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The Masters’ Trials: Design Diary Part 1 – The Designers’ Trials

Sep 20 2017

Read the introduction of this article series.

Vangelis Bagiartakis (VB): With the goals set in place, I started exploring how the dungeon-crawling aspect of the game would work. Around that time, my friend Tassos (full name is Anastasios but we call him Tassos) got the chance to see the rough prototype in action and loved the idea. He has a vast (and when I say vast I mean vaaaaaaast) experience in role playing games so, when he expressed interest in helping with the game, I immediately agreed to bring him on board. His experience would prove to be very important while designing the game.

Anastasios Grigoriadis (AG): I’ve loved the idea of dice crafting since the beginning. I’m a huge fun of Dice city and I’ve worked successfully in the past in many projects with Vangelis. So, when I actually put into the basket the words – Dice Crafting – RPG – Bagiartakis – I knew that this would be an awesome journey.

prototype 1 enemy card

prototype 1 player board

VB: For our first attempt, we took the rough version I had initially made and tried to adapt it. Since we were working with cards, the “dungeon” became more abstract. The enemies would be cards they would be placed on rows, simulating enemies coming to you in a dungeon corridor.

The player boards represented the characters and the first problem we had to deal with was what the players’ “resources” were going to be. In the first rough prototype I had gone with Strength, Dexterity, Mana, Cunning and Movement. For this version, some changes needed to be made (like the removal of the movement – it no longer made any sense) and we ended up with Melee Damage, Ranged Damage, Mana and Defense. The goal was to have each player be able to specialize in one and pursue a different strategy.

Regarding the enemies, each monster would give you XP after being killed and you would spend those to upgrade your character with new cards (abilities).

AG: Basically we needed to create a board game that would simulate an RPG session in an hour. You live your adventure, you gather experience and you upgrade your character. Sounds simple but it is not.

 

VB: We did some playtests with this version and while there was some potential in it, there were many things bugging us. The most important one was the resources.

AG: We knew from the beginning that Melee Damage, Ranged Damage, Magic & Defense were not working as resources but we had to start out of something to reach our goal. The basic problems were:

  • Melee Damage and Ranged Damage were almost the same thing.
  • Magic essentially was the only attribute that you could call a resource as it was producing mana but again, only to do damage.
  • Defense had the same problem as Damage, it was not a resource to be spent.

In other words the main problem was that there was no economy based on the resources that players gathered and needed to spend in order to achieve goals and upgrade their player boards. In a sense, we only had 2 types of resources, Health and Damage, which essentially were not enough or interesting to build a game around.

 

VB: Defense was the most awkward of them all. It didn’t help you win – it just prevented the damage you would be getting. While it could be important in the game (for example a character could play the role of the “tank” and absorb damage while the rest of the players would attack the enemies) it wasn’t very fun to play with and it also wasn’t a viable strategy on its own – you couldn’t play solo and win just with a “defender”.

This inconsistency in the resources also made creating new abilities problematic. While it was normal to say “I have 5 mana” it was weird to say “I have 5 Melee Damage”. Damage should be the outcome of your actions, not something you accumulate to spend. Moreover, the way mana worked, also had some issues. The spells you had on your character required mana to be used. That meant that not only did you have to land on them, you also had to land on mana producing spaces with your other dice, to cast them. Double the work for something that should be much simpler.

We knew we could do better so we decided to start from scratch and try a different approach.

prototype 2 enemy card

prototype 2 player boards

prototype 2 cards

VB: For our second attempt, we decided to examine everything from the beginning. The basic goals were still there but the approach could be anything we wanted – we wouldn’t be tied to the previous version. The brainstorming started with what was creating the most problems last time: the resources. They had to be thematic and fit with the dungeon-crawling theme and they had to allow for different strategies. A fighter and a wizard for example would focus on different ones but they should both be able to defeat enemies and win the game somehow.

AG: When something doesn’t work you go back to basics. The goal now was that each player would chose a different class (basic archetypes: fighter, wizard, cleric, rogue) and all together would fight the big bad boss at the end of the game. We agreed on Combat, Dexterity, Magic, Holy, and Cunning as the resources that would be used based on what the characters could produce and what they would need to defeat the monsters. Those 5 attributes could create various combos and thus different sets of actions for each class allowing each player to interact in different ways with the monsters.

