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Subject: Playing the Keeper rss

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Todd
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Can the Keeper be played as a Dungeon Master (neutral, story teller) or does it have to be played in an adversarial manner? Can anyone comment who has played the Keeper?

Thanks!
 
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Chris J Davis
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Falcons wrote:
Can the Keeper be played as a Dungeon Master (neutral, story teller) or does it have to be played in an adversarial manner? Can anyone comment who has played the Keeper?

Thanks!


The game is designed to be played with an adversarial mindset, but I guess there's nothing stopping you from DM-ing the Keeper if you want to.
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Kevin Duffy
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You could take it easy if you wish by not playing really bad Trauma or Mythos cards on your opponents. You also do not have to move and attack all your monsters every turn. it's Keeper's choice. If they're doing badly you can ease up. Remember, the game has a built in timer though and I think if both sides are not aggressively pursuing their objective, the game might not have the tension it should. However, I think you could do it if that is a style you and your group would enjoy.
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Alex Coco
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I think the Keeper is very much meant to be played as a DM, but in a game setting wrought with danger, suspense, and the very real possibility the investigators will die and fail. In my opinion the keeper/investigator victory conditions are just plot points in the story that unfolds by playing the game and that winning/losing is secondary to the story and thematic feel created primarily by the keeper's play.

To be fair I have yet to play my first game (anxiously awaiting a Saturday game session), but my goal as Keeper will be to ensure that the investigator players really feel immersed in the story. As long as that happens I will have "won" regardless of which side achieves their victory conditions.

-alex


Edited for minor grammatical/spelling errors.
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Joe Connolly
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agcoco wrote:
... my goal as Keeper will be to ensure that the investigator players really feel immersed in the story. As long as that happens I will have "won" regardless of which side achieves their victory conditions.

-alex


This is exactly how I approach this game.
 
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Alex Martinez
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Having played the game a few times, I feel that the Keeper's role is adversarial. My games work best when the Keeper (always me so far) has kept a constant pressure on the Investigators and doing their best to win.

There is nothing wrong with the Keeper playing in a more Investigator-friendly way. And depending on the psychology of the group, this might even be necessary.

I find that the threat system for MoM is more balanced than in Descent, and that the Keeper never really has as many resources as he wants. Nothing is free for the Keeper and there are very few ways to gather extra threat,depending on the scenario.

In my last scenario, I was able to win as the Keeper but it required all my threat to do so. If I'd held back, their victory would've been assured. Whereas their near victory was more intense because it wasn't guaranteed.

But it does depend on your group. Play the game that you think will be the most fun.
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Brian Modreski
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Quote:
The game is designed to be played with an adversarial mindset...

The game is written to be played with an adversarial mindset, but it really doesn't seem to have been designed to be played that way. Taking full advantage of the keeper's resources can really make the game unfun, and I get the idea the designers never really considered the possible consequences of some of their cards.

Playing with the keeper as more of a DM works great though.

I think generally its sufficient for the keeper to play to be thematic - the keeper doesn't need to try to balance the game. IE; keep the monsters attacking and the bad stuff coming, just don't shove one investigator to the far side of the mansion so they can't really play or refuse to summon the monster that the heroes would need to kill to win.
 
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Tommi
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StormKnight wrote:
The game is written to be played with an adversarial mindset, but it really doesn't seem to have been designed to be played that way.


Game is written to be played as adversaries but its not designed to be? You do know that, that makes no sense at all? Just an attempt to but a positive spin on a "flaw".
Ofcourse its designed to be played that way, its been said everywhere and from the start.

Now, if the keeper needs to hold back so that the game is more tense and balanced, thats just because the game/scenario isnt balanced out of the box. Yeah playing more as a DM might make the game "better" for the investigators, but it surely wont be better for the guy playing the keeper imo.

Im still waiting for my copy but this is a bit of a turnoff for me as I know Im always going to be the keeper. I hate it in games like Doom, or Last Night On Earth when the games forces me to play like a sissy just so that the others have a chance.

