Copyright 1991 by Stephen R. Marsh


                               HEROQUEST Chapter I




             I have been producing role playing games and variants  since 

        1969.  Material of mine appeared in TSR's Blackmoor.  Since then,  

        I  have been noted in the credits of a couple dozen products  and 

        several companies.  I have always been interested in the  concept 

        of heroism and my only published game, Saga (TSR 1980) deals with 

        concepts of Will, Fame and Heroic Immortality.


             This essay embodies a set of rules that is my own  invention 

        and  my own adaptation of existing products and my own  rules  to 

        the  concept  of heroquesting.  It is designed to  be  compatable 

        with  the  Chaosium's  unified  role-playing  system  (Runequest, 

        Stormbringer,  Call  of Cthulu, Superworld, Elfquest,  etc.)  and 

        with my Shattered Norns cycle.


             These rules are not official.  I have no legal  relationship 

        with  the Chaosium or any of its staff.  While this set of  rules 

        is based on numerous heroquest gaming sessions and write-ups over 

        a  period of years, none of the Heroquests were run or  commented 

        on by Chaosium Staff members or their affiliates and no  Chaosium 

        personnel attended or participated in the Heroquests I ran  (some 

        of which used TSR's 1975 version of D&D [prior to TSR's Immortals 

        set]  rules  and many which relied upon my own systems  or  rules 



             While  I  quit running Heroquests in fanzines (such  as  The 

        Wild  Hunt)  years  ago at Greg Stafford's  request,  I  recently 

        decided  that  if Steve Maurer could publish his rules,  I  would 



             These rules:


             (a)  are ones you can use now with RQIII;

             (b)  address  issues  in  heroquesting  that  are  important 

        issues to me;

             (c)  are  designed to be merged with my own skill  and  game 

        system as well as the Chaosium's systems; and

             (d)  they  are:  Copyright 1990, 1991 Stephen R. Marsh;  all 

        rights reserved.


             Permission  to  copy for personal non-profit use  is  hereby 

        granted until June 16, 1992 as long as this copyright notice  and 

        limit are properly incorporated in the text.




             Heroquests  are one of many rituals whereby mortals  partake 

        of immortal natures.  A Catholic Mass, the pledge of  allegiance, 

        all  of  these are similar in part to the basic patterns  of  the 

        heroquest.   All  of these are part of the great  structure  that 

        pulls the world together.


             Heroquests are supra or transmundane.  They occur whenever a 

        mortal  reaches out past the finite and rational world and  takes 

        part in the infinite and suprarational world.


             In  a RQIII type campaign reaching out to  the  transmundane 

        occurs through the formalized pattern of Heroquesting.  Especial-

        ly in Greg Stafford's Glorantha, a relatively energetic and young 

        world  (recorded history in Glorantha is less than  10,000  years 

        old),  the  heroquest is the supreme focus  of  supernatural  en-



        Physical Locale


             Heroquests can take place on any of four levels of  reality.  

        The four levels are:


             (a)  the  Physical or mundane (the "real" world),  including 

        RQIII's areas covered under the Magical Terrain Encounter Table;


             (b)  the  Gray  Zone (the threshold of  the  mythic  world), 

        often thought of as the spirit world.  In RQIII this is the  area 

        covered  by the Spirit Plane, including the Frontier Region,  the 

        Outer Region and the Inner Region encounter tables;


             (c)  the  Hero  Plane (the shadow/echo of  the  God  Plane).  

        This area is not covered in RQIII's basic rules set;


             (d)  the God Time (the real incarnate myths).  The area also 

        has no RQIII encounter tables.


             Each of these levels has its advantages and disadvantages in 

        terms  of  the heroquest.  The Mundane level is  easily  reached, 

        mythic elements are strictly limited, and the bridge from god  to 

        mortal  is direct.  On the Mundane level the timeless reaches  to 

        time,  the immortal to mortal, the infinite to the finite.   This 

        set  of dichotomies is a potent combination and the easiest  area 

        for the gods to directly contact their worshipers for  participa-

        tion.  Time directly controls the physical world.


             Partially leaving time, one comes to the Gray Zone, an  area 

        where  it is easy to become lost and where the guiding  force  is 

        spirit rather than matter.


             The  Gray Zone is the interface between the  material  world 

        and the spirit and mystical realms.  The newly slain dwell  here, 

        the terrain is bleak and shifting, and the level is distant  from 

        the  gods.  It has two advantages.  First, it is a  mythic  level 

        (albeit the least orgainized).  Second, it is the weakest  mythic 

        level.  The Gray Zone is the safest (in terms of physical danger) 

        of the realms of myth.


             Next  is the Hero Plane.  The Hero Plane is the shadow  cast 

        by the incarnate myths into the realms of spirit.  The myths  and 

        the world create the cosmos, casting the heroplane as a shadow of 

        that creation and existence.  


             By following mythic paths (outside of the mundane world  and 

        the shifting Gray zone, time is a matter of location, not causal-

        ity), one may participate and be changed by the great mythic acts 

        by walking in their shadows.


             Creating  the  shadows or echos of the Hero Plane,  the  God 

        Time  is  the  real thing.  Any change on the  God  Time  changes 

        reality,  and  effecting any such change is as hard  as  changing 

        mundane  reality.  Such changes are just as real.  When the  rune 

        of the Lesser Kraken was unmade and was destroyed, that  destruc-

        tion changed history, time and the material world (to the  extent 

        that its name was lost, its worshipers became worshipers to other 

        gods and its shrines and governed skills all ceased).




             The runes are embodiments of primal forces.  In a very  real 

        sense, as I use runes, they are the Platonic Ideals discussed and 

        debated  by early Greek Philosophers.  In a more  modern,  almost 

        nominalistic  setting,  runes  are the operands  of  the  cosmos' 

        operating system.


             In  my  system, each rune is also a set of stars and  has  a 

        descrete, separate existance on some levels of reality.  When the 

        term  Vali  appears in my older notes or rules it refers  to  the 

        generic  name  I gave the rune-stars.  Each star  within  a  rune 

        constellation  can be thought of as the assembler  segments  con-

        trolled and constituting that operand.


             In Glorantha the stars are a part of Yelm's court.


             Each  rune has its aspects, its descenders and  its  co-dec-

        ants.  The charting of same would look like this:



                /      \

           ASPECT     ASPECT  ---------------- co-decants.




             Using an actual example:



                /      \

           LIGHT          HEAT     ----------------  steam     (Meld   of 



                    Magma (co-decant of Earth) (Meld of Fire)


             The number of Runes is limited.  With the fragments, deriva-

        tives,  aspects, melds, descenders and co-decants, they are  able 

        to  express  the entirety of the operating system.   All  skills, 

        traits,  spells, and attributes have one or more runes that  con-

        trol, limit or influence same.


             In my system, there are the following runes:

        (For  *'d runes, the just reverse the runes to find  the  opposi-



        Rune           Opposing Rune


        Dark           Fire

        Fire           Water

        Water               Earth

        Earth               Air

        Air            Dark

        Death               Life

        Man            Plant

        Beast               Man

        Plant               Beast

        Spirit*             Shadow*

        Law*           Anarchy/Chaos*

        Stasis*             Change/Movement*

        Harmony*       Disorder*

        Magic*              Contrary (Left)*

        Mastery             Luck

        Luck           Fate

        Fate           Mastery

        Truth*              Illusion*

        Infinity*           Entropy/Chaos*


             In  Stafford's Glorantha the runes are not the same and  the 

        pairs may not be the same.  It appears that Stafford's Beast  and 

        Dragonnewt are Aspects of the Contrary rune (the same as Dark  or 

        Seid  in  Norse) and are so potent as to  represent  full-fledged 

        runic aspects of their own.  (Note that Gloranthan Beast is  also 

        Dragon's  Eye).  E.g.  Man (rational)  /Beast(irrational);  Magic 

        (normal/right-handed)/Dragon  (contra-normal/lefthanded).   Magic 

        and  Man  may  very well be Aspects of the rune  for  Natural  or 



             Some  things  about  Glorantha only Greg  Stafford  and  the 

        Dragons seem to know and they both keep secrets.  The above is my 

        guess based on how I began running my system following a paper  I 

        wrote  on  the left-handed power and the Cheyenne  Contraries  in 

        1974.  As you could guess, I have extremely deep presuppositions.


             Regardless  of  the system, all (or nearly  all)  runes  are 

        related to conflicts or opposing runes.  These are not necessari-

        ly  pairs,  but may form triads, stars or  other  configurations.  

        For example, for some (explaining more of the above):


             Fire overcomes Dark

             Water overcomes Fire

             Earth overcomes Water

             Air overcomes Earth

             Dark overcomes Air.


             The force that overcomes is the opposing rune.  Thus in  the 

        elemental star, if your rune is Fire, Water opposes you.  If your 

        rune is Dark, Fire opposes you.  The opposing force is  important 

        because of the concept of Rune Traits and Rune Factors (discussed 

        below in more depth).  


             Basically, in Rune factors (traits) the limit to the charac-

        ter's  strength  in  a rune is the character's  strength  in  the 

        opposing element.


             (so  that  on the 20/20 scale, a character's Fire  trait  is 

        limited  to  20 [the scale maximum] - Water trait, Dark is  20  - 

        Fire, etc.).


             I  do  not have Lunar/Moon as an element (I use Cycle  as  a 

        form rune that replaces Lunar/Moon in my mythology).  If you  use 

        Lunar or Moon as an element, I have suggestions below.


             While  the  elements are in a star, most of  the  forms  are 

        paired.   Life  and Death.  Stasis and Movement.   Magic  (right-

        handed/natural)  and Dragon(newt) (left-handed/seid).  Truth  and 



             Chaos  taints the process and can change the pairs.  Thus  a 

        chaos god may have her Fire opposed by Stasis (rather than Water) 

        or  his  Death opposed by Water (rather than Life).   This  chaos 

        impact can make for some unusual pairings.


             If you do not like the elemental star, or prefer to have all 

        runes   in  opposing  pairs,  then  use  Fire/Water,   Earth/Air, 

        Lunar/Dark for elemental pairs.  I do not have Lunar in my world, 

        so that particular pairing won't work for Shattered Norns.




             Gods  have two functions.  They Embody runes and they  serve 

        in  a  pantheon.  That is Gods directly  act/participate  in  the 

        operands  as  they control and alter the world.   Gods  also  are 

        directly  acted upon by their worshipers and use both their  dis-

        cretionary functions and non-discretionary functions to aid their 



             A god's ability to directly act to benefit its worshipers is 

        tied  to how free the god is from complete integration  with  the 

        rune.   A god's strength with the rune is directly  proportionate 

        to the integration with the rune.  When a god gets so diluted/in-

        tegrated with their rune as to lose free agency, they are unstop-

        pable within the rune's function yet unable to act  independently 

        of the rune as it is manipulated.


             The  very act of becoming a god (accepting  worshippers)  in 

        any  degree  begins the limits on the god's free agency.   It  is 

        possible to influence a god through worship--even if the god does 

        not desire your worship.  Propriation is a good example of this.


             The  result is that the older the god, the more powerful  in 

        god  vs god conflicts involving the rune.  At the same time,  the 

        less  powerful to directly aid the worshiper.  Thus new gods  are 

        born  and  old ones fade.  In addition, some immortals  and  some 

        heros chose not to become gods in any fashion.  


             My  mythos included Elaikases (cf my fanzine, The View  from 

        Elaikases  Tower who refused worship specifically to avoid  being 

        bound or controlled by worshippers).


        Rune Factors


             (as referred to above and covered later in more detail)


             The following are the factors for integrating a rune.


        -2   Severed        (cut off from the rune and all its

                       skills, spells, etc.)


         0   Nominal        (normal relationship with the rune)


         1   Partial        (initiate level contact)


         2   Minor          (rune lord/priest contact)


         4   Major          (prime rune, runelord/priest contact)


         8   Affiliated     (direct tie, hero of controlling god)


        16   Aligned        (godling, superhero)


        32   Embodied       (the controlling god. Yelm/Fire,

                       Humakt/Death, Orlanth/Air)


        64   Integrated     (god who has become part of the rune

                       without any free will).


             Rune affiliation is a 20 point trait range that begins  with 

        the  normal twenty points distributed between the  linked  runes.  

        (as  above  for  elemental runes,  distributed  directly  between 

        opposing runes just as between opposing traits).  Thus one may be 

        15  Death/  5 Life or 19 Chastity/1 Lust.  Under  normal  circum-

        stances, all affiliations have at least one point in them.


             Note  that  rune related skills are limited to  10%  *  rune 

        factor  (for  %tile systems) (e.g. weapon skills are  limited  to 

        Death  *  10 so that with a 15 Death one would be  limited  to  a 

        maximum  weapon skill of 150%) (or limited to 1 per  rune  factor 

        for  3d6  systems,  so that a 15 Death limits one  to  a  maximum 

        weapon skill of 15).


             A  rune  may  be severed from a character  to  increase  the 

        spread.  With severing, the above schema allows for the number 22 

        to be used for the number of perfection (following an old  Middle 

        Ages philosophical numerology concept I rather liked).


             In  addition to the Rune Trait (the 20 point  spread)  there 

        are  Rune Factors.  Rune Factors (also called  operative  points) 

        are  the portion of the rune trait "realized" or more  fully  em-

        bodied  in a character and their life.  Factors may never  exceed 

        the trait number.


             Only  operative  points  (or Rune Factors)  count  for  most 

        heroquest related actions.  Thus a RuneLord of Humakt may be 15/5 

        in  her  Death/Life  traits, but she may very well  have  only  6 

        Death/-2 Life in operative points (factors) for consideration  on 

        a heroquest.  


             Operative  points are what determine levels  for  evaluating 

        runes on quests and they increase the skill limits by  additional 

        amounts.  (+20% for each operative point).  (for 3d6 systems,  +2 

        per operative point).


             By  severing  a rune contact (i.e. Humakt  is  severed  from 

        life)  one  immediately reduces the severed rune's trait  to  its 

        factor  (i.e. -2), and increases the operative power of  the  op-

        posite rune by 2 (and the relevant opposed trait to its maximum).  

        (E.g. Sever Fire results in Fire to -2 Trait and Factors, Dark to 

        20 Trait and Water to +2 Factors).


             Thus  Humakt's  runelords, who sever Life as a part  of  the 

        ceremony that ties them to Death, become 8 Death (factor for rune 

        lord  of controlling god +2)/-2 Life (22 Death/-2 Life in  actual 



             For  gains  in Rune Factors beyond 22, one  must  engage  in 

        Heroquests.  It is possible to gain factors beyond 22.


        Gods II


             Following  a  god allows one to gain portions of  the  god's 

        nature.   An initiate of a god has all traits shifted one in  the 

        direction of the god's trait package.  A runelord/priest has  all 

        traits  shifted two in the direction of the god's trait  package.  

        A  joint lord/priest shifts two more.  A sainted hero shifts  two 

        more,  and may shift one past the 20/20 limits (to  20/0).   This 

        leads  to certain benefits, for example Sainted Yelmalios  always 

        make their chaste checks.


             However, gods are not uncluttered and unmarred.  The clutter 

        adds  advantages, the marring adds disabilities, geas  and  other 

        limits.   The  follower takes upon itself weaknesses as  well  as 





             Heroquesting  is  a matter of making  permanent  changes  in 

        reality by exchanging Will for Alterations in Reality.  Permanent 

        changes (for good or will) embody Will.  Heroquesting is specifi-

        cally  the spending of will for advancement along  the  heropath.  

