Penumbra & Clockwork

Penumbra ws my first entry, a version of which was outlined shortly after the initial announcement... before I knew it should tie to the Time/Alternate Reality theme. I reworked the background and concept a little and sent it in.

Then I got my kickstarter package and noticed the background was probably too similar to Gloomweaver's, and Ambuscade's fetching of his Cloaking Device was also similar to Penumbra's "Form of Night". Awkward. (Although I was somewhat satisifed to see that GTG had the same "no tangible body = immune to melee and projectile damage" idea.)

Figured I should probably see if I could create a new entry. After a few days of having no inspiration, the concept for Clockwork found its way into my head basically out of nowhere and needed to be written down so I could get back to sleep. (This often happens to me with MTG deck ideas, so I know the drill.)

Finally, I didn't playtest these at all and all of the numbers are just what felt right. I trusted the GTG team to do make any necessary adjustments.


Concept: A being of darkness, drawn into our reality by a lust for light. It starts as an ambiguous shadowy form, little more than glowing eyes and a vague humanoid shape that it takes mostly for convenience. As it steals memories, hope, and dreams from the heroes, it eventually manifests as nightmarish copies of them. The heroes must face their darkest fears in order to beat back the darkness. Should they succeed, they are filled with renewed strength and resolve as they ultimately gain access to Penumbra's core, a pulsing heart of darkness and evil; should they fail, they will be erased from history and replaced by their own nightmares...

Bio: What makes someone turn to evil? A lust for power, a desparate need for respect, or maybe just good old-fashioned insanity? Those might be the broader, more obvious reasons. But nobody starts out evil. Every individual who walks the path of darkness must first have it shown to them, and they must accept its invitation.

That invitation often comes via whispering voices from the shadows. Needling at insecurities, prying at weaknesses, and infiltrating the deepest catacombs of the mind, these whispers eventually give form to nightmares. Succubming to one's own nightmares is what ultimately pushes one down the path of evil, as they become consumed by their darkest desires.

Penumbra knows this, for Penumbra  [b] is [/b]  that whispering voice. Originating in an inverse reality where darkness reigns and evil is the default, Penumbra became attracted to this reality's positive energy and found a way to cross over. Here, it feeds on emotions and strength, and when it has taken its fill from someone, that person is often left with nothing but evil in their heart.

What it craves more than anything else, however, are heroes. Heroes are incredible, almost boundless sources of positive energy -- and Penumbra's hunger is insatiable.


Penumbra 20*H hp

"Lurker in Shadows"
Setup: Put Penumbra's character card into play with the "Lurker in Shadows" side up. Remove all "Shadows" from the villain deck and set them aside.

Whenever Penumbra deals damage to a Hero character, put that many cards from the top of that Hero's deck under Penumbra. Cards underneath Penumbra have no rules text and are not considered to be in play.

At the end of the Villain turn, Penumbra deals each Hero H-2 psychic damage.

When a Hero shuffles their trash into their deck as a result of having no cards remaining in their deck, flip Penumbra.

Advanced: Penumbra deals H-1 damage instead.


"Heart of Darkness"
When Penumbra flips, put H Shadows into play and put all of one Hero's removed cards under each one. That Hero is Haunted by that Shadow. Cards underneath Shadows have no rules text and are not considered to be in play.

When a Shadow deals damage to its Haunted Hero, put that many cards from the top of the Hero's deck underneath that Shadow (shuffle that Hero's trash into their deck if necessary). If a Hero ever has no cards remaining in their deck and trash, that Hero is incapacitaed.

When a Shadow is destroyed, Penumbra takes 10 psychic damage and that Shadow is put under Penumbra instead of being put anywhere else. Put all cards underneath that Shadow into its haunted Hero's trash. Cards underneath Penumbra are not considered to be in play.

Penumbra is cannot be the target of any effect while any Shadows are in play. Choose the next legal target, if able.

Advanced: Shadows are immune to damage from their Haunted Hero.


