Monday, 23 December 2013

ETC: We've Got Elder Sign


ELDER SIGN
UNSEEN FORCES EXPANSION

The following is from a game that took place Dec 21, 2013. The characters, randomly chosen:
-Carolyn Fern (Psychologist; Scott M)
-Jim Culver (Musician; Greg T)
-Wilson Richards (Handyman; Tom M)
-Rita Young (Athlete; Scott D)

Up against: Shudde M'ell
 (Power: World Cracking)

This game features an unexpected ending.

(Quick background about the game: Six adventures cards are dealt out. Museum Investigators attempt to fulfill those missions. Some successes give Elder Signs, which can then prevent the Ancient One from coming through - but the clock is always ticking, and Doom Tokens can awaken the Ancient if you take too long. You can also lose Sanity and Stamina - if those reach zero, the investigator dies. The missions are completed by rolling dice to complete the tasks on the cards.
The Dice: There are six green dice, each having: 1 investigate; 2 investigate; 3 investigate; terror; peril; scroll/lore. Bonus yellow die replaces Terror with 4 investigate. Bonus red die replaces 1 investigate with 4 investigate and Terror with Wildcard.)

Carolyn goes first, opening the "Another Dimension" portal. She then succeeds with that card, portal card gone, back to six cards. Jim goes next; he fails on attack. Which is when the insidiousness of Shudde M'ell becomes clear. The card is removed from circulation, placed under the Ancient One and NOT replaced, leaving only five cards. If all the Adventure cards go, it's an automatic loss. Oh good.

The clock ticks around to midnight a few times. The available cards gradually get whittled down as investigators fail. There are some successes, even some Elder Signs, but in the grand scheme of things, those will become irrelevant.

One of the cards, "Wicked Old Man", curses Carolyn when she does not succeed. (This gives her the black die, randomly canceling out a result.) A replacement card, "Ominous Portents", then had the effect that "At midnight, all investigators become cursed". With Carolyn already cursed, this would remove her from the game.

Fortunately, Rita won at taking that card out, with the side effect that she became blessed. (This gives her the white die, an extra as she rolls.) The very next round, Wilson becomes blessed by playing a spell card he'd obtained. Also somewhere in here, Jim defeated a monster which caused the clock to tick around an extra pulse - meaning that Rita now begins each round (instead of ending it).

Investigators (cursed Carolyn in particular) start playing it safe, visiting First Aid and Lost & Found on turns, rather than engaging in missions. Given the stalemate developing, an eye is cast towards Shudde M'ell. To defeat him requires rolling three terror. Jim ends up parking two terror dice on spell cards as he works on a mission, and it's thought they might be useful for the endgame - until it's realized that three terror are needed for EACH "doom token" (of which there would be ten). An additional annoyance is that few of the remaining cards dealt include Terror requirements, making it hard to "unpark" the dice.

Ultimately, there is ONLY ONE Adventure Card in circulation. This is often left to Wilson (who can control the yellow die) or Rita, who bought herself an ally - Anna Kaslow, who allows a reroll of up to two dice. Anna only goes away by losing sanity, while Rita's power ensures she doesn't lose sanity on any successes, helping to keep Anna around. (Yes, you can lose health and sanity by succeeding, in some cases.)


Rita defeats the latest Adventure card. Next card out: "It's Quiet". If this card is still active at the next midnight, it is removed from circulation and not replaced. Game Over! Fortunately, Jim has a spell card allowing for replacement of a card on the board - he uses it on this. (Since it's not a failed attack, Ancients cannot interfere.) Play continues. Another portal card comes into play: R'Lyeh. Who also gets the Wizard Whateley placed on him, which locks up the red die! That's the safer card to attack at the moment - defeat doesn't mean instant loss.

It's thought the portal card could be attempted multiple times. (This turns out to be a misinterpretation of Shudde's power - in the end, it won't matter.) Jim hops on to try even though Wilson, up next, has better chances. Jim fails, but Wilson also fails, and (right after midnight) Rita succeeds. (So though the card SHOULD have been mulched by Shudde the first time, all it did was grant three elder signs - which don't end up helping - and two cards to Rita from ally Ruby Standish - which she doesn't have occasion to use.)

The remaining Adventure card ("The Hall of the Dead") requires expending a health to defeat. Thought best to leave this for Rita, who doesn't expend health on success. But before she can act, it gets monsters summoned to it! Two at the end of the current clock tick, and the new midnight causes a doom token to go down, Shudde summoning a third. This ups the requirements.

The monsters include Wizard Whateley (again?!) who locks up the red die, and a Chthonian. Problem: The Hall needs 5 Investigate, the Chthonian needs 7, and there's at least 4 OTHER requirements, meaning it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to succeed in one shot - there aren't enough dice! But NOT succeeding in one turn means automatic loss of the game! Ergo the players can do NOTHING at this point, except tool around and heal up; the ONLY chance for victory comes in taking on the Ancient One himself. Yeah, right.


So the players trade in for items, and as it turns out, the very next tick of the clock adds two more doom tokens, which wakes up Shudde M'ell. On the bright side, curses and blessings are dispensed with, so Carolyn is free. On the down side, the red die was still pinned by Whateley and is now forever lost - hence Rita's red die cards are useless.

ENDGAME:
There are five cards under Shudde M'ell. (Should have been six, due to the R'Lyeh misunderstanding! Makes things more difficult!) One is turned over, then the players have their round, then another card is turned... should there be no cards left, the game is done. So no direct attack on investigators, it's a battle of attrition. As mentioned before, three Terror need to be rolled... for EVERY active doom token, meaning ten times.

Four players times five turns is twenty chances. So there needs to be a fifty percent success rate.

Two turns in; of the eight player attempts, five successes. In part by using spell cards to hold dice, clues to re-roll, and Jim's ability to park a die once per turn - even on success. This means 3 turns left (12 attempts) to get 7 hits, with fewer tricks available. Three turns in, still 5 success are needed.

I am the Terror that flaps in the... wait.
Rita declares her last spell card, and manages to park two Terror dice. When play moves on, Carolyn rolls a third. Down to 4. Jim just flat out rolls three Terror on six dice. BANG, down to 3. Wilson also manages to score three terror on a sequence of rolls. Four turns in - last set. Two more successes are needed.

It's pointed out that while the yellow die has no terror, it can be brought in to create an extra roll (discarding the yellow die upon failure). With this in mind and her rolls, Rita manages to pull off three Terror. Bringing us to Carolyn - who mops up by using her last clue to reroll non-terror dice! BANG. Ten success out of 18 roll attempts - with 2 to spare. Every player nailed their roll during each of their final attempts. The Ancient One is dead, ultimately defeated by the once cursed psychologist. You're welcome?

As I said in the beginning... this game features an unexpected ending.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Rita here. Well, her player. :) (Drew randomly, got her, which gets weird given details not available to any other reader.)

    It was a tense game. With the blessing, Rita's ability to shrug off being hurt when successful, and sheer luck, I managed to not kill us. When R'lyeh becomes the safer option, you know you are in trouble. Our best bet, which kept getting clearer as we lost adventures, was to take on Shudde M'ell. That's not how Elder Sign normally goes; Elder Gods are the type of being one tries not to disturb.

    However, it was fun, and the time passed without us noticing, and we worked together to defeat the terror. That's the true test, and the session passed with flying colours. :)

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