        These rules simulate that exchange.




             This  is the skill system that I use in my campaign for  all 

        purposes.  It translates directly to Heroquest.  Normal Runequest 

        I,  II  and III characters can be used directly  --  without  any 

        changes -- under this skill system.


             I  prefer it because it is seamless in its  integration  and 

        because it has a great deal of flexibility and exactness.


                           Steve Marsh's Skill System 


             This system is expressed in percentile terms.  It translates 

        easily into 3d6 terms and can be used in a 3d6 system.




             Most tasks are determined by a roll of (skill + %tile  roll) 

        - (y*10%).  y is determined by the degree of randomness/difficul-

        ty  in the task.  All skills are expressed as a number  level  as 

        skill  n%,  where skill is the name of the skill and  n%  is  the 

        skill  level.   For each 5%tiles obtained above 0% one  point  of 

        effect  is  done (rounding up {e.g. 1% is rounded up  to  5%  for 

        determining effect).


             For  example, a character might have jogging at skill  level 

        60% or jogging 60%.  Jogging on a track is a 0 level,  nonrandom-

        ized,  task.  The result of someone jogging on a track is  deter-

        mined without the randomizer (skill + 0%) - 0%.  A jogging  skill 

        of 60% would mean that each round of jogging the character  could 

        do  60 points of jogging for 12 points of effect.  <(60% + 0%)  - 

        0%>/5 = 12.


             (with %tiles, divide the % by 5 to get the number of points.  

        I.e.   a skill of 60% would do 12 points a round in an  unopposed 



             Cross country jogging on a path is a 10% level task (i.e.  y 

        =  10%).  The skill of 60 would do (60 + d10%) - 10%  per  round.  

        In  addition,  tools can increase the result  done.   Magical  or 

        bionic shoes could add to skill, results or could alter the level 

        of the task.  


             Non-magic tools add to the dice roll.  Good shoes might  add 

        +2  to  the  results of jogging.  Often  tools  have  conditional 

        impact.   That  is, a tool's addition comes only  if  a  positive 

        result is first made.  This is most common in combat.




             This system works well with combat.  Treat combat as usually 

        being  a d100%-50 (for normal) to d100%-100 (for  paniced,  etc.) 

        level task.  A skill of 60 would do (60 + d100%) - 50 points  per 

        round and would have a 50% chance to hit against an opponent with 

        equal skill.  (Equal skills reduces things to equal chances).


             With  a normal 1d8 tool (such as a sword) at 60%  skill  one 

        (in  a  panic situation) would do <(60% +d100%)  -  100%>/10  per 

        round at skill level 60%  (e.g. when desperately hacking away  at 

        the evil blob creature).  Every positive roll would add 1d8  (for 

        the conditional tool) to the result.


             As  per the above, parry skill is added to combat by  having 

        the  parry skill added to the minus side of the  equation.   Thus 

        60% skill to hit vs 40% parry becomes (60% + d100%) - (50% + 40%) 

        or d100% - 80% -- a 70% chance to hit.




             Some  problems regenerate, some have  initial  difficulties.  

        Many tasks can have help from tools.  Let me give some examples.


        Piloting a ship 


             Wavestalker has an enchantment worth +15% on a superior ship 

        worth 10% and a skill of 30%.  Leaving the harbor in his ship  is 

        a 3 point a round task.


             That means, that to successfully leave the harbor Wavestalk-

        er must earn 3 points each round of play.


             On  take-off without any trouble he does 6+3+1  (10)  points 

        per  round  on a 3 point task.  He has a good margin  of  safety.  

        Each round he gets 7 points ahead.


             Two  rounds  into the channel he  encounters  minor  weather 

        trouble -- a mild squall.  That is a 20% level task/problem.   He 

        now  does (55% + d20%) - 20% points per round.  He is still  safe 

        and  still getting ahead.  That is, he does 35% + d20% (or  7+d4) 

        points per round into solving the task.


             This  is  the way that a normal harbor exit should  go  even 

        with minor weather problems.  However . . .


             Suddenly  the spell is dampened as the ship breaks the  spar 

        the  spell was enchanted to (wood rot that he did not  check  for 

        after  the winter ended).  Wavestalker is now in a (30% + d20)  - 

        20% situation.  (or 2 + d4)  


             As  the weather worsens with rain(+30% to his  problems)  he 

        slips  into a (30% + d50%) - 50% situation.  He is now at d50%  - 

        20%  every  round  and could be losing ground.   Add  a  variable 

        strong  wind  for a storm and he is at (30% + d100%) -  100%  (or 

        d100% - 70% per round).


             He is going to start losing that comfortable margin he built 

        up.   Luckily for him he makes it back to the dock before  things 

        get too sticky.


        Reading a foreign language  


             Wavestalker gets everything fixed and docks at Helvitia.  He 

        speaks  15%  of Helvitian.  With his skill he goes into  a  cheap 

        restaurant and takes a menu.  


             A  simple menu will take d6-0 points to read.  It will  (due 

        to formatting) have d3 points of "armor" (Wavestalker will  never 

        read  some  difficult menus).  As long as  his  dinner  companion 

        doesn't  stress him (10% as a level one stress) he will do his  3 

        points a round until the menu is read (or he gives up and  guess-



             He  reads the menu (which took 3 points to  understand,  and 

        which had 1 point of armor) in two rounds.


        Climbing a cliff 


             Later he is climbing a bit of cliff.  He's in a hurry  since 

        he dropped his sword and the wolves are getting closer.  He has a 

        skill of 20% and climbing equipment worth 20% points.  The  cliff 

        w' wolves is a 20% problem and because of the shale he has to  do 

        2  points before it starts to count (2 points armor on the  prob-



             This cliff takes two points per meter to climb.  


             Lets put the numbers together.  (20% + {tools} 20% + d20%) - 

        20 every round.   He does 4 + d4 points every round.  He rolls  a 

        10  on  d20% resulting in 6 points earned (less the 2  points  of 

        armor  the cliff has from the shale problem).  This  gets  Waves-

        talker 2 meters up the cliff before the wolves arrive.  


             Had  he been a bit more rushed this would have made  a  good 

        100%  problem with him at (20 + 20 +d100%) -100% per  round.   At 

        d100% - 60 he would have probably been caught by the wolves.


             He'll need to continue to be careful as he climbs higher  so 

        that he doesn't earn negative points, but at 2 meters he is  safe 

        until help arrives.




             Note that the armor idea solves many theoretical of problems 

        where  low-skilled types can't solve that kind of problem at  all 

        but  high skill types can do it quickly and easily.  Take a  task 

        with  10 points of armor and 1 task point.  If your skill is  45% 

        you'll  never  succeed.  With a skill of 55% you'll do  it  every 

        time when not under pressure and eventually even with pressure.


             These kinds of situations and results are relatively  common 

        in real life.




             If you want fumbles, you can use a roll of 01% to 05% and/or 

        a  result  of negative numbers to mean negative  results  to  the 

        extent of the negative numbers generated.  This means that when a 

        highly  skilled individual klutzes the results won't be  as  bad.  

        This is true to life.  A highly trained swimmer who slips up gets 

        a mouthful of water, a neophyte starts to drown.


             In  addition,  the more difficult the  situation,  the  more 

        likely bad results are to occur.  In a 100% situation bad results 

        are much more likely than in a 10% situation.  A positive  number 

        (even  with  a  01%) means that the bad result was  just  a  slow 

        result (i.e. you rolled a 01% when you could have rolled higher).




             Note that using this system a character is freely  transfer-

        able between this and any 3d6 equivalent skill resolution  system 

        (like Pendragon [with d20] or Champions).  Characters are  easily 

        transferred  between this and %tile systems.  For %tile  systems, 

        just use the same numbers.  This system is transparent to charac-

        ters under RUNEQUEST.


             For  d20  and  3d6 systems any number (vs  %tile)  skill  is 

        multiplied times 5% to get the percentile skill.  I.e. a  Pendra-

        gon sword skill of 5 becomes 25%.


             While  a 3d6 curve is not the same as a d20  flat  distribu-

        tion,  it is roughly equivilent.  I generally use flat  distribu-

        tions  (e.g.  d20) for risk takers (such as  berserks),  moderate 

        curves  for professionals (e.g. professional fighters  would  use 

        2d10)  and  3d6 for conservatives (e.g.  a  cautious  man-at-arms 

        would use 3d6).


             This system allows for simplification when you do not desire 

        the extra complications of this system, and detail when you  want 

        to  know  just how long it will take to pick that lock  or  climb 

        that cliff.  For simplification, merely use the normal  RUNEQUEST  



             The realism v. playbalance weighting can be shifted  anytime 

        for any need.




             d100  is the base range.  d100 divided by two is  d50.   d50 

        divided  by two is d25.  d25 divided by two is d12.  d12  divided 

        by two is d6.  Note also that d25 is fairly close to d20 and  d12 

        is fairly close to d10.


             Commonly,  difficulties are done on d10, d20, d50 and  d100.  

        Extremely  difficult situations (such as simple heroquests)  call 

        for  2d100.  Transcendentally difficult situations (such as  deep 

        heroquests, etc.) call for 3d100 or 4d100.  


             Generally, the Gray Zone adds from d10 to d100 to the diffi-

        culty of tasks performed therein.  Even simple running on a track 

        becomes a randomized event in the Gray Zone.


             The Hero Plane adds from d100 to d300 to difficulty in  most 

        areas,  up  to an additional d1000 in some places.   (i.e.  basic 

        combat thus becomes at least d200 and can be as bad as d1100).


             You  can  choose  your own limits for the God  Time,  but  I 

        suspect that d1000 is enough for most campaigns.


             Note  that for a skill of 200% and no  difficulty  modifiers 

        (4d100 + skill) minus (400 + difficulty) gives an average  result 

        of  (400 - 400), ~ 0 or a 50/50 chance of success.  At just  d100 

        difficulty  and skill levels of 300 on both sides the  chance  of 

        success is still 50%.  The system handles both high percentage of 

        success and high levels of difficulty very well.


        POSTSCRIPT, doing it again, but using 3d6.


             Using 3d6 allows one to use Pendragon Rules for the basis of 

        a Glorantha Campaign (something I like) or to use older  versions 

        of Shattered Norns without translating to d100.


             (This  explanation  system is expressed in  3d6  terms.   It 

        translates easily into %tile terms and is above a %tile system)




             Most  tasks  are  determined by a roll of (skill  +  yd6)  - 

        (y*6).  y is determined by the degree of randomness/difficulty in 

        the task.  All skills are expressed as a number level as skill n, 

        where skill is the name of the skill and n is the skill level.


             For  example, a character might have jogging at level 12  or 

        jogging 12.  Jogging on a track is a 0 level task.  The result of 

        someone jogging on a track is determined by the randomizer (skill 

        +  0) - 0.  A jogging skill of 12 would mean that each  round  of 

        jogging the character could do 12 points of jogging.  (12 + 0)  - 

        0 = 12.


             (with %tiles, divide the % by 5 to get the number of points.  

        I.e.   a skill of 60% would do 12 points a round in an  unopposed 

        situation).  (You can compare the examples above and below to see 

        this principle in action).


             Cross country jogging on a path is a 1 level task (i.e. y  = 

        1).  The skill of 12 would do (12 + d6) - 6 per round.  In  addi-

        tion,  tools  can increase the result done.   Magical  or  bionic 

        shoes could add to skill, results or could alter the level of the 



             Non-magic tools are either cumulative or non-cumulative.  An 

        example of cumulative tools is good shoes.  Good shoes might  add 

        +2  to  the results of jogging.  An example of  a  non-cumulative 

        tool is a poison dagger.  Poison adds to damage done to a  target 

        only after damage is already done to a target.




             This system works well with combat.  Treat combat as usually 

        being  a  3 level task.  A skill of 12 would do (12 + 3d6)  -  18 

        points  per round.  With a normal 2d6 tool (such as a sword)  one 

        would do (12 +5d6) - 18 per round at skill level 12.




             Problems  can be complex in their elements.   Some  problems 

        regenerate, some have initial difficulties.  Many tasks can  have 

        help from tools.  The following reviews some examples:


        Piloting a spaceship 


             Starstrider,  to help him in piloting his spaceship,  has  a 

        computer assist program worth +3 points in a XAV worth +1  points 

        and  a pilot skill of 6.  Take off in his FFX67/9 is a 3 point  a 

        round task.


             That means, that to successfully take-off the FFX67/9  Star-

        strider  must have a net of 3 points each round of play until  he 

        is  in  orbit (until his spaceship has earned,  with  its  thrust 

        factors, the points necessary to be in orbit).


             On  take-off without any trouble he does 6+3+1  (10)  points 

        per  round  on a 3 point task.  He has a good margin  of  safety.  

        Each round he gets 7 points ahead.


             Two  rounds into take-off he encounters minor weather  trou-

        ble.  That is a 1 level task/problem.  He now does (10 + d6) -  6 

        points  per  round.  He is still safe and  still  getting  ahead.  

        This is the way that a normal take-off should go even with  minor 

        weather problems.  However . . .


             Suddenly the XAV goes out (and the program with it).  He  is 

        now in a (6 + d6) - 6 situation.  He still earns d6 points/round.  


             However,  more  trouble, his radar horizon dissapears  in  a 

        developing  bad  weather situation (radar horizon to 0  is  a  -4 

        condition)(bad weather is 2 level or 2d6). 


             Starstrider  now  is in a (6 + 2d6) - (12  +  4)  situation.  

        That is, he makes 2d6-10 points per round.  He is going to  start 

        losing  that comfortable margin he built up.  Luckily for him  he 

        makes it into orbit before things get too sticky.


        Reading a foriegn language 


             Starstrider gets everything fixed and docks at Helvitia.  He 

        speaks  3  points of Helvitian.  With his skill he  goes  into  a 

        cheap restuarant and takes a menu.  


             Assume that a simple menu will take d6-0 points to read.  It 

        will (due to the quality [or lack thereof] of formating) have  d3 

        points  of  "armor" (Starstrider will never read  some  difficult 

        menus).   As long as his dinner companion doesn't stress him  (d3 

        to  d6  as a level one stress) he will do his 3  points  a  round 

        until  the menu is read (or he gives up and guesses).   He  reads 

        the  menu  (which took 3 points to understand, and  which  had  1 

        point of armor) in two rounds.


        Climbing a cliff 


             Later he is climbing a bit of cliff.  He's in a hurry  since 

        the wolves are getting closer.  He has a skill of 4 and  climbing 

        equipment  worth  4  points.  The cliff w' wolves is  a  level  2 

        problem and because of the shale he has to do 2 points before  it 

        starts to count (2 points armor on the problem).  


             This  cliff takes two points per meter to climb.  (4 +  4  + 

        2d6)  - (12 + 2) or 8+2d6 - 14 per round.  He rolls a 10  on  2d6 

        (18 - 14) resulting in 4 points earned.  


