VII: City of Ice: My Little Cosmonuclear Heatdeath
All things grow cold and lifeless, the galaxies are cooling towards inevitable silence, and so Ithaqua stalks the icy blades of nothingness between the creeping wastes, trailing his bloody stumps and gnawing on the endless moaning mounds of frozen TV dinners left behind. Let’s see if we can teach him the value of pre-heated food…or wind up as a GOOs Fish Finger (with custard).
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
This is scenarios 7 of the Elder God Fan League in which I attempt to
lead a ragtag band of (wait, that’s the other game) a hapless team of investigators to an uncertain fate in surviving the cold lash of the Wind Walker, Ithaqua. Not content to blast me with the usual icy winds, the sentient concept of cosmonuclear heatdeath has had to call on its mum – yes, its mum - to beat me down harder, and they have both concocted a nasty plot with Cultists.
ANCIENT ONE: Ithaqua. The Wind-Walker has been given physical immunity in Final Battle, but I rarely give those details any consideration in game until it looks like happening and so I largely and rather dangerously consider these categories of info to be irrelevant. Other than this, no direct changes have been made to the AO but his worshipers have become much nastier thanks to the other changes made below, as has his icy winds effect. Even without changes though Ithaqua can be brutal, especially if you do not come equipped with speedy and/or hardy investigators, and his Doom is slim leaving little to no room for error and probably requiring some kind of stall to delay it.
HERALD: Wendigo. His mum lays down a sanity loss on investigators caught outside at the end of the turn, which makes it desirable to have balanced investigators – 5/5 – with high speed. Completely losing your mind or body in a street will result in you waking up with frostbite and signs of cannibalism plastered like graffiti over your blue, numb body, reducing both your maximums by 1. Like any good mother she also messes with your ability to focus, shoving your sliders 1 to the left each Upkeep if you linger anywhere but a stable location. This is a real ***** that even affects Final Battle, it keeps your Luck, Sneak and Will on an ascent and everything else on a descent and only Trish is immune to this meddling and she is not in the investigator pool. If you have Focus 1, you will be able to do nothing to stop the gradual descent of all your sliders to the left, where they will stay for the remainder of the game with only one of them being able to temporarily break free one space each turn. You have heard of the Louisiana sinkhole, right? Well, this is the Arkham sinkhole. It effectively hamstrings all Focus 1 investigators by swiftly reducing their Speed, Fight and Lore to the lowest setting, therefore those with low ratings in those Skills and Focus 1 are hardest hit and are virtual cripples that will be smashed by the Icy Winds, the mind numbing horror of the Mother of Ithaqua, frostbite and cannibalism. If Final battle arrives, I wont be able to move sliders at all, so the team will be literally frozen in the face of The End, stripped not just of their weapons but most of their personality too.
It’s when we get to the Cultist boost that things start getting really disgusting though. They get to suckle on mama Wendi for immunity to handcuffs, 6 toughness and 2 combat damage. And worse, they hamper everyone’s movements by preventing investigators in adjacent spaces from continuing any of their movement. I kind of loathe these kinds of mechanics, they often result in very frustrating games where the control laid down over what players can do borders on not being fun. This mechanic means that it will take 2 full turns to deal with any Cultist, at least, and that if the Cultist is in a street there will be automatic damage incurred from Ithaqua and Wendigo. I don’t like it because there is really no strategy for dealing with it, you just have to soak up the damage and move on if you want to be rid of those Cultists, so that is what I will do, but I would prefer to have some optional tactics that did not involve crippling some of the investigators.
SCENARIO RULES: So I have to put 4 Cultists in the north half of the board, 1 at Downtown, Merchant and Riverside streets and 1 at the Train Station. This basically locks down the entire clue rich middle and top half of the board until I eliminate them – just moving through the streets to gather these clues will quickly cripple my entire team in a game where alacrity will be critical. These 4 are stationary spawn monsters that go back to the cup; Cultists in general are endless, don’t count against the limit and show up at the Woods instead of the Outskirts, choking access to the Hospital. I must choose Finn Edwards, which means he cannot pass his PS (which requires a Cultist trophy) and he begins completely hemmed in at the Bank. Additionally after the 3rd Mythos phase begins, an extra Cultist appears at every gate that opens alongside the usual monster.
Someone in the design world has rescued me from a stagnant game bogged down by pigeon steps though – evading a Cultist allows me to go the nearest gate on the main board of Arkham. Note that this doesn’t help with Dunwich or Innsmouth.
