HeroQuest is a Dungeon Crawling Adventure Board Game set in a version of the Warhammer universe. It uses a board that represents an outline of a generic dungeon setting, modified to represent a different location for each adventure by placing different obstacles, doors, enemies and fixtures. Up to four heroes — the barbarian, the elf, the dwarf, and the wizard — explore each adventure and play against the other player, who represents the forces of evil and acts much like a Game Master in that they know everything about the current quest in advance and reveal it as the players advance. The whole thing amounts to a simplification of a tabletop RPG.
The game was originally designed by Games Workshop, and released by Milton Bradley in Britain; later versions of the game changed some aspects including but not limited to: names, monster hitpoints, and available weapons. However, at least one translation to another language (Finnish) was based on the UK version.
The setting is modified and simplified from the Warhammer world. Different factions of monsters are all united under the command of the Big Bad Evil Overlord Chaos Lord Zargon (Morcar in the original British version), represented by the 'evil' player, and the heroes are students of the generic mentor known as Mentor.
Later on there was Advanced Heroquest which was a version with expanded rules such as the use of critical hits and fumbles, as well as Colleges of Magics to provide different schools of spells. After Advanced Heroquest, there was the even more rules and background intensive Warhammer Quest which jumps whole-heartedly into the Warhammer world, and now Warhammer Quest: The Silver Tower which takes it into the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar setting. There were also three gamebooks released in the early nineties, which featured a non-interactive novella in addition to the game portion; the first gamebook was designed to be played by up to 4 players, but the latter two were solo adventures.
There's a similar board game based on Warhammer 40,000 called Space Crusade. Descent: Journeys in the Dark is often considered a Spiritual Successor.
After decades of no availability and news, Hasbro, who had bought out Milton Bradley years prior, and Avalon Hill announced a crowdfunding campaign to bring the game back, which was ultimately successful. The revised game was released to retail in 2021, with minor changes to edit out references to the Warhammer Fantasy universe (as Hasbro is a direct competitor to Games Workshop through its Wizards of the Coast brand as well as Avalon Hill).
Not to be confused with the Hero Wars / HeroQuest RPG set in Glorantha like RuneQuest. Also not to be confused with Quest for Glory, which was originally titled Hero's Quest and had to change it to avoid a lawsuit from Milton Bradley.
The best thing about Hero Quest is the Tropes!
- Barbarian Hero: The Barbarian character is the strongest of the player characters in close combat and his model is sculpted to represent a typical barbarian hero with big muscles, long hair, wears nothing but a fur loincloth, and wields a large broadsword. The Barbarian is also the protagonist of the third HeroQuest novel/Choose Your Own Adventure double book, The Tyrant's Tomb.
- Big Good: On the one hand, there's Mentor, whose apprentice Morcar was and who sends the heroes out on their missions. On the other hand, there's the emperor who leads the human Empire presented as the primary force of good.
- Boss Fight: The original UK version and "Return of the Witch Lord" expansion had the Witch Lord as the final boss. "The expansion "Kellar's Keep" has an extra-tough gargoyle at the end.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: The Ogres from the "Against the Ogre Horde" expansion. By far the hardest campaign in the game, even a basic Ogre warrior was a huge threat with high combat stats and multiple hit points.
- Canon Immigrant: Morcar/Zargon got incorporated into background material for the main Warhammer game during its 4th Edition as Morkar, the First Everchosen of Chaos.
- Captain Ersatz: The barbarian character is Conan the Barbarian in all but name.
- Crutch Character: The barbarian is a very downplayed version of this: In the beginning, he's quite powerful with one additional damage dice, but this edge vis-a-vis the Elf and the Dwarf disappears as soon as those two get their hands on better weapons - essentially, the Dwarf trades 1 hitpoint for the ability to find traps (which is useful), while the Elf has 2 hitpoints less than the barbarian but can cast spells from a single school (which is even better). And with better armor, the hitpoint gap is less of an issue than it is early on.
