Finn (Pizza), Wilson (Wings), Bob (Shiny), and Roland (Me) vs Ghatanothoa. Kingsport with Dark Pharaoh and Lurker. Hypnos.
Zebra is still wandering the Dreamlands, hopped up on goofballs, musing about the taste of indigo with the Cats of Ulthar, but Shiny returned for her second four-player game. This was one of the longest games we’ve ever played: we actually depleted the Hypnos deck, but being a Kingsport game, there were no Miskatonic cards added to the deck of Hypnos. Still…29 turns!
Shiny has taken after Wings—combat-ready, Spells and Tomes suck—so from her Investigator pulls, I suggested Bob: great Will, and with all the Common Item draws, most likely to end up with a weapon to make up for any lowered Fight when using that Will. Bob pulled both Molotovs and a Press Pass, but Ghatanothoa’s evil roulette spin when getting more than one Clue at the same time made the Press Pass less attractive than usual. (Hey, I tried to reinforce that the odds were always in our favor, but devouring is not treated like strategy in our house.) Bob still pulled a Yithian Rifle…Shiny would even acquire the other Yithian Rifle in this game—that’s THREE Yithian Rifles in TWO games…and shopped for the Tommy Gun on Turn 1.
Wings didn’t like any of her pulls (although it is highly suspect that the only pull she would immediately like is Mandy), so I tossed her Wilson this time. She was skeptical—they decided Wilson looks more like a pale Danny Trejo than Tom Selleck, but how anyone shrugs off a free Shotgun is flabbergasting—but she played him rather well, so at the very least, I think Wilson liked Wings!
The Feds sent Erich Weiss in a Sedanette to back up Roland, so I played Roland rather defensively most of the time, using his high Focus to play with his Speed/Sneak more often than anything else. All of my useful weapons came from trades with Shiny, but it was usually a better guarantee to slip away. I also pulled the Flute of the Outer Gods, which would have been useful a couple of times if all us 4 Sanity-ers could keep our brains topped off for any length of time.
Finn started Whiskey and an Axe…wait, what? Where’s everything else? Somehow Pizza, Handler of the Investigator Decks, had forgotten to pull his own stuff! And his incredulousness kept increasing with his inventory: Criminal (a more accurate Skill pull I never did see), which gave Pizza access to the Sheldon Gang for the second time in as many games; Psychology (excellent for Finn’s low combat rating); Crystal of the Elder Things (good for when he acquired the Call Friend Spell); the King in Yellow (Ghata drooled); and a Ley Line map. I had mentioned that Finn is Zebra’s favorite Investigator, and before all that was over, Pizza declared that it was no wonder that mega-shopper Zebra loved Finn, and he should never be allowed to play him again!
I wanted my story over as quickly as possible, so I risked a Ghata Visage Flip at the Unvisited Isle before finishing it at the Unnamable. Our Cult still appreciates the Dimensional Fractures House Rule (No Gates until Turn 4), but that didn’t stop me from dumping the damn Servitor on my own head at the Isle. This was when I learned early on that I was going to be playing from Urchin Wendy’s playbook: The Art of Not Being Seen. Having Houdi…er, Erich on my side was magic during these evasions.
Wings got into one semi-lousy Encounter on Turn 1, and then realized how utilitarian Wilson’s Odd Jobs ability was. Until she had her $15 for her Story, every Encounter she had was replaced with a $1 gain: nailing up shoring at the Black Cave, repairing some barb wire barriers in the Woods, sweeping up body parts at the Lodge. She and Pizza were Friendly Rivals, and since Finn needed Monster Trophies, Wings usually ended up with a +1 to her Combat Checks. After finishing her story, she farmed the Science Building for four Clues, one at a time to avoid Ghata, acquiring Sir William Brinton. This kept Wings largely out of trouble for a long time. But an even better reason for this was both the Servitor AND the Flying Polyp perched in the Sky, making all of us afraid of the Streets (as our Monster Limit peaked).
