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10 Dec 2015

Heroquest Glorantha Actual Play Solo Part 1

Here is part 1 of my solo play of Heroquest Glorantha. I used Sharper Adventures in Heroquest Glorantha, BOLD (aff), The Location Crafter (aff) and the “Aladdin” Technique for my setup (check out more solo tools here). Rory’s Storycubes serve as a random image generator. Please keep in mind that I’m a newcomer to Glorantha, so I’m not sure how “canon”-ish my game is.


Core Activity

Robin D. Laws says in Sharper Adventures in Heroquest Glorantha:

The heroes are X who do Y.

So, what’s my take on this?

The heroine is a treasure hunter fighting against Lunar soldiers, Chaos monsters and looking for loot and adventure. Setting Period: Sartar Rising 1621

Emotional Stake

This is where you tie in the motivation of your PCs into the plot/setting:

I must avenge my brothers and sisters and show my worth by gaining fame and glory so that the clan can see that it was wrong to expel me.

Character Creation

Concept: Cynical Warrior Cultural Keyword: Heortling 13 Community: Xyrax Clan 13 Occupational Keyword: Warrior (Light Infantry) 1W Runes: Air 4W (violent, passionate; proud) - Initiate of Orlanth (Vinga subcult) Sword-Mastery +1 Movement 18 (adventurous, dynamic, reckless) Lightning-Fast +1 Truth 13 (truthful, observant) Distinguishing Characteristic: Cynical 17 Standard of Living: Common Abilities: - Flaws: Hunted by the Lunar Empire (highest ability) Exiled by her clan (second-highest ability) left over: 3 abilities, 5 points


BOLD is a tool which can be used for character backstory amongst other things. (It’s PWYW, check it out.) Here’s what I rolled up:

  • accidental party accusations overcome by a scarce-used ability
  • impeding physical struggle overcome by fate
  • steady hard foes: soldiers overcome by personal resources

Let’s interpret that:

Cassia’s Story

When Cassia was young, a misunderstanding in her clan caused some serious struggle. Being an observant child, she was able to contribute to the resolution of the conflict. This event left her with a deep respect for truthfulness. In her teenage years, she was struck by a stampede and was seriously hurt. However, her community prayed for her and the gods didn’t want her to be disabled. This experience left her with a trust into the gods of Glorantha and her tribe. When Lunar invaders came to her clan, she and other young warriors defeated them by cleverly using the terrain against them. However, the Elders feared the wrath of the Empire and exiled the young insurgents. This decision caused strife in the clan. All rebels but Cassia are dead now: killed by beasts or Lunar soldiers, disillusioned by their exile or other reasons.

Scenario premise

Original setup:

I’m using the “Aladdin” Technique which starts by setting up a basic plot hook. I used this post as an inspiration.

I am [exploring] [a mysterious cavern] that lies in a [forest] seeking the [crypt of a tyrannical warlord]. I am here to [loot the treasure] guarded by [chaos monsters].

Using the “Aladdin” Technique

  • roll of 2: dragon
  • roll of 3: dinosaur skeleton
  • intrigue: forest with tree stumps

I am [exploring] a lair of a dream dragon that lies in an ancient [forest] seeking the [crypt of a tyrannical warlord]. I am here to [loot the treasure] guarded by [chaos monsters]. But what is the nature of the wasted lands surround the crypt?

How does this relate to Cassia?

This again is from Sharper Adventures and asks me why my character would care about the hook.

“Defeating the chaos monsters will please my god and gaining treasure will elevate my status.”

For more structure, I used The Location Crafter to come up with a random dungeon: So, enough setup, let’s play!

