*Warning: This article contains HEAVY spoilers for the adventure “The Devourer Below” from the Core Set. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please stop reading now. Sorry!*
Greetings once again, fellows Deep Delvers, and welcome to the final instalment of the “Night of the Zealot” campaign review. Previously, we began our journey studying what was going on in “The Gathering” before attempting to get to the bottom of the conspiracy in “The Midnight Masks”. It’s all come to a head now with today’s adventure “The Devourer Below”, as we rush to try and save Arkham from the terrible wrath of Umordhoth!
Having now just interrogated as many cultists as you could, you rush to Arkham Forest hoping to stop the ritual to summon a being known as Umordhoth, The Devourer Below. Depending on how you performed in “The Midnight Masks”, you’ll either arrive early and have some time to prepare, or late and be less equipped for the job. In addition, depending on how many cultists you defeated/saved, the ritual will already be close to completion.
You rush through the forest, encountering Twisted Paths and Tangled Thickets, hoping to find the ritual site. As you traverse through, however, you encounter not only the horrid, half eaten corpses indicative of ghoul activity, but also beings from realities beyond your comprehension!
As the ritual ramps up, the monsters become more powerful, and it becomes harder and harder to fight against them. It’s only a matter of time before the ritual is complete, and Umordhoth is unleashed unto the world!
There are some wildly different ways this scenario can end:
-You manage to stop the cultists and end the ritual before Umordhoth is summoned. The players are mentally scarred by the stress and otherworldly experience this has been, but can rejoice at a job well done. They’ve saved the day!
-The cultists succeed in summoning Umordhoth. Seeing how futile your efforts are, and noticing its strange fascination with Lita Chandler, you throw her towards it. The life is sucked out of her as she is erased from this life. Umordhoth vanishes and the cultists disperse. You’re alive, but not entirely whole anymore, and forever wracked with guilt.
-The cultists succeed in summoning Umordhoth. Through the unity of your team, and sheer strength of will, you manage to defeat Umordhoth and send it back to whence in came. You’ve saved Arkham, and far exceed what any one of you thought possible…but you’re body is weakened forever.
-You either abandon Arkham to its fate, or are killed by Umordhoth and the monstrosities of the forest. Arkham is consumed, and the world is plunged into darkness. Also known as “Game Over”.
The outcome of “The Midnight Masks” SIGNIFICANTLY impacts the feel of “The Devourer Below”. If you managed to catch many or all of the cultists, “The Devourer Below” is simply a journey to find the ritual site, and then a brief attempt at disrupting the ritual. Some cultists may get in the way and try to speed up the process, but your efforts in the previous scenario have gone a long way to making this a fairly cut and dry find the ritual site, stop the ritual progression.
If, however, you really struggled in “The Midnight Masks”, you’re in for a much different fight. The ritual ramps up very quickly, giving you little time to try and find the ritual site. The monsters are a lot tougher, with even the weakest monsters posing serious threat. It’s likely that you won’t have anywhere near enough time to disrupt the ritual, meaning it’s now time to fight Umordhoth.
Thus, there are two real ways this quest can play out; a simple investigation mystery, or an epic battle against the forces of the realities beyond space and time. With the help of Lita, this is a very doable thing. Without her help, however, you’re probably doomed, as battling an Ancient One is not a task you can really succeed at.
*Surviving Cultists (technically not set-aside initially)
Ghoul Priest (if not killed earlier)
Wizard of the Order
3 Ghoul Minion
3 Grasping Hands
3 Rotting Remains
2 Frozen in Fear
2 Dissonant Voices
3 Ancient Evils
2 Mysterious Chanting
2 Umordhoth’s Wrath
In addition to the above, you also randomly add one the following:
Agents of Cthulhu (2 Young Deep One, 2 Dreams of R’lyeh)
Agents of Yog-Sothoth (2 Yithian Observer, 2 Offer of Power)
Agents of Shub-Niggurath (2 Relentless Dark Young, 2 Goat Spawn)
Agents of Hastur (2 Screeching Byakhee, 2 The Yellow Sign)
This encounter is supposed to be a challenge. With the toughest enemies you’ve fought yet (bar the Nightgaunts) and the buffs they can receive during the mission, this can become a really difficult fight for survival very quickly. If you only caught one or two cultists in “The Midnight Masks”, it’s virtually an inevitability that Umordhoth is going to wake up.
