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Soakman

Scenario 1: The Initiation (In Blackest Pits campaign)

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Posted (edited)

Hello friends, 

I know there is a lot of exciting news with the announcement of the new investigator starter decks, but we've also got a void to fill while FFG is on hiatus. To help, I wanted to announce that I have begun work on a fan-created campaign title In Blackest Pits.  The first scenario (The Initiation) has been completed and is available at BGG and now also at Arkham Central (http://arkhamcentral.com/index.php/in-darkest-pits-campaign/). There should also be a TTS version coming with the next Super Complete mod or you can get the files from my steam workshop and set up yourself (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2031905027). Here's a bit of a synopsis for you:

Quote

 

The citizens of Arkham are once again acting strangely, and no doubt the newly formed Silver Twilight Lodge is at the heart of these strange occurrences. With the well-being of your neighbors in mind, you decide to infiltrate the lodge to find out what is really going. But first you’ll have to pass Carl Sanford’s initiation.  In “The Initiation” each investigator is assigned a role and will have their own Act deck to complete as they work to impress Mr. Sanford and gain his trust. Just how far are you willing to take this charade?

Carl Sanford gathers the initiates together for what he refers to as the Initiation, a first test on the path to becoming a true proponent of the lodge. You are warned countless times that the trials ahead will not be for the faint of heart. You may even begin to wonder if you are truly working for the common good, but you must always give your trust completely to the lodge. After all, this is not some fraternity initiation; this will be a violent and difficult undertaking.  You are taken into a room for a private briefing. Sanford tells you there is a gang of bootleggers that have taken over an abandoned farmstead that will be of very much use to the lodge. You must run them out, but there are just a few more tasks that are asked of you. You who show such promise. You who have been chosen for a very particular end.

 

Enjoy! Further scenarios will be coming as they are completed. Any ratings/reviews/questions would be welcome at Arkham Central if you decide to give it a try.

Edit: The Initiation is now available in the TTS super complete mod! Shout-out to Dran for his excellent work.

Edited by Soakman
Now Available on TTS

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3 hours ago, Soakman said:

Hello friends, 

I know there is a lot of exciting news with the announcement of the new investigator starter decks, but we've also got a void to fill while FFG is on hiatus. To help, I wanted to announce that I have begun work on a fan-created campaign title In Blackest Pits.  The first scenario (The Initiation) has been completed and is available at BGG and now also at Arkham Central (http://arkhamcentral.com/index.php/in-darkest-pits-campaign/). There should also be a TTS version coming with the next Super Complete mod or you can get the files from my steam workshop and set up yourself (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2031905027). Here's a bit of a synopsis for you:

Enjoy! Further scenarios will be coming as they are completed. Any ratings/reviews/questions would be welcome at Arkham Central if you decide to give it a try.

Looks great.  We'll definitely give this a try this week (while staying a healthy distance from each other, of course!).

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Posted (edited)

We test played it and it is awesome! It’s solidly written, has a very clever mechanic to ensure high replay-ability, plays more like an FFG product than fan made, and a story line which is very Arkhamesque. 
Thanks for helping us fill the void Soakman! 

 

Edited by Mimi61

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I really enjoyed this. Great mechanic with the roles and personal acts. We thought it was a bit easy and felt that something was missing with the truck. There were only two of us and we rarely seemed to draw an enemy. It almost feels like a mechanic is missing that says something like “at the beginning of the monster phase, if there are any clues on Ordinary truck, spawn a mobster minion (sorry, can’t remember specific language) at the ordinary truck.”

thanks for the hard work you put into this scenario. It was a blast.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/2/2020 at 6:26 PM, Minlari said:

I really enjoyed this. Great mechanic with the roles and personal acts. We thought it was a bit easy and felt that something was missing with the truck. There were only two of us and we rarely seemed to draw an enemy. It almost feels like a mechanic is missing that says something like “at the beginning of the monster phase, if there are any clues on Ordinary truck, spawn a mobster minion (sorry, can’t remember specific language) at the ordinary truck.”

thanks for the hard work you put into this scenario. It was a blast.

