John Dark has an exceptionally dire backstory. Before the apocalypse, he was interested in the occult. During the lead-up to Hell’s rising, he managed to make contact with a demon lord, and actually sold his soul! Over time, he realized his horrible error, and as he sees the terrors that the diabolic forces have unleashed, regrets his choice. Now he fights alongside the other heroes, trying to stop the demonic invasion. He is not sure if this will, in the end, be enough to save his soul. Probably not. But it won’t keep him from trying. If you examine his miniature figure, you can see his demonic familiar, whispering into his ear. Also notice that under his feet, instead of the normal hero base, he casts the shadow of a limbo glyph – foreshadowing his ultimate fate.
John Dark’s Abilities
At first John Dark may seem weak, with a 1d4 attack and only 4 health. At least he has Toughness 3, which helps him to survive the Limbo minion attacks. His occult powers, however, make him a force to reckon with. John’s starting Familiar Spirit ability helps make up for his low starting health – when he kills a minion, this ability lets him choose to bump up his health, instead of taking courage.
His other abilities also stem from black magic use – Dark Exchange lets him instantly kill a second or third circle in his area as an action. This is amazingly handy in the early game, when these demons are particularly difficult challenges. It is also good because of course he earns courage for killing them, plus since Dark Exchange doesn’t count as an attack, he ALSO gets to attack that turn! However, it comes at a price – he has to increase the Despair track by 2-3 points (an amount equal to the demon’s circle). He also can’t use Dark Exchange if it would increase the despair track past 6. Increasing despair is a pretty serious thing to do, but again, in the early game it is often worthwhile. In the late game, you may have second thoughts, though. But again, in the late game, you may be able to kill fiends and cacodemons without resort to this ability, so it’s utility diminishes.
His other power is Forfeit Soul, which lets him bump up the despair track by 1 to add 1d10 to his attack. Again, he can’t increase despair beyond 6. But this more than makes up for his weak 1d4 attack! Now, simply by increasing Despair, he can roll 1d4+1d10, plus he can harvest health from killed demons.
His weakness is Hellbound – basically the enemy demons can smell the brimstone on him – the lowest circle of minions in an area MUST target John when they attack. Often this is just limbo minions, but we’ve seen many a game where all the demons but one particularly nasty one were knocked out of an area, and then that one remaining minion, a cacodemon or perhaps even a fourth circle, was required to attack John Dark! That can really hurt.
How John Dark Works
John is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, his occult powers make him a demon-killing machine. On the other hand, the despair track rockets skyward when he is on your team, using those same powers. You’ll find the fourth circles coming sooner, and the general struggle gets stiffer. So he needs to keep mindful of this – if John just uses his powers every chance he gets, the team will get stomped by the demons over time. But if he uses them appropriately and when necessary, he is an extremely potent hero. As you’d expect, he is one of the most popular heroes to play, but when someone picks him, often the other players groan knowingly, and eye him suspiciously. Which seems appropriate for one of John Dark’s background and powers.
John Dark’s tech tree is fairly conventional. He eventually adds 1d6 to his attack, and also gets two die token boosts, so after he’s achieved these his attack could be 1d4+1d10 or 1d8+1d6, which is pretty respectable. His final upgrade (rarely, but sometimes, achieved) adds 2 to his health cap.
A Story From Sandy
Way back when I was still in grammar school, my friends and I invented alternate personas to take on when we played together. Mine was John Dark – who I always envisioned as rather sinister, sort of like the characters my heroes Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price played in my favorite movies. Anyway, that’s whence John Dark, and why he is the way he is. There are more secrets behind him, and the other heroes. Yep, a 10-year-old kid made up this dude back in the 1960s. I was one weird kid.