Don’t be fooled by the rocks that she’s got, Jenny is most definitely not from the block. She is, however, the second investigator I’ve played in all 5 Arkham Horror Files games and, therefore, our second Investigator Revisited.
Guinevere Barnes, more commonly known as Jenny is a wealthy socialite, and the daughter of a professor of Arthurian studies.
Her official description is “The Dilettante” – and you will often see people arguing that this is nothing more than a typo for Debutante, but FFG have doubled-down on what they’ve written – a dabbler, a trifler, someone who cultivates an interest, but without any real commitment. In Jenny’s case, she is an amateur Archaeologist, using her considerable trust fund to finance various digs, and getting involved herself. It is during one of these digs that she finds the Green Man Medallion, an artefact which she then delivers to her sister Izzie.
Izzie is Jenny’s doorway into the Mythos. Her happy life of bouncing between archaeological digs and cocktail parties on yachts on the French Riviera is shattered by the news that her sister has disappeared. Returning to New England, she hunts for clues, and discovers that there are more things in heaven and on earth than were dreamt of in her philosophy.
Jenny is rich, and this is a theme that is played up to heavily, across various games, with high influence scores, and means of resource generation. Stat-wise, she varies from title to title rather more.
Her low-cut dress and enormous hat have definitely lead some players I’ve known to be a bit dismissive of Jenny, but she actually feels like one of the series’ more developed characters, and has powerful abilities in many of the titles.
The Original Arkham Horror gave Jenny a very simple ability – a $1 income every round. Not being a particularly experienced Arkham player, I’ve not managed to leverage this to great effect, and generally found her stacking up piles and piles of cash with nothing obvious to spend it on (I’ve only played her in 2-investigators games, possibly with a higher player-count she can be the designated shopper for the party, and let others go travelling to other worlds…)
That aside, Jenny’s stats are nothing to write home about – she only has 1 focus, which limits her flexibility, and whilst her sanity is solid, it comes at the expense of only 4 stamina, which makes her vulnerable if she gets into a fight.
Not necessarily a bad character, but certainly looking for something better.
In Elder Sign, Jenny has 6 sanity and 4 health, and can discard a common item, clue or spell to gain the Red & Yellow dice. The fact that she isn’t a 3 for either stat helps her to stay alive, but it’s her ability that makes her stand out.
We hadn’t really used Jenny all that much before I started writing this article, but it’s really powerful if you can get on a roll. Unless your investigators are really in a hole, it’s generally not that hard to find an adventure that offers at least one out of common item/spell/clue as its reward, and once you can do that, you’ll be semi-reliably rolling 8 dice instead 6 on most of your turns. Jenny’s ability stacks well with Blessed, and she is generally a character who can generate huge momentum.
People have queried how exactly this represents a “trust fund” (which is the title of the ability), saying that it feels more like having a master magician on the team, one who can continuously pull dice out of hats. In all honesty, Elder Sign is probably the game where the theme has the least depth in the mechanics, but whatever you say about her, it’s hard to deny Jenny’s power, and it’s power that comes from having “all the stuff.”
In Eldritch Horror, Jenny is one of the very high influence investigators, in a similar vein to Charlie Kane or Preston Fairmont. Charlie is the King of Tokyo, sitting there and smooth-talking the Japanese military into dealing with all your monster problems, whilst giving his spare actions to your other investigators.
Jenny plays very differently: her shopping skills are clearly more honed, and she is better equipped to actually do some fighting, but she starts in the Caribbean, which is a long way from Tokyo.
It’s also worth noting that her personal mission sends her traipsing all over the world, as she looks for Izzie at 3 randomly determined locations: there’s much less of an obvious role for her to fill.
I’m also not a great fan of the slant on Jenny’s backstory that we get in Eldritch Horror, which seems to be pushing her far more into the vapid socialite stereotype, something which is really brought her home by her abysmal 1 Lore. I’m definitely more of a fan of the approach taken in more recent material (LCG, Investigators book, Novella), which depicts her pursuing legitimate academic interests, albeit with the casual ease that comes only to the truly wealthy.
Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition)
Although Mansions uses the Trust Fund name for Jenny’s power, the ability here is actually a bit more nuanced: not only can she gain clues if she has none, but she gets to heal horror as part of the same action – this can be really powerful in some of the long investigation-heavy scenarios where simply the slow attrition of time will gradually send people insane.
Again she is highly influential, and reasonably agile. Although her brute strength is nothing to write home about, the fact that none of her stats is below a 3 makes her a good all-rounder, and 4 agility is pretty good for attacking with firearms. She can also spend her clues a little more freely than other investigators, as she has an in-built way to recover them, although it’s probably too expensive action-wise to trigger too often.