             This  gets him 2 meters up the cliff before the  wolves  ar-

        rive.   He'll need to be careful as he climbs higher so  that  he 

        doesn't  earn negative points, but at 2 meters he is  safe  until 

        help arrives.  (You can see that I generally have negative points 

        take  away from benefits earned.  In this case,  negative  points 

        would cause him to slide down the cliff.  On the take-off,  nega-

        tive   points   eroded   the  chance  of   getting   into   orbit 





             Note  that the armor idea solves most of the problems  where 

        low-skilled  types  can't solve that kind of problem at  all  but 

        high skill types can do it quickly and easily.  Take a task  with 

        10  points of armor and 1 task point.  If your skill is 9  you'll 

        never  succeed.  With a skill of 11 you'll do it every time  when 

        not under pressure and eventually even with pressure.


             These kinds of situations and results are relatively  common 

        in real life.




             If you want fumbles, you can use a roll of 1 and/or a result 

        of negative numbers to mean negative results to the extend of the 

        negative  numbers  generated.   This means  that  when  a  highly 

        skilled individual klutzes the results won't be as bad.  This  is 

        true  to  life.   A highly trained swimmer who slips  up  gets  a 

        mouthful of water, a neophyte starts to drown.


             The extent of the fumble can either be charted or can be the 

        simple negative numbers/erosion of results I gave above.


             In  addition,  the more difficult the  situation,  the  more 

        likely bad results are to occur.  In a 3d6 situation bad  results 

        are  much more likely than in a d6 situation.  A positive  number 

        (even with a 1) means that the bad result was just a slow  result 

        (i.e. you rolled a 1 when you could have rolled higher).




             Note that using this system a character is freely  transfer-

        able  between  this  and any 3d6 skill  resolution  system  (like 

        Champions).   Characters are easily transferred between this  and 

        %tile  systems.   In the %tile version, you can  freely  transfer 

        characters between this and RQ.  Same numbers just different uses 

        (a skill of 12/60% is the same in either system).


             This  allows for simplification when you do not  desire  the 

        extra  complications of this system, and detail when you want  to 

        know  just how long it will take to pick that lock or climb  that 



        NEXT STEPS 


             (After changing or making allowances to the skill system  to 

        allow for the difficulty of the heroquest realm).


             After converting all the skills had by the character to  fit 

        the  new skill system, determine available WILL (see  below)  and 

        calculate Presence.




             Presence  is  calculated  by  backtracking  the  character's 

        career  and  using a system similar to the  Pendragon  Rules  for 

        Glory.  Every act using a rune that results in change or improve-

        ment  of the character increases presence in the rune related  to 

        the act.  Total presence (summed from all runes) equals Heroquest 



             Killing  a great giant is about 200 points of glory,  owner-

        ship  of land, being knighted, becoming a runelord, all of  these 

        are  generators of glory.  As a note, most characters  will  find 

        their  presence and glory in the runes of Magic or Death  (spells 

        or swords).


             Consider,  a Runelord probably has earned, by  separate  ex-

        perience, at least 100 %tiles of skill.  That comes (under the 5% 

        per  successful learning by experience) to 20 encounters.  At  30 

        glory  each that is 600 glory.  Assuming other inputs,  an  occa-

        sional  failed  experience check, etc. a  Runelord  probably  has 

        between 2,000 and 12,000 points of glory, mostly from presence in 

        the  Death rune (for fighters), the magic rune  (for  sorcerors), 

        the  spirit  rune  (for  shaman) or  a  "usual"  rune  (for  rune 



             For  future  play add the rules for glory  and  traits  from 

        Pendragon   and apply them as limits to skills.  Skills are limit-

        ed by the trait that controlls the skill (as above), the presence 

        in  the related rune (+1/10% to maximum for every point of  pres-

        ence), and by will (added to skill when on/in mythic planes).


             If  you've  seen a Chaosium Heroquest (I have  not  been  so 

        lucky  as to run in one), Glory and Presence are what I  use  in-

        stead of Rune Fame.  It is simpler and easier to account for than 

        what I have glimpsed.




             Traits are endemic to a number of systems and fit very  well 

        into  the  Heroquest arena as well as my personal  system.   They 

        function  as a skill limit and as a method of  character  exposi-

        tion.  Skill limits help define and control the shape of encount-

        ers and reality.  Traits also define the character's  personality 

        elements and are a great play aid in that respect.


             Every  time a character is on the heroplane, use  the  above 

        mechanics and rules with two exceptions.  First, when you feel  a 

        need  to change, Second, when the rules do not fit.   With  these 

        rules you are ready for WILL and Spirit.




             The requisite called WILL is the most important part of  the 

        HEROQUEST and the place where most developments of 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  as 

        separate requisites 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  associa-

        tion, 3 points for a direct association.  


             Spirit is equal to Will.


             Will  is to be treated as Heroquest's equivalent  to  Power.  

        Spirit is Heroquest's equivalent to Magic Points.


             Runic  associations  do not add to will, they cost  will  as 

        expenditures of self to gain access to magic.  Just as a  charac-

        ter  sacrafices points of POW for Rune Magic, a character  sacra-

        fices points of WILL for Rune contacts.


             Allied associations vs direct associations are determined by 

        how one takes skills or spells.  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.  Gods who  become  integrated  with 

        their  rune eventually begin to gain the skills  associated  with 

        the rune at percentiles over 100%.  This costs them will.


             Finally,  to  keep a benefit gained on a Heroquest  costs  a 

        point of WILL.  WILL can also be gained or lost on special  Hero-

        quests (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.)  An alternative rule (if  you 

        decide  that your characters need more will) is to make the  base 

        for the number of worshipers either 4 or 8.


             1    1-4       1-8

             2    5-16      9-64

             3    17-64          65-512

             4    65-256         513-4096

             6    256-1024       4097-32,768

             7    1025-4096 32,769-262,144


             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  and 

        skills or by losing worshipers or glory.  


             E.g.  Oakfed is completely controlled by his shaman  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  and lost too many worshipers.   Will  is  very 



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

        time it happens.


             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.


                              MORE NOTES AND RULES


             Most  superheros  have about 10 to 100 <rune  level>  linked 

        followers  with  the  concommitant limit  on  hit  points,  magic 

        points, etc.


             [implied rule:  except for special circumstances, all linked 

        followers must be rune level <rune lord/rune priest, shamen  with 

        fetch, sorcerer with familiar> characters.]


             [implied rule:  the infinity rune does not give one infinite 

        ability  or power -- instead it allows the superhero to  transfer 

        damage  or  adverse results to linked rune  level  followers.   A 

        superhero  thus becomes the focus for the power and lives of  his 



             [implied  rule:  gods can transfer damage only to  specially 

        linked supernatural followers in a fashion similar to superheros.  

        The  hrythgar  or cohort of a god has the same  function  as  the 

        linked followers of a superhero.]


             {practical note:  dragons are the lefthanded path equivalent 

        of superheros.  Their increased body mass substitutes for follow-

        ers.  Dragons are very, very large.}


             [implied  rule:  there are supernatural equivalents or  sub-

        stitutes  for  followers in terms of creating  glory,  generating 

        will,  providing power/magic points and absorbing  damage  trans-

        fers.  Dragons are the most effective, chaotic means the least in 

        providing equivalents.]




             Many encounters that depend on roleplaying and an occasional 

        opposed trait roll -- modified by WILL if applicable -- are great 

        beginning heroplane type conflicts.  Not everything is saving the 

        world,  fighting off terrible odds, etc.  The  following  section 

        goes over the basic types of heroquests.


             A.     Mundane


             Gaining  a minor temporary special benefit is the  heart  of 

        many  mundane  heroquests.  By definition, this is  the  kind  of 

        benefit  that  has play aid but that does not cost  WILL  and  to 

        which WILL cannot be added to determine results.  The yearly holy 

        season  ceremonies  come to mind as a good example as  would  the 

        typical  attempt  to gain a military ally during a war  (see  the 

        Dragon Pass game for some examples).


             The  other  kind of mundane quest centers  about  gaining  a 

        minor benefit (that is available through mundane means) by mythic 

        means.   A  character may go on a quest that  gains  a  runemagic 

        spell  or improves a requisite or skill just as  training  would.  

        These quests are good practice and do not cost WILL (unless  WILL 

        vs WILL struggles are used to obtain the benefit).


             B.     Simple


             The  basic  "simple" quest where one spends WILL to  gain  a 

        permanent benefit not usually available.  (Good examples  include 

        a normal human becoming one of the "men and a half," the walk  on 

        Wind Mountain where a man can earn the ability to take a  sylph's 

        form, raising the dead, the visit to hell <e.g. the lowest  level 

        lightbringer's  quest>,  etc.).  (doing a quest at  a  low  level 

        reduces difficulty at the higher level).


             C.     Heroic


             The kind of quest that is a mark of a true hero.  Gaining  a 

        fetch or a true allied spirit, finding a best friend, changing  a 

        mythic  event,  or gaining a special/left handed  power  are  all 

        heroic  quest  levels.  Note that while some parts  of  the  true 

        heroquest  may  start  at relatively low levels  of  power  (e.g. 

        gaining an allied spirit or fetch) all parts of the heroic  quest 

        are necessary to the identity and power of a hero.


             D.     Superheroic


             The quest to gain the infinity rune, the true visit to  hell 

        (necessary  for  the ability to routinely return  from  the  dead 

        unless  sundered into grisly portions), bonding the  best  friend 

        and  similar  steps are all superheroic.  Note that the  path  to 

        becoming  a  superhero is a often a separate path  than  that  of 

        ascending to being a lesser god.  


             The gods do not necessarily use the infinity rune, need best 

        friends or need a back door out of hell.




             1)   No, my version of heroquest is not even close to (to my 

        knowledge) the version that Greg Stafford is using.


             2)   I  use the trait pairs listed by John T. Sapienza,  Jr. 

        on his excellent RQIII character sheets.  


             3)   The  interaction of the old Charisma  enhancing  rules, 

        character  histories,  etc. should give you a rough idea  of  how 

        much glory is appropriate.  For backtracking, just give a  "fair" 

        amount or roll on 2d6 * 1,000.


             4)   In his rules, as I have heard, Greg Stafford had people 

        build will up by adventuring in the mundane world and by reaching 

        various  semi-mundane goals (e.g. rune status, etc.).  They  then 

        spent  the  will gained in the mundane world when  they  ventured 

        into the mythic world.  


             I  assume that one grows into a racial amount of  WILL,  and 

        maxes it out as a successful adventurer (e.g. base WILL starts as 

        3d6 but is 18 by the time it is used for play).


             5)   "Taking  spells or skills as a member of a cult"  means 

        joining  a  cult and learning special cult skills or  spells  not 

        otherwise  available.   Normal training, unbound by  mythic  con-

        straints or limits, does not apply nor cost will.


             6)   Yes,  every permanent mythic or heroic benefit  reduces 



             7)   Ancient  cultures have had some amazing boom  and  bust 

        times in population.  Ancient Egypt had up to 30+ million  inhab-

        itants.   In  one period of sharp decline, only 90 to  100  years 

        showed  a drop from 30+ to 15-.  The high was 32 or  so  million, 

        the low about 2 million.


             8)   For  starting  will  in Shattered Norns  I  subtract  6 

        points  from  24 for each birth rune to get  Will.   Humans  thus 

        start  with  18 (24 minus 1*6), elves, trolls,  dwarves,  et  al. 

        start  with  12 (24 minus 2*6), beast/lunar/chaos would be  6  as 

        would beast/man/chaos for scorpion men (24 minus 3*6).  


             Godlings (weaker immortals) usually have a base will between 

        2d3 and 2d6 with additions for presence and glory.  Drepnir would 

        have a base of 12 (two runes, beast and infinity) with  additions 

        for presence and glory.


                        COMMENTS ON STEVE MAURER'S SYSTEM




             My system is also not official.  However, unlike Greg  Staf-

        ford,  I came into the concept of the heroquest from a  different 

        perspective than Joseph Campbell's writing.  Greg is a  confirmed 



             One  can find Greg's initial version of heroquest  reflected 

        in  the three heroquest boardgames:  Red Moon, White Bear,  Prax, 

        Masters of Luck and Death.


             In  these a man had one rune (man).  A hero usually had  two 

        runes  (man  and  mastery).  A superhero had  three  runes  (man, 

        Special  [the  superhero's rune, such as Death  for  Harreck  and 

        Harmony  for  the Razoress] and  infinity  [replacing  mastery]).  

        Gods had the other runes.


             A  character progressed by first mastering himself and  then 

        by  transcending to the infinite.  (First the rune MASTERY,  then 

        the  rune INFINITY).  Superheros could be obtained by players  by 

        alliance,  building one through heroic acts or by recreating  one 

        of the sundered (super)heros.


             Recreation  of a superhero was done by gathering the  grisly 

        portions of a superhero (such as Tada) and re-uniting them  prop-

        erly at one of the proper rune sites.  One could even recreate or 

        birth a god this way (such as the Lunar Goddess).


             Note  that Greg's system had lots of the old  mythic  stuff.  

        The  five  wounds  of death, grisly portions, etc.   One  of  the 

        hardest  things to do is to retain the concept of  the  heroquest 

        while finding mechanics that by-pass many (conflicting) primitive 

        myths and images for the hero trail.


             In  the  old way, two paths were open to one who  wanted  to 

        become  a hero:  the material and the magical.  One  either  mas-

        tered  skills  (the material world) or one  mastered  magic  (the 

        magic/mythic  world).   These  archetypes are  reflected  by  the 

        warrior and the shaman/magician in our society.


             A runelord mastered the material by mastering five skills to 

        their  limits (95%).  (Five wounds, five skills,  five  elements, 

        etc.)  A runepriest mastered the magical by gaining access to the 

        appropriate rune.


             You can see that the systems (RQIII and the boardgames) have 

        problems meshing at this point.  Most characters do not  "master" 

        their  inborn self (the man rune) prior to trying  for  something 

        else.   Instead,  they reach a degree of mastery  in  an  applied 

        Rune,  as they go for some application of power.   The  religious 

        set-up of Dragon Pass encourages this type of identity (Daka  Fal 

        is  the  only real source for the man rune and  not  exactly  the 

        leading god for player-characters).




             I do not have Maurer's success levels.  Instead I use diffi-

        culty levels which can be tuned to similar math.




             My  system defines these levels a bit more.  Either  set  of 

        definitions  can  be used for most heroquests, but  directly  re-

        flecting the difficulty in the terrain helps emphasize it.


             Hells  have heavy entropy/chaos residuals.  They are  energy 

        sinks.  Heavens are positive energy locations.


             Divine  intervention points can be manipulated by  the  rune 

        factors (active/operational points) had by the individual who has 

        sacrificed POW for divine intervention points.


             Major  temples  are  locations where one may  meet  the  god 

        directly.   This means that most Rune Spells can be  regained  if 

        one  is willing to travel, on good terms with the hierarchy,  and 

        has a god with easy direct access.  


             I.e., the character goes to a Major temple of the god, enter 

        the  sanctum, and engages in high worship.  High worship  bridges 

        the  distance  to the god and places the character in  the  god's 

        presence.  The character thus receives the rune magic back.


             Of course if the god does not have a major temple, then  the 

        character  will  have to wait for the cult's high  holy  day  and 

        persuade  the heirachy to allow a personal part in  the  rituals.  

        Smaller  gods are more dependent and so the persuasion should  be 



             Magic  spells cast before entering the spirit  plane  should 

        endure.  Magic cast prior to leaving time is half of the prepara-

        tion for the heroquest.




