with the following lines you will learn about a story that was told during the game-play of a solo-game-session of "Elder Sign" by FFG.
Each paragraph stands for a single game-turn (exception: the introduction).
"Mr. Simmons New Job"
(All persons and places mentioned in the following "story" are fictitious and without any reference to real persons; similarities are accidentally and without any intention; any political, ethical, moral, ideological, or whatever opinion is only part of the opinions and understandings of the given fictitious person ...)
After having lost his patience, Paul Edwardson from the Arkham Chronicler got rid of Mr. Darrel Simmons. This pleased the owner of the local Museum a lot. Because he needed someone who was used to working as photographer. And with the new exhibition in the museum Mr. Mansfield asked Mr. Simmons to take a lot of pictures for the new catalogue.
"Be prepared for living nightmares!"*
On his first day Mr. Simmons started to deal with formalities in the Administration Office in the office-wing of the large museum. There he found plenty of information about the architecture of the building, the "route" of the exhibition, and many of the items within the exhibit.
When he has finished this work late in the evening - dusk has already advanced - he started to walk through the long corridors in order to get to the main building. An ominous *clang* echoed far away. "Did you hear that?" A little awed by the vast halls and the darkness surrounding him he was a little frightened to get lost. "Who am I talking to? Man, I should calm down. But, hey ... You there! Where ...?!?" He walked towards a corner of the hall and looked around. He got more and more confused with all the departing smaller corridors, plenty of smaller rooms, stairways and passages. After some time he realized that he got lost. And some more time later he figured that an "Alien Statue" was a good means to navigate through the halls, because it seemed to be positioned at a vital crossing of halls and stairs. On his way through this maze of awesome architecture with strange noises all over it - his own whispering, the echo of his walking, the noise from the street, and ... something else? - he found a strange sword, which was labeled "Sword of Glory". When he took it, some strange howling went through the building, and it seemed like there was a misty figure gliding through some distance hallway. In terror Mr. Simmons fled down a stair, still holding the sword in his hands. And finally he ran through a door and into the streets around the museum.
There were Riots In The street. people were angry about the economical decline, the loss of labor and the way politicians ruled their city. Before Mr. Simmons could jump back into the building, the door behind him fell into the lock. Without a key he was not able to enter the building again. Caught by the masses of angry people Mr. Simmons got heavily beaten up. He tried to use the Sword of Glory to defend himself; but he was unlucky. When he got pressed into a corner of the outer wall, his eyes caught a strange movement in one of the nearby windows of the museum. His face went white and he jumped away from the building, again into the rioting crowd.
Poor Mr. Simmons was drowned in the moving masses of people who did not care what happened to those who did not watch for themselves. They stampeded over him and pushed him around, as if he were nothing more but a small stone on the ground. To him it seemed like hell as broken loose.
"Personal Possessions Bring Good Fortune"*
By whatever means Mr. Simmons was able to somehow get to the Entrance of the Museum and enter the entry-hall of the building. There he met Mrs. Godspeed, the old woman and heart of the museum members that took care about anything you needed - the good old girl cleaned the wounds and bandaged Mr. Simmons. "Oh my, so late already? I need to get done with the photographs of the exhibition. Thank you, Missy." "You are welcome, poor boy. I wouldn't want to stop you from doing this. But I have a bad feeling with you running around the huge halls and corridors of this building - especially with those bruises on you." "Yeah, well. Thank you. My first day, and I don't want the boss to be too disappointed with me." "If there is anything I can do for you, just come along. I will look to it ..." "Thank you, Missy. Byebye."
Then Mr. Simmons wanted to enter the exhibition hall. But he realized that the inner main doors were closed shut. "Ah, right. He said something like I would have to use one of the back-doors ... Oh my, I hope these rioters have left the place around the ... What? What is that?" When Mr. Simmons looked into the streets again, he saw a weird guy running around, exclaiming nonsense and yelling at people. He looked like a priest, and he mumbled crazy stuff. But somehow he was able to influence the evil spirits of the crowd in his favor. Mr. Simmons realized that this cultist must be the source for the riots. Remembering his time in WWI Mr. Simmons rushed into the Riots in the Streets again and challenged the cultist. When he did so, he realized his stupid move. But at least he was able to bring the cultist down. The crowd, though, kept going with rioting. And as soon as Mr. Simmons has defeated the cultist, suddenly something strange happened: The cloak of the cultist fell to the floor as though there was nothing underneath it. Stepping a few feet away, and deeper into the crowd again, Mr. Simmons kept his eyes on this strange happening. And all of a sudden a bubbling mass of tentacles and huge eyes sprang out of this cloak, flew into the air and smashed through one of the upper windows of the museum into the building. This weird mass of an aberration made a noise and otherworldly sound that resembled someone saying "shoggoth", when he jumped into the air.
