Dungeon Saga Downtime

MolochGratuitous picture of big red guy 🙂

In the Advanced rules for Dungeon Sagas it would be nice for Heroes to have a life outside the dungeon, however abstracted that may be. As DS is not an RPG I’m not talking about describing the Barbarian’s rabbit stew in detail, nor fretting on how many copper pieces it costs for the Dwarf to get a decent ale in this village. I don’t think that’s necessary. However, some life between adventures helps round out the characters, explore the background of Mantica, and generally tells a better story – all of which are good things and worth doing

Another important thing that needs to happen between adventures is calculating any experience gained by the Heroes (and the Monsters). As we’re doing both of these at the same time they will overlap somewhat, and in fact may as well be integrated where possible and appropriate. Even so, to stop me rambling on for another small novel like I did yesterday, I’m going to split the experience bit off into its own article for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, back to Downtime.

Salamander HeroWhat I mean by Downtime is the period between dungeon adventures, when Heroes need to heal, re-equip, train up, spend their loot and anything else they can think of. For me, this needs to be something that is characterful, an interesting decision, and fairly quick to resolve. I’s great if it can add to the character and the fun of the game, but it isn’t the whole game.

My current plan goes like this. After an adventure the returning Heroes have some basic stuff they get to do automatically. This involves at least some healing up and may involve experience (more on that tomorrow). These are necessary (but very small) bits of bookkeeping for the game rather than things you need to decide on. That comes next. Once you’ve done your chores then you can play 🙂

Downtime essentially means picking one place to visit or thing to do between two adventures. There are many things you might want to do. Some will depend on your character’s race or profession, some will cost you gold or other resources, some will make you gold, and many will be available to all. Some examples of Downtime options include:

  • Tavern (because it wouldn’t be a fantasy adventure without one)
  • Mystical Market (buying and selling special or magical weapons, armour, potions and so on)
  • Temple (making offerings to curry favour with the gods or atone for sins. Linked to experience for clerics and paladins)
  • Other Temple (there’s more than one god in Mantica, so may be more than one temple with different options for visitors. Some of these may take the form of sacred pools, fire pits, etc, depending on the faith)
  • Arena (linked with experience for any combat-based characters, but can also be a family afternoon out)
  • Thieves’ Guild (buying/selling dodgy gear, experience for dodgy characters)
  • Prison (may or not be a voluntary visit)
  • And so on…

By limiting the Downtime between adventures to a single place per Hero (though they could each pick a different one) the players have interesting decisions to make. By making all the options good in some way (though perhaps not all equally good to all Heroes) the decision becomes even more interesting.

To add another layer of interest to this, not all of the Downtime options will be available at every place the Heroes rest up. There’s always a tavern, but not always a sacred pool of water spirits. You can imagine the sort of thing. Again, this adds to the fun of the choice as you don’t necessarily know when you’ll see that option again. Will you buy magic axe for me while I go to the…

Individual options will allow specific actions, such as buying magical items or learning new spells. Some will be a choice from a list, others will be a dice roll. Basically, each option is there to add flavour, character and to give the Heroes a bit more of a rounded tale to tell beyond “I killed the monster and took the treasure”.

823f3772cf7c7ae74ef1a51ca082b9b8_largeOn a related note, there was a suggestion in the comments earlier about having a table or other means of dealing with the journey to and from a dungeon. If we end up doing this then it would most naturally integrate with this Downtime element. I can see pros and cons here. On the up side, it can add to the story and the set the scene. On the down side it’s an extra thing to do every time, and as we don’t want the main event to be pulled off a random table then whatever happens will only be relatively inconsequential. Heroes won’t die from this, nor should they gain great rewards, which makes me wonder how much point there is to it. What do you guys think? Is it worth including?

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105 Responses to Dungeon Saga Downtime

  1. PikaRapH says:

    I think Downtime must be set in the aftermath of each scenario or at least in the rules of a campaign. For example,each place (I mean dungeon) leads to a specific town/room/whatever, but if you stay in the dungeon, you can’t visit a shop (apart from being able to travel through magical portals).
    This shouldn’t be chosen at random as each scenario needs to be played a specific way, players need to have access to specific things to be able to walk through the dungeon(s).

    Will the Necromancer have access to Downtime too ? New spells bought with XP if he managed to crush some adventurers in a nice way for example.

  2. eriochrome says:

    I would expect the for the campaigns the rest stop availability might be determined by the scenarios. Maybe some give the players the option for a rest but then give the necromancer player bonus cards or something to offset whatever the heroes gain during the rest. Giving the heroes a choice to try to press on if they did really well in a scenario. It could also integrate a way to continue campaigns if heroes lose a scenario. They are forced to tend their fallen companion and not visit their favorite haunts but the necromancer still gets bonus cards for the next scenario.

  3. Jeppe Hatting says:

    What a delicious update! Love the idea that each hero can visit a different place. Makes each player have to think what would be best for their hero and not for the team.

    The to-from events is something Descent does. On road to a dungeon the heroes encounter a series af small events which can give minor advantages or disadvantages in the following dungeon. The idea is fun but,the events or often so insignificant that they dont matter.

  4. Bobalot says:

    Exciting stuff. One of the longest running mainstay games between my friends while we were in our GW phase was Mordheim. A good game, but for us the thing that kept driving us back to the City of the Damned was all those amazing post game tables to roll on. The game was fun but lets face it the combat wasn’t great and quickly became first one to hit wins in later campaign but the exploration and injury charts kept us coming back for more. It added so much to the characters and as you say tells part of the story and to this day whenever we roll a particularly unlikely amount of the same number we go back to the Mordheim book to see what that would have netted us.

    I will always remember Luke Skywalker the double handed weapon wielding champion who went permanently insane, believed he could fly and so took every opportunity to do so off of buildings who then learnt the flight spell he found in a tome exploring the ruins after combat and then COULD fly. I absolutely think that any random encounters or similar things you can add into Dungeon Saga can only improve the game. You could always keep it optional so people who want a more streamlined/board game experience can opt out of it.

  5. I think it would be great to include in the rules. As you say, it won’t give a lot of xp and some player won’t care for it, but they can drop this, while the player who do like this, will be very happy to have it.

