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Title: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 09, 2012, 08:53:24 AM
Can it be done?

My first thoughts are here: http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/for-clan-kin-and-the-gods/wikis/first-thoughts

These are in preparation for an HQ2 campaign I am trying to start up.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 17, 2012, 09:34:27 AM
My meandering (http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/for-clan-kin-and-the-gods/wikis/first-thoughts) boils down to this:

Climactic, setting impacting contests should be like heroquests -- the final challege will be high.
The pass/fail mechanic can serve as a pacing mechanism for myself.
The commuity/wyter is an entity of enduring interest and challenges to it and on its behalf should have the consistency

Use the Climactic Contest results table for these superserious challenges.
Otherwise, continuity creating scenes and individual PC activities can be handled on the rising action table with the pass/fail rhythm.



Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 17, 2012, 01:12:22 PM
I want to continue exploring the mega-pc or the shared community resource/responsibility that I mentioned here:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=30173.0

What does this collective character, agent, actant mean in play.


Title: Color First for Clan and Character.
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 19, 2012, 05:33:27 PM
I had 1 Glorantha veteran and 3 newcommers at my first meeting.

I tried to tease out the kind of characters they wanted to play
* An uncomplicated farmer/warrior
* A stable, traditional, upright thane
* some kind of thiefy, shadowy, trouble making kind of person
* A hired mercenary serving the chieftain

Then I went through the clan questionnaire in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes to generate their clan, a process which generates an entity that is a source of power and which is their responsibility to maintain and improve.
* discussed here: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?495949-HeroQuest-Communities

The questionnaire produced a completely non-canonical clan.  The love of a setting can make you want to guide the players to create something more "typical" or "canonical."  But I stifled every impulse to pull away from character color input.

They worship ancestors rather than the Odin/Earth Mother biggies, or their children Sun Guy, Trade/Communication Guy, Trickster, Grain Lady, Healing Woman, Gloomy Sword Guy, Berserk Axe Guy, etc.  So they are on a tangent far removed from the vast majority of the god-worshiping noble barbarians around them. 

Now I have the task of designing a world of DRAMA around the heroes, bringing in canonical setting only as needed, and staying away from the metaplot as far as possible..  But there is always the tug to slot the players into Greg Stafford's world.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 19, 2012, 05:42:26 PM
This is what I wrote to their players concerning their clan, the "Old Stones," a group of determined traditionalists and patriots reduced to poverty and marginality by their intransigent opposition to the Lunar Empire.

______________________

Notes on Worship

These are the religious practices of your clan. They are really interesting.

Note: The players are all on individual religious quests. You worship who you want to worship. The main focus of your people is your Ancestral Shrine but you might have discovered the storm god within you, be attunded to illusion or disorder, etc. You come from an environment but that environment does not determine who you are. Moreover, you can change your people.

Main Religious Focus: Ancestors

#1 Sendor: Heaven-sent hero, enemy of Chaos
#2 Penene: Daughter of the Wilds
#3 Bereneth: Tamer of Horses
#4 Mother & Father Antanggi: People of the Shadow
“Before us came the Jars Antanggi, People of the Shadow, scared and in tatters but proud and clever too. We saw their cunning in survival and how they used the very shadows as armor against their enemies. As their leaders had been broken and driven to the Winds, they came among us as shepherds and we called them cottars.”
#5 Heort: Ancestral King of the people, who took Sendor as a thane.

Great God Most Commonly Invoked:
* Ernalda: Earth
-    she taught us how to make useful things out of nature & animals
-    she taught us how to read and weave the tapestry of fate

Great God Acknowledged by All:
* Orlanth: Storm God
-    taught us to explore, to learn secrets, to brave the darkness

Favoured Old God:
*    Acos, God of Stability.

Clan’s Mythological Enemy
*    The Bright Emperor, Yelm

God of Clan’s Traditional Enemies
*    Ves Venna, son of Winter, who brought kin-slaying to humanity

Nightmare Demon, Ultimate Bad, Bogeyman
*    The Thing With Many Bodies



Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Web_Weaver on January 21, 2012, 05:27:19 AM

Given the focus you have mentioned and the fact that you have used the published questionnaire, community resource options, I was wondering if you had put any thought into changing the resources to match your campaign scope, or if you had just decided early on to choose the default scope presented in the Sartar Book?

My question is purely self interested as I managed to squeeze in the side text on this topic through convincing the editor of its merit.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 22, 2012, 09:30:31 AM
I will work at it like this: The clan is incredibly idiosyncratic.  But it is valuable to others because it is so unusual.  So the ratings and their scope as defined in the Sartar Book are fine.  Their friends are a more conventional Ernalda/Earth Clan and an Orlanth/Storm Clan.  Their Enemies are a mirror image: Earth-friendly Lunar accomplices and Storm fans, as well as Grazer raiders and a band of bandits with Kinstrife magics.  Their allies include Trolls, Lightbringer clan with a shrine to the God of Sages, and 2 more traditionalists.

If I were doing a smaller scale game, I would have juggled the resources.  But I like this bunch: they are way outside the mainstream and they are dirt poor -- but they punch above their weight.

The text IS useful.  Heroquest doesn't have to be generic -- it can be highly customized for a particular setting!  The resources and the resource cycle are a good way to feed player activity into the setting. 

What can we call that point of connection that, like the pirate ship in Poison'd or the MRCZ in Freemarket, is a piece of the setting of continuous interest and is the locus through which players affect and are affected by the setting?

* Centre of Gravity?
* Meta/Mega PC?
* Nerve Core?
* Heart?
* CPU?
* Collectively Managed Setting Processing Actant Mechanism?
* The Thing?

So the text about changing resources is welcome in that it opens up the question of how to tailor a Thing for a setting.

(or a CG/MPC/NC/CPU/CmSPAM ... whatever)


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Web_Weaver on January 23, 2012, 02:58:12 PM
Yes exactly. That thing is exactly what I was concerned with. The idea that the scope, setting interactivity, and thematic traction, is facilitated by the choices made in setting the questionnaire, and the choosing of the resources and their weightings. And, I was worried that the Sartar book was making those choices for the GM.

I do wonder if that thing is just a more elaborate and specific definition of Setting from a Story Now perspective.

But I'm concerned I may be leading things off on a tangent so I will await a more suitable moment to discuss that further.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 24, 2012, 07:35:48 AM
"I do wonder if that thing is just a more elaborate and specific definition of Setting from a Story Now perspective."

Well, I decided to commit to that specific clan thing in the text because the clan/tribe/setting arc in the King of Dragon Pass game really appealed to me.  The scaling up of concerns, not the metaplot or canonical history.

"I do wonder if that thing is just a more elaborate and specific definition of Setting from a Story Now perspective."
I am really into The Thing.  Planet Burning for Burning Empires really gives tangible, gameable dimensions to the setting.  The Fronts sheet for Apocalypse World aren't tied to fine-grained numerical values, but they represent the MC's principled commitment to the consistent behaviour of a few important agents, with the countdown clocks providing a track of how near to crisis various parts of the setting are.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Character Colour and Setting Colour
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 24, 2012, 07:45:21 AM
The relationship between character colour and setting colour is crucial.

The sessions of the game will be based on tension, so even if characters fit the cannonical models the whole direction of play will be about exploring conflict.  If you love the Storm God and the Earth God, and keep the commitments to those gods gender-identified, I am still going to find ways to bring out the conflict between you and the other conformists.  If you have no gods and base your magic on Water, you still have the ability to interact with other tribes no matter how weird you are.  But your exceptionality will then become the issue explored later.

My player said "I imagine a steady, dependable voice of reason, so that sounds like the Earth rune as you described it.  My guy will be a stalwart thane."  I am cool with that player's identification with the Earth rune.  The fact that 99.9% of his neighbouring clans would not understand why a MALE chose to identify with Earth is gold for Story Now.  It is really bad for someone trying to follow the metaplot in the Sartar book -- Air boys and Earth girls unite to push out the foreign weirdos who have brought their cosmopolitan, sophisticated, labile culture to the area.

The numbers generated during clan creation state: no matter how un-canonical the derived clan is , it has THIS rating for Warfare, THAT rating for magic, THOSE ratings for peacemaking & wealth.  It is up to us to explore what the clan's ratings MEAN in the contex of the setting, and how the characters relate to or bounce off of or defy the values implied by the thing that is the clan.

