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Subject: Gil's house rules rss

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Gil Winters
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I've been working on house rules for AH for a few years, on and off. I think they have been playtested enough and I'm ready to share them. I'll post the rules in sections:

1. Investigators
2. Items & Allies
3. Spells
4. Locations
5. Gates
6. Monsters
7. End of Turn
8. Terror/Doom
9. Consequences

Please note that these are the rules I play with - I did not necessarily create all these rules, some are other people's creations, some were heavily influenced by other people's creations. Some rule changes are minor, while some are more significant - for these "major" rules changes I'll include the goo symbol.

Looking forward to feedback, ESPECIALLY from anyone who actually gives these rules a try. Depending on the level of interest I'd be glad to incorporate relevant feedback and create a file to upload to BGG.
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Gil Winters
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1. Investigators
Focus goo
• Characters do not need to adjust their stats at the beginning of their turn – rather, they can adjust, limited by focus, as needed during the course of the turn.
Focus cubes: Give each investigator a number of cubes (or counters) equal to their focus, and places them on their character card in a pile next to the printed focus number.
• During their turn, as needed, a slider may be moved one space per cube available. Each time this happens, a free cube is placed on the slider's old position. Investigators cannot adjust the same stat in both directions during the course of a turn - a slider cannot move back across a focus cube – this should help keep track of how many points have been spent, and in which direction there was movement.
Replenishment: Each upkeep, investigators get back one Focus cube. Investigators who spend their entire turn in stable locations can give up their 2nd move* to get back 1 more Focus cube.
• Investigators cannot spend focus during movement or during combat. Example: Joe Diamond could spend focus to increase his speed prior to movement, and move to an area with a monster. Then, before fighting the monster, he could spend focus to increase his fight, prior to rolling his horror check and conducting the fight. Note if there was a 2nd monster he could spend focus to prepare for the 2nd monster, but must still observe the rule that he cannot adjust the same stat in both directions on the same turn.

Skill Checks
• If investigator’s adjusted skill is less than 0 (zero), he/she must spend clue tokens to get back up to zero before the clue tokens buy die rolls.

Trading Clues

• Players may give clue tokens to other player at the same location. To do so, end the active player’s movement; the active player may give or receive 1 clue token from other player at their location.

Investigator Cards
• Sister Mary may spend one clue token to reroll a failed blessing roll - but only once per upkeep phase.
• Patrice Hathaway's ability can only be spent on skill checks, not on anything else; and she has only one focus.
• Daisy Walker can only use her spell ability once per turn, and she has only 1 focus.
• Jenny Barnes starts with two Common Items rather than one.
• Bob Jenkins starts with $9 rather than $8.
• Wilson Richards has a Focus of 4.

* Investigators now have an opportunity to take a 2nd movegoo - see 4. Locations below.
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Gil Winters
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2. Items & Allies
Items
Starting Items: At start, for each common and unique item, draw 3, discard most expensive item, then select one of the remaining. [Investigators with a special ability to draw extra items do this (draw 3, discard most expensive) for each candidate item at the start of the game and then use their special ability.]
Reading Tomes: +1 to die roll in a stable location.
• Vehicles: When an investigator gains more than one vehicle, he drops all but one on his space. Other investigators can claim these cards, but on each Upkeep a die is rolled for each unclaimed card, discarding it on a 1.
• The shotgun special ability does not work on targets with Physical/Weapon Immunity (ditto for Magical Shotgun vs Magical Immunity)

Allies
• Young Zoog can only be obtained via his specific encounter.
• When playing with all expansions, the other 33 allies (all except Young Zoog) are available, and each time one is supposed to be discarded, discard three. (When playing with only some expansions, scale appropriately.)
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Gil Winters
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3. Spells
goo Spell casting in Arkham Horror involves constant sanity loss, and a fair amount of risky die rolls; the ongoing trips to the Asylum to regain sanity, and the inferiority of spells to weapons, take away from the game. The loss of sanity AND the risk of not having an attack upon a monster provides a strong incentive to not even bother. The following rules attempt to correct these issues.

Sanity Loss
• Investigators only lose sanity if they fail their Lore check to cast a spell.
Clue tokens: Clue tokens that are spent ‘up front’ for a Spell check function as normal. If a player fails their Spell check, and then wishes to spend Clue token after the fact for more die rolls to still successfully complete the spell, they may do so, but it will not reverse the sanity loss from the original Spell check failure.
“Red die”: Roll an additional die with each Spell check (it doesn’t need to be red, but using a different color die is helpful) – this die does not contribute to the Spell check, but does provide the player an additional chance to lose sanity. If the player rolls a “1” on this additional die, then they must pay the sanity cost of the spell even if they made their Spell check.

Spells in Combat
Multiple monsters: When fighting multiple monsters in the same turn, players may keep using any active spell (just like a weapon) by making an additional Spell check.
• May only use 1 copy of a spell at a time.
• Bind Monster does not work on monsters with Magic Immunity, and suffer -2 dice on monsters with Magic Resistance.
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Gil Winters
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4. Locations
Stable Locations & 2nd Turngoo
Often in Arkham Horror players have money and trophies they don’t have time to spend – they real cost of items is often not the dollars, it is the time required to go to the correct location and to obtain the item. Also, trading items, reading tomes, and visiting stable locations in general take a back seat to unstable locations, gates, and clues. Even fighting monsters in the streets has an exaggerated impact – not only do you face the dangers of fighting the monsters, but you also lose (too much) precious time. These rules should make it easier for players to spend their money and trophies, read tomes, visit stable locations, and to have the occasional street fight with uninvited guests.

