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Visual Novel / The Confines of the Crown

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The Confines of the Crown, formerly titled The Royal Trap: The Confines of the Crown, is a Ren'Py-based English Visual Novel / Otome Game developed by Hanako Games. It features an unusually active heroine, and a twist on traditional gender roles. In this world, men rule, but women inherit. Property is passed to daughters, and from them to the control of their husbands. This means that the next king will be whoever the princess chooses as her husband... so any man with an eye for power has to catch the interest of the lady who controls it.

Which is where Madeleine comes in. Her job is to coach her employer, Prince Oscar, on how to be the sort of man that a princess would marry, while generally keeping him out of trouble.

Unfortunately, the princess he's supposed to be wooing disappears, and Oscar is labeled as the prime suspect.


Tropes specific to this game:

  • Action Girl: Madeleine's job requires her to be able to climb walls, pick locks, and, if absolutely necessary, fight to defend her charge. She's no soldier, however.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played straight in Callum's route.
  • Amnesiac Hero: In Nazagi's bad end, when Madeleine refuses his offer, he uses a potion to erase her memory of the week's events so that she can't reveal his plans.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Madeleine can give one to Oscar, when it seems like he's going to pull a You Shall Not Pass! on the peasants raiding the castle to let the others escape.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Prince Gaston.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Prince Nazagi has terrible vision without his glasses but refuses to wear them because he thinks no princess would find him attractive in spectacles.
  • Brick Joke: Early on in Nazagi's route, Madeleine jokingly mentions to him that the servants think he's a vampire. Later on, she finds out that some of the staff wholeheartedly believe this, to the point of carrying garlic on hand to 'ward' him away (they offer her some, too).
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  • Bridal Carry: Oscar does this to Madeleine in his good ending.
  • Cassandra Truth: Early in the game, Prince Callum's crazy theory that Princess Cassidy is actually his little brother Prince Caspian is dismissed as the thoughts of a grieving brother who refuses to let go of the past. It is actually bang on the money.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Oscar and Madeleine.
  • Changeling Fantasy: In Nazagi's route, it's theorized that Dolores is the true Princess Cassidy, though nothing is ever confirmed. In Callum's route, that theory is cleared up, but the truth zigzags this trope to high heaven. Dolores was raised by the Wisdom, and went under the name of Princess part of a plan to convince the public that the Wisdom had given birth to another child after Prince Caspian. In reality, she's the daughter of one of the Wisdom's ladies in waiting.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Gaston.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Madeleine pretends to be this as part of the plan to rob the Royal Treasury.
  • Damsel in Distress: Princess Cassidy spends a lot of the story being kidnapped or otherwise locked up.
    • Madeleine becomes this for a brief period of time, after she's blamed for the kidnapping of Princess Cassidy and thrown in the palace dungeons.
  • The Dandy: Prince Gaston, oh yes.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: There is a rumor circulating around the peasantry that the true Princess Cassidy died in childhood, and the current one is an impostor. The imposter Cassidy part is true...but not in the way most would think.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dolores is the most common offender, but Madeleine, Callum, and Nazagi do get in on the action occasionally.
  • Diving Save: This is how Dolores saves Cassidy from an assassin.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The trap set by royalty, and the trap of being royalty.
  • The Dreaded: Nazagi has this reputation among the palace staff, partly because he is Not Good with People, partly because he looks rather intimidating, and partly because he's a farmakeist.
  • Dual Wielding: Madeleine fights with a pair of daggers.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Cassidy wears one when she gets married to Gaston, while Madeleine wears one when she weds Callum. In both cases it's justified, since they're royal weddings. Madeleine's dress when she marries Oscar is a more toned down, Simple, yet Opulent affair.
  • Foreshadowing: All over the place.
    • When Cassidy is first introduced, Madeleine mentions that it is rather hard to tell a noblewoman's exact age. This is a rather good thing for Cassidy, as no one will notice that she's a few years older than she's supposed to be.
