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It is just portraits and music. Think of it as DLC. I had promised to keep the game open source, so no gameplay-relevant stuff could be made paid-for, so a cosmetic DLC made the most sense. We're working on adding Events, like in Crusader Kings or Stellaris, and some of that content might be Enhanced Edition only, depending on how things look when we've done more work on it.

Glad to hear you're enjoying it

It's possible that the `requires lightbringer ritual' is the best way to do ultimate abilities for each Dark Name. Like you said, it's got a cool strategy element to it, where you force the enemy to give you the tools you need to destroy them. Maybe I'll change Winter's Scythe, then add a few other abilities to the other Names along the same lines.

Regarding new ways to ruin the world, my favourite part is definitely watching the map change in huge ways.  The obvious next way to introduce would be to have the opposite of Winter's Scythe, a Name which turns the world into a giant desert. I've not come up with any good abilities for a Name or for an Agent based around that, yet, though.

The plague doctor probably needs changing, a bit, so they also have a plague. Weaker than the Red Masque, but it would synergise with their undead armies. Might need to nerf the undead a bit, just to keep them from being the ultimate weapon all by themselves.


Sorry, missed this message when it first arrived, only just spotted it. Must have not seen the Itch e-mail about a new comment or something.

I agree with many of these, the UI is constantly being changed to get it to behave a bit better. Slowly it's improving, but there are still issues to be addressed. I'll take a look at them and see what can be done. Some will be harder than others. Due to the use of hotkeys, for example, we're limited to only 9 map modes, so have to decide which are most useful. Maybe we could have buttons which don't have associated keys, for the less-used modes? We'll see what we can fit on screen.


So, just pushed a beta-branch update on steam. If it doesn't break anything too horrifically, it'll be in version 18 full.

Buffed a few abilities, made it slower to warm up after freezing. Definitely easier to get stuff done following a successful civil war now.

Gave an ability which allows you to just trade power for cold directly. Once you've reached 12% world cooling you can keep casting it whenever it cools down, to slowly eradicate all human life on the map. Not sure if it's OP or not. Definitely can't be stopped if you disable Lightbringer Ritual. Might rework it slightly such that it REQUIRES the Lightbringer Ritual to function. Maybe it can only be cast while the Ritual is being cast? Would be an amusing way to turn their weapon against them.

Also added in your suggested ability to temporarily block travel between locations. It's called Blizzard, and you can cast it on a location, then another, and any link between them will be out of service while the blizzard lasts. Also not sure how OP this is. It seems somewhat useful, but maybe there's some incredible strategy which can be used that I've not thought of yet. It only works in the snowy areas of the map, making it more useful as you progress along with your grand plan to freeze the world.

Hopefully this makes the Dark Name a bit more playable now, and able to stand alone as its own strategy and thing, not just a way to slightly reduce the number of cities your Unholy Flesh has to eat.

Thanks for the feedback, it really helps

I don't think there's a forum for gameplay, yet, but we did make a few videos to show how we play:

In general, you're not supposed to be 100% undetected. Your agents don't need to survive forever, just long enough to accomplish their objectives. Your enthralled noble might be valuable, but agents can be replaced when they get discovered and killed. You're playing as the evil side here, compassion isn't something you should be worrying about. If a vampire dies, just get another and continue the Great Plan.

I think you're completely right. I really like the concept of the Winter Name, but in practice it is underpowered and needs work. The original plan was that it would work alongside with the various monsters, such as flesh or Deep Ones. It would destroy the north, they would then attack from the south. The monsters are currently overpowered, however, so don't need more help, and the Name would be far more exciting if it could bring about an apocalypse of its own. It also suffers from the fact that it depends on politics, which is currently underpowered. Political stuff is my favourite, as it's the most complicated and unique part of the game, but it's often weaker than just sending a giant pile of flesh to eat a kingdom whole.

Initially the design was that the Name would be purely passive. Every battle would have an effect without player involvement, and the Name would have no abilities at all, but it was thought it was a bit boring, and that the player should be involved. I'll see how the 'ritual' approach looks. Gotta make sure the player doesn't forget to re-cast it when it times out.

With the introduction of an actual defeat condition, where the nobles can try to cast the Lightbringer Ritual to save themselves, it should be possible to have the freezing abilities be a bit less constrained. Previously, since the player couldn't lose, all cold-causing abilities had to have a difficult-to-achieve condition to make them work. If the player could spend power to cool the world they could never lose, they could win by hitting 'freeze world' whenever the power got high enough. This new ritual allows us to increase world panic or awareness as a consequence of the power, and so the player has to deal with the Lightbringers. They're also going to receive some buffs, which might well include some ways to reverse the global cooling, at least around a few cities.

