Valley of Plenty Review

Valley of Plenty (affiliate link) is a campaign book set in Glorantha and more specifically in the Dundealos Valley, Sartar. It is the first publication by Troupe Games and the first official QuestWorlds supplement. There have been books for HeroQuest Glorantha before but this is the first to have the QuestWorlds logo in its cover.

As said, it is a campaign book set in Glorantha. Interestingly this campaign begins from when the heroes are mere children. This affects also the character creation. The characters are created throughout the campaign to finally match original HeroQuest Glorantha character keywords and abilities. For the first session, the characters have the name, the bloodline keyword, and the cultural keyword. On top of these also some abilities are created and the role in the Wildling Band, the overarching group the characters belong, is determined. Later, when some adventures are had and the characters grow they get more keywords and abilities. Some of these depend on the random table events happening during the interludes.

The character creation and the whole campaign arc should work well with players new to the setting. Glorantha, having a plethora of history and details already, might seem daunting at first. But when you look at it from a child’s perspective you don’t have to know everything upfront. You have to know who are the adults near you and the other kids and the best places to have fun and games. This way the setting is also widened to the players as the campaign advances.

The book does not present previous Glorantha lore at all for the GM to read. This is a chosen tactic by the writers (and you can read more about their thoughts about this in their blog) so it might be a good idea, although not required, to read a little about Glorantha and Sartar from prior sourcebooks.

The gradual deepening works for the system, also. Character creation is quick and on point. As the campaign advances, characters get more to play with. The first scenarios are clearly designed so that players new to the system get introduced to QuestWorlds gradually through play. For example, the first scenario only deals with simple contests, group simple contests, and automatic victories (players don’t necessarily even notice the last one used). Having a quite fresh QuestWorlds GM would also enjoy this handholding. Have the QuestWorlds SRD in hand, though, as the book does not have any rules in it.

https://dscarpenter.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/bag-of-frogs.png?w=359
Bag of Frogs – Valley of Plenty

There is a total of seven scenarios split for three different age range. The first scenarios are all fun and games. The last ones are actual raids as the characters enter their adult life through the rites. Before each interlude, some other story seeds are presented to have more scenarios to play if your group is really into it. I think the story arc works for its purpose: to escort the player characters to adulthood and on to the next adventures in the Jaldonkillers saga.

As is with QuestWorlds there are no “stats” for the NPCs. The “Dramatis Personae” has enough information about the supporting characters for the GM to play them. There are two maps. One is the gazetteer of Dundealos Valley with important locations marked. The other one is the far view of Dundealosford (seen also in the cover), the main location of the campaign, with six places marked. So there is room for the players and the GM to build the ford to their liking. I don’t know if the ford will be detailed more in future books.

The one thing missing is the character sheets. Of course, you can use the HeroQuest Glorantha character sheet or just a piece of paper but having a Valley of Plenty specific sheet supporting the gradual character creation would’ve worked fantastically. Especially as there have been cool character sheets done for HQ.

The book layout makes it a pleasure to read and it has enough art to get the reader into the setting. The book contains 151 pages and it is available for about $25 (PDF) and Print-On-Demand is coming to DriveThruRPG(affiliate link).

Check out also That’s How I Roll blog for detailed contents of the book.

Mathematics of QuestWorlds

UPDATE: As is always with mathematics, there tend to be errors. Same happened here. My sheet wasn’t perfect so the actual numbers in this post are not correct. The conclusions are still valid and worth the read. Just don’t believe the numbers to be precise. Check out the AnyDice implementation (end of the page) for more accurate probabilities.

The dice mechanics in QuestWorlds goes like this: Both the player and the GM roll a 20-sided die against their target number (ignoring the masteries). They achieve a result of Critical (1), Success (2 to target number), Failure (rest until 19), or Fumble (20). Now, if either one of them has more masteries than the other they can bump their success level to better until they run out of masteries. If they can’t go better, they bump the opponent to worse.

Then, depending on the difference between the results, the overall outcome is interpreted using the following table. See the details from the SRD.

Roll for playerCriticalSuccessFailureFumble
CriticalHigher roll = Marginal Victory, else Marginal DefeatMinor DefeatMajor DefeatComplete Defeat
SuccessMinor VictoryHigher roll = Marginal Victory, else Marginal DefeatMinor DefeatMajor Defeat
FailureMajor VictoryMinor VictoryHigher roll = Marginal Victory, else Marginal DefeatMinor Defeat
FumbleComplete VictoryMajor VictoryMinor VictoryTie
Degree of Victory table from QuestWorlds SRD

Couple of examples:
Target numbers: GM 17 vs Player 14
Rolls: 5 and 15 -> GM Success vs Player Failure results in Minor Defeat

Target numbers: GM 8 vs Player 17
Rolls: 5 and 15 -> GM Success vs Player Success results in Marginal Victory as player had higher roll

Target numbers: GM 8M vs Player 18
Rolls: 20 and 5 -> GM Fumble bumped to Failure vs Player Success results in Minor Victory

The probabilities

Calculating the probabilities for different outcome levels is not so easy with QuestWorlds. Ignoring the masteries the task is still quite basic mathematics but a mastery difference has its effect on the outcome. Luckily there is no difference which side has the advantage so the probability of Minor Victor or Defeat is the same when the target numbers are same.

Let’s look at some interesting outcomes.

10 vs 10

Here we see the probabilities for a single 10 vs 10 roll. Compare that to another same target number roll. Say for example 18 vs 18.

18 vs 18

So, even if the target numbers are the same their distance to number 10 actually increases the possibility of a marginal outcome. That makes sense. When the target numbers are close to ten it is more probable that both roll different results (Success vs Failure). When we are far from ten it is more probable that both hit the same result (for example both rolling with target number 19 results many times to Success vs Success).

The probability of any victory of course depends on the target number difference. In basic 18 vs 14 roll the probability to win is around 64%.

18 vs 14

The same difference with near ten target numbers (12 vs 8) results in same probability of 64%. But, again, the Minor outcome is more probable.

12 vs 8

What about masteries then? A single mastery advance results in 85% chance of winning. No wonder setting the difficulty level to Base+M is named “Huge” resistance.

14M vs 14

Moving around the magical 20 acts nice. For example, having a small mastery against (4M) a “High” resistance (20) does not skew the probabilities too much. The probability of a victory is 59% so pretty close with the four-point difference earlier.

4M vs 20

One more note about the most desperate situations. In really bad cases (for example 6 vs 18M) you still have around 8% chance of winning. So even with a large difference, there is still some chance to win.

6 vs 18M

Conclusion

So, what to remember from this at the table? One mastery advance is quite big. Setting a resistance to six points more nets three out of four victories. This should help you setting the resistance.

When you are working with numbers far from ten, you can expect more marginal outcomes. This is usually the case as base resistance starts from 14 and player character abilities from 13 and they get some points added. Even the high abilities tend to be with low number plus the mastery.

These probabilities were calculated with my excel sheet. I am no mathematician and there might be some problems with my formulae so take these with a grain of salt. You can find the sheet from the resources page.

EDIT: Scott A had done this before with AnyDice service (http://anydice.com/program/adbc). Thanks to Roko Joko at BRP forums for pointing this out. Comparing the outcomes I have to say they are producing different results and draw the conclusion that my excel sheet would need some fine tuning, still.