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Author Topic: [HeroQuest 2] New GM Advice...  (Read 4048 times)
Grognard
Member

Posts: 6


« on: June 25, 2011, 12:20:14 PM »

Hello everyone,

I will be using Law's HeroQuest 2 game to introduce a D&D4E group to something a bit more abstract and lighter on rules. I want to keep things relatively close feeling wise to D&D so I'm using a Pathfinder adventure Path for this. I picked up the Ye Old book but it left a lot to be desired.

I've read through a few posts here about HQ2 and really liked what I saw. Anyone have any thoughts or advice on running a HQ2 game in the vein of D&D? And anyone have any advice for a first time HQ2 GM? Any pitfalls, traps, or rules to be especially careful about?

Thanks.
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Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2011, 08:05:55 AM »

Hi,

I've played a bit of Hero Wars and Heroquest 1, so I'll point out the things that apply to HQ2, as well.

Player-defined Traits

This is a pretty big jump for folks coming from games with pre-defined attributes, skills, etc.  You're going to want to sit down as a group and talk about what fits and what doesn't fit as traits. 

There's a chance someone will put down, "Be Awesome At Everything", and you'll have to explain why that's not going to work.  (pg. 52 in HQ2, under "Stretches" is a good place to point to).

Putting that aside, the next one to worry about is when players put down a trait that is vague or can be interpreted multiple ways.  "What's 'Connected'?  Do you mean connected with the nobility and ruling class? Connected with criminals?  Having a lot of family or guild contacts around the world?  What?" 

Have a discussion, ask questions.  "Tell me how you'd use this ability, as an example" is a good way to go.  You may have this come up a few times after you start playing, but doing this early on teaches the group that this is a negotiation, not a shut down, but also that they're expected to be responsible in communicating as well.

Also let players know that defining their abilities the same way D&D did is just fine- "I've got Monk 17" - that a keyword.  Players can take abilities named after Feats and Class Abilities - "I've got Flurry at 16 and Power Attack at 2W" etc.

Describe what you do

Getting the players to remember to describe, what they're doing and how they're doing it during a contest is useful.  Remind them that it makes the difference between getting negative and positive modifiers.  "Situational Modifiers" on pg. 53 is a small paragraph, but a huge one in terms of how you should be using it.

Always give explanations of why something is or isn't working and give them the option of changing their mind, "That's going to give you a big penalty? Are you sure that's how you want to do it?".

If you don't get this habit going, what happens is players solely focus on the stats of the abilities, and they end up falling into using the same 3-4 abilities over and over, rather than branching out to a variety of abilities.   This is the HQ equivalent of "I roll to hit. I miss.  He doesn't get through my AC.  I attack.  I hit. 3 damage. Yawn."

Story logic

For the Herowars/HeroQuest games, it's pretty important to point out how much the logic of stories affects the rules.  Stuff like having a relationship at a rating seems weird until you point out that it gives Augments and such just like when a character in a movie has a flashback to a friend or loved one, grits their teeth and says, "This time, it matters!" and puts in their all.

This is also going to be a crucial thing to cover with regards to resolution points- the box on pg. 36 with "What Scores Represents" will be useful to go over.

Also, unlike D&D, it's not like the players need to "level up" to meet certain monsters- you should omit or skip repetitious battles - "You go down the hall, and it's MORE skeletons" is boring - get straight to the interesting and fun encounters, and be sure to play up advantages for doing stunts and using the environment- pushing foes into bonfires, pulling curtains over their heads, etc.

Chris
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Grognard
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2011, 09:18:28 AM »

Thanks for the tips, Chris.

I had the same thought about the vagaries of abilities so I'm starting by just "converting" their characters over to HQ2 for them. I'm also going to give them 2-3 abilities they can write down during play so they feel a bit of ownership instead of me just handing them characters.

