Sketching out the characters

In which we share the latest sketches and ask whether Harriet Tubman should be shown carrying a gun. Opinions very welcome.

Good evening everyone. Well, the Kickstarter made £33k in the end, which was absolutely FANTASTIC! As always, I’m Jess, and I’m your narrator.

What’s happened recently?

We all took a few days to let go of some of the relentless stress of the Kickstarter. This was my third Kickstarter (although two of them were very small) and it never ceases to amaze me just how much energy is sucked into the process…

April has also been a busy month. For me it’s busy because of the two weeks of school holidays (that’s two weeks of reduced childcare) and because my day job is in politics. The last month has seen several pieces of hugely controversial legislation go before Parliament. As I’m working directly on the Policing Bill and the Elections Bill for/with various charities and NGOs, there have been some very, very late nights. But enough about UK political process – back to games!

Yes, back to the sketches!

Sam has sketched out most of the characters now. Here’s a combination of all of the unfinished ones.

I wanted to draw out three to show you. Left to right below: the Queen of Sheba, Harriet Tubman, Ceridwen.

The Queen of Sheba appears in “Legends”. She’s referenced in multiple historic and religious texts, but no one is sure what she looked like. So in Library Labyrinth she’ll be drawn as a clearly African Queen, with rich robes.

Harriet Tubman will be drawn as a woman of action, in the prime of life. Many portraits have her as an elderly woman, and one of the cultural consultants we spoke to said that showing her as a younger woman was important. However, we have an important question — should she carry a gun? As a Brit, showing a gun feels strange, but of course Harriet Tubman was American… If you have opinions on this, we would love to hear them.

Ceridwen is a mythical sorceress from Welsh folk legends. I love this image of her stirring the cauldron. It’s so alive with expression.

What’s next?

We have also been comparing quotes from manufacturers and hope to choose one in the next week or so. And we have been preparing for UK Games Expo, which is the UK’s biggest board games convention. It’s one of the highlights of the board gaming year.

Next month we will get on with the pledge manager, organise workshops, and start the final art for the characters.

If you wanted to share some of the fabulous stuff happening on Library Labyrinth, these are the important links:

Workshops

In which we think a little about the workshops, and ask our Asian and Australian followers for suggestions on terrors…

Good morning everyone, and welcome back to another post! Our Kickstarter runs until next Thursday, and so far we have raised £27k. We have more than 850 backers, and frankly I’m a little bit tingly inside that so many people have trusted us to make them a game! As always, I’m Jess, and I’m your narrator.

Workshops

One of the things we are doing is running workshops. Click here for a list of all the workshops we will be offering. Some are for adults, such as the talk about the characters in Library Labyrinth or the exercise on our own strengths and fears. Others are for classes of children, including one where the children need to run around the room matching the cards they have in their hands with the monsters on the board — and, of course, they need to pair up with others to match all of the symbols.

We are offering these free to all state schools, public libraries, and community centres in the UK, and for a small donation to private schools and commercial venues. If you’re a board game cafe, for example, the donation may be a free meal in the cafe rather than a cash donation. If you want to sign up your school, or suggest a place to visit, please fill out the form at the top of the list of workshops page.

Terrors! Do we have some more terrors?

Oh yes, we have more terrors. Here are some absolutely brilliant drawings from Sam.

The horse’s skull is the Mari Lwyd (a tradition from Wales which is pretty spooky), and then to the right is plague and Cerberus (the dog who guards the underworld). On the bottom row, left to right: Fenrir the Wolf, the Big Bad Wolf, anxiety, and Grendal’s Mother. There are more terrible things to come…

When we’ve been looking at these, we have noticed one thing in particular — no Asian or Australian terrors. It would be great to change this. Does anyone have any suggestions? Please contact us, or say something on Twitter, or write in the comments!

What’s next?

We have three days until the end of the Kickstarter! It ends at 10pm UK time on 31 March. Anything you can do to help get the word out would be fabulous, and very very much appreciated. Here are the important links:

Solo mode for Library Labyrinth

In which we talk about the solo mode, especially the trolley-dash-monster-smash combination move. And AireCon, and two more pictures!

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the library! With 12 days left on the Kickstarter, we are now 160% funded. That’s just over £22k, and we are hoping it might reach as high as £30k by the end of March. As always, I’m Jess, part of the team, and your narrator.

