The Flower of Fairmont (epistolary WIP) - updated 19-OCT-21

This one was really cool, I kinda loved it too…

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Hehe I enjoyed the demo though half to ask why can’t we send more then one letter at a time?

This is absolutely lovely! I’m always on the lookout for Regency (or even Georgian and Victorian) era novels and this one scratched my itch. I’ve personally never been a huge fan of epistolary novels (with the sole exception of Lady Susan, I suppose) but this is such a unique idea!!

And bearing this in mind, here comes my complaint. I felt like I was hit by too much exposition when writing to our confidant(e). I figured Mr Varavis has PTSD, but it would be nice if we could maybe get a glimpse of an actual conversation with him? Same with Mr Asten. I am currently imagining him as a sort of Frank Churchill character but I yearn to know more! When Mr Arlick writes us letters, it’d be nice to hear about some of our past encounters?

Speaking on behalf of all the dum dums who can’t retain lots of information, it would be nice if we could have broken down all that information into multiple letters.

And then there are some age-related issues. I am playing as the eldest version and I cannot imagine considering myself young at the age of 30. Indeed, I’m fairly certain a lot of the women with kids might be younger than the MC.

There’s also the matter of our friend being denied her season. If she’s our childhood friend, then she can’t be more than a couple of years younger at most, which means she is also decidedly on the shelf? Should have got her season a decade ago. Perhaps you could tweak the ages of characters or change the text to reflect these differences?

I love Yanni beyond belief and every letter by her has me grinning happily! :heart::heart: I can’t wait to get more details on this secret new project of hers! I also immediately adore our father - conflict avoidant though he may be - for being a proto-feminist who is okay with his daughter romancing a girl. I am guessing MC read A Vindication of the Rights of Woman fairly early on. I do sort of wish I could pick a fight with him by sending a letter full of passive aggressive jabs, but he doesn’t deserve it, that darling man. And I am really very interested in the fairy tales and folklore of Fairmont. And the lavender steeped tea. Mmmmm.

And finally, I think I found a grammatical mistake but I’m not sure so I’m just attaching a screenshot!

Thank you so much for writing this book again! I’m off to check out your other works as well. :smiley:

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Folks, I want you to know that I am still here and I am reading and appreciating all of your wonderful responses. I will have replies and comments ready for you sometime this week. I was unfortunately stymied by some urgent business, which is why I haven’t kept up with my replies, lately. This time, however, I will sit down and comb through the threads to make sure everyone gets a response.

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@Isi_Talks:

But you have to keep an eye on the reactions to the letters. For someone who does not read literature from that time it may be a bit foreign and it could take away from the feeling of interaction a bit.

I’m not going to do that. I’m aware that the higher register of language I default to can be more difficult to read, and that some readers may be turned off by that. That’s a buy-in that I’m willing to accept. I made that decision when I started developing the Fairmont game concept, and now that I’m over 30 thousand words into the game, I’m not likely to overhaul the prose style at this point. I thank you for your feedback, all the same.

@Sinnie:

I feel (and this is just a feeling) that it might be tricky to carry off the entire plot in this manner without some active play from the player.

I agree that it’s going to be tricky, but I hope I can pull it off. The introduction section of the game does have some more traditional second-person narration, but once the transition is made, the rest of the game will be completely epistolary.

@rinari:

I’m also interested if there will be more active “real-time” choice-making rather than retrospective accounting of choices.

As I mentioned above, by and large not. I expect that as I get deeper into the story, I’ll have to make some difficult calls about how to relate events. I can tell you that it will affect the way the romances unfold. Mr Arlick is, indeed, one of the romantic options, and the difficulty of conducting a courtship long-distance is one of the relationship obstacles I want to focus on.

@Valixon:

Hehe I enjoyed the demo though half to ask why can’t we send more then one letter at a time?

I am a little confused by this comment. In the first chapter, you can only write one letter, but starting with chapter 2, you can write as many as four letters every week. If you mean the long letter that details everything that happens in the week, that’s a mechanical constraint, to keep the game from getting so long and branch that I have no hope of ever finishing it.

@HappyPotato:

Long reply behind the fold

I felt like I was hit by too much exposition when writing to our confidant(e). I figured Mr Varavis has PTSD, but it would be nice if we could maybe get a glimpse of an actual conversation with him? Same with Mr Asten. I am currently imagining him as a sort of Frank Churchill character but I yearn to know more! When Mr Arlick writes us letters, it’d be nice to hear about some of our past encounters?

Hmm, it sounds more like a problem of too little information, and not too much. I was concerned about overloading the story, and bearing in mind that we’re only one-and-a-half chapters in, a lot of this information will appear in chapters 2 and 3. You’ll soon learn more about Mr Varavis, and Mr Asten is being deliberately mysterious. Getting to know him will take a little bit more detective work.

Speaking on behalf of all the dum dums who can’t retain lots of information, it would be nice if we could have broken down all that information into multiple letters.