I think the biggest hurdle for them will be the description. I tried before to introduce a Exalted style stunt mechanic where they got a bonus for describing their action but it just didn't take. One guy used the hell out of it but none of the others bothered with it. I'm thinking a more pared down declaration, say just goal, tactics, ability and augment will be a good start. For example: "I want kill the kobold by crushing him with my Giant Sword (augment) and my Fighter keyword." I'm not expecting miracles our first time out. I know a few of them will get into the spirit a bit more quickly than others and narrate a bit more than they should, but it'll be fun.

As for description, I'm working on that one the most. We're going to have maps and minis for fights (20+ year D&D vets who love them some minis), so the positional stuff should be covered, but I want to play up narrating the RPs as much as possible. I'm more of an improv style GM and a bit of an English major type, so hopefully it won't be too bad from my end.

I do have another question, for you or anyone else. I really like the way exchanges are set up, in extended contests the PCs square off against a target and go at it, with the PCs declaring their goal/tactics, we roll, and I narrate the outcome... but, other than when the PCs lose an exchange, when can the opponents be proactive? I want to do stuff like taking a hostage or whatever during an extended contest, but it looks like the only time I could is when the PCs lose an exchange. Yes, asymmetrical exchanges, but if the PC wins that exchange, the opponent doesn't get what they want. Anyone else spot this issue, or am I missing something?
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Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2011, 09:32:42 AM »

Hi,

Well, the book describes Extended contest rounds as a series of Simple Contests - and that Simple Contests can be "defensive in nature" - preventing an action, such as hostage taking.  HQ2 is pretty loose with it, so I'm guessing the assumption is that sometimes the GM will make the enemies proactive as part of framing the scene.   Given that this is loose and fudgey, it might feel like cheating to some players.

On the bigger picture:

Quote
I think the biggest hurdle for them will be the description. I tried before to introduce a Exalted style stunt mechanic where they got a bonus for describing their action but it just didn't take

Is the group, as a whole, actually excited and interested in playing HQ2?  Because if they're not really, then maybe this isn't the game to run with them.  If they are, they should be putting in some effort towards the game, and description is pretty much a core part of it, as much as tracking Feats and AoO's are part of D&D 3.X systems.

A good system is like a good flavor of ice cream - it's great for the people who want that flavor/type of game, and for everyone else, it doesn't matter how good it is- it's just not what they're into, no matter how much they try it.

Chris
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Grognard
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2011, 09:58:15 AM »

The group has been playing D&D4E for a year-and-a-half and most of us are becoming dissatisfied with the system for various reasons. One guy doesn't like how fiddly the combat system is and wants something looser, another player is young and new to gaming so she want to befriend the monsters at times, another is bored with our sessions being pure combat all night and only getting 10 minutes of non-combat every 3rd session or so, and another is nostalgic for 5 minute character creation and an entire character on an index card... there's more to it than that, of course, but those are the broad strokes.

They're not excited about HQ2 per se, more that we're growing dissatisfied with D&D. We're more casual so not everyone is going to read the rules before we play, we're a trusting group, so if someone wants to try something, it's a go for it kinda vibe. I think HQ2 will cure most/all of these complaints with D&D.
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Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2011, 07:12:08 PM »

Hi,

Quote
We're more casual so not everyone is going to read the rules before we play, we're a trusting group, so if someone wants to try something, it's a go for it kinda vibe.

One other thing that's useful to do with new games, in general, is to write a 1-2 page "quicksheet".  It's not just the rules you reference a lot, it's also a bit of emphasis on what rules the player should focus on and a few hints on how to best use the rules.

Check out the one I did for Burning Wheel:
https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AQRtXp2Cfy8pZGd4Y3hicGdfMjc3NW14ZGdjeA&hl=en

If you can give players a basic understanding of the rules in 2 pages (1 sheet, front & back) and expect them to read it, that's usually a good minimum rules commitment that isn't too hard.  It also helps you better understand the rules as a GM, as well, because you're practicing how you describe things both succinctly and clearly.

Chris
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Grognard
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2011, 10:28:14 AM »

The one-sheet is a great idea. I've heard about these in various places, but hadn't considered needing one for this. Thanks.

Any other hints, tips, or tricks to offer, Chris?

