Father Leofwine is Dead

a Mystery / Puzzle by pugpup1

Commended by mizal on 8/23/2019 10:50:16 PM

Player Rating6.29/8

"Too few ratings to be ranked"
based on 12 ratings since 08/17/2019
played 285 times (finished 11)

Story Difficulty7/8

"wade in shark infested water"

Play Length6/8

"It'll be a while, better grab a Snickers®"

Maturity Level6/8

"I'll need to see some identification"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 16. If this were a movie, it would probably between PG-13 and R.

Someone cut the wise old priest's throat, and everyone at court is a suspect. Who murdered him, and how will King Alfred fight the Danes without his right hand man?

Written for Mizal's 2019 Lone Hero contest.

Player Comments

After reading “The Bard’s Tale” and “The Daemonologists,” “Father Leofwine is Dead” has really convinced me that Pugpup is an author who should be kept on my radar permanently.
Now, I’ll try not to spoil anything in my review for you who read reviews before you read stories.

“Father Leofwine is Dead” is very probably the best mystery story I have read on CYS. The format, the writing style, and the setting all help to create an engaging mystery that made me genuinely curious about the answer.

The story got my interest from the start with the historical setting; Anglo-Saxon England is pretty hard to make uninteresting, to be fair. It was fun to see the real people and places mixed in with everything in a way that didn’t seem awkward too.
The mystery part of the story was very interesting. I definitely did not suspect the actual murderer until the page before it was revealed. So that was fun.
Since I played as two characters alternatively, I do think it would have been interesting to see what else happened afterward when one died. After all, the story isn’t over for the other main character at that point. Even just a page saying they failed could have been good.
The writing itself was very good, and I didn’t see any mechanical errors that were worth remembering either. I didn’t really care too much about the one character’s hots for the one chick, and it seemed a bit out of place, but someone else see it as adding more to his character.

The structure of the story is gauntlet, which suits the nature of it well. After all, if there is a very specific goal, it is hard to have extensive and well done branching that doesn’t just loop back to it. There was a choice near the beginning that I am pretty sure was totally pointless though, and that is something that annoys me. Other than that, I thought the story structure fine and a good fit.
I also appreciated how on the death choices, it would continue righting the path out in the same detail until the end, which both led me to believe my choice was right when it wasn’t sometimes and eliminated the impression of laziness that it is easy to get from gauntlet stories when they do not put care into the death endings.

Overall, this is a very good story that deserves its featured spot for sure. I recommend it highly to anyone who likes mysteries, this sort of historical setting, or are just looking for a good story of any sort.

-- Cricket on 8/31/2019 11:46:04 PM with a score of 0
Once again you manage to blow me away Pugpup. Another fantastic story.

So this is a beautifully written story. The world truly feels alive with detailed descriptions and well written characters. We change perspective throughout the story from our "lone hero" Wulf and the king's councilor Cynehelm. These transitions flow very well and feel extremely natural. Such transitions can be very difficult to write, often feeling jarring, so I was pleasantly surprised by how natural it felt. Wulf is more skilled and experienced when it comes to skulking and sneaking, while Cynehelm was more timid and inexperienced, but still capable when the need arises. This change in perspective was really interesting, as we essentially had two characters working towards the same goal but with different information and experiences. The spelling and grammar were also very good with only a few mistakes here and there.

So basically, Father Leofwine has been murdered and the king wants Cynehelm to find the killer. Or find someone to help him find the killer. Which is where Wulf comes in. The story is full of intrigue, mystery, and by the end is essentially a big Medieval game of Clue. We explore old Roman tunnels, find heretics, survive attempted poisonings, interrogations, etc. It really is a fascinating story. And I was completely surprised by the killer. I mean, I had no idea. But when you look back on it all, and you have all the information, it makes sense. And that is what makes it a satisfying reveal.

All of the characters felt unique. They had their own motivations and reasoning. Each had a backstory and felt like real characters. And each felt like they had a purpose. They moved the plot forward, or provided exposition, or even misdirection. It really didn't feel like a character was just added in there for no reason.

Now, I did have something of a complaint. And that is a somewhat similar one to that of The Daemonologists. The story does tend to feel a bit linear at times. Now, you did provide many more options this time, each with literal paragraphs of writing, but most ended with a game over. There are many times just one correct answer. Now, that really isn't a problem if your looking for a story over a game, but you might run into some people who aren't a fan of that linearity. But the game over scenes were all fun reads and I actually tended to go back and seek them out. So I really can't complain much.

So all in all this was another great story from you. I am still shocked you managed to produce this story in such a short amount of time. Great work Pugpup, and I hope to see more from you in the future.
-- TurnipBandit on 8/20/2019 7:57:30 PM with a score of 0
This is an outstanding story, and I happily rated it an 8/8. The writing is confident, the characters are well defined, and the setting is intriguing. There was quite a bit of information to digest in the first few pages, but once Wulf began his investigation, I found myself engrossed for several hours in this remarkable story.

