Monday, 14 November 2011

Questing in a Warhammer Dungeon

"In the cavern we can kill a Beastman and remove his fur to make a gown, we'll have lots of meat from Mr. Beastman and it'll help the Dwarven bread stay in the pack as it's inedible..."

Okay, I let the idea get ahead of the scanning there, but ne'er mind.

I've been thinking a lot of late about an old Games Workshop game that sits second in my war gaming-affections behind Necromunda. That game was Warhammer Quest.

Warhammer Quest, the spiritual successor to Hero Quest (readers over 30 should remember this advert = I still can't decide if that really is Sir Christopher Lee or a very good impersonation...), continued that games fine tradition of pitting a Barbarian, Dwarf, Wizard and Elf against the Orcs, Goblins, Chaos warriors, Skaven rat men and various other nasty gribblies inside a random dungeon in the Warhammer Old World.

The box set included three books (the Rule Book, Adventure Book and Role Play Book), loads of six-sided dice, Treasure, Event and Dungeon cards, full colour card room and corridor tiles and around 40 ace plastic miniatures. All for around £50, which for Games Workshop was a pretty reasonable price. Each game could potentially last anywhere from two to four hours, depending on how many players there were, what the adventure was and how well shuffled the card decks were.

The genius of the game was its use of card decks. These were used as a means of running the game without a Games Master, so everyone could get stuck in killing Orcs, and as a way to speed the game up. Everything about the dungeon was chosen from the card decks I mentioned earlier, meaning that that no two games ever played out exactly the same. Each dungeon would have a relatively unique lay out, each room would have different monsters in and those monsters would be hoarding different treasure.

The Adventure book contained five adventure sections, each with six different quests. These would act as a frame for the dungeon and event cards in order to give a bit of flavour and structure to each game, and the main quest would be chosen at random by a dice roll. This sufficed for most early games one played and many random "pick up" games later on, but the true pleasures of Warhammer Quest lay in the Role Play Book...

Ahhh, the RP book. This is where the game came into its own. It allowed you to keep your adventurer on and explore many different dungeons, gaining experience, magical weapons, armour, riches, cart horses and wagons (oh yes! all that treasure is too heavy to carry between towns!) and fame/infamy along the way! As is often said about role playing, the only limit was your imagination! I had a Dwarf character who made the mistake of buying a small estate in Sylvania and ended up losing the house, staff and lands to one of the Sylvanian Vampire Lords, and very nearly lost his life, too!
Of course, I only made that happen as I liked playing with the character and wanted to use him again after I'd retired him, but it did give us a good home-made adventure as he gathered some mates to head into the Vampires lair for revenge!

Games Workshop also released two adventure expansion packs - Lair of the Orc Lord (which added some new Orc miniatures and a new boss-character as well as the adventure) and Catacombs of Terror (which added some skeleton minis, a Wight boss and the adventure) - and several Adventurer packs - the Pit-Fighter, Elf Noble and Witch Hunter, to name but three - as well as new Treasure packs and sets of blank treasure, event and dungeon cards so gamers could slot their own ideas in easily.
The RP book also included a section devoted to the addition of a Games Master and included ideas, hints and tips about writing adventures without using the card decks and was pretty fun, too.

Now, as I said earlier, I've been thinking about the game a lot of late as I want to introduce my lovely fiancĂ© and her friends to it, but here's where I've hit a massive problem. WHQ went out of production sometime in the very early 2000s and since then it's resale value has sky-rocketed. If someone were to head to ebay to procure a copy today, I jolly well hope that they are prepared to spend between two and three hundred pounds for a complete copy of the game, closer to £400 if it has both expansion adventures and Sigmar-knows how much if it has all the extra adventurer packs, too. Some swines are even selling their box sets of piecemeal, meaning that if one were to try and buy a whole set this way, they had better sell their least-loved relative first just to be sure of having enough cash.

Some people have taken to buying the three books and the card decks from ebay and replacing all the miniatures using the current Warhammer Fantasy range, the latter isn't half bad an idea as the kits are much more fun and dynamic than they were in 97 when WHQ was released. It's what I'm going to have to attempt if I'm ever to introduce Tanja and her pals to the delights of dungeon delving, but alas, that's also rather pricey, too, Games Workshop prices being what they are these days. Will I ever manage it? I don't know, but there's always room to hope!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It might go the way of Space Hulk & get a shiny new Christmas re-issue in a few years time.

A-M is still using some of the models from the Orc expansion in her army.