TWO TURNS: If an investigator spends their entire turn in stable locations, they may take a 2nd turn, provided that the 2nd turn is also in stable locations (including streets).
• May not start or enter any unstable locations, outer world locations, or locations with a gate.
• The actual process is that during their move phase, investigators do a move > encounter > move > encounter.
• The end of the first move and the first encounter phase do trigger relevant effects, i.e. – 1 to health if they end their move in the streets during a storm event, etc.
• Clues: When taking 2 turns in this fashion, investigators may only receive clues from the board (or in trade) during 1 of their 2 moves.

Location Specific Changes
Bank
• Can only get a loan up to terror level 3.
• To get a loan, investigators must make a roll: starting money/3 round up --- need at least one success to get approved for the loan.
• Loan interest: If an investigator is unable to pay interest, they must either (1) choose and lose an item, or (2) go to the bank, and lose a turn. [Does not apply to investigators LiTaS or in outer worlds.] This move to the bank and losing a turn thematically represents debt collectors, bank officers, court, etc.
• On any turn the terror level is at 9 or more, skip the loan die roll (no one is trying to collect).

Curiositie Shoppe/General Store
• You do not need to buy items if you don’t want to.
• Place unbought items face-up on the store location. During Mythos Phase, remove a random item from each store.
• If an investigator wishes to buy items, and some are already present, draw 1 new item.

Ye Olde Magicke Shoppe
• Spells may be sold at Ye Olde Magicke Shoppe for $2 each, or traded 2 for 1 for spells. Selling/trading takes place instead of a buying phase.

Jail
• If you lose no money going to jail, lose another turn.

Police Station
• Deputy cannot lose Deputy’s Revolver at Police Station (official); Deputy cannot be arrested.

Hospital/Asylum/Harney’s Shack/etc.
• Investigators who reach 0 sanity or stamina do not regain any sanity or stamina on the turn they arrive at the Hospital/Asylum. On the turn following their arrival, the only thing they can do is gain 1 point of sanity or stamina (as appropriate), bringing their total to 1. Note: Investigators are immune to global sanity/stamina losses (from Mythos cards) until the turn after they have recovered their “free point”. Example: Mike McGlen fails a horror check on turn 5, is reduced to zero sanity, and has to go to the Asylum. On turn 6, the only thing he can do is regain a point of sanity, bringing his total to one; on this turn, he is safe from sanity loss caused by global sources (Mythos cards, certain monsters, etc.). On turn 7, he can do whatever he wants, but is now subject to any global sanity loss that comes up.
• Investigators must spend the rest of their turn in the Hospital/Asylum etc. in order to do any healing (no healing during their first turn and then going out to do something else on their second).
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Gil Winters
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5. Gates
Gates I don't like the gameyness of gates in AH, and I don't think the expansions do an adequate job of fixing this. Hopefully these rules will make it so investigators always have an incentive to close gates.
Set-up: One monster on the first gate, one monster at another random location, first card cannot be a rumour.
Closing Gates: goo All Gates that are closed are marked with a CLOSED GATE token. (Gates that are sealed are still marked with a SEAL token.) A CLOSED GATE token works just like a SEAL, except that it only works once, and then is removed. This is to help reduce gaminess and encourage investigators to close gates.

Gate Burst/Seal Removal:
• Any time an effect happens that would remove a gate in a location that has a CLOSED GATE token, remove the closed Gate token.
• Any time that a SEAL would normally be removed, replace it with a CLOSED GATE token instead.

Explored Gates
• Investigators can leave and return to an explored Gate and it is still explored (but they can only have 1 explored gate marker - if they want a new one, they must lose any existing explored markers).
• Investigators can choose to draw an encounter card or use a location’s ability instead of trying to close a gate. The exception to this is on the turn the investigator returns from an Outer World – on that turn, their only option is to attempt to close/seal the gate.
• If explored, and the explorer is present, other investigators do not need to go through the gate.

Gate Action Table (summarizes what happens when a gate is selected for a location)
No Gate, 1st time symbol drawn
Place gate.
Place monsters of that symbol into the cup. (See 6. Monsters for more detail.)
Place monster.

No Gate
Place gate.
Place monster.
Add doom token.

Gate
Monster surge.
If at least 1 monster is drawn that matches the symbol of the gate that caused the monster surge, add +1 doom.

Closed Gate
Discard closed gate.

Seal
Nothing happens.

Other Minor Rules
Martial Law: When the doom track falls again under the 50% mark, martial law expires until the 50% mark is met again. (Not really a house rule actually, since Kevin Wilson revised the rule from the Innsmouth rulebook).

Expedition: On a Movement Phase investigator(s) who have an Expedition Token choose whether to start the expedition.
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Gil Winters
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6. Monsters
Monster Cup
• Separate out monsters by symbol into piles.
• At start, place moon monsters, and any special monsters associated with the GOO, in the monster cup.
• Each time a gate opens with a new symbol, place those monsters in the cup.

Night Gaunt
• If you lose vs. a Night Gaunt, lose 1 stamina and delayed after going through gate.

Mi-Go/Warlock/other “ATM” Monsters
• If you beat them, 50% chance they provide treasure, 50% chance they become a monster trophy.

