Tuesday, 24 September 2019

The Tyrant's Tomb - a Solo Quest Pack

The Tyrant's Tomb is a solo quest pack that I'm working on, based on the Heroquest novels by Dave Morris. It has new Heroes, and won't run alongside the main campaign I'm running on this blog.

Centuries ago the Demon Kyrax was bound by wizardry under the mountains of the frozen north. Now his acolytes are on the brink of freeing Kyrax, releasing his evil power into the world again. Four lone adventurers, a Barbarian, a Wizard, and Elf and a Dwarf are drawn inexorably across the Sea of Claws to the land of Norsca. All four of them have a different reason for making their difficult journey, but each will have a role to play in thwarting the acolytes plans of bringing an end to the world.

In The Tyrant's Tomb one player will take the role of the Evil Wizard player as normal, and another player will take the role of one or more of the Heroes. In one quest this player might control the Wizard, in another quest the Barbarian, or the Elf, or Dwarf, whilst in other quests he might play with a combination of these four Heroes.
This Quest pack is heavily based on the three Heroquest novels by Dave Morris; The Fellowship of Four, The Screaming Spectre and The Tyrant's Tomb. Each book contained a central story as well as a play-your own adventure story of the type that were fairly popular in the 90's. The last two books also contained traditional Heroquest solo quests for the Wizard and the Barbarian. This pack is an attempt to combine much of this material into one large Heroquest adventure. Please note that some of the events in the books have been mixed up somewhat in order to create a coherent story.

Starting Heroes
The solo player should keep a character sheet for all four Heroes. If a quest is failed, the Hero should play that quest again. During the later quests, in which a party of Heroes may be present, if a Hero dies the party should continue on to the next quest, with a fresh Hero made available to replace the dead character.
In the Fellowship of Four, the book that deals with the Heroes attempt to prevent Kyrax's return, the characters are the Wizard Fortunato, the Elf Eildonas, the Barbarian Asgrim and the Dwarf Anvil. But this is your adventure and the players are free to choose any names they wish.
Wizard - Same stats as a starting Wizard. He can choose any 3 of the elemental spell decks. He starts with a Dagger. The Wizard also has a Familiar, a magical accomplish named Faustus (See artefact card and special rules below).
Elf - Same stats as a starting Elf, apart from his attack dice. The Elf starts with a Dagger, giving him just one combat die in attack against adjacent enemies, and a bow, which give him three combat dice with ranged attacks. The Elf may also take any 3 of the Elf spells (from the Mage of the Mirror expansion).
Barbarian - Same stats as a starting Barbarian. He starts with a Broadsword and a Spear.
Dwarf - Same stats as a starting Dwarf. He starts with a Toolkit and Pick-axe (The Pick-axe rolls 2 dice in attack, and may also have some Quest specific benefits.

Special requirements
As well as a copy of the Game System you will also need;
- Iron door,Trapdoor & Magical darkness tile from KK
- Pit of Darkness traps, Ogre Throne, Stone Doorway, Outdoor tile & Bridge/Chasm tile from ATOH
- Mirror door, Elf Princess token, Quicksand tile & Carpet tile from MOTM
- Ice River, Ice Chasm, Ice Gremlin, Outdoor Snow & Frozen Horror Chamber tiles from FH
- Blizzard tile from Revenge of the Weather Man
- Ye Olde Inn Corner tile http://english.yeoldeinn.com/tiles-big-bene.php
- Step Stone Room tile http://english.yeoldeinn.com/tiles-capper.php
- Coast tile (currently under construction)

There are also a large number of new Monsters in these Quests. These are the suggested models to use for each.
Cacogast the Troll (Ogre)
Elf Knight (Elf Hero)
Ghost Sailors (Zombies)
Ghost Captain (Chaos Sorcerer)
The thieves Grinch & Grivois (Mercenaries)
Town Guards (Mercenaries)
Cooks (Mercenaries)
The Cabiri (Chaos Sorcerer plus 3x human Sorcerers from WOM)
Magister Caenwulf (Storm Master from WOM)
Orc Witch (Orc Shaman from WOM)
Giant Wolves (Giant Wolves from MOTM)
Draugr (Zombie)
Ice Gremlins (Ice Gremlins from FH)
Stone Guardians (Chaos Warriors)
Hantu (Use the magical darkness tile from KK)
Barrow Dwellers (Zombies)
Spriggan (Goblin)
Ghost Knights (Chaos Warriors)Banshees (Skeletons)
Banshees (Skeletons)
Undead Brides (Mummies)
Perdita the Milkmaid (Elf Princess token from MOTM)
Grim Dugald (Necromancer from WOM)
Attercop, Cockodrilles, Sea Monster, Giant Bats and Black Serpent (Models not required as do not have to physically represent on game-board)

Outdoor Quests
Half of the Quests in this pack take place on the surface, away from a traditional dungeon setting. This might be a forest, a swamp, a city or an icy mountain pass. A few of the Quests even take place on a boat out on open water. Unless otherwise stated in the Quest notes, these places follow the exact same rules as a normal Heroquest dungeon. A Room might be a forest glade or open field, whilst a corridor might be a sunken lane or an animal trail. A closed door might represent thick foliage over the opening to the next clearing, whilst fallen block tile might represent a fallen tree or thick bramble. In any case the rules are the same. If you have any special game boards representing these different environments feel free to use them.