 

VB: For the monsters, we decided to go with a very different approach. Enemy cards would be drawn each round and they would have 3 options on them: Evade, Push, Defeat. Evade (which would require very few resources) would just allow the players to prevent the damage the monster would deal. Push (costing slightly more) would be a temporary solution to the problem – you would scare the monster off but you would have to deal with it later on. Finally, Defeat would be a permanent solution – it would get rid of the monster forever but would require the most resources to do it. The concept behind this approach was that each monster would ask for different “resources” on each level which in turn would allow each character to deal with them differently. Some of the monsters for example would require a lot of Combat in order to be defeated, which the fighter would be able to easily provide. The wizard however would have a hard time defeating them through combat, but would be able to drive them away via magic or just evade them. On the other hand, against monsters like ghosts the combat would be useless but magic or holy would be very useful. Depending on how you dealt with each monster, you would draw cards that would be the upgrades going on the players’ characters.

When the final boss would appear, it would be accompanied by all the monsters the players pushed. It would have to be dealt with differently compared to the monsters but the players would still be provided with some options (so that each class would have a chance against it).

AG: This implementation was closer to what we wanted and the feeling was much better. Now the players were focusing on how to advance their characters and how to interact with the monsters which was closer to the basic concept of Dice Crafting: Roll the Dice, Do something (in our case: Fight the Monsters), Upgrade your character.

 

VB:  We did various tests with this build but once again, the actual game turned out differently compared to what sounded cool in theory. If you made the monsters easy to defeat for one class, the others would struggle too much. If we made monsters meant to be defeated by all classes (containing different combinations of all the resources) then every class would struggle since they wouldn’t be able to produce everything. Therefore there would be enemies that could not be defeated and would have to either be evaded constantly or driven away, only to make it harder at the end.

AG: Welcome to asymmetric balancing! In RPGs, every player usually has a different role that works in different ways from the others. Players should feel important during the game no matter the role they play and characters must be balanced and most importantly, feel balanced even when they do totally different things. RPGs usually are played in groups of 4-5 players plus a narrator and in my groups when someone is missing we play a board game or do something else because the absence of that player will have a significant impact in our game.

Board games of 2-4 players on the other hand must give the same gaming experience whether you play it with 2 or 4 players. That means that with 2 players you are lacking 2 characters and what they bring to the party. Usually this is not a problem but when a game wants to be theme-driven and has different roles, then you have issues that need to be addressed.

Another issue was the resources that our characters were producing. Although closer to our goal, the economy of the game was again not solid. Removing a class was weakening a resource. The classes that were played were trying to match up the lack of other classes but not very effectively and that lead to weaker characters overall, characters that could not interact in a proper way with the game.

 

VB: Essentially what we had was not necessarily resources but different types of attacks. It still was a bit weird to say “I get 5 Holy” but if everything else played alright we would have worked with it. Unfortunately, everything else didn’t play like we wanted. Players weren’t as excited as we’d like and it gave the impression that it was lacking something.

Back to the drawing board…

 

in progress!

VB: Once again, we started from scratch and again the brainstorming focused on the resources. We knew that it was the most crucial part of the game and if we could fix that, the rest would easily follow from the theme. We needed resources that you could gather. Resources that made sense having a lot of them, that it was intuitive to say “I have 3 of X”. Up to now, the only one that came close to that description was mana. With that as a basis we decided to explore the option of having different types of mana. We could go the “elemental warrior” path which would mean 4 different types of mana (earth, fire, water, air). The players’ abilities would then all be spells, each requiring different mana and focusing on different aspects. This also meant a change in the theme. Instead of “sword-and-sorcery” fantasy we would go to eastern fantasy with focus on the elements and different types of magic. That was not necessarily a bad thing since sword-and-sorcery has been overused in gaming and something different would look more appealing.

As far as the mechanics were concerned we also tried another approach. Dice City had a system with 3 resources and it worked. You would spend those resources to get new cards on your board (which in turn did not require resources to use them). You could also use those resources to get closer to winning (Trade Ships). The abilities you got on the other hand would grant you other things (like Army strength or VP) which would also lead you to win through other means. Was there a way this approach could be applied to this game? Why try to re-invent the wheel when you have something that works well?

We started with the abilities. Each would cost an amount of mana to “build” on your character just like in Dice City. Some of these abilities would generate damage which would be used against minions, a similar approach to the army strength and the minions of Dice City. This covered one way to win but there needed to be more. An interesting thought we had was that of large spells that in order to be cast you had to spend a big amount of mana and they would provide a big effect. This was something similar to the way Trade Ships in Dice City made use of resources. In the end we changed it a bit and instead of them being spells, we had the cards represent Magical Seals that granted abilities to the boss, making it uber-powerful. You would be able to break these Seals before reaching the boss, thus weaking it enough to kill it more easily. That added another strategy. Could we do one more?

