find three dead stars, then bring them all the way to the Crown of Heaven to resurrect/relight them.

The heroquest in SKoH is the rescue of a soul trapped in another goddess' Hell.

Most of the Underworld quests have common elements: descent into Hell via some path; crossing Hell through a world of nightmare and trials to reach the place where the dead soul/spirit is; rescuing/recovering the soul/spirit; then returning.  This is very much along the lines of Joseph Campbell's basic mythic outline in a Hero With a Thousand Faces.  

The Eleven Lights also has the myth to Gain the Red Cows. In this one, the heroes cross over to the Otherworld and follow the mythic path to reach the Giant's Stead, outwit the Giant, and Steal the Cows to bring back to your clan.

Pavis Gateway to Adventure has the myth of the Emperor Naming the Gods. The heroes are thrust into this somewhat against their will as among the foes who will be named. If they fail, they are effectively thrust into a Lunar Hell and the powers of their gods are diminished. If they succeed, their gods are strengthened.

There are varied places where other myths are described, though not necessarily in scenario form: the Slaying of the Sun by the Storm God; the End of the Green Age (aka Innocence); the Coming of Death; the Birth and the Banishment of Drought; the Survival of Light through the Great Darkness; etc. 

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(I also repeated @jajagappa's message above)

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Eleven Lights (the campaign companion to the setting description in The Coming Storm) has the Red Cow heroquest, a clan secret which is regularly repeated in order to retain the distinctive magic of the red cows for the clan herd. It also has the Eleven Lights quest which takes you on a grand tour of the Outer Worlds of Glorantha, a different form of the Hero Planes. Get these books... 

I have the Red Cow books but I only started reading The Coming Storm in between all the rest, and hadn't touched Eleven Lights yet. I went and quickly read the chapter about the Red Cow heroquest and that one does make a lot more sense -- indeed, this is about a local myth that the clan perpetuates every year through tradition and festivities and, most of the time, by actually (re)doing the quest to reinforce the benefits they got from it. So if you want to do that quest, you can basically do it once every year at a specific point in time and space (more or less... you could attempt it somewhere/when else but it might not work as well, or might even create a backlash). It does however feel a bit like a "side quest" though (a potentially hard and long one), in the sense that it could sound a bit like "hey, it's Sacred Time again, how about we do this heroquest since we have a bit of downtime in between 2 campaigns?". But I suppose a good GM would manage to weave it into a broader narrative :)

So it's basically Glorantha's take on traditions like Anglo-Saxon Halloween or Aztec sacrifices to the Night God, but in a highly mythological world where these things exist and you actually have to make sure the ghosts don't cross over, or actually have to make sure the real Night God is pleased?

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Another good introduction to heroquesting is playing King of Dragon Pass

Oh I didn't know there was heroquesting in there (I thought it was mostly a resource management game), but in light of what I found in 11L I guess it makes sense, as it's part of the seasonal life of your clan.

Thanks!

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48 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

So it's basically Glorantha's take on traditions like Anglo-Saxon Halloween or Aztec sacrifices to the Night God, but in a highly mythological world where these things exist and you actually have to make sure the ghosts don't cross over, or actually have to make sure the real Night God is pleased?

Yes. Mythic quests are typically at one of two levels (possibly both): the communal, which is what you're noting; or the individual (you, acting as your god, seek to follow his/her footsteps and gain the benefits they did, and likely take on their flaws as a consequence).

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I agree with

5 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Yes. Mythic quests are typically at one of two levels (possibly both): the communal, which is what you're noting; or the individual (you, acting as your god, seek to follow his/her footsteps and gain the benefits they did, and likely take on their flaws as a consequence).

and i would also quote Carol Pearson  she encapsulates what the quest is and its ramifications....

 

"The heroic quest is about saying 'yes' to yourself and in so doing, becoming more fully alive and more effective in the world…The quest is replete with dangers and pitfalls, but it offers great rewards: the capacity to be successful in the world, knowledge of the mysteries of the human soul, and the opportunity to find and express your unique gifts in the world".

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Cool, so going back to S:KoH and the 3rd mission from the campaign in that book, how come that adventure is considered a heroquest? (since the PCs can ask for a heroquest challenge at the end of the mission). Is it because it's so bad-ass that, if they succeed, it will actually constitute the original event that the tribe will later celebrate every year with other heroquesters retracing the PCs' steps?

