Scarlet Keys: Customizables #3


Here’s the third installment of this article series looking at the Customizable cards in more detail. Another batch of four cards coming up.

Empirical Hypothesis

This one is a bit special in that its best abilities are already printed on the level 0 card. For that reason, small investments into the upgrades will not necessarily make the card more powerful, only more versatile. Which of course can still be worth it. How valuable the criteria are does change a bit depending on your investigator, but just generally speaking i would rank them Independent Variable > Trial and Error > Field Research > Pessimistic Outlook.
Peer Review + up to 2 criteria (4XP, level 2): “Teamwork makes the dream work.” I don’t think this is particularly helpful for triggering a criterion per turn. I don’t expect there to be a problem at all with doing that on your own. So this would be to enable others to draw cards from here. That’s fine but i think the Alchemical Distillation does a better job at being a party support card than this.
Research Grant + up to 2 criteria (4XP, level 2): “Spared no expense”. If you are drawing a lot of cards, then you can run into a situation where you don’t have enough resources to play all of those cards. Personally, i would solve this by running more skills, but you could use Research Grant to generate more income instead. That’d leave you with a card that can both provide you with cards or the means to play them, whichever is needed right now. That does sound useful enough to give it a shot.
Irrefutable Proof + up to 1 criterion (4XP, level 2): “Look what i found!” I don’t like this one. Drawing three cards is almost always going to be worth more than discovering one clue. My biggest issue here is that you have to work the card 3 turns before you even get one thing out of it. Six turns before you are even ahead on actions. Seems very inefficient to me.
Alternative Hypothesis + up to 2 criteria (6XP, level 3): “All over the place” Alternative Hypothesis on its own is going to be hard to trigger (need to both overfail and oversucceed in one turn), so i would always want to pair this up with more criteria. I could see this being reliably able to get 2 evidence per turn which would be a really good source of card draw.
Alternative Hypothesis + Peer Review + up to 2 criteria (8XP, level 4): “Phantom of the Ophrah.” You get a card! And you get a card! Everyone gets a card! This is the way to make Peer Review shine, but this is also where the amount of XP spent starts to pile up. With every player at the location being able to help out, churning through the criteria with Alternative Hypothesis becomes much more viable. One could even add another 2XP for the final two criteria or add the Research Grant option to provide economy for the team.
Alternative Hypothesis + Irrefutable Proof + up to 3 criteria (10XP, level 5): “Working hard or hardly working?” This is pretty much the only way i could see Irrefutable Proof working out. Getting one clue every three turns isn’t good enough, so you need Alternative Hypothesis to get more than 1 evidence per turn. One could use Peer Review and only 1 additional criterion here instead of 3 additional criteria. Not sure which one would be better. Altogether i don’t think this is particularly worth 10XP either way.


In an unexpected turn of events, the least customizable Customizable so far is a Survivor card. We’ve only got 5 different upgrades on this one, with the first two being just more traits and the last one being not all that synergistic with the two before it. The card isn’t bad at all though, so let’s see what we can do with it!
Specialist + Specialist (3XP, level 2): “The special Specialist” For when you want to use your Grizzled for both treacheries and enemies. Naming two different treachery traits and two enemy traits will give this card a very broad way of being useful. Alternatively you could use this to hope and make it apply to enemies with multiple traits as often as possible. For example, naming “Deep One”, “Humanoid”, “Elite” and “Monster” for Innsmouth is going to make Grizzled count for 5 or 7 icons against pretty much every enemy.
Nemesis + Specialist (4XP, level 2): “A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent” Nemesis is pretty great when you want to kill big Elite enemies and rather unimpressive otherwise. So i think that you definitely want Elite to be one of the named traits when using Nemesis. Note that the Nemesis effect doesn’t scale up when you have multiple named traits on the affected enemy, so you could still go and name two treachery types with the other two traits for flexibility.
Mythos-Hardened(4XP, level 2): “This one does not spark joy.” Since you are aiming to remove Grizzled from the game, it’s probably not worth throwing more traits on it. Just name two treachery traits and pluck whatever you are aiming for from the encounter deck. Using this on the resident variants of Rotting Remains and Grasping Hands is always going to be worth it, but chances are you are using this option with something very specific in mind anyways.
Always Prepared + Specialist + Specialist(8XP, level 4): “Been there, done that.” This is really good and is likely going to end up my preferred use of the card. Recurring Grizzled so you can commit it for three, five or even more icons over and over seems incredibly powerful to me. Adding more traits is the obvious course of action here, adding more recursion triggers while also making it more potent in the process. Alternatively, one could put Nemesis on here, however that would require dropping one of the Specialists. That does remove one of the recursion triggers (and sort of reserves one of the remaining ones for “Elite” which isn’t a very frequent one) but does give the option of using Grizzled to dunk on big enemies. I am not convinced that is worth doing, but it does deserve testing.
Notable traits to name: For enemies: Humanoid, Monster, Elite. For treacheries: Terror, Hazard, Obstacle, Omen. Check out this article on the Miskatonic Malcontents blog for a very, very detailed analysis per campaign.

