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Living Dungeon variant - No fairy tales, we came here to beat the Overlord !!!

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#1 Polylux1



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Posted 03 December 2011 - 01:32 PM

Hello, has anybody tried something like this? My idea was to make a really competetive variant using all beloved mechanics of Descent, with no rules needed to change... Here it is, after huge testing as standard 2-player/2 heroes variant with AoD and WoD it looks pretty good, simple, intuitive and effective.

1) puzzle

All tiles (without "corrupted") are put on table, OL-player choose one of them and put it in the middle of desk. Then Hero-player choose another to join etc., up to finishing dungeon of 20 tiles. Small corridor tiles are used just to join two parts of dungeon (automatically)... Then OL divides the dungen onto 5 (or more, up to 7, if you want it easier for heroes) areas by any number of doors.

2) Glyphs and starting area setting up

Hero puts one glyph marker into any one area, white side up. Then OL makes the same in another area...etc, up to all areas contains glyph. Then OL turns one of them (where he does not want to have starting area) white side down. The hero makes the same... up to only one active glyph remains. This is starting area.

3) Obstacles

OL chooses randomly three kinds of obstacles (lava, rubble, water, mud, fog or pit) and fill up to six spaces with each of it. Of course, all corridors and glyphs must be able to move through.

4) Treasures

OL puts one money-marker (150coins to each) and one chest marker into each area. Chests are put in order: gold, silver, silver, copper, copper, copper, silver, gold. So in five-area dungeon there will be 2 copper chests, 2 silver and 1 gold. In six-area dungeon there would be one copper treasure more, etc. In text below I use the terms "gold area", "silver area" and "copper area", defined by these chests. 
Chest contents is very simple:
 1-treasure and 1 conquest token
 2-treasure and 2 conquest tokens. 
 3-double treasure and 2 curses.

(I recommend no conquest tokens in chests opened by hero with Acrobat ability. This card is overpowered here...)

 Finally OL puts one potion of each type somewhere in the dungeon...

5) Traps

OL sets up one "big" trap as he wishes: 2 Dart fields, 2 Scything Blades (or combination 1+1), 1 Crushing Wall or 1 Boulder. Wall and Boulder (with ramps) are put into dungeon just now and activated by moving a hero onto some of 2 encounter markers (markers are visible but it's not able to jump over them. After first activation they are removed from the game.)

It is forbidden to block some corridor absolutly by very short endless loop of boulder and 180° ramps. It must be able, even difficult, to go through...

6) Creatures

I use an "official" dividing cratures by tier 1-4
Tier 1: Bane Spider, Skeleton and Beastman
Tier 2: Razorwing, Ferrox, Deep elf, Hell Hound, Sorcerer, Dark Priest
Tier 3: Ogre, Troll, Manticore, Naga, Blood Ape
Tier 4: Demon, Dragon, Giant, Chaos Beast, Golem

a) Final area - Gold area.

Here is one named boss (OL may choose a name), master of tier 4 with double wounds and armor. If he dies, OL lose.
In addition there is one master of tier 3 and the same creature in normal tan version as the guard.
These three final creatures are visibly set up just now, before the game starts...it's good for atmosphere:-)

b) Wandering creatures. OL choose and sets aside any combination of following creatures:
5 normal creatures of tier 1 (guards)
5 normal creatures of tier 2 (guards)
1 master creature of tier 1 (boss-copper)
1 master creature of tier 2 (boss-silver)
1 normal creature of tier 3 (boss-copper)
1 normal creature of tier 4 (boss-silver)

When the new area is revealed, OL choose up to one boss (copper boss to copper area, silver boss to silver area) and 1-3 guards (no more than one of tier 2 may be put into copper area) to "be there"... They can be spawned even by overlords cards but never can be returned back. Whenever wandering monster dies, the miniature is returned back to the box, not into the group of wandering creatures.

7) Final settings

Now OL substitutes up to three of doors by rune-locked doors and puts runes somewhere (it must be possible to reach them, of course). Then he checks everything (he may move some obstacles, change setting of traps etc.), choose randomly values of treachery (we usually use dark glyphs as markers in the cup - first chosen color (green, for example) has value 2, second has value 4 and the last one 6), use it to prepare his deck or substitute some glyphs by dark glyphs and, finally, draw three cards.
Heroes recieve 8 CT, prepare everything as usual and the game starts...

As we have tested this variant I can write down a few impressions:

The game is very well balanced now, OL has more options but he must be able to use them all to stop heroes. Beating the named final boss is really hard even with gold treasures, which makes an epic end of the whole game. Preparing of dungeon takes about 20 minutes, every "quest" is original and needs its own strategy of both - offense and defense. The whole game takes just about 3 hours, as there is not necessary to check anything with quest guide. However the goal of quest is still the same and pretty simple (find all rune-keys t reach and beat the final boss), it makes a really nice "action" story by itself. And every one quest is never repeated so I can really remember almost each detail of last 25 testing sessions ... which makes me happy :-)

But in fact we have only 2-player experience. With more than 2 heroes there should be probably necessary to decrease CT rewards from glyphs and treasures by 1.

Thank you and enjoy!! 

#2 Torin Negatia

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 07:27 PM



i like this in general. the only problem i have with it is that the heroes automatically see the position of all obstacles, traps, coins, potions, and where specific chest types are (not to mention using one of each potion type as there are what, 5 types now?)

it very much reminds me of something i wanted to design for use with rtl/sob with making random dungeons using decks of cards, but i still havent got around to finishing it. you can very this up by creating a couple custom decks.

basically you create an obstacle deck, a monster deck, and a loot deck. each time you open a new area, you draw one card from each deck. after all this is descent, where the more decks you have, the better the game is!


#3 Polylux1



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Posted 07 December 2011 - 07:30 AM

Aaaah, misstyped! One of each potion per whole dungeon (doesn't matter where they will be situated, it depends on OL, we already have 4 kinds of them with AoD and WoD)...

You are right about visible obstacles  but my experience with prepared quests is that it is very difficult to beat OL during first game (I believe it was correct and crucial for re-playability) and when they remember position of the most important obstacles, portals and chests they are able to be much better coordinated and find correct way to reach the end. So the first "try" is near to scanning for next game... It would not work in this variant (and is not not needed from re-playability's point of view - omg, I hope this sentence is correct :-)) as every map is for one use only. And I really like preparing dungeon to defend it (my influence was great game called Dungeon Lords by Vlaada Chvatil), much more than preparing and printing new cards and touching other than original material:-)  It's easy to say that they simply found or bought a better map in the town:-)) In our group both sides are very happy with it...

On the other hand, prepared quests have monsters stocked on the same places in each game, which is much more weird, idea of wandering creatures works better with the theme and is more important for feeling of "living dungeon" than exploring some stones ... AND it looks much more logical as it should be easier to command some wandering creatures by actual position of heroes than rebuild all rocks, chests and lava springs when heroes knock the door :-)

But yes, it is less about system of dungeon exploring and dungeon mastering how I know it from D&D and much much more about mortal duel Heroes vs. Overlord ... But I prefer it very strongly. It is much better to feel as the only designer of their doom when you hear their wifes crying :-)

#4 Torin Negatia

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 10:33 AM

Ah, good clarification on the potions. Try it with two potions per hero. You can put all the potions in a hat and draw them randomly.


definitely going to try this if we get the time. 

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