Treachery. Basic Weakness

Madness. Pact.


Campaign Mode only. Peril. Hidden.

Revelation - Secretly add this card to your hand.

Forced - When the game ends or you are eliminated, if this card is in your hand: You earn 2 fewer experience.

When you deal damage to an enemy in excess of its remaining health: Discard this card from your hand.

Return to the Path to Carcosa #11.
Unspeakable Oath


(from the official FAQ or responses to the official rules question form)
  • Treachery cards do not have a header for their subtitle. If the title of a treachery card contains 1 or more words in parentheses, that is considered to be its subtitle. Other cards with the same title and a different subtitle are still considered to be copies of one another. e.g. Restless Journey (Fallacy) and Restless Journey (Hardship) are both copies of Restless Journey. - FAQ, v.2.0, Card Ability Interpretation 2.21, see Treachery Subtitles.
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I'm going to agree with the previous poster--the Unspeakable Trio are certainly top contenders for worst weaknesses in the game, particularly Bloodthirsty and Unspeakable Oath (Cowardice). If you happen to draw one into a deck that is set up for it, great, but obviously I'm not talking about that.

What makes them so bad? Perhaps we're supposed to say they are boring, because it's considered bad form to complain about difficulty ("Don't play arkham if you don't want a challenge!" There, I've said it for you, so now you don't need to comment.). However, I don't think they are boring. I think they are frustrating and demoralizing in a way that I consider bad game design. They can be extremely resource intensive to manage, requiring expending resources and time to draw and play special cards to handle the thing and to take the actions required, which are tests you have to actually succeed at to finally discard the dang thing. So, they are disproportionatly difficult in terms of investment compared to weaknesses that require just spending two actions and being done. But there's a lot of unevenness in the weaknesses-- Paranoia and Amnesia are also pretty brutal.

These get moved to the "bad design" category for me because they are directly destructive to the main mechanism of player engagement with the game: deck building.

As the poster above noted, as an unlucky draw, you have to redesign your deck around these. Chances are good you've invested a lot of time into designing your deck, because that's your main opportunity for choice, control, and experimentation. It's your place to "shine." It's also the place you get to decide what kind of character you play. When a player has chosen to play an all-fight tank with agility 1 or 2 and they suddenly have to be able to evade a monster twice in one turn, you've taken away their choice about what kind of game experience and fantasy they get to have. The player is forced to clog their deck with stuff to deal with the weakness, perhaps significantly compromising their build.

If you were the dungeon master for a game where your player was super excited to play a wizard, and you consistently targeted them with challenges of physical strength, you would be a bad DM. That's what this is. It's major side quest in every single scenario for a character type you didn't want to play.

And what's the consequence of failure? You hit them in the deck AGAIN, preventing the player from enjoying the rewards of a hard fight by depriving them of XP to upgrade their deck. Now you've made their game harder, their character lamer, and they are falling behind the rest of the team in capability. Removing the reward for a TEAM success and generating a feelings of envy and disconnect, is simply bad design in a cooperative game, especially since no one else can help you with these cards.

"So just house rule them." Thanks, I will. I was just annoyed enough by the card design that I wanted to actually post an analysis of why I think they are bad cards.

Cowardice is the worst offender of the three. You should be able to pick up a card that does two damage, no matter who you are playing, and investigating an empty location isn't the worst thing in the world. But Cowardice even requires you to use your agility stat, so Mystics who are actually interested in evading with, e.g. Mists or even Blur are out of luck. I understand why -- the Evade action needs to be on the card in order to let you evade an unengaged enemy, but they should have figured out a different way. — dscarpac · 574
Mystics could use "Mind's Eye" for Cowardice, but yeah, that's exactly that kind of tech card you in many cases won't take without the weakness, SleepyLibrarian was talking about. Maybe plan a trip to Venice and get a plague doctor mask as a souvenir. These masks are probably the best teck for any investigator and any of the weakness set and can also be tutored with Backpack. — Susumu · 334
Whoops, of course only for Cowardice or Curosity. No mask would held you dealing excess damage for Bloodthirst. — Susumu · 334
They are so annoying , I agree. Whether they're dangerous or not, I've never found them fun to play. Curiosity is at least easy to get rid of, cause there's never usually a shortage of locations with no clues and Bloodlust is a bit more awkward to set-up but cowardice is maddening. For a lot of investigators the first evasion to exhaust the enemy is a waste of an action, let alone the second one to discard the weakness. And if you fail , reach upkeep and it readies you have to start the whole process again on the next turn, gah. At least enemies on one health don't usually regain it every round. — bee123 · 25
I agree, Cowardice is the worst. But for the first evade, you can use all of your tech availble (Sword Cane, Stray Cat, whatever.) You could also role play it: "I'm so scared of this enemy! Could you please evade it for me, Finn?" Only the second evade has to be done by yourself, and without any help from other people committing cards. — Susumu · 334
On a fun little twist: Cowardice can actually chain into the ability of the recently spoiled Kaymani Jones, making it possible to discard the enemy while clearing the weakness. — Susumu · 334

By far my least favorite weakness in the entire game. The premise seems interesting enough, but it's the most frustrating thing this game has to offer. If I remember correctly you draw your weakness after you build your deck specifically so you can't build a deck around your weakness. If you're playing something like a guardian it's fine, but t's the second time in the last 5 or so decks I've made that I've drawn this card and have literally no way to deal with this weakness. If I don't have a card in my deck that does at least 2 damage (say almost any level 0 seeker deck) then you're out of luck. The worst part? the card isn't even interesting, all it does is give me a flat 2 experience drain that serves no purpose except to prevent me from actually getting a card that might be able to deal with this stupid weakness.

