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Heroquest logo.png
HeroQuest logo
Designer(s)Stephen Baker
Publisher(s)Milton Bradley
Games Workshop
Years active1989 - 1997[1]
Players2 to 5
Playing timeca. 90 minutes
Random chanceDice rolling

HeroQuest, sometimes written as Hero Quest, is an adventure board game created by Milton Bradley in conjunction with the British company Games Workshop. The game was loosely based around archetypes of fantasy role-playing games: the game itself was actually a game system, allowing the gamemaster (called "Morcar" and "Zargon" in the United Kingdom and North America respectively) to create dungeons of their own design using the provided game board, tiles, furnishings and figures. The game manual describes Morcar/Zargon as a former apprentice of Mentor, and the parchment text is read aloud from Mentor's perspective.[2]

Several expansions were released, each adding new tiles, traps, artifacts, and monsters to the core system.


Release timeline
1989Hero Quest
Kellar's Keep
Return of the Witch Lord
1990Against the Ogre Horde
1991Wizards of Morcar
The Dark Company
1992The Mage of the Mirror (US-made)
The Frozen Horror (US-made)
1994Legacy of Sorasil (video game)

Games Workshop worked with Milton Bradley to produce HeroQuest (1989), an adventure game where the players cooperated against a single adversarial Games Master.[3] HeroQuest was created by Stephen Baker, who worked for the UK division of Milton Bradley (MB). The game was released in Britain, Europe and Australia around 1989. It was released in America and Canada in 1990 in a slightly different version.

The game consisted of a board and a number of individual miniatures and items. The protagonists were 4 heroes ("Barbarian", "Dwarf", "Elf" and "Wizard") who faced a selection of monsters: Orcs, Goblins, Fimir, Chaos Warriors, a Chaos Warlock/witch Lord (which represented many of the named characters for the various quests), a Gargoyle and a number of Undead: skeletons, zombies and mummies.

Many expansions for the game were published, starting with Kellar's Keep, released in Europe and Australasia in 1989, and The United States and Canada in 1991. Kellar's Keep added new quests, new items and artifacts and a further batch of monster figures (more Orcs, Goblins and Fimir). Released shortly in the same years was Return of the Witch Lord which extended the undead with more skeletons, mummies and zombies.

The publication of expansion sets was then split between the Europe & Australasian markets and the North American market. In Europe and Australasia, Against the Ogre Horde was released in 1990, and included Ogres, a more powerful monster type, while Wizards of Morcar was released in 1991, themed around the addition of enemy wizards.

In 1992, the United States and Canada saw the release of two sets of their own: The Frozen Horror, with a snow and ice theme, featured a lone "Female Barbarian", Mercenaries, Ice Gremlins, Polar Warbears and a pair of yeti as well as the "Frozen horror" of the title, while The Mage of the Mirror had an Elven theme: Female Elf against an evil Elven Archmage, Elf warriors and archers, Giant Wolves and Ogres.

A HeroQuest Adventure Design Kit was released in Europe in 1990, containing items to help HeroQuest players design their own quests, and an Adventure Design Booklet was published with 4 sheets of adhesive labels and with an 80-page pad of a new design, larger character sheet. There was also a blank quest map printed in the middle of the original game's quest booklet for creative players to make their own adventures.

HeroQuest Advanced Quest Edition (also known by the German version name "HeroQuest Master Edition") was released later with 12 added miniatures ("black guards") with 4 kinds of detachable weapons and a new 13 part adventure "The Dark Company" in addition to the original contents of the basic HeroQuest Box.[4]

3 HeroQuest novels were published: The Fellowship of the Four, The Screaming Spectre and The Tyrant's Tomb; and the HeroQuest computer game adaptation was released in 1991, forcing Sierra On-Line to rename their Hero's Quest series to Quest for Glory. A version of the game for the NES was developed to a prototype stage, simply named "HeroQuest", but never released. A sequel to the PC titled HeroQuest II: Legacy of Sorasil was released in 1994.

Advanced HeroQuest was a revised and expanded version of the HeroQuest game. The basic concept is the same: four heroes venture into a dungeon to fight monsters and gain treasure, but the rules are more detailed and complex.


