This post is told in the epic style of jgt7771. It will take time to read. Hopefully I have made it entertaining.
Last Friday I started the epic Arkham Horror Advanced Player League that was cooked up by Avi some time ago and then re-heated and served up for me recently by Julia. Can I say ‘bushtucker trial’? Here then is my tale. I am posting it here and will later be leaving my feedback on the League itself for the thread devoted to it in the fan materials page. If you want to know more about the Ancient Ones and the Herald I was up against you can find the details in the links found in that thread.
Ancient Ones: Death and Dracula
All boards but Kingport and all small expansions except Lurker.
What you need to know: Yes I have to face two Ancient Ones. That nasty trick is accomplished through the herald. It works like this – I get the (fully cumulative) slumbering and worshipper effects of both AOs to deal with, and in addition I have to pass 2 successive Evade checks each time I want to sneak by a monster. I randomly determine which Doom track I use for the game, and I randomly determine which Doom track I have to whittle away if the game goes to Final Battle, but I get attacked by both of the Ancient Ones each round. You really do not want to know what those attacks are like or how hard it would be to vanquish them with brute force. But they seem thematic and fair to me; after all, in real life Death hands out curses like it is candy on Halloween. (He is not the worst thing that can attack you though, as Dracula demonstrates…)
Death and Dracula have tracks stretching to 13 and 12 Doom respectively. The worshipper and slumbering effects are detailed below:
Slumber: Death forces a roll of the die in Upkeep cursing the 1st player on a ‘1’, a twice cursed investigator is devoured adding 2 Doom and when an investigator is devoured all players roll a die and reduce maximum San on a 1. Dracula is immortal and represented by a vampire which for all practical purposes cannot be destroyed in the game before Final Battle. He has spawn, flying, physical immunity, enters unstable locations and returns to the Graveyard when defeated.
Worship: Death gives all monsters an additional -2 Horror rating but investigators get +1 sneak. At the start of Final Battle investigators are cursed if they roll a failure on a single die. Dracula turns all maniac and cultist (including ‘counts as a cultist’) monster tokens into exact copies of the games vampire token, but they are spawn monsters who return to the cup if defeated and never enter the Outskirts – instead they immediately rise from the Graveyard, where Dracula starts the game. They do not count against the limit and so can threaten to swarm the investigation. All other Undead have toughness +2.
At the start of the game a cultist is placed in the Southside streets and I must choose Sister Mary and William Yorrick as my first two investigators in the team (they both start in the Church and in the narrative setting up the game they are somewhat trapped in the Church with the undead outside). I have only 9 other investigators in the pool to choose from and chose Wendy Adams and Norman Withers. This allowed me to start the game with a Find Gate spell, an Elder sign and a good pool of clues with investigators in starting positions spread across the board.
I decided to evade and dodge as much as possible and aim for the lifeless jugular of my foes with a quick sealing victory. Death was randomly selected as the active Doom track.
So, how did it go…?
Setup for this game was one of the most amazingly fortunate I have ever seen: 1st player William was skilled in Camouflage (once per Sneak check you may re-roll all dice showing a result of 1.), had the Hunter relationship with Wendy (which can be used to lower the toughness of monsters when they share a colour zone on the board), the military motorbike (+2 evasion, exhaust to gain 2 extra movement points.), the press pass, the Fetch Stick, and the Golden Sword of Y’ha-Talla. His starting trophies totalled 6 toughness giving him a Blessing and a first turn pass of his personal story. Wow. Then Mary pulls out a Wither and a Curse of Darkness (a one shot that can send something really nasty to the outskirts), she was socially connected with William (netting a second ally if either of them managed to find one) and the Credit Rating skill – she’s a nun with a fat purse. After her, Norman pulls out the storm of spirits (a powerful combat spell in his hands), the Hide skill (the mini blessing for Sneak checks that adds +1 to the result of each die rolled), the map to get his old legs around faster, the ‘world aint big enough’ relationship with Mary (handy +1 to a check when one of them is in an otherworld), and an additional Elder sign to complement Wendys. Finally, Wendy turned out to be a joyriding thug armed with the Martial Arts skill and a Motorcycle that pushed her Speed up to a 7 max. My jaw was on the floor because this was pretty wild being everything I really needed (even my weapons were the needed magical kind), and then I drew the first Mythos which opened a gate to the Dreamlands at the Woods and spewed out an Elder Thing, dropped a clue on William and Mary, and then the Elder Thing trundled Uptown where it was promptly taken down by all the posh private security of the mortal leeches that live there. Perhaps it is held prisoner there even now and is forced to serve tea on a tray.