Pizza tried for some street larceny and got arrested, but was pleasantly surprised when Finn lost nothing. He was equally surprised when he was allowed to ignore his Bank Loan default, and never have to roll for it again. Later in the game, after he had finally killed a Cultist to pass his story, and the Hunting Horror kept chasing him, he finally understood the niftiness of Finn’s Slipperiness, as the Horror would land on his boardspace just as Finn had started to fade away (when they move, Circles and Diamonds always move together in the same Mythos Phase).
I pulled the “Unusual Phenomenon Sighted in Arkham!” Mythos and was forced to open our first Rift (the middle one, since we were having a large amount of Circle movements in our Mythos). Since Roland was still weaponless, and becoming increasingly useless against the growing monster hoard, feeling responsible for even more monsters made me want to head to Kingsport to redeem myself. I was also making HORRIBLE Monster Cup draws, so Wings took the Cup away from me. Even goading Shiny into taking 3 Clues at once to finish Bob’s Story because a 1-in-7 Ghata Risk was worth it (she passed) wasn’t improving my status. I had to stop in the Train Station to avoid the Streets (Death from the Sky!), broke into a crate for a Unique Item...no, wait…used all my damn Clues to get CAUGHT breaking into a crate, and hauled off to jail by Deputy Dingby. (I hate that guy!) Late in the game, when our (too?) cautious gaining of Clues caught up with us, this was the incident that Pizza remembered when it was time to blame for frivolous Clue spending.
It was decided that Kingsport couldn’t wait for my defective butt, so Bob popped into the Police Station for a Clue (and to eventually pass me a Molotov and $5 of his gold fortune to pass to Wilson to end his story) just as I was being released. Then some whack job killed himself to frame Bob for murder! Bob and Roland shared the “Take Me Instead” Relationship, so instead of Bob losing $11, I told the cops it was me, and lost a $1 to go right back into the clink.
Bob bounced around Kingsport for a while, closing our first Rift (a second one opened while Bob was handling the first), while Finn dropped an Arkham Encounter Gate on himself at Independence Square. While in Another Dimension, Pizza only used one Clue to try to avoid being Cursed, but failed. (SPECIAL NOTE: PIZZA DID NOT FRIVOLOUSLY SPEND CLUES TO AVOID BEING CURSED!) Luckily, he had managed to have an Exhibit Encounter (before the Streets got ugly) to “Quid Pro Quo” his Whiskey and his King in Yellow…he wanted to ditch his Ley Line Map (!!!) but against my better judgment, I waved Ghata in his face to make those 4 Clues in that script look unappetizing…for a First Elder Sign Parchment. So Finn came home Cursed, but still Sealed the Square. (Seal 1) Goodbye Servitor!
About the same time, I had finally gotten free of Dingby, and snuck past an Unvisited Isle Chthonian to get out to the City of the Great Race—I love it when monsters enter Arkham through properly matching Gates—and eventually Seal the Isle. (Seal 2) Shiny was getting bored with sleepy Kingsport, and wanted to go discharge ammunition at something, so Pizza took Finn up there to close the second Rift while Roland traded $5 with Wilson at the General Store to finish his story.
“No One Can Help You Now.”
One of the worst Environments in the game: progress just STOPS. We tried to look busy, waiting for it to go away: this was when Wilson hung out at the Science Building slowly earning Clues, and Brinton, and a Blessing (which she kept to the end of the game), and removing all monsters from the Sky and Outskirts. The Streets were finally safe, but now the game was ready for DIVERSITY. Gates were all over the place: Woods, Witch House, Graveyard, Historical Society, Silver Twilight Lodge. Every turn was another Surge. The Outskirts was constantly overfilling like an abandoned warehouse rave. (The Dhole hit the Outskirts THREE TIMES before it finally emerged in the Rivertown Streets. After that long a trip from Out There, it probably said something like, “Arkham?! I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque!”) Roland ran up to Kingsport—finally enacting my long-ago plan—to get Finn to return to Arkham to track down a Cultist and end his Story before Wilson’s Passed Story was no longer able to keep the Terror Track at bay anymore, and Finn would Fail at Terror Track 3. To stop “Too Many Gates”, the girls ran off to close the Graveyard and the Witch House. Finn passed his Story and started ducking the Hunting Horror all over town.
