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Balancing special abilities for new investigators


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#1 Braknil

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 07:33 AM

Hi everybody.

I'm creating a set of superhero inspired investigators for arkham horror. The idea is to create in the future a custom city, objects, encounters… all with the superhero theme to be used together.

What I want is to change the setting but keep the gameplay elements mostly untouched, because I love how AH is played.

I'm using the strange eons tool to create them, following the usual rules for skills, 25$ in gear, etc.  Since this set of characters are meant to be used independently from the original ones, it's ok to reuse special abilities with diferent description. For example Patrice ability could represent a psychic.

And there is the problem. I would like to create balanced investigators but I find some abilities too powerful (Patrice, Akachi) compared to others (Sister Mary, Harrigan). I could balance this by doing things like eliminating the Ominous Dreams part of Patrice ability or by giving her less starting clue tokens.

I've played some games of AH, but I'm no expert. That's why I would be grateful if you could tell me wich official special abilities should be modified in some way in your opinion. (I have basic AH and all the big box expansions, so I have all the investigators). Also, tell me if you have played with a good special ability you find to be balanced.

Thanks.

 



#2 Tibs

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 11:15 AM

Patrice:

-1 Focus. Investigators may only spend her clues for skill checks. Remove her "gain 5 clues at 9th doom token" ability entirely.

 

Daisy:

Don't give her the +1 focus the designers gave her. She can only use her spell-cost-reduction once per turn.

 

Wendy:

Wendy can't become the Deputy.

 

Mary:

In the absence of personal story cards, Mary should start the game with 3 additional clue tokens.



#3 Julia

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 07:01 AM

Tibs said:

Wendy:

Wendy can't become the Deputy.

This is also thematically coherent, I think, being she a minor


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#4 Wolfgar

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 02:42 PM

Is there any non-thematic reason to prevent Wendy from being Deputy? She doesn't seem like the streetsweeper type right off hand, an those tend to get Deputy in the games I've played.



#5 Tibs

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 03:59 PM

My answer to you is both yes and no. Since Wendy starts with an Elder Sign, she can typically get her first gate trophy faster than other investigators (at least, until Akachi came out). This means that she's more likely than other investigators to meet the requirements to become deputy, and I've seen her dredge up the Deputy cards more often than normal at the time. I found this whole mess unthematic so I added the house rule.

On further consideration, I guess the answer is "no."



#6 Braknil

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 11:12 PM

I agree with Wendy not being able to became Deputy. It's just too easy for her and also absurd being a child.

I like the "once per turn" restriction for Daisy.

Other abilities I find overpowered are Zoey Samaras, Hank Samson and Mandy Thompson ones. Zoey and Hank can be restricted by giving them to characters not very powerful in combat, but then I fear making them useless abilities being combat skills for a character not ment to fight.

Mandy is very diferent. That ability is powerful for any tipe of investigator, because it's a boost for the team, not just Mandy. How can it be balanced?

What do you think of Akachi? I find her to be very powerful. Maybe just giving her guardian of the veil and not secret rites?

On the other side I belive both Silas Marsh and Roland Banks received bad abilities. Roland receives a boost with his personal story. You think that's enough? What about giving Silas just the seman ability and not the negative tainted blood one?

 



#7 Jake yet again

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:10 AM

A number of the best and worst investigators were balanced out somewhat by their Personal Stories from the Innsmouth Horror. Obviously, this doesn't apply to Innsmouth characters (e.g. Patrice) as there had been less time for the fans to find the exploits, but pre-Innsmouth Investigators got a boost or a limitation with the addition of Personal Stories.

Back on your original subject, I personally like investigators that play in a very different style to normal ones, which is why I added a number of them to Lovecraft Country. (I also prefer investigators whose art styles that match the original game; it's a personal thing - if someone's gone to the trouble of finding the correct image, they've probably given a plenty of consideration about their investigator design too…)

When designing investigators, one way to counteract powerful abilities is to give them penalties. For instance, Father Ryan, being a priest, couldn't gain spells by any means and has to settle for a monster trophy instead, Alexander Thorne, a warlock who traded his soul with Nyarlathotep for temporal power, only gets one hand for weapons, as his other one is a permanent Wither. The potential very powerful Juan Cierva, is an amnesiac, so starts out with the Amnesia madness.

Lack of capability to become Deputy, take out a Loan or become Blessed are other examples. These abilities work best when they fit into the back-story - it makes sense that Wendy is too young to become deputy and the the force won't hire the ex-con either.


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#8 Tibs

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:26 AM

One possible solution to Mandy is that she doesn't re-roll the failed dice: she re-rolls all dice.

Roland's ability is on the weak side… that's why the designers gave him +1 Focus.

Silas's special ability is great. He can easily move between expansion boards from multiple access points, and the +2 bonus in aquatic spaces is top-notch. The Tainted Blood effect almost seems too weak. And it is, kind of—how often to you find Silas drawing Innsmouth Look cards, anyway?



#9 The Professor

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 04:03 AM

I absolutely agree that the Personal Sotries have helped nearly all of the Investigators, though there are a few, like Darrel Simmons whose PS Fail option is peculiar…I've house-ruled it to say "more than 5 Clue Tokens" as failing with five is debilitating in this game, especially since to Pass, I believe wastes far too many turns. 


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