Years ago, I stopped playing pen an paper roleplaying games mainly because of two reasons: The time investment needed had become just too much, and I was tired of all the discussions about ambigous rules and broken game balance. Some time ago, a friend of mine bought Descent, and I thought "Great! That might provide just the quick fix of RPG I need from time to time!". Then he bought Road to Legend, and now I'm playing the Overlord regularly every Thursday evening, discussing unlcear rules and broken skills and items. Uh...what were the reasons again why I had quit playing RPGs?
|Session 1||First dungeon level||Dec 9, 2008|
|Session 2||First dungeon, level 2 and 3||Dec 10, 2008|
|Session 3||Dungeon at Thelsvan Highway||Dec 14, 2008|
|Rant||...on armor and damage||Dec 14, 2008|
|Session 4||An encounter, and first level at Gardens of Tarn||Dec 23, 2008|
|Session 5||Second dungeon level, and The Twins||Dec 27, 2008|
|Session 6||Weeks 5-7, Dust to Dust||Jan 3, 2009|
|Session 7||Weeks 8-11, completing copper level||Jan 20, 2009|
|Session 8||Week 12, Party overview, and setting a hero CT record||Jan 21, 2009|
Hello and welcome to Kylearan's Descent: Road to Legend campaign diary! In here, I will describe the adventures of five(!) custom-made heroes trying to defeat me, the evil overlord. There are a lot of excellent campaign diaries already out there, most notably on BoardGameGeek and in the Fantasy Flight Descent forum, but I hope what will make this one interesting is that it is played with five heroes instead of four, and that these heroes are custom-made using Kevin Wilson's rules posted on the FantasyFlightGames Descent site. Since there have been a lot of questions about how the game plays with six players and which variant rules to use, this diary can serve as a guide how to do it - or not, we'll see.
Our group consists of some very good players - some of them have over a decade of experience in tactical war games (most notably Battletech). Tactical combat is not my strongest point, and I'd even go so far as to say my players will be able to beat me in tactical combat any day. My experience and strength lies more in the strategic side of things, which in this game means hand/deck handling, overland movement and managing upgrades, so I hope to make up for my weakness in tactical combat there. This will become interesting, and I'm very much looking forward to the campaign!
This diary will grow as we play. We plan on playing once per week for a couple of hours, with some extra sessions thrown in for good measure during the holidays. You can always view a summary of the events so far and the current situation on the Aftermath page. I will always try to spell out the rationale behind my actions in the diary, but will not talk much about my future long-term strategies, as my players will most likely read this as well. We cannot allow to spoil them, can we?
If you'd like to ask a question or comment on the diary, feel free to send me a mail! So without any further ado, let's talk about our variant rules, introduce the heroes and then let's get rolling!
The game has been designed and play-tested specifically for four heroes. Not more, not less. Bringing in an additional hero shifts the balance quite a lot in favor of the heroes. They now have a complete extra action per turn to bash monsters, get treasures or activate special tiles; they have additional skills and abilities that might affect the whole party and thus enhance party synergy; they cover more line of sight to prevent monster spawning, and thus are expected to cause a lot more hurt than the 25% more that it looks like on first glance.
To compensate for this, we came up with the following variant rules after a lot of discussions and forum reading:
All being roleplaying gamers at heart used to build their characters on their own, we decided to use Kevin Wilson's custom rules to create your own hero instead of drawing the characters randomly. Personally, I'm a bit disappointed about that, as the resulting characters and their abilities are more boring, and it makes it easier for the heroes to optimize their party. While some of the premade characters are stronger than the custom system allows, being able to adjust all the characters to form a party with extra synergies can be powerful. But I've been voted down on this, so...
My players decided to create three melee characters, one ranged and one magic user. Here they are:
The first tank of the party, Thorgrim the Dwarf has a decent armor rating and a very annoying ability (for the Overlord at least): The -1 damage effectively increases the party's armor rating by one against melee attackers (and giving him an effective armor rating of 6 in the beginning with a chainmail). The range reduction is a little less useful, as not many ranged creatures will attack the party standing so close to Throgrim. His one weakness which offsets his powerful ability at least a little bit is his lack of fatigue, we'll see how much this will hurt him in the long run.