  6. LCK says:

    This is awesome! Love the concept of Downtime. Re: joinery… some folks like it, others don’t. I found it a bit of a pain in WHQ. It was so random: I stopped to help a bunch of farmers stuck in the mud and my warrior injured his ankle and had a -2 to movement for the next dungeon. All well and good in a computer game as the computer remembers it for you, but in a boardgame? I can take it or leave it.

  7. Adam Fair says:

    I agree with the idea that the post-dungeon options should be dictated by the scenario (or at least by approximate area/terrain type). Some dungeons might be part of one huge dark fortress with little opportunity to recover (and possibly hostile random encounters getting to the next dungeon), others might be set on the outskirts of a massive city, with options galore but the risk of getting nobbled in an alley.

    I’m still very much in favour of random events/encounters between dungeons, as it helps build the sense of a wider world and a bit of fun variety. I would always give the players a choice in each one though (even if it’s just whether to engage or not) to prevent frustration, and make it about gold, items & information rather than XP or HP.

    I do have fond memories of the massive tables in Warhammer Quest, but they definitely tended a bit too far towards “completely random”, even if they were always entertaining.

  8. Philip Waldron says:

    There must always be watery spirits available, else it is a church hall and not a tavern. -1 to the heroes
    The badies need a place to go…a brothel where they might even meet the goodie two shoes. Cue a new game and an extension to your house Jake!
    I would like to see some interaction in downtime and not just rolling on a set of tables. Perhaps after visiting the brothle the hero just might take something with him, for good or bad.
    There should also be the possibility of a new hero joining the band with equal experience as his new brothers and sisters.
    Keep up the good work

  9. Jeff says:

    Would it be possible to include the option of hiring/releasing heroes in between dungeons? So if you realize you don’t need a thief the next dungeon but having a paladin instead would be better, send the thief home to rest and recruit the paladin. But have the thief hanging out in case you need them the following dungeon, with equipment/experience unchanged.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Changing Heroes between adventures isn’t something I’d really considered. Usually players get attached to certain characters and want to see them gain experience and fancy items. I suppose it partly depends on whether you are playing all the Heroes yourself, in which case you may well look on it as more of a group thing than individuals. I don’t see why it would be a terrible thing to allow.

      • Teemu Hemminki says:

        What about henchmen, like in (Advanced) Hero Quest?
        Maybe party could hire one “lesser hero” as a specialist on some of their quests, of course that fifth wheel would want his share of the treasure in addition to his pay.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I’m not sure how Mantic will look at henchmen as a concept, though I have a fondness for the idea. It would also be much the same mechanics as needed for having pets, and things like big cats for Elves and throwing massifs for Dwarfs are embedded in the background already. In any case, they would be glorified equipment, in effect. We shall see.

  10. robh says:

    I would say absolutely not on random journey events, same as making “downtime” a game session.
    They are fun to do in a rpg setting and an important part of learning new skills and gaining XPs before attempting deeper dungeon levels….(see the amazing Rappan Athuk or Lost City of Barakus sandbox campaigns for the ultimate in this immersive style of gaming). But in Descent they are a pretty tedious activity that doesn’t add anything to the game and take up time in the play session, we used to leave them out anyway.

    As you already point out DKQ/DS is not intended as a role play game, I think people craving gameplay like that need to looking at an rpg not a boardgame.

    • PikaRapH says:

      Yup, a downtime like the Deadzone one would be good : not too long to handle but with some choices that change things.

    • Teemu Hemminki says:

      I agree. If the journey could be a part of the scenario itself, then it would be acceptable and might even be fun. But if it’s just a nuisance like “random encounters” in jrpg’s, then I say no to them.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The Downtime is not supposed to take more than a few minutes to resolve.

  11. crimsonsun says:

    Personally I am not so fussed about journeys though I think settlement events are quite fun as long as its quick and easy to resolve. Actual post game activities I am however fully behind from general stores to temples, or Arcane libraries I feel these are essential though I feel a lot of what you can do with these will depend on how your Class system works especially for locations that allow you to learn or develop skills that are not a part of a characters normal development path.

    Once again though while I enjoy a lot of variation I would be hesitant to make any locations activity complex beyond the player making a selection from what’s on offer. I also like the idea that not all locations are found in all settlement types etc I feel this is great and will likely inspire some of the artistically minded members of the community to create areas of manticia and the settlements within. I will say however that such a campaign that is restrictive on the sites that offer rare/unique development options will need to be clearly understood by players as it will not work if someone has a very unusual build in mind for the character that requires some very specific locations for the development of their Feats, talents, equipment and other abilities.

    Finally and most importantly it is essential that the Necromancer has something to be doing in this phase because otherwise that player is left doing nothing while all the Heroes get to polish there big shiny new swords. I also do not think he would be popping to the Tavern for a quick pint (at least not openly). I feel various activities he or his bosses could go to such as: Visiting the cemetery, or have an abyssal dwarf Engineer rig some new Traps, Go to the Warg Fights to choose some new guard pets, visiting the assassin guild for new poisons, Summon entities to form diabolic packs, calling a meeting of chieftains to garner support for outside your sphere of influence, or maybe just kidnapping a virgin to use her blood to quench the blade of your newly forged a new Demonic Weapon.


    • Quirkworthy says:

      Yup, the Necro gets to do stuff between adventures too. I’d mentioned this earlier, but forgot to recap in this post. My bad.

      I thought the same about people making maps of these things. And why not?


      • LeighShepherd says:

        I think the Necromancers options should in some wsy be tied to the success of the Heroes mission – if they fail to rescue that villager, then the sacrifice is made – if they fail to find the dagger of dowotnot, he summons something even more powerful… of course, his options if he is thwarted would then be more generic boosty things to offset the fact the Heroes have had a boost too.
        Tables I always feel are a bit of an old school way to resolve things, and are a bit set in stone – maybe a deck of cards would be a more pricey but more flexible option? That way, you can always add to the possibilities in the future by adding more card types to the deck. I suppose you can alwways rewrite the table, but doesnt feel as elegant somehow!

