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Search – The Binding Topic

Discuss the Rules of HeroQuest as set out by Milton Bradley Game Systems and Quest Packs.

Search – The Binding Topic

Postby Bareheaded Warrior » Monday August 22nd, 2022 4:52am

One Topic to rule them all,
One Topic to find them,
One Topic to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them.


Search is one of the hottest topics on this forum, both around interpretation of official rules, significant differences between versions of official rules and the number of problems, perceived and actual, that have spawned much discussion and house rules varying from patches to complete rewrites.

This master topic is an attempt to try and index all this noise by listing all the perceived issues and then include links to topics, old and new, where these problems and solutions have already been discussed to make it easier for people to find, read about and add to the relevant discussion of a particular problem.

It also highlights how many problems there are in this area of the rules which for some people (including me) prompts the idea of a complete rewrite as that might be a lesser modification, than introducing patches for every one of these issues.

The Problems

1. Traps in a row flaw
You can search in a single square width corridor and find (without having to handle) numerous traps, even though it would logically be impossible to get to the subsequent trap squares without having dealt with the first one in some way – this could be resolved by stating that your search ends with the nearest trap found within your search area, this logic is used in certain Quest notes but perhaps should be a standard rule rather than an exception

Searching for Multiple Traps

2. Poorly defined/inconsistent search area flaw
Search area isn’t really defined (aside from the searching for traps in a room bit, i.e. you have to be in a room to search for and locate a trap in a room), it isn’t clear whether you can be in a room – in the doorway for example – and perform a trap search and locate a trap on the (adjacent to you) first square in a corridor which is inconsistent but not prohibited expressly as far as I can tell and the search area in a corridor isn’t well defined but I assume it is a single ‘straight stretch of any length’ but there is no information around standing on a corner or other intersection between two corridors and searching both simultaneously

Corridors, treasure and traps

3. Assumed movement ignores movement limits flaw
The assumed movement inherent in a trap search can be up to 25 squares long despite your basic maximum movement being 12 this is made even worst by the fact that you could, at a junction, use your action to ‘search for traps' with your assumed movement covering 25 squares in one direction and then roll and move up to 12 squares in another direction, your figure covering a total of 37 squares of movement (assumed and actual) in a single turn.

4. Unrevealed Monsters flaw
The assumed movement could cross a T-junction and beyond where there are unrevealed monsters along the other arm of the T. You can discover traps located past the junction without revealing the monsters (as the movement is assumed) but paradox warning - if you then moved down the corridor to disarm a found trap you would discover the presence of the monsters and their presence should have prevented you from searching for the traps that you have already found.

Searching Corridors

5.Inconsistent search conditions flaw
There are discrepancies between the descriptions of the conditions in which you can perform the three different searches in the original which make no sense. Search for treasure can be done when there are no monsters in the room, whereas searching for traps and searching for secret doors can only be done if there are no monsters visible to you, so if you are in a room with no monsters in that room but one stood in the doorway outside the room in the corridor then you would be able to search for treasure in that room but would not be able to search for secret doors or search for traps. In addition, only the “Search for Treasure” has the potential to spawn a Wandering monster outcome but neither of the other two search actions which again is inconsistent.

Searching with monsters present – allowed

6. Traps behind the door flaw
In the official rules, there is a strange situation that occurs when a trap has been placed on the first square of a room on the Quest Map. As, under the official rules, you cannot search for a trap in a room without being in the room, and stepping into the room, will activate the trap, these become undetectable. For me, the issue with the “Traps on the other side of the door” logic isn’t that it feels unfair (although that is true), it is more that it feels unintended. I don’t get the feeling that the designers of the game set out with the intention of creating this situation, they simply wrote the searching for traps rules, and this surfaced through play as an unintended consequence that they highlighted in the rulebook so that players would have some guidance on how to handle the situation when they inevitably uncovered it.

Traps on the other side of the door
Potions, Traps and Throwing Weapons

7. Volume of searches flaw
In the US rules a room can be searched for treasure once by every Hero (although in the original UK/EU rules it was search once per room not once per Hero). This results in a volume of treasure found that leads the Heroes to max out on equipment in a brief period, causing advancement to stagnate. It also offers a considerable number of potential searches during the game, four treasure searches per room, plus a secret door search and a trap search – 6 search actions per room plus two additional searches for every corridor with a typical quest featuring maybe 8 rooms and a similar number of corridors that is a potential of over 60 searches, starts to feel like the game should have been named “Hero Search” and you have to keep track of them all!

Search for Treasure
Keeping track of who has searched

8. Handling Chests and Furniture flaw
In some official quests the layout of traps and chests implies that a Hero needs to be adjacent to a chest to open it, whereas in the official rules chests are a purely decorative indicator that it might be worth searching in this room - Separating chests out of the main search rules and putting them into a separate action resolves this issue.

Chests? How do they work?

9. Memorizing suspect trap locations
This mechanism is weird, it encourages frustration and conflict. When a hero searches for traps, Zargon only points to the board which squares have a trap. Players may try to disarm or avoid 'suspect' squares only to find out it was not the right square, or may fall into a trap whilst moving to the square they thought was trapped. This is frustrating and often leads to conflict, "but that was the square you pointed at...", "no it wasn't, it was that square", "that one?", "no that one", "so can I climb out of this pit now and reset it so that I can try and disarm the correct square"?

