Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Case for Casting Checks

Heroquest is almost a perfect game: It offers aspects of a boardgame as well as aspects of a role playing game. It is simple and easy to learn, easy to play. Of course, it is this simplicity that offtimes
results in some issue in game play. Some of us on the Ye Olde Inn forum feel that the simplicity is the key to the game, and add only bare bones to the rules, attempting to simply fix what we feel is broken. Others at the inn feel that, while the simplicity is wonderful, it left a lot to be desired; we seek to turn the game into something it is not, more of a role playing game and less of a simple boardgame. 

I am one of these latter types. And it is in this mindset that I typically seek to add rules and add rules, trying to make Heroquest into something it was probably not meant to be. That said, there is one rule that I have added that I honestly feel should be added to the game, and there is sound reasoning behind this thought. 

Anyone who has played Heroquest knows that the Wizard gets very little in the sense of weapon and armor ability. In fact, the only items a wizard is allowed to use is a Staff, a dagger, and, later, a cloak and bracers. Meanwhile, the Barbarian, the Dwarf, and the Elf get their pick of choice weapons and choice armors, allowing them to wade into battle as they please. The players who control those characters would, generally, have the most fun. There is one special ability that the Wizard possesses that offer his player some interesting times: the ability to cast magical spells. This ability to cast spells is the cause of his inability to wear armor. 

There is a problem with this, however, and I find it to be a major flaw in the game. The Elf is able to cast magical spells, as well,yet does not suffer the same penalty as the Wizard. One could argue that, in most fantasy settings, the Elf is well-known for his natural talent in magic, and so would be able to cast spells better than a human Wizard. This is a very weak argument, in my opinion, especially when looking at the Heroquest setting, in which the Wizard comes from a mysterious group that is highly regarded for their uncomparable ability to use magic. The remedy to this flaw is the introduction of a Casting Check when using armor. While the Wizard would still not be able to use armor, as he would have never been trained in their use, the Elf now has to face a dilemma - either wear no armor and be able to cast spells as he pleases, or wear the armor and take a chance of the armor interfering with the complex movements needed to cast a spell, and therefore risk the chance of a spell failing, resulting in the loss of that spell (or even possibly the backfiring of that spell).  

The use of such a rule would have to be agreed upon by all players within a gaming group; many players get into Heroquest for the simplicity of the game, and should know exactly what they're getting into if rules are going to be changed before they begin to play. I think this is a rule that should be considered, though, and I would strongly urge any Game Master to bring up the topic at the next gaming session. 


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