Daisy (Me), Amanda (Pizza), Lola (Zebra), Silas (Wings) vs. Chaugnar Faugn. Kingsport and Dark Pharaoh, with Hypnos.
Chaugnar Faugn is an oddly lackadaisical Ancient One—he and Tsathoggua are drinking buddies, up there in those “hills”—he just sits there the whole game as the Investigators make things worse for themselves as they progress. Some would say that he was designed specifically to counter Wendy, one of Kingsport’s slickest Investigators. Amusingly, Zebra’s Investigator options were Lola and Wendy (before the AO was chosen): an early dodge against the game, eh?
Daisy started with a stack of Tomes: the Livre d’Ivon, De Vermiis Mysteriis, and an Understudy’s Script. De Vermiis Mysteriis is a mid- to late-game gambit, so I could easily save it to keep her Story from failing, and read the Livre d’Ivon before getting all her Clues to pass it. As I am very aware of my group’s proclivities (they looove shopping), and since Lola had started with a Storm of Spirits (one of Daisy’s best weapons), I chose Alchemical Process: free money (almost) every turn, and no rolling for 1’s!
Actually, everyone seemed to have a fortunate opening turn. Zebra needed an Ally to pass Lola’s story, and he didn’t have a whole lot of time to find one. Breaking my general rule of “no metagaming”, I told him that there is an Ally available at every unstable Arkham location…but there are also ten Kingsport Allies floating around its sleepy stable locations. So Zebra maxed out Lola’s Speed, hightailed it to Kingsport, and actually found Granny Orne on his first Encounter! (Listen! You can hear Dam cursing in the distance!) Unfortunately, Lola had to give up her only Skill to gain that allegiance; Lola would remain unable to use her Special Ability for many turns. (Good thing her Stats rock!)
Silas started with the Criminal Skill, and thus Wings became the first person in the group to ever join the Sheldon Gang. So the first thing she did was go beat up a Child of the Goat in the Streets, and steal herself a Magnifying Glass. (Granted, somewhat anti-climactic, since Wings hates Tomes.)
Amanda stayed at the Bank and used her appropriately-starting Safety Deposit Key (Tibs would be proud) to acquire a Petrifying Solution. Hey, any quiet turn in Arkham is a “fortunate” one.
Naturally, all this fortune was a ruse of sorts, and the second Mythos card of the game was The Great Ritual Rumor. Daisy and Amanda had enough Spells to pass it, but they were decent Spells that would be nice to have. Still, no one wants to have two Gates opening every turn in a Kingsport-only game; with only the original 11 unstable Locations available, there will be surge upon surge, monsters clogging the streets, Seals bursting, Terror skyrocketing, human sacrifices, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
So Daisy and Amanda planned to meet in the French Hill Streets in a couple of turns. Daisy tried to find a “crap spell” in the Library before the rendezvous…no dice. Amanda got to use her Vision Quest one time to safely clean Independence Square out of Clues. Eventually, Vision Quest, Plumb the Void, and Heal were discarded for an eight-Clue distribution, and Daisy discarded Silas’ pilfered Magnifying Glass to pass her Story (gaining a Book of the Believer).
Amusing aside: Note that I own all the Investigator miniatures, and we always play with them. Also note that this Cult plays on Pizza and Wings’ huge round glass table, so each of us only has a reach to cover one “quadrant” of the playing area; often, a player has to pass their figure movement to another if they aren’t anywhere near their quadrant. French Hill is in Zebra’s quadrant, and the following turn, I wanted to move Daisy to the General Store to bleed off some excess dough for something useful. Zebra reached for Daisy, and stalled, gazing at Daisy and Amanda. “I’m the girl,” I said. “I’m the girl in the blue dress. I’m the blonde girl in the blue dress. I’M THE BLONDE GIRL IN THE BLUE DRESS HOLDING A BOOK!!!”
Lola was still happily bouncing around being the Kingsport Sentinel. When Zebra read his 607 Water Street Encounter, he sorta muttered the end of it, and all the rest of us really heard was “roll for $10”. “Do it!” we goaded as he stared at us with an odd glare. He slowly picked up his dice, and it occurred to me that he was not as happy as the rest of us. “Wait. If you fail?” “…or be Cursed!” he growled. “Don’t do it!” we all backpedaled. But he had already picked up the dice, resolved to throw them. (I don’t know what feakin’ personal rule that is!) Luckily, he passed. He also managed to score the Staff of the Pharaoh at the Lighthouse before he was ready to come back to Arkham to Seal a Gate.
