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Subject: Stranger Things (Spoilers) rss

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Matt Smith
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So, I'm honestly a little shocked no one's done this before. With the extradimensional gate and the eldritch abominations, the plot of Stranger Things has always felt a lot like a game of Arkham Horror to me. I've been toying around with some of these on and off since Season 1, and then got rather inspired by the way Season 2 upped the ante; the Demogorgon of the first season, though momentous to the characters, was really just a creature out of the Monster Cup in AH terms, but Season 2 pits the Hawkins investigators against a proper Ancient One. Of course, I've got no particular idea what I'm doing trying to create balanced Ancient Ones and Investigators, so please, BGG, I would very much appreciate your honest critiques! Also, y'know, SPOILERS ahead:


Also known as 'The Shadow Monster', this immense monstrosity seems to have no physical substance, appearing as a writhing mass of smoke capable of seizing telepathic control of a creature by flowing over and into it. The creatures it controls in this way--notably a pack of 'Demogorgons' (extradimensional predators capable of passing between worlds through the walls, or dragging victims into the Mind Flayer's realm of 'the Upside Down') and one of the show's young investigators, Will Byers. The Magical Resistance may or may not be thematically appropriate. It was ultimately forced back through the Gate and sealed off by a monumental exertion of Eleven's psychic power. Dimensional Shamblers and Hounds of Tindalos are the obvious Arkham Horror analogies to the Demogorgons,so I sought to have the Worshiper ability keep them constantly in play, while the chance for extra clues at the potential cost of a Dark Pact seemed like a good way to model the glimpses Will gets of the Mind Flayer's unfolding plan from his connection to the entity. Perhaps resolving Other World encounters to get those extra clues might also be appropriate, given the way Will finds himself flashing back and forth between the 'real' world and the Upside Down?



'Eleven' is in many ways the star of the show and one of its driving forces, an overwhelming amount of psychic power packed into the minuscule frame of a traumatized, barely-verbal prepubescent girl, raised in a shady secret government lab. I've tried to design her to be something of a glass cannon--a magical powerhouse, but a fragile one. The fear that the government will recapture her is a driving part of her character, keeping her in hiding for much of the show--hence throwing in the risk of being arrested after encounters when she has in theory made her presence public.



One of the few adult investigators in the series, Chief James 'Hop' Hopper proves to be a dogged and cunning pursuer of the truth, despite initially appearing to be a lazy drunk. He's also far and away the best physical fighter in the series (even if no one can contend with Eleven's psychic power). The second season implies that he is a Vietnam veteran, and he shows himself to be very competent at gunplay. Famously, he punches a *lot* of people in the face. He's definitely one of the more straightforward characters to design--a pumped up Fight score, but less Lore, as he's one of the least informed characters about the supernatural aspects, and his position as Chief of Police made simply *giving* him the Deputy title an obvious special ability.



The other main adult character in the cast, Joyce is driven by an abiding desire to protect her family--a complicated task given the way her son Will keeps getting caught up in supernatural horror. When he is trapped in the Upside Down in the first season, Joyce remains certain that he is still alive despite seeming an emotional wreck, and figures out that he can make lights in the real world flicker; one of the signature visuals of the first season is the 'Ouija board' she sets up on her wall with painted letters and a string of Christmas lights to communicate with Will. I renamed the Hunches ability to try to represent the communications she receives in this way.



As aforementioned, Will is something of the chew toy of the Stranger Things universe, an innocent waif of a child who manages to survive for days being hunted by a monster in an inhospitable dimension, by sheer luck and a noted talent for hiding (only to get possessed by a fathomless ancient evil less than a year after escaping that situation).

Those are the ones that I have in a completed state at this time, though I'm sure there's many improvements I could make to them all. I welcome your feedback and critiques on these, as well as your suggestions as to what could be done for other characters!
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Jay K
United Kingdom
West Malling
Kent
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I believe Stranger Things was inspired by the stories of HP Lovecraft. Very professional looking implementation.
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Matt Smith
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I mean, Stephen Spielberg and Steven King are probably much bigger influences, or at least the more direct ones. But the touch of the Mythos is definitely there!
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foksieloy
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Eleven doesn't seem like she would be fun to play. The most boring thing in Arkham is being delayed and arrested, and she will be getting plenty of it.

