Fatal Mirage

Encounter sets in this scenario: Fatal Mirage, Agents of the Unknown, Left Behind, Miasma, Nameless Horrors, Silence and Mystery, Chilling Cold
Available experience: For each of the 9 team members, there’s either 1XP (if they are alive) or 2XP to gain (if they aren’t), for a theoretical total of: 18XP

Size of the Encounter Deck38
# Enemies9
# Willpower13
# Agility2
# Doom12
# Damage4
# Horror8
# Tekeli-li10

Synopsis: The investigators, exhausted from the things they had to go through, enter a dreamscape in their sleep. In this, they meet up with their team mates and relive events from their past, which they hopefully are able to face and steel their resolve for the things to come. Alternatively they meet echoes of their fallen partners and learn from them. Either way, the investigators are facing a rather big map consisting of 19(!) locations that can be put into play as the players make progress on grabbing clues and spending them for progress. It’s way too much to uncover in one go, so there are up to 3 opportunities to enter Fatal Mirage along the campaign trail. For each expedition member, there are three locations that connect it to the central one (with the first being shared among several partners). At the end of such a trail, the players either have to defeat a special elite enemy to turn their partner “resolute” or, if the partner is already dead/missing, they just gain some experience as they learn more about the person.

My take on this scenario: This scenario uses a rather large encounter deck, which leads to some increased variance in draws. There are some main themes to expect, though. For one, there’s a bunch of doom acceleration here that players will need to deal with if they want to achieve as much as they can. Then, there’s a decent amount of Tekeli-li related cards around which will likely lead to players finishing the scenario with more of those weaknesses in their deck then when they entered Fatal Mirage. Finally, the scenario very noticeably cuts back on the agility tests and damage sources that are everywhere else in Edge of the Earth. Instead, willpower and horror take the front stage, like it used to be in Carcosa times.
The strength of this scenario lies in it’s narrative, containing valuable background info on the people you have in your expedition. It’s also a way to protect your favored partner assets from random disaster later on. Mechanically and in terms of gameplay i don’t find Fatal Mirage all that enticing, though. Despite the high concept and the number of locations and special enemies, it all plays out very formulaic and repetitive. I just don’t think Fatal Mirage holds up very well on replays. This is a big deal, considering that it’s supposed to even be replayed up to three times in one playthrough. If i’m perfectly honest, i wish the massive amount of card budget that was spent on locations and enemies here would’ve been spent on enhancing the other scenarios instead or on making two more “conventional” scenarios.

Scenario specific encounter cards: The Fatal Mirage set adds three cards to the deck, each of them with three copies. Horrifying Shade is an aloof hunter enemy that punishes players for discovering clues at its location in the worst possible way: With doom tokens. You’ll certainly want to get rid of this one. Also playing into the doom theme, Anamnesis threatens to be an Ancient Evils… but you get a chance to take 2 horror instead. Considering the amount of horror sources around this could be an issue. Finally, Evanescent Mist adds extra clues to locations and slows them down by making them either spend more clues or taking damage. With how few other damage sources are around, taking that damage should often be not too much of an issue.

Act/Agenda: While there are 3 act cards and 3 agenda cards in the Fatal Mirage set, only one each is used for a play of the scenario. The three versions only differ in doom threshold and flavor text and are used depending on if this is your first, second or third visit to the dreamscape in this campaign. The act only vaguely hints at a goal and that there are limited opportunities to leave Fatal Mirage. This is true, the only opportunity to finish comes when players either defeat a Memory elite or reach the final location for a dead partner. The agenda offers the ability to warp to the central location as a free action at the cost of a horror. A fair price to pay if it saves multiple actions. Of course, it also provides the doom threshold, which is different depending on how many Fatal Mirage plays you already did. It’s 15 doom for the first time, reduced to 13 and 11 for the second and third visit.

The Memory Eidolons: At the end of each partner specific trail waits a memory to be defeated, as long as the partner in question is still alive. These are elite enemies with above average stat lines, Retaliate or Alert (or both) and some sort of alternative way of defeating them. This can be something like accepting Frost tokens to defeat them or dealing them damage on evading. There’s nine different ones of course, one for each team member. Defeating them will flip them to their story side, awarding 1XP and turning the expedition member into their resolute version with better abilities, stats and protection from randomly being chosen by murderous story events. The group then gets the choice to resign or to continue and try to get another memory done. Most of these aren’t terribly hard to defeat, but if you aren’t able to fulfill their special condition for extra damage, their stamina pool can make them take a lot of time… time that you usually don’t have, especially if you plan on going for more memories afterwards.

