Harvey (Pizza), Roland (Zebra), Skids (Wings), and Monterey (Me) vs. Nyarlathotep. Innsmouth with Dark Pharaoh and Lurker, with appropriate Miskatonic. Guardian Nodens.
Time to put Hypnos away, and see if we’d all learned something about Clue Preservation. For the most part, we did. Plus, there was a perfect Nodens event that endeared him to the group, so it shouldn’t be too hard to start using Nodens instead of Hypnos as the resident Guardian. (I think we can all agree that Nodens, while still being supportive, is not nearly as advantageous as Hypnos.)
For his starting possessions, Monterey drew the Golden Sword of Y’ha-Talla (taken!) and a choice between the Flute of the Elder Gods and the Zanthu Tablets. With all of the 3/7 Investigators in play, no one really wanted to use the Flute, so I took the Tablets with the intention of giving them to Harvey. Roland started with Psychology, William Bain—Pop Quiz: when is the only time you don’t want to gain William Bain? When there are NO Doom Tokens in play, dammit!—the Book of Dzyan, and a Time Bomb. But wait, here’s the good part: Harvey started with Ancient Languages, Storm of Spirits, Shriveling, Lamp of Alhazred, and Brazier of Souls. Between Dzyan and Zanthu and the perfect “Hurricane Harvey” Spell (not to mention too many two-handed items), it would seem that the Universe had decided that Pizza would be playing a Spellcaster. (“Yer a wizard, Harvey!”) Postgame Interview: I asked if Pizza liked Spells (because Zebra loves them and Wings hates them). “If I have the Sanity, yes!” Very defensive player…”calculating”, he calls it.
Meanwhile, Wings had drawn, for the second time in two games, one of the other new Miskatonic Skills: Clairvoyant, which mimics Skids’ special ability, which makes one wonder what exactly they are teaching in the School of Hard Knocks. Her starting possessions were a bit on the thin side: a Rabbit’s Foot, a Soul Gem and an Old Journal. Wings protested that if her miniature started with a gun, she should too. We’re never absolutely certain that she’s joking when she says things like that.
The boys decided to shop and trade, hubbing off of Harvey at the General Store by Turn 2, since Harvey’s a bit of a dodderer. Harvey hobbled to the Unnamable, bumping into Dr. Ali Kafour (he of the penetrating gaze), furthering the Professor’s position as Magic-User. Not to mention that he brought with him an Illuminated Manuscript, ensuring Harvey extra Clues (if he could only get his Speed up). Roland shared the Keen Analysts Relationship with Harvey (very appropriate for both of them), and powered by his own Intuition and Bain’s Speed boost, he would constantly dodge into Harvey’s location, gain one of them a Clue, and dodge back out to his intended destination. At the Unnamable, Harvey got the Book of Dzyan, and Roland used the Brazier-Lamp one-two for the rest of the game. Roland then dodged out to investigate the Ancient Whispers, losing a shattered Pentagram of Blood for the Visions Benefit.
Monterey bought a Pallid Mask (amongst a Powder of Ibn-Ghazi, a Holy Water, and Sealing the Beast’s Power: what would YOU have bought?), then a Lantern, trading his .38 (eventually to Roland for Skids) for Harvey’s recently-bought .45 and Roland’s Time Bomb. (I’m the only player who enjoys a good Time Bomb.) Harvey stayed in the General Store to read his many Tomes, eventually acquiring a Map of Arkham, compensating for Harvey’s primary weakness (never mind that Speed issue, thanks!).
Skids read his book (despite Wings’ supreme distaste for Tomes of any kind), and stumbled into two Clues at the Historical Society, passing his Story on Turn 1 and gaining a Dread Curse. (Wings was thrilled with how quickly she achieved this, but not at all thrilled with the results. Who decided Skids ought to be a Spellcaster?!) Figuring she had earned herself a personal moment, she went to the Church to try to hook up with Nodens. The Universe chose to be a jerk about it, and after three Encounter cards (losing her Rabbit’s Foot), all Wings got was delayed and another book: the Eltdown Shards. (We tried to tell her this was a good thing, but Wings no do books! Wings SMASH!) After passing his Story gathering some southern Clues, Roland finally came along with Monty’s .38, and Wings dumped everything she didn’t like on him. (Discard fodder, you say? Wings no fear Madness/Injury! Bring it!)
Meanwhile, Monterey had been looking for monster trophies, since he was out of the Sealing biz until he could acquire three trophies. Let’s see what Nyarlathotep had to say about that. Here is the list of monsters, in order, that came out of the Cup:
- The Dhole – removed by “private security” the same turn it emerged. (Yeesh! Didn’t want that one anyway!)
- A Cultist
- The Shadowy Figure – “Never mind, I’ll do it MYSELF!”
