I've got a question pertaining to campaigns. I get that during a quest, the heroes get to know everything about that quest (I've only broken this rule on the interlude to make Zachareth's entrance dramatic; I'm OLing by the way), though I'm wondering how far that knowledge extends. I've started to dominate our campaign, so I've just given the campaign book to my players and they're scouring each quest to decide what one they want to do next, but it seems like this kind of takes out the fun of storytelling that comes with a campaign, especially the first time you go through it.
Descent is a competitive board game, it's not an RPG. Granted it has a strong story element and is very "theme heavy", but the purpose of the game is not storytelling, it's dice rolling. If this is your first time playing Descent, that might take some getting used to. Newbie heroes often suffer in performance from trying to do "standard RPG things" like clear all the monsters from one room before moving to the next, or insisting on going for all the treasure on the board. Once they learn to focus on their objectives, they get better.
The "Public Information" box at the start of the quest guide says that all quests are written with "the assumption that all players know all the rules and victory conditions" so if you wanted to be anal about it, you could just make a point of reading out all the rules for every quest that is currently available to them before asking them to pick one to play. (ie: Tell them all the mechanics but keep the fluff text secret.) I would be inclined to call that rules lawyering though (somewhat ironically.)
That said, other posters have made a very valid point about the fact that sometimes one person can misinterpret the rules that are written, and actually letting everyone see the quest guide does help to prevent that situation. It's easier to let them read the guide than to read out everything aloud yourself, and at the end of the day there aren't really any "surprises" in 99% of the encounters. Once the map is set up, everything that's known is known to all and anything that's hidden is hidden from all. Looking at the quest guide won't really spoil much of anything.
Having gone through similar emotional experiences when getting into First Edition Descent, I find that it helps to draw a distinction between the story that is told in the fluff text and the story that unfolds in the actions of the players. The former is static and quickly forgotten before the next play. The latter is everlasting and it changes with every game
Thanks for the feedback. I do own 1st edition, and I am being influenced as well by PnP-style thinking a little in my desire to have the games be competitive and well-informed, while also allowing the players to experience the story as it unfolds.
As I said, once a quest is selected, I don't have much trouble showing the players the quest guide, nor did I from the start. The only thing I changed recently was letting them see all the details for all the quests and pick the next one based on that (if it's a competitive game, why should I let them favour the ones they think they can win?).
Granted, they do have the problem of not having really adapted to the Descent mode of thinking, and until recently they've gotten skills that favour dealing large damage to single targets instead of board and condition management, and I've punished them for it.
I suppose I'm mainly looking here for when the public information box applies: pre-quest-selection or post-quest-selection, and I'm just complicating the discussion by bringing up the circumstances.
Steve-O is of the mind that everything is open ever, and that's probably what I should continue working with. I'm interested in seeing what others think though.