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A member registered Jun 04, 2019 · View creator page →

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I think your solution is a good one! I think many W&A games are sort of designed with the sort of 'aesthetic' of an abrupt and tragic end, but that's not really going to suit the storyteller in some people. I personally love dragging in oracles for that sort of thing, so I might pull out one of my tarot decks and try to apply 1-3 randomly drawn cards to influence the ending.

When I played The Sealed Library my solution was to have my character fully aware that his doom was upon him and left it open to interpretation what death, precisely, he ended up succumbing to. Based on the way my story ended, he had at least 4 possible things that were going to kill him, even if the game itself dictated a specific one. I also left the door open for him to have saved himself, though my character didn't seem to think it was likely. This seemed to satisfy my storyteller needs.

If you'd like to see a different take on it, in my game Bluebeard's Castle, knocking over the tower lead to an end-game phase called "The Eleventh Hour" where your character reaches a crisis point and has one last chance to save themselves. I was trying to replicate the feeling of the end of the fairytale, so if you're playing a game where a possible Eleventh Hour rescue is possible, it may be something to port over.

Just stumbled across this one:

Super belated, but if you have any interest in Bluebeard's Castle, I'm very open to you streaming it and am happy to provide a copy if you didn't manage to get one yourself!

I will mention that my game comes in two variants - a "lighter", more supernatural version (the Fairytale edition) which plays without the tower (which may make it a better fit if you've got tired of building towers but still wanted to continue playing) and a "darker", more "realistic" version (the Wretched edition), which is closer to the default rules and tone. So you have some options according to how you're feeling.

Whether you take me up on it or not, I've subscribed to the topic so I can at least catch your VOD (I keep Aussie sleep hours so chances are I won't be able to catch you live), so I'd love to have a link wherever you're streaming or archiving it!

Same here - if you participated in the jam and didn't grab a community copy while it was available, hit me up and I'll make sure you get one for Bluebeard's Castle.

I know how that is - I'm sitting on a lot of solo plays myself for the same reason. :) I'll look forward to it, but obviously take your time!

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I'm so glad you had a great time! I'm truly excited to read the Twitter feeds! Thank you so much for taking the time to play, share your experiences, (and the compliments!)

EDIT: And I would absolutely draw fanart of any of your games in return for a transcript of your play sessions. ;D (It was a jolt to realize I know your work!)

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Yes - I ended up putting in warnings for my own game. I would love to get feedback on it if anyone sees anywhere that I can improve it.

Here is what I've written at the beginning of my current WIP:

Caution notice from the author

This game is dark — and sometimes in subtle ways. While this game is not designed to upset players, it is meant to create a feeling of tension and suspense and covers content that may not be suitable for every player.

This version is much more brutal and you are much less likely to survive than you are in the Fairytale edition. The themes being focused on are isolation, self-reproach, doubt, and fear. By the very nature of the fairytale Bluebeard, it will cover topics related to domestic and psychological abuse, murder, and trauma. The game will sometimes have the character question their own actions and inactions, doubt themselves, doubt their support structure, and sometimes lament and feel hopeless and trapped. Because these thoughts are expressed in-character in the moment of those feelings, please understand that the intent is only to place the player in the mindset of the character, not to blame victims or survivors for the abuse they have suffered.

If any of these topics are sensitive to you, please use whatever tools available to you to make playing safe or choose not to play at all if at any time the game feels too real or too upsetting. I highly encourage you to take control if things ever get too uncomfortable for you. You are always welcome to change the wording of a prompt or replace it entirely as necessary. If you like, you may at any time stop drawing cards and write a miraculous rescue, glorious escape, or a smiting of Bluebeard from the heavens — anything that will let you leave the experience safely. You are empowered.

It is possible that playing this game may cause someone to recognize their own current relationship is abusive. I wish to speak to you directly:  You are not alone. Abuse is not normal. It is not okay. And it is not your fault. Please reach out.

Here are some resources ready to take your hand:
➢ National Domestic Violence Hotline
➢ Pathways to Safety International

And here is what I have for my "debriefing" section, which I almost called "Aftercare":

When the story ends…

Take a moment and decompress.

