When a hero or monster suffers damage equal to or greater than its Health, it is defeated. Unless specified differently in a given quest, when a monster is defeated, it is simply removed from the map and is no longer in play. When a hero is defeated, he is knocked out.

Knocked Out

When a hero is defeated, he immediately suffers fatigue up to his Stamina, damage up to his Health (if defeated by some other effect), and the controlling player removes his figure from the map, replacing it with one of his hero tokens. The hero player discards any Condition cards he has and the overlord player may immediately draw one Overlord card.
A hero cannot use skills or abilities while knocked out, unless an effect specifically allows it.

Heroes cannot suffer fatigue past their Stamina value, nor damage past their Health value—even when knocked out. A knocked out hero cannot receive any Condition cards and is immune to all attacks and most hero abilities.

A space containing a knocked out hero (represented by a hero token) is considered to be empty to other figures for the purposes of movement. In other words, any figure may move through and end its movement in that space. Also, knocked out heroes do not block line of sight.

Unless revived by another hero, a knocked out hero may only perform one action on his next turn, and that action must be to stand back up (see “Stand Up” on page 10).

A knocked out hero may still recover damage from other heroes through the use of skills, potions, and being revived (see “Revive a Hero” on page 10). If a knocked out hero recovers at least one damage, he immediately replaces his hero token with his figure and may perform actions as normal on his next turn.

Errata and FAQ Version 1.0

Q: What happens when a hero is defeated during his turn?
A: If a hero is defeated during his own turn, that hero’s turn immediately ends.

Q: Can a knocked out hero do anything after standing up during his turn?
A: After performing a stand up action, the hero’s turn immediately ends. This means the hero cannot suffer any fatigue to gain movement points or use any other skills or abilities.

Q: If a hero is knocked out, does he have to stand up during his turn?
A: A hero is not required to perform any actions on his turn. If a hero is knocked out, he can choose to remain knocked out by not performing any actions, thus ending his turn.

The Golden Rules

There are a few very important rules that players should always keep in mind when playing Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition. These rules are as follows:

  • Many quest rules listed in the Quest Guide come in direct conflict with the rules found in this rulebook. The quest rules listed in the Quest Guide take precedence over the rules in this rulebook. Furthermore, some cards and abilities will come in direct conflict with rules found in this rulebook and the Quest Guide. Cards and abilities take precedence over both the Quest Guide and this rulebook.
  • Timing conflicts may arise when two or more players wish to use an ability with the same triggering condition. In these situations, the current player (the player who is currently taking his turn) decides the order in which the abilities are resolved.
  • Players are not always limited by the number of damage, fatigue, or condition tokens found in the game. If players run out, they may use coins, beads, or any other suitable replacements.


The Quest Guide contains 20 unique quests. Sixteen of these quests may be played individually, each in a single game session. The special Interlude and Finale quests in the Quest Guide can only be played as part of the campaign (see “Campaign Rules”) and are not intended to be played as single game sessions.

Each quest has a unique map setup, as well as rules specific to that quest. Most quests include multiple parts known as encounters. Each encounter within a quest has its own map layout, rules, and objectives. The Quest Guide lists the objectives for both the hero players and the overlord player. When one side completes its objective, the quest immediately transitions to the next encounter, or ends if the players are already on the last encounter.

When players transition from one encounter of a quest to another, they
perform the following steps:

  • Heroes keep all damage suffered during Encounter 1.
  • Heroes recover all fatigue suffered during Encounter 1.
  • Heroes keep all conditions they had at the end of Encounter 1.
  • Each hero player flips his Hero sheet faceup.
  • Heroes keep all search cards; any flipped cards remain flipped.
  • Any knocked out heroes may perform a stand up action for free.
  • The overlord player keeps his current hand of Overlord cards.
  • Players disassemble the map for Encounter 1 and refer to the Quest Guide in order to set up the map for Encounter 2.

The last encounter of a quest ends when one side meets the victory

Two-Player Game

In a two-player game, the hero player controls two heroes. Each hero takes his turn independently and is treated as if he is an individual hero controlled by a different player. The only difference is that the same player makes all decisions for both heroes.

