Dark Waters and Darker Threats
The Ultima Thule Embarks in Elder Sign: Omens of the Deep
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of a black sea of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”
–H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
Another small wave breaks over the bow of The Ultima Thule as the beleaguered investigators gaze at the seemingly innocuous shores of another uncharted island. Silence reigns and tensions rise as the investigators row a much smaller craft towards the sandy beach and away from the relative safety of their ship. Maybe this time, everyone in the boat would return sane… or at least alive.
In Elder Sign: Omens of the Deep, a team of investigators aboard The Ultima Thule will need to think carefully about how they approach their search for the sunken city of R’lyeh. In this preview, we’ll take a closer look at how the first stage of the R’lyeh Rising mode allows the investigators to explore the Pacific Ocean while they gather items, spells, allies, and skills. We’ll also explore the ways that this intrepid team of investigators may make their way to the location of the lost city in the newest expansion for Elder Sign.
Driven or Dragged to the Gates of R’lyeh
After setting out on your adventure, your investigators have few clues beyond some scraps of whispered legend and the strange pull of the amulet. The Deep One Legion stirs in the inky brine, and your crew must take care as they gather equipment and seek out new clues regarding the whereabouts of the sunken city. In the first stage of the game, investigators must navigate the Dark Waters track by carefully managing the progress of the omen token, choose when to move to the next stage of the adventure, and solve the growing mysteries.
Doctor Phillips has sent the investigators on this journey in the hopes of locating the source of the nearly irresistible call with which the strange amulet pulses. One manner in which the investigators can chase down the source of this signal and approach R’lyeh is by completing Special and Pacific Adventure cards.
Special Adventure card are unique to each stage of the R’lyeh Rising mode, and completing these difficult adventures can move The Ultima Thule to the next step of your mission at your own pace. Completing these adventures could also win your party a mysterious fragment that, curiously, appears to fit nicely into the amulet…
These unique adventures are an efficient way to move your ship toward its goal, but there are many unseen threats hidden beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean. In the Omens of the Deep expansion, Pacific Adventure cards are played facedown, so you won’t know the details of the dangers you face until you commit to exploring each Pacific Adventure card. The back of each card indicates its difficulty and has an effect that is either triggered at midnight or activates upon an investigator moving to that location.
Successfully completing Pacific Adventure cards allows The Ultima Thule to draw closer and closer to whatever resides within the ruins. The Ultima Thule must carefully navigate the Dark Waters track in order to arrive at the sunken city on its own terms in the second stage of the game. The omen token will advance or retreat on the Dark Waters track depending upon your success or failure in the adventures your brave investigators undertake.
Advance the omen token all the way to the right and The Ultima Thule can bring you near R’lyeh intact and hale. If the omen token retreats too far to the left, a denizen of the Deep One Legion will attack, potentially causing irreparable damage to your ongoing investigation.
As mentioned in our last preview, the Deep One Legion can overrun your vessel if you do not take enough care to force back the slippery horde. When four or more Deep One Legion monsters are in play, The Ultima Thule entrance card must be flipped to Wreckage of The Ultima Thule. Losing your safe haven to these monsters severely restricts your options for spending trophies on recovery and equipment, and, in addition to that loss, your investigators will be drawn to R’lyeh against their will. With The Ultima Thule in disrepair, your team will be forced into the second stage of the R’lyeh Rising mode whether or not they are ready to approach the city.
The Pacific Adventure cards may yield more items for your crew, but completing the Special Adventure cards brings you to R’lyeh more quickly and could grant your investigators a fragment of the amulet. Speed may also be of the essence as the numbers of the Deep One Legion mount and threaten your ship. The waters surrounding R’lyeh are considerably more dangerous in the second stage, so keep the Dark Waters track moving towards calm waters or complete the Special Adventure cards to arrive at the ruins of R’lyeh on your own terms!
Gathering Greater Forces
As the journey to R’lyeh begins to take shape, we once again turn to the journal of Doctor Mason Phillips, the sponsor of this investigation, as he works to gather brave souls for this journey into the unknown:
“The closer that I come to the send-off of The Ultima Thule, the more eager I find myself to part with this amulet. It seems to be working as a veritable magnet for strange occurrences and moments of coincidence that strike me as too convenient for comfort. I am, in this instance, making particular reference to the two individuals that I have most recently hired for the expedition into the Pacific.
Hank Samson was referred to my office for reasons wholly unrelated to my expedition. Mr. Samson was referred to me by a friend at Miskatonic University, and had arrived at the campus in an effort to identify the remains of a particularly bizarre creature that had been mutilating and evidently feeding on his father’s cattle. Mr. Samson curtly informed me that he had dispatched the unidentified predator by way of a few well-placed rounds from his shotgun. Ordinarily, I would have deemed such immediate and violent an action hasty, but, after hearing a brief description of the creature’s stature and features, I am sure I would have fled in terror rather than taking aim.
Evidently, my research into the city of R’lyeh has made me known in some circles as a local expert on the unnatural, and my colleague sent Mr. Samson my way when he could not be of further assistance. Mr. Samson and I talked at some length, and though I could not identify his monstrosity, he took an immediate interest in my expedition. In his mind, the innate strangeness of both my quarry and his are linked somehow, though I do not understand his reasoning. I am glad to have a man of his fortitude joining the crew of The Ultima Thule. Sometimes one must act when danger strikes, and Hank Samson is nothing if not a man of action.
The second of my newest acquaintances was even more a thing of chance than the first. While eating lunch at a cafe adjacent to the theater district, a woman’s constant low muttering at a nearby table drew my attention. Imagine my surprise to find that I was seated near the great Miss Lola Hayes herself! I issued a stammering introduction as I sought to impress upon Miss Hayes just how much I had enjoyed her performances over the past few years. More than any other actress, Miss Hayes seemed to me capable of losing herself in the persona of her performance.
I was so struck by this stroke of luck that it took me a moment to realize that Miss Hayes seemed to be quite upset. She was terrifically pleasant when addressing me directly, but slipped back into distracted muttering if the course of the conversation wavered even for a moment. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to ask Miss Hayes if she were currently involved in any upcoming productions, and, as though she had been waiting for just such a cue, she launched into rather bizarre story. Miss Hayes had recently been hired to perform at a private event held by a reclusive local artist. This artist had written an original piece in a foreign tongue specifically for the occasion, and, since performing the strange work, Miss Hayes had been troubled by horrifying dreams of towering spires and burbled chanting. One line in particular had stuck with her, and this phrase now haunted her waking hours as well as her dreams. ‘R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn,’ she intoned, and my blood felt as if it had turned to ice. In short order, I had informed Miss Hayes of the impending expedition, and she has resolved to seek her answers aboard The Ultima Thule.”
-From the journal of Doctor Mason Phillips
In our next preview, we’ll take a look at the second stage of the Omens of the Deep expansion and stare directly into the horrors that greet our investigators as they arrive at R’lyeh and attempt to seal away the terrifying creatures that rise with the dark city. And make sure to pre-order Elder Sign: Omens of the Deep at your local retailer today!