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Adventure Board Games

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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 (with one player functioning as a "Game Master" controlling monsters and traps), 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, pit players against each other, usually racing to collect treasure faster than the others to win the game.
  • Investigative ABGs, codified by Arkham Horror, have players cooperate with each other to uncover clues and to solve a mystery, often of the Cosmic Horror Story variety, before some game-ending condition occurs.
  • Cooperative ABGs, codified by HeroQuest, also have players form a Player Party to collect treasure and to fight monsters, which are controlled either by the game itself or by a dedicated Game Master player.

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


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