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Visual Novel / Magical Diary

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Magical Diary: Horse Hall is a Ren'Py-based Romance Game with Life Sim and Adventure Game elements, released by Hanako Games in 2011.

The Player Character was an ordinary teenage girl until she discovered her inborn capacity for magic and was given The Choice: deny her power and keep her normal life, or embrace it and enroll at the Wizarding School Iris Academy to learn how to control and use her magic. The game follows her through her first year at Iris Academy and her introduction into the world of magic - and all of the dangers that come with it.

A Wolf Hall spin-off is currently in development. Check the official Magical Diary twitter for updates.


Magical Diary contains the following tropes:

  • A Year and a Day: The length of time you have to stay married to Grabiner in his route in order for it to count as fulfilling the promise.
    • It's also how long Virginia and Jacob would have to stay married, although if you make the right choices you can get Virginia out of this by offering to marry her yourself instead.
  • Accidental Marriage: An encounter with a menacing spirit leads the PC to attempt to protect herself by lying that she's Professor Grabiner's fiancee. She doesn't realize at the time that this can't be treated as a harmless white lie: a promise made by a witch or wizard has its own inherent power with consequences if it is broken, and she and Grabiner end up obligated to actually get married to avoid worse fallout.
  • Alternate Continuity: Wolf Hall takes place in a alternate timeline to Horse Hall. Whatever happened in the first game does not affect the plot outside of minor CallBacks.
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  • Amnesiac Hero: The magical world has a strict policy of wiping the memories of people who get kicked out of their society, which happens if the person either chooses to reject their powers, fails magic school, or somehow loses them (usually by breaking a magic oath). So, you become this in most of the bad endings.
  • Animal Motifs: Deliberately invoked by the faculty of Iris Academy. All students are assigned a house when they enroll: "daring" Wolves, "elegant" Falcons or "eldritch" Toads for the boys, and "adventurous" Horses, "charming" Butterflies or "mysterious" Snakes for the girls. Bonus points for one of the Butterfly Hall residents having literal wings.
  • Anything That Moves: Pastel. She responds very enthusiastically when she finds out someone (you) is giving out free hugs, and if you send her a valentine card.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Professor Grabiner, according to the PC.
    • Possibly also Damien, depending on how you choose to phrase the love letter and whether or not you're just making things up. "Voice like melty butter," indeed.
  • Art Evolution: The art has improved drastically between the two games. Compare Damien in Horse hall, and Damien in Wolf Hall.
  • Asexuality: Virginia repeatedly insists she's not interested that way in anyone, male or female. Even if you manage to enter into a romantic relationship with her (which isn't easy), at the end it comes out that she'd really rather just cuddle.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Ellen is probably the smartest person at the school, and at one point defeats an exam without using any magic at all, just puzzling out an illusion. Professor Grabiner considers it cheating to complete a magical exam without using magic, though.
  • Becoming the Mask: Probably the case with Damien, although it's hard to be entirely sure. Casting Spirit Sight and/or Empathy at plot-relevant moments proves that, if nothing else, he's definitely struggling with some very uncomfortable and conflicting feelings.
  • Battle of Wits: The main character can engage in one with her opponent in the sixth exam.
  • Big Eater: Virginia. She sure can pack it in.
  • Boarding School
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer / Eccentric Mentor: Professor Potsdam. Despite being the powerful headmistress at a prestigious Wizarding School she comes across more of a mature Granola Girl. Most of the time, anyway.
  • Canon Name: The protagonist has a default name, Mary Sue.
  • Captain Ersatz: Professor Grabiner is very obviously fanon Snape.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: On Virginia's route, Donald plays a prank on her for Valentine's Day by finding a marriage contract that she and Jacob made as kids and passing it around the school. Then Potsdam gets word of it and informs the two that the contract they made is enough to be considered a promise, and since the promises of witches and wizards are binding, they actually have to get married once they turn eighteen or they'll both lose their powers forever.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Snake and Toad Hall students in general tend in this direction. Particular examples include Big Steve, Suki, and Balthasar.