This is a good point. I do have the journal mechanic, which is supposed to give an overview of the events of each week. I’ll work on a way to expand that, to make it easier to keep track of the characters.

I am playing as the eldest version and I cannot imagine considering myself young at the age of 30. Indeed, I’m fairly certain a lot of the women with kids might be younger than the MC.

I should probably rephrase that. It’s less about age purely, and more about the difference in status between a married woman and a single one. But you make a good point, and I should clarify that a thirty-year-old unmarried woman has lower precedence than a married woman who’s younger than her in years.

If she’s our childhood friend, then she can’t be more than a couple of years younger at most, which means she is also decidedly on the shelf?

NPC ages are fixed. Jessa, for example, is 22 or 23. She is out in society, and more will be revealed about her situation later in the game. I intend to make it clearer that, depending on the MC’s age, sometimes “childhood friend” means something more like the younger Jessa forming a kind of big-sister connection with the MC, especially since she only had brothers. It’s not really obvious from the first two letters that this is the case, because the big-sisterly feeling faded as they got older. But yes, Jessa is out and her age is not at all unusual for an unmarried woman.

I also immediately adore our father - conflict avoidant though he may be - for being a proto-feminist who is okay with his daughter romancing a girl.

More on that later. It’s not quite that he’s completely okay with it, and more that there’s a certain amount of plausible deniability that an heiress like the MC can get away with. For example, Audeline and Maritte’s situation is deliberately ambiguous.

Lastly but most importantly, thank you so much for sending such a long, detailed and thoughtful comment! It may not be apparent by my tardy reply, but comments like yours are what writers like me live for. It made my day.

There was one further comment that I wanted to reply to, regarding the relationship between Jessa’s parents and the MC, but I can’t seem to find it anymore. I suspect it might have been deleted, but I don’t know for certain. Just to dispel any ambiguity, I want to state for the record that Mr Pawlie’s feelings about the MC being a bad influence are a product of his relationship with Jessa, and not especially influenced by the MC’s behavior.

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Really? Well then it must be the order with which I did them then…it’s been a while since that playthrough but from what I recall I could only read and then reply to part of them then it moved me further along in the story.
In my next playthrough I will try to see if it happens again or not been kinda busy myself and distracted by different things. So I hope this finds you doing well

I will keep looking into it, to see if I can recreate the problem.

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I suspect it’s linked to the issues with reading a latter then choosing a different confidant. It throws the logical ordering of player action a bit and makes the flow disjointed.

Did you manage to get that resolved? I took a look into your code and put a solution earlier in the thread.

I appreciate the thought, but the original bug that I uploaded a fix for was simply a wrong variable value. I never had any difficulty finding it. when bug fixes are delayed, that only means I’m being held up by external matters, and haven’t gotten around to posting the fix. Again, it’s kind of you to offer to help, but I’ve been writing and debugging code for many years, and when I need help, I have no difficulty asking for it.

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Good news, your instincts were solid. I kept testing chapter 2 and tried selecting the options in every available order, and eventually, I discovered the bug. I will hopefully have a fix up later today, once I’ve dispensed with some urgent errands.

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I’m glad it wasn’t just me and was able to be of help.

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It was a small fix, so I didn’t increment the version number, but the new version of Fairmont is live on Dashingdon at the usual link. I’ve amended my manual testing to make sure a bug like this doesn’t escape my notice again. That’s how it goes when you have to wear the hat of a coder, a designer, and a quality checker at the same time!

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At author’s request.

Your story is beautifully written. I enjoyed the demo immensely!

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Important development update:

The alpha version of chapter 2 of The Flower of Fairmont (version 0.2) will be available to all patrons of my Patreon in August. It will be available to download for all patrons while I work on edits and comb the code for bugs and errors. Once editing is complete, the second half of chapter 2 will be added to the demo and be available for all. I will post an update to this thread when version 0.2 goes into beta.

The latter half of chapter 2 is based around the MC’s second week in Fairmont. Some of the events of this week are hinted at in the first week. Beyville and Noelissa each have a new encounter that serves to shed some light on their character. There are more opportunities to either strengthen or sever the MC’s connections with her friends and family, back home.

Starting with chapter 3, the format of the game will change to become more choice-based. In chapters 1 and 2, the events the MC experienced were fixed by the plot, and you could control her reaction to these events. Starting with chapter 3, you can more proactively choose where to go and what to do, which also means that there are some events in each playthrough that you will miss. Because of this added complexity, it’s likely that the first update of chapter 3 will include the main events of the week, but not every possible way to react to them.

While I’m working on chapter 3 (and continuing work on Turncoat Chronicle), I will also prepare some posts about Fairmont’s background, worldbuilding, and characterization details. Some of these posts will first go up on my Patreon, and appear later here, or on the Zinc Alloy Tumblr account. Most likely both.

I do have another note to make regarding romance and the available ROs, but it’s rather long and complicated, so it’s gonna get its own post.

