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Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

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Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby Interjection Games » Sunday November 2nd, 2014 9:08am

Greetings! This is an interest check for a design I've been pursuing for a little while now, namely an attempt to marry some of what I feel are the best components of Advanced HeroQuest and Warhammer Quest with the best components of the Gygaxian school of RPG development. This game does not yet have a name, though I feel hopeful that a name will present itself eventually.

HeroQuest is an interesting beast, as it represents one of the primary successors of the tabletop roleplaying game from the bedrock that is the board game. What makes it even more interesting is that the various companies that have a stake in HeroQuest are so bent out of shape regarding doing a Mexican standoff over IP that the concepts represented by this branch of the hobby are pretty much stagnant. The end result is one of the most fantastic RPG system modding communities in existence with no game to call home.

With some exertion, I'd like to make that home!

System Goals and Hurdles

1: Nigh-invulnerability to power creep

Let's look at Dungeons and Dragons and its children for what happens when power creep is embraced. The methodology is to add more and more POWAH to each book for... 5 to 7 years, then change editions and reprint everything for a new engine. I feel this is a huge slap in the face of the consumer, particularly given how much the books in the hobby cost. If you throw your scratch down, you deserve to have a book that works for a damn decade or better.

My approach would be to use simpler, canned classes like those seen in Warhammer Quest. There are no lists of new feats and spells with every book, only classes with a clearly-listed difficulty and power rating (1-5). This both enables high-power and low-power games by allowing a "maximum power rating" (nothing over 9000) to be imposed at the beginning of the campaign. Rigid codification of power makes "power creep" a nonsensical concept, as the game master has all the metrics needed to impose the order required to have the game he wants. Moreover, by making each class a flavorful, yet canned set of tropes, unintended design gaffes will occur less often.

2: Powerful character customization despite "canned" classes

This will be done in two ways. One, the game will have a wide battery of skills, ranging from multiple skills used to measure familiarity with weapon types (attacking is a skill!) to social skills and aptitude with, say, wizard hats. This means a pretentious duello-fanatic nobleman can invest significant skill ranks and resources into, say, wizard equipment and suddenly be a pretentious gunslinging nobleman who can also throw fireballs about. The same class can be a stealthy melee specialist who enjoys challenging people to duels, then cheating horribly and laughing about it with his mates at the bar. This makes "gear" the huge integrated challenge of the game, as an OP item can unhinge classes fairly quickly.

3: Introduction of a game master.

Warhammer Quest and Advanced HeroQuest were board games first and role-playing games second. By reversing this, players can have something akin to the Warhammer Quest dungeon delving experience in any Gygaxian campaign setting they want. Who wouldn't want to be able to adapt several decades of awesome content to another classic frontend? It also helps to make GW's flailing less likely to stick should they attempt it.

Of course, this means the "go to town pile of random tables" gets axed in preference of something more structured and able to hold down a story. Stock rolls and optional random town generation are staying so far.

4: d10 dice system with simple mathematics

Adding up tons of bonuses suck, so only one non-class, non-race bonus matters: the biggest one. Everything else goes into a "soak" pool. What is soak?

Let's say there's a +2, a +1, and a +1 on the field for bonuses to slashing. You get a +2 bonus to your slashing skill and 2 soak. The soak lets you ignore the first 2 in penalties to slashing, meaning debilitation is difficult if you invest in key skills. +1 bonuses are a huge deal in this game (and +2 is the highest item bonus, excepting some non-combat items), meaning you will find it nearly impossible to cover everything if you want the ridiculously awesome and flavorful items that give you expanded character options in the game.

The ability scores:

S - Strength
T - Toughness
R - Reasoning
O - Opportunity
N - Nimbleness
G - Gumption

Where's Charisma? Why, my good sir, being attractive is a skill.

Where's Attacks? You can take a penalty to an attack skill to get another roll, and can continue taking penalties so long as your bonus remains positive.

