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Max Caine
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"One of the things I am not fond of in boardgame versions of roleplaying games (though I accept this is inevitable) is that all the enemies work together like a delta force unit. In reality, lots of monsters would attack each other just as easily as the heroes. When I was a DM I could make this happen and the results were often a lot of fun with the players arranging to aim one set of monsters at another."

It was this post by carbon_dragon combined with trying out my Stalker that made me think more closely about why wildly different creatures would unite and attack the Posse when they'd be as likely to attack each other! If SoB was an RPG it would be up to a strong leader to keep his forces from eating each other by bashing heads and doing whatever was necessary. There isn’t a single unifier in SoB (there are strong individuals such as Colonel Scafford, but there isn't anyone who can call themselves The Boss). But there is the Darkness.

Wherever you go, the Darkness is already there. It whispers in the minds of those who stray too far from the light. It gives vigor to demons and the dead. It cloaks the presence of beings so they can strike in ambush. When the Darkness boils out of the mines, unholy forces lay waste to the countryside. What is the Darkness? The Dark-Stone fueled vengeance of Brimstone? An Entity as powerful as the Ancient One or Bel'ial? Who knows…. but given what the ill-defined Darkness can do, the Darkness itself is a good fit for the unseen force which guides and controls the inhabitants of the mines of Brimstone.

If the Darkness were more than a metaphor, given the description of the “Voices in the Dark”, and the indirect way most Darkness cards work I would guess the Darkness is subtle in its control. For the beasts and the brutes the Darkness sharpens hungers and magnifies the desirability of certain targets. For the more intelligent, the Darkness misdirects, confuses and lies. Beings like Bel’ial who have been driven mad by their imprisonment would, for all their intellect probably be the easiest to lead around. Growing Dread cards can directly affect the Posse, but even those can be resisted. So if it’s possible to resist the Darkness, isn’t it also possible to disrupt the bonds of the Darkness which guide its minions as well?


Breaking the Bonds: Every time the bearer of the Old Lantern Holds Back the Darkness during a fight, if there is more than one type of enemy fighting the Posse, the bearer may make a Spirit 6+ test. For every success, one enemy becomes confused. The bearer can nominate which enemies are confused. Each confused enemy will target and attack an enemy which does not share any keywords with it. The enemy is no longer confused at the end of its next activation.

Having tried this out, it’s not a game-changing rule. The basic CoA set pits stranglers and night terrors against void spiders, and the SoJ pits hellbats and Slashers against hungry dead. It is funny when a Night Terror smushes some surprised void spiders!

The Old Lantern is somehow tied up spiritually with the Darkness. The Lantern Bearer specifically "holds back the darkness" - using the lantern like a ward. If the Darkness is sentient, then it would hate the Lantern and the being that bore it.

Hatred of the Light: whenever an enemy has the option of choosing which Hero to attack, it will always target the bearer of the Old Lantern if it can successfully attack the lantern bearer this turn. Otherwise follow normal targeting rules.

Flickering Lantern: Once per adventure, the lantern bearer may ignore the result of a Darkness card. If s/he chooses to do this, the Posse suffers from a Flickering Lantern effect. All shooting is at -1 to-hit within 5 spaces of the bearer and -3 at any target 6 spaces or more from the bearer (a to-hit of a 6 on a d6 will always hit and crit). This effect lasts until the end of the next fight. Additionally, the lantern bearer may opt to make a Spirit 6+ test. If successful, the -1 to hit is increased to 7 spaces. If failed, the range is decreased to 3 spaces (so all shooting would be at -3 at 4 spaces and further if failed, or -3 at 8 spaces or further if successful).

I conceived this a desperation measure. Say you're in the middle of a tough fight and suffocating gas starts to rise from the floor, or a dozen hungry dead ambush appear, you could have the option to cancel that if you could put up with the lantern suddenly flickering and spluttering for no good reason, the light strobing and the shadows rising!

EDIT: "Tiles" replaced for "Spaces". Thanks ScooterNH!
 
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R.P. Kraul
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Wow, I like it! Should definitely add a lot of variety.
 
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Scott Laman
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Really fun ideas!

Some details though. You mention "Tiles" for some of these ranges, I think you mean "Spaces" on the tile instead?