Trap Disarming Error

10. Searching inside a pit flaw
Again this is inconsistent, you can search for treasure and secret doors “as though it was a distinct room in its own right” but if "it was a distinct room in its own right" then you would be able to search for traps. Why can’t you search for traps – because that makes no sense - how and why would anyone ever build a trap inside a pit, how would you mark it on the board and handle it, but that logic is equally true for secret doors in a pit, how and why would anyone ever locate a secret door inside a pit, fall in and risk death every time they want to use the door, have to avoid the stakes and reset the trap every time they exit the other way. If there is treasure in the pit then put it in the Quest Notes and you find it when you fall in.

Miscellaneous related topics

Topic around interpretation of Quest Notes that state no treasure in a given room

Search for Treasure Question

Topics around combining Trap and Secret Door searches in US rules

Searching for traps and secret doors
Searching for traps and secret doors (US)

Note: any moderators reading this, these two topics above could be combined...

Topic around falling block traps permanently trapping Heroes or permanently blocking the objective

Dead End Falling Block Traps
Falling block traps right after door, hero blocking way back

Topic around the logic behind how monsters interact with traps or don’t

Traps and Monster

Topic around Secret Doors (which side can they be found?)

Secret Doors

Mixed Topic

Search markers / disarm markers
Covers markers for found traps, searched rooms and also the volume of searches and furniture searches, so effectively problems 7,8 & 9
Last edited by Bareheaded Warrior on Wednesday August 24th, 2022 11:41am, edited 3 times in total.
:skull: = white skull, one "hit"
:blackshield: = black skull, one "hit"
:whiteshield: = shield, cancels out one "hit"

Editions: 1989 Original First Edition [FE] and Second Edition [SE], 1990 Remake [US], 2021 Remake [21]

HeroQuest Gold new edition based on Original 1989 HeroQuest, holes patched, dents hammered out, buffed to a shiny finish with ~50 common issues fixed for a smoother experience.

HQ Common Notification System to identify squares on the board
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Re: Search – The Master Topic

Postby Bareheaded Warrior » Wednesday August 24th, 2022 6:02am

As mentioned above, my feeling is that the 'searching' mechanisms within HeroQuest are so flawed that a complete rewrite is less of a change than patching each and every hole individually so I propose the following:

1. Exclude Treasure Chests from the general "Search for Treasure" in a room rules, they will be handled by a new dedicated action named 'Loot'
2. Scrap Searching for Traps
3. Scrap searching for Secret Doors
4. Rename the 'Search for Treasure' action as just a 'Search' action


HEROQUEST GOLD – BOOK OF TRAPS 1:1-2

CHAPTER 1 DETECTING & DISARMING TRAPS

1 Activating Traps

Traps can be activated in several ways but the most common are activated when you step on a certain square either through movement (in rooms & corridors) or when searching (in rooms). Only Zargon knows where these traps are hidden. The locations of traps are marked in gold on the Quest Maps in the Quest Book.

Another common trap scenario is a trapped chest or tomb that is activated when you loot it. Other less common traps can be triggered by other activities such as opening doors or entering a room.

Note: Monsters do not spring hidden traps.

2 Detecting & Disarming Traps

When Zargon indicates that you have stepped onto a trapped square, or that the chest or tomb you are looting is trapped, you have the slim opportunity of detecting and disarming (making safe) the trap before it activates.

Roll a red die, on a roll of 5 or more, you manage to detect and disarm the trap, otherwise it activates, and you suffer the consequences, either way this ends your turn, although in the case of looting a chest you still get the contents.

Note: The Dwarf gains a +2 bonus to this roll due to his expertise with mechanisms, and any Hero equipped with a tool kit gets a +1. This is cumulative so the Dwarf equipped with a toolkit gets +3.

A disarmed trap counts as a normal square, a disarmed chest trap counts as a normal chest

In Quests where the notes state that traps in the Quest are particularly well-hidden then a roll of 6 or more is required for success rather than the usual 5 or more

HEROQUEST GOLD – BOOK OF EXPLORATION 2:5

5 Discovering Secret Doors

Secret doors are hidden portals that cannot be seen when you, as a Hero, “look” into a room or down a corridor. These doors are concealed in a variety of ways, including sliding panels and pivoting bricks.

During movement you may step onto a square that contains a secret door, Zargon will inform you when that occurs “you have discovered a secret door” and will reveal the secret door, placing an open door on the board in the appropriate position and revealing what lies beyond, you may then continue with your turn.

Note: Once the open door has been placed on the board it follows the same rules as any other door

Note: You may also discover secret doors through searching, but some Secret Doors are so well hidden that they can only be discovered through searching and not during movement and some can only be found from one side (see Quest Notes).

