More Information About the Game

As this is such a disruptive product, this section compiles the main questions that have arisen regarding the innovations introduced in "In the Ashes". More will be added as they come in through social media and email.

 How is replayability handled if the book is already drawn in after finishing? How do you play a second campaign?

The campaign lasts about 12-15 hours, and when you finish it, you can play it again for another 12-15 hours by meeting these two conditions:

  1. When presented with multiple choices (Do you infiltrate through the sewers or the roof? etc.), you must choose the option you did not select in your first campaign. This will lead you to a completely clean page for your second campaign.
  2. When you specialize in your abilities (Blood Druid or Conjurer? Assassin or Strategist? etc.), you must choose one that you have not selected before. This will lead you to a clean combat scenario with nothing already marked.

However, if you want to repeat exactly the same decisions and same specializations, epic classes, etc., the game is not designed for that.

Is it uncomfortable to play having to keep the book open to resolve scenes? 

Numerous ergonomic, comfort, and usability tests have been conducted. With all the information gathered, the optimal size of the book, number of pages, font size, margins, and other parameters have been determined. All testers have highlighted how comfortable "In the Ashes" is to play, whether with the book on the table, seated, or even lying down.

The game was designed to be comfortably playable not just sitting rigidly with the book open on a table, but also to hold it like reading a novel: with the book in one hand and a pencil in the other. Of course, you can support the book on the table and play it like any other board game.

Do you have to erase anything? Do you use an eraser? 

There's absolutely no need to erase anything. No eraser needed. In fact, some testers play with a pen, leaving a beautiful battlefield filled with blue ink death and destruction. "In the Ashes" is designed from the ground up so there's no need to erase anything.

That said, nothing stops you (if you want) from erasing a line you've drawn poorly or reconsidering a decision.

And beyond the second campaign, can it be played?

If after 30 hours of adventure (two campaigns) you want to play some additional battles, there are some enemies (especially bosses) that you can play a 3rd and 4th time because there are clean sheets for it. This is the Hunt Mode. However, you'll have to play them with special abilities and epic classes you haven't played before.

What happens if I die in the middle of the campaign? Can I "rewind" and try again?

In the game, you'll face numerous risky scenes. Losing a scene doesn't mean dying. If you lose, you won't always die: in some, you'll be rescued, in others, you'll flee, etc. The action moves forward, as I didn't want a game where you had to keep trying over and over. Obviously, this has a penalty in the story and your character's development, who might end up lame, blinded, or unarmed for the next fight. Or you might not get that nice new sword or those helpful fire arrows.

However, in other scenes (big bosses)... you can die if defeated.

Without spoilers, it's been mentioned that you'll live through several characters, each with their concerns and interests (and their abilities and mechanics, including very thematic sources of randomness that I don't want to reveal). So if a character dies at a big boss due to your decisions or poor luck management, they're dead. The story continues, and you'll live through another character. This will have consequences, of course.

However, within the same campaign, if one of those big bosses kills you, you have a "second chance": you can "rewind" a few steps back to try again with other skills (you'll have clean, unpainted pages for this). If you fail this "other opportunity", then that character is indeed dead. The fights are frantic, and a couple of bad decisions can send you to the grave if you don't adapt to the enemy's behavior and mechanics. And the campaign continues in the skin of another character as mentioned.

Apart from all this, there's the second campaign, which we've already discussed in another question. Totally replayable if you make other decisions.

How branching is the game's story?

When we talk about the branches of "In the Ashes", we must move within the standards of thematic-narrative board games. Think of the narrative in "Descent," "Altar Quest," "Imperial Assault," "Mansions of Madness," "Arkham Horror LCG," "Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion," or "Journeys in Middle-Earth". The story of "In the Ashes" has several types of branches (both those you decide voluntarily and those resulting from your actions and luck):

  • That affect the story.
  • That lead you to different action scenes.
  • That don't affect the story but simply give you more knowledge about the game world, its lore, the characters you meet, or the enemies you face.
  • That give you access to different objects and equipment.
  • That specialize your character in different combat arts and skills.

The latter aspect is where the game really branches out more deeply, allowing you to adapt your play style to what you feel most comfortable with: there are over 75 skills to choose from and 12 epic character classes (the highest level of specialization).

Although the game's main story has a defined through-line (like in others dungeon crawlers), don't expect hundreds or thousands of branches like in an open-world sandbox gamebook. Of course, you'll make important decisions affecting the story and that will be different if you replay the campaign, but the greatest customization of your experience will be when you choose equipment and combat arts skills.

For example, there are 8 different endings based on the decisions you've made in the story and your skill.

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