I like the idea of having a few abilities which benefit from the cold. Maybe they can only be cast in frozen locations, and do good stuff. Both your suggestions, disruption and path-changing, sound good. Probably can't make it so a location gets fully cut off, but maybe a location could have a few connections cut temporarily, to make it harder for the enemy to reach your agents. We'll have to test some stuff and see what works. We'll also see how Ruins work. Currently I think there's an issue with the Unholy Flesh not being able to spawn on a ruined city, but that should be fixable.

Regarding population:

The previous game did have a lot more complex population mechanics, which was cool in a way, but also rather complex, and added a bunch of stuff without really integrating it into the main game. Ideally this game would be more streamlined, by cutting features back to just what it relevant to the gameplay. This ideally would allow the mechanics to overlap better. An example is how nobles' fear is used across the board. It is politically relevant, has a Name associated to it (merchant of nightmares) but also plays into the agents, as it is how the NPCs agents' specialities are chosen. If we expand the population side of the game, we'd want to do it in a way which lots of different Names and Agents can take advantage of the new mechanic, to allow synergies.

Hopefully we can get some of that back. Certainly it should be possible to get refugees to spawn when a city is attacked, or its food production drops below its population, but we'll need to spend some time looking at how it behaves mechanically, to avoid bloating the game's features without adding gameplay value. Currently it's rather simplistic. Each human location has a max population set by the temperature (with a bonus for coastal locations), and population will grow/fall to reach that value. Refugees should be able to detect which cities can accept more population, and navigate their way there, but right now that doesn't have any gameplay effects, so hasn't been implemented. In time it could be, though, as it could allow spread of disease, new political crises, or even advantages to the NPCs (if a noble successfully gets the refugees integrated as productive citizens their city would grow and be able to support larger armies).

I think the current plan for the next patch is roughly:

-New Agent

-Buff Winter Name

-Save/Load bugfixing, maybe some UI improvements

-Buff Lightbringers (give them crisis response stuff to vote on)

-Maybe add a new specialisation to the NPC agents (Inquisitor)

Casus Belli mechanics should probably be implemented sometime, along with occupied locations, so the territory only changes hands at the end of war between human forces. Probably doesn't need to be as complex as CKII/CKIII/Stellaris' approaches, but it doesn't seem too historically accurate for an entire empire to consume another in a giant war. And having cities only switch once might help a bit with nobles maintaining their positions despite their cities being invaded.

Not sure it can make it for the next version, as we're already going to try to add so much, but it would definitely make combat a bit better. Certainly there should be a "crusade" mechanic, because current if a nation is afraid of dark nobles they'll invade their country, but then give those very same dark nobles a vote in whether or not to pronounce them guilty. It means that invading a dark nation can suddenly just add a bunch of dark nobles to your population who then doom your nation, despite people being aware of them.

I also like the idea of reputation being 'at stake' from taking actions. We tried for a bit to have every vote be proposed by a person, whose prestige would change if the vote passed/failed, but it just made stuff more complex. Having the leader's prestige be affected by war outcomes could help.

I was also thinking of an agent who would benefit from deliberately losing wars against human nations. Will keep it as a surprise, but I think it could be fun, at least. Perhaps not very balanced, but an amusing way to play, and a game should probably try to be fun, not just hard.

I really like these ideas. The NPCs already try to form alliances towards the end-game, so it makes sense to give one of them the title of "Kingdom of light" or whatever, and then have them begin work on some anti-dark ritual. The idea of it having a set number of locations you need to target to stop the ritual is also good, should let you work against them politically by shuffling a few key broken nobles around, agent-wise by targeting those nobles for enshadowment, or militarily by wiping them out.

The concept of having a "retry in 500" years is also great. It should be possible, with the current setup. Might be a few technical difficulties (saved games need to avoid getting too huge if they record everything), and gameplay ones (NPCs need to die of old age, so you don't get the same people 500 years in the future). Other than those issues, it's already possible to make the game play hundreds of turns to generate a history, so we could just delete all monsters, reduce shadow over time, then play forwards the game. Maybe you'd even have a tiny dark kingdom which managed to survive this age of light. If we can get this to work, we should also put it into the victory screen. Might be possible to get this in the next version, let's see how things work out.

Specific defeat conditions are also cool, but that'll have to wait a version at least, to keep this version from growing too huge, and leaving too long a gap between v16 and v17's releases.

Thanks for the suggestions, hopefully we can get something together which looks like what you were imagining.


