The Alchemist's Bench: Game Master Advice

Getting Rid of Weapons in HeroQuest
Those Heroes are Just Too Strong

GM Advice

by Dewayne Agin

As you play HeroQuest, eventually you will have a Hero (or group of Heroes) that manage to survive for a long time. This Hero will accumulate a vast array of weapons, armor, and artifacts, each making him stronger. While having a choice of several weapons and magical artifacts to use while questing is usual, and finding a new magical artifact is fun and often the goal of a group of quests, the Hero can get abnormally strong this way. To see what I mean just imagine a quest that goes like this...

The Barbarian has wandered off from the rest of the Heroes. Suddenly a group of Goblins jumps him. The Barbarian says "Luckily I have my trusty GoblinBlade, giving me an extra two attack rolls against these foul imps." He pulls the sword and starts slicing Goblin heads. When they are all dead he opens a door to find a group of Skeletons waiting in the room beyond. "I sheath my GoblinBlade, and pull my mace BoneWacker, which is the death of all Skeletons". After destroying the animated bones with his artifact, a wandering Fimir pops up from behind a bookshelf. "Luckily I have my Magical Plate Mail and Shield, which will protect me while I put away my Mace and pull out my regular Magic Sword". He finishes off the Fimir and hears a strange grating sound from the corner. A large group of undead enters the room through a secret passage, led by a foul Necromancer. Realizing that the monsters are too many for him to conquer, he states "I am removing my Magical Plate Mail, and putting on my suit of Chain Mail. This will allow me to roll two movement dice and get away from the Undead Horde that is giving chase".

Well, you get the picture. The Hero has so many weapons, armor, and artifacts that he has something for every occasion. While it may be fun to play this way once and a while, it can get old very quickly. As a Game Master, what can you do? Well, here are some suggestions:

  1. Play with a 'Quest Limit'. The Heroes can only play for a certain number of quests before they retire. A similar solution is that a Hero retires after he finds a certain amount of wealth. Weapons, armor, and artifacts should be counted in this total (assign a gold amount for each artifact a Hero finds). The player must now start a new Hero. A retiring Hero takes all his possessions with him, leaving nothing for the new one.

  2. Limit the amount of equipment that a Hero can carry into a quest. It is pretty unrealistic to suppose that a Hero can wear a suit of Plate Mail and only roll one red die for movement, but carrying the same suit in his pack will allow him to have two dice for movement. You may want to limit the Heroes to only one suit of armor. Only allow them to carry a few extra weapons, depending on the Hero's strength and type of weapon. A Hero can carry more daggers than battle axes, and the Barbarian can carry more than the Wizard. The final decision would be up to you as Game Master. If the Hero found a weapon or suit of armor and was already at his limit, he would either have to give one to another Hero or drop it. Another possible alternative is to start reducing a Hero's movement once he passes his limit. He can carry that extra longsword, but it will cost him to movement squares to do so.

  3. If a Hero wishes to change weapons or armor, allow him to be vulnerable for some turns. For instance a Hero changing weapons would have to spend an attack turn doing so, or a Hero changing armor could not attack or defend during that turn. Make a Hero think twice about switching.

  4. Finally, you can always destroy the weapon/armor/artifact. The game comes with the 'Rust' spell. This can be used to destroy a Hero's extra metal weapons or armor. The Elf Pack comes with a spell, 'Twist Wood' that causes any wooden weapon to become useless. Even though the 'Rust' spell doesn't normally affect artifacts, you could use it to destroy the Artifact of a Hero who has too many (after all, you are the Game Master - tell the Heroes that it is a special Rust Spell). If you gave a Hero a spell wand with a limitless supply of uses, you could use 'Twist Wood' to get rid of it. A fire spell could burn spell scrolls. The end goal is to get allow the Heroes a few artifacts to use, but not an unending supply. This way you can continually come up with new artifacts to put in your quests and still keep the Heroes at a manageable strength level.

Finally, use everything I said above with caution. The purpose of the game is to have fun. Everything must be balanced to achieve this. If the Hero has too many artifacts and can kill any monster with out even trying, you must do something to restore the challenge to the game. On the other hand, a sadistic Game Master who destroys a new weapon or artifact every time the Hero gets one has probably gone too far. Use the ideas above with prudence and have fun.

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