             I  disagree with Maurer.  You can change the history of  the 

        gods.  It is just hard.  Especially primal history, before  time, 

        when gods were handling the runes directly.  Orlanth slaying Yelm 

        with  Death is a pretty major event.  You would have to  go  past 

        the  beginning of time, work your way to that conflict, and  then 

        face the unshielded death rune.  


             Should  you try to save Yelm, you might very well be one  of 

        the  many shadows, gleams of light or other veils of  power  that 

        Orlanth  shredded as he slew Yelm.  Each of those was/is  someone 

        who thought he could transverse time and make a difference.  None 

        did (Orlanth got them all too -- at the same time, so to speak).


             The Devil managed to get quite a few gods, changing the real 

        time (cf Yelm's other son).


             The closer you follow a god's path, the more any significant 

        differences  (as in the allocation and strength of  your  traits) 

        chafes.   On  the God Plane, the one who walks the path,  is  the 



             Unknown  paths are hard to leave or change.  Where  a  great 

        pattern (e.g. the lightbringers) has many, many echos, an unknown 

        path usually has only one.


             Gods  like  cult heros who (a) teach the god  a  skill,  (b) 

        thereby hold the skill for the god and thus prevent the god  from 

        having  to acquire that skill as a part of integration  with  the 

        rune.   The god thus controls the skill, may pass the  skill  on, 

        and yet is not forced to spend will on the skill.


             I'm  not big on raw actions, which most of  this  discussion 

        seems to be about, but I do think it was well set up.


        PACTS I




             (a)  creatures destroyed in the great dark and not  restored 

        by  the great compromise (lots of dead and/or severed  gods,  the 

        red moon);


             (b)  creatures whom the compromise was aimed against  (chaos 



             (c)  those  who  are antithetical to cause/effect  or  other 

        results of time.




             (a)  the immortals.  To join in time is to become subject to 

        time and to give up immortality for something else.  Some  immor-

        tals regret their choice, some do not.


             (b)  Aracna  Solara's  competitors.  There were  others  who 

        attempted to rule/give birth to time.  Not all were happy to  see 

        the celestial court's goddess make that resurgence.




             (a)  creatures destroyed in the great dark and not  restored 

        by  the great compromise (lots of dead and/or severed  gods,  the 

        red moon);


             (b)  those who were unable to spare the power/will to  join, 

        unwilling to be slaves to those with the power/will to bring them 

        into  the great compromise.  (Note, immortals were  automatically 

        excluded, mortals automatically included in time).


        PACTS II


             Pacts should bind by some combination of word, trait, power, 

        will,  self/soul.  Many apparent word pacts also include some  of 

        the  other elements, especially if any will is spent to make  the 

        pact  binding.   Note  that anytime a god or  spirit  channels  a 

        character so as to allow the character direct access to a rune (a 

        common  reason  for pacts with a godling or great spirit  who  is 

        outside of time), some sort of pact probably occurs.  If  nothing 

        else,  a trait linkage (even if temporary) occurs, shifting  some 

        or all of the character's traits.  cf Best Friends, Allied  Spir-

        its, Fetch.  All of these have some level of pacting.



                              HEROQUEST, Chapter II





             This  is a game master's essay of nuts and bolts for  deter-

        mining  how  much power is gained from heroquests  and  how  that 

        power  is  limited, focused and controlled.  This set  of  rules, 

        Heroquest II, is not for players and I would advise against  most 

        players reading these rules.


             While there are some comments about what a heroquest is  and 

        how such a quest fits into the world, most of this is mere window 

        dressing for the rules mongering that this essay supports.




             Heroquests are activities beyond the mundane wherein a  non-

        mythic creature (a normal, mortal player-character) gains  access 

        to mythic powers and abilities.  Heroquests may occur whenever  a 

        mortal  reaches out past the finite and rational world and  takes 

        part in the infinite and supra-rational world.  


             However, specifically in the context of these rules, partic-

        ipation  and gaining power from the heroquest is what sets  apart 

        those  who become heroes from those who are the more  run-of-the-

        mill,  usual, adventurers, characters and persons who make  up  a 



             By  definition,  a  heroquest occurs any  time  a  character 

        reaches  past  the  mundane and normal and  obtains  some  trans-

        mundane  ability, skill or benefit.  Nonetheless, the  possession 

        of  trans-mundane and/or mythic power in significant  amounts  is 

        what makes a character a hero in game terms.


             Mythic power is defined as the ability to create causes  and 

        effects  outside  of  normal physics.  For the  purposes  of  the 

        mechanics of these rules, all mythic power is controlled/accessed 

        /brought-into-play  by  either (a) its specific rune or  (b)  the 

        luck/mastery/fate triad of control runes.  


             This  relates back to the basic nature of any reality  using 

        runic  identities.  The runes are operands (operand:  that  which 

        is  operated  upon to produce results; to perform/cause)  of  the 



             By means of magical links with the operands, one causes  the 

        functions  open to those operands.  In a paraphysical  sense,  an 

        operand  is the lever that allows paraphysical forces  to  accom-

        plish physical results.


             Mythic level and quality type powers and abilities are  thus 

        controlled  by  their specific operands (the  runes  that  invoke 

        them) or the controlling causality links (the luck/mastery/  fate 

        triad controls causes and effects).  


             Being a hero is really getting a handle or means of  control 

        of  a facet of the power (effects caused by) a rune.  (This  dis-

        cussion is mere rules basis and can be safely ignored).


             The  general heroquest thus has as its goal the  access  and 

        control  of  some mythic power by means of contact  with  control 

        links for the appropriate rune.  Specific quests usually lead  to 

        specific powers.  For more on the esthetic and literary structure 

        of  quests,  see  my Drepnirquest example or  the  Heroquest  (I) 



             Reduced to game terms, the heroquest is a game method  which 

        gains the character special power not normally available or in an 

        amount greater than that normally available.


             In  mechanical  rule oriented terms, to gain  a  power  from 

        being  played  through a quest, the character  must  do/have  the 



             (a)  have available or open operative rune factors.   During 

        the  course of the quest, some or all of those open or  available 

        operative  rune  factors  are used/dedicated to  the  access  and 

        control of the relevant mythic power the quest is targeted at;


             (b)  have available will to spend to alter reality so as  to 

        dedicate/link  some or all of the available rune factors  to  the 

        aspects  of  the rune's operations that are to be gained  by  the 

        quest.   During the quest the will is spent to  purchase  control 

        over the rune's manefestation to be expressed by the rune factors 



             (c)  have  an  appropriate context of  structure  where  the 

        rune's  aspect/power is available, the factors can be  linked  to 

        same,  and will can be applied -- that is, have the  right  quest 

        for the powers desired.


             Generally, the above "a, b, c" means that the character must 

        have operative rune factors to apply, will to spend and an appro-

        priate quest setting to justify the power that results.





             At this point it is assumed that the game master has  avail-

        able  one or more quests for the characters to proceed  on.   The 

        characters  will  have to chose which quests they want  based  on 

        game  political,  economic, social and power questions  (and  the 

        player-characters  own  knowledge of the  potential  rewards  and 

        risks of the quest).


             These rules do not address the question of designing  quests 

        or  of deciding which quests to offer to  the  player-characters.  

        The question addressed herein is how to control, measure,  apply, 

        and account for the rewards and powers gained in the quests  that 

        the characters pursue.


             Quantification,  the import and reason for these  rules,  is 

        important for game balance, fairness and control.  This is  espe-

        cially true when one considers that (at least as far as I am con-

        cerned) heroes and superheroes are capable of becoming  extremely 

        potent  --  equal to full scale game tokens  in  strategic  level 

        games -- and that the GM must both make such power available  and 

        yet not reward the characters too quickly or to arbitrarily.


             In order to limit, quantify and control quest results,  take 

        the following steps.


             First, tally the appropriate rune traits that the characters 

        have.  No character should be able to gain power in a rune  where 

        the  character's rune trait does not exceed 15.  While all  rules 

        should bend to appropriate circumstances, this one should be paid 

        a good deal of deference.  Characters will rarely have any opera-

        tive factors in any runes where the rune trait does not exceed 15 

        or more by the time the character qualifies for heroquesting.


             Second,  note the operative rune factors (rune  factors  for 

        short).   This  is  the  portion  of  the  rune  trait  that   is 

        available/active  in the character's persona and  life.   Gaining 

        rune factors is an important reason for pious observance of  cult 

        ties  and the major benefit gained from pious observance of  cult 

        ties by most heroquesters.


             Each operative factor used (bound or focused) can control  a 

        form (manifestation or expression) of the rune (i.e. some magical 

        power  or ability or skill that the rune controls) with up  to  9 

        points of fixed will, 3 points of pooled will, or 1 point of free 

        will per operative factor.


             Fixed  will has only one expression, pooled will is  divided 

        between  a  pool  of expressions, free will is open  to  any  use 

        within the rune's context.  


             (This is very similar to Champions or Superworld where fixed 

        will  would be hero points in a power, pooled will would be  hero 

        points  in a multipower and free will would be hero points  in  a 

        universal pool).


             The  game rational for this rule is that the more fixed  the 

        expression of a rune, the less it should take in terms of factors 

        to control, bind, or manifest that expression.


             Each  point of will can purchase approximately (~) 9  or  10 

        points of effective power (called "force" in these rules) (rough-

        ly the same as ten points of a superhero power in a comix derived 

        game).   At  a maximum that is one rune factor,  9  points  fixed 

        will, 81 to 90 points of force.  


             You may wish to use different numbers (the low power  alter-

        native  is to reduce things to powers of three.  Thus one  factor 

        controls  1  free or 2 pooled or 3 fixed points  of  will.   Each 

        point of will has three points of force.  The maximum per  factor 

        then becomes 9 points of force).  I find that substantial amounts 

        of force points work out better in the long run.


             In  a player point type of game, you may require players  to 

        spend a character's player points to pay for the force points  or 

        you  may  place heroquests outside the structure  of  the  player 

        point  system.  When heroquest are outside the structure  of  the 

        player point system, force gained from will spent is automatical-

        ly  equal to the maximum amount, with reductions for  any  devia-

        tions  or  failures to reach perfect play.  The  quality  of  the 

        results is thus tailored to match the quality of the quest.


             I use a player point system.  In my campaign, where a normal 

        successful  adventure session is worth 1 to 3 player points,  and 

        where player points apply on heroquests, a successful   heroquest 

        is  worth  10 to 30 points -- and a good deal  of  glory.   Force 

        points are limited to player points spent to purchase them.


             Note  that both the decision on when characters are  awarded 

        player  points  and  the decision on whether  to  require  player 

        points  will make a significant difference in the way quests  are 

        conducted  and the timing and amount of the rewards gained  by  a 



             If  the characters receive their points for the quest  after 

        the quest (and its rewards) are complete, it will greatly  effect 

        the  way quests are run and prepared for vis a vis a world  where 

        the  points are gained at the conclusion of the conflict  portion 

        of the quest and can be spent on the benefits.


             Excluding player point considerations from heroquests  makes 

        the  entire process a good deal easier to manage from the  number 

        crunching  side, but makes it possible for the GM to appear  more 

        arbitrary.   I sometimes prefer player points and prefer to  have 

        them earned after the conclusion of the play session.   Sometimes 

        I prefer to skip all the bookkeeping.


             To  illustrate the above basic rules in practice, suppose  a 

        quest  that  has as its goal gaining a weapon  called  the  death 

        sword.   This is the death rune, operative as a  sword.   Gaining 

        the  deathsword at +3d6 damage would require having a death  rune 

        operative factor available, going on a quest that shapes the rune 

        into that shape, and spending a point of will at the proper  time 

        on the quest.  3d6 ~ 9 points of force.  


             The  death  sword is a fixed rune expression so up  to  nine 

        points of will could be bound to the factor used.  Each point  of 

        will could be used to control up to 9 or 10 force points or +3d6.  

        The  limit on a one factor death sword is thus +27d6  of  damage, 

        costing 9 points of will.





             The spending of both will and player points can be  enhanced 

        by  being marred or disadvantaged in the taking of power.   Geas, 

        wounds,  etc.  all ease the transition to the  transfinite.   The 

        price  in  will for gaining a power benefit is paid  on  the  net 

        force points.


             This  particular rule has a strong basis in myths  and  leg-

        ends.   Many a hero loses an eye, sacrifices a limb or skill,  or 

        takes a weakness at the same time a power is gained.  This is  an 

        added  level  of  complication that works well  in  player  point 



             Thus,  if  the benefit gained also includes  a  downside  (a 

        disadvantage,  limit, weakness, etc.), the value of the  downside 

        reduces the cost of the benefit to give a lower net cost.


             Back  to the death sword example.  Assume that the path  the 

        hero  took  to gain the death sword resulted in  the  hero  going 

        berserk  on 15- (in any combat), recover on 8-.   This  disadvan-

        tage,  tied to the sword, would allow one point of will to  "buy" 

        more force (with less control, greater constraints).


             It  is  quite possible for a hero to become  so  tangled  in 

        disadvantages, geas, limits and vulnerabilities that the hero  is 

        unplayable.  This tangling has happened to a number of  individu-

        als  in real myths and is an excellent opportunity to "NPC"  some 



             The interaction of the above rules can lead to a great  deal 

        of power for both player characters and non-player characters.  A 

        berserker  god with 10 death factors tied to death  sword,  (note 

        that the god also spent 90 points of will), each factor  control-

        ling  ~9  points of force (or 90 points x 10 x 1d6/3  points  for 

        +300d6),  is extremely dangerous from the sword  alone.   Roughly 

        equal in killing power in combat to a front 150 men wide.


             Imagine  the  impact  of the same god with  a  hrythgr  (the 

        technical  name for a god's cohort or bodyguard/personal  attend-

        ants),  additional abilities, another 12 to 18 rune factors  tied 

        into  the  death rune, etc.  It becomes quite possible  to  build 

        truly superheroic characters with these rules.  Almost impossible 

        to build them (because of the restraint that will prices impose), 

        but not quite.


             Also note that the impact of possible force is  additionally 

        mitigated because, at the hero level, rune use is costly in terms 

        of magic points.  Will, factors, force, etc. only mean having the 

        capacity.   Magic points make the capacity work.  (Much  like  an 

        automobile and gasoline.  Once you have the automobile, it  still 

        takes  gas  to use it).  Power, bound  spirits,  worshippers  and 

        other sources of magic points remain very important to heros.


             One magic point must be spent per 3 force points used.  That 

        death sword in the example above, takes 30 magic points for  each 

        30d6  blow  made with it.  A god finds that kind  of  expenditure 

        easy,  receiving  many  magic points through  worship  and  other 

        sources, mere heroes may not.





             The  big difference between heroes and superheroes  is  that 

        superheroes  have access to the infinity rune to boost  effective 

        POW, magic points, etc. and to lower the cost of rune use.


             The  rules for superheros and gods are outside the scope  of 

        this set of rules.  If your heros tangle with a superhero,  treat 

        the  superhero on the defense as having infinite power.   On  the 

        offense,  let them use powers without having to account  for  the 

        cost in magic points.


             That  is, for the purposes of melee, give the  superhero  an 

        infinite  supply of magic points and immunity to  magic  attacks.  

