Decorated Skull
Doom Begets Doom


Item. Relic. Cursed.

Cost: 0.
Test Icons:

Uses (0 charges).

After an investigator, Ally asset, or enemy at your location is defeated: Place 1 resource (from the token bank) on Decorated Skull, as a charge.

Spend 1 charge: Draw 1 card and gain 1 resource.

A.L. Ashbaugh
The Forgotten Age #26.
Decorated Skull

I think this card is hilarious. The fact that when other investigators are defeated you can be like, "Hey, silver lining; I got a charge on my Skull!" is priceless. Beyond that, I'm pretty sure this card is actually good; installs for an action, gains charges for doing something you'd do anyway, whether that's going through Ally assets or killing enemies, and pays back the action you took to install it after a single use. In a Leo Anderson deck, where you're losing allies and killing enemies in equal measure, the action compression this can give you over the course of a scenario, let alone a campaign, is pretty crazy. It may seem a bit slow, since it does take an action to use every time, but there are a lot of turns in a scenario where you might have an odd action that you "waste" just gaining a resource, and this makes those spare actions twice as efficient.

Does take up the Relic slot though, which is pretty valuable. Still, between The Watch and Lucky Dice, it's the only accessory Rogues have at 0xp. It'll be interesting to see it in action.

Also how weird is it that it's cursed, but doesn't actively harm you?

SGPrometheus · 738
I think the Skull is a solid accessory for any Rogue who will be fighting enemies, Leo, Akachi and depending on the group, might be a good choice for Ursula as well (since she can find it quickly and possibly play it without an action). — Myriad · 1201
Wouldn't Akachi prefer Holy Rosary? She doesn't necessarily need it, but getting up to 6 Will is really strong. As for Ursula, while she can get it into play for free a couple ways, she might not see the trigger conditions very often, but I agree it might occasionally be a good fit. — SGPrometheus · 738
I would also give preference to the Rosary for Akachi's amulet slot. +1 Will is a big deal for her. — CaiusDrewart · 2994

I recall tossing this cursed relic aside long ago, thinking it was a useless trap item that just takes up room. For many, it really is. But let me, the great explorer Leo Anderson, challenge your views and tell you at length about how I charmed an entire police force to die for my occult desires to feed my dark hunger of killing monsters.

So there I was, renowned expedition leader Leo Anderson, Returning to Dunwich with a friend new to town (he'd never been to Dunwich before). Well... Imagine my surprise when I found out that I had accidentally brought this mesmerising skull on the trip! I threw it into my 30L deep backpack as a thematic joke. I can see my old buddies around the bar now; "the mad explorer Leo jaunt around tombs and vaults with huge teams, only to return with one crazed friend and a weird skull". They don't understand this amazing cursed skull. It has power they cannot see... So I brought it along. Two of them, to be exact.

We laughed when I pulled it from my bag at the start of the investigation. I had to show it off - after all, Great Leo's life is shaped around watching his many, many replaceable allies die. It is sad but this is the way of the skull. My whole 'shtick is having the sheer inner willpower (4) to not go mad watching my friends and foes die in horrific ways. Infact my biographer says it is my unique ability to always have new allies!

So when I convinced my policeman friend to throw his life away to protect me from an unoffending rat, suddenly the skull glowed twice as the rat died in the kerfuffle. Next a hideous monster attacked, but my brave, brave Tetsuo was easily convinced to take a big hit for my drunk fellow investigator Rex. I was gazed in the attack, which gave me an opening to react with my blade and murder the savage beast of the night. Again the hungering skull glowed. All this happened in the blink of an eye, in one swift single round the skull rattled with 4 coins. Mitch didn't bat an eye, he'd seen worse on our adventures. Rex just gulped and drank more. A sudden windfall of resources allowed me to pull out loads of guns, and my guns were blazing all night, thanks to THE DECORATED SKULL OF DOOM.

Antiundead · 29
Superb. — SGPrometheus · 738

Akachi can benefit from this card too, as it has charges and enters play with 1 charge thanks hes passive ability. Meaning that it refound it's cost as soon as you use that extra charge with the benefit of already having it in play. Also her Elder Sing trigger can put some charges on it and Recharge card can target this, so might be worth a try.

vacra · 17
Akachi also will typically be fighting a monster or two and trading out allies like Renfield and the Arcane Initiate. I think its a solid pick for her. — Myriad · 1201

To analyze the skull, we consider the cost and the benefits. The effect of the skull is that each time you spend a charge, you gain a resource and a card. But anyone can spend an action for a card or a resource, so the real benefit of the skull is that it gives you the other one as well. This means the skull gives you one of whatever you least want at the time – if you really want a card, you could have spent the action getting a card even without the skull, the benefit of the skull is that you also get a money. If you wanted a money, it gives you a card, and if you really wanted an action, you aren’t going to spend that action on the skull, so the skull is useless. So the upfront cost of the skull is a card and an action to play now, and the benefit is to gain one of whatever you least want, in the future, for each time you use it. So using the skull 3 times is kind of breaking even, you would want to use it 4 times to feel excited about taking the card. And since the skull is useless when drawn late, if you draw it early you want to use it at least 5 times to think it is a good card.