Flying Monsters
• If in the sky, will move to a random street area in a neighbourhood where investigators are if no one in the streets.
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Gil Winters
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7. End of Turn
Starting with the 3rd investigator in the turn order, investigators must roll to see if the turn ends early. goo

Investigator # --- Roll needed to take their turn
1 ------------------ -
2 ------------------ –
3 ------------------ 2-6
4 ------------------ 3-6
5 ------------------ 4-6
6 ------------------ 5-6
7+ ---------------- 6

• No clues/rerolls apply to these rolls.
• If an investigator fails his/her roll, they lose their turn, along with all other investigators who have not taken a turn.
• All investigators who lose their turn due to the end-of-turn die roll also miss their next Upkeep phase.

The purpose of this rule is game balance and scaling. Note that players losing their next Upkeep phase can be good, bad, or both, depending on circumstances, and that this is intentional.


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Gil Winters
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8. Terror/Doom
I believe that terror should be driven by monsters - any monsters - that are in the streets or stable locations. I believe that doom should be driven by open gates. Hopefully these rules allow for terror and doom to increase more thematically, and cause the players to act/react more thematically.

During each upkeep phase:

TERROR goo
• Each turn there is 1+ monsters in the streets and/or stable locations, roll a 2 dice; on an 9+, Terror increases by 1.

Modifiers:
 • If there are any monsters in stable locations, +1.
 • If the monster limit is currently reached, +1.
 • If only moon monsters are in the streets/stable locations, -1.
 • No clues/rerolls

DOOMgoo
• If d6 < # of gates on the board, +1 Doom. (No clues/rerolls)
• For each symbol that has two open gates and at least 1 monster on the board (not including outskirts), +1 Doom.
• No clues/rerolls apply to these rolls.
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Gil Winters
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9. Consequences
Going to zero stamina or zero sanity in Arkham Horror is quite painful in terms of lost items and clues. Expansion rules that allow players to substitute injuries/insanities instead reduce this pain, but too much so, and they give players a decision that thematically shouldn’t be a decision – you can’t, for example, choose to take a concussion in a fight vs. losing all your stamina - it doesn’t make any sense. Thematically, if an investigator is reduced to zero stamina or zero sanity, they should be at risk of injury/insanity/death, they should be at risk of losing some items, and they should definitely be losing some time.

Zero health/zero sanity goo
Going to zero: When health goes to zero, investigators automatically take an injury. When sanity is reduced to zero, they automatically take an insanity.
Losing time: The investigator is delayed. The next turn, after the movement phase, they show up at the Hospital or Asylum with either 1 stamina or 1 sanity, as appropriate.
Losing items: Investigators must lose either 1 random item/ally or 2 items/allies that they can select. (No clues or money is lost).
Going to one: When health is reduced to one, roll a die; on a 1-2, the investigator takes an injury. When sanity is reduced to one, roll a die; on a 1-2, the investigator takes an insanity. Note that if the investigator’s sanity/health is reduced to zero during the same phase or same combat, they do not need to take a 2nd injury/insanity (as appropriate).

Lost in Time and Space
• Lose ½ items and ½ sanity tokens (round off in investigator’s favour). For each ally, roll a d6, they are lost on a 1-3 (no modifiers). (No clues or money is lost).
• Lose 1 turn (delayed). After that, roll a die each turn, return on a 4-6. Clues cannot be used on this die roll, only modifier is bless/curse.
• ‘Location returned to’ is based on a card flip (a random unstable location).

Devoured
When an investigator is devoured:
• Lose all items.
• Lose a turn (delayed).
• The replacement investigator is randomly chosen.
• A doom token is placed on the Ancient One's doom track.
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Joe Field
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Hey, thanks for sharing these. Nice to see so much though put into this great game.

I haven't tried any of these (and I'm not inclined to because I love the game as it is, or with a couple of Launius house rules thrown in) but here are some thoughts:

Focus: I really don't think you can mess with such a core gameplay mechanic. Like I said, I haven't tried it (and this is just my opinion) but I think such a radical reworking of the Focus mechanic runs the risk of breaking the game. The cube system also over-complicates the book-keeping of what is already a very complex game.

Items: most expensive item is discarded at the start of the game? Ouch. So long, game-changing Elder Sign.

Allies: playing with all, and discarding three per terror bump seems ok. I might try it.

Sanity loss: are you saying investigators only lose sanity from failing spell checks, or that they lose sanity from horror checks as well? I'm confused here, but I think the sanity rules as they stand fit the feel of the CoC RPG. An extra die seems like more book-keeping - which is fine if you like book-keeping.

Two turns: fine for veterans, I guess, but I'd hate to explain this to a first-timer.

Locations: at this point, you need a GM to keep track of all this stuff. That's an ok approach to this game.

Gates: are you clearing monsters with corresponding dimensional symbols when the gate closes? This is usually a nice bonus to closing gates. Your rule looks to make the game much easier - is that how it plays out?

Monster cup: not a bad approach, but for that level of curation, why not just refine the monster cup thematically? Again, this is almost pushing for a GM.

Turns ending early: seems like a negative play experience to me. What's the feedback on this one from your group?

Terror: I see what you're getting at. Seems fine. Why not roll one die and add the number of monsters in the streets and sky to the total? The modifiers add more book-keeping.

The overall feeling I get is that you should really be GM-ing a Call/Trail of Cthulhu campaign. You clearly have a knack for book-keeping and being able to track that level of detail is ideally suited to running a Cthulhu adventure.

I would argue that a board game experience (even the sacred Arkham Horror) should be less micro-managed for the sake of theme and more fluid for the sake of a decently-paced experience.
 
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Gil Winters
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Thanks for the reply Banjo Chutney.

