Best-Laid Plans: The Hemlock Residents and Paths through The Vale

Introduction

There are nine notable members of the village of Hemlock Vale that the investigators will meet during the campaign. Additionally, there are two more characters that they can interact with, arriving on the island with them for the survey.
This guide (which is part of the larger “Best-Laid Plans” Campaign Deep Dive) will go over most of these characters, sum up their storyline and point out where you can find them and what you have to do to follow these storylines.
I will also give a few example paths that you can follow along.
Obviously, this will include lots of spoilers, including for the finale in all of its versions.

The Cheat Sheet

Here’s an image. Check it out. (Open in new tab for bigger view)

This is where every resident can be found at a given time.

For many use cases, this table will already get you at least 80% on the way to whatever you may want to know about what routes to take. It’s not quite a guide on how to maximize relationship with someone or how to unlock one of the endings, but it will at least give you a strong direction.

For the details…. read on. For each of the residents (and Rosa) I’ll go over a short overview of who they are in the story, how to max out their relationship and any special requirements for unlocking things. Note that maxing out their relationship is not required for anything, but if you want to hit relevant thresholds (3 to share a dance, 4 to be available as an ally during the last half of the finale), or simply as a hook or guide for a route through the campaign, you can use that information as a resource.

Rosa Marquez

Overview: Rosa is the head of the survey and acts as a stand-in for the investigators in many of the story bits. Following her around gives you what was dubbed “the canon route” which gives a solid experience for the first play of the campaign. Doing so (successfully) will unlock version 1 of the finale.
Relationship: Rosa isn’t a resident, she came to The Vale with you as leader of the survey. She doesn’t have a relationship track.
To unlock v1 of the finale:
– save Bertie in The Twisted Hollows
– play The Longest Night
To be able to sacrifice yourselves in Rosa’s stead:
– additionally, gather the Prismatic Shard from the mines and have it in play during the finale when act 2 advances.

Mother Rachel

Overview: The matriarch and spiritual leader of the village. She is for the most part the primary antagonist (until The Colour takes over that role). Getting into her good graces is more difficult with her than with other residents because there are only few opportunities to increase your relationship with her. You can even go along with her which will cause an early end to the campaign (with the option to regret and redo your choices). Whatever your relation to the matron during most of the campaign, by the finale she will end up your enemy.
Relationship (max 4):
– During the meal on evening 1, ask Rachel about the Atwoods or the Children of the Stars. (+1)
– Talk to Rachel during the prelude on Morning 2. (+1)
– Play the Longest Night
– Talk to Rachel in the interlude afterwards, thanking her for her prayers. (+1)
– Play Silent Heath on day 3 and talk to Rachel there. (+1)
To unlock a non-standard Game Over (with a chance for a rewind):
– Follow the steps above to gain 3 relationship with Rachel before the final (=fourth) prelude.
– During the setup of the Final Prelude tell Rachel “You have done nothing wrong.”
– Keep playing the Final Prelude.

Simeon Atwood

Overview: A young man with more than one screw loose, Simeon is the head (and only active member) of his secret society that hangs around in the mines. And then needs to be rescued from there or disappear. He has a plan of disrupting the feast with fireworks to spite Rachel, which the players can encourage and help with… leading to its own version of the finale where the stashed fireworks are used to torch the place for good.
Relationship (max 6):
– Talk to him during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Rescue Simeon from the mines on day 1 or 2 (+2)
– During the meal on evening 1, join the kids’ table. (+1)
– Talk to him on the second morning.
– Stash fireworks on the third morning.
– Talk to Simeon on the final prelude (+2)
To unlock v3 of the finale:
– Rescue Simeon from the mines on day 1 or 2.
– Join the youths at dinner (-> Simeon hatched a plan)
– Talk to Simeon on the second morning (-> Plan is underway)
– Stash fireworks on the third morning (-> Vale is full of fireworks)
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Both Leah and Simeon must survive.

