The title of this post was the working title of another, which instead became “Arkham Horror Versus Dungeons and Dragons.” You can see artifacts of the original post there, and perhaps the vague intentions I had for continuing in that vein. Then I had an idea to make this a post in its own right.

Reading over someone’s shoulder, I read a bit of an article about migration and resettlement, and that got me thinking back on Dwarf Fortress and the seasonal arrival of immigrants to a fortress. It got me thinking about why people might leave their homes, and I recalled the effects of Arkham Horror’s terror level.

Each time the terror level increases, a random ally is removed from the game, until soon there are no more allies for investigators to find. Now, this is one of those rules that’s been difficult to enforce in the past because either the terror level rarely increased, or players rarely gained allies often enough for it to matter.

Closing shops is easy enough, since they tend to have a more significant impact on the game, but removing allies seems trivial and almost an afterthought. Still, the idea of the terror level causing the citizens of Arkham to pack up and leave is present, regardless of how it happens to be reflected in the rules.

And that was how I concluded the new effects of the terror level. If the terror level is maxed out, the game is over because there’s no one left to save. The city has been abandoned. No more of this, “the city is overrun with monsters” malarkey. The forces of darkness will overwhelm the investigators, who are few in number.

There are two levels to follow, and both are equally important, equally deadly. The investigators must fight the forces of the mythos without allowing too many civilians to get caught in the crossfire, or allowing too much of their activities to come to light, for the people of Arkham are the reason the investigators fight.

Without someone to protect, why should they fight?

Of course, there are other motivations for investigators to continue the fight despite being abandoned to their fates by the majority of the populace, but then you’re delving into something else, something far more powerful. Individual characters might have motivation to continue, but not all of them — not as a general rule, no.

Unique characters, true heroes — they stay to fight.

And that’s when the final battle begins.