Dom Dib
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There seems to be an ongoing debate about whether the game is too easy. Probably, experienced gamers may find it a little easy in the initial scenarios. However, because everything in this game is a number, it seems to me the difficulty slider is almost infinitely variable: e.g., to make it harder, add another location; add one or more monsters to each location; add 1dx hitpoints to monsters etc. And the same can be done in reverse for younger players/ less experienced gamers: allow two free explores per turn; add x more cards to the blessings deck etc. One objection I've noted among more experienced gamers is that the strategy of calculating the odds for where to place characters is fairly simple . Here is one variant, which slightly extends the Villain escape mechanic, that, with the right tweaking, could fry the brains of even a stats professor: Leaky Locations. And what's more, it's fairly easy to justify thematically too.

At the start of your scenario, roll 1dx +/- a constant ("a") of your choice (e.g. 1d4 + 1). That's your "base leakage" threshold stat (BL). Then, after each player has taken one turn (call this a round), on their next turn (and, if you want, on each subsequent turn), each player rolls another die, 1dy +/- b (e.g. 1d6 -1), their "current leakage" (CL). If this roll exceeds the BL, then the player takes CL-BL number of cards from that location, and puts them somewhere else. Thematic justification: the monsters are getting rattled, so want to run for it; or, your (the player's) luck is wearing thin, which is why there's fewer blessings or sweet items/spells etc in this location; or, one of the villain's traps just malfunctioned. And another wrinkle: because they're making a run for the exits, three options exist (justified thematically by the fact that you see them rushing past): a) for the harder variant, you make another encounter roll (E) of 1dz +/- c: if E is higher than CL-BL, you may optionally encounter one of the escaping monsters, or accidentally trigger one of the traps etc, while the rest evade you (if you want to make this even harder, flip a blessing from the timer deck just for this encounter; and if the encountered card is a boon, you can either try the check, or rule it automatically lost); b) if you are aiming to make the game easier, you simply rule that all boons are automatically acquired, and all banes are automatically banished - the monsters ran for the hills and dropped the loot; or c) you do nothing, and the monsters escape to another location. How do you choose the other location? A number of options exist: you could rule based on the placement of the location cards that they always escape to the location on the right and/or left; or you could roll for the number of places to right or left.

Notice that this variant, in its harder flavour, makes the location of the villain more uncertain. And if you are playing either flavour, if the villain is encountered via the encounter roll, you simply follow the usual rules for a villain encounter; if you want to increase difficulty, you could argue thematically that because the villain is rushing past, there's no time for other players to temporarily close.

I purposely didn't define the dice for BL, CL and E, because that's where there's plenty of scope for tweaking, to make the odds of deciding where to place characters more difficult. And I'm sure that other players can see other ways in which this variant can be tweaked for further challenge (just one example - if the escaping monsters go to a location with another player, do they have the option to encounter? or temporarily close, necessitating another roll to see where the monsters go next?). And I'm sure this variant isn't perfect and might require further tweaking based on special conditions on various yet to be encountered locations. Any comments welcome.

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Darrell Goodridge
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Windsor Locks
Connecticut
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Currently at 1:2 ratio, getting better every week
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I don't want it, I don't need it, but I can't stop myself. - Stabbing Westward
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Hmmm. Do x,y,z and a,b,c all have to be unique numbers? Does each equation require the same option of +/-?
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Dom Dib
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No, x, y, z don't have to be unique, and no, each equation doesn't require the same option. That's why I'm suggesting that people might want to experiment with it to find the right balance of difficulty - to roll their own house variant.
 
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