What happened in your story? Were you rescued? Did you escape? Did you die?

If you survived — congratulations! You beat the odds. Savor your victory.

If you died — that’s okay. That was what was most likely to happen, even with the slightly more generous rules Bluebeard’s Castle provides from the default rules of the system. That was the game — seeing if you were lucky enough to survive. You can try again some other time, if you like. Maybe alter the odds more in your favor next time — or maybe instead try the Fairytale version of the game. Your chances in the Fairytale edition are much better than this one.

This is just a game. If it provoked feelings of stress or anxiety, take a few breaths and remember that what you experienced just now was fiction. You were always in control. If you are upset or unsettled, it’s not silly to talk about your experiences with someone else.

If you feel unsatisfied with your ending, consider rewriting the most troublesome aspect of the story. Maybe even consider using another solo engine (like Mythic, MUNE, ALONe, Blade and Lockpick, Tiny Solitary Soldier’s system, or any method that works for you) and having your character have a “second-chance” reincarnation where she starts again as she stands on the threshold of the fatal room and remembers everything that happened in the previous life. Let her change her fate as you explore the story with total control rather than being bound by the rules and prompts of this game. Maybe she’s even reborn with some sort of super power — it’s your turn to decide the rules you follow now!

Good luck in your future adventures.

Again - if anyone sees anywhere I can improve, I am all ears!

Edit: In regards to "slightly more generous rules than the default system", please understand that wasn't a knock against the game. I actually make minor alterations to the rules that send the game into "The Eleventh Hour" mode if the tower falls, which can lead to a chance to escape.

Awesome! I've been reading a lot of (translated) Chinese webnovels lately and the concept of "the Cold Palace" comes up a lot, along with court intrigue, so it's been floating around my head for the last few months. When I saw the W&A game jam, I started digging through my brain box looking for "alone, powerless, and in peril" themes I was interested in exploring and it was the first one to pop up that I had a strong reaction to. In the webnovels, the heroine is usually in a bad position, but uses some secret advantage (often second-chance reincarnation, isekai other-world experiences, or a super power) to beat the odds. But without that advantage, it would probably play out badly for her.

One of the interesting ideas I'm exploring as I let things cook on my mental back-burner is an advantage with using the tarot - the major arcana. The minor arcana can map easily to a card suit (coins/pentacles to diamonds, for example), but the major arcana step outside of that and can be used for other things. For example, using the card Death for exactly as it sounds. Right now, my concept is to use the minor arcana as different "people" to put between Death and the Empress. Cups/Chalices represent those who are most loyal to her (family, friends, lovers, personal servants; etc). Coins/Pentacles represent people whose skills can be bought for gold (assassins, spies; etc). The more of these people in the "Tower", the safer the Empress is. But the Emperor card can order them to die, removing them from the deck permanently. 

Absolutely something I'm going to spend a lot of time playtesting to make sure it works out the way I want it to. Controlled, slow-burn tension at first, and then eventually more and more out of hand as human resources are lost to Death.

I'll definitely share the game as a playtest version if I get something that seems playable!


My working title is "The Cold Palace". You play as the Empress who has been spurned by the Emperor and imprisoned. Fortunately for you, the Emperor can't just casually murder you - there are traditions that one must uphold and your family are not simple peasants content to wring their hands in their sleeves while bowing their heads. Through connections, luck, and loyalty, you may survive the freezing of the Emperor's heart. But most likely, you'll end up at the end of a silk rope no matter what you do.

I'm considering using a tarot deck instead of a block tower - both because my play space isn't really great for setting up a tower and hoping to keep all the pieces (or, alternately, risking the possibility of damaging my tablet screen when they fall) and because I collect decks for use in solo play and I want any excuse to use them! (Also, as cool as seeing a precarious tower is visually fitting, "the deck is stacked against you" also works.)

I'm not entirely sure if I'll have the time to finish before the deadline, but I'm still very enthusiastic about this and seeing what comes of everyone else's projects!

Another for your list!