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Mansions of Madness» Forums » Variants

Subject: Suggestions for alternate rules on how to handle investigator death. rss

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Tobias Loeffler
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Nürnberg
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I'm a newcomer to MoM (and BGG for that matter), but the rule of just replacing a dead investigator with a new one has bothered me from the very beginning. On the other hand, sitting by while others play, because your character has died the perma-hardcore-gamer-death is no fun at all (at least for me).
Hence I tried to find a path between the two extremes. Please keep in mind, that I don't have that many games of MoM under my belt and some (or all) of these suggestions my be totally unbalanced. So please feel welcome to leave your comments and ideas.

I would suggest to roll a die to decide what happens, when an investigator dies. But if your group agrees, or the storyline would be perfect for a certain type of "cinematic" death, the keeper may as well just pick one of the options.

1) You come back with full health, sanity and skill points. You loose all trauma cards.
You live, but you made a promise in blood to an unspeakable, interdimensional entity. Whenever you get wounded, the keeper gains 1 thread.
"You watch in horror as your blood spills on the floor and immediatly vanishes. A ghostly sigh echos through the house, an eerie sound that seems to make the whole mansion shiver with excitement."

2) You come back with full health, sanity and skill points. You loose all trauma cards.
You live, but your have become a monstrosity. You induce horror in your fellow investigators. They now have to roll horror checks, whenever you enter their room or they enter yours.
"They have left you alone and you don't blame them. The sight of yourself in that mirror down the hallway has nearly driven you insane. Pale flesh, black, egg-sized boils covering your whole body, your lips missing, revealing big, yellow teeth in a demonic smile. Your eyes seem to glow as though that distant stars they have gazed upon in your moment of death still burn inside you..."

3) You come back with half of your starting health, sanity and skill points (each rounded down). You loose all trauma cards.
Hell itself has spat you back into the house. Place a fire token into the room you died in. All other investigators take 1 damage and 1 horror.
"The floor boards slowly begin to peel away as you drop to the ground. With dying but still unbelieving eyes you gaze into a fiery maelstrom of otherwordly hate and ferocity... For a short moment, there seems to be a skulllike face in the flames and as its jaws open to devour you, your world explodes into a blazing hell of fire and pain... As you come to, you are back in the house. You have now recollection of what happened in that other dimension or why you are not dead. You stumble to your feet. The whole room is on fire and you can hear the screams of horror from your friends... perhaps you haven't made it back after all..."

4) You come back with full health, sanity and skill points. You loose all trauma cards.
You live, but the sinister force that has brought you back has looked into the deepest chasms of your soul and thoughts. The keeper gains a skill token for each investigator. He may pay 1 threat and discard one skill token to have an investigator substract his luck value whenever the investigator would usually be allowed to spent a skill point to add his luck value. If the keeper uses this action, the investigator is not allowed to spent his skill point.
"You wake up and suck air into your lungs with a raspy sound. Your head is spinning and your heart pounding. Although the pain is gone and all your previous injuries have miraculously healed, you feel more uneasy then ever. You remember that eternal darkness that has starred at you from beyond time and space unraveling your mind, your body, your past and your future. You don't know why this... thing... brought you back to life, but the feeling of impending doom and failure is overwhelming..."

Update 04.02.2013 - Sorry for the slow progress on this, but I've got a lot going on at work atm.

5) Only the dark part of your soul returns from the void. Pick a new investigator. The keeper puts any one monster with a small base into the room you died in. Put a darkness token on the base of this creature.
Any room with this monster in it is treated as though it had a darkness marker in it. The monster has life equal to half the health of the dead investigator. It does 1 damage, has horror -1 and evade -1.
Special attack: WP -1. Success: Gain 1 horror "You hear clicking, hissing and snarling as the creature calls to the old ones. Although you don't understand the words, the mere sound of the ancient tongue fills you with terror."
Failure: Discard the weapon with the highest damage value. The monster now uses this weapon whenever making an attack (the monster only attacks investigators on its own space even if it uses a ranged weapon)
"You can't take it any more. You drop your weapon and press your hands over your ears. And than you SCREAM..."
When the monster is killed, all its inventory cards are dropped in the room it was slain in.
"You are still trembling from the nightmare that has woken you up. No matter how hard you clench the steering wheel of your car, the shaking won't stop. But at least that terrible vision has not returned. That vision of your brother, of that demonic mansion and of something else... something unspeakable, unthinkable... "Hold on brother, hold on a little longer, I'm almost there..."

Thanks for taking the time and patience to read this! (As you may have already guessed, English is not my native tongue.)

Cheers

Tobi
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Andrey
Russia
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It's really cool.
Please come up with more comebacks, maybe including effects for bringing new investigators instead of dead ones. And then we could make a nice deck of cards.
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Roberta Yang
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A lot of cool ideas here.

