Friday, November 18, 2022

About Wyvern Songs

 Wyvern Songs is a collection of four adventures for Old-School Essentials, authored by Brad Kerr. If you like your OSE game with just a pinch of weird and whimsy, and you are looking for GREAT adventures, Wyvern Songs is a must-buy.

Brad is the author of the widely acclaimed, best-selling OSE adventures Hideous Daylight and Temple of 1000 Swords (I've reviewed it here), and of Demon Driven to the Maw (written for Cairn RPG).

In short, Brad had dropped an outstanding series of adventures, so as soon as this new book was available, I ordered the hardcover version, which is a nice full color,  A5 book (hardcover A5 is, in my opinion, the best print-on-demand format from DriveThru, and the one I've chosen for my OSE-licensed Axian Library book too).

What's inside

The book features four adventures: The Sinister Secret of Peacock Point, Fabien's Atelier, The Singing Stones, and The Dreaming Caldera, plus an impressive appendix of bonus material.

Each adventure has a different color used for text headings and as the background of the maps, making browsing the volume very easy.

All the adventures are location-based, with multiple hooks, and no preset outcome. All offer non-linear problems and things to play with, and ideas on how to further develop the place or the events that the players may trigger. The text is short and sweet, with clever use of bolded text and bullet points, making preparation super easy.

The table of contents, with a summary of the adventures.
It also introduces the color-code used throughout the book. 

The Sinister Secret of Peacock Point is a dungeon crawl adventure for first level characters. The dungeon (25 rooms) is the guildhall of a gang of thieves, who've just been slaughtered by a demonic insect lord they've unwittingly released from its prison inside a locked music box.

So the place has a story, and it shows in every room. And it's got the traps the thieves had set to stop intruders, and they are reasonably telegraphed, empowering player agency; and an overarching "puzzle" that develops along with the random encounters and exploration of the place.

Fabien's Atelier is a dead wizard's flying palace. It is a puzzle-heavy dungeon for characters level 2-4 (19 rooms), and can be played as a followup to Hideous Daylight or on its own. Fabien the wizard has died, and its flying abode has a lot of things going on.

The core piece of the dungeon is a magic cabinet that makes you change size, allowing the players to explore a series of small tunnels inside the walls (among other things). Also of notes are puzzles featuring keys which are not keys, a miniaturized dragon living inside a doll house, and a mass battle between dream gremlins and undead rats. The adventure is open-ended and the players may cause a lot of trouble freeing a djinn, or crashing the flying palace on the duke's beloved garden.

The Singing Stones is a point-crawl adventure for characters level 3-5, set in a rocky valley of enchanted stones that's 6 square miles and features 20 different points of interest to explore. The valley has a lot going on. The main hook is to find the disappeared prince (who got poisoned by a wyvern, and also petrified by a medusa before the venom could kill him!), but other hooks are provided: finding a great bard's burial place and treasure; stopping the mysterious beast eating the singing stones; investigating the ghost of a young bride; visiting a commune of dwarven artists who are unwittingly creating a summoning device for an ancient vampire... and more.

This adventure is probably the best of the group. Even more open-ended, with each location point offering enough elements to investigate, explore and interact with, to fuel hours and hours of play time.

The Dreaming Caldera is another "traditional" dungeon, designed for characters level 5-6. It features 27 rooms divided in 2 levels, and includes areas specifically designed to expand the dungeon, if you want. The content is a bit of a funhouse dungeon, with a great variety of monsters. What makes it a cool scenario is the strong theme the connects everything: all the monsters inside the dungeon are busy trying to shape a body for a chaos godling that is about to be born. 

All in all: the book is just great. From overall structure, to layout, use of of colors, and text organization of each room, everything is just perfect to make it easy to run. You read it and you are ready to run the game. And the content is top notch. If you like your fantasy game with just a pinch of weird (of the imaginative -not dumb, not gonzo- kind), this book has four scenarios you want to have and will enjoy running, as players will find plenty to do, figure out, interact with, and decide on their own terms.

And I haven't even mentioned the bonus materials at the end of the book: a new class, a starting village, and even a regional hex map with the locations for the four scenarios in the book AND a score of other published adventures, both from Necrotic Gnome and from other authors, as The Black Wyrm of Brandonsford and The Seers Sanctum.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Legend of Drizzt monsters for HeroQuest

 I've just grabbed a copy of the Legend of Drizzt Dungeons & Dragons board game!
I was looking for it to expand my HeroQuest game, and I must say I'm far from disappointed with the content of the box!

I mean, I don't care about the dungeon tiles, which I find both visually dull, and practically annoying. But, oh boy, those minis!

