Supplement #6 First Distribution: June 1, 1990 This supplement: Heroquest Questions and Answers (Steve Maurer) -------------------- From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Maurer) Subject: Heroquest Questions and Answers ( WARNING: LONG ) This is a list of questions and answers about the Heroquest system, and the Gloranthan universe it was meant to support. Hopefully it will clarify many of the outstanding questions people have on the system. WARNING: THE GLORANTHA DESCRIBED HEREIN, INCLUDING REFERENCES TO CHARACTERS AND PLACES LISTED IN OFFICIAL CHAOSIUM PRODUCTS, ARE NOT OFFICIAL. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - HEROQUEST QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Q: Just to get this straight let me ask about an example. Does this mean that one could travel back to Balastors last stand, and see where he put the axe? If so I assume that you would become one of the people involved in the battle, and would have to try very hard to avoid getting killed again. A: You could easily travel back to a shadow of the Event. Most likely you'd be killed. You would have to either tougher, luckier, or have some special magic to escape death. However, this is just the beginning of a set of extremely tricky maneuvers you'd have to pull to actually locate the axe. First you would have to find a path of a close companion of Balastor's shadow. "Being" Balastor wouldn't tell you a thing about where he hid the axe (as you would be the one trying to find a place to hide your own weapon). You would have to find the path of someone near enough to be able to spy on him when he hid the axe, be good enough to not be seen by Balastor, and then diverge from the path at exactly the right moment to save your precious skin. Balastor wasn't an idiot. He *carefully* looked around before hiding his famous (and deadly) axe, and there was nobody around when he did. This means the "path" is that nobody saw where he hid it, so at this point you'd have to diverge from the path "forcing" the shadow to take a different course than the original. The universe doesn't "like" this, especially when a path is so "profound" (so many other paths depend on this happening), so it takes quite a bit of WILL-struggle/cleverness to change things. Luckily for you, you are (if you were smart) only on the path of a minor player (who "should" be fighting for his life and eventually get killed), so it isn't impossible to change things. Difficult yes, impossible, no. Standard tactics wouldn't work. If you beat the Troll that is supposed to kill you, another Troll simply steps up, and you still don't get to see where Balastor hid the axe. Running away from your enemy so you can find Balastor would collapse the defense line. This does alter your shadow from the original, but probably just to hasten your demise. One method that would succeed is to have already prepared a handy homonculous which looks exactly like you, which you can switch in. Then it can die in your place, leaving the shadow "happy" that not much has to change. Finally, you would have to get out of the shadow not being killed. Since you already have (presumably) forced this path away from the original one (but close enough to get the knowledge you wanted to obtain) this is nowhere near as difficult. Perhaps even a simple Concealment spell would do the trick, hiding out until things were safe. Note that shadows do very strange things when you totally break them. Lets assume in this scenario, you find a way to *poof* get Balastor out of his situation. ( He'll fight you, because he is sworn to defend Pavis, but lets assume you do it anyway. ) The universe will shift slightly, and there will be a slight darkish smokiness about Balastor. Either he will disappear, or (more likely) he will change to someone who was caught on Balastor's path. This smokiness, by the way, is Arkat's inspiration for calling these reenactments "shadows". The reason this happens is that "shadows" are the result of interacting with "Events" -- static moments which have always been and always will be, embedded forever in the foundation of reality. If you bend shadows too much, then the correlation disappears between it and its corresponding Event. Of course, Shadows are also their own Events -- if you die in one, then your death at that moment can't be undone. (Though you can be resurrected later). It can get incredibly tricky to follow the path of a hero who was himself following the path of someone else. Shadows within shadows within shadows; and even deeper levels of subtlety are possible. Q: (referring to the question about Balastor's Last Stand) Are you at that time on the hero plane? A: Yes. ALL Events which happen within Time become incorporated into the Heroplane, so you may revisit their Shadows, and be affected by them. However, unlike things which occur Before Time, all "history" within the Compromise is protected; its Shadows have no power. This is a very subtle concept. It bears further explaining. Say you are a superhero of Humakt, and you want to hurt the cult of Zorak