I’ve still been ruminating about an ongoing HeroQuest/RPG-ish campaign. In particular, some house rules that would help facilitate such a game. With no further ado:
Character Advancement – Naturally, the most important aspect of converting HeroQuest into a campaign is a system for character advancement. In the standard game, characters advance by accumulating stuff: better weapons and armor, magic items, potions, scrolls, etc. While loot whoring is retained, most players, I think, would desire a system to improve their character’s abilities as well.
Every quest a character completes (i.e. complete the objectives of the quest) grants 1 experience point. In addition, as an old school nod, players may spend 1,000 gold to buy 1 experience point for their character. Completing special objectives may grant additional XP, at the GM’s discretion.
Experience is spent to improve Body and Mind (and possibly add other abilities…we’ll see how it goes). The cost to improve an ability depends on whether the ability is primary or secondary for that class. Primary abilities cost Scorex1 XP to increase by 1; secondary abilities cost Scorex2 XP to increase by 1 (excluding ability bonuses from magic items). Barbarians, dwarves and elves use Body as their primary ability; wizards use Mind as their primary ability.
For example, barbarian base stats are Body 8, Mind 2. For a barbarian to increase Body from 8 to 9 would cost 8 XP; however, Mind is their secondary ability, so it would cost 4 XP to increase it to 3. A wizard’s starting abilities are Body 4, Mind 6, so increasing Body by 1 would cost 8 xP and increasing Mind by 1 would cost 6 XP.
Inventory Limit – Characters are limited to carrying a maximum number of items equal to their Body score. This benefits warrior types somewhat with their higher Body scores, but then they are more gear dependent, as well.
Spell Selection – Wizards select a number of spell cards equal to their Mind score. Spells may be selected from any of the elemental sets. At the GM’s discretion, wizards may also be allowed to select elf spells.
This system has the effect of reducing a wizards available spells from 9 to 6. However, this limitation is somewhat countered by allowing wizards to pick the ‘best’ spells from each elemental set. Also, wizards get to select their spells before elves, and the advancement system allows them to acquire more spells over time.
Elves select Mind/2 spells, after wizards select their spells. At the GM’s discretion, elf spells (from the Elf Quest Pack expansion) may or may not be exclusively available to elves.
Monster Toughness – Allowing both character advancement and gear accumulation means the monsters will become increasingly weak by comparison. The inventory and spell limits compensate for this somewhat at first, but will become increasingly irrelevant as characters progress.
A partial solution is to allow all monsters to negate hits with a roll of a white shield (1/3 chance), instead of a black shield (only 1/6 chance). It doubles the monster’s chance to negate a hit and standardizes defense rules between heroes and monsters.
Threat Tokens – So, what to do with those black shields then? To help bolster monsters further, any time a black shield is rolled, the GM collects a Threat token. Threat tokens are accumulated by the GM and may be saved from quest to quest. The GM spends Threat tokens on one of the following things:
- Bolster Monsters – As needed, spend Threat tokens to increase a monster’s attack dice or defense dice. Each additional dice costs 1 Threat token each, but a monster’s inherent Attack or Defense dice cannot be more than doubled. Bolstering is a one-time bonus to attack or defense dice; it is not a permanent or lingering bonus to the monster.
- Reinforcements – On the GM’s turn, spend one (or more) Threat tokens to buy reinforcements, based on the designated random monster for the quest. Reinforcements start next to an appropriate entry point, as if they’ve just suddenly walked in on the heroes (i.e. from around a corner, through an open door, jumping out of a pit, etc.). They may move and attack on the turn they come into play.
- Spellcasting – On the GM’s turn, spend one (or more) Threat tokens to buy back Chaos spells the GM has already cast during the quest.
The costs for buying reinforcements and spells is something that will have to be worked out, and is beyond the scope of this post.
New Classes – Turning HeroQuest into an RPG-ish game implies that, eventually, new classes will be added. The four existing classes divide 10 points between Body and Mind, with a minimum score of 2. For these house rules, the primary ability cannot be the lower of the two (if both scores are 5, then the primary ability may be either). Each class should also have 1 special ability to distinguish it from the other classes, and help define its role in the group.
Characters with spellcasting as a special ability select 1 spell card per point of Mind if Mind is their primary ability; they select Mind/2 spells if Mind is their secondary ability.
Thief Class – So, the first new class to come to mind is a thief or rogue based class:
- Body 6 (primary)
- Mind 4
- Starts with short sword; may not equip 2-handed melee weapons; may not wear plate armor
- Can move through enemy occupied squares without penalty, but must still end movement in an empty square
Barbarian Rage – The barbarian doesn’t really have a special ability, so I propose the following:
- On the barbarian’s turn, player may choose to spend any number of Mind points to use as attack dice. Rage continues until the barbarian no longer “sees” any monsters. Mind points spent in this manner are not recovered until the end of the quest. While in rage, the barbarian cannot be knocked unconscious, though if the barbarian’s Mind is 0 when the rage ends, the barbarian immediately falls unconscious.
One nice thing about HeroQuest is that the rules are simple enough to allow for a great deal of tinkering, allowing for just as much complexity as you can stomach. With that in mind, I’m sure I’ll have more ideas for house rules to share. Cheers.