In the "Breaking the Bonds" option, rather than the lantern holder nominating which enemies are confused, it may make more sense to have the enemies that are 'closest to the lantern' be the ones that are influenced.
 
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Max Caine
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Whoops! Yes, I did. . Thanks for the comments, guys!

@ScooterNH. The only issue I could see with "is closest" is that if you have a zerg like enemy such as void spiders or hungry dead, the closest to the lantern bearer would likely be closed in by others of its type, so unless it had something like flight or another ignore model rule all the ability would do is prevent an enemy from attacking for a turn as it impotently pushes back at its brethren. What would you suggest for that?
 
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David Griffin
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Some interesting ideas there. The Myth boardgame also has a vaguely defined "darkness" that seems to be an entity of some kind (or so it is implied). Mage Knight also has some sort of entity behind the creation of the Mage Knights for reasons that are again not specified.

In SoB, the darkness mechanic implies *something* about the darkness -- that in some way when the heroes lose, that is an opportunity to wreak havoc in some way that is again not defined.

That said that "delta force" idea came about playing D&D 4th edition where the monsters do indeed act like highly trained, well motivated special forces troops. They never break morale, they will selflessly sacrifice themselves to get the heroes, and they will fight to the last hit point, choosing their tactics in a smart fashion. There is no darkness there, just implausibly good monsters.

One would presume that the D&D heroes (or the SoB heroes) are a more cohesive unit who fight together to and depend on each other in a way similar to a squad of soldiers. As you say though, a random group of monsters would have their own instincts and/or objectives and would be as likely to fight among themselves as to fight you (and indeed maybe more since those other monsters would probably be looking for the same things -- food, Darkstone, etc.).

I wonder if there should be some kind of mechanic that if it looks like the monsters are going to win, the various types of monsters might decide that THEY deserve to eat the heroes (or steal their Darkstone) and thus might break ranks to deny the other faction of monsters their win. Or maybe if the monsters have lost 50% (or 75%) of their faction forces, they start having to make morale rolls to continue the fight. Wouldn't it be cool if by punishing the stranglers they ended up deserting the fight and leaving the other monsters to fend for themselves?
 
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Johnny W
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Perhaps, consider something like this...

The holder of the lantern throws a d6 or d10 sided dice each time they activate in combat, if the die shows a lantern then draw a card from the lantern deck. These cards add all manor of unexpected variances to the current combat, a mixture of positive, negative and both. So, if you want the enemies to act in a more independent manor these cards might instruct large villains to stomp aside smaller creatures, flying creatures might flock together and rise far above the current combat turn, a wounded creature snaps at anything near it, the last of a type becomes a brutal beast, and so on...

Flickering Lantern is rather neat. Maybe, flickering lantern allows once the lantern holder once per game, to select a specific card from the Lantern Deck, or set aside a card at the beginning of the mission to use when needed. This might have a grit or Luck requirement.

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Jan Meyberg
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lemmingsunday wrote:
Perhaps, consider something like this...

The holder of the lantern throws a d6 or d10 sided dice each time they activate in combat, if the die shows a lantern then draw a card from the lantern deck. These cards add all manor of unexpected variances to the current combat, a mixture of positive, negative and both. So, if you want the enemies to act in a more independent manor these cards might instruct large villains to stomp aside smaller creatures, flying creatures might flock together and rise far above the current combat turn, a wounded creature snaps at anything near it, the last of a type becomes a brutal beast, and so on...

Flickering Lantern is rather neat. Maybe, flickering lantern allows once the lantern holder once per game, to select a specific card from the Lantern Deck, or set aside a card at the beginning of the mission to use when needed. This might have a grit or Luck requirement.



A magnificent idea! (it would require a Lantern Deck, though. But we've already read a few ingenious ideas earlier in this post...)

I'd personally hate to include JUST ANOTHER DIE ROLL, so why not rule
"If the lantern bearer rolls the lowest number possible to hold back the darkness, draw a card from the Lantern deck."
Thus the Lantern events would
- get slightly less probable the longer the mission takes
- never occur in a turn a Darkness-/Growing Dread Card was drawn due to Darkness rising
- occur at around 1/6 of the turns early in the mission.

