Game: Arkham Horror with Dunwich Horror (variant: no Dunwich locations used).
Contest: Mandy Thompson v Cthulhu!
A Strange Plague!
The red moon proved it. A sense of dread had been building inside of me, despite the reassurances of my supervisor, Professor Armitage. The papers and old journals I'd been reading were disturbing, terrible - but what if they were true? "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" - so read the inscription on that strange scroll, tucked inside the cover of an old book. I could not translate it, but the terror it engendered? That was real.
I was not a "silly girl", no matter what the Professor said! I would not be talked down to in such a manner!
I made my way to the Unnamable - one of those places I'd been warned away from - and there, in the dusty attic, found a strange manuscript that described the ritual needed to Find the Gate. If what I had read was true, this was a find of utmost value - I knew not what strange worlds I'd encounter, but it wasn't going to be as mundane as what the Professor insisted!
Merchants March on Crime!
While I still had a spare moment, I settled down in the attic to read that book - the Cabala of Saboth - that I'd borrowed from the library. What it described was terrifying if it weren't fiction, but I knew, I knew, that what it described was horrid fact. The creatures and... entities... that existed...
Unsettled by the experience, I made my way to the Unvisited Isle. There, I found some strange statuettes of tentacled beings, placed in the forks of trees. As I reached to take one, a man's voice said, "I wouldn't do that, miss!"
I whirled around. "Who are you? How dare you spy on me!"
My heart thumped painfully in my chest as a man in a dark green sweater and brown pants came around a tree. "I'm sorry, miss. My name's Legrasse, John Legrasse, and you really didn't want to touch that." He had a pleasant voice, I noticed. My heart seemed to be calming down a touch.
"I'd rather not go into that," he replied, smiling slightly, although I thought I could see a hint of pain in his eyes.
"Look, I'm a fully qualified researcher," I began, only to have him cut me off.
"And you know damned little about fieldwork, I'd say. Look, miss, I used to be a cop before I tangled with... that... and one thing they taught us was never to interfere with the evidence. And that, my dear, is evidence."
"I am not anyone's dear," I retorted, "and I know what I'm doing!"
"No, you don't. Look, miss, you'd do far better to stay at home where it's safe."
"As if anywhere is going to be safe," I muttered, under my breath.
I wasn't going to let this... man... interfere with my research. I turned and reached for the statuette. Legrasse gave a yelp and jumped for me, and the next thing I knew were were both falling through a yellow mist that smelt slightly of violets. This was very strange.
"I told you not to touch it," said Legrasse in my ear.
I tried to ignore how good he felt on top of me, and shoved. "Get off!" He did so, apologizing.
I looked around. We weren't on the Isle any more, that was for certain. Things were beginning to make sense, however. "Hold that!" I ordered Legrasse, as I produced a black candle from my purse, and dove in again, looking for the matches.
Darke's Carnival Arrives!
"You're a girl of surprising resources," Legrasse said.
"I'm not a girl," I said, angrily, as I found the matches and lit the candle. "I'm a woman, and my name is Miss Thompson."
He smiled. "Whatever you say, Miss Thompson."
"Now, if you stand still a moment..." I retrieved the parchment with the Find the Gate ritual on it, and intoned the words. The yellow mist rose about us again, and I could see trees through it. "There!" I pointed. "Run!"
We emerged near the statuettes, panting.
"Now, if I'm right," I mused, retrieving the candle and dribbling some wax over the statuette, "this means..."
There was a small crack! and the statuette split down the middle. "Aha! No more gate - and let's see them try to open another one here."
Legrasse looked at me with some sort of awe. "I apologise, Miss Thompson. You seem to have a better idea of what's happening than I supposed."
I flashed him a sunny smile. "Of course, Mr Legrasse."
Ill Wind Grips Arkham!
Legrasse accompanied me back to town, where we saw a terrible sight: a monster drinking the blood of a poor woman. "We can do nothing for her," Legrasse said, and we slipped past. Oh, if only I were stronger!
My friends in the Science Building were very helpful as I handed them the broken pieces of the statuette; explanations were beginning to be found. I saw James talking seriously to Legrasse, with both occasionally looking in my direction, but I couldn't get a word of sense from either when I asked what they were talking about. Men!
Sunny and Clear
"I know a place," said Legrasse, and he led me to the strangest shop, full of incredible curiosities. After a discussion with the owner, Legrasse handed me a short sword made of silver, with old viking runes written on the blade. "You never know when such might be handy," he explained. I looked at him, silently, and nodded. Legrasse seemed to actually know what he was doing.