        • LeighShepherd says:

          ACtually, one solution I had to this kind of thing was a self generating table… you have a blank sheet that has squares in 6 rows by 6 columns (for the 36 potential dice results – as the game progresses tokens are added or subtracted to the squares to create the random table for in game and after game effects

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Self-generating tables are an intriguing notion, though I suspect not something Mantic would want to use. Cards have the advantage of being easy to manipulate, add or subtract to and from and generally mess about with.

          The Necro’s options should surely be related to how well he did, not how well the Heroes did. Otherwise you’re rewarding him for their success and penalising him for his own, which seems very odd.

      • LeighShepherd says:

        Yeah- the problem is if the heroes win, they need to benefit from it and the necromancer needs to suffer, or vice versa but not so much that you get a runaway syndrome where a couple of wins on one side hamper the chances of the other side ever catching up, hence even if he loses out on his scheme, he gets some other choice that can help him out in other ways – boost is perhaps the wrong word, but something to keep him in contention!

  12. Torkel says:

    I don’t necessarily like random journey happenings wherever you decide to go. I guess it tends to either overshadow the choice of destination, or to be insignificant and just a chore.
    But kind of do like the idea that some destinations can include a risk. Lets say by going to a certain (possibly important) destination, the hero may run into something dangerous or experience something .. significant. The party could even be required to decide who to send to that particular place. Which hero will take the risk. So essentially make dangerous journeys a feature of a few specific downtime destinations.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Perhaps on a few limited occasions, but if it’s significant then why not make it part of the adventure?

      • Torkel says:

        Well, it would be part of the overall adventure. But not directly a part of the “dungeon crawling”, because it ties in with the downtime destination, and may impact the choice of where to go. The type of event we’re talking about could affect the next dungeon visit though. That was the idea, anyways, but I’m not sure I answered your question. I’m just thinking out loud.

        • Torkel says:

          I should clarify that I don’t see it as a fighting encounter. Fighting is for dungeons.
          A rather banal example would be:
          “By visiting Shady-smuggler’s Tavern, the hero has 20% change to not be trusted and be taken prisoner. Resolve downtime as for prison instead.”

        • Quirkworthy says:

          It’s a marginal one. Some folk love it, some hate it. I’ll have a tinker with it and see if I can get it to work. No promises though.

  13. Troy Baker says:

    I like the idea of a player choosing to send their character to prison (note the distinction between character and player). The vast majority of readers will be flabbergasted at the idea BUT players from the story end of the threefold model understand that sometimes it’s fun to get your character into trouble. Distilling that down to a simple dungeon crawler could be as straightforward as mixing buffs and debuffs on the ‘time in gaol’ table.

    Alternatively prison could simply be a sub-table for characters that have been caught doing something naughty on a nefarious table (rob the mayor’s office table: roll poorly and choose to either pay a fine or roll on the prison table).

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The challenge is adding cool story elements as well as impacting the game (stats, buffs, etc) and doing it all in a quick and simple mechanic. I’m sure it’s possible.

  14. tombennetharrison says:

    I really like the way Shadows of Brimstone handled their downtime, you could have something along those lines? A separate board with a Town tavern, Surgeons Room, Blacksmith etc. Getting rid of (major wounds (new rule if you go down, draw a card and suffer a persistent effect till removed)) damage, and selling and buying equipment etc

    • Nakano says:

      The separate board sounds good! And if one place isn’t open/not in the location, a separate token would be put to mark that the area is not available.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I prefer a deck of cards to a board, though we may end up with a table in the book. Can’t have cards for everything 😦

      The advantage of cards is that you can add one or two with a quest pack to give even this step an appropriate campaign flavour. If you’ve printed a board then you can’t change it as you go along as easily or cheaply.

      • tombennetharrison says:

        Decks of card would be great. Campaign creates a really good system to play with! http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-UNEaiw6ZZ5o/U_vW5cUcb8I/AAAAAAAAD94/DF_JaoVPaJE/s1600/Town.jpg

        this is more of what i meant with the town board, simple and effective. Alogn with persistant injurys that u have to get rid of. and cant be healed by players (:

      • Nakano says:

        You’re right, cards actually would be a lot better. Those could be used to randomize the town. Of course a table sheet with dice rolling by dungeon master would work too filling the places of town our hero arrives. Not that pretty solution, but still a functional one.

      • ezeqiel says:

        I agree on the use of cards instead of a board to allow that ability to change options depending on the campaign scenario or last dungeon visited etc

        But what about a combination of both?

        This would utilise a single printed board with some scenery artwork etc as per a game tile but with positions for the downtime cards to be placed and (potentially) positions for the heroes to be placed beside the cards drawn?
        So you could have 5 card slots on the board to offer a choice even to the last hero that is being placed (only having 4 means that last hero will feel like they’re are getting the “unwanted” option – this applies only if you implement a restriction on players having to visit different options during downtime – this might be seen asa negative but forces meaningful choices too).

        Whilst the cards themselves will have some artwork and the detail of the place and benefits of visiting, having the board to place them on gives players that physical, visible reminder that downtime is available and is part of your heroes journey (by actually moving them to the board!) and ties into the tile laying aspect of the main game.

        The board could feature some generic artwork for a tavern, temple, guild, market tents/caravan, fighting pen, gibbet/prison etc with an outline overlayed to place the drawn downtime cards on to show what is active/available on this occasion.

        For places such as temples that may offer multiple options at the same time, this area/artwork on the board could be a little bigger and allow for multiple cards to be placed alongside each other.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          The board would add expense and I don’t think it would add much to the game. Also, if you wanted to change the location then you’d need to do new boards or the locations and art on the card wouldn’t tie in. Sounds like an unnecessary cost for no real benefit. If the budget was there for a board I’d personally rather spend it on more models or cards 🙂

        • crimsonsun says:

          I am wondering if you really need something this complex for representing the fact that hero X is going to location Y, I am honestly struggling with why for a 10-15 min break in play that players would need a visual reminder of what there character is up to and if such a player was part of a group surely his/her group would be able to gently remind them?
          Also by having such a hard coded visual system you are by the fact of pure materials costs limiting the options that can be included with such player aids which personally seems to be a waste of resources of no gain.