In other words, you are not tangenting me, you are helping me deal with what I wanted to deal with.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: JoyWriter on January 24, 2012, 06:20:48 PM
I'm curious about the stuff you started with in the first few posts, but this is pretty impenetrable to me. But then it might help you to explain it to me, so:

My understanding of heroquest is that it's thematic power comes from putting really meaty stuff into the generic mechanic, so that when your rolling it's about whether hope overcomes desperation, or whether the community can deal with the disgrace to it's elders, by literally rolling one of those against another directly or as augments.

That's the impression I get anyway, but if that's true, I'm not quite sure why the ratings are there, do we want to say that the community can usually deal with disgrace, but it might not happen this time? Why not save it until the moment it's in question then find out 50/50?

How do these specific ratings support story-now play normally, what do they add to the fiction? I'm sure there's something really obvious that I'm skipping over here.


The next question is what the pass/fail cycle is there for. It just looks to me like a feedback loop to get players to keep hitting a certain average success rate. Perhaps you have to play it, and in play it actually does give a good rhythm, but I can't see what it adds in terms of story structure, particularly thematically. What job do you want this pass/fail system to do/recognise it as being designed to do?


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 25, 2012, 05:37:55 AM
I'm curious about the stuff you started with in the first few posts, but this is pretty impenetrable to me. But then it might help you to explain it to me, so:

I am riffing on previous Heroquest posts so I apologize for being hermetic.

My understanding of heroquest is that it's thematic power comes from putting really meaty stuff into the generic mechanic, so that when your rolling it's about whether hope overcomes desperation, or whether the community can deal with the disgrace to it's elders, by literally rolling one of those against another directly or as augments.

Yes, and ...

I cannot speak for the generic mechanic's ability to make theme out of any conceptual material.  I am looking at Glorantha as setting, with Heroquest as the resolution mechanic, and using the guidelines in Sartar: Kindgom of Heroes to create a very specific kind of Community Resource, an interesting rules feature of the core rules.

Moreover, the core rules demand that a play group establish certain Color expectations upfront.  So Genre/Mode/Premise (the rulebook's terms, not Forgespeak) decisions are made upfront and those decisions help decide what is a Stretch or and Impossibility when determining numbers for the conflict resolution.  I am going High Fantasy/Episodic/Noble barbarians vs. decadent Empire at the end of the world.  Decisions about what conflicts to frame, not just how to frame them or what numbers to use in resolution, take place in that conceptual sphere.  The universal conflict mechanic by itself doesn't confer theme on any old input.  Before we start there are a range of inputs that are dictated, implied, or ruled out.


That's the impression I get anyway, but if that's true, I'm not quite sure why the ratings are there, do we want to say that the community can usually deal with disgrace, but it might not happen this time? Why not save it until the moment it's in question then find out 50/50?

The community does not deal with disgrace.  Community resources are an aid in helping a character achieve goals -- goals that are simultaneously fictional and mechanical.  The community makes no rolls, the player makes a roll to borrow the community resource.  Players position themselves in the fiction, frame a conflict, specify how they approach the conflict, point out abilities to resolve it, expend currency to try to shape outcome.  Success means they borrow the resource and failure means they don't and they suffer fictionally and mechanically.

Evenrude wants to race his swamp boat against the marsh mutants.  He approaches the village elders to use their pool of scavenged pre-apocalypse tech to improve the performance of his marshboat.  We roleplay the council scene.  Evenrude's player says my "Community's #1 Fix-it Guy" is rated at 17" and I say "OK, roll to see if you can beat my result of "Success" on my "Grumpy old survivors" of 15.  Evenrude's player rolls a Critical, gets to borrow the clan's "Tech" rating of 25 to help in the contest.  Evenrude is probably going to use that Tech as an augment to his "Speedy Swamp Boat" of 14, which he will also augment with his "Fastest Racer in the Whole Mega-Delta" ability.

If he wins the conflict, the resource will be replenished.  Repeated successful use of this community ability, and accomplishing certain fictional goals, will increase it.  If he loses it will take a serious temporary hit and will suffer long-term reduction.

Did any of this address a theme-generating premise like "Will technology win over sheer determination in post-apocalyptic Florida?"  No.  If Evenrude wins his race, the numbers attached to the word "Tech" will have helped him do it.  But the result of that roll does not produce any resolution of any premise.  Players may think whatever thoughts they wish about the premise, or make whatever statements they desire.  But premise will only be addressed by players when they take subsequent actions in response to this mechanics-dictated fictional result.  And as there is this community resource thing to interact with, those actions will transform that resource as well as the setting itself.  Blowing up the enemy village is a fictional goal that will have mechanical consequences: the GM will never frame opposition using that village and its numbers ever again.

That's the impression I get anyway, but if that's true, I'm not quite sure why the ratings are there, do we want to say that the community can usually deal with disgrace, but it might not happen this time? Why not save it until the moment it's in question then find out 50/50?

The community resources rules are a separate thang from the pass/fail cycle.  They are a way of saying "these are the kinds of forces at play in this setting."  Space empires might have "Space Fleets" "Spice for the Navigators" "Special Abilities" "Leadership" and "Morale" Ratings.  Highschool cheerleading squads might be defined by "Spunk" "Style" "Money" "Athletic Prowess" and "Cheat" abilities.  Anything that transforms broad swaths of colour into abilities that can be used by characters to succeed in contests.

The community is a shared resource for PCs to frame conflicts and win them.  GMs do not need to make a million communities -- you just need one, the one that serves as a common ground for all the PCs.  And you don't have to make it part of every HQ game.  I can't find much AP about those who have used one.

The next question is what the pass/fail cycle is there for.

At this point I am not sure.  It is supposed to impose a formal rhythm on the contests: if you have had a series of success -- whether though luck or expenditure of Hero Points -- expect some heavy shit to come your way soon.  If you have been beat down by a series of bad rolls, one of you is going to catch a break soon.  In many ways, it's just a formalization of what a lot of GMs do in the course of a session: giving players a break or making them sweat a little.  Given the generous helping of Hero Points at the start of a session and the ability to bank them up, the swing is not that extreme.  If the players find that some village of losers is suddenly 9 or 22 points higher than they are normally, I can explain that you happened to drop in on "militia practice day" and players can either take a temporary drubbing (characters in HQ are really robust) or spend the HP to improve their chances.

I just look at the pass/fail thing as a kind of oracle to challenge me to come up with a particular definition of the moment's circumstances.  A decision to set one village against another, have an earthquake strike the mountains where the PCs live, all of that is made as pre-session prep.

I can't see what it adds in terms of story structure, particularly thematically. What job do you want this pass/fail system to do/recognise it as being designed to do?

It is "story" in the sense it is supposed to give the formal up/down rhythm of protagonists' response to obstacles in the course of a linear narrative.  As for theme, the HQ rules don't say anything.  In my Glorantha, this rhythm is part of the setting.  In the course of stores, success is never permanent and even the mightiest will find surprising challenges just when they think they have everything under control.  The primal creative powers acted in such stories.  The gods played them out.  The world has been made by gods, powers, and mortals acting out this ur-story in the form of various conflicting myths.  Mortals can change the world they have known, their own communities, and the whole world, by re-enacting or rewriting the myths out of which they and their communities have been made.  So, I guess I have a premise at work.  It is not "can people remake their world by retelling its myths"?  That is a given.  That is Glorantha.  One set of premises we could be working with is "how/when/if you should use your power to shape the world by shaping its myths"?

But the bare rhythm is by itself is an aesthetic thing.  And aesthetics are important.  But the pass/fail rhythm is at the periphery of my vision.

Pass Fail is a Subset of Setting Decisions
Procedurally and systems-wise the pass/fail rhythm is a subset of the setting decisions.  Setting decisions are part of the system and those decisions constrain what fictional elements enter a game session, and very firmly constrain how conflicts involving those elements are resolved.  If something is a Stretch, no matter how you roll or how many hero points you spend, the best result you will get is a marginal victory.  If something is impossible, it is impossible.