The threat of being defeated mid mission is exacerbated by no fewer than eight
treachery cards which attack your health/sanity, based on how well you do on a skill test. Umordhoth’s Wrath is particularly debilitating, as the consequences for failure are much larger, and the skill check is a whopping 5 Will. No other card comes close to potentially bring down an investigator in a single card! Can you imagine drawing this as “Skids”?
The variety of location types also slows people down quite notably. Of the six locations in the game, three of them require a stat other than Intellect to investigate, meaning that the primary investigator can’t quite do their job as effectively. Whilst it does mean that others can pitch in and help, they’re often busy handling monsters that appear. This can result in poor action optimisation, and slows you down substantially. Coupled with Frozen in Fear and Dissonant Voices, you need to have a little luck on your side to make your way through the forest quickly.
If you end up in a fight with Umordhoth, you’re in for what will likely be an extremely quick battle. Any survivor with a health or sanity below 7 is likely to find themselves facing imminent death when Umordhoth; after all, the Ancient One dishes out three damage at a time! The fact that skill checks are even harder in this scenario than normal (due to a general increase in the negatives of the tokens, as well as the introduction of the “Ancient One” token) makes combat against the already powerful 5 Fight Ancient One an even more daunting prospect. If you have two fighters and Lita in play, you have a chance, especially if you’re both able to survive one whole turn. But 10-22 health is A LOT to slog through, not to mention the other monsters that are sure to spawn. If you haven’t dealt with that Ghoul Priest yet, and if the Masked Hunter survived…
The difficulty of the four Agent decks is, in my opinion, vastly different. Hastur and Cthulhu provide the largest threat, as all four cards in both packs threaten your sanity in a mission already rife with ways to punish you. Dreams of R’lyeh and Young Deep One are all unavoidable forms of horror. While The Yellow Sign and Screeching Byakhee both threaten more sanity damage, they are potentially avoidable, and also not instant.
Conclusion on The Devourer Below
Suitably epic in content, and an excellent way to end the campaign, The Devourer Below is a difficult mission that encapsulates the feeling of rushing to stop a ritual very well. And, if you fail to stop that mission, the dread experienced as Umordhoth marches (slithers?) towards you is strong enough to really make you eye that exit.
I’ve had games where I’ve managed to defeat Umordhoth solo. I’ve also had cames where, due to accumulated trauma, I’ve gone insane in the first few turns. The designers have done an amazing job in ensuring that all your decisions and experiences from the first two really do shape your success in the campaign. Bravo!
A race against the clock as you rush through a winding and confusing forest to stop the ritual, it feels suitably epic whether you succeed at stopping it or fail to and must combat the monstrosity that has now been summoned. I do feel that this can feel like a strangely low stress story if you did very well during “The Midnight Masks” however, which does bring down my attachment to the story and satisfaction of success.
Really, really dependant on your success during The Midnight Masks. If you captured 4-6 cultists, this mission can be surprisingly simple, especially on a good location run. If you captured 3 or fewer, however, you’re in for a rough ride, especially if you have characters with low Willpower and/or Sanity. In fact, if your characters have mostly average Willpower, you’re in for a really rough ride, especially if the Agents of Cthulhu or Agents of Hastur set are selected.
Very solid. There’s a decent amount of variety by virtue of the different Agent decks that may be shuffled in, and the potential combinations for the forest means that you’re in for a journey into the unknown each time. Also, depending on how well you did (or pretend you did) on the “Midnight Masks”, the feel of the game can be very different, once again enhancing replayability.
Thanks so much for reading, guys! I hope you’ve enjoyed these articles as much a I’ve enjoyed creating them. Next time on Delve Too Deep, we’re doing a review of the player cards from Miskatonic Museum, the first Mythos pack to be released in this wonderful game! Later on, Zoey Samaras will even resume her adventures from where she left off, and we’ll see just how she handles what awaits her in the near future.
Until then, may your skill checks remain untentacled!
*all images courtesy of arkhamdb.com and Fantasy Flight Games.
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