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

Subject: How much information do heroes get? rss

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Virko Jõelaid
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Hi,

I have not completely understood that how much information should heroes know before we start an encounter.
Should they know everything there is in setup/special rules or should some of that information kept secret from them?

I know i can make a house rule about that but what is right according to the rulebook?

The reason i ask is that if heroes know everything before starting the encounter it will ruin some of the suprising elements there are.
For example:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Overlord revealed - When heroes re-seal the first portal it would be a little "shocking" for them to find out that zachareth is the overlord.

The Frozen Spire E2 - Frederik turns out to be agressive and saveing him isnt as easy as it seemd.
 
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Jan Probst
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Everything. This is not an RPG.
See also text box on page 1ish of Quest guide.

Edit: Well, I guess if coincidentally (far from a necessity, maybe not even recommended for first timers), the "rules guy and quest book handler and explainer" role coincides with overlord (generally better given to a less experienced Descenter or first-timer), one might omit game-irrelevant flavor text like the overlords identity as long as the mechanics are clear ala "after the first portal the big bad spawns and gets an interrupt turn and has abilities xyz".
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David Munch
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I give them the information that I'm supposed to read, and then whatever I think necessary for them to know - Which usually isn't very much! We are both supposed to have fun..
 
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Rob "Bodhi" Wolff
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Seconding the clarification -- in this game, players get access to *all* information.

In fact, to NOT share information is actually to put one side at a disadvantage. An unfair disadvantage, in a many-vs.-one style game!

Players can open up the quest guide, read every quest, make charts, and use all the data to help plot out their choices. Nothing is held back.
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Virko Jõelaid
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Weltenreiter wrote:
Edit: Well, I guess if coincidentally (far from a necessity, maybe not even recommended for first timers), the "rules guy and quest book handler and explainer" role coincides with overlord (generally better given to a less experienced Descenter or first-timer), one might omit game-irrelevant flavor text like the overlords identity as long as the mechanics are clear ala "after the first portal the big bad spawns and gets an interrupt turn and has abilities xyz".


I like that idea
 
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Karl
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I'd second the opinion to give them all mechanic information and keep the fluff hidden until revealed. So they get story surprises, but have perfect information for gameplay.
 
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Dawid
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There is no hidden information in this game. Read first page of quest book (or just text in border on the upper right).

These are not a spoilers
Silvos wrote:
The Overlord revealed - When heroes re-seal the first portal it would be a little "shocking" for them to find out that zachareth is the overlord.

The Frozen Spire E2 - Frederik turns out to be agressive and saveing him isnt as easy as it seemd.
This is just a story to the game. (By the way Zachareth is Overlord's lieutenant.)

If you are looking for dungeon crawler game then Descent 2 is not game for you. This game is not one time only. Quests are designed to be played multiple times. How do you want to keep secrets in that case?
And why do you deny knowledge to hero-players? Because you are Overlord? Because game is your own? How about owner wanting to play Hero and denying knowledge to Overlord?

There are things which are designed to be unknown and quest book specifically says when this is. There are quest where overlord can for example decide between couple of spaces where to hide key of some sort. There are quest where he can delay placing of monsters until doors are opened. Overlord cards are designed to give heroes a dose of surprise. But other than that it is simply unfair to deny them information.

Thain Esh Kelch wrote:
We are both supposed to have fun..
Chances that game will provide fun to both sides are greater, when both sides have equal chances to win (which in this game means - equal knowledge).
 
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E.M. Proc
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You may want to read through this thread which dealt with a similar question...

The general consensus (and which I agree with) is that all players know everything unless the quest guide specifically instructs information to be withheld...

And while I don't have the quest guide in front of me, I'll snag this quote from the other thread as well:

Quest Guide, Public Information, page 2 wrote:
These quests are all written with the assumption that all players know all the rules and victory conditions -- in short, unless noted, none of the information is secret.
 
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Darren Nakamura
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What little story spoilers could be had in The Shadow Rune were ruined for me when I opened the box and started punching tokens and reading cards. There's a Zachareth token, a Zachareth Lieutenant card, and the Shadow Rune Relic reads "Zachareth only" on the Overlord side. I don't think it would be easy to surprise anybody with that "big twist" at the Interlude. Even if you keep all of that information from your heroes, it's pretty easy to see coming regardless.
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Virko Jõelaid
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Ignipes

Well so far i have told heroes everything there is to know but in Frozen Spire i thougt it would be a really nice twist to not tell heroes about Frederik's agression towards them and let them discover it by opening the door. They liked it and thay still managed to win.

