The Adventurer’s Companion

One of the most challenging areas of Dungeon Saga has been deciding where best to make the split between the core game and the Adventurer’s Companion. From the start we knew that there was going to be this division, and we agreed at the outset that the main divide would be in terms of the out-of-game options. The core game was designed to be something you could take down from the shelf, set up and play quickly without needing to make lots of choices beforehand. You just pick an adventure to play and follow the map. It’s ideal for people who don’t play often or just want something light.

But dungeon gaming could be a great deal more than this, and although it’s not what everyone wants, it’s definitely something that many do. So, while the core game is prescriptive to ensure speed and simplicity, the Adventurer’s Companion is a sandbox to play in that needs you to invest more time and creativity between games. Again, this will suit some folk perfectly, but has been sectioned off as it will just be confusing dead weight to others.

At least, that will be the retail split. I think most of the KS backers and my readership here are in the camp that wants both bells and whistles 😉

Anyway, having agreed on that split, we had to decide which elements went in each part, and that’s been very tricky. To be honest, there isn’t a right answer. So, the Adventurer’s Companion is designed in sections that are, where possible, independent of each other so that you can add as much or as little as suits you. Obviously some parts are more independent than others. For example, the experience system doesn’t make much sense without the campaign rules.

So what’s in the book?

Well, so far we have the following areas (in alphabetical order):

  • Abilities: Lots more abilities to learn. These allow both Heroes and minions to explore a wide array of different career paths. There are some general rules to explain how to read the abilities and an explanation of those abilities which come in a series of ranked steps. Abilities are split into 5 main areas: combat, general, illegal, magical and musical. Some categories only have a couple of abilities in, but even a single ability can make a big difference to a Hero.
  • AI rules/Solo games: rules for replacing the other side. This is the area I’m currently least happy with so I’ll explore this in another post when I’ve done some more testing and am happier with the result. Currently it works, but needs a bit more input from the remaining player(s) than I’d like.
  • Bestiary: loads more creatures to populate your dungeons with. These include (where appropriate) the stuff needed to make Bosses of the appropriate race – see DIY Heroes  for what this is. The bestiary is broken into families of different creatures, each of which contains several different stat lines of game values and abilities. For example, the Basilean’s include Men-At Arms, Paladins and Sisterhood. The families are: Abyssal Dwarf, Basilean, Dwarf, Elf, Goblins, Ogres, Orcs, and Undead. So far that’s a total of three dozen or so lines, a few of which you’ve seen before (in the Undead list), but most of which are new. We’ve decided to add a few more too.
  • Campaigns: how to run them. The core idea is that you play a series of adventures with a Downtime turn between one and the next. Downtime turns consist of several steps such as recovering from wounds and getting gold. Did I mention there was a currency? Anyway, the main thing is choosing the location you will spend your Downtime in. You can always choose the Tavern, and deal another location card per Hero to pick from. Each location offers some benefit. Most require a dice roll; some abilities give you extra rolls; some locations might sell you extra rolls for some of the gold I mentioned. Each Hero can only go to one location each Downtime, though the Heroes can split up and go to different ones if they choose. Once you’ve resolved everyone’s locations then you spend any experience you earned on your adventure. You do this at the end because some locations can offer extra options for spending experience. What I’ve tried to do with campaigns is use features like locations to give a taste of the whole RPG thing without all the complexity.
  • DIY Dungeon: this is a somewhat discursive section that goes through the steps to make your own adventures. As this is such an immensely varied process, all I can really do here is provide some guidelines for prospective Overlords (as it is they who build them). The intent here is mainly to provide some structure for you and to point out the main pitfalls to avoid. It’s actually quite a straightforward process – the complexity comes in balancing them, which is really just a case of replaying them till you’re happy.
  • DIY Heroes: how to design your own hero. This simple process is a case of choosing which race, gender, profession, bonus and name you want your new character to have. Each step offers a selection to choose from. The 8 races and 9(11) professions form the bulk of this and define the majority of your Hero. Their starting stat line is made up of a baseline from the race, modified by the chosen profession. The bonus is a bit of a wild card to allow you a degree of personalisation, though the real place that new Heroes become individualised is in the experience process. Some professions require additional choices of spells or songs.
    • Races: Human, Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Naiad, Dryad, Salamander, Air Elemental.
    • Professions: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Demon Hunter, Druid, Fighter (has 3 sub types), Paladin, Thief, Wizard.
  • Environment: a few more rules to expand on the possibilities and make the dungeon more challenging. Things like magic furniture, hidden compartments, expanded rules for locks (so they can be picked as well as smashed), plus various types of trap (on the floor or the lock).
  • Experience: collect glory by winning adventures (primarily – though there are a few other ways). When you have enough then you go up to the next level. Each time you go up to a new level then you get to pick a bonus of some sort. This could either be money or abilities. Usually, you’d pick abilities. The choice of abilities you have depends on your race, profession and level. Each race has a table with a single experience choice per level. This allows them to be characterised a bit. Then, each profession has two choices per level, again allowing them to be characterised. By having it broken down in this way, an Elf Thief and a Halfling Thief share two out of three choices, but each has a third which is different to retain a bit of variation. A few locations add a fourth choice to this process. It’s making these choices that really individualises your Hero. You may get a second chance to get a given ability at a later level, or you may not. And these variations are cumulative, so after a few levels and a few different choices the Heroes that both started out as basic Thieves (or whatever) could he evolved quite differently. This process is full of hard choices because there are way more cool abilities than you can get. This ensures that no single Hero can do everything on their own, meaning that there is always a reason to be adventuring as a group and playing cooperatively.
  • Feats: a list of extra feats, in much the same way as the list of abilities.
  • Magic: there are a few bits of general commentary for magic items and spells, but most of this is the decks of new item and spell cards. Spells are broken into families, and a spell caster will know one or more of these. You can only cast spells from families you know. The core family is petty magic, and all spell casters know that. This gives you a sort of bread and butter set of spells. The particularly thematic spells tend to fall under one or other of the families. There are currently over 60 spells and about half that in magic items.
  • Random Dungeons: rules (and cards) for building random dungeons for when you’ve played all the pre-written adventures and haven’t designed your own yet. The tiles are divided into groups, each group having a small set of different layouts on cards. You randomise which sets you use and which card from each set you use. This forms your dungeon layout and is only revealed as you explore it. By breaking up the tiles/cards like this you won’t get layouts that you cannot make with the tiles you have. While you’re bumbling around in the dungeon you turn event cards to see what you find. These are generic in description as there are loads of possible types of beastie and Overlord. Speaking of which, just because it’s random doesn’t mean you don’t, or can’t (or should or shouldn’t), have an Overlord. You can if you want to, or you can tie it in with the AI rules. Anyway, the event cards define encounters in numbers of levels of creatures, and the bestiary lists the level of each type. So, you can have an encounter with 15 levels of things. As you decided at the start what type of Overlord you were up against and what models they had to hand, this is actually very quick (and obvious) to resolve on the fly.
  • Songs: a few general rules for using songs (they work much like spells), plus the cards to go with them.

