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General Advice sought on homebrew Investigator resources


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#1 Wolfgar

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 06:09 PM

Basically, I'm putting together some homebrew items and skills and I wanted to know if there was any general advice or things I have to absolutely avoid when doing so. For instance, I know nothing should lower the Terror Track - you can have things that will prevent it's rise, but once it's up it stays. Is there anything similar to this, design wise, that I should look out for?

 

Also if anyone has any tips on printing out cards it could be helpful.



#2 Jake yet again

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 12:59 AM

No gates in stable areas.

Try to avoid effects that might mean that monsters go into the Asylum / Hospital.

As you have noted, no Terror Track lowering effects, but you can have effects that stop the TL from rising.

Don't create AOs / or Heralds that put all the Masks into play. Putting one into play (e.g. Dark Pharaoh Herald) is fine, but adding them all to the cup greatly diminish Nyarlathotep's uniqueness. Use other special monsters instead (e.g. Beings of Ib, Servant of Glaaki)

Don't make your monsters too tough. The Dunwich Horror has toughness 5, and is (and should be) the biggest, baddest regular monster in the game.

 

Personal Preferences

Give me something new and original, not just a re-skin using abilities that another investigator / Ancient One already has.

Use the correct artistic style, not just any old photo off taken from a web page.

Keep it in the timeframe, and preferably within the genre. Do your research.

If you build an expansion, make sure the investigators have sufficient reason to go there. It shouldn't be too overbearing, but you shouldn't be able to enirely ignore it either. Make sure that the investigators might want to visit the stable locations as well as the unstable ones, even if its only because some of your Mythos cards put clues there. (See Door to Saturn and Lovecraft Country for examples of this)

.eon files are wonderful things. They allow other players who admire the general conceit, but disagree with your some of your design decisions, to make their own minor variations on your theme.


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#3 Shining Aquas

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 05:43 AM

Jake yet again said:

Personal Preferences

Give me something new and original, not just a re-skin using abilities that another investigator / Ancient One already has.

Keep it in the timeframe, and preferably within the genre. Do your research.

These two points kind of stand out to me when offering advice on customs.

The first point is very important. Part of the charm in custom content is the ability to craft originality, either through function or design, and create an environment in which you experience something new that you otherwise wouldn't.  With custom content, I believe there should be a high priority in trying to recraft or test the limits of the Arkham experience, not simply rehash it.  So, more importantly than anything, never copy and paste the abilities of other Ancient Ones and Investigators unless you have a very unique approach to that mechanic.  I would also argue that with mechanics that operate on multiple abilities, synergy is excellent to keep in mind as it helps players bridge connections in theme.  Ex: Ancient One's ability is "Whenever an investigator loses sanity, they lose that much money as well".  Synergy would be making the Worshippers something like "Cultists and Maniacs now have a -2 horror check and deal 1 sanity damage".  Players will be able to think to themselves "Oh, if I fail the horror check on cultists and maniacs, I'll lose money.  Wait, that means if I fail any horror check, I'll lose money."

On the second point however, I couldn't disagree more.  While I do think it's nice to consider the time period of Arkham, I also feel that restricting all custom content to that very narrow window of time is actually quite limiting of creative expansion.  There's a lot that can be done with that time period, but there's infinitely more you can do when you allow yourself to expand into other times and other universes.  If you find something that drives an idea, like a character or setting, don't be afraid to use it.  I think it's great if you can manage to create content that remains within this universe if you can keep it interesting, but I really don't encourage forcing it to stay within the time frame.


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#4 Jake yet again

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 07:47 AM

Shining Aquas said:

On the second point however, I couldn't disagree more.  While I do think it's nice to consider the time period of Arkham, I also feel that restricting all custom content to that very narrow window of time is actually quite limiting of creative expansion.  There's a lot that can be done with that time period, but there's infinitely more you can do when you allow yourself to expand into other times and other universes.  If you find something that drives an idea, like a character or setting, don't be afraid to use it.  I think it's great if you can manage to create content that remains within this universe if you can keep it interesting, but I really don't encourage forcing it to stay within the time frame.

Ultimately it's just my personal preference, but Arkham is strong on theme, so I wouldn't be keen on seeing, say, a Personal Computer, in the Common Item deck. The anachronism destroys the pulp atmosphere.

That said, I don't have problems with any time period that keeps to the milieu of Weird Tales: the Dreamlands, Hyboria, Averoigne, Goatswood are all fair game (though the first two already have custom expansions). However, I would like to see at least some attempt at lampshading anything out of scope for the time period; you can't just hop on a boat in 1920's New England and turn up in medieval France, but I'm perfectly happy that a pulp hero might dive through a "rip in the fabric of space-time" to end up there.


