Neil Edmonds
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I had a chance to check out Shadows of Brimstone and here's my report. I'd like to offer my apologies if I'm stealing other users' thunder. I was suffering from an allergy attack which gave me a runny nose requiring a circuit to the men's room every 8 - 10 minutes to blow my nose and wash my hands. This meant I got to play a single turn of SOB. On the plus side, tagging out meant I got to cycle a few other players through the game using my character and subsequent rule explanations meant I got more of the gameplay down.

The game was in an alpha state. The figures were 3-D sculpts and the tiles were print-outs cut with an Exacto knife so take any photos you see from this session as representative but not final versions of things. The figures are pretty detailed. Flying Frog is going for a Games Workshop level of quality. They're still in communication with the factories in China so they don't know yet whether sprues and assembly will be required.

Characters have several skill categories used in checks: Strength, Agility, Luck, Lore, cunning, Spirit. They also have Wounds and Sanity with a corresponding Defense score. When a character takes Wounds or Sanity damage they roll against the score to see if the damage is avoided with one die roll for each point of damage. For example, a character with a Defense of 5 takes 3 wounds. They roll a 5, 4, and 2 and therefore take 2 wounds. At the end of combat characters may catch their breath to heal 1D3 wounds, sanity loss, or take a grit token if they didn't end the combat (I think that's how the Grit part works but I'm not sure). Another way to heal is to use bandages for wounds (1D6) and whiskey for Sanity (1D6) recovery. You can use them anytime except when you're applying damage; so no using them right before apply the results of a monster's attack roll because it would result in a knock out. Speaking of knock-outs I didn't see that effect come into play.

Characters and monsters have an Initiative score that determines activation. A higher number is better. It doesn't require a dice roll and is just a straight up number comparison. My Indian Scout had an Activation of 5 and got to move and attack before all the other heroes in my game and most of the monsters. The Hellbats had an activation of 6 and got to move and attack before my Scout did.

Characters have a Maximum Grit score and Melee and Ranged attack values. Grit tokens can be used for additional movement, dice re-rolls, and some ability activations. The Melee and Ranged values are "roll this number or higher" to hit a target. Most weapons do 1D6 of damage. The monster's Defense value is subtracted from the damage roll to determine the number of wounds. For example, a monster with a defense of 3 takes 2 wounds on a damage roll of 5 and no wounds on a roll of 3. A critical hit of 6, which from what I could tell only heroes get, ignores the monsters defense when calculating wounds. One of the critical things to remember about combat is you roll your hits without declaring targets then you get to assign the damage to whatever is in range one hit at a time.

Game tiles are divided up into spaces. A figure completely occupies a space and cannot be moved through. Characters next to a monster must make an escape roll to move away from the monster. There is no penalty for failing except that you can't move away. You can shoot through other figures and anything in line of sight (not blocked by a wall) is fair game. New tiles are revealed by going to the edge of the tile. A room tile card is drawn which provides a random roll for which part is sealed off with an end cap and which part continues the dungeon. I think it also provides instructions for whether an encounter token is added to the tile. When a character moves into the space the encounter token is flipped over indicating how many encounter cards are drawn. Usually this is one card which results in the placement of monsters but it could be an event requiring a skill check or environmental conditions that damages players. The general rule for placing monsters is at the the back left corner of the tile alternating blank and filled spaces in a checker board pattern eg - Monster 1 in back left corner, next space is empty, Monster 2 in the following space, etc. An ambush places the monsters next to the player characters. Each monster has its own rules for movement and attack. Most of the ones I saw tried to evenly divide themselves up among heroes moving past nearby heroes if another hero was in movement range and not currently engaged.

When a tile is cleared of monsters it may be salvaged once to see if any gear or loot is found. Players also received loot cards when defeating all the monsters on a tile. One game effect that was discussed but didn't come into play is corruption. Carrying dark stone causes a character to acquire corruption points and 5 points of corruption results in a mutation. Most of the time mutations are bad but occasionally a beneficial one comes up.