Friends in Low Places

There’s quite a few different ways to take this card, even different roles for it to fill.
Helpful + Versatile (3XP, level 2): “I know a guy who knows a guy.” This turns the rogue into another investigator’s friend in low places. Since you still need to choose a trait you will want to use the Versatile upgrade and pick rather common traits to be able to help out multiple investigators.
Prompt + Swift(5XP, level 3): “But where did the lighter fluid come from?” This allows bringing out a card from your deck and playing it without spending an action at all. Conjure up a weapon midfight without taking an attack of opportunity or just simply appreciate all the value you are getting for pulling cards out of thin air at fast speed. Remember you can keep more cards in addition to the one you are playing as long as the traits match. Getting great effects without spending actions is some of the most fun you can have as a rogue.
Clever + Experienced(5XP, level 3): “I’ve got a plan.” Look at the top 9, grab what you are looking for, rearrange the rest to plan for the future. Combine this with a shuffle effect a few turns later once you know there’s nothing you immediately want on top of the deck anymore. Clever is a deceptively powerful upgrade and Experienced is what really makes it work.
Versatile + Bolstering + Prompt(6XP, level 3): “The Winifred”. Naming Innate and Practiced lets you hit the vast majority of skills in your deck. Bolstering makes them stronger and Prompt allows pulling them just in time for an important test. You can go even deeper on this and add Experienced to really pull your Wini deck together. If you want to use this with only level 2 rogue access, dropping Bolstering can be an option as long as you have enough skills in your deck to hit with this.
Notable traits to name: Obviously, this is going to be very deck dependent, but just to throw out some pairs of traits to use with the Versatile upgrade in various rogue decks:
Innate+Practiced covers almost all skills. Tactic+Trick fuels Chuck Fergus. Ally+Weapon finds your most important assets for fighters, Ally+Tool does the same for clue hounds.

Hyperphysical Shotcaster

As a neutral customizable, it doesn’t get more flexible. This thing gives every class access to all of the basic actions (Fight/Investigate/Evade) and more… and with using their best attribute.
This thing kinda breaks my format for looking at these upgrades because a) there’s not a whole lot of cross-synergy between the modes, you just pick what you want to be able to use it for and b) it’s neutral, so the level range doesn’t mean much here: Everyone can take up to level 5 neutrals anyways. So let’s just go in 2XP steps instead:
At 2XP: One mode, no extras. I see this as particularly useful for the Realitycollapser form, as a way for Rogues or other weak-willed investigators to nuke Frozen in Fears and the like. The evasion granted by Translocator is also really nice and i could see using that on its own too.
At 4XP: Due to the uses limit i don’t think that picking too many different Forms is going to be terribly helpful. I could imagine picking one of the first three (evade vs fight vs investigate), then maybe a secondary mode (treachery discard vs asset play).
At 6XP: One Form, but with either more uses or with +2 Skill. More uses seems particularly useful for the first three uses. Meanwhile you’ll probably not use the treachery/asset modes more than 4 times, so taking the +2 skill sounds better there. For the Matterweaver it even seems mandatory to get the skill bonus so you can get the best discounts out of it. Alternatively, 3 modes and nothing else… but that sounds horrible?
At 8XP: Two modes, plus either more uses or +2 tests. Having more than one mode points towards wanting more uses… but i find it hard to imagine spending 8XP on an asset that doesn’t even give a skill bonus. Again, could be 4 modes instead. Again, not a fan.
At 10XP: Either adds another mode to the previous variant. Or goes the focused route, with just one mode but that mode has 6 uses and +2 skill. I see the version with only one mode as the dominant of the two here. Oh, technically you could also spend 10XP on a tool with more modes than uses and no skill bonuses D:

5 Replies to “Scarlet Keys: Customizables #3”

  1. Oh, I probably just missed, that the cost must be completely covered by “X”, because it says, “where X is the asset’s cost”, not “where X is the asset’s resource cost”, so everything with additional cost should probably be gated by the card. It was just irritating, that cards like “Shining Trapezohedron” words such an ability different. But that’s not a new thing to do for them. (See “Ever Vigilante” vs. “Geared Up”, act cards like Gathering (3) vs. ones, that let you “immediately advance”, etc.) New to me was just this card to me, so I missed the fact.

  2. Then again, the Rules Reference state in Appendix IV: Card Anatomy, that the resource cost in the upper left corner is indeed been referred to as “the cost”, so I guess, errata will still be needed, if they didn’t intend to bypass additional costs?

  3. At least to me, “Play the card at no cost” is fairly unambigous and i would rule it to indeed bypass additional costs like adding the weaknesses. But of course this wouldn’t be the first time that the way it is written differs from how it’s intended to be. And i am notoriously bad about rules minutiae, so i might just be wrong in the first place.

    That being said, I don’t think the generous interpretation would be too strong either. More of a nice little gimmick that you can build around. At the point where i am paying 4 resources and an action to bypass the Guardian of the Crystallizer instead of just plopping down my Crystallizer for 1 resource i have already hindered myself more than the Guardian usually does 😀

    1. Other cards (currently “Hungry Blade” and the unidentified “Archive of Conduits”) would not even be playable in a sensible way with this card. And I would say, paying 4 resources and an action just to bypass the costs for a single asset is bad value in any case. 🙂

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