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A trilogy of games created by the company Choice of Games, the Affairs of the Court series is a group of Interactive Fiction games, co-authored by Heather Albano and Adam Strong-Morse. The first game, Choice of Romance takes place in a Latin-esque fantasy world of politics and magic, where the Player Character is an Impoverished Patrician seeking to save their family's fortune by seducing a wealthy partner at court. The following two games, Choice of Intrigue and Til Death Do Us Part, feature the PC struggling to maintain the position they've earned for themselves amidst a world that wants nothing more then to throw them down.

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This series contains the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: A female PC can have a few moments, such as winning the tourney in Choice of Romance and fighting off assassins in 'Til Death Do Us Part.
  • Age-Gap Romance: An Enforced Trope in-game, as people in their mid-to-late teens are courted by those estabilished enough to support a family, who tend to be at least in their mid-twenties. All of the player character's love interests are older than them to varying degrees (with the only possible exception being the younger Tomas de Reyes, if the PC marries him. But it's a forced marriage for Tomas' convenience, not a romance).
  • Anachronism Stew: It's a fantasy world with magic, it also has completely equal opportunities for men and women, gay and straight alike. Otherwise, it appears to be a mash-up of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with jousts and masquerades alongside of chamber music and afternoon tea.
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  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Tomas de Reyes tries to force your character to marry him to secure his position on the throne.
  • Ascended Extra: In the sequels, de Vega becomes a prominent character and can be either your friend, lover or enemy depending on the choices you make whilst Tomas de Reyes becomes the Big Bad. Both were background characters in the first game.
  • Anti-Villain: Juanita is highly antagonistic to the player character, and will banish them from court if she gains power, but they're also one of the most honest, honorable and noble characters in the game, and perhaps the only character who is never involved in anything skeevy, though her husband and his family might be.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Any Life Mage who demonstrates enough might to control minds is an unrepentant asshole at best.
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  • Bastard Bastard: Tomas de Reyes, the one unambiguously evil character in the entire series.
  • Betty and Veronica: Torres is your kind but boring Betty and the Monarch is your interesting but dangerous Veronica, de Mendosa is a bit of both.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lots of them for the third game—in fact, nearly all endings are this. You are either: burned at the stake but later avenged by your sons; brainwashed and forced into marrying Tomas—who promptly murders nearly everyone you love—and then freed when your sons lead a rebellion ten years later; forced to assassinate the wo/man you (possibly) love to stop their reign of tyranny; or exiled to the far ranges of the nation, but occasionally getting to visit your sons, who still get to take the throne. Most of the 'good' endings require you to poison or overthrow the Monarch. In the first game, marrying Torres, you're not in love and spend a lot of time bored and alone but you are rich and your family's future is secure.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: 'Til Death Do Us Part is a dark mess. Some characters are genuinely evil, but even "good guys" like de Mendosa will lie, cheat, and murder to save themselves, their loved ones, or Iberia, to win power for themselves, or to ensure that this situation can never happen again. The player character may be an exception, but if they are they will probably suffer for it.
  • Black Magician Girl: The PC in Choice of Romance can be played this way or as a Lady of Black Magic, depending on whether she prioritizes charm or intelligence and subtlety. Since Full-Contact Magic is in use at certain points, this crosses over with Magic Knight.
  • The Caligula:
    • The Monarch is never exactly a good person, but in 'Til Death Do Us Part they go completely off the deep end due to Tomas de Reyes' manipulation. Unless you've behaved perfectly towards them and can both moderate their madness and eliminate the source of the problem, they need to be put down.
    • Tomas de Reyes is an even bigger Caligula than the Monarch ever was, and is partly responsible for the Monarch's own rising paranoia.
  • Cavalry Refusal: Part of the plot of the second game is that House de Aguilar and their vassals are refusing to fight for Iberia, despite a war with the neighboring nation of Sahra. They demand a marriage to Juanita as the price for their support.
