That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
-H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
October has begun, and Halloween is quickly approaching. As the leaves of autumn start to fall and the days grow shorter, you can celebrate the month of Halloween with a Fantasy Flight game set H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos!
Throughout the month of October, we’ll highlight some of these supernatural games, offering overviews for players new to the games. Today, we’ll take a look at the terror and insanity breaking out of Miskatonic University Museum in Elder Sign .
A Perilous Museum
Miskatonic University has long been the source of strange events and happenings, but at the beginning of each game of Elder Sign , you have discovered that an Ancient One is close to entering our world. Only one thing can keep the Ancient One at bay – the mystical symbol known as the Elder Sign. In order to save the world, you and your friends must take on the roles of intrepid investigators and collect enough Elder Signs to forestall the destruction of the world in this cooperative game for one to eight players.
Six Adventure cards make up the suspicious or dangerous exhibits that you must explore while within the museum. Each Adventure card is composed of a number of tasks that must be successfully completed for you to receive the rewards listed on the card. Each turn, you must roll custom dice, attempting to obtain the necessary results to complete all tasks on the Adventure card and gain the rewards, such as items, spells, and the all-important Elder Signs.
You must be wary though, even when victory is nearly in your grasp! If you fail to complete a task with every roll, your number of dice for the next roll is diminished. If you cannot complete an Adventure card, you must suffer the hideous consequences of your failure, such as losing stamina or sanity, or even adding a doom token to the Ancient One’s doom track, bringing it closer to awakening.
Time Is Running Out
If you think you’ll be able to complete tasks with ease, you may want to think again. In addition to the penalties for failure described on each Adventure card, new obstacles for the investigators arise with every turn. As the Ancient One draws closer to Earth, horrid monsters and noxious creatures will infiltrate the museum, situating themselves on Adventure cards. In order to continue the search for Elder Signs, you must face these inhuman beasts in battle and defeat them by successfully rolling the results needed to destroy the monster, in addition to completing every task on the Adventure card.
Some Adventure cards require anybody attempting them to complete the tasks in a certain order, depriving you of the luxury of choosing where you want to commit your dice results. Still other Adventure cards open up gates to new worlds when they are completed. By traveling to a high-risk, high-reward Other World card, your investigators can risk everything and face traumatic hardships to obtain powerful benefits for your team.
Time will never be your ally as you struggle to collect the Elder Signs you need to seal the Ancient One in its own dimension. After every turn, the clock advances, and when it strikes midnight, the Ancient One’s power is at its zenith. Whenever the clock strikes midnight, you must draw a Mythos card, and resolve its terrifying effects, whether they add doom tokens, unleash monsters, or edge you and your fellow investigators closer to insanity and death by leeching away your sanity and stamina.
A Glimmer in the Night
Fortunately, all is not lost as you work to claim Elder Signs for the good of mankind. Each investigator has a special ability that can be harnessed, ranging from restoring health and sanity to rerolling dice that show an unfavorable result. As you continue to pursue the Elder Signs, you will find a host of items that can help you along the way. Common Items and Unique Items can add powerful dice to your dice pool during Adventures. Potent Spell cards can hold dice from one Adventure to another, or defeat monsters without rolling dice. By using these cards wisely, you can obtain the tools you need to defeat cosmic evil and stop the Ancient One from rising.
If you can use your skills and the dice you roll to complete Adventure cards and collect your quota of Elder Signs, the world is saved as the coming of the Ancient One is averted. If the Ancient One’s doom track becomes filled with doom tokens, the Ancient One breaks forth onto the world, and the investigators must make one last-ditch effort to defeat the supernatural being that has been loosed upon the world. Each investigator must complete the Ancient One’s battle task as many times as he can, before the Ancient One strikes, battering the investigators’ defenses. With luck and the proper gear, a team of investigators may successfully banish the Ancient One, but if they fail, they and the world will be undoubtedly devoured.
The Meddling of Unseen Forces
The madness of Elder Sign grows even deeper when combined with the Unseen Forces expansion. This expansion adds new Ancient Ones and investigators, as well as new Adventure cards and Other World cards with deadly new effects for you and other investigators to face. The spiritual realm begins to seep into Miskatonic University by allowing investigators to become blessed or cursed. If an investigator is blessed, an additional die is added to an investigator’s dice pool each turn. Becoming cursed, however, can force you to discard additional dice, potentially ruining your hopes of completing an Adventure card.
New challenges arise for your team of investigators with the advent of Mythos cards that force the investigators to choose their fate, and Adventure cards that force you to pay a price just to enter and attempt the perils that wait within. Only time will tell if your noble quest can withstand the schemes of the Unseen Forces conspiring against you.
Play an Arkham Game this October
Celebrate Halloween with a month of games set in H.P. Lovecraft’s eerie universe. Whether you hope to stay safe in the Miskatonic University Museum in Elder Sign , or whether you walk the streets of Arkham, you’ll never know what’s creeping up behind you next. Venture into the darkness of the Mansions of Madness or tap the power of the Ancient Ones in Call of Cthulhu . Keep checking back this month for highlights of other games set in the Cthulhu mythos, and pre-register for Arkham Nights 2013 today!
Elder Sign is a fast-paced, cooperative dice game of supernatural intrigue for one to eight players by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson, the designers of Arkham Horror.