20 March 2005

Thoughts on HeroQuest after winding up the first chunk.

I've just played the last section of our HeroQuest game. This was motivated partly by getting a little bored of the game and mostly by the desire to begin playtesting The Ship. In any case, here's my thoughts on HeroQuest after playing fortnightly for 9 months or so.

Overall, it doesn't really live up to the promise it had on initial reading. The rules are good, and do what they intended, but they end up being too fiddly in play. I have got really bored of calling for a roll and having to wait for a minute or two while people work out what their relevant rating is after collating all their augments. You just end up with too much stuff on your character sheet.

And I never got my head around extended contests. The just always seemed too unwieldy, and never seemed to add much more drama than simple ones.

Injuries never worked well. Partly our group, I think. Because they're more abstract than marking off hit points or suchlike, they often got forgotten and/or ignored. Especially non-physical injuries (such as injuries to bravery and so on).

My intention to run the Sartar Rising campaign came to nothing. This was actually a good thing - the characters built up their own stories at such a rate that it never seemed like it would be worth throwing in one of those plots. Especially as a lot of them are pretty much going to play out the same regardless of player character input - all this Gloranthan history has been written, so you just get to fill in the details while the big picture remains the same.

But we had a great time. The game was one of the most fun ones I've ever run, although the humour got pretty dire here and there. The rules really do end up putting a whole lot of focus on the characters in a way that more traditional games don't. We intend to come back to these characters and see what happens now, and I'm looking forward to doing that. However, I am quite tempted to use The Shadow of Yesterday as the system. It will probably do everything that I liked about HeroQuest but better.

Advice for others considering running HeroQuest (this is how I'll do it in future):
  • Don't split keywords into individual abilities, just use them as bigass abilities. Have the characters specify only abilities in there that they are better or worse than normal at. That should reduce the ability load on the sheet by half or more.
  • Forget extended contests.
  • Make sure people keep track of injuries properly.
That's all I have to say. HeroQuest's a really good system, but it's still a bit too traditional for me at the moment...

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