A brand-new feature for Maladum is an intricate branching campaign, playable solo or co-operatively. As you play through each part of the story, every decision you make and every objective you complete (or not!) will have a knock-on effect to your route across Enveron and the ultimate fate of your party. Let’s find out more.
Whatever you thought you knew about our game scenarios, leave those thoughts behind. This is a complete overhaul, and the finished result is something we’re immensely proud of and can’t wait to see you enjoy.
The “Dungeons of Enveron” campaign consists of 20 quests, or 21 if you count the replayable introductory scenario found in the rules download. The actual number of quests you play as you complete the campaign will vary, depending on your achievements and your choices as the story progresses. These twisting paths, combined with the sheer amount of variability already present in the game mechanics, will allow you to play the campaign through multiple times and have a very different experience each time.
Once you have gathered your party your adventure starts, as many adventures do, with some innocent treasure hunting. The Antiquities Guild believe the local caves could be a trove of ancient relics, and have offered a hefty reward to acquire some precious trinkets for their collection.
Of course, it won’t take long before you find yourselves under attack by strange creatures. These horrors are unlike any you have faced before and the thought of the danger they pose proves too much for your conscience, so you take it upon yourselves to investigate further. The subsequent quests detail the locations you explore, the shocking things you discover, and your fight to survive against it all, culminating in a final showdown with the Malagaunt himself. I’m not going to go into more detail because… well… SPOILERS!, but I have gone through some key points about how it will all come together.
How it Works
- Each and every quest has multiple objectives, all of which have a impact on the story. The importance assigned to even the seemingly minor parts of the game fully immerses you in the narrative, and makes your tactical gameplay choices all the more significant. Completing some objectives will offer Achievements (see the Campaign Log below) that have long-term effects. Some will open up choices for the next game. Some will offer rare equipment that will give you an advantage later on. All of them matter.
- There are multiple routes through the story. It starts and ends in the same place, and the paths converge a couple of times in the middle, so there are certain locations you will always visit and objectives you must always at least attempt to complete. However, the routes in between those points will change, and the achievements you’ve made in between will influence how those quests are played.
- Some of the routes are down to player choice, with options offered to you at the end of a quest. For example, at one point in the story you must visit a neighbouring city. You have discovered some subterranean tunnels, and you must decide whether to approach the city from underground or by road. Each of these options offers you a different quest to play and will have different effects when (or if…) you arrive in the city.
- Other routes are forced upon you. Completing a particular objective might send you in one way, while failing it will send you another way. Don’t worry though, the campaign has been planned so this doesn’t disadvantage you long-term. Even the seemingly worse paths have their own rewards to be found, and these rewards are things you could never have found had you gone the other way. All routes through the story have their own advantages to offer.
- Some routes are optional. For example, meeting a particular NPC on your travels could unlock a quest unrelated to the main storyline. There will of course be benefits to helping that character and completing the task, but you may waste valuable time (see Delays below) so that’s just one of many choices you will have to make.
- At one point in the story, there are routes offered that are all of the above. You go on a quest to gather more information about the Malagaunt, and the scenario map contains multiple objectives. Each one found will unlock a new lead for you to investigate, with up to three different subsequent quests. You must make the call as to which is the most pressing lead to follow up first. It’s possible you may have time to follow up more than one lead before progressing the story, but it’s a risk. You can even choose to investigate none of them and make up for lost time, but bear in mind that whichever leads you don’t investigate will have consequences later.
- This one is worthy of an example. SPOILER ALERT! One of the objectives hints that the Malagaunt is attempting to corrupt another maladaar to his cause. If you follow up this lead, intervene, and save the maladaar, you can learn from their experiences and they may even join your party for the later battles. If you don’t investigate, or you fail to save the maladaar, they will join the Malagaunt and will become a ‘mini-boss’ that must be defeated later in the story.
