At last after months of procrastinating on my part, here’s the second part of my HeroQuest 2 preview. Was it really back in October when I wrote the Introduction? My how time flies 😉
I’ve now got the final laid out with art Pdf courtesy of Jeff Richard from Moon Design. This is the version that if you are going to Tentacles you’ll be able to pick up and will be available world wide July 1st. I’m still going to still with this being a preview. I find HeroQuest 2 is a complex beast and what I’m trying to do here is give you a quick run down of what’s in store. I’m going to try keep personal opinion to a minimum, but it may bleed out since I’m quite an opinionated guy 🙂
A Colour cover (by Jon Hodgson), black and white interior, 130 pages long
Contents of the book (taken directly from Tentacles Pdf with page numbers left in)
Creating your Character 9
Character Creation Methods 15
Overcoming Obstacles 21
Hero Points 57
Playing Stories 67
Running Contests 79
Community Resources and Support 87
Gaming in Glorantha 107
Quick Reference 123
Layout and presentation: Clear throughout and an easy read as a result.
Art: A mix of Gloranthan and generic art, mainly fantasy.
The main thing about HeroQuest 2 and how you see it is your expectations of what it is. I struggled with this for a long time and it did colour my opinion of it initially, since depending on what I wanted out of the book on a particular day (us Newts are moody creatures you know) coloured how I viewed the book.
Is it a traditional RPG book? No. HQ2 doesn’t fall into the RPG Stereotype of a a nice cosy introduction, character generation chapter, list of skills, combat, Magic/Powers, Games Masters guidance and starting adventure . It has elements of what you’d expect from a RPG book, as you can see from the contents list above, but there’s no skill list (since you very much make skills or abilities on the fly to meet the needs of the game) and no honking great combat chapter. Instead you get a single d20 dice mechanic that is used for everything from magic, combat (both personal and mass) and social interaction. Nearly Half of the book is given over to guidelines and examples on how to use this single dice mechanic. So if you were expecting a traditional RPG book you might be disappointed. HeroQuest 2 expects and supports the sort of player/games master (or Narrator) who is quite happy to pick up the rules and craft a setting, characters and adventure. If you want your gaming experience to be laid on for you in a series of steps you will end up be sorely vexed by HQ2.
An update to HeroQuest 1 ?. Sort of. I’ll go into this in more detail later on, but while it addresses the problems people encountered playing HeroQuest 1st edition, it shifts the paradigm of the game from a mix of numbers and description to firmly into the description taking the front seat and the numbers fading into the back ground. HQ2 moves away from the simulationist/narrative mix of HQ1 to a firmly narrative approach. In short don’t expect to see the table of example resistances or monsters with numbered stats in HeroQuest 2. If this phases you HeroQuest 2 may not be the HeroQuest you are looking for, or you’ll be nicking the bits you like and running a hybrid (HQ1.5?)
A Gloranthan roleplaying book ? Sort of. Lots of examples throughout the text, which should help established Gloranthaphiles move over effortlessly and there’s the new approach to Gloranthan Magic which is as an Appendix (to put it away from all those people who are expecting a purely Generic Game). But there’s no introduction to Glorantha here, instead the reader is directed to Moon Designs’ and Mongoose’s exsiting works for 3rd and 2nd age respectively.
A Narrative roleplaying game. Yes. First and foremost the author Robin Laws has revisited HeroQuest and made it into a Narrative game, rounding off all the fiddly bits of numbers that got in the way of that approach in previous editions. Story is King, resistances are based upon story needs and there’s lots of examples which give solid advice of when and where to use the various types of contest.
A Generic game. Yes. Although there are Gloranthan examples, the game is firmly Generic. Perhaps this explains the lack of example settings and adventure?
Ultimately my view of the game is that I have to accept it as written, embrace the system for what it is and enjoy the wonders it can bring. I wouldn’t attempt to play Monopoly the same way I play Settlers of Catan. Like wise I wouldn’t play HQ 2 as I would play HQ1 or any other roleplaying game.
So with that in mind I’ll take you on a guided tour of the rulebook.
Next up: Character Generation.