Art by Jennell Jaquays from The Legendary Duck Tower
Over the weekend, my spouse (Adrean) and I had some free-time, and we played a one-off of Hero Wars. I already had a character made, a beer drinking Humakti Duck, and Adrean was down to play as Duncan McQuack, Initiate of Humakt.
I sat back and thought of a self-contained situation, roughly a short story worth of material. I grabbed a Dyson Logos map of a caravanserai, Duzig’s Hold (link at the end)! I decided the hold would be somewhere on a Lunar Tradout up towards Dorastor, but that’s not important. We don’t have time for lore! We’ve got a game to play.
I quickly flipped through Anaxials Roster, and decided an Ogre (a human who turned to cannibalism and became changed by Chaos) with the chaotic feature of Ant Pheromones had killed/partly eaten two people in Duzig’s Hold. Who were these people though? I made up two Trading parties, one Orlanthi and one Lunar. The victims were two of the Lunars who snuck off for some sexy time.
Both the Lunars and Orlanthi blame the other for allowing the murders to happen. Both cultures worship Humakt, so Duncan McQuack is trusted to be a neutral party and uncover the truth.
So we started right there, moments after the bodies were found (still warm).
Duncan McQuack went to the victims bodies, and tried to experience their last moments. McQuack failed, and the harrowing vision overwhelmed it (in our Glorantha, most Humakti are Agender, in-setting referred to as Swords, using it/it/its pronouns), inflicting a -1 Hurt status going forward.
Duncan grabbed Duzig’s teenage sons (Danzig, ZigZig & ZigZag) to look around the area for any sign of the killer. This led the group into one of the stables. Duncan failed to notice an ambush of a giant ants, one ant bit ZigZag knees (inflicting an Injury) and this attack kicked off an Extended Contest between Duncan and Duzig’s Boys vs a group of dog-sized ants!
We used the Follower and Collective Ratings rule for the combat. Followers add their Action Points to the Hero, while Collective Ratings distribute AP among a group of opponents who are treated as one actor rather than individual characters.
The fight was awesome! We loved how wagering AP and narration worked together for handling groups of characters.
An Example from one exchange.
Adrean wagers 8 Points: 1 point for ZigZag trying to defend themselves from the ant gnawing on his leg. 2 Points for DanZig and ZigZig forming a battle line to defend themselves. 5 points for Duncan rushing the largest ant.
This dynamic, where we locked down the actions as we wagered our Action Points, made describing the outcomes of each exchange so easy and fun! The battle was colorful, provided all the context to keep building on the fiction. and created a real Howardian momentum to the action.
We enjoyed the short session so much, we are going to continue to play and find out what happens next!
To note: As far as prep goes, I had various locations locked down. I know who the Ogre is (one of the Orlanthi, the lead trader’s cousin, Ogrid). The sequence of events prior to play and a rough idea of who everyone is. No clue trails. No set pieces. I am here to play, not to guide.