“H.A.I.A.N” is a narrative-driven game set in Heian Japan, where players take on the role of Saki, a young court lady trying to rise in rank and status through spreading rumors and navigating the complex social hierarchy of the court. As Saki, players must make decisions that can either advance or hinder their progress, as well as complete side quests that involve traditional Japanese activities such as playing games, doing art, and participating in Shinto and Buddhist worship. However, Saki soon discovers that her friend and mentor, Lady Murasaki, is actually the main villain of the game, and has been manipulating her all along.


Saki stepped into the grand hall of the imperial palace, her heart racing with excitement and trepidation. This was her chance to make an impression on the court, to prove her worth and climb the ranks of the aristocracy.

As she walked through the hall, she saw several courtiers gathered in small groups, chatting and laughing. Some glanced at her curiously, while others ignored her completely. Saki took a deep breath and approached a group of young nobles who seemed to be engaged in a lively discussion.

“Excuse me,” she said, bowing politely. “May I join you?”

One of the nobles looked her up and down, his expression haughty. “And who might you be?”

“I am Saki,” she replied, trying to sound confident. “A new member of the court.”

The nobles exchanged glances, and Saki felt a knot form in her stomach. She had to make a good impression, or else she would be dismissed as a mere commoner.

Option 1: Flatter them “I am honored to be in the presence of such distinguished nobles,” Saki said, bowing again. “Your reputation precedes you, and I have heard many tales of your wit and charm.”

Consequence 1: They warm up to her The nobles smiled, pleased with her flattery. “Well, we do have a certain reputation,” one of them said, chuckling. “But it’s good to see that our fame has spread.”

Option 2: Be assertive “I don’t need to impress you to prove my worth,” Saki said, her voice steady. “I am here to serve the court, not to curry favor with a few pompous nobles.”

Consequence 2: They are insulted The nobles scowled, offended by her blunt words. “Who does she think she is?” one of them muttered. “We should report her to the court for disrespect.”

Option 3: Try to join their conversation Saki cleared her throat and tried to inject herself into the conversation. “I couldn’t help overhearing your discussion,” she said. “What is it that you find so amusing?”

Consequence 3: They are indifferent The nobles glanced at her briefly before returning to their conversation, ignoring her attempts to join in. Saki felt embarrassed and frustrated, wondering if she would ever be accepted into their circle.

Option 4: Insult them Saki frowned and shook her head. “I see that the rumors about the arrogance of the courtiers are true,” she said. “I have no desire to waste my time with such insufferable company.”

Consequence 4: They are angered The nobles scowled, insulted by her words. “How dare you speak to us like that?” one of them snapped. “We’ll make sure the court knows about your rudeness.”

There are always consequences…

Depending on which option the player chooses, Saki’s reputation and standing in the court could be affected in different ways. Will she win the favor of these nobles and gain new allies, or will she make enemies and face the consequences of her actions? It’s up to the player to decide, and to navigate the complex social dynamics of Heian Japan’s court.

Path 1: Attend to Court Duties

As a court lady, your primary responsibility is to attend to the needs of the empress and other members of the court. You may choose to focus on your duties, improving your skills in calligraphy, poetry, and music. This will earn you favor with the empress and may lead to greater opportunities and promotions within the court.

Path 2: Engage in Court Intrigue

The imperial court is rife with political maneuvering and gossip. You may choose to engage in court intrigue, using your charm and wit to gain allies and manipulate your enemies. This path may lead to greater power and influence within the court, but it also carries risks.

Path 3: Train in Combat

As tensions rise within the court, you begin to feel the need to defend yourself. You may choose to train in combat, honing your skills with a sword or bow. This path may lead to exciting battles and victories, but it also carries the risk of offending those who value courtly grace and elegance above all else.

Path 4: Seek Romance

The imperial court is a hotbed of romantic intrigue. You may choose to seek out a potential partner, using your charm and beauty to win their affections. This path may lead to a grand love affair, but it also carries the risk of scandal and heartbreak.

No matter which path you choose, your actions will have consequences. Will you rise to the top of the court hierarchy, or will you fall from grace? The choice is yours in Haian Nights

Saki Encounters Murasaki Shikibu

Saki stands before Lady Murasaki, a woman of great beauty and influence in the court. Lady Murasaki eyes Saki up and down, taking in her appearance.

“Ah, Saki, the new lady-in-waiting,” Lady Murasaki says with a small smile. “I’ve heard much about you.”

Saki nods politely. “Thank you for having me, Lady Murasaki.”

Lady Murasaki steps closer to Saki and lowers her voice. “Now, I’m sure you’ve heard that there are whispers of a plot against the emperor. We need someone discreet to gather information and spread rumors to counteract these plots. Do you think you’re up to the task?”

Saki hesitates, unsure of what to say. She knows that spreading rumors can be a dangerous game, but she also knows that this is her chance to gain favor and rise in rank. She considers her options carefully.

Option 1: “I am honored, Lady Murasaki. I will do everything in my power to serve you and the emperor.”

Consequence 1: Lady Murasaki nods, pleased. “Good. I knew I could count on you. Your loyalty will not go unnoticed.”