At the start of the game turn heroes roll 2D6 against the darkness track. It's divided up into three zones of +7, +8 and +9 with each zone requiring that result or higher to avoid moving the darkness track; so it gets harder as the game progresses. Certain milestones on the Darkness track require card draws but I'm unclear how that works based on the symbols I saw. A roll of doubles requires consulting a chart for positive or negative effects. I only saw double 6's come into play which improves the heroes resolve and grants a Grit token.

Players roll a die on their turn to move that many spaces. A roll of 1 grants a Grit token which may be spent immediately to roll another D6 of movement. And that's about all I know. Roll on the Darkness track, Use Initiative to move and attack, clear the tile of monsters, and move on to expose other tiles.

I'd like to thank Scott Hill for taking the time to chat with me. It was also great fun getting to meet Lord Dudley and Sharon from Fortune and Glory. Card Kingdom carries a large variety of Boardgames, Miniature figures (Warhammer, Warmachine, HeroClix), Paints from Army Painter and Citadel, and a lot of the popular RPGs. They have puzzles and traditional family games and an attached restaurant bar with gaming tables for people to play games. It's worth checking out if you're in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.
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Robert Lewis
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Just a quick thank you for taking the time to post this
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Chris Smit
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The Last Magus wrote:
Just a quick thank you for taking the time to post this


Ditto, your post is appreciated a lot!
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Mark Griffiths
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That's great, thanks for taking the time to share!
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Tristan Hall
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Thanks for your thoughts Neil. Am I right in thinking that's a whole lotta d6 rolling? At least you don't have to roll initiative... Looks and sounds cool either way!
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Salvador Bernadó
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Thanks for the information.
Looking forward to hear a bit more about the game.
 
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Sebastian Beck
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The most important thing for me: How does the monster activation work? Is there any AI system?
 
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Ken H.
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Autoduelist wrote:
I had a chance to check out Shadows of Brimstone and here's my report.


Thanks for attending, typing all that, and posting! I'm a little disappointed just because this is almost entirely information that was already known.

Can you add anything about special abilities of certain monsters, including elite abilities? What kind of special gear (or starting items) did you see? Could you give some examples of Darkness cards or non-combat encounter cards?

Quote:
The game was in an alpha state.


You're talking about the physical pieces? Did you have the impression that the rules are mostly complete?
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Gavin Downing
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I got to play in one of the demos, so I can expand a bit on what Neil has said. Some of my specific examples are from memory, so they may not be 100% accurate, but they should give the rough idea.

The Darkness track is sort of like two different tracks on a single board. At the start of the game, there's the hero-marker at the mine entrance, and the shadow marker at the depths of the mine. For every new tile that is revealed, the hero track moves deeper into the mine; there are three "zones" for this. The first zone notes a 7+, then an 8+, then a 9+.

One character carries a lantern. At the start of every turn, they roll to hold back the darkness. In the first zone, this needs a 7+, then an 8+, etc. If they fail to hold back the darkness, the darkness counter moves up the mine towards the entrance. (The darkness counter and the hero counter can pass each other without any effect, but if the darkness counter gets to the mine entrance, the game is over.)

"Certain milestones on the Darkness track require card draws but I'm unclear how that works based on the symbols I saw." Basically, some of the spaces on the tracker have bloodspatters. Whenever the darkness marker moves on to a bloodspatter space, a darkness card is drawn. One of our Darkness cards was a Remains In Play effect that gave us a -1 penalty against holding back the darkness (making it harder), but also gave us a +2 to our move. Another Darkness card gave a +1 (or maybe it was +2?) combat score to all Void creatures.

There are also, more infrequently-spaced, clearly marked spots on the track that cause Very Bad Things; these were called (if I recall correctly) Growing Dread cards. Growing Dread cards are drawn and placed into a special stack, but they are not revealed until the final battle has begun. (The final battle can indeed last a while, so we had our first Growing Dread card revealed mid-battle, which meant it was immediately put into play -- ours made our goal through a portal to an adjacent Otherworld tile, with additional tentacles added to that final fight.)

