Other Worlds

As I mentioned in this thread - http://www.story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=3228

Other Worlds

Mark Humphreys, Scott Mathis and Mike Holmes, after working on the Questworlds project (until it's subsequent reassignment to the
eminent Robin Laws), have teamed together to create a new role-playing game called Other Worlds.

Other Worlds is very much based on the lessons we learned as a result of that earlier project. As such, it will undoubtedly have some similarities to the base Heroquest system. But it will also be significantly different, reflecting our vision of the sort of game that we always hoped HQ would support (but which it didn't always provide, at least without some modification, and a lot of technique in play). Not a simple imitation of Heroquest, then, but a departure in a specific direction.

Other Worlds will be released as a core rulebook of around 100,000 words. Most of that material will be advice; advice on playing the game, advice on running the game, and advice on adapting the game to any genre or setting you see fit. We will also be including 'genre snapshots' for a wide variety of different genres - Fantasy, Science Fiction, Wild West, Pirates, Horror, Superheroes - to enable you to start playing more or less straight away. The game will be released with some sort of open license, and will be followed up almost immediately with a few more detailed books on how to play with the rules in specific genres, and even specific settings meant for play with the rules. Others will, of course, be able to create their own products based off the core rules as they wish as long as they abide by the details of the specific license.

When will Other Worlds be released? Given that we already have a very strong direction, we're hoping it won't take too long for us to take what we already have, and fashion the text to what we want it to be. We aren't making any promises, but it shouldn't take too long for us to get to an advanced state. That said, we're committed to thoroughly playtesting the game (both internally and independently), and it won't see the light of day until such time as that has happened - however long that takes. Our priority is to get this done right as opposed to getting it done quickly.

Finally, we'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who contacted us with messages of support and encouragement. While we are disappointed that we won't be able to continue working on the Questworlds project, we are looking forward to creating our own game for publication. We have spent the last few months re-examining our design goals and making sure that we have something new and interesting to bring to the table. The response from all those who have seen our playtest manuscript has been an unqualified 'yes'. From that perspective, we thank Moon Design Publishing for pushing us on to create the game that we really wanted to make. This is a real labor of love for us and we hope it shows.

We'd be pleased to answer any questions you have about the project in this space.


  • Hi Mike,

    Congratulations on the new project. I'd be interested in hearing something about the mechanical direction you're thinking of taking, but in any case, I'll be watching for this. Thanks.


  • Hi, Mike. This sounds cool. I am totally unaware of this until your announcement, and I've only skimmed. So, sorry if I'm missing something obvious, but ...

    Is this new project of yours the HeroQuest engine, or something totally new? Like, some kind of license or whatever?

    Either way, sounds awesome. HQ is one of my favorite systems around, so this can't be a bad thing, even if only "informed" by all the HQ love!
  • edited June 2007
    We have no license or anything, so this had better be something "totally new." In our writing of QW, we had really taken some of the HQ design in some very specific directions. So it was already probably "new" enough to count as it's own game at that point. Now that we're not constrained by the idea of the project having to be "Generic Hero Quest" we've taken it off even further. So it's definitely it's own game.

    Oh, you'll recognize some of the structures and their functions in play, and some of the mechanics will be vaguely familiar from HQ play. But there'll be substantive differences, and it'll all fit together into the puzzle that we want it to be. Not just a generic version of an old set of rules.

    As a "for instance," I think we've settled on a single resolution system that covers every type of conflict you might want to have - no more multiple resolution systems to handle different situations (steals back a bit from TSOY, actually, but goes a step farther and steals from DitV, too). That might include ways to handle all of the mechanical variations that you tended to find in HQ (things like variable augmenting, heroforming, HQ Challenge rules, etc).

    Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the resolution system will be firmly set as conflict resolution, with methods to support that.

    It's also likely that the dice mechanics will be pretty different from HQ - we're toying with several working models there right now. The goal being to keep HQ's strenghts in such things as scale, but allowing for faster and more nuanced results (to say nothing of them having to fit our various other changes).

