|Elder Sign | Published 06 July 2011|
The nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh… was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults.
— H. P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu”
In the first and second previews for Elder Sign, we looked at the strategic decisions players must make while determining how best to send their investigators on Adventures within the museum. Now we’ll explore the greater potential benefits and the perils of Adventures that take your investigators beyond the museum… beyond the known world. These daring journeys to Other Worlds may allow your investigators to uncover the truth and eldritch knowledge you need to thwart the Ancient One’s progress. Or your investigator may be devoured by the denizens of those strange realms.
A Gate Appears
As your investigators explore the museum during their hunt for Elder Signs, their Adventures may lead them to stumble across a hidden gate to the beyond. Investigators only find these portals opened after succeeding at Adventures like The Graveyard that have a gate icon in the rewards.
When a player brings an Other World Adventure into play, it’s placed below the six museum Adventures. While it’s possible to have any number of Other World Adventures in play, they are not replaced once they have been fully investigated. Rather, they represent unique opportunities to travel to unthinkable and ancient realms like R’lyeh, full of terror and peril. They offer tremendous rewards for those investigators capable of acquiring the lore they need… and retaining their sanity during their investigations. But the price of failure can be fatal.
As you may have noticed, for those capable of plundering its riches, R’lyeh holds not only an ally, but an astonishing three Elder Signs. In fact, each Other World adventure holds a number of Elder Signs for those capable of discovering them, but investigators have both to find the gates and survive the harrowing experiences beyond. R’lyeh does not suffer fools, and those who fail to approach its shores with caution suffer the loss of two sanity and two stamina. If that’s not enough to see the investigator devoured, it’s certainly enough to cause concern.
You may have also noted that while you have only six green dice each turn, R’lyeh requires six different die results, leaving no margin for error.
Finally, there’s a good chance that any investigator exploring R’lyeh will encounter a monster! If a monster arrives at R’lyeh, it’s almost certain to devour any investigators who can’t find the means to escape.
Devouring Investigators Since 1926
Manton had two malignant wounds in the chest, and some less severe cuts or gougings in the back. I was not so seriously hurt, but was covered with welts and contusions of the most bewildering character, including the print of a split hoof.
–H.P. Lovecraft, “The Unnamable”
Monsters arrive in Elder Sign through a number of means. A monster arrives anytime an Ancient One’s Doom track reaches a monster symbol. Monsters can arrive as consequence for a failed investigation, or they may be lured in as one of the “rewards” for the successful completion of an Adventure. Additionally, some cards in the Mythos deck dictate that a monster appears.
When monsters appear, they are placed on any Adventure that has a task with some or all of its dice results marked by a white border. When a monster joins an Adventure, it replaces those tasks and adds its tasks to the Adventure’s.
An example of a monster task. The four investigation are replaced by the monster’s dice requirements. A partial monster task (like R’lyeh) retains all dice requirements not bordered by white.
An example of an empty monster task. An Adventure with an empty monster task is much easier to solve without a monster attached!
An example of a monster. The Star Spawn locks a green die and adds one peril and one lore result to its task! While an investigator suffers no direct consequence for failing to complete a monster task, he suffers whatever the consequences are for the Adventure to which the monster is attached.
If no Adventure in the museum has a monster task without a monster attached to it, then the monster is added to an Adventure as an additional task! This means that if you don’t complete Adventures before the museum fills with monsters, your chances begin to decrease exponentially.
Like Adventures, monsters each offer a number of Trophies for those investigators who manage to defeat them. This may help you purchase the first aid you need to restore your investigator’s health and sanity, or you may be able invest the trophies toward future successes. Still, there’s no doubt that the Adventures become more difficult when monsters add to their tasks. Your strategies will likely take drastic turns as monsters appear, forcing you to think on your feet as you reevaluate the risks and rewards of each Adventure.
Fortunately, unlike Adventures, monsters are defeated immediately when you complete their tasks, meaning that even if your investigator fails an Adventure (like R’lyeh above) and is devoured, he may have rid the world of the defeated monster long enough for some other investigator to rush in and explore the hidden recesses of the Other World for its Elder Signs.
Start shoring up your mental fortitude. Elder Sign is scheduled to arrive Q3 of 2011! You can check back here for updates while you wait.
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.
I am so ready for this game. Just show me where to sign please.. I will enter into any sort of hellish contract to get my hands on this ;-)
For a 'small' game this looks like it's got a lot of depth. Can't wait.
As usual the conditionals pile up like a spiral staircase.
Not quite as clear (or I am not as awake) as the other previews, but I'm still very excited about this one. I see many ten to fifteen minute long games in my future since I am teh sux at dice rolling usually.