- Door Jam: In the expansion "The Return of the Witch Lord", one of the quests ends with the characters being trapped in the central room with a gargoyle, the door disappearing when the last character enters. When the gargoyle is defeated, the characters are captured by the Witch Lord.
- Dragons Are Demonic: The 2021 revival has an expansion in the form of The Crypt of Perpetual Darkness, and introduces a villainous dragon called Venim.
- Dub Name Change: The Big Bad is known as Zargon in the US, but in the UK, Australia, and the rest of Europe he is known as Morcar.
- Elite Mooks: Fimirs/Abominations (elite greenskins), mummies (elite undead) and Chaos warriors/Dread warriors (just plain elite) are considerably tougher than most monsters, and there are fewer of them. Chaos Warriors are especially elite in the US version, with 4 dice to attack and defend, and 3 hitpoints and they look the part with their armor and horned helmets.
- Evil Overlord:
- Zargon/Morcar is the Lord of Chaos that leads endless hordes of monsters.
- The Witch Lord is a powerful undead being leading legions of undead.
- Expansion Pack: There were several in the form of a collection of new figures, tiles and a booklet with new adventures.
- Fish People: The Abominations in the 2021 version of the game are creepy-looking humanoid creatures with the heads of anglerfish.
- Giant Mook: The gargoyle (UK version) is just another standard piece, but there's only one of it, it's huge, and its stats are enormous, though it still only has one hit point. "Kellar's Keep" features a super-gargoyle with a whole three hit points. The US version gargoyles are equally rare, and always have 3 hitpoints. Then again, US version Chaos Warriors also have 3 hitpoints — the only real difference between Chaos Warriors and gargoyles is that gargoyles have an extra defend dice and Chaos warriors get 2 more movement squares per turn than gargoyles.
- Glass Cannon: Orcs in the US version have 3 attack dice, but only 2 defend dice and 1 hitpoint, so unless the heroes run into a lot of them at once it's unlikely they'll get much attacking done.
- Great Big Book of Everything: The book Loretome that Mentor guards seems to contain hints about just about anything.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Morcar is pretty much behind all the evil seen in the setting, but he's far enough removed from the action in the game that he is closer to this than the Big Bad. "Kellar's Keep" is one exception, as he's leading the besieging army personally and can be seen having a Villainous Breakdown in the ending text. The nebulous chaotic powers that he supposedly pledged loyalty to in the backstory are even further removed from the main plot and bigger forces of temptation.
- His Name Really Is "Barkeep": The heroes' mentor is called Mentor.
- Loincloth: The barbarian wears one, and it actually goes well with his badass pose on the cover.
- Licensed Game: In the '90s, Gremlin Interactive created a video game adaptation of HeroQuest, along with a sequel to it (HeroQuest II: Legacy of Sorasil). Warhammer Quest got an adaptation in the The New '10s, which also got a sequel, Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times. All four are generally thought to be pretty good video games.
- Lighter and Softer: The original HeroQuest doesn't have the bleak feel and dark comedy of the main Warhammer setting and It plays like a classic Heroic Fantasy dungeon crawler.
- Magic Knight: The Elf's entire role is to be an alright but somewhat fragile fighter with access to one of the 4 elements of magic.
- Magic Potion: Various potions can be found on treasure cards, including potions of healing, strength, resilience, Heroic Brew, which allow two attacks instead of one.
- Mighty Glacier: Mummies in the US version have 3 attack, 4 defense, 2 hitpoints, and only 4 movement.
- Mooks: The game is based around a small group of heroes entering dungeons containing hordes of monsters weaker than themselves. In the original game practically all monsters only have one hit point, whereas the heroes always have several. In the international versions some monsters had 2 or even 3 hitpoints, and the bosses might have more. Still, even the boss monsters rarely had more hitpoints than the Wizard.
- Night of the Living Mooks: Skeletons, zombies, mummies are at the evil wizard's command, and the Witch Lord's as well.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In the remake online quest Into The Northlands, you find a Polar Warbear imprisoned in a cage. Despite freeing him, he still turns and attacks you.
