HEROQUEST Copyright 1992 by Stephen R. Marsh Preface, Legalese, Etc. The following is my outline for the 1993 Draft rules for Heroquest. It puts everything together that I've put together in the past. Permission to copy for personal non-profit use is extended to June 15, 1993 under the same terms and conditions as the 1992 Draft rules and as long as the proper copyright notice is incorporated in the copy. BASIC OUTLINE WITH NOTES I. What is a Heroquest? A.Introduction B. The Basic Concepts <This section was printed in a condensed form in issue #7 of Tales of the Reaching Moon> 1. The Tale 2. The Parts 3. The likable (or admirable) hero 4. The difficulty (problem or goal) 5. The beginning of the quest A. The Call to Adventure B. Preparation of the Hero 6. The journey/travel 7. The initial confrontations A. The three conflicts/tests/trials B. Forms of conflict riddles, scavenger hunts, gambles, trades, fights, etc. 8. The major confrontation 9. Aftermath 10. The Return Home/Story's End 11. Resolution 12. Happily Ever After . . . I find that there are two very good sources for sample heroquests. The first is rituals and the second is myths. Every ritual is a heroquest. The feast of the spear, cel- ebrated by certain sylphs, recreates the story of Orlanth's spear. While the mundane ritual is simple, it reprises elements of the quest. Every ritual can thus be extrapolated out to form a quest with similar stages and elements. Myths are interrelated and woven into all rituals. The reverse is also true, every myth contains the seeds or patterns for a ritual. I assume, for play purposes, that every story that has made it into the fabric of myth has created its own echo on the hero plane. I then create a heroquest from the elements of the story or myth. First, the Tale The first step in creating a heroquest is to choose the story or tale that reflects the myth. There should be a simple form that is the common story. There should then be an intricate variation that is the version known by the illuminati or those with the gnosis. (In varying degrees of completeness, this version will be known from everyone from lay members to inner circle runemasters). Finally, there is the flip side of the story known to enemies. (Imagine the story of Jack the Giant Killer as told by a Giant). Second, the Organization All quests are organized into generic parts. The likable (or admirable) hero. <Why and who is being followed by taking this quest.> This tells us who the quest is for. In defining the hero we decide who can participate, who the quest is open to, and what the quest is. The difficulty (or problem or goal). <Why the quest was under- taken in the first place and why anyone should undertake the quest now.> This defines what the quest can accomplish. It also defines the danger level of the quest the results of failure or success and the loss that can be expected regardless of outcome. The beginning of the quest. <Where and how in the mundane world the quest is begun and where and how the quest fits into the mythic world.> This is found from how the story begins and it defines the preparations necessary for the quester, the mundane activities associated with the quest, and how the characters will enter the mythic levels and begin to interact with the heroplane. The journey/travel. <The beginning of the quest and acclimation to the mythic realm.> All quests have an element of travel in them. This part of the quest also defines where the quest takes place, both physically and in mythic terms. (e.g. this quest takes place in Prax, the character spends most of her time in the normal world with some interaction with the creatures of the hero plane). The initial confrontations. <Including the threshold guardians, if any, and the tests that prove the hero worthy to undertake the quest.> These conflicts set up the major conflict and give color to the quest. They may be riddles, scavenger hunt items, combats or sight seeing tours. The major confrontation. <This is the defining moment for the hero and is shaped by the rune affiliated with the quest.> This is the major fight, gamble, trade, or other encounter. It is often broken up into three segments. Aftermath <Often the proving of the virtue of the hero now that his or her power has been proven.> This includes subsequent and misc. encounters. This also may include fleeing with the reward. The story's end/the return home <Often linked to choices made in the aftermath when the hero's guard has been let down.> This gets the hero home. Often different ways of returning have different results. A hero may go home late, early, in the wrong shape or as a new person if they leave the quest in an alternate fashion. This also ties up loose ends in the mythic realms. "Happily ever after . . ." <The side-effects of the quest.