Im sure I love the game, but if theres balance-issues I hope they fix them on the upcoming expansions. DM:ing in a game that is not designed to be played like a DM is more of a: "necessary house-rule".
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Lee Fisher
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Tomyrgon wrote:
StormKnight wrote:
The game is written to be played with an adversarial mindset, but it really doesn't seem to have been designed to be played that way.


Game is written to be played as adversaries but its not designed to be? You do know that, that makes no sense at all? Just an attempt to but a positive spin on a "flaw".
Ofcourse its designed to be played that way, its been said everywhere and from the start.

Now, if the keeper needs to hold back so that the game is more tense and balanced, thats just because the game/scenario isnt balanced out of the box. Yeah playing more as a DM might make the game "better" for the investigators, but it surely wont be better for the guy playing the keeper imo.

Im still waiting for my copy but this is a bit of a turnoff for me as I know Im always going to be the keeper. I hate it in games like Doom, or Last Night On Earth when the games forces me to play like a sissy just so that the others have a chance.

Im sure I love the game, but if theres balance-issues I hope they fix them on the upcoming expansions. DM:ing in a game that is not designed to be played like a DM is more of a: "necessary house-rule".


I didn't think "I get the idea the designers never really considered the possible consequences of some of their cards" was a "positive spin".
 
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Alex Martinez
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I will say that I think the Keeper role is perfectly well designed. It's true that the keeper has some powerful cards at his disposal, but he can never do everything he wants. And, unlike Descent, where threat was rarely a difficult resource to hold onto or acquire, the Keeper is constantly having to measure what he wants to do versus holding onto threat for the future. And even if the Keeper does manage to gather a lot of threat, he usually ends up spending it pretty quickly once he strikes.

As for the notion that the ability to get rid of weapons from Investigators is too powerful, that's just absurd. This is not a combat game. It's a horror-themed game. Investigators should never feel confident that they'll have their weapons at the ready. Saying the ability for the Keeper to take them away is too powerful is just silly. Investigators who throw a fit because they lost a piece of equipment need to grow up.

I get that there's a certain psychology at work here. The Investigators have no "secret" moves at their disposal. Everything they do is right there for everyone to see. The Keeper, on the other hand, has a more surprising role. He can do a great variety of things and many of those things can be frustrating to Investigators, who really have no way of directly attacking the Keeper. Emotionally, it can seem unfair to face an opponent who can strike at any time while you can do nothing directly agains them.

But this emotional response is incorrect. Everything the Keeper does is balanced by his need to be effective. The Investigators need to remember that the Keeper will constantly harrass them, but that he is not Omnipotent. He is still bound by the rules.

I've heard this sort of complaint about Descent too. It's somewhat justified in that game as the Overlord really isn't kept in check very well by the threat system of that game. But still, if players are too obsessed with control that they can't handle the idea of being assaulted by forces beyond their ken, why the heck are they playing a game like this anyway?

Seriously. This is Lovecraftian horror. Investigators aren't action heroes. They're hapless humans caught up in dangerous circumstances. Complaining that you lost your gun or got lost in the dark seems to be missing the point.

As a personal example, in a recent game, I used the Uncontrollable Urges action to cause an Investigator to discard a valuable lantern to damage a monster. I had to consider this action carefully because I was very low on threat. Destroying the lantern was useful, but it also did damage the monster. Still, the investigator wasn't planning on doing that just yet.

I ended up winning and the darkness penalty helped in that game. My opponent didn't whine that he was fighting monsters in the dark. He knew that was the kind of game we were playing.

I submit that instead of the quetion being, "Should the Keeper play like a DM?", maybe we should ask if the Investigators should play like characters? They shouldn't expect to win. And they certainly shouldn't complain when they are disempowered as disempowerment is the primary source of fear and horror.

If an Investigator bristling with weapons wades into a room with no fear, then the game is not going right. If players can't handle that they can die or be driven mad, despite their best laid strategies, then it's time to go play something else.
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Kevin Seachrist
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You can't lose as a GM. You can lose as a Keeper.