(The hero marker can pass the Growing Dread and bloodspatter effects safely; it only matters when the Darkness marker lands on them.)

"A roll of doubles requires consulting a chart for positive or negative effects." In addition, each world you're in has its own chart. We got double 4's while in the Targa Plateau; this caused a blizzard to come up, meaning at the start of every turn, we took one wound (which we could roll to soak as normal).

In addition, each otherworld has its own basic environmental rules which give it a flavor without dominating the experience. I only got to see the Targa Plateau, where the biting cold means that a roll of 1 for movement gives you 1 wound that you can't soak. In addition, a roll of 1 or 2 for movement gives you a Grit token (you normally only get a Grit on a roll of 1). Grit can be spent to activate various abilities, to add an extra die for movement, or to reroll as many dice as you like for a single roll. You're limited to 2 Grit (though I hypothesize you may be able to raise that as you level up).

The group needs to really stick together. Whoever has the lantern lights up his tile and adjacent tiles; those who go further away gets surrounded by darkness and can start taking Sanity damage. In addition, if you start exploring different tunnels without going down them, you'll still be moving the character's tracker further down the mine, making it harder to hold back the darkness. It's best to really choose a single route and stick with it.

"How does the monster activation work? Is there any AI system?"

When an attack starts (we had a total of four fights), the monsters get placed based on a checkerboard pattern starting in the back left corner (from where the heroes entered). On an enemy's initiative, they move up to their max movement and attack a random hero in range -- they will attempt to split their attacks evenly between available targets. They will also move as far as possible to still attack the target (moving behind, etc) -- even though there's no facing, that does mean that they're basically trying to avoid blocking other enemies from their target. After moving, they attack. Each monster does have its own abilities, which can further add tactical elements to their AI.

"Can you add anything about special abilities of certain monsters, including elite abilities?"

I fought void spiders, stranglers, tentacles, and the goliath. The void spiders are FAST (they move on initiative 5, and enemies go first on ties, so only the gunslinger was going before them). Thankfully, they didn't have a lot of combat dice (2, I think?), but they tended to be pretty numerous. On the other hand, they were very squishy -- they only had 3 health and no soak. We fought one special version of the spiders on the Targa plateau that had a higher attack rating (this was drawn from a special deck since we were on the plateau), and one Elite version of the spiders that dealt extra damage.

The stranglers were a bit more durable (2 soak -- and I think 4 health). I want to say that an attack roll of 6 from a strangler did extra damage, but I never engaged a strangler hand-to-hand, so I might be mistaken.

The tentacles were quite a bit more durable, but I faced them at the very very end of the game, and most of them were taken out by a lucky dynamite throw, so I don't recall their effect.

The Goliath is a BRUTE. 20 health, 3 soak, and he ignores critical attacks (normally, critical attacks ignore soak). He also automatically deals 3 sanity to everyone at the start of their turn (they can roll to soak as normal). When he attacks, he hits everyone within three squares with three dice of attack. Each die that succeeds on an attack and isn't soaked deals three damage. It took us about 3-4 turns to take him out.

A friend who watched the other table noted that the hungry dead had a low move, low combat dice, but did extra damage when they did connect; they also had a high soak, but only 1 health, so a critical attack would always take them out (headshot!).

"What kind of special gear (or starting items) did you see?"

My starting item was actually pretty useless for my character -- I was the US Marshall who mostly wants to stick with their shotgun, but my special starting item was a set of workman's gloves which gave +1 strength, and allowed for me to reroll one die on a melee attack once per round. Even when I found the axe (+1 initiative, +1 damage), I still mostly stuck with the shotgun (D8 roll to hit with 6-8 all crits, D8 damage, and the Marshall can make a second attack with it after taking out an enemy).

Our bandito had the personal journal. The gunslinger had a vanity mirror, which lessened his penalties if he got too far away from the lantern-carrier. The saloon girl had a boot knife, which allowed her to make a free ranged attack once per combat (she'd have to retrieve it after throwing it).

