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Subject: Playing the Keeper - How to play it right?! rss

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David Bernier
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Hi all! I've been playing MoM mostly as an investigator and completely love the game. Tonight I wanted to try playing as the Keeper. We we're 4 players, so 3 investigator agaisnt me the Keeper.

I'll keep it simple: Do you play the Good or the Bad Keeper. Here's what I mean:

Good Keeper: You don't care about winning the game. You just let the other Investigators unfold the story and throw some cards here and there just to play with them.

Bad Keeper: You want to win! You let the Investigators unfold the story but you make sure they understand that there's a greater power over their heads that could smith them anytime but ultimately, you don't want them to to accomplish the task they're here for.

I ask that because one the the players (and one of my best friend) told me that a Keeper should not be to harsh and should let the Investigators win the game while giving them a challenge while they play. The Keeper don't necessarily have to win the game...

I sincerely don't agree with that and if the Keeper was there only to give the Investigators some hard times here and there I don't think there would even be a player/human Keeper...

Am I wrong thinking that way?
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Tibs
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No, you're not wrong. It really depends on how you view this game. Is the competition most important, or is the story the most important part?

I often find myself wishing my opponents would do better for story's sake, but my brain always operates to unravel every opportunity and every efficient move so I always feel compelled to give them as hard a time as possible.

'long as everyone is having fun, right?
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Christopher Ebert
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Rhezuss wrote:
I ask that because one the the players (and one of my best friend) told me that a Keeper should not be to harsh and should let the Investigators win the game while giving them a challenge while they play. The Keeper don't necessarily have to win the game...


Sounds like he/she is a DM for D&D or something similar.

There really is no wrong or right way to play as the keeper really. It's all how you decide you want to.

I believe the game is designed for the Keeper to be defeated, but it not be an easy task. Whether or not the Keeper is "Mean" or "Merciful" really depends on the person playing as the Keeper.

I have a history of being a DM for D&D as well as being the Overlord in Descent. I've come to the conclusion that any game that I run of these types, no matter if it is the DM making the game fun or the Overlord/Keeper trying to win, that I will be a little easier on people just starting out but still presenting a bit of a challenge to make them work for it. And when I'm with skilled players, I really make them earn it.

Besides, if you always go light on them and never play a harsh keeper, and they ALWAYS win... where's the Challenge? I'd rather win as an investigator versus a harsh Keeper than nice one, cause then I really feel that I earned the win. That and you tend to get better stories out of those games too, at least in my experience.
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Rauli Kettunen
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Rhezuss wrote:
I ask that because one the the players (and one of my best friend) told me that a Keeper should not be to harsh and should let the Investigators win the game while giving them a challenge while they play. The Keeper don't necessarily have to win the game...


Someone told me that, I'd make his investigator suffer extra-specially devil . I don't hold back or pull any punches, if I can screw with them in some way, I'll do it. "Let them win" surprise ? GTFO! Of course, if you manage to win when I'm Keeper, you know you earned that win, you weren't handed it.
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Eric Dodd
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You should be playing to win, but also have fun. That might mean you let them survive long enough to realise the terrible mistake they made, or to uncover the plot even if you crush them before they can solve it.
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David Bernier
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Hahah exactly what I was thinking!

We even had to pause the game for long minutes (15-30) once or twice just so one player felt the need to explain over and over how a Keeper should play...

I explained to him that even though I could be harsh, I can't be harsh past the number of threath tokens and cards I have in hand.

We did Story #2 where I choose to summon the Cthonian (spelling?). So my goal was to bring 4 Cultists in the Chapel to summon the demon. Everytime I summoned a Cultist one would say that I'm too hard on them, even though it was clear that my Cultists were all moving towards the Chapel...There's even a point where one player used her card to reveal where the next clue was, which I told them, and it took 3 turns before someone actually made a move towards the clue because, as they say, there was too much Cultists in their way (2 in the Chapel and 2 in the secret passagt coming their way).

At one point I even pointed them that for the past couple of turns, no one moved toward the clue and they focused too much on the Cultists...I even told them "There's surely a reason why I don't move my Cultists past the Chapel...so I think you should go get that first clue asap!"

I don't think I liked my experience as a Keeper just because of the arguing every 2-3 turns...I'll sure give it another try soon but if it's the same blubber everytime, I don't think I could handle it much longer...

 
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Simon Harris
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Rhezuss wrote:
Hi all! I've been playing MoM mostly as an investigator and completely love the game. Tonight I wanted to try playing as the Keeper. We were 4 players, so 3 investigator against me the Keeper.
I'll keep it simple: Do you play the Good or the Bad Keeper. Here's what I mean:

Good Keeper: You don't care about winning the game.
Bad Keeper: You want to win!

I've played this a handful of times now (so still no great authority!) 3 as investigator, 1 as Keeper. You are right in saying there *are* 2 ways of playing as Keeper. Different people obviously have different expectations but I think your comment highlights the issue:
Quote:
We were 4 players

In other words, the Keeper is a player and is expected to 'win' the same as anyone. The group I've played with as Keeper have a D&D background but I stressed this at the beginning and they seemed OK with it. The problem can be that since the game superficially resembles an RPG people new to the game expect the Keeper to run it as a 'DM'.

