A Call of Cthulhu Card of the Week by guest writer Marius Hartland
|Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 21 January 2011|
Only a very rare affliction, of course, could bring about such vast and radical anatomical changes in a single individual after maturity – changes invoking osseous factors as basic as the shape of the skull - but then, even this aspect was no more baffling and unheard-of than the visible features of the malady as a whole.
- H.P. Lovecraft, The Shadow over Innsmouth
“Vaughn has been a problem”, Victoria (Core Set, F82) mused. “But this is far worse than I expected.” She took a sip of her wine. To muse. Victoria does that a lot. It is her defining quality, some would say. To be a muse. To inspires greatness. Or madness. To be honest, there doesn’t seem much of a difference, especially when it comes to art. Still, now she feels a weigth on her shoulders. Vaughn used her for his own schemes. And suddenly Arkham has changed, remolded by forces even greater than even her Yellow King. Vaughn must be behind it. And with the changes, her control over Arkhams high society was slowly waning.
It just isn’t this Silver Twilight thing either. No, those saps don't even understand true the poetry of occultism. It is something more than that. “Vaughn understood art. Until he sold out. Until he sold me out. But this is still my town!”
If any faction took a hit with the most recent errata, it must be Hastur. As a faction that is envisioned as one that brings progress slowly to a halt through insanity and control, it rarely had an easy time in the fast-paced Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game. Falter for one moment, and the sky comes crashing down, before you have the chance to stabilize. In the last year, this faction took a less reactive stance and suddenly dominated. Whether that was a good or bad thing is open for debate, but the faction was holding itself back, overshadowing it's own identity, and generally sending the game in directions it really didn't want to go on the long term.
Still, there is access to The Seventy Steps (In Memory of Day, F30) so the faction has a solid foundation for slowing the progress of others and stealthily spreading the madness. The answer, as allways, is more madness. And science.
During the Yuggoth Contract cycle, Hastur got hold of a new way to bring disorder: Lunatics that can be driven insane to get some kind of effect out of them. They can be activated despite any types of stairs being on the table, as their trigger works even while they are exhausted. Better still, Arkham Asylum (Core Set, F146) assures that they hardly notice being exhausted at all.
But what self-respecting cult puts its faith in science, or psychology? Science is so limiting, after all. Research and evidence are such a waste of time when you can go directly into a more practical, applied approach. And when it comes to minds, who better to put the 'mental' in 'experimental' than a Demented Phrenologist (The Twilight Beckons, F7.) Free trepannings for everyone! He's a scientist, it says so on his card!
Judging by the size and shape of their skulls, these upstanding men don't need to be holed up in some asylum. They are free to go. And so, the cult of Hastur ensures that a healthy amount of more eccentric, but artistically minded citizens are released on the streets of Arkham. Combining the regular healthcare of the Asylum with the more irregular methods of the phrenologist results in a stacked cost reduction, putting even the higher priced Hastur (The Spoken Covenant, F46) within reach.
With the steady increasing number of lunatics, it's getting harder to rely on your refresh phase or one support card to keep everything up and running. So, why not branch out a little? Dr. Carson (The Spawn of the Sleeper, F3) and his infamous treatment (Core Set, F39) give you better consistency and sometimes even offer some nice tricks after some voluntairy insanity, like two ready characters each with two combat icons out of nowhere. It shouldn't take a Mad Genius (Core Set, F27) to see where all this is going, even though he makes a good target for your Dangerous Inmate (Screams from Within, F86.) And if all fails, a Brain Transplant (The Path to Y'ha-nthlei, F111) can be quite a therapeutic experience.
The other upside from insanity is that it allows lunatics to escape particularly hairy story encounters at will, so you can poke at stories with a greatly reduced risk of long-term consequences. This is taking “psychological warfare” to a whole new level.
Fret not, miss Glasser. Even without those birds or the shaky alliance with Agency and their maddening interrogation methods, there is still some spirit left in you. Extra cost reduction never hurts, and there are still plenty of opportunities to weave some artful, possibly degenerate combos and unorthodox gambits. Just as Vaughn had planned.
Based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and his literary circle, Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game takes two players deep into the Cthulhu Mythos where investigators clash with the Ancient Ones and Elder Gods for the fate of the world. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Asylum Pack expansions to the core game.