Monday, 24 April 2017

Family Gaming - the tale of the wandering gerbils

It was the end of the Easter holidays so what better to do than break out the dungeon tiles and the Heroquest box and have a game with the kids!

I've simplified and adapted the Heroquest rules to better suit my 10, 8 and 5 year old kids with these rules to also make it more of an RPG game:

  • A character can move up to 4 squares. 4 squares is considered a sprint and no other actions can take place.
  • Characters gain an action point for every square they don't move; ie a character moving 2 squares gets two actions, a character not moving gets 4 actions.
  • Possible actions: 
  1. Fight (2 action points)
  2. Cast a spell (2 action points)
  3. Search, Pick up, Interact, Jump, Disable etc (all 1 action point)
  • Characters can move and fight diagonally
  • GM decides how hard a task is, some tasks happen automatically some will require a 2D6 roll above a certain number depending upon the difficulty of a task. I.e jumping up to a great height may be 9+, charging down a stiff door might be a 4+. Picking up a potion would be automatic.
  • The spellcaster has a range of spells (created from previous games - and new ones can be also be created)- they must rhyme (so she actually has to say the spell) and have a variety of difficulties rolled against 2D6. She gets 1 attack dice and 2 defence
  • The boy warrior can use his flail to attack all enemies around him. He gets 3 attack dice and 3 defence
  • The girl assassin can throw a knife from 3 squares away. She can also use sneak (tested against 2D6 - usually a 5+) to attempt to go unnoticed. She gets 2 attack and defence dice.
  • The sequence of player turns is randomly selected; Tom the Cat is controlled by the first player each turn. He gets 1 attack and defence dice.
  • The kids should be thoughtful about their actions and the consequences they may bring!

The scenario:

The children had been left home alone by their slightly neglectful parents(!) and decided to play with their new pets, the gerbils named Jeff, Joe and Larry. The gerbils were happily playing in their spheres, running around and smashing into the furniture when out of nowhere Tom the Cat appeared and leapt onto Larry's ball. Pandemonium ensued as somehow there was a multiple collision and all the ball's lids popped open and the Gerbils scarpered for it, running underneath the kitchen cupboards before Tom could strike. 

The kids were incredibly upset but decided to have a good look for their pets (once Tom was safely moved away). During their search they found a secret trapdoor under a rug in the dining room and carefully lifted up the door to see where it led; they slowly descended the stairs into the gloom. Tom running down with them... 


After some fruitless searching in the first underground room, Sebastian the warrior boy opens one of the doors to find a man running towards him in terror. Sebastian decides to continue walking past him, completely disinterested,  towards the door at the end of the corridor! Lily the Sorceress decides to engage him in conversation after calming him down. Bob (the man in terror) tells our adventurers that there are monsters down here that are all controlled by a witch and a wizard and that he was trapped down here after he was fixing some of the sewer pipes and he'd really like to retrieve his tools. When asked if he'd seen any gerbils, he replied (slightly agog) in the negative. He did offer to help them with their task though.

Willow the Assasin says she will accompany Bob and that he should stay close to her as she's the best fighter. Sebastian the boy warrior starts bickering about this comment. Lily the Sorceress opens the double doors to discover three skeletons and some treasure.

Sebastian the boy warrior charges straight into the skeletons swinging his flail, taking two of the boney foes down. Lily the Sorceress decides to leave her little brother to fight by himself and selfishly search the treasure. She draws a wandering monster card  and is attacked by a Zombie. Sebastian guffaws!

Meanwhile Willow the Assassin decides to search the corridor rather than help her slightly overwhelmed siblings. She finds a secret switch which leads into a small chamber. Using her remaining action points she searches the room to find Nothing! She has a bit of sulk. Bob panics a bit due to his claustrophobia.

Sebastian the boy warrior and Lily the Sorceress join forces to wipe out the undead in the room using a combination of spellcasting and flail damage. The boy manages to complete a difficult jump onto the remains of the next floor and searches the treasure chest to find yet another wandering monster - another zombie!

Lily the Sorceress this time comes to her little brother's rescue, dispatching the zombie with ease. No one got hurt (apart from the zombie).

Exploring further into the depths of the dungeon, Sebastian the boy warrior encounters a room with stairs, a crow, some barrels and a ghost in front of the only exit.

Sebastian the boy warrior does not hesitate to attack the ghost only to find that his flail does no damage. The ghost wails in sorrow. Lily the Sorceress decides to engage the ghost in conversation (I had a word with my son at this point about considering his actions and the consequences!) and finds out that a witch has put a curse on him! The witch is in the next room and yes he did see some gerbils running past him! The kids are happy!

Lily the Sorceress successfully casts a spell on the ghost, removing the Witch's curse. A handsome man by the name of  Peter is now standing before her and pledges his allegiance to their quest as a favour for his freedom. During all this storytelling, Willow the Assassin again starts rummaging around and again draws a wandering monster card - here comes a zombie!

Sebastian the boy warrior decides to explore the pile of skulls and finds some gems, whilst Lily the Sorceress has a chat with the crow. He is a very clever crow and can speak human and listens intently to their quest. He tells them that the witch is in the next room and that they should be very careful as she is powerful, but not necessarily evil. He admires the kids bravery and grants them all a magic mini egg (cadbury's) which they can eat at any time to gain a power. He then flies off.

Willow the Assassin meanwhile opens the door to the witches lair. Tom the Cat searches the gravestone and unearths another zombie. Willow the Assassin tries to engage the witch in conversation, but soon tires of the Witches impatience and disinterest in their gerbils. The witch tells them to leave her quarters and to leave her alone. Willow the Assassin tries one more time and is threatened to be turned into a frog. The assassin takes some umbrage at this and throws her knife at the old hag! She in turn starts muttering an incantation....

All the adventurers charge in (including Peter, Bob and Tom the Cat), but cannot do enough to stop the witch's spell. Three armoured skeletons are raised to do her bidding.


The foes are vanquished - great teamwork!
Some gems (jelly beans) are discovered amongst the treasure, but they also awake a Werewolf!

And so the adventurers, full of confidence cautiously approach the final room. They see an executioner in front of his rack, two female prisoners and the evil wizard (who looks suspiciously like me - the GM). All the adventurers eat their magical eggs and receive a random gift. Magical armour for the boy warrior, protective shield for the girl assassin and courage spell for the sorceress.


Willow the Assassin sneaks into the room and unseen removes the rope that is holding the prisoner captive to her pole. Sebastian the boy warrior charges into the wizard hurting him with his trusty flail, whilst Tom the Cat and Peter attack the executioner. The assassin, still sneaking around, ties the wizards hands without him seeing and stops him from casting any spells. Great RPGing by her!

Surrounded by his foes the wizard threatens to kill the gerbils that he has trapped in the corner of his room, awaiting to be experimented on. Tom the Cat looks at the gerbils longingly but instead attacks the wizard with his sharp claws, finishing him off!

The prisoners and the gerbils are saved, treasure is taken and they all live happily ever after.