1. I totally respect playing the game "as is" and you describing your viewpoint prior to the rest of your feedback. FYI, one of the things I REALLY like about Eldritch Horror is that I can play the game "as is" without feeling the need for house rules.

2. Focus - you are right, the changed Focus mechanic is a big deal. From extensive playtesting with 2 gaming groups I can tell you the suggested rule changes play well. IMHO, there are three shortcoming with the focus rules as written (RAW):
Thematic: While SPEED vs. SNEAK is a logical/thematic trade-off, FIGHT vs. WILL and LORE vs. LUCK are less so. Does every spellcaster/tome reader automatically have to be unlucky?

Gameplay: There are not a lot of "delicious decisions" associated with focus - usually the decision is obvious, or a crap shoot. For example, if I'm planning to go to an unstable location to get a clue this turn, unless I have the encounter cards memorized, it's a guessing game - am I going to need LUCK, or LORE? Conversely, there are cases where the decision is obvious, and uninteresting:

Admin chore:
While the upkeep phase is a fine time for players to discuss and agree on the coming turn's strategy, the forcing each/every player to mentally rehearse their turn so they can get their focus sliders right is extra work, not much fun, and a turn-off with new players/casual players that need to be constantly reminded. Combined with the fact that many players go long stretches without have to adjust their sliders, it shouldn't be a surprise that players forget, and then mid-turn want to "rewind" back to the upkeep phase.

With these suggested rules, The time invested in the extra book-keeping is minor and straightforward, and in exchange you get 2 benefits: (1) more "delicious decisions" in the game, and (2) less analysis-paralysis. For a fuller discussion on this please see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/11923714#11923714.

3. Items - the rules as written (RAW) for set-up items is random, and can really change the difficulty level of the game - starting with the shotgun or an Eldar Sign instead of the whiskey or Cultes De Goules is a big difference. The intent behind the new suggested rule is to introduce a bell curve so that investigators will still have a chance to have a high value or low value item, but an increased likelihood of getting a medium value item.

4. Sanity loss - these suggested rules do not change horror checks in any way, only the amount of sanity loss to spell checks. For a fuller discussion on this please see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/12196132#12196132.

5. Two turns - This might be the "funnest" rule change out of this set - if you have any desire to try any of these changes, this is the one I'd recommend. As far as explaining it to new players, it's not bad - I probably over complicated it with my description. But basically the rule is if you spend ANY time in an unstable/other world location, you get 1 turn, otherwise you get 2. cool

6. Gates - yes, we still play with removing monsters when a gate closes based on their symbol, and yes this rule lowers the difficulty level - but other rules increase the difficulty level. BTW I believe these gate rules go a long way towards addressing gameyness, which is important for me.

7. Turn ending early - has not been a negative experience for my players - think of it more that with larger groups, the game just gets to have more turns, and there is an exciting element of the unknown added - 'will I get to do X before Y happens?' - makes the game a little less deterministic. This is probably one of the most fiddley addition in these new rules however - at times, especially with "non-gamers", we forget to make these rolls and people just play through.

8. Terror - The reason I have opted for a 'formula' (that looks like something out of Squad Leader) is because its more thematic (IMHO) - if even just one otherworldly monster is roaming the streets, holy crap, that is a big deal. Your formula is a bit simpler, but is thematically different.

9. GMing Call of Cthulhu vs. Arkham Horror - I really appreciate this comment, and I think it deserves discussion - probably its own thread. IMHO, the jump between Arkham Horror with these rule changes and GMing a proper Call of Cthulhu RPG session are HUGE:
Prep work: The amount of prep work required to GM a quality RPG session, at least for me, is insane - I GMed 5 RPG campaigns (2 AD&D, 2 CoC, 1 Warhammer Fantasy) "back in the day", I couldn't imagine having the time to do so again (at least until I retire).
Co-op game experience: It is fun to play with your friends against a game, trying your darndest to win, as a team - you can't really do that with an RPG as the GM. Not only are you not on the 'same side', as the players, but you are free to make up the scenario/rules as you wish, and to change things whenever it suits - you are God. When there are rules that you must follow you have a very different experience.
Solitaire play: I can play Arkham Horror solitaire and enjoy it - obviously not doable with a pen and paper RPG.
The board game experience: I love playing board games - Fantasy Flight, GMT, Z-man, Avalon Hill. Arkham Horror gives a board game experience and an RPG experience, which is why I'm a big fan, and which is why I've been willing to invest time to 'improve' the rules (IMHO).

Banjo, I know you said that you are not big on playing with variant rules, but I like your post and your approach, if you could find a way to play a game with these variant rules and report back I would look forward to reading (and would be glad to send over a ton of GG if that sort of thing matters to you).

 
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Joe Field
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I'll see what I can do

No games scheduled with my group just yet, but I'll see if they fancy an Arkham Sunday soon.
 
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Hey, I don't always post on these boards much, but I do always try to keep a check on it just to see if others are doing anything new and interesting. I've been playing AH for years now, and it's still one of my favorites to bring out when given the chance, so I'll throw out what I think, and maybe you can clarify anything that I may be misinformed about.

Focus
• I think this is interesting, but I'm not sure I'd use it. It seems like a lot to keep up with, and it also seems like it may make decisions on what to focus on less impactful, as you can just move as you go along even if you replenish slowly.

Skill Checks
• I'm not sure how I feel about this one. On one hand, it might make Final Combat tougher, with those negative modifiers (which I like), on the other it makes clue tokens even more valuable and they were already the most valuable resource in the game.