At this sight the crowd went crazy, and Mr. Simmons took his chances in these Riots in the Streets. He fought his way through the wild and fleeing masses of people and finally reached one of the many side-doors of the building. There he found the lifeless body of an elderly woman. She lay on a weird painting next to the door, which resembled a blue pentagram. Mr. Simmons checked her pulse and realized, she was dead for quite some time - murdered by someone who stabbed a knife into her back. He drew the knife out of her and collected the source of light laying next to her - an odd, old fashioned lamp.
When he turned around to check if there was anyone left of the riot, Mr. Simmons' blood froze: A man with a bloody axe stood some 20yards away from him. He grinned like a Maniac; and then he went after Mr. Simmons. Mr. Simmons realized that he would have no time to flee into the building, so he fled down a dark street and turned around a corner. But he still felt like being Haunted by a Shadowy Figure. Behind another corner, hearing the frantic laughter of the madman, Mr. Simmons hid behind a bush and waited. And as soon as the madman turned around the corner, Mr. Simmons unleashed his will of survival and attacked the Maniac. With the lamp he stroke at the head of the man and overwhelmed him. Then he searched the dead, and still warm and smelling body of his enemy. He found some clues about another cultist who made him to follow and murder Mr. Simmons. "Why? What did I do? I don't understand all this ... What have I gotten into ...?" Feeling anger and doubt, helplessness and irritation in his heart, he kept checking the body of this madman. And he found a strange book - its title read: "The King in Yellow". The moment he took the book away from the dead body, it started to glow and then to burn; in just mere moments the horrid smell of burnt flesh disappeared, and on the ground there was this strange pentagram burnt into the ground where the body was supposed to lie. Mr. Simmons shook his head not believing what he just saw. Then he heard the bells of a nearby church sounding midnight. "I need to get back home and take some rest ... This is too much for me ... "
"Strange Sights Of Poisonous Traps"*
Mr. Simmons turned back home. But still he had to go some way along the back of the museum. There he saw huge and old openings of old sewerage pipes leading beneath the building. Although it was dark, he recognized a sinister person, again in some kind of robes disappearing into the pipes. "I know this is not going to be good ... But I need to do something against this!" So Mr. Simmons followed him. As soon as he hit the first yards within the entrance, he had to deal with rats and Vermin in the Pipes. When he kicked at some rats, he turned around to see a guy staring at him. He was different from the cultist he saw in the streets during the riots. This one resembled more a member of a dark clerical order of the past; and he was mumbling a weird song. They started to fight each other. With whatever luck Mr. Simmons was able to defeat the high priest. But he also fell to the ground, and some rats spawned over him, gnawing and biting into his cheeks and fingers.
Without thinking, more panicking Mr. Simmons crawled through the sewerage and tried to get rid of the swarming vermin.
Badly wounded he finally got out of the pipes again. But this time he entered the museum through an old, long forgotten door. He appeared in a section of the American History Department, in a sub-section about the early Irish and English settlers in this region. He marveled at the exhibition items, and his attention fell on a curious setup around a well prepared teapot. It had a painting on it that made it look like a Tempest in the Teapot. He was caught by this picture, because the teapot was steaming. And the steam got more and more. Already too late Mr. Simmons saw a ghost of an crazy old British settler reaching after him. He struck at the misty figure with all his might; due to his sudden movements the strange book "The King in Yellow" fell to the ground and remained opened on the floor. And there Mr. Simmons saw a few clues about ghosts. He grabbed the book, fled through this part of the exhibition in order to prepare himself against the ghost. And for the first time for what seemed like ages luck was on his side: He found a formula by which he was able to destroy the ghost. But it cost him all his strength. Meanwhile darkness fell over the building. And a weird mixture of noises, coldness, despair, solitude and bitter evil spread through the halls, corridors and rooms of the building.
Although Mr. Simmons was at his end - heavily wounded and bruised with his will being worn down hard - he managed to follow some signs in this museum back to the Entrance hall. Luckily this part of the exhibition was in a side-wing of the building; so he had no trouble with the main entrance. He found Mrs. Godspeed. She was still awake, but very tired. Regardless of that she took care of his soul by calming him down, speaking some prayers and reassuring him that in the darkness one might see things differently from what they really are ...
