Adventure Board Games

Adventure board games are a subset of Board Games where each player controls a personified character token whose abilities improve as the game progresses (through leveling, items, or both). "Personified" here means that the characters usually have unique names, distinct appearances, and specialized abilities—just like in a Tabletop RPG, although pen-and-paper RPGs are easily distinct by their free-form gameplay that does not require a board. Cooperative ABGs also often feature Asymmetric Multiplayer, Variable Player Goals, and varying session goals ("quests").

Adventure board games' origins are tightly intertwined with tabletop RPGs, as their Ur-Example, Dungeon! (1975), had been a competing design to the original Dungeons & Dragons (1974). In The '80s, the genre split into three distinct subgenres all of which are represented on the market to this today:

  • Competitive ABGs, codified by the original Dungeon! and Talisman
  • Investigative ABGs, codified by Arkham Horror
  • Cooperative ABGs, codified by HeroQuest

Because most adventure board games are deeply rooted in a fantasy or a horror theme, they are often classified as Ameritrash Games, although after the Turn of the Millennium, Euro Game mechanics started seeping into the genre, particularly through Fantasy Flight Games' productions. Another trend is adapting popular video games, particularly CRPGs, to tabletop format.

Adventure Video Games are something entirely different. The closest video game equivalents to this genre are actually Hero Shooters and MOBAs.

Notable adventure board games include:

  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Fantasy Adventure Board Game (2002), based on 3E
  • Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System, based on 4E:
    • Castle Ravenloft (2010), based on the Ravenloft product line
    • The Legend of Drizzt (2011), based on the eponymous book series
    • Wrath of Ashardalon (2011)
    • Temple of Elemental Evil (2015), based on the eponymous module
    • Tomb of Annihilation (2017), based on the eponymous adventure for 5E, itself based on the infamous Tomb of Horrors module