Characters and terrors

Who are the characters who appear in the game?

Library Labyrinth will include between 60 and 70 characters. Some will be real historical figures, while others will be fictional characters drawn from well-known books.

None of the characters will be created by us. There will be a level of interpretation (see the section on card information), but we’re not creating anyone new. You’ll be able to look up any of the characters in a real life library and find out more about them!

How diverse is this library?

We will not include any character without someone from the team being able to speak about who that character is and the culture in which they are rooted.

There are a few things we know are vital to this game hitting the right note, and we are committed to making sure the balance is right.

We are all based in the UK or have some strong UK connection, and so there will be more characters who are instantly recognisable to a UK audience. If this imaginary library is anywhere, then it’s in the UK. However (and it’s a really big however) this imaginary library is not just full of dead white authors. It’s a library which contains famous and well-read books from all over the world.

We want players to recognise some characters. We want players to flip over a card and say “wow, I got Alice in Wonderland, that’s great!” But we also want them to ask who Enheduanna was, or Scheherezade. Not all of us will recognise the same characters, which is why we want as wide a range as possible.

We know that not all historical and literary figures are suitable for being turned into characters. That might be because they are religious figures who it would be entirely disrespectful to represent in a game. Or it might be because we simply don’t know enough about the culture from which those books come — and if that’s the case then we either ask someone who does know to join the team, or we don’t include those characters.

It’s important that any fictional characters come from books where the author was writing about what they knew. There are some books which are clearly guilty of cultural appropriation, and we won’t use characters from those books. And we recognise that in some parts of the world, stories have been destroyed by colonization — a concern for libraries everywhere.

The characters will obviously include trans women. We’d also love to hear more suggestions for non-binary historical or fictional people.

Finally, we’ll be careful not to include real people who are still alive, or fictional characters still under copyright.

Take a look at our characters in these three PDFs of the cards. (Characters PDF one, characters PDF two, characters PDF three.) This is in no way a final list, and is likely to change.

This library is as diverse as the team working on it. If you think you have something you can add, please do email us at dissentgames@gmail.com.

What information will be on each card?

Each character will have their own card. One side of the card will be printed like a book, and will be a book category, such as Children’s Fiction, or Legends, or Historical Leaders.

  • an illustration of the character
  • the name of the character
  • either the publication date and name of the book, or the dates the character lived and where in the in world
  • between two and four “skills”, such as Leadership, Speed, Resilience, Logic
  • one or more extra abilities, such as being able to mimic another card

On the other side of the card will be the character. There will be an illustration and her name. If the character’s name is written in an alphabet other than ours, then we’ll include that at the top of the card. There will be dates — either publication date of the book, or the dates when she lived. We will also say where in the world the character comes from. If their name is usually written in a non-Latin script, we will put this as the top of the card. Finally, each character will have three or four special skills, which fall into one of the six different categories, and is illustrated with the symbol and colour of that category.

The illustrations may vary slightly across book categories. Children’s Fiction may be slightly brighter and use more block colours, while real people may be drawn with more elegant lines.

What about the terrors?

Ah, the monsters! As the characters move through the library they will come up against things to be overcome. Some of these will be barriers or obstacles — the Reichenbach Falls, the Forest of Thorns. Then there will be classic named monsters, such as Cerberus and Dracula. There will also be more generic monsters, such as a basilisk and a kraken. Finally, there will be some metaphysical terrors — plague and anxiety. Here are the 24 we are looking at including currently. (PDF of terrors.)

Below we have a triffid, a spider web (complete with spider), the tornado from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a wormhole, and a basilisk.

If you have a suggestion for a terror, please do let us know.

Do you want to contact us about any of this? Please do just drop us a line.

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