A brief guide on how to deal with dread, fascination and investigators.
Other Cultist Simulator Guides:
- Getting Started.
- Quick Guide to Rites.
- Quick Lore Study Reference.
- Guide to the Mansus.
- How to Make Money & Earn Promotions.
So you want to run a cult but perhaps keep running into issues that send you to jail/asylum. Or maybe you want to be prepared for whats to come. While I haven't yet seen all there is, the basic dangers are always the same: fear, insanity, investigators, starvation... so how does one survive all this?
Fear, Dread and Despair
One of the most common things you'll encounter. Fear or "Dread" can be spawned from a lot of sources. The most common you'll see is from the craving event, this produces a restlessness card which is a minute away from turning into dread. Another source of fear can be nightmares (dreaming with reason for instance can produce this) failed expeditions, failed rituals and so on.
On its own dread isnt a big deal, its when the despair event kicks in and starts sucking in your dread that you need to be careful - once it sucks in 3 dread its over for you.
How to fight dread? If you have a restlessness card on the deck you can get rid of it before it turns to dread. Use painting as a job and use your own restlessness as inspiration. This will consume the restlessness card effectively saving you from dread.
Another way to fight off dread is with contentment. Don't wait for dread to pile up and go away on its own: when you get contentment dream on dread and combine it with contentment to even yourself out . This way you can prevent despair before it happens.
If despair is already a problem you only have one choice and that's to get contentment fast. Reliable ways to get contentment are: painting on emotional inspirations (there's a lot) but you need a lot of painting skill for this. You're more likely to gain contentment if your paintings are popular, so mix in some mystique to have a better chance of popular paintings.
Another way to get contentment is dreaming with money - effectively taking opium. Works but there are the mentioned risks.
A reliable way to get contentment most of the time is the cabaret. Almost every time you can get a contentment card but rarely can produce notoriety and even fascination, so go into it realizing this is still slightly risky.
Dreaming on reason or health has been known to sometimes produce contentment, however I don't recommend this as it is unreliable and can create more dread.
Visiting the weird streets at moonlight can produce contentment, however this also risks producing fascination.
Fascination and Insanity
While dread can always be a problem, fascination only really start being one once you are starting to be busy with the occult.
Fascination is produced by some mystical experiences: can get it from travelling the dream world, visiting weird streets by moonlight, experiencing a really awesome cabaret performance or even performing some research.
Fascination becomes a real problem by midgame and will not go away easily.
The main way to get rid of fascination is by dread. If you have a fascination card lying around dream on it and combine it with dread - this will remove the fascination and return the dread. Consider performing activities that have a high chance of producing dread when fascination starts piling up.
If you have more than one fascination card around, removing them should be top priority. If the Help Me event starts, its probably too late and its time to start to prioritize.
Despair and Madness at the Same Time
I'm going to devote a whole section just to this common problem: what to do when you suffer both from Despair sucking up your dread and Insanity sucking up your fascination?
A surprisingly common situation that's not easy to get out of. Your despair sucks in your dread cards, your madness sucks in the fascination cards. If any reaches 3 its over. What to do?
Well first of all, if you generate a dread card it is random in which of the two it will go. I seen it go either way, so it makes sense to concentrate on contentment to get rid of despair first. However most contentment producing activities have a chance of generating fascination, two safe methods seem possible: either give in and buy opium to get an extra contentment, or paint on full mystique with high painting skill - with emotions or portraits as inspiration and hope it generates contentment.
Another thing you can do is stay low and try to wait it out, eventually you'll get an event producing more contentment that should help calm the despair. You shouldn't wait too long, because if despair is running you can get night terrors event which spawns more dread! So you're effectively rolling dice now.
You can of course do it the other way and perform actions that generate dread: talk to investigator about winter lore for instance. Then hope it'll stop the madness and not increase your despair.