You noticed that I said “so far”, right? Well, I think the above covers all that was promised during the KS, but we haven’t stopped yet. Since I wrote the first draft I’ve had a couple of extra ideas I’d like to add (which aren’t in the above list), plus the guys at Mantic have got a load more cool suggestions. So this list may get bigger 🙂

Anyway, I hope this gives you a bit more of an idea what’s coming. I’ll delve into the sections in their own articles. As you can see, there’s a lot to cover, and at over 1,700 words I’ve only really scratch the surface…

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75 Responses to The Adventurer’s Companion

  1. Thanks for the update, quite a lot to process there… Glad to see the ogres made it to the bestiary. I am starting to wish their was an option for extra overload decks in the pledge manager, maybe if we get a round two with the custom figures… (I can dream). Still looking forward to the beta rules I have a great big 3d dungeon and a mountain of tokens ready to give them a spin.
    Charactor development looks simple but interesting, I am going to be a dissenting voice to a lot of the concerns about lack of complexity in that while I hope it has lots of options and can create great challenges when playing with “gaming friends” or when playing solo, my biggest hope is that the core game is family/friend friendly in that it is simple enough for my wife to be keen to play (at the moment zombicide and carcassone fit this but not much else) at the moment it sounds likely.

    • LeighShepherd says:

      Looks interesting. I also think that you can do abilities without stats to keep track of if you think smart about it. There was a very basic print and play dungeon game on BGG called Goblin Slayer which had a Dwarf hero with no stats as such. I tinkered with it and added a Rogue, Elf, Wizard, Paladin adn Barbarian – the only stat they have that differes is life points (3 each for Barbarian, Dwarf and Paladin, 2 for everyone else). All the other abilities and tests are managed through a deck of shared cards that give bonuses or instant successes to various environmental checks – Rogue and Elf get more cards that help them do agile type things, Barbarian and Dwarf get combaty and Strngth boosting feats and bonuses – so you dont get a stat as such, but they all play very differently and thematically, with fun actions such as jumping over enemies or incredible feats that are quite visual rather than a dry extra % chance of success. The Goblin player has a set of cards that allow for similar themey events dependent on the type of monsters in play. I’d like a simialr approach to environmental/skill tests in DS, so a lack of stats but talk of skills/feats sounds potentially along those lines?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      @bookkeeperjason – the divide between the core game and the Adventurer’s Companion is for exactly this reason. The core game is something that casual gamers can enjoy as a complete thing, while it also serves as the foundation for gamers wanting more depth with the Adventurer’s Companion.

      @LeighShepherd – DS uses a combination of stats and abilities to characterise the Heroes. This is one of the difficult things to impress on people when they first see it. The stats and the adventures themselves look quite similar on paper, but the way they play is surprisingly varied. This initial disbelief is a problem you always get when you build subtle things into a small set of rules rather than a long set that overtly includes a new rule for every aspect 😉

  2. Matt Price says:

    Excellent! Thanks for the overview. Will the bestiary have creatures outside the scope of the eight factions you note above? Manticores? Murderous leprechauns? Gelatinous cubes? Flumphs?

    Keep those advanced rules nice and sophisticated. Complexity is A-OK. We have fun with the recent release Shadows of Brimstone, and while I don’t expect Dungeon Sagas to be share much in common with that title, what I do hope for is variety and options. SoB does this well.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      There are a few extras to add, including some creepy-crawlies IIRC. I don’t expect to go down the whole D&D route of having several volumes of one-off beasties though. Just a few for flavour. Not sure about the bigger things like manticores. I think they would probably be better done as the focal point for a new adventure (rather than a throwaway random encounter type of thing).

      As you can see from the list above, there are quite a few different areas of additional rules. Adding all of them at once starts to give you quite a bit to think about, and if you’re playing a campaign in dungeon your mate wrote with a set of heroes you designed and who have all gained experience and items through their previous adventures, then I think you’re getting quite an involved and involving game 🙂

  3. ezeqiel says:

    Thanks for this update Jake, that’s got me thoroughly intrigued with the possibilities to play with. I appreciate the balance between simplicity of setup & play and the complexity of a deep RPG, I think the offer of branching options across class and race will do rather nicely.
    For myself, when analysing it closely, I always look for complexity in games to try and ensure that I will take a long time (never!) to master it, so I won’t ever feel I am done or bored with a game. It is almost a fear of simplicity rather than a need for complexity if I am honest. Options & variation offer a different avenue to never mastering a game (i.e not repeating the same gameplay or adventure so that it becomes boring ), one which I am willing to embrace with Dungeon Saga.

    I will second Matt Price’s request for the bestiary to feature creatures beyond the races already defined: Minotaurs, Beastmen, Jabberwocks, Kikimores, Giant insects, Ettins, etc etc – random beastie encounters to test any adventuring foursome.

    I’d also love to hear more regarding the downtime feature that you’ve settled on (I originally hit you (repeatedly) with the cost prohibitive idea of downtime player boards). How do you intend to vary what locations are available to visit during downtimes or will it always be the same couple; Tavern, Alchemist’s, Trader’s, Shrine etc?
    And as Downtime is campaign linked, do you have any plans to link locales from the Mantica world (give us a map) to the availability of locations in Downtime to encourage us to become immersed in the theme & lore of the game world? e.g. Locale cards with an image, some brief flavour text, name of the village/town/castle you are in and then a list of what locations are available to visit there? These Locale cards could be drawn at random upon exiting the Dungeon, kept in theme as “these labyrinthine tunnels can lead you out anywhere”!

    … see, now you’ve gone and got my creative ideas flowing again after a few months off! Looking forward to the rest of the updates as you delve deeper into each section of the “Adventurers Companion”

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Given the number of possible starting points for a hero, and the number of possible branches he could take with experience, I don’t think you’ll ever get to the end of the permutations possible. Also, I didn’t mention that spell selection is partially random, which stops people from having a fixed “best” approach, thereby encouraging folk to explore the many, many possibilities instead.

      Each Downtime you deal a new selection of locations to choose from, so they change each time. I’d like to link locations to specific places in the story, though that would make them less useful overall. Certainly, if you were designing your own adventure I’d encourage you to do that sort of thing as it helps build your own group’s version of Mantica.

  4. Hiro says:

    Can you please rename “Air Elemental” to “Sylph” (or something similar)? If you’re gonna have Naiad, Dryad and Salamander as options then “Air Elemental” really stands out like a sore thumb for not having a mythological name. =S

    • If you look at forces of nature,
      earth: gnome, -> earth elemental -> greater earth elemental

      Air: -> sylvan kin (which includes fauns, dryads, sprites and will’o’wisps) -> air elemental -> greater air elemental

      Water: -> Niaids -> water elemental -> greater water elemental

      Fire: -> Salamanders -> fire elemental -> greater fire elemental
      nature: (I actually think fauns and dryads should be here) ->forest shamblers -> tree herder

      • @ Hiro I see your point now, missed that one when reading hero classes, so yes Slyph or sprite would be more appropriate to hero class

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Yup. The Air Elemental wasn’t originally included, but we realised that we had 3 out of 4 of the elementals, so it made sense tho add her too. Air Elemental is my WIP name as I didn’t have any reference for her proper name in the world of Mantica. It should get changed to something better.