  • Cock Fight: Jacob and Kyo eventually wind up butting heads over who deserves Minnie's attention.
  • Companion Cube: Give Big Steve the bunny doll, and he names it "Mr. Hoppity" and is often seen talking to it. And writes letters to Mary Sue in Mr. Hoppity's name. It's unclear whether this is due to a dissonant personality disorder on Big Steve's part or if there's more to Mr. Hoppity than meets the eye. (With enough White Magic you can check whether or not there is any sort of spirit in the toy, and there doesn't seem to be, so it's probably just Big Steve.)
  • Cool Big Bro: William to Virginia. And she adores him for it.
  • Crapsaccharine World: It's such a pretty magical world, with freaky yet lovable characters, fairy wings, and Troubled, but Cute Bishōnen. Yet magical society is exceedingly totalitarian, its rules are enforced by Laser-Guided Amnesia, the students at Iris Academy have very few rights, and even then, the professors are not the ones who are the most dangerous to you.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Kyo towards Minnie.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: If you don't at least take a look at all five magic types early on, you'll get detention or demerits. Also, not all dungeons can be solved by all kinds of magic, so someone who purely specializes in a single art is at risk of demerits.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • At first glance, Snake and Toad Hall are assumed to be reservoirs of Always Chaotic Evil. However, as seen above, their students generally turn out to be harmless Cloudcuckoolanders - the dangerous students aren't so obvious.
    • Black Magic, despite having a name full of negative connotations, deals mostly with enchanting magical items and is no more inherently evil than any other school.
  • Deconstructed Trope: The romance with Damien is a deconstruction of the plot where Love Redeems the Troubled, but Cute villain. Damien's read that romance novel, and he's not only manipulating Mary Sue in the classic romance-novel sense, but he's manipulating the player's expectations of how this story goes to get what he wants, and everything he does before the Wham Episode is in fact pure fakery.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Damien. If you don't romance him, he'll go after a freshman boy instead. On the other hand:
    • Everyone Is Bi: Gender appears to be mostly irrelevant when it comes to romance here, with no one commenting if the heroine ends up in a romance with a girl, and several NPCs also involved in same-sex relationships that are, again, not treated as unusual. When Jacob's "fathers" are mentioned in Virginia's path, it comes up very casually and might not even be noticeable if one doesn't pay attention to his exact wording (as in, "my fathers" versus "our fathers").
  • Disappeared Dad: Ellen's parents divorced when she was younger, and her father eventually stopped writing to her.
  • Domestic Abuse: Kyo is extremely possessive of Minnie and pulls a lot of manipulation on her when she tries to break up with him for it. They break up at least twice over the course of the story, but Minnie will end up going back to him if you don't intervene in some way.
  • Dying Declaration of Hate/Dying Declaration of Love: Potentially one of either when Damien shows his true colors, depending on player choice.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: The divorce ending requires you to take a very specific series of actions, and is a downright horrific failure mode taking your life From Bad to Worse.
  • Exact Words: Playfully lampshaded by Damien during the May Day ball. The protagonist is under the impression that his earlier promise not to harm her is still in effect - until he bites her. As he points out, the terms of the promise mean that it actually only protected her for the one day. Fortunately, he doesn't actually intend to harm her and the bite was simply to mess with her... probably.
  • Face–Heel Turn: From the perspective of magical society, the ending in which the protagonist loses her magic and escapes with Damien constitutes one. The truth of the situation is something much more complicated.
  • Fantasy Contraception: When Potsdam finally gets around to The Talk, this is the topic. Nobody blinks an eye at high schoolers having sex, but children are forbidden; fortunately, the use of green magic will easily prevent conception, and Potsdam can help if you don't have that level of skill yet. note 
  • Foreshadowing: If you manage to acquire certain amounts of magic points before the events, some of Ms. Potsdam's lectures can be considered foreshadowing at least for Damien's path, and possibly a few others'.