Let us say village loser takes on a PC.  The abilities of average people (6) will almost always fail against even a starting PC (13), even before Hero Points are taken into account. PCs vs roughly comparable NPCs will have the default value (14 or 15 or whatever) modified by pass fail.  That "oracle" compels me to come up with the fiction that makes the variable resistance probable. Let us say a PC takes on a really skilled NPC.  I will assume a default 25 and let the pass-fail rhythm imagine the circumstances that either hamper or enhance that.  Undertake a challenge against someone who is a "Hero" someone who has undertaken heroic deeds on behalf of a god and achieved a sort of legendary status.  That is a stretch.  The pass fail rhythm might be dictating a -20 or -9 to her rating of 62.  Fine, but you are still going to have to roll really well or expend HP to avoid getting totally creamed.  And what are you undertaking that risk for?  To give a Ringwraith a scratch on the cheek?  OK, sure, be my guest.  And be prepared to accept the consequences. 

This would be a case where you should have activated your city's "Warfare" 25 ability, augmented by your "Heroic self-sacrifice" of 24.  That's not a stretch anymore. That's you leading a city's militia out against the monster.  And the odds against you are still high.

If you have the "Ringbearer" special power, that is an extraordinary ability.  Where once you were just some short dude with hairy toes, now you are part of the Ringwraith's universe.  The odds against you are still high but at least you have a shot.  At this point were are dealing with specific, unique elements of a setting (swords, rings, books, weirding modules) that affect how contests are framed. 

The pass/fail thing has generated a lot of talk but it is really trivial, IMHO.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 25, 2012, 09:38:12 AM
By trivial I mean as something to worry about.  The discussion was interesting.  But it is not the be all and end all of the game.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Web_Weaver on January 25, 2012, 03:08:48 PM
I would second that, the Pass/fail thing is a bit of a distraction, and in my early play with HQ2 it just got in the way, until I learnt to just let it guide and inform things. I havn't played HQ for a while now, and now I think I would ditch P/F all together.

I tried to do the whole clan gen resource thing a couple of years ago and it ended before it had really begun, so I watch with interest. I suspect few APs also reflects few people actually doing this thing you are embarked upon. My gut instinct says it should work despite my experience. But, it may be tricky for hardened Glorathaphiles to achieve the needed flexibility of approach, as the process can lead to non-standard situations and unusual set-ups.

In my experience it provided a very ripe ground for inter player conflicts over setting which ended up breaking the game.

The origional questionnaire dates back to the resources in the King of Dragon Pass computer game, and was frequently used with earlier iterations of HQ, but now the resources themselves have a mechanic the questionnaire has taken on a whole new focus, that has a much wider impact on the game if used wholeheartedly.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 25, 2012, 08:58:25 PM
"In my experience it provided a very ripe ground for inter player conflicts over setting which ended up breaking the game."

Sounds like an AP reflection in the making.

Inter-character conflicts over the future of a setting I like.  The Fellowship does get broken.  But inter-player conflicts not so much.



Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 29, 2012, 10:43:06 AM
If this thing gets off of the ground, the personality mechanics recommended in S:KoH are a subject to consider.

Clans' Political Allegiances:
"You can use your relationships at the rating of your clan keyword.  For instance, if you are friends with the Elves you can use your clan keyword to interact with them.  They also act as a flaw if you try to act against them.  If you clan has always had the Telmori as enemies and you try to co-operate with them, you clan keyword acts as a flaw against you." (65)

Concerning your Clan's Virtues (generated via the questionnaire in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes)
"At the end [of Clan Generation] total the number of checks against each value.  Find the top three values.  These are the values held by the clan.  Your hero is a product of these values.  When you want to act in line with these values you can use them as an ability.  When you want to contradict these values then count them as a flaw that acts against your action.  Finally your clan likely has one or more enemies that they Hate.  Write down the clan enemies, as peaceful relations are impossible with them."  (58)

Rune Affinities and PC Action:
This is the challenging bit: by deciding on one's fundamental runes, a player is setting out boundaries for his or her action.  And it is NOT the same as selecting a religion.  A player may build up the Air rune for his Personality and never initiate or devote to Orlanth.
* Losing control of PC
"At times, the Narrator will treat your Rune Affinities as a sort of Flaw to be overcome if you want to act in a manner contrary to the Rune.  Successfully overcoming the Rune Affinity means you can act in the desired way but at the cost of temporarily weakening your connection with that Rune as a Lingering Penalty [i.e. lasting well beyond any one conflict resolution instance].  Failure means that you must act in accordance with the Rune."  (78)
This last bit confuses things.  Does act in accordance with the rune mean initiate a new contest?  Contests are supposed to be conflict resolution not task resolution.  Maybe its just a fictional result accepted by the GM?
* Getting rewarded by GM
"On the other hand, the Narrator can also give you a Situational Bonus or even a Plot Augment to the use of a rune affinity if you have been consistently roleplaying the Personality Traits of that Rune." (78)

And this is not like Pendragon where there is a strict zero-sum dualism between pairs of Virtues and Vices (Chaste/Lustful, etc.).  You give into Lustful once, you stand a pretty good chance of having it increase during character advancement at the expense of a reduction in your chaste.  Rather, if you do what the GM thinks goes against your character creation decisions, your effectiveness decreases.  If you do what the GM thinks goes in line with those initial decisions, your effectiveness increases.

Now, Hero Points will allow you to prevent Loss of Control.  But the reduction of effectiveness can be slapped down at GM discretion. 

So what to do?  In any check of Affinity, does the player include both desired course of action and the consequences if he or she is compelled to obey the Rune Affinity rather than transgress it?

Have players justify their behaviour in a Burning Wheel-like phase at the end of a session, with the bonus to be applied in the following session?

Who gets to decide if a behaviour went against the Affinity?  Maybe the player could draw attention to a significant violation and get a Hero Point out of it.

What if I want to make a dramatic change in the character, renounce past beliefs and start anew.  How to get off of the railroad I may have set myself on?

It's called a Heroquest.  You want to radically reinvent yourself?  Do so.  Muster the in-fiction positioning and the game resources and take a shot.  This way, you are not playing Pendragon Pass.

The recent discussion of Pendragon over in Burning land has got me thinking of the fun to be had with personality mechanics like this: http://tinyurl.com/7xnsex4

But the focus here cannot be on maintaining a manor and wining Glory.  In Glorantha it has to be about reinventing self and reshaping the world.



Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 29, 2012, 11:02:09 AM
Pendragon's Passions are a little more hard-core than the Virtues or Values in Heroquest.

I can roll my passions to help me in a jam.  But if I fail the role or fail at the conflict I take serious consequences.  Including bouts of melancholy.

If I fail to bring in my "For king and country" ability to augment my swordfighting in Heroquest, it's a mechanical reduction in effectiveness but nothing fictional!  So much for a Narrativist game!

There is one portable solution: The Player may override the roll, but in so doing, automatically loses a point in that trait or passion.

So you want to be calm during negotiations, but you are highly invested in the Air rune.  I ask you to roll some ability and try to overcome this huge rating you have in Air.  You fail (and don't want to spend hero points on it).  You can take the result or override it.  For what penalty?  Perhaps a 1 point reduction (which doesn't mean much in Heroquest).  How about reducing it by the margin of defeat?  If your "Steady Leader" ability is only 14 and your Air Rune is at 32 or something, you stand a good chance of defeat with a -3 or -6 penalty.  That is a big whomp.



Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: JoyWriter on January 31, 2012, 11:23:32 AM
Ok, I think I'm getting the hang of this a little more (but not much): Is it that heroquest's mechanics are profoundly bland, but that is compensated for by the colour and thematic content of the setting itself, embodied by the player's responses?

In other words, it seems like the resolution mechanic doesn't say half as much as I thought about the themes involved, but the fact that it allows you to spend hero points on various things means that there are two layers of choices; what do you do, and how much do you invest in that choice if it goes pearshaped. And you make those choices by creating characters that are strongly enmeshed in all the thematic stuff your interested in.

In order to support that choice though, you probably need to be able to weigh up difficulty of a certain plan verses how it goes with your values: There's no bite in choosing between compromising with difficulty or exausting yourself in idealism, or in finding different ways to seek the same goals, if this landscape of difficulty is invisible to you. Yes ok there's always hero points, so you can run into things that are way out of your league then change your mind, but as a way of scoping out the world, it seems to me that the way that players get to ask questions about the world, absorb knowledge about it, situate their character in it, would be really important to make solid.

