Dunwich is already as hard as fruitcake left in the snow. But I had this horrible idea to make it a much, much more epic challenge:
Who they are
The four specific guys we're dealing with here are Cthulhu, Hastur, Ithaqua, and Tsathoggua. Not only are their homeworlds represented in four of the outer worlds (important!), but in combat they don't harm stamina more than sanity.
The four GOOs are associated with these outer worlds:
Here's where the fun begins!
Gameplay is for the most part going to behave like usual (same monster limit, outskirts limit, gates to awaken, etc) except for these changes:
The Worshipper abilities are cumulative!
That means at the start of the game, Cultists are flying, have a horror rating of -2 and sanity damage of 2, a combat rating of -2 (one stamina damage) and three toughness. Yikes! Formless Spawn have whatever Tsathoggua gives them; stalking and something else (an extra toughness?).
Players get -1 max sanity and max stamina, receive 1 stamina damage from ending their turn in the streets, weather and urban environment cards can't come out, it costs 8 clues to seal gates, and alternate encounters can't be performed at specific locations that aren't shops (or the hospital or asylum).
You may be thinking, "you're insane!" Well that may be so, but here's what you have to look forward to:
Doom tokens will be "more spread out."
First of all, there aren't enough doom tokens to go around. instead, use only one and place it on the current number that each AO is supposed to have. There is no need to fill up all the spaces underneath its current. Think of it as a placeholder.
When a gate opens to one of the four outer worlds associated with its specific Ancient One, that AO gets the doom token. If a the gate is to any of the other six locations, select at random which AO gets the doom token. If a CotPD "double-doom" card is drawn, select at random which AO gets both tokens. Same goes for if the terror level is 10 and it goes to increase again. Only if it increases by more than one at a time, only one valid AO should receive all the doom tokens. This avoids any awkward situations regarding awakening AOs: it should only be one at a time or all available AOs at once.
There is an annexed victory condition.
The investigators immediately win if all AOs are incapacitated and/or defeated.
Each of the AOs is associated with one specific outer world; there are two gate tokens for each outer world. If the investigators own as trophies both gates to one of those four specific outer worlds, the associated AO is now "incapacitated." All effects that AO has over gameplay and worshippers are ignored as long as that AO is "incapacitated." Also incapacitated AOs don't gain doom tokens and are out of the running when deciding which random active AO gets a doom token.
Example: as soon as an investigator collects the second trophy to R'lyeh (it doesn't matter who has the other one, just as long as both are claimed), all investigators get back their lost max sanity and stamina (although it has to be "healed back" manually). Cultists no longer require their horror check, nor do sanity damage from that check.
Incidentally, Cultists in mid-flight should be returned to the cup if Hastur is incapacitated. This problem also arises if an investigator casts "Denying the Ancient One" under similar circumstances.
As soon as either of those gate trophies is spent or otherwise discarded, the corresponding AO is no longer incapacitated and his game and worshipper effects resume (until he is once more incapacitated or even defeated in combat).
There are really still only three conditions (close, seal, defeat), but if at any time all the AOs are any combination of incapacitated (by investigators owning both their corresponding gate trophies), or defeated in combat (either one-by-one or in simultaneous AO combat -- see AO Combat section below for more details), the game is won by the investigators!
Same as regular AH. If all investigators are devoured during combat with one or more AOs, the game is over and the investigators lose.
If AO combat begins by one of the AOs getting its doom track to the top or if another cause awakens them (max gates or max monsters no available gates/monsters when needed), pause the game and discard all Environment and Rumor cards in play to the bottom of the Mythos deck. Investigators do not roll for Retainers or gain money during combat, but they still roll for Curse and Blessing and other upkeep-related things. Investigators who are Lost in Time and Space when one or more AOs awaken are still devoured.
