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Novice Overlord Query!


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#1 DukeMantis

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 09:34 PM

Hello all, well this is all very exciting for me :)

 

I picked up Descent Second Edition with no prior knowledge of the game at all a few weeks ago, on the recommendation of the store clerk. Now ive crawled through the box and marvelled at all the bits and pieces, and im scheduled to start my first session of this game next week.

 

I am mindful that as a complete newbie to this game it would be best to stick to the campaigns as they are written in the core set, at least until im comfortable with how the game really works.

 

Still... the Dungeon Master in me cannot help but wonder if its safe to tinker with a few of the games devices. Thus i am here to ask you more experienced evil-doers if the following idea is viable:

 

Would it be possible for an 'OL' to keep a sketch of the game board behind a DM's screen, and move his monsters out of sight of the players until the creatures enter 'line of sight'. My hope is that this will inject more tension into the game, as the players wont know whats coming around the corner until it happens. On face value to me, and the players ive shared the idea with, this sounds like a really cool idea to add suspense, but as we dont know much about the game i am wondering if by doing this i would be accidentally stumbling into a game-wrecking mistake. What are your thoughts?

 

Im very interested in what house rules or quirks other Overlords currently employ to make the game more exciting!

 

Thanks in advance :D



#2 Kunzite

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 10:07 PM

There has been a little bit of a disagreement about the likeness of DM verses OL. the DM is out to make a fun experience for everyone while the OL is out to KILL everyone. >} the beauties of being evil. While your idea sounds super fun, I think you might "cheat" without trying.

 

BUT a house rule we play by is what I call ambush groups. Those are groups that are placed on the map AFTER set up. Something need to happen, like a door opening or the group finding a key, or something before the monster group becomes active. To keep from cheating, I write down the group I plan on using in my journal (yes, I take notes every quest) and set it off to the side so there are no arguments. I also always show my heroes what monsters I could use in a quest so they aren't 100% in the dark.

 

Hope that helps. I have never DMed. Matter of fact I have never played D&D before, but I think I would like it. I have fully enjoyed being the OL. Not an easy job, but if you can win AND lose gracefully, then this is a good place for you.


"Bide your time and hold out hope."

~Count of Monte Cristo

 

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#3 Robin

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 10:40 PM

Descent encounters and quests present tactical challenges.
It isn't a dungeon crawler.
All information must be shared with everybody (the Quest Guide is clear about that).
Hiding the map and other features will severely handicap tbe players and would be a form of cheating in favour of the OL.
So I would suggest you first play some quests along the rules before trying for variants.

Edited by Robin, 16 August 2013 - 10:41 PM.

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.
G. K. Chesterton

#4 Steve-O

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 06:39 AM

Well, it's not really cheating if it's a house rule they want to use.  As long as eveyone agrees, of course.

 

To answer the OP; the effect this house rule would have on game balance would vary from one quest to another.  You are depriving the heroes of important tactical information that they would normally have access to (ie: the specific location of monsters they can't currently see.)

 

In some quests it might not matter, because the OL will be trying to attack the heroes with everything he has anyway, so it's just a question of when the monsters show up.  In other quests, the OL is trying to escape the map with a given MacGuffin, in which case the inability to track the monster with the MacGuffin could be game-changing in the OL's favour.

 

There are also a couple of quests where the OL is trying to kill an NPC who begins far away from the heroes.  In these quests, using your suggested house rule, it would be possible for the OL to win while the heroes are still fumbling around and tyring to figure out which direction the NPC is in.  That could be really frustrating for some people.  Perhaps allowing the heroes to see the NPC (and any monsters the NPC can see) would help.

 

Allowing the OL to always know where the heroes are while denying the heroes the same advantage regarding monsters will definitely tilt the game in the OL's favour.  If you intend to play to win as OL, this may not work out very well.  If you intend to play "DM-Style" and just have fun, it might work out okay, but then you'll run into a different issue: when playing the campaign, the quests available later on depend on who won the earlier quests.  If you let the heroes win all the time (or even most of the time) then there are some quests you'll never play.  You'll have to play them as one-shots, or else manufacture events to make those quests available in later campaign runs.

 

TLDR; This rule will definitely alter the game balance.  Drastically.  Depending on how you intend to play the game, you and yours may still end up enjoying it anyway.



#5 Robin

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 07:34 AM

Of course it would not be cheating if a house rule all players agree with.
Sorry if I sounded abrupt.