Equipment & Markets
Heroes may NOT purchase new equipment between Quests. The Tyrant's Tomb forms part of a linked storyline, and equipment and other items are only gained via the Quests themselves. In another departure from the usual rules, special 'Markets' will appear at certain points during the Quests. The Heroes will have an opportunity to buy only the items listed for sale at that Market place at that time, so they should save their gold for those moments.

Faustus is a small Pippestrelle bat that follows the Wizard Hero as his Familiar. ONCE per Quest, the Wizard may use Faustus to scout ahead. Faustus is small enough to squeeze through gaps in closed doorways.The Wizard can understand the bats "speech" when he reports back to his master. The Evil Wizard player must tell the Wizard player what is in the next room or around the next corridor corner. A simple description of the room layout including Monsters, furniture and special tiles will suffice; there is no need to divulge any secret rules or traps for the room. If the Wizard is killed, Faustus is also lost and should not be made available to a fresh Wizard Hero.

The Wizard's Tale (replaces 'A Message from Mentor' as the usual story introduction for this Quest Pack)
"A great evil is stirring in the world..."
You have just returned to Matholem's School of Magic, on your island home of Truillon in the Sea of Claws. The hour is late due to the fact that you became hopelessly embroiled in a card game in a tavern along the way. You are a young Wizard, an adept of the great Archmage Matholem and thought to be one of his most able, yet wayward, students. Given your abilities, it has come as a bit of a shock to find that the Archmage has already departed on an urgent mission without you, along with all the other students.
At a loss to explain what could be so important that they would have left without waiting for one such as yourself, you mix a potion from Matholem's own collection of magical ingredients and summon a sentient spirit from the fiery elemental plane, by the name of Mordaciter.

        "Mordaciter", you say to the being, "by my art I have brought you from the Calid regions to submit to my interrogation".
         Mordaciter demurred for the sake of his dignity. "I shall endeavour to enlighten you", he conceded after a moment.
         "Archmage Matholem has departed with all the other adepts. Can you tell me why?"
         Certainly. Matholem seeks to prevent the awakening of the demon Kyrax".
         "The Archmage seems to consider this venture to be of considerable importance", you venture, "He departed without waiting for -".
         Mordaciter makes an impatience gesture, his weightless limbs drifting slowly as though stirred by currents of hot air. "Naturally. Should Matholem fail, the consequences would be severe. It would entail the end of the mortal world, for one thing".
         You cock your eyebrows at this, "Is this an example of your infernal wit, Mordaciter? I take your remark to be hyperbolic".
         "Not at all, I speak the literal truth; your world will be overrun by stark Chaos if Kyrax is restored to life. Kyrax was an entity of insensate malice who took the form of a giant white wolf or dragon. When, his power having waxed full, he sought to bring an eternal winter down upon the world, he was opposed by a mighty cabal of wizards who fought the Demon in the far north of your world. Eventually the surviving wizards cast down Kyrax, who fell into a frozen lake atop Mount Anger. They then erected an adamantine chamber around the cadavers heart".
         "If the Demon was slain, what was the purpose of this chamber?"
         "It was to contain Kyrax's essence and prevent his resurrection. However, at this very moment Kyrax's worshippers are travelling north to Mount Anger, led by the mad orc witch Ghashlug. They plan to release the Demon from his bonds. Your master races north to Norsca, to waylay them".
         "I must join him immediately. How can I do so?"
         "Why not wait until Kyrax is free and the eternal winter is unleashed on the world?" Suggested Mordaciter. "Then the seas will free over and it will be possible to walk across the Sea of Claws to Norsca".
         "That will be too late!" You object. "I demand that you recommend a more expeditious plan".
         "There are a variety of methods", said Mordaciter after seeming to ponder. "As an example chosen at random, you could tender me your soul, in exchange for which I would garnt you the power of flight, along with riches, comfort and - "
         "You snide demon", you cry. "I see that I shall get nothing more of value from you. Begone; return to your own world".
         Clearly you will have to rely on a more prosaic means of catching up with Archmage Matholem. You depart at once for Truillon docks in order to set sail on the first ship leaving for the Norsca. You can only hope that the notorious Sea of Claws is merciful and allows you to make the crossing with haste...