- One Hitpoint Wonder: (US version) Goblins, orcs, skeletons and zombies all have only one hitpoint each. In the other version, all but the most unique monsters do.
- Our Orcs Are Different: The orcs in the classic game are the same as regular Warhammer orcs, except they mostly work for Chaos. This was plausible in the background material of the time, where orcs (and greenskins in general) could be worshippers of Chaos. There was even an implication that the, now non-canon, greenskin god Khakkekk was actually an aspect of Khorne.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: There's not much to say about the dwarf other than that he's generic. He's a fighter who isn't quite as strong as the Barbarian, who can disarm traps with ease.
- Pit Trap: These can be found in the game. After they are revealed, a player can attempt to jump across a pit trap, by rolling a die. If they roll a skull, they fall into the trap, but if they roll a shield they make it across.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: While 1994 computer game HeroQuest II: Legacy of Sorasil adapts HeroQuest, it also uses elements from Advanced HeroQuest, DungeonQuest, other elements from Warhammer Fantasy itself, and even Dungeons & Dragons. Along with creating it's own lore, even if it is based on the background material for Warhammer Fantasy (i.e. the more or less land corresponding to the Old World being called Rhia, seemingly after the Old World Goddess Rhya).
- Press Start to Game Over: The first gamebook gives you an option to not accept the quest in the very first section, thereby ending the adventure before it actually begins.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Morcar/Zargon was a pupil of Mentor who got fed up with not being taught magic fast enough, read texts forbidden to him in secret, and ran off to become the Lord of Chaos.
- Roll-and-Move: The base rules required players to roll 2d6 to determine how far their heroes could move on their turn, with many groups house-ruling to ignore this and instead using constant movement rates, depending on the hero.
- Schmuck Bait: One level in the original campaign has the heroes going into a mine to find a huge hoard of gold. The gold is very heavy, slowing movement and making fighting difficult, and teleports back to its starting location if dropped. It turns out to be fool's gold when the players get it out. The kicker? In their greed, the players will probably miss finding a very powerful one-of-a-kind magic ring.
- Shared Life-Meter: Against the Ogre Horde (a UK/Germany only expansion pack) has a single life bar for all of the generic ogres in the dungeon you're playing. At specific points, the ogre currently being attacked dies. Even so, it is a single bar instead of several in succession as you always tick off a unit in front, even if the heroes are fighting multiple ogres at once.
- Squishy Wizard: While that Wizard character gets plenty of spells to cast, he is very fragile and is a poor fighter who can be taken out with a single hit by the stronger monsters if they get close.
- Take a Third Option: Required in one of the adventures in the original game. The heroes are led into a room with three doors by a treacherous guide who flees under the cover of darkness. Each of the three doors leads into a room with nothing but monsters, not even secret doors. The right way out of is to search for a secret door within the first room rather than opening any of the three doors.
- Token Heroic Orc: Most orcs serve as footsoldiers for the forces of evil, but the 2021 version of the game includes one as a playable character, and as the bard of all things!
- Trainee from Hell: In the backstory: At the beginning of the quest book, Mentor tells of how his young apprentice wizard Zargon became power-hungry, and eager to learn very powerful magic, breaking into Mentor's study to read his books, and finally battling with him. Zargon becomes the "evil wizard" player in the game, and the other players must enter his strongholds, and defeat his monsters and spells.
- The Unfought: Morcar is the driving force behind all the evil in the game, but even when acts as the direct antagonist "Kellar's Keep" the players never face him.
- Also technically the Chaos Warlock miniature, as it seems to merely exist as a placeholder for Sir Ragnar and the Witch Lord.
- A Villain Named "Z__rg": Zargon is the evil wizard controlling the monsters, though he's called Morcar in the original.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Since Games Workshop still owns some elements of the original boards and has no involvement in the revival, some elements of the game had to be renamed or changed. Chaos Magic was changed to Dread Magic, and the accordingly, the Chaos Warriors were renamed Dread Warriors. The Fimirs were completely replaced with a new aquatic race simply called Abominations.