Sunday, 4 March 2012

In a Dungeon Far Far Away

My playing group have had many adventures underground whilst playing games of Advanced Heroquest.

This game from the Nineties is very customisable and I have made many quests for my group to follow. I made a picture record of one of these games as the following clips will show.

The scene starts off with a little bit of story telling:

The party is lead down the steps into the dungeon by a pair of Dwarfs (not related), then a couple of Elfs partnered with two Human warriors and finally a Wizard bringing up the rear. My dungeon is largely scratch built out of foamboard and cardboard whereas the original game only had two dimensional floor plans. This made the atmosphere surrounding the game much more aesthetic. To avoid too much of a tunnel syndrome while playing a game I made all the corridors with only one wall showing which allowed players to see what was happening more easily and also made storage a lot better. Anywhere you see a floor edge against the black undercloth you can assume that there is a wall equivalent to that of the other side.

As the party progresses through the tunnels the Game Master (me) lays out the next corridor section along with any visible doors. Occasionally the corridor would open out into a more open space or even found to be occupied by monsters.

Whenever there are combats there are casualties, usually amongst the monsters but sometimes a Hero takes a serious hit and goes down. Healing Potions and Restoration Spells can help a lot here and the party will accumulate Treasure and 'GLOD' as they loot the bodies of the victims.

My playing party has a tradition of never using the word 'gold' in our games; we always use the expression 'GLOD' whose origin is buried in the annals of our long and distant past.

Games were played over several weeks and months and allowed the party to leave the dungeon from time to time to lick their wounds and more importantly spend their GLOD on new weapons and armour. Character improvement was also maintained as the various Heroes tried to minimise their weaknesses. Sometimes the party would lose and gain members as the picture above shows a subsequent foray into the depths.

Combats were sometimes a bit lopsided but the rest of the party were never far away. In the picture above you can see an Elf bravely engaging a number of Orcs while a Wizard offers support from the doorway. In the top left corner there is a Warrior keeping an eye on the adjacent corridor in case more monsters sneak up.

But when Push comes to Shove they all get stuck in except perhaps for the Wizard who can be a bit of a pansy in Hand to Hand combat.

One of the bonuses of exploration is that various useful items get found, in this case a map which might show the way to greater rewards. It is up to the Party to figure where they are in relation to the map.

The map and the scroll from the start of the adventure were printed on standard photocopy paper, torn about a bit to lose the straight edges, crumpled up, dipped into cold tea, flattened out and ironed by a conveniently placed spouse. This treatment adds a little bit of character to the experience.

One of the dangers of exploration is displayed above, I'm sure I heard the Stunty mutter 'Rats' as he expired. The player will no doubt re-appear at a later point with a different character.

Right enough, here comes another Party to continue the exploration. The players make a map of their travels as they go so that they don't spend too much time going over old ground. Getting disoriented in a dungeon is not a good way to earn a living.

Aha, here is a Maiden just waiting to be rescued. They'll have to deal with a few Orcs first.

 Later, after a flurry of arrows the Maiden looks away as one of the Heroes goes down. The players are armed with cards for each arrow in their quivers which have to be handed in when firing takes place.

It is a pain to make a mistake during a game like this but I forgot to play the Goblin Spinning Fanatic when the Heroes were all bunched up. As it happened the Dwarf flattened him with a single blow.

At this point the Party descends to a lower level to find a well guarded room with lots of doors to who knows where!

A Warrior cautiously open the door while the rest of the Party watch out for any ambushes. It seems that he has nothing to worry about. Note the other unopened doors. These pieces slide in and out of carefully constructed gaps in the walls. The Party will no doubt explore them later. It was wise not to open too many doors at the same time.

The Warrior seemingly is going to have his hands full if he keeps on rushing ahead alone.

Fortunately the rest of the Party realise the danger and close up.

The Warrior does indeed take a serious hit but I'm sure that a passing paramedic (Wizard) will have a magical elastoplast handy.

The Wizard is getting to be a dab hand at this Fireball lark, and not too soon either.

I think he's getting cocky now!!

It is rumoured that the Stake-Out Gang are in the area. As it happened the Party had already discovered a cache of magic arrows. These arrows turned out to be Arrows of Morr (purely randomly) which automatically kill any Undead that they hit. It is one of those little chance happenings that a dungeon designer cannot plan for. It seems that my digital camera wasn't to hand when the Party slaughtered the gang leaving no survivors.

After dispatching the undead gang the Party found a staircase upwards into daylight. A ruined temple on a grass covered green was in sight although ominously guarded by armoured warriors in red. The Chaos Warriors formed an Undying Guard who miraculously reappeared nearby whenever the Party killed one. This was going to be one fight that the Party would struggle to win.

Stern orders to fall back were heard from within the Temple. The Party advanced cautiously forward as the doorway to the Temple was left unguarded.

Inside the Temple the Party found a Wizard who said he was trapped inside the Temple by the Chaos Warriors outside. They would obey all orders except that they would not allow the Wizard to leave the Temple. He said he need to be carrying his magic Sword of Power to make the Undying Guard fully obey him but the sword had been lost somewhere in the dungeon above.

I have such a magic sword piped up one of the Heroes. 'Mine' said the Wizard as a Battle of Wills was fought out in front of the Party. The sword changed hands several times until the Party grew wise enough to slay the Wizard who bore an uncanny resemblence to a well known and feared Necromancer.

So ended that chapter of the Advanced Heroquest world.

As I said earlier the whole of this dungeon is scratch built and I would be happy to explain the construction methods if a demand exists.


  1. Excellent!! Really like the layout.

    One of our club members ran a number of games a few years back using a 3d layout using corridors and rooms made from hirst arts moulds. Looked very good but was such a pain to carry about as it weighed a ton.

    Your method looks a lot more practical

  2. Hi there

    Yes, my dungeon box is very compact and very liftable. I have enough dungeon to cover a 6 x 4 in the box which measures only 20 x 11 x 17 inches.

    I'll maybe do a photocall of the contents if viewers show enough interest.


  3. Enjoyed the photo essay on dungeon crawling (memories of the 80's). It was sad to see Stunty take a hit from a rat :-(

    1. Hi Brigadier

      When you take the role of Dungeon Master you have to be dispassionate when you are playing. There is no room for sentiment.

      However when I play as a character I am normally a Dwarf, an even more than usual fearless dwarf. In fact my normal dwarf nickname is 'Jim the Unconscious' since I have often been carried out of a dungeon slung over a comrades back heading for the nearest healer.