Heroquesting is a powerful and rare Gloranthan activity in which the participants leave the material world and enter the realm of legend and myth to interact with heroes and gods, gambling precious Life Force to gain miraculous powers. Heroquesting provides the method for advancement for a character to grow towards heights of greatness. It takes them from the ordinary world and places them in the league of immortals, and grants them the opportunity and awareness to find the paths of immortality and glory.
TYPES OF HEROQUEST
There are three basic types of heroquest:
- The “In-World” heroquests.
- The Magic Road heroquest
- The Other Side adventures
In-World Heroquests mostly take place in the world that the heroes know. They set off from a temple or other holy place and travel across the normal map, occasionally having to stop someplace special or do something at a certain place.
Despite this familiar terrain, the questers are present in the Hero Plane. They will run into the normal traffic of an overland adventure, but they must be doubly wary in case the things they meet are some ritual enemy, perhaps also on a heroquest, that has been summoned by the magic of the heroquest. Spirits and other magical beings often appear at places strongly tied to the gods or spirits, summoned by that same magic. It is often used to prepare the way for greater voyages, and to acquire magical items useful to the individual.
Dragon Pass and its nearby regions are crossed by several magic “roads” that enable a quester to quickly travel to specific holy places along paths that skip in and out of the mundane planes, covering the distance in far less time than travel wholly on the mundane plane. Deities and spirits, or their avatars, are presented here, summoned by the magic of traveling on the road; ritual enemies are often summoned by the same magic.
The magic roads are often used in combination with an in-world heroquest. Travel along these magic roads is dangerous. There can be enemies along each path; although their type is often known, the strength of the foes may vary widely. They are also used for rapid movement, though there are occasionally side- benefits that can or must be gained to use the road.
- Hill of Orlanth Victorious to Kero Fin
- Dragon’s Eye to Kero Fin
- Kero Fin to Smoking Ruins to Arrowmound Mountain
- Sun Dome Temple to Hill of Gold
- Kero Fin to Cave of the Mother to Umath’s Point (this is going up the mountain)
- Arrowmound to Halikiv to Balance Split to Wonderwood
- City of Wonders to Durengard to Stormwalk
- Starfire Ridge to Whitewall to Larnste’s Footprint to Stormwalk Mountain to the Block
Other Side heroquests are the most dangerous, for questers must leave the known confines of the paths and sacred ways to set off across the wilderness of the divine world. It involves actual travel in the Gods World which, if properly entered, will be as recognizable to the quester as his own world. In these travels the landscape and the inhabitants are set by God Time events, but this does not make it any more predictable or less risky.
This is the region beyond that must be entered and returned from many times by the would-be Hero wishing for immortality, where they can find great powers and abilities that will make them remembered by mortals for many ages yet to come. It is the place of Godtime, where mortals are not welcome and which they cannot know except through experience.
The long-term preparations can vary greatly from quest to quest. Some quests require lengthy periods of ritual purification and self-denial so that the quester can be a vessel for the divine powers. Others require merely that the quester has been a devout and consistent follower of the gods. Questers who have failed to make these preparations will find their task harder. Persons who are downright frauds trying to rob the cult are singled out for particular violence and overly vile opponents.
Many heroquests must begin in a specific mundane location such as a certain hill, group of standing stones, or temple to the god. Others are less narrow prescribed, requiring merely that it begins on hill, forest grove, open plains, etc. Many quests must begin at a certain time, such as at night, dawn, dusk, noon, or when a specific planet or constellation is in a particular place in the sky.
Mundane support is provided by one’s cult or other community. This might be magical gifts, weapons, or treasures to aid the heroquesters, or might be mundane supporters, such as healers, worshipers, preparation of the site, etc. Some heroquests require that the sacred grounds be defended by guards and sometimes priests while the heroquesters journey.
These are the preparations that need to be made immediately before the heroquest can begin. These include the preparation of the site by a cult priest, the summoning of spirits, sacrifices, and such rituals as the Arming of Orlanth or the Three Blow of Anger. These preparations typically take 1 to 3 days.
