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Unarmed Combat In HeroQuest

Thanks to John Burnham for his help!

In the Return of the Witch Lord quest pack, quest #6, Halls of the Dead, the Witch Lord has captured the Heroes. The Wizard and Dwarf wake in a small cell, separated from the Barbarian and Elf. Their weapons are outside the cell. What happens if they search for treasure and get a Wandering Monster before they pick up their weapons? Later they find the Barbarian and Elf in the Hall of the Witch Lord. They too are weaponless; their weapons are in a chest, and cannot be retrieved until all the monsters in the room are destroyed. In both instances the Heroes are without weapons.

The basic game came with one spell, Rust, that the Game Master can use to destroy a Hero's weapon. What happens if the weapon is destroyed? How does the Hero attack? Can he continue making attacks during that quest?

The only answers to these questions are found in the basic game quest booklet, quest #6 Legacy of the Orc Warlord (at least in the US version; don't know if this is the same in the UK version). The Heroes begin the quest in a cell, and all of the items from their inventory are stored in another room. Under the notes section it is stated 'A Hero with no weapons or armor rolls one die to attack and two dice to defend'. The two defense dice make sense to me. Each Hero has a base defense roll of two dice at the start of the game, and no Hero starts with any armor. The one attack die bothered me, though, for two reasons.

The first is that one unarmed attack die is the same as the one attack die for a dagger, which is what the Wizard starts with. A dagger can be thrown at any enemy within line-of-sight, doing one attack die of damage. It is then lost. By giving the Heroes a basic one attack die when unarmed, the following scenario is possible. The Wizard (or any other Hero using a dagger) attacks an adjacent monster with his dagger, doing one attack die of damage. After dispatching his foe, he spies another monster several squares away from him. He throws his dagger, doing an attack die of damage. The Wizard may now continue attacking with one attack die, even though his dagger is gone. This doesn't seem correct to me. Why bother with daggers if the Hero gets the same amount of attack dice unarmed?

The second reason is that the logic behind all Heroes doing one attack die of damage seemed wrong. Would an unarmed Barbarian, using the strength of his muscles alone, cause the same damage as an unarmed Wizard? Barbarians are supposed to be big and strong. Could they not dispatch a foe easier with their bare hands than a Wizard?

John and I have been talking about this for a while now, and have come up with the rules below:

For basic unarmed combat, the Heroes roll this number of Attack Dice:

Barbarian: 4
Dwarf: 3
Elf: 2
Wizard: 1

To hit with an unarmed attack dice roll, the Hero must roll a BLACK SHIELD, instead of a skull. I have playtested these rules for a few games now, and they seem to work fairly well. It is much harder to hit a monster when unarmed, but not impossible. The Barbarian is rewarded for being stronger with 4 un-armed attack dice, and the Wizard only has one.

A second issue that might come up is whether or not the Elf and Wizard can cast spells when unarmed. In the quest Legacy of the Orc Warlord mentioned above, the spellcasters cannot cast spells until the Heroes' items are recovered. In the quest Halls of the Dead from Return of the Witch Lord, it states that the Wizard's spells are outside the cell door where he starts the game. Nothing is mentioned of the Elf's spells in this quest, though. These two quests would seem to imply that a spellcaster's spells are contained in something in their inventory, such as a spellbook, that must be in the Hero's possession before a spell can be cast. No mention of this is found in the rulebook. It would seem that when a spellcaster's entire inventory is taken from him, this includes his spells. In a case such as this he cannot cast spells. If he just looses his weapon, though, he still retains his spellcasting ability.