        • Hiro says:

          Ah excellent! Here I was thinking this was more or less already decided and hard to change. Thanks Jake 😀 I’m super excited to play this game!

      • David says:

        if using names like salamder or gnomes for elementals, why not using the correct name for every elementals? .-)
        Air: Sylphs
        Earh: Gnomes
        Fire: Salamanders
        Water: Undines

  5. Hiro says:

    Out of curiosity, why is “Abyssal Dwarf” a bestiary family and not just “Abyssal”, especially given that there is an Abyssal expansion pack?

  6. Danny says:

    Excellent update!!! Thanks for putting in the effort and taking the time to share this, Jake 🙂

  7. Quazai says:

    Thanks Jake. Sounds great! I was wondering, are the cards for all 60 spells/30 magic items in the base game, or does the count include the expansions as well?

  8. Glenn says:

    Very exciting read. Thanks Jake! 🙂 The DIY heroes sound great. I’m glad the book seems to concentrate more on the heroic side of adventurers rather than villainous hero groups. While it could be fun to have an Abyssal Dwarf Decimator, Goblin Beastmaster, Twilight Kin Sorceress and a Human Abyssal worshiping cultist trying to stop a bunch of good guys getting some powerful magic artifact, I would imagine there’d be a lot of playtesting to keep those balanced against the hero parties. Maybe that could be something for Adventurers Companion Vol.2 (if there’s plans for one down the line), but as a whole, from my experience, 9 out of 10 parties will be heroic.

    I’m glad to see how fleshed out the bestiary is. Adding good guy races really adds to the creative side of things and enables really rich story telling with dungeons such as having your heroes go up against a corrupt elf lord or an extremely fanatical Basilean.

    • Nakano says:

      But still would be nice to be possible to create an anti-hero to join the hero team 🙂 He could summon other creatures to help the team. Simplest example could be Descent’s Necromancer Raise Dead spell. It allows placing a token to an empty space adjacent to you and can be used in fighting.

      As I haven’t yet seen the beta or remember alpha rules, what possibilities existed to interact with objects. May they provide some defense (at least high bookshelves probably block line of sight, but how about half-height objects like tables) or generally the idea is that you cannot move to the spot?

      • Quirkworthy says:

        A Hero that works for the Overlord is called a Boss, but apart for the name change the steps in the process for creating them are identical. So, if you have a particular reason for wanting an Orc Hero in your adventuring group, then you could make one. Also, you could have an evil group of Heroes adventuring in a dungeon populated by good guys. The system is very flexible.

        Objects block movement and some block sight, depending on how tall they are. Also, in the Adventurer’s Companion an item can have a hidden compartment which works like a chest. This is locked and could be trapped too.

        • eriochrome says:

          That sounds like what i was asking to do way back during the pledge period. So we get generic human, dwarf, and elf stats to populate the good guy dungeon monsters. Excellent.

        • Glenn says:

          Ah cool. I misunderstood that side of things. So does this mean there are DIY Boss options for Races and Professions for the villains too? For example, you could choose an Orc as the race and Necromancer, or is it more pre-set e.g. Orcs come in various types (single handed weapon, double handed, archer etc) and then you tweak them to suit?

          I would imagine some degree of sense would have to go into using this system to create evil group though. I can’t imagine a Gargoyle going off adventuring, but certainly could see a big one making a good boss for the heroes to fight. Likewise, I can’t imagine an Orc just popping to the merchants between dungeons.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          There are racial Hero stats and experience upgrades, but not for all races. As you say, some would be silly. So, while you can have a Hero Orc, you don’t get Hero mawbeasts.

          In terms of locations, I think that most of the ones we include would have analogs in their own culture. There are probably merchants that will deal with Orcs just like there are those dealing with Dwarfs. After all, if Orcs have gold then some merchants will want it. The same with temples, drinking houses and so on – they may not look identical (and are likely to be different physical places), but their function is broadly the same. And the function is what matters in game terms.

  9. MrPanda says:

    When I was a teenager with my younger brother and some friends, we discovered Warhammer Quest. I share with them the souvenir of a never ending adventure, full of orcs and monsters slayed. I hope the companion of DS will bring us some memorables experiences.

  10. Quazai says:

    I was wondering how high the advancement tables go (i.e what’s the max character level the system is designed for)?

    And for the random dungeons, are all event cards monster challenges or are there other sorts of thematic challenges mixed in? And any positive or neutral events?


    • Quirkworthy says:

      Up to level 10.

      There will be a few other events, though most are likely to be creatures of some sort as that gives the Overlord player something to play with.

      • Quazai says:

        Thanks Jake. I think that having a decent selection of non-combat type events is pretty important, particularly for people playing co-operatively without an Overlord. Most RPGs aren’t entirely combat after all, and having the occasional non-combat story type event would really help capture that RPG-feel (and keep things varied).

        If you’re worried about injecting too much randomness into the game, maybe simple choose-your-own adventure type encounters (i.e. where the heroes have to choose between 2 difficult options, each providing a unique penalty and/or reward, both of which are known up front) could be an option. Rather than simply hitting the heroes with a random effect because they failed a dice roll, they would instead be tactical considerations. Some events could even be designed for the Overlord (if one was playing), so that all such decisions weren’t solely directed to the heroes.

        Having a few good and neutral events thrown into the mix would be nice too. One of the major complaints about the events in the D&D Adventure games was that they were all simply punishing….which in the long run made them more tedious than fun.

    • Tazar Yoot says:

      Does the Bestiary section have some guidelines to help with populating homebrewed dungeons and give some sort of level suggestion for the heroes. So a group of lv 3 heroes aren’t thrown against something too easy or two hard for example?

  11. Smud says:

    Thank’s for this big update. Overall it sounds pretty good, but as always there are a lot of questions ;). Most of them will probably be answered in the following articles and are to long to be handled in the comment section.

    A few numbers would be great. Whats the estimate number of cards for the random dungeon and will the addons include more of them?
    Just to get an idea of the variety of the abilities and feats, how many of each will approximately be included?
    Will there be rules for playing with less than 4 heros?
    Have you tried to play with heros of different levels in one game?
    Is there a balancing mechanism for random dungeons (with AI) with heros of higher levels?

    At last I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed with the DIY Dungeon. I would love to see a bit more then just some tipps. Maybe a chart for monster typ and count for different hero levels. Maybe some kind of ranking for the monsters. How many per room, how big the rooms should be, how many treasure chest and such…
    Just a few terms of reference to help balancing the game. Because as you noticed balancing these dungeons will be the hard work and most of the gaming groups don’t like to do it by them self. No one wants to play a dungeon over and over to get it balanced before they start a real go…
    Sure you can’t do it for all combinations and nobody asks for that, but at least some croncrete reference would be appreciated. They don’t have to be totaly balanced, just something you can orientate oneself at.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      You seem fixated by numbers, Smud 🙂

      Random dungeon cards: the whole deck is over 60 cards at present.
      Abilities: 50.
      Feats: 36.
      Less than 4 Heroes. No. Doesn’t work well at all.
      Different levels: Yes, it works OK as long as the difference isn’t too large.
      AI vs higher levels: yes.

