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Doomed Investigator
Sep 23, 2017
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Hey all I'm reading the terrific Prince of Sartar webcomic (wish it was collected into a book) and playing Six Ages on my work iPad (don't tell my boss, jk he wouldn't care) and have been thinking of picking up Heroquest Glorantha for a while and I'm tempted to pull the trigger while I await the hardcover for the new Runequest.


What are y'all's opinion of it?

Am I better off picking up the core Heroquest? I like Glorantha and this one sure looks purty. I've long wanted to give Heroquest a spin and I like starting with a pre-made setting/game concept because I'm deeply lazy.
It's both interesting and weird that Glorantha is associated with two such disparate rule systems - Runequest, which is moderately crunchy and fairly simulationist, and Heroquest, which is as narrative as a non-storygame RPG can be. And to top it all off, the naming is bound to be quite confusing for a newcomer, especially considering that "heroquests" are an actual thing in Glorantha.

I actually have this text, but like about half of my Drivethru library (oh who am I kidding, it's worse than that...), I haven't done more than skim. Right now, I'm pretty curious about how HQ handles magic. I'll check it out at some point today and let you know if I learn anything interesting.
I like what HQ in theory but never had the opportunity see how it goes in practice. It's simple, fast and super flexible. And this edition is perhaps the best prime to gloranthan characters Ive seen. Even if you get RQG this could be a good source of ideas and info.

One thing really I like about the game is how it discards HP all together and instead simply applies penalties to relevant abilities. E.g: if you got a major wound in combat, now you're at -6 to all your relevant rolls until you recover. And thats it.

About magic, that was the one field I found slightly complex. Don't remember specifics now, but being a Shaman implied some moderate rules/procedures memorization that felt weird to me, considering the overall simplicity of the rules. If Edgewise Edgewise don't ninja me, I may consult my book later and bring some specifics.
HQ is a good game, but I have never actually played the Glorantha version. I haven't seen the new RQ yet, but in general, I think that HQ is probably going to be better at the mythic feel that Prince of Sartar has.

Ultimately, I don't think there will be a right or wrong choice between the two. It's a matter of what you want from the system. I think HQ is great at mythic level Glorantha. I like earlier edition of RQ for playing gritty bands of adventurers wandering around Prax. The new edition seems to be trying to make RQ fill a space similar to what HQ covers, but I don't know how well it manages it.
OK, I've perused HQ and HQ:G...and I can't quite get a grip on magic. I think magic is one of those things where it helps to have some very concrete mechanics. Even freeform systems don't just leave it to a set of GM-defined abilities and wish you all the best.

That's sort of what the HQ core rules do...there's only two-and-a-half pages of rules, and they're more like guidelines. There are two systems: ability names only, and "detailed" descriptions. But nothing about casting times, rituals, fatigue, etc. Even in terms of guidelines. I guess you're being actively discouraged from thinking about those kinds of things.

HQ:G introduces a game mechanic called breakout abilities, which are sort of like ability specializations. This could ostensibly be used for having a "Flexibility" breakout ability from your "Agility" ability, but in practice it looks like they are intended to represent spells and other magical talents. Crucially, it looks like you can spend Hero Points to improvise spells in mid-scene. It feels simultaneously very genre-appropriate and like some hippie storygame bullshit.

The mechanics don't seem much crunchier for HQ:G except regarding progression and differentiation between shamanism, sorcery, etc. When it comes to the effects of magic, you can still choose to go with names-only or detailed descriptions. The nature of specific spells/charms/etc. seems constrained by runes, in the case of all Gloranthan magical effects, and certain trappings based on various traditions (grimoires for sorcerers, gods for priests, etc.). For this there are no mechanics, just guidelines.

This Heroquest stuff makes for some very odd reading. On the one hand, a lot of the things that are moderately crunchy even in highly abstract RPGs are hand-waved with very generalized mechanics.

But those mechanics! HQ resolution systems are simple at the core, but decorated by a vast number of special rules used to handle situations of varying scope and drama. If you just read the (helpful and necessary) examples of play that are provided in the text, it seems to attain almost Rolemaster levels of crunchiness at times. It's a blizzard of in-game terminology and OOC decision-making. YMMV!

Heroquest sometimes feels like a fundamentally different take on role-playing, and to my sensibilities, it's at once invigorating and revolting.
If Edgewise Edgewise don't ninja me, I may consult my book later and bring some specifics.
Don't let my read stop you. I'd appreciate some perspective from others, since my experience with HQ is derived purely from reading the rulebooks.
HQ is a good game, but I have never actually played the Glorantha version.
Have you used the core rules for magic or other kinds of powers? I'd appreciate hearing more about that myself.

I've recently been perusing different BRP takes on magic; Mythras most recently. The contrast couldn't be more extreme. Mythras' take on magic is, strangely, like a much more detailed version of my own for my D&D heartbreaker (I call it Empress). There's a lot I like about it; I particularly like the idea that different "levels" of fantasy (i.e. high, middle and low) could have different rates and methods of magic point recovery.

But I'm always open to more freeform and simple systems. I'm not sure if HQ is actually simpler than Mythras as a whole! But it certainly is much simpler for certain aspects, like how it defines abilities and how it refuses to establish specialized mechanics for specialized activities. So...interesting. A real apples-and-jet-fighters (*) situation.

* I refuse to subscribe to the popular notion that apples and oranges are somehow incomparable with respect to one another. I posit that oranges are generally superior. Come at me, bro.
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Nah. Tangerines is where it's at. :kiss:
I do not dispute this. I only state that, offered a choice between an apple and an orange, a person of good taste would select the orange. Barring a citrus allergy.