Of course, the game had moved a Proto-Shoggoth all the way from the Woods to Northside, just to block Lola’s return. But she had the Staff, Storm of Spirits, and a Fetch Stick. So she used the Staff to cast the Storm of Spirits, then she picked up the Fetch Stick and…uh…wait a second. “Dude, how many hands does Lola have?!” (Keep in mind that Zebra’s parents are from India. KALI !!!) Turns out, with Granny Orne, either the Lore combo or the Fight combo would yield the same amount of dice, and the Protoggoth was toast.
Silas once again engaged in petty larceny—keep in mind that Wings works in a correctional facility—and used his Criminal ability to turn a 2…into a 1. This would be Wings’ first arrest; needless to say, she was…grumbly. Bad enough I had to take half her cash; if there’s anything Wings hates more than not being armed, it’s being delayed. Even worse, being delayed without any Encounter. That’s just BORING, a fate worse than devouring. (One might think.)
Just before being locked up, a choice Yuggoth Gate had opened in the Black Cave, and its Nightgaunt had flown off, leaving it unguarded. This was Wings intended target in order to get the last thing on Silas’ Story scavenger hunt. Since she was now cooling her heels in the hoosegow, I asked if I could take it instead. “No!” came this cute half-whine-half-bark protest. Turned out to be moot anyway; a Star Spawn surged from that Gate and blocked Daisy’s exit from the Store. Bad rolls on both the Horror and the Combat Checks beat Daisy up before taking it down, losing her Seal potential in the process.
While I went off to the Asylum, an even more succulent Dreamlands Gate opened at the Unnamable, and Wings changed her “dibs” to that one. Silas was released, finessed some Clues off of that idiot Deputy Dingby, and left for the Dreamlands. (Amanda took her Clues to the Black Cave on the same turn.) First Other World Encounter: the dreaded Ithaqua fight card. “Good thing you weren’t in YUGGOTH!!” got me a slightly sheepish blush (but it was probably just a trick of the light). Instead, Silas splashed a Ghost with Holy Water.
Daisy left the Asylum and headed for the Hospital, just as Lola beat up her Proto-Shoggie. They traded en route—my money for Zebra’s Staff-and-Storm combo, perfect for Daisy—and Lola split off to hit Miskatonic’s Admin for her long-missing Skill. Zebra drew the most precious Grapple, and instead of being unable to use Lola’s Special Ability, now he just never WANTED to for the rest of the game. Daisy was waylaid by the Vampire, but now that she was properly armed (max Will, max Lore), the fanger was barely a speed bump. Having cleared the Streets on the way to the Hospital, Lola was able to sashay uncontested into the Witch House Gate to the Abyss.
Now comes the moment I was dreading all game, thanks to my aforementioned no-metagaming rule. Amanda and Silas returned home at the same time, giving us Seals 1 and 2. The following upkeep, Wings was thrilled to pass her Story. I keep all my boxes behind me on a hutch, where I keep all Story Pass/Fail cards during the game. I took her story card, passed her her victory, and started shuffling boxes: they would think I was just putting the Story card away, but I was actually getting the Investigator stack…
“Did you know?!”
“I did. But you know I never tell you guys that stuff.”
Yes, it’s a very dramatic story, but it’s really bittersweet because Silas is so fun to play. A pox on those who ditch Silas as “game strategy” and a pox on FFG for enabling it! (Yeah, not really, I guess. It’s probably the best blend of Lovecraft and Bruckheimer in the pile.)
Wings was pretty crushed. I promised I’d write up a noble death, so…
Silas glared at the half-naked woman, similar in dress and countenance to the one he’d dispatched when this whole brouhaha had started. Obviously tracking him down for some kind of revenge, she’d brought a mound of black bilgewater that reflected nothing in its undulating skin.
They thought they had him…but Silas had learned a thing or two about the currents of these portals. They weren’t as independent as they appeared, all part of the same sea of beyond. And Silas knew everything about sailing.
He grinned. “I’d give ye yer shot, if we had more time,” he addressed the not-uncomely lass. “You and yer puddle. But I can feel it in me bones that the weather is about t’ change, and if I don’t catch the next breeze, I may not get the chance again.” He backed into the closing portal, and gave a gesture not meant for polite company. “I’ll see ye at the bottom!”
The portal closed, and off in the distance, an eerie house no one appreciated suddenly exploded, followed inexplicably by the animate black ooze, spraying rank ichor all over the street. The woman had completely vanished.