City Gripped by Blackouts!
As we entered the street, a strange thing, red and dripping, with many a mouth and tentacle flew down towards us. Legrasse pushed me aside, and jumped in front of it, luring it away from me. "The sword! The sword!" he shouted.
I stumbled, but managed to unsheathe the blade. The runes glowed, eldritchly. With a wordless shout, I plunged it to the hilt into the monster - the monster twitched in a sudden flurry of movement, and then was still. Pulling its bulk off Legrasse, I fell into his arms, sobbing.
"It's all right, Miss Thompson. It's all right," he comforted me.
"Mandy," I sobbed.
"It's all right, Mandy," he said, and his arms tightened around me.
Whippoorwills of Dunwich
The calls of birds roused us, and we crept along the streets. A flicker of light in Independence Square caught our attention, and we realised that another gate had opened there. "Are you ready, John?" I asked.
"I should be asking that of you, Mandy," and I saw resignation in his calm eyes. "We don't really have a choice. I'll be right with you."
Through the gate, all was blackness, and still.
I wasted a valuable match looking for the candle, but the ritual worked again! We found ourselves back in Arkham, where I wasted no time in finding the summoning object and destroying it. Two gates sealed - perhaps we would be successful. I noticed John looking at me, rapaciously.
"What are you looking at me like that for?" I said, accusingly.
"Mandy - you look tired," he replied, sarcastically.
"Of course I look tired. I've just been to another world. How do you expect me to look?"
"I... never mind," Legrasse said, deciding this was not a conversation he could win. Good.
We made our way to Hibb's Roadhouse, where John treated me to a cup of calming coffee. I really needed it; too many shocks for one day. Joey "the Rat" also turned up, trying to hustle some items he'd "found". I had no time for him - besides, I was broke!
Sheldon Gang Turns to Police for Aid!
I could hear a humming in my mind. Everything began to spin around me, my cup fell from my hand and shattered in the shape of a pentagram! The last thing I remember was John looking at me concernedly.
When I woke up, I was in the Asylum. Legrasse and a doctor were there, and I suddenly knew what a fool I'd been. It was Legrasse - he was behind it all.
"You filth!" I screamed. "It was you - you set me up!"
"Mandy," he implored, his voice filled with false sympathy, "You're not well! Let the doctor help you!"
"NO!" I cried, and ran for the door, evading the nurses as I did. In the street, a man with a crazed expression ran at me, but I just lifted my arm and shot him. He fell. A screaming behind me made me turn... and everything went black.
Strange Waves Subside
I was in a hospital. I could hear the doctors talking about me. "She's suffered a massive bump to her head. We're not sure what the damage is." "Will she be all right?" "I really can't tell, Mr Legrasse". Legrasse, huh. Strange name. It meant nothing to me. I dozed off.
Strange Power Flux Plagues City
I awoke much later, feeling much better, and stared in puzzlement at the flickering lights. There was something wrong, but I wasn't quite sure what it was. I found my clothes next to my bed, and donned them quickly.
As I wandered through St Mary's halls, wondering where all the staff had gone, I found an abandoned medical folder. I casually flipped it open, and saw something that stunned me: surely, these figures couldn't be right?
I hurried off to the Historical Society to check the records there. Indeed, there was no mistake in the medical record I'd found; my suspicious about the Jones family were confirmed. For some reason, I found it strangely comforting: when the worst is true, it can't get any worse!
I made my way back to the Science Building with a nagging sensation that I was forgetting something. I shrugged. It couldn't be that important. James was delighted to see me, and had more news for me, but I couldn't get past the sensation that he was hiding something from me.
(Disturbing the Dead)
Following the lead that James had told me about, I made my way to the Woods: indeed, another gate had opened there. Steeling myself, I dived through, only to find myself on the edge of a bottomless drop! I stopped myself falling just in time.
I looked in my bag. Where was the other candle? I must have dropped it somewhere. I lit the other, and incanted the ritual. Soon enough, I found myself back in the Woods, but I couldn't quite work out how to seal the gate.
Ah, there it was! I found the strange statuette, and again closed and sealed the gate.
As I walked back into Arkham, I found the streets full of people, running and shouting. Some of the buildings were on fire as well! Something was badly wrong here
Stalker in the Night
I reached the Miskatonic University streets, slowed greatly by the crowds. Everyone had gone crazy!