Other enemies: Agents of the Unknown throws Primordial Evil into the mix, a quite dangerous hunter enemy. Opposite of that, there’s the missing researchers from Left Behind, which add to the doom theme and require alternate ways of getting them from the board than just killing them. The scenario specific Horrifying Shade lies somewhere in the middle, being a milder but still respectable foe in combat than the Evil, and it’s using doom mechanics to play into what the Left Behind set is doing. The hunters can be an issue in this scenario because it’s somewhat linear and can require backtracking, but remember that if necessary you can spend a horror and warp back to the starting location.

Tekeli-li: About 1 in 4 encounter cards are relating to Tekeli-li weaknesses, which isn’t an excessive amount but the high variance of such a big deck can still leave you with draws that stack these on top of each other. The combination of Agents of the Unknown with Nameless Horrors can have a huge impact for investigators with low willpower as they are neither able to resist The Madness Within or easily capable of discarding Blasphemous Visions. Danforth is very useful in Fatal Mirage, both as a way to soften the blow from Tekeli-li and to provide an emergency soak for excessive amounts of horror. Speaking of Danforth, should you follow his line of memories, you will have to go through locations that all also relate to Tekeli-li in some way.

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Locations: The large stack of locations and the Mirage keyword make this look a lot more complicated than it really is. You have your central location, the Prison of Memories. From there, you can discover ways into one of three hub locations. This is the red lines in the image above. From there, you can move into three further locations, indicated by the yellow lines. Finally, you follow a green line from there into one or two final locations. What this means is that you need to cross three locations to get to your first memory, but some memories share locations with others so successive ones might be easier to get to afterwards. As an example, to find William Dyer’s memory and make him resolute, you need to move from the Prison of Memories into either the Deck of the Theodosia or the University Halls, then into the Standing Stones and finally into Dyer’s Classroom. Afterwards, getting to Claypool’s memory is going to be easier because his final location The Black Stone also branches off of the Standing Stones.
In terms of shroud values, it starts rather tame near the center of the map but gets more difficult on the final locations that hold the memory. Having the right partner with you will lower the shroud value, but you should probably save any limited investigation tools (like Drawn to the Flame or Read the Signs) for those difficult ones.
The amount of clues to discover in this scenario is gigantic and having a consistent source of extra clues(Pilfer(3), Rex Murphy…) is going to be even more powerful than ever here.
As a final note on these locations, take care to read their connections correctly. They don’t all allow for moving back to the previous location, but they all connect back to the Prison of Memories.

Suggested partner assets: Unless you are using a specific expedition member to fix a central issue with your own deck (like using Eliyah to be able to evade the Frenzied Explorers from the Left Behind set or using William to keep your Tony Morgan sane), my suggestion would be to bring those that you are looking to turn resolute. This will reduce the shroud value of the final locations, making it easier for you to get through to the memory and conserve your resources and cards for other locations that might prove difficult.

Reward and Failure: In theory you could grab quite a lot of XP in this scenario, to do so you would need to go after the locations of team members that already died. If you flip a final location of a dead partner, you get 2XP immediately without even having to defeat an elite enemy. So that could be a way to finance some extra card upgrades. On the other hand, turning your crew resolute has a lot of advantages as well, especially for those that have their ability turned into a free action.
Failing the scenario by hitting the doom threshold on the agenda can happen quite easily in Fatal Mirage, as you aren’t allowed to resign except for whenever you finish up your business with one of the partner assets. Depending on if this is your first, second or third visit to Fatal Mirage, the consequences are different, becoming gradually more severe every time. At the first try, everyone gets defeated and has to shuffle a Tekeli-li into their deck. No trauma though, so unless you are running Charon’s Obol you get out with just a slap on the wrist. Second time, you either get two Tekeli-li or a mental trauma, your choice. Third time, you just straight up get a mental trauma. As far as punishment for failure goes, this is actually fairly tame, so taking some risks to hopefully get another branch of the dreamscape done in a couple turns can look attractive enough to just go for it.

2 Replies to “Fatal Mirage”

  1. Being defeated in this scenario is actually pretty brutal, since any partners you have with you are also defeated (=killed). Unless you’re trying to kill them off, you really shouldn’t let the agenda flip.

  2. Or you could go into the scenario without taking Partners. Then you could risk it, but also make it harder, forfeiting the shroud reduction and Partner abilities.

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