          On the other hand I can see where Cards would be a fantastic inclusion in the down time area of play, first and foremost could be quest decks for the purpose of generating minor quests. You could have 4 decks of minor quests, the first one being the largest Tavern Deck from which the group as a whole pulls a single additional quest before every dungeon (could be optional sometimes other times not). This deck would have direct rewards listed upon the card itself, as well as additional experience earned for its completion.

          Then two smaller decks one for Arcane/Divine location quests one for family/politics/subterfuge quests which could be used when a player goes to a related location they can optionally gain a personal quest in addition to there other activities at that location. This quest if completed will provide benefits at that location if they visit it again following the dungeon (has to be the first chance the player has to visit the location, otherwise some charlatan will claim the reward – thus making doing so more restrictive in how they spend there down time). All quests could have a difficulty, and all locations a series of options for the rewards at each difficulty (in addition to experience earned) from which the player can select a reward of equal or lower rating from the options. Such a system would be fairly easy to include and provide a whole host of options and variability to the game as a hole. I also feel that these quests do not have to be completable by all character classes or levels of hero, if it is beyond the player they can barter assistance from other players or they can refuse the quest before the dungeon. Failure to complete the quest (if accepted) could also have minor negative influence upon the characters next visit to that location.

          Finally a forth deck would be for Necromancer minor quests but essentially function in the same way as Tavern quests for the players (IE. No negative effects for failing, only rewards/XP listed).

          Not sure if this is going to far but I do think its a fairly easy way of adding a huge amount of variation into the game.


        • ezeqiel says:

          Ok, this is going to be a long one so bear with me, it is multiple ideas that could actually be taken and used as separate elements rather then one cohesive whole (tho I think it might work as a system, but with a little streamlining!)

          @Jake – there would be an added expense and this would make it prohibitive, but it wouldn’t have to be the finest card stock. As it’s a minor element of the Advanced Rules, having an A4/A5 printed card would also serve the purpose – lets call it a “Settlement Mat”
          Double sided printing on this mat gives you two types of settlement – a town and a hamlet with variation in the number of location card placements differing on both sides. See the below link for a quick mock-up (I do mean quick):
          Side A – Town: http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s195/raziel_eire/Web%20drop%20box/DS_Downtime_Board_Town.jpg
          Side B – Hamlet: http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s195/raziel_eire/Web%20drop%20box/DS_Downtime_Board_Village-1.jpg

          These would work alongside a couple of other elements which are:
          1) Settlements Card Deck/Reference Table*
          2) Locations Card Decks
          3) Double-side Settlement Mat for Location Card placement
          4) Side Quests Deck**

          A little more depth/detail on the above:
          1) When entering “Downtime” draw a settlement card:- the upper part of this card gives the city/town/hamlet name, providing fluff text to build the world of Mantica and possibly a small piece of art, the lower half of the card details the Settlement Mat side (A/B) and the available locations in this settlement (1x Tavern, 2x Lodgings, 2x Temples, 2x Guilds, 1x Market etc)
          *The cheaper option (with less fluff) is to use a Settlement Ref Table

          2) Place the Settlement Mat down with the defined (A/B) side up

          3) Shuffle, then draw from each of the Location Card decks the different types of locations available as defined on the drawn Settlement Card and place them face-down in the areas designated on the Settlement Mat

          4) Players choose where they want to visit and pop their character beside that location

          5) Flip over your chosen Location Card and in turn declare what +/- effect you receive on your visit to that location
          (The Location Cards would be split in two halves:- top half of the card is location fluff – name of tavern/artwork/line of lore, the bottom half is the location buff/effect)

          6) Each player also has the option to choose a Side Quest during their settlement visit and can draw a Side Quest card. Once read, they can choose to decline the Side Quest and receive a minor -neg effect or accept it and retain the card for reference during their next main dungeon quest (keeping it secret)

          **Having a single Side Quest Deck removes the chance to have very location specific quests, but this could be got around by including flavour text like “As you walk past the Tavern, the Innkeeper beckons you come close and offers you a reward in exchange for…”

          **Alternatively, you could also reduce the fluff (how very dare you! 🙂 ) on the Location Cards and use one half of those cards to offer the optional side quest aswell as the received location buff/effect. It could then be tailored to be specific to the location card it features on. The drawback here, is that to reduce repetition of same buff & quest combinations you would need sizeable Location Card decks.

          What are the benefits of the Settlement Mat? As I see it/sell it:
          > Theme, theme, theme – immersion into the Mantica world and not an abstract concept
          > It’s a boardgame – people love components
          > Ties into the tile laying aspect used to create the main dungeons
          > It’s a physical area to place heroes while lifting/laying dungeon tiles
          > Provides organisation/structure – e.g. for Location Card placement

          As Dungeon Saga is being marketed or atleast referred to as a board game (and potentially a gateway game at that), having a physical component offers non-experienced players a tangible element to grasp… “oh, that’s where we go while prep’ing the new dungeon tiles!”
          Before reading your blog, if you had mentioned “Downtime” in the same sentence as board games I’d have had no idea it referenced visiting a location or performing an activity between scenarios. Fair enough that some people do, but others will be in the same position as I was prior to my Quirkworthy Enlightenment 🙂 .

          It is something that whilst certainly not necessary, would add thematic value (think of Morcar’s screen in Heroquest – why’d they bother wasting money printing anything on that?), but ultimately would also lend itself as an avenue for fan-made additions depending on how you decide the system will work.

          @crimsonsun – I’m not sure I really agree that placing cards on a decorative, in-game art style mat could really be seen as “complex” even by an RPG/boardgame novice.

          The overall idea behind the “Settlement Mat” is to provide a fun, artwork themed area for card & hero placement between pull-down & setup. Who doesn’t love extra theme and art when playing with plastic figures in fantasy settings, eh? 😉

        • crimsonsun says:

          @ezeqiel You totally miss understood my meaning, though I admit the choice of words was poor. I was not talking about rules complexity but production because its a really simple concept, my hero is going to x to do x cool lets resolve that. I also went on to say that such a hard coded visual system is really over kill and would have a limiting effect upon the types of location that can be included.