I discovered what some of the crowds had been running from - a strange monster that my notes called an "Elder Thing." My gun and blade were too much for it, though. Didn't they know to fear me by now? I am Mandy Thompson, and I am Arkham's Defender!
Contagion Kills Life on Blasted Heath!
I finally reached the Newspaper building - there, the editor wanted to hire me to cover the current unrest on Arkham. I could do that; after all, I could give him the inside story! I just wanted to send my reports in by mail - he agreed, he could do that. I didn't trust him, but I didn't trust anyone, anymore. Not since... that man... had betrayed me.
Indeed, I saw a few pages from the next edition where the obviousness of the cultists messages to each other just leapt out at me. Didn't they realise how obvious they were? Apparently not - but fortified by knowledge of their plans, I moved on.
I made my way into the Merchant District Streets; the crowds had somewhat thinned out, but the smoke and the rubble and the burning slowed me down.
Along came Jones
Mr Jones approached me in his butcher van and offered me a lift and a helping hand. I refused, of course. How could I not? Not when I knew what lurked in his ancestry. I was right! Even as he drove off, a... rat creature... jumped from the back of my van and attacked. It grabbed my shotgun, crushing it into uselessness, but died as my blade and automatic destroyed its black heart!
Following the clues I'd found in the newspaper, I made my way to the Graveyard. Yes, indeed - there was another gate. I made my way into it, only to be confronted by a rope. Well, there was only one thing to do with a rope: to climb it. It was a long arduous climb, but when I finished, I was back in the Graveyard. This made no sense at all!
Good Travelling Conditions
I was getting good at this! The gate closed and sealed properly; the cultists obviously had no idea of how to hide things!
Whately Family Feud Escalates
I felt a twinge inside me as something I'd done was unravelled... the gate! The gate in Independence Square! The cultists had broken through again! I wept in frustration.
When I dried my tears, I made my way to Unvisited Isle. I hadn't been there before, and there was something that intrigued me. Indeed, when I got there I found the remains of some unusual statuettes, dribbled with black candlewax. Someone was trying to help me! Perhaps the situation wasn't as hopeless as I thought.
A man dressed in a dark green sweater and brown pants then addressed me by name... I was terrified, and ran from him. He must have been one of the cultists that was trying to summon the bad thing.
Back in the science building, the young researchers were all very glad to see me, although I don't know why. One of them, someone calling himself James, gave me a new sheaf of notes, "based on my researches" he said. I didn't know what he was talking about, but the notes will be very handy, even if "James" had an unwholesome look about him.
I ran into the library to escape the heat. One of the janitors there beckoned me. "Miss Thompson," he said... how did he know my name?. "I thought this might interest you," he continued, holding out a sheaf of papers. "Could you spare a bob or two for old Rick?" I gave him his money, and took the papers. They described a ritual known as Walking the Ley-Lines. Could this be the solution to my problems?
I made my way to the Uptown streets. Arkham had certainly gone to hell since yesterday - just look at the litter everywhere!
City Gripped by Blackouts!
I reached the wood, evading this strange burning figure, but in doing so I got completely lost. None of the paths went where I thought they should go!
I reached the place on my map, and said the words. There was a sparkling which soon vanished. If I was right, I was a quarter of the way through Walking the Ley-Lines. Could my strength hold out?
I made my way to the Merchant Districts; that strange creature of fire was waiting for me, but I shot it before it could come any closer.
Family Found Butchered!
The rubble was really hurting my feet, and I developed a limp.
Strange Tremors Cease
Around me, I could see families beginning to leave Arkham. Good, I thought, it's the best place for you to go - you'll be out of the line of fire. Independence Square was in front of me, and I could see the Cultist who had broken my work. I showed him now mercy, shooting him in the head.
The gate led to a vast library - I could feel right at home here - and the books I looked at proved very interesting indeed.
Manhunt in Arkham
The black candle and matches lit the way, and I returned to Independence Square, where I sealed the gate. I had a strange sense of deja-vu, but surely I couldn't have done this before? I became aware that I was forgetting things, but it wasn't to be helped. As long as I remembered my mission, all would be good.
Vigilantes Guard the Night
I could sort of remember a man looking at me with eyes full of concern, dressed in a dark green jumper, but it wasn't of import. I continued on my quest - I'd half finished the ritual!
