Scribe, The Contributor

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The Grave of the Tides

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Subterfuge: Information & Planning Thread on 10/7/2013 1:58:39 PM

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Got a question? I have an answer! Ask here or PM me privately. I also add questions that my friends ask when I tell them my ideas for the game or share the writing.

1. Will my character’s gender and sexual orientation change the plot?

Nope! Whether you are hetero- or homosexual, male or female, the plot will offer the same opportunities. However, the gender of the possible love interests will change according to your sexual orientation: if you are interested in women, all the love interests are female; if you are interested in men, all the love interests are male; if you are bisexual, 50% are female and 50% male; and if you are asexual, no relationship will ever progress beyond friendship, but you’ll have the same gender balance as bisexual characters. A concerted effort has been made to make your character realistically portray the gender you have chosen for them, while not directly catering to modern gender norms or heteronormative behavioural standards. If you notice something that you find atypical of a heterosexual man/woman or homosexual man/woman while playing such a character, please let me know so I can attempt to fix it!

2. I just want to enjoy the game for the strategy! Am I forced to participate in the stupid romance?

Nope! As mentioned in the “Author’s Notes” at the beginning of the game, just select the “friends” option on the “Dreams” page in Chapter 1 to make your character asexual. This will avoid any relationships more intimate than friendship during the course of the game.

3. Why isn’t my character younger than 19?

It’s true that, historically, well into the 18th century, women were married off as young as 14 to 16, and having children with men three times their age before their 20s. However, Valora is different for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t glorify hebephilia, regardless of my ambition for historical realism. Secondly, while it’s true that the real Earth medieval model was based on female fertility, Valora has enjoyed sufficient scientific progress to have a model based on female fecundity. Melissa Emery Thompson, anthropologist of the University of New Mexico, on the rather notable difference:

“Female reproductive development is a remarkably slow process. The outward signs we use to judge reproductive maturity, such as the development of breasts and pubic hair, precede the development of reproductive capacity (Marshall and Tanner 1974). Although menarche is often used as the milestone of reproductive maturity, it is typically followed by years of nonconceptive cycling, referred to as ‘adolescent sterility’ or more accurately ‘adolescent subfecundity’ (Wood 1994).

”During this time, developing females experience irregular cycles and produce relatively low levels of the hormones that facilitate ovulation and implantation. Although a girl may experience monthly menstrual periods, it can be expected that half of her cycles will be anovulatory for the first three to five years (Vihko and Apter 1984). In U.S. women, as well as in women in representative natural fertility cultures, the age curve of fecundity – probability of conception – does not peak until approximately ages 25–35. Males of promiscuous primate species, who invest little in the care of offspring or in long-term mating partnerships, tend to avoid mating with young females (Anderson 1986). They appear to assess mating effort based on the immediate probability of fertilization.”

Subterfuge: Information & Planning Thread on 10/7/2013 1:14:49 PM

Hello all! Thanks for stopping by. Currently there's not much going on here except for an information storage tank for my upcoming storygame, Subterfuge. (I know I was working on a different one, but it is an incredibly ambitious project so I have put it aside for now to focus on a realistic goal. I haven't given it up!) Subterfuge will not be available to play for a while -- it could be months and months, maybe even a year, but hopefully really no more than that.

So for now this is less of a discussion thread and more of a place where I can jot down notes and save long author's notes. Eventually I'd like to refer players to this thread and make it a discussion thread about the game where you can ask how to achieve certain endings or make suggestions about the game's plot / realism. If you are interested in play-testing Subterfuge, feel free to message me. It might be months before anything's happening, but I'd definitely appreciate the help of feedback / spellchecking before it's released.

My biggest challenge right now is really just the coding part. I'm new to coding and while I find the system on CYS excellent, easy to use and very noob-friendly, I'm planning a game with dozens of variables and stats. They don't interact in awfully complex ways, necessarily, there's just so many of them! That said I look forward to working very hard on this game and hopefully producing something fun for the community to enjoy.

Thanks, Scribe :)



+––{ * S U B T E R F U G E * }––+

The Riskellion Court in the capital of Thanos is flamboyant and regal, the colourful residence of the royal family, the attendant nobility, and the juiciest scandal. A young gentleman or lady with a high name but a low purse, your family arranges for you to spend four Seasons at the court in hopes that you will rise above your station – but in this bright and scheming world, failure means an unrecoverable loss of reputation.

Can you withstand the competition and out-scheme them all? Can you transcend their petty trivialities with your effortless charm and grace? Can you harness formidable political power to change the world? Can you find true love? You decide, in this tale of intrigue and subterfuge inspired by William Makepeace Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair”.

* * *

Author’s Notes

OPTING OUT: This game asks you to avoid uncomfortable situations yourself by communicating early on what you are and are not tolerant of.


If you wish to avoid romance or sexual overtures, be sure to select the “friend” option on the “Dreams” page in Chapter 1. This will classify your character as asexual and you will not be exposed to physically intimate scenes. This is a useful tool for anyone interested purely in the strategy, not the romance, of the game, and/or anyone who wants a PG-13 experience.


If you disapprove of violence during the events that take place in Chapter 1, the game will remember your decision and you will be spared from graphic situations later on. Occasionally, in order to accommodate this provision, “power playing” on my part is necessary; for instance, making your character look away from a gory sight.


I find it necessary to mention that you can get very, very, very nasty in this game, and it will certainly be necessary to get down and dirty if you want to climb past Erl(a) in status, although there are multiple opportunities to change the world that don’t need increased rank at all. However, I am aware that not everyone wants to drown the bag of kittens to win, or feel forced to play a manipulative psychopath of a character in order to succeed.

