You are about to enter a haunted house. Something terrible happened here. You can sense it lingering just beyond your peripheral vision as you step inside the decrepit domicile. It weights the air. It clings to the walls like the sound of a far away scream. You know what it is. Pain. Long, unresolved, unjust pain.
Invited to Investigate
You have been summoned to this place for a series of seances with several other highly sensitive personages (a famous medium, an exotic visitor from the Far East, a beautiful gypsy, a famous detective, an inquisitive journalist, and an officer of the law) in order to divine the circumstances of the murder of a former inhabitant of this home.
The victim's spirit floats among you even now, mum, but desperate to communicate. They know who killed them, where in the mansion it was done, and how. If your team of investigators can, with the help of this ghost, finally speak the name of the culprit, the ghost can find peace. Time is of the essence, however. The anniversary of the crime approaches and it is only during this one week each year that contact with the ghost is possible.
Haunted by Dreams
Police records about the crime are spotty but they suggest a number of possibilities. You study the clues but get nowhere and decide to retire for the night and reconvene tomorrow. Sleeping in this creepy place is difficult but somehow you manage to quiet your mind. The next morning, over breakfast you remember the strangest dream and share it with the other investigators. They are startled and confess that they too were visited with unusual dreams. It must be the spirit attempting to communicate!
After discussing the imagery in your dreams, you realize that the ghost is communicating a unique message to each of you. All of your dreams point to people. A different person for each of you. Why? The police had suspected the murder was a plot. Perhaps some cosmic affinity tunes each of you to a different conspirator. Whatever the case may be, you each take your best guess at which suspect the ghost is pointing you toward. You place your markers on those suspects' pictures, join hands and call on the spirit. The temperature in the room suddenly drops, the lights flicker and before your eyes the markers start to vibrate. Some of them fly off the table! The ghost has spoken. Those guesses were wrong.
A Series of Seances
What a breakthrough! Your team has contacted the other side! More importantly, you now have a methodology to solve this crime and release this tortured soul. Over the next several nights you receive more dreams and chip away at the mystery – first locating the conspirators, then the rooms they planned to commit the murder in, and finally the murder weapons they planned to use. But which of these was the actual killer? Into which room did the unlucky victim wander and meet their fate?
The night after all conspirators, rooms and weapons have been identified, everyone reports having the same dream! It is a dream in three parts that seem to point toward the person, the place and the thing. Which part is which is unclear, but now your group can attempt to identify which of the three plans culminated in murder...
Tajemnicze Domostwo is the Polish version of the Ukranian game Mictepiym which is soon to be released in English as Mysterium. All three of these games have slightly different game pieces and rules.
Tortured Domicile is a rules varient for Tajemnicze Domostwo. It is designed to smooth and speed that game's play using that game's components and a game screen you construct. Its rules are largely based on the original Ukranian version of the game. Many thanks to those who translated the rules of Mictepiym and Tajemnicze Domostwo into English.
The files for the screen fronts are prepared for printing on 11" x 17" paper. Trim these down to 11" square. The file for the backs is prepared for 8.5" x 11" paper. Use card stock for the backs. Trim them to slightly less than 10.5" wide. Glue the screen fronts to 10.5" squares of thick cardboard wrapping the extra paper of each around the edges of the cardboard. Next, hinge the backs of the screen sections together with tape. Now comes the tricky part, finishing the back of the screen.
The main purpose of the screen is to hold up to eighteen Spirit Cards for easy viewing by the person playing the Ghost. Some other crafty gamers have used card sleeves or photo album corners to hold the Spirit Cards on the screen. I cut slits in the backing card-stock to create shallow, one-quarter inch deep, pockets into which I insert the Spirit Cards. This method requires some precise application of glue when mounting the card-stock so that glue-free voids will be left below each slit.
Cut each slit before gluing and mark the back of the card stock and the cardboard it is being glued to so that you know precisely where to spread glue. It's a bit fussy, but it works! Glue some plain card stock to the tops of each section to cover the last of the bare cardboard.
Tortured Domicile: Game Set Up
Light the candles, turn off the lights, and open the mysterious box labelled Tajemnicze Domostwo. Each player takes an Investigator Board and a Marker of the same colour, except for the person playing the role of the Ghost. The Ghost takes all remaining game components and:
1) Shuffles the three decks of Investigator Cards (brown backs) and deals a number of cards from each deck, face up, onto the game table according to this formula depending on the Difficulty Level of game desired: the number of Investigators plus three (Easy), Investigators plus four (Normal), plus five (Difficult), or plus six (Very Difficult). For example, for an Easy four-player game —one Ghost and three Investigators— the Ghost deals six Character Cards, six Location Cards, and six Item Cards. These cards form the Clue Tableau.
1a) Places all unused Investigator Cards back in the game box. Note: players may immediately begin studying these cards while set-up continues.
