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Who Are The Characters In Descent: Journeys In The Dark?

The dungeon crawler is one of the oldest genres in modern gaming. Popularised by video games, there have been more and more dungeon crawling board games entering the market over the past few years. From Gloomhaven to Dark Souls, Zombicide to Mansions of Madness there really is a dungeon crawler for everyone.

Through 2016 and 2017, my gaming group and I worked our way through Star Wars: Imperial Assault by Fantasy Flight. It’s a great game, and arguably the first real dungeon crawling game we played together. We all really enjoyed the RPG element, and ultimately the love for it went on to our group owning Gloomhaven that I write so regularly about on this blog.

Inbetween Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Gloomhaven however, my girlfriend and I decided to buy the game that helped inspire the Imperial Assault mechanics – Descent: Journeys in the Dark.

And then…we didn’t really go on to play it. We’ve played it a couple of times, but nowhere near enough to be able to actually complete the campaign. It was okay, but it didn’t spark the fire that made us want to play a game more than around 5 times. It’s a shame because it is such an interesting concept.

So, this post has kind of been written to try and spark my own excitement for the game once again and reignite that fire. In this post, we’re going to look at who the characters in Descent: Journeys In The Dark are, as well as break them down from a bit of an analysis perspective.

Awesome – let’s do this –

Who Are The Characters In Descent: Journeys In The Dark?

The Basics

There are eight characters in the base game that we will be looking at in this article. These are split into four colours representing different types of characters. They are Healers (blue), Warriors (red), Mage (yellow) and Scout (green).

Each character has two abilities – a Hero Ability (which remains with them no matter what) and a Heroic Feat. The Heroic Feat requires the player to turn their player character card over once it has been used, removing the ability from the game. It can only be played once.

Each character then has four base statistics representing Movement (which is exactly what it sounds like in a grid-based game), Health, Stamina, and the Defense die they use as a base if they are attacked. Each die is different in Descent.

There are also four base types of test in the game, giving four more attributes depending on the kind of thing they want to do in the game. These are Might, Knowledge, Willpower, and Awareness.

Finally, each character has a backstory, written in the back of the campaign books. I won’t type these out but I will give a brief summary.

Descent: Journeys In The Dark – Healing Characters

Avric Albright

Descent Characters: Avric Albright

Avric Albright

Hero Ability: Each hero within 3 spaces of you (including yourself) gains “Roll energy: recover one health” on all attack rolls.

Heroic Feat: Roll 2 red power dice. Each hero within 3 spaces of your (including yourself) may recover health equal to the hearts rolled.

Speed: 4
Health: 12
Stamina: 4
Defense: Grey

Willpower: 4
Might: 2
Knowledge: 3
Perception: 2

Story: Once a lowly foot soldier assigned to the Citadel of Archaut, Avric discovered his healing abilities and decided he wanted to become a priest. Unable to refuse a cry for help, however, Avric never made it to the place he was officially meant to be trained. This means he is yet to become a member of the holy orders and is not “technically” a cleric. That being said, his healing ability is still strong so in D&D terms, Avric would probably be a Paladin.

Ashrian

Descent Characters: Ashrian

Ashrian

Hero Ability: When a minion monster begins its activation adjacent to you, it is Stunned.

Heroic Feat: Choose a monster within 3 spaces of you. Each monster in that group is Stunned.

Speed: 5
Health: 10
Stamina: 4
Defense: Grey

Willpower: 3
Might: 2
Knowledge: 2
Perception: 4

Story: Ashrian is a wandering and nomadic herbalist. The story goes that she knew nothing of the common tongue, only knowing the way of the forest, when she emerged from the woodland just over a year ago. Now she can speak dozens of dialects and has a knowledge of forestry far beyond any else could possibly have. Like all great adventurers, she doesn’t speak of her past.

Descent: Journeys In The Dark – Warrior Characters

Grisban the Thirsty

Descent Characters: Grisban the Thirsty

Grisban the Thirsty

Hero Ability: Each time you perform a rest action, you may immediately discard 1 Condition card from yourself.

