27 July 2010

Close Quarters

A look at the Catacombs in DungeonQuest, an upcoming board game

The many years of an elf ’s life can weigh heavily upon him. From village to village I have wandered, hearing the sad tales of lost children, spouses, friends, and loved ones who have thrown their lives away seeking gold in the depths of Dragonfire Dungeon. That wretched place has brought sorrow and loss to so many hearts... I will endure it no longer. Once and for all, those deadly halls must be emptied of their treasures. No more will loved ones dig their own graves in a fool’s quest for ancient gold.       - From the journal of Lindel

As the release of DungeonQuest approaches, dungeon-delving veterans and newcomers alike are preparing to face the dragon’s challenge. A re-imagining of the classic board game of dungeon exploration, DungeonQuest retains the all the most beloved elements of the original game while updating key mechanics. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen some of these mechanics, both classic and updated. If you haven’t already, check out our previews on the basics of movement and the fundamentals of overcoming encounters through attribute tests. Today, we’ll reveal the dungeon beneath the dungeon, a system of perilous subterranean tunnels known as the Catacombs!

The Catacombs are a hazardous labyrinth of crumbling vaults and passageways that wind their way underneath Dragonfire Dungeon. Legends say that the greatest treasure in the realm is buried in the Catacombs, worth far more than anything in Kalladra’s Treasure Chamber! There are various methods by which to enter this corridors (such as the Catacomb Entrance tile), and while some cards and encounters give players the option to explore the Catacombs, others force it upon them (such as failing an agility test when crossing a bridge).

No matter how you end up in the darkness of the Catacombs, being there can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s difficult to keep your sense of direction while in its depths, so movement works a bit differently than it does in the dungeon above; when a Hero enters the Catacombs, his travel marker replaces his figure, with the arrow pointing in the direction of his choosing. Choose wisely, because once your direction is set, you’re stuck on that path for good or ill.

Heroes in the Catacombs do not move or search like Heroes exploring the dungeon above. Instead, a Hero in the Catacombs must draw a Catacomb card at the start of each of his turns. These cards function similarly to Dungeon cards... but the risks are higher and more impressive loot awaits!

Moreover, whenever a Hero draws and resolves a Catacomb card, he places it next to his character sheet on the table, where it will serve as a counter indicating the distance travelled in the Catacombs. When (or if) that Hero finally leaves the Catacombs (perhaps by drawing an Exit or a Hole in the Roof from the Catacomb deck), the number of cards he drew during his underground journey indicate the number of spaces he has moved in the direction of his Travel Marker. He then discards those Catacomb cards, keeping any loot for himself.

In the diagram on the left, Lindel has descended into the Catacombs and drawn three cards, moving him three spaces in a single direction of his choosing. Before leaving, he chose to veer right, and rolled a “two” on a single die (right diagram). He'll now emerge in that space by placing his figure and drawing a new tile.

The darkness and confusion in the Catacombs makes it easy to veer off your intended course, however. Before ascending into a space, you must choose a direction (left or right), then roll a single die. The number you roll will determine how far your Hero shifts to the left or right before returning from this dangerous underworld. With any luck, you can pop up right into Kalladra’s chamber!

But what would a preview of DungeonQuest be without a look at one of the intrepid Heroes venturing into the depths of Dragonfire Dungeon? Some seek power and wealth, others fame, and still others look to test their skill against new foes. A few, however, seek to do good for the people of Terrinoth. The elf known as Lindel is one such Hero.

Lindel’s long years have let him bear witness to the suffering caused by Kalladra, and he has vowed to end it once and for all. His decades of experience also make him a well-rounded adventurer, with a range of abilities and a knack for learning new tricks. Check out his character cards for Runebound, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, and Runewars as well!

Keep checking back! More mysteries of Dragonfire Dungeon will be revealed...

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