The Mysteries of Baroque: Penny Dreadfuls

Hello all,

I’m William Brown, author of The Mysteries of Baroque and Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow.

We’re now considering doing some DLC - “Penny Dreadfuls” – for Baroque (ultimately for Cliffhanger too). Each of these will be post-game expansions, each roughly about two or three chapters in length, but also featuring some additions to the main body of the game itself - new scenes, new subplots, new augmentations and powers, and new characters, some of them helping to set up the post-game content, some of them just for fun.

What I’d like from the good people of this forum is some input on what you’d be most interested in seeing. Characters, storylines, elements of the setting, lingering mysteries? Although I have the outlines for four Penny Dreadfuls below, I’d like to gauge people’s interest in the concept in general, and what kind of stuff they would be most keen to see.

I’d also like to know which of the four Penny Dreadfuls most intrigues you. If all goes well, I’ll write them all eventually, but your preferences might affect the order they come out in.

1. Tale of Tales

“Life is a dream,” says the Hypnogogue of Glasstown.

“Life is a story,” says the Dervish of Taksim.

Which is true? Or are both? Find out as you embark upon the Eastern Express to Scheherazade, getting caught up en route in a whirlwind of romance, adventure, espionage, revolution, and political and mystical intrigue. This story will take your character east from Baroque across Kadavergehorsam, Carpathia, and ultimately to fabled Scheherazade, Queen of Cities, and beyond it, into the deserts of the Utter East.

2. 100 Days

Apollyon. The Great Beast. The Emperor of the World. The Son of Destruction. A strategic mind of such ruthless brilliance and diabolical luck that it took a Grand Coalition of six of the seven Great Powers to defeat him in five blood-soaked days and nights of battle. A warrior-king of such unnatural vitality that rumour suggests that he could not be killed, only imprisoned amongst the innumerable Pirate Isles.

Now the Followers of Apollyon, a cult devoted to the Emperor, has a plan to liberate their lord and restore him to the empty throne in Prismus. The tattered battle flags of the Legion des Sauterelles will once again fly, the moon will turn to blood, and the end of all things will be nigh, unless their plans can be foiled.

This story will take your character west, to the dream-hazy Pirate Isles and the ruins of old Oneiros, the mystic empire that predated Babel, in a wild, swashbuckling epic of magic and horror.

3. The Great Game

The Great War may be over but only a fool would mistake the present armed truce between the seven Great Powers for peace. Spies, industrialists, secret societies, inventors, bankers, labor leaders, journalists, anarchists, and generals are all engaged in the Great Game: the attempt to ensure that their state or faction has the economic, military, and technological edge.

You are plunged headfirst into this boiling witch’s cauldron by a chance encounter with a dying man in Oubliette, and your subsequent adventures will take you across the capitals of the Inner Sea, fending off deadly assassins and seductive spies, investigating baffling mysteries, making and losing fortunes speculating on the stock market and trying to answer one single frightening question: is another war truly inevitable?

4. Polidori

You find yourself in the saloon of the ferry crossing fogbound Lake Polidori, amongst the peaks of Escher, late at night. Your fellow travellers are a strange crew: among them a brooding poet and your own self-styled creator, Doctor Holofernes. But you are certainly a well-chosen group for the peculiar game that begins: a game in which the company must take it in turns to relate spine-tingling tales of terror. But what are those winged shapes you sometimes glimpse flapping through the fog outside? Where is the crew of this ghostly vessel? Are you passengers… or prisoners? And what will transpire when you reach your destination?

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I’m really hyped for this because I loved Baroque. All four ideas sound interesting, but if I had to choose I would pick 100 Days and Polidori.

In my opinion the best part of Baroque were its extreme characters, and those two ideas sound like they will deliver even more of them (plus more Holofernes in Polidori, which is always great).

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Same, 100 Days and Polidori (and for pretty much same reasons).

This sounds so cool! I like the sound of The Great Game and Polidori most as a) I always love spies and b) I’m always here for spooky Byronic shenanigans.

Love it. And I vote 100 Days and Tale of Tales.

The great game for me

Hey William, I loved the wild, pulpy ride of Cliffhanger, it was definitely one of my favorite IFs of recent years! You have quite a way with words.

I haven’t read Baroque but honestly I love picking the brains of other writers, so I wanted to ask you about the concept of adding DLC in general.