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18 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Cool, so going back to S:KoH and the 3rd mission from the campaign in that book, how come that adventure is considered a heroquest? (since the PCs can ask for a heroquest challenge at the end of the mission). Is it because it's so bad-ass that, if they succeed, it will actually constitute the original event that the tribe will later celebrate every year with other heroquesters retracing the PCs' steps?

Basically, any descent into the Underworld that has a return to the surface world is a heroquest. It is a passage to the Other Side, the characters leave the Middle World.

(Spirit journeys are handled somewhat differently, but that may be a consequence of the spirit world being neither fully here nor neither fully there in the Godtime cycles.)

The Underworld has strange rules and peculiarities. To surface world dwellers, much of it is a place of Death, but there are regions down there teeming with life and Creation. Still, the journey depicted in S:KoH in the third chapter traces the steps of Grandfather Mortal and Yelm to the Court of Silence - the road of the Dead. This is Orlanth's Lightbringer Path, with the Westfaring skipped by going through the exit from Orlanth's Hall. The other paths will sooner or later join this path.

Bringing back X from the Underworld is one of the archetypal quests. It is involved in all sunrise (and planetary rise) rites and myths, but it also features e.g. in the Sword Story or in the escape from the initiation pits in The Initiation of Orlanth.

The Orlanthi are the result of the Lightbringer myth, and it is a powerful tool (because of the victorious return) that lends significant magical advantage to derived quests.

The liberation of Hofstaring is not a full Lightbringers' Quest, as it only uses the Descent to Hell portion of that, and it relies on Hofstaring's Leaping magic and his personal path back from the Dead for the return. Because of the alien place of his imprisonment, Hofstaring is not an eligible returnee from the Lands of the Dead.

 

IMO the Heroquest Challenge is possible as the antagonists are recognizable as questers, too.

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On 5/4/2019 at 3:47 AM, lordabdul said:

Oh I didn't know there was heroquesting in there (I thought it was mostly a resource management game), but in light of what I found in 11L I guess it makes sense, as it's part of the seasonal life of your clan.

Yes, and it is also a way to introduce great changes to how your clan works (forming a tribe, for example) and to solve great disasters (drought and famine, for example). Playing the videogame King of Dragon Pass is great to start grasping the concept of HeroQuests.

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On at least one level, HeroQuesting is Strange Adventuring.

If you Adventure in a Magical Realm then you are HeroQuesting, in a way.

However, for me, a HeroQuest is laying a Myth onto a scenario. You want to raid some trolls, so you lay the Orlanth and the Sandals of Darkness Myth onto your troll raid and it becomes a HeroQuest. You get a magical benefit from the scenario. You might even strengthen your cult, if you steal Troll Magic from their Temple.

 

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13 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Cool, so going back to S:KoH and the 3rd mission from the campaign in that book, how come that adventure is considered a heroquest? (since the PCs can ask for a heroquest challenge at the end of the mission).

As @Joerg noted, any quest into the Underworld is a HeroQuest. To go there, you must enter the Land of the Dead. Returning from Death is heroic and not to be taken lightly.

It's different than going underground, say into the Caves of Chaos in Snakepipe Hollow. To go into Snakepipe Hollow, you simply need to travel there, enter the caves, reach your goal, and come back out (hopefully alive and not hideously transformed by Chaos).

To enter the Underworld usually requires a ritual crossing from a sacred/holy starting point (there are some exceptions - if you fall into the Hell Crack in Pent or sail down Magasta's Whirlpool you will eventually land in the Underworld). Orlanthi use either the myth of the Lightbringer's Quest (or pieces of it), travelling west to the Gates of Dusk, getting Rausa the goddess of Dusk to open the gates for you, and then descending the spiral stairs; or the myth of Orlanth's Ring where Storm Home disappears from the Sky and appears in the Underworld. Ernalda/Earth worshippers use the myth of Ernalda's Sleep where she falls into endless sleep (think Sleeping Beauty), but is carried down through the Earth Temple to the Neverending Stairs and then past Nontraya until you variously reach the Caverns of Silence, Asrelia's Hut, or some similar border between Earth and Darkness. Humakti of the Lismelder tribe can use the Six Stones HeroQuest to enter the Underworld. Other cults have other myths.