I think she would be under performing even without that penalty, due to low stamina/sanity.
 
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Matt Smith
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Hmm, well, so far as it goes, if she stays out in the streets fighting monsters, rather than visiting locations, the arrest chance doesn't come up--which admittedly isn't the most thematic representation either. I'll see if I can't tweak things to bring her Stamina up to 5, and perhaps instead of an ongoing chance to get arrested, she gets an extra penalty if she is arrested. Losing Stamina or Sanity, perhaps, or even adding a Doom token, since the experiments done on her opened the Gate and let the monsters in in the first place? Or maybe tie the arrest chance specifically to stable locations?
 
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Marco Donghi
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Nice idea!
- Mind Flayer: Physical Immunity and Magical Resistance makes it very very tough! Is this something we've seen in official AOs? I'd remove the magical resistance. Or else, you can say Eleven ignores its magical resistance, if you prefer.
- Eleven: I'd give her 4 Stamina and 6 Sanity. Prohibit her to use locations to heal herself (Hospital, Asylum, and similar locations on other boards). If she does, she's automatically arrested, maybe?
- Will: "This ability does not work when drawing locations encounters in Arkham": that's redundant. Also, you say "when drawing location encounters in Other Worlds": they are actually called Other World encounters.

Something that you could use:
- The flayer could have an harsher effect that gives out pacts and reckoning cards more often
- Joyce could have an effect that lets you discard a pact card, to counter the AO.
 
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Matt Smith
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We've definitely seen at least one Ancient One with both Physical and Magical Immunity. I can certainly see my way to removing the Magical Resistance--though Eleven's 'fight' with it at the end of Season 2 was thematically a lot more victory by Gate sealing than by beating the AO in combat.

I'll see about making those revisions in Will's texts, though since it's a renaming of an existing ability, I think it's exactly the text that Strange Eons loaded for me.

With Eleven, I almost wonder if I shouldn't boost her Stamina over her Sanity--while she is a tiny girl, hey psychic nosebleeds show that she's definitely a 'cast from hit points' type, and that ability is more attractive with a higher Stamina pool. Plus, she *is* mentally traumatized, so I'm not sure sky-high Sanity is the most thematic, either. I like the prohibition from using stable locations to heal herself--with the further caveat, perhaps, that if she would be sent to the Hospital or Asylum by taking too much damage, she instead gets Lost in Time and Space--per throwing herself into the Upside Down when she overexerted herself in the final battle of Season 1.

That's a very fitting addition to Joyce's card. Probably situational enough that I can add it wholesale, maybe knock her Focus back down to 1? Something like an Upkeep ability to allow an ally in the same location to discard a pact card at the cost of 1 Stamina damage, since the exorcism in Season 2 took a jab with a hot poker to complete?
 
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Matt Smith
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Some disconnected thoughts on other possible characters:

* Dustin Henderson might start with a Young Zoog Ally to represent D'Artagnan, the immature Demogorgon he unwittingly adopts. Or Professor Armitage, representing the boy's science teacher Mr. Clarke--Dustin is usually the one to get information out of Mr. Clarke about sensory deprivation tanks, dimensional theory, etc. Or maybe just generally a facility for gaining Allies? Not only does he tend to be the point of contact with Mr. Clarke, he also fairly handily got Steve involved again in Season 2, and he's generally the friendliest of the main party. Probably a bit Lore focused, as he's often the one to find metaphors and analogies that help the party understand the supernatural forces they're up against. He also figured out that the gates in the series could be located with compasses--maybe he has the Find Gate spell?
* Jonathan Byers starts with the Hand Camera item. Haven't a clue what his ability should be, though.
* Pity there's no baseball bat item for Steve Harrington. He tends to shine in taking care of and defending others. Perhaps the Synergy ability would be appropriate?
 
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