Pursuit Sequences in HeroQuest 2, Part 2, Chasing
Phil Nicholls blogs at Tales of a GM, where he writes about narrative gaming, faster prep and more story. He is currently running a HeroQuest Glorantha campaign in a home-brew setting. Phil has written for Johnn Four’s Roleplaying Tips newsletter and has a selection of self-published pdfs.
This essay is taken from the archives at Tales of a GM.
Welcome back to the second article about how I run a chase in HeroQuest 2. This in turn follows on from my earlier review of the Paizo Chase Cards 2, Hot Pursuit. The previous article dealt with how to set up the chase.
This essay looks at the process of running the chase, where the Heroes are chasing after someone, or something. The article is more detailed than usual, so you have plenty of information for converting these methods to your chosen set of rules. The final article in the series presents my method when it is the Heroes being pursued.
Chasing in HeroQuest
I run all chases in HeroQuest as Extended Contests. However, the mechanics of each chase vary according to whether the Heroes are the pursuers or the quarry. For the moment, I focus on the simpler situation where the Heroes are chasing a quarry.
In this situation, each Hero accumulates Resolution Points (RP) arising from a Defeat when rolling against the obstacles represented by the Chase Cards. A Hero is out of the chase when they reach five or more RP.
Plus, the Hero leading the chase, and ONLY that Hero, inflicts their Victory RP on the quarry. When there are two or more Heroes at the front of the chase, then it is the most successful Hero who inflicts their RP on the quarry. Once the quarry has accrued five or more RP, then they have been caught by the leading Hero.
The GM and the Quarry
I begin each round by laying down a Chase Card at the front of the line, and moving the quarry automatically one card forward. I do not want to roll for the GM-controlled quarry against the GM-controlled obstacles on the cards. Having the GM roll a contest that does not involve the Players is a waste of everyone’s time.
Instead, it is better to heighten the tension of the chase and always assume that the Quarry keeps moving. I want the Players to use their wits to win the chase, not benefit from some external event. Perhaps this is not entirely accurate, but my approach keeps the focus of the game on the Players, and feels more like the chases seen in films.
Running the Chase
So, the Chase is set up, with appropriate markers, and the required number of Chase cards between the Heroes and their quarry. I explain to the Players how the RP will be assigned for the duration of this chase. Then it is time to begin the pursuit.
Each Hero rolls against the obstacle on the Chase Card immediately ahead of them. The success, or failure of this roll determines whether the Hero overcomes the obstacle and passes on to the next one. The Hero markers are then moved according to how the individual performed against their current obstacle. As the chase progresses, the Heroes slowly spread out over the route of the chase, as they meet with varying levels of success. The narrative for each Player also reflects their progress.
If a Hero fails to overcome an obstacle, then they suffer RP as normal in an Extended Contest. Reach five RP, and the Hero is out of the chase, either through exhaustion, lack of will or some story-related reason suggested by their current Chase Card obstacle.
In the case of the quarry, however, only the leading Hero in the chase can inflict RP on them. The trailing Heroes are effectively only rolling to overcome the environment and move forward along the path of Chase Cards. If the quarry has suffered five RP, then they are caught, and the chase is over.
Catching the Quarry
Each participant is out of the Chase once they reach five RP. There are only two outcomes for the quarry in a chase; escape or capture. If the quarry escapes the Heroes, then the Heroes have failed and may take Lingering Penalties. Plus, the narrative will reflect their failure. The Heroes might be mocked for their inability to catch the deer, or simply lose their money to the pickpocket.
The capture outcome creates more interest at the table. Depending upon the situation, there may or may not be a combat at this point. As ever in HeroQuest 2, a lot depends upon the desires of the Players and the energy level at the table.
If the Heroes have caught their quarry in a hunt, then I would probably end the chase entirely and announce a successful hunt. Except where they had been hunting a particularly vicious animal, in which case the Heroes would need to fight. Likewise, if the Heroes had caught a thief, or some fleeing warriors, then I would probably just narrate the outcome.
On the other hand, this chase could be part of the climax of a plot. For example, where the lead Hero now corners the fleeing villain. In this case I would insist on a fight, with the remaining Heroes trailing in as they gradually overcame the intervening obstacles. Such an extended chase and fight sequence would make for an interesting climactic encounter where the stakes are high.
A chase is a staple of action films, so should be used more often in RPGs. This is how I run a chase when the Heroes are pursuing their quarry. Next week, I explore what happens when the roles are reversed, and the Heroes being chased.
In the meantime, how do you run a chase? Please use the comments to share how you handle this option in a narrative game.
For more essays from Phil, and updates about his latest campaign, visit Tales of a GM.