Lovecraft Country Horror - A completely FREE Big Box expansion for Arkham Horror, exploring the minor locations of the Cthulhu Mythos. Contains: Lovecraft Country Board, 16 Investigators, 4 Ancient Ones, 16 Skills, 32 Common Items, 24 Unique Items, 10 Spells, 16 Music of Erich Zann cards, 76 Leads, 4 Allies, 32 Monsters, 24 Injuries and Madnesses, 54 Mythos Cards, 41 Outer World Encounters, 52 Location Encounters for each Neighbourhood.


#5 Julia

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 07:58 AM

Try to understand what part of the game you want to focus on. Don't create something that boosts one thing and another thing and a third thing mixing all together. Some internal consistency is always a plus. For instance, if you decide to create a Herald to work on the Terror track, try to focus his abilities in order that the terror track could actually rise! And so on.

But first of all: try to study as much of the existing stuff as you can. Try to understand why certain creations were created, and the way they affect the balance of the game.


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#6 Wolfgar

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 10:04 AM

Seems all common sense stuff then. I'll make sure to march out with confidence before everyone tears my works to shreds then. :P

 

Special note on art: I agree, and it's actually one of the things that most holds me back . Finding and editing a proper art resource can take quite literally all night.



#7 Jake yet again

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 12:40 AM

Yeah, I feel your pain. Google doesn't seem to have filters for artistic styles, though adding words like "painting" and "watercolour" sometimes improves the results set.

deviantart is a pretty good site, as you can choose the art style. Checking out Old Masters can occasionally yield results, if you're drawing on mythology. Old pulp magazine covers make good resources too.


Lovecraft Country Horror - A completely FREE Big Box expansion for Arkham Horror, exploring the minor locations of the Cthulhu Mythos. Contains: Lovecraft Country Board, 16 Investigators, 4 Ancient Ones, 16 Skills, 32 Common Items, 24 Unique Items, 10 Spells, 16 Music of Erich Zann cards, 76 Leads, 4 Allies, 32 Monsters, 24 Injuries and Madnesses, 54 Mythos Cards, 41 Outer World Encounters, 52 Location Encounters for each Neighbourhood.


#8 Grudunza

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 06:08 AM

Eh, I don't see why the Terror Track can't go down…  If there are rules in the game, character abilities are made to break them, and that's a more thematic one, anyway (if something positive happens, the town feels less terrorized… maybe a store opens up again).  But for something like that, I would make it difficult to accomplish, or couple it with a Herald or GOO that bumps up the Terror Track, so it's more of a push-pull kind of thing.  Same thing with gates in stable areas…  Never say never.  Point is, I don't think there are any rules when it comes to breaking the rules… as long as it makes sense and there's a way to do it that works well enough.  Don't do it for the sake of doing it, but there may be ways to mess with the system that are quite interesting and effective.

I totally agree, though, about making everything unique.  As dense as the game already is, there are still many, many ways to create new abilities that haven't been used already.  Sometimes I think there can't possibly be anything else that's new and interesting, but then an idea will come that opens up several new things.  I'm always disappointed when I see a new investigator (or GOO) but they've just copied pre-existing abilities.  Be creative!

I'm kind of in-between on the anachronism thing…  By and large, yes, I think it makes sense to stick to the timeframe.  All of the weapons and vehicles and items are meant to be 1920's, and it can seem a little weird to work outside of that.  For example, Indiana Jones works perfectly well in that timeframe, but X-Files doesn't.  That being said, X-Files was such a great fit in terms of the general setting (i.e., investigators trying to solve a paranormal case involving an alien/monster takeover), that I went ahead and did that, anyway, and I enjoy that variant a lot, some anachronism notwithstanding.  But as Jake suggests, you can possibly find ways within the overarching scope of things to make weird things work, like a "rip in the fabric of space-time."  And even then, I could see a computer as being some representation of a futuristic item, or an item that an advanced alien culture has developed which the humans of the 1920's need to figure out how to use when they find it.

Here's a thread on BGG with some notes on character creation, with comments from Kevin Wilson: http://www.boardgame...r-arkham-horror  There are a lot of "rules" there that I would consider very strong, but not necessarily absolutes.  Again… never say never.  Most of those things are already programmed into Strange Eons.

