Hacking HeroQuest

edited May 2008 in Story Games
So, I've been running an Exalted HeroQuest, and very much hacking it to suit my purposes. At some point, I want to tweak my initial notes to fix some mistakes that I've seen. But most of those mistakes were, in my mind character creation, and I don't want to have my group recreate characters (since it works fine, it was just overly confusing), so I'm not sure when I'll get time to smooth that out.

But Denys asked me about one of my hacks in another thread, so I figured I'd start a new thread to talk about hacking HQ in general.
Posted By: Mike Holmes
Another fun effect of this system is that it means that incremental character advancement is replaced by getting whole abilities at a relatively "full" level of competence. This is something that people clamored for with HQ, and we've solved that problem. Using one system that covers both angles of abilities as "situational modifiers" and "character advancement."
Posted By: Alvin FrewerThat's awesome stuff Mike. I've been trying to implement that in HeroQuest in my Exalted game, and sometimes the numbers seem to be a bit funny. But that style seems to fit a lot better than the very low increases from spending Hero Points in HQ.
Posted By: DenysAlvin -- how have you been doing it? That is, what rating are you giving these temp abilities (via win/loss)?
I'm still playing with it, but here's what I've learned. I must say that these tweaks were inspired by the Other Worlds demo I played in almost a year ago.



  • The problem to get around is that characters seem to hover around 3-5 Hero Points. So, spending one to increase an ability is a big deal. And when their abilities are pretty much all at least one mastery, many of them two masteries, (effectively 25 to 50 in raw numbers) raising one by a point isn't a very big deal. Since augmentation plays such a big role (in my game anyway), you need to spend 10 hero points to see a +1 to augmentation. Since we are playing one hour every week, that's too slow, especially when in that hour one week to two months of game time might pass.

    So, anyway here's how I did it first. I let them set difficulties for themselves, basically. So, the Twilight craftsmand wanted to make a magical sword. He decided the target ability for the sword would be 10M2, (which we use as the baseline for Solar abilities, although he could have gone lower or higher). I made the resistance this ability plus one Mastery, however in hindsight might just make it even. So, he rolled his abilitity (which was 10M2 plus augments, somewhere around 7M3 if I recall...) against 10M3. If he had succeeded, he would have gotten the sword at 10M2. He didn't. He failed pretty bad, so I penalized his resources as normal - he wasted time and effort and had hampered his orichalcum penalizing further attempts, or any uses of his metals for a while.

    Then I started doing where the difficulty is what it is - which the big secret is it's something I make up depending on how they end up augmenting - that is, if it's a tough task I usually make it higher, if it should be easy I make it lower than their final target. With limits depending on the task at hand (most mundane things don't have more than a mastery, even if they pull together 13M4). Finding a competent and trustworthy commander for the army they are building, they roll and the results determine the quality of the commander. If their target was 7M3, then a Major Victory is 50%, so they get 12M. A complete victory is 100%, so they get a 7M3 ally. Anything under the minimum, sometimes 17, usually 5M, just gets set there. Since Marginal and Minor victories would be 1 and 6, which don't really pass muster, so I just go with a minimum rating. For the one guy, this is a relationship and a follower. When they were recruiting soldiers and workers in larger numbers, it's just a community relationship to the recruits.

    And the fun part is when they fail. Sometimes it's a failure. Othertimes, I still sometimes give them whatever they were going for. There's just a catch. They've pissed someone off, they got someone untrustworthy, there's going to be a horrible accident, or some other price to be paid. Great for generating conflict.

    Another secret is that I never give "bad" abilities as the sole cost of failure. There's always a concrete "you suffer minus X for some amount of time". Because HQ character sheets are just too large with too many abilities for me to remember that someone's Bloodthirsty or Broken Ribs should provide a -3 here. Now, they still might get the abilities, but it's on top of the suffering. Because once then penalty is gone, I want them to be tempted to use it and doing so benefits them, but adds interesting color. Adding Bloodthirsty to a fight is a very different fight than not applying it. Bringing in Broken Ribs will almost always be an interesting choice.

    But like I said, I'm still feeling this out. I think the right answer is a combination of these two. In that, they get to aim for a particular quality. And the level of success determines whether they reached it fully or only part way. This means you could really shoot for the moon, and with enough augments and spending a hero point for a bad roll, get a really powerful ability. I also haven't used this a whole lot with specifically learning new skills. Like if a character wants to learn how to sword fight? Well, what do you roll for that? That's probably a more general spend a hero point and take the new skill at 5M. Although, if a character had a relationship to someone who could train them, or something else clear to roll, there we go. (This really makes library research abilities useful.)

    And going back to my original reason for this, I want to figure out a way, using this similar system, to let them raise abilities. That's my next task. I have some ideas, but too much like the above, you could end up increasing an ability 150% quite easily (and sometimes even double), which is a bit too much. So far, it's mostly an outlet for gaining new augments. I have some hazy ideas, but nothing concrete. Maybe just adding augments is the way to go, but I really want abilities to be improved more easily, especially given the setting I'm using.

    In every case, a Hero Point must be spent to make it permanent. If not, they still get the ability, but I'm free to take it away when the right moment arises.
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