Though it's worth noting that #2 is actually an effect that already exists - it's one of the side-effect cards in Forbidden Alchemy.
 
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Tore Halvorsen
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The new investigator starts with a side-effect card?
 
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Jim Duchow
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Hmm, certainly a host of interesting ideas. I am left wondering what happens when/if this "revived" character dies again?

Looking at the ideas individually:

#1 just seems geared towards encouraging the keeper to shamelessly seek out the revived character and attack them to stock up on threat tokens, thus leading to the problem of what happens the next time the character dies.

#2 umm so now the revived character has to work through what's left of the game alone? (which would likely make them good fodder for another death) Because they couldn't just hook up with the party and walk with them because movement is not simultaneous so each time a new location was entered horror checks would now be par for the course.

#3 seems to me that if this death happens in the wrong location the task of the investigators may prove quite difficult to complete to say the least. Likewise since the dead investigator would, as i read it, be returning after their death I suppose they will be taking 2 dammage off the bat as their turn will end with their death.

#4 this one could really cause problems. Clearly the best use of this additional action you've engineered for the keeper would be to utterly sabotage the character with the highest luck, which could well lead to another death and more capacity to continue the onslaught of sabotaging.

To make a few comments regarding these ideas in an overarching way and giving a nod to the theme of the game I must admit I am uncertain that they really fit. This is not a game about evil/the devil per se, the Cthulhu mythos is about Ancient Ones, very old beings that exist outside of our moral concepts. In that regard, you are adding another layer to an onion that really doesn't need it to start with.

I am uncertain what is so bad with the system as set. It seems to me that by forcing a selection of a new investigator who will have to start back at the beginning and play a bit of catch up you have a clear penalty for dying (as one would assume a person is likely to pick their preferred investigator to start with) and they have to spend turns getting back into position. It also seems to satisfy the need to maintain some sort of balance since the keeper was collecting threat based on so many investigators up to the point of death so without an additional investigator (assuming the death occurs before the final objective is revealed).

Just a few thoughts as I enjoy my morning coffee.

Jim

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Tobias Loeffler
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@Andrey: Thank you for encouragement! I'll think of something.

@Roberta: Although I bought Forbidden Alchemy together with the base game, I haven't played it yet. But thanks for pointing that out. I'm happy you like my suggestions. I've read quite a lot about the game here on BGG (and therefore a lot of your very good and honest reviews) So I don't take your opinion lightly on this

@Jim: Thank your for thoughts! Very appreciated.

1) I'm with you on this one. It might indeed be a problem in monster-heavy scenarios. One idea with this comebacks was to give the investigators a new mini-task or force them to apply new tactics. In this case they should try to protect their cursed friend. To address the problem of a second comeback: Either their could be follow-up event, if you've taken a certain "death-route" or the investigator just dies for good. From my limited playing experience it doesn't happen too often that you can kill an investigator 2 times during the course of the game without neglecting your real objectives.
2) Perhaps this should be tweaked, so it gives you a way to stay with the group. Perhaps something along the lines of: Investigators don't have to make horror checks if you move into their room, if they started their turn in the same room with you.
3) Do you mean because of the fire? Could you give an example why yo think this could be problem? Thank you!
4) You may be right there again. I didn't thought of it as a way for the keeper to screw the investigator with the highest luck. I hope I can get a better feel for the balance after a few plays with these rules...
Concerning theme: I'm no Lovecraft expert but for my imagination of the stories happening in MoM it doesn't seem totally out of place for an investigator to be brought back from death by a sinister force or some old god. But I don`t want to "fight" over this. I would still think you are a nice guy, even if you put flavour in your morning coffee
The old system: Most of the people I know tend to identify with the character they play in a game. The few times an investigator died during one of my sessions and was replaced with a new one, tension at the table just dropped to zero. Perhaps it is just a problem with the guys I'm gaming with, but I found the introduction of a new character anti-climatic everytime it has happened.

Tobi
 
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David Botartt
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I personally don't like the idea of investigators returning; I think it undermines the scariness of death in the game. Also, it creates a weird game dynamic of both the Keeper and Investigators trying to time the character's death; another thematic buzzkill. I find it pretty rare that one character dies much before the others, but one thing we sometimes do is allow for a reinforcement Character to arrive. Pick beforehand, roll D6 after each event. If you roll the Event number or less, place new character at start space. Or, just allow it to arrive at a certain event...perhaps the event after they die...
 
