Why an Arkham Horror starter set? What even is a “starter set”?

2024 / 05 / 07

Hi everyone! Leah here, the lead designer for the upcoming Arkham Horror roleplaying game starter set. If you haven’t had a chance to read the article by Sam Gregor-Stewart, the lead designer for the ruleset for this RPG, you can check it out here

By the end of this article you’ll know the why, who, what, and how of the Hungering Abyss box–that is, why we chose to make it the way we did, who the set is designed for, what you can expect to find inside, and how to get the most out of playing it. . 

So…what even is a “starter set”? Who is it for?

What a starter set is might depend on what studio or designer made it, but I can tell you that the team here at Edge thought a lot about how we wanted to introduce folks to Arkham Horror The Roleplaying Game. Sure, there will be a core rulebook released jam-packed with all sorts of information about the system (the rules) and the setting, but we really wanted to make an easy entry point for people to jump right into the game without having to read pages and pages of text (even if that text is awesome!). 

We didn’t want to call the entry point a “beginner” set because it isn’t just for beginners. We worked hard to make the investigation accessible to players who are new to roleplaying games, but we believed it was just as important to give experienced RPG players something fun, too. 

You might be a novice who already loves Arkham Horror from playing Fantasy Flight Games’ board games or reading Aconyte Books’ novels and novellas. Or maybe you’re a seasoned RPG veteran who’s looking for a way to get your friends to try a table-top with you for the first time. It’s also possible you’ve heard about this new game and just want to give it a try, not knowing anything about RPGs or Arkham Horror at all! Whoever you are, this starter set is designed to teach you the rules as you go and to be easily fit into gameplay sessions as short as an hour long. 

What can I expect from this box?

Great question! Inside the shiny, beautiful box of Hungering Abyss are lots of physical components to enhance your game as you and your friends race against the rising moon to unravel a mystery. There is no rulebook–just a 48-page scenario booklet and five character portfolios. With just these components, you and your friends have all you need to learn the rules of the game and conduct your investigation over the course of ten scenes. Everything else included in the box is kind of like icing on a delicious cake–these pieces enhance the game, but aren’t a bunch of extra rules to read.

I’m going to briefly breakdown the other components here, and give a little information about each:

Investigator Portfolios

Five two-page folded sheets with ready-to-go investigators for players to choose from. For this box, you won’t need to make any characters, just choose one you like and launch your investigation!

Non-Player Character (NPC) Profile Cards

Profile cards with the abilities and rules for all of the enemies and allies the investigators will encounter during the course of their journey.

Item and Spell Cards

Handy cards with items and spells that investigators can pick up during the game. We chose to make these cards to cut down on excessive writing for players–you found an item? Here you go, all of the stats are on this card!

Several Pieces of Evidence

While the investigator portfolios have evidence on the back of them, there are several key clues and notes that are important for the scenario. When they’re discovered, the game master can simply grab the relevant clue and hand it to the players for them to inspect. 

Three Gorgeous Double-Sided Battle Maps

Over the course of ten scenes, the investigation has several scenes that might require players to be able to visualize where their characters are in relation to the environment and enemies. The provided battle maps, used alongside punch tokens, help navigating these more tense moments in the game. 

Tons of Punch Tokens

Punch tokens are cardboard pieces used to represent the investigator characters, their allies, and their enemies. Some of the tokens also help players track their health, ammo, and the durability of certain pieces of equipment. 

Physical Puzzles

Along with tokens, two different puzzles are included on the punch board. These puzzles are easy to assemble and are used to help give players that authentic think-on-your-feet experience that Arkham Horror is known for. 

Last but not least…Dice!

If you’ve read Sam’s article about the DPS rules, you know that dice are a super important part of the game. They’re used to represent action economy (how much a character can do in a turn) and vitality. It was important to us that the dice we chose for the game were easy to come by–so we chose six-sided dice (also called d6s). While we include 24 d6s in this box, players can easily grab additional dice from other games they have or pick some up at their local game store or grocery store if they want more!

How to get the most out of this boxed experience

The Hungering Abyss starter set is designed like a movie and can be played in short sessions or long ones. Each scene can be played in as little as an hour or less, though depending on how thorough your players are, they could take longer. How you play and when you play this box is meant to be flexible, convenient, and satisfying. The end of each scene provides a clear stopping point if your group is limited on time, and the next scene can be picked right back up whenever you’re ready to go. 

The physical box itself is made to comfortably store all of the components for easy set-up and clean-up, so you can jump right into the action or quickly pack things up when it’s time to get back to the world outside of Arkham. 

Playing games, especially collaborative games like an RPG, should be as stress-free to fit into your life as possible. That was the mentality in designing this box–we wanted to create the framework for you and your friends to experience a story, solve a mystery, and try to save the day. Whether you’ve only got an hour for lunch or you’ve set aside a whole evening, the investigation–and the fate of Arkham–will be waiting. 

Now that you know what to expect from the box, if you want to know more, stay tuned for our next articles.

Arkham Horror RPG Starter Set will be out on August 2, 2024.