Heroquest; illumination

From: cpearce@Incite.com
Date: Wed 29 May 1996 - 22:00:48 EEST

>>Buddhist meditation, in constrast, would be
>>represented by the lack of any imagery whatsoever, and how the heck can
>one roleplay such a thing entertainingly and convincingly?

The story of Siddartha is also filled with lots of imagery, so I know where
you are coming from. Mind you, Siddartha's heroic act was remaining
impassive to the fears and temptations of the world, which is not so
exciting to roleplay, but the imagery is great.

Maybe players wanting to roleplay such a HeroQuest would have to keep a
straight face while all the other players tickled them, or somesuch.

>And of course 'Monkey' (aka
>'journey to the west') is a classic hero story, and that comes from a
>buddhist culture - and at least one of the main heroes is a good buddhist
>(the others being decidedly dodgy buddhists).

Great! Actually, I have this book on my bookshelf at work... I borrowed it
from a co-worker a long time ago, but never even cracked the cover. I keep
forgetting about it. Now that I know what it is, I'll tear into it.

>Buddhist cultures have produced tales of heroes heading down to
hell and similar heroquest type activities.

Chinese hells are definitely pretty wicked. I think that some of the Hong
Kong action movies by Tsui Hark (Chinese Ghost Story) probably make great
source material for doing colorful mystic stuff.

>What I actually want from 'HeroQuest' is not necessarily a set of
>rules for heroquesting, but a set of guidelines for constructing
>heroquests, and a set of rules for coping with Gloranthan style heroic
powers back in the mundane world.

I think the guidelines for constructing heroquests would come from studying
folktales, fairy tales and epics and putting them into a Gloranthan
framework... good storytelling, really. But guidelines for treating the
transformative effects on characters seems like a good idea. Flat bonuses to
percentiles seems rather dull. Weird, unearthly effects are more

>The common view of illumination seems to
>be that its a purely internal thing, an emotional experience of reexamining
>your own attitudes and limitations. While heroquests are about having
>yourself tested by others.

Let me explain myself then. I see the process of illumination as a
metaphysical journey, a grappling with the shackles of one's indoctrinated
assumptions about the world. Would-be illuminates re-enact the initial
journey taken by the first illuminate (Nysalor?). The crux of the process

occurs when the illuminate undergoes a crisis of belief brought about by the
paradoxes inherent in the Riddles. After undergoing the crisis, the
illuminate is utterly transformed (and maybe destroyed) in the process. An
interesting question: does the illuminate ever bring any wisdom back to his
community? Or is the process of necessity always limited to the illuminate

I feel the common element to all HeroQuests is that of testing oneself,
rather than being tested by others. HeroQuest examples like the Morokanth
thumb quest seem ostensibly about winning a conflict against one's
environment, yet an important component to me seems to be that all
participants know they are taking on a mythic mantle. This assumption of a
mythic role seems to me to be the required element necessary to bring about
internal and external transformations.

I built up these impressions about HeroQuests from osmosis from the list, so
of course they could be flat wrong. Live and learn.
- --
Chris Pearce


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.7 : Fri 13 Jun 2003 - 16:31:53 EEST