Tale of Two Cranes—Reach your magical destiny and tangle with your rival in mythic ancient China!

Originally published at: Tale of Two Cranes—Reach your magical destiny and tangle with your rival in mythic ancient China! - Choice of Games LLC

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Fulfill your epic destiny in mythic ancient China! Lead armies, wield magic, and put an emperor on the throne—or become the emperor yourself!

Tale of Two Cranes is a 750,000-word interactive epic historical fantasy novel by Michelle Balaban and Stephanie Balaban, winner of 2nd prize in the 2018 Choice of Games Contest for Interactive Novels. It’s entirely text based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

The mighty Qin dynasty has fallen. As the land breaks into warring states, everyone must choose their side in the growing civil war. 

Within this epic turmoil, you have been chosen to fulfill a grand but mysterious destiny. You are a Yǒngshì warrior, bonded with a heavenly spirit that grants you magical powers, and trained since childhood in the arts of battle. Your spirit is greater than any Yǒngshì has ever been: you are the mortal link to the Red-Crowned Crane, a mystical patron unique among all of the heavens…or so you thought. As war rises around you, you discover that there is a rival: Chan Ming, bonded to the Other Crane, is the only person who could ever match your power—or he might even exceed it.

Your mystical power can sway the course of the war and determine who will be the next emperor. Whose faction will you choose: Liu Bang, a charismatic lord beloved by the people; or Xiang Yu, a veteran of war respected by the military? Can you navigate the politics of the Imperial court, or will you gather your power in seclusion at your country estate? When China’s enemies encroach from the northern steppes, can you negotiate with them to call a truce – or even win them over as allies? Will you prove your loyalty to the new Emperor, or will you betray your allies at every turn? Uncover conspiracies of spies, trace the source of rebellions and mutinies, blackmail an Empress, marry into the Imperial family to become the power behind the throne—or even become the Emperor yourself!

And through it all, cross paths and swords with your rival, the Other Crane. Will you defeat him in an epic battle for the ages, or will you join him and create the most powerful mystical partnership the realm has ever known? 

  • Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, bi, or asexual.
  • Find romance amongst your six closest allies or opt for an arranged marriage.
  • Choose from four magical classes: mystic, militant, sage or strategist.
  • Unravel the mystery of your mystical link to the Crane and discover the truth behind your unique connection to a fellow warrior.
  • Fight epic battles across a landscape inspired by the Warring States period of ancient China.
  • Build your personal power, customizing your estate to create a place specializing in military training, agriculture, spiritual enlightenment, scholarship, commerce, and more!
  • Master the Imperial court to propel yourself into the administration, nobility, or even to become ruler of all China! 

Your destiny calls, and a new dynasty awaits!

Tale of Two Cranes is 33% off until March 14th!

Michelle and Stephanie developed this game using ChoiceScript, a simple programming language for writing multiple-choice interactive novels like these. Writing games with ChoiceScript is easy and fun, even for authors with no programming experience. Write your own game and Hosted Games will publish it for you, giving you a share of the revenue your game produces.


Congrats to the authors on getting it published! I’m sure that’s quite validating after all these years.

However, I have to say it: looks kinda like Tall of Two Cranes. I’m not sure it was a good idea to cover up part of the E.


Wow! Congrats on an unbelievable achievement!


Congrats to both @SharpOne and @TwoSharp :revolving_hearts:

Thanks for your perseverance and inspiration of a wonderful story!


Gee Bill, your mom lets you have TWO cranes?

time to buy it


Congratulations! I heard this one was a comp winner, and the final release was years in the making. You deserve it!


I had to do a double take when I got the COG email. I can’t believe this game is out!

I remember when I played the demo for the first time all those years ago. Congratulations on the release!!! I’m very excited to read it full :heart: (also, 750k words?? This will be a treat).


Thanks to everyone for the support! Also a BIG thanks to the COG staff who were so patient and kind as they guided @SharpOne and I through this process. We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished and feel like we’ve learned so much as writers. It’s an amazing feeling to finally have this published after such a long time.

If anyone has any questions or wants some tips, let us know and we’d be happy to help out.


So, this probably isn’t the place for this comment, as it’s not specific to this game, but I really wish there were an optional save system in CoG games. I reached a point where I’d made decisions I felt good about based on the information I had, but a character I cared about was executed because I chose the wrong companions. When that happened, I lost all interest in going forward with the story, and replaying from the beginning just to fix two or three choices would’ve literally taken me hours. So I uninstalled, and that’s a shame. It’s no fault of the authors - - the story and setting are compelling, even if the personal relationships felt a bit sparse, and they did include a chapter save (but the chapters are huuuuge) - - it’s just a clash between the codebase and quality of life.

I honestly don’t know what the solution to this is. The solution, to me, is a more robust save system, but I know that’s been discussed to death in other threads and it’s not an option everyone likes. I don’t regret spending my money on this title, but I’m left feeling disappointed that I’ll probably never finish it. And that this is far from the first gamebook for which this has been the result. Maybe I just don’t have the right temperament for these games - - a definite possibility; I’m a soft-hearted perfectionist (probably obvious from the number of edits), so bad outcomes are anethema to me. I have a wonderful time with WIPs because of their save systems, but I really struggle with official releases.