Just pushed a version which might have fixed it. Still a bit unsure as to what's really happening, but it seems to work for now, for people who were reporting the issue.


Just pushed a new version. We hope this fixes it. We're not actually sure WHY it fixes it, but over on Steam people are saying it works. We'll try to figure out what was going on based on what the bits of code we removed were doing.

Hey, we are being told that it doesn't work. Could you download the version 14 standard (now also available on Itch) and see if that works, if you have time? Many thanks, we just can't get to the bottom of this issue. We'll try some stuff but it would help to know if this version is new to V16 or if it's existed all along and we just didn't notice.

Thanks again

Oh, and are you using non-English OS settings (shouldn't affect anything, but I was told by another dev that it sometimes affects games). And maybe it's a anti-virus thing?

Thanks. This helps us rule out it being a 32/64 bit issue. Everything else there looks normal, we tested on dual monitors and it worked, so we don't think it's that.

We pushed a new bugfix version, which hopefully will solve it. If not, let us know and we'll have another try.

Thanks for your help


Could you tell me any info about the machine you're running it on, CPU, RAM... We need to replicate the issue to fix it, but it runs fine for us on the number of machines we've tested it on.


Oh, sorry, didn't see the second answer here. Windows 10 is only 64 bit, I believe, which rules that out. Any more information in your machine could be helpful in narrowing it down.


Sorry, yes, early access. Gonna have bugs. We're currently looking at this particular one, because a few people have had the same issue. Could you give us more information about your hardware? We're unable to replicate the issue on all the computers we've tried on, so we believe there's some difference between what we're using and what you are.

Specifically: Which operating system (including 32/64 bit), CPU and total RAM would probably be most helpful.

As far as we can tell, this is some kind of Unity issue, so we'll need to see if we can change how it compiles the .exe to avoid these issues in the future. Bug fix version will be pushed when we can figure it out.

Thanks for the report, including the image (it is useful to us to notice that the number in world panic is what it is, since that's 2 to the power 31, implying a 32 bit integer has somehow been mis-computed).

Thanks again,


Previously the mortals did have access to magic, but at some terrible cost (which was never explained in lore). If things were very bad, they could become lightbringers, which were immune to darkness, and had cities which remained warm regardless of climate change. That was Shadows 1, it's not yet in Shadows 2 because late-game balance requires the start of the game to be established first, to figure out the different ways the player can reach the late game. Hopefully we can now start looking at that part of the game.

Could be looking at the possibility of giving the NPCs a way to defeat the player, as well as maybe a turn limit. Will need to look into it, especially using automated testing to get a good idea of the statistical distributions we'll be looking at for the end game.

We tried industrial stuff, with long term vs short term economic decisions, but couldn't get the balance to work very well, I'm afraid.  It wasn't considered a priority, so we never released it into a main build. Possibly one day, but for now there are other more important things to deal with.

Hopefully you haven't downloaded it yet, as I had to real quick push out a version 16.1, due to bugs in the merchants. Should all be fixed now.

I agree that the inquisitor should only stick to their own nation, to avoid some inquisitor from across the map turning up and upsetting your dark empire. Wouldn't make much sense, since they wouldn't have any legal authority, and could lead to very tedious work for the player, checking every nation every turn to make sure they aren't getting an inquisitor.

Localised situations (threats and victories) are reasonable, I agree. I think it's at least somewhat done, with the dark empire being at least free of concerns about evidence or inquisitors. The climate change should also be handled, since it reduces parts of the map to just snow, which you can then ignore forever. Possibly it does need a bit more balancing, to make this a bit more reliable. We'll need to look more at the end-game, now that the core mechanics are in, and enough agents are implemented to give a good variety of options to the player in the beginning and mid-game. Ideally push towards some giant final battle between good and evil, where the player can bring their stuff all together, and the NPCs can try to form some kind of last stand against you.


Sorry this is occurring. Could you post your machine's specs? It's happened to another person, and I just can't replicate it. I've tried on four different machines, but it all seems to work for me, so fixing it is hard. It would help to know what the hardware differences are, in case those are causing it.


Yeah, I'm sorry, I can't replicate it at all. Maybe Unity has some conflict with your setup (32 bit vs 64 bit, some mismatched Windows Upgrade...). Dunno, I'll ask around and see if anyone has heard of anything like this.

We can't seem to replicate it. Tried on three separate machines, downloaded from itch. Maybe it's a corrupted download?

I downloaded both versions, and they seem to be working fine for me. I'll keep looking into this, but it is very strange. I can't immediately think of any reason it would happen.

Huh, you're right, that IS a fairly serious bug. Gimme a second, I'll check it right now.

Happy New Year to you too.