          I obviously understand you feel differently which is cool for the world would be a very boring place if no-ones opinion differed though I will say its not so much I do not see why it could be a nice addition, I just would rather Mantic spent there production budget elsewhere, which at the end of the day will be fixed, meaning every component will need to be checked against its value before inclusion.

        • Danny says:

          Ezeqiel, I like your idea, and I’ve seen it used in a few games and it works perfectly fine and does add to the atmosphere of the game (Tomb is a good example as it contains a board to hold cards for the dungeon exploration as well as the “Downtime” where card decks are held in the tavern)…and if Dungeon Sagas came with settlement boards, then I’d like them and use them. Although, for variety purposes, I’d like to see at least two double sided boards (Hamlet+Village and Town+City). So four levels of downtime “Exploration” the larger the settlement the more options and equipment become available, and often for cheaper than in smaller settlement…but there is an increasing associated travel risk in travelling the distance to reach the larger settlements

          I also agree with the other guys that they are not really a critical element of the game and if that money could be better spent on extra cards for card decks to increase their range of variety (less repetition = more replayability), then I’d prefer to miss out on the boards and take the extra cards.

          Tables would be the cheaper option for events/quests etc, however tables don’t have the ability to stack and theme like a card deck does. So the more cards, for all deck types, the better in my opinion, and I truly hope that;

          1) Mantic continues to support the game by continuing to release expanded card packs and expansion quest packs etc into the future.

          2) Blank cards are made available so people can create their own random dungeon tiles, equipment, item, quests, events, monsters etc.

          I can easily imagine within a short period of time of Dungeon Sagas being released into the wild, that a whole range of fan made stuff will become available…and settlement boards will no doubt be one of the things that we will see being created. People can download them, get them printed at the local printshop in full colour and have them laminated.

          It would be very awesome if Mantic hosted on their website fan content for Dungeon Sagas.

        • ezeqiel says:

          @crimsonsun – I see what you mean (and agree mostly), it is certainly a “nice to have” idea and would come with it’s limitations. It’s probably where I value the additional theme to be level or outweigh the negatives you and Jake have already listed.

          @Danny – as per my reply to crimsonsun, you’re right, it’s not a necessary or critical component but one that would add flavour and theme, but could still be removed and have no adverse affect.
          I had considered the idea of larger towns & cities myself but including 2 “Settlement Mats” would have been an expense too far! (even for me 🙂 ). That said, 4 variations in Settlement types would be optimum for me personally.
          Whether the addition of travel mechanics to/from downtime are needed or not, having the variety in destination is still essential for that “flavour”, “character” and variance in location options that we are all after.
          Again, I agree with all the opinions stated where more variety in the card decks would a priority over the inclusion of any board.

          It is something that I can strongly see the community getting behind and developing our own “Settlement Mat” designs for personal print-out, if Jake designs the system with support for this fan add-on in mind.

          What say you Jake?

          I also go back to the question over how you define the configuration/make-up of locations per settlement. Is this better (more clinically) achieved with a table in the rulebook/journal or (more fluffily) better to be included as card deck? (new settlement cards could also be added in future expansions too as we expand across Mantica – increasing the options yet more).
          The use of a card deck would enable an easy randomness to settlement destination (draw from the top of the deck) with card space for associated artwork/lines of lore and location configuration for those sessions where players are not playing a “set campaign” but simply linking random dungeon generated adventures together with downtime in an open-ended excursion across Mantica.

          Sounds good already 🙂

  15. Danny says:

    Downtime between dungeons is essential in my opinion. It adds so much to the character and atmosphere of the game that any effort put into designing it, is well worth the end pay off for players.

    Certainly, some players won’t like it, and as I’ve said with other game elements, these things could simply be made optional. If some players prefer not to spend time interacting, even in a very limited capacity in a settlement, then they can just choose to complete the “Chore” elements that you’ve mentioned and then go immediately to another adventure. However for those who do enjoy this type of game play, then they can choose to have the “Fun” after the chores. As you’ve indicated, you like to have these elements all integrated, which I think is great, but if you could also somehow make it possible to have them separate and still work as optional rules…then more people would be happy with the way the game can be played.

    In regards to the overland/inbetween adventures travel. Personally, I see a lot of worth in it, adding even more character and narrative to the game. Again, it could simply be made optional for those who don’t care for it. Like the Downtime gameplay, fairly useless in one-off games, but very valuable in campaigns or a series of linked adventures….whether random or pre-determined.

    I like the approach you’re taking with the forcing of choices. by limiting heroes to one visit only. It would be a bit of an agonsing, yet enjoyable choice for a player when deciding to train in the arena to level up, or spend his time in the mystical market buying a beautiful and magical sword….can he convince another player to forfeit their one off choice to purchase the sword for him whilst he trains, thereby achieving two visits by proxy.

    I also very much like the idea that not all options are available at all settlements. Certainly, I would not expect an Elven Mage to be able to train to level up and learn a new spell in some backwater human hamlet. Essentially, the size and location of the settlement where the heroes perform their Downtime functions should have a significant impact on what they can and can’t visit/achieve, and also the costs associated with these things should also vary from one settlement to another due to many factors like local resources and trade routes etc, etc. The quality and variety of equipment and services should also be linked to the size of the settlement where the Downtime is being conducted.

    One of the reason I like the overland travel game element, is because if players want to have access to greater variety of equipment and services, then they must make the choice of increasing their risk to be able to do that…the risk being potential hazards during a more lengthy journey to reach these preferable downtime locations…it all ties in with player choice and narrative.

    What would be the function of a tavern? Gambling to take a chance at increasing your available funds to perhaps purchase that fine suit of chainmail that is currently just out of your reach? Going back to a question I asked previously (in regards to randomly generated dungeons – what is the purpose of the dungeon, why are the heroes there, how do they win that particular dungeon adventure)…well the Tavern would make a good jump off point for this, it may serve as a place where players playing a pure Co Op campaign using random dungeons can learn of Quests to be undertaken. Perhaps a series of quest cards, or a table full of quests or the like.

    I’m very much looking forward to your blog entry on Experience and Leveling up today!