Regardless, I appreciate the time and effort that went into crafting such a massive, complicated piece of writing and coding, and I wish the authors all the success in the world. I may not have reached the end of the road, but I enjoyed all but my last step on it, which was more an issue with my own expectations than anything else. All my best.


Congratulations on release I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time

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These choices are reversed. The top one convinces your father to let you (the MC) go back to camp, while the bottom one convinces him (your father) to go back to camp.

Take the power into your own hands. I’m not sure about IOS and Android, but Steam and Webstore both have third party options for saves. If you play on Steam you can download the Steam Save Game Editor and if you play online through the CoG website you can download the Choicescript Save Plugin.


FINALLY, congratulations on the release @TwoSharp and @SharpOne.

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I appreciate the thought you put into your post and I’m sorry that you had a disappointing experience. Ultimately, the scene I think you’re referring to (chapter 7?) was written when this game was half its size and there was no save system at all. @SharpOne and I are biased when it comes to this project and I think we forgot how hard the game can be when one choice can mess up everything you worked for. The chapter saves were also a really recent thing that COG helped us with, but I’m totally on board with using it in the future. If there had been a save at every chapter end (after the demo) would that have helped?

@Lance_Heyen Thanks for catching that! @SharpOne found the variable mix up that happened and we will get started on correcting it.


Immensely, yes. The chapters are very large, so it would still involve a bit of backtracking, but I think I would’ve been willing to do that backtracking two or three times if I reached points where I felt frustrated by outcomes.

And, realistically, I made it quite far before I reached that execution part; I feel like most of the choices presented in the game had more than enough context to avoid failures if I paid close attention, it was just the companion selection that caused me issues. I think of all the investigations involved, I only had one success, and that was just a matter of luck because I chose the same companion three times.


Unfortunately, nearly all of my library is on Android. Definitely something I’d consider if there were a third party app to add that functionality, but I’m not eager to move 30+ gamebooks to another platform. I do appreciate the suggestion, though.


Okay, just finished my first run through. Major spoilers below.

It was a VERY bold move to make one of the romance options the end boss of the game. I didn’t see the WIP thread so I don’t know how your beta readers felt about it but it seems the kind of thing that will be very divisive in the CoG audience. I went with him as my first romance option, even forgoing trying to be the Emperor solely so I could marry him, not a political marriage, and the reveal gutted me. I haven’t had a chance to dig too deep yet to see if there is any way to save him, but even if there isn’t I think I can still be satisfied with the story. I don’t always need a happy ending, sometimes a sad but satisfying ending can suffice.

Other than that it was an amazing story, it very much fulfilled the promise of a decade spanning adventure. A good mix of martial arts, supernatural and political story. I had some issues with the time jumps, the most egregious being the second one where it cuts off just as you are about to fight Zhang. I felt like it did the cardinal sin of telling you how cool something you did was, rather than letting you actually do it.

I noted a few instances of bugs (missing text, repeated text, code left in the game) that I’ll note and post during my next playthrough.

My only other complaint is solely because of just how white I am, and that was how difficult I found it to keep track of all the different characters. Both because of the sheer number of them and with being less familiar with Chinese based names, the names tended to confuse me a bit. The characters themselves were all very different and I didn’t have trouble telling them apart personality wise, but the game would often mention a character name and it would take me awhile to figure out which character that was.

All in all, it is WELL worth the buy in. Congratulations.


This actually used to be one of my favorite WIPs back in the day…and yet I totally forgot that this existed until like, halfway thru chapter 2 lol. So I was like, “why does this seem so very familiar?”

And then it hit me.

I am so, so, sorry. Orz

Still. Congrats on the long-awaited release! :tada:

It’s a bit buggy tho. I didn’t manage to grab some screenshots and I can’t be bothered to replay atm. But basically, choices kept looping when you’re having the relationship talk with your RO (in my case, Chan Ming). And some code peeped through in the “Ride or Die with Chan Ming and the Other Crane whether I like it or not” route.

As for the ending that I got, serves me right for being too codependent on Chan Ming and the Other Crane, I guess.

8.5/10, would get brutally murdered by my ex-friends again lol


Hey I think I found an error in the game. When you get to the first point after you train with your mentor and you get the chance to level up your skills if you’re a militant and you pick weaponry it doesn’t progress at all and it’s rather frustrating. I tried it on a different character that was a mystic and I could level up any other skill but the militant doesn’t want to level up.

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Picked up a snarl which, uh, killed my evil playthrough. XD

In Chapter 4, the code says “temp Betray”. Problem, though, is that Betray is called in later chapters and it forgets that you’ve set it. I’ll mention that I ought to be a candidate for something related to Betray of >=2, but that path is now impossible to reach. :frowning:

Also, I’ve discovered (in another playthrough) that if you’re going for the Empire yourself, it’s impossible to get the Army’s support, because you can’t ask the guilds to work with the army.

It also says, after I fail, that I told the Empress of my plans - when I did no such thing. And she appoints me Chancellor.