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Characters / Descent: Journeys in the Dark

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The characters in Descent: Journeys in the Dark.


Note: Although the players are free to mix and match individual heroes and their classes freely within the appropriate Archetype, most heroes' background descriptions make it clear which class they "canonically" belong to. For simplicity's sake, tropes concerning specific class abilities will be described in the corresponding hero's section.

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Grisban the Thirsty

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)
"Canonical" class: Berserker

A dwarf berserker known for his thirst of blood in battle.

  • The Alcoholic: Grisban loves his beer. In fact, his moniker is (among other things) an abbreviation of "the Beer-thirsty".
  • An Axe to Grind: Grisban's favored weapon is a greataxe, fitting his rough and dangerous personality.
  • The Berserker: In battle, Grisban flies into a terrifying rage.
  • Blood Knight: The other reading of his moniker is "the Bloodthirsty".
  • Counter-Attack: When a Berserker is attacked in melee, they can immediately retaliate out of turn at the cost one stamina.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: There are hints that there is a dark secret to why he left home to become a mercenary.
  • Dash Attack: The Charge ability lets a Berserker move up to their speed and attack as a single action.
  • Extra Turn: As his Heroic Feat, Grisban can carry out an extra attack in addition to the two regular actions on his turn.
  • Force and Finesse: The Force to Syndrael's Finesse.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Even his hero card lampshades the fact that his backstory is basically "Fantasy Dwarf 101".
  • Spin Attack: The Whirlwind ability lets a Berserker attack all adjacent enemies at once.


First appearance: Second Edition (base game)
"Canonical" class: Knight

An exiled elf knight.

  • Clear Their Name: Seeks to refute the accusations levied against her liege, which she believes to be false.
  • Dash Attack: The Advance ability lets a Knight move up to their speed and attack again after slaying a monster.
  • The Exile: After her liege, Lady Tyviel, was accused of treason, Syndrael refused to believe the accusers and went into exile with her.
  • Extra Turn: As her Heroic Feat, Syndrael gets an extra move action and grants one to an ally of her choice (out of turn).
  • Force and Finesse: The Finesse to Grisban's Force.
  • Lady of War: A graceful elven woman who fights with a sword and a shield.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: A Knight starts the game with a wooden shield that gives them an extra shield point once per turn. The Defense Training ability lets them enhance the benefits of a shield even further.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: A Knight's starting sword lets them force the enemy to reroll one of their defense dice.
  • Really 700 Years Old: An immortal elf, Syndrael looks young to a human eye but is actually well over a hundred years old.
  • Shield Bash: A Knight's ability of the same name lets them stun enemies with their shield as part of an attack.
  • Taking the Bullet: The Defend ability lets a Knight redirect an attack from an adjacent hero to themselves.
  • Undying Loyalty: Fiercely loyal to her liege.


Tomble Burrowell

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)
"Canonical" class: Thief

A risk-taking gnome thief.

  • Back Stab: The Sneaky ability increases the damage a Thief does to enemies who didn't have a line of sight to them at the start of the Thief's turn.
  • Combat Pragmatist: A Thief has several abilities that non-magically debuff the attacking enemies.
  • Discard and Draw: After drawing a search (treasure) card, a Thief with the Appraisal ability can discard it and draw another one.
  • Extra Turn: The Bushwhack ability lets a Thief attack the only monster in their line of sight as a free action, effectively giving them an extra attack.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: In-story, Tomble is described as a man of many talents.
  • Knife Nut: His preferred weapon is a dagger.
  • Last of His Kind: Tomble's clan has been recently wiped out by beastmen.
  • Lovable Rogue: Tomble is one charismatic thief.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: The starter gear trinket Lucky Charm lets a Thief reroll one attribute check per turn.
  • Older Than They Look: Gnomes are long-lived, so Tomble is actually much older than most people assume.
  • Wandering Minstrel: Described as such by his character card.

Jain Fairwood

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)
"Canonical" class: Wildlander

A wildlander who had been deemed a traitor by Terrinoth.

  • Archer Archetype: A taciturn but just archer lady.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: She is still bitter about being unfairly branded a deserter but keeps saving lives of the very people who misjudged her.
  • Forest Ranger: Jain retreated to the forests after being shunned by the human society.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: The Accurate ability lets a Wildlander reroll one power die when attacking with a bow.
  • Sole Survivor: After the Dragon Wars, she was the only member of Sir Garrick's company who survived the Uthuk ambush.


Avric Albright

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)
"Canonical" class: Disciple

A former soldier who became a war cleric to help those around him.

