Sights & Sensations

 “To mix the rarest colours, a merciless detachment is required.”

Launch news first! The Lucid Tarot colouring book is NOW AVAILABLE on the Etsy shop. This is our first foray in to big, juicy art books – it’s only A5, but it’s nice and chunky because the pages are thick (so they can absorb whatever colouring’s applied to them without bleeding through the page). Check it out!



This is your first opportunity to look at all 78 cards of the Lucid Tarot deck in detail, and/or an excuse to spend hours and hours relaxing with an adult colouring book and your pens / pencils / crayons / pots of Porphyrine. It’s 172 pages of the Hours (and their Minor Arcana friends) as you’ve never seen them before – because YOU haven’t decided what Principles to associate with them. Well, now’s your chance! Scandalise the community by colouring the Hermit in flaming hues of Forge-y orange. Give the Stymphling a makeover in Nectar green. Each Hour has its colour, but maybe you disagree…

Aside from new merch, we’ve also been hard at work on HOUSE OF LIGHT. We’re not ready to share screenshots or release dates yet (though both of those are coming soon), but here’s a glance at some of the game writing and design decisions AK’s been wrangling with in the expansion.

AK here, talking about talking.

There’s about twelve thousand words of direct, in-character speech in BOOK OF HOURS – mostly things that Visitors say to you about their business, plus a little bit of villager chat.

“Heist? Oriflamme’s? Poppycock. Forgeries? Poppycock. Bureau all over the place arresting everyone though. Worse than Ortucchio. Bloody pardon me pain in my bloody pardon me hinder parts pardon me.”

— Dagmar, from The Affair of the Oriflamme Heist

None of it is the Librarian, who, says nothing at all out loud. This is mostly the result of a perennial game-writing problem: there’s a risk when you put words into the player’s mouth that the words aren’t ones they’d choose to say, though there’s more leeway with internal monologues, mental asides, and formal contexts like letter-writing.

Some games deal with this by making the words as bland as possible, which is only a solution in games where writing isn’t important.

A second solution is to make the words sufficiently characterful or witty that the player enjoys feeling they said them, which is easier when the PC is a strong character, say, a noir protagonist like Disco Elysium’s.

A third solution is writing several different lines for the PC to choose and hoping at least one lands, which you almost always have to do in a trad CRPG, and which at least diffuses the problem, though you’ll still often find (e.g.) you’re offered Haughty, Direct or Cheery when what you really wanted was Professional, or whatever. (Owlcat’s latest offering did this well, partly because the protag’s attitude to their exalted position naturally breaks one of several ways – partly by throwing a lot of text at the problem – partly because the writing was, by and large unusually good).

And a fourth common solution, one that I usually favour, is the silent protagonist. This is a natural fit anyway for a game where the most likely line of dialogue for the protagonist is shh! It’s put me in a slightly odd place with salons, though – the social events you’re holding for Visitors in HOUSE OF LIGHT. Various Visitors are probably going to be subject to occasional outbreaks of direct speech, but the host will likely keep their mouth shut – the current (TBC!) design is that you can sometimes intervene by adding a Soul card, but more along the lines of directing conversation than holding forth. I guess this makes the Librarian a better host, though. I did start worrying that it was odd that you serve food for your guests and don’t cater for yourself. I briefly fiddled with adding it to the design. But then I thought, is anyone really going to complain if I make salons require 20% less canned ham? Probably yes. But then that’s more canned ham for the rest of us.

4 comments on Sights & Sensations
  1. I appreciate that you write a silent protagonist. It allows us to fill in the gaps however we please. I like to imagine the librarian as an immortal cosmic presence wearing a mask of flesh that permits it to intercede in the affairs of the world. Of course this isn’t canonical, but there’s little that contradicts it (unlike those other approaches you mentioned).

    1. My first BoH playthrough I deliberately chose the Librarian ending, and I’m headcanoning it as they just remaining the Librarian of Hush House eternally, immortal and forever bound to the library, as never-dying as the memory that are books.

      Hush House endures, and so does the 12th Librarian.

    2. The silent protagonist was very well rendered in Secret World RPG, where in all the video cut scenes the occult protagonistes talk to you, or in front of you, but your character never answers
      It is great in BoH too 🙂 Except when working toward end game and writing your destiny, some possibility to add your own text with a comment-like “write your memoir here” option would be awesome.

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