Okay, yes, unfortunately the ‘all-rounder’ build isn’t terribly viable at the moment. As soon as you reach Chapter 3-4, anything below mid-50s isn’t going to help. There are a couple of later stat-boost choices as you progress, but probably not enough to make that set of stats really work. Scrutiny of 58 will serve you well, but not much else, sorry!
The second spread is more what I have in mind. Two very solid stats … although there, I think I’d ideally like one of Accusation/Occultist to be closer to a viable 50-ish, and maybe have the main two a touch lower at first.
I’ll work on that for the next update.
This is why I like doing early testing
@PParrish so I only need to be above 50 to pass stat checks? Im just worried that I couldn’t pass some stat checks that required above 60.
The highest talent (the main skills) stat checks in the game at the moment should be 60, and those only show up in Chapter Six.
There are some harder personality stat checks, but it’s much easier to boost those numbers (as I can see from the 70-80s in the shots above!)
I think I have a few which combine a talent and personality check, but those are rare (and it’s often an either/or kinda thing).
I tried your suggestion @PParrish but I can’t possibly lower both solid stats. I at least need 1 solid stat to pass some stat checks in main skill. I was hoping that you will add something in your next update for boosting talent stats. For example, find some hidden items in castle or whatever place that can give you talent stats or have my mc practice pistols and whatever it is or read books in library to gain informations and talent stats before traveling.
Great to see an update!
I noticed the change to the discussion about charms in C2, I think the new skeptic choice “Until the objects in question can be proven to produce their claimed effects, the point is moot” and the resulting response fits much more with the world. In general, the choices in the new chapters definitely seemed to fit in quite naturally compared to the slight awkwardness in the earlier demo.
The biggest change to the earlier chapters is the revelation that Hopequins was a former MP and informant to the Royalists. I didn’t see it coming, but it definitely adds a new facet to his character, concerning his convictions, loyalties and ambitions. That being said, I don’t think it had much impact here; that Hopequins was important to the Royalist victory is significant, but that only comes into play when the Traitor/Naseby plot shows up. At this stage I’m not sure whether someone who’s unfamiliar with the English Civil War would think that particularly significant. But I guess it’s also foreshadowing that nothing in politics is as it seems – just as the later ritual scene in C3 shows that not everything in hexfinding is as it seems.
I liked Chapter 4. Given the type of hexfinder Anna is, Primkins shows what the other hexfinders are capable of. As of this point all you get (at least with a merciful PC) is Hopequins burning books; Primkins finally shows the uglier side of the hexfinders, but that’s nothing before the execution scene. I think that really establishes the weight of the hexfinder’s duty which wasn’t necessarily present before, especially for a character who isn’t so much a zealot and didn’t arrest Ursula.
Chapter 4’s also really where I think the “battle lines” for the political and religious conflict gets drawn up. Henri Marriete establishes themselves as a potential Pontifex influence over Charlotte, and the break-in establishes how tenuous relations are between the 3 denominations. The main takeaway for me was just how stability lay on a knife edge, how war could so easily flare up again when my prior assumptions were that the most that could happen is a minor insurgency. You see the physical scars of the war from the earlier chapters, but how the crowd can explode into storming the gallows is another thing entirely. As the chapters go on, the shattered nature of the country really sets in.
In the previous 3-chapter demo and so far up to C4, I think I’d largely operated under my preconceptions of similarities to the English Civil War. Hunt the hexcrafters, restore parliament, establish a constitutional monarchy. The revelation in C3 about the spy didn’t really click back then for me. The interrogation of the thief was what really got me clued-in to the bigger picture. For me, I think it was also a pretty good way to show the theological disagreements between the 3 denominations, but I was familiar with their IRL basis in the first place.
