The day was pleasant, but even in the brightest sunlight a kind of quiet dread and portent seemed to hover about the strangely domed hills and the deep, shadowy ravines of the stricken region. Now and then on some mountain top a gaunt circle of stones could be glimpsed against the sky. [...] The trail up and down Sentinel Hill seemed to Armitage of almost cataclysmic significance, and he looked long at the sinister altar-like stone on the summit.
– H.P. Lovecraft, The Dunwich Horror
The ghastly and ghoulish presences that haunt the hills outside the mansion bring their powers to the aid of the keeper in Call of the Wild , the upcoming expansion for Mansions of Madness ! In our last preview , we looked at some of the perils and pitfalls that will plague investigators in the terrifying terrain of the forests and swamps outside the mansion. Today we look at how the role of the keeper has changed in Call of the Wild .
A Bigger Bag of Tricks
Veteran players of Mansions of Madness will have undoubtedly become familiar with some of the keeper’s tricks. Each scenario has a set of Keeper Action Cards that the uses, and, in the base game of Mansions of Madness , these cards are laid out in front of the keeper’s play area. All players can see what kinds of malevolent mayhem the keeper is able to level at the investigators, and, if the keeper is up against seasoned investigators, the keeper’s opponents may have a strategy in mind for evading even his most potent powers.
Taking his schemes out of the mansion has allowed the keeper to make some changes from his typical tactics. In Call of the Wild , the keeper is able to make his moves with a greater degree of sinister secrecy. All Keeper Action Cards are kept secret until they are played. The investigators must press on toward their goal, never knowing what fresh horror may be unleashed upon them by the vicious keeper. In addition to playing a hidden hand, the keeper is also given an array of Keeper Action Cards to choose from for each scenario. A list of Keeper Action Card options are presented to the keeper, and he can choose one of the pre-designed hands of cards, or carefully craft his own hand to best suit his own sinister style. A hidden hand of cards and multiple options for Keeper Action Cards means that even the most seasoned investigator won’t be able to anticipate every combination, and the keeper will always have more tricks up his sleeve as he brings his plans to fruition.
Hidden Action cards aren’t the only new weapon at the keeper’s disposal. The keeper has sought out ghastly new power, and can now inflict a “curse” on the investigators. Each time an investigator is cursed the keeper gives that player a curse token, and the keeper can choose to discard that token to force that player to reroll any skill check. A cursed investigator may narrowly escape injury only to have their good fortune retested by the keeper calling a curse into play.
With curses and the advantage of surprise on his side, the keeper is an even bigger threat to the sanity and safety of the investigators and all that they hold dear.
Arcane Rites and Rituals
The keeper may have more surprises on hand for the investigators, but the great outdoors contains challenges for the keeper too. Similar to the puzzles that investigator players often face, in some scenarios, the keeper must complete a unique ritual puzzle in order to call forth the power he seeks. Access to such maddeningly powerful forces does not come easily to mere mortals, and the keeper must work hard in order tap into those eldritch energies.
The keeper uses a specific Keeper Action Card to attempt the ritual puzzle, and the pieces of the puzzle are made up of a series of ghastly and immensely powerful Ritual Items. The keeper must collect certain ritual items in order to solve his puzzle and correctly complete his ritual if he has any hope of bringing his mad plans to fruition. The ritual has a greater chance of success if the keeper has more people participating in the ghoulish rites, and he gains puzzle actions depending on how many humanoid creatures he has at the ritual site. The more unholy voices calling out to the beyond, the better, as far as the keeper is concerned!
In the scenarios that feature the ritual, the investigators can work to keep the Ritual Items out of the keeper’s hands in order to slow down his horrific plans. Investigators can try to foil the keeper’s plans by burying the Ritual Items in some scenarios, or simply by killing monsters so that the keeper can’t gather the pieces of his grotesque rite and won’t have as many creatures at the ritual site.
The keeper has always been a formidable foe, and the additions to his arcane arsenal in Call of the Wild have only made him more of a force to be reckoned with. There is, however, still a small sliver of hope for the investigators and the rest of this world. In our next preview, we’ll look more closely at the characters that will help in your struggle against the keeper and his creatures in Call of the Wild !
Mansions of Madness is a macabre game of horror, insanity, and mystery for two to five players. Based on the beloved fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, Mansions of Madness tells a story in which one player takes on the role of the keeper, a malevolent force working to complete a sinister plot, and all other players take on the roles of investigators, the unlikely heroes who gather to oppose him.