Shadow (x5)
15 HP

At the end of the Villain turn, Shadow deals H-2 infernal damage to its Haunted Hero. If that Hero is incapacitated, Shadow instead deals that damage to the Hero with the highest HP.

"See. See yourselves as you could be. See yourselves as you dare not be. They are you. You are them." -- Penumbra


Tendrils of Darkness (x3)

Penumbra deals 1 psychic damage to each Hero character.

"It feels like it's reaching straight into my brain!" -- Bunker,  [i]Dark Times[/i] 


Form of Night (x1)

Penumbra is immune to melee and projectile damage. Penumbra receives an additional 1 damage whenever it is dealt radiant damage.

"I can't shoot something made of nothing!" -- Expatriette


Terrorize (x2)

Penumbra deals 4 psychic damage to the Hero with the highest HP.

"Fear me. Fear yourself." -- Penumbra


Gathering Night (x2)

Penumbra regains 10 hp. All Nightmares regain 3 hp.

"I was born in the shadows. The darkness sustains me." -- Penumbra


Besieged by Nightmares (x2)

Penumbra deals the Hero with the lowest HP X infernal damage, where X = 1 plus 1 for every Nightmare in play.

"Your weakness. Their strength." -- Penumbra


Dark Secrets (x2)

At the beginning of the Villain turn, each Hero must destroy one of their Ongoing or Equipment cards.

"You know the truth. You know why you cannot go on. Give up. Give in." -- Penumbra


Nightmare Portal (x1)
18 HP

Nightmare Portal is immune to melee and projectile damage.

At the end of the Villain turn, reveal the top card of the Villain Deck until a Nightmare is revealed. Play that card, then shuffle the rest into the Villain Deck. If no Nightmare is revealed, shuffle the Villain Trash into the Villain Deck.

"Is that a... tear in reality!? Connecting our world with one of complete darkness!? It must be where this thing came from! Close it, quick!" -- Tachyon,  [i]Dark Times[/i] 


Screeching Bats (x3)
3 HP

At the end of the Villain turn, Screeching Bats deals 1 sonic damage to the Hero with the lowest HP. That Hero puts the top 2 cards of their deck into their trash.

"Get 'em off me! Get 'em off me!" -- Bunker,  [i]Dark Times[/i] 


Creeping Dread (x2)
8 HP

At the end of the villain turn, Creeping Dread deals 3 psychic damage to the Hero with the highest HP. That Hero puts the top 2 cards of their deck into their trash.

"Something doesn't feel right..." -- Legacy,  [i]Dark Times[/i] 


Clone Decoy (x1)
10 HP

Whenever damage would be dealt to Penumbra, that damage is dealt to Clone Decoy instead.

At the end of the Villain turn, play the top card of the Villain deck.

"It's confusing our senses! I can't tell which one is the real one!" -- The Wraith,  [i]Dark Times[/i] 


Cloak of Infinite Night (x1)

At the start of the Villain turn, if "Form of Night" is in the Villain trash, put it into play.
At the end of the Villain turn, Penumbra regains 2 HP.

"Oh, I definitely don't like the looks of THAT." -- Absolute Zero, [i]Dark Times[/i] 



Clockwork is a giant, rampaging mechanical monstrosity... sort of like a steampunk version of Omnitron, but without drones. Unity discovered it while exploring a long-abandoned warehouse, where it had been dormant for centuries judging from the amount of dust and cobwebs (although oddly no rust) covering it. Fascinated, she cleared it off and noticed that it was basically an enormous wind-up toy, complete with oversized key in the back and everything. She just HAD to see what it did! Throwing caution to the wind, she wound it up a little. Unfortunately, what it did was start destroying everything in sight, immediately busting through the wall and out into the city. She tried to use her power to stop it, but something inside of it resisted her. Could that thing have been... alive? Well, whatever was going on she knew it was her responsibility to stop it... somehow.



Clockwork -- 100hp

Wound-up Wrecking Machine

Setup: Put Clockwork's character card into play "Wound-up Wrecking Machine" side up. Search the villain deck for the "Wind-Up" card and put it into play with 10 damage tokens on it, then shuffle the deck.