        Also  give the superhero freedom from trait factor limits in  one 

        skill (the one associated with the superhero's possession of  the 

        infinity  rune).   This  is only a rough  approximation,  but  it 

        allows the use of superheros, allows character heros to beat them 

        (in just the right circumstances) and does not require additional 

        levels of game mechanics.





             Typical quests include the trip to hell, following the  path 

        of the god, seeking direct inspiration, and passing the  portals.  

        The following topic discusses all of these quests in their gener-

        al format and purpose.


             The trip to hell.  Hell actually has three different defini-

        tions.   First, hell is the place of the dead/judgment.   Second, 

        hell  is  the entropic dumping ground/mythic  sewer  where  chaos 

        slime  sinks, renegade gods lurk and the fabric of myth  is  dis-

        torted  and warped.  Third, hell is also defined as the realm  of 

        enemy  gods.  A trip to hell can be to any of these three  adven-



             The first kind of trip to hell -- the visit to the place  of 

        the  dead  -- should be one of the first quests  any  heroquester 

        takes.  In Greg Stafford's Glorantha the classic and  pre-eminent 

        example  is  The  Lightbringers Quest.  Every  god's  myths  will 

        include such a trip.


             The reason one makes the first kind of trip to hell is  that 

        the  trip to the place of the dead includes a return to the  land 

        of the living.  The important benefit of this visit and return is 

        the  gaining  of a back door to death by gaining the  ability  to 

        return as one did in the quest.  In addition, such a quest usual-

        ly  allows  one to meet the god when the god  was  still  readily 

        accessible and was giving gifts.  (Most gods visited hell a  long 

        time ago).


             Mechanically, one who has been to hell and returned, may (if 

        they  have paid the price in will, blood and power),  upon  being 

        killed, proceed to the realm of the dead/judgment and then follow 

        the same path out into the mortal world as they did on the quest.  

        Being able to come back from the dead is an important trick for a 



             The  Lightbringers Quest is a great example of this kind  of 

        quest  because of the vast number of runic associations  who  may 

        find  a place on the quest and the complexity and fulness of  the 

        quest elements.  In addition, most of the quest may be safely run 

        on the mundane plane (acquiring glory and fame during the  quest) 

        until the actual decent to hell.


             Trips  to  hell usually often also have the side  effect  of 

        allowing  the party to raise someone from the dead with the  trip 

        (in  Lightbringers,  one may raise anyone tied to the  Fire  rune 

        from  the  dead -- that person taking the place of  Yelm  on  the 



             The  Harrowing  of Hell is a classic example of  the  second 

        kind  of hell and its related quest.  In this kind of quest,  one 

        descends  into the nether regions and raids, looking  for  power, 

        fame  and glory.  If your god did it, you can follow  that  path.  

        Otherwise  it is a great way to experience risk, blaze new  paths 

        and find strange and bizarre (even useless) powers and rewards.


             Many  a character has met the devil or other powerful  chaos 

        entity on such a quest.


             Harrowing  hell  is  the closest to  exploring  new  worlds, 

        escaping the usual, and dungeon crawling hack and slash that  one 

        can find in a heroquest setting.


             Raiding  the Enemy God's Realms, is exciting, diverting  and 

        dangerous,  sometimes  even more so than  harrowing  hell.   Many 

        heros  try this quest, few succeed.  Enemy gods are as  dangerous 

        to raid as is your own and the runic associations of their realms 

        may well be very hostile to your own.


             Following  the  path of the god.  This is the  second  major 

        kind of quest.  This is beyond following your god's path  through 

        hell  (the usual way to find a back door is to use your god's  -- 

        if hesh has one), and in the proper sense, is truly following the 



             This  quest  is following the path that your god  took  that 

        made  the  god famous/relevant/your god.  It  also  involves  the 

        gaining  of one (or more) of the major powers of the god by  fol-

        lowing in the god's footsteps and duplicating the god's  acquisi-

        tion of the power.


             For an Orlanthi, this sort of quest would include the  quest 

        to  obtain the Air rune or the quest for Orlanth's spear.  For  a 

        Humakti, this is the quest for the death sword.  For a Storm Bull 

        it is gaining the berserkergang.  Etc.


             These are the straight forward questing for power that  most 

        players  currently think of when they think of heroquests.   Many 

        would be heroes go on these quests first -- even before finding a 

        back door.  (Note that Orlanth cleverly fits his worshipers  into 

        a pattern that leads them to the back door in the context of  the 

        cult's premier major quest pattern).


             Seeking  direct inspiration.  This encompasses the visit  to 

        the god (via the heroquest rather than through the use of a major 

        temple  and/or the sacred time) (used to become a  sainted  hero) 

        and other quests seeking (direct) access to a rune.


             Meeting the god allows a number of direct benefits,  includ-

        ing  possible direct contact with the rune.  It  always  involves 

        gift giving and challenges.  For the inner members of a religion, 

        the steps and elements of this quest should be well known.


             The  alternative  to visiting a god, the  quest  for  direct 

        access to a rune without a god, always allows direct contact with 

        the rune, even if it does not result in gift giving and challeng-

        es from a god.


             Once  a hero has direct access to a rune, the hero  may  ex-

        press factors and spend will related to that rune by returning to 

        the site of the direct access rather than engaging in  derivative 

        quests.   This  is  often (though not  necessarily)  safer,  more 

        flexible and more direct.  It is a source of immense  flexibility 

        and  benefit to a hero.  A hero who intends to  progress  quickly 

        beyond the beginning hero stage needs direct access to a rune.


             Direct contact with a rune allows a hero to reformulate  the 

        way factors are expressed in a manner different from the patterns 

        a  quest might allow (e.g. all death swords gained via  the  lion 

        god/berserk  have the penalty/marring/disability of inducing  the 

        berserk  rage  whenever one is in combat.  Death  swords  gained/ 

        altered/shifted by direct access to the rune do not require  that 

        limit).   This  grants  a hero a great deal  of  flexibility  and 

        creativity in finding a new expression of the rune and in  build-

        ing the hero's own path and powers.


             There is a down side of sorts.  Direct contact always shifts 

        personality  traits  toward the direction favored  by  the  rune.  

        (Most  runes  have between one and five personality  traits  that 

        they affect.)


             For reference, here are the common trait pairs.  The Fertil-

        ity/Life Rune might affect the following four pairs:


        *Chaste......./.....Lustful     (toward lustful) 


        *Forgiving..../.....Vengeful    (toward forgiving) 

        *Generous...../.....Selfish     (toward generous) 



        *Merciful...../.....Cruel       (toward merciful) 







             A goddess with the Life/Fertility Rune (e.g. Chalana  Arroy) 

        would have the same trait pairs as the rune in addition to one to 

        four pairs that the goddess developed as important on her own.  A 

        total of five of these pairs would apply to her worshippers.


             Direct  contact with runes can shift personality  traits  to 

        the 20/0 limit or beyond, severing the opposing trait.


             Direct  contact also consumes real time.  While  most  hero-

        quests  are only tenuously related to real time, and  while  many 

        can avoid consuming any significant amounts of real time,  during 

        periods  of direct contact, real time passes.  Generally, run  at 

        least one week per point of will expended.


             Passing the portals.  This is the final form of quest  where 

        one  passes  into  the secret ways, gains access  to  the  hidden 

        powers,  and touches the infinity rune.  All of these may  happen 

        in this kind of quest.  It is also a part of the Superhero  Quest 

        or  transfiguration.  The "portals" are the entry to the  unknown 

        beyond figuratively referred to here.





             This  system uses mechanics that allow for balance,  quirks, 

        marring  and the full panoply of everything ever seen in a  myth.  

        While  characters can (and probably will) gain powers  in  almost 

        every  conceivable  fashion, this set of  underlying  rules  will 

        control and balance the characters.


             With these rules you have consistent, complete control  over 

        characters regardless of the campaign or the myths.  At the  same 

        time,  unlimited power is available, just difficult  to  achieve.  

        Anything  in any fantasy novel or boardgame can become a part  of 

        your campaign through these rules.


             The  simulation  of extremely strong  mythic  characters  is 

        possible  and such characters are available in this system.   For 

        example, Arkat Humaktson, the great heroquester can be run  using 

        these  rules.   Arkat  merely used local  heroquest  patterns  to 

        change the powers and abilities he had to match his needs.  (Note 

        he  slowly  gained in net power, often changed powers,  race  and 






             Working on the concept of heroquesting is difficult.   There 

        are  so many myths, texts, beliefs and patterns.   Eliade,  Camp-

        bell, Fraizer and the rest wrote literally hundreds of  thousands 

        of words and scores of books.


             It  is easy to become caught up in an undigested  collection 

        of mythic elements that resist the effort to create  rules.   The 

        undigested process resembles more a card game than anything else.  


             For traditional role playing games, the solution I found was 

        to  create  a set of rules that allowed for everything  to  arise 

        that is found in the myths -- but that did not track the elements 

        of any one group of myths.  I believe the alternative is to place 

        the  mythic forms into board or card game type structures.   Note 

        that  I  suspect that a card game or dungeon tile  sort  of  game 

        based on heroquesting would make a great party activity and would 

        be a solid commercial success.


             With  these  rules, as a result designing rules  that  "made 

        possible"  rather  than  followed myths, these  rules  have  many 

        little  items rather than a few "big archetype" rules.  E.g.  the 

        rules do not have a list of great flaws and a list of powers  for 

        each  great flaw.  Instead, there are powers and it  is  possible 

        (not  inherent) to flaw them.  The key to these rules is  not  in 

        finding the few least common denominators, but instead in finding 

        and including as many of the simplest elements possible.



                              HEROQUEST Chapter III

                            (Miscellaneous Comments)

                                  (Version 2.1)




             These rules are not in any way official or authorized by any 

        game company.  


             This  essay  is Copyright 1991 Stephen R.  Marsh,  with  all 

        rights  reserved, and permission to copy for personal  non-profit 

        use  hereby granted as long as this copyright notice is  properly 

        incorporated in the text.  


             Any  magazine  (especially Tales of the  Reaching  Moon)  is 

        welcome  to use this, and any other essay in this series, as  the 

        basis for discussion of the major elements that make up rules  or 

        to  publish extracts from this, and any other essay in this  ser-



             Given  how busy I've been, any person desiring  to  publish, 

        extract and/or edit any of this essay series is given leave to do 

        so without final approval or review from me.  Editors (especially 

        David  Hall)  are  given full leave and permission  to  edit  and 

        publish in any format (including 16 point reduced line printer).





             This essay consists of miscellaneous comments, most of which 

        are specific to my particular set of rules.  Many are not related 

        to heroquesting.


        O.   THE PLANES


             The God Plane would destroy most characters.  It is the real 

        mythic  reality,  a realm of great force and  difficulty.   While 

        changes made there are more permanent, it is impossible for  non-

        gods to do much.


             One  step  removed from the God Plane is an area  of  strong 

        mythic energy where characters can participate in the mythic acts 

        without being consumed by them.  This is the Hero Plane.


             Note  the  general change in difficulty for  acting  on  the 

        various planes.


        I.   COMBAT


             I  run  combat in pulses.  There are three seconds  to  each 

        pulse, six strike ranks to a second (or eighteen strike ranks  to 

        a pulse).


             A  character may act for as many times as the  strike  ranks 

        allow  (this allows all weapons to be used like RQ  missile  wea-



             Actions  may be rushed, delayed and focused.  One  may  also 



             Rushing is when one rushes an opponent.  It reduces the  SRs 

        created  by distance by 1 for every 10% added to target's  chance 

        to hit the rusher.


             Order  of hitting remains the same (the SRs are reduced  for 

        both  rusher and target).  Common examples of rushing  would  in-

        clude  a  person with a knife who is unable to close  and  attack 

        inside of the SRs allowed in a pulse.


             Rushing may also trade off your chance to hit your  opponent 

        for reduced SRs at the rate of -10% to chance to hit for every SR 



             Delaying  subtracts 5% and 1 SR to the opponent's chance  to 

        hit for every 15% and 1 SR delayed.  (-- the melee equivalent  of 

        a fighting withdrawal).


             Focusing adds 5% to the waiter's chance to hit for every  SR 



             Pushing  combat does not change the SRs.  However,  it  does 

        increase both the chance to hit and the chance to be hit  evenly.  

        E.g.  Assume  both  fighters in a melee are 50% to  hit,  50%  to 

        parry.  Under my unmodified rules they'll have a 0% chance to hit 

        if they do not push.


             Which  is  right.   If you are of equal skill  and  of  good 

        parrying/blocking  ability, you will neither hit nor be hit in  a 

        sparring  match unless you increase the level of risk by  pushing 



             Pushing  is common in more advanced fighters.   For  general 

        purposes I assume that all fighters push 50%.  (Which means  that 

        in  a normal melee, combat is a {skill + d100}% - {100% less  50% 

        pushing}  or d100% + <skill - 50%> rather than d100% +  <skill  - 



             You  may wish to allow pushing for  other  skills/situations 

        and  to limit pushing to the skill had (thus an  individual  with 

        skill 30 could only push to 30).  I do not.



        II.  GODS & TRAITS


        A.   The  list I've given on trait relationships is my  tentative 

        one  for Glorantha.  I've divorced it from Glorantha in my  exam-

        ples to avoid treading on anyone's toes.


             One might better call Rune Traits "Rune Potentials."  


             In  a  percentile system, the potential *10%  is  the  skill 

        limit on the skill.  Given that the limit can be the rune or  one 

        of the control runes (mastery/luck/fate), the practical limit  is 

        generally around 200%.


        B.   Satisfying the Examiners.


             "Satisfying the Examiners" is always an interesting time  in 

        a FRPG.  All of a character's career, adventuring and future goes 

        on the line for one toss of the dice.  


             There  is an alternate that allows for more forecasting  and 

        less reliance on raw dice rolls.


             Each  god  has  five  traits that connect  the  god  to  the 

        worshipers.  When the worshiper's five appropriate traits are  at 

        15  or above, the god receives the magic points given in  worship 

        at  100%.  For each trait below 15, reduce the efficiency by  20% 

        (so that with no traits at 15, no effective worship is received).


             ["Waste" magic points can be used locally, to strengthen the 

        channel  and  for a number of other matters -- they just  do  not 

        flow naturally to the god.]


             Satisfying the examiners should come down to the following:


        1)   does  the  candidate have the proper  physical  requirements 

        (the five skills at 95%, the minimum power requirements, etc.)?


        2)   does  the candidate have the proper background in the  group 

        (the background knowledge, tithes paid, service rendered, etc.)?


        3)   does  the candidate have the right spirit inside  them  (the 

        proper traits)?


             When  the  total of the parts of the three  areas  passes  a 

        certain threshold, the examiners should accept the candidate.  If 

        the total falls below a certain level, rejection should be fairly 

        likely.   Chance should only come into play when a  character  is 

        presented prior to being fully qualified.


             In addition, a candidate that has the right traits and  that 

        comes  close  to the god should receive a slight  amount  of  the 

        divine power and presence beyond the "regular."


             For a list of Gloranthan Gods & their traits/potentials, see 

        David Dunham's excellent lists.


        C.   Misc. Matters


             Generally,  Dark  overcomes Air,  completing  the  elemental 

        pentagram.   "Of course" Orlanth overcame Dark, but then  Orlanth 

        obtained weapons made of fire (his spear).


             Melds,  derivatives,  etc. are important  for  a  conceptual 

        understanding of runes.  They can be ignored otherwise.