Thanks Minlari! I appreciate the notes, and taking the time to let me know what you thought! 

I had almost gone that route with the Ordinary Truck that you bring up here, actually, but there were several runs while playtesting where we were overwhelmed by enemies, so I went the route of spawn specific 'reinforcements.' I think it can come down to which investigators you're using (to some extent roles, and how fast you can dispatch enemies) and also the player count. Distribution between treacheries and enemies in the encounter deck is fairly even, so it's possible that you'll see fewer enemies than treacheries but it's going to vary a bit game from game.

It is scenario 1, so I didn't want to make it too difficult either, but we'll see how devious I get. I don't want to push players away by making things too hard either.

Happy to hear you had fun (the most important part to me)! The 2nd scenario is in early development stages. It's also a bit of a strange one.  I'm just hoping players enjoy it. I love reading feedback, and seem to get relatively small amounts of it compared to download numbers, so comment like yours are well appreciated and help fuel my flame knowing that others are enjoying it too. 

Edited by Soakman

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I've been learning TTS this past week in preparation for the Worldwide Blob event on Saturday (sign up here).  I was thrilled to see all the fan made scenarios it makes available.  Once I'm through my current Carcosa run, I'm planning to try some of these, starting with this.

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Posted (edited)

I played solo Winifred through the scenario on standard difficulty and was able to beat it during Agenda 2a. I was able to use Wini's high Evade and Intel Report to complete my steps of the Envoy process very quickly. So it seemed pretty easy for a blind play through. I do like how enemies were force spawned on me so that I could complete my objectives since playing solo on a tight clock could mean I never see an enemy otherwise. Smart design there. I did not get a chance to see anything related to the set aside "just an ordinary car" and maybe missed out on important narrative or victory points?  However, I love the Ocean's Eleven feel and our playgroup plans on revisiting as a team. It was fun and replayable and I want to see the other tasks and maybe get less lucky. The roles were brilliant additions and I hope they feature in the future scenarios. 

The back of my Act deck told me that,

 "...the Sheldon Gang has definitely received the message," however, because there was no car slashing or field burning involved in my playthrough, I was not instructed to record that fact in my campaign log. Which seemed weird.

 

Thanks for the good times!

Edited by Iuchi Toshimo

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Posted (edited)

Thanks guys for the comments!

@Iuchi Toshimo Yes, playtesting for solo is pretty challenging. I absolutely respect the desire to true solo, but I can completely understand the difficulty of design balance respecting all player counts now. Things get particularly crazy with multiple Act Decks and non-traditional mechanics that fall outside of the 'hoover clues, spend them, repeat' scenario pathing. I know 'Where the Gods Dwell' has some issues solo too. I hadn't considered a solo player getting through quite so quickly when I wrote that Act flavor.

Glad you had fun! And enough that you may revisit it with friends.

 

In this particular situation, I suppose what your investigator thinks versus what the Sheldon Gang thinks may not coincide, hah! That's a very fair point. I could touch up the flavor text here a bit and probably fix the thematic disconnect. Time will tell. As long as there's no game-stopping bugs, I'll probably try to upload the most polished I have for each scenario after playtests, and then maybe go back and tweak them for things that people bring to my attention once the cycle is complete. I'm hoping for 5-6 scenarios, which I know will take some time. But I'd like to keep working forward in the interest of having a complete cycle.

Edited by Soakman

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Posted (edited)
On 4/7/2020 at 7:34 PM, Soakman said:

It is scenario 1, so I didn't want to make it too difficult either, but we'll see how devious I get. I don't want to push players away by making things too hard either.

We decided it would be perfect to plug into Circle Undone right after the opening scenarios. So we have “joined the lodge” and tomorrow we will be initiated!!

 The only thing is that we have some XP, so any thoughts as to how to make it a little tougher? We can play on expert, but our chaos bag is built for TCU. 

Edited by Mimi61

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Mimi61 said:

We decided it would be perfect to plug into Circle Undone right after the opening scenarios. So we have “joined the lodge” and tomorrow we will be initiated!!

