Mask of the Plague Doctor - WIP [Chapter Eight added]

#1

The town of Thornback Hollow is under quarantine. Its people are beset by a state of permanent insomnia, and the infection is spreading. At the orders of the Crown, Baron Morlond’s levied soldiers guard the gates. The summons have been sent. Plague doctors in the vicinity must respond by law, or face the Crown’s justice.

You are one of these masked physicians. Can the town be saved at your hand? Or will you be forced to find an escape route, as the creeping sickness proves impossible to contain? Are you focused on medicine, intent on curing this plague above all else? Or is this cauldron of political unrest just begging to be stirred?

Welcome to the thread for my WIP game, Mask of the Plague Doctor (which is, itself, a working title). Below, you’ll find the link to play the first four chapters of the game. You’ll meet the majority of the game’s main characters in these opening chapters.

  • Don plague doctor robes as a male, female, or non-binary character.
  • Select from a range of mask designs, or choose your own entirely.
  • Meet your fellow traveling physicians, and the many curious citizens of Thornback Hollow.
  • Your investigations will take you all over town, from rancid tannery buildings to aristocratic manors.
  • Explore the community’s theological leanings.
  • Plus, mud! Intrigue! Dubious medical procedures!
  • Seriously, lots of mud. Bring boots.
  • Beware the Dweller in Thorns.

Play the first eight chapters of Mask of the Plague Doctor here!

At this point, Mask of the Plague Doctor has an average playthrough of 49k words. Chapters 1-8 come out at around 180k in total. It’s looking like the game will be 11-12 chapters when finished (at a guess - it’s already expanding a little bit from my original ten chapter outline). The final release is penciled in for 2019.

As part of that development process, you all get to play along! Further chapters will be added as they’re written and edited. In the mean time, let me know how you get on with this first quarter-to-third-ish of the game. Questions, feedback, story speculation; it’s all welcome. I’ll be checking back in with the thread on a regular basis, posting more ongoing development details and reading your reactions/suggestions.

17 December 2018 Update: Chapter Five is now playable too!

18 January 2019 Update: Chapter Six is here!

27 February 2019 Update: Chapter Seven added!

03 April 2019 Update: Chapter Eight now included!

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#2

It’s rare to see a CoG author on the forums, so I’m glad you’re mingling with the community! Hope the feedback helps you out.

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#3

Welcome to the community @PParrish!

I am happy to see your WiP thread and will be glad to offer feedback - it is extremely nice seeing this effort put forth.

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#4

The title and description alone got me hooked. Can’t wait to try out the game! Will there be ros tho?

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#5

Not so much in these opening chapters - but there will be opportunities for romance, yes!

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#6

My goodness, this game is amazing. Truly unique, I absolutely look forward to playing more of this game. It should also be interesting to see how accurate this game is when it comes to actual sickness and medicine.

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#7

Hey hey forumgoers: you’ve requested we do more with betaing COGs as WIPs and we have heard and responded! I hope you enjoy the first part of Mask of the Plague Doctor. I’m super excited about this game, and I’m the lead editor on this project. @PParrish and I are looking forward to your feedback here.

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#8

A quick thing to start:

There’s some mixing of modern phrasing and terms and ‘old timey’ ones, which can be a little weird. But otherwise its nice so far.

Just a question on the masks:
IIRC irl they had this beak to stuff herbs into to ward off ‘miasma’ right? What’s the story behind non-beaky masks here?

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#9

I am just thinking of the opening scene , if the MC is wearing the plague doctor Mask and cloth , and since the town is under quarantine … it is quite weird when the soldier question the appearance of a person ( clearly in the uniform of a plague doctor) , in a manner that show the soldier is indifferent of the situation ? I would think the soldier would at least display a manner of relief to see a possible healer to the town ? :slight_smile:

I suppose it is common for a soldier to question any common folks , but if MC is clearly wearing the plague doctor uniform , perhaps the tone from the soldier should be different ?

#10

I am a bit confused as to why apparently everyone expects the visiting plague doctors are going to be deeply concerned about the economic inequality in the town presently experiencing a major plague outbreak. Or for that matter what it is the tanner’s guild expects us to do about it. That sounds like a problem requiring skills not implied by walking around in what passes for biohazard gear investigating plagues.

I mean unless they want us to screw up quarantining it on purpose so as to kill a majority of the town to shrink the labor supply but while we could do that it seems an odd thing to request.

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#11

I’m so jazzed for this!