Bizarre Dreams Plague Citizens
They call it the Witch House, but it was a place of deepest sin, that I knew. Of course there was a gate there... I jumped through to the City of the Nameless Race, where I found the body of some earlier explorer. I grabbed his possessions, including an old journal that looked of interest.
The Great Ritual
My mind felt... wrong, as I completed the spell to take me back home. Had I really burnt so much of the candle? When did I do so? As I returned to Arkham I had the vision of men and women in robes chanting. Why would they do that?
I needed a rest, but there was no time, no time. The gate closed behind me, but I couldn't remember how to seal it.
Happy Days are Here Again!
Three-quarters completed, I told myself. Three-quarters completed! Of what, I couldn't recall, but it was important. I stumbled into the streets, where a Mi-Go attacked me. Why could I remember what it was called but not where I lived? It had a book on its evaporating corpse, but the writing was illegible.
Lodge Member Held for Questioning
My head was throbbing as I reached Misk U. When would I rest?
Goat-like Creature Spotted in Woods
That journal I'd found... where had I found it... it had the most appalling secrets in it. I stumbled towards the Science Building, but it was gone. Something had replaced it. The fellow who tried to stop me, well, I stopped him first. A bullet does that, you know.
Something tried to eat me, so I ate it first. Heh. I'm a liberated girl, now.
Plague of Frogs!
This wasn't my home. This wasn't my town! I lit the candle, and chanted the nonsense words. The setting of the Science Building coalesced around me, and I dribbled wax onto the turtle. Another gate sealed. We were safer, I told myself, much safer.
A Strange Plague
The inhabitants of this place mouthed strange words at me and gesticulated oddly, but they gave me a book to read. I like words. They're so comforting and safe. Give me a library to be safe in, please...
Stalker in the Night!
Something was wrong... my work... in the Graveyard... destroyed. I sobbed in fear and estacy. Something was not right with me. There was a man dressed as a priest in the Merchant District streets. He hurt me, slashing with his knife along my side, but he died just the same. Something nastier tried to eat me, but I ran. I ran quicker than it did.
It was the sign! It was the sign I was waiting for. I slipped into the building, only to find myself in another world. The creature... it had followed me. I could feel only a crushing sensation before I blacked out.
I didn't know where I was. I was floating, floating. Something was under my skin... I felt tainted. Everything was wrong.
Strange Statue Destroyed
I returned to the world outside a cave whose mouth was so black, I don't know how. A new gate lay in front of, and I felt drawn through. Beyond lay a field of mushrooms. They looked delicious, but I had no time, no time at all.
Whipporwills of Dunwich
I returned. I closed the gate behind me with a wave of my hand. I knew the secrets of the ages, I did. All I needed to do was reach the Unvisited Isle and I could find peace.
Southside Strangler Suspected
No! The cave grabbed me, and drew me back in! I was brave, I told myself, I was brave. I would not be eaten. A friendly hand fell upon my shoulder, and a small, shrunken figure introduced himself as Professor Shrewsbury. I found myself able to withstand his presence, although I didn't know what he wanted of me.
He showed me books, such lovely books. I wished I could have stayed there, but he told me I had a destiny.
Big Storm Sweeps Arkham
"Come here, dear," said the Professor, and stood me beneath a rune-encrusted archway. I felt peaceful as I did so, and I felt my strength return. My God! Time was running out, and I'd nearly forgotten my mission. I could see the bits of my memory that I'd lost; I grieved for them, but there was nothing to be done.
"Thank you, thank you," I told the professor, and he just smiled sadly at me.
"I can't help you too much, Miss Thompson, but I can give you the strength to complete your quest. If you have the will to continue?"
"I do," I told him, resolved that it was so.
Witch Burning Anniversary
I returned to Arkham, and completed the mystic passes that the Professor had instructed me in. The gate closed behind me, and my mind was clear - I had to get to the Unvisited Isle.
Missing People Return
The night was closing in upon me, and I knew that something was wrong: the seal on the Unvisited Isle had been breached! I had to get there as quickly as possible, but the streets were almost impassable!
Private Security Hired in Uptown
I reached the Isle, and evaded the monster that came to grab me - it was distracted at the last by a man in brown and green, waving a long pole. I slipped through the gate, and found myself in the place known as Yuggoth.
Spores curled around me, filling the air. I felt them trying to destroy me, but I resisted. I was almost finished. Then I could rest!
