Chance in Hell: An Introductory AAR to the Occult Chronicles

Good point; I was being lazy about not explaining that. I believe the number of tricks and draw size are determined simply by the difficulty of the particular encounter; someone correct me if I’m wrong. If you win a trick, you earn the total value of the two cards. Number cards are worth one each, so beating a 5 with a 6-10 nets you two points.

I have edited post #4 to include the explanation from the rules.

Thanks. Which certainly proves that I had actually read the manual.

Thanks Vic for clarifying. You should probably clarify that line in the manual. I’ve done bunches of run throughs and always went upstairs first. Which (along with my general strategy suckage) probably explains why I’m among those who have found this game quite difficult.

Thanks, fixed.

Great idea. Can you spell out the specific build choices for this guy (maybe in the main OC thread)? It would be great to see the various builds that people are trying.

Absolutely. Once you get used to the various mechanics there’s a ton of gameplay here. I’d also love to see an editor so users can create their own missions, but that’s probably beyond the capabilities of the Adobe Director and beyond Vic’s time constraints.

Maybe for the expansion Vic? Please?

After Action Report.

I wish but with the way I built the map generator it would be tough…and the big issue is importing the image tiles and then creating the data for them i.e. which walls can have doors, which sub locations can be accessed etc. My original idea was to take a page from the way Cliff Harris at positech did his challenges with Gratuitous Space Battles and let players have a tool set that they could use to construct a mansion with a mission and then post it on line as a challenge. So I spent some time seeing if I could build an editor and realized that I was in way over my head and fell back on plan B which was the procedural generation. That was a lot easier because I had already done a lot of work for the maps on AE and SI and had developed a lot of genetic algorithm stuff for doing that. When the map is built for this game it has an architectural template but then it creates multiple versions and the tests them for “fitness” then takes the good parts and mixes them up and repeats the test cycle.

Number of tricks and number of card draws at the beginning of an encounter is set by the encounter data and your attributes. Often there is a base level of say 1 and then your attribute is added to that but there are other factors. There are modifiers for which floor you are on and the difficulty setting. The bonuses from items or edges is added then on top of that.

Norfolk N. Chance, soldier in a trench coat, finds his Remington Shotgun itching to be used. Every encounter so far has precluded that. Perhaps that will soon change.

He enters the Organ room, immediately encounters another zombie, and promptly loses the ‘resist the horror’ challenge. This results in a drop of two to Chance’s already-challenged sanity. Time to use the Remington, baby.

The base difficulty of 9 is modified way down to just 1, making this eminently winnable. [Note: I’m not sure how the modifier gets to 8, as the swords skill for combat is only at 4. Perhaps Vic or someone can explain].

The reward amounts to a single expertise token which we again put into building toward another point in the Swords stat.

Chance ventures further into the room. A chandelier falls from the ceiling, but he successfully evades it with nary a scrape.

And then, from one darkened corner of the dank room comes the sound of music:

After the resist attempt, Chance has four options: attack the organ, use sorcery, start a psychic duel, or try to communicate with the organ. Although he spends a lot of time at home communicating with his own organ, here he opts for brute force:

The target is 8, but our draw of six cards yields some potential winners:

Four face cards and three tricks to be won, with a goal of eight. Let’s dive in:

Damn! shouts Chance as the cards are flipped over. A lowly Ace of Swords cannot be won, as we have no swords. The Ace of Pentacles is easily won, but there’s no way to win the King of Pentacles. Thus the challenge is lost, and penalties await:

A hit to health. Chance’s base stats now stand at 10 health and 10 sanity. Still relatively healthy and sane… but for how long? Two more such battles are for naught, although no penalties reveal themselves.

So rather than continuing the battles, our intrepid hero attempts to communicate with the organ, and is successful:

This results in a quest card, which I will not show to minimize plot spoilers.

His ego ruffled by his inability to slay the chatty organ, Norfolk N. Chance moves further up the hallway on the first floor.

