From: Mike Holmes <homeydont_at_...>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 13:29:14 -0600

>From: "bankuei" <Bankuei_at_...>

>Hi Mike,
>I'm sure you and I share the same heresies, but I was wondering if you
>had an official list of heresies- like your "Standard Rants". It might be
>interesting to put together a HQ Heresy Guide. :)

Everyone should realize that before the request that I had no such list of Heresies. I was merely being tongue in cheek, and simply trying to say, "just how I play" in a new and less boring manner.

As such, the following list the ways that my game tends to vary from play produced from more traditional readings of the rule book. Hopefully much of it will be non-controversial, and most importantly, these are in no way an attempt by me to say that this is the "One Way" to play HQ. They are the way that I find works best for me, but I believe that every game has it's own unique requirements, and everybody needs to have their own interpretation of how to play the rules. In fact, its unavoidable that this happens.

Somehow whenever one states their preferences, they come off as saying that everyone should play the way they do, and I'm no exception. I'd just ask that everyone believe that the caveat above is true here, and anywhere else I give my opinion. That doesn't mean that I'm unwilling to discuss the interpretations of the rules that I have below, but merely that saying that they don't support some style of play that they're not supposed to support is in no way contradicting anything that I've said - a complete non-argument. The only answer you'll get to a "that won't work for me," is "well, I didn't say it would."

Further, the list is likely to be incomplete, and contain errors. Feel free to point out my abuses of the rules, or any other problems.

Mike's Heresies

Mike's Heresy #1 points out that there's nothing in the rulebook that says you have to play adventures like the samples provided (including the published works), with the possible exception of the rules for HP distribution. In fact, the rulebook can be read to indicate rather more freedom than many of the adventures would indicate. So, given that the samples are just that, samples, there's no reason why one shouldn't play "Bang Driven" sessions instead, or any other functional style. The one hitch is that one has to interpret the term "Adventure" in the HP rules as meaning "A Dramatically Appropriate Volume of Play" and decide then when these end in their game. One common method that works is to give them out per session.

Mike's Heresy #2 points out that, implicit evidence in the samples of play and adventures notwithstanding, there's no rule that says that the players have to play as a "party." Meaning that one is free to play using "Scene Play" instead. Meaning that instead of assuming that the PCs are all together all of the time, they all go off and do whatever is most appropriate to them at any given time. Given the virtues of HQ, this works amazingly well.

Mike's Heresy #3 points out that there is no way for a character to be taken from a player in HQ, without the complicity of the narrator. First, at no point does the narrator ever have to create a contest with potential results that would effectively eliminate the character from suitableness to play. Second, even if one does create such a contest, the worst result possible only indicates that the character is potentially damaged in the way indicated - that is, "dying," not "dead." Meaning that any manner of contrivance can be used to save said character from elimination. If this seems too metagamey, to save a character repeatedly, then one should consider that the problem is that they're placing the characters in a position of potential elimination too often (one could say that even once is too much), and that they should solve the problem at the level of selection of conflict. What this means is that no player has to ever worry about engaging in any contest, and no narrator has to worry about "accidentally killing the party."

Heresies #1 - #3 can be combined and summarized as: In HQ, Failure is Always an Option. Unlike other game systems where failure can mean the end of an adventure, or the end of the game, even, in HQ, failure means more fun stuff happens.

Mike's Heresy #4 points out that the only consistent reading of the rules regarding impairment implies that the "Dying" result really means that the source of the conflict is eliminated from the game. If one looks carefully at the dramatic source of a conflict, it's not always the most obvious choice. The source of conflict in a hunting contest is in getting game from the forest, not in slaying one deer. Thus, one can kill a deer on a marginal success, because the conflict will still remain. Should he try again, he'll have to roll again. Only once he has gotten a Complete Victory result will he be able to go into the woods and always come back with food again sans a roll in the future - the hunter has conquered that woods in this way. Similarly, killing nameless mooks, if there are more yet to slay, does not eliminate the challenge they pose. So a marginal success can mean the death of innumerable mooks (we're sure Mr. Laws knows what we're talking about here). In many ways, Heresy #4 is just the contrapositive to Heresy #3.

Mike's Heresy #5 points out that nowhere in the book does it explicitly say that ability ratings are direct indications of the potency of a character in-game. While it's convenient to think this way in most cases, in certain others it's very useful to be able to see that the numbers are just ink on a piece of paper that the player is holding, and meant only to generate interesting outcomes in play. Using this logic, all questions of things like appropriateness of abilities, and whether Big 17 is larger than Large 15, become very simple to answer. Be forewarned: Achieving understanding of Heresy #5 requires a Zen like approach that requires that one want to understand it first. If you don't want to understand it, you never will.

Mike's Heresy #6 points out that the book says that NPCs never have contests if you read it one way. Basically NPCs can always be resistances to overcome, or augments for the Hero. Otherwise, if they are the "primary" characters in some conflict, the narrator should just narrate the result. Sans a Hero being involved, there can be no roll involved. This informs everyone that play centers around the Heroes.

Mike's Heresy #7 points out that the book says that the contests to become a member of a religious organization, and all of the contests in the adventures, etc, are actually examples, and not in any way "official" rules of the game. That is, one should feel free to skip these contests, unless they're an interesting part of ongoing play. Or should feel free to substitute in better conflicts, more suited to the heroes at hand. Put more succinctly, it's always better to construct a contest from the conflict at hand, or even better the conflict that's central to the character, than it is to railroad players into a contest in which they may not be interested.

Mike's Heresy #8 points out that there's nothing in the book that says that you are required to stat out an NPC, or any other resistance, before a contest. So, worried about making sure that the character is of an appropriate level of difficulty for the character to make the contest go like you want? Then simply wait for the players to add up all of their augments, and make up his one number on the spot. Use good knowledge of the in-game scale, and whatever other tools you need to do this well, but once you practice a little, it becomes very easy to do.

Mike's Heresy #9 points out that all contests are equal, despite some heavy examples that would seem to privilege combat. Better stated, there is no "combat" in HQ. There are some contests that involve fighting and such, but the rules apply to these contests in precisely the same way as any other contest. This should inform players that all contests are of equal value potentially. While there's nothing wrong with a good rousing fight, the appearance of said sorts of conflicts should be precisely as common as dictated by the needs of the story, and no more. Meaning that some will have not one fight at all.

Mike's Heresy #10 points out that, unlike most games, the way to achieve Maximum Game Fun in HQ is not to ignore the rules, but to apply them quite vigorously. In fact, ignoring MGF is the only Heresy that actually alters the HQ rules dramatically. Which is quite ironic. The only rule to ignore is the rule that advises to ignore other rules.


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