  • Area of Effect: The Radiant Light heals all allies and and harms all enemies within line of sight of the Disciple at once.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: The main reason why Avric hasn't joined some order yet is that The Call keeps diverting him from doing so.
  • Combat Medic: Avric's special power restores hit points to allies around him and lets them convert surges from their own attacks to hit points. The Disciple class also has the Blessed Strike ability that converts their surges into healing for a nearby ally.
  • Healing Hands: The ability Prayer of Healing lets a Disciple heal an adjacent hero as a free action once per turn.
  • Religious Bruiser: Avric wanted to become Badass Preacher but never got a chance to join an order because he is too busy kicking evil's ass.
  • Status Buff: The Divine Fury ability buffs an ally healed by the Disciple to do more damage on their next attack, while the Armor of Faith gives them an extra defense die.


First appearance: Second Edition (base game)
"Canonical" class: Spiritspeaker

An elvish shaman from the Whispering Forest.

  • Area of Effect: The Tempest ability of a Spiritspeaker harms all monsters in the vicinity and, at the same time, heals all allies.
  • Combat Medic: The Drain Spirit ability lets a Spiritspeaker heal all heroes in the vicinity as a side effect of damaging enemies, while Vigor lets them convert their surges into healing for the entire party.
  • Cunning Linguist: Speaks well over a dozen languages fluently.
  • The Drifter: This is implied to be Ashrian's modus operandi: she arrives to a new land, learns the language, fights evil, then eventually moves on to parts unknown.
  • Mysterious Past: No one quite knows where she came from and she is definitely not telling.
  • Nature Hero: She hangs out in forests, communing with spirits and mixing herbs. Most Spiritspeaker class abilities are also nature-themed.


First appearance: Labyrinth of Ruin

A peaceful Sudanyan priestess first introduced as an Ally in the Labyrinth of Ruin expansion.

  • Breakout Character: Introduced as an Ally but became so popular, she was promoted to playable hero.
  • Cute Mute: She is not actually mute, but she talks so little, she could just as well be. Her official sobriquet is "Silent Protector".
  • Evil Costume Switch: If corrupted, she switches from mostly light blue clothes to black and red. Interestingly, her villainous costume is actually less skimpy than the heroic one and contains more armoring (though it still reveals a lot of skin).
  • Heel–Face Turn: Under certain conditions in the Labyrinth of Ruin campaign, the Overlord can corrupt her into a Lieutenant.
  • Ideal Illness Immunity: As a Lieutenant, she is immune to disease (and curses).
  • Promoted to Playable: With the Serena Lieutenant Pack, she can be played as a hero in all campaigns except Labyrinth of Ruin.
  • Redemption Demotion: As a Lieutenant, Serena has slightly better overall stats than her heroic version.
  • Walking Wasteland: As a Lieutenant, Serena can spread curses and disease with her attacks.
  • White Mage: As a hero, Serena specializes in healing and buffing her allies, but is less effective in direct combat because of her weak defenses.


Leoric of the Book

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)
"Canonical" class: Runemaster

A scholarly wizard seeking long-forgotten knowledge.

  • Area of Effect: The Runemaster ability Exploding Rune lets them convert an attack with a Rune weapons into a Blast, hitting all squares adjacent to the target (and the Inscribe Rune ability lets them treat all weapons as Runic). Also, Break the Rune damages all creatures (even allies!) within the line of sight.
  • Badass Bookworm: Was a professor at the University of Greyhaven before falling out with the management and getting sent on an indefinite sabbatical.
  • Cool Old Guy: While not the oldest hero, he is physically venerable—and yet more than capable of pulling his weight in the party.
  • Magic Knight: The Runemaster is the only class who can combine heavy armor with Rune weapons and Leoric's special hero ability in particular makes him suited to fight if not in the front row, then at least in the second one.
  • The Professor: His sobriquet is a consequence of his tendency to quote his books in the heat of battle.
  • Spin Attack: His Heroic Feat lets him hit every enemy within three squares with a magical weapon.

Widow Tarha

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)
"Canonical" class: Necromancer

An orc necromancer who practices the dark arts.

  • Animate Dead: The Necromancer's starting ability lets them summon a skeleton familiar named Reanimate (see below). Also, Dying Command lets them immediately raise the monster they or Reanimate just killed to make them move and attack another monster once.
  • Crusading Widow: Her husband was killed by soldiers who didn't bother to check whether the orcs in question were law-abiding citizens.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Tarha uses dark necromantic powers to fight oppressors of the common folk.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Tarha's special ability lets her reroll one attack die per round.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: A scholarly freedom fighter from a race commonly seen as savage invaders.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The Necromancer's Army of Death ability invokes this, being an attack that uses the Reanimate's stats but targets all enemies within the Necromancer's line of sight.



