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Embracing Ambiguity in HQ

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Re: Embracing Ambiguity in HQ

Postby Oftkilted » Wednesday November 11th, 2020 2:49pm

What does one do when information conflicts in game from the primary source?

You do what any storyteller does, you spin it as a “you’ve heard rumors of <conflicting thing> but the teller was entirely unreliable” and then tell the story the way you want.
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Re: Embracing Ambiguity in HQ

Postby Kurgan » Wednesday November 11th, 2020 6:25pm

Oftkilted wrote:What does one do when information conflicts in game from the primary source?

You do what any storyteller does, you spin it as a “you’ve heard rumors of <conflicting thing> but the teller was entirely unreliable” and then tell the story the way you want.



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Re: Embracing Ambiguity in HQ

Postby Shadzar » Sunday November 15th, 2020 12:03pm

Less is more. All i cared about when playing was
Zargon wants you fools braves souls to seek out this danger he prophesizes for gold and glory.
Any more than that and I could have just broke out AD&D instead.

The nature of Game System that allows you to make it is much or as little as you wanted it to be is what made it so popular.
Just a mimic waiting for its next meal.
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Re: Embracing Ambiguity in HQ

Postby Kurgan » Thursday January 28th, 2021 12:49am

Exactly. So if after my players win Quest 14, I want to say the Witch Lord is really defeated for good, and from now on the Orcs are being reformed and becoming good citizens of the Empire, but the new threat is coming from the Space Demons... I can do that, and if it's fun for them and for me, where's the harm?

I can see value in both extremes... and being in the middle.

Yes, there is something to be said for wanting your franchise to "look good" out of the box. You don't want them to wildly contradict stuff (unless you thought that stuff was crap to begin with.. though that can kill the nostalgia buzz) and introduce stupid things for no reason. But even if they do, you can still fall back on the older stuff that didn't suck. Keeping the fans reasonably happy is part your job when you're re-releasing or adding to a beloved franchise with an existing fanbase.

I read a great article on the convoluted and bloated (and ever shifting) nature of the "Star Wars canon" on another forum. I was reminded of how a lot of that stuff was made up (sure, some of it was based on old script drafts, un-used concept sketches and off-hand comments from George Lucas, but much of it was just invented on the spot more or less for game purposes) for the original Star Wars RPG. They pretty much had to do this or the game would have been really bare bones. RPG publishers of course have a vested interest in making up more lore, and creating campaigns based on lore created by others, in order to keep selling books (using your imagination, you don't need these new supplements and campaigns, do you? You're just paying somebody else to do the prep work for you). To make the game work they filled in a lot of gaps that existed from the time when it was basically a novel and a few comics (and a few kid's toys), other than the three films.

Then later Expanded Universe writers cribbed the RPGs for details to flesh out the background, creatures, tech, and terminology for their novels and comics (and video games). One thing built on another. But over time, those games had a universe that became smaller and smaller as more details were "known" and "filled in." Imagine trying to play that RPG a decade later, with people at your table who had poured over dozens of novels, comics, games, and "official statements" from Lucasfilm's continuity guru, about what "really happened." Would they balk at something you made up in your campaign as the GM, that contradicted (or just never appeared) in one of those later sources? Would they get upset that their favorite thing from some later source wasn't covered in the game setting? And as time goes on it gets even worse. George Lucas didn't feel constrained by the "universe" that had grown up around his films, that he himself approved (and sometimes even guided, as in the case of Shadows of the Empire and Dark Empire), and contradicted them with new movies. The games raced to keep up and fill in the gaps once again. Eventually huge parts of the canon were basically "reset" or reinterpreted in light of the movies (new movies and changes to old ones). Finally when the franchise was sold to Disney, they once again "reset" the continuity, and started making movies again, but borrowed from huge chunks of the supposedly now "non-canon" ("legends") lore (which they still sold... bringing books, comics, toys and games back into print that had been OOP for decades by this time, just to say they weren't canon on the label). Imagine being a fan in the 80's vs. a fan now... what a mess! And having been a fan for a long time myself, I know the obsession many fans had with keeping it all "straight." Some of us don't have time to read hundreds of novels and comics, and play dozens of games to get all this, and the attempted harmonization explanations from "official persons" posted on the Star Wars website or forums often are less than satisfying. So hopefully that long-winded comparison shows what can happen when a successful franchise gets too bloated, or becomes a victim of its own tendency to make more money by "answering questions" and "filling in gaps." Perhaps its better if fans just put a hard stop on it, when they're playing in their own sandboxes. I imagine the arguments nowadays...