 To enter the Underworld means that you effectively die. You and your soul have left the world of the living. The myths give you ways to move through the Underworld, even if it is the world of nightmare and the unconscious. To rescue Hofstaring, you must reach the Court of Judgment. And there you must make the demand to enter the Deeper Hell beyond the Adamant Gates. These rather proscribed actions, "stations" or "steps" of the myth, are key parts to making them a HeroQuest, part of the mythic cycle.

The HeroQuest challenge is an opportunity to enforce or reinforce a specific step in the story and gain a greater boon or benefit. Perhaps your Orlanthi Heroquester gains an extra power against the Sun worshippers (which then is available in both the real world and in subsequent HeroQuests). Lots of possibilities here. Maybe he gains the blessing of Resurrection! (or Self-Resurrection). But it's still part of the greater quest which is to bring a great treasure for the benefit of the world out of the Underworld (Orlanth brought back the Sun, Yelm brought back Justice, etc.).

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5 hours ago, soltakss said:

However, for me, a HeroQuest is laying a Myth onto a scenario. You want to raid some trolls, so you lay the Orlanth and the Sandals of Darkness Myth onto your troll raid and it becomes a HeroQuest. You get a magical benefit from the scenario. You might even strengthen your cult, if you steal Troll Magic from their Temple.

It sounds like you have an interpretation that's close to the way I originally understood heroquests.... from one of my messages from the other thread before we took the conversation here:

Quote

The main thing that's confusing to me is where a Heroquest comes from. I understand that the GM and players can either draw from the myths written in published books, or invent their own, but can you make any adventure into a Heroquest if you want? Or only specific adventures that are designed to be Heroquests from the start? Like, say the current adventure is about your clan being at war with a neighbouring clan, and they have stolen your cows. Their chieftain is known for riding an auroch, and has multiple wives who are also fierce warriors. You could just go across the hills, get the cows back by force or stealth or diplomacy, maybe kill or capture the chieftain, and that's it. But maybe this is a big deal for your clan... you talk to someone with deep mythological knowledge, and they tell you about hero XYZ who climbed to the top of a mountain to slay the giant ABC, known for riding a bear, and his entourage of Chaos harpies, and brought back some kind of fertility boon after dragging the giant's head by its beard all the way down to the valley. It's not quite the same (mountain vs. hill, harpies vs. warrior wives, bear vs auroch, etc.) but it's similar enough that with enough ritualistic preparation you can complete your mission at greater risk but with greater reward (you don't only bring back the cows, they're now especially fertile cows that will give your clan a stronger, larger herd). So you have to convince the clan to get along with it and perform the ritual. Then, of course, time and space will behave weirdly during the quest, some unexpected event will occur, and, to increase your chances of success, you'll have to (among other things) specifically behead the clan chieftain and drag his head across the hills....

Can you do that? Does that mean the enemy clan effectively gets sucked partially into the Hero Plane or something? Or you can't, and the only Heroquest you can undertake is to actually retrace the steps of hero XYZ and go up the same mountain and kill the same giant ABC?

 

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I wonder where exactly is the place that you die (or "go sleeping") - is it crossing the first threshold to the Underworld, or is it when you face judgement of Daka Fal?

If you manage to enter the staircase of what used to be the basement of the Obsidian Palace, you have another path of descent into the Underworld, leading to one of the stations of the Lightbringers' Quest - specifically the feast in which Eurmal performs his betrayal of hospitality (for which Orlanth has to take responsibility) by confessing that he slew the son of their host (like, just now).

While descent through the Tar Pit is likely to be difficult and highly unpleasant, the entire stump of Veskarthan's entry point to the underworld of Ernaldela is riddled with caverns and passages, housing the tens of thousands of local uz and their insect lifestock, and other critters of Darkness or Shadow seeking the shelter or company of these. Entry through the Styx Grotto sounds quite promising. (Plus I have the suspicion that the name Styx Grotto hints at some of the waters from the Creekstream River actually do feed the rivers of the Underworld, and that it should be possible to dive there, and possibly even to boat down there.)

