I ran my first Heroquest game last week and have a question about combat and goals.
BTW this was my first time using a narrative based system and it went very well. The players and I were apprehensive at first but after we got going it went smoothly. We had several automatic successes, four simple contests and one group simple contest (our only combat for the session). My question is about how I handled the combat contest.
The players were looking for a contact inside a town who would give them come critical information about some stolen goods. When they finally found the person they were looking for, they came across this scene:
"You find the contact that you are looking for suspended in the air (6ft), bands of dark energy are holding her body ridged and the look on her face is one of terror and exhaustion. Below her is figure wearing dark clothing and a rich deep purple cape. This dark figure is holding a thin bladed sword which glows with dark energy that matches the magic which hold your contact. He turn his head your direction when you enter the room, you notice that the shadows in the corner seem to move with him and everything becomes a little hazy as the lights begin to dim" what do you do?
Narrator "Lets frame the contest"
Group spends about 30 seconds arguing about what the goal is:
"we kill the guy in the dark clothes"
"no we need to save our contact"
The group finally decides that their goal is to free their contact and they would also like to kill or capture the man in black.
Narrator" ok on any success you will free your contact, however if you gain a major or complete victory you will also get the man in black. The man in black chooses to flee through a window (he is outnumbered and not stupid) while using his abilities to defend himself"
We roll for the contest
Player 1 uses her sorcery keyword ability (Good Witch) to neutralize the magic bands which hold the contact (she succeeds with a marginal victory against the resistance of the man in black's magic)
Player 2 attacks the man in black with his two handed sword (named Goat Brainer) resisted by the man in black's resistance (Player 2 gets a minor victory)
Player 3 attacks with her crossbow (she fails against a success)
So the players win with a marginal victory and we describe the following:
"Player 1, you call on your Good Witch magic ability, you see the dark bands of energy begin to dissipate around your contact. Player two, you cry out your battle cry as you charge the man in black's after a short bout of sword fighting, you feel Goat Brainer bite deep into his leg, blood sprays along the wall and into your face, temporarily blinding you. Player three, you are distracted by Player 1's battle cry and sudden charge, your bolt flies wild, the man in black gestures with his free hand and a bolt of dark energy rips into your chest, slamming you back through the door and into the hallway wall, the man in black makes a rude gesture and jumps through the room's window leaving a trail of blood along the floor"…
So my questions are:
If the man in black (me as the narrator) decided that death was fine then yes, any victory would result in his death. However if the man in black goal was to escape what decision should I make to keep the players satisfied? Should I use a major or complete victory for death or is this an example of mismatched goals from the rule book and play it as such?
Sorry for the long post but I needed to frame my question correctly!
BTW as a GM I felt a sense of liberation running HQ, all my prep (which wasn't much) was focused on advancing the story with my players, I only referenced the cheat sheet to figure out the resistance for the fight (which was a high resistance) and the rule book stayed in my bag the entire game. What a relief!
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