And maybe the skill system actually implies that themes should be given a halo of abilities, rather than tying them to abilities directly: Unlike rustbelt say, where explicitly recording a faith called "all outsiders are not to be trusted" with a certain rating matters thematically, and means it's something your going to be dealing with and maybe changing over the game, in heroquest you might actually want to take that belief and put things around it instead, that relate to it but do not themselves define it, because you don't want to fix it in place, but you do want to fill other conflicts with it's influence.

Applying that to relationships between clans, if you want the game to be about how the clans relate to their neighbours, then instead of just saying that the relationship is unfreindly, you could create a few abilities (three?) that each imply that, but deal with some history between the clans.

With that in place, judgements of the appropriateness of abilities and augments could become more interesting, there's potential for a bit of slippage in the character of the relationship that players can take advantage of, and that probably makes rigorous application of the bonuses and penalties less onerous.

So that's the main choices I'm seeing at the moment, the choices about what to do given the complexities of the situation and the choices of how much to commit to something when it turns out to be out of your league.

Do the community augment rules add a third category of choices? What is the disadvantage of trying to get community support? Can you put those resources in danger by your use of them? Is it just that community elders may ask for something in return for using them? Can multiple people use the same resource simultaniously, or is that just restricted by common sense fictional positioning (ie physical artefacts are a lot less flexible than stories or traditions, because multiple people can hold them)?


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] To Joy Writer on Theme, Mechanics, System and HQ2
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on February 01, 2012, 08:25:48 AM
Mechanics
They are not bland: they are firmly conflict rather than task resolution.  That might be old news but HQ was one of the first to do it explicitly.  As a conflict resolution system it is theme-friendly in that the GM should be presenting theme-appropriate challenges or the players leveraging their theme and setting-laden Abilities to bring about such challenges.  But a mechanic is like a computer program or any other algorithym: garbage in/garbage out.  The rolls are always opposed so there is some homology between player behaviour (“I am rolling against an opponent and we are both subject to chance"), and an implicit theme (“Heroes must always test themselves in risk-ridden ways against an antagonistic world”), and narrative fiction (“We are heroes up against the Doom Ninja”).  Such a homology is nice but it is an aesthetic feature only.

System
The actual roll (d20) is just a roll but system governs what comes into resolution.  The HQ2 system requires players and GM to state the premise of the series, the genre, and the setting and these higher-order decisions filter what is brought to resolutuion. The system allows laser focus on what is thematically significant but it doesn’t guarantee that will happen.  The extended conflict system is not employed when you want to break out into detailed task resolution.  that was my mistake in early GM-ing.  Rather, every blow should be premiseful or setting-rich, or theme-y.  The extended contest system is not a "microgame" like the Duel of Wits or Fight! in Burning game.


Title: Pass/Fail not as important as introducing Setting Elements
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on February 02, 2012, 06:47:30 AM
The things system geeks worry about are not the same as players approaching a game for the first time.

Player Responses

* 1 of the newcomers to HQ, playing a troublemaking bastard daughter of the local trickster, remarks: "I wanted to talk to my father a little more.  I didn't know discussions were part of a game."
* Another player seem genuinely surprised when the village woman with whom he was having a liason refused to kiss him when he went off on an impromptu raid.  And to genuinely enjoy it when he brought the starvelling stick picker girl come along with the raiding party.

The fluctuations in the pass/fail rhythm did not even register on their radars.

The clan was presented with a problem: strong omens that their warmaking would be blessed and they would suffer in their wealth this year.  And strange draconic shadows and surprise frosts on the settlement.  The opposed roll mechanic in response to their clans' "Fear Dragons" flaw saw them thinking of fictional responses to the situation backed up by a wide variety of choices in the Abilities they were using to resist it.

After fictional positioning with a variety of factions, the players all pushed for a quick raid on tax collector caravans to get some coin, supplemented by disguising themselves as Woodpecker clansmen to deflect blame, and returning to the stead to seek out the source of the baleful magic.  The opposition was provided by a senior clan member who wanted to use the clan's magic to ensure a successful spring planting.  The players used their abilities to Augment the Resource roll by the proposer of the scheme.  The use of multiple player augments to one dramatic roll was also grokked quickly. 

The raid was against opposition that was NOT part of any prep on my part so I stuck to the pass/fail rhythm.  Their clan's war rating of 29, augmented by some clever actions on their part and lingering bonuses from previous actions, came in at 45 (or 5 at 2 masteries) against the Lunars' 14.  I justified the low resistance by proposing that they had ambushed a payroll caravan of the Lunar administration and they just wanted to grab some bags of coin so it was an ideal situation.  Each player either played or narrated what they were doing to aid the raid.  There was nice synchronicity between the courses of action narrated and the Abilities brought to bear.

System Concerns

The continuing crisis of the wealth and the prepped threats to the clan will escalate.

Currency now represents the region of mechanical complexity of import rather than any kvetching about pass/fail.  Only one player got the 100 word description in.  So in addition to the 3 main runes, occupation, and homeland Keyword, he has all these personality traits and charms and skills to pull on.  But he did not have all his character creation points assigned.  So every roll had this currency calculation going on as he decided if and how many character creation points would be assigned to the Abilities being brought to bear.

The other characters were all done "On The Fly."  This means that they had 10 abilities to create in addition to the key words.  Every challenge presented was an opportunity for them to make some statement about who the character was and how much of that he or she was.  One player took the lead in arguing against the clan elders in favor of the raid and came up with some impressive barbariany-rhetoric.  It was not from the heart so he characterized himself as "Cunning" and spent a few points to raise it above the default.

So the characters are SLOWLY defining themselves in response to the challenges presented them.  What I thought would happen is that the world would define itself in the interaction between my preped elements and well-defined characters.  So this dialectic is really interesting: I put challenges in their way to see what kind of people they are and how they react to the world, and they define their characters in ways I couldn't predict.  Those who are newbies to Heroquest I throw suggestions, but they refuse them or work with them as they please (most of mine are rejected, which is fine because they are just suggestions).  The character with the well-defined abilities makes little adjustments in the ratings.  And the Gloranthaphile makes sharp and quick decisions.  Then I have to make fictional decisions about the world that have little to do with my prep but which I try to make sure are consistent with that prep.


Hero Points and Such

A number of characters a carrying penalties (reflecting failure to overcome the Fear of Dragons) and bonuses from individual victories.  In addition to the 3 Hero Points given at character creation, and 3 Hero Points for completing a story arc, they will get 3 at the start of the next sessions.  This means that next session that have 9 HP to spend on character improvements, getting out of tight situations, etc.  In addition to the 10 to 15 character creation points they have sitting around.

The pass/fail cycle will increase resistance until someone takes on a conflict they will lose.  So we will see the currency fluctuations in response to that.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Web_Weaver on February 05, 2012, 02:08:10 AM
Hero Points and Such

A number of characters a carrying penalties (reflecting failure to overcome the Fear of Dragons) and bonuses from individual victories.  In addition to the 3 Hero Points given at character creation, and 3 Hero Points for completing a story arc, they will get 3 at the start of the next sessions.  This means that next session that have 9 HP to spend on character improvements, getting out of tight situations, etc.  In addition to the 10 to 15 character creation points they have sitting around.

How are you deciding when to apply penalties, and how often are you or the players framing conflicts aimed at reducing or removing those penalties?

This is an area I feel that the core rules are very vague on, perhaps correctly, but also lack advice on. This has resulted in very different play experiences, from my reading of the APs and from my experiences playing at conventions as opposed to my home group.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on February 05, 2012, 11:21:12 AM
"How are you deciding when to apply penalties, and how often are you or the players framing conflicts aimed at reducing or removing those penalties?"

Some are blanket: +3 to Fear of Dragons

The rules indicate: The bonus to an ability gained by using it in a contest lasts until such point as the character fails with that same ability.

I have yet to frame a contest to repair a penalty.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on February 16, 2012, 09:10:07 AM
Response to previous session:

"I felt like I was a participant in some ancient, long-lost story."

Parsing of this statement to follow.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Concretizing Abilities
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on February 20, 2012, 02:18:17 AM
The player's statement about feeling as if he were a participant in a narrative gives some anecdotal support to the idea that conflict resolution mechanics, as opposed to task resolution, are conducive to subjective aesthetic impressions that one is in a story or that something like a story is unfolding around the participants.

The Actual Play example:
- The pass/fail cycle had wobbled back to Moderate resistance of 14

- The PCs have undertaken a pursuit of whatever it is that is messing with the clan's agriculture.  It turns out to be a demon who has stolen the form of a dragon.  The PCs and a band of NPC thanes charge it and it charges them.