HEROQUEST GOLD – BOOK OF SEARCHING 1-2

CHAPTER 1: THE SEARCH ACTION

1 You may, as an action, choose to Search (a room but not a corridor) but this is a full-turn action i.e., on your turn you can choose to EITHER search (a room) OR move and carry out another action – attack, cast, loot (or move after carrying out another action)

A room can only be searched completely once (once, not once per Hero) but it may take more than one attempt by the same or different Heroes to complete a room search.

Zargon will mark off a room as “search completed” on the Quest map or by placing a blank counter in the room on the gameboard.

Monsters do not search, they already know where the hidden items are, so they have no need to search and their movement does not activate traps or reveal secret doors. They may move freely though squares that contain secret doors or traps. Once a trap or secret door has been placed on the board, monsters must follow the same rules as Heroes.

You may search a room only if there are no monsters visible from any square in the room

A room search excludes any chests. These are containers that are always locked and must be handled using the Loot action by a Hero that is in an adjacent square. See looting below.

2 How A Hero Searches

Searching means that you are moving around, opening things, looking for interesting objects and gold coins, regardless of what square you are on in the room.

Do not move your Hero figure when you search unless instructed by Zargon at the end of your search.

Zargon will advise you on the results of your search, but this may result in you being asked to draw a random card from the Treasure Card deck and read it aloud. The card could offer you a variety of things, including riches and magical potions.

3 The Search Process

If the room that the Hero is searching contains any hidden traps, then direct the Hero to place his figure on the nearest hidden trapped square and inform them that they have found a trap. Then follow the process for “detecting & disarming” traps in the Book of Traps. This ends the search action.

If the room that the Hero is searching does not contain any hidden traps but does contain secret doors, then direct the Hero to place his figure on the square with the secret door (or the nearest if more than one exists) and inform them that they have found a secret door, before placing an open door in the indicated place and laying out any contents as usual. This ends the search action.

If the room that the Hero is searching does not contain any hidden trap or secret doors, then the Hero may have found some treasure.

As Zargon, if there is a special treasure (as described in the Quest Notes), you must read aloud the treasure description once the treasure has been found. The special treasure is discovered only once by the first Hero who completes the room search.

If there is no special treasure in the searched room, direct the searching Hero to draw a Treasure Card as described in the next book.

CHAPTER 2: THE LOOT ACTION

1 Chests and Tombs are not included in a standard search as they are locked/sealed containers and must be looted (the preferred term for accessing and removing the contents of a locked/sealed container) as an action by a Hero stood adjacent to the container in a room where no monsters are visible to the Hero.

In terms of the loot received consult the Quest notes.

2 Chests and Tombs may be trapped. If you loot one that is trapped, then Zargon will inform you that “You realise that the furniture is trapped” at that point the Hero must follow the process for “detecting & disarming” a trap in the Book of Traps however any treasure in the furniture is always retrieved irrespective of the outcome of any trap (even if the trap kills you, you can rest in peace knowing that the loot is on your corpse!)
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:blackshield: = black skull, one "hit"
:whiteshield: = shield, cancels out one "hit"

Editions: 1989 Original First Edition [FE] and Second Edition [SE], 1990 Remake [US], 2021 Remake [21]

HeroQuest Gold new edition based on Original 1989 HeroQuest, holes patched, dents hammered out, buffed to a shiny finish with ~50 common issues fixed for a smoother experience.

HQ Common Notification System to identify squares on the board
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Re: Search – The Binding Topic

Postby Bareheaded Warrior » Saturday February 4th, 2023 6:13am

A few years ago, I set myself the task of working through the Game System / Gathering Storm Quest Book with only the Barbarian, I had some time on my hands, a shortage of players and I was curious.

I intended to play each Quest once, using ‘Classic’ HQ rules (US First Edition) and a second time using HQ ‘Gold’ rules and compare notes.

I only got as far as “The Fire Mage” Quest before I gave up, but under classic rules, aside from “The Trial” (during which my Barbarian died on both the first two attempts in a row, so I compromised and gave him a couple of Potions of Healing to carry as compensation for the lack of the usual two walking Potions of Healing - sorry I mean the much valued compatriots, The Wizard and The Elf), he did almost die in “Legacy of the Orc Warlord” and did die in “The Fire Mage” the rest of the GS quests were perfectly possible to complete with only the Barbarian under classic rules, which reinforced my gut feeling that the game needed to be made more difficult – one of the drivers for HQ Gold rules.

But I digress, in the last Quest that I completed under classic rules, “The Fire Mage”, I decided that on every single turn when my Barbarian wasn’t facing a monster he would search, first for traps, then secret doors, then treasure without moving just literally move, action search for traps, next turn, no move, search for secret doors, next turn, no move search for treasure, next turn, move and search for traps, rinse and repeat.

What, as a Hero, am I doing in game terms by choosing this course of action. Well my Hero is proceeding slowly and cautiously through a potentially dangerous dungeon, ensuring that he minimises the chances of falling into a spiked pit or similar hazards whilst maximising his chances of finding all the shiny stuff. Put this way, this course of action / method play makes perfect sense.

Why as a player did I do this? Maybe some sort of zen inspired, taking a ritual to extremes in order to free yourself from it, through absurdity.
In theory this is probably the way that players should do a quest for maximum gain/minimum loss (at least where no time penalties exist which they don’t in the classic version).

