Cthulhu Wars. The Cuban exodus, the escape from the Moon and the collapse of reality

Chaos erupts in Arkham.

Bubastis: Alex Isabelle
Crawling Chaos: Luca Giannini
Sleeper: Davide Guglielmi

Somewhere in the world a game of Arkham Horror, one of Mansions of Madness and another of Mythos Tales end badly. The cult of the Sleeper of N'kai, also known as Tsathoggua, flourishes in Arkham and spreads throughout North America, while that of the Crawling Chaos, Nyarlathotep, explodes in China. This alarms the population of Earth cats, who go to council on the Moon to decide what to do. With all due respect to Randolph Carter, Doctor Armitage, and the other humans who have tried in vain to prevent the coming of these nightmarish creatures, the situation is now out of control and the future of the Earth is sealed: all that awaits us is open war between these two cults and the cats to decide the fate of the planet.

A late premise: the writer takes great pride in having theorized, five years ago, that the long story in which the "space cats" debuted, namely The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, was a fake, and despite all this time has not changed his opinion. Seeing that one of the most recent expansions of the game, and one of the most hated, presents the cats as a playable faction, however, I found it necessary to impose myself and ask to control it, to make peace with that rubbish story and thus celebrate the more questionable (presumed) side of Lovecraft's production.

The cult of Crawling Chaos is rampant. Yet, the cats observe.
The cult of Crawling Chaos is rampant. Yet, the cats observe.

It's war, we said. It opens with some Chinese cultist moving to Europe, while some North American goes to South America. Cats, however, leap from the Moon en masse and sweep across North America, South America, Australia, Antarctica, Europe and Asia. A somewhat random placement, which however allows the beasts to study the situation in depth and benefit from it (read: they have unlocked some powers).

By itself, the presence of these cats near the summoning portals of the two cults is not a problem: they cannot be captured (smart, the cats), but they cannot even take control of the portals in question (fools, the cats). Nonetheless, the cult of Nyarlathotep protects itself by having two nightgaunts jump out of its portal in China. They are faceless creatures with bat-like wings that Lovecraft claimed to have dreamed of following the death of his grandmother, and who curiously appear for the first time, in literature, precisely in that story of dubious origin mentioned above... but let's not digress. The cult of the Sleeper does the same: in South America the cultists from Arkham equip themselves with not one but two "Wizards", and here the quotation marks are a must because they are poor people fused in a symbiotic relationship with species of gargoyles, or so I understand, at least, by looking at their thumbnails. I have no idea the reasons behind that name. The fact is that shortly afterwards a serpent man also appears in North America. It is a mysterious subject, always at the service of the Sleeper, capable of changing his physical appearance and defending the Arkham portal. Even cats equip themselves with reinforcements: a Cat from Mars actually lands on the Moon.

The "American question" in all its splendor.
The "American question" in all of its splendor.

The war is preparing but has yet to get to the heart of things, and so the cultists of the Crawling Chaos open a portal in Europe, after which some of them leave China to go among the creoles of the Mascarene Islands, in the Indian Ocean, and there found a further cult sect, opening a new portal. In short, we are at the beginning of the game and the cult of Nyarlathotep already has three portals: it would be a good time to realize that perhaps the Crawling Chaos is a problem to manage, but the cult of the Sleeper and the cats don't do that, preferring to fight between of them. As a result, the serpent man who previously appeared in Arkham is seen chasing a cosmic cat active in those parts, ridiculing himself without achieving any success twice in a row. The third attempt will be the good one: the cat will be captured, probably killed badly, and at least we will never hear about it again.

The next round the tactical placements continue: a "Wizard" and a Tsathoggua cultist move from North America to Cuba, while another big cat lands on the Moon, coming from Saturn, then flying to the base of the Nyarlathotep cult in Indian Ocean, perhaps with the aim of kidnapping the Creole cultists, in whose defense however a hunting horror intervenes from China. This is an other creature born in that apocryphal tale over there... Which makes me realize that even the faction of Crawling Chaos, in this game, was entirely based on The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Whatever: more Crawling Chaos cultists move to Africa, where they open a new portal. A new cat is soon born on the Moon, destined to take the place of the one eliminated in Arkham, while, still on the satellite, the latest type of cosmic cat, coming from Uranus, finally lands. Since the weather is bad, the cultist responsible for the Tasthouggua portal in Arkham goes into a "cursed sleep": he is no longer seen around, he is reported missing and both he and his portal will be untraceable until the next turn.

Nyarlathotep emerges in Africa. The cats observe but begin to meow in concern.
Nyarlathotep emerges in Africa.
The cats observe but begin to meow in concern.