I also remember a lucky charm which allowed a reroll once per adventure; that wasn't in play in our game.

I also got two artifacts after the final fight. One was a rather cool laser pistol; the other was an otherworldly badge which gave my character the "legal" trait in otherworlds, and had another effect which escapes my memory at the moment.

"Could you give some examples of Darkness cards or non-combat encounter cards?"

I noted the Darkness cards above in this reply. I sadly only saw one non-combat encounter card, and that was a portal to the Targa Plateau. (Or, to be more specific, it was a portal, and the only Otherworld we had access to in our game was the Targa Plateau.)

"Did you have the impression that the rules are mostly complete?"

The rules are pretty complete. There's room for them to make some mild fiddlings, but the basic rules framework is very solid and complete.
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Dan Buman
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Thanks for the detailed report Gavin. I really like what I am hearing about the game.

What was your over all impression of the game after your experience?
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Gavin Downing
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My overall impression? I'm really, really glad I got the mine-cart on this.

I know my friends and I are planning to RP it as much as play it as a boardgame, and it certainly did not let us down there. While the demo was just playing it as a quick one-shot boardgame, I saw how I could easily turn it into an RP-boardgame with my friends.

The one thing I noticed was that our two-gun Gunslinger got TONS of XP; the Saloon Girl and I (the Marshall) were left behind. The Bandito split the difference, in part due to blowing the crap out of a bunch of tentacles with his dynamite. I got 245 XP; the Saloon Girl was about 270; the Bandito got somewhere in the high 300, and the gunslinger got just shy of 500. I'm not sure if it was just the way that game ran (Jason did seem a bit surprised by the disparity), but hopefully that won't be too common. I did feel that certain classes got to absorb XP a bit more easily than others.

Because I was going towards the end of each combat round, and I only got one attack per fight with my shotgun (or two if I killed my first target), I didn't get nearly as many kills as the gunslinger with four attack dice (he ended up with two guns, plus he got a free attack at the start of every new combat).

My friends and I might decide to do pooled XP, but that's probably not something everyone will want, of course.
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Neil Edmonds
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Thanks Gavin. I got to watch some of your game but I had to piece together the rules through observation because I missed the beginning portion where a lot of the mechanics got explained. It was also very loud in the store so I didn't hear much until close to the end of your game.

My Indian Scout had a weathered hat item that allowed 1 Defense die re-roll. I had an ability card - probably random and related to my class - that allowed me to re-roll 1 defense or attack die each turn.

The lawman in Gavin's game got an Outerworld's badge that worked similar to his Earthly badge. Somebody else got a plasma gun which worked a lot like the basic guns.

Regarding guns and melee items most of the differences related to number of attacks - guns have anywhere from 1-3 attacks, melee weapons 1-2 - and the covered range for guns. There's no ammo to keep track of so you don't have to worry about running out of bullets.

As far as gameplay goes I would describe it as follows:

1.) Many of the items and Checks work like Flying Frog's other games - A Touch of Evil, Last Night on Earth, etc. I didn't see any press your luck style / keep rolling checks like the dangers in Fortune and Glory. Rather they were roll one success using the given attribute.

2.) Heroes move a random number of spaces (1D6) while Monsters move a fixed number of spaces according to a defined AI pattern. Combat rolls are usually multiple D6's typically requiring 4 or better to hit. Monster damage is fixed - often wounds but sometimes sanity loss or a combination of the two - which the heroes must roll against their defense value to avoid. Hero damage is a 1D6 minus the monsters Defense although some weapons like the lawman's shotgun use a D8.

3.) Combat is very simple like cavemen in a cartoon taking turns bonking each other on the head with a club. There's no fancy miniature rules requiring overwatch, blind movement, or difficult calculations similar to 1st edition AD&Ds grappeling and overbearing rules.

So in a nutshell, it's another Flying Frog game only this time it's got persistence and it's a DM-less Dungeon crawl.
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Sebastian Beck
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So there are no different behaviours of the monsters?
 