If the Wind-Up card ever has zero counters on it, flip Clockwork's character cards and immediately end its turn.

Clockwork is immune to toxic damage.

Advanced: Start the Wind-Up card with 15 tokens.


Wound-down Wreck

At the start if the villain turn, add H tokens to the Wind-Up card.

Cards from the villain deck cannot be played.

Whenever Clockwork takes damage, add that many tokens to the Wind-Up card.

At the end of the villain turn, if there are 10 or more counters on the Wind-Up card, flip Clockwork's character cards.

Clockwork is immune to toxic damage.

Advanced: Add an additional token whenever Clockwork takes damage.


The "Wind-Up" card is indestructible and simply features an illustration of a giant clockwork spring and/or key. Feel free to add a limit as to how many tokens can be put on this card (maybe 20).


**Note: Every card in Clockwork's deck (other than the Wind-Up card) is a One-Shot.**


Letting Off Steam (x3) (Illustration of clouds of nasty-looking steam venting from all areas; sort of like Bunker's "External Combustion.")

Clockwork deals each non-Villain target 2 toxic damage.

Remove one token from the Wind-Up card.

"Great. Now my hair is going to be all frizzy. Where's that blow dryer...?" -- The Wraith


Spinning Fist Strike (x3) (Illustration of the entire upper half of Clockwork spinning around at high speeds, arms outstretched; like Tik-Tok in Return to Oz if you've ever seen that, only more destructive.)

Clockwork deals the H-1 non-Villain targets with the most HP 4 melee damage.

Remove H-1 tokens from the Wind-Up card.

If there are tokens on the Wind-Up card, play the top card of the Villain deck.

"Don't get too close!"


Bulldozer Punch (x3)

Clockwork deals the Hero target with the most HP 6 melee damage.

Remove three tokens from the Wind-Up card.

If there are tokens on the Wind-Up card, play the top card of the Villain deck.

"This thing hits like a bus!" -- Haka


Bringing Down the House (x2)

Destroy all environment cards. Clockwork deals X+2 melee damage to each Hero target, where X is the number of cards destroyed this way.

Remove three tokens from the Wind-Up card.

"That was a load-bearing wall!" -- Mr. Fixer


Collateral Damage (x3) (Illustration of flying wreckage hitting heroes hanging back from the immediate melee.)

Clockwork deals 2 projectile damage to all non-Villain targets except the H-2 with the highest HP.

If there are tokens on the Wind-Up card, play the top card of the Villain deck.

"Even when it's not hitting us it hits us. We have to move to more open space!"


Structural Damage (x3)

Play the top card of the Environment deck.

Remove one token from the Wind-Up card.

If there are tokens on the Wind-Up card, play the top card of the Villain deck.

"Heads up! I think it just made a new door."


Smash and Crash (x4)

Clockwork deals H-2 damage to the Hero target with the lowest HP.

Clockwork deals H damage to the the Hero target with the highest HP.

Remove two tokens from the Wind-up Card.

If there are tokens on the Wind-Up card, play the top card of the Villain deck.


Busted Spring (x1)

Remove all tokens from the Wind-Up card.

Unity: "Huh. I guess they just don't make them like they used to."

Absolute Zero: "Who [i]else[/i] made these?!"


Renewed Energy (x1)

Clockwork recovers 10 hp.

Add one token to the Wind-Up card.

Play the top card of the Villain deck.

"Doesn't this thing ever stop?" -- Tachyon


Magnetic Sledgehammer (x1) (Illustration of an electrically-charged punch blasting Bunker in the chest.)

Clockwork deals H lightning damage to the Hero target with the most Equipment in play. Destroy all but one of that target's Equipment.

Remove two tokens from the Wind-Up card.

If there are tokens on the Wind-Up card, play the top card of the Villain deck.

"I dunno what that thing hit me with, but my system just went nuts!" -- Bunker

I really like Penumbra. Using heroes' decks as another resource is pretty inspired, and having all those cards quarantined has the potential to really mess up heroes that need particular cards. He sounds like he'd be a lot of fun.