Familiars Treated as Figures

Some familiars, such as the Reanimate, are treated as figures (as indicated by its Familiar card). These familiars block line of sight and movement, but are considered friendly figures for hero movement. They may be targeted and affected by monster attacks, hero abilities, and Overlord cards that target a hero. Similar to monsters, if they are required to
make an attribute test, they automatically fail. Unlike normal familiars, these types of familiars are susceptible to the effects of terrain during their movement and may be affected by conditions. When a familiar is defeated, remove it from the map.


Some hero abilities and class skills give heroes control over creatures known as familiars. These familiars are represented by a token on the map and cannot be targeted or affected by any attack (unless otherwise noted, see “Familiars Treated as Figures”).

A hero player may activate each familiar his hero controls once during his hero turn (either before or after resolving all of his hero’s actions). Activating a familiar does not require an action, but it may not interrupt any other action. Essentially, a hero player with a familiar must choose whether to activate his hero first or his familiar first. Regardless, both may
be activated during his turn.

When activated, a familiar may perform a move action following the same rules as heroes. Familiars treat any special terrain (other than obstacles) as water during their movement. The familiar may perform additional types of actions during its activation, as noted on its Familiar card. These additional actions, unless otherwise noted, may be performed in addition to the move action and may interrupt the move action in a way similar to hero move actions. If no such other actions are noted, then all the familiar can do on its turn is move up to its Speed value.

Normally, a space containing a familiar does not block line of sight or movement, unless otherwise noted on its Familiar card. Any figure may end its movement in a space with a familiar. Likewise, a familiar may end its movement in a space containing a figure.

Example: During her turn, Widow Tarha decides to activate her Reanimate before her activation. Tarha moves the Reanimate up to its Speed of “3,” attacks a barghest, and then proceeds with her activation.


Lieutenants are powerful characters controlled by the overlord player. The Quest Guide specifies which, if any, lieutenant to use and any special rules concerning the lieutenant in that particular quest. Lieutenants are represented on the map by lieutenant tokens, but they are treated as monster figures for all purposes—including figure activations, unless
specified otherwise. Lieutenants have attributes and perform attribute tests, just like heroes. Like Monster cards, Lieutenant cards also list the dice used when lieutenants attack or defend. Each lieutenant is treated as its own monster group.

Large Monsters

Some monster figures occupy more than one space on the map. These are known as large monsters. When determining movement for large monsters, the overlord player chooses one of the spaces that the monster occupies and counts movement from the chosen space as if the figure occupied one space. When the monster ends (or interrupts) its movement, the overlord player places the large monster figure so that one of the spaces its base occupies includes the space where the monster ended its movement. The monster may change the orientation of its base relative to its starting position, but if the monster cannot fit its entire base on the map, then it cannot end (or interrupt) its movement in that space.

The monster is only considered to have entered the one space in which it ended its movement. In other words, large monsters “shrink” to move as if they were normal-sized monsters, then “expand” again when they are done moving.

When large monsters enter a space containing terrain, they are affected just like any single-spaced figure. When large monsters end their movement and their bases are placed on terrain that they did not move through, refer to the individual terrain rules for what effects, if any, apply to the large monster.

For an example of large monster movement, see “Large Monster Movement”.


Monsters are the overlord’s primary weapon against heroes and the tools used to complete his objective. Each type of monster has a Monster card associated with that monster type. Monsters are placed and activated in groups. The size of the monster group is determined by the number of heroes in the game. Each Monster card lists the number of monsters in a group based on the number of heroes. All monsters of a given type are
considered to be part of the same monster group. Any game effect that affects a monster group affects each monster within that group.

For each monster type in the game, there are two different varieties: minions and masters. Minions are represented by tan monster figures and are the basic monsters. Master monsters are represented by red monster figures and are more powerful than minions. Monster cards list the information for both minion and master monsters of each monster type.

Unless playing a campaign or Epic Play, always use Act I Monster cards.