I could imagine the lantern deck consisting of 20-ish cards which included instructions on what happens if a) in fight or b) exploring the mines. (most events might cover both cases, though...

Ideas (from really helpful to extramly nasty):

1) A glimpse of holy: Get a lantern token. Discard this token to cancel a darkness card drawn.

2) A new hope: Each hero may make a Spirit 6+ test. If successful, recover 1 Grit.

3) Confidence: Each hero may immediately recover D3 Health / Sanity (any combination)

4) Regroup: Fight - The monster group containing the most monsters target as a whole a single random hero. Explore - all heroes may immediately move up to 2 spaces.

5) Broken loyality: Fight - Choose an enemy who attacks an other enemy which shares no keyword with it. Explore - A random hero must move adjacent to another hero and attack with his/her base combat.

6) Monstrous creature: Fight - The enemy with the most remaining Hitpoints gets immediately an additional Elite ability. Explore - In your next encounter, choose one monster group to get an additional Elite Ablity.

7) In the shadows deep: The next Encounter card drawn is one level higher as normal

---

As you can see I'd try to make Exploration lantern encounter slightly more nasty than combat encounters - this should help to push the posse forward!

In numbers: I would try (guess by thumb!) to reach
- around 2 really good Lantern encounters (LE), like 1) and 2)
- approximately 4 good ones (like 3) )
- 6 LE's which are so-so, including both positive and negative effects (like 4) and 5) )
- 6 LE's which are moderately in combat and not-so-nice while exploring (Like 6) )
- 2 really nasty (like 7) )

What do you think?

Happy gaming, Jan
 
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Jan Meyberg
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... WAIT!!!

The Lantern Encounters (as I suggested) are just another random encounter. But they need to resemble the struggle (and success) of holding back the darkness - or the failure to do so.

Thus the cards should mostly have time-delayed functions, just like No. 1) of my proposed cards...

"If the lantern bearer rolls the lowest number possible to hold back the darkness, draw a card from the Lantern deck."

I could imagine the lantern deck consisting of 20-ish cards which are kept at hand to be played later. I'd go for 50% benevolent (played at the posse's discretion) and 50 % malevolent cards (played if a certain trigger condition arises, discarded afterwards).

Ideas so far:

Benevolent

A new hope: Each hero may make a Spirit 6+ test. If successful, recover 1 Grit.

Confidence: Each hero may immediately recover D3 Health / Sanity (any combination)

A glimpse of holy: Discard this card to cancel a darkness card drawn.

Broken Loyality: Choose an enemy who attacks an other enemy which shares no keyword with it.

Drive them back: You may cancel and re-draw a Threat Card.


Malevolent

Flicker of Fury: The next time a room is revealed, a random hero must move adjacent to another hero and attack with his/her base combat.

Get him: At the beginning of the next fight, the monster group with the most monsters targets a single random hero instead of the usual targeting rules.

In the shadows deep: The next time you draw an Encounter card draw a card one level higher than normal.

Ancient beasts: At the beginning of the next fight, players choose a monster group to get an additional elite ability.

Creeping shadows: Until his next Catch your breath roll, a random hero recieves 1 Sanity Hit anytime he recieves a wound.


What do you think?

Happy gaming, Jan
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Freelance Police
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The DOOM videogame did this -- if a monster got hit by "friendly fire", it would, instead, attack the other monster. This was hilarious, when you saw a fire imp throw spitwads against a minotaur (whatever) who would walk up to him and punch him to death (in one blow).

Similar to infighting, you could build it into the AI. Frex, for certain monsters, if a large monster has a smaller one in front of him, he'll just kill them with a blow from behind, or use its area attack, just to get to the heroes.

Okay, enjoy some DOOM infighting!

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Philippe Franck
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I always thought the "darkness" was the epic threat you fight at the end of the mission.
 
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David Griffin
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The idea of "differences" among the monsters is what I'd like to see explored (at least once in a while). Maybe while you're adventuring, it only happens once -- you roll void spiders and stranglers and instead of going for you they go for each other. Not all the time, just enough to make it a possibility. Once an adventure maybe?

