The Slow Knife, a revenge conspiracy RPG

Created by Jack Harrison ~ Mousehole Press

Play the villains in a revenge drama and construct the conspiracy that will be their undoing. A card-based story game for 2-4 players.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

June: Digital Release! Printing underway.
7 days ago – Sat, Jun 25, 2022 at 09:47:18 AM

Hey everyone, how's it going? Progress is continuing to go smoothly, so let's get on with the update.


Digital Launch

Yes, you can now download all the game's files!

The game is live on itch.io

As long as you've completed your survey on BackerKit, you should get an email today or tomorrow with your download key. If you've lost your survey invite, you can regain access here.

There's a few things still to be added to the page, including accessible versions of the files (which are due to start imminently) and the soundtrack (which will happen when it happens —Chris is in new baby jail at the moment!). But all the content is there, including some Miro boards for online play.

I'd love to hear how you get on with the game, so please share any feedback or play experiences with me. And if you find any typos, please drop me a message.


Printing

Some more proofs of the playsets. Final covers will be foiled and wire will be gold.

The printing of the game in Italy is almost complete, and here in Hampshire we're ready to go to print with the playsets too. I received the final (ish) proofs yesterday with fancy paper covers, and I'm really happy with them. Next month is all about packing & shipping!


That's it for this month, hope you like the game 😊


J

May: Printing, Preview, Portraits
about 2 months ago – Sat, May 14, 2022 at 07:13:36 AM

Hey folks, hope you're doing well!

Things are going swimmingly here. I'm fairly confident that we can get the digital release out to you all ahead of schedule, hopefully towards the end of next month. I'd like to think the physical stuff will come early too, but we're a bit more dependent on the tricky task of actually making real things and getting them places. Regardless, we're ahead of plan, which is ace.


Print Samples

The boxed game is being produced in Italy with Ludocards, but the playset booklets are being printed at a local printers—about half an hour away from me which is nice and easy. I popped in for a visit over the weekend.

This is their ground floor, where they keep some of the more traditional (fun!) machines. You can see a foiling machine and press on the left, and the litho printer on the right.

We took a look at some samples and talked about paper, and there are a few little extras that I'm hoping we can add to the playset booklets while staying reasonably within budget. I think we'll definitely be able to do foiling on the cover, even though we didn't quite hit that stretch goal in the campaign. These booklets are shaping up to be something really special—and it's not too late to add them to your pledge once I send out surveys!

This is a little collection of print and paper samples. The playset booklets are just a quick mockup, they'll be top-bound and on nicer paper when we're finished :)

Editing

The game itself (cards, rules, etc) is currently with the two game designers who are collaborating with me on the project, Will Jobst and Luke Jordan. Will is focusing on mechanics, structure and understanding, while Luke is doing a pass on my writing to suggest areas to tighten or consolidate. I always love getting feedback from other designers, as I can feel the game improving as they identify weaker areas and points of friction.

I should get feedback from those two in the next week or so. After that everything will go to my long-time editing duo, Fiona & Jarrett Crader, for a pass on spelling/grammar/efficiency of language. The finalised text will then go to Yubi to make the documents accessible, including preparing plain text versions with all illustrations described with alt text.

Then we're ready for the digital release and printing!


Backer Preview

If you'd like to check out the game early, you're welcome to download this backer preview. I'm mostly happy with playtesting at this point (if you volunteered for playtesting, thank you! I was a little inundated, so if I never got back to you I apologise!), but if you check it out and have feedback I'd love to hear it. Just drop me an email (jack at mousehole dot press).


Art Update

Portraits

20 portraits, ready for play!

The portraits are done, and look fantastic as a set. I'm really looking forward to seeing them printed on cards. Rafael is now moving on to the Saint-Lazare illustrations.


