Dwarven Descent is a game in which you lead a band of Dwarves through dungeon layouts you reconfigure on the fly using rotating hex tiles.
As you change the dungeon layout, some of it will be connected to the Dwarves (contiguous with them) and some will of it be completely disconnected.
From that simple mechanic springs an entirely new kind of action dungeon crawl. One in which the game environment constantly changes based not only on the actions of your party, but also on the ways in which you change the layout of the dungeon.
Traps, Terrain, and Treasure
Dungeon features respond differently depending on whether they’re in the “active” (connected to the Dwarves) dungeon or the “inactive” (not connected to the Dwarves) dungeon.
For example, one such feature—the Necrocyst—damages the Dwarves while in the active dungeon and heals all monsters while in the inactive.
The amount of loot you score also depends on the proportion of the dungeon at the time you acquire it. Some treasures have a higher yield for a larger inactive dungeon while others reward the player for having a greater area of the level active.
Managing that ratio of active-to-inactive dungeon—maximizing reward while minimizing danger—is at the very heart of the game.
There are also a variety of special abilities, relics, and runic enhancements available to help the Dwarves overcome challenges and get out alive. Using those resources at the right time can often spell the difference between success and defeat.
Leveling Through Lineage
As they progress through the game, the Dwarves’ special abilities will increase in power and gain additional effects as they discover the lost lore of their people and the history of their clan ancestors.
This system allows players to customize their party while also revealing more of the story of the game. In fact, almost all of the things that increase the power of the characters or party as a whole are rooted in discovering more of the history of the Dwarves and their perpetual downfall.
The Story of the Dwarves
So who are the heroes of our tale? They are members of a race that has, for all its inventiveness and industry, been plagued by a never-ending series of cultural ascensions and civilization ending downfalls.
Every Age of Dwarven society saw a new means of progress. Intricate technical marvels would give way to the subtler arts of geomancy, only to be replaced again by the rigorous study of the natural world.
Dwarven artifice was matched only by Dwarven hubris. And so every Age saw a new cycle of achievement followed by an even greater fall into ruination.
As such, Dwarven ruins are buried like the bones of long dead beasts in the strata of the Deep, one upon the other through the geological record of time. The Deep is a treasure trove of lost Dwarven architecture, relics, and lore. While they vary in application, their underlying power is unquestionable.
And the Doom That Follows
For all that hubris has been at the root of their downfall, the Dwarves are not alone in the agency of their ruin. There is another, inkly race wholly opposed to them. In the Deep, they are never far from the light of Dwarven camps. They watch with baleful intent, hungering, it seems, for Dwarven sorrow.
For countless ages, the Gloam have tirelessly pursued and hounded the Dwarves, defiling their greatest works and waiting for the inevitable downfall of their civilization.
Why they pursue the Dwarves, ever upward and unrelenting, is not known. What is known is that the Gloam come in a variety of shapes and sizes, armed with fell powers and abilities.
Gloamlings are the least bothersome, armed only with tooth and claw. It’s never the individual Gloamling that spells a Dwarf’s doom, however. The threat lies in their great numbers, which can easily overwhelm even the stoutest Dwarven war band.
Voesk are hulking brutes with deceptive cunning. Seeing several in the same area is a worrisome sight, as they will tear through lesser Gloam to be the first to rend Dwarven flesh.
Sappers are the most exotic of the Gloam yet encountered, and perhaps the most deadly. They eat the light from the surrounding air and use it to become living bombs. Imagine the plight of the poor Dwarven miner, thinking he sees the welcoming light of his kin, only to come face-to-face with a primed Gloam Sapper
Because of this, all Dwarves know—never linger in the lightless tunnels and darkened grottos of the Deep. For in those places the shadows grow long and quickly congeal into hated foes.
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