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Arkham Horror: The Card Game» Forums » General

Subject: Looking for thoughts regarding creating custom scenarios rss

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Dee
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I don't have much to add here other than the title. I realised over the weekend that I have a small mythos-ey story in me that I'd like to get out, and that I might be able to tell it through AHtcg.

With the notion as a whole still in this very nascent state, I'm curious about whether there are any hard and fast dos or don'ts in terms of making and sharing custom scenarios for games like this. Has anyone experience doing it themself, from, say, the LOTR game? Anyone have any tips, cautions, or just anecdotes you'd care to share?
 
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Valerio Vitelli
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Well, the actual co-designer of AH:LCG got his job after designing custom scenarios for LOTR:LCG.

The easiest way to do it would be to design custom agenda and quest cards and recycling the existing encounter cards in order to tweak the existing quests.

A step further would be to design also new encounter cards.

A further step would be to design also new player cards.
To do that (design new cards) I know that there are people working on a plug-in for Strange Eons, a software with which you can make custom cards very easily.

Otherwise or in the meantime you need to have experience with Photoshop and similar imaging software.
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Dee
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I have a rudimentary capacity to make things show up approximately how I want with paint.net and I know how to use the smudge tool in GIMP. As far as creating the assets, my plan would be to just throw things through one or both of those two programs once I've finalised the notes. I actually had a go at making templates yesterday and ended up with functional enough images for locations (front and back), agendas, acts and enemies. They ain't bad, but anyone who's also tempted to give this a go should definitely keep an eye on this BGG thread and the files section.

A few of the things I'm wondering,

Assuming this actually gains traction in my free time though, I'm not sure what Best Practice is concerning serving it up to users. For delivery purposes, does one just throw them on a series of sheets, 3x3? Zip up the images and let the user do with them as they please? I confess that I have practically zero experience handling images such that they print out at a very specific size and I have no printer of my own to experiment with.

Are there legality / copywrite / licensing issues that one needs to be aware of when hoping to share something like this?

With regard to the scenario itself, to what extent is custom content expected to be playtested and balanced for difficulty and all possible character combinations?
 
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Scourn1
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Legal issues? None unless you plan to resell it for $. Then the legal issue is jail time

The biggest thing that's needed is custom Acts and Agendas. 2-3 of each, and maybe a custom boss or other object to the side

Blank templates of both also would be good and a enemy card
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Valerio Vitelli
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Noaloha wrote:
I have a rudimentary capacity to make things show up approximately how I want with paint.net and I know how to use the smudge tool in GIMP. As far as creating the assets, my plan would be to just throw things through one or both of those two programs once I've finalised the notes. I actually had a go at making templates yesterday and ended up with functional enough images for locations (front and back), agendas, acts and enemies. They ain't bad, but anyone who's also tempted to give this a go should definitely keep an eye on this BGG thread and the files section.

A few of the things I'm wondering,

Assuming this actually gains traction in my free time though, I'm not sure what Best Practice is concerning serving it up to users. For delivery purposes, does one just throw them on a series of sheets, 3x3? Zip up the images and let the user do with them as they please? I confess that I have practically zero experience handling images such that they print out at a very specific size and I have no printer of my own to experiment with.

Are there legality / copywrite / licensing issues that one needs to be aware of when hoping to share something like this?

With regard to the scenario itself, to what extent is custom content expected to be playtested and balanced for difficulty and all possible character combinations?


I suggest you to look at the First age custom expansion for LOTR (https://talesfromthecards.wordpress.com/first-age/) which is, as far as I know, the most complex and ambitious custom content for the game ever made in term of scope and playtest. You will see that cards are indeed released in a 3x3 format in PDF and you can also download a digital kit to be used in OCTGN. You may consider OCTGN also for playtesting purposes when the Arkham Horror OCTGN version will be released, as is more easy to play different iteration of a quest on the computer than have to print multiple versions of the custom cards.
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Eric Martin
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I'm also assuming that you plan to demonstrate the game on Tabletop Simulator. Of course that doesn't help in term of distribution, but it certainly should generate more interest/experimentation from the community.
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Dee
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Ha, getting any resulting custom campaign up on Tabletop Simulator would be nice certainly, but that's a whole other thing I'd have to youtube-teach myself, similar to any potential OCTGN stuff, a site I've yet to use. I have a tiny amount of experience with uploading my own actual assets to TTS (some 3D model for a netrunner table), but it was a while back and I couldn't claim to remember much about it. One step at a time and all that, but yeah, I'm certainly interested in the practical issues around getting custom campaigns up on places like TTS and OCTGN.

And grazie Valerio for the link to that monster of a LOTR LCG campaign. Equal parts inspiring and daunting, though obviously any little project I put out will be a fraction of the scope.

I note on that mod, and kind of touching on some of my wonderings regarding legality -- or at least respectful, 'proper' handling of other people's / company's work -- the First Age mod's assets have some lovely artwork and the page explains that credit is mentioned where it was obtainable but the art wasn't actually used with explicit permission. Is that the norm for custom community campaigns? I feel more than a little tentative about doing that.
 
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Dee
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Re:
I think I have learned my first lesson about designing cards - you, as a designer, have room for improvement if the text on your cards requires the user to squint. I fear I may have to learn some restraint.

From a typical player perspective, cards like this are bad, right? Too many rules, not enough elegance sort of thing. Or do text dumps like this give you a happy tingle?


A first attempt at a replacement unique weakness for Roland.


I even had to shift the artwork window upwards to fit that essay on there, ha. That's likely a huge no-no too.


edit: realised i'd uploaded a version with some redundant text. now it has seven less words, much better!
 
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Bobby Marino
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Ha, I like that with that huge wall of text, you still added a line of flavor text!

