The beating of massive wings in the distance heralds the approach of an ominous foe; Lair of the Wyrm, the first expansion for Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition, is coming in a matter of weeks! With new heroes, classes, monsters, quests, and more, Lair of the Wyrm lets heroes discover secret rooms and investigate suspicious rumors, while the Overlord equips himself with deadly never-before-seen tricks and fields a powerful new lieutenant.
Over the weeks leading up to the release of Lair of the Wyrm, we’ll examine how it enhances the existing Descent Second Edition experience while working seamlessly alongside it. Today, let’s begin our series of previews with a look at Rumor cards, Quest cards, and the overall concept of side quests.
A Living, Breathing Terrinoth
From the beginning, Descent Second Edition’s designers endeavored to create a realm that reacts to the players’ decisions and movements. This is most evident in the base game’s flexible campaign system, with its multiple plot branches and powerful rewards that adjust based on successes and failures. In an interview shortly before the release of Second Edition, co-designer Corey Konieczka wrote, "Our main direction was to keep the game deep, [give it] plenty of replayability, and add a new level of narrative. We roughed out what we wanted to see in the campaign, such as recurring evil characters, a cohesive narrative across the quests, and winning quests changing what quests are available."
Lair of the Wyrm maintains this philosophy by introducing quests that can supplement an existing campaign, rather than replacing it. In other words, an expansion like Lair of the Wyrm presents a storyline that can be made to run concurrently with that of the campaign it’s supplementing. To be clear, the quests in Lair of the Wyrm can certainly be played as independent experiences. If quick, “one-off” quests suit your play group, simply choose one and go.
In addition to its Rumor cards, Lair of the Wyrm features new Travel Event cards.
If, on the other hand, your group prefers the narrative progression of a campaign, you’ll have two options. First, special rules will be made available on our support page for adapting Lair of the Wyrm’s series of into a single, standalone campaign. Alternatively, the Rumor card system is a way to work Lair of the Wyrm’s quests into a larger campaign, as “side quests.” When adding Lair of the Wyrm to a campaign such as The Shadow Rune (from the base game), the overlord begins by drawing a hand of three Rumor cards. He can play these cards based on their triggering conditions, and each card may potentially lead the heroes to a quest that isn’t available on the base game’s Campaign sheet.
Three Rumor cards. The overlord is dealt three cards like these at the start of the game, and can play them based on their triggering conditions. Click to enlarge.
The Rumor Mill
The first two of these are known as Rumor Quest Cards, a particular type of rumor that introduces a quest. Rumor Quest Cards can be played by the overlord during any Act I Campaign Phase, and they serve as an entry point into the expansion’s line of side quests. As you can see on the cards above, when the overlord plays an Act I Rumor Quest Card, he must discard his other Act I Rumor Quest Cards and draw replacements; this storyline only needs one entry point, after all.
In this excerpt from the quest guide, we can see how the text on the "Gold Digger" Rumor Quest card leads narratively into the quest to which it corresponds. Click to enlarge.
Let’s say that the overlord plays Gold Digger, placing that card faceup near the play area. From now on, Gold Digger is a valid Act I quest, available for selection by either side during any Act I Campaign Phase. If it is selected, the heroes will have to contend with the three travel icons along the top of the card (from left to right) before beginning the quest, drawing three Travel Event cards and resolving the river effects. After that, however, Gold Digger begins.
The Road Less Traveled
But what’s at stake? Much like in the base game’s campaign, wins and losses in Act I side quests affect the availability of Act II side quests. As you can see in the excerpt above, the winner of Gold Digger determines which one of two possible quests will be available in Act II: At the Forge or Armed to the Teeth. In Act II, these are represented by Advanced Quest cards like the one seen at the right.
The true incentive for taking these dangerous paths, however, are the rewards they yield for victory. If a party of heroes manages to hunt down and destroy the Wyrm Queen Valyndra, they’ll be equipped with powerful new artifacts, extra gold, or precious experience as they pursue the overlord in their main campaign!
Keep checking back for more previews! In the coming weeks, we’ll see Lair of the Wyrm’s two new hero classes, we’ll cower before the might of the new overlord Punisher class, and we’ll sneak a peek into perilous secret rooms. The Wyrm Queen’s slumber will soon end. Dare you face her?