View Full Version : Houserules Shortening

PePe QuiCoSE
2009-09-02, 12:57 PM
This saturday I'll be at an event running an OOTS table. It's around 7 hours long and I plan to do 2 games at least (3 would be great though). I am thinking in different ways to speed up the game while still maintaining it's original gameplay, so looking for minor changes (obviously playing the short version). My goal is to narrow it to 3 hours top for a 5-6 (new) players; though being a humorous game ideally it shouldn't last more than 2 hours.

So, I'm posting to get some feedback and see what have others already done in the same spirit. Unluckily i won't be able to test them before Saturday (and i haven't played in quite a long time either).

Ideas so far:


- You need to roll a
5 or less to find stairs in level 1
4 or less to find stairs in level 2
3 or less to find stairs in level 3


- You can find (even if there are already stairs in the dungeon):
3 stairs in level 1
2 staris in level 2
1 stair in level 3


Basically I'm just aiming at giving more options to find stairs, and making the dungeon easier to navigate. Not decided yet which choice is better.

Dungeon Rooms

- After a player rests uninterrupted in a room, he may put it upside down. No more monsters appear in this room when a player lands in it. Room properties apply if possible.

Again, this makes easier to navigate the dungeon and to backtrack when lower dungeons are currently too hard. Easier to pick up loot in some cases (if there's a lot of loot in such room) but still makes it possible to go back to level 1 and get an easy fight. Another player attack would cancel this possibility.

- Each level has one of the Elemental Rooms. Once the monsters played in it are defeated, there are automatically placed stairs down.
For this, first you shuffle the 3 Elemental Rooms. Pick the top down and shuffle it with 7 Dungeon Rooms and set them aside, these make up level 1. Repeat for level 2 and 3.

This probably isn't faster than the previous stairs rule, but gives a nice feeling about "earning" passage to lower parts. Probably works better as a simple variant rule than a speeding one.


- Every character starts with it's 4 starting shticks plus 1:
Roy: Creative Motivation
Durkon: Dark Vision
Haley: Ridiculous Bluff
Elan: Wacky Hijinks
Vaarsuvius: Elven Senses... Tingling!
Belkar: Schadenfreude

I don't like giving too much sticks in the beginning nor making the characters really more powerful, although it is the easiest way to make things faster (since they lose less fights). Open to more ideas.


- Players start with a total of 6 loot cards. Deal 3 random loot cards and 3 loot cards, each one with 1 drool factor of each of the characters towards his right (reverse order in which monsters are played).

Simple, more loot but reducing the randomness of their content which could break the game (like Roy receiving all his boosts). It also guarantees that everyone can receive loot by giving assistance. I don't really have any more ideas for this.


- Monsters Attack/Defense can't go above double their original values through the Support Ability 'Assist'

This is to avoid the unbeatable monsters, specially in Xykon's lair. Still most monsters will be rocking the 20s with this, but it doesn't rewards to keep feeding it support. Not sure if it should include Xykon (max 32/32) but i think it should, 32 is quite high but not so far that it can only be beaten by 'I Forgot They Could do That' card.

I had also thought about giving specific loot for killing certain monsters, but it doesn't really help to speed up things (just as incentive to kill tough ones for some characters).

End Game

Currently no solid ideas... but I'm planning in giving 8 points instead of 6 for killing Xykon, maybe 10.


So, that's it. I know i still haven't solve the core problem: the game lasts as long as the players wants and there are not enough rewards to risk finishing it faster. Or, it takes too long to be strong enough to tackle it. Also, shortening the game affect balance because of each character's emphasis (loot, shticks, assistance). Softening the rewards you get for killing Xykon doesn't help either (game length, but it helps balance).

Aside note:
For balancing the characters, i think that giving Haley a weak extra shtick makes up for her having the best start.
To boost up V a bit i though about allowing him to throw as many fireballs as he wants into the same room as long as he keeps winning (if he is in the same room, he gets 1 wound for each fireball). Maybe the same for lighting bolt (in different turns). Heck, might as well allow it for Thor's Lighting.
The rest of the cast is pretty ok for 6 players (including Roy).

PD: thread name highjack

PePe QuiCoSE
2009-09-06, 02:40 PM
So, had the event yesterday. Had 2 games both around 3 hours + rules explanation, 5 new players to the game plus me as the 6th player (played as Elan first game, Durkon second).