But yes, that is probably too much text for this game, at this time. Also, that seems like a seriously crippling weakness for Roland!
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Scott Dockery
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What you're going for is interesting, but you need to cut it down a little. I feel like the reaction trigger is a bit unnecessary; you can already increase your odds of failure by just attempting difficult checks without committing cards or using assets, which seems more in line with self-destructive guilt anyway.

If you really want to include that element of extra chaos or player choice, you could try merging the reaction into the forced trigger. For instance, replace both with "Forced: When you would pass a skill test, add one horror to Crushing Guilt unless you reveal an additional chaos token. If this causes you to fail, discard one horror from Crushing Guilt."
 
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Dee
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supermarino wrote:
Ha, I like that with that huge wall of text, you still added a line of flavor text!

As much as I laughed at myself for the lack of restraint shown in that example, I still couldn't bring myself to drop the flavour text. I devour that stuff. I love it. It can make any little narrative beat or diorama that a card's interactions are attempting to represent really pop. I suspect I'll be quite, quite weak where reining in flavour text is concerned.

Quote:
Also, that seems like a seriously crippling weakness for Roland!

You think? Ignoring for the moment that the card as delivered was always unfit for use, being a comical text dump, I felt like it was quite a versatile weakness inasmuch as it offered several options for dealing with it. It could certainly spiral into something outrageously punitive if you were lucky(?), unlucky(?) enough to pass a bunch of skill tests, but I was of the opinion that the tools are there to apply the card to your circumstance. Compare with Cover Up and the situation where you draw it late game on a clueless board for example.

rsdockery wrote:
What you're going for is interesting, but you need to cut it down a little." [...]


Nice ideas, thanks. And yeah, after just having a bash at that card, I consider (better appreciate, even) moreso the talent involved with the game designers' work when they can reduce down the text to its essentials and still have it communicate its own story of sorts. With that in mind, it was nice to see that you were able to pick up on the 'self-destructive guilt' part of the card's theme. I'm not sure if the image helps even with that, as it's a little unclear what the hell I'm trying to show and what it's referencing. Still, my point being that the 800-word essay of rule interactions was able to convey that theme, but can I find a way to convey that same theme on a cleaner-implemented card..? Hopefully that kind of talent(?) / ability(?) is something that comes with practice.


There was another question I was mulling over: for those with experience using custom campaigns especially (but anyone is welcome to chip in obviously): is it unwise to include 'real' (official) cards in decks that will also have your own creations? Example, adding the 'Rats' and 'Locked Doors' encounter decks in with a dozen or so of the new cards for a combination encounter deck. Would this not potentially lead to a situation where it's kind of obvious, just by looking, that the card on top of the encounter deck is one of the 'new' cards just by look and feel. Or, and I suspect this could be the case, does it not matter because these print n play community scenarios are, by and large, always used with opaque-backed sleeves?

I've never print-n-played before myself, and I'm not entirely sure what the normal approach to it is. Sleeving everything makes sense?
 
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Bobby Marino
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Noaloha wrote:

Quote:
Also, that seems like a seriously crippling weakness for Roland!

You think? Ignoring for the moment that the card as delivered was always unfit for use, being a comical text dump, I felt like it was quite a versatile weakness inasmuch as it offered several options for dealing with it. It could certainly spiral into something outrageously punitive if you were lucky(?), unlucky(?) enough to pass a bunch of skill tests, but I was of the opinion that the tools are there to apply the card to your circumstance. Compare with Cover Up and the situation where you draw it late game on a clueless board for example.


Forcing Roland to lose skill checks could be debilitating at certain difficulty levels, especially since you can try to lose and still accidentally win. If anything, I'd say let him voluntary lose with a zero, without pulling from the chaos bag. Two horror, if he has to take it, is 2/5 of his sanity, and it can end up being worse if he wins more skill checks.

Also, pulling this at the wrong time of game (right near the end), it might just be a default 2 mental trauma, which is twice as bad as his standard weakness.
 
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Dee
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Having Roland be allowed to auto-pull a tentacle token if he wanted wouldn't offer any interesting choices I suspect. He could just spend two actions investigating whatever location he's in, shroud 1 or whatever. I think the card as conceived requires that Roland seek out 'difficulty'. The idea that the card *gains* tokens if he passes if just plain evil, I agree, but I can't help but enjoy the idea of him trying his damnedest to punish himself and then admonishing the skies in cries of anguish as he somehow still manages to nail his task.

With regard to the trauma thing, yeah, if drawn into right at the end it could be nasty. You're likely to have *some* options for reducing it though, given the requirement is any old skill test. Debatable I guess whether that's better, worse or (I was wondering) roughly equal to drawing Cover Up on an *entirely* clue-less boardstate. Plus, the impacts of trauma can be softened through the scenarios themselves. I'm thinking of things like, if the events of scenario 3 follow on directly after scenario 2,-- it's literally the very next thing the investigators do --having trauma stick around makes sense. But there's no reason, in a campaign that narratively assigns trauma, or just one that applies a bunch of hurt in general and an expectation of trauma building up naturally, that the campaign couldn't slip in a rest period (you're travelling by boat to somewhere, for example) and let investigators, say, heal up 1 of each trauma prior to the next scenario. Or begin a scenario with location-based means of healing trauma back up early in proceedings (at the cost of a few actions, no doubt). I hope I'm not coming across as argumentative or anything, by the way! I think all your points are valid. These kind of things are just fun to think about and toy with.

Perhaps it'd enter play with 1 horror and would only add a horror if you passed by 2 or more. The text is currently at size 11.5 so what harm could reducing it to, say, 10.5 do?! (Extra rule on the card - unless you have a magnifying glass equipped, this card is considered blank.)
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