Trading Clues
• Coinciding with the above house rule, this one's okay I suppose. Otherwise, takes away some strategy on who needs to be collecting them and who needs to focus on other tasks.

Investigator Cards
• Don't have a problem with Mary's change. However, when playing with her PS, it makes it kind of redundant.
• Don't have a problem with Patrice either. However, I think Patrice's overpowered problems stem from the combination of her first and second ability, not necessarily her first ability. So our house rule has always been to get rid of her second ability (that gives her free clues galore) all together. If she wants to let others spend them, she needs to work for them just like everyone else, but she can still allow them to be spent on whatever.
• Daisy is someone that all these years, I've rarely played with so I can't have too much of an opinion on her change. Our random choice of investigators just doesn't like to pull Daisy sadly.
• Jenny, Bob, and Wilson are actually corrected in later printings to do just as you suggested, so that's actually playing by the rules. (though Wilson's ability is that he doesn't use Focus to adjust his sliders, and can move them as much as he wants).

Items
• The starting items seems like it just adds more time to the setup time.
• Don't have a problem with the tomes rule.
• I don't know about the vehicle rule. If someone has more than one, they really should be trying to give one to another investigator even without this rule. But this does seem like it adds more to keep up with, and can add more stuff to the board.
• Shotgun is fine as well. Actually, shotgun rule is better than official.

Allies
• We actually use this house rule as well. We even use this even when not playing with all expansions, but continue using all allies.

Spells
• I don't necessarily have a problem with these house rules, but the red die seems to go against what you stated was the purpose of these house rules. I personally don't mind the spells as is, simply because I feel spells are not meant to be used as weapons except in desperate situations. The better spells are those that are used outside of combat. If you look at spells and alter them all based on the combat spells, then you're risking making those noncombat spells even more powerful. Having said that, your Combat specific house rules for spells look just fine.

Stable locations & 2nd turn
• I'm not sure what this is meant to accomplish? Time should be precious and wasting time doing other less important tasks should be discouraged. You're supposed to be racing against the awakening of an ancient being, you should have to make decisions on whether to sell or run, fight or run, heal or run, etc.


Location specific
Bank: I don't have a problem with these, but I think it over complicates bank loans considering for the most part (aside from Jenny and maybe Roland) no one ever went for Bank Loans anyway.
Shops: The whole point of forcing to buy items is to prevent people from fishing for the better items (Elder Signs specifically). I think this actually encourages that. If you don't want to force people to buy items, my suggestion would be to simply put all items back on the top of the deck instead. That way it still prevents fishing, but there's still a chance of those items going away when people draw "random" items. I say this as I'm firmly against the fishing method of shopping, but thematically, it makes sense that if the items are not bought, they'd still be in the shop for the next buyer.
Magicke Shoppe: I like this one okay, just not sure why spells get this treatment, and not the other shops?
Jail: I don't like anything that adds more "lose your turn" effects. It makes play less fun for anyone it happens to. It also seems to go against one of your previously stated house rules that allowed a 2nd turn to give investigators more time.
Hospital/Asylum: My same complaint from the Jail applies to this one as well. Just creates more downtime for the player.

Gates
Closing Gates: I'm not sure why this one is included, as I think a great dilemma players face is whether to go in for the close, or hold for clues to go for the seal. This somewhat eliminates this choice, and thus part of the frantic nature of the gates. I think my complaint here pretty much covers all subsequent gate house rules you propose.
Explored Token: I don't see much problem with leaving and coming back without losing the explored token (so long as you can just have one), but I'm not so sure about allowing encounters to occur, or even allowing other investigators to occupy the location as well. I'd like to know more about how your games have played with this.

Monsters
Don't have a problem with any of these, though I do like the "ATM" monsters as they are.

End Turn
I don't like this for the same reason I don't like the Jail house rule. It can potentially provide a great deal of down time for players. Any game mechanic (house rule or official) that tells players to lose or skip their turn is bad in my opinion, and just overall not fun. I've never played with more than 5 players, so I can't speak on the scaling, but I feel there are other ways you could probably attempt to manage the scaling of the game.

Terror/Doom
• I think if you want to add more relevance to the Terror track this works. But I think this houserule and the Doom houserule both can add more book keeping to the game, when it's already pretty high.
Consequences
• While I understand your reasons for wanting to change the 0 Stamina/Sanity rules, I don't necessarily agree. For one, your rule can be brutal against the investigators with only max 3 Sta/San, and throw in Cthulhu, and this cripples those investigators. This also seems to go against the purpose of the "2nd turn" houserule. Not to mention, Injury/Madness cards aren't exactly helpful, so choosing them, while saves time, doesn't actually help your investigator,and these cards are permanently there. And these cards are even more risky when playing with MH expansion.
• Can't say I like the LiTaS rules, but I don't have a problem with them. The random location to return to is actually pretty good, and more thematic as well.
• I don't know why the "delayed" is there? Care to explain the purpose of this? Adding a doom token to the track doesn't seem like a bad idea though. Does make you think twice about intentionally devouring an investigator to get a new one, but it also does make Tommy and Silas less appealing when trying to achieve their PS.

Overall, I would probably say if you enjoy playing this way, keep on, but other than a few rules, you didn't give detail as to why you changed these aspects of the game. And your justification of the "2nd turn" rule seems only necessary when playing with the other house rules you've included, as those rules make moving and time management more difficult. Hope I'm not sounding rude, as that was not my intentions at all. Just giving my personal feedback. My gaming group may be very different from yours, and that has a greater effect on what rules are best to use and which aren't.
 