Quest 1 - Beyond the World's Edge
The Elf's Tale...
"After a day of fruitless treasure hunting in the great Laurelorn Forest, you find a place to camp under the stars. You drift off into a fitful sleep filled with strange eldritch dreams, concerning the end of the world. As the power of the prophetic dream waxes full you see a colossal white dragon, hard-scaled and full of hatred for all living things. Heroes of ancient times laid him low, penning him under slabs of ice. But he did not die - seven hundred years he lay there, whilst he plotted his vengeance. Now his awakening draws close. When he arises he will breathe forth the fimbul-frost across the land, biting the flesh and withering the bows, until no life stirs anywhere under the sky. And yet, you see a band of Heroes heading north to confront this vile demon. The dream-visions fade as you awake in the forest, but you remain full of foreboding. You are an elf, so you know that such dreams are not idle fancies. You now that you must take your weapons and travel north to confront this thing. Why else would you have been sent this disturbing dream? There is a human fishing village not far from here. If you can reach it you may be able to gain passage across the sea to the frozen northlands, there to meet your destiny beyond the world's edge."

Notes - This is a solo Quest for the Elf Hero. See the intro for the starting spells and equipment for this Hero.
A - This secret door cannot be found from the corridor. It can only be found from room B.
B - Place 3 Pit of Darkness trap tiles in this room. Tell the player that they are entrances to "attercob tunnels", but say nothing more. If the Elf searches the bottom tunnel he will find the skeleton of a long dead adventurer and a Helmet (give the Elf the corresponding Equipment card). If the middle tunnel is explored the Elf finds a coil of sticky webbing that he may take with him (note the word 'Rope' on his Character Sheet). If the Elf enters the top tunnel he will immediately be attacked by a Giant Spider - Move 10, Attack 2, Defend 2, Body 2, Mind 1. If the Elf slays the spider he will find 100 gold and a secret door in the tunnel, opening to corridor A.
C - Use the quicksand tile here. The Goblins are armed with bows and the blocked squares represent trees; any figure using ranged weapons against an enemy hiding directly behind a tree rolls one less combat die than normal. The sand represents a muddy river which is infested with Cockodrilles. It can only be crossed once the Goblins are dead, using a small boat clad in human skin that the Goblins have tied to the riverbank.
D - This door represents a magical toll gate set yet up by Cacogast the Troll, an old enemy of yours. There are only three ways to pass through, i) pay the toll of 100 gold by placing the coins in a box in the door, ii) use the spell Twist Wood to magically open the door, or iii) force the door open with brute strength.
E - This is abode of Cacogast the Troll. If the Elf paid the toll to open door D, or magically opened it with Twist Wood, do not place Cacogast or the door to room F on the game-board. However, if the Elf had to resort to brute force, place Cacogast and the door to room F as shown on the map; the Elf will have to fight the Troll - Move 8, Attack 4, Defend 4, Body 3, Mind 2. Cacogast is also immune to all spells.
F - Say what you want about Cacogast, but he did keep a well stocked larder. If the Elf searches for treasure here he will find some healing berries on the table, which will restore up to 4 BP.
G - Tell the Elf that he has reached the fishing village and has found a Market place. He may buy any of the following items, which he should mark on his Character Sheet; Rope 25gc, Lantern 30gold, Warm Furs 20gc, Wooden Stake 10gc, Holy Water 50gc, Healing Salve 50gold (will restore 2BP).
H - Use Ye Olde Inn corner tile here. This is the Inn of the fishing village. The poor villagers say that they will take you across the Sea of Claws if you can rid them of a sea monster that swims off the coast and prevents them from fishing. If the Elf agrees tell him that he search the storeroom (room I)for objects that might help his quest, before opening the door in the top corridor.
I - It is mostly old junk in here, aside from a strange looking sword. The villagers seem to have no idea of the true worth of this weapon, and you see no reason to tell them. Give the Elf the magic artefact Woe.
J - Use the Coast tile here. Night has now fallen and the Elf must row out to meet the Sea Monster. Place the Elf next to the tentacled creature in the water - Move N/A, Attack 1, Defend 3, Body 5, Mind 2. The Elf  may make the first attack and may use his bow if he wishes. The Sea Monster grows more tentacles for each wound that its suffers; every Body Point that it loses is added to its total number of Attack Dice.
If the Elf wins this battle the Quest is over. The villagers will no sail him across the Sea of Claws.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Quest 7 - Melar's Maze

"Long ago, a powerful sorcerer by the name of Melar created a Talisman which would enhance the wearer's understanding of magic. He kept the Talisman with him at all times, fearing it might be stolen and used by the allies of Morcar. It is said that he left the Talisman in his laboratory at the heart of his Maze. Melar's Maze is guarded by many traps and magical guardians. It is also rumoured to be haunted by those who have sought the Talisman and perished in the attempt."

Melar's Maze is my favourite quest from the original game, which probably makes it my favourite all-time quest full stop (at least until such time that I find a better one in the expansions or fan stuff that I haven't had a chance to play yet). It just has so many cool features in it. However, since we have all played this quest before (many, many times in my case) and know it too well, we decided to play another one of Zenithfleet's variants  ( http://forum.yeoldeinn.com/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=1463&p=15924#p15924 ). I was very excited about this, not least because I got to play as Rend the Barbarian again, exploring a brand new layout of my favourite HQ adventure.