> This is what trailing effects the quest can have. It may be simple, as in extra respect in the cult and the hate of all trolls. It may be delayed, as were many of the god-learner meddlings. Misc. problems <The mundane world's current shape and it's effect on the quest.> All quests have external influences distorting the pure form. It may be as simple as political consid- erations (Orlanth quests inside of the Lunar Empire are directly interfered with for political reasons) general decay (a quest that used to take place in a city can be altered if the city falls into decay) and as complex as major mythic tangling (as occurred with quests touched by the god learners). Branches and related quests <Important for quests gone astray, etc. Also illustrates the structure of myth.> Most quests have the chance to branch into other quests or have related quests. A fight against the devil can become a fight against the lunar goddess. Lightbringers can become a resurrection scenario. The creation can become the birth of Gjabi. Third, the rules Different kinds of rules require special attention. For example, if you are using the Pendragon modifications that I use and prefer these days, you need to go through and note every time a trait contest can be worked into the plot. The special factors of the rules you are using need to be considered in the design of your quest at an early stage. Fourth, the fine tuning Once I have a story and I've broken it into its parts, I then decide on what power level to reflect in the encounters, the preparation and characters. It also affects the rewards that are proper. For example, some quests merely allow access to a specific spirit magic spell or an allied spirit. These quests, while rich in mythic images and scenery, should have relatively mild en- counters and problems. They also have relatively mild rewards. On the other hand, there are a number of quests for bringing a person back from the dead in a form more powerful than the person was before death. These quests are dangerous. Danger and reward levels are easily tuned up in working out the minor encounters. When these are finished, the major en- counters should be detailed and then the minor (or preliminary) encounters should be retuned and the exits worked out again. MY FAVORITE EXAMPLE My favorite example of these elements is what happens prior to the main event in the Yelmalio Hill of Gold quest. In that arrangement, four sets of questers participate. Zorak Zoran, Yelmalio, Orlanth and Inora. Each set prepares in its own mundane fashion and goes to a specific physical location. There are numerous nuisance encount- ers and preliminary problems in making the preparations and in the travel. Political considerations can often stop a team from participating. Next, each set has three major encounters -- of semi-mu- ndanes (the other quest teams), but on the heroplane. Zorak Zoran trades with Inora, defeats Yelmalio and is bested by Or- lanth. Etc. Then, each set can return to the mundane or they can go on to other quests. E.g. Orlanthi can go onto the lightbringer's quest (at its second level). Zorak Zoran can go on to fight chaos. Inora/White Princess can begin the drepnir quest without sneaking through a Yelmalio shrine. Yelmalio can go on to the Hill of Gold. Again, the hill of gold is pretty simple. There are the preliminaries (above) that can be handled on the heroplane or by encounters on the mundane level and then entry into the hero- plane. I allow the preparation to greatly alter encounters and other things -- as it should. Proper preparation keeps the hero on the correct path at the correct "depth" or level of power in the mythic world. After the preliminaries there are three major encounters on the hill. Then a suitable reward (the d8 roll is modified by the success of the quest). The characters then return to the mundane world and journey home. C. Basic Heroquest Types 1. Mundane A. Simple rituals/Worship B. Substitutions 2. Simple Initiation Starting on the heropath 3. Heroic <This includes both basic and intermediate type quests as well as some advanced quests.> A. Gaining the true ally B. Gaining the left handed power C. The Mastery, Luck or Fate Rune D. Following the path of the god. 4. Superheroic A. The Infinity Rune B. The trip back from hell D. Basic Heroquest Forms 1. The Trip to Hell A. As judgment/Land of the Dead B. As entropic sink C. As the realm of enemy gods 2. Following the Path of a Hero/God 3. Seeking an Audience with the Powers A. Meeting the Hero B. Meeting the God C. Contact with a Rune/Ideal 4. Passing the Portals II. Where do Heroquests take place? <Actually, all heroquests take place in one of three loca- tions: mundane, transmundane/mythic and sacred. In the mundane it isn't a heroquest [yet] but can shape and prepare for the quest. In the transmundane/mythic everything that happens is a part of the heroquest. In the sacred, the bridge between the two realms occurs. Think of the following section as more a descrip- tion of terrain types -- like forests, lakes, etc. -- and not of mythic types.