Turn 1. Nothing happened in Upkeep. William sits put and prays, boxing a Hunting Horror and a Tcho Tcho High priest, both of which have magical protections (my starting gear is all magical attack). Infused with holy faith he figures out that there are more Things out there than he has previously been aware of but gives Sister Mary the ‘Holy Staff’ from the wall of the chapel and tells her to go outside and deal with the devil like she is supposed to. So off she trundles like a good little bloodthirsty lamb. The first roll did not go well. Even with the cross wrapped around the ‘Holy Staff of Moses’ and a Blessing the sight is too much and her tiny mind cracks when she sets eyes on it up close – multi-headed worms are wriggling free of the wreck of its cheeks – but she steadies herself and strikes the abomination, surprising herself when it explodes into dust and is blown off into the night wind.
Elsewhere Norman has heard whispers about the woods and sets off to encounter the gate while Wendy takes off to seek her father in the clues located in Innsmouth, making it all the way to the Esoteric Order. There she snoops down into the basement and steals the Key of Tawil after absorbing the clues. She can no longer be delayed and now has a handy way to get instantly in or out of an otherworld, once. Norman arrives in the Enchanted Forest of the Dreamlands and hears the thoughts of something unnatural in Arkham – it can only be the progenitor vampire since it is alone – and he loses it a bit when he hears his own name whispered back at him, but he survives the ordeal and presses on.
Death then opens a gate to the City of the Great Race at the Unnameable, sending a maniac-vampire to Arkham. Dracula and his vampire minion just lay in their havens as vigilantes turn up in Downtown but there is no party there for them, shame.
Turn 2. Upkeep was uneventful. Mary brazenly heads off in Draculas direction to investigate the Black Cave after the vampire she cleansed mentioned something about its master in Riverside. Norman pulls open a portal back to Arkham and returns having made the necessary exploration of the Dreamlands. Wendy trots over to gather another clue at the Marsh Refinery and William flashes the Press Pass at the owners of the Witch House, gathering 2 clues.
In the cave, Mary is pursued by growling and in her fear almost stumbles into a black pit, but she gets lucky. Norman breaks the Elder Sign over the gate, sealing the woods. Wendy sees a guy being beaten to a pulp and of course decides to wade in. She flying kicks seven colours out of the lot of them but takes a mighty bruising that leaves her on the verge of unconsciousness, but the guy she saved is David Packard and he complements her on her newfound Bravery. Meanwhile at the Witch House William is bumping into Erich Weiss but his lack of arcane sorcery does not convince a second ally (and then a third) to join the team.
The practice of Blood Magic starts seeping through Rivertown, opening a gate to Kadath at Independence Square and vomiting a Crawling One into the Downtown streets. Dracula seems to be biding his time, waiting as only an ancient vampire could…I saw this environment as a beneficial one and started making plans to suck it dry. Blood Magic is a dangerous but often profitable game…
Turn 3. Upkeep passes uneventfully again. Norman needs a rest and some more information so he walks over to the Historical Society. Wendy hops on the train again, this time making it to Dunwich and then scooting up the top of Wizards Hill at breakneck speed. After talking to Erich William decides to investigate the Unvisited Isle, while Mary exits the Cave and pokes around Riverside looking for signs of the Blood Magic cult.
