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Subject: Solo game: A Warrior on a quest to defeat the Witch King. rss

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Jorge Arroyo
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Tonight we were supposed to play a three player game of Blackbeard, but finally it wasn't possible, so in the end I ended up playing a solo session of Arcanum, as I've just printed out the new hexagonal tiles from the Call to Arms expansion which make setting and moving around the map much easier and they also look much better.

I chose the Warrior and the Tavern as starting place. What follows is a detailed turn to turn retelling of the game. One turn is one game day. I randomly drew a Destiny Card (a bigger Quest each player can try to complete for VPs) and got The Return of the Witch King, so I set out to complete it.

0. After learning about dreaded Witch King's possible return to this earth, I knew I had to stop him. My father was one of the knights that had fought in the Old Wars and I was one of the few people that really knew what danger we were all in. So I traveled to the Island of Arcanum arriving early in the morning the first day of the first month of the year. As any sensible adventurer, the first thing I did after arriving to the costal town (the only town in the island) was head for the tavern. The perfect place to gather information and possibly hire some help for the travels.

1. This turned out well, as right there as I entered I saw another tough looking warrior drunk as hell looking like he needed a job. I approached him and said: "Let's wrestle. If you win, I'll give you all my possessions, but if I win, you come with me on a dangerous quest". Of course, he accepted and after a tough match I won. "I would have gone with you anyway" he said. "I'm so bored of this town I'd join anyone! Ha!". We spent the day drinking and checking out other possible companions, but there were none.

2. We stayed the night resting because I had heard rumors that the Sage would be visiting the town soon. I needed to talk to him to learn more about the Witch King, as I really didn't know where to start looking. Surely, at lunch time he entered the tavern and took a seat. I approached him and told him my purpose. "You're crazy, son. This mission is no match for you!! But if you really want to know, the Witch King is returning through a mystical portal. You must find where it is!! This knowledge lies in the dangerous Crypt, on the Haunted Plains to the north east." Afterwards, we decided to leave right away, as there was no time to lose. We headed for the Town's Magical Gate which permitted travel to any other gate in the island.

3. We arrived at the market and found a wandering merchant. With almost no gold left after traveling to the island, there wasn't much we could buy. A measly leather helm was all I could afford, but it was better than nothing I guess...

4. Right when we were leaving, we found a lonely Golem on the road. "Master... Master... Master..." was all he seemed to be able to say. We approached it and asked what was the matter. He told us how its Master had vanished and how now it was lost. He didn't know what to do. We then managed to easily convince the thing that its best course of action was to come with us and lend us a hand. This way he'd have a chance of finding its master. It seemed to smile as there was, again, a task for him to do and someone's orders to obey.

5 and 6. On the 6th day of travel we arrived at the Town's Magic Gate. There we made camp so that early next morning we could travel to The Haunted Plains, where our first objective lied.

7. What little magic I learned on my past adventures helped me open the portal. The three of us stepped through and arrived at the Haunted Plains. Now a perilous journey awaited us, for we had to cross them in order to reach the Crypt. Right after arriving, we could hear a drumming sound from far away. Thankfully, no danger seemed to be near...

8. We travelled until we reached a dead end. The path to continue seemed to be hidden.

9 and 10. We'd need all our resources for the Ruins were ahead, so we decided to spend the next couple of days resting and meditating, building our strength for the nearing challenges.

11. As we were getting ready to search for the hidden path, a goblin warrior approached us. luckily we were ready for the creature and we jumped on him with our swords. We quickly dispatched him as he was no match for the three of us together.After the fight, we finally managed to find the way to the Ruins.

12. Before encountering whatever creature would await us at the Ruins, I wanted to be at full strength, so we spent the day resting.

13. Sure enough, as we approached the ruins, an old Orc was waiting for us. This fight proved to be tougher, but not by much. The Orc managed to hit me right when I dealt my finishing blow, but it wasn't too bad. After the fight I felt right at home again. It had been a long time since I used my fighting skills and I could feel some of my old strength returning.

14. We spent the next day searching for the path out of this place. Not an easy task indeed. By next morning we managed to leave on our way towards the Crypt.

15. Traveling through the treacherous path proved to be time consuming, but we finally made it.

16 and 17. We then decided to spend the next two days resting and healing my wound. We didn't stop hearing drumming and noises all around us, but luckily nothing came our way.

18. Then we travelled reaching another dead end. We had to stop and search for a way that would finally lead us to the Crypt.

19. Again we spent the day searching but once more we managed to find the way to go.

20. Before moving out, we rested, making sure we'd be at full strength next morning.

21 and 22. We were about to move out but suddenly an Ogre appeared before us: "Me will kill you. The Witch King will Return!!!" then he attacked us. He was fast, and managed to land a blow, but we struck back until we defeated him and he was no more. After the fight, I felt more confident with my skills, but anyway, we had to rest and heal ourselves...

