Best-Laid Plans: Scarlet Politics

Introduction

During the Scarlet Keys campaign, when you arrive in Tunguska for Congress of the Keys, you aren’t headed straight for the setup of that scenario. Instead, you are judged by the Red Coterie, with various outcomes depending on how you acted towards its members during the campaign. If you are going for a certain ending, this is going to shape how you want to plan your route through the campaign. This is an overview of the options and how to get there.

Possible outcomes…

You are being deemed a liability: This is pretty much the default outcome, with more (or equal the amount of) coterie members voting against you than for you. You don’t have to work hard to make enemies in this campaign and in turn no special planning is required!

You are being deemed an asset: If you gather more voices in your favor than against you, this is the outcome, unless one of the following more specialized ones is true. To check how to get there, we need to find our swing voters, the ones that vote against you by default, even if you didn’t cross their paths.

You overthrow the coterie: This requires two things: More votes in your favor than against and you need to secure the vote of La Chica Roja, Ece and Desi.

You join the coterie: Again, this requires the vote to end in your favor in total, but also all of Thorne, Tuwile and the Claret Knight must be on your side.

You are spared: This is the result of successfully finishing Without a Trace. The (real) Red-Gloved Man steps in and stops the count.

The coterie is destroyed: The Outsiders manage to infiltrate the coterie from within and hollow it. To get there, any two out of Thorne, Aliki and Desi must be “eerily silent”, meaning they got replaced by outsiders.

There are three different versions of the final scenario that are mostly different during the first act and in what kind of support you are getting from the coterie members.

Version 1 you get when you are deemed a liability, meaning you lost the vote.
Version 2 is for when you win the vote, no matter if it’s by overthrowing the coterie, by joining it or just by being deemed an asset.
Version 3 is used if you are spared or if the coterie is destroyed, as either of those outcomes will pit the remaining members directly against the outsiders.

… and how to get there

Most of these are fairly self-explanatory in concept, but if you want to actually win the vote (more than 50% of the coterie vote “Nay”), this isn’t all that easy. Let’s start by taking a look at the default state of the votes, if you were to just wait out 15 time after Riddles and Rain and go straight to Tunguska without crossing paths with any of the coterie members:

“Yea”“Nay”eerily silentabstain or not present
BeastClaret KnightRed-Gloved ManThorne
AmaranthEceChica Roja
AlikiWatcher
Desi
Tzu San
Tuwile
The default voting pattern

Since a tie between the Yeas and the Nays will count as a Yea, you need to sway at least 3 people to your side… and even that’s only enough if you don’t make any other new enemies. We’ll look at the details in a bit, but first let’s also check out how the voting goes if we were to satisfy the conditions for the “overthrow coterie” or “join coterie” endings:

“Yea”“Nay”eerily silentabstain or not present
BeastClaret KnightRed-Gloved ManThorne
AmaranthEce(Watcher)
AlikiDesi
(Watcher)Chica Roja
Tzu San
Tuwile
Overthrowing the Coterie: requires La Chica, Desi and Ece on your side
“Yea”“Nay”eerily silentabstain or not present
(Beast)Claret KnightRed-Gloved Man(Beast)
AmaranthEceChica Roja
AlikiThorneWatcher
DesiTuwile
Tzu San
Joining the Coterie: requires Thorne, Tuwile and the Knight on your side

Remember that just getting the required support from the three coterie members isn’t enough. You also need to win the vote, which in both cases is going to require some additional help. You also need to not finish Without A Trace successfully or have three eerily silent voters, otherwise those conditions overwrite the voting process.

If you want to join the coterie, this is what to do then:
You need to secure the vote from Thorne (which means you need to strike a deal with them in Anchorage), with Tuwile (requires moving from Nairobi to Bermuda without being too hostile to the coterie) and Claret Knight (who by default votes for you, but if you aid him in Alexandria you will also remove Beast’s vote against you). To break the tie after removing Beast from the picture, either bring Desi to your side in Havana (get the intel from Moscow beforehand), make Amaranth leave the coterie in Marrakesh (requires intel from San Francisco) or get Tzu San under your sway in Kuala Lumpur. Out of these three, Desi is by far the easiest to get on your side. You could also try and get La Chica Roja on your side, but that is risky as it does require you to get to the second part of the scenario and then resign (otherwise the Watcher will balance her vote out). Technically, you can do Without a Trace and resign from it without the Red-Gloved Man. That will turn Aliki’s vote in your favor without nullifying the vote completely. That’s a lot of effort though.

If you want to overthrow it, you need to do the following:
Get La Chica Roja on your side. This requires getting to the second part of the Buenos Aires scenario (“Seeing Red”). If you resign during that part, you also stop the Watcher from voting against you so i strongly suggest doing that. Getting Desi on your side is dependent on not just finishing Havana successfully, but also on picking the right Desi out of the two – the wrong one will be eerily silent. So if you go for this ending, get the intel from Moscow to not leave it to chance. Ece is on your side by default and you can just ignore Istanbul for this outcome. As before, you will need additional support from the coterie which means taking Amaranth and/or Tzu San out of the picture (see above for details) or swinging Tuwile over to your side. You can also work with the Claret Knight in Alexandria to remove the Beast’s vote. Tuwile is far easier to gain the support of and will actively vote in your favor instead of just abstaining, so that’s my suggestion here. Again, Aliki is technically an option.