Norman finds the society has a guest lecturer talking about ancient sites but does not think it will help the investigation much and so declines to stay and listen. Wendys thoughtless skidding through the undergrowth has disturbed something that pursues her, crashing high above her through the treetops - she gets unlucky and I have to add a token to the Dunwich track. It is now slightly restless but with no gates in Dunwich it looks like staying that way for now. I hope. The little tyke! Then William sneaks up on Inspector Legrasse looking at bones…and the second ally joins the team (both were available in the 11 allies). With a pale face he mutters something about the dead being disturbed and needing to call in the big guns…meanwhile through being socially connected his arrival immediately causes Mary to stumble across Granny Orne as an ally – it turns out she is the one who shows her the Blood Magic and so taking her life in her hands Mary carves arcane sigils into her skin – gaining insight worth 3 clues and doing damage of only 1 Stamina. But with Grannys help she now knows there are enough clues to significantly strike back at the forces worming their way into this world…
The Thing that was pursuing Mary in the cave was from a second gate to the City, and it was a Deep One. It, Dracula and the vampire minion advance on Riverside and the Merchant District– Sister Mary and Granny are cornered by Dracula and the Deep One, and William is now contained at the Unvisited Isle with Legrasse, while a Crawling One is blocking the gate to Kadath. All open gates are now covered by nasty monsters. But then the Feds show up, and all the monsters are busted because they are all in the streets. Dracula flees back to the Graveyard, nursing his ego and cursing those meddling kids again. It is the second time he has been left alone in Arkham. But secretly he has craftily accomplished what he needed to in Rivertown and now he only has to wait…
Turn 4. Upkeep again passes uneventfully, but it is Wendy as first player and so her Elder Sign saves her from being cursed by Death. After hearing the name ‘Whaaaaaatelyyyyy!! moaned by the horror that she disturbed Wendy heads over to the Farm that bears that pitiful family name. Continuing his impression of a reporter William heads over to the Roadhouse with Legrasse for some grass roots information while Mary and Orne backtrack and return to the Cave, looking for the way into the City. Norman consults the map and walks over to the Science Building where he knows they will be interested in what he has experienced and finds further leads for the investigation.
At the farm Wendy finds a note that may have helped things but she does not know how to read yet, while at Hibbs William is lucky to avoid the pickpockets – I guess they dare not approach with the Inspector at his side. Norman shares his story of the Dreamlands with the learned men and women of the Science Building, learning enough to make another strike at Death, and in the City of the Great Race Sister Mary and Granny Orne meet with a buzzing entity that offers to show them the past or the future. They choose the past, Granny not having that much longer to live whichever way you cut it, and the insights yielded shower Mary with 5 clues.
Death has had enough of his job vacancies in the monster department and decides to sacrifice Doom to surge on the Black Gate, putting a Deep One Hybrid and a Shambler on the gate Mary and Orne entered the City through, a Deep One on the gate to Kadath at Independence Square and squeezing a Star Spawn through the other City gate at the Unnameable. This looks bad, especially when they all sit there waiting. Then it looks worse. Draculas meddling in Rivertown brings foul rumours that the dead are being disturbed down there and the town starts to quake more dramatically as the Terror track comes alive.
The investigators huddle and decide not to be intimidated by this eerily thematic play, but they know that this is not good with all these monsters guarding gates and the potential for a lot of monsters to get in the way … the potential for a late game disaster has been spawned…
Turn 5. The first full rotation of the team and again with the tumbleweed in Upkeep; I am starting to look on me the player for a Blessing card. Does someone *actually* like me or is this one of Arkhams fabled set ups for a mighty fall and an embarrassing loss?
With one seal and a bucket of clues, its time for the team to strike hard over the next turns, but I only have 3 open gates and one of them is being explored by Mary, while the other two have a Star Spawn and a Deep One guarding them.
William goes off with Legrasse to slaughter the Deep One with the Golden Sword – the horror check was nasty (-4, 2 damage) but with the Blessing and the help of Legrasse he pulls it off and beheads the fish-demon thing, still, he does not like it when the bulging eyes refuse to close and watch them pass through the gate to Kadath. After seeing the origin of Dracula in the past Mary and Orne press further into the City. Norman does not like the prospect of facing a Star Spawn and decides to wait the turn out for a better gate by visiting the nice folks over at the Twilight Lodge. Wendy heads to Cold Spring Glen, the direction the horrific noises came from earlier.
