Only Darkest Dungeon

d_dungeon

You ask me why I am afraid of those shadowed corridors; why I cower more than others upon seeing a torch burn slowly to its end, and become physically repulsed when a stack of tomes or sack of rough burlap lies curiously near. There are those who say that I respond to the creak of wood the same as a foul stench, and I am the last to refute those claims. What I will do is explain to you the circumstances that surround my curious condition, and leave up to you to decide if this game provides a suitable reason for my oddity. You should know why I become deranged with fear, yet so manic in my eagerness to return to…the Darkest Dungeon.

Arriving at my forebearer’s estate I am greeted with the wild eyes of our caretaker and a slow wind that blows through the now desiccated ruins of our once grand familial palace. It is up to I to restore the estate to its former glory. But such an endeavor costs more than I can offer; only the lost treasure of my ancestors would allow me this task. I dare not explore alone however, and only with the help of other desperate travelers am I able to assemble a force worthy to face the repugnant creatures that now haunt these lands. Crusaders, soldiers, sorcerers, and criminals, all heroes in their own right, all with their own burdens to bear. None are prepared for what lies below.

I do my best to gather supplies such as food for the lengthy trek, stiff torches to light our path, bandages to slow the drip of death, and anything else that may be afforded. My family’s acreage is encompassing and I try to pick a territory that may provide the most reward to our general condition, though I know all avenues are fraught with danger.

And so we traverse the darkened tunnels, caves, and moors around the estate, praying to make the smallest of profit while also trying to keep my mercenaries from the grisly fate of their formers. Stashes of loot can be found here and there, as well artifacts whose purpose is of the most suspicious sort. Even the noblest of stone cannot be assumed guiltless. Traps, disease, and knowledge forbidden are all small cuts that, while may not kill, will certainly leave scars of far worse severity. Yet the chance, the opportunity for a sliver of gold, a cut of diamond. Oh the curiosity!

With each torch that fades so too does our vision and the darkness presses in to break my companions’ will. Shadows embolden the craven men and beasts that reside here, making them stronger, but less cautious and less likely to hide their valuable baubles. While the light does not deter the beasts entirely, it can oft dim their senses, giving us a moment’s opportunity to strike first. Inevitably the wretched enemy’s of good will rear their heads: marauders, cultists, rotten abominations and venomous monstrosities from beyond the depths, and perhaps worse.

Only then do we fight, each of our companions being skilled in particular combat abilities. Hammers and shields, gunpowder and magic, all make excellent harbingers of a demon’s doom. But positioning is vital, for our swordsman cannot fight from the back of our line, nor is it wise for our doctor to face the brunt of hell’s fury. Monsters seek not only to bring us to bloody ruin, but to sow their madness, and as the battle against these heathens continues, the less my compatriots are aware of their moral obligations, the weight of their stress burdening them to the breaking point. It is a moment that I dread, the caving in of one’s mind into lingering insanity, putting all of us at risk to follow suit. Fear is so very contagious you see. Deciding whether or not to escape with our lives or press forward into the unknown can be the measure of success.

Meat’s back on the menu boys.

If by some miracle we make it out alive, we divide treasures among our caravan, count or maladies, and invest in more capable facilities around the manor. It is all about preparedness. Our numbers train their skills and forge weapons to better slay the enemies of light, and as their veterancy grows so too does their resistance to the stresses of their occupation. Nonetheless, it would be folly to send our warriors back to the bowels without some form of respite. To the tavern and the abbey to wash away their woes, and to the sanitarium, should they be malignant in body or mind. But to keep these adventurers healthy and supplied is not cheap, and eventually we’ll begin our descent again, searching for greater treasure or an equally fantastic death.

So you can see the reason for my self-righteous glee, and yet unmanageable terror. Again and again we fight against the creeping shadow, the battle lines drawn at a hair’s length. The estate must be cleansed of its curse, and I know what must be done, but I fear my resolve will never be enough, too cowed to give the word to my men. Eventually we’ll have to venture dauntless into that mother abyss, the fountain of true madness. All of this, you see, exists only to find and conquer that…Darkest Dungeon.

9/10

Written by R.C. Simcoe

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