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Arkham Horror: Dunwich Horror Expansion» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Solo game: The Soldier's Tale rss

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Merric Blackman
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"Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye."
And with that word we ryden forth oure weye,
And he bigan with right a myrie cheere
His tale anon, and seyde as ye may heere.


The Soldier's Tale
The church stood empty, save for a single lonely figure, crouched before the statue of the Virgin Mary. It was a man, clad in ragged clothes, his body wracked with shudders as his grief gave way to an unstable quietness.

Eventually, he rose, turned and strode with unflinching stride to the door, not looking back.

A single lily had been laid at the foot of the statue, now soaked with tears.

Deathly Still
Within the halls of the Historical Society, the calm sound of a patron snoring was cut by the clatter of booted feet striding decisively down the wooden hallway. A door was opened, and a stentorian voice cried out, "Professor!"

"Huh, what?" A bewhiskered face rose from the depths of the comfy chair that the Professor had been inhabiting. "Oh! It's you, Mark. You're early."

"I'm actually late, Professor," said his guest, sliding into the chair facing him. "Did you find what I asked for?"

"Late? Well, I never!" The Professor took out his watch, and looked at it. "Blasted thing must have stopped." He held it up to his ear, and listened. "Yes, that's the problem." He replaced it with the air of someone having solved a weighty problem, and settled further into his chair.

"Professor?"

"Oh... sorry, Mark," the elderly scholar apologised. "I got distracted there for a moment. You'll find it on that table there, under that vial."

His guest rose and strode to the table. "Good," he said, pocketing the parchment and the vial both. He started for the door, only to be arrested by the Professor addressing him once again.

"Mark? Good luck?"

Mark turned his grief-ravaged face toward the Professor. "It's too late for that. There's only revenge left now."

Contagion Kills Life on Blasted Heath!
The Black Cave was known for miles around as one of the most interesting - and dangerous - rock formations in the district. Many a trained spelunker had disappeared there; something that just increased the allure for some.

The cave wasn't empty now. Tom "Mountain" Murphy, laden with ropes, piton and a good torch, was doubtfully contemplating a chasm in the floor. He was sure it hadn't been there the last time he'd surveyed the cave for the council. The recent tremors must have opened it up.

He was just on the verge of hammering in the first piton when he was interrupted by a voice behind him. "Attention, Sergeant Murphy!"

The piton skittered and fell into the depths below as he turned to face the intruder. "Lieutenant Harrigan!" he called in surprise.

"Good to see you, Tom," said Mark, although his smile didn't touch his eyes. "I need your help with something."

"It's important, Lieutenant?"

"As anything in the world," was the reply.

Help Wanted
"Where are we going?" asked Tom of his erstwhile commander, as they both loaded the caving gear onto the back of Tom's truck.

"Offices of the Arkham Gazette," Mark said, somewhat distractedly. "They're offering a retainer for anyone who can tell them old stories, and I reckoned your tales would be worth a bob or two."

"Hey!" Tom protested.

"You're the one that bored us senseless back in the trenches," replied Mark. "I said I'd have my revenge, and here it is. It's for a good cause though."

Tom grumbled silently to himself for the rest of the trip.

The Great Ritual
"I said I was sorry!" said Tom, sometime later, as they drove towards the Arkham Graveyard. "Look, I got you out of the way of most of it, didn't I?"

Mark looked ruefully at the remains of his sleeve, and the burns below. "It wouldn't have happened if you hadn't tripped into that boy."

Tom grunted an undecipherable reply. "Hey, what's that?" He pointed. "Is it halloween already?"

The line of people - men and woman - dressed in black hoods filed past the truck and down the alleyway towards the French Hill streets.

"No idea. I think they're up to no good though." Mark's hands clenched, impotently. "No time to talk to them. We've got to reach the graveyard."

"Why the graveyard? What's so important there, Mark?"

"You know how we thought nothing could be worse than the trenches, Tom? Well, we were wrong."

The gash between worlds hung like a burning curtain above the graves. Tom looked as Mark checked his weapons and pulled on a pair of goggles. "This is for real, then?" he asked.

"Come and see," said Mark, flatly, and led the way towards the gash. A great Hound approached the pair, growling menacingly, but Mark, without breaking stride, just uncorked the vial he'd taken from the Professor and threw its contents into the Hound's face. With a howl of anguish, it faded from view. Mark, unspeaking, led the way through the gash.