1 attack at +7
2 attacks at +4
3 attacks at +1

5: Generous OGL, alliances with 3rd-party publishers, and universality

In this day and age, a game needs to be open. Look at FATE. That system needs that free core book, and the extra settings don't hurt. It's something to emulate.

So, I look to you, the old guard, with a question. Assuming I capture that old school humor and sense of the absurd, am I retaining enough of that old mechanical goodness for you to consider this a proper spiritual, if not direct, successor to that crazy game of old? Quite importantly, would you demand that things be measured in tiles rather than feet? Your input is important!

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Re: Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby Anderas » Sunday November 2nd, 2014 4:08pm

I think there are some very good thoughts inbetween them.

There is just one question to be answered:
What do you offer so that the people are not treating your game as "yet another set of house rules"?
What's the difference?


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Re: Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby Interjection Games » Sunday November 2nd, 2014 4:20pm

That's a good question, mate!

The smartass answer is if I made it close enough to HeroQuest to be considered just house rules, I'd get sued, so the end result will have to be its own thing by definition.

Here's a real answer. Rather than consider this "house rules", I consider it more along the lines of giving HeroQuest the OSR - that's Old School Renaissance (or Revival) - treatment. Decidedly modern ideas mix with grognard concepts to make something palatable to gamers on both sides of the fence. Of course, this all depends on how you define "house rules", though such an approach didn't stop people from making Pathfinder #1. There's a lot to be said for a company with the balls to pick a dead system up, make it better, and start actively supporting it with hardcover books again.

So, tell me, would you consider the HeroQuest class system revamped to give you total control over advancement, built onto a d10 dice system with dozens of skills, fun and transformative items that let you mix tropes and get powerful customization, and an institutionalized GM "house rules"? I know this community is very mod-happy and they've had two decades to push the boundaries of house rules to the point where almost any rebuild can be considered it. Secondly, though it may be "house rules" by the generous definition of this dispossessed fanbase, if I made a hardcover book with a couple grand worth of art and settings in the wings, would you buy it or Kickstart it?
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Re: Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby JasonMCM » Sunday November 2nd, 2014 4:48pm

Things that make HeroQuest HeroQuest and why. (According to JasonMCM |_P )
  • The combat dice: If your dice have numbers on them then it isn't a HQ successor.
  • You can explain it in 5 minuets or less: I don't know any other dungeon crawl that can do this.
  • Every 'broken' rule is explained 'in quest' or on a card. (sometimes worded poorly, this is where a reprinting could rule): Rule-You can only attack once; broken rule Orcs Bane and Heroic Brew- you can attack twice and so on. You don't need 3 thick manuals to play the game. Just couple of cards and there you go.
  • PG rating: No 1/2 naked females and no heads on spears. HQ was a kids game and if you want to make a spiritual successor it needs to still be kid friendly.
I'm sure there are more but this is what comes to my head.

What I really want (and know will never happen) is HeroQuest 2nd Edition. (Think what Greed Workshop is doing with Space Hulk, or Fantasy Flight Games is doing with Decent.)

Side Note: If I am not mistaken game rules cannot be copyrighted, so you can get as close to the original rule set as you want. Its the Intellectual Property stuff that you have to worry about to avoid the lawsuits.
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Re: Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby Interjection Games » Sunday November 2nd, 2014 5:04pm

There's a strange dichotomy there, mate. Though game rules cannot be copyrighted, the specific way in which they are written can be. This makes developers tread lightly around iconic spells and rules. Let's say if I were taking content from... Warhammer Quest, using the word deathblow in its original state is a huge no-no, as it'll alert the GW lawyers even if it's in my rights to do so. Asserting rights costs money, and the man with the most money can invent rights he doesn't have and sit pretty on them.

I should also be a little clearer. Due to my focus on the campaign and the ability to tell a story within the system, what we're looking at is a GM-moderated game with rules for adventures and pre-generated dungeons, as well as the classic board game style play.