Vultureneck · 72
Depends on who you play this weakness can be more dynamic or interesting- Patrice for example gets hit by it harder. I also think it's easy enough to adapt your deck to it, as every class has fighting options they can XP into. It's just tough that first scenario, especially as a Seeker. I vastly prefer it mechanically to something really boring like The 13th Vision. — StyxTBeuford · 12937
Every weakness can be crippling if drawn by the wrong investigator, or just at the wrong time. I recently completed a campaign where my basic weakness was Drawing the Sign and I swear it cost me anywhere from 3-5 cards and 2 actions on almost every scenario. It was the most brutal run of luck I've ever had with a weakness. Still won the campaign though, so it can't have been that bad. This is at least interesting, and offers the possibility every time you draw it that it won't even damage you at all except for the marginal tempo loss that you when you draw any weakness. — Sassenach · 173
I'm pretty happy whenever I draw an Unspeakable Oath weakness, the fact that it can be ignored without consequences as bad as trauma or The Price of Failure makes it feel mild. However, the value of 2 experience per scenario does vary with campaign and player count: Dunwich offers less than most while Dream Eaters offers more, and larger teams are more likely to spawn VP enemies, have spare actions to pursue VP, and earn VP from cards with 'Deep' in their name. House rules about choosing weaknesses (like draw 2, pick 1) are quite common, which is perhaps as it should be — Patrice and Doomed both exist. — Spritz · 67
The only cards i know of that a seeker has that deal more than one damage is "I have a plan" and "strange solution" meaning I'd have to XP into level 0 cards, after I just got 2 less experience from this card. And I think weaknesses that hit really hard when they show up can be really interesting, this one is just "oh, guess I get 2 less XP this round" — Vultureneck · 72
In fairness, I've Got a Plan is a fairly common Seeker take- the one Seeker who doesn't take it also happens to be the one who gets Guardian weapons anyway. Ursula and even Rex and Mandy can spec into Ornate Bow. It's really not that hard to deal with as a Seeker, it's just more of a reach than some others. And fortunately, Seekers tend to not need as much XP to be great anyway. i really don't see this as that bad of a weakness at all, certainly not in comparison to something like The Tower. — StyxTBeuford · 12937
I don't see how this competes with Doomed for least favorite weakness. I think this weakness hits harder at higher player counts since investigators tend to be more one dimensional but even then Seekers (hit the worst by this card) usually have an off class set of cards in addition to I've Got a Plan. Daisy can use Shrivelling. Joe is fine. Ursula adds the Ornate Bow after the first scenario. Minh has Fire Axe. Mandy has many options with her sub-classes. Rex has his 5 splash cards so he has options including Dynamite. But this card will definitely hurt decks that don't include any cards that do damage because they are just focused on getting clues. For most this is barely an inconvenience. And it hits the Dunwich campaign harder than other campaigns. — The Lynx · 952
I’m unsure on damage timing. Can Blood Rite clear this? — Kergma · 10
I want to say yes because I believe the effect needs to be resolved in full, so it would be a full 2 damage. — StyxTBeuford · 12937
I believe Blood Rite can clear Bloodthirst — normally the phrase "one at a time" is used when this kind of effect is not intended to be simultaneous. — Spritz · 67
It is not much consolation, but every seeker can run Knife. Blood Rite is probably a much better plan tho. — Death by Chocolate · 1367
This has never been about which weakness hurts your investigator the most or has the most massive impact. Of course I like Doomed way more than this weakness, It's probably the most interesting weakness in the game. Any weakness in the category of "this experience drain is a short price to pray for such a mild weakness" already makes me hate it. And I get there are level 0 options for dealing with it, but I DIDN'T PUT THEM IN THE DECK, I like how some weaknesses can be detrimental in different decks, but this is the only one I've ever seen where I actually needed to change my deck because of it. — Vultureneck · 72
I guess I dont get the point of your complaint or your card review then. A weakness that makes you change your deck to deal with it means it’s not that mild. If you find it boring then that’s your opinion, but it’s certainly not boring in someone like Patrice who sees her precious hand size cut down from it. I dont really see how you separate the fun of a weakness from what it forces you to do to adapt to it since that’s kind of the entire point of weaknesses. — StyxTBeuford · 12937
I'd like to hear one other example of a weakness that made someone decide to spend xp to put level 0 cards in their deck. My other problem with is it is you don't even need to adapt, the card has almost no impact in the actual scenario, that's what makes it boring. Also Patrice is a very unique case, when talking about the general application of a weakness I don't think she is very relevant. — Vultureneck · 72
My point was that weaknesses can be more interesting depending on the deck, and I was just citing one particular example where this weakness has an interesting interaction in my opinion. I think generally this weakness is most interesting in people who can't fight regularly, and least interesting in Guardians who will fulfill the requirement naturally. — StyxTBeuford · 12937
Well while I still feel like it's a boring weakness and with a more circumstantial clear condition than the other unspeakable oaths it looks like I'm in the minority here. — Vultureneck · 72
@StyxTBeuford It hitting Patrice harder doesn't make it more dynamic or interesting. 13th Vision is a MUCH better designed card. — Tilted Libra · 34
People saying you can just take the Ornate Bow to covert this are silly. That bow isn't good in most Seekr decks due to taking two hands, and that is a huge investment just to cover a weakness. — Tilted Libra · 34
We've got "I've got a plan" (2) and "Occult Lexicon" (3) since the release of this review. So the complaint, that there are only level 0 versions are not ongoing anymore. — Susumu · 334