*Warning: This article contains HEAVY spoilers for the adventure, The Gathering from the Core Set. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please stop reading now. Sorry!*
Welcome back, fellow investigators, to a new line of articles for Delve Too Deep. Now that we’ve had a look at all of the player options available at the moment, it’s about time we start looking at exactly what it is that we face in the darkness. Welcome to Behind the Curtain!
Today, we’re looking at the very first adventure that I expect many of us took part in, the quest where all of our journeys into the unknown began, and where all our love affairs with the game formed; The Gathering. Note that I’ll always be primarily focusing on the adventure from the viewpoint of the “Standard” difficulty.
The quest begins with your team investigating the strange occurrences that have been going on in Arkham recently. Lots of dead bodies have been turning up half eaten, and of course the townspeople all blame something mundane and simple. You, however, being the crazy conspiracy theorist/nutter that you are, believe there’s more to it, and lo and behold, there is!
Of course, things don’t quite go to plan, and the quest begins with some strange chanting being heard down the hall from you, followed by your study door vanishing. As you try and find your way through your now unfamiliar house, ghouls from tunnels underneath the house begin to flood in. You must fight your way through these monsters and into your parlour, where the chanting is revealed to be coming from Lita Chantler.
A massive Ghoul Priest emerges from behind you once you get to the parlour, and you’re left with two choices; fight and defeat the beast, or run for your lives! Depending on whether or not resign from the mission, or when you are defeated, the mission can end in one of four ways:
-You all flee with your lives. Lita follows you, but she is not happy. The Ghoul Priest is alive.
-You are unable to clear the way to the parlour, and are devoured by ghouls. All investigators are killed.
-You kill the Ghoul Priest, and are convinced by Lita to burn down your house. She trusts and accompanies you.
-You kill the Ghoul Priest, but refuse to burn down your house. Lita is furious, and refuses to aid you.
As the introductory quest to the game, The Gathering has a very simple, linear structure. With the exception of where to investigate first out of the Cellar and Attic, as well as the fight or flight choice at the end, there are no actual decisions made as to how to progress through the quest.
Act 1 and 2 simply require the investigators to gather some clues through investigating. No tricks, just investigate checks. This culminates in a boss fight in Act 3, against a surprisingly solid enemy.
The Agenda deck, likewise, is rather simple. The first two stages do not have any impact on the game at all, while Agenda 3 causes issues if the players have had a hard time dealing with all the Ghouls. This causes a bit of tension for the players, as they must choose between dealing with the larger enemy, or fighting off the hoards of Ghouls that are trying to escape the house.They’ll likely have to recruit Lita to help, especially if they only have a single dedicated fighter.
3 Swarm of Rats
3 Ghoul Minion
3 Grasping Hands
3 Rotting Remains
2 Frozen in Fear
2 Dissonant Voices
3 Ancient Evils
2 Crypt Chill
2 Obscuring Mists
+1, 0, 0, -1, -1, -1, -2, -2, -3, -4, Skull, Skull, Cultist, Tablet, Tentacle, Elder Sign
As an introductory adventure, it’s not surprising to see very few monster that have many keywords or abilities. 6 out of the 9 monsters can be killed very easily in a single action (with a weapon). Out of the remaining three, only the Flesh-Eater can consistently survive an unboosted Fight check (thanks to its 4 Combat).
The big boss of the quest, the Ghoul Priest, is another story. With great Combat and Agility, as well as a a whopping 5/player health, the Priest is a respectable foe. Retaliate and a damage of 2/2 means that he’ll generally be able to fell any investigator in three attacks. One failed attack and one round of being engaged with him make this even more perilous, and the damage investigators could suffer from the Cellar, Attic, Grasping Hands, Rotting Remains or even Crypt Chill can really add up here. The Cultist and Tablet tokens in the chaos bag also threaten damage on failed skill checks. Roland, the one most likely to be battling this beast in just the Core Set, will go crazy in just two hits from this guy if he’s suffered even a single point of horror from elsewhere!
Thankfully, Lita Chantler makes this job a lot more manageable, notably so in multiplayer. Whereas Roland can still take the Priest out in a single round or two in solo or duo play, he requires a third or even fourth round in three or four player. This could spell his doom, especially as he’ll be drawing extra encounter cards in between! Lita accelerates this process significantly, and gives high Intellect characters something to do in the final part of the adventure.
The largest dangers of this quest are all of the Willpower related encounter cards. Frozen in Fear is absolutely crippling, especially if it lands the main combatant. Crypt Chill and Rotting Remains also threaten to weaken or harm those who don’t have the will to face them, and these cards comprise more than 25% of the encounter deck!
Conclusion on The Gathering
By virtue of its simplicity, The Gathering makes for a perfect introductory scenario. The inclusion of the Resign option on the parlour and the decision presented to the players at the end of Act 3 show players that their decisions really do matter, and that there’s more to the game than a single quest on its own.
I personally find it suffers due to its linear narrative, and unlike the other quests in Night of the Zealot, I now find myself rather unenthused at the prospect of escaping my study again. Still, The Gathering definitely fulfills its purpose, and The Gathering does an excellent job of giving the players a taste of what is on offer in Arkham Horror: The Card Game.
A simple narrative without any real decisions causes this to feel as though it’s one wheels. It’s fine, but pales in comparison to any other scenario in the game.
Far and away the most dangerous cards in the scenario are those involving Willpower. The monsters are far too weak to pose any real threat, and the Acts themselves are rather easy to progress through. The final boss is a solid fight.
Given the lack of decisions to be made in the scenario, this one should really only be played as part of the Night of the Zealot campaign or on a demo night. If you’re looking for a standalone adventure, there are far more entertaining ones than this.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Let me know what you thought of my analysis of The Gathering, and if you enjoyed it. Do you feel as though I missed anything? Let me know, and until next time, may your skill checks remain untentacled!
*all images courtesy of arkhamdb.com and Fantasy Flight Games
Discuss this article on:
Fantasy Flight Games: https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/241696-delve-too-deep-file-xv-the-gathering-behind-the-curtain-i/