Hadean Lands post-completion discussion (spoilers galore!)

Well, or that it can stay still while worlds move around it. Either way. :wink:

I was thinking about this game and rereading this thread today, and I wondered, “Why is the game written this way? Why isn’t there more information about why things are the way they are? Why does the picture have to be so dang fuzzy?”

I do not presume to speak for the author (nor am I challenging him), but I thought: “Because it’s really, really hard to write a scenario that plausibly, comprehensively, and satisfyingly justifies the very specific and idiosyncratic mechanics that make the game interesting.” Especially since the player has just proven their interest in analyzing and testing a given system, and the explanation has to satisfy them. Better to suggest the range of possible values than give a precise but knowingly inaccurate measurement.

Eh, this is just the way Zarf does it. Play Shade if you haven’t already; it also avoids spelling out the plot in detail. Interpreting the plot is the final puzzle.

In general, “show, don’t tell” is more satisfying if done correctly and…

…also employs the reader/player’s imagination, increasing immersion and obviates the whole “okay, here’s what’s going down…” part that risks telling the reader their ideas are wrong about the scenario.

Stuck at home social distancing. I have now won the game with the ballast in 9 resets.

An apprentice bringing a marcher back to life… it should not be possible. But you will have a notion, a fragment of memory, that help will arrive. Repairs will be made.

*** You will begin ***

[In the course of this game, you reset the world 9 times – 2 involuntarily.]

The six critical resources are the four elements (air, earth, fire, water), orichalcum, and mercury. In the steps below, when I use a critical resource, I represent it as (a e f w o m).

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. get air (o), open Deck Suite cabinet (but not Medical Wing Cabinet), make billet, Great Marriage (a e f w)
  2. open Storage Nook hatch (e o), Vacuum Protection, learn Tortoise, learn Radix, learn Caudex (m)
  3. learn Calyx (m), get air (o), open Medical Wing Cabinet (a), fix Baros (e f w)
  4. enter Chancel (e f w o)
  5. access Baros via Pneuma (e f o), fix Pneuma (m)
  6. diamond marble solvent, Yang Oil, get fourth glyph behind alien window (e o m)
  7. access Maze Center (e f o), fix Aistheta (m)
  8. fix Syndesis (w o m)
  9. perform Great Marriage in the Chancel (a e f w o m)

Here are the key insights:

  • The ephemeris billet coordinates aren’t randomized, so you can just dial in the billet coordinates directly based on a previous playthrough. This is cheating, I suppose, but it allows you to create the ephemeris billet without using any elements.
  • You can also cheat by putting the polar oil on the debris outside the alien wreck without going through the window in the wreck. (You’ll still need to go there to get the fourth alien glyph to win.)
  • You can use Glass Permeability more than once in a run; just “perform glass” again and it’s ready to roll. Thus you can learn the Name of the Tortoise on the same run you first visit the alien wreck.

The rest is resource management and constraints.

Accessing dragons has these requirements:

  • Aistheta: (e o), free after Pneuma
  • Baros: (e f w), free after Syndesis; accessible for free from Pneuma after Baros
  • Pneuma: (e f o), free after Aistheta
  • Syndesis: (w o) or (a o), never free (this is why it’s impossible to win if you put the ballast in the Birdhouse Crawl)

So my path looks optimal to me (note that we’re using orichalcum in every round) under the following constraints:

  • You can’t win until you get the fourth glyph behind the alien window
  • You can’t get the fourth glyph until you’ve fixed Pneuma
  • You can’t fix a second dragon until you access an alien glyph and access the Chancel
  • You can’t fix your second dragon on the same round as you access the Chancel (due to orichalcum and/or water constraints)
  • You can’t access an alien glyph until you perform Vacuum Protection
  • You can’t perform Vacuum Protection or enter the Chancel until you’ve opened the Storage Nook hatch (it contains the Greater Phlogistical Saturation and the Fire Devourer)
  • You can’t open the Storage Nook hatch until you open the Deck Suite cabinet

It’s not totally clear to me that I’ve done “better” than @ReikoYukawa in this case, because I think Reiko decided not to “cheat” with the billet (or with the polar oil?).