AireCon

Mill and I spent last weekend at AireCon, which is a convention in Yorkshire. Mill picked me up and we drove there — a good four hours plus from my place, and much further from Mill’s. But it was definitely worth it.

AireCon is a very friendly, informal convention. There is a lot of space given over to open gaming tables and big games such as Werewolf. We had a demo table for the weekend and were showing Library Labyrinth all weekend. By the end, my throat was very sore…and then after the weekend both Mill and I discovered that we had picked up covid. We’re fine, and both had spent the weekend wearing masks, but it is rather frustrating. Anyway, here are some photos of us at AireCon.

Mill also met Rodney of Watch It Played, and almost won an interactive game of Yogi involving betting on players (pure, amazing chaos!). We’ll be back next year!

What’s this about a dash smash something move?

Ah ha, the Trolley Dash Monster Smash move! Or terror smash. Naming is not quite fixed yet.

I’ve been playing the solo mode on Library Labyrinth in the last couple of days. In this version, you have a semi-sentient trolley companion. It’s a little library trolley which helps you in the library by keeping some of your books for you, or by checking out dark corners for hidden terrors. Mechanically it’s a) an additional hand of cards which you can go and get when you need, and b) a way to flip over floor tiles in two different sections of the board.

One of the things I’ve been testing is the idea that you and you trolley could combine skills. Every now and again you come across a sititution where you want to defeat a terror, but one of the cards you need is on the trolley. You could pick up an additional card, but that’s an extra move, plus you might not have space in your hand. You could move to the trolley, swap some of the cards around, and then go capture the terror, but that’s two extra moves. What if you could pick up your trolley as you moved, and then defeat the terror together?

Imagine it happening like this. You see the Big Bad Wolf on the far side of the library. You have Gordafarid in your hand — a Persian champion who delays an invading army long enough to change the outcome. On your trolley you can see Lorna Doone, the resilient heiress brought up by a band of thieves. If you combine Gordafarid’s strength with Lorna’s fairness and resourcefulness, you can capture the Big Bad Wolf. So you spring into action — rushing round a corner you leap on the trolley, pushing it round to the left, opening both books as you do so, whizzing along the corridor, smashing into the startled wolf and ta da! One monster captured.

It’s definitely being included in the solo rules. And maybe, just maybe, we might find a way to add the trolley into a two player variant.

Would you like to see the move in action? Of course you would!

You may have noticed that in that picture the grid doesn’t have all the tiles. There are no corners! I’ve found that for the solo game it works better if the grid is 21 rather than 25 tiles. You find everything more easily, and spend less time hunting for things.

What else is new?

In the last newsletter, the Kraken was not quite coloured in. It’s now complete, and we have it and the Pit & the Pendulum below. What do you think?

What’s next?

As we are in the middle of the mid-campaign slump (and still not 100%, what with covid), then anything you can do to help get the word out would be fabulous, and very very much appreciated. Here are the important links:

International Women’s Day

In which we talk about how it feels to be one week in to the Library Labyrinth kickstarter, and run through the women on the front of our box.

Good afternoon everyone! Well, we have been live on Kickstarter for a week, and are now 124% funded. (Hurrah!) As always, I’m Jess, part of the team, and your narrator.

Tell us about the Kickstarter!

We funded on Friday, which was fantastic. We are now just below £18,000 and have 23 days left to go — which means we may even get to 200%! Fingers crossed…

Our next stretch goal is at £18k, and it’s for some trickier curse cards. These will be cards to shuffle in to the disturbance deck which turn over TWO floor tiles instead of one. It makes it harder, as well as adding another slightly more random element into the game. Some of our playtesters wanted to have this more punishing option, so it’s (hopefully going to be) in the game!

We also have a couple more terrors to share, as well as a draft — here is Dracula, the Jabberwocky, and most of a Kraken. (Colour on the Kraken to follow.) I reckon the Jabberwocky and Dracula would get along, as they share the same toothy grimace.

So, how does it feel? Well, it feels a bit strange still. Running a Kickstarter takes a lot of energy. It’s a constant high-alert, always watching out for the next backers, checking where the funding has got to… While Mill, Ella, Sam and I are all enjoying the campaign, it will feel good to get to the end of March and be able to relax a little more.

Tell us something more…

Hmmmm. Would you like to know about the women on the front of the box?