MY EVALUATION: This is really horrible for the time it takes you to clear the streets of the stationary Cultists. They simply have to go at the start of the game just so you can get on with the business of clue gathering. I decide to have a majority of investigators start north of the River to deal with that and hope to Nodens that they come equipped to deal with 6 toughness, which should not be too hard as the combat rating of Cultists is still +1 and they have no Horror check. This makes them a manageable problem but still one that inevitably freezes the first turns and leads to investigator exposure in the streets. To mitigate this I will have my remaining two start as far south as possible and prepare there. So my initial plan is to wipe out Arkhams Ithaqua Cult by the start of turn 3, utilising the lower half of the board to equip two of my investigators with as much arsenal as I can, and to then begin my game proper. Because I am not able to really start my game until turn 3, I need to stall as this covertly hands Ithaqua Doom 4 of 11 at the start of the game…and I need Focused investigators.
This time in order of lawlessness –
Finn Edwards, the Bootlegger, wears a Dark Cloak concealing an Enchanted Sword (Katana boy), and has managed to pilfer the Directors Diary and an Elder Sign. He is a Marksman ad a Criminal (privileged Member of the Sheldon Gang). Since Finn is stationed at the Bank I will be employing him in the sweep of the Cult. Finnis Focus 1, which means he falls down the Focus sinkhole at the start of turn 3 and from theron in it’s a losing battle to shift his Fight from 0 (!) and his Lore from 1, while his Speed will be jammed at 3, max 4.
Skids OToole, his friend the Ex Convict, is now Clairvoyant and drives around in a swish Sedanette sizzled on Elixir. Focus 2, so he can climb out of the sinkhole. He is also a Mad Axeman with Axex2, not someone you want to mess with at all, as he will know it before you do. Skids is hardy with 7 stamina and he comes with cash he can give to …
Marie Lambeau, the Entertainer, who needs that cash for magic lessons so she can call on her Witch Blood twice when she passes her PS. In the last game Tony had to pitch in, but this game he is replaced by Finn and so Marie will have to look elsewhere to finish her tuition. Marie begins as a Library User with Wither and a Plague of Locusts. Marie also carries over the Ghost trophy from her confrontation with Yig and Set. Focus 2.
Joe Diamond, the P.I. is Stealthily skulking in the shadows armed with a Knife and clutching a Lucky Rabbit Foot. Creeper. This is not good as I was counting on Joe to field more than his .45s, but bullets and a stab in the dark will have to do, perhaps with the backup of his starting clues. Focus 3.
Roland Banks, the Fed, literally saves my day – he walks into Arkham Asylum with a Time Bomb and a Fetch Stick babbling about Mythos Lore and behind him comes Thomas Olney with a Blessing. It is unfortunate to stall his PS while killing off the cult, but a jobs a job…Focus 3.
SETUP: A gate to Leng opens its maw at the Black Cave and a Zombie staggers out. Rituals of Power are being blown in the sentient wind, empowering the damge dealth by monsters.
T1) Finn heads Downtown, dodging the Cultist as the Bank immediately calls in its loan, which he characteristically shrugs off. Skids finds himself back with Marie again, and like a poor schmo he hands her his last 5$, again, and then wanders over to the Historical Society to gather evidence about Brad reading books, evidence that might have allowed him to magically move seals around the board had there been any. Marie dashes off to the Magick Shoppe and promptly plonks down the fee for her first lesson, acquiring the Arcane Insight spell. Having no tomes in sight there will not be much utility for it yet, but the game can change and it is worth having for the late game advantage it could bring. Joe leaves the Police and is stymied in Eastown, but Blessed Roland and Olney in Downtown utterly purge the first Cultist from existence using the Fetch Stick.
The howling maelstrom of ice has ironically brought more couriers into town, allowing the team to trade items freely in Upkeep. They bring terrible news of a portal to the Abyss on top of Wizards Hill and of an ophidian Serpent cursing ‘those meddling kids!’. Doom rises to 2 and Banks, Diamond and Edwards look up and go numb in body and soul at the screaming noise in the night sky.
T2) Skids makes the cross country walk to the Woods where he finds more of Brads trail in the body of a grifter; he loots the body of $2 and a frozen .45. Marie, short $1 dollar of her last lesson and none too keen on venturing outside, decides to try her luck with browsing the shop. Her luck is not only in its glowing golden as she finds Liver D’Ivon and a shot at her PS next turn while still holding onto her cash. Joe shudders as he descends on the frozen quay to tackle the Riverside Cultist and has to draw on 2 clues to finally take it down. Meanwhile, Banks (still Blessed) and Olney battle the Cultist in the Merchant District, again easily shriveling it with the Stick. That leaves just the Cultist lurking at the Train station, one that is directly in the way of the Wizards Hill phenomena. Finn is almost arrested in Upkeep but the Gang eventually come through and deliver him a Cross which he pockets and, now freed by Joe and Roland, moves to the Cave, squishes the zombie beneath a broken stone while waving the Cross, penetrates to Leng and is immediately deluged by a flood which consumes his only clue in the struggle to avoid being swept to an aquatic location.