- I classed the thing as "Hero" in rank, my shorthand for saying that, unless you are yourself of Heroic rank or using some special magic item you got on a heroquest, or are incarnating a god or hero (the "Heroforming" magic of the setting), you doing a Stretch.

-  "Stretch" means characters are at -6 to an ability and will never score more than a Marginal Victory against the thing they are opposing.  This is a rule that I have rarely seen discussed in reviews of the game.  It, like Credibility tests, are ways in which Setting/Genre/Premise decisions become System, and provide constraints for framing and resolving conflicts.

- The beast, as a demon, had a Weakness: Vulnerable to Exorcisms.  Just like the Stretch rule, Weaknesses or Flaws are consistent definitions of how entities in the setting may affect each other. They do not fluctuate with the Pass/Fail Cycle.  Your Flaw is your Flaw is your Flaw just as the Demon's Weakness is its Weakness is its Weakness.

- At this moment, one of the players narrated holding forth a clan totem, rushing into battle, and drawing his blade across a mysterious birthmark.  I have no idea how all of this color came together in his mind.  But as he invoked one of his as-of-yet undefined special abilities, I saw a chance to give it some definition.  I ruled that the "Comet Birthmark" was a source of exorcist magic of the type to which Demons are vulnerable.  This PC's actions had an overwhelming effect on the beast, whereas other PCs' actions had been failed Stretches.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Abilities and their Relationship to Pass/Fail
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on February 20, 2012, 02:36:14 AM
These decisions were made by myself, following the rules as laid out in the most recent, genericized version of Heroquest.  The Demon was written up as a prose myth, its Species Keyword defined, broad ratings relevant to the Pass/Fail cycle were indicated (Very High, High, etc.), specific aspects of Keywords notes, Extraordinary Abilities and limits thereto were set, and Weaknesses defined.

Handor's player, James, knew the basic conflict resolution mechanic through my explanation and 2 previous sessions of play.  The other player knew the Glorantha-set Heroquest rules very well and is a Gloranthaphile.   Both knew that vague abilities take on specific forms in the course of play, and that decisions about what Abilities can do become part of the setting and the unfolding story.  But neither knew about Stretches.  And they were presented with a being unlike any they had come across before.  When ordinary and magical Abilities seemed to have little effect, James pushed Handor into making a dramatic move and I took that move as an opportunity to answer a question I had about something on his character sheet: what the hell is that "comet birthmark" ability all about? 

I decided that it could serve in exorcisms and it will do so from this point foreward.  The player made some bold fictional decisions which spurred me to answer questions about the setting and backstory (the omens of his birth and their relationship to the wider setting).  But it was I who flipped the switch and fused that decision to the setting and to mechanics, reading his birthmark as a way to bypass the Stretch and overcome the static value of 14 for the "Vulnerable to Exorcism" Ability.

It all worked.  But the moment of decision was a weird one.  It was not like a Burning Wheel game where players are aware of how a test  against a specific ability of a certain value will result in advancement, how expenditure of Artha will push a character closer to Arestia, etc.  In this instance of play from my game, the setting has been changed, the player's Ability will be both constrained and enabled to do certain things at a certain level of probability in future contests.  But the decision-making process, and the degrees of responsibility in it, and the varying levels of awareness of the factors involved, are one big pile of obscurity.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on February 20, 2012, 02:43:37 AM
Here is what I wrote to the game's participants after the session.  It would be nice if players were aware of the interaction between setting limits (esp. Stretches) and the decisions we make about their abilities, and to underline that it is not only possible for them to define their Abilities in ways that affect the setting, but that they are encouraged to do so.  And to hold out the promise that such decisions on their part will result in a more engaging story:

_____________________________________________________

"So, is Handor the golden boy, superstar, spotlight guy?

No.

He has 1 NPC ally trying to use him for a very particular agenda. That NPC's agenda is HIS, not mine. Moreover, all of the other NPCs have agendas for you. Go with them, against them -- whatever. Your characters' choices make the story.

And decisions have major consequences, as was illustrated by the battle with the demon at the end of last session:
The thanes rode out to find the Kinslayers and ran into a dragon-shaped demon that has been warping the weather, sending killing frosts and causing sudden thaws of glacial ice to bring floods. Handor's character description said something about being marked out for destiny and that destiny was symbolized by a comet-shaped birthmark. James said something about cutting into it to release its power.

My preparation notes indicated that the demon had a vulnerability to exorcist magic. Given that James' character was bearing a clan totem, something on his character sheet mentioned an extraordinary destiny, and he was making a very specific action using one of his previously undefined special abilities, I interpreted that action as a kind of exorcism.

And from this point forward I will continue to do so.

This is the way your characters' creatively-defined Abilities become part of the game world: you propose how an Ability might affect the situation and, using the game's jargon or me considering behind-the-scenes decisions I have made about setting and opposing characters, we pin down just what that Ability means in this setting. And from that point, going forward, we have defined how that Ability interfaces with the setting.

[This bit could have used a rewrite: maybe I could have said "we use the game's jargon, I my pre-game prep, and you your feelings about where you want the character to go" or somesuch]

Think of Bilbo picking up a magic invisibility ring. Which then turns out to be something much more. If that situation had come up in a game, I might have dropped some earth-shaking magic item into a set of caverns. Or a player might have had some way of linking an Ability to a cruddy old ring he found in a creep's personal stash. I like the way this game allows vague intuitions or colourful descriptions to crystallize into concrete, significant, and situation-changing Abilities with real game-mechanical weight behind them.

And you can all do it. Just remind me to give you opportunities to do so."


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Web_Weaver on February 25, 2012, 01:36:15 AM
Hello again Erik,

Thanks for taking the time to write these reflections up, they are very interesting. HQ isn't very prescriptive when it comes to play styles, so it is always interesting to see how someone actually uses it.

One of the reasons that you havn't seen a lot of descriptions or discussions about using stretches to define a creature's abilities, is because this appears to be your own interpretation. It sounds like it could work, and certainly by challenging the PC's it provided an opportunity for creativity.

However, stretches are always described in the context of choosing abilities. Indeed the main advice is if somthing is a stretch it may be best for the Narrator to suggest an alternative ability.

Certainly in the Glorantha section of the Core Rules, and the recent Sartar Material, Stretches are used to help define the setting, especially for things like magic use, but even those are focused on the abilities of the PC.

I do think that some of the Sartar material, especially the scenarios, occasionally twist the uses for Stretches as well, but that material has subtley drifted the rule set in my opinion.

For the write up of a ghost, it may be appropriate to rule a physical interaction a stretch, or maybe impossible, this isn't placing it on a scale of difficulty relative to the players, it's just saying that hitting it with a sword would stretch the story and or genre's credibility.

Jamie


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on February 25, 2012, 02:51:51 PM
Quote
One of the reasons that you havn't seen a lot of descriptions or discussions about using stretches to define a creature's abilities, is because this appears to be your own interpretation. It sounds like it could work, and certainly by challenging the PC's it provided an opportunity for creativity.

I meant to say that I haven't seen any productive discussions of using Stretches anywhere.  Not just in dealing with individual creatures, but with whole categories of creatures, but in any resolution context at all.

I have also not come across any discussion of the enabling assumptions specified at the start of the Heroquest rules, those of Genre/Setting/Mode/Premise.  The Sartar Book seems to say "here is Glorantha the way Greg and Jeff would do it, hop on board.  No guide to adapting the system outlined by Laws to the particular material at hand.  Saying "YGMV" is not the same as providing guidelines for how to use Laws' enabling assumptions in making "Your" Glorantha.