I like the idea of the nobles having a "corruption" stat, something which makes some of them politically selfish, while others could be "honest" and vote more in favour of things which help their nation. Dunno if this should be a number like military politics, or if both of these should be packaged up into a "political personality" trait, so all nobles have a trait indicating if they are honest/corrupt/militaristic...

We're currently looking at plagues, so that would work well here, with the nobles needing to choose between what is best for them and what is best for the nation (similar to the "evidence discovered" crisis, where they need to decide which province to lock down). Corrupt nobles could always vote only to defend themselves, while honest nobles would vote purely to maximise the wellbeing of their entire nation.

The inquisitor thing also sounds good, with them being in some way opposed to corrupt nobles (so corrupt nobles would oppose the creation of inquisitors, and so as a result be beneficial to you, because they would reduce the risk to your enshadowed nobles). We'll need to think about that, though, as inquisitors might just make the game even harder for the player, without adding enough fun to be worth it. The game is already very complicated, so adding yet another threat to the player needs to be carefully discussed.

Ah yes, that would happen, you're right. Combat is triggered by moving, so if you're not moving you wouldn't engage in combat. I'll need to look at that for the next version.


Okay, let me try to answer of all this, apologies if I miss a point:

- There's a discord? Could I get a link? I've read a bunch about That Which Sleeps, ever since I found the SA thread, but wasn't aware of a discord for it.

- We intend to roughly continue development as we are. Neither of us want to increase commitment to the project, including actually becoming published by a real publisher. I don't want to talk for my co-author, but I personally am very committed to my current career path, and while I love working on the game, wouldn't want to make it a full-time thing.

-If the direction the project goes in is that this means that we become slightly sidelined by a more active developer who forks the project and makes it their own, that's a good thing in my book. I'd be happy retaining credit for the original foundations and become a contributor to another lead dev's work. Or, possibly, two projects would exist side by side, and we would be happy to share and co-ordinate with our sister project so they can use any of our work going forwards.

-Shadows started related to That Which Sleeps, but isn't a clone by any measure. It's its own thing, for a variety of reasons. Some of these are: 1) We can't say how TWS would actually play, as we have no true implementation. 2) I do this mostly for fun, so want to work on stuff I find fun to put in and think about, and so try to balance what will be fun to play and what will be fun to implement. 3) It's just plain bad form to straight up copy someone else's idea, regardless of how they may have behaved, it's just a bit creatively bankrupt to not try to give it your own flavour.

-That all said, I do agree with a desire for a more personal and narrativelike structure. This is part of the driving force behind the new agents. The enemy would perhaps have a kind of RPG mechanic, in which your actions influence their growth. They'd individually learn about your individual agents, so would have personal connections in a one-to-one way. Hence giving them faces, which hopefully would add to that.

-Events and suchlike are cool and interesting, and would definitely enhance the game, but I also try to play to my strengths, and I don't feel that artist is one of them. Events in, say, Crusader Kings II, have a cool picture attached, and I don't have the talent to really give life to some of these things. As such, I tend to naturally gravitate towards stuff I feel I understand.

-Events also rather depend on foundational gameplay loops to be in. We'd be more comfortable adding 'fluff' to a working game, than adding it first and hoping that the gameplay adds together afterwards. While the gameplay needs a bit of work, expanding and definitely balancing, it at least has its shape now.

-Expanding the community is interesting to us, but not necessarily our greatest desire. It would be nice to have maybe three times as many people here as there currently are, but as a hobby game, it can't receive the degree of attention with maybe Tynan is able to devote to Rimworld, and we wouldn't be able to cater to such a wide audience in a way they might hope for.

Hope this answered at least some of your queries. I think you're right on a number of fronts, and hopefully we actually share more thinking about the future of the game than you might have feared.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too, if we don't chat before then

Devlog is up, new version(s) are released.

Events should be feasible, although we've always shied away from adding even more randomness into the game. It's already extremely swingy and hard to predict, adding yet more dice rolls may not be the best of ideas. However, if the results are fairly consistent, it should work. We'll look into it, as it could allow interesting player decisions, and some more options for flavour text.

Thanks, and you're welcome. It's mostly a fun hobby, but it's nice if other people enjoy the end result too.

Thanks man. Hopefully I'll be able to find the time to tinker with it, off and on, for the months to come. Lots of features to add to the complicated version, lots of polishing possible for the streamlined version.

Yep. That's a bug. I've compiled a pushed a new bugfix version, for both Windows and Linux, which covers that.