I see that Baroque was released in 2018. Would you talk about your thought process in deciding there was demand for DLC for a game that’s been out for that long? Do you have a customer newsletter or did you talk with some players on some platform? I ask because it sounds like a decent amount of work on your part is anticipated, and I wonder how you decided it was an economically sound decision, as opposed to just writing a new game?

I think a lot of us ponder going back to improve on our previous games, but I’ve always assumed there wouldn’t be much $ reward for doing so.

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Hi Eric,

I’m glad you liked Cliffhanger and thank you so much for those kind words. You should definitely give Baroque a go, I hear it has DLC scheduled to come out…

But in all seriousness, those are some good questions. Here’s my rationale:

I am in fact also working on a new game but because it’s a licensed property, it might take a little while for the license-holder to approve my outline. I’ve got a fair bit of free time for the next couple of months and I like to write, so the idea occurred to me of going back and tinkering with Baroque and Cliffhanger. Mary suggested I do some DLC. I hit on the idea of a kind of ‘short story’-style content to accomodate for the fact that it might be quite stop-start - once the new game gets approved, I might have to set it aside for a while, and once my break is over, I’ll have less free writing time period, so it made sense to aim for short, self-contained episodes with limited scope.

As for whether it will be profitable - well, I don’t really know, and this thread is an unscientific means of testing the waters. I do know that Baroque still sells reasonably well month per month even four years on, so it suggested to me that there might be an appetite for more Gothic insanity.

I’m also hoping a new installment that it’ll be much easier than writing an entire new game. The foundations have already been laid, so to speak, in terms of the code, the world, and the characters - I’m just adding new storeys/stories (sorry). My main concern is how many variables from the main game I should or could take into account for the DLC. Technically, Baroque could have ended with the MC turning into a gigantic tentacle monster and devouring the planet - with apologies to players who took that path, that ending might have to be considered non-canon for DLC purposes.

And thanks to everyone else for your thoughts so far. For what it’s worth, I’m leaning towards Polidori as our pilot DLC, so we’ll see how it goes.

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Okay you can ease up on the hard sell! :octopus: I’ll check it out for sure!

And thanks for laying out your thought process. I think we can all learn from each other.

Time to replay and let you know I love this game.

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They also sound good, but my preferred order would be:

  1. Polidori
  2. The Great Game
  3. 100 Days
  4. Tale of Tales

Generally, though, I am down for anything that would include more Holofernes.

I haven’t had the chance to play The Mysteries of Baroque yet, unfortunately, but even without context, “Polidori” sounds like something I would be excited to play.

I did enjoy Cliffhanger and I’m very excited to see what you come up with for that eventually. I’d like to see an expanded backstory for the protagonist and the children they grew up with.

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Polidori really piques my interest. The confined setting, the strange and suspicious cast of characters, and terror! What might occur once you figure out what’s occurring? Well, you’re trapped out in the middle of the lake. Wonderful amount of tension. Yes, my vote is for Polidori.

Thanks to everyone for their feedback. It is immensely helpful and I also very much appreciate the kind words.

I’ve been working on Polidori and will hopefully soon welcome you aboard the Fantasmagorie, that ship of ill-omen that plies the fogbound waters of Lake Polidori. Your fellow passengers:

Manfred, Lord Otranto

A brooding poet with a reputation for being mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

Professor Leo von Baltasar

The founding father of alienism and master of dream interpretation.

Madame Ilyena de Gorcha

A controversial mystic, world traveller and leader of a notorious secret society.

Johannes de Silentio

A brilliant detective and leading figure of Baroque’s Blackwood Club, a society existing to investigate and record paranormal phenomena.

Sheikha Aisha

A wandering dervish of Scheherazade, the Sheikha travels the world looking to find and memorize lost variants on her faith’s holy book, the Tale of Tales, that endless ocean of stories. Like all of her order, she is illiterate but capable of incredible feats of memory.

Giovanni Falcone
A legendarily talented composer, who disappeared five years ago after the premiere of his cryptic opera, The Fisher King. It was commonly supposed that the Brethren of the Bloody Rose put him to death for revealing certain of their most terrible secrets in the opera. So what is he doing here?

Doctor Judith Holofernes
Perhaps the most brilliant and the most erratic scientist of her generation, Holofernes has never been known to suffer fools gladly.

Miss Elizabeth Brown
A lady’s maid from Baroque, she has no idea what she’s doing aboard the ship amongst such strange company.

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