The Starlight Mage 21

Copyright 1990, 1991 by

Stephen R. Marsh

1401 Holliday Street

Union Square #316

Wichita Falls, Texas 76301


Following my rules and examples on how to run Heroquests, I am providing an example of a "classic" (i.e. traditionally organized) heroquest. This heroquest is interlaced with notes, comments and advice/descriptions of how to derive and how to set up a heroquest.

After the "classic" format are my notes on what changes, investigations, conceptual alterations and efforts were needed to consider using my new format and rules.


[This is the story from which I drew the heroquest.]

[All heroquests should start with the myth you want to adapt to a heroquest. You can use either a myth archetype {e.g. quest, revenge, journey, etc.} or a story involving immortals {e.g. gods, godlings, heroes, superheroes, dragons, mythics and undying/ immortal individuals dwelling in the mythic regions <such as the gray zone, heroplane, etc.>}.]

[This story is from my own campaign and is modified to fit, albeit with some gaps, the Dragon Pass milieu.]

[For more on cults that I adopted from my campaign, see THE SCHOOL OF BRAGASH DIOR, THE SPEAR CULT, and ASANA.]

During the great dance [i.e. the time before the intrusion of chaos or death, when the immortals were generally having fun], [this is a prime time for tales that lead to heroquests] the White Princess [the Gloranthan analog to my Nora of the Glacier] sparkled upon the plains of Prax. [Nora may be the same as Greg Stafford's Inora.]

That is, The White Princess begins this story as a snow flurry on the plains of Prax.

Crossing the plains she saw a great horse, the eight legged drepnir [see below for more comments on drepnir, unicorns, peguses, etc. These are all subsets of the primal horse]. [This marks Nora/Inora's entry into the great conflict and is also the call to adventure].

This horse had been Yelm's and then Yelmalio's and now ran free following the death of Yelm. [This quest reflects a conflict from the godtime. It is often appropriate to start a quest when the lead character of the story notices something resulting from the conflicts of godtime.]

That is, The White Princess saw the drepnir.

Nora/White Princess danced and strove and followed the eight legged horse across Prax until they reached her glacier fane. There the horse became hers.

This is the basic story.

The story is fleshed out with the companions Nora met and added as she pursued the drepnir across the plains, the adventures and conflicts they had, and [of course] the great struggle to master/ally/gain the eight legged horse.


[These are the steps I came up with to make the story into the quest].

A. Gain a vision of the great horse. [the call to adven-ture, a standard heroquest event.]

B. Pursue the horse.

C. Gain companions.

D. The stations of conflict of the quest.

1. Broos;

2. Morokanth;

3. Sungriffins;

4. Lunars;

5. Scorpion Men;

E. The final tests.

1. For the companions;

2. For the questor -- the horse.

F. Quest ends.


[Having put together the steps of the quest, it is time to explain the various conflicts.]

[Generally, I start with a basic story that appeals to me. Then I place the general elements of a heroquest against that story. I then flesh the story out to include the conflicts.]

The path of conflict that Nora followed as she chased the horse across Prax contains many elements. This should be a chance for a rich variety of feuds, physical laws and other matters to be explained.

[All physical reality in Glorantha has a supporting myth. In this story, the reason that snow melts is explained.]

[In addition, all modern conflicts, feuds and histories should have roots in various mythic conflicts. It is always good to include a few in every heroquest. This causes quests to explain and illustrate the world to the players and makes quests more than routine manipulation of archetypical patterns.]

The first day of her quest she met eight of the twelve to twenty minor snow deities that still attend her as part of her court. [a court is not a pantheon] They were lost and confused, their powers weakened and their places threatened. Nora gathered them together into the core of band that even now walks Prax.

The great night then began and she encountered chaos upon the plains of Prax. [Like all immortals, The White Princess fought chaos]. [The White Princess is also a friend of grandfather mortal and mankind. Man friends are more important in Shattered Norns than Glorantha, but I thought I might as well keep the distinction here.]