I won't comment on the plot, as this is essentially a traditional whodunnit that just happens to be set a long time ago in post-Roman England. As the title explains, Father Leofwine is dead -- murdered, actually -- and a trusted member of the king's court is tasked with figuring out who. And since this was submitted as part of a "lone hero" contest, a mysterious man dressed in black shows up out of nowhere and offers to help. These aren't spoilers, just a summary of the first two pages of the story!

As you read the story, you are presented with quite a few choices. However, from what I could tell, the branching structure seems to be best described as a "gauntlet", meaning most of the choices are of an advance-or-die nature. I didn't explore every single branch, but only once did I encounter a false branch that gave me one additional choice before getting killed in both instances. But I didn't mind this, as the main plot was so intriguing (and long) that I didn't want to get led too far astray from it anyway.

If I had any criticisms, it was that some of the choices were too obviously poor ("Why would anyone choose to do THAT?") or the consequences weren't what I expected. In the latter category, there were at least two places where a decision seemed sound, but the actual execution of that decision turned out to be more drastic than I thought the situation called for -- and of course these led to death endings.

And there were a few places where perhaps a detail was missed. Most notably, an encounter between two characters in a dark tunnel, one of them is known to possess a certain object, but the other person produces it and gives it back. It's a key scene resulting in a case of mistaken identity, but I had to re-read several paragraphs to confirm I was not going crazy, and that exactly how this item went from one person to the other had not been mentioned. I therefore developed the theory that Person A dropped it in the dark, and Person B found it and presumed Person A was an ally. But for a story with 33,000 words created within a short amount of time for a contest, this really is a minor quibble.

On the other hand, there were plenty of other details that I really liked, and that I though were very original (at least, they were to me). Most importantly was the description of the castle, which was no stone Elsinore. It was a structure that had been built and expanded over time, beginning with a Roman fort from several centuries prior. Like the people who inhabited it, this setting had a distinct character.

Bottom line: this is a well-executed story, and you should drop what you're doing and read it at once.
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 8/18/2019 11:19:30 AM with a score of 0
The pacing was good and it was very interesting! The characters were all fairly good and memorable. I did not have trouble keeping track of who everyone was, even when a lot were introduced quickly. The story made sense without being painfully predictable, and had some awesome twists. The only complaint I had (although minor) is that a few of the choices seemed like random death choices. I do not mind using the back button, and even the failure pages from a wrong choice were well written though! A great read that fit the theme of the story well. The ending I got also would lend its self well to a sequel.
-- Shadowdrake27 on 8/26/2019 2:25:53 AM with a score of 0
It put a smile on my face to see this win the lone hero contest and get the recognition it deserves. Almost everything about it was executed extraordinarily well, especially considering it was written in the span of a month and a half. From the very start it had me hooked, jumping right into the meat of the story by telling us of the murder of father Leofwine. I certainly didn't expect to be drawn in so quickly, but I was.

The story is written in third person, a style not often seen in storygames, and what's more, it switches between two different point-of-view characters throughout. This seems like it wouldn't turn out all that well, after all, the idea of these stories is usually to become the main character. Many writers would likely wind up breaking the reader's immersion by attempting this, but somehow, Pugpup manages to pull it off in such a way that the story becomes more engaging, rather than less. The transitions were seamless, and I had no trouble switching between characters, in part because each one was so distinct.

All of the characters, even the more minor ones such as the cook, had an impressive depth to them. I especially liked the complexity of the Queen, as even before I got to meet her, I could tell exactly the kind of person she was by the way people talked about her. I also liked how all of the members of the kings council felt like reasonable suspects. I found myself going back and forth quite a bit as to who I thought was the killer, which is what exactly what a good mystery should do.

Good mysteries are also quite complex, and this story is no exception. Many plot elements introduced throughout are tied to the central mystery in unexpected ways. Quite a few times, I thought something might turn out to be a red herring, when in fact it had a completely different meaning than what I thought it might. This intricacy made for some rather well made choices. The very first set of options I was presented with had me staring at my screen, contemplating what to do for quite some time. I felt it might just have a drastic effect on my entire play through.

Buuuuuut... it turns out it didn't. My one gripe about this game is that almost all of the choices lead to death. I know, because I checked every single link. There was little branching, with the only set of choices with even the slightest effect on the ending, (again, other than those leading to death), was at the very end. And even that didn't change things all that much.

Other than that though, it's an amazing story that deserves a good play through. Congratulations again on your win, pugpup. You've certainly earned it.
-- jster02 on 8/24/2019 1:49:11 AM with a score of 0
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