First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

The Necromancer class' familiar, who can be summoned with the Necromancer's starting ability and is treated as a figure.

  • Butt-Monkey: The Corpse Blast ability lets the Necromancer sacrifice the Reanimate to damage all enemies around it. Since it is a cheap ability and the Reanimate can be summoned right back again, this tends to happen to it a lot.
  • Dem Bones: Essentially a walking, armored skeleton.
  • Extra Turn: The Fury of Undeath attribute lets the Necromancer convert one of their actions into a full extra turn for the Reanimate (on top of their regular activation).
  • Shared Life Meter: With the Dark Pact ability, the Necromancer can redirect damage they take to the Reanimate and vice versa.



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    The Overlord 

The Overlord

The main villain of game who is never seen in person—at least, in the normal and Epic play; individual campaigns can equate him with one of the Lieutenants.

  • Evil Overlord: The Overlord player is the main villain of the story.
  • The Ghost: The heroes keep hearing about the Overlord from his minions but never quite encounter him in person.
  • Non-Entity General: Despite commanding vast armies of minions, the Overlord has no personal presence on the battlefield.
  • Game Master: Downplayed. The Overlord player controls all the monsters and traps in the dungeon but still obeys the rules just like the hero players and unlike a traditional RPG GM who can change any setting detail on the fly.



First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

The incumbent goblin king by the virtue of being the biggest goblin around.

  • Adipose Rex: Technically, he is the king by the "virtue" of being the fattest goblin around.
  • Dirty Coward: Whenever Splig is attacked, he rolls dice to redirect the attack to another monster next to him.
  • Field Promotion: Can upgrade a nearby minion to a master monster as an action (but only in Act II).
  • Knockback: Can use a surge to propel a hero three squares away from it with No Saving Throw.
  • Large and in Charge: Goblin society functions this way: the largest goblin is the king.

Alric Farrow

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

Lord Merick's brother, Alric was killed fighting for his ideals but brought back by dark magics of the Overlord.

  • Black Knight: An evil knight in the service of the Overlord.
  • Fallen Hero: In more ways than one: Alric actually did die a hero and saw himself become a villain.
  • Mighty Glacier: Alric hits like a truck and has a ton of HP, but cannot move quickly even when his unlife depends on it.
  • Regenerating Health: In Act II, Alric heals a small amount every round.
  • Revenant Zombie: A fallen hero brought back from the dead with dark magic to serve the Overlord.
  • Tin Tyrant: Wears a full set of very menacing plate armor.

Merick Farrow

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

Once an upstanding lord, Merick delved into dark arts, seeking to resurrect his dead bother, Alric, and was corrupted by the Overlord.

Eliza Farrow

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

Merick's beautiful wife and secretly a vampire.

  • Dragon Ascendant: Eliza is one of the Lieutenants in the Shadow Rune campaign but becomes the Overlord in Heirs of Blood.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Eliza's Seduce ability works equally well on male and female heroes.
  • Horror Hunger: Like all vampires, Eliza is driven by her hunger for blood.
  • Life Drain: Her special abilities let her drain others' hit points to restore her own.
  • The Vamp: Can use seduction to manipulate the heroes.
  • Our Banshees Are Louder: Although she is a vampire, she has the banshee-like Wail ability.
  • Unholy Matrimony: With Merick.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: The only villain the game to weaponize her sexuality is a vampire.
  • Wicked Cultured: A dignified and solf-spoken lady who is also an evil vampire sorceress.


First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

A half-dragon mercenary currently serving the Overlord.

  • Draconic Humanoid: Has a generally humanoid body, but with dragon head, wings, and tail.
  • Graceful Loser: When the heroes manage to defeat him, he acknowledges having underestimated them and courteously bows out.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Half-dragons are rare, but he's been around since the Dragon Wars.
  • Noble Demon: In his first encounter with the heroes, he explains that really has no quarrel with them and attempts to prevent them from interfering non-lethally. After that, he is more annoyed than angered by their involvement.
  • Poisonous Person: Can use surges to poison the heroes.
  • Sinister Scythe: As if he weren't scary enough, he wields a scythe as his favored weapon.
  • Winged Humanoid: His wings actually let him fly—i.e. ignore obstacles and enemy figures while moving.

Baron Zachareth

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

The ruler of the Carthridge barony.