I still would invite you to try the game along the rules a number of times, before introducing variants.
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.
G. K. Chesterton

#6 DukeMantis

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 09:45 PM

Thanks very much for such detailed replies folks, i really appreciate you shedding some light on this issue for me.

 

I did a 'dummy run' aka test play of a few of the adventures tonight and quickly saw even on my own how drastically the game was affected by my proposed house rule. I think as i had no prior knowlede of the game i was too busy trying to anchor it to my DMing sensibilities, when it is more (as you guys suggest) a tactical contest between OL and Players.

 

I think its far safer to stick to the rulebook methods for now, i will certainly consider the ambush group idea shared by Kunzite though, it sounds rather exciting :)

 

Many thanks :wub:


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#7 Kunzite

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 11:49 PM

I think its far safer to stick to the rulebook methods for now, i will certainly consider the ambush group idea shared by Kunzite though, it sounds rather exciting :)

 

Many thanks :wub:

 

I am glad I could help. My heroes can't do anything about the monster group even if they know it. They, and I, feel it's a bit more thematical. Tell me how it goes!


"Bide your time and hold out hope."

~Count of Monte Cristo

 

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#8 Robin

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 12:25 AM

I did a 'dummy run' aka test play of a few of the adventures tonight and quickly saw even on my own how drastically the game was affected by my proposed house rule. I think as i had no prior knowlede of the game i was too busy trying to anchor it to my DMing sensibilities, when it is more (as you guys suggest) a tactical contest between OL and Players.

 

I think its far safer to stick to the rulebook methods for now, i will certainly consider the ambush group idea shared by Kunzite though, it sounds rather exciting :)

 

Many thanks :wub:

In French, we have a saying: "Seuls les imbéciles ne changent jamais d'avis" ("Only dumb people never change their minds"). ;)

House rules usually find their value when they are leaning upon an extended experience of the game as a background.

Descent has more depth than it seems at first sight, so actually "pushing the pieces" only can give the "feel" of the system.

 

Now, as there is an online quest editor, it could be amusing to craft encounters which do have some "fog of war" elements - with exploration, etc. A very nice way to "unleash imaginatinon".

There also is a co-op (no OL) variant on BGG, which allows a more "dungeon crawling" experience.

 

I really am enthusiastic about Descent, but I still am looking for a "real dungeon crawler", with lighter rules than 1st ed.

Apart from Mucnhkin Quest, which is a parody (albeit very funny), I haven't found a multiplayer (more than two) explore, kill and loot game set in fantasy environement, with good replayability.


An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.
G. K. Chesterton

#9 ilulome

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 08:42 AM

Being both a RPG player and a Descent player ( I play OL), I really like your idea alot.  Even when it's true that it be unbalancing, It's still feasible.  On such conditions it can't be played like a regular Descent quest were the OL is tryng to win, but more like rpg were you just presenting the heroes a challenge.

 

Try changing the way  you move the monsters. Be more straight forward, instead of trying to out maneuver the heroes. Big monster with low intelligence would use brute force and charge straight forward. Use hints, they may not know whats coming around the corner but they feel the earth shake with each of the creature's steps. Add some attribute test, Thiefs could use awareness to know something fishy is hiding at a room entrance.

 

Use dice result differently. Limit the use of surges. For example don't use both damage and surge result from the same die.  You can go for either damage or use surge for a special effect. For a variant on this idea,  apply the rule only to red/yellow dice and use the blue die normally.

 

Vary the numbers of monsters you use in the quest. If the heroes are having bad time keeping up, use less monsters. If its going too easy for them, use more. Don't limit yourself to the number stated on the quest or monsters limits. They don't know how many you got since you using the house rule so it's ok. ( BTW i'm not saying this as a way to cheat.  The players will know before hand that the OL is not using the limits the monster have. But trying to balance things by controlling the amount of monsters on the map.

 

Just giving out some ideas. But it's best to have some experience before trying them out. I guess it's better to play it out more like a  RPG than a strategy table top game.



#10 DukeMantis

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 10:53 PM

@ ilulome, your touching on alot of the ideas that were passing through my thoughts at first, i may revist some of those ideas once ive got a campain or two under my belt of the basic game. Im really thrilled to bits about the Quest Vault, ive got TONNES of ideas already for adventures.

 

Im wondering what the viability is of purchasing old Hero Quest board game minis (similar scale i think?) and using them as monsters for Descent, does anyone know of a monster card creator/template for Descent adventures? I feel like i will have more freedom of expression if i can write my own minions in the future...






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