             Rune Factors are usually gained by cult membership.  A  rune 

        factor used to gain a mastery over a particular heroquest  reward 

        can  be  freed by giving up the power/ability, etc.  tied  to  or 

        controlled by the factor.




             These are rules notes covering a limited portion of my house 

        rules and an additional form of magic.  This is only a sketch  of 

        a part of the rules covering wizardry.


             Wizardry is a school of magic found in Shattered Norns  that 

        is related to the speaking of elemental languages of power.  Each 

        school  of  wizardry has a language, a form of  incantation  (the 

        speaking  of the language for magical effect), a patron (a  leman 

        of one of the Norns), and an affiliate race.  


             Most human wizards (and several other magic-using endeavors) 

        use  a form of magical matrix known as a spirit  shirt.   Wizards 

        were  the  first  to use them and  spirit  shirts  are  generally 

        thought of in connection with Wizards in Shattered Norns.


        Spirit Shirts  




             Most  wizards  use spirit shirts, also  known  as  Elovare's 

        gift.   With a spirit shirt a man can work wizardry like  one  of 

        the  high kindreds.  A spirit shirt has power bound into  it  and 

        can also (with the use of magically enchanted threads) be used to 

        bind spirits.


             The basic spirit shirt is made of sea silk and often heavily 

        embroidered.   It covers an area about the size of a  man's  long 

        sleeve  dress shirt.  To be effective it must contact a  signifi-

        cant  amount of bare skin and the potential five elements.   Wiz-

        ards  are  often conspicuous in bad weather for  being  protected 

        from the rain or snow by nothing but a fancy shirt.


             The spirit shirt is usually the gift of choice to an appren-

        tice wizard at first initiation.  The point of power and will  to 

        initialize  the shirt must come from the recipient, the  cost  is 

        usually repaid by the apprenticeship and the ritual is  performed 

        by the master.


             Certain races do not need spirit shirts.  The high  kindreds 

        and the couranth are natural magic workers.  The Tiev are  burned 

        by  the touch of the living enchanted silk (d3/sr). The fey  folk 

        can  choose  to become magically attuned (and  vulnerable  to  x2 

        damage from iron), thus not needing spirit shirts.  


             Magically  attuned fey folk have the benefit of not  needing 

        to  be exposed to the five elements to work magic without  penal-





             A spirit shirt extends the basic range of spells from a  the 

        "touch"  range  of one tenth of charisma (in meters) to  a  range 

        equal to charisma (in meters).  Charisma is determined by (POW  + 

        APP)/2 if Appearance and not Charisma is used in the campaign.


             [In Shattered Norns, all spells have sharply reduced  ranges 

        that  are brought up to around the normal RUNEQUESTIII ranges  by 

        the wearing of a spirit shirt,]


             Spell  durations  are doubled and the basic  spell  cost  is 

        divided by a factor of five for a wearer of a spirit shirt.


             A  spirit shirt adds the POW bound into it into any  POW  v. 

        POW  struggle involving the wearer and has magic points equal  to 

        POW (the shirt is similar to a shaman's fetch in practice).


             A spirit shirt is a personalized magical matrix that can  be 

        used  by another only if freely given and renamed by  the  giver.  

        It is an extremely rare gift and most wizards are buried in their 



        Basics of Wizardry


             Wizardry  is  practiced by learning the  relevant  language, 

        being  dedicated  the  correct patron, being  familiar  with  the 

        element, and taking the affiliate race as a totem.


             chart of basics 


        Element // Incantation // Patron  // Affiliate Race


        Air//aeromancy//Nial the adroit/Arens the Hunter//Eagles/Roc

        Water//okeomancy//L'neara/Orman Ts'goth//sidh rishae

        Earth//geomancy//Azeal/Kazedan the Stunted//Condors

        Fire//pyromancy//Haran/Wakanda the Sun Spirit//Phoenix

        Dark/skotomancy//Adeth/Neth Hadeth Reaver//Halcyon


             description of spell elements 


             Spells are words made from magically resonate word fragments 

        (roughly equivalent to consonants).  


             Each spell consists of a number of fragments equal to (spell 

        percentage/10).   The spell is cast by bringing the name  to  the 

        center of the mind (a specific mental state), speaking the  word, 

        and then releasing the spell with the proper hand gestures.


             Each fragment takes a strike rank to properly pronounce less 

        one  strike  rank for every 20% of incantation skill.  Thus  a  9 

        fragment  spell would take 9 strike ranks to pronounce, less  one 

        strike rank per 20% of skill (so with a skill of 100% there would 

        be a five strike rank reduction in time).


             A wizardling has an incantation skill equal to his knowledge 

        of  the specific language of power.  She casts spells  using  the 

        following formula:


        Base chance of success = Incantation skill


        +10% per extra strike rank spent pronouncing the spell


        -10% for each strike rank omitted pronouncing the spell


        -xx%  (a  percentage equal to the difficulty of factors  that  go 

        into the spell).  (See the discussion below).


        Base range = .1 meters x charisma <(POW + APP)/2>

             1 meter x charisma with spirit shirt.


        Base cost in magic points = %tiles of difficulty

             1 magic point/5%tiles of difficulty with spirit shirt.


        Degrees of Difficulty 


             The  following are the degrees of difficulty for  the  basic 

        attributes of the various elements:



        5%   Feel/Emotion

        10%  Appearance/Illusion

        15%  Intuitive Attribute

        20%  Substance

        25%  Overt Attribute

        30%  Overt Emotion

        35%  Extension

        40%  Intensification

        45%  Shaping

        50%  Transposition

        55%  Animation

        60%  Meshing

        65%  Invocation

        70%  Quell

        75%  Retain

        80%  Banish

        85%  Bind

        90%  Hold/Enchant

        95%  Force

        100% Reverse

        105% Birth/Enchant

        110% Countering


        Spell Families 


        Seidh (Dark Magics)


             Shaed (Air Magics)


             Goefa (Water Magics)


             Gipta (Earth Magics)


             Waeil (Fire Magics)


             Waeil  is  set out somewhat to provide an  example.   It  is 

        titled with the name of the magic, the language (both the  analog 

        that I use and the proper name), the patron, the allied race  and 

        the rote name of the magic.


             Waeil  //  (Latin/flamespeach) // (Haran) Wakanda  (the  Sun 

        Spirit) // Phoenix Kindred // Pyromancy.


             The  above  was  the title.  Following are  the  degrees  of 

        difficulty for fire magics.


        5%   The  feel of the element fire is a joy/warmth that  enhances 

        charisma (the APP attribute).  Anyone who knows firespeech to  5% 

        can  feel  fire at "touch" range.  At 5% complexity one  may  in-

        crease charisma by one size point of feel (+1 to APP).


             An  increase of 5 to APP would be five size points  of  feel 

        (or 5 x 5% = 25% difficulty).


             The  feel of fire lasts until one is covered by darkness  or 



        10%  The illusion/appearance of fire is light.  A volume of light 

        will illuminate (d6) x (touch range) in area.  


             For  example, assume a three was rolled on a d6  and  assume 

        that the touch range established by charisma (the average of  POW 

        and APP -- 16 in our example) results in 3 x 163 or 12,000 meters 

        cubed.   In  increments of 3 meters x 10m2 that is 40  ten  meter 

        lengths of hallway illuminated until the light is consumed.


             The lengths will remain illuminated for d6 hours per  volume 

        (i.e.  if the light is laid on "double thick" on a  length,  then 

        the light will last for 2d6 hours, etc.).


        15%  The intuitive nature of fire is knowledge.  Fire can be used 

        to  discern or to detect magical energy.  The complexity  of  the 

        detection and analysis is 15% + 5% per point of power bound  into 

        the item.  


             Thus  an  item with 3 points of power bound  into  it  would 

        require  at  least 30% of difficulty in the  detection  spell  in 

        order to analyze.


        20%  The  substance of fire is fire.  20% is the basic  level  of 

        difficulty  in  invoking a fire anywhere within  touch  range  of 

        anything  ready to burst into flame (e.g. a prepared  fire,  kin-

        dling,  lighter fluid, lamp oil).  25% for dry, but not  prepared 

        (e.g. dry fire wood, charcoal).  70% to start metals on fire.


             If  a  material would not normally sustain a fire  the  fire 

        started will go out after 2 SR.


        25%  The overt attribute of fire is heat.  The magic effect using 

        this principle is to summon flame.  Anywhere within "touch,"  1d6 

        (one  size point) worth of elemental fire in the shape  of  flame 

        appears  and  remains  for  two  SR  (doing  1d6  per  SR,  armor 

        protects).  That is twenty-five magic points (five with a  spirit 

        shirt), 25% complexity.


        30%  The overt emotion of fire is lust.  Lust is an  overpowering 

        desire that is incapacitating in its aftermath.  A volume of lust 

        has 1d6 points.  It lasts for 2SR and then incapacitates (similar 

        to  befuddle or fear in effect) the target for d4 SR  per  point. 

        (i.e. 1d6 x d4 SR or about one melee round)


        35%  The  extension factor is the same for all elements.   35%  + 

        (X-1)5% for X times to range.  Thus, to triple the range (X =  3) 

        is  to add 35% + 10% or 45% to complexity (and nine magic  points 

        to cost if using a spirit shirt).


        40%  The  intensification  factor is the same for  all  elements.  

        40% + (X - 1)5% for +X volumes.  Thus three volumes of heat would 

        add  40%  +  (3-1)5% or 50% to the complexity of  a  summon  heat 

        spell.  It would add 10 magic points to the cost of a heat  spell 

        to summon three volumes instead of one.


        45%  The shaping factor is the same for all elements.  Shaping an 

        element  requires some of the element, space to shape it  in  and 

        has a difficulty factor of 45% + (5% per cubic meter of substance 



             A  shape  lasts until the energy is  consumed  by  attrition 

        (including  violent attrition).  Shapes have the  appearance  and 

        feel of their element.


             E.g. a wall of heat.  9 one meter cubes (for a total  energy 

        of 9d6) would have a difficulty of 90%, a cost of 90 magic points 

        (18  if  using a spirit shirt).  It would last until it  did  9d6 

        worth  of  damage, doing d6 per turn in "damage" to  the  general 

        attritioning environment (more if a rainstorm, etc. makes contact 

        with it).


        50%  Complex Transposition has the same factor for each  element.  

        Transposition  turns one volume of raw, mixed  elements  (approx-

        imately  six kilograms worth) into one volume of the chosen  mode 

        of the element.  


             For example, one could turn one size point of a man into one 

        volume  of charisma (the feel of the element) at 50% (the  diffi-

        culty  of  transposition)  + 5% (the difficulty of  the  feel  of 



             Use  of  the pure element consumes it.  A  man  turned  into 

        charisma could waste away by charming people, a woman turned into 

        heat could waste away burning enemies.  


             This effect can be reversed.


        55%  Animated Shaping is the same for all elements.  This  allows 

        a  wizardling  to take volumes of the element and give  them  the 

        power  to  move freely or at the  wizardling's  command.   Unless 

        given  intelligence,  a  shaping will be  mindless  --  requiring 

        direct command and attention.


             The shaping complexity is 5% per cubic meter shaped, 5%  per 

        meter it may move every 5 SR, and a base of 55%.


             Thus,  to  animate three cubic meters at 6  meters  movement 

        every  5  SR  would take 55% + 15% (3 cubic meters)  +  30%  (for 

        movement)  or 100% complexity and 100 magic points (or  20  magic 

        points if a spirit shirt is used).


             While  the wizardling concentrates he or she will  see  what 

        the shaping could see and feel what it could feel, commanding  it 

        to  move  as they could their own body.   When  concentration  is 

        released  the shaping will wander at random for d3  melee  rounds 

        and then attempt to return to the shaper.


             All shapings attrition by contact.


        60%  Meshing  with the element allows the wizardling to mesh with 

        and  pass  through barriers made of the specific element  and  to 

        move unaffected by the element.


             The complexity is 60% + (5% per size point meshed) + (diffi-

        culty  of meshed mode).  Thus for a wizardling of size 6 to  mesh 

        with a wall of heat or walk across a volcano would be 60% + 30% + 

        25% or 115% total complexity.


             Meshing lasts until the wizardling decides to unmesh.


        65%  Invocation invokes a spirit of the element into a volume  of 

        the element.  Volumes of the mode must be prepared and the wizar-

        dling  must concentrate.  For each volume the  invoked  elemental 

        spirit has 6 points of body or effect.


             For  a ten volume elemental spirit of heat it is 65% +  (50% 

        for ten volumes) + (25% for heat) or 140%.  The spirit has POW of 

        3d6 and Int of 2d3.  


             An  invoked elemental can follow one order per point of  INT 

        and each order given requires a POW v POW check to impose.


             The  elemental fire spirit in heat mode, given above,  would 

        be able to do 60 points of damage before it dissipated (6  points 

        per volume of size) and would be a fearsome invocation.


        70%  Quelling  is  the  dissolution of wizardry  created  by  the 

        weaker  element.  Fire quells dark, dark quells air,  air  quells 

        earth,  earth quells water, water quells fire.  It is a  form  of 



             For  every 5% of difficulty in quelling, 10% of  the  weaker 

        elemental  magic is quelled.  Thus by using a quelling of  water, 

        that 140% difficulty heat elemental in the above example could be 

        quelled with a 70% difficulty quelling.


        75%  Retaining  an element holds it in place for a longer  period 

        of time.  To retain add 75% to the difficulty plus 5% per SR  the 

        spell  is held.  (Note that a spirit shirt doubles the amount  of 

        time a wizardry spell remains and that all retaining effects  are 

        also doubled/at half price using such a shirt).


             Thus to hold an flame spell for an extra SR (two if using  a 

        spirit  shirt) would take 75% + 5% + the complexity of the  spell 



             Retention is always a part of the spell as cast, not someth-

        ing grafted on later to a spell in progress.


        80%  Banishment  


        85%  Binding elemental spirits


        90%  Holding power.


        95%  Applied force


        100% Reversing  


        105% Rebirth  


        110% Countering   


             The  above  portion  of the essay is  still  incomplete  and 

        parallels  zines in The Wild Hunt published from 1980 to 1982  or 






             Serious play indicates that a few more trait pairs might  be 

        a  good  thing  to use.  I am collecting  possible  trait  pairs, 

        reducing ones that duplicate (dominant//passive is about the same 

        as vigorous//slothful), and thinking the total over.


             Rune related presence as a part of traits is important as it 

        affects powers and abilities.




             It  may be time to settle on some basic trait  packages.   I 

        have my elemental packages (reflected in the Wizardry rules).  It 

        seems  that  RUNEQUEST  III generic packages would  be  the  best 

        starting point, tailored to fit particular pantheons, gods, etc.


             David Dunham suggests the following for (Pen)Dragon Pass:



        ARGAN ARGAR    energetic, selfish, honest, indulgent, trusting

        KYGER LITOR    vengeful, selfish, cruel, proud, indulgent

        XIOLA UMBAR    forgiving, generous, just, merciful, trusting

        ZORAK ZORAN    valorous, vengeful, arbitrary, cruel, indulgent



        ALDRYA    modest, suspicious, lustful, pious, valorous

        ASRELIA   selfish, deceitful, temperate, worldly, modest

        BARBEESTER GOR energetic, vengeful, valorous, cruel suspicious


             David has more (all the pantheons completely charted).




