Following on the heels of my previous post, “Bridging the Gap Between Skills,” I figured I’d do a bit of reading and provide a couple examples of location encounter conversions from Arkham Horror to Dungeons & Dragons. I pulled up the AH Wiki, which is one of my favorite resources next to D&D Insider, and quickly discovered something dreadful. The icons displayed on locations are meaningless.

This might not be a surprise to some of you, and I may be jumping the gun a bit here, but after reviewing encounters at the Black Cave, which lists Common Items and Spells among its Location Icons, there are no encounters that produce either Common Items or Spells. Hold on a moment before you jump on that statement.

There is exactly one encounter in the Black Cave that produces a Common Item.

We’re talking about the basic game. Now, let me tell you about this encounter. You roll a Luck (+0) check, and if you get two or more successes, you gain a Common Item. This is the only encounter out of seven that produces a Common Item, at a location that indicates a chance for Common Items and Spells. There are no encounters that give you Spells. None at all. Zero. The location icons are a lie.

The very next expansion, The Curse of the Dark Pharaoh, fixes this problem by including three encounters that provide Spells and two that provide Common Items. But the damage has already been done. The game’s iconography can’t be trusted. How does something like that go overlooked? Will I find similar problems at other Arkham encounter locations? Should I trust any of the location icons?

If the locations don’t actually provide items that correspond to their icons, what exactly is a location like the Black Cave for? I’ve long joked that the Black Cave is one of the worst places on the board to go unless you’re immune to being delayed. Little did I know how accurate that statement actually was. Most of the encounters sap your Stamina and Sanity, and they offer nothing in return.

The Black Cave (in the core game) is a waste of time and space.

Now that I have an idea of exactly what I’m up against, I’m going to approach the conversion of these encounters a little differently. First of all, I will never use these encounters outside of Arkham Horror with the intent of using them in accordance with their location icons. If that sounds too specific to mean anything, I’m not exaggerating.

Second, I’m not going to feel the slightest bit of angst for completely and totally rebalancing location encounters from the ground up. Even if this is the only instance of imbalance in the entire game, it’s significant. It’s a joke. I already had problems with how random the game’s mechanics made encounters and progress, and now I know that’s because it’s broken. There might as well be no location icons.