      The DIY dungeon section provides guidelines because that’s all I can practically do. As I said earlier (somewhere), two dungeons that have the same number of minions, the same Heroes, the same objectives can play very differently based on the detail of the tile layouts. As I can’t know what that layout might be, I can’t account for it in my suggestions. This makes it a practical impossibility for me to be very specific about how to balance things. There are rough guidelines, but I can’t see how it is possible to tell you exact ratios and values and expect them to work across all the possible permutations of tile layouts.

      • Smud says:

        Well… Maybe a little ;). It’s just a good option to see the variety and a lot is a bit vague. But here I like the numbers I read.
        Except that you need 4 heros to play, but well I kind of expected it.

        On the DIY Dungeons, I can understand your concerns. Sure you can get a totaly different game with just a different layout, but still there are things that theses games have in common. If there is a enemy that’s simply nearly impossible to beat, it’s not enjoyable. What I was looking for is some kind of advise which monsters used best at which hero level. Something like trolls are useable against heros of level 3 and up and so on. I hope it’s clear what I mean.
        Sure it still depends strongly on the tile layout and such, but at least the overlord has an orientation on which monsters he could use. This would give the overlord just a little reference, which always helps. And what I saw from the beta rules, you already did something like that in your scenarios.
        The mechanism of different actions per turn for the overlord is even harder to balance than the monsters, but to be honest, if you want DIY Dungeon as a feature it’s disappointing to just get a some tipps… Of course I didn’t read the tipps and maybe they are awesome ;), but at the moment I don’t see the great value of this chapter. Sorry…

        Oh and there was one question that you didn’t answer… Will there be cards for the random dungeons in the expansions? For the new tiles the provide.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Well Smud, if you know a better way of specifically defining an amorphous and ever-shifting blob then I’m all ears 🙂

          The DIY adventure section contains all the advice and guidelines I can think of to help you design your own dungeons, but it doesn’t do it for you. You need to bring some creativity of your own (and isn’t this the point, after all?). Guidelines on appropriate sorts of numbers are included, though they tend to be ranges rather than specifics. Again, you can’t say that a Troll is a fair fight against a level 3 hero, for example, because the things a level 3 can choose to learn are so varied. If the Hero generation and experience systems had been more limited and restrictive then this section would be easier, but then people would complain about that instead. Can’t have everything…

          Of course, the random dungeon does define things more closely because it has to – it’s just less balanced than you can make by hand. Again, a natural by-product of what it needs to do.

          And yes, new cards for the new tiles in the expansions.

        • Smud says:

          Well that’s kind of a tough algorithm you need there ;). Such things can only be done by a whole lot of playtesting. To get a feeling of what the “average” hero group can and what they can’t.

          Maybe I was over reacting… Advises and guidelines sounds a bit like, “hey, don’t put to many monsters in one room!” or “don’t use all in one round”. That kind of stuff, that you can read in nearly every pen and paper rpg. Those advises aren’t wrong at all, but they aren’t so usefull at all, because with a little of common sense you wouldn’t do that anyway.

          Personaly I would love to see some kind of ranking for the monsters (I know, that again… but let me finish 😉 ) and then a ranking for the rooms. So that you could choose a room and can look up how many monsters (pile of bones) would be a good idea to put into a room.
          Of course it’s not depending on the scale of the room alone, but it would make it easier to look it up, because corridors are realy hard to consider in this kind of mechanism. Maybe you just recommend corridors as a connection to the next room or as a usefull extention to a room.
          For example, you have a room consisting of a main room which is 4×4 and in the rules this room has a rating of 1. That means a overlord could put in this room monsters equal to the rating of one. For example he could put up to 2 skeletons into the room or 1 skeleton and two pile of bones or 2 goblins… And maybe when the heros level up the rating of such room would raise as well, so maybe for level 1-4 the room has a rating of 1 and for 5-8 on of 2… Beyond that you could also include a recommendation on the amount of treasure in such room (maybe 1 chest for two of these rooms or some kind of that).
          Now we are missing the actions per turn in this system. On that I would try a simple solution. Something like “1 + average hero level / 2” or such. I don’t have a lot of experiance on Dungeon Saga as you can imagine ;).

          Sure this won’t be a totaly balanced system and you sure should encourage the players to use their own imagination, but in my opinion and experiance most people prefer such systems. It’s easy to use. You don’t have to spend a whole lot of work into the balancing, instead you could use your creativity to make awesome dungeons with great themes and backrounds. You will still do the architecture of the dungeons and you choose which monsters you want to use, the positioning. You could still tell a great story with this system and that a lot easier then before…
          Part of the success of Descent based on their easy to use monster allocation. Don’t get me wrong I’m not searching for a Descent clone.

          I was kind of looking foward to a system of dungeon creation, where I can spend most of my time to do an awesome dungeon design and theme and don’t worry to much about the balancing.
          These rules would just be a reference. I’m sure the gamers, who want would still build their dungeons ignoring these references. So you won’t bother anyone with the little lack of balance this system has.

          I hope you get an idea of what I was thinking ;). And as always I appreciate your effords on this blog and especially the dialogs in the comments.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I think we’re pretty much there already, to be honest. Part of a creature’s stat line in the bestiary is a level which is a nominal measure of their danger. It’s used for just this sort of rough balancing of encounters 🙂

          And you’re right that the more specific I can be the easier it will be for folks, so I’ll have another look and see if there’s anywhere I can add some more detail.

        • Smud says:

          That’s great to hear. Thanks 🙂

  12. Tazar Yoot says:

    I’m curious since the adventures guide goes into some detail about creating generic custom heroes. I’d like like to know how the other named heroes will work. Characters like Ally, Ibrahim, & Hratth for instance are they going to be treated like a generic custom characters? For instance halfling rogue, human paladin, & salamander fighter or will they have their own unique rules and guides and leveling system for them?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The specific Heroes from the pre-written adventures are defined like those in the core adventures. They also have some pre-selected gains as the campaign progresses. You could, if you chose, take their starting values and use the Adventurer’s Companion experience system instead.

      • Tazar Yoot says:

        Interesting I was under the impression only the dwarf, elf, wizard, and barbarian were the base classes written into the adventures and the other additional heroes were just add on that could be used in there place. Does this mean those additional heroes actually have themselves written into the campaign and specific adventures that call for them to be played? Will players not play through the whole base game using the same hero?

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Sorry Tazar, I think I misunderstood your original question.

        The pre-written adventures in the core set and in each expansion are designed to be run with a defined set of 4 heroes. IN each campaign you have a set of heroes that stays the same throughout. As an alternative, players who are using the Adventurer’s Companion rules may want to substitute a hero of their own for one or all of the heroes listed, and play through them again. There are guidelines for doing this.

        generally, I’d expect a player to use the same hero throughout a campaign (though the Return of Valandor has a specific exception to this).

