CMON Feature Friday: Dispatches From the Dark

I’m a pretty accomplished gamer, with years as both a hobbyist and professional. I’ve played just about every type of game under the sun, but there is one glaring blind spot for me, and that’s dungeon crawlers. I’ve role-played in the past, but I found there was a lot of time spent in taverns trying to figure out the next step, and invariably asking the wrong question and angering a gang of rangers or goblins or some such thing. When Massive Darkness came out, I was intrigued and excited to give a dungeon crawler a shot. 

For this week’s CMON Feature Friday, I’ll be relaying my first experience entering the tunnels below the Earth’s surface to do battle with the evil Darkness. As the campaign continues, I’ll bring more reports of the adventure. If you’re playing or planning on playing a Massive Darkness campaign, you may not want to read any further, as there may be some spoilers.

The first thing you need before heading into a dark tunnel filled with evil enemies is an adventuring party. Luckily, I was able to team up with some stalwart allies for this campaign. Shane, Jay, Owen, Dan M., and myself gathered at Dan L.’s place for our first steps into the dark. Dan L. had read the rules, and considering he’s a professional games teacher, he was the obvious choice to run us through them. 

We all chose our character, a class, and starting equipment while getting the rundown. I would be Whisper, a mysterious cloaked character with the special skill: Swift, which allowed me to move through the dungeon faster than anyone else. I eschewed the suggested class of Bloodmoon Nightrunner to instead become a Shadow Barbarian, because, dang if that doesn’t sound cool! Equipped with a long sword and leather armor that didn’t instill too much confidence, we were ready for what the Darkness had in store for us… or so we thought.

Being seasoned gamers, we decided to skip the tutorial mission and head right into the first Quest of the campaign: Scorched Earth. Our task was to make our way through a series of chambers and tunnels, recover two artifacts, and escape through a library zone. 

It seemed simple enough, and for the first few turns it was. We worked our way through the underground maze, opening doors and finding nothing behind them but treasure chests. Not that we were complaining. It was good to give our heroes a chance to gear up a bit before running into any baddies.

We were nearly halfway through the game board before our first opponent showed up. The bad news was that it was a roaming monster (one of the bigger enemies you’ll face) in the form of an Ogre Mage. The worse news was that, as the party closed in to do battle with that baddie, another roaming monster, the Abyssal Demon, appeared in-between us, splitting the party. 

Things went from a leisurely stroll through the dungeon, to an all-out fight for survival in no time. Our melee fighters charged the Ogre Mage and engaged him in hand-to-hand combat, while the more magical of our characters, Elias and Sibyl, bravely attacked the Abyssal Demon, and then just as bravely ran away out of his range. 

“Well, I’m going to chuck a plague javelin at the abyssal dude, I guess,” said Jay, which is the kind of comment you hear pretty regularly in a dungeon crawler, I was finding. 

After receiving a devastating blow from the Demon, and after charging in to face him with his character, Bjorn, Dan L. admitted, “I have regrets.”

We fought hard, but ultimately three of our party, Siegfried, Bjorn, and Sibyl fell to the Abyssal Demon, and we lost the Quest. 

Not to be deterred, we mustered our troops and prepared for another attempt at the Scorched Earth Quest. 

The second run was dramatically different from the first. We ran into a number of roving bands of dwarves and orcs early on. This was a perfect way for us to earn experience points and level up our characters. There was a certain irony in the joy it gave Dan M. for his Siegfried character (a Dwarf) to engage in battle with the band of Dwarves we came across. There’s a joke in there about dwarf on dwarf violence, but who has time for that? There are dungeons to explore!

This time, we made it quite a bit further, and looked to be closing in on the fourth and final dungeon tile, when we unleashed the lesser roaming monster, Liliarch. She is a snake-tailed, multi-armed terror and she was standing in our way of the exit. 

Again, our party was separated, with some of us taking on Liliarch, and the rest battling a mob or orc flayers and a mob of goblin warriors. It was not a good scene. We fought hard, but again we fell, with three members of the party, sadly passing away. 

That was all we had time for on our first night of dungeon crawling as a team. I can pretty confidently say that we had a great time together, despite getting our little, plastic butts handed to us. We lost twice, but had a lot of fun, and that’s the sign of a great game. I’m already looking forward to throwing on my Cloak of Shadows (a level 2 treasure I found) and returning to the depths for another session. I report back again with another Dispatch from the Dark!

Learn more about Massive Darkness here.

CMON Feature Friday: Dispatches From the Dark

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