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'' The second you make that choice, the door to the dark room slams shut. You run to the door and try the handle, but it's locked. You jiggle it, try to wrench and pry it open, call for help, bang loudly, even body-slam it when you get desperate enough... all the while the already dark room grows darker. You can no longer see the light that was once peering through cracks in the door. You can no longer find the window...

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''A chill runs up your spine... or was that a hand? A long, slender, almost bony hand claps over your mouth before you can scream. Several more hands, fingers, and arms reach out from the blackness and grasp each of your limbs, around your waist, hips, chest, around your neck, squeezing, clawing, clutching.

You struggle, but you cannot escape, and you cannot even cry out when their fingertips pierce your skin, drawing blood, stealing your life from you... "Greeeed... wantwantWANTWANT, a want for more, a want for all, we sense it, yesyesYES, we know...tasty little flesh-ling... you are one of us." ''
A Game of Life and Death

A Game of Life and Death is the first in a series of Choose your own adventure stories by an author under the screen name Kiel_Farren. It was created on Choose Your Story, a free website allowing anyone to publish their own, (also free,) stories for everyone to play and for any other member to critique.

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The game revolves around the reader's character, as expected. The reader's story incarnation is introduced as an average seeming high-school student of ambiguous gender, (though the reader is allowed to choose gender later if they progress far enough,) who is currently in trouble with his/her parents and the school due to being framed by a bully for vandalism.

This initial frame-work appears to be there only to establish a false sense of normalcy because the genre of the story is horror/supernatural/mystery/puzzle (with some humor/drama/romance/sci-fi thrown in) and the majority of the story takes place in an allegedly haunted house. The house isn't just haunted, however, it's also filled with vampires, doppelgangers, cannibals, sorceresses, an evil scientist, and even a dinosaur...

Your ultimate goal? Survival. Not just yours, but also that of your best friends, Layne and Melissa.

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The deaths range from surprisingly gruesome to fairly creative and humorous and the endings range from tragic to triumphant over a span of 800+ pages. A sequel, with the working title, "Devil's Chess" is also currently in the works, with Layne L. Gray—the male best friend of the protagonist—as the main character. A prequel, Temple of Fate, stars the female best friend, Melissa N. Mors and is also being worked on.

This is part of Kiel Farren's "horror series" and is the first installment. The known titles are:

The story was unpublished from Choose Your Story by the author after his exit from the site, along with The Other World. As far as the site knows, the author hasn't published it anywhere else, thereby making it a lost work.