Then, the next day, she faced enemies of grandfather mortal [beastrune vs manrune conflict is reprised here] who took advantage of the confusion that chaos gave to displace man-kind whenever they could. [Like all immortals, the White Princess fought those who attempted to benefit from chaos]. [This also reprises the Morokanth matter, explaining it in another, pro-man/antibeast fashion not currently native to Prax.]

At evening, at sunset, certain of the sungriffins, asserting the power of their father Yelm over all horses and over all life (not only against chaos), struck at her. Thus she learned that within time there would also be conflict [and this is also why the sun melts snow even though the great compromise was reached].

The next conflict had its roots in the conflict between the pure horse vs the beast rider conflict and has been tainted by lunar influences. (Remember, the pure horse peoples were driven from Prax into Dragon Pass) Nora, as a seeker after horses, came into conflict with the beasts. The White Princess, as a chaos hating goddess, also conflicts with Lunar influences. (Remember, Lunar Antelope are related to the Moon Goddess).

[Modern matters can corrupt or alter ancient tales, the world of myth and heroquests. This is a natural place to illustrate that principal. Note that Nora comes down on the side of horses -- again not the current native to Prax thinking.]

Then Nora faced a reprise of the chaos left after the devil had been defeated and time created as she fought scorpion men who sought to use her mountains to scale the gates to the sun. [Chaos remains in the world even after the great feat has been done].

[Traditionally, in middle eastern myths, scorpion men served the sun and protected it from evil and chaos. In Glorantha, it appears that the scorpion men went over to chaos and were amoung those seduced into allowing chaos entry. This may have been part of their resposne to Yelm's death.

As the steps to the sun begin on the mountains, it is appropriate that Nora would encounter the chaos that remains in the world as she entered the mountains. This also allows me to reprise these mythic elements.]

Then, having pursued the drepnir to her place of power, she prepared for the final challenge by exercising her traits. (I.e. because of her compassion she gave each of the godlings with her a shrine on her glacier). Overcome by her exhibitions and strength, the drepnir became hers.

[This also explains that while there is a unicorn tribe, and there are Pegasus flocks, the drepnir does not have a similar tribe or force -- in my version of Glorantha the drepnir allied with a goddess instead of becoming a natural force or allying with a tribe. Drepnir are thus scattered immortals rather than more common beasts.]


[Or how to put this into game mechanics] [What the characters and their players should do.]

First, prepare for the quest.

This means research into the myths, obtaining useful items, getting a team together and deciding to go for it.

[A party should research the myths by many adventures, seekings and some divine intervention. By running into fragments, hints, allegations and clues, they should find enough to decide to seek out the hidden secrets and run the quest.]

[From a GM's standpoint, preparing also means determining who can participate, who will be the leader, how the quest will be entered, etc. More details on preparing for the quest are always determined after the quest details are put together.]

Cold and darkness worshippers may participate.

Second, enter the quest.

[Note, this quest dips in and out of the mythic realms. Much of it is conducted on the plains of Prax rather than the heroplane.]

A. Gain a vision of the great horse.

[This begins the quest.]

1. Complete the Hill of Gold competition for Nora. It was following this series of events that Nora saw the great horse. Anyone who competes for Nora and succeeds, should be able to finish that quest with a vision of this one rather than a return to the mundane world.

2. [alternative method] Be exposed to Yelmalio or Yelm's power (Nora was exposed to the power of the dying sun and that gave her the vision of the white horse).

The favored means of seeing Yelmic power, sneak into the Sun Dome Yelmalio Temple for a religious service.

B. Pursue the horse.

This means head off across Prax toward The White Princess' fane. The lead character follows the vision's tracks across the plain.

C. Gain allies.

The party joins up. [The "followers" should all be waiting for the lead questor -- generally at a pre-determined point where the tracks of the great horse are known to cross Prax and close to where the character expects to catch the vision.] Each of the companions should take the place of one of the snow deities that attends Nora. [It is not necessary for all the deities to have a character and a character may take more than one. However, a character that doubles up will have to remain true to both godlings.]

The names of those deities and their special powers/spells are:

1. Eric Flinteye (Iceglare {blinding} spell)

Eric's power is to cause blindness. He has a spirit magic spell with that effect.