    The KS campaign is doing very well…on the verge of 4500 backers as I write this and nearly at $710K…EXCELLENT…I really hope Mantic have a very solid plan for the next 38 hours to drag in as many backers and cold hard cash as possible…looking forward to breaking $1 Million…fingers and toes crossed 🙂

    Again, please keep these updates and information coming, its fantastic stuff and I’m loving seeing how the game is growing and in what direction it is going 🙂

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Perhaps some small element of travel would fit in here by giving the players a choice of going to the nearest hamlet to rest up (3 choices for Downtime) or travelling to the city (5 choices) at the risk of a bandit attack, or whatever.

      • LeighShepherd says:

        I think if you were to do them, encounters shouldnt be so much fighty stuff (enough of that in the dungeon!) but simple choices that can impact on the Heroes quest – something like the crossroad cards in Dead of Winter where you are presented with a simple choice (heal the beggar or ignore him), with different possible outcomes – a curse if ignored, a bonus if healed, or just losing a potion on a beggar!) 🙂

        Nop reason why these kind of things ccouldnt happen in town though – although if they happen on the way, then you cant then go and buy another potion!

      • Danny says:

        Something along those lines would be nice if you could manage it mate. To be clear, with all these suggestions I make, I’m not looking for a full evenings game session just for overland travel and town downtime alone. I’d be very happy with the quick to resolve choices and events you seem to be aiming for. I’d just like for these things to be flavourful and to provide a narrative, even if it is a rather short and shallow narrative. Its much better than a sterile set of choices, devoid of any flavour.

  16. Danny says:

    HMmmm, just thinking a bit more about the one visit thing. Depending on the function of the tavern, it may be a good idea to allow heroes two visit, one of which must always be the tavern, and one other if they so choose….everyone’s going to visit the tavern when walking in to town anyway, and depending on what you decide can be achieved in the tavern, it will still force choice on players…

  17. Matthew Grove says:


    I just wanted to add my thoughts about the side events to and from a dungeon. Make them optional. Warhammer Quest has this feature and I felt it slowed the game down. As you mentioned, this is not an RPG, but a board game. While I think the town visits are good to allow the characters to equip and heal, just let it be that. No need to have a long narrative here, just a quick buy and sell and then back to more exploring in the Dungeon. There are loads of RPGs out there if folks want that, but I think you have a great board game here and you should not muddy the waters too much with RPG elements.


    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’m aiming for this step to take a few minute to resolve. It won’t be a gaming session in its own right. I’m hoping that in a 2-3 hour evening session you’d be comfortably be able to play a quest through, do the Downtime, and then play another quest and another Downtime without rushing. That will depend on your players and their level of analysis paralysis, but as an average…

  18. Mordjinn says:

    Shadows of Brimstone seems to have a very interesting way of handling the downtime. Maybe draw some ideas from there.

    The more storylike and random you can make the options the better. For example a visit to a tavern shouldn’t always be the same. Maybe there’s a fight? Maybe there’s a girl who the hero met during the last downtime and they’re getting even more involved. With a bit of branching and thinking and option-mongering you can really add to the flavor of the game and offer much deeper and meatier experience altogether.

    It would be awesome if the Necromancer downtime would somehow be tied to the storyline of the campaign. And if you combine this with “blind” choises that might interact it would be awesome. The Necromancer chooses to kidnap a virgin –> One of the hero players chose an option to visit his family (and his virgin sister) –> Hero is present when the kidnapping happens –> Mini -battle happens and the next mission is to save the virgin.

    The travel to the dungeon should also be a choice:
    – The heroes choose the road, but walk. –> Safe and cheap, but takes a lot of time and the Necromancer player gets some kind of bonus.
    – The heroes choose the road and hire a cart –> Safe, but costs money. No bonus to either side.
    – The heroes choose to take the shortcut through a narrow passage and the woods –> Fast, cheap but dangerous –> Random encounters, maybe even mini-battles to be had.

    • Torkel says:

      I feel that these ideas, while exciting for an RPG, quickly become too detailed for what DS wants to be. Or should I say, too detailed for what I want DS to be. 😛 I realize we all have our hopes and expectations ^^

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Some interesting options Mordjinn, though I think you’re too far down the RPG path for most folk. My aim is to include the sort of flavour you suggest without forcing people into complex side-plots that detract from the overall quest. After all, presumably they’re playing DS because they want to play a board game not a full-blown RPG 🙂

      • Mordjinn says:

        If you can add the flavor without making it complex I applaud you.

        I think that us who want more story and less power gaming wouldn’t mind even if the options wouldn’t be optimal, if they contribute to the overall story arch.

        Perhaps basic rules in a box and advanced rules as pdf download? If you know how to do this more complex ruleset then please give it to us.

  19. Danny says:

    Torkel, the answer is to make them optional…then everyone is happy 🙂

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Maybe. It depends on how useful they can be. If you have something that is very beneficial then everyone will feel obliged to use it, even if it is officially optional. If they don’t use it then they will feel short-changed, and so they are in a cleft stick, none of which adds to their enjoyment.

  20. Jeff says:

    I got an idea! How about mini-Expansions, or Side Quests, for 1-2 Heroes using the existing KoW model range?
    For example: Mad Goblin Wiz Lair. Models: 1 boss (Goblin Wiz), 1 unique (Troll, trombone, mincer, etc.), 4-6 minions (goblins). Handful of dungeon tiles. Scenario. Done.
    Then other Side Quests: werewolf den, mummy tomb, Abyssal Dwarf torture chamber.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I think this sits in much the same place as the travelling stuff. It needs to be something that doesn’t detract from the main quest whilst simultaneously being interesting enough to be worthwhile. A tricky balancing act.