Leah Atwood

Overview: She is Simeon’s mother and her fate is in large parts connected to his. She’s Rachel’s sister and as the Vale cook heavily involved in the preparations for the feast.
Relationship (max 6):
– Talk to her during Prelude 1 (+1)
– On day 1 or day 2, rescue Simeon from the mines.
– During the meal on evening 1, listen to her compain about work. (+1)
– During prelude 2, run an errand from the Crossroads to the Store (+1)
– Talk to her during prelude 3 (+2)
– Talk to her in the final prelude (+1)
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Both Leah and Simeon must survive.

William Hemlock

Overview: The last of the Hemlock line, concerned about his family’s legacy. He clashes with River Hawthorne who has less romantic ideas about the future of The Vale and the Hemlock heritage.
Relationship (max 7):
– Talk to him during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Find Little Silvie in the Hemlock House on day 1 (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, ask William about the Hemlocks. (+1)
– On morning 2, take William’s side during his argument with River at the Atwood House (+1)
– On day 2, in the Hemlock House, take William’s side during his argument with Judith(+1)
– Talk to him during prelude 3. (+1)
– On day 3, talk to William at the Akwan Shore (+1)
– During the final prelude, at the Atwood house, let the Hemlocks make a truce out or side with William. (+1)
To unlock v2 of the finale:
– Gain at least 3 relationship with William before the second evening.
– Share a dance with William
– Have William stand by you in the Longest Night.
– Talk to William on the following morning.
– Let the Hemlocks fight it out and make a truce.
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Both River and William must survive and they need to have made the truce.

River Hawthorne

Overview: River visits The Vale from the city and isn’t really on board with the traditions and rural way of life on the island. They want to use their claim to the Hemlock heritage to bring a more modern touch to the place.
Relationship (max 8):
– Talk to them during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Help River in the mines on day 1 (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, chat with them about jazz. (+1)
– On morning 2, take River’s side during their argument with William at the Atwood House (+2)
– On day 2 or 3, help them in the Eastwick Bog (+1)
– On the second evening, dance with them
– Play the Longest Night and have them stand by you.
– Talk to them during prelude 3 (+1)
– During the final prelude, at the Atwood house, let the Hemlocks make a truce or side with River. (+1)
To unlock v2 of the finale:
– On morning 2, take River’s side over William’s.
– Gain at least 3 relationship with River before the second evening.
– Share a dance with them
– Have them stand by you in the Longest Night.
– Talk to River on the following morning.
– Let the Hemlocks fight it out and make a truce.
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Both River and William must survive and they need to have made the truce.

Gideon Mizrah

Overview: An old sailor, knowledgable in his own ways and always willing to tell tales of ships, voyages, history, shipwrecks… or food.
Relationship (max 7):
– Talk to him during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Help Gideon in the Hemlock House on day 1 (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, listen to his sailor stories. (+1)
– On morning 2, listen to another sailor story. (+1)
– Help Gideon find his treasure on the Akwan Shore on Day 2 or 3. (+1)
– On the second evening, dance with him
– Play the Longest Night and have him stand by you.
– Talk to him during prelude 3 (+1)
– Talk to him during the final prelude (+1)
To unlock v1 of the finale:
– Talk to him on the first evening (-> told the story of Captain Hemlock)
– Talk to him on the second morning (-> told the tale of the Annabelle Lee)
– find the treasure on the Akwan Shore on Day 2 or 3.
– Talk to him during the final prelude (-> finish the tale of the A. Lee)

Judith Park

Overview: Judith introduces herself as “the muscle”, she and her hunting rifle are out to make sure no wildlife interferes with the feast. She is plenty fed up with The Vale and ready to leave.
Relationship (max 7):
– Talk to her during Prelude 1 (+1)
– On day 1, play the Thing in the Depths (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, take Judith’s side against River. (+1)
– Play Twisted Hollow and have Judith save you from the bear.
– On morning 2, chat to Judith and tell her you can handle yourself. (+1)
– On day 2, in the Hemlock House, take Judith’s side during her argument with William (+1)
– Talk to her during prelude 3. (+1)
– On day 3, in the Hemlock House, “remodel” the place by defeating at least 8 location-enemies. (+1)
– During the final prelude, talk to her (+1)
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Get her relationship level to 5 by the end of the campaign. And she must survive, obviously.