23. After a two days rest we decided to move on, and reached the Crypt as the sun was setting. We investigated, looking for clues about our quest, right when we found an old magical Tome that seemed to have the answers we were looking for, a wretched mummy attacked us. This was a more powerful monster, but at least was quite slow, which allowed us to plan our attacks better. The first blow was so hard I knew there was nothing I could do, but after that attack the mummy lost its balance and with its slow movements couldn't evade our next attacks. We defeated it and then learned the place where the Witch King would make his appearance: The Tower of Magic. Searching the place we also found some gold and took with us the Magic Book, which seemed to contain some spells. Right when we were about to exit the place, from the pages of the book fell an old map. It was a map of this very crypt, and showed the way to a hidden tomb where the Lich King was supposed to lie. We decided to follow the map the next day to defeat him. We couldn't pass this chance up...

24. and 25. We rested, preparing for the following batlle.

26. Then we stormed into the tomb and attacked the Lich King. He was powerful, but not very tough, and we defeated him, finding some spells he kept in his tomb. I felt my skill as a sword man was increasing and we left the place in a good mood. Exiting the crypt we found the path we used to enter the place was no longer there. We had to search again until we found another one.

28. We then moved back towards the exit of this cursed place, traveling all day.

29. We heard noises ahead, so we stopped to rest and recover our strength.

30. The next day we kept on traveling until we reached another dead end.

31. We searched for a way out and until late at night we found it.

32. Then we kept on, towards the exit of this place, and reached the Ruins again, where another mummy waited for us. We decided to try to sneak by it and quietly search for the hidden path that would take us out of here.

33. We then moved through the hidden path, finally arriving to open terrain.

34. Finally we reached the gate we had used to come to the Plains. A pitiful looking goblin was guarding it this time, but we had no trouble killing him.

35. and 36. Before jumping into the unkown, we rested, getting ready for whatever was awaiting us through the gate.

37. Then we meditated, trying to muster some fire magic to get through the gate

38. And finally, we stepped into the gate. After a short and dizzying sensation, we stepped out of the gate in The Caves. A strange rambling sound surrounded us.

39. We quickly started moving. We had to find the exit from this caves and head towards the Inn. Maybe we could find help there and also use its gate to reach the Tower of Magic, where the Witch King was supposed to appear at some point in the future.

40. We reached the area near the Inn. After a brief discussion, we decided to enter it and give ourselves a break. Some drinks and nice food after what we had gone through the last month would be greatly welcomed.

41. A mercenary approached us: " For one gold coin a week, I'll fight by your side". I tried to convince him of the importance of our quest, but to no avail. Money was all he cared about, so we ignored him.

42. A traveling merchant arrived then to the Inn. After a short discussion (and hint of a sword) he let us buy one of his horses. Now we would be able to travel a bit faster through the island.

43. The third day we spent resting at the Inn, we found a Scout traveling the land. This time money was not a problem as he was looking for adventure, so he joined us after a short talk over a couple of beers. Next day we would move out, as we had already wasted enough time...

44. and 45. After a couple of days traveling south, we reached the Magic Gate. This gate would take us directly to the Tower of Magic.

46-50 At the tower we talked to the wizards and showed them the Tome of Magic where we had gained all the information as to the location of the Gate where the Witch King was going to appear. We guarded the gate meditating and getting stronger for the fight to come. Then, after a few days the gate activated.

51. The Witch King stepped through the gate and into our room. "By my father, knight of Arcanum, who fought you and sealed you so you never came back, I'll make sure your return is indeed a brief one, monster!!!" I shouted at him. Then we all attacked. We managed to take him by surprise, as his spells were not ready for a fight against a warrior. After a very short combat we defeated him, ending his reign of terror forever.

Thus ends the adventure of this warrior now training to become a knight. Using the Gate at the Tower, we all travelled back to the Town where we parted ways. I returned home, with a good tale to tell.

By the end of the game, after about 2 months and a half game time, my warrior had reached Level 6 and 36 VPs. Not bad at all.

Comments: I played with my variant for weaker monsters and this time it seemed like they were a bit too weak. I'm not sure about the variant anymore... It seems to me like depending on the Destiny Card, sometimes the game can be too hard or just about right for one character. This quest was just about right, so maybe the variant wouldn't have been needed.

I also played the Special Sites rules wrong, because each day spent at a good site I got the special event while at the bad sites I only got events when entering and once a week if I hadn't left. This basically saved me time because otherwise you have to spend many days moving in and out of the good sites to get the good events.

Overall, the session was fun and full of meaningful decisions. The fighting could have been more tense, but at least getting to the Crypt and out was a challenge (planning to get the weaker monsters). This is a great underrated game!!

Disclaimer: I have no relation with the designer of this game, I just love this type of boardgame and will try anything I can get my hands on if it looks interesting. This game has some rough edges and the rules are not always clear, so it might not be for everyone, but for me it's FUN and will keep playing it from time to time.
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