Arcadia

Arcadia Prime, interior illustrations, line art

Torben is almost done with the interior illustrations, which are extremely rad and tell a devious little story. I found that full-colour art dominates the page a little too much, so we're going with line art + shading + single colour for these pieces (same for the other books too!). I've almost finished writing the Arcadia playset, which has been very enjoyable. It's been nice not to have to worry so much about navigating a real historical time period (as in Saint-Lazare). And I always love making up silly space names...


Arandil

The Court of Arandil, cover, line art

I've got the line art through from Hortense now, and I'm in love with these fashionable monsters! They're going to be working on the colours this month, so I should have a finished piece to share with you next month.

I'm still toying with a new name for this playbook, just because I keep confusing Count/Court and Arandil/Arcadia! We'll see though, it's lodged pretty firmly in my brain now...


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That's it for this month! Speak soon.


Jack


p.s. these updates focus on news & progress—if you're interested in a more behind-the-scenes look at life & labour at Mousehole Press, you can sign up for my monthly newsletter (as many of you already have!).

April: Cards, Space, Playtesting
3 months ago – Tue, Apr 12, 2022 at 11:24:09 PM

Hey everyone! 

This is the first monthly update for The Slow Knife. I'll do one of these once a month, every month, and keep you updated on how everything is going. If you'd do me the service of not requesting updates outside of this monthly schedule, I'd really appreciate it (though please, always feel free to message me if you have a question!).

We're just getting over our second covid outbreak at Mousehole HQ, same as pretty much everyone in the UK I think (!). It's not much fun, even with vaccines & boosters. Still, we're mostly over the hump at this point, and things are largely returning to normal this week. I hope you're all doing well too, wherever you are.


Card Backs

In much better news, I've had a steady stream of illustrations coming in from the artists over the past month which has been very exciting. It's always one of my favourite parts of doing these projects!

The first thing to come through were the card backs for the four Act decks, the prompts you'll be drawing as you progress through the game.

The four Acts: Ashes, Vines, Snares and Knives (Rafael Nobre)

Rafael did a great job capturing some of the themes of each act, and I think they look wonderful as a set. Can't wait to see them printed on the back of cards!


Portraits

Rafael has also been busy working through the twenty character portraits cards that you'll be able to use with your conspiracy board. We had a fair bit of discussion about the style, and I'm really happy with where they ended up. These are still sketches, but hopefully you can see where we're headed.

Four sketches for the character portraits. I'm pretty excited about these. (Rafael Nobre)

It's impossible to make portraits that are going to work equally well for the French Revolution and the far reaches of space, but my hope is that they're broad enough to not feel too out of place in any setting you come up with.


Arcadia

Speaking of the far reaches of space, I've also got the final version of the Arcadia (sci-fi) playset cover art.

The orbital hedge fund paradise of Arcadia Prime, where you'll find only the finest company! (Torben Bökemeyer)

As always, Torben has absolutely knocked it out the park here with a surprising composition (check out the upside-down shenanigans)  and a tonne of little details to spot. I love it! 

Hortense is also pretty far along on her cover for the fantasy playset, and it's similarly awesome. I look forward to sharing next month :)

Playset Writing

Meanwhile, been writing the other two playsets and the Prelude, the guided process that you'll use if you want to create your own setting from scratch.

a whole bunch of words for worlds

It's been a delicate balance to find between allowing a lot of freedom to create a unique and interesting world, and making sure the world and characters you create will actually work with the rest of the game! I think we're pretty much there though.


Playtesting

Finally, I'm still running lots of playtests. Today I sent off the files for the first few hands-off tests to be run without my steer, so we'll see how the rules hold up. If you've signed up to help out with playtesting (thanks!), I'll be in contact soon to arrange games and send over files.


That's it for this month folks! Speak to you soon :)


J

Funded! Thank you all so much.
3 months ago – Tue, Mar 22, 2022 at 08:30:55 AM

Phew! We made it. 

Thank you so much everyone, your support - as always - means the world to me. 

hello! hooray! goodnight!