  13. Tyr says:

    Hm, kind of wondering… how does Gunn, the Dwarf Engineer model, fit into those classes? Doesnt really look like theres anything thatd work as an engineer? Or do Dwarves have Engineers instead of Mages or something? Just curious. 🙂

    (also, what are those three fighter subclasses and how do they differ?)

    • Tazar Yoot says:

      Curious about Hordin and Gnasher as well because he seems unique in the fact that he has a pet dog as well.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I’ve not written these last few KS heroes yet so I can’t say. Dwarf throwing mastiffs were on my list of things to add to the bestiary though 😉

      • Tyr says:

        Might be interesting to have engineer as an alternative to wizard then, dwarf-only. Since noone else seems to have the necessary technology to really work as an engineer. As to how hed work… One option could be something like a sniper, another ranged character; maybe an option for fighting with a brace of pistols… Or something else? Not sure how youd get the engineer vibe though… Maybe mechanical “summons”?

  14. crimsonsun says:

    Questions, Questions, I have so many questions! Though let me begin by saying thank you for writing this overview, it has gone a long way to my understanding of what’s going to be covered in the rules even though it does not cover specifics and I very much look forward to the articles covering each in more detail!

    I will do my best to keep this post one of pure questions rather than one of a critical nature as until I see the playtest rules its unfair of me to judge what’s included.

    A final point about my questions is that please consider them all from the position of someone using the Advanced rules rather than the basic ones. This is not because I have no interest in the basic rules as that’s not the case at all, its purely that I have no concerns as a backer when it comes to them and my concerns are all to do with the advanced rules and there implementation.

    Question One:
    Your development system systems to have Characters levelling between dungeons with the town/settlement options being hard coded into that, so I’m wondering if there is an option for writing multiple level dungeons where the party would need to prepare equipment and items for delving into such a dungeons depths and if they could still level up while remaining inside the dungeon. I have always enjoyed this concept as it provides new challenges in resource management as well as for knowing what to take and what not to take when gold and glory are limited but obviously if you cannot develop your character during these dungeons it seriously limits the options and fun for the characters!

    Question Two:
    Character Development abilities and feats are going to be Levelled I assume, with various paths leading to the different options? Does levelling improve your statistics at all or is that handled by something else or not included at all, being the sole concern of items etc.

    Question Three:
    Magic Spells/Songs: Can you give me the categories included and the rough number included in each (is it equal or does it vary widely), also does it include prayers and blessings and are these levelled feats/abilities or purely randomly determined. Can you give me an example of the numbers of spells a wizard would have at its disposal and the types at say level 1, 5 and ten (The basic mage in the core game would be perfect here as it gives a example of what can be achieved with the system without you having to define it) along with the abilities and feats at his disposal.

    Question Four:
    Traps and Terrain: Can you give me an example of the mechanics for one of each please because until I know how they are implemented I cannot ask the relevant questions regarding these. Also is there mechanics for swimming, Jumping, or climbing.

    Question Five:
    Secret Doors, Hidden items, Sneaking and searching what if any mechanics are in place for the handling of these game aspects?

    Question Six:
    Lighting and Weather, are there any mechanics in place for lightning effecting the Heroes or conditions for Weather In the Dragon expansion outdoor tile are mentioned, while if the abyss is invading areas of a Dungeon I could imagine all kinds of strange conditions that might produce that could alter how the tiles are navigated or battles take place.

    Question Seven:
    Psychology and its role in the dungeon, now this is far more than is panic, fear and terror taking place within a dungeons confines (though that’s still a big aspect of it). I want to know about stupid monsters, angry monsters, persistent effects caused to Heroes due to injuries or previous nightmares in the deep dark or a dungeon. What about supernatural effects that dominate and break the will or that create illusions and deceptions of the mind. Fighting in total Darkness or magically induced Darkness would be horrific as would dungeon exploration in general as your effectively stumbling in the dark with god knows what! For me these themes are an essential part of what makes Dungeon crawls a worthwhile experience?

    Question Eight:
    Can characters/monsters jump on tables, swing from chandeliers and fight acrobatic combats swinging on jungle vines against possessed gorillas? Can players hurl, kick, punch and smash objects or terrain?

    Question Nine:
    So what’s the score when the Overlord is not a Necromancer? Are there different Overlord decks or is this simply not an options found in the games? While I understand that the base game and its expansions have a very specific focus regarding the Necromancer, player created campaigns may seek a different core plot that the Necromancers Deck would be a terrible fit for in terms of theme and mechanics.

    Question Ten – This ones big apologies!:
    What does the Overlord gain experience for, what can they do in the post game/settlement sequence? Does the Overlord have a currency/budget for hiring, altering or equipping its minions? I’m assuming the Overlord can spend experience to Level the bosses it has or increase the currency available to it during the next dungeon but I’m unsure as to how this is going to function in a on going campaign. In my mind you’ve made it clear that the scenarios and written adventures are designed for the base game and while playable with the development rules that’s not the intention of there design, so how do on going campaigns with full development rules work? What resources does the Overlord have to design itself and its bosses at the start of the campaign? What about the Overlords & the Heroes Goals? Are minor questions going to feature for both or either party? Do the Dungeons need to be built one at a time, or can a series be designed and then the Overlord player can ramp things up or make minor alterations to them with development?

    Question Eleven:
    How much customisation is there regarding the Overlord deck from experience and resource use? This links into the above question but that’s so large it could easily be over looked and its important.

    Question Twelve:
    When designing campaigns is there a system or any mechanics for determining if one side has won/lost or is winning/losing? What about Campaign branching, the completion/failure of Goals the consequences and outcomes? If such exist do the players/overlord have options outside of development for the goals/objectives for the next part of the campaign. Below I will provide an example of what I’m asking in game terms to better explain the question.

    “A darkness has risen as storm clouds rise over manticia and in their wake the evils of the lands have risen with new confidence and once more try to subdue the free peoples of the land!” This is campaign phase one in which the Objectives of the Heroes is to learn the cause or causes of this time of darkness and to protect those who cannot defend themselves in these times while doing so. The Overlord on the other hand will be seeking to conceal its identity and purpose while still progressing its plans so that player will be seeking to attack weak villages in a area, disrupt communications and trade in another, while seeking alliances with other evil forces. This will then create a series of objectives that the Heroes can choose to pursue over a fixed time period (10 adventures say) with any objective requiring 1-5 dungeons to complete depending upon the resources the Overlord has invested.

    ‘So for example the Heroes would first move to protect the weak, which would have them tracking an attack on a settlement back to its source some nearby caves from there if successful in defeating the dungeon they could learn that these creatures where under the command of a bigger threat that’s targeting a wider area which could take a further two more dungeons to overcome, that is extended too 3 due to them being unsuccessful in an attempt.’