Among the things that we used and i think worked well were finding stairs with an easier dice roll, that definitely sped things up. I didn't use the extra amount of stairs per level, but allowed to find extra stairs when the first room of the 3rd level was a Dark Room. Maybe 2 stairs per level is better overall. Didn't had the need to make that the last Room of a level automatically had stairs (but it fits).
Limited the amount of rooms per level, 7 for level 2 and 6 for level 3 and only used 3 Xykon's Lair. Not sure if it really worked, but i think that it pressed the players forward when there were no new rooms to explore.
The extra shticks given were quite good, specially Elan's Wacky Hijinks which 'automatically' makes the game funnier from the beginning. Ridiculous Bluff was never used (and didn't expected it so since there was really few PvP) but neither was Creative Motivation (same reason, mostly cooperative games). Elven Senses, Dark Vision and Schadenfruede complemented the characters quite well.
Starting with 6 loot seemed bit too much since asking for assistance was rarely a problem, might drop it to 5 loot (and matches number of shticks too).

A rule that i think worked really well was that when you make ranged attacks, you can attack any monster in the stack. Any support that that monster may have, applies though. This excludes Area Shticks, which always start from the top monster.
This allowed to soften up hard stacks (which can make the dungeon a pain to navigate in level 2 and 3) by killing roaches or weak goblins. Playing with Fumble/Crits made this even funnier when we rolled a 1 twice when trying to get rid of an annoying roaches :smallmad:.

The only possible issue i found was that there wasn't that many shticks drawn for some players, but that might have to do with some bad luck (i swear that the dice that come with the game feel loaded) and not the best decisions. I'll consider a change in that rule: when you have 2 X you can pick up 2 shticks and choose one, the other one to the bottom of the deck.

Overall, i think these changes improves the game and makes it drag on less.

PePe QuiCoSE
2009-09-09, 02:02 PM
Ok, some more rules and some clean-up, won't put commentary in the middle to make them easier to read altogether, only examples.

Houserules Shortenting (playtested at least once)


- You need to roll:
5 or less to find stairs in level 1
4 or less to find stairs in level 2
3 or less to find stairs in level 3

You always find stairs in the last room of a level without needing to search for them

There is always only 1 stairs going down to Xykon's Lair


- Every character starts with it's 4 starting shticks plus 1:
Roy: Creative Motivation
Durkon: Dark Vision
Haley: Ridiculous Bluff
Elan: Wacky Hijinks
Vaarsuvius: Elven Senses... Tingling!
Belkar: Schadenfreude


Players start with the same amount of loot as shticks. Deal 3 random loot cards and 1 loot cards per extra starting shtick. Each one of the extra loot with 1 drool factor of each of the characters towards his left (reverse order in which monsters are played).
So, if you start with 5 shticks (as the rule above) you start with 5 loot, 3 random and 2 loot with 1 drool factor of the players besides you that don't immediately play you monsters.


When making ranged attacks, a player doesn't have to attack the top monster. Instead he can choose any Monster in the Room he is attacking. Any support abilites that that monster may have applies though. Doesn't apply to Area Shticks which always start from the top monster.

Monsters Attack/Defense can't go above double their original values through the Support Ability 'Assist'

End Game

Count Xykon Lair as a Dungeon level to compute Xykon's points.In a 3 level Dungeon + Xykon Lair, he is worth 8 points

Not yet Playtested rules:


To exchange X for shticks, you give in a number of X, draw that number of cards from your shtick deck, choose 1 and put the rest on the bottom.
-To draw up to your 7th shtick, you need only 2 Xs.
-To draw your 8th to 12th sthick you need 3 Xs.
-To draw your 13th+ shtick, you need 4 Xs.

For this, count the total shticks you have, it doesn't matter if you draw them through Xp or from Screw This! or Dungeon Rooms. So, if you have 6 shticks and one X and you enter Room with a Motivational Poster or play 'Up a level, Down a level', you now need 2 Xs instead of 1 to draw another shtick

Battle Deck Cards

- A player can discard one Monster in his hand to skip his turn to play monsters to a player
- A player can discard one Screw This! card in his hand to avoid triggering a new battle when he moves to an already explored Dungeon Room

For each discarded card, the player gets 1 less Battle Deck card when he refreshes his hand
To keep count of discarded cards either use a d6 or stack the discarded cards (face down after showing it to the rest of the players) over the character's card.


The monster discard rule is to avoid the "it's the only monster i have" situation and to emphasize negotiation between players for playing monsters.
The Screw This! discard rule is to avoid the situations when a player just wants to move to a room to rest or go back to the Dungeon Entrance without suffering another battle. Also it makes picking up loot less tedious when there is unguarded loot and you can't pick it up without having to battle again. It also makes some Screw This! cards useful for some characters that would rarely use them otherwise or situations that never come up.

I really like these mechanics, it gives a lot more relevance to the battle cards in the game. Will see how they work out.

