Designing a fan-made Return to the Dreamlands #5: Spin, Spin, Spin the Rotating Spider God

The player cards

I don’t have anything too much to share in terms of changes to things i have shown before so for the first half of this entry, let’s take a look at the player cards before we check out Weaver. Most of these are pretty much done at this point, but let me share a few notes on them.

First off is this group of cards. These are all level zero versions of higher level stuff that i feel like it would be cool to have them available earlier. For Abigail and Empty Vessel the difference to the original card is quite drastic, but considering they are dropped by 4 or 5 levels that seems very appropriate. They are meant to give a taste of the power that the later card you plan to upgrade into holds. There’s no Mystic card here because frankly i didn’t see anything in the Dream-Eaters mystic pool that i wanted to drop to level zero. So let’s check out Mystic next.

Open Gate and Mind’s Eye are both cards that offer a great fantasy but that i usually find to not be quite there when it comes to making it into a deck. Open Gate especially is often hard to justify three spots for when it then still has consistency issues. By giving the option to spend an additional action to chain draw into them, you can use them in a way that is actually more beneficial. Mind’s Eye is a super interesting deck centerpiece but suffered from its limited uses to the point where it still doesn’t allow building around it. By pushing it all the way up to level 5, i can give it the same treatment that FFG gave to Spiritual Resolve, where you can cash in extra copies for more uses. With some extra juice to justify the double arcane slot.

The Hungering Blade hungers for your blood and if you give it (Or the blood of your allies. Or the blood of your leather coat, i guess) you can frontload the Bloodlusts on the Hungering Blade. The cost is high but you can get a 4 damage sword out of it. Thinking about dropping the life cost to 2 per Bloodlust, but only allowing to frontload two or even just one. Basically, what you are seeing here is the eXXXtreme version that still needs to find the correct balance point.
The Crystallizer meanwhile learns to crystallize more than just your events. If you need to discard things to treacheries or as costs for abilities and other cards, then Crystallizer(3) lets you tuck those for extra skill icons as well. This is a bit of a more specialized bonus, but quite potent in the right hands.

Here’s the obligatory extra upgrade for the Researched card of the set. The original upgrades were all quite similar, but i think this one does add a new idea that is worth having around.

Level four Miss Doyle learns two new tricks. For one, she allows you to pick the cat you want to get when she enters play, not get one at random. But more importantly, she adds another option to the lineup. Bastion is a tank, able to shield you from harm.

The original Lucid Dreaming is sadly a bit too safe, it’s numbers are just not what they need to be for the card to be worth playing. By dropping the cost to 1, offering the ability to give it fast and making it search for all copies of a certain card (thus interacting favorably with Myriad) it should be a lot easier to fit into a deck now.
Versatile is a card that i like a whole lot, but getting two of them to fit two copies of a certain card in is usually a huge ask because the second copy is just not as good as the first in most cases. Versatile 5 allows to basically get two Versatiles at once, paying an extra XP to skip the deck size increase on one of them. It’s costly, but certainly powerful.

More than the other player cards, the weaknesses are still very much a work in progress. I am quite happy with Dream-Maze at this point. Basically, it mirrors Luke’s Dream-Gate and traps you in a remote location that instead of connected to everything is connected to nothing. Another investigator has to spend an action to open the way out.
Void-Portal is meant to be a drop-off point for enemies that spawn and then are able to hunt straight into the investigators. The token draw mechanics on it are up for being scrapped, they are just way too random. But the general idea is a location that enemies come from, it’s just still open if that’s any that come from the encounter deck or specific ones. And how the portal is closed.

And that’s it for the player stuff. Let’s head into the finale of Web of Dreams.

Return to Weaver

Weaver of the Cosmos is already one of the best campaign enders. It’s very gimmicky, but that gimmick works just incredibly well.

