|Friends and Foes
A Preview for Labyrinth of Ruin, the Upcoming Descent Expansion
|Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition | Published 28 March 2013|
Dreams of fortune and glory, untamed lands, and old mysteries have brought you to the edges of Terrinoth, near to the ruined city of Sudanya. Little is known of this place and its people, but tales and legends give naught but high allure to the seasoned adventurer.
A dark omen shrouds your steps when you first discover the scattered remains of a Dunwarr expedition to these lands. Dead and burned, the bodies of these explorers transform to caution what was once a sense of excitement. Your destination of the Pylia Caravan, formed into an encampment for several weeks of local trade, lies not far on the road ahead. The expedition’s fate forces you to recall many dark rumors regarding the mysterious city. Sinister forces, terrible magic, and a deep seed of evil led to Sudanya’s downfall, or so it is said. Will you unlock the secrets of the forgotten city, or will this grisly scene prove an ominous sign of things to come?
Last month, we announced the upcoming release of Labyrinth of Ruin, a campaign expansion for Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition. Set in a previously unexplored region of Terrinoth, Labyrinth of Ruin takes players on a riveting journey to the broken remains of a forgotten city. Throughout the many quests included in this expansion, heroes will enlist the aid of unique allies in their mission to stop the evil overlord.
In today’s preview of Labyrinth of Ruin, we’ll take a closer look at its included campaign and the many challenges the heroes will face throughout its nineteen quests. We’ll also explore the game’s new Ally mechanic, and we’ll see how the choices the players make during Labyrinth of Ruin’s plot will affect these allies and their loyalties!
An Ancient City Full of Peril
Labyrinth of Ruin is a campaign expansion, meaning that while it requires components from the Descent: Journeys in the Dark base game, its linked series of quests comprises a single, standalone story. In other words, it provides a main campaign (like The Shadow Rune from the base game) to which smaller expansions like Lair of the Wyrm can add side quests.
That said, Labyrinth of Ruin presents its own, never-before-seen campaign sheet and overland map, both of which feature its nineteen quests and the perils that lay in wait on the roads between them.
First, let’s look at the Labyrinth of Ruin overland map, above. You’ll notice that it’s divided into two distinct sections, the green and hilly edges of civilization that make up the northwest two thirds of the map, and the rugged wastelands of Sudanya in the southeast corner. This effectively displays the campaign’s two epic Acts. In the first Act, the heroes gather their strength and learn of the threats building in the southeast. In the Interlude, they gain entry into the ruins of Sudanya and descend into its subterranean depths. And finally, in Act II, they face the dangers lurking beneath that sun-scorched wilderness.
Pylia Camp serves as the heroes’ main base of operations, and from there they make important decisions that will affect their fortunes throughout the rest of the story. For example, a trip to the abandoned monastery in the northwest corner of the map will introduce them to Serena, a gifted and precognitive healer. Alternatively, a journey to the bandit camp just southwest of Pylia will bring them in contact with Raythen, the cunning dwarf thief. We’ll further explore the significance of that decision a little later. For now, let’s take a closer look at Labyrinth of Ruin’s campaign sheet (below).
Players familiar with The Shadow Rune may notice that the campaign sheet for Labyrinth of Ruin is laid out in a more directly chronological manner, with Act I quests at the top of the page and Act II quests at the bottom. Over the course of the Labyrinth of Ruin campaign, a group will complete nine quests: the Introduction, three Act I quests, the Interlude, three Act II quests, and the Finale.
As in the base game, the winning side of any given quest earns the right to select the next quest. As you can see, however, those choices are somewhat more limited in Act I than in Act II, with arrows indicating the choices that are available after each quest is finished (in Act II, any three of the six available quests may be selected, in any order). This limitation in choosing Act I quests is particularly important given an exciting new mechanic introduced in Labyrinth of Ruin: Allies.
Two Roads Diverged...
Allies are a helpful resource available to the hero team that can provide a new wealth of tactical options. These non-player characters are somewhat comparable to lieutenants for the overlord, but they are controlled collectively by the heroes and offer much-needed bonuses and special abilities to the forces of good. In Labyrinth of Ruin, two such Allies await a fateful meeting with the heroes – one which will potentially lead to a fruitful and long-lasting relationship. The catch, however, is that the plot of Labyrinth of Ruin will only permit the heroes to take on one Ally, not both. The heroes must therefore choose their quests wisely (assuming the choice is theirs at all) when making their way through Sudanya.
After the Introduction quest, entitled “Ruinous Whispers,” the heroes will either travel to the northwest for “Gathering Foretold” and meet the meditative healer named Serena, or to the southwest for “Honor Among Thieves,” where they’ll meet the cunning dwarf named Raythen. Whichever Ally they do not encounter in the campaign’s second quest will be thereafter unavailable, and although fate may intervene to have them meet again, the unchosen Ally’s full story will remain a mystery.
The quest in which you might gain Serena as an Ally. Click to enlarge.
This makes the choice of which Act I quest line to pursue a vital one, given the stark contrasts between Serena and Raythen. Like heroes, Allies can gain their own special Skill cards during their adventures, and one look at the skills available to Serena and Raythen underscores their divergent roles in a group.
The quest in which you might gain Raythen as an Ally. Click to enlarge.
With skills like Healing Aura, Aura of Might, and Holy Hammer, Serena excels at healing, buffing, and smiting. All of this makes her an ideal complement for a team that lacks a Disciple, or one that wants to bolster his effectiveness. On the other hand, Raythen’s Night Prowler, Back Strike, and Sharp Eyes skills, along with his special Investigate action, make him the perfect companion for dedicated treasure hunters.
Either way, however, the heroes must be careful to protect their newfound friends from the dark influence of the overlord. For example, the Act II quest called “Fountain of Insight” (above) presents the overlord with a chance to take control of allies, converting them to his own sinister cause! Such a circumstance would be dire indeed, since not only would the overlord then control a powerful new lieutenant, but he would have robbed the heroes of a great asset.
These once loyal Allies have been corrupted by the overlord. Click their cards to see their new powers.
Which path will you choose, and which Ally will you recruit to help you in your campaign against evil? Find out when Labyrinth of Ruin releases in the second quarter of 2013, and in the meantime, keep checking back for more previews!
Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition is a story-driven board game for 2-5 players that takes a party of adventurers deep into the dungeons of Terrinoth for adventure, treasure, and glory. Players will embark on a campaign of linked quests as they develop characters based on four fantasy archetypes.