April 21, 2015 at 1:30 pm #15456
With the HQ Glorantha book now available I want to kick off a first campaign soon.
Although the Moon Design books on Sartar/Pavis would be the most obvious choice, I am intrigued by the idea of using the 2nd age campaigns for Mongoose RQ (Dara Happa Stirs/Blood Of Orlanth).
Did somebody try the same and can share experiences, challenges, ideas?
StefanApril 22, 2015 at 10:56 pm #15502
Should be no reason you can’t use them. I can’t say I’ve used those directly yet (though one of my Orlmarth clan characters has the Bowl of Blood and wants to resurrect the Orlanth Martyr cult), but I have drawn from an old RQ3 book, specifically the Garhound Contest from Sun County. Aside from some modifications to suit the transposition to a Sartar clan, it worked out very well. I think on the whole, scenarios/story lines work just fine. The main thing is figuring out how you want to address encounters, particularly shifting from a stat heavy game to something based on levels of difficulty (and what the level of difficulty should be in a given situation).April 23, 2015 at 11:50 am #15520
Sounds it is easier than I thought.
The thing I feared most was that RQ tends to aim for a much grittier experience, while HQ IMO is more towards epic play.
Garhound contest is remembered well and yes, I can this being much more suited for HQ than it was for RQ.April 23, 2015 at 4:47 pm #15528
In my experience, the biggest issues tend to come with the combat moments. Because HQ treats combat very differently from RQ, you may occasionally have to expend some ingenuity to figure out how to get the same degree of interest from a scene. All combats in RQ are run the same way, whereas combats in HQ are run differently depending on how narratively important they are.
Example: In the River of Cradles scenario, the first fight comes when the River Folk ask the heroes to fight a group of mudsharks that have been killing people. In RQ, the fight itself is inherently a moment of interest and focus because the fight will probably take 15-20 minutes of players rolling dice, casting spells, and so on. In HQ, a simple fight is over with one die roll, and even an extended contest is over in 5-6 rolls. So it’s necessary for you as the GM to think about how to make this particular fight seem dramatic and interesting to the players. My solution was the emphasize the tension of navigating the mudshark lair–what was around each corner? who was holding the torch so they could see? Was there another mudshark waiting to come in during the fight? What was that strange globe they found buried in the mud? In other words, in converting from RQ, you need to think about the narrative function of each combat the scenario expects and how to keep those scenes interesting and distinct from each other.
You also have to allow for the possibility that a fight will be replaced with a social contest. That’s not generally an option in RQ scenarios; the players usually want to fight, and they all have fighting abilities (even Chalanans have some use in a fight as support, casting their Sleep spell, etc), but in HQ, you can easily have PCs who virtually no combat abilities at all.
Example: I have twice run the Thanos’ Treasure scenario from the Scrolls of Wisdom Con booklet. In that scenario, a Babeester Gor priestess persuades King Thanos’ daughter to run away from home and undergo a BG initiation instead of an Ernaldan initiation. The PCs put the clues together, track the missing girl to an abandoned BG shrine, and intervene just before the girl has to make a decision. She’s reluctant to commit the killing that is necessary for her initiation. The scenario as it is written expects that the issue will be resolved through combat; the PCs will have to fight the priestess and her warriors, and how they handle the conflict will ultimately influence the girl’s religious destiny. But both times I’ve run the scenario in HQ, the PCs used non-combat abilities to address the conflict. In one session, an Elmali who had a Tells Hard Truths ability confronted the priestess, saying, “if you force her to kill that man, you will be as bad as the men you hate so much.” He scored a Complete Success and so the priestess admitted her error and allowed them to take the girl away. In the other scenario, an Ernaldan decided to go into the shrine alone because they knew it was hostile to men. She used her Earth rune to manifest Ernalda and told the girl there was another way to deal with her unhappiness. It turned into an Extended Contest between her and the priestess to see who could win the girl’s heart. The Ernaldan won and the girl left with her. In both cases I was really pleased, because it showed that the players were really thinking about how to address a conflict in a way that created interesting storytelling, and not just doing combat because that was what they expected to do.
So as you’re converting a scenario, try to avoid the assumption, “Ok, the PCs have a fight now because there are a couple of guards protecting the tower.” Approach it more as “Ok, the PCs now encounter a problem. How do they get into the tower? Here are a couple possible ways they might solve it. Option 1: they have a Simple Contest fight, because this isn’t a very important moment. Option 2: The sorcerer might use his Darkness Covers All spell to help them sneak past. Option 3: the Eurmali might lie their way past the guard.” Figure out what the possible complications and ramifications of each option are. And then, players being players, expect they will probably come up with Option 4.
A third issue is that RQ scenarios require a consistent application of the game mechanics. If the PCs have to make a Jump roll to across a gorge to get to the treasure, logically they have to make another Jump roll to get back. But in HQ, the PCs only make rolls when something is narratively interesting. Jumping across the gorge to get the treasure is interesting. But jumping across the gorge to get back isn’t; it’s anticlimactic because they’ve already been there and done that. So either skip the second Jump roll and just tell them “Ok. you found the narrowest point when you first jumped, so it’s really easy to jump back” or lower the difficulty so it’s only a minor obstacle. Or, find a reason to make that second Jump roll more dramatic. “When you picked up the golden idol, that caused a boulder to start rolling behind you. Now that Jump is going to be Hard difficulty, because you don’t have time to prepare.”
