This weekend I was treated to an excellent session of Hero Quest, the original and classic game as found for me and given as a birthday gift by Mrs. Hatboy. I took on the role of Dungeon Master, while Bella, Vuta and Mrs. Hatboy took on the Dwarf, Barbarian and Wizard and Elf characters respectively. Mrs. Hatboy taking the final two because she’d already been through a couple of the early quests. Walder and Toop were also in attendance, Toop becoming the official First Person Ever to vomit on the Bar Äijä’s couch-bed.
Now, I say “Dungeon Master” above, because at least for this game the British version says the DM should go by the name of “Morcar” and the US version for some inexplicable reason decided to change that to “Zargon”. I am not entirely sure why, since most of the other US changes made sense – changing “-ise” endings to “-ize”, giving the monsters more attributes and hit points to make them more challenging than the British version, and so on. How is “Zargon” a US-spelling variant of “Morcar”?
And why can’t I stop myself from reading it as “Zardoz”? LEAVING IT AS “MORCAR” WOULD HAVE SPARED EVERYONE FROM SEEING THIS.
Anyway, this was a game I (as indeed many of my fellow geeks) played in my youth, although I had never owned it. It was, in fact, a game I so enjoyed that I made my own version. Which I very much intend to play again sometime soon. So it was a blessing to be able to take this one for a spin, to refamiliarise myself with the rules.
My amazing firstborn had also gotten in on the act, by helping us to name the hero characters: as a result the Dwarf is named Metsä; the Barbarian is named Lokis, the Wizard’s name is Wizzy and the Elf’s name is Tärning. I admit a lot of these names could be made up by a three-year-old sitting at a table with the game set up on it while she looks out of the window into the forest and just names the first things she sees or hears. But still, it’s nice.
We’d completed a couple of early quests already, and I’d managed to kill Wizzy once at least. According to the rules, though, when your character dies you just drop his gear and can start again with a new version of him for the next quest, so Wizzy (or Wizzy Jr.) was still around.
That rule is OK but I think I will be making some amendments – as well as scanning and creating a few quests and dungeons of my own. Maybe I’ll document them here. For a start, I will have to begin using some of my Warhammer figures as additional monsters, and make some monster cards for them. I think I’ll finally regain my interest and enthusiasm for the figures and the painting, if I can actually use them for something enjoyable. And I’ll finally be able to make Skaven work the way they are supposed to work, instead of just being shitted-up and pointless, thank you very much Games Fucking Workshop.
Including, but not limited to, the Goddamn Doomwheel. Well, let’s see.
Anyway, it was an excellent little pair of quests, and a great test run (although we’d had game sessions in there before) of the Bar Äijä’s gaming dungeon.
Having an open bar and quadruple-strong ale right there for the taking was perhaps a little too tempting … but it adds a degree of difficulty to the games.
“LLLLLET’S GET READY TO RUMMMMMBLLLLLE!”
Being a DM is a new experience for me – proving you’re never too old to learn a new skill – and I enjoyed it a great deal. Of course, Hero Quest is pretty junior and doesn’t have much in the way of depth, but it’s got infinite potential for expansion and adaptation.
Also, infinite potential for playing it while drinking Tequila Funrises.
And I did manage to kill poor Mrs. Hatboy’s Elf character, Tärning. She took on the difficult task of running the two characters with crappy armour and fighting ability – as with most magic-users, these guys really only find their feet later on in the campaign when they begin getting stronger. I think as well as the new rules and monsters and quests, I will have to start coming up with some weapons and gear for them to use. A leaf from the Munchkin book of class-specific items may also be handy.
The Internet is going to prove very handy when it comes to figuring out how the weapons are supposed to work, how we might improve upon them and add new ones, and so on. Still all very much a work in progress. But very enjoyable so far.
Vuta was outraged to see the shoddy job the game’s previous owner had done on painting the figures. Never mind that the kid was probably 12 years old, some things just simply cannot be borne. So he took the box off my hands and will be painting the figures all over again, as well as making some other changes to their general appearance. Having seen his completed Warhammer pieces on display, I have high hopes for the awesomeness he will make of the miniatures and will post pictures of the finished products. Since I’d only ever played with unpainted copies of this game as a kid, I’m just happy with whatever I get.
Tärning faces off against Chaos Knight, Orc and Fimir in what will turn out to be his final glorious battle; Lokis the Barbarian helps out by killing the Fimir; Wizzy (Jr.) and Metsä struggle with Orcs in another room.
I’ve since learned that this game is very difficult to come by and greatly valued by collectors. My sympathies to Vuta for losing his own copy to reckless mum-flea-marketisation at some point in the past decade or so. But rest assured, I will be holding onto this one.