Convention Report: CogCon 2003

Convention Report: CogCon 2003By Andrew Dawson

My HeroQuest game filled (six players) during sign-up, but I had four players when the game started. I ran a multiple plot line game that included elements from the High Pressure Front adventure in the main rule book and from a Runequest adventure in a fan magazine (Mistflower Meadow from TotRM#18, IIRC). The characters were Heortlings: merchant initiate of Gultha (Issaries), hunter devotee of Odayla, warrior devotee of Humakt (Hu the Sword), and warrior devotee of Elmal (Beren the Rider). The players had to determine how their characters were related. The characters fought off a cattle raid, used their knowledge of their clan lands to take a short cut to intercept the raiders, found unexpected problems, and fought off some undead soldiers. Two of the players expected something based on the HeroQuest board game (an issue that I expect to see in the future), one of the players was a Warhammer 40K gamer who wanted to try roleplaying after a long hiatus, and the other had no expectations. They all seemed to enjoy the game.

How I ran the game: I brought pre-generated characters and had the players customize them. This took longer than it did using the Hero Wars rules (predecessor game to HeroQuest), so the adventure ran over time. I used the PDF forms available from the Issaries web site, even though those forms are not optimized in terms of size (they take a long time to download and print, so allow that time). I filled in the culture, occupation, and deity information, leaving blanks for the players to fill in common magic, feats, optional skills, etc. I can provide these forms to others, but they are rather large and unwieldy (21 different sheets at 1.3 MB apiece).

I used the List character creation method to minimize the time spent creating/customizing characters. I told the players that they could choose their ten “things” (abilities, items, etc.) and spend their additional points at any time, and I let them modify previous choices as well. (Along the way, the hunter chose to be friends with an otherwise hostile swamp, and the merchant chose to have a magical cart that could produce random, possibly useful items.) Of the four players, three chose to make their characters devotees in order to get the cool magic from their deities, which isn’t surprising. The other player liked his appearance-enhancing common magic, and so stayed an initiate. I could have created completely pre-generated characters, but I wanted to show off the character creation system, and the trade-off for this was an hour of game time. I also had the players choose common magic before informing them that they could devote (at the cost of not being allowed to use common magic) because I wanted to demonstrate this in-game consequence of devoting. I ignored magic concentration (devotees automatically must concentrate, but this is not relevant during character creation) because it doesn’t affect play, only character advancement.

I used an extended contest for the zombie battle and it ran longer than expected in real world time. I’ve considered eliminating extended contests from con games, butstill include them to demonstrate as many parts of HeroQuest as possible.

For my upcoming games, I will print out a list of common magic so that I don’t need to pass around the rule book. I will also print out lists of feats. (In Hero Wars, feats were allocated and accessed differently, so this was not an issue.) I had already printed sample Heortling names from Thunder Rebels. I used the Hero Wars publications Thunder Rebels andStorm Tribe to add detail to the Heortling characters beyond that provided in HeroQuest (feats and background information).

I emphasized the pervasive magic of Glorantha in the game, because that is what hooked me on Glorantha. Specifically, I referred to the sun as Elmal, noted that Darkness is an active force (not an absence of light), told them that the swamp was a hostile spirit, and extended the name of the characters’ clan (Cold Rivers) to mean that the characters’ clan relationship also included a relationship to the rivers that surrounded the clan (meaning that the rivers were kin). The players seemed to appreciate these details and reacted appropriately (showed concern that a river was injured, for example).

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