Starlight Mage

Volume 3, Number 12

Stephen R. Marsh

Suite 316 Union Square

1401 Holliday Street

Wichita Falls, TX 76308

This is a temporary return to the pages of The Wild Hunt and is for only one issue. Please send any comments to me at the address above. (Holliday Street is named after Doc Holliday and is correctly spelled).

I've been publishing articles in professional journals and doing my PBM (which is now over and available as shareware on 5¼" floppies). Work has picked up tempo and I have more articles to write professionally which leaves TWH as one of the activities I've had to drop and leave dropped for now.

The reason I'm submitting this zine is to provide you with my house rules for running HEROQUEST.

HEROQUEST (the official rules will eventually be written by Greg Stafford) is still not out, but * * * the new edition of Pendragon is due out shortly and you can use the mechanics from Pendragon to run Heroquests.

Really. You start by taking all RQIII skills and you divide them by 10% (thus a sword at 120% becomes Sword 12). You then determine available WILL (see next column) and calculate Glory.

Glory is calculated by backtracking the character's career and using the Pendragon Rules.

For future play add the rules for glory and traits from Pendragon and apply them as limits to skills, etc.

Now, every time you are on the heroplane, use the Pendragon mechanics and rules with two exceptions. First, keep skill gains (if any) on the percentile system (which slows them down). Second, keep magic available to the characters.


The requisite called WILL is the most important part of the HEROQUEST and the place where the rules keep bogging down. Most GMs treat WILL as similar to Glory and suffer a number of problems from that approach. In addition, several systems bog down on how to accumulate WILL.

I have found it is better to have both Glory and WILL and to start every character with WILL at 18 points. Each runic association the character is sealed to (generally, each rune in each cult the character is a Rune Lord or Rune Priest in) costs a point of WILL for an allied association, 3 points for a direct association.

That is, if one takes skills or spells as a member of the cult, it costs 3 points of WILL. If one takes advantage of skills or spells of an allied cult (or gains an ally) it takes 1 point of WILL.

In addition, each skill that goes over 95% costs a point of WILL. One can spend all of one's WILL just by having too many skills at high percentiles.

Finally, to keep a benefit gained on a Heroquest costs a point of WILL. WILL can also be gained or lost on special Heroquests (usually in interactions with the Trickster).

On the other hand, characters can gain WILL. Every adverse effect suffered and retained from a Heroquest gains a point of WILL (the same one lost by the party keeping the mirror benefit). Every 500 points of glory generates one point of WILL. (Negative glory is a special case, not covered here.)

In addition, each power of ten of worshipers a character has generates a point of WILL. (Thus 100 worshipers = 2 points of WILL; 1,000 = 3; 10,000 = 4, etc.) Reducing runic associations will free up the Will dedicated to them as will sacrificing skills that are over 95%.

Finally, some heroquests can result in gaining WILL in ways other than losing a part of yourself (e.g. if you succeed against the Trickster).

When WILL = 0 the character loses his or her free agency and becomes an NPC. This happens at any level of play. A god can become "NPCed" (so to speak) by gaining too many allies or by losing worshipers or glory.

E.g. Oakfed is completely controlled by his shamen because he spent all of his WILL. In current politics, Pavis is a good example of a god who overextended his runic associations. So is Sartar. Pavis encompassed too many runes directly, Sartar had too many allies. Will is very important.

Being raised from the dead, etc. costs a point of will each time it happens.

Try it. Pendragon mechanics can handle characters with scores of 35 or more (Lancelot) or 350%+ (that is 50 successful 5% increments, gained from 1,000 adventures after the character made Rune Lord -- more if you limit success gains to 1d6%).

Example in play. Karg IronHand is FIST 190%, (1pt) belongs to the Man Rune Cult (3pt), has been raised from the dead twice (2pt), has the Hero Gift of permanent Ironhand (1 pt) and is an associate member of the Spirit Cult (1 pt).

Karg has 500 points of glory (+1) and 20 followers (+1). His total WILL is 12. Note that if he had four more skills and was a full member of the Spirit Cult his WILL would be only 6.

Assume that he goes onto the Spirit Plane on a Heroquest. He will have a WILL of 12 for WILL vs WILL struggles.

Since WILL vs. WILL struggles are the equivilent of POW vs. POW struggles on the Mortal Plane, WILL is very important. It is low WILL that makes old gods who have lost their worshippers such tempting targets.

Lets assume that Karg encounters Keening Remnant, a Free Willed Spirit. Such Spirits are important as allies, friends and enemies as they have FREE INT of 2d6+6 and POW of 3d6+6 -- both available if allied.

In this case the two are unknown to each other and engage in a WILL vs. WILL struggle with parts of themselves that cost WILL as the prize.

In the struggle, Karg loses his Ironhand to Keening Remnant (and gains 1 point of WILL) and gains Keening Remanant as an allied spirit (cost 1 point of WILL).

You can work out the rest of the details of using Pendragon for yourself. The system works rather well and handles high levels of power. It also gives a level of richness to play with traits, glory and similar aspects of mythic life.


THE EARTHSEA TRILOGY, new covers, glorious art, a fourth volume now out (but released as a children's hardback over $10.00 -- over the break price for most chains) and carrying the most arrogant and pretentious review on the inside of each volume. Until I see the Earthsea Roleplaying Game * * * I'll not believe all the hype.

Seriously though, Earthsea is a pretty grim place. Its poverty stricken inhabitants sit always on the edge of disaster, strewn with warped earth powers, and between shadows.

Life is brief, but death, where a significant portion of the short stories and the novels take place, is long and dry with an unending afterlife filled with dust where loved ones pass each other by and friends traverse the bleak country always alone.

The author tries to soften the grimness with a brief pass at karma (the force of your life remains with the living), but the sadness and grief with which the characters react to those spirits called back from the dead cuts the soft alternatives to the bone.

I'm curious to see what is in book four.

I would also advise the publisher to issue a companion volume of all of LeGuin's Earthsea short stories. It would be a kindness to fans and a good commercial move.

SURRENDER NONE <The Legacy of Gird>, Elizabeth Moon, $4.50/531 pages and published by Baen. (discount price $4.05).

You may have to look to find this book. Local bookstores carried tons of Sassinak novels and yet are carrying only one or two copies of Surrender None. A pity. The book is a keeper.

While the author's technique and style have matured (and they were darn near perfect in the Paks novels), the novel is more memorable for the quality of detail and the accuracy of all the subparts.

Surprisingly, Moon has her law and legal interactions down with an accuracy and clarity unusual for any novel.

Her small and medium scale economics are exact. Her small unit tactics and weapon mixes (and interactions) are flawless. The farm lore and details are right on the money.

Of course the underlying story is well executed and well told. It is easy to miss the fact that all of the technical details are solid or that the background is no longer derivative in appearance (excepting the "paladin" horses -- but that seems to have been done on purpose).

The book is a gem from every angle -- down to the social interactions and the anthropology and theomantics.

I enjoyed reading the Paks novels more, but I admire Surrender None which can be read in several ways. The first is as the story of Gird, a serf who thought and who did what was right. It is a story of a man who chose to do right and of the struggles and sacrifices he had.

The story is also a nicely executed Chaim Potok culture clash story with a stable resolution implied (and realized by the society in the Paks books). Finally, it is a powerfully executed justification and explanation of the world setting used by Moon for her fantasy stories.

It does have a flaw or two. The prequel piece wasn't needed. Etc.

However, I'm out of space and I did like the book. If you want more write me and I'll send you the rest of the review.

Best wishes -- Steve Marsh

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