It was an anguishing experience, the pair feeling like their skins were being flayed from their body... but at least it didn't take too long. Gasping, the two struggled onto the darkling plain beyond.

"Catch your breath, Tom," said Mark, surveying the odd horizon for landmarks. Behind them, there was no sign of the way back.

(Good Work Undone)
"So, do you have a plan for getting us out of this place?"

"Yes," replied Mark. He examined the Professor's parchment. "Keep your eyes open for monsters."

"Will we find any? Just let them come!"

That almost raised a smile, but Mark just went back to trudging through the barren wastes.

Blackest Night
There was no sign of the gate back - instead, Mark just led them between two rocks, and suddenly they were stepping between the gravestones again. Mark knelt, picked up a fragment of gravestone, turned, and threw it back through the gash, which closed in upon itself with an audible pop.

"Tell me, Tom. Have you ever heard of Abhoth?"

Lodge Member Held for Questioning!
"So, you're telling me that old legend is real?" Tom shook his head, disbelievingly.

"You just have to look at what we've already seen," said Mark. "I found this journal of an old explorer - Lord Anderson - and it seemed that he perished fighting this thing. And I have my own experiences as well..." He fell silent, considering.

"Yes, but... What the hell is that?" Tom exclaimed, as something jumped on the truck from behind.

"Let's see," said Mark. The two old soldiers disembarked from the truck and ran around. A feral figure gazed at them from the truckbed. "Ghoul." Mark unslung a nozzle from around his neck, and pointed it at the figure.

"Lieutenant, no!" screamed Tom. It was too late. The Ghoul was engulfed with a burst of fire from Mark's flamethrower, igniting both it and the truck. The two soldiers ran quickly from the scene.

"Heh. That ought to distract them from us," said Mark. Tom could only look at his commander, speechless.

Couriers in Town
Another ghoul came down the street, sniffing curiously at the air. Mark toasted it as well. Tom looked at him with some awe. "We are going somewhere aren't we?"

"Trust me," came the laconic reply,

Dark Skies
"What is that thing?" asked Tom, pointing at a slimy, tentacled heap oozing towards the fire.

"You really don't want to know," said Mark. "Let's avoid it."

The pair slipped away. "Hah - Hibb's Roadhouse," said Tom. "I like this place."

"Want a drink?" asked Mark. "Why not?" came the reply.

The two entered. It was soon after that the soldier found himself in a game of darts; he was rusty and out of practice, but the game was soothing. Tom just chatted up a pretty girl.

Egyptian Exhibit Visits Miskatonic U.!
"That thing's still out there," said Tom, pointing down the street.

"Hmm. I really want to get to the general store," said Mark. "Ready to make a run for it?"

"Do I have a choice?" asked Tom, but his friend was already pulling open the door.

"Now just imagine that it's German machine-gun post, and you'll be ok."

"Mark, our friends died out there!"

Mark wasn't listening. He skulked as far as he dared, then ran down the street, making his way to the General Store, Tom just behind him. The shopkeeper looked up, startled, as the two thundered in.

"May I help you?" he quavered.

Mark reached over his shoulder, and grabbed something, slamming it down on the counter. "Just this, thanks."

The shopkeeper looked up from the pair of brass knuckles Mark had chosen. "Ah... do you want them gift-wrapped?"

Ill Wind Grips Arkham!
The shop shook, and supplies clattered down onto the pair. Mark shook his head. "We're losing time. Come on, Tom!"

"What now?" asked his companion, feeling exceptionally clueless.

"Back to the Black Cave. You know that fissure you found?"

"Yes?"

"I think something just came out of it."

Something had. "Cthonian," muttered Mark. "That's what caused that earthquake." He turned the flamethrower on it. "Die, you scum!"

Tom looked up from firing bullet after bullet into it. "Do these things actually die?"

"Eventually," gasped Mark, just as it did so. "Curse it. I'm almost out of fuel! Well, come on."

"Where now?"

"Through the gate."

The pair found themselves back on the vast plateau. A sparkling object caught Mark's eye. He bent down and retrieved it: a silver hairpin in the shape of a bird. His eyes glittered, and part of his stern mien cracked before he recovered. "I'll stop them," he muttered. "I promise."

Stalkers in the Night!
Two forms trudged across the dark plateau, every so often, the smaller one calling a stop and consulting a darkened parchment.