I play my first game of MoM this coming Friday, and will be the Keeper. I'm going to play to WIN the game because that's clearly the Keeper's goal if the game is played as written. There's only ambiguity in that goal if the person playing the Keeper decides to play that way.

I've been a GM in RPG's for many years. A player can't "beat" a GM because the GM can make the game impossibly difficult if he wants to be unfair, but the GM isn't out to "win". A GM's goal is to provide the group with encounters that will be a challenge, but certainly possible. The GM has all possible monsters in as great a quantity as he desires at his disposal, so clearly if a GM was playing to "win" he could stack the deck as ridiculously as he chooses.

If the encounter is too tough, the GM failed to design it properly.

In MoM, the design (and hopefully balance) is already built in, giving both players and GM the greenlight to play all-out. If the encounter is too tough, the game designers failed to design it properly.

Like the players themselves, a Keeper is playing within a confined set of rules and LIMITED RESOURCES. Even more importantly, he has a clearly written set of goals that will lead to a Keeper VICTORY. Now if a scenario is unwinnable for the players if the Keeper plays hardball, it's certainly legitimate for him to dial back a bit, but at that point it's compensating for a badly designed scenario.

Ultimately it seems a Keeper not playing to win is going to turn the game into a less enjoyable experience--this is a Lovecraftian nightmare, not a dungeon crawl. It's not a brash band of adventurers looking for their weekly smash and grab, it's a group of nervous investigators going into the mouth of Hell hoping to stop some emerging evil before they all get killed and the thing gets loose to terrorize the world.

Not sure you can really represent that feeling of imminent doom if you don't occasionally provide some doom.

The game is clearly designed for you to "pick on" the group. Plague them with madness and injuries. Kill them when you can. Then if the group (or what's left of it) win, they feel like they really did something remarkable...

They beat you.
 
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Brian Modreski
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Quote:
This is not a combat game.

That's one of the many problems with MoM. Its not supposed to be a combat game, but it IS a combat game.

Quote:
If the encounter is too tough, the game designers failed to design it properly.

Precisely. That's why the Keeper winds up needing to play more like a GM.
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Kevin Seachrist
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
If the encounter is too tough, the game designers failed to design it properly.

Precisely. That's why the Keeper winds up needing to play more like a GM.


I started a separate thread hoping to get some insights on which combinations of scenarios and choices produced unwinnable situations (or at least unwinnable to all but the most seasoned investigator players). There's 15 or so combinations. Are the unwinnable ones really that high a percentage?

I guess on a different note there seems to be two schools of thought in this thread for "Keeper as GM". One school sees the need stemming from an abusively difficult set of conditions for the investigators. It's unfortunate where this is true, since it reflects an imbalance in the game design.

The other school though is the Care Bear school where you really want to make things interesting, but don't challenge them to the point where the tension gets too high. That's often where I position myself as GM, in part because rolling a character takes time, and role-playing a character can be a considerable emotional investment, so infrequent deaths, when they occur, are major milestones in the campaign and often shattering experiences.

But I'm actually looking forward to being the Keeper in part because the Keeper has a completely unambiguous license to kill (and obviously license to madden).
 
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mateo jurasic
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jeez, ive played the keeper about 5 times, doing my best to kill the investigators, not doing anything nice (unlike in Descent, where I feel I have to ease off so i dont drive them to quit), and yet Ive only won once (lost twice, tied twice)

its way too early to start talking about flaws in a game that has been out for about 1-2 weeks, especially if you dont even have it yet.

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BT Carpenter
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Kill the investigators early and often. There are eight figures and they just keep coming into your house until the final objective is revealed and death is permenant...
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Jeremy Conser
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I personally had a blast playing the keeper, I tried playing as deadly as I could with the resources that I had at my disposal. I have never had that much fun playing the DM in other games. I kept telling my group that I felt so evil, but it is good to be evil right? I love the strategy involved with the keeper, it seems to be pretty balanced with threat, keeper actions and objectives given. We did make some pretty big rule mistakes in our first session. But I think I am pretty clear now on how the investigators/keeper should be played now after playing our first session and reading over the rules again.
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byronczimmer wrote:
Kill the investigators early and often. There are eight figures and they just keep coming into your house until the final objective is revealed and death is permenant...


