Michael Hancock-Parmer
United States
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History Professor; Interested in Co-op Dungeon Crawler Design
I've been posting in the Second Edition Fora about this project. Allow me to mention this to those players not interested in Second Edition, but interested in a new set of rules that allow players to set-up, play, and finish a rousing game of Descent in 60-90 minutes.

I am in the middle of creating and play-testing Quests for this project, but I have a rough draft of the rules ready for comments and questions from the Board Game Geek community. And so...

At the heart of Descent: Journeys in the Dark 1.5 is the new-style Quest. This guide is divided, following this brief introduction, between Rule Changes and Rule Additions. Similar to 1e, before every game a quest must be chosen. However, in 1.5e a quest is a set of short encounters, as in 2e. These Quests are typically divided into two or more Encounters, known by the shorthand abbreviation of Acts I and II with an optional Finale, ostensibly a staged Boss Fight. Considering the limitations of time, heroes may choose to play a single Encounter, typically 60-90 minutes of play. How successfully the Heroes manage the monsters and challenges in the First Act will determine the layout, and ultimately the outcome, of the Second Act.

Additionally, Heroes could choose to play Quests from 1e with 1.5e rules for longer and more difficult play. Feel free to invent your own quests with the components, rules, and guidelines provided.

The purpose of the 1.5 Rulebook and Quest Guide is to provide a set of rules that allow those who own a copy of 1e (either Vanilla or some combination of Expansions) to play with their original pieces in a manner found in 2e.

1e Components Not Used In 1.5e

Town Marker
Glyph Markers
Money Tokens
Hero Order Tokens
Threat Tokens
Conquest Tokens
Specified Treasure Markers
Money Markers
Relic Markers
Training Tokens

Rule Changes
The various prop tokens represent the traps, obstacles, and quest-specific items available to the overlord player. In addition to special rules specific to each prop token, props may affect Line of Sight (LOS) and movement and may or may not be jumped. The majority of props remain unchanged from 1e to 1.5e, except for the following:

Does not block LOS. A figure electing to enter a pit space must spend 1 fatigue + 1 movement point. A figure otherwise entering a pit space (pushed, telekinesis, etc.) falls and suffers 1 wound (no armor reduction). In a pit a figure can only trace LOS to spaces within the pit and adjacent to the pit. Figures outside the pit may trace LOS to the figure in the pit. A figure may leave a pit by spending either 1 fatigue + 1 movement point or 2 movement points (MPs). Pits may be jumped.

Does not block LOS. A figure may enter a Water space by spending one movement point. A figure may leave a Water space by spending either 1 fatigue + 1 movement point or 2 movement points.

Does not block LOS. Blocks movement – however, a hero may immediately remove itself from a lava token by doing any of the following:
1) Immediately roll a black die. On a surge, the hero is placed on closest open space; or
2) Spend 1 fatigue; or
3) Suffer 1 additional wound

If a hero fails to leave a lava space, they die immediately and may not perform a Stand Up action. Instead, the Hero chooses an open space as near the Lava as possible for their fallen Hero figure. Any hero figure is then able to Revive the Hero as usual.

A monster that is knocked into lava will activate as normal on the overlord player’s turn and attempt to leave the lava space. If the monster cannot leave the space, it dies immediately. A figure that moves onto a lava space suffers 2 wounds (no armor reduction) and receives 2 burn tokens. Large monsters not wholly in lava suffer 1 wound and 1 burn for each square they occupy. Lava may be jumped.

Does not block LOS or movement. Each time a figure spends a point of fatigue on a corrupted space, the overlord player may draw one card. Each time a hero suffers a wound, the overlord may heal one monster the same number or fewer wounds. If a hero is knocked down on corruption, the overlord player may draw one card instead of healing a monster for wounds lost by the hero.

Good and Evil Altars
Do not block LOS or movement. A good altar is activated by heroes alone by spending two movement points. An evil altar is activated by heroes by spending two movement points and 1 wound, or by monsters by spending two movement points and killing the activating monster.

Hero Setup
The heroes choose Heroes from the Hero deck. It is suggested that Heroes create a balanced party with skill in each of the three possible traits: Melee, Ranged, and Magic.
NB: Following more play testing, I hope to come up with an easy to understand and manipulate rubric for choosing a balanced party of 1e heroes for a 1.5e game.

If the average Conquest Value of the Heroes is greater than 3, the Overlord begins play with an extra Overlord Card. If the average Conquest Value of the Heroes is greater than 4, the Overlord may begin play with 3 extra Overlord Cards.

Train Heroes
Heroes draw Skill Cards as in 1e, but any Hero may choose to return a single drawn skill card either for a replacement or for an additional die in a single trait, exactly like the purchasing of training tokens in 1e. For those playing with the Feat Cards introduced in Tomb of Ice, the hero players separate the three feat decks and shuffle them individually. Then each player draws the quantity listed and selection of Feat cards indicated by the starting skills section of their hero sheet.

