Searching for Carcosa… in Arkham

Path to Carcosa

Hey everybody,
Hot on the heels of starting the Path to Carcosa campaign, I’m already on to the next scenarios, starting with what is now quite possibly my favourite that I’ve played so far! I know I enjoyed Undimensioned and Unseen, but I think for the flavour and the feel, Echoes of the Past has really got me…

See, we’re exploring the Historical Society, a classic location from the Arkham Horror board game, and we’re going up against regular, humanoid cultists – what could be more Lovecraftian than that?!

Please be aware, I’m going to be talking about some spoilers here for the story…

Following that really weird cast party, we’re trying to find clues as to what is going on with The Kjng in Yellow. Sebastian’s information has taken us to the Historical Society, as there should be some clues to glean. Set up is therefore of a three-floor building, with each floor having two rooms opening off a central hallway.

A really interesting idea, I thought, was having the Agenda not gain doom tokens each round, but rather in-game effects that can move doom from the Cultist enemies in play. Cultists can steal clues from locations, and certain effects will turn the clues into doom – representing the fact that we’re not the only ones hunting the archives!

The main objective is to find the Hidden Library location, where we will learn that only the stage hand survives from the production of the play during its last tour in Arkham, and he is now in the asylum. Guess where we’re going in the next scenario, then!

It’s really well-done, and I particularly liked the fact that the encounter deck uses cards from The Midnight Masks, from the original core set campaign! For some reason, it made me very nostalgic for those first plays with the game, and I sensed a dual meaning to the scenario’s title. Very nicely done, that!

All in all, I think Echoes of the Past is one of those modest and understated scenarios that won’t be finding its way into top ten lists for many players, but I just thought the execution was so graceful and nicely done that it really is up there for me! The fact it takes place in a location from the board game is just perfect, really!

Campaign Log
The investigators have discovered that a stage hand from the original Arkham production of The King in Yellow, Daniel Chesterfield, was committed to Arkham Asylum shortly after the run. Daisy has also taken the onyx clasp, which has given us one point of conviction to help out balance out the doubt from the first scenario of the campaign.

At this point, I’ve also got 7 experience points to spend, so it’s time to upgrade some cards! Pete has upgraded some cards, and has added the Five of Pentacles and Brute Force to his deck. I do like those tarot cards! Likewise for Daisy, I’ve got the Death XIII tarot card in her deck, and a copy of Encyclopaedia, as well as upgrading a few of her cards, as well.

Onwards!

Scenario four in the campaign, The Unspeakable Oath, takes us to another classic location from the Arkham Horror board game: Arkham asylum! As before, please note that I’m gonna be discussing story spoilers here…

This one was absolutely gruelling. We start off going to the asylum, but we’re kinda locked in, and need to try to find the stage hand from the last time The King in Yellow was produced in Arkham, ten years ago. For the first few rounds, this is managed as per the standard method, investigate, gather clues, and advance the Act deck. However, once we find Daniel, things go a bit weird, and we need to do some crazy stuff in an attempt to escape!

We are required to fulfil four actions to advance the Act deck, while the Agenda is ticking away and we’re adding potentially murderous monsters into the encounter deck. The way the scenario ramps up is quite masterful, and added to this, the actions required to advance the Act deck need specific locations to be explored – all of which are far-flung from each other – it’s really quite phenomenal.

Something for which this scenario has been praised for, and rightly so, is the dual nature of the proceedings. Are we really here to interview a patient? If so, why are we having to make our escape? It really feels like we’ve actually been committed here, and the scenarios up to this point have caused a mania that has required treatment. As this scenario progresses, we’re told that the doctors and staff are almost like gaolers – but is that just all in our mind?

I was really impressed with the way the scenario almost induces panic in this way, too. There’s something a bit disturbing about being in the asylum, of course, and the scenario definitely plays on that with having us investigate ‘prisoner confinement’ cells accessed from the basement, for example. We don’t need the formless monsters of the deep hunting us in order to get across that kind of revulsion and fear!

It’s a very difficult scenario, for sure, and I’m not entirely sure that I played it 100% correctly. There is just so much going on! I might actually come back to it soon as a stand-alone thing, just in case, but as has been a theme for the campaign so far, I’m not sure I’ve got the right investigators for this job! I’m still not completely convinced that I’m playing the Survivor class effectively, but even so, I suppose they’ve made it this far!

Campaign Log
The investigators have escaped the asylum – what a sigh of relief! I think it was quite thematic that Daisy made it out of the asylum while in a straightjacket, a treachery card that forces the discard of any body assets and hand assets. The resolution text tells how the investigators used a straightjacket to soften the barbed wire that tops the wall around the building. It was a fun thematic point, anyway!

There is another Interlude that follows this scenario, which deals with the aftermath of escaping the asylum with Daniel in tow. We find ourselves in Ma’s Boarding House – another classic location! – and in his more lucid moments, Daniel tells us more about Hastur and the King in Yellow. He warns us to prevent those who wish to awaken Hastur and open the path to Carcosa. We heed Daniel’s warning, which gives us +2 conviction and a grand total of 7 experience points in total.

Time to upgrade the decks again!

Daisy has upgraded both her Scroll of Secrets and Old Book of Lore, and has swapped in some Archaic Glyphs. Now, I hadn’t realised that Duke is not an ally in Ashcan Pete’s deck, so I have now gotten myself a copy of Jessica Hyde to aid with the combat attribute, and has gained the Scrapper permanent card. As permanents don’t take up a deck slot, I’ve also used some experience to buy a Grisly Totem, which might be of some use!

So I’ve got a few more toys to try out – as we head off to Paris next!

2 thoughts on “Searching for Carcosa… in Arkham”

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