Descent: Road to
In which our heroes were verily smote.
And then smote again.
Our first week went something like this:
"Oooh, a rumor says there's something good nearby! Except...it's not nearby. It's far away."
"Well, let's go see this side dungeon first so that we can get experience and build up our characters."
"There's a dragon in this dungeon."
"But it's our first dungeon."
"Yeah... and it's kind of a boss dragon."
"Oh. But this is just the first level of our first dungeon."
"Yeah. Oh, and it's actually tougher than a regular boss dragon. It has more health and more armor."
"Yeah. Oh, and none of you can do enough damage to hurt it."
"That's nice. Well, we're going to dash in, get some money near the exit and get out."
"Hmm, yes. Well, your problem with that is that there's six kobolds now between the heroes and the exit that weren't there seconds ago."
"Aaah. Well, we kind of have to kill them to get out."
"Yes you do. And, while you do that, the better-than-boss dragon will move twice and catch up to you."
"And it will breathe fire on you."
"Oh, and it will breathe fire on you twice."
"That's also bad."
"Yes it is. And now you're all dead. And the overlord is now tougher because you died."
"That's even worse."
"Not for the overlord."
Cut to two hours later.
"Hey, we killed the skeleton boss of this dungeon level! We're doing pretty good."
"Yeah. Well, he actually comes back to life with full health."
Ten minutes later:
"There. Now he's dead."
"Yeah. Well, he actually comes back to life with full health again."
"Hmm. That's irritating."
Twenty minutes later:
"There. Stay dead."
"Nope. He comes back to life again."
Thirty minues later:
"There. IS HE DEAD YET?"
"Yes. He's finally dead."
"Okay. We open the door to the last level."
"Okay. Now you see that boss dragon again that you still can't damage."
"And there's also a boss demon with him."
"Of course there is. Why wouldn't there be? Well, we flee the dungeon."
"Okay. By fleeing, you automatically go back to the start town and have basically undone all the travel you've done over the last three weeks."
And here endeth this chapter.
Let's put this into context. This game is tough for starting heroes. Brutally tough.
Now, none of this is Ben's (the overlord) fault. He's playing exactly like he should, and exactly like any of us would if we were in his shoes. His job is not to make the game fun for us. It's to defeat the heroes. And I think I speak for Dennis and Chad when I say we appreciate the job that Ben is doing, because it's like referees in college basketball (which we watched after Descent). It's a thankless job. When he is successful, the game is less enjoyable for the rest of the players. When he's not successful, it's less enjoyable for him. And we all knew that before we started playing. It's just the way the game is. So we need an overlord who can take the sighs and gripes and continue to play. And Ben does that. So thanks, Ben. You're playing well.
And to be honest, I had a pretty good time. Honest. And I wish this post didn't sound so...despondent. The game looks beautiful, and the variety of things we've seen as we've played is an improvement that's head-and-shoulders above the original gameplay. But we're in a tough spot. The overlord has twice as much "conquest" as the party, which means he's getting tougher, and doing so faster than we are. We've actually got a decent amount of money. But XP is difficult to come by without killing bosses, and no XP means no training for extra dice or learning new skills, which basically means...no killing the bosses.
And none of us are sure if there's a way to make the game competitive given the position we're in. We can't complete any of the beginning dungeons, partly because there's no such thing as a "beginning dungeon." They're all just crazy tough. That's a pretty demoralizing feeling. So, we put it away for the week and may take a look at it next week with fresh eyes and see what we can do.