Gangs Clean Up Easttown
I held the black candle in one hand, the lit match in the other. I was Mandy Thompson, and the Great Cthulhu would not rise in this age! I felt myself falling, falling, faster and faster... and I was back on the isle. The tentacled statuette, hastily patched, was before me, and I dripped black wax onto it. There was a loud crack...
Egyptian Exhibit visits Miskatonic University
Around Arkham, the gates were closing. Cthulhu was returning to his long sleep. I fell, faint with weariness to the grass of the isle. Someone gathered me in their arms, murmuring my name, over and over again, but I did not care what it meant at all.
At long last, I could sleep.
This solo game lasted 55 turns, longer than any other solo game I've played - somewhere between 1 and 2 hours in length. The variant rule I used: that I used all of the new cards of Dunwich, but just ignored any reference to Dunwich locations (although the new Other Worlds were used) worked extremely well. It gave Mandy a few turns of respite when such cards came up, and extended the interest of the game.
Mandy began with a Shotgun, .45 Automatic and the Psychology skill, which would prove very useful in resisting all the Horror checks she needed to make over the course of the game. The Cabala of Saboth gave her the Mythos Lore skill (-1 Max. Sanity, exhaust instead of spending 1 clue) which was hugely important for completing the game.
This is the first victory I've had playing solo by closing every gate on the board (rather than "just" sealing them), and that was entirely due to Walking the Ley Lines: you need to discard a gate trophy at each of the "big" locations - Woods, Independence Square, Witch House, and Unvisited Isle. After that, I needed an extra trophy, which is why she went into the Science Building - mind you, she ended up with even more due to the luck of the business.
At the end of the game, Mandy has Sanity 2 (max 3), Stamina 4, a .44 Automatic, an Enchanted Blade, and the Psychology and Mythos Lore skills. She had also suffered Memory Loss, Tainted and Paranoid; the acquisition of Paranoid early on meant that John Legrasse couldn't stay with her, which was a great, great loss.
However, in the end she was successful. I like to hope that there'll be a happy ending for her as there was for Arkham and the world.
So, there you have it: my epic session report for Arkham Horror.
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- Chris TandlmayerUnited States
Wow, that was certainly epic! I really like how you worked the memory loss into it--your variant sounds like the best way to play it solo. Having those extra turns when a gate doesn't open gives a lot more incentive to explore locations you otherwise might not go to, like the Diner or Newspaper Office.
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- Matthew JonesUnited States
I already spent my monthly game allowance!!!!
Awesome Session report! Sorry I can't give it 2 thumbs up.
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- Sam DiRocco(Mondior)United States
OhioM27 - The DumbBell Nebula - Photographed 10/15/2018
- Great report! love the way it reads like a story.
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- Ed Browne(Grimstax)United States
Another great session report, Merric!
I know you didn't use the Gate locations in Dunwich, but did you still place monsters there, etc. possibly allowing the Dunwich Horror loose? I'm trying to figure out if doing this is any better than not using DH at all. What "advantage" would there be to going to Dunwich? Just for clues? It sounds like it does make it a little more easy for a solo person to win, but is it really much more than watering down the gate openings that we are talking about here?
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With this variant...
...I can't visit Dunwich locations
...No gates or monsters appear in Dunwich
...the Dunwich Horror can't appear.
So, basically I don't use the Dunwich board (except for the Other Worlds) or the Dunwich encounter decks.
I do use the expanded Mythos deck, Arkham Encounters, Other World Encounters, new monsters, and other decks.
Quite simply: Dunwich offers too much territory for a lone investigator to cover. It's also too expensive to get there - even when I did use the entire expansion, I never got to Dunwich.
I'll try other variants in the future that do allow travel to Dunwich and more interest there; for the time being this solution is allowing a large part of DH to be used without overwhelming a solo investigator.
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Thank you very much to everyone who's read and enjoyed this session report - I'm very glad you have. The feedback also makes me want to write more of them.
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- Ed Browne(Grimstax)United States
I really like that your variant gives a solo investigator a little better shot to actually win a game and not spend the whole time just preparing for a final battle. I will try this variant out and try to let you know how it goes. Right now I have been playing solo with 2 or 4 investigators to feel I have any chance. 4 is a pretty good number it seems with the DH expansion. Every once in a while I still love to do "Monterey Jack and the Mythos of Doom" kind of one person game.
Keep up the good work with the session reports. They are very interesting and fun to read.
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