A grand dining room, a conservatory, a collapsed room to the north, and two rooms with objects that capture his attention. Which way to go? Decisions, decisions…

Regarding the difficulty modifier drop, I just tested it on my end. Apparently when you have a shotgun you can use the “shotgun blast” choice in combat scenarios that drastically drops the point total needed for it. You can find it if you click on the shotgun and mouse over the choice at the bottom of the card.

Thanks, that’s precisely what I’d used. So it either simply adds 4 to the regular combat modifier, or doubles the regular combat modifier.

As Norfolk mulls his options, a pendulum suddenly swings out of the darkness, and he fails to step aside in time:

His health is now down to 8.

Chance opens a door to the room due north, where the floor has collapsed and a plank covers a gap.

Chance has a simple choice: walk or run across the plank. Both present difficult challenges. He chooses to run, and quickly fails, falling into the basement below:

Now dear reader, you may know by now that the basement level of the mansion is the hardest of all the floors of the house. Thus it may be incumbent upon our hero to make haste and return to the first floor. But even leaving the room into which he has fallen proves difficult, and Chance now finds himself firmly in hell:

It is the toughest challenge that he has faced thus far. In fact, he can’t even pronounce it.

Chance fails to resist the Abomination’s horror, but suffers no penalties. Now he has four options, all of which are difficult: attack, use sorcery (both which have targets of 10 points), flee or use shotgun blast. We opt for the latter. The target is 8.

Unbelievably, we win the round – albeit by the skin of Chance’s pearly white teeth:

The King of Wands topped the 9 of Wands for six points, and miraculously we drew an 8 of Pentacles to top the 7 in the final trick, giving us an additional two points. Now hopefully we’ll get a decent reward:

We draw two reward picks, and one of them is actually a decent item: courage.

Courage is fuel-type mechanic, as explained in the manual:

After the results phase has finished, if you have revealed any ammo, charge or courage cards then you will need to distribute them amongst your items. A dialogue box appears that shows you the current card being distributed and a list of items that can be ‘reloaded.’ You must click the claim button to proceed to the next result card to be distributed or to finish this last part of the results phase. Excess ammo, charge or courage that is not distributed is LOST.

We apply those two points toward our Critical Hit ability, which can be used in combat.

Chance may be emboldened by the victory over the Abomination, but he still has no desire to stay in the wretched basement, and continues search for stairs that lead upward.

In one room, a clue appears:

The note was found at a dead end, and after reading it Chance turns back, only to be slashed by acid. The difficulties of this lower level are abundant, and he fails to evade the acid. It stings and cuts his health, quite literally, in half:

Norfolk N. Chance, soldier-for-hire, is now in deep Cthulu. He is stuck in the most dangerous level of the mansion, his health is dangerous low, and he is sweating profusely underneath his trench coat.

But – as he would be quick to remind you – the trench coat never comes off.

Good luck getting out of there alive. So far every trip I’ve taken to the basement has been my undoing.

Cheers to Tylertoo and his fantastic AARs!

Yeah, wow. You just sold me on this, that’s for sure. I love all Vic’s unique take on games, and this looks great.

What determines whether or not you can use the shotgun in a given encounter?

It seems like this is the sort of game where you could have a pool of cards in reserve to “cheat” with, for instance, to use when you don’t draw the right suit. Then you would have to balance using this precious resource versus the danger/potential reward of the encounter. I gather there are some ways to manipulate your card draw, but I get the impression that success or failure is is very typically completely determined by the card draw.

Every gun in the game needs ammo for you to use it or its special ability during combat. You can sometimes find ammo as a reward for completing a challenge.

Once you get into the mid and late game, your success starts to be determined more about your ways to manipulate the card game instead of just about your stats. In my latest game I went with a heavy psychic build and any enemy that I can use my powers on, I can just reach the trick point total in combat without needing to use the cards in my hand.

When we last left our hero, Norfolk N. Chance had fallen through a rotted floor into the nasty dungeon of the mansion. He realizes he needs to get back to the first floor, as the nasties that inhabit the basement are far too powerful to take on.

Down on hallway, he comes upon a large cavern. The room has four other doors, and Chance finds himself wondering if any of the flour might lead to back to the first floor. Yet his health is down to four, and he continues sweating profusely under the trench coat. Should he venture in?

