Designer Journal: UnderQuest #2


Since the last time I wrote about UnderQuest a few things have changed, but I want to focus on the characters in the game that players will be hiring throughout the course of the game.


Here is the progression in design of the character tiles, with the one on the right being the newest.

Each player will start with three characters. These three will be statistically the same as those of other players, but each will have unique artwork, but no names. I want players to build stories for the characters themselves.

In the original design that I playtested, players rolled two six sided dice (2d6) when questing. Players would reveal one card at a time from the dungeon deck and decide when they wanted to stop. They would then roll two dice and modify their roll with any applicable special powers. Each dungeon card has a value and their sum must be met or exceeded by the players roll. If the player succeeds, they gain any and all treasure and rewards indicated on the dungeon cards. If they fail, they get nothing and are all injured. More on injuries later.

We had issues right away in that players could never get more then two or three cards revealed before busting. The mechanic is quite similar to that of blackjack. What we tried next was allowing for on die per character sent on the quest. This worked better, but two new issues arose.

  1. The randomness of rolling three or more dice became an issue. A player could roll four dice and score only four. Or they may roll a sum of twenty-four! The swing in this value was to unpredictable. I thought the bell curve of rolling multiple dice would help, but in the end the randomness was more than I could stand and I like luck-based games from time to time.
  2. Analysis paralysis also was seen as players tried to calculate both the probability of their potential rolls and their bonuses gained from their special powers. This level of uncertainty could be stressful.

I sneak peek at one of the dungeon cards.

The solution was to use static values for each character. Now starting characters each have a set value of three. There is no guessing and players can be busy planning their turn while waiting on others to finish theirs. One could easily predict their outcomes and only really had to consider their special powers and their modifiers.

So as it stands the game has twelve starting characters and sixteen more that can be hired by players and added to their guild for future questing. Each has a static value and  power. Some have two powers. Let’s take a look at the ten powers that characters may have one or more of.

  • Agility Bonus – Character gains +1 to rolls against dungeon cards that are prone to agility and they gain a bonus while gambling at the inn.
  • Brawn Bonus – Character gains +1 to rolls against dungeon cards that are prone to brawn and building additions cost one less gold.
  • Cunning Bonus – Character gains +1 to rolls against dungeon cards that are prone to cunning and hiring new characters from the inn cost one less gold.
  • Heal – If a group of characters fail while questing, the player may choose any one character and place them back in the guild hall uninjured.
  • + Gold – If a group of characters succeed while questing, you gain an additional gold.
  • + Market Item – If a group of characters succeed while questing, you gain the item with the lowest value in the market.
  • Random Value – This character rolls a single die for their value while questing. Fr those that do like a bit more randomness.
  • Restless – Character does not require a bed to rest and is available to use at the beginning of every turn unless they are injured. If injured they must be healed or wait a turn to be healed like other characters.
  • Vision – Once while questing, this character may look at the next card in the dungeon deck and choose to either reveal it or put it back.
  • Bonus VP – This character is worth extra victory points at the end of the game.

That is all I have for now. Next time I hope to discuss some of the things you can do in the Market and the Inn.

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