Elder Sign Solo Session
Continuing my attempts to convey a story from what is essentally a very mechanincal game. I chose 1 character from random and 1 GOO from random. If this character dies I loose the game, otherwise all the normal rules apply.
Right then on with the show.
The Oxford Meeples presents.
In glorious TECHNO-MEEPLEO-DICEO-VISON
Mind locks and the keys to my heart.
Starring: Amanda Sharpe, Yog-Sothoth and a host of others.
Scene setting: Its Friday night, all of my friends are dancing the night away in the pubs of Oxford; yet I find myself still at the Pitt Rivers museum, in a dark basement desperately trying to finish my PHD on the Blue Watcher of the Pyramid. Suddenly I hear a thud and a muffed crash. There’s something in the basement with me!
Midnight Tolls: The more bangs and crashes I hear the more scared I become. (1 Doom token added)
Against my better judgement (I know what happens to people in horror films) I head off to investigate what’s in the basement with me; surely it must be another student playing pranks on me. I don’t find anything in the basement but I do find evidence that I’m not alone, written on the walls in what looks like blood is “The key and the Gate are one, yet you need both” (1 clue token), this is not helping my nerves. I also find a book on the nameless cults (item) in the index I see a reference to the Blue Watcher.
Back in the comforting mess of my lab whilst flicking through the book I find a picture showing a gate to another world. Looking closer I see the Blue Watcher in the picture. A little later I realise that the picture actually hangs in this museum (2 clue tokens) forgetting myself engrossed in my studies I rush off to the exhibition hall and take a good look at it. Thanks to the book I open the gate and see the most magical dream world.
Closing my Eyes I step in this dream world, after a fun time exploring this fantastic plane. I learn that the Blue watcher wants to stop Yog-Sothoth and that Yog-Sothoth is the key and the gate (2 clue tokens) and that Elder Signs are required to lock the gate, I hear a lock being turned in my mind (1 Elder Sign). I return to the mortal world to make a terrible discovery.
My lab has been trashed! My research is gone, my world is falling apart. Bloody symbols are painted on the walls it must be a warning. In trying to figure out what the symbols mean I feel my mind slipping filled with visions of losing my grants, my professor rubbishing my work. (-2 sanity) I fight through the visions and learn that Yog-Sothoth has taken a very keen interest in me, watching me from the dark corners of my mind (2 clue tokens), then something in my mind clicks as though a key is turned in a lock (1 Elder Sign).
Midnight Tolls: The feeling of dread in the basement increases, and I’m convinced I see an Eye staring at me for s second. (2 doom tokens added) now there is howling coming from the (un)natural history section of the museum (1 monster)
Score: 3 Doon tokens, 2 Elder Signs.
The horrible visions of the eye are starting to appear more frequently, I must get them out of my head; The Blue Watcher must be part of this so I head to the library to do some more research and escape my trashed lab. In the library I find the book of Dzyan (item) which explains how to strengthen my mind using an ancient breathing technique. I try it and once I’ve mastered it another door locks in my mind (1 Elder sign)
I wake from this trance like breathing to find Richard Upton Pickman; Richie to his friends (Trophy spending) has come to find me. Apparently they missed me at the pub last night at least that is his excuse, as I know he’s got the hots for me.
We head down towards what remains of my lab, the corridor has blood in the floor, something bad has happened here. Pausing for a moment we spot written in the blood on the floor “don’t trust your friends”, I a mumbling distracted trance like voice I reply “I know” (1 Elder Sign) and pull the gun (item) I’d just found on the floor on Richie, who runs off towards the public lavatories.
Chasing after Richie, he and I have a fight amongst the cubicles; he admits that he loves me, allowing me to break the vampire trance that I’m under. With the help of Richie, the gun and the book of Dyzan the vampire is banished along with a very surprised cultist who was taking his absolutions. The cultist appears to b wearing a clock of many keys, on each key is a key. Richie and I kiss and in my mind another set of locks are turned (2 Elder Signs). Just as my life seems to be getting better, a loud crash is heard in the storage area.
Midnight Tolls: The feeling of dread returns (1 Doom token)
Score: 4 Doom tokens, 6 Elder Signs.