    ‘Now with the immediate area safe, the Heroes may seek knowledge of the threat and must venture to a dangerous location to find or have to complete a quest or series of them for a sage who could direct them where to discover knowledge of the threat the world now faces. This could be 4 adventures that is extended to 6 with failures following which they know learn the name of this dire foe and a location where they can find more information on this subject which would complete phase one’ in which the heroes were successful in finding information as to who the overlord is and what its up to as well as protecting weak settlements from destruction both of which would reward them additional glory as well as other rewards. On the other hand the Overlord would have been able to gain support in the form of alliances with other evil forces in the land which would grant access to new monsters as well as a boss or two. The Overlord was also successful in isolating the region cutting its trade and communication this will have knock on effects to the heroes ability to trade or gain new items as well as possible implications in terms of food shortages at a later stage of the campaign if the overlord player chose to target and burn crops or instigate foul plagues or diseases with which to infect the land.’

    These outcomes would open up new options and places in which both sides would need to use resources as well as to direct there attentions creating a highly dynamic and choice driven narrative focused campaign while fully keeping the core concept of winning and losing between the Overlord and Heroes. Anyway I think you should get the meaning of my question from the example given.

    Well this post took me two hours to write so I feel that’s a perfect place to leave my questions especially since most of the other questions I have are in essence likely to be answered in part by the above questions anyway.

    • crimsonsun says:

      Wow what has been learnt by the above is that I cannot count being as I have two question sixes! Oh dear! lol

    • Quirkworthy says:

      You’ve outdone yourself there Crimson. Even for you that’s a very long post 🙂

      I’ve renumbered your questions to refer to them more easily.

      Answers. Some are brief as what you’ve asked really needs a whole article to respond, rather than a comment people won’t read. Hopefully people will read (and be able to find) whole articles 🙂

      1) Actually, you can do this already. The experience process is separate from visiting locations, other than the fact that a couple of them offer additional options. So, if you decide to stay in the dungeon you get most of the downtime turn, just not the option to buy stuff from the shops or visit locations. The experience process still works though. I’ll think about what a dungeon location might do, because if there was one you could use almost exactly the same process including visiting that location.
      2) Levelling very rarely increases stats. The most powerful things the high level Heroes do tend to be combinations of feats, abilities and magic items rather than basic stats. There is, in effect, a sort of natural slide from relying on basic stats to relying on special abilities as the hero levels up. Also, note that the upgrades are not laid out in a tree. Instead, I’ve chosen to leave the player more freedom of choice. He can decide to change his mind about an overall aim for his Hero part way through. However, he can’t unlearn previous experience, so he is always building on what he’s already taken. If you change from wanting to be an expert archer to wanting to be an expert tank then you won’t be nearly as good at either of them as someone who stayed on a single theme throughout their career (as you’d expect).
      3) I’ll cover this in a separate article.
      4) Yes to jumping, no to climbing, sort of to swimming. We don’t have enough water tiles yet to need swimming, though I’d like to add some later and have worked out how to do it. I’d like to cover traps in their own article as they’re related to locks which also need discussing.
      5) Secret doors tend to be scenario specific or built into the narrative. Certain types of traps can be hidden, so can be searched for.
      6) No, I’ve ignored lighting. There aren’t really any outside tiles yet (well there’s 1 partial one). When there are I’ll think about whether weather is worth the effort. I’ve chosen to ignore lighting because I don’t think it’s going to add enough to be worth the fiddle. As soon as you go down this road you’re left with either something abstract (WHQ – and really not about lighting at all) or something detailed (typical in RPGs) which worries about infravision, fighting in the dark, magical sight, etc. All of which are great in a story, and can be fun if used sparingly in an RPG. As a standard rule I think it would be burdensome all the time and interesting only seldom in a board game.
      7) Character traits on monsters are used in the AI system, with cowardly goblins and brave elves behaving differently. In normal play I’ve largely ignored it because players tend to get frustrated if you take too much control out of their hands. There are, however, a couple of specific instances where it does happen, my favourite being the Orc’s green rage. Also, DS is based on a cinematic hero style, so the heroes don’t get scared, etc, unless they’ve been ensorcelled by some evil wizard (which can happen). This makes it a positive action rather than a negative one. I think a lot of what you’re talking about is in the commentary that players naturally build around the game while they’re playing. You don’t need my help with seeing that the Dwarf is cornered or the Elf has had to come to their rescue. The trash talk that ensues tells an amusing story and is really down to the players being in their role rather than me adding more rules. In situations where you are fighting ghosts and banshees, it’s that simple fact which creates an environment, not a rule that tells you it’s there. Finally, in the context of DS rules, most of these effects would be very simple modifiers at most, so not really be terribly evocative. Certainly not nearly as powerful as you could create in your imaginations.
      8) Mostly not. Well, yes in my imagination, but not in the rules. You can smash chests open and doors down, but apart from that I’ve not gone into detail. There is no reason to assume that these things don’t happen, I just don’t feel the need to add another couple of pages to the rules to try and describe them. My main reason for this is that I have never, in several decades of gaming, found a game that does this well. I’ve looked, and I’ve tried several that purported to do it, without ever being impressed. The cinematic view I have in my head is always a million miles away from what can be rendered on the tabletop. Sadly. So, I don’t think it’s worth adding lots of extra rules when all they do is get in the way of your imagination. If you know of a game that does this sort of thing really slickly then please let me know so I can try it. Like I said, I’ve yet to find one that really works. Generally they add loads of extra rules for very little real effect, or they need a GM.
      9) Each type of overlord has their own deck. Well, part of a deck. There is a core set of cards that all Overlords use, and specific types add their own spin on this. Slightly over half the cards in an Overlord’s final deck are specific to type. I can’t remember whether all these extra ones are in the expansions or the Adventurer’s Companion. I think it’s the expansion, to avoid repeating them.
      10) At present the Bosses work like the Heroes in terms of gaining experience and how they spend it. They can take downtime turns in the same way. There are some wrinkles that need to be ironed out and I’m working on this at the moment. But in general, the process is identical for the Bosses and only adds bits to manage the minions and overall dungeon details. In terms of currency, the Overlord uses gold. I am trying to avoid adding another, separate resource, though it may come to that. You could run any of the pre-written campaigns with your own heroes and overlord, though they would need a little tweaking if you ran several together and water to carry stuff over. Rules for this are done in draft and are being refined. If you have your own dungeon designs then this works even better (and, I think) is rather more fun). In terms of goals, if you think about the overall narrative background, it’s almost always a case that the Overlord is up to some wider plan and the heroes are throwing a spanner in the works. This being the case, the goal of the Overlord should logically be one of getting rid of the Heroes rather than anything else. His main work lies elsewhere and the heroes are merely a temporary annoyance.
      11) At present, the Overlord deck is set up based on the type of overlord. You then take a specified number of cards from this at random to form the draw deck for that particular adventure. I’ve included some notes on experienced players drafting their own deck instead of drawing it at random. This makes the Overlord much more powerful, but also gives them more to think about and is a bit more interesting.
      12) For this initial series of adventures, I’ve kept the campaign win/loss very simple. It’s actually not far off what I think you’re describing. The idea is that the Heroes have an overall time limit to complete the campaign, with each adventure they set up and play counting against this. If they fail to complete a given scenario then they must try it again, thus losing more time (didn’t find the sage, failed to assassinate the traitor, etc). If they complete one very quickly then it doesn’t come off the total – so they can always complete the campaign if they hurry. This means that the Heroes have some slack to allow for the odd loss, but cannot keep losing indefinitely (otherwise the Overlord cannot win). I’ve stuck to simple linear campaigns to start with as we’ve already got quite a bit of complexity elsewhere. If there is an appetite for more elaborate branched campaigns then I’d be interested to explore them. However, they are a lot more work and almost every bit of that work gets used less. Is it really worth the extra effort? Hard to say. Sometimes, I think it is, and other times I wonder. Probably the answer is that it’s worth the effort for a small minority who will really enjoy it. For the majority, they either won’t like the added complexity, or (more probably) won’t play it anyway. There is, of course, nothing to stop you building a campaign in this way if you wanted to. The system is designed to be largely modular and support exactly this kind of elaboration. In fact, I’d encourage it – as long as you post it online so I can play it too 🙂

