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Arkham Horror: The Card Game» Forums » General

Subject: You'll need to Reach after these Elusive bits of Knowledge rss

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Peter Hardy
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What is Arkham Horror LCG trying to do?
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[I have purposefully written about this BEFORE playing the game, I'm writing this as a what is expected/hoped for type post.]

I'm interested/excited about the release of this game, and want to talk about what Fantasy Flight seem to be saying it aims to do, on it's website, in its previews, etc. Take this example of what a preview wrote on this card-come-RPG game:

"Each game, each scenario, allows you to adventure into mystery and the occult. But your investigations in the Arkham LCG® don't necessarily end at the completion of your adventure. As likely as not, they'll reveal new layers of a larger mystery that slip and slide away from you as you attempt to grasp them. You won't be done yet. You'll need to reach after these elusive bits of knowledge, setting out upon new adventures… While you can enjoy Arkham LCG as a series of isolated adventures, the core (and recommended) experience of this game is campaign play." ('Uncovering the Truth - Campaigns and Your Adventures in Arkham Horror: The Card Game' (07/09/16) https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2016/9/7/uncoveri...)

Now as with many of FFG preview statements, you need to expect hyperbole advertising, or to put it kinder, thematic, if dramatic, overstatement. So when I read, "so we warn you to be careful what powers you might summon out of your Arkham adventures… for you should beware that which you call up, lest you might not be able to put it down." ('Mystery, Murder, and Madness How the Forces of Evil Advance Their Sinister Agendas in the Arkham LCG®', 30/08/16, https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2016/8/30/mystery...) Well I think it comes with the territory. I'm not complaining, actually I end up wanting more, more, more! If only more board and card game companies/publishers were as inventive, creative, and hey I'll say it: generous! Because isn't it great to read the supernatural kind of thematic statement that proclaims: "After all, the truth can be terrifying—profoundly terrifying. You may find the ground figuratively opening beneath your feet, as the reality you thought you understood is shown to be but a small part of the universe, and you may even find yourself dragged deeper into this frightful abyss…" ('Uncovering the Truth' URL above.)

Enough to even make True Detective's Rusty Cole proud! (Well almost.)

Okay to get to the point of what I'm talking about. It's about the campaign side of the game. I'll let FFG explain again, from the 'Uncovering the Truth' preview:

"Each game, each scenario, allows you to adventure into mystery and the occult. But your investigations in the Arkham LCG® don't necessarily end at the completion of your adventure. As likely as not, they'll reveal new layers of a larger mystery that slip and slide away from you as you attempt to grasp them. You won't be done yet. You'll need to reach after these elusive bits of knowledge, setting out upon new adventures… While you can enjoy Arkham LCG as a series of isolated adventures, the core (and recommended) experience of this game is campaign play."

Isn't that fantastic? At least as a game intention? [FFG seem to be shortening the game name to: Arkham LCG.] So before playing Arkham LCG I want to focus on this, play the game, watch it unfold, see the mechanics at work --- AND look out for any sense of MYSTERY that is evoked by the game. So I'll take my dictionary meaning here, "Something that is difficult to understand or explain". Now by that I hope it doesn't mean I'll be questioning WTF was the point of that card, or why did the adventure make that turn in the story, etc. What I'll look for is: whether the game possesses a mystery and compels me to explore it. To be honest BECAUSE this is a Lovecraft game, I really don't mind if I "solve" the mystery or not. It's that sense of mystery, that experience of it, that is compelling. By which I'd also like to add, mystery isn't just: What's going on? Action - Action - Action - oh it's because of a Great Old One - Action - Kill it - The End (Or more likely get Devoured - The End!)

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Now I'm not doing the No Man Sky hype thing here, putting all hopes and dreams into a game, that's a route that can only disappoint (by which I mean the PC/ps4 video game). I don't think creating a sense of mystery is entirely difficult, though I stress I mean this, contextually, within the bounds of a card game. I don't think it's impossible. Particularly since I already know what great work FFG have put into the delivery of therein other games. Whether that's The Lord of the Rings LCG, or Eldritch Horror, or Netrunner and so many more. I really enjoy the hints within the snippets of card text, the continuation <---> connection in the card art, often so well done by FFG.

But hey, when it comes to revealing layers of a larger mystery, I'm sure there will be enough ambiguity for the imagination to go wild. Make up stuff, fill in the gaps. That's fine too. But to go back to the FFG quote above (and where I got the title of this post from) when it comes to the statement about needing to reach after elusive bits of knowledge, I almost think that they've scandalously taken hyperbole too far. That they are making the campaign process WAY more tantalising then it could ever be! Knowledge? Knowledge. Knowledge!

No, no, surely not. FFG couldn't really be actually telling us something, something actually occult about the Cthulhu Mythos, Yog-Sothothery, and so on. Could it…?

No. "Of course not," after all the FFG previews give mostly mechanical and card based examples in the previews. For example they talk about how in a scenario you might decide to burn your house down, 'cos of that damned crazy (now infamous) 'Study' (hang on, what card was it? Oh yes Core Set, 111). Then in the next scenario, that location, that card I suppose, won't be in your game. That's what FFG mean by campaign progression don't they? They give card based examples, and yes you'll say obviously, of how the game works. This is hardly telling me something about the occult, now really, come on, let's get real here.