2) Lays the Calendar Board on the game table and places the Wooden Marker on Day 1.
3) Places the Tortured Domicile Screen between themself and the game pieces already laid on the table, and behind this screen, in a manner that hides their actions from the Investigators:
a) Locates, in the decks of Spirit Cards (blue backs), those cards identical to the Investigator Cards dealt to the Clue Tableau. Shuffles these three sub-decks of Spirit Cards and from each, deals to themself a number of cards equal to the number of Investigators. Places these cards into the back of the Tortured Domicile Screen such that they are arranged in columns: one Character, one Location, and one Item Card per Column. Places all unused Spirit Cards back in the game box.
b) From the remaining Markers, takes the Markers corresponding in colour to those already chosen by players and randomly places one of these at the bottom of each Column. These Column Markers now indicate the Investigator Cards that each Investigator must identify in the Clue Tableau during the course of Stage One of the game. Places any unused Markers (and Investigator Boards) back in the game box.
c) Shuffles the deck of Dream Cards (green backs). Draws a Hand of seven Dream Cards and begins play.
Tortured Domicile: Rules of Play
Play proceeds in seven Rounds and is divided into two Stages:
1) The Plot, and 2) The Culprit.
Each Stage consists of three Phases:
1) Haunted Dreams, 2) Investigation, and 3) Seance.
In Stage One, Investigators attempt to discover the nature of the criminal plot against the person murdered in the tortured domicile.
In Phase One (Haunted Dreams), the Ghost gives one or more Dream Cards from their Hand to an Investigator to help them place their Marker in the next Phase. They move that Investigator's Column Marker slightly away from the Tortured Domicile Screen. They then draw their Hand back to up seven Dream Cards, and repeat this process until they have moved all Column Markers, at which point they move all Markers to their original positions flush with the Screen. If none of the Cards in their Hand are useful, the Ghost may discard their entire Hand and draw seven new Dream Cards. Depending on the Difficulty Level of the game, they may do this: once per round (Easy), three times per game but no more than once per round (Normal), once per game (Difficult), or never (Very Difficult). (The Ghost may use Progress Markers (small clocks) to track refreshes for Normal and Difficult games.) If the deck of Dream Cards runs out, shuffle the discarded Dream Cards into a new deck.
In Phase Two (Investigation), the Investigators discuss the Dream Cards they're been given. The Ghost may never speak. Investigators keep their Cards face up in front of them. They may start this Phase as soon any Investigator has a new Dream Card. This Phase ends when each Investigator has placed their Marker on a Card in the Clue Tableau. Investigators must place their Marker on a Character Card until they have Character Card in their Hand. Then they must place their Marker on a Location Card until they have a Location Card in their Hand. Finally, they must place their Marker on an Item Card.
In Phase Three (Seance), the Ghost checks each Investigator's Marker against that Investigator's Column Marker behind the Tortured Domicile Screen to see if they placed their Markers correctly. They instruct Investigators to close their eyes, then they move any incorrectly placed Markers from the Clue Tableau onto the bare table. Investigators open their eyes and those who guessed correctly retrieve their Markers and take the Cards they were on into their Hands. They then return their Dream Cards to the Ghost who discards them. Investigators who guessed incorrectly, simply retrieve their Markers.
At the end of Phase Three, the Ghost advances the Marker on the Calendar Board and play continues through another Round starting with another Phase One. If it is not possible to advance the Marker, the game is over and the player acting as Ghost cannot go home, but must haunt the game venue until Tortured Domicile is played again and won.
Once each Investigator has collected three Investigator Cards into their Hand (the correct Character, Location and Item Card secretly assigned to them during Set Up), Stage Two begins.
In Stage Two, Investigators seek the identity of the conspirator who actually committed the murder, the culprit.
At the start of Stage Two, the Ghost removes all remaining Investigator Cards from the Clue Tableau and discards them. A new Clue Tableau is built from the Hands of the Investigators keeping each set of three Investigator Cards from each Investigator grouped together. The Ghost gathers the Investigator Markers from the Investigators and, behind the Tortured Domicile Screen, randomly selects one Investigator Marker. The correspondingly coloured Column Marker indicates the culprit, the scene of the crime, and the murder weapon! The Ghost moves all Column Markers to this Column and returns all Investigator Markers to the Investigators.
Phases proceed as before, except now, in Phase One the Ghost gives three and only three Dream Cards to the entire group. These Cards are given all at once and in no particular order although one Card must be a clue to the murder weapon, one must be a clue to the murder location, and one must be a clue to the murderer. In Phase Two, the Investigators must place all of their Markers on the same Character Card. And in Phase Three, if the Investigators placed their Markers correctly, the game is won by all players! As you pack up the game, the presence of the ghost fades and calm descends on your house.
Here are the above rules for printing on letter-sized paper, if you want a copy to throw in your game box. 3 pages.