See also


A Game of Life and Death provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Played straight. You get the option to call the cops at one point, but they believe you're just pranking them. Your parents, while not horribly unreasonable, have yet to do anything productive for any of your scenarios as to your survival. Your principal and teachers do not even make real cameos. It appears like this will be subverted in the case of Layne's mother in one scene... but it's not. She marches in to save her son, only to be far too late and to be violently murdered in an equally gruesome way.
  • A God Am I: Included in a speech from the Big Bad
  • Alliterative Name: The two best friends of the main character, "Melissa N. Mors" and "Layne L. Gray" (though it's not known what either middle initial stands for.)
  • Baleful Polymorph: Happens to You and Layne AND Melissain separate endings of the story.
  • Big Bad: There is some confusion over who, exactly, this is. The confusion is because, it would seem that the brains behind any evil plot here is the witch's daughter, but in two paths your final fight is actually her vampire servant. In one ending, it shows his resentment of being under her control, and he takes her powers. However, in the alternate ending, the witch's ghost is your enemy in the final fight.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: The "semi-good" ending is this. You manage to save Layne and Melissa, but Melissa still dies years later due to the cure you gave her. It, albeit very slowly, turns her into a monstrous undead and you are then forced to kill her, much to her gratitude.
  • Black Comedy: It is a horror story with a comedy tag, so the narration shows shades of this often.
  • Blood Lust: The vampires in the house certainly have this trope down, but the witch does, too.
  • But Thou Must!: See Refusal of the Call
  • Chekhov's Gun: The completed Coyote Medallion.
  • Child Eater: Implied for most of the villains, if teens are included in the term "child."
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Depending on your choices, Layne is this to your character. (Yes, even if your character is a guy, this is still a viable option... )
  • Cozy Voice for Catastrophes: Done for a few scenes.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: See "Bittersweet ending" above.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Several paths lead to these, some of them aren't even deaths of your character. (These include: Dying of a rare and extinct disease, roasted slowly in an oven, crushed slowly under a large stone slab into a bloody pulp, ripped into several pieces by a group of evil spirits, fried to a crisp with magic, turned into a frog and eaten, frozen solid by a vat of nitrogen, presumably being skinned alive by a Doppelgänger, and more.)
  • Death Trap: The haunted house is pretty much this. Almost every room either tries to kill you, automatically kills you, or leads to something that can.
  • Demonic Possession: This is why Evil Weapons should be avoided at all cost.
  • Descending Ceiling: There's a booby trap with one of these behind the fireplace.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Seems to be the motivation for the witch's actions.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: One or two reader has claimed to feel they received this upon going home, (as it results in the death of two people) but Word of God states that it was never really intended as retribution... "No. In reality, your character isn't to blame for simply going home. It's just, bad things are already happening that day, and if your character doesn't intervene, they just... continue being bad." See Refusal of the Call ...
  • Driven to Suicide: Happens in more than one ending. The goriest way being— when you are possessed by the witch, and you can decide to slit your own throat in defiance to stop her from killing Layne.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The game basically demands you do this or it -will- find a way to punish you for it. Your milage may vary on whether or not they are really punishments, though.
  • Emergency Transformation: One of the many fates of Melissa N. Mors.
  • Empty Room Psych: Somewhat subverted with the dining room. There is nothing useful in it... if you don't count the vague hint in the china cabinet and the fact that you can only walk outside into the backyard from that room.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: The vampire... until he reveals his true form.
  • Evil Weapon: Subverted with the spirit weapons. Played straight with the ceremonial dagger in the basement.
  • Face Stealer: Played straight, and with a lovely dose of fridge horror.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The story starts pretty casually. You had a lousy day at school, you got picked on by a Jerkass, you're going to be grounded by your parents, oh, and One of your friends has Ebola and the other is desperate to find a cure.
  • Eye Scream: If the witch's minions descend on Layne, the resulting scene involves a brief, but very nasty one of these.
  • Find the Cure!: One of the main points driving the plot.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Initially played straight, but surprisingly subverted if you choose to look in the bathroom mirror at the witch's house. It is there that you also choose your gender.
  • Gay Option: If you choose to be a guy, you can still choose to be in love with Layne, and if you decide your character is a girl, you can also choose to be in love with the female friend, Melissa. This choice seems to be a running theme in the author's works, though he, himself, is reportedly straight.
  • Giant Spider: A clearly mutated / enchanted version.
  • Gorn: Enough to make you feel that the author is somewhat sadistic, if not inventive.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Averted in one of the path ways where an image of a vampire's latest victim is displayed in all its bloody glory.
  • Grand Theft Me: Depending on the paths you take, this can happen to not only one, but two main characters.
  • Have a Nice Death: Many of the death scenes are like this, resulting in a good majority of the humor of the story.
  • Heroic BSoD: You get one if you witness the deaths of both Layne and his mother because your character feels completely responsible for them, and as a result... well...
  • Hot Witch: The daughter of the older, dead witch, as seen in the picture above.
  • Idiot Ball: Some of the choices you can make allow you to hold it, (say by drinking a bottle marked poison, or just standing in front of oncoming traffic) or pass it off to someone else. Subverted briefly when your character actually drops it of their own volition, refusing to follow your choice.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Both the witch and her daughter are confirmed to be this.
  • Interactive Narrator: This occurs in the grave yard scene.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: Invoked with the Medallion pieces.
  • It Was a Gift: An odd example is found in Layne's favorite hoodie, as it was a gift from your character to Layne, yet it ends up in your possession. Word of God states that there are some pathways that are not available without it.
  • Karmic Death: Oh, definitely played straight, sometimes in combination with hoist by his own petard
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Literally AND figuratively played straight. Figuratively when Layne is despairing about your character being controlled by the witch, she "kindly" offers to make him her mind-controlled slave for all eternity so he can stay beside the friend he devotedly loves... and literally if you choose a path that results with Layne collapsing / getting knocked down, (though it's more liked "stab them while they're down.")
