Tabletop Game / Mysterium

“Dearest Alphonse...I would be honored if Alma, Ardhashir, Madam Wang, Jessalyn, and your good self could join me without delay to solve this mystery."
Conrad Mcdowell, letter dated Sept. 19, 1920

Mysterium is a cooperative tabletop game, reworked from a previous Polish board game, Tajemnicze Domostwo (designed by Oleksandr Nevskiy & Oleg Sidorenko), and published for the first time in English by Libellud in 2015. The game is set on Halloween night 1920, when a group of psychics gather at an isolated Scottish manor to contact the ghost of a manservant who died there years ago. Over the course of a seven hour seance, the ghost sends them visions of the people, items, and locations that may have been present at the time off his death. Only after all the psychics have deciphered their visions can the truth finally be revealed.

Before the game begins, players choose one person to act as the ghost, while the rest will control the psychics. Over the course of up to seven rounds, the ghost will send the psychics dreams in the form of abstract, surreal scenes depicted on 'vision cards'. The psychics will have to interpret these visions as corresponding to the potential people, locations, and objects laid out on the board. Once each psychic has correctly identified their unique person, location, and object, the ghost will send out three cards in the form of a final vision; players must then figure out which of the psychics has had visions of the actual murder scene.

Mysterium's first expansion Hidden Signs was released in June 2016.

Mysterium contains examples of...

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: One of the suspects, complete with pith helmet and mysterious idols.
  • All Hallows' Eve: The ghost is only able to send his visions on Samhain (Halloween) because the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest.
  • Expy: The barber shares a haircut and profession with Sweeney Todd.
  • Fortune Teller: Subverted, as the psychic who specializes in crystal gazing is a Scottish man.
  • Haunted Castle: Played straight. Warwick Manor, where the game takes place, is a Scottish castle with a ghost.
  • I Am Not My Father: Although Ardhashir's family traditionally served the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, he decided instead to travel the world and hone his craft.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Newspaper clippings show that the ghost's demise was ultimately ruled an accident. His haunting of the house strongly implies this was not the case.
  • Mad Mathematician: Alphonse de Belcour, after the death of his brother in WWI.
  • Rich Boredom: Jessalyn Smith had this before discovering her gift.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: Madam Wang was inducted into one of these as a child when her gift for the I-Ching was discovered.
  • Spooky Séance: The premise of the game is that the psychics are holding a seance to contact the ghost.
  • Stage Magician: One of the suspects is this, as shown by his cape, gloves, and wand, as well as pictures of theaters on his card.
  • Stock Costume Traits: The game relies heavily upon the suspects having recognizable professions, in order for the ghost to give relevant clues (though some are more obvious than others).
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: Subverted for the psychics, as Conrad genuinely wants their help channeling the ghost. Even if they fail, the worst that can happen is they must wait another year before holding another seance.
  • The Roaring '20s: The game is set near the end of 1920.
  • Undeath Always Ends: If the psychics correctly identify the murderer, the ghost finally moves on to the afterlife.
  • Unfinished Business: The ghost has remained at the castle for the thirty-five years since his murder, hoping to relay his message to someone.