DARKHOLDS - the game of dungeon quests, exploration and combat!
Coming to Kickstarter in early August 2017!
Darkholds is a co-operative board game of combat and adventure in which you and your friends will play the part of heroes and henchmen that battle against the hordes of undeath to gain the ultimate prize - the secret of life after death!
Set in the lands of darkness - the brutal, uncivilised world of dark ages Britain in the 7th century AD - Darkholds is a board game containing miniatures, tiles, counters and cards to enable 1-4 players to control legendary heroes and their henchmen as they explore the caverns, barrows and halls of the undead Wihts.
The game can be played as a story campaign comprising ten levels of varying design and aspect in three areas, beginning in the caverns and natural gorges near the coast (area 1, levels 1-3), then exploring the catacombs and barrows of the undead (area 2, levels 4-6) and eventually fighting through the halls of the ancients (area 3, levels 7-9) to gain the secret of undeath (the quest's end, level 10); but each level can of course be played on its own. You can even choose to play each area - three levels - as a mini-campaign! Players need not worry about the experience of their heroes or henchmen if they play later levels, either, for the skills and abilities of the adventurers are tied to the levels themselves.
If Darkholds is played as a campaign, players can purchase certain types of mundane equipment or hire henchmen in between levels - effectively meaning heroes have a retinue they can bring with them to the next level!
To succeed in their quest for eternal life players must overcome a horde of enemies trying to stop their heroes, gathering treasure, ancient artefacts and sorcerous weapons or armour to help them along the way. The Wihts, scampering grave spiders and huge, terrifying mound beetles, ancient Gāsta and shrieking Drēaguth all wish to deny the secrets of the Jutes to the outsiders, and they will do anything - including the destruction of their own halls and tombs - to stop them.
Players must also understand that - whilst the game is co-operative - there will also be an element of selfishness to how each player plays the game, for each hero has his own secret quest and must succeed in it if he is to progress through Darkholds successfully...
Darkholds players can choose to play any of the five heroes included in the game, all of whom are very different to each other. Depending on how many players there are, each player could control up to five heroes on their own!
You could choose to play Penda the Bloody-Handed, a ferocious, skilful werwulf from Mierce; Nerys, an abbess of the Brythoniaid who abhors the blasphemous undead and can heal the adventurers; Carrowek of Carn Dhu, a heavily muscled fighter of immense strength from Kernow; Sáthach, a highly skilled Irish rogue that kills her enemies with twin swords or throwing daggers; and Gnith, a powerful sorcerer from the mountains of Alba.
There will also be a hero exclusive to backers of the Kickstarter project - Morag of Mann, an adaptable sell-sword able to fight her way through the tombs with axe, harpoon or spell! Backing the Darkholds project is the only way you will be able to purchase her.
As well as the heroes, players will be able to hire - or possibly rescue! - henchmen from the lands of darkness. Carrowek will bring fellow fighters, Ax-Drunes, to fight for him. Penda will bring Gesithas, elite spearmen from his lands. Nerys brings black monks called Mynach Du to protect and fight with her fellow heroes. Gnith will bring crossbowmen known as Elbharud to defend him from the attentions of his enemies, and Sáthach will be fighting alongside Fiannagh, warriors of Danu from Ireland; and Morag may choose any henchman to adventure with her.
As the project continues there will be hero and henchman expansion packs, so you can bring your favourite nobles from the lands of darkness - such as Daarkan of the Fomoraic, or Knútr of the Norse - to adventure with you!
Throughout each level will be various bits of treasure, some artefacts or discarded weaons or armour that players can find and pick up, collectively known as equipment. Enemies, when killed, may even drop equipment!
Each equipment marker found on a level enables a player to reveal an equipment card. This could be simple hacksilver or jewels - gold, in effect - to purchase equipment or hire henchmen with in between levels; an ancient artefact such as an amulet that heroes can use to increase their abilities, a torc to protect themselves or even an invocation to destroy their enemies with; a weapon such as a sorcerous axe that may be more powerful than their own, or can be used in addition to theirs such as a bow; or armour such as a helmet or a shield that could increase their protection and enable them to progress through a level without harm.
Each equipment card also has a gold value, signifying its worth when sold, so even the most mundane item could prove useful when trading in between levels. Bear in mind there's a limit to how much a hero or a henchman can carry, however!
The enemies of the heroes will appear very quickly in each level. At the end of each turn, enemies will generate from entry points if heroes or henchmen are nearby. Before that occurs, however, any enemies already on the level will perform an action - either to Move towards the closest heroes, Attack them if they are next to them or Shoot them from afar!
There are many different enemies the heroes will have to contend with. The most numerous enemies will be the Wihts - either Wihtgāras, armed with spear and shield; Wihtaxas, armed with ax and lantern; or Wihtbogas, armed with a bow. They could also be joined by enemy heroes such as a Wiht Thain, who will be a powerful warrior in his own right but will also help his Wihts to perform better; or even a Wiglāca, a human Jute sorcerer who can raise the dead!
Bigger enemies will appear less frequently (thankfully!), such as the shrieking Drēaguthas - wraiths full of hatred for the living - or the Gāsta, ancient kings of old who remember little of their former lives and are all the more spiteful because of it.
The last level of each area - and the quest's end level - will contain a powerful creature that the heroes must defeat to progress further; perhaps a tomb spider, a huge arachnid able to immobilise adventurers, or a powerful mound beetle able to crush the hardest of heroes in their jaws - and at the end, the mighty Culcca, a Gāst King who holds the secret to life after death.
At the beginning of each enemy turn darkhold cards come into play. These cards are unique to each darkhold and represent enemy strategies, natural occurrences, random encounters and all manner of other things! They could change the behaviour of the enemies already on the level if enemy heroes are present, another entry point may appear, tunnel roofs may collapse on top of a hero, random monsters may pop up... who knows? You will, when you play the game!
Once a darkhold card is played, the enemies already upon the level must perform their actions. In general these will be very simple - either movement towards a hero or attacking/shooting them - and the game's artificial intelligence will enable the enemy player (chosen from amongst the players) to perform enemy actions very easily and without thought. Even so, the more powerful enemies can do various other nasty things, so it won't always be simple to defeat them!
There will also be rules for players who wish to play the part of the enemy - i.e., you could play a Darkholds game with 1-3 players using heroes and 1 player using enemies, for example!
After the enemies upon the level perform their actions, enemy reinforcements occur. Each entry point draws a reinforcement card, which - depending upon the area - reveals the type and amount of enemies that appear. This could be a myriad of different enemies - one Wihtgār, three Wihtaxas, a Wihtboga or two or even a Wiht Thain (plus bodyguard!) - or maybe a Drēaguth or a Gāst!
Further Darkholds Info!
We will unveil more about Darkholds next week.