Something that makes Arkham Horror a little different from some games is the fact that there are several distinct hero and villain systems. Investigators use movement points, while monsters move during the Mythos Phase. Players also have Stamina and Sanity while the Ancient One has Doom Counters.

So, there’s a question as to which systems to retain, and which to throw out. Another point I should make for the game has to be the indirect nature in which the players fight the elder evil — the characters may stop rituals and slay monsters, but they’re only treating the symptoms, not the disease itself.

The board pretty much stays the same from game to game, but the Ancient One and the Investigators who face it will change. Individual minions will also be different, and their strengths and weaknesses will vary. As far as core gameplay mechanics are concerned, the Skill system isn’t a bad idea, it’s just poorly implemented.

I discussed “Bridging the Gap Between Skills” with a friend of mine. We talked about what skills are supposed to represent, and which made sense to balance against what. We talked about the other skills and how they balanced against each other — Speed and Sneak, Fight and Will — but Lore and Luck didn’t feel “right” for each other.

For that matter, as we talked about it, Fight and Will didn’t seem right. The skills that seemed best paired were the first two — Speed and Sneak — with the idea being that making haste and being stealthy were difficult to do at the same time. From that perspective, Will and Lore seemed much better companions.

That left Fight and Luck, and this curious idea that Fight might be better suited with something like “Resist,” and it was about that point that Dungeons & Dragons entered the discussion. Fourth Edition pairs ability scores for the purpose of defenses, but similarities end there. Here, we’re thinking they can have more in common.

Imagine instead balancing Dexterity with Wisdom (Speed and Sneak), Charisma with Intelligence (Will and Lore), and Strength with Constitution (Fight and Endure). We’re already talking a pretty different game at this point, but we knew that from the start. Or is it? The thing is, Arkham Horror is an action/adventure game that’s in denial.

Look at the box art. Pick any of the big box expansions. We see scenes of Investigators fighting off the minions of the Mythos using a mix of guns and melee weapons. We aren’t talking about delving into forbidden lore and solving mysteries, we’re talking about blowing away monsters and cultists with Tommy guns.

The game’s image isn’t one that supports the horror stories that inspired it, and the mechanics don’t support that game’s image (or the stories, for that matter). Part of what I want to do is support both the game’s image, and the stories. We’re going to start at the bottom and work up from there, starting with the Luck stat.

There is already a Luck stat. It’s called a dice pool. It’s how many chances you get to succeed at each dice roll. Therefore, we’re replacing Luck with Endure, and it’ll be paired with Fight. Rather than having five stats playing nicely and a sixth stat that takes its ball and plays a different game, we’re going to put Endure to work.

Speed has movement points (useful either for running errands around town or catching up on your occult reading!), Sneak has Evade checks, Fight has Combat checks, Will has Horror checks, and Lore has Spell checks. If the skills represent recurring elements of the Mythos stories, Endure should represent Resist.

Investigators are regularly subjected to the effects of alcohol, corrupted food and water, hideous otherworldly toxins, horrifying and unwholesome transformations, and other strange afflictions of the body. The few of these that show up in Arkham Horror are usually left up to Will, Fight, or Luck. But no more!

From here, we’re going to look at changing other rules at the core level.