The PC’s decision to intervene at the gallows coming to affect them in C5 in the way it did was somewhat unexpected, but definitely appreciated; I like seeing consequences to the PC’s “career” as a result of their actions. Though this chapter in hindsight seemed to be building up for C6, I did like how Anna got developed if you could take her along to Bletchingdon, and also how a Parliamentarian PC can reveal their prior cause to Fairfax. It was a bit of a surprise that she wouldn’t go to Cold Ashby too. In hindsight it makes sense she would go back to report, but I picked the choice “I believe Fairfax’s story. But without further proof, others never will.” and somehow I interpreted her response as still coming along but being unwilling.
I think I enjoyed Chapter 6 the most, especially the start. Coming off the confusion and suspicion of C5, the dread built up nice and steadily. Richard showing up, the refugees, the race to get there before nightfall, and Cold Ashby itself. By that point I’d been prepared to shoot Richard and wishing my PC had a brace of pistols and a sword. Then after Dorty shows up, discovering the Circle.
Meeting the Herald seemed almost a little underwhelming given that. While the confrontation and resulting attack was properly alien, the peril faced by the PC is a little undercut by how a single successful skill check ends it. The ranks of the dead of Naseby and the weird hole thing seem like they would pose at least a more protracted threat. It was a bit over-and-done-with.
Sure, Dorty’s sudden reappearance later doesn’t help with the unease, nor does Hopequins’s interrogation of the PC, and I finished the chapter even more unsure of whoever to trust. But, the last half of the chapter seemed to pass in a blur, a bit rushed. The fight’s over, then Dorty shows up, then you’re back in Oxford, and dealing with Hopequins seems to take longer than dealing with this inhuman devouring thing which is linked to the death or disappearance of thousands and the profane, powerful circle from earlier. I feel like it was a bit of a missed opportunity, given the earlier interactions with Satia’s heralds; indeed, the dream-confrontation at the start of C5 seemed to be longer.
Aside from the dread, the main strength of the chapter for me was the decisions over whether to withhold information or not, especially to Dorty or Hopequins. I did like the interrogation at the end, but I feel its impact was a bit lessened by the quick transition from Naseby to his office. I was kept on edge, but didn’t really have that much time to process everything.
I like the attention given to the other characters in the new chapters. Anna especially, as her background starts to unravel. Her not being there in Chapter 6 definitely contributed to the unease; she and the PC have definitely developed an “investigator duo” act. I liked Dorty too, and especially enjoyed the banter and references to the shared past she shares with an experienced PC. They’ve worked together in the past and the ease between them shows, compared to Anna who’s dealing with her own stuff at the same time. C6 puts no small amount of doubt over her, but I hope Dorty shows again and more.
My impression of Charlotte definitely switched about quite a bit throughout the chapters. It was initially positive, though I could see where the allegations of her being the puppet of Henri came from. I’d briefly wavered on aligning with Parliament for my PC after meeting her for the first time, and after she expressed regret for the bloodletting, but I moved back onto aiming for the restoration of Parliament after the stuff she expressed before the Jewell portrait. Charlotte’s inherent confidence in divine right and her authoritarian tendencies seem only to be exposed if you press against it, while if you encourage it she seems to downplay it. While Laud, Henri and Hopequins seem like the big players, Charlotte’s clearly an adept player of the game too.
I look forward to Laud and Henri getting some more attention in the later chapters. So far Hopequins has gotten the most screentime (much of it negative, and especially after Naseby he and the hexfinders seem to be in an especially poor light), which makes sense as he’s the PC’s boss, but it will be nice to see the schemes of the other two.
Regarding the wording of the choices in later chapters, I found it quite easy and reasonable to justify a switch in my PC’s personality over the course of the chapters. I started out as an indifferent, confiding skeptic, but throughout the chapters I could easily justify radicalisation and increasing zealotry without it seeming too out-of-character. It would be clear what personality slider would change, but the text of the choice would be more weighted towards the middle rather than an extreme, so it would make sense for both changing views as well as someone set in it.
Also some of the stuff the zealot PC shouts and the imagery they get is just great. Screams Biblical, fire and brimstone and all of that.