Maybe the first time you roll doubles in the first round of combat that you have monsters of two factions on the board (so not that often), instead of doing a depth event, all factions on the board are hostile to each other. To each faction the others are as valid a target at the players (use dice to determine target without prejudice as though the "enemy" monsters were player characters too). Voila, a 3 way battle in the mine. Wild and wacky fun.

As an alternative to this, maybe you could choose to create this effect anytime there are 2 or more factions deployed by spending a grit from all players. This would be once a game. This might be too powerful though because the boss battle would be the tempting target since there are likely to be multiple factions in the battle.
 
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Max Caine
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@carbon_dragon: How would that work? Our group doesn't care for playing in the most optimized way, but assuming that character builds are netdecked (I'm fairly certain I've seen people singing the praises of specific Gunslinger builds), certain hero types are more likely to obliterate whole monster groups before they get a chance to strike back. If you want monsters to fight each other as well as the Posse, you'd need to revamp the threat decks to account for attrition from both sides as well as optimized Posses. Would there be a monster battle turn first, where monsters target and fight each other then a Posse turn where the Monsters then fight the Posse? What do you envisage?

Personally, I can imagine that kind of thing being more a set piece battle in one of the large tiles such as the Cavern of Bones because you need room for two sides and the Posse to face off. But TBH, I think that lends itself to a more mission-y type structure. the kind of thing where the Posse has to fight through two sides to get to an objective, or maintain the balance of power in a Mine, or something like that. Thoughts?

@lemmingsunday & meyberg

The "lantern deck" concept when boiled down sounds a lot like "draw positive/negative random events which will occur only during a fight". Would that be right? Well, I mean, one of the big complaints of SoB has been a lack of player agency. Would adding more random events which the player can't do anything about be adding to this? Given that the existing set of random events (Darkness, Growing Dread) are entirely negative, would it be better to counter that by adding a form of positive event so people aren't thinking "oh great, another deck to screw me over!".
 
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David Griffin
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Maximillian_Caine wrote:
@carbon_dragon: How would that work? Our group doesn't care for playing in the most optimized way, but assuming that character builds are netdecked (I'm fairly certain I've seen people singing the praises of specific Gunslinger builds), certain hero types are more likely to obliterate whole monster groups before they get a chance to strike back. If you want monsters to fight each other as well as the Posse, you'd need to revamp the threat decks to account for attrition from both sides as well as optimized Posses. Would there be a monster battle turn first, where monsters target and fight each other then a Posse turn where the Monsters then fight the Posse? What do you envisage?

Personally, I can imagine that kind of thing being more a set piece battle in one of the large tiles such as the Cavern of Bones because you need room for two sides and the Posse to face off. But TBH, I think that lends itself to a more mission-y type structure. the kind of thing where the Posse has to fight through two sides to get to an objective, or maintain the balance of power in a Mine, or something like that. Thoughts?

@lemmingsunday & meyberg

The "lantern deck" concept when boiled down sounds a lot like "draw positive/negative random events which will occur only during a fight". Would that be right? Well, I mean, one of the big complaints of SoB has been a lack of player agency. Would adding more random events which the player can't do anything about be adding to this? Given that the existing set of random events (Darkness, Growing Dread) are entirely negative, would it be better to counter that by adding a form of positive event so people aren't thinking "oh great, another deck to screw me over!".


Only if it happened often. There is only 1 hold back the darkness at the start of each fight and only 6 chances in 36 (1/6) that it is a doubles. Over the course of the fights you have, MAYBE it happens once (because you're only allowed to do it once per adventure anyway). If it does, you're just buying some comic relief. Maybe 1 battle is easier but so what? Might be entertaining and that's what we're here for right?

I'm not saying you can't do your lantern thing, I'm just brainstorming. Getting 1 monster to go rogue is hardly worth the trouble though, I want an entertaining melee as the darkness' wires get crossed.
 
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Max Caine
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Haaang on a sec, something not right there. You roll HBtD every turn, fight or not.
 
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David Griffin
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Maximillian_Caine wrote:
Haaang on a sec, something not right there. You roll HBtD every turn, fight or not.


Yes, my idea about the monsters fighting each other's would only happen with doubles in the FIRST HBTD roll in a fight. The other rolls would be normal.
 
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