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Regarding romances: as a writer of fantasy, I have some leeway in how much of a certain period’s attitudes I want to adopt when I’m building a story based on that time period. Fairmont is a story based primarily on 19th century England, and I have made a conscious choice to alter some social restrictions and keep others in place. For example, the relationship between the MC and Aunt Audeline should make it clear that chaperones have an important social role in Fairmont’s world.

A Fairmont MC in a courtship with a gentleman is restricted to social interactions that are deemed appropriate by society. Further, she’s restricted in her accounting to what she’s willing to write to her father, cousin, and friends. As I say in my FAQ in the first post, “Due to the tone, the setting, and the epistolary nature of the game, the romances will be fairly chaste.” It’s unlikely that the game will include more than kissing, if that.

Romances will also be affected by the character’s history and proximity, as I replied to @rinari above. If you have ever daydreamed about writing flowery, heartfelt love letters to a distant lover, I have got great news for you. If you’re not satisfied by a romance that doesn’t have skin-to-skin contact, the news is less good. On the flip side, as I mentioned, none of the romances are planned to be very physical.

That said…

I hope that I telegraphed this clearly enough in the story itself, and that no one is especially floored by this list. The romantic interests (ROs) in Fairmont, behind a cut for those who wish to avoid spoilers:

Romantic interests in The Flower of Fairmont
  • Jessa Pawlie - Jessa is a 23-year-old daughter of a gentleman, whose old-fashioned parents are baffled and frustrated by her rebellious tendencies. Jessa is the MC’s childhood friend, regardless of age differences. You can begin the story in an established relationship with her. It may interest you to know that she has very lovely auburn hair and a tendency to freckles.

  • Delmyn Arlick - Mr Arlick is a single man in possession of a good fortune. He is also, in Austenesque terms, “amiable”. That is to say, he’s a charming conversationalist, but he acts as a mirror to those around him, and struggles to assert an independent identity. Corresponding with Delmyn will allow the player to explore this side of his life. He always pursues the MC, but will back down at the first sign of rejection. “Hot and cold” won’t work on dear Mr Arlick.

  • Beyville Varavis - he is a 27-year-old veteran of the War of the Straits, a conflict between Cathrea and Arteia. Beyville emerged from the war with a permanent injury and limited employment opportunities. He’s retiring and soft-spoken, but hides a quiet strength of character that emerges when he’s challenged. His family have always been working people, so an MC/Beyville romance will be a relationship with some class barriers.

  • Noelissa Tulian - Noe is the 25-year-old daughter of a respectable family. She has a reputation as an eccentric, and her family treats her as though she’s much younger than she really is. Noe’s origin story is one of the mysteries you can explore, regardless of whether or not you romance her. Asking questions may gain you the ire of her parents, who wish to be seen as respectable and ordinary.

Kyro Asten is a mystery, but he is not a romantic interest for the MC. If you investigate his mystery, you will soon learn some of the reasons why this is.

Yanni Wyndale is not a romantic interest, firstly because she’s the MC’s first cousin, and secondly because she’s aromantic and asexual. She has not lightly chosen a life that takes her so far out of the bounds of marriageability.

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I am currently working on the choice menus for chapter three. Which of these are you looking forward to?

  • Investigate the origins of the MC’s maternal family.
  • Talk to the mysterious and charming stranger, Mr Asten.
  • Visit Ms Kadria’s teashop and hear some local gossip.
  • Learn more about Noelissa and her family.

0 voters

  1. MC’s mother grew up in Fairmont, and her maiden name is the same as the town’s name. Why is that?
  2. Mr Asten is the most recent stranger to arrive as a visitor to town, before the MC. He can be found investigating town records in the local library.
  3. Ms Kadria runs a very charming, slightly provincial teashop where the local women gather for tea and gossip.
  4. Noelissa is a taciturn, nature-loving young woman who has an eccentric reputation, though her father is a respectable physician.
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Results so far have been really interesting!

You’re all really interested in Thistle Fairmont, huh?

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I’ve been feverishly testing version 0.2 of Fairmont in the hopes of making it public this week. In the course of these tests, I ran ChoiceScript’s trusty Randomtest feature, and it revealed a pretty major bug that I then had to find the origins of. Long story short, the update will be delayed a few days more while I make sure that all my variables are in order.

In the meantime, why don’t you all tell me how you feel about flirting with more than one RO at the same time?

Behind the fold, a teaser image from the game’s stat screen:

Stats screen teaser

Matters of the Heart

Since our argument about Mr Arlick and my sudden relocation to Fairmont, Papa and I have been at odds.

Mr Delmyn Arlick, my Rosewood neighbor, has made his romantic intention known. I have dissuaded Mr Arlick’s attention through studied neglect.

  • Open this week’s journal entry.
  • Browse past entries.
  • Open questions.
  • People of Fairmont.
  • Close the journal.
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