This guest article is written by Iain McAllister
This is a series of articles looking at the individual scenarios of Arkham Horror, starting with the Dunwich Legacy expansion. These will be my impressions after playing through the scenario at least once and will be focusing on the mechanics and how those reinforce the story elements of a given scenario. These articles will contain extensive spoilers and assume a familiarity with the terms and mechanics of the game. Please do not read on if you have not played the scenario in the title yet.
After the events of the ‘House Always Wins’ and ‘Extracurricular Activity’ the investigators are pointed towards an ancient tome residing in the collection of the ‘Miskatonic Museum’. Arriving at the museum late in the day you are immediately presented with two choices: politely look for a way in, advancing the Act card, or smash your way in, to find yourself in the Museum Halls.
Whichever choice you make you get inside the Museum and immediately set about your task. The Act you move to will be determined by whether you broke in or not and also whether or not you are wandering round with a security guard in tow. Although getting in the legal way comes with benefits, one of the nice things about the scenario is that doing so effectively costs the curator his life. Breaking in means you get to the Halls quicker and the man is still alive! That’s a nice little storytelling quandry.
Whichever way you break in, when you get to the main halls your task is to find where the Necronomicon is being displayed. Having organised a location deck during setup, you need to dig through it to find out where to go, for the Restricted Hall. From the Museum Hall you can spend clues as a group to put an exhibit hall location into play, and can then fan out into the museum to find what you need.
The Main hall is connected to each exhibit, so you can investigate at your leisure from this location. Each of the halls has some sort of negative impact on your actions at that location meaning there is a nice bit of variety baked into the scenario. Depending on the Security Office card you are playing with, you may also be able to scout the halls ahead of revealing them, but I’ve personally never used the mechanics like this. It’s always seemed quicker to just dive in, though keeping the security guard alive does make the scouting easier.
Something to note is that whichever Ally you pick up from the scenario, if you don’t look after them there is a permanent addition to your chaos bag in the form of a tablet token. This just makes things harder down the line, trust me. I like that they are playing around with the chaos bag mid scenario, it shows a lot of promise for this interesting mechanic to really grow as the designers become more confident with it.
Once the restricted hall has been revealed you advance to the final act and try and hoover up all the clues that will give you access to this most famous of tomes. The presence of the monster will stop you gaining clues here, so you need to ward it off whilst making your way to the end. If you are successful you will be able to determine the fate of the book, whether to burn it or keep it. It’s a neat card, but who knows what keeping it may do to you down the line. Keeping it comes with the addition of another token in the chaos bag, but that surely won’t come back to haunt you. That never happens.
The Agenda deck ticks along spawning the beast that is hunting you throughout the scenario, but not really doing much else. We will look at that in a moment when we come to the encounter deck.
That’s pretty much it for the mechanics of the scenario, nothing terribly fascinating and a setup that reuses mechanics from House Always wins, in the searching for the correct room and a race against time to find the book before the monster finally strikes it’s mortal blow!
This scenario is mainly powered by it’s Encounter deck and as such your experience with the difficulty may spike or trough depending on what crops up. There is only 1 monster in the whole deck, the Hunting Horror, which cannot be permanently killed! Of course this makes combat focused characters a little less useful this scenario, which is actually nice to see. I hope that they will continue to change the emphasis on different scenarios, to push different classes to the fore.
So the Agenda will be pushing this creature as it pops in and out of reality. Rather than putting a load of words on the horror they added a second card called Shadow-Spawned which causes the horror to grow every time it reappears. I would have liked to have seen this card not mention the horror actually as it could then have been used in scenarios down the line, but maybe they will just reprint something similar if they want to do a similar scenario.
The encounter deck itself is made up of some of the sets from the core and it’s own special set, mostly focused around losing actions and discarding cards. The fact that Beyond the Veil rears it’s ugly head should be enough to make anyone fear, but since the deck isn’t quite as focused as the extra-curricular activity set on pushing cards out of your hand, the threat is slightly lessened. Cursed Luck feels like a slightly odd addition to the encounter set and I do wonder if the deck would have felt a bit more threatening if it was slightly thinner
See I think there is a problem with this scenario. When it fires, it really does feel like there is a horror stalking the halls of the museum, striking where it can. When it doesn’t, it falls flat. I think this is partly down to the way the horror spawns and I feel that a little more fiddling with the probabilities of the encounter deck would have just pushed it from occasionally terrifying to pant-wetting horror.
This was the first of the scenarios I played that didn’t totally blow me away and that is fine. Although it’s not my favourite, and having played the whole campaign now I think it’s probably the weakest, it’s still a perfectly serviceable story that can sometimes really get across the feeling of being stalked by an unmentionable creature from the beyond.