FAQ: Escape the Dark Castle
For the most up-to-date information about the status of our project, check our project updates on Kickstarter!

What if I don't want the original soundtrack on cassette?

Even though the cassette is super cool and retro-awesome, remember that it's just an optional add-on. If the stretch is met, the original soundtrack will be made available to ALL backers, for free, as a digital download when the game ships. The cassette is optional, so don't worry if that isn't your thing.

Last updated: June 07, 2017 06:13

How much replay value does the game have?

The short answer is…loads!

This was something we wanted to build into the game right from the early days of design, and we are confident there is a ton of replay value here, especially for this low price. We will try to resist letting this turn into a designer’s ramble (no-one wants to read that!) but it’s a common misconception that this game quickly gets stale, so we’ll try to shed some light on it here.

It is simply not the case that the game becomes boring once you have seen all the chapters. It’s not that type of game. This might be the case if the adventures were linear or scripted, but not so with Escape the Dark.

Let’s imagine the game only shipped with 15 chapters – that’s one castle-worth. The first time you play, there is of course some discovery of what those 15 chapters are and how they work. And yes, the next time you play there would be no more discovery. However, since the castle deck is created by shuffling all the chapter cards together before each game, you still would not know which chapter is coming next each turn. The fact you know what COULD be coming next DOES NOT lessen the suspense. In fact, knowing what the next chapter could potentially be can heighten the tension – for instance, when a card you instantly recognise comes out at just the wrong time for your group. There are some cards, like the Torturer, which are particularly recognisable and nasty, and the reaction of the player who reveals it gets increasingly priceless the more you play. It never fails to entertain.

Now imagine you added a 16th card to that mix. The question becomes, will that card come up in your deck of 15 this game or not? Maybe it’s a chapter that gives the group a chance to gain items. You’ll be rooting for it to come out, and whether or not it actually does can really change the adventure. Now fast forward to the 45 chapter cards we are including in the game. It suddenly seems like a LOT, and even if you’ve seen them all, the mystery of which 15 you will get, and in what order, remains. It’s a highly replayable proposition and in fact there are (to get mathematical for a moment) literally trillions of possible 15-card castle combinations you might draw from a pool of 45, where at least 1 chapter is different – and that one card can make a big difference.

The truth is, even if we included 100 cards in the game and charged you double the price, you’d see them all sooner or later. So, for those of you that don’t plan on buying all the expansions down the line, we’ve made sure this isn’t a barrier to enjoying this base game over and over again.

The element of discovery, of seeing totally new cards for the first time is of course very cool, and it’s certainly part of the thrill, and we’ll keep that going with fun expansions, but it’s not the main interest or mechanic of our game. It’s more about which chapter comes next, and how that card (even if you’ve seen it 100 times before) will behave in the particular set of circumstances at that unique moment of YOUR game. That is where the real replay value comes from – it’s not purely about getting your first glimpse of new cards.

We’d never claim the replay value is endless, but it’s a lot more than it might appear at first glance. This is naturally most apparent when you actually play it, and those who’ve had demos or playtested with us tend to agree. But for those of you who haven’t had the chance to try it yet, we hope this gives some insight.

Thanks for backing!

Last updated: June 07, 2017 06:07

Will the game be available in any languages other than English?

This Kickstarter is for the English language edition only.

We would love to produce the game in other languages, but these would need to be entirely different editions because there is so much text on the cards – it’s not just the rulebook to translate.

For now, our focus is on launching the English edition. After that, we’ll see if there is enough demand to warrant a full production in any other languages. Fingers crossed!

Last updated: June 10, 2017 08:43

Why is pencil and paper used to track health?

Player experience is our top priority at Themeborne.

With Escape the Dark Castle, we’ve painstakingly crafted a game designed to evoke the feeling of our favourite fantasy classics from the 80s and early 90s. The pencil and paper method goes a long way towards delivering that. Like so many aspects of this game, it’s first and foremost a design decision. It may seem subtle, but trust us, it works in perfect harmony with the other components to generate just the right mood.

On a practical level, if you’re worried about the scorepads running out or being wasteful, fear not. We’ll make the scorepad design available to print at home (for free) and you can always recycle your used pads when they’re finished with.

Still not convinced? Remember you are of course free to use your own dice, tokens, dials, smartphones or any other method for tracking health. It’s your call. But to really get into the spirit of the game, we suggest you give the pencil and paper method a try - it might just win you over!

Besides, pencil and paper leaves open the door for tracking more than just health in future adventures…

Last updated: June 13, 2017 08:10

Can I sleeve this game?

Yes and No.

Part of our vision for Escape the Dark Castle from the outset was to make our signature chapter cards unusually large - A6 size to be precise (a standard size here in Europe). We feel this gives our amazing artwork more impact, our descriptive text the space it deserves, and generally heightens the effect of each chapter card as it’s turned in-game. This improves the atmosphere, immersion, and other subtle aspects of player experience which we, as designers, obsess over.

Unfortunately, as far as we know, there is not currently a gaming sleeve produced in this size. However, if sleeving is an absolute must for you, there are some options out there. Our comments section has been rife with activity as avid sleevers have shared ideas and hunted for the best solution. We want to thank everyone who pitched in as part of that search.

While Themeborne has not tested them, these sleeves appear to serve purpose:


(we’ll add other options to this FAQ as they turn up, so please message us directly if you find anything else that we should post here)

As a footnote, we’ve been hanging around in the games industry more than a decade. One thing we’ve seen is that sleeve-makers follow what game-makers are doing (not the other way around). Ours is not the only popular game using A6 cards, and it’s likely more games will follow suit. As this size becomes increasingly mainstream, we feel that sleeve-makers will eventually catch up and provide a better-quality accessory. That is the way all current sleeve sizes came into existence by the way, through sleeve-makers following market demand. Surely its only a matter of time…

So, don’t miss out on getting Escape the Dark Castle at the Kickstarter price purely for lack of sleeving options. A good compromise might be to get the game now while its cheap, and then use the sleeves above (or another homebrew solution) to protect your cards until a better option appears on the market.

Last updated: June 20, 2017 09:02

Why not make reversible character cards, with male versions on one side and female versions on the other?

It is really important to us that Escape the Dark Castle remains as inclusive and neutral as possible when it comes to race and gender.

You'll notice in the core set we have an equal number of male and female characters, and several racial groups represented. Nothing is over-sexualised or negatively stereotyped and all characters are equally useful in the game.

We take these issues very seriously and we want to be part of helping the games industry move forward, as part of wider society making progress against discrimination.

Making male/female options for each character is not something we plan to do. Doing so could be seen as suggesting that someone might not want, for example, to play a female character despite that character being of equal ability to it's male variant. We feel there should be no issue for anyone to play any character, regardless of race or gender, and regardless of whether or not it matches their own. As such, we don't really see the need to include those options.

We know those of you who suggested this are coming from a good place - you're simply pointing out that it can be fun to play a character that resembles yourself, especially in a game with roleplaying elements, and in fact it is something we've seen done in other games over the years. This is not an attack on that suggestion, but it did prompt us to want to make it known that, as it happens, our own personal reason for not doing this in Escape the Dark Castle is actually tied to something ethical - rather than being purely a design decision.

As you may have noticed, Themeborne comes at game design from a slightly different angle to the established norm. Everything about this game has been deeply considered. We hope this will pay off, that our efforts will win you over in the end, and that you'll still be enjoying Escape the Dark Castle in years to come.

Thanks for backing us!

Last updated: July 06, 2017 10:50

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