Well folks, I am just breezing through the campaign right now! After making a start on Monday with both parts, I’m back again today with the next stage!
The Search for Kadath
Things are progressing well with the Dream-Eaters cycle, as I basically re-live HP Lovecraft’s Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. It’s remarkable, really, how this scenario sticks so true to the source material while also able to weave through additional threads from some of Lovecraft’s shorter dream pieces. We start where we left off, really, in the cat city of Ulthar, and the dreamers begin their quest to find answers by consulting a high priest. The act deck is hefty in this scenario, but this is because the game is pretty much staged in five different locations. Once the first act card has been advanced, we have a choice about where we need to go next, one of four locations. These are all classic mythos locations such as Ib, Celephaïs, etc. The object of our travels is to find ten signs of the gods, which will light our way to the next stage of our journey.
Now, I must say that I really enjoyed this scenario, but it did get a bit repetitive towards the end. See, we have to search through all four of these Dreamlands locations to find these signs, and we only get a couple from each one, so you know that you need to get through each one. Each location also only has three cards to investigate, plus a unique enemy, and it all becomes a bit samey in the end.
I think, if the locations has been a bit more different somehow, either through giving more signs or having more or less location cards, it might have mixed it up a bit. Of course, on the flipside you could say that it’s quite formulaic in the way that these dream sequences are following a rhythm or something. At any rate, my investigators made it through and ended up with a hefty chunk of victory points thanks to a lot of the locations giving out points! I had already taken some time beforehand to upgrade everybody’s decks, but this was quite amazing to end up with 13 more victory points!
There is a peculiar tally going on in the campaign log now as well – “evidence of Kadath”. I have eleven tally marks here, but I don’t yet know to what end I’m recording it all. It’ll be interesting, I think, to see where this whole thing ends up!
A Thousand Shapes of Horror
In the waking world, however, things are a lot more Arkham-esque. Realising their dreaming friends are in trouble, the investigators attempt to find an entrance to the Dreamlands in the physical world, rather than through going to sleep, and with the help of Randolph Carter, they pursue a lead he once had via The Unnamable, a shunned house in the Merchant District for those fans of the original board game. The location was always a bit unstable, like you never really knew what you were going to find there, and that holds true here, now. We have to complete an objective on another scenario card to advance the act deck, so we’re exploring the house and spending clues to put other locations into play, etc. When the first card in the agenda deck advances, however, we end up with the Unnamable monster following us around on this journey around the house – it’s both Aloof and a Hunter, and cannot be defeated, so I was a bit perplexed at first as to how to handle it, but it seems the monster just follows us around and, unless we opt to engage us, it’ll just be there?
Spending clues as we go allows us to take actions on the location cards, stuff like “the investigators found a cracked mirror” or “the investigators studied a desecrated portrait”. There’s a balance here, because we don’t really know what benefit these actions are going to be as we take them, but the whole thing begins to feel like a mystery that we need to solve, and I genuinely felt like this is one of the few scenarios in the game when you actually feel like an investigator! As it turns out, some of these actions will lower the fight value or evade value of the Unnamable monster, which comes in handy later in the scenario.
That scenario objective I mentioned turns up on another location card that gets put into play once we’ve investigated the upstairs of the house. When we investigate this new location, everything changes and we go down and down into the bowels of the earth, where the objective is to get to the bottom of the stairway. However, there are peculiarities involved that will hinder our progress, such as not being able to move from a location unless we discard a card, or unless the Unnamable (which has followed us) has a minimum amount of damage on him, etc. There are treachery cards within the encounter deck which will change the order of the locations as well, to make it feel like we’re really on the brink of madness, but it all adds up to not being a straightforward race for the exit.
I have to say, I loved this scenario. Any time that we get to spend in Arkham is really exciting, I think, but when we’re actually exploring a board location like this, it feels extra special. It gave me strong Circle Undone vibes, mainly the exploration of the Witch House scenario, but also I was reminded of the penultimate scenario in that campaign, when we’re on the Unvisited Isle – it’s interesting to see the breadth of what those old board game locations actually involved, if you know what I mean?
We’re also once again firmly in Lovecraft territory, as this is almost a re-telling of The Statement of Randolph Carter, where he’s digging up graves with his pal for a laugh. I loved the fact that we re-used so many of the core set encounter sets as well, like the Rats and the Ghouls. Not many of those cards came up, it has to be said, but after the last scenario which didn’t use any of the core set encounters (I think it might be the first mythos pack where you only needed it and the corresponding deluxe expansion to play it), it was nice for those nostalgia beats.
I definitely think I should re-play the core set soon.
At any rate, I only had 6 experience points from this one, so it seems like being in the dream state is much more profitable! However, the scenario ends with the waking investigators entering The Underworld, so I’m very interested to see where stage three takes us!