I had no intention to get advantages by doing so... instead i tried to make that encounter more interesting. And i know its not possible to do so next time with the same group.

BTW are u sure Zachareth is not the Overlord? Who is?
 
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Andy Mills
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Silvos wrote:

BTW are u sure Zachareth is not the Overlord? Who is?


You are, silly.
 
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Virko Jõelaid
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Well i got different impression while reading The Shadow Vault's Overlords winning flavor text
 
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Robin Reeve
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Silvos wrote:
Well i got different impression while reading The Shadow Vault's Overlords winning flavor text
It is the heroes who are surprised. Not the players.
Not speaking of the flavour text, but keeping an element like Frederick's agression secret is tipping the scales in favour of the OL.
Of course, people play how they want to, but when an OL hides information and thus gives himself an advantage, we call him a cheater in our corner of the woods.
The OL is not an RPG game master: he is an opponent of the heroes in a tactical contest.

What if heroes hid their skills and heroic from the OL?
I am quite sure nobody plays that way... but it is the same deal for me: they would just be giving themselves a hidden advantage over the OL and would be cheating too.
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Virko Jõelaid
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I have no intention to cheat. I was already pretty sure that everything is reveald to the heroes but it seemd weird that heroes could knew that Frederik is going to attack them. So i asked here if i have understood it correctly.

That one group where i kept a little secret consisted 2 kids and i (as overlord) playd it very lightly... just wanted to make things more interestig.
 
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Darren Nakamura
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This question comes up a lot, and while I wouldn't outright call cheating, I would say that if you and your group wants to play this more like an RPG, with information that is hidden from the heroes, then you will want to make sure you clear that with the heroes, letting them know explicitly that by deciding to play that way, they will be putting themselves at a tactical disadvantage (and sometimes a very severe one, at that). If everybody around the table agrees to play like that, then go ahead and have fun with it. That's not how the game was designed to be played, but if you're enjoying it then I don't see a problem playing it like that.

Personally, from a game design standpoint, I don't like the idea. The thought that each group could only play any scenario once with the desired effects just seems really inelegant to me.
 
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J B
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As far as I can recall, the only info in this game that is secret is stuff that is secret from EVERYONE (overlord included) in that something is the result of a random token shuffle or some such action.
 
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Dawid
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Silvos wrote:
Ignipes

Well so far i have told heroes everything there is to know but in Frozen Spire i thougt it would be a really nice twist to not tell heroes about Frederik's agression towards them and let them discover it by opening the door. They liked it and thay still managed to win.

I had no intention to get advantages by doing so...
Maybe without intentions, but you gave your self a little advantage. In normal circumstances they can take Frederic attack into consideration.

But I can understand your desire of game having this kind of revealing outcome of your decisions. And I would love to see something like this too. But this game at this moment doesn't provide this.

I have an idea of introduction this kind of unknown to this game.
In appropriate situation quest description would give couple of possible (very different) events to happen. Dice roll (or something else) could decide which event will take place. So the heroes couldn't be certain of anything.


Silvos wrote:
BTW are u sure Zachareth is not the Overlord? Who is?
manydills wrote:
You are, silly.
Silvos wrote:
Well i got different impression while reading The Shadow Vault's Overlords winning flavor text
Read the other Interlude overlord winning flavor text. Zacharet tells about his master there. And in one of the Finale he can even be devoured and you as the Overlord still can win the game.
In Game Overview they wrote:
Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition is a game for two to five players
in which one player takes on the role of the overlord, while all other players
take on the roles of heroes.
 
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Alex Martinez
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It seems like this comes up with Descent and games like Descent all the time.

Descent is NOT a RPG game. It is a board game, and it is a board game designed with clear cut goals and obvious victory conditions for both sides. Secret information is how many games are designed to be played. Descent is not one of them.

Especially given the fast play of the encounters, hero players would be at a severe disadvantage if they didn't know exactly what they were trying to do. Many encounters come down to the wire, and if the players are wasting time trying to figure out how to beat the overlord, then the game can simply become unbalanced.

