Mysterium (Polish: Tajemnicze Domostwo) is a 2014 cooperative board game designed by Oleksandr Nevskiy & Oleg Sidorenko. It was published in English by Libellud in 2015.
The game is set on Halloween night, 1920, when a group of psychics gather at the isolated Warwick Manor in Scotland to contact the ghost of a manservant who died thirty-five 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 of 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, adding new cards to every category. The game's second expansion Secrets & Lies hit shelves in August of 2017, adding much of the same as the last one, as well as History Cards, giving context to the Ghost's terrible demise.
This tabletop-game provides examples of...
- Adventurer Archaeologist: One of the suspects, complete with pith helmet and mysterious idols.
- Crystal Ball: Conrad Mac Dowell inherited one from his ancestors and uses it to communicate with the ghost.
- 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.
- Halloween Episode: 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.
- 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.
- Mad Mathematician: Alphonse de Belcour, after the death of his brother in WWI.
- Madame Fortune: The Chinese clairvoyant represented by the red token is named Madam Wang.
- 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.
- 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 on the suspects having recognizable professions, in order for the ghost to give relevant clues (though some are more obvious than others).
- Tarot Motifs: Jessalyn Smith uses tarot cards to communicate with the ghost haunting Warwick Manor.
- 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.
- Vagueness Is Coming: The Board Game. The ghost cannot simply say it was the barber who killed me in the garden with a hammer. Instead, the ghost only provides abstract images, like... a bunch of rabbits falling into a tunnel. A man in a plague mask on a train. A falling top hat. Its up to the players to determine what the image or set of images is intended to communicate.