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(AH-Horror at Kingsport) Guardians anti-thematic?


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#1 silenceindigo

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 02:37 AM


Call me a purist, but I have some trouble with the August Derleth-inspired concept of "Guardians" in Kingsport Horror, which dilute the hostile universe metaphor which drives the Lovecraftian thematic so much. After all, if cosmic allies help you, the universe isn't so desperate and the tension isn't as high... no?

Do others find that Guardians are counter thematic for Arkham Horror, ambience-wise?



#2 Dam

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 02:42 AM

A crutch for those who can't handle the "real" Arkham, that's what they are  !

 

Why make Arkham easier? Just ruins the sense of accomplishment.


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#3 bioball

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 03:12 AM

I just view them as another mechanism Kingsport includes that allows the difficulty of the game to be adjusted to your tastes. Bast has little influence, Nodens a little bit more and Hypnos adds a lot with doubling the clue tokens. No real difference between these mechanics and the cards that are included in the Black Goat expansion.

I really don't view them as against the theme, but I could see how future gaurdians should require the investigators to give up something before passing out the benefits. This might bring them more in line theme-wise by reinforcing that the gardians are not really helping the humans, but it just so happens that the humans' desires fall in line with whatever plot the gaurdians have going on (which is just as unknowable to humans as the GOOs designs are).



#4 jgt7771

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 04:36 AM

The Guardians aren't "helping" anyone but themselves.  Their agendas may happen to coincide with the Investigators' goal, but us Third Rock monkeys are still being used by forces we don't understand.  Humanity barely registers on the Ancient Ones' radar; what makes you think the Elder Gods have taken any more notice?

Well, that's what dawned on me when I started reading those "delightful" dreams Hypnos sends on each of his cards.  Yay, new Clue on the board...shame I spent the night tossing in nightmares and bolting awake in a cold sweat.

The enemy of my enemy may be my friend...or he may be just another cosmic menace that, at the moment, is the lesser of two evils.


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#5 Victimizer

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 05:21 AM

Personally, I think Arkham Horror has a very Brian Lumley feel to it, which itself has heavy leanings on Derlethian concepts; I.e. battling mythos entities which should not be destructable by regular folks and their resources (Star Spawn, Shoggoth, any of the ancient ones). So I think the Guardians fit in very well with the whole elder-sign-chuckin'-clobberin'-fest that constitutes Arkham Horror.

I'm pretty darn purist myself, but given that there are very few cthulhoid games out there which could be said to be aimed at purists (which are mostly a bunch of insane and fractured mini-sub-groups anyway), I can live with non-purist games that are fun and, at the very least, steeped in theme. Arkham Horror does this pretty well I think. If Derleth's war in heaven concept is a bother, it can be easily truncated from the game (but if one does so for reasons of theme, one might consider removing other items linked to the elder gods as well. Yes, it is possible that the elder sign was manufactured by beings other than the elder gods, but there are still things in the game which refer more directly to the elder gods).

That having been said, I enjoy Richard L. Tierney's re-envisionment of the elder gods as 'The Lords of Pain', basically shaping them more clearly into a group which functions as jgt777 describes, although with a bit more sinister slant - i.e. their ends are ultimately as bad for humanity as those of the Great Old Ones. Not that those two groups have anything specifically against us in the first place, we just happen to be in the way of their planned galactic infrastructure. Or something less knowable.

 



#6 Foxburr

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 09:42 AM

My post will seem trite in comparison to the last two, which were topical and cerebral.  Cthulhu themes not withstanding,  I think the guardians as a game mechanic weaken the central conflict of Arkham Horror: man against universe.  The game is only as gratifying as it is challenging, and guardians seem to take away from the challenge.



#7 fnord

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 10:34 AM

Victimizer beat me to the Elder Sign comment... lol

Likewise, playing more than a one or two player game would also be "Anti-thematic" , as Lovecraft's stories usually were based around Lone investigators, "The Call of Cthulhu" and "At the Moutains of Maddness" are probably the two exceptions as both involve exibitionary teams. (Though technically Call of... is one investigator piecing togeather stories from documents and witnesses)

Also, all three Guardians we have are based on Lovecraft stories, Hypnos from the self titled poem, Bast was written about by Lovecraft due to his love of cats (though primarily appeared in tales by Robert Bloch) and Nodens from the story "The strange High house in the mist". As Kingsport is oft the centre of Lovecrafts Dream cycle stories, the guardians included with that expansion are actually all theme appropriate.

It is also implied in "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" that the Elder gods are just Nylathotep in disguise... (I'll turn off Mythos geek mode now :P)

I honestly play every game with Hypnos, mechanically he seems to add the most to the game by encouraging exploration of stable locations.



#8 Bad Dog

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 01:39 PM

I don't see the Guardians as weakening the game; they are included as a balancing mechanism.  You can add Heralds to make the game more difficult, and Guardians to make the game easier.  I know that the idea of adding anything that makes Arkham Horror easier might grate on the nerves of some of you (and I can sympathize, because I actually like to see the AOs win ), but a lot of players would cease playing the game if they could not maintain a reasonable win:loss ratio.  As much as I enjoy playing a challenging game, I also enjoy playing it with other people; so at times it is not unreasonable to play a less difficult game.  Even you die-hard, no Guardian using, players must play a game against Yig or Nyarlathotep every once in a while (come on, admit it).  Sure, some of the game mechanics may seem a little more action movie-ish rather than horror movie-ish, but if you were only going to play a "purist" game, then every AO would look like a variation on Azathoth.  "AO awakens; you lose puny mortal!" .   If the game was designed to only appeal to "Lovecraft-zealots" then it would probably have died out long ago from lack of support.  So come on, let FFG know that you still love their game (even Kingsport, guys), and they will keep on making this great game.