Or anyone else?
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Grognard
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2011, 08:50:47 AM »

So something like this?
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Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2011, 10:00:19 AM »

Hi,

Yeah, 2 pages is nice because you can print out a few of these to have handy at the table.  I'd probably also do some formatting with bold and italics, just because it makes it easier to read (and, if people are referencing it during play, you want it to be easy to navigate).

For me, personally, I try to make the one-sheets a little more casual in writing voice- use examples, things people might say, etc. When the one-sheet is all in "game text talk" it seems really abstract and people skim over it.

For example, I might say something like this:

Quote
Contests

When you get into a contest, I'll let you know if it's a Simple Contest (1 roll) or an Extended Contest (a series of rolls).  Tell me what your final goal is- what you want to have done by the end of the Contest.

"I beat him up a little, but mostly, I make him look like a fool" = good.
"I punch him" = bad.   Don't think of the step-by-step - think of the big picture.

Then tell me how you're doing it, and what ability applies.

It's kind of helpful to describe steps in play as a process and have active subjects in the sentences - "I do this" "You do this" is a clear process.

"The players frame any contest..." sounds like you're hearing it from a distance- we're talking about an abstract group of players somewhere else, "framing" ("what's framing?") something called a "contest".

Obviously, though, it depends on what works best for your group and their style of reading/learning, but generally I find the casual voice creates better retention and makes it easier to skim and refer to in the midst of play.

Chris
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Grognard
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2011, 09:40:07 PM »

Yeah, good points. I went with the style I'm used to, and honestly, I don't think I could fit all that on two pages using a more fluid and regular style, to say nothing of examples.

Thanks for the help, really. So, is HeroQuest not much discussed on these forums? You're the only one who's responded.
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Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2011, 08:32:11 AM »

Hi,

Usually I find the trick is to stick mostly to procedures the players need to remember rather than concepts.  You can explain a concept in person, but the procedure is the part the players will need to reference pretty often.   

For example, I'd probably cut out the part where you describe that you could have a Critical, Success, Failure, or Fumble- the chart basically makes that obvious.  And you can cut out the paragraphs describing what a Simple Contest is vs. an Extended contest- the hypothetical I posted earlier simply puts that into a single sentence. 

Then, when you play, you simply walk through the procedures- pull out the reference and show the players how what you're doing actually is what's on the sheet.  Then they figure out that it's useful rules and not those rules that never get used in a game.

(I also end up making quicksheets like this because it makes my life easier running games.  If I have to pick up a game, a year later, and don't remember the rules?  Quicksheet makes it easy.)

***

As far as discussion, there used to be a very active Hero Wars/Hero Quest forum here, and it's now all in the archives:

http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?board=13.0

Generally, discussion on the Forge moves slower than other forums- you may find a few more folks replying over the next 2-3 weeks.  The other thing, is that the forum has been winding down in population and activity. 

As a forum commmunity, we've hit sort of a weird imbalance in participation between actual play and game design- a lot of folks hear how the Forge is a great place to learn about design, but they miss out on the fact that good design comes from understanding play - so don't be surprised if the AP forum doesn't get as much movement as the game design forum.

Chris
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Chew
Member

Posts: 3


« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2011, 12:59:50 AM »

Hi Mr Grognard :)

My advice is to just go for it. By all means, give the players a crib sheet if you think they'll forget rules but HQ is so rules-lite I think you won't need to.

By "go for it" I mean: give them all an empty sheet, tell them this is the best way to learn to play and that you think HQ2 could address their woes about DnD.

Get them to make character names and a one-phrase descriptor to use as a major Keyword, including their profession, like: "hard-bitten, abused sailor" or "vain starship captain" or "tripped-out druid". Get them to write 17 next to that and say it's a Keyword and covers all the abilities that are reasonable under that heading. You can introduce the rules about that later.

