this is a very interesting topic. And I must say that I feel inclined to generally agree with what was being said. Now, why do I post then? Because I would like to add my 2c, a couple of new thoughts (unbelievable since there are already plenty of good points), and to "reactivate" my FFG-forum-entity again.
First of all:
- SolennelBern said: ... We immediately started arguying when he said to me: "You know, the Keeper is not there to win, don't throw every cards at us at once and place monsters everywhere. You're there to tell the story and blablablahhh...". ...
I need to disagree with your friend there. Although there is some truth in what he says especially about throwing around with monsters on each and every corner, the general point he takes about the Keeper not bound to win is completely wrong. On the one hand the rules of MoM tell you differently by
a) setting a specific goal for the Keeper to win as well as
b) explaining that the Keeper works against the cooperating Investigators aka the other gamers.
Just check it with what is described on pgs 1 and 14 in the Keeper's Handbook and also on pg 6 of the Rulesbook; you'll find this described in black on yellowbrownish or grey ...)
Furthermore there is no entry within the rulebooks that describe the Keeper as a storyteller. Right at the beginning of the rules there is a brief mentioning about all the gamers, i.e. Investigators along with the Keeper, to tell a thrilling and exciting story of true horror. But that's all ...
On the other hand - as being already mentioned - this is not an RPG, although it feels like it with respect to several game-concepts; and I doubt that this general rule about the Keeper/ Rolegame-Master being not bound to win is fully applicable on RPGs as well (which is arguable though) ...
I had some interesting and funny experiences in this game so far - five times I played it as a Keeper, and all the time I tried to be "polite" by keeping a low profile, explaining rules, throwing in some cooperative ideas. All this happened because I felt like a game-master of an RPG. And it even did not feel wrong doing so. Also the gamers realized that MoM is very complex and that I / we tried to stick as close to the rules as they are written down by the Great Old Ones of FFG ...
I only advanced against the players in accordance with the rules and tools I had, when there were pretty nasty situations by which I was able to catch the investigators flatfooted. And even then when I tossed tons of misfortunate tragedies at my gamers they still enjoyed the game a lot - mostly because then they realized that
a) I am not the nice guy I was so far and I had my own goals to win the game,
b) these things added a new level of complexity and problems to solve,
c) things happened as scarcely or were used as sparsely as good spice in a soup, and
d) it was well within what was allowed by the game-rules and evil game-schemes ...
During all the five games so far I happened to win in three sessions and loose two. And with the exception of one game all the different results were basically a surprise to me as well - especially since I sat around during the better part of the game not interacting too much. The reason for that is simple: Although I set up the game as described in the Keeper's Handbook, I did not care a lot about reading the different story-goals and clues etc. Therefore I blindfoldedly stumbled through the games as did the other gamers by investigating the Mansion, suffering from Madness and finally experiencing the utmost evil clowding above their heads.
During the one and last different game session I really did not have to do a lot about winning the game; because the gamers simply did not agree on what to do; they scattered around, argued (roleplayed) a lot and made it pretty simple for me to win, while they simply did as much wrong as possible and also suffered from bad luck in dicing; simply the time ran out for them ... Still: They enjoyed it. Me as well ...
So the points here are more then two things:
a) Cooperate with your gamers; since you are the Keeper you very likely are the one somehow "controlling" the game;
b) make the gamers feel like being in charge of the development of the story, because that's the way the game takes place(!)*;
c) be malicious every now and then;
d) don't forget your own goals during this game, i.e. don't forget to try to be successful in winning the game (what a mad sentence ...);
e) stick to the rules, then no harm is done and you won't even need to work with houserules;
f) enjoy the game together with your friends/ other gamers.
*Although there is the "artificial intelligence" of the game with the threat level gaining slowly and leading to a lot of stress within the story, it is up to the investigators to explore the Mansion of Madness; the Keeper only has at best some toons around and little opportunity to influence the things taking place; most of the time the Keeper is "only" the one managing situations popping in due to the actions of gamers and especially some incidents as the results of threat-levels and clues; only very few Keeper's Action Cards (don't know the proper English word for it ...) allow him to influence the game heavily - and even then he is restricted by the threat markers he may throw in to afford things like that ...
I hope all this makes some sense - somehowish.
Now something completely different:
When I read the rules of MoM the first time I had the impression that the game-developers had one thing in mind: There are several ways to be the more or less evil Keeper. As with the old Holes and flying Lizards game (due to trademark issues it might be a problem to write Dungeons and Dragons ... ooops!!! Now it happened ... ) I would like to differ between three different evil Keeper alignments:
-> lawful evil - you play along the rules, know your goal and try to get there - not with an inner drive, not on purpose, just in accordance to the rules and situations;
-> neutral evil - you know that you have a goal to reach, but maybe things take too weird turns, so let's see and maybe forget about options;
-> chaotic evil - do everything to kill the Investigators and maybe the gamers at the table as well ... (well, maybe not the gamers, but the investigators Yarrr!!!);
(other alignmets might available for Keepers as well, but what would be the point then to play a Keeper?).
Since this is up to the keeper to decide, there may be different expectations by the other gamers. That's why I suggest that - especially with experienced MoM gamers - you should discuss about the threat-level of your personal game-style as the Keeper before you start the game. Should it be more like sweet ice-cream with sugar on top and some fruits, or more like nightmarish-blood-spilling-soul-creeping hell ... ?
Years back when I was a gamemaster I started with discussing things like this before the game; and I also agreed with the other gamers how to deal with rule issues during gameplay. And since we treated and still treat agreements like these [b]more like guidelines[b] and not like heavy-duty-death-sentence-rules we very seldomly experience bad game-situations ...
All that being said: Am I a bad Keeper?
All the best!