 The only thing is that we have some XP, so any thoughts as to how to make it a little tougher? We can play on expert, but our chaos bag is built for TCU. 

That does sound fun! Just curious which investigators/roles you are? Without changing the chaos bag, I'm not really sure what would qualify for an easy difficulty spike. You could start with a couple of doom on the first Agenda, or depending on the investigators and how much it would matter, you could start with Imposter Syndrome in your threat areas (seems like it could be appropriate for the situation).

I also, at one point while testing, had the bootleggers with 3 health and lowered that down to 2. Going from enemies with 2 health to 3 health makes a significant impact. But it's going to depend on how you're built as far as how much of a difficulty spike that would be. It will usually at least cost an extra action per turn if you're not evading them. And the bootleggers can be dangerous to leave unattended for long. An inconvenient Beep Beep later in the scenario may have them spouting clues somewhere you really don't want them to.

Edited by Soakman

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Soakman said:

That does sound fun! Just curious which investigators/roles you are? Without changing the chaos bag, I'm not really sure what would qualify for an easy difficulty spike. You could start with a couple of doom on the first Agenda, or depending on the investigators and how much it would matter, you could start with Imposter Syndrome in your threat areas (seems like it could be appropriate for the situation).

I also, at one point while testing, had the bootleggers with 3 health and lowered that down to 2. Going from enemies with 2 health to 3 health makes a significant impact. But it's going to depend on how you're built as far as how much of a difficulty spike that would be. It will usually at least cost an extra action per turn if you're not evading them. And the bootleggers can be dangerous to leave unattended for long. An inconvenient Beep Beep later in the scenario may have them spouting clues somewhere you really don't want them to.

We are playing Ursula and Dexter (we bought Dexter‘s Novella and would’ve had him by now, so printed him out for the time being). Our Chaos bag is a little tougher from the get go, because we have cultists in it. We took your suggestion of starting with Imposter Syndrome in our threat areas. The Roles are The Occultist and The Invoker. 
We are just getting ready to start, so will update this when we are done. 
And I found some art, but haven’t been able to figure out how to upload it. 

Edited by Mimi61

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Mimi61 said:

We are playing Ursula and Dexter (we bought Dexter‘s Novella and would’ve had him by now, so printed him out for the time being). Our Chaos bag is a little tougher from the get go, because we have cultists in it. We took your suggestion of starting with Imposter Syndrome in our threat areas. The Roles are The Occultist and The Invoker. 
We are just getting ready to start, so will update this when we are done. 
And I found some art, but haven’t been able to figure out how to upload it. 

Oh wow, excellent. I'm so intrigued by Dexter and Ursula should be well-equipped for The Initiation. Hope you guys have oodles of fun. 🙂 There's quite a bit of synergy between those two roles as well. You'll either be able to assist each other pretty handily or you'll be in each other's hair a lot with Imposter syndrome.

If you even have a link to where the source image is, you can just send me a link to the art. Other good fileshare options include dropbox or googleshare.

Edited by Soakman

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Soakman said:

Oh wow, excellent. I'm so intrigued by Dexter and Ursula should be well-equipped for The Initiation. Hope you guys have oodles of fun. 🙂 There's quite a bit of synergy between those two roles as well. You'll either be able to assist each other pretty handily or you'll be in each other's hair a lot with Imposter syndrome.

If you even have a link to where the source image is, you can just send me a link to the art. Other good fileshare options include dropbox or googleshare.

It was really fun, but was challenging! Poor Ursula drew 4 enemies in a row right off the bat and Dexter was too far away to help. He was through his Act 2 before she could even leave the starting location! Even with an entire pack of hounds on our tail the whole rest of the scenario, we got it done. We need to pack some chew bones next time.  Clouded Thoughts actually saved her a whole turn of actions, because she was at Stagnant Pond and had to put clues on that location if she failed. The only time I have heard such exclamations of joy by drawing the Auto Fail! 