Clockwork is pretty interesting. The wind up mechanism is a good idea. Not sure about having everything in the deck being a one shot though. It removes any options for the heroes - there's no targets to attack, no ongoings to destroy. All the heroes can do is attack him.


Really interesting mechanic ideas though. Good luck!

I like Penumbra but worry that, by locking away the wrong (right?) hero cards, you're going to have some players who get seriously screwed.

i dig Clockwork's wound-up and wound-down versions. Rather than introducing a new token concept to the game, maybe winding Clockwork back up could be handled by healing the indestructible Wind-up card instead?

Well the idea (especially with the advanced version) is that the heroes might need to "trade partners" and not try to beat "themselves". I mean, no matter what cards get stolen someone like Visionary pretty much has no chance to beat a Shadow anyway, so she'd need to lend support until someone takes care of her personal problem.

Although now it occurs to me that the Shadows would probably need some sort of protection from Into the Stratusphere. Man, that card just causes problems. :wink:

I like the idea of Clockwork and his whole "wind up" mechanic. It's pretty neat. But ax0r is right: it might be a problem for a lot of heroes who do spread damage. Then again, that's just part of the strategy. The only part I have a problem with is the card "Busted Spring", which just completely hurts the villain, and I feel like there shouldn't be any cards in any villain deck that are a help to the heroes. 

And Spiff makes a good point about the healing. And even though you made "Wind Up" indestructable, if it's going to have health, you would want to make sure to point out it is immune to damage. But this is assuming you go with the idea of "Wind Up" having HP that is loses then heals.

Honestly, even though I mentioned it might not be good to have only one villain target, I think the idea of a villain with only one-shots would make for an interesting and brutal game. Great job on Clockwork.

Wind Up doesn't have helath, nor is it a target. I'm just using damage counters in a different way to avoid the need for any additional resources, since we have them now.

Broken Spring was just a cute one-of I threw in, since the potential for some devastating cascades seemed like it wanted a better "stop sign". It can probably just as easily read "end the villain turn" without the complete hosing, though. Like I said: no testing. :)

I thought two things were particularly interesting about Penumbra - her weakness to radiant damage and the nightmare portal. I've often thought there needed to be more cost-reward immunities for villains, so your melee/projectile immunity/radiant weakness thing really shone thematic and mechanically for me. I'd love to play a villain with a nightmare portal - have you considered shfiting the focus of Penumbra to that? She seems sorta busy with the shadows and the portals and various single instances of cards. I think a Penumbra who starts with one portal on the table, the ability to have up to three portals in play, and a shadow-form for her flip would be a blast to play. Since nightmares are intangible, you could make everything that comes out of the portals immune to physical (melee/projectile/cold/fire) damage, which would force heroes to really hammer the portals themselves as they come out or hope that they brought along Fanatic, Visionary, or one of the IR heroes.

For Clockwork, have you considered using villain cards rather than tokens for winding him up? One of my submissions for the villain contest puts villain cards and destroyed devices/equipment beneath his time machine to simulate him revving it up. I've since play-tested him four times and it's worked perfectly straight out of the box. May be less fiddly and have the added bonus of giving heroes some much needed relief against a deck of one-shots and play-chains. You sure Clockwork wouldn't have some wind-up liutenants to protect him when he's flipped?

Nightmare Portal was a last-minute addition when I retro-fitted the alternate dimension theme to it/her. Originally my idea was a temporary corporeal form that had a weapon (kind of like a Combat Stance/Backlash Field) but that had to go. Didn't really put a lot of thought into it; just wanted something that could be smashed and that kind of explained how it/she got here.

Clockwork wouldn't have minions, since it's a mindless automaton. It's literally just a giant wind-up toy gone berzerk. I added the "is that alive" speculation to handwave why Unity can't just rip it to pieces with her power -- which, by the way, is a question I will always have in the back of my mind whenever there's a villain Device around and she's in the game.