QuestWorlds report from Impromptu Con 2

Chaosium arranged its second Impromptu Con on Feb 27, 2021. The “con” here is more of a series of chat sessions on different Chaosium-related topics held in Discord. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it but Andrew Jones posted his (and Ian Cooper’s) notes in the forums. Here’s a recap, sourced from those notes, of what is happening with the QuestWorlds as of Feb 27.

At the time of writing the official QuestWorlds site is seriously behind the work-in-progress version in Github. Nevertheless, the official statement from Chaosium is that “SRD is close to final, please promote the SRD in appropriate forums so that we can begin to slowly build buzz around the engine again.”

But, a little bit of history of how the current state of the SRD came to life starting from HQ.

  • We started with a goal to extract just the rules text from HQ Core for the SRD
  • Once done, the pared-down text revealed issues around the use of game terminology (failure and defeat) that we needed to correct.
  • Marginal, minor, major, and complete have always been an issue because they implied you only get the prize on complete. Should be you always get the prize but price, or what else you get varies.
  • We wanted to offer consequences (penalties) on a partial success (marginal) as an option to the GM (exhaustion etc.)
  • Masteries remain difficult to explain and it takes time for folks to ‘get it’ if they don’t have the option to play with someone who has mastered them.
  • We moved to “counting successes” over “bumps”. A mastery is a success, a success on your roll is a success. Most successes win, and the highest roll wins if tied. The difference in successes is the degree of victory and used to determine tally in a sequence, a hint as to consequences and benefits, etc. Zero degrees of victory is a partial success – you get the prize, but there is often a cost.
  • We factored out the common part of all ‘long’ contest types – a sequence of contests and just note the different methods of tallying relative position: First to Five, APs, Penalties. Long Contests became Sequences and Simple Contests just Contests.

I have been following the process of how the rules changed for the best of the time sometimes reporting in this blog. For example, there was my, I’ll admit it to be a little too scandalous sounding, news on removing the degrees of the outcome. I am happy to see the degrees are now back as ranks. The “counting successes” is also a really good change. It introduced the “success on target number roll” rule that removes the frustration especially in the target number of 20.

The first book they will release is the Core Rules book. It will have lots of advice on how to be a player or a GM in a storytelling game (including ideas like scene framing etc for the GM). Their hope is to keep rules clean for easy reference and have an extensive amount of examples. I will review the Core Rules book in this blog as soon as it is out.

The second book will be about writing genre packs and adventures. There has been already some information about genre packs in the HeroQuest: Core Rules (affiliate link) book but the new book should go beyond that and deepen the art of writing genre packs for QuestWorlds. This is something you don’t find in the SRD. The book will include three example genre packs:

  • Pioneer Space: Patrolmen and Free Traders on the frontiers of space, rooted in 50 and early 60s S, Heinlein, Norton, etc (think valve powered machines, fixed phones in retro ’50s style)
  • Age of Miracles: 70s NYC Superheroes. Disco and Vigilantes (much lower power level than Cosmic Slop)
  • Brave New World: Renaissance Fantasy, exploring a Hollow Earth

The advice on writing adventures will include, for example, advice on relationship maps and excerpts from Robin Laws’ Sharper Adventures in HeroQuest, which is an absolutely essential read for QuestWorlds Narrators. The plan is also to introduce “templates” to let players create characters with more ease into specific genres. This is something that ought to help players get into the genre. A topic I have posted in this blog, also. I am looking forward to reading what advice they can collect into this book and will definitely go through them in this blog then.

As part of the first release, or at least timed with it, three genre packs will be released.

  • Doc Vandal:  1930s Pulp from Dave Robinson (who has written a few novels starting the title character}
  • Cosmic Zap: Cosmic level superheroes from Ron Edwards (think Jack Kirby’s 4th World work for DC and the Eternals}
  • After Thought: Slower-than-light Science Fiction from Sean Hillman

There was also discussion about what QuestWorlds Glorantha might look like but the ideas on that were in so preliminary state I don’t go through them here.

Overall, it is exciting to see QuestWorlds finally come to life. Follow my blog to get the latest news surrounding QuestWorlds and advice on using the system in your games.