Friday, December 28, 2012

Lovecraft by YaYa, Or, I Played Arkham Horror With My Son And Still Don't Know What Happened

I took a voyage into the Other World at my son’s house last month.  I’ve avoided this for years.  Ever since he took up role playing games and told me they’re fun, I’ve prayed for him every day and sent him Yahtzee games at Christmas.  I thought one dice game is as good as another, and maybe he could be distracted by a version without demons.
This was the largest board game I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was three feet long and two feet wide, barely fit on the dining room table, and had no fewer than three hundred game pieces and six hundred rules—twenty-seven pages of instructions.  That’s not a game.  That’s a dissertation.
My son understands all six hundred of these rules.  He spent thirty minutes giving us the condensed version and when he was done I understood two things—dynamite blows up monsters and if I went to the diner I’d get blessed.  Or get food poisoning.  It depended on what card I drew and if I could roll a five.
I got holy water on the first deal, as well as a .45 automatic.  I bought dynamite as soon as I saved up six dollars because it’s worth eight points, but I couldn’t use my gun as long as I used dynamite because somewhere in the fine print it says you have to have both hands free if you’re gonna use dynamite against monsters.  Well, that’s just stupid. I’m pretty sure if I was in a dark wood with monsters chasing me, I could light all those sticks of dynamite with matches in my teeth and shoot my Colt .45 at the same time.  I’m a mother.  I’ve carried a playpen, purse, bottles, diaper bag and a baby in one arm while unlocking the car with the other. 
Monsters are no match for a mother.
When my turn came around again, I had “the power”.  It was an elder sign which they made me pay five dollars for and which dropped me into a planet in the Hyades, which might actually be a constellation.  I think it meant I had to stay in the Great Hall of Cellulite for two days and if I made it out without cankles or high blood pressure, we could all go to bed and dream of monsters taunting us at midnight with chocolate cake.  At that point I realized I might be losing focus.
See, this is the reason I’ve never tried any of these games—I didn’t think I could stay awake through one of them. And I didn’t want my kids to play them because I was afraid they’d be drawn over to the dark side.  That concern flew out the window five years ago when my son became an Anglican priest.  I’m pretty sure Anglican priests are not living life on the dark side. It begs the question, though, of how many other Anglican priests spend Saturday nights passing a lore minus one parenthesis two check to gain four clue tokens?  I have no idea what that sentence even means, but I’m pretty sure that, like me, most Baptists would take offense to it.
My husband suddenly had the opportunity to bless me with a gate trophy and pray me out of purgatory.  I wished someone would pray me into a Starbucks.  I’d like to point out that there’s no Jesus in Arkham Horror, even though I did have a holy water card and there was a nun hiding in either the library or a stack of purple cards.  I rolled a five and then a six and won an expert occultist card.  Seriously creepy.  My daughter-in-law rolled a card that put her in a house with rats—then she rolled a speed check in order not to be lost in time and space. 
What makes people come up with these games, I wondered.  Too much to drink? Too much caffeine? A close call with meningitis?
Once again I was forced to take a turn.  I had to seal a gate which is way better than just closing a gate because now evil can never come through that gate again.  I didn’t even have to fight anything because I had the elder card.  I just had to give up one of my four sanity points and another of my six stamina points.
“I don’t see why I had to give up some of my sanity to use the elder card and seal the gate,” I complained.
“Because the elder card is messed up and full of creepy fighting with horrible creatures in the other world.  So you lose some sanity in the battle.”
“I rebuke that in the name of Jesus,” I replied. 
On the next round, strange lights appeared on campus.  The library admin building had to be closed til the end of the next turn and my son was kicked out to the streets.  I chose to fight a monster.  Then I got to beat up a cultist.  Finally something I understood—I’ve wanted to do that for years. 
Eleven thirty p.m.  Three and a half hours into the game and we started getting slap happy.  My son rolled five dice, and without even pulling out his gun card, blew up the cultist.
“Oh, look at that,” he bragged, “I took him out without even pulling out my weapons.  I kicked him and he fell over dead.”
“You sneezed and he died,” his sleepy wife offered.
“I killed his face off,” he agreed, stacking more cards and preparing for ultimate victory as we were about to seal the final gate and go to bed.  
“Can you imagine how hard it is for all the players to have enough gate trophies to defeat the giant beasties of doom?” my son summarized.
I couldn’t even come close to imagining such a thing.
“If I roll a five on my move with nine dice, he’ll be dead and we’ll all win,” he explained.
Whatever it takes to be victorious, I thought numbly.  If he rolled a six, I was gonna pull out Yahtzee.
Finally, he put me out of my misery by rolling a five and saving the world.  I guess it was an impressive roll, but since the point of the game was for all of us to be a team and wipe out the monsters together, I wound up being more impressed with my daughter-in-law than his masterful roll of a five. She saved the world, too, but she did it all with a sleeping infant in her arms.
I told you monsters are no match for mothers.



Photo courtesy of Moore Memorial Public Library's photostream
http://www.flickr.com/photos/moorelibrary/7416240950/

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