    • Gaston gets very upset when Madeleine brings up the topic of wigs with him. While at first this may seem like he's panicking about being found with a Cassidy wig, later on in his route it's revealed that that wonderful head of hair of his is fake; he is completely bald.
    • When she's disguised as Cassidy, Madeleine notices that Nazagi takes an awfully long time to kiss her hand. After you play his route, you realize that this alludes to his rather bad eyesight.
  • For The Money: This is Dolores's ambition for most of the game, mainly because her lifetime goal is to be self sufficient on her own lands. Her first attempt to earn coin is ransoming Cassidy off to Callum, and then when that fails and she learns of the royal family's debt of honor to her, she sticks around hoping they'll give her some sort of reward due to that.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Prince Callum is one, though at the time when the game takes place he mainly builds things as a hobby. His epilogue implies that he's moved onto making it a part time profession.
  • Gender Bender: 'Princess' Cassidy was originally Prince Caspian, the youngest son of the Gwellinor royal family. However, the Wisdom could bear no more children after Caspian, which was a problem as the family had no daughters to ensure the succession would not fall into the hands of the Wisdom's scheming sister and her offspring. When their youngest son showed signs of a feminine personality, it was decided that a princess would be made instead. Caspian was separated from his siblings, under the guise of him dying from illness, and was given potions in order to give him some of the physical features of a woman. And thus, Princess Cassidy was born.
  • Gilded Cage: Cassidy's life in the palace. This is heavily lampshaded in Oscar's route. In a strange way, this applies to Dolores as well.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Prince Gaston clearly thinks so, from his comments about Madeleine and his maid Colette.
    • So does the guard who's distracted by the bathing scene.
  • Good All Along: During a good part of the game, it looks like Duke Pherod is trying to get rid of Cassidy and is the instigator of the uprising against the royal family. He's not. In some paths, he actually saves Cassidy's life. The uprising was in fact caused by his mother-in-law, indirectly.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The game gives just gems like 'corkhead', 'for soils' sake' and 'you motherless son'.
    • Dolores in particular comes across as charmingly vulgar without actually swearing at all.
  • Heir Club for Men: Inverted - inheritance is only passed down through the female line, so, despite having older brothers, Princess Cassidy is the heir of Gwellinor, and the next in line is her female cousin.
  • Heir-In-Law: It's a matter of law that sons-in-law inherit, not direct sons, who are expected to marry into power of their own.
  • Happily Married: Happens to Madeleine in both Oscar's and Callum's endings. Cassidy and Gaston become this at the end of his route, and the epilogue of Callum's good end hints that this will be the fate of Cassidy and Oscar.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Madeleine is in charge of keeping Oscar from falling on his face before he finds a wife. In Gaston's route, she serves as this for him instead. In Callum's route, she and he are equals, while in Nazagi's route, she's clearly subordinate in both position and political acumen.
  • I Have Your Wife: Callum gets Madeleine to swear an oath of servitude to him by holding Oscar hostage.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Princess Cassidy is so pure, sheltered, and unsullied that she has no clue about the biological differences between men and women. This was intentionally done, since if she knew, she'd have some serious questions to ask about her original sex.
  • Informed Attribute: Madeleine's spying abilities are never put to good use, since every time she tries she gets caught in the act. The only time she seems to be able to use stealth is climbing the outside of the castle, which never seems to be watched at all.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Madeleine says this word for word when questioned about why she apparently kidnapped Cassidy in Nazagi's route. Though this is mainly because she can't remember the official version of events.
  • Interface Spoiler: Reaching any ending shows the list of possible endings, including some that might not have been obvious options. Subverted in Gaston's case because he is not actually a romance option, and the real option on his path isn't listed at all.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Callum is extremely protective of Cassidy. He was also this to Caspian, before he died.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Madeleine can let Oscar down gently by telling him she sees him as a brother. Since this scene is skipped in Callum's route, she is forced to let him down later. If she doesn't use this trope to do so, the happy ending is altered to show that their relationship was basically destroyed to the point where Oscar outright hates her.