Thank you FFG!



#9 silenceindigo

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 01:49 PM

I didn't mean to nitpick; my perspective aligns with Foxxburs, considering that making the game easier tones down the despair tone. I don't like Derleth's Greek elemental influences on the mythos, but I understand that FFG needs to make a business; while I do like Dunwich Horror's small town emphasis, I remain skeptical of the Guardians as a benefit to a feeling of oppression and hopelessness. After all, this is a rare game where losing is fun... Very Lovecraftian indeed!

Anyone has experiences to share about the way using extension "crutches" affects gaming ambience? I had players get the creeps since we favour playing AH in candlelight, with creepy music, and I happen to live far in the woods...



#10 silenceindigo

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 01:57 PM

And I DO am a Lovecraft purist geek...



#11 Victimizer

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 08:13 AM

fnord said:

Victimizer beat me to the Elder Sign comment... lol

Likewise, playing more than a one or two player game would also be "Anti-thematic" , as Lovecraft's stories usually were based around Lone investigators, "The Call of Cthulhu" and "At the Moutains of Maddness" are probably the two exceptions as both involve exibitionary teams. (Though technically Call of... is one investigator piecing togeather stories from documents and witnesses)

Also, all three Guardians we have are based on Lovecraft stories, Hypnos from the self titled poem, Bast was written about by Lovecraft due to his love of cats (though primarily appeared in tales by Robert Bloch) and Nodens from the story "The strange High house in the mist". As Kingsport is oft the centre of Lovecrafts Dream cycle stories, the guardians included with that expansion are actually all theme appropriate.

It is also implied in "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" that the Elder gods are just Nylathotep in disguise... (I'll turn off Mythos geek mode now :P)

I honestly play every game with Hypnos, mechanically he seems to add the most to the game by encouraging exploration of stable locations.

"The Dunwich Horror" short story has a cast of multiple investigators in what is probably one of the most archetypal Arkham Horror-esque story (minus the gazillion amounts of firepower in Arkham Horror, of course).

Also, because I'm a compulsive nitpicker (sorry! :P ):

 - Hypnos is a short story, not a poem.

 - "Dream Quest" makes no implication that the elder gods are Nyarlathotep in disguise - the elder gods did not yet exist as a concept by the time "Dream Quest" was written. Perhaps you are thinking of Nyarlathotep's title as the "Soul and Messenger of the other gods". The Other gods is a nebulous term which is never really clearly defined, but has been used irregularly for every group of deities present in the Cthulhu Mythos, if one cares to make distinctions between them beyond "Elder Gods" and "Great Old Ones", that is.

 

@Bad Dog:

I agree mostly. But a "purist game" would definately feature entities which were les formless than Azathoth (just look at Cthulhu and Yig). I suppose support would indeed be lacking if Arkham Horror's System were changed to be more purist (i.e. less able investigators more pwoerful monsters, ancient one combat basically being a "haha, you guys r insaen nya!", etc.) - however, a purist game in and of itself can be made in such a way as to be a profittable business venture - it just wouldn't play like Arkham Horror. At all.

That being said, Arkham Horror is fun to play, and at least overall meets the "darn we're screwed" criteria, if not the, to me personally more important, "I'm a normal person, what the hell am I supposed to do to get through this crazy stuff?" factor. Fortunately, all my friends have been Cthulhu Mythos indoctrinated or are simply really into challenging games, so 'losing' has been a fun and entertaining experience so far.



#12 spirit

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 11:32 AM

Victimizer said:

fnord said:

 

 

That being said, Arkham Horror is fun to play, and at least overall meets the "darn we're screwed" criteria, if not the, to me personally more important, "I'm a normal person, what the hell am I supposed to do to get through this crazy stuff?" factor. Fortunately, all my friends have been Cthulhu Mythos indoctrinated or are simply really into challenging games, so 'losing' has been a fun and entertaining experience so far.

There is something satisfying about being utterly slapped by the great old ones. Those are the games that do feel closest to the original feel of H.P Lovecraft's stories.



#13 fnord

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 11:38 AM

@ Victimizer

Yeah I actually checked both stories when I got home... lol

This thread almost makes me want to write up a "Purist" scenario for the game lol....

 



#14 MrsGamura

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 12:48 PM

Hypnos makes  Yibb-Tstill harder.



#15 MrsGamura

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 12:48 PM

Hypnos makes  Yibb-Tstill harder.



#16 Gallagen

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 01:14 PM

I liked the theme of the Guardians, especially Bast. But unfortunately I never use them (except maybe Hypnos), they dont really add anything to the game, although Hypnos increases exploration of Stable Locations (which I think is an issue that needs to be addressed), Bast Rarely Affects the game, and Nodens blessing idea is cool but isn't implemented that much. The Heralds on the other hand generally give a huge kick in the doom and gloom direction (King in Yellow, The Dark Pharoah), which kinda defeats the purpose of the Guardian/Herald idea.

Anyway thats my quick brief say, I would comment more on the theme but I really don't have enough of an idea of the Mythos to do this.

Leave it to the more corrup....experienced...






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