Beyond the Veil – At Death’s Doorstep
This article will look at an individual scenario of Arkham Horror: The Card Game. These will be my impressions after playing through the scenario and will be focusing on the mechanics and how those reinforce the story elements of a given scenario. These articles will contain extensive spoilers and assume a familiarity with the terms and mechanics of the game. Please do not read on if you have not played the scenario in the title yet.
We return to the beginning in the second full scenario of the Circle Undone: At Death’s Doorstep. Our investigators have found their way out of the woods and are now firmly on the path of a good old missing persons case. On the previous Sunday, guests and house staff had disappeared from a gala at the home of Mr. Meiger and you are now invited to this very same place for another charity event. Put on your best magnifying glass, things are going to get gumshoey.
On arrival at the party everything seems as you would expect. The members of the lodge greet you, supply drinks, make you feel at ease, but you know that something is up. The layout of the scenario is just the same as in the prologue, meaning you have some knowledge of where things are, even if that is slightly out of character. I like this as to me it represents an investigative instinct, the nose for clues that any good PI needs.
The Act and Agenda set out what is likely to happen. The Silver Twilight lodge members cannot be removed in any meaningful way and the monsters are going to stack up on the side. The Act steers us to where the prelude characters went missing, clues being put in these locations during setup depending on the outcome of that scenario. Ominously we don’t know how to advance the act deck right from the off so we have to sneak around and find what we are looking for.
Taking our time to gather the remaining evidence that was left behind we make our way around the mansion, looking into all the rooms and finding that although most of them do not have clues, there are the occasional pockets of information. On top of that many of the rooms have abilities on them that allow us to schmooze for information. Of course how we did in the prelude will guide you to certain areas of the mansion as we put clues on some of the locations during setup.
As we carry out our investigations the Agenda ticks over and we start to get an inkling of what is coming as Josef Meiger turns up, or not, depending on how well we did.
We get some information in the prelude and record whose trail we are on as we gather evidence of what happened to these missing souls. In addition we finally get to advance to the back of Act 1 and then things get really spooky.
We are back in the Spectral version of the mansion from the Prelude! As the mist rolls in, monsters that have been set aside spring to life and The Spectral Watcher is back to reek havoc. What’s more there is no way out as the entry hall disappears and is replaced by an all too familiar wall of mist!
Everyone is afraid of the mist, even the Silver Twilight Lodge! With them now counting as investigators we have to decide if we are going to help get them out of there or just cut our losses and find our own way out. Much like the gangsters way back in Dunwich: The House Always Wins, the Silver Twilight enemies will get munched on by Spectral enemies. Do we help them? As we wrestle with this decision we continue our clue gathering and eventually break through the mist surrounding the estate.
With the mists cleared we can get these people out of here, if we want to, and they will also make their own way to the exit with the Forced ability. Our only way out of this mess is also to get to the entryway and leave, so I guess we should help them? Unless they were responsible for this all along? Choices, choices.
As we wrap the scenario there is a fair amount of text to get through, including special asides for anyone who happens to be a Silver Twilight traited character, like Diana. How much you helped the Silver Twilight Lodge out here will also affect the fallout of this particular scenario, and resonate throughout the rest of the campaign. Will you ally with the lodge, pretend to, or just out and out refuse to help them? Do you have a choice?
Our scenario card is based very much around the choices we made at the start of the Witching hour. The Chaos bag at the start just has skulls in it and here, those are straight negative modifiers, getting more difficult as we head into the spectral realm and haunted locations come into being. If we accepted our fate, then we get two tablets and we found ourselves literally haunted by our choices. If we have rejected our fate then the spectral world has taken umbrage with us going against the grain and those enemies are coming for us.
As we explored in the prologue, one of the advantages of playing through that scenario is getting a snapshot of the encounters you will be dealing with before risking your actual investigators. In fact the encounter set here is almost identical to that of the Prologue. In fact the only difference here is that we get Josef Meiger from the At Death’s Doorstep set and the Silver Twilight Lodge takes the place of the Disappearance set.
Meiger is the main man in this scenario and how we handle him is up to you. He is relatively easy to kill outright should you wish to, but if you successfully parlay with him then you can slow the doom progress down quite substantially .
The rest of the Silver Twilight Lodge is full of his stooges. Lodge Neophyte is just a little baby lodge memeber, awww. He is also a pain in the ass, gathering doom on himself when he enters play and also becoming a target for Mysteries of the Lodge. Mysteries makes them much harder to takedown or to talk to, which can cause us no end of problems as we try and usher them past spectral creatures and of course the Watcher itself. Finally we have the Keeper of Secrets. This guy knows where all the bodies are buried and also might be involved in whatever is happening in this place as he accelerates doom accumulation. He can be parleyed with, much like the neophyte, but also provides another target for Mysteries.
As with the prologue the rest of the encounter deck focuses on the Haunted keyword and spectral enemies. Familiarity is good, but that doesn’t mean the scenario is a repeat. We can choose to protect the lodge, we can watch them die, but the choices are ours. The consequences will resonate throughout the rest of the campaign.
Beyond the Door
With the conclusion of “At Death’s Doorstep” the campaign has really kicked off properly. We have accepted, or rejected fate, helped the lodge, abandoned them, or set up their inevitable betrayal. The hints of what is to come are laid out here and the choices have been significant, even if we don’t know what the outcomes will be as yet. I really like this core set, it has a great intro to the game in the form of the prologue and two stonking scenarios that I really enjoyed playing through. Hopefully the rest of the campaign will keep up this pace.