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Lobotomy» Forums » Variants

Subject: Some homebrew rules rss

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Robin Pfeifer
Germany
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My playing group and I tried playing Lobotomy according to the rules a couple of times but never got even close to having a slight chance of winning any scenario we chose or drew. And there were a couple of things I didn't like at all, for example how invincible processions of monsters assemble to be a pain to move, how doors were handled and some others. There seemed to be some wasted tactical potential, too. So I came up with a number of house rules, and when we played with them the game became much more enjoyable for us (and we actually won a scenario, even though just so).

So here are the rules:

1. Monster Movement
In order to make monster processions rarer and monster movement in general a bit less tedious: basic monsters move only if they have line of sight to a character or if a character is in their quarter. Characters on the border between quarters count for both quarters. Elite and boss monsters move normally.

2. Doors
What irked me most was how the locked door with value 5 in one scenario made a vital room practically inaccessible to a character with imagination 6. If you do the maths, the chance to open the door is about 10% in the first action and drops to 1% in the second in that constellation. I see no reason why opening a lock should become harder to do if you continue trying. So there are two possible solutions: either instead of making the second attempt harder make it easier by lowering the value of the lock - the waste of time at low imagination is enough. Or collect successes while not changing the value. The latter is what we are using.
Furthermore, I didn't like how doors were simply passable to monsters unless someone tested them first - for which there usually isn't enough time. So we set the game up with the door counters and the standing doors. When a monster wants to pass through a door it opens it the same as a character, using an action. Basic monsters may not pass barricaded or locked doors at all. Elite may attack it and destroy it by accumulating successes as per the number on the counter; (mini-) bosses pass the door and destroy it automatically. We use empty counters to mark destroyed doors. Because:
I feel it would be nice for the characters to be able to close and barricade doors, even those which were not highlighted in the first place. Open doors have no counter or door token at all. A simply closed door is marked with one of the standing doors and no counter, a barricade can be created using actions much like when breaking barricades down. So 4 actions buy you a 4 point barricade.
When the key token is not used in the scenario we spawn it on the board as a general key. A character holding that key may unlock locked doors for an action and vice versa: when he locks the door he draws door counters until a lock is found and puts it on the door.

I am also thinking of equipping the nurses with keys. Nurses then may take an action to unlock doors they pass and free stuck monsters. Characters who kill a nurse may take the key and lock doors.

3. Scenarios
Instead of setting the number of scenarios at the beginning the players decide to include a further scenario and / or a special monster only when the trigger point of a scenario is reached. That way you can "buy" a scenario to make the Warden's path longer at the price of getting more problems. And you can map the playing time to the actual time spent.

4. Small rules

Tantrum 2 is a variant permitting the use of a point of insanity to make all monsters in a distance of 5 steps move towards you instead of someone else. Less predictable variant: in a distance of 2D6 steps.

Another Insomnia Shift option: if you choose not to do anything at all in your turn (no action, no skill use, just skip the turn) you may set back the Warden 1 step. This can be done only once per character and quarter of the Insomnia Track.

Some of these rules definitely make the game easier to win, but losing absolutely all the time without seeing even a slight chance of winning unless you repeat scenarios again and again isn't exactly what makes me put the game on the table more often. IMO games should be enjoyed, not suffered (with the possible exception of This War of Mine).

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Martinus Curiosus
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Though I can't say that I have experienced the same problems regarding difficulty, you are totally right with your tips about gameplay. (Have thought around very similiar lines of point 1) and 2) myself.)

I will therefore piggyback on this thread and make two other suggestions in addition:

i) color of the star on a movement card - green: as per your suggestions, blue: basic monsters move as well, red: basic monsters move as well and all not barricated doors are considered open for the duration of this monster turn.

ii) Rest: Once per round you may spend two action points to regain one point of sanity or up to two action points to lower skill cooldown by one per action point.
Intention: it's just not fun when you have action points left but nothing to do with them and some characters just need to be able to spend sanity once in while to be of any use in combat at all.
 
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Robin Pfeifer
Germany
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We played a six-hour game with three players yesterday using the rules I posted here, and it was a fun session for all of us. The rules changes which actually had effect on the game this time were mainly the movement restrictions for basic monsters, the doors stopping basic monsters when locked or barricaded, and the optional selection of a new scenario at the trigger point without setting the number of scenarios at the beginning. We actually played four.

We used Ellen Ridley, Dayle Walker, and BJ Dolly for characters. The scenario changes for three players were mostly very helpful. The first scenario was Moon Shadow Ritual.

This one was dealt with very quickly, the witches could not collect more than one or two herbs each, and they were defeated even before they could come near the pentagram. We drew a second scenario and revealed the Day at the Circus. We were very lucky at that point: Dayle Walker was on his way to Baba Yaga, who was just waking up, and the Clown materialized right next to her. His only option to get to a non-boss monster was through Dayle, and he ended his movement on Dayle's space. While the scenario doesn't explicitly say so, we decided that the Clown does not ignore Dayle but attacks. However, the next round Dayle retaliated, and the Clown was killed without having had the chance to put even one prank marker. We triggered a third scenario, coming up with Asylum Field Day.

We ganged up on Baba Yaga and defeated her. Two scenarios were solved. For Asylum Field Day we decided to continue spawning monsters two and three from the movement cards instead of one and two because there just weren't any nurses to get otherwise. We had numerous setbacks, when green or blue stars removed successes. However, we eventually managed to kill the required mental patients, collect the items, and the memory tokens. We had decided that the stars could not cancel a solved task, only partial successes. So at that point we triggered a fourth scenario, Momma's Home-cooked Dinner.

While so far this sounds like a breeze it should be mentioned that nevertheless all characters died at least once. The Warden reached the fourth and final quarter. During that phase we also used the home rule of skipping one's turn completely to set the Warden back one space. In the end that was not necessary to win, but it left us with time enough for a Plan B, which we didn't need.

Luck was with us in the Dinner scenario again. One girl materialized right next to Ellen. The other two were easily reached. Momma didn't even get close to us, while we exorcised the first two. We didn't clash at all with Mommy and only Dolly had to play hide-and-seek with her around the cells. She exorcised girl 3 and was subsequently attacked and killed by Mommy, but we then dispatched her. Meanwhile we had also got the three nurses, so only the scavengers remained.

Dayle was on the spot when Mommy was destroyed and gained the bomb memory. This gave him a plan. There was one room with locked-in scavengers and patients, and Dayle went there, undid the lock and used his acrobatics and the placement of the bomb in such a fashion, that he could trigger the bomb when five scavengers were on its space. They were obliterated, the scenario solved, the game won, with the Warden reaching room 8 on the final quarter as the furthest point.

The special rules for three players had much more impact on the positive outcome than our rules changes, I think. And the stroke of luck with the Clown was very important probably.

We had a lot of fun playing this game and were astonished to find it had taken us six hours to play. While all our games using only the rules as printed had been frustrating and tedious, this one was cool and funny, while not seeming too easy. No special monsters had been used, but I think in future we will not be so cautious.

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