  • Civil War:
    • If you don't trigger a war with Sahra in Choice of Romance, it's possible that House de Aguilar and their allies will rebel against the crown instead. And if the Monarch believes House de Aguilar to be plotting against them in 'Til Death Do Us Part, they will launch an attack against them.
    • In one route, you can gather supporters and challenge Juanita's claim to the Iberian throne by force of arms.
  • The Coup: Possible in 'Til Death Do Us Part. More specifically, you can murder the Monarch and their closest allies in a palace coup and seize power for yourself. Tomas de Reyes is also attempting one.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Playing the next two games in the trilogy requires one to have romanced the Monarch, either as their lover on the side or their new spouse. Downplayed in the route where you marry Torres but still carry on an affair with the Monarch, but the marriage is never romantic and Torres dies partway through Choice of Intrigue.
  • Cutting the Knot: Tomas de Reyes is The Evil Prince who manages to win over the Monarch and blackmail the PC, either succeeding or coming very close to seizing complete power in the kingdom. Defeating him will require engaging in some extremely risky and complex plot... or giving Death Rods to the people and having him Killed Offscreen during The Coup.
  • The Dandy: Given that the PC in Choice of Romance was written like a young lady interested in fashion and gossip but can be played as a boy, he rather comes across as this. If male, the PC's sibling also fits the bill.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Augustin(a), the hedonistic and sometimes tyrannical King/Queen of Iberia. Tomas de Reyes also fits, though it is left ambiguous whether or not he is actually attracted to the PC.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
  • Double Standard: In Iberia, Gender Is No Object, but the double standards inherent in Renaissance Europe are still there because the plot wouldn't work without them. Here, they're based on age and power dynamics rather than gender; the younger partner is expected to be beautiful and to be courted by older partners, and whether fidelity is expected depends on the relative power of the two partners.
  • Downer Ending: In the first game, it's dying or failing to secure a betrothal and being sent home in disgrace resulting in your mother marrying you off to a withered old man who smells likes goats. Very rarely happens in the second, but if you're caught in a conspiracy to commit murder, you can die or be exiled. In the third, it's either losing your sons to assassins, then being assassinated yourself, or having to flee the court, never seeing your sons again, and then dying of illness.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • In Choice of Intrigue, if you chose to marry Torres but continue your affair with the Monarch, they die of illness in the middle of the story with little fanfare.
    • In 'Til Death Do Us Part, if you're exiled from or flee Orovilla while the Monarch is alive, you'll die of a random fever within a year. This doesn't happen if you legitimately receive a country estate. This also happens to de Vega's wife Sofía, who dies off-screen testing de Mendosa's Death Rods.
  • Enemy Mine: To resolve the conflict in Choice of Intrigues, the Monarch will either declaw House de Aguilar by marrying one of her heirs presumptive to a Sahran prince, or declaw Sahra by marrying that heir to de Aguilar's heir.
  • The Evil Prince: Tomas de Reyes. Possibly the PC, too; there's at least one opportunity per game to secure greater power by murdering the competition.
  • Expy:
    • The Monarch is Henry VIII.
    • The Consort is Catherine of Aragon.
    • The PC is Anne Boleyn. They may or may not be more successful.
    • Juanita is Mary Tudor.
    • Tomas de Reyes is Henry FitzRoy.
    • The PC's sons and potential heirs Antonio and especially Ricardo are Elizabeth I.
    • One possible ending also turns Ricardo and Antonio into expies of the Princes in The Tower. Tomas de Reyes has them locked up in a luxurious country home, and they aren't allowed to leave the grounds but are sometimes seen playing in the garden by neighbours. Then one day they completely stop appearing and are presumed dead. They aren't dead and, after reaching adulthood, return to overthrow Tomas.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Iberia is Spain, and Sahra is Al-Andalus. The de Aguilar family may represent the Crown of Aragon.
  • Forced to Watch: In the third game, if Juanita is married to the heir of Aguilar or the Sahran prince and that faction's part in trying to assassinate the PC and their sons was discovered, the Monarch will order the assassins to hold her in place during the slaughter of the entire faction, including her husband.
