Encounter sets in this scenario: The Bayou, Curse of the Rougarou
Available experience: 3 (locations) + 1 (Dark Young Host) = 4XP in total
Cost to run this as a side scenario: 1 XP
|Size of the Encounter Deck
|33 (28 + 5 Surge)
Synopsis: The players start out in a small map that only spans 3 locations. After some very basic clue getting which should easily be doable in a turn or two, the map triples in size though. This is also when the encounter deck is brought to full size and the titular Rougarou (basically a werewolf) enters play. At the same time, the lead investigator suddenly finds themselves under a curse that chips away at their sanity if they don’t damage something every turn. The players are faced with two options: Either hunt down the Rougarou and kill it, breaking the curse. Or embrace the curse and become the Rougarou yourself. The first option entails hunting the creature through the swamp. It has aloof, engaging it costs clues and damaging it will send it fleeing. So the enemy isn’t actively hunting you – it’s actually running away, forcing players to deal with the dangers that come from the locations and from the enemies in the deck. Choosing the second option sends the players on a scavenger hunt, trying to get the right mix of clues, story assets and location effects to complete the ritual.
My take on this scenario: Curse of the Rougarou is a rather simple and easy scenario when compared to the other standalones. Especially when the players just go for killing the creature, it becomes apparent that todays card pool has outgrown the challenge of the Rougarou a bit. Thanks to all the ways we have these days to deal 3, 4 or even more damage in one swing, it’s often possible to kill the beast in just a few swings, minimizing its ability to move around the bog. Going on the scavenger hunt to piece together all the things needed to take the curse on yourself is a bit more involved and can be more of a challenge for sure. There are some really nasty tests on some of those locations and managing the resource and horror costs on the locations also becomes a more prominent feature of the scenario then.
What i like about Curse of the Rougarou is that it’s a side scenario that can be done early in a campaign because it’s not too difficult, giving a couple bonus XP and access to pretty great story ally. I rarely go for the Monstrous Transformation, though. While it is powerful for sure, it usually ends up either going against what i want to do with my investigator (dropping will to 2 on a Mystic isn’t fun…) or feeling cheap and cheaty (when it’s all upside like on Preston).
When you start this scenario, be aware that choosing your lead investigator means that you also choose who gets to bear the curse weakness. Ideally, that should be someone who is actually able to hurt enemies, otherwise that’s going to be a massive drain on your sanity. Of course, if you want to earn the Monstrous Transformation, that one will also go to the lead investigator in the end, so consider that right from the start.
The Bayou: This encounter set includes two different enemies that are both not terribly difficult to handle. More importantly, it has treacheries that test willpower, agility and intellect while introducing a solid chunk of damage (and also a bit of horror) to the deck.
Curse of the Rougarou: The enemies from this set are a much bigger deal than those from The Bayou. One of them is even a victory enemy that puts up a solid fight. The treacheries all deal with the Rougarou in some way, either moving it around, giving it stat bonuses or making it attack out of order.
Act/Agenda: There’s nothing too special happening here. The act deck advances early to the second and final act that presents the two ways to finish the scenario and that makes the Rougarou drop clues whenever it moves about. Meanwhile, the agenda deck has three cards with doom thresholds that total up to 19 doom across them. Advancing the agendas has no surprise twists, just extra movement for the creature and a reshuffling of encounter cards.
Notable enemies: The first thing to mention is of course the The Rougarou itself. It has moderate fight and evade values, but at 5 health per investigator it can take a beating. With 2 damage and 2 horror each, it hits hard, but will only attack through its Retaliate ability or when the investigator who engaged it fails to deal enough to damage to trigger the flee ability or when one of the two copies of Beast of the Bayou is drawn from the encounter deck. Players who plan on taking it down will have a much easier time doing so if they have hard hitting attacks available. Being able to get past Aloof without having to spend actions to engage is incredibly helpful as well, no matter if it’s Spectral Razor, Marksmanship or Righteous Hunt.
The other notable enemy is Dark Young Host and since it’s the single victory point that is hiding in the encounter deck the players will hope to encounter it eventually. It hits just as hard as the Rougarou and has a higher fight value, so in some ways it can even be more dangerous. It is weak against evasion, though. So that is a viable way to stop it from getting a hit in. Since it doesn’t have Hunter, this can even park the Dark Young until the fighter finds the time to dispose of it properly. As a final note, the Dark Young Host is not an Elite, so feel free to Waylay.
The rest of the enemies isn’t too bad. The ones from the Curse set are both Hunters with more than 2 health, so they aren’t trivial. But not something we haven’t seen many times over already. One thing that almost all enemies in the deck share is that they come with Spawn instructions, which means that even when a vulnerable Seeker draws an enemy, there’s a good chance they don’t even have to engage it and can put it somewhere more convenient instead. Of course, someone will have to deal with the enemies eventually, the scenario has you backtrack a lot.
Notable treacheries: A few things are worth mentioning here. For one, Cursed Swamp and Ripples on the Surface are treacheries that deal damage/horror equal to the points failed on a willpower test. So low willpower investigators are going to have a hard time with that, as there are 3 copies of each of them. At the same time, Dragged Under is another damage treachery (that comes with 4 copies) and tests agility, another thing that can easily become an issue for certain investigators.
Building on that is Beast of the Bayou, which gives The Rougarou a free attack against anyone at its location or adjacent to it. Considering how hard the werewolf hits and that Beast of the Bayou can hit multiple investigators, that’s potentially a huge issue. There’s only two of them in the encounter deck, so it’s going to come as a surprise more often not. Consider keeping a cancel handy for this card.
Notable locations: Except for the three victory locations, locations in this scenario do not have any clues on them. For clues, the players mostly have to investigate the trail left behind whenever the Rougarou moves. Instead, the locations either work towards providing the tools to get the second objective done (which includes things like willpower and/or agility tests against difficulty 7) or towards dealing horror and costing resources. Note that the horror effects are not to be underestimated and can easily overtake the damage focus on the treachery cards and turn sanity into the number to most care about (especially since the Curse of the Rougarou weakness also chips at the lead investigators sanity).
There is some randomization involved: There are 4 sets with 3 locations each. Of those, only 3 sets are used. This mostly impacts the route where you want to inherit the curse. If your plan is killing the beast, this randomization is much less relevant.
Rewards: For finishing the scenario, up to 4XP are awarded, leaving players with up to 3 extra experience when taking the cost to start the scenario into account. Depending on which resolution the players picked, there are also different cards that are awarded. Killing the Rougarou will add Lady Esprit to any players deck, an expensive but powerful ally that can either soak a ton of horror or turn that extra sanity into resources or healing.
Embracing the curse will instead add Monstrous Transformation to the lead investigator’s deck. Aside from its gamebreaking (or at least gamebending) effect for Calvin, Preston and Amanda, this can be a huge boon for many other investigators, too. Having a repeatable 2 damage attack and the stats to use it makes it very powerful. At the same time, the player will also have to permanently add the Curse of the Rougarou weakness to their deck and the constant drain on sanity can certainly a problem for some investigators.
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