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Video Game / Sanctuary RPG

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Sanctuary RPG is an Indie Role-Playing Game, developed by Black Shell Games and released in 2014. It is made in ASCII style, where there are no actual graphical elements to speak of, their role instead served by letters and code symbols. Freed from having to develop graphics and animations, the developers have instead invested their time into gameplay content. Thus, it features over 160 class and race combinations, 1400 weapons and armours and hundreds of enemy types, as well as light-hearted, off-beat writing.

The plot is fairly simple. Many years ago, a powerful sorceress known as the Matron was corrupted by an Artifact of Doom and attempted to destroy the world. However, she was defeated by the legendary wizard Cyrus and sealed away, Cyrus himself vanishing shortly afterwards. In the present day, your Featureless Protagonist is your average run of the mill adventurer who, in their adventuring, inadvertently stumbles upon a plot to release the Matron, all while a civil war between the religious, fanatical Brotherhood and the brutal, freedom-embracing Rebels engulfs the land.

An enhanced version known as SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition was released on Steam, featuring new (ASCII) art, new music, tons of new content, and a faction system. Black Edition costs about $5.00, but you can still download the "classic" edition from the developer's website at any price you choose.


Sanctuary RPG provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All Deaths Final: The Classic mode, where dying once will permanently end your progress. The game literally deletes your save and character, forcing you to start again.
  • Anachronism Stew: While the world appears to be a standard Fantasy Kitchen Sink at first glance, it has many out-of-place elements, including that of modern technology. For instance, one of the early bosses is a computer terminal.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Inn the cow random encounter, it is possible to kiss it, which causes the animal to lick you on the forehead, then crap out a charm.
  • Blob Monster: The slimes, in their many, many varieties. The first boss battle is against a very large Blue Slime.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Champion versions of regular enemies act like this. To prove the point, you cannot flee from combat with them: supposedly, they block your escape path with fire every time.
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  • Bottomless Pits: One type of a random encounter presents you with such a pit. All you need to do is walk away. The game also lets you jump in.
  • Cliché Storm: Many NPCs are intentionally written in this way, with typical Angsty backgrounds. Dialogue choices frequently allow you to make fun of them.
  • Combos: Performing chains of attacks in the game's battle system contributes to your ultimate bar, and allows for the ultimate attacks.
  • Continuing is Painful: Even in the so-called Softcore mode, dying will result in all unassigned experience and uninvested gold lost.
  • Crate Expectations: The Random Box encounter presents you with a crate you can smash. Usually, there's nothing, but sometimes it provides artifacts.
  • Cyborg: Many creatures in the game, both friendly and hostile, have some cybernetic augmentation. As an example, there are robotics pets. There is also a Mechanised Dragon boss.
  • Dialogue Tree: Fully implemented for all conversations.
  • Elite Mook: Enemies with affixes to their name are nearly always some form of this, especially if they have two or three affixes at once. One entirely plausible combination is <VICIOUS> (far greater attack power), <HEALTHY> (increased HP) and <ALPHA> (will always have a minion with them).
  • Foregone Victory: It is impossible to lose the first boss fight against Blue Slime.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare / Stronger with Age: Enemies with the <INSIDIOUS> status start off normal but grow stronger every turn, with no hard limits.
  • Gameplay Grading: The yellow performance bar is supposed to act as this, and gives you bonus experience at the end of the fight. In practice, there are only two rules: don't take too long and don't heal often, if at all.
  • Giant Mook: Enemies with the <GIGANTIC> status are supposed to be this. It translates in them dealing large amounts of damage far more often than their normal versions are statistically allowed.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The Terminal.
  • The Grim Reaper: The Mystic Guardian enemies are drawn much like this, completely with hooded shrouds and scythes.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Enemies with the <IRONCLAD> status are this, which translates to 50% damage reduction from all attacks inflicted on them.
  • HP to 1: Some attacks do this. Certain actions done during random encounters will also do this to your character. The latter can range from obvious ( stepping on a mine, injecting yourself with a random syringe on a ground) to outright weird. Whistling at strange sounds, or waiting at a river crossing (as opposed to trying to fish with bare hands) will also somehow do that to you.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Eating bread fully heals you for some reason.
  • Instant Ice: Just Add Cold!: Enemy-only Frozen status, which prevents them from taking actions for two turns.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: Averted in some random encounters. You can slice boulders to bits or cut your way through vines (not that it does anything).
  • Interface Screw: Enemies with <BLINDING>, <SHROUDING> and <NUMBING> affixes revel in this. The former will temporarily prevent your move list from displaying (you can still pick attacks, you just can't see what you're doing), <SHROUDING> have their health hidden from view, while <NUMBING> hides your HP.