Lastly you can roll the dice with the cabaret - it works more often than not though, even with the risk of more fascination. If you can afford it risking another fascination, I find it worthwhile to go for the cabaret in these situations.
However while you're doing all this your notoriety might become a problem.
Investigators come in more types and skills, you can actually check their cards on what to expect from them. Meticulous investigators are a real pain as they'll happily take any notoriety and produce guaranteed evidence from it. Ordinary ones can fail, giving you more leeway. Generally I find it alright to leave investigators alone till they produce tentative evidence and only then concerning myself with them. Additionally if the investigator is meticulous you're going to need to watch your notoriety.
Erratic investigators are a problem of their own, capable of creating evidence from thin air, these guys can hurt when you least expect them.
So what are your options? Obviously you can send a killer after them, killing the investigator gets the problem off your back for a while, but you'll get another investigator eventually so this isn't a long term sollution. It also produces a dead body that a new investigator can investigate to implicate you further. If the attempt fails its a loss of a minion for you and more notoriety to investigate for the investigator. Only do it when the chances are good (5 or more edge aspect).
You can try scaring or appealing to their idealism next, talk to an investigator with dread or fascination to do this. However this produces more dread and fascination when done even if it fails.
A better option I find is to keep a minion with as much moth aspect as you have and use them to destroy evidence once it becomes a problem. Usually right after its upgraded to damning evidence. 5 moth aspect followers seem to have a 50/50 chance of success or so, you can hire one from the city if you get lucky for a 5 moth hireling. Or risk a follower. Ideally though you want a high moth summon doing this. Reliably removing evidence removes the investigator problem entirely.
Remeber that it also bears consideration how much a pain an investigator will be, some are less competent than others, I personally kill them when I can till I get one that's as incompetent as possible - the weary detective seems to be the safest opponent. Basically make your own Inspector Clouseau and half the time they'll even fail at making new evidence, giving you free hand to generate notoriety.
Notoriety and Mystique
Notoriety and Mystique are the two cards that investigators will mostly go after (also dead bodies but those vanish fast). If they find one notoriety they'll attempt to generate evidence and spend it. If they find mystique, they'll only waste time investigating it and spend it but will make another attempt right after. I find there are these basic strategies you can pick, ideally combine them if you can:
Keep your mystique and notoriety as low as possible. Then do what you have to till notoriety appears and wait till its gone.
Additionally this works well with the previous tip: you can use a heart aspect follower to try to remove notoriety/mystique however which will be removed is random. Only do this if you have a good chance of grabbing the notoriety with this action - ideally with a no mystique board.
Next option is to do the opposite: use painting at max level imagination skill to spam mystique. Fill the board up with it and keep painting. What this does is it keeps the investigator burning through the mystique - but not fast enough for how fast you can produce it. You can keep them infinitely investigating nothing while real notriety burns away automatically. This is however not ideal: there's always a small chance they'll pick that one notoriety card by random.
Health and Sickness
Health as it turns out is your most valueable resource. One because you die without it and secondly there's only so much you can have it - compared to passion, reason and money its very limited.
Remember to always have a health card either ready or on short cooldown in case sickness strikes. It will kill you otherwise.
When sickness strikes always make it your priority to heal it, even with money. It's not that costly and if you fail you can permanently loose health from it.
Another thing to watch out for is work, if you don't have the second level physical skill, you have a chance of injuring yourself at work. Injuries also need to be healed before their timer goes out.
Usually you won't have that much health at the start of the game, so one of your first priorities should be to raise your health as far as it can go. Vitality can be gained easily through physical work, studying health and speeding up health recovery by dreaming on health cards that are still on cooldown. Devote some time to it and you'll have plenty of health cards in no time.
Even if you suffere decrepitude, its not the end of the world. Decrepitude allows for the begging job and you can in fact heal it later with the right aspects and rituals. So don't worry if you loose one health early on, you're probably going to be fine even with just two health cards as long as you stay cautious about them.