  • Friendly Address Privileges/First-Name Basis: One of the signs that Professor Grabiner is warming to the protagonist is that - at least when they're not around other people - he begins calling her by her first name, and gives her permission to call him something other than "sir."
  • Gay Option: No Hanako Games title would be complete without this. In this case both Ellen and Virginia fulfill the role officially.
  • The Grovel: The letters that Damien sends after things in his path go pear-shaped contain copious amounts of slightly unhinged groveling, promising anything you could possibly want from expensive presents all the way up to conquering the world for you if only you'll take him back.note 
  • Has Two Mommies: Jacob has two fathers.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The PC's name is chosen by the player (with "Mary Sue" as the default).
  • Heroic Team Revolt: During the final exam, there are plenty of ways to cause your team to collapse from lack of trust (usually due to your personal romantic affairs), but the most blatant way is if you tried to intercede for Damien after he tried to steal your soul. They will issue a direct ultimatum: give up Damien, or they will throw the exam then and there just to spite you.
  • I Have This Friend...: Kyo talks about his problems with Minnie this way the first time he asks you about it in Gym Class. Similarly, if Minnie brings up her relationship issues with the protagonist, she'll start the conversation by saying she's asking for advice on behalf of a friend.
  • Ill Girl: Virginia was born prematurely and has some health problems as a result. William explains it to you when she gets sick about halfway through the year.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: For all of Damien's flaws and problems, it's safer to listen to his warnings:
    • Your first encounter with him in the gym, where he tells you to attend at least the first lecture of every class and not trust the professors? You need a minimum of one point in every colour to avoid getting detention after the first two weeks, and a minimum of ten to avoid being kept behind for summer school. And Potsdam definitely isn't telling you everything.
    • His suggestion to study blue magic during Initiation week? Successfully using blue magic (which requires a total of thirty or more points in it) will get a whopping ten merits in the first exam - more than you can get from any other option.
    • His warning not to use Spirit Sight during the Dark Dance? Doing so will make the spirits very angry, causing them to knock you out and temporarily blind you. Grabiner will also give you detention and take ten demerits from you - or twenty, if you asked him about the dance prior to attending it.
    • Him telling you that you might be in danger in the Academy - that you could lose your mind, or your life, or worse? If you get expelled, you will "lose your mind" by being brainwashed. As for your life and your soul, they are also in danger... from Damien!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold : Grabiner is an extremely caustic Deadpan Snarker with a tendency to rant at the heroine if she fails an exam... because he knows firsthand how dangerous careless use of magic can be and simply believes in the principle of Scare 'em Straight. He's actually quite gentlemanly when calm and talking with a person he respects.
    • Tsundere: On his route, this is how his initial lack of respect for the protagonist manifests-he starts off viewing the protagonist as an idiot and tries to ignore her until he can cast the severance spell on the Magically Binding Contract. As she shows a more caring and competent side to him, he warms up significantly.
  • Just Friends: The protagonist can become close friends with all romanceable characters apart from Damien, who throws a ragefit at the very notion of friendship and is never seen again. Considering that his entire plan hinges on manipulating a love-struck protagonist, it's not surprising that he isn't too keen on friendship.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Used to enforce the masquerade and prevent anyone non-magical from finding out anything about magical society. Specifically, it's used on anyone who finds themselves kicked out of magical society, whether by expulsion, breaking a promise, or choice. A milder version is applied to the parents of Wildseeds to make them forget that their children are magical, but in some cases it hits harder than intended and the parents in question start to forget that they care about their children, which is what happens to Ellen's parents. She eventually tells Potsdam to make her family forget about her completely.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Defied by Potsdam. She says that if trying to steal your soul isn't technically on the books as an expulsion-worthy offense, she'll make it one.
    • However, used in one event to get out of a Magically Binding Contract. Virginia and Jacob promised to marry when they turn eighteen. They did not promise to marry each other.
    • Sometimes there is a time limit or an opponent of some kind, but for the most part, the only rule for the exams is "find the exit". In one exam, Ellen uses her analytical skills to break through an illusion and find the exit, without even bothering with magic. Subverted in that she doesn't get any merits for it and Professor Grabiner basically equates it to cheating: this is, after all, a test of magic.
