Hi from Germany,
as I have finished the incorporation of the DESCENT game (the start box) into my version of the CR-WoA-LoD dungeon crawl system, I'd like to present some elements to demonstrate that it is possible to run DESCENT adventures without an Overlord.
And there is no dungeon map provided to the players in advance of their adventure. Each game generates a new and unique dungeon.
The adventure. Eternal Guardian (based on quest 6 of the original DESCENT game).
Enesha (level 1 Black Warrior) (team leader)
Andira Runehand (companion)
Landrec the Wise (companion)
Enesha had heard the legend of the Eternal Guardian so many times that she finally decided to put an end to all those rumors or to bring this story to an end.
The small but famous (as main source of the Eternal Guardian stories) town of Baskaville was in high spirits. A team of four daring adventurers would try what have ended for so many in tragedy before: find and kill the Eternal Guardian deep in the dungeon of Semloh.
Bad luck struck the team at midnight a few hours before the adventurers had scheduled to leave Baskaville. „Some stinking bastard must have poisoned our wine“, Andira was upset and ready to kill somebody.
The first part of the travel to Semloh was eventless but near the village Okey, a Sahuagin tried to ambush the four lonesome travellers. It was a short, sharp fight, Enesha was wounded („That’s the price for experience.“), and Andira killed the aquatic monster firing a well-aimed arrow. The thankful people of Okey („This slimy scourge is finally gone.“) provided three small gifts to the team: a magic shirt for Enesha („Will protect your skin, flesh and bones.“), an advice („Beware of the undead! They are strong at Semloh,“) and a scroll listing 11 names of monsters („Kill’em and the rest of the evil hordes no longer will be so dangerous.“)
„Never think those villagers are plain stupid. Sometimes they really have powerful magic“, Landrec told the three girls.
The rest of the journey was eventless but it was a long march as the original objective – an ancient battlefield – did not provide the entrance to the dungeon of Semloh.
„The Eternal Guardian must have found this place most inconvenient“, Landrec mused.
„Definitely so!“ Enesha confirmed. „Note those engravings in the skulls here.“ It was a grim map, but very accurate. „This is just outside Baskaville!“ „Calm down, Andira. We just march back, have a good time, then enter the dark corridors of Semloh.“
Here you see the travel route of the four adventurers. The prequel serves as a "warm up" and can also be used to make new players familiar to the basic game mechanics (movement and fighting).
Once at the dungeon, the type (or category) of it is determined.
This adds some extra flavor to the story and provides some more challenges to the adventurers. So far I have defined eight basic types of dungeons. Any other ideas?
Here is the scenario or adventure description.
No location text etc, but plain data about adventure specific parameters.
The dungeon itself is built step by step during the flow of the game. I use Tile cards to create room after room, corridor after corridor.
The top left card shows the start tile composition (easily copied from the original adventure map). The top right deck contains all Tile cards specific for adventure 6 (the original dungeon plan provides the key data about which rooms and corridors are in use; the arrangement is NOT fixed). The bottom left deck contains cards showing those "dead end" tiles. Those tiles are very important as they limit the expansion of the dungeon. The bottom right deck contains a specific number of random Tile cards normally used for other Descent adventures. All three decks are shuffled and create an unpredictable flow of rooms and corridors although all adventure specific elements are to pop up sooner or later (e.g those infamous colored doors).
The dungeon adventure is about to begin.
Note the two small markers. They indicate that this location can still be searched twice. The "Zombies" card is one of the "gifts" from the prequel. Some undead monsters will be slightly stronger than normal (if they show up in the dungeon). Those small elements are vital for the fun of the game as each of them is simple but the combinations of them actually have the potential to create large parts of the story (no Overlord required).
The entrance area to the dungeon was rather large. Enesha checked the hall and found ... nothing.
„We better find the magic item turning the Eternal Guardian mortal before he, she or it, finds us first.“
„Wise words, old man“, said Andira.
The picture shows the typical steps of exploration conducted by an adventurer. First, a Tile card defines the tile to be played next. A dice roll determines if the new location is "white" or "black". A Room/Corridor Content card describes what is found in the new location. This time it was a Monster counter. The counter drawn requires to place exactly one monster on the corridor. It is the archer shown here (each monster comes with a card describing its values and tactics).
„Watch out! There is a guard. An archer.“ Enesha yelled. With incredible speed, the Yuan-ti fired four missiles. All hit.
„I’ll be damned!“ Enesha whispered as the magic shirt proved its value. She was unharmed by the arrow. Vampyrya just ignored the arrow. „You bastard should aim better. This toy cannot kill me.“ The other two adventurers suffered.
Vampyrya dashed forward, attacked the poor sentry in melee and her teeth found their target. „You don’t taste. But blood I like.“
The first enemy was gone.
„Room ahead. Some desk in there.“
Note the marker placed near Vampyrya to indicate the space where the monster died. This allows adventurers to search for treasure there.
Andira checked the northern wall of the room. „Solid wall overhere.“
Landrec checked the entrance hall again. „You girls are simply too impatient.“ And he was right again. „There seems to be something in that corner. Take a look, if you want, Enesha.“
End of turn 01.
Anybody interested about what happened next?
The adventures and the material provided by DESCENT are great stuff and can be turned easily into challenging adventures "told" and "driven" by the game system. I'm looking forward to incorporate all those expansion sets of DESCENT.
Here is turn 02.
"Come on guys! We must find this magic item to have a chance against the guardian." Enesha searched the eastern room and pointed south with her torch. The Black Warrior detected a bookshelf, a short corridor leading south, maybe some treasure and ... a second Sahuagin. He was fast asleep. Enesha activated two of her talismans. The sentry was instantly killed.
Note the R/CC card which required to place a "surprised" monster. The rest is story telling.
Vampyrya followed her friend and discovered another room.
Note: the team had now collected 3 Conquest tokens, one per room of the dungeon. If the number of those tokens is ever brought down to 0, the team is defeated and must exit the dungeon. Mission failed. Collecting a specific number of those tokens will provide one piece of the Shattered Amulet for each adventurer.
"Just a heap of rotten books, scrolls and documents." Andira remarked.
The furniture pieces are provided by Heroquest. Each piece of furniture may be checked. Andira rolled a "3".
Landrec walked a long distance, a rare occasion indeed. He checked the eastern wall of the room. "Remarkable! Most remarkable."
The tile card lists a Cavern Edge tile but it also requires to place an Encounter marker. They can be picked up like items or treasure. But then the adventurer must decide to either "use" the marker or accumulate it. The more Encounter markers the team has collected, the more favorable the possible results of using them would be. Otherwise, the team might miss an opportunity as they must wait for the next marker found in order to use them. This marker may never show up ...
Would you have the adventurers pick up and use the Encounter marker?
Pick it up but not use it?
Simply ignore it?
Here is the situation at the end of turn 02.