Cardboard Children: Descent Quest Vault

Hello youse.

With so many board games out there right now, and so many of them supported with expansions, player-created content is becoming a bit of a dying art. Certainly, when I was young, it was a given that you would only enjoy the contents of a box for so long before you started stuffing it full of your own scrawlings and game-breaking ideas. I expect you would struggle to find a second-hand copy of HeroQuest that hasn’t been amended or “enhanced” by a previous owner. These days we make less of our own shit. Maybe we just have less time.

This is an exciting development. Come take a look.


Fantasy Flight Games just flung this up a couple of days ago. It’s in Open Beta right now, so there’s the occasional glitch and I imagine the UI will be refined as the months go by, but holy shit if it isn’t an exciting bit of kit already.

It’s a Descent adventure builder. It’s ridiculously easy to use. It formats everything into the recognised adventure format from the published games. And it’s free.

Yeah – free. At first, when I logged in and started playing, I just assumed that the Open Beta was for everyone to use and then they’d charge when the thing was final. But then I re-read the blurb on the actual site.

“Fantasy Flight Games is pleased to announce the open beta of the Descent Quest Vault, a totally free online tool for Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition that allows you to create your own epic Descent quests, then share them in a worldwide library of user-generated content.”

I mean, that’s pretty clear. This thing is free. And so we’re being encouraged to make all our own stuff again, and share it with everyone else. Let’s be straight here – Fantasy Flight Games just gave us a free ever-expanding expansion that allows us to make the Descent games we’ve dreamed of making. It’s so customisable that individual adventures could easily contain rule amendments and even introduce new mechanics.

I’ve already started making my first adventure. It’s called “The Mourning Hour” and will be about a group of adventurers grieving for a dead friend. I’ve always been interested in adventures that feel like they take place in the downtime between the type of adventures we more commonly see. I’m thinking about how I might best incorporate a “grief” element into the little encounter that will take place in this graveyard. I might ask for willpower checks at regualr intervals, as the heroes try to keep their emotions under control. I might even have the memory of the dead friend physically represented on the map as the encounter unfolds. I don’t know yet. I can do anything, so I’ll try anything and see what works.

I’ve started putting the map together, as you can see. Before any of this gets finalised, I’ll get the game out and play around with the physical pieces to make sure it works. The builder works beautifully for just drafting out an idea, though. You can edit and re-edit until you’re satisfied – it’s not until you publish the quest that other players will see it. From the screen in the picture above you can construct the map, adding objectives and monsters, simply by clicking and dragging. You can add info to elements of the map with a right-click. It’s all completely intuitive and hassle-free. Before you build a quest you tell the builder which game components you own, and only those will be displayed. If you’re lucky enough to have a big collection of Descent’s First Edition and also have the Second Edition Conversion Kit, you’ll have a massive amount of monsters to click and drag into your story.

But I think the page above will be the meat of the whole thing – particularly the “Special Rules” tab. I’m hoping that people really push themselves here. Sure, give us some nice flavour text, and give us some well-balanced battles, but introduce some exciting new elements too. Like – why not have a Jenga tower beside the map board, and have the players pull a block every time a monster successfully attacks some structure they were tasked to defend? I dunno. That might be terrible. I just hope people try out some interesting ideas. After all, most games are just a bundle of components and a few pages of text explaining how to use them. We’ve just been given some blank pages – we can mod this game like crazy now.

Here’s a video Fantasy Flight released to explain how the whole thing works. If you have Descent Second Edition there is NO REASON not to get involved in this. There are also a couple of new official adventures up there already, so go check it out and pick up your freebies at the very least.


Next week will be a photo special, as I take a look at beautiful boards in board games. I’ll show you pics of some of my favourite boards, and we’ll have a think about what makes a board beautiful. I will also recommend a game for you to buy. I mean, this column didn’t encourage you to spend even one penny today, and that’s unacceptable.

Stay dicey! (I’m bringing this back for 2013.)


  1. AshEnke says:

    Well it encouraged me to buy Descent.

    • Richie Shoemaker says:

      I bought Descent for my wife for Christmas (which is to say I bought it for myself). We haven’t delved into it properly yet, but this seems as good an excuse as any to burn through the standard scenarios in the box.

      • Asherie says:

        If i were your wife I’d be so pissed at you for pulling that cliche gift trick. Then I’d demand you play a game of Descent right that instant to make up for it.

      • Garmr says:

        Did the same with Elder signs, worked like a charm. My first thought was to buy Descent but decided on a simpler game to begin with, seems I will have to correct this error of mine; Descent will be my next purchase.