"The Stars Align Amid The Stillness"*
After Mr. Simmons has cooled down a bit, Mrs. Godspeed also took care of his wounds again, while he tried to get some rest. When she has finished her task, he was very thankful. But before he left her again, he asked her to open the main doors to the exhibition. She was sorry that she could not help with that. But she remembered that there was an old and seldomly used stairway from the historical department into the main exhibition. And for this she would have the proper key, which she gave to him. Again Mr. Simmons thanked her and returned into the side-wing of the museum.
He still felt bad about what happened there with the ghost. But having calmed down a lot he started to remember details. And then he realized there was something else with the teapot and the painting on it. Was it just a painting of a tempest, or not even a Tempest in the Teapot in truth? When he reached this exhibit, he used the knife to open this teapot thoroughly. And he concentrated on the task ahead. And really ... It looked like a painting, because the body of the teapot was like a crystalline bowl or something; but there really was a tempest within this odd item. And the more he looked at it, the more he wished to test its depth and wilderness. So he tried to grab into it. And what amazed him a lot: Although the teapot was of standard size, he was able to drown his complete arm into it. The wind of the tempest felt strange on the skin of his hand. But all of a sudden it ended, when his hands touched a book. He took it out of the pot and read the title: "Book of Dzyan". And when he put the book aside, his eyes fell on a strange symbol at the bottom of the teapot - a pentagram similar to the one which was painted at the side-door of the museum. "What the ...?" He shook his head, closed the teapot again, stored the book in his small bag and followed the instructions of Mrs. Godspeed.
After a while he found the old stairway. With the key he had no trouble getting into the main building of the museum. And without any more delay he went right into the main hall. Through the few windows in the ceiling the weak light of the moon fell into the hall. And everything seemed so mysterious. "So, here I am ... And how am I supposed to take pictures with those light conditions ...?" He went around to take a look at the various items. And when his eyes fell on a Peculiar Specimen in a huge glass cabinet, he suddenly heard a dark laughter. "Hahaha! Nice, isn't it? THAT'S exactly what I was looking for! And my master will be very pleased! Too bad that you found it before me. Because NOW I have to ... KILL you!" Feeling terror urging through his mind and soul Mr. Simmons looked around. And then he saw another cultist. Knowing how easy it would be to defeat him, he started to move into his direction. But somehow the cultist was able to use the exhibition in his favor. And Mr. Simmons realized that the setup of the items was more like a weird maze. He lost sight of the cultist anytime in order to find him right behind him, and then again somewhere else.
He ran, and stumbled through the exhibition, and the cultist made fool of him. Again and again. Exhaustion took over, and Mr. Simmons even stumbled over the Peculiar Specimen. At the edges of the glass cabinet he wounded himself with a nasty flesh wound.
"The Stars Align Before Reason Fails"*
It was now that Mr. Simmons realized how crowded this museum was. Everywhere he saw creatures rushing through corridors, making weird sounds, laughing at him and simply driving him crazy. And this made him desperate again, but also very angry. His anger drove him so mad, that finally he was able to trick the cultist into a trap, where he defeated him in a bloody brawl. When he did his finishing move, the cultist's reflexes pushed him back against the glass cabinet of the Peculiar Specimen again, where Mr. Simmons received another deep wound.
Exhausted from this hunt and fighting, Mr. Simmons searched the place and tried to find out more about this specimen and why the cultist was after it. He tried to pry the glass cabinet open. But he was unlucky with it. After several attempts he broke the glass and caught a painful cut through both hands.
Yelling in pain and kicking at the remaining parts of this glass cabinet he was finally able to take care of this exhibition item. But when he touched the specimen, it started to get alive. At first very small, but growing fast tentacles, arms and powerful legs spread forth from this specimen. A weird, wild and gaping maw opened up right beneath the tentacles, when this thing jumped off the place and ran into one of the many corridors of the museum - totally ignoring Mr. Simmons. Or maybe just neglecting him? Mr. Simmons was at the end of his power. When he took a final look at the place where this specimen was, he again saw one of those weird pentagrams. He laughed. He laughed loud and frantically ... "Well! Hahaha! Maybe that's it! Hehehe! Maybe I ... hihihi ... I should start looking for these things ... Hahaha! Hihi! I mean ... Hehe, what else could happhahahaa! Happen that could be anyhihihi strangerhahahahahaha!"
