Please bear in mind when reading this that I don't have the rulebooks in front of me, I have never actually run a "by the book" Heroquest and I'm probably (mis)remebering HeroWars rules and (mis) applying them here anyway...
I think that the bonuses accrued from passing various stations of the Heroquest (can) have two main effects, one is to help determine the overall level of success in the whole quest, and the other is to apply to (a) subsequent challenge(s) within the quest.
Looking at the first one first - lets say the Heroquest in question is an Ernaldan Quest aimed at improving the yield of our crops. There are seven challenges, and each challenge successfully passed will result in a bountiful harvest - so succesfully passing every challenge will result in 7 years of plenty (this link may not be obvious to the Characters...)
In the second case, success from one challenge provides a "carry over" for a subsequent challenge. I can imagine a number of ways that this might work.
One is, as you appear to imply above, that a bonus is earned for a particular subsequent test. - so a Heroquestor following the "Red Riding Hood goes to feed Grandma" quest would get bonuses from successfully spotting her "Big Eyes", "Big Ears" and "Big Teeth" in the subsequent "avoid being eaten by the wolf" challenge. A questor might choose to forego the latter two challenges by attacking or fleeing after the first one.
In this case, obviously if you in some way avoid the subsequent contest you will "waste" the bonus (but depending on how you interpert the contests, if you avoid the subsequent contests maybe you are not doing the same quest any more?)
Another way is the "accumulator" approach. To use the same example, Spotting Grandmas big eyes gives you a bonus to spot her big ears, which gives a bonus to spot the big teeth etc. Again you could do this by saying "A complete success in this contest gives a +4 in all subsequent contests" (so reverting to the 7 challenges, if every contest is passed with a complete success the 7th will get a bonus of +24) or "A complete success in this contest gives a +4 in subsequent contests until such time as they amend this bonus" (so the first challenge is passed with a complete success giving a +4 to the second - thus increasing the likelihood that you will get a complete success there, and thus maintain the +4...)
This is definitely a case of success breeding success!
I think I'd be tempted to treat each contest on it's own merits rather than trying to rigidly apply the "rulebook" approach - that is for each "station" of the heroquest, look at what the benefits of succeeding are, and what the penalties of failing might be, and then decide how to apply this to either the final outcome, the future stations of the quest, both, or neither.
Like much of HeroQuest, its down to how you frame your contests. The Myth says you need to get past the Earth Guardian in order to bargain with Asrealia in her secret cave. If the contest is "Get past the Earth Guardian" then this becomes a "barrier" or "gateway" station - if you fail then you can't continue with the quest at all. If on the other hand it is "Get to bargain with Asealia in peace" then failure might allow you to continue, but give you a penalty on interactions with Earth Godesses for the remainder of the quest as the (Angry) Guardian continues to persue you having seen through your lies/sobered up/healed her wounds/seenor heard you behind her or what ever is appropriate to the nature of your failure...
Hmm, not sure if that answers your question or providses any help Rob, but stiul...
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