Heroquest Battlemap #11: The Bastion of Dread

While I’m still struggling to find a good way to make the full-sized versions of these maps available on this site, I went ahead and made the next Heroquest Dungeondraft map. Quest 11 is a happy return to a more cohesive map, as opposed to Quest 10‘s wacky concept.

Interpreting the maps and making decisions

The NL and US maps this week are almost similar, which is quite surprising! Both the number of enemies as well as the number of traps are identical, which hasn’t happened much. In fact, nearly all details in the maps are the same, with the exception of the left-most hallway being slightly longer in the US version (probably for purely visual reasons).

The maps show an interesting division of labor. There are quite some goblins and orcs on the map, with a few chaos warriors. In most cases, the chaos warriors appear to be in some manner of adminstrative position: there is one near the throne in the center of the map; one in the mid-left next to an alchemy table; one to the right near a cabinet; and one next to the weapons rack. It seems like the chaos warriors here are the administrative or ruling arm of the map. The fimirs, by contrast, are only present in the top-left, in the two adjoining rooms next to the torture room. It seems that the fimirs, then, are used as some kind of muscle or police force. Lastly, the orcs and goblins are spread out throughout the map, so they appear to some form of working class in this structure.Information from the flavor text

This division of labor helps us establish themes for the individual structures. It seems like the three top-left rooms, then, are some manner of policing area. Torture chamber to interrogate prisoners, along with a room for a bailiff or reeve, next to a storage area. The bottom right appears to be a bit of a mix: weapons storage at the bottom-left, general storage top-left, and an empty room bottom-right of that cluster. Overall, I imagine this to be a workspace/storage mix, hence the need for both admin and workers. Lastly, the bottom-left appears to host most of the goblins and orcs. It makes sense, given that this is a bastion, that this is where most of the front-liners would be. So, probably, this is a guard room, entrance, along with rest area. The top-left of that little block would probably be a lieutenant or other such administrator. That, of course, leaves the central room for overall admin and control.

Overall, this map has a very strong organizational feel to me. It’s almost like a central office area to administrate a small municipality (well, aside from the torture chamber, I’d sincerely hope). Overall, I tend to enjoy humanizing these maps in any case, so it might be a fun thing to lean into for this map.

Information from the flavor text

The two texts are mostly the same, being an announcement of a bounty for the murder of multiple creatures in this defensive structure. As always, there are the slight differences due to the trademark change (Chaos versus Dread), but those are largely irrelevant.

There’s an interesting word difference between the NL and US version as to what this place should be called. The NL version uses the word “Bolwerk“, which is cognate with English “Bulwark”. In fact, the English “bulwark” comes from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German “bolwerk”, which is itself composed of “bole”, a word for tree trunks, and “work”, to indicate structures or constructions. This is an old word to indicate defensive structures like walls or ramparts. The US version, by contrast, uses “Bastion”, which is French in origin, coming from the Old French “bastille” meaning “fortress”.

A larger version of the US text

The Bulwark of Chaos

The eastern provinces are plagued by plundering Orcs and Kobolds. The King has ordered a group of brave heroes to journey there and destroy these robbers. The orcs are holed up in a strong underground fort, named The Bulwark of Chaos. They are led by a small group of Chaos Warriors. Ye must fight your way inside and kill all monsters that you meet. You will receive the following bounties for this: 10 gold pieces for any slain Kobold, 20 gold pieces for any slain Orc, 30 gold pieces for any slain Fimir or Chaos Warrior.

My translation of the NL text

The core meaning of both texts are pretty much identical: the King sends out adventurers to collect on a set of bounties placed on bandits’ heads. A curious difference, though, is that the US text makes sure to note that the bandits have allied themselves with Zargon, which should give an excuse as to why the heroes are fine to go out and murder all of them in cold blood. The NL text, however, makes no mention of alliance to Morcar. For the NL version, the heroes should just be motivated by pure greed and bloodlust. Yikes!

The text does confirm our interpretation of the map, as it explicitly lists that a group of Chaos/Dread Warriors lead the others. So, interestingly, while this is a group of bandits, they have a formalized administrative structure, as well as a fortified base of operations. So, unlike previous bands of roaming orcs that we’ve featured in maps, now we’re dealing with a far more militaristic operation. This will be good to translate into the final map!

Translating into a final map

I was very much looking forward to making this map, as there were so many good ideas to put in there. I loved the idea of on the one hand making this a militaristic operation and on the other hand humanizing it through some basic office features.

The militaristic nature of it can be seen in a few places: the group of rooms at the bottom-left are quite functional in nature: the entrance room is dark and defended, because the creatures of the dark will have the advantage over heroes sneaking in from above. There is a small guard room to the right, and a rest area to the left, to facilitate shifts. Similarly, the area on the bottom-right is functional and spartan: storage and organization form the key here. The top right is also filled with administrative items to emphasize the utility.

Each place, however, is also tinged with office life. The rooms on the botom-left have guards slacking off and playing cards in the middle room, and there’s some flags from somebody’s birthday party two months ago still hanging in the rest area (an office staple, that). The top-left area has a little roped-off waiting area where you have to register before being allowed to see the bailiff, who can interview you before you’re allowed in to the prison area. Similarly, the central room has some snacks laid out for all those late afternoon planning sessions in the throne room. Somebody has to prepare those snacks, so of course you’d have the kitchen nearby to the right.

Giving this little map some life has been tremendously fun by bringing in those little details. I also took some cues from previous map, and I laid in some stones and moss here and there to bring a little variation in the hallways to break up the monotony. The only thing I was wondering about was whether I should put torches in the hallways at regular distances, but when I thought about it I realized it would distract from the rooms themselves. On top of that, since most of the creatures in here would see fairly well in the dark, I figured it wouldn’t be that necessary.

The final map for The Bastion of Dread. I chose to keep it relatively dark to make the map feel more oppressive. I’m quite happy with the fun little details in this one!

It’d be a shame to miss all these little details, so for a larger version of this map, you can look at the Reddit post about it:

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