Again, NOT a RPG.

Of course, you're free to play it however you like, but if you're playing it like an RPG, you're doing it wrong.
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J B
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I find when it comes to Descent, many people play the OL like a friendly Dugeon Master, out to make sure all the players have a good time roleplaying. This doesn't work for Descent....the OL should be doing his best to win by crushing the heroes utterly.
 
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never enough time
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Interesting observations. We're mid-way through a campaign ATM, with two of us controlling a 4-hero team, and we're playing (on mutual consensus) D1E style with the overlord withholding information. You're absolutely right, it does make the game more difficult; we've lost all but one of the quests we've attempted. But it does add a little flavour to the experience. Essentially, D2E is 90% race, and starting the race by (as it were) running in the wrong direction is always going to put you at a disadvantage...I don't know whether this is more a flaw of 'playing blind' or more a flaw of the poor balancing in the game (it's incredible that in a game with a campaign mode designed to last for tens of hours of gameplay, no-one at FFG had the basic gumption to think "hey, maybe a negative-feedback catch-up mechanism would make the gaming experience more enjoyable than a positive-feedback runaway mechanism").
 
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Rafal Areinu
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Catch-up mechanisms have one big flaw that's nearly impossible to avoid. Once people know the catch-up mechanism there will always be someone going to game it. Always. If there was catch-up mechanism then it would be probably more useful to reap as much benefit as possible from the quest, then lose on purpose to get catch-up benefit. Do it for whole campaign, then win last quest - the only one that counts.

All board games that I tried that had catch-up mechanism essentially made me want to be the runner up for most of the game, everyone bullied the #1, for which the game is completely no fun, and to add insult to injury afterwards someone else grabs the win at the last second.
 
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never enough time
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I take your point, of course, but I don't see this as an 'either/or' option; speaking with my former-life 'control systems engineer' hat on, what you're looking for is a mix of regulation-strategies in the game mechanics (comparable to the philosophy behind a PID controller, where combining very different regulation mechanisms can give the best overall system response)

-so for instance, in a descent campaign, you reward the winners of individual quests (as the game currently does), but come e.g. the interlude, your choice of interlude map (or maybe, starting-settings within that map) is actually a compensator, so if the heroes have been crushed, they get an easier ride for that stage, or else if the overlord has been struggling, he gets a map which gives him an advantage, to slightly level the field going into act 2. that sort of thing.

It's a fine balancing act to make the balancing mechanics effectively 'invisible' to the players, so that they can focus on enjoying the game experience. (Perhaps a few more control-systems engineers ought to become board game balance specialists!)
 
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Rafal Areinu
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There might already be those invisible for the players regulators - you might just not see them. I know for sure that there are some act 2 quests that are easier for players if they lost in act 1.

Unfortunately having invisible or nearly invisible catching up mechanism will not stop people complaining about lack of balance. Most vocal people claiming that often didn't even go past their 2nd quest, having compensator in interlude won't help them.

And players might see more of your balancing mechanism than you intended, which will still lead to abuse. There is type of a player which is often called min-maxer. They like to crunch the numbers, simulate, and break the systems. You need only few of those and they will let the world know what their findings were.

Also you have to remember that all balancing systems that add new rules might not even work. People miss a lot of rules when playing for first time, and even second, and rules that are not often used are done wrong even more.

My belief is the game should strive to be as balanced as possible, and the best catch-up mechanism should be post-game discussion between players pointing out mistakes and possible countermeasures to some tactics.
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Josh B
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Weltenreiter wrote:
Everything. This is not an RPG.
See also text box on page 1ish of Quest guide.

Edit: Well, I guess if coincidentally (far from a necessity, maybe not even recommended for first timers), the "rules guy and quest book handler and explainer" role coincides with overlord (generally better given to a less experienced Descenter or first-timer), one might omit game-irrelevant flavor text like the overlords identity as long as the mechanics are clear ala "after the first portal the big bad spawns and gets an interrupt turn and has abilities xyz".


Yup. To quote the SPECIFIC section, pg. 2 of the Quest Guide in the upper right of the page reads as follows:

PUBLIC INFORMATION

These quests are all written with the assumption that all players know all the rules and victory conditions - in short, unless noted, none of the information is secret.
 
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Proto Persona
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Didn't check the dates of the last posts did you?
 
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