This means, by necessity, that what we're looking at is something using ADVANCED HeroQuest and Warhammer Quest as a starting point, not the original HeroQuest. Heck, the first class I'm working on is my take on the imperial noble from WHQ.

Alright, your actual bulletpoints.

- I'm using numbers. I guess I'll do comparative advertising with Warhammer Quest when I start playtesting.
- This is a yes and no. I can explain enough of the game to get you going in 5 minutes. Absolutely. Certain classes will be easy and certain classes will be hard to play. If you throw an easy class at a new player, you can get that player in quickly. If you throw a wizard or a beastmaster at the new player, the mechanics of that class may take another 10-15.
- I am a huge stickler for being sure everything fits properly. This will be done by default, sir, though, admittedly, I'm focusing on books and not the board/cards at this point in the game, as I'm seeing this being more of a "play on a dry erase mat" game due to the GM moderation. I'll have to cook something up with The Game Crafter if enough money comes in to justify rebuilding the experience.
- The way comic books and other media portray females irks me. I'll be treating them as people, not objects.

I should stress this again: I'm aiming for a tabletop roleplaying game with the best parts of that AHQ/WHQ feel and not the insane piles of random tables and such that were stapled onto the backend of the chassis to make campaigns work. For that reason, the end product will be a different game for a different generation, but have its influences be very recognizable.
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Re: Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby JasonMCM » Sunday November 2nd, 2014 7:28pm

Interjection Games wrote:...and the man with the most money can invent rights he doesn't have and sit pretty on them.

And we all know that Greed Workshop has their Munchkin Lawyers trolling the world looking for people to sue. :roll:

And if it wasn't obvious I was thinking you were making a HQlike board game and it seems you are looking more to make a RPG system book.
Therefore my bullets should be taken behind a barn and shot. :oops:

I wish you the best of luck but I will probably have much less useful opinions on this as RPGs are not my forte. :)
Do you PBP? I do. See my exploits below.

Amy the Amazon
Interactive HeroQuest
Sir. Jason the Champion
Trapped in the Dark
Swiftfoot the Elf
The Dark Company
Zargon the Evil Wizard
Core Quests Redone


Rewards:
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Re: Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby Interjection Games » Sunday November 2nd, 2014 7:50pm

To be perfectly honest, the strategy is to make an RPG, then as soon as the munchkin lawyers can't crush the entire IP in one go, try to adapt the boardgame elements to an "expansion" product and move the battlefield to the expansion, not the whole game. It's the safest way to play, as a loss won't end me.

So, think of the business model as pertains to you as follows.

Core Book - PDF is free. Reasonable price for a hardcover book.
"Fire Your GM Book, tiles, and decks of cards" - Given all the pieces, definitely not cheap. At POD prices, a big mountain of cards will cost $30-40 to print, and that's before shipping or paying me a red cent.

That brings a second issue to play. Economy of scale makes printing a reimagining of HeroQuest very, very difficult for the tiny guy like me. My biggest hit this year was 200 units, for god's sake, and my biggest mover ever is just over 400 units to date. Books I can actually make happen as round 1.

I'd also like to thank you all for talking with me. I seeded a number of the big forums and it's this little, game-specific forum that woke up and starting jawing with me.
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Re: Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby Interjection Games » Sunday November 2nd, 2014 8:00pm

If I may, can you direct me to other active bastions of Advanced HeroQuest and Warhammer Quest grognards? I'll need to know where you all are when it's time to start playtesting!
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Re: Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby mitchiemasha » Sunday November 2nd, 2014 9:49pm

JasonMCM wrote:Things that make HeroQuest HeroQuest and why. (According to JasonMCM |_P )
  • The combat dice: If your dice have numbers on them then it isn't a HQ successor.
  • You can explain it in 5 minuets or less: I don't know any other dungeon crawl that can do this.
  • Every 'broken' rule is explained 'in quest' or on a card. (sometimes worded poorly, this is where a reprinting could rule): Rule-You can only attack once; broken rule Orcs Bane and Heroic Brew- you can attack twice and so on. You don't need 3 thick manuals to play the game. Just couple of cards and there you go.
  • PG rating: No 1/2 naked females and no heads on spears. HQ was a kids game and if you want to make a spiritual successor it needs to still be kid friendly.
I'm sure there are more but this is what comes to my head.