> <Note: this section makes use of my various Shattered Norns and Shadows areas and rules.> A. Chaos Realms 1. True Chaos <rather dangerous and unlikely for a quest. However, a good discussion of what true interplaner chaos is and its hostility to geometric space belongs here. GMS need this discussion to understand just what R-, Thed and Malia did and how that affects the entire Gloranthan world view.> 2. Chaos within the walls of the world <a "com-mon" encounter -- basically defining what chaos normal is and what happens when a hero encounters it. Should explain the what and why of chaos gifts, chaos infected races and the discomfort and hate that chaos creatures feel when embodied inside of Glorantha or other geometric spaces.> 3. Chaos Entities <describing and detailing entities for each level is important. Just what happens when the characters encounter chaos entities, the difference between the various types, illumination, etc.> B. Shadow/Pre-Physical <Shadow in my RQish settings is different from Shadow in my D&D compatible Planes of Reality settings. Shadow is a realm of pre-existence between chaos and reality. Well explained in the Shattered Norns material. Basically Shadow provides the forces equivalent to fate and provides a pre-existence for those about to be born.> 1. Shadow Entities <Not very significant in impact for any normal character or heroquest. Just basic structural infor- mation.> 2. Shadow Forces <i.e. magic.> C. Physical or mundane world 1. Ritual or dedicated locations <e.g. temples & such. These are sacred places. Temple quests always take place here as do most worship ceremonies.> 2. Magic locations <those areas on the edge of the physi- cal world that are still close to the world.> 3. Other "touched" areas <i.e. other areas where the mythic can reach into the "normal" world. Generally this means magic locations, but it provides a different way to identify, describe and define same.> D. Gray Zone 1. Regular, organized zones <or routes. Psychopomps are the most obvious travelers of organized zones or routes as are elven or faerie kingdoms in Arthurian lore.> 2. Accidental encounters <Referring back to the encount- er charts in RQIII/RQIV.> 3. Off the beaten path <Or what happens if you get lost or start wandering once you leave mundane reality.> E. Dream Realms <Again, an area well developed in Shadows, CALL OF CTHULHU and Shattered Norns.> 1. Structure <Dreams have their own structure.> 2. Quests vs natural dreams <To paraphrase Freud "sometimes a dream is only a dream." However, many famous quests in Western tradition have taken place in dreams. The rules should cover this.> 3. Dream Entities <In my campaign this also includes some elves. Amazingly, in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series it includes wolves. What- and whoever is on or in the dream realm should be discussed here.> F. Hero Plane <Ok, after lots and lots of descriptive text, this is where most quests take place. All of the foregoing text should give structure and explanation to this portion.> 1. As an echo/middle ground 2. As a lesser area of myth <The "hero plane" has two separate definitions. I think that both can be handled within the rules. In the one, it is the echo, reflection or shadow of the myths, where variations and substrata play themselves out. In the other, it is the lesser area of myth. I can't see why it can't be both.> 3. Hero Entities. <There have to be some unique or most often encountered on the Hero Plane.> G. Incarnate Myth/God Time <This is where the characters go when they go to meet the gods -- as in the quests for the berserker frenzy, etc. often illustrated by Sandy Petersen. It is also where the gods are and where reality has its foundation.> 1. "True Reality" <This is it. Changes here effect the mundane world. [the use of the word "effect" is intentional in this setting.]> 2. Notes <This is where all the comments on reality, gods, heroes, etc. that have not otherwise made it into the rules can be fitted. A catch-all space for important terrain comments, notes on gods, etc.> 3. Gods/Runes. <Here is the place for complete genealo- gies, rune identities, etc. Also other Incarnate Myth Entities should be discussed here, including Time, Great Dragons, etc.> III. Nuts and Bolts to run Heroquests A. Basic Mechanics (Dice Rolling) 1. As d% (for straight RQ character sheets) 2. As dy/d6 (making the rules accessible to non-RQ game systems) <My variable certainty rules which both allows the measuring of successes and difficulties and allows more certainty when things are more stable or controlled.> B. Basic Mechanics (Not dice oriented) 1. Card games (using cards to tell stories -- much like romance and tarot cards can be used). 2. Tile games (using tiles and boards, such as the old Chaosium Dungeon tiles, to lay out quests). 3. Board games (the old boardgame trilogy rules for making heroes). 