Encounter sets in this scenario: To the Forbidden Peaks, Deadly Weather, Elder Things, Hazards of Antarctica, Nameless Horrors
Available experience: 6 (locations) + 1 (Terror of the Stars) + 7 (Supplies)= 14XP
|Size of the Encounter Deck||23|
Synopsis: Following the eidolon attack from Ice and Death III, the investigators and the rest of the expedition team abandon their camp site and pack up their supplies. Their goal is the City of the Elder Things and to reach it they will have to pass the Forbidden Peaks, lugging all of their supplies with them.
Starting at the bottom of the mountain, they need to work their way to the top. The supply items they gathered during Ice and Death are now represented by asset cards that can be used, but that also need to be carried to the top (or left behind). The path up the mountain is a linear arrangement of 6 different locations, each triggering something nasty whenever someone enters them.
On their way to the summit, the group is confronted by Elder Things and of course the antarctic weather is still making things difficult. Around the midpoint of the scenario, the Terror of the Stars makes another appearance too and tries to shoo the group back down, away from their goal.
My take on this scenario: To the Forbidden Peaks follows in the footsteps of the Essex County Express, Heart of the Elders #2 and Horror in High Gear, asking the players to get through a set of locations in time. Moving on from one location to the following one requires the lower location to be cleared of clues first, so efficient clue gathering is absolutely vital here.
The doom clock is rather tight with not a whole lot of room for error and action taxes are everywhere in this scenario. Not only is there a treachery that adds more clues to the locations, but Nightmarish Vapors from the Nameless Horrors set also wants to just straight up remove actions.
Evading enemies is unlikely to work out in this scenario as the linear setup doesn’t allow much room to stay ahead of the Hunter enemies. The big boss enemy that appears mid-scenario likewise needs to be killed, at least if you plan on getting any of the supply items to the summit. Speaking of supply items, managing those is another angle where you can lose a lot of actions. Picking up any of them costs an action and there are events and treacheries that can make you lose control of them, meaning you have to waste precious time to pick them up yet again.
While this scenario is one of the few in Edge of the Earth that do not use the Ancient Evils set, it is nonetheless the one with the most pressuring doom clock. It’s a bit unfortunate then that not making it to the peak in time has very dire consequences. Not only will you lose a lot of XP that way, but you will also lose all the supply items you fought for so hard in Ice and Death. This scenario is very All Or Nothing in that way, which is actually one of my biggest gripes with the whole campaign. Do not fail Forbidden Peaks, it will leave you at a severe disadvantage that can not be made up for.
Scenario specific encounter sets: To the Forbidden Peaks uses a solid number of scenario specific cards, four treacheries and an enemy. Avalanche, Hanging on the Edge and Snowfall both try to slow down the group by wasting their actions. The Constricting Elder Thing grows more resilient the closer the group comes to the peak. Hypothermia picks up where Apeirophobia from Ice and Death left off, and threatens to add more Frost tokens to the bag.
Act/Agenda: Once more, the act only consists of one card, stating the goal of the scenario (reach the peak) and giving an ability to pick up the expedition assets. The agenda deck has two cards, with a total of 14 doom between them. Their front side has no further complications, only some rule text that makes sure that clues are removed from the game and don’t stack up forever. After the first agenda advances, the Terror of the Stars makes another appearance, forcing players to drop their expedition assets and fight it. A random crew members also dies at this point. Once the second agenda runs out, the scenario ends in defeat and any assets that have not been salvaged yet are lost forever.
Terror of the Stars: Once again, this massive monster is put into the way of the team. And while evading it and running away is a real possibility in Ice and Death, this is much less feasible here. You will very likely have to punch your way through it now. Making matters more complicated is the fact that when it appears, every investigator at its location has to drop their expedition assets. That means lost actions for picking them up again, but it also means that any of them that might have been useful in the fight (like the Dynamite or the Soapstone) are guarded by this thing now. Being aware that this happens means that you can prepare for it, at least if you aren’t playing solo. Fighting this thing is no small task, as it can dish out a lot of damage and horror and isn’t likely to go down in a turn. Evading it is possible, but that will still leave it with its other ability which pushes down anyone at its location. Which again translates to lost actions and having to go through the location triggers again. Since its fight and evade are tied to the current location level, you can lure it down to be better able to fight it. If you consider running from it instead of defeating it, you better be sure that you can manage to do so without having it catch up. Because if it does, that ability to push you down will put it right between you and your goal again. The rather limited amount of turns you have for this scenario probably doesn’t allow for such shenanigans, it’s going to be best to shoot your way past it.