Thus, avoiding “evil” in the beginning of the game will put you on a track that avoids exposure to some of those less palatable options lest they be the only ones available to you under certain circumstances. Refusing to have a Becky Sharp moment or two can keep you from reaching certain endings/results; however, this is hardly different from real life, where the principled are weakened by their limits, and the unprincipled weakened by their limitlessness.

WORLD: During development a few people asked me about the world Subterfuge takes place in. Since I don't really want to flood people with largely unnecessary information during the already hefty exposition, I thought I would collect some world building here.


The city, court, fashion and culture of Riskellion (Thanos's capital and location of the royal Court) is a peculiar blend of 15th century Florence and Renaissance London, on a larger scale, with some slight sprinklings of 19th century Paris. There are 75 attendant aristocratic families in service of the royal Regalia family. The 7 ranks are warped versions of the English titles of nobility: baron, viscount, earl, marquess, and duke, with the obvious additions of prince and king.

There is a notable exception: women play a much more assertive role than is historically accurate, as male and female characters should deserve equal chances in the game. Also, the concept of various organized ministries is rather ahead of its time.


The world Subterfuge takes place in is geographically nearly identical to Earth. While Thanos obviously takes place in a fantasy realm (lots of magic and myth), historically it follows an “alternative history” genre, with different West European political systems developing after the fall of the Carolingian Empire 888 C.E. Currently the year is around 1500 C.E. Time is counted after the fall of the Western Roman Empire 476 C.E., so it is currently 1021 A.R.A. (Anno Romulus Augustus).

You’ll have noticed the absence of the Christian religion. A different, barely similar religion does play a role, but the political dominion exclusively belongs to Court, made up not only of the Curia but also four other ministries and the penultimate monarch, who has an unquestionably divine right to rule; the Curia leader is no Pope and lacks the comparable power. Being magical and much more secular than the real Earth, scientific progress comparable to the Renaissance period begins much earlier in history in the world of Thanos.


“Valora” is the term for what we would call Europe. The six nations, various kingdoms and theocracies and one republic, have formed the Valoran Commonwealth, with massive trading networks occurring along Roman roads. With some notable variations due to the existence of magic, history before 888 C.E. went much the same way it did on real Earth … with the exception of the Celts.

The fall of the Carolingian Empire is, in this world, due to an invasion by a people known as the “Celts”, an imaginary revitalization of the Celtic culture which had flourished during the Iron Age up until about the 6th century C.E. Enormous artistic license is taken with the Celts of Valoran history, as the Celtic people left no written record, any cohesive Celtic empire during the 9th century is pure fiction, and their society and culture can only be guessed at.

The people of Thanos hold the ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians and Celts in very high esteem, though they are ignorant of the Egyptians, and largely knowledgeable about Greek culture only through its effects on the Romans. The educated are expected to be familiar with classical art, philosophy, theology and lore.

Copy links/pages on 5/15/2013 12:49:15 PM

That would be so awesome…

Options on 3/31/2013 1:33:15 PM

I've been exploring some wonderful storygames on CYS, and I had a question for players. Do you like it when, on nearly every page, there are two options, basically  -- 1 and 2 -- and one continues the game and 1 ends it/kills you, or do you prefer it when there are 2-5 options, and each of them branches off in a different direction, not necessarily death? I can see how the first would make it real simple to figure out how to succeed in a storygame, but does it ever get old following the same path if you want to keep experiencing a story? 

Advice? on 3/26/2013 1:53:36 PM

All right, I'm 90% done with Chapter 1 and I've reached a decision. Based on feedback, Son of Pain will be one piece with all chapters inside. I hope to open it for sneak previews by April 1st. (April Fool's is a pretty good day to remember Odysseus, isn't it? XD) For those of you interested in trying out the game and providing honest feedback, feel free to message me now so I know I can send links to you as soon as I'm ready :)

Advice? on 3/24/2013 1:32:14 PM

Also some general clarification, the first chapter will probably have between 60 and 80 pages. There are 11 more chapters, so ... it'll be an Odyssey indeed xD

Advice? on 3/24/2013 1:30:36 PM

Thank you BerkaZerka, I will keep that in mind :3 

Advice? on 3/22/2013 7:35:31 AM

Thanks!! I'm really glad I know now that publishing then unpublishing is in bad taste! I'll certainly follow your recommendation of asking for testers in the forums and sending a PM.

As for 2, that was the direction I was leaning in, too, but I didn't know that players would be frustrated if they can't reach a sort of ending within 25 minutes. It's great to know that there are plenty of excellent games out there that take longer :3

Advice? on 3/22/2013 6:55:30 AM

Hi there! I am almost done with the first Chapter of many in my storygame, which I am really excited about! it consists of 55+ pages with 20-30 more planned. That's because I'm basing my game off Homer's Odyssey based on ideas I've been cooking up on other sites for a while now. Anyway, I wanted the CYS community's advice!

1. Once I'm finished with the first chapter, I thought it might be nice to open it up to testers for critique. There are lots more chapters to come and if there's something wrong or unprofessional about the way I do things it's best to know about it and fix it now! Can I edit games I have published and re-publish them in an updated version, replacing the game, or do I need to delete the old game and create a new game with the appropriate corrections?

2. I've also noticed many games on here are not particularly long. Cryptode took like 15-20 minutes the first time, Magus: Betrayal no more than 6 or 7 mins for me. As my first chapter is already very long, I was wondering if you guys think I ought to make each chapter a separate game, or keep all the chapters together in one game, even if that game ends up being like 45 mins to an hour long? I do not need my game to be playable in one sitting -- I mean, it IS the Odyssey, so having players save their progress and return later would not bother me. But would it bother the player base?

BZ is a communist on 3/22/2013 6:11:38 AM

 photo CommieKool_zpsc74f3c6b.png I ... wow. You took the time to photoshop that just for this thread? >,>