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Gil Winters
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Re: Gil's house rules - DESIGN PHILOSOPHY
Cim, thanks for the thoughtful response, I'll try to answer your questions.

Quote:
you didn't give detail as to why you changed these aspects of the game

Well, my original post was long, I was trying not to add too much commentary/'designer notes' - given your ask, here goes:

Philosophy
I see house rules as a necessary evil for games that (1) I really like but (2) have flaws/shortcomings that bother me too much. I really like Arkham Horror - been playing since the first edition Chaosium version - but IMHO it has significant flaws in terms of:

• Gameyness
• Thematic misses (suspension of disbelief/realism)
• Missed opportunities for 'delicious decisions'
• Some power balance/game balance issues

My goal with these house rules is NOT to add chrome (the game doesn't need it), but to address these 'problems', with as little added complexity or book-keeping as possible. The top problems that I am attempting to solve with Arkham Horror are:

1. Investigators
Focus: From a gameplay point of view, there is not a lot of "delicious decisions" associated with focus - usually the decision is obvious, or a crap shoot. For example, if I'm planning to go to an unstable location to get a clue this turn, unless I have the encounter cards memorized, it's a guessing game - am I going to need LUCK, or LORE? Conversely, there are cases where the decision is obvious, and uninteresting - for many pure spellcasters or pure non-spellcasters, their Lore/Luck slider requires no movement at all - either LORE is maxed out LUCK is maxed-out. Granted there are times you do have tactical min/max exercises (I'm going into a fight, do I want 2 dice for my HORROR check and 6 dice for my COMBAT check, or should I go with 3 dice/5 dice?), but nothing super interesting. Additionally, the turn structure requires players to mentally rehearse their entire turn during the upkeep phase to set their focus sliders - this slows the game down with analysis-paralysis types, while its a turn-off with many new/casual players that need to be constantly reminded. Invariably players forget, and then mid-turn want to "rewind" back to the upkeep phase, etc.

Our playtest experience with these new rules is that they lead to fun decisions, with players having to agonize over whether or not they want to "spend it all" vs. "save for a rainy day". Example: I'm a spellcaster, the encounter card requires a LUCK roll, I can spend all 3 points of my focus now to reduce my LORE in favor of my LUCK, but then I will be weak/exposed for several turns until I replenish my focus. Because this is such a departure from the base game, I expect some people's initial reaction is this is fiddley and unnecessary, but I would suggest to give it a try - this is one of those rules that plays well even if perhaps it doesn't read well.
(Giving credit where credit is due, please look at Danny Stevens' Focus Tedium article http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/11923743#11923743 for more discussion on this topic.)

Skill Checks: The skill checks rule change is a minor one to avoid some minor gameyness.

Trading Clues: The trading of clues is thematic - Mike can give Daisy a gun or a spell, but can't share the secret to the cult they are both trying to stop? Also provides for better co-op gameplay, with everyone being able to pitch in to help close that last gate, etc.

Investigator Cards: These are other people's changes/house rules that I agree with.

2. Items & Allies
Starting Items: The rule change for starting items is simply to even out starting items, to reduce the chance of investigators being too strong or too weak at the beginning of the game.

Tomes: The bonus for reading tomes in stable locations is more thematic and can encourage player to act thematically ('The professor took the blood-splattered tome he found in the shallow grave back to the library for proper study').

Shotgun: The shotgun house rule is something I got elsewhere on BGG (can't remember what post).

Allies: The Young Zoog house rule is someone else's - included because it is thematic. The inclusion of all allies in the deck at the beginning of the game is to increase the chance of meeting allies as encounter card effects - adds to the fun factor.

3. Spells
Sanity Loss: See Crusher Joe's post
Quote:
for more discussion. What I've tried to do with spells is balance them so that they are a more attractive option - for all the trouble a player has to go through (acquire the spell, cast the spell, spend the sanity, walk around with a low LORE score), the payback from spells, especially combat spells, is too low. At the same time you want spells to be risky - the "red die" is included so that even the perfect spellcaster with all the rights stats and skills and items will blow it once in a while. I also wanted to reduce the repeat trips to the Asylum - not thematic or all that fun.
Spells in Combat: These fixes are thematic. So I can use Shrivelling on two cultists if I have two copies of it, but only one if I have only one copy? OR I can dual-wield Wither spells, one in each hand, like six-guns?

4. Locations
Stable Locations - Two Turns: As I described in my earlier post,often in Arkham Horror players have money and trophies they don’t have time to spend – they real cost of items is often not the dollars, it is the time required to go to the correct location and to obtain the item. By giving them two turns (while in stable locations), you give players the chance to spend their loot, which is fun/satisfying. Also there are neat/interesting/cool encounters in stable locations that rarely enter play - with this rule, players get to experience more of what Arkham Horror has to offer. Finally, when you as a player have 'nothing' going on (no opportunity to get clues, buy items, fight monsters, or deal with gates, etc.), now you have a chance at 2 stable location encounters - can make it more fun for players and get them back in the game.

Bank Loans: These changes are to make bank loans more thematic, and less gamey:
• Banks loans shouldn't be automatic - lots of people/businesses in real life try to get loans and fail.
• Affluent characters should have a better chance to get loans than poor characters.
• The loan interest rules (lose items or time if you can't pay) are thematic, and help close the gap on the gamey loophole of getting a loan and then giving all your money/items to your friends - this way you still face consequences.
• No more loans at terror 3, no more loan collection attempts at terror level 9 - more thematic.

