Ink and Intrigue [Heart's Choice fantasy WIP] [DEMO is LIVE!]

Sail to a lush island of warrior-mages where dragon runes grant immortality and love runs deep. When mystery tempts, how do you answer?

Ink an Intrigue is a standalone Heart’s Choice game set in the same world as Their Majesties’ Pleasure. I’m currently writing chapter seven of nine chapters total.

Play the three-chapter demo on Dashingdon! (87,000 words)


Have you played the demo? Want to chat about it? Pull up a chair and join the party!

Feedback is most welcome. This game is still in development so if you have suggestions for improvements, I’d love to hear them!

This is the place for general discussion of Ink and Intrigue.

This game includes optional spicy scenes which can be discussed over here.

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Ink and Intrigue:

Plunge into a world where magic calls the passion in your soul and join a clan of immortal warrior-mages. Will you bond with a tattoo artist, a feisty initiate, a playful sage, or a maverick with an unfulfilled quest?

You’ve been a spy for the kingdom of Minare since you were ten, when the king deemed you too clever and sent you off for training. Now a seasoned spy, you’re sent to infiltrate the Kitherin warrior-mages, whose tattoos give them supernatural abilities and whose blood rites bond them to powerful creatures from another world. When the call of the Kitherin sounds in your soul, do you befriend a dragon, griffin, or phoenix? What paths will you take as an initiate?

Befriend or romance the soft spoken artist who paints dragon ink on your skin, the master warrior who plots to sabotage a corrupt regime, the feisty initiate on her third round through the challenges, or the playful sage who teaches you what reciprocity truly means.

Shop from the finest market in the nine seas, surf azure waves, and dance at a full moon celebration where you might indulge in magical elixirs and intimate moments. Get dragon rune tattoos and learn to wield their power, show your prowess on the sparring field, and soar in the skies of the otherworld. Arrange a marriage alliance, meddle in the affairs of the mage council, incite a lawful rebellion, or resort to poison to get what you want.

Will you confess the clandestine role you’ve played for your king, or keep your secrets and let the past die? No matter what you’ve done, your lover will stay by your side. When you pass your initiations and bond with your kindred, you will be joining the ranks of the Kitherin warrior-mages who bring balance to the interconnected worlds.

  • Romance a passionate artist, a Fae-blooded sage, a sassy diva, or a master warrior.
  • Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, bi; asexual; monogamous or polyamorous.
  • Choose high-heat or sweet options, or avoid sex scenes entirely.
  • Dive through portals and explore other worlds.
  • Bond with a dragon, a griffin, or a phoenix.
  • Indulge in magic elixirs and delectable food.
  • Apprentice as a tattoo artist and learn about dragon runes.
  • Go surfing with your friends beneath a full moon and watch the sun rise over the sea.
  • Explore a steamy island paradise crowned with temples, magnificent gardens, and a hidden library.
  • Forge alliances as an emissary, gather intelligence as a spy, decide the fate of a maleficent mage, and shape the leadership of the Kitherin.

Uncover the mysteries of the Kitherin and discover the soul-deep love that awaits!

This is a Heart’s Choice game. The PC is gender-variable, and the ROs are male and female. It contains explicit sex scenes and is 4/5 peppers on the HC spice scale.

Want to give feedback? Here’s how:

Anyone who plays the demo is welcome to submit feedback. Not all suggestions will translate to changes in the game, but all feedback is considered and appreciated. General info below:

First, read the Beta FAQ if this is your first time testing. Beta Testing FAQs - Please Read Before Applying!

This game contains adult content.

When you have FEEDBACK to submit:

Include screenshots or copy/pasted quotes whenever you can; it helps us track down whatever observation you’re making. In particular, the author may see things that you don’t, and/or the screenshot may contain more information than you realize.

Tips on How to Give Feedback
We’re looking for “high level” and “low level” feedback. Not mid-level feedback.

  • Low-level = typos and continuity errors. A continuity error is when a character’s gender flips, or someone comes back from the dead, or you run into a plotline that just doesn’t make sense (because it’s probably a coding error). For these low-level issues, screenshots are very helpful. If you see a problem, take a screenshot, or copy and paste the text that is in error, and email that.
  • “High level” feedback has to do with things like plot, pacing, and characters. “Scene A didn’t work for me because x, y, and z,” is useful feedback. “B character was entirely unsympathetic, because u, w, and v,” is also useful feedback.
  • “Mid-level” feedback describes things like grammar, style, word choice, or the use of commas. As stated above, I do not want mid-level feedback. In particular, DO NOT WRITE TO ME ABOUT COMMAS.