So why don’t players use this optimal tactic in play at all times. 1) it is extremely painstaking and dull, 2) they forget. So, I asked myself the question, for a simple and fun game should the optimal tactics rely on making the game painstakingly dull or players behaving like well programmed robots? No.

What to do better. Searching for Treasure in a room is fun, you might get treasure, which is a big plus, but even a trap/hazard or WM whilst negative, is still fun. Searching for traps on squares that you are never going to move onto, is pointless, why take the chance of finding, attempting to disarm, failing and being penalised due to searching a square that you are never going to move onto anyway? If on the other hand the square is question is one that you DO move onto, and the only time you know that for sure is when you move onto the square, then surely the best moment to assess whether you have managed to spot the trap before it goes off and if so potentially use that opportunity to make it safe, is at the point you step onto a trapped square.

Scrap searching for traps as an action and just make handling moving onto a trapped square as part of movement (and part of the search for treasure action as that includes movement, assumed movement, but still movement)

Having scrapped search for traps I turned to searching for secret doors and realised exactly the same principles applied if you step on a square containing a secret door then you find it, if you don’t you don’t, so again this would be better incorporated into movement (and part of the search for treasure action as that includes movement, assumed movement, but still movement) *
*Some secret doors may only be found from one side only – indicated in Quest Notes

The only thing left to do was rename the ‘search for treasure’ action to be just ‘search’ action, after all you are choosing to search a room, you find what you find, irrespective to what your intentions were. You may be hoping to find treasure, or maybe even more explicitly a large quantity of gold, potion of healing and so on, but whatever your hopes are around what you find, that has no bearing on the outcome of the search – be that a trap, secret door, treasure or nothing.
:skull: = white skull, one "hit"
:blackshield: = black skull, one "hit"
:whiteshield: = shield, cancels out one "hit"

Editions: 1989 Original First Edition [FE] and Second Edition [SE], 1990 Remake [US], 2021 Remake [21]

HeroQuest Gold new edition based on Original 1989 HeroQuest, holes patched, dents hammered out, buffed to a shiny finish with ~50 common issues fixed for a smoother experience.

HQ Common Notification System to identify squares on the board
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Re: Search – The Binding Topic

Postby Markus Darwath » Saturday February 4th, 2023 2:59pm

Issue 4 could be handled RAW using an assumption that was presented in the thread about monsters opening doors; any monster not in a dead-end area would be assumed to have just arrived there when encountered. Thus a character may search a hall for traps and there was no monster in the cross hallway at that time, but when the party subsequently proceeds down the checked hallway they encounter newly arrived monster(s) in the cross hall.
Even if the cross hall is a dead end, since wandering monsters sometimes appear improbably as a result of searching for treasure, my assumption would be that they were well camouflaged/hidden until the hero went poking around. Likewise a hall monster could be hidden, but then emerge -after- he spots an intruder searching for traps.

Issue 7 has not been an issue in my experience. My players have been aware of the relative ratio of good treasure cards to hazards and WM along with the fact that the bad cards get returned to deck and shuffled. Thus they've been hesitant to max out their treasure searches, and as a result their equipment upgrades have been possibly even too slow.

I have some issues with your rules on detecting and disarming traps. A) Disarm is effectively removed as an action and automatically incorporated into another action (search or loot) or movement. In my opinion it is too complex of a process to be thusly negating the time cost of performing a disarm. B) The chance to avoid and disarm a trap after you've stepped on the square is a bit too stingy, given that the heroes are presumably watching out for traps as they proceed. While I can agree that the original rule's automatic discovery of traps when searching for them is too generous, I believe there should still be an opportunity to spot a trap before stepping onto it's activating square, and thus offer a choice as to disarm, avoid, or trigger it.

Alternatives I would suggest; Full turn Search is conducted square by square according to the hero's movement roll.

The full turn Search action -can- be performed in hallways as well as rooms (traps and secret doors will not be generally spotted without it.) Traps and secret doors are spotted an average of half the time (3 or more on movement die) with the Dwarf getting a +2 bonus on this roll. A failed roll means they are treated as if they hadn't been searched for. (options: the roll can be made automatically when taking the search action and/or Zargon can make the roll in secret, to avoid spoilers if something goes unfound.)

Secret Doors located in a search are -not- opened automatically. Discovered traps are handled normally (avoid, jump, disarm, trigger).

Treasure cards are not drawn in hallways unless specified in quest notes.

All heroes may search the same space, but treasure may only be found once per room, not counting treasure placed in furniture by the quest notes. (Zargon has the option whether to assign treasure to a space in each room or simply give it to the first hero that searches in said room.)

With the above, furniture would be covered in the normal course of a search that includes its square(s). This presents an option to designate some furniture as locked, thus requiring a separate Loot action to break into it.
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Re: Search – The Binding Topic

Postby Bareheaded Warrior » Sunday February 5th, 2023 7:18am

I agree some, probably all, of the issues that I stated with the original search rules can be fixed or at least dodged by making assumptions, tweaks and modifications individually. My point was that making even a small modification for each of the issues listed, collectively adds up to a significant amount of change, with all the usual risks of unintended consequences, so it is in my opinion one of the few areas within the HeroQuest rules where a complete rewrite has a more manageable impact that a large number of small modifications.