Equip Heroes
Heroes must select equipment from the shop to outfit their heroes. They are allowed to carry a number of items equal to their available, open hands, one piece of armor, and one “Other,” whether an item or a potion of any kind. The store’s stock is limited; there may be enough of each item to equip all players, but is more likely that certain heroes may need to choose alternative equipment due to insufficient quantity.

Overlord Setup
Populate Overlord Deck
If this is the first time playing 1.5e, first remove all Spawn Cards from the Overlord Deck, as they will not be needed. Following this action, the Overlord may create a deck of any size or specialization with a minimum size of 15 cards and maximum of 30, and only one duplicate is allowed. In other words, an overlord player will have one of each card except for the possibility of having two of exactly one overlord card. The number of Overlord Cards and the existence (though not the identity) of duplicates must be public knowledge to the Heroes.

Hero Turn
1) Refresh Exhausted Cards
2) Resolve Lingering Effects
3) Equip Items
1 armor
1 potion
Items equal to number of hands
2 other
Up to 3 unequipped items may be carried in pack
4) Take 2 of the following Actions (may be repeated)
* Move Action
* Attack
* Aim
* Dodge
* Guard
* Rest
May either do 2 of the following
- Recover ½ maximum fatigue, rounded up (½ of 5 is 3)
- Recover 1 wound
- Remove 1 Burn token
- Remove 1 Daze token
Or remove 1 Bleed, Web, or Poison Token
* Concentrate
* Revive (See under Rule Additions)
* Stand Up (See under Rule Additions)
5) Resolve Rest Actions (Fatigue and Wound Recovery)

Overlord Turn
1) Move Boulders and Crushing Walls
2) Resolve Lingering Effects on Monsters
3) Draw One Overlord Card
4) Activate Monsters, one at a time, in any order.
A monster may perform the following actions:
- Move a number of spaces up to its Speed, spending movement points for certain actions like opening/closing a door
- Attack a hero

Movement and Movement Points

Hero Movement
Each Hero player and monster has a maximum speed on their respective hero sheets. This is the amount of free movement points available to the player in each turn. In addition, a Hero is free to exchange available fatigue for movement points on a one-for-one basis even if the Hero would normally not receive any Movement Points. A hero player is not required to perform a move action in order to suffer fatigue for movement. An example would be a Hero player that decides to attack twice on their turn may still move by using fatigue. Movement Points are used for the following actions:
Move figure one space 1*
Open/Close door 2*
Search for treasure 1
Give one item to an adjacent Hero 1
Drop Item 0
Walk up/down a staircase 1*
Drink a potion 1
Re-equip items 2
* indicates movement options available to monsters

Monster Movement
Large Monsters move identically to Small Monsters in 1.5e. Large monsters, for the purpose of movement, shrink to one square for their movement. This allows them to travel through hallways normally too small for them. A Large Monster’s position may change relative to the square from which they began their movement. An example would be a Bane Spider which counts its movement through a hallway from its upper-left square. When the Bane Spider has moved its speed, the overlord may then choose to cover that end square with any part of the Bane Spider so long as it occupies only empty spaces. Large Monsters must end their turn in open spaces and are required to be standing in open spaces when they make an attack.

Rule Additions

When a hero or monster suffers damage equal to or greater than its Health, it is defeated. When a monster is defeated, it is removed from the map unless there is a special circumstance for that monster, like the Undying trait. When a hero is defeated, they are knocked out.
Knocked Out

When a hero is defeated, he immediately loses all remaining fatigue in addition to his lost wounds. Unlike 2e rules, the Hero figure is not removed from the board. The space remains occupied, blocking movement but not LOS. The hero player discards any lingering effects and the overlord player immediately draws one Overlord Card. A knocked out hero receives no lingering effects, damage, or fatigue while knocked out and is immune to all attacks and hero abilities.

Unless revived by another hero, a knocked out hero may only perform one action on their next turn, and that action must be to stand back up. If a knocked out hero recovers at least one wound from being revived, that hero may perform actions as normal on their next turn.

Revive Action
Restore health to a knocked out hero in an adjacent space by rolling the Hero’s Magic Trait, doubling the wounds shown on the black dice. Example: Trenloe the Strong wishes to revive a fallen partner. Unfortunately, he has no training in Magic. On his turn, he rolls the white die and no black dice.

Stand Up Action
The only action a knocked out hero may perform. The knocked-out hero rolls one trait of dice. Example: Trenloe the Strong is knocked down. On his next turn, he chooses to role his Melee Trait (which shows 2 black dice), so he rolls the red die plus 2 black dice.

The following are suggestions taken from N.G.Martin’s Descent Augmented [v0.9]. These rules may not be strictly required to make 1.5e work, but would likely make for a more rewarding tactical experience.

Skilled Monsters
Monsters may choose to Move and Attack, Attack Twice, or Move Twice, similar to the hero players.