Curiositie Shoppe/General Store: These rules are for both thematic and gameplay reasons. Thematically, the shops should not have an unending 100% turnover of merchandise - if Joe goes and looks at what the Curiositie Shoppe has, and Kate comes out on the same turn, she should be able to buy the items that Joe didn't, and she shouldn't get to see a whole lot of new items - these house rules will let her see 1 new item. Gameplay-wise, this removes the need to force players to buy an item - not fun for players - and avoids the gamey situation where 4 players can camp on the Curiositie Shoppe to looking for an Eldar Sign; with RAW, 4 camping players will see 24 items over two turns, and would be forced to buy 8 - with these new house rules, 4 camping players will see 10 items over two turns, and be forced to buy 0.

Ye Olde Magicke Shoppe: These rules are meant to lessen the blow from getting a spell you don't want/don't need.

Jail: This rule is to give a bit more consequence to something that should have a consequence, and is thematic - when you are broke you tend to stay in jail a bit longer.

Police Station: I believe this is official errata.

Hospital/Asylum/Harney’s Shack/etc.: This rule is meant to stop "drive-through" healing - healing should take time.

5. Gates
Gates: These rules are meant to address my top complaint with gameyness in AH - players not wanting to close gates. With the rules as written, there are times when you don't want to close a gate because it will increase the likelihood of a new gate opening, or because you are in the midst of orchestrating a multi-player simultaneous move to close all open gates on the same turn to win. Thematically, this is unsatisfying - 'I want to stop Cthulhu, but I don't want to close his gate because it increases the likelihood of a new gate, another doom token, and Cthulhu coming out'. I believe players should always be motivated to close gates, and these rules provide for that.

These rules also add an element of pacing and building crescendo to the game - early in the game the monster cup has weaker monsters and doom is not increasing as gates open. Later in the game, due to these rules and the new Terror/Doom rules, when you ignore gates, you WILL be getting monsters (through monster surges), terror (from monsters), and doom (from open gates). From playtest experience this is a satisfying, exciting, and thematic progression.

Other Minor Rules: These are other people's creations (from BGG).

6. Monsters
Monster Cup: Meant to be more thematic, fun, and provides a ramp up/progression in danger levels.

Night Gaunt: Losing fights to monsters should have consequences, not just be a taxi ride.

Mi-Go/Warlock/other “ATM” Monsters: Yeah, I hate the gameyness of players chasing after these guys to get treasure, like it's Halloween night, we are the big/mean kids, and there are little kids across the street with bulging bags of candy.

Flying Monsters: Minor tweak to get flying monsters more in the game.

7. End of Turn
As described above, this is a game balance/scale rule - given that a lot of these new rules favor the players, this favors the game. It also adds an exciting element of the unknown to the game - 'will I get to do X before Y happens?' - makes the game a little less deterministic.

8. Terror/Doom:
Terror: Thematically, I think even 1 monster roaming the streets or entering stable areas should be a big deal. Gameplay-wise, I've played too many games where the terror level barely moves. This rule addresses both of these concerns, and also differentiates cultists (and other moon monsters) from true cosmic horrors. (a little bit of chrome)

Doom: From playtesting, these Doom rules work - players are really focused on closing gates at all times, not just when they are about to pull off a win, and they are necessary given the new gate rules (above), where early game gate openings don't generate a point of doom. The For each symbol that has two open gates and at least 1 monster on the board (not including outskirts), +1 Doom rule is a problem you can see coming, and can lead to agonizing press-your-luck choices - adds to game tension/fun. devil

9. Consequences
Zero Health/Zero Sanity: I described some of the logic behind these new rules previously, which I feel are equal parts thematic and gameplay in value. FYI while they are more brutal in terms of injuries/insanities, they are more lenient in terms of item losses, which has proven preferable to the players I have play-tested this with.

Lost in Time and Space: I think this should be a big deal, yet in AH it really isn't - these rules make being LiTaS more painful and more thematic.

Devoured: More thematic and a bit stiffer of a penalty.

If you have read this far, all I can say is wow, you must really be into Arkham Horror - which is not a bad thing. cool If this has encouraged you to give these rules a try, let me know, and give me the feedback from your gaming group - I'm specifically looking to improve these rules from good playtest feedback.
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Vladimir Lehotai
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Gil Winters wrote:

Co-op game experience: It is fun to play with your friends against a game, trying your darndest to win, as a team - you can't really do that with an RPG as the GM. Not only are you not on the 'same side', as the players, but you are free to make up the scenario/rules as you wish, and to change things whenever it suits - you are God. When there are rules that you must follow you have a very different experience.


While I don't think that the game needs much houserules, it was an interesting read anyways. However, I'd like to comment on the quoted bit:

While as a GM you're not on the side of players, you're not against them either. Yes, you are free to make up or bend the rules if you deem needed, but a good GM does it to keep the game interesting. If he uses it against the players, then he's just a dick and in that case he should just go play Mansions of Madness, or as I call it, the "whoever exploits the rules better, wins" game.
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Gil Winters
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Thanks for your post Vladimir - I completely agree - the experience of being an RPG game master is way different than being a Mansions of Madness 'opponent' game master, which is way different from being a co-op game fellow player. For me I prefer the co-op game fellow player experience, 2nd favourite is the RPG GM experience, least favourite is the MoM opposing GM experience - but each are valid ways to play, "different strokes for different folks".
 
