I had this weird idea when I woke up this morning, and it had to do with the idea of the “terror level” in Arkham Horror. To answer your quiet, unasked question, yes, I really do wake up thinking about game mechanics. The question I had in mind when I woke up though, was “what would I change if I were to sell this game?”

I want to reiterate at this point that I have no intention of making money from this project, or the previous one. They are strictly non-commercial practices, intended to provide me with something to keep my mind occupied while I’m unable to commit to more labor-intensive projects. I have other, original projects I want to make money.

There’s the Norvendae card game, for instance. I’d like to sell that someday. Not my Guild Wars board game project. Not my rebuild of Arkham Horror. Those are for fun, and kind of for attention. I mean, redesigning board games and video games is one of my hobbies, and it’s something I really want to share with other people.

But I totally digress.

The reason why the question is important is because I realized, as a game mechanic, the terror level has to be intimately connected to the story of the game. In Arkham Horror, the terror level represents the people being intimidated by cultists, strange behaviors, and bizarre murders into fleeing the city.

The terror level represents internal conflict, the city of Arkham going against itself, in the face of incomprehensible evil. The doom track represents external conflict, and an advance in the diabolical machinations of the aforementioned unpronounceable evil. You have your basic setup for a story, replete with internal and external conflict.

For The Ascalon Horror, we replace the cultists with Royalists. They see the regent, so-called “King” Adlebern as a sham ruler, and would prefer to see the rightful heir Duke Barradin, put on the throne. Many Royalists, including nobles and former members of the court, have turned to banditry in defiance of the King.

For the purpose of The Ascalon Horror, the terror level will be replaced by the “Dissension track,” which represents the people’s view of the current ruler. As the Rumors spread, and monsters roam freely in the countryside wreaking havoc, the level of dissent rises and the people’s dissatisfaction with the king grows.

Like Arkham Horror’s terror level, there are ways to prevent the increase of dissent in Ascalon, but there is no way to reverse or undo its effects. As the dissent level rises, the good people of Ascalon will leave, side with the Royalists, or otherwise seek ways to vent their frustrations with what they see as “improper rule.”

We might even see a “tea party” at some point. *laughs*