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Roleplaying in Glorantha
Game System Synopsis
This section contains all the essential rules to play Hero Wars.
All Contents are Copyright © 2000 by Issaries, Inc.
AbilityAn Ability is any skill, magic, item or other feature that is written on the character sheet. The name is a word or phrase that indicates the kinds of actions the character can attempt with it. Each Ability has a Target Number. Target Numbers range from 1 to 20. The higher the target number, the better the Hero’s Ability. The target number is also called the Ability Rating.
Default Target NumberWhen a hero has no ability to use in a particular situation, not even a skill affected by the Improvisational Modifier (see below) the target number is 6 if it is a ability anyone could be expected to have (Climb, Jump), or 0 if the ability is exotic or requires special knowledge (Read Kralori Dragon Runes).
MasteryHeroes attain a mastery when an ability is greater than 20. A mastery in a skill is indicated by the Mastery Rune (w) following the target number. Thus an ability of 21 is expressed as 1w; an ability of 30 is 10w. Multiple masteries are possible, and are indicated by a number following the mastery rune; thus 8w2 indicates a total skill equivalent of 48.
Canceling MasteriesWhen characters with an unequal number of masteries oppose each other, eliminate the same number of masteries from each opponent to find their actual chances. Example: a 5w2 character is fighting a 7w3 person, then the result is resolved as 5 against 7w.
Special CaseWhen both characters have the same number of masteries, the masteries are cancelled. Both characters roll as if they had no masteries, with the following exception: When both fail, treat this the same as if they had both succeeded. The lower roll is considered to be the winner.
Die Rolling and Degree of SuccessResults are found by rolling a twenty-sided die. Generally, it is better to roll low than high. A roll of 1 is a Critical Success unless the Target Number is 1, in which case it is a Success. A roll of 20 is a Fumble unless the target number is 20, in which case it is a Failure. A roll equal to or lower than the target number of an ability is a Success, and a roll over the target number is a Failure.
BumpsA bump changes the result of the die roll. A bump up changes the die roll to a more favorable result. Multiple bumps can affect the die roll. A Bump Up makes the die roll one degree better: Fumble becomes failure, failure becomes success, etc. Critical successes cannot be bumped up.
ModifiersModifiers are ALWAYS applied to the ability rating, never to the die roll. A positive modifier is called a Bonus. A negative modifier is called a Handicap.
Dropping below MasteryModifiers may drop a target number below a mastery level. Example: a 2w Ability with a -5 modifier becomes an 17 Ability.
Augmentation *Augmentation is a target number bonus from magic or mundane abilities. Augmentation success is determined by a simple contest. The feat is opposed by the desired bonus, according to this table:
Augmentation Resistance Chart
Augmentation Results Chart
ResistanceDefault resistance is 14 if no higher resistance is applicable. Physical magic can be resisted by magic or by appropriate physical abilities. Mental magic can be resisted by magic or appropriate mental abilities.
EdgesAn edge is a situational modifier, whether from magic, possession, or other abilities. An edge is a number added to the stake when your opponent must forfeit or transfer APs.
Action Points (APs)
Total Starting APsThe total starting APs of a character are equal to his target number plus 20 APs per mastery plus modifiers.
Desperation StakesA hero or pivotal narrator character may bid more APs than he currently has, up to his total starting APs.
Trading Wounds for APsThe winner of an exchange may convert 7 APs worth of a transfer or forfeit into a wound. The loser keeps the 7 APs, but suffers a -1 wound. You may not inflict multiple wounds from a single result.
Lending APsYou can transfer your APs to another character on your side if you have an appropriate skill or magic. Roll on the Simple Contest chart. The target number is equal to lender’s ability; the resistance is the number of APs being loaned.
AP Loan Chart
HandicapsA handicap is a situational modifier, much like an edge, which is subtracted from the stake when your opponent must forfeit or transfer APs.
ContestsMost activities are automatically successful. Walking, talking, climbing around, and other ordinary activities that are easily within the capability of the characters just happen when the player says they do. Any action that might fail needs a Contest.
Bumping with MasteriesEach un-cancelled mastery raises the Degree of Success of a roll by one level.
Bumping with Hero PointsA player may spend 1 hero point to bump the result of one of his rolls by one degree of success. Only 1 hero point may be spent on one roll, and the player may only bump his own roll, not another player’s or opponent’s.
Ability TestAn ability test is rolled against a single ability, which may be modified by augmentation, modifiers or other factors. Ability tests can be used to see if an ally is available, a fact is remembered, or otherwise un-resisted tests.
