Tabletop Tuesday: That is not dead which can eternal lie
Saturday, March 2 we had another meeting of the Greater Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club at founder Shaun’s International House of Keenan. This was our “second” session with this collective (sans Michael who came up from Louisiana to play in January). Present were Shaun (of course, it being his house and all) and Steve (down from Chicago) and our core members — myself, Doug, Joe, & Brent. I say “core” in the sense that the four of us have actually played every two weeks since our January reunion, something we hope to maintain for as long as the gods allow.
I must say, this was one helluva game session. You know, after the smashing success of our reunion game, I was a little apprehensive about our second meeting, especially since it had been two months since we last rolled dice together. But we fell right into it, everyone up to speed and rip-roaring for a damn good time and that’s what we had. I will say this, however, a couple of the players were a tad bit bloodthirsty and I may have let a few things slide that I wouldn’t have in the “old days”. When next we meet, I may have to tighten the reins more than a smidgen.
I’m really digging the storyline I cooked up for these cats, and I think they’re digging it too. Our next greater gathering, probably in April, will introduce more of a political element to the game. It will be interesting to see how these hack and slashers react.
For my birthday, in addition to some killer books (Andrew J. Offutt’s Swords Against Darkness anthology and the first two Felix Castor novels by Mike Carey), Kim and Conn bought me Elder Sign, a tabletop dice game from the Arkham Horror gang. Familiar to it via Wil Wheaton’s Geek & Sundry Tabletop webisode, I was excited to give this a go.
Here’s the publisher’s rundown:
It is 1926, and the museum’s extensive collection of exotic curios and occult artifacts poses a threat to the barriers between our world and the elder evils lurking between dimensions. Gates to the beyond begin to leak open, and terrifying creatures of increasing strength steal through them. Animals, the mad, and those of more susceptible minds are driven to desperation by the supernatural forces the portals unleash. Only a handful of investigators race against time to locate the eldritch symbols necessary to seal the portals forever. Only they can stop the Ancient One beyond from finding its way to Earth and reducing humanity to cinders.
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. Players take the roles of investigators racing against time to stave off the imminent return of the Ancient One. Armed with tools, allies, and occult knowledge, investigators must put their sanity and stamina to the test as they adventure to locate Elder Signs, the eldritch symbols used to seal away the Ancient Ones and win the game.
To locate Elder Signs, investigators must successfully endure Adventures within the museum and its environs. A countdown mechanism makes an Ancient One appear if the investigators are not quick enough. The investigators must then battle the Ancient One. A clever and thematic dice mechanism pits their exploration against monsters and the sheer difficulty of staying sane and healthy, all within the standard game duration of one to two hours.
I’ve played the game twice. Both times by myself and I, of course, lost both games. Once to Hastur. The other to Cthulhu himself. Still, it was a lot of fun and I’m really anxious to try this thing out with more players. It is complicated, however, but I think I can get Connor on board to help his daddy out. It would be nice if my lovely (and pregnant) wife would lend us a hand, but I’m betting she’s wanting to keep our unborn child as far away from the Old Ones as she can, knowing damn good and well that I’ll have them incanting arcane rituals soon enough.
Anyway, if you’re of a particular bent, Elder Sign is well worth the $30 some odd dollars it costs. The artwork and game design are well worth the price of admission.
Until next time, “Ph’nglui Mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”