      • Tazar Yoot says:

        For what it’s worth, the answer didn’t go unread! It was very useful. Thank you 🙂

        • Matt Price says:

          Thanks for the questions and the replies, very informative! Just to add my two cents: I’d vote for extra complexity, if workload permits proper write up and playtesting. If folks don’t want it, there’s always the base game, easy scenarios. I know I will want more meat on my Dungeon Saga bones!

      • crimsonsun says:

        Thank you for taking the time to respond, I actually didn’t release you had because I got a message saying that you’d changed the numbers (thank you – a Doh! moment for me there!) but at the time you hadn’t written your reply and obviously once you finished your comment I did not get a further update.

        While I still have some questions burning away in my mind I feel I’d be better holding them back until you get some of the articles up that will cover them properly because I’m still semi shooting in the dark with what I know in terms of how things function. Obviously there’s some aspects there I am a little saddened by the lack of, though most of your answers were as I’d expected but I very much look forward to those posts covering some of the topics in more depth, they cannot come soon enough! :p

        OK, I do have two questions the first because I’m still not fully understanding how it works from your response is about question 10. So if I’m in a campaign but my adventures are not pre-written as I’m creating them one at a time, how does the Overlord player know what bosses it has? By which I mean does experience in the Overlords case purely just provide a greater amount of resources that can be spent when designing/modifying the next dungeon or at the start of the campaign does the Overlord have a set amount of currency/influence with which it can choose Bosses and then the player can opt to utilise them in a dungeon (at the risk of the boss) and can grant them all glory points as part of the overlords post game sequence? Also if bosses gain experience in the same manner as Heroes I don’t imagine it will happen that often as the Heroes have minions to kill and other forms of experience gain while the bosses have to hurt heroes that’s going to be a difficult trick as often as not.

        The second is are there any included mechanics/systems for minor quests either linked to the post post game or dungeon encounters. Many ideas where discussed about this when you posted your previous articles on downtime so I wondered if anything along these lines had made the cut so to speak?

        Once again thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, I know I am often somewhat difficult and critical but I do very much appreciate the time and effort you put into your communications with the gaming community and in answering my comments!

        Thanks for reading

      • crimsonsun says:

        In answer to your reply to question 8 have you tried FFG’s WFRP3e or Star Wars RPG’s*1 for how they handle cinematic effects in game. Now both these games have other flaws the former especially and both use a abstract system for conflict when in comes to how distance and objects are placed in relation to PC/NPC’s but the resolution and dice mechanic employed actively encourages thematic use of the surroundings.

        I am simply posting this as a response to your query because the abstract nature of those RPG’s in the sense of combat mechanics while transferable to a grid based system used in board games would lose some of its elegance in such a transferral.

        Anyway I only posted because you asked for a example of a system that resolves narrative scenery elements within its mechanics very well.

        Thanks for reading

        *1 The systems use a dice pool created using custom dice (though that’s not actually required it just makes the implementation smoother). There are both positive and negative Die types that are used to construct the pool as well as dice that are upgraded from a base type due to other considerations, the dice have custom symbols in place of numbers so in WFRP there are Success’s, Failures, Boons, Banes, Critical Success, Exploding Success, Delay, Fatigue, Chaos Influence (critical failure), not all the die types have all the symbols and in fact many are limited to a specific dice type.

        The Dice are Characteristic D8 (which can be upgraded to Stance dice D10 for reckless with fatigue and conservative with delays though both die have more positive outcomes than the base die) Challenge D8 these are negatives added to all actions depending on its difficulty containing only negative results, Expertise dice (D6) which are the best dice in the game and the only way of getting exploding successes and critical successes, then fortune die (d6) and misfortune die (d6) that are both added for all kinds of situational effects though each is only a minor negative or positive effect to the pool.

        When an actions declared a player generates there pool by a whole range of factors from there skill, characteristics, natural difficulty of the action, additional difficulty if its opposed, then dice are upgraded for stance depending on how reckless or conservative the character is at that time and finally situational modifiers are added in the form of both fortune and misfortune die. The resolution is then determined by subtracting failures for successes and boons from bane’s then if there’s any critical successes or Chaos influences these are placed to one side. If the result has a positive number of successes the action succeeds with increasing effects for additional successes beyond 1, anything else is a failure. Then the same tally is done for Boons against Banes, boons are a positive minor side effect while banes are a negative minor side effect that takes effect alongside the action regardless of its success or failure meaning actions can fail but have a minor positive side effect or another negative outcome. Finally Criticals are tallied these are not subtracted against Chaos influences and will have additional positive (or just add to the successes) or in the case of Chaos Influences be Negative effects that happen regardless of the Actions outcome.

        The beauty of the system is the dice tell a story that can be easily narrated because you can see exactly what caused the action to succeed or fail (Characteristics, Stance/attitude, difficulty, Skill, or situational modification) and there are a whole host of additional positive and negative outcomes that take place in addition to the actual action. This whole process really encourages players to actively make use of the environment as it provides additional dice to the pool as well as additional outcomes.

  15. Danny says:

    Jake, some time ago in one of these Dungeon Saga posts on your blog, we had a brief discussion in regards to having differing Dungeon Levels (so ascending and/or descending to different levels) within the confines of a single Dungeon. Not a mechanic whereby you finish Scenario One (for example) at the top of a set of stairs and then start Scenario Two at the bottom of those stairs, but actually moving up or down within a single Scenario…perhaps climbing down a dark shaft to explore a room below before coming back up to continue on in the main area of the dungeon…or perhaps even to find yourself continuing on from down the bottom of the shaft. I was particularly interested in seeing this within the Random Dungeon Creation element of the game.

    At the time your stance was (I gathered) that you didn’t think it added much to the game and I explained that I thought it would add a deal of atmosphere and a greater feeling of exploration and excitement to the game.

    Have you thought any more on this? Are we likely to see ascending and descending levels in those 60+ Random Dungeon Cards?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I remember our conversation. As it stands, not within the context of a single scenario. As you correctly recall, I don’t see it adding much good, though I can see it causing a number of problems. However, between adventures I’m quite happy with moving up or down. In fact, in one of the adventures the Heroes are searching for the way down to the next level (which is hidden inside a chest, of all places).