It is a perfect insert for TCU if you have either joined the lodge or say you have (and are lying). The only suggestion I have if you were to do that, is not to read the prologue, but skip straight to The Initiation. It sounds like it was written just for that circumstance in TCU as does the resolution. 

I have Dropbox, so will try that. It could be duplicating what you already have seen though.  

Edited by Mimi61

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That's awesome. I'm glad to hear it's also challenging in some cases. It can definitely be a risk separating. What better way to find clues relating to murky depths than to assess why your thoughts are so clouded? I love it. Thanks for sharing a report of the play. I haven't tried it TCU adjacent, but it sounds like it could be a fun pit stop. Clever insertion there on your part too.

There's no rush for the art, but I would love to see what you've uncovered. Some of it may be things that I've seen, but it is one of the more time-consuming parts of the process, so if I find anything I would be well pleased. Thank you for the time on your part as well. You've been a fantastic help. I plan to play scenario 2 a few more times in its current state before assessing whether or not to seek out testers yet. I'm on the fence about a few elements, but I want it to be a positive experience even in testing stages.

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We played this standalone with 4 investigators and while I was quite impressed with the story and the ideas, the scaling seemed off.

Because we had 4 investigators, we had 4 acts, but each of them had an objective that scaled with the number of investgators itself, so we didn't need to do twice as much as two investigators would, but four times as much. It also seems like the Acts would be very punishing when playing investigators with unusual focus for their class. Killing 8 enemies would be close to impossible for Carolyn, for example.

To me, it also seemed like there were too many enemies and the Learning Curve treachery seemed super punishing.

Admittedly, we were playing on hard, but we also had standalone decks with xp, and we didn't come close to winning. I have a hard time seeing this being doable for four ibestigators without xp.

 

I really loved the car driving around though, it seems like you can do a bunch of cool stuff with that.

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Scenario 2 of In Blackest Pits is nearly ready for playtesting. I'll be sending out files to those who playtested before. There's no obligation to test again, but wanted to put out unofficial notice here. My printer is sadly low on ink, and I'd like to run through one more test before sending anything out. 

Hope everyone is staying safe and COVID free. It sounds like Arkham Central got a few new scenarios all at once from other creators as well, so if you're stuck at home and have some free time, I think those will also be up soon.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/13/2020 at 8:51 AM, Watno said:

We played this standalone with 4 investigators and while I was quite impressed with the story and the ideas, the scaling seemed off.

Because we had 4 investigators, we had 4 acts, but each of them had an objective that scaled with the number of investgators itself, so we didn't need to do twice as much as two investigators would, but four times as much. It also seems like the Acts would be very punishing when playing investigators with unusual focus for their class. Killing 8 enemies would be close to impossible for Carolyn, for example.

To me, it also seemed like there were too many enemies and the Learning Curve treachery seemed super punishing.

Admittedly, we were playing on hard, but we also had standalone decks with xp, and we didn't come close to winning. I have a hard time seeing this being doable for four ibestigators without xp.

 

I really loved the car driving around though, it seems like you can do a bunch of cool stuff with that.

Thanks for your comments (this only just showed up on the board today even though it says it was posted on 04/13, weird)! Surprisingly, you're one of the first to tell me the scenario is not too easy! I do hear you on the scaling of the acts, but not all of the acts scale on player count, and it can also be much easier to defeat 8 enemies when there are 4 players because you don't have to do all the damage yourself (presumably there's at least 2/4 that can handle enemies to some degree).

Carolyn actually has the option (at least in the most up-to-date version, which I think is uploaded) to take the Offering Role as well. Admittedly, she is probably the extreme case of not being suitable to the Act for the role taken based on her class, but it's still not impossible with the help of Alice Luxley. The majority of others probably won't have too many issues. 

I've had players with 0 xp complete it with 4 investigators, but there will be some acts that you can assist other players with and some you can't. There are also acts with some roles that overlap in locations a little which makes committing to each others tests etc easier in some cases (Invoker and Occultist for instance).