Elder Things: The other enemies in this scenario besides the big one. They are all Hunters, which is a real pain considering the linear map. They also all have a rather high amount of health, which means taking them down takes multiple actions in most cases… again, sort of a pain in the context of what you are trying to do here. As with the Terror, you could evade them and try to run but i would only consider doing that if the peak is already in sight and you can be sure to make it in time. If they catch up and engage you again that’ll just mean you have to evade again and then you didn’t really gain anything over just killing them.
Tekeli-li: Unless you played Fatal Mirage already this is the first appearance of the Nameless Horrors set, which can be a huge deal if you go into this scenario with a couple Tekeli-li weaknesses already in your deck. The Elder Thing Scavenger and Guardian also play into this with their abilities trying to fast track your deck towards drawing the weaknesses. Consider bringing Danforth along to help with the impact of these cards.
Deadly Weather: Like in Ice and Death there are a lot of location based treacheries around here. However, there is a lot less room here to navigate around them, so you will be much more likely to just have to take the brunt of an Arctic Wind or Polar Vortex here. Roald Ellsworth shines in this scenario for that reason.
Locations: Except for the Summit itself, the locations all have some sort of triggered effect whenever that location is entered from below. Of course that means that being pushed down by anything (Avalanche, Terror of the Stars…) will have you go through those effects yet again. Running away from Hunter enemies is also complicated by these. All of this sort of teams up with the Tekeli-li weaknesses in this scenario to make players die a death by a thousand little cuts, by lots of small effects that are individually weak but stack up to something quite dangerous. To reveal a location, the one below has to be free from clues, making the way to progress somewhat similar to Essex Express or Heart of the Elders #2.
The Summit: The final location does actually not have to cleared from clues in order to be able to resign. Those final 3i clues only need to be discovered if you want to go for that last victory point. Also of note: On reveal, a Frost token is added to the bag. Luckily, this doesn’t repeat if you have to enter the location again, that one is truly just a one-of.
Suggested partner assets: Roald Ellsworth is an absolute all star here for his ability to ignore the Deadly Weather treacheries for a turn. While you don’t also have to handle Polar Mirage like in Ice and Death, the remaining treacheries are all so much more potent here due to the map not allowing you to dodge them.
With all of the little effects from locations and Tekeli-li weaknesses stacking up, this is another scenario where vulnerable investigators like Daisy or Roland could fall to damage or horror. If you are unsure about your survivability, consider Mala Sinha for the stamina heal or Amy/Danforth for sanity soak. Don’t bring William Dyer, he is too much of a liability here with his 1 hit point and Polar Vortex in the encounter deck.
It is possible you already did Fatal Mirage at this point. If you did, you might have someone who can use their ability as a free action. Free actions are huge in this scenario and are definitely worth taking along. This is especially true for Eliyah, who can take the pressure off of the enemies.
Danforth is a good pick if you are concerned about Tekeli-li, which feature prominently in this scenario. Claypool would only be a consideration if you already have a lot of Frost in your bag.
Reward and Failure: As mentioned before, there is a lot on the line here. 7XP from locations and the Terror, plus 1 each for the supplies. Those 7XP from the supplies have to be distributed among the team, but you’ll still make it out with 9-12XP in the end. Pretty nice haul. On top of that, you get the actual assets as well and they are all quite powerful.
However… you only get those if you reach the summit. Otherwise you will only get the XP for the locations you uncovered to that point, so around 3 to 5. Not great. Winning this scenario is absolutely crucial. Treat it like Unspeakable Oath in Path to Carcosa.