Before playing, set up the game as follows:
- Choose Quest: Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition
includes 16 unique quests (along with 4 campaign-specific quests)
with specific setup instructions and objectives for both the heroes and
the overlord. When choosing which quest to play, refer to the Quest
Guide. For a player’s first game, we suggest choosing “First Blood,” an
- Assemble Map: Players refer to the chosen quest’s “Encounter 1”
diagram in the Quest Guide to assemble the map. Place any doors
used in the quest as indicated in the Quest Guide.
- Choose Player Roles: Players decide who will take on the role of the
overlord. It is recommended that the most experienced player take on
this role. All other players take on the roles of the heroes. If all players
do not agree, then this decision is made randomly (such as by rolling
- Prepare Tokens: Sort all damage, fatigue, hero, and condition tokens
into piles by type. Place each pile of tokens within easy reach of all
- Assemble Search Deck and Condition Cards: Take all the Search
cards and shuffle them together. Place the Search deck facedown
within easy reach of the hero players. Place the Condition cards in
separate piles based on their type, within easy reach of all players.
After completing General Setup, the hero players continue setup as follows. The overlord player then performs Overlord Setup (see “Overlord Setup”).
- Take Activation Cards and Hero Tokens: Each hero player chooses one Activation card and takes the hero tokens of the corresponding color.
- Choose Heroes: All hero players must agree on which player controls which hero. Each hero player chooses one Hero sheet and takes the corresponding hero figure. In a two-player game, the lone hero player controls two different heroes (see “Two-player Game”).
- Choose Classes: Each hero player chooses one Class deck matching his chosen hero’s archetype icon (printed on his Hero sheet; see “Hero Archetypes”). Each archetype has different classes available; there are two such classes available for each archetype in the game, each one defining which skills are available to a hero of that class. Any Class deck belonging to a class not chosen is returned to the game box. When a player chooses a class for his hero, he takes the deck of cards for that class (see “Class Card Anatomy”). This Class deck includes the starting equipment for the hero, as well as all of the skills associated with that class. A player may not select a hero class that does not match the archetype icon shown on the hero’s Hero sheet. Furthermore, a player may not select a class that has been chosen by another player.
- Choose Skills: Every hero begins the game with the basic skill (the skill card with no experience icon) and starting equipment from his Class deck. When playing the basic game, all other skills are returned to the game box. These skills are only used if playing a campaign or using the Epic Play variant (see “Campaign Rules” and “Epic Play”).
- Place Heroes: Each player places his hero figure on the map in the area indicated by the quest rules for hero setup. This is typically on an entrance tile.
The overlord player performs the following steps after hero players perform Hero Setup (see “Hero Setup”).
- Choose Monsters: The Quest Guide lists the monster group options available to the overlord for the chosen quest. He takes the Act I Monster cards and figures for the chosen monster groups and places them in front of him. See “Monsters” on page 2 of the Quest Guide for more rules on choosing monsters. Many quests also feature a specific lieutenant that the overlord uses during the quest. The overlord player takes the appropriate Act I Lieutenant card and token and places them in front of him.
- Perform Quest Setup: The overlord refers to the “Setup” section of the chosen quest and follows the instructions listed. This includes placing monster figures, objective tokens, search tokens, and villager tokens as indicated on the quest map.
- Create Overlord Deck: The overlord player shuffles the 15 basic Overlord cards to create his Overlord deck. When playing the basic game, all other Overlord cards are returned to the game box. These cards are only used if playing a campaign or if using the Epic Play variant (see “Campaign Rules” and “Epic Play”).
- Draw Overlord Cards: The overlord player draws a number of Overlord cards equal to the number of heroes into his hand (see “Overlord Cards”).
After players have finished Hero Setup and Overlord Setup, they are ready to begin playing the game.