Dice City also has the cultural strategy. Building locations that don’t do something when you land on them, they just grant you many victory points. Since we wanted to have a rogue-like character, we combined the two and ended up with another strategy: What if you were able to search the dungeon you were in and come up with magical artifacts? You would add them to your character and they would grant passive abilities (like deal 1 damage for free wherever you want, get free mana etc). It made sense thematically and it if you were to focus on it you would become powerful enough to overcome even the boss.

So, the basis of the game was this:

  1. Players explore a dungeon and each round they are in a different area/room.
  2. They are attacked by minions which they need to destroy.
  3. They can search the rooms they are in to find artifacts.
  4. They can break magical seals that make the boss very powerful.
  5. After a finite amount of time, they come upon the boss and they must destroy it.

AG: Abandoning the classic path of fantasy RPGs was the right call and it was not the only one. Keeping basic mechanics from Dice City actually solved most of our problems. This affected a lot the way we designed the game. If we wanted to have different roles, equally important in the game, we needed to create different ways to interact with it.

In the end, we had 4 different types of resources and 3 key characteristics that players advanced in to interact with the game: Damage, Insight and Health.  Based on that we instantly knew that we had created four distinctive roles in the game:

  • The character that would focus on damage. They would deal with the minions and apply a lot of pressure to the final boss, despite it being very powerful.
  • The character that would focus on gathering mana. They would break the boss’ seals and make it much weaker.
  • The character that would focus on items. They would search each room, getting a lot of magical artifacts that would “work on their own”. Effectively he would become “Robocop” (as Vangelis used to joke) before getting to the boss, dealing damage and generating mana without even needing to roll the dice.
  • The character that would focus on the Group’s Health. They wpuld ensure that the party would reach the boss in a good enough shape to have a chance defeating it.

Although this is almost the classic archetype of fantasy RPG (wizard, fighter, rogue and cleric) our characters were using different types of mana that they needed to produce and spend in different ways to activate their cool powers.

 

VB: After some tests it was clear we were on the right path. Going with mana solved all the problems we had with resources and the different paths to explore made each character unique and interesting to play with. That was obviously the way to go.

But there were still many things ahead of us…

AG: The theme was ready and now more issues needed to be addressed:

  1. Could we play without a class (a game of 2 for example)?
  2. Were all the classes fun to play with after several sessions or compared to each other?
  3. Were we going to dictate a certain setup of heroes based on the number of players or were we going to allow players to choose any characters regardless of the number of players?
  4. How were we going to address the character build up? Would it be totally random, totally balanced or thematically driven?

to be continued…

Check back next week for the final installment in this Designer Focus!

The Masters’ Trials: The Wrath of Magmaroth is a co-operative dice placement game for 1 to 4 players. On sale in November with Pre-release at Spiel Essen in October!

Mystic Vale: Mana Storm Article – Glorus

Sep 14 2017

This article features the new leader Glorus from the Mana Storm expansion and a bonus preview of a new vale. Click here to check it out!

The Masters’ Trials: Design Diary Introduction – How it all Began

Sep 13 2017

After designing Dice City I knew that the “dice-crafting” mechanism it had could find many uses in other games as well. That’s why, even before Dice City was actually released, I began to explore other options and see where I could go with this “system” I had come up with.

At its core, the mechanism in Dice City is about “crafting” your dice. Each die is represented by 6 cards (one for each side) and by putting new cards on your board, on top of the existing ones, you are effectively changing the faces of your die. As a concept, this could theoretically apply to all kinds of games that use dice.

The idea that I initially wanted to explore was that of a dungeon-crawler. Going with that idea would also define the first characteristic of the game: This would be a cooperative game (as opposed to the competitve nature of Dice City). The players would not compete with each other but they would work together instead. In turn, this would allow the core mechanism to be tweaked a bit, to give players the option to interact more with each other. For example, you could spend one of your dice to move one of another player’s if needed.

Another key characteristic also came from the theme. Since the dice would correspond to various attributes of the characters (like speed, combat, magic etc) why have a single board for all of them and not separate ones? If one die for example was the race, another one the class, another the weapon etc, why not allow the possibility of mix-and-match? Not only would it increase replayability, it made perfect sense with the theme – each player would be able to create their own character (similarly to an RPG), a hero with the attributes they ‘d want.