Combined spot and disarm roll

It is interesting that you feel my combined roll to spot and disarm a trap at a base 5+ is a bit too stingy.

In the US rules a Hero equipped with a tool kit has a 50% chance of successfully disarming a trap. Under your proposed alternative you suggest 3+ for spotting traps (and secret doors).

So, in combination, the chances of successfully spotting a trap and then successfully disarming it would be 3+ to spot (2/3) and 4+ to disarm (3/6), combined produces a 1 in 3 chance of success.

Under my proposed rules the same Hero with the same tool kit attempting to spot and disarm the same trap would need 4+ to be successful (as he gets a +1 for the toolkit), a 1 in 2 chance of success, a more generous chance than under your proposal, unless I have misunderstood something.

Even without the Toolkit, under my rules it is still possible to successfully spot and disarm a trap, with a 5+, a 1 in 3 chance, exactly the same chance as under your proposal for a Hero WITH a toolkit.

Secret Dice Roll

To all intents and purposes it is practically impossible for a GM to reliably make secret dice rolls (I don’t mean keeping the result of the roll secret, I mean keeping the fact that you have made a dice roll at all secret) without any canny players working it out.

I did consider and playtest an ‘automatic and secret’ test for discovering traps and secret doors during movement, by substituting one blue die for one red die in the game, so that players always rolled two dice for movement but the GM could use the blue die when needed to resolve a secret test, but in practise it didn’t work so well, players picking up the dice after they have rolled and the outcome totalled, or knocking them to one side, a movement roll that takes you over or passed more than one trap or secret door in a single bit of movement, so in the end I just went with secret doors being discovered automatically if the relevant square is stepped on and combined the search and disarm into a single roll that happens at a point when the surprise has already been revealed, it is just the outcome that remains to be determined

Square by Square Search

A search conducted square by square according to the Hero’s movement roll, sounds like a nightmare to track, picture this in operation in the central 5x6 room, 30 squares in total. Not only would this take a single Hero between 3 and 15 turns to complete a search of the room, but if multiple Heroes are joining in, then how would you track which squares have already been searched, to avoid the Heroes simply wasting effort searching squares that have already been searched and still failing to work out what squares are remaining that haven’t been searched.

The other reason why I’m not fond of this option is that a player rolling the movement dice and moving their Hero step by step up to the number of squares indicated, revealing traps and secret doors on the way, sounds to me a lot more like a description of ‘moving’ than a description of ‘searching’ hence my decision to include finding of traps and secret doors into the movement rules rather than the search action. This removes the need to track every square that has been covered because squares that contain traps you don’t step on, don't matter
:skull: = white skull, one "hit"
:blackshield: = black skull, one "hit"
:whiteshield: = shield, cancels out one "hit"

Editions: 1989 Original First Edition [FE] and Second Edition [SE], 1990 Remake [US], 2021 Remake [21]

HeroQuest Gold new edition based on Original 1989 HeroQuest, holes patched, dents hammered out, buffed to a shiny finish with ~50 common issues fixed for a smoother experience.

HQ Common Notification System to identify squares on the board
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Re: Search – The Binding Topic

Postby Markus Darwath » Sunday February 5th, 2023 10:33am

Bareheaded Warrior wrote:
It is interesting that you feel my combined roll to spot and disarm a trap at a base 5+ is a bit too stingy.


I find it stingy in that it eliminates the ability to spot the trap without stepping on it, and thus avoidance is no longer an option. And again, I'm also not comfortable with effectively relegating Disarm to a free action.

In the US rules a Hero equipped with a tool kit has a 50% chance of successfully disarming a trap. Under your proposed alternative you suggest 3+ for spotting traps (and secret doors).

So, in combination, the chances of successfully spotting a trap and then successfully disarming it would be 3+ to spot (2/3) and 4+ to disarm (3/6), combined produces a 1 in 3 chance of success.

Under my proposed rules the same Hero with the same tool kit attempting to spot and disarm the same trap would need 4+ to be successful (as he gets a +1 for the toolkit), a 1 in 2 chance of success, a more generous chance than under your proposal, unless I have misunderstood something.


US RAW gives the hero searching for traps a 100% chance to spot them without triggering. They then have options to simply not step there, attempt to jump over the square, or let the Dwarf handle disarming (especially crucial in new parties where no one has been able to buy a toolkit yet). A hero is not forced to deal with a trap just because they found it. Also, allowing the non-Dwarf heroes a 1-in-3 chance to disarm without a toolkit just feels like it's detracting from the Dwarf's special ability.
My suggestion of a 50% chance to spot was basically just a spitball number to try and make traps more relevant than they are in Rules As Written. It's entirely possible that a better chance to spot would be more appropriate

Secret Dice Roll

To all intents and purposes it is practically impossible for a GM to reliably make secret dice rolls (I don’t mean keeping the result of the roll secret, I mean keeping the fact that you have made a dice roll at all secret) without any canny players working it out.