"What do you mean I can't use light-speed skipping or the Holdo manuver to defeat the Imperial armada surrounding my ship! I demand you accept that my character is wearing Beskar steel plating, and so is immune to blasters and lightsaber hits! Why can't I use the force to teleport a bunch of weapons into my hands from the armory my friend has on another planet?" It would get crazy. "Listen guys, we are not accepting any new sources released after this game, sorry. If you want to run the campaign next week with your current year rulebook, we can do that and I promise not to whine, but for now... there's [the star wars equivalent of] Ogres, okay?"

So there's something to be said about imagination. If it requires a research degree in "lore" in order to run a game, rather than just sticking with what's in the box (plus imagination when needed for game purposes), that limits the fun, and fun is what the game is all about. If you're the sort of person who can't enjoy himself, unless he's sticking to the "latest canon" and your game players can't accept it if you agree with them on it, then I guess it's your only choice.

I love Pac-Man, but when I play it, I don't get angry and throw it down because there are no Super pellets like Super Pac-Man, or that I can't leave the maze like some of Pac-man "sequels" released decades after the arcades. With RPGs and board games of this complexity, there is a certain freedom, a certain looseness, a certain "I'll allow it" on the part of the GM. But there can still be limits, otherwise every player becomes his own GM, and you can't really have a game.

Sprinkling in a little bit of flavor from other sources is cool, and some players may appreciate if you made an effort to scrape those flavor chips off from some official, semi-official or quasi-related "source." But especially if you're drawing from another living franchise, there can be pitfalls to this approach, if the non-GM players feel free to repeatedly contest stuff because of their different level of fandom or research nitpickery. We all know of arguments between fans of lore. They interpret things differently, they like different things, so they'll all want their interpretation of the official canon to be the one that everybody recognizes, but when they're not the GM, it's not their place to start that argument once the game begins.

So I'd say whatever your view, it doesn't have to be a choice between accepting all of the Warhammer lore, OR just using your imagination. There can be a near infinite number of gradations in between. It's your game, you do it the way you see fit! The older and more popular a franchise, the harder it is going to be to please everybody, so you make a decision.

I say if you're going to go there, set boundaries up front, otherwise it's going to quickly turn into a "Rules Lawyer's Court" episode, where everybody is doing everything but playing the dang game. ;) When you're the GM, it's not their world... it's not even Hasbro's world, it's yours. And those who disagree can do it their way when they are Zargon/Morcar/Demon King. :2cents:
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Re: Embracing Ambiguity in HQ

Postby Cael Darkhollow » Monday March 15th, 2021 11:39am

whitebeard wrote:I had not been enjoying Kelar's Keep but I blame that on the lack of imagination in the scenarios (the early quests) I've played. Basically they do not alter the rules in truly creative ways like the base 14 quests... But here again KK is not actually on a map anywhere and it receives super local detail without precluding any kind of other future campaign.

Since Kurgan revived this old thread, I reread it and found a point I missed.
Kellar's Keep IS on a map as it is located in Karak Varn as stated on the back of the quest box:
"Trapped deep beneath the fortress Karak Varn, the Emperor and his knights prepare for hopeless battle."
""You must find the secret passage that has been lost for a thousand years-a passage spoken of in legend alone. It cuts through the very bowels of the World's Edge Mountains and leads to the vaults of Kellar's Keep."
from the Quest book:
The Emperor and his army are trapped in Kellar's Keep, the underground bastion of the fortress Karak Varn. This Great Dwarven stronghold lies deep within the heart of the World's Edge Mountains."
The location is super clear KK is inside Karak Varn which is in the World's Edge Mountains, which are both placed prominently on most Warhammer setting Old World maps.

I get the point Whitebeard was trying to make, he is a "less is more" guy as he put it, and prefers not having every detail layed out in a setting so the quests seem mysterious, but I am a "more is more" kinda guy and relish the detailed setting the game designers actually provided and am quick to point out poor Whitebeard's errors when he thinks none of HQ is found on a map.
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Re: Embracing Ambiguity in HQ

Postby Kurgan » Monday March 15th, 2021 2:06pm

I revived the thread because at the time I was a Necromancer (your reply was 2 months after mine, to be fair). Now I'm just a mercenary...