In the lodge library Norman discovers an old parchment. He deciphers it to find 2 spells hidden in the text, but time enough to only memorise one. Between Wrack and the Fist of Yog Sothoth he chooses Wrack because he already has a decent combat spell in Storm of Spirits and the tactical approach of the team is evasive, not confrontational. At the spring Mary hears the noises again, this time louder and coming straight for her. Fear grips her and she rides like the devil out of the area into the Backwoods country, her mind now dangerously unstable and her body on its last erg of energy. Elsewhere William is pressing through the cold wastes when he and Legrasse are attacked by a lost explorer – some poor graduate from M.U. In the melee William accidentally crushes the boys skull and strips him of a frosty carbine rifle at the cost of some of his sanity. Over in the City, Mary and granny are being pursued by a nameless beast and in her desperate flight are almost lost in time and space, but a vital offhand comment supplied by Orne again saves them.
A new gate opens at the Unvisited Isle – to R’lyeh. A rival faction of Mi-Go to the ones encountered by Mary and Orne send an emissary through the gate. Dracula and the Star Spawn move into the streets before them. The Doom of Death is at 4 – stage one of its plan is completed. A curfew is being enforced by the police. The dead are not being disturbed this turn, so the Terror does not rise.
Turn 6. Zilch in Upkeep. Mary and granny now find their way out of the City as Norman unfolds the map again and starts looking for places to Hide in the Merchant District. He finds them (twice) and falls upon the Mi-Go flapping around the Isle, killing it with a Storm of Spirits. Looting the body he finds an unbelievable object in its talons – a third Elder Sign! (Finding two Elder Signs in the game only happened one other time in my life – I play with all item cards). I am thinking the game is now practically over; all I have to do is survive the next few turns. I’m not naive though, I know what can go wrong and how quickly everything you thought was working can fall apart horribly. In Dunwich, Wendy decides to head back to Arkham with her last dollar. She hurtles across the board (with David holding tightly behind her) from the Backwoods to the Black Cave, motoring past the Spawn and Dracula on the way. When she sees the Shambler at the Cave her fragile mind almost snaps completely, but dismounting the bike she still manages to vanquish it with her karate. The Deep One Hybrid is similarly dispatched, but shattered ring-eyed Wendy only has 1 Sanity and 1 Stamina remaining and a long trek through the City now looms before her. William presses deeper into Kadath as Mary places a second seal at the Unnameable and Norman arrives in R’lyeh and Wendy in the City. Norman is unhinged by the vastness of R’lyeh but holds his mind together as Wendy finds a bladed artefact , the purpose of which she only just realises in time and puts back. William has to put on speed in Kadath when the ice breaks beneath him but he escapes without injury.
Monsters surge again, this time centred on Independence square. The Crawling One returns with … another Crawling One. A mate? A third Mi-Go flies out at the Unvisited Isle and a Star Vampire appears at the Cave. Mary stumbles on another clue and the Star Vampire heeds the summons of its master and joins Dracula in Riverside. (It strikes me that it would be interesting if Stalkers on open gates checked the 2nd area of that Otherworld and could move there if an Investigator was present). Strange tremors ceased, but there are no giant worms to cause them. The rumour of undead creatures fails to terrorise the town again.
Turn 7. I dodge the hail of bullets in Upkeep again. Norman incants his portal out of the sunken city and returns to the Isle to vanquish yet another Mi-Go, finding the King in Yellow among its horde. Wendy and David enter the heart of the City as William returns to Arkham, ignoring the tangle of Crawling Ones. Mary and Orne arrive in the Merchant District to dispatch the Star Spawn – Granny exhausts to help Mary with the horror of it all and then Mary obliterates the Spawn using the Fetch Stick/Holy Moses Staff, leaving a dreadful mess in front of the docks. Somehow they avoid being arrested for this. Norman uses his clues to bring seal 3 at the Isle causing both Crawling Ones to vanish from the face of the Earth into the sealed aperture (and Wendy and David finally find her dad and more cash in the heart of the City of the Great Race). William seals his gate too, bringing the teams total to 4. Meanwhile Wendy has not yet learned never to touch things in the City – she picks up a chestnut with an unknown monster larva inside and has to throw it away quickly when it starts to hatch.