I hope you had some fun with it and am sorry if you had a negative experience (especially if it was because you had a Carolyn playing as the Expendable in 4 player, that sounds like a real challenge). I do find that the scenario becomes much easier after you've played a blind playthrough, which was one of my goals. I like scenarios that you can learn and get better at because it affords more replayability I feel.

In some ways, the 4 vs 2 player count makes it easier to accomplish both Expendable and Envoy Acts because it ensures you will see more enemies in play. While everyone has their own Act deck in this scenario, I find that it is still best to use co-op to accomplish your goals. Sticking an Envoy and an Expendable together, for instance, can be very useful as the Envoy can evade more enemies and do minor damage while the Expendable finishes them off. 

Again, I'm pleased as punch and appreciative that you had the time to give it a try. I just hope you don't feel like it was a complete bust.

Edited by Soakman

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Posted (edited)

Just played on TTS using Preston and Diana.  A full-powered Decoy was great for Preston's first Act as Envoy.  I really liked the mood and theme, and the Role mechanic is great!

Just a few issues:  

I agree with Watno that there were too many enemies.  I lost because an Act enemy spawned on Diana while three Hunters were one location away, even though I'd killed four and left two evaded at the beginning.  Then another spawned to finish off Preston.  And none of them are lightweights.

It became moot quickly, but it wasn't clear to me what happens if someone is eliminated.  Their Act stays in play, but you can't advance someone else's Act.  So how do things advance at that point?

Diana as a blade wielder instead of a spell-caster would have been an additional problem had she lasted.

Edited by CSerpent

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, CSerpent said:

Just played on TTS using Preston and Diana.  A full-powered Decoy was great for Preston's first Act as Envoy.  I really liked the mood and theme, and the Role mechanic is great!

Just a few issues:  

I agree with Watno that there were too many enemies.  I lost because an Act enemy spawned on Diana while three Hunters were one location away, even though I'd killed four and left two evaded at the beginning.  Then another spawned to finish off Preston.  And none of them are lightweights.

It became moot quickly, but it wasn't clear to me what happens if someone is eliminated.  Their Act stays in play, but you can't advance someone else's Act.  So how do things advance at that point?

Diana as a blade wielder instead of a spell-caster would have been an additional problem had she lasted.

Thanks! I tried to make it as clear in the scenario guide as I could without giving too much away, but may have bungled it and left questions unanswered. It sounds like you have it correct though. When an investigator is eliminated, their Acts stay in play. So if the investigator had finished their Act before being defeated or resigning, it still counts as meeting its objective. There are a few exceptions with a role or two where in order to pass the final objective, you must be present in general or at a specific location.

Basically if you don't complete all the objectives, you don't get the 'best' resolution. However, if you make it to the end of the agenda deck,

 

Carl is impressed by your wherewithal and his opinion is much higher than if you both are defeated or resign or a combo thereof. Carl is encouraging everyone to see their unique task is complete and pushing that at any cost, but Carl does not value the team mentality that you often need to ensure a mission is successful.

So lasting out the remainder of the scenario while collecting victory points is a good alternative if you find that someone goes down too early (or, if you want to, you can turn tail and resign). This is meant to be a unique challenge of the scenario.

As with the FFG scenarios, in terms of the overall campaign, not getting the BEST outcome doesn't mean you've failed or will not be able to progress. I'm hoping players enjoy the experience and are interested in replays enough to overcome the obstacles that gave them the most trouble.

I had difficulties with the numbers of enemies too when I started playtesting this, but testers were giving me the opposite feedback, so although I did lower some enemy health during testing,  I decided to err on the side of a challenge. Current feedback is that the 2nd scenario is easier, which may not be a bad thing. But I need more playtest feedback. It's hard to walk the line between too easy for vets and too hard for new players. I'm hoping there will be a bit of both throughout the campaign. 

With the initiation, it can also come down to encounter card draw. There are no lighweight enemies per se, but 2 health enemies are prevalent instead of 3 with the exception of hired gun. You're going to want to remove the hunters more often than evading them or they can pile up. In which case, you can back yourself into a corner and find that you are action starved until you deal with them more permanently. 

Edited by Soakman

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