Thursday, May 9, 2013

Descent: Journeys In The Dark (Quest) - The Monster's Hoard


Quest V - The Monster's Hoard


Having recovered from their epic battle at the Shadow Vault, the heroes had been contacted by Frederick, the farmer and former Shadow Binder that had been rescued from the Goblin King Splig's clutches several weeks prior.  Frederick told the heroes of a legendary bow that he once used, but was currently in one of the Overlord's treasure vaults.  The heroes, eager to strike a blow against their nemesis, agreed to escort Frederick to the vault and retrieve the legendary Trueshot.  The heroes journeyed south, across the River Rhynn and into the Carthridge Mountains.  Along the way, they were attacked by one of the Overlord's patrols, but otherwise the journey was uneventful.  [The Overlord won the Interlude, and chose The Monster's Hoard.  Since the heroes won the A Fat Goblin quest, I was curious if this mission would be heavily balanced in their favor.  The only Travel Event was an ambush, so the heroes began the quest slightly wounded.]

The heroes escort Frederick toward their prize

As they moved through the foothills and neared the location of the treasure vault, two merriods blocked the heroes' path.  The heroes moved forward to protect Frederick, who stayed back out of the fight.  The merriods must have eaten recently, or perhaps were old and sickly, as they failed to do significant harm to the heroes and did not survive long.  However, the heroes knew the way was not clear, as they heard the flap of leathery wings approaching.  [The Overlord rolled miserably for the two merriods, who were cut down in short order by the heroes.  The three hybrid sentinels took the southern path and maximum speed, in an attempt to consolidate forces with the merriods.]

The Overlord's forces attack

The heroes defend Frederick against the merriods

Gaining some breathing room, the heroes moved forward to quickly search for a key to the sealed runic door.  Leoric, Avric, and Jain searched nearby as Grisban held back to engage the merriod reinforcements.  Jain found the runic key, but had moved too far ahead of the party and one of the hybrid sentinels pounced on her, cutting her down.  Meanwhile, the other two flew over the heroes' defensive line and attacked Frederick.  Additional merriods had arrived, attacking Avric and the farm with their flailing tentacles.  [Jain was exposed, and one of the hybrid sentinels took her down.  The other two flew over Grisban and Avric to attack Frederick, as the master merriod moved into range and did the same.]

Jain is exposed as the other monsters chase after Frederick

As the other heroes fought, Leoric ran ahead and unlocked the runic door to give them an escape route.  Jain recovered and quickly moved back to her allies, as Avric began to fall back to the hallway.  Grisban had been ensnared by one of the merriods' tentacles, but was covering the other heroes' withdrawal.  However, the hybrid sentinels would not be deterred so easily, as as the merriods kept Grisban busy, they chased their quarry into the tunnel.  The master hybrid sentinel used his fearsome fire breath, taking down Jain and Leoric and further harassing Frederick.  Surrounded and desperate, Frederick made a break for it, but was cut down by two of the hybrid sentinels as the heroes looked on in horror.  [The heroes had a strong start, but left too many openings for the hybrid sentinels to continue to attack Frederick.  Grisban was Immobilized by one of the merriods, and couldn't help the other heroes in the tunnel.  The heroes' last gamble did not pay off, and the result was an Overlord victory for Encounter 1!]

Frederick makes a desperate attempt to flee, but cannot escape the hybrid sentinels

The heroes had lost their guide, but were more determined than ever to continue on and avenge him.  They entered the treasure vault and spied what Leoric knew to be Glyphs of Transport.  Unfortunately, any hope of taking advantage of the glyphs had died with Frederick.  [Since the Overlord won Encounter 1, only monsters would be able to use the glyphs to teleport around the map in Encounter 2.  Normally the Overlord victory in the first encounter is not so important, but this was a critical element to making it to the eight-round time limit for Encounter 2.]

Taking no time, the heroes moved into the vault and quickly engaged some nearby elementals in the Lava Cave.  Their assault destroyed one elemental and forced the second to flee as goblin archers began to teleport into the vault via the Glyphs of Transport!  The shadow dragon minion moved down to engage the heroes, as the master shadow dragon stayed in the Armory and near the vault exit.  [The heroes tore into the elementals, which only managed to do so-so damage.  The Overlord moved one of the shadow dragons down to assist, and used the goblin archer to harass the heroes.]

The heroes decided to split up to attempt to search the vault before they were overwhelmed by the Overlord's minions.  Leoric and Grisban stayed back to engage the shadow dragons, as Jain and Avric moved down the hallway and finished off the last elemental.  The shadow dragon moved to block Grisban in the Lava Cave, as he finished off Leoric.  Jain and Avric cleared the depths of the vault, but were ambushed by several goblins and Jain seriously injured.  [The heroes had been stalled between the remaining elemental and the shadow dragon minion, so they had decided to split up to attack the dragons and search the map.  It wasn't working so well for them.]

The heroes are split up and surrounded

Grisban the Thirsty vs. two shadow dragons

Jain Fairwood and Avric Albright swarmed by goblin archers

Seeing victory was near, the master shadow dragon used the nearby glyph to teleport behind Grisban, pinning him between the two dragons.  The goblin archers' continued volley felled Avric, leaving Grisban as the last hero standing.  Eventually the combined might of two shadow dragons was too much for the dwarf, and the heroes knew they would not prevail.  Fighting valiantly, they withdrew from the vault before yet more of the Overlord's minions arrived.  [The heroes were split up, and even the mighty Grisban couldn't solo two shadow dragons (also, in his defense he was rolling horribly).  I don't know if it's a hard rule, but all four heroes were Knocked Out during Overlord Turn 6, and we decided it was an Overlord victory.]

All four heroes defeated!

OVERview

This quest started terribly for the Overlord, but ended with a decisive victory!

My open group choice for Encounter 1 (hybrid sentinels) proved very, very useful.  Their Fly ability allowed them to ignore the water tiles, thus allowing them to reach the heroes much sooner and move over the heroes' defensive lines to attack Frederick.  Coupled with the Prey On The Weak ability and the master hybrid sentinel's Fire Breath ability, they have proven a very solid choice in every quest thus far.

Aside from that, the heroes made some mistakes and left too many paths to Frederick open for me to exploit.  They did a pretty good job of blocking off the merriods, but the hybrid sentinels managed to sneak into positions to attack Frederick.  While he does have 20 health and two grey defense dice, the fact that Frederick cannot be healed means suicide runs against him are viable.

For Encounter 2, I chose elementals and shadow dragons.  The shadow dragons' Shadow ability is a huge advantage, and they should be used to full effect in every mission possible.  The elementals have only been so-so; some of their abilities are useful (such as Fire if they're near two or more heroes), but they don't seem to be very resilient and they do not have any abilities to spend Surges on.  The goblin archers were surprisingly useful, as there were too many higher priority targets available for the heroes to attack them.  Be sure to pay attention to