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Descent: Journeys in the Dark» Forums » Rules

Subject: How do you heal your party characters? rss

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Jeremy Lennert
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Your understanding of the rules seems to be correct. There are some treasures that can be used for healing, as well, but the primary ways of getting health back are to drink potions or die. If you want to use potions, you may want to keep a couple on your belt and drink them as you're fighting, rather than trying to quaff them all between battles.

But basically, the OL wins by attrition, so giving the heroes cheap, rapid healing just would not work at all in this game. Not even if you limited it to "between battles" (which you can't really do anyway, because the Overlord can potentially spawn more monsters at any time).

You must get used to the idea that the heroes will occasionally die, and that is OK. You just need to keep your deaths rare enough that you don't run out of conquest tokens (and you won't even always succeed at that--the OL is supposed to win occasionally, too).

On a side note, if your heroes almost died in the first room of the first dungeon, they are doing something horribly wrong (if you're referring to the first room of another dungeon, then maybe that's more reasonable).

And my impression of D&D, based on comments of various people who have played it quite a bit, is that in almost all cases, healing during battle is a waste of actions and healing between battles is effectively unlimited. The combat healer archetype seems to be more a production of Final Fantasy and MMOs--games where battles are totally asymmetric and players are supposed to win virtually all of the time. And even then, they're usually very poorly balanced, or their balance is based entirely on the assumption that the players will manipulate the monster AI, neither of which is acceptable for a competitive game.

Also, introducing healers to Descent would make it extremely difficult to balance the game for different numbers of heroes. Admittedly, the scaling already doesn't work very well, but that would just blast it to smithereens.
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William Collins
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side note:

as far as D&D goes, healing people in the party during combat is a valid tactic...for instance, if you your main fighter is getting blasted, it's better to keep him in the fight, doing damage a few more rounds, than it is to let him die so that your cleric can use his mace. It's not always a good thing to do, but you have to do it fairly regularly. Also, healing potions are used in the same capacity, frequently, to keep one's self or adjoining friend from going down too early in the fight.

The above goes for all versions of D&D, by the way.

 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Well, at least as far as 3rd ed is concerned, the clear majority of players I've talked to disagree with you. But I can't really speak from personal experience, it's always possible I have a biased sample, and this is tangential anyway.

In general terms, in order for healing someone to be worth an action, it needs to keep them alive long enough to give them enough extra actions to make up for the action you sacrificed plus the extra actions the monsters are getting by not dying sooner. In Descent, it would also need to make up for the extra cards and threat the OL gets because you made the battle take longer to finish.

Descent is deadly. There is nothing remarkable about killing a monster in one hit, even if you don't have the strongest attack of the party, and it's not terribly surprising if a hero with full health is dead by the next round, either. So the bar's pretty high.

There is no room for a healing archetype without a massive redesign, and I don't see any clear reason that having one would improve the game.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Ranged weapons tend to do less damage than other options already, but the bow is a totally unacceptable weapon for a character with only one black die. In fact, even with a specialist and the power-up from the errata, it's fairly difficult to justify unless you've got a skill that boosts damage. Seriously, if you use the errata'd version (which has Pierce 1), a hero with 3 ranged trait dice and 0 melee actually still does more damage with a sword than a bow; Red Scorpion does more damage with an unarmed attack. The bow is apparently "balanced" on the theory that range is worth as much as damage, which is patently false.

Once equipment is sorted out, even with only 2 heroes and fairly mediocre draws, you should probably be killing the master beastman and roughly 2 other monsters before the OL's first turn (battle actions, spend fatigue, drink vitality potions--Varikas with an axe will probably one-shot the master, and even Red Scorpion has a good chance at killing a normal beastman per attack in a 2-hero game using a crossbow or sword). And after that, the remaining monsters shouldn't pose a meaningful threat. Clearing the room without taking any damage at all would be lucky but not remarkable.

Note that there's no particular advantage to starting with a variety of weapon types--you'd prefer your heroes to have black dice in different traits so that you can use whatever treasure you happen to draw, but there's no reason Red Scorpion or Lyssa can't grab a sword or axe for decent damage even if you've already got a melee hero (or two) in your group. It's not like there are monsters that are "weak vs. magic" or anything like that.
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