Simon
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Milan Mašát
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I would say to play hard, but not screw with one character.
If you put most of the pressure on one investigator he has no power to stand it and the frustration will come.
So to say - play hard, but do not be mean without reason. Try to build the pressure, be light at the beginning and strike harder and harder till the end. This way they will not complain from the very beginning how cruel you are and as the game will be rolling they will not notice their doom.
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David Bernier
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kungfro wrote:
I often find myself wishing my opponents would do better for story's sake


This is exactly what I was telling them yesterday.

They even discovered where the first clue was and didn't even made any efforts to go there and focused too much on how many Cultists I was spawning and how they blocked the way. They we're just fighting them, hell they even killed 4 of them while the Gangster tanked all the way! Not one Investigator used their Evade action in the game to just run through a monster and go for the clue...
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Rodney "Watch It Played" Smith
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It's a good question, but it seems clear that the intent of the game is so that the Keeper can try to stop the players from succeeding.

This is how I played. Basically, when teaching the game to new players, I describe it like this:

"As investigators, you are trying to find clues to unravel a mystery. A mystery which will reveal to you, your true objective for the game. If you can complete this objective, you will win.

As the Keeper, I will be trying to stop you from achieveing your objective in the harshest, cruelist way, typically, by demoralizing, maiming, harassing and killing you - hopefully all of the above!

Good luck."

This way, all expectation are made clear. We aren't playing an RPG, we're playing a board game, with some RPG-like elements.

Of course, play whatever way suits your group.
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David Bernier
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Pelvidar wrote:
It's a good question, but it seems clear that the intent of the game is so that the Keeper can try to stop the players from succeeding.

This is how I played. Basically, when teaching the game to new players, I describe it like this:

"As investigators, you are trying to find clues to unravel a mystery. A mystery which will reveal to you, your true objective for the game. If you can complete this objective, you will win.

As the Keeper, I will be trying to stop you from achieveing your objective in the harshest, cruelist way, typically, by demoralizing, maiming, harassing and killing you - hopefully all of the above!

Good luck."

This way, all expectation are made clear. We aren't playing an RPG, we're playing a board game, with some RPG-like elements.

Of course, play whatever way suits your group.


Nice way to set things up from the start, I like that! I'll try this approach next time...even thought that's how I see the role of the Keeper but expressed it in a more clumsy way hahah!

Thanks again!
 
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David Bernier
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Ok, i'll rephrase my first post with 2 sentences, which one, in your opinion, describe the best a Keeper and it's goal, keeping in mind that a Keeper also has to set the mood and make sure the game is fun for everyone :

1- A Keeper may accomplish his/her objective.

2- A Keeper should accomplish his/her objective.
 
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Rodney "Watch It Played" Smith
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I think it depends on the group entirely. If you have a bunch of sissies who will never touch the game again UNLESS they expereince at least 1 win first, then you better let them win the first game.

I've definately used this strategy before to suck someone into playing, but there is no question in my mind that this is not the way the games are generaly meant to be played.

Clearly, the idea behind this game as presented in the rules, is that the Keeper is to try to win, and the way he wins is by defeating the other players.

This is no different than the objective in a game of chess or checkers.

Let me be a grumpy, cynical old gamer for a moment - lots of people, younger ones in particular, are used to video games, where there really isn't such a think as "losing". You die, and you come back and keep playing until ultimately you win. There are no real consequences that come from losing.

There are games where one person is not strictly trying to win, such as in a RPG, but that's because the DM is more generally seen as a referee/facilitator (again, this is stated clearly in the rules to those games).

I don't think there is any question that in Mansions of Madness you should (nay, must) try to win.
 
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Christopher Ebert
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Rhezuss wrote:
We even had to pause the game for long minutes (15-30) once or twice just so one player felt the need to explain over and over how a Keeper should play...


At that right there, I wouldn't play for that group or play with that person present. No one should ever tell you how to play when it comes to interpretation. (Obviously someone is telling you how to play when they teach you the rules)

I just find this crap. A game should not be held up that long just cause someone doesn't like the way YOU play as the Keeper.
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Joe Stude
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There's also the point to be made that, if I was playing as the investigator, I'd be annoyed if the keeper intentionally played to be soft or "let" us win. It's MUCH more satisfying when you pull off a win against a player/game that have really come at you.
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David Bernier
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So i'm not wrong when I think that as the Keeper, I want to win...no, I have to win!?!!?

Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm just tired hearing things like: "In the rules it says many times that the Keeper MAY do this or that...so the Keeper doesn't have to win even though he could..."

My answer to this: "Same thing for the Investigators. If the Keeper can choose to let the Investigators win, why wouldn't the Investigators do the same thing to the Keeper?"
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Keith M. Sandler
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Players represent investigators, feeble humans on an island an of ignorance within a great ocean of cosmic forces they cannot possibly understand. It is in their nature to fear and attempt to destroy that which they do not comprehend. At all costs.