    The way that the character is structured will be a little different than the HQ keyword/ability model, in that the relationships between these things will be clearly defined and unambiguous. All while allowing you to create structures you feel you need to support whatever genre in which you find yourself playing. Allowing you to nail characters down to the genre with ease and power.

    The currency becomes clearly metagame, no longer tied down to any notions of learning effort or such. Character ability development will be very dynamic - capable of fine grained tuning, but allowing for more radical changes in the character.

    Does that give an idea?

    I'll have a playtest version of this with me at GenCon (one way or another), so if anyone wants to try it out there, let me know! We'll also probably be looking for independent playtesters pretty soon.

    Thanks for the Interest, gents!
  • I gives a great idea, Mike. This sounds extremely promising. I'd love to give it a whirl at the big con, perhaps even take a stab at a playtest (though I'd need to make sure my infrequent group is willing & able).
  • Especially as the person who pulled Mike, Mark, and Scott into working together, I am thrilled to see them moving forward with Other Worlds. Absolutely thrilled. I've had the pleasure of seeing them in action (both writing and collaborating), and I very much look forward to seeing this.

  • Yep, we owe a debt of gratitude to Brian as the original project co-ordinator for bringing us all onboard. Thanks Brian! I hope that you enjoy the results.

  • Glad you were able to find something new out of the experience. I really hope I get a chance to try this out at Gen Con.
  • Rock. Me. You. Lake Geneva Con. Playtest.
  • It's always Gencon with you people. Any chance of a sneak peek at Origins, Mike?
  • I'm not Mike, but I'm betting if he's got it ready for playtest this Saturday, by default it will be ready for playtest at Origins. I'll be down for playtesting there also. Will you be there for the whole thing Marhault? We could throw some dice, regardless of playtesting.
  • edited June 2007
    Heh, it's like Clyde can read my mind.

    Yes, Clyde, if you want to play this Saturday, let's do that.

    And then, yeah, Jamey, I'll have it at Origins (I look forward to seeing you there). Looking at presentation for GenCon as well. We'll definitely have something there.

    There'll be enough playtesting to go around, I assure you all. :-)

  • Awesome.

    Clyde, yeah, I should be there for most of the Con. I may have to work part (or all) of the days Thursday and Friday (I'm a Columbus local), but I'm sure we can find a chance to meet up.

    Mike, I'll have my dice with me this time, if I don't lose them throwing them at Clyde...
  • I hope they are those soft dice. Oh so warm and fuzzy....

    Great Mike. I've already got Len on board so that's at least two of us for Saturday.
  • edited June 2007
    Excellent Clyde! Anyone else in the southern Wisconsin/northern Illinois area interested? http://www.trolllord.com/newsite/events/lggc.html

  • I stuck an actual play on the Forge Playtest forums.
  • Sounds fantastic!

    -Rob D.
  • Is there a web link for learning more about this/tracking progress?
  • Sorry not to have gotten back to you, Tim, that was rude. Somehow missed the update to the thread.

    For now, we'll use space like this to track progress. If at any point we get more organized with a web-site or somesuch, we'll post here and elswhere to let you know.

  • Posted By: Mike HolmesThe way that the character is structured will be a little different than the HQ keyword/ability model, in that the relationships between these things will be clearly defined and unambiguous.
    Hi Mike,

    Could you talk more about this?

  • Looking forward to this stuff with interest!

    Joachim Buchert
  • Thanks Joachim!

    Chris, good question. In HQ, there is a serious question as to what keywords are, precisely. Are they simply packages of abilities that a player gets to start play? Are they broad abilities? Do they provide abilities at their rating? By what criteria?

    What we do is to say that a template (the term we're using nowadays) is very specifically a set of abilities that some set of people in the setting could be said to have... even if that set of people might currently be limited to one.

    That sounds contradictory, on the surface, but consider: let's say that I have a "Trademark" (a special template that is player defined, as opposed to being categorized as, say, an occupation) that represents my character having a unique ray-gun. Nobody else in the words has the powers of that template. Until, of course, they pick up the ray-gun.