I love that the minis are kinda color coded like in HeroQuest, with (almost) all the dark elves (drows, in d&d terms) being purple, along with their spider friends, plus a dragon because why not. Together, they make a great set and faction for homebrew adventures.

The goblins are just a little bit smaller than the ones from HW, but they include 3 archers, and they are a slightly lighter green than their relatives in the HQ box. The green team also includes 3 drakes and two huge, impressive trolls (the one on the left has its base so deformed I'll have to treat it with hot water to make it stand again).

The box also includes a bunch of heroes which can be great as alternate models, plus Drizzt's panther. As you can see, there's a archer and a few dual wielders, begging for some house rule to allow it.

Next in line there's these 6 transparent models. I don't like the water elementals, neither as models nor as creatures, so I didn't create game statistics for them. The ghosts are cool though.

Then there's the grey group. An Illithid, yay!, a witch and a grey bubbling thing (Lolth's something-something, I don't really care what these things are meant to be in d&d), plus 2 guys I've decided to use as "assassins". All in all, since they are grey, I consider them 100% part of the "Dread" team in core HeroQuest.

The true stars of the box are, of course, the big ones: the super big fiery Balor, the purple dragon, and the huge troll twins. 

The Balor is huge, so I statted it as a truly daunting enemy.

So here's the stats for HeroQuest, feel free to download and use as you prefer, as long as you keep the attribution to me.

All in all, I'm super happy with this purchase. If you are into creating your homebrew quests, the Legends of Drizzt board game is a highly recommended addition for HeroQuest.

As usual, all feedback is appreciated!


Into HeroQuest? Check out my other HeroQuest Posts!

Monday, November 7, 2022

Expanding HeroQuest: My Homebrew Rules!

As I mentioned in my previous HeroQuest post, I've come up with a bunch of new rules to tweak the game to my liking, so here they are.

I don't want to make the game deeper or more realistic, nor turn it into a complex game of strategic combat. I like it the way it is: a simple board game I can play with my 7yo, his friends, and my non gamer friends.

They can be seen here.

These rules are designed to work together.

The Dungeon Events are meant to spice up the game a bit, and encourage players to keep exploring without wasting time setting up the best position for each group member before they open a door.

The One Search Action rule is meant to speed up exploration, as it reduces the chance for dungeon events when players want to search, which is a wise decision and should not penalize them.

Mind Points is a rule I needed because I've added "mind devouring" monsters from the Dungeons & Dragons adventure game, who inflict mind points. The statistics for these monsters will be in a future post!

Push & Pull is a rule I felt I needed to avoid the well-known door combats and train battles. When I play Zargon I don't pull punches, so my monsters always pull inside the room a hero who is blocking the door, if they can! Players can do that too, so on the whole combat becomes a little more dynamic.

Heroes Never Die is a rule that I recommend when playing with kids. Failing the quest is enough of a setback already, no need to further punish brave adventurers. This rule also implies that heroes should retire at some point, when a campaign/story is over.

Dual Wield is something I haven't tested, but want to try just because I've grabbed a few elves and dwarves with two weapons so I thought why not.


For my next HeroQuest post, I'll probably share my big bad list of monster stats from all the games I've mashed into HQ!


Into HeroQuest? Check out my other HeroQuest Posts!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Expanding HeroQuest: My Homebrew!

 In my latest HeroQuest post I wrote I was eager to expand the game. Well, I lied! I've already expanded the game a lot! Thing is, I've expanded it with stuff I already had at home from my board game and ttrpg collection.

So here's the things I've added to the game.

1. Dungeons & Dragons: The Fantasy Adventure Game (2003)

The first, most obvious addition to our HeroQuest adventure has been Dungeons & Dragons: The Fantasy Adventure Game from 2003. It had been sitting it in my garage for more than 10 years: bought, read and never played. The moment we started playing the new HeroQuest I knew it was the perfect expansion. Here's what it has to offer:

5 modular, double.sided cardboard boards. These are 11 x 11 squares big, mostly with dungeon rooms, but also include two outdoor maps, and one cool "bridge on lava river" tile! The squares are slightly smaller than those on the new HeroQuest board (and probably the very same size of the original HQ's), but still perfectly usable. These boards a very handy addition to the game, offering new areas to explore.

40 minis. These are NOT amazing sculpts. The four heroes are not bad at all, but the monsters definitely lack the quality, detail, and pose of their counterparts in the new HeroQuest. If you play with the old HQ, instead, all the minis are just great, matching the scale, sculpting style, and quality of the '90s amazingly well. In my opinion, all of this really matters if you are a perfectionist AND paint (or plan to paint) everything.

4 heroes: cleric, fighter, rogue, wizard (purple plastic)

36 monsters: goblins, trolls, carrion crawlers (green plastic); gnolls, ogres, bugbears (brown); skeletons, wights, wraiths, and a lich (white plastic).