Finally, here’s how to intentionally have the coterie hollowed and destroyed from within:
You need three outsiders in the coterie. You have one by default in the Red-Gloved Man, so you need two more. There are three options, the most difficult by far of them is Aliki, as you will need to take her to Without a Trace, then have her be defeated in that scenario while you resign without rescueing the real Red-Gloved Man. What a waste of time. The two better options are Desi and Thorne. To have Desi hollowed, finish Havana successfully, but pick the “wrong” Desi in the final act. Gain intel in Moscow beforehand if you don’t want to leave it to chance. Thorne needs to disappear as a result of the Anchorage scenario which happens if you complete it successfully while Thorne gets defeated along the way (either as an enemy or story ally).

Best-Laid Plans

This page is part of my “Best-Laid Plans” series of campaign Deep Dives. For Scarlet Keys, i had to break it up into parts due to sheer volume. Find the rest of the Deep Dive and other articles about this campaign at my Scarlet Keys hub.

Spatial Anomaly

Set Size8
Number of unique Cards3
RoleDamage, Horror, Agility, Willpower, Hollow
Threat LevelLow
# of scenarios3
Appears in: On Thin Ice, Dogs of War (all versions), Congress of the Keys (v1)

My take on this set: Cool cards, i like how Beyond the Pale and Splintered Space work on a mechanical level. That being said, i don’t really think this set is used all that well in the campaign. On Thin Ice is a scenario where the players need to be fairly mobile and cross a decent amount of locations in short time. As a result, there is not much danger of these Hexes stacking on top of each other to do their thing. I suppose they work as another motivation to stay on the move, but they are rather meek draws from that particular encounter deck. For Congress of the Keys, Spatial Anomaly is only used for version 1, in the “fake-out” first encounter deck that is only used for the first one or two turns before you find the Red-Gloved Man and move on to The Outside. In my not always very humble opinion having to assemble that encounter deck only to discard it almost immediately is already a waste of time, but an encounter set that thrives on collecting multiples from the same set and stacking their effects is particularly pointless in that context.
That leaves Dogs of War and that is the one scenario where this set gets to shine. Most of what’s happening in that scenario is concentrated in the four locations with the Key Loci and often just on one or two specific ones that are under attack (by either the Crimson Beast or you). This leads to players tending to stick to the same location for an extended period, giving them time to draw into stacking Hexes. Dogs of War is also the only set that has more Hexes in it than the three from this set, with two copies of the scenario specific Locus Pulse (which deals more damage and horror).
So in conclusion, i do like the set and Dogs of War gives it at least one place to be relevant. But i do wish this was used better elsewhere. I believe this would’ve fit pretty well into the Havana scenario for example. Or Riddles and Rain.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Beyond the Pale attaches to the location of the investigator. Following a failed willpower test, the investigator is dealt 1 horror for each Hex at their location, including this copy of Beyond the Pale. The treachery attaches to the location no matter the outcome of the willpower test. Once all 3 copies of Beyond the Pale are in play, they are discarded.

My take: This is a cute iteration on the Rotting Remains formula. Outside of Dogs of War, it isn’t all that threatening though. There’s an element of player count scaling with these, as bigger groups are more likely to draw into multiple Hexes when they stick together. But unless you spend a long time at the same location, these are unlikely to stack up.

Threat level: Low. Mid in Dogs of War.

Dealing with it: To avoid pulling multiple Hex treacheries in the same mythos phase, you can consider splitting up the team over multiple locations. Not ending your turn on locations that already have Hexes attached will also help you spread these around, making both their initial impact weaker and also helping to make future draws of either Beyond the Pale or Splintered Space more manageable.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Splintered Space attaches to the location of the investigator. Following a failed agility test, the investigator is dealt 1 damage for each Hex at their location, including this copy of Splintered Space. The treachery attaches to the location no matter the outcome of the agility test. Once all 3 copies of Splintered Space are in play, they are discarded.

My take: Since this is pretty much a mirror version of Beyond the Pale, i am just going to refer you to the above and ask you to replace every mention of willpower with agility, horror with damage and Rotting Remains with Grasping Hands :)

Threat level: see above

Dealing with it: see above

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Warped Reality attaches to the investigator’s location and stays there until someone uses an double action to discard it. Any player ending their turn at Warped Reality’s location has to hollow one of the non-weakness cards from their hand.

My take: This is fine. You get to choose the card you set aside which makes it a reasonable cost to pay. I actually find the fact that this is another Hex for Splintered Space and Beyond the Pale to scale from more relevant than its own effect of eating up a card.

Threat level: Low. Not a particularly threatening effect, mostly notable for being a persistent Hex treachery.

Dealing with it: Many times you will be able to just avoid ending your turn on its location. Doing so will also prevent it from stacking up with Splintered Space and Beyond the Pale. When that is not possible, it will usually be preferable to just finish your business at that location as soon as possible and moving on instead of wasting your precious actions on the discard ability of Warped Reality.