What I really want (and know will never happen) is HeroQuest 2nd Edition. (Think what Greed Workshop is doing with Space Hulk, or Fantasy Flight Games is doing with Decent.)


I recently played Flux and like how the cards changed the rules. You have the basic rules as standard then cards that modify 'break' them. HQ should of done more of this, especially in the expansions.

HQ is definitely about those Combat dice, 100% agreed, with out them it's just not HQ or an advancement/expansion. It's also about that amazing advert, if GW had adverts like that they'd be in Toys'r'us, Argos and even Tescos.

AHQ was a total different game and i think it should of been, meaning the name. Even the cover art reflected HQ and had nothing to do with the contents, you don't even get a Barbarian or any of those Monsters. AHQ was just milking the HQ name, a true Advanced HQ has never been made.

What HQ needed is what Deathwing and Genestealers followed with the Campaign book was to Space Hulk. Keep the basics but add to it. Possibly 2 versions the Basic HQ with card 'Rule Breakers' and an RPG version, using Mind as intelligence 'Test of Mind' checks etc. The Basic version could see you sit a new player with an advanced player with quite some experience (card 'Rule Breakers') and still only take 5 minutes to explain the rules. Where as the RPG would have more advanced rules as standard. Ways to jump Heroes characters across from different play types would be a good idea and even playing the Quests as either.

I hate how games re-write but effectively are a new game but in the same world. The new additions should just expand on the original and fix faulty mechanics. That would be a much healthier system. Imagine buying HQ, then the expansion that turned it into an RPG but you still use the cards and pieces, in game prices, body points are the same etc. Another expansion adds new Heroes with new Artifacts with new specially abilities (Rule Breakers) to be found, bought. Another adds Dungeon Generation, Solo Play. Then there's Evil Magic, EW Tokens, Monster Boses, Rolling Doubles has Effect, trip. Weapons and artifacts could bring into play, Follow Through, Stand Fast, Push Back, Move-Attack-Move, 2 Attacks, Rock Solid, Charge, Berserker, Fury, Rage, Fumble, Counter Attack, I could go on.

You could choose which expansions to buy for what direction you wanted to take your games in but the initial HQ has to be taught in 5 minutes. The card system is perfect for this. The rules state, they start of simple but as you advance, new abilities and skills will become available to you. You learn the game as you play it, BOOM, Perfection! After a year of Quests, what you could have is a very complicated game, which is perfect as the basic rules can get quite boring once you've played them out.

I'm half way through my write up, including many of the rules i've mentioned above. I keep changing my mind after play test though but happy to get involved in discussing ideas.


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Re: Gauging Interest in a Spiritual Successor to HeroQuest

Postby Anderas » Monday November 3rd, 2014 4:33pm

On the other hand, if you really manage to print the gaming material - Source Book, Rule Book, a complete Card Deck, Modular Board Tiles and some Dices - then it would be a game on its own right and certainly no more regarded as "another House Rule Set".

The success then would depend on (as always) easy to learn but deep on the close look mechanics; plus a good storytelling feeling. For the second point, a full colored source book with stories and a picture for each quest would certainly help. For the mechanics, apparently you already have something elegant and deep at the same time.

I know, this is from a pure customer's perspective. Certainly there have to be some compromises, but as we are wishlisting here, instead of searching for compromises i would rather add a 10 hours super-produced sound track for each situation and each faction; with a well functioning mixer software. :mrgreen: :D

I guess most of the people around in this Forum already have sufficient minis to fill 5-10 Dungeon Crawl Games; so the game material would be a very good start.
Afterwards you could pair up with a miniature seller to do "the other half".


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