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Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Saturday July 4th, 2015 1:47am
by Anderas
Hi there!

I know a lot of you have done a makeover for the game system quests. They need it - apart from the strongly varying difficulty, they don't seem to have a real storyline.

I tried hard to put them together in a story, but all i could achieve was to have two storylines and some loose quests.

- Three or four quests with Ulag and Grak
- Three quests for the Spirit Blade (at least, here there is a real storyline)

and then things like the Castle of Mystery, the Maze, the Trial, Melar's Labyrinth, Prince Magnus' Gold and some others, completely independent from each other.
Or did i just not see the connection?

Re: Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Saturday July 4th, 2015 3:47am
by Goblin-King
As I see it the game system is NOT one big epic quest. And thank God for that!
The heroes are fresh out of hero college and needs to undergo the Trial, rescue a knight, grind some boars and do some exploring.
Killing Ulag is really no different from defeating the Ogre Horde, it's just on a smaller scale.
All the independent quest shows you can easily make a single self-contained stand alone quest.

They are heroes... The take on any quest their emperor demands, big or small.

Re: Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Saturday July 4th, 2015 7:56am
by clmckay
Ditto on what Goblin King said.

On our most recent campaign start, we completed quests 1-7 (I think it was 7, May have been 6), sequentially. Then from 7-12 I'd made "quest cards" and let the Heroes decide the order to complete them in. They actually finished the Witchlord story before the remaining non-connected quests.

I'm a fan of encounters and the one-of quests make good encounters or filler missions, especially as they're starting out.

Re: Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Saturday July 4th, 2015 4:46pm
by torilen
The over-arching story is that Chaos is trying to gain a foothold. Hence the kidnapping of
Ragnar, Ulag and Grak, the Witchlord coming back and such.

The expansions packs of Kellar's Keep and RotWL are continuations of that over-arching story.

There's nothing wrong with some other stuff thrown in there. Some of the quests...even a
series of 2-4 quests...could simply be about the Empire expanding its domain, its wealth,
its influence in the world, etc. Some quests could simply be about Mentor (or whatever
wizard heading up the heroes) seeking ancient relics and treasures...for whatever reason
he or she may have (more power, more influence, simple greed for knowledge, etc.)

The important thing, in my idea of quest design, is to have your own backstory for
the quest. Why is the quest there. What is the purpose. The purpose could even be just
to test and/or help train the heroes or give them a new special weapon. But there should be
some point to it, even if you're the only one who knows that point.

Otherwise...what's the use of the quest being there?

Side note - an even greater purpose of the quests could be to help a hero continue their own
agenda. If you add in a bit of roleplaying, have the players come up with some background
for their hero and a drive for that hero. Maybe they want fame and fortune. Maybe they want
to follow in their family line of being a great hero. Maybe they seek power and influence in
the world. Create quests to help them complete those goals. It'll help the players have a lot
of fun with their hero, and will offer up great amounts of fodder for quest design.

Re: Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Saturday July 4th, 2015 5:49pm
by cynthialee
I agree, storyline is everything. It gives the players motivation. Tell them it is a treasure hunt and monster slaughter fest and they get tired of it after awhile. Tell them a story that makes them out to be the good guys stopping very evil beings, and it makes them want to win that much more. It invests them in the great archetype struggle of us verses them and good against evil. In that context they become part of the narrative.
When it is just hack and slash and loot it doesn't have them personally invested in the same way at all.

Re: Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Sunday July 5th, 2015 3:11am
by Goblin-King
I'm gonna go ahead and disagree with you there cynthialee...
I think level design is everything. While one doesn't exclude the other, I'd much rather play a well designed quest with a boring narrative than the other way around.
The game system seemed to make it a point to include something new and unique in almost every quest.
However if you are including new mechanics and other funny stuff, the quest kinda tends to invite to a story that's a little more than treasure hunt/monsterhunt.
This is not to say story isn't important! Of course the holy union is a well designed quest with an exciting narrative |_P

In regard to one-off quests. I think it's nice that the heroes aren't ALWAYS saving the World from utter destruction by the hands of the Ultimate Evil Demon Lord of the 9th Hell.
Sometimes it's a nice change of pace to just rescue the governor's dog or some *lemony goodness* for a big fat reward.

