14 July 2010

Fierce Determination

A look at encounters and attribute tests in DungeonQuest

The priests of Kellos took me in and gave me shelter. They asked me nothing of the many heinous crimes in my past. But like all members of the Brotherhood, in time I had to face the purifying fire, and all my many transgressions became evident in the form of scars and burns over much of my body. I am a different man, now. I follow a different path, but I cannot forget my past. Only an act of true bravery, facing Dragonfire Dungeon and bringing back valuables for my brethren, will free me from the shadows of my past.       - From the journal of Brother Gherinn, Priest of Kellos

The sun is rising over Terrinoth, and the mighty Dragonlord Kalladra is preparing for his daily slumber. For a few brief hours, the magical stone door to Dragonfire Dungeon will open, welcoming the brave and the foolhardy to seek fortune and glory within. Dare you face the dragon’s challenge?

In our last preview of the upcoming board game DungeonQuest, we examined the basics of movement and exploration. Today, we’ll take a closer look at some of the deadly obstacles facing those who would enter Dragonfire Dungeon, and we’ll even take a peek at your ultimate goal: the lair of the Dragonlord himself.

When a hero moves into a space, he or she must encounter it (first placing a new Dungeon tile if the space was previously unexplored). We’ve already seen the dangers of one tile, the Spider Web. This glutinous lair has become the final resting place of many unwary adventurers who, once trapped, lacked the strength to free themselves. Should your hero need to cross this tangled mass, a test of strength is necessary... simply roll two dice. If the resulting sum is higher than your hero’s Strength rating, you have failed and become trapped in the web. You may, however, attempt to break free on your next turn by repeating the test.

Similarly perilous Dungeon tiles await all those who would face the dragon’s challenge. The Cave-in requires a test of Agility to cross (or as in the web, you’ll be trapped until you succeed), while the unforgiving Bottomless Pit leaves no room for error; you must test your Luck to cross it, and if you fail, you die! Of course, these special Dungeon tiles aren’t the only obstacles that require an Attribute test. Should you wander into a Trap room, you may find yourself facing a volley of arrows from the dreaded Crossfire Trap, or climbing out of a pit after a fall through a Trapdoor. Then there are the monsters, which we’ll cover in a future preview...

But fear not! It may seem like a physically weak hero could remain trapped forever in the sticky strands of a Web or the rubble of a Cave-in, while you spend your turns failing at a frustrating series of Attribute tests and watching the game pass you by. These heroes are made of sterner stuff, however, and don’t like to give up easily.

Every time you fail at an Attribute test (assuming failure doesn’t kill you), you’ll receive a determination token, representing your hero’s will to improve on the next attempt. You keep these tokens until you succeed at the Attribute test for which you claimed them (or give up the attempt, if applicable), and they temporarily increase the Attribute rating in question by one per token! In other words, as you try to muscle out of a spider’s web, you become a little “stronger” with each failure, increasing your chances of breaking away on the next turn. When you do finally escape, your Strength rating returns to normal.

Should you make it to the center of Dragonfire Dungeon, the ultimate encounter is in store for you: The Treasure Chamber. Great riches await those who venture this far, unless some clumsy, unlucky hero awakens Kalladra. Then, he must face the Dragon lord’s fiery wrath.

When a hero enters the Treasure Chamber, he randomly draws one Dragon card from the Dragon deck. In this randomized deck of eight cards, seven indicate that Kalladra is “Sleeping,” and the lucky hero may grab some loot. On future turns, that hero can continue to draw Dragon cards... but with an increasing risk of drawing the single “Dragon Rage” card, how long would you press your luck? Should the unthinkable happen, the unfortunate hero must discard his ill-gotten treasure, then roll two dice and suffer that many wounds. Assuming this doesn’t kill him, the badly-burned adventurer must then retreat from the Treasure Chamber, counting his blessings.

This brings us to yet another hero making the journey into Dragonfire Dungeon this summer. Brother Gherinn is a priest of great faith, and he believes that only by facing the dangers of the dungeon can he cleanse his soul. As a priest of Kellos, Brother Gherinn is no stranger to searing flames. As a result, he’s less likely to take damage should he face Dragon Rage, and his single-minded focus helps him pass tests of flesh and faith alike.

And don’t forget the big announcement from our last preview: DungeonQuest includes bonus character cards for use in Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Runebound, and Runewars! Whether battling beastmen in some lost tomb, adventuring across Terrinoth, or questing for his army’s cause, Brother Gherinn is willing to endure any pain to smite his blasphemous foes.

Join us next time for another look at DungeonQuest!

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