Holy places are locations where the boundaries between the mundane world and the Gods World are permeable. From the temple of a god, a worshiper can transcend the ordinary world and enter the home of the god, in what the God Learners called a “vertical quest”. Such a journey takes place at every Worship ceremony.
Every worship ceremony is a heroquest. Some worship ceremonies have more complex quests than just a vertical quest, and the God Learners called these Worship Quests. When History began, people were performing these worship heroquests. Worshippers got together in a sacred place, performed their ceremonies to summon the deities, and reenacted the actions that brought them there. To worshippers the action enlivened them to transcend the ordinary world and they become part of the Mythic Realm. Individuals might then leave the house of the god and participate in the deeds of their deities.
Worship Quests usually begin with a vertical quest, and then a departure from the god’s house to be in the mythic story. Thus, an Oria priestess in the harvest ceremony summons the god plane of the Weeping Oria to her and departs from that place and wanders around the God Plane for a while, before returning with the secrets she sought.
As time passes, the participants will participate in many of the major stories of their deities. These events are usually pretty well known, with few variations, and well contained within the established ceremonies. That is, they know the basic religious world through acquired experiences.
Sometimes a leader, whether religious or mundane, would undertake an individual quest to achieve a specific objective. These were usually some unusual activity, needed for extraordinary reason. These were the early and later Hero Cults.
In these ceremonies, supporters, several other people typically remain attendant upon the welfare of the traveler. They pray or perform, as appropriate, and lend their strength to the quester in case of emergency. The supporters are linked to the traveler in both blessing and curse.
Very early on, it was discovered in that some supporters could actually go along as participants and gain normal experience, and not always in what the ceremony normally required. This was a special type of supporter going along as active participant.
Harmast Barefoot was the first person to perform extended sequential heroquesting. He linked a number of stories together to reinforce each other, and to achieve long term and powerful consequences.
At the time everyone knew that even within a single myth, many variants exist and participants can actively and consciously affect which version of the story occurred by their preparations. Harmast discovered that it is possible to affect the very landscape of the quest after entering it. The God Learners called this Identification.
Arkat went even further than Harmast. Arkat had participated in several different religions and learned that different religions often portrayed the same event, but from different perspectives.
He went a step further and discovered that he could actually change paths in mid-quest and invade the mythic space of other peoples. The God Learners called this Ranging.
Ranging is extremely dangerous since more myths have many ways to preserve themselves and have little room for variance by intruders. But some people do it, and after Arkat learned how Harmast could manipulate the mythic landscape, he went to impossible places and discovered things to destroy his mystical foe.
The God Learners went further and discovered that they could forcibly alter the landscape. They called this Mutation.
Later, they learned to mutate the myths permanently, effectively destroying myths and their participants. They did this by applying sorcery to the myths, draining them. This is called Tapping.
Heroquesters develop enemies as a natural byproduct of their actions. Most people never leave the armies of the gods, and so have enemies that are large and generalized. They are not personal foes.
People who engage in more personal heroquesting develop personal, recognized enemies. The effect of appearing as one’s self depends on having enough personal power to appear that way. An entity with that kind of identity always attracts a similar foe of similar power. Once attacked escape is impossible except through death in the mortal world and a subsequent failure in the divine.
People that persist on similar paths discover that their foe also does, almost haunting them. This link is called the Face Dance by the Orlanthi, because faces are visible in the otherwise generalized realm. It is also called Prey Love, Tempting Foe, Spider’s Singer, etc.
Face Dancers appear in the God and Hero Planes in their Otherworld guise. It is, however, possible to see through and identify the individual beneath it. Indeed, every Face who is dancing has a living foe somewhere in the world who is doing their own dance.
As heroquesting advances these individuals are attracted towards each other, even though they are often separated by thousands of miles in the Mortal World.
Are there magic roads in other places? Many of the magic roads in the West are broken, thanks to the Sundering of Seshnela.
Did the Syndics Ban break the magic roads in Fronela, permanently or temporarily? It suppressed them. It is now up to bold and crazed adventurers to determine what Magic Roads work, and whether they have changed.
The take away from this is that at its core, a heroquest is about exploration of the mythic realms.