Descent (2nd Edition): Labyrinth of Ruin
Interlude: Fortune and Glory, Part 2
“Can you feel it? It’s close. Three… three to open…?” the blind old lady muttered.
“I don’t feel anything but hurt right now,” Jain replied, “But I think I hear more of those fire bugs chittering down below.” She swatted at her still-smoking cloak, smothering the last of the flames from their previous encounter.
A savage howl echoed throughout the corridors before them.
“Hell-hounds,” Syndrael pointed out as the howl was joined by several others. “Sounds like a whole pack.”
“Nice boots…” Jain said to the elf. Syndrael raised an eyebrow at the wildlander.
Avric adjusted his armor and began to utter a prayer of healing.
Raythen trotted on ahead of the group.
“Well, let’s not sit here rusting, mates.” The dwarf said. “As they say, out of the skillet, and into the flame…”
Steve the Blonde had mathed this quest out pretty well before we began, and we knew that we would have a slim chance of success, even with perfect luck. Our strategy was laid out— we would send Jain (with the prisoner) and Raythen ahead through the path of least resistance, following up with Tarha with the Sunstone to assist with monster blasting and potentially aiding with the lock. Syndrael and Avric would rush the Hall to soften up the large monster group in case the first two search tokens proved unfruitful.
We started with Avric providing well-needed healing to the group (except Raythen, who we ruled could not benefit, not being a Hero.) Tarha led the attacking with a well-placed blast, taking out a minion hell-hound, a minion lava beetle, and bringing the master hell-hound down to a single hit point.
Jain took Syndrael’s Elven Boots for the additional movement, and Synd used her special ability first off to give her and Jain an additional move action. Syndrael was able to take out the master hell-hound and then Advance to the second line of hounds in the hall. Jain used her own double-move/attack ability, giving her a total of 4 moves for her turn (Syndrael’s ability + Jain’s ability + standard move). Raythen made his way farthest past the Lava Beetles that M had chosen as her small monster open group, but sadly was cut down on M’s first activation of her nasty master beetle. His roll of double-null on his two brown dice sealed his fate, and he was down for the count.
Maranda pulled back with the hell-hounds, drawing each of them back in a defensive position in front of the remaining search tokens.
Our strategy remained in tact. Jain rushed to the search token and hoped for the best. SUCCESS! Extremely fortuitous for our group. Even with Syndrael positioned deep in the hallway, we knew it would be much tougher if one of the first two searches didn’t prove fruitful, as we would need to get the prisoner to the other side of the board to open her lock, and that would take valuable time. A master ettin popped out of the open doorway on Jain’s side of the board, and as the party pulled back to regroup and take out beetles before they could reach Jain, the hellhounds rushed forward, as well.
The group did fairly well in closing the distance to aid Jain, but M did well in placing the master Ettin to block the corridor between them and their comrade. Jain discarded the prisoner and the first lock, and took a swing at it for a couple damage. Her next attempts would have been success, but M’s card-play took the wind out of our sails, nuking two successes in a row.
The rest of the party continued pushing onwards for a last stand at the secret passage, everyone but Tarha reaching the door. The debate began over whether we should sacrifice the sun-stone to deal 10 damage to the last lock once Tarha reached us. Steve was very reluctant to do so, as the advantages with Tarha were pretty big, but I was concerned that we would be too tight on time for any other options. Luckily, Synd and Avric were able to deal some decent damage to the lock even as Jain completed the final attribute tests.
A small amount of damage remained to be dealt to the lock, and the monsters swarmed in at us. Even with the hell-hounds now taken out by Tarha, we now had several lava beetles and two ettins breathing down on us.
The final roll came through during our 6th turn, and we were able to blast the final lock without using Tarha’s precious trinket. Success!
This played out like many of our Descent outings— it started out looking nearly impossible for the heroes, then quickly shifted in our favour, then finally tensed up again as time grew short and we grew close to our objective.
I was a bit surprised that M chose Hellhounds as her large monster group, but I guess she figured their mobility and numbers were superior to a small group of slower-moving monsters. I think I would have chosen something more menacing in her place— crypt dragons, demon lords, chaos beasts, or golems, but that would have presented its own challenges, as only one of them could bear its brunt onto the heroes at a time from the hallway due to their size. Also, their movement and size would likely have prevented them from joining the others at the secret passage. Us finding the unique search token on the first attempt was pretty huge. We might have had a small chance of success if that had failed, with Synd being so far along the other side of the map, but it would have required a lot of work to get Jain and the prisoner back through the gauntlet of monsters to discard that lock. I know M forgot to use at least one OL card near the beginning of the encounter, so that was probably a tough break for her, as well.
We did have quite a debate about the Pierce ability. My position was that Pierce allows damage to be dealt up to the pierce number so long as sufficient hearts and shields were rolled, but Steve the Blonde felt otherwise, that Pierce merely negates shields. The example we used to illustrate our point was, the hero rolls 2 hearts with Pierce 2, and the Monster defends with 4 shields. In my argument, the hero would still deal 2 damage, the pierce providing unblock able damage for 2 points, but it appears that Steve is correct in that this example would deal NO damage, as the remaining two shields would then absorb the hearts regardless. While I can’t find an official clarification on this, the rule does read “the ATTACK” ignores x shields, which seems to imply that Steve’s interpretation is the correct one. (I have since been able to thematically justify this to myself, as well.)
Overall, a very enjoyable outing, and a nice way to go out before our hiatus for baby-welcoming activities, toddler birthday parties, etc. We did manage to purchase some nifty Act I items for Jain and Synd, and we had fun advancing the class cards, as well. I think we’re all excited to see how the heroes fair agains the tougher Act II monsters and the challenges ahead.