30 January 2015 | Elder Sign

Uncertainty Principles

Preview Events, Skills and the Rules of Gates of Arkham


Just where the supreme horror lay, I could not for my life tell.    –H.P. Lovecraft, The Thing on the Doorstep

Arkham has always been home to witches and cultists, and filled with uncanny places where most people fear to walk, let alone dwell. Yet in the Gates of Arkham expansion for Elder Sign, the city has fallen deeper into chaos. Gates are destabilizing time and space so that formerly safe locations are now the entrances to treacherous Other Worlds. Terrifying abominations such as Night Gaunts and Leng Spiders are pouring through these open gates and rampaging in the streets. Two secretive, underground organizations, the Sheldon Gang and the Order of the Silver Twilight, control the streets more than the Arkham police.

Today we will preview Event cards, which bring to life the constant uncertainty that reigns in Arkham. Some events are welcome and help you with the adventure ahead. Others are harmful and hinder your progress, if they don't make the situation in Arkham worse. Fortunately, Gates of Arkham also introduces skills, which grant investigators enduring abilities to help them navigate the this legendarily cursed city.

To guide you through the chaos and uncertainty, we have also uploaded the rules of Gates of Arkham. Download them (pdf, 7.2 MB) from the Elder Sign support page, or by clicking the thumbnail on the right.

Unpredictable Events

When you enter locations in Arkham you are often venturing into the unknown. Even when you know the adventure that lies ahead of you, however, an Event can introduce unforeseeable complications. If you’re at an adventure with an Event icon (pictured on the right), you must draw an Event card at the beginning of your resolution phase. Some Events only affect the adventure in play and the investigators engaged in it; others can affect the entire game.

Perhaps you choose to attend a play at Independence Square. Even before the curtain is lifted, you must draw an event: perhaps Unexpected Difficulties occur, lock one of the green dice and making it more difficult for you to succeed in this adventure. But those difficulties only last for the present resolution phase. You might decide to remain at the performance and try again to mitigate the madness this play unleashed in the audience. So, on your next resolution phase you draw another event and now strike a Devil’s Bargain – if you successfully resolve the adventure, you must add two doom tokens to the doom track, bringing the Ancient One closer to coming awake.

Not all Events are bad. If you find yourself trapped in the Forbidden Library of the Witch House, a Narrow Escape will allow you to avoid losing your sanity or advancing the doom track if you try and fail to retrieve the Elder Sign hidden among the dusty volumes. Since you cannot leave the Forbidden Library until you resolve the adventure, this Event card can also make it possible for you to survive multiple turns locked inside.

Survival Skills

If you do make it out of the Forbidden Library alive, you’ll be rewarded with a new skill. Unlike Spells and Common Items, which are usually discarded after a single use, skills can be kept. Any Medical Training gained from your research, for example, will benefit your team of investigators for the length of the game, or, in an emergency, you can exhaust it to save another investigator’s life. You may even stumble upon some good Luck that will enable you to avoid particularly bad Events.

But you’ll need more than skills to survive in the Streets of Arkham game mode. Gates of Arkham also introduces new Spells, such as the powerful Reach of the Mind. You’ll also come across Items that couldn’t have been found inside the museum walls. You might find a Roadster with a full tank of gas ready to speed you across the city to another location. Or a mysterious stranger may give you a Suitcase of Cash that you can use to purchase a useful Item, some sanity, or even membership in the Sheldon Gang.

Confront the Unknown

Nothing is certain in Arkham. A respected doctor might actually be a mad scientist seeking to resurrect the dead. Where the altar once stood in the South Church, there might now be a gateway to a mysterious ancient civilization. A stop at Velma’s Diner for coffee and pie might turn into a battle for your life against a rapacious monster, or a room in Ma’s Boarding House that has been haunted for decades may suddenly seem welcoming and free from horrors. But amid the chaos and uncertainty caused by the Ancient One’s awakening, you must fight for order. You must confront the unknown in Arkham to keep its horrors from taking over the world.

Gates of Arkham will be available soon.


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