The Blackmaw just outside of the Nochet Wall facing the Antones Estates (aka the local necropolis) marks another entry (and unfortunately also exit) point to the Underworld.

The deep chaos holes of Snake Pipe Hollow and the Footprint might have trails leading to some of the nethermost hells. Unless you already are steeped in mystic refutation or chaos taint, these routes aren't good choices, but your Lunar zealot might just brave them.

 

But back to more hospitable parts of the Underworld/Hell: Wonderhome used to be a pleasantly dark place crawling with insects and other arthropodes, and probably soft-bodied life as well. This is the place where Orlanth stole those Sandals of Darkness, and when he did that, it wasn't yet the realm of the dead but just another subterranean and dark habitat full of life. The basement of the Obsidian Palace may be a similar case of not clearly post-Death location (despite being part of the Sword Story after the first two slayings, and the site of another slaying perpretrated by Eurmal).

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6 hours ago, jajagappa said:

As @Joerg noted, any quest into the Underworld is a HeroQuest. To go there, you must enter the Land of the Dead. Returning from Death is heroic and not to be taken lightly.

Sure but "it's super bad-ass" isn't quite the requirement for an adventure being a heroquest? Apparently you can go in the Underworld to accomplish any arbitrary deed (save someone that was never saved before, like Hofstaring, bring back a rare plant nobody brought back before, pet a bunny, whatever) and still be able to "piggy back" onto a variety of mythological quest that went down there even though those myths went down there to do something different. This does indeed sound to me like you can turn any adventure into a heroquest if that adventure's general outline is "close enough" to an existing myth, no?

It also begs the question of what qualifies as a myth vs. what's "just" a super awesome historical occurrence. For instance, any event that happened during God Time probably qualifies as a myth. However, what about great feats accomplished during the First or Second Age? Especially those accomplished by human heroes that might still be celebrated by many tribes to this day?

(maybe I should just wait to see what Chaosium has in store for RQG's heroquesting and go back to reading basic background info and rules :) )

Edited by lordabdul

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16 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Sure but "it's super bad-ass" isn't quite the requirement for an adventure being a heroquest? Apparently you can go in the Underworld to accomplish any arbitrary deed (save someone that was never saved before, like Hofstaring, bring back a rare plant nobody brought back before, pet a bunny, whatever) and still be able to "piggy back" onto a variety of mythological quest that went down there even though those myths went down there to do something different. This does indeed sound to me like you can turn any adventure into a heroquest if that adventure's general outline is "close enough" to an existing myth, no?

Yes, you can, and there are things that can be run as a heroquest that are not bad-ass at all. Take for instance the Spare Grain myth of Harst (a son of Issaries), this is about loaning some spare grain, making the tour of your neighbors trading up, and returning the spare grain with a profit. Sure, you can spice this up with encounters that need fast-talk or similar Issaries skills to avoid, but it remains a mercantile exchange at its core, and if you get into a heroic fight, you did something wrong.

 

16 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

It also begs the question of what qualifies as a myth vs. what's "just" a super awesome historical occurrence. For instance, any event that happened during God Time probably qualifies as a myth. However, what about great feats accomplished during the First or Second Age? Especially those accomplished by human heroes that might still be celebrated by many tribes to this day?

You cannot heroquest into the Gbaji Wars to re-enact the final fight between Arkat and Nysalor (and Gbaji) as a heroquest as that was a moment in time. You might be able quest into a few of the Timeless events when the Compromise was broken - like when Nysalor/D'Wargon hurt Kyger Litor/Korasting by burning his way out of the womb of the Black Eater during the Battle of Night and Day.

Hero cults are usually tied to some other deity's Godtime events. Harmast Barefoot established the Lightbringer's Quest as a complete hero path for mortals, but the Godtime events are all Orlanth's. Is it possible to bring Arkat back again that way? You could try that out in Ralios...

 

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8 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Apparently you can go in the Underworld to accomplish any arbitrary deed (save someone that was never saved before, like Hofstaring, bring back a rare plant nobody brought back before, pet a bunny, whatever) and still be able to "piggy back" onto a variety of mythological quest that went down there even though those myths went down there to do something different. This does indeed sound to me like you can turn any adventure into a heroquest if that adventure's general outline is "close enough" to an existing myth, no?