- Another Cultist
- Deep One Hybrid, in Innsmouth
- Mi-Go, sent to the Sky and NEVER CAME DOWN.
- Another Cultist!!
And then actual trophies finally started entering play. SIIIIIIIIGH. So Monterey went north to kill the fishface, managing to get Cursed shortly afterward. Stupid Crawling Chaos.
Harvey just sat and read for Spells, but since he and Monty were Students of the Arcane, Monty would also get some Spells (that he probably shouldn’t cast). Harvey got Intervene, Monty got Alchemical Process…Flesh Ward, Control Gate…Curse of Darkness, Inner Beast. Harvey became a Master Thaumaturgist, while Monty became some street magician. (Ooo, sorry, Dexter. )
Either by coincidence, or by the game attempting to demonstrate to Wings that it was in charge, Roland managed to brilliantly pass what could be the best Church Encounter for Nodens, and Blessed everyone. (Well, everyone got a Will Check to be Blessed, and even Monterey rolled a six on his single die!) Skids got +1 Fight, Harvey got a Spell Refresh, and Roland got a free five-monster-toughness, which he eventually used to bless Monterey! And if that wasn’t enough…after dropping off Skids magic junk to Harvey (plus another “let’s compare notes” Clue), Roland popped back out to the Ancient Whispers again. He found the Execration Text, but he was accused of the Exhibit theft and acquired the Wanted Deficit. However, due to his Expense Account, all this really did was curtail Zebra’s love of shopping. Not only that, Zebra shrewdly realized that by deliberately not paying off the cops on any given turn, Wanted would, for 0 Focus, automatically jack his Sneak to its highest value. Leave it to the Fed to find the silver lining of a frame job!
I think the game was pretty ticked off at this point, and threw out the New Moon Environment. This Esoteric Order of Dagon Gate was followed next turn by our first Devil Reef Gate, spawning a Hound of Tindalos, which promptly moved to Monty at the Marsh Refineries.
Skids left for Leng at Independence Square. Monty set the Time Bomb with the shortest fuse and snuck away from the Hound with his Pallid Mask. Unfortunately, the Hound did not stay put, and only Harvey was in a location. But Magus Harvey just chuckled and blasted the Hound back to angle dust.
Roland used the Execration Text to return the Shadowy Figure to the Cup (the Great Meddler only snagged one Clue at Hibbs), then Blessed Monterey (for the rest of the game! Woot!). Nodens gave Monterey a Blessing worth three Clues. Hang on a sec…1 Nodens Blessing + 2 Research Materials from the First National Grocery = 1 Seal with NO actual Clues, and therefore NO failed Story! But there was no time; Nyarlathotep was nearing his Gate Limit. Monty grabbed one Research Materials and hoped he could find one Clue on the other side. Not too hard to Sneak past a Colour at the Marsh Refineries to leave for the City of the Great Race.
Zebra sent Roland to the Abyss via the Graveyard, but then had an odd Encounter: if he failed a skill check, he would be delayed; if he succeeded, he would be diverted to the Dreamlands.
“I don’t want to go to the Dreamlands!”
“Then fail the roll.”
“Can’t I just not roll?”
“Unfortunately, no. But you can sandbag yourself by not adding any bonuses. How many dice would that leave you?”
Of course he passed the check. But at least there was a way out: the Lenglands Gate at the Order of Dagon. Except that Harvey had already followed Skids to Leng with the intention of coming out there as well…
Skids returned to Arkham and Sealed (1) Independence Square. By now, all those open Gates had surged a couple of times, and the Streets were just waiting for Wings’ style of justice. Except it turned out to be too much of a good thing. (Twilight Zone by way of Nyarlathotep?) The New Moon Environment was replaced by Icy Conditions: same Movement Point loss, different day. Wings gathered a couple more Clues and Mountain Murphy at the Black Cave, and intended to finish Roland’s job of closing the Abyss. She zipped into the Streets, whacked a Cultist, and moved to the Graveyard…wait, what?
“You can’t go there.”
”Yes I can. I have enough Movement Left.” (I think she meant to counteract the Icy Conditions.)
“No no. Combat ends movement. You can’t move after you fought the Cultist.”
”Sure I can! That guy didn’t even slow me down! I just >SMACK< and ran past him!”
I hate to shut her down when she’s that enthusiastic. Usually I just look at Pizza with a “Will you stop her?” look on my face, which is usually returned with a “Pfft! You stop her, sucka!” look on his.
Of course, then it got worse. But we’ll get back to that.