On the left, towards the top of the picture, is Little Red Riding Hood. In the classic children’s folk story Red runs up against the Big Bad Wolf. In this game her skills include navigation and being a good shot.

At the bottom of the picture, on the far left, Cheng Yat Sao, aka Ching Shih. An amazingly successful pirate commander, she led a fleet of 400 ships (up to 60,000 pirates!) at the the height of her power in 1805. 

Next to her is Mary Seacole. She was a British-Jamaican nurse and businesswoman who set up the “British Hotel” behind the front lines in the Crimean War. Much of the current profession of nursing was set up by her. 

In the centre is Athena, the Greek goddess of war, wisdom, and the arts. She’s a good all-round character in Library Labyrinth, with a good spread of skills to capture those literary terrors and put them back in their books.

One to the right, holding the mirror, is Jo March. She’s one of the four sisters in Little Women, which has been popular ever since publication in 1868. Jo is hotheaded, passionate, and an excellent writer. 

Next to her is Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. One of the best-known children’s characters, she brings curiosity, kindness, and a tiny bit of magic…

To the far right on the bottom row is the Chevalier d’Eon. A French diplomat and spy, she lived the first half of her life as a man, and the second half as a woman. She died in 1810 after a life of intrigue. 

Towards the top right corner is Hypatia of Alexandria. A mathematician and philosopher, she was renowned during her lifetime as a great teacher. She was murdered in 415 after accusations of political interference. 

What’s coming up?

Mill and I will be at AireCon this coming weekend! It’s in Harrogate in Yorkshire (about half way up the UK, broadly in the middle) and we are hugely looking forward to it. We’ll report back from AireCon next week.

Exciting links

Anything you can do to help get the word out would be fabulous, and very very much appreciated. Here are the important links:

We are LIVE!

In which we share the news that we are live!

Good morning everyone! We are LIVE on Kickstarter this morning! As always, I’m Jess, part of the team, and your narrator!

Please share the news

Well, I have been feeling very nervous. I’m still very nervous, to be honest. The Kickstarter is live now, and seems to be going well…. can I get an “argh”, followed by a “wooohooo”, and then another “argh”?

If you’re able to to, please share this Twitter post or this FB post. Or any other social media! It would be a great help to us.

The game itself is looking absolutely gorgeous. I had a couple of nights away last week, and took these photos in the sunshine.

And we’ve had some brilliant comments on the game! Here are some of the quotes which are on the Kickstarter page.

So, we need to raise £14,200 in the next month. Fingers crossed…. I hope we do it.

What now?

Anything you can do to help get the word out would be fabulous, and very very much appreciated. Here are the important links:

Melodramatic videos and super speedy playthroughs

In which we get slightly silly with videos, sped up a playthrough, and share a couple of reviews.

Hello again, and welcome to the hype! Oh yes, Library Labyrinth is almost upon us. As always, I’m Jess, part of the team, and your narrator!

Just what HAVE we been doing??

I’m glad you asked. Mill has been on a cruise and I’ve booked myself into a retreat for a couple of days. Joking aside, we have been hard at work making over the top dramatic videos. What do you think?

And here is a super fast playthrough. We recorded a two player game, and then sped it up so that 30 minutes became two minutes.

The first few reviews are out. Here is Board’s Eye View.

And here is Boxed Meeples with five reasons to back it!

Next steps

As mentioned last week, we are rather nervous. Anything you can do to help get the word out would be fabulous. I reckon a good tweet to retweet is this one, and a good Facebook post to share is this one. Otherwise, here are the important links:

Only two weeks to go…

In which we share our set up photo, consider what the soul of a game is, and ask for a big push on 1 March..

Morning everyone, and thanks for checking out another of our newsletters. March is just round the corner (indeed, our hedge is budding and the bulbs are coming up) and every day brings more stuff to do. (It really does.) As always, I’m Jess, part of the team, and your narrator!

What’s the timeline?

We’re going live on Kickstarter at 10am on 1 March. It’s going to be live for the entire month of March, so until 10pm on 31 March. (These are all UK times, by the way.)

We have various reviews and playthroughs going live just before the Kickstarter. Most of them are this coming weekend — so look out for a flurry of excitement! A whirlwind of excitement!

What can you do to help?