In other words, focus on running the scenario as if it were a movie script. Only demand fighting when a fight would actually be interesting for the plot
Some players have trouble with the flexible nature of the HQ system if they’re used to Runequest or other more mechanics-driven systems. A while ago I decided to convert an established RQ game set in a Praxian clan into a HQ game. One player was extremely reluctant because she wanted to convert all her spells directly into HQ spells, and was confused about why she had to take taboos (they were becoming spirit charms). That really disrupted her sense of who her character was and what she could do. I was really surprised by that, because the player was normally really disinterested in rules, and had thought she would love the looser, more story-focused nature of the system. Another player, a long-time Glorantha fan, was totally willing to convert his character but then got really unhappy in the first scenario. They encountered a older Storm Bull who was a washed-up drunk; a chaos-worshipper in his clan had intentionally given him free booze as a way to ruin him so he wouldn’t be able to rally the clan against him. The same chaos-worshipper engineered a fight between the PC and the drunk Storm Bull, to get him killed. The Player was expecting a big dramatic fight, and got REALLY mad when I ran it as a Simple contest. I chose a Simple contest because I wanted the combat over quickly so we could get into the scenario and eventually the PCs would start getting the clues that they had killed an innocent man, but the Player didn’t know that at the moment and he essentially derailed the game by complaining about how poorly HQ managed combat. He dropped out of the campaign as a result. When I told him months later what was actually going on in that fight, he was really embarrassed about how much he had over-reacted. My personal experience is that players who really enjoy 80s-style dungeon crawling or other very mechanical activity will often HATE HQ because it violates their expectations of how System relates to Story.April 23, 2015 at 4:59 pm #15529
Great and very useful insights – reflecting my concerns!
Not sure how well I (and my group) will adapt to HQ’s style. Although I used HW/HQ1/2 while back with different players, I always felt that it really shines with a pro-active players who enjoy narrative freedom and are creative, resulting in a kind of dialogue between them and the GM. At the same time it causes challenges with people with, as you said, an “80s style” mindset. Guess I’ll have to find out.
(They had trouble getting their head around Torchbearer, if that’s a valid indication)
That said, it seems I’d be better off with scenarios that are specifically written for HQ, as converting RQ might easier result in problems.April 23, 2015 at 6:44 pm #15532
Bohemond, I, too, thank you for that write up. Those are some great observations.
“Another player, a long-time Glorantha fan, was totally willing to convert his character but then got really unhappy in the first scenario. They encountered a older Storm Bull who was a washed-up drunk; a chaos-worshipper in his clan had intentionally given him free booze as a way to ruin him so he wouldn’t be able to rally the clan against him. The same chaos-worshipper engineered a fight between the PC and the drunk Storm Bull, to get him killed. The Player was expecting a big dramatic fight, and got REALLY mad when I ran it as a Simple contest.”
As a side note, this is one of those tricky things about HeroQuest — the art of when to use a Simple or Extended contest.
The rules (HQ:G) say “Climactic moments of action, suspense or heightened drama, are resolved with extended contests.” This phrasing suggests that it is the GM deciding which moments fall under those categories. This can be a trap, since the GM “knows” the relative value of certain moments against other moments in the balance of the big picture he is holding in his head. And since he knows these things, he might assume is assessment is both true objectively and for the Players.
The problem is that the Players often have their own sense of what is important or not important, what they value and don’t value, and what is suspenseful and full of heightened drama. And if those expectations are cut short it really can be frustrating for the Players.
I’m not saying this is an easy call. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. I’m simply saying that one more way that HeroQuest is going to be different from Runequest is that the investment of the Players into what matters to the session and story is a far bigger deal in HQ than in RQ. And the GM needs to be always trying to get the pulse on that.April 23, 2015 at 10:00 pm #15539
A quick observation about simple and extended contests; our group always allows a player to “escalate” a simple contest to an extended, if the player feels this is important. I have a feeling that this is actually mentioned somewhere in the rules as an option, but can’t remember off the top of my head where. It’s a rule that works really well, though, and makes you as player become invested in the story that you want to tell.
ErikApril 24, 2015 at 12:23 am #15544
I just ran HQ last night. The PCs had gone to Fire Top to retrieve some of Vestkarthen’s Fire (lava). Initially I had planned to have them run into a major obstacle in the volcano (a ‘lava fish’ that didn’t want them to get the lava) and then have a minor conflict with a Fire Top clan patrol afterward. But when they got into the volcano, I just wasn’t that excited about giving them an Extended contest with what was really just a big, lava-spitting fish. So I decided in the spur of the moment to flip it around. They killed the lava fish with a Simple contest (and then the Humakti decided he wanted to skin the fish and make fire-resistant armor from it), and then got into a major standoff with the Fire Top partol that turned into a really great social challenge in which the group Ernaldan negotiated with the angry Fire Toppers. She did such a great job (she won 7 successes to 0, after adding a parting shot to be excessively friendly to them) that the PCs clan now has a chance to build a positive relationship with the Fire Toppers despite never having any experience with them before.
So, once again, flexibility is really important to running HQ.April 24, 2015 at 1:47 am #15548
Farandar – nice idea! While I haven’t run into issues yet on simple vs. extended, it’s useful to have the idea that a player could request escalating where it is important to them.
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