Be SPECIFIC in your feedback.

Some examples of useful feedback:

  • In Choice of the Dragon, you get to choose what type of wings you have: leather or scaled. Someone wrote in and asked about having feathered wings. Great suggestion! Done!
  • In “The Eagle’s Heir,” someone asked about Eugenie. They said that the romance moved too quickly–because she only appeared in the last third of the game–and wished they could have had an opportunity to meet her earlier. So the authors added an opportunity to meet her and start the romance earlier in the game (in a scene that already existed).
  • In “Demon Mark: A Russian Saga” several people commented on how the PC’s parents were unsympathetic, so the authors added a choice or two to deepen the relationship with the parents in the first chapter, to help better establish their characters.
  • Pointing out a specific choice and saying, “this is who I imagined my character was at this particular moment, and none of these options seemed right for me. I would have liked an option to do X instead,” is also really helpful feedback.
  • If you choose an option and then the results of that option don’t make sense. Like, if you thought an option might test one stat, but it seems to have tested a different one.
Setting / World Building

Rzskador is a land so wide it contains mountains and deserts, lush jungle and tropical paradise. The islands of Ra’zai are part of Rzskador’s domain and lie off its western coast. Home to the Kitherin warrior-mages and their families, villages dot the sides of the mountains that rise from the ocean, while temples, training grounds, and the ritual grounds where blood-bonds are formed crown the higher elevations. The tropical climate makes for an abundance of food, flowers, and herbs that offer a breadth of culinary, medicinal, and mind-altering possibilities.

Rzskador embraces magic in all its forms and is made up of four kingdoms which govern with respect that has resulted in lasting peace. Meanwhile, to the east, the kingdom of Minare is ruled by a cruel king born from a long line of cruel kings. Nearly thirty years ago, in an attempt to shift the pattern of oppression in the nations of Minare and Rumia, two of Rzskador’s princesses agreed to marry kings they did not love in hopes of raising a new generation of rulers who value respect and kindness.

In Their Majesties’ Pleasure, Rumia’s heirs Lissa and Julian prove themselves worthy of their mother’s Rzskadorian blood. Only some of the heirs in Minare show the same promise. Minare’s king grows old and greedy, lusting after the power of the Kitherin while fearing their magic so much he is unwilling to correspond with them directly. He sends the PC to gather information in hopes of finding a way to manipulate the Kitherin to fight for him against an empire with which his family has had a blood feud for over a thousand years.

The Kitherin are a clan of warrior-mages that hail from all corners of this world and others accessed through portals. They are a multi-cultural community that adheres to the Rzskadorian values of respect, compassion, and excellence in every endeavor. Though many mages (and Rzskadorians in general) have Fae blood, others do not. Their magic comes from dragon runes and ritual blood-bonds with powerful allies (called kindred) that hail from a world inhabited by creatures such as dragons, griffins, phoenixes, kraken, and hydras. Reciprocity is sacred to the Kitherin and their kindred, and together they seek to maintain balance in the interconnected worlds through which they travel.

The island of Ra’zai is nearly invincible, thanks to a complex tangle of political, philosophical, and physical devices. As part of Rzskador, the archipelago Ra’zai belongs to is protected by one of the largest, most politically powerful countries in the world. And, being home to the Kitherin, who have largely stayed out of this world’s politics and could obliterate any army with the help of their kindred, no empire or kingdom has been foolish enough to come conquering since the Fire Temple was erected.

Characters

PC: You’ve been a spy for the king of Minare since you were ten. Now you’re a seasoned veteran at gathering tasty secrets that the king uses to bribe and blackmail monarchs and nobles on every continent. Your latest assignment is to infiltrate the Kitherin warrior-mages and gather intelligence that can be used to the king’s favor, but you see another option: a true alliance. When you arrive in Ra’zai, with the entirety of Rzskador between you and Minare, you have a chance at the freedom you’ve long sought. You can escape the king forever, or arrange a marriage between a Kitherin warrior-mage and one of Minare’s heirs. When the call of the Kitherin sounds in your soul, will you bond with a dragon, a griffin, or a blue lightning phoenix? And as you face the initiations that lead up to the blood-bond, who will be your friends and who will be your lover?