4. Computer games/flow charts (everything from the old Tunnels & Trolls solo/choose your own adventure format to the same thing in a sophisticated computer form). <The idea here is to illustrate how varied mechanics can be and to give some perspective on what is really happening. Most GMs, without nuts & bolts, really have trouble putting quests together.> C. Additional Mechanics <d6/d%> 1. For combat 2. For other (Note Appendix A -- Errata for RQIII) (Note Appendix B -- Expanded Rules for RQIII) D. Basic Additions <This is where the rules actually begin to add something new.> 1. Traits Trait List/Explanations Trait Packages for Gods, Runes <Basically adding David Dunham's Pendragon Pass to Runequest -- important because of the flavor and direction it gives to Heroquesting. Using traits causes roleplaying to converge with minimaxing.> 2. Glory (Presence) <One of two currencies or experience point equivalents for heroquesting. Sometimes thought of as PATH WILL> 3. Will <also FREE in earlier drafts. The ability to make new choices or decisions -- FREE WILL as contrasted with PATH WILL -- strength to apply or succeed doing something done before.> E. Revised Character Sheet w' explanations <The revised heroquesting character sheet capsulizes many important rules in a nuts and bolts fashion.> F. Notes on Runes <This is very much an important part of the mechanics. Up to now all of the rules have only explained the background and setting for what goes on with the Runes.> 1. The Runes 2. Rune Factors and how to use them. <Lots of notes, some more mechanics for quantifying and limiting what goes on -- if the same is desired. Basically, a way to set proper risk and reward ratios and to control the speed and direction of character progress.> G. Special Notes on Runes <Infinity, Mastery, Luck, Fate, and more notes that need to be in the rules but did not fit anywhere else.> IV. Sample Heroquests <!!!!> A. Simple -- The Seven Stairs and Sacred Time. -- Where heroquesting really starts and the most common quest encountered. <The first simple quest is a basic, hillside/countryside quest. This, or any of the recent quests in Tales of the Reach- ing Moon, fully fleshed out, would do. The Old Hare's Riddle is a great one to place here. The second simple quest is a sacred time ritual or a very simple temple quest. Two kinds of simple quests need to be here. The simple yearly rituals and basic simple quests -- first steps on to the heropath.> B. Basic -- Drepnir Quest and Hill of Gold. -- What most gamers think of when they think heroquests. <It is time to flesh both of these out the rest of the way with enough notes, examples, full encounters, character sheets and charts so that anyone can run this the same way that an experienced heroquest GM would run it. These basic nuts and bolts sort of quests are well understood, often run, and have a complete line of impact and decisions. This is as far as many characters will ever get or many GMs will need to run.> C. Intermediate -- Lightbringers and Berserkergang -- What most Gloranthan adventurers think of when they consider questing. Crosses the gap from just "super-Runequest" to true heroquesting. <The Lightbringers is the first heroquest and the classic Orlanthi quest. This is the sort of quest all "real" hero- questers should go on. Powerful, major myths, enacted and fol- lowed. Lightbringers is the great pattern quest for Orlanth, Sartar and much of the world of Glorantha. It illustrates every major motif and purpose of heroquesting. The Berserkergang is Sandy Petersen's favorite quest and another classic.> Advanced -- Pharaoh and Seven Mothers. -- Quests that make heros and superheros. <Pharaoh is one of the great pattern quests. Invaluable for gamemasters to look at and think on. And Seven Mothers may be considered a major quest for the Lunar Empire ?. Two quests showing gods and true heroes in the making. Finishing off the quests with this one leaves very little unillustrated or in need of explanation.> V. Afterword/Notes Appendix A -- Errata for RQIII <This includes both the Chaosium Errata and my own notes and comments. It is on the Shattered Norns disks and is useful for anyone. You can order the Chaosium Errata photocopy sheets by sending a SASE to the Chaosium. Basically, the Errata transforms RQIII to RQIV.> Volume I Players' Book Volume II Magic Book Volume III Gamemaster's Book Volume IV Creature Book <Including my Shattered Norns creatures.> Appendix B -- Expanded Rules for RQIII <My Shattered Norns house rules supplementing major RQIII rules with an eye towards important concerns I had with the rules, heroquesting, etc.> Rules1 Player Character Creation--Basic System Rules2 Sample Character Archetypes <A useful addition to most campaigns. Basically, archetypes that can be put into play immediately without having to roll dice, spend lots of time.> Adventurer Hunter/fighter Proto-Berserker Sneak Thief Sorceress Rules3 Extended Career Paths <Expanding the career paths to cover Shattered Norns and Mist World.