Grimgold the dwarf has acquired a shiny new Shield since the last quest. On the first turn he explores the north passage, whilst Merkai spends the turn filling every pocket and sleeve of his wizards cloak with the contents of a treasure horde! Not a bad card for him to draw in the first room...

Meanwhile my Barbarian strikes out south along the corridor and promptly triggers a falling block trap. The cascade of stone and earth does no damage, as it falls in the square behind the Barbarian but, perhaps worse, I am now blocked off from the other Heroes. The other players find this quite amusing, seeing as its "my" game and "I should know better". This is part of the joy of playing the variant quests, even old hands like myself can get caught out.

Rend finds 'Melar's Key' on the throne. He reaches out to grab it but is surprised to see the key sparkle and disappear, and the throne move forwards to reveal a hidden door.

We now essentially have two separate quests going on, with the other three Heroes taking the northern route through the Maze.

Bretal the Elf just about manages to push open a long-forgotten secret door with his weedy Elf arms, and is confronted by this shambling horror at the other end of the corridor.

Rend enters another room, giving me a chance to showcase the newly painted alchemists desk, but for the moment I'm more concerned about having to face this Mummy with no help. I miss my first attack, and the Mummy claws at me with its filthy corpse hands, causing 1 point of damage.

Grimgold disarms the trap in the north corridor, allowing Bretal to get at the Zombie. However, he also fluffs his attack and then takes a scraping flesh-wound. This is the thing about new Heroes, they can really struggle to kill anything.

The Barbarian screams a battle cry and rolls a mighty two skulls in attack. The hulking mummy barely flinches from these hits from my broadsword, the thick bandages absorbing most of the impact as it rolls two black shields in defence.
This isn't going like I planned at all. I ponder tactics for a moment and decide that discretion is the better part of valour. If I can move far enough away from the undead creature, it won't be able to reach me. I promptly get snake-eyes on my movement roll, completely scuppering my plan and sending the other players into raucous laughter. The mighty barbarian running away from a fight and tripping on his own show-laces.

Bretal the Elf is being quite brave this quest. Having finally skewered the first Zombie, he's scouted further ahead and ran into another, defeating that one easily. This allows the dwarf to catch up and disarm two more spear traps.

By this time the brutal fight with the Mummy is over. I think it lasted for four turns in total, the Mummy sent back to the grave but not without Rend losing 3 body points.
Finally I am free to search the desk, and suitably for this piece of furniture I find a potion of speed amongst the clutter. I think it was around this time that someone made a sly joke about me using the potion to have better luck running away from Monsters next time. Why can't they see the difference between a tactical retreat and running away? Jeez.

The other Heroes have made good progress moving towards the heart of the Maze, but Grimgold was now confronted by the spectre of a grinning skeleton stood across from yet another trap. Thankfully he managed to defeat both hazards without coming to any harm.

Finally I get a bit of luck, finding not only some loot in a small room but also a secret door that just might allow me to link up with the rest of the party again.

And sure enough the Barbarian and the Dwarf are free to shout greetings over yet another trap. Thank goodness for the Dwarf on this quest, as Grimgold was able to disarm everything without too much trouble.

Although in the very next room Grimgold suffered a hit from a arrow trap cunningly hidden within the treasure card deck...

Bretal and Merkai peel off and decide to open the door into the centre room. Sunlight spears into the dark room diagonally from a crumbling shaft in the ceiling, illuminating a giant stone statue in the form of a Gargoyle.

The room from above, showing the detail on the books atop the bookcases. Although it took some time to complete, the painted furniture and the little additions have really added to the atmosphere of our games and was well worth the effort.

Bretal casts Rock Skin on himself, convinced that the Gargoyle is some sort of trap. However, the Golem remains statue still for now...

By now it has become obvious that each of the players only want Melar's magic Talisman for themselves. I don't blame them as it is the first Magic Artefact/Quest Treasure that this group have had an opportunity to find, but knowing well the effect of the Talisman I really want it to be mine (my Barbarian has a pathetic 2 mind points, and is very susceptible to psychic attacks and the like).
Merkai greedily rifles through the books in the centre room, hoping to uncover the Talisman, but gets more than he bargained for as another arrow flies out of the wall and impales his arm. That'll teach him.

Rend and Grimgold are exploring the south of the dungeon, with the Barbarian making short work of a skeletal adversary.

We are now all convinced that the Talisman is in the south. I push on, using the potion of Speed to put some distance between me and the Dwarf, whilst the other two Heroes abandon the central area to try and catch up (the Gargoyle still hasn't moved an inch).

More undead fiends await us in the next room...

Bretal, who has proven quite the swordsman this quest (swashbuckling Imperial Outlaw that he is), destroys the skeleton whilst Merkai incinerates the Zombie from afar with Fire of Wrath.

My Barbarian hopes to join the fray (and be the first one in the room to be able to search for treasure!), but is thwarted by a pit trap. As there is another door into the same room, I decide to wait til my next turn to get in there. In the meantime the other Heroes bring down the last Mummy, allowing the Dwarf to search the fireplace...

...and of course he finds the Talisman of Lore lying in the ashes. This artefact will be very useful as it increases his mind points from a measly 3 up to very respectable 5. The Dwarf player gloats at his eternal rival the Elf, knowing that he is now smarter than his pointy-eared friend. I keep very quiet with my 2 mind point Barbarian, but I'm inwardly seething that I didn't get to it first...

Final pic showing the whole explored area of the board. What a poor showing from my Barbarian. Aside from a Gem I got no loot whatsoever, and even that was more than cancelled out by Rend's loss of honour in the fight with the Mummy.
Jokes aside, I'm actually really enjoying the competitive nature of this Hero group.

Final thoughts on this variant Quest; it started very effectively with the Barbarian getting separated and then suffering at the hands of the Mummy, but after that it didn't ever really feel like we were in real danger. The Dwarf had no trouble disarming the bucket-load of traps, and it was a real shame that the Gargoyle never got to attack. The one door in the centre room that we didn't open was the one that would have triggered the guardian. So it fell a tiny bit short of the majesty of the official quest, but was nevertheless a lot of fun.

Monday, 19 August 2019

The Dark Company - revised

I've been intrigued by this quest for a while now. Its a gigantic 13 stage quest spread over 4 standard Heroquest boards. The Hero party can cross between the four boards using special doorways, with the board being reset each time, but there is no recovery of health or spells at all! To make it worse, Morcar has the use of some fearsome new henchmen called Dark Warriors. All in all its a bit of a beast. Maybe too much of a beast. Players have complained that its too confusing with all multiple exits off the boards. As with many the HQ expansions, its a great concept that doesn't quite meet the potential (usually down to a lack of play testing).

So I decided to redesign the Dark Company. One way to do it is to actually have four boards, with 4 sets of furniture, so that the map doesn't have to reset each time. However, that only works if you actually have 4 Heroquest sets (not to mention a table big enough to fit it all on). I'm not so lucky and at todays EBay prices for the game...no, that's not gonna happen.

Another way to do it (my eureka moment!) is to reshape the layout so that all of the early stages are represented on just one game board, before the Heroes find a single exit that leads to the next game board (which has the next stages), and so on. In other words, making it more like a traditional quest pack, but keeping the concept of no recovery of health & spells.

A quick drawing of how the 13 stages link together in the official quest showed that it was indeed doable. Each of the dots is coloured the same way as the stage in the quest book, with the size of the dot approximately representing the size of the stage (number of rooms etc). I figured I could group the stages together using the dotted lines shown below, with each grouping representing one 'dungeon level'. If the Heroes were tough enough they could battle their way all the way to dungeon level 4, and the final showdown with Hinsgrim, the boss of the Dark Company.

Below you can see Dungeon level one. It was a little bit of a squeeze, which was not surprising as it has the most stages crammed into it, but it does make a nice looking quest map. I only had to eliminate a few empty rooms, combine a couple of rooms into a single room, and change the flow a little bit, and it checked out. Crucially, it has the same number of monsters as in the official map, and uses the doors and furniture available in just one Heroquest set.
The quest notes are below. DW on the map stands for Dark Warrior. (The wandering monster for the entire quest pack is also a single Dark Warrior)
A - The Heroes begin the adventure on this stair tile. They must find another stair tile in order to progress to Dungeon level 2.
B - This secret door may be opened by the Evil Wizard player on his turn. The monsters in the room are placed on the game board and may move and attack.
C - The closed door here separates the corridor into two sections. Once opened, remove the door from the game board.
D - The treasure chest contains two hand axes.
E - This chest contains 50 gold coins.
F - Any character stepping into this room will notice how warm it is. If he finishes his turn standing in this room he must roll one die. If he rolls equal to or greater than his mind points, he falls into a wasting sleep and loses one body point. On his next and subsequent turn, he must attempt to roll equal to, or less than  his mind points on one die or remain asleep and lose another body point. If he does awake, he may take his turn in the normal way.
G - A Hero searching for treasure in this room will find a magic scroll of spells. If the Elf or Wizard find this they may choose to miss one turn and read the scroll. Once the scroll has been read, it disappears. The reader may then regain all the spells he had at the beginning of the adventure.
H - A Hero searching for treasure will find a crossbow on the weapons rack. However, there are only 6 quarrels. Each time the player fires the crossbow, mark of one quarrel on his character sheet. If he runs out of quarrels the crossbow cannot be used again until he finds some more.
I - This treasure chest contains a potion of healing which will restore up to four lost body points.
J - This is the exit to the next dungeon level (level 2).
K - This is a Shrine of Learning. Once  all the monsters in the room have been defeated, the Elf or the Wizard can attempt to build a full complement of spells through meditation. The player rolls one die on his turn. If he rolls equal to or less than his mind points tally, he can regain all the spells he had at the start of the adventure. If he rolls a greater number, he is gripped by a magical vortex and loses one body point.

Quest 2 to follow shortly...

Dungeon Level 2
A - The Heroes begin this dungeon level here at the stair tile. Remember, health and spells lost in the previous level are not recovered for this quest. The Heroes must find another stair tile to progress to Dungeon level 3.
B - The closed door here separates the corridor into two sections. When the door is opened, Mentor appears as a spectre to the players and says the following before disappearing: "Beware the ghost of Vadim Gorfell. Fight him not". Once opened, remove the door from the game board.
C - This chest contains a trap which will be found if a Hero searches for traps. If the Hero opens the chest he will lose 1 body point.
D - The treasure chest contains 100 gold coins
E - This chest is a trap. Even if a Hero searches for traps he will not find this one. If the Hero opens the chest he will lose 1 body point.
F - If a Hero searches for treasure in this room, read out the following. "You notice on the altar a magic Rune book. As you read the pages you feel raw power flowing through your body. Your strength increases and you see great spells before you. Movement! A growing shadow! The Gargoyle strikes, leaping from the pages. Place the Gargoyle next to the Hero. It attacks immediately, in the same way as a wandering monster.
G - This is the Tomb of Vadim Gorfell. The zombie which represents his restless spirit cannot be defeated in combat. If any player attacks the zombie, roll the defence dice in the normal way but then inform the player that the zombie has survived. The only way Vadim Gorfell can be destroyed is by a spell which inflicts one or more body points of damage.
H - This is the exit to the next dungeon level (level 3).

Dungeon Level 3
A - The Heroes begin the adventure on this stair tile. They must look for a gate that will take them to the final part of the quest.
B - The closed door here separates the corridor into two sections. Once opened, remove the door from the game board.
C - All the Dark Warriors in this room are armed with crossbows
D - If a Hero opens the chest, the secret door will slam shut. The room then begins to fill with a green gas. The Hero must roll a white shield on one combat die to force the door open again. The Hero can attempt one such roll each turn. If the roll is unsuccessful he loses one body point. Heroes outside the room may not attempt to open the door.
E - This chest is empty, but if a player searches for treasure in this room he will find an Elixir of Life on the desk. If he administers it to a dead character, it will bring him back to life with one body point.
F - This secret door may be opened by the Evil Wizard player on his turn. The monsters in the room beyond are placed on the game board and may immediately move and attack.
G - This chest contains 100 gold coins.
H - This is a Shrine of Strength. Once  all the monsters in the room have been defeated, Heroes can attempt to build full strength through meditation. On his next turn, the Hero rolls one die. If he rolls equal to or less than his body points tally, he can regain all body points he had at the start of the adventure. If he rolls a greater number, he is gripped by a magical vortex and loses one body point. When a Hero meditates, he may do nothing else this turn.
I - This is an exit to the final level (level 4). If the Heroes leave through this door make a note that they went through the west gate.
J - This is an exit to the final level (level 4). If the Heroes leave through this door make a note that they went through the east gate.

Dungeon Level 4
A - The Heroes start here if they exited the previous level through the west gate.
B - The Heroes start here if they exited the previous level through the east gate.
C - This treasure chest is empty.
D - This treasure chest contains one magic crossbow quarrel. When fired at a monster it automatically inflicts one body point of damage. There is also a further unlimited supply of normal crossbow quarrels in the chest.
E - This treasure chest is a trap. If a Hero opens the chest it will explode and cause the player to lose two body points.
F - This treasure chest contains 100 gold coins and a potion of healing which will restore up to four lost body points.
G - If a Hero searches for treasure in this room he will find a potion of healing which will restore up to four lost body points.
H - This treasure chest contains a trap. If the chest is opened, three darts shoot from the lid. Roll three combat dice and for each skull rolled, the Hero who opened the chest loses one body point.
I - This is Hinsgrim, the Chaos Warrior. He rolls the same number of dice as a Doomguard Warrior but has five body points.
The X marks the position of Delzarron, a Chaos Sorcerer. He rolls the same number of dice as a normal Chaos Warrior in combat but has three body points. Delzarron may also cast a spell, once per turn. This spell will summon one undead creature (zombie, skeleton or mummy) which may be placed anywhere in the room and attack and move immediately.
Once Hinsgrim and the other monsters in this room have been defeated, read the following to the players: 'There is a whirl of blue light in the corner and Mentor appears to you. "You have done well my champions. Each of you shall be rewarded with a Ring of Brilliance. Come now! I shall return you to the Emperor!" There is a blinding flash as you are thrown through a gate of teleportation. The Emperor awards each of you with a Ring of Brilliance.

And here are the Heroscribe Quest maps, courtesy of Anderas;

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 3 above is missing a doorway into the centre room. It should be in the square next to the orc standing sentry outside.
I made a quick colouring of the original hand-drawn maps, just so people can compare my redesigned dungeons with the layout of the 13 stages in the official adventure.

Level 4

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Quest 6 - Lair of the Orc Warlord

"Prince Magnus has ordered that the Orc Warlord Ulag, who was responsible for the kidnapping of Sir Ragnar, should be sought out and killed. Whoever kills Ulag will be rewarded with 100 gold coins. Any treasure found in Ulag's stronghold may also be kept".

I thought it would be fun to have the alternative Heroes from the Chronicles of Sir Ragnar take on this quest. It makes a bit of sense in terms of the storyline so far, seeing as it was Sir Ragnar and his boys that lost the original fight against Ulag and ended up eing imprisoned. Now that they are all free, they are chomping at the bit to gain revenge on the Orc Warlord.

I was excited to put on this quest night as I've been very busy recently, not only repainting my orcs and Fimirs, but also painting up better miniatures for these alternative Heroes than what I had for the previous adventure. Not only that, but I've finished painting ALL of my Heroquest furniture! Check out this little box of goodies;

Here are the five heroes descending the stairway into Ulag's lair. Sir Ragnar is leading the way, then clockwise from him we have Sneeks the scout (new model), Zaphod the wizard, Sarymoor the crossbowman and Garmin the swordsman (another new model).
I knew I would have to make some changes to this quest to balance out the fact that these Heroes have very different abilities than the traditional four. These guys are low in body points but own much more equipment than a Hero at this stage should really have. The traditional Heroes have a combined total of 25 body points plus a guaranteed 8 8 body points of healing from the elemental spell decks. Sir Ragnar's crew also have 25 combined body points, but no access to the healing spells. I figured that their available armour would more than compensate for the missing spells. I also needed to account that these guys are harder hitting than a Hero should be at this point, so I planned to add in four more orcs. As if anything else needed to be thrown into the mix, I also changed the layout of the quest a little. This was my devious plan to keep any players who may have already played this quest on their toes. I just hoped that all these changes wouldn't break the game...

Sir Ragnar led the way through the first doorway and was confronted by two goblins on sentry duty. Rather ignominiously he failed to land a hit, ended up blocking the way forward for his men, and then suffered a wound from one of the goblins. Ragnar  eventually slew the creature, allowing him to move aside and let Garmin through the doorway to impale the second sentry, The photo shows the Warhammer Fantasy Empire figure that I'm now using for the swordsman, a rather dashing figure full of character. The goblin itself has a converted shortsword and a much paler green skintone than previously shown.

With the goblins gone the band joyously begin the business of plundering the room. Sarymoor finds a potion of Heroic brew on the table, but Zaphod Swiftspell is not so lucky and gets hit by an arrow trap. On the next turn Zaphod casts Enchant Weapons, a powerful spell that adds one combat die for every Hero in the room, when attacking with their weapon of choice . This enchantment lasts until any one of the Heroes is killed, so is a very big boon.

In the next room are some orcs who are not too happy about having their fireside chat disturbed by Imperial soldiers. One of the orcs has had a head swop, and the fireplace has had its base painted/ some cobwebs added (mostly to disguise the damage to this overly-used three decade old model!). Sarymoor shoots the shouty orc dead with his now enchanted crossbow, whilst Sir Ragnar takes care of the other an enchanted broadsword.

Flushed with their easy success with the monsters so far, the group decides to split, Ragnar and Sneeks, heading towards a small room containing two more orcs. Sneeks disarmed a trap along the way with his dwarf-like abilities. The other guys head north.

Garmin finds an orc and a freshly painted pink Fimir.

A close up of Garmin the Imperial swordsman. Along with Sir Ragnar, he is the most capable hand-to-hand fighter in the group. He killed both monsters with his enchanted broadsword, suffering no loss in return. He is rewarded for his efforts with a potion of healing plundered from the cupboard.

In the small room Sir Ragnar and Sneeks are having a much tougher time fighting the orcs. The wizard runs back to help out, thrusting an enchanted dagger through the eye of one of the orcs with a sideways glance at his captain as if to say "THAT'S how you're supposed to do it".
In response Ragnar barks out a warning to watch out for the other orc; who promptly rolls 3 skulls with its attack on the wizard! This is serious stuff as Zaphod only has only 3 body points left, and no chance to heal. If he doesn't roll a shield for his defence he's a goner. Thankfully for him he manages one shield, and clings on to life with 1 body point. Ragnar then brings down the last orc.

Sarymoor has also backtracked to join with his captain, and in the next room he finds a Spear on the weapon rack. As he needs both hands to use his crossbow, the spear goes on his back, ready to be equipped in any fight in which the enemy is too close to use a ranged weapons.
With most of the party now reunited, Ragnar throws the next door open with a crash, only to find this horrible lot;

Undaunted, Ragnar charges into battle against the nearest one-eyed monstrosity. The beast seems up for the fight though, rolling two black shields and taking no damage.

Up against it in the south, Ragnar could really do with Garmin's help, but the swordsman is still way back near the room with the cupboard, having rolled snake-eyes twice in a row for his movement, followed by a pitiful 3!

The big fight rages on, with Sarymoor slaying one of the orcs with a well placed bolt and Sneeks taking care of another with his enchanted shortsword. Zaphod is forced to hide in the yellow room, as he is bleeding from multiple wounds and close to death.

After a fierce struggle the remaining monsters are brought down by Sir Ragnar and his men, but Ragnar is down to just 3 body points. And still no sign of Ulag the Orc Warlord. Sneeks has other priorities at the moment, finding a treasure chest in a secret hallway...

Sir Ragnar searches the room for treasure but triggers a Wandering Monster (giving me the chance to use the newly converted orc again). This is the second time in the quest that an orc has a chance to actually kill a Hero, but Ragnar defends against all but one of the hits against him.

Sneeks pockets 40 gold from one of the newly painted treasure chests. I was finally driven to properly paint all my Heroquest furniture by some very cool threads over at Ye Olde Inn ( http://forum.yeoldeinn.com/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=4504&start=130 ). Thanks for the inspiration and tips Krautscientist!

Sir Ragnar kills the wandering orc and is then healed back up to full health by Garmin's potion of healing. With all the party back together, the Heroes steel themselves for another fight, sensing that the Orc Warlord must be near.

They weren't wrong. The mighty Ulag stands behind a chaos warrior and two orc minions. Morcar is feeling confident at this point that he should be able to kill off at least one of the Heroes, hopefully more.
But the dangerously wounded Wizard still has a few tricks up his sleep. Rather surprisingly, Zaphod is the first into the room, lodging himself into the corner and then casting Psychedelic Flash on the whole room, thereby blinding the monsters and preventing them from moving for one turn. We hadn't played with these Heroes for so long that I, as Morcar, had quite forgotten about this damn spell.

The move isn't wholly without danger, however, as any monsters already in contact with a Hero can still attack, albeit with one less combat dice than usual, due to be blinded by Zaphod's light sorcery. The orc rolls one skull, and once again the wizard has to roll at least one shield with two defence dice to stay alive...
...and Zaphod gets his shield, much to Morcar's dismay.

With the other monsters missing their turn due to being blinded, Sir Ragnar leads the attack on Ulag himself, somehow finding a chink in the Warlords heavy armour and causing one hit.

In another surprising move I didn't expect, Sarymoor had ditched his crossbow for the spear, and gulped down his heroic brew, allowing him to kill one of the orcs in hand-to-hand combat. At this point it was becoming a bit of a joke that we couldn't remember Sarymoor ever failing an attack roll, not only with his crossbow but now the spear as well. With this Hero developing a reputation as the most deadly in the group, Morcar makes a special note to try and kill this guy whenever the chance arises...

Sneeks confronts the chaos warrior but does no damage. Zaphod Swiftspell casts Vanish on himself, telling the other Heroes that his work has been done and that he's now going to sit out the rest of the fight.

Ulag launches a vicious attack on Sir Ragnar, but the knight manages to roll a whopping three white shields and defends against all hits. The chaos warrior completely botches his attack on the veteran Imperial Scout.

Victory for the Empire! Ragnar brings down the hulking Ulag with his next attack, and on the very same turn Garmin does for the last orc and Sneeks destroys the chaos warrior. Revenge has been taken for the defeat and imprisonment suffered at the hands of the Orc Warlord.

As if to reward his victory versus the chaos warrior, Sneeks finds his second chest of the day, gaining another 100 gold after first disarming a spring-loaded spear trap.

The final act is small matter of the 100 gold coin reward. Technically it belongs to Sir Ragnar as he was the one who killed the Orc Warlord, but being the responsible leader and all-round nice guy that he is, he decides to share it out equally - 20 gold for each of the 5 Heroes.

A fun quest! The changes worked pretty well I think. On the one hand Garmin, Sarymoor and Sneeks completed the quest with barely a scratch but the other two Heroes come close to getting killed. With hindsight I should have added some more orcs to the final boss room. I also have a few reservations about Zaphod's four Sorcery spells. These spells work really well to make Zaphod a good supporting character, but the Enchant Weapons spell is pretty powerful; the wizard has now worked out that he'll just cast this spell on the stairway from now on, right at the start of the quest, making all the Heroes very strong in attack throughout the entire quest. To counterbalance that, most of the Heroes have only 5 body points (only Ragnar with six has more), so if I add some more monsters to the quest I'll still have a chance to defeat them. I think I'll try one more quest with the current arrangement, before making any changes to the spells used.