What I have done with my demon keyword is no more than to say: here is what is plausible or implausible in my Glorantha using my High Fantasy/Dragon Pass/Epic Chronicle/Heroic Barbarians vs. Empire as my Genre/Setting/Mode/Premise decisions.  To my mind I am following strict chapter and verse:

"Using a somewhat implausible ability is known as a stretch.  If your Narrator deems an attempt to be a stretch, you suffer a -6 penalty to your target number.   Further, any major or complete victories you might score are instead treated as minor victories." (Heroquest 52)

"Implausible" makes sense only in the nested contexts of G/S/M/P.  As you say, "stretches are described in the context of choosing abilities," but I would add "and in G/S/M/P-defined contexts of what constitutes implausibility."
It is actually at the intersection of those contexts:

 [ Ability Description    < Stretch decision ]     G/S/M/P >

Laws reinforces the connection between stretch adjudications and higher order assumptions in the game text:

"The definition of stretch is elastic, depending on genre [my emphasis].  All sorts of crazy stunts ought to be possible in a high-flying martial arts game.  Conversely, even common cinematic conceits ought to be impossible in a realistic espionage game inspired by John Le Carre novels" (52)

And in my take on Dragon Pass, mundanes will be ploughed by Heroes, Heroes by Superheroes, and Minor Gods will have some edge over individual Superheroes but better watch out for teams of them (this is the hierarchy going back to the Dragon Pass boardgame).  Demons have fearsome abilities but are prone to exorcistic magic.  These are some of the basic decisions about what is plausible in the Glorantha I knew and in the Glorantha I am presenting to players.  I don't want to go willy-nilly making all sorts of complicated rules about what is a stretch when dealing with a Great Wolf, as opposed to a Dire Wolf, or a Timber Wolf.  Just to elaborate on my guidelines for plausibility as we explore the setting in more depth.

I would quibble with your assertion that it is a "main" piece of advice that "if something is a stretch it may be best for the Narrator to suggest an alternative ability."  Selecting the most believable convincing or realistic Ability instead of going for a Stretch is a marginal case of Stretches:

"Narrators running series in those rare genres that enforce very strict realism should, rather than impose a penalty, instead propose a more suitable action description." (53)

If I want to make sure that a character's particular choice of a martial art style really fits a given situation, and the setting has been strict about such details, I won't allow a Boxing Ability to do a takedown of someone who has grappled you: it's flat out impossible, just doesn't work.  But in the genres and premises I want to run, say a noir story about crooked fighters and the mob, I would allow it as a stretch.  That is me allowing broad interpretation of Abilities within the limits of G/S/M/P.

I hope I am following the principles you outline in your post:

Quote
For the write up of a ghost, it may be appropriate to rule a physical interaction a stretch, or maybe impossible, this isn't placing it on a scale of difficulty relative to the players, it's just saying that hitting it with a sword would stretch the story and or genre's credibility.

Exactly.  The pass/fail mechanics offer a simple range of obstacles (6 in total?) in the place of endless finicky tinkering with ratings.  And credibility tests where you judge an action as absolutely incredible, a stretch to credibility, or within credibility, are a way to keep to those 6 simple tiers of difficulty even in extreme or fantastical situations.  I want guidelines for me to keep difficulties with those values without sacrificing plausibility.

I wasn't trying to drift the rules set, just connect the dots between the "Before Starting" material on pages 8-9 and the material on Stretches (52 - 53), Credibility Tests (74-75), and Extraordinary Ability Frameworks (96-106). 

And, to get up on a soapbox, I was disappointed by this lack of attention to these parts of the Heroquest system in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, and see no sign that the writers of Pavis are paying attention to it as well.  I don't think they are drifting the rules set, if that is taken to mean the totality of the system.  They have pulled out the resolution mechanics and the algorithm for setting difficulty levels but ignore the systematic framework Laws developed for them in the first place.

Sarah Newton's article "Asymmetric Gaming" points out the challenge that Laws' system -- in its basic assumptions -- poses to many conventional roleplaying habits:
http://sarahnewtonwriter.com/2011/12/13/asymmetric-gaming-musings-on-heroquest-2nd-edition-part-2/

"When your character fights the dragon, rescues the prince or princess from the evil sorcerer, or destroys the space station in your tiny starfighter, in HeroQuest none of those opponents are defined using the “stat blocks” you’d find in other games. Rather, the difficulty of achieving those individual goals (fight the dragon, rescue the prince, destroy the space station) is defined. Moreover, that difficulty isn’t defined by how objectively hard each of those goals might be to achieve (starfighter against space station? no chance!), but instead by how difficult it should be in terms of the story. If the story, by its genre, dramatic structure, or structural necessity, suggests that a hero with a stray arrow should, right now, have a decent chance to kill the dragon which has terrorised the land for decades, then that’s what the difficulty of that task will be, regardless of how formidable the dragon might “objectively” be."

Maybe all of Laws guidelines for keeping credibility decisions consistent are an attempt to provide some of the illusion of objectivity that the rules, according to Newton, disavow radically.  I like to see them as working with "genre" to give a context for the characters' abilities, of integrating those player-defined Abilities within an unfolding framework of characters' interaction with each other and with the setting (which is what I like to think Newton means by "story").  Maybe I am on the old-guard objectivist side when I think of credibility stretches as setting limits on character action (STOPPING a non-Runelord character from posing any kind of deadly threat to an NPC Hero) instead of breaking limits to permit greater player character effectiveness (Newton's example of giving a PC a shot to take out a mighty dragon*).  But for a setting to be significant it has to give resistance as well as afford opportunities.

You don't walk on your carpet despite the friction, but because it offers some friction.  A perfectly frictionless surface doesn't give you limitless freedom: it is more likely to have you flat on your ass.  And how can you talk of a current with no reference to the resistance of the medium through which it must of necessity pass?

* To return to the letter of the law: the maximum victory a Stretched Ability will win over an opponent is a Minor Victory.  I take that to mean "including any Hero Point expenditure".  So our Stretched bowman can ding the beast but not bring it down.  To have Bard take out Smaug, that would require something other than a Stretch.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 04, 2012, 09:45:27 AM
Quote
I wasn't trying to drift the rules set, just connect the dots between the "Before Starting" material on pages 8-9 and the material on Stretches (52 - 53), Credibility Tests (74-75), and Extraordinary Ability Frameworks (96-106).

Rewrite that: to make the setting have weight there is an inevitable drift back towards HQ1 and Hero Wars.  HQ2 is more concerned with the envelope of plausibility surrounding the characters than really making the setting have any weight.  I think my Apocalypse World play was bleeding over into my HQ2 prep.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Web_Weaver on March 09, 2012, 04:12:58 PM

In general I am right with you on the way that the Sartar material tends to ignore a lot of the genre / setting context of HQ2. In a R.Laws panel back when HQ 2 was still in a pre-release state I remember pointing out to a doubter that Glorantha is bigger than a genre pack, but instead could contain any number of genres and setting expectations. But, now we are faced with a thoroughly detailed and defined setting with little reflection on the chosen genre, campaign scale, scope, or even the resources that it so clearly advocates but doesn't make much use of.

Of course this was probably always going to be the case, as published Gloranthan material has a momentum all of its own which has always been relatively system agnostic. I would love to see a chapter in each book that talked about how the material could be used in different ways to achieve various effects at the table. Or a piece on how the more grainy rules interpretations could be streamlined for more vanilla HQ2 play, but alas this isn't really their priority. The Glorantha fan in me doesn't mind a bit as long as we see current material, but the system geek in me is frustrated. But of course that part of me is easily distracted by new shiny gears, such as those in Other Worlds.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Agendas
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 12, 2012, 03:18:04 PM
I have played in Glorantha with a whole bunch of agendas over the decades.

I still love the place.

My return to the lozenge was a combination of interest in newer styles of games AND nostalgia.  My first few tries were colour-spraying investigations of the setting.  This despite picking up a few techniques from Sorcerer and reading about Story Now, playing Dogs, etc.

And I fell back into this default mode with a recent FATE game.

Despite their crunchy-osity I feel that the long Burning games I was in (Wheel and Empires) gave me the longest, continuous experience of Story Now.



Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 12, 2012, 03:43:11 PM
To pick up on the nostalgia thread: in the past I ran heroquests with as much canonical fealty as I could muster.  This time I will see how the pass/fail rhythm interacts with addressing the characters' beliefs through events in the quest.

The myths I have in mind grow out of several sources.  First and foremost, the clan generation sheet from S:KoH.  The clan's institutions condensed out of it and so did the characters and actions in the myths.  Then, I have looked at the issues involving the personalities of the clan and retrojected them back into mythic time (which, in my opinion, is how sacred stories often come into being: a present crisis works in entangles with already-constituted religious practices and a myth is created to fit those practices into a new situation, which situation is brought about by working through the crisis, and the myth making contributes to that work).  Lastly, I wanted to create a set of mythemes open to potential unification, not possessing a unity prior to the quest itself.