It's not clear what the cultist in question does, but when he shows up again, a new serpent man appears in South America. It would be important news if it weren't for the fact that the cult of Crawling Chaos succeeds in its aim and attracts global attention: Nyarlathotep is summoned in Africa. He immediately moves, in the company of a cultist, to Arkham, home of the cult of the Sleeper, where he begins to hold conferences (the writer supports the original version of the character, that is, a black boy who travels around the world and holds apocalyptic sermons, not that senseless tentacled blob inspired, once again, by that apocryphal tale). The cult of Tsathoggua starts tinkering with its rituals to speed up the evocation of its great ancient, but time runs fast. In the meantime, another thousand-year-old creature appears on the Moon: the goddess Bastet, lady of cats, who, in the company of a big cat from Uranus, in turn moves to North America.

The "Arkham meeting", just before representatives of the Sleeper of N'kai slipped away to Cuba.
The "Arkham meeting",
just before representatives of the Sleeper of N'kai
slipped away to Cuba.

The conditions for making a good battle royale are all there, except that the Crawling Chaos presents the cult of the Sleeper and Bubastis with one of its terrible enigmas: a die is thrown, which obviously lands on a 6: either the two factions will agree on how divide a total expense of 6 power points (a lot, especially in the middle of the turn and between two players) or the cult of Nyarlathotep will earn the 6 points in question. The two factions are unable to find a solution, and as a result the Crawling Chaos emerges enormously strengthened. The Tsathoggua man decides that it is better to leave the place, and the latter's entire North American administration flees to Cuba. From here on it will never set foot in its native Arkham again: however, an other serpent man will be summoned in the South America. Bastet and the Uranus cat, however, at this point put their plan into action: they kidnap Nyarlathotep and his follower present in North America, projecting them directly onto the Moon. If they want to leave there they will have to pay toll in Bubastis.

The battle between Bastet and Nyarlathotep moves to the Moon.
The battle between Bastet and Nyarlathotep
moves to the Moon.

The cult of Crawling Chaos is not impressed: from the portal in Africa emerges a further hunting horror, which doesn't seem like a problem for Bubastis either: Bastet and the Uranus cat return to the Moon, where they face Nyarlathotep and his cultist, with the the aim to eliminate the great ancient one together with the other cats already present on the site. If successful, the cult of Crawling Chaos would be crippled, at least for a while.

The clash, however, results in carnage for the cats: Nyarlathotep manages to summon two hunting horrors from the Earth, who participate in the fight and allow their god to survive the battle. Bastet is killed, as are all the other cats there. After this disaster Bubastis and the Sleeper have no way to do anything: Nyarlathotep returns to Earth, in Africa, while his cultist descends from the Moon and returns to Arkham, taking control of the portal vacated by the Tsathoggua cultists who fled to Cuba.

Having reached this point, Bubastis and the Sleeper understand that it is better not to break each other's balls and try to form a common front against the Crawling Chaos, which however is now unstoppable: crap continue to come out of its portals, such as a "flying polip" from the portal in North America, whose coming slightly anticipates a further general hallucination on the part of the God of a Thousand Forms: once again Nyarlathotep asks for a sacrifice of points from the other two factions, which is not satisfied because both sides are busy getting back into conditions to resist, symbolically, at least one more round. Bastet is summoned to the Arctic, after which she travels to Asia, where she again abducts the local forces of the Crawling Chaos cult. The cultists of Tsathouggua instead manage to summon a formless creature in their new capital Cuba. But at dawn of the new day it is clear that Nyarlathotep's dominion over the entire planet is now a done deal. Distorted and transfigured by the drooling cult of billions of human beings, reduced in turn to cultists without identity, reality collapses into a universe of pure madness.

The scorekeeper at the end of the game. It went badly, there's little to say.
The scorekeeper at the end of the game.
It went badly, there's little to say.

The game thus ends with a brutal victory for the Crawling Chaos, who by carrying out a ritual of annihilation (I swear, that's what they're called) doubles the already monstrous quantity of points obtained by controlling an unlikely quantity of portals. Bubastis, with a clear acceleration, manages to put aside several points and stops in second position, with an enormous gap both from Nyarlathotep and from the Sleeper of N'kai (which was, besides, never summoned: we see that they call it "sleeper" for a reason). A bitter ending that calls for revenge, also because, at least as far as I'm concerned, I understood how to play the cats only on the way back home, after the game was over. There will be opportunities to take revenge.

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Bastet's descent into Asia.

Cuba.

Tsathouggua grunts sleepily.

Bubastis' card at the end of the game.

The Crawling Chaos' card at the end of the game.

The Sleeper's card at the end of the game.


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