Simple ContestSimple Contest Results Table
Extended & Group Extended ContestsExtended Contest Results Chart
Parting ShotsYou may make one parting shot after your opponent has been reduced below 0 APs.
Final ActionIf you fall to 0 APs or less in a 1 on 1 Extended contest you are defeated and may take no further action.
If you fall below 0 AP in a Group Extended Contest, you may still be able to perform a final act. However, you must first have a round free from attention by the opposition. Make a Ability test of a relevant ability such as Tough or Ignore Pain, modified by and modifiers from the Consequence chart.
Final Action Results Chart
You may only attempt one Final action every time you fall to 0 APs or less. If the final action results in the character regaining positive APs, he may rejoin the contest.
Combat ResultsCharacters may become wounded during a fight (through the Trading Wounds for APs rule, for example) without ever dropping below 0 APs, or may be wounded but come back into the fight through a Final Action (see below). A character can win the contest even though he has more “wounds” than his opponent.
In terms of the effects of injury and illness on the story lines, there are really only four types of hurt: the character is either hurt, injured, dying, or dead. A character can be hurt because he is ill, or (more likely in an adventure story) he has been wounded in combat or misadventure.
HealthyThis is the state of health to aspire to; nothing is wrong with your character.
DazedThe character is conscious and aware of his surroundings but is exhausted, befuddled or in shock and cannot resist efforts to capture him, tie him up, or otherwise manhandle him. This situation is temporary, and needs not be healed by anything more than AP loans during a contest, or simply resting for a few minutes after the contest is over.
HurtEach time a character becomes hurt, he suffers a -1 penalty on all action rolls. These penalties are cumulative if the character gets hurt a number of times. The penalty resets to zero at the end of each episode, or when the character is successfully treated by a healer.
InjuredAn injured character is badly maimed or suffers from a debilitating disease. He may act with a -50% modifier. Injured characters require magical healing or several episodes spent resting.
DyingDying characters are unconscious and unable to act. They will die unless they are quickly treated by a magical healer. Death is generally up to the Narrator to determine.
DeadA dead character is dead, and under most circumstances is out of the game.
HealingThere are basically three types of healing in the game: First aid, which can treat hurts; Major healing, which is magical in nature and can treat injuries and near death, and Time.
First Aid and Minor Magical HealingFirst aid and other healing abilities can remove the penalties for one or more Hurts in a single action. This is resolved as an Ability test. The Target number is the ability, modified -1 for each Hurt being cured. The Patient may attempt to augment the healer’s First Aid with his “Tough”, “Resilient” or similar abilities.
Major HealingMajor healing can reduce all modifiers due to injury, illness, or malign influences, but is restricted to devotees of specific deities, saints or spirits. Using a major healing ability to eliminate hurts can be handled as first aid. Healing injuries and near-death requires a contest against the following resistance:
In the case of poison, illness or malign influences, the resistance is the strength of the opposing force. Special feats, spells or spirits are required to cure these types of ill-health, basic heal wounds magic does not affect them. Some healing deities may have affinities that can be used improvisationally.
Healing over timeWounds heal at a rate of a Hurt level per day if the character is allowed to rest. The narrator may modify this to account for character’s actions (hiking on a wounded leg instead of resting in bed), environment (cold & wet or dry heat), or other factors. Dying characters will rarely get better on their own, usually they will succumb to their wounds.
TalentsTalents are magical abilities which are a part of a character. They do not need to be cast or summoned, but act in every way as an ordinary skill. Talents can be granted by deities, obtained by integrating a spirit, or acquired naturally through birth.
Available to any theist. Use the “Worship Pantheon” ability as the chance to get Divine Aid.
A spirit may be forced into a fetish. If the user of the fetish is the one who captured the spirit, he may use the spirit a number of times per day equal to the degree of victory in the Spirit Combat:
If the user did not capture the spirit himself, the spirit is one-use.
Grimoires are collections of Sorcerous spells. Each grimoire has it’s own Read Grimoire skill.
A mystic’s Physical ability, Mental ability and Virtue ability must be within 10 points of each other for the mystic to use Counters or Strikes.
Hero PointsHero Points are the currency of Hero Wars. They are assigned by the narrator at the start of a game and upon finishing an adventure. Hero Points are used to raise a hero’s abilities or to Bump a result
Gaining Hero Points
Using Hero PointsHero points have these uses in the game:
Character Development Costs
Latest revision: 10 Mar 2000, new