Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2 Hour Heroquest

2hw-logo-304x90"2 Hour Heroquest"
A 2 Hour Dungeon Crawl Supplement by Craig Andrews
With the release of Two Hour ruleset, 2 Hour Dungeon Crawl, I wanted to see if I could use it to revisit the dungeon crawls of my youth using the quests from the classic dungeon crawling game, Heroquest.

With the release of Two Hour Wargames ruleset, 2 Hour Dungeon Crawl, I really wanted to see if I could use it to revisit the dungeon crawls of my youth. My first ever non computer dungeon exploration was done using Heroquest.
Heroquest (if there’s anyone out there who doesn’t know) was a 1989 boardgame crossover between the family games maker Milton Bradley (MB) and the distant, oft dreamt of, ‘specialist’ Games Workshop. I grew up in a tiny village in South West Wales and my only access to Games Workshop was the occasional visit to Swansea, where the numerous wares and steep prices put off a young boy, and the monthly White Dwarf was my only access to this magical world. When Heroquest came out and could be bought in the nearest large town (Haverfordwest) my prayers had been answered. I think it must have been a Christmas or Birthday present but Heroquest was obtained and aided and abetted by my good friends Matthew and Tony we went dungeon crawling. As Morcar (it was my game after all) I put my friends through the wringer with the original missions and later, Kellar’s Keep and The Ogre Stronghold. When Space Crusade came out our adventures leapt forward forty thousand millennia or so but we still kept going back to the medieval fantasy game and that colourful fantasy board with its strangely array of card and plastic stand-up furniture.
I’ve played the various computer versions over the years, the excellent fan made ones and the slightly clunky originals (the C64 one is still my favourite but that’s nostalgia for you).
In recent years I’ve found myself playing more and more wargames, when I finally sat down and got my head round the superb reaction mechanic found in all Two Hour Wargames rulesets I realised I’d found the gaming system for me. The Reaction System is a fast and intuitive set of rules that most importantly for me could be played solo or co-op as well as head-to-head without feeling like your opponent was too mechanical or slowed down with too many rules.
2 Hour Dungeon Crawl
I’ve been playing THW fantasy rules for years, firstly Bob Minadeo’s excellent Warrior Heroes: Armies & Adventure and lately Ed Teixeira’s follow up Warrior Heroes: Legends. Both handle overland and dungeon adventures really well, I’ve even used them to play through official Dungeons & Dragon modules (more on that in a future post). However when Ed announced his ‘Down & Dirty Dungeon Rules’ last year I really liked the sound of them, all the rules from the WH games boiled down into a pure dungeon crawl.
Now renamed and released, '2 Hour Dungeon Crawl' is in my hands and has been thoroughly read and enjoyed. It’s a great little adaptive system, you don’t need any specific miniatures or tiles, you could use pen and paper and explore grid based ancient halls or, as the rules also suggest, you can use any tiles or miniatures you already have. The game contains rules for generating dungeons as well as how its denizens behave as you wander around, torch firmly clasped in hand. As a throwaway line Ed at one point mentions you could generate dungeons using pen and paper and having drawn them out, to one day go back and explore dungeons you’ve already visited... This got me thinking...
I still own my original copy of Heroquest, all the miniatures too, but they have been used in a variety of games over the years and are scattered throughout myriad boxes. So for my first 2 Hour Heroquest game I decided to use Lurchbrick’s fantastic Vassal Module.
Vassal is a computer program that when fed with finely crafted modules, digitally represents a game board or wargames table. There’s loads of tutorials and things out there so I’m not going to go into that now. Bottom line - Vassal means everywhere I go with my laptop I take hundreds of games with me.
So with Vassal loaded and the Heroquest module loaded I set about seeing how 2HDC would fit...
Setup – The Heroes of Heroquest
To recreate the feeling of Heroquest I wanted to take in the four original Heroes - Barbarian, Wizard, Dwarf and Elf. Now, 2HDC comes with many race and class combinations, the ones below are my interpretation of what the Heroquest heroes would be. 2HDC has tables that allow you to randomize all of the following but you can also choose what you want, as Ed says, afterall it’s your game :)
Each Hero came with a short introductory sentence to set the mood and style of how they should play.
‘You are the Barbarian, the greatest warrior of all. But beware of magic, for your sword is no defense against it.’