A rumbling and a shudder in the earth beneath them caused both to pause warily before continuing. "Not long now. Not long."

Noden's Favour
They returned to a tumultuous roar. "We've not much time!" screamed Mark. "Quick, out of the cave!"

Tom ran for the exit, then realized his friend wasn't following. "Mark! What are you doing?"

"Closing the gate!" came the reply. There was a crack, and the cave floor began to give way. Tom watched as Mark ran, just outpacing the collapsing cave.

"Grab my hands!" he cried, reaching out. Mark gave one great leap, and fell into his friend's arms. The two rolled away, down the grassy path, away from what was quickly becoming a complete collapse of the underground caverns.

There was a sudden stillness: no sound came from anywhere, save their laboured breathing.

Then it came: the earth rocked and burst, and a great creature of slime and anger came forth. Abhoth, itself, here to claim the Earth for its masters.

Tom screamed in horror, but Mark, his jaw set, just laid around him with his flamethrower, punching with his brass knuckles when it got too close. Tom, seeing his friend so besieged, threw himself into the fight as well, with fist and gun, rock and branch, trying desperately to stop the horror.

Blood was running down both their bodies, their breathing was short and laboured. Tentacles coiled around Mark, pinning him helplessly. Doom was at hand.

Or not quite - the Soldier slipped free of the aberration, leaving it carrying only his backpack, full of the fuel for the flamethrower. Blindly, it clutched the pack to its middle, seeing to devour it. The Soldier stood on a bluff, and pulled a Molotov Cocktail from the inside of his jacket. A manic grin played over his face, and he threw the device into the heart of the monster.

The fire lasted quite some time.

####

At the foot of the statue of the Virgin Mary in the Arkham Church lies a single lily, which never withers. It is bound by a red ribbon, and by love. The priest there does not know where it came from, but each day prays that one day its devotee may find rest.

Merric's Notes:
This will be the last of my Arkham Horror session reports for a couple of weeks, as I'm lending my set to a friend so he can experience the game. Once again, this was a game of Dunwich Horror using the "no Dunwich" variant - something of an oddity, I admit, but it's been working quite well.

Mark Harrigan, "the Soldier", didn't really get a chance to seal all the gates - they were just opening too fast, so instead I chose to seal gates and slay monsters. Abhoth is terrifying to face at the end of the game, but the final battle was successful. It ran like this:

Round 1: Fight 5 + Tom 2 + Brass Knuckles 1 + Flame Thrower 7 - Abhoth 4 = 11 dice... 2 successes. (Uh oh!)

Discarded 3 monster trophies to Abhoth's attack.

Round 2: Fight 6 + Tom 2 + Brass Knuckles 1 + Flame Thrower 7 - Abhoth 4 = 12 dice... 8 successes. (Much better!)

Discarded 2 gate trophies and 1 clue to Abhoth's attack

Round 3: Fight 6 + Tom 2 + Brass Knuckles 1 + Flame Thrower 7 - Abhoth 4 = 12 dice... 3 successes -> VICTORY!

Not quite the epic that the Mandy Thompson game was - only 13 turns, in fact - but I still got a story out of it. I chose the 3rd person narrative this time, and if it's not entirely consistent from start to finish... oh well. I'm not trying to write great literature, just entertaining session reports.

I hope you've enjoyed this series of reports. I'll still be playing other solo games (most likely Runebound and ASK) - and multiplayer games - and reporting on them over the next couple of weeks. Once I get my set of AH back, I'll start looking at integrating Dunwich and Curse of the Dark Pharoah together.

Cheers,
Merric
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Chris Tandlmayer
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It's a shame you won't be posting any more Arkham Horror sessions for awhile--I can honestly say I scan the front page every day, hoping you'll have posted another!

Looking forward to your other reports!
 
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Peter Folke
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Me too. I have even come to the point where I thump them before I read them.
 
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Dane Peacock
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I'm guessing that it takes you longer to write these session reports than it does to play the games.
 
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Merric Blackman
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You're quite right - in general, it takes me twice as long to write the report as to play the game.

Cheers,
Merric
 
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Jesse Dean
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Mark Harrigan is pretty bad ass. He is probably my favorite character from Dunwich based on style alone. He is almost like a 30s action hero thrust into a Cthulhu story. Too bad he goes insane so easily...
 
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