  • Large Ham: Prince Gaston.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Prince Nazagi. Oscar tried to be this in his backstory, but eventually gave up and hacked the whole lot off.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Dolores is a servant, but she grew up in an orphanage, and has the delightfully common touch of her upbringing to show for it. She's much smarter than the stereotype would indicate, though.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: In order to ensure succession, it is vital that the Wisdom produces a female heir. However, Princess Cassidy is completely unable to bear children, due to possessing male genitalia. This becomes a vital plot point on Nazagi's route; his solution is to have Madeleine bear his children instead. In the other routes, it's only briefly addressed.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Level-headed Action Girl Madeleine and somewhat dreamy, impractical poet Oscar fit this well. Oscar becomes a better fighter and somewhat more sensible during his route, but keeps his dreaminess and love for poetry.
  • The Matchmaker: It's Madeleine's job to be this for Oscar, though she only succeeds in pairing him with Cassidy during the epilogue of Callum's good end and some of Oscar's not so good endings. In Gaston's route, she becomes this for Cassidy and Gaston instead.
    • In Nagazi's route, after he theorizes that Dolores is the real Princess Cassidy, Madeleine can take some actions to try to make her sweet on him.
  • The Mistress: Madeleine becomes Nazagi's after he marries Cassidy and becomes king. This arrangement is essential as Cassidy, being transgender, cannot produce children, so the duty falls to Madeleine. All parties consent to this arrangement, and Madeleine is given the highest position of power possible in the Royal Court, and is treated as an equal to the Royal Family behind closed doors. Also, since this is his best end, it is heavily implied that, in time, Madeleine and Nazagi will fall in love, while both Nazagi and Madeleine will either become Platonic Life-Partners with Cassidy or end up in a threesome with her.
  • Moment Killer:
    • Dolores in Callum's route. Eventually both he and Madeleine learn to tune her out.
    • Oscar in Nazagi's route.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Oscar's route, his and Cassidy's decision to publicly reveal that she was targeted by an assassin is very definitely this. While it does help to free Madeleine, it also sparks widespread panic among the castle residents, causes the guards to go on a witch hunt to find any more conspirators (which leads to the death of an innocent maid), and eventually leads to the castle being stormed by peasants.
  • Ninja Maid: Madeleine's job is something close to this, although with a different flavor. She does similar jobs, but doesn't have the demeanour of a maid.
  • Not Good with People: Prince Nazagi, mainly due to the fact that his sight is so bad without glasses that he can't read visual cues, like emotions or body language. He usually gets his valet to do the talking for him.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Once all of the misunderstandings are cleared up, Callum and Cassidy's parents are presented as pretty good people who did what they had to do out of love for the realm and their children. This despite pulling a Gender Bender gambit on Caspian/Cassidy (a very young child who wasn't in any position to consent), and using Dolores in said gambit before abandoning her at an orphanage. Their mother offers the justification that Caspian was already showing signs of considering himself a girl, but this is a flimsy justification at best, as there are many children who show signs of gender variance but don't turn out to be transgender, and Cassidy herself isn't able to verify whether this is true or not. That said, they do express regret about their actions, and seem to have genuinely acted out of love for Cassidy.
  • Out of Focus/A Day in the Limelight: The story ends up centering around whichever prince you align with. However, Nazagi and Gaston only make two minor appearances early in the game, and practically disappear from the plot if you don't take their respective routes.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Cassidy and Gaston, if you follow his route. Even though their engagement is very sudden, Cassidy outright admits to Madeleine that she could fall in love with him in time, and Gaston has been smitten with her since before arriving at the palace, going to the point of writing a heap of romantic letters to her.
  • Pressure Point: One of Nazagi's skills.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Cassidy and Callum.
  • Princess Classic: Princess Cassidy is kind, forgiving, and rather too innocent. She wears a pretty pink dress, loves flowers and poetry, and is completely non-violent. It's still a subversion.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Everything about Cassidy is practically drowning in pink, from her clothes to her room. What better way to reinforce the idea of a ultra-feminine Princess Classic? Her parents wanted to be very sure everyone saw her as a girl.