  • Golden Path: The Monarch's route in Choice of Romance.
  • Gold Digger: Your job in Choice of Romance. You can subvert it by eloping with de Mendosa, but that means you won't be able to go on to the later games.
  • Golden Ending: You and the Monarch are able to live the rest of your lives in reasonable peace before they die in a hunt, after which you take over as Regent to prepare your son for the throne. The game creators themselves have noted that this is by far the hardest ending to get, since there are only two ways to achieve it: throwing de Vega/de Mendosa under the bus when rumors of you committing adultery spread, which causes the Monarch to torture them to death; or maintaining Incorruptible Pure Pureness by keeping a sky-high Reputation, keeping the Monarch's love, not assassinating anyone, directly or indirectly, and not using the elixir to conceive a Life Mage child.
  • Happy Ending: If you don't love the Monarch, then the assassination and coup endings become this. Eloping with de Mendosa gives you this in the first game, though it also locks you out of playing the sequels.
  • Heir Club for Men: Choice of Intrigues has a variant. Gender is not an issue due to full equality of the genders in Iberia, but an heir with the proper kind of magical talent is a direct stand-in for having a male heir. A monarch's consort who isn't producing is a consort in trouble.
  • The Hero's Birthday: Choice of Romance begins on this.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: Part of the setup for Choice of Romance is that Life Magic allows for people of the same gender to reproduce, thus justifying Eternal Sexual Freedom.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: A major part of Life Mage mind control and Tomas de Reyes' main weapon.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: A difficult state to achieve, and impossible if you consider that you either have to become The Mistress or murder the Consort if you want to continue on to the second game. However, if you do manage it, you can avoid becoming the Monarch's target in the third game.
  • Insanity Defense: If you're caught murdering or attempting to murder Don Felix (and possibly his daughter) in Choice of Intrigues, you can plead insanity or Mind Manipulation. The first will lead to your banishment if it succeeds, the second will get you off scot-free. You can't do this if it's Juanita or Adelita, however.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Odd example in Choice of Romance. If you marry Torres, you may still get close enough to the Monarch to have an affair with them. If you do this and choose to tell Torres about it, they will reluctantly allow you to, telling you that they never met to force you into a marriage you weren't happy in. You can also attempt this with Mendosa, but they are not receptive to your idea. Averted if you aren't kind enough to Torres, in which case they insult and extort you instead.
  • Kangaroo Court: There's no such thing as a "fair trial" in Iberia. All trials are politically influenced even if the facts are clear, and if the Monarch knows they won't be able to get a conviction, they won't bother with a trial in the first place.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: In 'Til Death Do Us Part the PC is the target of an assassination attempt, and the monarch finds the coins of either Sahra or Aguilar in the possession of the assassins depending on the choices made in Choice of Intrigue. This is actually a False Flag Operation by the faction who did not mint the coins to frame their opposition and disguise their attack against the PC and their sons. If the PC responds by sending their own assassins against the guilty party, the monarch will still target whichever faction was framed.
  • Kissing Cousins: The Duquesa de Aguilar wants to coerce Augustin(a) into marrying her daughter Juanita to her own firstborn son. The Duquesa is the younger sister of Juanita's parent, the former Consort, so Juanita's husband would be her first cousin. This can happen, but can be avoided.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Implied with the Monarch in Choice of Romance.
    • By the time of Choice of Intrigue they've reverted back to their old ways, though you're still their favorite. If you can manage to produce a Life Mage child, or otherwise seriously impress them, they'll fall even more in love with you and give up their cheating ways for good.
  • The Lady's Favour: The PC of Choice of Romance can do this for the King/Queen for the jousting competition. Alternately, they can take the Monarch's favor and joust themself.