- The story always continues, regardless of the objectives you complete. Generally, failing a task will leave you at a disadvantage later, but nothing will be impossible. Most importantly, you will never be faced with the immersion-breaking frustration of having to rewind and replay any part of the story.
- With the exception of the first quest, the objectives are nothing to do with money – they are all about progressing the story. The introductory scenario is a smash and grab looting mission already – trying to dress that up in a different way multiple times would become repetitive, so we’ve really focused on keeping these varied. Your stash of Guilders (the game’s currency) is still important though. You still need to pay your party members, buy more gear, and ideally have somewhere to sleep! The Search mechanics are an integral part of the game, and without financial incentives from the quest objectives they are now your only method of gaining cash. This makes Searching a secondary objective in itself in every quest.
- Expansion storylines (watch this space) will be designed in exactly the same way. They will be written so they can be played as standalone campaigns, but can also follow on directly from the Dungeons of Enveron campaign, carrying through some of your Rewards (see the Campaign Log section).
- The whole campaign is backed up by the extensive lore we’ve put in place. For an overview, click HERE. The storyline will be tied to locations on the map, and each quest will feature a narrative introduction explaining where you are, why and how it all ties together.
Writing this has felt like I’m in a crime drama – I need one of those noticeboards with lots of coloured string just so I can keep track of how all the objectives intertwine! Of course, you won’t see any of that complexity – your path through the story has been distilled down into simple instructions, and the Campaign Log (see below) keeps track of your progress. The whole campaign has been designed within the framework of the core rules, so it adds the narrative on top without complicating the game.
One of the Reference Cards included in the game is your Campaign Log. This card can be kept with your character boards and keeps track of the unique Achievements and Rewards earned by your party as you progress through the story.
Achievements are the objectives you have completed and are usually marked between games. Some may simply be ticked off, while others will have variable results, such as a number of enemies defeated, items found, or locations visited. Throughout the story, the quest briefings will refer to these Achievements. For example, if you completed a certain objective it may offer an alternative starting position in a later quest. Some Achievements may directly influence the next game, while others might not apply until much later, and you won’t always realise their importance at the time. For example, doing a favour for an NPC in the second quest might mean they can vouch for you and get you out of trouble ten quests later!
Rewards are gameplay bonuses that you have earned, and it’s this side of the card you’ll have face up during play for reference. Rewards could be triggered by Achievements, or by finding certain items. For example, you may meet a scholar on your travels, and if you are able to hand over some information you’ve discovered (marked by having the appropriate Achievement) the scholar would use this to tell you how to defeat a certain enemy (represented by a Reward allowing you to re-roll certain dice against certain opponents).
The final part of the Campaign Log is the Delay Track. Any time you waste on your journey will increase this track and allow the Malagaunt to progress their plans. Delays will be added if you take too long to complete a quest, or if you play quests that are not part of the main story. You can reduce the Delay track by completing quests more quickly, but rushing through them will probably mean missing out on some objectives!
Delays have multiple effects. At a basic level, the starting Dread in each quest is increased by the value on the Delay Track. Beyond that, some quests will have specific rules based on the Delay. It could have gotten too dark, and the quest will follow the Darkness rules, or maybe a ritual that you’ve come to stop is already partially complete by the time you get there! In some cases, if you run out of time certain missions can’t be attempted at all.
Integration with Other Rules
We’ve extensively covered the huge amount of variability within the game – character choices, Event Cards, NPCs, equipment, etc, and you’ll be happy to hear that this all fully integrates with the campaign.
Even beyond the starter set, the stretch goals we’re unlocking for the game can all be used, widening the cast of Adventurers you can hire, the NPCs you might meet, and the Wandering Beasts you might face.
Even the awesome new Side Quest mechanics can be used alongside the campaign, giving you yet more objectives to juggle! The rewards will be useful, but will completing them be worth the risk of a Delay?
All of these elements can be mixed and matched as you wish, adding layers of variable gameplay over and above the already extensive campaign story.
We hope this all sounds as exciting to you as it does to us. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
The Battle Systems Team