  • Raised as the Opposite Gender: What Prince Callum thinks happened to his little brother Caspian, which is why he's trying to rescue 'Caspian' from that fate. However, it's more complicated than that. See Gender Bender for a more expansive explanation.
  • Rescue Romance: A very minor variant happens if you follow Oscar's route, as he and Madeleine first met after she rescued him from a cellar.
  • Rose-Haired Sweetie: Cassidy has bright pink hair and is the kindest character in the game. Subverted with the sour Dolores, though her ending reveals a softer side to her.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Prince Oscar and Prince Callum. Princess Cassidy eventually proves herself to be this, too.
  • Scar Survey: Nazagi has numerous scars on his body, which are the the results of failed attempts to improve his sight. Madeleine can find this out in his route after he (apparently) absentmindedly walks into her room and starts stripping.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: A noble woman is expected to act this way as her husband's Wisdom. Princess Cassidy is the best example; beneath her tender exterior is a strong young woman, who, depending on the route, might give herself up to a mob to protect her companions or abdicate the throne because she thinks it's right for her country. Madeleine even describes her in these terms.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Madeleine and Dolores in Dolores' happy ending. Dolores also does this in Callum's normal end.
  • Schmuck Bait: Madeleine can kiss Callum after telling Dolores that they aren't involved. If you then try to get Dolores to trust you at the end of her route, she will lead Madeleine into a lethal trap instead of helping her run away.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Prince Callum.
  • True Blue Femininity: While Madeleine is definitely an Action Girl, she is far from a tomboy, and the blue dress she wears is clearly meant to highlight this.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: Though in Madeleine's case, it's more like unable to support a husband. It's a recurring theme of the game that Madeleine will bring up in every route regardless of who she goes after. This is the main reason why she's so against marrying Oscar at the start, since they'll both enter the marriage without anything to their name (Oscar due to the fact that inheritance is passed through the female line, and Madeleine because she's the second daughter of a minor noble house), and, since neither is trained in a profession, they'll likely suffer from extreme poverty. Even if she is aiming for Nazagi or Callum, she still needs an estate or position to be considered for noble marriage. She can play it completely straight with a wife in Gaston's route, worrying about whether she can support herself, and not be a burden on Colette. The problem is only avoided on Dolores route, where Madeleine decides to just steal the money they need to start their own farm, and Dolores teaches her agriculture and how to live off the land.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Robbing the Royal Treasury. The plan isn't clear to the player until after it's already completed.
  • Upper-Class Twit:
    • Prince Gaston shows almost no indications of intelligence throughout the story, and is dependent on Colette (and possibly Madeleine) to keep him from falling on his face.
    • Oscar is much less capable than Madeleine would like him to be, especially outside of his own route. His route gives him more character development, where he becomes more independent, and shows Madeleine a more sympathetic view of him, but even then he can prove fairly ineffective. In all other routes, he can come off as innocently rash at best, or a whiny pain in the ass at worst. Justified because Madeleine has been taking care of him for all of his life, and her over-protectiveness ended up hurting his abilities in the long run.
  • Uptown Girl: Gender-inverted. Madeleine insists she can't marry Oscar because he's a prince and she's a servant with no inheritance.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can read Oscar's love confession to you, and then proceed to treat him like absolute crap. If you don't line up another alliance, though, you'll be in trouble.
  • Women Are Wiser: The setting's justification for having daughters receive the family property, and give their "wisdom" to their husbands.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Madeleine and Nazagi play on this in order to let Nazagi slip out of his room without an escort; Madeleine pretends Nazagi got angry enough to strike her, and then he gets the obviously concerned guard to stay with her instead while he (apparently) stalks off in a huff.
    • Callum has no problem using violence against women if the situation calls for it, including 'sparring' with Madeleine, and nearly strangling Dolores. Oscar tries, but is a little more reluctant to grapple with her effectively.
  • Wutai: Prince Nazagi's homeland.
  • Yuri Fan: Prince Gaston would really like to watch his maid play with another woman, and is fully supportive of her actually getting a girlfriend.

Alternative Title(s): The Royal Trap