ROMANCE OPTIONS:

Re’anna (Rae), FEISTY ROOKIE: Rae is on her third round of initiations after not being able to complete the trials at the end. She might’ve failed the first two times around, but she learned a lot and is determined to get to the blood-bond no matter how many times it takes. Curly hair. Wicked grin. A fun, sassy diva, she’s from Rumia, and used to perform at the Cabaret. You can help her pass her initiations with spy tricks and encouragement.

Matteo (Teo), TATTOO ARTIST: Soft spoken, kind, and passionate, Teo spends his days tattooing dragon runes on initiates and masters in one of the temples atop Ra’zai’s largest island. The tattoo process is done by painting a potent solution of herbs and dragon blood on the person’s skin. The process is painful, but he brings a calmness to it that is more than comfort: peace emanates from him and the dragon runes that cover his body. Long hair, dark brown eyes that shine amber when in resonance with his dragon kindred. He will take you on as an apprentice if you show interest in learning his trade.

Alexius Kai (Kai), WARRIOR-MAGE: Messy hair, electric-blue eyes that shine with gold and purple when he calls on his power. Kai is one of few Kitherin who have been through three blood-bonds. His kindred are a purple dragon, a giant tiger, and a blue-lightning phoenix. He harbors an unfulfilled mission the mage council does not support, so he’s biding his time in Ra’zai while planning to overthrow a government in another world. You can help him convince the council to approve his mission, and leave the council forever changed.

Theandra (Thea), PLAYFUL SAGE: Thea is one of the guardians of the pool to the otherworld and also holds space in the temple of reciprocity. She’s serene. Serious. Patient. Sometimes talks in riddles. She also has a playful side. Her green eyes take on hues of sea blue when in active communication with her dragon. You can help Thea and her dragon bring balance to the multiverse, and assist her in being elected to the mage council.

KINDRED:

Sia, PC’s DRAGON: Patient. Wise. Sense of humor. Vast well of magic. Spins dragon runes through space-time for fun. Increases secrecy stat.

Gavriel, PC’s GRIFFIN: Playful. Fast. Can track anything, anywhere. Increases prowess stat.

Nala, PC’s PHOENIX: Blue-lightning phoenix. Far-seeing mind, electric energy. Cryptic conversationalist. Increases creativity stat.

Ginea, RAE’S PHOENIX: Fire phoenix. Waiting impatiently for Rae to complete her initiations so they can enact the blood-bond.

Lovato, TEO’S DRAGON: Devoted. Ancient. Amber scales range from golden to reddish-orange. Donates blood for Teo’s tattoos.

Vijrasa, KAI’S DRAGON: Tolerant but deadly. Dark sense of humor. Something of a legend in the otherworld. Kai’s first kindred.

Jilash, KAI’S TIGER: Alpha. Hunter. Hungry for food and sex. Kia’s second kindred.

Hazima, KAI’S PHOENIX: Blue-lightning phoenix. Blunt. Mysterious. Makes connections in patterns through time.

Chandria, THEA’S DRAGON: Water dragon. Keeper of the records of Kitherin and kindred bonds. On the council of kindred working together to maintain balance in the multiverse.

FAQ

Q: When will Ink and Intrigue be released?
A: There is no set date at this time. I’m currently writing the last few chapters. Updates will be announced on this thread, or by Heart’s Choice/Choice of Games.

Q: What is the estimated total word count?
A: My guess is this game will be 200,000+ words. Current word count is upwards of 175k and I’m working on chapter seven of nine.

Q: Are any of the characters from Their Majesties’ Pleasure in this game?
A: No, but some are mentioned and you’ll learn more about the Cabaret from Rae, who is from Rumia.

Q: Are there as many poly options in Ink as there are in Their Majesties’ Pleasure?
A: No, but there’s still lots of fun to be had. None of the ROs in Ink and Intrigue are in romantic relationships when you meet them. While you can be with more than one person before committing, there are no commitment options that include multiple partners. However, the ROs don’t mind if you enjoy the company of your other friends, and some of the ROs are game to engage in casual threesomes in the last chapter.

Q: Will you be publishing more chapters on the forum as you write them?
A: No, but there will be a beta testing phase before the full game is published. Keep an eye out for that announcement if you want to do beta testing on the full version of Ink and Intrigue.

