HeroQuest 1 – Natural Magic (2004)

Last revision: 28 Jan 2004

The Problem

In Hero Wars, magical abilities outside of the three Otherworlds and four magic systems were implicit in the material, and explicitly encouraged. Players got used to having this sort of ability, which could be used as an active ability like any other.

In HeroQuest, Common Magic was added to reflect widely-used magic not explicitly from an Otherworld, and in the process some terms were changed. Specifically, the term “talents” became part of Common Magic. As such, they are subject to the Concentrating Magic rules (page 108), and normally can only provide an augment.

Implicit in HeroQuest is the idea that unusual “innate magic” abilities remain available to heroes. However, confusion was created by use of the word “talent” to represent such powers (per page 104 and the Creatures chapter), leading some to conclude (for example) that the Puma People’s Shapechange to Puma ability (called an “innate magical ability” on page 50) is a talent that can only be used for augmentation and/or is subject to concentration. This was not the intent.

The Solution

Add the following sections to HeroQuest where indicated.

Location: Heroes chapter, page 30, immediately following “Specialized Religions and Magic”.

Natural Magic

Some abilities are innate but magical in the sense that “everything is magic.” These abilities may be natural to a species or bloodline, may be gained as the result of a heroquest or other major event, or might simply rise spontaneously in some people. Such a “gift” or “knack” is not learned-it is an integral part of the hero, like his ability to walk or talk. He cannot explain to someone how he does it, and he cannot teach someone else how to do it.

While most magical abilities selected during character creation should be defined as one of the four forms of magic, particularly common magic, a player may feel that a proposed ability is better treated as natural magic. In Glorantha as a whole this is rare, but player heroes are by definition special. If the narrator allows the natural magic ability, she should work with player during character generation to explain where it comes from. We recommend that a hero have no more than one such ability, and that the narrator not allow a hero to declare an ability as natural magic for advantage rather than part of the hero’s concept.

A natural magic ability gained during character creation must be part of the hero’s narrative or list, and like other additional abilities has a starting rating of 13. The only exception is a natural magic ability that is specifically part of the hero’s homeland (or species) keyword, such as the Puma People’s Shapechange to Puma ability or a troll’s Digest Anything. (Just because a natural magic ability is consistent with a hero’s occupation or magic keyword does not mean the player can start that ability with a rating of 17.)

Location: Basic Magic chapter, page 104, as a new major section before “Common Magic”.

Natural Magic

Natural magic abilities are “natural” in that they are innate to the individual, as normal to him or her as his ability to Climb or his knowledge of Dara Happan Customs. They operate as normal abilities, allowing the hero to FlySpit AcidSee in Complete Darkness, or whatever. Like skills, they can be used either to augment another ability or as an active ability, and they can be augmented by other appropriate abilities. They are not subject to the Concentrating Magic rules: they always cost 1 hero point to increase by +1, and a hero who concentrates his magic, regardless of what magic system he retains, always keeps his natural magic abilities. (This is not to say that his religion will be accepting or tolerant of unusual magical abilities, of course.) Furthermore, they can no more be dispelled (page 100) than any mundane ability, although their effects can be countered with other magical abilities. (I.e., a magician with a Fly spell cannot dispel a natural magic ability to Fly, but a priestess with a Ground Flyers feat can use it against the hero.)

Natural magic abilities are “magical” in the sense that most people can only mimic these abilities using feats, spirits, blessings, curses, or spells. They follow the general guidelines for magic presented in this chapter-they use the Natural Resistance rules (page 98), and their effects are generally “sensible” (i.e., can be sensed in one fashion or another, see page 98), but they generally do not require a focus.

Natural magic abilities are personal, with effects limited to the individual who possesses them. Thus, a Puma Person can use his Shapechange to Puma ability only on himself, not to transform someone else. Furthermore, because they are natural to the individual, they do not count as Inherently Difficult Magic (page 101), although the narrator should be very cautious about allowing abilities that would normally take such a modifier (such as Invisibility).

Most heroes with a natural magic ability will have specified it during character creation. The narrator should not simply allow a player to purchase a new natural magic ability with hero points. If she does allow a new natural magic ability during play, she should include its acquisition in the story. Play balance is important here-if she allows one player to add a natural magic ability, other players will probably want to do so as well.

Any new natural magic ability allowed by the narrator costs 1 hero point to gain at an initial rating of 13, just like any skill.

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