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Gavin Downing
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Beckikaze wrote:
So there are no different behaviours of the monsters?


There's basic programmed in behavior for all monsters, but different monsters can have different elements that alter that basic behavior.
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Jarrod Murray
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Beckikaze wrote:
So there are no different behaviours of the monsters?


I was there and just posted the photo's I took. Each of the monsters has a monster card that shows its stats, as well as all its different abilities. They are all quite different, and some of them require you to roll a D6 to determine how they will actually function once they come onto the board.

Some things like "Chitin Plating" on a monster might affect the way critical hits against that monster work. The Zombies have Fear, which causes you to take a sanity hit every time you start your turn adjacent to a zombie. Hellbats move through units ect..
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Yes but what about behaviour? The things you describe are more capacities and powers than behaviours.
For example are there monsters that attack the most wounded player or the one who attacked them last, the one who carries the most darkstone or things like that?
 
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kyryahn wrote:
Yes but what about behaviour? The things you describe are more capacities and powers than behaviours.
For example are there monsters that attack the most wounded player or the one who attacked them last, the one who carries the most darkstone or things like that?


In our game for instance, the tentacles would never attack the same person twice. Usually monsters will attack one person and stick to them, so that was a divergence from the usual behavior. We only got to see 4 different types of monsters in play though in the game we played, so I didn't get to see them all in action.
 
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kyryahn wrote:
Yes but what about behaviour? The things you describe are more capacities and powers than behaviours.
For example are there monsters that attack the most wounded player or the one who attacked them last, the one who carries the most darkstone or things like that?


I wasn't there, but I think FFP said during the Kickstarter that different monsters do behave differently. I recall reading that melee and ranged monsters act differently. Also, that some monsters divide evenly against heroes, while other monsters gang up on a particular target. I could be wrong, but I think there was something about a monster that likes to go after the lantern holder. I wouldn't be surprised if darkstone also makes you a preferred target for certain monsters, as you suggested.

gavindowning wrote:
There are also, more infrequently-spaced, clearly marked spots on the track that cause Very Bad Things; these were called (if I recall correctly) Growing Dread cards. Growing Dread cards are drawn and placed into a special stack, but they are not revealed until the final battle has begun. (The final battle can indeed last a while, so we had our first Growing Dread card revealed mid-battle, which meant it was immediately put into play -- ours made our goal through a portal to an adjacent Otherworld tile, with additional tentacles added to that final fight.)


The Growing Dread stuff is a mechanic I have not heard mentioned prevoiusly. Can you elaborate on how the stack of cards gets revealed? It sounds like you aren't just flipping them all up at the start of the battle.

Quote:
The tentacles were quite a bit more durable, but I faced them at the very very end of the game, and most of them were taken out by a lucky dynamite throw, so I don't recall their effect.


I think one of the videos or updates said that Tentacles have an ability called Smash, which lets them ignore defense on a 6, the way heroes do.

Quote:
The Goliath is a BRUTE. 20 health, 3 soak, and he ignores critical attacks (normally, critical attacks ignore soak). He also automatically deals 3 sanity to everyone at the start of their turn (they can roll to soak as normal). When he attacks, he hits everyone within three squares with three dice of attack. Each die that succeeds on an attack and isn't soaked deals three damage. It took us about 3-4 turns to take him out.


Ahhhhgghhh! I can't wait for this game -- it's going to be awesome! Did the Goliath come up as a random draw, or was it part of the mission? Also, "soak" is not the official term, is it? (Hope not -- yuck.) Sorry for all the questions.

Edit: Oh, one more thing:
Quote:
(The darkness counter and the hero counter can pass each other without any effect, but if the darkness counter gets to the mine entrance, the game is over.)


Maybe I imagine this, but I thought I recalled from one of the KS comments or updates or something, that once the counters pass each other, all future encounters go to elite level. Hmm... can't remember if I read that or not. It's possible that I missed my Sanity roll somewhere along the line.