In my experience, it is very possible for a combat character (in a 4-player party) who plays the skull early to pick up 5 charges – indeed, to pick up all the charges they can handle. The real limitation is the actions you have to spend to use these charges. The analysis above is that if you would have to spend at least 5 actions gaining cards and/or resources, after you start gaining charges, to be happy with the skull. And that assumes you would have been happy spending the actions even without the skull (otherwise the skull really isn’t practical at all). But in my experience, most characters are kept very busy, and don’t spend that many actions over the course of a scenario drawing cards or gaining resources – and when they do, it is often at the beginning of the mission when the skull wouldn’t have charges. It is a special sort of character who has that much free time during the mission.

The Decorated Skull isn’t the sort of card that is really going to blow anyone away with its amazing power, you aren’t missing much if you never use it. But it can be fun and useful for a very specific type of character – a dedicated monster killer (so you put yourself in the right place to get lots of charges) who can’t investigate (so you have free time) and who is in a party with plenty of ways to deal with monsters (so you aren’t under constant pressure to save your friends, and thus have more free time), and who doesn’t need the accessory slot for something else.

ChristopherA · 104
It's worth noting that Akachi can take this card. In her hands it's a lot more useful because it stats with a charge as soon as it hits the board, it can be discarded with Spirit Speaker as a free action to liberate all its charges as resources and it also serves as a handy charge bank for if you want to play Torrent of Power. The only drawback is that it competes with other powerful cards for the accessory slot, but I think it is probably worth it. — Sassenach · 173
I finally found the combo where I prefer Decorated Skull to LCC. Haste combos with Decorated Skull. Typically you need two Fight actions (using weapons) to kill an enemy. I rarely have other cards in play with other Action --> activations on them but Decorated Skull has one and you can use the free Haste action to collect your card/resource. I really wanted to like this card but I rarely had enough actions to get it into play or collect but Haste changes that. — The Lynx · 946

This is a neat card thematically, but let's do the math.

For the purposes of this, let's assume actions, cards and resources are an equivalent value, since you can always spend one action for one of either. They aren't, but weighting the value of actions and cards is even more unkind to the skull.

Playing this out costs one action and one card, starting you at a -2 deficit for no return. You have to do this early on, because things need to die around you before you can actually use it, and you can't guarantee when that will happen.

Clicking once costs one action for one resource and one card, so you're still at a net -1 deficit.

Clicking twice costs another action, so you've now broken even. You've now spent three actions and a card to gain two resources and two cards. That's equivalent to not playing the skull at all and simply clicking for the cards/resources, except with much less flexibility, and you're wasting your accessory slot for the privilege.

It's not until the third activation, requiring three dead enemies/allies and four invested actions to actually start to come out on top economically, and only barely. At that point you've heavily invested in improving your basic Get Resource/Draw Card action, something you (ideally) aren't actually using in the back half of the scenario.

That said, the upgraded version is phenomenal, if you can stomach 3xp. Assuming you can play it out and wait for three things to die around you (or two with Akachi), you can jump from a -2 deficit at install to a net +3 payoff on the first click. It even compares favorably to the elite ciggs, which continues to only draw one card/turn. It is a shame that 3xp prices it out of Leo or the ever-hilarious Bow Wendy decks, but Tony and Akachi can make great use of it.

CombStranger · 233
Probably your salesman can sell you one if you are a guardian, solving the two main problems for the guardian doing his job — Tharzax · 1
Even tossed to someone else via Bob it just isn't that good return. The guardian probably would be much happier with you giving them a Lucky Cig Case than a creepy bedazzled skull. Or heck... just play Faustian Bargain targeting them! As for the original math by CombStranger, its even more dire than all that! Instead of playing this card, you could play emergency cache! For 1 card and action (the same price as this), you get 3 resources right then and there. You then can just click 2 times for cards, which puts you at +2 cards and +3 resources, the equivalent of hitting deco skull 3 times, putting it 1 action behind and making it take whopping 4 uses to catch up to a mid tier economic card. Even if you value resources late (and rogues often do) your just so much better off playing economy and draw events. — dezzmont · 199
The salesman would not likely use up one of his preciouse level 0 slots, but rather purchase the upgrade. Still, selling your own objects to other players needs to have "Shrewd Dealings" in play (or hiting it with "Black Market"). I would rather take cards, Bob can reliably use himself, too. He's not that great of a fighter, nor an Ally-centric investigator. — Susumu · 326