Probably better to say you can turn any story into a Heroquest. Yes, there are a lot of stories/myths that connect to the descent into the Underworld and return from. That is what Spring/New Year is about - the rebirth of the world from the Dead - so quests to return with a New Seed (the great elf quest of the Hero Wars), a new light, fire, a new form of Death, etc. all work as Underworld quests. 

Myths are stories that interact with the fabric and archetypes of the world. They have obstacles, some of which you are supposed to win, some fail. Following the story leads you to the potential of the story/myth. Winning where you are supposed to lose alters the story and the myth - likely the real benefit of the myth is lost. Whether what you get instead, if anything, is of the same value or not is something that will ripple through you, your supporters, your clan.

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Perhaps a bit of a derailment, but since we're in the Underworld and all ... what happens to chaotic creatures when they die? Where do they end up?

  • Full on chaos, like broo, ogres and such
  • Honest guv, it's just a chaos feature and I didn't even ask for it
  • Illuminates

 

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2 minutes ago, The God Learner said:

what happens to chaotic creatures when they die? Where do they end up?

They all follow the path of the Dead.  See SKoH p.346: Trolls, broo, beast men, and every other mortal race join the Dead. All are united in death and silence, for none speak or quarrel. They all parade with a common purpose and goal: to reach Havan Vor, the Court of Silence.

Undoubtedly some fail to cross the River of Swords or the Ferryman's Boat for they lack the coin of passage and are doomed to be ghosts forever congregating by the shores of the River Styx. Any who have broken oaths will be shredded, devoured, forgotten, etc. and never reach the Court of Silence.

Those who reach the Court of Silence are judged. Their gods (including the Chaos Gods presumably) may speak for them. 

The afterlife varies. Some of this originally noted in Cults of Terror and reprinted in Cults Compendium (and presumably will see updated versions in Gods of Glorantha).  Undoubtedly many are just reabsorbed into the primordial muck of the Font of Chaos. And some are obliterated, like the souls of vampires (or those devoured by the Crimson Bat).

Mallia’s faithful know there will be no reincarnation for their spirits, and that all they can hope for is a safe eternity in Hell. Dead Initiates in the cult may be kept for a time as a spirit of disease before they, too, gain the final rest.

Thed’s worshippers become demons of chaos after they die, and spend their time hunting the souls of those unprotected by their own deities. The demons will be scouts for the forces of chaos in the Final Battle.

When a Thanatari lies dying, the Gatherer of Souls (one of many subservient cult spirits) appears to the stricken cultist and guides his or her soul to the Place of Waiting-reputedly that part of Hell where Hrothmir separated the head and body of Tien. After completing a term of service as a guardian, the spirit returns to the Place of Waiting once gain to bide till the day when the forces of chaos engage the gods in the final battle.

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12 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Sure but "it's super bad-ass" isn't quite the requirement for an adventure being a heroquest? 

OK, we are confusing several things here.

A HeroQuest doesn't need to be badass. Most aren't.

An Orlanthi who wants to marry someone from a forbidden clan can perform one of the many Orlanth Abducts a Maiden HeroQuests to abduct her and marry her. Although the act is normally forbidden, the HeroQuest makes it possible. This isn't a badass HeroQuest, the HeroQuestor invokes the HeroQuest and conforms to the Stations, where possible or finds encounters as per the Stations. It ritualises certain aspects of the scenario, causes some participants to want to behave in certain ways and gets a legally-binding result in the end.

A Yelornan Maiden who want a Unicorn can perform the Unicorn Quest. She goes out into the wilds, purifies herself, hunts for a Unicorn, proves herself worthy and comes back riding the Unicorn. Again, not badass but with a magical effect at the end.

12 hours ago, lordabdul said:

Apparently you can go in the Underworld to accomplish any arbitrary deed (save someone that was never saved before, like Hofstaring, bring back a rare plant nobody brought back before, pet a bunny, whatever) and still be able to "piggy back" onto a variety of mythological quest that went down there even though those myths went down there to do something different. 