  • Item Crafting: Implemented as its own separate mode, with several parameters you need to control when the item is being crafted. Your character will also receive separate experience and gain levels in crafting.
  • Kill It with Fire: Enemy-only Burn status, which inflicts 3% of total health damage on first turn, 2% on second, 1% on its final turn.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Enemies with <IMMUNE> status completely ignore ultimates, while <RESISTANT> ones don't care for status effects. There are also <FAST> and <NIMBLE> enemies, which dodge stuns and finishing attacks, respectively.
  • Last Breath Bullet: The Wound status effect acts like this: it inflicts major damage only if you attempt to flee or reposition. Enemies with <VENGEFUL> affix will also inflict large amount of damage upon death.
  • Level Scaling: Played straight with Arena Brawlers. Averted with other enemy types.
  • Mana Drain: Enemies with the <SAPPER> Affix will drain your MP every turn, while <SMITER> enemies also drain Rage and Ultimate bars.
  • Money Spider: Whether they're humanoids, robots or slimes, all monsters will drop gold when killed, and often drop armor, weapons and charms as well.
  • The Need for Mead: There's a tavern you can get drinks at. Early on, the person running it leaves town, and you can decide to take over the tavern to make extra money.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted: you're even allowed to defecate in some situations. Doing so in the Sleeping Man encounter will cause ''snails'' to bite your gonads.
  • One-Hit Kill: The special attack of the Terminal boss is to launch a missile at where your character is standing. If you don't reposition in time, it's game over.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: So different, in fact, that they attack by spitting acid!
  • Overheating: Unlike most video games, here it's used for the crafting mini-game. Each crafting action generates or dissipates heat. If you overheat the project, its durability (how far you can beat the material before it is destroyed entirely) is halved and you lose the chance to earn a crafting skill point. Heat it even further and durability drops straight to zero.
  • Permanently Missable Content: This happens to weapons at the blacksmith's store if you reject them: he will throw them away and they will not appear again in this playthrough.
  • Pet the Dog: One random encounter leaves you face-to-face with a giant turtle. Petting it gives you a random charm.
  • Piñata Enemy: Enemies with the <AFFLUENT> status are no more powerful than the regular kind, but they will drop double the amount of gold and experience upon defeat.
  • Random Encounter: Range from harmless (beggars, bundles of fruits) or easy to solve (bottomless pits, boulders) to beneficial (bread, cow) to outright lethal (exploding mine or boss random encounters.)
  • Regenerating Health: HP Regen status effect, along with its cousin MP regen. Enemies with <VAMPIRIC> affix will also heal every turn.
    • There are two other ways for enemies to regain health. <RESILIENT> affix enemies heal when you do, encouraging you to finish them quickly.<OBSTINATE> enemies heal while guarding, which is bad if they're also <SHIELDING> and have high probability of using guard instead of attacking.
  • Running Gag: There are a lot of potato jokes.
  • Shock and Awe: Enemy-only shock status, which prevents them from charging or guarding.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: Averted in the Two Paths Random Encounter. You would expect some degree of randomisation: in actual fact, the left path will always have a bonus item.
  • The Spiny: Enemies with <BARBED> status. This makes ultimates hazardous in combat with them, because you will automatically receive vast amount of damage from their barbs in return.
  • Shock and Awe: Enemy-only shock status, which prevents charging or guarding.
  • Standard Status Effects: There are physical effects such as stun (prevents enemies from taking actions for 4 turns), bleed (lose 1% of maximum health (5% for the player) for turn for 7 turns), Confuse (chance for enemies to miss and hit themselves), Enrage (enemies blindly charge more often), Curse (disables ultimates and decreases player's stats) and Ensnare (prevents fleeing, charging or repositioning until you break free). There are also elemental and more out-there effects:
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: Used in the Piles of Gold random encounter. If you try to collect the gold, a bat will come out of nowhere and attack you. You still get the gold, though.
  • Turn-Based Combat: The strict variety, where each turn is equal to one action, with no correlation to real time units. It also has certain frills, like the ability to avoid certain attacks by repositioning your characters.
  • Ultimate Attack: The so-called ultra-special attacks, available both to your characters and to bosses, when their charge gauge is filled. For example, the Terminal boss will straight-out launch a missile at your character as its ultimate attack.
  • Unblockable Attack: <MOLTEN> enemies deal continuous damage every turn, while enemies with <FOCUSED> affixes will ignore your chance to dodge.
  • Universal Poison: Player-only: the usual variety that deals percentage each turn and gets worse with every turn.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Played straight in some situations, and averted in others. For instance, punching an Unknown Stranger will give you an item. Attacking a Ghost will result in them spitting acid on you.
  • The Wiki Rule: There's one, but it is regrettably under-developed.


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