“Despicable creature!” you shout, expelling spittle as you denounce your onrushing opponent. “Unholy and pitiful beast! My form is as a shield, shaped by the Church’s righteous hands. Turn back, 'lest you suffer the fate of all devils who would try to best me!”
The blazes are quenched. Clouds of smoke part and lift. And you find yourself once more, clear-eyed and zealous, within a field of golden wheat.
A side thing is that the player’s lack of a second name – especially if they’re an experienced Hexfinder – seems a little weird with every chapter. This is especially the case as every incidental character seems to have one as well. It feels a bit off that Anna gets called “Strode” often, but the PC just gets their given name. It’s less jarring for Dorty if the PC’s experienced since they seem quite familiar, but for the others – or even how Anna introduces the PC – it seems a little strange.
Bugs & Typos
If you choose the option “I keep word of a traitor to myself, but describe seeing sinister acts of probable hexcrafting.”, there’s a continuity error when Charlotte speaks to Hopequins in Oxford, saying that
Wheatley was declared free of hexcrafters, and so it proved.
“We spoke to Isaac, the gardener,” Dorty says. “He was quite forthcoming about an attempted theft of his keys, right outside this establishment Said there were a pair of hexfinders here too. I thought that was worth pursuing.” She pauses, smiling to herself. “And behold, here you are.”
Missing full stop between “establishment” and “Said”.
Charlotte says, adjusting the lace cuffs of a white linen jacket embroidered with bright silks. “We may hear further account of how our fair cathedral came to be breeched.”
I think it’s meant to be breached?
“In my discussions with the Archbishop it seemed clear that the woman we have detained is a devout member of the Godly Covenant}, yet you have made scant mention of them,” the queen says. “Why is this?”
Bracket appears in the text
“It may have been a calculation, provide a sliver of truth in order to satisfy your questions. The agent could be sacrificed, if it meant buying more time for herself. Or….” He places the bowl down with care.
I hadn’t told Dorty about the bowl, and the option “I should reveal that I have the vessel, and hand it over.” is available. A continuity error?
Definitely enjoyed the update, keep up the good work!
Thank you for another comprehensive set of thoughts! I’m glad you’re still following this WiP, your comments on the first chapters gave me quite a bit to work with. Looks like the same will be true again.
The bugs and typos are fixed up at my end. Next time I update the Dashingdon version, they will be in place. Took me a while to figure out the continuity problem in Chapter Six, everything seemed to be in order … and then I noticed the multireplace texts for ‘withheld_dorty_bowl’ on that line were just the wrong way around, hah.
I’m greatly encouraged that a lot of the political/religious/character tension is landing. Quite a few times where you’ve noted that ‘x thing in y scene made me think z,’ it’s absolutely what I was hoping would happen when people reach those parts, so that’s terrific.
Hopequins as former MP and Royalist informant: Yeah, my intention with this is to give him more of a direct political dimension than real life Matthew Hopkins. I want to show he’s always had a grudge with Parliament (so does he really believe they’re all hexcrafters, or is that just a convenient fiction he’s fallen into), and provide an explanation for how he obtained and held a position of such power. Even though Charlotte finds him distasteful, and is losing patience, he has been very useful in the past.
It is somewhat directed at those who know about the real Hopkins, to show my version is a bit different.
Chapter Six pacing: I can see how the switch from Naseby back to Oxford feels a bit abrupt. In part, I think that’s a result of that herald section having (in retrospect) far, far too many possible choices in dealing with the situation. You can be there with Nico or Richard, AND you can either pass or fail the Resolve check. There are about sixteen different choice versions of how that plays out (most of them different enough that I had to write unique sections) and oh my god that took a long time to finish.
Once I’d worked out the aftermath (tell people about the bowl/don’t/etc), I was ready to get everybody back to Oxford asap I’m also a big believer in only doing travel scenes when necessary (so, usually only once, one way.)
However! It may be that a scene in between leaving Naseby and being stood outside the office is indeed necessary for a bit of breathing room. Something I’m keeping under consideration, anyway. It may hinge on whether I can think of useful conversation or character development to put in such a scene.