Despite being not-so-great minis, I've happily added all the pieces to my game, creating simple game stats for all the new heroes and monsters, finding great value in the extra variety. I'll post all of that in the future!

Stuff. The box also includes standing cardboard trees and columns, which I don't plan to use because all the HeroQuest scenery is tridimensional plastic, so these look really poorly on the table, and a heap of other flat cardboard markers and tokens. Of these I've immediately decided to use the red circular Hit Points tokens for lost Body Points, and flip them on the white side for lost Mind Points. There's also about a dozen special six-sided dice, item cards, flat markers for doors, chests, traps, and even slimes, which I didn't bother to look or use.

All in all: The D&D adventure board game IS a great addition to HeroQuest, in my opinion. The main problem, if you want to add it to your game, is it is out of production and out of stock almost everywhere. The best chance to find one is ebay or similar sites, or your local shops, secondhand shops, and flea markets.

Alternatives: The world of board games is full of cool big board games with lots of cool, cheap minis. Dungeons & Dragons comes to help again with the more recent series of board games: Wrath of AshardalonCastle Ravenloft and Legends of Drizzt. All of these have about 40 minis (monsters and heroes), nicely thematized. Beware: these are fairly old too, and while they are still cheap in the US, they are getting rare and expensive in Europe, so maybe you should hurry and get them while they are still out there. If you want more, the DescentDungeon Saga and Sword & Sorcery board games (and expansions) are all seriously interesting to look at for more monsters and heroes to homebrew.

More alternatives: If you're hunting for more minis, 3d printing can be excellent. Etsy is full of awesome models and sets for ttrpgs, such as this gorgeous cultist set, and this yuan ti group I'm about to order.

If you can 3d print, you surely know lots of STL files can be found in lots of places. DriveThruPRG has LOTs of cheap files, as well as dozens of freebies and pay-what-you-want to print new monsters, heroes and pieces of scenery.

2. Toys!

Did I mention I have a 7yo son? That means we have plenty of toy spiders, insects, and other assorted animals that often are the right scale to be featured in our HeroQuest games.

You can find plenty of cheap things on amazon, just be careful with the scale or, even better, support some local business and get a chance to inspect them in person.

Beside the obvious spiders, insects and scorpions, we plan to use a set of sea animals like this for a future underwater adventure: starfish, crabs, octopuses and shark will make for great enemies. And we're going to fight those stupid abominations in their own environment

3. Immersive Battle Map Book and Confrontation Tiles

I backed the Immersive Battle Map book on Kickstarter somewhere around 2018, got it, and stashed it in my library for a loooong time, and when I got the new HeroQuest I immediately grabbed it to check how good this could be. In short, it is GREAT. is a HUGE book. When closed, it's about the same size as the new HeroQuest box. and when you open it, you get a full board that's twice that big. In other words, you get a game board that is about half the size of the HeroQuest game board, and there's 32 of them!
You can find a lot of similar products on amazon, but this one I can really vouch for because of the variety of themes and environments, complementing the dungeon of the standard HeroQuest board very well: market squares, harbor docks, temples, a gladiatorial arena, several inns, houses and shops, a farm, a waterfall, a glacier, a ship on the seas, and even a sunken ship on the sea bottom for underwater adventures (we're coming for you, abominations!). Really lots of diverse environments to stir imagination when creating your homebrew quests and, in my opinion, the vivid art style compliments well the HeroQuest graphic style (or, at least, I like it a lot).

The Confrontation tiles I'm using are another relic from my late '90s/early 2000s gaming years. I believe these are near impossible to find now, but I have them and I've enjoyed the sewers sub-set, and plan to use several more.

Alternatives: The world of ttprgs offers an endless amount of tiles, floor, battle maps and battle mats that are just perfect to use with HeroQuest, adding great variety to adventures. Several books with maps: the Giant Book of Battle Mats and its Volume 2 and Volume 3, the Box of Adventure - Valley of Peril set, as well as the double-book sets Wilderness Books of BattleMats and Dungeon Books of Battle Mats are all perfect if you want more environments in the shape of sturdy, ready to use products.

If you don't mind printing your own boards and tiles, DriveThruPRG has an endless amount of items to choose from, including almost 800 free pieces! Printing your own allows for hand-picked maps, but it's definitely not MY thing as I don't have the patience to make good prints and find suitable storing solutions, but I bet there are lots of gamers out there who are better than me at this.


So that's all I am regarding the stuff I'm using. If you know of more useful resources, let me know in the comments!
For my next HeroQuest post, I'll write about my homebrew rules including random dungeon events and new monsters and heroes!


Into HeroQuest? Check out my other HeroQuest Posts!

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