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Tyrant's Tomb Reactions/mini-review 2021

Discuss HeroQuest: The Tyrant's Tomb, the third HeroQuest novel by Dave Morris. (Discussion of the A Growl of Thunder quest contained within the novel should be addressed in the A Growl of Thunder Forum under Published Quest Releases.)

Tyrant's Tomb Reactions/mini-review 2021

Postby Kurgan » Thursday February 18th, 2021 10:10pm

So for what it's worth I recently read my second ever "Hero Quest" official novel, the narrative part of it, anyway. You can view my reactions to The Screaming Spectre in that other thread.

This was probably meant as a great power fantasy for a kid reading it. It reminded me of those "charles atlas" and other ads in comic books when I was a kid. Here were these stories of muscle bound super heroes and then there would be adverts on how you too could become this super strong, handsome man, who could defeat any bully or attract any beautiful girl. There are several parts of the story that focus on the Barbarian's amazing physique (quote the Bard about the muscularity), contrasted with the thief who is an ugly hunchback. So I got some of those vibes from the story, which follows the exploits of an adventurer who is enticed into the search for the tomb of a tyrant (hence the title) who made a pact with a serpent goddess for immortality and riches, but died due to a twist of fate.

Warhammer fantasy fans no doubt will fawn over the inclusion of lizardmen and the conflicts between Norscans (this universe's version of Vikings?) -- the Barbarians and the "Brettonnian" city folk.* :geek: Maybe it felt a little less generic because of the name-dropping, but I have no idea how "accurate" it really is to that franchise. Still, as stereotypical as the young Conan the Barbarian character is at times, he also has opportunities to use his head... proving it's not just full of meat. :barbarian:

As with the other novel I reviewed, the male protagonist's relationship with the opposite sex is a bit ambiguous, a bit tentative, so as not to overwhelm the narrative for a reader who hasn't quite entered that world yet.

* (or for all I know will find fault with some inaccuracy or other, I have no idea). :ugeek:

As with the other book I reviewed, there is a "Hero Quest" quest adventure (this one is called "A Growl of Thunder"), which I haven't yet played, but includes a concept I have used before (where you rescue an "injured" Hero, turning your solo quest into a duo) but this time focused on the Barbarian instead of the Wizard. And something about a secret code. I tried not to study the quest too closely (in case I play it as a Hero character someday), but it looks like it's pretty challenging (even if you use the EU rules as intended). Special artifacts (you supply the artwork).

And the third part is of course a "choose your own adventure" type game, focused on the Barbarian and his weapons, instead of the Wizard and his spells, using a six sided die and your hand-drawn character sheet. There's no cheesy "Certificate of Barbarianhood" at the end which was a little disappointing this time. Looks like something to do with secret codes, and the storyline is supposed to be more similar to the narrative at the beginning.

And of course there's the same "Map of the Hero Quest World" showing the northern parts of the Old World Map glimpsed in ROTWL EU edition.

Overall I didn't quite enjoy this one as much as the Wizard story. It was pretty straightforward though there was a twist ending. We got to see some "traps" in action, and an action moment with a "dragon" of sorts. It's a pretty quick read for a grown-up, but I could see a kid enjoying it and imagining they were this super cool Barbarian dude. Lots of Hero Quest artwork splashed across the pages, and a scene happens similar to the artwork on the front (which I will always associate with "A Plague of Zombies" even though it's really from the Adventure Design Kit). Screaming Spectre used the artwork from "Wizards of Morcar" on its cover.

I guess I would rate this one slightly lower on the interest scale than the Screaming Spectre, but if its the only novel you had read, you'd probably think it was great all on its own for the content you get. A Barbarian could be a really boring and generic character, but the author tried hard to make him interesting both as a man and as an adventurer, rather than just a beefcake monster-killing machine with no personality.

One of these days I will play the "choose your own adventure" portions of these novels and put up my thoughts. But the narratives are so short you can breeze through them in an afternoon without getting bored.

I think it's cool that they basically made a book focused on Barbarians and another focused on Wizards. It's too bad there wasn't an Elf and Dwarf book as well to complete the set, but I guess Hero Quest couldn't stay popular forever, they thought. I take it the first book spent the most time on the narrative adventure, whereas these two basically divide it in half between the role playing portion and the straight up prose.

Next up (when the mood strikes me) : The Fellowship of Four ! (which I know, sadly, doesn't include a board game quest or world map)
Last edited by Kurgan on Friday February 19th, 2021 12:47pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Tyrant's Tomb Reactions/mini-review 2021

Postby wallydubbs » Friday February 19th, 2021 12:17pm

I've played the Tyrant's Tomb choose your own adventure it seems quite difficult. I believe it even tells you beforehand that you may need to play through it several times before you succeed.
As for the book itself, I didn't find it as appealing as the Fellowship of Four.

I have read the Fellowship of Four and I actually preferred that one. The Barbarian's backstory is fully explored in that one and proves him to be quite honorable. I found the early chapters of the Elf to be rather hilarious in this book. I've also played the Choose your own adventure for Fellowship; the Dwarf died, the Elf was trapped for Eternity, and the Wizard and Barbarian achieved the goal and got away.

I have yet to read the Screaming Spectre.
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Re: Tyrant's Tomb Reactions/mini-review 2021

Postby Kurgan » Friday February 19th, 2021 12:52pm

If you're a collector, or you really want the 'choose your own adventure' quest, then get Screaming Spectre, I enjoyed it and you probably will too.

I can't compare it to Fellowship of the Four since I haven't yet read it, but something tells me there may be diminishing returns here.

$40 for a 50 page short story probably won't be worth it for most potential readers, just because it happens to be tied to a franchise you enjoy (and the bonus quests have been available separately for years thanks to Phoenix and fans at the Inn!).


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Re: Tyrant's Tomb Reactions/mini-review 2021

Postby Pancho » Friday February 19th, 2021 1:41pm

Kurgan the maps in the novels are unfortunately only useful for the novels themselves. They bear almost no resemblance whatsoever to anything you find in official Heroquest, or Warhammer Fantasy.
It’s true that this book has Lizardmen and Bretonnians (although the latter are never referred to by this name and are really just humans with french sounding names). I think Morris had only a passing knowledge of Warhammer and, like I said in the previous thread, was simply using a lot of this stuff as a vehicle for purely his own imaginative world building. It was nice to see the Ice Gremlins make an appearance in this book though!
In my quest pack based on the novels I put Runeport on the southern coast of Norsca, beyond the Sea of Claws. It works quite well because it’s on the other side of the sea from Bretonnia, and could be imagined to be a trading port/outpost that has a lot of the “French” guys in it. I wanted my pack to be based on the actual Heroquest/Warhammer maps.

Totally agree with Wallydubs that Fellowship of Four is the best of the 3. I based most of my quests in the aforementioned pack on the main story, and another 2 quests on play your own adventure also in that book (In the Night Season).


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