One of the questions Fallen London fans have been putting to us most is how Mask of the Rose differs from its progenitor. We’d like to shed some light on that today. It’s important to note that it is an entirely new genre for us, so apart from the lore and tone similarities, expect a very different experience overall. Bearing that in mind, here are some of the key areas where Mask is an entirely different story to Fallen London…
Enduring or Replayable?
Fallen London is a huge, and ever growing game where player characters evolve and develop over many years. A few parts of Fallen London can only be experienced in multiple playthroughs; for example, you can create a character with a different Ambition – but to progress far enough to complete these epic storylines is a big time investment. Mask of the Rose is a short game, but it’s designed so that curious players can play through multiple times, and there are meta-features which acknowledge the different outcomes you can achieve in your playthrough. It’s built for replayability.
Analytical or Intuitive?
Part of the fun for seasoned Fallen London players is the “meta game”; using statistics to work out how they can play the game as efficiently as possible. High-level players write complex analyses to optimise play. For example, many are constantly searching for the best Echo-Per-Action (EPA) activities (how they can earn the most in-game currency for every real-time limited action).
The economy side of Mask is much simpler and less granular. If players want to earn some money, then they choose to devote a period of their in-game time to it, pick a professional topic, and play the storycrafting mini-game. The reward for each completed tale is similar; normally a shiny new penny that can be spent elsewhere. You’ll also find less repetition in Mask; the idea that a player might play the same snippet of story dozens of times to earn a particular resource is entirely absent.
Similarly, interacting with characters is less abstract. There is logic behind the scenes, but if you want to get Theophilus, the vicar, to trust you, then you could take straightforward steps: dress as a churchgoer, avoid lying to him, and maybe do him a favour. You won’t have to work out the best way to earn 550 Foxfire Candles and increase an “Establishment” quality by working at a bank to have a shot at convincing him you’re on the level. (There’s a bit more detail on character interactions in this blog.)
Many players play through Fallen London with one eye on the wiki to find out what their next step should be. Mask of the Rose is more immediately intuitive, and we’d expect most players to want to make their first run unspoilt. If you are aiming to unlock all the different permutations of characters’ fates, it’s also quite possible to do that without assistance. There are multiple, flexible ways to reach all of the key endings, and we don’t want to punish players for “imperfect” play; you’ll normally be able to get back on track if, for example, you offend someone. That said, we anticipate many players will check out a walkthrough on repeat visits to ensure particular outcomes.
Deterministic or Random?
In Fallen London and our other games, pursuing a course with a random chance at success is central. However, the Random Number Generator can be a real… erm… bustard. We’ve spent many hours looking into reports by players that a particular card won’t draw or that they failed a quality test many times in a row. We promise you that it really is fair and random; but of course, that also means it is possible to be extremely unlucky, which can be very frustrating. Many games use hidden mechanisms so that the chance of success increases with each failure; Fallen London doesn’t do this, although you might see the same idea used explicitly.
Mask of the Rose is deterministic; if you make exactly the same choices in a playthrough, you will always get the same results. Of course, there are a lot of big and small choices to make, so it’s not too predictable for the first-time player, but you can be sure that if you make the “right” choices for your desired outcome, they’ll be effective.
In Fallen London, the character can change their outfit in most areas and often does so to pass particular skill checks. The outfit effects in Mask are just as powerful, but the approach is also less granular (and a little more naturalistic). Players have the opportunity to change their outfits when they are at home in their attic room. When they then pick a location to visit using their map, they are committed to what they are wearing for that particular time block. Generally, we expect players to think about what they want to achieve by visiting a particular character or characters, and dress accordingly!
An Intimate Tale
Mask of the Rose has a smaller cast of characters, and fewer of them use the Fallen London naming convention of “Adjective Profession”, for example, “the Punctilious Dentist” (who will not be appearing in an exciting Exceptional Story any time soon).
The Tentacled Entrepreneur will guest in Mask of the Rose, but our main characters tend to have more conventional names; Horatia Chapman, for example. Unlike Fallen London and the Sunless games, we are telling an intimate title with a smaller cast, so it’s easier to keep track of the actors, and we want the player to soon be “on first name terms” with them.
This is the root of all the differences between Fallen London and Mask of the Rose. Fallen London has a grand, picaresque scope in which the player character is something of a super-heroic (or villainous) cipher, conquering every aspect of the neath. Mask of the Rose is a mystery, a story about social upheaval and – if you want it to be – a romance. Fallen London is the story of a city; Mask of the Rose is the story of a citizen – you!