These are Other Place HeroQuests, to places outside of the Mundane Realm, to the Sky Dome, to the Red Moon, to the Underworld or Hell, to one of the Planets, to the Eternal Battle, to a Star. You can go there in many ways, but only the most powerful HeroQuestors do this. The magical rewards of going to the actual place on the Other Side are more than doing it in a mundane place.

12 hours ago, lordabdul said:

This does indeed sound to me like you can turn any adventure into a heroquest if that adventure's general outline is "close enough" to an existing myth, no?

In my Glorantha, yes, you can do exactly that, as in the examples above.

11 hours ago, Joerg said:

You cannot heroquest into the Gbaji Wars to re-enact the final fight between Arkat and Nysalor (and Gbaji) as a heroquest as that was a moment in time. You might be able quest into a few of the Timeless events when the Compromise was broken - like when Nysalor/D'Wargon hurt Kyger Litor/Korasting by burning his way out of the womb of the Black Eater during the Battle of Night and Day.

Now, I think that you can. Every major event causes a Node on the God Plane and this allows HeroQuestors to travel to that Node. The Gbaji/Arkat Smackdown, Dragonkill, Battle of Night and Day, First Battle of Chaos, red Goddess at Castle Blue, The Dragonewt Dream, Wounding of Korasting and many more are events powerful enough and mythical enough to have created a God Plane Node.

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30 minutes ago, soltakss said:
12 hours ago, Joerg said:

You cannot heroquest into the Gbaji Wars to re-enact the final fight between Arkat and Nysalor (and Gbaji) as a heroquest as that was a moment in time. You might be able quest into a few of the Timeless events when the Compromise was broken - like when Nysalor/D'Wargon hurt Kyger Litor/Korasting by burning his way out of the womb of the Black Eater during the Battle of Night and Day.

Now, I think that you can. Every major event causes a Node on the God Plane and this allows HeroQuestors to travel to that Node. The Gbaji/Arkat Smackdown, Dragonkill, Battle of Night and Day, First Battle of Chaos, red Goddess at Castle Blue, The Dragonewt Dream, Wounding of Korasting and many more are events powerful enough and mythical enough to have created a God Plane Node.

That's probably a continuum where there is a border what goes and what doesn't.

IMO the final fight in the City of Miracles did collapse the altenate reality of the Bright Empire, but I don't think it was a moment that created a Godtime location. If it was, then the 1042 mass utuma that ended the EWF or the sinking of Seshnela by the Luatha would be within range, too, and if that, then why not the destruction of Akez Loradak and the death of Ezkankekko, and if that, why not Sartar becoming King of Dragon Pass, etc. ad absurdum.

We have proof that questing related to Korasting's wound has happened, but it isn't quite clear whether the questers tried to intercede as the Black Eater, or whether they did an Underworld quest to heal Korasting. The Battle of Night and Day was a breach of the Compromise, a slip-over from Time to Godtime, and the formation of the Black Eater and its interaction with Nysalor probably was Godtime rather than Time. (Palangio did the breach, see History of the Heortling Peoples.)

First Battle of Chaos: not necessarily a breach of the Compromise. Neither Teelo Estara nor the Bat were new to the world. Arkat had skinned it, giving it its distinct coloration. Castle Blue was a place not of the mundane world, and the presence of Alakoring makes it clear that it happened in Godtime, as Alakoring had been shot dead (and not resurrected) about 300 years earlier. The Dragonewt Dream probably was a superposition of Godtime or otherwise dragon reality over the mundane world, and as such already visitable if you just know where to go. The Dragonkill did not see a breach of the Compromise, either. Neither did the Dragonrise of 1625.

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

and if that, why not Sartar becoming King of Dragon Pass, etc. ad absurdum

Maybe it's not an "either/or", and more like a gradient, a beacon that shines with more or less strength. The story of Sartar becoming King might be too recent to be a myth, but give it a few centuries of people retelling the story of its most impressive feats and it might get there. Similarly, ancient myths that were central to a whole bunch of tribes centuries ago might be all but forgotten now, a place in the God Plane that's only a shadow of its former self, with the Gods and other figures attached to it now dying or waiting to be rediscovered (like, say, the Stone Woman from the Broken Tower adventure).