He’s a human so I go to the Human race table, jot down my special attributes (Resilient and Slow Mover) and choose his profession. I think Warrior is the closest to the Barbarians raison d’etre (such as it was). The table also tells me he’s Rep 4 and the suggested armour and weapons. I note the Rep but don’t need the table for equipment, I go to the original figure. He’s wearing AC1, leather or less, and is carrying a Great Sword (2S) (not a broad sword as suggested by the original game, hey, it’s my game ;) ). A quick look at the Warrior table gives me his last attribute, Fanatic.
‘You are the Wizard. You have the power to cast many spells. In combat however, you are weak. You cannot wear armor or use large weapons. Therefore you must cast your spells wisely and avoid physical combat.’
The Heroquest wizard could easily be a Human or an Elf but as we’ve got an Elf along anyway I chose Human, so Resilient and Slow Mover again and as a Caster he’s Rep 4, wearing AC1 and its suggested he carry a sword but in the original Heroquest game he starts with a Dagger, however I decided to arm by miniature weapon type so I give him a Spear (SP) as weapons are similified in 2HDC and it’s the nearest equivalent to the Staff the mini is carrying.
‘You are the Elf, a master of both magic and the sword. You must use both well if you are to triumph.’
Such was the simplicity of Heroquest the Elven character was just an Elf. He had no class to speak of. He was a halfway house between Barbarian and Wizard though, having the ability to cast a few spells. 2HDC contains rules for multi-class characters. A look at the race table gives him the Slight and Slippery attributes and shows he’s Rep 4 so I make him a Rep 4 Palaldin and a Rep 3 Healer. I chose Paladin as the Martyr attribute made a nice counterpoint to that of the Warrior. I also gave him healing as in the original Heroquest Healing was one of the spells that any magic user could cast. As per the original game he starts equipped with a short-sword (S).
‘You are the Dwarf. You are a good warrior and have the unique ability to disarm traps without a tool kit.’
Even though originally conceived as more of an engineer I decided to make the Dwarf the thief of the group. As a Dwarf Thief he’s also Rep 4 and he gets the Slow Mover, Stout and Secret Rooms & Traps attributes.
Setup – The Dungeon
In 2HDC there are tables to roll for the reason why you’re in the dungeon as well as figuring out what the big bad actually is. In Heroquest all of this is given to you at the start. In this first after action report I’ll break down how I converted the mission to work with 2HDC.
I’ll be doing the first adventure from the American version of the Quest Book. Every Heroquest mission is introduced by Mentor who in the quest book introduction tells a tale of his old adversary, Zargon…
“The fire burns warmly, but casts little light into Mentor’s study. The flickering shadows only hint at the vast number of books and scrolls that fill the many shelves. Slowly Mentor walks over to the fire.
“Well, my friends, your training is complete. You are not yet true heroes, you have yet to prove yourselves. But first, let me tell you of Zargon…
“Many centuries ago, Zargon was my apprentice. He worked hard and learned quickly. But impatience devoured him. He wanted to learn more powerful magic. I told him of the dangers and that he should be patient, for in time he would become a great sorcerer. But Zargon could not wait; each night he broke into my study and read my spell books. The secrets that were held within them were great indeed. Once he learned these secrets, Zargon fled.
“When I caught up with him, I found him greatly changed. He had pledged his alliance to the great powers of Chaos. Fool! He saw magic only as a short-cut to power and paid no heed to the terrible price he would have to pay. I tried to reason with him, but to no avail. He laughed in my face and then unleashed a terrible spell which I was hard-pressed to counter. For many days we battled, but Zargon had allies stronger than even I, and I could not defeat him. In the end, as we both weakened, he fled and sought refuge in the Northen Chaos Wastes/ There he licked his wounds and honed his skills, conjuring ancient powers with which to overthrow the Empire.
“I must watch Zargon and measure the strength of his magic. The powers Zargon has called upon will destroy us all if I relax from this vigil. Zargon’s legions threatened us once before. Then it was Rogar who aided me and defeated them. Now they are on the march again; already they have assailed the borderlands. The Empire must again look for heroes and to this end I have trained you.