Q: Is this the official art for the game?
A: No, this is temporary art created in Canva. Official art is not yet available, but I’m sure it will be AMAZING when it’s ready.

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How exciting! I have quite a lot on my plate at the moment so it would probably be unwise of me to volunteer in time for Spring Thing - but when things are quieter I’d love to playtest this. I really like the sound of the characters and setting, and it’s really fun that the phoenix, griffin, and dragon are all distinct characters in themselves too. I hope you’ve been enjoying writing it!

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I’ve been having a ton of fun writing this! And I totally understand how busy you must be. Thanks for the support! I hope you don’t mind that I used your Honor Bound WIP thread as a template to create this post. :rofl: I was lost and figured you’ve done such a good job I could just follow your lead. :two_hearts:

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Oh bless you, I didn’t even realise, haha! :star_struck:

Am I right in remembering that your Poetry and Passion game is in this setting too?

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Yes.

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Oh… I can’t wait to read this. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Congrats on putting the demo out soon.

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Thank you so much! :sparkling_heart: :raised_hands: :sparkling_heart:

Yes! That’s right!

If anyone wants to play a super short game set in the same world as Ink and Intrigue (with completely different characters) check out my game jam entry, Poetry & Passion, free to play on itch:

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I heartily recommend Poetry and Passion, by the way. It’s everything I love about Leia’s writing in bite-sized form.

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Aw, thank you! :two_hearts: Blushing over here. :blush:

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(does little dance :dancing_women:)

So happy that you finally have it out @leiatalon!

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Would another Spring Thing participant be allowed to apply? :smile:

Either way, best of luck! See you at the festival!

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Oh my gosh, of course! Thanks for your interest! I’ll be releasing the demo in the Back Garden, so I’m not competing with anyone. I’d be thrilled to have your feedback. Just shoot me a DM for the link. And best of luck to you as well!

Thank you for celebrating with me!

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This isn’t to do with beta testing lol but just wanted to say that I read the intro post and am excited to play the public demo next month :slightly_smiling_face: I hope you find your testers and have fun writing! :heart:

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Some thoughts from my playthough. Overall, it was pretty fun, with evocative prose and beautiful worldbuilding and lore, although the first chapter felt quite linear, before things started to branch out.

I did one playthrough and reviewed the code after playing.

Item 1 - SPOILERS
The book isn't as long as it seems. You recognize the learning, discernment, and resilience runes on the wall in front of you, and contemplate the benefits of levitation. 

Finally, Teo comes out with a sheet of thick pressed paper. "You may choose one of these for your fourth tattoo," he says. "You will receive them tomorrow."

He leaves you again, this time with a list of three choices and skillful sketches of their corresponding runes.

[i]WISDOM: Perspective. Understanding. The ability to process intelligence and apply it to action.[/i]

[i]STEALTH: Silence. The ability to move undetected. Precision. Secrecy.[/i]

[i]PERCEPTION: Enhanced vision. Clear perspective. Logic. Strategy.[/i]

*fake_choice
    #I choose the wisdom rune.
        *set cre %+10
        Of all the runes, wisdom appeals to you the most. It gives you the advantage of knowing what to do with the information you gather and what move is best in any situation.
        
        Wisdom means you can adapt with grace and speed. It lets you see things from multiple angles and decide which approach is best.
    #I choose the stealth rune.
        *set sec %+10
        *set rune 2
        You've always practiced stealth, but having a dragon rune to enhance your ability to be silent and undetected is as good as it gets for a spy. 
        
        Even if you're thinking of getting out of the business of spying for King Stevik, stealth will help you as a warrior-mage.
    #I choose the perception rune.
        *set spon %-10
        *set rune 3
        Enhanced vision and a clearer perspective gives you a number of advantages as a spy and warrior. You value clear thinking and a logical approach, and look forward to strengthening those attributes with a perception rune.

It is not clear which rune affects which stat. Wisdom is linked to creativity (also seen with the drinks later), but that was not very intuitive to me. Perception being linked to logic seemed even more of a stretch, I might have linked it to creativity if I didn’t view the code.

Item 2 - SPOILERS
You pick up your pen and start writing. Despite your relation, the king has never let you call him uncle. He taught you long ago to write as if you're not of his blood, and word your messages so only he would understand.

