I just started a 3rd Age Sartar HeroQuest campaign for my sons, aged 14 and 11. This is how I ran the Orlanthi Initiation for their heroes. However, please treat this posting as a possibility rather than as a recommendation, as I just started running HQ for the first time.
The heroes were created with the As You Go method. I warned the boys that there would be some backwards and forwards flipping between their back-story and the campaign. In retrospect, I wish that I had run this as the first thing after character creation. I ran this separately for each of their heroes.
I started by reading the much of the introduction to each of them, with some additional ad-libbed sections (eg. the young men were taught ploughing by taking 4 turns as ‘oxen’, one turn as the ox-driver and one turn with the plow). I also added in some Orlmarth specific items. The ceremony was held on Starfire Ridge and I introduced them to the clan history with the dead Illaven clan.
I rolled to see if the heroes recognised their gods during the ceremony but the only effect of this was later when talking of the events of the 2 years following the ceremony. I felt that I hand-waved a bit too much here, it would have been better for this to have had more in-scenario effects on whether they could use their runes actively or only to augment. Except, of course, that personailty traits associated with their runes could be used actively.
The main section of play was the progress from the camp to the end of the world, via the Second Son. I emphasised that the important thing was survival and evading obstacles rather than fighting or killing.
I allowed augmentation, more as a rules system training than as a story telling device. I gave each 3 hero points to use during the scenario.
I started with very low resistance and increased for most stages.
1Confrontation with Ancestors6Very low2Confrontation with Ancestral Enemies8Low3Confrontation with Mirror Self14Moderate4Confrontation with the Devouring Monster14Moderate5Meeting with Second Son20High6Meeting with Star Heart3WVery high7Confrontation with the Devil’s Face14W2Nearly impossible8Confrontation with the Void14W3‘Impossible’
For stages 1 to 8, there is a lingering bonus/penalty, as per the following table.
These are cumulative for following contests in the ceremony, including on augmentation rolls.
For stages 1 to 6, the penalty/bonus is permanently applied to the ability used in the specific contest (which is why it is necessary for me to rule out the use of a keyword). As stage 7 is so hard, I did not apply any penalty. Neither reached stage 8.
Notes for the stages
1 – I played the ancestors as being quite patronising of the boy, wondering whether he had it to become a man. The initiate should try to get their ancestors approval by displaying one of the clan values OR one of the characteristics associated with a clan rune.
2 – This is the Ancient Enemy. I suggested they use physical abilities to get around.
3 – I suggested that, as the mirror self appeared to have exactly the same physical attributes, they should try to use non-physical abilities.
4 – I flipped a coin to decide between the Chaos Foe and the Nearly Exterminated By. However, some of the Extermination events may not make sense as an enemy.
5 – I ran the Orlanthi Greeting (Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes page 89) and got them to roll some communication ability or relevant Orlanthi virtue. The result did not affect their interaction with the Second Son, only their lingering bonus/penalty and the long term change to the characteristic used. Any defeat means that they finish their progress here.
6 – My interpretation of the Star Heart is that it relates to some internal characteristic rather than a magic or physical ability. So the personality characteristics associated with the runes or their clan keyword or a standalone personal characteristic were allowed in the contest to meet their Star Heart. Keywords or physical abilities were definitely ruled out. Any defeat means that they finish their progress here.
Any DefeatDid not meet or find their Star HeartMarginal Victory, Minor Victorygain ability: Saw Star HeartMajor Victorygain ability: Touched Star HeartComplete Victorygain ability: Placed Star Heart in breast
The various star heart abilities are not fully fleshed out. I think I will give abilities to inspire people in times of adversity, likely from 1 or 2 for Saw Star Heart, through warband (ish) size for Touched Star Heart and to any size of group for Star Heart in breast (assuming relevant relationships).
7 – As the vast bulk of Orlanthi do not succeed at the confrontation with the Devil’s face, I did not apply any penalties for defeat at this stage. Any defeat means that they finish their progress here.