As mentioned before, we are feeling kind of nervous. We’re four women with day jobs in other industries. It’s a big thing, making a game, and a bigger one to promote it! (This is why people pitch their games to publishers, rather than self-publishing.)

Anything you can do to help get the word out would be fabulous. I reckon a good tweet to retweet is this one, and a good Facebook post to share is this one. Otherwise, here are the important links:

Showing our hand

We’ve also been tiding up the Kickstarter page. This mainly means setting up the images, and one I particularly wanted to share was the ”what’s in the box” image. It isn’t perfect yet… Anyway, after much discussion on whether the components should be laid out in a list or heaped together artistically, finally we landed on showing the set up and the components list all in one. There’s even an example of a captured terror at the top. What do you think?

  • A: 60 character cards in 6 book categories
  • B: 30 floor tiles showing terrors, shelves, rewards, and blanks
  • C: 24 terrors
  • D: 6 shelves
  • E: 28 disturbance cards
  • F: 15 reward cards
  • G: 5 player meeples
  • H: 1 curse marker
  • Not pictured: player aid cards, rules booklet, character and terror background booklet, box

There will also be more zoomable artwork on the Kickstarter page — this is for the list of components/set up. Does it work or not?

A bright idea…

I also want to share a really good idea which we had on the slack group earlier. Well, I say “we”, but actually I mean Ella and Mill. In the game we’re going to have player aid cards to help remind people of the possible actions. Although we don’t have variable player powers in the way that, say, Pandemic does, we do have different coloured meeples. So why not make the player aid cards different colours?

What else have we been been up to?

I spent two mornings this week having a chat with Bez. We mainly talked about the soul of a game — what it was, how you found it, how you talked about it. Here’s the first video! The second video continued the conversation, and should be up soon.

Next steps

Please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! We launch at the start of March 2022.

Play Library Labyrinth on Screentop

In which we (well, more accurately, I) talk about being anxious, and ask you to check out (and share!) the game on Screentop.

Hello! Time is ruthlessly ticking away, and the time to prepare before we go live on Kickstarter is getting ever shorter. And to cap it all, I am living in a house of chicken pox. As always, I’m Jess, part of the team, and your narrator!

Pre-launch nerves…

Before we get into the update proper, I’d like to share some of my anxiety. We’re planning on going live on 1 March. We’re bringing it forward from the previously planned 8 March, for the simple reason that 2 March is Read Across America Day (in the US) and 3 March is World Book Day (here in the UK) and we’d like to use those days as hooks to promote the Kickstarter. That means that we only have three weeks until we launch!

I’m feeling a lot of butterflies in my stomach. I think we have a great game, and some gorgeous artwork….but do enough people know about the game? I’m not convinced they do! I know that that’s partly because we simply haven’t had the time to put into spreading the word. We all have jobs in non-boardgame related fields. Anything you can do to help would be very much appreciated — whether that is sharing the Kickstarter page on social media or inviting your friends for a game on Screentop. Which leads me neatly on to…

Screentop? What’s that?

It’s a way to play games in a browser window. (Alas, it doesn’t work on a touch screen.) You don’t need to download anything, or to pay for Steam or Tabletop Simulator. You could play Library Labyrinth any time you wish!

To open Screentop, click here. In case you haven’t used similar platforms before, here’s a picture of how it looks once you get into the game.

Before you are able to pick up pieces or move anything around, you’ll need to “join” the game. “Join” is in the top left corner of the screen. 

You’ll probably also want to zoom out a bit. That’s in the bottom right of the screen. 

All of the rules are in the question mark. I mean, if you click on the “?” in the top right corner of the screen, then you’ll get a set of guides. These guides are:

  • Set up
  • Quick rules (ie, what would be on a player aid card)
  • Full rules & clarifications
  • Solo rules
  • Controls (ie, how to use Screentop)

The rules are all in these guides. There’s also a link to the PDF document of the rules, in case you prefer that.

Please do share with others! And please do tell us what you think. We have a playtest form for you to fill out, or feel free to email us.

What else have we been been up to?

While I have been perfecting the solo mode, Ella has been animating cards for the Kickstarter video, Sam has been drawing more characters, and Mill has been recording a play through video.

Mill has also been to the Guildhall Games Festival in Portsmouth, where she demonstrated with a real prototype! (Having nice tiles is still a bit new for us.) The first playtest of the prototypes came at a Worthing board game group — and here they are enjoying it!