I made a rough prototype and started testing the idea. I sketched some rooms with tiles, I came up with rules for their placement, I made a few quick enemies and some simple player abilities and started playing. Although, way too early in the process, the experience was fun and I knew this could lead to something good. To check if I was on the right track, I showed it to some people and explained the concept behind it. EVERYONE loved the idea behind the modular boards. It was really cool and seemed very promising. However, they weren’t thrilled with the dungeon board. As one friend put it: “There are actually 2 games on the table. One here (pointing to the player boards with the dice and the character abilities) and one there (pointing to the board with the mockup enemies)”. There was simply too much stuff going on for the game to be viable. Not only would it be insane production-wise (tons of boards, cards, miniatures etc – less than half of the game was more than all of Dice City) it would also ask a lot from the players, especially in their first games.

Thus, a decision was made to make the “dungeon-crawling” a bit simpler. Perhaps just cards that would be drawn or something along those lines, in order to keep the focus on the advancement of the character in front of you.

So, the goals of the game were more or less set:

  • Dungeon-Crawling Theme
  • Cooperative Game
  • Modular Player Boards (and as a consequence Variable Player Powers)
  • Relatively simple (card-based perhaps?) mechanism for the dungeon/enemies.
  • Multiple Paths to Victory

And that’s how this journey began… For more developments on this journey, check back next week!

Vangelis Bagiartakis

The Masters’ Trials: The Wrath of Magmaroth is a co-operative dice placement game for 1 to 4 players. On sale in November with Pre-release at Spiel Essen in October!

The Masters’ Trials: The Wrath of Magmaroth The Prophecies Are True

Sep 7 2017

The legend used to say that in a time of grave danger, masters of the elemental orders would leave their ancestral retreats and join forces to restore peace to the world.

From the once-dormant Tekirin volcano that towers over the peaceful entrance valley, the vengeful Magmaroth has emerged. Born of earth and fire, its goal is to cleanse the world and mold it to its image : primal and ruthless. Left unchecked, there will soon be nothing left.

To deal with this great threat, four masters have arrived.

Traveling under cover of the night from the burning southern desert came an ageless man with a glowing staff at his hand. The villagers recognised him as a Loremaster from the introspective Order of the Blazing Winds. He slowly approached the volcano, closed his eyes, and an eerie glow appeared around him.

 

 

 

 

 

A woman then came from the endless northern steppes. From her clothing it was clear she was coming from the old monastery of the Order of the Glowing Embers. The fire in her eyes, on the other hand, made it obvious she had trained as an Avenger and had mastered the martial arts of old.

 

 

 

 

From the western peaks, a handsome young man rode the great river, pausing frequently to contemplate and embrace the elements around him, as Mystics from the Order of the Everlasting Waterfall have been trained to do.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, an enigmatic girl emerged from the shores of the tumultuous eastern sea, sporting a dangerous chainball over her shoulder and manipulating the water as only Wardens are known to do. She could only be coming from the Order of the Celestial Tide, an Order many had thought existed no more.

 

 

 

 

 

The four heroes met at the foot of the volcano, and paused for a minute. They looked in silence at each other and then one by one, they entered Magmaroth’s lair, determined to face this trial.

Magmaroth would have to be defeated quickly or everyone would be doomed…

The Masters’ Trials: The Wrath of Magmaroth is a co-operative dice placement game for 1 to 4 players. On sale in November with Pre-release at Spiel Essen in October!

Mystic Vale: Mana Storm article – Xanos

Sep 5 2017

This article features the new leader Xanos from the Mana Storm expansion and a bonus preview of a new vale. Click here to check it out!

Mystic Vale: Mana Storm article – Vale Bearer

Sep 5 2017

This article features the new Vale Bearer advancement from the Mana Storm expansion. Click here to check it out!

The Players Are Voting For New Smash Up Factions!

Aug 25 2017

We are conducting our second player voting promotion to select new factions for a future set of Smash Up. The set, to be released in 2018 is entitled “Oops You Did It Again!”. Players began the process by submitting ideas for factions they’d like to see in the set. We selected the top suggestions (and similar ideas) and created a Round of 32 and asked players to vote for 16 factions. The Round of 16 further narrowed the contestants to 8 finalists – but there were four factions effectively tied so we promoted 10 factions to the Final Round which is ongoing now!

Anyone can vote – even if you did not vote in previous rounds.

Click here to vote for your favorite faction!

We’re providing this update to the voting to help players gauge where their favorite factions are in the race to get into Oops You Did It Again. Remember, one vote per person but we do encourage you to ask your friends to help support your favorites!