Flashback of sorts: I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime before this, Bob had an Ancient Whispers Encounter that got him a Chime of Ra and the Local Guide card. Unfortunately, this was after he had spent most of his gold coins already, and the rest of us were scattered and broke. She had acquired the second Yithian Rifle, and without Focus, had no way of reloading either. Except…when she was offworld! Shiny was very excited to discover this. (Of course, this also made her VERY possessive of those rifles.)
The girls came home, but Wings had had to lose Mr. Brinton as a trip to the Dreamlands had been exceptionally strenuous (1 Stamina). Both closed their locations, although the Witch House almost immediately reopened. Kingsport just stopped being a priority, and Roland returned to Evade a Crawling One in the Northside Streets, so that when Bob encountered it, Roland was there to take the first hit (X=5) for him. Bob still had to take his own hit (X=6, “Crap! I just made it MADDER!”) before putting it down (X=2). Bob also had to use the Chime of Ra to keep from going insane from a failed Horror Check; Shiny was aching to get him into the Asylum if not for the blockade…we’ll get to that.
Roland’s luck continued to swing wildly. Just after spending all his money to get back his brains, he risked a pile of four Clues at Hibbs Roadhouse (Ghata Flip 1-in-5, and a reset!), and a stranger bought him a Whiskey. But then a bad encounter at the Library resulted in losing 2 Sanity and 2 Stamina. (If a book radiates evil, PICK UP A DIFFERENT BOOK!!!) Had to spend all his money AGAIN to recover from almost shattered (1 Stamina). “What the hell is Agent Roland billing on his Expense Account?!” “He said, ‘Because, SHUT UP!’”
The Environment finally changed, allowing us to get back to work, but now there was a blockade of the Dhole at Rivertown and the Hunting Horror at the Merchant District, all the Hypnos Clues were on the north side of town, and the only Gates open on the south side led to R’lyeh: the Lodge, the Historical Society, and the Woods (the R’lyss Gate). Roland and Bob left for that accursed place through the empty Society, while the growing Doom Track (10) set off Pizza’s survival instincts and dumped five single-blood-drop’d monsters to get Blessed. Fortunately, he actually lost his Curse by roll a couple turns before, and his Blessing would become critical. (Both girls had been Blessed by Mythos Luck Rolls some time before that.) Then, since Pizza still had a Gate Trophy, he Blessed offworld Roland before he had to try to close a -3 R’lyeh Gate with only 4 Stats. (Note: without help or Clues, NO ONE could close the R’lyss Gate.) I still failed the first time to close, but eventually Sealed the Lodge (Seal 3); Shiny follows right after to Seal the Society. (Seal 4)
The Southern Strangler had apparently gone the way of most Maniacs during High Doom, and started removing our Allies. For about a half-second, we considered saving them, but then decided that none of them were worth the five Clues we didn’t have anyways. Everyone’s gotta die some time, right? (Eh, Duke had already left town; strangle away, crazy person!)
Seeing no standing Clues lying around, we suggested the Science Building for Clues, although she would have to play the Visage is Right with Ghata (1-in-6). Wings still beats us all with her ability to fail to acknowledge danger. She now had enough to Seal, but even Unknown Kadath (Witch House) is better than R’lyss. The problem was a Leng Spider from the Lodge and a Cultist from the Witch House were patrolling the French Hill Streets, and considering our incredibly lousy timing with Monster Movement, it was entirely possible that both the Dhole and the Hunting Horror would break their embargo to surround her in the Streets while she was cleaning up spider parts. Waiting in the Science Building for some way to achieve a better position, she got hit in the gut by Brinton AGAIN! It was a big surprise for Wings, as she thought when he was discarded for her max Stamina, he had already gone to the box! I think a lot of players have made this mistake (early on) since that’s usually how most Allies leave play, and it feels a bit more final to give up a PERSON than a gun or a lantern. But not even the Strangler had gotten a hold of Brinton!
