Before my great 2012 clearout I dusted off DungeonQuest for some final adventures into Dragonfire Castle before calling it a day on this old classic. Even as a kid, back in the day I always felt there was something missing from DungeonQuest. It was fun for a quick blast of mostly comedy gaming but meatier dungeon crawl games soon took over and DQ began to gather a thick layer of dust.
I was lucky enough to pick up the Heroes expansion but never managed to track down Catacombs, which looked like the most interesting expansion to be fair. So we had a host of fodder – sorry, ‘Heroes’ - to choose from for this retro nostalgia adventure, but we decided to stick with the base game Heroes instead. It had been nearly two decades since I last played and I couldn’t be bothered to read all the individual character rules...
We played a series of two player games and to start off with I chose Volrik, who was always my old favourite. He just seemed a bit more amiable, and maybe less pretentious somehow. KG chose the far more pretentious El Adoran. The game lasted about 20 minutes as I nipped through rooms and chambers making my way steadily towards the treasure chamber and lucking out by bagging a series of corridor tiles. Eventually my progress was altered and I was sent off course, the tiles forbidding me from ever reaching the dragon’s hoard. My strange journey took me to the other side of the castle and out of one of the other corner towers. I killed a goblin and an orc and managed to escape the dungeon with a paltry 230gp and just a few scratches to show for my troubles. KG took a wrong turn, fired all of his arrows at enemies as quickly as he could, had his HP whittled away, and ended up getting horribly lost. The doors of Dragonfire Castle slammed shut as night fell and Mr Adoran was forever trapped in the dungeon’s depths. All hail to Volrik, the King amongst peasants!
Next up I took Sir Rohan of Rohanland whilst KG decided upon the barbaric warrior Ulv, whose name was onomatopoeiac for sick-making sounds. Which was fairly ironic because he died of throwing up after a centipede poisoned him to bits in an early room. Were one to ransack his bloated, poisoned corpse - as one is often wont to do in DungeonQuest - it would reveal a meagre 40gp. Barely even worth the deadly infection you’d invariably contract in the act. Sir Rohan meanwhile laughed at the distant, weakening screams of his adventuring competitor and as Ulv called for his mummy (Ulva) and painfully expired, Rohan gleefully counted up the 290gp in his pouch, strolled into a room and looked up to stare into the face of a Death Warrior. Aptly named it were, as it impaled him upon its mighty, spiky sword. None were to leave Dragonfire Castle that day.
Next into the grinder, and undeterred by the continual murdering of previous adventurers, Vikas and Rohan (Jr presumably) stepped up to the plate. KG’s Rohan followed in the footsteps of his father and found only death and doom in the dimness of the dungeons. The 120gp in his pockets was little consolation as Dragonfire’s doors slammed shut and trapped him in the darkness. Vikas – yours truly btw - meanwhile played total chickenshit and just hung around the entrance way, jumping at noises and staying within eye sight of the exit door. After finding a gem worth 50gp in an old boot Vikas darted back out the doorway stammering the words, “Screw this!” It could hardly be called a victory as Vikas was exiled by the local peasants shortly afterwards for being a totally cowardly custard.
Our final two player game saw a penniless Siegfried (myself) step into the dark and get instantly stabbed in the back by a Sneaky Orc. As he gasped his last, Vikas the coward (played by KG this time) was thrown into another entrance by the angry villagers. With no recourse but to face his demons he wandered the depths of the horrible, horrible castle and desperately waved his sword around him as goblins and trolls reached for his tasty, tasty flesh. Screaming like a girl he raced down corridors towards another tower exit. Finally stumbling upon an abandoned crypt, he ransacked the tombs of the dead and took 370gp’ worth of necklaces and rings from the poor corpses. Stuffing it all into his jerkin he raced for the exit and escaped, not even considering heading towards the Treasure Chamber and sleeping dragon. With his haul he’d finally be able to buy a ticket out of this town and away from the abusive accusations of cowardice from the locals...
Thus ended our final adventures in Dragonfire Castle. Measly victories and gruesome deaths, the universally recognisable hallmarks of any DQ adventure!
Over the next few days, before wrapping it all up for eBay I played a bunch of solo games to see how I’d fare in my super final adventures, and had a series of notable victories, but mostly defeats:
Volrik 3,650gp – 1LP – DIED on last turn at sundown after trying to haul off bags of treasure from the Dragon’s chamber, also forgot to take a Magic Ring along!
Volrik 10gp – 2LP – WON with just 2 turns left after beating both a Death Warrior and a Spider
Volrik 490gp – 2LP – WON with just 3 turns left
Sir Rohan 0gp - 7LP – Turn 10, DIED fell into a bottomless pit to his doom
Ulv 10gp – 2LP – Turn 19, DIED stepped into a Rotating Room which rotated into a wall
El Adoran 4,130gp + rope – 6LP, 0 arrows remaining, Turn 19, DIED used his Transform ring to turn a corridor into a Rotating Room which rotated into a wall
Siegfried 0gp – 0LP – Turn 11, DIED found some Rope, then got killed by a Death Warrior
Vikas 2,910gp + rope – 12LP – DIED Turn 16, Room Rotated into a Bottomless Pit, fell to his doom
Roland 420gp – 0LP – DIED Turn 14, killed by a Sneaky Troll
Farendil 4,000gp – 0LP – DIED Turn 15, killed by a Sneaky Death Warrior
Ironhand 0gp – 14LP – DIED Turn 9, Death by Bottomless Pit
Rildo 2,760gp – 5LP – WON Turn 23, escaped with 1 dagger remaining!
Helena 30gp – 0LP – DIED Turn 11, killed by an Orc
Helena 2,260gp – 1LP – WON Turn 14, made it to the treasure chamber and ran for the win!
And that was the end of that! I have mixed feelings about letting it go but game space is at a premium in our house now. And were it not for these final efforts at beasting the heck out of the game DQ might not have seen the light of day for another 20 years. A great, simple, little game, but very much of its time, and now massively over-shadowed by games like the far superior D&D Adventure System board games. Plus if I ever feel the need to revisit Dragonfire Castle I can always pick up the updated FFG version of the game (and ignore their awful looking, overly complex combat system).
So long, DungeonQuest – and thanks for the memories!