Blood & Laurels

Cults. Conspiracies. Poison. Stabbing. Blackmail. Seduction. Prophecies and rumors. Divine wrath — or possibly just bad weather.

It’s the eight hundred and twenty first year of the city of Rome, a year of bad omens and unrest. The Emperor is bloodthirsty and watches keenly for anyone who might be trying to overthrow him. The grain dole is running out and the people are going hungry. Romans are beginning to put their faith in foreign cults, as their old gods seem indifferent.

In this dangerous environment, Marcus is concerned with two things: his poetry, and keeping his patron Artus happy. But when Artus sends him to ask a secret question of an oracle, Marcus is forced to get involved, with conspiracies, politics, and a woman he is trying to forget.

Blood & Laurels offers dozens of outcomes for Marcus, his friends, his enemies, and Rome itself. The choices you make for him will decide not only how he ends up, but what kind of man he is when he reaches the end.

Written by Emily Short, co-creator of Versu and author of dozens of works of interactive fiction, Blood & Laurels is a story she’s been wanting to tell for nearly fifteen years. The Versu technology finally gave her the tools she needed to build Marcus’s world in detail, from the political conspiracies to the dice games.



“Versu is one of the most ambitious and focused storytelling systems ever made.”

Adam Saltsman, creator of Canabalt

“Blood & Laurels made me feel more like an improviser than a reader, someone who was asked to perform a role in a troupe, responding to the unpredictable decisions of my fellow actors, who in turn had to adjust to my decisions. Remarkably, when I replayed the game, I didn’t feel that Marcus had become a different character when he decided to, say, betray Artus rather than execute his commands. Instead, it seemed that I was just learning how he might behave differently under the vagaries of circumstance… One of those quintessential video game moments, a first glimpse at something on the horizon.” — Chris Suellentrop, The New York Times

“This interactive story is actually extremely good and I for one have not be able to get enough of it.” — Sean Cravener, MobileGamePlace

“The plot and writing are spectacular; this is some of Emily Short’s finest work.”Jason Dyer


“totally worth adding to your summer reading list”



“I’ve been playing Blood & Laurels and the mechanics feel really natural, like events keep going and you can choose to particpate in them… and when you do, there’s a huge range of things to possibly do and they all influence the story in some way. It simulates narrative agency much better than any game I’ve played, really highly recommend.”Claire Hosking

“For once there really are multiple opportunities to replay it, as there’s plenty to see and discover.” — Jennifer Allen, 148Apps


“feels both theatrical and revolutionary”

— Konstantinos Dimopoulos,


“Instead of wandering from room to room solving puzzles, though, Blood and Laurels is about social intrigue. It allows you to scheme, betray, romance, conspire, blackmail and even poison characters. Each action affects other people in a different way, slowly building up their personality AI to create a surprisingly realistic social experience.”JayIsGames

Blood & Laurels is so good! It managed to give me that board game feeling of betrayal from a fictional character.”George Buckenham

“There’s a great deal of room here to affect the pacing of a scene… Not every choice on the player’s part has immediate, irreversible impact, forcing the scene down one of a handful of paths—rather, there’s almost always some “flavor” options in the actions menu. Eat this, look at that, stare dead-eyed into a fire, etc. Small actions can lend different tones to a scene depending on what order they’re conducted in.” — Sean Clancy, PocketTactics

“Possible actions depend not only on what’s happening at the moment, but on your relationships with the characters and on things you’ve learned or decisions you’ve made. Give a character enough reasons to be your enemy, and they’ll act like it.” — Richard Goodness, Storycade

“Blood & Laurels represents a true melding of literature and game systems, not merely branching but actually fully interactive.”

— Tim Biggs, The Sydney Morning Herald


“Move through an immense world by making constant dynamic choices, which allow you to exchange dialogue, shoot subtle body language cues at other characters, observe the settings around you, and even eat the olives laid out on a banquet table. It’s an incredibly rich experience…” — Janel, AppsZoom

Blood & Laurels feels like a piece of theatre as the play is found in the conversation between its actors.” — Chris Priestman, PocketGamer

“How about that “Game of Thrones” season finale, huh? If you can’t get enough of the kind of thrill and intrigue that the wildly watched TV series affords, then you might want to take a stab at a recently released app that is the subject of this week’s Shelf Control: the iPad interactive fiction app Blood & Laurels.AppAdvice

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