I think the best you can do without the calyx cheat or the billet cheat is indeed 10 resets. Adding the constraints that you must perform the Tincture before Great Marriage, and learn Calyx after the fourth glyph:

  1. get air (o), open Medical Wing Cabinet (a), open Deck Suite Cabinet, perform Tincture (e f w)
  2. get air (o), Great Marriage (a e f w)
  3. open Storage Nook hatch (e o), Vacuum Protection, learn Tortoise, learn Radix, learn Caudex (m)
  4. fix Pneuma (e f o)
  5. learn Chi in Burning Hall East (f), get fourth glyph behind alien window (e o m)
  6. learn Calyx (m), enter Chancel (e f w o)
  7. access Pneuma (e f o), fix Aistheta (m)
  8. access Baros (e f w), fix Baros (m)
  9. diamond marble solvent, Yang Oil, fix Syndesis (w o m)
  10. perform Great Marriage in the Chancel (a e f w o m)

Speaking of reanimation, let me try to shove a homunculus in this thread.

In the intervening years since the game came out, has anyone found a way to complete the Chancel Marriage after putting the ballast in the Birdhouse Crawl? The guides and hints I have looked at have all said it was a bug, and fell back on the fact that the ballast can be put in any of the locations to unlock the “good ending” line. Was this ever confirmed by the author? It is certainly possible that the inaccessibility of the Birdhouse Crawl was an oversight, but but I do wonder if there is something more to it.

It strikes me that the tarnished pylons in the Birdhouse are the best fit for the ballast ritual, which is explicitly a modification of the Universal Tarnish Cleansing. Additionally, Syndesis is associated with the captain, the top of the Marcher’s hierarchy. Perhaps there is a “true ending” that has not yet been found?

Did the source code reveal anything interesting?

It was an oversight.


Came back to this game after however many years and finally finished; last time, out of all the things to get stuck on, I never figured out how to make and place the final fulcrum.

One thing I haven’t seen discussed here:

You have never practiced potion synthesis yourself. (They don’t let you poison people without a little more experience.) But you remember a lecturer mentioning that potions intended for human consumption are never made in the chymic retort; they’re not compatible with the Hermetic Sealing.

A POTION to RESIST FOREIGN AITHER: The most hostile lands are those where the very processes of life alter. This potion allows your body to adapt to these conditions – for a time. Like many life-sustaining concoctions, this begins with an exhilarant environment and a beaker of saline. Use the Hermetic sealing.

Two explanations come to mind: either there’s weird alien interference in the aither-resistance formula, or the whole point of this formula is to let the human body cope with things it’s normally not compatible with, so you might as well use the easiest sealing for chymical rituals, regardless of compatibility. I like the second one better.

Sadly, I haven’t found any way to actually perform this ritual in the retort—you need to put salt on the gestalt, and the retort doesn’t have one of those. (Also I’m not sure if I can reach inside to ignite the zafranum.) But it would be amusing if it were possible.

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I mean isn’t there a third, simpler possibility?

The potion really isn’t intended for human consumption; it’s just that you can consume it because you’re not human.

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True, but if I remember correctly, the aither-resistance potion was described as a standard tool for the Venture team. I need to restore an old save and find it again to get that message.

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I’m also now reading through all the discussions I can find online about this; ManxomeBromide’s LP is especially interesting because the players clearly know a lot more about real-world chemistry than I do.