I’m going to be on Bez’s twitch stream on Tuesday 15 February. It’s 10am in the morning, and I’ll be talking about Library Labyrinth among other things. Do join me for that!

We have a few reviews going out in the next couple of weeks, which is all really exciting. These updates are going to get a little more frequent for the next month or so, as Library Labyrinth completely takes over our lives! Will the Kickstarter be successful? We really, really hope so.

Next steps

Please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! We launch at the start of March 2022.

Prototypes arrive!

In which we share pictures of the exciting new prototypes and tell you to watch out for short stories, events, and Screentop….

Hello everyone! Can you believe it’s STILL January? This truly is the longest month. As always, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator for these updates.

Stop faffing about and show us the prototypes!

Yes, well, good point. Without any further faff from me, here is the box arriving, and the first glimpse!

And a few more once we’d got them out and had a good look.

Here’s one all set up and waiting.

A couple more close ups of cards.

And the game in action!

Anyway, we’re pleased as punch about it. (I’m now hoping that means the drink, rather than the puppets.) It is a prototype rather than a finished version, and so there are half a dozen things with the artwork we’ll probably change. We may make the dark side of the floor tiles darker, and we may make the title on the box bigger — and those are just two examples of possible changes! We also don’t have much of the character artwork complete, and only a handful of the literary terrors. And there’s going to be a booklet about the characters and terrors, and that’s not even started yet…

So, what now for Team Library Labyrinth?

Yesterday the prototypes were all sent out again! (Yes, the amount of time they stayed in my front room was very short. I went to the post office three times yesterday.) Some have gone to reviewers, some out to be travelling prototypes for playtesters.

Mill will be creating a ”How to Play” video over the next few days. We’ll then video a play through. Both those videos will go up on the Kickstarter page.

There is quite a lot of tidying up to be done on the Kickstarter page — all the words are there, but not the images, not the headings, not the diagrams. That feels like quite a big job!

I am also putting Library Labyrinth on Screentop. This is a free way to play games in your browser. So far I have all the components up, but not the rules, or any layout suggestions on the table. Fingers crossed, these last bits may even be done tomorrow. Once it’s done I’ll edit this post with a link, as well as sharing on social media.

Next week is also ”Tell a Story” week, so we will be posting short stories about some of the possible encounters. The first one features some small pigs, so stay tuned (as they probably no longer say) for that!

Upcoming events

Mill is going to be at the Guildhall Games Festival in Portsmouth on 29 January. Both Mill and I will be at AireCon in mid March — by which time the Kickstarter will be live!

Next steps

Please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! We launch at the start of March 2022.

The final playtests (come and join in!)

In which we ask you if you would like one of our travelling prototypes, and get (only slightly) anxious about prototype delivery timescales.

Hello everyone! It’s a dark, wet January and all the Christmas decorations have come down. As always, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator. A special hello to all our new readers who have recently joined!

Could you host a travelling prototype?

We’d like to send out some of our prototypes to our readers, for you to playtest yourself at home. (This is also an excellent way to see whether the rules are clear…) The idea is this: you receive a copy of the game in the post, play it with your friends and family, and one or two weeks later pack it up in the original box, print out the PDF postage label we email you, and take it to the post office.

You won’t need to pay for postage; we’ll sort all of that. However, you will need to have access to a printer, and to be able to commit to dropping off the parcel at a post office. (Or one of the snazzy “parcel post boxes”.)

While we are imagining this primarily as a UK thing, it should be possible to send one copy to the USA, one to the EU and one to Australia. The issue would be timescales, because if it takes a month to get to the USA then there would be less time for the game to go travelling. It might also get caught in customs, which could potentially be a complete nightmare. BUT we’ll be willing to try if there are people who want to test it out!

If you would like to do this, then here is a form to sign up for a travelling prototype. There are some important data protection questions in there.

Where are the prototypes right now?

The short answer is that they are not yet with me. The longer answer is that I should have them very soon… Apparently there was still some of the printing to be done yesterday, but hopefully once that is complete then they can be put together and sent to me. Cross your fingers please, everyone!

Upcoming events

Mill is going to be at the Guildhall Games Festival in Portsmouth on 29 January. Both Mill and I will be at AireCon in mid March — by which time the Kickstarter will be live!

Next steps

Please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! Launch date is 8 March 2022.