The Goat Cultist and the Formless Spawn had surged out of the Dreamlands Gate just before Silas returned. There was only one Gate left to Seal (3), the one to the Abyss, and guess who happens to share that hexagon?
I desperately hoped that Wings didn’t draw a sucky replacement; to my delight, she drew Bob. Understandably, they started a bit rough—“Another blonde Investigator in a blue suit! He better be able to fight!”—but she just didn’t know him yet. He’s actually perfect for her: he has a better chance than anyone of getting a good gun or blade, and he’s got durable Stats for fighting. Sure enough, he started with a .357 Magnum and an Enchanted Cane, plus a Soul Gem to make sure that he never got that third monster trophy to fail his story. And on his first shopping trip, he bought the other Magnum!
The only problem was…Lola was still out there.
“Wait, so what happens to me?”
“You get Lost in Time and Space.”
“AND LOSE HALF MY STUFF?!”
“No! That’s only when you’re Unconscious or Insane. This time, you just…walk there and sit.”
I’m not certain any of my Cultists have ever been LiTaS without getting beat up to get there. A Gate opened at the Unvisited Isle while I was First Player, but however much I tried, I couldn’t pull an Abyss out of the bag. Lola vanished…
Amanda was feeling a bit underarmed, so she pooled money with Bob for…an Old Journal. (Pizza’s “Clue *****” nickname is sticking…) After those two purchases, they were almost tapped out. Daisy wanted to get to them with all her golden lead, but now there was a Mi-Go and a Moon Beast at Miskatonic, and a Ghoul and Elder Thing in French Hill. (This happens a lot in a Kingsport-only game.) Well, nothing to do but to do it: I wanted the free insectoid Unique Item, so Daisy went to Miskatonic. Her reward was a Dhol Chants and a Shan from the Sky.
Since Daisy couldn’t stop getting into trouble, Amanda went to the Asylum to recover her brains, and Bob bopped around some old stable Hypnos haunts, like the Police Station and Hibb’s Roadhouse. Daisy read the Dhol Chants for Anna Kaslow—no reason to ever lower her Lore now—and luckily swatted the Shan. She intended to take Silas’ old Time Bomb to the Isle to remove its Dark Young guardian, but the merchants rose up first and ran it out of town on a rail. So instead, she finally met with Bob and Amanda at the River Docks to trade cash and the Tommy Gun for the Magnum. Whoa! Three Dock Encounters?! In the same YEAR?! (Bob looked in a crate and puked, Daisy looked in a crate for some Whiskey, and Amanda almost got tossed into the river by a bunch of crate lifters. CRATES!)
Lola popped back into reality at the Woods for some Clues—I believe in the House Rule that anyone on a Clue at the end of any phase (even Upkeep) can take it, since it’s the best consolation after losing your turn in LiTaS—then disappeared again to Unknown Kadath at the Historical Society. A Lloigor popped out at Independence Square, making itself a prime target for a non-weaponized Time Bomb. So Amanda agreed to hit the Isle, while Daisy stopped one last time at the Curiositie Shoppe for a Hypnos Clue and a Cryptozoology Collection.
A Silver Twilight Lodge ritual release the High Priest of Dagon and his Hound of Tindalos into the French Hill Streets. When Lola returned to Seal the Historical Society (4), he sicced the mutt on her. She beat it with a Stick, Grappled it into submission, then evaded the Priest to duck into Admin for maybe another Skill by Encounter. She ended up with a Retainer instead.
Daisy moved as close to the LLoigor (joined by a Crawling One) as possible to attempt to sneak past them (Downtown Streets), finally reading the De Vermiis Mysteriis to close the R’lyeh Gate in the Woods; we didn’t want to risk losing Amanda, and the High Priest was being a nuisance. (Besides, no one wants to go to R’lyeh anyway. The beaches stink and the food is lousy.) The next turn, Daisy on Max Sneak silently slipped into the Dreamlands, leaving behind the bomb. Of course, then Amanda returned from Another Dimension to Seal the Isle (5), banishing the Lloigor before detonation. (That Closure was the only time Chaugnar’s -1 ever really affected us, so…excellent Seal spread!) At least the Crawling One went out with a bang.
Bob passed his Story—TWO passed Stories in one game: new record for Wings! —but all the Gates were spoken for, so he bought a Bullwhip off of Jimmy the Rat and headed for Kingsport (more busy work than any kind of Rift management). Daisy returned to Seal, but technically we won the moment she Closed the Gate. Woot! Closing Win!
Final Score: 24. I think it’s time to start leaving Hypnos behind, see if we’ve all learned something about Clue Management as a group.