I was just about to mention this myself. Why should the Keeper feel any pity for the players when they can just respawn at the entrance to the mansion with a new Investigator when they get killed? Admittedly, there is a cap on the number of respawns but at least each player gets a couple of "lives" (to borrow some video-game terminology).

I will definitely play to win as the Keeper in my games but if the players aren't enjoying the experience I am willing to provide the odd honest tip on what they could do to improve their chances.
 
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Scott Forster
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byronczimmer wrote:
Kill the investigators early and often. There are eight figures and they just keep coming into your house until the final objective is revealed and death is permenant...


I've been having pretty good success by keeping them teetering on the edge of death or insanity (with The Only Way Out in hand) until the objective is revealed, and then just offing them as quickly as possible.

And they love me for making their lives miserable.

devil

 
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On a related note, and without the rules to hand, can an Investigator block the movement of Monsters - i.e. nobly sacrifice himself to give the rest of the players a chance to get away or reach an important room?
 
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Alex Martinez
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forster925 wrote:
byronczimmer wrote:
Kill the investigators early and often. There are eight figures and they just keep coming into your house until the final objective is revealed and death is permenant...


I've been having pretty good success by keeping them teetering on the edge of death or insanity (with The Only Way Out in hand) until the objective is revealed, and then just offing them as quickly as possible.

And they love me for making their lives miserable.

devil



This is a good strategy. Push the Investigators to the brink and then lay off, gather threat, and be ready to finish them off at just the right time.

And in answer to the previous post, No, Investigators don't block monster movement. That's why something like an Elder Sign can be so damned helpful.
 
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Ron Emch
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agcoco wrote:
I think the Keeper is very much meant to be played as a DM, but in a game setting wrought with danger, suspense, and the very real possibility the investigators will die and fail. In my opinion the keeper/investigator victory conditions are just plot points in the story that unfolds by playing the game and that winning/losing is secondary to the story and thematic feel created primarily by the keeper's play.

To be fair I have yet to play my first game (anxiously awaiting a Saturday game session), but my goal as Keeper will be to ensure that the investigator players really feel immersed in the story. As long as that happens I will have "won" regardless of which side achieves their victory conditions.

-alex


Edited for minor grammatical/spelling errors.


I played keeper in my first game last night and realized I didn't do nearly enough to make it hard on the investigators and try to win myself.

Never again. I learned my lesson. I will be a monster of a Keeper from now on.
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Justin Hedgecock
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I played my first game tonight, in general, and as the keeper. I didn't see a problem with the balance at all. It felt like the investigators were getting their butt's kicked, but really they advanced in the story pretty well. I was pretty much a constant pain in the ass, and caused them quite a bit of grief, and in the end, I ended up just barely winning. Granted, I haven't played all of the scenarios though. I have heard there are certain ones that are really hard for the investigators, and some that are really hard for the keeper, but none of them seem broken or unwinnable (with the errata on the FFG website). From what I saw, I don't think there is a need to go easy as the keeper, unless you have some really bad players as investigators, or maybe someone in the group who will blow their top if they get stomped.
 
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fred Tortonesi
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welcome to the world of hp love craft. in his works humans rarely survived. and arkham horror the board game getting a win is tough as nails. so it is no surprise to me that the heroes will have to really get their stuff together, work as a team to get a victory. But in the event that some tentacled beat rips off the heads of one of the investigators due to a gun jam or out of bullets so beat it. its just a game. win or lose its the time that you spent having fun that matter not winning.if the players are the type that get mad over a loss then this game will not be for them. i don't mind losing to a game, its good to see that playing as a bad guy that can actually win. hero quest was designed for the heroes to win more often than not. mansions of madness was designed to have the keeper on the top since the keeper knows the ins and out of the place.if the heroes do get a win in mom it will be a well deserved win. not oh i won because the keep decided to pull his mi-gu away from me the only guy with the amulet to destroy the great old one if i survive.
 
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Todd
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Thank you for the information. Great discussion.
 
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