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Sure, some of the deaths you cause are gruesome, but that doesn't mean that all of them are undeserved.
  • Lemony Narrator: Present in some scenes, particularly the graveyard where the Fourth Wall gets shot to hell.
  • Lethal Joke Item: Being the MacGyver your character is, more than one random item can prove lethal... but the most notable for this trope is definitely... The ice cream cones at the parlor. They are just regular ice cream, but if combined with poison, they're the easiest way to kill one of the main villains.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Initially played straight, then subverted. One of the puzzles gives you the option to try to stick your hand in-between some gears in order to stop a boobytrap that's trying to crush you, but if you choose this option, your character will question the sanity of the choice and insist that there has to be another way. You will also be asked to make this choice in a series of questions meant to test your character.
  • Load-Bearing Hero: Subverted. While your character has some athletic talent, you are definitely not one of these, and that fact can kill you.
  • Mad Scientist: The witch's husband, and to a far lesser, but notable extent, it is implied that the daughter is this as well.
  • Magic Is Evil: Played straight, and then, in some endings, subverted... only for a couple of paths to play it straight again.
  • Meaningful Name: Melissa N. Mors. Mors means "Death" in Latin. A good chunk of the plot development comes from your character finding out that she's dying from a mysterious illness. In one path, that's the whole reason you enter the witch's house. Amusingly, her middle name, "Nevah," which is revealed in the sequel, means 'life.' Layne L. Gray is possibly another example, with "Layne" meaning "path" and "Gray" suggesting uncertainty or ambiguity. His fate is the one you, as the player, get to screw with the most—other than your own. In the sequel, his middle name is revealed, which is "Liam" and it's appropriate because in the sequel, he's the hero of the story. What does 'Liam' mean, you ask? "Strong Willed Warrior."
  • Mind Control: A possible tragic fate for both you and Layne... but, you both can "get better" eventually.
  • Murder by Cremation: Just one of The Many Deaths of You
  • My God, What Have I Done??: You get a moment like this in one ending... and over a damn PIZZA, no less.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Making the wrong decisions can get you killed, your friends both killed, Layne's mother killed, your entire town killed, and even OVER HALF THE POPULATION OF THE PLANET KILLED.
  • No Name Given: This appears to be the case with the witch and her daughter. It is implied, by the title of their spell book, that their names are Vidia and Arabella, last name Hecate. Confirmed: The witch's name is Vidia. This is also the case with the mad scientist.
  • Plot Device All Along: Played absolutely straight with your backpack, of all things.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Happens to Layne, and arguably you, when Layne kills you both to save a young, innocent girl... after you've been possessed by the witch's ghost and you attempt to kill her, that is.
  • Refusal of the Call: Oh, sure... you can try to skip the adventuring and heroics and just go home like a normal high-schooler, but it ends very badly if you do. ("The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.")
  • Ritual Magic: Used on Layne in order to "stitch" the dead witch's soul to his body and allow her to possess him.
  • Save Scumming: You may need to try this... the creator even admits that this game was written with the old sierra games in mind, particularly the King's Quest series.
  • Sanity Slippage: Played straight when you start to succumb to the witch's control.
  • Shoot the Dog: Poor, poor Melissa.
  • Shown Their Work: Somewhat present, due to a surgical room in the haunted mansion and the fact that the author admits to a medical background. Also, Melissa is dying of a mysterious illness. Rather than your standard hand-wave of "She's just really sick, okay?" it's a real illness. Ebola. And it comes with a very odd, but fairly plausible explanation. Melissa's family's globe-trotting and father's research—which appears to be medical—apparently led to someone mailing them a vial of contaminated blood and bones from a—presumably diseased—creature. A monkey, perhaps? This was in the hopes of him developing a cure. Pity Melissa broke the vial and cut herself on it.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: See "Sanity Slippage."
  • Soap Opera Disease: Subverted, and pretty hard-core at that.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: While it's not a fate you suffer yourself, you see the victim of it... and it's not pretty.
  • Summoning Ritual: Multiple endings have this.
  • Take Over the World: This is ultimately the witch's plan.
  • Take a Third Option: The game allows for plenty of this, provided you have the right items handy.
  • The Chosen One: Your character is this, essentially. Not because you get any clear indication of being special, (though it's hinted at) but because, as the reader/player, your actions simply do decide the fate of your character, and in effect, everyone around you. This is somewhat subverted in the sequel because WordOfGod says it acts as both a "behind the scenes" and a "what if" for Layne being the hero of the story.
  • The Legend of Chekhov: Being a little genreblind your character automatically assumes that the legend of a witch's ghost haunting the haunted house is false, and though there are several supernatural creatures in it, the game seems to subvert this trope. In fact, in the original version, it DID subvert this trope... but then the basement level was added.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Possesses shades of this, to the point where the creator has admitted that a few deaths are to discourage you from trying certain things... but there are still safe zones and many pathways that don't lead to death, so it's not totally played straight.
  • Truth in Television: The "mysterious illness" is not only real... but in 1995, a Japanese terrorist cult used bags of a liquified nerve gas and bags of a solution that mixed with it to turn it back into gas form, all wrapped up in newspaper, and punctured them in the middle of crowded subway stations in Tokyo. Why is this relevant? The authorities raided their hide-out and found explosives, anthrax, EBOLA, and a Russian military helicopter. If it can be weaponized, why wouldn't it find its way to... wherever the protagonist lives? Not to mention the fact that, only one month before the game was published, an outbreak occurred in Africa.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Played straight more than once.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: While the game allows you to make several options, if you abandon Layne to the perils of the haunted house, it will scold you for it. It takes a surprisingly even more vindictive turn if you decide to get Layne in trouble, which... doesn't seem like the best of morals but as in most horror stories, the parents and local authorities do not believe you anyway. The scene where you abandon Layne, for example, scolds you thusly — "You're completely abandoning your best friend who's been faithfully devoted to you for as long as you can remember—which is close to two decades—without lifting a finger to help him... Wow. Some friend you are. Your guilt weighs on you the rest of the day, and... in the coming days, when you find out what happened to your dear friend... the rest of your life."
  • What the Hell, Player?: Essentially your character's response if you try to use his / her hand to stop a Death Trap.
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