Zoran. It is perfectly possible for you to go back Before Time, honorably attack Zorak Zoran, and slay him. Doing so (if you are able) doesn't change the fact that he lived. The original Events of his life and deeds still exist. However, by killing him, you have now created a very strong Shadow of his death, which damages his power and his cult within Time. Runespells based on Events after you "slew him" loose much of their power from the moment you return to Time. This is how the Trollkin curse was effected. Gbaji went Before Time, and wounded Korastang with his Adamantine Claws (actually, he ripped out her womb). Thereafter within Time, Trolls could no longer reproduce normally. However, Shadows of Events within Time have no substance. They not only can't be undone, but they cannot be overlayed. Go back 100 years to slay your enemy's grandmother, and you do nothing but gain your own personal satisfaction. It will harm neither him nor her. Shadows of Events within Time can affect nothing but yourself. This doesn't mean Heroquesting within Time isn't occasionally useful. For example, while you cannot retrieve even a Shadow of Balastor's Axe (it would either turn to smoke, or the weapon of the last person caught on Balastor's path), by witnessing where he put it, you might be able to retrieve the real Axe once you have exited the Heroplane. However, the vast vast majority of heroquests are made Before Time. Not many understand the intricacies of getting When you want to go when walking the Shadows of Events within Time. Because of this, "Heroplane" is invariably confused with "Before Time". Please understand that these subtleties are understood by very very few people in Glorantha. Q: I don't understand how these "Shadows" work. If I find a Truestone on a path, could I just constantly rewalk the path again, finding the same Truestone over and over? A: Yes and no. YOU would never find the Truestone again. In fact, you can never walk in your own path. In a sense, once you have walked a path, you are always walking it, always walked it, always will walk it. Your path always was and will be. So you cannot walk in your own footsteps for much the same reason that you can never meet yourself. However, others may walk your path and find the Truestone. Actually they find a "Shadow" of the Truestone, which has lesser power than the original. If you are Before Time, this Shadow has substance, and can be brought back within Time (they get a truestone). Of course, the others must brave shadows of the dangers you faced as well. How can anything constantly appear at a spot and have reality? It's a mystery to all except masters of the Infinity rune. Q: What would happen if I tried to walk my own path? Is there a barrier? A: Not in any traditional sense. You simply will find the path as you left it. No shadows of events will replay for you. If you killed a beast here, when you rewalk the path, you will find its body as you left it (unless someone healed it). Q: Do these Shadows have anything to do with the Amber series? A: No. The original term Arkat, the first heroquester used, was a term best translated to: "as Smoke". When he became a Troll, he started to use the term "Shadow" the way the Trolls mean it (as in the famous statement 'Zorak Zoran is Xiola Umbar's shadow'). This is very difficult Darktongue word to translate, but it basically means something like "derived essence and opposite". In any case, Zelazny's Shadows were alternate timelines. Gloranthan shadows are images of the same event, which differ from the original only in that different players now play them out. Q: You also bring up the point about eating portions of enemies you defeat, and thereby gaining a portion of their power. Since there are very few cults that would prohibit the eating of unintelligent animals, can you eat a portion of an antelope to gain some of its swiftness? In doing so are you likely to lose intelligence? Or is does the process of gaining their power require use of the chaos or darkness runes, and therefore would be avoided by all right thinking people? A: There is nothing to prevent this, although you may find that the intelligent ('pre-WAHA') antelope of the Hero Plane might take exception to the idea of you dining on one of them, and kill you. I suppose you could bring a normal antelope onto the Hero Plane to have a feast, but it's unlikely you'd get much out of it. Antelope are fast yes, but not preternaturally fast. The amount of Mobility mastery you might get from one would be around 5%. Also, even assuming everything is perfectly wonderful for your feast on Antelope flesh, you still have to effect a permanent change on yourself, which isn't the easiest of WILL rolls to make. Probably for something so minor it would be a x1/4 WILL, however the Antelope would still be alive resisting your WILL as long as it was able. Finally, as far as Darkness and Chaos are concerned, no there isn't a specific injunction. However, since you are dooming the antelope's spirit to wander lost for all eternity throughout the Heroplane (no doubt