Theo (and Helen) Peters

Overview: Theo is a young man who will drive the survey members around on the island. Much of his story deals with the fallout he had with his sister over whether it’s a good idea to stay in The Vale.
Relationship (max 6):
– Talk to him during Prelude 1 (+1)
– Parley during The Lost Sister on day 1 or 2 to make him reconcile with his sister Helen. (+1)
– During the meal on evening 1, talk to Theo and Helen joins the survey. (+1)
– Play Twisted Hollow and have Theo save you from the bear.
– On morning 2, chat with Theo (+1)
– Talk to him during prelude 3 (+1). If you didn’t share a dance and do Longest Night with him, this will require running an errand from the Store to the Commons.
– Talk to him during the final prelude (+1)
To unlock v2 of the finale:
– Reconcile Theo and Helen during The Lost Sister, then win the scenario ( -> family is reunited).
To gain a bit of extra epilogue:
– Get his relationship level to 5 by the end of the campaign. Again, also don’t get him killed.

To cap this article off, i will now go over a few paths you can take through the campaign. They aren’t necessarily particularly efficient or better than others, they are just a recommendation if you are struggling to prioritize things yourself. As an alternative, you can also pick any of the residents above and follow their “Max relationship” path.

Path 1: Following Rosa (AKA the “Canon Route”)

For this path, we act as part of the survey and support Rosa in her studies of the island’s ecosystem. We are completely free in what we do during the preludes because they don’t relate to Rosa. The nighttime scenarios are a fixed part of this route and will unlock a version of the finale. I am picking Written in Rock for day 3 because it will allow you to save Leah and/or to grab the Spectral Shard for an alternate ending to Rosa’s version of the finale.

Day 1: The Thing in the Depths
Night 1: Twisted Hollow
Day 2: Silent Heath
Night 2: Longest Night
Day 3: Written in Rock

Path 2: Skipping the nighttime scenarios

Generally speaking, it is not recommended to skip Twisted Hollow or Longest Night because doing so will make the chaos bag worse and also cost you a bunch of XP and relationship opportunities from missing out some of the log entries earned around those scenarios. But if you want to do it anyways, here’s a suggestion on how to do it:

Day 1: The Thing in the Depths
Night 1: Silent Heath
Day 2: The Lost Sister
Night 2: Written in Rock
Day 3: Hemlock House

For the night scenarios i chose Written in Rock because it’s the only one that actually adds something interesting at night (The Subterranean Beast) and Silent Heath because its daytime social interactions are the thinnest and you lose very little by going there at night. I put Silent Heath first so you can recover the Diary. Going into the mines at night will not allow you to save Simeon, but it will stop Leah from getting lost in the mines with him. The order of the other three scenarios was chosen to offer the most interactivity with the villagers.

Path 3: All the options

There are four different variants to the finale and unlocking them isn’t all that difficult. The following path will make it so you have all four of them available to you when you have to make the decision. v1 simply requires playing the two nighttime scenarios, v2 is opened up by reuniting the Peters family which can be done through playing Lost Sister on day 1 or 2. v3 is the most involved one, but still rather tame. It just involves interacting with Simeon at some specific points and making sure he doesn’t get lost in the mines. v4 is always open. It doesn’t matter if you play Lost Sister or Written in Rock first, as long as you play both on day 1 and 2.

Day 1: Written in Rock, rescue Simeon
Evening 1: Join Simeon at the kids’ table
Night 1: Twisted Hollow
Morning 2: Talk to Simeon
Day 2: Lost Sister, reconcile Theo and Helen
Night 2: Longest Night
Morning 3: Stash fireworks
Day 3: whatever you want

Path 4: All the epilogues

On this path, we get all four epilogues after finishing the campaign. This path requires at least three players, otherwise you won’t be able to talk with all three of William, Judith and Theo on evening 1.
Prerequisites fulfilled here are: Theo and Judith at relationship 5, William and River at a truce, Simeon and Leah both survive.

