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We were playing Betrayal on Saturday and the scenario required that the traitor and monsters lose 1 from all traits at the beginning of his turn.

The music box card was also in play and was left open in the same room as the traitor. The music box requires any explorer or monster who starts their turn or enters the same room as the open music box to make a sanity roll and on a result < 4 become mesmerized.

In this case, which happens first? Do the traits get reduced, then the music box triggers, or vice versa? It matters because if the traits are reduced first, the player has a reduced chance of resisting the music box.

In this case we gave the traitor the advantage in the situation based on game context (the traitor started at a severe disadvantage during the haunt given the outcomes of earlier item draws and omens), but what is the correct way? Is there one?

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    I don't have a rulebook in front of me, but I'd reflexively rule that the same way you did. Since the traitor is in tune with the house, I feel like they'd be able to say what effects happen in which order (unless of course the rules actually say otherwise). – Ben Jan 30 '17 at 21:35
  • Agreed with Ben; I'd be surprised if the rules (either edition) addressed this at all; but they DO make it clear that the house is "in league" with the Traitor, so things like this should almost always be addressed int he Traitor's favor. – GendoIkari Jan 30 '17 at 22:29
  • I disagree with the others in this situation. For a theme-based game like Betrayal, if the flavour of the stat loss is that the traitor is getting weaker each turn, then it makes sense that the weakened stats apply for the whole of the turn. The house may be in league with the traitor, but the music box/dwindling power effects aren't. However, in general for less flavour-based games, I'd default to "active player chooses". – Samthere Jan 31 '17 at 11:49
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The rules do not specify what to do in this circumstance. As such it is up to each individual play group to decide how to handle this situation. Different games tend to handle this in different ways and there are a number of options. Below is a non-exhaustive list of what might work for your group.

  1. Traitor's advantage - As you suggested the house is in league with the traitor (or, the traitor has prepared the house to his advantage). As such, the Traitor chooses the order in which such simultaneous actions occur. This would then apply for all such instances, including events on another player's turn.

  2. Active Player's choice - The way such situations are sometimes resolved is that the currently active player is given the option of which actions are performed first. This gives the currently active player freedom to minimize the impact, or maximise the benefit, of actions they are taking.

  3. Owner's choice - In the circumstance that items, abilities or powers are all acting at the same time, it can make most sense for the "owner" of those items to decide the order in which they resolve.

  4. Timestamp order - Another possible way to resolve the situation is based on the time at which the effect came into being. Did the music box start playing before the Haunt? If so, the music box could take effect first.
  5. Proximity order - The last option I can think of is proximity order. I should note, I haven't read or played this particular haunt. What is it that causes the Traitor's traits to decrease? Is it the waning power of what unleashed them in the first place? Is it some magic the heroes possess that is slowly draining the strength of the traitor? The key question is, can it be pinpointed to a specific location? If so, whichever action originates closest to the affected player (either the music box or the source of the trait loss) acts first.

Of the options, I have to say my preference would be "Active Player's choice", as it keeps control of the events happening on a person's turn with that person. Maintaining high player agency and involvement is an important factor in keeping people engaged. I can totally see why Traitor's advantage might be preferable though.

There is no way to give an answer for which of these options provides the best balance between traitor and players (at least, without extensive playtesting), so it will have to be whichever "feels right" to you and your group.

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