eventually to be eaten by something really nasty), the Waha, Eiritha and Storm Bull cult would be pissed off as hell against you. Besides, I have always made it a point to describe to my players exactly what their PCs have to do to do these things -- eating things "alive" like this is very stomach turning. Q: How does one normally get to the hero plane? I recall seeing in a Glorantha cult writeup under runespells, "Six stones heroplane ritual". I presume that that particular ritual works only from that one gate. Is something like this the normal way? A: There are thousands of ways of getting onto the Hero Plane. None of them are easy. Many D.I.s will do it, especially if you are following a known path (these may even be a set cost such as 2 pts POW). Some of the most powerful cults have resuable runespell rituals which get you onto certain paths. There are also ways that don't involve magic. One way is to simply walk off the edge of the world ( Time only has a specific physical range in Glorantha ). Another is to climb in the cracks of the Block. There are quite a few of these, and they all lead somewhere (they go both UP and DOWN). The Praxian eternal battle is a gateway, but you must beat up a demon of reasonable power (a shadow of the devil). You can even WILL your way on. Curiously, this becomes easier as you gain more powerful/features. After a while, heros become "Hero Plane buoyant", it takes Will NOT to walk onto the Hero Plane. This is Time actively trying to kick you out. ( No PC is ever expected to have this problem ). Many of these paths will have a shadow of Humakt there blocking the way. Humakt doesn't trust anyone (other than his own cultists) not to misuse the power of it -- you can live forever on the Heroplane, if you just wanted to sit around forever. He will demand that the PCs leave their bodies behind and accept death if they wish to enter the realm of the dead. However this is an extremely weak shadow, since it was made only very recently when the cult had comparatively little power. Much of the time, the PCs may see "Humakt" as a Humakti cultist. They can often persuade the Humakti to let them pass, challenge him to a Humakt duel to the first blood, or murder him by surprise (I TOLD you it was a very weak shadow). Q: Must everyone who is going know a ritual? A: No, not at all. You may even be unwilling. Q: What is the reason for the weapon difficulty modifier? A: It is aesthetically pleasing. It fixes a long known, long unfixed bug in the Runequest rules system that I had long arguments with Steve Perrin over about 6 years ago. Training aside, parrying with a dagger is inherently more difficult than parrying with a shield. Weapons which require skill to wield don't just start at lower percentages, they are actually more difficult to use at all levels of expertise. Q: You say that a Mistress race troll starts out with a 50% percent mastery of the darkness rune. Does this mean that their relationship to the rune doesn't change until they make it above the Runelord, high priest level? A: Runic relationships are additive by a special formula. Highest Qualifying Relationship plus 1/2 (Next Highest - 10). Anything beyond that doesn't add enough to make a difference. Example: a Mistress Race Troll has a 50% relationship with Darkness. When Initiated into Kyger Litor, she has a: 50% + (15% Initiate - 10 Base) / 2 = 52% relationship with Darkness. As a Rune Lord High Priest, she has a total relationship of 50% + (40% RLHP - 10 Base) / 2 = 65%. And if she tied herself directly to Subere, the Rune of Hell Darkness, she would have a 60% (Darkness Tied) + (50% Mistress Race - 10% Base) = 85% association with the rune. At that point, association with Kyger Litor means nothing so far as the Darkness rune is concerned. This extends to cults with bindings to the same rune as well. A Humakti who joins one of the Hunter cults will mildly increase his association with Death. Q: Do you have a clear concept of how spells are created? A: Yes. Briefly, most spells are simply formalizations of Heroquest powers, bequeathed via the Trade/Teaching (Issaries) rune. Here's how it works. You, Joe Blow hero, superhero, or demigod, go waltzing around the Heroplane for a couple of thousand virtual-years. During that time, you either learn some hero power from someone or something on the hero plane, or you develop something yourself. You get so good, it's now rather natural to you. (This takes a little work.) Not being the typically greedy and/or cautious hero, rather than keeping this ability to yourself (to surprise your friends and neighbors with), you decide to teach it to someone else. In general, this happens because you're thankful to someone. Your God, for instance. So you go pay him/her a visit, and say: "Hey! Look at this neat ability! Wanna learn how to do it too?". And, presuming you're not trying to Illuminate the Storm Bull, or showing Humakt resurrection, gods are generally glad to learn this stuff. And it becomes a new cult spell. You then either go back onto the mortal plane to start teaching the spell