Re: Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Sunday July 5th, 2015 4:50am
by The Road Warrior
Goblin-King wrote:I think level design is everything. While one doesn't exclude the other, I'd much rather play a well designed quest with a boring narrative than the other way around.


And i'm going to second this. I find well written quests, with interesting events that look to step away from the usual pattern of open door, kill monsters, search room move to next door and repeat to be the most fun to play. The storyline can be more or less irrelevant if the quest design is interesting and unique.

Goblin-king has written to good examples of quests that apply this principle, The Mirror Maze and Secret of the Stone. I have no idea what the story is behind the Mirror Maze but the mechanic used in the quest looks fascinating and is one I'm looking forward to playing sometime. I only know the story behind The Stone Temple because GK worte it for a QP I was working on (and shamefully never finished!), but again it is the mechanic which makes this quest so fun, not the story. This is one I have played, it is possibly the most fun I have ever had playing HQ and you can read about it here. mikemacdee is another quest writer who has come up with imaginative ideas on how to use the quest board. His quest inn-escapable has always stuck in my mind as one I wanted to play. Again, I couldn't tell you what the storyline is behind this quest, but the mechanic looks really fun to play.

Big epic quests are fun. Storyline is important! But well written quests trump everything else for me.

Anderas wrote:I know a lot of you have done a makeover for the game system quests. They need it - apart from the strongly varying difficulty, they don't seem to have a real storyline.

I tried hard to put them together in a story, but all i could achieve was to have two storylines and some loose quests.

- Three or four quests with Ulag and Grak
- Three quests for the Spirit Blade (at least, here there is a real storyline)

and then things like the Castle of Mystery, the Maze, the Trial, Melar's Labyrinth, Prince Magnus' Gold and some others, completely independent from each other.


I actually like the way the Game System quests are put together and I think your assessment is correct, 2 small storylines and a collection of unrelated quests. The way we have been playing these in the play-by-post area with Sotiris has been fun. Similar to what clmckay suggested, we have been choosing our own route through the quests using a map to pick and travel to each quest in the order we choose.

Re: Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Sunday July 5th, 2015 8:30am
by Anderas
I have never seen the base system quests like that - each one introducing a new mechanic. It is true - And yes, that makes a big part of the unique appeal of Hero Quest that there is something new to discover each time; and a new mechanic each time is way more worth than a new room layout. Thanks for opening my eyes on this little fact on the base game quest book.

Well, i still would like to have an arching storyline. It doesn't have to be the Uber-Evul Levill 91 World-destroying Lichdragonmagedeamonork, but i personally think none of the big leaders should be disposed of by a single quest, not Grak, not Ulag, not Balor. The Wich lord had it right.

My reasons for a Storyline:
* It's just another thing if you have an driver and a REASON than if you have nothing of that. Prince Magnus' Gold may be a nice quest if you found the plan to the gold in Grak's Lair (and if the way back is not 31 turns long).
* In german we say "anticipation fun is the best fun" - well, i don't know if i translated it right. But it is a big driver, and it comes from the storyline.
* Why following Grak into the woods after he fled? Because you have been teased, he has gotten away, and you want to get it done! It's not yet finished! The typical Cliffhanger is also a storyline driven reason for getting the game out again.

So yes for me both counts - interesting quest design and storyline.

Road Warrior - i appreciate the interactive version of Heroquest Sotiris is trying with us.

Re: Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Sunday July 5th, 2015 11:35am
by knightkrawler
Well, there is an overarching storyline to the game system quests.
It's not that hard to notice, too: little dangers are discovered, identified, and made tasks for the heroes. Something's brewing. A Gathering Storm.
All those little incidents are connected to morcar, one after another, before the big bads start emerging, starting with the Witch-Lord.

The plot of the game system quests not only builds supplemental rules and mechanics, but also builds up tension, slowly, but surely.

Re: Storyline of the game system Quests

PostPosted: Sunday July 5th, 2015 3:14pm
by Sjeng
I think KK and GK are both right. The HQ base game is put together quite well. Perhaps more than you'd initially think ;)

Makes me wonder if we'll ever finish that belated 25th Quest Pack :P