      I don’t think it would be very difficult for you to suggest a change in level within your own adventures, or even when running existing ones. That’s the sort of additional narrative that an experiencds DM might be able to add to the whole game. I’m sure that would enhance the game for the other players too, though it’s moving things towards a much more role-playing end of the spectrum. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not what we were mainly aiming at. Easy to add that layer though.

  16. Quazai says:

    Hi Jake.
    Sorry if these have been answered before (I don’t recall seeing them though).
    1. Are there condition effects (e.g stunned, poisoned etc)?
    2. Are there skill checks? For example how does picking a lock work?


    • Quirkworthy says:

      1. Not as such. Instead the effect just happens for a listed time and then goes away. So it’s much the same place without having to roll for it.
      2. It’s a similar answer to 1. If it is not an opposed roll them it generally has a fixed effect in DS. So, picking a lock is a case of reducing the value of the lock by 1 each time you do it.

      • Quazai says:

        Thanks Jake. The game is sounding really good and I’m looking forward to playing it.

        I was wondering what your thoughts might be on an ‘extended’ set of skill rules for the Adventurer’s Companion. Something not too complicated, but which was customizable and could be used by players to develop different sorts of challenges/encounters (give things even more of an RPG feel) if they so chose. An example could be something based on the way skills were done in Runebound (with keywords) and a simple dice mechanic like in Magic Realm. For instance:

        1. Alongside each profession in the Adventurer’s companion, add a few keywords representing skills. A wizard could have ‘Alchemy’ and ‘Read Runes’. A rogue could have ‘Climb’.
        2. These skills would only be used for specific Challenges the players designed. Challenges would name a skill to use, a Difficulty (from 2-6) and a reward/punishment for failure.
        3. Any character could attempt a challenge. If their profession had the skill (keyword) they’d be Proficient, allowing them to roll 2d6 and take the higher result. If the character didn’t have the skill (keyword) they’d roll 2d6 and take the lower result. To pass the Challenge you’d need to roll the Difficulty or higher.

        And that’s pretty much it. The keywords could also feature a number beside them which could serve as a positive modifier to their die roll, and which would increase as they leveled up.

        This would allow players to design challenges for the game around the system like Reading Runes in a magic book, Climbing down into a pit etc. So an Overlord could add some RPG-type challenges to a specific scenario. Alternatively, they could be used in the co-operative play mode to add alternative sorts of events (in addition to spawning monsters). A generic card or two could be added to the event pile to ‘trigger’ such an event, and the exact event could be determined by rolling on a table etc.

        Anyway, just a thought. Maybe you already have mechanics in place to cover this. Sorry if I rambled :).

  17. Psychopomp says:

    Thanks for all this detail, Jake. In the hope it keeps you motivated, you should know that the Adventurer’s Companion post sold me on one more round of pledge manager shopping I’d been dithering on. But I still have some questions!

    I asked something like this back during the Kickstarter campaign, but now that you’ve worked out leveling, custom/random dungeons, and the Adventurer’s Companion Bestiary, I thought I’d check and see how it shaken out: numbers of monsters. Will the number of monsters placed at a time scale up as the heroes level, or is the intention to keep an individual monster still a threat as the heroes level up with them having more options to deal with them? I note that it looks like retail will contain two of each monster “grunt” mini, and us backers will get one extra of each sculpt in our pledges. That tends to give us 2-6 of a given “grunt” type, like skeleton archers or goblins, etc. With that remain enough baddies as the heroes level up, or will we be looking at needing 12 or more monsters to challenge higher level heroes?

    Also, I love the addition of “good guy” forces into the Bestiary, as well as the bad guys, and I am thrilled to learn the Heroes and Bosses use the same system (and are thus interchangable.) Can you list out what options are included for each section of the Bestiary, and what Boss races are available? Even if it ends up in another post, I’d love to see the full range of stuff we’ll be able to play with out of the book!

    Last, as someone more used to a game master role than the opposing player, how easy would it be to push aside the Overlord rules focused on winning and just set up challenging and fun adventures for the Hero players?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      One of the major limiting factors for Heroes is their number of actions. So, regardless of how dangerous a fighter might get, they can only reach so far and kill so many enemies during an adventure. This varies somewhat with feats, etc, but at its heart the limit remains. This means that even rubbish monsters that will almost certainly die to a powerful hero can be a problem for that hero because they have to stop to kill them. This, in turn, means that the Overlord always gets to play the uncaring tyrant (which suits him so well) plus he can stop the Heroes from achieving their aims even if all of his men die.

      So, do you need lots of low-level monsters? Not really. At least, not in the adventures I’ve been writing. You could construct some that had hordes of zombies or whatever as their theme, and that would be fun (and well worth trying). However, as the numbers of models were limited in the retail sets, I’ve worked within those limits to make the game function without the hordes. When it comes to subsequent online support, etc I expect we’ll see more adventures with stuff that isn’t in the sets.

      I think the bestiary details will have to wait for another post, as you say.

      It would be very easy to play as a non-competing GM. How exactly you do that depends on how much you want the Heroes to have a chance of failing, but the time limit is easily changed, and if you’re playing a GM you can add or remove stuff on the fly. Remember that you only lay out the dungeon tiles up to the next door, so what’s behind that door can be altered for dramatic effect and balance when they finally open it, depending on how well or badly they are doing at the time.

      • Psychopomp says:

        Thank you for the response, you gave me the information I was looking for! I have to say that while I had some concerns in the early alpha stages, the more I hear about the Adventurer’s Companion, the more glad I am I stuck with my pledge and the more I anticipate getting my hands on the game!

  18. Quazai says:

    Hey Jake.
    I was wondering if the advanced rules had any options for damage types? E.g. Physical, fire, cold etc. If not, do you think it would be possible to at least add keywords like these to different spell/weapon cards and monster attacks?
    They would add a bit of flavour and could serve as hooks for adding future complexity (either on your end or by fans).

  19. Glenn says:

    Just a quick, slightly obscure, question on the bestiary. I’m putting together some Abyssal Dwarf Hybrids and was thinking about their movement. As they are on cavalry bases, has there been any though on their movement if it needs to be different, or for the sake of DS, will it be recommended that they are put on monster bases? (that is, is they’re included in DS at all).

  20. Helznicht says:

    “Well, I think the above covers all that was promised during the KS”

    Actually I am pretty sure the Adventures Companion was going to have more treasures and gear to beef up our characters also. I could be wrong. Can you heroes find new weapons, armours, rings and shields in this game (either base or advanced) as they adventure and level up?

    • Tyr says:

      Magic Items are mentioned in the Magic chapter, apparently about 30 items in the base game (not sure if this is just advanced rules or overall)

  21. Calidor says:

    Hi Jake I was wondering will there be any rules in making your own monsters in the advanced rules , as I have a vast collection, of D & D models, and decent model’s, and I would love to be able to add them in my own dungeon designs.

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