Halloween is right around the corner, and just beyond it is Arkham Nights 2013 ! The days are growing shorter and colder, which means now is the perfect time to experience new levels of horror by playing one of FFG’s games set in the universe of H.P. Lovecraft.

In our last introduction to a game of Lovecraftian horror, we examined the terrifying adventures that await investigators among the exhibits of Miskatonic University Museum in Elder Sign . The threat of the Ancient Ones doesn’t stop outside of the museum, however. This time, we’ll look at the fear waiting for you and your friends inside the Mansions of Madness .

Enter a World of Mystery

Mansions of Madness is a board game of terror, clues, and mystery for two to five players. In every game, all but one of the players take on the roles of the noble investigators, sent to uncover the mystery behind some weird and otherworldly occurrences. The final player will become the keeper of the building, controlling all monsters and seeking to foil the investigators at every turn.

During the setup of each game, the keeper makes several decisions about the story, which influence which clues the investigators may find, as well as the objective that both sides strive to achieve. Although the keeper has full knowledge of what his objective is, the investigators do not. They must search the building relentlessly, uncovering clues and facing down whatever horrors may stand in their way, to uncover the truth and defeat the dastardly plans of the keeper.

Investigate Hidden Secrets

When you and your fellow investigators first enter the building, you have a single clue to start you on your search. In order to discover your objective, you will need to travel to the end of the trail of clues, while staying on your toes, ready to defeat monsters and other agents of evil.

Every turn, you may move twice and perform one action. An action could be to move again, explore a room, or battle a gruesome monster. As you begin to explore the mansion, new objects and obstacles will quickly confront you. The keeper begins every game by placing cards in rooms around the building for you to discover. Some of these cards may be important items, or even vital clues, whereas others may prove to be disastrous obstacles or barriers.

Whenever you elect to explore a room, the cards in the room are revealed, one at a time. Sometimes, locks may prevent you from entering, and you must find the appropriate key or password to bypass the lock. Once within, a host of challenges may face you before you can get to the clues and items in the room. You may be forced to solve a devious puzzle, whether you’re rewiring circuits to restore light to a room, or piecing together arcane runes to unlock an ancient chest.

Once you have successfully navigated the hazards that await, you may finish exploring the room and reap the hard-earned rewards of your labor. Once all the clues have been found, the objective card is revealed, and the investigators discover what they must do to win the game as well as learning the details of keeper’s objective. Finding the clues hidden in rooms around the mansion might be easy if you were alone, but in Mansions of Madness , there’s always someone watching.

Keeping Watch

The keeper in a game of Mansions of Madness opposes the heroic investigators, seeking to fulfill his objective by bringing monsters, insanity, betrayal, and death into the game. On every turn, the keeper receives a number of threat tokens equal to the number of investigators playing the game. He may then use this threat to summon monsters, utilize tricks and traps, and transform the mansion into a place of haunting terror for the investigators.

The monsters at the keeper command are the most visible servants of his will. Ranging from zombies, witches, and maniacs, to horrific cthonians, shoggoths, and Hounds of Tindalos, these creatures will pursue the investigators at every turn. The mere presence of such monstrosities can drive an investigator towards madness, and every time a monster enters a room, all the investigators within must successfully pass a horror test, or slip closer to insanity.

Monsters can also attack physically, forcing the investigators to defend themselves with any means at their disposal, whether by fighting back, hiding, or barricading the doors and hoping for the best. Even when monsters are defeated, the keeper’s plans are always advancing, and the investigators will have to do their utmost to stop evil from awakening.

The keeper has a host of other actions at his disposal as well. Each story specifies a number of Keeper Action cards that determine how the keeper will be able to hinder the investigators on his turn. In addition to monsters, the keeper draws Mythos and Trauma cards, which he can play to punish the investigators for every step they take. Mythos cards represent unexpected occurrences that can hinder the investigators, whereas Trauma cards add insult to injury by inflicting a lasting condition on an investigator when they take damage or horror. Your investigator may break a leg, or be consumed with a deadly panic.

After the keeper has finished his turn, he places a time token on the event card deck. When the number of time tokens equals the number shown on the uppermost card, a new event is revealed, accelerating the story to its dramatic conclusion!

Bring New Horrors to the Mansion

To bring your adventures in haunted mansions to new levels of paranormal fear, Mansions of Madness features a wide variety of expansions that invite you to bring your investigators on new adventures against the darkness. You will face the madness of unknowable science in Forbidden Alchemy as you struggle against new monsters, new alchemy puzzles, and other obstacles. Call of the Wild invites you to journey outside the mansion, but unfortunately, you’ll be no safer outside. A host of new stories put your strength and intelligence to the test as you work to defeat the machinations of the keeper. Finally, a host of Print on Demand story expansions each include a completely new story for Mansions of Madness , offering you the chance to journey to new locales and test your will against unnatural evils.

Play an Arkham Game this October

You can celebrate Halloween this month with games set in H.P. Lovecraft’s eerie universe. Whether you challenge evil in Arkham and the Miskatonic University Museum or travel to exotic regions in Elder Sign: Omens and Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game , you’ll never know what challenges you might face along the way. Keep checking back for highlights of other games set in the Cthulhu mythos, and remember to pre-register for Arkham Nights 2013 !

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.

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