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One last whine before I go...

I'm about to go join some friends for a weekend of board gaming, which is a pretty welcome break from routine.  (Steph and I are as equally psyched for the games as we are the free babysitting that's been offered.)  I feel a bit overdue for a marathon gaming session.

It was suggested that I bring Mansions of Madness, since I'm the only one of the group who owns a copy.  I've decided to bring along one of the expansion modules, which has the most clever premise I've seen for a MoM game yet: "House of Fears," in which a haunted manor is used to screen a film that has supernatural powers.

I'm pretty excited for the weekend, regardless of whether or not we get around to Mansions of Madness, and I should have no reason to complain.  But, y'know, it's me, so of course I've got to get one last shot in before the family hops in the car.

Ahem.

The module has another fucking cult in it.  Sigh.

Now, to be fair, this isn't the fault of the module so much as it is the basic game itself. There's a significant limitation in what you can do with the monster set.  They give you a shitload of "filler" foes - most of which are human beings - that serve more like general threats to set the stage for something bigger.  I can appreciate that quite a few MoM scenarios would introduce cultists, since something like 7 of the 40 monster pieces you get are cult-related.


Still.  This would mark the eighth time I've GMed a game of it, and the eighth time I have to pretend that the cult is scary.

Here's the thing.  MoM is a game that works best when the GM brings a depth of story-telling to it, as I wrote about earlier this year.  You give exposition and seed in creepy details and you start building up a threat.  If you play it the right way, then you can get a really great, raw feeling of dread out of the players the first time they see a monster on the map.

I love that reaction.  Watching the table cringe and go, "Oh, shit, a cultist just showed up right behind us!" And then everybody starts freaking out and immediately tries to kill it.  And they might go nuts, using up all their skill points and weapons and items trying to take it out.

...and then they find out that the cultists are total wimps.  Whoops.

Cultists in MoM are like the Goombas in a Super Mario game.  If it's the first time you've seen one, I can see how you might be surprised, but any time after that and they're just pests.

Now, if that was the only issue, then I'd just shrug and say, "Oh, well, I won't use them.  I'll summon other monsters instead."  Or I'd put the cultists on the map as a distraction and use them like pawns while my other monsters go screw stuff up.  Except, MoM almost never lets you summon other creatures - 90% of the time you're just spamming cultists, and the really awesome, powerful, creepy monsters only come out in the endgame.  Most of the time you don't even get to use them.

And on top of that - c'mon, how many times can you really have fun with a goddamn cult?  Oh, what's this one's deal - they're trying to summon a horrible creature into existence?  You don't say?  What a shock.

So, this means I'll have to get creative.  "House of Fears" has a really cool, unique premise that should be a lot of fun, and I don't want a bunch of stupid cultists coming in and stinking up the place.  I think I'm going to turn them into ghosts instead.  That's at least something.

But enough of that.  Have a happy Independence Day weekend, everyone who lives in the US.  Everyone else, just have a happy weekend in general.  You don't need an excuse.