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Arkham Horror» Forums » Variants

Subject: Tweaking Magic rss

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Crusher Joe
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I have players that would like to use spells more in Arkham Horror if they weren't so problematic.

On reflection, I probably figured that we ALL do. Delving into magic in the HPL canon is a recipe for disaster, and the game designers seem to have put a lot of thought into making sure Investigators can't just go around firing off Magic Missile over and over again.

But I look at it myself and wonder if it's such a losing proposition to be a dedicated caster in a group (obviously not with the idea that it's one's "profession" like in fantasy games, where using it doesn't drive one insane).

Does anyone have any house rules or tweaks that make it just a little bit easier to use spells? And I do mean only a little. Right now, a reward of spells doesn't get the groan from my folks that being given a tome does, but it's close.

[Right now, I have the base game, DH, KiY, Lurker and Pharaoh.]
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Byron Campbell
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If you have Lurker, shouldn't that Herald be all you need?

Maybe I'm just not that great at the game, but I find spells totally useful, especially Find Gate.
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Joe Pilkus
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CrusherJoe,

I think that you might have seen my response over on FFG ~ and I know of a few people who use my variant.

Under the normal rules, you...

1. Dedicate the hand(s) necessary and "Exhaust" the Spell
2. Pay the Sanity cost for the Spell
3. Make a Lore Check
3a. If successful, the Spell works as advertised
3b. If unsuccessful, the Spell does not work, but you've still used those number of hands for the round

Under my variant:

1. Dedicate the hand(s) necessary and "Exhaust" the Spell
2. Make a Lore Check
2a. If successful, the Spell works as advertised AND you pay the Sanity cost for the Spell
2b. If unsuccessful, the Spell does not work, but you've still used those number of hands for the round

Spells still remain something dark and ominous, but only so, if successful...Rationale: If you failed the Lore check, the writings are incomprehensible and therefore don't cause the mind-bending Sanity cost as if you've actually understood what you're reading and deciphering in the ancient texts.

Cheers,
Joe/the Professor
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Matt Smith
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That's an interesting variant, Joe (i.e.: sanity cost only if the spell is successful). I'd be interested to know if it is a commonly used one, and what those who have adopted it notice about its effects on the game.
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Ryan
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I think the whole point of paying your Sanity cost Before is because the spell is just that mentally taxing whether it worked or not. Least - that is how I have always rationally looked at it... But it would be nice to have the game mechanics display the way you suggest!

The Professor wrote:
CrusherJoe,

I think that you might have seen my response over on FFG ~ and I know of a few people who use my variant.

Under the normal rules, you...

1. Dedicate the hand(s) necessary and "Exhaust" the Spell
2. Pay the Sanity cost for the Spell
3. Make a Lore Check
3a. If successful, the Spell works as advertised
3b. If unsuccessful, the Spell does not work, but you've still used those number of hands for the round

Under my variant:

1. Dedicate the hand(s) necessary and "Exhaust" the Spell
2. Make a Lore Check
2a. If successful, the Spell works as advertised AND you pay the Sanity cost for the Spell
2b. If unsuccessful, the Spell does not work, but you've still used those number of hands for the round

Spells still remain something dark and ominous, but only so, if successful...Rationale: If you failed the Lore check, the writings are incomprehensible and therefore don't cause the mind-bending Sanity cost as if you've actually understood what you're reading and deciphering in the ancient texts.

Cheers,
Joe/the Professor
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Blue 80
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It's a workable varient. I tried it out in a couple of games a little while ago. The main drawback was slowing down the turns due to more spell checks being made in a "I might as well" mindset.

Partly because of this spell casting felt less strategic, and a little less thematic, so I no longer play with this varient. However I might be tempted to use the rule again when playing with beginners, who may struggle with the amount going on and with when to prioritise spell use.
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Joe Pilkus
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To Matt: I can tell you, Spells are much more a forethought for the Investigators

To Ryan: Yes, I agree, as a war-game play-tester for Strategy & Tactics Magazine, I do want the mechanics of a particular rule explained with a bit of depth.

To Mark: That's interesting, I never would have thought that it would slow down the turn, unless your group have been completely discouraged by the thought of making the attempt, that Spells have become the things you discard for particular Rumors or fighting the Rat-Thing
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Jacob Busby
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This is the institution I came up with for a game that wants to emphasise spellcasters:

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Nick Wester
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CrusherJoe wrote:
[Right now, I have the base game, DH, KiY, Lurker and Pharaoh.]

That may be part of it. Take a look at Kingsport Horror, specifically the new mechanic they introduced in it--Personal Stories. They imported and adapted the mechanic from Android (another FFG game). Each Investigator has a Personal Story with a pass/fail condition. If you meet the pass condition you get a bonus, if you get a penalty. A couple characters (off the top of my head, Harvey Walters and Dexter Drake, I think there's a third, as well) have the bonus that they ignore 1 Sanity cost for casting spells.

For what it's worth, it's a good addition to the game regardless. Personal Stories balance the Investigators a little more, making up for deficiencies and toning down some of the stronger ones. Plus they're fun.
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Gil Winters
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My group plays with the "only lose sanity when spell is cast rule", with the following additional tweaks to make spell-use decisions less automatic/more interesting:

Sanity loss: Investigators only lose sanity if they fail their Lore check to cast a spell.
“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. [Note: The red die has no effect if the player fails their spell check - you only need to pay the sanity cost once]
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.
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.
Multiple spell copies: May only use 1 copy of a spell at a time. (No more +12 for 2 Shrivelings)
Bind Monster ‘chrome’: Bind Monster does not work on monsters with Magic Immunity, and suffer -2 dice on monsters with Magic Resistance.

With these rules, players in our group use spells more often than when we use to play with the rules as written (RAW), but the decision is often difficult, with the player sometimes agonizing/vacillating until finally making the decision to use or not use the spell.
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