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Hasbro's Heroquest and Chaosium’s Role in the Board Game’s Return

The HeroQuest board game is returning soon from Hasbro. However, there’s a little more depth to this story as Chaosium had a part to play. As I have in the past (here and here), I sat down with Michael O’Brien, Vice President of Chaosium Inc., to discuss their role in this project and its impact on their RPG, HeroQuest.

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EGG EMBRY (EGG): Hasbro has a big announcement to share, an announcement that could only have happened with Chaosium’s cooperation, would you care to do the honors?
MICHAEL O’BRIEN (MOB)
: We’ll leave the big board game news to Avalon Hill-Hasbro, suffice it to say Moon Design Publications (part of Chaosium) has formally transferred ownership of the HeroQuest trademark to Hasbro. We know that the old Milton Bradley HeroQuest board game has many devoted fans who would love to see it back in print once again. The transfer of the HeroQuest trademark to Hasbro is a significant step towards that becoming a reality.

EGG: So, the return of the HeroQuest board game would not have happened without Chaosium?
MOB
: Yes, Hasbro owns the copyright to the original HeroQuest board game, its rulebook, its miniatures, the board, and so on. But after the game went out of print in the late 1990s the HeroQuest trademark was left to lapse. Chaosium founder Greg Stafford took up the HeroQuest trademark in 2001 for a completely different project. Now, nearly 20 years later, the HeroQuest trademark is back with Hasbro.

EGG: HeroQuest is too good a name to abandon. Can you share some of the history of the term “heroquest”?
MOB
: The term “HeroQuest” has entirely different meanings and connotations for the Milton Bradley board game and for Greg Stafford’s tabletop RPG. For Greg, a “heroquest” describes a transformative journey in which a quester enters the realm of the gods to reenact a myth, returning with gifts or special knowledge. Greg started using that term in the 1970s, and in 1979, at the back of the RuneQuest 2nd Edition rulebook, announced Chaosium was working on a version of RuneQuest called “HeroQuest”, exploring these themes. But Greg’s game was a very long time in development, and before it was published Games Workshop/Milton Bradley trademarked and released their board game HeroQuest, in 1989. Which is so-named because it is about Heroes going into a dungeon on a Quest. Because his preferred title ‘HeroQuest’ was no longer available, Greg eventually published his RPG in 2000 as Hero Wars.

EGG: Hasbro let the trademark lapse, Greg copyrighted it, used it for the HeroQuest RPG, and now it’s completed the cycle and returned Hasbro. How did the return journey to Hasbro come about?
MOB
: Yes, the journey was a bit of a heroquest in itself! Games Workshop/Milton Bradley’s HeroQuest board game was out of print by 1997, with the trademark lapsing in 1999. Greg learned of this in 2001. He applied for and was granted the now-vacant trademark. In 2003, he finally published a new version of his Hero Wars RPG with the name he always wanted – HeroQuest. Moon Design Publications became the licensed publisher of Greg Stafford's HeroQuest RPG in 2006, producing a second edition of the game in 2009. Then, in 2012, Moon Design Publications purchased the HeroQuest trademark and other related IP from Greg Stafford. Moon Design joined Greg Stafford as part of the ownership of Chaosium in 2015. That year HeroQuest Glorantha was published. This edition set the HeroQuest rules in Greg Stafford’s world of Glorantha. In July 2020, Moon Design Publications formally transferred the HeroQuest trademark to Hasbro (who own Milton Bradley, and hence the copyright of the HeroQuest board game).

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EGG: By giving up the HeroQuest name that leaves your HeroQuest RPG in search of a name, what’s its replacement?
MOB
: Now that we have sold the trademark to Hasbro, we are in the process of rebadging our HeroQuest RPG line as “Questworlds”. Only the logo is changing; the game system, originally designed by Robin Laws, remains the same. The process already started earlier this year in April with the release of the QuestWorlds System Reference Document. The QuestWorlds SRD enables independent publishers to use the HeroQuest RPG core rules system for other game worlds and settings. We’re currently selling off existing printed stocks bearing the HeroQuest mark at a substantial discount. If you want a book with the HeroQuest logo on it, you should purchase these print releases while you can! As part of our transfer agreement with Hasbro we can sell them for a limited time. But once these books are taken down from sale they will be out-of-print permanently.

EGG: Questworlds is a strong name with a clear connection to the original. What plans do you have to make sure everyone is aware of the line rebranding?
MOB
: The two logos are very similar, that should help! We’ll also be sharing the news on our social channels and in our newsletter Ab Chaos.