I had picked up some kind of hitchhiking ghost (Local Guide Deficit). I suppose it was a Yithian in Monty’s head. But I did happen to get that one Clue I needed! (“Things suddenly make sense!”) After I Sealed (2) the Marsh Refineries with only one actual Clue (hee!), I was going to constantly use Zebra’s Visions to counteract the Focus loss as I tried to get out of Innsmouth before the cops found me. Meanwhile, Harvey was down to 4 Clues saving himself from a Devouring, but reacquired his Seal the moment he and Roland “compared notes” again! Harvey got the Seal (3) for his Story, since Roland was still using Wanted to his advantage (especially now that Martial Law had been declared). We tried to loophole the rules by saying that Harvey had a Gate Trophy AND a Clue Token (between the Close and the Seal) to pass his Story, but that was a bit like Navarre and Isabeau trying to touch each other at the moment of sunrise in Ladyhawke. Roland killed a Tcho-Tcho in the Church Green—for a…Knife? Really? That actually makes sense—clearing the way for Harvey get back to Arkham with 1 Sanity, reading for a Clue along the way, and passing his Story. The Great and Powerful Harvey, indeed.
Okay, so now it gets worse. The Great Ritual hit the board, and the last thing we needed was more Gates. We came up with a plan, and made sure Nyarlathotep heard every frickin’ word of it. D’oh!
The plan was to give Roland three junk Spells and send him to French Hill to quash the Rumor: Dread Curse and Shrivelling—no one was using either of them, since Harvey was happy with the Storm of Spirits—and Summon the Inner Beast (no one wanted it!). I just had to get Monty to Roland. Well, first a Ghoul ambushed Monterey (only my second monster trophy!), then the Flying Polyp came from the Arkham skies (damn Roland’s high insta-Sneak!). Very well: Roland, go! I’ll meet you in Arkham!
A Chthonian planted his segmented butt on Devil Reef, and started to boogie EVERY TURN, grinding Pizza’s teeth whenever the First Player rolled for an earthquake. Awright: Monty can cast Control Gate on the Graveyard and Skids can banish the Chthonian when he closes it.
The dreaded R’lyss gate hit the Historical Society. Sheesh: change of venue! Control Gate THAT one, and get it off the board. Skids will just change his flight plan.
Nyarlathotep threw everything it could on top of Skids, turn after turn. As Skids slogged down the east side of Arkham: a Cultist, a Leng Spider, a Goat Thing, a Formless Spawn, another Cultist, a Deep One. Wings was infuriated. She loves combat, but she was trying to complete a task, and that bastard Nyarlathotep was not only preventing her from doing it, but had taken the joy of combat from her as his method. “Seven turns!!! It took me seven turns to get TWO SPACES!!!”
Monterey finally got back to Arkham, and parked at the stable River Docks. Roland drove by for the Inner Beast after acquiring the services of John Legrasse (a little late for you NOW, Mr. Endless Trophies!) at the Unvisited Isle, and zoomed off to French Hill. Just after the Rumor was passed, I got the full force of Big N’s wrath: Lose a Check, -2 Sanity, move to the Street. Pass that Check, -1 Sanity, and only delayed. After casting Control Gate, Monterey only had 1 Sanity left. (Stable Location, my eye.) Addiction Madness. Well, forget about losing Local Guide…
Wings had already sent Skids to the Witch House instead, which had been spewing monsters on her. Pizza had sent Harvey to help remove her frustration, so he went to take care of the Historical Society. That left Roland to head back to the Abyss at the Graveyard for a rematch, so Monterey went to clear his way by killing the Leng Spider that KILLED MY FATHER! (Four passed Stories: how come Monterey gets a Max Sanity boost without immediately gaining to his Current as well?!)
The Marsh Refineries burst, bringing us back to 6 open Gates. Tick tick tick tick tick…
As you could anticipate, the turn before Skids was to exit, the Unvisited Isle popped Gate 7. BOOM.
Well, I hate to say it, but let’s be honest: it’s only Nyarlathotep, one of the simplest Final Battles. (I should have pulled out the Epic Battle cards, but without warning them ahead of time? Mean!) Even loaded down with Magically-Resisted weapons, we were still rolling handfuls of dice: Monterey with the Golden Sword and .45, Harvey with Storm of Spirits (and a few Intervenes, on Monty while he was still Blessed, then on Skids for his 1 rerolls), Roland with the Brazier, and Skids with the .38-Axe combo. I tried to pull a dramatic one-die Whip reroll for that last hit point, but Nyarlathotep would not suffer such feeble indignities. Still, we never had to roll for a Lore (-3) Check. Final Score: 19. I think that can be blamed on soooo many non-trophied monsters.
Seems like it was a back-and-forth between Nodens and Nyarlathotep all game. I’m glad Nodens made a good showing; I should be able to leave Hypnos alone for a while. There were only a couple of times that any of us used Clues for a trinket rather than survival…proud of that!