Let me try to untangle a few things. Let’s start with what a heroquest is: it is the direct interaction between the eternal God Time and mortal beings. Now that may sound weird, but it helps us avoid a lot of errors.
So on a heroquest, our mortals have one foot in the God Time and one foot in our world. So imagine that the two planes are merged for them. They start at a place or event where the two planes already overlap – usually a temple, sacred spot, high mountain, deep cave, whatever. They have the stories of the gods and heroes to guide them AND their own experiences.
Our mortals are trying to do something – talk to a goddess, rescue a lost deity, defeat a demon, whatever. If their god did it, then they can start in the place their god did it and try to navigate their way around using reference points from the myth. They might have personal experiences that broaden their navigational reference points. But the Hero Plane is a place, not a set of scenes. If you lose your navigation, then you wander about until you find something (or more likely until you are defeated, killed, or even destroyed).
The Hero Plane is a merged overlap of our temporal world and the eternal world of the gods and spirits. The deeper we go into the realm of gods and spirits, the less connection we have to our own world and the harder the navigation is. Some places are almost entirely in the Gods Realm – the deeper hells, the Sky Dome, etc.
When I travel about the Hero Plane and return, I have new stories that help navigate the Hero Plane. New myths. I have not changed or invalidated the old story, but I have a new story that coexists with the old.
- See also articles tagged with RQG heroquesting
Cults are ongoing conduits by which we can interact with the God Time, bring its power and possibilities into our mortal world. By sacrificing our own POW, we can create links with a powerful entity of the God Time. We perform sacrifices to that entity to maintain those links, to keep the conduit open. But we are reliant upon myths (including those brought to us by heroquesters) to define the parameters of that conduit.
So we can imagine cults as the X-axis, and heroquests as the Y-axis.
The God Time is plane of existence. It is filled with entities, places, and things. So in the God Time there is a Spike, etc. Depending on where you enter some things may be there and others may not.
No matter where I start, if I look towards the center of the world, I will see the Spike, holding the world up. If I want to go there, I just need to travel there. Maybe there is a magical road nearby that I can take. Maybe I cast Flight or have an Air Elemental carry me or cast Teleportation. Maybe I just have a LONG walk through other parts of the Hero Plane.
I am also a mundane being and so if I have to walk there, I am also traveling through the Mundane World. Since I really really don’t want to end up in Magenta’s Pool, I might need to have a Spike constructed, or an Axis Mundi created, or maybe I want to use an eligible World Mountain, such as Kero Fin. But of course those don’t perfectly map over the Spike, so I might find that things don’t really line up and I encounter entities or obstacles that aren’t in any of the stories.
A couple of take aways here:
1. The God Time is a real thing, with entities, locations, and events. But it is all of it always all the time. Anytime a temporal thing – ie., a heroquester – interacts with it, it will be a limited interaction, but also that interaction is always. The heroquester’s experiences are TRUE, even if another heroquester’s experience contradicts them.
2. The Hero Plane is where the God Time and the mundane world overlap. So the sanctified inside of a high holy day ceremony is on the Hero Plane. Most heroquesters try to create a microcosm of the God Time in the surrounding world so that they can interact with several locations.
3. Most heroquests are interactions with nearby parts of the Hero Plane. On the other hands, those travel on well-worn paths and gain little that is not already part of the cult. So for example initiations, high holy days, and Sacred Time rites all fall into this category. Don’t assume any of these will give the adventurers new powers beyond what is described in the cult writeup.
But the important heroquests involve leaving the well-worn path and going into alien and largely unknown parts, and interact with new and strange powers. This often means going beyond the cult’s constructed microcosm and into the greater cosmos. Most cults won’t do this except for desperate reasons. The big exceptions are of course Orlanth and the Lightbringers, who are always sticking their noses in strange places.
Do we have any game mechanics for navigating in a Heroquest? There is no single skill. If I am a heroquester, Cult Lore is going to be invaluable for identifying things out of my cult’s stories. If I am a weird scribe and I have gotten my hands of Zzabur’s Blue Book, then maybe Read Western might help. If I am a shaman, Spirit Travel might help me avoid things.
Is Illumination a useful skill to navigate heroquests? Not particularly.