After Sealing, Roland entered the French Hill Streets to knock out the Cultist (with no weapons), and then toss a Molotov into a Leng Spider’s maw. This cleared a straight shot for a Hospitalized Wilson—“Stop HITTING me, you peon!!”—straight to the Witch House. Mission accomplished.
…and then Shiny converged a Surged Rat Thing (from the Witch House! Brown Jenkin!!), the Dhole, and the Hunting Horror right on top of Roland’s unsuspecting back. I was told to make a special note that she was abnormally gleeful during this maneuver. (Almost maniacal giggling. ) Well, two can play at that game! Roland and Erich hopped into their Sedanette, shouted, “SEE YA!”, and tore out of there. (All yours, Wings!)
Now that the blockade had been breached, Bob planned to get some quick therapy at the Asylum and then play some Zamfir for that crowd Roland had left behind. Alas, it was not to be, as a Mythos with two Doom Tokens ended our…frivolity.
We actually had a decent stack of Ghata-canceling gats to spread around: Bob’s two Yithian Rifles and Tommy Gun, and Wilson’s Shotgun. Even if we pooled our money, we didn’t have enough to lose those tourists from Bob’s Local Guide stint. (Not sure if we could have done that anyway.) Since Bob was now Focus-less, but Ghata was not Resistant to anything, it made sense to trade those Rifles to Finn and Roland, and stick to the uncomplicated Tommy Gun. Everyone maxed their Fight and Speed, respectively...except for poor Finn, who had to rely on a .38-Axe combo while raising his Speed before he could reload his Rifle.
Rolls were up and down the whole Battle: Finn and Wilson remained Blessed, and with Wilson’s motorcycle, they would both last two rounds longer than Bob and Roland. Plus, Finn was sitting on a +1 Combat Check from Friendly Rivals (he had no monster trophies), a +1 Fight Skill learned from the Cabala of Saboth, and the Skullcrackers Relationship between him and Roland. (Finn was Blessed: by Arkham Horror Statute 47-3, “Blessed players get die priority.”) Ghata negated a bunch of single success rolls, but when it came down to the beginning of Round 5 (Roland and Bob’s last), when Finn got to reload that Rifle, and roll six dice, Ghatanothoa finally went down.
Final Score: 23. Boosted by Ghata’s 13 Doom, and a healthy stash of unspent trophies. I was told to mention (and this is for you, Zebra) that it would have been 24, but Finn lost his Bank Loan, the skinflint. Still, anything above 20 is a pretty solid victory.
I got a “serviceable” out of Wings for Wilson, but maybe she just wanted me to go home after 29 turns. (Ah well, there’s still Hank, Pete, Mark, William, and Zoey.) And Shiny brought her own dice this time: Frosted Smoke. (Go Chessex!) Hurry up and pay $2 for your Stamina, Zebra! Time for some five player mayhem!
I didn't expect another Session Report so soon! You and your group really are back in the swing of things! So what did they think of Ghatanothoa?
For the most part, the general fear of being devoured made everyone grab Clues one at a time, so no one liked that. I myself wasn't AS afraid (just from experience), but since Roland is a Clue-generator, I left the large caches of Clues for everyone else to pick at their leisure. Hypnos helped by dropping single Clues in stable locations.
But Ghata doesn't really change the Monster Cup--only one Mi-Go was ever fought, by Shiny and Bob's arsenal--and the Final Battle is almost as simple a slugfest as Ithaqua. So I think Ghata fits in between the lighter AOs (Nyarl, Ith, Yig) and the truly nasty ones (Glaaki, Yibb, Atlach): they won't like Ghata, but they'll know how to deal with him.
Plus, Pizza really likes Ghata's face.
Are you sure you weren't playing some sort of Dhalgren board game by mistake?