As of noon on Friday August 23rd the current standings are:

 

 

The battle for 4th and the last place in the set is nearly a dead heat! Only 112 votes separate Cowboys from Cartoons! All week Cartoons, Egypt, 80s Action Heroes and Cowboys have been trading places from 4th to 7th place as more votes are received!

Voting will remain open until the end of the day on September 1st.

To join the Smash Club and make sure you get all the Smash Up News, please visit The Smash Club Signup Page!

(Voting requires submission of a valid email address which will be added to our database for future communications.We reserve the right to modify this contest, alter Faction names, and add or remove Factions during the voting if we deem those actions necessary.)

Thunderstone Quest Kickstarter: Closing the Pledge Manager to Reward Changes

Jul 24 2017

Backers, the pace of new users closing their Rewards on Backer Kit has ebbed, so we are going to be closing the Pledge Manager. This means that you will not be able to add Add-ons to your Reward, or change your Reward from Adventurer to Champion. The changes to the Pledge Manager will be effective sometime tomorrow (Saturday) so please make any last minute changes today.

You will be able to continue to update your ship-to address until just before we ship.

If you have funds left on account and you miss the closing of the Pledge Manager please email kickstarter@alderac.com and we will try to help you. We cannot guarantee the availability of Add-ons or other changes after today.

— The Thunderstone Quest Team

Lovecraft Letter The Art of Lovecraft Letter

Jul 21 2017

The Art of Lovecraft Letter

“E pericoloso sporgersi”

Last year, my colleague Jade Yoo from Board M (who publishes Love Letter in South Korea) brought back a copy of Lovecraft Letter from Japan and showed it to me. A new variation on the game, still by Seiji Kanai, with more cards, a strong theme well displayed in the card effects and a new Sane/Insane mechanic adding push your luck elements to the game and making choices a little more risky for players.

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has the International rights to Love Letter and, after an initial contact, and due to common passions and interests, I ended up accepting to illustrate and graphic design Lovecraft Letter for its English edition, that I would qualify as “Deluxe”.

I have to say that creating artwork for Lovecraft Letter was a very interesting challenge.

First of all, it is quite the opportunity and honor to be able to work on Seiji Kani’s Love Letter, a micro game which due to its accessibility, originality and re-playability has reached a very large audience of gamers, be they family, expert or casual and has already had various licenses attached to it.

As a huge fan of the original fantastic fiction literary genre (my pillow book is The House on the Borderland from William Hope Hodgson– a novel that Lovecraft himself called a masterpiece!), it was sort of a “at long last” sigh of relief to me to be able to be the sole artist on a game that would involve the creatures and the odd world borne of H.P.L’s imagination. I had worked 10 years ago as an artist for Fantasy Flight Games on their “Call of Cthulhu” CCG but unfortunately not enough to let my imagination loose.

When you undertake a task of such magnitude, you have to slow the process down, find the right tone, hit the mark before you can grab your pencils and brushes; something that isn’t easy to do when you consider that you have to merge two very important pieces in Lovecraft and Love Letter. For some time now, akin to when Lord of the Rings released on the big screen, the fantastic genre (and especially horror) and everything that revolves around Cthulhu has become more and more mainstream across the board (in cinema, games, literature…) which invites further caution to make sure you stay true to the source material.

I have always approached my work in a very direct fashion. For this, I thought to myself that Love Letter is now a reference in gaming, a classic. Cthulhu and his cast of friends are a classic in the “monsters, horrors and fantastic creatures” genre. As for myself, my training is classic as well. By that I mean that the traditional technique that I use (pencils, brushes on paper, by hand) gives my artwork a very unique non-dated feel that tries to give life to the illustration itself over time.

So, without trying to reinvent the wheel, we elected to stick as close as possible to the source material. Alongside Nicolas Bongiu (who lead the project for AEG), we have researched descriptions and texts in the Cthulhu mythos to showcase in the most accessible manner his very particular universe, and therefore present it to the Love Letter audience of gamers and mythos aficionados alike. Of course, we didn’t shy away from giving our own take on the source material when we felt it was needed, which is often the case when you’re tying a theme to a game.

So, without trying to reinvent the wheel, we elected to stick as close as possible to the source material. Alongside Nicolas Bongiu (who lead the project for AEG), we have researched descriptions and texts in the Cthulhu mythos to showcase in the most accessible manner his very particular universe, and therefore present it to the Love Letter audience of gamers and mythos aficionados alike. Of course, we didn’t shy away from giving our own take on the source material when we felt it was needed, which is often the case when you’re tying a theme to a game.

