|Contact with Unknown Spheres and Powers
A Preview of Terror in Venice for Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game
|Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 29 July 2013|
“The one test of the really weird is simply this—whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim.”
–H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature
In the fictional world of Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, truth is powerful, but also terrifying. The earth is but a speck of dust in the cosmos. Humans and human interests aren’t the center of the universe; in fact, the ripples that our actions transmit throughout the galaxy quickly dissipate to nothing. While we feast and dance and revel in the comforts of our limited existences, there are dark and dangerous powers beyond our imagination that lurk in the cold vastness of space. There are unfathomable entities that reside near us, alongside us, in alternate dimensions that flutter against our own but that are separated by just the thinnest veils of reality.
While those veils remain firmly in place, we eat and sleep and live in a state of blissful ignorance, but there are ways that madmen can pull back those veils. They can expose us to the horrifying truth that we are not alone. They can admit powers into our world that cannot be controlled. They can lead us to ruin.
In Terror in Venice, the game’s fifth deluxe expansion, two ancient Relics lie at the heart of a web of mysteries and conspiracies that spreads throughout Venice’s streets and canals and that has snared all eight factions in its sticky filaments. What are these powerful Relics, and why does everyone want them? It is likely that those involved in the search expect the Relics will grant them the power to peer beyond the veils of our reality into those that surround us.
The Power of Death
The first of these powerful items is The Plague Stone (Terror in Venice, 32), a small piece of marble carved into a skull. Believed to have been buried in a mass grave on the island of Lazzaretto Vecchio, The Plague Stone holds the power of death itself and can wipe out entire cities in an instant. Naturally, such terrifying power makes The Plague Stone a highly coveted Relic, and since early forays to Lazzaretto Vecchio have failed to uncover it, agents of the game’s eight factions have broadened their search to include neighboring Venice.
Notably, The Plague Stone is one of only a handful of cards that enable universal destruction. The Ancient One Azathoth (Secrets of Arkham, 46) and the neutral support card, Dimensional Rift (Secrets of Arkham, 50), can both wipe out all characters in play, but they also take out all support cards, thereby fully clearing the board. Unlike them, The Plague Stone leaves support cards intact, meaning it may open some room for support-heavy strategies built around such cards as Guardian Pillar (Search for the Silver Key, 78).
The Plague Stone also stands among the limited number of cards in the game that can destroy Ancient Ones. While this fact may concern some of the game’s greatest powers, it is welcome news to the followers of Cthulhu and Shub-Niggurath, who can best use such power to their advantage. The destruction that The Plague Stone brings may permit a Dreamlands Fanatic (In the Dread of Night, 47) to make the leap from the Dreamlands to our reality, and few forces can respawn more rapidly than the thousand dark young of Shub-Niggurath. In fact, its not beyond a follower of the Black Goat of the Woods to concoct his own Untimely Burial (Terror in Venice, 38) just to join his brethren in a Dark Rebirth (Terror in Venice, 37). In decks that have such means to bounce back from destruction, The Plague Stone lends itself to powerful, timely board control.
Knowledge of the Ancients
Though it seems a product of the darkest and coldest edges of the galaxy, The Plague Stone has a lighter twin, The Supernal Prism (Terror in Venice, 31), which invests its owner with the knowledge of the ancients.
What is this knowledge? It is knowledge to build, knowledge to destroy, knowledge of the future, and the frightening true knowledge of the Ancient Ones and their unearthly agendas. Used by those agents dedicated to the preservation of humanity, The Supernal Prism offers a powerful counter to The Plague Stone. Used by those who dedicate themselves to the Elder Ones, it can only hasten the death and destruction those unimaginable horrors may someday unleash.
Knowledge that reaches beyond the realm of mortal minds typically falls under the purview of Yog-Sothoth, the All-in-One, and no one can truly say whether or not its foul intelligence may have been involved in the artifact’s origin. What we can discern is that The Supernal Prism certainly lends itself nicely to the cause of Yog-Sothoth’s followers. No faction makes better use of its discard pile than Yog-Sothoth, and no single group of characters makes better use of a discard pile than the Yithians that entered the game in The Key and the Gate. In a Yithian deck, the cards that The Supernal Prism’s action forces you to discard may be every bit as valuable to your future schemes as those that you draw.
Of course, Yog-Sothoth isn’t the only faction with a knack for knowledge and card draw. The daring Students and Faculty of Miskatonic University often disappear during their expeditions, succumbing to the mind-numbing terrors or mortal perils of their investigations, and the University is in constant need of new recruits. The guidance of The Supernal Prism can help them find the brightest and most inquisitive minds available to replace those were lost. Accordingly, the University has tried to establish contact with every possible Museum Curator (The Wailer Below, 70) in order to identify the item’s location.
In fact the whole University is so abuzz with rumors of The Supernal Prism and its potential that the football coach, Norm Grzbowski (Ancient Horrors, 5), has begun to dream of using the Relic to scout enough players to build a full roster with talent like that provided by the Hapless Graduate Student (The Horror Beneath the Surface, 23), Crazy Eddie (Conspiracies of Chaos, 56), and Beings of Ib (Twilight Horror, 7).
Rattle the Universe
Individually, both The Plague Stone and The Supernal Prism possess earth-shattering powers, but as we know, the earth is but a speck in the grander scheme. Still, even the greatest of powers may tremble should any faction gain control of both Relics. Together, they offer their wielder the power to destroy entire continents and raise new ones in their stead.
The fact that The Supernal Prism only offers card draw to each player who discarded a hand of at least one card means that any player who can pair these effects together may be able to harness both the board control and card advantage that they offer toward his ultimate success at the game’s stories. This may prove particularly effective for Syndicate and Hastur strategies that discard cards from their opponents’ hands with such effects as those of The Underground Conspiracy (Conspiracies of Chaos, 46) and Swooping Byakhee (The Spoken Covenant, 48).
The Hunt Begins
Each faction wishes to possess these stones, but none know where they have disappeared. Agents, both human and inhuman, roam the city in search of the two Relics. Agents of the Silver Twilight seek to harness its power in service of their ambitions for global dominion. Mad cultists and servitors of the Elder Ones seek to unleash death and destruction to honor those they worship. Even the mage known as Magnus is said to have involved himself, manipulating people from all sides in order to lead him to the artifacts, though none can say why.
Will these forsaken Relics be discovered? Which faction will discover them? Will they be used to rule the world? Will they herald the world’s destruction?
The hunt for these artifacts has begun. Though the outcome of this search remains uncertain even to the followers of Yog-Sothoth, its impact has made itself felt throughout the lives of all those who explore such occult matters. The search continues day and night. Tourists claim to have seen shadow figures beneath the murky, twilit waters of Venice’s canals. The colorful celebrations of Carnevale have been spotted by abrupt acts of violence and strange disappearances.
Soon, Venice will erupt. Terror in Venice is coming…
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.