Heroic Feat: Use during your turn to perform 1 attack action. This is in addition to your 2 actions on your turn.

Speed: 3
Health: 14
Stamina: 4
Defense: Grey

Willpower: 3
Might: 5
Knowledge: 2
Perception: 1

Story: Grisbain the Thirsty is a stereotypical fantasy dwarf, much like Gimli. He likes to drink and he is skilled with using an axe. This led to him getting the name “Grisbain the Blood-Thirsty”, which jokingly became “Grisbain the Beer-Thirsty”, and finally just “Grisbain the Thirsty”. He has left his home to go adventuring, although no one is sure why.

Syndrael

Descent Characters: Syndrael

Syndrael

Hero Ability: If you have not moved this turn, you recover 2 Stamina at the end of your turn.

Heroic Feat: Use during your turn to choose a hero within 3 spaces of you. You and that hero may each immediately perform a move action. This is in addition to the 2 actions each hero receives on his turn.

Speed: 4
Health: 12
Stamina: 4
Defense: Grey

Willpower: 2
Might: 4
Knowledge: 3
Perception: 2

Story: Syndrael pledged her sword in the service of a High Elven family who, a mere century later, became exiled. Although Syndrael was not personally exiled with them, she was never welcomed back to her home. This led to her to believe in the innocence of her masters, and adventures to find them and an explanation for what went on.

Descent: Journeys In The Dark – Scout Characters

Jain Fairwood

Descent Characters: Jain Fairwood

Jain Fairwood

Hero Ability: When you suffer any amount of Health damage from an attack, you may choose to suffer some of all of that amount as Stamina instead. You cannot suffer Stamina in excess of your Stamina.

Heroic Feat: You may move double your Speed and perform an attack. This attack may be performed before, after, or during this movement.

Speed: 5
Health: 8
Stamina: 5
Defense: Grey

Willpower: 2
Might: 2
Knowledge: 3
Perception: 4

Story: Jain Fairwood was a soldier serving under Sir Garrick Whitmore, protecting the borderlands from raids and small wars that would break out. Her entire unit was killed, bar Jain, and she took to hiding, being hunted by the Uthuk. When she emerged, Jain was branded a deserter and she went back to the forest as a vigilante, protecting the people from the horrors that come their way. Essentially, she’s a little bit like Batman if Batman had served in the army.

Tomble Burrowell

Descent Characters: Tomble Burrowell

Tomble Burrowell

Hero Ability: If you are attacked while adjacent to at least one other hero, you may choose an adjacent hero and add the defense pool of that hero to your own.

Heroic Feat: Remove your figure from the map and place a hero token in your space. At the start of your next turn, place your figure in any empty space within 4 spaces of your hero token.

Speed: 4
Health: 8
Stamina: 5
Defense: Grey

Willpower: 3
Might: 1
Knowledge: 2
Perception: 5

Story: A gnome nomad, Tomble has traveled the roads of Terrinoth for years. He used to be a lighthearted fellow; however, when a horde of beastmen ravaged his tribe, Tomble had to harden up. Now he masks his pain with a barrage of quick wit and jokes, but, deep down, he is driven by anger and revenge.

Descent: Journeys In The Dark – Mage Characters

Leoric of the Book

Descent Characters: Leoric of the Book

Leoric of the Book

Hero Ability: Each monster within 3 spaces of you receives -1 Health Damage on all attack rolls (to a minimum of 1)

Heroic Feat: Perform an attack with a Magic weapon. This attack ignores range and targets each figure adjacent to you. 1 attack roll is made but each figure rolls defense dice separately.

Speed: 4
Health: 8
Stamina: 5
Defense: Grey

Willpower: 2
Might: 1
Knowledge: 5
Perception: 3

Story: Leoric of the Book used to be a professor at the University of Greyhaven, however, after one too many heated debates, he was invited to take an extended sabbatical. Wise, even beyond his lengthy years, Leoric has become an adventurer, traveling the lands and quoting from his books when he needs to. This scholarly approach to adventuring is why he earned the name “of the Book”.