> Matrix Manipulators Others Priest Rune Master (Magic use, not cult status) Rune Priest Shaman Apprentice Soldier: Light Foot Soldier: Skirmisher Soldier: Heavy Foot Sorcerer Trade Family Member Wizardling Rules4 Wizardry <Spirit shirts, elemental languages, and all. Wizardry provides an excellent example of how runic identities, myths, etc. can be wrapped up into entire systems.> Air Dark Earth Fire Water <I'm currently planning to leave out the twisted wizardry of the Magnethi as it is useful only for some sort of chaos wizardry that I have not seen reflected in Glorantha.> Rules5 Specialized Combat Rules Rules6 Harpists <Magic from songs. Elovare Harper gets his own cult and magic school.> Rules7 Chaos Shaping <Similar, but going in the opposite direction, to Storm- bringer demons. Could be used to handle superpowers in a fantasy world. Quantifies chaos.> Rules8 Spiritual Essences <Reflection will show various types of magic tied to each of the areas. That is intentional. Covers the opposite end from chaos and is useful for reflecting on attributes and forms that wielders of spiritual essences/platonic ideals might use [e.g. what gods, heroes, etc. are doing and with what]. See also Rules11 below. Among other things, the runes are also spiritual essences and platonic ideals.> Rules9 Dreams, Shapeshifting and Illusions <Filling out holes or weak areas in the rules.> Rules10 Shadows, Spells, Matrix Magic <Following in David Dunham's footsteps and expanding magic, centralizing spells, and updating all of the spells available into one set of lists, etc. See below on rune or divine magic spells.> Rules11 Spirit and Psionics <Finishing off the sequence and the rules.> General Thoughts <Limiting and controlling magic and its access and effect. Other thoughts.> Appendix C Useful Props Typical Encounters/Contests for Trait Contests <This section contains outlines and examples for how to set up an encounter that provides a trait contest for each of the trait pairs. A couple-three examples and outlines for each pair. All heroquests should include a few and few GMs have much experi- ence with setting up trait contests, so the rules ought to offer some help here.> Chaste......./.....Lustful Energetic..../.....Lazy Forgiving..../.....Vengeful Generous...../.....Selfish Honest......./.....Deceitful Just........./.....Arbitrary Merciful...../.....Cruel Modest......./.....Proud Pious......../.....Worldly Temperate..../.....Indulgent Trusting...../.....Suspicious Valorous...../.....Cowardly Typical Encounters/Conflicts for each Rune <The runes are to actions as the traits are to motivations. It isn't enough for most GMs to define the runes and let it go. The rules should provide outlines and examples for each rune in action. In addition, this is the place to tie skills, spells, etc. to each rune and more fully define what the runes mean and how they affect choices, conflicts and resolutions.> Rune Opposing Rune Air Dark Anarchy/Chaos* Law* Beast Plant Change/Movement* Stasis* Dark Fire Death Life/Fertility* Disorder* Harmony* Earth Air Entropy/Chaos* Infinity* Fate Mastery Fire Water Harmony* Disorder* Illusion* Truth* Infinity* Entropy/Chaos* Law* Anarchy/Chaos* Left/Dragonewt* Magic* Life/Fertility* Death* Luck Fate Magic* Left* Man Beast Mastery Luck Plant Man Shadow* Spirit* Spirit* Shadow* Stasis* Change/Movement* Truth* Illusion* Water Earth (* means rune is part of an opposing pair, e.g. Illusion/Truth) <A good place also to organize lists of all of the rune magic currently accepted and where each spell fits in relation to the runes.> Typical Motifs/Elements <These are the nuts & bolts of the encounters characters will have on the heroplane. A good list is invaluable. In addition, these are the hingepoints or cross-overs of myths and the web of myth.> Altars Best Friends/True Allies Chance Met Friends Combat Guardians Home Psychopomps The Chase The Hunt Threat/Person in Need Thresholds Appendix D Character Sheets, Charts, Etc. <This includes character sheets for nations and ethnic groups, mythic creatures, etc. Charts for time flows, myth flows, etc. Maps. Everything that can be reduced to a chart or a table.> YOUR NOTES HERE AFTERWORD A good look at the various materials and games I've run over the past several years, since 1969 or so, will reflect that most of the parts of this outline have already been written and have already been out in distribution. This outline gave me a place to put it all together (in a way that I hope is [far] less con- fusing than the last attempt I made). I'm not sure where I plan to go from this outline. I'm beginning to think that this outline (and prior essays together with Tales From The Reaching Moon) is enough and that anyone who really needs to run a heroquest should go on from here (finishing their own rules as a part of the GMs Quest ...). Let me know what you think.