“Each of you must complete 14 Quests. If you do this, you will be acclaimed as Champions of the Realm and dubbed Imperial Knights. Only then will you be on the road to becoming true heroes. I shall speak with you again on your return – if you return…”
Quest 1: The Trial
“You have learned well, my friends. Now has come the time of your first trial. You must enter the catacombs which contain Fellmar’s Tomb. You must seek out and destroy Verag, a foul Gargoyle who hides in the catacombs. This Quest is not easy and you must work together in order to survive. This is your first step on the road to becoming true Heroes. Tread carefully my friends.”
The Big Bad
The main Big Bad in this first mission is Verag the Gargoyle, a look at the 2HDC race lists and I make him a Petty Demon who gets the Eager and Rage attributes. I want him to be pretty tough but not the ‘End of Season’ bad guy so I choose the 5-7 result for his stats making him a Rep 5 Warrior with AC2. As with the heroes I arm by miniature so he’s carrying a Sword and a Whip (2xS).
However in this first mission there is also another ‘mini’ Big Bad in the form of the Mummy that is The Guardian of Fellmarg’s Tomb. I made this a Ghoul (as there are no Mummies in 2HDC as yet).
The Reason Why
You can roll randomly to decide why your erstwhile heroes are gallivanting through ancient dungeons or alternatively, as I have done to fully mimic the original quest, you can choose. A quick look at the quest’s introduction and 2HDC’s section 35.3 The Reason Why and I can see I’m heading into the dungeon to ‘Kill the Big Bad’.
The Dungeon Tiles
I really wanted to use the original Heroquest maps instead of randomly generated dungeons and given the sandbox nature of 2HDC this was no problem at all. Everytime you enter a new room there’s a chance of generating a PEF as well as a small chance each turn when you roll for activation. Using these simple methods it doesn’t matter that I’ve already laid out the dungeon. Keeping in theme it could be that Mentor has scryed the layout before your arrival, although pre-laying a Dungeon is already found in Heroquest modern day boxed descendant, Descent with no attempt at explanation.
Rules Amendment: Secret Rooms
The full 2HDC Secret Room rules are in effect but if successful in a room where the Heroquest map shows there is a secret door you roll on the Secret Rooms table as normal, and on a result of ‘The dungeon continues on.’ You find the entrance marked on the Heroquest map. If you fail to find it then a trap is triggered and you follow the normal trap procedure.
Rules Amendment: Treasure Chests
Every chest is trapped and uses the normal 2HDC traps rules.
I have tweaked the standard 2HDC treasure rules ever so slightly to allow for the pre-placement of chests on the Heroquest maps. Simply replace the line on page 24 “counting the dungeon level that you are on” with “counting the total number of chests opened so far”. I found this works really well.
Rules Amendment: PEF Resolution
In 2HDC you roll against the dungeon level you are on to see if you have found the Big Bad however in 2 Hour Heroquest that doesn’t quite work as it’s all one level. I got around this by rolling against the number of rooms explored/cleared compared to the total number of rooms. Sounds complex, but isn’t that bad. In the first Quest, ‘The Trial’ there are 11 rooms. As that is pretty close to 12 I simply divided the number of rooms explored by 2 to get the target number (always rounding down).
For example, I have explored 1 room and need to roll on the What Are They Table. My target number is 0 so it is impossible to find the big bad. Later on I have explored 5 rooms so my target number on the What Are They Table is 2.
When determining what they are use the race of the closet creature as shown on the Heroquest map. I’m counting Fimir as Trolls.
Rules Clarification: LOS
I count each separate stretch of corridor individually for the sake of PEF resolution. i.e. when you turn a corner and see a new stretch of corridor I roll for PEF resolution as normal.
Battle Boards and Movement
2HDC features a cracking new strategic form of combat whereby when opposing characters meet they get put on a separate tactical board. I’m not using them exactly as written in 2 Hour Heroquest as I want to try and recreate the original cramped board Heroquest action. When I make a non combat move from one room to the next I place each character anywhere in the next room, it’s purely aesthetic. If combat begins I remove and replace each figure, using each room is its own battle board. All normal battle board rules apply except the size and shapes as they are determined by the board in 2 Hour Heroquest.
And So It Begins…
Well, it will in January. December is a wee bit busy for me due to a little advent calendar thing I run. January however is my month off where I play through as many of the scenarios and games from the advent calendar.
Webmaster's Notes
This article was written exclusively for use on Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on the 16th December 2014 as part of it's 2014 Advent Calendar.

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