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Byron Campbell
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I'd also like to cast my vote in favor of a deck of these. I love the theme you've implemented and the various penalties that are applied to the investigators (to discourage suicide). I'm not familiar enough with the side effects deck to see if just drawing one of those would be a suitable replacement. If you do make the deck of cards, I think the "investigator must roll to respawn" idea should be included. I do agree that having to play catch-up can be punishment enough, especially when the keeper's objective is to kill investigators, but it still seems odd that the investigator players essentially get free "full heals" before the reveal.
 
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Eric Devlin
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Hey guys, long time lurker, first time poster here. My gaming group often does Investigator choice by random at setup (pick a card, any card!) which can sometimes lead to hilarious results (our big body-builder friend; of course he gets Gloria Goldberg lol), although I realize not every group enjoys that or likes having to adapt how they play a character/game, so when we have new players we always let them look through the characters and then either pick their favorite or pick random, up to them. We do much the same on Investigator death, which does add a bit more incentive to stay alive, as you are never quite sure who you are going to get waltzing into the mansion.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
One time, on Classroom Curses, our Michael McGlenn went insane and killed himself while we were fighting the boss witch *objective and not been revealed yet*(after taking some shots at our other investigators, of course. The Mi-Gos had to kill an investigator, and of course the random new investigator was Harvey Walters, with all of his 6 health. So the objective was revealed right after the suicide, Mi-Gos pop out and head straight for poor old Harvey at the front door so he hides himself in the Coat Storage to save a few turns (Warding Statue really helped here). We made the mistake of sending the Doctor to go help him, although he ended up getting stalled, and didn't make it in time to heal him a bit. Harvey died when we were 1 damage away from killing the boss witch. If only we had gotten a stronger investigator OR if we had not sent the Doctor to try and save him, I'm sure he could have slapped her in the face for 1 damage in 3 or 4 turns.


We usually have a good laugh imagining how it is for the new investigator. "'Ashcan' Pete walks into the Mansion, sees an old man dead at the top of the stairs, so he loots the body and finds a shotgun. He wastes no time testing it on the nearest door and hears a man scream. He runs down the stairs towards the door to try and escape but the door is now locked. Suddenly, a woman runs out from the door Pete shot, down the stairs and slams her head against the walls, killing herself on the spot." Not really what I would call a 'good' Sunday night for 'ole Pete lol.

So try the random investigator choice if your group is open to it, I realize that many are not, especially those just starting to learn how to play MoM or other such board games, but I feel it makes it interesting, not having death allow the investigators to tailor-make their Objective Party, but having the possibility for it to be really good or really bad devil

P.S. I do think your comeback mechanics are cool and enjoyed reading them!
 
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Tobias Loeffler
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First things first: Thank you all for reading and commenting!

@Cabotratt: For me it's just the other way round. There is no need to identify with your character, to fear for his death, when you know he'll just be replaced by another one. For me this game is about theme and story-telling (well, sort of at least) and I think it is a bad story if your heroes become just interchangeable stats and numbers.

@kittenhoarder: Yeah, I plan on getting up to 10 or so choices so they go well with the included die. You could choose then to either:
- Roll to check IF you respawn. If you don't, a new investigator is put into play as usual. If you respawn, you do a second roll to decide the way you come back. Or:
- Include the possibility of a new investigator showing up in the respawn deck.

@TWKSmash: I like your idea of randomizing the investigators. I will suggest it the next time we play. Although I think it won't make a big difference atm, as our groups just starts to explore this game.
 
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Jan Meyberg
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Hello Tobias,

I do definitely think your ideas add some more spice to a really great game!
I tend to play MoM as the keeper more as a RPG-dice-master, thus your ideas are great for my gaming group!

What about
5) With blood covering your face you are perfectly clear: This is your last breath. Your broken body demands it's toll as you hear a clear voice: "Hello, anybody in here?"
As you pass away one last thought drifts through your mind: "My friend found my letter! Dear me, it's just seconds too late! May his fate be brighter than mine..."
Discard your investigator. Start your next turn with a new investigator in the Starting Space as per standard rules.

?

Keep up your great work!
Greetings, Jan
 
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Tobias Loeffler
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Hi Jan,

thank you for your kind words. From what you write, I think we have quite a similar approach to the game. It's like a rpg session on a diet. I like to watch the story unfold and with the right guys in your group you can really have a great time with this game. (Just this friday we had a game where one guy got the "Kleptomania" trauma and totally went for it. When the end boss showed up, he propably needed a mule to carry all the equip, while the rest of the group had nothing left besides a single gun...).
I really like your suggestion. I think it's not the mechanic per se of getting a new investigator that I find unfitting for the theme BUT the fact that it ALWAYS happens and that it happens with no regards to the story that is unfolding in the mansion.
I think both possibilites should exist (respawn and new investigator) - just spiced up a bit with more variations on the penalties for dying and more story to tell.

Cheers

Tobi
 
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