How to run a heroquest

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These are a collection of notes that I've developed while running a couple of Heroquests in my Gloranthan role-playing games. I've also included a couple of sample heroquests that I've run. I ran both of these before I got hold of the Heroquesting rules in the Hero Wars/HeroQuest games. Not that that stopped me, as both of these quests were run diceless and effectively mechanicless.

The two Heroquests are both 'initiation' type quests, where the questor(s) delved into the deeper mysteries of a god in order to gain extra powers and a greater understanding of their place in the world. The first quest was in a Praxian game, when Stars-Not-Shine became a shaman. The second quests was for a group of PCs in the Troubled Waters campaign heard the Voice of the River. As these were initiation quests, the important factors were to do with the questor's attitude and actions, rather than with raw abilities.

From my experience developing and running these quests, I have come up with some advice that I hope others will find useful. My tips for running heroquests are:

Be sure the players trust the GM

Any heroquest is a dangerous undertaking, and these sorts of quests can be the culmination of a major plot for the character. As a GM, the amount of power you have over the character becomes obvious, while many of the in-game limits are removed (the character is, after all, in the Heroplane, where normal rules no longer apply). Before a player will commit his character to a quest, he has to be sure that the GM won't abuse that power, and will make sure the story progresses in an interesting way, regardless of whether the character succeeds or fails in the quest.

Think on several levels

In all quests, there is the overall story that the questor is following, and there is the precise sequence of events that occur. In many cases, the correspondence between these is not obvious, and the questor has to interpret what is happening in terms of the myth. For instance, the events in Stars-Not-Shine's quest can be interpreted at three different levels.

Link the events to the questors

What someone finds on the Hero Plane is often a reflection of who they are and what they have done in the mundane world. It makes the quest more personal and immediate if the events in the quest are directly related to the questor's life.

Make internal dialogue external

In all Heroquests, and particularly initiation-style quests, a great focus of the quests lies in how the questor challenges and overcomes their own limitations or connections. Much of this is in terms of a character's internal dialogue. It's more fun for the other players, and adds spice to the questor's player, if this internal dialogue is made explicit.

Ensure the players know the myths

After all this preparation, it helps if the players understand what is going on, and can react appropriately. They won't be able to do this if they don't understand the myths behind the events they're playing through. Either make sure the players have prepared and read all the relevant myths beforehand, or prepare handouts for them.

Don't bother with rules

The two quests I've run were both in games that didn't have rules for Heroquesting. However, in both of these cases, the quests were really about the initiation of the character or characters into some form of deeper mystery about the world. In these cases, the important factor in whether the quest succeeded or not lay in the attitudes of the characters and the actions they attempted. I generally considered that all appropriate actions the characters would take would succeed. The key to the quest lay in what they did and how they acted, and what they learnt about themselves.

These are my quests. I hope you enjoy reading them, and that they help to make your next heroquest sessions even more fulfilling and entertaining.