Living Card Game
It’s the nature of the Living Card game format that the characters get more developed than elsewhere in the Files: there are simply that many more aspects to an LCG character than an Elder Sign/Mansions one.
In the LCG, Jenny is a Rogue, which dictates a lot of the cards she can include in her deck, and she has a very even stat-line, with 3s across the board. Jenny generates twice the resources of any other investigator, allowing her to tool up, or to fuel the various mercenary talents seen in the game.
Her Elder Sign effect gives you +1 skill for each resource she has, an ability which isn’t capped. Up until now this has generally just been a “you didn’t pull a nasty negative token” ability, as well as powering up Rogue’s “Succeed by 2” tricks, like many investigators. However, with an increasing number of effects that can guarantee pulling the Elder Sign for a specific test (Seal of the Elder Sign, Codex of Ages), you can use that boost strategically for some really big bomb effects, either passing impossible tests, or getting major boosts out of “succeed by X” cards.
Streetwise isn’t the most efficient of the permanent talents, but it may well be the most powerful, and Jenny is uniquely positioned to take advantage of it with her extra income. Jenny can access all Rogue cards, but like the other investigators from the Dunwich box, she can also take 5 level zero cards from any other class, giving her access to Dr Milan Christopher for a respectable 4 intellect, and an unparalleled amount of cash.
Jenny’s signature asset is a pair of guns, her “Twin .45s” – these occupy both hand-slots, but in return they offer an amount of ammo equal to the number of resources spent on her – combo this with Contraband, and there are few in the game who can match this firepower.
Her signature weakness is “Searching for Izzie” a card which will drag her away from the party, chasing down any rumours of her sister. Failure to do this can give her a mental trauma if “Searching for Izzie” is still around at the end of the scenario, so she really does need to pursue that lead, but it can prove a major let-off in any scenario where locations get discarded before game end.
The Hour of the Huntress novella made Jenny the first investigator in the game to get “replacement” cards – a new weakness and signature asset. The asset, Green Man Medallion, is a particularly interesting one as it allows her to convert resources into XP. The rate of 6:1 is fairly punishing, and it only counts against the next card you upgrade after the scenario, making it hard to save up for later. However, given how many high-XP cards there are for rogues, it’s a very attractive option for when you do find yourself sat on a huge stack of cash. I know that a lot of people were hoping for a Lonnie ally as the new asset, but what we have is probably more interesting, certainly in terms of how it pushes the boundaries of the game, even if it is a little less fun!
Along with the new asset, Jenny also gets an additional weakness, an enemy which prevents her from gaining resources from card effects (this includes her innate ability). This beast is a nasty one, with 4 fight, and 3 health, meaning you’ll inevitably have to attack it (at least) twice, and it’s going to start a fair distance away so, much like Looking for Izzie, you’ll have to take time away from the investigation to deal with it.
The Hour of her story
As I already mentioned earlier, Jenny was the first investigator to be given one of the new wave of Novellas, Hour of the Huntress. We’ve already looked at the player cards, but I wanted to take a few moments considering how her character is developed here.
Jenny is shown as a self-confident woman, someone happy mixing it up with mobsters, or generally going by herself, even into some of Arkham’s more dubious location. Her intellect and general level of lore seems to be fairly good.
Hour of the Huntress actually takes place some while after Jenny’s story from the Investigators of Arkham Horror book, which is comprised from a selection of journal entries and letters to Izzie. The dig seemed to attract a lot of superstition from locals, to the point where grumbling turned into a riot, the site virtually destroyed. Jenny was fortunate enough to escape with her life, her health and the medallion, of which she made a copy and sent it to a gift as her sister.
Hour of the Huntress [slight spoilers follow] picks this theme up and runs with it, making the medallion the reason that Izzie was initially abducted by a cult – they wanted a way to lure Jenny to Arkham, so that they could steal it from her. I won’t gave away the whole ending, but you can rely on nefarious cultists, a few terrifying monsters, and a young woman who emerges with a keen sense that there are forces out there which need to be confronted.
I like Jenny. Out of all the investigators of Arkham Horror, she feels like one of the most developed and despite a spot of superficial silliness, she is actually a character who rings true in most of the situations that she finds herself.
The big hat and the short dress mean that she’ll never be short of her detractors, and there’s definitely an extent to which her outfit earns her a place on the art for various cards, but make no mistake. Jenny is perhaps the most powerful investigator we have for Elder Sign, and a significant force to be reckoned with in most of the Arkham Horror Files games.