Arkham Horror: Greatest Game Known to Mankind?

It’s no secret that I’m an avid fan of RPGs, especially the tabletop kind. There’s something about letting your imagination roam free, fighting dragons in your mind, and getting into adventures with friends that could otherwise never happen.

But then there’s the allure of board games. Who doesn’t have a fond happy vivid memory of playing Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders as a child, fighting over the racecar, losing pieces and then stepping on them in the dark?

Then, I was introduced to Arkham Horror. Not only is it based on H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, but it has similarities to both RPGs and board games. (Well, I guess it’s more than just similarity to a board game, since that’s what it is, BUT IT’S SO MUCH MORE.)

You are an investigator in a the war-ravaged and murky city of Arkham in the 1920s and OH MY GOODNESS you have to stop evil Cthulu-y demons from coming into the city from gateways to other dimensions before the Ancient God wakes up. You have stats like Sanity and Stamina (just like in RPGs!) and those help you fight demons and have encounters (just like in RPGs!) by rolling dice (yep, like RPGs again!) and picking random cards!

There are many different investigators to be (my favorite right now is Gloria Goldberg) and many different Ancient Gods to pit them against. Depending on which investigators and Ancient One are chosen, the game varies wildly in outcomes and offers so many unique challenges, I can never see it getting old. And if you’re a loner and hate friends, you can have a single person mode! Try playing D&D by yourself. It doesn’t work, does it?

The bad news is that it takes a while to learn to play since its system of complex rules run a good 25 pages long in the instruction manual. After that, it’s easy-peasy! The game play says it can happen in 2-4 hours, but I’ve yet to have a match last under four with more than four people playing. So, be prepared to spend your afternoon HAVING THE MOST FUN YOU’VE EVER HAD WITH CARDS AND GATEWAY TOKENS AND A MONSTER CUP.

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Coffee Shop

The question I get asked the most is, “how do you like owning a coffee shop?” (That’s not true. The most common question is, “you’re a writer, huh? What do you write?” And when I respond, “horror zombie steampunk novels, some sci-fi, and some Cthulu fan fic,” I get in response: “But you seem like such a nice girl.” But, for the purposes of this blog, I’ll pretend that the former question is more prevalent.)

I’ve worked in coffee for almost a decade now. That’s pretty much more than a third of my life. My first job is still the one I have, basically. Out of it, I’ve gotten amazing heat immunity in my hands, a resistance to all forms of caffeine, and espresso eternally encrusted under each fingernail.

Now, because of it, I have a small business. I worked for my previous employer, Michele, for about six years before she asked if I wanted to buy the store off of her because she was moving away to Durango, CO. I jumped at the chance and it’s been a year later.

There have been many ups and downs. I feel that just now I’m getting the hang of everything I have to do. A rhythm has appeared and knowing that things come in waves and cycles helps a lot, instead of just being a scared Russian Lit major wondering why she never took a business class. (Answer: too many bros.)

It eats up a lot of time. When I graduated college with said Russian Literature degree, I told myself — after a stint as a receptionist at an electrical company run by my father — that I would focus on writing, since I couldn’t do that all throughout high school and college. It’s difficult, knowing that I have to put writing on the back burner, once again, in order to pursue my other passion of serving great coffee and having a place where people can enjoy themselves.

It’s also probably the biggest thing I’ve done to make my parents — especially my father — proud. They’ve always supported me, but raised a few eyebrows when I said I wanted to be an author, around age 7, and then again, when I majored in something rarely useful outside of academia. He’s owned his own business for more than twenty years now and he feels proud knowing I’ve followed in his footsteps.

That also opens the door for a lot of pressure from him. They never got angry if I didn’t get straight As (which I ALWAYS did), but the unsaid thing was that anything less was unacceptable. I’ve been a perfectionist for a while and the coffee shop doesn’t help. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to berating myself if something goes wrong.

Which many, many things have.

Refrigerators broke. Pipes broke. Neon signs broke. Sanitizing machines broke. I had to buy 40 boxes of coffee sleeves and 50 boxes of sprinkles. A lot of my first 8 months’ worth of profit went back into the shop for repairs and inventory. (But, hey, at least there was a profit!) Having my dad wonder why the shop isn’t as profitable as it was under Michele (yo, loans, different payroll, increase in rent, etc.) is difficult to deal with, on top of everything else.

The big shiny finish line, however, is knowing that years from now, if I stick with it, I’ll have a prosperous business that will allow me to set my own hours and give time for writing. I’m already down to working just five days a week (ONLY FIVE?!), and I’m trying to alternate between five and four to allow more writing time.

It’ll depend on business, however.

I get asked a lot if I’m glad I did it. The truthful answer is: I don’t know yet. I would probably make the same decision over, but it’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be, with more stress than I’ve had since my senior year of college, defending a thesis and trying to graduate in three years with a 3.9 GPA.

Let’s just say it’s been interesting and shall, more than likely, continue to be so.