Sarina von Tharn ("von" is German for "of" - she must have German ancestors...quite fitting for a tank ) is the most valuable character of the party in my opinion, because of her Command ability. The price for her power is slightly lower armor and, similar to Throgrim, reduced speed. To benefit from her ability, the party has to wait for her when advancing.
The third tank is Kenor, with an impressive combination of high armor and speed. Ironskin means he will be immune to most effects, but his low fatigue might haunt him later on.
Rin the Deadeye Thez is the ranged character in the mix, and in my opinion the most well-rounded of all the characters. He's the runner of the party with his 5 speed, has enough fatigue to use for whatever he wants or to increase his movement range even more, and still has decent armor for a ranged character. His ability is not such a near-broken one as Throgrim or Sarina have, but will help him to increase his damage output nonetheless.
The only magic character in the party is Vari...no wait, Vrati...er, Vrajitoru the Unholy. He is a magic monster with 5(!) dice to start, and has a good speed. As befitting for a magic-user, he has low armor but should do okay as long as he hides behind the tanks. He has low fatigue though, which my opinion might turn out to be a major weakness. His player has already announced his desire to get the Spiritwalker skill, which I (and every other Overlord) dread.
His main weapon though, which makes most of my monsters cowering in fear already, is...his name! Remembering, let alone uttering it is almost impossible, and any monster trying to shout "Die, Vrato...er, Viter...no wait, V---*splat*" will die a horrible death when first its tongue, then its brain explodes. Fear the mighty V-man!
Overall, this party is well-rounded and *very* powerful. My players have taken great care to include the important abilities that effect not only the individual character, but buff the whole party. The armor rating of the tanks is fearsome, and I think more powerful than it would have been when characters had been drawn. Thanks to Thorgrim's defender ability, effectively I have to face armor 6, 6 and 5 on the frontlines (including starting equipment) - tough to get through!
To add insult to injury, here are the skills my players have drawn: Vramtijutra has Blessing, so overall the whole party has Command 2 from the get go. Yay. Thorgrim has Bear Tattoo giving him grapple, so he will be very dangerous when facing my lieutenants. Sarina has Unmovable, giving her a free guard order when making a battle action and +1 armor until her next turn - as if I needed even more armor to get through... Kenor has Weapon Mastery providing 2 free surges when attacking, which together with the high Command makes his damage output scary. And finally, Rin has Precision, allowing him to shoot through one figure or obstacle.
I guess I should be thankful Vertijumbri hadn't drawn Spiritwalker and none of the tanks has Leadership, but apart from that I'd say they have very good skills overall, nicely fitting their party strategy. These heroes should be tough to beat, but I'm feeling confident I'll find a way!
So I knew roughly what characters my players were creating, and especially that I would face high-armored tanks and a defender, but also that some of them would lack speed a little bit. One counter to this setup would be ranged attackers and pierce - and who is the king of ranged attackers? Yep, the Sorcerer King. With Snipers as his starting upgrade. Additionally, his specialty is traps, which would come in handy to damage or even finish off those pesky tanks.
Since this is our first Road to Legend campaign, we want to see as much of the game as possible. In light of this, I chose Obsidian Shackles as my plot. It doesn't provide another victory option to the Overlord, increasing the chance for an endgame battle in the Overlord's keep, and since the Sorcerer King is said to be one of the best for the endgame battle (note however that "best" does not equal "good"...), this was fine by me. This doesn't mean I wouldn't try to raze Tamalir though...
Now that both sides of this epic struggle have been introduced, let's get rolling and kick some ass...read on to find out whose asses it will actually be: The heroes', or the Overlord's? One final note before the action begins: This diary contains spoilers about the encounters and dungeons. Especially, I used the Dungeon Levels with Respective Leaders cards created by Elena Fernandez (Juhiza at BoardGameGeek, thanks a lot!), which include the complete description the dungeons.