2. 'Jorache Longbeard (Hoarfrost//brings water)

'Jorache's power is to bring water as frost. He has a spirit magic spell that brings water. He has nine similar brothers. They are the heart of the water portion of the court.

3. Teraele Smallfoot (Slipice {slipping} spell)

Teraele's power is to cause people to slip and fall. She has a spirit magic spell.

4. Tama Longhair (Snowflurry {confusion} spell)

Tama's power is to cause confusion and misdirection. She has a spirit magic spell.

5. Cinyia Lightsoul (Softwind {quiet/calm} spell)

Cinyia's power is to quiet and calm. She has a spirit magic spell.

6. Jerric Hardfist (Icedagger spell) Jerric's power is the Icedagger. With a one point divine intervention, Jerric can make a rune metal equivalent dagger from nonmelting ice.

7. Serris Manyhued (Rainbow {darkfear} spell)

Serris' power is to induce fear in darkness related creatures (such as trolls). It/he/she has a fear spell good only against dark.

8. Ellessa Glistenskin (Frostfire spell)

Ellessa has the power to burn with frost. It /he/she has a spirit magic spell.

Each of the companions will be approached in spirit combat by a spirit from the appropriate godling(s). The spirit has 2d6 INT, 2d6 POW and 1d3 points of the appropriate spirit magic spell. If the companion has properly prepared for the quest and wins the spirit combat (and a CHA v. INT conflict following any one successful round of spirit combat) the spirit will become the character's allied spirit for the duration of the quest.

An allied spirit functions as does a familiar. No character may be attended by more than one spirit from a godling (even if the character is taking the place of more than one companion, he or she must choose whose spirit to accept.)

Note that in Prax the godlings are each worshiped by between forty to three hundred Praxian worshipers. The godlings have more followers when Nora is invoked during the wars on the plains of Prax and more followers in Nora's mountains.

D. The stations of conflict of the quest.

[In quests, the usual pattern is a vision, allies, and then conflicts. This quest follows that pattern. The vision is the awakening to the magical world. The allies are those who help and lead one to magic. The conflicts are the barriers that separate the sacred and magical from the profane.]

1. Broos;

These are a typical chaos barrier and a good substitute for the devil. The party should meet

3d6 boos led by a broos shaman.

[Note that this quest has a large number of conflicts rather than just three. There is no need for each conflict to be a full scale brawling battle involving large numbers of enemies. Generally, generate typical enemies as found on the plains of Prax. Most will be fought in the mundane world.]

The broos will be typical broos wandering Prax. The battle will be partially in the mundane world and partially on the heroplane.

2. Bone Morokanth;

These creatures are left over from the godtime. They are made of the bones of men. They have six points of armor (bone) at each location, some magic protection (4 to 7 points) and two hit points at each location. Bone Morokanth resulted from an attempt to make the bones of man as herdbeast into Morokanth.

Their leader will be a runelord morokanth and the 3d6 followers will be only 30% in their skills. (!! however, note that these Bone Morokanth will have 10 to 13 points of protection from melee weapons. They are pretty tough on defense, though slow on offense. If they win, they'll take combat skills as prizes, becoming strong on offense and defense.)

[This encounter can be run on the heroplane if you have a Morokanth questing for thumbs or some such. It can also be run on the mortal plane. The Bones have unlimited morale and no will.

The runelord will flee rather than die. Treat the runelord as an available Morokanth caught up in the mythic force of events. He stands to gain a great deal from a win, but does not need to win and really does not need the disaster that a true loss portends.]

[Note that it is easy to be caught up in part of a pattern that puts an individual or a party into a Heroquest fragment. Generally, one can run away from such encounters -- if one recognizes them in time. For a Morokanth the Bone Morokanth are easy to recognize as a sign, but which sign? // Remember the Cults of Prax encounters with Ruric on his Lightbringers quest. Ruric was always hoping for encounters with meaning, often not sure if he had found them.]

3. Sungriffins;

2d3 griffins made of light attack the party. The griffins get a 2SR bonus the first round [due to the mythic surprise they got against Nora]. Again, these are leftovers from the godtime. Most modern griffins no longer have the power of light firmly attached. They lost much when Yelm gave way to the compromize after having been slain and then rescued from hell by the forces of Air.

