I’ve Never Experienced A Board Game Quite Like Gloomhaven

(Before you begin your journey reading this week’s letter, I highly suggest you listen to the letter in its entirety. You’ll appreciate it later, I assure you.) 😀

Over the course of the last two years, Kacey and I have been playing Gloomhaven with our fellow band of misfits, Matt and Mariah. Every week, we spend 4 hours or more at each other’s house just hardcore nerding out about this board game. We consume copious amounts of cookies that Mariah makes, which are to die for,  and random hard seltzers that are hiding in Matt and Mariah’s fridge.

Ask me two years ago, and I would’ve scoffed at the idea of playing any type of board game. I’ve got a computer that can take a rocket ship to the moon. Why would I want to waste my time playing games like Monopoly or Candyland?

Little did I know, Gloomhaven was entirely different. 

For those unfamiliar with Gloomhaven, this is the type of board game that requires a dedicated group of people. There are over 100 scenarios, aka levels, each taking 2-3 hours with a group of 4. There are multiple expansions for the game, fanmade and official, with more in the works. You’ve got a player leveling system, 20+ different characters all having multiple ways to play them, and an array of items to unlock and buy to spice up your gameplay. 

It’s hardcore. I love it. 

I can’t tell you how much fun playing this game with Matt and Mariah has been. 

Two years have gone by now, but thankfully, the end is not in sight. To my calculations, we’ve got a good 30 years yet to finish all of the expansions for the game. And a blood oath that was made stating we’d have to play games as a group forever. So. I hope everyone is buckled up for our long adventure together.

Because of our little nerdy adventures together, I was inspired this week to write a little short story about Gloomhaven using the current characters we’ve created. 

Enjoy!

Brick and The Black Barrow

Meet Brick. 

brick

Don’t let his appearances fool you. He seems like an intimidating fellow, but he’s quite the teddy bear once you get to know him. He likes long walks on the beach, screaming obscenities into the night sky, and drinking heavily with his equally intimidating, but ultimately jolly, band of mercenary misfits. 

You can almost always find this gentle stone giant regaling past battles fought and the glory he’s won at the Sleeping Lion Inn. 

That just so happens to be where our story begins. 

It was just another night for Brick and the patrons of the Sleeping Lion Inn. There Brick was, standing on a tavern table, barely keeping his balance, and touting about the time he killed a den of dangerous Drakes with nothing but a blade of grass and a handful of sand; A story the patrons have heard many times over. 

“Brick found lady crying outside Gloomhaven gates. Asked her, what wrong? She told Brick her husband went to Dagger Forest to collect herbs. He never returned. Brick offered to find husband because Brick is good Brick. Brick walked 20 miles to Dagger Forest. Uphill. Alone. In dark. 

Spent hours walking, Brick found husband in bush. Mangled and torn limb from limb. Head gone. Blood soaked forest floor. 

One thing in Dagger Forest do that.

Drakes.

Luckily, Brick know Drake Nest. Not far from dead husband. 

Brick forgot weapon at camp, so Brick did what good Brick do.

Brick grabbed sharpest grass blade, and handful of sand. 

Roaring at top of Brick lungs, Brick charged into Drake Nest–

The tavern door swung open, interrupting Brick’s tale of victory. 

The patrons froze.

At the door stood a terrifying creature. 

A Harrower.

the harrower

These creatures are shunned from society. The belief of locals is that they bring death and decay to anything it touches. A bad omen. 

Seeing one in Gloomhaven? This couldn’t be good news. 

A patron stuttered, “A ha-ha-harrower. Wha-What are y-you doing here?”

The Harrower pointed and hissed, “Briiiick”.

Brick, in his drunken stupor, yelled at the Harrower. “Hey, smelly bug man! You ruined Bricks story!”

The Harrower, sneered. “Call me Jeff Jr.”. Then, in a flash, he lifted his hands and conjured a green, thick mist that covered the entire tavern paralyzing every patron inside. 

Being that Brick was made of stone, the mist had no effect on him. 

Brick, standing on the tavern table, sobered up immediately. He threw his mug of ale at the floor in a dramatic fashion, sent out a fierce Cragheart roar, and charged at Jeff Jr..  

Jeff Jr. responded quickly to Brick’s charge and shot a cloud of gnats at Brick, blocking his vision and sending him tumbling into a nearby table. 

Roaring in a fit of rage, Brick hurled a broken chair at Jeff Jr., connecting with his head, knocking him off balance. 

As Brick charged to tackle Jeff Jr. to the floor, something appeared from the mist stopping him dead in his tracks. 

Out of the shadows appeared an Aesther, holding an ethereal sword to the neck of Brick.

dread pirate roberts

“Make one more move and you’re dead” the Aesther growled. 

Brick not one to surrender, suddenly shot out a dust storm from his body, blinding the Aesther and Jeff Jr. 

The Aesther swung blindly, just missing Brick. 

With the dust storm raging, Brick with brute-like force, threw a tavern table at the Aesther and Jeff Jr. pinning them both against the wall. 

As the dust settled, and the mist subsided, Brick walked over to the two attackers, demanding answers.

“Talk. Now. Or Brick sends chair through heads!”

The Aesther begrudgingly answered,

“We were hired to kill you. Our employer paid us a hefty sum of gold to shut you up. He was getting sick of your drunken stories”

Jeff Jr. nodded in agreement.