EGG: Beyond the rebranding, what’s next for QuestWorlds?
MOB
: As a rules-light RPG system that facilitates beginning play easily, and resolves conflicts in play quickly, the Questworlds (formerly HeroQuest) engine is suitable for a wide variety of genres and play styles. Chaosium will be publishing genre packs for QuestWorlds under its ‘Worlds of Wonder’ brand as examples of what is possible with the system. For the first of the new Worlds of Wonder genre packs for the QuestWorlds system we are fortunate to have enlisted Diana Jones Award-winning designer and theorist Ron Edwards, creator of the influential and acclaimed Sorcerer RPG. Ron was an early champion of the Hero Wars engine (the precursor to HeroQuest/Questworlds) and is a huge fan of the superhero genre, so we asked him to combine his two passions in a genre pack called Cosmic Zap. Other publishers, creators, and fans may also use the QuestWorlds system to create genre packs of their own, royalty-free, using the QuestWorlds System Reference Document (SRD).

EGG: Are there any aspects of the board game that Chaosium is involved in crafting? Any other collaborations between Chaosium and Hasbro in that you can discuss?
MOB:
The HeroQuest board game has many devoted fans, and like them we’re happy to see it coming back in print again. But other than transferring the trademark, Chaosium isn’t involved in its development in any way.

EGG: Congratulations on helping to restore a fan favorite board game. Where can fans learn more about Chaosium, Questworlds RPG, and Hasbro’s HeroQuest board game?
MOB
: For what’s next with HeroQuest, check out Hasbro’s board game subsidiary Avalon Hill. They have set up a dedicated website for the game. For the Questwords Roleplaying Game and System Reference Document, we have dedicated website. And for Chaosium, and all the other games we publish (Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, Pendragon, 7th Sea, and more) there’s our website.
 
Egg Embry

Egg Embry

Retreater

Legend
I backed the Mythic Tier level. I have been waiting for this for around 30 years. Sure, it's pricey, but compared to all the money I spent on other dungeon crawlers trying to mimic the feel of HeroQuest, this is a bargain.
It's got (seemingly) higher production values than the original, and it's not out of line with the price of other dungeon crawlers, so I'm fine with the cost of it.
If you want cheap miniatures and an affordable entry level game, I guess that D&D boardgame is an option?
 

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Retreater

Legend
Tangent: Wasn't there a video game that had to change its name from Hero Quest because of this as well.
I remember the game Dragon Quest having to change its name in America to Dragon Warrior because of the TSR D&D Boardgame. But maybe there was another game called Hero Quest too?

Just looked through the models and disappointed there's no fimir in this reboot (probably because they are Games Workshop IP). Loved those weirdos.
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Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I think Heroquest is a better entry level dungeon crawler than those examples, even if they are better games in general. That's Heroquest's real advantage IMO, which is why its such a shame that the price point completely undercuts that. All it really leaves is the nostalgic old fan market.
I used Hero Quest as the first volley in getting my soon-to-be-7yo into TTRPGs about 2 years ago. We still play it sometimes, but generally we play D&D these days.

Honestly the price point isn't out of line at all for what it buys, and there are at least SOME new adventures, according to an interview linked on the product page. And since the project is almost 75% funded less than 11 hours after its launch, I have no doubt it's going to hit its stretch goals too.

The upgraded miniatures and especially the upgraded furniture make it a no brainier for me. Even with the $30 shipping.
 

Paragon Lost

Terminally Lost
Supporter
I used Hero Quest as the first volley in getting my soon-to-be-7yo into TTRPGs about 2 years ago. We still play it sometimes, but generally we play D&D these days.

Honestly the price point isn't out of line at all for what it buys, and there are at least SOME new adventures, according to an interview linked on the product page. And since the project is almost 75% funded less than 11 hours after its launch, I have no doubt it's going to hit its stretch goals too.

The upgraded miniatures and especially the upgraded furniture make it a no brainier for me. Even with the $30 shipping.

Hehe, I'll admit that I considered it just for the figures myself. :)
 


I remember the game Dragon Quest having to change its name in America to Dragon Warrior because of the TSR D&D Boardgame.

Only until 2005, when Dragon Quest VIII was released in the US. After that, all games in the series are called Dragon Quest, including rereleases of the earlier games. Square Enix registered the Dragon Quest trademark in the US in 2002. So it looks like WotC let the Dragon Quest and HeroQuest trademarks lapse at about the same time, at the end of the 90's. And it was not a boardgame, it was an RPG originally published by SPI and then TSR bought SPI. It was an interesting system, as it did not use classes, like D&D, but was rather skills-based, making it an alternative to the D&D system.
 

Now Hasbro needs an "product emplacement" of the Hero Quest in some Disney or Netflix production.