I can definitely recognize that the secret die roll would almost have to be automatic as well, in order to maintain the surprise.

I did consider and playtest an ‘automatic and secret’ test for discovering traps and secret doors during movement, by substituting one blue die for one red die in the game, so that players always rolled two dice for movement but the GM could use the blue die when needed to resolve a secret test, but in practise it didn’t work so well, players picking up the dice after they have rolled and the outcome totalled, or knocking them to one side, a movement roll that takes you over or passed more than one trap or secret door in a single bit of movement,


That's why I would just automatically roll behind the screen whenever a Search is announced. Or just let the player make the automatic roll. Yes, they'll know if they fail and are thus playing the rube mine detector, but on the other hand it might save the party time vs everyone looking for secret doors that aren't there. Multiple objects in a search area could easily be covered in my square by square search, in that whenever a trap or secret door is found the search check can be re-rolled before continuing the rest of the turn.

A search conducted square by square according to the Hero’s movement roll, sounds like a nightmare to track, picture this in operation in the central 5x6 room, 30 squares in total. Not only would this take a single Hero between 3 and 15 turns to complete a search of the room, but if multiple Heroes are joining in, then how would you track which squares have already been searched, to avoid the Heroes simply wasting effort searching squares that have already been searched and still failing to work out what squares are remaining that haven’t been searched.

The other reason why I’m not fond of this option is that a player rolling the movement dice and moving their Hero step by step up to the number of squares indicated, revealing traps and secret doors on the way, sounds to me a lot more like a description of ‘moving’ than a description of ‘searching’ hence my decision to include finding of traps and secret doors into the movement rules rather than the search action. This removes the need to track every square that has been covered because squares that contain traps you don’t step on, don't matter


Tracking could get a bit iffy, but honestly most of the rooms aren't that big, and since you can't search with monsters present I just don't feel like it would be -that- difficult to keep things sorted out.

Of course it sounds like moving, because it's a full-turn action which includes movement. The difference is that you're taking your time and examining everything as you go, rather than simply walking (or running) along.

I will say that it may be expedient to alter the roll for movement rule. 2 - 12 squares always felt too swingy to me anyway. It's definitely frustrating to players when they're just trying to get from one area of the dungeon to another and keep rolling low. I might go with, when your total movement roll is less than 5 you may change the low die to a 4. (only change one die if doubles are rolled). Obviously if one is under a condition that reduces movement to one die, that die roll cannot be changed.
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Re: Search – The Binding Topic

Postby Kurgan » Sunday February 5th, 2023 3:26pm

I agree that detecting traps is a "safe" activity in the NA/Remake rules. There's no reason to ever NOT search an area for traps (unless it has already been searched or it's the Trial where there are no trapped squares). The mechanic is "defeated" in part by later expansions by simply having traps that are not detectable, EVEN by searching ("so well hidden"). Likewise (even in the Trial unless Zargon decides to go easy on them and remove these cards from the deck first), the "Hazard" cards are completely unblockable. You take damage from these even if you already searched the room for traps (yes, "Treasure Without Doom" is a rare artifact you can find in the Elf pack, but that's it, and the usage is of course limited).

One question to keep in mind when changing the rules around is... what is my goal? Am I trying to make the game more difficult (it's too easy)? There's more than one way to increase the difficulty. Is the game going too slowly (there's more than one way to speed it up)? Is it not conforming to some standard I have from some other game, perhaps? There's not necessarily a right or wrong answer here but it helps to think about that when making the adjustments.


Some people find the fact that you can search a room multiple times for Treasure in the NA rules silly or stupid and want to change it, but do these people instead want to support the homebrew rule that each piece of furniture can be searched individually? You could rationalize it many ways but one game I had a group that was talking through that (ironically or because they legit imagined it that way)... first hero opens the chest and removes the treasure... second hero finds a false bottom in the chest with more treasure underneath the first one missed... next hero looks under the chest to find some more treasure hidden there too! Then again maybe that hidden panel could have a hazard inside it. Maybe the heroes are taking so long to gather treasure that they didn't notice the monster sneaking up slowly towards their position in the shadows and BOOM! Wandering Monster. So if your group requires that kind of "flavor" to make it more interesting, I say role-play and embelish the heck out of it! |_P

I find that when arguments about realism or historical accuracy come up, we have to kind of take a step back and realize this is still a fantasy board game (clearly meant to be inspired by other media properties like Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian, not just Warhammer Fantasy) whose target demographic is pre-teens ("age 14 and up" in the remake is due to "pointy bits" not mature content). HeroQuest gives you the freedom to tinker with the game and make it as simple or complex as you want, but to me what trumps all that is simple "fun." I realize of course that we may never agree on precisely what is the most "fun" way to play the game beyond how it was originally written...