A family are found butchered – their heads placed neatly on their chests, their brains pure lumps of ice, frozen staring eyes protruding like glassy marbles in an expression of frigid shock. Thomas F. Malone is one of the dead. A gate opens at the Graveyard, issuing forth a Crawling One from Another Dimension. Terror begins to climb at 1 and Doom hits 3 of the clock as the Serpent moves to the Backwoods of Dunwich, poised for the vengeance of terrible revenge. Roland and Joe clutch their hats and huddle in their expensive but impractical clothing as the insane winds beat them down again with what they swear is a feral snarl.
T3) Here is where I plan to start turning up the heat. My main board is cleared for operations and the team spring into action. Marie easily groks the tome she found with her Library Use and draws herself a Find Gate spell, passing her PS. I think Ithaqua quivers, especially with the Elder Sign Finn is secreting…Joe meanwhile scouts out the Unnamable where a hideous Deep One Hybrid attacks him but is blown away leaving Joes mind relatively intact. Still Blessed, Banks and Olney stagger through the streets to Northside, battered but intent on taking down the Cultist between them and Dunwich, as Finn finds a prehistoric monastery in Leng. A man in a yellow silk mask questions his Lore and clueless Finn has 1 die to impress him with the right answers. He rolls a 5 er and finds the answer that gives him a Revelation of Script. Skids hightails it to the now open for business Witch House where he finally solves the riddle of Brads death by reading someone’s arcane maths homework. He draws the Wither spell and then primes himself to use his payload of 8 clues.
Ithaqua responds to my threat and unleashes his evil plan - the flood from Leng arrives ahead of Finn, the Tidal Wave washing up a gate to Kadath on the Reef and delivering a Cultist and a Dark Young onto the rocks. Then the Cultist ad the Serpent sacrifice themselves to their master and I end up with 2 Dunwich Horror, 2 Deep Ones Rising, Terror 3 and a closed shop – look, up in the sky, is it a bird, is it a plane..? - no, its David Packard and Charles Dexter Ward being lifted up and thrown around like rag dolls!! – Roland suffers more damage and Finn flunks his PS but has no clues to lose, yet now his Speed drops to 2. His slipperiness helps here though.
It’s a nasty shock, a *really* nasty one with both boards now active, but I keep cool – it’s all you can when you are frozen out.
T4) Marie begins the excisions from Ithaquas metaphysical flesh in response to the blows of last turn. Doom retreats to 3 as Marie learns Lure Monster as an insurance against further vortex incursions. Then, Joe visits Unvisited Isle and ignores the Egyptian cult practicing in the bushes as Roland makes it to the Train station and executes the final stationary Cultist. Finn delivers he first seal at the Cave when he makes it back from Leng and Doom is sunk even lower to a mere 2; a treat for the team as they hear howls of rage from Ithaqua and his mum. Skids is busy at the Graveyard killing the Crawling One with his .45 and Wither spell, using 2 of his 8 clues to survive the horror of it but then pressing on to Another Dimension where he finds a narrow passage that leads him immediately back to Arkham having fully explored the gate. After stinging Ithaqua in Upkeep Marie travels to the Unvisited Isle and gives the Find Gate to clued up Joe, spotting a crab on the beach whose patterns are worth a major revelatory haul of 3 clues.
It is clearly a sign as the Cursed Relics rumour strikes, opening a gate to Kadath beneath both Marie and Joe and replacing them with a Cultist and a Dimensional Shambler. Doom returns to 3 and the Shambler moves to the University streets.
Cursed Relics (revised) starts with 5 Doom tokens and over 5 rounds your choice is let it eat away at Unique and Exhibit Items or allow for a rise in terror at the end of those 5 turns. If it arrives mid to late game it can be a good shield against nastier rumours, especially if you have money or items. So I am not terribly concerned as this allows me to relax, I feel less tense knowing I cannot be hot by ‘No One Can Help You Now’ or worse. Additionally, the delay of 2 investigators is a short term problem, in the long run the extra gate to Kadath lets me get at Devils Reef. Again, I feel relieved.
Ithaqua almost boils at this reaction, but those are the facts…I now have a shield against many but not all of the nastier Mythos effects.