The heroes are agents of the Wizard known only as Mentor, Zargon's former master and keeper of a book called Loretome, which contains all the world's knowledge. The four player characters offer a choice of gameplay. The Barbarian and Dwarf allow a more combat-oriented game, while the Wizard and Elf can cast spells. The artwork and miniatures of each character are standardised, but the equipment stats vary somewhat from this basic portrait.

The barbarian figurine is depicted as being tall and muscular, brandishing a broadsword. He is the strongest character in combat, benefiting from excellent attack and health, but lacks any magical abilities and is weak against magical attacks. His starting weapon is a broadsword.
The dwarf figurine is short, stocky and well armored, carrying a battle axe. He is very good in health, but lacks the attack strength of the barbarian and has no magical abilities. The dwarf also has the unique ability of being able to disarm traps without special equipment. His starting weapon is a short sword.
The elf figurine is tall and slender, armed with a short one-handed sword. He is equal in attack strength to the dwarf, but is less physically robust. He is also able to use one element's spell (air, earth, fire, or water magic) and can resist magical attack more effectively. His starting weapon is a short sword.
The wizard figurine wears a full-length cloak and carries a staff. In combat, he is the weakest in attack and health and is forbidden from using most weapons and armor, but compensates for this by being able to use three elements' spells, for a total of nine spells. His high mind points allow him to be more resistant to the effects of magic. His starting weapon is a dagger.


The game is played on a grid representing the interior of a dungeon or castle, with walls segmenting the grid into rooms and corridors. One player assumes the role of the evil wizard character (Zargon/Morcar), and uses a map taken from the game's quest book to determine how the quest is to be played. The map details the placement of monsters, artifacts, and doors, as well as the overall quest the other players are embarking upon. Quests vary and include scenarios such as escaping a dungeon, killing a particular character, or obtaining an artifact. The evil wizard first places the entry point on the map, usually a spiral staircase, although on some quests the players enter via an external door or begin in a specific room. The map may also specify a wandering monster. This is a monster that may enter the game if a player is unlucky while searching for treasure.

The remaining players select their character from the four available. If the wizard is chosen while the Elf is not then the wizard player may choose any three spell sets. If the Elf is chosen while the wizard is not then the Elf may choose any spell set. If both the wizard and Elf are chosen then the wizard chooses a spell set first, then the Elf chooses a set and the wizard gets the remaining two sets. The players may also start the quest with items collected on previous quests, such as extra weapons, armor, and magic items.

The game begins with the gamemaster reading the quest story from the perspective of Mentor, to set the scene for the game about to be played.[2] Starting with the player to the left of the evil wizard, the game begins.

During a Hero's turn, the player can move before or after performing one of the following actions: attack, cast a spell, search for traps and secret doors, search for treasure.


Players roll two six-sided dice, referred to as "Red Dice" in the game manual, and may then move up to that number of squares. A player does not need to move the full amount of the roll and can end movement at any time. Players may move over a square occupied by another player if the occupying player grants permission, but may not occupy the same square. Doors, monsters and other objects are placed on the board by the evil wizard player according to line of sight. Once placed on the board they are not removed unless killed, thereby providing a steady stream of monsters for the evil wizard player to use.


Combat involves special six-sided dice, referred to as "White Combat Dice" in the manual, each bearing 3 "skull" sides, 2 "Hero" shield sides and 1 "monster/Zargon" shield side. The character players and the evil wizard player use the same dice, but the evil wizard player has a smaller chance of rolling their specific shield. The number of dice used is determined by the basic statistics of the player or monster, whether they are attacking or defending, plus any modifiers due to spells or items being carried.

The attacker attempts to roll as many skulls as possible, and the defender as many shields as possible. If the attacker rolls more skulls than the defender rolls shields, the defender loses body points according to how many skulls they failed to defend. If a character's body point count falls to zero, they are killed and must be removed from the game. If there is a fellow hero in the same room or hall when the hero died, that hero may then pick up all weapons, armor, gold and any artifacts. At the start of the next quest a new hero can be created and then given all items. If the hero dies with no other hero in the same room or hall then the monster collects all items and all are then lost forever.