For images, you'll want to find the link for the Spanish forum where they post images from CoC.  Somewhere in this forum is the thread with that link.  Tons of great images there, which are in the exact style of the game.



#9 Julia

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 11:33 AM

Grudunza said:

For images, you'll want to find the link for the Spanish forum where they post images from CoC.  Somewhere in this forum is the thread with that link.  Tons of great images there, which are in the exact style of the game.

Here we go: http://www.sectarios...c.php?f=8&t=247


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#10 Dr.Faust

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 08:28 PM

Shining Aquas said:

 

On the second point however, I couldn't disagree more.  While I do think it's nice to consider the time period of Arkham, I also feel that restricting all custom content to that very narrow window of time is actually quite limiting of creative expansion.  There's a lot that can be done with that time period, but there's infinitely more you can do when you allow yourself to expand into other times and other universes.  If you find something that drives an idea, like a character or setting, don't be afraid to use it.  I think it's great if you can manage to create content that remains within this universe if you can keep it interesting, but I really don't encourage forcing it to stay within the time frame.

 

 

Ultimately it's just my personal preference, but Arkham is strong on theme, so I wouldn't be keen on seeing, say, a Personal Computer, in the Common Item deck. The anachronism destroys the pulp atmosphere.

That said, I don't have problems with any time period that keeps to the milieu of Weird Tales: the Dreamlands, Hyboria, Averoigne, Goatswood are all fair game (though the first two already have custom expansions). However, I would like to see at least some attempt at lampshading anything out of scope for the time period; you can't just hop on a boat in 1920's New England and turn up in medieval France, but I'm perfectly happy that a pulp hero might dive through a "rip in the fabric of space-time" to end up there.

 

Heh, I think we all know that Aquas is definitely not one to stay within the boundaries of pulp, so his response didn't surprise me, but yeah like most said, it's all about preference. If, say, you make an original character that is a fisherman from the 1990s rides the waves into the 1920s, he might have a common item from that period with him, but you would have to still tailor it to work in the universe. Say, he brought back a gun--obviously it would have limited use if those bullets weren't available in the 20s.

 

The only time I personally draw the line on making original content is when it absolutely cannot fit the theme or breaks the mold of the theme. For instance, taking someone like Dante from Devil May Cry or Buffy. While yes, they are indeed badass monster killers, the thing is they fight, on a weekly basis (or entry-basis in the terms of a game) sanity-shattering monstrosities and things that should not be. That removes from gameplay the fraility of the human characters (since obviously 'Sanity' and Horror just isn't applicable to those typesin my mind) and unless you were doing it just for fun or as a joke, (since it goes back to personal taste once again) I think maybe that sort of thing is better left for a more jovial thread than an actual serious game.



#11 Shining Aquas

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 06:42 PM


 

 

The only time I personally draw the line on making original content is when it absolutely cannot fit the theme or breaks the mold of the theme. For instance, taking someone like Dante from Devil May Cry or Buffy. While yes, they are indeed badass monster killers, the thing is they fight, on a weekly basis (or entry-basis in the terms of a game) sanity-shattering monstrosities and things that should not be. That removes from gameplay the fraility of the human characters (since obviously 'Sanity' and Horror just isn't applicable to those typesin my mind) and unless you were doing it just for fun or as a joke, (since it goes back to personal taste once again) I think maybe that sort of thing is better left for a more jovial thread than an actual serious game.

 

Hey man, there's nothing wrong with being jovial about a game with such serious encounters as "The Pinkish Rays nearly get you!" and "Your only escape route is to steal a Byakhee and some Space Mead".

 

I do stand by my statement that custom creation shouldn't be limited solely by time period and setting, but I have cringed plenty of times to people I know requesting I make X character from X action game into an investigator.  I will admit some creations will feel "wrong" within the Arkham atmosphere, more so than usual.  I know because I'm definitely responsible for a few in my earliest period of character creation, and I'm certainly responsible for at least a few creations that people here detest (and I'm okay with that).

 

In the nature of being out of theme, however, I believe there should be a large respect for scope: Don't create investigators out of Gods or Supreme Beings, or Ancient Ones out of everyday existences / people.  Your investigators should feel like they have some vulnerabilities, and the Ancient Ones should feel generally overbearing and somewhat non-contenstible.  Part of the fun in Arkham, afterall, is the feeling of attempting to overcome something far beyond your capabilities and outside of human conprehension.  The idea that a ragtag team of people are all that stand between an Eldritch being and their frail little town is compelling, so try to keep that feeling alive with whatever you create.


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