Widow Tarha

Descent Characters: Widow Tarha

Widow Tarha

Hero Ability: Once per round, after you roll dice for an attack, you may reroll 1 attack or power die. You must keep the result.

Heroic Feat: Perform an attack. This attack affects 2 different monsters in your line of sight. 1 attack roll is made but each monster rolls defense dice separately. Both monsters are considered targets of your attack.

Speed: 4
Health: 10
Stamina: 4
Defense: Grey

Willpower: 3
Might: 2
Knowledge: 4
Perception: 2

Story: Widow Tarha used to have the idyllic life as a family-orc-woman-come-witch, however, as you may have guessed by her name, it didn’t remain that way for long. Her husband was murdered. When he was, Tarha’s magical abilities turned dark. She was exiled from her tribe, and faced the open road as the only journey she could take.

Descent: Journeys In The Dark – A Very Quick and Simple Character Analysis

It’s really interesting to look at the Descent: Journeys In The Dark characters for a few reasons. The first is that it makes sense, with seven essential statistics, for each character to be the best in the game at one of them – however, that isn’t the case.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 13.20.37

The above shows the base statistics of each character. As you can see, there are certain characters who are physically inclined towards one statistic or another, and so, thematically speaking, kick ass in one or two categories. Avric Albright, for example, is a righteous paladin-of-sorts, and so has the most Willpower. Grisban the Thirsty has the most health and the most might because he is heftiest of all the characters. He carries the most welly.

The graph becomes a little easier to interpret once we overlay conditional formatting to assign each box a colour from red to green.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 13.29.25.png

So, the greener the box, the better they are at that statistic. The redder the box, the worse they are. Finally, the browner a character the better balanced they are. What this means is that Widow Tarha, although not really excelling in anything, is probably the most balanced character.

Conclusion:

To be honest, with games like Descent, it all depends on the kind of character you want to play. Each character has its strengths, and there will undoubtedly be some form of analysis once we have managed to play a bit more. Each character has a couple of abilities that make them unique (the Tomble Heroic Feat is especially good), and each can form the basis of a strong party.

So, now over to you – who is your favourite character in Descent? If you’ve played it, then who have you played as? Who takes your fancy for your next game? Let me know in the comments below.

If you enjoyed reading this
you may also enjoy:
How Well Does Descent Capture The Spirit Of Dungeons and Dragons?

10 Comments »

  1. Descent is one of those games that I really do want to play, but the level of FFG-component overload is incredibly off-putting, so I’ve not gotten as far as even attempting to wade through the manual. (and I’ve got a ton of Descent expansions and extra characters and so forth, too!) Easier on my poor tired brain simply to paint miniatures and play videogames, where I don’t have to read the rules, learn the rules, understand the rules and then teach the rules to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know exactly what you mean. It also has one of the worst designed box inserts to ever grace the world of gaming. I love games and complex games at that, but…yeah…I completely get what you mean. Great idea, but not the best execution.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My boyfriend and I played Descent about a year ago. I played the good guys and had a team, Leoric, Jain, Syndrael and Ashrian. It was quite difficult in the beginning, especially as I didn’t know what were smart moves make in the beginning so my team would be stronger later on during the campaign. Needless to say I got beat lots of times (which made me cry… real tears I kid you not!)
    So overall I like the game, and the character design. I think it would be more fun to play it with more people. Not a bad game, a struggle in the beginning but if you play it with someone who knows it inside out it makes it a whole lot easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think games like Descent are always better with more people. I know what you mean about it being difficult to begin with but gets easier over time. Are you still playing it or have you finished now?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The basic campaign is free and you get some free additional scenarios. New scenarios and adventures can be bought and are not too expensive and with each expansion you also get a version of the campaign on the app via a redeem code as far as I recall. So overall a good deal in my opinion. Testing the app is free in any case if you already have the base game.

        Like

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