This post will sum up my experiences of playing the first episode of The Council, “The Mad Ones”, making use of each class and trying out different choices.
Before we start, let’s have a look at the cast and, of course, beware of SPOILERS
Louis Mauras de Richet is the son of the leader of the French branch of the Golden Order, Sarah Faustine de Richet, and, though pretty liberal, also pretty ageist (At least that was what I thought). During the prologue he makes it very clear that he believes that his mother is too old to be going on adventures all by herself and he is seemingly proven right, when she disappears during her latest mission.
Emily Hillsborrow is a young British lady, a duchess, actually, and a fellow guest on Lord Mortimer’s island, where Sarah has gone missing and where Louis travels, on behest of Lord Mortimer himself, to investigate his mother’s disappearance. Emily is immune to logic, but vulnerable to psychology. Her sharp wit never fails her and she is delightfully eloquent. Also, she is Louis’ love interest, for lack of another suitable candidate.
Giuseppe Piaggi is an elderly cardinal, who Sarah has had business with in the past. He seems to be a kind soul, but this is just the first epsiode, so I shall not count on that just yet. He is also discreet, which is why he appreciates discretion in others, namely in Louis.
George Washington is not only the first president and founding father of the United States of America, he is also grandmaster of the local branch of the Golden Order. He is a politician and as such relies on information and depends on capable spies. Louis may or may not turn into one, depending on your choices.
Gregory Holm is a member of the House of Lords and close to Lord Mortimer. Since the host is curiously absent during the first episode, his duties fall to Holm, who seems to have his very own agenda.
Elizabeth Adams is the daughter of Washington’s good friend John Adams (his vice-president) and should not be alive at all. She was supposed to be stillborn and buried as an infant. The historic Elizabeth Adams really was stillborn in 1777, by the way. It is clear that she has suffered much and that she is unstable. You can choose to either avoid or try and help her.
Jacques Péru is French, like Louis, and part of the revolutionary government. He is an uneducated brute, or so it seems, who is decidedly out of his element among the other, illustrious guests. In this episode, you can either go up against him in a brawl (whether you succeed or suffer defeat depends on your class and skill set) or choose to avoid him.
Napoleon Bonaparte really needs no introduction, but he is a young man at this time, a career soldier and astute politician with a vision for France for which he needs the Order’s help to bring it to life. You will have one confrontation with him and, if you succeed, a new ally, maybe.
Johann Christoph von Wöllner is advisor to the Prussian king and that is more or less all you get to know in this episode. Also, he is an expert of the occult, just like Washington and Sarah de Richet.
Manuel Godoy, of Spain, does not appear in this episode and neither does your host, William Alexander Mortimer, unless you play it right…
There are three classes to choose from: Diplomat, Detective or Occultist. I played the episode with each class and I found the Occultist to suit me best. Before I explain why, here are the specific skill sets for each class.
Etiquette: You know your way around the pitfalls of the high society.
Conviction: You can convince people of your intentions by sheer force of will and authority.
Politics: You know everything that goes on in world politics.
Diversion: You are able to divert people’s attention and change the subject and thus deflect unwelcome questions, if you wish.
Linguistics: You know your languages.
Vigilance: You notice things and clues that are hidden.
Questioning: You notice strange or irratic behaviour in people and can exploit that, unlocking new dialogue.
Psychology: You can exploit your knowledge of the human psyche.
Logic: You are observant and notice more than others.
Agility: You are a strong and hands-on lad.
Science: You have a sound knowledge of science and are therefore able to analyze stuff.
Occultism: Religion and the occult are what you breathe.
Manipulation: You are good at exploiting your fellows’ weak points.
Erudition: You have a sound education in the arts, history, literature and ancient languages.
Subterfuges: You are able to pick locks (and morale is really not you thing).
My favorite class? The Occultist. Because, guys, there are a lot of little chests (guarding clues and/or consumables) to unlock in this manor and you can either find the keys or simply unlock them by using the skill of Subterfuges. The knowledge of arts, history and ancient languages also comes in handy.
The choices (There be many spoilers!)
Let’s start at the very beginning. During the prologue you will be left to choose between trusting your mother or acting yourself. I first went with trusting her and was later just a little annoyed when Louis abruptly was starting to have visions upon arriving on the island. (Secret order, occultism, cliché, anyone?). If you choose to act instead, dear old Mom will reveal that Louis is way more important than he thinks. Which explains the visions so much better.
The next choice will be whether to stay with Washington and Emily or to leave for dinner with Sir Holm and Cardinal Piaggi. If you choose the first, it will be revealed that the three of you have something in common. If you choose the latter, you will be able to question Sir Holm, who you saw in your first vision. Also, you get to know a little about Elizabeth Adams.
Once you have retreated to your room, you will have another vision. Once awake, you are left with the choice of either assisting Washington or spying on Sir Holm and Lord Mortimer. If you choose to spy on the two men, you will learn something useful about them and Napoleon Bonaparte (and catch a glimpse of Emily in her undies), but if you choose to assist Washington, you better come prepared. Because now you face Jacques Perú and a very, very difficult choice of whether to help someone in need or stand back and observe. I have not managed to bring myself to stand back and was twice struck unconscious by Perú, until, having leveled up the Agility skill of the Detective to the Max for this sole occasion, I managed to knock him out in turn. It’s also quite satisfying to put him in his place as the Occultist, even though he will still knock you out in the previous encounter. The Diplomat is not really of any use here, at least not in my case.
The last choice of this episode will see you either join Elizabeth Adams, who really is in need of a friend, or stay with the seductive Emily Hillsborrow to (maybe) spend the night with her… (Aaaargh!) and reveal a secret concerning two of the people present on the island.
The endings (MAJOR SPOILERS!!!)
So, assume I managed to succeed during every single confrontation (except Bonaparte on my first playthrough).
On my first playthough as a Detective I chose to trust my mother, to stay with Washington and Emily, to assist Washington (unsuccessfully) and to remain with Elizabeth, who turns out to be a rather nasty piece of work.
On my second playthrough as a Diplomat I again chose to trust my mother, but went with Holm and Piaggi this time, decided not to assist Washington and then chose to stay with Emily and not question her too closely before we spent the night together. The next morning, I was introduced to Lord Mortimer (in my undies).
On my third playthrough as an Occultist I decided to act instead of trusting my mother (bad choice), accompanied Holm and Piaggi, chose to assist Washington (and was beaten to a pulp for it but got my revenge by putting Péru in his place the next morning), then chose to stay with Elizabeth, but refused to drink with her, for which she kicked me out, and, come morning, was arrested for her murder by a positively gleeful Péru.
There was also a forth ending where Emily revealed something very important.
So, I am curious. Are there any more endings? Let me know!
Until then, keep on playing!