Cassia sets out

Surrounded by a wasted and dead forest lies the looming entrance to the lair of a dream dragon and the crypt of a tyrannical warlord. There are rumors about chaos monsters roaming the crypt and the surrounding lands. The stone gates to the crypt are broken up with sheer force, rubble lies around. Cassia enters a hallway which leads to… [Location: 2 Expected

  • Encounters: 6 Random - Objects: 2 None What does the encounter look like? Helpfully Disgusting]1 a dimly lit but wide corridor with stone pillars. Blue light spills from strange looking torches. Several doors line the walls. A heap of dead somethings lies at the end of the corridor, breathtakingly stinking, but moving no more. Cassia examines the torches. Strange magic that she hasn’t seen before. And who or what got rid of the corpses? She tightens the grip on her sword and takes a closer look. [using her Warrior ability at 1W to find out what killed them vs Base Difficulty of 14: 9 vs. 19 = failure bumped to success vs. failure = minor victory roll on the Location Crafter Complex Question Tables: Action: Release Rumor] The rumors about chaos monsters from this lair are undoubtedly true. Looks like these were Ghouls but the undead are now permanently dead, slashed up open with clean cuts. Cassia checks the other doors and … [Location: 6 Special - Encounters: 7 Unique (Story Cubes) - Objects: 4 Expected roll on the Special Elements Table: 60 Exit Here roll for the Unique Encounter: Story Cubes: Frog] finds a long hallway that goes upwards. The hallway’s walls are damp and full of mold. Then she comes to a cave-in. Underneath the crypt was a cavern which Cassia can now enter. She has to squeeze through a hole, but she manages. Fireflies are dancing around a lake in the cavern. Sunlight shines down from a hole in the ceiling. Something is glittering deep down in the water. Perhaps treasure? [Can Cassia dive down and loot the glittering something unharmed? Extended Contest, Rising Action! Cassia uses her Movement Rune (18) with the Lightning-Fast ability (+1) 1st round: Cassia (19) vs. Frog (14 = base difficulty): 6 vs. 6, both successes (tie, resolved in favor of the hero as Marginal Victory) Cassia 0 RP, Frog 1 RP] Cassia dives down fast as lightning when she suddenly spots a dark shadow beneath her. She swiftly evades the unknown danger. [2nd round: Cassia 17 vs. Frog 15, success vs. success, high roll wins, Marginal Victory Cassia 0 RP, Frog 2 RP] Using her speed, she whips around, closing the distance to the glittering stuff. [3rd round: Cassia 20 vs. Frog 2, fumble vs. success, Major Victory for the Frog Cassia 3 RP, Frog 2 RP] Now Cassia can see the shadowy figure: a giant frog looming behind her and pushing her aside with a big webbed hand. [4th round: Cassia 1 vs. Frog 18, critical vs. failure, Major Victory for Cassia Cassia 3 RP, Frog 5 RP] But Cassia trusts the power of Orlanth and his swiftness. She tackles the task again, swimming elegantly like an eel evading the Giant Frog and snatching her price. [Minor Victory for Cassia, the Frog is Hurt, Cassia is Unharmed] Triumphantly Cassia emerges from the small lake, clutching the treasure in her hands. She quickly retreats into the corridor so that the Giant Frog can’t follow her. [What is the thing? roll on the Location Crafter Complex Question Table: Adventurously Fancy] Cassia holds a pair of golden bracers, lavishly decorated. They are perhaps too ceremonious to use for everyday life, but they will bring a good price. She then carefully doubles back to the hallway with the dead Ghouls and tries another door. [Location Crafter: Location: 5 Custom (Story Cubes) - Encounters: 7 Unique (Story Cubes) - Objects: 4 Expected Story Cubes: Shadowed figure in a door and No Man] Cassia enters a room which is totally dark. When she takes one of the magical torches from the other room it still remains dark. She can still hear but see nothing. Wait, what’s this? She hears howling and moaning. More Ghouls? [Can Cassia defeat the chaos monsters in the dark? Extended Contest, Rising Action] Cassia uses her Warrior keyword (1W) to augment her Sword-Mastery (Air Rune 5W): She whirls around her sword in anticipation, letting out a warcry. “Come chaos monster, fear the