Not so sure about this rule still:
Dungeon Rooms

- After a player rests uninterrupted in a room, he may put it upside down. No more monsters appear in this room when a player lands in it. Room properties apply if possible.
Haven't used it yet. Not sure how it'll work.
Will edit everything in the first post after trying the 2 new rules i want to try out. I know this is a quiet forum, but comments are welcomed ;-)

PePe QuiCoSE
2009-09-15, 03:18 PM
Had a game yesterday. Played for a bit more than 2 hours and we had to stop because people had to leave; we were starting level 3 and most players were doing some backtracking (easy fights in upper levels). Overall the game felt different than the ones played at the event (more PvP and tougher monsters stack).
Talking to one of the players (who was familiar with the game) about the changes i was trying, he pointed out that the core problem is that the players are not forced to go deeper and advance the game. I knew this, but it dawn in me that i had to find a way around it if i really wanted to shorten the game time definitely.

Of the rules i wanted to try, the Shtick drawing worked nicely. Sped things up early on and makes the characters vary a bit in style (i was Haley and i almost get the boost for Ridiculous Bluff). I'll be giving Roy Sigh. instead of Creative Motivation (if it's a new player at least) because it wasn't used so far.
To the shtick draw rule, I'd only add that you can only draw 1 Shtick per turn (just in case).

I was going to use this rule for PvP:


After a PvP, the player that loses the fight gets to place a monster in a empty Dungeon Room of his choice (a room with Loot counts as empty). If there are none, a room without players (but with monsters). If there are none, only then he can place it in a Room with Players. If he has no monsters, he refreshes his hand and no monster is played.
The idea was to have new things happen while there are PvP, so the Dungeon gets populated. But in our game the Dungeon was pretty stacked and more monsters didn't looked that attractive so i didn't used it. Will try it next time maybe, or think of something better.

The Battle Deck cards rules didn't worked, they weren't used. I also tried a rule to exchange Battle cards but it didn't worked either; again, it wasn't used. Not sure if it was because they were mostly new to the game or if they weren't well thought (most probably the latter -experience shouldn't matter-, but not knowing what other players might have in his hand does not help).

So, after the game, I gave them some thought together with the 'core' problem, talked about them a bit, thought what i wanted to achieve and came up with this:


When called to play a monster, a player can skip his turn to play a monster by discarding one card in his hand (he has to show it to the rest of the players, it can be a Monster or Screw This!)
This was only used a couple of times, but it was useful for those moments. It covers the "it's the only type of monster i have".


New battles in already explored rooms have a -1 in it's Battle Size.

When you place the first room of a new dungeon level, no new battles are triggered in already explored rooms in the upper levels.

This should cover the core problem, when someone goes down a level (sic) the rest are forced to follow him down to find new fights. It also discourages staying in a level since battles are less rewarding, but easier for those who need it. Also makes picking up left over loot and going back to the entrance easier.
This will push the players downwards instead of allowing them to go back and re populate the upper levels, so there is a problem covered.
Another view on this rule was to only allow respawning of monsters in level 3 (forces the players to look for battles there, until someone is strong enough to go for Xykon). This -1 Battle Size is less drastic than the other option.
Maybe i'll rule that Xykon's lair doesn't get repopulated too.

I haven't made up my mind yet if i want to have a Battle Size of 0 in already explored rooms of level 1, or keep it that it's always a least 1. First option makes picking up loot easier in level 1, but there are less easy fights.
Another option was to make a table and when entering a room you roll the dice and see what happens (pick loot, draw shtick, nothing or battle).

Mariel Dragon
2009-09-25, 02:58 PM
Interesting concept, but I fear that disallowing people to fight in the upper levels, while forcing them to move on, may leave some players underlevelled, especially in big groups. This may put them constantly behind the others, as they are unable to win the harders fights in the lower levels.
Not sure about that, though.

PePe QuiCoSE
2010-03-10, 09:59 AM
Itīs been some time since my last game... Had a game on Monday, we were 5 players (Haley as an NPC) with 2 guys playing for the first time. There was quite a lot of PvP and tough fights overall.

We used most of the rules posted (easier stairs, starting shticks and loot, pick monster to range attack, Xs for shticks) and the game lasted (with nachos and drinks) over 3 hours. So, no improvement there really.
To force players down we ruled that already explored rooms had a battle size of -1, which made us fight mostly in the second and third level (since level 1 is useless after being explored). Worked well until the party scrambled in level 2, level 3 and Xykonīs lair (in part due to farming points in easier fights). Might give it another try or instead of this one use the "fights only in the last level" to stick the party together...

The other rules we used were the "discard a card to skip playing a monster" which... wow, end up being really abused (unlike other times it was used). Not a single easy monster was played since everyone just skipped playing one when they could. Still i liked it because it enhanced negotiation between players as in "give me an easy monster and i give you this loot for assistance". There is not enough incentive to reject assistance usually so it works fine but it could get some restrictions...