  • Beard of Evil: He has a goatee and a Dastardly Whiplash—how would someone not immediately recognize him as a villain is anyone's guess.
  • Big Bad: Of The Shadow Rune campaign.
  • Compelling Voice: Zachareth can order any hero to move two squares as an action.
  • Interface Spoiler: That he has a Lieutenant marker kinda gives away the fact that he is a major villain long before it's revealed in-story.
  • Narrator All Along: In The Shadow Rune campaign's Intermezzo, he is revealed to have been the Overlord the entire time.


Goblin Archer

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

  • Dirty Coward: Goblins are so cowardly, they can't even use surges unless there is a master monster or Lieutenant within three squares to muster them.
  • Fragile Speedster: Goblins have very low health but a lot of moves and can even pass through fields occupied by the heroes.
  • The Goomba: The minion version is the weakest of all enemies in the base game.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Goblins in Descent are small yet mean creatures who prefer to gang up on their enemies.


First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

  • Grapple Move: The master version's Special Attack is to grab onto a nearby hero, immobilizing them for the next turn.
  • Mighty Glacier: Zombies have a lot of HP (especially the master version) for a starting enemy, but can only take one move action per turn.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Zombies in Descent are either necromantic minions, or byproducts of dark magic. They are slow-moving and spread diseases.
  • Plaguemaster: Anyone attacked by a zombie risks contracting disease.

Cave Spider

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)


First appearance: Second Edition (base game)


First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Mauler, the named ettin fought in the "First Blood" scenario, has two HP more than the standard ettin but killing him doesn't require advanced tactics.
  • Degraded Boss: The first ettin you fight in The Shadow Rune campaign is Mauler, the boss of the "First Blood" scenario, but after that, ettins become regular enemies like everyone else.
  • Giant Mook: The minion ettin has no special abilities except its giant size (four fields) and reach.
  • Grapple Move: The master ettin can pick up a hero and hurl them three fields in any direction.
  • Multiple Head Case: Ettins are two-headed giants whose heads can never agree on anything.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The term "ettin" is a cognate of the Old Norse Jötunn, so ettins in this game are appropriately twice as big as humans and have extra long weapon reach to show for it.

Flesh Moulder

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

  • Combat Medic: The master version can heal allied monsters within three fields.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Flesh Moulders research the human body and how to better use it but the results are... not pretty.
  • Heal Thyself: Can use surges to restore hit points.


First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

  • Area of Effect: Most of the elemental's powers attack everyone around it.
  • Elemental Powers: The elementals in Descent are comprised of all four elements at once and are therefore explosively dangerous.
  • Playing with Fire: The Fire attack deals damage to all adjacent creatures—both heroes and monsters.


First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

  • Angels, Devils and Squid: So Descent has goblins, zombies, giants, dragons... and this thing: a giant walking fish with extra mouth-stalks on its head. Seriously?
  • Kaiju: It's not quite as big, but how else would you describe a humanoid with a fish tail, spiked spine, giant mouth, and a pair of head tentacles with more mouths on them?
  • Too Many Mouths: In addition to its main mouth, the merriod has a Lamprey Mouth on each of its head "tentacles". Oh, and it can attack two heroes independently with them.

Shadow Dragon

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

  • Breath Weapon: The master dragon can use a surge to supplement a regular attack with a breath of fire that hits four fields in a straight line.
  • Casting a Shadow: These dragons learned to control shadows and cannot even be hurt in melee unless the hero takes Fatigue.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Most dragons in Descent were apparently killed during the Dragon Wars, but some survived by using shadow magic to hide away. The Shadow Dragons are these survivors.


Non-player characters


Baron Greigory

The ruler of the barony of Rhynn in Terrinoth.

  • Big Good: Of The Shadow Rune campaign.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He immediately connects the facts that a man murdered on the outskirts of Arhynn was a former Shadow Binder and sends the heroes to check up on the rest of the group—which potentially saves their lives.

Shadow Binders

First appearance: Second Edition (base game)

A Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who ended the Dragon Wars three dozen years ago by sealing away the mightiest of dragons, Gryvorn.

  • Player Party: Five adventurers who stopped evil decades ago and can be seen as the precursors to the new party of heroes.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Subverted. Even though Frederick is eager to get back into action (should the heroes save him), other ex-Shadow Binders are much less so, and Pellin is dead, either way.
  • Retired Badass in Distress: When the new heroes meet most of them in The Shadow Rune campaign, they have long settled down and have to be saved from the Overlord's minions now coming after them.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Weirdly, Act I of The Shadow Rune campaign serves as this for them, even though we don't actually get to see their "main" story: Viceroy Pellin was killed by Mauler, Frederick went back to his farm, Koth rose through the church ranks to become a Cardinal, while both Palamon and Theodir became respected lords.