In particular, they suggest that:

  • Zafranum is saffron (this is the one I’d figured out myself, given the Latin name)
  • Camphrost is camphor (similar name, also it sublimates)
  • Lubanja is gum turpentine (from Arabic luban jawi)
  • Moon-metal could be iridium or palladium? But iridium is much heavier than silver and palladium I’d think would be catalytic rather than lunar, since that’s what it’s primarily used for. I had previously suspected it was just phlogisticated silver (hence the alloy being “electrum”) but there’s also a very significant difference between phlogisticated and unphlogisticated electrum in the game.
  • Orichalcum is…well, they didn’t come to any conclusion but my personal theory again is phlogisticated copper. “Quick” here would be “good at reacting” like in quicklime rather than “fluid” like in quicksilver, and it’s referred to simply as “copper” several times in the game (e.g. copper percalcinate).
  • Rutilum is titanium (“rutile” is a name for titanium dioxide)
  • Bamuriatic acid is hydrofluoric acid (given how corrosive it is and how it’s made with fluorspar in vitriol)
  • The polar oil is a ferrofluid (this one’s pretty much stated outright in the game)

Are there any other correspondences between in-game materials and real-world chemicals that I’ve missed?


Didn’t see much discussion of it here, but the Hadean Lands source is now publicly available. Hadean Lands: The Source Code

I believe a few dozen “Heroes of the Dissolution” had access to the source code back in 2014, and I can’t tell whether any of those folks participated in this discussion thread; I didn’t have access to the source code until this week.

One of the things I made a beeline for was to see if there are any totally unheard of rituals in the code. I read through https://hadeanlands.com/src/HL%20Game%20Recipes.html#section_all_the_recipes and I didn’t see anything that stood out to me; all of those look familiar.

You might not be familiar with the variations on glass permeability, including aluminum permeability (“a charm to render aluminum permeable”), glass shattering (“a charm to shatter glass”), and aluminum shattering (“a charm to shatter aluminum”). AFAIK these have no practical uses for solving puzzles, but they are fun.

You might also enjoy The Characters https://hadeanlands.com/src/Story.html#chapter_the_characters where the various plot variations are clearly spelled out. As this code makes extremely clear, this game has no fixed plot. The “plot” changes drastically, based on which dragon you awaken, and whose shadows/characters you examine when.


Some would say it doesn’t have a plot at all!

This was simply because I assigned musical notes to different metals, and I wanted to give the player an extra chime to experiment with. The result was that I had to be very careful to never describe anything in the game as aluminum; it would have added a massive headache.

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I discovered them but thought they were useless, because there’s no aluminum and shattering glass just kills you. But looking at the source, it turns out that it’s only shattering Marcher glass that kills you; you can use the glass decoherence ritual to get through the window in the alien wreck. Which is neat!

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My favorite easter egg I never discovered in play is in Officer Country. The room description says it’s a good place to have tea; if you TAKE TEA, you’re told, of course, that there’s no tea there.



I have absolutely no memory of adding that one. Wow.


Incredible! But using the planetary lens is wayyyy better. (And it’s in the Deck Suite, not Officer Country.)


The no tea acquires a colorful fringe when viewed through the oculus, but its symbolic associations are not strong enough to visualize clearly.


You peer at the no tea through the lens, and perceive an association with a bowl of petunias and a sperm whale.


Ah, I had misremembered. That is indeed the interaction I meant.

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Felt like trying this today. This is fun.

Ruined Hallway

You press the chime against the window. The glass vibrates, and the bronze sinks slowly into it. The frequency of the vibration rises as you push. The glass seem to ripple – and then both the window and the chime collapse into a grainy dust, all at once.


You destroyed the bronze F-sharp chime in the window. You don’t know where to get another one.
(While trying to create the glass bypass.)


You climb through the broken window.

Ruined Chamber
This chamber is empty and derelict – cracked, crooked, uneven. The only exit is a dark gap to the east; you can’t tell if it’s the remains of a hallway or just a hole in the wall.

A wide trapezoidal window is set into the south wall, but the glass is gone.

A small knot of black marks is drawn on one wall.

This doesn’t help you solve the puzzle here, because the puzzle here is to have the F-sharp chime after performing the Aither-Resistance Synthesis, which requires saffron, but the easy way of getting the chime is to use the Metal Attractor, which also requires saffron. So you still have to go through the effort of increasing/decreasing the weight of the lead counterweight, bringing it to the slab, and grabbing the chime that way.

But still! Glass go boom!!

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