Another rule was the counter-assistance:

When a player is battling, you can give him 1 loot he drools over to give a -2 Attack / -2 Defense for every face in the loot.
Worked ok during the game screwing a player when getting a nasty fight but then again it end up being abused, used for PvP and tried to be used when fighting against Xykon (although it was argued and dropped it, there was really no point if it was allowed).

At the end of the game, the guy who had played OOTS the most (besisdes me) said that it had been the best one he had played. So i guess thereīs something right with what iīm trying but well, i guess you canīt go wrong taking away some randomness and giving the players more control. Both new players liked it (well, Belkar didnīt had that much fun since Elan screw him over a couple of times with wacky hijinks and Screw This leaving him dead for a long time. Twice).

2010-03-10, 03:05 PM
I've got a game lined up for tomorrow, and we'll definitely be trying many of these rules.

Maybe for pressing dungeon exploration, you could try incentives for shticks- for example, on level 3 you could only trade in two Loot you drool over for a new shtick, or the first time you enter level 3 you automatically get a new shtick? A small boost might give players the confidence they need to stay on the lower levels.

PePe QuiCoSE
2010-03-10, 05:34 PM
that... would end up being abused all the same. Just get the stairs to go down there, do whatever bonus and go up again to farm. The problem really it's just that the party is meant to stick together to get things really working but players usually don't take that into account when thinking the best actions for their turn.

What i'll be doing next time is changing the way you handle battle deck cards, might do the "you get 1 less battle card for each battle card discarded". Or that you only get 3 battle decks when refreshing and you get 3 each time you rest... still thinking about it but definitely add a component for hand management.

2010-03-10, 08:21 PM
Alrighty then, just throwin' ideas out there.:smallbiggrin:

Howsaboot... when a person explores a new room, roll a die- odd finds a Loot, even doesn't?

I know this could end up screwing people last in the turn order, however. Maybe this in conjunction with the inability to return to the upper floors unless fleeing or a dungeon collapse? Trades off potential free Loot with farming opportunity?

(Also, Mononoke avatar FTW.)

PePe QuiCoSE
2010-03-10, 09:44 PM
btw, thanks for the feedback. Not used to that kind of thing in this forum :smalltongue:

The room/loot thing kinda overlaps a bit with rooms specials. Not bad, but it's not what i am aiming for (I don't want change shticks either - too much of a hassle basically). And also that benefits characters with better defense because they get more reward for exploring which they should end up doing all the same.

The only real way to cut down playtime now (besides making everyone stronger) is making the dungeon smaller/shorter (and we are already playing 3 leves + Xykon). I don't think there can be that much time saved by having everyone stick together, not without taking out some of the competitiveness or changing things too much.

I forgot to mention previously, another thing we used was that when you decide to rest you can move 1 room and rest. Helps when have your last wound in a room with monsters and you have to spend 2 turns to do a rest which is just too much downtime when you have 5 or 6 players.
It was used and it was useful (you can pick only 1 loot if you move and rest) but not game breaking or anything so it was a good idea.

2010-03-14, 01:25 PM
House rules I'd like to explore would include allowing someway to move through one's battle deck faster (perhaps a discard draw rule per turn), as its extremely frustrating to draw nothing but monsters sometimes.

One way that occured to me to push people down stairs is that succesfully winning a combat gives 1+level number loot at the end, so first is still two, second is three, and so on- this speeds up the game, as players get loot faster, and also encourages them to go further down (as well as to kill those big old stacks). Hayley's abilities would need to be accordingly boosted to balance this, obviously.

PePe QuiCoSE
2010-03-18, 07:09 AM
Well, discarding one card at the end of your turn is a safe choice.
About the extra loot, I'm not sure because extra loot means extra traps. If i understand correctly, you mean that the ones that successfully kills the last monster in a room can get an extra pick? If i beat a monster in level 1 i can pick 2 loot, level 2 pick 3 loot and level 3 pick 4 loot? (how you wrote it i read that there's extra loot dropped depending on the level).
If it is that way I'd also change that everyone can pick extra loot outside combat (and combat gives you +1 to pick loot), if not you are changing balance between characters which i'm trying to avoid.
Still not sure, but i might give it a try.

I'm reluctant now of adding rules for battle cards because for new players it might be just too much (as a friend pointed out).

That doesn't prevent me from writing them though! :smalltongue:
You start with the standard 7 battle cards but when you refresh, you refresh only 5 cards. When you rest, you can get 3 extra cards at the end of your rest.

Another thing i wanted to change was that the player to your left always plays you monsters. Depending on the player that plays you monsters, you can get some hard times or breeze through stacks (specially if you are playing Roy). Still not sure how to do this but so far what i have thought is that the play order is the same, but the players in the same dungeon level as you play you monsters first. If there are none, the old way (first player on the left).

Overall i think I'm changing too many things and it's really hard to know how they all play out.