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This is the third post in the Sub Rosa retrospective. You can see the previous two posts here and here. Despite the fact that none of this content is in the game, the following section still has a few mild spoilers.

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Originally the puzzle-chains were a lot more convoluted. A lot of the unimplemented puzzles still left their mark in the game world.

  • Levering the Confessor originally required a fulcrum. This is in fact hinted at in the book Moving Celestial Bodies (a pun on the holy nature of the Confessor) where some monks lever a curse-stone monument using a pygmy elephant as the fulcrum. The animal-based fulcrum was a hint because originally there was going to be a two headed pygmy giraffe in the menagerie which you were to petrify with a berry from the greenhouse. You’d know about the petrification effect from a library book. So you’d petrify the animal, and then push it up a floor. This is also why it’s a slope up to the top floor rather than stairs.

  • After using the petrified two-headed giraffe as a fulcrum you’d have to return it to its original state. It was too bulky to fit into the refresher as-is, so you’d have to smash it (with a huge lead rose-shaped mallet that was going to be in an insignia above the greenhouse roof) and then fit the petrified giraffe bits into the refresher.

  • Well, I didn’t do that because I realised I was making up more and more ridiculous things to make the concept work. How would the refreshed giraffe fit in the refresher (maybe it changed size at will)? Why would the player ever think to use the giraffe as a fulcrum anyway (maybe some heavy hinting)? It was good fun, but it was both a bit too silly and a bit too cruel.

  • Originally, you had to throw the curtain over the quailer’s cage to stop it waking up the guard. Basically, you couldn’t open the door to the menagerie without the quailer making a big sound. The solution would have been to use the rug in the bedroom and drop down onto the hay (which you can still do). This was actually an OK puzzle but the part I didn’t like was it was a bit too close to learn-by-dying: the player would only know the quailer was there and making a sound if they opened the door, by which time it would be too late. I could have had the door slightly open and then quickly shut the first time, or had the protagonist’s excellent sense of smell warn them. The real trouble is, the curtain would then be stuck on the quailer and so a way back up through the ceiling would have to be devised to remove it.

  • The original solution to getting the button out of the floorboard was that there was going to be a hugely powerful magnet in the kitchen. This magnet was going to have a series of knives on it that the player would have to put back in the right order at the end of the game. You weren’t allowed to go past the guard while carrying the magnet, as it would attract to the guard’s suit. So the solution was to set the rug up on the greenhouse roof and then climb up the tree with the magnet.

  • That was scrapped because the idea of a magnet that was powerful enough to fling out of your hand and hit a suit of armour was inconsistent with a magnet that could be safely sat in a kitchen. We could have written some excuse but it was all a bit too contrived. Besides, once we’d implemented the vax for the ashes puzzle, we’d given ourselves a much more sensible solution for the button problem.

  • There was at one stage a spherical cow in the vacuum sub-plane of the vax, but that was changed to dust (as we didn’t want the player to be able to use the vax on other medium sized objects).

  • For the longest time, when the skull was restored it was going to be the Confessor’s own head! The reason being, that the Confessor was secretly going to be a djinn impostor. This is hinted at in the book Habits of the Djinn. Originally, the secret bottle was going to contain water as the djinn in the setting require regular hydration. Confidante Destine was, in this continuity, an outlaw cousin mentioned in Wanted For Crimes Known and the letter in the fireplace was a forbidden communication with the Confidante. In the end, I thought that the Confessor being an impostor would trump the other secrets in severity and the idea of ritually uncanonising someone to remove them from existence was too good not to use. The original contents of the letter are retained in the book Thine Methful Gromer and, indeed, the remains of the ‘mas’ of the letter (a mace) can be referred to in the detritus in the dungeon where the Confidante’s remains are found.

  • I also initially envisioned breaking a tile from the roof, or a pane from the greenhouse, and having to fix it with the refresher. With the greenhouse implemented as a perfectly smooth dome (mostly for anti-climbing/breaking in reasons) this idea was thrown out. The rock in the rockery was implemented originally for breaking the glass. I liked the curse-stone so we kept it in after that solution was scrapped and used it for throwing at the attuning set instead (which was one of the last puzzles devised).

  • There was going to be a device, left back on the Mambling Plain, which you could stick eyeballs in to retrieve memories. This was how the secrets were to be proven and recorded. Then, you’d open up a second ending by putting in the eyeballs of the severed head rather than your own. This basic idea was retained for one of the many endings.

[Tomorrow, the penultimate post will deal with the nature of the unusual setting.]

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