  • Let's Wait a While: The PC can do this with the Monarch in Choice of Romance.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: A lesbian PC in Choice of Romance is expected to be this; the junior partner is to let herself be courted, rather than trying to impress her suitors herself. You can subvert this if you so choose, however.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: It's possible for the PC to do very stupid things out of love, and undying devotion to the Monarch can easily get them killed in 'Til Death Do Us Part.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: It's also possible for the PC to decide that it's their duty to kill the insane Monarch, even if it hurts.
  • Luck-Based Mission: There is literally a one-in-a-hundred chance of producing a Life Mage child if you don't get the elixir. Good luck with that last bit, by the way.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The abilities of Life, Death and Sahran magic, and the principles of how magic is inherited between generations.
  • Magitek: An important plot point in 'Til Death Do Us Part is de Mendosa's invention of Death Rods, an allegory for guns that allow Life Mages and commoners with the slightest trace of magic to fight like Death Mage nobility. They're working on Life Rods as well, but haven't finished them yet, which is an important point for the debate surrounding them in court.
  • The Magocracy: "Noble" and "mage" are synonymous in Iberia. One of the reasons Death Rods are opposed by many nobles is that they threaten to unravel the social order by placing magic in the hands of the common folk.
  • Mama Bear / Papa Wolf: In Til Death Do Us Part, a group of Death Mage assassins will try to kill the PC's sons. The guards will tell the PC to stay in their room; they can promptly say "screw that", run out, and fight the assassins themselves.
    • In addition, the Monarch will be so incensed by this that when they find proof of either House de Aguilar or the Sahrans' involvement they order a bloody massacre of everyone involved and some people who aren't.
    • Finally, if the PC is forced to marry Tomas, their son's life being threatened is what snaps them out of their mind control and causes them to stab Tomas In the Back.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: If the Monarch is a woman and the PC is a man, then she's the blunt, hedonistic huntress, while he's the subtle, charming mage.
  • May–December Romance: Played straight with the PC and the Monarch in Choice of Romance, but subverted with Torres, since the game will state in canon that you aren't in love. And in 'Til Death Do Us Part, a romance route with the older widower de Vega is added.
  • Meal Ticket: Torres is this canonically. In a romance with them, you're not in love and it leads to a rather depressing but rich life. The Monarch can also fit here, depending on whether you use them to gain love, money, or power.
  • Mêlée à Trois:
    • The conflict between Iberia, the borderlords and Sahra. Eventually, either the de Aguilars or Sahra will form an alliance with the Queen, leaving the other in shambles.
    • If you launch a coup d'etat while Tomas de Reyes is still alive, he will launch his own bid for power at the same time.
  • The Mistress: You can become one for the Monarch if you aren't willing to murder the Consort. If you successfully dispose of the Consort, the Monarch will be Remarried to the Mistress.
  • Mind Manipulation: Can be performed by any sufficiently powerful Life Mage, though there are heavy legal restrictions on its use. Ramirez, who casts the spell to give the PC a Life Mage child, was banished for this. In 'Til Death Do Us Part, Tomas de Reyes uses this to great effect in taking over the court.
  • Morality Chain: The PC is acting as one for the Monarch by 'Til Death Do Us Part, but if you aren't damn near perfectly pure, they'll turn on you too.
  • Multiple Endings: As expected for an Interactive Fiction game, each part of the trilogy has multiple endings with different variations based on your choices.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: In all three games, whenever another character is in the way of romance between you and the Monarch, it's an option.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: If you die or are forced to marry Tomas, and your sons live, they will show up ten years later and announce this.
  • Off with His Head!: In the first two games, this is likely to happen to [PCs] who screw up, or the enemies of those who don't. In the third game, the Monarch has stopped chopping off heads, and started burning people at the stake.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Iberians swear by "the powers of Death and Life."
  • Put on a Bus: If you choose between Torres and de Mendosa, the other just vanishes from the game (not that there's much game left at this point). If you chose the Monarch, they both vanish.
  • Red Herring: Several individuals are set up to look like a threat to your survival and power, but actually are not. Nobody who the monarch is cavorting with is ever a threat to your personal position, nor is Juanita.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: The way marriages work in Choice of Romance, though here it's "rich and boring," "poor and exciting," and "rich, exciting, royal, and already married."