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Marco Donghi
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Hello Gil, nice set of house rules, I'm still wrapping my head around all of them, but I wanted to chime in with a little suggestion.
Regarding number 7 for the End of Turn, the player who botches the roll should also get the First Player marker. If you are fifth in the turn and you botch the roll, and then you are fourth on the next one, you may very well botch in again, and you could be out of the game for 10-20 minutes, and we surely don't want that. If you give the first player token to him, he and all the players after him will get the chance of doing what they wanted to do last turn. I think this makes this rule a lot more enjoyable, while also getting rid of the dull 'first player passes clockwise' mechanic.
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Marco Donghi
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Hello Gil,, it's me again!
I've thinking about a lot about some of your variants, but I'm still not sure if I'm going to implement some of them, even though, given the chance, I'd like to playtest some.

One variant that I really like on paper is the one about the monster cup composition. I say 'on paper' because if I only use this single variant, without all the Terror and Doom Token variants you have written, I am clearly setting up an easier game in respect to AH RAW, as the chance of drawing a moon monster (normally easier) is pretty high at the beginning. And making the game easier is not very AH-like, is it?
So, I ask forgiveness for posting my own variants here, but this is my proposal:

Monster Cup
• Separate out monsters by symbol into piles.
• At start, place moon monsters, and any special monsters associated with the GOO, in the monster cup.
• Each time a gate opens with a new symbol, take all monsters with that symbol, choose one randomly and place it on the portal. Place remaining monsters with the same symbol in the cup.

So, you're pretty sure you're not seeing any moon monster for a few turns, and that is very, VERY bad. Do you think this increases the difficulty too much? Maybe a roll could be taken decide if the monster is drawn from the cup or from the new symbol's monsters?
 
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Gil Winters
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Thanks Marco for your posts, and please feel free to suggest additional ideas/rules. With regards to your idea of delaying the moon monsters, I'm not sure whether it would increase the difficulty level too much - there are so many variables that affect difficulty level (# of expansions, # of players, which investigators you use) that I don't know if your rule change would be "too much" in terms of difficulty.

In terms of theme, which is something that is important to me, and in terms of game pacing, which is also important to me, I would do the opposite - I think that the first encounters investigators have should be with cultists and weaker monsters, with the narrative of the story building up to the tougher monsters. I understand that you want to only add this one variant rule, and you don't want to make the game easier. Maybe you could add 2 rules? Maybe you could use the version of this rule where you draw more moon monsters at the beginning, but you add another rule to make the game harder? Just a thought.

Anyways let me know what you discover through playtesting.
 
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James Hébert
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Hi Gil,

I am a new player to AH and looking forward to seeing how we respond to your proposed alterations as we progress through the series.

In the meantime I have one question. Forgive me if this should be obvious! But... what do you mean when you say a rule helps reduce or eliminate "gaminess"?

What's a good definition of gaminess?
 
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Gil Winters
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Apologies James for the delayed response - just saw your post.

Gameyness is the trait that games sometimes have that cause players to do thing(s) that go against the theme/spirit of the game, but that confer an advantage or benefit. In Squad Leader, this was the old don't stack your leaders with their troops to avoid risking them breaking; in Arkham Horror, a good example is how you don't want to close gates for fear that they will re-open, speeding up the arrival of the GOO. Player actions that are contrived/cheap/corney often can be considered gamey - the old Richtofen's War when on my turn, I turn my plane hard, fly behind you, take a shot, and then on your time, you turn your plane hard, fly behind me, and take a shot.

From my perspective, I'd rather the game reward and motivate actions that are realistic/thematic, so it feels like the game is a reasonable 'simulation' of the game's theme. If it makes sense that the heroes would want to close any gate they can in order to stave off the coming of Cthulhu, then the game should reward and motivate these actions, not punish them.

Looking forward to any feedback you have from playing.
 
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James Hébert
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No apology needed, Gil, as my life kept me from getting back for a while too!

Thank you, I understand exactly what you mean now. And I agree, it detracts from the spirit of the game when you learn to tailor your gameplay in a manner not intended by the designer.

It's kind of a fine line, isn't it? Whereas one approach is taking advantage of a loophole in the rules, the other approach is knowingly bypassing or breaking a stated rule. In both cases you're employing modified gameplay for your benefit... it comes down to differences in the "known" ways to play, the "discovered" ways to play, and your point of view as to whether those discovered ways represent an opportunity the designer intended or an exploit that is unintended/unwanted.

In any case, that's not a discussion for this thread!

Thank you again. Now that life has settled down, I'll be working in your rules changes and will certainly let you know our experiences with them!
 
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James Hébert
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...And two questions!

#1. Adjusting stats up/down
In the rule for adjusting stats, the example given for Joe Diamond refers to two adjustments, raising Speed and Fight for one Focus each, leaving one more adjustment to employ. I assume his ONLY options are (a) raise Speed again, (b) raise Fight again, (c) adjust Lore/Luck in either direction?

In other words, he could not increase Sneak or Will higher, because that would be equivalent to lowering Speed or Fight (and you cannot adjust in both directions on the 3 slider pairs in the same turn). Correct?

#7. Turn Ending Early
Am I reading this correctly? For, say, a 7 player game, player 7 needs to roll a 6 to take his turn that round? And, if player 4 rolls a 2, then players 4-7 would not get to take their turn for that round?

If that's correct, doesn't this mean that the later players are going to get skipped more often and thus get less "game" in? It would seem that the later players are getting cheated out of play.

Seems I am misunderstanding or perhaps there's something I am missing there.
 
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Damien
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#7
Don't forget that the first player is changing each turn as the potential skipping players...
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