When thinking about what i want to do with this scenario, there are three things that stand out to me:
– Weaver is on the easy side regarding the doom clock. There is some player count scaling here at work that makes it more difficult in bigger teams, but for 2p, it’s almost trivial. This is mostly because of the doom clock which is very, very swingy. It has to account for the possibility of a doom landing on a location and counting for every agenda. Also, Atlach-Nacha’s final form drops doom when she moves and that movement is very random. The doom counter is dimensioned to leave room for all of this, but rarely will all of these things actually happen. In turn, you will usually find that you are able to finish this scenario before even touching the final agenda.
– Weaver also features the ability to trade clues for 3 damage. That puts seekers in a spot where they are better set up to kill the legs and Atlach-Nacha herself than many fighters are. I don’t think that makes any sense at all.
– The random spider movement from the drawn chaos token sometimes just … stalls out. Drawing zeroes or positive modifiers will have the spider stay frozen, sometimes for multiple turns back to back which is always super awkward. What’s more, bless and curse tokens (especially blesses) sort of break this mechanic.

So let’s try to fix these issues. The doom clock is something that i am hesitant to actually touch, though. I don’t want to change something here with the goal of tightening the scenario up for 2 players only to then break it for 4 players. Instead, i will just take this as extra justification for the change to the “clue to damage” ability on the act:

2 damage for 1 clue is a much more reasonable conversion rate. Since Atlach-Nacha’s parts all scale their health in multiples of 3, this means that Seekers are no longer able to blast away legs while just taking an attack of opportunity or two. The ability is now more useful for finishing off damaged legs or closing out the final confrontation with Atlach-Nacha’s “body”.

The eagle-eyed and attentive reader will also have picked up on the new act cards mentioning something called an “Atlach-Nacha Token Reference”. Well, let’s take a look at that next then:

Now, only the actual “0” token will make Atlach-Nacha just stay in place without doing anything. Any other numbered token will cause movement, positive modifiers however will move her in the other direction. Skulls get treated like additional “2”s. If you pull the Elder Sign, you can manipulate her to your liking, either moving her back, forwards or having her stay in place. If you draw the tablet, that means the Black Cat is on your side and she will potentially help you. The cultist and elder thing will make her stay in place, but either thrash around and hack at the investigators or drop doom, accelerating the agenda. If you pull the tentacle, two of these things happen. Any other token (aiming at bless and curse, but who knows what we get down the line) will be ignored and redrawn.
All of this adds a little bit more bookkeeping to the mythos phase, but will result in a much more dynamic behavior by the big boss spider which i think is very worth it.

Oh, and for the final confrontation I’ll be removing the zeroes from the chaos bag because her just standing there is way too anticlimactic to end on.

Finally, I am adding two copies of Crawling Web to the random Great Web locations to pull from. Between Web-Spinners, Swarm of Spiders, Spider of Leng and the Grey Weavers, these can find a good deal of relevant enemies. Having enemies show up mid-investigator phase creates nice tense moments where plans that were hatched out before need to be adjusted. I like that a lot.

In terms of replacement sets, Weaver uses only two, but they are Ancient Evils and Chilling Cold. Looming Evils and Chilling Blood are the replacements (see their current versions here) and they are quite impactful. The encounter deck is quite focused and i don’t think it’s necessary to mess with it further beyond those two replacements.

All of this together adds up to a significant amount of change to how the scenario plays. And it only takes 6 cards out of the card budget: Scenario Setup, Token Reference, two act cards, 2 Crawling Webs. Overall, i am satisfied with all of this and i would consider Return to Weaver to be pretty much done at this point.

Next up

Dream-Eaters, side A!

2 Replies to “Designing a fan-made Return to the Dreamlands #5: Spin, Spin, Spin the Rotating Spider God”

    1. Aye, me too 😀

      Still have my head wrapped around Hemlock Vale for now, but my return to this project is on the horizon. My apologies for taking so long on this, but i hope the end result is going to be worth the wait.

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