He turned around and listened to the strange voices and noises from all over the building. "Where should I start? Does it really matter? Hahaha! No!! HoHOHOHO!" Then his eyes fell on a sign pointing into a certain direction: "A Guided Tour". "Hehe ... Maybe this will dohoohoohoo ...!" Laughing, maniacally grinning and loosing his mind he went into a smaller section of this exhibition. Here he found a small handout which gave him some clues about how to follow or understand this particular tour. In his mad eyes things became real; and the world became crystal clear as well - especially, when he found an old shotgun ...
"Strange Sights Amid The Stillness"*
After a while on this guided tour Mr. Simmons found a special exhibit. It was set apart from the rest of the exhibition by some distance. And everywhere - so it seemed - were signs telling guests and spectators: "Please Do Not Touch The Exhibit". This caught his attention, because he realized that someone else seemed to be interested in this particular item. Thanks to all the weird howling, growling, noises and voices, which have risen to a cacophony of violent and hellish despair within this museum, the cultist trying to get this special exhibit did not notice the mumbling and laughing Mr. Simmons. Using this to his advantage, Mr. Simmons gave way for his lust for blood. Blinded by his sheer anger, he violently struck against the cultist. But in the last moment the target was able to duck away from the blow. Both started to attack each other. But in contrary to Mr. Simmons the cultist was not half as dazed by his madness as Mr. Simmons was. Painfully Mr. Simmons was defeated with a heavy blow to his chin. He fell through a paper thin divider to another section of this exhibition, where he found a disgusting human devouring the remaining bits and pieces of the watchman in this museum. Mr. Simmons shrieked in terror and jumped away. The ghoul watched him and grinned while gnawing on the bones of the poor watchman. It was then that Mr. Simmons realized how the madman had started a chant. The darkness in this museum became even darker.
With all his remaining strength Mr. Simmons went another time after the same cultist, who still chanted and tried to get this special exhibit again. Mr. Simmons was tired and exhausted. A wave of pain washed over his body. Then he remembered that a long time ago in this never ending night he had found some weird paper. He read it and marveled at all his wounds vanishing again. Feeling a lot stronger again he moved against the cultist who just finished his chant. With a deafening crack Mr. Simmons split his skull into to halves, and the dead body fell to the ground. Not caring for the bloody body Mr. Simmons now wondered about this special exhibit and tried to open the glass cabinet himself. And tried and tried ... But he failed. And while he tried, he did not realize how the ground of this chamber was shaking. All of a sudden, the exhibit fell into a crack that opened in the ground. And this crack widened as fast as light, and Mr. Simmons also fell ...
He fell into a seemingly other world. And all of a sudden a warm and stormy wind slowed his long and everlasting fall to an uncertain and hot ground. "Hell! Here I COME!", he yelled. And when he finally hit the ground, madness caught him. "All the Horrors of this museum did not defeat me! NOTHING CAN DESTROY ME! NOT EVEN YOU ... WHATEVER YOU ARE!"
Laughter was the last thing Mr. Simmons cried in terror ... And it was the last thing that was heard in the halls of the museum that got silent after hell has spawned through this particular location in the museum ...
*the Mythos Card in game
Ok! That's the story ES told me today. I had ... SO BAD LUCK with so many rolls of my dice. It was Mr. Simmons against Shub Niggurath. There was nearly no time (except for the first few rounds), at which I had not a single location without at least one monster on it. And by the time Shub Niggurath was awake there were only four Elder Signs placed on it. With those very few trophies Mr. Simmons stood no chance against this GOO. it took me 4 turns to successfully pass the Riots in the Streets and even 5 turns for The Peculiar Specimen - that was nearly half of the game (all in all 22 turns) before Shub awakened and the Clash of Titans began. And these were the few "simplest" adventures I had. Many times I drew monsters, my hands chose the hard ones. Except for the cultists and the maniacs there really was no monster around that had not at least 2, very often all three fields packed with symbols; and now add the Shub Nigguraths extra-task to each monster. Most of the time one, if not both special dice were locked down - especially on monsters on adventures with major flaw-effects like doom-tokens, heavy damage, etc. But that doesn't matter since the few items I received during the game did anything, but not really allow me to use those extra-dice ...
This ES game session was really, really tough. I really had bad luck on ALL randomized parts of this game.
I enjoyed the game nevertheless.