  • Rightful King Returns: If you die and your son Ricardo doesn't, he'll return ten years later to the throne from whoever took you down. The same thing happens if you're forced to marry Tomas.
  • Sanity Slippage: In the third game, the Monarch goes down the tubes, both from sheer paranoia and their bastard son's mind control.
  • Shipper on Deck: Your aunt for you and Torres, your uncle for you and the monarch, and your sibling for you and de Mendosa. None of them approve of the other options.
  • Shoot the Dog: In 'Til Death Do Us Part, the most reliable way to save your family and Iberia from the Monarch's madness is to murder them, either by poison or palace coup.
  • The Sociopath: Tomas de Reyes, who subjects many characters, including the Monarch and potentially the PC, to Mind Rape in order to pull off The Coup. He also tries to force the PC into a political marriage.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Downplayed. The Monarch does not take kindly to you pursuing one of the other suitors, though they limit themselves to a few offensive remarks and neutering the political career of your spouse (should they have one). In 'Til Death Do Us Part, de Mendosa is also a downplayed example because of their persistent pursuit of the PC.
  • Succession Crisis: The Monarch has no legitimate Life Mage heir, unless you can arrange one yourself. If you can't, then there can be three possible candidates to succeed them when they kick off: their legitimate Death Mage daughter Juanita, their illegitimate Life Mage son, Tomas de Reyes, and your son Ricardo or Antonio (depending on whether or not Antonio is a Life Mage). However, if Antonio is a legitimate Life Mage heir, then this is averted. It's also averted if you kill off all rival candidates, or simply seize power from the Monarch through a coup d'etat.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: A useful tool for getting rid of your enemies in all three games, as long as you have high Subtle.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • In this game, the stupidest thing the PC can do is nothing. In a political, magical world where everyone is willing to lie, cheat, betray, and murder to improve their positions, sitting around on your hands is guaranteed to end in your death.
    • Angering the Monarch is always a bad idea.
    • In the late game, the Monarch's behavior becomes more and more dangerous and erratic, and both the characters and the narrative repeatedly give the PC the opportunity to accept that they aren't beyond the Monarch's wrath, no matter how they feel about each other, and the player always has the option to insist otherwise... which will almost always get them killed.
  • The Unfavorite: Juanita just can't catch a break. Not only does she have the wrong kind of magery to inherit the throne, but she's just high enough in the succession to be the PC's probable enemy, and her relatives really are plotting against the throne. She's not guilty of anything, but she's close enough to the fire to be executed if evidence or rumors linking her to the conspiracy can be fabricated.
  • The Unfettered:
    • The Monarch's advisor Luis de Vega, who protects the interests and stability of Iberia at any cost, in contrast to de Mendosa. In 'Til Death Do Us Part, this can be used to convince him to join in overthrowing the Monarch, on the basis that their tyranny is a threat to the realm.
    • The PC can easily be played as this, taking ruthless actions to secure their own position.
  • Warrior Prince: Your sons, in the endings where they show up, kill the current monarch, and then take the throne with little effort.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist:
    • de Mendosa is extremely idealistic about improving life in Iberia through political and technological reforms, in contrast to de Vega, especially in 'Til Death Do Us Part. If eliminating the Monarch and/or Tomas via a revolution, a PC partnered with de Mendosa can institute a constitutional monarchy as an extension of this worldview.
    • The PC can be a romantic who dreams of finding true love in the court. If they want to survive, they have to outgrow this very quickly.
    • The PC's younger sibling manages to retain at least some of their idealism for the entire trilogy, unless they find out the PC murdered their husband and stepdaughter, in which case they will have you assassinated in revenge.
  • Woman Scorned: Abandon de Mendosa for the Monarch in Choice of Romance and they will trash your reputation throughout the court. If you abandon the Monarch for Torres, they will likewise exclude you and your spouse from public social life in the epilogue.
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