After one too many heated arguments with the Provost, Professor Leoric of the University of Greyhaven was invited to go on an “extended sabbatical.” As an adventurer, Leoric’s constant references to his scholarly texts quickly earned him the sobriquet “of the Book.” Leoric’s sabbatical continues as the former professor applies his magical knowledge in the field and seeks out long-forgotten knowledge and wisdom.

Over the past several weeks, our previews of the upcoming Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition have alternated between two types: those that reveal core mechanics, and those that reveal the thematic and strategic choices players can make. From the first type, we’ve explored such concepts as combat and the campaign system . From the second, we’ve seen both the Warrior and Healer archetypes and their associated classes.

Today’s look at Second Edition will continue in the latter vein. Mages are powerful spellcasters capable of unraveling the mysteries of runes and tapping into the arcane secrets of the world. In Second Edition , these masters of the supernatural are represented by two classes, the destructive Runemaster and the ominous Necromancer. We’ll delve into more detail in a moment. First, however, meet Leoric of the Book.

Leoric’s Hero Ability offers his party welcome supplementary defense, while his once-per-encounter Heroic Feat allows him to envelop nearby enemies in the destructive power of his equipped Magic weapon. Perhaps most noteworthy, however, is Leoric’s substantial Knowledge attribute. His decades of study are represented by his Knowledge value of “5,” which gives him the wisdom to overcome almost all trials of the mind.

Elemental Energies

Their true origins shrouded in mystery and conjecture, the runes of Mennara are powerful artifacts that the greatest scholars have only begun to understand. Runemasters are mages who have devoted their lives to these relics of the dragon wars, and who have learned to tap into their considerable magical properties. To his ignorant foes, a Runemaster may appear to wield nature itself, calling down the wrath of the heavens and causing the earth to tremble with a gesture. Indeed, even a Runemaster’s companions must take care, else they find themselves singed by an errant blast of flame.

Should the distinguished professor choose Runemaster as his class, he’ll begin his adventures with the Arcane Bolt rune, which fires piercing darts of raw magical energy at the overlord’s minions. He’ll also take with him the ability to focus his mind through his runes, represented by the Runic Knowledge starting skill. As with any class, however, where he goes from here is entirely dependent on his individual tastes and play style.

If Leoric’s player wishes to pursue an “area of effect” style of attacks, he might spend his experience on skills like Exploding Rune or Break the Rune . Alternatively, he could take a more focused approach (and one with less risk of friendly fire) by learning skills like Quick Casting , Runic Sorcery , or Rune Mastery . Although each of the aforementioned cards requires a weapon with the Rune trait, fear not. A true Runemaster learns the art of inscribing magical markings for himself, turning otherwise mundane daggers and maces into vessels of arcane wrath.

The Dead Rise

Distasteful among so-called legitimate spellcasters for their unsettling fixation with death, Necromancers nevertheless make useful allies in battle. The formidable sight of a Necromancer shuffling into the fray, wielding his Reaper’s Scythe , is enough to scatter whole parties of monsters. But it’s the Necromancer’s skill with the dark arts, and not his appearance, that makes him a true asset. As the only Second Edition base game class to provide a familiar (using his Raise Dead starting skill), the Necromancer affords his player the unique ability to engage with several monsters per turn. He can even briefly reanimate defeated monsters !

Additional skills allow the Necromancer to bolster his familiar’s already significant powers. Vampiric Blood gives this shambling horror extra offensive might, along with the ability to channel energy directly to its master. Similarly, for the more defense-oriented Necromancer, Undead Might lends the Reanimate additional health.

With the first step down the unholy path that is Necromancy, all followers of this dark art learn the importance of sacrifice. A Necromancer might use his skills to affect large groups of foes, even turning his own Reanimate into a walking bomb of boiling ichor. Corpse Blast does just that, allowing the Necromancer to attack a tightly assembled group of enemies. Army of Death similarly calls upon the dead, compelling them to rise up and attack whoever dares tread on their resting places. Note that although this powerful skill uses the Necromancer’s Reanimate as a reference for the strength of the undead army, the attack actually originates from the Necromancer himself.

The way of the Mage is perilous, but those who accept it, and can complete its decades of training, are some of the most powerful heroes in the realm. Keep checking back for more in the next few weeks (including the rules!), and look for Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition later this summer.

Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition is a story-driven board game for 2-5 players that takes a party of adventurers deep into the dungeons of Terrinoth for adventure, treasure, and glory. Players will embark on a campaign of linked quests as they develop characters based on four fantasy archetypes.

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