The Keeper is the servant of the Outside. We alone understand the secrets of the cosmos. We have ruled before. We shall rule again. At all costs.

I fail to understand this "moral struggle" that the OP seems to be working through.

Plus, it's a boardgame, not an RPG. The Keeper's role is clearly defined. He is not a referee. He is an adversary. While I can understand the "whatever is the most fun" POV, fo' sho', I do feel that this game, much like Space Hulk, Descent, and Claustrophobia, has been carefully balanced so that both sides can play their hearts out and come up with a very close game. I'll admit I have only played several times and cannot attest to how this actually plays out. (I've won as the keeper in all plays of 2 scenarios.) But this does seem to be Corey and FFG's intent.

Kill them all. Better yet-- drive them all mad and have them serve your evil schemes. Their feeble human "morality" is of no consequence to the alien forces of the keeper.

"Kill your brother. You'll feel better." -- The Lost Boys

F'tagn.

--kMs
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Christopher Ebert
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Rhezuss wrote:

I'm just tired hearing things like: "In the rules it says many times that the Keeper MAY do this or that...so the Keeper doesn't have to win even though he could..."


That's there so that you know you don't HAVE to do it every single time the opportunity comes. Besides, there may be times when something you "MAY do" would otherwise hinder you, so they worded it as such so you can choose to.

"May do (something)" does not = "be soft to your players"/"Don't do it."

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Sean Westberg
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Rhezuss wrote:

I ask that because one the the players (and one of my best friend) told me that a Keeper should not be to harsh and should let the Investigators win the game while giving them a challenge while they play. The Keeper don't necessarily have to win the game...


The proper response is to laugh, hard, heartily, and long. Uncomfortably long. When your friend asks what's so funny, wipe a tear away and ask if your friend has ever read HP Lovecraft, and if he'd prefer playing a game whose theme isn't the inevitable horrifying death or insanity that is waiting for anyone involved in the mythos.

Then suggest playing Candyland if inevitable doom and horrible fates isn't his kind of thing.

PS: Since when did playing in a Lovecraft setting even remotely come to mean "not getting f*cked". When I played and ran Call of Cthulhu that was a code phrase for "don't get too attached to your character, he's probably going to go mad and be eaten".

Edit 2: Normally, I'd say "there is no right or wrong answer", especially if you were rolling with, say, Descent. If you want to run it like an RPG, more power to you. However. Lovecraft's setting fundamentally revolves around horrible things happening to decent people. That's why it's *horror*. You have to step it up and be kind of ruthless. That's where the creeping, inevitable horror and tension comes from.
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Michael Cowles
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TheFlatline wrote:
...When I played and ran Call of Cthulhu that was a code phrase for "don't get too attached to your character, he's probably going to go mad and be eaten"...

Although thematically CoC is a better RPG fit, I think Paranoia is a more suitable comparison for gameplay - some of my players were thankful if they made it out of the briefing room in one piece

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Pelvidar wrote:
This is no different than the objective in a game of chess or checkers.

Can't agree with this as the information available to each player is clearly lop-sided in MoM. I certainly think that v2.0 should give the Investigators a little more tactical abilities, e.g keeping their equipment hidden from the Keeper so that the monsters are more uncertain about who is the weakest to attack and which Investigator is carrying the key to unlock thier lair
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Rodney "Watch It Played" Smith
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Pelvidar wrote:
This is no different than the objective in a game of chess or checkers.

Can't agree with this as the information available to each player is clearly lop-sided in MoM. I certainly think that v2.0 should give the Investigators a little more tactical abilities, e.g keeping their equipment hidden from the Keeper so that the monsters are more uncertain about who is the weakest to attack and which Investigator is carrying the key to unlock thier lair [/q]

I probably should have been more clear. I meant there is no difference in the sense that when you are playing checkers you aren't meant to feel guilty for trying your hardest and beating your opponant.
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David Bernier
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shacky22 wrote:
Rhezuss wrote:
We even had to pause the game for long minutes (15-30) once or twice just so one player felt the need to explain over and over how a Keeper should play...


At that right there, I wouldn't play for that group or play with that person present. No one should ever tell you how to play when it comes to interpretation. (Obviously someone is telling you how to play when they teach you the rules)

I just find this crap. A game should not be held up that long just cause someone doesn't like the way YOU play as the Keeper.


Thanks for that! I knew I was right!!! hahahah!
Investigators, watch your backs from now on...it's no candyland anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Matthew Picioccio
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Obviously you're free to play the game the way you like, but like FFG's Descent, the game is designed and balanced based on a keeper who is trying to win. If you don't play to win, the game may fall apart - tension goes away, the game may feel pointless for everyone, etc.
 
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Rodney "Watch It Played" Smith
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Here's how my daughter plays keeper. I think she's doing it right.

http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1000299/mansions-of-madness
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David Bernier
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Pelvidar wrote:
Here's how my daughter plays keeper. I think she's doing it right.

http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1000299/mansions-of-madness


I love your pic!
Hhahahha nice!

Well, I guess my friends are just little sissies.
 
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