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Season’s Greetings from the Mask of the Rose Team

Merry Christmas; Yule; or the holiday you hold most dear! It seemed particularly advent-appropriate to talk a little more about the importance of seasons and festivities in Mask of the Rose.

The Mask of the Rose story is set in the earliest days of post-fall London. Many of you are Fallen London players, and you’ll be familiar with the typical festivals in the established calendar some thirty or forty years after London fell: the Feast of the Rose in February, Whitsun in June, The Fruits of the Zee festival in August, Hallowmas in October, and your typical Neathy Yule in December (HO. HO. HO.). But the freshly fallen city is still experiencing some cultural confusion, and their diaries are rather unpopulated while they figure out what this new world means for them.

This gave us the opportunity to explore London’s new traditions from their inception. You’ll experience some of these tentative festivals in Mask of the Rose.

We begin Mask of the Rose with the Season of Confessions. This is before Hallowmas has been established; we don’t want to hit the player up-front with more weirdness than what is around them already! We hope that, while veterans from Fallen London and the Sunless games will be more attuned to the mysteries of the world, newcomers won’t be confused or overwhelmed by our more outré details. The player character, and most people they meet, are also relative newcomers to the Neath. This helps us tell the player about the world naturally, as the cast deal with their new reality together.

The Season of Confessions is presented visually and in the narrative as straightforward(ish) Fallen London: there won’t be spooky decorations on people’s mantlepieces as you might expect with Hallowmas. Mask of the Rose’s story will take a turn to the confessional, after David is murdered and the investigation begins.

Then the “snow” begins to fall. It would be unthinkable for the Victorians not to celebrate Christmas of some variety, even if the snow is more suspicious than a piping hot cone of Rubbery Lumps. You’ll notice a few art flourishes in the environments in the Season of Yule – even in a crisis, the odd decoration might appear inside people’s homes and of course, lacre is falling.

In Mask of the Rose, we wanted to zoom in on Fallen London and tell a more intimate tale; and this dictates how we use our time. We’re going close and detailed on a smaller roster of locations and characters, rather than, for example, depicting lots of locations but with lower detail art. With a smaller range of locations, a great way of keeping the game visually fresh throughout is to make fairly simple to execute but impactful visual changes that occur with the passing of time. Small environmental changes give the world of the game a feeling of being alive and lived-in. From a production perspective, it’s “using every part of the animal”, which is a real win when you are trying to use time effectively.

Yule has been part of Fallen London from the very first year of the game.

It’s not the happiest yuletide for some of our characters, but there is still warmth and companionship. This atmosphere is fully realised in The Season of Love. Love is obviously resonant for a romance game. By this time, routine and tradition is becoming established in the Neath, and the player has an opportunity to experience the very first Feast of the Rose, from which the game draws its name. Our cast of characters will of course be enjoying the festivities, so expect their appearance – and their storylines – to reflect that.

As for us, we’re looking to 2022 and what’s next for Mask of the Rose. We are delighted that Mask of the Rose is already starting to find its audience on Steam, with more than 17,000 people wishlisting it so far. There are some exciting developments in the air, including the possibility of taking the game to some events (some of which might even be in-person, Covid-depending! Imagine!).

For your support and faith, we thank you, and we wish you the best possible wintery celebrations.  We’ll see you next year.