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Though…

The 'Uncovering the Truth' preview does say: "Your investigations don't just change Arkham; they also change you. You might gain greater insight into the nature of the mythos." Now you're talkin'! Hm, but it does continue to say, "You may develop phobias. You may be crippled. You may be devoured." Okay standard fare, (and obviously within the horror theme, which is cool) though it makes me question the previous thing about insight into the mythos, does that just mean learning a spell? (i.e. gaining that card.) Or gaining a card thematically connected to the mythos?

Hm, so hang on, so what types of elusive bits of knowledge were being referred to in the quote above? What are we talking about here? What kind of knowledge can be passed on through the games card mechanics? Does the knowledge = a card? Or any number of cards, that you can put in your deck, between each scenario? Hm… So the knowledge in game terms is deck expansion, or character progression in that RPG sense. Possibly.

Probably.

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Now, what I do kinda mull over is whether the phobia, the crippling, the hospital debts, your characters compulsion to read the Necronomicon -- all these things! -- in themselves are hints at meanings of the mythos we (may) often ignore. I suppose a kind of "the gore is the essence of the nature of horror," kind of philosophy. This is the kind of philosophy that says: you need to get out from under the bed sheets and look at the horror! Or you'll miss what's hidden behind the mystery and gore. But that seems entirely irrational and couldn't have anything to do with anything Lovecraft related… could it? ;-) Or perhaps that isn't so irrational after all…?

Also, as the preview for Dunwich Legacy says: "What secrets lie behind the sealed doors of Miskatonic University? Just how sinister are the gangsters that run Arkham's Clover Club? What do the disappearances of Professors Rice and Morgan have to do with the events of Dunwich, several months back?" (https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2016/9/9/the-dunw...) Which says to me that the campaign elements of the game, lie in discovering unknown (cards) that your character comes across in the story/game, like in RPG development, and that as you play games over many adventures, through the campaign the game let's you experience mystery through learning about how a card works in your deck. How a card applies in an entirely new senario, and so on.

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Okay, so what do you think? Perhaps I'm not saying much here at all. It's a game, that's all in the cards after all. Am I thinking what you're thinking? Probably not. What do you think Arkham LCG is trying to do?

[Plus, this is a trivia type question: is at a new thing since Eldritch Horror, but is it a new creation of FFG to reference a Dr John Dee translation of the Necronomicon? I haven't come across that in the mythos literature before.]

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Carthoris Pyramidos
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John Dee's translation of the Necronomicon was invented by HPL and mentioned in his "History of the Necronomicon" and elsewhere. In gaming it has previously featured as a card in Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game (Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game – The Unspeakable Pages card #95).

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Charles Perryman
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The John Dee Translation is also in "The Dunwich Horror"
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Peter Hardy
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Oh shit yeah, read it now: "An English translation made by Dr Dee was never printed, and exists only in fragments recovered from the original manuscript." Thanks Cathoris.
 
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Peter Hardy
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I am embarrassed to say I have read so many HPL tales yet never read "The Dunwich Horror". blush Please don't tell anyone.
I've listened to an audio dramatisation, watched the not so great films, leading me to skip reading the story. This shall be remedied.
 
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Carthoris Pyramidos
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"The Dunwich Horror" is really not one of HPL's best, but it's notable for a few reasons:

1 It is an homage to and riff on the seminal Yellow 'Nineties fright "The Great God Pan" by Arthur Machen.

2 Its heroic academics facing down an avatar of an Ancient One establish the Lovecraftian basis for the "Derleth Mythos" that reorients yog-sothothery into a good versus evil scenario (thus opening the premise of most game adaptations of the milieu).

3 It's a delicious piece of blasphemy from atheist "Grandpa" Lovecraft: Wilbur's brother is a black-magick messiah, complete with Golgotha.

4 The 1970 film adaptation starring Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee is a camp delight.

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Charles Perryman
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Ah, the films. I must admit that I find the 1970 version greatly amusing. Wilbur's hypnotism pose, the Old Ones being a bunch of mostly naked people in body paint, and Sam Jaffe's whole performance as Wizard Whateley. It's such an absurd film. At times, though, it feels like there could have been a decent movie in there somewhere had they not been so focused on just making an exploitation film.
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Peter Hardy
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Carthoris wrote:
"The Dunwich Horror" is really not one of HPL's best, but it's notable for a few reasons:

1 It is an homage to and riff on the seminal Yellow 'Nineties fright "The Great God Pan" by Arthur Machen.



Really? I don't immediately see that. I'll take a note to think about that when reading it. I hesitate to ask, but go ahead anyway, Carthoris, please do say which do you consider to be HPL's best? I eagerly watch with anticipation. goo
 
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Peter Hardy
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But yes as for 1970's Dean Stockwell camp delight, I borrowed it for a little video project I started not so greatly long ago, but alas as of yet have not continued it to completion. But if you would like to take a look at the first part, Cthuloon, Carthoris, anyone else, be my guest...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZT81kDSK4c
 
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Carthoris Pyramidos
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PeterHardy33 wrote:
I hesitate to ask, but go ahead anyway, Carthoris, please do say which do you consider to be HPL's best? I eagerly watch with anticipation. goo

I do like "The Dunwich Horror" rather a lot, but I'd rate above it "The Whisperer in Darkness," "Dreams in the Witch-House," and "The Colour Out of Space," at least. This last was not a favorite of mine when I first read it, but it gained on a repeat visit, and was evidently one with which HPL himself was most satisfied.

Edited to add: "The Shadow over Innsmouth" is a venture into action thrills superior to "The Dunwich Horror."
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