    • You can do something similar in the exam with the exploding chest. If you have enough Strong, you will survive the explosion that happens when you open the chest and can then just take the key and exit the dungeon. Like the above example, Potsdam isn't happy with you if you do this.
  • The Lost Lenore: Professor Grabiner's attitude turns out to have been shaped significantly by the tragic and gruesome death of Violet, a promising wildseed witch who he fell in love with while they were both students.
  • Love Martyr: The PC, on Damien's route. Everyone around her warns her away from him, but even after he betrays and nearly kills her, she'll keep forgiving him and coming back for more if you want to get his endings.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Damien's grand plan hinges on this - he's counting on his victim being so besotted by him that, by the time he's done manipulating them, they'll happily hand over their soul to him on a silver platter.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Unless you enlist Big Steve's help, you only have a 1 in 100 chance of winning that bunny doll.
    • Magic itself can be this as well. Each class in a type of magic raises that type by a random amount of points between 1 and 3, and you have a chance of failing that goes up with your stress level. If you wait until the last minute to level up a type of magic that you need for an exam, you'll have to hope that you get lucky with the numbers.
  • Magical Abortion: Alluded to during "sex education". Students aren't allowed to carry children, and Professor Potsdam warns everyone to take their own precautions against pregnancy or face punishment. She adds that if anyone's Green Magic isn't up to the task, they can come talk to her after class.
  • Magically Binding Contract: The sworn promise of a witch or wizard is completely binding, with dire consequences if broken.
  • Magitek: Utterly forbidden. Ellen tries to experiment and it nearly gets her expelled.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Damien!
  • Marriage Before Romance: The main character and Grabiner, if his romance route is taken.
  • Masquerade: Of the extra-strength variety based on some of the comments.
  • May–December Romance: You have the option to send a romantic valentine to Professor Potsdam. If you do, she turns you down. Not because she's old enough to be your mother or because a relationship between a student and teacher would be wrong, but because she doesn't want students thinking they can buy scholastic merits. She does seem genuinely flattered by the interest, though.
    • Also with Grabiner. It is never stated exactly how old he is, but he's probably lived many times longer than the player's sixteen years.
  • Meaningful Name: Damien shares a name with the kid from The Omen. They're both part-demon (although Potsdam calling Damien a cambion implies that his non-human parent is a succubus, not the Devil) and both evil.
    • If the PC meets Damien in the first week, she can even lampshade it.
    Mary Sue: "That's a sort of unfortunate name, isn't it? Especially with those wings. People might think you were a devil."
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Donald's problem, and the driving reason why he's such a trickster. William is The Ace and Virginia is the youngest, so his pranks are the only way means that he can use to stand out.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
  • My God, What Have I Done?: If the player is a member of the Rose and Wasp, they can choose to seek revenge on Kyo after he and Minnie have an explosive and public fight, but it goes very poorly and leads to Kyo injuring Jacob. While the player doesn't get caught, she is horrified at the unintended consequences of her actions.
    • Similar results if the player uses that membership to send William to fight Damien, after Damien betrays the player.
  • Must Have Caffeine: "Big Steve" Kenyon tends to be very irritable if he hasn't had his coffee.
  • Naïve Newcomer: The player character is this, as a witch born to non-magical parents, and most Wildseeds are this to a degree as well.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: The Divorce achievement in particular, which is difficult to reach but is probably the worst possible outcome for the player character. You can also get expelled if you get too many demerits or if you slack off on your studies in the early game.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity : Professor Potsdam is a lot more devious than she first appears.
  • Obviously Evil: If they meet during the first week, the protagonist lampshades the unfortunate fact that Damien looks suspiciously like a stereotypical evil demon. He comments that she shouldn't judge by appearances. Though in his case, his apperance is pretty much bang on the money.
  • Odd Couple: You have two roommates. Virginia is a Book Dumb junk-food-addict slob. Ellen is a quiet, studious neat freak who loves vegetables.