Now whether those half-formed and half-dissolved myths are easier or hard to heroquest is up to you, I guess. My naive approach would be to make "myths-in-the-making" easier to reproduce but without much benefit in the end, if at all (i.e. it takes a lot of effort to make it "take off"... like a whole nation starting to celebrate it on a regular basis for at least a couple generations), while "forgotten myths" would be extra-hard to access, have extra-unforeseen consequences, but have extra-awesome benefits (i.e. it's hard to "reach" them, and awakening old myths might displace new ones and displease the present Gods, but the older Gods, even given their reduced capacity, would be extra invested in you).

Edited by lordabdul

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10 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Maybe it's not an "either/or", and more like a gradient, a beacon that shines with more or less strength. The story of Sartar becoming King might be too recent to be a myth, but give it a few centuries of people retelling the story of its most impressive feats and it might get there.

I don't think that how recent the event was is relevant for its imprint on the Hero Planes (i.e. Godtime). The first quests against the Curse of Kin started during the Gbaji Wars, and 200 years later, the multiple birth trollkin were a sufficiently important part of the troll forces during the reactions to the Tax Slaughter that a trollkin lieutenant who had experienced care by Chalana Arroy priestesses led a mutiny which crippled the troll forces that had assembled to enforce Arkat's Command.

 

10 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Similarly, ancient myths that were central to a whole bunch of tribes centuries ago might be all but forgotten now, a place in the God Plane that's only a shadow of its former self, with the Gods and other figures attached to it now dying or waiting to be rediscovered (like, say, the Stone Woman from the Broken Tower adventure).

Forgotten myths still are there on the hero plane unless their very actors have been erased from the fabric of the universe. It is possible to stumble into such myths, especially if they belong to the same archetype of myths that you used to enter the Hero Planes with.

What has changed with forgotten myths is not the myth itself, but its expression onto the middle world. The return of a moon brought back all manner of largely forgotten or differently interpreted myths about moon goddesses. There probably was quite a bit of forehead-slapping in the manner of "so that's what this story was talking about" as the reality of the re-incarnating moon goddess was coming to the awareness of the Gloranthans.

 

10 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Now whether those half-formed and half-dissolved myths are easier or hard to heroquest is up to you, I guess. My naive approach would be to make "myths-in-the-making" easier to reproduce but without much benefit in the end, if at all (i.e. it takes a lot of effort to make it "take off"... like a whole nation starting to celebrate it on a regular basis for at least a couple generations), while "forgotten myths" would be extra-hard to access, have extra-unforeseen consequences, but have extra-awesome benefits (i.e. it's hard to "reach" them, and awakening old myths might displace new ones and displease the present Gods, but the older Gods, even given their reduced capacity, would be extra invested in you).

If you apply these considerations to the questing of the Seven Mothers and Teelo Estara, much of this applies. The Red Goddess quest that preceded her return to the First Battle of Chaos was extra hard. had extra-unforeseen consequences, and was admittedly awesome. (Her riding the Star Bear would have been quite awesome, too...)

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On 5/6/2019 at 2:25 PM, jajagappa said:

Their gods (including the Chaos Gods presumably) may speak for them. 

I think I would strike out the Chaos Gods, except for the Compromise-partaking Lunar pantheon. Though perhaps Chaos Gods can pluck up the souls that are discarded by the Gloranthan Gods and do what they will with them. 

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On 5/6/2019 at 12:22 PM, Joerg said:

I don't think that how recent the event was is relevant for its imprint on the Hero Planes (i.e. Godtime).

It might be modulated by how grandiose or important the event is generally speaking (so there are multiple factors at play), but what I meant was that how long ago it happened has a direct correlation to how many times people have been able to celebrate it and re-enact it. Something that happened a season ago might not have been part of any cultural celebration yet, whereas something that happened 200 years ago has potentially been done several hundred times.

On 5/6/2019 at 12:22 PM, Joerg said:

The first quests against the Curse of Kin... [...]

