Each cult performs holy day ceremonies that reinforce the link between the cult members and the deity. These links can mechanically be described as the cult’s available Rune spells.
These ceremonies fit the definition of a heroquest. The Gods Realm and the mundane world merge and the cult. The cult members participate in and experience the events that define the deity and its cult.
All of these Rune spells have stories myth about them, sometimes many myths. Ernalda no doubt has dozens of myths about how she blessed the fields or charmed lovers. Orlanth has countless myths about commanding his kin (Air elementals), flying, being too tough to harm (Shield), or hurling thunderbolts.
These Rune spells mark familiar places in the Hero Plane, at least to the cult. They are routine, largely risk free, and are the key magic secrets of the cult. In game terms, you do not need to play these out as their result is almost always a foreordained conclusion – they are the foundation of the cult. It also means you do not need to perform a new heroquest to do what the cult already provides.
Of course I cautioned that with “almost always”. That means sometimes the unexpected happens. And when that happens it should be happening to your characters. The familiar and the routine does not always work. Maybe things have changed as a result of others. Maybe draconic energies have meant that we need to “relearn” an old story. Who knows the reason, but this is certainly a good way to introduce heroquesting as something other than a deus ex machina or a recital ceremony.
So when we talk about “heroquesting” we almost always mean something more than these routine ceremonies. We mean going outside of the familiar and into areas of the Hero Plane we have little or no control over.
It is perhaps helpful to forget any play through of King of Dragon Pass. The ceremonies described there are NOT what is meant by heroquests in RuneQuest.
So for most initiates, our knowledge and experience with the Hero Plane is confined to the home of the god and key moments whether the deity displays its power. We can draw on that power and use it. The cult goes to that place in the Hero Plane every season at least.
But the Hero Plane is vast. And once we leave the familiar locations of our cult, it becomes strange and unfamiliar. We can guide ourselves with the stories of our cult, and other stories we might now. But they are unreliable guides at best – not a script to a play, but travel directions told by a local who has been where you are wanting to go (or at least nearby).
If you approach it this way, every heroquest becomes an adventure of discovery in a world of Jungian archetypes. An exploration of the Dreamlands, of Glorantha’s subconscious.