T5) Marie strips another frozen strip of dead flesh from Ithaquas hide, reversing Doom back to a piffling 2, and draws herself Astral Travel. Roland retains his Blessing. Banks and Olney have made it finally to the 2 clues at Gardners Place, taking the total to 4. There they meet Erica Carlyle investigating stories of falling star stones and since they have only $2 and she is in the Ally deck she takes pity and joins them, adding a Retainer to Rolands resources. Finn Edwards, now stuck in the sinkhole, must make do with struggling across town, being halted by his own Speed in the streets on the way to the Curiosity Shop. Skids, though, smashes the Graveyard to pieces, placing the second seal on the board with clues and causing the Shambler in the University streets to vanish without a trace; meanwhile, Marie stares into the face of utter madness in Kadath and rolls her san to net a jaw dropping 5 clues, rolling a success on every die. Diamond is next to her fending off a Tcho Tcho to find a Map.
Strange Ornithological Sightings are then reported thanks to a Byakhee and Mi-Go in the Sky and a gate to the Underworld opens on the Unnamable, issuing a Dark Young with its Cultist and raising Doom back to 3. Skids has to have the Elixir smashed after it is found to be a Cursed Relic. Sanity withers away a little from Marie.
T6) Finn slips away to the Shop after throwing a Revelation of Script around himself and finds a second Elder Sign that gives him a clue as well. Marie Lambeau (this turn prying out precious stones worth $3 from the cave wall of Kadath area 2) has given him the freedom to move by casting Lure Monster in Upkeep on the nearby Cultist, stranding it in the first area of Kadath (and then killing it when she moves). Skids goes to the Lodge and gathers another clue when an impatient Carl Stanford berates him for being late and thrusts a Dragons Eye at him. Diamond casts Find Gate and successfully seals gate 3 at Devil Reef, but he is completely stranded there. Banks (now well named thanks to Erica), Olney and Carlyle consider using Mythos Lore to tackle Wizards Hill but decide to check out the Hopyard and so they pass his PS and amazingly drag Basil Elton from a cloud of brown smoke. It begins to look like Wizard of Oz with all these companions appearing. Unfortunately, banks now has a nasty Skin Rash.
Dreams of a Sunken City plague the night and bring about Act I. At Independence Square a Byakhee and a Cultist open a gate to Yuggoth, raising Doom back up to 4. The Cultist moves into the streets, hemming Finn into the Shop with his Elder sign. The Dragons Eye is smashed as a Cursed Relic.
T7) Skids raids the Science Building, trading his knowledge of other dimensions for a total of 3 clues gathered. Marie makes it back from Kadath and uses Lore/Library Use to clue seal the Unvisited isle, bringing the team 2 seals from victory. Joe evades the Dark Young, wanders down from the Reef and stumbles, falling to land luckily in front of the Golden Sword of Y’hatalla (who writes his scripts?!). Banks, Olney, Carlyle and Elton hit the Hill and find themselves in the Abyss where a web of light surrounds the heart of the Cursed Relics rumour, an object that hurts everyone if they take it, so they don’t. Finn leaves the Shop and bolsters himself against the winds of Northside.
A Xothian (lose a sanity point if you now what that is)appears at the Order of Dagon with its Cultist as a second gate to Another Dimension opens and brings Doom to 5. Police are offering a reward for information – clues for money, you gotta be kidding! – one Byakhee flies up while another with a Migo swoop on Finn, who sacrifices the Enchanted Blade to the rumour and is smashed by the winds, but not knocked out just yet.
8) Marie descends from the Isle and calls on her magic at last, throwing a Voice of Ra, a Plague of Locusts, a Withering and a flashing Enchanted Knife at 2 Cultists in the Merchant area. Joe returns to the Reef with the sword to crush the nightmarish Dark Young, but gazing at the strangely bigger stars there is finally too much ad he loses his last shred of sanity, waking in the Asylum with Delirium. Banks and his gang (still Blessed) make it further into the Abyss and encounter an endless forest that gives up no secrets. Edwards dodges both the Byakhee and the Migo and then the Cultist in Downtown to enter Yuggoth. On Pluto, he finds he can willfully make it back immediately (once again!) thanks to the bizarre twisting of space and his 2 clues.
This is, ultimately, the final blow against Ithaqua, who surges at the Unnameable but finishes the game next turn utterly defeated and fully cooked with a Doom of only 4 thanks to the return of Banks and crew and Finn with his Elder Sign.Skids finishes the game meeting up with Marie in the snowbound but quickly thawing Merchant District, ahhhh, and grabbing his cash back - you go boy! - as their eyes lock to the sound of Joe whimpering deliriously in the Asylum and Rolie throws a party.
Edited by dj2.0, 08 October 2013 - 09:11 AM.