Certain issues in HeroQuest simply will be debated forever. Some people love it one way, but hate it another and others the reverse (look up borin's armor or the crossbow sometime... how certain spells should work, and more recently even the rule about "how a hero escapes death" or even complaints that in the EU edition you couldn't hoard potions but in the NA edition that is encouraged). Sometimes it's a matter of the official rules being a little vague or confusion over regional variants of the game being different from one another. Other times its simply a matter of the rules being intended one way and players not liking it in some cases. The beauty of HeroQuest is that there's no need for there to be a universal agreement on how these disputes should be resolved, except that which is proposed in the games themselves (as spelled out in the Elf and Barbarian Quest packs), ZARGON (the GM) DECIDES! Using his or her experience and knowledge, the buck stops with the GM, even if another GM might rule another way on another day.

TL:DR? But let grumpy uncle zargon take another crack at it!
We've probably played over 100 hours of HeroQuest with members of the community (at least 80 via HeroQuestFans on Twitch and probably another 20 or so before that on Zoom during the pandemic), so I think I have a bit of a perspective not just limited to what we played in my household growing up.

I've found that each hero likes to accumulate Treasure, not just fight (the reason you search is to fulfill that end!). Treasure is not just points, it's also what you use to "level up" your character, so to speak.

Early on you need gold to survive, so rewards are given for completing quests, later on you have to search for it, period (compare the GS which gives a lot of gold, vs KK/ROTWL which give very little except as a reward for completion of the quest pack). Early on you spend your gold on armor and weapons, later on you spend it on potions and mercenaries (which you WILL need). The Wizard and Dwarf packs were never released so if just playing the official quests, gold will be finite, but plentiful if you are efficient in your searches.

I have tried in the past to "shorten" the game by offering Trap & Secret Door searches at the same time. It ended up not really making any discernable difference. Secret doors are pretty rare and it takes no time at all to say "searching for secret doors/no secret doors" and move on to the next turn. The room is cleared of monsters and one person might be 6-7 squares behind the group (if they don't wait for them) as a result, at worst. If the Heroes "forget" to search for Secret Doors until near the end of the quest, they can miss something, but this rarely occurs.

I have buffed out my treasure deck slightly (adding approximately 10 extra cards... formerly I was nearly doubling the number of cards) ensuring things stay varied but also that there is still danger in searching but also risk for reward. Unlike a lot of people I don't shuffle before each and every search but once at the start of the quest (in violation of what the 1990 rules actually say, I realize).

Unmarked Treasure chests are the same as an empty room or a room with any other furniture. In principle Treasure chests are supposed to be a clue that there is treasure (OR a furniture trap!), but due to oversights by the quest writers, certain quests simply contain treasure chests with no note. An infamous example of this is in Lair of the Orc Warlord. It was fine in the Euoprean original and 2nd edition, but in the NA edition, the note was removed by accident and a trap placed next to the chest (which is pointless, because there is no mechanic requiring a Hero to approach adjacent to a chest to either search it or acquire whatever was found within... and there's no note, so there's even less point in this). The EU edition intended there to be a vague trap on the chest (doesn't say what type) that removes 1 BP if not disarmed before searching, and it contains 100 gold coins. The remake edition repeated the 1990 NA edition error verbatim.

The EQP (Mage of the Mirror) was also infamous for unmarked Treasure chests. In the remake edition Avalon Hill gave a general rule that "Elven Riches" are found by the first searcher anytime an unmarked treasure chest is located of 200 gold coins... but they removed the necessity of this rule by actually putting things in the few unmarked chests that were carried over from the 1992 original.

I freely admit that Zargon can do whatever he likes to try to improve the game and people disagree over exactly how to go about that. Technically disarming a trap doesn't require expending any squares of your movement phase in this edition, so theoretically a corridor that was blocked off with multiple traps could be "leap frogged" by a hero disarming the last one in the row simply by designating the square. Zargon could choose not to allow this by stating that he feels moving to the trap later in the row would automatically trigger the ones he passes to get there and require him to disarm the first trap in the sequence first (fair enough). That's Zargon's call to make if he feels the heroes are exploiting a loophole in the rules to cheat.

Explicitly there is NO WAY in the rules to disarm a trap unless you are in the same room or corridor with it. Like the ability of heroes to "block the door" and force monsters and bottleneck monsters, this is a feature not a bug. The trap on the square opposite an open door simply cannot be disarmed and that's to make things harder. There is also NO mechanic to "jump" the square to avoid a potential trap there in the basic rules or in any official release.

HOWEVER (and thanks lucapaschi) the designer drafts for the Elf and Barbarian (and Wizard and Dwarf) quest packs intended originally (or at least discussed the possibility but it was not included in the final version) to allow a hero to jump ANY square, just as if he knew a Trap was there from searching beforehand. This allows a hero to FINALLY have a defense against the "open door square with potential trap on the other side" issue that has been present since the beginning of HeroQuest (it was purposely intended as a risk, but it becomes very cheap and annoying after awhile... since you can only use pass through rock to skip the door one time!). Another rule was proposed in the draft of the Elf Quest pack (but not limited to the Elf character, in theory any good guy could do it), that of the "double jump." A character could choose to jump TWO squares in a row (even if he hadn't proven there were traps on those squares by searching beforehand), by rolling a white shield (failure means they land on the first square and take the consequences). Jumping a square doesn't require an action of course and monsters always automatically jump traps successfully.