Spell casting[edit]

The Wizard and the Elf are the only two player characters allowed to use spells, and must choose their spells from four sets of element-themed (Air, Fire, Water, Earth) spell cards, each consisting of three spells. A further set of 12 "Chaos Spells" is available to Zargon, but the use of those spells is restricted to special monsters. Spells can be broadly split into offensive, defensive and passive varieties, and their use and effect varies greatly. Some spells must be played immediately before attacking or defending, and all require the target to be "visible" to the character using the game's line-of-sight rules. Each spell may only be cast once per quest in the base game.

Searching for traps and secret doors[edit]

There are four kinds of traps in HeroQuest: pit traps, spear traps, chest traps, and occasionally falling rocks. Of these, only spear traps and chest traps do not appear on the board as they are activated only once and then they have no lingering effects. If a pit trap is not discovered and a player walks over it, they fall in and lose one body point. The pit will remain in play as a square that may be jumped over. A falling rock trap will cause a rock slide tile to remain in play as a square that must now be navigated around, much like a wall. A quest may also contain secret doors which allow alternative routes to the objective or access to secret rooms containing treasure or monsters.

A player can only search for traps and secret doors in the room or corridor they are currently standing, and only if there are no monsters within the room or corridor. When this happens, the evil wizard character indicates where any traps may be and places secret door objects on the map. Trap tiles are only placed onto the board once a hero trips the trap. It is important for players to remember where traps are once they have been revealed.

The dwarf is the only character that can disarm traps without the aid of the specialized kit which is either bought in the armory or found during certain quests.

Searching for treasure[edit]

In a similar manner, players can search a room for treasure if no monsters are in the room. On some quests, searching for treasure in certain rooms will yield a particularly valuable artifact. More likely, however, the quest will not have specified any treasure for the current location and instead a treasure card is taken. Out of the 25 Treasure Cards, 6 are Wandering Monster cards and 4 are Hazard Cards, making a total of 10 "bad" cards that get put back in the deck when discovered. There is also a chance that searching for treasure may trigger chest traps that were not disarmed, or cause monsters to attack, usually a Gargoyle already in the room that does not move at first and cannot be harmed until it does move or attacks a Hero.

Game end[edit]

The game ends when every player has either returned to the spiral staircase, exited by a door or been killed by the evil wizard. If the objective of the quest has not been accomplished then the evil wizard character wins. Items collected during the quest may be kept for future quests. The quests usually form part of a longer story, especially the quests which are part of the expansion packs.


  • HeroQuest "Kellar's Keep"
  • HeroQuest "Return of the Witch Lord"
  • HeroQuest "Adventure Design Kit" (Europe)
  • HeroQuest "Against the Ogre Horde" (Europe)
  • HeroQuest "Wizards of Morcar" (Europe)
  • HeroQuest "The Frozen Horror" / "Barbarian Quest Pack" (US)
  • HeroQuest "The Mage of the Mirror" / "Elf Quest Pack" (US) (Note: The name of this expansion was changed to "Quest Pack for the Elf" in a settlement after Warp Graphics, owner of the ElfQuest trademark, brought suit against Milton Bradley for infringement.)


In 1992, HeroQuest won the Origins Award for "Best Graphic Presentation of a Boardgame of 1991".[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://boardgamegeek.com/rpgissue/184942/fractal-spectrum-issue-17-winter-1997 Hall of Foes, the final supplement in Fractal Spectrum #17
  2. ^ a b Quest Book (included manual). North America: Milton Bradley (published 1990). 1989. pp. 1, 3, 32. I told him of the dangers, and that he should be patient, for in time he would become a great Sorcerer. But Zargon could not wait; each night he broke into my study and read my spell books. The secrets that were held within them were great indeed. Once he learned these secrets, Zargon fled.
  3. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  4. ^ "HeroQuest Advanced Quest | Board Game | BoardGameGeek". boardgamegeek.com. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  5. ^ "Origins Award Winners (1991)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-11-03.

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