Game Setup for Descent (Vanilla)
Main Game Concept, Journeys in the Dark
I - Rules
(see JITD, p. 6-7; FAQ, p. 1)
Follow the steps below to prepare your quest. Note that some quests may have special setup rules of their own, as described in the Quest Guide.
Select one player to be the overlord. It is recommended that the most experienced player take the role of the overlord, but you may choose at random if you prefer. The other players are the heroes. The heroes should seat themselves around the table in any order. The hero player to the left of the overlord player is referred to as the first hero, even though he will not necessarily take the first turn every round.
Note: The overlord should complete steps 2B through 7B while the hero players complete steps 2A through 7A.
The first hero shuffles the cardboard hero sheets, and then deals one randomly to each hero player, starting with himself and continuing clockwise. Alternately, if the overlord player agrees, the hero players can simply choose the heroes they will play, again starting with the first hero and continuing clockwise.
Exception: In a two-player game, the hero player controls two heroes.
Next, each hero player receives the number of wound and fatigue tokens indicated on his hero sheet. Each hero player also receives 300 coins (three money tokens, each with a value of 100 coins), one set of order tokens (1 aim, 1 dodge, 1 guard, and 1 rest), and one hero turn token. These tokens should be placed in the play area next to each player's hero sheet.
The hero players separate the three skill decks (subterfuge, fighting, and wizardry) and shuffle each of them individually. Then the hero players draw their skill cards, each player drawing the number and type of skill cards indicated on his hero sheet. Each hero player may then choose to trade in one (and only one) of his skill cards for a new card from the same deck. The hero players do this one player at a time, starting with the first hero and continuing clockwise. Discarded skill cards should be shuffled back into their respective decks immediately after the player discarding them has drawn his replacement skill card.
Important: Skill cards are placed face up in front of the player that owns them and can be used at any time for the duration of the game. Skill cards are never used up, discarded, or replaced once this step is completed.
After the Skill cards have been dealt to the hero players, separate the three Feat decks (fighting, subterfuge, and wizardry) and shuffle them individually. Then, each hero player draws the quantity and selection of Feat cards indicated by the starting skills section of his hero sheet. You can skip this step if you don't own the Tomb of Ice expansion.
The hero players may look through the town shop deck and use their money to purchase items from it. Each item has its cost listed at the bottom of the card. To purchase an item, the player returns the indicated money to the pile of unused money tokens, making change if necessary. A player may not purchase an item if he does not have sufficient money to pay for it.
In addition to buying cards from the shop deck, heroes may purchase potions for 50 coins each at this time.
Once the hero players have purchased the items they want, the shop deck is returned to the play area. Should the heroes later return to town, they may again purchase items from the deck.
Important: The store's stock is limited: there may not be enough of each item for all players to purchase one. If the hero players cannot come to an agreement on who gets to purchase a particular item from the shop, then the first player to the left of the overlord who wants the item may purchase it.
Finally, the heroes receive a number of conquest tokens as indicated by the quest they've agreed to play. For Into the Dark, they receive five conquest tokens to start. Conquest tokens are shared by the entire group of heroes and represent how well the heroes are performing their quest. The hero players gain additional conquest tokens by activating glyphs, opening chests, and completing other tasks. They lose conquest tokens each time one of them is killed and each time the overlord shuffles his deck of cards.
After collecting their conquest tokens and waiting for the overlord player to set up the map, each hero player receives the plastic figure representing his hero. Starting with the first hero and continuing clockwise, each hero player places his figure on the map on or adjacent to an activated glyph, with no more than one figure in each space.
The overlord player looks through the Quest Guide and selects a quest to play.
The overlord player separates the chest markers into their three types and then randomizes each type, making sure to keep the markers' number side down. Then, he selects the set of monster reference cards that corresponds to the number of players in the game and lays them out face up near the playing area where all players can easily see and reference them.
The overlord player now assembles the map pieces as shown on the quest map for the selected quest. He should only assemble map pieces - he should not place any doors, figures, props, etc. on the map at this time. The overlord player places the compass rose token and the town marker near the board as well.
The overlord player places any monster figures, doors, or markers indicated in the start area of the quest. If a chest is indicated, the overlord draws a random chest Makers from the appropriate pile, looks at its back, and then places it face up in the indicated space on the board. Play now begins with the hero players' first turns.
The overlord receives a certain amount of treachery points based on the current quest. He can use these points to customize his overlord card deck or buy dark glyps. You can skip this step if you play only with the core game.
Finally, the overlord draws 3 cards from his deck after shuffling it. He doesn't start with any treat tokens.