Richie and I head to the storage area, taking a short cut though the main exhibition hall, a chill wind cuts though us and all the exhibits turn and stare at us. The feeling of dread is more like a reign of terror now (1 Doom token) and slightly bloodied and very scared (-1 wound and sanity) we run from the museum.
Outside I teach Richie the breathing technique and click another lock turns (trophy spending on an Elder Sign), feeling braver we decide to risk the main exhibition hall again.
The tempest like cold wind is being made y the screaming of a bloodied woman, with Richie’s help she is banished back into an alien-like statue (item), the statue is covered in eyes (clue token), using my cardigan to cover the eyes another click in my mind is felt (1 Elder Sign).
Finally we reach the storage area; one of the cupboards is glowing. When we are about to open the door we are attacked by another key wearing cultist. Defeating the cultist by smashing him over the head with the statue (I felt guilty about using the statue but it felt good) we learn that behind the door is in fact another world Yuggoth and that Yog-Sothoth is there (1 clue token). After removing the cultists healing stone (item) we open the door to see a cold dark green world, in the sky large eyes is staring at me.
Midnight Tolls: Suddenly my wounds hurt more and feel the dreadful eyes staring at me again.
Score: 6 Doon tokens, 8 Elder Signs
Using the healing stone the feeling of dread becomes a dim and distant memory, Yuggoth holds no fear for me, and then slowly the dread returns even stronger. Things start to go badly wrong terror fills me and even with Richie’s help I cannot take it and run back to the mortal world, in the process Richie and I are separated. Yog-Sothoth makes sure that I cannot return to that evil place again. Weeping with my head in my hands I realise that I have lost everything, Richie, my research possibly my mind. Richie where are you? I’m sorry.
I resolve to try and find Richie and decide to try and make so more locks (Elder signs) to be defeat Yog-Sothoth and get Richie back. I can’t concentrate on the task in hand; visions of Richie stop me from working. I leave the building to get some air.
Fully restored (trophy spending), I try again, this time after some blood and tears (-1 wound and sanity) I succeed in crafting a lock in my mind (1 Elder sign) unfortunately Yog-Sothoth now knows I can do it (1 doom token) maybe I can use some of his forbidden knowledge against him.
That was a total failure, my mind just isn’t strong enough to use it (-1 sanity)
Midnight Tolls: It sounds like a monster is taking the guided tour. (1 doom token)
Score: 8 Doom tokens, 9 Elder Signs
BANG! “Richie did you hear that?” I ask, before I realise that he is no longer there, but trapped on another world. BANG! In my slightly delusional state I decide that it is Richie trying to get hold of me and head of it the direction on the noise, it’s not Richie but another vampire. After taking all my anger out on it I banish it. During the fight it drops the Necronomicon (item), from which I learn the Dread Curse of Azathoth (spell)
The security office must have something of use, maybe a government agency to help out in these kinds of situations, why didn’t I think of this before. There is no agency but I did find the contact details of Professor Armitage (ally), who after believing all the half truths I told him offers me some help.
The relief of someone believing me turns to tiredness, very time I close my eyes I feel Yog-Sothoth getting nearer and Richie screaming out in pain or terror. Using the Neconomicon and the breathing technique I just manage to fend off the utter evilness hearing the reassuring click of a lock (1 Elder Sign). Somehow whilst this great mental fight was going on the Prof and I were transported to R’Lyeth (find gate spell) and in my heart I know Richie is here.
R’Lyeth, the final showdown, my destiny and love waits. Stepping on the plane the Prof and I do battle with Yog-Sothoth, spells fly through air, and curses are uttered. Eventually after using all the secrets that I have learnt (all clue tokens) the last 3 locks in my mind are shut forever (3 Elder signs). At last Yog-Sothoth has been defeated and my mind is my own.
A new day dawns, and a new life for Richie and I. The Prof even offers me a full time post at the museum; I tell him that I don’t think I could take the pace of working there.
Final Score: 8 Doom Tokens, 13 Elder Signs.
I have now played Elder Sign quite a few times now, and I have found that it is far better played solo than with a group, the complete opposite to Arkham Horror. Group play in Elder Sign becomes who can support who and who is the best a finishing the task, there is just not enough flavour in the cards at all, and the rinse and repeat mechanics of the game don’t help. Solo it is much easier to get engrossed in the story and the decisions you make feel more logical.
Elder Sign is not the prefect solo storytelling game, but it is not far off.