    • This isn't quite Tomboy and Girly Girl since as Horses they're both somewhat tomboyish. Ellen is more girly, but not drastically. However, Pastel is extremely girly, and she and Virginia are apparently friends.
  • Pair the Spares: If you don't romance either of them, Ellen and Donald may get together behind the scenes, surprising the protagonist at the final dance.
  • Parody Sue: The default character name is Mary Sue. The creator was having a bit of fun there.
  • Pastiche: Of Harry Potter Fan Fic. The setting is a Wizarding School where the students are assigned into animal-themed dorms based on personality traits, the protagonist is a teenager from an otherwise normal Muggle family who's now being introduced into a whole magical society on the other side of The Masquerade... there's even a Captain Ersatz of the common fangirl interpretation of Severus Snape in the person of Professor Grabiner. And, of course, the PC's default name is Mary Sue.
    • Not to mention Professor Potsdam, the cheerful, eccentric but surprisingly powerful female Dumbledore.
  • Parental Abandonment and Parental Neglect: The Masquerade reinforcement causes your parents - and the parents of every other Wildseed to forget that their kids are magical. In some cases, the spell hits so hard that the adults in question actually forget so hard that, at best, they forget why they care about the kid...and Ellen suspects that this is what's happened to her family. She later has Potsdam make them forget her completely and elects to stay at the school over the summer; if you've become close friends with her or are pursuing her romantically, you can offer to let her stay at your home during the summer - otherwise, you never even find out about the situation. More, it's implied from the way Virginia tells you this, that this is considered completely normal and justified by the born-witches.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Not all mages or magical creatures are male or female; some are asexual, hermaphroditic, have Bizarre Alien Sexes, or otherwise don't neatly fit into the human gender spectrum. Accordingly, Potsdam says that you should ask someone what they want to be called if you're not sure, and also mentions that mage society uses the gender-neutral Spivak pronoun system ("e" and "eir" for "he/she" and "his/hers," among others). It isn't a big deal in-game, however, with no such creatures actually appearing, aside from maybe the dungeon monsters in the exam segments.
    • Minnie uses the gender-neutral pronouns in a conversation with you if you're on the student council, in an attempt to conceal that she's asking for advice about her relationship with Kyo.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Potsdam appears to be this, while Grabiner comes across as a Jerk Ass. In their own way, they're both reasonable; Potsdam would rather remain hands-off and prefers to let students learn about the world through experience, while Grabiner focuses on protecting his students by terrorizing them when they come close to getting hurt. Grabiner is right that there are many dangers that students NEED to be scared away from, but Potsdam is right that some lessons can only be appreciated the hard way.
  • Revenge: The raison d'etre of the Rose and Wasp . However, their involvement almost always leads to something the player will regret.
  • Running Gag: "...Wait, is this going to be sex education!?"
  • Save Scumming: Given the multiple dialogue options, multiple game paths, and random nature of magic skill gains, this is pretty much required. Given that you can literally save everywhere, to 80 slots, this is also practically a game feature.
  • Scare 'em Straight: Professor Grabiner's preferred method of dealing with students, on the basis that having them all terrified of him is preferable to letting them get themselves killed by being careless with their magic.
  • Second Love: It's left open for interpretation, but the player may become this for Grabiner if she successfully sees his romance path through to the end.
  • Secret Character: As of the latest patch, Big Steve now has a partial romance path. Reaching it is much more difficult than any of the other characters.
  • Shotgun Wedding: The main conflict of Grabiner's route kicks off when he and the player character are forced to get married in order to avoid her getting eaten by a guardian spirit.
  • Shout-Out: The school play is The Small Place of Purchase of Frightening Things.
  • Spirit World: The Other World.
  • Squee!: Grabiner's romantic ending concludes with the protagonist going back to her dorm room to, in her own words, "squeal like a schoolgirl."
  • Stern Teacher: Professor Grabiner is a firm believer in scaring 'em straight. He comes down very hard on students in order to protect them by making sure they understand how dangerous magic can be, or - if that fails - by making them too scared of him to try anything too stupid on his watch.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Ellen starts to work on developing this on her route. It scares the crap out of the professors.