Those artistic ideas taking form, AEG decided to bring the game to the size of previously released Love Letter Premium: large box with magnetic closure, tarot-sized cards, custom envelope-looking sleeves and double-sided poker chips for the victory points. This contributed in my opinion to a classy and supercharged edition, of which I’m personally elated.

Those artistic ideas taking form, AEG decided to bring the game to the size of previously released Love Letter Premium: large box with magnetic closure, tarot-sized cards, custom envelope-looking sleeves and double-sided poker chips for the victory points. This contributed in my opinion to a classy and supercharged edition, of which I’m personally elated.

Lovecraft Letter is my first collaboration with AEG and the result and process by which the game was made fully satisfied me (something tells me that you can expect more collaborations in the future!). it is not every day that you can delve into themes and formats that you love, with – as if it wasn’t enough – a good deal of control over the end result.

I hope that you enjoyed this sneak peek inside the process of making Lovecraft Letter … one that comes with a word of caution from Lovecraft himself:

“There are horrors beyond life’s edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man’s evil prying calls them just within our range.” – H.P. Lovecraft, The Thing on the Doorstep

Vincent Dutrait

http://www.vincentdutrait.com
https://www.facebook.com/Vincent.Dutrait
Lovecraft Letter a mind-shattering journey into the world of HP Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos warped into the shape of a Love Letter experience will be on sale 19 July 2017!

Lovecraft Letter Designer Diary

Jul 17 2017

The core of the Cthulhu Mythos is of course the stories about incomprehensible beings, and the concept of sanity. I felt that if I were to make a game for this world, it was absolutely necessary for me to include both the meeting with these creatures that went beyond human understanding, and the people being affected by them.

Lovecraft Letter AEG5123, on sale July 19th!

After considering the Mythos through that lens, it became apparent that there was a wonderful cast of actors waiting to be used.

On one hand we have the Great Old Ones, and all the items and servitors that surround them; Cthulhu itself, Nyarlathotep, the Mi-go, the Hounds of Tindalos, the dreaded Book of the Dead (Necronomicon), the Golden Mead that allows one to see the unseen etc.

On the other hand we have the heroes of the Role Playing Game, the Investigators and the allies they encounter: Professor Armitage from Miskatonic University, the Cats from Ulthar in the Dreamlands, Randolph Carter and his family heirloom etc…

First, I had to figure out which characters should be incorporated into the game. Of course, there was the option of simply replacing the eight cards in Love Letter with eight characters from the Cthulhu Mythos, but I felt I couldn’t limit myself to just eight of them. And, with a Cthulhu theme, I felt the game couldn’t do without having the players make some kind of “sanity check” – the most famous words from the roleplaying game, uttered from table to table since the release of the Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying game.

So, I divided up the characters into those who are on the human side, like the investigators or Professor Armitage, and those who are against the human side, like Cthulhu, the Deep Ones, and other items related to them.

The first set kept the same effects as the base game, and I just chose characters that would fit. The Elder Sign that would keep dangerous beings at bay was perfect for the Handmaiden effect for instance, and a card where you guessed another player’s card and could make them lose, felt to me very much like what an investigator could do.

The second set, I made into special cards that spread insanity. To use them meant to get in contact with forbidden knowledge, and get closer to madness. And I decided that they would have large advantages, and disadvantages above the regular cards (a high risk high reward type of effects) since I figured that a lot of players would walk this road to destruction.

The regular effect of the insanity cards would keep the same effect as their normal counterparts. However, if a player had at least one of them among their discard, it would mean that they had encountered these horrors, and therefore would slowly risk becoming insane, and would need to make a sanity check every turn to not get knocked out of the game.

On the other hand, the insanity cards would also have a power that fit the demerit – players who are close to madness would also be able to wield incredible power. The Hound of Tindalos can attack, Mi-go collect brains, and so on. These cards could not only make other people lose, but also let you win immediately! How could anyone resist this sweet temptation?

And this is how Lovecraft Letter  was born. The Love Letter  system, where anyone could be knocked out of the game at any moment, fits very well to the world of the Cthulhu Mythos, where danger is always looming.

My hope is that everyone will enjoy this new version of the game, where you can as easily capture the truth, as fuel your run to victory thanks to your command of the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Oh, I can hear the doorbell ringing. That’s a little bit odd? Who may be coming to visit me at such a late hour? I guess I need to go check for myself …

Seiji Kanai