John Scott (priest)

John Scott was Carl Stanford’s chief aide and administrator in the Silver Twilight Lodge, an organization created for the first Call of Cthulhu campaign– Shadows of Yog-Sothoth. John Scott was a good friend of mine – John Scott Clegg (Hi Scott! If you see this.) So since the writer, Bill Hamblin, had already placed me as a villain in the tale, he saw fit to do the same with John . At least I got to be John’s boss in the story (notin real life though – we were always equals).

John Scott in the game & the original adventure is a magician par excellence, and has a really terrific ability which as with many you must prepare for. Basically, when your priest activates the John Scott card, for the rest of that turn your acolytes don’t have to pay 2 treasure to enact rituals. Instead, they EARN 2 treasure when they are placed on a Ritual track. Even if you only have 2 cultists, that’s 4 treasure for placing them, plus of course at the end of the turn you get the ritual bonuses. Obviously, you can really make bank if you have 3-4 cultists to place in this way. The only drawback is that next turn, your cultists are tied up in rituals, but at least you’re rolling in wealth. Another drawback is you can’t use John Scott until the ritual track is unlocked (immediately after the first investigator raid).

John Scott is also beneficial because it’s pretty common for someone to want to place on the Ritual track, only to realize he doesn’t have any money! (In fact, you can see this exact event in the Ancients board video playthrough we uploaded). With John Scott, you don’t need money. Just acolytes. Naturally I’d suggest that you place John Scott to use his ability as your very first action of the turn so your remaining actions can all take advantage of his power.

If you facing UP against John Scott, the only antidote is to quick place your own cultists on the Ritual track, blocking him. Good luck.

Author (investigator)

The author, like the Vampire and the Minister, is another investigator with an obsession. Basically, if you are personally willing to give up a spellbook, the author skips you in his attack. Of course, a spellbook is a hefty investment, and not always available, but it’s worth spending to save an elder sign or often other resources. It still hurts, though. On the other hand, even if you refuse to spend the spellbook, you’re no worse off that before.

The Great Race of Yith (monster)

This critter is an excellent example of how Lovecraft rarely gave his creatures actual names. I mean, Cthulhu is a proper name, but his species is just “the star spawn”, which is rather generic. Even the “Yith” part of the Great Race’s name is particularly inapt, because in the first place when they’re encountered, they are not on Yitg. Yith isn’t even their place of origin. It’s like someone claiming that I, Sandy, am a Marylander because I lived in Baltimore for five years (which I did). The Great Race is the focus of one of Lovecraft’s most dramatic and subtle tales – “The Shadow Out of Time”. One of the rather subversive undertones of this story is that it turns out that the Great Race, which regularly wipes out entire species (at least mentally) by taking them over, poses no threat to humanity, because we are not worth conquering. Instead, they skip over Homo sapiens, and conquer the beetles which replace us. My theory is the beetles are what take over after we humans nuke the earth. After all insects are notoriously resistant to radiation.

 

Why Aren’t Insects Subject (As Much) to Radiation?  

You can skip this if you’re not of a scientific bent, but I actually studied entomology at the graduate level in college, and don’t often get a chance to strut my stuff, so here goes. Basically the issue is that radiation inflicts damage on living organisms by literally shattering DNA. Now, DNA is at its most vulnerable when a cell is dividing (the rest of the time, the DNA is bound up with various repair mechanisms which can fix a lot of mistakes). Mammals, like humans, have constantly-dividing cells. Our hair grows, our bone marrow creates blood cells, skin cells are shed, intestinal lining is being replaced, etc. This means that at any given time, a large number of our cells are vulnerable to radiation, and thus we get radiation sickness comparatively easily. Well, no easier than any other mammal, but still. Reptiles are slower-growing and slower metabolistically than humans, so are slightly more resistant to radiation. (A tortoise can handle 4-5 times as many rads as a human.)

But insect cells don’t divide, at least not often, once they reach adulthood. Even when they are immature, the cells mostly only divide when they’re getting ready for a molt. This means that most insects in a given population are quite resistant to radiation and cansurvive an ionizing burst. Another feature which helps insects survive is their fast breeding cycle. A grasshopper, for instance, lays around 2000 eggs. This means that even if only 1 in 1000 eggs survives, they have 2 survivors per female. If humans had a similar survival rate, we’d typically only have 1 survivor per 500 couples (the average woman in the USA has slightly over 2 kids)! So, picture this – nukes go off, and 1 in 1000 newborn critters survive. The next year there is the SAME NUMBER of grasshoppers, but only 0.2% as many humans. The math is terrifying.

What does the Great Race do? 

Anyway I don’t blame the Great Race of Yith for picking beetles over humans. Now, back to Evil High Priest. (Please don’t start an argument thread that mammals are “better” than insects. That’s not the point of this essay, really. I guess really what I’m trying to say is “let’s not nuke ourselves and let insects inherit the earth.”) So, in Evil High Priest, when you take the Great Race, you also take an acolyte from your asylum and place it on top of the Great Race card. Unlike every other monster that “steals” a cultist, this time it’s a good thing. If you have an acolyte on the Great Race card, then from then on you don’t use the Escape site – instead, your rescued cultists are moved directly to your Pool.

 

This is naturally a pretty sweet deal. It doesn’t affect cultists who are already on your Escape but from then on it is mighty handy.

Mr Shiny (priest)

Mr. Shiny is an old creation of Chaosium’s – he is a jolly fat person, unfailingly polite and cooperative, but with something sinister beneath the surface. He is likely a proto-shoggoth (or even a shoggoth) inside a rubberized human shell. Or maybe something worse! To celebrate his nature, to use his ability you must first have a monster in your lair. You don’t have to sacrifice the monster – just have it in your possession. Thus, you can’t use him too early in the game. Activate his one-time ability to both gain a Magic AND move a cultist from the Asylum to your Escape. This symbolizes you discovering that this monster is in fact a person, or maybe the other way round. The combination of these is obviously quite useful, and it also makes him pretty flexible. His only drawback (that you need a monster) is more than made up for by the goodies he brings.

The Proto-Shoggoth (monster)

Monsters have four basic types of abilities.

  • In a Raid– some monsters modify attacks. These can be complex abilities, but you don’t need to worry about it most of the time – only when there’s danger. The Hound of Tindalos is a good example.
  • Each Preparation Phase– these monsters give you a benefit (and sometimes an associated cost) each turn. For example, the Maniac gives you 2 treasure every turn, during the preparation phase.
  • Just Before You Place a Cultist– these monsters are always discarded for their effect, which means you can’t afterward keep them for defense. On the other hand, they often are fairly powerful monsters, to make using them a real choice. The Ghoul, for instance, kills an enemy cultist if you discard him this way. But he’s also a 6-barrier monster, so you may want to hang onto him.
  • When Taken– a “when taken” monster has a one-time effect, which only occurs (if at all), when you first gain that monster. For example, the Proto-Shoggoth itself. Read on.

 

The Proto-Shoggoth is of course a blob monster which is able to masquerade as a human. To represent this, when you take the Proto-Shoggoth, you can choose to pay 1 blood. If you do, you immediately rescue a cultist from the Asylum (placed, as always, on the Escape space). Presumably that guy was always a proto-shoggoth, and simply squeezed out through a drainpipe or something. Of course any ability that gives you cultists is always terrific – it saves you a priest action and also a bundle of resources. As in any worker placement game, cultists mean wealth as they are literally your engine. Plus, in Evil High Priest, cultists are also useful as defenses. You’ll see us sacrifice them to save other resources during raids in every playthrough we’ve released.

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