    For another example, say you have a character who has learned a very specific assassin's way, and learned it from the world's only living practitioner - who then dies. Leaving the character the sole owner of this template. Well, it's still a template, because, if taught to somebody else, it's still the same set of abilities.

    As soon as the player says, that an ability he wants to add was learned as a side-effect of the template... now that has to go into the character's "Other abilities" (we've been considering that a special template of it's own for a while now, since that's mechanically sound).

    Got to run now. But later I'll explain how abilities get into templates - both at chargen, and later.

  • Best or luck with this one Mike :)

    You and the rest of the Otherworlds team deserve bucket loads of success :D
  • Mike, Mark, and Scott -

    Any update on the status of Other Worlds? Is progress still being made on it? Do you have a tentative idea of when it might be released? Any previews of the rules you can share? Thanks.
  • edited January 2008
    Hi Flynn,

    Thanks for the interest. The current status of things is that I've been a little sidelined taking care of some health issues of late, but Mark has plugged on tirelessly. I've now gotten back on track with him, and I can say that we're getting close to releasing the playtest version. Really close. Many people have indicated interest in doing playtests, and we've made a list of them to whom we'll be sending copies. But if there are others who are interested, please do let us know. Here or by whatever venue you like.


    P.S. Thanks, Newt, for the vote of confidence!
  • Hi, How is the work going?
    I'm very interessed in this project.

  • Frankly it's stalled. And this is my fault entirely. Due to changes in my life to which I have not sufficiently adjusted yet.

    That's not an excuse, it's an analysis. I should be working harder to get it back on track.

    To be clear, Mark is doing a yeoman's job, and the game really is probably playtestable right now. We just need to assemble that playtest edition and get it out. I'll try to do my part to get it back on track.

    Sorry for the delay, and thanks very much for your interest.

  • Hi Mike, is nice to have a status update... Even one like this one. (BTW I much prefer this onest answer to a fake one!)

    And for the interess in OW, I just think that starting from the HQ engine ad with your forgite (is a word?) ideas (thet I subscribe wholehertly) the result *MUST* be awesome!!! and can't wait Other Worlds

  • Thanks. The support helps immensely. :-)

  • Mike,

    I support you. You are da man!

    Go finish this... now.

    You're still here?


  • Also excited about this. Just sayin.
  • Weekend is coming up. I should have some free time. I'm going to get back on track. That's a promise.

  • Add my happy stick to the support bonfire. I'd love to see Otherworlds.
  • Count me in. I'd love to see it finally published.
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesWeekend is coming up. I should have some free time. I'm going to get back on track. That's a promise.

    You have two young children. What is this "free time" you speak of?

  • It wasn't much, Andrew, true. But, actually due more to Mark's prompting, things are moving again.

    Playtest drafts coming very soon.

  • Excited!!!
  • Great to hear Mike! Thanks for the update.
  • Terrific!

    I'm about to run Exalted with HQ...debating now whether to hold off and use Other Worlds.

    (and, yes, Alvin -- I'd be using ur very fine HQ-Exalted write-up)
  • Mike,

    How the fuck did you not tell me about this?

    Needless to say, I will be watching you with fucking laser eyes.
  • BTW, where can one buy HeroQuest?
  • edited March 2008
    It's OoP, so I guess the answer is "no where" or "various places" depending on if you want a new or used copy, or get lucky.

    Noble Knight games I've found to be a good place to find hard to find games, and they have a couple of used copies. Here's the cheaper one (near mint).

    But unless you are also a big fan of Glorantha, or don't want to wait an unknown number of months, I would wait until the Revised setting-less HeroQuest book comes out.
    Posted By: DenysI'm about to run Exalted with HQ...debating now whether to hold off and use Other Worlds.

    (and, yes, Alvin -- I'd be using ur very fine HQ-Exalted write-up)
    Sweet! Maybe I should clean it up and spread the love some more. But I'm also really tempted to just wait until OW and Revised HQ both come out to see if I want to stick with HQ.
  • Note that the PDF you can get from the link below gives you plenty of insight into how HQ works, sans most of the Glorantha.