The griffins are made of light (divide Mass/Siz by two, hit points by two) and need rune metal or magic enhanced (e.g. Bladesharp 1) weapons to hit.

[Sungriffins are a rare magical creature. These descend from myth to the mundane world on the beams of the sunset and remain until slain or the sun completes setting -- about 15 to 30 minutes. This can be a short encounter and can be cut shorter by vagrent clouds or other things that may cut off the light of the setting sun.]

4. Lunars;

3d6 Lunar antelope (with no humans) attack the party. Each antelope will have a chaos taint and +d3 to INT.

[Not a truly sentient encounter. Think of these like the buck that just killed a 72 year-old Texas man who was walking home. Crazed Stephen King sort of things.

If the antelope win they keep their INT and it becomes free INT. Such intrusions strengthen the antelope tribe and Lunar presences in Prax. They also cause the natives to associate Lunar influence with old, evil hated chaos.]

5. Scorpion Men;

3d6 scorpion men and one human (d2 chaos gifts) shaman attack the party as they reach the foot of the glacier.

[These should be a real band. They are on a scorpion quest "Theft of Fire." Most of these quests fail as the first step is to face six to nine serious heroquestors on the stairs to the gate of dawn, but to a minimaxing creature crazed with chaos and delirious with the lust for power no risk is fully appreciated.]

<Hmm, that description comes close to describing almost any Stormbull player character.>

[The scorpion men and their shaman will have been wandering the heroplane until the characters arrive. They are stuck until they can encounter the characters. Any result allows them to return to the mundane world or to continue on to the next station of the Theft of Fire.

Give them strong morale, but a willingness to run when defeat becomes certain -- if it becomes certain. Nora won this conflict easily, but did not slay all of her enemies. Thus chaos still haunts the foothills of her mountains.]

D. The final tests.

1. For the companions -- each companion falls aside at the fane of the godling they represent. If the companion was a poor companion, they lose the spirit and 1d3 points of power.

If they did nothing good or bad, having been neither proper heros nor knaves, then the spirit leaves them as it found them.

[Note that under my new system, this is a chance to trade 1d3 points of power for a point of will as a bad companion. One accepts a loss or disability in return for freedom to do better in the future {the increased will}]

If companion did well, then the spirit remains as a permanent ally. It gains 6 points to INT and 6 points to POW. It has 6 points of spirit magic. This is a way for a character to begin to build his or her own court of allied spirits.

2. For the questor -- the drepnir or Nora's horse. The horse is an eight legged warhorse with the following stats:

SIZ x 2

INT 2d4+4 (this is free int)

All others (including POW, hit points & armor) + 11

+20% defense, blinding white in color.

regenerate one hit point per location per melee round

Windwalk at will.

The mastery (gaining the horse as an ally) occurs in spirit combat. Each time the character wins in spirit combat, he or she may make a CHA x 5% roll to ally the horse. Each time the horse wins, reduce magic points by d2. When either the horse is allied or the questor's magic points = 0, the duel for mastery is over.

If the questor loses, then he or she may never ride a horse again. An allied drepnir is treated as a familiar, with all the related benefits and side effects.

E. Quest ends.

The characters descend the glacier and find themselves at either (a) Nora's temple or (b) the plains of Prax in the foothills of Nora's mountains (at a semi-random location). Proper preparation allows the characters to choose where they end up when they descend.

V. THE RESULTS [if successful]

The lead questor obtains the horse, the companions each obtain an allied spirit/supplemental familiar.



---now, to update it to my new system.



These are the steps that you need to take to adopt a classic format quest, such as the one above, to my rules.


First, define the appropriate trait packages for The White Princess and each of the deities/immortals that grace her court.

Second, reread the Prax boardgame and do a minicult for The White Princess.

[This is necessary to make sure that you have the right trait and rune packages for the quest.]

White Princess has two runes. One is obviously life/fertility. The other is dark {cold only}.

