Spirits and the Occult
A Preview of The Path to Carcosa for Arkham Horror: The Card Game
"I received a still greater shock in the form of a definite sound—the first which had broken the utter silence of these tomb-like depths. It was a deep, low moaning, as of a distant throng of condemned spirits, and came from the direction in which I was staring."
–H.P. Lovecraft, The Nameless City
Although your adventures in Arkham Horror: The Card Game mostly take place amid the quiet streets, rustic buildings, and forested hillsides in and around the sleepy New England town of Arkham, Massachusetts, they often lead you into contact with things—forces, entities, spirits, and the unfathomable Ancient Ones—that lie just beyond the veils of our earthly realm.
Accordingly, you'll find that a number of the different investigators you can play already have a history of experiences with these otherworldly beings. In fact, one of our earlier previews of The Path to Carcosa already hinted at a measure of the trauma these beings have inflicted upon the soldier Mark Harrigan (The Path to Carcosa, 1). But some of the game's investigators are more attuned to these otherworldly beings than others… and some of them have even explored these other realms. Some of these investigators, like Akachi Onyele (The Path to Carcosa, 4), even have allies among the extradimensional residents of these strange realities.
Following a Dangerous Path
Akachi first made her contact with her spirit allies as a young girl in Nigeria, and her relationship with the spirits set her apart from everyone around her. She would chatter away at thin air and seclude herself from other children, which led her village to believe she was mad.
Her village Dibia was the first to see her true potential. He believed Akachi was marked by the spirits for greatness, and he taught her how to commune with them to her advantage. Under his tutelage, Akachi learned how to communicate with the Alusi and the good Mmuo, while avoiding the bad Mmuo and the worse things that dwell in the darkness between worlds. As Akachi grew more proficient, the Dibia taught her ways she could confront the evil things when it became necessary to protect others.
Now, as Akachi travels to Arkham to meet her destiny head on, guided by the spirits to seek out unnatural troubles—such as those accompanying Arkham's performance of The King in Yellow—her talents and training give her the power to help others, but they also lead her down a dangerous path. The spirit worlds can be treacherous, and the powers—the "magic"—that Akachi pulls from the realms has the potential to corrupt and betray those who hope to use it to their advantage.
Of course, The Path to Carcosa reflects these dangers in the way it presents Akachi Onyele's investigator card and her deckbuilding requirements . She is both able to make tremendous use of her connection to the spirits and magic, but she is bound to them—and forced to rely upon them—in ways that will leave you fearful of your failed Spells and your magic's other betrayals.
Playing as Akachi Onyele
There are a number of dangers inherent in the use of Spells and magic in Arkham Horror: The Card Game. One of them is the risk of the damage you might suffer if you reveal one of the different symbols from the chaos bag, rather than a straight numeric modifier. Spells like Blinding Light (Core Set, 66) and Rite of Seeking (The Dunwich Legacy, 28) penalize you actions whenever they devolve into chaos, and other Spells, such as Shrivelling (Core Set, 60), can backlash when you fail to control them.
This pattern continues in The Path to Carcosa with Spells like Alchemical Transmutation (The Path to Carcosa, 32) and Astral Travel (The Path to Carcosa, 34). These Spells may grant you powerful rewards, but they can also have unintended consequences.
And Akachi's deckbuilding requirements pretty much guarantee you'll live on this razor's edge because they limit you to Mystic cards—which are already mostly Spells and similar events—as well as level 0–5 Neutral cards, Occult cards at level 0, and cards with "charges (uses)" level 0–4. And while these deckbuilding restrictions are notably distinct from those of other investigators, they also steer you back to Spells. There are, at this point, very few of these cards outside of the Mystic class and the game's Spells.
But The Path to Carcosa extends the range of these cards a bit further, introducing a non-Mystic Occult card in the form of Archaic Glyphs (The Path to Carcosa, 25), a mysterious Tome that may or may not be worth including in your Akachi deck.
As a resource card, Archaic Glyphs is woefully inefficient. It can grant you five resources, but only after you draw it, spend an action to play it, and spend three separate actions to discard at least three different cards with Intellect symbols on them. Given that these cards are likely more valuable for their effects, or even used to boost Akachi's meager Intellect value of "2," discarding three of them for five resources is not likely a good trade.
However, as with Strange Solution (The Dunwich Legacy, 21), the real payoff of Archaic Glyphs is a mystery. Once you satisfy its requirements, you don't just gain five resources, you record in your Campaign Log that "you have translated the glyphs." Whatever that means.
Then, you take into account that Akachi Onyele's deckbuilding restrictions are combined with an ability that grants her extra uses from each card with "uses (charges)," and you'll find yourself even more forcefully guided—or thrust—toward a destiny full of Spells and magic.
Here, Akachi's five Willpower makes her exceptionally adept at putting her Spells to use, since the most powerful of them typically test Willpower. But most Spells are expensive. They're taxing not only in the sense that they can take a toll upon your mind and body, but also in the sense that they're hard and costly to master. As an example, Rite of Seeking may allow Akachi to investigate locations with her five Willpower instead of her two Intellect, but it costs four resources to play and typically yields only three charges.
Akachi's ability can make the card significantly more efficient, but her spirit allies can help, too. If you draw Uncage the Soul (The Path to Carcosa, 33) ahead of one of your Spells, you can play it at a hefty discount, and her spirit allies, via the abilities of Spirit-Seeker (The Path to Carcosa, 14)—can even enable Akachi to return the asset to your hand or convert any remaining charges to resources.
Combined with assets like Scrying (Core Set, 61) and Clarity of Mind (The Dunwich Legacy, 30), Spirit-Seeker can mitigate many of the economic concerns Akachi Onyele might otherwise face in her pursuit of magic, but she'll still need to find the best ways to generate card draw and avoid the consequences of her ill-fated chaos token reveals.
No Two Investigators Are the Same
No two of the investigators from the Arkham Horror Files universe are the same. It's the diversity, detail, and color they bring to the setting that brings it to life—as much as the nature of the otherworldly threats they face. And The Path to Carcosa continues to build upon the setting's richness by presenting its investigators with deckbuilding requirements, strengths, and personalities every bit as rich and unique as those of Akachi Onyele.
Will you use this opportunity to speak with spirits and dabble with the dark arts? Share your Akachi Onyele deckbuilds on our community forums. Then pre-order your copy of The Path to Carcosa (AHC11) from your local retailer today!