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Growing Dread: So if the Darkness token hits a Growing Dread space, a card is drawn from the deck and set aside, face-down. As the token moves, multiple Growing Dread cards can be added to that stack. Looking at some of the pictures posted, there are a total of three Growing Dread spaces on the counter, so I believe that's the maximum number of cards possible.

When you get to the climax, all Growing Dread cards are revealed at once, complicating the final battle. In addition, if, as that final fight progresses, additional Growing Dread cards need to be drawn, they go into play immediately, partway through the fight.

(Soak isn't the official term; sorry. The proper word is "defense" for physical damage, and "willpower" for sanity damage. That's just a term my gaming group tends to use. Apologies.)

Our mission was to look for a Darkstone cache. This was a matter of finding two "clues" that would lead us there (some of the exploration tokens had a little exclamation mark on them, marking them as a "clue"). When we found the second clue, it was time for the finale. We drew an Elite threat card. That was the Goliath + two green threat cards. One green card was 2 peril dice of spiders, and the other was a peril die of stranglers and a peril die of spiders. Therefore, we ended up with the Goliath + hordes of critters.

As the fight progressed, we ended up with our first Growing Dread card, so it was revealed immediately. It was revealed that the goal wasn't in this room after all, but through a new portal, in an Otherworld room on the other side, filled with 7 tentacles, who joined the existing fight. We all survived the fight, but a couple of us were down to just a few points of health and/or sanity.
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Autoduelist wrote:
2.) Heroes move a random number of spaces (1D6) while Monsters move a fixed number of spaces according to a defined AI pattern.


Not sure how I feel about that. Random movement is one of my least favorite parts of other Flying Frog games.
 
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Arsonor wrote:
Autoduelist wrote:
2.) Heroes move a random number of spaces (1D6) while Monsters move a fixed number of spaces according to a defined AI pattern.


Not sure how I feel about that. Random movement is one of my least favorite parts of other Flying Frog games.

I specifically asked Jason this during one of the KS chat sessions. He said that there will absolutely be a variant for fixed movement.
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Neil Edmonds
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I recall a variant - not from the demo but from a Kickstarter comment - that the option to move 4 spaces was being proposed.
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Well that's really good to hear! I'd hate to have to house rule that quickly. Thank you guys for that reassurance.
 
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Think of Growing Dread cards as a timer incentive to not dawdle in exploring around. The Growing Dread cards make the final encounter more difficult, so the heroes want to minimize the number of these cards that come into play during the final battle (which is difficult enough as it is).

The longer the heroes take, the more rolls the Leader makes to Hold Back the Darkness. The more rolls, the greater likelihood that rolls will fail, escalating the Darkness token on the Depth Track. The higher on the Depth Track the Darkness token is, the more difficult the final battle will be... until finally, if it gets to the end of the track, the heroes automatically lose the scenario.
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gavindowning wrote:

Our mission was to look for a Darkstone cache. This was a matter of finding two "clues" that would lead us there (some of the exploration tokens had a little exclamation mark on them, marking them as a "clue"). When we found the second clue, it was time for the finale. We drew an Elite threat card. That was the Goliath + two green threat cards. One green card was 2 peril dice of spiders, and the other was a peril die of stranglers and a peril die of spiders. Therefore, we ended up with the Goliath + hordes of critters.

As the fight progressed, we ended up with our first Growing Dread card, so it was revealed immediately. It was revealed that the goal wasn't in this room after all, but through a new portal, in an Otherworld room on the other side, filled with 7 tentacles, who joined the existing fight. We all survived the fight, but a couple of us were down to just a few points of health and/or sanity.


I love it when stuff like this happens!

So how many decks of cards do you have arranged around the table? I'm used to a good chunk of space being taken up by decks in both A Touch of Evil and Fortune & Glory, but it seems there are yet more in this game! Do you always need the three colours of threat cards out, or is it pretty much a given that if your party is at a specific number, you'll only ever need green ones?

Thanks for all the gameplay info Gavin, you're a legend of a crazy coot!
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