Peter on heroquesting

From: David Cake (
Date: Wed 15 Jan 1997 - 06:45:44 EET

Peter Metcalfe defending his comments on heroquesters working by instinct
as playable

>Perhaps you were sleeping when Pendragon mechanics were mentioned?

        No, but Pendragon mechanics definately do not (in normal play) mean
that you cannot be calculating should you so choose. You may have lustful
15 in Pendragon, but if you specifically say the the GM before being asked
for the call 'no way, I'm not going to get involved with this one no matter
how alluring', then you avoid the roll. The Pendragon mechanics

specifically say that in general players can supersede their trait rolls
and act out character if the player is adamant enough - and with good
reason, its player fun that's at stake here.
        Now, I think trait rolls are a fine heroquest mechanic. But that
does not mean that you need to be an Illuminate or Logician to divorce
yourself from your emotional side and act in your own self-interest. I

think good theists do this all the time on their quests - they try to
ignore their human weaknesses, and do what their religion says they should,
in part because they believe that that way lies their self-interest. But if
you are acting out of character, it just won't work as well - especially as
exactly what myth you are following is often unclear.
        Now, there are situations where trait rolls are always called for,
and the GM can overrule a player rightly. The character with a valorous of
3 just will not stand up to the Zorak Zorani charge no matter how hard they
try, unless they have a very good justification. But situations where a
simple choice of action is offered is not the right time.

>1) You could make a Judgement call on the PC's character from
>his previous record and ask him to make a POWx5 roll if it was
>out of character for him to heal the lion (ie he has a history of
>pulling cats by their tails).

        A reasonable mechanic for that concept, but its still the concept
thats backwards I think. Telling he a PC that they can't do the right thing
because the GM doesn't think its in character is going to really really
piss them off, and besides I don't think it works like that. Giving them a
single roll (trait roll or otherwise) before doing so upsets them only
slightly less. A good roleplayer, or course, will just act in character OR
justify it by other aspects of their character (a cruel but pious character
might be following the myth, for example), which can amount to the same
thing as acting in a calculating way. Heroquesting should be testing and
exploring the PCs character, and a transformative experience, not simply
punishing or rewarding for past actions.
        A better way to do it is to turn your conception around - the
heroplane may not be able to probe the characters mind, but it knows about
their actions. So, the situation subtly changes. If the character has a
history of pulling cats by their tails, the lion feels it, and flees and
maybe tries to fight him off when he tries to aid it. Or maybe a cat just

like the ones at home appears instead, as a variant form of the test. If
the character has a history of aiding animals, the lion might even ask for
help. But if the cruel character succeeds anyway, they might learn the
value of mercy and soften.

>2) You could look at the magic that he knows (spirit and divine)
>and count up which points he has in War magic and which he knows
>in Healing magic and make an opposed roll (love versus war) to
>heal the injured moggie.

        This idea, while a reasonable idea, I like even less. The character
who wants peace and love, but is forced to turn to warlike ways to protect
his family/way of life/loved ones, is a truely classic archetype. Besides,

the most warlike characters often accumulate masses of healing magic,
finding the most frequent use for it.

an unrelated rules snippet
>as has been argued many times before, Axe Trance is
>a ludicrous spell.

        I argued long and loud on the rq-rules list that Axe Trance was
overly powerful, and eventually Sandy, who wrote the spell, said that is
intended to be overly powerful. So I left it at that, with a few minor
caveats (I say that the MPs need to come directly from an earth cult
initiate, which restricts it from PC abuse, but still allows over the top
use in some situations).




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