      • Tyr says:

        Its a pretty decent idea for selling stuff though. Design them as addons to a dungeon that come with their own mini scenario (since youd have the rules for the models anyway due to the kickstarter, it shouldnt actually be that much work, just choose set ups for the models and mission goals. Takes one or two days, maximum. Of course, this would mainly be something for Mantic to look into, since these would mostly just be to sell models. 🙂

        (oh, and regarding the actualy topic: It might be a good idea to have a map in the rulebook, with towns, villages, cities, etc, which represent the possible options. Have a key next to them showing whats in them (tavern, temple, whatever). Adds a lot of flavour, and isnt particularly more difficult to design than a normal table of options. Well, apart from the work of the artist. Might even work to show the progression of the campaign. Just a thought. 🙂 )

  21. robh says:

    I would propose that, rather than being in the current advanced rule books, enhanced Journey activities and town/tavern adventures should be done as free downloads from the Mantic Digital site. Make them optional but official and balanced to work with the advanced rules if desired without having them in the main book itself.
    In all honesty I don’t think any boardgame will do “downtime adventures” as well as an actual rpg does, I really don’t see it being within the scope of what I believe DKQ/DS was envisioned as being.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      It was part of the scope I had in mind from the start 🙂

      I don’t think it’s a matter of whether it’s “better” or not, it’s whether it’s done appropriately. What’s appropriate for board game and RPG is not the same.

  22. Downtime needs to be quick as” Quirkworthy says” You will probably find that more elaborate downtime options will be posted on fan sites as “House Rules” which individual groups can pick and choose from as they wish without feeling obliged to use them.

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  24. Onno says:

    I didnt read anything about quests in DS, so maybe it would be nice to pick up an individual quest and group quests during the downtime.

    Quests makes the game more interested then only hack and slash game play and wouldnt it be fun when the players having the choice to go for their own quest or for the group quest or trying to get both done.

    I sure hope dat you wil include quests in Dungeon Saga 🙂

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Just out of curiosity, what sort of thing do you think of when you say “quest”?

      • ezeqiel says:

        You’ve talked about each player potentially having side-quests whilst adventuring on the main quest/dungeon (the semi-coop option).

        How do you aim to introduce these?

        How about these side quests are obtained on a visit to the tavern during downtime?
        So if a hero decides to visit the tavern they get 2 actions… a standard tavern table roll or card drawn tavern-related buff and then optionally, you speak to the Strider-esque character in a darkened corner of the room the and listen to their offer… you draw from the side-quest deck and agree to attempt it or discard and get chucked from the tavern and lose your originally obtained buff?

        I’ve been a basic wargamer all my days with no exposure to proper RPG’s so apologies if any of these thoughts are re-treads of age-old RPG ideas that are common-place, but Dungeon Saga has opened a door to the RPG side that I’d never have encountered without it and the ideas are just bouncing around my head!

        • Julian says:

          I was thinking of cards or just maybe drawing a monster card. So just secondary objectives in the main game. Eg kill orc. Or kill 5 orcs, kill abyssal. Etc to keep balance. Find a minor magic item… (eg healing potion. Which has to be donated to the church to receive the minor magic item maybe.)

        • Quirkworthy says:

          @ezeqiel – tying them to Downtime locations is a fun idea, though why stop at the tavern? Temples and training grounds could give out quests too and would offer another element to the decision about where to spend your Downtime.

          @Julian – that sort of thing.

        • ezeqiel says:

          @Jake – I’ve a fuller response to this that I’ll post above in regards the downtime ‘mat’ that I am in favour of, but specifically in regards tying quest cards to specific locations would possibly create an unwieldy clutch of card decks.
          That is unless you split each card in two halves, the upper half being the location specific downtime buff and the lower half being a location specific quest that is optional with a success/failure effect also detailed.
          As I said, I’ve a more detailed response that I’ll add further up that you may (or may not!) find provides some useful thought
          Thanks for the replies.

  25. Wim D. says:

    Can’t wait to create a little ‘village’ of all the places to visit during downtime. Since I’ll probably game with my spouse, we could ‘park’ our mini’s in our chosen spot at night after a session, and pick them up they day after for the next quest. Time to break out the foamboard, Hirst Arts molds and start building :-D.

  26. Mykael says:

    I actually love the idea of downtime, especially using table rolls!! It adds depth and backstory. My group primarily plays fully co-op so having a DM simulator like that is an incredible idea!!

  27. We always enjoyed the shopping and leveling up elements of Warhammer Quest but the traveling and town events were too random, especially since they got repetitious fast.

    I would love to see something where your choice of past time dictates the choices available for the next adventure. Let’s say you normally get served an adventure with a random objective, enemy type and reward.

    Heroes who visit a place of worship might might get offered a specific quest to banish some demons for a specific reward. Heroes who spend their time in a tavern have a chance of overhearing some grave robbers who know there’s a famous heirloom weapon in a tomb they’re too afraid to explore. Heroes who hang around the market place or potion shops might find peasants offering a reward in consumables in exchange for exterminating a tribe of greenskins.

    Instead of a d66 table of random events that gets memorized quickly. You simply offer the heroes a chance of seeking out opportunities that suit their current needs or wants. After their town day the heroes can compare opportunities to see if there’s one that sounds better than exploring at random.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Repetition is a real issue with this sort of thing. If the heroes roll twice per adventure (there and back) then you either need huge numbers of options or get repeats pretty quickly.

      Locations chosen during Downtime may find a tie-in to side missions, though they are less likely to tie into the main quest as that will need to be written in advance of knowing where they will go. That sounds like a straightforward and robust possibility.

  28. Adam says:

    I think this concept is great. In my gaming group as a running joke I often refer to DnD as “dungeons and horses”. Some player like to role play everything, buying a bed for the night, journeying to the village and petting the farmers sheep. It drives me insane. I’m playing the game to fight, solve puzzles, solve riddles, explore and find gear not spend three hours buying a horse!! Love this whole concept. I also thinking only having a limited choice and to the theme of time pressure, forcing the Heros to act quickly. Not very thematic to worry about which wenches serve the best ale when then there’s an army of green skins attacking the next village!