    • It's possible to determine that the real issue is her use of electronics.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When asked if you are dating Donald:
    Mary Sue: I am not currently dating your brother.
    Virginia: That's suspiciously speci-, spuspi- spefic- That's a very specific denial!
    • Despite the lampshade, it's really more a matter of Loophole Abuse. The emphasis is on currently, because at that point in time they haven't upgraded their relationship yet.
  • The Talk: Something of a Running Gag. Professor Potsdam will sometimes open a class sounding like she's about to lead into the talk, only for it to turn out to be something unrelated. She does eventually get round to it, kinda. Apparently there are no rules against any kind of love in Iris Academy, but no student is allowed to carry children.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Possible with Professor Grabiner, but must be approached very cautiously since he's not at all inclined to play along and will harshly reject any overt romantic gestures from the player, often with a hefty dose of demerits. Only at the very end of his path does he begin to show any real signs of reciprocating.
    • Parodied somewhat if you choose to send Professor Potsdam a romantic valentine on Valentine's Day. The way she turns you down implies that she's only doing it because she doesn't want students thinking they can buy favors.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Damien. Donald to a lesser extent.
  • Two-Teacher School: The only instructors we ever see are Professor Grabiner and Professor Potsdam. Word of God says there are more but they mostly teach the upper years.
  • Two-Timer Date: Possible if you were on Virginia's path and then accepted a date with Damien.
  • Urban Fantasy
  • The Un Favourite: Ellen's comments to Donald, when the topic of sibling rivalry comes up, suggest that she either was this or at least feels like she's this. Coming to Iris Academy doesn't seem to have improved matters much - her family tells her not to come home for Thanksgiving. She eventually has Potsdam just make them forget her entirely.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Damien and the protagonist, in his worst ending. The heroine becomes a bizarre magic eating vampire, but Damien realizes he genuinely does care for her and chooses to bring her along to search for a cure - and take their revenge on the world.
  • Villainous BSoD: Damien kind of loses it for a while after his feelings for the protagonist make him unable to go through with his evil scheme.
  • Wizarding School: The setting of the game.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Happens very late into Damien's path if you try to appeal to Potsdam to let him back in for the May Ball. She not only refuses but very gently chews you out for even asking, pointing out that what he did might have been technically legal, but he still nearly killed you and he'd be expelled for that alone even if his deed isn't on the books as being expulsion-worthy (and if it isn't, she'll add it). On top of that, you realize - too late - that you just got told off in front of the entire school, and Virginia and Ellen very quickly find out. They are not happy to hear that you're even talking with Damien again after what he did to you, and refuse to listen to any justifications. They even kick you out of the room for good, only letting you back at night so you can sleep and their very justified fury carries all the way into the final exam - which they will deliberately throw unless you promise to break up with him right then and there. And breaking that promise deprives you of your magic - refusing to make it at all means that your entire Hall is so disgusted with you that the only option for you is to be moved to Snake Hall. "Perhaps the girls there will be more understanding of your choices."
    • You can get this from Minnie too, if you successfully campaigned for Treasurer and try to cast Empathy on her when she comes to you with a problem. Turns out that doing that kind of thing is considered a bit rude in magical culture.
    • If you completely foul up an exam, Grabiner will pointedly ask just what the hell you thought you were doing, and remind you that the professors won't always be there to save your hide.
    • If you try to use magic to rig the claw machine at the mall, you'll get a lecture from Potsdam, along with some demerits.
  • You Didn't Ask: When trying to find a loophole in a Magically Binding Contract, nobody thinks to ask Ellen for help. It's first mentioned to her after a solution is worked out, and she (of course) saw it instantly.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Many of the characters have unusual hair colors. You can give your character one, too.
  • You Lose at Zero Trust: If you have any remaining personal issues with your roommates going into the final exam, you can instantly fail unless you're able to hash things out then and there.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: What Damien is trying to accomplish.


Example of: