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 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 now sail him across the Sea of Claws.
Wandering monster - goblin

Quest 2 - The Sea of Claws
The Barbarian's Tale...
"You are a Barbarian of Valringia, counted amongst the mightiest of warriors. In former days, when but a boy, you stood in defence of the Hall with the other thanes, even when those older than you took fright and hid amongst their mothers skirts. As a youth you went with spear and sword up into the fells, there to deal harshly with a night-gaunt that had preyed upon your fathers herd; it ate no more cattle after that. By the time you had spent your first summer as a grown man, you had travelled south across the sea to seek adventure and glory. The death of many fierce foes is accounted  to your name!
Yet now your homeland calls to you. Many strange tales have reached your ears recently, ill news concerning events in Norsca. The orcs have been very agitated, making war against themselves, the Valringia, and the other Barbarian tribes. Stories abound of the awakening of the dead, of demons and bizarre monsters. The elders of your tribe have sent word that the Fimbul-winter draws near, an eternal frost that will cover all the world.
You must return to Norsca and confront the evils plaguing your people. Fight your way north across the Enchanted Hills until you reach the coast. From there you may hope to gain passage by ship across the Sea of Claws..."
Notes - This is a solo Quest for the Barbarian Hero. He has the same stats as a starting Barbarian, and is armed with a Broadsword and a Spear. This quest begins in the Enchanted Hills, a remote region in the north of the Empire bordering the Sea of Claws..
A - An Elf knight stands here. Use the Elf Hero model - move 8, attack 2, Defend 3, Body 4, Mind 3. He accuses the Barbarian of trespass and demands tribute. If the player does not give up one item (either a piece of equipment, a potion, or all of the gold he has collected so far, the Elf knight will attack him. However, as soon as the knight inflicts one or more Body points of damage he will declare that "honour is served" and step back. The knight remains here, allowing the barbarian to pass through. If the barbarian wishes to continue the duel, and slays the elf, he may take his shield.
B - Use the outdoor tile from Against the Ogre Horde here. The chest contains the orcs belongings; mostly old junk, but deep down in the bottom are two potions of healing that will each restore up to 4 lost Body Points.
C - This is a Goblin market. The Goblin here is a merchant who will not attack, but instead offer his wares for sale. The Barbarian may buy any of the following items, which he should mark on his Character Sheet; Rope 25gc, Lantern 30gold, Warm Furs 20gc, Sprig of Garlic 10gc, Holy Water 50gc, Healing Salve 50gc (will restore 2BP), Genie in a bottle 60gc (the same as a Genie spell scroll).
If the Hero attacks the goblin or attempts to steal anything, the entire market and the merchant will disappear into thin air.
D - The falling block trap is actually a large rotten tree that collapses into the square marked with an arrow when the trap is triggered. It does no damage, but it startles a flock of angry ravens ; each turn that the barbarian remains in the corridor he will be attacked by the birds, which collectively roll one combat die. The birds are too numerous to kill.
E - Use the coastline tile here. Tell the barbarian that he has reached the coast of the Sea of Claws. The only ship to be seen has an ominous look about it, with black sails and a figurehead in the form of a cackling crows head. Hooded sailors beckon to the barbarian from its deck. As there is no way of knowing when the next ship might pass by, the barbarian has no choice but to call out across the water and ask for passage. Silent rowers hunched over like gravediggers row out in a small boat and take the barbarian over to their ship. Place the hero on the square marked F.
F - Use the Ye Old Inn corner tile here, placing a trap-door tile over the fire. This is the deck of the ghost ship Heldrasir. The two zombies are part of the crew, cursed to sail the sea forever. They attack the barbarian, hoping to force his reanimated corpse to labour in the ship's hull for all eternity. The barbarian must fight them off and then find a way out of this predicament.
G - This trap door leads down into the ships hull (the 5x3 room to the right). If the Barbarian searches for treasure down in the hull he will find the magic artefact Harpoon of the Heldrasir.
H - This is the ships undead overlord, Captain Athscar - Move 4, Attack 3, Defend 4, Body 3, Mind 0. Athscar is classed as undead, and if holy water is used against him it will cause 2 lost Body Points. Garlic has no effect. Any remaining Zombies on the ship will hang back and watch this fight without intervening, as they hate their Captain more than anything else, as he has kept them as slaved for centuries, doomed to know no rest. If Athscar is destroyed, all slain crew are reanimated. They will not attack the Barbarian as he has saved them from their curse. In gratitude they will perform one last duty, sailing the Barbarian across the Sea of Claws, before they go to their final rest.
The Quest is now completed.
Wandering monster - Goblin

The next quest is a variation of the Running the Gauntlet quest originally published in The Screaming Spectre. I have changed the layout so that anybody who has played the original cannot rely on previous knowledge. I also changed the puzzle in the starting room, and altered the story a little to make it fit in with the overall theme.

Quest 3 - Running the Gauntlet
The Wizard's Tale (continued)...
"You have been shipwrecked while crossing the Sea of Claws. Battered and half-drowned, you find yourself seized and brought to a gilded palace of great marble domes and towers. There you were nursed back to health, but despite the luxury of your surroundings you began to feel uneasy. Rather than being an honoured guest, it was as though you were being fattened for the kill.
Today your hosts came to you. They are tall men in long silk robes. From their lead-coloured skin and yellow eyes you suspect them to be Cabiri, a sorcerously powerful race descended from a union between men and sea-nymphs in ancient times. The Cabiri lords escort you to a stairway winding down into a labyrinth beneath their city. By telepathy they speak to you: 'below lies a great treasure, the Wand of Galimatias, a mighty wizard of ages past. Find it and return here. Then you will have proved yourself as a wizard and you will be free to leave our shores.
You attempt to explain that you are on an urgent mission to save the world, informing them Kyrax and the dire threat the demon presents. The Cabiri do not seem in the least bit concerned and simply point down at the stairway. It seems you must do what they ask. You are grateful that your Familiar, Faustus, has also survived the shipwreck and now squeaks encouragement at you from  his perch within the sleeve of your robe".

Notes - This is a solo Quest for the Wizard Hero. He has the same stats as a starting Wizard and may select any 3 of the elemental spell decks for this quest. He is armed with a dagger and also has his familiar Faustus (see introduction). To complete the quest the Wizard must find the Wand of Galimatias and return with it to the stairway, ideally with the Elf also in tow (see note F).

A - The Wizard Hero starts here in a room with 4 doors. Chiselled into the stone above each door is an inscription in the language of the Cabiri. The language is unknown to the Wizard, but shares a passing similarity with some of the tongues he has studied at Matholem's School of Magic. The Wizard may roll two red dice for each door in this room; if the result is the same as or lower than his Mind Point score, he can successfully translate the inscription. North door = "ALLY", East door = "AVOID", South door = "ARTEFACT", West door = "AIM".
The Wizard should only be give one attempt to translate each door. However, if he gets the Wand of Galimatias and increases his Mind Points, he can have one more attempt at each door.
B - Two goblins sit at dinner, stirring a bowl in which floats steaming human hearts. The item they are using to stir this gruesome feast is a fine-wrought artefact covered in runes. If the Hero searches for treasure here, he finds a Wand of Recall.
C - These two fimir are squatting on the ground playing knuckle-bones, and it will take them one turn to react to the Hero's appearance (getting up, grabbing their axes, etc), during which time he could either prepare for battle or turn and flee. If the Fimir are defeated, the Hero can take the 25 gold coins they were gambling with.
D - Use the bridge chasm tile from Against the Ogre Horde here. The gargoyle on the bridge will posture and growl, but will not actually attack the Hero until he steps on to the bridge himself or casts a spell on the gargoyle.
E - Tell the adventurer that the door here is unusually low and narrow - a human being could get through it, but a large monster such as a gargoyle or chaos warrior could not.
F - This is a torture-chamber where an orc is stretching an Elf on a rack (remember that the gargoyle, if in pursuit, cannot get through the door). Once the orc is slain, the Wizard will learn that the Elf on the rack is none other than the Elf Hero from quest 1. As the Wizard frees the Elf, the Elf explains how he was also shipwrecked on the island - the Cabiri deliberately wreck ships using their elemental magic, with the aim of using the survivors for their own ends. The Elf refused the Cabiri's demands and was therefore sent down here to be a plaything for the monsters in their dungeons.
The Elf seems to know all about the threat of Kyrax and joins the Wizard immediately. He suggests that the Wizard should keep the Wand of Galimatias as it will help them with their greater quest.
The Elf has full Body Points, but he has none of his spells or equipment for this quest as it was taken by the Cabiri and is held in their palace tower.
G - Here, amid the clutter on the bench, lies the Wand of Galimatias. See the new artefact card for the effects of this powerful item. The Hero may also take 75 gold coins from the dead chaos warrior.

Once the Wand of Galimatias is discovered, the Wizard should return to the stairway. The quest is now over, unless the Hero wishes to explore through one of the other doors (the Cabiri will be confronted in a later quest).

Wandering monster - Skeleton

 Next up we have the first quest for the Dwarf. I had a lot of fun with this one.

Quest 4 - The Treasure of Chungor Chan
The Dwarf's Tale...
"You are a Dwarf miner, searching for your fortune. After a hard day's work in a quarry outside of Runeport, you sit in a foetid tavern enjoying a well-earned tankard of ale. You can't help but overhear a conversation from the next table.
'So that's the map, eh?'
'Yeah. E' didn't want to part wiv it. 'Ad to take a few of 'is fingers as well.'
'I wondered what that red smudge was.'
You look up, intrigued by this snippet of obviously villainous conversation. You see two sly-looking men with 3 ears, seven scars and an eye-patch between them. They are bent over a torn scrap of parchment.
'What's this then?' says the first rogue, the one with the eyepatch, pointing to a blob on the map.
The other peers at it, then rubs it away. 'That's me supper that I 'ad on the way over. This is the Tomb, see? The sort of pyramid with the settin' sun drawn on it. In this desert of ice.'
'Blimey!' gasps the one-eyed fellow. 'It's 'alfway to the edge of the world!'
'Well,' continues his friend, 'you'd 'ave to go as far as that an' back again to find a treasure as great as the hoard of Chungor Chan.'
You've heard enough and decide to muscle in. They look up, greeting you in unison with a cry of, 'Beat it, you Dwarven scum.' You could probably teach them a lesson in manners but don't want to start a fight with the town guards outside, so instead you hold your tankard over the map and start to tilt it. 'You shouldn't leave that where beer might get spilled on it,' you say casually, 'could ruin an old map like that.'
Mouths agape in horror, they stare at the tankard and then at you. 'B-be careful!' cries the fellow with the eye missing. 'What do you want?' says the other.
'Another drink would do for starters', you reply, tipping the tankard.
'There wasn't anything in it!' says the one-eyed fellow with a gasp of outrage, 'You scurvy mongrel!'
'Now, now,' you say, tucking the map into your belt pouch. 'That's no way to talk to your new partner is it?'."

Notes - This is a solo Quest for the Dwarf Hero. He has the same stats as a beginner Dwarf. He starts the game with a pick-axe (two combat dice in attack) & 60 gold coins that he earned from previous jobs. Tell the Dwarf that he must buy supplies for his treasure hunt and then leave Runeport via the City gate with the new "friends" he met in the tavern, the thieves Grinch & Grivois. The party also has the treasure map to the tomb of Chungor Chan (the player may look at the map included with this quest pack).

A - Use Ye Olde Inn corner tile here. The dwarf starts here, along with Grinch & Grivois (use men-at-arms or other suitable figures for these thieves). The thieves shadow the Dwarf player's movement for now.
B - This Runeport city guard eyes the trio suspiciously, but lets them pass. All guards in this quest have these stats - move 7, attack 2, Defend 2, Body 1, Mind 2 and defend on black shields.
C - This is the Runeport market. Grinch & Grivois insist that the Dwarf pay for supplies needed for the journey north. You suspect that they have money of their own, but you won't get it out of them. Items for sale are; Rope 25gc, Lantern 30gold, Warm Furs 20gc, Wooden Stake 10gc, Holy Water 50gc, Healing Salve 50gc (will restore 2BP).
D - This is the City gate. You are keen to be on your way but Grinch & Grivois strike up a conversation with the guards. Unseen by you, Grinch steals a pouch from one of the guards and plants it in your belt. Grivois then points at you and shouts 'Thief! Thief!' Before you know it, you are seized by the guards and arrested. Grinch & Grivois leave through the gate with sly grins. What's more, they took back the map during the exchange! Move the Dwarf to room E.
E - The Dwarf is imprisoned here. All his belongings have been taken and he has been informed that he is to be executed in the morning! The Dwarf can use the spoon from his last supper to try and work the mortar loose in his cell wall. Roll one combat die for each of the Dwarf's Mind Points. If the Dwarf rolls 2 or more white shields, he can escape into the corridor in the direction shown by the arrow. If the attempt is failed, morning comes and two guards arrive in his cell. The Dwarf must fight them unarmed and then leave the cell via the door. Either way, the Dwarf must now escape Runeport by finding another route back to the City gates. From now on all guards encountered are enemies.
F - The prisoner in room G (an old man), calls out for you to release him. If the Dwarf opens his door, refer to note G.
G - If released, the old man thanks the Dwarf and tells him that his equipment is stored in room J, and to avoid all the other rooms in the prison block. He tells the Dwarf to carry on without him as he will only slow him down.
H - These 3 guards are eating and will take a moment to realise the Dwarf is an escaped prisoner. They lose one turn before they can draw their weapons and move/attack.
I - This is the prison cook - move 5, attack 2, Defend 2, Body 2, Mind 2. There is a potion of Strength bubbling on the stove, and if the Dwarf has not yet found his equipment he may make use of the cook's cleaver (2 attack dice).
J - All of the Dwarf's equipment is in this chest, including any items he bought in the market. However, any gold he had is long gone.
K - There is a potion of healing in the desk (4BP).
L - This guard is the Sergeant-at-arms - move 7, attack 3, Defend 3, Body 2, Mind 3. If the Sergeant is defeated, the Dwarf may take a Hand-Axe and Shield from the weapon rack.
The quest is completed if the Dwarf can get back to the City gate and get past the 3 guards. The Dwarf will now set out to catch up with Grinch & Grivois to take back the treasure map (and revenge).

Wandering monster - Guard

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.