    • AmateurScience says:

      Me too! Rab has clearly become so proficient at pushing cardboard that he barely even registers the fact that he’s doing it now.

    • cfisher2833 says:


  2. mrwout says:

    Hmmm this might convince me to finally get Descent…

  3. JB says:

    Yeah, my copy of HeroQuest is full of odd miniatures and custom quests =)

    Also, the postman just delivered my copy of Sentinels of the Multiverse so I’m away to read the rulebook! Huzzah!

  4. Snidesworth says:

    My lot are still forging through the main campaign (and defeating me at every turn), but this sounds rather promising. Is it just for designing stand alone quests, or is there built in campaign design functionality as well?

  5. Gothnak says:

    I have the base set and 4 add-ons of Descent 1st edition i’m looking to sell if anyone is interested and lives near Guildford. (It’s a bit too heavy to post really)

    Just doesn’t get played enough, and we need the room in the house, is an awesome game though.

    • ragados says:

      Gothnak – I’d be interested. what do you have?

      • Gothnak says:

        Descent Base Set, Altar Of Despair, Road To Legend (The Campaign One), Tomb Of Ice & Well of Darkness.

        Plus a bunch of printed extras, addendums and stuff and some extra plastic boxes to store the hundreds of pieces in…

        However, they are all spread amongst the boxes (e.g. all figures in one box) so splitting the lot may be tricky.

        Am on boardgamegeek with the same ID if you want to natter on there?

  6. guygodbois00 says:

    Thank you, Mr. Florence. “You are a beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak and dreary world!”.
    A well suited quote, methinks.

  7. Cunzy1 1 says:

    Guiltily looking forward to beautiful boards. Don’t tell anyone though.

  8. Seboss says:

    If I were that kind of snarky grumpy internet guy, I’d say it won’t be too hard to come up with better scenarii than those from the official campaign.

  9. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I’m finding it harder and harder to resist this grown-up Hero Quest.

  10. arioch says:

    We still play descent mk.1 and absolutely love it… I wonder if this would be any good for designing missions for the first edition still…

    Pretty cool of them anyway.

  11. Groove says:

    I remember remixing games, but I also remember a lot of games being RUBBISH. If a game was terrible then the ‘obvious fix’ would be that much more blatant, since by playing it a few times you’d have put in more playtesting than the designers.

    I also remember being EIGHT and changing games to involve firing missiles at friends or to involve building a large castle then knocking the seven hells out of it. They weren’t going to improve the delicate design of the game, but it was great at the time.

    A personal favourite was re-purposing lego into a dualing game. Each of you got a rectangular base, built it into a castle/battering ram with one guy inside it, then slammed them into each other until the opponent’s guy fell out. It lead to some interesting construction techniques and lots of debates about where best to put your guy in the death-box. And a lot of smashed fingers, obviously.

  12. repairmanjack says:

    I’ve become a sucker for beautiful boards… still think one of my favourites is Fury of Dracula. I played my first game of The Road to Canterbury this morning. Sure, the game might not come out to play with the frequency of some of our others, but it’s utterly gorgeous. It deserves to become a collector’s item. Even the box feels and looks nicer than most FFG components. Also unpacked Gears of War last night. More gorgeousness.

  13. repairmanjack says:

    And… we’re picking up Claustrophobia this week. Does it make Descent obsolete if we’re mainly playing with two?

  14. Noc says:

    Haha! Sure is some noodle-arm right there in that picture. (I guess the game looks interesting too.)

  15. MartinNr5 says:

    I still think that “Let’s roll!” is a better catchphrase.

  16. jeanjoan421 says:

    Ella. if you think Jeffrey`s postlng is super, on saturday I got a new Mazda from earning $9330 this past month and also 10 grand this past-munth. it’s actualy the most comfortable work Ive ever done. I began this eight months/ago and immediately was bringin home at least $74 per-hr. I work through this link,

  17. BooleanBob says:

    Very cool move on Fantasy Flight’s part. Now, if only they’d do one for Mansions of Madness..

  18. dontnormally says:

    The link seems to be broken.
    Or the site down.

    • Shadram says:

      The site’s been flakey since it went live, or at least the register/log in part. It’s worth persevering with though, it all works well once you’re in.

  19. Shadram says:

    I absolutely love Descent 2.0. We’re nearing the end of our first play-through of the standard campaign, and I just got the expansion last week, so looking forward to slotting that in.

    I’ve had a quick play with the editor, but can’t wait to get some free time to be able to try building a scenario. There’s just the right balance between existing rules and the freedom to do whatever you want in the game to make the possibilities of what you could do really exciting.