Running a Kickstarter is exhausting, I don't know how these 30 day campaigns keep it up—two weeks is plenty for me. My screen time has gone through the roof, so I'm planning some fun analogue activities for the next couple of weeks to get me weaned off my phone again and onto more wholesome pursuits (we've already finished one puzzle!). I might even paint some miniatures 🥳


I'll be in touch in a few weeks about timelines, surveys, that kind of usual bumf, and hopefully also with some of the incredible playset art that the illustrators are already working away on 🎨


Other than that, I'm running weekly online playtests at the moment with a whole bunch of folks. It's been an absolute blast! If you'd like to get involved in playtesting, let me know using this form. I'm particularly interested now in people who are keen to run the game 'hands off'—that is, without my guidance and facilitation. We'll need a few of those to make sure the game's rules text is clear and effective. But I've got plenty that needs testing, so if you want to hang out with me and play my game that's very cool too!


Alright, time to go not look at a computer screen. See you all soon!

Final Stretch, Final Stretch Goal (?)
3 months ago – Tue, Mar 22, 2022 at 08:30:46 AM

Hey there everyone, we're in the last 24 hours of the campaign now and I'm happy to say we've hit our playset-writing stretch goal. I'll be producing some rad resources for folks to write their own playsets for The Slow Knife, and I'm pretty sure I'll also host a game jam after it's released.

get yer keyboards ready!

Stretch Goal #4: Playset Print Upgrade (£40,000)

I've got one last stretch goal that I'm hopeful we can hit before the end of the campaign. This one's another bigger one, because it involves quite a big print spec upgrade (which incurs significant fixed and per-unit costs). But, if we can hit £40,000 in this last day, I'll upgrade the covers of all three printed playsets to use swish, luxe coloured paper and feature a hot-foiled title.

I'm already doing my paper research...

I'm particularly keen to see this one realised, as I think it'll tie together the three playsets to feel like a cohesive whole—even though each features a different illustrator and fonts within. The idea is that the full-page art being done by each illustrator will then be the first page of the booklet as you open it up. I think it's gonna look great, so please if there's anything you can do to give us a boost in these last 24 hours please do :)


The Plan, in brief

a cunning plan

While I've tried to be conservative with my delivery estimates for this project, I'm hoping I can get this project delivered ahead of schedule. I'm pretty happy with the game as it is today, but there are still a lot of steps before printing and delivery. I thought I'd briefly share my plan with you today, so you can see how many people will touch the game before it arrives at your door (or inbox!):

  •  I've got a few more playtests planned over the next two weeks that I'll be running with around a dozen different people in total. These are facilitated by me to some extent, or I might be a player in some.
  •  I've also got some hands-off playtests lined up for early April, so I can test the games rules explanation when I'm not there to answer questions.
  •  Meanwhile, I'm coordinating art with the three illustrators on the project.
  •  I also need to finish writing the playsets.
  • After playtesting changes have been implemented, the cards will go to Luke for a critical writing pass. Luke has done this for my last two games, trawling through every bit of writing I've done to identify room for improvement and weak spots. It always leaves the game sharper and more consistent.
  • Then, the whole game will go over to Will for more of a holistic edit & review. The aim of this is to sense check the way the game is explained, identify any gaps where people might get stuck, and offer mechanical feedback across the whole experience.
  • Then the game will go to Fiona and Jarrett for a line edit: spelling, grammar, efficiency, that kinda thing. I'll also probably do a public typo hunt with you all too!
  • Then we're doing accessibility testing on the physical product, hopefully with a physical proof.
  • It can then go to print!
  •  ...but for the digital versions, Yubi will be helping to make accessible/plain text versions of all files before we release the digital edition.

So there we are! My editing process has gotten considerably more involved since Artefact, but it's clear to me that every step increases the value of the final game. It's really satisfying feeling the 'blade' of the game (knife? haha) getting sharper with each pass. Just, don't cut your fingers okay?


Speak soon! J