Balanced Undying
Monsters with Undying resurrect automatically, but each resurrection weakens the monster by giving that figure -1 Maximum Wound, -1 Armor, -1 Speed, and -1 Damage on all attacks. In addition, similar to 1e Undying ability, “overkill” ignores armor. This means that if a hero kills a monster with undying, any wounds beyond the maximum are applied automatically to the resurrection monster ignoring armor. If a monster is killed two or more times in a single blow, it may still resurrect if its maximum wounds allow it.

Before a hero player rolls to remove a Web token, they may instead elect to skip the remainder of their turn in exchange for three power dice, removing one web token for each surge rolled.

Grave Rot
If a Hero willfully chooses to remain “Knocked Out” instead of Standing Up, when that Hero is revived or chooses to stand up, that Hero recovers zero fatigue.

Potions are far less common in 1.5e and as such are more potent. Healing Potions, when drunk, will completely recover a Hero’s wounds. Power potions, invulnerability potions, and invisibility potions grant their effects for an entire turn. Invulnerabilty potions can be drunk at any time, even on the Overlord’s turn, with the Hero paying for the necessary movement point using fatigue. Fatigue potions have not been changed, considering that resting still provides an avenue for weary heroes to catch their breath.

Threading the Needle
Any hero or monster may attempt to make reach, ranged, and magic attacks through one or more friendly or enemy characters as if the interfering entities were not blocking LOS to the target. Declare the attack and roll as normal as if LOS were clear. This attack may be aimed or dodged and additional power dice may be added as normal. Count up range and damage as normal. If the attack is successful, next determine which figures this attack must pass through.
Next, determine if the attack successfully passed through the occupied space without hurting its occupant. To do this, re-roll another main attack die once, in order, for each obstructing figure along the LOS path, starting with the figure closest to the attacker. Determine the results in one of three ways, selected before the beginning of the Game:
Forgiving Method
For each roll, unless it is a “miss” (X), the attack passes through the occupied space toward its intended target. If a “miss” result is shown, the attack deals its damage to that figure.
Original Method
For each roll, unless it is a “miss” (X), the attack hits the occupied space. If a “miss” result is show, the attack passes through the occupied space toward its intended target.
Friends and Enemies Method
If the occupied space has a friendly figure, use the Forgiving Method. If the occupied space contains an enemy figure, use the Original Method.

Searching for Treasure
Searching is now an action and not a simple movement-point cost. Players should select one of the following methods when they play 1.5e:

When a Hero searches a treasure chest for treasure, the Heroes draw 3 treasure cards from the corresponding deck and choose one to keep. Treasure Cache cards act as normal, although the absence of coins in 1.5e makes these cards act more like a wild card. At this point, only the searching Hero is able to take their treasure and re-equip as normal. The other Heroes then place the Treasure Cards along the Game Board to represent what awaits them in the Treasure Chest should they search for treasure.
NB: This is generally the only way to obtain potions.

Much the same as the first method, with the exception that each Hero draws only their own treasure cards, drawing 3 cards and selecting one, treating Treasure Cache cards as normal.
NB: This is generally the only way to obtain potions.
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Martin Plourde
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Impressive work. I will try to read this in detail next weekend. I have not tryed 2nd ed yet, but have almost everything from first ed. Keep up the good work.
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"Every Board Game I Reach Is Dead"
United Kingdom
North Yorkshire
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It's nice to see I'm not the only one who immediately thought about doing something like this after playing 2nd edition! laugh

Just seems such a waste for all owners of 1st edition not to try and pinch all the best bits from 2nd edition to make the jaded 1st edition better in whatever ways they feel necessary!

I've also created a Descent 1.5 which includes rules for campaign play using the Road to Legend and Sea of Blood components, but I've yet to play it and refuse to place it online until I've play tested it in case it turns out to be terrible!

How do you handle actual scenarios with this ruleset? It seems hard to make much opinion on these changes and rules without an outline of the actual gameplay. I assume you will have to custom build several scenarios to make this work, as the objectiveless scenarios and quests in 1st Ed Vanilla and RtL/SoB would be no good.

What about errata and skill changes for those Heroes whose original abilities are rendered obsolete, and is their any other specific treasures/Overlord Cards, etc. that need removing for this version? goo

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Michael Hancock-Parmer
United States
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History Professor; Interested in Co-op Dungeon Crawler Design
I dumped a lot of time into this project, but in the end it just made me love Descent 1ed that much more.

You can see for yourself the fruits of this labor of love. There is an errata sheet for changes and suggested alternatives. The quests I came up with were fun to play and over very quickly, as promised. No single quest lasted more than 90 minutes...

... but that is not enough Descent for me!

Descent 1.5 Rules and Questbook BETA 1.0
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Bryce K. Nielsen
United States
Elk Ridge
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miflhanc wrote:
I dumped a lot of time into this project, but in the end it just made me love Descent 1ed that much more.

Heh, one of my friends says this everytime he plays 2nd Ed...

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