             "What about Masters of Luck and Death?"


             Masters of Luck and Death.  I've seen artwork and advertise-

        ments  for it.  I've seen comments on the game and I've seen  the 

        promises for it to be commercially distributed.  While it may not 

        be  for  sale (and appears never to have been for sale),  I  have 

        good reason to believe that playable versions of the game exist.


             "Should it be Lunar Elementals or Moon Elementals?"


             Cults  of Prax, page 39 states "source of the Lunes  of  the 

        pantheon."   Page 43 "summon small lune."  "Lunes are Lunar  ele-



             My  campaign  does not have Moon as an element.   Note  that 

        Moon  or  Lunar is outside of the  classic  Gloranthan  elemental 



             "Can Trait Packages be used for Religious Virtue Packages?"


             YES!!!  Trait packages are =~ religious virtue tables.


             "3d6 really isn't the same as d100% or d20 is it?"


             %tage  and  d20 systems are linear.  3d6  systems  are  bell 

        curved  (normal).  In many ways the systems differ.  A 1 on a  20 

        is  not the same as a 3 on 3d6.  The one is 1/20.  The  other  is 



             However, the systems are remarkably translatable because  of 

        the  presence  of flattening factors.  A +4  sword  flattens  the 

        normal curve.


             Also,  in my personal system, I equate  cautious  approaches 

        with  increased normalization of results,  aggressive  approaches 

        with increased flatness.


             E.g.  berserks  would  roll d20, normal  fighters  2d10  and 

        cautious  men  at arms 3d6.  On a 1 and 20 klutz/critical  hit  a 

        berserk has an unusual result one in ten times.  A normal fighter 

        one in 100 times.  A man-at-arms never (he never rolls less  than 

        3 or more than 18).


             You  can  approximate these factors at almost  every  level.  

        d6/2d3/3d2;  d12/2d6/3d4; d20/2d10/3d6; d30/2d15/3d10;  d50/2d25/ 

        3d12;  d100/2d50/3d30; etc.  With a calculator or  more  flexible 

        dice  it is possible to hit the factors right on the nose  rather 

        than using convenient approximizations.


             "Isn't Drepnirquest hard to begin?" 


             [Drepnirquest is a sample heroquest.]


             Well, the two usual ways to begin Drepnirquest are:


        (a)  find  an excuse to be admitted as a lay member of  Yelmalio.  

        Easy ones are serving as a scout for a mercenary Yelmalio  compa-

        ny, seeking special training, and being in Sunland during a  holy 

        festival or celebration.


        (b)  get  involved  in the yearly or great (7th)  year  contests.  

        This is easy, just dangerous.


             "Can't people in most religions touch the infinite without a 



             YES!!!  In most religious systems, mortals "take part in the 

        infinite and supra-rational world" by means of sacred time  ritu-

        als.  That is the entire point of most sacraments.


             But  to touch the infinite and bring back power useful in  a 

        game setting -- now that takes a heroquest.


             In  any properly run experienced campaign, force points  are 

        unnecessary  as the play run will controll force, player  points, 

        will,  rune  factors and the like.  However,  player  points  and 

        force  points  are a useful concept when  beginning  a  heroquest 

        campaign if no skilled and heroquest experienced GM is available.


             "Can  you just use WILL/glory and forget about  force/player 



             YES!!  Note that fixed, pooled and free expressions of runes 

        differ  by  how much flexibility vs power  each  offers.   (Fixed 

        provides maximum power and minimum flexibility.  


             Free provides maximum flexibility and minimum power.)


             Feel free to vary the amount of WILL a character starts with 

        and  the  amount  of WILL available from  various  activities  to 

        provide more (or less) will to play with.


             "Do  mundane  activities  lead to losses  of  WILL,  Spirit, 



             Not usually, except that in a player point campaign any  and 

        all character improvements (e.g. training up 5% in a skill,  rune 

        magic, etc.) cost player points.


             "Who were the Red Goddess' parents?"


             I  never thought about who had that stillborn child.   Prob-

        ably a child of the Earth fathered by Chaos or Disorder?  I don't 

        know.  The almost stillborn Blue Moon might give a clue.


             "What about Pendragon in Glorantha?"


             David  Dunham  runs  a so-called  Pendragon  Pass  campaign.  

        Pendragon in Glorantha was my initial starting point for explain-

        ing Heroquests in this series of essays.


             In fact, David Dunham is an excellent authority on a  number 

        of things Gloranthan and Pendragon.


             "Who was the first heroquester?"


             Some say Gilgamesh, some say "me" (lots of people think they 

        are  the  first heroquester), but in Glorantha,  the  first  true 

        heroquester  was Orlanth who began the Lightbringer's Quest.   In 

        it  he sought to bind a pattern of power to his need.  He  dupli-

        cated this feat when he tried to create the new god.


             Amoung  mortals,  Arkat was the first to  heroquest  as  the 

        heroquest (rather than as ritual, etc.).  He saw the patterns and 

        the ways and conceptually put it together.


             In addition, the God Learners combined agressive  heroquest-

        ing  with  hideously irresponsible magic.   They  poisoned  much.  

        However, The "mothers" of the Red Moon revived heroquesting  from 

        a lull as did Sartar, Harreck and others.  The hero wars were the 

        natural outcome of this revival.


             The  world  was overrun with individuals  braving  the  hero 

        trail and reopening paths that had been dormant for an age.   The 

        gods (Orlanth and the old powers versus Yelm and the new  powers) 

        brought it all to a head with their conflict at Dragon Pass.


             "Misc."   Read Steve Maurer's rules.  Reading and  comparing 

        the two sets of rules often helps individuals understand both.





             This  chapter is really a catch-all.  The current  draft  is 

        very  much a rough and ragged item, filled with spots where  more 

        information  and more writing is needed.  It is my intent to  use 

        this essay as a place to answer questions, add notes, include new 

        or further rules and to update the previous two essays.


             That way I can avoid massive changes in the material that is 

        in  final circulation form (HEROQUEST I and HEROQUEST  II)  while 

        still improving and defining that material.


             Unfortunately,  while  I had a lull and some free  time  and 

        energy and I've used them all.  This is it for a while.



                              HEROQUEST Chapter IV


        March 18, 1991



        The RuneQuest Magazine

        21 Stephenson Court

        Osborne Street


        SL1 1TN


        Attn David Hall


        Dear Dave:


             Thank  you  for  the copies of your fanzine,  TALES  OF  THE 

        REACHING  MOON, The RuneQuest Magazine.  It is vital, alive,  and 

        up  to  the  writing and editing standards  of  Different  Worlds 

        before  that magazine ceased production.  Given time, growth  and 

        cash flow, I have no doubt you'll surprise yourself.  


             I  can (and will) gladly recommend you anyone interested  in 

        either  Runequest, Heroquest or Glorantha.  In fact, I  took  the 

        liberty  of  forwarding the copies you sent me to  reviewers  and 

        others I thought might have an interest in what you are doing.


             That is because you are doing an excellent job of  providing 

        a  forum  for good Gloranthan materials.  I do not  know  of  any 

        comparable forum.  Looking at Ab Chaos, it appears that  Chaosium 

        knows  of no other comparable forum.  You are probably unique  in 

        both worlds.


             Praise  of  your  publication aside, this letter  is  a  few 

        comments about heroquesting, my essays and some fans and authors.


                    ***************some authors*************


             First,  in  design work, I think it would be  hard  to  beat 

        Sandy Petersen, Lawrence Shick and Scott Bennie.   Unfortunately, 

        all three currently are employed by computer game companies  that 

        pay them well.  However, all three have had some exposure to  the 

        concepts and background on heroquesting -- especially Sandy.


             If you can't talk to Greg Stafford, Sandy Petersen seems, to 

        me,  to  be the next best bet, followed by  Steve  Maurer.   Phil 

        Davis is also worth a try if you are in the Maryland area.   John 

        Sapienza,  Jr.  can  not recommend him highly  enough.   Phil  is 

        currently running heroquests on a steady FRPG basis.


                    **************my essays*****************


             Second, my essays are very unformed.  What happened is  that 

        after years of silence on the topic of Heroquesting, I decided to 

        do  a simple Heroquest system for use with the  Pendragon  rules.  

        Not  enough  good things can be said about  Pendragon,  a  system 

        naturally aligned for heroquesting at every level.  Most scenario 

        packs  for  Pendragon contain multiple mundane  level  heroquests 

        with good examples of branching and complex interactions.  


             In addition, Greg Stafford is going to do the Quest for  the 

        Holy Grail, a central western european quest equal to the  Golden 

        Bough for significance and import.


             Anyway,  having adopted heroquesting to Pendragon, I put  my 

        essay  in The Wild Hunt (also known as TWH), a fanzine I used  to 

        participate  in.  I've gafiated from TWH, but still think of  TWH 

        fondly.   The essay was short, but it hit the basic spots  fairly 

        well.   I did my best to put the core rules into a  terse,  short 



             Then,  over October, December and early January (the  tradi-

        tional "slack" months for American trial lawyers), I corresponded 

        with a few people over their comments and advice.  It seems  that 

        several  people had read the essay and had comments.   The  spare 

        time,  combined  with the feedback I received,  resulted  in  the 

        current  Heroquest I, II and III essays in the format  that  they 

        now have.


             Those  essays are much closer to my own heroquesting  system 

        and  far away from the Pendragon based system I derived and  pub-

        lished in TWH.  


             In the final essays, I owe a great deal to both David Dunham 

        and  David Hall for their comments.  In some ways I suspect  that 

        David Dunham can be assumed to know more about the essays than  I 

        do.   His questions and comments made all the difference  in  the 

        world  and  pointed out concerns and game areas that I  had  com-

        pletely subsumed or overlooked.


                    ***********answering questions**********


             Third,  in answer to some questions and analogies I've  been 

        shown,  I  have the following comments on the essays and  what  I 

        understand of Glorantha.  It is not much (I constantly  misappre-

        hended Gloranthan themes), but it is what I have to offer.


             While the gods are self-modifying code, the runes are pretty 

        stable.  Stability is the point of having runes, change the point 

        in  RQ style gods.  With that esoteric point (all my essays  seem 

        to  have one) out of the way, I'll move on to the  most  commonly 

        *??huh??* sections of my essays and the most common answers  I've 

        given to questions about those sections.


             That  is,  I'll  explain the  derivative,  meld,  co-decant, 

        descender,  etc.  business better.  (That is the biggest  of  the 

        *??huh??*  points  the essays seem to have). (I'll  also  explain 

        other points).


             That  derivative,  meld, etc. part was not  intended  to  be 

        esoteric.   There  are  differences and reasons  for  the  names.  

        Conceptually I felt the details to be important.


             Note that a sub-rune that is a meld of one rune is  probably 

        a  co-decant of the other (the words, while describing  the  same 

        thing,  describe a different relationship of the derived rune  to 

        the  parent, as important the difference in our  culture  between 

        being a parent with custody of a child or just having  visitation 

        rights).   In pragmatic, game play applications, this some  times 

        makes  a difference (e.g. STEAM has the WATER bonus vs FIRE  even 

        though it comes from both families).


             Here  is  my go at a better explanation.   This  explanation 

        follows the chart I provided in the essay.


             There  is the Rune.  (Also called the Primary Rune  on  that 

        Rune's family tree).  (e.g. FIRE).


             The  Rune has Aspects.  Aspects are direct parts of a  rune.  

        E.g. FIRE's Aspects are Heat and Light.


             The Aspect equivilent of an Aspect is a Descender. For Light 

        that might include Color.


             Things  made from a Descender or an Aspect  are  Derivatives 

        (they  are derived).  With Fire that is basically  anything  that 

        fits  under  the Fire Rune, including  the  appropriate  emotion, 

        personality trait(s), etc.


             Melds are Derivatives made with the Rune and another Rune(s) 

        that  fall within the domain of the Primary Rune.  (Sort of  like 

        children of which the Primary Rune has custody).  (In  Glorantha, 

        Ice is a Meld of the Cold Aspect of Dark and of Water).


             Co-Decants  are Melds of other Runes.  Generally,  the  only 

        Co-Decants  on  a Rune's chart are major ones that are  close  to 

        Aspect level.  Steam is a good example of a Co-Decant of Fire,  a 

        Meld of Water.  


             (Or Ice as a Co-Decant of Water, a Meld of Water.  Note that 

        Fire has an advantage against Ice {as a part of Dark} rather than 

        a weakness vs Ice {as a part of Water}.  The differences are real 

        and important.  The sunlight melts ice rather than being overcome 

        by it; steam extinguishes fire).


             That  is  what my chart attempted to portray.  I  had  hoped 

        that  my picture would be worth a thousand words.  It looks  like 

        fewer  than  a thousand words were necessary -- but  without  the 



             Next, let us address skills, perfection and decimal systems.


             In  looking at the way my essays address these  issues,  you 

        should  note  that I am greatly affected by the  early  RUNEQUEST 



             Thus my rules refer to skill over 95% as a sort of limit  or 

        cut off point.  That is a hold over from the 5% increment  stuff.  

        Over 95% = perfection (since 96-00 was always failure, regardless 

        of  skill, 95% was as good as it got).  Feel free to modify  that 

        to fit the Runequest rules you use.


             Next, what about personality traits, rune traits, etc.


             It seems that I created some confusion with language.  I did 

        not mean to.  I had hoped to make things easier to understand  by 

        using words with parallel applications for the meanings; that is, 

        to  use the same words for the rune rules as for the  personality 



             In  a  game sense, rune traits (better called  "rune  poten-

        tials") are things that compare in physical terms to the color of 

        a  person's eyes, the size of their muscles, the speed  of  their 

        brain, all of which may or may not have a game impact.  


             Many rune traits (read "potentials") never have any signifi-

        cant  impact on one character and, yet may have  significant  im-

        pacts  on others.  Mathematical ability impacts engineers a  good 

        deal  differently from chess players or professional boxers.   So 

        it is with (for example) the fertility rune potential of a  char-



             High rune traits mean the capacity for high rune factors and 

        for high related skills.  They directly express magical relation-

        ships  and  limits.  In this fashion they become  necessary  game 

        mechanics.   For the future, always call Rune Traits Rune  Poten-

        tials.  It is a better term and avoids confusing Rune  Potentials 

        with Personality Traits.


             Rune  factors point the way a character may go when  exposed 

        to  heroquest  situations.  (Kind of like  mathmatical  training.  

        Not  very relevant to most hack and slash games, it is  still  an 

        important factor about someone and relevant in the right  circum-

        stances).   Rune factors tell you what the character  has  avail-



             In many campaigns, the GM may wish to keep all the personal-

        ity  traits, rune potentials and rune factors on his or  her  own 

        records  rather  than letting the players have  exact  knowledge.  

        Much of the Heroquest is self discovery.


             The  most  common use of potentials --  calculating  maximum 



             To figure out the maximum skill (e.g. for sex  {courtesan}), 

        take  the appropriate rune potential (fertility) and multiply  it 

        by  1 (for d6 systems) or by 5 or 10 (for %tile  systems).   Then 

        you  may  add the active member of the  fate/luck/mastery  group.  

        (Note that in a rune triangle only one member can rise above  10, 

        both of the other members limit themselves).


             Secondary point.


             Yes, fate/luck/mastery.