The Old Stones are a highly idiosyncratic bunch in that they are ancestor worshipers.  There store of lore and ritual relating to the great gods of their people is really thin.  The heroquesters who venture to the other side to make some sense of the myths and to apply them to their own lives will, through their choices, create a new unity of these elements, and this new canonical structure will be the source for more magic, more challenges, etc.  They are not re-enacting the myth: they are creating it.  Their people will have to live with the consequences of the myths they make.

The most obvious "opening" for the players is to determine what that gift was.

That is the theory, anyway:


Penene, the Daughter of the Wild Marries Sedenor;
or, how a daughter of the wild became protectress of the people

• Orlanth defeated the Emperor and won Ernalda's love. Penene attended the feasts of the great gods.
• When freedom came, Penene lead the children of the wild in savage dances, even with the advent of the Great Winter.
• She and her band of celebrants came upon Heort’s people, shivering and lost
• Penene took pity of them and tried to convince her sisters to show mercy. She failed and they devoured the children and the old, led hunters into the trackless waste, and taunted the mothers.
• Penene tried to amend the damage her sisters had done by teaching them how to Resist Winter.
• Later, she taught a Curse against Ves Vena
• Upon Sedenor’s advent, she readied the hall of celebration and repaired the Rug of Fate
• In a moment of peace, Sedenor and Penene made their vows and Orlanth — though still on his quest to free the world from the darkness he brought -- sent a gift to their wedding. Penene was wise enough to recognize his true messenger.
• Their wedding was a light in the Darkness

Orlanth’s Departure;
or, how the people persisted even when he went away

• Orlanth won the love of one of the his brother Valind’s daughters, and tasted desire.
• Then he moved on to slay the Emperor to win Ernalda and learned what love is.
• To heal the world he set off on his quest to recover the sun: this mean that he had to abandon his people
• In his Lord’s absence, Heort held the people together. Orlanth learned the importance of making blessed kings for his people.
• And as the darkness got worse, Sedenor dove from the sky to drive Ves Vena and the others away from the people. Orlanth learned the need for allies.
• While his friends and allies defended his people, he had to venture in the otherworld. There, he encountered the child of his transgression with his niece. He tried to make peace with her but failed, and she went spinning off into darkness and terror.
• Before he departed on his great Lightbringer’s quest to recover the sun, he sent a gift back with a messenger to reward Sedenor for taking care of his people. It was a light in the darkness, a spark of hope to old onto while he went further into the land of the dead.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 12, 2012, 03:51:58 PM
As to genre, I can't really think of a situation like this in any of the Juvenile or YA fantasy lit I read as a kid.

Possibly Dune, with its mythology of the messiah and Paul's consciousness of that mythology. 

There are traces to be found in the Earthsea trilogy, where Ged and the young priestess both have to step on up to the roles their mythologies and religions hold out to them.  Both reject much of what they were born to be, and they reinvent much.

Maybe even the hobbits of Tolkien are similar, in that they stand in the presence of mighty personages who have shaped their world but challenge them from their human perspective.

So "Epic Fantasy" still holds, in that mythology is here and now.  And the decisions the protagonists make will constitute the new world that is arising from the shambles of the old.  I think I just quoted Led Zep.  Time to stop typing.


Title: Setting Maintenance and Myth Hacking
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 19, 2012, 08:10:09 AM
Only one player showed up so I think we are at the end of this little series.

The player who exorcised the dragon-shaped demon picked up the fiction from last time.  He was concerned that the carcase to which the demon had been bound would infect the river into which it fell, and spent time getting the fictional and mechanical positioning needed to get it out of the river.

Moreover, he wanted to preserve the corpse as a resources.  This was waaaaaaay off my prep.  But Heroquest allows you to roll with it.  And it wasn't completely random behaviour: as we players worked out the setting, and through our characters fought for its future and to shape it to our will, such setting-preserving actions could be a trend arising from play practices worked out in the first few sessions.

To maintain setting-relevance, I looked at the relationship map for the tribe's leadership ring and had them react appropriately: they thought preservation of the corpse a wise action but all acknowledged that the ultimate consequences of this act were obscure.  All were interested in the dragon-related myth mentioned above. 

Maybe it was a color connection: but Handor's (James') interest in the dragon gave me the impression that the dragon-related myth would play out well in the night's session.  So it was fun to find an angle to bring in my heroquest ideas. 
Was I railroading?  Well, the characters in the setting had been pushing Handor to undertake a quest for their own purposes.  So the fiction was about a character faced with railroaders.  If he turned down that heroquest, I had a few other heroquesting options prepped.  My agenda was to see some myth hacking but I hope that I could have rolled with a number of options in response to player decisions.


Title: Re: Setting Maintenance and Myth Hacking
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 19, 2012, 08:33:53 AM
So it was fun to find an angle to bring in my heroquest ideas. 
Was I railroading?  Well, the characters in the setting had been pushing Handor to undertake a quest for their own purposes.  So the fiction was about a character faced with railroaders.  If he turned down that heroquest, I had a few other heroquesting options prepped.  My agenda was to see some myth hacking but I hope that I could have rolled with a number of options in response to player decisions.

Story now?

I have been using the rune afinities of the characters to generate NPC actions that challenge the premise-y aspects of those afinities.  With Handor's truth rune, I had a character who is determined to know how her father died during a raid.  I was going to have Handor investigate that his own way.  Since he agreed to the quest, I will put his answer there.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Web_Weaver on March 21, 2012, 11:01:20 AM
In Story Now terms, I have always seen heroquesting as very compatible.

By going onto the Heroplane the PC's are almost roleplaying, this gives a kind of higher level abstraction, which makes the players actions easier to perform at a meta game level. Therefore it can be easier to allow the players to decide on the context of conflicts and have the necessary say of the consequences of their actions.

David Dunham came up with a card based style of play for heroquests, back in the early HW days where the players introduced elements and stations from their hand when appropriate, which also highlights how it is quite common to see heroquesting as a player led activity. Our group used an adapted version of this to great effect.


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on April 23, 2012, 12:16:58 PM
Sorry to thread bump.  But I thought I would conclude this thread with a note about how I have resolved some of the issues raised above.

The key to keeping the setting consistent comes from setting what is or is not a stretch.  I was trying to use the number of masteries as a yardstick for setting difficulties, syncing it up with the pass-fail cycle, etc.

The simpler solution is this: stick to the pass/fail rhythm at all times.  The fictional positioning the characters gather behind an action is what makes it plausible or an implausible stretch.

I do have a rubric for setting plausibility.  I was trying to make a few broad stages, like the gang sizes in Apocalypse World or the ship types in poison'd.

Position = [Quantity x Quality] and is compared to Rank.  It is a stretch to affect any Rank higher than your Position.  Each level of Position higher to Rank gives a bump up or a bump down.

QUANTITY (One=1, Several=2, Mob=3, Clan=4, Tribe=5, Nation), QUALITY (Mundane =1, Expert=2 (PC), Leader=3, Rune Lord/Priest/Devote = 5, Hero=10, Superhero=15).

Let us say that there is some Heroquesting baddie.  The Rank for Hero is 10.


The heroes (several experts = 4) has got the fyrd (mob of mundanes = 3) out into the field.  They are at a disadvantage, so they are operating at a Stretch, their Position of 7 being lower than 10.

As Heroquest conflicts are resolved solidly from the player's perspective, there is no need to do any fancy calculations for the advantage the Hero has against them.

If the same situation had been in play and the players had convinced a squad of lancers to join in, that would add a mob of experts (6).  That gets us to a Position of 13.  More than enough to qualify for a position of advantage over the Hero.  They would at most pose an irritation to a superhero like Harrek the Berserk.

There is probably some more elegant way to represent this.  But it seems to reflect canonical Glorantha and allow for quick decisions about what is or is not a stretch.

I like the way Apocalypse World provides clear and simple benchmarks to turn the ficitonal positioning achieved by the players into numbers for resolution.  I have to have a kludge like this to make my setting-heavy Heroquest 2.0 operate in a similar fashion.  But it looks as if it will work


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on April 25, 2012, 08:48:46 AM
I am sure that someone can parse the above table and come up with a routine for determining plausibility.  But I need to see it.

http://cdn.obsidianportal.com/assets/120459/lakaon.gif

How to read this:

Look at the quality and the number of the PCs’ forces. All the other forces in the same row are an even match. Anything in a lower row is at a disadvantage against the PCs. Anything in a higher row is a “Stretch.” To overcome the stretch and to match forces with a force in a higher row, the PCs need to ally with at least one of the forces on the PCs row.