As far as unthreatened movement, I found that in general it doesn't really speed up the game very much in most quests, though some players like it, many simply forget that they can use it and end up rolling. Instead of giving them part of it as Avalon Hill suggested when no monsters are on the board, I simply have allowed full movement (1 die movement = 6 squares, 2 dice = 12 squares; plus any bonuses like Potion of Dexterity or Snowshoes of speed, etc so yes Swift Wind would be potentially 24 or more squares!).

Many aspects of the game people have issues with, but everyone has different issues and different solutions. My nostalgia focuses me on playing the game as closely as I remember to the fun of it as a kid, but with modifications for the rules I didn't formerly understand and while I search for fixes first from "official sources" I don't always agree with those.

For example I follow the Crossbow behavior found in the Japanese edition (where the surrounding 8 squares could not be hit by the weapon but those squares beyond could, that is a gap of at least one square in between the shooter and the target following unobstructed LOS) rather than what Avalon Hill has "officially" stated on twitter (that it has the same powers as a longsword in terms of hitting diagonal squares which I think diminishes that weapon).

Others may disagree with me and do other things. As Zargon I have the final say over disputes over the rules, but I even even adopted a house rule wherein if a player can give me a plausible action within the fantasy universe (but not usually allowed by the rules) I will give them a 50% chance of success (with possible negative consequences, depending upon my mood and the situation) determined by a die roll. I call it the "Uncommon Feat." Strictly a house rule of course!

Bottom line is that Zargon makes the call. I shouldn't have to resort to Twitter to find a rule clarification, and the official Companion App, as useful as it can be, is not always a reliable guide to clarifying rules not clarified elsewhere (it contains a few oddities of its own). Your table, your call, and when another Zargon is in charge, it might go another way. Being able to adapt on the fly is a strength of any good GM, and sometimes even in HeroQuest you have to do it. I agree also that it's better to hash out these ideas in places like forums first... because nobody likes a "rules lawyer" at the table or the type of immersion breaking debates that could break out potentially. I'm conscious of this fact whenever I am playing with the community because I realize others may have played the game for years with their family one way, different than I did, etc. :2cents: :2cents: :2cents:


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Re: Search – The Binding Topic

Postby Kurgan » Sunday February 5th, 2023 6:07pm

All that said, these kind of discussions and debates are one of the things that keeps me coming back to these forums ;) I enjoy the give and take and seeing the various arguments and perspectives. |_P


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Re: Search – The Binding Topic

Postby Markus Darwath » Monday February 6th, 2023 6:27am

Kurgan wrote:I agree that detecting traps is a "safe" activity in the NA/Remake rules. There's no reason to ever NOT search an area for traps


Rushing to the aid of another hero who's gotten into trouble comes to mind. Or when one opens a door or turns a corner and discovers a monster.. its presence temporarily precludes searching that area, but tactical considerations may force the heroes to move around in the unsearched space to engage.

One question to keep in mind when changing the rules around is... what is my goal? Am I trying to make the game more difficult (it's too easy)? There's more than one way to increase the difficulty. Is the game going too slowly (there's more than one way to speed it up)? Is it not conforming to some standard I have from some other game, perhaps? There's not necessarily a right or wrong answer here but it helps to think about that when making the adjustments.


Other than basic clarification of things that are vague, in house-ruling HeroQuest my goal is the (often contradictory) targets of streamlining play while maintaining or increasing fantasy immersion. Yes, it's a board game, but I don't view it in the same category as Monopoly or Life

Unlike a lot of people I don't shuffle before each and every search but once at the start of the quest (in violation of what the 1990 rules actually say, I realize).


I take the in-between approach and do a quick reshuffle when a card is drawn that gets returned to the deck. Of if I'm being lazy I'll just stick the returned card into a random spot in the deck and continue relying on the previous shuffle. I don't see a need to reshuffle when actual treasure is drawn because it won't actually affect the distribution of the cards under it

Explicitly there is NO WAY in the rules to disarm a trap unless you are in the same room or corridor with it.


Absolutely. In fact, other than chest traps you have to actually be standing on the trapped square to attempt a disarm. But "realistically" there's no reason you would have to actually step on a trap in order to simply see that it's there, and a detected trap doesn't need to be disarmed if it's not in the way.

There is also NO mechanic to "jump" the square to avoid a potential trap there in the basic rules or in any official release.


Not explicitly, but there is a rule for jumping pits. In theory, if you can jump over a hole in the floor there should be no reason you can't also jump over an equally sized section of plain old floor. Since traps can be disarmed using tool kits and/or Dwarven mechanical aptitude, the implication would be that their triggers are mechanical in nature and thus subject to contact avoidance.
Last edited by Markus Darwath on Monday February 6th, 2023 3:32pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Search – The Binding Topic

Postby Markus Darwath » Monday February 6th, 2023 6:34am

Kurgan wrote:All that said, these kind of discussions and debates are one of the things that keeps me coming back to these forums ;) I enjoy the give and take and seeing the various arguments and perspectives. |_P


Same here. Arguments (in the debate sense of the word) over how to "best" approach things and why are a good way to test one's reasoning and gain additional insight.
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