Morning 1: Talk to William, Judith, Theo
Day 1: Lost Sister, have Theo and Helen reunite
Evening 1: Talk to William about the Hemlocks, Take Judith’s side over River’s, talk to Theo
Night 1: Twisted Hollow, have Judith save you
Morning 2: Take William’s side in his argument with River, tell Judith you can handle yourself
Day 2: Written in Rock, save Simeon
Evening 2: Share a dance with William, share a dance with Theo
Night 2: Longest Night, have William and Theo stand by you
Morning 3: Talk to William, Judith, Theo
Day 3: whatever you want
Evening 3: Let the Hemlocks fight it out and make a truce. Talk to Judith. Talk to Theo

Path 5: All the options and all the epilogues!

Path 3 and 4 can actually be fused… well, in theory. What that will leave you with is the ability to pick whatever you want during the finale and getting to read everything after you finished it. This does require four players however, as you will need to do another thing on evening 1 which was already the bottleneck for path 4. Morning 3 is also going to be very crowded as you will need to stash four pieces of fireworks while also talking to three people… and since you start with 4 doom in play due to player count, that’s going to be tough.

Morning 1: Talk to William, Judith, Theo
Day 1: Lost Sister, have Theo and Helen reunite
Evening 1: Talk to William about the Hemlocks, Take Judith’s side over River’s, talk to Theo, talk to Simeon at the kids’ table
Night 1: Twisted Hollow, have Judith save you
Morning 2: Take William’s side in his argument with River, tell Judith you can handle yourself, talk to Simeon
Day 2: Written in Rock, save Simeon
Evening 2: Share a dance with William, share a dance with Theo
Night 2: Longest Night, have William and Theo stand by you
Morning 3: Stash fireworks, Talk to William, Judith, Theo.
Day 3: whatever you want
Evening 3: Let the Hemlocks fight it out and make a truce. Talk to Judith. Talk to Theo

3 Replies to “Best-Laid Plans: The Hemlock Residents and Paths through The Vale”

  1. Something I would be interested in (in this article or on a separate page) are all of the occasions Residents (and Allies, but these can be added to your deck permanently) can join you (by being controlled by an investigator) in a scenario. I guess, the additional accessory slot on Gideon is kind of iffy. You won’t build your deck differently based on the option to have an additional asset in play for one scenario. (It can be great for a second LCC or Rosary in play, though, if you don’t have the slot for it regularly.) And Mother Rachel’s arcane slot seems to be a red herring, or am I missing an opportunity to take control of her?

    Also, on some occasions, the investigator parleying takes control of them, while on others, you can choose somebody to do so. (Which is great, letting the person picking the asset, who makes best use of the static skill boost and/ or ability or needing the soak most desperately late in the game, while also make Alessandra do all the talking.)

    1. I actually started on going over the residents as player assets for this article, then deleted that part half-way through because i didn’t feel like it added something of substance. It’s simply not something you can really count on. Gideon being the perfect example for someone with a powerful ability, but it’s not like you can plan on it being around when building your deck even if you were to optimize your route for him.

      The only exception is Rosa, who (especially when you also follow William around) can take the role of your seeker’s ally, freeing up the slot that would otherwise be taken by Milan, Jeremiah or Gabriel.

      You are correct that you never take control of Rachel, that is a red herring.

  2. I consider Theo and (for any fighter or flex) Judith the most valuable. Getting additional actions is always worth it, even if you don’t tailor your deck to it. Slotless static skill boosts combined with some soak are also kind of unconditional. Gideon is certainly the worst, as you normally plan your deck around the slots you have available, and occasionally increasing this number doesn’t do a lot. I guess, Roland won’t complain about 2 horror soak for free. (3 at the cost of 1 relation level with Gideon.) Rosa and Helen are conditional due to them taking a slot (unless when they don’t) and in general have to be found in your deck, once you add them. Helen is particular weird, with her skill boost depending on time of the day, which probably doesn’t even exist, if you slot in a side story. Her ability and soak is always useful, but I think not enough for an ally slot.

    Another thing to maybe consider would be the boon you get from parleying with their asset side in the different scenarios. We found out too late, that taking the time for a chat during the longest night is actually worth it.

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