    Yeah, it's missing a lot of the advice and context, of course, but you might be able to piece it together from what's in there.

    Brand... I uh.... um...
  • How do we know OW and revised HQ wouldn't be essentially the same book? Heh.
  • edited March 2008
    Because Mark and I are not Robin Laws. Other than that, at this point, you don't really.

    But you will soon...

  • Just a question that struck me now for the fabulous developers...

    There will be "update rule" or an "update path" for HQ game/campaign?

    For example I'm running a HQ game setting in Dark Sun with custom made keywords and 4 keywords for character instead of the normal 3 (I've added the race KW).

    In Other Worlds book there will be rules/sugestion for Other Worlding this campaign?

  • Mike, given that I already have HQ, and I'm fairly confident I can make it do anything I want it to do (with advice, some of which you have written), is there anything in either OW or the revised HQ that's worth my money?
  • Adding to Angelo's question... how much will be compatible Other Worlds with the existing HQ/HW material?

    For example, if I wanted to play in Glorantha, using the published material, it will be a matter of simply "translating" the stats from a system to another, or it will be a more difficult task?
  • Angelo, Moreno: There won't be any kind of update path or conversion summary, no. Other Worlds and HeroQuest are entirely separate games. Still, it's fair to say that it won't be too difficult to translate characters from one system to the other, because they are both based on similar principles (i.e. characters as long lists of descriptors).

    Droog: If you've already drifted HQ in a narrativist direction then you will find the Other Worlds system gives you a lot more mechanical support for that playstyle. You will also find a huge stack of advice and suggestions about how to make it more fun and about how to adapt the system to different genres (including several quick-start genre conversion packages).

    Neither myself or Mike can speak for the revised HeroQuest because we have nothing to do with it whatsoever.

    Mark Humphreys
  • Let me put it this way... I've played with HQ for years now, and I love it. But I'm switching to OW for my own play. Because the way we've designed it, I can play it without any modifications. I do modify HQ somewhat when I play, because some of the rules simply militate against the style of play that I prefer.

    If you read my second post above, you may get some idea as to how we've done this. But to give another example, a subtle change that we've made (and one that will surprise nobody), is that we've done away with "bonuses" for equipment that are not situationally based. So there's no more incentive to "game" the game by getting the biggest sword, and heaviest armor, etc. There's still incentive, but it's more organically in-game, in that the bonuses are local to the contest at hand. Or penalties. So if you're swimming in heavy armor, the modifier is going to be appropriate for the contest at hand. Just as it will be when your armor outclasses another combatants. So your character will want such stuff if he would want it.. is he going to be a swimmer, or a warrior? Or even, we use this sort of sword, because it's what our culture can produce, and we think that it's best. It's only when you say that the scimitar is objectively better mechanically than the longsword that players have their knights weild scimitars...

    I'm hoping that the combination of rules that Mark and I have come up with will appeal to players like he and I who have minor gripes about how HQ runs as written. Some of it is simply clarification. In HQ, if you cast a spell to leap over a tree, does the tree resist with "Tall?" Or does the player get to use the default 16? The HQ text simply doesn't give you a direct answer, or even a principle from which to judge. We give clear rules, or clear indications on what method of judgment is indicated for a particular decision. So that the whole thing meshes together well. Hopefully, the way we've written it, the question "How do a melee combatant, and a ranged weapon user interact?" will have an obvious answer.

    Will Other Worlds do anything that I can't currently do with HQ? Nope, not really. Will it do some things better and more easily? Yes, definitely. It's a better tool for the same job. If Mark and I have done what I hope we've done.

    Playtesting will tell. :-)

  • Everytime I read the Heroquest book I feel like the game is somehow lying to me about how it works. So I am really excited about Other Worlds, as Mike's essays have really helped me get through some head-scratching moments with Heroquest.
Sign In or Register to comment.