Also adds a few new features, of note for you: Firstly, you can now auto-dismiss the autosave messages, from the autosave dialog itself. Secondly, the in-game game options menu in the bottom right now shows your current map seed. Can't get the seed for an existing game (it wasn't saved), but all future games should have their seeds visible.

Hey, sorry, my bad. Game was stuck in simplified mode.

New version (shadows_v10_bugfix1) should fix this. You should now be able to select any of the flashing purple nobles (in standard game mode) and hit "enthrall noble" from the power screen.

Or, if you want to start higher up, your agents can try to infiltrate a duke/king's location and then enthrall them using agents. Harder, but gets you a much higher rank noble.

The agents should already show which lands are hostile, when selected. Any agent who is banned (paladins included) will cause all nations who have exiled them to have a red overlay, even in the normal view.

But yes, some kind of international diplomacy view could be useful. It would allow the player to see the international state of affairs at a glance, as there's currently no easy way to spot wars (red lines are very small, and only exist if the nations are neighbours).

The seeker is already a player-controlled agent, but the idea of having hostile agents turn insane due to what they learn is a good one. Maybe the seeker could choose to leave some of the clues they find behind, so any investigator who investigates the clue slowly goes insane. The agents already have a sanity value, because they have a full person, but currently that sanity value does nothing. With just a bit of changes (and the UI has space for it), this could be a different way to defeat your enemies, or sow confusion inside their ranks.

I'll see if it can fit into the next version.


Co-incidentally was just compiling the Linux version of bugfix v2. For some reason this version of Unity is bugged, and I have to dig up an old laptop to compile to Linux, because the main development computer can't compile to it.

I've not tested it yet, but have uploaded. Hopefully it should work?

Yes, the undead do seem a bit powerful. I was originally going to make them even more powerful, by having them turn defeated enemies into new armies of the dead, but realised that was so overpowered it was just nuts.

I'll turn down their power in the next version.

Regarding the number of agents, that's already a parameter in the parameters file, so it should be a very easy change. I'll add something to the game options screen to allow players to choose it when starting a game.

There will probably only ever be one noble enthralled, because the UI becomes painful to use if there are multiple. So many voting screens popping up at all times.

Okay. New Version pushed. Should have fixed that issue (it fixes one null-pointer issue at least). Will need to go dig up my Linux-compiler computer for the Linux version.

Should probably allow save compatibility, the fix didn't change anything which would get saved to disk, but I can't 100% guarantee that.

Again, thanks to my co-author for spotting/catching/replicating the bug.

Received. From the save file, it looks like the save/load system was, as usual, the problem.

To resolve the previous problem, each location stored a list of all locations it was connected to as just integer indices into a big list of all locations. It then deleted its links, and when the game was loaded it restored them based on this list. I forgot to clear the list each time, however, so it was storing duplicate links.

In the short term, this had no impact. Location A was connected to location B, it just happened to be connected twice. No real change in behaviour, units could just choose which connection to use. With sufficient links, however, it must have slowed the pathfinding down to a crawl.

Bug fixed, along with the infiltration one (thanks to my co-author for that bugfix), and a third I spotted in the voting UI (go-to-self button calling wrong function).

New version should be uploaded now.

Hmm, probably relationships (every person knowing about every other person) cluttering things up. Or graphics. Or something else.

Afraid we don't have as much time to playtest as we did a few months ago. Real world stuff still pretty busy.

If it'll fit in an email, should work. I'll take a look at it and see if anything sticks out.

Thanks for the feedback, and glad you're liking the new agent direction.

Thanks man. New version just compiled, hopefully this one won't break the save/load system again. I prefer to solve new bugs, not the same damn one repeatedly.

We've got no current bugs which need tracking down, thanks. The TODO file has a few things, but they're mostly just missing features and gameplay adjustments.

Of course, since it's open source, if you really want to see how it works you could even recompile from source (as long as you can find a version of Unity old enough). The code base is somewhat organised, but has had to compromise in a few areas. Certainly not my best code, but sadly not my worst.

Thanks again for the help, though. Glad to have save/loading actually stable and functional for all known configurations. One problem taken care of for the immediate future, leaving more time to implement vampires and zombies.

Okay. It is fixed.

The issue was the third-party open source library we were using to save/load was based entirely on a recursive algorithm. Once the number of people grew too large, it kept just going through their social relationships, calling the recursive function each time it encountered a new person. As such, the thing hit a stack overflow due to having, for every person, called a new recurrence of the function.

Technically it worked, it just scaled so badly that once people hit a certain threshold Unity died.

I've reworked how people refer to one another. The new implementation is technically ugly, and goes against accepted best practices, but it at least works.

At least, I hope. New bugfix version is available for download.