As I posted in my last list, this idea has been on my mind for a while now. For the uninitiated among us, Subtitles on cards are the little “names” beneath the actual name of the card. So, if we look at the above Charon’s Obol we can see that the subtitle is “The Ferryman’s Pay”. Most of these subtitles are quite self-explanatory and have no intention of being enigmatic. For instance, “Wolf-Man” Drew has the subtitle “The Cannibal”. That seems crystal clear to me. Drew is a ghoul that eats humans. But some of these subtitles tell a story, some of these subtitles are shrouded in mystery. They wear an enigmatic cloak, waiting to give away their secrets. So, for this week we will take on a lighter (probably less polarizing) subject and hold a magnifying glass over these puzzling subtitles.
The process for this list was quite expensive on time. Go through all the cards. After spending about 2 hours in arkhamdb and my own collection, I compiled a shortlist of 23 cards. These cards ranged from player cards to scenario rewards and from locations to enemies. The amount of cards with a subtitle exceeds well over 200 cards, but most of these are basic. They make sure you know what this enemy is or only give a name to a specific area. However, the 23 chosen cards are all quite unique. But they all have one thing in common; Their subtitle hides something. That’s why we are here this week. Let’s take a look at the 10 most diverse subtitles in the game and ponder on what they mean, where they come from and if they’re hiding exciting backstories! Let’s drop the rankings of power and frustration for this week and let us all take a gander at The Top 10 Subtitles That Pique My Curiousity:
Number 10: Pendant of the Queen
Of Nothing at All
Now I know that this subtitle clearly states that this pendant belonged to a queen who was the ruler of nothing at all. But I’m still quite intrigued by this card. Not only is it a very potent card, but the mystery surrounding this monarch is quite appealing to me. The queen had to be a real person. But if she was the queen of nothing at all, was she really a queen? Wasn’t she just a person who owned nothing, except for this single pendant and thus refered to herself as the sole queen of the pendant and only of the pendant.
Maybe she was ruler once, but her country got invaded. As the sole ruler of her country, the invaders imprisoned her. All her belonging were raided, her subjects murdered and she was incarcerated. Alone in her cell, she hold her amulet in her hand close to her heart. At least she was still a queen, nobody could take that from her, even if it was of nothing at all.
Number 9: The Black Cat
A Liar, or a Prophet, or Both
Disclaimer: The Dream-Eaters is my favorite cycle. Knowing me, that shouldn’t be shocking, since I have weird opinions. However, the Dream-Eaters sparks a certain enthusiasm in me that I rarely feel. Not to mention that the story is well written and the dialogue in it is not only engaging, but also comedical at times. The Black Cat plays a major part in this entertainment-value. How excited I was to find out that it became a player card.
But as far as subtitles this one is quite clear. We have all encountered The Black Cat. Resembling the Chesire Cat in it’s puzzling explanations, The Black Cat has deceived and guided us at the same time. The subtitle “A Liar, or a Prophet, or Both” doesn’t invoke questions having played The Dream-Eaters. No, this subtitle is only here for making me want to read more of The Black Cat. A novella fully focused on Ulthar and its cats and their adventures would be something I truly love. I could’ve put any of the cats from Ulthar here, but the Black Cat’s subtitle makes me the most curious to its backstory and its (mis)adventures.
Number 8: Olive McBride
Will Try Anything Once
Anything? This makes me wonder what she hasn’t tried yet.
Did she try to make a deal with a devil? Has she tried to summon a byakhee? Did she perform a ritual to wake a dormant Ancient One? A blood sacrifice to seal a geist?
Or is this more leisurely than I imagine?
Has she tried making a 9 course dinner for 80 people alone? Did she bungeejump while blindfolded? Running a marathon barefoot and backwards? Eating a bar of KitKat with whipcream, coffeebeans and sprinkles on top?
Olive, I hear you, you want to see the world, but “Anything” can mean “Everything” and that is a lot to do once.
Number 7: The Council’s Offer
What’s in the Box?
Number 6: The Experiment
Something Went Terribly Wrong
What the heck are these Miskatonic students up to? What happened here? Clearly, something went terribly wrong, but what? Was Harvey Walters involved? Was Dr. Milan Christopher involved? Is this an alien? Is this a student who transformed (it looks quite humanoid)? Is this a student who got fused with an extradimensional creature?
I know that, at some point, in the Dunwich Legacy some of these questions get answered. But at this point, The Experiment could be your first encounter in the Arkham Horror Universe. You thought you were just looking for a missing professor and all of a sudden this monstrosity shows up. Now you’re panicking. Save the students? Warn them? Ignore the chaos and get your professor? For all the criticisms The Dunwich Legacy gets, I do think that Extracurricular Activity invokes a strong sense of sensation and player agency. The Experiment is a great addition to this (very strong opening) scenario and it makes quite clear what Arkham is about. I would love a short story about The Experiment and, more importantly, I’d like to find out what went terribly wrong.