[i]My Liege,[/i]

[i]I have given careful thought to your last request, and deem it impossible to execute successfully. As for my return, unexpected events have interceded. Rather than observing those I've come to visit, I'm becoming one of them.[/i]

*goto signandsend

*label marriage_letter

You pick up your pen and start writing. Despite your relation, the king has never let you call him uncle. He taught you long ago to write as if you're not of his blood, and word your messages so only he would understand.

[i]My Liege,[/i]

[i]I have given careful thought to your last request, and deem it impossible to execute successfully. @{(mapass) However, a pairing would be most beneficial here. The fourth would be a good match.|The best course here would be an alliance of blood. Eldest K would be a good match.|} @{(maap) The advantages are many and would expand your reach considerably.|This could be our biggest advantage against our enemies.|}[/i]

*label signandsend
You sign one of your fake names, and fold the paper. It slips into the pocket in $!{hawkname}'s harness without adding any bulk.

Fantasy stories have their own rules, so you can probably ignore this item, but I think a King is more often addressed as “His Majesty”, and not “My Liege”, unless the MC holds a formal office and the King is a direct feudal superior.

Item 3 - SPOILERS
*label drinks_ask
"Not yet," you say.

"I was just telling $!{pcname} about superpower potion," says Rae.

Eleanora smiles. "That's always popular among the more physical of our kind. I'm partial to the moonshine."

"That's the golden brew," explains Rae.

"It looks more like sunshine," you say. 

A giggle escapes, and Eleanora brings a hand to hide her grin. "That's what I said first time I saw it. You're right. It [i]is[/i] sunshine. It's just been bounced off the moon before its essence was distilled into what we call moonshine. It tastes like summer stars and feels like freedom."

"Moonshine is a happy elixir," says Rae. "Makes you feel like you don't have a care in the world."

After having sent your message to the king, it might be nice to forget your worries, but you know it would only be temporary. Any elixir you take is a fleeting thing. "What about the purple drink?" you ask.

"Dragonberry juice." Rae's eyes narrow. "It packs a punch but puts everything in perspective."

"That it does," says Eleanora. "Dragonberries are harvested in the otherworld, crushed and fermented in ours, along with a good deal of magic and a drop of dragon's blood. When you drink the dragonberry elixir, you taste the wisdom of dragons."

You stand before the drinks table, contemplating your options.

*comment pdrink 1=superpower potion, 2=moonshine, 3=dragonberry juice, 4=water

There needs to be a reason why the MC can’t pick more than one drink, or better yet, all of them. If these contain magical properties which give special powers, why wouldn’t I take all of them? As far as I can tell, these drinks are not in limited supply, and the party isn’t issuing limited drink coupons.

Item 4 - SPOILERS
Rae moves to the beat with impeccable rhythm, hips swaying side to side. Her smile is a deviously playful invitation. Her skirts twirl around her as she spins, while the thin straps of her dress show off muscled arms. The cropped bodice she wears beneath is black as her dress and lifts her cleavage into shapely perfection. Her curly hair is untamed and gorgeous, bouncing as she dances.

@{(pdrink) The elixir you drank charges you with vitality, and you see the same in Rae. You match each other in vibration and intensity.|The elixir you drank makes you feel like you're dancing on moonbeams. You smile at Rae, who radiates vitality with the superpower potion in her system.|The dragonberry juice makes you see the whole party as if from above. Each dancer has an aura the elixir shows you in subtle glows. Rae radiates vitality with the Calendia potion in her blood.|The party pulsates around you, the jungle shines with light, and the moon beams down from above. Rae radiates vitality with the superpower potion in her system.}

Rae is described as having Calendia potion, even when it’s previously referred to as Calendia nectar, in this part.

Thanks for sharing your work with me.

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You’re quick! I appreciate your notes and will keep them in mind as I get into revisions. Thanks very much for taking the demo for a spin!

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I submitted the Google form, but my email account acted up, so, I am not sure if it came through okay.

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Your encouragement is super appreciated. Thanks so much! :two_hearts:

I got it! I didn’t get a notification but the response is there, so the form worked. Yay! Thanks so much for your time and feedback!

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Those who have given feedback already, about how long did it take to play through all three chapters?

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I’m not sure. I read through the code after each chapter, so that messed up my sense of time.

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I went through it twice, and it took me a few hours in total.

As is usual with Leia’s writing, time flies by fast, and it is over before you realize it!

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