Frostbound Cenotaph is the fourth scenario in the Betrayal at the Mountains of Madness campaign, a player-made cycle for Arkham Horror: The Card Game.
This article contains minimal spoilers for the scenario and implicit spoilers for earlier scenarios. If you’d rather play it without any spoilers, you can find a Tabletop Simulator mod here.
“Every living thing is made up of jelly – protoplasm and minute, submicroscopic things called nuclei, which control the bulk, the protoplasm. This thing was just a modification of that same worldwide plan of Nature; cells made up of protoplasm, controlled by infinitely tinier nuclei. This isn’t wildly beyond what we already know. It’s just a modification we haven’t seen before. It’s as natural, as logical, as any other manifestation of life. It obeys exactly the same laws. The cells are made of protoplasm, their character determined by the nucleus. Only in this creature, the cell-nuclei can control those cells at will. It digested Charnauk, and as it digested, studied every cell of his tissue, and shaped its own cells to imitate them exactly.”
-John W Campbell, Who Goes There?
Into the Darkness
The race across the ice is done, and the investigators stand before their prize: the Barsmeier-Falken base camp, the only remaining evidence of a German expedition that was almost wiped out in 1933 and fled from Antarctica in disgrace. Whatever they found, it claimed the lives of over thirty men. Those secrets lie buried in an abandoned, icy complex under the snow. What lies inside those pitch black tunnels?
The investigators must explore. Parts of the base are electrically powered, so their first task is to find and restore the generator if they can. Scattered around the rooms and tunnels are strange black statues that vaguely resemble animals, utterly cold and totally immobile. Surely they must have something to do with the fate of the base personnel? Out on the ice, a petrel-like bird seemed to be following at a distance, and that same bird can be spotted here and there within the base, much too far inland. Does it have anything to do with the statues or is it yet another threat?
Frostbound Cenotaph is heavily inspired by John Carpenter’s The Thing. It’s not a direct or even vague translation of the same story, but if you want to explore an abandoned Antarctic base under a fog of fear and mistrust then this is the scenario you’re looking for. At the start of the game, the dog-like creatures are immobile and harmless, albeit threatening, but you can’t shake the feeling that they are waiting for something. The base is freezing and pitch black, and if the investigators want to find clues at locations like the South Tunnel they’re going to have to get some heat and light going.
Your companion in this scenario is William Dyer himself, professor of geology at Miskatonic University, at least until he disappeared in early 1933. The investigators have noticed that he is hiding a mythos tome, and they still don’t know exactly what he plans to do here in Antarctica. Of course, Dyer is more the leader of the expedition than a minion of the investigators, and he begins the scenario under his own control and with his own objective.
How to Play
Frostbound Cenotaph is available to play now via Tabletop Simulator