Have the godlings with half runes each. (Yelmalio has a half rune -- Fire with only light/no heat). E.g. Dark with only cold, Water with only moisture, etc. Together, the team can provide the powers that The White Princess shows in the game runes.

[A court is less than a pantheon and does not allow for the summing of power that a pantheon offers or for the free trade of powers and skills between members. On the other hand, the members do work in concert and pay no price in will for belonging to a court.]

Third, clean up the myths and the monsters. Make some notes about items/creatures not clearly in the Prax mythos. Look to see how to integrate the elements.

E.g. As to drepnirs, they are a remnant of the primal horse that was lost to mankind (primal horse lost his tusks, wings, extra legs, horns, etc. and man no longer has horses like that). Even so, unicorns, drepnir, pegusi, fanged horses and the like should still remain in some remnants here and there.

Fourth, to bring the quest truly into alignment (having done the background work), add possible trait contests. This particular quest does not have much in it except for combat.

To successfully add trait contests, you need to give the quest greater depth, making it more than just a combat run.

The easiest way is to add some semi-mundane encounters with tradesmen, beggars, tribal thieves, elementals and lone immortals dwelling lost in the plains. The characters could have tests of compassion, trading skill, honesty, greed and similar traits. (more below)

This fleshes the quest out past the hack and slash stage.


[A pun. Prax and praxis <praxis is the "principle in practice" or how it is done.]

First, put the trait encounters above together in the same format as the combat encounters.

Suggested encounters would be 3d2 animal nomad thieves starving in the desert plains (compassion/charity). 2d2 traders (with 3d6 guards, 3d6 caravan members) lost in the plains (honesty/friendliness). A lone, scared immortal dwelling in a desolate tower (greed/lust). Two darkness elementals trapped in a myth bubble (courage). A crippled fire elemental unable to return to the sky (i.e. a beggar). Normal beggars left behind by their companions (justice?/charity).

Each encounter should have a minor benefit available if the characters finish it with a trait/etc. victory for any companion or the lead character (with differing benefits and penalties depending on who and how they win).

[These benefits should be minor <i.e. no will costs>, including benefits such as learning a new spell, starting a skill with a begining benefit at 5% or +1d6% in the skill, a weak power crystal, a chance to sacrifice POW for a rune magic spell <such as summon elemental> sorts of things. Beneficial, good rewards, but not mythic. In D&D terms, minor magic items, learned spells, but not artifacts or levels.]

Each companion to The White Princess should have a different set of traits. Each should have a cameo encounter that focuses on those traits and skills. At times Nora and the godlings traits should conflict. Thus no one will be able to fulfill all their conditions all of the time.

The allied spirits gained from the godlings should, if the questor fulfilled his or her encounter, be able to cast the godling's spell at any number of magic points without allocation of any free INT. [or 1d3 free castings for the rune magic].

(To succeed, players and characters need to learn to co-operate and sacrifice. If they do so, then each character will win a "fair" amount of the time, if they do not, some characters will fail their final interviews. Disunion will probably cost the party other successes, etc.)

[Again note that a loss can mean a chance to gain will. This quest should not be seen as a common route to easy losses for a gain of a point of will. If a player tries that in a cynical fashion you can have the cult spirit of retribution Ruach Shaddai visit the character, run the combat encounters at one power level higher, increase the penalty for failure to 1d20 points of POW, and that sort of thing. A character failed by a godling cannot try to gain that godling's favor again without a sacrifice of will and POW.]

I would advise putting this together with the specific characters and players of your campaign in mind so that you can tailor your adaptation of the myth to the best use for the campaign.

Finally, create some NPCs for use as quest members if you do not have all the appropriate PCs necessary.


By using full rules for heroquesting, GMs and players can be brought to better appreciate roleplaying and the deeper elements of stories and encounters. Pendragon virtually forces a GM to take heroquesting to a higher, more thoughtful, level more consistent with myths and legends.


I realize that this is not as playable or as directly usable as even photocopies of my The Wild Hunt zines laying out heroquest outlines.

However, I hope the insight from the discussion and notes will be of more use than just one more heroquest, godtime hack and slash adventure.

Sincerely yours,

Steve Marsh

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