Death opens a portal on the Graveyard, a narrow stair leading down into the Underworld. A Leng Spider heaves itself through the gap. Normans finds a clue at the Isle and nothing moves, but the dead are disturbed: Pickman is found in his studio completely drained of blood with an unfinished portrait on his easel. That’ll teach him. A solar eclipse covers the face of the Sun and all my teams spells become redundant. Outside where I live the blistering Cthughan heat does not fade a bit as the sun sets…
Turn 8. Once again I suffer no ill fortune in Upkeep. It seems I am not just breaking legs here, I am breaking the laws of reality a bit too. Brave but battered Wendy and David finally make it out of the City and return to the Cave. William decides to flash the press pass around at the Science Building and passes the military bike off to Mary and Granny on the way so that they can make it to the Church on time. Norman is almost out of his mind and knows it, so he heads off to the Asylum for help. Wendy and David use their clues to seal off the Cave for the 5th blow against Death. At M.U. William gets in a sparring match with ‘Sir’ William Brinton and takes a beating (losing 2 stamina) and Brinton is impressed and gives him 5 dollars in prize money but is not available for the team. Mary says a prayer for Norman who is restoring his mind, Blessing him and herself with Psalm 23 (she passes her personal story and can no longer be cursed).
Death fumbles and tries to open a gate at the sealed Cave on top of Wendy and clues appear at the Roadhouse. The Leng Spider joins the rumour and Dracula in the Riverside streets and the Star Vampire is sent by Dracula to punish Wendy and granny in the Cave. Having listened to Mary the Church group is frothing at the mouth, rabidly reclaiming the Southside streets, but they find nothing. The Dead are Disturbed again, and Erich Colt is found pale and cold. Terror is now 2.
Turn 9. Sister Marys turn, and she cannot be cursed so Death cannot target her. All 3 Blessings remain in play after Mary uses her ability to re-roll Williams misfortune - Death is no curse when you know there is an afterlife. William decides to clear out the some of the filth festering in Riverside. He faces the Leng Spider first, needing 2 clues to keep his mind and calling on the Hunters relationship with Wendy and the Carbine Rifle to cripple it. Then he evades Dracula twice by using 2 more clues. He does not want to set him up on the Graveyard, which is where the team plans to lay down the last seal. Mary and granny then take themselves to the Hospital for treatment (Mary is pretty bashed up). Then Norman strikes, unfolding the map to move from the Asylum through Riverside, Hiding and calling on clues to dodge Dracula twice, and then down the stairs in the Graveyard towards the Underworld. Wendy and Granny manage to escape the clutches of the Star Vampire (again, twice) and head to the Asylum themselves - Wendy is on the verge of being devoured. Norman enters the Underworld and is confronted by a monster – another Vampire (Cultist). He survives he encounter unscathed, dispatching it with another Storm of Spirits.
Death senses its inevitable end – only the solar eclipse is preventing its banishment in the next turn. Two Doom are desperately added to the track but no gates open. The still hungry Star Vampire comes back to its master in Riverside. Rumours of a Tattered King prove to be unfounded distortions of the rumours from Riverside. The Dead do not stir.
Turn 10. Upkeep uneventful. Mary decides its time for the climactic confrontation with the progenitor and heads off to Riverside with granny. She faces the pet Star Spawn first, passing the horror with granny egging her on, then she launches her holy water at it. It evaporates. Then she wields the cross against Dracula and thrusts the Holy Staff into his torpid heart, causing him quite a bit of pain and frustration before he turns to mist and floats back to the Graveyard. Norman curses the solar eclipse and moves deeper into he Underworld while Wendy goes to Hospital. The insanity of the Underworld hits Norman – apparently, the vastness of R’lyeh wasn’t enough of a shock – but he presses on with victory in sight.
The last Mythos was an eccentric opening their doors in French Hill, a gate trying to open on the Isle, and no monster movement. On turn 11, Norman uses his second Elder sign, sealing out the threat to Arkham while Dracula watches him helplessly as he reforms from the air.
Regrettably it was only much later after the game was over that I remembered the new FAQ and the ruling that spawn monsters are not affected by the Feds card, but I will always remember it now. Oh well, at least my mistake actually helped me a little this time…and I think I could have evaded these guys at the cost of only a turn and a Doom or two. But who knows what that would have meant if played out properly?
So there you have it, even with my mistake it is still one of the luckiest games I have had in my time playing. Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed it why not try out the scenario yourself, it was a lot of fun
Edited by dj2.0, 30 July 2013 - 05:20 AM.