Moreover, even if you disagree with this and would choose the apple, you, too, put the lie to the notion that the two fruits cannot be compared. I ultimately submit to the notion that any preference is subjective, but not that that it is somehow impossible to choose between them. What could be more easily contrasted? They are both fruit of approximately the same size!

P.S. I like tangerines, too.
There's something for everyone.
Much like RPGs.
I have played the Colymar campaign with HQ:G and had an absolute blast.
I've tried GMing a couple of one-shots and I think it takes time to master as a Gm. But it's sooooo liberating...!
HeroQuest, like Fate, is one of those weird abstract systems which I really, really wish I’d be comfortable with as a GM, because it’d make my life so much easier. But I don’t think I ever will.

I posit that oranges are generally superior.

Not if you’re baking a pie! :hehe:

There’s a good analogy there but I leave it as an exercise to the reader.
Not if you’re baking a pie! :hehe:
I suppose not!

And yet [avert your eyes or make a Sanity check]...


Somebody call a cleric!
HeroQuest Glorantha is a beautiful book.
And HeroQuest is a great system, a bit more left of field than Fate, and I would love to see it do genres like Pulp Adventure, Contemporary Action, Murder Mystery and stuff like that.
As far as Fantasy goes, I think it would suit stuff like Wizarding World, or perhaps Fairy Tale-like Fables.
However I don't really like it for classic fantasy or mythic fantasy like Glorantha, I much prefer a crunchy system for this.

Personally if you are looking to play Glorantha, then I suggest waiting for RuneQuest Glorantha to be released, or 13th Age Glorantha (if you want to play a D&D variant in Glorantha) - either of these capture Glorantha much better than HQ in my opinion.

However many people love HQG, so experiences do vary. But for me, I prefer a more medium-crunch system to handle a setting like Glorantha.
I have to admit, my experience with HeroQuest is with the generic 2nd edition. I could see issues with the system arising if you got overly fiddly in trying to replicate the intricacies of a traditional magic system with it.

My impression of the game is that it works best the more you just stick to the core mechanic. There were a lot of optional flourishes in the second edition, but they really need to be used in moderation if at all. My feeling with HeroQuest was that it was a game that said everything that needed to be said in maybe 30 pages, but it needed to be about 100 pages because that's the way the RPG industry worked at the time.

When I see people running into issues with HeroQuest, it is often because they are treating all the optional subsystems as requirements. I suppose the Glorantha version might be taking a lot of those subsystems and making them part of the main game.
I have played the Colymar campaign with HQ:G and had an absolute blast.
I've tried GMing a couple of one-shots and I think it takes time to master as a Gm. But it's sooooo liberating...!

I would agree that it is liberating and I have taken a lot of stuff from HeroQuest back into RuneQuest.
And HeroQuest is a great system, a bit more left of field than Fate, and I would love to see it do genres like Pulp Adventure, Contemporary Action, Murder Mystery and stuff like that.

Apparently, they are coming very soon.

As far as Fantasy goes, I think it would suit stuff like Wizarding World, or perhaps Fairy Tale-like Fables.

HeroQuest would do Fairy Tales really well.

Mythic Russia had an element of this and it worked really well. But, there was a section where a bandit called The Fox was used in an example and the text said something like "However, you cannot use a Trap Tox ability to trap The Fox, as this is not a game about puns" - WRONG, this is exactly how I would use HeroQuest in this situation. Many a time, I have read a Fairy Tale and someone has used such an ability in exactly that way and I have nodded my head and said "That's clever".
I was just thinking about magic in HQ and why I find it so vexing.

The thing with HQ is that it abstracts so much of what happens into a universal resolution mechanic, and so relies strongly on GM adjudication. This is pretty easy when you're dealing with stuff you have references point for - maybe you haven't been in a sword fight, but you can extrapolate enough to lend verisimilitude. Magic, by contrast, is something we lack any real world reference for.

On top of that, most RPGs design the mechanics for magic carefully so they don't break the game. If PCs can keep spamming spells, they are more like superheroes than heroes or murderhobos. Unless those spells are very weak...which makes the a lot less interesting. Overall, the glass cannon approach makes the class fun to play without being overpowered.

The problem with HQ is that it's hard to define and apply those kinds of rules. There's just no concept of that kind of mechanic. Traits are just words or phrases. There are absolutely no special rules for subsystems. Which makes it really easy to describe a character or just wing things, but it's not so good if you want to simulate the nitty gritty of...anything.

The HQ rules give examples of spell that are pretty damn weak, and that seems to be the balancing feature. One example had a character trying to hide his village from some travelers by casting the spell Whip Up Snow, which basically makes it hard to see if there's soft snow on the ground. The travelers have a shaman with a Find the Path spell, and they win the contest. I don't know if my heart can take that kind of excitement. Can you imagine picking the spell Whip Up Snow? Intentionally? Perhaps you thought it meant something else.

In conclusion, my inclination with HQ is to leave magic to the NPCs. While I believe that too many RPGs lack the courage to do this, I don't think Glorantha is the right place for that. The idea of magic being common is very much baked in to the setting. Certainly, HQ:G drops all the rules for POW and rituals that have been in RQ since the start. Is that Glorantha anymore? I feel like it would play very differently.
Agreed. I like HQ, and I'm also a long term Glorantha fan; but for me the two don't mix well.
RQ works well for Glorantha, and that's always how I'll play it.
HQ is it's own thing, and I feel it will be great emulating some settings and genres, although Glorantha certainly isn't on that list.
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I don't see it as an either/or myself. RQ is the realm of mortals, HQ would be the world of demi-Gods. Certainly from what I've read and as Baulderstone says to try and capture something like Prince of Sartar I think HQ should fit better than RQ. Freeform magic doesn't bother me so I doubt that will be too much of a hurdle.
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