to others, or some priest, informed that there's a new spell up here for him to learn, will go through the considerable hassle of coming to pay you a visit. In any case, you end up teaching others the spell, get little shrines dedicated to you inside the temple of your God, and you escape the cycle of mortality and get to sit at your God's side in Heaven for all eternity (wherever s/he's taken up residence). Of course, no one else can ever do your ability quite as well as you can, but that's the breaks. Kaarg, Kyger Litor's son, could chop down any tree in one blow; he teaches the Axe Chopping song (which is a Battle Magic spell in my game). Also, if it's a really powerful ability, which would cause Time to resist its use, the worshipers will have to put permanent POW into it (thus it becomes a Runespell). You can do this with entirely new skills as well, if you wish. The Yelmalio Kushile Horse Archery skill is an example of this. Q: You say that Heros have certain advantages (e.g. god tolerates hero ignoring the minor cult restrictions, or a hero has a higher will), but you never give a definition of a hero. Are there well defined requirements? If not, are there vague requirements? Will several successful tough missions for your cult suffice? A: This varies from god to god. Just walking up to most gods as saying "Hi-ya god, how's things in the diety business?" or some such, is usually enough to make you at least a (very) minor hero. Note that just meeting your God is usually much tougher than going on 'tough missions' for your cult on the normal plane. The hero plane is no place for wimps. The reason why meeting your God is so important is that on the God Plane, he can shower you with the riches/power you naturally deserve, instead of having to obey the strict laws of Time. From the Godly perspective, it's kind of like switching a Queen for a Pawn under the table, when the Pawn fell off the chessboard - a cosmic form of cheating. Of course, the God has to really trust you to do this. Plenty of gods have put in the effort to train some "hero", only to be betrayed later. This is why it's important to have risked your skin for the cult before you heroquest to find your god. It's also another reason why gods are more lenient towards heros than other cult members vis a vis cult restrictions. Strange though it may seem, gods need heros much more than heros need gods. It does a god no good to piss off a hero telling him he has to go to mass every Fireday, instead of planning his next cult quest. Q: I have heard that one of the benefits to being a hero is that your racial maximums cease to exist. Is this one of the things that you support? A: Natural "limits" only exist for "training", a Natural Process within time. These limits don't exist on the heroplane, but neither does normal training. You have to find somebody able to Train you, gift you with the characteristic you wish, or steal it yourself. Naturally, any bonuses you get Before Time can be brought back (subject to Time's increasing resistance). Q: How is the hero plane related to the spirit plane? A: The Spirit plane is sandwiched between the mundane universe and the God Plane. However, while the Spirit Plane connects to all areas of the mundane universe, it only connects to one area of the God Plane: the Halls of Judgement. It is there that spirits go to be judged by Daka Fal. Other gods are also there, to claim the spirits that are theirs. The Halls have their Chaos equivalent as well, though not much is known about them. Once a character is dead, there is a constant pressure from Time to join the ranks of the dead, to be judged. For there, eventually, lies reincarnation and new life. Spirits must make a Will x 5 roll to defy the Compromise and resist this pressure. Spirits also need plenty of Magic Points to resist it as well, which disembodied spirits recover at only 1/5 the normal rate. Of course, Runespells can alter even a Spirit's Will in the matter. Create Ghost forces the spirit to stay. Free Ghost forces the Spirit to the halls of Judgement (as does Cremate Body). While it is possible to go to the heroplane from the Halls of Judgement, it requires an extreme act of Will: defying Daka Fal. If you do so, you will be effectively booted out the back door and left to find your own path towards reincarnation. Q: Could a PC go to a god, and request some of his blood? Wouldn't this be a cheap way of making Power Crystals? Maybe it costs the god POW or something. A: Gods generally don't give blood. That's ok though, usually you can find it easily enough on the Hero plane. You just have to avoid getting bitten by whatever was able to break the skin of the god. Simple. Right? --- The RuneQuest(tm) mailing list is a courtesy of Andrew Bell. All opinions and material above are the responsibility of the originator, and copyrights are held by them. RuneQuest is a trademark of Chaosium, Inc. Send submissions, mailing list changes, requests for old article lists, etc. to: email@example.com ...!mcnc!unc!bell Request old articles by volume number and issue number.