The Dealer always plays the Monster. There is the revealed Monster card, which shows what kind of Monster the party is facing (its suit), plus its current HP total. Numbered cards have starting HP equal to their value, while Face cards always have 11 HP. The Dealer also has a number of cards dealt to her face down; these are known as Saving Cards.
Any time a Monster is successfully defeated by a player, its HP goes down by 1.
If a Monster is about to lose a HP due to a player action, but the Dealer can play a Saving Card to avoid taking damage. The Saving Card must be a higher card of the same suit as the attack.
Example: An Undead Monster is about to lose a HP after a Warrior played the 3 of Clubs. However, in her Saving Cards, the Dealer has a 5 of Clubs. Playing this, she is able to defeat the attack and do not lose any HP.
This is in addition to the Monster Skills listed below
Clubs: Regular Monsters
Natural Weapon: If the monster has any Clubs in their Saving Cards, they can immediately play them face down in front of the monster. To defeat the Monster on its own terms (ie, Clubs), you must now defeat the total of the Weapon card PLUS the current HP total of the Monster.
The Weapon card does not affect the starting amount of Hit Points.
Hearts: Undead Monsters
Drain: If a Monster successfully plays a Heart as a Saving Card (must be the incoming attack), then the player must discard an additional card from their hand.
Diamonds: Magical Monsters
Magical Barrier: the Dealer can defeat any attack (except a magical one) by playing a Diamond Saving Card. The value of the Diamond does not have to beat the value of the attack.
To defeat a Diamond (a magical attack), the Saving Card must beat the value of the attack card.
If the Monster card is revealed to be a Spade, this is a Trap. All players must play a single card. Only Spades defeat Traps, Class Suits do not (except Thieves). The player who played the highest Spade defeating the Trap's Card Value has disarmed the Trap.
However, if the Dealer has another Spade in their Saving Cards, they can immediately play that card (representing a more convoluted trap) once the first one is defeated. The party must again play a single card in the hopes of defeating this next layer. This can go on as long as the Dealer has additional Spades in their Saving Cards or until all players are unable to defeat the Trap Card, in which case the XP are awarded to the Dealer.
XP is awarded only after ALL layers of the Trap have been disarmed, and are equal only to the point value of the first Trap Card played. The first Trap card played is then put into the Dungeon Discard pile.