Brick, being familiar with mercenary work himself, asked

“What boss name? How much boss pay you? Brick pay double to kill him.” 

The Aesther and Jeff Jr. looked at eachother. 

Jeff Jr. responded,

“The Commander. That’s all we know him by. He paid us 2,000 gold to kill you.” 

Brick let out a belly laughter

“HA HA HA! The Commander?! HA HA HA! Brick and him go back. He still have grudge I guess. Brick happily double that!”

The Aesther smiled

“Consider us hired.”

Brick looked at the Aesther

“Before Brick let go, what Brick call you”

The Aesther replied

“Dread Pirate Roberts”

Brick ripped the table off the wall, releasing the mercenaries.  

Brick asked,

“Now, where find Commander”

Jeff Jr. hissed,

“Black Burrow. ” 

Taking a look around, Brick noticed the patrons were still stunned from the mist that Jeff Jr. conjured earlier. 

Brick quickly said, “Before people wake up, we leave. No questions”

The two mercenaries both nodded in agreement, following Brick out of the Sleeping Lion. 

As the three arrived at the city gates on their way to leave Gloomhaven, they noticed a man covered in blood, holding a bone saw. This wasn’t an unusual sight due to the increase in bandit attacks getting closer to the city. 

The bloody man approached the group.

eugene "doc"

“You three look like the mercenary type. You for hire?”

Brick smiled ear to ear

“Brick always for hire. Never turn down gold.”

The man let out a sigh of relief

“That’s great news. I need this problem with bandits taken care of. I’ve seen too many innocents die because of them. They’re set up North of the city in a place called –”

Dread Pirate Roberts interjected

“Black Burrow, aye?”

The man was surprised 

“Yep, that’s the place. Just outside of the Corpsewood.  How did you know?”

Dread Pirate Roberts replied

“We’re heading there now to kill the Commander. Long story.”

“I won’t question why, I’m just glad someone is finally taking care of them. I’ve asked the city guard for help, but they won’t lift a finger unless they catch you stealing their sweet rolls.

Brick couldn’t help himself

“Brick love sweet rolls.”

The man, seeing too many innocents die to bandits, asked

“Listen, I know you guys could probably handle the bandits yourselves, but I’d like to tag along. My saw is thirsty for bandit blood.

The three mercenaries looked at each other and shrugged. 

Brick replied

“Brick don’t see why not. Leave Commander. Mine. Brick have rock with Commander name on it.” 

The bloody man shook everyone’s hand and introduced himself.

“The name’s Eugene, but everyone calls me Doc. Sawbones by trade. We get in a pinch, I’ll be sure to patch you up”

The band of 4 gathered their items before leaving the city and started making their way North to Black Barrow.

At about the halfway mark to Black Barrow, Brick saw a red bird flying majestically overhead. In a bout of boredom, Brick, unbeknownst to the rest of the party, decided to pick up the nearest stone and hurl it at the bird. 

Not being much of a stone marksman, Brick missed completely. 

Doc scolded Brick, “Hey, Stonebrain, don’t you know it’s deadly to kill Red Birds! Are you trying to curse yourself?!”  

Doc, having an extensive background in being a Sawbones, had seen firsthand the repercussions of soldiers and citizens alike murdering red birds out of pure entertainment or hunger. They’d suddenly fall ill, stricken with fever. Eyes would go bloodshot, and turn a pale yellow. Within a couple of days, limbs would go numb and decay rapidly. No one ever lived past four days. 

Doc would ask these soldiers the same question. What did you eat or drink? Assuming it was a powerful poison coursing through their veins. 

Doc assumed wrong. 

Everyone who was able to speak uttered the same two words: “Red Bird.”  

Thus, the Red Bird Curse was born.  

Brick responded as you’d expect, “Brick hungry. Throw rock for food.”

Doc couldn’t contain himself, “Brick, you’re literal stone! YOU. DON’T. NEED. TO. EAT.”

Brick let out a sigh. “Brick just bored.”

Doc “Well, your boredom almost got you killed. Stay sharp. We’re almost at Black Barrow. You can throw all the rocks you want at the bandits there.”

Brick said with excitement

“Bandits eat rocks. Brick promise.”

Shortly after Brick almost cursed himself to death, the party finally arrived at the Corpsewood, Black Barrow in sight. You could tell that bandits had made this barrow their home. Heads were impaled on spikes, and empty rum bottles littered the entrance. 

Jeff Jr. looks at the entrance

“This is it. Many bandits are down there”

Brick, without hesitation, roars

“Briiiiiiick!” 

And charges ahead of the party, descending down the stone steps into the dark and dank stairway of Black Barrow.

To be continued…

If you want to hear what happens to the mercenaries in the belly of Black Barrow, let me know 😉

P.S. Shoutout to Matt for painting each character by hand, and doing a photoshoot of everyone! 

P.P.S Matt’s a Lego lord, so he decided to take these bonus pictures with our Gloomhaven characters. I’m definitely not upset.

bRICK IN A CAR
Brick rollin’ in style
Gloomhaven characters standing around a lego holy grail
We’ve found the Holy Grail!
Gloomhaven characters standing next to the moon lander
Houston, we’ve landed!

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