#12

You got me hooked, can’t wait to read more!!

#13

Great read very interesting

#14

Can we have very strict control over whether or not we remove our mask? I particularly noticed it in the scene where I first visited the caravan, where I removed the mask at some point for no readily clear reason. It’s presumably our best effort at protecting from infection and a symbol of authority in regards to disease, so I wanted to wear it basically at all times unless there was some specific need to show my face.

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#15

If I may make a suggestion: As said, they had beaks etc to put herbs in. So we, for example, would have to take it off to replace those?

Or if we arrive after nightfall have the tense guards be startled at seeing a human with the face of a X at first before superstition makes way for recognition?

#16

Thanks to everybody who offered greetings and welcomes - and thanks to anybody who’s trying out the game! Looks like I have a few questions and suggestions to respond to (great, keep them coming). I’ll try to keep it to posts like this rather than replying to everybody individually.

@Jay_Tarrant I’ve tried to be historically accurate-ish when it comes to the medical details. The world is roughly 13th century in terms of technology/knowledge/feudal structures, but it is also explicitly fantasy, which is kind of my get out of jail card for certain aspects.

A big priority for me is trying to maintain the balance between credibly giving the protagonist the chance to cure the plague, while also having (relative to us) limited medical knowledge. In order to do that I’ll have to stray from history (bloodletting was all the rage in real life, but if you’ve read far enough you’ll know the doctors of this world have somewhat abandoned it already - they also reference techniques that are post-13th century), and at times I’m flat out making things up.

I plan to do a post a bit later on where I talk a bit about the reference materials I’ve been using.

@Eric_knight That’s a good point. The peasant solider is in “I have orders to guard, so I’m guarding” mode, but I agree that should probably be more “prove your credentials” in tone. It’s my intention for the levied soldiers to be somewhat indifferent - they’re not from the town, and they’ve picked the land clean of food. They’re pretty sick of the whole situation.

@James_Marsh Fair questions! In one sense, you’re not expected to do anything about the town’s economic woes. You have direct orders to support the Mayor and cure the plague. Anything else is a choice to go a bit rogue.

You’re approached by the guild because they’re out of work due to the quarantine, going hungry, and rabble rousing with anybody who steps into ‘their’ part of town. They don’t trust you, but plague doctors do have some social standing, so they know you’re a potential link to the feudal powers that subjugate them. That could be useful. And they’re desperate.

All that said, “what am I supposed to do about this?” or “I’m just here to deal with the plague” are perfectly reasonable responses, and the game branches (if I do my job right) will respect that.

@MeltingPenguins Any modern/old timey bits you found particularly jarring? I’d like to take a pass at those if they’re too incongruous. Thanks!

Mask stuff! So, plague doctor masks are (most likely) ahistorical for the time period I’m drawing from. As far as I’ve read, they didn’t really come into use until the 17th century. The famous pictures you’ve probably seen of beaked doctors come from the 1600s or later. However! Lots of us (including me before I got into all this) associate them with earlier medieval times.

I’ve run with that, but also fudged things a bit. The doctors in this game just wear masks as a matter of tradition (or to appear a bit stranger/more menacing in some cases), and choose an aspect/animal/symbol with personal meaning. In Chapter 4 one of your companions makes a reference to using herbs in the snout/beak to ward off miasmas, both as a nod to the history and as a sort of hypothetical ‘origin story’ for that practice. You’ve made me realize it’s in an optional branch; so I should really include a similar detail in the other parallel branch.

Seems like I should probably detail some of that a bit more in Chapter 1, as well. To let players know what the practices/traditions are with these masks in this realm, versus what they might expect from their general knowledge of history.

Okay, whew, that’ll do for now. Again, thank you to everybody giving feedback and playing the game. Exciting times for me, having the early chapters out there for all to see :slight_smile:

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#17

Well, you’ve got my attention.

#18

@PParrish the ‘modern’ bit that kibda threw me off were things like ‘okay’ or ‘no time to chat’ while the words can easily be older the usage struck me as rather modern-y

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#19

I’d also suggest putting in a bit more background on the plague doctors’ and public’s theory of disease, since that would heavily inform both what the player might do if they aren’t leveraging their personal understanding of germ theory, such as whether they might decide to focus on examining wells near the tannery should that become an option, and what they might expect to be able to sell to the public, such as burning the dead

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#20

I’ve pointed that sort of thing out in my notes, so I know @PParrish is keeping an eye, but this is always useful feedback.

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