wrath of an Orlanthi!” [Difficulty: Base Value 14 Cassia 10 vs. Difficulty 11, a failure bumped to success vs. success but high roll wins, so a Marginal Defeat for Cassia, +0 bonus to her ability] [1st round: Cassia 5W vs. unknown monsters 20 (base value 14, high difficulty +6 = 20 because the Pass/Fail Cycle applies a high difficulty if you have 2 victories from previous encounters) Cassia 8 (failure bumped to success) vs. monsters 18 (success), high roll wins, so the monsters score 1 RP against Cassia] Hindered by the darkness Cassia misses the first blow against her. [2nd round: Cassia 20 vs. Monsters 7, a fumble vs. a success, that’s 3 RP against Cassia Cassia: 4 RP, Monsters: 0 RP] The monsters swarm her and grapple her, pulling her into the darkness where they deal some serious blows. Even Cassia’s armor can’t mitigate all the damage. But she realizes that these are most likely not Ghouls but something different… [3rd round: Cassia 16 (failure bumped to success) vs. Monsters 15 (success), high roll wins Cassia: 4 RP, Monsters: 1 RP] Cassia manages to break herself free and to retreat to the light, doing some minor grazing blows. [4th round: Cassia 8 (failure bumped to success) vs. Monsters 18 (success), high roll wins Cassia: 5 RP, Monsters: 1 RP Cassia is Impaired, the monsters unharmed, it’s a Minor Defeat] The monsters drive her out of the dark room, Cassia can glimpse some amorphous green shapes who immediately retreat into darkness when the light falls upon them. Exhausted, Cassia examines her festering wounds. The strange monsters were not Ghouls, that’s for sure, they also didn’t use claws but some kind of tentacles, leaving pustules on her skin. Eek. [I just realize that Cassia has no healing abilities, so let’s remedy that and use one of her leftover abilities to add “Trained at First Aid 13” to her character sheet.] With a wary eye casting around and a sigh she takes her first aid kit out of the backpack and binds her wounds. [Cassia: Trained in First Aid 13 vs. Moderate Difficulty 14 Cassia 12 (success) vs. Difficulty 7 (success), high roll wins, Marginal Victory for Cassia, she is now only Hurt, not Impaired (-3 modifier to appropriate abilities)] So she needs to find another way to defeat these chaos monsters. Cassia first tries another way: [Location Crafter: Location: 5 Custom (Story Cubes) - Encounters: 6 Random - Objects: 8 Special Story Cube for Location: Icarus Result for Random Encounter: Freely Classy] The last door in the hallway leads to a free hanging stairway downwards the crypt. It’s strange that there seems to be nothing which holds the stairs. Runes are carved into the walls. A mist wavers around and forms into a ghost. Cassia frowns and addresses the being. “A ghost? Do you hear me?” [Let’s check some facts about this ghost using UNE (aff): Its conversation mood is neutral, his motivation is *”account friends”.] The ghost whispers: “I had friends here, other noble warriors. Where are they?” Cassia’s cynic personality shines through. “Fella, you’re dead. They are probably dead, too. Did you try to raid the tomb or are you followers of the warlord who was buried here?” The ghost seems confused. “I’m not dead. And who are you?” Cassia: “I’m an Orlanthi treasure hunter. Now, tell me where the crypt of the warlord is.” [Simple Contest, moderate difficulty (14), Cassia uses her Truth rune 13: Cassia 12 (success) vs. Difficulty 16 (failure), Minor Victory] The ghost explains how she can get to the crypt but still seems slightly confused.

Ok, that’s it for starters. I likely won’t have the time in December to continue this adventure so I wanted to post it for those of you who want to see how Heroquest plays in solo mode. My take: it’s a very neat ruleset for solo play. The Pass/Fail Cycle works great as a GM Emulator for setting the difficulty of the opposition. And because of this there is also no problem with only having one PC instead of a whole group. Here is what the character sheet looks like at the moment: Thanks for reading!

Links: Heroquest Glorantha Sharper Adventures in Heroquest Glorantha BOLD (aff) The Location Crafter (aff) “Aladdin” Technique Rory’s Storycubes UNE (aff)

  1. this is what I rolled up on the tables for The Location Crafter