“Discretion is the better part of valor,” he remembers his father once telling him. “To hell with that, Pops,” he mutters under his breath, and promptly makes his way inside.

Carefully opening each, he finds that the four doors lead to a number of small caves. In one he meets – and quickly dispatches – another group of zombies. But just after congratulating himself on that victory, Chance chances upon a far more ominous creature.


After failing to resist the horror, Chance faces three choices: attack, flee, or try a shotgun blast. He can’t quite imaging how a shotgun blast would decimate Jell-O, so he opts for an attack.

The odds are not good. The target is 6, but there’s only one trick to win to achieve that, with a draw of four. It does not go well. The single trick card is a Pentacles, which is not represented among the four draw cards, so the battle is lost immediately.

Chances muses that perhaps he should have heeded his father’s advice and stayed out of the cavern room. But then again, he never forgave his father for the name Norfolk, which apparently was some kind of inside joke.

The penalty cards are like a knife to his heart. Literally. Chance’s health is now down to 3. He must quickly find a way out of the dungeon with as few encounters as possible.

Problem is, he’s still stuck. In the friggin’ Jello.

One more encounter with gelatinous cube. And it won’t be pretty, Chance realizes. He must hit a target of 7 by winning a single trick card, and by only drawing three.

His shotgun is out of ammo, and could be of no use. Chance wins the trick but only with two points, far short of the target. Penalties await.

Norfolk N. Chance, macho adventuring soldier-for-hire, finds his breath being sucked out of him by a Jell-O cube. And lime flavored, to boot. This is not how he expected to go.

His life flashes before his eyes. He remembers being forced to eat Jell-O as a kid. He remembers his mother, baking a bourbon bundt cake each day and polishing off the bourbon. He remembers discovering his father’s secret stash of high heeled shoes. He remembers…

He’s losing his mind.

Then, suddenly, the green gelatinous cube promptly explodes, perhaps under the weight of Chance’s lifetime of disappointments, and our hero finds himself still standing in the dungeon cavern, green slime dripping from his flat nose.

Exhausted, depressed, Chance pushes on through the dungeon, and he wonders why he got into the private eye business in the first place. “I coulda been a dentist,” he mutters to himself.

Thanks for this awesome AAR.

I think I’ll let this game percolate a little longer before I return, but am looking forward to it.

Cthulu has possessed my browser, or I’m just doubleposting due to some moral failure of my own.

I for one, would like to welcome Belouski’s doppelganger to Qt3 and note as an aside, my flesh probably tastes awful and I am also totally poisonous.

Probably? You don’t sound convinced. May require testing…have heard Kiwis are tasty.

Trudging through the mansion’s dungeon, desperate and covered still in Jell-O, Chance comes upon an abomination far worse than the gelatinous cube:

Yes, Norfolk N. Chance is very afraid. He never expected to be so easily bested by the horrors of the mansion. He had not even begun to explore the entire first floor, let alone the mysteries of the upper levels. He wonders if he’ll see daylight again.

Chance’s initial attempt to resist the horror is easily lost, and he teeters on the grip of utter insanity:

Chance’s health hovers at 3, his sanity at four, and he is about to do battle with the vile Rathgulkar.

Here are the odds of the three options he faces:

Decisions, decisions…

Make it for mac and I’m in!

The odds of all three choices with which to battle the vile creature are not good, but the last one seems remotely winnable. So shotgun blast it is. We hope for a hearty draw.

Not a single face card among them. The odds just got longer.

And failure it is. Time to draw penalty cards. Chance’s chances of surviving are slim to none.

Two health points lost. He’s down to a single point, and will once again battle the abomination.

Again he tries a shotgun blast, and the draw is equally lame:

The defeat comes quickly.

Chance exhales his final breath as blood oozes from the wounds and his bowels expel.


Or wait – is this a dream? Is he really dead?

Norfolk N. Chance, soldier-for-hire, finds himself back where he began, starting anew in the dangerous sliver of existence known simply as


Is this the appropriate venue for me to pontificate on how, while I have never read a Lovecraft book, I find the CoC setting and mythos surprisingly compelling? No? Well, I’m looking forward to checking this out anyway.