Does the ally or enemy discarded from field or deck, trigger this card? I'm thinking about use the disposable ally like

  • Treasure hunter
  • Hired muscle Or discarded from another skill to trigger this card.
AquaDrehz · 197
"Discard" is not "defeat." A card is only defeated when it takes as much damage as it has health (or more in the case of enemies/ investigators). Additionally cards can only be defeated if they are in play. — SGPrometheus · 738
...or an effect explicitly defeats them, like monster hunter. — Django · 4846
can you use Venturer to add charged to this? Seems like great combo with Leo — sneth · 8
you can't, just like you can't charge spells with venturer... — jd9000 · 71

This card scales extremely favorably in 4-player games. If you've glossed over the Skull in 2-player (the most common format), but are invited to a 4-player, then do give it another look.

It sadly does clash with the Rosary for Akachi and Sefina, but Ursula, Leo, Wendy, or any of the other Rogues can make good use of it it in a 4-player game. I'm not sure I'd go as far as spending a splash-card for Pete, Rex, etc though.

Clashes with Wendy's Amulet, so I might not rush at that for her. — AndyB · 929
It also seems decent even in two-player for Zoe (who kills things all the time and doesn't have many other economy cards) or Finn (who kills things often enough, and doesn't have access to any must-run accessories at the outset). — sfarmstrong · 265

This card became more useful with the new swarm mechanic introduced in Dream Eaters circle. Now investigators such as Leo and Tony can benefit from killing a lot more than before. Some low enemies like Zoogs and Rats can be killed easily with a weapon with +1 damage, so the charges will stack a lot faster than normaly. Combine it with Haste and you can trigger the action of Decorated skull by free. I am looking forward to test it!

Sotosprotos · 86
I agree that you'll get lots of charges, but i don't think you have enough time to spend them all if you want to complete scenarios. — Django · 4846
I have wanted to love this card with Leo (or Tony) but I just couldn't take the action in the middle to the end of the scenario to use the charges. The Haste combo that you mention might make it possible though. — The Lynx · 946
I used it with Tony to good effect. He already gets plenty of resources, but sometimes you need to take draw actions, and getting even more resources helps pay for the new weapons you need to play, since he tends to burn through ammo fast. — Yenreb · 15

After many years have passed, sadly, this card still does not see much play. Same with the Lvl 3 version, it requires a bit too much to draw and gain resources. When compared to Lucky Cigarette Case which i think is one of the most played cards out there (it is in almost every Rogue deck), i think we could use some good old tabboo for this one. Lvl 3 version seems to be made for Leo Anderson, but he cannot even take it, which is a huge missed opportunity flavor-wise if you ask me.

So, like always, my group got bored with having a card sit in our binder for ages and not even being played, so we changed it in a way like Scroll of Secrets is changed, meaning that we made it be ability. It did not change a lot, since my friend who ran it still wished he just had Lucky Cigarette Case to trigger more ofter, as this card needs enemies or allies to enter play and then to die to gain 1 resource and 1 card, which is just so damn slow. But after many years we can say that we have played it, and who knows, maybe one day in the far future FFG decides to tabboo it in the same way that we did. We even went all-in and changed Decorated Skull to be 2xp and LVL 2 card so Leo could take it, and it was so cool seeing him sacrificing his allies like Treasure Hunter and Hired Muscle and gain charges on this when we went to Egypt to test it in that standalone scenario.

To conclude, this ain't really a normal review like you might be looking for, but rather a change for all of you who are bored to have this card sit and collect dust, while it can be changed in such a simple way, and provide you with more options. Also, i bet many of you are just so bored of seeing that damn cigarette case in every game, and God knows we could use some more options when deck building!

Blood&gore · 338
Level 3 version is an Akachi staple. Sure, she needs "Relic Hunter" for it, because the accessory slot is contested, but not by LCC, so it is uncompeted for econony. She gets extra value from it by defeating doom allies like the AI or Renfield, and it is easy enough for her to kill enemies, too. The level 0 version is a bit too slow, but now with DtRH, I see incentive to put it in a level 0 deck for her, too. — Susumu · 326
Would it also be another way to pay off Angered Spirits? I mean I’d rather keep the charges on Shrivelling if I could. I know there’s other ways but anything that adds a different flavor to my deck pleases me. — Staticalchemist · 1
Sorry about that, not a spell, so that doesn’t work out. — Staticalchemist · 1