Option 2: “I’m sorry, Lady Murasaki, but I don’t feel comfortable spreading rumors.”

Consequence 2: Lady Murasaki’s smile fades. “I see. I’m disappointed, but I understand. Perhaps you’re not cut out for court life after all.”

Option 3: “I am willing to spread rumors, but only if they are true and just.”

Consequence 3: Lady Murasaki considers Saki’s words. “I appreciate your honesty and integrity. Very well, you may choose which rumors to spread, as long as they serve the greater good.”

Option 4: “I would like to gather more information before committing to anything.”

Consequence 4: Lady Murasaki nods. “I understand. Information is key. Take your time, but don’t take too long. The fate of the court rests on your shoulders.”

Potential Branches

Act 1: Arrival at Court

  • Branch 1: During your initial meeting with Lady Murasaki, you have the option to express trust in her or express suspicion of her motives.
  • Branch 2: You can choose to spend time with Lady Murasaki and her allies, or explore the court and make allies of your own.
  • Branch 3: Your choices in how you spend your time affect your initial reputation and standing within the court.

Act 2: Uncovering the Plot

  • Branch 1: You can choose to investigate Lady Murasaki’s behavior, or ignore any suspicions you may have.
  • Branch 2: Depending on your reputation and alliances, you may have different avenues of investigation available to you.
  • Branch 3: Your investigation may lead to different pieces of evidence and revelations about Lady Murasaki’s plans.

Act 3: Choosing a Side

  • Branch 1: After gathering evidence, you can choose to side with Lady Murasaki and aid her plot, or turn against her and work to stop her.
  • Branch 2: Depending on your alliances and reputation, you may have different options for how to act on your choice.
  • Branch 3: Your actions in this act will affect your reputation and alliances moving forward.

Act 4: The Final Confrontation

  • Branch 1: If you sided with Lady Murasaki, you can choose to betray her and stop her plot at the last moment, or continue to aid her to the end.
  • Branch 2: If you turned against her, you can choose to expose her plot publicly, or try to stop her quietly.
  • Branch 3: The outcome of the confrontation will depend on your choices and alliances throughout the game.

Epilogue: Aftermath and Reflection

  • Branch 1: Depending on the outcome of the final confrontation, you may receive different rewards or punishments.
  • Branch 2: You can reflect on your choices and their consequences throughout the game.
  • Branch 3: You can choose to continue playing the game and exploring the court, building new alliances and pursuing new goals.

Historical integrity remains central to H.A.I.A.N: The Pillow Book. Incorporating historical and factual evidence from Japanese material culture will greatly enhance the immersive and representative nature of “H.A.I.A.N”. Here are some ideas:

  1. Accurate depictions of clothing and accessories: Heian Japan was known for its extravagant and colorful clothing. Accurately depicting the clothing worn by court ladies and nobles can add a layer of authenticity to the game. The use of accessories such as fans, combs, and hairpins can also reflect the culture of the time period.
  2. Depiction of traditional Japanese games: Shogi, go, and sugoroku were popular games during Heian Japan. By incorporating these games as side quests or mini-games, players can get a glimpse of the leisure activities of the time period.
  3. Depiction of traditional Japanese art: Calligraphy, painting, and flower arranging were also popular activities during Heian Japan. By allowing players to participate in these activities, they can gain insight into the aesthetics and cultural values of the time period.
  4. Accurate depiction of architecture and environment: Heian Japan was known for its elaborate architecture and gardens. By accurately depicting these structures and environments, players can feel as though they are truly immersed in the world of Heian Japan.
  5. Historical characters and events: Incorporating historical characters and events can add another layer of authenticity to the game. For example, the game could feature actual courtiers and nobles who lived during the Heian period, or events such as the construction of the Byodo-in temple.

The Characters speak for themselves:

Oshukubai, Heian Period Tale Of The Nightingale In The Plum is a drawing by Shigemasa, Kitao (1739-1820), Japanese which was uploaded on December 23rd, 2016.
  • “Some days I feel like a haiku, other days like a tanka. But most days, I’m just a senryu pretending to be a waka.”
  • “If life is a game of go, then love is a game of shogi: full of unexpected moves and the constant threat of a sudden checkmate.”
  • “I tried to write a novel once, but it turned out to be a pillow book. I guess I just can’t resist a good list.”
  • “I may be a lady-in-waiting, but that doesn’t mean I have to wait for anyone to tell me what to do. Except maybe my cat.”
  • “They say that the pen is mightier than the sword, but have you ever tried to write with a katana? It’s not easy, let me tell you.”
  • “A poet’s heart is like a cherry blossom: beautiful, fleeting, and likely to cause hay fever.”
  • “I once wrote a letter so beautiful that it made the recipient cry. Of course, it was a bill collector and they were crying because I still hadn’t paid.”
  • “I may be a lady, but that doesn’t mean I can’t kick butt. Just ask the last guy who tried to mansplain waka to me.”
  • “People often ask me what the key to happiness is. I tell them: a good cup of tea and a well-crafted tanka.”
  • “I like my men like I like my poetry: deep, meaningful, and with a strict syllable count

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