Following my previous post, “Magic and Monsters,” I want to examine the appearance, and function of, monsters in the game. I’ve mentioned in earlier entries that monsters serve as “roadblocks” in Arkham. When a monster is encountered in the streets, an investigator must choose to either fight, or evade it.

If combat occurs, an investigator’s movement ends. In a location, this is usually okay because the investigator wanted to move to that location, but in the streets, this can amount to time wasted dealing with an obstacle, or “roadblock.” Those fast, sneaky characters are off the hook, but most investigators have to deal with the monster.

Now, let’s say monsters were to go directly to the Outskirts and the Sky when they appear. That changes things substantially. First of all, since monsters are outside town, you could shift the “plus three” limit from Arkham to the Outskirts. Then the Outskirts limit becomes “eleven minus players” instead of “eight minus players.”

Now, I see monster surges as a kind of “patch” mechanic, since they make things harder for investigators who aren’t closing gates fast enough, or help cover for the fact that gates opening on gates doesn’t advance the doom track. Instead, they threaten an advance in the terror level. If monsters go directly to the Outskirts…

…The terror level functions as a secondary doom track. What if we say, instead of spawning monsters for every player (or open gate, whichever is greater), when one gate opens on another, we just spawn one new monster? That monster goes directly to the Outskirts, and if the players either don’t, or choose not to contend with it…

Okay, let’s gather these concepts together in one place:

First, monsters go directly to the Outskirts instead of being placed on open gates. In other words, you add one monster to the Outskirts whenever a new gate opens. You’ll add another monster for games with five or more investigators, as “normal.”

Second, based on the assumption that the monster limit functioned as a way of mitigating the effects of a rising monster population, we’re going to expand the Outskirts limit. The new limit is now eleven, minus the number of investigators.

Third, due to the fact that monsters no longer appear in the city, monster surges add a single monster to the Outskirts, rather than one per player (or one per open gate, whichever is greater). Add another monster for games with five or more investigators.

Now, you can make these changes to your Arkham Horror game if you want to avoid the whole monster placement/movement annoyance, and instead have a game where the terror level goes through the roof. It might be less difficult in terms of moving around the game board, but I don’t think the game’s difficulty will decrease by much.

What this does for players of The Catan Horror however, is give us a way to increase the level of terror in a region without keeping tabs on special areas of the board. Everywhere in Catan is the Outskirts. You can track down and take out the monsters on your time, or you can allow them to terrorize the populace.

Next, we talk about adding monsters to Combat Challenges.