Yeah we can nitpick forever. I skimmed (note: skimmed, so you can look it up and correct me if you want) the rulebook for Warhammer fantasy battle 3rd edition and it says you can create your own world (but if you use their world, look at all these amazing citadel miniatures you'll have access to!). So it is open ended. Thanks to you guys I bought my own copy of the "Illustrated Guide" (from 1998, so after the Warhammers that existed when HQ was created) I didn't actually use a red pen on it) and wrote 11 pages of my own "world." Nobody knows about it but me, and it was fun, albeit completely unnecessary for generating quests.

As admitted even by the greatest WHF fans, what matters for each quest is the quest map and the quest notes. Whether this is drawn from some edition of Warhammer Fantasy, some book you read (as WHFB 3rd ed. suggests) or your own imagination, that's what it is.

Reading through the two guides showed me that many of the things I took for granted in Hero Quest were part of the old "Warhammer" world. It also showed me that many of the "original" things I had put into my own games were also thought of. This wasn't shocking because WH took as its base a very generic "fantasy" background. It looks as if at one point they had canonized a whole back catalog of generic fantasy creatures. Obviously a lot of work went into giving everything stats and background, etc. Kudos to them. Other stuff I use isn't part of WH in any form that I'm aware of, and that's okay too.

I'm glad the WH fans here have made it clear they don't expect everyone to learn that vast history and become experts on it, in order to enjoy HQ. The "true fan" thing (in virtually any fandom) bugs me so hopefully we can put any past misunderstandings behind us (I don't hate the franchise and this thread and the other one were never about my opinions).

I just recently watched the "Pulse" video from that convention where they had the other panel with Stephen Baker. It was enjoyable to hear him explain the motivations for developing HeroQuest, including wanting to introduce more people to fantasy and roleplaying gaming, to take the intimidating task of prepping out of it, to keep it simple, put everything in the box ready to go and be accessible, etc. He loves role playing and fantasy and adventures (as do we all!). He said his favorite hero to play is the Barbarian. That part was fun to watch.

It was weird hearing him say "Dread Warriors." Obviously he has to stick by the company script too. They all laughed nervously when they talked about "other expansions" from the classic game and the kind of collaborations they are working on and wish they could do (they never said "games workshop" or "citadel" at all). Awkward! But as fans we're under no such contractual obligations... HeroQuest can be as Warhammer-correct (or not) as you want. The "ambiguity" here is that you could decide to use Warhammer, but it wouldn't stop there, which edition would you use? Would you add details into quests that weren't there before? If you use 3rd edition, doesn't it say you can use your own world and use stuff you got from your favorite book? HeroQuest itself also gives you a blank quest map for a reason. Later packs tell you to come up with creative solutions when the text isn't clear or there's a problem with something. The game itself encourages you to do that rather than refer you to an encyclopedia. That's the beauty of it. WH fans, I understand, love Warhammer, and they want everyone to love it as much as they do, so they're trying to get people to read more of that franchise. That's great, but in the end we'll do what we like. Maybe that means their version won't be as cool as yours, but so be it. That ambiguity I don't think is being argued as the rule, that you shouldn't add to the "world" of your HeroQuest adventures. Rather, that you have this freedom and you're no less of a fan based on the source you choose to draw from is the point.

Some regard Hero Quest as "just a stepping stone" to other games. Obviously Gamesworkshop was in the business of selling miniatures so of course they used every opportunity to market those, including to select HQ fans in White Dwarf magazine. But we, and the folks at Hasbro now recognize that HQ is a thing in and of itself. It doesn't have to be a gateway into D&D or Warhammer Fantasy. It doesn't have to just training wheels for something else. For many it was, for me, it wasn't. If anything, I much more enjoy being part of a fan community and homebrewing stuff than if I were to have to go out and constantly buy new books to study and new official miniatures. Obviously that would be much more profitable for the company who owns the IP but I've rambled enough.

So some stuff in HQ is explicitly mentioned in Warhammer. As I read through the guide I was intrigued by some of the storylines and lore. Some of the stuff was missing (no Fimirs!). Some of the stuff I won't be using at all, some I like and incorporated it into "my" world. It was a fun exercise and the artwork was fun (all the Elves have those skinny heads like the classic HQ elf). Let's not fight about Warhammer. This is a Hero Quest forum!
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