             There are three ways to relate to the world.  They are fate, 

        luck and mastery.  Priests, Magicians and Fighters seem to follow 

        those  runes  in  that order, though there is no  hard  and  fast 

        connection.  Dragon Pass was filled with Mastery oriented  heros, 

        the Holy Land with Luck guided questors and the Lunar Empire  was 

        often controlled by Fate.


             Mastery overcomes fate.  Fate swallows up luck.  Luck conqu-

        ers mastery.


             The triangle element of the relationship aside, these  runes 

        are  master control runes.  That is, Mastery (control  by  self), 

        Luck  (control  by  random  forces),  Fate  (control  by  outside 

        forces), each dominant results and ability to act in the world.


             All success or alteration in the world can be attributed  to 

        forces working in one of these three paths.


             In game terms there are three ways to approach this concept.


             First, you can limit any skill to the maximum of the  appro-

        priate  rune  potential or the highest  control  rune  potential, 

        whichever is higher.  This limits mortals to relatively low skill 

        maximums.   In a 5% (potential x 5) system, most mortals will  be 

        limited  at somewhere between 60 and 95% on most skills  --  even 

        with  cultic affiliations.  Even a 10% system leaves the  charac-

        ters limited.


             Second,  you  can  add the control rune limit  to  the  rune 

        potential limit (e.g. if Luck was the high rune, and if Luck  was 

        12  and  Fertillity was 16, then, in a d6 system,  courtesan  sex 

        would  be  limited by a 28 rather than the 12 or the  16).   This 

        leads to higher limits.


             Third,  you can use the second method and you can  also  add 

        the  control rune's active factors to all skills.  E.g.  if  Fate 

        had  8 active factors, then all skill use would be at +8 for  the 

        results.  This bonus would apply only on the mundane plane,  with 

        some limited application in the gray zone.  Areas outside of time 

        are also outside of Luck, Mastery and Fate to a great extent.


             Note  that many magician and other heroquest/godquest  level 

        boardgame units focused heavily on a control rune (e.g. Mastery).  

        It's impact in results could easily explain that focus.


             The Third option requires strong limits and controls on  how 

        control  rune factors are activated or made available.   However, 

        it does explain the somewhat "universal" abilities heros seem  to 

        have  on  the  mundane plane, while being  limited  on  the  hero 



             On David Dunham:


             Important  works by David Dunham include his Pendragon  Pass 

        rules (running Glorantha as a Pendragon campaign rather than as a 

        RUNEQUEST  one)  and his Twelve World's campaign.   He  has  some 

        interesting RUNEQUEST Cyberpunk rules, camera ready.


             If  you want a "magic returns," near future setting (and  do 

        not  want to switch outside of Chaosium products), you  can't  go 



             On copies and uses of my essays:


             I have only 31" MS DOS floppies available right now and  not 

        much  time.   I'd prefer not to mail any more  floppies  out.   I 

        won't mail out hard copy.  If you can, please copy from a friend.




             Anything  from my Heroquest essays on a floppy is fair  game 

        to  copy  and distribute in any fashion or method you  desire  as 

        long as credit is given.  You can print the floppy's contents  in 

        fanzines, cut out parts and use them for comparisons, make copies 

        of the floppies and pass them around, or make photocopies.  


             I  especially  want the Heroquest essays passed  around  and 

        will  try to respond, time and my trial schedule  permitting,  to 

        letters.  This license to free copy is extended from this date to 

        February 15, 1992.




             Again, feel free to copy from anyone with a floppy or a hard 

        copy of the essays.


             Note  that there are at least 15 different versions  of  the 

        essays floating about.  Some of these are heavily Gloranthanized, 

        some  are  completely clean.  Some are very Pendragon,  some  are 

        not.  Some are RUNEQUEST compatable, some are only in my personal 

        d6 system.


             I only have the latest versions (clean {i.e. non Gloranthan} 

        ones)  on floppy and no hard copies at all.  The way to  get  the 

        early versions and examples is to bum a copy from someone who has 



             If  you've got a copy (and are that someone), feel  free  to 

        share it!  




             Fourth, the essays are a work in progress.  Lots of  changes 

        have  been made between versions.  Also, each  essay  supplements 

        the one before it.  Read the essays in order, looking for answers 

        and for corrections.


             Many things that look senseless, silly or crocked make sense 

        or  are explained in later essays or in this letter.   Even  this 

        letter has had many versions(!).


                    *********about the competition**********


             Fifth,  anyone and everyone interested in this area of  play 

        should get as many different types of heroquest rules as they can 

        find and compare the rules for insights.  Steve Mauer has a  set, 

        Sandy  Petersen has his own rules, I have mine and Chaosium  will 

        (some day) have official ones.  


             Phil Davis probably has his own rules and modifications  and 

        I  think that David Hall is putting together notes on  design  it 

        yourself heroquest rules.


             Reading  the different rules sheds a great deal of light  on 

        what  each of the authors is trying to accomplish and  what  each 

        author means.


             There  is an incredible amount of interesting stuff  in  the 

        discards,  prior  versions, mistakes made, and wrong  turns  that 

        each  system  went  through.  The rules bear  reading,  even  the 

        abandoned ones.


                    *************mining the fanzines********


             Sixth, there is a surprising amount of old Gloranthan relat-

        ed materials floating around in old Judges Guild Journals,  Quick 

        Quincy  Gazettes, The Dungeoneers, The Wild Hunt and Alarums  and 

        Excursions.  They can be a gold mine and include Uleria cults and 

        all other matter of minutia or divertia.


                    **********misc. inclusions**************


             Seventh,  the  Wizardry rules section copied over  into  the 

        HEROQUEST  III  essay, exhibits and demonstrates a good  deal  of 

        analysis of the attributes and characteristics of the  particular 

        rune  used  for  the example.  My Shattered  Norns  campaign  had 

        extensive  use  of runes permeating all levels of  reality  (e.g. 

        each constellation was a runic configuration).  


             If you can find copies of Views from Elaikases Tower, my old 

        personalzine,  there is a lot on runes -- much of it ten or  more 

        years old.


                    *****the inside information ************


             Finally,  Chaosium used to keep a  Heroquest  correspondence 

        file  from selected individuals.  Anders Swenson said he  learned 

        more about Heroquest from reading some of the letters than from a 

        year of play.  If you can, get copies of the letter file or  talk 

        with people who have read it.




             Thats  the  best advice I have.  Not just to  Tales  of  the 

        Reaching Moon, but to anyone with more interest in Heroquesting.  



                               HEROQUEST Chapter V


        May 3, 1991


        Greg Stafford, Publisher

        CHAOSIUM, INC.

        950A 56th Street

        Oakland, CA  94608-3129


        RE:  HEROQUEST


        Dear Greg:


             Thank  you for your letter of April 26, 1991.  Reading  your 

        letter and talking with Phil Davis, caused me to reflect on  some 

        points that have been important to me.


             First,  as much as I hate it as an incurable  mini-maxer,  I 

        enjoy game play the most when the mechanics are mostly hidden and 

        my  knowledge is limited to the same (or less) knowledge  had  by 

        the  average person in the milieu.  Not having all the  mechanics 

        before the players seems to increase the sense of exploration and 

        wonder that makes FRPGs worthwhile.


             Second, in running most heroquests, the most important point 

        for  me has always been mapping the structure of the  myth.   The 

        mechanics have always been the least important.  However,


             Third, in presenting the idea of heroquesting to others, the 

        biggest problem/concern/bottleneck for their use of the idea is a 

        lack of concrete mechanics that quantify everything.


             To make an absolutely horrid comparison, in D&D the  largest 

        obstacle to "realistic" adventures was the difficulty the GMs had 

        in  quantifying  the  level of risk and  reward.   The  strongest 

        (only?) thing that dungeon crawling had going for it was the ease 

        of controlling the levels of risk and reward.  


             Dungeon  crawling  thus became a great success  while  other 

        types of adventures took years to become widespread.


             Thus,  my  essays, wherein I attempt to take  a  break  from 

        esoteric and impossible to understand explanations that work only 

        if  you intuitively understand the principals in the first  place 

        -- and that have always been an unfortunate trademark of many  of 

        my prior essays.


             I got started on the current essays playing PENDRAGON.  Most 

        good  scenarios in PENDRAGON are low level, "mundane,"  heroques-

        tish things.  I decided to write a short set of rules to allow  a 

        GM to use PENDRAGON to run heroquests.


             Then  responses came in.  The net result of answering  ques-

        tions,  putting the answers into concrete "rules" terms, and  (of 

        course) adjusting it all to a RUNEQUESTish format is the essays I 



             As to your criticism of the vocabulary "making people  think 

        too much" I'm at a loss of any way to write the essays and commu-

        nicate  on the topic -- so that they make sense to normal  people 

        --  that  does not involve building a  vocabulary,  defining  all 

        sorts  of silly things, and providing easy levels of  quanta  for 

        the reader.


             Remember, I'm not communicating with people who grasp  myths 

        readily  or  who  understand rituals with an ease  born  of  long 

        experience.   I'm writing for people who have  played  RUNEQUEST, 

        heard about heroquesting, and who are fumbling towards it as best 

        they  can.  The sort of people who have always found my  material 

        incomprehesible  because  of the lack of vocabulary  and  defini-



             I am very much in the throes of a reaction to the problems I 

        have had communicating the idea of heroquesting to others.


             Only  two solutions come to mind.  The first is a  heroquest 

        tile  or  card game sort of thing.  Somewhat like the  quests  in 

        SHADOWRUN, except more colorful and mood oriented.  (See pages 69 

        to  73  in  the SHADOWRUN Grimoire.)  The problem  is  that  such 

        quests depend completely upon the GM's intuition and knowledge to 

        have any more flavor than a game of Bridge.


             The second solution is a set of rules.  The set of rules can 

        either  be a work book (a collection of quests, illustrating  the 

        points  necessary again and again, teaching  inductive  reasoning 

        from the many examples) or a traditional rules sorts of thing.


             I've  tried  the work book approach by running a  series  of 

        essays and sample quests.  I had very few successes in the  read-

        ers understanding enough from the quests to do their own.  On the 

        other  hand,  the rules I've done recently (with  the  example  I 

        provided) tend to get accross enough of the feel that people feel 

        like they can run quests.


             The  real  problems are two fold.  First, GMs  have  trouble 

        pulling the steps of a heroquest out of the myth.  The rules  and 

        the  illustrations  explain the idea enough that people  get  the 

        idea.  Second, GMs have trouble with the level of difficulty  and 

        the degree of reward.


             As I wrote Joanathan Tweet:


             "A roleplaying game has to offer four factors:   difficulty, 

        challenge,  reward  and control.  That is,  the  characters  must 

        overcome difficulties, the difficulties must challenge the  char-

        acters,  the characters must be able to obtain rewards  and  they 

        need to be able to exert some control (by their actions) over the 



             At the lowest level, "dungeon crawling"  offers all of these 

        things, in a rather obvious and strict order.  For comparison,  a 

        game where you go around and make friends would be possible,  but 

        would  be  hard to structure so that it contained the  four  ele-

        ments.   Compare  your hypothetical game with a  game  where  one 

        builds  chains  of  hotels, competes in  the  computer  business, 

        explores the universe to prevent a star from exploding, etc. (all 

        of  these  are the themes to popular games with  minimal  hack  & 



             I  will  note that when I was in college,  a  computer  game 

        where you all you did was take actions that controlled taxes  and 

        bought  grain was a real hit because it offerred all four of  the 

        important game factors."


             The  trouble with heroquesting is that other than those  who 

        have  an intuitive grasp on the subject, no one can run  a  hero-

        quest without guides on two things:  the "terrain"  (what kind of 

        adventure  makes a heroquest?) and the "mechanics"  (how  do  you 

        quantify difficulty, challenge, reward and control?)


             People tend to do one of two things.  They "wing" it,  pass-

        ing out rewards, writing myths, and making heros as the mood fits 

        them.  If you've played in an unstructured "we don't really  need 

        the  rules" kind of storytelling campaign, you know what I  mean.  

        (co-incidentally,  other  than an occassional  stellar  campaign, 

        these  games tend to lead to "monty haul" resolutions and  disaf-

        fected players faster than any other type of game).


             Alternatively, they compulsively seek to expand the rules in 

        the  directions they are familiar with.  Many of the  Mauer  con-

        verts have come as the result of those who tried to "wing" it and 

        failed.  They'll take anything rather than repeat free form FRPGs 

        and the usual consequences.


             I'm  at a loss for what to do.  I really like good  explora-

        tory  myth-based games.  To be honest, my interest in many  games 

        lasts  until I run through the structure of their myths  and  the 

        last  of their mysteries.  As a result, I could never get  inter-

        ested  in Warhammer or the Giant Robot games and my  interest  in 

        Superhero  style  games lasted as long as they were  warped  into 

        another genere.


             With heroquesting I've tried a number of approaches.  When I 

        can  find  someone who knows the myths and is  a  good  intuitive 

        storyteller,  I  enjoy even just reading write-ups of  what  hap-

        pened.  But I can't teach that and I don't have the heart to tell 

        people  who  want heroquesting to take that  approach.   If  they 

        could have, they already did.


             Wish  you the best of luck.  I think that it may be best  to 

        let  it sit while you write your novels and let the ideas  become 

        reworked in your mind.  You'll also get a large number of  people 

        who have experienced or run various mechanics and their  feedback 

        may be useful once you are centered again.


             I  appreciate your and Chaosium's decision to wait  a  while 

        before tackling rules for heroquesting.  It is always good to see 

        someone in the game world who puts quality first.



                      HEROQUEST, Illustration (Chapter VI)





             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 



             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  adven-

        tures 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  gath-

        ered   them  together into the core of band that even  now  walks 



             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  grandfa-

        ther  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  advan-

        tage  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  Prin-

        cess,  as  a  chaos  hating goddess, also  conflicts  with  Lunar 

        influences.   (Remember, Lunar Antelope are related to  the  Moon 



             [Modern  matters  can corrupt or alter  ancient  tales,  the 

        world of myth and heroquests.  This is a natural place to  illus-

        trate  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 



             [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 appro-

        priate  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  charac-

        ters 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 



             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 



             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  



             The  names of those deities and their special  powers/spells 



        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 



        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 

        ice.  The ice will not melt under normal temperatures.


        7.   Serris Manyhued (Rainbow {darkfear} spell)


             Serris'  power is to induce fear in darkness  related  crea-

        tures  (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.  Gener-

        ally,  generate typical enemies as found on the plains  of  Prax.  

        Most  conflicts will be fought in the mundane world and the  ene-

        mies may negotiate or flee.]


             The  broos will be typical broos wandering Prax. For  diffi-

        culty  determinations,  the  conflict will be  partially  in  the 

        mundane world and partially on the heroplane. (say an extra  d50% 



        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  fol-

        lowers 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 if you do not.  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  ev-

        ents.   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.  He will be willing to bargain or to engage in pro 

        forma combat.]


             [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 at-

        tached.   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. Blade-

        sharp 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  perma-

        nent 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/fertil-

        ity.   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 



             [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 particu-

        lar  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.


             II.  PRAXIS 


             [A pun.  Prax and praxis <praxis is the "principle in  prac-

        tice" 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 (hones-

        ty/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 charac-

        ters 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 



             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   my 

        Pendragon  heroquest rules or the zines with the  heroquest  out-



             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