Bell Digest sup06.txt

Supplement #6

First Distribution:  June 1,  1990

This supplement:
	Heroquest Questions and Answers			(Steve Maurer)


From: (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.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


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

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

    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:         ...!mcnc!unc!bell

Request old articles by volume number and issue number.