Number 5: Jewel of Aureolus
Gift of the Homunculi
This card is weird to me. I can’t find any connection between Aureolus and the Homunculi. For those unfamiliar, I will eloborate. Homunculi, plural of Homunculus, are a group of artificially created humans. In most cases they are created through alchemy. I am no history-expery, but I like to think that Aureolus refers to a Roman militarian general. These two don’t go well together, for me. On it’s most basic view; this would mean that a group of artificially created humans made a trinket or a necklace and then gave this to a Roman general to, just, have.
I’m not fluent in Lovecraftian lore, but if someone would be so kind as to point out what I’m missing, that would be very much appreciated. I feel like the Homunculi or some person named Aureolus should be present in one the lovecraftian stories, I’m just unfamiliar with it. Until then, this boggles my mind.
Number 4: Court of the Great Old Ones
A Not-Too-Distant Future
Is this the gathering spot for Cthulhu and friends? Does this resemble a meeting room, but then build for interstellar and extradimensional deities? Do I need to picture Nyarlathothep, Hypnos and Atlach-Nacha here with their laptops and documents out trying to figure out how to destroy the human and dream world simultaneously?
We haven’t even discussed the subtitle yet! How distant is “Not-Too-Distant”? Listen, you guys, I don’t know about you.. But 2020 has been a really crappy year. We had killer bees, forest fires, whirlwinds, a pandemic.. I really don’t want these Great Old Ones to hold a 3’o-clock meeting in their court on a Monday near Chicago. Nu-uh.
Number 3: Tetsuo Mori
Too Noble for His Own Good
Testuo Mori is the card that inspired me to make this list. Which might seem weird, seeing that he is only on number 3. Believe it or not, there are two more cards that make me curious to their lore or just feel very enigmatic to me.
Apparantly Tetsuo Mori is too noble for his own good. Which begs the question: What does that mean? What did he do? Is he the kind of person who will sacrifice himself to help others? Is he the kind of person to stand up in a crowd and say that he is Spartacus? Did something bad happen at his district and did he, willing, take the fall for it?
I hope there will be follow-up to the book “Investigators of Arkham” in which they will focus on non-investigator characters from Arkham. I can’t wait to read Tetsuo’s shortstory and find out what he did and what he lost!
Number 2: Royal Emissary
Messenger from Aldebaran
I did not know what or where Aldebaran is. All I know is that it houses a creature called Beast of Aldebaran and apparently they have a messenger who is an emissary.
These two combined tickle my curiousity.
After googling Aldebaran, I found out that apparently Aldebaran is a star. About 65 lightyears removed from our sun. Aldebaran is a star in the consellation of Taurus. Now, here is where it got really interesting to me. The actual constellation of Hyades (also referenced in the Arkham-universe) is within the constellation of Taurus. According to the lovecraftian universe, Carcosa is located in this constellation. Highly likely very closely to Aldebaran.
With all this information, my curiousity became knowledge so it might not fit on this list anymore. But it did make me google actual scientific studies, which is what “piqued curiousity” actually is.
Number 1: Dr. William T. Maleson
Working on Something Big
This card has become a bit of a meme, even though a lot people play it unironically. Which is the same for this list. From all the cards in the game, this one makes me really curious. What is Maleson working on? Apparently he has such an effect that he can “mulligan” an encounter card for the price of knowledge (a clue).
What is he researching? What scientific field is Dr. Maleson a doctor in? Is he the reason why The Experiment came to be? Norman Withers apparently found some strange stars and he became an investigator. Why isn’t Dr. Maleson one?
Remember the follow-up book I mentioned for Tetsuo Mori? That counts double for Dr. William T. Maleson. I would even love it if Dr. Maleson would become an investigator at some point!
There we go.
Thank you so much for reading the whole article. I know a lot of people skim over the article, just so they know the placements; but you who read everything, you are my target audience.
Now, I know that making highly subjective lists can invoke strong opinions within others. Which is totally fine. Everybody has an opinion, a favorite investigator or whatnot.
BUT: Just to clarify; The primary goal of these lists is to entertain. My writing style is informal, I try to include jokes and not talk as if I was writing a scientific thesis. All these things don’t mean that these lists are satirical. I stand by my lists a 100%. These are 100% my opinions. Just because you don’t agree with me, doesn’t mean that you can call me names, get rude or downright offensive.
If you don’t agree with my list or opinions, please, engage in a polite discussion.
If you, however, don’t like my lists for whatever reasons, please, refrain from commenting in a rude way. Thank you again.
PS: This is list is based on the current releases and will not be updated to include future Subtitles. The most recent release is “Devil Reef” and “Parallel Agnes Baker”.