Then frame an improvised scene for each of them (you could get them to write down Kickers beforehand to help you present a meaningful scene that 'grabs' them) so that you need to do a Simple Contest to resolve the conflict. Don't do the outcome narration for them but make sure they know whatever they say is okay, it doesn't have to be poetry, the only guide is whether the room-as-a-whole feels it's credible (the "is it lame?" test). Don't reward good narration, the reaction from the room is the right reward.

Next, demonstrate how failure is fun (note I didn't say "can be"). Frame a contest for them that can't be ignored and is unwinnable. Then when the outcome is a defeat, get them to narrate their own defeat [you can include all of the characters in this one contest]. Remember character death is not automatic in HQ - it's always with player consent (and many times, most healthy at their own suggestion - for a cool story ending or a poignant scene climax). You might like to show how the outcome of one contest can lead to another, especially if they were defeated. Oftentimes, in more traditional-style games, defeat is seen as a stop in the action for that character - in HQ this is not necessarily so.

That's all you really need to start playing. It will be easier to have fun with narration under this circumstance because they won't be too concerned with the future of their characters. You can introduce HeroPoints when you think they are comfortable with the rest - my advice with these is for the players to make the choice (whether to spend them) before any outcome narration. This way only one narration is heard, which is less confusing.

After this (which might be a whole evening if you let it grow naturally into an improvised scenario) you could see about playing your campaign. I'd really recommend getting them to make their characters from memory - I think it would be a mistake to convert every little facet that was there in DnD. HQ characters don't need to have complex skill lists. Use keywords to imply whole collections of skills - that way they can not only do what they did before but also what you all think a "wizard half-elf ranger thief" should be able to do but were afraid to fracture DnD for.

It's fully possible to play HQ2 for a whole campaign without ever using more rules than I mention above. You certainly don't need to use the full set - perhaps introduce some of the others as and when they feel right. Use Robin Laws' advice about when to employ things like extended contests.

I hope that's helpful. My intention was to show you can just start having fun in HQ within a few minutes. Might help with your player buy-in!

Oh, and remember the contests don't have to be combat. I recommend not framing combat scenes in the demonstration until they are having fun with non-combat ones.
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Web_Weaver
Member

Posts: 251


WWW
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2011, 01:12:30 PM »

It intrigues me that you would use a Pathfinder scenario, I find traditional scenarios very difficult to convert to HQ, due to the focus on stats, combat and obstacle based structures.

What kind of scenario have you chosen? How are you planning on using it?
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Web_Weaver
Member

Posts: 251


WWW
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2011, 04:15:23 AM »

I do have another question, for you or anyone else. I really like the way exchanges are set up, in extended contests the PCs square off against a target and go at it, with the PCs declaring their goal/tactics, we roll, and I narrate the outcome... but, other than when the PCs lose an exchange, when can the opponents be proactive? I want to do stuff like taking a hostage or whatever during an extended contest, but it looks like the only time I could is when the PCs lose an exchange. Yes, asymmetrical exchanges, but if the PC wins that exchange, the opponent doesn't get what they want. Anyone else spot this issue, or am I missing something?

I don't think you ar missing anything, I just think th rules are not adequate. The rules very shift from basic extended contests to large multi-party conflicts without really getting into any detail about how the extended contests are supposed to work.

In my opinion they don't work very well. My advice is to focus on the fact that even individual contests within an extend contest should be viewed as Conflict Resolution, and so each roll should be preceded with an emphasis on how each party is acting and how their intentions conflict.

So a direct answer would be do the declared actions of the NPCs throughout. The player will be actively acting against them with their intent either implcity or by implied goals.

I would also advise ignoring the advice on orthogonal conflicts in the rules, they are clouded and IMO try to fix a problem that isn't there.
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formen
Registree

Posts: 2


« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2011, 08:02:57 PM »

As other people have mentioned, I'd used fixed augmenmts over rolled ones as it saves a lot of time. Also, if you use magic/psionics/whatever, I'd give each one a rating and treat them all in the same way, it's faster than having special rules for each effect. Also, I wouldn't use Extended Contests, ever. Use Chained Contests from Mythic Russia instead as they are quicker, easier to use and, in my opinion, more satisfying
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