  29. Julian says:

    Downtime could be a choice.
    Maybe roll a d6 but have 8 events. 2 good. 2 bad. 2 neutral. Each time you revisit the same choice between adventures you get a +1 to the dice roll. So you’re more likely to get the higher score. Ie. You become more aware of the pitfalls of going there. Eg tavern choice. Temple choice. Armourer choice. Thieving choice other character choices. Location specific choices for each quest. They all offer minor temporary buffs. You could add a Mantica location table alternative to the generic choices. Eg Basilea – Basilean temple option might be.. you donate at least 10gp. 1+ if you donate 100gp. 1+ if you have been piously visiting the last time. 1+ if cleric
    1) cursed (necromancer and make you reroll the dice 2x in the next adventure) 2) minor curse. Necromancer gets to make you reroll 1x. 3) prayers fall on deaf ears. 4) prayers fall on deaf ears. 5) 1 reroll 6) 2 rerolls. 7) pick an extra objective card. If you succeed in quest get bonus treasure draw. 8) major quest 1 reroll. 2 extra side objectives. If complete get major treasure.
    Or visit to tavern -spend 10gp. 1+ per visit (up to 2+. 1+if dwarf. -1 if elf, halfling. 1) drunk.waylaid. -1 hp. Lose d6x10 gp. 2) drunk lose d6x5gp. 3) good times lose 5gp. 4) good times. 5) made winnings gain d6x10 6) made friends with barkeep. 2+ to next tavern visit. 7) barkeep offers rumour (-100gp if you accept) 1+ minor treasure if quest card completed. 8) Major rumour. 2 card quest. Major treasure Or if thief can try rob local temple/castle/merchant on next visit to town for +2 to roll)
    If you cant pay penalties.. go to jail…
    Ophidia visit. 1+ if necromancer/mage etc
    1) scorpion bite. Lose d6 hp. 2) sunstroke -lose 1 will etc. 3) visited the pyramids.4) nice markets. 5) found map 1 quest 6) found major quest. 7) find magic scroll. 8) etc
    If evil player. Choices might be based on.. A) build the dungeon. B) r+d C) train your minions D) quest specific eg undead. greenskin. demon
    Eg. Demon sacrifice hunting 1) fruitless search. You found a goblin. 2) mediocre success- you captured a poor farmers goat 1+ etc.. 3) slight success you captured the farmer..etc. 4) mod success you got the farmer’s daughter. 5) major success -noble’s daughter. 6) awesome -captured 1 of the players relative.. (randomly nominate a character -1 to their rolls etc when u put their relative into play. 7) awesome x2 nominate 2 players. 8) ungodly success. Youve captured a whole village.. etc consequences.
    Another might be a “target the players” table.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      As I said in earlier comments, I prefer cards to tables as they are more versatile and easily tailored.

      I’m not sure exactly what results we’ll end up with in detail within each location as I expect this to be much debated and changed during play test. One thing I can say is that I’d personally suggest minimal things that require remembering from one time to the next. That just clutters up a character sheet, and at the end of the day this is a sideshow of the main dungeon game. Must remember that 🙂

  30. Julian says:

    I dont think that shopping should be a choice. One way of differentiating village from towns and cities might be by price hike and availability. Eg village. All items limited to 1or 2 items available. But standard price. Double price for town but double availability. Triple for city prices. And availability.
    Locations different between hamlets, towns and cities. Maybe no prison, armoury or temple in hamlet but more nature choices eg druidic grove. Can change things up by racial labels on character creation. Eg Ophidian. Basilean. Abercarr Dwarf they may get + or minuses to location rolls..

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  32. Matt Price says:

    Some really great ideas above, this was a fun read. I’m excited we’ll have the post-game “downtime” – and hoping it’s a bit more involved than what’s currently in Deadzone.

    I really like the ideas of others above, using a deck of cards for each side, and having a post-game similar to what’s in Shadows of Brimstone. Say, a 10-15 card deck that includes cards for things like a Tavern (general bonuses for everyone), a Temple (healing and blessing and assistance for those types of characters), a Mage school (extra bonuses for your magical types), and such. At the end of the game, maybe 2-3 cards would always be available, and if the heroes won, they could draw an additional 3 (e.g.) to add to their choices; if they lost this number could be 2 or even 1. Each card would have options for heroes as well as an associated random event (or item, or bonus, etc) table – and I’m all for tables with lots and lots of options to avoid repetition – just so long as the player knows what’s generally in store for them.

    I know it’s kind of silly, but I’m particularly excited about this aspect of the game…!

  33. Tazar Yoot says:

    Just wanted to add my two cents to say I’d personally enjoy some random journey events or settlement events. I agree they should be quick and simple and nothing too crazy, but it could make things interesting if the heroes/necromancer get a small advantage or disadvantage on the upcoming dungeon. Things like finding a potion or breaking a glass bottle containing a potion, to the necromancer getting wind of the approaching heroes and fortifying some doors or adding some traps. Small things that could add some light depth could be beneficial in my opinion but it’s minor enough that I wouldn’t be heartbroken either way.

  34. Matt Price says:

    There’s a lot of talk about quests for these “downtime” adventures… Aren’t the quests… the real adventures? Adding “quests” seems like the potential to extend the time needed for this aspect of the game; and if they’re to be simple, couldn’t the same effects be achieved by other simpler, quicker means? A quick visit to the mage tower provides a +X bonus to your Y ability for the next adventure, rather than attempting some larger narrative to slay the dragon or recover the artifact…? Or is this more of just a thematic difference: Some like a 30-second, single roll, “mini adventure”; others seem inclined for a 30-second, single roll, trip to the tavern?

    I think I’d fall in with the latter group, but don’t really have very strong feelings about it.

    • ezeqiel says:

      @Matt – it’s my understanding that any side quests picked up during downtime actually play out during the main adventure in the dungeon.
      They are optional alongside the main goal of the dungeon layout, but offer a semi-coop option where, whilst the main goal is a shared objective, the side quest is for your character only and how (or if) you achieve it can impact on the overall main adventure and your playing partners.

      Do you help your 3 fellow heroes slay the troll, or do you nip into that empty room to pick up the venerated goblet that the cleric in town asked you to retrieve (for whatever reward/buff)?

      That’s my understanding of their inclusion at this point, and if true, does not take away but actually adds to the main game.

      The side quests would be in addition to the quick, but thematic events played out by that “quick visit to the mage” etc during downtime itself.

      • Matt Price says:

        Aha, this does sound much more interesting than what I’d speculated on above. I’d not heard about this during the campaign… This game is sounding cooler and cooler…. Glad I have Shadows of Brimstone to tide me over (and get me warmed up for a *real* dungeon crawler) or else I might just fail my sanity check for waiting a year!

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