Target numbers will be set using the Pass/Fail Method


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on April 26, 2012, 08:33:10 AM
The final session of my HQ campaign was a heroquest.

None of the events relates to the previous discussions.  But those who have been following this thread might be interested in how the heroquest played out.

http://tinyurl.com/dxvs6qu


Title: Re: [Heroquest 2] Pass/Fail and Setting-Heavy Story Now
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on May 07, 2012, 08:25:14 AM
So 8 players have signed up for my next iteration of a Setting-Heavy Heroquest game, in Pavis.

The rules are supposed to emulate adventure fiction.  I want to do a particular kind of genre aesthetic: intrigue.  To bring the intrigue-heavy setting into techniques I have proposed a kind of scene economy.  It differs from Burning Empires in that I cannot leverge mechanical currency against the players in some kind of competition.  At most, I am making fictional positioning to determine what is probable or improbable, and to present players with the consequences of their actions on the global setting.

http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/glor_hq_tag/wikis/rules-notes


Title: Presenting Story Arch Mechanics and Setting-Heavy Story Now to Players
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on May 17, 2012, 07:17:25 AM
These and other posts are largely archival.  Before the closure of the site I will try to post crosslinks to other Heroquest, and Setting-Heavy AP posts to improve its archival value.

This was emailed to players after a session where I introduced more formal turn-taking.



Heroquest Update 1)

Or; How Random Creativity Becomes Gamed.

Here is how players and GM interact in each session of our game:

Colour > Fictional Position > Resolution > Long and Short Term Changes to the Setting

The first two parts of the process can occur in different orders.  I might create a fictional position (terrible winds are coming to the plains) and you might respond with colour (describe your character huddling in an ancestral cave).  You followed my Fictional Positioning (activating a pre-existing part of the setting) with a piece of pure color with you in extreme closeup, no conflict with other named characters.  You might even bring in a bit of mechanics to finish the Colour Scene (use an ability to try for a bonus on a possible future action like "survive poison gasses of the storm).  But creative responses to the setting -- a.k.a. Colour -- are were EVERYTHING in this game begins.  Colour is the necessary precursor to all other activities in this game.

What Happened;
A festival of the exiles was attacked by Dog Demons in the service of the Lunar occupation.  The heroes were able to resist the attack on their clan's magic.  One fought off an attack on a brood of alynx kittens.  Another summoned alynxes and other cats from around the city.  One simply swatted wildly but managed by luck or fate to smack a few.  One threw daggers into demons he alone could see.  Two were caught flat footed: one was guarded by a faithful hyena.  The other, given his cowardly cringing nature, was lucky enough to be hidden when a dog attacked him unawares.

How it Happened:
a)  Determining the Scale of the Threat
Peter's Connecting Scene: He spoke to his brother Davydd about the coming threat to the clan's festival.  In the course of that scene the GM had the alynx provide some information about how many demons were there: 21.  No roll revealed that.  The discussion provided some ideas about how to confront the threat.
My thinking: a MOB of LEADERS (characters who are more competent than the Player Characters) was coming to cause trouble.
b) Determinig the Scale of Resistance
Lita managed to corall a bunch of bravos from the Sun Dome to come to the festival and compete in the feats of strength.  The roll did not win full participation from their boss, but the fiction was established: 16 tough teens would be there.  This, in addition to a general attendance from the Garhound clan.
My thinking: a MOB of MUNDANES (the Sun Domers) was joining a CLAN of MUNDANES (the Golden Arrows plus a load of Garhounds), under the leadership of SEVERAL EXPERTS (the PCs).  That is enough for your side to have a reasonable chance of beating the agenda of your opposition.  Individually, you would not be facing penalties.  Preceding role-played decisions allowed this to come about.
c) Saving the Kittens:
Mike stepped in, and Kate and Kole backed him.  Which means that they weren't confronting the opposition directly.  Their assistance allowed Mike to save the brood. (A fictional group that only came into being when Iniskiss was contributing to the clan meeting).
d) Fighting the Demons:
Mike was taking direct action against the threat.  So was Davydd, once the throwing daggers came out.  Peter summoned forces capable of dealing with the overall threat.  James managed to smack a few around.  But Kole contributed his action to assisting another.  Nice move, but it meant he was exposed.  It was a STRETCH to assume that a character occupied helping another could be concentrating on protecting his rear end.  That meant a STRETCH: -6 to the Target Number, and a maximum result of Marginal Victory (this is a rule, but I flubbed it).  He rolled allright, suffered no personal losses, but didn't really contribute to the clan's overall result.  Kate's pet Hyena did have her back.

So, individually you all escaped unscathed.  Collectively you creamed the opposition (even if Kole and Kate were busy keeping their characters alive)

So: the color scenes and your interaction with NPCs and each other set up both the fictional and mechanical conditions for victory in the large-scale conflict which is to be the culminating point of every session.  Make those scenes count when you frame them.  Also, if you listen to what is being said by characters in those scenes, you can pick up on it and work it into your own scenes.   

Further updates may be found here: http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/glor_hq_tag


Title: Hyperlinks relevant to this topic.
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on May 18, 2012, 07:57:00 AM
Running a Setting-Heavy Game

- I speculated on such a Heroquest game years ago.  When I discovered Burning Empires I didn't need it.  But when I came back to Glorantha, this was the way I wanted to play.
http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=8448.0

- Initial attempt to do it was a little clunky:
http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=17251.msg182681#msg182681

- Ron's use of Glorantha as a theme-heavy setting, albeit with a different version of Hero Quest (Hero Wars) was and remains an inspiration.
http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=8448.0
http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=1093.0

GM-ing Examples to Follow

- what I am trying to take from sucessful experiences as a player, not GM:
- "[W]e ended up playing a pretty tricky scenario that had a pretty fine narrative resolution wherein a character discovered that he was not being cursed, but rather his true magical nature was making itself apparent and that he had to deal with the attendant social complications." This is a great way for the GM to create bangs.
http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?action=profile;u=56;sa=showPosts;start=240

Tying Setting to Character w. Bangs

- I have not addressed the Bang technique.  I used it very frequently in all of my sessions at the game.  But all of my Colour Scenes and the Connecting Scenes are setting up fictional positions that the players cannot ignore.  Or ignore at their peril.  Or deliberately ignore 'cause they have different fish to fry. But direct authoring of Bangs I didn't do in the recent game.
http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=27722.0

Augments (using one ability to assist another)

- Generally thought of positivley.  Latest iteration of the rules limits you to one augment: my players are always straining to add more
http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=9175.0

Dealing with the Depth of the Setting

- always a very touchy topic
- the problem of setting overload have been addressed in the most recent iteration of the game
- generating a character-centered sub-set of the broad setting has been mechanized in the form of clan questionaires in the Gloranthan material and the generalized community questionaires in the main rule books.
http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=9417.0

I need to start implementing more complete Extended Contests

- The early advice is still good, even if the most recent version of the game uses a simple "score 5 points" scale to determine victory rather than the large Action Point bids.
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8326
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8329
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8332

Christopher's Kubasic's Comments on Glorantha

- any relevance to his Play Sorcerer ideas?
- what does he think of the setting now?
http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=15188.0


Title: Hyperlinks relevant to this topic (continued)
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on May 18, 2012, 08:06:01 AM
stupit html code!

Advice on Introducing Newbies to the Game:

- http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=31598.0

The Pass Fail Rhythm

- http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=32632.0

Relating Stretches and Obstacles and Theme

- This discussion was the start of my attempt to get the pass/fail rhythm to work.  Looking back, it was a lot of sound and fury.  The act of defining a stretch is part and parcel of all the fictional positioning in the game.  The pass/fail rhythm has some interesting effects in modifying player expectations, behaviour, and use of currrency, but it is not really an obstacle to functional setting-heavy story-now play.
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=28304.0

- a discussion of Heroquest and the role of bringing chance into resolving fictional positioning and intentions
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=31269.0


Comments on the 'Thing' of Enduring Interest
- On the meta-PC in several games (Freemarket, Poison'd, Heroquest, Warhammer)
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=30173.0