I have no idea what your point is, here :)

In other news, I started flipping a bit through Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes and Sartar Companion and I found the Law Staff Quest adventure which is interesting, as it starts in the mundane world and then moves on to the hero plane only later, and has a bunch of other interactions between the two on the way there. That will let me ask more concrete questions about heroquesting:

  • I didn't quite understand if the Lawspeaker was an alternate manifestation of Orlanth, or if it was some other entity? (looks like it's the latter)
  • In the first part of the quest (when you're still in the mundane world, AFAICT), you can be attacked by one of your "enemies". Say it's the Grey Dogs clan.
    • How does it look like from their side? Did they just happen to be there by some kind of cosmic coincidence? Or did their priests receive visions from their gods and spirits, and those visions somehow compelled the clan leaders to send someone in the right direction for intercepting you?
    • When they show up, surely they recognize that you're on a heroquest, since, in the "Road to Rich Post" section it is mentioned that Sartarites will immediately recognize what you're doing and who you're dressed up as. Would that typically be extra incentive for them to attack you ("if we mess up their quest, they will endure many hardships and will make it easier for us to take over their land and cattle!") or would they think twice about it ("shit, we don't want to get sucked into a hero plane event!")?
    • Since the text says (in "Who are the Hero and his Companions?") that, for the duration of the quest, you are the god (Orlanth or possibly Heort), wouldn't the Grey Dogs freak out that Orlanth himself is over there on the road? Would they even be able to tell that, underneath it all, there's a Colymar tribe member? (and not someone from a friendly-to-them tribe, doing the same quest?)
  • In the last part of the quest (when you've crossed over to the Other Side), you're up on Arrowmound Mountain.
    • Again, you're supposed to effectively be Orlanth, so wouldn't Jarani recognize you instead of saying "Halt Stranger!"?
    • Similar question as before: some of your "enemies" were brought into the hero plane through the Summoning of Evil. But do they actually know it?
      • Again, say it's the Grey Dogs. Since they're Sartarites, they probably know about this Law Staff myth (since it's a general Orlanthi myth, not one specific to the Colymar tribe). They probably wouldn't willingly heroquest as "the bad guys". I don't imagine their priests would receive visions that tell them they need to launch a "villainquest"?!
      • Or maybe it's not them, it's just a personification of them? (if you cut one of their warriors' arm off during the Battle of Arrowmound, if you went and spied on their village the next week, would you see a one armed warrior recovering from the wound?)
      • Or maybe the Grey Dogs indeed launched into a heroquest themselves, but they also believe they're on Jarani's side? Would they see you in Gagarth's army? What if the Grey Dogs have other more important enemies than you that should show up for them?! Or what if they're not in a good position (resources-wise) to run a heroquest in the first place? Is it actually a viable long term tactic to try and keep your enemies busy or low on POW so that there's less chance of them showing up in your next quest?
  • Last, shouldn't the quest go 2 different ways depending on how you prepare for it?
    • If you dress up as Orlanth, Harand should be the one showing up and fighting you.
    • If you dress up as Heort, Gagarth is the one that shows up.

One last thing to note (which was also a factor in my misunderstanding what can be quested and what can't) is that I didn't realize how much of Glorantha's "history" actually happens in God Time. I thought that as soon as you've got kings and nations and stuff, you're already in the Dawn Age or later, but apparently not: for instance, pretty much all of the Vingkotling culture developed outside of Time! That was unexpected.

Edited by lordabdul

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One of my views is that if you travel far enough from home that you don’t recognise the magics of those you visit and they do not recognise yours then you potentially are HeroQuesting.

Lots of Gloranthans actively do not want to HeroQuest (see Bituarian Vorosh in Cults of Prax) and have choices available to prevent their journey or actions becoming magical (eg. Orlanthi kings and chiefs know how to avoid being identified as the Evil Emperor).

Most actions and events in the mundane world are reflections of events in the God Place. So conversely, it should be possible to invest sufficient ritual and magic in mundane activities that they become a HeroQuest re-enactment of The First HouseCleaning.

Sometimes, an enemy or rival will target a pc, whether generically looking for an opponent, or specifically that pc and the signs of rising magic are ignored or misinterpreted so that the pc is dragged unknowing into a role in someone else’s hq.

And finally, some places (or places at auspicious times or extremely rarely just completely random) are weak spots, where the barrier to the God Place is low or non existent. If you adventure into Snakepipe Hollow, it may be just an adventure. Until you get to Baroshi or go into the maggot tunnels...

The upshot of all of this is that it really is up to the player and gm how much effort they want to invest in making the adventure ‘mythic’.

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