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Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: House-rules consideration rss

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Lord Hundrick
Germany
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Hello,

I am currently playing a campaign as Overlord against two players. It's the first time we play Descent 2nd Ed., but we have some experience with the first edition.

Here is a rather long introduction (which you can skip):
During Act I we found the balancing quite impressive. In almost every mission it was a very close call between the player's and me. However, now in Act II, the players are struggling very hard to achieve their goals.

We play with the conversion pack, so I can chose to integrate old monsters. In the last mission I had a group of Goblin Bowmen (2 + 1) and for my open groups I went for 1 Elemental and 1 Master Bane Spider. To our surprise, this combination seemed way overpowered. Especially the spider with her piercing ability was too deadly for the two heroes. One of them kept dying every turn!

To make matters worse, the mission had a time limit for them. So before the time even elapsed, the player's gave up. They didn't have any hope of managing the monsters in the remaining time.

We all found this very unfortunate, because I had selected the mission on purpose, to give them a chance to recover a special bow. I didn't care about winning that mission as an overlord, I wanted to boost their group as they had been struggling since the beginning of Act II.

So, I'm interested to hear if you had similar experiences (maybe related to the conversion kit or maybe with Act II in general).

Here are my ideas for house-rules, where I'd like to have some input from you:

1. It may be a good idea to allow players who just got up on their feet from a near death situation (I don't know the English wording for this) to have 1 movement action in their turn.

(In our scenario we had 1 player dying constantly and the other one wasn't able to help at that time. So the first player had no hope of escaping the monster.)

2. We are missing a way to enhance the hero's abilities. As far as we know, the only improvement for heroes during Act II, is the improved equipment (if they ever get it). So far, my enemies have not been able to get their hands on improved equipment. So they are basically fighting Act II monsters with Act I gear.

We were thinking about a way to improve their defense (maybe upgrade the defense dice in Act II?) and we also thought about upgrading the chances for the four character trials. Any practical advice or experience?

3. Another point would be healing. The heroes don't have any means of healing at the moment. I guess it's their fault for choosing the wrong classes, but nevertheless it's difficult for them now. What ways for healing are actually in the game and would you suggest an additional method?

Maybe it would be fair to allow a heal action once per turn, where the player can roll a die (maybe a red one, but maybe also one with lower chances) to replenish some health.

That's all for the beginning. As I said, the main problem seems to be big balance step from Act I to Act II and how the players are lagging behind with their enhancements. I'd appreciate your input on this.





 
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Dustin Whitmire
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Well, in short, I would not use House Rules. I am not of the opinion that the game is broken; I am of the opinion that it has a learning curve, and its longer for those who played the 1st edition.

I'm assuming that you are playing with 4 heroes, but nevertheless, it is not advisable to go without a healer class.

I'd express more, but my wife is calling my name, and she's starting to not have a happy face, so ....I'm chosing to leave now.

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Lord Hundrick
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I don't want to make your wife unhappy then. Thank you for this first assessment!

We are playing with two heroes only. That's a big problem for them now, because they literally have NO means of healing. Though they are thinking about purchasing an (expensive) artifact now, that can heal once per turn.
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Rafal Areinu
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Let one of them play 2 heroes. They should add healer. Give him as much exp as other players got till now, and give him some gold to get starting equipment. You might let him to chose only from act 1 stuff so heroes wouldn't be able to exploit this additional market step to get good 2nd act things from that.

The game is said to be the easiest for heroes when there's 3 of them(OL has as many monsters as before, but he has masters instead of minions, players have more actions per turn).

If none of them wants to have 2 heroes you might also consider just giving them staff of light for free if you don't have staff of shadows. It's SOME way of healing, though they probably won't find enough free actions to use it.

You might give them some bonus gold and let them buy 2nd act items so they wouldn't have to struggle with 1st act equipment, but they might not want pity money...

You might also just chose monsters they had least problems to defeat, at least until they get better.

Anyway, I wouldn't use house rules, I think adding 3rd hero is the best solution, it would change game dynamic a lot.
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Dustin Whitmire
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Ok. I'm back.

Here are some factors that can cause this game to go heavily for the overlord:

- 2 Hero setups
- No healer class
- Killing monster groups at the expense of quest objectives; this is more a game of movement and spatial tactics, not combat primarily
- Poor quest choice by Heroes
- Losing the First Blood quest; Overlord chooses Castle Daerion/Cardinal's Plight
- Not searching periodically; not acquiring gold for equipment
- Not coordinating the hero actions as a group
- Selecting sub par characters
- Not having high attributes between the heroes
- Forsaking skills that help protect NPCs
- Failing to use abilities, feats, and skills opportunely
- Misapplication of the rules
- Losing the majority (or being even) on Act 1 (and Introduction/Interlude) quests; being unprepared for the Act 2 transition (monsters substantially upgrade)

These are a few things, while I'm sure others could add to the list. My point is that the game is far more unforgiving to the heroes then to the overlord, and that there is a learning aspect to this game. If it was me, I would start over; treat this as a learning experience. But, you do what you think everyone would enjoy.

and wife is happy. thank you.
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Darren Nakamura
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Restarting the campaign with the knowledge they have now seems like a reasonable thing to try. If you all don't want to restart the campaign, then stress to them the importance of using the Search action. Not only will it get them more gold so they can buy better equipment, but it will also help with their lack of a healer, since 3 of the 12 search cards are Health Potions.

As for having extra defense dice, many people on here believe that armor is some of the most important equipment to purchase during Act I; it doesn't become obsolete by Act II like most of the weapons do. That would be another point in favor of restarting the campaign; if they don't have the Leather Armor or Chainmail by this point, they can't get it. Platemail, Elven Cloak, and Demonhide Leather are still options, but they would have to get them during a shop phase and have enough money to purchase them.

One house rule that I think could be useful for situations like yours is a loan from the bank. During the next shop phase, allow them to purchase whatever they want, but require them to pay the balance back before the Finale. It will encourage them to search, and they'll stand a better chance during the next quest.

However, from what it sounds like (perhaps confirmation is necessary), you and your group only have one more Act II quest, and then the Finale, so that doesn't really give much time. If there really are only two quests remaining, then perhaps you should just finish the campaign as is (with the Overlord most likely taking it in the end), chalk it up as a learning experience, and then start anew with better knowledge of how to set up the party.
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Lord Hundrick
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Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) » Forums » Variants
Re: House-rules consideration
Thank you all for your suggestions!

Yes, it's only one quest and the finale to do. Although I am thinking about letting them replay the last quest. It went so horribly wrong and it also went wrong because I took the win in the first sequence. But that win happened due to a mistake I made and nobody noticed. So it would be fair to give them another try.

About the searching: They really wanted to search when ever possible, but with the time pressure or critical objectives, they rarely had the opportunity. The quests are really unforgiving sometimes.

We will discuss the options and learn from the mistakes. Thanks again everyone!
 
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