Also: any cards that require you to discard them when the AO awakens (e.g. Healing Stone) should be treated as if they are not in the game and be returned to their owners if the investigators win the combat but AO(s) still remain in play. But if Ithaqua is one of the AOs involved in this combat, investigators should still roll to see if they are discarded.
If just one AO has woken up because a doom token has brought its track to full, the investigators do combat with that one AO like in a regular AH game. If the investigators are defeated, they lose the game. If the AO is defeated, and there are more active AOs in play, the game resumes where the investigators left off, regaining access to their "ignored" items and retaining damages and losses from the battle. Players who were devoured draw a new investigator to continue gameplay from where the last Mythos card was interrupted. The defeated AO is removed from the game and his worshipper and game effects no longer take place. Also opening gates to his homeworld now put a random doom token on one of the other AOs.
If continuing left-off gameplay leads immediately to another combat with a different AO, (for example: Cthulhu was awakened when the open gate on the Mythos card gate him his final doom token. He was defeated and the Mythos card resumes to putting a monster on the gate's location, but that monster overflows the outskirts and raises the terror level to 10, placing the final doom token on Tsathoggua), you may still draw new investigators for the devoured players before beginning the new combat.
If the AOs are awoken by some cause other than any one particular doom track filling, then combat is begun with all active (not incapacitated or already defeated) AOs!
Combat with multiple AOs should be handled like this:
You pick what order the "Start of Battle" effects take place.
When it is the investigators' chance to attack, each investigator may pick which AO to attack. The AOs still need successes equal to the number of players to lose doom tokens, but successes rolled by investigators are multiplied by the number of AOs involved when combat started.
Example: There are four players, and three Ancient Ones awaken because the seventh gate has opened (assume Cthulhu has already been defeated in combat or has been "incapacitated" because both R'lyeh gates are claimed). All investigators must discard all their clue tokens, roll to see which items they keep, and set Hastur's combat modifier equal to the terror track. After their upkeep phase, investigators take turns picking an AO and rolling. each success counts as 3 successes because combat began with 3 AOs at once. Even as each AO is defeated, successes are still triple for the entire battle.
Then each AO does his signature attack on all investigators, in any order the investigators choose. Order of their attacks should have no bearing on the battle. Attacks go back and forth until either all investigators are devoured or all AOs are defeated (or indeed already incapacitated). If all AOs are defeated and/or incapacitated, the investigators win!
NOTE: Tsathoggua's attack forces investigators to discard gate trophies. Discarding the gate trophies that are being used to "incapacitate" any AOs does not wake them up unless the battle is won by the investigators. At that time, devoured players should choose new investigators, and then combat will immediately begin with the "unsealed" AO(s).
The Curse of the Dark Pharaoh expansion includes three Gate Encounter cards that feature two colors, in which the unlucky sucker who happens to be in the printed outer world must fight the listed AO, one-on-one. These cards can still be played with these small exceptions:
The yellow-blue card does not activate in Abyss and does not summon Shub-Niggurath: instead it encounters Hastur if you are in Lost Carcosa, or Tsathoggua when you are in Yuggoth (both are yellow-blue). It is possible in this variation that the AO you draw will have zero doom tokens. In that case you still have to perform Start of Battle conditions, but afterward battle is immediately won and the gate is sealed (if you actually entered the outer world through one, you poor soul).
Otherwise, battle with AOs is still one-on-one and requires one success to score each point. Defeating the AO still seals the gate through which you entered, but the AO simply reverts back to slumber, going back to the state he was in when he was encountered. If the AO you're supposed to encounter is incapacitated or has already been defeated outside of this event card, then he is not encountered; refer to the "Other" encounter on the card: "A monster appears!"
I think these are all of the rules, in as extreme precision as I could conjure them. Give me some comments/suggestions, call me names, whatever. I'm tired of typing.
I wrote the first-ever Lovecraft game.
You are plainly barking mad. How did it go?
Surprisingly well. We got trashed.
We later decided to remove Tsathoggua from the lineup because he makes things a bit too tough.