What expansions after Kellar's Keep and the return of the witch lord? In Europe were sold "Against the hordes of ogres" and "the sorcerers of Morcar", but in America different titles.

Will we see expansion based in crossover franchises? for example legend of Zelda.

I can imagine HQ characters and monsters as skins in Fortnite. Hasbro and Epic Games would dare to do it.

* If Gamezone company is broken, could Hasbro buy the rights of its designs for its failed aniversary edition? Something like limited edition for collectors.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I’m not entirely convinced about the ‘Questworlds’ title, although it may grow on me. I always felt that the system would be ideal to make a new version of Super World though - it scales really well for Superpowers while being much more simple to use than many other game systems for that genre.
 



macd21

Adventurer
Seems a bit unfair considering the UK/Europe/AU/NZ version came first....

I'm assuming it will hit other markets eventually, even if they are persisting with the whole "Zargon" thing. That's the dude from Lost City. The villain of Hero Quest is Morcar, no matter what those yanks say!

There’s been some speculation that there might be IP issues with selling it outside the US, but I also imagine they may be holding off on an international option because of the added distribution headaches it would require.
 



Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Theyre only shipping to the U.S. and Canada, and not even to Quebec. $30 shipping seems extremely high as I cant imagine it weighing all that much or the box/packaging being overly large. What's the justification for such a high shipping cost?

The box is much bigger than the original, which makes sense since there are no cardstock miniatures; everything is plastic/resin including the doors,tables, etc.

Production is also probably still in China/Asia, so COVID shipping hassles will still apply.

What expansions after Kellar's Keep and the return of the witch lord? In Europe were sold "Against the hordes of ogres" and "the sorcerers of Morcar", but in America different titles.
I hope they update/relaunch all the supplements, though the only ones currently listed are the first two from the U.S. It would be nice to get updated sets for Against the Ogre Horde, Wizards of Morcar, Mage of the Mirror, The Frozen Horror, and possibly new expansions focused on the Dwarf and more firmly on the Wizard as well.
 

HeroQuest was my introduction to D&D. My parents wouldn't let me play real D&D, because they'd heard in Church that D&D was bad. . .but HQ had "Dungeons and Dragons" nowhere on the box, so it was okay.

For Junior High and HS that was my main D&D-like entertainment. I bought all four expansions. . .not just the widely known Kellar's Keep and Return of the Witch Lord, but the more obscure Barbarian and Elf expansions that were made, and I bought a second core set to have more miniatures and furniture and doors.

When I went off to college, all that became the seed material for me and tabletop gaming. To this day I still heavily use ~30 year old HeroQuest minis as lots of generic minis for D&D. If I'm DM'ing, you can bet if you encounter a pack of orcs or goblins, a bunch of skeletons or zombies or mummies, a gargoyle, they're going to be repped with HQ minis. . .and those Chaos Warriors make real good evil-enemy-soldier minis and the fimir minis were my stock lizardmen as well (and this mini selection meant that skeletons, zombies, lizardmen, goblins, orcs and enemy soldiers have long been my stock enemies in running D&D). The dungeons will probably have HQ furniture and treasure chests in them, and so on.

Before the aftermarket prices on HQ started to soar through the roof I even found a complete and intact set at a flea market that I keep around, so I have the game not so well worn as the sets I played with so long and use for parts for D&D.

This is seriously tempting, but the price is a little discouraging as well. I'm presuming a lot of the price is the upgrade in quality of miniatures and furniture though.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
There's an article on Polygon about it too:

The new version of HeroQuest is a faithful remake of the classic board game

Looks like just a straight remake for the initial set, plus some preorder exclusives. And they straight up say that this initial launch is to placate fans of the original. I guess if it's successful it'll hit retail next year.

The new quest book with adventures is s stretch goal at the $2M mark, though since the project has almost hit its $1M funding goal less than 24 hours into a 45-day campaign I think it's safe to predict we will hit all the SGs.
 

I'm
The box is much bigger than the original, which makes sense since there are no cardstock miniatures; everything is plastic/resin including the doors,tables, etc.

Production is also probably still in China/Asia, so COVID shipping hassles will still apply.


I hope they update/relaunch all the supplements, though the only ones currently listed are the first two from the U.S. It would be nice to get updated sets for Against the Ogre Horde, Wizards of Morcar, Mage of the Mirror, The Frozen Horror, and possibly new expansions focused on the Dwarf and more firmly on the Wizard as well.

Interesting that Against the Ogre Horde and Wizards of Morcar were never released in the US originally. (You can tell from the name - it's Wizards of Morcar, not Wizards of Zargon.) Equally Mage of the Mirror and The Frozen Horror were never released outside of the US. Those two are incredibly rare and expensive to get. (They are the only expansions I don't have)
 


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